Overall Mature, this chapter PG-13 for adult concepts & language.Pairing:
Kimimaro, Haku, and a Mystery GuestWord Count:
This section: ~3900Warnings/Notes:
D/s relationship references, set in Monoshizukanohi AU, languageSpoilers:
It’s been a year since Haku left Zabuza, saving his life but making him ache for what he’s lost. Kimimaro’s doing his best to help his friend, but at a great toll to himself. When Neji tells Kimimaro a VIP at Break wants a night of his time, hope bubbles up like a forgotten friend. But can the Mystery Lover really accept both Kimimaro and Haku and all the baggage that comes with them?
When Kaguya Kimimaro’s cell phone vibrated quietly in the pocket of his jeans, he immediately blushed and looked down at the stone floor. Hyuuga Neji – Master Neji to Kimi – didn’t pause in his speech, however, and Kimi silently thanked God.
“Which brings us to the next item on the agenda,” Neji said in his low, sleepy voice. “VIP status changes.”
Kimi’s phone buzzed again, and he bit his lip, clutching at the phone’s outline in his pocket as though willing it to stop humiliating him. He would never – ever – be so disrespectful as to leave his phone on during Club Break’s monthly staff meeting, but he made a promise…
“What are we givin’ them now?” Naruto asked, arms crossed and one foot tapping the floor, exasperation clear in his voice. “And could you please remind me why the hell there are other VIPs aside from the four of us?” Naruto gestured with a quick, lazy twirl of his hand to himself, Hatake Kakashi, who leaned against a wall near a large window; Asashi Tenzou, who sat in a chair to Kimimaro’s left; and finally at Neji, himself. The other staff in the room – two professional subs, the head of security, and assorted hosts and hostesses – remained quiet in their chairs placed around the nicely-appointed office.
“And that is our first point of discussion, Naruto” Neji said, and Kimi felt gray eyes on him as his phone vibrated yet again. He gritted his teeth and eased the phone out far enough to see who called, sinking feeling in his gut.Haku.
“Kimimaro,” Neji said, voice surprisingly gentle but still making Kimi cringe and want to melt into the floor. “You are excused to answer your phone.”
Immediately Kimi stood up, head still down. “Thank you, Master Neji,” Kimi said to his shoes before pivoting on his heel and marching out of the office of Bliss – the above-ground cathedral dance club that covered the below-ground BDSM club, Break. Kimimaro worked at Break and sometimes as a dancer at Bliss as necessity and schedule required or permitted. A contortionist and piercing artist, Kimi was known for his solo stage shows that defied the laws of human anatomy and physics, and he performed said shows wearing nothing but black velvet strips artfully woven over skin and through metal.
It paid the bills and kept Kimi in his preferred subculture. Or at least…as close to it as Kimi could allow himself.
Leaning against the stone hallway with his back to the office door, Kimimaro answered his phone. “Haku?”
“I’m sorry,” Haku said, and Kimi shut his eyes. Hearing Haku’s heartfelt apology erased any irritation Kimi felt toward the boy, as did understanding that Haku apologized for calling, for depending on Kimi, for what he perceived as an uncontrollable weakness, and everything in between.
“What happened?” Kimi asked quietly, knowing it was useless to tell Haku not to be sorry.
“The dream…” Haku whispered.
Kimimaro easily conjured an image of Haku, small and fragile, sitting up in his wide bed, hugging bent knees. The sheets on Haku’s four-poster, metal-framed bed were blue silk – all bought by his last Master – and the room was painted a garish maroon. Haku had stolen and taken to sleeping in Kimimaro’s old t-shirts, and Kimi’s mind completed the picture by painting the boyish man as dressed in Kimi’s old “Baka” shirt.
“The one where he comes back or the one where he leaves?” Kimimaro asked.
“Comes back,” Haku replied, and Kimi had to close his eyes when he heard a sob that wasn’t quite muffled. A fresh wave of utter exhaustion made Kimimaro’s knees feel weak, and he leaned harder against the stone. Its chill seeped through the cotton of Kimi’s shirt, and for a moment he let Haku pretend like he wasn’t crying and Kimi pretended he didn’t hear it while he tried to pull himself together. He wanted nothing more in the world than for Haku to be happy – would do anything for his tender friend who needed so much in life just to function. And, over the last year, Kimimaro had done things that he never thought he would do for someone else. Because Haku needed it and him…
…and because Kimimaro knew a thing or thirty about need.
Thankfully, Kimimaro also knew about how to recover when one’s needs led to sinister places that tried to capture and shred souls.
