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Walking With The Dead

by P L Nunn


Chapter Four


The door slammed. There was the sound of keys being tossed violently onto the hallway table. Ryo stalked through the den on his way to the kitchen. Rowan, who was well on the way of being obsessed with his new video game paused play long enough to glance up and ask.

"Where's Seiji?"

Ryo paused, glaring over his shoulder and gave Rowan a monumentally informative, "Out." Before continuing on into the kitchen.

"Out?' Rowan called after him, biting his lip in the effort to concentrate on Ryo's non-answer and the game in progress. He was practically certain that when Ryo had left, Seiji had been with him.

"He bought a car. He's still in the city." He left it at that, frustratingly enough. Seiji buying a car was no small thing. Rowan really didn't want to pause the game, but he did want to know about the car.

Ryo was getting his practice swords. He kept them in the small room between the kitchen and the back door. Ryo was slamming things about in the process, which meant Ryo was in a foul mood. Which meant that Seiji and Ryo had probably had a spat. Seiji and Ryo did that more frequently than Sai and Rowan, only they tended to get over it better. All it took was Ryo going up to Seiji with those big blue eyes of his and taking the blame for whatever argument they'd had -- whether he was at fault or not, generally -- and Seiji usually got over it. Rowan had contemplated doing the same thing with Sai, but his pride wouldn't let him take that first groveling step. Besides, he had apologized. It wasn't his fault if Sai didn't want to accept it.

Rowan reluctantly paused the game and followed Ryo into the kitchen. Sai was coming in the back door, either attracted by all Ryo's banging about or just finished fiddling with his garden. He was as much obsessed with it as Rowan was with the video game. Practical obsessions when you were trying to keep your mind off more annoying things, like fighting with your boyfriend. Sai gardened or played with his fish and Rowan immersed himself in the wonderful world of computer animated gameplay.

"Oh, where's Seiji?" Sai's arms were dirty up to the elbows. He had a charming little smear of it on his left cheek. Ryo whirled, one sheathed katana in hand and snapped.

"How the hell should I know? Jesus!"

Sai's nose went up. Sai's sea green eyes narrowed. "Well, you don't have to get snippy. At least Seiji's developed some sensitivity around here, the rest of you are degenerating."

"Shut the fuck up!" It was like something burst. Ryo just snapped. He whirled with that damned alarming speed he sometimes exhibited and slammed Sai up against the open kitchen door. The glass panes in the door rattled, the practice sword was up against Sai's throat, Ryo's first wrapped in his shirt front. Sai's eyes widened and his mouth opened in soundless shock.

Rowan made a leisurely line towards the refrigerator and remarked calmly. "You might wanna let up on him, Ryo."

Ryo blinked, for a second his eyes blank, then he took a breath and stepped back, abashed and flustered. He muttered something under his breath, an apology perhaps, or a curse, Rowan wasn't close enough to hear, then he stalked out the back door headed towards the woods and the place he liked to practice.

"What the hell is his problem?" Rowan wondered aloud.

Sai stood there a moment, back against the door, then he straightened, lifting a dirty hand to smooth the shirt that Ryo had bunched up. "I don't know, and I'm sure I don't need your help, Rowan."

Oh, fine. Just dandy. Rowan's lips twitched up in a cold, humorless smile. "Whatever." He wanted to say something nastier, but decided to be the better man. Well, at least this once.


It was quarter past seven and Seiji wasn't back. The sun had gone down hours past, Sai and Kento had fixed supper and Ryo and Rowan had partaken of it. Rowan sullenly, Ryo listlessly and silently. Sai carried on an animated and obviously contrived conversation with Kento who looked like he'd rather be somewhere else.

"I've got a lovely new addition of Trivial pursuit, do you want to come upstairs and play?" Sai was beaming. Kento groaned and glanced askance at Rowan, who shrugged and pretended not to have heard. He'd given that game to Sai not two weeks past. Sai didn't like computer games and loved word and trivia puzzles. He and Rowan had worn out the earlier editions. Kento was about to get thoroughly routed. Rowan called Sai an unflattering name under his breath as Sai dragged Kento upstairs.

So he was left with nothing to do but take up where he'd left off with the game. It didn't really bother him that Kento was upstairs enjoying Sai's company -- okay, forced into Sai's company at the threat of a major sulk. Not really. He glared up at the ceiling and mouthed another nasty word.

