Fifteen ~ Zach
The next thirty-six hours were tough.
David made the calls. That surprised me a lot because I’d thought it would be me. But when I awoke the day after, it was to find my Sir had returned. Pretty much. His brilliant blue eyes were haunted, and he moved as if he’d been worked over as well as me.
“We’re talking to people who can help us, Pup,” he’d informed me after he’d brought me breakfast in bed over my mild objections. Maybe I should have protested more loudly but I knew that he needed to be back in charge to help him cope. And I liked to be petted and praised and given direction. Without a guiding hand, my brain jumped around too much and I ended up in bad situations. “You’ll spend some time with Micah and I’ll…don’t frown.”
“Micah is a bitch,” I muttered as I spooned some honey into the bowl of oatmeal he’d fixed. “Did you eat?” I asked. He shook his head. I held up a spoonful of cooked oats. “You have to eat.”
“Are you telling me what to do?” A glint of my Dom appeared in his gaze. It made me shudder and sigh internally.
“No, Sir, I’m asking you to take care of yourself so you can take care of me.”
“How is it that you can play me so well?”
I shrugged, moaned at the pull of my sore rib, and then wiggled the spoon a bit. He sat down beside me, the bed dipping under his weight, and let me feed him. Then, he took the spoon and began feeding us both from the same large ceramic bowl. One bite for him, one bite for me. With his help, I showered and dressed, and then padded downstairs to meet Micah and James.
We split up. James, who was a short man in his sixties with a firm jaw and silver hair, led David upstairs. Micah and I went to the back porch. The sun wasn’t too high yet, but the city heat was growing oppressive. We sat on the top stair, my arms resting on my knees. A fat bumblebee moved from dandelion to dandelion. The grass needed mowed.
“Would you like to clear the air between us before we begin?” Micah enquired, then took a sip of some fancy foamy coffee drink he’d brought with him. I gave the black man a look of complete indifference. His eyes narrowed a bit. “I’ll take your lack of reply as a yes. You and I are not good friends, nor will we be for some time. I think you’re far too young and needy for David, who requires a strong and mature sub.”
“David seems to feel otherwise,” I tossed out in my best highbrow manner. I might have dropped out of school at thirteen, and had trouble reading more than a paragraph at a time, but I wasn’t a moron.
“He does, and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. His choice in subs so far has been exemplary.” I rolled my eyes and looked for the bumblebee. He was buzzing around an overgrown rosebush in the corner of the yard. Pink flowers climbed up the wooden privacy fence, making a tiny oasis of color. “I do apologize for being so rude the first night we met.”
“Yeah, me too.” I lost track of the bee, my mind dashing to the dandelion blows that were floating on the warming air. The wind must blow over the top of the fence and then swirl downward picking up—
“…about what happened to you?”
He bumped my arm with his elbow at the same time he spoke. I let out a long breath. Telling this story always made me feel like shit, and since I was already up to my neck in crappy emotions…
“My mother was a junkie. She left me with my Grandma when I was three. Mom died from an overdose. Grandma died from a heart attack when I was thirteen. No way was I going into the foster care system, so I thumbed a few rides from Iowa to Illinois, paying the men back with blowjobs or my ass. Bumped into Kennedy Parks after a few years in Colchester working down at the docks and he signed me up. I met Diamond and fell in love with him instantly…yeah, that’s pretty much it. Oh, I have some attention deficit things going on.” I tapped my temple. “Got that diagnosis in elementary school but Grandma thought that was all bullshit, boys are just boys and none of them can sit still, so I never got any meds, which is fine because I hate drugs and what they do to people. You want anything else?”
He studied me with big brown eyes. “That’s quite a lot of troubled history.”
“Some other gay kids have it worse, trust me.”
“I’m sure that’s true, but still, you’ve lived through some traumatic times. And, while I’m glad you felt at ease enough to open up about your past, I was referring to what has taken place over the past few days.”
“Oh.” I looked skyward. A jet was flying over, leaving a white trail in the sky. “Bet they’re flying into O’Hare after leaving the Orient.”
I caught him glancing upward. “Why the Orient?”
“Don’t know. I always thought seeing Japan would be cool. I like reading those old Wolverine comics, the ones where Logan was in Japan? It just seems like a cool culture. And the mountains are beautiful. Peaceful. Not at all like Iowa or Colchester.”
“Japan is a beautiful country. Are you looking for peace, Zach?”
He smiled. It was a nice smile. “Good point.”
