"I've got one." Riki reached for the mug of cocoa he'd been sharing with James -- such a sweet, delicate boy, and most importantly NOT BLONDE -- and took a sip. Rising steam momentarily caressed his face. When it cleared, the fire's light took its place, skittering across his dark eyes and lending them a fierce shine.
Anticipation held the circle of bishounen; words would break it, but it wasn't Riki who spoke.
"A true master of the dramatic pause," Yuki quipped, reaching into the fire to light another cigarette.
"Shut up unless it's your turn." Were it not for the mug, Riki would have cracked his knuckles threateningly. "Want to get your ass kicked?"
"I thought you were supposed to be giving that up," Saionji smiled, while James just snuggled closer to Riki and stuck his little pink tongue out at the cranky writer.
Sanzo was stirring the fire lazily with a stick. As the idea had been his, he unofficially presided over the little gathering. "No one's ass is getting kicked," he slurred. "Fondled maybe, or groped, or even spanked if that's your thing. But not kicked. Riki, if you would continue...?"
The dark-haired bishounen sniffed -- Sanzo was, after all, a blonde in a position of authority -- but could find no reason not to comply. He nodded, settling back, and the story he told was this:
The woman blinked, several times, as if blinking could clear the screen from her vision, the horror from her mind. The monitor swam back into focus, black text on white, three words which clenched a knot of ice in her stomach.
[Tonight. Your place?]
The pointer hovered over the 'delete' button, but she couldn't bring herself to click. Like the others, it would have expertly forged headers. Untraceable, her ISP had said, when she'd tentatively lodged a complaint against the sender. Blocking the address did no good -- each successive message arrived from a different, seemingly random domain, though the account name was always the same.
The first message had arrived shortly after she'd begun posting a new fanfic. With its brevity and strange grammar, she'd assumed it to be from someone who didn't speak English well, and had replied cheerfully, with a careful vocabulary.
[>I saw the story. You are my biggest fan.
Thank you! I am happy that you like my story. I will post another part next week.]
And that, she had thought, was that.
The second message had arrived some weeks later. She had almost deleted it as random garbage, until she noticed the vaguely-familiar sender.
[You are my biggest fan. You love me very much.]
That message had been upsetting, when compared to the first -- the word 'love' was not one she cared to see tossed around lightly, preferring instead that it be wrung like a confession of murder from the lips of gruff but secretly passionate characters. /At least it isn't a flame/, she'd told herself, and tossed the message into her feedback folder, intending to forget about it and not answer.
Several more messages she ignored over the course of a month. The grammar still perplexed her, and the slow realization that she might be dealing with a stalker prevented her from deleting anything. It was better to be safe and paranoid than... Well, it was better to be safe.
[If you love me so much, why do you hurt me? If you love me so much, we should meet.]
'We should NOT!' she'd been tempted to reply. But acknowledgment would only have encouraged whoever it was; she'd turned to her ISP instead, for all the help they'd been.
/I should have changed my address, like they recommended,/ she thought, quickly closing the latest mail and moving it to her 'evidence' folder. /I will, tomorrow./ Tonight, it was late. She had been about to turn off her computer and go to bed when the mail's arrival had distracted her.
But now, she doubted that she could sleep. For weeks there hadn't been another message; her paranoia had subsided in their absence. Now it was back, gripping her more strongly than before. Her nerves needed something warm to drink. Cocoa, not coffee. She knew coffee would heighten her jitters, no matter how badly she craved a therapeutic mug of the stuff.
/Cocoa is what I need. Please let there be some left. And then maybe I'll curl up and... watch television for a while./ She hit the power switch, but left the room's light on when she left it, turning on every other light switch in the house that she passed as she edged for the kitchen.
/On, on, on.../ Lights, kettle, television -- its quiet babble made for somewhat soothing background noise. A detour to the front door had assured her that it was safely bolted; while searching her pantry for cocoa mix, she felt her eyes straying repeatedly to the telephone. /It's silly. If I were to call the police, what would I tell them? That a strange though not precisely threatening e-mail has me spooked, and I'd rather not be alone right now?/
When the kettle shrilled, she nearly jumped out of her skin. A stream of quiet cursing comforted her some, and trying not to burn herself while pouring hot water with a trembling hand was distraction enough that she didn't hear the footsteps, gliding in from the front room.
