Now I've got my fingers crossed that there won't be anything wrong with my eBay computer! Because if so, then that means I'd have to start all over again. I'm picturing myself sitting in a coffee shop at lunchtime, reading Yaoi Daily!
Slave to a Gladiator
By Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee and Ryo
Rating: Teen or mature.
Spoilers: to Volume 7
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Sanami Matoh, who created the popular manga, FAKE. Well, Todd the bartender, Trevor the palanquin bearer, Gwen the hairdresser, Niko the dungeon-master and Serena the cat-eared whip-mistress are mine, but the rest are Ms. Matoh's. I was not paid in any way for writing this story.
Summary: And the jeans are off! The swaggering gladiator and his reluctant slave attend Diana's Halloween party in NYC, where a roomful of people all have conflicting desires. The silliness escalates.
Author's notes: Please read and review.
Thank you to mtemplar, moontatoo, and the_ladyfeather for beta-ing this.
And a big hug and a kiss to jdr1184 for the two animations she made especially to illustrate this story. If you haven't seen them yet, check out the comment sections of Chapter 10 (FAKE-PORN, I swear to God!) and Chapter 11 (Dee dancing in undies). So amazing!
Slave to a Gladiator
Diana tweaked open the curtain to a little alcove that Ryo wouldn't have guessed was there. It seemed to be a place of refuge for tired party guests to withdraw to. There was a mirror mounted on one wall, with a laminated counter below it, and couple of upholstered chairs under that. A box of tissues and a bottle of lotion stood at one end of the counter, and a little pink zippered bag crouched at the other. There was a slightly worn-looking chaise lounge in the corner whose quality did not quite match the other furnishings of the hotel. Monet prints in gilt frames adorned two of the walls.
"In you go," she said. "Quick, before someone spots us." She gave him a firm push and followed him, letting the curtain fall closed behind her.
He turned back to her almost immediately, looking a little puzzled. "Um, why are we in here, again?"
"Oh, just to get a little break from the madding crowds," she said. "I thought you could maybe keep me company for a while." She looked pointedly at his wet and sticky jeans. "I also thought you might want me to send your pants down to Laundry. If we get your jeans washed while the stains are still wet, I think you can salvage them. Otherwise the pomegranate juice in the punch is probably going to stay on your jeans for life."
"Oh no, do you think so?" Ryo looked down at his jeans, feeling dismayed. They were his favorites. It had taken him a whole year to break them in just right.
"For sure," said Diana emphatically. Todd says they've got the best cleaning products here at the New York Palace Hotel, and apparently there are industrial strength machines in the basement that could have your jeans dry in 30 minutes or less. So, whaddaya say? You wanna just chill in here for about half an hour and then have your jeans back, all clean and ready to wear home?"
"Well..." Ryo considered his options. He really didn't want to take off his jeans at this costume party just in case someone saw him in his too-short tunic. But on the other hand, he preferred it in this quiet little room away from Commissioner Rose and that odd guy with the slaves and the cigars. He wasn't exactly in a partying kind of mood anyway.
"What about Agent Brasov?" he asked her. "I'm supposed to be helping you out by flirting with you in front of him, and I can't exactly do that from in here."
"Oh, yes you can," she informed him with a knowing smile. "In fact, he's probably seething with jealousy right now because he knows I'm alone in here with you, and all kinds of naughty things could start happening at any moment." She shrugged self-deprecatingly. "Or maybe I'm wrong and he doesn't like me as much as I think he does."
"Oh, I think he likes you, all right," Ryo reassured her, recalling the exchange between Agent Brasov and Dee. "You should have heard the way he tore into Dee in your defense."
Diana's eyes lit with interest. "Well, I certainly do want to hear about that," she said. "But first, why don't you make a decision about your jeans? They could be getting expert cleaning treatment while you're giving me a full report."
"All right," said Ryo, impulsively deciding to trust her. After all, he couldn't stand the cold stickiness of his jeans for one second longer. "Just don't tell anyone I'm in here, okay?"
"Not even your partner?" Diana looked a little doubtful. "Because I think he's perfectly capable of tearing the place apart looking for you. I wouldn't put it past him to get a search party together--"
"No, it's okay. You can tell him. I don't want him to worry because I've suddenly 'disappeared' on him."
