Balance

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Chapter 2

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Ken glanced up from sweeping spilled potsoil off the floor.  Yohji had ambled into the shop, busy searching for something or someone.  The older man looked as if he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, what with the shadowed eyes and mussed hair.  It appeared as if he’d just thrown on the first clothes he could find.  In fact, the blue shirt he was wearing looked an awful lot like one Aya owned.

 

Not even sight of the lavender-tinted mop of hair Yohji sported could break a smile upon the brunet’s face, as it had every time he’d spotted it the past couple of days.  Nor did the evident signs of suffering on that normally smug face.  Ken was still rather upset with his teammate; Omi could have been seriously hurt last night, or even killed.  And all the damn blond had seemed concerned about was how angry Aya was at him.  That had become clear as the two assassins stayed behind to salvage what they could of the mission and make sure no one pursued their injured friends.  It was all the younger man could do to not start beating on the blond, trying to knock some sense in him.  Ken figured he’d leave it to Weiß’s leader to deal with his baka of a boyfriend; Aya had most definitely been pissed off with Yohji last night.

 

Circuit around the shop completed, the blond cautiously approached the shorter man.  “Isn’t Aya working this morning?”

 

Now that question startled the athlete.  Enough so that Ken actually answered back in a civil tone of voice.  “He was scheduled to.  I figured he was still in bed due to his injuries.  You telling me he isn’t?”

 

Green eyes briefly met brown, and then shifted away to focus on a flowering lily.  “Aya… needed to think about some things last night, so he left the house.  He never came back, so I thought maybe he’d be down here working.”

 

Huh.  No wonder the brunet was the only person to open the Koneko this morning.  Aya must be spectacularly pissed off at Yohji to leave the house last night in his state of health.  Both Omi and the swordsman had been injured during the mission, and Ken would have sworn that Aya was the worse off of the two.  That explained why the blond looked as if he hadn’t gotten any sleep last night.  Dammit, what the hell was going on here?  Yohji completely forgetting mission protocol last night because of his hormones, and a wounded Aya disappearing and skipping work.  Add to that Omi seeming to be more stressed out over not missing school again than the flubbed mission, and it didn’t paint a very cohesive picture of Weiß at the moment.

 

That was what had the brunet so angry at the moment.  Weiß was all he had anymore.  He’d lost his promising J-league career, and his childhood friends and family thought him dead.  Ken had even sacrificed a chance, most likely his only one considering his lifestyle, at true love because of the team.  And now Yohji’s actions were threatening to tear them apart.  How could you trust the man to guard your back if you knew he’d take off at the first sign of Aya being hurt?

 

Shaking his head, Ken pushed these thoughts aside.  Now wasn’t the time to try and figure that question out.  Looking back at Yohji, he noticed the older man was still standing there, cigarette dangling from his lips and an expectant expression on his face.  Shit.  What did the man want him to do?

 

“Did Aya say where he was going?”

 

“No.”  Well that was an extremely curt response.  Ken was willing to bet that the redhead had departed at the end of a fight.

 

“What about the hospital?  Maybe he went to visit his sister.”  All that question earned him was an ‘oh please’ look as Yohji lit another cigarette.

 

“Called there first thing.  Nurse said he wasn’t there.”

 

“Oh.”  Why the hell was Kudoh still looking at him like that, as if trying to mentally urge him to make a specific suggestion?  Why wasn’t the blond out looking for his lover?  Unless… maybe that was what Yohji was waiting for, Ken to suggest they close the shop and start looking for the hurt man.  Aya must have ordered Yohji to not follow him.  In that case, he didn’t see any reason to help the blond out.  If Aya didn’t show up in another hour, he’d leave Yohji to watch the shop and go out searching by himself.  Upon informing the chain-smoking man of this decision, Ken was rewarded with a particularly dirty look.  Somehow it didn’t bother him in the slightest.

 

*******

 

Lighting yet another cigarette, Yohji kept his eyes on the door as he put the half empty pack back into his pocket.  He’d already gone through one pack so far this morning, and seemed well on his way with the second.  Damn Aya for doing this to him.  If he didn’t know it would make the situation worse by searching for the man himself, he’d be out there combing the streets right now.  For a while he’d hoped that Ken would make the suggestion that they start looking for the redhead, but the younger man hadn’t co-operated.  Must still be pissed off at him.  What the hell did it matter if another person was mad at him at this point?

 

Yohji had spent the mostly sleepless night pondering what to do.  How to make everything all right between him and Aya.  Wracking his brain for a solution until he’d fall asleep, only to have nightmares about the redhead leaving him and never coming back wake him up.  That didn’t help matters at all; a part of him just became more resolute to hold on to the man even tighter and never let him go.  Which would just make his lover all the more upset with him right now.

 

Lost in his thoughts, it took the blond a moment to identify the hunched figure limping through the door.  Recognition dawning on him, he leapt over the register counter and rushed to the swordsman’s side.  About to enfold the smaller man in a bone-crushing hug, Yohji remembered the injuries just in time.  “Aya, where the hell have you been, we’ve been worried about you.”

