Title: Castling

Word Count: 2358


CASTLING


Echizen Ryoma didn't know what he was doing on Fuji's front steps.

Every sane part of his mind was telling him to flee, and lock himself in his bedroom far away from anything else that could hurt him. The insane part of his mind, the one that seemed to be taking charge lately, forced him to stay rooted on the spot. He didn't know why he chose Fuji's place of all houses.

It was possibly the worst place to come.

Ryoma shifted and rang the doorbell again, anxiety flooding his body. He knew he looked like a mess, with his red eyes and blotchy cheeks; hair askew and broken heart. Maybe the reason why he was at Fuji's doorstep was because he knew of all people, Fuji would be the last one to pity him. Of course he wouldn't pity me, Ryoma thought, He'll probably be the cruelest, if anything.

His toes curled in his shoes as his body started shaking again. Stop it Ryoma, don't think about! You're not weak!

Just when Ryoma thought the door was never going to open, and just when he had just about had it and was going to turn around, a small creak was brought to his attention. Immediately, he stiffened up and forced a blank face, though he knew it was pretty pointless in his current condition. The door opened very slowly, almost as if tormenting him.

And not a second later, the face of someone he had avoided for the past six months appeared in the doorway.

Up close, Fuji still looked like an angel. His slender body leaned against the door frame, smile eerily calm, the casual sweatpants and hoodie looking abnormal against his glass-like porcelain skin. Honey-brown hair framed his face, soft and shiny in the evening sunlight. For a few seconds, Ryoma just blinked and stared.

"Echizen," Fuji said in a deathly serene voice. Blue eyes flashed open, smoldering hot. They were unwelcoming.

This snapped Ryoma out of his trance and he took a step back, his mouth falling open the slightest. He knew he had expected Fuji to be harsh, but seeing the look in his eyes now reminded him why this was such a stupid idea. He realized he was just seeking comfort, and had fooled himself into thinking Fuji would provide it. Of course he wouldn't, you baka, Ryoma thought, and tears pooled his eyes in an instant. What am I doing here?

"Echizen," Fuji said, lips pursed, smile melting away. "Is there something you want?"

The lack of sympathy made it really hard for Ryoma to hold back his tears, although he attempted desperately. He didn't want to seem completely vulnerable in front of Fuji. Acting vulnerable with Fuji was probably the worst mistake a person could make.

Ryoma sniffled, and swiped at his eyes. He slowly matched his gaze with Fuji's. "Sanada broke up with me."

The moment he said it, he wished he hadn't. He sounded so stupid, like a heartbroken little girl. With his fists clenched at his sides, he braced himself for the slaughter of words that were to come. Fuji wouldn't let him off easy. He never let anyone off easy. Just as he predicted, Fuji's smile returned, although it was impossibly colder than before.

"Isn't that a surprise?" he said in a soft murmur. Emotions danced on his face. "I suppose you're here to take me back."

Ryoma quickly shook his head. "No, actually, I-" he paused, and more tears threatened to spill over. He shivered on the spot. "I don't know why I'm here."

Fuji observed Ryoma's trembling gaze, and the serene smile stayed firm on his face. He was angry beyond belief, recalling the words from six months ago twist cruelly in his mind. He remembered the hurt he had felt, the kind of hurt that Fuji Syuuske was never supposed to feel. He had opened up to someone for the very first time, and Ryoma had abused it. And Fuji never gave second chances.

"Do you want to come in?" he finally asked in his alluring voice.

Ryoma looked surprised, and his eyebrows rose. He nodded and said in a small voice, "Hai,"

Fuji left the door open and disappeared into the hallway. Hesitantly, Ryoma stepped inside, his insides still shaking up a storm. He told himself to get away before he got hurt twice in a single day, but something kept him inside. Maybe he wanted to get more hurt, deeply hurt by Fuji, because somehow that might get rid of the guilt.

He can hurt me all he wants, Ryoma thought determinedly, And I'll take it.

