Chapter 20

Fuji woke to the sound of his cell phone ringing. Blearily, he fumbled towards the right side of the bed, reaching for the nightstand. His hand found only air, startling him into remembering that he was at Ryoma’s house. He shifted his weight to the other side, squinting against the harsh red numbers on Ryoma’s digital clock, swearing under his breath when he saw that it was a quarter after three in the morning. Once his eyes had adjusted enough for him to make out his phone, he reached over Ryoma and grabbed it. With a sigh, he flipped it open, doing his best to be quiet so that he wouldn’t wake Ryoma. “Hello?”

“Syuusuke.”

“Father. It’s three fifteen in the morning.”

“I know. I’d apologize for waking you, but this is the only time I’ll be able to talk openly with you for the next few weeks.”

Fuji was instantly alert. “What happened?”

His father laughed. “Nothing too serious. My schedule’s just really full. I’ve had to take over for a couple associates.”

“Which ones?” Fuji had to know if they were part of his father’s company or if they were black market.

“Browning and Taylor.”

Those were black market names. Browning was a contract assassin. Taylor was a weapons dealer. Both were the best at what they did. As far as Fuji knew, his father had never been involved with either assassination or weapons dealing, so those names rang every alarm bell in his head. “How heated are things getting over there?”

“Nothing I can’t handle.”

Fuji wasn’t so sure about that, but he didn’t press. While he generally preferred having more information rather than less, this situation struck him as one it’d be better for him to have as little information about as possible. His father was treading in some pretty dangerous waters. “Did you find anything?”

“You didn’t give me much to work with, Syuusuke.”

Fuji waited.

His father sighed. “Tony Summers has been charged with attempted murder.”

Fuji felt his heart seize in his chest. “What?” he all but screamed, remembering at the last second that Ryoma was sleeping less than a foot away from him.

“The intel I have says that he was seen ordering a canine to kill Rick Matthews and that only the presence of a police officer nearby prevented his death. Rick Matthews is currently in intensive care and his chance of survival is low.”

The only thing Fuji could think as he sat there in the bed, running his father’s words through his head, was that he hadn’t wanted to kill Rick. His father cleared his throat, telling him the silence on the phone had stretched to an uncomfortable length. “Tony wasn’t supposed to go that far.”

“I know. You don’t hire killers.”

Fuji laughed shakily at that, because it was either laugh or scream. “Can you do anything about it?”

“It’s already being dealt with.”

“Thanks.”

“Syuusuke.” There was a note of warning in his tone.

“Yes, Father?”

“Get Tony under control or next time it may be Hayashi Sayuri you have to deal with.”

Fuji drew in a sharp intake of air. Hayashi Sayuri was Sora’s aunt and the most deadly contract assassin in two countries. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to keep himself off of her radar. It was bad enough having to deal with Sora. “I’ll handle Tony.”

“See that you do.”

“I’m going back to sleep now.”

“Mm. Goodnight, Syuusuke.”

“Night.” He clicked the phone off and returned it to the nightstand. Sliding under the covers, he curled an arm around Ryoma’s waist, drawing the freshman tightly against him. Just having him to hold calmed Fuji’s nerves considerably and he fell asleep knowing that everything would work itself out, one way or another.

Waking up next to Ryoma was even better than falling asleep beside him. In the soft morning light, Fuji put his weight on his elbow and just watched Ryoma’s face as he slept. The perpetual smirk on his face had softened to something almost vulnerable and Fuji reached out to trail a hand down the side of his face, careful to keep his touch light.

Ryoma jerked awake, suddenly finding himself staring into Syuusuke’s eyes. There was a tenderness there he’d never seen before and he froze, uncertain what that gentleness meant.

Fuji smiled at him. “Morning, Ryoma.”

“Morning, Syuusuke.”

