Actions

Work Header

The Distance Of Love

Work Text:

Juri had expected a maid or someone else working there to greet him, but never had he imagined that Kyomoto Masaki himself would open the door for him.

It was already his third part time job, but with two younger siblings still in primary school, a mum who tried her best to be a good mother and also get some money together, and a father whose whereabouts were unknown for years already, they were still barely scraping by. Juri had promised that as soon as he was done with school, he'd support them as best as he could, and for now part time jobs were the easiest and fastest way to get money. He thought he could juggle three jobs for some time before he could maybe get a better job, even though he knew that it would be tough without a university degree.

Kyomoto Masaki, the famous actor who was living close by their neighborhood, was known to be a friendly person. He greeted Juri with a smile, telling him to come inside. The villa of the Kyomoto family was huge and visible from a few streets away. They had of course top-notch security and it wasn't easy to see more than the car coming and leaving.

To Juri's surprise, there were no other workers in the house and Masaki explained that they didn't want to leave all the work to maids or also drivers. Usually he and his wife drove by themselves and also cooked a lot when they had time, but recently their work schedule had been quite busy so they had decided to at least hire a housekeeper. Through some miracle Juri had gotten that job, on probation of course.

“So I guess that's all I can give you on explanations right now. If you have any other questions, you can call me or you can also ask my son when he is home.”

Juri had completely forgotten about the Kyomoto family having a son. When Masaki had shown him through the house, there had been one room he hadn't said anything about, so Juri assumed it was Taiga's room. Juri remembered the name from some newspapers, even though he hadn't seen the boy until now. If he remembered correctly, he should be the same age as him, but he had never seen him in school nor on his way to another school. But because Taiga wasn't in the same business as his parents, he was obviously trying to not get into the eye of the public too much.

“Do you think you'll be okay on your own for now?”

“Yes, definitely. I will let you know in case I have any questions. Rest assured that I won't cause any trouble.” Juri bowed slightly to the other one and Masaki nodded with a faint smile.

“For your age, you are already pretty mature. I am sure I made a good choice in choosing you for this job.”

When he left Juri bowed towards him once more before he took another look around the spacious house. It wasn't exactly dirty, just a bit too much to handle when you were out the whole day.

Not wanting to disappoint the family, he started cleaning up right away. He had to be at his conbini part-time shift at eight in the evening so he has enough time to clean anything, but for his first day he wanted to make sure to do a good job. After two hours of cleaning the first floor, he finally took a break. He was told that he was allowed to use the kitchen and living room, and even get himself food from the fridge if he wanted, but for today he had brought his own bento so he sat down on the couch.

Juri’s look fell on the stairs to the second floor and he wondered why Taiga's room was the only one he wasn't supposed to clean. On the other hand, he was also supposed to keep his own room clean, so maybe Taiga’s parents wanted him to take the responsibility for that himself.

***

“Damn it,” Juri hissed, cursing after taking a look at his watch. He was late and that on his second day only. His other part time job had suddenly called him in late in the evening, and that left him without sleep for way too long. With three part-time jobs, it was getting harder to handle the schedule, even though he tried to at least keep the two evenings free before the he had to go to the Kyomoto house. Unfortunately, his other part-time job wasn’t actually something he could refuse when he got called in. He had taken a nap at home after he had changed clothes and then he had realized in shock that he had overslept.

Usually he was meant to arrive when Masaki left the house, but that had been already an hour ago. In a panic, he called the man, but luckily he wasn’t angry.

“My wife is still at home, so I will tell her to wait for you.”

Juri thanked him and apologized for about a dozen times more before he dashed out his house and towards the villa. His mum had brought his siblings to school, so no one had been there to remind him of the time and he didn’t want them to. He was an adult already, he should take that responsibility himself.

When he came closer to the villa, he saw Taiga’s mother in the front of the house, chatting with a boy around the same age as him. He had short black hair and he seemed to live around the area as he was carrying bags from the conbini close by.

When the boy left, Juri approached her and luckily she didn’t seem angry at him either. She handed him a spare key and said that in case he wouldn’t make it in time again, he could just use it. That was an even bigger responsibility to carry, but Juri thanked her and entered the house as she left.

Somehow the house seemed exactly as clean as a few days ago when he had arrived, so this time he had even less to do. With a lot more spare time he even took a look in the garden to see if there was anything he could do there to help out.

Unfortunately, even an hour later he hadn’t found some other work to do and after cleaning the bathroom on the second floor, he walked down the corridor with a sigh. How come a family who can clean even needed a housekeeper? Well, maybe once a month would be helpful, but two times a week was making it hard for Juri to even find anything to do.

His steps got automatically slower as he reached Taiga’s room and he turned to his door with a curious look. Then he shook his head immediately. It wasn’t like anyone had forbidden him to enter, no one had told him anything about his room that was all. But would he want a stranger to enter his room? Definitely not.

But a look wouldn’t hurt anyone, right? After all if the room was really a mess he could maybe convince them to be allowed to clean the room. Maybe he just needed to ask Taiga himself?

With slightly shaking fingers, he took the door handle in his hand and pushed it down, but to his surprise the knob didn’t budge.

“Who locks his room in his own house?” Juri asked in confusion.

“I do, and it’s exactly because of people like you.”

With wide eyes Juri turned to the staircase where a boy his age was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed to his chest and a look that could actually be called threatening. Juri didn’t know how Taiga looked like, but it was clear that the blond boy with half of his hair up in a ponytail was the son of the Kyomoto family, especially because he looked a lot like his father.

“I am sorry, I didn’t meant to spy around.”

“Liar, you just tried to get into my room.”

Well, that was the truth after all and Juri didn’t know what else to say, so with a guilty look he stepped back from the door as Taiga walked up to him.

The boy took out a key and unlocked his door before he looked up at Juri with a warning glance.

“This is my first and last warning. Stay away from my room!”

Juri bowed slightly towards Taiga and apologized once more, but the boy didn’t even pay him any further attention as he vanished inside his room. Then the sound of the door being locked was heard, and Juri knit his brows in confusion over the boy’s weird attitude. With him locking himself in his room like this, it was no miracle that he was able to hide from all those reporters and their cameras which were usually chasing after his father. But the question was, why did he?

***

“Okay, no problem. I’ll be done here in about an hour so I can come in early,” Juri said before hanging up. It was luckily just an earlier shift at the conbini this time, but it meant he wouldn’t get a break between his jobs.

He was done with his housekeeping duties anyway and he just needed to bring all the garbage out.

When he was heading towards the door, he heard another door opening upstairs and soon Taiga came into his line of sight as Taiga walked down. When he was home he usually wore wide t-shirts and sweatpants. The shirt he was wearing now was white with a black barcode on it. It was completely different from the clothes he pictured Taiga in when he came to work in the morning. Usually Taiga was already home when Juri started with his shift, but sometimes he caught Taiga when he came back in the morning. Taiga didn’t even greet him, just vanished into his room. He was usually wearing a black hat, boots with a tight jeans and simple shirts with a few wristbands and some necklaces. Now his hair wasn’t tied back into a ponytail and his hair was already so long that it should actually annoy him as it fell into his eyes, but he didn’t even seem to care. As he also didn’t care for Juri as he went past and headed to the open kitchen corner next to the spacious living room.

“Good morning,” Juri said anyways, on which Taiga turned towards him with an annoyed look.

“It’s afternoon you idiot.”

“Not for you as it seems,” Juri let out with a careful smile, but Taiga didn’t seem to be the type who jokes around.

“A smartass, aren’t you? How about you do your job and get lost instead of annoying me?”

Juri just raised an eyebrow on that, but Taiga had already turned away from him to get some food out of the fridge.

Juri just shook his head and brought the trash outside and put away all the stuff he had used for cleaning.

“I am done. Sorry for interrupting,” Juri said as he took his bag and wanted to leave. Instead of a reply, he heard Taiga snapping his fingers and Juri looked over to the boy who had just gotten up from the bar-like table in front of the kitchen corner.

“Clean this up first.”

Taiga had left two bowls on the table and also some wrapping and that even though the sink and also the trash bin were right next to him.

“Can’t you put it back yourself?” In no way had he meant it in an offensive way; it had been just intended as a normal question, but obviously not for Taiga. The boy stopped abruptly and looked up at Juri as if he had insulted him to the point of no return.

“Say that again?”

“I just mean, my shift is over and I have to be at another part time job. It’s just two plates and a bit of trash.”

Instead of approaching Juri, Taiga moved back to the table and took one of the plates, moving it through his long fingers with an interrogating look.

“You know, my mum buys pretty expensive plates. Everything in this house is kind of expensive.”

Juri had been aware of that since the first day he had come, so he always tried to be careful with everything, which made his eyes grew wide in shock when Taiga stretched out his arm holding the plate and let it drop to the ground without a warning. It shattered into several pieces and Juri couldn’t even move to clean it up, because he was still too confused about what had just happened.

“Whups...now you’ve to apologize to my mother for shattering one of our expensive dishes.”

“What, but you-”

Juri shut up when Taiga’s eyes threw daggers at him for even daring to speak up. With slow steps he moved next to the broken plate and crouched down. Carefully he lifted a bigger piece up and stepped in front of Juri.

“If you ever dare to tell me what to do,” Taiga said before he brought the piece down on his own underarm and opened a cut on which Juri gasped. “I will make sure to find a reason which won’t just make you get fired, is that clear?”

All Juri could do was nod and then there was a self-satisfied smile on Taiga’s lips before he tossed the piece to the ground and moved back upstairs.

***

For once Juri had managed to arrive earlier than he had to and he walked slowly up to the villa when he heard someone cursing behind him. Turning around he saw the boy from before who had talked to Taiga’s mum and he was picking up some things which had just scattered all over the street as his plastic bag had ripped. Juri hurried back to help him picking everything up.

“Here,” Juri said as he handed him a drink which had rolled over to him.

“Thank you, sorry for the trouble.”

“Don’t mention it. Are you a friend of the Kyomoto family?”

The question had the boy look up at him with a kind of sceptic expression and Juri bit his lip in apology.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I am Juri, I am their housekeeper.”

He stretched out his hand and hoped the other boy wouldn’t feel offended by his sudden question and luckily he smiled and shook his hand.

“Nice to meet you Juri. I am Hokuto, I live close by, so yes I know them for a long time already.”

“Do you know Taiga as well?”

He could have imagined the shadow passing over Hokuto’s face, because the latter’s expression changed back to a neutral one immediately as he nodded. “Yes, we went to the same school, at least for some time…”

Juri tilted his head on that statement, but before he could ask what he meant Hokuto looked over Juri’s shoulder and this time his look turned extremely gloomy.

When Juri followed his look he saw Taiga walking down the street towards the house, but he was on his phone and didn’t even realize their presence as he opened the gate.

“Anyways, it was nice meeting you Juri. Maybe we’ll see each other around again.”

Juri waved at the other one as he hurried away from the house and somehow he had a weird feeling about the way Hokuto had behaved, but once more this was something he shouldn’t interfere with like he shouldn’t interfere with any of Taiga’s private matters and remembering his threatening look from last time a shiver went down his spine. How far would Taiga go to get rid of someone he didn’t like? And why didn’t he like Juri in the first place, it wasn’t like he had done something bad.

Nevertheless he had to somehow try and at least not end up in trouble with him for now or he’d definitely get fired in no time and another shift at a conbini or more hours at the one part-time he’d actually like to quit wasn’t his favorite choice.

