Cages

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chapter 10

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The morning after

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"I thought you wanted breakfast," Aya said in an exasperated voice as Yohji followed him into his walk-in closet and couldn’t help but hug him tightly, pressing against his back. Yohji smiled and placed a kiss on Aya’s shoulder, spitting out hair as he lifted his head and nuzzled a pale ear.

"I do." He continued to hold Aya, content to have him near. It felt so great to finally be able to do this, and he enjoyed the feel of Aya in his arms, so warm and even leaning against him the slightest bit. Yohji was half tempted to toss his lover onto the bed and ravish him, but he knew that he had to be serious this morning, and not treat Aya as if sex was the only thing that mattered to him.

"Then let go of me so I can find something for us to wear to breakfast." Aya tugged on one of the hands around his waist, and after a quick kiss on the cheek, Yohji did as he was told. He had to smile, though, when Aya didn’t step away from him. Instead, he stood there, looking at the brilliantly colored fabric, before reaching out to pick out two bundles. He lightly nudged Yohji in the ribs, and the two of them walked out of the closet. "Here, you can have this."

Yohji accepted the outfit Aya held out to him, a green yukata covered with gold kites. The thick cotton felt crisp to the touch, and he was willing to bet it was new, like the last one Aya had given him. He thanked Aya and started to pull it on.

Aya crossed over to his dresser, and after searching through a drawer, pulled out two pairs of boxers and returned to Yohji’s side. "Wear these, too. They should fit you." The boxers were grey silk.

"Should I be offended at the way you want me all covered up?" he teased. "Don’t you think it’s a shame to hide all this beauty?" He gestured down his exposed front while trying hard not to laugh at Aya’s sigh.

Still holding onto his clothes, Aya reached out and stroked his hand down Yohji’s chest. "I think it’ll be more fun to unwrap it later," he breathed in a husky voice, one that made Yohji want to groan and go with his earlier idea of tossing Aya onto the bed. Instead, he watched Aya pull on his boxers and yukata before he reluctantly finished getting dressed himself, pulling on his own boxers and tying the yukata closed.

When Aya picked up a comb, Yohji quickly snatched it from him. "Here, let me help you with that." Tugging Aya over to the bed, he sat his lover down in front of him and started to work through the tangled crimson strands. "How can you stand it being this long? It’s gonna take a couple of minutes to work out all the knots."

"I usually braid it at night." Aya tilted his head backwards. "I guess… I’ve gotten used to it over the years. It would probably feel weird if I cut it all off."

Yohji wasn’t sure that he liked the idea of Aya with short hair, even if he was having trouble getting it untangled. Aya had looked so gorgeous last night, astride his lap with his hair falling down around the two of them. Yohji would just have to make sure that it was braided before they fell asleep from now on, although it was nice to sit here and brush the silky strands. Asuka’s hair had been short, and she hadn’t liked it when he played with it. Not like Aya obviously did, considering the way he was humming contentedly and leaning against him.

Yohji continued to comb the silky hair a minute or two after he worked out all the knots. Then he separated the thick mass into three strands and started to braid it. When he was done, he handed the end to Aya and kissed him on the neck. "There you go."

Aya leaned back far enough for another brief kiss on the lips, before sighing and getting to his feet. "Let’s get breakfast over with, why don’t we?" he asked as he grabbed a hair tie off his dresser.

"You make it sound like such a chore," Yohji teased as he got up and once more followed Aya. Gods, he really did enjoy the view from back here. He’d gladly follow Aya anywhere, he thought with a leer.

"We’re about to have breakfast with Kikyou and Tsubaki, Yohji." Aya didn’t sound happy at the idea. "It’s not going to be a treat, I know that much." A scowl settled over his face as he walked out of the room.

Yohji remembered Aya saying that Kikyou wouldn’t care about him cheating on Hiro, and had to wonder who exactly the older man was. Aya didn’t seem worried about his friends knowing about them, which was a good thing since they’d probably heard them last night, but he suddenly felt nervous. What were these men going to do that had Aya so unhappy about seeing them? He recalled the cold look Kikyou had given him during their first meeting, and wondered if they could just skip breakfast.

Aya came to a halt before the bathroom, and pushed Yohji down the hallway when he also stopped. "You go ahead, I’ll just be a minute," Aya told him as he stepped inside the room and closed the door. Yohji stared at it for a moment before taking a deep breath and heading for the kitchen. He squared his shoulders as he walked into the bright room.

And was immediately greeted by the sight of a man who managed to top him by a good three inches, and who had to weigh twice as much as he did. The large man, who appeared about Kikyou’s age, glared down at him. This had to be the other friend Aya had mentioned, the one named Tsubaki who could dangle him over the balcony. Why hadn’t Aya told him that Tsubaki was a sumo wrestler?

"Uhm, hi. I’m Kudoh Yohji. You must be Tsubaki." He nervously bowed and seriously considered returning to the bathroom to wait for Aya. And it wouldn’t be running away, it would be a strategic retreat. He didn’t want to be dangled anywhere.

The giant grunted and the massive arms that had been folded on top of his barrel chest reached out and grabbed Yohji by the front of his yukata with both hands. "I’ll only say this once. Hurt him and I’ll take you to the top of Tokyo Tower and throw you off. Are we clear?"

"Yeah, perfectly." Yohji stared into the man’s dark brown eyes and hoped he wasn’t breaking into a sweat from the threat. He was going to kill Aya for making him come in here by himself. "I won’t hurt him." Gods, he’d never gotten this treatment over any of his dates before, not even Asuka, and her father had *hated* him.

A slender hand suddenly appeared and patted one of Tsubaki’s. "You can let go of him now. Aya will be here soon, and he won’t appreciate seeing you doing this." Kikyou glanced away from Tsubaki and treated Yohji to another of his cold looks. "He’s perfectly serious, you know. He cares for Aya, and doesn’t want to see him hurt."

Yohji didn’t doubt it. Grateful to find himself released, he shakily made his way to the table and sat down. Only to stare suspiciously at the mug of coffee that Kikyou placed before him. There had been a look in the longhaired man’s eyes back there that suggested that Tsubaki wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to see Aya hurt.

"Oh relax, it’s not poisoned." Kikyou sat down beside him while Tsubaki, who was now sporting an apron covered with smiling cats, headed for the stove. Kikyou had a cup of coffee in his hand, and as if to prove his point, took a sip. "Aya would be upset with us if we did away with his lover without just cause." His eyes sparkled in good humor. "So be sure you don’t give us any, because I don’t want to make him upset."

"No, but you’ll still throw me off a building if I do anything bad to him, won’t you?" Yohji muttered before having a sip of his own. The coffee was good.

Kikyou waved airily. "That’s only if you hurt him or cause him any trouble. Treat him as he deserves, and we’ll be your best friends." He smiled as he tossed back his long hair and leaned closer to Yohji. "I noticed you didn’t deny being his lover."

While Yohji sat there wondering if he’d let something slip that he shouldn’t, and if Aya would be pissed at him because of it, Aya snorted and walked into the room. "As if you had any doubt, Kikyou. You probably stayed up all night listening to us." He glared at his friend as he sat down at the table, only pausing for a second before choosing the empty seat next to Yohji.