Fuji bent down over him, drawing him into a gentle kiss. Part of him wanted to press down harder, make it hurt; he suppressed that. Right now, all he wanted was to show Ryoma how much his very presence meant to him. He ran his tongue over Ryoma’s lips until they parted and he took advantage of that, feeling the way Ryoma’s tenseness just melted away. He drew back, smiling at the flustered expression Ryoma gave him.

Fuji stood and made his way to the bathroom to take a shower. He wanted to do a lot more than kiss, but they’d promised Nanjiroh to keep things chaste while in his house. Fuji didn’t want to give Ryoma’s father a legitimate reason to dislike him, even if his hormones disagreed.

Breakfast was an awkward affair. Nanjiroh seemed disinclined to say anything to Fuji with Nanako around and Fuji had no idea what to say to Ryoma’s dad. All he knew about the man was that he was a retired pro tennis player. If pressed, he could admit he was slightly curious as to why Nanjiroh had retired, but asking would be disrespectful. So he ate in silence, doing his best to ignore his discomfort.

Fuji held Ryoma’s hand as they walked towards Seigaku. It always amazed Fuji just a little bit at how well their hands fit together.

“Who called at three in the morning?” Ryoma asked.

Fuji glanced down. “You were awake?”

“Ah.”

“It was my father.”

“What did he want?” Ryoma pulled his cap to the side to focus better on Fuji’s face.

Fuji smiled at him. “I thought you said you were okay with not knowing.”

“Che.”

“There was a bit of a problem yesterday. He was just telling me it had been dealt with.”

“Yesterday was only a bit of a problem?” Ryoma asked, raising an eyebrow in disbelief.

“Mm.”

“I’d hate to see a real problem.”

“Mm.”

Ryoma fell silent after that and Fuji felt grateful. He didn’t really want to talk about yesterday’s problems. They arrived at Seigaku just in time for the beginning of practice and Fuji threw himself into it, willing himself to get lost in the repetitive swing of his racquet and forget about the situation with Tony and Rick, if only for a short while.

Before practice ended, it was announced that their next opponent would by Hyotei and Fuji felt his interest spike. If he remembered correctly, Yuuta had played someone named Jirou, losing the match in record time, something Fuji found humiliating. He would have to talk to Tezuka about playing him. Jirou hadn’t injured his brother, so he didn’t feel the need to go after him the way he’d gone after Mizuki, but he was curious enough to want to play a match.

At lunch, he made his way to the roof. Eating with Ryoma had become a habit. It was nice just to sit in silence with the one person in his life that didn’t look at him with either fear or complete oblivion. Knowing that Ryoma knew exactly who and what he was, Fuji found everything easier to manage. They sat with their legs pressed against one another’s, shoulders together. Fuji sat on Ryoma’s right so that they wouldn’t bump elbows as they ate, his arm pressed into the concrete where he had it wrapped around the freshman’s waist.

“It’s good we got Hyotei,” Ryoma said.

“Hm?”

“I want to play a match with their monkey king,” Ryoma said.

Fuji raised an eyebrow. “Against Atobe?”

“Mhm.”

“I doubt you’ll get to this match. Tezuka feels like he owes him for last year.”

“Che.” Ryoma took a bite of his sandwich. “It doesn’t matter if it’s official or not. I will play him.”

Fuji shrugged. His cell phone rang. He frowned and set his bento down, pulling it out of his pocket. “Hello?”

“Fuji.”

“Tony,” he said, voice hard.

There was a long pause before Tony spoke again. “Rick’s going to live.”

“Good.”

“For what it’s worth, I never meant for things to get so out of hand.”

Fuji’s arm tightened around Ryoma’s waist and he fought to control his temper. “I never gave you permission to kill.” Ryoma tensed against his arm for a moment before relaxing. He wondered for a brief second if Ryoma had been completely honest with him, then shook it away. Now wasn’t the time.

“I know.”

“Tony.”

“Yes, Fuji?”

“I’ll have everything arranged, but I want you in Japan tomorrow so I can keep an eye on you.” All that came across the line for a solid minute or so was the sound of Tony’s heavy breathing. He waited.

