Catch the Thunder

BY : Rhov
Category: +. to F > Fairy Tail
Dragon prints: 14118
Disclaimer: Fairy Tail is the property of Hiro Mashima. I make no money, I just do this for my own pleasure.

Chapter 50

Storm From the Shelter

All through his drive from the shelter, Freed kept repeating to himself that he should not feel angry. Kagura meant well. She saw cases of horrific abuse every day. Of course she would fear he was facing the same issue. Her job was to not turn a blind eye, to reach out and help those in need. Society needed people like that.

Society also needed to realize that sometimes this was a desired arrangement, carefully sculpted out, limits set, barriers to protect oneself physically, mentally, and emotionally, and it could be done with affection.

The ride home was quiet except for the flute music playing over the speakers. Laxus had seen a strange look on Freed as soon as he stepped out of the office, but he did not know what it meant. Freed normally followed a step behind Laxus or right by his side. He rarely rushed ahead. He normally asked every five minutes, to the point of annoyance, if Laxus was feeling sick and needed to pull over. This time, his jaw twitched with how tightly he clenched his teeth.

"Freed?" he finally asked.

His fingers tightened on the wheel. "I'm driving."

"I can see that," he muttered.

Laxus tried to look out the window and ignore the tension, but that made him ill.

"Freed?"

"Not now!"

He frowned and looked away. Freed never snapped at him. Ever! At least, not like that, not with anger inflected in his voice. After a few minutes of this silence, Laxus finally asked, "Can you pull over?"

Freed jolted in concern. "Are you feeling sick?"

"Yeah, something like that," he grumbled.

"Uh, okay … um … here!" He eased the Corvette into an empty spot along the busy boulevard. "It's metered parking, but so long as we keep the car running it should be okay. Do you need anything?"

Now stopped, Laxus lashed out. "What I need is for you to tell me what the hell is going on?"

Freed froze in confusion. "What?"

"What is wrong with you?"

"What do you mean?" Freed cried out. "I'm worried about your carsickness."

"I mean how you're acting." His eyes softened and his voice lowered. "Did something happen? Something at that shelter?"

Freed flinched and pulled back. He looked down at the steering wheel with a scowl.

"Is it from seeing all those kids?" asked Laxus. "I mean, I know it's hard to see that—"

"No! I … I mean, yes, it is hard. To think anyone would do that to a kid!" He shook his head in disgust at the idea. "But this isn't about that."

"Then what's wrong?"

Freed kept his eyes averted, but he held out his arm. "This!"

Laxus saw the reddish purple marks. "What about it?"

"The bruises."

"Yeah, I got a bit rough. Sorry 'bout that."

"The lady at the shelter … she saw them."

It took Laxus only a moment to realize the weight behind those words. A shelter for domestic abuse, obvious bruises from a hard grab…

"Fuck," he whispered. His fist went up to his mouth, and he looked away from Freed. "Oh … fuck," he shuddered. Fear mutated to anger, and he lashed out, "Is she gonna turn me in now, claim I beat you?"

"I don't think she's allowed to," Freed admitted, otherwise more would have been done. "I'm sorry, she just … it … it got me a little upset. I'm fine."

Laxus looked over hesitantly. "You're not fine."

"It's nothing."

"Fre-…"

"It's nothing!" he snapped. He shook his head, trying to put the anger aside. "I'm fine."

It was an obvious lie, but he felt guilty, being angry when that lady was just trying to help. His masochistic preference had never been brought up in the open like that before, and it had terrified him. He knew he was being defensive, but he could hardly help it. Hearing someone accuse Laxus of abuse infuriated him, but Kagura had only good intentions. It left him unsure what to think or feel.

Freed looked back over, but Laxus was gazing out the window, away from him. "Are you ready to drive some more?"

Distantly, he replied, "Yeah, let's go home."


They drove on in silence. Gradually, Freed managed to calm himself. It was a misunderstanding, nothing more. He probably should have told Kagura a partial truth—laugh it off as roughhousing in the bedroom—because now there was a possibility she might contact his mother about her son being in an abusive relationship.

He would have to call Mermaid Heel as soon as he got home.

He also realized he had snapped at Laxus. Although Laxus was obviously in a bad mood anyway with the inheritance and whatever this epiphany he mentioned was, Freed had still shouted, brushed him off, and now Laxus was scowling in silence. He had to make this better.

He pulled into the condo parking garage, turned off the car, and immediately grabbed Laxus' sleeve.

"I'm sorry about earlier. I didn't mean to take it out on you. That place … was emotional. Maybe that weakened me, or angered me, I don't know. I'm sorry."

