Hi everyone! I trust you all had a good week?

So… I see that you want me to continue? Ok! I'm up for it! :D

Just bear with the plot for a while, I am sure there is some kind of a method in this madness ^^; XD

Alright! Here goes nothing!

Disclaimer: Not mine!

Forget not, my friends, to buy the original merchandise and support the author and the remake. :)


Chapter 11 Action

"Concupiscence and force are the source of all our actions; concupiscence causes voluntary actions, force involuntary ones."

Blaise Pascal

Riki awoke to the feeling of his bed squirming beneath him. He grunted, half-awake, at the complete absurdity of the notion and then opened his eyes to see the Blondie's throat. He started. The events of the previous night flooded his mind and he gasped in cognizance. Last night hadn't been a figment of his imagination, had it? It had actually happened. He had actually been allowed to take the lead. Well, at least for a short while. Images of the Blondie's face in absolute ecstasy intruded his thoughts, he had touched and teased and ridden him, and he had fallen asleep like that! He flushed with a rare embarrassment and moved, slowly, cautious not to wake the sleeping Blondie, to lie on his back.

Last night had been profound, different. Iason hadn't really been himself. All the tenderness, the sudden giving mood, his open response… They all signified much more than just a whim to the Blondie. He understood how much affected the Blondie must have initially been if he had been ready to forsake that frosty control of his. Nothing ever, in his experience, had been capable of making the Iason abandon it. Even the worst possible scenario was dealt with in such a calm, stoic manner that the Blondie sometimes seemed unreal.

Something had changed. He could feel it in his bones, as he looked over at Iason's sleeping face. He could not say what had, but where Iason was concerned, it was possible that he would never be able to. And besides, whatever it was, he liked this change. Gentleness, he found, did not mar Iason's perfection. In fact it complemented him even more than that cold, cruel nature.

Riki smiled at the notion. It was all perhaps only a whim anyway. One was never really sure with Iason. But he had enjoyed it to the fullest. He moved reflexively, as the Blondie turned in his sleep to face him, and smiled with satisfaction. There it was, a reddish angry bruise, right next to the hollow of his throat; the only imperfection on the creature's pale and flawless skin. He had actually left his mark on the Blondie. Iason would perhaps be displeased with it, but it wasn't really going to be visible, which he was sure, would be some grounds for consolation.

He started, as, without warning, Iason's eyes opened and he grunted.

The sight of Riki looking at him as soon as he had opened his eyes pleased him immensely. Before that wall of indifference was quickly built in the mongrel's eyes, he had caught the expression of tenderness and embarrassment fleet through them. He smiled in his mind as he noted with quite a bit of enjoyment- last night had been a distinct success. He sighed as reached out to stroke the mongrel's face, ignoring the feeble efforts from Riki to pull away and then snorted. He had things to do and had to be at Jupiter Tower early today to catch up on his duties. Time was valuable. He pushed himself off the bed and to his feet. And then looked at the mongrel still lying on the bed, the covers disturbed by his sudden movement, hiding only what was most private, a small frown gracing his lips, seemingly in deep meditation. Yes, time was valuable. But he couldn't help himself from a teasing word, looking at the absolute picture of temptation and satiation. Jupiter could wait.

"You could do the least and wish me a good morning." Amusement danced in his eyes.

Riki looked up at the Blondie and scoffed.

"So could you."

Iason smiled again, as he proceeded to the baths, to get ready for the day. What a beautiful start, he thought as he took a quick shower and dried himself in front of the wall sized mirror. He noticed the mark on his collarbone, reaching out a long finger to trace it and smiled. He'd thought he would be displeased to see the evidence of last night's venture, but he wasn't. He was actually thrilled. He wanted to show it off to everyone, he wanted to be proud of it, it was the first ever sign that he belonged to someone, somewhere; that he was, in one way or the other, beloved; that he wasn't the solitary, calculating machine that everyone thought he was, as if that in itself was some sort of an honor.

His own contemplation shocked him. How was it even possible that he could think like a lowly, shameless human? How had his superior intellect been reduced to the terms of a common mongrel? But he was also surprised; nothing else earned such a response from him. Not Jupiter's warnings, not Raoul's concern, not even the insults he gathered from slander and gossip. He let out a graceful snort as he realized, this was starting to become a routine. He wasn't himself at all where his pet was concerned. When it came to Riki, he always surprised himself.

