The future is ours.. isn't it?

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Yusai had tried several times in vain to get through to Steal on the phone. There was no answer and he was beginning to worry tremendously. It was unusual for Steal to be -this- avoidant, even when he was in an uncommunicative mood. He wasn't one to make others worry unnecessarily. Otto had suggested that they call the cops, and Yusai responded automatically without so much as a second thought.


Lance sat at the bar counter, fidgeting with a shotglass while he listened to Yusai's stilted conversation with the NYPD. He was worried as well, maybe moreso than he had right to be. A small part of him was blaming himself for Steals disappearance, thinking that maybe Steal had run off to avoid him for the rest of the night. He knew that wasn't likely the case, but still, he couldn't help the thought. His other thought was that maybe Steal had been the subject of some blind violence, knowing all-too-well that bigotry--homophobia--wasn't dead in the city, and Lance paled at the idea that Steal could be out there somewhere, bloodied, bruised, or dead.


Yusai hung up the phone, a grimmace plastered across his brow and mouth. Otto, arms crossed over his chest tight, asked what the result of the conversation was.


"Fuckin' bloody useless, is what they are," Yusai stated, jamming his phone into his pocket. "They won't do a search until he's been missing for at least 48 hours."


"That's -insane-!" Otto cried, sharing Yusai's disdain for the law enforcements inepetude, as well as his worry. "He could be anywhere by then... Vermont, Philedelphia... A fuckin' back-alley somewhere half-dead--"


"I know that!" Yusai snapped. "There's not a damn thing they'll do about it!"


"Well fuck it, then, we'll do something about it. Give me your phone, mine get's shitty reception in here." Otto replied, holding out his hand. Yusai asked him what for, but fished out his phone and handed it to his friend who had yet to answer his question.


"I'm going to call a detective or something. Find someone who will go out looking for him ASAP."



Ian had pulled into the hotel parking lot that his client had specified she would be waiting at. He parked, and he heard Steal make a small, wavering sound somewhere between a whine and a groan. He had made some weak effort to move, open his door, perhaps escape, but the effects of the fumes still had their grip on him and made those efforts futile. Besides, Ian had the doors locked.


Ian reached over to the glove box and yanked it open. Some papers inside that had been folded in half unfurreled and fell into Steal's lap. He wisked them up and put the small stack in front of him against the steering wheel, turned the corners of the pages over in his fingers, just barely pulling the papers apart, his eyes skimming over the text on each page. He mumbled some of the words he read half-heartedly, stopping suddenly and saying aloud, "Here we go," and pulling the particular sheet up and placing it on top of the stack. He folded the papers over again and held them tight in his left hand.


"All right kid, let's get a move on." Ian said while he pulled the keys from the ignition and unbuckled himself. He opened the driver door and stepped out, circled around the front of his car, opened the passenger door, and looked down at the boy still lolling in his seat. “Can you stand? You better.”


He watched Steal struggle to even place his feet on the ground evenly. He sat up and wasn’t able to catch the weight of his movement in time, and ended up thrusting himself face-first into the dashboard, which elicited a groan. When he turned his face to Ian, he saw that his nose was bleeding. Whatever, as long as the rest of Steal was in tact, Ian didn’t care; He had to deliver this kid one way or the other.


He sighed, bent over, and reached inside the car for Steal, placing his hands under his armpits. With some struggling, Ian was able to pull Steal upright and lift him out of the seat so he could stand, very wobbly and weak of course. From here, he took one of Steals arms and threw it over his own shoulder to brace him as they walked, the younger man staggering to keep up with Ian’s pace. It took a while, but they eventually made it through the hotel entryway and Ian could already see the silhuette of his clients hair—Steal’s mother—sitting in the lobby, waiting. He called out to her, and she turned to look, her pale blue eyes falling on the sight of her son immediately.


Good God, just look at you,” She said, standing, the tail of her gray-blue cardigan flowing down around her legs. “Just what the hell have you been up to? I’ve been waiting for hours.”


It’s a long story,” Ian replied, still struggling to hold Steal upright. “Anyway, here’s your kid, as promised. I’ll just need your hancock on this paper here, and I’ll be on my way... Also as promised.” He fumbled his hand that was still holding the wad of papers, that had been wrapped around Steal’s waist, and held the papers out to the woman who plucked them quickly and delicately from his grasp. She turned away from them briefly and tucked her hand into the pocket of her beige, wide-leg pants, pulling out a pen, and then going to work signing whatever documentation it was Ian had handed her. As quickly as she had finished, she turned back to them, not even looking at Ian as she handed him back his documents, her silence and judging eyes upon her son being all the instruction Ian needed to get lost. And so, leaning Steal against the back of the sofa in the lounge, Ian turned heel and left.


The quiet in the lobby would have been unbearable if it wasn’t for the low hum of a nearby ice machine to act as a small distraction. Though there was no way to tell how Steal was processing the events of the night, his mother certainly had her own thoughts.


Well, you certainly look dreadful. I’ll hope that bloody nose was on account of the dry air, and not because you’ve been up to some incideous activity like snorting coke with your lecherous friends.” Her eyes were half-lidded but focusing here and there on her son, zig-zagging between all the details she cared to absorb. The bloody nose. His short hair. The eye-liner. His—well, his dress was fairly reasonable, if not slightly flamboyant for her tastes. His sluggish demeanour. She processed these things and seemed to be calculating the next thing to say, the next thing she could say to strike some kind of sense into her child, whom she had nothing but intense disappointment for.


Still, she was his mother, and in flat tone she asked if he had eaten. “I have dinner ready in our room. You’ll get cleaned up before we eat. And I won’t hear any complaining about the dinner choice, it’s all you’ll be having until we get home tomorrow morning.”


With one more judging glare, she turned away from her son and began walking down the hallway to their room. She didn’t have to turn to reassure that her son was following closely behind her. Years of conditioning him in his youth still seemed to have a level of control over him. He knew better than to disobey her, even if she never rose a finger to strike him like his father did.


She stopped outside her hotel room and opened the door, holding it open for her son to enter, and she watched him like a hawk as he stumbled inside, her disapproval all too palpable when she entered herself and closed the door behind her.


The bath is in the ensuite. There’s some pajamas and a robe for you to change into. Throw what you’re wearing into the bin—you won’t be seeing your father looking like that.” She said, making herself comfortable on a lounge chair in the living room. There was a table just next to her seat with a bucket filled with ice, a bottle of wine, a corksckrew, and three up-turned wine glasses placed on a gilded tray; she reached over and pulled the bottle out, picked up the corkscrew, and was fast at work uncorking the wine bottle and pouring herself a glass in one of the empty cups while her son trudged to the bathroom to shower.






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Steal was so woozy, he wasn't all that sure what was happening.  He knew he was being taken somewhere.  The guy that had been saying he was only looking for his missing cat was now taking him somewhere.  When they stopped he felt like he was still moving for a while.   It was as if the car was still forcing him into motion even though he was being pulled out of it.

"Wh...?"   he stammered a bit and felt like he was about to be sick.   Finally he found his feet and blinked owlishly around.  It was still a time before he realized just where he was.   He noticed then who was with him.  His mother, no wonder he was there, this was the kind of thing she would plan for, to take him away from any hope of happiness.  Neither of his parents wanted him as anything more than a trophy.   Sit, shut up, and let others see you.  Nothing more nothing less.   He let her drag him into the hotel, walking like a zombie.  She didn't even need to physically pull him, he just followed like a lost puppy.

Well, he had planned to head there on his own, now that he was here though, he regretted everything.  His happiness would be gone forever.  Steal walked into the suite and looked at the food on the trade and the glasses that had been set out.   The thought of anything made him feel physically ill.   He groaned and headed into the bathroom, not really listening to what she had to say.   He didn't want to throw away his clothing, he didn't want to loose anything. 

