(or – kansuke doesn't survive: the au, ft. red wall case)

Koumei wakes to a white ceiling and the rasp of smoke in his lungs.

He breathes in; it catches on a cough, stirs someone awake in the visitor's chair by his bed – Yui-san, he gathers by the quiet that follows, though he doesn't try looking over to check. No need to add nausea to the headache already building behind his eyelids.

Smoke inhalation. Carbon monoxide poisoning, his mind fills in only a little sluggishly. None of it particularly surprising, not least the figure who stands to move towards the head of the bed.

Yui props a pillow behind him at his nod, and sits back down while he tries to pretend that his vision isn't swimming, but at least he can see her now.

In a different world (a fairer one, perhaps, where the increasingly strident tones out in the hallway might simply be Kansuke-kun's loudly-asserted existence rather than a brewing argument between overtaxed visiting relatives) Yui would have greeted his waking with not-quite-frantic worry – careworn instead of careful, as she is now.

"How are you feeling?" she asks.

"Less than ideal," he answers, and gets a moment's faint smile in return, pointedly doesn't think about how long it's been since he last saw anything less fleeting, save the approachably warm one she gives their colleagues in the precinct.

(It isn't faked at all, he knows; she'd done the same back when she first got promoted to HQ, repairing bridges that Kansuke-kun had cheerfully stomped all over and he himself hadn't even bothered with.

But authenticity comes in many forms. Koumei doesn't remember the last time he heard her laugh.)

He's relieved when his next breath doesn't end in a cough. "Midorikawa?"

"In custody for assault, attempted murder of a police officer – arson too, most probably. I caught him on the way out," she explains, though he'd already surmised as much. "So you deciphered the dying message?"

He nods. Much good as it'll do now, though, with even the house itself burned to ashes. "I'd failed to sufficiently consider the fact that Akashi-san was both a chess player and a painter," he says slowly. "But it's hardly ironclad evidence, unless – have you found Shirou-san's handphone?"

"No, but there was a SD card hidden in his shoe. The photo and all the messages from Midorikawa-san were still on it," Yui answers, but for some reason she's gone the faintest red.

Koumei raises an eyebrow and waits.

Yui wilts – a rational choice, since he's always been the clear winner in patience between the thr-two of them – and adds, voice wandering up a register, "He… kind of confessed already, actually? I, um."

A second eyebrow joins the other even as Yui bites her lower lip, and he's about to say something along the lines of well done when Yui blurts out an apology instead.

He stares at her, utterly perplexed for the first time in this conversation.

(Shame you don't have a third eyebrow to raise, snarks a familiar voice in his head. Koumei ignores it.)

"I'm sorry," Yui says again, "I know you never really told everyone else about the – about how you saw Aoi-san's portrait burning in the lawn, but – "

Ah, he thinks, and he can picture it now: Midorikawa, already brittle from having been caught in (or right after) the act of destroying the last obvious evidence of it all, when Yui had gone and told him the one thing that rendered his entire motive moot. That would've been enough to push most people over the edge, even without Yui's tendency to transmute her worry into frustration.

Yui-san doesn't get angry often, but that only makes it altogether more terrifying when she does.

Koumei hasn't quite figured out if either one is something she'd picked up from Kansuke. (He supposes he never will, now.)

Either way – he shakes his head. "That's not something you need to apologise for, Yui-san. I'd likely have told him anyway, it was never meant to be a secret."

He'd told Yui, of course, and by extension Kansuke-kun, but that had been all. Akashi Shuusaku had clearly not cared for anyone else to know, after all, and Aoi-san would have understood that.

The thought flits across his mind, then: what if he had told them –

Koumei pushes the thought away; it is unwise to indulge in hypotheticals, in their profession, and he could hardly have predicted that Midorikawa would even think to do something so cruelly foolish. He hadn't, after all, even before that glimpse of wet paint still glimmering in the flames.

Instead he looks over at Yui in the visitor's chair, her posture caught somewhere between formality and what he supposes is simple relief mixed with a generous amount of exhaustion.

Judging by the light filtering in through the pithy squares of hospital room windows it is only early evening at best, but – well. Neither of them have ever taken their work lightly, and that has only been doubly true on this case, if anything.

Koumei doubts that Yui's slept much better than he has since they discovered that garish scene, even if he's fortunate to have her working the case beside him, rather than one of the unseasoned rookies.

(The voice in his head has taken on a distinctly infuriated quality by this point in his observations. Koumei simply ignores it harder.

As if Kansuke himself hadn't been one to work just as hard when occasion – or his own wilfulness – demanded it, the hypocrite.)

The slight startled jerk of Yui's hand when he reaches for it only serves to further emphasise the fact. He wonders if she's even noticed the streak of soot still on her face.

"Go home and rest, Yui-san. I assume that you've completed most of the arrest paperwork," he conjectures, fairly certain even before she nods. "The rest of it can wait until the day after."

"The day aft– but it's only Tuesday!" she exclaims with a frown, though at least she doesn't protest the rest of it.

"And I'm certain that you didn't walk into a burning building without any repercussions to your health," Koumei says flatly, but softens it with, "Which I haven't thanked you for, by the way, and it would be remiss if I returned the favour by having you work tomorrow. Take the day off, Yui-san."

"I – okay, fine," she huffs, relenting. "But only tomorrow, and only because I assume you'll be resting tomorrow as well. Right, Morofushi-keibu?"

Koumei, at least, has sufficient self-awareness to wonder if she picked up those workaholic tendencies from him.

Or maybe just the dry sarcasm. Either seems equally plausible.

"If the doctor says so," he hedges, already resigned to spending tomorrow under scrutiny. There are worse things, he decides, though hopefully it'll at least be somewhere more pleasant than the hospital.

"They will, don't worry," Yui retorts with a withering glance which suggests that she will ensure it herself if need be. "I'll tell Hisakawa-kun that he's in charge tomorrow – I'm sure the precinct will be overjoyed to hear the news."

He grimaces at that (his relations with the rest of the Arano office might have improved since Yui's reinstatement, yes, but that still doesn't mean he trusts them not to err on basic protocol) as he watches Yui stand and return the folding chair to its place against the wall, which is why he notices when she hesitates.

Koumei only considers not asking for the briefest moment; the imaginary voice of Yamato Kansuke in his head glares at him for it anyway. "Was there something else, Yui-san?"

Yui uncurls her grip on the scuffed plastic back but doesn't look at him. "Just – please be more careful? I don't know what I'd do if…" she trails off with a slight shake of her head and moves to the door. "Never mind. Good night, Morofushi-keibu."

"Good night," he echoes belatedly to an empty room, because he refuses to make empty promises, but the soot grey against Yui's pale face flashes before his eyes every time he blinks.

And you called me reckless? demands a rhetorical voice in his head.

Koumei ignores it, and tries to fall asleep.

(If he dreams that night he doesn't remember it, which is just as well, all told.)




yui arrives at the mansion earlier because there's no need to explain things to kogoro co. (who don't appear to begin with) but as a corollary she ends up taking down the culprit red-handed ha ha which delays her running into the literALLY BURNING HOUSE, because irony.

there's a lot more pain where this came from but also: talk to me about how neither of them being quite willing to work alone anymore (above case notwithstanding) because of this constant niggling irrational fear that someone will just. never come back. among other things

(this is actually not the first chronological part but also part 1 aka furinkazan au is refusing to cooperate after tripling in length so have it anyway)

((also i was going to say that deadsuke au is bad end!naganos for me but actually it isn't. nope, that's the one where yui dies and neither of them ever forgives themselves for it 8D anyway))