The workday passed quite fast, but this time Juri wasn’t in a hurry and as expected Taiga got up when he was about to leave.

First he just kept staring at the boy as he made his way to the kitchen as usual, but somehow he seemed even more tired than the other days.

“Shall I leave or do you want me to wait until you are done?”

Somehow Juri always chose the wrong words, because once more Taiga turned towards him with a hateful look. But this time he seemed for once too exhausted to start an argument. But that didn’t stop him from approaching Juri with threatening steps and just the fact that he was holding a plate in his hand made Juri fear for the worst. It came different though when Taiga held it out towards him.

“How about you make yourself useful then instead of just waiting?”

There was no need to ask, because Taiga moved over to the couch and lay down, switching on the TV. So it meant as much as if you want to clean after me you can make me food in the first place.

Juri held back a snappy comment, because he knew it would backfire. Trying to not look too annoyed he prepared some food and kept looking up at Taiga from time to time. The boy moved his legs up and down as if he tried to find a good position, but didn’t seem comfortable no matter how he lay on the couch.

Juri had to search quite a while through the fridge and the spacious kitchen to find everything he was looking for and finally he put everything on a trail and walked towards the living room behind the bar table.

“You want to eat here or…”

Juri stopped speaking as he realized that Taiga had fallen asleep and he shook his head with a kind of disbelieving expression. “Are you kidding me?” He whispered as he put the trail on the living room table.

So was he supposed to wait until he woke up? Or just leave? Waking him up was an option as well, but no matter what he chose he knew already that Taiga would scold him.

He chose a childish option instead, but it was indeed a safer choice. Turning up the volume of the TV would make him wake up by himself at some point after all. Carefully Juri got closer to him and tried to snatch away the remote control from Taiga without waking him up.

When he had already pulled it out his hand Taiga let out a groan and moved his arm up, pulling his own shirt up a bit with that move. Juri kept staring at his lower stomach on that move and that with a shocked expression.

There were several bruises visible and they were fresh. Was that why it had been so hard for him to find a comfortable position? Were there more?

When Taiga moved again Juri backed off almost panicked as if he had seen something forbidden. Maybe he had?

But then he calmed down again, because why should he even care? Taiga had made clear that he should leave him alone and there was no way the boy would even care even if he worried.

Lost in his thoughts Juri grabbed his own wrist, playing with the faint bruise which was still visible on it. No, they weren’t in the same situation and it also didn’t matter, because Taiga had enough possibilities to get help, while Juri needed to deal with his problems alone for the sake of his family.

***

“Are you playing babysitter now?”

“You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to,” Juri said as Taiga stood in front of him with crossed arms and an annoyed look as Juri had put some food on the counter even before he had woken up. “I just thought, because it’s your regular time to wake up I could prepare something, because I had some time.”

Instead of replying anything Taiga just sat down and Juri couldn’t hide a small smile as he started eating.

“I’ll be back in a minute, just bringing out the trash.”

“You are talking too much. It’s not like I’d care what you are doing.”

“Right,” Juri said with a weird feeling of disappointment as he went outside. When he opened the trash container outside he realized that there was another trash bag inside already, but what caught his eye was what he could see through the transparent plastic. There were bandages and plasters and he could see blood on some as well and then there were condom wrappings too and it didn’t take a genius to realize that Taiga had thrown his trash out by himself to make sure no one would actually see it. What he hadn’t thought of was that there could be a delay with picking up the trash like today so that Juri saw what he shouldn’t have seen.

He spent more time outside the house as he needed to, but now his thoughts were racing and as much as he told himself to not get involved in anything he couldn’t stop worrying. He had seen the bruises, but this was even worse. Was he even allowed to ask or should he just pretend he hadn’t seen anything?

With a weird feeling in his stomach he made his way back into the house and Taiga was still sitting at the kitchen corner, but he seemed to have finished eating so in silence Juri started cleaning up.

Never before had he hoped for Taiga to just ignore him like he usually did and vanish back into his room, but somehow he wouldn’t do him that favor today.

When Juri wanted to take the last plate in front of Taiga the boy suddenly snapped his fingers and Juri flinched, maybe more than he should, but Taiga didn’t seem to have noticed or he was maybe even satisfied by that reaction and Juri got ready for another stupid and mocking comment.

“What’s that?”

Juri had to look up to see what he was pointing at, but when he found him pointing directly at his face Juri tilted his head in confusion.

“What is what?”

“Are you always playing that dumb or are you not even noticing when you are hurt?”

Right, getting reminded of it Juri lifted his hand to his own cheekbone where he found a light bruise, but it wasn’t that bad and because Taiga hadn’t said anything earlier he had hoped he wouldn’t have even noticed. On the other hand even if he had noticed why would he care, but he had indeed just asked, didn’t he?

“Hey, don’t space out. I asked you something,” Taiga said in a slightly annoyed voice on which Juri lowered his hand again and looked to the ground.

“Don’t tell me you are the type to get into fights? Didn’t think of you as the Yankee type.” The chuckle Taiga let out was his typical mocking tone and Juri didn’t feel at all like explaining himself, Taiga wouldn’t care anyway. “Are you at least winning your fights?”

“It was not a fight,” Juri whispered as he turned away to put the plate in the sink and luckily Taiga didn’t seem interested in deepening the conversation.

“Anyway, thanks for the food.”

The second he thought he needed to react turned out to be maybe a whole minute, because he heard Taiga’s room door closing before he had even turned around. Had he just thanked him? How could he show two completely different faces in like two seconds? And why was Juri so stupid and hadn’t reacted, because now he had had the chance to get on maybe slightly better terms with him and he had...spaced out. But well the fact that Taiga hadn’t jumped at him for not reacting meant that he hadn’t exactly waited for any reply this time, but Juri had to make sure to be more careful from now on, because he definitely preferred Taiga in this tame mood. But who knew how easily he could miscalculate his next move and maybe knowing about something Taiga tried to keep a secret wasn’t helping so much staying on positive terms.

***

“He had a private teacher for some years and recently he tries out some jobs here and there, because he said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to attend university or not. But because he didn’t want to cause me any trouble he said he wanted to take night shifts instead so that not too many people would get to know where he worked.”

That was Taiga’s father’s explanation after Juri had dared to come up with some stupid excuse to ask more about Taiga and luckily the man was way too nice to even think about any bad intentions Juri could have.

“But he went to a private school, right? I heard from Hokuto that they were classmates.”

“Oh yes he did. Hokuto was one of his best friends at that time, he is such a nice boy! He still greets us when he sees us and it was really a shame that Taiga decided to focus more on his studies at home, but he was tired of all the people always talking about his family. And who wouldn’t right?” Masaki let out a chuckle and Juri formed a brief smile, pretending to believe Taiga’s reasons for quitting school and shutting himself away from society. He wondered if his parents also believed him or if they were just good in pretending? But Taiga seemed to be pretty convincing if he wanted to, so maybe they really didn’t worry for him?

“Anything else you want to ask?”

Too many questions indeed, but he shook his head immediately. “Sorry for bothering you with private questions.”

The man didn’t mind of course and he left the house after their conversation and Juri wondered once more why he was even bothering with other people’s business. Didn’t he have enough trouble himself to take care of?

The next moment his phone vibrated and with a sigh he realized who it was. He was getting in too deep already, but there was no way he could just turn back now. It would backfire immediately, so he took another deep breath before answering the phone.

***

“Don’t be late again, I warn you!”

Juri bowed towards the person in the suit in front of him and he didn’t dare to stand straight before he was back in the bar.

A bar which seemed like all the other bars around their entertainment district in town. They had pachinko halls, bars and clubs, like every other town. And his life would be so much easier if it was as it seemed.

For once though it had been a calm night and Juri took off his black jacket as he walked down the street. He would never get used to this suit and if he could he’d throw it away together with everything connected to this job, unfortunately he couldn’t.

With a sigh he realized that the main road out of the district was blocked by a police car and a lot of people shouting. Nothing uncommon around here and Juri knew that walking out the district to the other direction would add about 30 minutes more to his way home, but he wasn’t in the mood to end up in trouble, so he turned around and started walking.

The street he had to use to get to the other main street was one he didn’t like at all. Most of the places here were hostess or host clubs and people would never leave him alone here, so he hadn’t even used this street for months already.

People kept stumbling in his way and Juri rolled his eyes for the felt fourth time when someone bumped into him and he tried to make sure not to get into trouble. When he heard some people shouting as they came out of one of the biggest host clubs they had in the district Juri stopped and stepped a bit to the side to not get seen. Usually their quarrels would stop after a moment anyway or the police would show up at some point.

He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but one man had pulled a girl out of the club and was shouting at her while another one looked back to the entrance and shouted at someone he couldn’t see.

Their behavior was so ridiculous and Juri always wondered why people would even want to work at such a club? It always connected to problems, not that his job wouldn’t, but he hadn’t known that at first.

When the girl started screaming Juri jolted and he feared that the situation would definitely escalate every moment now, but then the person which hadn’t been in sight stepped out of the club, approaching the man shouting at the girl. First the man turned towards him with a threatening expression, but when a bundle of money was shown to him he immediately fell silent. Like a trained dog reacting to a whistle he fell silent and obedient. The power of money!

But that wasn’t of any importance to Juri. The only thing he cared for was the boy with his typical skinny jeans, high boots and his half up ponytail. With a satisfied smile he sent the troublemakers away and he didn’t even care for the money he had to use to do so.

Another worker next to him seemed grateful and bowed towards him on which Taiga said something towards him and clapped him on the shoulder. Juri hated that look of the boy. That self-satisfied look of having power over other people.

As soon as the uproar had started it was over and Taiga vanished back into the club and the street fell silent once more. So it was the second secret he had discovered already and there was no doubt that they were connected, but did he want to find out more? More trouble was definitely not what he needed and Taiga seemed to be perfectly able to handle himself.

***

“Oh shit-”

At the last moment Juri caught the expensive looking glass figure on the shelf in the living room. Carefully he put it back in place and decided to take an early break.

Once more he had been left without sleep after an urgent night shift at his bar, not to forget that he had to work more at the conbini through one coworker suddenly quitting.

The problem was that Taiga was home and Juri didn’t want to sleep on the couch at that time, even though Masaki had said it was okay for his break time.

Recently the days when Taiga came back later got more and the time he came back was already getting later than usual, but on those days Taiga seemed unapproachable so Juri didn't even dare to ask any questions.

In the afternoon he put the trash out, happy about not having too much work left.

“No food today?”

Juri jolted as Taiga stood next to the entrance door when he came back in.

“Oh sorry, I- had no time today to prepare something. You want me to make something, I can do it now if you are okay with waiting a bit?”

Juri already moved over to the kitchen corner, cursing himself in silence for forgetting. Not that he had to make food for the boy, but it had turned into a habit and slowly Taiga had also tried to have some small talk with him.

“Let me help you,” Taiga offered to his surprise, but he didn’t stop the boy as he got some plates and cups out.

“You want to make more than usually?” Juri asked as Taiga put more stuff on the table than he normally used.

“I thought you might want something as well?”

Juri blinked at him in confusion for a moment, trying to figure out if the boy made fun of him or not. When he couldn’t find any mocking expression on the boy’s face he slowly nodded.

“Great, then don’t just stand there.”

Taiga handed him some salad from the fridge and Juri prepared it for both of them with a faint smile while he watched how Taiga got some juice out for them.

