Author's Note: This is Seimei's point of view of the same night as the last chapter. Please Enjoy. :-)
Four AM had begun to slip away when Seimei finally resigned himself to taking Ritsuka back to Soubi's House. A rule had been imposed from the start that each boy must be returned before sunup. Seimei had broken that rule only once (hadn't Kio looked so funny banging on his door and demanding Ritsuka back?), and, tempting though it was to repeat this so-called crime, he didn't feel it was worth the risk of Soubi retaliating in some manically infantile way. Seimei wanted to spend another night with Ritsuka in the very near future, so he had no choice but to continue playing the role of Soubi's House's best and most studious client.
Ritsuka had fallen asleep quite abruptly less than one hour ago, fatigue and acute exhaustion from their ongoing activities completely overriding his ability to adhere to another of The House's rules: no rent boy was permitted to sleep on the job.
Seimei looked down on Ritsuka and smiled maliciously. Soubi didn't have an ounce of the control over this boy that he thought he did. The fool.
Seimei gave into an urge he had been suppressing for many minutes now and tucked a strand of Ritsuka's hair behind his ear. Ritsuka barely stirred, he was so exhausted. He merely sighed a bit in his sleep.
It was cruel to wake Ritsuka at this hour, after Seimei had put him through such rigorous acrobatics during the night. Soubi's rules were arbitrary. They were beneath Seimei's attention or respect. But Soubi was the gatekeeper to Ritsuka….at least at present. Wouldn't it be nice if he weren't? Wouldn't it be ever so convenient to simply see Ritsuka when and where and however frequently Seimei desired? So long as Ritsuka was willing? Wasn't that the way things ought to be? Instead of this….this….
Seimei shook his head at himself. Soubi was the gatekeeper right now and right now was the moment Seimei needed to focus on. He had already dressed, but Ritsuka still needed to before they could leave.
"Ritsuka," Seimei whispered delicately, speaking the word into Ritsuka's ear.
Ritsuka didn't move. He was laying on his side, curled slightly in on himself. He hadn't put any of his clothes back on, but he was covered up to his shoulders with one of the bed sheets. Seimei put a hand on Ritsuka's bare shoulder and stroked his fingers along the skin.
"Ritsuka," he whispered again. "It's time to wake up. We need to get you back home now."
Ritsuka stirred, then said, in a voice crackling and hoarse with sleep, "what for? It's so warm here."
Seimei's heart broke into a thousand, tiny pieces, hearing that. He realized it was somehow just as exhilarating to think of keeping Ritsuka warm and safe as it was to think of him naked and gasping.
Damn Soubi for making him return something so precious to the hands of someone so undeserving.
Seimei could feel his mouth pulling into an expression of apologetic resignation.
"I know, Ritsuka, and if it were solely up to me, I would let you stay as long as you'd like. But the last time I kept you past sunrise, Kio had some choice words for the pair of us…." Seimei tried to sound casually flippant but he feared that his voice betrayed the sincerity of his wishes. "and I'd like to spare you from that if I can."
What Seimei didn't say, and what part of him truly feared saying, was the admission that his reason for wanting to follow Soubi's rules was less from a fear of Kio's wrath than it was from a fear of never seeing Ritsuka again.
"Come on," he said, not unkindly, but much more urgently. He felt his resolve slowly crumbling as the seconds ticked by. Ritsuka looked simply perfect in his bed. In his bed. And what a horrible, terrible thought it was because it conjured up horrible, terrible images of Ritsuka in other, varying beds throughout this whole wicked city. It made Seimei feel sick.
Ritsuka complied on Seimei's second attempt. Eyes closed, he sat up and attempted to work the panties with the temptingly plump strawberry decal back up his thighs. He managed that much, but the shirt seemed to be more of a challenge. He kept attempting to force his head through the sleeve until Seimei straightened it out and pulled it down for him.
"Mmph," Ritsuka murmured, more sleepy than disgruntled. His face appeared from the edge of the collar, hair mussed and eyelids drooping, and Seimei couldn't help but smile kindly. He hoped Ritsuka would be too sleep-drunk to remember the tenderness of the expression.
"Would you like help with the….?" Seimei asked, letting his voice trail off. He held up Ritsuka's tiny shorts.
