Minna! (^u^)/ Ogenkidesu ka? (Mata) Osoku natte sumanai! (^_^;)

I apologize for being a dishonorable wretch (I promised a far sooner update…) *sigh* Lots of things happened, and I lost a bit of my inspiration... I am always working/studying nowadays too… So it's become a bit difficult… But I am really thankful for your unending enthusiasm!

Special thanks to Slythclover who has become a dear friend and sister at heart! She volunteered to beta this chapter when I told her I was having problems. This chappie would have been impossible without her help! *raises a glass of champagne* Here's to your incredible zeal and your genius! You Rock! (^u^)-b

Anyway… I finally made it through…

Sa! Enryonaku!

Warnings: Small amount of lime, length, oocness… plot…? (o_O)

Disclaimer: If they were mine...! *thinks for a moment* I guess not much would have changed… f(^u^) :p

Please do support the author and publishers by buying the novels and DVDs!

Chapter 19 Impasse

"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why."

Kurt Vonnegut

Riki opened his eyes to a gentle, wet, warm caress on his face, and grumbled slightly. He started at the roughness of the texture and then realized what was going on, as he saw Cal take away the towel and greet him.

"You're up, Master Riki!"

Riki sighed and mumbled sleepily as he felt his head throb, closing his eyes once more. And not a second passed before the picture of dancing flames and acrid smoke flashed by, filling his senses with suffocation, and his stomach roiled. He shot up, instantly awake, to see the room blur as his eyes automatically filled with tears and his mind clouded with emotions and he turned to Cal with weak words falling from his lips.

"Where is Iason?"

"He is just outside, with Lord Am."

Riki nodded and then turned his thoughts inward, knowing now that his Blondie was indeed here and safe. He forced himself to take in deep breaths and slowly get past the initial choking feeling, forcing his mind away from the physical memory of fire and smoke and death. Only to return to face it with a regained rationale.

Guy was no more. His best friend had surrendered himself to death because of his actions. And despite every step he had taken to insult, injure and even destroy him, Riki felt nothing but remorse at his passing. Guy had turned into a monster because of him. Had he been a little more careful, a little more thoughtful and wary of his ex-partner's feelings, this would never have happened. For Guy, who had wanted to help even a scoundrel traitor like Kirie, to utter words of such cruelty… For Guy to shoot at him a glance of pure hatred, madness… He shook his head. No. It was impossible that Guy was a person who'd do what he did willingly. He had been the force pushing on him to act out in desperation. But no one could help it, for it was in the past, and the past was dead as well. What was he left with? A dreadful guilt that robbed all his strength. The fact that everything was his fault, and he did not deserve to live any longer.

"You will not burn while I watch, Riki."

He smiled and then scoffed at the remembrance. Apparently, he would not be allowed to die either.

For some reason, other than the persistent guilt that stuck to his heart like a thorn, he felt extreme unease, as if he wanted some kind of reassurance. He wanted to make sure that all that had happened had been real. And that Iason had cared enough to come to his rescue when he had faced the lowest ever words of insult, that too from a friend's mouth. That one moment when Iason had immediately obeyed his unspoken plea, no matter how everything had proceeded later, had boosted his defeated spirit, and rejuvenated his confidence. He had actually felt happy at the Blondie's gesture, not confused, irritated, angry or suspicious. He wanted to see Iason.

Riki stood up, his body tingling with an electric current, slightly unsteady, observing the furniture's reluctant silence and smiled. He wobbled, but held up a hand to stop the furniture from rushing to support him, as he walked to the entrance of the chamber and stood against the wall, as if hiding from the view of the Blondie. He beckoned to Cal to come closer. He didn't really want to go see the Blondie while he was still deep in discussion with Raoul; all the other Blondies were basically eyesores, so he hesitated. The thought suddenly hit him that he could do a bit of his own spying to know more of the situation, more of Iason's plans. Besides, pain shot through his almost numb feet, making it very difficult for another step further. He looked over to Cal.

"Hold the door open for a few seconds for me will you?"

Cal nodded, without any further comment, as he moved over to stand in front of the automatic door, as it opened with an almost soundless whirr that remained unnoticed amongst all the sounds in the room. And the conversation floated in as Riki listened raptly.

"This is madness, Iason."


"All of this for that filthy thing you call a pet. For an insignificant, lewd creature which left you for a mongrel? Riki is the crux of this problem isn't he? Then I'll take care of him. That should solve all this."

The voice neared the room as it was spoken. The Blondie was shouting in anger, something he had never witnessed before. Weren't Blondies supposed to be self-controlled, stone-cold and beyond expression of any emotion? Weren't they all supposed to be like the Iason Mink he had met on that street that night? What had happened to cause such a disturbance?

"Raoul. Don't."

The words were cold, sharp, inflectionless. Iason Mink, at his best. He smiled, as he shivered and realized that those two words had been enough to cause goose bumps.

"Tch. You have become unfair, Iason. Enough. I am leaving."

And the Blondie's footsteps sounded across as he stomped out of the room in obvious irritation. Riki closed his eyes and walked back to the bed, sitting down facing away from the door, as if to escape those accusations.