It felt a bit weird to sit together at the table for the first minutes. Especially because Juri didn’t dare to start any topic, fearing to anger the boy with any wrong word.

“So why did you decide to do this job in the first place?”

Juri was still eating while Taiga had already finished, so he needed a moment to reply, but Taiga just sat back with his juice and waited.

“Well, I was looking for another part time job close by.”

“Right, you said you do another one, right?”

“Actually two.”

“Two? Why aren’t you working somewhere full time then if you need so many part-time jobs?”

Juri pushed his plate to the side, finding it a bit rude to keep eating while Taiga seemed in talking mood for once in a while.

“I am looking for a full time job at the moment, but until I find something good I need to earn money like this.”

“So no university plans?”

“No, not really.”

“Why not?”

Juri bit his lip on that question, finding Taiga’s questions a bit too direct, especially after they had barely talked until now anyway.

“Aren’t you working instead of going to university as well?”

“I don’t need to go to university after all I have enough money. So I can freely work what I want to.”

“And without that money you can’t even freely study even if you wanted to,” Juri said in a gloomy mood.

“Mh, that’s why you are working so much. So your family is poor?”

It was a topic Juri didn’t like to speak about and especially not with someone as rich as Taiga.

“We are doing okay, I am working after all,” Juri said in a hurry before he took his plates and started cleaning up, trying to avoid the conversation.

“But you can’t keep going like this forever, you know that, right?”

"That’s why I am looking for a full time job,” Juri replied a bit snappier than he had planned. Luckily Taiga didn’t seem to have noticed.

“And then you plan on working your whole life for the sake of your family?”

Juri grabbed the next plate with more force than needed and he felt how he got slightly irritated by Taiga’s way of portraying his life choices. For a moment he couldn’t see clearly and almost let the plate drop before he took a deep breath and returned to the table.

“I don’t see what’s bad about that?” Juri replied calmer this time as he took Taiga’s plates from the table as well.

“Don’t you want to have some fun for yourself? Living a bit more freely?”

And how was he supposed to do that was what Juri wanted to ask him and he turned back to him after putting the last plate into the sink. But somehow instead of him turning everything else started turning around him without a warning and then he saw Taiga’s eyes growing wide and he heard him shouting something as he jumped up, but Juri didn’t even realize what was going on and just when Taiga had reached him everything went black out of a sudden.


***

When Juri woke up a slight headache was bothering him and when a bright light in the room was the first thing he saw when opening his eyes he closed them once more with a groan.

“Finally awake?”

On the sound of Taiga’s voice Juri forced his eyes open again and found the boy sitting on the other side of the room. At a desk he didn’t know. In a room he didn’t know and slowly realizing where he was he sat up so abruptly that everything started spinning once more.

“Come on are you really that stupid or do you like collapsing that much?” Taiga scolded him as he got up from his desk chair and picked up a bottle from the nightstand, handing it to Juri. “Here drink something for now. If you need any painkillers or other medications let me know we have enough in the bathroom.”

“Thank you,” Juri said as he drank some water, but somehow his body was complaining about it more than accepting it.

Carefully he scanned the room he was in after putting the bottle back. The bed he was sitting on was spacious with white sheets, while the desk was a light brown color with a black desk chair, nothing more than a laptop on it. The cupboard was closed, but the only other things in the room were a nightstand and a shelf with closed drawers and a trashcan under the desk which also had a lid, so he couldn’t see what was inside. The room was perfectly clean, almost scary neatly organized.


“Is this your room?”

“Where else should it be? You think we hid another room from you?”

Juri didn’t react to Taiga’s teasing, but kept looking through the room. Even though it was clean it gave him weird vibes. Somehow it seemed like a hospital room, way too cold and lonely. Well, in that matter it fitted Taiga’s behavior pretty well.

"So how was that about working so much for the sake of someone else?”

Juri looked to the ground with an apologizing expression, but he hadn’t even realized how exhausted he was through the last days. “It is just this week. There had been more shifts than usually that’s all.”

“I hope so, because I won’t make it a habit to carry you up to my room.”

Right, his room was on the second floor, which made him wonder why he didn’t just drop him off on the couch, but then his question was answered immediately when he heard a knock on the door.

“You two need anything?”

“All good mum, thank you,” Taiga replied.

His shift had been almost over when he had collapsed so Taiga’s parents had come home just a bit after it. The question was just if Taiga had thought of the possibility of them firing him in case he overworked himself through this job or if he just didn’t want to bother explaining what had happened.

“If you feel okay then you can leave at any time, you can also rest a bit longer I don’t mind,” Taiga said before he opened his computer and turned away from him. “But I warn you just because I told my mum that you are in my room doesn’t mean we are friends now and no you are not allowed in here from now on either.”

And as soon as he had warmed up to him, he had gone on distance again, but why was Juri even surprised? Which didn’t change the fact that he was grateful for the boy’s help this time and he should definitely find a chance to pay him back.

***

Always on Thursdays and irregularly it switched to another day of the week. Juri had realized it a while ago already that Taiga usually came back home later on the same day, but recently he seemed even more unapproachable than before on those days and Juri had enough of his behavior. On the other days the boy had opened up to him even more, they were even able to sit together on the couch, laughing about some stupid TV program.

Also the fact that Taiga was extremely careful with his trash recently made Juri worry even more and so he soon found himself on the other side of the street of Taiga’s host club on an early Thursday morning.

He had no clue when the boy’s shifts usually ended, but for now he could do nothing else but wait. Luckily after an hour of waiting Taiga finally left the building and usually he would be home before Juri’s shift started if he headed right back now, but as expected that wasn’t the case on this Thursday either.

Taiga headed towards the complete opposite direction for some time and Juri tried his best to not be seen as he followed him towards an area which he hadn’t visited until now.

Next to one of the bigger buildings on the street he suddenly stopped and Juri needed a moment to realize that a person was leaning on the wall next to him. There was no greeting, no talking. The man just looked at Taiga before he entered the building on which Taiga followed him, but Juri didn’t miss the sudden hesitation. The man was maybe in his late twenties and his clothes were similar to Taiga's just a bit flashier. Juri couldn't say if it was just the host like image which made him think the man looked familiar, but for now he couldn't actually concentrate on it.


When they were both out of sight Juri dared to get closer to the building and as he had expected already it was a love hotel. Until this point it wasn’t even that surprising to him, after all the job as a host sometimes ended with private meetings exactly at places like this, no matter if it was a woman or a man, but something about the whole situation seemed off to Juri so he decided to just wait until they were leaving again, no matter how much time it would take. He finally needed answers.

It wasn’t until it was already bright daylight outside and the morning rush hour had already started until the man left, but alone.

It took good another half an hour for Taiga to finally show up and Juri’s stomach turned in all the painful ways on the picture in front of him.

How could he look so beaten, so hurt? He always showed Juri such a strong and tough side. His arrogance making it almost impossible to see behind that facade, but just almost impossible and Juri didn’t know how to handle the situation. All he wanted to do was cross the street and...and then what? A big part told him to take the other one by the collar and shout at him what the heck he was doing and why he let someone screw around with him in a way that it would usually be a case for the police already, but another part told him something completely different which made him halt.

All the time Taiga tried to keep him somehow on distance and even though they were able to have some small talk and laughs here and there, it didn’t seem like Taiga allowed anyone emotional close to him and exactly that reason made Juri feel like he didn’t need to get scolded, he indeed needed help, no matter if he wanted to admit it or not. When did he start caring for the other one enough to feel like pulling him away from this place? To just hold him and tell him that it would be alright, no matter in what kind of mess he had ended up in?

Maybe his own situation made him think about something as impossible as this, because how could someone like him rescue anyone if he couldn’t even take care of his own problems?

With a broken expression he looked after Taiga who tried to pretend as if everything was alright. Like he always pretended when he came home when Juri was there and definitely also in front of his parents. For now Juri let him leave, too confused and shocked to decide what to do. But their next encounter would definitely bring some changes, because Juri wouldn’t just ignore Taiga’s situation any longer.

***


Feeling a bit like a stalker Juri waited at the corner of Taiga’s house, but this time he wasn’t waiting for any member of the family. Soon the one he was looking for showed up and Juri approached him with the most neutral expression he could form.

“Morning Hokuto.”

The boy nodded as a greeting, but was obviously a bit confused about the morning greeting as Juri had just met him two times until now and Hokuto had made clear that he didn’t like speaking about Taiga, but that was exactly why Juri had waited for him.

“I am sorry that I stop you like this and I know this might be a bit straight forward, but I don’t want to do all the talking around the topic things.”

“Means as much as this talk has something to do with Taiga? Did anything happen?”

Alone that question made Juri’s fears grow bigger again, but he shook his head, because this wasn’t his part of the story so he wouldn’t tell anyone before having a talk with Taiga.

“Not really, but you know he is always locking himself up in the house and works at night, not really bounding with anyone and you said you went with him to school so I wondered if you know about anything? Like if he got bullied in school or something similar?”

It was the shadow that passed Hokuto’s face on that question making Juri’s stomach slowly turn.

“I’d say ask him yourself, but we both know that he would never answer that question.”

“He’d most likely freak at me.”

“That is his way of keeping people on distance.”

Juri gave him a questioning look and it was clear that Hokuto wasn’t sure how much he should tell him.

“Can I ask you something before explaining things? How much do you care for Taiga?”

It was a weird feeling, but somehow the question made Juri happy, because it showed that Hokuto hadn’t given up on Taiga no matter what had happened in their past and how much the boy might have changed.

“To be honest I am trying to figure that out at the moment. For now I can just say I care enough to get involved and want to change things, because he seems more than just a bit lost.”

Hokuto seemed to be able to read the worry in Juri’s expression so he formed a brief smile before he nodded. “That’s more than all the others care so if you don’t give up too easily then you might be able to break through that facade at some point. I...unfortunately failed.”

Hokuto let out a sigh, but Juri didn’t interrupt him. The boy needed to figure out what to tell by himself.

“To explain it as brief as possible people started using the fame of his father and the money his family owned to use Taiga. First it was just the usual hanging out with the famous rich kid and Taiga didn’t mind it. He was always open towards everyone, still a bit shy, but he’d never push people away without a reason.”

“Feels like we are talking about a completely different person.”

“I know it’s hard to believe with the way he is now, but people change after getting betrayed. I was close to him since primary school and I saw the danger approaching through the wrong friends he got and luckily Taiga realized it as well, but it got more and more difficult to just stay away from the wrong people, especially as they realized that they could threaten him.”

Juri bit his lip on hearing that. But those kind of manipulative people were indeed hard to get rid off.

“I tried to interfere at some point. First it was just about handing them money, but at some point they also got violent and...a lot happened at that time, but Taiga always tried to shake it off and pretend that everything was alright so I’d stop interfering.”

"But you didn’t, because it was everything else than alright.”

Hokuto’s expression turned to hurt on that and it gave Juri an unpleasant shiver. How hard must it be to actually care for someone while that person had locked himself away from everyone?

“When things seemed to escalate completely he suddenly quit school and broke ties with everyone, even those which were with him for so long.”

“Like you,” Juri let out in an apologizing tone, but Hokuto didn’t mind.

“I am not stupid, I know he did it to protect me and his other friends at that time, but now we have become adults. Sure there will be other problems in life from now on as well, but I feel like Taiga’s life has stopped two years before graduation and he can’t move on.”

“Or even worse, maybe he even walks backwards at the moment and doesn’t even realize it.”

