CHAPTER EIGHT – Worlds Apart

Ren blinked himself awake slowly.

"Ren." He looked up to see Yoh standing at his bedside.

"Asakura." He acknowledged. The guitarist smiled secretively.

"You're looking better. HoroHoro should be happy." Ren's face darkened.

"Don't say that name in my presence." He ordered. The younger Asakura twin shrugged.

"He was telling me the other day that his new boyfriend is better in bed than you." He stated. Ren scowled.

"I see those wheels turning. You want to get back at him, huh?" Yoh smirked.

"What do you have in mind?" Ren asked. Yoh motioned Ren to lean closer as he did the same in a conspiratorial way.

"Well…"

SCENE CHANGE

Ren stalked into the practice room, giving orders as he went.

"Get those cables up, Tamao. Faust, tune your instrument. Yoh, grab your guitar. Anna, get the hell out of my practice room. HoroHoro…" he paused, waiting for the Ainu to make eye contact before continuing. "GET YOUR ASS OVER TO THOSE DRUMS YOU LAZY BASTARD!"

Horo jumped at the sudden outburst, but obeyed, not wanting to tick off the singer any more. Ren went to his spot and went through some scales, hitting every note perfectly. Practice began and slowly Ren seemed to warm up to Horo. The drummer was somewhat suspicious, but doubted Ren could come up with any really bad revenge, so he shrugged it off that perhaps Ren had decided to believe him.

After practice, the others wandered off. Horo was just going when Ren grabbed his wrist, jerking him down a hall and into a room he'd never been in before.

'This is it.' He thought. 'Ren's finally decided to kill me.' His eyes went wide in surprise when instead of flaying him open Ren pinned him against a wall and crushed their lips together, ramming his tongue down Horo's throat. He stared at Ren, who had his eyes closed, completely immersed in the kiss.

When Ren pulled away, he didn't even pass a glance at Horo's face or give him any inclination as to his feelings. He simply lowered his mouth to suck delicately on the drummer's neck, making a faint moan escape him. Horo's hands grabbed hold of Ren's arms, pulling him away slightly.

"What's going on? What are you doing?" he asked. Ren rolled his eyes and tugged upwards on Horo's t-shirt, pulling it off and throwing it aside before shoving the Ainu onto the floor. Horo gasped as the singer mounted him, putting a great deal of pressure on his groin.

"What are you doing, Ren?" he repeated, more adamant this time.

"I would have thought it was obvious." The Chinese replied, leering at him openly. The bluenette blushed slightly.

"Y-You don't mean…" he trailed off. Ren leaned down next to his ear, nibbling on it before answering.

"I'm going to fuck you, HoroHoro." He whispered. Horo's blush deepened at the bluntness of Ren's comment.

"So, you've finally decided to give up your stupid excuses…and you forgive me for the other night?" he asked curiously.

"Less talk, more motion, Horokeu." The younger replied, pulling off his own shirt. Horo frowned but Ren silenced him with his mouth. He kissed back readily this time, placing his hands on Ren's hips. Ren came down hard on him now, biting and licking and ripping off clothes, making the Ainu struggle to keep up.

SCENE CHANGE

Yoh was walking down the corridor when he heard a few small moans coming from one of the rooms. He pressed his ear to the door, hearing the distinct sounds of Horo's and Ren's names. He grinned and continued walking; his plan was working perfectly.

SCENE CHANGE

Ren came inside of Horo with a loud moan, pulling out and flipping to the side to catch his breath. Horo was breathing hard, still trying to calm down from his own release. He turned to face Ren, seeing Ren was hardly paying attention to him. He tilted his head to the side curiously with a frown. He was about to say something when Ren began to pull on his clothes and headed for the door.

"Ren!" he protested. Ren turned to face him with a stony expression.

"Yes, Horo?" he asked.

"W-Well…you aren't just gonna…leave, are you?" he asked.

"Why shouldn't I?" Ren asked with a bemused look.

"Erm… We just had sex, Ren. You aren't supposed to just leave…" he struggled to put his feeling into words.

"Oh, Horo, Horo, Horo." Ren shook his head slowly as if he were talking to a child, leaning to one side and putting a hand on his hip. "We fucked. That's all that just happened. We fucked, it was good, now it's over. Nothing more." Ren said. Horo's face filled with hurt.

"But…I thought…" he murmured.

"You thought what? That I wanted to be with you? That we shared some sort of deep, spiritual bond when we fucked? My, you are a naïve little child, aren't you?" he said in an amused tone.

