Chapter 14

Ryoma spent the night at Fuji’s again. He’d called his dad to tell him, but hadn’t mentioned what was going on with Rick. There was no reason to worry his dad about a situation that was firmly under control. He glanced nervously at Fuji, who was checking on the cacti. He’d told him he trusted him, but knives…he suppressed a shudder. His fear of them wasn’t unfounded. A few years back, he’d watched two friends get in a fight. one had pulled a knife and the other hadn’t been quick enough. He’d bled out before the ambulance got there.

Ryoma swallowed. Ever since that day, he’d been afraid of knives. And then Rick…Rick had chained him down so he couldn’t get away and carved patterns all over him. He’d been absurdly, ridiculously grateful that those chains prevented him from moving. If they’d been loose, he would’ve thrashed like mad to get away. Rick had induced a panic attack in him and then laughed, ignoring it, as he did what he wanted.

He took a few deep breaths, trying to regain his composure. He could not walk into that hotel room acting terrified. He would not give Rick the pleasure of seeing him play victim. Never again.

Fuji focused his attention on the cacti while thinking about Ryoma and what he was going to be forced to do. Knives. While the idea held a certain appeal, he’d seen the sheer terror in Ryoma’s eyes. The fear. If he’d seen that look in Rick’s eyes, he wouldn’t have hesitated in exploiting it. Rick had hurt someone important to him-he deserved to be afraid. But Ryoma-Ryoma hadn’t hurt anyone. He was cocky and rash and a bit antisocial, but he’d never hurt anyone. That fear didn’t belong in his eyes.

But Ryoma had chosen this path for them. Fuji would use a knife. But it wouldn’t be the way Rick had used it. He wouldn’t terrify Ryoma. He’d never do that. When the two of them had gotten home, he’d done some research. Knife play didn’t have to be cruel-in fact, it wasn’t meant to be. While Ryoma was asleep, Fuji had left the house to get the type of knife recommended for play. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it right.

Finished with the cacti, he turned to Ryoma, who was dressed in a white tee and blue shorts. Fuji had to fight the urge to throw him down and ravish him-they had an appointment to keep. “You ready?” he asked instead.

Ryoma’s normally vibrant golden eyes had faded to a dull brown. In answer, he moved to the door.

Fuji felt a pang of regret. He did not want to do this. The two of them walked downstairs and outside, neither saying much as they made their way to the bus stop. The ride passed in silence, each of them focused on their own thoughts. Nothing about this day was going to be easy, not for either of them.

All too soon, the bus ride was over. Gravel crunched under their feet as they made their way up to the hotel. Room 473 loomed up to meet them. Fuji turned to Ryoma and clasped his hands in his own. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Ryoma’s hands gripped his so tightly the freshman’s knuckles were turning white. “I’m sure. I would rather do this than ever again be at Rick’s mercy.”

Fuji searched his eyes, looking for any doubt, any hesitation. There was fear, trust, and Echizen’s special brand of stubborn determination. But there was no doubt. He’d fully committed himself. Fuji nodded once and stepped back. He would give this his full commitment as well. He could do no less.

The door to room 473 swung open. “Glad you could make it. Come in,” Rick said, one arm poised on the doorframe.

Fuji walked inside behind Ryoma, making sure that Rick didn’t find a way to touch him. He didn’t want the westerner anywhere near his boyfriend.

Once the door was closed, Rick let out a childish squeal of glee. “I’m looking forward to the show.”

“How can I trust you won’t interfere?” Fuji asked, all pretense dropped, mask gone. They weren’t in public anymore.

Rick looked insulted. “Why would I do that”

“Your past history speaks for itself.”

Rick scowled. “I will not interfere.”

“I don’t trust you.”

Motioning towards Fuji, Rick said, “You’re the one with the knife. You may think me dishonorable, but I am not stupid.”

“Yet you allowed us to come here with weapons and didn’t arm yourself.” Fuji let his disdain bleed through his voice.

