As Isshi slowly walked through the house, he could hear the soft voices coming from just outside the back door, voices that were still devoid of laughter and lightness, he closed his eyes and sighed, “How long will it take for you to heal?”
The property was older, but suitable enough for the small family; a decent sized house, with three bedrooms and a well-appointed kitchen, it wasn’t as grand or as stylish as Sakurai’s property, but Isshi wasn’t looking for that. This was to be their second home, not a vacation retreat, he wanted his family to feel just as secure here as they were in Tokyo.
The barn at the back of the property was set up for smaller farm animals; goats or sheep, and there was a chicken coop just outside the barn doors. When they arrived, Isshi and the boys went through the house, but as soon as Ruimaru saw that there was a barn, he asked Isshi if they could go out to check for any signs of feral cats, all three hoping to find a litter of kittens.
Isshi had taken Davina’s suggestion of buying his own property, after Ruimaru voiced his fear of staying in the city, due to the brutal chain of events with Masamoto Umeji. Contacting Sakurai’s realtor and explaining what he had in mind had taken a few days for the woman to find three different properties, all located near Sakurai’s estate and Karyu’s former family store, for Isshi and the boys to inspect.
Isshi knew that the recovery process for Byou, Ruimaru and Karyu would be long and difficult, though he was most concerned about Byou, the young man having suffered the worst of the abuse. The saving grace for the small family was Karyu; he had stepped into the role of being their strength in the days after the rescue.
“Sir?” Karyu came into the house, “Yes love?” Isshi was brought back from the day dreaming search for the means to heal his young men. “We’ve met the neighbors; would you like to come and speak to them?”
“Neighbors? Have you decided that this is our new home, without me?” he teased. “No… well sort of, but please…just come with me.” Karyu reached out and took Isshi’s hand, leading him through the yard and out to the road. Turning the corner around the barn, Isshi saw Byou and Ruimaru leaning over the short hedge and speaking to a middle-aged couple, who were seated in a horse drawn cart.
“Konnichi wa, Shinohara-san. I am Saito Mahiro and this is my wife Naho, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” The couple bowed their heads lightly.
Isshi returned the bow, “Hajimemashite, Saito-san. I see you’ve met my young friends; I hope they have not inconvenienced you on your business?”
Saito laughed, “Quite the opposite, they’re lovely young men. I am told you may purchase this property?”
Isshi chuckled, “Well, according to Karyu here, they have decided for me. We have yet to discuss the particulars, but it seems that they have overruled my opinion.”
“It would be delightful to have neighbors again; this property has been vacant for a few years now.”
The couple chatted with Isshi for a few more minutes, then excused themselves and drove away, leaving a very excited Ruimaru and Karyu. “Sir, they said they have two mama cats that will be having babies soon! Maybe we could choose one for a friend for Emi?” Ruimaru was leaning hard into Isshi. “We’ll need to discuss things a bit more before I’m ready to make my decision.” Isshi reminded the young man. “Yes, Sir.”
Isshi had noticed that Byou barely said a word the entire day. “Byou-kun, what do you think of the house? Is this somewhere you’d feel comfortable living for a time?” The young man shrugged, “Whatever what you decide, Sir.”
With a sharp tug of his sleeve, Ruimaru looked up at Isshi, mouthing the words ‘I’m worried’, then nodding at Byou. “Yes, Angel. I understand.”
Byou leaned his head against Karyu’s shoulder and closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would take him during the short drive back to Sakurai’s home where they were staying. Ruimaru was sitting in front with Isshi, when he pulled the visor down and looked in the mirror to the back seat, “Is he asleep yet?” he whispered to Karyu, who nodded.
“Isshi, I’m scared that Byou-kun is … well that he might hurt himself.” Ruimaru whined to his Dominant. “He needs to see a therapist, soon Sir.” Isshi had thought the same thing even before they had gone in search of a new home, asking Davina and Madame F to inquire in the community for a suitable doctor to treat Byou.