"All right then, I'm going to ask Todd to bring us a couple of drinks so we can have a cozy chat in here. When he delivers them, you hand him your pants and he'll take care of them. Does that sound like a plan?"
"Ted, what's with the loser costume AGAIN?" Dee looked him up and down with raised brows. "You recycle that crappy lion costume every year."
"Yeah," said James, who was dressed as a passable Zorro. "You should at least clean it. Look at that, you've still got Janet's red wine stain from last year on your ass."
"That's not red wine," retorted Ted, completely unfazed. "That's the blood of the antelope I ate for dinner. Where's the booze?"
"There's a cash bar over there, but people who brought bottles are setting them up on that other table in the corner," James informed him.
"Well, I guess I'll hit the cash bar, then," Ted said, swiveling his head around to stare at the other guests. "Whooo, looks like there's maybe one or two hot chicks here tonight, huh?"
"Yeah, but you're not gonna get any of 'em to take you seriously in a lame lion outfit with a hole in the armpit," said Dee.
"Yeah," added James knowingly. "Chicks don't like that sort of thing." To the amusement of his co-workers, he had been behaving like something of an expert on women since his current girlfriend had stolen him from his former girlfriend only three months before. It had obviously done wonders for his confidence.
"All costumes are kind of lame close up," Ted said dismissively. "But once the lights are down and the liquor is flowing, no one gives a damn. Say, look at Little Miss Latex over there givin' us the eye."
"Shit, she's coming this way," said Dee, whose eyes were darting about for all the world as if he were looking for an escape route.
"Whaddaya mean, 'shit'?" Ted muttered. "She's a hot one!"
"Maybe you're about to get lucky, Ted," whispered James teasingly.
"Not with Dee standing next to me! Fuck off for five minutes, willya, Dee? Give the less pretty a chance here."
"Sorry, bud. It's too late," said Dee.
"Dee Laytner!" exclaimed the Latex Goddess, as Ted had already named her in his mind. Her costume was definitely NOT lame close up. In fact, the deep and fascinating cleft of her cleavage was already causing stirrings in parts of him that were fortunately hidden by the bagginess of his 'lion loins'. But, dammit, she already seemed to know Dee. And she didn't seem to be one of his more bitter exes, judging by the sparkle in her eye.
Ted, ever optimistic, reminded himself that Dee was technically out of the game. She may want him, but she couldn't have him. He would go home either with Ryo or to Ryo, no matter what. Ted watched them smile, exclaim, embrace and air-kiss, while the wheels clanked around in his mind. Perhaps his co-worker's connection with this gorgeous creature could be brought to benefit him. He just had to stick close, that was all.
"Do you see much of Kelly nowadays?" Dee was asking.
"Not since she moved to Cleveland, which was about three or four ye--"
"Detective Ted O'Neill, Dee's good buddy," interrupted Ted, holding out one giant lion-paw. "Pleased to meet you, Miss...Serena?" He had overheard Dee say her name when he greeted her.
"Well, well. Another of Dee's co-workers. Let me see your face, Ted." She lifted his mask and looked him over with raised eyebrows. "Your division must have a reputation for being comprised of the best looking men in the NYPD." She gave Ted an admiring glance that he found as encouraging as hell. He knew she was lying, naturally; he was only a little above average, and of course nobody looked good standing next to Dee, but he still appreciated the fact that she was flirting with him.
"Oh, we have a reputation, all right," Ted assured her in his best seductive voice. He just didn't say for what. This would not be the best time to tell her that the 27th was widely considered to be the gayest precinct in the five boroughs.
A deep voice broke in, speaking in a disparaging tone. "A reputation merely for good looks? Wouldn't hard work or success be a better thing to have a reputation for?"
Ted's lion mask did not allow for much in the way of peripheral vision, so he pulled it all the way off and turned his head to look at the speaker. He saw a fit-looking perma-tan guy in his early forties who was wearing some kind of S&M get-up and seemed to be towing a pair of goofballs on leashes.
"Oh, Niko," sighed Serena. "Do you always have to be so rude?"
