Days since his arrival at this place. Much had been learned, and yet so many new questions had risen. He knew he should have been more terrified than he was. He knew that somewhere inside of him, a little child was crying bitterly. For his parents, for Daniel, for his life. But it just wouldn’t come out. Nothing seemed to be able to sink deep enough to uproot the buried emotions, ready to explode from inside of him. He was living in each moment, taking things as they came, and trying to understand just how the hell his life had ended up this way.

Inoue sat on the floor silently, watching in awe. The metallic noises he’d heard from the living room days ago had been this—the blonde man was lifting weights.

And a rather frightening lot of them.

He had taken his shirt off and revealed his pale, well-muscled body in the light for the first time, and Inoue had wondered at the scars, jagged and dark. Many still fresh—there was one long slash from the man’s ribcage to hip, and it looked angry and red, and bled some when the blonde started to bench press.

When Inoue moved to clean it up with the sleeve of his own shirt—which had been donated by the blonde to him—the man looked up at him with several emotions the teen couldn’t understand. Shock, for one… and almost hesitation.

The redhead paused when he saw this, a twitch away from wiping up the blood, unsure if he was going to get punished for it.

He’d been punished yesterday for dropping a bowl he’d been told to balance on his head for hours at a time; his backside still stung from the belt. At first, Inoue had been enraged that he’d been whipped. He wasn’t some naughty child! He was a man trying his best to balance a goddamn bowl on his head for hours at a time while his broken limbs throbbed with pain! …But an hour later, when the blonde had returned and soothed the lash marks with aloe, Inoue decided it had indeed been an effective lesson; he would never drop the bowl again if asked to balance it on his head, no matter how much his arms hurt; it wasn’t worth getting lashed again, or angering the man who said more than once daily that the teen was probably going to die within the week.

There was no signal from the man for him to stop, though his expression didn’t change, and so Inoue hesitantly dabbed away some of the blood, trying to be gentle around the stitching. When he was finished, the blonde sat up and stared at him with those hard eyes. “Why did you do that?” he demanded, low in his throat.

“You were bleeding,” the teen replied simply, slightly confused. Why else would he do it?

“Do you think you can gain favour by trying to be kind? Do you think that will keep you alive?” the voice was getting louder, angrier.

The redhead frowned slightly. “No. But why should you be left bleeding?”

“You don’t care if you die? Your screams were rather loud when you were trying to escape my bed.”

“Of course I care. But if it’s going to happen one way or another, why should you have to suffer in the meantime?” The redhead’s gaze wandered away from the hard eyes boring into him as his own memories of Daniel’s death haunted him. Feeling that knife sink into the intruder’s chest and throat had been easy—but he just wished he didn’t feel such pain linked to taking that life. Not because he cared about the man he killed, but because of everything else that had happened beforehand.

Why should someone else suffer the same?

Even if he was a killer! Why should anybody have to hurt more inside than could be prevented? Why!

He shuddered and turned away. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again,” he muttered, walking back to the spot where he’d been sitting on the floor.

The rattle of weights being replaced in their cradle sounded, and he heard the man’s grunt as he stood. “Did you ever look in that cloth I left on the trunk?” the man asked darkly, walking past Inoue and into the bathroom.

“No,” the redhead replied, frowning slightly. What was so important about that?

“Go into the bedroom and look at it,” the man’s voice sounded harder now, angrier. Inoue knew what the blonde was doing in the bathroom—putting that burning red liquid on the open cuts, the same stuff he’d put on the teen’s wrist where it was cut. He shuddered at the memory; the blonde had struck him for every whimper, every movement he’d made to pull away while the liquid was poured onto the open skin.

Inoue entered the bedroom, and found the black cloth still on the trunk. Whatever was wrapped in it didn’t seem large at all. Hesitantly, he reached out with his bandaged hand and used his good fingers to pull back the folds.

A simple white mask.

Violet eyes went wide, and all colour drained from Inoue's face as he stared at it.

He could suddenly smell smoke, fire, burning—hear screams, the shattering of glass. Feel harsh rope bound tightly about his wrists, the sting of a blade to his throat, the choke of the heat in his eyes and lungs and mouth. His parents, sitting in the chairs, blood spilt freely over their clothes.

Crouching on the overhang, looking out into his yard, seeing a large blonde man leave the house as though looking for something, and turning back around.

Inoue himself in the house, looking for his parents, and finding them moments before the same man grabbed him and nearly sliced his throat, then tied him to the table instead, between his murdered parents.

That blonde man, wearing this mask.

His legs felt weak. He dropped the mask, and it hit the carpet, a crack appearing across the left eye down to the cheek as his mouth remained open, lips trembling.

