Killing her was easy. Eerily easy. Throughout Tadashi’s life he’d been exposed to countless displays of brutality. He’d watched his childhood friend beaten until his eyes turned dull. He’d watched his master torture and play with his skateboarding partners until they were carted away in a stretcher. Tadashi had watched it all and he’d said nothing. Did nothing. Felt nothing.
This was different. Killing her hadn’t been brutal. It wasn’t slow torment like the kind Ainosuke favored. It was quick. Efficient. Simple. There had been a short rush as her body slammed into the windshield. A loud thud as she toppled over the car. Then it was silent. From the moment his foot hit the gas to the moment of impact, Tadashi had only seconds to reconsider his choices. It hadn’t been enough time. Now, as he looked at the body, he worried that maybe he’d made the wrong choice.
Ainosuke had never been his. From the dawn of their relationship to the night Tadashi had found the ring, he’d known they were from different worlds. When their lips first touched under the stolen moonlight, Tadashi had known that Ainosuke would never truly be his. When his master had first taken him in the dim candlelight, Tadashi had known they’d never be each other’s. Even when they had explored each other’s bodies until there was nothing left to find, Tadashi had felt the impenetrable wall between them.
Tadashi had known his entire life that Ainosuke would never belong to him the way he belonged to Ainosuke. Tadashi had chosen to give himself body and soul to his lover, but Ainosuke’s soul had been sold long before he was even born. Yes, Tadashi had known this his entire life, but he had never understood until he held that cold diamond in his hand and felt himself crumble under its weight.
The ring was a curse on his beloved master. Tadashi may have been born to serve, but Ainosuke was wild. For years the witches that reigned over their home had attempted to tame him. From the day Ainosuke could speak they had beat, tortured, and cast their wicked spells over him until he obeyed their every word. Still, it had not destroyed the raging fire that lived in his eyes. The fire that took every breath of oxygen and bite of fuel to grow hotter until it could finally melt away his restraints, but fire could not melt a diamond.
Tadashi was there the day Ainosuke proposed. Tadashi was always there. His master’s fiancé had learned to ignore his presence, as much of the Shindo household had over the years. In their eyes Tadashi had died the same night they believed they had put out Ainosuke’s fire. Tadashi was nothing more than a ghost that haunted the Shindo Manor. A spectral figure that could be seen but could not impact the world around him. For years, Tadashi had believed the same. He’d convinced himself he was content as a member of the emotionally undead. After all, Ainosuke was alive enough for the both of them.
The man who proposed that night was not his Ainosuke. As he placed the ring upon her finger his eyes did not twinkle. Sparks did not fly. The fire that had warmed Tadashi for so many years grew cold. Tadashi thought he was sure to die with it gone.
Afterward, Tadashi offered himself to his master. He desperately searched for any piece of himself he could give to him that would reignite the flames of passion that warmed their room. The effort was futile. Tadashi couldn’t find anything to offer that he hadn’t already. There wasn’t enough of him to give. Tadashi, who was only half a human, could not be Ainosuke’s kindling.
Tadashi was prepared to give into despair when his master reminded him of what he was for. Tadashi was made to serve. Between touches and kisses Adam had whispered a quiet plea.
“Fix it, Tadashi.”
Tadashi was a good dog. No matter what the command, Tadashi would always do what he was told. So Tadashi fixed it.
It wasn’t the first time he’d hit one of Ainosuke’s rivals with a car. The first time he thought it was an accident, but now he thought it was destined. Tadashi had learned what it felt like to slam the brakes as a body flew across the hood of his vehicle. That time his victim had walked away, and that was fortunate. Despite his master’s disdain for the red-haired boy, his life had helped to guide him back down the right path. Tadashi had seen echoes of their past innocence in the younger skaters, and he was pretty sure Ainosuke had seen it too. It was why he’d been drawn to them in the first place. It was why he foolishly believed Snow could have been his Eve.
Tadashi had let his master go on that journey, but he’d always known the truth. There was no innocence left for them now. They were rotten all the way through, poisoned by the forbidden fruit they’d tasted so many years ago. Destined for corruption by God’s disgust at everything they were.
The woman he was following had not been corrupted in the way he’d been. She was normal, innocent, and had given no reason for Tadashi to dislike her. In fact, Tadashi was almost certain she was much like him. A faithful dog, simply doing as she was ordered. That’s what life was, after all. There were those that gave orders and those that received them.
Tadashi had no reason to wish harm on Ainosuke’s fiancé, but this wasn’t about her. It wasn’t even about him. Tadashi was just following orders.
As a dog, Tadashi was good at tracking. He was the Shindo family’s personal driver and thus knew every family member’s daily schedule from the time they woke up to the moment they went to bed. The day Ainosuke proposed that knowledge extended to her.
Gym - 6AM, she ate a snack there.