Ryo wondered in, on his forth or fifth circuit of the house. He was doing more pacing than White Blaze when he was feeling those majorly amplified tiger-tom-cat urges. Rowan didn't think Ryo was horny in the least. Rowan thought Ryo was pissed and hurt and not doing a very good job of hiding either one. He and Seiji had had a fight, was Rowan's opinion. Probably a big one, which was why Seiji was still out. And Ryo in addition to the other emotions swimming in his eyes was also feeling guilty about it. Rowan had picked up all of that over dinner without a word being uttered.

Ryo flopped down on the couch and stared restlessly at the conflict taking place on the TV screen. Rowan played a while longer in silence. Well at least as much silence as he could muster in the throes of a video game. He tended towards verbal interaction with the characters he was playing. And cursing. A great deal of cursing.

Ryo looked at the clock over the mantle. And kept looking at it every couple of minutes or so. Seiji generally was not one to stay out on the town without major pressure being applied. What he might be doing past seven in the city was anyone's guess. A surge of sympathetic good will came upon him. With only slight reluctance, Rowan offered. "You wanna play?"

It was a one player game. Rowan felt particularly generous for making the overture. Saintly, almost.

"Nah, that's okay." Listlessly said. Ryo pulled a pillow into his lap and sank deeper into the corner of the couch.

He had to hide the sigh of relief. He really had worked hard to get to the place he was at. He had developed characters stats that were so amazingly kick-ass. The thought of somebody else running about and doing damage to his hard-won character was almost painful.

"You okay?"

"---- sure. Fine."

"You were ready to wail on Sai, today?"

" ----- sorry." Ryo slouched a little deeper into the cushions.

"No big deal. I wanna wail on him myself right now."

Half a smile from Ryo, but he couldn't hold it.

"So what was it this time?" Rowan asked.


"The big fight?"

Silence. Ryo stared at the TV without really seeing it. Then he shook his head. "Nothing."

"Yeah. Right." Rowan didn't believe it, but Ryo and Seiji were more private in their spats that he and Sai tended to be. Seiji never said a word. Rowan doubted Seiji even told Ryo half the things he did that annoyed him. If only Rowan were so lucky. Sai made sure everyone knew the terrible things Rowan did to piss him off.

"Wonder where he's at?" Finally Ryo could no longer stand not issuing the question.

"I don't know. How pissed was he when you guys split up?"

Ryo sniffed. "He wasn't pissed at all -- any more. He was just ---" He shook his head, snapping his mouth shut with an audible click of teeth. "He didn't say he wasn't coming home."

"Well, he did just buy a new car. A Mercedes. Maybe he's just cruising. I would be. He is a big boy, after all. He can look after himself, so you really need to stop acting like your six year old didn't come home for supper."

"Seiji doesn't cruise. And I know he can. And I'm not, so shut up."

"Yeah, whatever, man."

Which was about as in depth as the conversation got. Ryo wasn't in the mood to talk and Rowan was distracted by the game. The clocked ticked on. Sometime around midnight, Ryo deserted him. He'd been paying more attention to the time and every little noise outside the window anyway. A very upset Ryo, all in all, which made Rowan feel a little guilty for not devoting a little more energy distracting him. But it was hard feeling sorry for somebody else when your own love life had ground to a painful halt. Besides which, if Ryo refused to talk, then there was damned little he could do, thought he had to admit that it was thoughtless of Seiji not to have at least called and let them know he was going to be this late. Despite what he'd said earlier, there were things out there that had a malicious affinity for the lot of them. There were threats that popped up now and again that occasionally knocked them silly and knowing such, you didn't make your friends and comrades worry needlessly.

Seiji was being an ass and he didn't blame Ryo for climbing the walls. Well -- not now at any rate -- when it was getting into the wee hours of morning.

Somewhere between those thoughts and the soft chiming of the clock striking two, Rowan drifted off, game controllers clutched loosely in his hand. The game patiently waited for him to take up play. The light from the TV was the only illumination in the house for hours yet, until the faint hint of dawn came in through the kitchen windows and crept along the floor to tweak the shadows of the den.

