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In a Broken World

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          Lost. It was the only word Yuki could think of to describe his life at that moment. He was lost and his world was broken. It had been six months since Ken’s death and he still had nightmares, or a dream of a dream that he could never quite wake up from. He was sitting in the waiting room of the orthopedic doctor’s office, waiting for the nurse to come and take him for x-rays. Yuki had come alone, he wanted none of his friends or family there to nag him about not taking better care in his recovery. A nurse came into the waiting area, “Yuki, we’re ready for you.”

          Half an hour of x-rays later, the doctor sat in front of Yuki and paged through the report. “Everything looks great, except your back.” The doctor looked up from his charts. “I understand how hard it is for a young man of your age to restrict your activities, but your T-8 has not healed correctly.”

          “What happens if I don’t want the surgery?” Yuki was challenging the doctor. “You’ll be in pain for most of your life, and possibly disabled by the time you’re 40.” He said bluntly. “Can you explain the surgery please?” The doctor smiled and went through the procedure with Yuki, explaining the recovery time and rehabilitation aspects.

          “I’d like to schedule the procedure four weeks from today, you will be in the hospital just over night, but you will need someone to take you home and you’ll need some help at home as well.”

          With a new prescription for pain medication and a gentle scolding from the doctor, Yuki left the medical building with a growing sense of doom; he would have to tell someone that he was going to have surgery. “Who the hell am I going to tell that won’t chew me out?”

          Walking around the pharmacy while his prescription was being filled, Yuki mulled over who he was going to ask to help him, knowing he didn’t want to ask Aiko, that left Ayato and Pon, neither of which he wanted to ask to take any more time off than they already had. If he could figure out a way just to get home from the hospital, he wouldn’t need anyone’s help in the flat…but that was just it, who could he get to bring him home?

          Listing the possibilities in his head as he drove, he kept coming back to one name; Aoi. He knew the man would do anything for him, but his heart told him he’d be leading the man on, and just using him. “I can’t even ask that…”

          “Hey, what’s up?” Ayato met Yuki in the parking lot of the complex, pulling in just after him. “Nothing, just went to the cemetery for a little bit.” Why am I lying? “Want to come over for a beer… wait, you’re not still on pain meds are you?” Yuki had the pills in his bag, “Uh, no…I’m done with those. Sure, give me a minute to feed the kids and I’ll be over.”

          Taking a pain pill then stashing his medication in the bathroom, he fed the two screaming kittens, Yuki tightened his back brace and walked over to Ayato’s. “You’re not working today?” taking the beer Ayato handed him, “Nope, but Akira is going to be late, I think this is the last day in the studio for him.”

          After the first two beers, Yuki started to feel the effects of the alcohol mixing with the pain medication, relaxing him to the point that he no longer cared if he was in pain, lounging on the couch with is feet up. “Hey, should you be sitting like that?” Ayato looked over, noticing the unconcerned posture of his best friend. “I’m okay, my back doesn’t hurt, it’s fine.” After three beers, Yuki finally decided that he needed to cook himself some dinner, and left Ayato to wonder if his friend really was ‘okay’.

          Yuki thought he was great at that moment; his back didn’t hurt, he wasn’t crying over Ken, and he enjoyed his dinner as he sat with his computer on his lap, just typing in random search words.

          As the effects of the beer wore off, Yuki’s eyes began to droop. He’d had a busy day and still had to find a ride home from the hospital for his surgery. Cleaning up his dinner mess, making sure that Rin and Sora had food for the night, Yuki made his way down to his bedroom, hoping that he would have a dreamless night.

          Laying in bed, he opened his phone and flipped through his contacts; who could he rely on, that wouldn’t spread the information about the surgery to his close friends and especially not to his family?

          His eyes kept coming back to the same person; Aoi. “Fine.” Turning onto his side, he quickly typed out the text and hit send before he could back out. “I need to talk to you about something, call me when you can.” Yuki’s eyes were slowly closing before he even shut his phone.

          “I need to talk to you about something, call me when you can.”

          Aoi knew it was too late to call Yuki at that moment, which left him the rest of the evening to fret over what the boy wanted to talk to him about; was he asking to see him? Was he interested in going out with Aoi? “Pfft, dumbass, you should know better than that.” Lying in bed he let a million scenario’s run through his mind, until he finally got up and grabbed a sleeping pill, went back to bed and put the pillow over his head.

          “Uh, sure…when and where?”

          Aoi’s mouth hung open, “You’ve got to be fucking joking, why in the world would you ask me to do this for you?” Yuki crossed his arms and sat back in his chair. “Because you won’t run your big mouth to my friends, that’s why… yes or no? Will you take me to the hospital and pick me up?”

          “I absolutely will not take you or pick you up! Why are you hiding this from Ayato, hell…why doesn’t your family know you’re having surgery? What the hell have you been doing to fuck up your back so badly?” Yuki’s request had thrown Aoi completely off the rails, the fact that Yuki wanted to hide the surgery from his family and friends was beyond what he could understand.

          “My family doesn’t need to know, I don’t need Aiko hovering over me like a freaking nurse, and I don’t’ need Ayato screaming at me about what I’ve been doing to fuck up my back. Just take me to the hospital, then take me home the next day…I’m not asking for that much.” Yuki knew this had been a mistake, waking up and seeing that he had basically drunk texted Aoi.

          Aoi was pissed, “You will tell your family or I swear, Yuki…I’ll tell them myself!”

          “What? FUCK YOU! This was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, asking you for anything, you’re a selfish bastard!” Yuki turned to grab his bag, stepping down from the chair, his face paled and he started to fall forward, Aoi catching him at the last second, “Yuki! What …”

          Yuki stood carefully, then pushed Aoi’s arm away, “Leave me alone…forget I ever talked to you.” Placing his hand in the small of his back, Yuki slowly walked to the door and left the café. “You fucking stupid kid.” Aoi got up and went after Yuki. “Hey!” running up behind Yuki, “Let me take you home…you look like you’re going to pass out.”

          “I have my car, just leave me alone Yuu.”

          “No, I’m not leaving you alone, you’re in pain, just let me drive you home and get you inside, then I’ll leave.” Aoi wasn’t quite begging, but close. “You’ve made it perfectly clear what you think of helping me, I don’t need you Aoi. I’ll call a damned cab if I have to, just go away.” Aoi fell into step next to Yuki, following him to his car. “If you can get into your car without passing out, I’ll leave you alone.”

          Yuki said something under his breath that sounded like ‘fuck off’, as he turned the corner and walked to his car in the lot. Reaching into his pocket, he took out his keys and opened the door, throwing his bag in. “Look, just go home Yuu, seriously I’m fine.” Aoi stood with his arms crossed over his chest.

          It took Yuki a few minutes to get himself into the car, and he was in pain but he wouldn’t give Aoi the satisfaction of admitting that he needed help. “I told you… go home, just leave me alone and forget I ever called you.” He reached out and pulled the door closed, and started the car. Aoi looked down at him, shaking his head in disbelief as Yuki backed the car out and drove away.

          The tears burned behind Yuki’s eyes as he slowly made his way back to the flat, Aoi’s words burning in his ears, “You told me you still love me… why won’t you help me then?”

          Because you’re using him babe, and he knows it.

          “How is that using him? I’m asking him to take me to the hospital and pick me up, I’m not asking him for anything more.”

          Really Yu? You’re playing games with him, you know he loves you and you’re trying to use that to get what you want, that’s kinda pathetic.

          “Now you’re telling me what to do? That’s not fair Ken, that’s totally not fucking fair!”

          Babe, nothing that’s happening right now is fair. You’re hiding your surgery from your family and friends, why? I’d never let you do that if I was still

          “You’re not, you’re fucking dead and this isn’t fucking fair! I have to do all this shit alone, by myself!” Yuki was sobbing, his vision blurred as he drove through the streets, trying to make it home before he collapsed.  

          Parking haphazardly, it took Yuki several minutes to get out of the car, and into his flat, praying that none of the others would see him. He just wanted to get inside, take a pain pill and have a beer, the combined effects seemed to help him manage his pain better. Ignoring the cries of two hungry kittens, he grabbed a beer out of the fridge and stumbled into his bathroom, grabbing the pill bottle, shaking out two pills and popping them in his mouth, followed by a large gulp of beer.  He slowly walked back down the hall, taking sips of beer as he made his way to the kitchen, “Yes, I’ll feed you now,” he mumbled to Rin and Sora, as he poured dry food into their bowl, “I know it’s not wet food, but it hurts for me to bend right now, I promise to give you some in the morning.”

          He stumbled to the couch, spilling his beer on the floor as he tried to sit down, “Shit…” Bending forward, Yuki tried to pick up the beer can, but ended up falling into the glass coffee table, busting his forehead open just over his left eye. “What the…” sitting up he put his hand to his head, feeling the warm blood starting to run down into his eye. “Damn…”  With his hand pressed against his forehead, his brain muddled with alcohol and pain pills, Yuki couldn’t draw a cognitive thought on what he should do next.  

          “Gosta ges sum…hurss,” trying to stand just made the room swirl and turn him over, “S’damn…” sitting back down on the couch, he leaned his head back, “ssoo tired…. napsss,” he slowly toppled over, his hand still on his forehead and still covered in blood as he closed his eyes.

          “Aoi?” Reita came around the corner and almost knocked his bandmate down, “What are you doing here?” Aoi frowned, “we need to talk, it’s going to piss him off but I don’t care.” Aoi pushed past Reita and walked into the man’s flat. “Is Ayato here?” He asked as he sat down, “Um, no…he’s at work, want to tell me what the hell is going on? Who’s going to be pissed?”

          “Yuki,” Aoi rubbed his face roughly before explaining. “He texted me last night, wanting to ask me for some help. I met him earlier at a café and what he asked… damn it Rei… he asked me to take him and pick him up from the hospital in like four weeks, because he has to have surgery on his back and he didn’t want to tell anyone.” Aoi felt like a piece of shit ratting Yuki out, but this wasn’t some minor bullshit issue.  

          “Wow, he asked you?” Reita found that hard to believe, “Yah, he doesn’t want to tell Aiko, because she’ll get all mom like, and he didn’t want to tell Ayato either…”

          “Tell me what?” Ayato pushed open the door, just catching the last part of Aoi’s statement, “Babe, Yuki needs surgery on his back, but he doesn’t want anyone to know.” Reita got up and hugged his boyfriend, then went to the kitchen to grab him a cola, “What the fuck? Why are you here?” he snipped at Aoi.

          “He asked me to take him and pick him up after the surgery, I told him no.”

          “Why?” Ayato took the cola from Reita, “Why? Because he needs to tell his family that he’s having surgery, that’s why! He shouldn’t be hiding this shit from them or from you… would you rather I just do it?”   

          “No, but I want to know exactly why you wouldn’t agree to it…I mean it’s a perfect opportunity to spend time with him alone, you can’t deny you didn’t think of that.”

          “Ayato… really?” Reita groaned. “Yes really, answer me Yuu, why did you turn him down?” Ayato kept pressing for an answer. “Because it’s a serious medical issue, he shouldn’t be lying to his family about having surgery on his back, he shouldn’t be lying to you either, I’m not going to be part of that, period. Look if you don’t want me here, I’ll leave, I just wanted to check on him. He had some problems getting in his car when he left.” Aoi got up to leave, “Yuu, wait a minute, sit down.” Ayato snapped. “Let me go talk to him first before you leave.”

          Ayato walked into Yuki’s flat, seeing his best friend asleep on the couch. “Hey, we need to …. SHIT! AKIRA!!! YUU!!!” Moving quickly, Ayato kneeled on the floor in front of Yuki, pulling the boy’s hand away from his face, “Yu… what happened? Yu? Yuki!”

          “Babe, what’s… damn it… what happened?” Reita kneeled next to Ayato, “I don’t know, but he’s bleeding from his forehead, what did he cut himself on?” Aoi grabbed a wet towel from the kitchen, “Here, wipe his face off,” Ayato carefully moved Yuki’s hand, “Oh shit, this is nasty. Yuki, hey wake up…” Ayato gently shook Yuki’s shoulder, but got no response, “Yuki!”

          Aoi sat down on the couch, pulling Yuki up into his arms, “Hey, Yuki… come on, wake up, hey…it’s Yuu, wake up babe…come on.” All he got was a mumble, “Look,” Reita held up a beer can, “You don’t think?” Ayato growled, “This stupid son of a bitch, he’s on pain meds and drinking! He fucking lied to me!” Ayato got up and stormed out of the flat, “Wait…Ayato! Stay here Yuu, I’ll be right back.” Reita ran after Ayato, calling his boyfriends name.

          “Why would you do something so stupid?” Aoi murmured, “Come on, we’re going to wake you up and you’re not going to like it but too bad.” Laying Yuki back down, Aoi got up and walked down to the bedrooms, looking for the bathroom with the tub. “Okay… towels, lots of towels.” Digging through cabinets, he found a few big bath towels then laid them out next to the tub. Reaching over to pull the stopper, Aoi turned the water on, the temperature just shy of cold. “You’re going to hate me…”

          Yuki hadn’t moved and was still passed out. “Okay…here we go,” lifting the young man into his arms, “You don’t weigh a thing, have you even been eating?” Aoi carefully carried Yuki down to the bedroom and into the bathroom. Sitting on the side of the tub, he reached over and turned the water off.

          He reached down and pulled off is socks, then slowly turned and lowered Yuki into the tepid water, “Hey… come on now, you need to open your eyes for me, Yuki…come on, wake up.” The reaction wasn’t instant, but it didn’t take but thirty seconds for Yuki’s eyes to flash open as he gasped, “What the hell?”

          Yuki started to thrash around, trying to get out of the cold water, “Hey wait a minute!” Aoi yelled, “Let me get you some towels!” Yuki gaped at Aoi, “What the hell are you doing here and why am I in this fucking freezing water?” Aoi held a wash cloth to Yuki’s forehead, then pulled it away, “Because of this, dumb ass.” Showing Yuki the bloody wash cloth, the young man looked down at the red tinged water he was sitting in.

          “What were you thinking? You mixed beer and pain medication? Then you hit your head on something? You passed out… you could have slipped into a coma, Yu.” Aoi scolded Yuki, as he rinsed out the wash cloth and put it back on his forehead, “let me see if you need stitches,” placing a finger under Yuki’s chin and tipping it towards him, Aoi looked only at the gash, he knew if he looked in Yuki’s eyes he’d regret it.

          “Hmm, you might be able to get away with a butterfly type bandage, just don’t touch it until tomorrow, or it will start bleeding again.” Aoi stood up, and held his hand out for Yuki, “Come on, get out of the tub and change, I’ll wait in the living room.” Yuki’s mouth was still hanging open as he watched Aoi leave the room, “What the hell is this all about?”

 

          After twenty minutes of waiting, Aoi had been sitting on the couch, playing with Rin and Sora, when Ayato and Reita came back, “He’s in his room changing.” Ayato raised an eyebrow, “Changing?” Aoi just waved his hand towards Yuki’s bedroom.

          “Hey can I come in?” Ayato knocked softly, “Yah…”

          “Are you okay? Wait…why are you wet?”

          “Yuu put me in the bathtub to wake me up, in cold fucking water.” Yuki was embarrassed, “Sorry about this.” He mumbled. “Tell me truthfully, why didn’t you want to tell anyone about the surgery?”

          Yuki shrugged, “Because I don’t want to be a fucking burden anymore, I’m so fucking lost without Ken I don’t know how to act anymore. I’m tired Aya…there are some nights I don’t want to wake up, some days I don’t get out of bed until 3pm. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, just sleep. I don’t care what you say, I don’t know how to live without Ken… and I’m not sure I want to.”

          This hit Ayato so hard in the heart that he whimpered, “Yu…you have me, you have Aki, Pon and Die…you have Uta…and weirdly enough, you have Yuu. Do you think dying would make you happy? Would it make you happy to know how much your parents and Aiko would suffer if you died? Don’t you remember speaking to Ken’s parents…how devastated they were? Do you want that for your friends and family too?”

          “But you’re not Ken. You won’t hold me tenderly in your arms, you won’t make love to me, you won’t tell me that I’m the best thing that ever happened to you and how much you love me. You’re just not Ken.” Yuki’s eyes filled with tears, “I love you, Aya…I do, but it’s not the same.”

          Ayato grabbed Yuki and held him tightly, “I know I’m not Ken, but I love you as much as he does…just in a different way. We all love you… and you know damned well that Yuu still loves you, and that if you ask him for something reasonable, he’ll always be there for you. I can’t say that you’ll get over this, you won’t, but it will get easier each day. I can’t tell you that you’ll find someone else to love, because we can’t see into the future. What I can tell you is that Ken wouldn’t be happy with what you’re doing right now, and you know it. So please, stop abusing yourself, please come to me or Akira…or Pon... hell even Die, just make sure to say something when it hurts too much, promise me that?”

          Yuki nodded his head, a muffled ‘okay’ coming from Ayato’s chest. “Do you want Yuu to leave before you come out?” Yuki shook his head, “No, I want to talk to him.”  Ayato got up and left the room, Yuki blowing his nose and wiping his eyes.

          “Hey, you wanted to talk to me?” Aoi grinned sheepishly. “I want to apologize for putting you on the spot earlier today, it wasn’t fair.” Yuki wouldn’t look at Aoi.

          “No, it wasn’t fair, but I kind of understand, you’re tired of having people do things for you, you don’t want to be a burden. What I don’t understand is what you did with the beer and the pain pills. Didn’t you know it was dangerous mixing them?”
          “Yah, and honestly, I didn’t care, I just wanted to stop feeling. Guess I did a good job of it if I bashed my head in and didn’t know. But thanks for being here and putting me in the tub…I kind of deserved that.”

          “You’re welcome, and if you need me… you know I’ll always help if I can.” Aoi walked over to Yuki and kissed him on the top of the head, “I’ll see you around.” And with a last pat on the head, Shiroyama Yuu walked out of Yuki’s apartment.

Chapter Text

          “Do any of your others stores have more? Can you please check for me?” Hal pleaded with the clerk with his best pathetic look, and watched the employee of the shop almost roll his eyes at his request, but this had to be perfect, no mess ups, no questions. Hal and Uruha had been dating for just under six-months and he wanted to surprise his boyfriend with dinner in a private room at the restaurant, but the larger part of the surprise had been harder to track down.

          The shop employee walked back to the counter, “My Shinjuku shop has three of each, I had him put them aside for you.” Hal smiled and thanked the employee, “You’ve just made my day, thank you!” Grabbing his packages, Hal made a hasty retreat to pack up his car. “You’re going to love this!”

          “Hey, are you available for dinner tonight? I need to talk to you about something important.”

 

          Kai stopped playing, again. “Uru, what the hell is wrong with you today? The Tour starts in a month and you’re not even close with this song.” Uruha was chewing on his hair, muttering apologies and excuses, none of which the rest of the band accepted.

          Kai went into leader-san mode, “Let’s take a break, Uru…outside with me please.” Putting his guitar in the rack, Uruha followed Kai out the door. “Let’s go in here,” Opening the door to an empty conference room, Kai sat down. “So, tell me what’s wrong?”

          “Nothing,” Uruha’s shoulders slumped in defeat.

          “Bullshit, what’s wrong.”

          “Nothing! There’s nothing wrong!” Uruha snapped. The one thing you never wanted to do, was to piss off Kai. Normal Kai was cheery, a smile that lit up any room, but Angry Kai was not to be fucked with and Uruha knew it. “Fine…you’re going to hear about it anyways.” Kai waited, “are you going to tell me?”

          Uruha’s eyes started to tear up, “Hal’s going to break up with me.” Kai frowned, “Why is he going to break up with you? I thought you guys were like totally in…” Uruha started to shake his head before Kai finished, “It’s been six months, he’s going to break up with me, they always do. Then he texted me and asked me out to dinner to talk about something important. He’s going to break up with me, why else would he say that?”  

          Kai sighed, this again. “Have you guys been fighting or arguing?” Uruha shook his head again, “Has he ever said anything about breaking up with you?” Kai heard a whispered ‘no’. Kai could see the tears starting to fall, “Kouyou, what’s going on then?”

          Uruha sniffed a few times, “I’m an OCD head case, they always leave after six months, you know that as well as I do. Well next week it’s been six months, I’m just preparing myself. I’m sorry I’m screwing up, I’m not doing it on purpose, I’ll be ready for the tour, I promise.” Kai leaned forward and patted Uruha on the knee, “I don’t believe that’s going to happen, Hal isn’t like any of the other guys you dated, including Aoi. He’s genuine and I believe he cares deeply for you.” Uruha wasn’t convinced.

          In the practice room, Aoi was trying to get information from Reita and Ruki about Uruha, “What’s going on with him? Is he okay?” Ruki snorted, “There’s nothing you need to worry about, just leave him alone.” Aoi opened his mouth to say something nasty, but thought better of it as he turned back to tuning his guitar. He could see that Uruha had been crying, and the nervous twitches and biting of his hair were dead giveaways that the man was stressed out.

Kai and Uruha came back into the room, “Okay, let’s finish this,” By the end of the practice session, Uruha’s nerves had calmed and there were no more mistakes in his playing, but his heart wasn’t into the music. Aoi kept a concerned eye on his bandmate, wanting to speak with Uruha but knowing that anything he said would be received wrong, instead he just let it go.

 

          “I’m going to pick you up at 7:30, dress nicely and wear your glasses please.”

         

          The request by Hal for Uruha to wear his glasses, wasn’t unusual, his boyfriend preferred that he didn’t wear his contacts when they went out. “Less people know what you look like when you wear them,” Hal reminded him, “and you’re sexy as hell, too.”  It was the request for Uruha to dress nicely that had thrown him off. “Why should I dress nicely if you’re just going to break up with me?” he muttered as he was getting ready.

