Chapter 06

Normally the last person out of the locker rooms after practice, Fuji made a concentrated effort to be the first. It was Friday and he still hadn’t been able to find a good way to approach Echizen. Beating the freshman out of the locker rooms, he’d learned, was incredibly difficult to do. It didn’t help that Momo was always right on his heels, asking Echizen to get hamburgers. A small part of Fuji wondered if Momo was interested in Echizen but he tried not to dwell on it. From everything he’d seen, the two were best friends but that was as far as it went. Echizen certainly had never given Momo the kind of look he’d given Fuji after the match he’d played with Mizuki. Fuji shook his head. None of that should matter anyway. All he wanted to do right now was find out if Echizen would be able to handle his personality. Everything else could wait.

The door opened and Echizen stepped out. Now was his chance. “Echizen,” Fuji said. “Come stand with me.”

The freshman titled his head up, his hazel eyes focusing on Fuji. “Momo wants to get burgers,” he said. As if that explained everything.

Fuji’s eyes snapped open in irritation and he caught Echizen’s gaze with his own. “You can get burgers with Momo anytime.”

Echizen was silent, his eyes assessing. “Yeah,” he said with a bit of hesitation, then settled beside Fuji against the wall, which caused Fuji to smirk inwardly in satisfaction. The two were silent for a long while. Fuji was waiting for the rest of the club members to leave. He wasn’t going to talk openly in front of everyone. That would be ridiculous.

Momo came out of the club room and stopped in front of them. “Echizen, you coming? There’s a burger with your name on it.”

At the question, Fuji turned to look at the freshman while wearing his normal expression. Now that he’d initiated a conversation, what would the guy do? He knew Echizen was torn…he could see it in the way the guy kept sneaking surreptitious glances back and forth between him and Momo. And Fuji hadn’t asked him to stay, though it had been implied.

Echizen pulled down the lip of his hat. “Sorry, Momo. I’ll pass today.”

“Ok. See you tomorrow.” Momo walked away without a second look.

Fuji felt himself settle more comfortably against the wall. It was a small victory, but it helped ease his mind. He knew that, if he chose to, he could approach Echizen the same way he had Eiji and become surface friends. But that wasn’t what Fuji wanted to do. He wanted more than that. He wanted someone who would be able to look him in the eye and not flinch when he was truly being himself. It might be too much to ask, but there was no reason to not at least try.

After what seemed like an eternity, Echizen and Fuji were the only two left. Another eternity passed while the two stood in silence, each assessing the other. Part of Fuji felt that he should be the one to break the silence since he had been the one to initiate everything, but the rest of him was having too much fun watching Echizen grow more and more uncomfortable with it. The freshman would speak first, Fuji was sure of that. But when he did, Fuji was caught off guard.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

Fuji turned to face him, dropping his mask completely. Wearing it all the time was slightly tiresome. To Echizen’s credit, the guy didn’t flinch or back away when met with the intensity of his gaze. “What’s that?”

“That match you played with Mizuki…you enjoyed breaking him.”

The question came out sounding more like a statement. Fuji narrowed his eyes as he took in Echizen’s posture. He was standing with his hands in his pockets, not making a single step to back away from the intense look in Fuji’s eyes. It could have been an accusation, but the tone of the statement had lacked the sound of judgment. “And if I did?”

Echizen swallowed, the first hint he’d shown that he was at all nervous in Fuji’s presence. Fuji felt his amusement spike. The guy had guts, he had to give him that much. “It was a good match.”

“He hurt my brother.”

“I know.”

Fuji swallowed his trepidation and decided to just go with it. Either Echizen would accept him or he wouldn’t, but standing here not saying much of anything was getting a bit ridiculous. “And I like watching people suffer.” He let the full weight of his gaze carry the message more thoroughly.

Echizen grinned up at him, expression completely devoid of judgment. “I know.”

“It doesn’t bother you?”

Echizen laughed. “Fuji, why would it bother me? I like that the most about you.”

Fuji frowned. He was relieved that Echizen felt that way, but he didn’t understand why and said so.

