{chapter nine}

Inoue lay in bed silently, looking through the mail and reading over different veiled assignments, violet eyes scanning over the words carefully. He did not burn these letter just yet; his own flesh was still too burnt for him to even get up, nevermind accept an assignment. Several of his wounds were actually healed to the bed at this moment thanks to Reven's poor bandaging, and he did not look forward to moving and having to rip the wounds open either. The assassin tossed another read letter on the pile and picked up a new envelope; simple, white and crisp. Sliding a finger under the lip, he tore the envelope open at the end and pulled out the stiff yellowed paper, unfolding it and reading quickly.

His eyes widened just a fraction-- Inoue's lips parted and he re-read the letter once more just to be sure as Reven made annoying clatter in the kitchen with utensils and dishes. Had he been able to, the redhead would have gotten up then and marched out of the apartment. Instead, he opened his mouth wider and took in a sharp breath before barking, "Reven!" as loudly as possible with his raw, smoke-seared throat. Inoue crushed the letter in his good hand and threw it to the floor as he looked over to the kitchen. The boy wasn't moving fast enough and hadn't even peeked his face out of the door yet to see what was wrong. "Reven!" the assassin snarled louder, while slamming his hand down on the night stand and causing the glass upon it to slip over the edge and shatter on the floor, drenching the letter. Water soaked into the paper and caused the fresh black script to seep into the carpet, forming an ink blot that grew and pooled out around the discarded letter quickly like black blood.

Reven was tired. It had been exhausting caring for the unconscious Inoue, but the conscious, injured one was even worse. Fuck him and his imperial demands, he thought. He slammed a pan on the counter, debating how long to leave the man yelling in the bedroom. Every morning he took him the post, every morning Inoue read through it all in silence, never explaining or discussing any news that it brought.

Inoue was still in pain, he knew, though his own wounds were healing well. But the man never complained; never let slip what he might be feeling. Just the occasional moan, in his sleep.

Reven still watched him sleep, sometimes. Touched him lightly, moving away quickly in case the assassin woke and broke his arm off at the elbow for the nerve.
There were some kisses - sometimes. Some waking touches. Inoue was aggressive about them, but whenever Reven looked particularly pissed, or lets face it, Inoue needed him for some errand, he would let the boy's breath join his, the slick tongue claim his mouth, capture the gasp from both of them in his mouth.

Reven was driven by desire for him - and there Inoue was, 24 hours a day, barely able to move. Reven dreamed of more than touching him - more than the kisses. What would Inoue do about that, eh? What could he do?

Reven shook his head, amazed at this abiding death wish he had, and went through into the bedroom.

There was water on the floor, glinting amongst shattered glass. "What the hell is it?" he asked. He smiled, sceptically. "Bad news?"

We're leaving," Inoue replied darkly, gathering the letters he'd put aside and piling them neatly before placing them on the night stand. Planting his hand flat on the bed when the assignments were secured, the assassin clenched his teeth shut and used the strength in his good arm to thrust himself up into a sitting position. The burnt flesh on his hips cracked and bled immediately as the skin crinkled and broke open under the bandaging, but he did not let a sound of of his throat, instead clenching his teeth harder. Once he was securely sitting, he turned his head slightly to stare at the boy by his side. "Immediately," he ground out through his teeth, the sweat forming on his brow shining in the low light of the room.

He didn't know how in the fuck this was going to work. Several of his apartments had been listed in that letter-- somebody knew where he lived and was essentially calling him out, warning him that his neck was on the line. Somebody was watching and had been for a long time.

They would have to go someplace new, and it would have to be done at very least under the cover of darkness. Somehow he would have to train Reven quick and well enough to get through an essential move without anybody noticing Inoue leaving. He stared down at his burnt legs and grit his teeth with more rage than pain. This was going to be next to impossible. "You have to find us a new place to live within the next seven hours, and the next seven after that I am going to teach you how to move without being detected as best I can at the moment. From there, we move, and we'll see if it's done well enough to avoid being killed on the spot." He glared up at the child and uttered, "If we even have that time. Go. Now."

Reven stared at him. He glanced at the sodden paper on the floor, then back up to Inoue's blazing eyes and his straining body. Blood seeped through some of the man's bandages. What the fuck was Inoue talking about? For some reason, the apartment was no longer secure - Reven's own pathetic attempts to keep them hidden had failed. He had no idea how it had happened, or who was after Inoue - or, after both of them. Reven felt his whole body wash with cold fear.