          Promptly at 7:30, Hal knocked on Uruha’s door, holding some flowers behind his back. “Hey, you look really nice tonight.” Hal brought the long-stemmed roses, in a shade of purple that was almost black, from behind his back, “Do you like them?” he held them out to Uruha, “Yes of course I do! They’re beautiful! Let me put them in water then we can leave.” Uruha took the flowers from Hal, “Where are we going for dinner?” Uruha hoped that Hal couldn’t hear the shaking in his voice, “the Restaurant, I just thought it would be fun to dress up for a change.” Hal was dressed all in black, his long hair loose around his shoulders, a shine of a silver necklace showing just under his shirt.

       Uruha was now completely confused on what was going on. Someone that’s going to break off a relationship doesn’t go all out with spectacular roses and a nice dinner. Hal put his hand on Uruha’s back as they walked to the car, then opening the door for his boyfriend. “This is getting weird.” Uruha mumbled to himself as Hal closed his door.

      Hal knew what Uruha was thinking, and it saddened him a bit, Kai had called him that afternoon after practice, “I just wanted to give you a heads up, Uruha believes you’re breaking up with him tonight.” Kai’s warning just strengthened Hal’s heart, now more than ever, he wanted to show Uruha that he was into their relationship for the long haul.

     “Hey, it’s going to be okay…I promise.” Hal leaned over and caressed Uruha’s cheek, “It’s nothing that you have to worry about.” Uruha nodded, uncertainty still running in his head. Pulling into the valet parking, Hal tossed the keys to the attendant, then helped Uruha out of the car, “Good evening Hal-san, Uruha-san, please enjoy your evening.” The concierge nodded as he held the door open for the couple.

          The maître’d escorted the couple past the common dining room, to the back half of the restaurant, where the private rooms were located, “Enjoy your dinner,” he bowed and walked away.

          Hal took Uruha by the hand, “I know this sounds like high school, but please close your eyes.” Hal could feel Uruha trembling, “don’t worry, please?” his boyfriend nodded. Hal opened the doors, and led Uruha in, “don’t open your eyes yet.” Closing the doors, Hal led Uruha to their table, pulled out his chair and helped him sit down. “Still closed!” Hal rushed over and quickly sat in his chair.

          “Okay… you can open your eyes.” Hal leaned in with his elbows on the table. As Uruha slowly opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was Hal smiling at him, then he started to look around the small private room. “Oh my god…” he gasped. The room was filled with two things; beautiful long-stemmed roses in various shades of purple, and plushies of Mario characters, including a very large ‘Boo’.

          Uruha got up from his chair, and walked towards the large ghost plushie, “Where did you find one so large?” Hal got up and stood next to Uruha, sliding his arm around the taller man’s waist. “Just took me a little detective work, once I knew that they existed, I knew you had to have one.”

          A knock at the door interrupted the couple, as their dinner had arrived, “I went with your fave dish, I hope that’s okay?” Uruha was speechless, he just nodded and softly whispered, “yes.” With the champagne poured (something else that surprised Uruha), they ate their dinner and talked about what Hal had done…but not why, not yet. “Do you like the roses? I tried to find as many different shades, that I could.” Uruha nodded, “They’re beautiful…but um, do I have to leave them here?”

          “Nope, I’m having everything delivered to your flat tomorrow, hopefully everything will fit!” Hal really wanted to move on to the next surprise, so when the dinner dishes were finally cleared, he moved his chair back and patted his lap. “Come sit with me.” Uruha started shaking again, this time not in fear as much as uncertainty, but he did as he was asked, Hal sliding his arm around Uruha’s waist, Uruha leaning his head on his boyfriend’s shoulder.  

          “You’ve been stressed out and acting weird this last week, why?” Hal nuzzled Uruha’s neck, “Um…because you were going to break up with me, it’s been six months.”

          “What does six months have to do with anything?” Hal tightened his grip on Uruha’s waist. “All my relationships in the past, end at about six months, if not sooner. I’m too much of a pain in the ass, they get tired of me and leave. I was just anticipating the same from you.”

          “Look at me,” Hal reached up and cupped Uruha’s cheek, “I’m not breaking up with you, I love you and I want to spend more time with you.” Reaching into his pants pocket, Hal brought out a small velvet box, “I’m not proposing…not yet, but this is my promise to you, that one day I will propose.” He opened the box and pulled out a heavy silver ring studded with amethyst stones all around.

          Taking Uruha’s right hand in his, Hal slid the ring on his lover’s right index finger, “I love you, Takashima Kouyou. I’d like you to think about getting a place together, so no more leaving clothes or whatever at each others flat’s, just you and me… and maybe a fur kid, if you’re not allergic.” Uruha’s eyes were swimming in tears, speechless, all he could do is nod, “Yes…all of it, please… I love you too,” he finally whispered. Hal reached up and cupped Uruha’s cheek, “Let’s go home.”

 

         

 

     Uta was holding Byou’s hand as they sat together on a long couch in Isshi’s living room, across from them was Sato and Taka, the latter looking decidedly uncomfortable with the situation. After visiting Taka at the HBG, Sakurai had gone home and called Isshi, “I believe we should arrange a meeting between Byou and Taka.” Isshi wasn’t completely happy with the suggestion, “I’m not sure I want Byou to have to talk about this, Acchan. I’m not going to agree until I speak to him.”

     Byou had agreed to meet with Taka, but he had asked for Uta to be there, along with Isshi. “My love, I would never leave you to do this on your own. I will have Sakurai-san bring Uta over, would you like Mistress Davina to be here as  well?” Byou agreed to Davina, but asked for Ruimaru and Karyu to remain in their rooms, “They don’t need to hear this stuff.” Isshi agreed.

          With their loved ones surrounding them, Byou and Taka shared their stories, which mirrored in details; what had happened to Taka had happened to Byou. The tears started not long after the description of the party at the estate, “He left a note in my pocket with money, he said I was damaged goods and that he didn’t want me anymore.”

          “He didn’t even do that for me, I found my clothes and one of the servants took pity on me and gave me money for the train, the servant gave me his message.” Taka was trembling, looking at his hands.

          Davina reached over and covered Taka’s hand with hers, “Do you remember what any of the other men looked like Taka? Just anything at all?” Taka shook his head, “Just old and ugly, I didn’t really see much other than them shoving their… um,” Taka leaned his head on Sato’s shoulder, crying without shame.

          “I only saw one man,” Byou looked at Davina, “He was not as fat and gross as the others, and he had a very distinct dragon tattoo across his arm…he was maybe in his fifties, maybe he wasn’t at the same event as Taka.” Davina wrote the information down.

          “Do either of you remember where the estate is?” Byou and Taka looked at each other, “I think it was in Mei,” Taka offered, “Yep, same with me.” Byou nodded as Davina and Sakurai exchanged knowing glances.

          Byou leaned hard into Isshi, Taka doing the same with Sato. Talking about their shared experiences had been difficult, “I’m glad I agreed to this, Sir.” Isshi kissed Byou on the head, he looked over at Sato and Taka. “Sato-san, thank you for agreeing to this little meeting.” Isshi patted Byou’s leg before standing up and then walked over to Taka, kneeling next to the young man.

          “Taka-kun, it took a great deal of courage for you to come to my home and relive that nightmare just to help my love. Thank you.” Isshi stood, and bent down to kiss Taka on the forehead, then shook Sato’s hand.

          Later that night as Isshi held Byou in his arms, the Dominant went over all the information from their meeting with Taka. He had seen the look shared between Davina and Sakurai at the mention of the tattoo that one of the attendees had, and he wracked his brain trying to remember if he had ever met a man within their community that had such a tattoo. A gentle moan and a whispered “Isshi” from Byou, brought him back to reality as he kissed his young lover on the head, “I love you, Byou, you’re safe with me now, and we’ll never be separated again.”

Chapter Text

          It was a shitty day for no reason. The weather was perfect, he felt no pain when he woke up, but it was just a shitty day, and Yuki was ready to throw a pity party. Alone. Depression had become a real worry for Yuki, the overwhelming feeling of worthlessness, his perceived lack of friends, his desire to do nothing than lay in bed, or if it was a better day, driving to the cemetery and lie on the ground next to Ken’s grave, which he usually did at sunset.

          With no job, no comradery with co-workers, Yuki spent most days sitting in front of the tv, with Rin and Sora in his lap, the three of them taking multiple naps per day. His fake happiness showing when Ayato or Pon came to visit, wearing the happy cripple smile and reassuring them that he was fine, “I’m just tired” became his go to answer if someone questioned him.

          His mother called frequently, asking the same questions every time; are you eating, does your back hurt, are you getting out of the flat, and Yuki’s responses were always the same, “yes”. He avoided talking to Aiko, knowing that if she heard his voice, she’d know that he was faking his days away, and that she’d arrive at his flat within hours, only to drive him crazy with her over powering drive to mother him. Something he didn’t need nor want. “Why can’t they just leave me alone?”

          Yuki’s nights were filled less with dreams of Ken, it was going on seven months and the heart stabbing pain was slowly dulling. He still cried at the cemetery, but Ken’s scent in the clothes that he had left at the flat, was starting to fade, there was no longer any comfort in clutching the clothes to his chest as he slept.

          Going out with Ayato and Reita wasn’t an option, he always begged off by saying that he was tired and wanted to go to bed early, “I’m sorry, just not in the mood I guess.” Even with Ayato telling him that Ojisan was worried, “Tell him I’m fine, just tired that’s all.”

          Laying on the couch with Rin and Sora on his chest, Yuki would stare at the ceiling, try to count the imperfections in the paint, or turn over and count some other random thing. Then he’d grow weary and push the two kittens off his chest and walk down to the bedroom to get into bed. These were his normal days; this was his life without Ken.

          With the surgery looming just three days away, Yuki finally caved and called his parents, stressing that they did not need to drop everything and come running. “It’s one night in the hospital, Ayato will be there and he said he’d take another few days off from work to sit with me, please…I don’t need you all to come running, I’ll be fine!” Yuki knew he was hurting is parent’s feelings, but the need for independence outweighed his guilt for keeping them away.

 

          Ayato was sitting with Yuki in the pre-op area of the surgery unit, watching as the nurses came in and set up his IV, took down all his information. “We’re going to give you the sedative right now,” the nurse said, then turned to Ayato, “This should take about three hours, someone will come and get you once he’s in his room.” Ayato stood up, hugged Yuki and whispered in his ear, “I’ll be here, I love you…everything’s going to be fine.” A quick kiss on the cheek and Ayato left the room.

          “Are you ready for this, young man?” Yuki’s surgeon came in to speak with him, “Do I have a choice?” Yuki asked sleepily. “No, you don’t, but this is something that needs to be taken care of. I don’t foresee any complications and you should be able to go home in the morning.” The doctor shook Yuki’s hand and left. “I’m going to give you a little more of the sedative, Yuki.” The nurse smiled as she injected the medication into his IV line. “Okay…”

          “He just went into surgery…three or four hours, depends on the damage, I guess. I’ll probably be home around four, he’s going to be out of it on pain meds. Um… the nurse said if everything goes smoothly, he should be out by ten. That gives us plenty of time to grab groceries and take care of the cats. Okay…I love you too.”

          “I just talked with Ayato, Yuki’s already in surgery, I’ll text you when I hear anything.”

          Paging through an ancient magazine while he waited, Ayato’s thoughts were of Yuki and what his friend’s next step in life would be. Letting go of his intense grief over Ken’s death would be the biggest hurdle for Yuki, everyone knew that including Yuki. No one expected him to bounce back to happiness, but the depressive grief was the issue, something Ayato didn’t know what to do, how to help his friend to cope with. Looking at the clock in the waiting area, Ayato figured there would be a nurse coming out to speak to him soon, it had already been three hours.

          But that wasn’t the case…it was another two hours before anyone had come to speak to him. When Ayato saw the nurse that was with Yuki walking towards him, he got up, “Is he okay? Why did it take so long?” The nurse looked around the waiting area, “There were some complications that were unexpected. Are Yuki’s parents near by?”

          “No, his parents live out in north Chiba, I’m his caretaker I guess…he lives next door to me, why? Is there a problem?” Ayato’s gut started to churn. “I’m going to suggest you get one of Yuki’s parents on the phone, so that they can speak with the doctor. I’ll come and get you when Yuki is in his room.” Shit. This was not the news Ayato was expecting. Taking out his phone, Ayato called Reita first.

          “Um, there was a problem with Yuki’s surgery. No, I don’t, the nurse just came out and told me to call his parents so they can talk to him…babe I’m scared, can you come down here please? Thank you.”

          Ayato decided to call Aiko first, he didn’t want to be the one to have to break the news to Yuki’s mom, Kimiko.

          “Hey Aiko, it’s Ayato. There’s been some sort of problem with his surgery but they wanted me to call your parents first, so I don’t have any idea, no it was almost five hours. I don’t want to have to tell your mom about this, yah I know. The doctor wants to have someone on the phone when he discusses the problem with Yuki. No, please don’t…he’s going to be upset already, having your mom and dad here is just going to make it worse…I know, I promise, I guess it just depends on what level of care he’s going to need. Okay…I’ll call you when it’s time. Yah, I love you too.”

 

          Walking into Yuki’s hospital room, Ayato experienced a bit of a flash back to the first time he saw Yuki after the accident, and Reita knew…Ayato had a death grip on his hand. “It’s alright, just breathe.” He whispered to his boyfriend. Pushing the door open slowly, Ayato first saw the nurse standing next to the bed, arranging various IV lines and monitors, Yuki appeared to be asleep.

          “Hi, come on in…he’s still groggy from the sedation but I’m sure he’s going to want to see you,” the nurse said cheerfully. Ayato nodded and walked closer to the bed, reaching out to pick up Yuki’s hand…it felt clammy and cold, he bent down and whispered in his friend’s ear, “Hey, you need to wake up and talk to me…Akira is here too, I love you.” With no response from Yuki, Ayato pulled a chair next to the bed, the same position he had sat in for over a month after the accident.

          “The doctor should be visiting in about an hour, Yuki will probably be awake by then. If you need anything, just push the call button.” The nurse bowed lightly and left the room. “I feel like I don’t need any instructions anymore, I know how all this works.” Reita chuckled, “You have no idea…” Ayato frowned, “Why, what do you mean?”

          Reita smiled, “Hmm, let me see; Koichi gets attacked, then Shinya, then Uta…all by that asshole Morrie…oh then the guy jumps Tatsu, slices him open, cuts both Die and Kyo. Believe me, I’ve been in more hospital waiting rooms that I can remember.”  Ayato had forgotten about the attacks by the crazed musician, forgetting Uta’s rape, the death of his lover Teiji over shadowed even that.  “Kinda sucks when shit like this happens.”  Ayato leaned over and put his head on Reita’s shoulder. “I wish I knew what happened…”

          “Hey…you’re here.” Yuki murmured, “what time is it?” turning his head, Yuki peered at the clock, 6:30? Have I been asleep that long?” Thankfully, Ayato didn’t have to answer, a knock at the door announced the doctor. “Well, glad to see you awake young man, are you in any pain?”

          “No, I don’t think so. Why is it so late?” Yuki was starting to freak out just a little. “There were some complications during your procedure, but I would like to have one of your parents on the phone while I explain things.” The doctor looked at Ayato, “could you please call them now?” Ayato nodded, avoiding Yuki’s gaze, he knew if he looked at him, he’d probably start crying. “Kimiko? Ayato…yes the doctor is here now, I’ll put you on speaker phone.”

          Speaking loudly enough for Yuki’s family to hear, the doctor explained what the issue at hand was; nerve damage. “It seems that during Yuki’s recovery, which I had suspected knowing how young people are, he most likely didn’t follow instructions 100% of the time, there was a slight bit of nerve damage to the surrounding tissue near the fracture. You have some damage to the sensory root nerve at the T-8.”

          “Doctor? This is Yuki’s mother, what does that all mean?”  Ayato looked at Yuki, the expression on the man’s face almost unreadable.

          “Yuki has temporary paralysis from the waist down, and will require a structured rehabilitation program, for your son to recover completely,” the doctor looked at his patient, “Yuki, you’re going to have to follow directions to the letter, which means physical therapy and following your therapist’s instructions. I warn you, if you do not follow through with this, you could become permanently paralyzed from the waist down.”

          The sound of sobbing was heard from the phone that the doctor was holding, “You need to listen to the doctor Yu-kun! Stop pretending that you’re fine…I’m coming to take you home!” With a loud click, the call ended, and the doctor gave Ayato his phone back.

          “I believe that this is the best situation for you Yuki, you need specialized care and physical therapy. Whether or not you move back in with your parents or stay home and with the assistance of your friends, you will complete this treatment.” With this final statement, the doctor left the room.

          Reita nudged Ayato, nodding towards Yuki, “Say something…” he mumbled. “Hey, so I guess you’re going to go back to your parents house? Um, if you can’t take Rin and Sora, they can live…”

          “NO!” Yuki snapped, “I will NOT be going back to my parent’s house! This is no different than before. If I have to hire someone for care, I will! I’m not going to allow you to take time off work again. I have the money, I’m going to hire someone to stay with me, a male nurse or caregiver or whatever…that’s the end of this discussion.”

          Both Reita and Ayato were taken aback by the viciousness of Yuki’s tone, “Dude, we just want to help.” Yuki glared at them, “Then keep your mouth shut about my parents, I don’t need their help…hell I don’t even need yours! Just take your boyfriend home, Akira.” Crossing his arms over his chest, Yuki closed his eyes, a single tear sliding down his face.

          “Yu…” Ayato whimpered. “Come on babe, let’s leave him alone.” Reita took Ayato by the arm and pulled him out of the room.  Reita gripped Ayato’s hand and almost dragged him out of the hospital, and through the parking lot to their car, Ayato remaining quiet, not speaking during the ride home. “I have to feed the kittens; I’ll be home in a minute.” Ayato said as they pulled into the complex’s lot.

          Rin and Sora were already screaming before Ayato even opened the door, “Yes, I know…I’m sorry I’m late, but your dad is a fucking asshole. Come on…I’ll feed you.” Walking into the small kitchen, both kittens dancing around his feet, Ayato filled their bowls with food, and clean water. “I don’t know when your dad will be home, but I’ll come over in the morning and sit with you,” reaching down he stroked both young cats.

          Leaving a light on in the kitchen, Ayato locked up Yuki’s flat and went home. “Hey, do you want some udon?” Reita was in the kitchen, “Yah, that sounds good.” Ayato grabbed a beer out of the fridge and sat down on the couch, turning on the tv just to have something to focus on other than the ridiculous shit that his best friend was pulling. Reita looking over his shoulder worriedly, knowing that the anger or sadness his boyfriend was holding in, would explode at some point.

          Watching tv quietly, not saying much, after dinner and a few beers, Ayato’s eyes grew heavy, “I’m going to bed,” he stood up. “Okay…I’ll be there in a minute.” Reita turned off the tv and grabbed the dishes and put them in the sink.

          Looking down the hallway to make sure Ayato was in the bedroom, Reita got his phone out and quickly shot off a text to Die, “FYI, there’s problems between Yuki and Ayato, I can’t get into it now, but it’s not good. If you’re at the studio tomorrow, come by our practice room.

          The nurse was getting Yuki ready for the night, “I’m going to give you some pain meds and something to help you sleep, you’ll see a physical therapist tomorrow to talk about your rehabilitation schedule. Is there anything I can do for you?”

          “No, I’m fine, thank you.” Yuki muttered, “Just turn the light off for me please.” The nurse walked to the door, looking back at Yuki, “You really should thank your friends for caring about you…we get a lot of people coming into the hospital, that nobody comes to see them and they leave in a taxi. At least your friends are here with you every step of the way.” She smiled then left the room, leaving Yuki alone in the dark.

          Reita knew his boyfriend was faking being asleep, there’s no way the man could drop off in less than five minutes, but Reita respected Ayato’s need for quiet and privacy. What worried him was the next day, what would be waiting for him, if he went to the hospital to see Yuki? More importantly, would he go to the hospital at all? Reita snuggled up against his lover, sliding his arm around Ayato’s slender waist and pulling the boy close, “I love you.”

         

          He never got the phone call or even a text from Reita, did this mean there was a problem? Or did the man just space out on calling him? “It’s nothing, find out in the morning.” Aoi muttered as he drank another beer.

Chapter Text

 

          Reita checked on Ayato before he left for the studio, his lover spent a restless night tossing and turning, he decided to let him sleep, Reita kissed Ayato and left for the studio. “Shit, I forgot to text him…damn it.” Reita groaned, he was sure Aoi would be more than a little upset over the forgotten update on Yuki. Walking into The Gazette’s practice room, Reita threw his bag down and went back out into the hallway, hoping that Die would show up sooner than later.

          “Hey what’s up?” Uruha walked towards Reita, “Waiting for Die.”

          “Why? What’s wrong with Die?”

          “It’s not Die, it’s Yuki…I’ll tell you about it later.” Reita didn’t want to say anything until he’d spoken to Die. “Oh, okay…see you in a bit then.” Uruha went into the practice room. Leaning against the wall, Reita was ready to give up on Die when the man himself, jogged down the hallway towards him. “Hey…sorry I’m late. Okay, what’s all this about Yuki?”

          Reita explained the complications of the surgery, the fact that Yuki was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down and would need a live in care taker. “The worst part is that he flipped shit on Ayato,” he went on to explain the heated exchange between the two friends. “I just wanted to give you a warning before Pon finds out, I’m not even sure when or how Yuki’s getting home.”