Closing the bathroom door, he sat down on the toilet and closed his eyes, fighting back a series of sobs.   He didn't want to do any of this but it was too late.   Stowing away his clothing under the sink to perhaps be found by someone.  Finally he stepped out of the room and walked into the main suite sitting down politely but with little expression on his face.   Rather than seeming to mind though his mother was actually happier this way.   To her he was being the way he should.   Dressed in a preppy suit, hair brushed nicely.  "Your hair.. it is butchered.   The long hair showed your breeding."

Soon enough he would be seeing his father though, and then the punishment would start.


They had looked all over the building for some sign of what had happened to lose Steal and it was only when one of Otto's staff went out for a smoke break that the bracelet was found.   He ran inside with it and took it right to Otto.

The bracelet was engraved on the back with a notation that it was from Yusai for Steal's 20th.  

"Shit..."  Otto paled a bit and ran over to Yusai with the bracelet.  The meaning behind it being there was obvious.  There was no way Steal would have left it willingly.  He had been taken somewhere against his will.  Calling the cops and telling them he had been taken wasn't going to work.  They had to figure out where he was now.

"Yusai, I am so sorry..."   Otto rubbed his hands over his eyes and closed them tight.  "Shit... what are we going to do now?"


Steal watched with a fairly bland look on his face as his father finally walked into the room.   The man walked over and grabbed him by the face lifting him that way to his feet.  He glared at the young man.  "Seems we didn't treat you good enough?  You were not getting everything you could want?  Well, you have a lot to learn."

He dropped Steal back down, watching as his son folded his hands and silently sat in place.  Sneering he walked back across the room.  "Living with a strange man, going to bars every day.. bringing shame on our family, this is not how we taught you."   The elder man paced back and forth.  "We will be taking you home and you will start going through training again.  I will not have you being like this.  We are going to set you up in a different room and start you back into proper behaviour."

The words could only mean one thing to him.  He would be beaten mercilessly for a while until he repented for all he had done.  Still deep inside he would hold onto what and who he was.  Maybe some day he would see his friends again.  Why had he ever wanted to go back with these people.  Oh, for Yusai, this was all for Yusai.

((so sorry.. TnT))

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((sorry for keeping you waiting ive been so busyyyyyyyy))


Logan was in the middle of processing the last of some paperwork for the night when he heard his cellphone vibrate on the corner of his desk. He was tired and already a little out-of-it, but he was even more confused to hear his phone ring so late and on a weekend as well. He picked it up, not recognizing the number on the screen, and answered hesitantly.


"Hello, Logan Austin's office," He said, the line automatic even when he wasn't answeing phone calls from complete strangers. He heard some noise on the other end of the phone and then a gruff, thick, but clear voice speak from the other end.


"Yeah, hi. My name's Otto Lombardi. I don't know if this is a service you cover or whatever but your name came up on a search for local private investigators. Do you do missing persons searches?" Otto was straight to the point, so much so that it caught Logan off gaurd.


"I, uh... Hold on a minute, you caught me in the middle of something here," Logan grumbled. He had to take a moment to put aside some files he had been sorting and then pull out some fresh sheets to jot down information from this potential new client on the line. While he did this, he asked, "Did you already contact the police?"


"Yeah, we did," Otto responded, "They said they wouldn't conduct a search unless the person has been missing for 48 hours."


Logan nodded at this, but needed more information. "I take it the person in question hasn't been missing that long. Tell me. Do you have reasonable suspicion that there's been some... Ill-intent on this individual? And I take it you've attempted contact with this person to find their location?"


"Yes, yes," Were Otto's replies. "He's not anywhere that he would usually... Or UNusually be. He's not answering his cellphone, either. I dunno about ill-intent or whatever, but it's really unusual for this kid to just up and disappear without saying a word to anyone about his whereabouts."


Blank sheets finally in front of him, Logan was finally organized to take down some proper info. "Tell me more about the missing person, if you would." He requested, pen-tip readied on the paper in front of him. "Name, age, description..." As he trailed off, he heard some scuffling on the other end of the line and then another voice with--what he presumed was--an english accent began talking.


"His name's Steal. Er, Stephen, actually. Stephen Masters,"


"How old is he?"


"He'll be turning 21 in another month. Uh, 20, sorry mate. I mean, he's 20. He's about 170 centimenters tall, maybe a bit bigger--"


"You'll have to give me that in 'American' measurements, sir," Logan interrupted, too tired to do the math himself.


"Ah, right. Uh, I suppose that's five... foot... Seven? Oi, get the bloody calculator out of me face," Yusai grunted. He cleared his throat and continued, "Sorry. Yeah, he's 5'7, probably no more than fifty-eight kilos wet--ah, that's 130 pounds--has short, silver hair, real vibrant blue eyes, and he's got two red moles on the back of his neck that look like a vampire bit 'im."


Logan finished jotting down these details (and was a little surprised at how in-depth the description was), feeling a strange sense of deja-vu as he looked over some of the descriptors of this person. A young man with silver hair, huh? Stephen Masters... Something about the name seemed familiar, too.


"All right. Can you tell me a little bit about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance?" Logan asked, skimming his wrist down to another portion of the page. "When did you notice his absence?"


There was a pause on the other end, and the sound of thinking through the mouth. Yusai then hesitently explained that Steal must've disappeared just after his show, which was at 9.


"Okay," Logan went on, "Did he seem agitated before his disappearance? Did you notice any change in his mood tonight, or prior to?” He heard some long, drawn-out “umms” and “uhhhs”. To clear the obvious confusion he was hearing, Logan continued, “I just want to rule out any possibility of suicide. It’ll rule out some well-known spots for the initial investigation.”


Yusai paused on this question, trying to remember Steal’s mood that night. He had been sullen, withdrawn, and quiet up until his show. He sang a very meloncholy song that had even made his own heart sink. Steal was prone to down moods, and if he was making an honest observation, he couldn’t say that Steal was someone he ever considered “bubbly” or “energetic”. And, Yusai remembered Steals suicidal tendencies when he had initially taken him in... But was Steal still that person? He’d like to think that he wasn’t. He couldn’t say for certain.


A... A little, I ‘spose. He um... He’s been a little down lately,” Yusai admitted, his voice becoming low and soft.


There were some sounds of more scribbling and then a faint “tap” as Logan finished the last of his notes and set down his pen. He had the pertinent inormation he needed for now. And even though it was late, and it was a weekend, his time was money and he figured if he was going to be up anyway, he may as well do some work.


I’ll come down to investigate the premises tonight. Keep everything in tact, I’ll be down shortly.” Logan instructed, and with that, he was already slipping on his coat and fishing for his keys in his pocket.




Allan, that’s enough, for Godssake. You know he bruises ike a peach,” Was the only plea to Steal’s father that his mother made in the boys defense. Her tone was not one that suggested pity, at least not outwardly, but more fatigued and annoyed “Besides, he’s already had a bloody nose and... God, do you see the scar on his head?”


Allan looked down at his son, who was on the floor on all fours with his head lowered. He had taken Steal by the collar and given him a firm jostle before pushing him aside in frustration. All the past grievances and irritations with his son had come to surface when he laid eyes on him again, and unable—unwilling—to control his anger, Allan lashed out quickly and fiercely. As was his way.


Get up,” Allan commanded, ignoring his wife’s interjection. “From what I’ve had to hear from outside sources, you’ve spent enough times on your knees. Get up.” Steal feebly made an effort to get up on his feet, but the effort wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t good enough, for Allan. With a hissing intake of breath, the man bent down and grabbed Steal by a tuft of hair from the crown of his head and pulled upwards. Steal wailed and shot upright immeadiately but clumsily. Alan took a moment to examine his son’s expression, his demeanour, and it was not with eyes of compassion he laid on his child, but one of utter contempt. God, what a pitiful creature he was.


