The dorm beds were comfortable, inviting, the pillows white and soft. Waking, Hiro savoured the blissful sensation of clean sheets, a cocoon of warmth. But the feeling of something missing intruded on him. He opened his eyes to see that Rika had sat up beside him and was gazing at the window of their room. Hiro shaded his eyes with his arm, then, after a moment, pushed at Rika with his leg.

"I told you to stay out of my bed, jerk."

"Gil wants you to join the Salon."

Hiro pushed himself up on one elbow. "What?" Anji's words wormed around in his mind. Hiro found himself staring at Rika, angrily. Angry because he felt betrayed; and his sense of betrayal told him that despite everything that had happened at this school, he had begun to think of Rika as a friend, which was stupid and dangerous.

"I told him that you weren't interested in playing Q." Rika's voice was often a little detached, but it never sounded unsure.

"That just makes me your job, doesn't it?" said Hiro, sitting up fully. "Aren't you the one who's supposed to make all the guys want to?" He looked at Rika's cornflower blue eyes; the fall of Rika's hair, half obscuring his face.

"You said you'd never do something like that."

Hiro closed his eyes, opened them.

"If I joined the Salon, would it stop?"

"Would what stop?"


Rika shrugged.

"Then make me want to," said Hiro. Rika wore simple white cotton pyjamas; the first two of his buttons were undone and the pyjama top was sliding off one smooth shoulder. Hiro reached out. Rika closed his eyes and parted his lips, and Hiro's own breath hitched.

Then glittering blue reappeared under Rika's heavy lashes and Rika twisted away, leaving the bed.

His back to Hiro. "I'm not--"

"Sure you are," said Hiro, bluntly. "You let every other guy in the school fuck you."

"Let!" Rika turned to face him, really angry now, the clean line of his jaw set. Despite the grace of his features, he looked powerful when he was angry. But he was almost never angry, or if he was, he never let it show. Hiro scrambled up from the bed.

"Hey." Hiro was reaching out again, but the word was coloured more with anger than comfort.

Rika shoved his hand back.

"Relax, will you? I don't even want to join the Salon," said Hiro. "I came to this school to find out what happened to Tetsu. There's no way he'd join a messed-up organization like that."

<<= index =>>