          “Shit… paralyzed? Damn, that’s bad, but it’s only temporary?” Die shook his head. “Doc says if he does what he’s suppose to, does physical therapy and all that…it’s just a matter of time and he’ll be okay.”

          “What about his parents? Do you think they’ll actually show up at the hospital?”

          “Probably, but I’m going to guess that Yuki’s going to be pissed off and tell them to leave,” Reita frowned, “I’m worried what this will do for Ayato… is Yuki throwing their friendship away because of all of this?”

          Aoi pressed himself against the wall as far back as he could and still listen to Die and Reita speaking, not believing what he was hearing. “That little shit.” He whispered softly. Sliding against the wall, back towards the side door of the studio, Aoi had heard enough, making his way out to the parking lot, he leaned against his car. “What the hell are you thinking?”

          “Hey, what are you doing?” Kai walked up on Aoi, “Um, nothing…just a last cigarette, you ready?” Kai grinned, “Yep,” patting Aoi on the shoulder, the two of them walked into the studio, passing Die on his way out, who nodded and waved, “Later…”

          Walking into the practice room, the others stopped talking immediately, “Hey, what’s up?” Kai could feel the tension… and Aoi knew why. “Nothing, are we ready?” Reita busied himself with his bass, completely ignoring Aoi.

          The practice went as scheduled, Aoi still trying to catch Reita’s attention during the breaks, Reita trying to get in touch with Ayato, who had not answered any of his calls or texts. “Something wrong?” Uruha came up behind Reita, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I’m not sure, Ayato’s not answering me,” could he still be asleep?

          Uruha leaned in closer, “Did he maybe go to the hospital?” Reita had thought of that, but the way in which they had left the night before, he doubted it. “He’s probably still sleeping he had a rough night.”

          The next two hours flew by quickly, each of the members glad to be finished, “Ojisan’s anyone?” Uruha asked, “I’m in…Tomo’s working tonight, Rei?” Ruki was the first to accept. “Let me check with Ayato,” Uruha looked at Aoi, “What about you, Aoi? I’ll even buy you a beer.” Aoi smiled, “Sure…I’ve got nothing else to do.” Which was a lie, he wanted to go to the hospital and see Yuki, but he knew if he dashed off, Reita might suspect something.  “Guess I’m in, he’s still not answering, so I’ll leave him a voice mail.” Reita quickly texted Ayato, “At Ojisan’s with the others, please come.”

         

          Ayato ignored the text from his boyfriend, “I’m not in the mood Akira.” He muttered as he walked over to Yuki’s flat to feed the kittens and sit with them for a bit. “Your dad still hasn’t called me…if he doesn’t by tomorrow, you’re coming to my house to live, he’s being too irresponsible to take care of you.” Rin and Sora didn’t care, they just wanted a warm body to cuddle with and food.

          It irked Ayato that his best friend hadn’t called and apologized, the man had no reason to be such a bitch to him, “I care about you, why are you treating me like shit?” A light knock on the door, and Die stuck his head in, “Hey, can we talk for a minute?”

          “Reita told me what happened, I’m sorry it turned to shit on you.” Die sat down, Rin running over and climbing up the man’s chest and nuzzling him under the chin, “Have you heard from him yet?” Ayato shook his head, “No, but if I don’t hear from him today, I’m taking Rin and Sora to our flat, it’s not fair to them to be left alone all day.”

          Die reached over and patted Ayato on the leg, “For what it’s worth? He might have said all that shit to you out of fear, not because he hates you. Before I met Pon, I said some fairly horrible shit to Kyo, told him to mind his own business and leave me the fuck alone…mainly because I was scared of never having anyone to love…I wanted my own cute boy. Reita had you, Kyo had Mao, everyone else was paired off or married, except me.”

          “But your issue wasn’t life threatening Die, Yuki’s pulling this shit because he’s scared? Fine…I get that. But to shut me out because I asked if he was going back to his parents was completely uncalled for and unfair.” Ayato crossed his arms over his chest. “He made it clear that he doesn’t want my help anymore, so I’m not offering it. I will take care of Rin and Sora because they’re innocent and have no clue what’s going on.” Ayato got up and went to the door, “Make sure you lock it behind you.”

 

          With the members of the Gazette filling the counter at Ojisan’s, the noise level was higher than normal, especially when Hal joined Uruha and kissed his lover in front of everyone, causing Ruki to tease his bandmate, “Get a room!” he laughed. “I plan on it later, Ru…” Hal shot back. “Gentlemen, do we all have designated drivers tonight?” Hal raised his hand and so did Kai, “Ojisan, no one is driving home tonight that’s had even one beer.”

          Aoi was the quiet one that evening, laughing with the others but not really engaging in the conversation. His mind was working overtime with the information he had overheard between Die and Reita, though he should have been more aware.

          “Shiroyama Yuu,” Ojisan stood in front of Aoi, “Don’t abandon the young one.” This caught everyone’s attention, they all stopped talking. “Yuki-kun is in need of close friends that will not lie to him, that will keep him motivated and on the right path towards his recovery.”

     Aoi scoffed, “Ojisan, if you haven’t already noticed, I’m not Yuki’s favorite person and for good reason, he has his other friends to look out for him, he doesn’t need me.”  Aoi just shook his head, “Staying away from him is the best thing I can do for Yuki, we both know it and own it. It’s not a big deal anymore, Ojisan, I just wish all of you would understand that and let it go.” Aoi put his money on the counter, “Thanks guys, I’ll take the train home, see you tomorrow.” Without looking back, Aoi left the small ramen hut. “Damn it.” Reita groaned.

 

     Aoi didn’t take the train home, he started walking in the general direction of his flat, there was just too much going on in his mind to concentrate on anything else. He made his way through the still crowded streets, not really paying attention at where he was going. Looking up, he could see Tokyo Tower in the distance, “Might as well, not like I’m driving.” Making his way through the less crowded streets as the night sky turned black, Aoi walked through the entrance of the HBG, and up to the counter.

    “Uh, hi Aoi…what can I get you?” Mao leaned forward over the counter and looked around for the other members of The Gazette. “Just a highball please Mao.” Reaching in his pocket for his wallet, Mao turned away and started to make his drink.

    “What are you doing here? Don’t you guys have practice?” Ayato had heard Aoi’s voice and walked up to the counters. “It’s over, the guys are at Ojisan’s.” Mao slid the drink to Aoi, “I’m just here drinking, thanks Mao.” Aoi took the drink and walked onto the patio, sitting at the far end near the fountain. “This is weird, what’s his deal?” Mao peered over the counters again. “I don’t know…” Ayato wasn’t sure what to do, go talk to to the man or blow it off.

     Aoi slowly sipped his drink, leaning his head back in the chair to gaze up at the tower, it was overcast that night, “can’t see the top” he murmured to himself. Satisfied with people watching, Aoi didn’t see Ayato coming towards him, wearing a grim expression.

    “Hey, can we talk for a minute?”

    “Hmm, um, sure yah…what’s up?” Aoi sat up, putting his drink on the table. “Do you know about Yuki?” Aoi nodded, “I overheard Reita telling Die, why?” Ayato huffed, “Aren’t you going to do something about it?” Aoi looked puzzled, tilting his head to the side, “Do something about it? Like what? I don’t have anything to do with Yuki, let alone his problems now.”

    “Does that mean you’re just going to abandon him? I thought you said you still loved him? You need to do something Yuu, he doesn’t want me around him or his family, that leaves you.” Ayato couldn’t understand why Aoi wasn’t jumping at the chance.

    Aoi shook his head, “Ayato, of all the people we know, do you really think that Yuki wants me to help him? Seriously…ask Uta if he doesn’t want to talk to you, ask Pon, ask anyone but me.”

    Ayato’s face turned red, “But how do you know that? How do you know he doesn’t want you? Have you seen him? No… you haven’t, so he hasn’t had a chance to say anything to you. Just go see him, tell him you want to help, that you’ll take him to his therapy appointments or whatever.”

    “Now that’s a fucking joke if I’ve ever heard one,” Aoi laughed, “Just barge in and take over? Dude you’re freaking mental as hell,” Aoi moved to get up, Ayato reaching over and grabbing his arm, “I’m not fucking mental, my best friend is paralyzed from the waist down, he doesn’t want me to help him or his family, who does that leave… YOU!” Aoi yanked his arm away, “No, that doesn’t leave me. This is none of my concern, Ayato. I’m not the savior, I’m not the one he wants to see…he wants Ken, not me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you or him.” He turned and started to walk away, “You’re a fucking coward, you know that?” Aoi raised his arm and waved, “Yah, I know I’m a coward, everyone knows…good luck with Yuki.”

    “What the fuck! Hell no!” Ayato lurched out of his chair and ran after Aoi, jumping on the man’s back, screaming in his ears, “YOU HELP HIM YOU MOTHER FUCKER OR I SWEAR I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU IF HE DIES OR CAN’T WALK!”

    Mao and Tomo came running out of the back of the HBG, screaming at Ayato to stop, Mao pulling on Ayato, Aoi covering his head from the slaps delivered by his attacker and Tomo with his phone out calling Ruki, “Ru please…help us… Ayato’s attacking Aoi... he’s on his back and screaming and Mao’s trying to pull…”

    “What the fuck is going on!” A voice roared, Kyo was on his way to the HBG to have lunch with Mao, when he heard the commotion from the street and ran into the patio area. “Ayato!” Kyo ran up and grabbed Ayato by the waist and hauled him off Aoi, “What the fuck are you guys doing?” he snapped, “Let me go! Aoi you’d better not walk away I’ll never forgive you! Aoi!” With a very slender young man in his arms, Kyo walked to the nearest chair and dropped Ayato into it. “Don’t you move,” Kyo threatened the young man in a low growl.

    Turning back to Aoi, Kyo see’s Mao talking to him, “What the hell is all this shit?” he asked Aoi, “That little fuck attacked me!” Kyo narrowed his eyes, “for what? What did you do, Aoi?” Mao stepped between Kyo and Aoi, “He didn’t do anything, Ayato just went batshit Ruki rampage crazy and jumped on his back!” Tomo was in the corner, shaking as he talked to Ruki on the phone. “Okay, I will.”

    “Aoi, Ruki and Kai said you need to stay here, they’re on their way.” Tomo carefully stood behind Kyo. “Babe, get Ayato and you guys go back inside, I’ll wait here with Aoi.” Kyo looked over his shoulder. “Okay…thanks.” Mao walked over to Ayato and grabbed him by the arm, “Just get inside… don’t even try.” Ayato wrenched his arm out of Mao’s grip, and stomped off towards the office.

    Fifteen minutes later, the remainder of The Gazette came onto the patio, looking for Aoi. “Hey guys…um,” Kyo took Reita aside, “I don’t know what the hell is going on, but when I got here, Ayato was riding Aoi, like Ruki rode Ryo back in the day.” Reita snorted, “No shit? Damn I would have loved to get that on film.”  Reita went to the office of the HBG to speak to his boyfriend, leaving the others with Aoi.

    Kai was sitting in a chair in front of his guitarist, “What the hell started this shit? Why are you even here?”  Aoi reached up to his ear, “am I bleeding?” Kai leaned over, “No…why are you at the HBG?” Running his hands through his hair, Aoi sighed, “I overheard Die and Reita talking about Yuki’s condition, so when Ojisan told me that I shouldn’t abandoned him, I just… I just started walking.”

    “Why did Ayato um…jump you?”

    “I was minding my own business, having a drink and that lunatic of a child came out and started telling me that saving Yuki is my responsibility, demanding that I cart his ass to physical therapy and all other shit,” Aoi looked up, “Kai, Yuki doesn’t want me…that’s fucking been made so clear…why would he want me to do anything for him, let alone help him freaking recover?”

    “BECAUSE YOU ASSHOLE!” Another scream and Aoi turned to see Ayato running straight at him, “YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!” Kyo stood up and grabbed the man by the waist, and spun around, throwing Ayato over his shoulder, “AKIRA!” he yelled for Reita, as the man came running out of the HBG, “Damn it Ayato…stop!”

    In the mass confusion of Ayato’s attempted second attack on Aoi, Reita and Kyo restraining Ayato, and Aoi defending himself, Ruki and Uruha stood off to the side and watched in semi-horror. Uruha chuckled but covered his mouth, “Remember when you did that to Ryo…remember drunk ass floozy?” Ruki rolled his eyes, “That was a hundred years ago, Kou…that was when I was still a child.” Tomo looked at Mao, both giggling.

    Kyo put Ayato into Reita’s arms, “Reita, take him home…Tomo and I can close.” Mao waved the couple off, which didn’t sit well with the still struggling man. “Shiroyama Yuu, I swear to god if Yuki doesn’t recover it’s YOUR FAULT! Akira! Put me down! Damn it, Aki!”

    They could hear Ayato screaming at Reita all the way to their car, “That boy is batfuckingshit crazy!” Aoi sighed, then stood up, “I’m going home…I’ve had enough of this shit for a lifetime.” Before he could walk away, Kai reached out, “Yuu, maybe you should at least go see Yuki? It can’t hurt you know.” Aoi’s head dropped, “You too?” he turned to the group, “why can’t any of you see it? I hurt that boy so badly, drove him into the arms of Ken…now Ken’s dead, I can’t help Yuki even if I wanted to. There’s nowhere left for me in his life. I’ll see you guys at practice.”

    “Do you think it’s true?” Tomo was leaning on Ruki, “I’m not sure babe…maybe.” Ruki kissed Tomo and told him that he’d wait for closing, “I’ll just wait here, no reason for me to go all the way home.” Mao asked Kyo to stay as well. “Just incase crazy batshit boy comes back.”  Kyo looked over at Ruki, “what do you think of all this? Is Ayato right or is Aoi?” Ruki shrugged, “I don’t know… maybe both, but unless Aoi sucks it up and goes and talks to Yuki, who knows what’s going to happen.”

Chapter Text

 

          After a rough night of disturbing dreams and images, Aoi knew he’d have to face Yuki that morning. One thing that stuck out in his mind from the night before, was the fact that Aoi had offered to help Yuki that day that the boy had knocked himself out due to mixing his pain medication and alcohol.  “If you need me, you know I’ll always help if I can.”  With Ayato’s ranting still in his ears, he got up and went through is morning routine before leaving the house. He had thought to call Ayato, but decided against it, “I don’t need that batshit crazy kid yelling at me again.”

          Unsure what he’d encounter once he got to the hospital, Aoi had several plans in place if Yuki was less than thrilled to see him. He had hoped that the young man’s parents and or sister would be there to act as a buffer, to persuade him to go back to his childhood home to rehabilitate and complete his physical therapy. Walking in from the parking lot, Aoi stopped at the front desk to get Yuki’s room number, and then steeled himself for whatever was coming.

          Leaning his ear against the door, Aoi listened for sounds of any visitors or worse, an argument. “Yus,” shaking himself up, Aoi knocked twice then peered around the door, “Yuki? Um, can I come in?”

          “Hey, uh…yah I guess so.” Aoi crept in, standing at the foot of the bed, unsure if he should sit down or just say hi and leave. “I heard what’s going on, Ayato uh… told me.” He didn’t really want to get into the way Ayato had given him the information. “Oh, yah well…I should be getting out of here tomorrow, but I still have to arrange some sort of home health care.”

          “Any ideas on what you’re going to be looking for?”

          “No, just a nurse or some shit… someone that can help me in and out of my wheelchair, and like helping me in the bathtub,” Yuki leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “This is so fucking embarrassing,” Aoi pulled the chair up next to the bed, “Why? It’s just temporary, right? You’ll do your physical therapy and you’ll be walking before Christmas; you just have to listen to your doctors this time.” He could see tears welling up under Yuki’s eyelashes.

          “My parents are going to try to force me to move back home, I’ve told them there’s no way in hell I’m doing that. I don’t need my mom or sister giving me a damned bath,” Yuki quickly reached up and wiped the tears with the sleeve of his pajama shirt. “No, I can’t imagine how shitty that would be, but…” Aoi stammered.

          “But what?”

          Aoi stared at his hands, “Are you sure you can do this on your own? I’m not doubting your will power or whatever, but you might need help that only family can provide.” Yuki lifted his head and looked directly at Aoi, “if I go home and let my parents take control of my rehab, I’ll end up living there forever…no Yuu, I won’t do that. I’m going to do this on my own, I’m an adult and I can take care of myself.” Yuki stuck his lower lip out and huffed, crossing his arms across his chest.

          Aoi chuckled, “How old are you? Like five?” Yuki stuck his tongue out at his former lover. “I rest my case…you’re now five years old.” He was trying to get the young man to smile. “It’s not funny Yuu, I don’t want to move back to my folks house…it’s not going to work.” Yuki whined.

          Aoi frowned, “Okay, that’s enough, quit being so damned childish,” Aoi stood up, “you’re hardly acting like an adult right now, more like a whiney brat.” Yuki’s jaw dropped. “If you don’t want to go back to your parent’s house, that’s fine, but be an adult and explain to them why you want to do this on your own. Quit shutting Ayato out as well, I don’t need him going batshit crazy on me again.” Aoi ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “Wait, what about Ayato?” this caught Yuki’s attention.

          “He attacked me last night.”

          “Attacked you? How? He’s as small as I am!”

          “He jumped on my back, tried beating me in the head and was yelling at me.”

          “What the fuck? Why the hell would he do that?”

          “Because he’s a fucking lunatic! He expects me to take responsibility for your treatment or whatever, because I’m the only one left to help you, which is a load of shit. You have family and friends to help you, I tried to tell him that I was the last person you wanted to see.”

          “But you just told me the other day that if I needed you, you would be there for me…and now you’re not?” Yuki sputtered.

          “But I’m not the one that needs to make sure you follow through with your treatment! Ayato made it sound like I was the savior for all things Yuki.” He snapped back.

          They stared angrily at each other, Aoi breaking first, “What do you want from me, Yuki? Friendship? A taxi service… what?” Yuki slumped back into his pillows, “Maybe…”

          Aoi sighed, “Maybe what? Do you want me around or don’t you? I did offer to help and I’ll honor that, but if you don’t want me around, I’ll leave and we can just say hi to each other if we happen to cross paths.”

          Yuki closed his eyes and rolled over, away from Aoi, “Please, just leave.” Getting up from his chair, Aoi walked to the door, “Let me know if you change your mind, I told you I’d help and I will if you need me.” The door slowly closed behind Aoi as he walked down the corridor to the elevators, as he reached out to push the button, a painful scream echoed through the hallway. “Yuki…”

           Aoi quickly turned around and raced back down the hallway, nurses crowded in front of Yuki’s door, “What… Yuki!” He was able to look over the heads of the nurses to see Yuki lying on the floor, sobbing. ‘Yuu! Don’t leave me… please…Yuu!” Aoi pushed his way past the nurses, “What the hell…Yuki what have you done?”

          “Please, don’t leave me again, Yuu…help me please!”

          A burly male nurse stepped up next to Aoi, “Sir, I need you to step back please,” Aoi stood up and backed away as the nurse carefully picked Yuki up and put him back into bed, nurses rushing to his side, “Sir, could you please wait outside until we’re finished?” a young nurse gently pushed Aoi out the door. “Yuki! I’m not leaving, I’ll be back in a minute.”

          Aoi started to pace the hallway, biting a finger nail and muttering to himself, “Crap…do I call Ayato? His sister? No, I’ll wait and see what the doctors say.” It was a good thirty minutes before the nurses started to file out of Yuki’s room, an older nurse stopping to speak to Aoi, “Please, keep him calm, do not agitate him. If he does this again, it may hinder his recovery.”

          A polite ‘yes ma’am,’ and a bow, Aoi took a breath and went back into Yuki’s room. Peeking around the door, Yuki was once again lying on his side, facing the wall. “Yu… hey,” walking up to the side of the bed, he reached out and put his hand on Yuki’s shoulder, turning him onto his back. “What the hell was all that about? How the hell did you end up on the floor?”

          The redness of shame flushed Yuki’s cheeks, “Because you walked out on me…and I um, decided that I needed you to um…help me, since I can’t do this alone.” He was embarrassed and humiliated, having to have a man pick him up off the floor, because he was stupid and thought he could just will himself to walk.

          Aoi walked up to the side of the bed, and started to fuss with the blankets, “Well that was stupid, why did you fall out of bed? Did you think you could actually walk? Seriously Yuki, you could have made things worse,” Aoi scolded the young man. “All you had to do is ask, I told you I would help if I could, I don’t go back on my word…well not anymore.”

          “Are you sure you want to do this for me? I mean, it’s not like we just randomly broke up, and then the thing with…” Aoi reached up and put two fingers on Yuki’s lips, “let’s not dwell on that now, ne? After you are done with physical therapy and can walk again, then we can have a proper discussion on what we were.”

          Aoi had just sat down when Yuki’s doctor and the head nurse came into the room, the doctor not looking too pleased with his patient. “Yuki, would you care to tell me what the hell you were doing falling out of bed?” The doctor glanced at Aoi, “Did you have anything to do with it?”

          “Indirectly yes, but we’ve gotten past that now. I don’t think he’ll do anything that stupid again, or at least not for awhile.”

          Looking at his clipboard, the doctor went through Yuki’s chart, explaining what he was recommending for physical therapy, and handed the young man a list of therapists. “You’re going to need help at home, I’m sure your sister can…” Yuki held up his hand, “Neither my sister nor my parents will be taking care of me, I’ll be working with a nurse and a therapist on my own.” The doctor raised an eyebrow, “Oh? Would you like to tell me who will be staying with you at night? Or are you going to be put in bed then not leave until morning? Are you planning on wearing diapers? You’re not going to be incontinent once we remove the catheter, but you will need assistance in the bathroom.”

