Overall Mature, this chapter PG-13 for adult concepts & language.Pairing:
Kimimaro, Haku, and a Mystery GuestWord Count:
This section: ~2900Warnings/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?
“Take a seat,” Neji said politely as he leaned forward to rest clasped hands on the desk.
After a deep bow and a politely murmured assent, Kimimaro moved and gracefully sat in the chair across from the Hyuuga, eyes respectfully down. He studied the ends of his long, pink-and-white hair that caught the stage light so well and bit his tongue to stop himself from apologizing. He gripped his thighs to resist the temptation to slide to the floor onto his knees or doing something else in a show of abject regret. He wasn’t sure of his slight, just yet, and it didn’t do to speak or act without direction.
Neji sighed. Kimi flinched.
“Look at me, Kimi,” Neji commanded, though his tone was gentle.
Not quite meeting Master Neji’s gaze, Kimimaro obeyed and found himself the object of a look composed of what Kimimaro hoped was only sympathy and not pity.
“I’m not upset with you, Kimimaro.”
Kimi’s shoulders eased down a notch or two, and he had to resist going to the floor in gratitude. Master Neji wanted him in the chair, and in the chair he would stay.
“I need to discuss a few things with you.” Neji seemed to consider. “May I ask after your young charge? I assume it was him on the phone earlier.”
Kimimaro winced but recovered quickly. “Thank you for your patience, Master Neji, and for your kindness in asking after my friend, Haku, who fares well.”
“Does he?” Neji asked, voice still kind but obviously disbelieving.
“I…yes…he…” Kimi felt caught between having to be truthful and not wanting to burden this imposing man, and everything felt suddenly too large and heavy and impossible.
With a soft noise, Neji rose and came around the desk, and Kimimaro nearly had a heart attack when Neji gracefully knelt on one knee in front of the chair and clasped both of Kimimaro’s wrists with a firm, cool touch.
“Let me be frank with you, Kimimaro, as I know your personal code sometimes impedes your ability to be completely honest with me.”
Kimi just stared at the beautiful man and tried not to think about how his hands felt so very, very nice.
Gray eyes the color of thunderclouds gazed into startled pools of icy blue. “I know exactly what you’ve been trying to manage with Haku for these long months, and I admire and respect you for doing it. You walk a delicate line between friend and master, and such a balancing act would be difficult for anyone.” Neji’s voice deepened. “For someone whom I know struggles with a role that does not fit and who also longs for similar things as our sweet Haku, what you do every day must be difficult beyond even my imagination.”
Swallowing, Kimimaro couldn’t find words and his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth. He knew, of course, that Master Neji – and probably the other owners – was aware of what Kimimaro did in his life. Kakashi kept tabs on everybody, after all, and there were very few secrets among such a closely-knit group of people.
However, hearing Neji’s praise and understanding made Kimi feel like invisible wounds opened up all over his body, slowly seeping pain and frustration carefully held and hidden.
“Master Neji, I…” Kimimaro shook his head, and Neji rumbled a soft noise that made Kimi tremble.
“He just had a birthday, did he not?” Neji asked, small smile playing across his thin lips. Kimimaro stared at the mobile mouth as he answered.
“Yes, Master Neji. He’s 22, now.”
Neji nodded once, expression encouraging and sympathetic. “And I understand Haku is now in an apartment?”
“Yes,” Kimimaro agreed at once. “It’s in the same complex as my own, because I thought it’d do well to be close to him. We managed to get a few of his things from the estate before Zabuza was released from custody.” Kimimaro bit his tongue on saying any more. Neji squeezed his wrists, and Kimimaro wanted to melt into the chair. It’d been ages since someone other than Haku had just casually touched him in a situation that didn’t involve an audience or bondage, and…it was…distracting.
“Very good of you, Kimi,” Neji said. “And the boy has a part-time job, yes?”
Kimimaro nodded. “As a receptionist. Though we worry…”
Neji arched a thin eyebrow. “About?”
“Haku prefers to appear as a woman, Master Neji, and we worry that such subterfuge will be discovered by his employers.”
“A reasonable concern,” Neji said idly. “And he seeks other employment?”
“My information tells me that his finances are not terribly stable.”
Kimimaro flushed, embarrassed to be speaking of such things with someone like the Hyuuga. “He is doing everything he can, Master Neji. I assure you.”
“Then I have no doubts,” Neji replied and Kimimaro’s breathing sped up as one of Neji’s thumbs began to circle on his skin. It shouldn’t be so simple to affect him, and wonder and arousal flickered low in Kimimaro’s gut.
“And he still seeks a new master, correct?” Neji asked.
“As much as he is…able to search, yes,” Kimimaro replied, distracted.
Neji hummed, a pleased sound, and Kimi felt a little panic flutter around his heart. He was a professional, goddammit…and Master Neji was…well. No one would argue the man’s presence, charisma, or skill, but…
Kimimaro told himself to get a grip, and his fingers tightened on the fabric of the chair. Unfortunately, that just made Master Neji’s thumbs dig deeper into Kimimaro’s skin, and Kimi had to work to control his breathing.
