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Chapter Text

Himuro stares up into the sky. Above him, floating down like angels – angels of death, five figures in dark cloaks alights in front of him. The one directly in front of him is a hard-faced woman in an incongruous black top hat. Behind her towers three gigantic figures indistinguishable in their cloaks. Himuro wonders if they're even human.

The tallest of the towering figures flip back the hood of his cloak, showing that he – or his face at least – is no different from a human's. "Hey~ You just came out of that train, didn't you?"

Himuro keeps silent, looking at them appraisingly. Saying he came out of the train isn't exactly wrong; but it would be more precise to say he fell out of it – making a running jump through a window one of the guards had carelessly left open and fully expecting to fall to his death. He still can't quite believe he is alive.

A smaller figure, that had been overshadowed by the others, makes his presence known by sinking an elbow into the side of the tallest one. "Isn't there something you're supposed to do first, before you start asking questions?"

"Ah," the figure replied unconcernedly. He doesn't even seem to notice the elbow.

The hard-faced woman steps forward, sweeping her hat off in a gallant bow that is ruined by her no-nonsense expression. Unbidden, Himuro's gaze is caught by the glint of metal on one arm. So that's how it is. "I am the Captain of Circus's Sixth Ship, Araki Masako."

"I'm a Fighter of the Sixth Ship, Murasakibara Atsushi," the only cloaked figure that had flipped back their hood drawls out lazily, pointing a large finger at his own chest.

The smallest figure besides Araki flips back their hood as well, "I'm Fukui Kensuke, also a Fighter for Circus."

The final two cloaked figures finally reveal themselves as well, introducing themselves as "Liu Wei," and "Okamura Kenichi."

"We have reason to believe that train you were on belongs to Kafka," Araki says grimly. "Are you a member of Kafka?"

"Not anymore," Himuro says firmly, and then realises what he just said. "I'm not with them. I'm not with them anymore." It is pathetic how much that little fact makes him want to cry.

Araki's expression softens infinitesimally. "Would you like to come with us? We would like to ask you some questions regarding Kafka. And we can protect you from them as well."

Himuro looks over at the train vanishing into the distance. Nijimura is still on there, distracting the guards to give Himuro a chance to get away. "Yes. There's someone I'm looking for. I believe he may be in your – in Circus's – custody already." There's nothing Himuro can do for Nijimura right now.

Chapter Text

Circus is a mob of freaks and nuisances. Murasakibara knows this fact too well, having been a part of Circus for more than three years. And yet, despite his long, long history dealing with troublesome people, Murasakibara finds himself admitting defeat. Himuro Tatsuya, the unofficial prisoner they had picked up jumping from a Kafka train, is the most troublesome person Murasakibara has ever had the misfortune to meet. And he used to be assigned to the same ship as the top four most troublesome people of all of Circus. There was a poll.

It has been a long week since Circus’s Sixth Ship, nicknamed Yousen, was officially put in charge of their only lead on Kafka at the moment. For some reason, Murasakibara is responsible for dealing with him; according to Captain Araki this is because Himuro was noticeably more open around him. Murasakibara has seen no such openings and suspects it is just Araki making the newbie deal with the worst mess. Murasakibara has been with Circus longer than Liu, but his time on the Sixth Ship amounts to less than a month.

But for all of Murasakibara’s faults, he knows to obey orders. He may complain, he may twist the meaning of those orders, but he knows not to disobey. Never again.

Which is why he has dragged himself out of bed early today. Because Himuro always wakes early to use the training room. He had made sure to question the Sixth Ship’s mechanical miniature bears thoroughly on Himuro’s daily routines beforehand.

Grabbing a plate of baked goods from the dining room, Murasakibara silently opens the door to the training room, only to freeze with the door half open. On the other side is Himuro; but what he’s doing can’t be called fighting – it’s nothing like the practice forms Murasakibara learned from Circus – it’s like a dance. Beautiful. And deadly, Murasakibara amends, taking in the crispness of his movements. Just like Himuro then.

Murasakibara makes himself comfortable on the floor beside the door. Making sure not to make a sound and distract Himuro as he does so. Leaning back against the wall, he blindly picks something up from the plate and shoves it into his mouth, not taking his eyes off Himuro’s movements as the other punched and kicked his way through imaginary opponents. Sweetness bursts onto his tongue and Murasakibara doesn’t even notice.

Of the things Murasakibara knows about Himuro: that he is annoying, that he is negative, that he is afraid of Kafka – afraid for the people dear to him, this is the first time he looks at Himuro and thinks: so there is more to him than his masks.

Murasakibara has an unfortunate tendency to be interested in dangerous people that is bad for him. He’s self-aware enough to know that about himself. And self-aware enough to realise that Araki arranged this on purpose.

This is going to be very troublesome. At least he’s pretty.