“I… I can’t… it…” he stammered. Those were the last of his words—only sounds escaped him now, as his vision blurred with tears. He fell backwards, no longer able to support himself on his own feet, but instead of crashing onto the floor he fell against a solid body. Strong arms picked him up carefully and the man took a seat on the bed, placing Inoue on his lap and holding him upright.

“That was my first job,” the blonde said quietly, his voice even lower now, hard as ice. “I was ordered to take out the newest businessman in town because he was getting in the way of the underground trade. ‘Kill the man, and his wife. If he has children, them as well; then burn the house.’” The man lifted his hand and placed it under Inoue's trembling chin, touching his thumb to the soft lower lip. “I couldn’t kill a child then; I was weak and gutless. Your screams haunted me for years. Any time I saw a head of red hair like yours, I’d get sick. And then I come to my apartment, and who the fuck has broken in? You. Alive, after years of torturing me, with those same violet eyes sparking with rage. I almost thought I had gone mad, or perhaps you’d tracked me down. But nothing so simple. Chance. It was all chance.”

The blonde looked into Inoue's face, and the teen could only make soft whimpering noises as tears continued to slide down his cheeks and he stared up at the murderer of his parents in sheer horror.

“It doesn’t change anything I’ve said to you, Inoue. I’ll still kill you if you can’t meet my expectations. But this time, I won’t feel remorse about it; after all, I’ve killed you once already.”

The redhead broke down completely, squeezing his eyes shut and releasing a shriek. As he drew a long breath to unleash another scream, he was instantly flung onto his back on the bed and a hand covered his mouth, absorbing the noise. A heavy arm pushed against his chest, preventing him from taking a deep enough breath to scream again, and he was left gasping for air rather than sobbing, even as the tears slid down the sides of his face.

His life! His entire life, ruined by this one man! Everything was his fault!

He felt the man’s fingers filling his mouth, running alongside his tongue, searching slowly until they fell still at the back of his throat, preventing him from biting down on it and near gagging him. Inoue's short gasps slowed and the man drew back, staring down at the teen with a harsh glare. “Maybe now you’ll think twice before trying to show kindness to me,” the blonde growled, releasing his hold on the boy and standing, heading back to the bathroom.

Inoue lay on the bed in silence, and lifted his bandaged hand, smearing away some of the tears. He took a slow, shuddering breath, and looked up at the ceiling.

He realized, as he lay there, that it wasn’t the fact that the man had killed his parents that bothered him, or even that the blonde had tried to kill him. It was simply that he had made the boy’s life harder for him, and he was crying for self-pity. How horrible of a person was he that he’d become this way!

At least for Daniel’s death he’d been genuinely upset about losing the human presence in his life—he could care less for the lifestyle they had together or the way they survived.

But the blonde man wasn’t the one who did that, was he? That was Daniel’s fault, and Inoue's for not protecting his friend and lover.

Coldness crept over his limbs, and tingled in his wounds. His chest tightened as he blinked slowly. Really he didn’t have reason to hate the man, did he? Inoue was just throwing a childish tantrum.

And suddenly, he wanted something that would distract him from overwhelming memories.

As the man entered the room once more, white gauze bound around his waist, Inoue looked up at him. “What’s your name?” he asked quietly.

Kaieda. But you will call me Master and nothing else,” the blonde replied shortly, removing his pants and boxers and getting on the bed, sliding under the covers. “Get to sleep. I’ll be waking you up at four a.m. tomorrow.”

Sleep? Not possible right now. Inoue needed a distraction. He needed it the same way Daniel had always needed another hit. He had an addiction, and used it as a poor bandage for the pain inside.

The redhead slid out of his own pants with some effort, and crawled under the covers, lifting his bandaged hand and running his good fingers along the man’s shoulder and collarbone. Immediately he felt the deadly gaze focused upon him, and he welcomed it, running his hand slowly down the chest, across the bound stomach and along the hips, sinking lower…

A hand gripped his viciously, and he bit back a cry at the pain as the blonde ground Inoue's smaller hand tight in his fingers, pressing on the broken bones and splints.

“What makes you think I fuck little boys?” the man hissed in the dark. “You might not look it, but I know how old you are. Get to sleep before I cut your hand off for trying that.”

“I don’t care what you do to me,” Inoue hissed back. “I don’t care what you did back then, either. I don’t care if you kill me, and nobody else will, either. If you want me to cooperate any more, you’ll fuck me.”

There was a long silence, before Kaieda responded evenly, “Is that so?”

Inoue watched as the man got out of bed, walked around to his side of the bed, and flung back the covers.