And he felt as if he understood Riki. As if he was able to empathize, and as if he was actually capable of bringing about some changes, just to please his beloved pet. The fact had not changed that Riki could only be a pet to him. He could never treat him as he would an equal. But his mind had changed a great deal. He was now not only ready to do what he thought was essential; he was whole-heartedly willing to do it as well. Last night had been decisive in various perspectives.

He had his hair dried and straightened out by an efficient droid, dressed and quickly left his room into the great hall. He walked directly to Riki's chambers and disengaged the locks. If freedom was what Riki wanted, he would provide it as much as he could. True, Riki would still, always be under his nose, he would always be with him, but he would not be the slave he was all this time. Iason had realized that with his possessiveness, he had reduced Riki to just that. Riki was a pet, and he would, at least, have what was deserved of a pet. It wasn't much, but it was something he could do without much interference from anyone else, without any legal obligations.

Besides, he should have done this long ago. He should never have kept Riki under the lock like that, despite what was expected from him. For, the mongrel hadn't really done anything offending or unmanageable after his return, save for the incident at his début.

And even that incident had been justified in his mind. Riki just lived under different standards. He had to punish the mongrel for other reasons. He'd had the elite at his back for far longer than he could remember, eager to explore the technicalities of the D-type pet ring. And he'd wanted to make his pet understand the fruits of his stubborn implacability. That one act was executed with the aim of fulfilling two necessities. But the way the other Blondies had reacted to it, had sparked a jealousy far greater than any he had felt before, leading to his unquenchable thirst that night. He'd reproached himself for such behavior a countless times, but what was past, was past.

Iason sighed in his mind. Jupiter be damned, Orphe be damned; why, he'd let all of Amoi go to hell if it opposed him! Riki had earned this, and it was his right to claim it. If anyone had a bone to pick with his decisions, they'd have to confront him. And if anyone confronted him, he'd slaughter them with sheer, irrefutable logic.

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Riki waited until the Blondie finished his preparations and walked out of the chamber, and then moved into the bath to take his shower. Iason would not wait for him to come out, so he relaxed in the shower, lathering his body in expensive soap, reveling in relief as the hot water pounded away the soreness in his muscles. His stomach groaned, interrupting his leisurely ritual. He cursed in his mind, rinsing off one last time and turning the water off as he reached out and a droid handed him towels. Drying himself, Riki knotted one of the towels on his waist and then began drying his hair, dismissing help from the droid. He padded across to the great hall and walked by to stand in front of the usually locked room, and looked over at Cal who was serving Iason his breakfast. He was surprised; he had expected that the Blondie would have left by then.

As soon as the sensors detected Riki's weight, the doors opened, letting the mongrel through. Riki started at the automatic response and turned a questioning glance to Iason, to see an amused smirk on the Blondie's face.

"Dress yourself and come here." said the Blondie.

And Riki did as he was told. Not because he was obeying, but because he was curious. What in hell had happened in Scalia?! Why was Iason so different? He felt it now more than ever. Things were about to change again, weren't they?

When Riki was out again, dressed in his usual tank top and jeans, Iason called him over to the table. He gestured for the mongrel to come closer, when Riki stood at a distance.

"Sit." He ordered, when Riki walked over, and stood near the Blondie's chair.

Irritated by the word, Riki spat back, daring the Blondie and his stern glance.

"I will choose if I have to sit. Don't fucking order me around." It would be no big surprise if Iason punished him for this, but he didn't really mind.

"I see." said the Blondie softly, his tone menacing.

And then he did the unexpected. Laying down his cutlery, pushing his chair back a little, Iason pulled Riki's hand hard, making the boy lose his balance and fall into his lap. He locked the speechless boy in this position with a hand pressed across his torso, as the mongrel gasped and glared at the superior being in indignation. Feeling a little playful, Iason nuzzled the boy's throat and then smirked.

"It is much better to sit, isn't it?"