Laxus squeezed his hand. "You're not the one at fault here."

Freed looked up in shock. The way he said it sounded like Laxus thought he was the one at fault.

"Let's get inside," Laxus blurted out. "It's past lunch."

Freed pouted, but he supposed he had a lot more to do to make it up to Laxus. He was acting strange, had been since last night. However, sitting in the car was not the place to talk about this.

They rode up the elevator to their condo and stepped inside. Freed loosened the tie he wore to the restaurant and slipped off his shoes. Laxus ripped his tie off, stomped over to the couch, flopped down heavily, and turned on the television. Freed watched the silent, cold figure.

Maybe they could talk over lunch.

"Shall I make sandwiches, or do you want delivery? I guess you don't want to eat out again."

Laxus stared at the newscaster and muttered, "Whatever you want."

Freed pouted, but he tried to keep his voice cheerful. "Well, I could go for a pizza."

"Sounds good. Order whatever you want." The words came out hollow, unconcerned. He could have been agreeing to anything.

"Okay," Freed said hesitantly, worried by Laxus' coldness. "Do you want anything in particular?"

Laxus waved it aside, watching television.

"Laxus?" Cautiously, he approached the couch. "Come on. Normally you're bossy and tell me exactly what to get, even which toppings."

His face flinched slightly. "Just get whatever you want."

"Laxus," he whispered in concern. Definitely, he could see that something was wrong. Laxus was not even looking at him, yet his brow was pinched through a news story about puppies. "Is this about earlier? I'm sorry, I should have worn long sleeves. She saw the bruises and misunderstood."

His grimacing lips twitched. "Did she?"

Freed's mouth dropped. "Of course she did!"

Laxus turned off the television and looked up seriously. "I do some really abusive stuff to you."

"Laxus!" he gasped. "That's not abuse. That's … it's…" He sat beside Laxus and grabbed his hand urgently. "It's BDSM, and I like it!"

Laxus looked down at those small, nimble hands. There were bruises on Freed's wrists, both from when Laxus had tied his hands up with the necktie and from pinning him down on the ground. Up the arm were more bruises, finger-size purple marks, not deep, they would heal in a day or two, but it was pretty obvious those bruises were from a hand grabbing his arm.

"I hit you," he muttered. "I've done some really horrible shit to you. What if … if this is still me acting out against my dad?"

"Laxus, that's not it at all," he said gently. "At least, I don't think so, so … so it's…"

Laxus flinched as the voice from that nightmare echoed through his head again.

"You're gonna hurt him bad one day, y'know."

It was not just about bruises, either. That woman saw the bruises. She could report him. He could have already tarnished Freed's reputation.

He sneered and yanked away. "Fuck!"

"Laxus!"

"You should have gotten far away from me. That very first day, when I told you … I fucking told you about my dad!" He looked up at Freed in anguish. "Why didn't you run away?"

"I wasn't scared."

"You should have been!" He yanked away and fisted up his hands as his whole body shook in anger. "You should have stayed the hell away from me."

"Laxus! Come on," he begged sadly. It hurt to see him this self-deprecating. Freed really had no clue how to help. "What should I do? Should I…" His face cringed up. "Should I leave?"

"No … I just … dammit, this is hitting me harder than I thought."

Freed bit his lip, wondering what sorts of horrors were clouding Laxus' mind. Something obviously happened while he was away, then the anguish of being paid by a former client, dredging up his past, and finally the shelter, where surely Laxus was reminded of horrors from childhood. Freed wished he had taken a psychology class in college, something so he could know how to help.

"Will you feel better if you eat?"

"I…" Laxus' face drew up in anguish. "I don't know, Freed. Just … let me think."

"Okay," he whispered worriedly. "Then I'll … I'll call for pizza." He stood, but he looked down at the sullen face again. "It's not abuse!" he reaffirmed, but he said nothing else. He did not want an argument. Laxus needed time to sort out his past, and Freed needed time to figure out how to prove this, arguments to state his case, like writing an essay in college. He walked away to fetch his phone and call in the order.

Laxus looked down at his hands. With those hands, to the man he loved more than anything in his life…

All those times he took clients, beat them, all the while thinking about ways to torture his father…

What if … just the same … to Freed…?

The dream echoed again.

"Trust me, he'll indulge you until one day you push him too far. Things will turn out so badly, you can't even look at one another without shame and guilt. In that moment, you'll remember this. You'll remember me. You'll realize you only like to hurt him because you always wanted to hurt me."