“Haku. Can you say it for me?” Kimimaro kept his voice gentle as he reminded the despairing man of psychology trickery that a shrink once used to help Kimi. The concept was simple: words had power and words spoken to a caring witness had even more weight. Kimimaro knew that this was why Haku called: to repeat facts Haku knew to be true despite the encroaching darkness so he could try to find inner calm.
“I need to,” Haku sniffed and sighed.
“I think you do, too. Can you start with his name?”
“That’s the hardest part,” Haku said, and from anyone else it would have sounded plaintive or whiny. But from Haku’s lips, the words were merely a reflection of broken pieces of self.
“I know,” Kimi said kindly.
After a short silence, Haku whispered, “…Zabuza.”
“Good, Haku…very good.” Kimi swallowed after the praise, the words still not coming naturally even after all this time. “Keep going.”
“Zabuza…” The name was a little more forceful this time, and Kimi felt a surge of pride. “Zabuza hurt me in ways I did not want, condone, permit, or agree to for either of our sakes.”
“Don’t rush,” Kimi cautioned. “Hear what you mean.”
“Yes, Mas-” Haku stopped, made a quiet noise. “Sorry.”
“Keep going,” Kimimaro said softly, one hand coming up to rub at his temple.
Haku took a deep breath. “He hurt me. And I ended it. I got away.”
“Now the important part,” Kimi said after a moment of silence.
“And…and…” Haku floundered.
“And I don’t want…” Kimi said slowly.
“I don’t want him to come back. Because he will not change, because I would let him hurt me again, and I know that next time I might not escape with my life. And there are people who care about me who would not like it if something happened to me...”
“Yes. There are people who care,” Kimimaro said. “Who don’t want anything bad to happen to you. Ever.”
Now Haku didn’t bother trying to hide his sob, and Kimimaro sank to the stone floor, body curled in on itself. He hated that he couldn’t do anything with or for Haku’s pain: couldn’t fix it or ease it or make it go away. It made him feel like he failed someone he agreed to serve – even if the roles were actually reversed in this particular relationship – and that was…just…Kimimaro didn’t fail those he served. Ever.
And what was worse than the failure was that Kimimaro understood Haku: understood him even more than people deeply involved as slaves in the Lifestyle. Kimimaro got what it was like to want nothing more than to be kept – truly kept. To live for someone else, to obey without question, to trust and love and hunger for only one other soul.
Unfortunately, Kimimaro also knew how damaging it was when a relationship like that went wrong. Once upon a nightmare, Kimimaro had been the one who barely made it out of such an arrangement alive. Unlike Haku, however, Kimi had the resources for things like long-term therapy to cope with the backlash, the rage, and other issues Kimimaro found he still had from a rather brutal childhood. And it was a pleasant surprise to Kimi when he found that despite it all he had some sort of internal strength that allowed him to stand alone. Even if he didn’t really like it…even if it meant…not being truly happy ever again.
Kimimaro was okay without happiness when he had his job, his handful of friends, and people like Master Neji and Master Kakashi who looked out for him. He understood things such as acceptable outlets, reasonable limits, and safety nets. For Kimi, performing at Break and playing publicly in the club with various Masters allowed him a piece of what he craved to feed his thirst. And because he did it under the watchful eye of the owners – who accepted Kimimaro despite him being damaged and often misunderstood goods – he could feed his need safely.
Haku...would never be happy by himself. Zabuza found him young – insanely, illegally, terribly young – and groomed him to be the perfect pet for Zabuza, alone. When the monster got involved in nefarious dealings with and for Monoshizukanohi’s underground, Haku went along and became collateral damage. Not even Kimi knew the full story, but he knew Haku was taken and held against his will more than once. And it was probably only because Haku was used to the kind of pain Zabuza liked to physically inflict that Haku survived.
The boy went back to Zabuza not once but twice…but when Haku learned his Master was using him as a bargaining chip with the kind of men usually only found in the dark plots of true crime novels – learned that Zabuza was trying to leverage a pretty toy to earn the favor of a man named Aizen - Haku’s faint sense of self-preservation finally woke up from its twelve year slumber.
Knowing he couldn’t confront Zabuza alone, Haku chose to use the Annual Poker Tournament at Club Break as his stage to renounce his position and Zabuza’s claim. Kimimaro now knew that the only reason Zabuza had ever been allowed through the doors at Break for special events – as he was smart enough to never apply for full membership in fear of Kakashi’s scrutiny – was so the owners could keep tabs on him. Haku knew Zabuza wouldn’t turn down an invite, and at the time, subs could be used as bids. Haku waited until Zabuza tried to go all-in on a hand against Neji before slowly rising to his feet and gracefully moving to the middle of the dim club.
“I will no longer be your bid, your prize, your token, or your bargaining chip, Zabuza. I am no longer yours to give away and you are no longer my Master.”