“Angel, I’m sure Mistress has found someone by now. It will take a few days to complete the purchase of our new home, so you will have to be patient and keep watch over Byou-kun.” Isshi patted Ruimaru’s leg, “We’ll get him the help he needs.”
Uruha watched Alfie pounce on the unsuspecting Hal, as the man stood in the kitchen making dinner, the kitten climbing up the man’s pant leg. “Alfie! Stop you little monster! Kou, come and get your fur child off my leg please.” Uruha giggled, “Sorry, you’re on your own mister.”
He listened as his boyfriend talked to the kitten, trying to bargain with Alfie, “I’ll give you chicken if you stop using me as a scratching post!” Taking pity on Hal, Uruha went to the kitchen to save the man from Alfie’s needle-sharp baby claws.
“You’re just starving aren’t you Alfina? Dad won’t give you even a tiny bit of chicken, he’s so mean.”
“Alfina?” Hal laughed, “is that her full name now?”
“Well, when parents get mad at their kids, don’t they always use their full name? Alfina is her full name, not that she’d ever cause any problems,” Uruha nuzzled the kitten who promptly smacked him in the face with an extra-large paw, “hey! I’m the one that loves you!” Uruha put the kitten on the floor.
Hal slid his arms around Uruha, “Did she scratch you?” he nuzzled his boyfriend’s neck, “No,” Uruha laughed, as he tried to wiggle away from Hal’s tickling mustache. “What’s for dinner?”
“Baked chicken, rice pilaf and fresh veggies,” Hal turned back to his cooking, “Hey, I heard that there’s another studio event coming up at the end of the month at the HBG, are we going?”
Uruha sat at the small dining table, “Sure, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t, unless you have other plans that night?”
“Nope, nothing. The band will be in the studio after that, but we’re good until the end of September.”
Uruha set the table, “I haven’t really seen anyone lately, we’re just in studio practicing, I think we should go…if it’s not already mandatory.”
“What would you think about inviting Reita and Ayato over for dinner?” Uruha asked, surprising Hal.
“Sure, I really don’t know Reita that well, and I’ve only seen Ayato once I think,” Hal paused, “Is there any specific reason why you want to invite them to dinner? I mean, when Tomo and Ruki came, you almost had a heart attack.” He pointed out.
Uruha blushed, “Don’t remind me, I guess I just want to be more social, at least with the band. We should invite your friends at some point, maybe this summer we could have a barbeque with all of our guys.”
Hal paused the game and put down his controller, turning to face Uruha, “That would be amazing. Thank you.” Cupping Uruha’s face, Hal kissed him softly.
“Um, what was that for?” Hal loved that he could still make Uruha blush.
“For being a beautiful and gracious person,” he kissed Uruha again, “Besides, do I have to have a reason to kiss you?” With no warning, Uruha was suddenly on his back, Hal looming over him, “Let me show you my reasons for kissing you.” Uruha knew that there would be more than just kissing going on.
“Are we going or not? I don’t have to work so there’s no reason for us not to go.” Uta was on his way to a temper tantrum.
Sakurai narrowed his eyes, “I never said we couldn’t go, but if you keep acting like a spoilt child…” he left the rest of his statement hanging.
“How am I being a spoilt child? We haven’t gone out in weeks…all either one of us has been doing is working. Isshi’s still gone, Davina and Madame F are busy with whatever, and you’re always in the studio. Is it too much to ask for a simple night out?”
“Do you know for certain that you’re not working the event? Has Taka held his meeting and assigned duties yet?” Uta looked away, he in fact didn’t know if he was working or not.
“No, I don’t know if I’m working.”
Turning away from Uta, Sakurai hid a crafty smile, “I suggest that before you go any further with this childish tantrum, you call Taka and ask if you’re working. If you’re not, then I will consider attending the event.”
“I hate you.”
“I hate you too.”
Uta walked over and hugged Sakurai from behind, “Have you or Davina heard from Isshi in the last few days?”
“No, I haven’t, and as far as I know, neither has Davina. I suspect they have found a home, but I’m sure they’re in no hurry to come back to the city.” Pushing his chair back, Sakurai patted his lap, Uta happy to oblige.
