Chapter 21

As the rescheduled match with Rikkaidai grew closer, nightmares became a regular occurrence in Fuji’s life. So regular, in fact, that he’d stopped inviting his lovers to spend the night. Not because he didn’t want his lovers with him but because he was no longer sleeping at his own house.

Fuji knew that if his father found out about the dreams, he would be sent back to that woman. To avoid that, he’d moved himself into Tony’s apartment without offering an explanation, and Tony hadn’t asked for one.

With the nightmares growing more vivid by the night, Fuji knew he was going to have to tell Ryoma about his past. The idea of Ryoma discovering just how deep his dark desires really ran terrified him, and he couldn’t get the image of Ryoma leaving him out of his head. He knew Saeki would stay with him even if Ryoma didn’t, but that wasn’t a consolation to Fuji.

Saeki would always be an integral part of his life, but he couldn’t offer Fuji the same acceptance that Ryoma could. Ryoma was the first man who had seen the darkness in Fuji and, rather than accepting it, had embraced it. Ryoma cherished his sadism the way Fuji treasured Ryoma’s masochism, and he was afraid that if Ryoma knew the truth about the torture he had been forced to undergo in order to tame the deeper levels of his sadism that Ryoma would leave.

Fuji had hoped the nightmares would ease as he put his plans to break Kirihara’s spirit into motion, but that hadn’t happened. Instead, it seemed that everything he did just made the nightmares worse. Nothing eased the terror he felt when he slid under the covers at night, knowing that he was going to relive being tortured in his dreams.

He didn’t understand why the nightmares were surfacing now, so many years after the torture had occurred. Fuji was scared that his father was right, afraid that having the dreams meant he needed to go back to that place and have his dark desires cowed into submission for another few years. Fuji didn’t want his life to be like that – a life where he had to be tortured to keep control of his sadism every few years was no sort of life at all. Fuji just didn’t know what he needed to do to stop the dreams.

And Saeki had noticed the bags under Fuji’s eyes and had voiced concern, concern that Fuji had brushed aside. He wasn’t ready to let Saeki know how bad the dreams were, even though he was fairly certain Saeki already knew.

Fuji sighed, pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and headed out the door. He had arranged to meet with his lovers in the park. Perhaps a light workout would be enough to get his mind off the nightmares.

When he arrived at the park, Saeki and Ryoma were already waiting for him. They waved him over to a picnic table. Fuji sat down beside Ryoma and pulled the freshman onto his lap. The fact that Ryoma didn’t voice any complaints was a testament to Saeki’s skills as a disciplinarian. Ryoma rarely complained these days, although he was still snarky.

“You look like shit,” Saeki said.

Fuji glared at him. “Hello to you too,” he said.

Saeki rolled his eyes. “Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Fuji, you look like you haven’t slept in a week.”

Ryoma twisted around in Fuji’s arms to get a better look at his lover. “He’s right, Syu, you look terrible.”

“I just had a rough night,” Fuji said, willing his lovers to drop this line of conversation.

Saeki frowned. “Ryoma, can you give us a few minutes?”

Ryoma’s eyes narrowed. “Is there something you need to say that I’m not allowed to hear?” His voice was tight.

Saeki nodded. “It’s about what happened in the past.”

“You mean it’s about the stuff Fuji still refuses to tell me,” Ryoma said.

Saeki winced. “Yeah.”

“Fine,” Ryoma said. He went to stand, but Fuji held him in place. “Let go,” he snapped. He wasn’t in the mood to be treated like a plaything. Not when Fuji was still keeping secrets from him.

Fuji’s arms trembled as he pulled Ryoma closer to him. “No,” he said. “Stay, please.” He needed to tell Ryoma, and he was tired of putting it off. If Ryoma left, Fuji knew he’d never recover, but if he never told Ryoma, then he would lose him anyway.

“Unless you’re asking me to stay so you can tell me what you’ve been keeping from me, I suggest you let go of me right now,” Ryoma said, voice hard. “I am tired of being kept in the dark.”

Fuji smiled into the crook of Ryoma’s neck. His lover definitely had a backbone made of steel. “I’m going to tell you,” he said. “So stay, please.”

Ryoma relaxed back into Fuji’s grasp. “Okay,” he said. “I’m listening.”

Fuji took a deep breath and caught Saeki’s eye, reassured by the affirmation he found there. “I told you about America and the man I interrogated, and I know Tony gave you all the details. What I didn’t tell you is what happened next.”

Ryoma twisted around in Fuji’s lap so he could make eye contact. “Next?” he prompted.

“Until I interrogated Jason, I had never hurt someone to the limit of what they could endure. I never realized how intoxicated I would become by holding the power of life and death in my hands. For weeks after that interrogation ended, I would dream about crushing bones with my bare hands. I would wake up with my sheets wet.” Fuji couldn’t hold Ryoma’s gaze, afraid he would find horror in his eyes.

Ryoma poked him in the ribs. “I already know you’re a sadist, Syu. I’m not surprised that you got off thinking about hurting people.”

That startled a laugh out of Fuji. “You amaze me, Ryoma.”

Ryoma shrugged. “Is that it? What you were so afraid to tell me?”

