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Endou leapt out of his skin when a big hand gripped his shoulder. 

"I don't want to do this, Endou." Kurosaki's tone was dark.

"You don't have to?" Endou whispered. His head looked at his feet, face frozen in fear.

Endou sat on Kurosaki's couch in his office, hands on his knees. Kurosaki's office was unchanged from the time Tonegawa held this room. Endou wished his old boss was here too.

Kurosaki paced slowly behind the couch. The sunset poured through the blinds forming stark lines of light and dark against them, the desk by the window appeared black against the light. The back of the chair was facing towards the office.

"Two of Kaiji's helpers are out of the country now. We're not getting back the money they took with them."

Endou tried to swallow but his throat was dry. He looked blankly to the floor, his body frozen. Inside his head, thoughts stewed he wouldn't dare repeat out loud.

I had Kaiji right where I wanted him! He was right in front of me! That sneaky shit! He tricked me! A rat until the very end! Endou internally groaned. Teiai these days has nothing but useless yes-men! Back in my day, we were all leaders! Now they can't do anything without someone telling them what to do! It's not my fault they kept hanging on my every word before moving in! 

"It's your fault," Kurosaki said as if reading Endou’s mind. "We couldn't capture Mario at the shopping center."

Endou could feel Kurosaki's breath on the back of his neck, making the hairs stand on end. 

"I'm sure you understand you have to be punished before we let you go, right? It's in the contract you signed."

Endou clenched his eyes shut, gripped his knees even tighter to prevent them from knocking into each other. 

“We gave you a job and you failed.”

Kurosaki leaned back up muttering, "It's a shame. I had plans to invite you on a road trip this summer."

Endou didn't hear him. I'm going to be mutilated! Tortured! Why can't I think of any way to get out of this! I can't even move!

Endou's sweat fell from his face and made patterns on his pant legs. My plan was perfect! If we caught Mario then, Kaiji and Chang would have gotten away! There was no other choice! Why am I the scapegoat here?!

The silence was broken with the sound of a zippo lighter being snapped shut, making both Endou and Kurosaki twitch. The quiet flick of the lid opening, then shut again followed. Endou dared not to look towards the sound coming from the desk hidden in shadow by the window wall.

Kurosaki straightened up. "Forgive me, I'll bring Kaiji in now."

Kurosaki nodded to a black suit by the door, who quickly left the room.

The sound-proof walls prevented the racket being made until the door creaked open and then slammed against its hinges when Kaiji smashed a black suit into it.

Endou could hear swears and Kaiji grunting as he was being beaten down. He wanted to turn his head to look, but his head was still locked towards his feet.

Serves you right, dipshit. At least I know my place.

Kaiji was pushed onto the couch opposite Endou, a low table separating them. Endou darted his eyes up to shoot daggers into Kaiji's eyes, but shuddered when Kaiji was already staring him down. His hands were tied behind him.

Endou gripped his knees. This is all your fault!

Endou thought back to when he had Kaiji cornered by himself. They were both swinging, wearing each other down while yelling obscenities.

“I knew you were always a snake, Kaiji!”

Kaiji staggered back. 

“You were the one who took advantage of me!” 

His fist lunged towards Endou’s face but he weaved to the side to avoid it. “Stealing my pachinko winnings!”

Endou caught his wrist when he pulled it back. 

“You’re still mad about that?” Endou charged Kaiji into the wall, causing him to cry out. 

“I told you from the beginning,” Endou hissed into Kaiji’s ear. 

“I wanted my fair share and you talked me out of it. I did what I had to do to get my money.” 

Kaiji shoved Endou away from him. “What you wanted was unfair and you know it.” he growled. “I had to save my group and make sure Sakazaki got his fair share of the work too!”

Endou stayed put. “Oh, fuck off! I had people to pay too.”

Sensing no movement from Endou, Kaiji relaxed a bit. He scoffed loudly, slapping a hand on his thigh in disbelief. Endou scoffed back mockingly. 

“Did you forget? I believed in you! I really did! You hooked me with your sweet words! So much so, if things did go south…” He paused, letting a chill run down his spine. 

“...I was prepared to go underground with you!” 

Endou sputtered, “And you better believe I was gonna get my three beers too.”

Kaiji’s eyes went wide.

Endou leapt back into Kaiji, pressing his forearm across his chest. He looked straight into Kaiji’s eyes. 