“Look. You’re Japanese. All I know about you is that you take this honor thing way too seriously. Besides, you kill me, I have friends who know where I am and who I’m with.”

Ah. So the guy wasn’t a complete moron. Just most of one. Fuji considered Rick for a moment. The next time he spoke, his voice was pure ice. “I will do this because you gave your word that you’d withdraw from our lives.” He took a step forward, forcing his way into Rick’s personal space. Somehow, impossibly, Rick stood his ground, not seeming at all phased by their difference in height. “But I will promise this. Should you move in any way I consider threatening or attempt to physically interfere, I will kill you, consequences be damned.” He watched as realization that he was serious slowly sank in. And with it, a shadow of fear. Fuji nodded once, turned on his heel, and strode across the room to where Ryoma still hovered nervously at the door. He paused, looking back at Rick. “And I promise that it will not be quick.”

Rick fought to keep his fear from showing as he sat on the bed furthest from the door. Fuji noted the small tremors with satisfaction. Good. Rick was afraid of him. That, at least, was a promising start.

Ryoma tilted his head as he considered what he’d just seen. Rick had never backed down to anyone before. And while he hadn’t verbally submitted to Fuji, it showed in the way he moved. Rick truly believed Fuji would kill him. That made Echizen think. He’d seen other people challenge Rick, even threaten to kill him. But this was the first time the person issuing that threat hadn’t been bluffing. The first person that Rick hadn’t scoffed at for grandstanding. Fuji was serious. He would kill to protect him.

Ryoma felt like he was seeing Fuji through new eyes. He’d known the tensai was sadistic and possessive-he’s seen it in the way Fuji acted around his friends and family. Especially with Yuuta. That match with Mizuki had really brought that side of him to light. But there was something about Fuji that went much, much deeper. And it showed itself in the way he was willing to kill-to sacrifice everything-to protect the people he cared for.

At that moment, Ryoma knew, with a certainty that he’d never felt for anything except playing tennis, that he would travel to hell and back to keep Syuusuke at his side. Compared to that, a knife was going to be easy.

Fuji had swallowed fear after promising Rick a painful death and drew up courage to face Ryoma. He expected to see condemnation and disgust in those eyes. After all, he’d just threatened to kill. And meant it. But neither accusation or horror stared up at him. What he saw in Echizen’s eyes forced him to let out a breath he hadn’t been aware of holding. Trust gleamed there. As did hope. And something he couldn’t quite place…something that looked a bit like awe, but was softer. “Are you ready?” he asked gently.

Ryoma quirked a brow at him. “Always.”

And that arrogance was just…so Echizen that Fuji laughed. And just like that, the tense atmosphere in the room was broken. They would do this as if Rick wasn’t watching, as if they’d chosen this course. For just a little bit, they would suspend the knowledge that they were here for any other reason than just being with one another.

Fuji took a seat on the unoccupied bed and motioned for Ryoma to do the same. Once he was seated, Fuji grabbed the unsuspecting freshman by the hair and yanked him backwards as he leaned down to claim his lips in a bruising kiss. Ryoma’s hands had fallen behind him to the sides to catch his weight as he’d been forced to follow Fuji’s hand or have his hair yanked out. Fuji continued his brutal assault, moving his free hand up underneath Ryoma’s shirt. He grabbed Ryoma’s right nipple between his thumb and forefinger and twisted savagely to the left. Ryoma’s back arched as he cried out, the sound muffled by the presence of Fuji’s tongue in his mouth. His hands still bore his weight and he clutched the covers desperately. No matter which way he tried to pull, there was pain waiting for him.

Fuji reached for his other nipple and twisted, relishing in the pained sounds coming from Ryoma. He held Ryoma’s hair harshly in one hand, working his nipples with the other. And through it all, he continued to kiss him with a bruising intensity, stopping only occasionally for air. He continued this assault until he felt the moment where Ryoma’s stubbornness broke-the moment when he felt all the resistance flee from the body beneath him. He waited for the moment he felt Ryoma truly submit. He loved that feeling, but today it was vital. Today it could mean the difference between life and a fate worse than death. Because Ryoma returning to Rick-well, death was preferable.

