Chapter 21

The alarm’s blare woke him. Fuji stretched and yawned, then turned his attention to Saeki who was still asleep on the floor. They’d briefly discussed sharing the bed, but Fuji had nixed that idea. He wasn’t ready to be that casual with Saeki. Not yet.

After all, he had Ryoma to think of. And Ryoma would be hurt if he learned that Fuji had turned him away and embraced Saeki in his stead. No, that this had been a simple sleepover was best. There would be no inappropriate guilty thoughts because there was nothing to feel guilty about.

Fuji rested his chin on his elbow as he considered the silver-haired man sleeping in the floor. Saeki had changed a lot, but he’d retained his essence. He was strong. That strength alleviated the majority of Fuji’s fears about teaching him to harness his sadism.

He frowned. Their relationship had always been complicated. Saeki was easily his equal when it came to scheming. It was a given that he’d learn fast, too. The only reason Fuji had ever managed to stay a step ahead of Saeki in the past was because of his own tendency towards ruthlessness.

Though he hated to admit it, even to himself, his ruthless streak was morphing into something softer. There was no doubt that he would deal brutally with anyone who threatened his lovers, family, and friends. But his closeness with Ryoma was changing him. Fuji wasn’t sure he liked it.

There were times he found himself biting off a scathing remark to keep the peace so that Ryoma wasn’t adversely affected. He’d never put someone else’s emotional security before his own before. So far, it hadn’t been a problem. But what would happen when his need to break someone got so overwhelming that he couldn’t contain it?

No. He couldn’t let it get to that point. He needed to find someone to break intentionally before his own darkness overwhelmed him. The only way to keep it from consuming him was to give into the need before it became a compulsion.

Fuji frowned. There was a little under an hour before Ryoma’s match with Kentarou and he was sitting here brooding. Right now, he needed to be more focused on what was best for Ryoma and less focused on his own demons. “Saeki,” he said, “wake up.”

Saeki groaned and rolled over, clearly intent on staying asleep.

Rolling his eyes, Fuji leaned down and poked him in the ribs, causing Sae to give a small yelp as he came awake.

“What the hell was that for?” Saeki asked, glaring.

Fuji scowled.

Saeki flinched, not awake enough to hide the affect Fuji’s bad temper had on him. He looked at the floor, suppressing the urge to apologize. With a few minor exceptions, he didn’t believe in apologizing. In his experience, they just made things worse.

“We have under an hour to eat breakfast and get to the court. Or would you prefer I let you sleep through Ryoma’s match?”

Saeki swallowed at the calm in Fuji’s voice. That never bode well. Instead of replying, he stood and folded the sheet he’d used. He rolled the mat up and leaned it against the wall. As he dressed, he was keenly aware of Fuji’s sharp gaze on his back.

Fuji digested Saeki’s silence. He was used to Ryoma’s quick apologies, but Saeki’s personality was distinctly different. Fuji noticed the tense set of his friend’s back; he knew he’d misspoken. That was why he’d fallen silent. It was his way of acknowledging a mistake.

When Saeki was done getting ready, he turned to face Fuji. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, preparing himself for the blow to his pride. Once he was ready, he opened his eyes and met Fuji’s gaze. Holding eye contact, he dropped to his knees. He didn’t bother to hide the wince as his knees connected with the wooden floor.

Fuji stared. There’d been no words exchanged but this gesture from Saeki spoke volumes. The man was serious about following him, about submitting. Fuji swallowed; winning Saeki’s submission was different than winning Ryoma’s. Ryoma was a natural submissive; Saeki was not. While Saeki had tried to convey that he was choosing to submit to Fuji last night, the gesture he’d undertaken now really drove it home.

Fuji gathered his wits and nodded at Saeki. He couldn’t afford to fall apart like he almost had last night. That momentary weakness could cause him a world of trouble if he was going to be dominant over these two men. “I expect a respectful tone from you at all times, Sae. I’m not above making you write lines if you can’t keep that clear.”

Saeki’s shoulders quivered as he attempted to keep his contempt for that idea hidden.

“Am I understood?” Fuji asked.

“Hai, Fuji-sama,” Sae answered, his tenor strong and clear. He knew what he was getting into and he planned to do the best he could to live up to the expectations Fuji and Ryoma had of him.

“Okay,” Fuji said. “Then let’s go eat breakfast. I’d like to get to the match before it starts so I hope cereal is okay with you.”

Saeki’s eyes lit up with anticipation. “It’s fine. I’m looking forward to the match as much as you are.”

Fuji smirked. “Eager to see Ryoma crush Kentarou?”

“You wish.”

The two of them made their way downstairs, lightly joking with each other about the upcoming match. Saeki was careful not to get too glib and Fuji noted how well his friend-turned-lover avoided becoming disrespectful. It would be interesting to see if he could get Saeki to cross that line. A new game to play. How nice.

He smirked to himself as they began their walk toward the courts. At least now he’d have something to occupy his thoughts that wasn’t worry about his growing desire to tear someone apart.

 

Chapter 20     Chapter Index     Chapter 22

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