“The meeting that you had with Aoyama and Nakamura, what was that all about, or are you not allowed to talk about it?” Uta laid his head on Sakurai’s shoulder.
The meeting with Detective Aoyama and Nakamura Taizo had been strained. Nakamura wanted to leave the country, and the community at large. Madame F, Davina and Sakurai were not ready to let the man go so easily.
“It was nothing more than a formality really. Nakamura wanted to leave the community, both Madame F and myself rejected that request. He also was looking to leave the country, but Aoyama also rejected that; evidently there will be a trial at some point.” This was the most disturbing information that came out of the meeting.
“A trial? You can’t be serious? They’re not strong enough to go through a trial!” Uta jumped to his feet, “You need to call Aoyama, there has to be another way to deal with this, Acchan, Byou’s not strong enough to testify!”
“Baby, I don’t have a say in it…neither does Isshi. It’s the simple fact that in order to put those monsters away for life, Byou, Karyu and Ruimaru will have to testify before a jury. All we can do is be there for them.”
Sitting on the floor of Sakurai’s barn, Byou had his head in Karyu’s lap, the boy gently stroking his hair, Ruimaru leaning against his shoulder. Isshi had sent them out, so he could speak with the realtor and make an offer on the house that they had chosen, he knew that the barn was a sort of a sanctuary for the young men.
“I think we made the right choice, ne? Isshi seems to like the house and if we can get a new kitten, everything will be perfect.” Karyu had continued to be the strength for his co-lovers, always offering comfort whenever it was needed. Neither Ruimaru or Byou answered their friend.
Ruimaru sat up, “Do you think this is far enough from the city, that they won’t find us?”
Karyu sighed, “Ru, they’re all in jail, they’re not going to come looking for us, you know that Detective Aoyama wouldn’t let that happen.”
Ruimaru leaned his head back down, “I suppose.”
“Byou?” Karyu carefully swept the man’s hair out of his eyes, not surprised to see that he had been crying. “When we go back to the city, Sir said he would find a therapist for us. I promise, it’s going to be okay.”
Byou slowly nodded, “Mmm.” Ruimaru leaned down and laid his head next to Byou’s, reaching out to hold his hand. “I don’t want to go back to the city, ever. I just want to live out here in the country, just us…nobody else. I don’t want to go to the clubs, I don’t care about seeing Mistress or Madame F. We should always live here,” he turned his head and looked up at Karyu, “do you think Sir will allow that?”
“You don’t care about seeing Uta or Sakurai-san, ever? What about Kato-senpai and Ormond-senpai? What about Zeus? You really don’t ever want to go home?” Karyu couldn’t understand what he was hearing.
“No, I don’t. I don’t think Byou wants to go back either. It’s dangerous in the city, there could be someone else that wants to take us away from Isshi, or that wants to kill Sir, how could you be okay with that Karyu?”
“Because what you’re saying is childish and stupid,” Karyu snapped. Moving his legs so that Byou and Ruimaru would sit up, Karyu pushed himself up from the straw covered barn floor, “I know you both were abused terribly, I was too. But you know what? I’m not letting those assholes win! There’s no way I’m going to hide for the rest of my life. If you want to stay here forever, fine! I’ll go live with someone else, but I’m not going to let what happened to us change my life.” Karyu stomped out of the barn.
He ran to the house, throwing open the door, “Excuse me.” He bowed to Isshi and the realtor before going to his room and slamming the door. With a humble pardon, the realtor left the house, “We can take care of the final paperwork once you return to the city.” She assured Isshi there would be no issues going forward with the purchase of the house.
“Karyu, may I come in?” a muffled yes, and Isshi opened the door, to find Karyu on his stomach on the bed, his face buried in a pillow. Sitting on the side of the bed, Isshi started to rub Karyu’s back, “Can you explain to me why you barged in and ran to your room?” The boy shook his head.
“Stop acting so foolishly and tell me what the problem is.” Karyu could hear the sharpness in Isshi’s tone, knowing that he must obey.