Kikyou laughed and sat back in his chair. "I even fetched a glass from the kitchen to hear you better. My, my, quite steamy." He fanned himself and laughed again. "Heh, you should see your faces right now."

Yohji and Aya glared in unison. "Did you like what you heard?" Yohji snapped.

"I give you a B+ for stamina, considering how drunk you both were, and an A for effort. You sounded very pleased with yourselves. I might judge you better next time if you provide me with video footage. Wouldn’t that be lovely?" Kikyou leered as he drank his coffee.

Torn between wanting to hit the man and laughing, Yohji shook his head and drank more of his coffee. Beside him, Aya was muttering something about all the insane people he had to put up with, but it was kind of hard to understand him since his hands covered his face. Without thinking, he reached out and tucked back a strand of hair that had escaped the braid, and Aya tilted his head towards the caress. Yohji smiled and rubbed his thumb along the tip of Aya’s ear.

Tsubaki chose that moment to set a bowl of miso soup down in front of him, and as Yohji looked away from Aya he found both of the older men gazing at him, apparently with approval. Kikyou even lifted his mug as if in a salute before setting it down on the table.

"This looks great, Tsubaki. I’m starving." Kikyou picked up the bowl of soup and looked at Aya. "How do you feel this morning? As bad as yesterday?"

Aya rubbed his eyes as he lifted his head. "Not so much," he said as he reached for his bowl. "But I don’t think I want much more than soup for breakfast."

"I’ll take whatever it is that smells so good," Yohji commented as he tried the soup. It was tasty, with lots of mushrooms and scallions in it. He was used to dealing with hangovers after years of serious drinking, and this one wasn’t too bad. He began to massage the back of Aya’s neck with his free hand while he ate, slowly getting used to the idea that he could touch Aya in front of these men. It felt so good to be able to show his affection, and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to do that often in front of an audience.

A plate of fish was set down on the table. "Then help yourself." Tsubaki sat down opposite of him, a slight frown on his face, but it soon smoothed out as he looked at Aya. "Oh, I forgot your tea." He left the table and returned with a pot of tea and a cup.

Breakfast was a quiet affair, and Kikyou finally seemed minded to behave while Aya nursed his tea and soup. Tsubaki played the gracious host, constantly refilling everyone’s bowls and mugs, and he proved to be a pretty good cook. Not as good as Aya, though, and Yohji got a smile when he tried to get his lover to promise to cook tomorrow morning.

"Maybe if I hide all the liquor you’ll feel up to cooking tomorrow," he teased after finishing the last of the fish.

Aya rested an elbow on the table and his chin on his upheld hand. "Wasn’t the point of all those lessons was for you to start cooking?"

"Yeah, well you do it so much better than I can, why would I want to mess with that?" One of Yohji’s hands drifted beneath the table and settled on Aya’s knee. "I’ll treat you to dinner tomorrow if you do. Just the two of us at whatever restaurant you pick. How does that sound, hmmm? Good enough to get me some more bacon and French toast?"

"I hate to tell you this, but we’ll still be in town tomorrow, so if you’re hoping to avoid taking all of us out to dinner by waiting until then, you’re out of luck," Kikyou dryly commented as he began to stack the dirty plates. "Tsubaki and I come with Aya while we’re here. Think of us three as a matching set."

Yohji rolled his eyes and gave Aya’s thigh a squeeze. "I hadn’t thought about you two still being here. While it would be wonderful to have Aya all to myself for dinner, I was thinking more along the lines of when I have the time to go out. I… have to work this evening." He felt Aya stiffen beside him, and didn’t want to turn around and see the expression on his lover’s face. "Just how long are you staying, anyway?" he asked as a distraction.

Kikyou’s eyes grew cold as they shifted back and forth between him and Aya. "Just another couple of days, and then we’ll be on our way." He looked at Aya. "I talked to Mamoru last night, and Tsubaki and I are going to give up sleeping on your floor, as comfortable as it is, and stay at the estate." He appeared amused at something. "Reiji’s just going to love finding out about us spending some time there. I’ll be able to hear him grinding his teeth all the way in Kyoto."

"You’re more than welcome to stay here," Aya said quietly.

"Don’t worry, we’ll spend most of our days with you, we’ll just sleep in real beds at night." Kikyou winked at him. "And drink all of Reiji’s brandy." That got a smile from Aya.

Yohji felt as if he was missing something here, subtext that Aya and Kikyou didn’t need to say out loud for them to understand each other. Feeling uncomfortably at a loss, Yohji reluctantly pushed back his chair and stood up. He was reminded that he’d only known Aya a few months, and that there was so much that he didn’t yet know about his lover, even with his investigations. "Thanks for the great breakfast, but I need to get going now." He’d leave Aya alone with his friends.

Aya rose to his feet and bowed slightly at Tsubaki. "Thank you for breakfast. I’ll be back in a minute to clean up."

"It’s not a bother, Aya," Tsubaki calmly told him. "You cooked dinner last night, and let us stay here. We’ll tend to the dishes. You should go lay down again, you still look tired." Tsubaki patted Aya on the shoulder and then carried the dishes to the sink. Aya watched him for a couple of seconds before looking at Yohji and motioned towards the doorway.

They were quiet as they headed back to the bedroom so Yohji could collect his keys and wallet, which he tucked inside his yukata. "Aya… I… I’m sorry about having to work." Nothing like having the reality of their lives suddenly intrude on their happiness. When Aya didn’t say anything, he sat down on the bed and pulled his quiet lover onto his lap. "I really am. Is this…. Is it going to be a problem?" He sincerely hoped it wouldn’t be. He couldn’t give this up, not after wanting Aya so much and for so long.

Aya traced along Yohji’s jaw with his finger and then sighed as he looked him in the eye. "I won’t say that it isn’t a problem. I… I don’t like the idea of sharing you, Yohji." He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against Yohji’s shoulder.

Massaging Aya’s neck, he pressed a kiss against Aya’s ear. "I don’t want to share either. It’s going to kill me when Hiro comes back." Aya tensed at the mention of his lover. "But I just can’t quit. Even if I had the money, people would wonder why I wasn’t working anymore."

"I know. It still hurts, though." Aya nuzzled his neck before looking up at him, his expression serious. "Yohji, did you use a condom last night? I… I know I didn’t have one to give you, but…."

It suddenly rushed back to him, the thought that something was missing, and how good it had felt to be inside Aya, how different. For the first time in over two years he hadn’t used any protection during sex. "Fuck." When Aya started to frown, he quickly caressed his lover’s cheek. "No, don’t worry, I’m clean. I always use protection with my clients, and I get tested every month." Then he wondered how he was supposed to ask Aya if he was clean, too.

"Hmmm." Aya kissed him gently on the lips. "I believe you. I’ve never used protection with Hiro, but… he swears to me that he doesn’t sleep with anyone else, and I don’t think he’s lying about that." Aya’s face darkened. "I’ve been tested a couple of times, just to see, and they’ve always come back negative." He closed his eyes and rubbed them with his hand. "Never thought that I might be the one to pass something on to him."

"Don’t, Aya." Yohji pulled the hand down and kissed Aya. "Don’t think that. We’ll use protection from now on, and we’ll both stay clean. Don’t worry about Hiro. You can’t tell me you love him, or that you’d be with him if…." He almost mentioned Aya’s father, but stopped in time. "You wouldn’t be here, acting like his little wind-up doll, if you were in a real relationship with him."