"I'm not the one who has been unforgivably rude this evening," he claimed calmly, hard eyes on Dee. His two loyal slaves tried to follow his lead by also glaring silently at the tall, handsome gladiator, but after about ten seconds they couldn't stop their eyes from roving over him appreciatively. One of them blushed deeply after catching his eye.
"At the 27th, we also have a reputation for ass-kicking," said Dee darkly, judging the distance to the door and considering how quickly he could conceivably drag Niko to it and out of Diana's sight.
Serena's eyes widened as if she knew what he was thinking.
"Dee... Niko..." She turned her head from one to the other, speaking in a low, but conciliatory voice. "There's no need for this behavior. I know both of you quite well, and you actually have a lot in common."
"We have nothing in common!" sputtered Niko.
"Not me, baby," said Dee. "I'm out of the scene. I was only ever in it for Kelly."
"He called me a wannabe leather-dom!" added Niko in tones of great injury.
"Ouch," said Serena with a sympathetic wince. "Well, maybe six months ago you were, but not now, honey. I can vouch for you."
"Seriously?" asked Dee, his eyes swinging from Niko to Serena with disbelief. "You? Him?"
"Uhh, what's a leather-dom?" asked James, but everyone ignored him.
"Seriously," said Serena, one corner of her mouth lifting in a sardonic smile. "He knows what he's doing, not only with that whip on his belt, but also with the tawse, the flogger, and the cat."
The two slaves murmured excitedly and clung to each other at the sound of those words, causing Ted to stare at them in amusement. This party was getting more interesting by the minute. Now if only he had a drink. But he didn't want to miss any of the drama by going off to get one. He wondered if this Niko guy would lend him one of the slaves to run over to the bar for him.
Niko rocked back on his heels, his arms folded across his broad chest, looking at Dee with smug satisfaction. "You hear that? I'm no 'wannabe' -- I'm the real deal. And I think you owe me an apology."
"You know what, asshole? I think I owe you a black eye." Dee started forward, but both Ted and James sprang upon him and held him back.
"Dee, dude!" said Ted urgently. "Don't clobber him in here, for Christ's sake."
"If Diana catches you, we're all dead men!" added James.
"Slaves," said Niko, pointing at Dee with a malicious gleam in his eye, "Tickle him!" He let go of their leashes.
"Niko, really!" groaned Serena in embarrassment.
The slaves giggled and started forward, knowing Dee to be securely held by his two friends, but when he turned his blazing and enraged gaze onto them, they faltered, looking fearful.
"Obey!" roared Niko.
They jumped nervously, and emitted little squeals of terror mixed with excitement and started cautiously forward again.
"Slaves!" Dee's voice rang out, surprising everyone. "On your knees - now!" He jerked his head in the direction of the floor, since both his arms were being restrained by James and Ted.
The two slaves instinctively dropped to the floor before him, their heads bowed. Serena nodded approvingly.
Niko's face darkened in anger, and he opened his mouth to speak. Whatever he would have said was drowned out by an infuriated-sounding screech from the doorway.
James flinched and cowered behind Ted. Almost every person in the room had turned toward the door.
A short Asian girl stood there, her black eyes snapping. She wore a vintage-style Chinese dress of scarlet silk patterned with dragons. Three onyx buttons went from the little high-necked collar to her shoulder. Long black gloves snaked up her arms while her tiny feet teetered on red high heels. Her dress was slit practically to the hip. She was the quintessential dragon lady, and a collective sigh went up at the sight of her.
This spontaneous approbation seemed to confuse her. She had clearly arrived ready to do battle, not to be gazed at with admiration. She scanned the crowd, a scowl on her pretty face, looking for the person whose name she had called.
"Jems!" she shouted again.
"Yes, dear!" James handed his drink to Ted and scurried over to her.
"Big jerk!" she snapped, whacking him painfully with her fan. "What you do, you go party without me! Girlfriend mean what?" Then she continued the harangue in Mandarin.
James hung his head and apologized profusely, while Dee and Ted snickered, Niko temporarily forgotten.
"Ten bucks says she drags him out of here in less than three minutes," said Ted to Dee.
"Okay, you're on, 'cause I think it's gonna be longer. She's got a lot of bottled up pussy-whipping to do."
One of Niko's slaves emitted a little moan of excitement and peeped up hopefully at Dee, who didn't even notice because he was alternately glancing between the couple at the door and the watch on Serena's helpfully held-out wrist.