"All this for that filthy thing you call a pet."

He nodded to Cal, who moved away from his position, closing the open portal.

What was all that about? Had something else come up? Something more serious than all that had already happened in the past few hours? Hadn't this whole incident cleared up a hanging danger for Iason? Had something troublesome occurred that put Iason in a difficult situation once again? And was he really the cause?

He turned to Cal.

"What were they discussing?"

After a pregnant pause and an impatient grunt from Riki, Cal spoke, with a reluctant, heavy expression.

"… About Master Iason's will…"

"Will?" asked the mongrel, immediately distracted. What would make the great Blondie even think of a will?

Cal hesitated before again he spoke. Informing the mongrel of his master's present situation seemed the wrong move, given Riki's own mental condition. But he decided quickly, as he began. There was no use trying to keep this from the pet. He would know it soon enough anyway.

"After you left… Master Iason was summoned by Jupiter once again. I do not know what happened with Jupiter, but I heard Lord Am later, trying to convince the Master that he had been ordered to get his staff ready immediately and that he categorically refused to do that. But-"

"Ready? To do what?"

"Master Riki… Lord Am is the head of bio-research in Tanagura. He… is the one who oversees the mind-tampering procedures that are ordered…"

Riki sucked in a breath, as he understood that. Iason had been too reckless, coming to save him. The fact that Dana Burn was now destroyed would have caused far too many ripples in the society than could be explained, not to forget the fact that Iason himself had perhaps been seen by various people in both Midas and Ceres, going towards the bunkers. Even if the rest of the society was pacified with plausible excuses, Jupiter would not be fooled. Everything they had done, all the rules they had broken, had culminated to this point, and Iason was being judged for everything. After more than four years of patience, Jupiter had finally made it's move. And if it warranted procedures such as making a will, it would seem indeed that even Iason Mink could not find a way out. Cal was still speaking, but Riki could hear nothing. He placed a hand on his forehead which began throbbing again, as the words he'd heard echoed in his mind.

"All this for that filthy thing you call a pet."

Indeed. It defied explanation that Iason would tolerate something this serious for his sake. To make a will would mean that the Blondie was ready to accept Jupiter's sentence. And that… That just could not be! The mighty leader of Tanagura could not accept an unfair sentence like that! And Iason was the ultimate fighter and rebel! But with this move… It was almost as if he was all for the execution of the sentence!

"Then I'll take care of him. That should solve all this."

Raoul's reaction reminded him of Guy. That was the way Guy had reacted to his return to Eos. That was the way any follower would react toward his leader. Nobody, not even the vilest of the Blondies would be ready to accept Iason's decision casually. That was the way it was and would always be. For, Iason was the central pivot that single-handedly controlled all of Amoi. It would be impossible to find someone as efficient, as shrewd as him even among the Blondies, even he knew that. And as a leader himself, he understood the implications of this act of surrender.

Riki chuckled bitterly. Leader of a gang of five unruly brats, operating out of the nastiest of locales, and he'd had such pride, such self-importance as to defy and insult a Blondie whose words controlled a whole planet, when in fact, he was insignificant; nothing but a bug who'd get crushed by a single flick of the Blondie's fingers. But… But he had fallen in love with that majesty, that arrogance, that cruelty… Now that all of that was threatened, couldn't he do anything? Was it his turn to risk something, maybe even lose something more, to save Iason?

He shook his head. He could hardly think straight. Right now, he was weak. Weak and confused enough to be intimidated by his own thoughts. Yet his mind kept returning to the issue.

It was impossible. No matter how one looked at it, it was impossible that the Blondie would be ready to go through with this. It was impossible that the Blondie would have no plans to, at the least, escape Jupiter's wrath somehow. He knew how the Blondie was, the way he worked, the reason he was superior, persistent and arrogant and there wasn't a chance in hell that Iason would submit to the judgment, even if it was an order from Jupiter.

But… What if there was nothing left for him to do? If he was cornered into accepting this? If that was the case, what was the use of a will? He knew that Iason hardly ever cared about possessions.

Riki's eyes widened remembering.

"As long as you've got the pet ring on, you are mine. No matter who says anything, no matter who you may be thinking of."

Iason didn't bother about any possession, as much as he did about him. And as long as the ring was on him, he was Iason's pet, his possession. Was that why he was making the will? To protect him? To make some provision for his safety? But… That just couldn't be. No matter what, it was impossible to even imagine that the Blondie cared enough. If Iason was to forget him, what use was there for protecting him? The idea was illogical, and the Blondie would not do it.

But maybe Iason did actually care? Maybe he did consider him more than a pet? He had come running when Guy had kidnapped him. He had even defied Jupiter, staked his very life to do it.

Riki imagined what the Blondie's reaction would be if he asked him outright if he cared about him, if he had come to save him because he cared… It would be a mocking, superior something, like-

"Don't misunderstand me, Riki. Did you really imagine I would let a mongrel take away what is mine? That I would let him even think that his little plan had worked over the Head of Tanagura? I had to remind him where his place was. I didn't expect him to die, but his death is the cause of his own foolishness, anyway. As for you… Once again, you are my pet, Riki, and I will never, ever let you get away from me."

