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28 December 2005 @ 08:31 pm
Power and Control- Chapter 9 part 2  

Sakaki was bored out of his mind.  He knew nothing about computers, firewalls, motherboards, or gigabits.  He knew how to turn them on, how to move around in certain programs, and how to navigate the Internet, but after that he was at a loss.  Watching Michael work always boggled his mind.  He could produce any piece of information you needed in a flurry of keystrokes.  Not to say that Sakaki was stupid, but his mind wasn’t built like a computer, not like Michael’s was.  The redhead could process information so quickly that watching him work made Sakaki dizzy.  But, he liked to watch Michael much more than what Michael was doing.  That made it very difficult to keep up the façade, especially when Michael would wear those wide-neck shirts he fancied so much.  The ones that showed off just enough collarbone and shoulder to make Sakaki want to suck on the back of his neck, right where they met. 


            Sakaki glanced back to Amon and Michael.  The two were engrossed in some kind of hacking program that would run numbers and words to try and get past Zaizen’s system password.  Sakaki wished he had paid more attention when Michael talked about computers; none of this made sense to him.  They had been at it for hours- well, Amon and Michael had been, and they were no closer to gaining access than they had been when they first started.  Sakaki had tried to occupy himself with his handheld poker game, but that only got him through the first hour.  After that, he stared up at the ceiling tiles until he dozed off.      


            “Damn it!” Michael yelled as he shoved the keyboard violently away from him, not caring that it knocked over the piles of discs that were already stacked precariously to begin with.  They fell to the floor with a loud crash.  Sakaki bolted upright in his seat.


            “What?  What’s wrong?” he asked.


            Michael held his head in his hands, pressing the heels of his palms into his temples, shaking his head from side to side.  “I can’t get in,” he said simply.  “I have no clue what kind of firewall protection he has but it’s good, really good.  I haven’t even made it past the first layer yet and the shit he’s got on his hard drive is going to have more than one level of protection,” he said with a frustrated sigh.


            “I didn’t expect it to be this difficult,” Amon admitted.  His arms were crossed tightly over his chest, indicating just how unhappy he was at the progress they were making.  “We have to keep at it.  There is a way in; we just haven’t found it yet.”


            “Maybe we should take a break for a while.  I could get us dinner,” Sakaki offered.  He looked to his lover and then to Amon.  The somber man was watching Michael intently, and when the hacker did not respond he answered for him.


            “Yes, Sakaki, that would be a good idea.  It looks like we could all use a break,” he said as he slowly turned his gaze away from Michael.  Sakaki gave a slight nod in acknowledgement and Amon’s gaze went back to the hacker.  Sakaki could tell that Amon was sensing something, and as if on cue, Michael pushed his chair away from his desk roughly and stomped off in the direction of the bathroom with a half muttered, I’ll be right back.  As soon as he was out of sight, the dark haired man spoke.


            “What’s the matter with him?  He seems very agitated.”


            “Well, wouldn’t you be?” Sakaki shot back.  “I’m having enough trouble dealing with what happened last night.  I can only imagine what’s going on inside his head.”


            “I think there is more to it then that.  Did he say anything to you before or did something happen this morning?  The way you were hugging when I got here was a little more than a lover’s embrace.  He was clinging to you like-“


            “Jesus, Amon! What, do you want the details of our sex life too?” Sakaki interrupted loudly.  “Once you get into Zaizen’s hard drive you can see that for yourself.  He’s upset.  He’s been dealing with this shit for three years, cut him some frigging slack.”  Sakaki watched the expression on Amon’s face solidify into granite.  You idiot!  You forget that Amon has been dealing with this for much longer.  “Look, Amon I’m sorry.  I forgot that you-“


            “It doesn’t matter,” Amon stated brusquely.  Sakaki slumped in his chair and then gave a resigned sigh. 


            “I think I know what you were getting at,” the blonde started dejectedly.  “Michael was upset when we woke up this morning.  He didn’t like the idea of me being with him so soon after him…being with Zaizen.  He had some sort of attack right before you arrived…zoned out for a few minutes.  When I noticed, I called out to him, but he didn’t hear me.  When he finally snapped out of it he was breathing heavily and shaking.  He wouldn’t tell me what set him off, but I think I have a pretty good idea.”