Once Ryoma had stopped resisting, Fuji took his hands away. He smirked at the keening noise Ryoma made-the freshman was enjoying himself. “Lie back on the bed. Take off your shirt.”

Ryoma complied so hastily that Fuji chuckled, making Ryoma blush. But he didn’t speak.

Maintaining eye contact, Fuji swung his legs up on the bed, moving to a kneeling position. Carefully, he placed one knee on the opposite side of Ryoma’s legs, letting the other stay where it was. Slowly, he withdrew the blade he’d purchased form his pocket. Unsheathing it, he held it where Ryoma could see its full features.

Fuji watched Ryoma’s eyes. A hint of fear was there-it had to be, after the panic he’d seen earlier-but there was mostly anticipation and trust. He smiled. That meant Ryoma trusted him more than he feared the knife. And that-just that-was intoxicating.

On impulse, he brought the blade to Ryoma’s lips. “Kiss it,” he instructed. He watched as the normal Echizen fought to rise to the surface and he moved his left hand down behind Ryoma’s knee. He’d discovered, quite by accident, that the flesh behind Ryoma’s knee was his weak point-it was the one area where pain stayed pain. Seeing the hesitation in Ryoma’s eyes, Fuji pinched down hard, fluidly moving the knife away from Ryoma’s face as he jerked.

Ryoma yelped. By gods, but that had hurt. It took him a few seconds to recover, but when he did he found the knife poised at his lips again. Surely, Fuji wasn’t ser-he yelped again as the same exact spot was pinched again. Tears formed in his eyes, but didn’t fall. He glanced up at Fuji’s face. Ryoma really wasn’t expected to-he yelped yet again. This pain wasn’t any fun. It felt like punishment. This wasn’t supposed to be punishment. What was he supposed to do again? He dared another look at Fuji, hoping his confusion was clear.

Fuji saw, after the third harsh pinch, that Ryoma had fallen back into his submission. He offered the knife again. “Kiss it,” he said. This time there was no hesitation. Just instant obedience. A thrill ran through him.

Carefully, he began to trace the blade lightly over Ryoma’s chest, holding it so that the entire length of the blade touched the skin, rather than just the point. Making sure not to break the skin, he drew circles and lines, zigzags and spirals, changing the pressure from light to heavy-but still never breaking skin. Ryoma lay quivering beneath him, his arms held tightly to his sides. Fuji realized with a jolt that Ryoma was keeping himself still, never reaching to stop him or encourage him in his knife play. He was just…submitting. Letting Fuji have complete control. Fuji swallowed. This power…how had he never suspected that people who could appreciate his sadism existed? The two of them, like this, were a perfect symmetry.

Rick spoke then, but Fuji had the presence of mind to be continually aware of the westerner, so he wasn’t surprised into carelessness. “I have to admit I’m jealous.” His tone was low, envious.

Fuji said nothing. If Rick wanted to speak, he wouldn’t need encouragement.

“When I used a knife, I had to chain him down. Make him completely immobile so I couldn’t hurt him when he struggled.” Bitterness lined his words.

“I thought you enjoyed struggle.”

Rick sighed in frustration, running a hand through his hair-a motion Fuji caught out of his peripheral vision. “I did. I do. But watching you with him-this is better.”

“Why?”

“Because you need no chains to bind him. He just obeys. I could never get him to do that.” His sorrow was so thick, Fuji could almost taste it.

“You could’ve had him like this, if you hadn’t run from the monster inside you,” Fuji said.

“Didn’t you run from yours?”