"Ahem!" said Niko meaningfully.
"Not now big guy, we've got a bet going," said Ted, without looking at him.
Niko settled for ordering his slaves back upright and scolding them for obeying a man who was not their master. They hung their heads and sniveled. One of them started to look a little green and finally stood on tiptoe to whisper anxiously in Niko's ear.
Whatever the request was, Niko denied it. "I'm very displeased with you, Rowan. You can just wait while your master considers your request."
While Todd was making a couple of Long Island ice teas to strict specifications, Diana was strolling around lighting candles. Boris walked stiffly up to her and asked if he could help her, so she graciously allowed him to carry her tray of assorted jack-o-lantern-shaped candles, while she selected appropriate nooks and crannies to place them in. Before long, her travels took her back over to the palanquin where Pamela and Gwen lolled languidly together, sipping Cristal. The bearers had all pulled up chairs and were joking and flirting with them.
"Got enough ice for the bubbly, there?" Diana inquired in friendly tones, taking note of the fact that several champagne glasses were resting on the floor for lack of a coffee or end table.
Berkeley was conspicuously absent, but she wasn't going to ask them where he was, no sirree. Besides, she didn't have to. The young man who had earlier seemed rather pensive now sat slightly apart from the others, gazing dolefully at the roomful of gaily-costumed people. Diana followed his line of sight and saw Berk over by the coat check, holding a cigar that Niko had no doubt given him. Uh-oh, that was a little too close to Ryo for comfort. When she had offered Dee that little room next to the coat check as a place to play with Ryo, her motivation hadn't been entirely noble and selfless. The moment she had realized that Berkie would be coming to her party after all, Ryo had transformed from a flirt-buddy into a liability.
Her attention was called back to the revelers at the palanquin by one of the bearers who was tugging on her quiver of arrows.
"Hm?" she said. "What was that, sweetie?"
"I said, we need you to settle a dispute. I'm taking Tango lessons and my teacher says that you dip your partner like this.... "May I?" He held out his hands to her.
"Why sure! But if you drop me, I'll cry."
Boris glowered as the muscular young man took Diana in his arms and danced a couple of quick steps with her before dipping her gracefully so low that her hair practically swept the floor.
She giggled and patted his hard chest as he set her back on her feet. "That was marvelous! So what's the dispute?"
Pamela unwound herself from Gwen and stood upright with a slight pout. "Trevor, I TOLD you, you're doing it wrong!"
"See?" said Trevor plaintively to Diana. "She says I oughta take your leg - like this - as I dip you..."
Pamela rolled her eyes and made an impatient sound. "No, not like that. Here, let go of her. I'll show you."
Diana found herself being practically shoved to one side so that Pamela could take her place. For a moment she was indignant, but then she just smiled. Who cared? They weren't her friends, anyway. Besides, she was on a mission. Make that several missions.
"Boris, honey," she said. "You're being so helpful tonight! I don't know what I'd do without you. Now could you fetch me that little coffee table over there? These poor people have to set their champagne glasses on the floor, and that just won't do, will it?"
Boris agreed and hastened off to do her bidding, after first putting down the tray of candles. While he was gone, Diana took a quick look around the room to make sure everyone was behaving themselves. She saw James over at the door being dragged away by a thoroughly bad-tempered young woman in a pretty Chinese dress. At the same time, one of Niko's two slaves sprinted across the room in the direction of the restrooms, while Niko stared after him - or was it her? - with his mouth open. That Niko was such a bore. She wouldn't have even invited him if he hadn't offered to pay for most of the cost of this room rental in exchange for being introduced to Berkie. She sighed. People were always sucking up to Berkeley, and it wasn't doing his overblown ego a bit of good.
At the coat check, Commissioner Rose looked in vain for an employee. He wanted to go down into the courtyard to smoke the very fine cigar he had been given, but he was damned if he was going to go out into the cold weather wearing only a toga, even if they did have heaters out there. He wasn't sure whether they actually did or not, as he and his party had arrived at the 50th Street entrance, and the courtyard was on Madison Avenue. He hadn't been to the Palace for some weeks, and the weather had certainly changed. He had brought a glorious red, Caesar-ish cape that he had sent one of the boys to check earlier, and he needed it now.