Hokuto’s expression almost turned to panicked on that on which Juri gave him another apologizing look. “I promise to try and help him as much as I can. Thank you so much for telling me all this, I can imagine how hard it must be. I hope I can bring him out of his weird state enough to finally open up to you again.”

A brief smile appeared on Hokuto’s lips on hearing that, but he clearly wasn’t too optimistic about the chances. “Just make sure you and also Taiga stay safe.”

Even though Juri nodded on that he knew that Taiga was far away from safe at the moment.

***

“You look so grumpy today, everything alright?”

Juri needed a moment to realize that Taiga had even spoken. He was close to falling asleep on the couch, but he couldn't get up because without a warning Taiga had lain down on the couch and used his legs as a pillow, telling him to take a break. And Juri wasn't in the mood to pick a fight so he just did as he was told.

“Just a bit tired.”

“Stress at your other workplaces?”

“Not at both,” Juri replied almost automatically on which Taiga gave him a sceptic look. Juri avoided looking back immediately, but Taiga sat up nevertheless.

“So there is actually something going on which makes you look so exhausted recently?”

“Well I guess I just get closer to your state.”

It was pure luck that Taiga didn't freak at him on that comment or more the fact that it was Monday and Taiga usually was in a good mood at the beginning of the week, because those were his days off.

“I should keep working or I won't be done before your parents come back,” Juri tried to excuse himself, but Taiga's hand landed on his thigh signaling him to remain seated.

“I swear if you faint on me again I make you pay for it!”

Why didn't it sound threatening anymore? When had Juri learned to face Taiga's behavior with a smile? And since when did Taiga have this cute pouting expression instead of a murderous glare?

“Then how about you help me?”

Maybe it was the challenging tone, but Taiga indeed got up and took the broom which was leaning against the wall.

“If I make things worse than better I'll blame everything on you!”

Juri let out a laughter on that before he got up as well. “Totally fine with me.”

They cleaned for good and hour and Taiga had left the door to his room open as he had vanished inside while Juri was cleaning the hallway.

“Do you need help?” Juri asked as he carefully peered inside the room and saw Taiga cleaning it.

“Actually why not. I'm usually keeping it clean, but sometimes I should also take care of the parts I don't always clean.”

"So what will await me when I look behind the bed?” Juri asked teasingly on which Taiga rolled his eyes.

They kept cleaning his room in silence until Juri got a bit trash together and wanted to put it in his trash bin. Taiga's hands were on his wrist immediately, pulling him away from the trash bin and taking the trash out of his hands.

“You still didn't put out the other trash so let's just put it out with everything together, I don't have any trash in my room at the moment.”

It was such an obvious lie, but Juri didn't want to break the calm atmosphere so he let it slip. Sooner or later he'd need to talk to him, but for now he wanted it to be later.

Juri sat on the bed as he was done cleaning, waiting for Taiga to come back and when he did he handed him a can of coke.

“Are you trying to make sure I'll get enough sugar to not pass out?” Juri said teasingly on which Taiga sat down next to him with a low chuckle. “Definitely better than having you faint again.”

Juri shook his head on his teasing smile before he opened the can. With a squeal he held it to the front as half of the coke landed on his shirt and the rest dropped to the ground.

“Shit, sorry…” Juri apologized immediately and got ready to clean up the mess, but to his surprise he heard a loud laughter from Taiga. The boy immediately put his hand over his mouth, trying to hide a bright smile.

Juri couldn't from forming an embarrassed smile on that reaction while Taiga reached behind him and took a towel which was hanging over the desk chair for the cleaning.

“Let me do it,” Juri complained as Taiga kneeled on the bed in front of him and cleaned his shirt.

“Sit still or you'll mess up my sheets as well,” Taiga complained on which Juri surrendered.

“Okay the biggest mess is taken care off, but you better get out of that shirt.”

Instead of waiting for a reply Taiga already lifted the shirt over his head and Juri helped getting rid of it.

“Don't worry I will lend you one of mine until we've washed the stains out,” Taiga said, but he made no move to get up. He just threw the shirt to the ground and moved even closer to Juri with the towel still in his hand.

“Ehm what are you doing?” Juri asked a bit skeptical on the way Taiga's eyes seemed to burn into the skin of his neck.

“Taking care of the rest of your mess. The coke reached half of your face as well if you haven't noticed.”

Juri didn't complain as Taiga moved the towel to his neck, but he automatically tried to sit more to the back, but unfortunately he had already reached the headboard and Taiga was almost sitting on his lap by now.

When he moved the towel to his cheek Juri flinched a bit and the lopsided smile he got on that reaction had something challenging. Was he actually trying to provoke him?

Juri couldn't even tell what was going on, because each time they got closer over the last weeks something was rampaging inside of him, but in no way was it bad. But then Taiga had a bad day again and that feeling would somehow disappear once more. This time though it crushed onto him like a wave and when Taiga kept looking back at him instead of avoiding his look something inside Juri broke free. Like a last straw he was waiting for the other one to move and luckily he did.

Taiga put the towel down and lifted his hand to Juri's face, stroking a bit of the spilled juice from the side of his lips before he pulled his finger back and licked it off.

As if struck by lightning Juri's hand found Taiga's hair with a tight grip, but he didn't have to pull much, because Taiga moved on his own, meeting Juri's lips for a rushed and messy kiss.

The only reason why Juri didn’t hesitate in his movements when Taiga suddenly pushed him down on the bed was that he didn’t want to think too much about it or he would definitely jump up and leave right away.

Taiga moved demanding as he crawled on top of the other one and pressed him so much into the mattress that it seemed to Juri as if he was afraid he would run away if he didn’t keep a good hold on him.

The kiss changed into a fight about the lead soon, because Juri wasn’t going to surrender this easily, but soon Taiga started biting into his bottom ip on which Juri escaped a low moan into the kiss. He could feel how a shiver ran through Taiga’s body on that sound, but as much as he wanted to play more they eventually had to pull back for air.

Taiga’s hair which wasn’t in his ponytail fell in long strands into his eyes while he caught his breath and Juri found himself staring back at him like hypnotized.

Juri wondered if he should make a move as Taiga needed a bit too long to even move at all, but when he tried to reach out for the other one’s hips to pull him a bit closer Taiga suddenly sat up and turned away.

That reaction took Juri by surprise at first, but then realization hit him and his look darkened. Taiga had reacted intuitively that was for sure, but realizing where this would lead he stopped himself from taking it further. After all Juri would see what he thought was still a secret.

“Would you leave for today?”

Not surprised by Taiga’s sudden question Juri sat up and nodded, even though Taiga couldn’t see it as he was still looking towards the other direction. Taiga got up and took a shirt out of his cupboard, handing it to Juri with a hard to interpret look. He didn’t seem disappointed or angry, more like a confused kid which was extremely scared of getting yelled at for doing something forbidden.

Juri took the shirt from him and pulled it over his head before he headed to the door immediately. He would also need some time to think, but he stopped once more before he left.

“It didn’t feel wrong,” he started before he looked back at the older one. “Just in case you worried about it.”

Of course Juri knew that this wasn’t his main concern, but he didn’t want to leave Taiga behind with even more thoughts which could make him freak out. And it wasn’t a lie, it didn’t feel wrong at all.

***

The next time he came to the Kyomoto house though everything felt wrong. The person coming down the stairs in the afternoon had turned back to the one he had met at the first day as he had started working. There was no greeting, not even a brief look at him, he even ignored the food which Juri had made like usual and just took something out of the fridge to vanish back into his room.

Taiga’s cold behavior over the next days made Juri wonder what exactly had made him crawl back into his shell. After all it had been Taiga making the first move. Had he actually been so shocked by his own move that he tried to go on distance now?

Whatever the reason Juri found himself in front of Taiga’s club once more and as usual on a Thursday morning he left towards the other direction, meeting once more with the stranger. But this time Juri didn’t wait for Taiga. As the stranger left he followed him instead. Just a few minutes later he realized that they were back in the same entertainment district where he and Taiga worked as well. The stranger entered one of the host clubs and Juri waited a moment before he dared to get closer.

At the entrance he found a board with the hosts’ names of the club and not even surprised he found the one he was looking for.

“Taisuke…” he read the name of the stranger. But even knowing his identity didn’t help him, the name didn't ring any bell. Why was another host interested in Taiga or more like why was he using him and why did Taiga allow it to happen?

With Taiga not speaking to him anymore it was hard to get more information and he had asked Hokuto enough already. He could tell that the boy would love to have his childhood friend back to the friendly and open person he had been, but Juri wasn’t sure if he could help after being rejected like this. But on the other hand he couldn’t let Taiga go on like this, it just didn’t feel right.


Two evenings later after he had finished his other part-time job, this time not as calmly as usual, but that wasn’t anything new to him, he headed straight towards Taiga’s club. But this time he didn’t hide.

“What are you doing here?” Taiga said in between annoyed and shocked about Juri suddenly standing at his table.

“What do you think I am doing in a host club in the middle of the night?” Juri shot back a bit colder than he wanted to. “Did you really think I didn’t know about you working here? It was easy to guess with the clothes you were wearing in the morning and with you being gone all night.”

Taiga was obviously waiting for him to scold him even more as he leant back on the black leather couch, but Juri didn’t plan on telling him everything he knew, for now at least.

“And here you have me all for yourself in private two days a week and still you pay a ridiculous amount of money to see me here? That is the stupidest thing you did until now. How more months do you need to work at my house to pay for this night?”

“It’s not about the money,” Juri said as he wanted to reach out for one of the bottles on the table, but Taiga was faster. Maybe it was just one of his usual routine moves, but Juri couldn’t deny that he couldn’t get his eyes of him for a moment as he prepared him a drink with skilled and fast movements. His eyes resting nonstop on his hands as he poured the drink and handed it to him. It was a funny picture seeing him doing his work so serious while he was so annoyed about Juri being there in the first place.

“It doesn’t matter if you are home when I am there, because you refuse to speak to me. I am not sure if you realized, but it’s the first time that you speak to me again after our kiss.”

Taiga’s eyes grew wide on Juri’s direct statement and he took a look around as if he was worried someone could hear them.

“If you want to speak about that let’s do that in private,” Taiga whispered while his eyes were still on the other hosts and staff members.

“What are you afraid of?” Juri asked a bit confused.

Taiga didn’t reply on that question. Instead he leant back once more and crossed his legs with a slightly worried expression.

“Okay, forget it,” Juri said as he got up without waiting for a reply on which Taiga made a move to jump up as well. “What? You want to stop me? I thought you don’t want me here?”

Taiga bit his lip on his sharp words, but he was right after all. And fact was that Juri didn’t want to leave, but he had come here exactly for this reason, to provoke him!

“If you want to have another talk, then feel free to talk to me tomorrow. As always I’ll be in your house the whole day. It’s your choice!”

With that Juri left and he could just hope that he hadn’t made things worse instead of better.

***

First it was the usual sight when Taiga came downstairs, but not wanting to give up Juri had put food on the table as always. But he ignored the other one for now and turned back to the sink. Just when he turned the water off he heard how Taiga was actually sitting down at the table.

“Morning.”

Juri turned towards the other one with a neutral expression and of course he didn’t expect Taiga to smile even if he greeted him. So all he did was nodding. “Morning.”

Taiga ate in silence while Juri went through the room to clean up, but he couldn’t move as well as he wanted to and he put his hand to his right hip from time to time. As always it would heal in a few days though.