 

Aya glanced up, exposing a white face made all the paler by the dark circles surrounding his eyes.  It looked as if he hadn’t gotten any rest at all.  The redhead’s mouth was held in a tight line because of the pain, and Yohji wouldn’t be surprised if the man passed out at any minute.  The blond reached out a tremulous hand and brushed back crimson bangs that were half obscuring his lover’s face.  When the smaller man didn’t bat his hand away, it became steadier and carried its way down to a slender waist.  “Come on, Kitten, let’s put you to bed.”

 

For a moment it looked as if the exhausted man would be agreeable, but after a few seconds he straightened up and stepped away from the taller man.  “I can make it on my own.”  Yohji wanted to laugh in that pale face over Aya’s obstinacy, but let the urge pass.  Pressing the issue at this point would only worsen the situation with the quiet man, so he just stood there watching Aya make his wobbly way into the private sector of the Koneko.  However, he couldn’t resist the temptation to follow him, just to make sure the smaller man didn’t end up collapsed on the floor before reaching a bed.

 

Concentration focused on putting one foot in front of the other, Aya didn’t notice the fact that he was being tailed.  He nearly gave up on the second set of steps, but only a perversely stubborn nature prevented that.  Finally making it to the floor where the bedrooms resided, the redhead found himself standing before the door to Yohji’s room.  Blinking his tired eyes a few times, he realized that it wasn’t his room, where he had intended to sleep. 

 

His fogged brain trying to decide if it truly mattered where he slept at this point, the swordsman gave in to the pain and exhaustion and entered the room.  Once inside, he more or less collapsed as is on the soft bed.  Yohji gave Aya a minute or two to fall asleep, and then entered the room himself.  A tender smile spread across his face upon seeing the unconscious man.  Heading over to the bed, he quickly stripped his kitten of clothes and shoes.  Tucking Aya under the covers, the blond quietly left the room, only to return with a glass of water and a bottle of pain pills.  Chances were the smaller man would wake up in pain at some point during the day.  Lover tended to, Yohji closed the door behind him and went back down to the flowershop.

 

It was a mostly uneventful day in the Koneko.  Ken and Yohji were kept busy with customers and orders, probably a good thing since the men still weren’t talking to each other unless absolutely necessary.  In the afternoon Omi appeared, eyes dull due to the pain from his arm, and paused in the store only long enough to inquire about Aya and leave instructions to wake him and the redhead if Manx stopped by.  That said, the youth went straight to his own bed.  Left to deal with the schoolgirl mob by themselves, the two remaining assassins were very eager for closing time.

 

Finally ridding the shop of their admirers, Ken groaned out loud at the sight of a familiar figure lingering in the doorway.  “Konban wa, Manx.”

 

“You too, Hidaka.”  Looking about the shop, the redheaded woman asked where everyone else was. 

 

“Yohji should be in the back, and Aya and Omi are upstairs.  I take it you’re here on business?”  It was then that Yohji walked back into the shop, face carefully schooled upon seeing Manx.

 

“Yes, there’s a new mission Kritiker wants Weiß to undertake.  Can someone go get the others?”

 

“I’ll let them know you’re here.  Be back in a couple of minutes.”  The blond took off before Ken could even reply, leaving him there with a very curious Manx.  Offering the woman a smile twisted from stress, the athlete locked the shop’s doors and made his way to the mission room.

 

*******

 

Deciding to wake Omi up first, Yohji knocked on the youth’s door.  Not receiving an answer, he entered the room and crossed over to the bed.  “Hey Kiddo, time to wake up.  We got a visitor.”  This was punctuated with shaking the teenager’s shoulder.

 

“Waa, Yohji, what were you saying?”  The young blond was just so cute, blinking heavy lids as he tried to hide under the comforter.

 

“Manx is here.  Call me crazy, but I swear I remember you asking me to wake you if she showed up.  Now get out of bed, I left Kenken all alone with her.”

 

“Manx!  Here?”  Tossing aside the bedcovers, Omi jumped off the bed and grabbed at his jeans.  “Did she say anything?”

 

It was amusing to watch the boy tear through the room, trying to make himself look presentable.  “Just that she had another mission for us, and wanted all of us together.”  Yohji decided he didn’t like the look that crossed the chibi’s face.  “You think she’s here about last night?”

 

“Most likely a combination of both.  I need to go downstairs and see what she wants.  Is Aya still asleep?”

 

“Yeah, I’m on my way to wake him up now.  We’ll be down in a couple of minutes.”  Frowning a bit, the older man walked out the door.  Omi didn’t spare him much thought as he rushed to the mission room.  Out of the four assassins, he knew Manx the best, pretty much being raised by the woman and Persia since he was little.  Maybe he could catch her alone for a couple of minutes, and find out if Kritiker suspected anything or was upset with the team.