Work at the law firm - 7AM
Lunch - 12PM, Usually a veggie bowl and a small nonfat latte.
Back to work until 5PM, when Tadashi usually picked her up to have dinner with Ainosuke.
Home - 8PM
Sometimes she would go out afterwards. Go to the bar with friends or take a walk around the neighborhood. Tadashi knew this because he’d been the one to clear her of any scandal before the Shindos would approve of the proposal.
This was how Tadashi knew exactly what road she would take to walk back from her favorite bar. She’d been out in celebration of the proposal. The irony wasn’t lost on Tadashi. She was happy. She’d followed her orders successfully. Her life was secured now. Ainosuke’s status meant comfort and prestige for the rest of her life. She didn’t know the real him. If she had the chance she’d no doubt want nothing to do with him, and then his master would have to suffer another rejection. Another blow against his name. Worse, she might accept him and keep him on a leash unsuited to him. Tadashi could not have that.
She didn’t suspect anything when she glanced towards Tadashi’s headlights. His windows were tinted, his car nondescript. She stepped out into the road to cross, like she would any other night.
Tadashi hit the gas. She didn’t even have time to scream. At the last second she turned to face the car, frozen in his path. He saw her eyes the moment before impact: wide brown eyes flooded with fear. He braced as they hit, listening as the body toppled over the hood. It was different than when he’d hit the kid. This time the sound of impact was louder, longer, and followed by a heavy, loaded silence.
When he was sure she wasn’t going to get back up, Tadashi got out of the car. He’d brought a shovel to finish the job if he had to, but the moment he saw her he was confident it wouldn’t be necessary. Her neck was snapped to the side, dangling like a doll’s after an encounter with a violent toddler. Her eyes were still wide open, glassy and glimmering with the reflection of the street lights. Tadashi could see himself in them. He quickly looked away from them. He kept himself from feeling anything by focusing on his mission. That’s what he’d always done. It had taken years of practice in suppressing everything he felt to prepare him for this, but he was ready now. He looked over the body for his prize. The diamond, still shining on her ring finger. The ring had been Ainosuke’s mother’s and Tadashi refused to let it vanish along with the body. With cautiously gloved hands, Tadashi knelt down and removed it, tucking the precious object into his pocket.
Then he got to work. He wasn’t very strong, but he had technique. He wrapped the body in plastic and carefully hoisted it up into the back of his car. He worked quickly, knowing he wouldn’t have much time. It wasn’t a busy street, but it wasn’t deserted either. In the past week, Tadashi had counted approximately one passerby every half hour. If someone came by and broke the rule, his life as he knew it would certainly end.
Tadashi’s timing was perfect. She was in the car before anyone else could pass them by and Tadashi settled into the long road before him. He’d chosen the perfect spot to dispose of the body. It was hours away, cliffs that stretched over the ocean, gateways to the edge of the world. If the waves didn’t dispose of her, the creatures that lived amongst the rocks and the plummeting depths were certain to.
The sun hung just below the horizon as Tadashi dragged her body out to the cliff side. Rich, red light flooded the landscape around him.
He kept her wrapped in the tarp. There was something bubbling inside of him. A tiny, disobedient part of him that couldn’t handle this. A part of him that felt things more strongly than Tadashi would ever allow. He thought that maybe if he looked at her then that part of him would win.
Tadashi had seen so much violence, but he’d never seen this. He’d never done this. Not even his master had taken a life, though Tadashi had spent much of his waking hours concerned about the day he might. Who would have guessed that Tadashi would be the first of them to cross that threshold.
He pushed the body over the edge. As she fell the tarp came undone. Her long hair billowed out around her and her hand flew up like she was reaching out to be saved. For a moment, Tadashi thought she was alive. Then, her body hit the rocks and tumbled into the ocean below.
Tadashi pulled away from the cliffs and promptly threw up.
She was reported missing right away. The Shindo household was in a frenzy. Reporters camped out in the garden for days, circling like vultures in wait for the death of someone’s reputation. They didn’t care who went down first, as long as the story was juicy.
The rumors were unstoppable. Tadashi spent hours in the comments section of the online news coverage. While the official theory was that she took off of her own accord, plenty of people had their own ideas. Many of them assumed that Ainosuke had killed her himself. To Tadashi’s horror, in the dark crevices of the internet, a few people even speculated the truth.
In public, Ainosuke played the role of grieving fiancé to perfection. In private, it was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Despite the aunts’ wails of protest, they all knew Ainosuke would not be able to become engaged again for a very long time. To do any differently would shine poorly on their family. It would make Ainosuke look tacky, inconsiderate, and worst of all, guilty.
Tadashi and Ainosuke didn’t have time to talk. For a full week, Ainosuke didn’t have a second alone. Yet, he was sure his master suspected the truth. He’d given an order after all, and Tadashi always followed his orders.