"Come in the living room," Fuji drawled out. Ryoma followed the voice and stumbled into a warm room. Sunlight filtered in through the window and brightened up the ivory couches and sturdy bookshelves. The tiles were sleek with shine, and the walls were painted bright white. The twelve-year old cautiously walked over to where Fuji was.

"Everyone's out," Fuji said quietly.

Ryoma felt his skin prickle. "Oh."

The silence was unnerving. Fuji smiled and pointed. "Yuuta was home. We were playing a little chess, but he had to leave because Mizuki called him."

For the first time since he stepped into the room, Ryoma noticed a little chess board. It was old and worn, like it had been used every day for several years. He could see the creamy white and pitch black pieces scattered across the board, and Ryoma didn't have to think twice to know Fuji was the white pieces.

He was winning by a lot.

"Do you want to play?" Fuji asked faintly, surprising Ryoma.

There was something about his voice, so innocently deceiving, that Ryoma felt dread fill in the pit of his stomach. The invitation wasn't just a nonchalant gesture. There was something behind it, and Ryoma found himself taking a step back, not wanting to play chess. But another part of his mind wondered if he should agree, just to try to get things normal between them again. Maybe it would take his mind off of Sanada.

Before Ryoma could make the choice, Fuji shot him a hard stare, blue eyes shatteringly cold.

It was a demand, not a question. Ryoma swallowed and nodded, and tears stung at his eyes again. He shook it off. "Sure," he said.

They sat down across from each other, as opponents. Fuji looked confident, more than usual, and Ryoma had a feeling that the reason why the chess board looked so old and worn was because Fuji used it often. He gulped, and wiped his sweaty hands on his shorts, wondering why he had to take Yuuta's side. Yuuta was already losing badly, so Fuji was at an advantage.

That didn't seem to matter to Fuji. He took his dainty fingers and moved a pawn forward. "So," he said flippantly, "Sanada broke up with you?"

Ryoma went diagonal with his bishop. He should have known there was more to this than a chess game. He was trapped, sitting in front of Fuji Syuuske playing chess, and now the prodigy could hurt him all he wanted. The lithe figure hardened his expression and nodded. "Yeah, he did. He liked Yukimura-senpai all along. I should have figured."

He wished his voice didn't crack, but it did.

Fuji said, "Focus on the game," and he promptly moved his pawn to kill Ryoma's horse. Ryoma blinked, and found himself glaring. He wanted to say, You're the one distracting me, but his voice stayed stuck in his throat and he only stared at the chess board helplessly. He couldn't focus if his life depended on it.

He went for moving a pawn forward, as that never hurt anyone.

Fuji smiled, but it was a twisty, mean sort of smile. "Karma, huh?"

Ryoma's fingers trembled, and he steadied them immediately. "Focus, Fuji-senpai,"

"Back to senpai, hm?"

The twelve-year old's head shot up, and his voice shook, "Back to Echizen, hm?" he retaliated.

There was only silence afterwards, in which Fuji took another genius move, smartly knocking Ryoma's second king over. Ryoma noticed with slight injustice that his Queen had already been knocked out previously when Yuuta had been playing, putting him at a major disadvantage. With a clouded mind, he moved his bishop in a random direction, hoping it was safe.

"You know Ryoma," Fuji said, "I'll get Sanada back for what he did to you. After all, payback is my specialty."

Ryoma's knees knocked together nervously, because hope was creeping up his throat. Fuji cared about him enough to want to get back at who had hurt him? The hope deflated immediately when Fuji shot him a look that made him want to crumble.

"Of course, that is not to say, that you deserve it," Fuji delicately moved a step with his pawn, speculating the game. "I hope you don't think I'll ever take you back. I'm not in the mood to be a rebound boyfriend, especially after what you did to me."

Ryoma felt the lump in his throat return. Why was he doing this again? "The game," Ryoma tried to say, but his voice sounded choked.

"Of course, the game," Fuji said ethereally, and a chuckle escaped his parted lips. "It was all a game to you, wasn't it? Funny, I always thought it would be the other way around."

