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Echoes Of Guilt

by P L Nunn


This tale takes place after the events of Flip of the Coin. Everyone's emotional state is a result of what happened in that story. Echo's is not dependent of Coin, but it wouldn't hurt to read Coin, just to get a better understanding of what the boys are going through.

Echoes of Guilt


"I'm sorry." Sai sobbed miserably and curled away from Rowan, clutching goosefeather pillow against him like a long lost childhood comforter. His shoulders shook, the slim line of his back was rigid with tension. The healing scars were white against the pale gold of his fading summer tan. Rowan reached out a hand towards, him, wanting to touch -- wanting to pull him close and hold him. Just hold him and let him release whatever demons still plagued him, but the thought of Sai flinching from his touch -- of pulling even further away -- was debilitating. It was as chilling as the cold hard fact of what was eating Sai up from within to begin with.

"S'okay." Rowan muttered and swung out of bed. His own bed, which he had lured and coaxed Sai into, albeit with the help of a couple of six packs, figuring there was mental healing and there was physical healing and that it was time for the latter. Only Sai couldn't go through with it. Oh, he'd been willing enough to give it a try. Sai was feeling guilty over the fact that they hadn't shared an intimacy since -- the incident.

Three weeks ago since they'd pulled him out of some psychopath's version of hell. Three weeks of Sai walking about like he'd lost part of his soul in that warehouse loft, starting at loud noises, flinching when someone happened to touch him, getting a fearful, wary look in those beautiful eyes of his when Rowan tried to get close.

Rowan pulled on a pair of sweatpants, jerking the drawstring tight in frustration, rubbing a hand along the unfulfilled ache in his loins. One look cast back at Sai, the soft brown hair that was all to be seen of the head pressed into the pillow, the graceful curve of his back, the oh so alluring slim buttocks and legs ----

---- don't look. It would just drive him crazy. Rowan ground his teeth, grabbed the last unopened beer can on the floor and stalked as softly as it was possible for one to stalk, out of the room. He managed not to slam the door. It wasn't Sai's fault. Sai was sensitive and easily bruised and what had been done to him was enough to cripple a damned resilient mentality. It wasn't Sai's fault that when Rowan tried to kiss him, his body went rigid. That when Rowan finally managed to get him out of his clothes and into bed that he was as frigid as a forty year old virgin. But it goddamned wasn't Rowan's fault either.

"Shit." Rowan hissed, and stomped down the stairs to the den where he could hear the faint sounds of a video game in progress.

Ryo, slouched deep into the couch coushins, lit only by the greenish cast of the TV screen. Tousled, slippery as silk hair fanned over the beige sofa pillows, coppery skin made the white tanktop he wore all the whiter.

Rowan stood there a moment and stared, the remnants of an unsatisfied hardon still lurking in his pants, the frustration still very prominent in his mind. There had hardly been a moment in the last three weeks that he hadn't been frustrated or worried or downright angry. Not a moment of serenity or peace that might allow him to rationalize all the things that had been going through his head. To reason away that first placement of blame over Sai's abduction. Ryo hadn't wanted to go that night. Ryo had found a half dozen things he had to do before they could leave to join the other guys. Ryo had been stupid enough to drive around without a necessity as simple as a jack in the trunk of his jeep. It was Ryo's fault that Rowan hadn't been there to keep Sai from harm.

He made a low, involuntary growling sound in his throat. Ryo looked up at the noise, fingers paused in motion over the controller.

"Oh, hey Rowan." He sounded a little sleepy. It was well into the hours of morning.

Rowan didn't say a thing. Rowan's slightly buzzed, frustrated mind was sending him down a darker path. He circled behind the couch, and Ryo only half shifted his eyes to follow the movement, still absorbed in the video game.

"You know, " Rowan said softly, bending down and snaking an arm around Ryo's shoulders, letting his other hand slide up and tangle in the long black hair. "He's still fucked up and I still say its your fucking fault."

He jerked hard on the hair, tightening his arm about Ryo's throat. Ryo let out a strangled squawk, reflexively raising a hand to pull at the arm about his neck. Rowan tightened the hold, in a position of advantage with the sofa back between them and him on his feet.