          “I’m taking charge of my treatment and recovery, thank you for the list of therapists, I’ll be contacting a home health care provider once I am released.” Aoi was amazed how Yuki could go from being a whiney brat, to a determined young man in half a heart beat. “Yuki, I am discharging you in the morning, I would suggest you start making phone calls today.” With a light bow, the doctor and nurse left the room, Yuki turning to Aoi, “You promise you’ll help me? I mean really help, like if I call in the middle of the night or something, you’ll come over?”

          Aoi laughed, “Yes, I promise I’ll come over in the middle of the night, but I expect some sort of compensation for this work I’ll be doing.”

          “Compen… what the hell?”   

          “You’re taking me out to a fancy dinner the night you can walk on your own without assistance, and I don’t mean Ojisan’s either.” Aoi winked at his ex-lover. “Fine,” Yuki huffed, “I’ll take you out to dinner, but how fancy depends on how well you do your work! I don’t want some shoddy wannabe nurse taking care of me, I expect the…” Aoi stood and cupped Yuki’s face in his hands and gave him a very chaste kiss on the lips. “I promise I’ll take care of you.”

Chapter Text

      Uruha sighed in frustration as he slumped over on the couch in the band’s practice room. “Why is it so damned difficult to find a decent flat, that’s not in a shitty area? It’s not like we don’t have the money...but everything I’ve seen so far is shit.”  Uruha and Hal were moving towards the next step in their relationship; living together. The night at the restaurant and Hal’s confession had given Uruha hope for the future; a stable relationship with someone that wouldn’t dump him when the couple hit a bump in the road.

     “What are you guys looking for exactly? You said yourself that it’s not a money issue.” Kai asked. Uruha sat up, “We want at least a two bedroom, we need a room for our gear, I want some type of small garden and a decent sized kitchen. The flats we’ve looked at have one thing or the other, but not all of what we’re looking for. I don’t want to live in a high-rise though, they’re so sterile and impersonal.”

          “Um, Uru...why don’t you just buy a house?” Kai suggested.

          “A house? You’re joking…”

          “Why would I joke about that? Tatsu and Sato both bought houses, Miya and Shinya have had one for years, if you want multiple bedrooms and a garden, you’re going to have to start looking at houses.” Kai reasoned.

          “A house…” Uruha whispered. What would Hal think of a house? Would he assume that Uruha was pushing for marriage? “He already asked…sort of.”

          Looking at Kai, Uruha grinned, “I’ll think about it, might not be a bad idea.”

     Uruha walked through the house with the realtor, listening as she described the property and what it included. “Three bedrooms and two full western style bathrooms, and the master bathroom has a decent sized bathtub.”  Uruha had fallen in love with the garden, it was spacious and lush, with a large tree in the center of the deep green grass. “This would be perfect…” he murmured. As he finished the tour of the house, the realtor gave him the final cost, and the move in date. This was the third house he had seen that day, the first two were adequate but lacked a certain feeling for Uruha, the heartwarming feeling of being home, seeing himself and Hal living together as a married couple, this was the house.

     

          “Fine, I accept your apology, but don’t think I won’t call you out if you start acting like a fucking idiot again.”

          “Me? What about you, batshitcrazy boy?. Really Ayato? You jumped on Yuu’s back and started hitting him? Yah, let’s talk about maturity levels.” Yuki tried hard to suppress a smile. “He pissed me off, I had every right to be batshit crazy boy.” Ayato countered.

          Yuki rolled his eyes, “Well just to let you know, he came and saw me earlier today, and offered to help when he could. Why were you being so mean to him?”

          Ayato huffed, “I was scared and getting desperate, and if you were pushing me away, he was the next logical person to help, but he refused and that pissed me off.” Yuki shook his head, “He said he’d honor his promise.”

          “What promise?”

          “The one he made when I mixed the pills and beer, he said he’d be there for me if I ever needed help,”

          This surprised Ayato, “Well that’s a hard change, considering he said he wouldn’t be your savior, but I’m glad he’s agreed to help.”

          The two friends sat in silence for a moment, “I’m getting discharged tomorrow, will you and Akira pick me up please?”

          “Yah, of course… but what are you going to do once you get home? I know you need physical therapy and stuff, but what about helping you out at home?” This is what concerned Ayato the most.

          Yuki shrugged, “The doctor gave me a list of therapists, I guess I need to interview them or something? Then I’m going to need someone to just help me around the house, not sure if a live-in nurse is a thing.”

          “I’ll look into that, I’m sure you can find a male nurse that can either come in a couple of times a day or even just over night.”

          Yuki smiled, “Okay...um, thanks for everything, Aya...I’m really sorry I was such an asshole.”

          Ayato reached over and punched Yuki lightly in the arm, “This will be the last time you’re getting away with it.”

 

            Aoi wandered around his flat, mumbling to himself, “Stupid thing to do, kissing him, lucky he didn’t slap me.”  He wasn’t sure what the next step would be; did he just wait for Yuki to call him? Did he go see the boy when he was released from hospital? Nothing made sense to Aoi at that moment, his feelings were running loose, “Does this mean…?” Taking out his phone, he called Reita.

          “Hey, do you have a minute?

          “Hi, yah sure, what’s up?”   

          “I went to see him today,”

          “Oh? How did that go?

          Aoi smiled, “He asked me to help, to basically be on call if he needed me.”

          “Um, how will you be helping him?” Reita was sadly, automatically suspicious.

          “Whatever he asks me to do, I guess. He said if he needed help in the middle of the night...which is a little weird considering you live next door to him.” Aoi just realized that it was a bit odd that Yuki would say that.

          “Well, true but maybe he just needs reassurance that someone will be there for him?” Reita knew why, but he also knew it would take awhile for both men to figure it out.

          “Well, whatever. If he calls, I’ll be there for him regardless of what the reason is.”

 

          Hal was skeptical when Uruha told him that he had found the perfect flat, “Really? I thought we looked at pretty much everything that was available that was close to what we wanted, where did you find this place?”

          “Um, Kai told me about it, I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, but I think you’ll like it.” Uruha tried to hide the sneaky grin on his face as he drove away from the downtown area. “Wait...there’s no train station nearby, how are we going to get around?” Hal asked, even though both men owned small cars. “Stop worrying so much.” Uruha snipped, “just keep an open mind when you see the place.”

          Winding through a neighborhood, Uruha pulled into the driveway of a two-story house that was in the middle of the block. “Uh, this is a house.” Hal was now completely confused. “We can still look, can’t we?” Uruha whined. Hal smiled, “Sure we can.”  They got out of the car and started up the steps to the gate, “This is a nice touch, a little safer to be sure.”

          Reaching up to knock on the door, Uruha pushed Hal’s hand down, “I have keys.” He dangled them in front of his boyfriend. “Why do you have keys?” Uruha snuck a quick kiss to Hal’s cheek. “Just hush for a minute would you please?”

          Opening the door, Uruha let Hal go in first, “Nice sized genkan,” he said as he toed off his shoes. Walking into the living room, Hal stopped dead, “Wait...what the hell’s going on?” turning to Uruha, “That’s your furniture,” Hal quickly walked through the lower floor, noticing that all of Uruha’s things were in the house, “Um, go upstairs babe,” Uruha giggled.

          “What the hell is going on? Why is your bed here?” Hall came stomping down the stairs, “Do you mind explaining what this is all about?” Uruha took his boyfriend by the hand and led him over to the couch, “Sit,” Uruha took a deep breath, “This is our home, if you want to live here with me.”

          Hal’s jaw dropped open, “You bought a house, for us? Are you sure?”

          Uruha reached up and caressed Hal’s cheek, “You took a chance with me, you’ve shown me that I’m not an OCD headcase, you love me, Kouyou...not Uruha of The Gazette. You’re not using me to get something, you love me unconditionally and I know how hard that is. I want to take this next step with you, I want us to live here together forever.”

          Hal’s eyes were swimming with tears, “I almost asked you about buying a house, but I didn’t want to push for something like this so soon after just confessing, but this feels right Kou, I’m glad you took the first step and I seriously can’t wait to start living this life with you,” Hal gently cupped Uruha’s face in his hands, and gave his lover a kiss that spoke of how much he loved the man. With a sigh, he pulled away, “So when can I move in?”

 

          “What do you think? Is he going to be okay?” Ayato closed the front door, the last of the interviews for an in-home nurse completed for the day. “I like him, he seems genuine and he knows exactly what is expected, I don’t get any bad vibes from him.” Yuki had seen five nurses that day, with two of them being huge raging NO’s. “That guy Renji? Man, he was kinda scary...there was just something off with him. The other one, um…” Ayato picked up the paper, “Takeru, he didn’t look like he was strong enough to lift you, let alone help you in and out of the shower.”

          The process of selecting an in-home nurse was more difficult than Yuki had expected; going over qualifications, what the doctors had ordered as far as physical therapy and then the issues with Rin and Sora, with one of the applicants refusing as soon as he saw the two young cats. “Sorry, I don’t like cats.” the man said as he left the flat.

          “Kensuke-san seems like a good fit for you, he’s at least big enough to pick your skinny ass up, and Rin and Sora seemed to like him.” Ayato chuckled. “He said he has all his own equipment, a huge deal so I don’t need to be dragged out everyday to some office.” Yuki wheeled himself into the kitchen, getting a cola out of the fridge and placing it between his legs.

          “I’m going to spend the night again; I think it would be smart since this is only your second night home.” Ayato had spent the first night after he and Reita had picked Yuki up from the hospital. “Are you sure Akira won’t mind?” Yuki had begun to hate imposing on his friends, “Too bad if he does, not like he can do anything about it.” Ayato laughed.

          “Do you really think Yuu will come if you ask him to?” Ayato had his doubts, he still didn’t trust the man completely. “Yah, I do. We had a huge argument at the hospital.” Yuki hadn’t told his friend about the incident of falling out of bed.

          “Fight? Over what?”

          “My parents, the way I’d been treating you and um, us. He told me about you jumping on him, he called you batshit crazy boy,” Yuki giggled. “He called me out on acting like a stupid brat then I told him to leave.”

          “That doesn’t sound much like a fight,” Ayato felt like his friend wasn’t telling him everything. “What else?”

          “I uh...well I changed my mind and wanted him to come back so we could talk more and I uh...I fell out of bed.” Yuki cringed; he knew Ayato was going to scream at him.

          “Well that was fucking stupid,” Ayato said calmly.

          “I guess he heard me scream and came running back in,” Yuki sighed, “it was totally embarrassing, I had to have this burly male nurse pick me up and put me back in bed, then the doctor came in and yelled at me.”

          Ayato rolled his eyes, “You are hell bent on damaging your body beyond repair, aren’t you?” Yuki hung his head, “No, not really, I just can’t figure out what the fuck I want anymore.”

          Ayato knew what his best friend wanted, or really what he needed. “What did Yuu say after that?”

          “He promised me that he’d be there for me, but that he wanted to be compensated for his time.” Ayato started laughing, “Like what? Being paid or some shit? The man has more money than he knows what to do with.”

          “No, it’s not like that,” Yuki snapped, “He said he wanted me to take him out to a fancy restaurant, not Ojisan’s or our normal place, but an upscale restaurant,” he hesitated, “then he kissed me.”

          “HE WHAT?”

          Yuki cringed, “Yuu kissed me, like soft and shit, not like a ‘I want to fuck you’ kiss, just a gentle kiss.” Yuki had a small smile playing on his lips. “It was nice, he wasn’t like trying to seduce me or anything, it was a friendly kiss.”

          Ayato’s mouth was still hanging open, “And you were okay with this kiss? You didn’t like smack the shit out of him?”

          “Why would I hit him? It wasn’t that big of a deal Aya, seriously. He kissed me and it was nice and that’s it. I don’t expect him to come running after me, he knows I don’t …”

          “You don’t what?”

          “I don’t know, not like I want to have sex with the man for fucks sake, he knows I love...loved Ken. I don’t think he’d try anything with me, not with you guys in the next flat.”

 

          Ayato thought about his next question carefully, “Do you trust him, Yu? Truly trust him not to hurt you in any way, physically or emotionally? The man pretty much used you, he didn’t care about your feelings, all he wanted to do was fuck and to make sure you knew that he was doing you a favor. Do you trust him enough to believe he wouldn’t do that again?”

          Yuki didn’t even hesitate, “Yes...I don’t think he’s that guy anymore, he’s still Aoi of The Gazette, but Shiroyama Yuu is at least 70% present. So yah, I do trust him not to hurt me again.”

          In Ayato’s heart, he hoped that this was the beginning for Yuki, the first steps into regaining his life, to putting his overwhelming grief over Ken’s death, aside and to start to live again, even if the key to the recover was Shiroyama Yuu.

Chapter Text

 

          Isshi held Byou closer that night as they slept, reliving the trauma of his abusive Dominant, at the hands of the same man that had abused Taka so many years earlier, had been almost more than the young man could handle. “We know his name now, Byou. Madame F and I will try our best to find him and expose him before he can harm another young man or woman.” Davina promised the young man. “Thank you, Mistress, I’m not sure I deserve your kindness, but I appreciate it a great deal.” Byou bowed to the Dominant.

 

          Once they returned home, Sato was holding his young husband as Taka shivered in fear from the memories he was forced to relive, but he knew it had been the right thing to do. “Babe, I’m so proud of you for helping Byou, I know it was probably one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but I’m so grateful that you decided to help that boy.” Sato hugged Taka tightly and kissed his forehead, as his husband melted into his arms. “Yah, it sucked but if it helped Byou and hopefully gave Davina and Sakurai more information to go on, it was worth it.”

          “I wonder though, are there others?” Taka murmured, “Others? You mean victims?” Sato was treading lightly, “Yah, Byou and I can’t be the only ones… there’s more than a few years between when this happened to me, and when it happened to Byou….so how many others are there?” Sato tightened his arms around Taka, “Babe, if there are others, I’m sure Davina and Madame F will know what to do.” Sato secretly didn’t want to know of any other victims, he was being guarded and careful as Taka was always his first concern.

 

          “I need to speak to Davina, but this isn’t something you need to hear, please just trust me on this.” Sakurai had left Uta sitting in the car as he spoke to the woman. “Mei, are you thinking what I am? Could it possibly be the same?” Sakurai stood next to Davina. “Acchan, if it is...we must bring this to Madame F’s attention tonight, we can not wait. It's been several years but you know as well as I do, if it is in fact him, that it’s going to happen again, if it hasn’t already.”

          “How many others are there Davina? How do we find them and if we do, then what? Start a home for abused submissives?” Sakurai huffed. “Perhaps, it was one of the reasons I bought the apartments that Uta now owns, to help those types of young people. But where is this Masamoto Umeji hiding and why have we had no previous knowledge of the man?” Davina was quiet for a moment, tapping her gloves on her lip, then sighed, “Take Uta home and cuddle your boy. We are all tired and need fresh minds before we move forward.” Davina kissed Sakurai on the cheek, “Oyasumi Acchan.” She got into her car and drove off.

          “Everything okay?” Uta asked as Sakurai got into the car, “Yes, we were just brainstorming on what to do next. Are you alright? I know this was just as hard on you as it was Byou and Taka.” The abuse that Uta had at the hands of Natsu was possibly more horrific, but the damage for all three boys had impacted their lives for years. “Yes, I’m just tired, I want to go home and go to bed.” Sakurai leaned over and kissed Uta on the forehead, “I’m so lucky to have you with me, I love you.” Uta smiled, “You’re a big dork, but I love you too.”

 

          Yuki was holding Ayato’s hand, as they sat and listened to Kensuke Kita, Yuki’s new physical therapist go through what he would be doing for Yuki each day. Ayato had spent a second night with Yuki, his best friend still worried about being left alone all night.

          “The end result I want to achieve is for you to be able to move in and out of your chair, be able to use the bathroom and shower, by yourself in six weeks. This means a lot of upper body strength building and of course making sure your muscles in your legs and lower back don’t atrophy. Any questions?” Kita sat on the couch facing Yuki.

          “Um…” Ayato spoke first, “What can I do, I mean we as his friends...what can we do to help when you’re not here?”

          Kita grinned, “Don’t help him.”

          “Wait, what? Don’t help him? What the hell does that mean?” Ayato snapped angrily, “Ayato…” Yuki hissed as he reached over and smacked his friend on the leg.

          Kita laughed, “It’s okay, what I mean is this; don’t do everything for him. Make him work for whatever it is he wants or needs. If he starts to struggle, wait before helping him. That’s part of the recovery, making him work, if you do everything for him, he’ll be a cripple.”

          Ayato breathed a little easier, “Oh, okay...that makes sense.”  Kita grinned, “Do you have any questions before we start?” Kita liked his new patient; the boy was determined and it was obvious that his friends cared a great deal for him. This all worked in his favor, the more his friends pushed Yuki, the quicker his recovery.

          “I’ve got to get ready for work, call me tonight and I’ll come over with Ojisan’s, how’s that?” Ayato got up, bowing lightly to Kita, “Sure that sounds great, tell everyone I said hi.” With a pat on the head, Ayato left his best friend to start on his road to recovery.

          “You have some very dedicated friends; I hope you understand that.” Kita got up and pushed Yuki down the hall to the spare room, “Yah, they’re all ready to kick my ass if I don’t get any better.” Yuki laughed. “That’s more than some of my patients have. Having friends and family around to encourage you is important.”

          Wheeling Yuki up to a long table, Kita locked the wheelchair in place then lifted Yuki onto the table. “You’re small and light, that will make my job a little easier.” Having Yuki lie on his back, Kita stood next to the table. “Because it’s been almost a week since your surgery, today is all about stretching your body out so you don’t cramp, so I’m just going to start but if you feel any pain let me know.”

          Yuki’s stomach churned with fear, his mind working overtime; this has to work, I can’t be a cripple, who would love me then? Starting with his legs, Kita went through the workout, watching Yuki’s face carefully for any signs of discomfort. “Good, you’re doing well.”

          The next three hours were consumed with Yuki’s therapy, the boy working up a sweat, which surprised him, “I thought I was in decent shape, guess I was wrong.” he grunted after doing another sit-up, “Your core is where your strength lies, if your core is strong, it’s going to make moving yourself around much easier.”

          With a last stretch, Kita called the session complete, “Tomorrow will be a little more intense. Do you have any questions so far?”

          “No, I’m good, but if I think of anything, I’ll write it down.” Yuki grinned, he felt like he accomplished something that day. “Do you feel comfortable enough for me to help you shower? Or would you rather just get a quick wipe down and have one of your friends help you?”

          Yuki blushed hard, “Um, I think I’ll wait...it’s nothing against you, but seriously we just met, if that’s okay.” Kita laughed, “No worries really. I have patients that I never bathe, let me just get you a wet washcloth and let you clean up a bit.”

          Making sure Yuki didn’t need to use the bathroom, Kita packed up his bag and went home, “I’ll see you at nine tomorrow, be ready for a little more work.” with a wave, the therapist left the flat. “Oh god, I think I’m going to die.” Yuki laughed as he leaned his head back. Wheeling into the kitchen, Rin and Sora screamed to be fed, “Yes yes...I hear you, give me one second.” Yuki’s mind wandered to thoughts of Ken, “I think you’d be proud of me” he whispered to himself. He knew that Ayato and Pon wouldn’t give him an inch on slacking off on the work that was ahead of him, “They’d smack me if I whine,”

          His thoughts then turned to Aoi, he debated calling him, he wanted to let the man know that he had started his recovery, taking out his phone he opted for a text, “safer.”

          “Hey, just wanted to let you know, I started physical therapy today and I’m already sore.”

 

          Aoi grinned at the text, “What’s with that smile?” Kai teased him as he walked towards his drum kit. “Yuki started therapy today, said he’s already sore.” Kai snuck a look at Reita, “Oh, that’s cool, hope it works. Okay guys, we leave in a week, let’s get this shit done.”

          The Gazette was leaving for their first world tour in three years, taking them from the US to South America and finally to Taipei for a total of two months. Nobody was happy about being gone for so long, but with a new album, it was time for the Gazette to see their international fans.

          Hal and Uruha were finally settling into their new home, but had yet to have anyone over, “When we get back from tour, we’ll have a small party for everyone to come see the house.” Uruha promised, though the thought of having to put together a party made him sick to his stomach, “Don’t worry babe,” Hal cuddled his lover, “it’s all our friends, nobody’s going to judge.”

          Reita wasn’t happy about leaving Ayato, but like the others, being in a world-famous band meant touring. “Quit being such a bitch Akira, I’ll be one of two places, either at work or with Yuki, just go be Reita and make sure to bring me something from each city, please.”

          “Bring you...every city? When am I going to have time to shop? Can’t I just bring you home one thing, like a big thing?” Reita wasn’t sure that Ayato knew how close they were always kept on schedule. “Hmm okay, just one thing...but it better be good! Your band is depriving me of my lover for two months, I need compensation!” Ayato used Aoi’s own words to his benefit.

          Reita threw his head back, “Ugh, you can be such a troll sometimes.”

          Ayato wrapped his arms around Reita, sliding his hands down the inside of his lover’s pants, squeezing the tight ass, “Really? Would a troll do this?” Grinding his crotch against Reita, and licking his lips suggestively, Ayato knew exactly what would trigger his lover.

          “You’re not very nice, you know that don’t you?” Reita growled, “Oh I think I’m very nice, and so does your cock,” Ayato whispered, “That’s it.” Without warning Reita picked Ayato up and threw him over his shoulder and walked into the bedroom, kicking the door closed, throwing the boy on the bed, “Dance for me.” With that simple request, Ayato got a week’s worth of sex in one afternoon.

 

         

          “Inoue Hiroaki, Inoue Exports. He’s in his mid-60s now, has houses in several countries including a rather expansive estate in the north of Mei. He is not part of the local community, but rather he is connected to … oh my,” Madame F stopped reading the report, “He has connections to the community in America, and is an associate of Nakamura Taizo.”