“Thanks for the food,” Taiga was heard as he put the dishes in the sink.

“Leave them, I will clean them up,” Juri said as Taiga wanted to turn the water on.

When Juri walked up to him Taiga didn’t get out of the way though. He rested with his hands on the side of the sink before he looked up at Juri with a hard to interpret look.

“What is it?” Juri asked carefully. He could tell that one wrong word could make Taiga pull back immediately.

“I don’t want people to know,” Taiga said to his confusion and when he lifted an eyebrow at him Taiga sighed and stepped back towards the table, leaning at it with his back. It was obvious that he hated to have talks like this, but the fact that he tried made it easier for Juri to stay patient.

“What do you don’t want people to know?”

“This,” Taiga said as he pointed at Juri and back at himself. “You know how famous my father is. A bad reputation is something I don’t want to risk.”

Now it clicked, but the question was if it was just an emergency lie or not? Truth was that Taiga still kept some secrets and without knowing about what was really going on it was hard to tell how true the rest of his words were.

“That’s why you didn’t want to talk about it at the club,” Juri concluded and Taiga nodded. “But it’s not as if I would walk around and tell people. You can trust me.”

Somehow it felt like he had said the worst thing ever, because Taiga’s look darkened immediately and without understanding what had gone wrong he seemed to retreat behind his wall once more.

“Even if you say so I don’t want to risk it. Let’s just pretend nothing ever happened.”

It was to Taiga’s obvious surprise when Juri blocked his way up to the stairs. “What if I don’t want to do that?”

Now there was no need to stay patient, because Taiga was about to turn away from him completely so he could at least try and fix things and if it didn’t work out they would break that unstable bond for once and for all, but he wouldn’t just leave without trying.

“What if I told you that this wasn’t just a move from your side? That I don’t want you to retreat?”

Taiga chewed on the inside of his cheek with a troubled expression, out of words for a moment. It was that worry in his eyes which made Juri wonder what exactly was going on in his head. If he was just a bad person he wouldn’t even bother, but here he seemed to get an inner breakdown each time Juri tried to get closer.

When Juri took a step forward Taiga automatically backed off a bit and shook his head. “There is nothing to discuss. I am not going to take that risk.”

“But you did already once why backing out now?”

"Because I won’t repeat the same mistake twice.”

Juri blinked in confusion on that, but before he could reply Taiga pushed him out of the way and rushed towards the stairs. When he had made the first steps though Juri tried to pull him back.

“Don’t run away like this!”

“Leave me alone,” Taiga shouted this time, running out of patience. But Juri wouldn’t just let him go on like this. He had still one more card to play. He tried to pull Taiga down from the stairs, but the boy took a hold on the rail.

“Tell me about Taisuke!”

Taiga froze on the spot with his eyes wide open in shock, but it just lasted for a second before he moved as struck by lightning and pushed Juri to the back as he couldn't pull his wrist out of his grip. Juri stumbled backwards, hitting the side of one of the shelfs in the room quite hard and with a yelp he crouched down, holding his arms around his hips.

Taiga froze in his movements once more on this reaction. On shaking legs he went over to the other one, but Juri got up and stepped away from him.

“What was that?” Taiga asked in a dangerous tone, but Juri just kept his arms protectively at his upper body, but exactly that move made Taiga reach out for him.

“It’s nothing,” Juri complained, but Taiga was faster and pulled his shirt up. With a gasp he revealed a quite big bruise on the boy’s hips.

“You call this nothing? Okay, what is going on? You had bruises before as well.”

“That’s not what we are talking about right now though,” Juri shot back and pulled away. “I want to know-”

"Why do you even care for other people’s business when you can’t even take care of yourself? I want you to tell me what is going on, right now!”

There was indeed worry in Taiga’s eyes as he faced the other one with a strict tone, but that didn’t help as Juri got ready to explode.

“Taking care of myself? You are the one to talk!”

Taiga turned away with a sigh and moved his hands through his hair with an annoyed groan. “I can’t believe how childish all of this turned out.”

It was a move Juri couldn’t explain himself, but his shaking hand was proof enough that he had indeed just slapped Taiga as he had turned back to him.

Taiga didn’t even move, he just kept staring back at Juri with a shocked expression, but the other one had trouble calming down.

“You’ve no clue how much I worried for you over the last months, how much I tried to find a way to help you without making you retreat.”

“I don’t need-”

Juri jumped forward and took Taiga by the collar before he could even end his sentence. “STOP BEHAVING THIS ARROGANT!”

This time it was Juri who pushed Taiga and the force made the latter land on the ground.

“Talking to Hokuto I thought I could actually pull you out of this dark place, but it seems like I’ve mistaken. Maybe this was where you belonged from the start. You just don’t give a shit about yourself so why pretend to care for others?”

There was still some fire left in Taiga’s eyes as he was obviously about to shout something back at the latter as he sat up, but Juri was faster and he turned to the shelf, taking the expensive glass figure on it and shattered it to pieces right in front of Taiga. The boy gasped and crawled back.

“Take this as my dismissal notice! If you are not ready to save yourself don’t pretend to care for other people's problems!”

Without giving Taiga the chance to reply Juri dashed towards the exit, rushing down the street until he had reached the small river close to his own house. He just stopped when he had arrived underneath the bridge. With heavy pants he put his hands to his knees, trying to calm down. The first loud curse came out as a scream already, followed by several more before he dropped to his knees and started crying.

How had he dared to say all this to Taiga even though he wasn’t any better? Wasn’t he also pretending to be okay while he wasn’t? Didn’t he want to help Taiga while he didn’t ask for help? How had they ended up being so blind and arrogant towards each other?

***

It was one of those nights he hated at this job. Once more a handful of people had vanished behind the red curtain. The one place he had been forbidden to go to and of course he hadn’t listened.

He brought out the empty bottles and leant back at the wall next to the back exit for a moment. It had started as a usual night job in a bar. Nothing more than giving out drinks to the customers and cleaning the bar when it closed and while he had been told not to clean behind the red curtain he had of course taken a look at some point, because how bad could it be? It had been pretty bad though…

He had discovered an illegal drug dealing room and of course the owner of the bar had made clear that if he was telling anyone about it that it would cost him greatly. Since then he wasn’t allowed to quit. But unfortunately the other workers didn’t really like him around and sometimes he ended up in fights with some of them or got punished without any obvious reason.

“What are you doing here idiot? There is a lot to do so get back inside!” One of the workers warned him as he saw him standing outside. Juri just nodded and went back inside. He didn’t feel like watching out as much as before. It wasn’t like he had forgotten that he continued this job for the sake of his family and not just for his own safety, but it had been just three days since he had clashed with Taiga and he hadn’t even been able to sleep properly since then. His mood was down to zero.

When he came back inside some customers left their hidden room in the back, followed by the owner of the bar.

“Juri, you seem tired.”

The comment which seemed so harmless could actually bring him into trouble, because Ryosuke wasn’t known for caring for his workers and especially not for Juri. At first he seemed like a super nice person and that was why Juri had actually chosen this job, but soon he had realized that Ryosuke wasn’t at all the angel his smile made him look like at first. One wrong move and that smile changed into a grimace of a demon.

“It’s nothing. I will make sure to work without delay,” Juri said apologizing with a slight bow towards the owner.

Ryosuke made a step towards him on that comment and put his pointer finger under his chin, making the younger one tense.

“I hope so. You remember that I don’t like it when you disappoint me, right?”

He still had a painful reminder of that from a few nights before on his hip so he nodded immediately and the owner gave him an innocent smile.

“You are such a fast learner I like that about you.”

Juri relaxed a bit when Ryosuke retreated to the back once more. It was quite busy as it was weekend and Juri was able to distract himself until his shift was finally over.

They were already cleaning up as the doorbell was heard and Juri turned towards the person coming inside.

“Sorry, we are already-”

He almost let the broom fall which he was holding as he realized who had just entered.

“Well I am not a customer so I think it’s okay that I am here,” Taiga said in a neutral voice. His expression was hard to read and even though there was something dangerous visible it wasn’t directed to Juri.

“No it’s everything but okay that you are here. Leave, now!” Juri hissed at him and wanted to push him out the door immediately.

“Juri what is going on? Why didn’t you lock the door yet?” One of the other workers was heard and with a curse he turned towards him and bowed apologizing.

“Sorry, I was about to close it. He will leave right away.”

“No I won’t,” Taiga said straight forward.

“Taiga, cut the crap. Get out, now! If you want to talk we can do so later.”

“Right, because you are coming to work tomorrow like nothing happened?”

Well, no he was indeed not planning on coming back, not to forget that he should be officially fired after breaking something in their house.

“A friend of yours, Juri?”

Now his worries reached a whole new level as Ryosuke entered the bar and told the other worker to get back to work in the back, leaving the three alone.

“No, he is-”

“Yes indeed a friend of his and I am sorry to tell you, but he will quit today.”

“What?” Juri asked perplex.

“Oh really?” Ryosuke asked in amusement as he stepped closer to them and as Taiga wanted to step in front of him Juri blocked his way.

“Taiga I am not sure what you are up to, but please leave! I beg you!”

It was bad enough that he had found the place he was working at, but provoking the owner was definitely the worst idea ever and as much as he didn’t want to end up in more trouble, he also didn’t want to involve Taiga.

“Oh, why the hurry? Let him stay for a bit longer. I enjoy his company,” Ryosuke mocked and Juri could tell how he was running out of patience and it would end up in a huge chaos.

“Ryosuke, right?” Taiga addressed him on which the owner faced him with an entertained expression.

"Yamada for you. Seems like my reputation precedes me.”

“Your bad one indeed,” Taiga said calmly while Juri wasn’t sure anymore how to solve this mess.

“So what makes you believe you can make one of my workers quit without my approval?”

“Because I have an offer for you.”

“Oh? I am all ears,” Ryosuke said with a weird shine in his eyes as he stepped aside and made a hand movement towards the red curtain. “Juri would you wait a moment for us?”

“What?” Juri asked completely perplex before he turned towards Taiga instead. “I am not going to leave you alone with him. Taiga please listen, they are dangerous!”

He tried to whisper, but he didn’t care if Ryosuke heard him, but unfortunately Taiga didn’t seem to care and he took him by the arms, forcing him to step out of the way.

“I know after everything that happened it’s much to ask for, but just this one time trust me, okay?”

It was the way his expression softened out of a sudden that Juri couldn’t actually stop him as he walked passed Ryosuke and vanished behind the red curtain. The owner followed him and Juri started passing up and down the room for what felt like almost half an hour, but it remained silent in the bar.

When Ryosuke stepped out from the back room first Juri needed to gather all his calm to not dash forward, but Taiga followed him and Juri relaxed as he realized that he was unharmed.

“You have a really interesting friend here Juri. If I was you I’d make sure to keep him close,” Ryosuke said with a lopsided sneer before Taiga walked up to Juri with a last side-glance towards Ryosuke.

“Let’s go.”

“What, just like this?” Juri asked perplex, but Ryosuke made a movement with his hand towards the door.

“What a shame that I have to say goodbye to such a useful worker, but I’d say it was worth it.”

Ryosuke’s words made Taiga’s look turn to annoyed, but he didn’t turn back to him and as much as Juri was still confused about what had happened he followed Taiga as he left the bar.

“Taiga, what did you do? What is going on?” Juri asked as he tried to stop Taiga, but the latter just kept walking.