“Fuji. You know I don’t want to be anywhere near you.”

Fuji smiled dangerously, wishing Tony was there in person for him to direct it at. “Then it’s too bad you screwed up, isn’t it?”

“I could just not show up.”

“My father has told me I can contact Hayashi Sayuri.” Another long silence fell. Fuji stretched as much as he was able, the position he was in starting to become uncomfortable.

“Jesus, Fuji.”

Fuji smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“You bastard. You know you will.”

Fuji’s voice grew hard. “I’d watch yourself, Tony. You’re on a thin enough line as it is.”

Tony’s breathing grew ragged. “Right. Sorry. Tomorrow.” The phone clicked off.

Ryoma looked up at Fuji as he put his cell phone away. “I heard that entire conversation.”

Fuji shrugged. He hadn’t tried to be secretive.

“What did he mean that Rick’s going to live?” Ryoma asked, face blank.

“Tony’s the one I hired to go after Rick. He got too aggressive.”

Ryoma quirked an eyebrow at him. “I should probably care about that.”

Fuji blinked. “Why don’t you?”

It was Ryoma’s turn to shrug. He bunched up the wrapper his sandwich had come in. “I just can’t find it in me. Rick hurt me. Tony hurt him. Doesn’t seem like there’s much to get upset over.”

That made Fuji smile. He used his free hand to close the distance between them and captured Ryoma’s lips with his own. He brought his other arm up from behind Ryoma to tangle in his hair and forced his head back sharply. He twisted to put his right leg over Ryoma’s, holding the freshman down as he kissed. Unlike the gentleness of the morning, he was ruthless. He bore down with a bruising intensity, biting down just enough to cause pain but not enough to draw blood, before forcing his tongue past Ryoma’s lips.

Fuji drew back, hand still tangled in Ryoma’s hair. “I love you,” he said His eyes widened with surprise as the words left his mouth. He didn’t take them back, though, because he realized in that moment that it was true. He flushed, but didn’t look away from Ryoma, whose eyes had gone as wide as his own.

Ryoma wanted more than anything to duck his head, to hide his feelings from Fuji, but he was being pinned down. He had to confront them and Fuji along with them. Ever since Fuji had stood up against Rick for him, Ryoma had fallen in love. But he had never expected to be the first one to hear it. Fuji was hard and unyielding and Ryoma had assumed he’d look at love as a weakness. But the way Fuji was looking at him…Ryoma licked his lips. “I love you too, Syuusuke.” The smile that spread across Fuji’s face was one of pure bliss and Ryoma felt dazed, thinking I did that. I put that smile there.

Fuji unwound himself from Ryoma, pulling the freshman to his feet as he stood. Tony was coming to Japan and would be a pain in the ass to deal with, but that was okay, because he was with Ryoma and together they could get through anything.

The two of them walked off the roof together, separating at the bottom of the stairs to go to their respective classes. Fuji stopped at the doorway where Tezuka was waiting for him. The captain handed him a textbook. He raised an eyebrow.

“You forgot it at practice,” Tezuka said.

“Ah. Thanks,” Fuji said. Tezuka turned to leave and he remembered what he’d wanted to ask that morning when he’d heard that Hyotei was their next opponent. “Has Coach Ryuzaki determined the line up yet?”

Tezuka shook his head. “Not yet.”

“I’d really like to play against the one who beat Yuuta. Jirou, wasn’t it?”

Tezuka gave him cool eyes. “Your brother is really important to you, isn’t he?”

Fuji smiled politely at him, not saying anything to confirm or deny it. His family business was his own and he knew Tezuka well enough to know that the captain wouldn’t press him.

“I’ll talk to the coach,” Tezuka said.

Fuji stepped into the classroom and took his seat. All he had to do now was get through the rest of the day.

Chapter 19     Chapter Index     Chapter 21

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