Laxus clenched his fists and dug his nails into his palms. He shook his head. He did not want to believe it! Yet here they were, and all he could think about was his father, the pain of childhood, the years training in ways to bring pain to flesh, and that dream, that god-awful nightmare.

"You said you didn't inherit being a sadist from me, and you're absolutely right. I created Laxus the Sadist. I created the opportunity for you to meet your sugar daddy and fuck his rich ass." Laxus shook his head, but the voice kept speaking. "You … are with him … because … of me!"

He met Freed because he was a sadist.

He was a sadist because of his father.

He and Freed were together … because of his father.

"Dammit," he seethed under his breath, suddenly questioning everything. "Goddammit."


Freed stepped out onto the deck to call Kagura and, as discreetly as possible, explained the bruises. She sounded suspicious, but when Freed told her that his mother was aware of his BDSM lifestyle and gave her blessing, she backed down and promised not to inform his family about the bruises. If it was done with consent, they were breaking no laws.

He went back inside just as the pizza arrived. He brought the box to the kitchen, but he did not see Laxus on the couch. A glance around the apartment did not reveal him. When Freed entered the bedroom, the lights were off, and he saw Laxus' bulky form on the bed.

"Pizza's here," he called in softly. There was no movement. Did he fall asleep? He walked around to Laxus' side. He was lying there, eyes open, staring straight ahead. "Are you okay?"

Laxus' empty eyes gazed out. "Yeah," he muttered.

Freed instantly knelt beside him. This was much more serious than he thought. "Laxus, I called that lady and explained it all to her. She even agreed, it's not abuse. Okay? Those women in there, and the men too, they were hit out of anger. They were abused. Those children…" It was hard to think that those innocent children suffered as well. "They didn't want that. None of them did! None of them asked for it." He emphasized slowly. "I … want … it!"

Freed thought he gave a good argument. What more was wrong? Still, Laxus stared without really seeing.

"That's what he likes, right? He craves the way you thrill him. If you give it up, he'll give up on you."

The warnings of that nightmare kept ringing in his ears.

Freed burst out in desperation. "Come on, don't make me feel this way! I hate feeling like I'm the weird one, because … because I'm a man and yet I like being hit, being ordered around, being humiliated." His head rested on the edge of the bed. "That's a hard thing sometimes. Socially! If people found out I'm like that—"

He did not have to finish. They both knew the consequences of their predilections. Long before they met one another, they were both aware of society's views on the BDSM lifestyle. Freed raised his head and reached out to stroked Laxus' hair.

"But here, we have each other," he said lovingly. "I get what I need out of you, and you get what you need with me. It works out, and it's consensual. That's the important part. It's something I want," he pleaded.

Laxus' eyes narrowed and still could not look directly at him. "It's something you want," he acknowledged, "but what if I'm nothing more than an abusive, goddamn sonuvabitch?" His voice began to raise in anger and self-loathing. "You just happen to want my abuse."

Freed pulled back in horror. "Laxus, how can … that's … dammit, you're not!" he cried, and tears came to his eyes. "How can I convince you?"

They both sat in silence, Freed shaking with anguish and fear that could not pull Laxus out of this depression, and Laxus staring hollowly.

Suddenly, Freed looked up at him. "You love me, don't you?" he shouted.

Laxus grumbled under his breath, "I'm sure those abusive husbands loved their wives."

"No, they didn't. They didn't! If they loved their wives, they never would have hurt them so much, so badly, they were forced to flee for their lives. That isn't love. That's abuse! It's sick and it's wrong and … and it's not us. I want this, I need it, and you do it to me because you love me and it's what I want. Those women never wanted it. They never consented. That's the difference. That's the biggest difference in the world that separates BDSM from abuse: consent and intent. Don't you dare think differently," he screamed in true anger now. "Don't you dare say I want to be abused. Don't belittle the entire concept of the BDSM community."

Laxus turned his eyes up to him, honestly amazed that Freed was screaming. His hands were in trembling fists, and his eyes were narrow with rage.

Suddenly, Freed's head collapsed onto the mattress. Laxus watched with silent anguish as he saw the shoulders shaking, but Freed struggled not to let out any sounds. Only the unsteady breathing sometimes got a little too loud. Laxus lifted his hand, wanting to stroke his green hair and comfort him, but then he saw the arm again, those bruises, and his hand pulled back.

What right did he have to touch a man like this? He was a devil who specialized in torture, and this was the angel he had hurt for too long.

"Don't do this to us," pleaded Freed. When he raised his head, his eyes were wet, and they tore at Laxus' heart. "We've got a good thing. Please, Laxus," he begged. "Please, don't."

