Chapter 22

Fuji was starting to become irritable. Ever since the day Tony had come to Japan, he had found it nearly impossible to get any time alone with Ryoma. Logically, he knew that it wasn’t the American’s fault, but he wasn’t feeling very reasonable. He strode out of his Math classroom down towards the tennis courts. Afternoon practice was going to begin soon and he wanted to confront Tony before it started.

He spotted the assassin-turned-tennis player leaning up against the outside of the locker room, arms crossed across his chest. Tony had originally protested joining the tennis club because he didn’t play… in fact, he was downright awful. Fuji had a suspicion that even Horio could take him in a match. Still, he was here to guard them so Fuji had insisted. Even the assassin had eventually admitted that the workout was good. Granted, it wouldn’t do for him to be seen keeping up with the regulars, so he had to fake exhaustion. Tony unfolded himself from the wall when he saw Fuji approaching.

“Fuji,” he said, voice warm.

That voice forced Fuji to remember that he was dealing with someone who was just as good at hiding, in his own way, as he was. “Tony,” he said, own voice pleasant. “Have you seen Ryoma?”

“He’s in the locker room.”

“Ah.” Fuji glanced around, lowering his voice. “See any cats?” It was code to ask if anyone was listening. The phrase confused him, but it worked well enough.

Tony looked at him, but cocked his head to the side, listening intently. “Nope.”

“Good,” Fuji said. He dropped his mask to let Tony know he was serious. “I need time alone with Ryoma. Find a way to make it happen.”

Tony blinked at him, then scowled. “Since when does guarding you entail helping you mess around with your lover?”

Fuji’s lips thinned into a hard line and Tony took a step away from him, making the move look unintentional. “Guarding me entails whatever I say it entails. Now find a way to make it happen.”

Tony sighed. “Fine. You can use my apartment.”

“And where will you go?”

The assassin shrugged. “I can entertain myself.”

Fuji shook his head. “No way. I’m not letting you run around in Japan on your own. Hayashi Sora isn’t the only dangerous person in these parts.” There were at least four more big-deal names in town, but he wasn’t going to tell Tony who they were. The assassin might be tempted to ask them to help him get free of Fuji’s clutches and then he’d have a real mess on his hands.

Tony didn’t question it. “Then I’ll stand outside and guard the door.”

Fuji made a disgusted sound. He didn’t like that idea either.

“Then what do you want me to do? I can’t do anything on my own but I highly doubt you want your privacy invaded-” He paused, glancing around. “I thought I saw a bee.”

It took Fuji a minute to realize Tony was saying that he thought someone was within listening range. Why asking included a cat and telling included a bee, Fuji would never know. Someone seriously needed to come up with better coding. “It’ll be fine.”

Ryoma chose that moment to walk out of the locker room. He looked from Tony to Fuji and shrugged. He said, “You might want to get changed. Inui seems to have another juice for us.” His nose wrinkled in distaste at the thought.

Tony shuddered. He’d had to drink his own share of Inui juices. “He has way too much time on his hands.”

Fuji smiled and pushed past them into the locker room. He changed into his practice clothes and went out to join the others. He didn’t do anything to cause Inui to offer him juice, but after everyone was incapacitated by it, he asked for his own cup. Like usual, it was pretty good. He still didn’t know why other people didn’t appreciate it. When practice was over, he came out of the locker room to see Ryoma and Tony staring at each other, both with their arms crossed as they looked at the other. For a moment, his heart froze in his chest and he had to remind himself to breathe. “What’s going on?” he asked.

Ryoma immediately stopped staring at Tony and came to him, sliding his arm around Fuji’s waist. Fuji twisted in Ryoma’s grasp, staring down at the freshman as he put his own arm around Ryoma. Tony continued staring at the two of them. The three of them stood like that as the rest of the team trickled out and away. Some of them stopped to try and see what was going on, but were discouraged from staying by the fact Fuji was now glaring openly at Tony. No one wanted to get between Fuji and Tony with that glare in play.

When everyone was gone, the staring continued, but Fuji had enough of the silence. “What the fuck is going on?” he asked, his irritation nearly getting the better of him.

“Nothing,” Tony said, voice tight.

Seeing that he wasn’t going to get anything from the assassin, Fuji turned his glare to Ryoma. “Well?”

Ryoma flinched. Fuji had never glared at him like that before. Suddenly, he wanted to be anywhere but there. He started to break free of the arm that held him, but as soon as he did, Fuji pulled him hard against his chest, his arms holding him hostage. Knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to free himself, he stopped resisting and let his head fall onto Fuji’s shoulder.

“Do not make me ask again,” Fuji said.

Ryoma flinched at that, his entire body going taut. “Tony said that you asked him to find a place where we could be alone so that you could do to me what you did to Jason.” His voice was small and subdued.

