T2: Should we warn them of anything?
Ronin/Warrlord = Trooper/Ma Sho
T1: Almost forgot, this is a YST fic, which we regrettably don't own. And it takes place in season two just after Saranbo’s first attack.
Sh'ten almost smiled. Almost. The smile tickled at his lips before he managed to force it back into place. Must be patient, must make this last. I wish I could do this everyday, he thought wistfully, looking down at the boy below. The situation he'd managed to stumble upon had so many possible outcomes.
Recca no Ryo, the boy who commanded fire so easily, was sitting by himself, his face down cast. It was a familiar sight for Sh'ten; he made it a habit to keep an eye on the five boys that were such a big part of his life. Ryo seemed a dual creature, at once craving solitude and then turning to others for reassurance. He was so delightfully...vulnerable.
Ryo kept his eyes down, trying to not think of anything. He wouldn't have to face reality if his mind was blank. He closed his eyes, not that one could see.
Oh, how can I resist the opportunity, Sh'ten thought gleefully. He stood up, easily keeping his balance on the tree branch that over-looked the front yard. It was then that he saw another. Sh'ten paused, scowling. I don't want anyone else to share the firefly tonight.
It’s that blond, Korin. Sh'ten looked down at them and bristled when Korin laid a hand on Ryo's shoulder in a comforting manner. "You don't have to be so angry at Touma. This is for the best and he's only thinking of your safety."
"He thinks I'm unfit to fight with you!" Ryo snarled at the ground, still not looking up. "He thinks I'll endanger everyone!"
"That Saranbo guy is playing with you, Ryo."
Sh'ten's mind focused on the words “playing with you.” Oh, now that's a nice idea. He desperately wanted Korin to leave.
Ryo looked up to gaze into Seiji's eyes, in search of a lie. When he saw none he sighed. "Very well. I'll be in soon. I-I just need some time to think, that's all." Ryo lowered his head again and pulled his knees up, looking very much like a small child.
Sh'ten licked his lips. So very tempting. Does the boy know how delicious he looks? Can he possibly know that I see this as an open invitation? Yes, Sh'ten thought. He must know. Why else would he stay out here alone?
"All right." Seiji agreed, sounding reluctant. "But come in soon. You’re starting to worry Nasty and Jun, not to mention Shin." Seiji left, quickly walking back to the mansion. Sh'ten had to bite his lip so he wouldn’t give himself away too quickly.
Ryo leaned back against the tree. The sun was setting and dark storm clouds rumbled with thunder in the distance; he looked up at the clouds. After a moment he sighed, stood up and stretched, reaching his arms up above him. He then bent down to pick up the practice sword he'd been working with earlier.
"Ryo," Sh'ten was absolutely thrilled with the surprised look on Ryo's face when he turned and looked up at Sh'ten. So...innocent. Sh'ten held the staff tightly in one hand, as if it was the only thing keeping him in control. The rings on the staff jingled slightly in a breeze, and Sh'ten got the impression he was being warned not to do anything he'd regret later. No need to worry. I'm quite sure I won't regret a moment of this. Not when he's looking at me so trustingly.
Ryo stared up. "Sh'ten, what are you doing here?" he silently hoped that he and Seiji weren't overheard, though he doubted his luck was that good.
Sh'ten jumped down from the tree, landing on soft, silent feet. The sandals felt different from his armor, but they weren't bad. Just because he’d been thrust into the roll of advisor for the children, didn't mean he'd have to give up all his hobbies. "I wanted to have a word with you, Ryo."
Ryo trembled, whether from nervousness or the cool breeze, Sh'ten didn't care. He only knew Ryo's skin looked wonderfully soft. So untouched. It was like a blank canvas and Sh'ten felt like an artist. The blade was heavy in his hand, but Ryo didn't seem to notice it…yet.
"Sure, what's up?" asked Ryo, his attention going back to the sky as lightning flashed. "It's going to rain soon, do you want to come inside?" he looked back to Sh'ten.
"No, I don't think so. I'd rather talk alone. I don't think I want the others hearing this."
"Okay," Ryo looked back to the house to see if anyone was watching. Ryo wrapped his arms around his chest for warmth.
"Are you cold?" Sh'ten asked. "I know somewhere you can warm up." Sh'ten started to walk, knowing that Ryo would follow him. It was almost painfully simple to manipulate this boy. Painfully. Pain. Sh'ten ran his thumb down the edge of the knife in his hand, half hidden under the sleeve of his monk's robes. Pain could also be a pleasure. I wonder if Ryo knows that yet.