“Would you mind waiting with your questions for just a bit longer? I promise I will have a proper talk with you this time!”

It was Taiga’s look which made Juri follow him in silence on his request. It was the first time he saw fear in his eyes. Was he afraid Juri could walk away like this? Had their fight actually made Taiga realize how much he had messed up with retreating so much?

Juri realized soon that they weren’t heading back to Taiga’s house and it didn’t surprise him. Even when Taiga stopped walking next to a familiar building Juri didn’t feel the slightest uncomfortable.

“You know this place, don’t you?” Taiga asked a bit hesitant.

“Better than I want to,” Juri replied before he followed Taiga into the love hotel.

They entered one of the rooms in silence and while Taiga sat down on the bed Juri remained standing for now, leaning back at the door.

“First of all I owe you an apology,” Taiga started, but Juri didn’t reply anything, resulting in Taiga looking up at him with a slightly troubled expression. “I know I shouldn’t have acted the way I did after everything I’ve done to you. I treated you bad from the beginning and pushed you away even though I was the one letting you come closer in the first place.”

“Don’t you think there is another apology before that one?”

Taiga bit his lip on hearing that and faced the ground while twiddling his fingers nervously. It was obvious how hard it was for him to talk about this topic, but Juri wanted to know. For now though he walked up to the other one and sat down next to him on the bed, making Taiga look up at him.

“Then let’s have this talk first, what did you offer Ryosuke to allow me to quit?”

It was obviously a way easier question for Taiga to answer, because he flashed a brief smile. “Money, what else would it be?”

“Seriously, just that?”

“After our fight I actually researched your other part-time jobs over the contract you had with my father. When I saw the name of the bar I knew you were in trouble. They have a bad reputation all over the district. But Ryosuke is a businessman like all the others, just with a worse behavior and a pretty short patience.”

“Indeed pretty short,” Juri confirmed.

“I knew a person like him enjoys playing with people, especially when he can use them, but a good deal is something he can’t say no to.”

“So you bought me free?”

It shouldn’t sound like an accusation, but Taiga’s look darkened a bit. “Shouldn’t I have done it?”

“No that’s not what I mean,” Juri said immediately. “I mean I am grateful, but of course I feel more than guilty for having you use your family’s money on my problems. Why would you even do that?”

“Is that a serious question?” Taiga asked a bit confused and Juri felt stupid for asking, because no of course it wasn’t. As big as their fight had been, it was clear that Taiga hadn’t been playing around with Juri for fun. He was indeed caring for him and this was the biggest proof of it.

“No I guess not,” Juri admitted. “Thank you, I am really happy you didn’t pull back completely this time.”

“Trust me I wasn’t sure if I would to be honest,” Taiga admitted and that brought them back to their main topic. Juri remained silent while Taiga lifted his legs and hugged his knees with an empty stare through the room.

“I guess I don’t have to start from my school days, you definitely heard most of it from Hokuto already.”

He had indeed and for now he didn’t want to make this a therapy session for the other one. “I just want to know what is going on with you at the moment, why you are...letting yourself get used like this.”

A joyless chuckle was heard on that question, but Taiga didn’t fall silent again. “I met Taisuke when I was on a random walk through the entertainment district. I was in a quite depressive phase at that time, right after I had graduated and had no idea what to do with my life. To not make this too complicated I will skip the details, but Taisuke was the first person I trusted after all those years of shutting myself away from everyone. He was the one introducing me to the club I am working at now and at first it was nothing more than us playing around from time to time. After all he is a host himself, playing around is what he does best.”

“So what changed?”

“He had never said it directly, but I was pretty sure that after a while he had figured out who I was and of course who my father was and that was when things turned slightly awkward. He got somehow possessive, demanding to see me even if I told him I couldn’t. At some point I felt like suffocating, like I had to always please him no matter what.”

“So you tried to break up with him?” Juri asked in conclusion.

“It wasn’t like it was a real relationship in the first place, but yes I told him I needed some space and a break.”

“But he didn’t want that,” Juri concluded right once more on which Taiga’s look turned darker and this time he needed a moment longer to continue.

“The next time we met after that talk he suddenly showed me pictures which I didn’t even know existed. Pictures from my work as a host, me paying out annoying customers to make them leave quietly and of course pictures of me and Taisuke, quite intimate ones as you can imagine.”

“He threatened you with them?” Juri asked shocked knowing the answer already.

“For me it wouldn’t have been a problem, but for my family...it was different. I felt like a burden to them already in school and then out of a sudden I was thrown back into that dark place. Getting betrayed again.”

Taiga clenched his hands into his sleeves, hugging his knees even tighter while Juri couldn’t even imagine how hard it must be for Taiga to open up to him like this.

“The reason you couldn’t trust me, the reason why you pulled back even though you wanted to open up, it’s his entire fault…” Juri let out in a whisper, anger rising inside him.

“And still I shouldn’t have done all the things I did to you. I was unfair and childish.”

Juri moved so fast that Taiga let out a gasp as the boy took him on the shoulders to make him turn towards him and he almost lost balance as he put his legs down in a hurry.

“Don’t blame yourself for something that asshole is at fault for! Everyone would have shut themselves away like this after what you experienced and it takes a lot of strength and courage to open up to someone.”

“And here I was too weak to actually do it.”

“Then tell me what you are doing right now?”

Taiga blinked at him for a moment before Juri flashed a brief smile. “Your first attempt failed and you crawled back, shutting me out, but here you went through all the trouble to save me first and finally talk to me so that I can save you! Don’t ever see yourself as weak, you are not!”

Taiga gave Juri a hesitant nod before the other one sat back a bit, but still didn’t get off the bed. Juri had expected a background story like this after everything he had found out by himself already, but hearing everything directly from Taiga made him want to run off to Taisuke’s club and beat the shit out of him immediately, but knowing that the problem wouldn’t be solved that easily he tried to calm down. He flinched a bit when there was a sudden touch on his hand and he looked up, finding Taiga reaching out for him hesitantly. He pulled back a bit on Juri’s reaction, but dared once more to touch Juri’s hand and the latter opened his palm to squeeze Taiga’s fingers.

“I am sorry,” Taiga said, on which Juri shook his head. “I wanted to trust you and there was a point where I was sure I could indeed do so, but I got scared about what could happen if you found out about my situation and I pulled back.”

Taiga flinched when Juri’s other hand found his cheek. “It’s still not too late to trust me.”

The hesitation on the older one’s face was clear and his thoughts were obviously racing.

“Just trust me,” Juri soothed him and when he leant closer Taiga made an attempt to back off, but stopped with a kind of apologizing expression. Juri waited a moment before he dared to move again, squeezing the latter’s hand once before he leant even closer. This time Taiga didn’t move, but his eyes kept flickering up and down Juri’s face.

If the situation wasn’t that serious it would be a funny picture seeing Taiga that insecure, but Juri didn’t laugh at him. His hesitation made clear that this was indeed important to him and as much as he tried to trust Juri he also hoped for Juri to trust him once more.

“Do you trust me?” Juri asked directly this time as their lips were almost touching and he could feel the slow nod from Taiga as his lips touched his on the move.

Juri had to hide a chuckle on the way Taiga flinched once more on his own move and carefully he dared to brush his lips over Taiga’s and the boy shut his eyes.

“Don’t pull back this time,” Juri whispered and instead of a reply Taiga finally moved to the front, engaging their lips in a real kiss. This time it wasn’t as rushed as their first kiss, but after finding the courage to move Taiga wasn’t the type to keep things slow.

It was Juri though who pushed him first and Taiga fell on the mattress while Juri crawled on top of him.

It was kind of helpful that Taiga wasn’t the type to talk much, because Juri didn’t want to start any new discussion now and all the serious talk could wait for later. They had paid for the room anyways so they could use it before leaving.

Juri tried to keep a slow pace, because after everything they had talked about he didn’t want to make any stupid move which could make Taiga feel uncomfortable. But seconds later he didn’t need to worry about that anymore as Taiga turned them around without a warning and deepened the kiss to a degree that Juri felt like suffocating at some point.

When Taiga finally released him Juri took a deep breath and luckily Taiga didn’t surprise him with another sudden attack, but his look had drastically changed and it gave Juri shivers, luckily of the good kind. There was a dangerous shine in the boy’s eyes and Juri couldn’t deny that he wanted to drown in this danger no matter the consequences.

“Surprised?”

“A bit,” Juri let out with a faint smile. “I mean it’s not like I’ve ever thought about how you’d behave.”

“You are such a bad liar.”

Well here he got caught after all he couldn’t deny that he had imagined about it since their first kiss.

“What do you think how I ended up with someone like Taisuke in the first place?”

“But I doubt he is the type to let you go out on him,” Juri said calmly, hoping that the change of topic wouldn’t kill the mood, but Taiga didn’t seem to mind. His look turned to even more entertained as he put his pointed finger under Juri’s chin and forced his head even more back against the pillow and he leant down and bit into the younger one’s jaw line on which Juri couldn’t hide a moan.

“You just need to learn your own few tricks to handle someone like him,” Taiga replied before his hands got busy vanishing under Juri’s shirt, making it hard for the other one to even get his thoughts together.

“I’d say you have learned enough tricks to drive even a person like him insane,” Juri let out after a shaking breath he couldn’t hide as one of Taiga’s hands had found the inside of his thigh.

“I didn’t even start yet and you are already surrendering? I bet you can give me more as well.”

Well at first he had indeed thought about being more active that was for sure, but that was when he had worried for Taiga feeling insecure, now all he felt was over challenged.

“On the other hand…”

When Taiga paused Juri forced himself to look up at the other one, no matter how much his touch distracted him, especially when his hand had somehow found its way inside the fabric of his pants without him realizing.

“On the other hand what?” Juri whispered as he tried to hide a moan, but of course the other one noticed and used his hand on his upper body to give him the next pleasant shiver as his fingers worked skilled around one of his nipples.

With a low chuckle Taiga leant down to Juri’s ear, but of course he paused once more and while Juri thought he would bite him he took a deep breath, smelling on his hair and Juri felt like he’d explode with whatever next move the other one was planning.

“On the other hand I think you enjoy it a lot when I use you.”

There was so much Juri could reply to this, but once more his mind went blank as Taiga used one of his way too many weak moments and let his hand slip right inside his underwear this time. Juri couldn’t actually move away with Taiga being so close to him and when he tried to turn his face away Taiga’s hand was in his hair, pulling him back. “You want to deny it?”

“What would happen if I do?” Juri’s voice sounded almost hoarse by now and his tries of hiding his moans and keeping his excitement level down wasn’t making it easier to say anything in a steady voice.

“If you deny it I will make sure you’ll have more than enough reasons after this to change your mind.”

“Then I deny it,” Juri let out way too fast and with definitely more excitement shining in his eyes than he had planned on showing, resulting in Taiga forming an entertained smile. Slowly Taiga’s hand traveled from his hair to his face, while his other hand was already busy getting unnecessary clothes out of the way.

“You will regret that decision,” Taiga said as he stroke with his thumb over the boy’s lips.

“I hope so.”

As much as Juri had sat still until now he couldn’t stop from grabbing the other one by the hair and pull him into a rough kiss as Taiga showed one of those arrogant smiles which he hated so much before and which made everything go blank in his mind now.

Every move Taiga made to get more clothes out of the way was accompanied by more touching and teasing. But of course even when all clothes were finally out of the way he wouldn’t give the other one a break, but Juri didn’t mind the slightest and he almost ripped the condom out of Taiga’s hand which the boy had just gotten from the night stand.