Do you have any idea what sort of reputation you’re giving me?” Allan asked in a low tone, his eyes hardening. “The sorts of things your mother and I have to listen to from those snakes on Wall Street? Do you have any CLUE?” He had his hands around the collar of Steal’s robe again, holding the boys gaze. “No... Of course you don’t. You’re oblivious. You’re selfish. It’s never mattered to you how your mother and I stay afload in this economy so long as you were out and about, gallavanting around with your low-life friends.... Leaving us to clean up after you. Leaving ME with a tainted name—a potentially tainted business—because YOU can’t keep it together!” Here he shook Steal violently until he was sick of holding him, and then let him go, not giving a care as his son tumbled on his ass to the ground.


Laura, call our damned valet and have him come pick us up as soon as possible. We’re going home tonight and putting this child in lock-up until he developes some sense.”




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While Yusai was giving the insanely accurate measurements on Steal, the boy himself was huddled in a corner, holding onto his bruised face and watching a few drips of blood strike his robe.   It was nothing new really, this was just his father's usual way of handling him.  Amusing that he had forgot something like this.   He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.   He shifted a bit, waiting for his father and mother to start talking. really more like quite but heated arguing.

Selfish, his father called him selfish, but he had no idea just what he had actually gave up.  His freedom, his happiness... 

He sniffled a bit then got to his feet, and stumbled to the bathroom, he had to leave a message, he had to find a way to get himself free again.   Insane really when all he had wanted was to let Yusai free.   He wrote carefully with a strange pencil he found (eyeliner?) on the back of the material of his hidden shirt.   His carefully written letters were a note giving Otto's bar's number and the address of his parent's estate.  It was all he could do.

He then closed his eyes tight sat on the edge of the bathtub and waited.  It wouldn't be long before he was dragged out of bathroom and stuffed into the limo his father would have to drive home in  There was no way they would slum it.  He gave a small smirk then turned his head when the door opened looking at his father who promptly dragged him out of the room.


It was about an hour later before they arrived back to the manor, and he was dragged to the secure lock up cell.  AKA his room.   It was terrible.  The computer was the same, the windows were barred and his bed was pretty much the only thing there.   The computer didn't seem to be hooked up, it was more of a prop to make him think that he had something in there.  It was a bad joke really.   None of the staff had the chance to see him and very likely none of them wouldn't even know he was there ever.   He sighed weakly and sat down on the bed, wishing he could be anyone but there.

In the hall he could hear his mother talking about proper security and how it would have to be beefed up outside.   The whole situation was ironic really.,  He had no idea things would be like this.  He had figured his going home would be a bit different, that maybe he would even be given some form of freedom.  His parents still didn't acknowledge that he was their kid.  He was just a bad publicity risk.   He wondered why the heck his parents had wanted kids anyway.


The investigation into finding Steal was a slow going process, or at least it seemed like one to the staff working with Otto.   How in the world could they have lost Yusai's friend?  The bracelet had been located and given to Yusai who seemed devastated to have seen it.  

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While Yusai was giving the insanely accurate measurements on Steal, the boy himself was huddled in a corner, holding onto his bruised face and watching a few drips of blood strike his robe.   It was nothing new really, this was just his father's usual way of handling him.  Amusing that he had forgot something like this.   He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.   He shifted a bit, waiting for his father and mother to start talking. really more like quite but heated arguing.

Selfish, his father called him selfish, but he had no idea just what he had actually gave up.  His freedom, his happiness... 

He sniffled a bit then got to his feet, and stumbled to the bathroom, he had to leave a message, he had to find a way to get himself free again.   Insane really when all he had wanted was to let Yusai free.   He wrote carefully with a strange pencil he found (eyeliner?) on the back of the material of his hidden shirt.   His carefully written letters were a note giving Otto's bar's number and the address of his parent's estate.  It was all he could do.

He then closed his eyes tight sat on the edge of the bathtub and waited.  It wouldn't be long before he was dragged out of bathroom and stuffed into the limo his father would have to drive home in  There was no way they would slum it.  He gave a small smirk then turned his head when the door opened looking at his father who promptly dragged him out of the room.


It was about an hour later before they arrived back to the manor, and he was dragged to the secure lock up cell.  AKA his room.   It was terrible.  The computer was the same, the windows were barred and his bed was pretty much the only thing there.   The computer didn't seem to be hooked up, it was more of a prop to make him think that he had something in there.  It was a bad joke really.   None of the staff had the chance to see him and very likely none of them wouldn't even know he was there ever.   He sighed weakly and sat down on the bed, wishing he could be anyone but there.

In the hall he could hear his mother talking about proper security and how it would have to be beefed up outside.   The whole situation was ironic really.,  He had no idea things would be like this.  He had figured his going home would be a bit different, that maybe he would even be given some form of freedom.  His parents still didn't acknowledge that he was their kid.  He was just a bad publicity risk.   He wondered why the heck his parents had wanted kids anyway.  

One thung had not changed at all though, his hidden gloves, bandages and pocket knife was still under one of the base boards.  He slid the familiar gloves on, and settled on his bed again, looking out the window at the darkening sky.


The investigation into finding Steal was a slow going process, or at least it seemed like one to the staff working with Otto.   How in the world could they have lost Yusai's friend?  The bracelet had been located and given to Yusai who seemed devastated to have seen it.  For the detective that has been phoned though things were even stranger.  He had been spending hours researching information on not only the missing young man but the family and he didn't like the scorpion nest he had found.

How could a family that prominent have been hiding their son for so long.  Other than a few publicity stills there was nothing there, no sports stories, academics, public interests, nothing.  It was like their son was a puppet brought out to dance once in a blue moon.  Only in the last couple of years had anything appeared.

Logan leaned back in his chair and sighed not noticing another member of the agency walking in humming, At least not until he started crowing about closing his case and returning a missing heir to his family.  It was all Logan could do to keep himself from throwing a pen at the other man.  

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Logan gathered all the information he could, and took meticulous notes. At the end of his investigation, he turned to the small group of worried individuals, and assured them that he would be in touch as soon as possible with updates on his findings. However, his assurance did little to ease the worry that Steal's friends were all feeling. He was glumly thanked for his time.


He was fussing with the sleeves of his coat and preparing to leave the club when a tall, blonde, one-eyed gentleman--Yusai--approached him, extending his hand with an item and telling Logan to take it, if he needed.


"It was found outside in the alleyway," Yusai explained, "It's something Steal would never go without. I don't know if it'll help, but..."


Logan paused, one arm sleeved, and took the bracelet from Yusai's hands.


"Thanks, I'll check it for prints," Was all Logan could think to say, although he knew that the item was sentimental, and the gentleman handing it to him did so with some reluctance. With his business there officially complete for the night, Logan sleeved his other arm, and exited the club.


The night ended with tense quiet, with everyone parting ways after Otto closed the club. Nobody bothered saying "goodnight" to one another, perhaps because they all knew they were harboring worry and the gesture would feel hollow. Yusai had exited the building with an angry stride, his brows knotted, jaw tense, and lips pinched together in a fine line. The frustration in his expression was immediately betrayed by the tremble of his hands as he fussed with his keys to unlock his car.


Yusai didn’t even remember the drive home. It was as if he had just blinked and suddenly he was standing alone in his apartment, numbly aware of his surroundings. If it weren’t for the beckoning yowl of the cat, Yusai might not have moved away from the entryway at all. Prince bobbed up to his legs and began his usual ritual of circling around Yusai’s ankles, which Yusai took as a gesture to trip him up until Steal would intervene by picking Prince up and out of the way, gently chastising him for his misbehavior.