He scoffed again. Yes, that would be the answer. Iason had come because he couldn't just stand to ignore Guy's insult to his pride. He couldn't let it go without making an example of Guy, to show the world that no one messed with his pride and got away with it. If it came to a choice between allowing such an insult to his pride and staking his life, Iason would probably choose to defend his pride. And…

"That's right, don't forget. You are my pet, Riki."

And because he was Iason's pet, he would always belong to Iason.

Riki smiled at his own foolishness. Indeed, to fall in love with such a creature…

"Riki is the crux of this problem isn't he?"

Was that the truth?

Am I really the reason for your downfall, Iason?

A year ago, maybe even a few weeks ago, he would have rejoiced, despite everything. He would have been proud to have brought the Blondie pervert's fall. But now, he felt real sadness. If what Raoul had said had even a silver of truth, then he had completely destroyed the beautifully perfect elite and made him into this pathetic, prideless, unfair creature who would accept punishment gladly. A sad chuckle escaped his lips.

Once again, it is all my fault.

Two people he had loved, both he had betrayed and brought down, surely unwillingly, even unknowingly. But he was the cause, nevertheless.

A tear escaped the confines of his eyes as his senses returned to the present, still cursing the fate that bound him in such corners and Cal's voice tinkled its explanation.

"Master Iason has requested that Lord Am be the one to perform the procedure. And as for the will… Lord Am is going to be the executor. Usually, the accused person's legal possessions are confiscated and brought under the control of the Tanagura authorities; any will is disregarded. But in the Master's case… I assume he is going to force an exception… I think the Master is doing this to save you, Master Riki."

Riki raised his head to look at the boy's innocent, beautiful face. Cal was so naive, so transparent. He could obviously see that the boy felt deeply about his master and his well-being, despite the stone cold façade.

He tore his eyes away from the furniture to look at the ground. In truth, he wasn't significant. It wasn't at all about him. No matter what, neither Iason, nor Jupiter, nor anyone in Amoi would give a flying fuck about what happened to him after the sentence was executed. But that did not bother him. What bothered him was that he would lose what little he had left too. That he had already lost all that mattered. Now that Guy was gone, none of his actions for almost a year had any meaning. And Iason… Even though Iason didn't care about him, even though he had been the most cruel thing that can ever happen to anyone, he had fallen for him and Iason had always been there. As he rebelled, defied, insulted, mocked, teased, struggled, screamed, surrendered, even as he died every moment while encaged in his arms, Iason had been there. The one rock-solid port, smack in the centre of the hurricane that was his life.

After this, he wouldn't. It felt as if living was a burden to himself, as thoughts forced their way into his mind. After the sentence, he would have no one to satisfy, no one to protect, no one to defy. And he would have no place to return to, no reason to go on.

And even if Iason cared… Even if Iason did care, there would be no difference.

"He doesn't want to hand you over to Jupiter. He would never…" Cal continued, interrupting his reverie once again, trying to convince Riki of some truth that Riki didn't even hear anymore. The abstract look returned, and Cal stopped his speech, now aware that the mongrel was deep in thought. Moments passed in utter silence before there was any reaction. Cal started at the sudden breeze of coldness, and then closed his eyes with a small bow.

Riki scoffed, mocking Cal's previous words. He could imagine, all he wanted, that Iason had really come to care for him, but he could never really know and he didn't really dare to. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Iason was still an elite, a cold blooded, cold hearted elite who knew nothing of passionate feeling, capable of steely, omnipotent control everywhere else, except under the ordinance of lust. And besides, after all the trouble he had caused, after such a situation as this was slowly coming to pass, when, at this very moment, an irreversible shift was slowly coming to completion, what right did he have to even hope for more?

To Iason, he could never be more than a pet. That was his place; that was his worth. He was right to live under this real assumption, rather than to risk his entire existence believing a contrary illusion. He was right to mock the furniture.

"What, Iason would never want me hurt? He would never give me up? He cares if I am in pain...? Or are you saying he loves me?" And then he chuckled. What an absurd thing to think?!

Cal looked up toward door and then at the mongrel, sincerely, feeling the somber mood fill the air. Despite what he thought, knew to be true, despite the fact that he perhaps should tell Riki what he thought, he kept quiet. It was neither his truth, nor his place to say anything. Not anymore. He bowed his head and held his silence.


As soon as Katze left, Iason realized his mistake. If ever he was to get Riki to safety, then Katze would need to be able to come and go out of Eos as he pleased. And as yet, though he could leave Eos when he wanted, entry was still forbidden. He needed to authorize Katze's access codes again. He realized that he shouldn't have restricted it after his return from Scalia. But of course, he could change the status from his personal workspace at home, but the problem here was, every action of his would now be monitored with the highest priority, and every single move would be suspect.

Iason sighed, almost regretting accepting Orphe's ideas to reinforce Eos' security grid, though it was the best to do to protect Tanagura. The previous version, though quite strong was not fool-proof; not something that would pose too many problems for someone as experienced as Katze. But the advanced features of the new one were almost foolproof. Even Katze wouldn't be able to break through it. He had but one way, and that was to officially grant access via a well-monitored record system.