"No." Aya smiled sadly as he shook his head. "However, if he isn’t sleeping with anyone else, suddenly catching a STD would make him very suspicious. We need to take more precautions from now on, Yohji. If we’re going to make this work, we have to think things through."

At least Aya was talking about how to make this work and not trying to end things. Yohji kissed his lover again, slow and deep, trying to express his joy at that fact. Aya hugged him close as the kiss stretched on, until they both became aroused. He forced himself to pull away, panting as he did, and couldn’t help but groan at the sight of Aya, his lips swollen and wet, his eyes heavy lidded with desire. "Gods, I want you so much. If that pervert wasn’t out there…." He waggled his brows for effect.

That helped to dispel Aya’s dark mood. "I’d never get him to leave, then." He bent forward for a quick kiss before sliding off Yohji’s lap. "You need to get going."

"I know, dammit." He stood up and pulled Aya to him for a hug, luxuriating in the feel of Aya pressed against him. "I’ll see myself out. Why don’t you get some more sleep? You really do look like you need it. If Ayumi saw you with those circles under your eyes, she’d have my head for keeping you up all night. I’m rather attached to my head, you know. Both of them."

Aya hit him softly in the ribs and pushed back, but there was a real smile on his face now. "Then go. I’m going to stop by and see her this afternoon, so I need some rest before then." He brushed his thumb along Yohji’s chin. "You need to shave. I’ll see you tomorrow for breakfast."

Yohji wanted to tell him that he’d see him before that, but he knew that he couldn’t stay with Aya all the time, and that his lover had friends he wanted to spend time with. He also wanted to say that he’d stop by later tonight, but didn’t think Aya would appreciate him coming to his bed after spending the evening in someone else’s. "Okay, I’ll be here at ten." There was another brief kiss before he reluctantly walked away. "I’ll pick up my clothes then."

It was so hard to leave, especially when he became worried that once he left Aya would come to his senses and never let him back in. He forced himself to leave the apartment anyway. He found Kikyou waiting for him by the front door. He actually smiled at Yohji, with no coldness in the expression this time, and opened the door for him.

"I’ll see you, Yohji."

Smiling himself at the informality, he nodded his head. "Tomorrow, from the sounds of it. I’ll be coming over for that breakfast, after all."

*******

Ayumi gazed at Aya over the rim of her cup. She slowly sipped the hot tea as she noticed how he fidgeted with his cup instead of drinking, his eyes downcast and his body tense. "Is something wrong, Ayan? Would you prefer something other than tea?"

He shook his head and had a sip of his drink. "No, I’m fine. Besides, I need to save some room for dinner tonight. Kikyou, Tsubaki and Mamoru and I are going to Sakaki’s."

She traced her finger over the floral design on the porcelain cup. "Another night out? My, you’ve been busy these past couple of days. Speaking of which, did you have a nice night out with Kikyou?"

His shoulders twitched at her question, and the tea sloshed in his cup, almost spilling onto his beautiful kimono. Aya usually wasn’t so clumsy. "It was fun. We went dancing."

Now that was a rather non-committal answer. She waited to see if he would elaborate, as he usually did about his nights out with Kikyou, but he just stared at his teacup. Something had happened, and she wanted to know what. It might have to do with how quiet he’d been all afternoon, and why he wasn’t looking at her.

"Did you run into someone you knew while you were out? Or did you have too much to drink?" Her eyes narrowed when Aya set his teacup down and tucked his hands into the sleeves of the grey kimono he was wearing. "Ayan?"

"I did have a little too much to drink, but I didn’t run into anyone I knew." He paused for a moment and then continued. "Kikyou invited Yohji to go with us, and he had a little too much to drink as well."

"Ah." That didn’t explain what had Aya so tense. He usually was happy to spend a night out with Yohji. "That’s two nights in a row you’ve been drinking with him. Speaking of that, how was the other night?" She leaned forward and winked at him. "Did he give you a present? Was it very extravagant?"

"Yes, he did." It was hard to tell with the way Aya’s hair fell onto his down-turned face, but she swore she saw a hint of a smile. "It’s a very pretty statue. You’ll have to come over and see it." Then the smile vanished and he tucked back his bangs. "I don’t know how I’m going to explain it to Hiro, though. Maybe as something that Kikyou bought while he was in town."

That told her that the statue had to be big or expensive, maybe even both, and Aya liked it enough to not hide it from his lover. "So, you’ve received a very nice statue for a present, went out drinking last night and had too much, along with Yohji, who for some reason Kikyou invited along." She set her tea down. "I have many questions about all the things you’re leaving out, but I fear I won’t get any answers." She pouted as she tapped her bottom lip. "Would some sponge cake loosen that tongue of yours? You’re being even more quiet than usual today, and that worries me. I expected you to be full of stories about your two nights of celebration, not to barely say ten words to me."

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion as she moved in for the kill. "What’s happened since dinner the other night?" She wasn’t going to rest until she found out what Aya was hiding from her. They’d never had secrets from each other before, and she wouldn’t tolerate them now. Especially when this one appeared to weigh so heavily on him.

She stared at him, willing him to speak, and after a moment of silence he lifted his head and graced her with a small, sad smile. "You wouldn’t believe me if I told you nothing, would you?"

"No." She felt like snorting at the silly thought.

"All right. You’ll find out eventually, I guess." He took a deep breath and hugged his arms tight against his chest. "Yohji and I… we’re lovers."

Ayumi couldn’t help it, she let out a cry of joy and clapped her hands. "Oh, Ayan! Truly?" She reached forward and grabbed his arms, pulling them away from his chest and out of the silk sleeves so she could squeeze his hands. "This isn’t a joke, is it? I’ll be very cross if you’re trying to trick me or lying."

Aya shook his head, and she wasn’t pleased to observe that the sad smile had returned. He freed a hand and lightly tapped her on the nose. "Why did I know you’d be happy about the news?" he asked quietly. "No, it isn’t a joke." His smile faded. "It’s actually happening."

She released his other hand and patted his cheek. "Oh, why are you sad? You should be happy. You’ve found someone to love." She tucked a lock of his hair behind his ear. "You do love him, don’t you?" She’d never thought Aya the type to casually take a lover.

He sighed and nodded his head the slightest bit. "I think I do. He surely confuses me enough for it to be love." He grasped her hand between his and lowered it to the table. "But this isn’t so good, Ayumi. Hiro will be furious if he ever finds out, and I don’t want to think of what he’d do to Yohji if that happens. Or to you and my sister."

"Tsk, nonsense, Aya." When he frowned at her Ayumi tapped him on the temple and shook her head. "No, listen to me for a moment. I won’t say that Yohji wouldn’t be in danger if Hiro finds out. But don’t you worry about your sister or me for one moment. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself," she offered him a tender smile as she stroked his cheek. "As for your sister, she’s safely out of the country, and if he cuts off the money to her, he has no hold over you."

Aya considered that for a moment and then picked up his teacup. "But Yohji is still in danger." As was he, but neither of them appeared willing to discuss what Hiro would do to Aya if he found him with another man. She closed her eyes and wished to the gods that such a thing never happened.

"I’ve pointed that out to him, but he doesn’t seem to care." Aya cradled the fragile cup between his hands and glared at it. "I’m in love with a fool."

