Title: The Price of Pleasure
Category: Anime/Manga » Junjō Romantica
Author: Don't Preach
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Originally Published: 05-14-12
Summary: AU in which Misaki has fallen into the world of hustling. Akihiko is a man driven by his dark desires and encounters Misaki on the street. The novelist solicits Misaki's favors for the evening, but there's far more to the intended arrangement than meets the eye. Will either man find deliverance from the troubled worlds they occupy? Will their meeting lead eventually to their salvation… or ultimately their destruction?
New AN 11/28/2012:
So this is a reposting of "The Price of Pleasure" formerly by Cerberus Revised adopted from Teabags.
Even if you have read the fic previously, I encourage you to re-read it. I have made some significant changes to the first four chapters to enable me to deal with some plot holes I was encountering and to follow my new resolution to keep the characters more closely in line with their original manga depictions.
Also, this story contains mature subject matter, so if you're on FF looking to read fluff and have no taste for material including sexual themes or violence, I suggest you read elsewhere. Each chapter contains a heading with warnings for the chapter's contents, so you have been amply warned.
Revised Old AN: 5/14/2012:
I adopted this story last spring writing as Don't Preach/Cerberus Revised when the author Teabags announced she was leaving the fandom. Some of you may be aware that Teabags and Cerberus had a tumultuous correspondence at times. Whatever the complexities of that relationship (which have since been resolved) I have always liked her dark sensibilities.
This story, perhaps because of its slight overlap to "The Escort," I think, particularly intrigued me. I was very anxious to see where Teabags would take it and was profoundly disappointed when she said she was leaving it behind and unfinished. Additionally, I took on this story because it was painful for me to imagine Misaki being abandoned in such a disheveled state and Akihiko so dark and unredeemed.
Like the other authors who adopted "in progress" stories from Teabags, I have made edits to the original piece and will finish it on my own.
Disclaimer: I do not own Junjou Romantica or any of its characters.
Warning: Adult/Sexual Themes, Mild Violence
The Price of Pleasure
"You're still here? You should be out by now."
Eighteen-year-old Takahashi Misaki turned to his flatmate who had just entered their small apartment and now stood in its tiny entry. The slender brunet watched his ash-haired companion shuffle through his evening's haul of yen notes before he rolled them into a tube and stuffed them back into the front pocket of his skin-tight jeans.
"Ummm, I haven't finished this round yet. I'll go when I'm done… promise." Misaki avoided making direct eye contact and quickly re-focused on the screen pretending to be intent on attaining another level on his video game. The action distracted from the uncomfortable roll in his gut at the older boy's question and its larger implications.
"Obviously I wasn't clear enough before I left."
Misaki jumped when the controller was suddenly torn from his hands and tossed to the side. At almost that same instant, he was pulled up by the front of his shirt from the floor where he had been sitting.
"It's bad enough we're already struggling this much, Misaki. I told Sato-san we'd have his money this week. If we get anymore behind in our rent, we'll be kicked out for sure this time."
"I know, Sumi, but I'm tired." Misaki fought to keep the desperation from creeping into to his voice, knowing it would only further raise his roommate's ire. "I've already worked two shifts at the store today and I have to be in early tomorrow. Otari-san promised he'll pay me Friday."
Misaki averted his eyes from Sumi's accusatory gaze and looked back over at the screen. His character's death was now being flashed at him repeatedly. He felt a blush creep into his cheeks.
"Besides, you know I don't like going out there. I hate doing that weird stuff!" He stared back at Sumi now, his sense of revulsion at the tasks ahead making him suddenly defiant. Fueled by the strength of his emotions, Misaki managed to brush Sumi's hands away and flatten his shirt back down in one continuous, if slightly clumsy motion.
"Your job doesn't pay enough, Misaki! We had an agreement when I took you in that you'd do your share around here, and sitting on your ass in front of the TV instead of hustling it out there on the street falls far short. If you don't do your part then you're nothing more than a freeloader… a useless burden!" Sumi's voice got softer as his words became harsher. At the last bit, all but whispered, Misaki recoiled as if he'd been slapped.
Seeing this mark hit home and the fire in the large emerald eyes before him flickered and dimmed, Sumi knew it was time to change his tone. His voice became conciliatory.
"My father cut me off, and you know that's partly your fault, Misaki. We're in dire straits here now." Sumi called upon his chameleonic talents to make his previously hardened face suddenly looked pained. "Do you honestly think I like dealing with those old perverts any more than you do?
"I did my share for the evening, now it's your turn." Sumi found himself feeling quite pleased with the note of soft pleading that he'd managed to interject into his last sentence.
"I could ask my older brother for some money," Misaki's tone revealed his own plea. "I can call him tomorrow morning, first thing," he offered as he turned away from Sumi.