The panel flashed as he accessed the personnel list with their status displayed. Any change would be immediately reported to Jupiter and enforced only if Jupiter approved. He brought up Katze's records and began tampering them to allow access to Eos and a few other areas in Midas where he might be required to go as part of his work, to camouflage the blaring fact that Katze had been given access into Eos. He typed in his authorization code and waited barely a second before the panel responded.

In bold, flashing red. Access Denied.

Iason's eyes widened as he tried again, doubly careful and patient so as not to make a mistake. But the panel only returned those words.

Access Denied.

Jupiter was blocking the change. Which meant he had completely lost the trust of the electronic being. He immediately snatched his communicator and patched a call through to his ex-furniture. Only to be answered by white noise and static, signaling that his communications line had been cut off. And in mere seconds, a communiqué arrived from Jupiter informing him that from this point on, he would be allowed no communication with anyone and will be placed under house arrest to prevent further complications.

If this was going to be how it was, then Iason wanted to do one more thing before he returned to Riki's side. One more measure to make sure things went smoothly. Iason moved over to the brain-gear that he used for the transactions he processed with the black market, disconnecting its uplink and downlink, and all that connected it to the Amoi mainframes, converting it into a makeshift independent terminal. This move limited the range of the machine's capacities, but it was now completely safe from any monitors, even Jupiter's, if only for a short while. That, one was able to do such a thing was a shock, but after Katze had hacked into the system to look into Guardian's secrets, avoiding all of Jupiter's monitors, Iason had had the boy work on this, and report the developments. Had he not been wary of the young furniture and not had an eye on him since the beginning, Katze would have even got away with his initial crime. His skills were well worth the effort indeed.

He hurried, opening the program, the images of the necessary information sliding into view. Then he began the process, linking the necessary circuits, and closing his eyes, waiting as the system accessed each and every corner of his database, faster than ever, transferring the information to an external memory, saving it safely in a location inaccessible to anyone but himself. It was a safety measure, a reassurance if things should go against his interest and a move that he had never considered until now, one that Jupiter would never even think of expecting from him.

He removed the drive as soon as the transfer was complete. If his will was followed, in all probability, the penthouse would remain in the care of Raoul until he returned. And he knew Raoul's mind enough to know that the place would be placed under the care of an efficient furniture, visited only as often as strictly necessary. To place the drive in some intangible location in the penthouse therefore, seemed best for its safety. He walked over to his pet's room and opened a panel that no one even knew existed. Cal seemed to know that Riki was being observed, that every room was being observed, but no one knew where exactly the cameras were placed. He had done it himself, inside Riki's room, making sure that the device was placed where the mongrel would never even suspect.

He snorted slightly, at how well the hidden device had served its purpose and placed the drive inside, making certain that it would not be dislodged when the panel moved back and then quickly closed it and walked out to resume his position at the control system.

Moments hadn't passed before the security detail pinged at the door, surrounding the penthouse so that no one would escape. The captain, Rimus Grimn, a platina who worked directly under Orphe, entered the penthouse and bowed. So, Orphe knew as well. That only multiplied his worries. A bit of discretion, meaning Jupiter using independent droids for this duty, would have given him a hole big enough to slip Katze through. He sighed in his mind.

"Your Excellency. I have been served orders to keep you confined in your penthouse for the time until you fulfill the summons from Jupiter. Neither you nor any member of the household shall leave the premises, and no one shall be allowed inside without the express command from Jupiter. I would very much appreciate it if you would cooperate with the security detail." said the man, once again, bowing deeply.

"I understand Captain. You will have no problems from my side."

"Thank you very much, Your Excellency." said the man relieved. To confine a rebelling elite Blondie was the worst. Not only were Blondies superior in their physical strength, able to knock out his squads easily, but also capable of their superior analytical skills. An escape could never be ruled off. But a word from Lord Mink was all that was required to allay such fears. Iason though quite the rule-breaker was the respected, responsible leader of Tanagura.

"I am afraid that I will also have to post guards inside the penthouse, your Excellency. It will-"

"I know, Captain." Iason smiled. "Make sure that you allow no weakness, or I just might be tempted to escape." He said in a teasing tone. "And if you need anything, do not hesitate to ask my furniture for it."

He stepped to his panel, shut it down, gracefully picked up the glass of wine left nearby and drained it completely before he walked away.

While he had maintained an indifferent composure in front of the captain, Iason was actually desperately angry. If he wasn't able to contact Katze, if Katze wasn't able to get to Riki in time, then there was no telling what would happen to him. Iason had swallowed the drink in fear as he had imagined what would befall Riki in his absence. He needed to get Katze inside Eos, no matter what. But none of the communication systems would work. And he had no authority anymore to allow any access. And his plan heavily depended on Katze getting a hold of Riki.

He was cornered and completely disarmed. He knew that Jupiter wasn't a weak ruler. And despite the feeling of sudden insecurity, he couldn't but stop for a moment to admire the swiftness of Jupiter's decisions. For some mysterious reason, Jupiter had had a soft corner for him, and he had utilized it to the maximum. And he had definitely lost that special place with this incident. Jupiter's orders for his confinement should be taken to mean that his fate was sealed.