 

Opening his bedroom door, Yohji found Aya still sleeping.  Judging by the empty glass of water, the redhead seemed to have awakened at some point during the day, and the bottle of pills was now missing its cap. The lanky man sat on the bed and gazed down upon his lover.  If it wasn’t for the bothersome woman downstairs, he could gladly spend the evening just watching Aya sleep.  But it was important that he awaken the man.  “Aya love, come on.  Time to get up.”  He started to massage the sleeping man’s back.

 

Combination of touch and sound doing the trick, Aya found himself drifting back to consciousness.  Still tired and mind dulled from the pain pills, the redhead tried to figure out why Yohji was waking him up.  It was so nice and warm in bed, he didn’t want to leave it.  All that was missing was his lover curled up against him.  Rolling onto his back, he stretched out his pale arms and pulled the older man’s face down towards his.  Briefly nibbling on Yohji’s lips, he tightened his grip until the other man responded. 

 

Amazed at the smaller man’s actions, Yohji struggled to support his weight off of Aya.  Which was a bit difficult to do when somebody was kissing you breathless and pulling you down even closer.  Content to just kiss the man for a few minutes, common sense finally returned and the blond pulled back.  The swordsman frowned up at him, swollen lips pouting slightly.  Yohji couldn’t resist running his thumb across those lips, hand continuing on to brush back strands of hair from violet eyes.  “Sorry lover, but I really need to get you out of bed, not me into it.”  Aya just continued to stare at his boyfriend, mind trying to assimilate what the man was saying.  “Manx is here, and wants to talk to us.”

 

“Manx?”  That stirred a memory.  Suddenly the past twenty-four hours rushed back to the redhead; last night’s mission and his fight with Yohji.  Aya had spent the entire night and a good part of the morning sitting in a café, trying to figure out what to do about their relationship.  For a supposedly intelligent person, he hadn’t come up with much.  He could either leave the man and hope Weiß would still be able to function, or try to forgive him and keep last night from ever repeating.  Problem was, Aya Fujimiya was not exactly a forgiving person, nor dealt well with losing a loved one.  So he had remained in the coffee shop, nursing a couple pots of tea while his head and his heart fought.  Still wasn’t quite sure which had won before pain and exhaustion had forced him to return home before he passed out.

 

Sitting up in bed was an exercise in agony.  His body had stiffened while he had slept, and everything hurt that much more.  The good thing was the pain helped to dissipate the drugs clouding his mind.  It took Aya a moment to realize Yohji had an arm supporting his back.  It just didn’t seem worth the effort to glare at the man, so he focused his energy on being able to stand up.  “Where are my clothes?”

 

“Here’s your jeans.”  Watching the redhead struggle into that article of clothing, Yohji discarded the younger man’s tight knit sweater and after a quick search handed over one of his sweatshirts.  It was big on him, so it should be more than loose on the smaller man.  “This should be a little easier to get into.”  Wincing from the pain in his side, Aya pretty much just lifted his arms and let the taller man slide the shirt on him.  Busy trying to straighten out his appearance, he didn’t realize that Yohji was standing behind him until long arms gently pulled him back into an embrace.  The older man was careful to avoid putting any pressure on his injuries.

 

“Yohji, they’re waiting for us downstairs.  Let go of me.” 

 

The blond just slowly tightened his hold on the smaller man.  Aya’s reaction would be a telling sign; if he stormed off angry or submitted to the embrace.  Yohji was hoping and praying for the later, especially after how the reserved man had woken up.  He needed to know if there was any hope of Aya forgiving him so they could resume their relationship.  Even if the redhead hadn’t he was still prepared to fight for the man, it would just help him form out a battle strategy if he had some clue where his kitten’s emotions laid.

 

Aya wanted more than anything to sigh deeply over the blond’s actions, but knew it would hurt his tender ribs too much.  Trust Yohji to pull something like this at such an important time.  Torn between escaping the hug and leaning back against a warm body, the quiet man decided he was too tired for this and let his body do whatever it wanted.  Resting against Yohji, he squashed all the inner voices telling him how much of a mistake it was.  He growled when the older man bent his head to nibble on his ear for a few seconds, and then let go of him.

 

“Guess you’re right.  Don’t want to keep everyone waiting, do we Sweetie?”

 

Now /that/ was worth a glare.  “Stop calling me that, it’s even worse than ‘kitten’.”

 

A green eye winked at him.  “Whatever you say, Kitten.”

 

Stomping out of the room as much as a wounded leg would allow, Aya decided his heart must be incredibly stupid for refusing to give up on such a baka.

 

*******

 

“I’m sure they’ll be down here any minute now.  Knowing those two, they’re probably fighting over something.”  Omi nervously glanced towards the steps, mentally willing his older teammates to walk down them.  If those two morons were upstairs fooling around, he’s use them for target practice.  Manx had spent the past ten minutes grilling Ken and him on last night’s mission.  The youth thought they’d covered everything to the agent’s satisfaction, but wanted to move on to a much safer topic.  Besides, his arm was bothering him after using it all day in school.  He wanted to cradle the limb against his chest, but Manx was paying too much attention to him.  Trying to paint the previous evening’s assignment in as much of a flattering light as possible, he had downplayed Aya’s and his injuries. 