Perhaps he moved so quietly that there were no footsteps to hear.
At any rate, when she turned for a towel to mop up her mess, he was there. She would have screamed, except she couldn't seem to decide between a scream of terror and a scream of fangirlish glee, so she hiccuped instead, a little gurgled sound of shock.
/Not possible. It can't be.../
"Good evening," the man purred, tucking a wayward strand of long, glossy hair behind an ear; his other hand he held behind his back, as if in preparation for a bow. "I don't believe we've been formally introduced. But I thought that we should be, considering that you're my biggest fan."
She wanted desperately to touch him, to see if he was flesh. A million questions rose in her mind -- they could wait, until... after hospitality was satisfied, she supposed. It was a great shame to meet him looking as she did, in old sweats tossed on after work for their comfort. Beside his lean, leather-clad form -- the outfit she recognized from her latest fic -- she felt positively frumpy.
"I... Are you, ah- That is, do you want s-some cocoa?" Of course she couldn't help staring, though perhaps she ought not to be so obvious about it. Oh, if he would only turn around, she could see if his ass was truly as perfect as she'd written it, in those wickedly tight pants...
"No cocoa, thank you. I'm afraid that I'm not here for pleasantries, pet." He stepped forward, nearly looming, though she supposed he intimidated without awareness that he was doing it. His words, softly menacing like the cocking of a well-oiled gun, snapped her eyes to his.
And what a mistake that was! Breathing was a difficulty, as if he already had his hands clasped round her neck. The weight of his gaze was oppressive; oh, he was a dangerous, beautiful thing! The sensation, the experience was one she knew she ought to be desperately transcribing to memory, each detail precious and sharp, to be handled with caution.
She fumbled them when he stepped closer still. Definitely looming, causing her heart to redouble its efforts to pound out of her chest. "Th-then why are you-"
A smile, coldly calculating, answered the question she'd half spoken. "I want answers, of course." She noticed that he still had one hand tucked behind his back. He hadn't bowed; she wondered, with a whisper of fear, what he might be concealing there.
"Answers...? I-" She couldn't force the words, not with him reaching to stroke a gloved fingertip against her cheek.
"Answers, pet." The smile widened to include a flash of hard white teeth. "You love me -- yes... I can see that you do. And yet you hurt me. You break my heart, you plot my death. You chain me to beds, and take delight in my violation. I want to know... why you hurt the one you love."
There was a cruelness to his eyes now that she did not like. The fingertip might have been ice against her skin; when she tried to shift away it became a splayed hand, clenching the side of her face. "No! P-please, I- You're not real," she whispered. "You can't feel pain. This isn't real..."
"Not real? Oh, pet, how you wound me." His hand exerted more pressure, enough to make her jaw begin to ache, and she watched, helpless and fear-stricken, as revealed the object which had been hidden behind his back. "I am real enough to you. This is real... as is my revenge!"
"Oh! Oh GOD! No, anything but that! I beg you! P-please...!" Words were spewing now, her most desperate cries for reason and mercy, ignored as if they'd been screamed into a vacuum.
He lifted the object, to wave it gently before her terrified eyes. "It is pretty, is it not? I knew you would approve..." He gave the edge a thoughtful lick, and shifted his grip upon it purposefully.
"A knife!" Duo burst out, unable to contain his excitement. "Oh...!"
Riki glared at the source of interruption.
"Shut up, you," Yuki warned. "You'll get your ass kicked."
"Not a knife," Nuriko shivered. "A crowbar."
"A sword?" Saionji's eyes glinted with anticipation.
"The only scary thing I can think of is a letter of audit from the tax-agency," James sniffed.
"WRONG!" trumpeted Riki. "It was a GIANT! PURPLE! DILDO! And despite her whining and crying and blubbering, he proceeded to fuck her up the ass with it!"
Stunned silence met the revelation, into which no living creature in the glade dared to breathe, until at last Duo ventured, "Did he... use lube?"
"No," Riki spat. "He did NOT!"
"Oh... Oh man, that's just... I think I'm gonna be sick." Kurama jumped up and bolted for the trees, clutching his stomach.
"Yeah. You're a severely twisted individual."
"Yes," James agreed, staring up at his blanket-mate with something close to wonder. "I love you."
Riki simply nodded, collecting the various queasy and disgusted glares that were his prizes for a story well told. "Right -- who's next?"