          Davina groaned and Sakurai swore, “You must be joking?” Sakurai asked, “No, I’m not Acchan, and it gets better, or worse however you’d like to view it. The other gentleman that Byou said had the dragon tattoo? His name is Kimura Asao, an international business lawyer. But there are no ties to this Masamoto Umeji or no mention of him in the report.”

          It had taken Madame F a little over forty-eight hours to receive a complete report on the two men that were part of the group associated with Masamoto, the man who abused both Taka and Byou. The Dominant had reached out to all her contacts throughout the world, searching for these two men.

          “Now that we have their names, what’s the next step? How do we find Masamoto?” Sakurai was keeping a leash on his anger, something that he was finding more difficult with each passing day and thought of what the two young men had gone through.

“That is what may be difficult,” Madame F looked up from her computer, “Right now, the word has been put out that we are looking for them, and my sources have guaranteed that they will be discreet about their surveillance. I’ve told them that I want daily reports on the men’s activities.”

Sakurai was frustrated, “So no, we don’t have a plan, we just have to wait and see.” Uta had spent the night whimpering in his sleep, with occasional cries of “Natsu”, leaving Sakurai to sleep very light that night.

Davina was also frustrated, “I don’t believe I want Taka or Isshi to know of this information, it will do neither one any good, until we have some sort of plan in place.” Madame F nodded in agreement, “I fear for Byou more so than Taka, as it is much closer to the boy, not that it’s any less traumatic for Taka.” With a copy of the report made for each of them, Madame F adjourned the meeting, “I will contact you both if I hear anything more.”

Chapter Text

 

     Ayato watched as Reita’s car drove off. “Two months, this is going to suck.” The Gazette were leaving on their world tour, leaving behind several unhappy lovers. Ayato sighed and went back to his flat, “Just have to keep busy, it will go by faster,” he tried to convince himself. Cleaning up the previous night’s dishes, and generally straightening the flat, Ayato was waiting for the morning text from Yuki, signaling the man needed help or just wanted company.

     With a chime from his phone, Ayato left his flat and went next door, “Hey...do you need anything right away?” was his first question of the morning. “Nope, did the whole bathroom thing myself, just need tea...do you want some?” Ayato had taken what Kita had told him, to heart. He didn’t help his best friend with every little thing, “Sure...have Rin and Sora eaten yet?”

     Yuki was a week into his physical therapy and he had already started to notice the change in his upper body strength, but was a little disappointed when there was no improvement in his lower body; he still had no feeling below the waist. Kita chastised his patient, “You’re expecting too much too soon, it’s only been a week so don’t get frustrated yet.”

     Working up a sweat on a daily basis had led Yuki to having Kita help him shower, “sponge baths aren’t cutting it.” It was embarrassing the first time that Kita helped him undress and used the transfer board to get Yuki in the tub, “I’ll leave you alone, just call me when you’re finished.” Kita would spend that time with the kittens or filling out paperwork.

     Laying back in the tub, his head resting on the rim, Yuki ran his hands over his legs, searching for any sign that he could feel something. With the water getting cool, Yuki called for Kita to help him out of the tub, “Thanks, I’ll be done in a minute.” he told his therapist after the man helped him into his wheelchair. Wheeling himself next to his bed, Yuki shifted over and started getting dressed, which was no easy thing, but with the new strength in his arms and core, he was able to dress himself quickly.

         

          After feeding the two cats, Yuki and Ayato decided to go downtown and have a besties day with stops at a bookstore, the HBG and finally at Ojisan’s. Wheeling through the rows of books, Yuki was hesitant to tell Ayato about a request made by Aoi, “Hey,” he started out, “Uh, the other night, Yuu texted me.”

          “Oh? What about?”

          “He asked if he could text me while they were on tour.” This got Ayato’s full attention. “And?”

          “I told him yes, that I’d like hearing about the tour and stuff.” Yuki picked up a book and started to flip through the pages.

          “Oh, okay. That’s cool I guess.”

          “What? Do you think I should have said no?”

          “I didn’t say that,”

          “No, but that’s what it sounds like to me. What’s the big deal if he texts me?”

          Ayato turned and looked at Yuki, “I just don’t want him … I don’t know, to be expecting something when he gets home.”

          “Expecting something? Like what? Sex?”

          Ayato blushed, “No, not sex but maybe that you want to date him again or whatever.”

          Yuki’s temper was flaring, “What if I do want to date him again? Not that it’s any of your business.” The two friends glared at each other, Ayato finally breaking it. “You’re right, it is none of my business.” he threw up his hands and walked away.

 

          After an hour of looking at books, Ayato suggested that they visit everyone at the HBG, “Uta’s been asking about you, we should just go visit.”

          “Can we skip the HBG please? I’m super hungry and would rather just go straight to Ojisan’s.” Yuki really didn’t feel up to dealing with a bunch of questions from his friends, and would rather just eat and go home. “Yah, sure…” Ayato answered, turning the car towards the crowded streets.

          Wheeling Yuki into Ojisan’s, the ramen maker was standing in front of his counter, “Irasshai gentlemen,” he squatted down in front of Yuki, giving the young man a hug, “Yuki-kun, it does my heart good to see you in my restaurant again.” Ojisan patted Ayato on the shoulder, “You are his best friend, you will always hold that place in his heart.” He walked back around his counter, “Now what can I make for you today?”

          It felt good...it felt normal for Yuki to be sitting with Ayato at Ojisan’s, though he did see a faint shadow of Ken, sitting next to him. “Hey, are you okay?” Ayato noticed the shiver that went through Yuki’s body. “Yah, just memories you know?” Ayato reached over and roughed Yuki’s hair, “Yah, but good memories.” Yuki playfully swatted Ayato’s hand away, not noticing that Ojisan was standing in front of them.

          “Young one, you must allow it to happen. Fighting it does you no good, nor does it do any good for the other. He has struggled with himself for some time, but he is close to ending that struggle. Trust yourself and trust him.”

          Ayato snorted, “I don’t trust him.” Ojisan frowned, “It is not your place to distrust Shiroyama Yuu, you do not figure into this Ayato-kun. Do not involve yourself, I understand that you are trying to protect Yuki, but with this he does not need your assistance, you could make matters worse.” With his ears burning in shame for the reprimand, Ayato went back to eating his ramen, not commenting any further but in his heart, he felt that Aoi was going to hurt Yuki once again.

          Ayato was quiet on the drive home, “Hey...don’t be upset with Ojisan, you know how he is.” Yuki chided, “he only tells us what he sees, it doesn’t always come true.” Ayato huffed, “He obviously thinks Yuu is perfect for you, he thinks the man has changed, and I’m not 100% convinced yet.”

          Yuki wasn’t in the mood for the argument, so he said nothing. “Um, are you going to spend the night? I mean you don’t have to…” now things between them felt awkward, “No, I’ll stay, or at least until you go to bed, whatever you want.” They pulled into the parking lot and Ayato helped Yuki out of the car. “I think I’m going to take a nap, I’ll text you later,” Yuki wheeled himself into his flat. “Yah, okay...that’s fine.” Ayato waved as he walked away.

         

 

          The night that Taka and Byou shared their stories had left Byou drained, Isshi taking him into his bed and repeating his tender ministrations in such a way that the boy could never question Isshi’s love and devotion. “There will never be another day in which you will fear for your life, I take our contracted vows seriously.”

          Uta had felt drained just from listening to Byou and Taka share their stories, “At least they weren’t abused like I was.” Sakurai snuggled with his young lover in bed that night, “Neither Byou nor Taka were in any danger of dying, you on the other hand almost did, now Taka is safe with Sato, and Byou will never know another day of misery as long as he’s with Isshi.”

          Uta asked for a kiss, which Sakurai obliged, “Is the way Isshi treats his submissives really that much of a problem within the community? I remember what Nakamura had said that night at Vinyl Fetish, that he was part of the group that disapproved of Isshi’s ways.”

          Sakurai chuckled, “I believe that they are jealous of Isshi, that his boys truly love him not only as their Dominant, but as his lovers. I would not say it’s a problem, it’s just unusual at least in our community, I can’t speak for anywhere else in the world. But if you remember, the connection that Mistress had with Teiji and now with Kato, which is similar to the connection that Madame F has with Ormond, that is a little more uncommon, though I believe that it’s due to the men’s training and not any lack of Dominance by either woman.”

         

          The four Dominants made a grand entrance into Vinyl Fetish that night, Niihara and Velvet standing at the top of the stairs waiting for them, “Mistress Davina, Madame F, Sakurai-san and Isshi-san; my humble club welcomes you tonight.” Niihara bowed low, when these four Dominants and their submissives attended any club, it was always a spectacle. “Is there anything that you require of me at this moment? Your room, Madame F, has been stocked and furnished with what you normally request.”

          “Thank you, Niihara-san, not at the moment though we will be taking a turn around the club shortly, is there anything we need to be aware of before that?” Niihara frowned, “Just some baseless rumors with no substance.” He assured the woman, “Oh?” Niihara shifted uneasily, “I will speak with you in a moment, Madame. Please let me take care of some other business first.” With a curt bow, Niihara made his way to the back of the club.

          “I don’t like this Madame,” Davina murmured. Kato had looked at Ormond and nodded, they were now in a heightened awareness of their surroundings. The tall American submissive Velvet, led them to Madame F’s private room, “I will return momentarily Madame F with some refreshments.” She bowed and left the room.  “Baseless rumors, I can’t imagine what that could mean, unless?” Madame F murmured to herself before she looked at the others.

          Isshi had Ruimaru on his lap, with Karyu and Byou flanking them, “Isshi dear, I believe that we should let the boys enjoy themselves tonight, don’t you think?” Davina looked at Sakurai as well, “Uta, would you and the boys like to do a little dancing tonight?” Uta smiled, “Yes Mistress, if Isshi-san allows.” Velvet returned with some champagne and glasses, “Velvet dear, we shall be out on the floor in a while, would you please tell Niihara that we will speak to him then?” Velvet nodded then left the room once again.

          With a few glasses of champagne consumed, the four Dominants made their way to the main club floor, with Kato and Ormond watching over the younger submissives as they danced. Sakurai always enjoyed watching his young lover retaking his youth, knowing that the boy missed out on so much in his short life due to Sakurai’s actions, and those that sought to destroy Uta. “You look so happy, baby.”

          “Acchan,” Davina touched the man’s elbow, “Let’s speak to Niihara, and see what he says, Kato and Ormond will keep the boys safe.” Sakurai let himself be led away from the dance floor, to a small huddle with Niihara. “...not sure whether or not to believe the rumors.”

          “What specifically have you heard?” Madame F asked, “That there are some that would search out Byou, and re-claim him from Isshi.” Isshi growled, “Over my dead body…” Madame F put a hand on Isshi’s arms, “Not yet my dear, let the man speak.”  Niihara bowed his head lightly, “The current rumor that has been floating around is that the Dominant that last contracted Byou, wants the boy back as they never voided their contract. These rumors are coming out of other clubs; The Fetish and Scream to be exact. I am hearing these things third hand and I honestly don’t know whether to believe them or not.”

          Sakurai’s brow furrowed, “Are the sources reliable, and have any names been mentioned?” Niihara ran his hands through his hair, “Only one, Kimura Asao.” Davina gasped, “Do you know of him?” Niihara’s head snapped up. “We do, but we have no description of the man other than he has a dragon tattoo on his arm.” Niihara held up his hand, “I will be right back,”

          “Do you believe him, or I should say, do we believe the rumors?” Davina asked, “We have to assume that it is him and that he is working for this Masamoto person.” Madame F glanced over at the dance floor, the three boys laughing as they hung on to each other, Kato and Ormond scanning the club as they watched over the boys. “I believe we may have to start taking precautions, which means either curtailing our nights out to the clubs, or just being hyperaware.”

          Niihara returned with a Dominant and his young submissive, “Ladies, Sakurai-san this is Moritaka and his submissive Eiji. They claim to have seen this Kimura man… please tell us what you’ve heard, Moritaka,” As the Dominant started to speak, Sakurai gasped softly, causing everyone to look, “Acchan? What is it?” He wasn’t sure he should say anything, “Oh, nothing, it was just a passing thought. Looking at Eiji, Sakurai was certain this was the beautiful young man who had shared his flights with him when he went to rehab in California.

          “...he has a rather large dragon tattoo on his right arm, Sir. I never saw him speak to anyone, he just sat in a booth and watched.” Moritaka went on to describe the man’s physical appearance, which did match what Byou had told them.  Moritaka was aware that he was speaking to the highest-ranking members of the community and he wanted to help. “Is there something I should do if I see him again? Who shall I call?”

          Ormond had seen Madame F speaking to the group of people, letting Kato know that he was going to step away for a moment, and before Madame F could ask or even look at the man, he had her business card out and handing it to her, “Moritaka-san, please call me at any time if you see the man again but I caution you, do not approach him, he is potentially dangerous. Thank you for your assistance.” Handing the man her card, he and his submissive bowed low, “Of course Madame F, thank you for seeing me.”

          Ormond returned to continue watching the boys dance. “So, he is real, and he’s running his mouth. He’s either very confident or extremely stupid.” Sakurai commented. “I agree, my concern is him acting on his words and how do we keep the boy’s safe without alarming them?” Davina asked.

          Sakurai sighed, “I’m not so worried about Uta, but the other boys. Isshi? Can you keep them contained at home or at the very least not let them travel alone, no errands or such unless all three go?”  Isshi looked over at the dance floor, “Yes, I can keep them together...I’m wondering though, would it seem plausible if I took them away on a short holiday, perhaps to your estate? It has been several months since Karyu has seen Jiji.”

          Sakurai smiled, “Excellent suggestion Isshi, please feel free to use the estate as long as you like...an extended vacation at least until we can figure out what we’re dealing with. Would you need someone to take care of Emi?” Isshi waved off Sakurai’s concern, “No, my boys won’t be parted from her so we will take her with us, but thank you.”

 

          “You’ll never believe who’s here right now; Isshi, Madame F, Mistress Davina and Sakurai Atsushi. Oh, it gets better, Byou is here as well. No, not Sakurai...Isshi and it appears that faggot now has three boys. Yes, I know he does, like a damned poodle with no training. Oh, so that’s the boy...no I have never seen him but I do understand why Sakurai has him. No, he’s wearing a collar but from what I understand from my other informants, it’s a fake collar and an even faker contract. It’s possible, I see no reason why he would move...is that what you want me to do? Fine, we shall take our time. No, don’t contact him yet, no I haven’t seen the other one. But that boy must be almost thirty years old, he’s no tenderling. Yes, I will...oh don’t worry, I doubt Byou remembers anything about me other than my cock in his mouth.”

Chapter Text

          “Do you know where he is right now?”

          “Not at the moment, last I heard he was in France, but we will wait for his instructions, make no move on either boy.”

 

          Ojisan’s energy felt off that day though he couldn’t pinpoint it, the normal flashes of insight were clouded and hazy. Moving through the routine of opening the ramen hut for business, Ojisan was preoccupied with a nagging feeling of impending doom. Searching the faces of the young one’s he had come to know so intimately, he felt nothing…so why did he have this weight on his mind? Sliding the door open, Ojisan hung the sign out and turned on the small light, announcing that the ramen hut was open for business.

          It wasn’t until late afternoon that Ojisan’s clouded insight cleared, the door chime announcing a customer, “Irasshai, I will be with you in a moment.” As soon as the words left his lips, the full effect of the man sitting as his counter, hit him in the heart; this was the impending doom. Taking a deep breath before turning around, Ojisan steeled his expression, not wanting to leave any hint that he knew that this man was more than just trouble.  “I’d like the miso ramen with an egg please and a beer.”  Ojisan bowed then turned back to his kitchen.

          The man appeared to be in his late fifties, with short cropped hair that was graying at the temples, his goatee salt and pepper. He was of average height, toned and muscular for a man of his age, wearing an expensive suit, his posture was rigid as if he was expecting to be confronted or attacked. There was a definite air of superiority, an aura of dominance, the man was one that would not be defied in any aspect of his life.

          The aura that surrounded the man was black, something that Ojisan had never experienced, and it frightened him. “Are you new to the area or just my humble restaurant?” He tried to engage the man in small talk. “Just passing through, not going to stay more than a week.” The man said in a clipped voice. Ojisan bowed and turned back to his kitchen and busied himself with cleaning, the man’s negative energy defiling the serenity of the ramen hut.

          The man finished his meal and laid money on the counter, “Thank you, that was excellent.” With a light bow, the man left the ramen hut. Ojisan watched the man through the small window, “You are evil beyond words, but who is it your seeking?” The black miasma lingered in the ramen hut, haunting Ojisan and leaving him to worry about any further customers. As such, the ramen maker took the unusual stance of closing the hut for the day, leaving a note on the door.

          “I need you to come and pray over my restaurant.”

 

          With the first live of their world tour over, the members of the Gazette had all returned to their hotel rooms and showered, all of them now had their noses buried in their phones. Uruha was still ramped up on adrenaline, his hand shaking as he texted Hal, “It was fucking amazing! I really like the Wiltern, such an old theater and the crowd was awesome!”

          Ruki was comforting a lonely Tomo, “Hey, I love you and I promise, we’ll do something special when I get home.”

          Reita and Ayato were talking about Yuki’s ongoing physical therapy, but Ayato was complaining, “I don’t know why, but there’s something weird about Kensuke, Yuki’s therapist.

          “Weird how? I thought you both liked him and thought he wouldn’t take Yuki’s shit when he got whiny.”

          “Yah well, I don’t know, it’s just a feeling, but maybe I’m just being stupid and over protective.”

          Kai and Yukke were discussing the performance, Yukke wanting to know how Aoi was holding up, “He seems fine, but like all of us, he had his nose in his phone while on the bus texting Yuki. Yah, I know… how fast they went from hate to playing nice is a little weird.”

          Lastly, Aoi and Yuki’s texts were a little less pleasant; Aoi had started to bring up the topic of their failed relationship, with Yuki firing the first shot; “Why were you such an asshole? Seriously all you wanted to do was fuck, did you ever really love me?”

          “Probably not, at least not the way you deserved to be loved, like how Ken loved you.”

          “Okay, I get that, but why?”

          “Self-entitled prick musician, you nailed it that day you called me out. I was Aoi of the Gazette and you should have been honored to be my boyfriend.”

          “Wow, you really thought that of yourself? That’s damned sad, guess I should have known better and not been such a fanboy.”

          “Nothing I did was your fault; it was all on me. I told you I didn’t know where Shiroyama Yuu was, that I hadn’t seen him in a long time and I proved it every time I saw you.”

“Yah, you did. Hey it’s getting late, I know you guys have an early flight, text me at some point in the next few days, ne?”

          “Sure. Oyasumi Yuki.”

Chapter Text

          A three-hour flight lay ahead of The Gazette, from Los Angeles on their way to Dallas for the next live, giving plenty of time to talk and Aoi felt it was time. Looking at his boarding pass, he saw that he was sitting with Kai and Reita was sitting with Uruha. Tapping Reita on the shoulder as they stood in line waiting to board, “Hey, swap seats with me, please,” he whispered to the bassist.

          “Um, okay… are you sure?” Reita wasn’t that surprised, looking over at Uruha who was in front of him, “Yah, I need to do this.” Aoi grinned. Exchanging boarding passes, they made their way down the jetway towards the plane. Uruha found his seat, then looked back to see who he was sitting with. Reita was with Kai, Ruki was with their manager, which left Aoi as his seatmate.

          Aoi stopped next to the seat and put his bag in the overhead compartment, “Um, is this okay?” he asked Uruha before sitting down. ‘Sure, it’s fine.” Aoi smiled, “Cool.” As they waited for the remainder of the passengers to board, Uruha busied himself on his phone, no doubt getting in a bit of last-minute texting to Hal, Aoi grabbing his headphones and plugging them into his phone. The doors were shut and the plane was pushed back from the gate and within twenty minutes, they were in the air and headed for Dallas.

          With his music turned up, Aoi closed his eyes and wondered how to start up the conversation he needed to have with Uruha, there was just no good way to tell his friend, ‘hey, I was a piece of shit, sorry.’ After an hour, that’s exactly what he said as he reached over and picked up Uruha’s hand. “Hey, I um, I’m sorry I was such a piece of shit, you know…when we tried to…”

          Uruha closed his phone, then turned in his seat to face Aoi, “Okay, I’m listening.” He wasn’t trying to come off as a bitter asshole, but he didn’t want Aoi to believe he was going to get a pass on his behavior. Aoi chuckled, “Guess that’s not enough, ne?”

          Uruha shook his head, “Hardly. I mean you did do some fairly horrific things before you got to me, so why was I the final piece of your twisted demented puzzle?”

          Aoi said nothing for a moment, “I’m not sure why it was you that caused me to finally hit bottom. Maybe because you were the last person in my life that I cared about, but when it came to showing you that I loved you, I fucked it up big time. I took advantage of you… well sexually and I hijacked your feelings.”

          “You did more than that, you pretty much validated everything you guys have ever said about me, that I was a head case and OCD and could never be in a loving caring relationship, and I believed it.” Aoi could see a tear starting to form in the corner of Uruha’s eye. “It was never the right time… before Reita I wasn’t confident enough to confess, then after you two broke up you were just too angry. Then the whole Pon thing, I hated you…there was a point I was going to tell you that I wanted you out of my life for good.”

          Uruha’s words were tumbling from his lips, “After Yuki, I thought I might have a chance, I thought that maybe you could see that I was in love with you.” He sniffed and wiped his eyes. “I should have stopped you um… you know, but I thought if I let you do that, maybe you’d finally see me.”