"Ayan, shame." She lightly smacked his arm, making him look at her. "Yohji’s obviously decided that you’re worth the danger. I always thought he was smart."

Aya gave her a sour look and held out his cup to be refilled. "You’re not taking this very seriously."

"Oh, but I am." She refilled his and then her own. "I know you’re both taking a huge risk, and I promise to do all I can to help you keep things a secret. But I think the benefits far outweigh the risk. You have someone to love now, Aya. Someone who, I’m sure, cares just as much for you as you do him." Now she wouldn’t see him grow colder, less filled with life with each passing month. "I won’t have to worry about you so much anymore."

He gave her an odd look and sipped his tea. When he finished, he shook his head. "I don’t understand you, Ayumi. Love doesn’t conquer all, you know."

"No, but it keeps you sane. I know this for a fact, Aya." She’d seen it with the geisha and courtesans she’d grown up with. If you had someone you loved, and even better, who loved you back, it gave you the strength to face the hardships. That was in part why she’d given up such a promising career to become Natsuo’s mistress, even when she knew he really didn’t love her. Why she’d borne him a child and gave it to him to raise, because it made him so happy. Love had brought her pain, but she’d survived when many of her sisters hadn’t.

"I’d think you mean it makes you insane," he sighed. "I still can’t believe I’m doing this. Or even telling you about it." He ran a hand through his hair. "I think I’ve finally lost it."

"Then why do you mind?" Ayumi flashed him a wicked grin. "If you’ve gone insane, revel in it. Do whatever makes you happy."

He sighed again and shook his head, but a genuine smile tugged on his lips. "You are a very bad influence on me. Aren’t you supposed to be the voice of wisdom?"

"Wisdom, not logic," she chided him. "There’s a difference, Ayan. And I’m telling you that you haven’t made a mistake in loving Yohji with all your heart. I don’t think he’ll let you down, or I would never have befriended him. Just please, be careful." It would break her heart if Hirofumi did find out and hurt Aya and Yohji.

Aya gave her a searching look. "Why do I get the impression that you set me up? Just why did you befriend Yohji?" She suddenly became interested in the folds of her kimono. "Ayumi…."

"You seemed so sad, Ayan." She glanced up at him, and her tone was quiet. "You seemed to care for so little, and then Yohji moved in. That was the first time I’d seen you take such a strong interest in a stranger, even if it was anger. If he’d continued to offend you, I wouldn’t have encouraged you to be friends, but he didn’t and appeared to be interested in you too. So…." She started to twist the hem of her kimono between her fingers. "I just gave you an excuse to be friends."

"And constantly invited us over for tea at the same time, and told all those stories about your friends who took lovers of their own." Aya’s voice steadily grew angrier. "Did you really have to meddle? So much can go wrong if we’re found out."

"You became lovers anyway," Ayumi pointed out, and Aya immediately deflated. He stopped glaring at her and looked down at the arrangement of flowers he’d brought her. "I’ll admit that was what I was hoping for, but there was only so much I could do. Obviously, it was something that the two of you wanted yourselves."

"Yes, it was." Aya hunched over as he rubbed his eyes. "What am I going to do?"

"Love him and be happy." She wished it were as simple as that. "Be careful, but don’t give up. I think this has happened for a reason, Aya. You two belong together."

"Hmmm." He took a deep breath and brushed back his bangs. "Well, if worse comes to worst, we can always throw ourselves off a bridge together, like star-crossed lovers."

"Don’t say things like that," she whispered. "It won’t come to that, I just know it. You’ll be happy with him."

"Maybe." Aya gently touched a petal of one of the irises in the arrangement. His voice was equally subdued. "I… hope so." He let go of the pale lavender blossom and smiled weakly at her. "Did you mention sponge cake?"

"Yes, I did. Let me go tell Kohmi to prepare some for us." She rose to her feet and smoothed down her kimono. Walking around the table, she paused by Aya and touched him on the top of his head. He looked up at her, and she smiled as she caressed his cheek. "It’ll be all right. You’ll make each other happy, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that nothing harms you. I promise." She’d use every ounce of her considerable influence to keep Aya and Yohji safe. Hirofumi might be a Takatori, but she’d been around as long as old Saijou, even longer if one only counted his days here in Tokyo. She had friends in places high enough to give both his son and grandson pause. She also knew enough secrets to cause the family considerable harm, and to mobilize others to her cause. The first rule of the geisha was silence, and she’d obeyed it all these years, careful never to reveal the secrets she’d learned over her career. She’d gladly break that rule for Aya.

She bent down and kissed him on the cheek. "I’ll be back in a minute. Then we’ll talk about this lover of yours and make sure that he’s treating you properly. I think I’ll have to make sure he knows how to treat my Ayan." Aya’s pale skin became suffused with a blush, causing her to laugh softly. "Don’t even think about leaving until you’ve satisfied my curiosity."

*******

Ken heaved a sigh of relief once he stepped out onto the roof. "It’s okay, it doesn’t look like many people decided to do their laundry this morning." He’d been worried about there being any lines left for them to hang their clothes on.

Yohji grunted as he dropped his full basket of wet laundry onto the roof. "It’s a bit muggy today. Probably take all damn day for the stuff to dry." He tugged at the blue sleeveless t-shirt he was wearing. "I’m breaking into a sweat just from standing here."

Ken reached down into his basket and after straightening back up tossed a clothespin at him. "Then the faster we hang our laundry the faster we can go back downstairs where it’s air conditioned, you wimp." He laughed as he caught the piece of wood Yohji threw back at him.

"Go to hell, Kenken," Yohji muttered. There was a smile on his face, however, so Ken knew his friend wasn’t really upset with him. In fact, Yohji had been in a pretty good mood all morning long. Even though Ken had clearly woken Yohji up from a nap with his offer to hang their laundry together, Yohji’d just smiled at him and hadn’t seemed to mind in the least.

Well, at least he was happy, Ken thought as he started to hang up the shirts. "As if hell would be interested in me when they have a prime catch like you to look forward to. Sloth’s one of the deadly sins, don’t you know that?"

"Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before." Yohji paused in pinning up his sheets to light a cigarette. "But then again, so is lust. Any religion that’s down on something that’s so much fun isn’t a religion of mine. I expect that I’ll just be reincarnated as a dog or something." He blew out some smoke and grinned. "Maybe even a fox."

"According to Mamoru that’s what you were in a past life," Ken joked. "That’s why you have green eyes. Some of your ‘foxiness’ stuck with you."

"Why, Kenken, I didn’t know you thought I was so foxy." Yohji sidled up to him and wrapped an arm around his waist. "My prayers have been answered." Yohji even went so far as to nuzzle his cheek.

Ken shoved Yohji away and laughed. "Get away from me, you pervert. Go find someone else to molest," he pretended to sneer as he adjusted the neck of his shirt.

Yohji’s eyes lit up and he chuckled. "Oh fine, toss aside a prime hunk of man like myself for the lucky boy who left that hickey on your neck." Ken could feel his face blush at mention of the mark Kase had given him. "What were you up to last night?"

"None of your damn business." He tossed one of the wet shirts at Yohji. It wasn’t often that Kase had a day off, so they hadn’t done much more than stay in bed all day. He was a little sore still from the sex, but it had been wonderful. Sometimes he worried that Kase didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore, considering how much he worked, but days like yesterday convinced him that Kase still cared.