"If it wasn't for you, I'd have been there and this wouldn't have happened. You and your goddamned excuses not to go. What if I'd have listened to you and just stayed home -- he'd be dead! Sai would be dead."

"R--ro-wan." Ryo gasped past the arm trying to --- what? Strangle him?

Funny thing, the erection was back. Rowan laughed, thinking no matter how much he might despise Ryo at the moment, it didn't change the fact that his hair smelled good and that the throbbing, panicked beat of his pulse under Rowan's arm matched the tempo of his own.

He jerked Ryo's head back, staring into those wide, black fringed eyes, leaned close to whisper against Ryo's mouth. "You fucking owe me."

Leaned a little closer, almost brushing his lips against Ryo's, then deciding that he didn't want to kiss him, he just wanted to fuck him. He shifted position, brought his other hand around to lock about the wrist across Ryo's throat. A nice little move Seiji had taught them all -- blocking the blood flow quickly and efficiently to the brain. A nifty little method of subduing a body. It didn't last long though. Just long enough for him to hop over the couch back when Ryo's head lolled to the side. Long enough to flip Ryo onto his stomach and fumble with the pair of loose, too often mended jeans that he loved to lounge around the house in. Then Ryo was jerking back to awareness and almost rolling them both off the couch.

"What are you ----? Rowan stop!"

It was very clear what Rowan was doing. Rowan put a hand to the back of Ryo's neck and pressed his face into the cushions. He had a knee in the small of his back. It was hard to fight such a position. It was equally hard to get the damned jeans down far enough to give him access to what he wanted. Ryo clutched behind him with the arm that wasn't pinned beneath him, and Rowan caught the wrist, twisting the arm up behind him and using it as a lever to control the struggle.

"Stay still, Damnit." He hissed, sliding down, even as he pushed the arm up towards's Ryo's neck and heard Ryo cry out into the cushions in pain.

His brow crinkled a little at the sound, some sober, sane part of his mind wondering what the hell he was doing. He shook the sanity away, managing to get the jeans down, baring the paler skin of Ryo's rear. Ryo did have a beautiful ass. Damned work of art, that one could usually only covertly admire. He ran a hand over firm, rounded buttocks and felt Ryo go still beneath him. Frigid and tense. Like Sai.

Rowan ground his teeth, and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to drive away the image. "This is your fault." He felt tears in his eyes, blurring his vision.

"Isn't that what the Preacher told Sai?" A whisper from Ryo. A terrible, trembly gust of breath between lips that glistened with the crimson of fresh blood. He must have bitten his lip during the scuffle.

"Oh, god. Ohgodohgod." Rowan breathed and everything -- all the heat, all the furor between his legs went cold. He flung himself backwards, falling off the couch in his desperation to get away.

Ryo pulled himself up, curled against the arm of the couch, staring with huge, dark eyes at Rowan. "I'm sorry." He breathed, and the tears Rowan had felt spiking his lashes streamed down Ryo's cheeks. I'm sorry. Like Sai was sorry that the preacher had fucked him up. Like Ryo was sorry Rowan had come this close to raping him.

Rowan fled. Outside, because the house was stifling and he needed the crisp cool of the early morning air to clear his head. He needed the boundless swirl of predawn sky to make him sane again.

"Seiji?" Ryo paused in the doorway of Seiji's room, a black silhouette against a gray hall. The depths of the room were pitch black, the shades pulled against the threat of invading dawn. Seiji was an early riser, but he preferred not to be disturbed before the exact moment he chose to awaken.

He was also a light sleeper. Ryo didn't repeat the query. There was a long moments silence. Then.

"There had better be something dire in the working."

"Rowan just --- attacked me." His voice shook a little. He couldn't control it. He couldn't control the cold tremor of apprehension in his gut. Or the vague stirrings of doubt --- was Rowan right?

"Did you deserve it?"

Ryo opened his mouth, shut it and wished he hadn't come. But Seiji was calm rational to his erratic conjectures.

"I -- don't know."

Another long silence. Then. "Come here."

He knew the way to Seiji's bed. Even in the dark. Knew there would be no untoward obstacles in the floor. Seiji didn't leave things lying about.