"Just a little, I'll be fine. It's not raining yet."
"It will. The storm's just coming in and soon we'll be in the middle of it." Sh'ten wasn't paying much attention to what he was saying. Ryo had turned away from him and Sh'ten found himself looking at Ryo's long, beautiful hair. He reached out to touch it, just one little touch.…
Ryo reached up to pull his hair from his face and glanced over his shoulder at the ex-Ma Sho, "So, what did you want to talk about?"
"They don't love you." Sh'ten calmly stated. He reached out and brushed a lock of hair away from Ryo's eyes. It's like silk.
Ryo started to feel self-conscious. "They do. I'm just hard to put up with sometimes. Besides, what is it you wanted?” With that he turned fully away from the ex-Ma Sho.
Shin glanced out the window, catching a glimpse of Ryo's retreating back before he was out of sight. He frowned, wondering where Ryo was going. Seiji said Ryo would be in soon. Ryo's gotta know that it's going to be raining soon. Why would he get up and leave?
He probably just wants to take a walk to clear his head, but he doesn't have his jacket. I'll just take it too him, and see if I can get him to come back. Seiji wasn't too sure he had completely calmed down.... Shin put on his own jacket before grabbing Ryo’s and heading out to catch up with him.
Shin followed in the direction he’d seen Ryo leave in, but hadn't caught up with him yet. "Ryo?" Shin called out, hoping that Ryo would answer.
Ryo couldn’t hear Shin as thunder rumbled overhead and it started to rain. "Damn, now I'll have to take a bath."
"Do they blame you, like you blame yourself, for everything?" Sh'ten smiled at Ryo's complaint. "Don't you like baths?" It wasn't hard to get the boy away, but Sh'ten knew he'd heard a voice when Ryo was talking. Suiko's voice, unless Sh'ten was mistaken. I'll have to move this somewhere else. I don't want that boy interrupting my evening.
"No they don't. I don't mind baths, I just wasn't in the mood to get wet is all. What is it you came here for?" irritation was seeping through his words.
"They really don't," Sh'ten moved his hand from Ryo's hair to his shoulder. "Love you, I mean. That is what I wanted to talk to you about. I heard Touma telling your, er, friends that you were no longer a fit leader. That they needed to replace you. You see, they only tolerate you for your power. What else do you give them, Ryo? Seiji has wisdom of a man three times his age. Touma is remarkably intelligent and Xiu has his strength, while Shin takes care of everyone."
Shit, the rain's going to make it even harder to find him. It'll wash his footprints away soon. Better start running. Shin started running, following the footprints, not even noticing that there were two pairs.
Shin cupped his hands around his mouth and started shouting for Ryo again, as the storm got steadily worse. "Ryo?! Ryo, can you hear me?!"
Come on Ryo, answer me! How far could he have gone? Shin's footing started to slip as the ground became muddy. Gotta watch where I'm going. "Ryo?!"
"Ryo?!" Shin thought he’d heard voices, and was concentrating more on that then were he was going. He didn't see what it was, but he felt it as his foot got caught in something. He was running too fast to be able to stop, so he wound up tumbling head over heals after wrenching his foot out of whatever had caught it. He couldn't gain purchase in the muddy ground to stop his rolling momentum. "Kisama! Itai, itai, itai!" Shin screamed as a rouge tree stopped his decent, breaking his leg from the sickening crack that resulted.
Sh'ten struggled not to look away when he heard Suiko's voice over the storm. Ryo turned slightly, hearing it also. I have to keep his attention! Sh'ten continued, "What do you offer your team, other than your power?"
Ryo didn't like what Sh'ten was saying and looked for an excuse to get away. "I think I heard Shin," he started to pull away, but Sh'ten's hand was heavy on his shoulder.
Ryo put a hand to his forehead and gasped. "Shin's hurt!"
Sh'ten took his hand away from Ryo, disappointed that this had to happen when he was so close. Ryo was weak now, and vulnerable when away from his friends. Then again, sometimes two are better than one.
"Over here! I'm sorry Sh'ten but I really need to get back now," Ryo started to walk away, looking for Shin. "Shin where are you!?"
Shin was too shocked to move, frozen in place for a few moments, when he heard Ryo's voice. He tried to get some air into his lungs, failed, and tried again. When he did manage to call out, his voice wasn't at its usual strength. "Ryo! Over here!...." he trailed off, feeling the results of his trip and fall full force. Bruised ribs, that's why it's still hard to breath.
Ryo strained to hear, trying to catch anything. "I think I hear him."
"Ryo!!" Shin tried again.