Fuji shook his head. “No, there’s more.” He took another deep breath, steeling himself. “At first, the dreams only happened at night. Eventually, though, they started invading my everyday life. The desire to hurt people crept into my thoughts, and I found myself wanting to break the bones of strangers who annoyed me. It wasn’t until a child, no more than five, angered me by singing too loudly that I realized I was having trouble controlling my urge to hurt others.”

“Did you hurt the kid?” Ryoma asked.

“No, of course not,” Fuji said. “But I wanted to, and my desire to hurt him terrified me. Instead, I went to my father. I told him what had happened with Jason and about the way my dreams were spilling over into my waking life. I told him that I was afraid I was going to lose control of myself because I had enjoyed hurting Jason – enjoyed it to the point I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from hurting someone else, someone who didn’t deserve it.”

“And did you?” Ryoma prompted, his tone reserved. Whatever had happened, it was in the past. Surely Syuusuke could see that.

“No, I didn’t,” Fuji answered. “My dad intervened. He sent me to Hayashi Sayuri.”

“Hayashi?” Ryoma asked. “Any relation to Hayashi Sora?”

Fuji nodded. “Hayashi Sayuri is Sora’s aunt. They are both assassins.”

“Okay. Why did your dad send you to an assassin? That seems counterintuitive.”

Fuji couldn’t help it; he laughed. And if the laugh was a bit hysterical, well, no one could blame him. “He didn’t send me to her to have her teach me how to kill,” Fuji said. “My father sent me to her to have me tortured.” In response to that, Ryoma stiffened in his arms. This was it; this was the moment that Ryoma decided to walk away from him.

When Ryoma spoke, his tone had dropped three octaves. “He did what?” he asked.

Despite himself, Fuji shivered. He’d never heard so much anger and hatred rolled into Ryoma’s tone, and he was unspeakably relieved that it wasn’t directed towards him. Fuji swallowed and forced himself to speak past the lump of emotion in his throat. “My father sent me to her to have me tortured. He told me that if I couldn’t learn to control my sadism, I would be better off dead. So, he offered me a choice. I could learn to control my sadism under Hayashi Sayuri’s tutelage, or I could kill myself. I didn’t know at the time that Hayashi’s lessons were going to involve torture.”

“What did she do to you?” Ryoma asked, wrapping his arms around Syuusuke’s waist. He could tell his lover needed support to get through this, and there was no way he was leaving Fuji alone to deal with this.

Fuji flinched. “She made me tell her everything I did to Jason and then she taught me how all of it felt in excruciating detail. She would interrogate me the way I did Jason, let me heal, and then do it over again. For two years, she made me relive every torment I inflicted on him, and I swore at the end of those two years to never hurt anyone like that again.”

“And you never have,” Saeki said, speaking up from across the table.

“No, I haven’t,” Fuji said. “Instead, I found other ways to express my sadism through manipulation. I never expressed my sadism physically after that, not until you came along, Ryoma. You’re the first person I’ve ever hurt since Jason, and I’m scared that I may not be able to control myself.”

Ryoma rolled his eyes and flicked Fuji’s forehead. “First of all, I’m not Jason. I’m not some sleazy slave trader that deserves to be tortured, so the idea that you could ever do to me what you did to him is ridiculous. Secondly, I like being hurt, but I won’t ever let you go too far with me. Neither will Saeki. I know what too far looks like, remember? If I ever think you’re getting close to that line, I’ll tell you. And if you ever cross it, I’ll walk out the door and never come back, no matter how much I love you.”

Saeki grinned at Fuji. “I told you he could handle it.”

“Yeah, you did. I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you, Ryu-chan.”

Ryoma sighed. “I’m not going to say everything’s fine, Syu, because it isn’t fine that it took you so long to tell me, but I’m glad that you did finally tell me. I don’t like it when people keep secrets from me, and I don’t understand why you felt the need to keep this.”

Fuji swallowed. “I was afraid that if I told you, you wouldn’t want anything to do with me. I was afraid my sadism might run too deep for you, if you knew exactly how much I enjoy hurting people.”

“You’re an idiot, Syu,” Ryoma said, tone affectionate. “I fell in love with you because you’re a sadist. Why would I run away from you because you enjoy causing pain?”

Saeki cleared his throat, gaining the attention of his lovers. “Now that’s cleared up,” he said. “Want to tell us why you look like you haven’t slept in a week?”

Fuji sighed. “I’m having nightmares about being tortured.”

“Again?” Saeki asked.

Fuji gave a short nod. “I’ve been having them since Sora called in her debt, but they’ve become more frequent the closer I come to fulfilling it.”

Saeki frowned. “You’re not doing anything to hurt anyone physically, though, so it doesn’t make sense that they would increase.”

“Sure it does,” Ryoma said, pulling his hat down when both of his lovers stared at him. “Che. It makes sense that Syu is having nightmares when the debt he owes is to someone in the Hayashi family. It’s probably because he’s unconsciously afraid that if he fails to fulfill the debt he owes Hayashi Sora that she will say something to her aunt, and yeah. I’ll let you guys fill in the rest.”

Fuji blinked. That made a twisted kind of sense. “When did you get smart?” he asked, ruffling Ryoma’s hair.

Ryoma grinned at him. “Made made dane.”

For that, Fuji tickled him until he was laughing so hard his laughter turned into sobs. “Yeah,” he said. “You’re definitely a brat.”

“Mm,” Ryoma agreed. “But I’m your brat.”

Chapter 20     Index     Chapter 22

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