Chapter 10

Chapter Ten

Fuji sat across from Ryoma at dinner, watching the freshman pick at the food on his plate. His father had left to check on the progress of a deal and had gotten held up. Fuji glanced at the wall clock. 15 past 8. Over an hour had passed since he’d sat down with his family and Ryoma for the dinner his father had planned.

At least his father had called ahead so they didn’t have to wait for him to eat. That he had was promising–it meant he really did just want to meet Ryoma. It had been a relief. Fuji’d suspected the worst. He’d told Ryoma to be himself, but that made him anxious. If Ryoma mouthed off to his father the way he did to everyone else…Fuji winced. That would play right into his father’s hands. And once that happened, there’d be no escape from it.

Fuji finished the stew in front of him, irritated his father was late but relieved he didn’t have to face him over food. Instead, the conversation would take place in the parlor. He smiled. That gave him time. Telling Ryoma to be himself on the phone earlier had been a mistake. He didn’t want to risk his lover mouthing off to his dad. Not when their relationship was under scrutiny.

He stood and put his dishes in the sink, motioning for Ryoma to do the same. Fuji led the way into the parlor and sat, pushing Ryoma’s shoulders down gently. The freshman got the hint and flushed as he knelt in front of Fuji, hands clasped behind him. His lover’s submission drove the last vestiges of anxiety from him and his body went slack as the tension left.

The last few days had been difficult on Fuji and he hadn’t had time to process everything. Seeing Saeki again had been nerve-wracking, but the easy forgiveness he’d handed out was unsettling. While Fuji understood everything his old friend had said and could see how it could be the truth, the situation seemed too smooth. If the situation were reversed and Saeki had come to see him, Fuji would suspect an ulterior motive because of their past. But Saeki wasn’t him. He shook his head.

Thinking of Saeki inevitably led to thoughts about Ryoma’s recent behavior. He’d never considered his lover the jealous type, but that changed quickly. That Ryoma was possessive over him warmed him even as it annoyed him. Jealousy was one thing–Ryoma’s refusal to answer the phone earlier was outright brat behavior. Fuji frowned. He’d have to take care of that later. If Ryoma started to think he could get away with acting like that, he’d use it to his advantage.

Fuji smiled. Though sometimes the relationship with Ryoma frustrated him because of his lover’s bratty behavior, it kept him invested. There was never a dull moment with the freshman. Everything Ryoma did, he did with his whole being. So even though the situation with Saeki had been a minor misunderstanding, he’d still thrown all his weight behind his convictions.

Fuji ran a hand through Ryoma’s air, relishing the soft feel of it beneath his fingers as he thought. His dad wouldn’t show for at least another thirty minutes. Watching Ryoma struggle to stay on his knees, knowing the floor was digging painfully into his skin, was the best entertainment he’d had all day. And it was a good start to the punishment Ryoma had brought on himself.

“Saa, you’ll be on your knees a long time tonight, Ryu-chan,” Fuji said

Ryoma tilted his head back, meeting Fuji’s eyes as he looked through his bangs. “Won’t it make your father uncomfortable?” He didn’t argue; after his disobedience earlier, he wasn’t inclined to make things worse for himself.

“No,” Fuji said. “Being in the black market has made him immune to what others conceive as awkward.”

“Oh,” Ryoma said, letting his head fall forward so that his gaze was focused on the floor. His tone dropped to a whisper. “I’m sorry, Syuusuke.”

Fuji raised an eyebrow. Ryoma didn’t sincerely apologize often. He didn’t misjudge situations often either. Fuji understood how Ryoma had gotten the impression he had of Saeki. Fuji didn’t plan to hold it against him. He smiled. “You’re forgiven, Ryu-chan,” he said, almost as quietly as Ryoma.

Ryoma’s shoulders dropped the tenseness they’d held. He hadn’t been sure Fuji would let that go. “Thank you.”

“Saa. You not coming to the phone,” Fuji said, interrupted by the sound of his father’s car pulling into the driveway. “We’ll discuss the rest of your punishment later.”

Ryoma angled his body so he could face Fuji directly. “The rest?” he asked. Where was the beginning?

Fuji smiled. “You don’t really think I’m making you kneel in front of my father for my own amusement, do you?” he asked. He didn’t bother to hide his sadistic smile as realization washed over Ryoma’s face.