He'd been in some strange little world here, thinking it was just him and the injured man. There was another world out there - Inoue's world - that he knew so little about he was like a lamb in the middle of a hungry wolf pack.

He swallowed the bile in his throat. Maybe there was someone out there already, maybe they were waiting for them to try to leave, to strike, to capture, to kill them -

What the hell could he do, with a man who could barely move? Who despised every minute spent with him, every reliance placed on him?

But then, that's all he has, he thought, calming his fiercely beating heart, looking through the terror to the struggling man on the bed. He can't do it without me.

He was still a player in this game, not just yet the sorry victim. Hadn't that attitude kept him alive so far? Maybe not in Inoue's game, which was in some league he never even knew existed - but in all the rest of his life. He just had to hold his nerve and carry on.

He moved to the bed, meeting Inoue's glare as bravely as he could, determined not to show the shock hammering through his veins. He wondered what the letter had said - wondered what had brought Inoue to this sorry state. "I know a couple of places, they're deserted at the moment, I've used them as bolt holes in the past," he said. Dirty, dank places, a room here and there, but that was all to the better - no-one would be interested in them.

"I'll go check a couple out. Get some more supplies to take with us. Look, man... " He looked again at the seeping bandages, and bit back the wave of nausea and fright. "Nah, nothing, Forget it. I'll go search, then you can tell me what you want me to do."

He didn't expect any reply from Inoue. He'd hurry back though - he was scared now.

Scared for both of them.

. . .

His body was on fire with searing pain-- the move had taken his healing back at least two weeks. There were still huge chunks of what had once been Inoue sitting in the trash can, fused to torn-off bandages and rotting black as coal. Parts of his left leg were infected but he could not risk seeing a doctor even more so now than before; he was running on his own knowledge of burns and had become more vocal with Reven on how to tend to the wounds now that they were getting along with a little more familiarity. Inoue gave orders and Reven followed them with poor results for the most part, but it was better than no result at all.

This new 'apartment' was a shitty excuse for a crack house at best, but it too was enough to make do for the moment. The move had been rough and crude and he was almost completely sure that at least two people had seen them changing apartments. Still, several days had passed and there had been no assassination attempts or threatening letters; if Inoue was one to hope for anything, he would have been hoping that perhaps they got out of it without being detected.

His gaze flicked over to Reven as the boy walked by, carrying dinner on a tray he'd found on the floor when they entered the apartment. Thoughts about sanitary food and several dry comments ran through Inoue's mind but he just stared at the food sourly as it was placed on the bed beside him. There were holes in the floorboards and holes in the wall; holes in the ceiling and even holes in the doors. This place was a wreck and even the worst places Inoue had ever lived in his life weren't as bad as this; if it had been winter time they would have frozen to death already thanks to the wind coming in through all the holes. He sighed and reached out, picking up a bun and eating it with a bland expression as he stared at the ceiling. He needed to heal, but there wasn't much he could do other than let the days tick by and look after his ruined legs as best he could.

The assassin glanced over at the first aid kit and other piles of things he'd gotten Reven to haul from the apartment as Inoue had limped along with him, one arm heavy around the boy's shoulders as he kept his eyes closed and clenched his teeth till blood trickled down his chin from the pain. Even the painkillers couldn't mask all of it as he'd walked with the leg braces on, like a man without functioning knees. Within the pile were several things; money, weapons, and information. Any one of those three things could be critical to saving their lives. "Bring me a knife," he said suddenly as he closed his eyes. He didn't feel safe here at all and something in his gut told him their days of peace were short lived.

Reven sighed at the tone of Inoue's voice and bit back a retort. Damned man was always barking the orders, looking scornful about the place, the food, the supplies, about Reven too, of course.

The blood... the damaged flesh... the dark agony in the violet eyes...

Every time Reven wanted to yell at the guy, that's what ran through his mind.

He sighed. Dinner was crap - not literally, but from the poor quality and taste of it, it might as well have been. They needed a better source - he needed to get back out on the street, find better stuff to keep them going. He was tired, he was always hungry, he was permanently on alert with fear.

He wondered how he'd do it, how he'd try to mix back in with the people out there - how he'd keep himself disguised somehow. There were still enough people here in his old neighborhood that might recognize him, then the shit would hit the fan.

He picked out one of Inoue's knives from a bag he'd brought with them and took it over to the bed.

Perhaps the assassin wanted to kill him at last.

Like he cared. Like he'd let him try.

Reven smiled grimly and placed it in the assassin's better hand.