          Aoi smiled sadly, “I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you, it’s obvious I had no clue that you felt that way about me, but you’re right,” he leaned over and whispered, “the blowjob should have never happened.”

          The plane suddenly dipped and started to shake, Uruha gasping and clutching Aoi’s hand tightly, “Hey, it’s okay.” Aoi knew Uruha hated flying and being able to comfort his friend helped lighten his fear. “You know, you deserved better than me, and I’m happy that you’ve found Hal, he seems like a great guy and he obviously loves you, and frankly he’s lucky to have you in his life.”

          Uruha shifted uneasily in his seat, “The night he confessed, I thought for sure he was going to break up with me.”

          Aoi paused before saying anything, “I can understand that, I mean we all know you haven’t had the best luck with guys…but wasn’t it obvious that he was in love with you?” Uruha quickly shook his head, “Not to me, it was the six -month mark and I had already prepared myself to be dumped.”  A feeling of heavy guilt flooded Aoi’s heart, he had been just as vocal as the others in their teasing of their bandmate.

          Uruha leaned his head back, “He loves me Yuu…truly loves me.” He looked over at Aoi, “We’re planning our lives together now, Hal’s not going anywhere without me.” Aoi squeezed Uruha’s hand again, then leaned over and kissed his friend on the cheek, “I still love you, but not romantically. You’re still one of my closest friends and I will never jeopardize that friendship again, I promise.”

          Now it was Uruha’s turn, “What about Yuki? What are you going to do about him?” Aoi smiled, “Not a damned thing, Kou. He also deserves someone that will love him as much as Ken did, and I’m sure he’ll eventually find that person.”

 

         

          Die struggled to get the box into the trunk, “Are you sure?” he asked the manager of DCR, “Yes, most of these are addressed to both Ken and Yuki, if he doesn’t want them, bring the box back and we will shred them at Ken’s parents request.” The manager led Die to an empty office where the box of condolence cards and letters had sat since the memorial service for Ken.

          “Hey babe, can you make time for Yuki tonight? Well I’m bringing home the box of letters and cards from Ken’s service… yah if you see him, I think the more people around Yuki the better.”

         

          The creep factor was building. Ayato couldn’t pinpoint the reason, but Yuki’s therapist Kita, was starting to get on his last nerve. He had made the point of being at Yuki’s every chance he could when his friend was going through the exercises, always watching for one off step from the therapist. “Okay, you’re done for the day, do you need help in the shower?” Kita grabbed a towel and handed it to Yuki. “No, I’m good…I can do it myself, thanks.”

          Yuki’s upper body strength had improved greatly, enough so he could bathe on his own, which was reassuring; having a grown man you were not intimately involved with helping you shower was a little more than embarrassing. “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow, good job today.” Kita grabbed his bag and nodded to Ayato as he let himself out. “I’ll be done in a few minutes.”

          Ayato had just sat down when Pon poked his head in, “Hi, got a minute?” Ayato waved him in, “What’s up?”

          “Die’s on his way home, the manager at DCR gave him a box of letters and cards from Ken’s um…memorial. Die suggested that we both be here when he starts to go through them.” Ayato groaned and laid his head back, “Guess it can’t be helped, but I think I’ll tell him before Die gets here just in case. he doesn’t want to do this.” Ayato got up and went down to the bedroom, knocking softly, “Hey, Die’s on his way over.” He said as he looked in the room.

          “Oh, why?” Yuki was sitting in his chair towel drying his hair. “I guess management at DCR sent him home with a box of cards and letters they received after Ken’s death, are you okay with going through them? Pon and I can stay.” Yuki shrugged, “Yah, that’s fine.” The carefree attitude surprised Ayato, “Cool, I need to run home for a second.”

         

          He really thought it was going to be no big deal, going through the box, as such, Yuki was not prepared for the flood of changing emotions once he started to read the heartfelt sympathy and condolence cards from fans and other musicians.

          “I had no idea that so many non-Japanese musicians and fans know who Ken is…uh, was.” Yuki laughed as he read a letter describing some questionable antics on a Hi-Standard tour in America. “He was kind of a trouble maker, wasn’t he?” Pon was leaning over Yuki’s shoulder reading the letter. Die laughed, “Nah, Ken was a punk, a typical teenager that liked to skateboard and drink. That’s not what I’d call a trouble maker.”  

          Ayato tapped Yuki on the leg, then handed him a card. “What’s this?” Yuki looked at Ayato, “Just read it.”

          Yuki opened the card, his hand slowly moving up to cover his mouth, “Is this from Yuu?” The tears started to fall without him noticing. “I can’t say for sure, but Aiko and I found that first day we took you to the cemetery.

          ‘Tell me what to do! I love him too.’

          “I caught him once, yelling at Ken, screaming that Ken had to tell him what to do to help me.” Yuki sniffed, reaching up to rub at his eyes. “I know he went there a lot in the beginning, but this?” He looked at Ayato, “Why did you take this?”

          Ayato shrugged, “I’m not even sure, I just thought there might be a time when you needed to see it, maybe to … I don’t know.” Die reached over and put his hand on Yuki’s knee, “You can look at it as Aoi trying to find his way back to being a decent guy, he wanted to, shit he still does, want to help, and we all know the guy is still crazy in love with you, but he just doesn’t know who he is anymore. Being in a famous band will do that to some people…not me of course.” Pon rolled his eyes, “Oh spare me… he plays rock star enough at home, don’t let him bullshit you.”

          “Do I dare ask how he plays rock star?” Yuki wiggled his eyebrows, “No, but I bet you can guess, if you’ve ever heard me screaming like a fan girl…that’s him making me worship him.” Pon joked. “Uh, gee Pon-chan, I don’t remember you ever complaining about it.” Die crossed his arms in fake indignation.

          “Okay, enough of the sexual innuendo, I have a real problem,” Yuki interrupted, “what do I do with these? Do I just throw them away, that feels wrong?”  Nobody said anything for a minute, “Do you want to keep any of them?” Ayato asked, though he had noticed that the card Aoi had left at the cemetery was still in Yuki’s lap.

          Yuki turned to Die, “I’m assuming Ken’s parents have already gone through these?” Die nodded, “That’s what management said. They told me that if you didn’t want to keep them, Ken’s parents requested that they be shredded.” Picking up a few cards that he had set aside, Yuki read them again, “Take them back to DCR and have them shredded, there’s nothing here I want to keep.”

 

          That night while Yuki laid in bed, he looked at the one card that he kept, “Why?” he whispered in the dark. Picking up his phone he decided to find out.

          “Thank you for what you said to Ken.”

          Aoi had just gotten up and showered when he heard his phone chime, “Um, I don’t understand.”

          “The card you left at the cemetery, Ayato kept it. Did you really mean it?”

          “Yes, but I had so many personal issues, I was still a raging asshole.”

          “What about now?”

          “I um, I don’t think I’m a raging asshole, but I’m far from being a decent person.”

          “What do you want from me?

          Aoi gasped. “What I want and what I deserve are two different things.”

           “Bullshit answer, try again.”

          Taking a breath and wording his response carefully, Aoi told the truth;

          “I want you in my life, but I don’t deserve anything, especially not your love.”

          “Oh, another bullshit answer. What do you think you deserve?”

           Aoi has no answer, “I have to go, I’ll talk to you later.”

          “Chicken shit.”

Chapter Text

 

          A soft knock on his bedroom door woke Isshi from a very deep sleep, “Sir?” Ruimaru’s voice came from the other side, “Sir…please I need to speak to you.” The urgency of the boy’s voice is what drove the cobwebs from Isshi’s mind, getting him out of bed quickly. Opening the door, he found a distraught Ruimaru wringing his hands, “My Angel, what’s wrong?” Isshi reached out for the young man, “Sir, it’s Karyu, please come…” Ruimaru reached out and took Isshi by the hand, dragging him to the other boy’s bedroom.

          Karyu was lying on his bed sobbing, his head in Byou’s lap. Isshi quickly moved to the side of the bed, sitting down and drawing his young submissive into his arms, “My love, what’s wrong, look at me boy.” Karyu couldn’t speak, he just shook his head and cried harder. Isshi looked to Ruimaru, who had also started to cry, “Sir, he got a phone call a little while ago, Jiji’s in the hospital.”

          The Dominant hugged Karyu tightly, “we will leave as soon as I call Sakurai and ask if we may use the estate again, please hurry and pack your bags and put Emi in her carrier.” Kissing the boy on the head, Isshi left him with Byou and Ruimaru to pack. Quickly walking to his study and checking the time, he knew Sakurai would forgive him for a call at such an early hour.

          “Acchan, I’m so sorry to have awakened you, but may I please impose on you once again and have access to the estate? No, Karyu has received a phone call that Jiji is in the hospital, within an hour at the latest. Thank you Acchan, yes of course. Thank you.”

          “Ruimaru! We will be leaving as soon as you are finished packing, so be quick boys.” Isshi shouted down the hall way. Shit, Jiji, what has happened to you? He was sure that if the old man died, Karyu would be utterly heartbroken and Isshi knew, the boy would be lost for some time. “Get on with it already,” he growled at himself.

          Another knock at his door, “Sir, we’re ready, and we have Emi in her crate,” Byou poked his head in, “Go put everything in the car, I’ll be out in just a few minutes.” Isshi said over his shoulder. Ruimaru was leading Karyu who was walking like a zombie, slow and unaware of his surroundings, out the front door and into the car, Byou following with Emi. Within fifteen minutes of learning that Jiji was in hospital, Isshi and his boys were on there way to the estate. Jiji, hold on long enough for Karyu to see you.

 

 

          Walking through the various rooms of his estate, Masamoto Umeji took stock of what needed to be repaired or enhanced, including the main play room. Checking the condition of the equipment, he made a mental list of the various items that needed work. Moving to the main dining room, Umeji decided that the long dining table was sorely outdated and out of style. “Rustic perhaps, the restraints would fit right in with the barn door style…” he mused.

          Since the day he had learned that Byou had been seen in the local community, Masamoto Umeji was determined to get his submissive back. Technically they had never voided their contract, at least not within the standards of the community. He had also thought about searching for Taka, “The boy’s too old now, probably has had his ass drilled for years,” he snorted. It would be a bonus if he could find the older boy, just icing on the cake.

          A servant entered the dining room, “Sir, Inoue-san and Kimura-san have arrived, they are in your study with refreshments.” The servant bowed low as Umeji waved him off. Joining his associates in his study, Umeji projected absolute control, he was a Dominant that would not be denied. “Well? What have you found?” He sat down behind his desk, glaring at the other men.

          “We know where Byou is, but have yet to locate the other boy, though I know he is not in the community.” Inoue started. “Byou is living with Isshi,” this raised Umeji’s attention, “That fag?” he snorted. “Yes, and it appears that Isshi has two other boys in addition to Byou. Also, Isshi has become very close to the top three in the community which may prove to be a problem in the future.”

          “Madame F, Mistress Davina and Sakurai Atsushi, and I’m going to assume they all have submissives?” Kimura spoke first, “Ormond is still with Madame F, though Davina has another, it is no longer Teddy, and Sakurai…well from the rumors in the clubs, his submissive is not truly collared, it’s all for show, the boy is his lover.”

          “The house needs work before we move on Byou, in the mean time I want you to try to find the boy Taka, though I have no idea where to start. I doubt he’s still in the community, hell I don’t even know if he’s still alive, but do your best to locate him. I want both these boys in my possession within six months if not sooner. I will have their rooms completed and the remainder of the estate updated as well. Kimura, I want you to keep an eye on Isshi, if we can get more than just Byou away from him, it would be a bonus. Inoue, you will search for Taka. Keep me updated every few days.” With the final instructions acting as a dismissal, Masamoto Umeji left the room.

 

          Pulling into the parking lot of the small hospital in Fujioka, Karyu leaped out of the car before Isshi had turned off the engine, but he did not call out to his submissive, “Let him go,” he told Ruimaru. Walking into the hospital, Isshi asked at the desk where to find Jiji, “I want you both to stay back and quiet, do you understand?” Isshi wasn’t being strict, he just knew that Karyu needed to be a grandson and not a submissive. “Yes, Sir.” Byou and Ruimaru answered.

          They found the room the old man’s room, Isshi knocking lightly on the door, then walking in. Karyu was sitting next to Jiji’s bed, speaking with a doctor. Isshi politely listened, not saying anything as the doctor told Karyu of his diagnosis which was rather grim. “I’m not going to lie to you Karyu, your grandfather is dying. He’s an old man and his heart is just giving out, there is no surgery nor medication that I can prescribe to repair this condition.”

          Intellectually Karyu understood what the doctor was telling him, emotionally he was not willing to accept the finality of the diagnosis, not quite yet. The doctor excused himself and left the room. Karyu had Jiji’s hand in his, the tears still streaming down his face, “Jiji, what am I suppose to do?”

          Isshi walked up to the side of the bed, “Well Jiji, I would have rather gotten a phone call from you to come for a visit. How are you feeling, truthfully?” Isshi stood behind Karyu, his hands on the boy’s shoulders. “Isshi-san, I’m sorry you’re having to see me like this, and honestly I don’t feel well at all, I know I’m dying.” The old man reached out and caressed his grandson’s face, “Please Karyu, do not fret so much. I am old, I’ve lived a full life and I was lucky enough to watch you grow into a fine young man, who has finally found his place in the world.”

          Isshi knew better than to force Karyu to come back to the estate with them, he was sure that the boy wanted to spend Jiji’s last hours together. Kissing the boy on the head, then leaning over and doing the same to Jiji, Isshi readied himself to leave, “Jiji, I will see you and Karyu in the morning.” Ruimaru whispered something in Isshi’s ear, Of course love,”

          Ruimaru dragged Byou by the hand to the other side of the bed, “Jiji, you made my life better, I love you.” Ruimaru quickly kissed the old man on the cheek, causing Jiji to smile, then Byou bowed deeply to the old man.

          As they walked out to the parking lot holding hands, Ruimaru looked up at his Dominant, “Jiji’s going to die soon, isn’t he Sir?” Isshi didn’t look at his lover, “Yes, my Angel, he is, but he knows Karyu will be cared for and I’m sure that’s of great comfort to him.” Getting into the car, Byou and Ruimaru sat in the back seat and comforted each other, “This is so sad, I truly love Jiji, he’s like the sofu I never had,” Looking in the rearview mirror, Isshi could see Ruimaru leaning his head on Byou’s shoulder. “Let us go to the estate and pray to the kami for Jiji, perhaps a miracle will be granted us.” Isshi knew that no amount of prayer could help the old man, he had just come to the end of his life, but what worried Isshi more, was the life that lay ahead for Karyu who would now be without a living family member.

 

          It was before daybreak that Isshi got the call he had been dreading; the hospital called him and informed him that Jiji had died during the night and could he come to the hospital for Karyu. “Yes of course, I’ll be there shortly.” He quietly got dressed and left a note for the boys, not wanting to subject them to the grief he knew Karyu was dealing with.

          He went to the nurse’s station and asked where Karyu was, a young nurse taking him to a waiting room, “I’ve instructed the other nurses to leave him alone, this room is private.” Isshi thanked the young woman and took a deep breath before opening the door. “Karyu…” he said softly, seeing the boy lying curled up on a couch, crying quietly. Isshi walked over and sat down next to the boy, pulling his young submissive into his arms, “He’s gone Isshi… he died right in front of me…I held his hand until he started to get cold…why Isshi…I don’t know what to do, I wasn’t ready for this.”

          Cradling Karyu’s head against his chest, Isshi kissed the boy on the forehead, rocking him slowly, “You remember him every day, you live how he wanted you to live, and you give thanks that he was there when your parents passed,” placing a finger under Karyu’s chin, he tipped the boy’s face up, “shall I speak to the hospital and start to make arrangements?” Karyu could only nod. “You wait here, I’ll be just a few moments.”

          Speaking with an administrator with the hospital, Isshi signed the necessary papers, claiming to be Karyu’s guardian, “It’s a difficult relationship to explain, but I am in full custody of Karyu, regardless of his age.” He told the man, who didn’t understand but allowed Isshi to sign. “We don’t know if there is a will, but I will contact you again in a few days, thank you for your time.” Isshi bowed and left the room, going back to find Karyu.

          “Let’s go home, you need a little sleep then we will face the day together, with Ruimaru and Byou by your side, we will get through this my love.” Isshi gave Karyu a very chaste kiss, took him by the hand and led him out to the car, knowing that the next few days would be some of the hardest of Karyu’s life.

          Byou and Ruimaru were sitting on the porch, waiting for Isshi to bring Karyu home, “We need to make sure he feels loved, that we are his family now.” Ruimaru told Byou, “He’s going to be devastated Ru, do you really think he’ll stay with us? I mean, now he has the store…what about that?” The young man shook his head, “I don’t think Jiji would want him to stay here and run the store. He knew how much Karyu loves Sir, I’m betting that if they find a will or something, it will tell Karyu to come home with us, to live and be happy…oh there they are!” Jumping to his feet, Ruimaru shook in nervous fear of how his co-lover’s emotions would be.

          Karyu slowly got out of the car and walked towards the house, Ruimaru and Byou jumping down to meet him, both opening their arms for Karyu to walk into, hugging the young man tightly. “We’re so sorry, we loved Jiji too.” Ruimaru whimpered, Karyu just nodding. “Come let’s get into the house, I’m sure you are in need of a snack then perhaps a nap.”

          Ruimaru and Byou scurried around the kitchen, making a quick meal for Isshi and Karyu, while the two men sat on the couch, “I think after you eat,since it’s still so early, I’d like it if you would nap with me.” Karyu said nothing, just nodding. He was too numb to make any type of a decision. “I have some rice and miso for you, and here’s a cola,” Ruimaru carried in the tray and sat it on the table in front of the young man. “Thanks…” he gave his co-lover’s a tiny hint of a smile.

          Emi strolled into the room, all the noise having woken her from her beauty sleep, the cat could feel the tension in the room, and knew who needed comfort by jumping into Karyu’s lap and putting her paws on his chest, and licked his nose.

          “Thanks Emi, I love you too.” Karyu stroked the soft fur of the cat. “Let’s take Emi to bed with us, she’ll be a nice blanket warmer for you.” Isshi put the bowls on the tray, and then got up to lead Karyu back to the bedroom, Karyu turning, “I love you guys, thanks.” Stripping down to boxer shorts, Isshi and Karyu got into bed, the Dominant cuddling the young man close, “We will get through this together, you are not alone in your grief or in your life and we will always be by your side.” With a quick kiss, Isshi and Karyu snuggled down into the blankets.

Chapter Text

          He leaned his head back on the tub, his arms sore from the day’s physical therapy, “You’re a damned slave driver,” Yuki muttered to himself. Kita had been tough with Yuki’s therapy, “You want to walk again, don’t you? Then stop bitching so much.” Yuki would often make a rude noise, but then return to whatever they were working on.

          It had been one of the rougher days when Yuki noticed a change. Sitting in the bathtub and massaging his back, he felt a pinch… on his ass. “What the…?” he shifted himself in the water, there was no way that he felt something, but there it was again, a sharp pinch on the left butt cheek! “AYATO!! AYATO…GET IN HERE!” Yuki screamed from the bathroom.

          “What the hell is wrong with you?” Ayato walks in as Yuki’s pulling himself out of the bathtub, “Pinch my ass!” Ayato snorted, “Like hell I’ll touch your butt.” Yuki got himself into his chair and wheeled into the bedroom, pushing himself onto the bed and lying on his stomach, “Seriously, pinch my ass… my left cheek, pinch it!”

          “What? No way!”

          “Dude, I want to see if I feel it…please just pinch my butt!”

          “This isn’t funny, Yuki…”

          Looking over his shoulder, Yuki snapped, “I think I can feel something, please…just do it!”

          “Fine!” Ayato reluctantly reaches over and pinches his best friend on his left butt cheek.

          “OW! SHIT! Not so hard!” Pain shoots down Yuki’s left leg, “what the hell?” Ayato’s jaw dropped, “You’re joking… you felt that?” Yuki nodded. “Please, just try it again, I want to make sure.”

          Ayato sighed, then pinched the man’s ass again, “Oh shit! Aya I can feel that!” Yuki started to laugh, “Crap, I’m starting to get the feeling back in my legs!” He rolls over onto his back, Ayato’s eyes narrowed, he was skeptical at best. “What? Don’t you believe me?”  

          “You could see when I touched you, so maybe you’re just … I don’t know, wishing really hard?” He just didn’t want to see his best friend crushed if what he was feeling wasn’t real.

          “You mean like nerve pain or something?”

          “Maybe, I don’t know.”

          “Okay, let’s do this. I won’t look at you, and I want you to try again, please?”

          “You’re just getting off on me touching your ass, hentai.” Ayato smirked.

          “Aya, please?” Yuki pleaded with his friend.       

          “Fine, turn over and hide your eyes, but this is the LAST time I’m touching your ass!”

          Laying on his stomach again, Yuki hid his face in his arms, “Okay, I’m ready.” Ayato waited a few seconds before he reached out and once again pinched Yuki on the butt.

          “I felt that, you pinched me, right? I felt it Ayato…on the left cheek, I could feel a buzzing going down the back of my leg.” Ayato nodded, “Okay, now I believe you, so now what do we do?” Yuki just grinned, then did something stupid and unexpected, “Wait…what the hell … Yuki don’t!” Without saying a word, the young man decided that since he could feel that pinch, he must be able to stand, and without warning pushed himself up on his arms and turned towards his friend…and promptly fell backwards onto Ayato, leaving the man screaming. “YUKI YOU IDIOT WHAT THE FUCK!”