“So you associate your suffering with sex, do you? We’ll have to change that,” the blonde growled, stepping away from Inoue momentarily. When he returned, he was wearing the mask, and the redhead’s eyes widened in shock as his chest tightened with immediate pain.

Kaieda opened the night stand beside the teen and removed a large knife, and Inoue had no doubts it was the very one that had slaughtered his parents.

The pale hair, the white mask came closer, the lips on the ceramic moulded exactly like Kaieda’s lips, fixed in a hard downturn. The blade of the knife was pressed to Inoue's throat, and the teen gasped immediately, his memories firing off in his mind uncontrollably as the hard, immobile face remained fixed above him, only the eyes human, and even those were terrifyingly cold.

Slowly Kaieda lowered his head, pressing the lips of the mask against the teen’s face in cold, mock kisses, as he held the knife tighter to the top of Inoue's throat, one twitch away from piercing too deep through the flesh and opening a lethal wound. Blood rose to the surface of the skin where the sharp knife’s edge was pressed to the flesh, and trickled down the side of the teen’s neck freely, staining the pillow.

Shivers racked his whole body as Kaieda continued the kisses, and his free hand pushed the teen’s legs apart swiftly, heartlessly. Two fingers were immediately forced inside of him, and Inoue arched his back in pain, sucking in a sharp breath but refusing to cry out as they began to move back and forth quickly, giving him no time to adjust. The digits slammed into him too fast for any sort of pleasure, and two was soon three, far before the teen was prepared.

Inoue needed to writhe, to cry out, to pull away from the stinging hand ramming into him—but if he moved, the knife pressed unyieldingly to his throat would sever his veins and possibly his windpipe. He bared his teeth and ground out a cry through a clenched jaw as the cold mask continued to kiss his face and a fourth finger pushed inside of him.

And yet, he still opened his thighs further—he was still rock-hard even as he felt the warmth of his own blood leaking between his legs and onto the sheets.

Yes, yes, yes! Pain or pleasure, he didn’t care which; he just needed something to smooth over the sorrow welling inside of him! He needed something to use as the weight to hold down the sobs in his throat! Inoue began to kiss back at the mask, lifting his bandaged hand and holding the back of the blonde’s neck, pulling his face closer so he could press his lips to cold ceramic ones hungrily.

The man seemed to suddenly pause, and then he drew back immediately. There was obvious rage in his eyes as he pulled his hand out from within Inoue and drew the knife away as well. “I am not a solution. I will not make anything in your life better. I am not a saviour, or a friend. I am not a lover or an idol. I am an assassin!” the blonde hissed, bringing the knife down in a lightning-quick movement.

Inoue took a choked gasp of air in as the blade sank into his gut, and was twisted in a quick, vicious flick of Kaieda’s wrist. He passed out moments later, but not before seeing the shudder in the blonde’s body.

Whether it was from horror or anger Inoue wasn’t sure, but he saw it.


He woke on the bed in exactly the same place he last remembered being in, but his cast and his bandaged arm were positioned spread-eagled away from his body and he felt cold. Inoue glanced down as he recalled the knife sinking into his stomach, in time to watch a needle sink into his flesh and push through the open wound slowly.

Immediately his hips bucked and he cried out, and one of Kaieda’s hands slammed down onto his hips to hold him still, gripping the teen’s waist with far less than sympathy as he drew the needle up out of the skin and looped the thread in a knot.

“One more noise,” the blonde said softly. “Make one more noise, Inoue, I dare you to.”

The needle sank into the wound once more, and Inoue clamped his mouth shut, clenching his teeth and throat, inhaling and exhaling through his nose in short, agonized breaths. The splint-free fingers of his bandaged hand curled and twitched, and every muscle across his legs, stomach, chest and arms tensed.

In the needle went once more, and even though he fought them, tears rose in his eyes and slid down his face, though he wasn’t crying. Sheer pain burned across his body, through his stomach and up his spine. His head throbbed, his arms screamed with agony, his stomach burned where the needle sank into flesh and pushed back out without stopping rhythmically.

What felt like hours later, the blonde tied the last knot and poured the dark red liquid over his handiwork, but by then the boy’s body felt numb and icy. The tears had stopped and Inoue had unclenched his muscles as well as his hand. He simply lay on the bed panting, and wondering why he couldn’t feel the pain any more.

Kaieda cleaned up the medical supplies quickly, and left the room, returning moments later with a bowl of water and a cloth.