Misaki sat back down, picked up the controller, called up a new character, and began playing once more. Fearful of Sumi's response, the tension held in his thin frame betrayed the nonchalance these actions were supposed to convey.
"If Takahiro really wanted to be bothered by you, would you even be staying here with me, Misaki?" Sumi's eyes narrowed when Misaki did not turn back to answer his question.
Misaki was stung by these words. He knew his nii-chan cared for him. Takahiro had for too long, in fact. That was why he had chosen to move out in the first place…
Well, one of the reasons.
"I'm sure he'd be able to loan me enough for this month's fees." Misaki knew he would never be able to admit to Takahiro that he needed help, but he hoped saying this would appease Sumi and he wouldn't have to go out into the streets and do that stuff again.
But the other knew him too well. "After all your declarations of independence?" Sumi asked incredulously. "You'd sacrifice your pride and let him know that you've failed?" When Misaki's head dropped and he didn't immediately answer, Sumi again pulled the controller away.
Misaki jumped to his feet.
"Oi, give that back! I was playing that!" The heat in his voice was more in response to Sumi's words than the older boy's action.
Misaki regretted this, however, as soon as he felt his shirt clutched once more in Sumi's larger fist. Sumi leaned in until their faces were almost touching. It had been some time since the they had shared such close physical proximity, and then the circumstances had been quite different. Misaki suddenly remembered the first time Sumi had kissed him. How such a seemingly innocent act had led to this…
Misaki wanted desperately to see a flicker of the kindness Sumi had once shown him, but meeting the older boy's gaze now there was none. Witnessing the raging intensity in Sumi's eyes, Misaki was suddenly quite scared. He couldn't ever remember seeing his roommate so angry.
"Get out! I don't care how you do it, even if you have to sell your soul to the devil himself. Just go make some damn money!" Misaki winced as a slight spray of spit hit the bridge of his nose. Before he knew what was happening, he felt himself being dragged to the flat's entryway.
"Hey!" Misaki yelped. He struggled to free himself from Sumi's grasp.
Despite Misaki's thrashing, Sumi held him with one hand, while with the other he scooped up his battered sneakers. He thrust these at Misaki's chest as he pushed him out the door. Misaki had just opened his mouth to offer some inarticulate appeasement when his thin coat was tossed out as well. It hit him in the face and temporarily blinded him.
Misaki didn't have to see, however, to know that this time Sumi meant business and he would find no mercy here tonight.
"Don't bother coming back until you have something to show for it." Sumi's voice was low and cold. He shook his head as if in disappointment before he firmly closed the door. An instant later, Misaki heard the undeniable snick of the chain sliding into the latch and a bolt being slipped.
He sat down sighing in defeat out on the walkway and began putting on his shoes, knowing that he had just been locked out.
Hours had passed and Misaki still hadn't pulled a trick (not that he'd been trying that hard).
He exhaled deeply, knowing there was no way Sumi would allow him to return to the apartment empty-handed. Making his way through the busy streets with his hands in his pockets, he slumped sadly along. Perring up at a digital billboard that carried the time, he noticed it was almost midnight.
The November night air was chilly and wet and Misaki felt every bit of it through the light jacket he wore.
Wanting to shake the mental darkness that was threatening to overtake him, he tried to find something to be grateful for. At last he settled on the small solace that he had at least managed to grab a quick bite earlier in the evening. Not that what had been left over in their fridge had really offered much, but at least he wasn't too hungry on top of everything else.
I could always try one of those... "clubs" again.
Misaki dug his hands deeper into his pockets and his shoulders hunched at the prospect.
He hated going to those sorts of places, full of disgusting old men. He remembered all too clearly the last time he'd gone to one. It had been a far from pleasant experience. Just thinking about it made him feel sick and threatened to rob him of the small comfort of his relatively full stomach. Besides, Sumi had been with him then and Misaki knew he didn't have the confidence to go to such a place alone.
He sighed looking up again into the neon night sky. Tears pricked his eyes and he blinked them back. His heart ached for earlier times.
Things weren't always so complicated.
He found himself wishing that Takahiro was still in Tokyo. His older brother had always done his best for them ever since their parents had died ten years ago, but the past couple of years had been increasingly difficult. And now there was that whole situation with Kajiwara-san. This thought called the face of Takahiro's new wife into Misaki's mind.
His head bent lower imagining the expression in the young woman's dark eyes if he was to show up on his brother's doorstep.
No, it's better that Takahiro is in Osaka.
Misaki knew, just as Sumi did, that he would never really dare to trouble his brother or his new family now.
"Dear Nii-chan, please forgive your little brother. I'm in trouble and I could really use a miracle," Misaki whispered as he shuffled down the street. As if in malicious answer, his soft prayer was quickly drowned in a sudden burst of midnight rain.