“Not really. When I discovered that I was capable of hurting someone and that I liked how it felt, I found a way to make it work.” As they talked, Fuji continued drawing, leaving more complicated patterns as he got more comfortable with the amount of pressure he could use. An idea struck him and he moved off Ryoma, who eyed him curiously. “Roll over,” he said.

Ryoma complied, resting his chin on his hands as he settled into place. Most, if not all, of the fear that had been in his eyes earlier had completely disappeared. The way Fuji used the knife…it felt good. It hurt, but not in the way he’d expected it to. After the way Rick had sliced him up, he’d expected more of the same. But Fuji had drawn no blood from him. And just that reassured him, told him that his trust wasn’t unfounded.

“You’ve never hurt anyone?” Rick asked.

“No,” Fuji said. “I’ve hurt someone.” He knew they weren’t talking about Ryoma anymore.

“When?”

“I was ten. I beat up my best friend.” There was no need to go into details.

“Why?”

Fuji shrugged, settling back over Ryoma’s hips. He leaned down, intensely focused, as he began to draw a pattern on Ryoma’s back with the most pressure he could exert with the knife without breaking skin. From time to time, Ryoma mewled a little in the back of his throat and Fuji felt that inner glow of satisfaction that came from knowing his sadism was working in tandem with Ryoma’s masochism. “He pitied me,” he said.

“So?”

“So I can’t abide pity. I chose to make him hate me instead.”

“You drove away your best friend.”

“Mm.”

“That doesn’t scare you? The fact that you’ll never know how far you can go?”

Fuji rolled his eyes at the assumption. “I’m not you. I know exactly how far I’ll go and what I’m capable of.”

“And that doesn’t scare you?”

He was annoyingly persistent, Fuji had to give him that. “No.”

“But why-

“Because I know what matters. My friends. My family. My lover. For them, I will go to any lengths. I act selfishly only with Ryoma and even then it’s a consensual selfishness. I do not allow my sadism to use me the way you’ve allowed yours to use you. It is a tool, nothing more, and I am its wielder, not its victim.”

Rick fell silent.

Fuji was done drawing. he sat back and admired his handiwork. On Ryoma’s back, he had etched a cactus stretching from the top of his shoulder blades with the middle prong right beneath his neck at the start of his spine down to his tail bone. Sheathing the knife with a mental reminder to clean it later, he moved off Ryoma for a second time and flipped him over, grinning as Ryoma let out a pained hiss as the fresh welts hit the covers. Fuji lowered his head to claim Ryoma’s lips in another searing kiss before pulling away reluctantly. “We’re done,” he said. He longed to do more because they both needed it, but that would have to wait until they were alone.

Ryoma sat up slowly, wincing as he moved. “You drew something,” he said.

Fuji laughed, then waved him towards the bathroom. “Go see.”

Ryoma walked past Rick without flinching. He came back to the room, his usual smirk in place. “A cactus, Syuusuke?”

Fuji grinned. “Reminds me of you.”

For a moment, Ryoma looked like he was going to be offended, but decided against it. “So that’s why you like me. I remind you of your plants.”

Fuji’s grin widened. “Yep. You’re both prickly and you both have a softer side few people see or appreciate.”

“Che.” Ryoma grabbed his t-shirt and slipped it on, wincing as the cotton came into contact with the marks on his skin. He wondered how long they would last. Oh well, if all he had to show for a day spent playing with knives was a cactus emblazoned on his back, he wouldn’t complain. Still, he wasn’t a sketchpad.

Fuji turned to Rick. “We’ve given you our proof. Now leave us alone.”

Rick nodded. “Fine.” He walked them to the door, but stopped Fuji with a touch on his arm. At the tensai’s glare, he said hurriedly, “Do you think I’ll ever find anyone who can handle my sadism?”

“Not if you keep running from yourself. You’ll just create more victims.” And I won’t let that happen, Fuji swore. When he got home, he had some phone calls to make to make sure Rick could never hurt anyone again.

Chapter 13     Chapter Index     Chapter 15

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