We fell into silence. I stared at the sky then at the shaggy grass. “Is David going to be okay? I mean, in his head. He was…he was fucked up.”
“David will be fine. He’s a strong man. Why don’t you tell me what happened last night?”
I threw him a look. “Like you don’t already know.”
He shifted around to face me, long dark legs bare to above his knees. He was really sunny today. Yellow shorts, an orange tank top, floppy sandals. Not at all how I’d pictured a shrink would dress.
“I’d like to hear your take on it.” He leaned back to rest on the post for the railing. “Or we can talk about your Grandma, or Wolverine, or Japan. I’m here to listen.”
“And pick my brain.”
“Not pick so much as help guide you to what we hope will be mental wellness.”
I wished I knew what David and James were saying to each other. I wasn’t sure how much I should say to Micah about what had taken place. If he knew, would he be in danger? But he did kind of cop to already knowing, so maybe I could get some of it off my chest, and out of my skittish mind.
“David was kind of like Wolverine last night…” I opened with and then the story tumbled out of me in a stream. I talked until my throat was dry. Micah gave me his coffee to sip. It needed sugar. We talked for over an hour, just me saying whatever shit came into my head, which seemed pointless, but after the talk I did feel better. Lighter. Then we touched on medication for my ADHD, and what he felt we could do, together, to help get me on the right track. While not wild about the idea, I did agree to try the Ritalin for a couple of months. I also opted into meeting with him to talk once a week. Everything else was up in the air right now.
When the shrinks left to go home, David and I crawled back into bed, naked, just to hold each other close. He seemed to need me pressed close, skin to skin, and while it hurt a bit to be held so tight, I gave him what he needed. Some Emerson, Lake, and Palmer was playing from his phone, far-out kind of seventies drug-induced music about Vaseline and gypsy queens.
“The acid was good in the seventies,” I murmured into his chest.
“So I hear.” He threw a leg over my hip. “Shin called while I was with James. They wanted us to attend some kind of emergency meeting at Gems this evening.”
I hated the thought of that. “Are you sure you’re up to that, Sir?”
“Stop worrying about me. I’ll be fine…eventually. This city is just a memory wrapped in a nightmare bound in a fucking horror. My father, my uncle…they’re all tangled up in my life and this city.”
“Do you talk to your Dad?” I ran my palm up and down his bicep, my nose resting by his neck. My dick was a little hard. As much as I wanted him, both of us were too messed up right now to even consider sex. Maybe soon, once we’d purged some of the shit. Which was fine.
“No, not since I left home at sixteen. He chose politics and power over his son. I’m not mentioned in any public forums. If my name does come up, the press is told I’m in Geneva at a clinic.” A gruff sardonic chuckle rumbled up out of him. “A clinic. Like I’m some sort of blathering madman locked away for my own good. Whatever. Guess no one recognizes me with the silver hair. Paul didn’t… but they can play the power game all they want. I know the truth.”
I kissed his neck. “We should do the meeting.”
“Why? Let’s just do us for a while. My head is not into Diamond or Gems or anything else. I just want my Pup lying next to me and this fucking filthy city in my rearview.”
I let a moment pass before I spoke. He was a firm Dom but if you knew how to maneuver him into thinking something was his idea…
“If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to Japan.”
“Mm, that sounds nice.” A tick-tock of time passed and ELP was still sounding stoned. “Let’s go. Do you have a passport?”
I sat up, the summer blanket slipping off my chest. Smiling as widely as my busted lip would allow, I shimmied over him, taking care not to move too sharply or reach too far.
“Do you mean it? Oh, Sir. I would love it so much. Let’s go as soon as we can! We can do the meeting, then pack. Can you afford tickets? Where will we stay? Can we eat out every night? Do they have dance clubs? I want to go out and dance with you! Oh! And ride little go-carts through the streets and dress up like anime characters!”
His mouth curled up at the corners. “Settle now, Pup, it’s not like you can get a passport in a day. How about we go as soon as your passport comes back?” I laid down on him and nuzzled at his chin with my nose. He found my mouth with his, licking his way into my mouth as his hands kneaded my ass.
“I love you, Sir, so much.” I brushed some silver hair from his brow.
“I know, Pup, although I’m still not sure why you do. I’ve been a pretty shitty Dom. Put your head down and rest now.” He guided my cheek to his chest. I spread out over him like a blanket, easing up just a little to give my stupid rib space. I drifted off, my sleep filled with cherry blossoms, which was a nice break from the grisly stuff I’d dreamt last night.