"I think the lack of sex this week has made you even dumber than usual." Ken smiled to show Yohji that he was joking. "When do you go back to work?"

"Tonight." For the first time that morning Yohji’s smile slipped, just for a couple of seconds. "I think I got used to having the time off, even if I hurt like hell the first couple of days." He ran a finger over his healing cheek. "But I can’t deprive all those poor people of my presence any longer."

That resulted in another wet shirt being tossed Yohji’s way. "Get over yourself."

Yohji threw back the shirts. "You’re just upset because you know it’s true. Hell, that’s why you’re always bugging me to do laundry with you, just so you can bask in my gorgeous presence," he stated as he resumed hanging his laundry.

Ken snorted. "Yeah, that’s right. You’re on to my fiendish plot. I plan to woo you over a line of wet boxer shorts." He peered at the underwear that Yohji was hanging. "Which I guess is better than you hanging up g-strings."

"If I have to wear something that shows underwear lines, I do without," Yohji remarked as he tugged on a pair of wrinkled red boxers.

Ken gagged at the news. "Yohji, I don’t need to know anything about your underwear habits. Honestly." He shuddered as he reached into the basket and pulled out one of Kase’s dress shirts.

"Sorry, Kenken, I didn’t mean to get you all hot and bothered by the thought of my boxer-less body." Yohji gave him a sultry look as he stretched his arms over his head, causing his t-shirt to ride up his abdomen and his cutoffs to slide down his hips. "I’ll wear something tight all the time now, just for you."

Ken couldn’t resist it; he grabbed one of the wet towels from the basket and snapped Yohji right in the stomach. "Keep as many layers between your ass and me as possible," he calmly said as Yohji yowled in pain. "Oh, don’t be such a baby, I barely snapped you."

Yohji glared at him as he rubbed his stomach, which was now sporting a red welt. "You little fuck, I should have Tsubaki dangle *you* off the damn roof," he muttered.

"Who’s Tsubaki?" Ken hadn’t heard Yohji mention the name before. Was it one of his clients?

Yohji scowled at him a moment longer before reaching for something else to hang up. "He’s one of Aya’s friends. Big guy you don’t want to mess with, trust me on this."

"Oh, you mean the sumo guy," Ken said. He’d run into him a couple times, even up here once or twice. The man liked playing with Aya’s plants. "I’m surprised he’s not up here in Aya’s greenhouse." He remembered Aya mentioning having guests stay with him at dinner the other night, and should have known it would be those two.

Apparently finished hanging up his laundry, Yohji flipped over his basket and used it as a bench. "He likes flowers, too? Why am I not surprised?" He toyed with a strand of his hair. "So, do you know anything about him or his friend, Kikyou? What’s the deal with them?"

It seemed that no matter how close Yohji had gotten to Aya, the redhead was still pretty tightlipped about his private life, Ken thought. "I know they visit Aya every couple of months." He hung up the last of his clothes and sat down on the roof. He started to massage his calves, which were still a little sore from his morning jog. "From what I’ve heard, the big guy is the other one’s bodyguard. Kikyou is supposed to be Takatori Senior’s lover."

Yohji’s jaw dropped at that revelation. "No shit? Why is he so buddy buddy with Aya then? I get the impression that him and old Reiji don’t get along. That man has some serious balls, to have one lover hang out where another lives."

"No, I’m talking about Saijou, not Reiji," Ken said as he shook his head. At Yohji’s blank look he sighed. "Saijou is Reiji’s father."

"Oh, the old coot down in Kyoto." Yohji pulled another cigarette out of his pack, but didn’t light it. Instead, he rolled it between his fingers. "Gross. Isn’t that guy in his eighties?"

Ken made a face. "Yeah, I agree about that. It’s sick to think about getting it on with a guy that old. Maybe that’s why Kikyou comes here so often, to get away from the old fart."

"So, who is Kikyou?" Yohji asked again, his tone a little impatient. "Other than a very sick man?"

Ken had to smile at that comment. No way would he let an elderly pervert like Saijou paw him, or worse. "I think you should ask Ayumi if you really want to know." He held up his hand when Yohji opened his mouth. "Hang on, I’ll tell you what I know, but it’s not much. Ayumi probably knows more." There was always Aya, but they both knew better than to ask him. He hated gossiping, especially about anything to do with him.

"I heard someone say he used to be some rich guy’s son, down in Kyoto. There was a girl from there who lived here up until a year ago, and she said she swore that she saw him in the paper when she was younger. She couldn’t remember his last name, though."

Yohji chewed on the filter of his cigarette as he thought about that. "Hmmm. It would help if I had a name, but at least I know where he’s from. Still doesn’t explain how he ended up with the Takatoris."

Ken started to play with the laces of his shoe. "I’m sure Aya knows his name."

"Yeah, and he’ll be real happy to tell it to me," Yohji snorted. "You know, one of these days I’m gonna buy the drug that they have in spy movies that make people talk. Then I’m gonna tie Aya up and inject him with it."

Ken had to laugh at the image. "I don’t know, I think the shock of Aya talking for more than two minutes at a time might kill you. If that didn’t, he would once he got free."

That made Yohji smile. "Then I’d have to keep him tied up all the time then, wouldn’t I?" The expression changed into a leer. "Though I think I’d want him tied up in my bed. What fun I could have then." He winked at Ken. "Maybe that will help me get over the heartbreak of being turned down by a cruel jock who shall remain nameless."

"You better get used to being turned down," Ken told him. "Like I said, I don’t go for blonds."

"I can get hair dye real easily," Yohji teased. "Or Mamoru and I can double team you and convince you of the error of your ways. Once you go blond, you’ll never go back." Yohji winked at him, a saucy look on his face.

Ken groaned as he fell back onto the roof. "Great, now I have the image of you and Mamoru tying *me* to a bed. Gross." He shivered in mock horror. The image wouldn’t be too bad, if a certain chain-smoking blond was removed from it. "You’ve scarred me for life."

A toe nudged him in the side. "You know you want me, Kenken. They say the more you protest something, the more you’re in denial." Yohji sniffed as he rose to his feet. "I think I better invest in a bodyguard myself. One of these days you’re gonna snap and just ravish me wherever we happen to be. I’m not that easy, you know."

Thankfully, Ken was laughing too much over that bit of nonsense to tell Yohji just how easy he really was.

*******

Aya stepped into his living room to find Kikyou pacing back and forth. He’d finally escaped from Ayumi’s, and had hoped that his guests would have gone out for the day. It was just his luck to find Kikyou home and waiting for him.

"Aya! It’s about time you got back." Kikyou appraised Aya’s appearance, making him feel uncomfortable as he tugged on the hem of his grey kimono. "You look a little pale. Was tea with Ayumi that bad?" When he didn’t answer, Kikyou waved his hand. "Never mind. Come on, we’re going shopping."

"No, we’re not." Aya had had it with Kikyou dragging him to every store imaginable the last time he’d visited, and hadn’t planned on doing it again this trip. "You can go out with Tsubaki."

"He’s up in your greenhouse, and I know better than to think I’ll get him out of there before dinner." Kikyou grabbed him by his wrist and tugged on it. "Come on, we don’t have much time before we have to meet him and Mamoru."