"He'll crave that high, and if he doesn't get it from you, he'll simply find someone else, maybe hire some other dom to satisfy his needs."

Laxus flinched at the smug words in his head. If he gave it up … Freed wanted this, but if he could no longer provide it … if he was already so mentally messed up that he had to give it up…

"Give it up? You truly are stupid. That's what he likes, right? He craves the way you thrill him. If you give it up, he'll give up on you."

Laxus shook his head and cringed. A life without Freed was unimaginable, but what was worse—what was far worse—was the idea of losing Freed to someone else, of no longer being his 'one and only.'

"He's rich. He could hire a professional and get his fulfillment without you knowing."

Laxus could not take anymore. He rolled over, away from Freed, and clenched at the sheet under him. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "Shit, I don't want to do this to you. I really don't."

"What is it?" Freed pawed at him and begged in desperation, "Please, Laxus, talk to me."

They needed to talk. The logical side of Laxus' mind knew this. Communication was key in any relationship. Someone told him that once. "Lately, I keep thinking of my dad."

Freed sat up taller and instantly stopped crying. His father!

"I hate him," Laxus hissed spitefully. "Hate doesn't even come close. For as long as I can clearly remember, I've wanted to kill him. Two nights ago, I had a dream, a fucking nightmare," he shuddered, "about my dad. Worst nightmare of my life, because there was too much truth to it. Ever since yesterday, I haven't been able to stop thinking about him, remembering things, shit I never remembered until now. Then today, seeing that place…" He gulped hard to hold down the tremble in his lungs. "I gotta wonder if a shelter like that existed when I was a kid. I'm sure they did, but … hell, I don't think Mom even knew what was going on, not until it was too late. By then, Dad was gone, and I was a fucked up mess. We didn't need to flee to a shelter. I sure didn't get the type of stuff those people get. Counseling, mostly. Fuck, I probably needed a counselor as a kid. If I had gotten one, would I have ended up like this? Would I still be … like this?"

Freed realized what he meant. Would he be a sadist if he had gotten psychological help to get over the hatred of his abusive father? Freed shifted over to sit on the edge of the bed and hold Laxus' hand, listening to him with empathy.

"I turned to BDSM because I wanted to kill my dad. How fucked up is that? I guess … I'm wondering now … do I need it? I'm not like you; I wasn't always like this. I began out of the most fucked-up, mental-case reason in the world. Should I even do it when that's my reason?" He glanced over to Freed. "Should I do it to you, considering my reasons?"

He saw Laxus' point. It was a little scary, and he would be lying if he did not wonder if Laxus ever did stuff to him while making mental notes about how pain affected the body, applying it to how he could torture his father. He had known from the very beginning, that was Laxus' reason for being a sadist. Still, he was okay with that.

Freed squeezed his hand. "But … I want it. How many times do I have to say it? Laxus, I—"

"What if I don't?" he bellowed.

Freed leaned back in shock. Words failed him.

"What would you do?" Laxus demanded, choked up on tears. "If I told you, no more BDSM, what would you do?"

What the hell was going on? Was Laxus himself no longer okay with BDSM?

Freed's conversation with Llewellyn returned to him.

"He has nothing to apologize about!"

"Others may see it differently, including himself."

"We can … can work something out," he insisted, shivering inside, feeling like a shadow was creeping out over the entire bedroom that had been their sanctuary. "We could … figure something … an alternative—"

"No!" screamed Laxus. "You are not doing what your father did. To fucking hell with that! I would rather you leave me than have you hire someone to replace me."

"No, Laxus, I just meant—"

"You should've gotten away from me long ago, Freed." Laxus cringed down with tears dammed behind his eyelids. "I'm toxic to you. I never should've—"

"Laxus!" he screamed tearfully.

Freed wanted to yell that he could find alternatives. But … how? There were times when Freed direly needed the emotional release of BDSM. Especially now as an adult, working hard, struggling with power dynamics in the corporate world, he needed to be balanced.

What if Laxus honestly could not provide that?

Months ago, Freed thought this was just a whim, a way to make sex more fun. Now, from time to time, it was a necessity. BDSM replaced more harmful ways of dealing with stress. It equalized his life.

If that equilibrium was banished…

How long could he last? Could he adjust?

Freed truly did not know. He had grown spoiled by Laxus. Imagining life without the sensual thrills and physical catharsis … Freed had never given it a thought.

It was not really fair on Laxus to demand that he remain in the BDSM lifestyle, or even in a BDSM relationship, if it only caused him grief.