Iason snickered. It would have been better after all to have stayed back in Eos, allowing Guy to have Riki. That way, he wouldn't have to be afraid for his pet's life anymore. At least, Riki would be free and happy to live his life as he wished. That way, they would have faced bleak days, but both of them would have survived. Now, he no longer knew if either would survive. Knowing Jupiter, he was sure that hell awaited Riki after his sentence. Iason shoved those dark thoughts away as he entered his chambers quietly to see that Riki was awake and sitting on the bed, facing away from the door. The air was heavy and the hunched mongrel's shoulders gave an impression of some deep thought and Iason smiled. He knew that right now, Riki was in his own world. Only a sudden noise or a direct address would catch his attention. He had just opened his mouth to call out his name when the mongrel's thoughts had spilled.

"What, Iason would never want me hurt? He would never give me up? He cares if I am in pain...? Or are you saying he loves me?"

He heard the chuckle of derision and then let a moment pass before he broke his silence.

"You are dismissed, Cal. See to it that Captain Grimn's requests are fulfilled."

Riki's eyes widened as heard the voice and whipped his head around to see the Blondie once and then he slowly turned back to his previous position with a smile on his face. Impeccable, perfect as always. The Blondie's features burned in his eyes as he re-investigated the image. From the very tip of each white-golden hair to every cell of his body, down to that mocking smirk, perfection itself. It was as if nothing at all had happened, as if there was no danger, no problem, no worry at all in the entire universe. And then, Riki looked at himself. His half-wiped face, the trails of tears, the furrow of worry. How in hell did he even imagine that he could expect care, let alone love, from this beautiful creature who stood there like the moon? Cool and benevolent, but unreachable. Even being the tyrant and cruel sadist he was, Iason was incomparably superior to him. It was a shallow comparison, but even in a 'skin-deep' view, he could not compete with the perverted Blondie bastard. And how at all…

"Riki." interrupted a cold, yet soft call.

He sighed as he stood up, his eyes focused on the floor, and turned to face the Blondie.

"You need a bath…"

And Riki bowed, making his way to the bathroom, ignoring the pain that shot through his limbs.

Iason watched as the mongrel faltered, his gait unsteady, and his heart lurched. Why was Riki like this? He had assumed that the unsteadiness had come due to a weakened resolve more than anything else, but he now found it worrying. Had Guy injured him in some way?

"What's wrong with your legs?" he directed.

"It is nothing to worry about. It'll pass."

That worried him even further.

"Riki." He called sharply, a demand for explanation.

The pet sighed before he replied.

"It is the delayed side-effect of a stun gun. The type the Black Guards use…"

Iason's eyebrows furrowed in confusion for a moment, before he understood.

"Guy stunned you? You didn't go along with his plans by yourself?"

"No. He stunned me and then kidnapped me."

Iason laughed rhetorically.

"A fool, wasn't he? You would have listened and gone voluntarily if he had but asked, right?"

Riki looked up and glared at the Blondie before he resumed hobbling to the bath. Iason spoke again.

"Does that mean you wouldn't have gone with him?" He smirked, and then inhaled a deep breath, allowing the unexpected pang of joy to rise into his mind.

Riki didn't answer. The next step had him trembling as a jolt of tingling pain assaulted him and he gasped.

He saw the mongrel waver and immediately rushed to his side, lifting him up and then rushing to the bath, depositing him to sit up on a counter as he set the temperature of the water, added the usual salts and allowed a second for the tub to fill up.

Riki looked at the Blondie with slight amusement. Despite all the intimacy that they had shared, Iason had insisted that this little chore be done by the furniture, if ever Riki needed the help. The sudden warmth that he felt looking at the Blondie do such a menial thing for him caused a slight shudder to pass through his already electrified body. Why was the Blondie doing this? Riki snickered curiously, an action that didn't go unnoticed by the Blondie who dipped his fingers into the water, casually checking its temperature.

"You haven't yet answered me Riki."

"Hmmm? What was the question again?"

Annoyed at the pet's nonchalant tone Iason sent an icy glare towards the boy.

Riki snickered again before he answered seriously, thoughtfully.

"Even if I went with him, I wouldn't really be free, would I?"

"Would you have gone if I'd removed the ring?" he asked patiently.

Riki remained quiet. Did he want to accept it? Did he want to tell the Blondie that he wouldn't have, ever, listened to Guy? Did he want to tell Iason that the ring wouldn't have bound him anymore even otherwise, and that he wasn't referring to the ring at all? Did he want Iason to know what he truly felt for him at this moment? At this moment, when love or hate would make no difference? When their separation was fated? Silence was his only refuge.

Iason chuckled as he stood up and stripped the mongrel of all his clothes and lifted him. Riki looked up puzzled, as the Blondie lowered him slowly into the tub and then retreated to lean against a wall with a serious expression. The entire exchange was strange because it was new, and unexpected. But Riki relaxed, coaxed into it by the heavenly warm water that surrounded his body, and sighed, as his mind returned to its meditation, and some facts that had escaped his notice came up to the surface.