“That I call impatient,” Taiga teased as Juri ripped the cover open with his teeth.

“If you’ve realized that then hurry or I might take care of myself if you take too long.”

Usually Juri would never even dare to talk with such a challenging attitude, but Taiga’s eyes got darker on his words just like he had hoped. Sooner or later this battle between them might cause some damage, but for tonight they both wouldn’t mind and later, well at least Juri was sure that also later he wouldn’t mind.

“Good luck trying,” Taiga replied before he positioned himself and even though he was indeed moving more careful than Juri had thought he would, it was more than obvious how impatient he was as well. Not to forget that this time all their bruises were visible and Taiga's were definitely a lot worse, but Juri didn't want to comment on it. Taiga seemed capable of not hurting himself with his own movements and he didn't hesitate as he pushed in.

Juri arched his back on the sudden intrusion, but also tried to keep Taiga close as the boy suddenly pulled away a bit to sit up.

“Greedy, aren’t you?”

“After all your teasing you think I wouldn’t complain if you don’t give me more?”

Taiga cracked a lopsided smile on that before he thrusted in deep without a warning on which Juri took a sharp breath.

“What? You said you wanted more, right?”

Juri’s look turned to slightly annoyed on Taiga’s arrogant expression, but this time he took the other one by surprise as he rocked his hips up and made Taiga fall more to the front on that move so that he could touch the other one’s cheek.

“A little bit more of this would also be nice,” Juri teased before he gave Taiga another rushed kiss.

Taiga’s movements got rougher the more Juri also tried to get more active. Just when Juri refused to let him break the kiss Taiga bit down on his bottom lip. First he just held it between his teeth and Juri calculated his next move, knowing that Taiga wanted a sign of surrender, but where was the fun in that?

Slowly Juri moved one of his hands to Taiga’s neck as the latter pulled a bit more on his lip. His other hand went teasingly to Taiga’s butt and he could see the danger growing in Taiga’s eyes. It was when he tried to pull Taiga down again and squeezed his butt a bit too greedily at the same time that Taiga ran out of patience and bit down this time.

Juri had almost no time to even let out any kind of sound as Taiga gave him another deep thrust. As if scolding the boy for his disobedience and he sped his movements up, while Juri kept his eyes locked with his. Suddenly Taiga’s hand was on his stomach, teasingly moving down to his hips and there was no way he didn’t realize how close Juri was by now, but there was another warning shining in his eyes. Another provocation he waited for.

Juri got distracted by the warm feeling of the blood drop on his lip slowly running down to his chin and he could see how Taiga watched it with a greedy look as he moved his head down a bit like a predator spying on its defenseless pray, but Juri wasn’t defenseless and to Taiga’s obvious surprise he got stopped in his movement as Juri put his hand against his chest, which also resulted in Taiga’s hand stopping right before he wanted to help Juri out.

Juri craned his neck a bit on which Taiga licked over his own lips, but this time it was Juri’s turn to show an arrogant smile as he lifted his head even more, but licked away the blood drop himself right before Taiga could do so. Taiga froze in his movements as if he couldn’t believe that Juri had taken that opportunity away from him. Juri’s lopsided smile grew even bigger on that expression and he gave Taiga a light kiss on the lips and the copper taste made Taiga move again and this time Juri’s whole body filled with a weird kind of friction as he waited for the other one’s next move.

“If provoking me becomes your new habit this might end up a quite unhealthy relationship,” Taiga warned him.

Well there was a lot in both their lives which they could call unhealthy, but luckily Taiga moved before Juri could actually voice that thought out. It didn’t surprise Juri at all when Taiga’s hand vanished from his body and found his wrist instead. Soon both his wrists landed next to his head while Taiga’s moves changed from rushed to something even more dangerous. Like a siren he tried to make every move as seductive as possible and unfortunately Juri was weak for everything he did, so just his lips finding his skin around his collarbone while his thrusts got deeper and more rhythmic made it hard for him to calm down. When he clenched his fists and tried to pull his wrists free Taiga put more pressure on his arms, but succeeded in keeping his movements soft.

There were some desperate tries of Juri holding back some moans, but when Taiga’s tongue and teeth joined his lips there was no way he could stay silent and there was also no way he could hold on longer.

Taiga’s lips found their way back to the latter’s face, but he refused Juri’s request for a kiss and moved up to his ear instead.

“Surrender to me,” he whispered before he bit harshly into his earlobe.

Juri couldn’t hear his own moan, but he was sure that it was definitely sounding more like a scream as his mind went blank.

He needed what felt like several minutes to come down from his climax and when he finally took another deep breath he felt a weight on his chest. When he opened his eyes he found Taiga resting with his upper body on his, Taiga’s head resting on his chest.

Carefully Juri shifted a bit and took a look at the other one’s face, forming a smile as he realized that he was asleep. He placed a soft kiss on the other one’s hair before he somehow managed to throw a blanket over them and pulled Taiga a bit more into his embrace.

“If this is an unhealthy relationship I wonder how badly we’ve messed up with our choices so far,” Juri whispered and he could feel how Taiga tensed a bit in his arms, but this talk could definitely wait until the next day.

***

It was definitely the worst idea they could have come up with, but it was also their best shot to solve this messed up situation.

Over the last week they had tried to come up with any kind of plan and then Juri remembered something which could actually help them a lot and they stumbled over a secret which gave them the courage to finally take action.

But nevertheless how prepared they were Juri felt still more than sick as Taiga arrived in front of the hotel with Taisuke waiting in front of it like always. They took a great risk with this and the fact that the idea came actually from Taiga didn’t make it easier for Juri, because for most of the time he could just wait and watch.

After they had vanished into the hotel Juri kept looking at his phone until there was finally a message.

“Room 104,” Juri read and he hurried towards the hotel and sneaked inside, hiding at the end of the corridor while not taking his eyes of his phone.

Taisuke usually vanished into the bathroom at first when they met, so Taiga took his chance to let Juri know their room and then move on to their most dangerous idea in case Taisuke would realize.

After a few minutes the picture showed up on Juri’s screen and he pushed the play button. Taiga had hid his phone between the pillows of the couch in the room to record what was going on. Juri’s phone would record it as well to have back-up data of it in case Taisuke would find the phone.

This idea had led to another fight between them in the beginning, because Juri had refused to let Taiga even meet with Taisuke once more in the first place. Not to forget that like this they could get proof of his sexual abuse, but Juri had to watch it and he couldn’t promise he could just sit still and wait for it to be over, on the other hand it was better than standing outside and not knowing what was going on at all after all their plan could fail and then Juri had to interfere he was sure of that.

“If I want you to come I will say so,” Taiga said and even though Juri could hear his voice he couldn’t reply, but Taiga was sure he got the message.

Juri bit his lip as Taiga moved over to the bed and sat down. It was definitely on purpose as he turned away from the camera. It had surprised Juri from the beginning that Taiga had come up with such an idea, but it also showed that he indeed trusted Juri.

“What’s with the annoyed look today?” Taisuke was heard before he showed up on the camera picture and Juri was already feeling like dashing over to their room to punch him.

“Nothing special, just a bad day at work,” Taiga replied as he moved with his back to the headboard of the bed and stretched his legs out. Taisuke walked up to him and stopped next to the bed. When he didn’t say anything Taiga peered up at him and the latter stretched out his arm touching his cheek before leaning down and even though Taiga made a slight move to pull away he didn’t refuse when Taisuke gave him a sudden kiss. But it was more than obvious how tense he was and while Taisuke deepened the kiss Juri could see how Taiga had one hand clenched into the sheets, most likely to keep himself from pulling away.

Even when Taisuke crawled on the bed Taiga just made space for him and it looked like he was handling the situation as he always did, but exactly that was not part of their plan.

"Taiga, get a grip,” Juri whispered even though he knew he couldn’t hear him. If he would just surrender like always there was actually nothing on the tape they could use against Taisuke. After all even if he hurt him as long as Taiga didn’t actually try to make him stop it wouldn’t be seen as abuse.

Just when Taisuke got out of his white shirt and tossed it to the ground Taiga seemed to tense even more and he took a dangerous look towards the hidden phone. When Taisuke reached out for Taiga’s shirt and opened the first buttons Taiga finally reached out for his hands and made him halt for a moment.

“It’s rare that you take any actions at all, so what’s with the weird tense attitude today?” Taisuke asked mockingly, but Taiga’s look remained serious.

“I want to have a talk with you.”

“A talk? Well I guess it can wait for a few minutes,” was all Taisuke added on that before he wanted to shake Taiga’s hands off, but the boy took a tighter grip on his wrists, trying to sit up a bit on the bed, but Taisuke was sitting on top of him and didn’t give him the space he demanded.

“Then let me formulate this another way, there won’t be anything else than a talk tonight.”

“Oh, really? And you think you can decide that because?”

“Because I am not going to be your puppet anymore,” Taiga said with a bit more determination in his voice this time as he was finally able to somehow free his legs and pull back to the headboard to sit up. Taisuke seemed still more amused than annoyed by the boy’s behavior, but who knew for how long it would remain this way.

“Then let’s see if what you have to say is important enough to make me listen,” Taisuke said, but remained right in front of the boy.

“I won’t come here anymore even if you threaten to publish the pictures you’ve taken of me.”

“Out of a sudden after you were so protective about your family's image until now? Okay spill what are you up to?”

Unfortunately Taisuke seemed to know Taiga well enough to realize that his behavior was indeed not how he would usually handle such a situation, but luckily Taiga didn’t easily blew their cover.

“I am up to getting my own life back. As much as I want to protect others I also have to protect myself and for now I will protect myself from you.”

Taiga made a move to get off the bed and to Juri’s surprise Taisuke didn’t stop him. All he did was sitting up on his knees and turn towards Taiga’s direction as the boy stopped in front of the bed.

If Taisuke let him go like this they wouldn’t get any proof, but that would be actually an outcome Juri preferred. After all they still had a plan B up their sleeve to stop Taisuke from actually releasing the pictures he was holding on to.

“Go on and publish those pictures, I don’t care,” Taiga said before he turned towards the chair he had put his bag on, but on that move Taisuke finally got up making Juri take a tighter grip on his phone.

When Taiga wanted to take his bag Taisuke took him by the shoulders and turned him around. The weird thing was that he was still carrying a faint smile and it gave Juri the creeps somehow.

“So you want to walk out here, make me publish the pictures and then pretend like your life is completely back to normal like this? As if you haven’t done anything bad?”

“Anything bad? I never did anything bad! Even the pictures you took wouldn’t be anything bad if my father wouldn’t be famous.”

“But well he is, so I advise you to think about this once more.”

Taiga slashed his hands away and turned to the chair once more, taking his bag before he turned back to him. “Sorry that won’t happen. I’ve decided already.”

He turned away from the older one and vanished out of the picture for a moment, but while Taiga had turned his back towards Taisuke, Juri could see the sudden change on the other one’s face and he almost jumped out of his hiding place before Taisuke even moved.

His expression had turned into something dangerous before he also vanished out of the picture and then Juri could hear them both arguing obviously close to the door.

“Taisuke, I said no!” Taiga was heard this time louder than before. “Let go!”

But he didn’t and then Juri could see them coming back into the picture as Taisuke pulled Taiga back towards the bed. The boy was struggling now to break free, but the other one threw him on the bed without even listening to him.

