PART 15 

 

 

"Get up!" he snapped.  This was critical - he had no time to nurse the boy.  If Lain wanted to hold his own in this world he had to toughen up - and fast!  And it looked like it was going to be Reven who would teach him that harsh – but necessary - lesson.  "Get up - and defend yourself!"

 

Lain struggled to his feet, but his eyes were still wide and his head was still

shaking 'no' -

 

Reven slapped him again.

 

Lain whimpered.

 

"Look at me!" Reven ordered.  He could see the shimmer of tears in Lain's eyes, but he couldn't allow them to distract him.  And that wasn't what he was looking for, anyway.  He saw fear and hurt in Lain's eyes - but not the anger he was searching for.  Not yet.  "I'm not asking you to fight me - I'm asking you to show what you can do, as one on one.  You won't hurt me - and I won't hurt you, so ong as you defend yourself.  Don't be afraid, Lain!  You want to be part of this life - you have to fight for it!  For all of it!"  He raised his hand again, but this time Lain thrust up an arm, blocking it clumsily.  Reven pursed his lips.  It still wasn't enough.

 

He snapped his other arm in under Lain's guard and thrust a blow to the boy's belly.  Lain gasped and folded over his stomach - but he had the presence of mind to stagger back out of reach.  Reven just stepped forward, after him.  He slapped out at the boy again - Lain blocked him.  This time, when Reven followed with a lower blow, Lain's other arm swung down to cover that, too.

 

"Maybe you have some promise," growled Reven, secretly pleased.  "How do you

feel about it now?"

 

"Don't want -" gasped Lain.  He was distracted, trying to express himself - so Reven landed a blow to the side of his head.  Lain wasn't to know that Reven was holding back every single one of his blows - in reality, he could have knocked the boy across the room if he'd chosen to.  That wasn't the purpose of this exercise. 

 

"Don't want?"  he snarled.  "Don't want?  You think some enemy will stop to consider what you want?  Is that what you did, boy?  In the restaurant that time?  Did you ask that pleasant fellow whether he wanted his guts exploded out on the floor from a bullet at close range?"

 

Lain's eyes widened with horror.  "Don't!" he moaned.  "I never -"

 

Reven stepped forward again.  He aimed a blow at Lain, upwards this time, towards his throat - the boy only caught it at the end of its swing, taking the shuddering impact against his shoulder.  This time, he swore aloud, and Reven's eyebrow raised.  "And now, boy?  How do you feel about it now?"

 

Lain's eyes were glittering now - he was panting heavily, and his forehead was covered in sweat.  He seemed to have changed his stance - crouching slightly, moving more easily on the balls of his feet.  Reven took note.  He smiled grimly to himself.  "How did you feel when that intruder slipped his grimy hands round your neck in the apartment?  Did you ask him what he wanted, before you sliced him up and left the blood and severed limbs spilling over my floor?  I didn't see you whining then - I didn't see you so reluctant then -"  It was working, he saw.  Lain's eye flared with fury and hatred at Reven's taunts. Reven took one last step forward, gauging the distance for a final blow to the boy's body –

 

And Lain hit him.  Once - fiercely - solidly.  Reven rocked back on his heels, the ache in his jaw vibrating through the rest of his body, and the shock bringing him sharply to attention, as if he faced a real opponent.

 

He shuddered; felt a tingle prick all across his skin as he rose onto the balls of his feet and crouched low, bending his knees and lifting his hands, fingers tense and ready to snap into fists.  When the dark haired man stood properly once more, Lain bared his teeth, tasting his own blood in his mouth and adding fuel to the fire.  Cobalt eyes fixed on his enemy, and he sprung forward, feigning a punch to the gut.  When the man's arms lowered to block it, Lain straigntened himself and jumped, fisting his right hand and landing a right hook to the man's face, then following it up with a backhand as the man reeled.

 

He seemed unprepared for Lain's attacks; if he was going to be stupid about the fight, it wasn't Lain's problem.  Lain wasn't the one that started it.  When he landed on his feet, he crouched once more, keeping his center of balance low and minimizing the areas vulnerable to attack.  He'd been in enough scraps that meant life or death to know how to do this right-- after all, he was the one still alive.