Ryoma clenched his fists in his lap, and every part of his body vibrated. He knew the words were supposed to hurt, and even though Fuji wasn't saying anything too mean, each sentence felt like a stab in the chest. I brought this on myself, a tiny voice in the back of Ryoma's voice whispered, and it was the only thing keeping him from crying.

"It wasn't a game," he said stiffly, and his fingers absentmindedly moved another pawn.

Fuji knocked it out with his own. "Yes it was," he said, and the smile returned, "But Echizen, you should know that when it comes to games, I never lose."

Ryoma wondered what that meant, but he didn't really want to dwell on it. The pain from Sanada's break up weighed heavily on his chest, and he cursed himself again and again for being so stupid as to go to Fuji's place. It was too much pressure, too much pain for his twelve-year old self to handle. From the flood of tears he had tried so desperately to hold back, a single stray one fell and slid down his cheek.

He hastily wiped it away. "I'm sorry," he said tightly, staring at the chessboard.

Fuji looked directly at him, smile unnerving. "It's your move."

"Don't wanna play," Ryoma said, and suddenly he felt so small, like a tiny child.

"It's your move," Fuji repeated, but this time his voice was sharp.

Ryoma's vision blurred as he stared at the chessboard. Almost all of his pieces were knocked out, either from when Yuuta had been playing and from his lack of concentration in the game. He didn't care. He couldn't wait until he lost. That was probably the first time he had welcomed losing so openly.

With shaking hands, he slid the King a step left, with no actual reason behind it. "Fuji-senpai," he said, "I'm sorry."

"Apology not accepted," Fuji replied calmly.

Ryoma started shaking harder, and the tears started spurting out before he could stop them. "Please Fuji-senpai, I'm not asking us to get together again or something, I just want things to be normal again. I'm sorry, I know I hurt you, and I'm a baka for dumping you for Sanada. I was just confused. Please, I'm sorry." His voice had risen to a high-pitched tone, and his shoulders were shaking so hard he was afraid there was something wrong with him. "I didn't come here to make you my rebound boyfriend, or take you back just because I don't have anybody anymore…I just want things to be back to normal."

Fuji opened his eyes, and the icy blue softened a touch. "You know I don't do second chances."

"I'm not asking for a second chance," Ryoma shuddered, and the tears kept coming. "I just want to stop having to avoid you, and I want you to stop hating me."

He's just a child, one part of Fuji's mind said, but the dominant part refused. Hurt and resentment had blinded him the past six months, and he would not let his victim escape so easily. It was unfair, what Ryoma had done to him, after Fuji had been so good to him too. Ryoma had had Fuji coiled around his pinkie finger, and Fuji hadn't minded.

But once the coil untangled, and Ryoma made a mistake, there was no going back.

"It's not easy for things to just snap back to normal," Fuji said gently.

Ryoma didn't feel like himself. His whole body seemed to be shaking, and the tears were flowing down his face like a waterfall. He could hear himself making noises; whimpers, sobs, the pain of the past few months finally exploding. With the amount of crying he was doing, he couldn't see a thing, only a blur of a figure that he knew as Fuji.

Why did I break up with him in the first place? Why did I have to ruin everything?

"Maybe someday, Ryoma, things can go back to normal."

The smaller boy heard the clack of one of his pieces being knocked over, but at this point, the chess game didn't matter. Ryoma's head pounded as he continued to cry, feeling like he would never stop. Then, as if the air around him seemed to have frozen, Fuji leaned forward. Ryoma's muscles went tight and he just sat there, gold eyes wide and wet with tears as Fuji's toxic breath tingled against his nape. There was a long moment of silence, before Fuji spoke:

"Checkmate," Fuji said softly. He stood up, and the chair creaked as it was pushed back in. His footsteps echoed in Ryoma's ears until they faded into silence.


A/N: This was inspired by the song 'Castling' by the Narrative, where they use a chess game as a metaphor.