Juri’s stomach slowly started turning as he realized that he would now after all have to try his best in keeping calm while they would get the proof they needed. But there was another realization which made him fear that Taisuke wouldn’t stop no matter how much Taiga was fighting back. He had threatened Taiga with the pictures and now that he didn’t have anything left to threaten him with he still tried to keep Taiga there instead of publishing the pictures. So he tried everything to stop Taiga from leaving him. What had started as a game had become like an addiction to the other one. Like a stalker he tried to tie Taiga to him so that he couldn’t break free. Even if he needed to get even more violent than he did until now he wouldn’t let him go.

The next sound that was heard was a gasp from Taiga as the other one ripped his shirt open. Taiga tried to turn away, but Taisuke’s hands were already on his pants and before Taiga could even think about kicking him he had pulled them away leaving him with just his underwear. The moment he wanted to get rid of that one as well though Taiga kicked him against the hips without a warning, making Taisuke almost fall of the bed to the back.

“Taisuke, come on this is leading to nothing! I told you it’s over so stop this nonsense!”

“I will decide when it’s over,” Taisuke growled before he got up and pulled his belt out of his pants before he wanted to get on the bed once more.

Taiga was up once more though and he obviously aimed for the door no matter if with or without clothes, but once more Taisuke was faster and this time he pulled him back on his hair and didn’t even stop dragging him as Taiga started slashing around, cursing loudly at him.

Juri was pacing up and down the back of the corridor nonstop, while not taking his eyes off the screen even once. Taiga had told him that he would call if he needed him to come, but why didn’t he call him yet then? Wasn’t it enough already? The situation had escalated already, there was no need to take it even further, especially with them still having another card to play.

Taisuke tried to tie Taiga’s hand to the bedframe with his belt, but the boy was struggling too much.

“Taisuke snap out of it!”

The sound of Taiga’s voice made Juri jolt. While he was shouting before he was begging now and Taisuke suddenly got a grip on his hands as Taiga was obviously about to give up on fighting back.

“I won’t let you go,” Taisuke replied in a cold voice. When he tried once more to pin the younger one’s hands to the headboard Taiga pulled one hand free and slashed it over the latter’s face with his nails leaving red marks.

“I am not some object you can own,” Taiga hissed at him. His voice got ready to break and Juri feared he would break his phone if he took an even tighter grip on it.

Taisuke leant down to him with a dark look on his words. “I own you already though.”

Giving up on somehow making Taiga immobile Taisuke let the belt drop and forced Taiga to turn on his stomach, but the boy started struggling immediately as Taisuke reached out for his underwear.

This time though Taiga was once more fighting back with all might and he lifted his elbow hitting the other one against the head and then Juri saw his look towards the phone as he was able to turn around. He was obviously about to say something, but then Juri gasp as Taisuke suddenly lunged out and punched Taiga in the face making him yelp and curl up on the bed as the latter kept lunging out for him.

Juri let his phone drop without giving it another thought and rushed down the corridor as fast as he could. He had seen how Taiga had tried to make the other one stop, but Taisuke wouldn’t even listen to anything the boy was saying anyway.

When Juri reached the room he could hear Taiga yelling even before entering. Just when he had ripped the door open though something in the boy’s voice had changed and when he jumped inside the room he realized what it was, but he was too late.

“DON’T!”

But of course Taisuke didn’t listen, he might not even have noticed Juri’s presence as he had grabbed the small glass vase which was placed on the nightstand for decoration and shattered it against Taiga’s head.

“TAIGA!” Juri’s appalled shouting made Taisuke finally snap out of it and he realized the boy’s presence, but Juri didn’t even care for him as he jumped on the bed and pushed Taisuke out of the way with such a force that the other one almost fell off it.

Taiga had turned away from Taisuke as he attacked him, but when Juri reached out for him there was no reaction. He turned him around, but as he had expected he was unconscious, blood running from his temple to his neck.

“Taiga, come on wake up! Damn it!”

Juri reached out for his pocket, cursing as he remembered that he had dropped his phone in the corridor. He jumped up from the bed and pulled out Taiga’s phone from the pillows, already dialing the number for the ambulance as the phone got suddenly snatched away from him.

“So this is what all this was about,” Taisuke said as he realized that they were recording everything.

“Give me back the phone you asshole!”

“And let you use this footage against me? As if!”

Taisuke wanted to delete the footage, but to his obvious surprise he got tackled down by Juri.

“I SAID GIVE ME THE PHONE!” Juri yelled at him furiously and Taisuke seemed too shocked to stop him this time and just when Juri started talking about someone being hurt and them needing an ambulance Taisuke slowly turned towards the bed as if he hadn’t even realized until now that he could have actually killed Taiga with his move.

When Juri hang up Taisuke turned to face him, but before he could say anything Juri lunged out and gave him a harsh punch in the face. “I have no time to deal with an idiot like you now, but to make sure that Taiga will be safe from you from now on I will make this clear!” Juri started and Taisuke seemed to have switched into a state of shock and all he did was looking back and forth between Juri and Taiga. “This footage is not just on this phone, so no matter what you try we will be able to make it public if necessary. So if you make Taiga’s photos public, this footage will follow immediately. And in case you think that doesn’t matter, because you are not famous or in any way important to any other human being in the first place,” Juri shot as him still ready to punch him once more as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out several photos. Instead of handing them to the other one though he threw them at his face so that Taisuke turned away as the pictures fell all around his feet.

When he took a closer look at them and lifted one up he gasp.

“The first time I’ve seen you I thought you looked familiar. Luckily I remembered why. You know if sexual abuse isn’t a bad enough crime for you maybe those drug dealing pictures will make you think twice about publishing your pictures or I will make sure that the police spends you a visit.”

When Taiga and Juri had come up with their plan they had talked about what Taiga knew about Taisuke and they had actually followed him around a few evenings to find anything useful against him and then Juri remembered where he had seen him before as he entered Ryosuke’s bar. He was the drug dealer getting the drugs for Ryosuke he was selling to the customers.

They had been able to actually take pictures from their dealing and it would lead to a quite long jail sentences if those pictures made it to the police and the way Taisuke went pail he realized that as well.

“I say this just once so listen carefully!” Juri hissed at him. “I want you to get out of here now and make sure you’ll never get close to Taiga ever again. If I see you even looking at him I will hand these pictures to the police together with the footage and trust me no one will even care for the photos of a criminal so just try and publish your pictures, I will take my time laughing at you then.”

Juri was shaking through all the rage building up inside of him, but also through his worries about Taiga, because all he wanted was Taisuke vanishing already and the ambulance to arrive.

“So do you have anything left to say? Because if not get lost!”

Luck seemed to be with Juri as Taisuke didn’t seem to get angry on his aggressive behavior. The older one seemed to be shocked of his own actions, finally realizing how much his possessive behavior had blinded him, but it was too late to apologize. At least they could hope he wouldn’t try the same with someone else and that he wouldn’t actually try to go after Taiga once more.

With slow steps Taisuke grabbed his things and made it towards the door. He turned back to Taiga once more with a look which could almost be called apologizing, but Juri didn’t care and when Taisuke finally left without another word he jumped on the bed, lifting Taiga a bit up on his lap, holding him protectively in his arms.

“Idiot, you should have called earlier,” Juri whispered as he kept stroking over the boy’s hair. When he could hear the sound of the ambulance sirens getting closer he rested his forehead on the latter’s hair with a relieved sigh while he searched for Taiga’s hand and squeezed it carefully. “From now on I promise to protect you.”

When there was a movement against his hand he lifted his head and took a worried look at the other one, but Taiga still had his eyes closed, but his body was moving slightly.

“Idiot, you already protected me,” Taiga whispered in a weak voice on which Juri pulled him even more in his embrace, receiving a groan in return on which he loosened his grip once more before he placed a kiss on the latter’s head.

“But it seems like I suck at doing so.”

“At least you had a quite cool entrance?”

Juri shook his head on Taiga’s teasing tone. The boy seemed to have trouble to even concentrate on talking so Juri just kept stroking over his hair, while Taiga kept his eyes still closed but had a faint smile on his lips now.

In the matter of weeks they had grown closer, then had cut ties just to help pulling each other out of their dark places in the end. Now all they could do was hope that they could prevent the same from happening again, but as long as they had each other they would make sure to stop the other one from pulling away to such a dark place ever again.

***

“Taiga told us yesterday. It’s such a shame that you are quitting, especially because you two are getting along so good.”

Juri remained silent for a moment on the words of Taiga’s mother, because what he had expected when he had come here was a furious couple scolding him for breaking their stuff and then just quitting without notice, but both of them had welcomed him with a bright smile, making him feel even more uncomfortable out of a sudden. That he was quitting was indeed what he had told Taiga, because he had finally decided that it was time to make a change. He should find a way to support his family, but also find some time for his own life.

“What exactly did he tell you?” Juri asked carefully.

This time it was Taiga’s father who spoke. “He just said that you two spoke about your job choices and while Taiga also said he would try another kind of job, you were also trying to find something new and you are both still young you should take all the opportunities you can get!”

The honest support of both parents was almost startling Juri, but it wasn’t like they knew about what had happened to Taiga or that he worked as a host in the first place. Juri had had a long talk with Taiga the day after everything had finally calmed down, but of course they had made sure to keep the ride to the hospital a secret to Taiga's family. They had to stitch Taiga’s wound, but luckily there had been no bigger damage and he had been allowed to leave right away. They had spent the rest of the night in a normal hotel and Taiga had made up an excuse why he had been injured.

The talk they had brought them both to the conclusion that they had to change a lot on both sides if they wanted to continue together and there was no way they would just leave the other one alone like this anyway.

“But I guess you will come by from time to time?” Taiga’s mother asked hopefully and Juri gave her an embarrassed smile. “Of course I will.”

Even if Taiga chose to move to another place at some point what they had discussed as well, he would make sure to come visit them sometimes. Especially because they had already decided that they wouldn’t keep their relationship a secret from both of their parents for long.

Juri thanked them once more before he excused himself, but he paused at the shelf in the hallway where he had destroyed the expensive glass figure.

“What a shame, right? Usually Taiga is never clumsy and the one time he is it has to be such a bad timing?”

Juri looked at her with a questioning look as the woman pointed at the empty shelf. “Taiga accidently bumped into the shelf as he came home without turning the lights on and the glass figure dropped to the ground.”

“He apologized so often that it got on our nerves at some point,” his father said with a laughter.

Juri couldn’t tell if he felt thankful or maybe even proud of Taiga’s decision to take the fault for this incidence on his side, but nevertheless he flashed them another smile before he left the house.

When Juri stepped out on the street he wanted to meet Taiga at his old club. He had gone there as usually the evening before, but he had also made clear that he would quit as soon as he could and the job itself wasn’t actually something Juri disliked that much and with Taisuke not showing up for the whole week already they felt a bit safer already.

When he looked down the street he spotted Hokuto on his typical way back home, carrying two conbini bags. When he spotted the other one he waved, but through that move a few oranges fell out of the bag. Juri already moved to help him, but then there was another person coming out of the other street and handed one of the dropped oranges back to him. Hokuto froze for a moment as Taiga faced him with a smile, which was obviously something Hokuto couldn’t process.

Juri decided to stay back for now as Taiga started talking to him. Seeing Hokuto’s smile growing brighter with every word they exchanged Juri had to smile as well. They were definitely on a way brighter path than before, both of them.