Only Steal wasn’t here tonight. Yusai didn’t know where he was and thinking about it made him sick to his stomach. Not knowing if Steal was safe made him feel even worse. Every awful and negative possibility just swirled in his brain and pulled his deep into a whirlpool of misery and it seemed hopeless to try and pull himself out of it.


He walked to his bedroom and sat at the foot of the mattress, doing so out of habit because he’d then start peeling off his shoes. But instead he just sat and stared ahead of him, mind racing and stomach sinking. The clock behind him beamed “1:45 a.m.” The night felt impossibly long.


Prince bounded in and hopped up onto the bed, sniffing around where Steal had been sleeping and perhaps wondered where his night companion was. He trilled curiously a few times, came up beside Yusai and wormed his way onto his lap where he trilled some more. Yusai looked down at him, briefly snapped out of his worried daze.  He pet Prince, a gesture the cat welcomed (as he always did) and returned with double affection. He stood on his rear legs and propped his paws against Yusai’s chest, then pressed his forehead against Yusai’s chin. Yusai simply sighed and rather than tease and antagonize the cat in return (as he usually did) he wrapped his arms around the feline and cuddled him.


“Oi… He’ll be back… I promise, Prince.” Yusai mumbled, pressing his chin against the cat’s head first, then kissing it. He then lay down on the bed, Prince squirming a little to free himself from Yusai’s grip, and scuttled to Steal’s bed spot. Yusai looked up-side-down at him, and turned over. Prince plopped himself down and curled into a half-ball, similar to how Steal would sometimes, and yawned. Something about watching the cat get comfy tugged at Yusai, and he crawled up onto the bed fully, positioned himself against Prince’s back, and cuddled with him until he eventually fell asleep.




Yusai was awoken by a strange tickling sensation on his rear-end. Groggily he reached beyond himself and pat at his butt, bleakly realizing that the sensation was his phone vibrating with a call. He stuffed his hand into his pocket, yanked it out, and with his eye half-slit open, he tried to read the caller ID. It was a number he didn’t recognize. He answered anyway.


“H… Hello?” He stammered heavily, followed by a waking groan.


“Mister Perupe—This is the detective. Logan. Did I call you at a bad time?”


Yusai immediately jolted and was alert.


“Oi, no sir! Did you find anything? What were you able to find out?” He was quick to pour out questions although it was obvious that even though he was awake, he was not fully cognizant yet.


“Well, it’s kind of a long and funny story,” Logan began, he himself not being able to articulate a sentence right. If Yusai could read his tone better, he would’ve guessed that Logan had stayed up as late as he had and was tired this morning, too. “I won’t bore you with too many details, but, I’ve actually run into this kid and well, long story short, I think I know where he might be. Can you meet with me so I can give you some details? I’ll be down at The Coffee Corner in an hour.”




Yusai had hurried down to the café, donning the clothes he had fallen asleep in the previous night with his jacket half-zippered over everything, and his blonde, unkempt hair lazily hidden under a well-worn and goofy beanie that read “G’DAY” that Steal had gotten him as a little joke two years ago, all despite having an hour to get ready. When he entered, his eye had keenly spotted detective Logan, who was seated at a table sipping from a coffee mug and gently leafing through some papers in front of him. Yusai approached and greeted the man.


“Mister Perupe‘,” Logan responded, pulling out a chair beside him. “Thanks for coming down on short notice, I didn’t want to keep you waiting if I didn’t have to.”


“No no, thank you for um,” Yusai shifted into the seat ran his hand over his head, yanking off the beanie for a moment to scratch through his hair before sloppily shirking the garment back on. “For uh, you know. Doing your stuff and giving me an update so quickly. What’d you find out?”


Logan picked through his papers and yanked out one of the sheets that had some sporatic notes written all over it.


“Let me tell you a short story—A few weeks ago, I happened to be coming out of this shop and saw a car doing some bizarre circles around the area. I don’t think I need to tell you how bizarre a phenomena like this is in this particular part of Brooklyn…” Logan said, his steely eyes shooting up at Yusai in a knowing fashion, to which the Aussie nodded in response. “… Anyhow,” he continued, “It just happened that I took note of the plates on this car, and well… When you mentioned Steven’s last name, Masters? It rang some bells. I did some research, and found out that he’s the Master’s son—of Master Banking. If you’ll look over some of those notes, I was able to find out some other things…”


Logan pushed his small stack of papers over to Yusai, who looked down at them curiously but confused. The detective began explaining some details—Steal, son of Allan and Lauren Masters, reportedly a sickly child that was kept out of the public eye for most of his life. Not many other details about his upbringing otherwise. Allan and Lauren, however, had some unscrupulous histories—Lauren having been tried in court for embezzlement, and Allan having quite an extensive criminal history for “domestic disputes” that were settled in uncertain terms. None of these details particularly mattered to Yusai, but he listened with anticipation, waiting to hear how this tied to Steal’s whereabouts.


“I have a suspicion he might be with his parents,” Logan said while he ran his hand over his dull, brown stubble. “Going by a few police reports from before he turned 18, they’ve been trying to keep him under house arrest for whatever reason. I suspect they’ve been keeping an eye on him from a distance and finally made a move to bring him back home after he came up on the news last month.”


Yusai’s wide, tired eye spoke little of his bafflement in hearing all of this. He wasn’t sure how to absorb this information but it brought him a slight comfort to think he was somewhere safe—relatively—versus being alone out on the streets somewhere. But what now? He pondered. He knew Steal’s relationship with his family wasn’t the greatest but this was a complicated matter to tackle. It wasn’t as if he could approach Steals parents and ask for his roommate back… Or could he?


“So, what… What can I do? Do I call the police and file a missing persons report or…” Yusai’s question trailed. He wasn’t even sure what to ask but he knew he wanted—needed—to do something. Logan sighed into a low hum, apparently thinking to himself as well.


“Well… Like I said, this is just a suspicion. I could be entirely wrong about his whereabouts for the time being, but what I can do is give the Master’s estate a scout. It’s about an hour up north from the city, a little near Albany. I can—“

“Can I come with you?” Yusai interrupted. Logan was taken aback by the question but in examining the Aussie’s face, he could see that he was desperate for answers.


“I… Suppose you could,” Logan responded after a moments pause. “Although I don’t want to take up any of your time.”


Yusai shook his head. “S’not taking up my time at all. If you’ll let me go with you, I’d appreciate it. I just… Need to know where he is.” Yusai said, and his tone suggested more than just concern; there was a tenderness there that Logan picked up on but put aside mentally for the time being.


“Alright then. Let me gather some things and I’ll lead the way.” Logan stated, and they both stood from their chairs and proceeded along their way. However, just as Yusai was leaving the café, a familiar face bumped into him at the exit, and suddenly he was bewildered and cross at once; It was Lance, looking as anxious and tired as Yusai. Lance looked at Yusai pleadingly, his expression already asking the question that left his mouth seconds later:


“Did you find anything out about Steal?”


Yusai couldn’t lie to him, but he answered in a strained fashion and was eager to be away from this guy and on his way to Steal’s place. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that after explaining his potential whereabouts, Lance had asked to tag along. All of Yusai wanted to say “HELL NO” in response but the words never came out.


And before he knew it, the three of them had set out toward the Masters estate.

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Oh the love he felt.   The deep searing pains of love.

Steal was laying on the floor of the punishment room, welts bruises and abrasions marking him in colourful patterns.  He gagged a bit as he inhaled sharply and tried to shift himself into something resembling a comfortable position.   As if such a thing was even slightly possible.   His father hadn't waited any time at all to start the new dance, or rather the old dance that he had gotten used to NOT feeling.   His father was sitting off to the side watching him, his brows furrowed and his eyes glinting darkly.   He seemed almost bored with the things he had done, and one would believe it if not for the fact he did it so often.

