The last thing Lee saw when he stepped out of the shower was a gun in a fist coming for his face. An explosion of pain pierced his senses followed by the sound of crunching bone.
He staggered back, blind as his eyes welled up. He choked on the blood from his broken nose. Tackled to the cold tile floor, Lee’s right arm was pinned under his attacker’s knee. He struggled violently, desperate to throw the man off balance.
Fending off a jab to his damaged face, Lee struck out again and again, but his defensive blows lacked the stopping power.
The attacker’s punches came hard and fast.
WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!
A red haze of pain took hold, and Lee’s world faded to black.
A boy again, he drifted back to his father’s boat. Crouched under the sail, he hugged his scabbed knees and watched his older brother boldly teeter on the edge of the deck. The great white’s massive head came above water and snorted the sea at them.
He hated his father’s fishing trips, and he hated his big brother too.
Lee woke with pain in his nose strong enough to make him wail.
Where am I? It was dark and murky except for a dim line of light just beyond his nose. Fuck, I hurt! He heard the familiar rumble of an engine before the world began moving. I’m in the trunk of a car? Lee searched for a clue to his surroundings, but the throbbing pain in his head blunted his senses.
Can I move? Flexing against the bonds, he felt his legs doubled back at the knees. His ankles were tied tight and anchored by a rope bound to his wrists at the small of his back.
Rain beat upon the roof of his prison and a sudden lurch vaulted his body, forcing his head into the hard floor. Tires kicked up rocks and battered the floor beneath his ears. The car was no longer on a paved road. Each bump brought more pain. Chin down, he crossed his eyes to get a view of his nose; it was too dark to tell if it was broken. My perfect nose is fucked. Not a primary concern at this point, but he wasn’t dead yet.
Heavy rain drummed down, taking him back to the rainy seasons of his childhood. Those downpours had been so loud, they drowned out the wind chimes outside his mother’s window.
The car slowed to a standstill. Shithe’d been busy thinking of the past when he should’ve been paying attention.The engine idled off, and the vehicle shifted when the car door opened, and the driver exited.
Footsteps became louder than the tapping of the rain. A light jingle and the metallic scrape of a key in the lock.
Lee looked up when the trunk opened, but the sudden light assaulted his senses. Warm, damp rain baptized his wounds and soaked his hair as two hands yanked him from the trunk. Lee was oversized luggage now, naked and hog-tied, his black hair in strings around his broken face. Tossed like a sack of garbage onto a pile of mud, his body hit the bloated soil and made a disgusting splat.
Mud coated boots appeared before him, crowned by dark wet denim. Through his wet tangled hair, he saw his assailant.
“Brandon!” Lee screamed. “What the hell is going on?”
“Shut up,” said Kugashira.
“Dammit, Brandon, answer me!” Lee yelled.
Kugashira kicked him hard in the stomach and retching in pain, Lee struggled to keep his face from sinking into the mud.
“Aniki ain’t here,” his tobacco scarred voice cut through the rain. “I got the call!”
“You’re making a mistake,” Lee hollered. “Harry meets with Randy this afternoon-”
“—Shut up!” he delivered a kick to Lee's solar plexus.
Dragged across the mud by his hair, Lee was powerless to stop Kugashira from pulling him to his knees in front of a freshly dug hole. Lee stared at the melting muddy fissure and saw the shovel jammed into wet earth beside it.
“You dug my grave,” Lee whispered.
Kugashira shook the water from his rain-drenched hair and then removed his sunglasses, “You took a scratch for the boss last night, so I thought you deserved more than just a hole in the head,”
Harry hasn’t talked to Randy about last night, so there’s no cover story in place for my involvement with Lightening. Randy made a call to Bear, who in turn called Brandon. Kugashira took the call, not Brandon!
“Listen to me, Kugashira!” Lee lifted his head and faced the pelting rain. “This is a mistake-”
“—you betrayed!” the muzzle of his gun came down upon Lee’s head.
“Brandon knows about me, dammit!” Lee cried. “He knows what’s going on!”
“Shut it!” Kugashira shook the water from his hair and grimaced, “You shut it, or I knock you out cold and do you like that. You hear me?”
Lee’s eyes locked on his. Through the downpour their chests rose and fell in a matching dance of tension. His gun was so close now that it blurred out of focus. Kugashira just stood there, prepared to kill him.
He’s hesitating, but he dug a hole in the ground.
The rain fell harder, but Kugashira didn’t pull the trigger.
His novice sentiment comes from a life spent alone. A lone wolf introduced to solidarity, how could he just abandon it?
Lee's eyes fell to Kugashira's crotch. No, this is something else.
Lee craned his neck and closed the distance between his face and the gun. He leaned into the barrel but kept his eyes on Kugashira.
“Do me right here,” Lee begged. “Only you can do what other men can’t. You’re the only man that can punish me for breaking the iron law.”
Lee nuzzled the barrel as if it were a lover.
“Do me here, Kugashira,” he took the shaking barrel into his mouth, closed his eyes and waited.
Rain stung Lee's face as the barrel slipped from his mouth. Strong hands took hold of his shoulder and twisted him around. Face slammed into the mud, he felt the rope tethering his wrists to his ankles cut free.
“You fuck!” Kugashira growled. “You think you can buy time by playing with my head!”
Lee endeavored to break free, but with his hands and feet remained bound and Kugashira was too strong. Browning jammed into his back pocket, Kugashira anchored Lee’s head to the mud with his palm, “You can con the rest of the fucking world, Lee, but not me!” His arm circled Lee’s waist and yanked him up.
“Damn you, Kugashira!” Lee struggled against being bent in half. “You’re making a mistake!”
“You betrayed!” Kugashira screamed, pulling at the snap on his jeans.
“You bastard!” Lee sobbed. “You’re making a mistake! Mud entered his mouth and chafed his teeth. “Don’t do me like this, please!” Lee began hiccupping Bunji’s name.
“FUCK!” Kugashira screamed and pushed himself away from Lee.
Lee skidded on his belly across the mud until his upper body teetered over the edge of the hole. Under his weight, the slick precipice gave way, dropping him into the grave.
“You’re fucking with my head!” Bunji squatted with head in hand and hard-on tucked behind his zipper.
Bunji took the call, he had to see it through. That’s what it meant to belong. No one betrays. Yanking the gun from his back pocket he walked toward the grave he’d dug in the ground.
Dark brown mud covered smooth white skin. Bunji knew going in that this job was going to be messy; after their encounter with Blood War last night, Bunji’s longing for Lee had festered into something impure.
Lee gazed up at him now; five feet down with a busted nose, lip split, and filthy mud smeared all over his naked body. He was the loveliest man Bunji ever saw. He stared silently without a hint of emotion. Elegant and ready to die.
Bunji took aim and saw the corner of Lee’s mouth curl into a smile.
Another mind fuck Bunji chose to ignore.
He pulled the trigger as Brandon’s hand came down gently on his arm. The expelled bullet hit wet soil and somewhere in the rain Harry’s voice screamed Lee’s name, desperate, erratic and enraged.
“Don’t do this, Bunji,” Brandon’s steely eyes hypnotized him, and his voice carried no malice. “There’s no betrayal, there’s been a mistake.”