The reaction was…predictable. Everyone sat in stunned silence for a moment, staring with mouths agape. The divorce of sub from master was so complete and sudden that no one knew what in the world to make of it. Zabuza was not well liked, but no one knew much of anything about Haku because Zabuza didn’t allow Haku to speak to anyone.
Haku’s words and defiant stance rendered the room silent and watchful until Zabuza started to scream in defiance, drew a hidden weapon, and security seemed to flow from the very stonework surrounding the club to subdue him.
Kimimaro remembered all too well the awe he felt as he stood staring at Haku, wearing a gorgeous floor-length leather-and-silk dress, a blank expression, and no collar for the first time in twelve long years. Kimi marveled at the strength it took to make such a renouncement in public – as he didn’t understand or know what was really happening behind the scenes – and then Haku shocked the hell out of Kimimaro when he turned, ran to Kimi, and threw his arms around the taller man, sobbing.
“Please…please don’t leave me alone,” Haku whispered into Kimi’s bare chest, and Kimi held the distraught man on impulse and instinct. He remembered the watchful eyes of both Neji and Kakashi; could recall feeling like he did something wrong but knowing he couldn’t do anything else. Not with Haku clinging to him and not when he knew exactly how much it killed in Haku to break from his long-time master. Kimi knew because parts of him were still buried in warm graves from doing the same damned thing years ago.
Since that moment, Kimimaro and Haku had been nearly inseparable. Haku chose Kimimaro to trust because he was a sub and in no danger of trying to own Haku. Kimimaro learned that Haku was beyond merely intelligent and well into scary genius territory – there was a lot of that in Kimimaro’s circle, it seemed – and Haku watched, analyzed, and sized Kimimaro up as he stood in chains on the sidelines at Break.
“I know you understand me,” Haku explained one night. “And I know I can tell you anything and you won’t use it against me or think me worse than I already think of myself.” Kimimaro still remembered the large, dark eyes looking solemnly at him. “You make me feel safe…there’s ferocity in you where there is none in me.”
Kimimaro acknowledged that for what it was worth to Haku, and he hated that for all his supposed ferocity or determination or ability to manage on his own, he could do very little for Haku. He couldn’t give the man who had nearly no formal education or any practical world skills a job that paid a damn. He couldn’t loan Haku enough money to maintain his lifestyle – even after Haku downsized considerably. He couldn’t be Haku’s owner, wasn’t comfortable providing the physical things Haku needed, and trying to cope with the emotional backlash exhausted Kimimaro to the point he’d nearly fallen off stage a few times at Break.
But he did it…because there was no one else and because Haku chose to trust him. Kimimaro took pride in his loyalty and duty to a cause: he was an excellent employee, a superb sub, and would happily die for someone he loved.And oh how I wish I could love him…the way he needs to be loved.
Haku’s tears finally subsided, and Kimimaro heard shaky breathing on the line. Behind him, the door to the office opened. Kimimaro quickly scrambled to his feet, spine straightening as he leaned against the wall. It wouldn’t do to show weakness in front of his employers; his troubles needn’t concern his Masters.
“…think those parameters for attaining VIP status will serve the club much better,” Tenzou said as he and Kakashi walked out of the office just ahead of Naruto.
Naruto snorted. “Well, thank God we’re making it a little fuckin’ hard,” the blond said.
“Now, now…sharing is an important lesson in life,” Kakashi drawled as the trio walked past Kimimaro. Naruto glanced at him and nodded once even as his voice remained reproachful.
“Fuck sharing,” Naruto said with a playful grin. “I want it all
Tenzou chuckled. “Good thing, I suppose. To be with Sasuke…”
Naruto laughed, loud and deep, and Kakashi shook his head as he pressed the button that opened Bliss’ massive front doors. Naruto started talking again as they left, but the specifics were lost on Kimimaro, who breathed a small sigh of relief and refocused on Haku.
“Are they gone?” Haku asked, voice dull.
“I’m sorry I’m such a burden.”
“Don’t,” Haku said. “I know what I am.” He sighed and Kimimaro heard static noises as Haku shifted, possibly wiping his face.
“Do you think…do you think it was possible the Inuzuka used me?” Haku asked.
“No,” Kimimaro said immediately. “He told you if you helped him, he would talk to his people about finding someone for you. I believe Master Kiba will keep his word.”