“Syuusuke, you–” Ryoma clapped a hand over his mouth, keeping the expletive from escaping. He flushed.

“It’s good to see you know how to be respectful, Ryu-chan. I’d hate to have to wash your mouth out with soap.”

The implied again wasn’t lost on Ryoma. He ducked his head and nodded to show he’d gotten the message. He’d learned the hard way that punishment was one area where Fuji didn’t hold himself back. Fuji never hit him for punishment, but the tensai didn’t have to. His punishments were creative enough.

Fuji’s father walked in a few minutes later, raising an eyebrow at the sight of Ryoma kneeling in the floor but made no indication that it bothered him. He sat in the chair opposite Fuji. “Sorry I’m late, Syuusuke.”

“Saa. Not to worry, Father. We haven’t been waiting long.” Fuji was tense. He didn’t want his father to know how nervous this meeting actually made him.

His father looked straight at his lover. “You’re Echizen Ryoma?”

Fuji nudged him, letting Ryoma know it was okay for him to answer. The nudge hadn’t been the kindest; he wanted his lover to be respectful.

“Yes, sir.”

“How long have you been dating my son?” he asked.

Fuji tried not to blanch. His father wasn’t going to play by the book. Such direct questions…it was unsettling. And to have them directed at Ryoma…his grip tightened on the arm of his chair. He was not going to let his dad get to him. Not today. Not when it was important he show his father that Ryoma wasn’t a health risk.

“Che, how long has it been? A few months. It was right after the match against St. Rudolph.”

Fuji smiled. He didn’t know the exact date they’d started dating either; neither one of them were the kind of people that kept up with those types of details.

Fuji’s father sighed. “I don’t really have time to be polite tonight. There’s a problem with one of my contractors in America and I have to leave on the red eye flight tonight in order to get back in time to deal with it. So I’m just going to come out and say what I need to, despite how rude it’s going to make me seem.”

Fuji blinked. A problem in America? He wanted to ask, but he didn’t want his father to know that Ryoma knew about their underground dealings. Telling Ryoma had been his own decision; telling his father would only invite criticism. And perhaps forced separation. His father was more paranoid than him when it came to making sure everything was running smoothly. Someone he hadn’t planned on having knowledge of his work…it would disrupt everything.

“Che,” Ryoma said. “I’m not polite according to most Japanese people myself. I grew up in America. I’m used to hearing things straight up. It weirds me out to try and tiptoe around issues.”

Fuji’s father chuckled. “I like him,” he said, meeting Syuusuke’s eyes before addressing Ryoma specifically. “You know that he’s a sadist.”

“Yes,” Ryoma said. “I’m a masochist. We work well together.”

“He’s told you about the incident with Saeki?”

Ryoma shrugged, ducking his head to hide the flush as he remembered the false accusation he’d leveled at his boyfriend. “I know he beat him up when they were younger.”

“Yeah. What about America. Did he tell you about that?”

“You mean about Jason? The guy he tortured?” Ryoma snorted. “Wasn’t he a slave dealer? I don’t see why you’re concerned about that.”

Fuji’s fingers tightened on the edge of his chair. Please, dear god, don’t let him tell Ryoma how badly that day affected me.

“Hmm.” His father’s eyes came up to meet Syuusuke’s once more. His gaze stated clearly that he knew his son was hiding information from his lover. “You’re not worried he’s going to go too far with you?”

“Che,” Ryoma said. “I know what too far looks like.”

Fuji’s father raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

Syuusuke broke in. “His ex put him in the hospital. He’s the person I hired Tony to go after.”

“I see.” His father checked the clock on the wall. “It’s getting late. I have to get going. But I’m glad I got to meet you Echizen. It seems like you know how to take care of yourself. You don’t seem like the kind of person who’d stay with someone abusive.”

“I’m not,” Ryoma said.

After his dad left, Fuji allowed himself to relax. “That went better than I expected it to,” he said.

Ryoma grinned up at him. “You can thank me later.”

Fuji chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Cheeky brat. You still have a punishment coming.”

“I know,” Ryoma said. “But teasing you is always worth it.”

Chapter 9     Chapter Index     Chapter 11

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