"Stop it, Iason." warned the mongrel, irritated, a promise of retribution in his voice, yet, beginning to feel the faint pangs of the pleasure that remained quiescent after the previous night's encounter, from just the playful, silken voice and the persistent pressure across his chest.

Iason laughed softly. Riki was everything he loved and more. Of course he deserved all that he could give him!

"I am giving you back all your privileges."

Riki turned up with an expression of disbelief.

"You may go out, as long as you stay within the walls of Tanagura. You may go to the Salon if you like. I will let you have your own credit profile, buy what you like within reasonable limits… "

"Only, Cal must come with me everywhere, right?"

"No… Cal needn't come with you, unless you wish for his presence…"

"I am allowed to go out anywhere I want, I will have a profile and can buy what I want…?" he asked incredulously.

"Within a limit, yes."

"And I must do what in return?..." he asked suspicious.

"Nothing, Riki. I am fulfilling my duties, giving you what every pet must have. You don't need to do anything for it…"

Riki looked down and nodded in understanding. In other words, nothing had changed. He was still a pet, just one with all his privileges intact. Although a credit profile wasn't something pets normally had, the Blondie wasn't doing much more than what he ought to, by Amoian Law.

"Just…" Iason began.

"Hmm?"

"Just come back here, to me…" he finished, reluctantly, releasing the pressure on the pet.

Riki snorted as he pushed himself off the Blondie and then walked to his room. It wasn't as if he could leave Tanagura when he wanted. As long as the ring remained on him, even if he did find a way out, he could not step a foot away from Iason without his knowing. But what he could not understand was, why? He knew that Iason was completely comfortable with him cooped up in the penthouse. There was no probability that the situation between the blondie and the gossiping world would improve if Riki was given such liberties. In fact, he was sure this could only hurt Iason, for there would be numerous problems and complaints if he as much as showed his face outside. So he questioned the man's motive. What was the plan? And why now?

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As Iason sat down at the table, ready for the general meeting with the other Blondies and their status reports, he looked at Orphe a little regretfully. He knew that the Chief of Security would not approve of letting his pet roam about free, 'in the interest of Tanagura's security' of course. And he knew that he would perhaps receive a summons from Jupiter regarding this. But he didn't care. He had made his choice.

Iason was strong in his convictions. He was prepared to face everything, even Riki's anger, if need be. He knew the mongrel would perhaps not really be happy, he knew that this wasn't enough for Riki. Still, doing more now seemed unwise. He needed time to think through it, he needed to consider every possibility carefully, before he gave out any more allowances. For, strategically, it would be a blunder. Riki wasn't just anyone's pet. He was the most treasured pet of Lord Iason Mink, leader of Tanagura's Syndicate. He was Iason's only weakness, his Achilles' heel. And though not many people knew it for sure, he wasn't ready to risk it. Only inside Tanagura, Riki was safe.

He shook his head as he listened to all the developments that had occurred in Amoi while he'd been away, and the new benefits they received as a result of the changed perspectives of various planets in the Federation. As he'd imagined, quite a few lucrative offers for metal and technology trade had sprung up out of the blue, that needed research and careful consideration. It was going to be a long day.

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The surroundings blurred around the rider as the bike maneuvered through every obstacle with practiced ease, as if sliding through oil. Its speed kept increasing at so remarkable a pace as to earn warning cat-calls from the other rider, who had fallen behind and the audience of two, audible from a distance. But those were steadily ignored as the rider stepped up the gears and throttled more speed into the roaring, shuddering machine. The bike, though made for its speed, noisily complained as the engine ground out even the smallest vestige of its power, struggling to keep with his ceaseless demand, hardly able to handle his abuse, as the rider ignored its plea, planted his feet firmly on the highest gear level possible and drove with all his might. Neither the speed, not the biting cold wind did anything to soothe the rider's burning heart, as he sped through the course.

Only a few weeks ago, he had been in the audience, worrying, as his friend… his lover had executed a similar madness. Only a few weeks ago, he'd had his lover sitting behind him, clinging to him for support as they flew through the streets of Ceres…

They had been unstoppable together, a powerhouse that was respected and feared all over the slums. No one had had the ability to even stand near his charismatic boss. He was the only one allowed; he was the only one who dared to stand beside, to support and comfort their leader. Although coveted by many, the position of Riki's second and his partner had been only his to have. He had been so dear to Riki and his Riki had been that special. Even in the slums, only the ones he chose, hand-picked, could even be near his Riki. For the ones who were unworthy, would crash and burn next to his Riki's charisma, his power, his razor-sharp mind, his leader's… his lover's pride.