 

Finally the two assassins came down the steps.  Aya was still walking with some difficulty, and was directing a shi-ne glare towards Yohji. For the blond’s part, he had a cigarette dangling from a mocking grin and seemed more like his usual self.   Nothing about the two men should raise any suspicions from Manx.

 

“Glad to see you two could make it,” the woman retorted, an eyebrow arched and a disapproving look on her face.

 

“Ah, sorry about that Manx.  You know how Aya hates to not be the prettiest redhead in the room.”  A lascivious grin spread across the blond’s face, as the swordsman growled in his direction.  “Have I told you lately how much I adore your socks?  Oh look, one’s slipped down a little.  Let me help you with that.”  He headed in her direction.

 

“It amazes me how someone with so few braincells has managed to live as long as you have.  Now sit down and behave.”  Omi reached out with his good arm and yanked the lanky man down on the couch next to him.  He wanted Yohji where he could keep an eye on him.  Aya leaned back against the wall, which was much easier than trying to sit down and then get back up.

 

Making sure she had everyone’s attention, Manx passed around a series of folders and started the VCR.  “Lat night’s target was involved in the manufacturing a compound found in a new drug that has cropped up in several clubs and gatherings.  The drug has been dubbed ‘Sybil’.  In addition to being highly addictive, it produces a state of euphoria supposedly unrivaled by any other on the street at this moment.  The twist is that once a person ingests the pill, the user’s everyday personality seems to disappear, and a ‘new’ one arises in its place.  One that is unfettered by a conscience or social morals.  In other words, you can have an everyday, law-abiding citizen who becomes a willing murderer, prostitute, whatever.”  Disturbing images of apparently normal people involved in horrendous activities flickered on the television.  “Not only become, but to crave the sensations they experience under this new personality.  Once the buzz wears off, the user doesn’t remember anything but how good the high felt.”

 

“Kritiker was hoping that by destroying the warehouse last night there would be a shortage of the compound, but we just found out that there was a major shipment that took place right before you arrived on scene.  A shipment that wasn’t supposed to happen until tonight.  It appears as if Teshi and his organization had been tipped off about your presence.”

 

Ken shifted in his seat.  “That would explain the extra guards we encountered.”  He began to feel relieved.  Maybe Weiß wouldn’t be held accountable after all.

 

“Yes it does.  However, Kritiker is still upset about the loss of data.  That was one of the main goals of the mission.  The information was needed to find out where the compound was being distributed, and who was all involved in the process.  Word is a major organization is behind this drug, and we still don’t know who.  That should have been obtained last night.”

 

“Sorry, Manx, but we were a little busy trying to keep ourselves from getting killed.” Omi kicked Yohji’s ankle, but the man continued to glare up at the red haired woman.

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but you guys are supposed to be among the best covert groups in this country.  Abyssinian and Siberian should have been able to handle the extra security just fine.  That information was very critical, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get it from other sources.  It was worth any risk Weiß might have encountered.”

 

It was always lovely to hear one’s employer stress just how expendable one was.  Omi kept kicking the older man’s leg, trying to keep him from saying anything.  Ken just glowered at Manx, thinking dark thoughts.  Aya was silent as usual.

 

After a minute or two, the longhaired woman continued.  “Weiß services are required to help track down the source of this drug and stop it’s production once and for all.  There’s a list of the more promising leads, and some cover identities.  Go over them tonight, and be prepared to start the undercover work tomorrow.”

 

“Hey, wait a minute.”  Ken was frowning, folder crumpled up in his hand.  “None of us have agreed to this mission yet.”

 

Green eyes regarded the young men coolly.  “Consider this a continuation of the last assignment.  Hopefully this time things will go much more smoothly.”

 

About to open his mouth to protest the unfairness of that statement, Ken then thought better of it.  He directed a glare Yohji’s way.  It was all the playboy’s fault.  Not that the brunet would have turned down the mission, he just wished he’d had a choice in the matter.  After all, there weren’t many options left to him anymore, the few he had were precious.

 

“Wait!  What about Aya and Omi?  You seriously think they’re owww!”

 

“What were you trying to say, Kudoh?”  Manx fixed her green eyes on the man, who was occupied rubbing his ribs.  Aya wasn’t the only one with bony elbows in the group.  “Were you expressing some concern for your fellow teammates?”

 

“He probably has some hot date tomorrow night and is looking for an excuse to push back the mission.  Don’t worry, Aya-kun and I are just fine.”  The words spilled out of Omi’s mouth as he threateningly pressed his elbow against the older man’s ribs to keep him silent.

 

Ken decided to create some sort of diversion.  “Well, looks like it’ll be another fun-filled adventure for this group.  Can we start the mission briefing soon, there’s a game on tonight I’d like to catch.  That is, unless someone has a better suggestion on how I can spend my time.”  Brown eyes glared at Manx during this last comment.