After all, becoming his master’s loyal dog was the best Tadashi could do for him. He’d never be good enough to be his equal. Ainosuke was born into riches, prestige, and status. He was brought up to be docile, easily controlled, a pawn for his family just like Tadashi had become, and yet he wasn’t. Ainosuke shone brighter than the family jewels that adorned his horrible aunts’ necks. Brighter than the diamond ring Tadashi now wore against his own, tucked under suits and ties, hidden from investigation. Tadashi loved him with his entire soul. He had for nearly a decade. It was Tadashi’s only indulgence. He would stay by his master’s side and be his dog, always near him but never with him, secretly loving him from the shadows. Tadashi had told himself it was enough.
Ainosuke’s hands were on him the first moment they had to themselves. After only a week of futile investigation and an impatient 24 hour news cycle, the house grew quiet. The aunts had gone from shrieking at Ainosuke about the consequences of his future to being unable to stand the sight of him, which was just as well. They weren’t wanted.
It was a dim summer’s evening. The cicadas filled the thick silence that hung between them in the humid air. Tadashi’s breath escaped his lips as he thought about whether or not to say anything. Then, the only sensation Tadashi could process was heat. The rest of his breath was pulled from his chest as his body was slammed against the wall and Ainosuke’s lips were pressed against his. His vision was black as strong familiar hands flew over his clothes. A soft moan escaped his lips as his jacket was swiftly torn off his shoulders. Tadashi’s hands went numb from the tingling rush of adrenaline that coursed through his limbs, until the hands tore open his shirt and he was thrust aggressively back into reality.
With a sickening panic that caught in his throat he choked out, “Ainosuke-sama, no-!”
It was too late. Laid against his bare chest was Ainosuke’s engagement ring, shimmering in the evening light. Its presence revealed everything to his master in an instant. The cicadas cried out anxiously over the silence and Tadashi forgot to breathe. Ainosuke’s finger trailed up his chest and fondled the ring against Tadashi’s skin, “Oh puppy…”
Tadashi’s skin tingled and he said nothing, waiting to find out what Ainosuke would do. Would Tadashi be scolded? Praised? Would his master turn him over to the police?
“You took care of her, didn’t you? My loyal little dog…” Ainosuke whispered. He leaned into Tadashi as he spoke. Tadashi could feel his master’s breath on his ear.
“You ordered me to, Ainosuke-sama..” Tadashi whispered back. He hadn’t realized how breathless he was.
“I did, didn’t I?” Ainsouke hummed. “But I didn’t expect you’d do that…”
To Tadashi’s surprise, Ainosuke kissed his neck. It seemed rather inappropriate for the current topic of discussion but Tadashi leaned into it anyway. He’d do anything Ainsouke’s touch asked of him.
“Is she gone for good?” Ainosuke asked between kisses.
Tadashi nodded, whining softly. He could feel the world slip under his feet. He barely even felt himself move as Ainosuke guided his feet across the room to a large fainting couch in the corner where he could lie down. On top of him sat his beloved Ainosuke, staring down at him as though he was seeing him for the first time.
“I didn’t ask you to kill her,” Ainosuke said, and his words stung Tadashi's chest.
He was right. Tadashi could have fixed it in other ways. He’d known that. He could have made up rumors about her and shattered her reputation or found a way to have her job send her far away. He’d considered those options and dismissed them all. Right now, he couldn’t remember why.
“Puppy? Were you jealous?” Ainosuke asked, sickly sweet. His fingers trailed down Tadashi’s neck towards the ring once again.
“No, Ainosuke-sama,” he responded instantly. It wasn’t Tadashi’s place to feel things.
“Are you lying?”
Tadashi stared up at him. A million thoughts cycled through his constantly running mind, debating his best course of action. It was not his place to feel things, but he couldn’t ignore that ache in his chest that made him wish to claw out his insides whenever he saw Ainosuke with her. He couldn’t deny the visions he’d had of tearing her apart whenever her hand touched his lover’s. Tadashi may have kept those feelings inside, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew they were there.“Yes, Ainosuke-sama.”
“Elaborate, Tadashi,” Ainosuke ordered. Tadashi was exhausted. He’d barely slept since the day he’d done it. He was tired and overwhelmed and Ainosuke was sat on his lap and touching his chest and driving him crazy and he couldn’t close his eyes without seeing the face of Ainosuke’s fiancé falling into the sea.
“I hated her. I hated seeing how she upset you. I hated seeing you with her. I-“ Tadashi broke. His body was shaking now. Ainosuke was trapping him with his thighs and there was no place to escape from his gaze. “I hate that I- I’m not interesting enough to replace her.”
Relief flooded his body as Ainosuke’s lips touched his once again. He didn’t mind getting in trouble, but the fear of Ainosuke rejecting him was catastrophic.
“Oh, puppy. You killed for me. There is no one in the world more interesting than you.”
In that instance, Tadashi knew with complete certainty that he would do it again.