Ritsuka nodded without bothering to open his eyes. He held up one leg, and Seimei admired the smoothness of his skin….the definition of his calf…the suggestive length of his thigh.
He swallowed hard and slipped the opening of the faux lace shorts onto Ritsuka's leg and up, then followed suit when Ritsuka raised the other. Seimei hadn't known until that moment that dressing someone could be as sensual as undressing them, but Ritsuka's skin, his scent, the shape of him…
It was too close to sunrise to go another round. More important, though, Seimei would be no better than a savage to sap any more energy from the boy.
Trying to distract himself, he located the knee-high socks Ritsuka had come equipped with and covered up the tantalizing bareness of his legs. Then came the boots. Ritsuka's head had dipped forward, and he was breathing deep and audibly by the time Seimei had zipped them up.
He pulled Ritsuka by the wrists to a standing position and hitched the little shorts up the rest of the way, onto his narrow hips. He hadn't come with a jacket tonight, so Seimei found a deep red sweater of his own from his closet and pulled that over Ritsuka's excuse for a shirt. He was so small the garment hung off one shoulder, leaving it bare and vulnerable.
Leaning forward, Seimei nuzzled him there, breathing in the fragrant skin. He was sure all the boys must use the same soap, the same hair products. But Ritsuka had a scent all his own. It made Seimei want to devour him slowly.
Ritsuka's arms went around his neck, drawing him closer. He nuzzled his face in the junction between Seimei's throat and shoulder, and Seimei froze. He stole a few more minutes stroking Ritsuka's hair and breathing him in, promising himself he'd make the time to go back for Ritsuka much sooner than two or three Tuesdays from now, which is when he'd usually be up for another stop at Soubi's House.
He slid an arm around Ritsuka's back and another beneath his knees to lift him bridal-style from the bed. Ritsuka kept his face buried in Seimei's shoulder, his warm breath indicative of his continued sleep as Seimei moved from the room to the foyer where he had dropped his keys on a table when they'd first come in.
Seimei bent at the knees, using the arm under Ritsuka's knees to pick up his keys. Then he carefully turned out the lights and closed the door behind them.
One passing tenant gave Seimei an odd look as he walked down the hallway with Ritsuka in his arms, but Seimei didn't care. So what if it was unusual to see a grown man carrying an adolescent male bridal-style? What business was it of the passer-by? And if the hold Seimei had on Ritsuka looked romantic in nature, so be it. They had been doing things romantic in nature just hours before.
It wasn't an easy feat to get Ritsuka into the Rolls without waking him fully, but somehow Seimei managed it. He was leaning across Ritsuka's lap to fasten his seatbelt for him, halfway in the car and halfway outside of it, when Ritsuka stirred.
"Seimei?" Ritsuka asked drowsily. His voice was soft and breathy and he drew out Seimei's name with a lingering sort of longing.
"Yes?" asked Seimei hesitantly, turning his head toward Ritsuka to see his face. Seimei's lips were mere inches from Ritsuka's own.
Ritsuka blinked open his eyes, and their gazes locked. And Seimei felt it, for half a moment only, but it was undeniable. The way his heart stuttered… the push against his chest, like ice stealing his breath, but so much warmer.
Silently, he brought up a hand and brushed Ritsuka's cheek with the back of his hand, marveling at the unexpected thudding of his pulse.
"I…." Ritsuka murmured, and his eyelids drooped once more. The poor thing was fading in out of consciousness. He was so tired.
Seimei clicked the buckle of his seatbelt into place as softly as he could. Half of him felt guilty about the clearly taxing activities he had put Ritsuka through that evening, but the other half of him took a proud satisfaction in it. Ritsuka had enjoyed it, at least on a purely physical level. Seimei was sure of it. He drew back and shut Ritsuka's door, being careful not to shut it on any of Ritsuka's fingers or toes.
The night was cool and quiet as Seimei made his way to the driver's side. There was no one else in the parking garage, and no sound could be heard. A familiar but unnamed melody played inside his mind as he slid into the leather seat.
The instant his seatbelt had been fastened, Ritsuka leaned his slight frame against Seimei's side, encircling Seimei's arm and hugging it to his chest. His dark lashes closed against his cheeks; Seimei could see them from this angle, like two delicate fans.
