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The Smiling Illusion

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Taiga looked at the activity outside his window, his fingers slipping down the blinds with careless ease. It was hard to believe that the world was now Fangire-run, thanks to a group of daring young Fangire that had come up with the plan to bring the humans under Fangire control. Now Fangire didn't have to sulk around to hunt, they could do it in the open, and any human that dared resist would come to an end.

Taiga would handle those who dared try to make technology that would allow humans to surpass Fangire; his fiancee and Queen, Mio, would do the same for those who dared love humans. Mio was a little new at her job, but she would do it well; he had confidence in her.

Thinking of Mio made him think of a grimmer topic. His kind had executed all that dared rise against the Fangire; the only ones left in the prison were his brother and several IXA wielders that Taiga wasn't ready to execute yet. He wanted Wataru to stop rebelling against him; he wanted Wataru to realize what he truly was. He might have been born handicapped thanks to his human blood, but somewhere inside him, Wataru surely knew what he was.

And Wataru was a good person. He would see sense, eventually.

What if he could control Wataru, at least at the start? Hold him tight until Wataru understood? Make sure his little brother was safe, the way that he should be, under Taiga's protection?

Taiga smiled. He finally had a use for those IXA users.

* * *

"What do you mean, Nii-san?" Wataru asked, staring at his older brother. At the moment, his older brother was very much the Fangire King. Protecting his people.

"It's simple," Taiga said. "You can't go around attacking innocent Fangire anymore, Wataru." He leaned forward from where he was standing. Wataru himself had been cuffed to the chair. "These are your own people."

The Fangire had never been his own people, but he didn't tell his older brother that. Taiga might try to convince him that he was wrong... or he might execute him on the spot.

"But I know you don't understand that," his older brother said, "So I'll just have to make you see."

Wataru shivered a little at the words. Taiga could be that way, obsessed with how things should be. It was probably why he was still alive.

"I'll make you a bargain," Taiga said, sitting down. "You be the younger brother I want you to be, and I'll spare your life and the life of your friends down in the cells."

"What do you mean, Nii-san?" Wataru asked, still shivering. "Be the younger brother you want me to be?"

"It's very simple," Taiga said, staring at him intently. "I want you safe and to stay out of trouble. That means no more changing into Kiva except under my supervision for the benefit of the Fangire. No going off without my permission. You'll live in my home, and you'll be working at Development and Pioneer. I want to be able to assure people that you're no longer a danger to the Fangire. Understand, Wataru?"

So, he'd be a prisoner, still, but under Taiga's watchful gaze. "What kind of job?" he asked.

"I'll think of something," his older brother said dismissively. "Don't worry about it. I just want you to stop rebelling. And if I have to hold the threat of execution over your head, so be it." He looked at Wataru. "These people are still a threat to me. I'd be more than happy to execute them, Wataru, but I want to give you a chance."

He wanted Nago-san and Kengo-san and Megumi-san and even Shima-san to live, so he bowed his head. "Yes, Nii-san."

"Good," Taiga said, satisfaction in his voice. He picked up the keys to Wataru's cuffs. "Let's get you out of those. We have a lot to do."

* * *

Taiga stood at the entrance to the workshop at Wataru's house - soon to be on the market as soon as he could manage. The money would go into a fund for Wataru; it was the family house, after all. "I can't fit your entire house in," he said, "But I can let you have your violin workshop - after all, it wouldn't be that hard to track your friends down if you try to kill me."

He hated the emphasis on the killing. Not that he would be too sorry to see the IXA users go, their only use providing food for the Fangire, but he wanted to give Wataru a chance. There were still those who called for his death, royal blood or no royal blood.

Of course, some of those had demanded that the execution be held after Wataru got a couple of girls pregnant - couldn't waste royal DNA, after all - but they'd still called for Wataru's death.

He had to get Wataru to the point where he wouldn't be a threat and so they'd stop calling for his death. And it would take Wataru some time to get there.

"Um." Wataru moved around the workshop. "This is built in, and this is built-in, but the table can be moved, and some of these could be taken off the walls...." He seemed so absorbed in trying to figure out what to pack that Taiga had to smile. This was how things should be, and he'd make sure they'd stay that way.

They eventually moved downstairs. "I guess I don't have to keep the table, but I'd like to keep the bed...." he said, looking at Taiga.

"Then you can," Taiga said, smiling. "I'll get you a nice dresser for your clothes, not like that under your bed." Of course, eventually Wataru would probably want something bigger, but Taiga was willing to humor him at the moment. Someday, Wataru would need to marry and have children, continuing his bloodline, and he'd definitely need a bigger bed then.