 

Lain was caught off-guard as the man dropped to the floor and swept his foot forward, knocking the brunette off his feet and onto his back.  He didn't have to see to know instinctively what was coming next; he rolled to the side and avoided the punch that would have knocked him senseless, but didn't anticipate the kick following it, and was sent flying across the room. 

 

Pain, loss of breath.  The wind was knocked out of him, but he fought the panic of not being able to breathe and got to his feet immediately after hitting the wall, surprising the man who had been relaxing, thinking he'd won.  Lain grabbed the man by the wrist and jerked him forward, making a quick turn so that his back was pressed to the man's stomach and lurching himself forward, pulling with all his enraged strength on that arm, flipping the man over him and landing his opponent square on his back on the ground.  His eyes were wild with rage and a deadly stare that was fixed on his prey.  Lain didn't give him a chance to recover; he pulled his foot back and swung it forward at the man's head, intending to break his neck.

 

 

Reven was amazed at the response he'd provoked in Lain - within seconds he'd found himself no longer holding back, but fighting with as much strength as he could muster.  Lain’s skills were raw and erratic, but he had a fast, vicious streak that only life on the street could have taught him.

 

The throw to the floor had both surprised and winded him – he hadn’t thought Lain had the muscles.  The boy obviously had a sense of balance and leverage that compensated him for the lack of upper body strength; and that could be built on, that could be developed to advantage -

 

Reven’s mind screamed at him to shut the fuck up just as it acknowledged Lain’s final blow, his foot thrusting down towards Reven’s head, intending – surely – to kill!

 

Reven moved instinctively, rolling his body away with every ounce of energy he had left.  Lain’s foot landed heavily and awkwardly on the floor, with no target beneath it, and the boy shouted with the pain of the impact and the shock.  He had no chance to do anything further.  Reven twisted his body as he rolled, recovering from his own breathlessness, and sprang back on Lain, using the boy’s loss of balance to tip him to the floor beside him.  Lain fell heavily on his knees; Reven maintained his advantage of superior weight and strength and pushed him flat on to his back, pinning the slim body to the floor beneath him.  He pulled Lain’s hands above his head and pressed them securely against the bare floor.

 

Lain’s bare chest was already bruising, and it heaved with painful breaths; his arms were shaking with tension, imprisoned by Reven’s stronger hands.  Reven stared down into the wide, wild eyes and saw them glare back at him. “Did you want to kill me, Lain?” he hissed.  “Was that what you felt?”  The boy glared a murderous agreement – but there was some other realisation in his eyes, as if he struggled to drag his thoughts back on track.

 

“Hush!” said Reven, sharply.  His own breath was shallow – his heart hammering inside his chest as he fought to regain his full strength.  He could feel the sweat on his neck making his hair stick to the skin – black locks fell over his ears and trailed across his hollowed cheeks.  “Don’t speak.  Just pull it back, Lain – pull that energy and aggression back into line.  Feel it inside you – but rise above it. Watch it, feel its strength – then make it work for you!”

 

The boy struggled underneath his captor, but it was futile, and he knew it.  Reven felt his body relax a little – saw the fire in Lain’s eyes start to fade.  “No!” he snarled, and saw Lain’s eyes snap wider again, startled.  “I didn’t say to give in!  Don’t lose it!  That’s the flame you’ll need inside you, Lain.  That’s what may save your life, and maybe mine as well, when a fight spirals down to its worst and bloodiest.  But it’s up to you to control it – to choose where you direct it.”

 

Lain was staring at him, drinking in the words.  Reven released his hands slowly, and sat back on his heels, his breathing settling.  The boy still lay under him, arms outstretched, the palms now open to the air above him, as if in supplication.  His sweat pants hung loosely at his hips.  Reven’s eyes ran over his body, battered and flushed – he saw the tight stretch of Lain’s belly, still shaking slightly – travelled the smooth channel of muscle from the boy’s hip down under the waistband of the pants towards his groin.

 

Reven sighed.  He felt no resistance from Lain now, lying underneath his thighs.  He rolled from his crouched position and laid himself out beside his companion.  For a moment they breathed together, to a pattern.  Reven laughed softly.  He felt good!  It had been good to spar again – to feel a body under his hands.  To feel an equal eagerness – an almost equal aggression.