He stood there, not knowing what to do, until there was a rustle of bed clothes and Seiji's fingers encircled his wrist, drawing him down. He sat down.

"What happened?"

"I -- don't know. No -- I do. I was playing Dino Crisis and he came in and just --- he tried to --- he wasn't himself. He's worried about Sai. I know that. Maybe it is partially my fault -- I mean it wouldn't have happened if we'd been there -- I really wanted to stay home -- I didn't know."

"Ryo!" Sharp command in Seiji's voice. Ryo snapped his mouth shut, balling his fists.

"He tried to do what?"

"Nothing. It doesn't matter."

Silence again. Then. "Do I smell blood?"

Ryo blinked, continually amazed by Seiji's hidden talents.

"I bit my lip."

The hand on his wrist moved up his arm, and with persistent, unyielding pressure drew him down so that he was lying prone on the bed. He felt, rather than saw, Seiji lean over him, and one feather soft finger ran over his lips, lingering on the slight swelling of his bottom one.

"Maybe I am to blame." Ryo whispered.

"Fool." Seiji hissed. "Get undressed."

"What?" The blatant command drew his thoughts away from self-recrimination.

"Take your clothes off." Seiji went to the trouble to enunciate each word carefully. Seiji rolled back to the far side of the bed, waiting for Ryo to comply. There was nothing to do, but either leave and piss off Seiji or grant his wish. He pulled the tanktop over his head and slithered out of his jeans and boxers. The covers were immediately held up for him and he entered the welcome warmth eagerly. He pressed against Seiji's smooth body. Seiji always slept in the nude. Seiji's long, hard arms wrapped around him, pulling him closer until they molded together.

"Seiji, what if ---"

"Shush. Rowan's a fool and you're a fool." He pressed Ryo's head into his shoulder, absently stroking his hair.

"Did he hurt you?"


"Good." Seiji's mouth covered his, tongue exploring the still seeping wound on his lower lip. It stung a little. Seiji sucked at it. His hand slipped between them, fingers encircling Ryo's penis, stroking the length languidly. Ryo moaned into Seiji's mouth, pressing his body closer, willing Seiji to more energetic stroking. Seiji complied.

Ryo ran his hands along Seiji's ribs, and over his lean buttocks, down to his groin to do him a similar service.

"No." Seiji stopped him with a sudden squeeze at the base of his erection. "Use your mouth."

He was only too willing to assent and began to kiss his way down Seiji's neck and chest, down the taught line of his belly, lingering in the crevice of his navel and finally into the crisp pubic hair. He took the hard, silky length of Seiji's erection between his lips. Savored the texture of the skin of the tip, savored the reflexive tremor that ran through Seiji's body when he ran his tongue across the slit, then down around the base of the head. He slowly slipped the length of it into his mouth, gagged a little as it went down his throat, but with an effort of will relaxed his throat muscles. Seiji loved it when he swallowed him to the hilt. His hands would sometimes curl in Ryo's hair and keep him there, face pressed against his curly blonde pubes, while he shut his eyes and just shuddered in pleasure.

He felt Seiji shudder, felt the reflexive tensing of his muscles before he came. He pulled back just a little as the briny taste filled his mouth. Seiji's taste, therefore to be relished. He swallowed and kept on caressing Seiji's half flaccid sex, until Seiji twisted forward, insisting on doing him the same service. Which was fine. Quite wonderfully fine, to lay back and let Seiji's incredible mouth work its magic upon him. He curled his fingers in Seiji's thick golden hair and for the moment forgot all about Rowan and his accusations.

Seiji's warmth pulled away from him and Ryo groaned, fingers tightening in Seiji's hair to keep him there. He hadn't finished yet, but then Seiji's hand replaced his mouth and he was shifting between Ryo's legs, and Ryo figured he'd finish it another way. He spread his legs accommodatingly, heart racing even faster, if that were possible, with the anticipation of Seiji inside of him. One never would have thought, before Seiji that such an invasion would be so -- overwhelming -- so desirable. Before Seiji there were quite a few things he would not have thought possible about himself.

Seiji's fingers spread him, intimate touch that made goose flesh rise over his body. He drew a sharp little breath that made Seiji laugh, that made him draw a finger up the sensitive skin at the base of Ryo's spine, down the crack of his buttocks.