He wished he'd thought to bring something to tag for the movers, but he'd deal with that later. He'd just wanted to see what he could fit it - which, from the looks of things, was mostly Wataru's workshop. The bed was simple, Wataru didn't really need his tiny kitchen, and he didn't seem to have that many personal things. It was likely that the biggest headache would be the workshop table, Wataru's bed, and maybe the clothes.

"Nii-san," Wataru said, stopping finally as he emerged the bathroom, "I...."

"You what, Wataru? I assure you, I want you to be happy." He wanted his little brother to love him and not rebel, and while he was sure Wataru loved him, he was still rebellious. "You like to work on violins. It makes you happy. Therefore, you can continue doing that in your spare time. I want you to be surrounded by your own things. You might be under my supervision, Wataru, but I don't want you to feel like you have to leave your own things behind."

It was a good speech, he reflected, getting across to his little brother that his little brother's happiness was important to him.

"Nii-san," Wataru breathed, and Taiga was happy to see that he was staring at his house as if he couldn't believe he was being allowed to keep his things.

"I think we can get everything you mentioned either into your bedroom or your workroom," Taiga said. "It's not a bit deal, Wataru, not for you."

Wataru nodded, a bit shakily. Taiga stepped forward to hug him, trying to assure Wataru that he loved him and that they'd be together for the rest of their lives. He'd had a talk with Dr. Takada; when Bishop had awakened Wataru's blood, he'd started aging as a Fangire instead of a human, which cheered Taiga immensely. Perhaps time would cure Wataru of his affection towards humans.

Which of course, reminded him of what they had to do next. "I scheduled you an appointment with the nutritionist." They'd have a good idea of what diet Wataru needed to be on. If it was solid food, Taiga would live with that, but he hoped that Wataru did need at least some Life Energy. It would be so much better if he adapted to an all-energy diet. "You'll see Dr. Takada too in the next few days. I want to make sure you're all right."

"I am all right," Wataru protested, like a little boy hoping to fool his parents. Taiga wouldn't be convinced his younger brother was all right until the doctors had a look at him... and could tell Taiga how to make him more Fangire.

"You'll see the doctors and put my mind at ease." Right now, it was important to emphasize his control over Wataru; relaxing it could come later.

"Yes, Nii-san," Wataru said reluctantly.

"I know you don't like doctors, but...." He'd had a good word with Dr. Takada and his staff and knew how Wataru reacted. "It's for your own good. But let's go back to Development and Pioneer; you have some paperwork to sign."

"Paperwork, Nii-san?" Wataru asked, sounding a bit dazed. Taiga made a note to have the in-house doctor have a look at Wataru when they got back. Hopefully he was all right.

"Of course," he said. "I figured out what you'll do at Development and Pioneer. You'll be my personal assistant." That would keep Wataru close to him. And the Fangire staff of the company would surely come to love Wataru as much as he did. "You owe me for killing my last one, anyway."

Wataru cringed visibly. "Yes, Nii-san."

"Don't worry," Taiga said, hugging him. "Everything will be okay, Wataru, you'll see."

* * *

The rest of the day had passed in a daze for Wataru. He'd been cuffed to a chair again, after Taiga had made sure he'd gone to the bathroom. Taiga had ordered some food brought up before he left to talk to HR; he'd left Wataru's phone with Wataru just in case something happened.

And then Taiga had come back with someone in HR, who had brought the paperwork to make Wataru an official employee of Development and Pioneer. Wataru had been uncuffed to stamp the paperwork. Then the HR person had given him a nervous bow before leaving Taiga and Wataru alone. "You'll like it here," Taiga enthused as he took Wataru to what had been the Fangire private staff room before the staff had been switched to all-Fangire. There were some staffers in there, and Taiga greeted them, introducing Wataru to them. Wataru didn't remember any of their names at all.

After work, Taiga had taken him to a restaurant, where Mio-san had been waiting. Taiga had greeted her with a hug before seating Wataru at the table. "I'm so glad to have you both with me," he'd said. "I'm sure Mio is tired. How did your day go, beloved?"

"I did what I had to do," Mio-san said, casting her eyes down. She'd confided to Wataru on how much she hated her job duties, and he couldn't help but feel sorry for her.

"You're getting better and better," Taiga responded in turn. "See, I knew you could do it. You've been growing into Queen more and more." He took her hand. "And soon, we can get married, Mio. Now that Wataru is safe, we can finally be joined as King and Queen were meant to be."