"Ren…" Horo said softly, eyes filling with tears.

"I have to get a shower before a meeting in thirty minutes, Horo." Ren said sternly, and turned, leaving the Ainu crying on the ground naked.

SCENE CHANGE

Ren shook his head angrily as he entered his room.

"What's the matter, Tao? Can't take your own revenge?" Gold eyes looked to the brunette on the sofa.

"Shut up, kisama. What would you know?" The singer's velvet voice ordered. The older one rose from his seat and stalked over.

"I know my otouto has been feeding you a load of bull. You're a fool if you can't see his ploy. I thought you were smarter than that. I'm not going to tell you, though. I'll leave you to figure it out on your own. Just know that whatever he's planning, it's going to be big." Hao Asakura turned on his heel and left. Ren rolled his eyes and went into his bathroom to take a shower.

SCENE CHANGE

Horo sat in his room, cursing himself for falling into Ren's trap and trying to figure it all out.

"Horo…" Yoh called with a grin as he sat down in front of the other.

"What?" the Ainu asked.

"I know what happened earlier. He left you, didn't he? Didn't I tell you? Didn't I? He can't love." He whispered. Horo turned away.

"You don't know anything about the situation. He loves me but he's too afraid to show it." He muttered.

"Maybe so…but wouldn't you rather him leave you alone and not love you at all than to love you and use you and leave you broken?" the Asakura retorted. Horo blinked, then glared.

"Stop trying to use your fucking mind tricks on me again, Yoh. Last time you did that, Ren ended up nearly dying!" he growled.

"Think about it, Horo. He's using you. You're his fuck puppet, and so very replaceable for him. He's Tao Ren. He can have anyone on the planet. Even those who don't want him for his money, power, or body can be his for the right price. Just think about it a while. You'll see the truth soon enough." Yoh said with narrowed eyes, then left. Horo closed his eyes and pondered it.

'No way.' He thought. 'Ren loves me.'

SCENE CHANGE

Lyserg Diethyl waited patiently in Ren's office, twiddling his thumbs and fidgeting. He glanced around at some of the awards hanging on the walls and hummed something to himself. He turned as the door clicked open, seeing Tao Ren stood there. He was dressed in black Chinese-style pants and black shirt with ripped-off sleeves that proclaimed, People Like You Are The Reason People Like Me Kill People.

"Hey, Ren…I like your shirt." The detective said in his usual quiet tone, smiling. Ren smirked.

"Yes. Let's get down to business." He said, seating himself. Lyserg nodded.

"Always straight to the point with you, eh?" Ren nodded in response.

"About two months ago, Jun was being used by a guy and thought I was being overprotective. She ran off with him and hasn't been seen since. The man was tallish, about 6 foot 5 and around 200 pounds by the looks of him. He had wild black hair to about chin length, and black eyes. He was fairly well built, but not near my physique. Judging from what I know he probably lifts weights somewhere. He claimed to come from here, but I highly doubt that's reliable information. He said he works for the government, but that's debatable as well." Ren informed. Lyserg jotted down some notes in a pocket notebook.

"Would you like me to try now dousing for her now, or later? Whatever is convenient for you." He said. Ren considered it a moment.

"It can wait until the weekend, when I have time to go chasing after filth like him. Jun is capable of handling herself…somewhat." He muttered.

SCENE CHANGE

HoroHoro was sat in Faust's room, staring up at the older man.

"He loves me, doesn't he?" he asked, eyes tear-filled. Faust remained quiet for a moment.

"I…I do not know…" he sighed, running a hand through his messy blonde locks.

"This world has become a place with very little certainty, Horo. We clutch for dreams to make reality, but very few accomplish them, and if they do, they lose the dream they only just gained… I cannot tell you what Ren is thinking or feeling, Horo. However, I can tell you this; sometimes it's better to live in a fantasy than face a reality." He said wisely. Horo nodded in understanding.

"Like… you and Eliza?" he ventured carefully. Faust's blue eyes closed and a small smile graced his face as he nodded slightly.

"Ah. Like meine dear Eliza." He murmured.

"So I should try to be as happy as I can with Ren, even if he doesn't love me." The drummer said.

"I assure you, the Tao loves you more than anything in the world." Two pairs of blue eyes drifted to the door, where the older Asakura twin was leaning against the doorway.

"What do you want?" Horo narrowed his eyes menacingly.