 

Yes, it had been damned good!

 

 

Pinned, unable to move, anger.  A face above his head, the enemy.  Need to kill!

Did you want to kill me, Lain?

 

Yes!  Take out the opponent, must survive, must keep going.  Hurt, break them, wind the opponent then deliver the final blow.

 

Just pull it back, Lain - pull that energy and aggression back into line.  Feel it inside you - but rise above it.

 

The words were dismissed at first, but he had to listen to them as he was held firm on the floor, unable to move.  Listen now and kill after, when he thinks it's safe.  Relax for now.  Feign obedience.

 

I didn't say to give in!  Don't lose it!  That's the flame you'll need inside you, Lain.  That's what may save your life, and maybe mine as well, when a fight spirals down to its worst and bloodiest.  But it's up to you to control it - to choose where you direct it.

 

The words were making more sense now; he understood what the man wanted.  He knew he had been beaten, and the man wasn't going to kill him because of it, he discovered.  When his hands were released, first instinct was to lunge at the man's throat.

 

He remained still, focused eyes watching the man get off of him and expose vulnerable spots.  Lain felt a tremor prick across his skin as he pushed back the need to kill, the need to survive, and remembered who this was.

 

Reven.  Not an enemy.  A lover, a creature to be loved.

 

Right; this had been a training session.  Lain made a short gasp and the tiniest of noises in the back of his throat as Reven lay on his back beside him.  The boy had been entirely out of line, and he had intended to kill Reven.  Anybody with less skill than the assassin would likely have been dead by now.

 

He felt horrible.  Yet, the aggression in him wouldn't settle down just yet; his cheeks and body still stung from the blows that had been delivered.  Lain understood why he had been struck, but that still didn't mean he liked it.

 

To keep from saying or doing something he would yet regret, Lain said and did nothing at all, lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling.

 

 

Reven lay for a moment longer, only half of his mind alert to Lain beside him.  He was enjoying the relaxation, examining the strangely pleasant feelings of having fought - and bested – the youth.  Lain didn’t seem to want to speak or move, though the hand nearest to Reven had returned to his side.  Reven assumed that the boy needed to think things through after his harsh lesson; he needed to reconcile the pain and humiliation of the sparring with whatever he wanted for himself personally.

 

Reven knew what he wanted.  He wanted Lain to be a better man – he wanted him to have success and confidence and something more rewarding than the sordid shadow of a life he’d been offered so far.  Like he’d had himself – like Inoue had shown him.  The red-haired man had taken him up from the gutter – almost literally – and supported and trained him, and made him what he was today.  Showed him skills and a courage he never knew he had; let him into a life that had made him both rich and worldly.  It had also made him occasionally bitter; sometimes horrified.

 

And now – always lonely.

 

Reven tried to shake off the feeling.  It wasn’t new – it wasn’t any more shocking than before.  But something about lying here beside Lain made it all the more poignant.  The boy was company – the boy was an exciting and unpredictable lover.  That’s all there was, so far, surely?  Reven assumed that they’d both been using each other for their own motives up to now – perhaps that was going to change.  He was uncomfortable with that thought and all it might mean – but he didn’t think he should be scared. 

 

He was hardly aware of any conscious thought, but he slowly stretched out the hand at his side and grasped at Lain’s, linking their fingers.  The boy tensed, and shifted slightly, maybe wondering if Reven wanted to draw him against him again.  “Stay there, Lain,” murmured Reven.  “You’ve given enough for now.”  He was half-thinking, half-talking aloud.  Fight or fuck – was that all the choices they had?  “It’s a game, Lain.  A dangerous one, where you have to know the rules, else you’ll lose before you’ve even started moving your pieces on the board.”

 

He couldn’t make out all of Lain’s gasp in reply, except for the word “pawn.”  The boy’s skin shivered under his fingers, but it just made Reven grip more firmly.

 

“No, not a pawn,” he sighed, deep in his own thoughts.  “We’re pieces in the game – pieces together; on the same side.  We’ll play the strategy together.”