"So, ready to tell me about who you were living with?"   He walked over and grabbed Steal's shortened hair and smirked.  "Heh, who-ever it was managed to get you to cut your hair like a boy at least.  No more girly long hair."  He dropped Steal's head before speaking in a falsetto.  "But I like it dad, please don't cut it..  If it wasn't for your mother it would have been gone long ago."   He crouched near Steal, one hand dropped loosely between his own legs as he peered at his struggling son.  "So, tell me about what has been going on, you all queer now?   That is it isn't it, I was right you are just a pretty fag boy.."

The words were spit with such acidic distaste that Steal cringed from each like another slap.   If his father only knew, no, his father had known was that why he was locked here?   No, there was more, even he knew that, but, it was enough wasn't it.   Just that was a good reason to ensure that Steal never left the house again.  No matter what was said he was not going to speak out, not going to taint his memories of Yusai but letting this man darken them.   He would take those with him in his heart and protect them.   "Not saying anything... y' can kill me but..  wont say a thing.."

This of course only made his father more angry.   "You may be 20 but you are under my roof again, and like it or not you are going to tell me what you want.   I did not raise you to be running off and living with other men."

Other men?

Something about that clicked in his mind and he couldn't stop himself.  "Y' wanted t' fuck me all this time didn't you daddy?"

The older man flinched and glared down darker.  "What did you say?"  He didn't give Steal a chance to answer before kicking him in the face, causing Steal to cry out in agony and roll away.  "How DARE you say that to me."

Struck a nerve... the pervert wanted me all this time..

Without saying or doing more the other man left the room, locking Steal in, leaving him panting on the floor.  If it wasn't for the pain, Steal likely would have been laughing, as it was a dry sound came from his throat, followed by a sob.   The pain.   He would at least get some time to rest, a little sleep before the sadist came in for round two.

Steal closed his eyes and pictured Yusai, wishing he was there instead of here, wishing there was a way to see him.




At the hotel Steal had been dragged to before being taken home, housekeeping uncovered a strange heap of clothing, with a phone number and address on the back of a shirt.   This was a first.   Curiousity led the lady to dial the number of Otto's bar to find out what was going on.  This could have been one of those weird scavenger hunt or geo-casheing things.   Either way it was obvious that someone wanted her to call this number, or go to the address and calling was all she could do while on shift.   The clothing wasn't cheap either, though it did seem to be small, almost a teen's size.

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It had been a strained hour or so ride up to Albany. Yusai had tiredly, half-heartedly, tried to answer the myriad of questions Lance had about Steal since his disappearance. His frustration must have been coming through in his tone, because Lance had started to trail off into silence, and worry simply marred his features. Logan had remained mostly quiet during the drive, occasionally mentioning their current whereabouts, ETA, and asking the odd question or two but nothing of significance. Or so he thought.


Logan had asked how the two knew Steven--Yusai answered first and said that he knew Steal for years; He was his roommate and close friend. They had met at the bar three years ago while there was an event going on at the club, and Steal had tried to sneakily weasel in an order for an alcoholic beverage whilst he was very much underage. Rather than call him out on it and make a big ordeal out of the affair, Yusai simply made him a fruity drink and insisted it was loaded with booze and watched in amusement as Steal guzzled it up and proceeded to make the cutest little ass of himself at the bar counter. Yusai had later been thrown for a loop when Steal had gotten sick and proceeded to barf up every drink he fed into him, but that was also how Yusai learned about Steal’s allergy to mango.


Yusai had prattled on like this for longer than he realized, so lost in his own memory and regaling that he didn’t notice Lance’s (muted, but very obvious) awe-struck expression. To him, this was just finding out another detail about Steal he was desperate to hear, as he wanted to know as much as he could about the guy but was obviously lacking the social graces that seemed to come so naturally to this otherwise big and intimidating Australian man. When Yusai had finished telling his story, Lance gingerly added his own, saying that he and Steal met by chance getting a haircut, then met for a date, and to this Yusai’s head looked like it was about to spin off.


A date? Yusai repeated to himself, mentally. Lance and Steal went on a date? But that couldn’t be. As far as he knew, Steal wasn’t gay--the mere thought made him squirm and feel tingly, a strange sensation all over that he couldn’t quite place his finger on--So that must have meant that Lance was, and that he must’ve invited Steal unbeknownst of this fact. This revelation made Yusai feel a whole different sensation altogether, and it descended on him quickly and fiercely; It was jealousy, but Yusai  recognized it as anger. He opened his mouth to let fly with a barrage of questions, interrogations, lectures, and even insults, but before a letter could even form in his mouth, his whole body was being thrust forward into the seat belt as Logan stepped on the brakes.


“Sorry about that,” he apologized, putting his cars gearshift into park. “I think this is the place.”


The triad looked out the windshield. They were parked a short distance outside a longer stretch of driveway that curved around a large, well-maintained lawn that was otherwise devoid of substance, save for the odd spruce tree that were planted symmetrically outside the parameter of the house.

The house itself was fairly large, fitting in perfectly in the neighborhood (a fairly “rich” part of Albany) but with enough little subtleties that set it apart from the other homes in the surrounding area. For one, this house had the longest driveway in the entire area. The second thing was that the house appeared to have black grates or bars of some kind over the majority of the windows that weren’t decorative. The third thing that set it apart was the rather sterile appearance of the lawn, and outer appearance of the home in general. All the other surrounding houses in the neighborhood had some small detail or another that separated it from the other homes nearby, but spoke clearly of the owners personality: Be it with hints of gold trim along the windows, the use of brick or slate for their driveways, or elegant street lanterns to illuminate their walkways.


This house just seemed to say, “Nothing to see here. Go away.”


They were looking up at this house in silence for what felt like forever, until Logan spoke again.


“I’m going to go take a little walk around outside and see if I can gather some more information. If you want to stretch your legs, go ahead, but if anyone asks who you are or what you’re doing here, tell them that you’re waiting for a friend who’s lost and getting directions. Don’t tell them anything else.”


With that, Logan reached into his center console and grabbed a pen and a small notebook that was wedged between some other parcels, stepped out of the car, and made a slow amble up the driveway, occasionally looking to-and-fro, maybe to sell the illusion that he was a lost traveler.


This left Yusai and Lance alone in his car in a deafening silence. Lance was watching Logan listlessly while Yusai, also watching, had resumed his previous ruminations over Lance and Steal’s “date”. That funny feeling that was briefly quelled when they pulled up to the driveway had returned, slowly burning away in his gut, making him feel a mixture of unease and… Something else.


He hadn’t realized he was clenching his jaw until Lance had quietly asked a question, which Yusai didn’t hear, and snapped back instinctively, “What?” His tone harsh enough to make Lance flinch a little in his seat.


“I was asking if we should… I don’t know, get out and help?” the hairdresser repeated, plainly baffled by Yusai’s reaction.


Yusai shook his head, rejecting the idea as well as trying to dismiss the confusing thoughts racing through his mind. “He didn’t ask for help. We outta stay put, like he said.”


“I don’t mean the detective. Look up there in the right corner window. That’s Steal, isn’t it? Or someone that looks a lot like him.”


Flabberghasted, Yusai turned his attention to where Lance had mentioned, straining his eye to see a modest distance away at the house. His depth perception wasn’t the best, but he could see a small, blurry figure standing against the window, a very distinct blotch of whitish-silver that could very well be Steal’s hair matted against a mix of peach and very bright red features. There was another person there with him--at least, thats how it looked--and the two appeared to be struggling. The smaller of the two figures fell backwards, and the other followed their initial blow with a series of clumsy, blurry swings. Punches, probably. Yusai could only gawk in horror, jaw clenched.