Inoue closed his fingers round the hilt and gripped the knife tight for a moment before putting it down. "Leave it there. Don't ever take it from my side." Reaching up, he grabbed the boy by the shirt and pulled him down some, looking into Reven's face and examining it closely. Weariness, annoyance, anger, sarcasm, exhaustion, paranoia-- the teen was fraying and falling apart right in front of Inoue and he absolutely could not allow that. Violet eyes left Reven's face for a moment as Inoue listened to the silence and looked around the apartment, and even through several of the holes in the walls and doors. They were alone and every sense he knew or had been trained to know told him it was just the redhead and his 'apprentice' present.

Looking back into the eyes before him with dark rings beneath and a milky look to them, Inoue murmured in his deep, gravelly voice, "Take off your pants." He needed to make Reven relax; he needed to calm the boy down and relieve some stress before Reven snapped.

What the fuck -?

Reven looked back down at Inoue, wondering if he'd misheard. Perhaps the psychotic lunatic was going to cut his balls off after all ...

The look in Inoue's eyes was dark - Reven tried to see things there and failed. Just determination; suppressed pain; a calculation that Reven couldn't guess at. And maybe some flicker of passion, too.

He mustered his courage. He put his hand over Inoue's where it grasped his shirt and he thrust it away. He saw the flame burst up in the man's eyes, and he took one step away. But only one. Inoue could still reach him - could still harm him. Or something else.

He reached to the button of his pants and slipped it open. He'd lost weight over the last few weeks and immediately they started to slide down his slim hips.

He didn't bother with underwear - his wardrobe consisted of just a couple of items, he still had to steal some more from somewhere if they stayed here longer. The cloth fell round his ankles and he stepped out of it, kicked it aside. His shirt was tight on his torso - even if he was getting thin, at the same time his shoulders were broadening out with the physical work of carrying Inoue about and from the physical exertions during his foraging trips in town. He pushed it up over his belly, exposing his lower body.

He was naked from the waist down - he stood beside Inoue's bed, with the man's hand an inch from a large knife, and - guess what, he thought hysterically - he was quickly erect, hard and hot and aching.

He stared at Inoue; his look was a challenge.

He watched the boy get hard without even being touched and wanted to bark out a laugh. The kid's body knew what was about to happen even though his expression was a mix of confusion and rebellion-- cocks don't do emotion. Reaching out, he curled his fingers around Reven's length the very same way he had the knife, and gave it the same squeeze, watching a pearl of precum squeeze out the tip as the head darkened further. "Lean down," the assassin uttered quietly, focusing his vision on the dick in hand rather than the face of the boy he was stroking. "Get on the bed."

There was room for Reven beside Inoue; they shared the same bed in this place out of lack of space rather than desire to be in such close contact, and often Inoue was woken during the night by a stray foot brushing against some of the most painful parts of his legs. "Hands and knees," he ordered as he pulled Reven forward by his erection, using it like a divining rod or a leash, whichever Reven was least offended by. He wasn't very sure how this was going to work out; certainly he gave the child the occasional placating kiss but they hadn't actually participated in anything further than that in the mind set of repaying Reven for services rendered.

Reven had shuddered at the hand on his cock - it seemed like a long time since there'd been any handling like that, even from his own palm. Inoue's touch was a strange mixture of aggression and expertise; Reven knew he was surrendering completely to it, without words. His heart thumped against his chest. He climbed on to the bed beside the prone man, and sat back on his heels slightly. He wanted to see Inoue's face - he wanted to watch the man stroking him. He bit back a whimper, but the slow, firm movement was agonizing bliss.

There was a hesitancy, like neither of them was sure how to proceed, how to arrange their bodies. Reven was surprised at the deep timbre of his voice when he spoke - the hoarseness. "Stroke me," he said. "Stroke it. Do it."

He tensed immediately, rage flashing in his eyes. How dare the child order him to do anything! Here Inoue was, doing an enormous favour and service for Reven, and the boy had the audacity to bark out orders to a man who was not only his elder and superior, but also his Master. He clenched his teeth and pressed his lips together tight in a hard, white line, forgiving the infant his slip-up this once and resuming stroking the pulsing flesh in his hand. At very least Reven had listened and gotten onto the bed.

The assassin looked up into Reven's face once more for just a moment. It was becoming unreadable, blurred with lust and pent-up frustrations that were blocking Inoue's ability to detect suppressed feelings. He calmed his anger further and pushed his hand down to the base of Reven's cock, then back to the head, rolling his thumb over the crown and pulling at the slit, pushing more glistening droplets out and letting them slide down his fingers, lubricating them and making his job easier as he squeezed the boy's length for just an instant and increased the speed of his pumping fist.