When Haku told Kimimaro a few weeks ago that Master Kiba was going to speak to his associates about Haku’s plight as payment for a favor Haku provided, Kimi felt so relieved that the next time he saw Master Kiba at the club, he fell to his knees and inexplicably kissed Kiba’s boot in utter thanks. Kimimaro couldn’t impose his burden upon any of the owners or upon anyone who might be able to help Haku: it wasn’t his place. Kimimaro knew the situation was growing that desperate, and he knew if Haku asked Kimi to intervene on his behalf, Kimi would do so as a last resort. The thought kept him up at night, and when Master Kiba appeared like a godsend, Kimi felt hope for the first time in a very long while.
Kimi knew, however, that the search would be hard. A bleak thought, that, and Kimi tried to stand firmly on his line of faith when dealing with Haku. Finding someone who wanted to keep a slave – even one as desirable and skilled as Haku – didn’t happen quickly, and Master Kiba was good…but he was not infallible. Despite what the Inuzuka might say on the matter.
“I trust your faith in him,” Haku said. “Thank you, Kimi…for everything…I’m…”
“You’re welcome,” Kimi said, cutting the other man off. “You want to stay with me tonight?”
“Yes, please,” Haku said, soft voice child-like.
“You’re not working today, right?” Kimi asked. Haku didn’t drive, nor did he own a car, and sometimes Kimi chauffeured Haku around so he didn’t have to take the bus everywhere.
“Not today, no,” Haku confirmed.
“I should be home by six or so.”
“That sounds lovely,” Haku sighed.
Kimi licked his lips. “Better, now?”
“Trying to be.”
Kimimaro nodded. “Okay…tonight…”
“Yes. Tonight. Good-bye.”
Hanging up, Kimimaro rubbed his thumb over the screen of the older phone – an Envy; Kimi liked the irony – and pushed off the wall. He thought about dinner, about a movie to take Haku’s mind off life, and Kimi turned only to freeze.
The Hyuuga stood framed by the arched doorway that led into the office. His arms were crossed, his long, brown hair flowing and loose, his gray slacks and black shirt exquisitely tailored, and his expression unreadable. The shirt was open at the throat to reveal a chain with an ornate, oval locket hanging from it. Kimimaro knew the locket held a curl of light brown hair, though he’d never seen it, himself. Rumors and stories of the Hyuuga’s claim on Nara Shikamaru were now legendary in their ability to inspire hope for all doms and subs alike: that it was possible to find both love and kink in the same set of arms.
“Kimimaro,” Neji droned. “May I have a moment of your time?” Neji smiled what Kimimaro thought of as Master Neji’s, “autopilot smile” for the bodyguards and small group of employees that left the office, heading toward the front door. It faded immediately once they were out of line-of-sight, and Kimimaro gulped when the gray eyes returned to stare at him.
Dread and fear slipped up Kimimaro’s spine and slithered into his gut. “Of course,” he said quickly, eyes canting to the side so as not to meet Neji’s.
“Thank you. In the office, please.” Neji stepped to the left and gestured with a graceful sweep of his arm. Kimimaro got his feet working and walked carefully back into the office. In all his years working at Bliss and Break, Neji had never – ever – needed a moment of Kimimaro’s time in private. His initial interview was conducted by all the owners of the clubs. And after he was hired, Neji often spoke to Kimi about hours or shows or music, but never in the office. It was always on the floor before the clubs opened. Or Neji would contact Kimi by phone to tell him of visiting VIP members or seek him out while Kimi worked when Neji knew a particular guest would enjoy Kimi’s services.
But Master Neji had never invited Kimimaro into the office, shut the door, and then walked slowly behind the desk to sit with a thoughtful and pained expression marring his delicate features.Oh, God…
Pride and swift self-recrimination surged through Kimimaro’s bloodstream. Obviously, he had displeased Master Neji. And considering the man had hired Kimimaro despite his questionable record, perceived emotional instability, and previous associations with Haze, Kimimaro found such a failure on his part utterly unacceptable. Master Neji and the other three owners of the clubs were Kimi’s saving grace. They accepted Kimimaro and his need for immersion – as Kimimaro knew he never really left
the Scene, despite the walls he put between himself and pieces of it – and he served the men happily.
And usually quite well…or so Kimimaro thought.
Hoping his slight was just the cell phone interruption – though that was bad enough – Kimimaro swallowed nerves and stood rigid, awaiting instruction.~*~A/N:
Fiction set in Monoshizukanohi, with minor cross-over elements to the Bleach story line in my AU. Sidebar links to the Points of Interest and FAQ explain about the clubs, the owners, and other details not necessarily outlined in this story (and not necessary to enjoy the story, but some might be curious). Fiction written in response to various comments on Request Line and over on Y!Gal. Story ties in to latest chapter of Rhythm & Bruise
and also to Breaking the Rules
. Not necessary to read either to get the gist of this story, however. Thank you for reading, look for updates soon!!!