"Jelly." Seiji said softly. And Ryo blindly reached out a hand for the bedside table, fumbling with the drawer and the tube of lubricant he knew was there. He practically tossed the thing in Seiji's direction. Seiji's hand never stopped its movement along his skin. His erection was practically bouncing on his stomach. He shut his eyes and fought for control. Then both Seiji's hands were back on him, his thumbs spreading Ryo's buttocks, one long finger slipping inside him, greasy with valsolene. He shuddered, lifting his hips, wanting more. Seiji inserted another finger, playing with him. Knowing very well what he wanted and prolonging it. Seiji had always had more control, mentally as well as physically.

"Damnit, Seiji ---" he growled.

Another soft laugh. Then Seiji complied. The fingers were gone and with a masterful thrust Seiji's sex was inside. One long, powerful thrust that filled Ryo completely. Seiji's hands gripped his knees, pushing them forward against Ryo's chest. Ryo could imagine the look of concentration on Seiji's face. The intense look in his blue eyes under the fall of hair.

A little pain, that was part and parcel with the pleasure. That made it all the more electrifying. Seiji's hard fingers biting into his flesh. His hand drifting to Ryo's erection and working it in time with his thrusts. Ryo cried out, delirious with passion. Seiji leaned forward and covered his mouth, muffling the cry with his own.

Ryo came before Seiji, spilling himself over Seiji's hand and his own chest. Seiji lasted another handful of heartbeats before he shuddered and exploded inside Ryo. Then they lay there, Seiji draped over Ryo, still sheathed in his flesh, trying to get their breathing under control.

Finally Seiji rolled off. "Damn." He whispered. "Now I've got to take a shower."

Ryo grinned in the darkness. "I love you."

He said it impulsively, because he felt so sated at the moment. Because Seiji's tendencies towards neatness were legendary. Because Seiji had managed to make him forget about his earlier self-incrimination. Because -- because he did and it never got said. Seiji never said it. Seiji avoided the subject with calculated precision. And because Seiji avoided it, Ryo never felt comfortable bringing it up.

Seiji didn't say anything. He finally rolled over and sat up. Ryo's heart did a flip and landed in the bottom of his belly. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake. What had he been thinking to disturb the established system? Just as impulsively he blurted out.

"I didn't mean that."

Another long moment's silence, then Seiji stood up, a vague dark shape in the blackness.

"Really? How comforting."

"God." Ryo drew both hands over his face and wished he were anywhere else. "You know what I mean."

"Do I? I wonder if you do, half the time."

"Seiji ----"

But Seiji was striding out of the room. Ryo swore, jumped out of bed and followed. The lights were on in the bathroom. The sound of the water splashing in the tub. In the soft light of the vanity bulb, Seiji looked all golden. Except for his eyes, which were hard and unreachable.

"I'm sorry, Damnit." Ryo said. "But it's not my fault you're so skittish around the subject."

Seiji's eyes went past him to the open door, faintly uneasy at their words drifting down the hall where others could hear. He reached past Ryo and shut it.

"There is no subject that I'm aware of."

"No ---? What am I then, just a convenient fuck? God, I get so tired of dancing around your sensibilities."

"You must, having none of your own. Ah, but how can you, when you're so busy shouldering everyone's burdens. A receptacle for unwanted guilt. And yes, you're quite convenient."

He glared. Seiji stared back. No passion. No emotion. Just icy aloofness that was unfathomable to Ryo, who burned with emotions. He could not stare Seiji down. Never could. Probably never would. He leaned his bare shoulders against the cool tile of the bathroom wall, staring down. In a dazed sort of way, he mused that this just wasn't a good night for him, recent activity excluded. First Rowan attacks him physically, then Seiji rips him apart mentally.

"Get in the shower, Ryo." Seiji told him.

"No." He responded, stubbornly. "You don't tell me what to do. I'll take one down the hall."

Seiji shrugged, as if it mattered not at all to him. Ryo pushed off the wall, ripped the door open and slammed it shut behind him. The worst part was, he did love Seiji; hopelessly, miserably and every time Seiji got aloof and distant it just hurt so damned bad.



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