Ryo carefully ran down the path, spotting Shin on the ground.
"My, but that must hurt," Sh'ten remarked, looking down at Shin with a thoughtful expression as he regarded Shin's muddy face. Sh'ten's eyes slowly traveled down Shin's body, lingering on the twisted, swelling arm and the leg that was at an entirely unnatural angle.
Ryo looked up, "Where'd you come from? Oh never mind, help me get him back home."
"What!?! He's hurt, Seiji can help him."
Shin was still conscious, but trying to get his breathing under control, so he didn’t comment.
Ryo started to lift Shin, untangling his leg as he did so. "This is going to hurt," he warned the older boy.
Shin nodded, giving Ryo an encouraging smile, or trying to anyway.
Sh'ten couldn't resist. Oh, this was almost to good to be true. The long staff was good for one thing, at least. Sh'ten heaved his staff and whacked Ryo in the back of the knees, sending both Ryo and Shin to the ground. Ryo grunted and Shin cried out at the top of his lungs when his all ready injured body was rudely jolted. Ryo landed on top of Shin, crushing his already injured arm.
Ryo gritted his teeth, "Sh'ten...." he growled in warning, his hand reaching into his pocket for his orb.
Sh'ten slapped Ryo's hand away from the pocket where he knew the orb was kept. "No need to get upset, Recca. I won't let him die."
Ryo glared at him and started to stand again.
Sh'ten, almost ignoring Ryo, knelt next to Shin and smiled sweetly. "Does it hurt?"
Shin, fighting to stay conscious, graced Sh'ten with a half eyed glare.
What do you think? Ryo thought sarcastically, backing away just a little.
Sh'ten reached out with one finger and stroked Shin's arm, right where the swelling was the worst, watching as Shin's eyes rolled up into his head for a moment. "I think I could teach you both so much."
Ryo was on high alert now. He turned and started running pulling out his orb. Guys Help! he sent to the other Troopers.
"Don't be afraid," Sh'ten told Ryo, though still looking at Shin. "Not yet."
Shin closed his eyes, then opened them to a slit, hearing everything through a haze.
Sh'ten lowered his staff, the rings jingling pleasantly, and suddenly threw it like a spear. There was no need for blatant magic, not when his own fighting skills were enough to bring Ryo down. Ryo fell like a ton of bricks when the staff struck him in the back.
"Run, Ryo," Shin barely managed to whisper, and it was lost to the wind.
Ryo screamed as he fell, ignoring the pain he climbed to his knees and started to crawl away, "Someone, please," he whispered.
Sh'ten patted Shin's head. "Don't worry. I'll take very good care of you both. Just let me fetch your friend."
Ryo turned his head, catching Sh'ten's approach as he collapsed into the mud, his eyes watering with pain.
Sh'ten grabbed the orb out of Ryo's hand. "I'll hold that for you, shall I? Wouldn't want you to lose it out here in all this mud and mess." Sh'ten slipped the orb into the folds of his robes.
"No," Ryo whimpered.
While Sh'ten had his back to him, Shin went for his own orb with his good hand, silently calling out to the others. The adrenalin rush, and urgency, giving him the strength he needed to do so.
"Now, now," Sh'ten grabbed Ryo by one wrist and with a sharp pull, hauled him up onto one shoulder. Sh'ten turned just in time to see Shin with his orb.
"Ah, ah, ah! Naughty!" He carried Ryo as if he weighted nothing, though Ryo was still awake and struggling weakly, over to Shin. "I'm going to play with Ryo for a bit. Would you like to play with us?" he looked down at Shin with a face that radiated, not evil or hate, but pure happiness.
He's crazy, Shin thought. He had no strength left to move. His thought traveled to his friends, leaving them completely confused.
"What the hell’s going on?" demanded Touma as he ran through the woods, Seiji and Xiu beside him.
Sh'ten kicked out, catching Shin’s wrist. The orb went flying out of Shin's already weakened hand. "See, you lost it. How careless of you. If you'd have let me hold it for you, like Ryo did, it would be safe."
"Nnngg...." Shin whimpered at the sudden jolt of pain, as what little air he had left in him fled.
Sh'ten knelt on one knee beside Shin. "I can't kill you, I'm not allowed. I can't kill anyone anymore, and it hurts. It really does. Please, Shin, please play with me," his tone went from teasing to soft in an instant.
Shin closed his eyes, no longer having the energy to keep them open, even if they were only half slited. I can't let him go off with Ryo, Shin thought to himself.
