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Danse Macabre

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By the time Mikoto meets him, Totsuka Tatara has been dropped like a hot potato by not one but two whole sets of good-for-nothing parents, and has the carefully cultivated devil-may-care attitude to show for it. He's just about the least suitable person for a life in the streets, but the streets are all he has to go back to.

“I'll get you killed,” Mikoto warns him constantly in the beginning; this stupid kid with his little bird bones and sweet, careless smiles, following him around like a lost puppy.

“You're my best chance, King,” Totsuka tells him calmly, reasonably. “We both know it.”

That's the thing about Totsuka that might not be immediately apparent; he's kind and generous, sure, and beyond that he's merciless, stone cold cruel. He knows he's headed to an early grave, and he's decided to make said grave in Mikoto's life, in his bed, in the red-hot place in his chest where his fire burns the brightest. It takes Totsuka no time at all to make himself indisposable; Mikoto could sooner cut off his own arms than send him away despite knowing exactly how this story ends. They're that split second stretched into infinity just before a car crash; a murder-suicide in the making.

Totsuka laughs at him when he says this, of course, says, “If you must be morbid and depressing, King, at least call it a crime of passion.”

Mikoto doesn't feel very passionate. Mostly he just feels tired all the time, down to the marrow of his bones.

Besides being a ruthless killer, Totsuka is also a giant hypocrite. Or maybe he isn't; maybe Mikoto's the only one who can't see the difference between punching a guy and climbing into bed with a king to have him punch the guy for you. Sounds like a matter of semantics to him.

“When did I ever ask you to punch anyone?” Totsuka demands, mock offended.

Mikoto stares at him. It's hard to tell when Totsuka's joking, sometimes, seeing as how Totsuka's M.O. in life is to pretend to be oblivious to or unaffected by its more unpleasant realities. In this particular case: Mikoto would burn this fucking city to the ground for him in a heartbeat, and Totsuka must know that, surely. Right?

Sharing his power with Totsuka solves absolutely nothing. The firestorm inside him turns into a delicate flame in Totsuka's hands; precise and fantastical and absolutely useless in a fight.

“I don't know what you were expecting,” Totsuka tells him, laughing sheepishly.

With the exception of Anna—excused on the grounds of being a little kid—there isn't a soul in Homra who doesn't try to slip Totsuka a gun or a knife over the years. Totsuka laughs off these attempts, too, insists he'd just shoot himself in the foot and, “Where are those guns from, anyway? What is this, a yakuza movie?”

It isn't, but that doesn't stop Totsuka from getting shot on a rooftop, bleeding to death on Anna's birthday of all days like the overdramatic idiot he is. His last call isn't Mikoto, and Mikoto has the feeling Totsuka was trying to be considerate of his feelings for once, which would strike him as particularly hilarious under the circumstances if he could feel anything at all.

He sits with the body for hours—Totsuka died smiling, of course he did, though Mikoto wouldn't put it past him that he was trying to front up to his dying breath—and tries to summon—what, shock? He's been anticipating this moment for years. Grief? Mikoto's lost family before; grief really isn't the word. But then Totsuka wasn't really family so much as an integral part of him. There's more to the Red King than Mikoto; it's always been Totsuka's job to keep the flames at bay. With him gone, it doesn't take much to guess what—who—comes next.

“Mikoto, will you get revenge?” Anna asks him later, when all that's left of Totsuka are the drop of blood he's yet to incinerate and the obnoxious clutter that seemed to follow Totsuka everywhere he went; books and clothes, his guitar, that stupid fucking camera. Totsuka scattered songs and smiles and objets d'art in his wake with the desperate abandon of the walking dead, because he never really learned to trust any of them to remember him otherwise.

Mikoto smiles, amused despite himself.

“That's too nice a word for it,” he tells her, knowing full well she won't understand what he's getting at, not yet. “I'll just do whatever I want.”