Chapter 17

Saeki stared out the window from his English classroom, considering the rain streaking down the glass. There would be no tennis practice after school, which was fine with him. His father would be coming back into town tonight and there was no doubt in his mind that there was going to be a “talk.”

After what had happened with his mother the other day, he’d known there was only a little bit of time left to him before his father found out. He shifted uneasily in his chair, tuning the teacher out. He was more worried about his father’s reaction than his teacher’s displeasure if she caught him being inattentive.

The “accident,” as his parents called it, had changed things. His mother had become slightly more affectionate and a large deal more anxious than before. His father, on the other hand, had become distant. The two of them used to share everything. But the accident had changed everything.

It wouldn’t have been so bad, Saeki thought, if he hadn’t pressed me.Fuji’s actions seven years ago had ended with Saeki laying in a hospital bed, nursing a full set of broken ribs, a broken wrist on his right side, and a broken ulna on his left. He hadn’t been able to do much of anything for six weeks.

He flushed, remembering it. The nurses had offered to spoon-feed him, but he’d declined and insisted that they use intravenous means of getting him the necessary sustenance. Neither his parents nor the nurses had liked it, but he’d thrown a tantrum every time they’d come near him with the intention of spoon-feeding him.

He may not have been able to use his arms, but his feet had worked perfectly fine. Even though it had caused him considerable pain in his ribs, he’d kicked at them and the table and generally made it impossible for less than three people to hold him down. And when they had done that, he’d bitten them for their efforts. While he could suffer the indignity of a broken bone or two, he had refused to abide by their attempts to humiliate him by spoon-feeding him.

Saeki grimaced as he remembered those weeks. His parents had been horrified at what had happened to him and they’d been incredibly sympathetic. His mother had fussed over him every day and was the one who had eventually gotten the nurses to back down on the spoon-feeding issue.

But his father…he closed his eyes and shivered. The day after the accident his father had come to his hospital room and insisted that he press charges against Fuji. But Saeki hadn’t understood the reasoning behind his father’s insistence and that had been the beginning of the rift between them.

Every day for those six weeks, his father had come into his hospital room and asked him to press charges. Every day, Saeki had refused. And his mother had backed him up on every decision he made in the hospital. It was amazing that his parents’ marriage had survived the strain of those arguments.

The bell rang and Saeki shook himself out of his trance. He threw the books he didn’t need in his locker and hefted his history textbook in his right hand. With it being so near the end of the week, his homework load was lighter than usual.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned it from silent to full volume. Glancing at the screen, he started to become alarmed as he realized he’d missed ten texts from Syuusuke. He opened them, his sense of trepidation growing as the tone grew more and more urgent.

Sae, we need to talk.

Sae, we need to talk soon.

Sae, why aren’t you answering? We need to talk.

Sae, really? Answer me.

Sae, I’m starting to get annoyed.

Sae, I hope you’re not ignoring me on purpose.

Sae, as soon as you see these messages, text me asap.

Sae, we really need to talk. Like now.

Saeki, you’re starting to freak me out. Text me back asap.

Saeki, I’m getting pissed. It’s after school. Check your damn cell phone already. We need to talk NOW.

Saeki rolled his eyes, despite the unease in his stomach. Fuji didn’t get this emotional. Something had happened. Something bad. Saeki forced himself to breathe. The last time Fuji had gotten this distraught, he’d been the one that paid the price.

Was it a good idea, now, for him to go to Syuusuke, considering their past? Saeki shook his head. They’d agreed to let the past go, but how was he supposed to banish the instinctive reaction he had to assume a fighting stance when Fuji was upset? It wasn’t easy. The man had injured him severely and even seven years wasn’t enough time for his body to forget the trauma of that day.

But he’s my lover now, not just my friend, Saeki reminded himself. He has more self-control now than he did then. And you know how he got it. He felt queasy as the memory of that conversation flashed through his head. He did know and it sickened him. Fuji’s own father had sold him out. Maybe it had been something Syuusuke needed in order to curb his own sadistic inclinations, but Saeki doubted it. The only reason Syuusuke’s sadism had taken such a dark turn to begin with was the association with his father’s underground friends.

Saeki scowled. If Syuuske hadn’t been associated with the underground from the time he was five, maybe he could have dealt with his sadism in a more nurturing environment. Saeki realized the absurdity of his thoughts and snorted. There was no more nurturing environment for a sadist than an underground family who thrived on violence. The problem wasn’t the sadism-it was the way it was channeled.

But Syuusuke had fixed that-or had it fixed. Saeki wasn’t certain how true that was. Yes, Fuji had been tortured for getting too caught up in his own sadism-but was that really the way to tame it? Wasn’t it really just a matter of time before Syuusuke snapped? Saeki shook a little as he considered the implications.

No, he told himself firmly. I trust Syuusuke now. He has changed a lot in seven years. I need to give my lover the benefit of the doubt. Saeki took a deep breath and typed a response into his phone.

Sorry, Syu. I had my phone on vibrate. Just got your messages. What’s up?

The reply was near instantaneous. We need to talk. Can you meet me at my house?

Yeah. Will Ryoma be there?

Not until later. He had to do something for his dad. I need to talk to you alone, though, so it works out.

Saeki swallowed. If Syuusuke needed to talk to him alone, it could only mean one thing. What happened?

I don’t want to talk about it over the phone.

Saeki frowned. He wished Syuusuke didn’t need to control the flow of information. Then bemusement sank in. Of course Syu needed control. Okay, he sent back. I’ll be there in fifteen.

No response came back, so Saeki shrugged, shut his phone, and started walking towards Fuji’s house. As he walked, he couldn’t help but hope that Fuji really had changed. Because if things came down to a fight like they had seven years ago, Saeki wasn’t sure he could handle himself. Sure, he had the fighting skills and the superior agility-but he also had the remembrance of the trauma Fuji had inflicted on his body. That was one advantage that he wasn’t sure he could overcome, if it came down to fighting.

It won’t come down to that, he repeated, chanting it like a mantra as he walked. Fuji has changed. He won’t hurt me like before. He won’t. He won’t. He won’t.

Chapter 16     Chapter Index     Chapter 18

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  1. Chains of Choice Chapter 17 | Luana Araceli

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