They--he--had to do something, didn’t he? If that was Steal, that is. Or even if it wasn’t? Yusai’s eye darted to Logan, who was only now approaching the front door to the house and ringing the doorbell. Yusai’s eye flung back up to the window to see the man who had been swinging at the presumed Steal stall, then make a hasty pace out of that particular room. His mind was racing. What should he do? What could he do?


He was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn’t even register the movement beside him, or seem to hear the sound of the passenger door adjacent to his seat open, then thud shut. Yusai hadn’t even realized Lance had exited the vehicle until he saw the guy bounding down the driveway, doing what he should’ve been doing first. He felt another flare of jealousy surge up in his guts and before Yusai knew it, he was following suite, hot on Lance’s heels in no time. The two were only halfway up the driveway when the front door was answered, and they paused in their tracks, just enough in range to see the exchange between Logan and this black-haired stranger.


What they were saying to each other was barely audible from where Yusai and Lance had stopped, but whatever the conversation had been, it was brief and curt. Logan had to step back from the door to avoid having it literally slammed in his face, and he ambled back, hands in his coat pockets, his expression neutral until he saw Yusai and Lance waiting for him in the driveway. Logan frowned, and nodded slightly.


“That’s Mister Masters himself all right,” He said to them when he was close enough, and he continued walking away from the home. “Whether or not the Masters kid is here is another story. Walk with me--If we loiter, we’re likely to be forcibly removed from the premises.”


Yusai hesitantly turned his back from the mansion, shooting a look over his shoulder up at the window Lance had pointed out earlier. He couldn’t see anything or anybody in there right now, but he was sure Steal had to be in the house somewhere. And he was determined to get him out by any means necessary.


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Steal had barely managed to make it back to his room after the most brutal beating his father had been able to dish out at the time.   He could hardly feel anything in his left arm, but that was likely a result of him falling on the ground badly.   He wasn't sure that he could have broken it, but there was a chance, always a chance seeing how angry his father was.   When he was finally on his own he curled on his bed and took short shallow breaths.

His father would be gone a while, he usually went down and drank.  For some reason beating the snot out of his son was a reason to drink.  Steal looked at his barred windows and shook his head a little.   He was in jail.  Prison, a cell that he could not get out of.  Steal did not know how he could get out of here and he was highly aware any chance of talking to someone and getting help was out of the question.  No one was permitted to talk to him.

He rose slowly and glanced out the window, and jerked back a moment as a car drove by or rather away.  Steal could have screamed.  It was pointless but he wanted to scream and yell for help.   He sank down to the floor and sobbed softly.  "Help me..."


The call went through to the bar, and the housekeeper waited to see who would answer the phone.  "Aye, I found this number on a shirt in one of my rooms.   Yes, it is a teen's shirt or something, for one of those bands.  Nothing else really but a message saying to call the number.  Yes, a woman rented the room... took a boy with her I guess, but.. no no not sure why it was left but it was a message or for some game?"  She frowned at the words being spoke to her before hanging up.  "Kidnapping or abduction..."   She took the shirt and ran down to the main desk to give over the shirt in case the police came.


Otto frowned a moment as he put together the information before passing on the call to Yusai.  Steal was certainly with whoever took him and he had left his shirt behind seeking help so he was not there willingly.  The problem was that there was now a limited way to get Steal back without going to the police, and even if they did, would he be able to leave now that he was in custody of his parents and he was still 20?   Otto gritted his teeth and he slammed his fist on the bar.   He made the call and was not sure that Logan, the man with Steal could do anything.


Steal calmed himself down and he paced around his room.  It was time to think of ways to get out.   He was being abused, he was in pain, he was locked in a room and there was no one to help him get out.   No one came into the room, if he had been able to speak to someone he may have been able to ask for help from them.   His parents knew that all too well and they did not let it happen.   Steal sat down on the bed again and took a deep breath.   His arm still hurt, he was bruised.  Could he use that to get out?   Could he call and complain his arm was broken?   If he did would he be able to get out of here?  He was still thinking about that as the door opened and a figure loomed over him.  "Ready for round two brat?"


Steal swallowed hard.  "Why?  Why must you do this?  He lifted one arm as if to shield himself even as his father moved to grab him again.

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What were they going to do now? Yusai had received call from Otto not too long after he, Lance, and Logan had loaded back into the car. They were silent until the phonecall, mulling over their options on what they could do that made the most sense, given the circumstances. They had no way of verifying if Steal was with his parents… Until they heard from Otto otherwise.


“Does he know for sure?” Logan had asked when Yusai hung up the phone, his face donning a pained expression.


“Yeah mate, says he got a call from a hotel Steal was taken to last night before he was brought here. Steal left a message on a mirror or somethin’.” Yusai explained, his eye wandering. “So what do we do now? Do we call the cops?”


Logan rolled his head and ran his left hand through his short, ash-yellow hair. “We could, but it’s going to be real hard reporting this as a kidnapping. He’s of legal age, with his parents, and his parent’s aren’t holding their own son for ransom. It’s more likely this would all turn into one big, ugly court case that would go on for a few… Months.”


Yusai let out a long breath through his nostrils, his fist clenched around his cellphone. God, this was killing him. He hadn’t felt this helpless in a long time, not since he was a child. He wanted so desperately to just charge into the home, grab Steal, and start running but he knew that the option was an impossibility. What could he do? He kept turning the question over and over in his mind until Lance interrupted his thoughts.


“What’s to stop us from like, just knocking on the door and uh, telling his parents that we know what’s going on?” Lance asked, his chocolate almond eyes glancing between Logan and Yusai.


“Well for starters, what do you think that would accomplish?” Logan responded, “Do you believe that his parents would return their child to the free world because his roommate and his boyfriend said so?”


Lance blushed when he heard “boyfriend”, wishing that was the case. Yusai flushed too, but for different reasons. His fist, clenched around his cellphone, was so tense that the phone slipped out of his hand and he scrambled to grab it from the floor where it had fallen. As he was leaning upright, he heard Lance’s rebuttal.


“I just mean that… Well, you mentioned all this stuff about Steal’s parents being uh, more concerned with their reputations and stuff than Steal’s feelings. Couldn’t we tell them that we know all these things and, I dunno, could release them to the public if they don’t let him go?”


“You mean, like, blackmail?” Logan asked, his tone and expression deadpan. It looked as if he’d heard this suggestion a thousand times and for each time he heard it, he died a little inside. He inhaled long and hard through his nose, turning in his seat so he could get a better look at Lance as he geared up to explain why blackmail, or extortion, was both illegal and a bad idea.


However, before he could even get a word out, he was distracted by a loud “THUNK” of the passanger door closing, and the two of them saw Yusai storming down the walkway like a man on a mission. Logan groaned and smeared his hands down his face, frustration marring his features; Instictively, he slammed his palm on the horn of his car, hoping to startle Yusai into stopping in his tracks and turn around, but he seemed unphased.


And, he was; Yusai only briefly looked back when he heard the car horn blaring behind him, the panicked agitation plain on Logan’s face as he was waving for Yusai to “GET BACK HERE”, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t care, wasn’t thinking about, the consequences of his actions. He was determined to get Steal back one way or another and if he had to threaten his parents with blackmail, so be it.


He marched up the small entryway and didn’t hesitate to knock firmly on the door. It was answered shortly after, by a familiar looking older woman with long, silvery-blonde hair. She examined Yusai with her pale blue eyes and grimmaced, appearing to have made a judgement and was in the process of honing her tongue.


“Can I help you?” the woman asked, bringing a hand to her collarbone to feel at the pearls that hung there.