It was Echizen’s turn to fall quiet…more quiet than before. He lowered his eyes to the ground, refusing to meet Fuji’s gaze. Whatever he was about to say was going to be hard for him. Fuji felt a rush at that thought. Someone saying something difficult for them, not knowing if they would be berated for it…well, there was a certain amount of pleasure in that too. He conveniently put out of his mind that he’d just done the same thing and waited for the freshman to speak. When Echizen did speak, it was so quiet that Fuji had to strain to hear him, even though he was standing less than two feet away. “I like being hurt.”

Fuji felt his entire world flip upside down. In all of his years, he’d never even thought there could be someone opposite of him. He’d always assumed that one either enjoyed inflicting pain or didn’t. It had never even occurred to him that there might be people out there who enjoyed having it inflicted on them. But it made sense. Caught up in the revelation that there were people who could enjoy pain in the world, he almost forgot that Echizen was waiting for him to say something-probably something judgmental. And Fuji couldn’t say anything mean…not to that. Not when it meant that there were people who would accept him for his sadism and perhaps even revel in it. “That’s amazing,” he said. Because it was.

Echizen looked at him from underneath his cap, seeking out some sort of reassurance in Fuji’s eyes. Whatever it was he was looking for, he found it. “Most people think I’m suicidal when I tell them I’m masochistic.”

Fuji frowned. “That’s like saying I’m homicidal because I’m sadistic.” He felt shivers run down his spine as he said the words out loud. It was the first time he’d said it so casually to anyone in his life.

Echizen laughed a little. “Yeah. People are idiots.”

“Mmm.” A thought occurred to him. “Do you want to come over to my house for the weekend?”

Echizen blinked at him before a slow smile spread across his face. “I would love to. But you need to know something else first.”

“Hmm?” What else could the guy possibly have to say to him? He’d already turned his world upside down.

“I’d like to date you.”

The bluntness of the statement shocked Fuji, but he didn’t allow himself to show it. He looked at the freshman before him with fresh eyes. He was attractive-that had been apparent the first moment he stepped onto the court. And he was strong, both physically and mentally. Echizen had no problem embarassing himself if it meant he could get what he was after. Fuji liked that about him. But dating usually implied an equal exchange of power-one person decided something, then the other decided. At that thought, he frowned a little. “I’m attracted to you-

“But you don’t want a normal relationship,” Echizen finished for him, a slightly quirked smile on his lips. At Fuji’s startled look, he said, “I don’t want a normal relationship either.”

“Then what kind of relationship are you talking about?”

“One where you’re in charge.”

Fuji titled his head, considering this. Being in charge sounded good. Of course, it meant more responsibility for him but Fuji had never had an issue with that. But…”Does that mean you’d obey me?”

Echizen flushed, but nodded.

“And if you didn’t?”

“Then you’d have the right to punish me,” Echizen said, his voice a low whisper.

“I thought you said you enjoyed pain.”

“I do. It’s a mental thing. If I know I’m being punished for something, I’m much less likely to enjoy it.”
“Hmm. And when would I cause you pain other than for punishment?”

Echizen looked at him in exasperation. “Whenever you want, Fuji. I’m a masochist, remember? Your sadism is what interests me the most.”

“So just to make sure I understand-you want me to control you and hurt you if we date.” Fuji was still fighting hard to wrap his head around the concept. How had his world been flipped so thoroughly upside down? He’d expected to come away with a friend who could accept it, but it seemed he was being offered something much more than that.

“Yes, Fuji. That is what I’m saying.”

“Hmm.” Fuji began walking. He wasn’t ready to give an answer just yet. After all, he still didn’t know Echizen nearly as well as he would like. Masochism aside, it could be that he wouldn’t be able to stand the other’s habits. He stopped when he realized Echizen wasn’t following him. He looked back. “Come on,” he said. And with those two words, Echizen fell into step beside him. He didn’t insist on getting an answer or ask where they were going-he just obeyed. And Fuji grinned. Perhaps by the end of the weekend he’d have an answer to give the freshman. One that would suit them both. In the meantime, he had a true masochist on his hands. He felt his mind start racing, thinking of ideas of how to put that to use. Oh yeah, this weekend was definitely going to be fun.

 Chapter 5     Chapter Index     Chapter 7

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