Reven's whole body shook, the sensations in his cock were drawing every drop of his concentration and energy. It was magnificent; the man's hand seemed to anticipate every throb of his shaft, every shiver of his flesh. His hips thrust gently against the pressure, matching themselves to Inoue's movements. He felt harder than he'd ever felt before, aching deeper and deeper in his groin until it was a physical pain.

"More..." he whispered. He needed Inoue to move faster, harder. He needed much more, more connection - he needed to be closer to the hot body beside him, to touch the flesh on the bed, to hear the harsh breath against his belly.

Maybe Inoue would moan for him again, would reach for him with something more than that hot, dark, angry gaze.

Reven wriggled on the bed again and swung his leg over Inoue's hips. He couldn't forget the excitement of plunging into Inoue's mouth that time, of sliding his aching flesh between Inoue's lips. He couldn't do anything more than that while Inoue was so injured - but he needed a hell of a lot more than just a hand job. And didn't Inoue owe him something - didn't he see desire in the man's eyes sometimes, albeit reluctant?

Wasn't Inoue offering him some intimacy, right now, his hand on his cock, his acceptance of Reven some kind of compromise ...?

He shuffled forward a step, his knees on either side of Inoue's body, the man's hand slipping on his shaft, the head nudging towards the man's face.

Violet eyes flashed again, this time with pure and utter hatred. Inoue was being mistaken for a whore. He drew his hand back from Reven's cock, opened the hand wide so that the wet palm was exposed, and backhanded the boy across the mouth with a loud, sharp crack that stung his fingers from the wet slap, leaving an immediate set of four marks across Reven's cheek. "You dare order me around... you dare demand things of me!" he hissed.

The same cum-slick hand that had slapped the boy lifted and grabbed him by the throat. "An apprentice is thankful for when he is given favours. An apprentice obeys without anger in his voice, actions or expression. An apprentice is to obey without question, without malice, without sulking or crying or bleating like a child. An apprentice is to think and understand his Master's actions-- not give commands of his own, whether silent or not. Is that clear?" He didn't even bother waiting for Reven to answer; these things were not a choice, they were orders. He resumed stroking the boy with brutal force, though he should have left the child hard and unsatisfied-- he was a gracious person and knew when he should be grateful as well, and right now, Inoue still had to be grateful to this little snot for what he had done and would do in the near future.

Reven's head spun with the shock - he couldn't believe he'd let his guard down so that a man who could barely lift himself could strike him! His jaw ached and he could feel Inoue's fingers leaving marks on his throat - his head rocked back when the man wrenched his hand away again. He felt the pain and the sudden fear, all mixed up with the growing ecstasy in his cock.

"S- sorry," he gasped, but he knew that meant nothing to Inoue. He'd let the assassin down, he'd betrayed the apprentice code that Inoue had offered out to him, tempting him with something more than just a quick hand fuck. It was all over, it was a step too far for him, he wouldn't be tolerated any more -

But Inoue still held him, still pumped him, and Reven let the moans bleed out from between his lips. He'd come soon, and then he'd surrender completely to this, he'd be a nothing again, and vulnerable, to be thrown aside by Inoue, despite all that had happened.

He felt the throbbing in his cock and the rush of sensation along his limbs. He couldn't have stopped it if his life had depended on it.

The boy was getting close. Inoue's stomach tightened as his eyes narrowed. He probably shouldn't have struck the child quite that hard-- there was a trickle of blood sliding down from the corner of his mouth, staining his plump lips with dark crimson. A quiet snort escaped Inoue as he gave in to his lesser evils and pulled the boy further forward, releasing the pulsing flesh once more and slipping his hand around to grasp a firm buttock and push Reven forward the final few inches. The assassin parted his lips and accepted dark flesh between them, sealing his mouth around the length as it slipped deeper inside until the head was pressed at the back of his throat. Simultaneously he slid two cum-slick fingers in between the boy's cheeks and touched his index finger to the tight entrance between them before thrusting two fingers inside Reven without warning.

He pushed the long digits deep inside his apprentice and curled them slightly, forcing his hand up to the last knuckle so that his fingers were buried inside the boy before he pressed down at where he guessed Reven's prostate to be. Inoue's tongue rolled underneath Reven's cock as he sucked at it, looking up to gauge the boy's expression and reactions as he silently and begrudgingly apologized to and thanked the child at once.