          Die had just pulled into the parking lot and was making his way to his flat when he heard Ayato screaming, “Shit, now what?” dropping his bag, he stormed into Yuki’s flat, “What the hell is going on?” He ran down to Yuki’s bedroom and roughly opened the door, then he stopped and tried to figure out what he was seeing; two bodies, one naked…lying tangled up on the floor.

          Die starts to laugh, hard. “Wha…what the hell are you guys doing? Oh my god, I need my phone, I have to get a picture of this…I’ll be right back.” Die turned around, “DAISUKE SO HELP ME GOD GET OVER HERE!” Ayato screamed at the man. “Help get this lunatic off of me damn it, Yuki!”

          Die covered Yuki’s waist, “Do I dare ask what the hell you two were um, trying to do? Do I need to warn Akira that you’re dumping him for Yuki?” As Die picked him up, Yuki held tight to the towel, while Ayato muttered under his breath. “Thank you.” He huffed, “no you don’t have to say anything to Akira, he doesn’t need to know.”

          Dai helped Yuki back into his chair, “So what happened?” he sat down on the side of the bed. “Ayato pinched my ass.” Yuki giggled, he wanted to make his best friend suffer just a little more. “Oh? Are you sure I don’t need to warn Akira?” He wiggled his eyebrows at Ayato. “No! Tell him why I pinched your stupid ass!” the man growled.

          Yuki figured Ayato had suffered enough, “Okay fine,” he smiled, “I was sitting in the tub and I thought I could feel something on my butt… specifically my left butt cheek. So, I got out of the tub and had Ayato pinch my ass a few times.” Yuki was having too much fun saying ‘pinch my ass’.

          “And?” Die leaned forward, praying for the right answer. “And he did it three times, or four…I don’t remember, but I could feel it! The pain sort of shot down my left leg, but I definitely felt the pain.” Ayato rolled his eyes, “It was only three times…you just wished it was four, hentai.”

          Die laughed, “Hentai or not, that’s great Yuki! Fuck you’ll be walking by Christmas I swear, and if you do…I’m asking for a Christmas dance just to celebrate.” Yuki’s eyes grew wide, “Um, are you sure Pon will go for that?” Die snorted, “He’ll be dance number 2…we’ll all be lined up to dance with you.”

          With a little more teasing and a promise to come by the next day, Die finally left the flat, with Ayato not far behind. “Are you going to tell Kita?”

          “What? That’s a stupid question, of course I’ll tell him, why wouldn’t I?”

          “What about Yuu? He probably should know, right?”

          “Let’s go back to Kita, is there something wrong?” Yuki didn’t like the feeling he was getting from his best friend.

          “It’s just me being weird and over protective, ignore it. So, will you tell Yuu?” Yuki shrugged, “I don’t know, probably at some point. I’m in no rush to announce it to the world.” The weirdness factor from Ayato over Kita was obvious, “Tell me why you’re so worried about Kita? Has he said something to you?”

          Ayato shrugged, “No,” he paused, “There’s just something off… too bad we couldn’t get him in front of Ojisan…I just have a creepy feeling about him. He’s never um liked tried anything with you has he?”

          “Tried anything… you mean like sexual? Fuck no he hasn’t! Damn Ayato he’s a professional, why would you think that?”

          “I don’t know damn it! I just don’t like him that’s all, he fucking creeps me out, especially when he wants to help you bathe and shit!” he was starting to lose his temper.

          “Fine, I have to go. I’ll see you in the morning, text me if you need anything.” And with one more huff, Ayato went home, leaving a confused best friend sitting in his wheelchair.

 

          The dreams Yuki had that night were disturbing, but he blamed them on the doubts that Ayato had put into his mind about Kita’s professionalism. Getting up the next morning and waiting for Kita to arrive, Yuki battled with himself over if he should say anything about what had happened the night before. He had not made a definite choice before Kita arrived.

          Kita knocked as he always did then let himself into the flat. “Hey, ready to get to work?” Yuki nodded and wheeled himself into the spare bedroom, and pulled himself up on the table. “Yah, but um, something’s changed.” Kita stopped and put down his bag, “Oh? What’s wrong?”

          “Nothing’s wrong but I um…I have a little feeling in my butt… the left cheek.” Yuki blushed a deep red. “I um had Ayato test it last night, and I can feel it going down my left leg too.” Kita smiled, “That’s great… let’s see what’s going on then.” Kita had Yuki lay down on his stomach, his head laying on his forearms, with his eyes closed. “Okay, I’m going to start by just stretching you.”

          They went through his normal stretching routine for the next ten minutes, then Kita stopped.  “Turn over on your stomach, I want you to spread your legs slightly, and tell me when you feel my hand.” Kita placed a hand on Yuki’s left foot, and squeezed it. “Anything?” Yuki shook his head no. “Tell me when you can feel my hand.” Kita slowly slid his hand up Yuki’s inner thigh, “anything yet?” another no from Yuki.

          “Show me where you could feel Ayato’s hand.” Yuki reached around and put his hand on his butt, “Just about here,” Kita put his hand over Yuki’s, “Okay, can you feel this?” Yuki moved his hand, and Kita lightly scratched the skin. “Yes! I can totally feel that.”

          “Good,” Kita smiled to himself, “I want to try one more thing, this will tell me where the feeling has returned and where it’s still numb, so just close your eyes.” Kita put his hand on Yuki’s ass, “This is where you can feel my hand, right?” He got a muffled ‘yes’. Kita put his hand on Yuki’s ankle, then slowly started moving up the inside of the leg.

          Yuki’s breathing was quick and shallow, he couldn’t feel Kita’s hand yet, “are you on my left leg?” he wondered if Kita had made a mistake. “Yes, you still can’t feel my hand?” Kita tapped his finger on Yuki’s butt, “Yah, I can feel that, but nothing else.” Good. Kita’s hand was sliding up Yuki’s leg, but the right leg…not the left. He traced lines along the skin, small circles…caressing the skin as he reached the bottom of Yuki’s crotch, gently rubbing the boy’s balls, teasing the crease of his ass and grazing the boy’s entrance with a finger.

          Yuki started to feel warm, and flushed. Then he felt Kita’s hand on his leg, “Okay, I can feel that, where on my leg are you?” Kita brushed his hand against the boy’s balls once more, “I’m still touching you, but further down, it looks like the feeling starts around your knee, but no lower.” The therapist teased Yuki’s entrance through the thin fabric of his shorts, probing it gently with his finger. “Oh, I can feel that!” Kita snatched his hand away quickly, “Oh? You mean this?” grabbing the back of Yuki’s thigh tightly. “Yah…”

          “Well, let’s turn you over.” Kita held out his arm for Yuki, who gasped at what he saw, “Oh my god… what the…?” Yuki had an erection, and he quickly put his hand over it. “I um…how did…?” Kita put his hand on Yuki’s shoulder, “probably because I was touching your leg, it’s a natural reaction and it does happen spontaneously, you should be happy to know you can achieve an erection, it’s a good sign.” Yuki was still blushing, “I guess so. What happens now? I mean I’m getting better right? The therapy is working, so how long until I can walk?”

          The man laughed, “Let’s get feeling back in both of your legs before we talk about walking, ne? Let’s go ahead and do the rest of the workout, then we can talk more.” Kita was relieved that Yuki had not actually felt his groping, but was satisfied with what he was able to achieve.

 

          “We’re almost done with the tour, only three more dates then we’ll be home.”

          “Oh, that’s nice.”

          “What’s wrong?”

          “Nothing really, just a little bit of good news with my therapy.”

          “Yah? Like what?”

          “Um, ask Akira about Ayato pinching my ass.”

          “He what? What the hell is going on over there?”

          “Guess you’ll have to wait until you get home.”

Chapter Text

           He was lying on a tatami, in a large house. He could hear people talking, but not what they were saying. Sitting up, he looks around in a room that was bathed in a hue of dusty orange. What the fuck? He hears a door slide open. Oh fuck…please no…I’ll be good, I don’t want to go back, please Master, no more. 

            His Master slaps him back down on the tatami. “Shut your mouth, you worthless piece of shit. Taka cowered on the floor, not knowing what to do. He wants to cry, call out for help but he knows better. His Master drags him by the hair, he realizes he’s naked. “Where…” that earned him another slap. He’s shoved against a wall, his face smashed into by his Master’s hand. His hands are tied, his arms are being pulled over his head, his bound hands placed over a hook. He starts to whimper, he’s scared, this is going to hurt…I know it. He can’t see who’s behind him, or how many. Someone reaches around and grabs his dick, mashing it in their hand. “Feels good, right boy?” Tears start to fall, he says nothing.

            He doesn’t know how long he had been used and abused in every way possible. He’s past crying, past caring, he wants to die. Soft warm hands are there, on his back, lingering over the welt covered skin. He hears soft sounds of pity, “You poor boy, what have they done?” He feels lips on the back of his neck, gentle whispering kisses. The warm hands tenderly rubbing his chest, ghosting over the raw flesh of his bleeding nipples. He moans, pain and pleasure mixed. A naked body, warm flesh pressed against his pain. “I won’t hurt you, lovely boy, no…never.”

A warm hand is wrapped around his wounded cock, rubbing it gently, carefully. “This has been ignored, your pleasure was of no consequence to them, was it?” His cock growing hot, straining against the other’s hand. He moaned, starting to move his hips, his cock needed the friction, the release. He tries to turn his head, who is touching me? I can’t see him.

            “My lovely boy, you were made for me, no one else shall ever touch you again. I will take you from here, I am your new Master, you only need say that one word and you are mine, I will keep you forever.” As Taka tries to speak the word, the warm hand starts to move quickly, spreading the pre-cum, using it to help his cock glide into orgasm. He’s trying, I want to say it, help me please! He’s trying, I want to be yours. He cums hard, leaning into it, but the hand is pulling away. No! Stop! I want to… “My lovely boy, you had your chance, now you’re once again, a worthless piece of shit.

 

          “Taka, babe wake up,” Sato gently shook his husband’s shoulder, looking at Sato, Taka’s eyes were filled with tears, blurry from the lack of any restful sleep, the nightmares had returned and they were just as vivid as before. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.” Taka sniffed. “Babe, really? Like I care that you woke me up,” Sato chided, “do you want some water?” Taka nodded.

          “This fucking sucks,” he whispered to himself. The night that he had met with Byou at Isshi’s home, had triggered the nightmares, the men sharing a common bond of the abusive Dominant Masamoto Umeji, though there was almost a decade separating them. It was obvious to Taka that Umeji had not changed and perhaps had become more violent towards his submissives, based on what Byou had told him.

          Sato walked back into their bedroom handing Taka a water bottle, “Thanks,” Getting back into bed, Sato shrugged down into the blankets, gently pulling Taka into his arms. “Do you think you can fall back to sleep?” He kissed Taka on the forehead, “Mmm, probably…but will you just hold me please? It feels like if you’re holding me, maybe they won’t return.” Sato chuckled, “Like I need an excuse to hold my husband in my arms? Let’s try to get you some decent sleep, or maybe you can nap before work.” Reaching over, Sato turned off the light, “I love you, Taka.”

 

          Ruimaru, Byou and Karyu were sitting at the kitchen bar, Isshi on the other side, holding Jiji’s will in his hands. “Would you like me to read it aloud? Or would you rather be alone?”

          Isshi had taken control of the situation, dealing with the cremation and internment of Jiji’s ashes, next to his wife, and Karyu’s parents. When they had gone to the store, Karyu breaking down again as he wandered through the house, picking up random items and asking Isshi if he could keep them, “Karyu love, you may keep whatever you’d like. I have a large house and I would be honored to have this in my home.”

          Ruimaru and Byou had been Karyu’s strong shoulders to cry on, holding his hand through the cremation and the visit to the cemetery. “It’s so pretty here, I’m sure Jiji will be happy, he’s with Baba now, and your parents.” Ruimaru said softly, standing with his co-lover with his arm around his waist. “It’s always nice here in the spring…” Isshi had found Jiji’s will while the boys wandered the house, he knew that Karyu would need to either read it himself, or have it read to him. “You can read it, Sir.” Karyu quickly wiped another tear away, Isshi nodded.

          This is the final will of Shinobu Norifumi;

          To my grandson Karyu, the last surviving member of our family;

          I want you to live your life the way you have chosen, with Isshi-san caring for you and Byou and Ruimaru to support you. The store has already been sold, the funds from the sale have been transferred to you and are in the Bank of Tokyo under your name. There is a passbook in the drawer under the register. It is my wish that you choose whatever you like from our home to keep, please donate everything else to the recycle shop.

          My greatest fear after your parents died, and your grandmother was gone, that I would somehow keep you locked into our boring little lives in our boring little town, and that you would never find yourself nor someone to love.

         Thank you, Isshi-san for loving Karyu, you’re a good and honest man.

         Ruimaru, you are the soul of your family, your strength and loyalty will bind you to your lovers, please continue to be the cheeky little akuma that you are.

       Byou, I am sad not to have gotten to know you better, but I believe that you are exactly where you are meant to be; in the arms of Isshi, Ruimaru and my Karyu. Believe them when they tell you they love you.

     Karyu, for you I want nothing more than your happiness. You’ve been by my side much longer than you should have been and now it is time for you to live. Be happy with your life.

    Isshi, if you would pass on my regards to Sakurai-san and his lover Uta, please. If it were not for them, my Karyu may still be living an unhappy life.

    Weep not for your loss, but for my final happiness.

 

     Isshi took the bank passbook and handed it to Karyu, “I believe Jiji just wanted you to be cared for, he always thought of you first.” Karyu opened the book and his eyes grew wide, “Really? This much?” Isshi nodded, “A tidy sum for an older store, but I believe that it is a fair amount.”

     Isshi prepared dinner, which was a definite treat, “Sir, I think you should cook more often! This is much better than anything I’ve ever made.” Karyu and Byou both gasped, “Ru!” Isshi glared at Ruimaru…or tried to, for about thirty seconds. “You’re a shameful cheeky boy! I should punish you for that comment.”

    Ruimaru cast his eyes to the floor, but Isshi could see the flutter of a smile breaking on the boy’s lips, “I’m sorry Sir, I agree, I should be punished.” Isshi stood with his hands on his hips, “Honestly boy… will you do anything just to be punished? What’s next?” Ruimaru started to giggle, then looked up at his Dominant, “That was fun Sir! Let’s do that again sometime…with real punishment!” Karyu laughed, “You did that on purpose Ru!” The young man nodded, “yes I did, because I knew it would make you laugh and I don’t think Jiji would like you being all weepy, he told you to enjoy yourself and remember that he had a very long and fulfilling life filled with love, so no more crying!”

    What Karyu did next stunned everyone, even himself; getting out of his chair he grabbed Ruimaru by the shoulders and pulled him to his chest, “I love you,” he whispered, then kissed his young friend passionately. Isshi smiled, he wouldn’t punish the boys for this, but Byou’s jaw had dropped, “Hey! What about me? I love you too you know!” he pouted. “Fine,” Karyu repeated the kiss with Byou, both boys a little breathless after.

    Karyu then turned to Isshi, “I’m not sorry I did that Sir, I hope you understand.” Isshi came around the counter, standing in front of Karyu, putting his hands on the boy’s shoulders. “Yes, I understand, more than you think. This has been difficult for you, Jiji raised you and he was your link to your parents. But he also understood you better than you think. I spoke with him quite a bit, he didn’t really understand our lifestyle, but he also didn’t judge us. He always wished for you to be happy and if I loved you, cared for you, and you were happy, that’s all that mattered to him.”

    Now it was Isshi’s turn to kiss his submissive senseless, Karyu mewling softly. Breaking the kiss, he looked at his other two boys, “I believe we might need to go and look for any feral cats that might have made their home in the barn, ne?” They all knew what Isshi really had in mind, Ruimaru scrambling off his seat and into the bedroom to grab a few blankets, and slipping a bottle of lube into his pocket. Racing back to the kitchen, “We’re ready sir!” and with a happy giggle, Isshi led his boys out to the barn for a bit of fun.

 

    “Hey babe, it’s almost noon, would you like me to make you something to eat before you go to work?” Sato hated waking Taka, the boy finally succumbing to sleep around four in the morning. “Hmm? Yes please, I’m going to take a shower first.” The nightmares had not returned, Taka linking it to having Sato hold him close for the rest of the night, “He’s my safe haven…” remembering what Kyo had told him so many years ago.

    The one issue he was having is the feeling of guilt; he knew the man in the dream that called him his lovely boy, was in fact Sakurai Atsushi, though that connection between them had been long dead and buried deep in the past. He knew that he would eventually have to face Sakurai and the thought of what had happened between them may make seeing him a bit uncomfortable.

   Taka voiced his concern to Sato, “I don’t think he’s going to do or say anything, that’s so far in the past, he has Uta now…you and he are good, the relationship has been repaired, if you do see him and feel comfortable talking about it, I’m sure all Acchan will do is maybe hug you and apologize again.”  “You’re right, I’m just being stupid over this.” Taka replied sheepishly. “No, you’re not being stupid, this isn’t something that you made up, it’s real and it happened to you, and unfortunately to Byou as well.”

   Byou. Taka wondered how the young man was dealing with the emotions that their shared story brought to the surface. “Maybe I should ask him over for lunch or something, do you think Isshi would allow that?” Sato smiled, “All you can do is ask babe, but knowing Isshi and how much he loves his boys, if it helps Byou I’m going to say that he’d allow it. I’m sure you can get his number from Uta or Acchan.”

   “True, I’ll ask Uta today at work, we close together. Maybe I should invite him as well, he suffered from some horrific shit with Natsu, enough so I’m sure he can relate to Byou and me.”

 

    Taka arrived at the HBG, looking worn and tired, enough so that Aki confronted him, “What’s wrong with you lately? You look like a zombie most of the time.” Aki’s initial fear was that Taka had started drinking again. “I’ve been having nightmares from my past, that’s all, so I don’t get any really relaxing sleep, but it will pass.”

    Aki wasn’t totally convinced, “Uh, okay…well it’s been surprisingly slow since the weather’s so nice. Any upcoming events that we should know about?” Taka was pulling up the email for the day, “Hmm, looks like in two weeks, end of summer tour season for Gazette, that’s it for now.”

    “HBG party?” Uta walked in just at the end of the conversation, “yah, looks like for The Gazette, no specifics yet. Can I talk to you for a minute Uta?” Aki left the office, “Close the door please.”  Uta’s stomach grumbled, “Am I in trouble?” he sat down, “What? No of course you’re not in trouble. I just wanted to know if you’d come to lunch at my house, I’m inviting Byou over and thought you might want to … I don’t know, helps us out?”

   “Help you out? I don’t understand.”

   “My nightmares have started again, from when I was with um… him. I wanted to talk to Byou, see if he’s having any problems and since you have experience with um, abuse, I thought maybe we could compare stories or something? It’s totally okay if you don’t wan…” Uta held his hand up, “What day and what time?”

Chapter Text

 

          The men on the construction team knew not to question the owner of the estate, about what they were installing, but that didn’t mean they kept quiet between themselves. “What the hell is this guy building?” was the obvious question, to which the foreman on the job told them, “It’s none of our business, just do the work and do it well.” The foreman of the job had the daily duty of speaking to Masamoto Umeji, usually in person and give him the updates on the projects.

          “Masamoto-san, the rooms in the basement are completed,” the man handed Umeji the keys to the rooms, “I’ve tested it with some of my men, and it is completely soundproof.” This pleased Umeji, “Perfect. And the other room?” This room and its contents had made the foreman’s blood run cold, “Sound proof as well, the um, equipment you ordered is installed and is secured to the floor with three-ton bolts per your instructions.”

          Dismissing the foreman, Umeji toured the basement rooms, checking for anything that may hinder his plan. The next order of business was to check on the custom-made furniture he had ordered from a special dealer in America. He had shown Kimura and Inoue pictures of what he had ordered, “They seem a little more twisted in the US, don’t they?” Inoue commented, “I don’t know if twisted is the right word, more a long the lines of inventive?” Kimura murmured as he paged through the catalog.

          “The furniture will be here by next week, after that it’s just a matter of contacting our other associates and of course, making sure we have the entertainment lined up for the week,” Umeji’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Kimura, “and you are certain the entertainment will be available?”

          “Isshi and his boys are not at his home, they left suddenly two days ago and have not returned. The older boy I’m having a little more difficultly tracking down, but I’m confident that he’ll surface soon,” Kimura said with surety, “Once I find them both, and track their movements, we can then come up with a way to invite them to our little party, where they will be the guests of honor.”

 

          The post-tour depression hit Aoi harder this time, though he wasn’t sure why. He was happy that the tour was over, the crowds had been amazing and the hand made gifts, over the top. Unpacking his suitcase, he tried hard not to dwell on the feeling of loneliness; his bandmates had all been greeted at the studio parking lot by their lovers, something that hurt Aoi deeply, “You don’t deserve it…get over yourself.” Something inside of him had hoped that Yuki would be there, sitting in his wheel chair, with Ayato waiting for Reita, he had laughed at his fantasy, loud enough Uruha looked at him. Now he had nothing to look forward to, just months of boredom before going back into the studio and working on the next album.

          The last text Aoi had sent to Yuki was just informing his ex that they were on the way back to Japan, and would like to see him at some point. Yuki had never explained his last text about the developments with his physical therapy, but if Aoi had to guess it would be that the feeling in Yuki’s legs was starting to return. The comment about Ayato pinching Yuki’s ass, “what the hell did that even mean?” had made him laugh.  Now that he was home, the safe distance during the tour was no longer in place, which meant he had to be able to face Yuki, if asked.

          “Hey, I’m home, just wanted to let you know.”