“Of all the fuckin ways to die, you’re going into shock,” he said dryly, as though it was the punch line to the worst joke he’d ever heard. “There’s nothing I can do about it. You just have to calm down and decide whether to live or not,” he continued, dipping the cloth into the water and wiping it across Inoue's forehead and cheeks gently. “If you do live through this week, and the next, and every week after that until you’ve become a proper apprentice, you’re going to go through a fuck of a lot more than stitching up one tiny stomach wound. So, if that’s not what you want, then I suggest you do give up and let the shock kill you.”

Something… was different.

Ah, that’s right… The mask was gone.

And for a few brief seconds, the redhead could have sworn he saw something more than cold, dead eyes staring at him.

“You’re not bleeding that badly and I missed all vital organs on purpose. If you die from this, you’re definitely not the assassin material I’d thought you were,” the blonde said in a flat tone, removing the cloth and placing it on the night stand, getting up and walking back around to his side of the bed.

Inoue felt the larger man’s weight on the mattress, shifting closer to him, and watched as Kaieda took hold of the cast carefully and placed it back to rest over the teen’s chest. He did the same with the bandaged hand, and then pulled the covers up over the boy’s body, before settling down on the mattress. The blonde’s right arm slid under the teen’s pillow and lifted slightly, rolling Inoue's head so that he was facing the murderer of his parents, and the man’s other hand lifted slowly under the covers and came to rest on Inoue's waist, away from the newest wound. “You need to warm up,” the elder man growled almost as though he needed an excuse to be this close to his would-be apprentice.

The larger body was so warm and comfortable; Inoue shivered once, leaning in to it, relaxing further. When he lifted his chin and used a small amount of strength to place a needy kiss on the blonde’s cheek, missing his lips, he heard a very bestial snarl of impatience from his Master.

“Do you never learn, you impossible child?” Kaieda’s words were angry, but there was some aggravation there as well; annoyance at himself for something.

Still, Inoue lurched as he felt a large, rough hand close around his limp cock, and he mewled softly. As warmth spread across his body from the fingers idling up and down his length slowly, pain too returned to Inoue's world; they alternated in crashing waves, searing pleasure and icy shocks of pain. He turned his face up closer to the blonde, but the man refused to even look at Inoue, his gaze fixed off at something in the distance and eyebrows lowered as his hand began to fill with swelling flesh.

The redhead knew that there was something wrong, something messed up in his head that he needed the touch of the man who had killed his parents and abused him so thoroughly already. A normal person wouldn’t need the attentions of the person who threatened to and was very likely going to take their life. But he wasn’t a normal person, and could barely remember a time when he was.

Inoue cried out in both pain and pleasure as the hand worked faster at his erection, causing him to tense the muscles in his stomach and pull at the fresh wound, paralyzing him momentarily. His eyes went round and large as it happened again, and he writhed on the bed, kicking his legs with furious gratification and agony.

Lips parted, his panting became vocalized, each exhale a short plea for more, each inhale a sharp gasp of painful breath. He needed to call out something, say something…

Kaieda was the man’s name, he remembered.

But he was only allowed to call him master.

“M-Master,” he whimpered, squeezing his eyes shut, burying his face against the man’s smooth chest, bucking his hips once more and increasing the pain in his body. “Ah! Ah, anhh… ah… Master!” He kissed and licked at the salty skin before him, since the mouth was made unavailable, and Inoue felt his climax approaching thunderously, nipping at the blonde’s skin with his eyeteeth.

Again those damned tears of pain he couldn’t resist welled in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks, but he continued to kiss the man’s chest incessantly, needing more, feeling more than he ever had in his life. Each stroke, each clench of Kaieda’s hand, each caress of calloused fingers was hundreds of times more sensitive and defined while magnified by the pain he felt.

“Oh god… ahh, Master… ah! Aah! Master!”

The redhead came with a short cry, stifled by the sudden gasp at the pain in his stomach. He felt fresh, warm blood trickling down the side of his waist alongside the seed running down his length, and Master’s hand drew away, as well as Master’s body.

Inoue whimpered softly to himself at the loss of the warm body, as well as the heights of his climax and the way the pain amplified it so magnificently. The cloth that had been used on his forehead wiped carefully at the blood, then cleaned up Inoue's seed, leaving the boy limp on the bed, satiated and sore.

He had the feeling that he was going to live through the night. And, the teen resolved to himself firmly, he would live through the next night, and every night after that. No matter what he had to endure, no matter what happened, he’d do anything to feel that sort of orgasm rip through him again.

After all, if there wasn’t much he could take delight in when it came to life, he may as well find pleasure in something—and it appeared he’d found it.

Within minutes the redhead dropped off to sleep, submerged in horrifying yet erotic dreams that he could never remember when he woke.