            Amon snorted dryly.  “Sounds like it was a panic attack of some type.  He’s probably had them before; you just weren’t there to witness them.”  Sakaki narrowed his eyes at the other man.  “Relax, that wasn’t a dig.  You said it yourself: knowing it was happening and seeing it first-hand are two completely different things.”


            “Knowing I’m on the menu isn’t helping things either,” Sakaki said sarcastically and then looked up sharply as Michael re-entered the room.  He rose from his chair and walked over to the redhead.  “Hey, what’s wrong?” he whispered. 


            “Nothing, I’m just angry and frustrated,” Michael responded as he glanced over Sakaki’s shoulder to look at Amon.  Sakaki reached out and cupped the back of Michael’s head and pulled him towards his chest, not caring that Amon was there to watch the whole exchange. 


            “It’s okay, I know,” Sakaki said softly as Michael’s arms went around his waist.  “It’s just going to take a little longer than we expected.  Don’t give up, okay?”  He pushed the hacker away so that he could see his face.  Michael nodded dolefully without looking him in the eye.  “Well, I’m going to get us something to eat.  Do you want the usual?”  Michael’s head came up at the suggestion and there was almost a smile as he shook his head yes.  “Good.  I’ll be back in a little bit,” Sakaki said as he placed a kiss on the top of Michael’s head and then went to grab his jacket and helmet. 


The hacker stayed where he was, watching his lover until Sakaki was out of sight before moving over to his chair.  Amon watched the boy sit down carefully with his jaw clenched against the pain.


“You’re being too hard on yourself,” the dark-haired man stated.  Michael gave him a sidelong look from the corner of his eye and then pulled the keyboard towards him and began typing.  “You want to protect him from everything,” Amon continued, “But you’re closing him out.  He’s scared, really scared, but he’s trying hard not to show it because he’s trying to comfort you at the same time.”  Michael stopped typing.


“He can’t touch him, Amon.  I can’t let that monster do to him what he’s done to me….or you,” Michael said without turning to face Amon. 


“I don’t want that to happen any more than you do.”  Amon paused and watched the redhead.  His hazel eyes noted the tense shoulders and way he was gritting his teeth clearly showed his discomfort.  “Sakaki said you had a panic attack before.  How long has that been happening?”  That question got a reaction out of the boy.  Michael’s eyes widened in surprise momentarily before he quickly tried to cover it. 


“Since Haruto and I started…seeing each other,” he answered still looking down at his hands, embarrassed. 


“Not before?” This surprised Amon.   If Michael was traumatized enough to have panic attacks, why didn’t they manifest from the beginning? 


“No….well, maybe.  The ones I have now are much worse.  In the beginning it was nightmares, but after Haruto found out, I was frightened that Zaizen would know and do something to him.  But then nothing happened and I kept waiting for the hatchet to fall, so to speak.  I agonized over it all the time.  I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.”  A wistful smile touched Michael’s face and he turned to look at the somber man seated beside him.  “I let myself believe that I could be happy again.  Even after all the shit Zaizen put me through, someone wanted to be with me.  You know what it’s like, Amon, to feel so dirty and used that you think no one would ever want to be in the same room with you if they knew.”  Amon slowly nodded his head in agreement.  “That’s why when Haruto came into my life; I grabbed hold with both hands and held on as tightly as I could.  This was someone who knew what was happening and still wanted to know me.” Michael thumped his hand on his chest to emphasize his point.  Amon looked down at his hands this time.  


“I’ve never had anything like that, like what you have.  I…must admit that it is something I long for, but know I can never have,” Amon confessed sadly.  Michael had to bite his tongue to keep from gasping at what the normally stoic man just said.  Amon had just spoken about himself.  He had just let someone else know what he was feeling. The teen was at a loss as to what he should do or say.  He was tempted to go look out the window to make sure it wasn’t raining frogs.


What would Haruto do if it were me? Michael asked himself.  The answer suddenly became crystal-clear. He stood up and bent down to pull Amon into an awkward hug.  The dark-haired man stiffened and tried to push the smaller boy away.


“Michael?  What are you doing?” Amon’s voice was panicked. 


“It’s a hug, Amon, its okay,” Michael whispered softly, soothingly as though he was calming a frightened animal.  After a few moments, the tall man relented and relaxed into the embrace. 