What woke him up was the smell of coffee brewing. His nose wrinkled and his fingers twitched. He blinked blearily up at the TV and the still paused game. His neck hurt. He'd slept with his head canted at an awkward angle. His whole body felt rather stiff, truth be told. Sleeping on the couch was one thing, sleeping in a sprawled sitting position against the corner of it was quite another. He cursed and rubbed grit out of his eyes, drowsily saved his game and shut off the TV.

It was 6:45. Since it was coffee he smelled in the kitchen it had to be Ryo, up and about earlier than usual. Rowan didn't bother to utter good mornings, since it wasn't and he was sore and grouchy from an uncomfortable night's sleep. He ambled to the downstairs bathroom and relieved his bladder, splashed cold water on his face and looked grimly into the mirror at his haggard reflection. He looked like he'd been drinking. His eyes were slightly bloodshot and there were dark circles under them. He contemplated going upstairs and falling into his nice, soft bed and sleeping the rest of the morning away.

He wondered if Seiji had come home. Thought about going into the kitchen and asking Ryo, then the sound of tires in the gravel of the drive outside diverted his attention. He went to the door, squinting at the bright gray light of early morning and stared out at the shiny silver 500 SL that had pulled up next to the rather beat up red jeep.

Seiji emerged. Seiji came into the house with an armful of packages like he'd raided half the stores in town. He had his shades on and the look of someone who had not spent an uncomfortable night at all. His clothes were perfect as always and his hair, even windblown, managed to look as if he'd planned it just so. Fucking bastard.

Rowan glowered and stepped out of his way as he came in the front door. "Man, least you coulda done was call." He muttered.

Seiji paused, dipping his head to peer over the rim of the dark glasses at Rowan. "I didn't know I was required to call."

There was this condescending tone to his voice that made Rowan's skin crawl. Made him clench his fists and grind his teeth in agitation.

"You're required not to be a bitch, bitch." He snapped.

A dark blonde brow went up. A very cold smile formed upon Seiji's lips. A dangerous smile. The look in the eyes was just --- scary. Rowan almost took a step backwards out of reflex. He knew -- he just knew when somebody was thinking violent thoughts about him and if looks could kill -- then he would have been in deep shit.

"Oh, Ryo, help me with these, will you?"

Ryo had appeared at the entrance to the den. Was standing there with his shoulder to the wall and a rather sickly expression on his face. His tanned skin was just pale and his eyes enormous, blue orbs in his face. He looked, Rowan thought with some surprise, like a child who'd been abused and was seriously expecting more of the same.


Ryo didn't know what to feel. Or to think. Or to say. He'd gotten all of ten minutes sleep last night worrying. About Seiji not coming home. About Seiji hitting him. About Seiji doing other things to him. About those words that would not stop rattling around inside his head. Poisonous, terrible words that made his hands shake when he thought about them too hard. He ought to be mad as hell. He ought to be giving Seiji a piece of his mind. Ought to be making it perfectly clear that he couldn't get away with shit like that -- but he was afraid that if he did, Seiji would just shrug and agree and walk away. He'd had that sort of look in his eyes yesterday. That sort of lazy threat.

Ryo didn't know how to deal with coercion like that. Didn't know how to comprehend threats to things he held sacred and close to his heart. Anything else, he could sort out, could overcome, could defeat if it came down to that -- but what Seiji had said -- promised -- that had his head spinning.

Seiji piled an armful of packages in his arms and proceeded upstairs, without a word. Ryo refused to meet Rowan's curious gaze. He took a deep breath and followed in Seiji's wake.

Into Seiji's room, where surprisingly enough, Seiji's bed had not been made up from the night before last. Shocking really, that oversight. Except when it was occupied, Seiji's bed was never unmade. Seiji had dumped his bags on the bed and Ryo added his to the lot. And then stood there while Seiji went about pulling things out and examining his loot. Clothes mostly. A box with an undoubtedly expensive watch. A very pricey gold earring with a sparkling bluish gem of some sort that Seiji stuck in the generally unoccupied hole in his left ear.

"Do you like?" he held up a slate gray jacket. Ryo supposed it was some designer brand. Seiji didn't wear off the rack. Ryo shrugged, not wanting to be here -- wanting to blurt out 'why' and make Seiji answer him.

"I got something for you. Your wardrobe is appalling." He unwrapped a shirt. It might have been silk - Ryo's appreciation of fabrics was limited -- was oversized and the exact color of his eyes. He blinked at if as if Seiji were holding up a snake and suggesting he wear it.