 

“No no, that’s fine.  Happy assassins are productive assassins,” the woman responded flippantly.

 

Ken just grunted in response.

 

“How about I run out real quick for dinner.  Meal’s on me, my treat.”  Not bothering to notice the incredulous stares sent his way, Yohji swiftly ascended the stairs and headed for the garage.  After a minute, Aya followed him, much slower and still limping.  Jumping out of his seat, Ken came up behind the man, trying to block the redheaded woman’s view of Aya struggling up the steps.  Which left Omi alone with her.  The youth stood up, wondering how he should initiate a conversation with the woman.  Unfortunately , the matter was taken out of his hands.

 

“Omi, if you wouldn’t mind I’d like to have a private talk with you.”

 

“Oh, sure Manx, anything in particular you’d like to discuss?”  The teenager tried to hide his nervousness.  He had a feeling what this discussion was going to be about.

 

Eying the young assassin, Manx decided to just barge ahead.  No doubt the others would be curious if they remained down here for too long.  “Is there something going on in Weiß that I should know about?  You know you can trust me, anything you say will be off the record.”  That was a little bit of a lie, and she felt bad about it.

 

Omi sensed the older woman’s unease, and it felt as if a band tightened around his heart.  Everything had changed so much since Persia’s death.  While he was sure he could trust Manx on something truly important, it was clear she still had to answer to her bosses, and had been sent to find something out.  “What makes you think something is going on?”

 

“Let’s see, a mission escalated out of control last night, which never should have happened.  Fujimiya appears to be having difficulty walking and you with moving your right arm, when the report said the two of you only suffered minor injuries.  Hidaka is very upset over something concerning Kudoh; the only time he looked at the man was to glare at him.  And unless I’m mistaken, Kudoh and Fujimiya were wearing each other clothes.  How does that sound?”  Omi could only stand there, blue eyes blinking at the redhead.  It was easy to forget that Manx did more than just deliver new mission reports and needed supplies. 

 

“We’re just…. hitting a bumpy patch in the road right now, as the saying goes.  Ken and Yohji have been getting on each other nerves lately, I mean, just look at Yohji’s hair.  And Aya probably over did his exercises today, you know how intense he gets at times, and he was really upset about the mission.  Nobody wants a repeat of last night, we’ll be more focused from now on.”

 

Manx just shook her head.  She could report that summary back to Kritiker.  The assassins were not perfect, it should be expected that they messed up a little every now and then.  But throw in the mission a month ago, and it was the start of a disturbing trend.  One that Kritiker wanted to end, right now.

 

Biting her lip, the woman tried once more.  “Omi, I’ll tell Kritiker what you just told me.  But it really would help if I knew what was happening here.  Is there something going on with Kudoh and Hidaka, or Kudoh and Fujimiya?”  She’d seen such things with other teams; when you spied, stole or killed for a living, it was hard connecting with the rest of humanity.  The only people left who understood you were your teammates.  Sometimes a relationship would develop inside the group.  Every now and then the team benefited from the situation, but all too often it led to a re-assignment or two.  Manx hoped that wasn’t the case occurring here.

 

Taken back for a moment by the thought of /Yohji/ and /Ken/ dating each other, Omi was rendered speechless.  Of course having Manx come so close to the mark didn’t help matters any either.  He just didn’t know what to say. 

 

“That’s what I thought.”  It didn’t matter who the couple was, really, although it was a safe bet that Kudoh was involved.  Manx’s suspicions were confirmed.  If it looked as if there would continue to be problems with the team, she’d transfer the older blond out immediately.  There was no way she’d let the man remain and pose a threat to Omi.

 

“Well, I better get going.  I assume there is some gear I need to pick up for repair?  I’ll check the usual place before I leave.  Please, take care Omi.”  Ruffling the youth’s hair briefly before making her way up the stairs, Manx refused to acknowledge the saddened expression on Omi’s face.  She hated to have the boy think he’d betrayed his teammates, but she’d done what she did to protect /him/.

 

Following the redhead up the stairs, Omi glumly thought that things couldn’t get much worse for the team.

 

*******

 

“So we’re pretty much supposed to pose as bored rich college students or young salarymen and hang out in a bunch of clubs for the foreseeable future.  Should be fun.”

 

“It’ll be a real stretch of your acting talents I’m sure, Yohji-kun.”

 

“Hey!”

 

The four men were gathered at the dinner table, busy eating takeout while going over the mission files.  The other three refrained from commenting on Yohji’s choice of dinner.  The man usually hated most traditional Japanese foods, but he’d just spent a lot of money on the very same for them to eat.  It was obvious that he’d picked the meal in an effort to please Aya.  Who was even quieter than usual during the meal, speaking up only when directly asked a specific question.  And even then sometimes he wouldn’t answer.  Ken and Omi just sat back and watched as Yohji tried to coax and wheedle responses from the quiet man.  If it hadn’t been for the previous evening, it would have been very amusing.