Aya dug in his heels and shook his head. "I’m still tired, and I don’t need anything. You can go by yourself."

Kikyou let go of Aya’s wrist and crossed his arms over his chest. "It’s either go shopping with me or we discuss you having a lover," he said with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

"Let’s go," Aya sighed. As much as he hated shopping, that was one conversation he wanted to avoid. Especially after his tea with Ayumi. One in-depth discussion about his new relationship was more than enough.

Kikyou chuckled softly and headed for the door. There was a car waiting for them when they stepped out of the apartment building, one of the private Takatori vehicles. Aya recognized the driver as the man Hirofumi usually sent to pick him up or chauffeur him around when he needed it. Kikyou told the driver to head for one of the more expensive shopping districts near the apartment, causing Aya to wince. Reiji was not going to be pleased when he found out about this. First Kikyou and Tsubaki staying at his house, then the use of the car, and finally the bills from what Aya was sure was going to be yet another extravagant shopping spree.

They started off the spree at a ceramics store Kikyou fancied, and after spending some money there, they went to a bookstore. Aya was happy to buy several books, using the account that Hirofumi had set up for him. It would look suspicious if he didn’t buy anything while Kikyou was in town, he realized, so they went back to the ceramics store for a few items he’d noticed. They started browsing the shops along the street, but it was too hot and muggy out for them to do that for long. They picked a small café that had air conditioning and ordered some tea.

Once the waitress had left the table, Kikyou leaned over and smiled at Aya. "So, are you becoming so much of a lush that you need yet another sake set, or is that a gift for someone? Maybe a handsome blond who likes to drink?"

"Be quiet," Aya hissed, his gaze shifting around the small shop to see if anyone was close enough to them to have overheard the comment.

Kikyou sat back in his chair and laughed. "You’re paranoid, Aya. It’s safe to talk here, or else I’d never have said anything." The only patron near them was a young woman who was listening to something over headphones while she read a book.

"The deal was I went shopping with you and you’d be quiet about… that," Aya pointed out.

"I lied." Kikyou smiled and laughed again. "Come now, you should know me better than that. I’ll go easy on you, though. All I want to know is does he make you happy?"

Aya sipped his tea as he thought about the question, and Kikyou’s reasons for asking it. "Yes, he does. But why do you care? I’d thought that you’d be pleased about the situation, even if I was miserable."

His friend smiled sadly as he picked up his cup of tea. "That’s not true. While I’m ecstatic that you’re going after something you want, Hiro be damned, I want you to be happy. You’re one of only two friends I have, Aya."

That made Aya feel a little guilty for the uncharitable comment. "What about Shion?"

"It’s not quite the same." Kikyou sighed and tucked back his bangs, which had been falling onto his face. "We love each other, but we have so little time together, we don’t get much of a chance to be friends. You’re lucky in that regard."

That he wasn’t stuck living with Hirofumi, as Kikyou was with Saijou, Aya assumed. "It’s still dangerous, though."

Kikyou nodded. "Yes, it is, but I know you won’t do anything stupid. The only advice I’ll give you is not to get too cocky and become careless. I assume you told Ayumi today?"

"Yeah." Aya suddenly wasn’t in the mood for any more tea, and set his cup aside. "She said she’d help."

"Good. She’s got the staff at your place wrapped around her finger, so it’ll make things easier for you. All you’ll have to do is avoid starting any rumors, and never let Hiro walk in on you with Yohji." Aya rolled his eyes at that comment, and Kikyou’s good humor seemed restored. "Oh please, you forgot all about Tsubaki and I being there last night, and the whole floor could have walked through your apartment for all you knew or cared."

Aya blushed a little at that comment, which made him angry, either with himself or his friend, he couldn’t tell. "I was also a bit drunk, thanks to you."

"You’re welcome," Kikyou gleefully replied. "It’s not every day I help a friend find a boyfriend." Aya glanced around the café again, wishing he could shut Kikyou up. "Oh, relax."

"I would if you’d drop the topic," he gritted out. They attracted enough attention because of their looks, they didn’t need people staring at them after overhearing he was gay.

"He’s your…," Kikyou loudly drawled, "…friend." He laughed as Aya sighed and rubbed his eyes. "I just love it when you blush. Okay, I’ll save the discussion for another time. Not that you need it, I’m sure you’ve thought this through. Just know that if you want any advice, I’m here for you."

"There’s an old saying about not needing any enemies with friends like you," Aya grumbled as he rose from the table. "I think any advice you’d give me would just get me into more trouble."

"Ah, you know me so well." Kikyou pouted as he stood up, the expression lasting until they left the café to head back to where the car was waiting for them. "However, if we’re not going to talk about Yohji and you, that means we have lots more shopping to do. Dinner’s not for another two hours."

Aya stared at the passing cars and wondered if he could fling himself in front of one of them. As melodramatic as that thought was, it sure beat the hell out of the prospect of another hour or so of shopping with an amused Kikyou.

*******

Yohji fidgeted as Ayumi poured him some tea. "I don’t have much time right now, Ayumi. Can’t we skip the tea and you just tell me what’s wrong?" He’d been getting ready for his ‘date’ tonight when Ayumi had called him, all but begging for him to stop by for tea. He’d been ready to say ‘no’ when she told him that there was something troubling her, and she hoped that he could help her with her problem. Far be it for him to turn down a damsel in distress, especially one as important to him as Ayumi. Besides, Aya would kill him.

Ayumi didn’t appear upset about anything right now, though, which was a little suspicious. She looked lovely in a pale yellow kimono with white camellias, a gold and orange obi around her waist. She smiled at him and pushed a plate of sponge cake towards him. "Here, have some. It was hard to keep Aya from eating it all."

Yohji reached for one of the delicious treats. "Aya was here?"

"Yes, after lunch." Ayumi smiled as she picked up her cup of tea. "He spent some time with me before going out with Kikyou. That one is probably busy buying half of Tokyo as we speak." She giggled. "Poor Ayan, he hates shopping, but he goes along anyway. I foresee some gifts in our future, since he dislikes buying things for himself."

Suddenly not as interested in being able to stop for a bite to eat before seeing his client, Yohji shoved the last bite of the cake in his mouth and swallowed. He knew an opportunity when he saw one. "What’s the deal with Kikyou? Is he really Takatori Saijou’s lover?"

Ayumi tilted her head to the side and smiled mysteriously. "Hmmm, curious about Kikyou, are you? I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll tell you all I know about him, if you answer something truthfully for me."

Eager to find out something other than rumors about Aya’s friend, he nodded. "You got yourself a deal."

"Good." One minute Ayumi appeared utterly charming and as innocent as a young girl, and the next she was sitting up straight, her golden eyes flashing and narrowed. For a moment he was reminded of his father’s mother. "What are your intentions towards Aya?" When he could only stare at her, she tsked under her breath and set her cup down. "How do you truly feel about him? Come now, I know you’re lovers."

His mouth started to feel dry, and he realized that was because it was wide open in shock. He closed it and swallowed. "How…. Did Aya…?"

"He told me today." She adjusted a hairpin as she continued to gaze levelly at him. "I knew something had happened to him, and he wisely told me what that was. Now answer my questions."