 

          Ayato was putting Reita to bed; the man had come off the tour with a bad case of the flu. “I need to unpack…” he coughed. “You need to go lay your ass down in bed while I make you some tea and miso, you’re sick, stop being an ass.”

          “Fine, but you don’t have to be so mean and I want to take a shower first.” Ayato waved him off, going back into the kitchen to cook. “I’m not that sick,” Reita started coughing, almost choking, “okay, maybe I am.” Turning the shower on, he stripped down, then stood under the stinging spray of the hot water. “god that feels good.”

          “When you’re done with Akira, can you come over please?”

          “As soon as he eats and I get him in bed, he has the flu. Is everything okay?”

          “Well, I’m not sure, I’ll explain when you get here.”

          “Bet it’s that damned therapist.” Ayato muttered under his breath. “Something wrong?” Reita came into the living room, towel drying his hair and already in pajamas. “I don’t know, maybe,” Ayato put the soup and the tea on the table, “I just don’t like Yuki’s therapist…there’s something off about him but I can’t exactly say what.”

          Reita sipped the miso, “I thought he was the best choice? You said Yuki’s getting the feeling back in his legs…” Ayato took the wet towel from Reita, “He has, but I don’t trust the guy, I’m going to go over after you go to bed, which is in like fifteen minutes.”  Pushing Reita down the hall, Ayato got his sickly boyfriend tucked away in bed, “I’ll be back in a bit to check on you.” Reita chuckled, “Yes Kaasan.” With a kiss to the forehead, Ayato closed the bedroom door.

          He knocked once and let himself into Yuki’s flat, “what’s up?” Yuki was feeding Rin and Sora, who had grown into loud and slightly obnoxious teenage cats. “Um, okay…here’s what happened.” Yuki wheeled himself into the living room. “The other day during therapy, I told him that I had some feeling in like my butt, and that you and I tested it. He seemed like he didn’t believe me at first, so he said he’d check it out.”

          Yuki’s face was turning red, a tear forming in one eye. “He had me lay on my stomach and he felt my legs and where I thought I could feel. I could feel his hand on my lower back, but not where he was touching me on the leg. I asked him if he was touching the left leg, he said yes.” Ayato didn’t like where this was leading.

          “After all of this, he made me turn over and um… shit, I don’t even know how to say it… I um…I got hard, like full blown erection.” Now Yuki was crying, “Kita dismissed it, saying it happens and that I should be happy about it, Aya it didn’t feel right…I mean, did he do something to me?”

          Ayato was barely containing his anger, “He touched you? That son of a BITCH!” Yuki put his hands up, “Maybe I don’t know for sure! What if he’s telling the truth? It could be just because the feeling’s coming back, right?” Yuki was in panic mode, trying to justify Kita’s actions. Rubbing his face roughly, Ayato reined back his anger, “What do you think? Really think about it before you answer, did this creep you out? Do you believe he molested you?”

          Yuki didn’t say anything for several moments, but Ayato could see the tears falling, slowly…Yuki nodded his head, “I don’t think it was spontaneous,” Moving to kneel in front of Yuki’s chair, Ayato reached out to his friend, “I’m not leaving you alone with him anymore, and I think you should fire him…if you can’t trust him with helping you, then he needs to go like now.”

          Yuki wiped his eyes, “He’ll be here this afternoon, can you stay with me?” Ayato groaned, “I have to work at noon, but I can have Reita come over, or even better, why don’t you call Yuu? I’d rather have him here watching, than Reita…since he’s all pukey with the flu.” Yuki had thought of asking Aoi to come over, they had a lot to talk about since the texts they exchanged during the tour. “Yah, I think I’ll do that.”

          “Can you come over in like an hour or so? I really need your help.”  

 

          Aoi was more than surprised when he received Yuki’s text, “needs my help, for what?” A million scenarios rushed through his mind, everything from cleaning litter boxes, to helping Yuki in the shower. “Pfft, yah like that would ever happen, keep dreaming Yuu,” he laughed at himself. Pulling into the parking lot, his palms sweaty and a nervous burn in his stomach, Aoi got out of the car and went to the front door, and knocked. “COME IN!”

          “Hey, I um, I’m here and stuff…what did you need help with?” Aoi had his hands jammed deep in his pockets, his shoulders somewhere up around his ears. “Sit please.” Yuki wheeled himself over next to the couch, as close as he could get to Aoi. “I have a problem and I just need your support please.”

          “Sure, of course…anything.” Yuki took a deep breath; he was sure that Aoi would react in a violent way. “I need to fire my therapist today, I um, think he might have …”

          “Might have what…”

          Yuki was staring down at his hands, he knew he shouldn’t feel ashamed, “Touched me inappropriately during therapy.” He went on to explain the situation, just as he had told Ayato. “I don’t want him here anymore, so can you take all of his stuff out of the room and put it out in the parking lot please?” Aoi’s face was burning, he was holding down his anger, “Do you want to press charges for sexual assault?” he asked carefully.

          “No, because I’m not sure if it actually happened, I just don’t want him here anymore,” Yuki looked up at Aoi, “please just help me, I won’t ever ask you for anything again, please Yuu.” This broke Aoi’s heart, “Yu, you can ask me for everything and I’ll give it to you if I can. Yah, I’ll go move his shit to the parking lot, no worries.” Standing up, Aoi bent down and kissed Yuki on the forehead, then walked down to the bedroom and started to gather Kita’s equipment.

          It roughly took Aoi twenty minutes to clear the bedroom, “I’m going to go stand outside, you don’t need to see him.” Aoi said. He wanted to be the one to tell Kita that the man no longer had Yuki as a patient. “Thanks, Yuu,” relief flooded Yuki’s body, he was afraid of confronting the therapist and gladly let Aoi handle it, “Don’t hurt him too badly, ne?”

          Aoi wore a wicked grin, “I’m not promising anything, but he might fall in the parking lot, you know moving all that stuff into his car?”  Yuki giggled, a sound that went straight to Aoi’s heart, did he dare believe he might have a chance again? “I’ll be back in a bit, don’t go anywhere,” Yuki groaned at the stupid pun, “Yah right…”

          If Kita would have known what was in store for him that day, he may not have gotten out of bed. Instead of his plan to further molest Yuki, he was greeted by a man in the parking lot, with a box of his gear. “Um, hi, can I ask why my equipment is out here?”

          Aoi said nothing as he walked up, grabbed Kita by the front of his shirt and pushed him against his car. “You rotten piece of predatory shit, you thought you’d get away with it? Think again asshole,” the guitarist growled.

          “What the fuck, get off me!” Kita pushed Aoi’s arm, “what the fuck are you talking about?”

          “How many other disabled guys have you done that to? Huh? Yuki’s not your first victim, is he? You sexually assaulted a disabled person…oh don’t look so surprised, Yuki figured it out, you got your fucked up sexual kicks out of feeling up a paralyzed kid.”

          Kita’s eyes grew wide, “You…you have no proof of that, it was a natural reaction.” Kita was on the ground and bleeding in half a second, Aoi standing over him.

          “Get your shit and get out before I call the cops, if you think Yuki won’t press charges, think again you fucking maggot. I’m personally going to make sure you never do this to another person, I’m sure there are others you’ve fucked with that would join in a lawsuit against you. Now get up and get the fuck out of here, NOW!”

          Kita scrambled backwards then got up, grabbing the box of equipment and throwing it in the back of his car, he ran to the driver’s side and got in, “I’m not fucking done with Yuki…he has to release me from his treatment.”

          Aoi reached through the window and grabbed Kita by the shirt, “If you show your fucking face around here again, I will fucking kill you…do you understand me? I will beat you to death if you lay one finger on Yuki…so think carefully about threatening me.” Pushing Kita back through the window, the car quickly backed up and with squealing tires, pulled into the street.

          Aoi waited a second before going back to Yuki’s flat, finding him in the living room and sitting on the couch. “He won’t be back…oh and he did fall in the parking lot and um, his car hit him in the back, and um, he sort of ruined his shirt.” Aoi sat down on the couch.

          “Yuu… please tell me you didn’t beat him up…did you?” Aoi quickly hid his right hand, “Yuu…really? Let me see it… now Yuu,” Aoi slowly brought his hand from behind his back, showing it to Yuki. “How the hell are you going to play if your knuckles are busted!” the younger man scolded him. “I just got off tour, I’m not playing anything for at least a month, I’m fine, stop mothering me.” Yuki held Aoi’s hand in his. “Thanks, Yuu, I really mean it.”

          Aoi didn’t want to pull his hand away, but it started to feel awkward after a few minutes. Looking up at Yuki, he took a chance, “would you go out to dinner with me, please? Nothing fancy, maybe just Ojisan’s? I haven’t had decent ramen in forever.” He was expecting rejection, but Yuki surprised him, “Sure, when do you want to go?”

          “Is now too early?”

Chapter Text

          It was obvious that they were all relieved to be home, though staying at Sakurai’s estate was a nice respite from the city. Karyu had come to terms with his grandfather’s death, his grief cried out. “Are you sure that’s all you want from the house, love?” Isshi loaded the last of the boxes into his car. “This is all that’s important to me, everything else can be donated.”

          Isshi’s assistance had been invaluable; helping Karyu through all the paperwork and procedures that needed to be taken care of, before he could release the store to the new owners, who he had met the day before they returned to the city. A young couple with two young children, “We’ve always wanted to be part of a smaller community, and this was the perfect opportunity for us. Your grandfather was an extremely nice man, and we were pleased when he said that he would sell us the store. Please, let your mind be at ease, the store will remain open until we pass it to our children.”

          Pulling into the driveway, a noticeable feeling of relief flooded the four men, “Now we can get back to our normal lives,” Isshi said to his boys, throwing Ruimaru into a fit of giggles, “My Angel, whatever are you laughing about?” Isshi scolded. “Sir, you said normal lives,” he giggled again, “our lives are anything but normal, Sir.” Isshi rolled his eyes, “You’re a cheeky little brat, you’re trying to goad me into some sort of punishment, aren’t you?” Isshi said.

          Byou started to giggle, which led Karyu to hide his face in Byou’s back, stifling his laughter. “You boys…whatever shall I do with you?” Isshi chuckled, “let’s get everything into the house, I’m sure Emi would like to stretch her legs.” Karyu took the cat’s crate into the house, leaving Byou and Ruimaru to unload the car. “I will be in my study boys, let me know when you have finished.” Sitting at his desk, Isshi turned on his computer, ready to sort through emails.

          Moving from in front of the window of the rented house across the street from Isshi’s home, Kimura picked up his phone, “They’ve just returned, no…but that’s not unusual, that fag rarely let’s those boys out of his sight…this will be difficult. If we could grab both boys at the same time, true we don’t know where he lives…yes, I will.”

 

          Yuki cocked his head as he looked at Aoi, “Sorry… a little too soon for that. Would you like me to call someone…is Ayato home?” Aoi got up to leave, he had pressed his luck too far, “I didn’t say no, Yuu.” Yuki said. “So, you’ll go with me?” Yuki shrugged, “I think we need to talk a little first.”

          Aoi groaned, “Are you sure? Can’t we just call everything good for today and go eat?” Yuki frowned and pointed at the couch, “Sit.” Aoi slumped his shoulders and hung his head, “Yes, sir.” He really didn’t want to do this, afraid of screwing up again.

          “The last conversation we had, well the one before Ayato and my ass, you never finished your answer, what do you want from me?” Aoi shook his head, “And I’ll give you the same answer, what I want and what I deserve are two entirely different things.”

          “Bullshit answer… you keep saying that and I’ll keep calling you out… tell me the truth, Yuu!” Aoi huffed, laying his head back on the couch, “Fine! I want …”, he stopped, “I want us… okay? I want to love you and care for you, but after what I’ve done, I don’t deserve any of it. I will be your friend and come when you call me, I’ll do anything for you, but I don’t deserve your love.” Leaning forward, Aoi dropped his head into his hands.

          “I screwed up so badly, I understand how much you hate me. The shitty person I was, going after Pon, the shitty person I was dating you, I don’t deserve anything from you.”

          “What do you deserve?”

          “Maybe just friendship…I don’t even know.” Aoi looked up at Yuki, “Why do you even care?”          

           Yuki shrugged, “I guess because I hope to meet Shiroyama Yuu someday, people tell me he’s a nice guy, do you know him?”

           Aoi grinned, “I’ve seen him around, he’s kind of been hanging out at my place a lot, but he’s super annoying.”

          “You think I could get him to take me to dinner tonight?”

         “Probably, but he’s pretty cheap…he’ll only go for ramen, but at a special place.” Looking at each other, both men started to laugh, “Well that was fun… ready to go?”

 

          “Irasshai gentlemen, what can I make for you today?” Ojisan was pleased to see Aoi and Yuki, together again. The ramen maker’s flashes from the previous day had worried him, flashes of Yuki being held down and against his will. The fact that the young man was with Aoi, gave him hope for them both.

           “Chashu pork and a beer please,” Yuki ordered. Aoi helped him into a chair, “I’ll have the same but with a cola, since I’m driving.” Ojisan nodded and turned to his kitchen. “What are you going to do now that Kita’s gone, look for a new therapist?” Aoi asked, though he was worried that something similar may happen again to Yuki.

          “I’m not sure, I guess I should go back to see the doctor, maybe there’s exercises that I can do on my own.” The fear in Yuki’s mind had grown, what would he do now? Ojisan came towards the counter, “Two chashu pork,” setting the bowls down in front of the men. Looking first at Yuki, Ojisan frowned, “The man who was suppose to help you, he is gone now?” Yuki nodded; he didn’t even try to understand how Ojisan’s mind worked.

         “Yes, he’s gone. Um, Aoi convinced him to leave.” Ojisan looked at Aoi, “The damage to your hand is not significant?” Aoi held up his hand, “Nothing I haven’t done before, Ojisan.” The ramen maker looked again at Yuki… the young man knew what was coming.

       “This is the man who will help you walk again, please take his hand when he offers it.” Looking at Aoi next, Ojisan smiled, “Put aside your wants and desires for Yuki, help him as a friend and do not expect anything more.”

       The stunned looks on Aoi and Yuki’s faces amused Ojisan, “I only tell you what I see, not what you want to hear.” With a light bow, the man walked back to his small kitchen. The two men ate the remainder of their meal in silence, both having emotions churning through their minds.

      The drive back to Yuki’s flat was equally quiet, but once they were inside, Yuki had to say something, “So will you?”

        “Will I what?”

          “Help me walk,”

          “If you haven’t already heard, I’m a guitarist, not a physical therapist.”

          “Cop out”

          “How is that a cop out? I don’t know what to do to get you walking again, hell I might even make things worse if I tried.”

         “But Ojisan said, you’re the one that’s going to help me walk again, are you going to bail out on him as well?”

          “I don’t have the faintest idea what to do to help you walk again, maybe just cheer from the couch when you fall? Seriously!” Aoi said

          “I could easily tell you what stretches and exercises Kita had me do… I can buy the equipment, it’s not like I don’t have the money.”

          Now it was Aoi’s turn to call Yuki out; “Why are you forcing the issue? We haven’t even established that we’re friends, and now you want me to take over your physical therapy? Dude, talk about fucked up!”

          Yuki looked down at his hands, “It’s not fucked up,” Aoi saw a tear fall, “Hey…look at me,” he said softly as he reached over and tipped Yuki’s chin up. “What’s wrong?”

          Yuki shook his head, “Yu, look at me, tell me what’s wrong?” Aoi got off the couch and kneeled in front of Yuki’s chair.

          “I’m scared. If you don’t help me…”

          Yuki’s shaky voice broke Aoi’s heart, leaving him to do something drastic. Without saying a word, he locked the brakes on the wheelchair, then bent down and picked Yuki up, turning to sit on the couch with the man in his lap.

          “Wha…what are you doing?” Yuki stammered.

          “I’m going to guess you haven’t been held like this since Ken died, have you?” Yuki’s body relaxed, “No…”

          They just sat there, Aoi’s arms cradling Yuki tenderly, Yuki relaxing enough to put his head on Aoi’s shoulder, “Is this okay?” he asked. Yuki nodded, “Mmm.” It felt like heaven, having Yuki in his arms again, kissing the young man on the forehead.

          “I’ll help you walk again, I’m sorry I was being difficult, sometimes Aoi pokes his dumb ass opinion where it doesn’t belong,” Aoi whispered, “Shiroyama Yuu is pretty hard to get rid of, I just want you to know that now, and he’s stubborn…he’s going to make you work hard.” Yuki nodded, “Mmm.”

          “Do you want me to go home?”

          “No, not yet…is that okay?”

          “Mmhmm, I’ll stay as long as you want me to.”

          “Can we just stay like this for awhile?” He had to admit, being held by Aoi felt good.

          “I’ll stay like this forever, if you want…but I don’t know about eating and using the bathroom…we might have to move eventually.” Aoi said.

          “I might cut the circulation off in your legs, then we’d both be cripples,”

          “You don’t weigh enough to do that, silly. You barely weigh anything at all.” Aoi rubbed Yuki’s back, “You can feel this, right?”

          “Mmhmm,”

          “Can you feel this too?” Aoi slid his hand down to just above the waist band of Yuki’s pants, “A little… don’t get too fresh Yuu, I just got rid of one pervert,” he teased.

          Aoi sighed, “That would never happen, I’m not that person anymore. I respect you too much…I’ll never do anything to hurt you again.” Aoi kissed Yuki’s forehead again.

          “Promise?”

          “Do you want to do a pinky promise? Shall I sing Wakaremichi to you?” Aoi started humming the song softly, slowly rocking Yuki in his arms. He felt Yuki sigh, then the unimaginable happened, Yuki reached up and caressed Aoi’s cheek, tipping his face towards his and kissed him softly.

          One of the most difficult things Aoi had done up to that moment, was not taking advantage of Yuki’s kiss…he wasn’t Aoi at that moment, he was Shiroyama Yuu, a man in love that wanted nothing more than to protect the young man in his arms.

          Ayato walked into the courtyard and saw the lights on in Yuki’s flat. Knocking softly, as he knew sometimes Yuki napped on the couch, the vision that greeted him was something he did not expect; Yuki in Aoi’s arms, both men wearing smiles and sleeping. “Looks like Yuu is finally back,” he whispered as he gently closed the door.

 

          The three men sat on Taka and Sato’s large bed, for whatever reason it felt like the safest place to talk, Taka giving each of them a pillow to hold. “Thanks for agreeing to this Byou, I’m hoping this helps… all of us really.” Byou had told them why Isshi had taken them to Sakurai’s estate, “It was sad, but Jiji really just wanted Karyu to be happy…that’s why he sold the store without telling him…it’s still there and being run now by a young family.”

          Byou hesitated before asking, “Sir said you’re having nightmares about um-what happened to us?”

          “Yah, actually they’re pretty much the same dreams I’ve had in the past, that came up when um, I thought that I was uh…being thrown away.” Taka explained what had happened during that time after Morrie’s attacks, but stopping before he mentioned Sakurai, apologizing to Uta who waved off his friend’s concern.

          “That was way before I knew him and he was an asshole back then, I remember how he chased you, how Kyo always wanted to beat Acchan to death. I wasn’t much better back then either, I mean seriously… Natsu’s abuse? Not to diminish yours and Byou’s at all, but I do understand how it feels to be abused by the one you trust the most to take care of you.” Uta then explained what had happened to him when he had been with Natsu, things which horrified Byou.

          “I’ve had nightmares, but I don’t think they’re as bad as yours Taka. Mine are mostly about him just leaving me at that house and never contacting me again, I always worry that he might turn up at Vinyl Fetish and demand to take me back because we never formally canceled our contract.” That was Byou’s biggest fear.

          “Isshi wouldn’t allow it to happen, neither would Ormond or even Acchan, as long as you’re with your Dominant or another, you’re safe.” Uta giggled, “I’ve heard about how good Isshi is in a fight, he’s punched Acchan twice! Once for touching Leda who he claimed he didn’t even know was collared.”

          “Sir? Hit Sakurai-san?” This horrified Byou, “Isshi…my Isshi hit someone?” Uta nodded, “You saw how angry he was with that horrible man you were with…just think if Nakamura had tried to touch Karyu or Ruimaru?” Byou nodded, “I can’t even imagine that,” he looked at Uta, “would Sakurai-san gotten involved as well?” Uta chuckled, “Yes without a doubt, he would not have let anyone touch us.”

          The three young men talked more about their shared abusive submissive lives, “I hope this helps your nightmares Taka,” Byou said shyly. Uta started to laugh, “Maybe you just need Sato to fuck you into the mattress every night so you’ll be too tired to dream!” Taka reached over and pushed Uta backwards on the bed.

          Deciding on using their phones for support, Byou and Taka exchanged numbers, “I’ll make sure to speak with Isshi before we do any texting or calling, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, not like I’m trying to steal you away from him.”

           With a round of hugs and goodbyes at the door, Uta and Byou zipped off with tires squealing in his sports car, taking Byou home to Isshi. Taka looked at the black Mercedes parked in front of his neighbor’s house, “Must have visitors.”

 

        “This will improve your day, I just saw Byou and Taka…with another boy, Sakurai Atsushi’s fake sub Uta, all in the same place. Uta showed up at Isshi’s in some vintage sports car and picked up Byou, no he wasn’t. I followed them to 3 Chome to a house. Not until they all came outside, Byou and Uta drove off. He looked at the car but obviously he couldn’t see me. That will be the bigger hurdle getting them all in the same room, Uta? Do you have some grudge against Sakurai? Oh, I didn’t realize, then Uta would be bonus entertainment, for our guests. I would suggest going with a professional for that part of the problem, if he see’s any of us, that blows the entire operation. Yes yes, I’m aware of that… if that’s the way you want to proceed, I will respect your wishes.”