 

Ken picked up his folder.  “Wait a minute, according to this it looks like Abyssinian’s cover is to wait tables again.  Won’t that be enjoyable, huh Aya?”  Spying the truly evil look directed his way by violet eyes, the brunet let out an ‘eep’ and suddenly became fascinated with his left over salmon roe.  Waiting until the swordsman returned his attention to his handful of papers, Omi leaned over and patted the athlete on the back.  Very quietly, so a certain redhead didn’t hear, he assured the trembling man he’d been amused by the joke.

 

“Isn’t there a soccer game you wanted to watch, Kenken?”  Yohji asked, voice amazingly civil.

 

The brunet let out another ‘eep’, and hurriedly began to gather up his dishes.  Tossing them in the sink, he bemusedly turned back to the table.  “Uh, we’re done for the night, right?  I mean, there’s nothing we can’t go over on our own or talk about tomorrow?”

 

“Oh, go on and watch your game.  I need to get some homework done anyways, and this is as good a time as any to stop.”  Omi started to gather up the leftovers.

 

Not saying a word, Aya reached into his jean pockets and pulled out a couple of pain pills.  He finished off the last of his tea to wash the pills down.  Yohji, who’d been hoping for such an event, stood up and walked over to the sink.  “You guys go, I’ll take care of the dishes.”

 

Jumping on the opportunity, Omi swiftly placed the food in the fridge and left the room.  It was a very rare occasion indeed when Yohji volunteered to do a chore.  Maybe having Aya mad at him wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

 

Still silent, the redhead deposited his dishes in the sink and made his way upstairs.  He planned on spending the night in his room, listening to some music while he rested his sore body.  It wasn’t going to be fun hanging out in a crowded club the next week or so, he’d better enjoy his quiet while he could.  At least this time he wouldn’t be working, and the establishments were a little more reputable.

 

Yohji took his time doing the dishes, waiting for the medication Aya had just swallowed to take effect.  He’d developed a plan earlier, and was about to set it in motion.  Whatever it took, he was going to end up in bed with the smaller tonight, and a drugged Aya would be more complacent than an angry aware one.  Granted, it was a truly underhanded tactic to take advantage of the man like that, but there was no way in hell Yohji was going to lose his boyfriend.  Besides, the blond had learned from an early age it paid to fight dirty.  While having sex wouldn’t make all their problems go away, it would at least give the blond a decent shot at winning back his lover.  Or make him all the madder.  Yohji was counting on the first; reminding the redhead of what they meant to each other and stirring some other emotions besides anger in him would be a good start.

 

*******

 

Hearing the knock on his door, Aya softly moaned and considered just ignoring whomever it was.  However, most likely it was Yohji, who wouldn’t be ignored.  He’d better get off the bed and deal with the man.  The quicker the matter was over with, the sooner he could go back to enjoying Strauss’ music for the opera Salomé.  Opening the door, he let Yohji enter the room.  The blond was holding a folded blue shirt, one that Aya recognized as his.  Which, come to think of it, Yohji had been wearing earlier.  “What do you want?”

 

Smiling sheepishly, Yohji handed over the shirt.  “Just returning this.  Sorry for borrowing it without asking, but I was in a rush this morning to help Ken and just grabbed the first thing I could find.”

 

Aya was almost positive that the shirt had been hanging up in his closet, but decided to let the lie slip past.  It would just lead to another fight, and he was still trying to sort things out from the last one.  Like if he really was going to break up with the older man or not.  Part of him, his rational side and those little voices that had always questioned what the blond found attractive about him, voted to end the relationship.  But Aya’s heart and body were another matter.  They refused to give up on the man, and wanted things to return to how they’d been before yesterday.

 

Shaking away those thoughts, Aya glanced over at the taller man.  Yohji was standing there quietly, just staring at him.  It must be the drugs, to make him drift off like that.  “Thank you.”  Returning the shirt to its place in the closet, the redhead turned to find he wasn’t alone in the room yet.  “What else do you want?”

 

“Aya, I just want to talk to you a little, now that we are both a bit calmer.  Won’t you listen to me?”  As the smaller man opened his mouth, a frown on his face, Yohji rushed on.  “I’ll only be a few minutes.  Please.”

 

Frown intensifying, Aya nodded his head after a minute.

 

“I know I really screwed up last night, and I truly am sorry.  It’s just… you know all about Asuka, and how she died.”  The blond had told the sad story of his first true love to Aya one night a couple of weeks ago, after the smaller man had opened up about his and his sister’s childhood.  The redhead nodded again.  Yohji started to slowly walk closer to his lover, masking the destination by pausing to look at this book, or to fiddle with the stereo.  “Well, all yesterday evening,  I couldn’t help but think I’d lose you the same way I lost her.  Like I almost lost you to Aso. That one moment you’d be gone, never to return.  So I freaked.  The thought of leaving you to face all those guards alone was just too much.  I wasn’t going to lose the person I loved again, not if there was something I could do to prevent it.”

