Chapter 10

Fuji frowned as his cell vibrated in his pocket. He’d finished all of his work and was walking up the driveway to his house. He pulled the phone out of his pocket and half-smiled as he flipped it open. “Ryoma,” he said. “How unusual for you to call me.”

Unusual didn’t cover it. Since they had started dating, Ryoma had never called Fuji. It had become an unspoken understanding that Ryoma never initiated contact, because doing so undermined the authority he’d given Fuji.

Ryoma sucked in a deep breath. “Che,” he said. “I’m only calling because somethin’s up with Saeki.”

Fuji’s lips twitched at the thinly veiled insolence. “Oh?” he asked, inserting the key into his front door.

“Hai,” Ryoma said. “He’s got a weird insecurity thing going on. I don’t like it.”

Fuji missed a step, almost stumbling across the threshold. Saeki? Insecure? He wished the two images didn’t fit together so well in his mind. “And Saeki’s revealing his innermost feelings to you already?” He winced, the words a forceful reminder that he himself hadn’t been very forthcoming with Ryoma.

There was a pause as Ryoma weighed those words and Fuji knew his lover was deciding whether to toss them back in his face or let the comment slide.

“Hai,” Ryoma said, his voice tight with the effort it took to restrain himself.

Fuji breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t want to deal with a temper tantrum. “Tell me what happened.” Ryoma hesitated a moment too long and Fuji scowled at the phone. “Ryoma,” he said, the word laden with warning.

“We were talking,” Ryoma said. “I told him my concerns about you keeping secrets from me.”

A flash of panic drove the breath from Fuji’s lungs and he closed his eyes, trying to regain his equilibrium. The world dulled and he heard nothing for a few seconds or minutes—he couldn’t tell, he felt like he was floating in a vacuum—and then it all came rushing back, just in time for him to hear –

“-And he offered to tell me your secrets, because he said he was the least important of all of us and that he would give up his own happiness for ours.”

Panic threatened to seize him again, but Fuji pushed it down. Ryoma didn’t know, did he? If he did, oh what a weight that would lift…but if he didn’t, and Fuji said the wrong thing…he cleared his throat. “And?” he asked.

“And what?”

“Did you ask him?”

Ryoma was quiet for a few seconds. “I thought about it,” he admitted. “But I decided that I want you to tell me your secrets, Syuusuke, I don’t want someone else to tell me before you’re ready to let me in.”

Fuji’s head swam. While Ryoma’s words made sense, his actions didn’t. “So you called me.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because of Saeki. He thinks he’s not important. Haven’t you been listening?” Petulance snuck into Ryoma’s tone.

Fuji’s lips tightened in annoyance as he took a seat on his bed. “That’s the second time today you’ve developed an attitude with me,” he said.

Ryoma swallowed, but didn’t reply.

“Get Saeki. I want you both here within the hour. And Ryoma?”

“Yes, Syuusuke?” The trepidation in Ryoma’s voice was palpable.

“Buy some soap. You know what kind.”

“Hai, Fuji-sama,” Ryoma said, his tone coming out meek and subdued.

Fuji snapped his phone shut, ending the call, and laid back on the bed. With his arms folded behind his head, he stared at the ceiling and gathered the strength he was going to need to deal with his lovers.

Ryoma stopped in front of the drugstore and snapped his phone open, dialing Saeki’s number.

“Hey,” Saeki said, answering after the first ring.

“Saeki-san, please tell me I caught you before you got on the bus.”

“You did. I’m waiting at the station now.”

Ryoma sighed in relief. “I’m glad. Listen, I just talked to Syuusuke. He wants us both at his house within the hour.”

“Oh,” Saeki said. “Where are you?”

Ryoma grimaced, shooting a distasteful look at the drugstore looming in front of him. “I’m in front of the pharmacy.”

“Is there a bench near you?”

Ryoma glanced around, spotting a bench directly across from the store’s entrance. “There is. Why?”

Saeki let out a small laugh. “Is it occupied?”

“No.”

Saeki’s tone suddenly turned hard. “Good. Sit down and wait for me. I’m two blocks away.”

Ryoma swallowed. While it was Saeki’s prerogative to give him orders, it was the first time the man had sounded so forceful. Without thinking about it too much, Ryoma found himself obeying. He sat on the bench. Faced with the drugstore, knowing what he had to buy, he found it difficult to remain there.

“I’m on the bench, Saeki-san,” he said. “May I ask why you wanted me to sit?” He kept his tone respectful. The drugstore was a powerful reminder of what he’d done wrong and he had no desire to add to the punishment he knew was waiting for him at Fuji’s.

“Makes it easier for me to find you,” Saeki said. “Now tell me why Syuusuke wants us at his house. He made it clear this morning that he needed us out of the way today.”

Ryoma closed his eyes. He had a feeling that Saeki wasn’t going to like the answer. But the pause he took was too long.

“Ryoma,” Saeki said. “Do we need to revisit the rules about respect?” His tone was steel.

“No, Saeki-san. Gomen nasai,” Ryoma said. Before further admonishment was forthcoming, he continued, “I called Syuusuke. I told him about our conversation in the park.”

“And now he wants us at his house?” Saeki asked, mild surprise in his voice.

Ryoma hesitated. “I told him that you offered me to tell me his secrets.”

“I see.” Saeki’s words were devoid of emotion.

Ryoma didn’t know if he should be apologizing or reassuring. Saeki’s sudden detachment freaked him out. “I—are you mad?” he asked, voice a whisper.

“Mad? No,” Saeki said. “I knew before we talked that you don’t keep secrets from Syuusuke. I’m just surprised that you told him so fast.” Saeki’s tone was flat, monotonous.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“That makes two of us. I’m close. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”

“I’m sor—” The phone went flat as Saeki hung up and Ryoma slipped his into his pocket. He tugged his hat down over his eyes and folded his hands in his lap. Today was turning out to be one of the worst days he’d had in a long time. Everything he said seemed to work only to make things worse.

Chapter 9     Chapter Index     Chapter 11

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