"Guy… He told me that Dana Burn was shielded. That you couldn't trace me there… How did you find me?"

"Katze's tracer. It contained a radio bug, ancient technology that was used during the siege. The rebels needed supplies to sustain the siege and the only way to obtain them was by contacting their allies in Ceres. The only thing that could pass under Jupiter's monitors undetected was using ultra low frequency radio waves. It is but a guess, but I think they made provisions for the bunkers to allow those waves. But the range was limited only till Ceres. Katze picked up the signal while he was in the slums."

"Looking for me?"

"Yes…" Iason sighed. "I should have understood that you would be in Dana Burn as soon as I found that the ring's tracer didn't work. But I thought even someone as reckless as you wouldn't willingly go into that ghastly place. And I guessed you'd had enough time to escape from Amoi before we found you…"

Riki scoffed.

"Guy was always like that." A soft trembling melancholy had crept into his voice. "A bit stupid, despite all his planning. I would have run like hell away from Amoi as soon as I had what I wanted, if I had been in his place… Fuck the ring, I'd find a way to get it off somehow later, after I was in some safe location, galaxies away. Heck, I even had the money."

Indeed, that was his Riki. Completely unmethodical, spontaneous, instinctive, yet absolutely effective. Iason would have searched for years, and maybe never found him, and maybe even gone mad due to the separation and the weight of the insult to his pride, if it all had happened by Riki's choice. He could have done this anytime after moving into Apatia. Yet, Riki had chosen to stay, despite the relative freedom he had granted. Even without the words, Iason knew now how deeply the mongrel cared.

Iason thought for a moment. It was a bit late that this realization, this understanding had come and dispelled the toxic jealousy and rage he had felt. For things were not under his control anymore. Now that Katze's movement was restricted, Iason was not really sure how Riki could get away, how he would get to safety. There was no one who he could trust enough to actually entrust Riki to. He scoffed in his mind. How did things turn out like this? He had always known that a day would come when he would have to pay his dues for all those little acts of disobedience, but he hadn't really expected for it to happen so soon. With the kidnapping and that spectacularly explosive suicide, that mongrel had caused far more problems than he could handle. And he was really caught , something in his mind told him it would work out somehow. It wasn't really his style to let things happen naturally and wait for the favorable moment without trying anything to quicken its arrival, but he had no other go, but to trust in that 'gut' feeling.

He looked down at the mongrel, admiring the way he seemed to own the luxury. Even in that oversized, ill-suited tub, Riki looked like a prince, the splotches of grime on his body notwithstanding. His thoughts drifted to the mongrel, even as his mind rebelled. There were far more important things to think of, far too many worries in his mind.

But there wasn't much more he could do. And there wasn't going to be such an opportunity again. He might not even be alive to say it, and even if he was alive, he would never be able to know someone this way, love someone like this. Riki had confessed his feelings, not directly to him, but to Cal. Neverthless, he had heard that confession. This wasn't the time to hold back. And besides, it was an open secret that apparently only Riki didn't realize. He smiled and then looked at the mongrel who had closed his eyes, parted his lips and sunk into the oversized tub, sighing, relishing the warmth of the water. He let the pet lay there and simply observed for quite some time.

Hours could have passed as he thought. For there was much to think about, but it had to end here. There wasn't nearly enough time. And surely, this wasn't the moment to be scheming.

He cleared his throat, calling the mongrel's attention, and then carefully repeated Riki's words in the same tone Riki had said it in, looking pointedly at the now open eyes.

"What, Iason would never want me hurt? He would never give me up? He cares if I am in pain...? Or are you saying he loves me?"

"You… heard that, huh?" muttered the surprised mongrel.

There was no more response, and he did not press for an answer as he thought of his next move. To do this was beneath him, considering he was the master and Riki the pet. It was something he had always avoided, lest his soft actions be taken as a sign of a master's weakness. But he had stopped caring after a while, though the habit had stuck with him. It didn't make any difference now, did it, even if he gave the entirety of the control to the mongrel and obeyed as he bid him to?

Iason smiled, simply enjoying the thought as he lathered the mongrel's hair first, gently brushing through the locks, then prepared the sponge and knelt down, slowly running it across the exposed neck and collarbone. Riki's eyes shot open, while Iason whispered seriously into his ears.

"What if I said 'Yes.'"

Riki swallowed loudly as he analyzed the whispered words. Yes? Yes, Iason would never want to hurt him? Yes, he would never give him up? Yes, he cared if he was in pain? And yes, he... No... No way... He scoffed in his mind. This was the height of absurdity!

Yes… He loves me?


He turned to look at the Blondie and saw that smirk. That smirk meant a hundred things, and prime among them were teasing and mocking. That smirk meant that anything that follows should be closely scrutinized for hidden meanings. What was Iason doing?

"If I say, "Yes, I love you…" Would you say the same?" said the Blondie with a slight chuckle.

So, was this an 'if-then' game? Riki felt confused. The words were indeed light, the smirk was in place, but the eyes did not agree with either. There was gravity, significance and seriousness in those radiant blue eyes.

