The Definitive Moment

Robert Fischer didn’t know where this was going to end, but he knew where it started, all of it, more of this mess than he even knew about. A poorly-lit banquet hall, the heady rush of too much champagne, and the thrum of the string quartet. He had known of Saito even then, but he didn’t know who he was, or what he was getting into when he pulled him into that dark corner near the bar. But it was too late for any of that now.

Saito’s office door made a dry, hollow click as his secretary closed it behind Robert. It was a sound that was cold and businesslike, Robert thought. He wondered if Saito had opened and closed every door in Tokyo before he found one that could disarm a man as soon as he entered the room. The office, too, was designed to throw its guests off balance, unexpectedly sterile and lifeless for a man of Saito’s passion and intensity. Even Robert’s father had kept a few touches of himself about his office, a photo of Robert’s mother, a worn copy of The Once and Future King sandwiched between business journals and thick textbooks, but Saito’s office gave away nothing but his own ruthless precision.

“Mr. Fischer.” Saito’s feet were propped up on his sleek, polished desk. In his hands was the copy of Forbes with Robert’s picture on the cover, when he’d dissolved Fischer-Morrow last year. “Always a pleasure.”

“Cut the crap, Saito,” Robert said. His eyes were like chips of ice, his biggest weakness. It was impossible to bluff with eyes like that, impossible to do business with your heart on your sleeve, especially when you didn’t realize you were doing it. His heels made heavy clicks on the tile as he strode to the plush chair in front of Saito’s desk, lowering himself into it like it was going to bite him. “You know why I’m here,” he said, scowling. “You win.”

“I win what, Mr. Fischer? Please enlighten me.” Saito swung his feet to the floor and leaned forward, hands clasped together, elbows on the desk, infuriatingly smug expression on his face. “Don’t tell me you know something about this game of solitaire I was just playing, I am certain I lost it several moves ago.”

“Fuck you,” Robert said, and then, “I need your help.”

“A funny way to ask for it,” Saito scoffed, but there was a playful grin starting at the corners of his mouth. “I seem to recall offering my assistance to you when your father was dying, Mr. Fischer, and you threw a glass of scotch in my face. Why should I help you now?”

Robert clenched his fists, nails digging hard into his palms. “If I don’t do something soon, I’ll be ruined,” he said. “I’m in over my head.”

“I still don’t see the incentive for me,” Saito murmured, and god, Robert wanted to punch him in the jaw, hear the crack of his teeth clanging together, see the blood drip from the corner of his mouth and watch him wipe it away on the back of his hand, smearing it red and wet up his cheek.

“Please,” Robert said instead.

Saito stood, made his way around his desk to the chair Robert was sitting in. Robert wanted to spring up, to keep them at eye level, but something kept him from moving. Saito reached out and ran his thumb across Robert’s soft, full lips, and Robert was back in that night, the one that started it all, more than he knew. Saito had stroked a thumb across his lips as they whispered together in that dark corner by the bar, just like this, and Robert had never wanted anything like he wanted Saito then.

“You know my terms,” Saito said, and for the briefest of moments Robert could see the smolder of lust in his dark eyes. “Are you ready to take that final step, Robert?”

Robert swallowed hard, and nodded.

“If looks could kill,” Saito chuckled. He tilted Robert’s chin up and looked into his bright eyes. “You hate me so much, and yet it was you who put the idea in my head to begin with, never forget that.”

These things are boring as hell, how about we get out of here? A hotel suite and strangled cries in the dark, soft sheets clenched between his fingers. Yes, Robert remembered. “What do you want me to do?” he asked, his voice gone hoarse, to his surprise.

Saito smirked and walked back to his desk, opening the top drawer as he sat down. He pulled out a thick brown envelope and tossed it to Robert, who managed to catch it despite his obvious bewilderment. “I want you to follow these instructions precisely,” he said, “And to trust my judgement, if you can.”

He had, Robert thought bitterly, little other choice. The envelope felt heavy in his hands. He looked at Saito suspiciously. “What else?” he asked.

“Nothing, for now.” Saito leaned back in his chair. “I will take what is my due at my leisure. You, Mr. Fischer, have much else to do in the meantime.”

It was clear that the conversation was over, for whatever reason, equally clear that Robert half expected Saito to tear his clothes off and fuck him on his polished mahogany desk. Too inelegant, Robert Fischer. He stood, slowly, clutching the envelope Saito had given him hard enough to leave heavy creases in the thick brown paper. “Thank you,” he said, hesitant, never taking his eyes off Saito. Saito only nodded, and his face was all boredom and disinterest, giving away nothing.

Robert looked back once, door half open, his hand still on the knob, and there was a question in his eyes that Saito refused to answer. He lingered there for a moment too long, and then he was gone, and the door shut behind him with a dry click.

Saito kicked up his feet and put his hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling. It had been six years now since he’d first heard Robert’s pleading, lustful moans, since he’d seen his tear-filled eyes and the way his skin flushed up from his shoulders to the back of his neck. It was at that moment that Saito had known what had to be done, had seen all the steps to the choreography he’d been following all along. Robert Fischer’s face that night had been seared into his memory with dark obsession, indelible, and impossible to replicate. Soon, he would know everything for certain.

Saito laughed.

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