The adrenaline pumping through his blood was expected to drown out his sensibilities, his cares, his memories, at least momentarily, but he found, it was nowhere near enough to mask such significant feelings in his mind and heart. He could not stop himself from forcing the machine to gain the momentum that he was denied, alone, without his Riki. He could not stop thinking about his Riki. He could not remove those pictures of his Riki's spirit, his majesty from his mind. The rider ground his teeth, fighting against the overwhelming emotions that rose in him, remembering that day.

"I am... I am Iason's pet."

Shit! Shit! Shit!

Those words rang in his ears. Morning and night, in reality and in nightmares, forever. Pure white-hot rage coursed through his spine as he remembered that face, that piteous expression.

That Riki, who had eyes like burning coal, who had the spirit of a wildcat, the courage and pride of a lion and the cunning of a wolf, had quietly, submissively, shamelessly told him this.

"I am Iason's pet."

He had punched him, kicked him and slapped him after listening to that shameless confession. But Riki hadn't fought back. Riki hadn't even raised a hand to protect himself. So that was what he was now? A beaten mongrel pet who had no more spirit, who wouldn't fight if his life depended on it? He had felt disgusted, betrayed, ashamed, to see that proud Riki fall down on the floor like that. And he couldn't stand the feeling of his heart breaking, looking at the scene. So he'd turned away from his friend, his ex-pairing partner.

"Get out! Don't come back here again!"

His own words had turned around to hurt him. How had he so easily dismissed a life-long friend, for no fault of his? How could he have been so harsh with Riki? Wasn't he their boss? Wasn't he always welcome to his home?

The rider scoffed. They had been together since their days at Guardian, since they were children. And even in those days, Riki had been a level above the rest of the children. He was at a glance, a small, sulky boy who seemed much more beautiful than intelligent. But one word from him was enough for someone to understand the depth of the radical, ambitious mind beneath those coal black eyes. Every rare word from Riki seemed to command obedience, respect, from whoever it was spoken too. Such was the force of his pride, conviction and charisma. Even now, his heart bulged with pride and respect when he remembered the bright, willful boy.

"Someday I am going to kiss the slums goodbye."

And during spells of ill temper and ill treatment, he had comforted him in his arms. Riki had cried, and laughed and sulked and stayed with him, all his life. Despite the chasm of difference between them, Riki had always treated him as he would treat himself. He was so accepted and celebrated as an equal, by a being so superior to him in beauty and mind, that he had immediately fallen in love with the boy at a tender age.

And the boy hadn't grown up to be much different. The flash in his personality had only intensified, and the fear he inspired was still the same. But he had gained an irresistible appeal that drew everyone, man and woman, to him. Everybody was smitten by his looks and radiance. Yet, Riki had been his friend through out their time in Guardian, despite the age difference, and then in time, he had been accepted as his lover. Guy had been honored that way. He had been treasured by that spirit, just the same as he had treasured it. He had loved Riki with all he'd had. And Riki would've done anything for Guy.

Men the likes of Riki were hardly ever born. He wasn't called a legend just for show, he was said to be a legend because he was one. His dare and cunning had no rivals. And yet he was not one to be unjust or corrupt. He demanded respect, arrogantly, as if it was his birthright, because he deserved it. He was a ruthless commander and a kind, loyal friend.

"Lying low and playing it safe guarantees nothing."

Riki's ambitions had been a source of pride for Guy. They'd dreamt of a better future together, and had worked hard for it. They'd achieved glory and victory, one after the other and kept raising the bars. At least that was what he had thought. Until that day. That day, he had come to him, drunk and told him what was on his mind.

"You know Guy, there aren't opportunities just lying around everywhere. Especially chances for guys like us to see the light of day."

He'd agreed. To get out of the monster called slums was something that was almost impossible to achieve.