 

He was standing right next to the smaller man, looking out the window, when Aya finally responded.  “I can take care of myself just fine, Yohji.”  It was a bit unnerving to hear the blond talk so seriously about his past and his feelings for Aya.  They’d never really talked about their emotions before, Yohji being a person much happier doing than talking, and Aya preferring not to deal with the things.

 

The older man moved until he was right in front of his lover.  A wistful smile spread across his features as he brushed back the ever-present bangs from Aya’s forehead.  Gods, how he loved the feel of those strands against his fingers.  “I know you can, Kitten.  Never doubt that I don’t know that.  Hell, you could probably take me down in a real fight.  It’s not your skills that I don’t have faith in.  It’s just… as odd as this sounds it’s fate that I don’t trust.  I just have this feeling that something isn’t pleased when I’m happy, and so tries to take what I love away from me.  And I truly do love you, Aya.  I know I really haven’t said that to you before, I guess I’ve been waiting until you’d be more comfortable to hear it.  But I’m saying it now.”

 

Aya didn’t know what the hell to say, what with green eyes staring down at him so earnestly, glimmering with some emotion he refused to identify.  Valiantly trying to clear his mind of its confused state, from a combination of the pain medication and what Yohji had said to, the redhead started to tremble minutely.  He knew that he loved the older man, which was why he was so torn and hurting over a decision that logic and self-interest should render simple. It never had really occurred to him that the blond might love him back.  Want him, that was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt, and care for him, as a friend and lover.  But who in their right mind would love an emotionally stunted, withdrawn murderer?  Parting his lips to debate this fact with the older man, Aya was silenced as a hungry mouth descended upon his.

 

Yohji had watched the parade of emotions as they crossed the swordsman’s face, confusion, disbelief, uncertainty and finally denial.  Judging the moment to be right, he bent down and began to devour the redhead’s mouth.  The man was thrown off balance, it was time to move in for the ‘kill’.   Now all he had to do was overwhelm Aya until any and all resistance faded.  Mindful of the man’s sore ribs, he gently but determinedly pulled Aya’s body against his, wrapping his arms tight.

 

Stunned by Yohji’s actions, Aya tried to pull away, but the blond’s grip was too tight.  He stilled, deciding to wait until the other man realized he wasn’t going to get anywhere, when skillful hands started to massage his neck and shoulders.  Tense from pain and fighting with his boyfriend, what the blond was doing to him felt so incredible.  Add to that a very talented mouth and tongue that was making his body react regardless of what his mind thought, and the redhead found himself melting against the taller man.  Between the pleasure and drug induced fogginess, his brain decided it was a battle it couldn’t win and surrendered.

 

Noticing the change in his lover’s attitude, Yohji relaxed his hold in order to let his hands and mouth wander all over the slender body.  One hand sneaked under the oversized sweatshirt to play with the redhead’s nipples, while the other cupped an ass cheek and pulled the man’s pelvis tight against his.  Rubbing his erection against the hardening bulge in the smaller man’s jeans, the blond nibbled his way to a pale ear and then down the neck.  All the while he whispered how much he adored the man and his delicious body.  Aya didn’t do much more besides give in to the sensations as he clung to older man’s shoulders.  Yohji didn’t mind, this was all about blowing his lover’s mind, among other things, and anyway he’d get his pleasure later.

 

Keeping in mind the other man’s injuries, Yohji slowly backed Aya up until they connected with a wall.  Snarling at the clothes separating him from that luscious body, the lanky man commenced to disrobe the dazed swordsman.  Luckily the sweatshirt’s neck was large enough that he could yank it over a crimson maned head and slide it off lean, muscled arms.  That taken care, he licked and kissed his way down the man’s chest, delighting in the way Aya shivered and gasped.  Gods, he couldn’t get enough of the man.  There was no way in hell he was going to let the younger man walk away from him and their relationship.  If it meant tracking down the members of Kritiker’s echelon and beating some sense into them, he’d do it just to keep Aya with him.  The hardest part would be convincing his remarkably intractable lover.

 

Aya could only lean against the wall, shivering with the pleasure Yohji was making him feel.  While a small part of him was screaming at what he was letting the blond do to him, over the way the man used him like this so as to worm his way back into the redhead’s affections, the rest of him was slowly blanking out.  This was why he let the older man drag him off to have sex in the greenhouse, the den, gods forbid their actual bed or wherever Yohji’s hentai mind came up with.  All for this wonderful sense of peace and forgetfulness, lost amid the pleasure and warmth he was overwhelmed with.  No thoughts of his painful past or bleak future, just the /now/.  For the ability to turn off his brain and trust himself into the hands of someone he loved.