“I’m looking for a friend of mine. Stea--Stephen. I got word that he was here. I’d like to speak with him if I may, please.” Yusai said, his tone low, but polite. There was no sense in laying a threat down immediately, if it were unnecessary. This woman, however, did not seem to be buying Yusai’s pleasantries; She saw the tenseness in his jaw, the small crease of anger in his brow, and the glint in his eye and it was plain as day that this gentleman was not here to have a word with a friend.


“And what do you want with him?” The woman whipped back, her eyes never faltering from Yusai’s. “You say he’s a friend of yours, but my son doesn’t keep your kind of company as friends, so you must be mistaken. Please excuse yourself.” She said this, and made a move to close the door, but Yusai planted his foot in as a door stop, which took her by surprise.


“Oi, sorry, but I don’t think you understand,” Yusai began, “Steal is a friend of mine, and as his friend, I’m here to do whats in his best interest, and I’m quite sure it’s to get him out of this fancy hell-hole you’ve got him locked away in. Let me ask again--May I speak with him?” Yusai’s tone was plain, but punctuated his determination. He was not going to back down and Steal’s mother knew this, however, she would not be bested by some crietin in her own home. She turned her head and shouted for her husband, her voice sharp and curt. Mr. Masters appeared not too long after, bounding down the stairwell behind her and looking agitated.


“What is it?” He asked, approaching the doorway, seeing Yusai’s large frame within. Allan’s eyes seemed to darken then, but he’d hear his wife out, first.


“This thug wishes to speak with Stephen.” Was all she divulged, clutching a pearl from her string between her thumb and index finger. Alan’s blue eyes, so much like Steal’s in color but completely different in appearance, pierced suddenly into Yusai’s, who met his snake-like gaze with his own stony glare.


“Stephen isn’t taking any visitors, and he certainly isn’t taking visitors from the likes of you. Get the hell off of my property before I call the police and have you shot for trespassing.”


Yusai didn’t respond immediately then, and there was a pause. Yusai had two sets of very angry eyes trying to stare him down, two people who were as determined as he was to keep Steal hidden away from the world, for whatever reason. A threat had already been laid on the table--leave or be violently escorted off the property by police. Should he rise to Steal’s father’s threat with his own? He didn’t know. He hesitated on this momentarily, and instead did the next best thing he could think of; He shouted for Steal as loud as he could, hoping his voice could be heard by his friend.


To some success, this seemed to startle Steal’s parents enough for them to become distracted. They both looked around, thinking that maybe Steal had been somewhere behind them this whole time. They were more startled--and visibly angry--when Steal had made an appearance on the stairwell, still bloodied and battered from his tussle with his father a little bit ago.


Yusai’s own anger had disappeared and turned into relief, but only for a second; He was happy to see Steal again but he was covered in bruises, welts, and a trail of dried blood ran from his nose, down his neck. A multitude of different emotions washed over him--pity, sadness, helplessness--but then anger came back to him when he heard Steal’s father snap at his son to retreat back to his room. The look Steal shot at Yusai would’ve made his heart break, if it hadn’t been pounding away with the help of adrenaline.


“Oi! Steal, come here--I’ll protect you, I promise,” Yusai said, his voice gentle and assuring. Steal looked at him like a wounded animal and hesitated, but he began descending the stairs anyhow, bravely in the face of his parents who were now guarding the path to the entryway like dogs.

“I told you to get back in your goddamned room, Stephen,” Alan said, the whites of his eyes now visible and his brows arched fiercely. “Take another step forward and I’ll see to it you won’t walk for a very long time.”

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Something was happening outside of his room, and Steal limped over to see if he could find out what it was.   Someone was down the hall, down the stairs actually talking and he could hear his mother's voice filled with disdain.   Then came his father, the hated man who cared only for his money.   He reached out to turn the doorknob expecting what always came to him.   The door being locked.

It wasn't.  Somehow some way his father had forgotten to lock the door.

Steal opened the door and started to walk toward the noise.   He didn't want to be noticed and he planned to stay silent.   He hadn't wanted to show himself but then he could hear the one talking and he had to step out.   Yusai, calling for him.   Steal stepped out and peeked down the stairs, not aware that he was bloody, or rather not giving a damn that he was bloody.

Steal parted his lips to say something but he was so tired and weak with relief at seeing Yusai.   He put out one hand as if to reach Yusai, but his head started to swim.  He staggered and fell down the stairs, causing his Mother to yell out in upset, and his dad to roar in anger.   Steal lay on the floor dazed, one hand  out to Yusai as if begging him to do something.  "Want.. to go home.."

Alan Masters turned with a roar again.  "Get your ass back upstairs, you are so going to regret this.   I swear that I will break both of your fucking legs." 

Steal looked like he was going to burst into tears.  He wanted Yusai to rescue him.  He wanted to go back home, and more than that he wanted to know that Yusai loved him.  It didn't matter one way or the other because for Yusai to get him he would have to get past the angry man cursing at his son and telling him of the terrible dismembering he was about to get for disobeying.

Too bad there was no camera filming this.  He would be able to get free if someone knew that Steal was being tortured.  "S-Save me.."


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The moment Steal had crumbled to the ground, Yusai lurched forward, ready to spring into action but having one very obvious roadblock; Steal’s father, who turned to look his son and glare with the whites of his eyes just barely slivered around his iris.


“Go back to your room, now.” Was Alans low, strained, half-gurgled instruction. Steal made no effort to move, seemingly paralyzed there on the landing, his blue eyes flicking between his father, his mother, and Yusai. They were all at a stasis for a minute, until Alan turned heel and stormed up to Steal, who recoiled.

Alan reached down and grabbed Steal by the shoulders of his suit vest, jerked him forward so that he was sitting upright, and then pulled Steal to stand, which he did reluctantly. As soon as he was on his feet, Alan pushed Steal against the railing to turn him around, and as soon as he had his back to him, he grabbed what he could of Steal’s hair and pointed him toward the stairs. All this while Steal protested, resisted how he could, but to no avail.


His father was beginning to push Steal forward, up the stairs, when his wife protested. He paused, a look of bewilderment crossing over his face briefly that snapped back to stern, bubbling anger when he set eyes on his spouse, and he asked her firmly what she wanted. She was doing a peculiar “dance” in front of Yusai, who was also maneuvering in an unusual fashion, trying his best to dart his hand in any open space not being occupied by Steal’s mother before she scooted in front of it.


“He’s—He’s got a cellphone out—He’s recording—” She said, her tone breathless and agitated.

Alan immediately released his son, letting him fall dead-weight where he may and went to approach the front door again, his face reddening and forehead beginning to sheen with sweat. He reached outward and placed his hand on his wife’s shoulder and firmly pushed her aside so that he could size up this man, this intruder who had suddenly appeared and was making things a lot more difficult and complicated than they had to be.


“Put that damned thing away!” he barked upward at Yusai’s face, unflinching in its sneer. Alan puffed his chest against Yusai’s, pressing him backward, trying to muscle him out and away from his entryway, but Yusai was as firmly planted as a tree. He stared down at Alan with his own fierce gaze, meeting his challenge, his body coursing with adrenaline. Alan continued to try and push Yusai away without actually using his fists, though his whole upper body was tense and rigid with restraint, the desire to engage in a punch-up with Yusai plain as day. Yusai only met with equal resistance. They were at a stand-still until Steal, either out of desperation or craziness, squeezed past the two of them at the door and bolted in a stumbling, feverish way down the driveway.


Yusai stammered then, turned away from Alan, and called out to Steal, who didn’t appear to hear him. Alans face seemed to turn purple with rage, his wife behind him as pale as Steal when he was about to faint. Yusai was about to give chase, but he suddenly felt his shoulder being tugged backward, and then there was a sharp, searing pain on the left side of his head. He stumbled to catch himself, and turned back around to face his aggressor--Steal’s father--who was the picture of maddness if there ever was one.