"I... I guess we can," Mio-san said, still looking at the table. "Since Wataru-san is here now."

"We can have the ceremony - it's always done in private, Wataru - and then we can have a public ceremony. There are lots of people wanting to see the marriage of the Fangire King and Queen. They might even broadcast it on television!"

Wataru's heart went out to Mio as he saw her trying not to cry.

And then, because he had no bed and Taiga had not set up a spare bedroom, he spent the night in Taiga's bed. "I'll get your bed over here as soon as possible, I promise."

Wataru had been so tired he hadn't cared that he'd been sharing a bed with Taiga.

* * *

The next few days had been similar blurs. From moving his things to Taiga's penthouse, to learning his job duties at Development and Pioneer, to having dinners and lunches with Taiga and Mio. Every day he saw Mio become sadder and sadder, and yet he couldn't have a private moment with her; Taiga was always with him, or with her, or both.

He'd visited his doctor, Dr. Takeda, and the nutritionist, Dr. Mori. He'd been told he was in good health, but he needed more energy intake, something that had made him cringe, especially as Taiga had agreed. Dr. Mori had asked him if he knew how to draw out his fangs, and after he'd said no, she'd taught him.

Taiga had beamed in pride. "You're becoming a real Fangire!" he'd said, hugging him, and treated him to his favorite human meal, followed by a jogger that he caught on the way home.

Wataru had immediately retired to his workroom to play the Bloody Rose. He occasionally heard it sing, but there was little to do but shake his head and ignore it, hoping that if Taiga didn't know that the Bloody Rose called him, he wouldn't order it destroyed. He'd passed it off as a headache each time, wincing when Taiga had suggested sending him back to Dr. Takada.

* * *

Taiga was pleased with Wataru's progress. It seemed his brother was adapting well to being under Taiga's protection, and as the staff got to know him, they were beginning to see how sweet and nice Wataru was.

He and Wataru rode together to work every day. And Wataru was a little bit unused to being a personal assistant, but that was okay. His little brother would grow into it. And it kept Wataru close.

His cellphone rang, and he saw who it was. "Hello, Mio," he said, answering the phone. It was always nice to hear her voice. She was such a sweetheart. And she was doing better and better... in fact, ever since he'd taken Wataru under his wings, her skills had developed by leaps and bounds. Mio and Wataru seemed to do well together, and he was glad that they got to be together in at least some way, after what had happened. "How are you?"

"I'm okay," she said. "Can you and Wataru-san go to the restaurant that we always go to? For lunch, I mean?"

"I can't," he said regretfully. Spending time with his fiancee was always a delight, but he couldn't, this time. "I have a meeting."

"And Wataru-san?" she asked hopefully. Yes, they really did do well together.

"Wataru's free," he admitted. He didn't really want Wataru out of his sight, but Wataru had been working hard and still had to eat, so he probably should let his younger brother go out. After all, Mio would protect Wataru just like he would. "I'm sure he'd love to go have lunch with you." One lunch would be okay. Wataru did need to eat.

"That would be great," Mio replied, and he smiled at the eagerness in her voice. "Do we need to hunt after that?"

"Wataru could always use practice hunting," Taiga said. "Just... be careful. There are some people who don't approve of him."

"I'll defend him," she promised. "And... maybe if you gave him permission to use Kiva if something happens?"

He nodded, despite the fact that she couldn't see him. "That would be a good idea." Hopefully Wataru wouldn't abuse it.

"Then, I'll meet Wataru where?" she asked.

"I'll instruct the receptionist to send you to his office," he said. "Be careful, Mio."

"I will," she promised. "I'll... see you sometime, Taiga?" She was getting better at dropping the honorific off his name. He was proud of that, too.

"I'll see you as soon as possible," he promised back. "Take good care of Wataru."

"I will." With that, she closed the connection. Taiga regretted not meeting them for lunch, but at least Wataru would be under supervision.

Keeping that in mind, he left instructions with the receptionist and then went to tell Wataru.

* * *

Wataru didn't mind being away from Taiga for once. It seemed like any time he and Mio-san were together, Taiga had to be there too. He hadn't had much time alone - only a few moments - since he'd been put under Taiga's supervision.

So, when Mio-san came to take him to the restaurant, he was very relieved. He could finally talk to Mio-san without fear of being overheard by Taiga.

"Mio-san, are you all right?" he asked, once the waiter had taken their orders in their small private room.