"Oh, I'm hurt. You're so harsh, HoroHoro. Truth be told, you should be more suspicious and fearful of my dear otouto than me. I mean no threat to you, but he clearly intends to cause as much damage as possible with his ploy. As I was saying, though, Ren loves you…but you hurt him deep. While he was in such a vulnerable state, Yoh got to him, just like he got to you." Hao stated.

"How do you know all this?" Horo asked.

"It's so obvious. It's been in front of your face this whole time, dip shit. However, it appears that only Anna and I are smart enough to figure it out on our own." The fire shaman pushed himself away from the door frame he'd been leaned on and left the room, allowing them to chew on what he'd said.

SCENE CHANGE

Ren frowned.

"No, no, no, no, NO! You've got it all wrong!" he said into the phone he was carrying around with him in the lounge. A pause of silence as the Tao listened to the person.

"I'm not paying for these! They're absolute shit!" Another silence, in which you could clearly hear yelling through the phone even from further away.

"I don't care if you are a world class designer! These clothes are rubbish! I'm sending them back and waiting for the next shipment. This time, they will be done correctly or you're fired! I'll e-mail you some designs I'd like you to take a look at. They're a general idea of what I want." Another, longer silence.

"This is not a debatable issue. Either you make them, or you're fired. End of story…" Ren trailed off as Horo slumped in and grabbed a beer out of the mini fridge.

"I've got to go. Get those designs completed." He clicked the phone off before any protest could be made and tossed it onto one of the sofas carelessly, sashaying over to Horo with cat-like grace. The Ainu ignored Ren's approach, gulping his beer as he was sprawled on another couch. Ren came right up to him, but Horo continued to pretend he didn't notice. Finally, the Tao grabbed the drink away and set it on a low table next to Horo's spot, straddling the Ainu with a playful smirk. Horo's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Still playing stupid games, Ren?" he asked bitterly. Ren smiled and wrapped his arms around the older boy's neck, making a few small movements with his hips.

"You hypocrite…" he whispered into the bluenette's ear.

"You played all sorts of games with my heart, and now you presume to tell me whether or not I should play games with yours. Know this, Horokeu Usui. You are mine. You belong to me, no matter how much you deny it. Now, give in, puppet. Surrender to me, like you have before, and like you will for the rest of eternity. I decide what happens between us, now." The Chinese said, eyes stone cold. Bright blue eyes stared into hypnotizing gold ones, and lips came in contact. HoroHoro sighed, closing his eyes and allowing the blankness to take him as Ren used his body.

SCENE CHANGE

Manta Oyamada walked briskly through a hall. He was used to walking briskly by now, having spent his whole life trying to keep up with tall businessmen. He had a folder in his hand full of papers, and a pen in his shirt pocket. He was about to open the door to the lounge when a voice from behind stopped him.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Manta turned to see Yoh standing leaned against a wall.

"Yoh-kun!" he smiled, happy to see his old friend again.

"Manta." Yoh nodded lazily.

"Why shouldn't I go in there? I need to find Ren. I've got the band plans all ready." He said very professionally, adjusting his tie.

"Ren is…busy…with Horo." The Asakura replied, and Manta noticed the faint noises drifting through. He made a small face.

"Seriously? Those two?" he asked in astonishment. Yoh nodded.

"Not surprising, seeing as they were together throughout most of the tournament. Come, Manta, let's get drinks." Yoh turned and walked away, Manta hurrying to catch up.

SCENE CHANGE

HoroHoro gave a depressed sigh as he lay on his bed. That was the second time in one day that Ren had taken advantage of him and then left. He felt like he was drowning in this cycle that he knew would just continue. He was drowning in Ren. He stared up blankly at his ceiling, willing the thoughts to stop circling in his brain. His mind was going in circles while his heart was crying and his stomach did back flips.

"I hate…" he trailed off. No, he didn't hate Ren. Even after Ren's cruelty to him, he couldn't bring himself to do that. He sighed and started over.

"I hate what he does to me." He said finally. He got up and decided to be productive and do some practicing. As he banged out beats on his new drum set, he wondered what would happen in his life from here on out.

SCENE CHANGE

Yoh walked lazily into his room, yawning and stretching before flopping onto his bed. It was really quite a nice bed. Satin sheets and cotton covers with swirling cinnamon spirals decorating them in a fitting way.

"What are you up to, otouto?" Yoh turned his head and gazed with half-lidded eyes into a matching pair of chocolate color.

"Onii-san." He muttered as a greeting.