"Guy I hate it here. If I stay like this forever, I am going to rot from the inside out. It's enough to give me the fucking willies."

Guy had understood the feeling, he knew it well enough to say that, for someone with a constant fire burning in his heart, like Riki, it would be hell to remain constrained by something as insignificant like boundaries or fear. Riki knew himself and saw the world for what it was, with perfect clarity. He knew what he wanted and he did whatever he could to get it. And he always came out on top, victorious, proud and shining.

"I am going to crawl out of here and see for myself."

He had agreed, he had consented to let him go, free to seek the world and look at it with his own eyes. He hadn't questioned his leader, because he was not strong enough to accompany him anymore. Because he was afraid of where it would take him. He was afraid that if he questioned Riki, the connection between them would sever, forever.

"I am quitting Bison."

He had let go. He had killed his own emotions and wished the best for his leader, for his partner, as he had moved to take the world by surprise. Guy knew, even while Riki had worked the market for some dealer, he had been quite extraordinary. Because, word out in the streets was that, Riki had made a reputation for himself in the market. He was even called 'Riki, the dark'.

And then, suddenly, Riki had disappeared. He was neither seen in the slums, nor in the markets. They had all been shocked, but they had all known that if Riki had disappeared, then the reason probably was because he'd wanted to disappear. They had left it that, respecting their leader's wishes.

But after three years, the Riki that returned to them was hardly Riki anymore. He hadn't seen Riki act normally even once after he'd returned. Of course, three years of hard living would have definitely changed a man. Perhaps he just needed some rest and he would return to them, just like he'd been before? That had been his thought as he'd stood by and watched his pairing partner drink himself to oblivion.

He should have realized. He should have known that something was terribly wrong and pried it out of Riki. But Riki never loosened up, despite all the drinking and the drug filled days. He never even spoke a syllable about what had happened to him during those three years. And Guy had had a sneaking suspicion that Riki hadn't been really drunk or high while he'd been here. He'd had the feeling that his friend had drunk and drunk, and yet remained half-sober, unsatisfied and discomfited. As if, some dangerous secret that he was hiding could be revealed, if he had actually been completely juiced.

It hadn't made much sense then, but in hindsight, everything made sense. The way Riki reacted to Kirie, the way he never spoke at times, the way he'd get suddenly angry at some playful joke and lash out on his bottle of stout or the tripper, the way he'd slammed his tripper to Kirie's provocations. The way he never let anyone come close, not even him. Even the way he had seemed afraid during and after that incident with the Midas cops and Kirie.

And he'd never questioned it. That had been his mistake. He'd never once determinedly asked if something was troubling him. He hadn't tried to pry Riki's secrets. Because that was how much he had respected him. Because if Riki chose to do something, it would be right. He had trusted Riki. He had tried to be selfless, giving Riki the choice.

Guy clenched his teeth and revved up the throttle again. It was his fault, he had been an idiot. He had been a fool to let go of Riki. Almost five years ago, when Riki had come to him saying he was going to leave the slums somehow, he must not have been proud of his leader or afraid of losing him. He must have held him closer, tighter, harder so that he never left. He had been a fool.

Guy had been stunned, in denial for the first few days after the confession when he hadn't seen Riki. He had actually waited, hoping that this was some cruel prank, or a drug induced dream. But Riki never came. And that had driven the nail right to his heart. Those three years, his Riki, their Riki, had been a slave. To a much hated Blondie, no less.

How could he? How could he do such a thing?! For three years he had stayed with that Blondie freak?! Three years, he had been a slave?! His mind flashed at him, a picture of Riki dressed in scanty, provocative clothes like he had seen in the auctions, standing in front of a crowd, meek and powerless and he felt bile rise up to his throat. How could Riki be like that?! What had the Blondie done to him that had so thoroughly erased that auric pride, that all-consuming energy and radiance that was Riki?!

Tears flew down his eyes as he sobbed, slowly easing at the throttle, his heart, feeling as if it had been rended to pieces, as the machine came to a slow, grinding halt. He removed his helmet, shaking his head with sadness, covering his eyes with his palm, in disgrace. It hurt unimaginably bad, to think that Riki was now a pet. That, that boy he'd held in his hands, comforted and looked up to, was now a doll, dressed up and commanded to have sex at that Blondie's order. His anger rose again.