“His search has been brought to my attention,” Neji intoned. “And we are working on finding a suitable…solution.”
“You are?” Kimimaro asked before he could think about it.
Neji smiled. “We
“Oh,” Kimimaro said, falling back in the chair in relief and momentarily forgetting everything but fervent gratitude. “Oh
With a rumbling chuckle, Neji squeezed Kimi’s wrists one more time and got to his feet, walking back around the desk to sit. Kimimaro quickly sat upright in a small scramble for balance and poise. Usually it wasn’t so difficult to maintain decorum, but…I must be tired.
“Thank you for confirming what I know of Haku,” Neji said, calmly. “It helps me immensely. Now.” Neji sat back to pull open a drawer and remove a black folder that he placed on the desk. “If you will permit me to discuss the real reason for this meeting?”
Kimimaro frowned. “Of…of course, Master Neji. At your leisure.”
“And I trust I may speak plainly to you, Kimimaro? As we’ve known one another for some time.”
Sweat prickled, hot and cold, over Kimimaro’s body and he nodded once, not quite trusting his voice. A hundred things flashed through his mind: stage shows – were they good enough? His hours, his pay…were they enough and justified? Had he displeased a member in some way? Done something wrong at some point? Panic gripped him again and he didn’t know what would be worse: losing his job or disappointing Master Neji.
He could, after all, find a new job…
Kimimaro stopped breathing, and Neji’s face marred with a tiny frown.
“Kimimaro,” Neji said, and the tone made Kimimaro’s spine grow somehow straighter. “What did I tell you upon your arrival?”
The entire conversation played in reverse in Kimi’s mind, and he landed unerringly on the first thing Master Neji said. “You asked me to take a seat and look at you.”
“And after that?” Neji asked with obvious patience.
“You said you were not upset with me.” The words wrapped around Kimimaro and comforted him again, and Neji nodded.
“Very good, Kimi. You’ve done nothing wrong. Your services to myself, the owners, the members of Break, and the clubs are outstanding. You please us all very much, Kimimaro, and that is why you are here.”
“At your pleasure, Master Neji,” Kimimaro said on autopilot. He felt a nasty twist of pride, hope, and confusion. If Master Neji wasn’t upset with his performance, then Kimimaro was here for another reason. It wasn’t time to reevaluate salaries so far as Kimi knew, so perhaps it was something else? Kimimaro’s mind whirled and thought about work, life, Haku, responsibility, and making people happy all at the same time. It made his head ache and wish for the simpler times when he had only himself to keep in line. Truly, that was often hard enough.
“We – the owners and I – care about you, Kimi.”
“You what?” Kimimaro flustered and fidgeted in the chair, eyes closing as he sighed. “I’m sorry, Master Neji. I’m not myself today.” He shook his head, trying to focus. “I believe I’m in need of rest.”
“I believe you’re in need of a lot of things,” Neji said tenderly. “Taking care of another person in any difficult capacity is one of the most stressful things in life, if you believe the studies on such things.”
Kimimaro nodded politely, thinking about ownership and feeling desire sink into dark depths to dream where Kimimaro wouldn’t have to feel the longing too keenly.
“I’ve seen you deteriorate over the last year, Kimimaro. Not enough that I’m truly concerned,” Neji added quickly. “But enough to make me think on ways I might be able to assist.”
“Assist, Master Neji?”
Nodding, Neji tapped long fingers on the black folder in front of him. “A short while ago, a request came to me from one of our VIPs for a night of your time.”
If Neji on one knee in front of Kimimaro didn’t cause a heart attack, the idea of being so wanted by a member certainly tried.
Working at Break had advantages and disadvantages: one got to play publicly, interact with fascinating people who often occupied the upper echelons of society, and Kimimaro enjoyed performing.
However, people rarely wanted Kimimaro to themselves for a variety of reasons. Talking to the other subs, Kimi learned that some people thought professionals were a little too good at acting, and, thus, not genuine. Some thought of the professionals as tainted goods, despite sometimes wanting to play with them on the floor. Others didn’t really think of the professionals as people with needs but rather saw them as vocal décor, and Kimimaro had no interest in playing with such individuals. Thankfully, the last group’s mentality was much more one associated with Haze rather than with Break.
All those reasons seemed sound enough but, being practical, Kimimaro assumed the reason such requests for his private time didn’t happen very often had more to do with his age - at 31, he was several years older than many of the pretty toys at Break – or with his appearance, which was not the standard by which beauty was set. Combine all that with Break’s standards for private play with one of its own employees, and the issues compounded.
There was, after all, only so much one could do to monitor private play between members – though cameras, contracts, and security were watching, monitored, and patrolling. But negotiating a night with an asset of Break was a long process that involved Master Kakashi.
And…Kimi admitted to himself, he was just…used to not being necessarily wanted. Needed, perhaps, but…
Kimi shook himself. “Oh?” he finally managed to say.