"Answer me, Yoh." Hao said sternly. Yoh's eyes narrowed.

"Why should you care?" he asked suspiciously.

"I know you're planning something. I want to know what. I want to know what you're getting at. What's your game? I can help you or I can hinder you, whether or not you're the Shaman King." He said threateningly, glaring hard into the once-carefree eyes. Yoh shrugged.

"You should know it well enough. Revenge." He said coolly. Hao looked down.

"Ah. I know revenge quite well…too well." He whispered, a glimmer of remorse in his eyes. Yoh glanced at him with a calculating look. Hao regained the stare from before, a challenging glint in his fiery brown eyes.

"You would do well not to mess about in my head, otouto. You may be Shaman King, but I've been around longer. I've mastered many mind tricks you would not like to experience." He said. Yoh rolled his eyes.

"Didn't think I'd get anything from your thoughts, anyway." He muttered.

"I will not be used, Yoh. I will not be a tool for your foolish revenge plans. Take your revenge, but leave me out of it." He said with a harsh look. Yoh nodded serenely.

SCENE CHANGE

Lyserg shuffled his feet a little as he unpacked his bags, neatly folding and putting away each item of clothing. Morphin was perched on his head, curiously watching him and making a few chirpy noises to show how happy she was to be seeing everyone after so long. The British boy simply smiled and hummed as he worked. His bed was simple, yet elegant. It had soft, clean sheets and a bedspread with green plant patterns all over it.

Morphin made a sudden high-pitched squeak when the door opened, and flew over to the intruder, moving about his face. Lyserg looked up to see HoroHoro stood at the door with his hands in the pockets of his baggy black jeans with chains on them and a dark blue shirt that said, Cover Me In Chocolate And Throw Me To The Lesbians! The Ainu's eyes followed the fairy in mild interest, smiling at her antics of delight.

"HoroHoro! I haven't seen you for years!" Lyserg exclaimed, going to greet his visitor with a brief hug.

"Hey, Lyserg. Long time no see! What have you been up to these years?" he asked happily.

"Detective work, of course. The agency father worked for were thrilled to offer me a place among them. In fact, they even gave me dad's old office…" he trailed off quietly.

"That's great! My coltsfoot field is going wonderfully, aside from financial issues. That's why I'm here. Not only can I donate a lot of the money I make to the funds, famous people are heard. I can really get people to listen and help the cause." The ice shaman smiled happily.

Morphin made a small chirp as she noticed a something pass by the door. Looking at her master chatting and looking happier than he had in a while, she silently slipped out of the room, glancing around for the suspicious figure. Chittering a little to herself, she turned and went the direction the thing had moved, only to be spooked by a loud cry.

"KURU!" squeaked the figure, looking absolutely ecstatic. Morphin smiled when she recognized Horo's tiny Koro Pokkur spirit, holding her coltsfoot leaf over her head and making excited noises in her native tongue.

"Ku kuru ku?" Kororo tilted her head to the side. Morphin nodded at her and gestured for her to follow as she moved back to the room, where Horo and Lyserg were talking about the past few years.

"KUKU! KURUKU!" Kororo squealed and flew into Horo's arms, surprising him.

"Kororo!" he yelped, as the little spirit continued to chatter in her language. He sighed and smiled a little, cuddling her. Lyserg chuckled a little after he calmed down from the scare. The two shamans watched as their tiny spirits made funny noises at each other, apparently understanding one another completely.

SCENE CHANGE

Ren lay down in his bed, ready to try to get some sleep. HoroHoro was plaguing his thoughts, however. He couldn't get it out of his head. He mumbled some curses under his breath as he began to regret his actions. He recalled Hao's words of advice to him and began to consider abandoning his revenge. A knock at his door caught his attention.

"Hai?" he answered, not moving.

"Ren… It's time for the next step in your plan." Yoh's voice called eerily through the wood. Ren stood and opened the door, but Yoh was already gone. The Tao bit his lip guiltily but sighed and went in search of HoroHoro. He found the Ainu boy in the lounge, eating some barbecue-flavored potato chips.

"Horokeu." He called softly, gaining the other's attention. The bluenette swallowed his mouthful of snack and gulped down the last of a beer. Leaving both aside, the older one came over to the singer, looking at him with longing.

"Take me, Ren." He whispered. Ren led him back into his room, locking the door behind him.

Yoh smiled evilly as he heard the sounds of their passion through the walls, knowing his plan was going smoothly. As long as he had them all against each other, they were worlds apart.