"Here, try it on." Seiji put the shirt down on the dresser and reached for Ryo's T-shirt. Ryo shrugged out of his grasp, a little wild eyed, a little panicked. Seiji stopped in his tracks, his hands still out, and stared. The humor left his eyes. His mouth flattened to a straight, unpleasant line.

"Ryo, I went to some trouble to pick it out for you. Don't make me regret the effort or the thought behind it."

"What thought?" Ryo asked, soft voiced, a little wary. "Is this some sort of apology?"

"No. Not at all. Why would I want to apologize? Do you think I need to?"

The eyes bore into him. The threat was still there, behind those glittering blue orbs. Not hidden at all, but so plain it hurt.

"No." He shouldn't have said it. Couldn't stop himself. It made Seiji smile.

"Come here."

He did and let Seiji pull the T-shirt over his head and hold the silk shirt up for him to slip his arms into. Seiji didn't try to button it, just pulled his hair from under the collar and stood him before the mirror, looking over his shoulder at the reflection. A golden slash of flesh between the open edges of the shirt. The blue did match his eyes, but all he could really see was Seiji standing behind him, hands slipping under the edges of the shirt to caress the skin of his belly.

"Very pretty." Seiji purred into his ear. "I bought you some other things. We can try them out tonight, hummm?"


The things were frightening. Alarming, terrible toys, some of which he had never seen, some of which he could not fathom the use of. Seiji wanted to show him. Seiji didn't ask -- Seiji didn't subtly hint around that he wished to explore deviant paths in their sexplay like he usually did when these moods hit -- he forced the issue with that overwhelming power he'd always held over Ryo in the bedroom and against all his reservations, Ryo submitted.

And was sore afterwards and almost on the verge of shedding tear, the humiliation was so great. He wanted out of the room, then, afraid to show the weakness, but Seiji caught him and pinned him with a leg over his thighs and a casual arm across his chest, and propped himself over him on an elbow, staring down with lazy interest.

"Where are you going?"

"I dunno -- bathroom."

"Bathroom? You look like you're about to flee a crime?"

Ryo turned his gaze away, staring out the darkened panes of glass in the window. "I didn't --- like that, Seiji." He said softly.

A sharp nailed finger trailed across his chest, circling skin around one nipple. It hardened against his will and he bit his lip. "Really? It sounded as if you liked it."

"Well -- I didn't. I don't know why you had to use that -- thing."

That thing was large and black and had a battery that made it rumble like the engine of Kento's car. If one of the other things hadn't been inserted into his mouth he would have screamed to high heaven at the usage. If he been bound like a prize pig, he would have fled, disapproval from Seiji or not.

"Because I wanted to see you squirm." Seiji leaned down and whispered it against his lips. Seiji's tongue tried to slip between them.

A surge of irritation welled up. Ryo pushed Seiji away, eyes flashing indignantly. "Well that's just --- great. I hope you're happy, 'cause I did."

"Quite happy."

Ryo let out a hiss of breath. He shifted out from under Seiji's weight, flinging himself from the bed. Seiji let him go, and in his passion to distance himself from the bed, he hit the night table. The contents teetered. A bottle fell to the floor and rolled. Automatically he bent and snatched it up to return it to its rightful place. Mad at Seiji or not, he wouldn't put his things in disarray and not attempt to fix them. He hesitated, staring at the label. It was the pain medication that Seiji had gotten after White Blaze had raked him with his claws. Seiji had refused the stuff like it was poison when he'd first had the prescription forced on him. The bottle was on the verge of being empty now.

"What are you taking this for?" Ryo turned and before he could register the movement Seiji had surged forward and snatched the bottle from his fingers.

"None of your business. Get out, if you're so eager to go."

Ryo stood there and blinked, mind tumbling over the possible reasons that Seiji would still require heavy duty pain medications.

"Now!" The word issued forth from Seiji's lips like some cold and hard death sentence. The look in his eyes might have been the look of an executioner. Ryo took a step backwards, freaked by the expression, by the way Seiji was curling his fingers into claws.

He grabbed his shorts and fled, figuring he could retrieve the rest of his stuff tomorrow, when maybe Seiji would be a little less psychotic.



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