 

Yohji was almost frantically tugging on the blissed out man’s jeans.  He wanted to taste Aya so bad he was practically drooling.  The languid mewls the man was producing wasn’t helping matter either.  Finally popping open all the buttons, he barely restrained himself from yanking the offending article of clothing down to the redhead’s ankles.  He didn’t want to jar the bullet wound and shake the redhead back to reality.  Pushing the pants and boxer shorts down with one hand, the other smoothly wrapped around the freed erection and pumped up and down.  Tilting his head back, the blond looked up at Aya, and in a husky voice called out the man’s name.  “Aya love, look at me.”  He kept repeating it until the lids covering lust darkened violet eyes fluttered open.  Oh yes, that look was world’s better than the ones received all last night.  “Watch me lover.  I need you to see how much I want you.”  Green eyes locked on violet, Yohji deep-throated the man’s dripping cock, flicking his tongue against the organ as his mouth moved up and down.  One arm was pressed against the smaller man’s hips, keeping him from sliding down the wall, while the other toyed with his ball sacks and the stretch of skin behind them.  Taking in the flushed face and panting mouth, the blond waited until Aya was at the edge to thrust his finger deep inside the man.  Wordlessly crying out as he ejaculated, the redhead’s hands tightened on his lover’s shoulders as he finally broke contact with those green orbs, head thrown back against the wall.

 

Catching the smaller man as he collapsed against him, Yohji carefully picked him up and placed him on the bed.  Swiftly tearing off his clothes as Aya lay there, gathering his scattered wits about him, he pulled a bottle of lube out of his back pocket and placed it on the nightstand.  He’d had to come prepared, considering they didn’t usual make love in Aya’s room.  Finally divested of his clothes, he knelt on the bed over the sprawled form of his lover.  His left hand brushed back sweat soaked hair as he leaned in for a kiss, while his right flipped off the bottle’s top and poured some lubricant into his palm.  Coating his fingers, he ghosted his hand down the redhead’s sensitive skin, delighting in the way pale flesh twitched at his touch and that sweet mouth moaned into his. 

 

Aya jerked his head to the side as he gasped for breath, feeling a slickened finger enter him again.  Still so sensitive from his orgasm, he couldn’t help but mewl as his hips drove back against the appendage.  He tried jerking the blond down on top of him as a second finger entered, needing to feel that long body covering his.  Yohji resisted the frantic hands, aware of the broken ribs and stitched side.  “Shh, relax love, I’m not going anywhere.”  He tilted the redhead’s face up to his and trailed his tongue on top the other’s lips as his fingers rubbed against the smaller man’s prostate.  Hearing his name gasped out in such a whispery tone, he added another finger, alternating between stretching that tight opening and flicking that certain spot again and again.

 

“Too much, Yohji, need you now.” Aya moaned out, once again trying to pull the man on top of him.

 

“I know love, just wait.”  The older man pulled his fingers out and grasped his lover’s arms, pulling him up into a sitting position.  Lying down on the bed, he hauled the redhead onto his lap, handing the dazed man the bottle of lube as his fingers once again moved behind to tease at the opening they found there.

 

Brain finally catching up with the blond’s actions, Aya opened the tube and poured some of the liquid into his hand.  Moving it up and down the blond’s twitching erection, he positioned himself above and slowly lowered himself onto the shaft.  Strong hands gripped his hips, controlling the rate at which the cock slid into him. Mewling softly at the slow pace, the redhead felt some satisfaction gazing down on the panting and groaning man underneath him.  Yohji usually enjoyed being the one on top, pressing the smaller man into the mattress or against the wall.  Those hands prevented him from setting too fast a pace, made the act slower and gentler than the redhead thought he was in the mood for.  Time seemed to slow down, revolving around the two men making love on the bed, filling the room with the sounds of moans and gasps and each other’s names.

 

If there was a way Yohji could make this moment last forever, he’d pay any price to make it so.  Body pushing deeper and deeper into the mewling redhead, he realized he’d do whatever it took to keep Aya his.  It was almost frightening, this intense sense of possession that filled him, almost stronger than the love he felt for the smaller man.  He’d never felt anything this passionate before, not for any other lover.  Watching the way the man tilted back his head, exposing that slender neck when Yohji commenced stroking his cock, he couldn’t stop the deep growl that emerged from his throat.  No one was taking the redhead away from him, not Kritiker or fate or even Aya himself.  Fingers tightening on a slim hip hard enough to leave a bruise, the blond yelled out his lover’s name as he came with an explosive intensity, hips brutally thrusting up one last time.  Feeling the hand contract around his shaft and the flood of heat deep inside him, Aya soon followed, the blond’s name caught in his throat as his body arched back.

 

Falling forward onto the older man’s chest, Aya could only lay there, watching Yohji lick clean his hand of the swordsman’s cum.  Task finished, he reached down and pulled the smaller man up so he could kiss him.  Tongue delving deep into a willing mouth, the green eyed man kept at it until both of them were panting for air.  Lips still brushing against each other’s, he growled softly at his lover  “I’m never letting you go, Kitten.  Never.  You’re /mine/.” 

 

Shocked by this comment, Aya let himself be arranged on the blond’s chest in a position comfortable for both of them.  Head tucked under a pointy chin and nose tickled by wavy locks of hair, he let his exhausted body drag him off to sleep.  The thought that if he believed things were complicated before was nothing compared to the way they were now followed him off into sleep.

 

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