But that was all the Blondie would say before he proceeded to shift and order the mongrel to move and scrubbed him.

Riki obeyed the little commands that were issued, allowing the Blondie his freedom, as his mind wandered.

"Riki is the crux of this problem, isn't he?"

"He doesn't want to hand you over to Jupiter."

"Yes, I love you…"

Was this really a game? Did the Blondie mean it at all? Was it another little tactic of his to achieve something? Was it a test to see his reaction and decide something important? Was he saying it influenced by the current situation? Was Iason really in love with him?

Riki gasped as his mind was wrenched away from the train of thought and focused on the single point that was being caressed and returned to reality to see the sponge making lazy circles near his now exposed thighs, and brushed a dormant desire to life. He realized that he had risen from the water, and was now sitting on the side of the tub, with feet lathered in soap stretched across to reach the other side, making it easier for the Blondie to scrub his body. When the said member twitched further in response, he heard the slight chuckle from the form behind him which kept retracing its circuit on his body, awakening a stronger response.

"Get in the tub and rinse off."

Riki obeyed. He shivered slightly as the Blondie's fingers joined the drizzling water and caressed his skin, helping the suds of soap leave his body.

Iason didn't wait much longer when he saw how deeply the mongrel was now affected. His breath was almost a pant, his hands trembled ever so slightly, his eyes had darkened to a fiery coal black and gained their usual shine, his lips remained parted. Not that he didn't like playing with his Riki like this, but there was still much more that he wanted to do.

"Come out Riki."

Riki didn't protest. He was too tired to protest, too weak, too confused and extremely aroused. He stepped out of the tub and took the few steps it required to snatch a towel from the droid that handed it to him, dried himself wordlessly and knotted it at his waist, like he usually did, ignoring the hardened flesh.

Iason laughed, puzzled by the mongrel's reflex response.

"What is that for?" he mocked and then ordered, "Take it off and come here, pet."

Riki stood where he was for a moment, hesitating. He gritted his teeth as he felt heat rise to his face and looked straight at the Blondie with conviction. Why did he suddenly so feel embarrassed?

Iason watched as the mongrel slowly made his way to him and as soon as Riki was within his reach, he grabbed his hands, held them above his head and then turned to pin Riki against the cold wall. Riki gasped as he felt the sudden cold against his back and glared in irritation.

Amused laughter bubbled up in his chest as he saw his pet's glare and advanced to nudge the mongrel's thighs apart. He let go of the mongrel's left hand and bent down low, nipping at his neck as he whispered.

"Relieve yourself, Riki."

Riki ground his teeth once again, trying to gain some semblance of control over the reactions of his own body, as his free hand trembled and he shivered both from the cold and from the warmth of the body that encaged him.

Iason saw that the mongrel was clenching his fists and decided it wasn't enough. Riki needed a bit more coaxing before he gave in, no matter what the situation, no matter how many times it happened. He smiled as he trailed his fingers across the mongrel's neck and then lodged his knee upwards, gently rubbing over Riki's engorged member, and smiled again at the corresponding moan he received.

"Do it, Riki." He whispered, nuzzling the crook of the exposed neck, sending thrilling vibrations through the mongrel's body.

Never so soon. Riki's instincts forbade it and he struggled, trying to free himself. His reflexes were trained to disobey.

"Don't order me…" A caustic retort, issued from between clenched teeth.

More. His pet wanted more. And he responded to that want, that need, to tear down his defenses. But this time…

Iason exhaled, causing a breathy gasp from his pet, as his free hand wandered to the trembling chest beneath him and caressed the protrusions on it softly, lingering at spots which caused the most distress to his pet. He smiled once again to see the skin flush and color, and then removed his face from the crook of his shoulder to look at the mongrel's eyes.

When Iason moved away from him, Riki's eyes followed the motion to see warm blue eyes accosting his own, a plea in them asking for his obedience rather than demanding it.

"Do it."

It wasn't a command. To rebel now when there was no command, when the force of the Blondie's will was weak would be a technically liable escape tactic. But he didn't want to, he couldn't do it. He wanted to yield.

Riki closed his eyes and exhaled as he directed his free arm to do his bidding, and pleasure began its slow assault, as his vision filled with pictures, a memory of their first time in that place in Midas and the innumerable times he had been forced to do this in front of the tyrant. But, no matter how he tried, it wasn't enough. Neither the constant strokes, nor the mental fantasy was enough. It was a cruel thing, for his co-ordination was slightly hindered with the tingles of leftover electricity that still coursed through his limbs; furthermore was the fact that his dominant hand was still held captive.

"Iason…" he sighed.

The Blondie closed his eyes and inhaled as a thrill of pure pleasure shot through his spine listening to the mongrel's sigh. And he gave in, releasing his grip on the boy's dominant hand, tipping the unsuspecting mongrel's face upwards, initiating a languid, heart-stopping kiss and pushed the mongrel's busy hand away, replacing it with his own in one fluid move.