Seimei hesitated yet again, casting the penthouse window another fleeting, longing glance, weighing the options. Finally he let out a long, slow breath and put the Rolls Royce into gear.
There weren't any more boys lined up along The Street when Seimei's car emerged out of the darkness. Dawn would break within the next half hour or so, and the only movement besides a grey alley cat cleaning his face was Kano's sharp, bright eyes watching from the shadows of The House's awning. He waited patiently for the Rolls to come to a smooth stop before starting forward. His stride was characteristic of someone taking a sunny stroll down a meadow path, but his stony face betrayed his calm.
Seimei put the car into park and waited for him. It was obvious Kano had words.
Seimei didn't dislike Kano. It didn't sound like much, but coming from Seimei, it was a compliment. Although he had never picked favorites before, Kano was easy-going company. He didn't boast, he didn't pry, and if he had any annoying habits, they never carried over into his job.
Yes, he and Seimei had always rubbed along as well as a client and a rent-boy could be expected to. There was no personal attachment, but the formality with which they spoke to one another was neither callous nor stilted. It was smooth business.
Tonight, though, there was a hardness in Kano's face that Seimei felt mirrored in his own. Seimei wasn't stupid—he knew that look. He knew it and usually he pitied whoever wore it. It was territorial, watchful, almost feral. Seimei had known for a while, by Kano's body language, that the boy had feelings for Ritsuka.
He pressed the button for the window, letting in the cool breeze on the passenger side of the car, and Kano leaned forward, his slender hands touching his knees.
"Well," he said coolly. "How'd everything go?"
Seimei cleared his throat. He glanced shortly at Kano, then turned his eyes to the road ahead of him and kept them there.
"Satisfactorily," he said. "No complaints."
Which, Seimei thought to himself, was the understatement of the century. But Kano didn't need to know that.
"And?" Kano asked. He evidently didn't think Seimei's answer was descriptive enough. Seimei suspected that he was waiting for news on a very particular subject. A subject that Seimei was unprepared and unwilling to address.
"And Ritsuka is exhausted," Seimei said. He gave Kano a small smirk, which gave context, and therefore meaning, to his words.
Kano exhaled sharply through his nose, leveling a thoroughly unimpressed look in Seimei's direction. "That I can see. But you know that's not what I mean."
Seimei sighed. It was very late, and Ritsuka was not only tired party. "What do you mean, Kano?" he asked.
Kano's eyes narrowed. He spoke in a frustrated, harsh whisper. "Does he know?"
Kano was like a dog with a bone. This subject was none of his business, and though Seimei had made the mistake of revealing one of his cards on the night that he had picked up Kano instead of Ritsuka, he had no intention of showing him his entire hand.
Polite but firm dismissal, then.
"What he knows or doesn't know is between me and him."
Kano's eyes narrowed further, and he immediately opened his mouth to speak, undoubtedly to protest. But Seimei spoke again before he got the chance.
"Kano. I know you are endeavoring to help. And I do appreciate that. I'm quite sure that no one else in the House would ever do so. But please….now is not the time."
Seimei didn't want to reveal anything, it was true, but a second glance at Kano was enough to silence him. Kano's face changed, from tight concern to curiousness. The ridged line of his shoulders relaxed. Seimei looked away again.
"Okay," Kano finally said, after a long pause. All of his bristled nerves seemed to have smoothed down again. He opened the passenger door and began pulling Ritsuka toward himself. "I'll just be having this back then."
Seimei gave a single nod, trying not to dwell too deeply on how cold his arm felt without Ritsuka clinging onto it. Kano heaved Ritsuka up from under his arms and kicked the car door closed with his foot.
"We'll be seeing you then?"
And Seimei knew that even if Kano didn't understand, he understood enough to stand down. The cordial finesse between them returned, like an obstructed river cleared away.
Ritsuka was blinking in vague confusion, seeming to realize only now that he was back at the House. His eyes found Seimei's. There was a concern in them…almost a worry. Did Ritsuka fear Seimei returning? Did he fear that Seimei would not be back? Did he want Seimei to be back? Soon?
Brave, Seimei told himself sternly. Be brave.
He held Ritsuka's gaze, hoping that he was conveying the certainty he felt.
"Yes…most definitely," he said.
-BC3 & MM