"I'm being selfish," Freed muttered to himself. Right now, his needs were secondary to Laxus'. Freed stood and straightened his clothes. "Stay here," he said calmly.

Laxus watched with wariness. "Where're ya goin'?"

Freed smiled with painful understanding. "I don't think you want me around, so I'm going to go home."

"Home?" Laxus cried out, sitting straight up in shock. "You mean that big-ass mansion?"

"Yes," he said stolidly. "I'll be there. If you still want me, call my phone."

Of course he wanted him! But … did he deserve him? Did Freed deserve better? Of course he did! From the beginning, Laxus knew he deserved better. He deserved someone like that Rufus guy, someone sophisticated who knew which fork to use and understood wine instead of whiskey.

Still … to lose him!

"Freed."

"I told you, I want this, I like this, but … I can't tell you what you want or what you should do," he stated. "I don't think you're abusive; I don't think I'm being abused. I think I'm being loved and spoiled. Never abused! Not once in all these months have I thought that."

He sighed and looked down as his emotions threatened to overflow again. Calmly, he continued.

"I want you to realize, if you don't like it, if you no longer want … that part of this, I'll accept that," he assured. "However, if having me around is only painful … I'll accept that, too."

His lips began to tremble, but he kept a stern edge, just as he had been taught about controlling his emotions in business situations. This was the biggest business deal of his life, with his future happiness on the line. He could not break down, not yet.

"I want what's best for you, Laxus, even if it's not what's best for me. What's best for me is exactly what we have right now, but … but if that's painful to you … I'm not a sadist," he said with a tiny yet sad smile. "I can't put you through pain. I can handle pain more than you can, so I'm willing to do whatever it takes for you to stop hurting inside, even if it hurts me. However, you need to decide what you want to do. It's up to you now. You're in pain, and you've all but said a safeword to stop that pain. So I'm backing off. You need to figure out your needs, your boundaries, and what you can handle. When you do, come find me. I'll be waiting, loyal and eager, the same as I've always waited for you."

Laxus stared, mouth dropped. This was up to him now, and he had no idea yet how he felt, what he wanted. Nothing!

Freed watched, but he saw the inner turmoil. He was the one who initially hired Laxus. He was the one who asked him out on their first date as a couple. He was the one who brought him to this condo. Always, Freed had been the one grasping hold of Laxus, controlling where he went. Like in the rule of BDSM: it's the submissive who holds the true power.

Now, he needed to walk away. It was time for Laxus to decide his own future.

"Pizza's in the kitchen," he muttered stiffly, turning away before he broke down.

Laxus sat motionlessly except for a slight tremble that would not stop. He heard Freed pulling on a coat, and he did nothing. He heard him tamping on his shoes, yet Laxus only clenched his hands and whispered his name. He gasped as he heard the door open, yet he could not muster up the courage to call him back. Then the door shut, and his body jolted with the slam.

No! Why had he let him walk out? One word, just one goddamn word, would have made him stay.

Alone now, Laxus glared down at the sheets. He knew this was his fault. He had pushed Freed away. He was broken, and there wasn't a thing Freed could do about it, no matter how much he cried and screamed. This was his problem, his alone, and Freed realized that.

Laxus had forgotten how horrible it was to be truly all alone.

"Fuck." He shivered in bottled rage. Then he grabbed a pillow and threw it across the bedroom, knocking over and shattering a framed picture of the two of them. "Fuck!"

He threw himself down onto the mattress. He wanted to rage and cry and run far away and chase after Freed and … too many things at once.

He ended up crying.

Next Chapter: "Return Home"


Audio drama: http://chirb.it/GzvmtM (Bring tissues. I went all out with the emotions. I even broke a glass in that last rage scene. It also includes some hilarious outtakes at the end.)

Maybe this isn't the happiest way to celebrate 50 chapters of CTT, but it's a needed scene. These issues have been brewing since the beginning.

Just to warn everyone, I'm now out of buffer chapters. Followers of my other fanfics have noted (and some have complained ... loudly) that I've been updating CTT but I've not updated my other fanfics in months. The reason is a happy one. I'm about to publish a novel. I've been so focused on this monumental task, I haven't touched fanfics at all. CTT was updating only because I had up to this chapter already done, but now ... now, sadly, it joins the rest on hiatus. And at the most wicked spot to stop, too! With any luck, my novel will be ready by mid-August. I hope a few of you will consider supporting me by purchasing the paperback or downloading the ebook from Amazon. I'll tell you all about it in the next chapter.



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