Nodding, Neji continued, “Yes – quite the request it was, too. I was impressed with the detailing and candor, but I set it aside as the particular VIP was not entirely known to me. Since then, however, I’ve seen him in action, spoken to him in private, and I can say with confidence that the owners approve of him. On all levels.”
Kimi’s eyes widened. “I…I see?”
Neji’s lips spread into a smile. “I know how…complicated things are in your life right now, Kimimaro, and without giving the VIP any details, I explained I had concerns for you.”
Today…was turning out to be quite the day for revelation. Kimi felt warm all over and wrapped his arms around his chest.
“He…” Neji paused to consider his words, eyes rolling and face falling into an expression Kimimaro had trouble identifying: satisfaction and delight and…something else. “Was happy to discuss anything I mentioned. And he did it again with Kakashi.” Neji chuckled. “And when we stalled for a little time to think, he raised the stakes.”
“How so?” Kimimaro asked.
“He offered to donate a rather generous sum to either the clubs or to an institution of my choice if I would agree to merely show you the suggested contract.” Neji arched a perfectly-shaped eyebrow. “Not guarantee it, mind you. Just show it.”
Kimimaro momentarily forgot to breathe. Nerves licked at his insides: what in the hell did this man see in Kimi that he wanted so damned badly?
And what in God’s name would Kimi have to do to satisfy him?
Images of old, painful days at Haze pierced Kimimaro like ice picks, and he had to firmly shove all that away. He was safe, here. Perhaps he once trusted the owners and operators of Haze, but he knew better now. Safe…safe...here I am…safe…
“I turned down his kind offer of monetary incentive,” Neji mused, startling Kimi out of his worry. “Though…his point was certainly made.”
“Point?” Kimi reiterated.
Neji waved a hand dismissively. “The important thing is that I approve. And since I happen to believe you could do with some personal attention wherein you fulfill a roll you enjoy, I called you here to show you his proposal.”
With a flick of finger and wrist, Neji skimmed the black folder across the desk to Kimi, who caught it, shocked by the folder’s weight and thickness.
This…was not a standard contract.
“You will take it home with you to read and review so you may decide but there is one key stipulation I wish to highlight before you do so,” Neji said.
“Of course,” Kimimaro said agreeably, looking up and not quite meeting Neji’s eyes.
“All the details of what the man wants to do are included, of course, as are other documents of note. But his first and foremost request is that he remain anonymous until such a time during the Scene that he wishes to reveal himself.”
Kimimaro shifted in his chair, skin suddenly feeling too tight. “Anonymous,” Kimi repeated.
Neji made an agreeable noise. “The other factors are not…” Neji tilted his head slightly. “Entirely standard, but I think you’ll find them interesting. According to my records nothing he wants is against your personal limits.” Neji smiled, slowly – a cat with cream. “But there are a few things he wishes to do that I believe you’ve not experienced personally.”
Eyes going wider, Kimimaro managed not to grab the folder and tear it open in his haste to find out what in the world the man wanted that Kimi hadn’t done. There were precious few things Kimimaro could think of that it could be…and all of them made his breath catch and his heart race. He squirmed beneath Master Neji’s gaze.
“I…But…I…” Kimimaro stammered. “Why me, Master Neji?”
“Why not you, Kimimaro?” Neji returned.
Feeling heat in his cheeks, Kimi didn’t answer, not quite sure how to explain himself and not wanting to appear weak in some way.
“Kimi?” Neji asked in that
“I do not want to be…somehow pitied, Master Neji.” Kimi’s frown was fierce and his gaze down at the desk. “You said you were considering ways to help me, and…it seems quite coincidental that this request come now…for me. When so few have. And…”
“Ah,” Neji said immediately. “Kaguya Kimimaro, meet my eyes.”
His full name making him start, Kimi met Neji’s gaze made of fathomless calm. “You have my word that the man who requested you did so because he wants you
. There is no favor to me or to anyone else. He operates on no ulterior motive. I believe he liked the metalworks very much,” Neji smiled, this one kinder and more genuine. “And your eyes.”
Blushing furiously, Kimimaro nodded. “Thank you,” he said, finally.
“You are more than welcome,” Neji said. “I hope you consider the contract and take it. Now.” Neji stood and Kimimaro immediately followed suit.
“If you’ll excuse me, I have another appointment.”
“Of course, Master Neji,” Kimimaro said with a slight bow. “Thank you for your time and concerns.”
“You are part of our family here, Kimi,” Neji said. “And I take care of people under my wing.”
Kimimaro didn’t know how to say how grateful he was for such care or that it made him feel like an insignificant spec standing next to a cold-burning sun. So instead he merely bowed lower, backed away three steps toward the door, and then stood. “Have a pleasant evening,” he said to the floor.
Neji hummed, sitting back down, already engrossed in something else. Kimimaro turned, left the office, quietly shut the door, and walked out of Bliss and toward his Toyota, stunned.
It wasn’t until Kimimaro was down the mountain and well on his way home that he paused to think about what Haku would make of all this.
New nerves settling in his gut, Kimi drove with the black folder lying in his passenger seat.~*~