There was then a chaotic mess of words and sounds. Alan was shouting, his wife was screaming, Yusai was calling out to Steal who had run out into the street. A car screeched, a door slammed somewhere… It was incomprehensible what happened in that moment until Yusai was able to get himself reoriented, and he looked up and saw Steal in the road, on his knees, crouched before Logan and Lance who were tending to him. Good, he was in safe hands. But as for himself…


He didn’t have time, nor really the foresight, to return Alan’s blow with his own jab. Fighting didn’t matter anyhow. What mattered is that Steal was out of their possession, and that he be returned home where he belonged. Yusai simply turned away again and began walking, ignoring the furious yelling, the repeated attempts to stall him, Steal, Lance and Logan, and made his way back to the car. When he was close enough, he was able to see that Steal was clutching his side, whimpering and stammering incoherently.


“You’re going to be alright,” Yusai overheard Logan saying to Steal. “I promise. I’ll get you to a hospital. Don’t worry, you’re not going to die.”


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Steal's body and mind were a tortured pool of agony and confusion.  He hurt, he wasn't sure what had happened only that he was hurting and something..  Yusai, Yusai was still there, he was still there and Steal had to get to him.  There was no way he was going to leave Yusai there.   He struggled weakly, fighting between being partly certain he was dying and partly certain that Yusai was the one who was going to die.

Then he saw Yusai and reacted as only he could.  He collapsed into the other man's arms sobbing weakly.   He was supposed to be an adult, supposed to be old enough to get away from his parents but it was hard when they were this way.   He now just wanted the comfort of knowing that Yusai was with him.   It was at this time that Lance could clearly see that Steal was in love with Yusai, even if Yusai didn't know it, or was fighting his own desires.

All of that was secondary to a few other things.  A trip to the hospital, getting the footage of what was going on in that house, and then dealing with all of this.  Logan was talking to Yusai talking about what was going to have to happen.  That they needed to turn the footage in if they wanted to keep Stephen from that house again.   Steal tuned most of that out, he was resting his head against Yusai's chest now, eyes closed.

Lance looked back at them and asked if Yusai was okay, he had a clear bruise forming on his face, it looked bad but it was still a bruise, not like the bruises covering Steal's body, the blood on his body.  "I think that guy was going to kill him if he had kept this up.  Who does that?"   Steal didn't say much at this point.  He was clinging.  He didn't want to leave Yusai's side again.   It was from leaving him before that this had happened.


The trip to the hospital was fast and the treatment was faster.  Soon Steal was in a bed, and police were arriving to see the tapes of abuse and torture.  This was going to be huge news and would ruin his family.   Steal was scared of that, but he was too busy looking at Yusai, and trying to fight off a drug induced haze.  He knew that soon reporters would show up, that soon things would hit the fan that he couldn't stop.  "Yusai.. are you okay?"   He took Yusai's hand, trying to keep his eyes open.

The reporters did show up, and so did lawyers and Steal's parents.  As soon as that happened, things got more tense.   The only ones not seeing it were Steal and Yusai inside of Steal's room.  In the hall, tension had mounted to the point that security was on high alert, police were stationed and arguing had been taken to the waiting room.  Lance and Logan were trying not to get pulled into it too hard, but with them being the only other witnesses to what was going on it was hard.

"He is our son, you can't just abduct him!"

"You are the ones that abducted him first."

"He is being perverted we took him home to help him."

"Help?  By beating him half to death?"

The hospital staff didn't know how to deal with this all happening.    They just made sure no one saw Yusai or Steal, not without knowing what the full story was.

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There they were, back at the hospital for the second time this year. Steal had protested that it wasn’t necessary, but Lance, Logan, and Yusai insisted until he eventually relented.


They had been solitary there for a short period of time, quiet, alone, with only occasional questioning from Steals friends and hospital crew alike. That solitude had been quickly thrown out the window when Steal’s parents arrived, likely having followed them since their departure. They were pale and shaken, though it was obvious by the slight bunching of Alan’s brow that they were not at the hospital out of concern for their childs well-being. But why they were was a mystery.


Steal had clutched to Yusai’s arm when he heard their voices talking outside his room, pleading to be hidden away somewhere where they couldn’t find him. Yusai, who was quite agitated himself, tried his best to coax and assure Steal that everything would be okay, and that he wouldn’t let his parents have at him if he had anything to say about it. With a gentle clasp and pat on Steals hand, Yusai stepped out of Steals room and into the hall, where Lance, Logan and Steals parents were, already in the midst of an argument. Well, Lance and Steals parents were, anyway. Logan stood against the wall to Steals room, arms folded across his chest, eyes hooded and pointed at the floor.


Yusai only caught a portion of the discussion already happening, but Alan was being quite curt with Lance, his face twisted in a mix of disgust and anger, as he snapped at him,


“—I don’t want my son to be seen with faggots like you or—” He hesitated a moment, just now catching Yusai’s eye, and without missing a further beat, pointed at him. “—That one!”


The accusation sent bristles up Yusai’s spine, and heat rushed to his face. Just who did this asshole think he was, accusing him of such a thing? Alan didn’t even know him! Or maybe he can just see right through you? Yusai’s mind teetered, looking at the downward spiral it would invariably fall into unless he defended himself right now. He stepped forward, intercepting the space between Steal’s father and Lance; Alan sized him up for the second time today, baring his eyes straight into Yusai’s.


“Call me a faggot again, and see just how much longer you’ll be talkin’,” Yusai growled through clenched teeth. Alan sneered at him, the expression alone making Yusai’s fist twitch involuntarily. They shared a moments pause, the air thick with tension. Alan had just started to part his lips to speak when Lance interrupted him, or Yusai rather, by placing his hand on his shoulder.


“Just don’t even bother with that prick, it’s not worth it,” He said, his dark brown eyes darting between Yusai and Alan. He leaned a little closer to Yusai and muttered quietly to him, “Come on, don’t get us in trouble…”


As much as Yusai hated to admit it, Lance had a point. Violence and fighting wasn’t going to solve anything right now, and it certainly wasn’t going to help Steal in the slightest. Still, though, he was trembling with adrenaline, and something else—Was it fear? He felt exposed, for some reason. Being unable to fight back, defend himself, prove to Steal’s weasel-faced father that he wasn’t gay, that he wasn’t a faggot gnawed away at his gut in the most unpleasant way.


Yusai grunted and pulled himself away from Lance’s grip, and stormed back into Steal’s room aimlessly, barely taking note how he had startled Steal upon reentry. He didn’t even apologize. Steal was asking him questions but Yusai was far too riled up to even hear him, instead he wrung and clawed at his own fists until Steal was practically yelling for his attention: He was asking what happened outside.


“Nothing.” Yusai snapped, his jaw tense. “Your father is a shit, is all.” Steal only meekly nodded in agreement. Yusai looked up at Steal who had a tired, puzzled look on his face, clearly begging to know what else had happened out there that had him so riled up. Unfortunately, Yusai couldn’t put into words what that something was—one because he lacked the words for it, and two, because he didn’t want to expose the insecurities he had been harboring for over a month now. Still, he couldn’t just leave Steal in suspense, but rather than answer him directly, Yusai just asked his own question.


“Steal… Did your parents always talk to you like that? Treat you like dirt?” He approached Steal’s bedside and sat in the slightly too-small chair there, slouched over, elbows to knees, and fingers kneading his knuckles. “I’d always wondered how bad things could possibly be to make a kid run away from home, but now that I’ve met your parents, I ‘spose I see why. They’re completely rotten.  Was there ever a time were they were nice to you?”

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