"Leave him alone!" Ryo demanded, suddenly finding new strength. He kicked and punched Sh'ten, then sank his teeth into Sh’ten’s shoulder as hard as he could.
Maybe we can stall him long enough for the others to get here.... Shin was finding it increasingly difficult to think clearly.
"OH, YES!” Sh’ten’s eyes lost focus for just a moment in ecstasy. “Oh…oh….” he panted for breath for a minute until he was able to control himself. With almost a purr, Sh’ten nuzzled against Ryo, who was still on his shoulder. “That was very, very nice.” He cleared his head and tried to think straight for a minute. “I know that you are all necessary to the survival of Earth. I can't kill you. You can’t kill me because I am just as necessary to the Earth and humanity as you are.”
Sh’ten looked between Ryo and Shin, “Just because we can’t kill each other, doesn’t mean we can’t hurt each other. Just a little. Think of it as a game. I never get to play with anyone anymore. My brothers were good at playing and they knew just the kinds of games I like to play." He leaned forward and kissed Shin gently on his sweat soaked forehead before looking at Ryo. "You both play so well. I think we could have fun together. Will you bite me again? Anubis used to bite."
"Ryo...." Shin whispered, though it sounded more like a whimper.
"Ryo's right here," Sh'ten reassured Shin. "He's not going anywhere. I promise you two can stay together."
Ryo pulled himself out of Sh'ten's grasp and stood protectively over Shin. The guys are close, I can feel it.
Sh'ten was still on his knees and smiled up at Ryo. "I could get used to this, Recca. Will you hit me again?" He heard a distant noise and knew the other Troopers were closing in. He'd have to end this now. "Please, let me hurt you."
Ryo's eyes widen as Sh'ten suddenly rushed forward.
Sh'ten tackled Ryo, grabbing him around the waist and bringing him to the ground, until they were both rolling around in the mud like children brawling instead of seasoned warriors. "Leave us alone!" Ryo shouted, grabbing a length of Sh'ten's long hair and pulling hard. "We don't want to play with you! I hate you!"
Sh'ten was off Ryo in an instant and just stood there, the rain falling down his face. "You...you…." Sh'ten had never felt such pain as Ryo's words had caused. Not a physical pain, but deep inside, like something was being torn into tiny pieces. Oh, what is this? I...I've never felt such great pain.
Shin forced his eyes open when he heard Ryo scream, looking on to see what was to come.
Ryo meant every word he said. He'd never felt such hate for a person before. Ryo sat back on his knees in the mud and glared at Sh'ten.
Sh'ten staggered under the weight of Ryo's hate filled eyes. Without a word, he reached into his robe and pulled out Ryo's orb. He tossed it to Ryo easily before raising his staff over Shin. "Be healed," he whispered. Shin was instantly completely well, not a mark on him.
Shin blinked, confusion filling his eyes. He sat up without a trace of pain on his face.
"Ryo, never in my long life have I felt pain like you've given me today." Sh'ten blinked back tears of joy. "Thank you."
"What?" Ryo reached for his orb, confusion plain on his face.
The others came at that moment and Sh'ten raised the staff. Before anyone could react, Sh'ten vanished.
Ryo blinked. "What's going on?" he stared down at his orb as the others gathered around.
"Shin, you okay?" Xui asked.
Shin continued to watch as the guys came closer, then collapsed into unconsciousness. Sh'ten may have healed his wounds, but that had done nothing for the exhaustion he felt. Before Shin was completely out, he whispered "Ryo?" the concern in his voice clear. Then everything was black.
"Shit, Shin?" Xui lifted his best friend from the ground and cradled him close.
Ryo wasn't listening. He kept staring at his orb, trying to figure out what Sh'ten had meant.
In all my life, I've given so much pain, Sh'ten later thought as he sat on a tree outside the mansion, watching Ryo explain what had happened that evening. I've been able to give so many people the joy of pain. But who gave Sh'ten pain? There had been so few people who could match his power, training, or skill. Those few who could had no interest in giving him pain.
Sh'ten pulled the knife out of his robe. It had been intended for Ryo, but it was too late for that. At least tonight. Sh'ten held the knife in his mouth and pulled up one sleeve. When his arm was bared, it was easy to see all the scars that laced his pale skin. With careful precision, Sh'ten put the blade to his skin and pressed until a drop of blood formed. It was such a small pain when compared to what Ryo had given him, but it would have to do. Sh'ten drew the knife across his forearm and smiled at the line of blood. This would hold him until the next time Ryo could give him pain.
Look for the sequel, Dreamless Nights, coming soon!
T2: ...I hope.