"There's the Commissioner!" he heard a familiar voice say. "Let's ask him."
"Good evening, gentlemen," he said, turning to see two of Ryo's co-workers from the 27th, Detectives Parker and Adams. He gave them a short nod, aware that his expression might be a tad supercilious, but not giving a damn. Although it had the desired effect on Parker, it didn't daunt Adams. Practically nothing could. The young man had his own special armor, which seemed to have been forged from a determined obliviousness to all but his own interests. Oddly enough, the Commissioner mused, this quality usually served Adams quite well as a detective.
"Hallo sir, we're looking for Ryo. Have you seen him?"
"I'm afraid not. There was rather an interesting 'foot-licking' incident that he was involved in earlier, but since then, he seems to have disappeared."
"Foot-licking? Ryo?" JJ looked incredulous. "Oh....I get it, sir. Ha ha, very funny." He had, of course, missed the aftermath of his punch-sloshing attack on Ryo.
"Well, you can ask him yourself when you see him." The Commissioner sounded bored. He sipped his champagne and gave them both another nod, which they took as a dismissal.
"Come on, JJ, let's go ask Dee. I bet he knows where Ryo is." Drake glared in the direction of Dee and Ted, who were standing a little further along the same wall that the coat check was on. A hairy guy in black leather seemed to be arguing with Dee about a whip that Serena was holding, and Ted - that bastard - actually had his arm around Serena! He wanted to stomp over there and put a stop to that immediately. But JJ seemed to have other ideas.
"No, Drake! Diana's the one to ask. She's the hostess after all. She probably found a place to stash Ryo." He took hold of Drake's arm and started pulling him in the opposite direction.
"No kidding, Dee? You know how to use a whip?" Ted stared at him, impressed.
"Yeah, dude. But I don't boast about it, unlike SOME people." He shot Niko a look of dislike.
"Smart man. A talent like that could sure scare off the ladies, couldn't it?"
"Depends on the lady."
"Niko, really," Serena was saying. "I think you ought to put the whip away. This is a Halloween party, not a BSDM party, and there are a lot of people in this room who won't understand if whips start cracking."
"Serena, you're worrying for nothing. No one's going to get hurt," he replied dismissively. "You say that this...person... learned all about whip handling from you, the same as I did, and I just want to see if he's any good, that's all."
"Sheesh," Dee said to Ted, jerking a thumb in Niko's direction. "Insecure much, this guy?"
Ryo peeked around the edge of the curtain to see if Diana was on her way back. He held his damp, sticky jeans in one hand, and now that he had gone so far as to actually take them off, he was impatient to get the cleaning process started, at least.
To his relief, he saw Todd, the bartender from earlier, approaching his alcove with a tray of drinks. Diana had said Todd would be the one to take the jeans downstairs.
Ryo's attention was caught by several excited shrieks coming from the direction of the fancy palanquin that Commissioner Rose had arrived in. Those half-naked guys who had carried the Commissioner into the room seemed to be practicing dance steps with the two girls, who were giggling madly. In fact, everyone over there seemed to be rather tipsy. Ryo thought that one of the girls looked a lot like Pamela from the 51st Precinct in the Bronx. The members of Lieutenant Smith's CI Division had gotten to know the 51st's front desk staff quite well when an explosion had forced them to temporarily take up residence at the Bronx 51st, the only precinct that had had space for them at that time.
Pamela, all flushed and giggling, was in the arms of an equally giddy and very well-built young man. As Ryo watched, he dipped her, tango-style, until her hair swung over the little table that held their drinks. Drinks and candles. Uh-oh. He opened his mouth to shout a warning, but he was too late. Pamela's long dark hair was actually on fire!
She realized it almost as soon as he did and began screaming and batting at her hair. Ryo was appalled to see that no one did anything. Her companions stared her in a strange, slack-mouthed kind of shock and the other guests standing nearby all seemed to be frozen like deer in the headlights. He couldn't believe it. Someone had to take action NOW, before she was seriously hurt.
Ryo thrust the curtain aside and ran for the palanquin, his jeans still in his hand.
end of Chapter 12
More in a week! Thanks for reading.