Riki gasped and moaned into the kiss before he withdrew slightly letting a long drawn breath escape, looking deep into the Blondie's eyes as he watched, and raised his now free arms to cling to Iason's clothed back, bunching the material, lost in the overwhelming expertise of his touch.

"Say it, Riki…"

"I… I…" Riki gasped, as his control wavered and he finally let go, clenching his eyes shut, exploding quite unexpectedly.

The Blondie smiled, and then kissed the mongrel once again, tenderly, letting him bask in pleasure for a little while, as his breathing normalized.

"Say it, Riki."

Riki looked up at the depth in Iason's eyes, realizing that the Blondie was serious about it. Yet, he couldn't say it. Because, even now, there was doubt, uncertainty. Blondies were partly machines; they couldn't fall in love. And despite all his peculiarities, Iason was a Blondie. To the Blondie, he was still certain, all of it was a game. And he wasn't a toy to be played with. To give him what he wanted would be a defeat worse than any, no matter what his heart wanted. It would be an insult to Guy who had done all that with the sole intent of rescuing his self-esteem.

Yet… Not only had the Blondie saved him, he had also restored his defeated pride there in Dana Burn. And added to that, Iason was now accepting punishment for him… Well maybe not really for him, but he had been a key reason for it.

Riki owed him the truth. And he knew it. Yet…

"I am hungry." he muttered, fully ready for a wave of force from his master, demanding that he obey his order.

But all he received was a small smirk and then another tender kiss.

"Let's eat then." The Blondie replied as he snatched a robe and wrapped it around him and walked him out of his chamber.

Riki looked around to see the guards posted inside the penthouse. Was the security being increased? Was it because of the explosion? He walked up to the makeshift table where he had his meals, only to be restrained by a tug on his hand. He looked at Iason questioningly, and was answered by a stiff smirk and an invitation.

"Dine with me tonight, Riki."

Riki scoffed as he sat down at the indicated seat and smiled, still a little disturbed.

"Iason… What's going on?" he directed with a sharp glance, which was responded to again with a stiff smirk.

"It's nothing to worry about, Riki. I am just being placed under house arrest."

So… This is the part where you throw stuff and I decide whether to stay and take it, or run away… XDD Like it? Hate it? Boring? Tell me! I will love you for it! XD

Thanks for reading, reviewing, following, favoriting, and most of all, for waiting so long to read this crap! And apologies again to have kept you waiting. Please forgive me? =3

Dear Prospero-dono,

If you're still reading this…. It's been a month or so, so perhaps it will seem even more out of context than it did when I updated within weeks… XDDD But I would love to address your comment about memory! :D

Yes, I also believe that memory is much more intangible than currently assumed. It is hard to believe or disbelieve things like past-life memories, because they are very relative, obscure, ne? Mystical even, I'd say! Most of the times, it would be quite unverifiable, I would think! :) But the times it is verifiable… It's just baffling! Though as intelligent beings, we deny it, science still does not have the answers to everything! :D And... Well, I think that like intelligence and wisdom, fact and legend usually kinda complement each other, rather than oppose. Where one lacks, the other fills in! lol! I sound so unscientific, so I guess there must be a bit of truth in what I believe! XDDDDD Well, actually there is a lot more, and I would write pages upon pages on this specific topic, but… I'd bore you and everyone who's reading this! XD So I'll leave it here!

I have heard of the Hagakure, though not read it… And I kinda shivered at that quote… I am learning a huge lot from you, Prospero-dono! Thank you for all the wisdom, and your encouragement!

*in an inappropriately masculine baritone* Sore ni… Sessha wa an'nani toshiyori ya kashikoi janai de gozaru na… Seishiki wa dame de gozaru! Sore demo tsukau nara, '-chan' te yonde itadaitai... de gozaru! ;) (^▽^) (Am I making sense? XDD)

On a much more unrelated and common note, it seems like that weekend was Samurai weekend for me! First I chat with a dear friend about various things, and the topic of Rurouni Kenshin (I'm a huge fan!) comes up, and then I have a friend bring over a DVD of the 2012 live-action movie (I didn't even look or care if it was an original copy! XDD Wherever he got it, however he managed to lay his hand upon it, bless his soul! I'd been waiting for some time! And it was beautiful, btw *melting at the memory*) and it gets me thinking about the Samurai. I see your review with the quote from Hagakure! And then I get to read a piece of fanfiction which brings "shudo" into my mind! Such coincidences seem to rule my life nowadays! :D (I was srsly hoping I to meet with some really cool Ninja or something over the week! XDDD)

Ah?! :O I have been nothing but kind to the characters! Kindness is my second nature! XDDD *lol, what a load of crap! XDDD* I will try my best to be merciful towards our heroes! :D

Dear Dardar-dono, I've been wanting to thank you for your enthusiasm for a while now, but I saw that your PM feature has been disabled. I know, it is perhaps because you want your privacy, but I cannot go anymore without thanking your enthusiasm, which has been the cause of more than a smile, more than just once! :) Forgive me if I breached a line by drawing attention to you like this, but, thank you very, very much for your continued support! (^u^) Korekara mo yoroshiku!

De wa, minna-san! Gokigen'yo! (^u^)/~~