It had been so long since anyone had touched him without any malicious intent, that Amon almost didn’t recognize the loving gesture.  Michael understood him.  That was the reason he used to justify why he felt like crying into the boy’s shoulder.  This was another person who had been victimized by the same contemptible man, who could relate to the shame and the degradation he felt day in and day out.  He stubbornly refused to let the tears that were brimming fall at the utter relief he felt just by being in contact with someone who was not trying to hurt him, but one managed to break free and slide down his pale cheek.  He wanted to say something to Michael in thanks or at least appreciation, but his breath hitched when he tired to speak.  The sound of the antique elevator saved Amon from having to voice what he was feeling.  The redhead pulled back but clasped Amon’s hands in his own.


“We can’t let this happen to Haruto, we can’t let him become like us,” Michael said seriously.  Amon nodded in agreement and the teen sank back into his chair just as Sakaki rounded the corner.


“Hey guys, anything good happen while I was away?” Sakaki said cheerfully as he hung up his jacket.


“No, still no luck,” Michael answered wearily.    


“Well, let’s eat.  You might think better on a full stomach.”  Sakaki handed the fast food bag over to Michael and sat back down in his chair.  Amon rolled his eyes.


“After eating this junk, we’ll be lucky to be able to think at all,” the tall man said grimly as he was handed a greasy hamburger in a garish yellow paper wrapper. 


“Naw, this is brain food,” Michael said as he took a huge bite of his burger. 


The meal continued in relative silence as the three men stuffed their faces with the fast-food offerings.  As soon as he was finished, Michael immediately went back to the program he was working on with Amon.  Sakaki sighed and resorted to his handheld game once again.  The next two hours passed at an excruciatingly slow pace and before he knew it, it was almost nine o’clock.


“You should probably go home, Sakaki,” Amon said as he swiveled his chair around.  The blonde leaned forward to rest his forearms on his knees in defeat.  He knew there was the chance of Zaizen stopping in for a little going away treat before he left on his business trip.


“Yeah, I guess you’re right.  I shouldn’t be here in case…” he drifted off, not wanting to say out loud what they were all thinking.  He stood up and stretched.  His muscles were stiff from spending the better part of the day in a chair. 


“I’ll walk you out,” Michael said as he stood and followed his lover into the narrow hall.  After pressing the button for the elevator, Sakaki pulled Michael towards him and closed his mouth over his.  Michael returned the kiss hungrily, pressing his hips into Sakaki.


“I’ve wanted to do that all day,” Sakaki whispered when they finally parted. 


“Me too,” Michael replied as the elevator chimed and the doors opened.  Sakaki placed his foot on the track so that the doors would not be able to close and pulled the hacker into another tight embrace.


“You know that I love you, right?” he said softly into Michael’s hair.


“Of course, and I love you,” Michael answered, his voice slightly muffled against Sakaki’s chest.  The two pulled apart and Michael reached up to place another kiss on Sakaki’s lips.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”  Sakaki nodded and stepped into the elevator and Michael waited until the doors closed before he walked back into the office.  He felt the familiar ache in his chest at Sakaki’s leaving, but he knew it was safer this way.


“Amon, you should probably head home as well.  I doubt I’m going to make any progress tonight,” the hacker said as he walked back to his desk.  Amon stood up from his chair and gathered his jacket.


“Alright, I’ll come in a few hours before the hunt tomorrow.  Perhaps we can-“  Amon stopped speaking abruptly as the sound of the elevator motor kicked on.  Michael groaned.


“What did he forget this time?”  Michael turned around and began to head back towards the hall.  “I swear he would forget his head if it wasn’t attached,” he muttered.  “What did you forget now…” the hacker called out but the words faded away as Michael watched a very pale and shaken Sakaki round the corner followed ominously by Takuma Zaizen himself.  The old man had his hand clasped around Sakaki’s bicep in what looked like a painful grip.    


“Hello Michael,” the old man greeted.  “It’s so wonderful that we can all be here together again, isn’t it?”  The redhead stared at the director, unable to speak, unable to move.  The gray-haired man’s lips curled into a dangerous smile as he watched the boy begin to tremble.  Movement near the circle of desks caused him to look up and his eyes widened at what he beheld.  “Amon?  Well, well, this certainly is a surprise.  The prodigal son has returned.  The night just became a hell of a lot more interesting.”