He remembered thinking as he had hit his friend again and again, crying uncontrollably, in just as much pain as Riki had been.

"You used to say you'd rather die than suck up to anyone."

Their Riki had been like that. He had been brave, unyielding and fiery in every respect. To see the same boy like that, reduced to such lowliness had felt like a knife had been lodged into his heart, and it was twisted again and again, increasing the agony of the wound, with every recollection of the past.

No, he would have been happier if Riki had died. For, to see him defeated, to see him admitting that he was a pet shamelessly, without a hint of his usual arrogance, had hurt far worse than he knew it would, to hear the news of his death. It hurt him in a way that only a lover would feel, that only a friend would know, and only an equal would understand.

To think that Riki had willingly gone to the Blondie, abandoning them, was something he could not even grasp, let alone accept. Riki would not do something like that, ever. As long as he lived, Riki would be their Riki at least in that aspect. He would not betray his friends for anything in the world.

Yes. It wasn't Riki's fault. None of this was Riki's fault. It was that Blondie freak's. It was that Iason's fault that Riki wasn't with him. That he had even seen such a Riki. That Blondie had tricked them, stolen their Riki from them. He was the culprit, he was the heartless, fucking fiend. And yet his friend was the one paying dues.

Hatred filled Guy's mind as he punched the bike under him, cracking the glass on one of the measurement gauges. He would have Riki back. He would do anything to bring Riki back. How many times had Riki reasoned with him to make the right choice? How many times had he saved his ass? Even now, Riki had accepted to Iason's deal just to save him from the Blondie. It was time to pay Riki back. He would save him from the Blondie bastard's prison. He would save him if it cost his life. And if he was to die, he would take the Blondie bastard along with him, to hell.


Yay! Guy! Actually, Whoa! I did not expect it; writing Guy is so much more difficult than writing anyone else! Did I do fine? Is he, like, close to being 'in-character'?

You see, I initially loved this man… 'Cos, he comes across as a really kind, good-natured person. And Riki does seem to be in love with him in the novels. But then, I kinda hate him for the end… lol! Mixed feelings… :D

This chapter was a little hard to write, 'cos I'd hardly even thought about it… But I have a sneaky feeling that the next ones might be better. 'Cos I have this bunny nagging me again… And she always brings me nice stuff! =3 :D

I am sooo relieved that you all approve of the last chapter! I was seriously anxious! ^_^; Thank you very much! Cookies all around!\o/

As always, please tell me what you think, any mistakes, changes, criticisms anything that strikes you as odd... :) I love long reviews, and I get ideas from your words, so please don't deprive me of your lovely thoughts after reading this :D I will be grateful, and give you chocolates!(even better than cookies ne?:D )

Dear Prospero!

Hi again! Alright! I am out of the closet now! XD Yes, I think you're spot on with the metaphysical core behind the story. You summed it up beautifully! d=(^o^) No, no, no! I didn't take offense at the word cerebral! In fact, it does perfectly describe this fic! :D I actually wanted it to be like that. The thing is, I saw so much scope to explore along the intellectual and psychological lines in AnK, without stepping an inch away from the canon universe. And I haven't seen much here on ffnet going like that. So I just wanted to try it once and see how it was! :) I don't frequent Lj, and didn't really read any AnK fan-fics until a few months ago (I clung to Rieko Sensei's work too :D), so I didn't know about Ainzfern until you mentioned f(^_^;)… I looked her up, read "Walk forward, into the world," and "To thine own self" (in one sitting!), and I see your meaning- it's quite societal, mature and emotional. And, OMG! She's really good, isn't she?! The reformation she brings about is something I thought wouldn't be possible at all on Amoi! And yet I see that, with her logic, it works beautifully! It's genius, IMHO! w(^O^)w Thank you for directing my attention to this marvelous author! And thank you for your compliments again! To me, to write, in itself, is a pleasure. I always have fun doing it :) So I think I will continue, and hope that I am able to keep your interest! :D Yoroshiku! ^v^

See ya all next week then! Take care fellas! Have a nice weekend!