The rain eventually drove Misaki into a low bar. As he'd stepped into the beckoning warmth of its interior, he was surprised to find it not nearly as crowded as he had expected.
He really hadn't had much experience with drinking; this was another thing Sumi had introduced him to. Lately, however, Misaki found the alcohol helped dull the ache in his heart and made the things he did for money slightly more palatable. Besides, the pub was dry and he wasn't keen on going back out into the miserable wet world.
With his fake ID and the small amount of yen he had secretly held back from Sumi, he managed to procure a few cheap beers.
Unfortunately, in his current state of despair, the drinks emptied quickly and his money disappeared even faster. Too soon, a tipsy Misaki found himself officially broke. It didn't help that tonight, even in this looser state, he couldn't seem to muster the confidence to entice some guy to buy him a drink, let alone solicit a trick.
Misaki dropped his head against the counter with a hard thunk.
"What am I going to do now? I am completely worthless to Sumi. He's going to lose his home and it will be my fault. "
After remaining in this posture for a few minutes, Misaki was overcome by the dizziness he felt behind his closed lids.
I hope this isn't another fever coming on. That's the last thing I need right now.
After slowly lifting his head from the bar, Misaki downed the last remaining mouthful of alcohol in his near-empty glass. He cast his eyes hopelessly around the room as if an answer to his problems could be found there somewhere.
Scanning the bar, his eye was suddenly caught by a rather tall, silver-haired man sitting in one of the booths on the other side of the room. The guy was staring at him in a peculiar way.
Misaki did his best to ignore the man, but his observer's gaze refused to waver. The stranger's cool countenance did not hold the usual lecherous invitation that he had come to recognize: it was something altogether different and incredibly intense.
The man's stare continued and stirred a deep unease in Misaki. It wasn't just the fellow's gaze that was unnerving. Perhaps he had been reading too many thriller manga of late, but this guy definitely exuded a mysterious, dark aura.
Whoever he was, he certainly didn't belong in this kind of low-class environment. The men who were drawn to this establishment usually still wore sweaty work-clothes, or the better ones might be rumpled-casual, but Misaki's watcher. This man was sharply dressed, his clothes obviously expensive.
Maybe he's slumming.
Regardless, Misaki was growing increasingly nervous. He realized he had no choice but to leave the bar and head back out into the unforgiving night.
Akihiko watched Misaki from across the room. He had been surreptitiously following the boy for several days now, awaiting his chance. His keen eyes noted the dispirited slump of the teen's shoulders. He observed the slight list in the way the youth sat, indicating Misaki was well on his way to a state of full inebriation.
Tonight will be the night. Akihiko felt his pulse accelerate at the thought.
You'll never go through with this.
Akihiko dropped his eyes from Misaki at last. His forehead furrowed at the intrusion of this second voice into his consciousness.
"Damn… I thought I left you at home." Akihiko stared into the untouched glass of cheap whiskey on the table before him.
And miss the opportunity to watch you fail?
Akihiko gritted his teeth at the voice's smugness, but he remained silent. From his periphery, he'd caught a flash of movement from the area of the bar where Misaki had been sitting. Lifting his eyes, he watched the teen slip off his stool.
His mouth twitched at Misaki's attempt to look casual as he stepped away from the counter, trying hard to cover his slight stagger.
Misaki left the bar through the back exit. As soon as he had disappeared out the door, Akihiko rose and followed.
Fuck you, Akihiko belatedly countered his internal tormentor. It's time.
Once in the dark, rain-slicked alley, Misaki began moving towards the street. He started to hurry without looking back when he heard footsteps, not his own, picking up behind.
"You there!" a deep voice called out after him.
Misaki was suddenly terrified, and this didn't happen often. He was usually pretty adept at keeping the troubles that haunted him at a distance, but somehow this was different.
"Have the decency to stop and look at me when I'm talking to you, Takahashi Misaki!"
Misaki felt his entire body freeze when the stranger called his full name.
How in the hell does this man even know who I am?
He'd certainly never seen the guy before. Given his looks, Misaki was sure he'd remember him if they'd met… ever. Slowly, against his will, he turned, only to find a pair of lavender eyes burning into his own. Before he could react, the man was only a few feet away.
"H-how do you know my name?" Misaki silently damned his fear induced stutter.
"Takahiro," the man answered coolly. "You're his younger brother, aren't you?
"I'm sure of it. He's shown me your picture enough times." The guy sounded slightly put off as he said this.
Misaki cocked an eyebrow at the stranger. His nerves settled slightly since the man had mentioned Takahiro's name. He might not be as sinister as he first appeared. Still, he couldn't be too sure just yet.
"Erm... do you mind me asking who you are exactly?" Misaki tried to keep his voice from squeaking. His brother had never mentioned having any really well-to-do friends and he had never seen this man in Takahiro's company.