"I'm okay," she said, looking at him in surprise, as if she wasn't sure why he'd even ask. But he could tell that she wasn't all right. She looked tired and worn, and he knew she didn't like what she had to do.

"No, you're not," Wataru said, taking her hand. "This is tiring you out, I can tell."

She looked down at the table. "I'm doing my duties as Queen, as is expected of me."

Which meant that she was slowly dying inside. Wataru leaned forward, squeezing her hand. "Mio-san is not just Queen."

"I have to be Queen." She looked at him as one of the waiters entered with drinks. "But I want to be with Wataru-san. Because Wataru-san knows me better."

"But Mio-san is Queen," Wataru said. "You have to be with Nii-san. I wish we could be together, but...."

As the waiter finished pouring, Mio said, "I wish you had killed him like I asked you to."

Wataru watched the waiter leave, and then shook his head. "I would never kill Nii-san. Never."

"I know," she said. "If you would have, you wouldn't have been Wataru. But I still wish you would have, so that you would be King. The world shouldn't be like this." She wiped away a tear with her free hand. "Taiga's gotten us PR specialists. They're talking about magazine interviews and photoshoots and everything. I don't want to be like that. I don't want to be known as the Queen."

"Mio-san will live through it, because Mio-san is Mio-san." Wataru let go of her hand. "And Mio-san has strength as Queen."

"I'm not sure," Mio-san said. "I wish I could break down and cry more. I can't do it in front of Taiga, I can't do it in front of the cameras, the only place I have to break down and cry is my apartment... and when Taiga and I get married, I lose that, too." She sniffled. "You should have killed him, Wataru. The world - your life - would have been the better for it."

"I could never kill Nii-san," Wataru said firmly. "Don't even think about it."

Mio-san sniffled as the food came in, wiping her tears quickly away so that the waiters didn't see it.

* * *

The two of them walked back through the park on the way to Development and Pioneer. Mio had to admit that she enjoyed being alone with Wataru. He was a lot like her, but more courageous. If she'd had her choice, she would have spent her life with him, and not as his sister-in-law.

But that was gone now, just as she'd lost the Bobtail form she'd grown up with in favor of the Queen's Pearlshell.

She'd have to let him go at Development and Pioneer so that he could do his job. Technically, he was still a prisoner; she was aware of the controversy over him, and hoped that people would come to see Wataru as she saw him.

Suddenly, a Fangire - two Fangire - appeared out of the bushes. "Traitor Queen," one intoned. "And the halfbreed prince. Your days of treachery are over! You shall die for what you plan to do to the King!"

"Mio-san," Wataru-san said, as if to boost her courage. She took a deep breath.

"I think this is an emergency," she said, knowing that would allow him to assume Kiva. She didn't like fighting, but she knew she could do it with Wataru by her side. Taiga entrusted her with Wataru's care and she wasn't going to disappoint him.

"Right. Kivat! Tatsulot!" Without looking at him, she knew that he was calling his partners. "Henshin!"

She slid into her own form - the one that had been forced on her by her title. This was how things should be, them together, just not in these circumstances.

The second Fangire charged at her. The first one charged at Wataru. She formed her crown, attacked him, and he blew up easily. The second one, Wataru dispatched just as easily.

"Is Mio-san okay?" Wataru asked, not dropping the armor. That was wise of him. If there were going to be more attackers, then it was best not to let their guard down. But after a few more minutes, none appeared.

Mio finally relaxed back to her human form, seeing Wataru do the same. "Im okay."

"We... should get back to Development and Pioneer," Wataru said. "Before Nii-san wonders what happened to us."

Mio nodded. She didn't want to tell the King that someone had attacked Wataru and herself. He might not let them out by themselves again. "We should."

Wataru-san smiled weakly at Mio, and she smiled back.

* * *

Taiga met the two of them as they returned back to Wataru's office. "Did you have a good lunch?" he asked. The two of them were smiling, so they must have, but he asked anyway.

"We did," Wataru said, smiling at Mio.

"We're sorry you had to miss it, Taiga," Mio said, ducking in that bashful way of hers.

"Just as long as you enjoyed yourselves," Taiga said. He'd definitely have to let them go out more often; it did both of them some good.

"We did, Nii-san," Wataru assured him.

Taiga hugged them both. "That's good." He'd worried throughout the meeting, but it seemed like everything had gone fine. His baby brother and his Queen were fine. He should stop worrying so much.

Hugging them one more time, he went into the office.