Reven gasped, for a split second thinking of resisting the assassin's handling - but then the incredible delight was there, Inoue's sensual lips around him, the hard, slick pad of his tongue sliding along Reven's cock, and the man's fingers pressing insistently against the place inside him that made his back arch and his cock thrust even more deeply into its haven. Reven plunged into Inoue's mouth then rocked back on to his fingers ,and the double stimulation was too much for him to hang on to any vestige of control. He bucked a couple of times, groaned aloud, and then let the cum burst out from inside him, out in hot, hiccuping bursts from his slit, his hips slamming against Inoue's chin and the flesh of his cock shivering with over sensitivity inside Inoue's tightening lips. He thrust still into the man's mouth, slowing down now, feeling the mixture of Inoue's saliva and his own cum bathing his shaft, covering him so that when he pulled out again a thread of it still clung to Inoue's lower lip, tugging gently at his cock as it withdrew.

He was speechless.

Swallowing everything Reven released, he watched as the boy peaked, then relaxed and calmed back down. He allowed the softening cock to slip out from between his lips and drew his fingers out of the boy carefully, trying not to harm him too badly as Reven moved slightly to the side, closing his eyes. It was like watching a redwood fall as the boy leaned more and more to one side, until he collapsed on the bed, panting and shivering with a pleased and numb expression on his face.

Inoue was relieved; if it came to a point where this small amount of gratification couldn't satisfy the child, then he would be in trouble. It worked for now, though-- and he hoped it would tide the boy over for a while longer, because his body ached from the rocking of the bed and now the bouncing Reven had triggered by dropping all his weight on the weak spring mattress. "Sleep," he ordered quietly, licking away the last few droplets from his lips and watching his apprentice thoughtfully.

Reven fell back on the bed beside Inoue like he had many nights before, but this time with a feeling of sexual exhaustion and pleasure tingling his nerve ends like he'd rarely had. Fuck, he sighed to himself. His belly ached from the clenching of his muscles - he could smell Inoue on his skin. This could be enough, couldn't it? This could make up for the shit and the fear and the confusion and the mess...

No, his mind chided him. There was too much going on - too much for him to cope with. But he had to stay strong, had to look after himself. Inoue may call the shots, but he, Reven, was gonna be something one day, and was gonna learn from all this. Wasn't he?

He yawned, already half asleep. He scratched at his belly. Inoue stirred beside him, though making no sound. Reven was tempted to lean an arm over Inoue - gently, of course, missing the worst of his wounds. Maybe he could return the favour or something ... or just hold the man, let him hold him ....

His sense of survival prevailed, luckily, and he kept his hands to himself. A slight smile still twisted the edges of his mouth, and he let sleep claim him - let the barely audible breathing from the man beside him lull him deeper.


Tomorrow he'd sort some things out.

Inoue lay in silence as he listened to Reven sleeping. It was almost soothing, having another body in the bed, breathing and creating body heat. It made him miss Master passionately but it was still a small basic comfort to him and it helped him relax even if he couldn't sleep. This place was far too insecure... and their move had been atrocious. Whoever was chasing him down had been watching him and knew his regular hideouts... that also meant they knew he had been out of commission for the last few weeks. On top of that they might even know that he'd dragged his ruined ass home near dead from the last mission-- shit. They wouldn't even bother with much effort if they knew that. Whoever it was could just walk in with a spoon and tap at a few of Inoue's wounds till the flesh fell off his legs and he bled to death.

Violet eyes rolled upwards with exasperation and anger. It was his own fault, putting himself in this position. His own fucking fault that he was probably going to get himself and Reven killed.

The assassin's breath caught in his throat and was held there as he fell perfectly silent. The hairs that weren't singed off all over his body rose quickly, and he reached for the knife, clutching it in his hand as he focused upon the walls of their shoddy dwellings.

Creak... creaaaaaak. Inoue swallowed hard, clenching his jaw tight. Whoever it was, they didn't even bother to hide they were coming. He watched the pools of light streaming in through several of the holes in the wall flicker as the body walked by them and the footsteps on rotting wooden floorboards came closer.

Creeeak... creak.... crrrrrreaaak.

The bedroom door was kicked open suddenly, flying into the air in splinters as a figure bound in black with holsters strapped to his body bolted through the room and straight for Inoue, hunting knife raised as the redhead lifted his pathetic little dagger in a weak attempt at defense.