"Gods, Ayumi." Yohji wiped his suddenly damp palms along his trousers. He knew Aya was close to Ayumi, but it was a bit much to find out like this that his lover had confided in her after all of Aya’s fears about them being discovered. Not that Yohji thought for a moment Ayumi would do anything to cause Aya harm, such as let their secret slip. However, he suddenly wasn’t so sure about himself.

"Yohji…." Her voice had taken on a sharp edge, and her eyes had narrowed even more.

Remembering that it wasn’t a good idea to piss this lady off, he swallowed again. "You want to know how I feel about Aya?" She nodded, and he decided to be completely honest. "I’m in love with him. Have been for a while, though I didn’t always know that." He met her gaze and held it. "I want to make him happy, and to make this work." He tried to smile at her, hoping to break up the serious mood. "You gonna throw me off a roof if I hurt him?"

"No," Ayumi replied coldly. "I’ve already told you what I’d do if you hurt Aya. Right now, I just want to make sure that you feel the same for Aya that he does for you." She continued to stare at him for a few more seconds, and then did another sudden change and smiled. "Some more cake?" She nudged the plate closer, once again the gentle and cultured woman Yohji was used to.

His throat suddenly feeling dry, he swallowed some tea before reaching for another piece of the delicious cake. Ayumi watched him as he ate, a smile on her face as she played with the handle of the fan tucked into her obi. "You know, so far this morning I’ve been threatened by a sumo wrestler wannabe and a guy who doesn’t appear to be wrapped too tight up here," he tapped the side of his head. "I’ve also had pointed out to me that a psycho with connections could make my life a living hell, assuming that he doesn’t kill me outright for sleeping with Aya. Yet a tiny woman scared me more than the rest of them put together. I thought you might like to know that."

Ayumi smiled at him and bowed her head before pouring them some more tea. "Thank you. I’ll do my best to make sure that their punishment pales before mine if you ever hurt Aya." She smiled again, her eyes soft and the expression tender. "Not that I think you will. Lovers." Setting the teapot down, she clasped her hands together and rested them in her lap. "I knew you two were meant for each other."

Gods, if Ayumi could scare him like that when he had her approval…. "I’m glad you’re on our side." He sipped his tea. "Did you threaten Aya about not hurting me?" Somehow Yohji wasn’t surprised when she shook her head.

"He’d never do something like that, Yohji." Ayumi glanced at the flowers on the table. "If he’s let you that close to him, he’d rather hurt himself than cause you the slightest pain. He gives all of himself to those he loves. I suspected that you feel the same about him, but had to make sure."

The thought of Aya loving him warmed Yohji through. Sounding amused, Ayumi laughed as she leaned over and patted his hand, the one that rested close to the plate of cakes. "That’s not to say you’re not special too, I’ve just worried about Aya for much longer than you. I don’t think you hold yourself back from your loved ones either, which is why the two of you are perfect together. You’re both-" She frowned as she fell silent for a couple of seconds. "Bah, I can’t think of the right word. You’re both so intense, but it’s more than that."

"We’re white chocolate cheesecakes," he smoothly told her, and had to laugh at the puzzled look on her face. He quickly told her about his conversation with Ken a couple weeks ago, and once she understood the reference, she laughed and agreed with him.

"Yes, you’re both so rich and decadent." She winked at him. "You’re two of a kind, that’s for certain." She squeezed his hand as her expression became serious. "Be happy, Yohji. You deserve that, I think. Both of you do."

Yohji patted her hand before reaching for the last slice of sponge cake. "I’ll try. It helps, though, knowing I’ve got you in my corner. Now I have someone to go to and cry on their shoulder when Aya’s mean to me." He pretended to sniff back a tear before popping the cake in his mouth. "Though I’m not sure you’d care, seeing as I only get Aya’s leftovers."

"Silly kitsune." Rather quickly for someone her age, Ayumi grabbed her fan from her obi and lightly tapped him on the nose with it. "I’ll offer you dinner, which I didn’t do with Aya. Will that make you feel better?"

Yohji checked his watch before he decided. "If it’ll be ready soon, I’d love to stay and eat with you. I have to see someone at eight, though." He wasn’t in the mood to deal with a client tonight. All he wanted was to stay at home and wait for Aya to return from dinner with his friends, then spend the night with him. Not some woman who would bore him within the first half hour of their ‘date’.

"It should be ready soon, and I’m sure that Kohmi made more than enough for you to join us." She poured the last of the tea. "Yohji, try and not let your… work destroy what you and Aya have. I’ve seen that happen before, when a geisha or courtesan’s lover couldn’t handle the fact of her clients. Aya doesn’t love Hiro, and I doubt you feel that strongly about your clients." Then she picked up her tea, a faint blush on her cheeks as she bent her head over the small cup. "I… I don’t mean to meddle, but please take that advice to heart."

"I will." He hadn’t thought about Hirofumi. While Aya hadn’t seemed happy about Yohji having to work tonight, he hadn’t thought that soon it would be his turn to sit at home and know the man he loved was with someone else. Someone who thought they owned Aya. Somehow that felt much worse than if Aya was with a different stranger each night. Yohji’s clients were just that, people who he did a service for. He felt some mild affection for a few of them, but if he never saw them again he’d do nothing more than wonder about them from time to time. Hirofumi, on the other hand, was with Aya as much as possible, and some part of Yohji saw the man as a rival.

Which was an utterly ridiculous thought. Aya didn’t love Hirofumi. "If we both can come far enough to admit we care about each other and act on those feelings, I won’t let jealousy ruin things for us now," Yohji told Ayumi, reassuring her as much as himself. "We’ll manage, somehow."

She regarded him for a few seconds, and then nodded. "Good. I’d hate to have to point out how stupid the two of you are, if you did let something like that come between you." After drinking her tea, she set the cup down and graced him with an utterly charming smile. "It’s my turn to talk now, isn’t it?"

He smiled as he waved his finger at her. "Yes, you naughty girl, it’s time for you to pay up. Who’s Kikyou, and why is he involved with the Takatoris and Aya?" Yohji hated to admit it, but he actually felt a little jealous of the older man. It was clear that Aya regarded him with some fondness, considering how relaxed and open he was when around him.

"Of course I don’t know his complete story, but I know some of it." Ayumi placed her fan back in her obi. "His grandmother was a princess before the Occupation." Yohji’s eyebrows shot up at that bit of news. He didn’t see how someone related to the Imperial family, even if distant enough to have been stripped of their title by the American occupational government’s decree, had ended up as a kept man.

Ayumi continued after letting that bit of news sink in. "Yes, I was surprised to find that out as well. His mother married an industrialist after she lost the title, but his company slowly declined over the years. He’d been too strongly tied to the military during the war, and was frowned upon by the new government, and received few contracts from them. By the time Kikyou and his sister were born, the family had very little money left. Kikyou even joined the police as a detective to support himself and his sister.

"They still had their lineage, though, and even if they were poor, they were still part of Kyoto’s elite social circles." Ayumi paused for a moment, her face sad. "It was at a party some of their wealthy friends held that his sister was killed. She’d… it was a tragedy." She covered her mouth with her hand and shook her head.

Yohji tucked back his hair. The poor girl’s death must have been terrible for Ayumi to react like this. "Did they ever find out who did it?"