His question, rather than offend, seemed to startle the stranger whose eyes widened for an instant before they returned to their default cool stare. Misaki could have sworn he saw the man's mouth twitch too.
"Usami Akihiko," a proud voice announced as if Misaki was expected to know who he was.
The teen found himself inadvertently bowing slightly at the command help in the low tone, though the name seemed new to him. Then a light went on in his beer-tumbled mind. He straightened.
"Usami…Wait… Are you that guy Nii-chan's always talking about? Usagi or whatever he calls you?"
Misaki was aware that some of the man's stiffness seemed to dissipate at the mention of his nickname.
"I couldn't help noticing you seemed to be on your own in there." Usami motioned with his head back to the bar. "If I remember your age correctly, based on what Takahiro has told me, you're a little young to be out drinking."
Misaki felt himself internally bristle at the judgment, not to mention talking about his brother so casually.
With his manners affected by the beer he'd consumed, he was about to offer a sharp comment to Usami—or Usagi, or whoever the hell he was—about minding his own business, but he found himself cut off.
"Peculiar circumstances for us to meet in, but now we have. It's a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Misaki-kun. Especially after all these years." Akihiko said this with a regal expression and a very slight bow of his own
This show, and Usami's immediate use of his first name as if they were familiar, annoyed Misaki further, not that he'd made the best introduction himself.
"Umm, yeah. N-nice to meet you, but I've got to get going now." Whoever he was, Usami Akihiko was weird and he just wanted to get away from this troublesome guy.
But no sooner had he turned than he was pulled backwards by a large cool hand on his shoulder.
"Where are you so anxious to get to, Misaki-kun? Are you really so eager to go back on the street to sell yourself?"
"How do you know about that?" Misaki felt a hot blush rise to his cheeks at his slip. He frowned to cover the frantic panic that welled in his chest. He shoved roughly at Usami, trying to get out of his stiff, iron grip.
When he realized the man was not going to release him, Misaki stilled. He looked up, his large green eyes beseeching. "Look… please, Usami-san… Please, d-don't tell my brother."
Staring down at him, Usami's expression unreadable. Then, Usami reached into his pocket with his free hand and pulled out an expensive wallet. He waved it in front of Misaki's face, wafting the money before him like a bit of meat before a hungry puppy.
"I'll tell you what," Akihiko drawled. "I won't tell your 'nii-chan' about your nocturnal activities… if you tell me how much for an evening of fun with Misaki."
When he saw the boy's eyes expand as he casually thumbed his wallet open to offer Misaki a peek at the number of large denomination yen notes it contained, a stiff smile curled the corners of Akihiko's mouth. His grin faded as the teen suddenly blushed with relief.
The tension left Misaki's small body once he understood his intentions. Akihiko marveled at the internal conflict clearly revealed in the boy's pale face at the proposition and saw instantly just how desperate Misaki was for cash.
"Thirty thousand? Fifty thousand? Sixty?" his voice sounded both cultured and slightly bored.
Misaki was astounded by the figures being dropped so casually. There was something definitely not right about this.
"W-who are you to offer so much? Stop joking around!"
"I told you before Misaki-kun, I'm Usami Akihiko. I'm a novelist. I'm rich... And I'd like to have you in my bed tonight."
This is wrong… so wrong… the fact that this guy is Nii-chan's friend.
Though Misaki had never met him, he had heard so much over the years about Usami … Usagi. But still… if he was serious, he couldn't say no… not to all that money.
If this pans out, Sumi and I won't have to worry about rent for a year.
Misaki studied Usami's intense eyes, searching for some falsehood, and blushed even more profusely when he didn't find any.
Despite the nagging unease in his gut, Misaki thought his luck might have finally changed this time and he resolved he was going to take full advantage of it. Though it bothered him to know his brother's oldest friend was a pervert, a "homo," it could actually work to his advantage in this case.
"So... you wouldn't ever say anything about this to Nii-chan?"
Usami's eyes narrowed ever so slightly at the question, but his features otherwise remained calm.
"It'll be our little secret."
"Are you going to buy me a drink then, Usami-san?" Misaki's voice revealed a slightly tipsy shake but was suddenly far more accommodating.
"It'd be an honor, Misaki-kun," Usami purred.
Misaki felt the large hand on his shoulder suddenly pull him close. He found himself under a strong lean arm as Akihiko began to move forward out of the alley. Allowing himself to be guided by this, Misaki walked as if in a daze alongside his new "patron" until they were standing before another, far more upscale bar.
"Waaaah!" Misaki exclaimed unconsciously as they stepped through the tavern's door into plusher surroundings. He felt himself suddenly dizzied again, this time by the warmth of the new bar as they entered… and by the sound of Usami Akihiko's small chuckle.
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