“Before, I believed in you. This right now,” he shuffled to keep hold. “It's just business, Kaiji.” 

Kaiji’s face softened. “You…”

Yelling from a distance interrupted them. Teiai’s black suits were closing in.

As Endou turned his head back to smirk, the last thing he saw before blacking out was Kaiji’s forehead connecting with his.

 

Back in the office, Kaiji tried to lunge forward towards Kurosaki but the suits held him down on the couch. 

"I won it fair and square! You have no right to take it away!"

Kurosaki wasn't having any of it, walking towards Kaiji defiantly. 

"It’s Teiai's money. The only thing that's keeping you from going underground now and forever is that we'll recover as much as we can from your cohorts first. And you'll get it back to us, one way or another."

"Like Hell! I won it from Kazuya! If he had a shred of integrity he’d tell you that too!"

Kurosaki glanced at the desk but his eyes darted back to Kaiji. “Enough!”

Kurosaki was visibly annoyed. He looked down to Endou. “Get this sad sack out of here. He’ll get his punishment later.”

Kaiji stopped thrashing to look at them in confusion. Endou sat straight up, quickly twisting his body to face Kurosaki. 

“General Manager, sir!” 

Like at the Bog, two suits forced Endou to stand and try to pull him away from the couch. Endou, his mind flooding with all sorts of torture, couldn’t walk on his own. He hoped his weight would make him stay seated.

Instead of thinking about the words all of them fell out of his mouth. 

“Please, this isn’t my fault! I can still find the money that was taken! I can do it! Just give me more time! I…I can even pay back my wages!”

Kurosaki sighed. He tried to hold back the pity he felt as he flatly explained. “You didn’t even capture Kaiji. From what a little birdie has told me, all you’ve done was muck up every chance we’ve had.” 

“Useless.” Kurosaki shooed him away.

“No, I…!” 

Endou couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Did those ratty subordinates really say that? His mind was running a mile a minute, he couldn’t even bring up the thought it was the terrible men he was assigned during this whole operation. It’s not my fault!

The struggling suits dragged Endou to the door when a sharp “Stop!” rang out.

Kaiji was hunched over, his torso on his knees from the suits trying to hold him in place on the couch. 

“Let’s play a game, Kurosaki! To settle the money once and for all! And if I win…” Kaiji as best he could motioned towards Endou.

“You leave him alone.”

“You can’t be serious.” Kurosaki did not entertain the ludicrous idea. 

Endou entertained the great idea immediately. 

“Kaiji…” he pathetically squeaked out, looking back.

Endou felt calm enough to stand up on his own thanks to Kaiji’s words pausing the situation. What is he playing at? How do I fit into whatever the Hell he’s planning? A thought popped in his head. I heard he used his cohorts as a wager in the gamble with Kazuya… Endou gritted his teeth. Is that this bastard’s intent…? There’s no way he’s doing this out of the kindness in his heart! No way!

Kaiji noticed Endou was looking at him and gave him a confident nod. Endou’s body tightened up. What the Hell was that?

His thought was interrupted by the desk’s chair pushed back so hard it banged against the back wall. A voice familiar to Kaiji spoke.

"You're gonna save that guy? After all this time? After what he's done? How saintly of you, Kaiji."

It was Kazuya. He fidgeted with his zippo lighter, clacking the lid in quick succession. “At Teiai…” 

He grimaced. “We gotta take our own responsibilities seriously. If you fuck up, you better fix it.” 

Kazuya frowned. “...And if you can’t fix it, you better believe you’re gonna make up for it.”

He approached Kaiji. Kazuya could barely control his anger, tightening his fists to keep them from shaking. "I'm going to prove your savior complex really fucked you over this time."

He kicked the low table aside so he could loom over Kaiji. The light on the top of his head, the dark shadow covering his face. His glasses caught the light, shining brightly. "Forget Kurosaki. You and I will have one last game. To get my money back. And I’ll let you wager that piece of shit over there too."

Endou released a noise that could be mistaken as either being grateful or full of dread. A memory of the Bog creeped into his brain: his arms wrapped around Kaiji holding onto for dear life, willing him to beat the machine. With that image, he didn’t put it into thought—he wouldn’t allow it! But deep in his consciousness was a feeling that believed Kaiji was doing this for him.