Fuji flinched outright at that. Jason was the man he’d interrogated. He started rubbing soothing circles on Ryoma’s back, glaring for all he was worth at Tony, who just looked at him. “What did you tell him?” he demanded.

“The truth,” Tony said, shrugging.

Fuji’s hands were trembling with rage. He was glad that Ryoma was in front of him because if he hadn’t been there, part of him was pretty sure he’d have taken a swing at Tony. And he couldn’t win against Tony in a fair fight. He took a deep breath and turned to Tony. “I could never do to Ryoma what I did to Jason.”

Tony didn’t look convinced.

Fuji shook his head in disgust. He leaned down and whispered quietly in Ryoma’s ear, still running soothing patterns down his back. “How much detail did you go into?” he asked, his voice soft as he got himself back under control.

“I didn’t spare any.”

Fuji swore lightly under his breath, aware that Ryoma could hear him. The things he’d done to Jason were horrific and he’d never wanted those details exposed. It was just like Tony to do everything he could to demonstrate his displeasure at being forced into high school on Japanese soil.

Ryoma looked up at him. “Everything he said…it’s true?”

Fuji nodded. Tony wouldn’t have needed to embellish the truth when it was as gruesome as it was. He couldn’t think about it; he refused to allow himself that luxury. Ryoma tensed against him, but this time Fuji loosened his grip. If the freshman couldn’t forgive him for this, he would understand.

Ryoma stared at Fuji, caught in indecision. He’d known that Fuji had interrogated Jason, but before Tony had given him details, he hadn’t known the man’s name or what had been done to him. He wished that Tony had never told him, had never put this choice before him. As much as he hated the fact that Fuji had tortured someone-had enjoyed doing all the gruesome things Tony had mentioned-he couldn’t find it in himself to simply hate Fuji. He loved him too much.

Fuji hid his shock as Ryoma relaxed against him and closed his arms around the freshman reflexively. Relief crashed over him. Ryoma wasn’t going to run from him. “You truly believe I’ll hurt him.”

“Yes, I do.” Tony stood there, arms crossed, almost daring Fuji to prove him wrong.

Fuji glanced down at Ryoma. “When he told you that I would do to you what I did to Jason, what did you say to him?”

Ryoma blinked up at him. The question seemed absurd. “That you would never hurt me like that.”

“That’s what this stand-off was about?” Fuji said, shaking his head in disbelief. He looked at Tony. “You think I’ll hurt him and he’s certain I won’t so the two of you decided to fight over it?”

“We weren’t fighting, Syuusuke,” Ryoma protested.

“You looked like you were about to start,” Fuji said, resting his chin on Ryoma’s head. He turned to Tony. “It’s not like you to care what I do.”

Tony’s mouth twisted into a hard line. It was the look he usually wore when he was determined to meet an objective. “Normally I wouldn’t. But in the past week, I’ve seen how Echizen handles himself and I don’t want to see him ruined. Especially not by you.”

Fuji gaped in open shock at the assassin. Tony never cared for people. In the six years he’d known the man, he’d heard reports that the assassin had killed his own first and second cousins. He thought there might have been a brother, too, but he wasn’t sure. He pushed those thoughts aside; he needed to focus on the problem at hand. He squared his shoulders, forcing the shock down. “You’re trying to protect him from me?” he drawled, eyebrow raised.

Tony nodded once.

“I told him you wouldn’t hurt me,” Ryoma said, cuddling up to him. After what he’d heard about Jason, he needed the comfort that the solid feel of Fuji’s body beneath his hands offered.

Fuji sighed. “This is why you didn’t want to help me find a time to be alone with him.”

Tony nodded again.

“Fine. We’ll go to your apartment and I’ll show you exactly what I meant by time alone.”

Tony flinched; it was almost invisible, but it had happened.

“You mean he’s going to watch?” Ryoma asked, suddenly nervous. It was one thing to have Fuji go all sadistic on him-it was quite another to have an audience.

Fuji tilted Ryoma’s chin up so that the other was forced to look at him. “Would you rather him think I was treating you like Jason?”

Ryoma shuddered, turning to look at the assassin. “No,” he said softly. “No I would not.”

Fuji hugged him tight and motioned for Tony to lead the way to his apartment. He’d have to make some calls to let his family know he’d be staying somewhere else and so would Ryoma. But right now, it was vital that Tony see that he could never torture Ryoma the way he’d tortured Jason. The look the man had in his eye when he’d gone all protective over Ryoma told him he probably wouldn’t live long if Tony didn’t think Ryoma was safe. It was weird and highly irregular coming from the assassin, but once he proved his intentions were honest ones, there would be nothing that Tony wouldn’t do to protect them both.

Chapter 21     Chapter Index     Chapter 23

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