The meeting at Gems that evening was somber.
All the employees were there, as were Butch, Ian, and Shin. Everyone gave David and me these long, funny looks when we walked in holding hands and took our seat, David sitting in a cushy pink chair, me dropping down to sit between his legs. I was happy as hell to lounge between his strong thighs with the black collar he’d gifted me snug around my throat. I’d asked for him to collar me, to make our bond official to our bosses and coworkers. Being the most wonderful Dom ever, Sir granted me my wish.
“All you assholes can look at something else now,” David said, his tone making all those eyeballs dart around the games lounge.
“Question,” Jet, one of our newest Gems who sidelined making amateur porn he liked to brag, asked, lifting his hand into the air. He was a thin, emo sort, milky white skin, shiny ebony hair, and matching eyeliner, which is probably why he went by Jet. It was wasn’t because of his complexion. “If I’m not mistaken, there’s a fraternization policy here that strictly forbids—”
“We’re officially on a hiatus from our employment here,” David said, his hand coming to rest on my head. My eyes lowered as he ran his fingers through my hair. “Did you haul me in here to talk about my sub? If so, I’m going home.”
“No, we didn’t call you in for that,” Ian quickly said, giving Jet a glare that ended all discussion about fraternization.
“Good, because I think we have bigger things to worry about than who takes who to their bed,” David said, his touch on my scalp anchoring us both to each other.
“You’re right, Diamond, we have some major issues to attend to here. We’re in the sights of the Bianchi family. Trust me, it ain’t good place to be,” Butch said from his usual place in the corner, legs spread, eyes moving steadily. I nodded in agreement. Sir rubbed my scalp with his fingertips just as a memory of being kicked and beaten by Carlotta Bianchi rose up like a masked killer in a cheap 80’s slasher film. “Everyone knows how the vice squad is up our asses and not in a fun way. Weekly visits, seizing our paperwork, files, computers…it’s all a way to wear us down. Now they’ve gone and taken one of our own and beat the kid like he was a rug on the line.”
Everyone looked at me. I glanced down at the floor, hot shame creeping into my cheeks. Sir massaged my scalp.
“Maybe we should shut down?” Onyx asked, and several of the guys muttered in agreement. Jet sighed as if bored with all of it and began fiddling with his phone. He was an odd guy, not mean or anything like that, just odd. Maybe he wanted to project that image, for some reason. Probably to keep his past secret. We all had skeletons, some bigger and more terrifying than others, but they all rattled loudly in the dark of night.
“We’re not going to shut down,” Shin spoke up for the first time. He swirled the orange juice in his glass, his shaggy hair close to tickling his long lashes. He was growing it back out for Ian, he’d said with a shy sort of blush. “We want to get ahead of this somehow. To do that, we’re going to have to look into other options that might include—”
“Oh hey, uhm guys…” We all looked from Shin to Jet. He was gaping at his phone. “Check it.” He held up his phone and we all leaned up or in to see better.
One of our local news stations was announcing a breaking news item. A fisherman – what kind of nut would eat fish out of the Colchester River, I pondered – had found a body floating by and pulled it ashore. The remains had been identified as Paul Michelson, twin brother of Senator Abraham Michelson and the current secretary of corrections for the state.
I didn’t know who to watch. David, who had gone a little pale, or Butch who was as impassive as ever way back in his corner behind Ian.
“Holy shit,” Shin whispered, and the meeting kind of collapsed in on itself. Everyone talking at once, David sitting silently behind me, his fingers stalled, his emotionless stare worrisome. Shin tried to get everyone to settle down, but there was too much to talk about now. After a half hour, Ian told us all to go home and be ready for work tomorrow, vice squad visit expected so make sure all paperwork was current and clean and yadda yadda.
Onyx paused at the door, gave us all a long look, then walked on, pulling the door closed.
The room was now emptied aside from Butch, Shin, Ian, David, and me. As soon as the door closed tightly, Ian asked the question we’d all been thinking. My brain was doing some loopy-loops as I tried to assimilate all that was going on.
“Butch, what do you know about Paul’s death?” Ian enquired.
“Nothing.” Butch crossed his arms over his barrel chest. “What? Fucking look at me like that, you chuckleheads. The last I saw him he was alive.”
Ian and his bodyguard had a tense stare down before the redhead finally broke it off with a huff.