Rolling over and sitting up, he wiped the tears from his eyes, he looked tired and dejected, “It’s Ru and Byou, Sir. They don’t seem to want to … I don’t know, move forward with their lives, they just want to stay here and hide. They don’t care about going home, they don’t care about ever seeing Mistress or the senpais, they don’t even care about seeing Uta, they just want to hide.” Karyu huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.
The Dominant’s face softened, “Is that so? And what did you say to that?”
“I told them they were childish and stupid and I said that if they wanted to stay here forever, then I’d find somewhere else to go. That I wasn’t going to allow what happened to stop me from living, and I will. I’ll ask for you to void my contract, and perhaps Mistress could find me another Dominant.”
As Karyu was saying this, his eyes were filling with tears, his lip trembled and he started to shake. “You don’t truly mean that, do you? You would leave my side?” Isshi was surprised at the confidence (albeit shaky) that Karyu was showing him.
“I don’t want to leave you, no Sir. But if you intend on living in the new house permanently, then I have no other choice. I don’t want to be separated from our community, and I refuse to let what happened to us bind me to anyone. I want to live, Isshi.”
Even with the shaking voice, Isshi could see that the young man was determined to rise above the abuse that was dealt to him. “I think we need to have a family meeting; would you please go and retrieve Ruimaru and Byou.” Isshi stood up and left the room.
It took Karyu a little convincing to get the other two men to come into the house, “Isshi says we’re to have a family meeting, you don’t have a choice so get up and get moving,” he snapped, then walked away.
Sitting on the couch next to Isshi, Ruimaru and Byou came into the house and sat down on the floor. “What is this about, Sir?” Ruimaru asked dully.
“Yours and Byou’s attitudes, is what this is about. Karyu tells me you want to hide from the world, never to return to the city, to our community and back to our normal lives, is this true?”
Ruimaru glared at Karyu, “You’re a snitch, you had to go run back to Sir, didn’t you? You can’t just leave us alone.” The young man started to get up, “SIT DOWN!” Isshi snarled, “You will not move until I tell you to do so, is that clear?” Karyu was so shocked at Isshi’s voice, that he leaned away from the man.
Covering his eyes with his hand and pinching the bridge of his nose, Isshi took a deep breath before he spoke again. “Now, you will listen to me carefully, and you will do as I say. If you choose not to follow my instructions, then we will revisit the contracts that we have signed. I will give you ten seconds to decide.” He leaned back on the couch, crossing his arms over his chest.
Nudging Ruimaru, Byou whispered in his ear, “What are we going to do?”
“Five seconds gentlemen.”
Ruimaru glared at Karyu, “Fine, we will stay and listen.” He wasn’t happy.
“Now, Karyu told me that neither one of you wants to go back to the city, as in you want to make this our permanent home, is that right?”
The two exchanged looks, “Yes, Sir. I don’t feel that living in the city is safe any more. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us, what if someone else tries to kill you and take us? No, Isshi…we don’t want to go back.” Ruimaru said with certainty.
“What do you propose I do? Keep two homes, dividing my time between them, you and Byou living alone while I’m in the city with Karyu?”
Neither of them looked up at Isshi. “Would you rather I void our contracts? I see no other option; I will not be held hostage by my submissives.”
The looks on the young men’s faces was that of panic, “Wait! You don’t mean that, you can’t be serious, Isshi. You would void our contracts over this?” Karyu had grabbed Isshi’s arm.
“I am deadly serious. I will not be swayed in this. You three must come to an understanding, that everyone is agreed upon, or I will seriously consider voiding all contracts, and handing you over to Mistress Davina and Madame F, to find you suitable Dominants.” Isshi stood up, “You have until morning to come to a decision.” Without another word or look, Isshi turned and walked to his bedroom, slamming the door.
Byou’s mouth was hanging open, “Did he just…?”
Karyu whipped around, “This is YOUR fault! I swear if he voids our contracts because you two are selfish, I will never speak to either of you again!” As Isshi did, Karyu got up and ran to his bedroom, also slamming the door.
Looking at Ruimaru, Byou was stunned, “What do we do now, Ru?”