“I didn’t kill him. I wanted to. I wish I had but he was alive when we left,” David weakly said, the news of his uncle’s death had obviously upset him. I nodded in agreement.
Shin was working his bottom lip feverishly. All eyes still rested on Butch.
“He was alive the last I saw him,” Butch said again. I sat there by David’s leg, mouth open, my gaze flying around to touch on everyone in the game lounge. David looked as shocked as I was. “I’ll swear on a bible that he was breathing last time I laid eyes on him. You all can start riding me down if you want but—”
“We’re not riding down anyone. We have questions. Diamond’s uncle was found dead and there is past history of family friction. Amber was accosted by Diamond’s uncle and his wife. Then you’re in the mix. Forgive us for having doubts,” Ian barked.
“What do we do now??” David asked as his fingers tightened a bit in my hair.
Ian sighed and rubbed at his temples with his fingers. “I’m not sure. I have to imagine that there’s a RICO investigation of the Bianchi crime syndicate. The death of Carlotta Bianchi’s new husband is going to stir up an already buzzing hornet’s nest. I’d suggest, strongly, that you two consider a vacation in another country for the immediate future. Amber has already been victimized by the Bianchi’s. The next warning they’ll deliver will be a lethal one.”
“We were talking about Japan…” I muttered, pulling a look from David. Not a glower or glare for speaking out of turn, although many Dom’s would punish a sub for doing so, but a look of resignation.
“He’ll need a passport,” David said. Butch nodded. Fear danced up my spine.
“I know a guy. Give me an hour,” Butch replied. Holy fuck. My sight moved to David’s. He pushed to his feet, offered me a hand, and pulled me up from the floor.
Shin came over to hug me gently, kissing my cheeks, and softly pushing my hair from my face.
“I’m so sorry you were hurt. We didn’t keep you safe like we promised,” Shin coughed, his embrace easing up as he stepped back a pace. “We’re going to make sure none of you ever get hurt again. Maybe we should go to the Feds? This is too big for us now, what with a Senator involved. I’m sorry, Diamond, but your father…”
“Is as dead to me as my uncle is. Come on, Pup.” David led me by the hand all the way to the sidewalk where he paused, drew in a shaky breath, and then pulled me into his chest.
“Sir?” I asked. “I’m scared. Like, really scared.”
“It’ll be fine, Pup.” He kissed my brow. “Butch covered for us, for some reason, and we’re going to run with it. Right to fucking Japan, like Ian suggested.”
“But what if the cops or the Feds want to question us.” I started to shiver despite the city heat. “What if they beat the truth out of me, that we were there, you had a gun!”
He pulled me close. “They won’t beat anything out of us. They’ll just—”
Butch appeared beside us, digging into his ratty blue jacket to pull out a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He dared us to say a word with one raised eyebrow.
“I quit three years ago. Ian hounded me into it. Fifteenth time. Thought I had the habit kicked, then someone gave me a fucking whore house.” He grunted, fished out a book of matches, and lit his smoke. “You two say nothing. I got things under control,” he said on an exhale. “I mean nothing. You were home playing pup and master or fetch or whatever it is you do in your kink.”
“But—” David tried to say. Butch sliced him right off with a dark look.
“Nothing. You got no clues about nothing.” He drew in another drag, held it, and then slowly let it out through his nose. “I got this. I don’t trust the Feds or the cops in this town. They’re all as crooked as my old man’s dick.”
I could tell David wanted to say more but a dark blue sedan with an Uber sticker in the window pulled up. Butch nodded, gave us a long look, then flicked his cigarette into the storm drain. I’d never been so scared in all my life as was I was for the next few hours. We packed like lunatics, grabbing whatever we could then met Butch at the airport. He handed over my new passport and an envelope then shook our hands. We ran through O’Hare with one bag between the two of us, our passports, and about ten thousand bucks spending cash Ian had sent over via Butch with a short, far too upbeat note.
Just until you can get banking set up in Japan. I recommend Kyoto. Make sure you try the hamo. Enjoy your vacations and Matcha time! See you soon. God speed ~ Ian & Shin
“We are coming back, right?” I asked David as we taxied for our turn to take off. “Not like Garnet and Sterling. We are coming back, right?”
“We’ll be back as soon as things are settled. I’m going to keep you safe, I promised that to you. Now, sit back and get some sleep. Dream of cherry blossoms.” He lifted my hand and pressed a kiss to my knuckles.
“Yes, Sir,” I whispered as I closed my eyes and felt the plane lifting from the runway.