Ayumi sighed and shook her head again. "No, or at least they never prosecuted anyone. I hear Kikyou almost drove himself mad trying to find her killers, and was suspended from his job. Not long after that, several young men from prominent Kyoto families were found dead, often as a result of a terrible accident." She paused again, as if reluctant to continue. "This is around the time my sources tell me that Kikyou became Takatori Saijou’s lover."

Kikyou’s sister had been murdered, and he’d been unable to find her killers. Then men who could have been at the party the night she’d been killed ended up dead, and Kikyou became the lover of a very powerful man. Yohji didn’t think he needed any more information to figure out what had happened. "So he sold himself to the old fart because of his sister? To get revenge for her?" Yohji was beginning to understand the bond between Kikyou and Aya. Both of them had become Takatoris’ lovers because of a beloved sibling.

"That’s how it appears," Ayumi agreed. "Aya and Kikyou became friends shortly after Aya moved in here. Hiro had taken Aya to Kyoto with him for a week, where he met Kikyou. From what I gather, they recognized their similarities almost instantly. Their friendship has been a great comfort to Aya, and Kikyou genuinely cares for him." She smiled a little as she reached over to pat Yohji’s arm. "However, I’ve never known them to be more than friends. One could even say they’re like brothers."

"I’m very glad to hear that," Yohji replied, though he wondered if he was so obvious about his jealousy. He was very glad he’d come to tea. Now he knew why Aya and Kikyou were so close. This conversation also explained why Kikyou was encouraging their relationship. He was probably living vicariously through Aya’s affair.

Ayumi suddenly clapped her hands, shaking Yohji from his thoughts. "Now what do you say to us going to the kitchen so you can work your wiles on Kohmi and possibly speed up dinner? I want to make sure you have something to eat tonight. You’re too skinny to be skipping meals."

He pushed aside his teacup and rose to his feet. Once standing, he bowed low to Ayumi. "I think that’s a lovely plan. Just be sure and not to tell Kohmi about Aya and me, or her poor heart will break." He winked at Ayumi as he lent her a hand in standing up. "I think she really, really likes me. She keeps saying that she’s gonna take me home and properly feed me until I fatten up."

Ayumi laughed and poked him in the ribs. "I wish her good luck. Somehow I imagine you’d find a way to burn off all that food, and that Kohmi wouldn’t mind in the least," she teased.

He winked again and led Ayumi to the kitchen. "Yes, but I’d be a very happy, skinny man."

*******

Aya had just put on a pot of coffee when he heard his front door open and close. He glanced in surprise at the clock, not having expected Yohji for another half hour. He hadn’t started anything for breakfast other than the coffee. Yet his lover came walking into the kitchen, dressed in blue sweatpants and a large, grey t-shirt.

"You’re here a little early. The coffee’s not even done," Aya said as he drank in the sight of Yohji. It wasn’t right for someone to look so adorable and sexy while that sloppy and tousled, but Yohji managed. Aya smiled tiredly at him and motioned towards the kitchen table. "Just give me some time to make breakfast."

Instead of sitting down, Yohji walked over to Aya and hugged him tightly. Then he was thoroughly kissed, Yohji’s mouth insistent and tasting of toothpaste. Despite feeling tired from not getting much sleep last night, he eagerly kissed back, his arms tight around Yohji’s shoulders.

After a few minutes Yohji pulled back. "Gods, you don’t know how scared I was that I’d find the door locked this morning," he said as he held Aya’s face between his hands.

"I thought maybe you’d have changed your mind overnight, or something."

Aya hadn’t, even though he’d only gotten a couple of hours of sleep because he’d spent most of the night worrying about his new relationship with Yohji, and his lover being off with someone else. When he had managed to sleep, he’d suffered terrible nightmares. "I didn’t."

"Good." Yohji brushed his thumb along Aya’s lips, the touch gentle yet making Aya’s skin tingle with pleasure. It was getting hard to think with Yohji standing so close, smelling of cloves and mint. Aya’s fingers ached to try and tame some of the unruly blond locks that were sticking up all over Yohji’s head. Giving in to the impulse, he combed them through his lover’s thick hair, enjoying the feel of the soft strands against his fingers. Yohji stared at him until he was done, and then bent forward for another kiss.

This was even more passionate than the previous one, making Aya shiver with pleasure and lust as Yohji’s tongue flicked against his. Warm hands slid along Aya’s body, around his sides and down his back to his ass. They clenched against his flesh and pulled him forward against Yohji’s body.

Aya found all thoughts of breakfast fleeing from his mind at the feel of Yohji’s erection pressing against him. He moaned softly and clutched his lover’s shoulder, overwhelmed by the surge of lust that washed through him. It weakened and amazed him, made him sag against Yohji and revel in the increased contact between them. His own cock started to grow hard as Yohji’s hips rocked against his, and his fingers threaded through the hair they’d just combed.

Despite his wish to continue the kiss, after a few minutes Yohji groaned and broke it off. "Aya," he panted as he shifted backwards, "…fuck breakfast."

"Mmmm, I agree," Aya practically purred as he closed the distance between them, nipping at Yohji’s throat as he thrust his hips forward. "Fuck me instead." He’d been worried that the desire he’d felt for Yohji the other night had been strongly fueled by alcohol, but here he was sober and wanting nothing more than to feel Yohji’s body on top of his, pressing deep inside him until he shattered with pleasure. If anything, the emotion was even stronger this time, so eager he was to experience that bliss again.

*******

Yohji groaned at Aya’s words, unable to believe for a moment that Aya wanted him just as much as he did his lover. He’d intended to come here for breakfast and spend as much time with his lover as he could, to let Aya set the pace in this relationship so he wouldn’t think that all Yohji wanted from him was sex, but…. The sight of Aya, his hair pulled back in a low ponytail save for tendrils that framed his face and side of his neck, dressed in a silvery grey yukata that highlighted his pale skin and brilliant coloring…. It had been too much, and Yohji had reacted without any thought other than being inside that beautiful body again, making Aya cry out his name in pleasure.

Now Aya and he were stumbling towards the bedroom, reluctant to stop touching and kissing each other even though it would help get them to the room much faster. His hands slid inside Aya’s yukata, stroking along soft skin and firm muscles and earning one of the moans he adored to hear. Aya looked so damn sexy as he threw his head back when Yohji’s fingers teased one of his nipples, and Yohji couldn’t resist sucking on the pale column presented to him. As his mouth fastened to Aya’s neck, he realized dazedly that he hadn’t taken the time to shave this morning. He could hear the rasp of his stubble along Aya’s skin.

Luckily they made it to the bed before they fell down on the floor, as clumsy as they were at the moment, but it had been close. As much as he wanted to untie the belt holding Aya’s yukata closed, Yohji couldn’t make his hands leave his lover’s body. They continued to stroke and tease pale skin until Aya gasped in pleasure, his eyes closed and his lips parted. Yohji, lying on the bed with Aya sprawled on top of him, lifted his head and devoured the panting mouth, savoring the feel and taste. Aya was so addictive that he just couldn’t control himself, and he vaguely wondered how he’d managed to keep from fucking his friend for as long as he had. He should have been doing this months ago.

"You’re so fucking sexy," he growled against Aya’s lips, watching as violet hued eyes slowly drifted open at the words. Passion swirled in their depths as Aya gazed back at him, crimson bangs falling onto his damp forehead. Yohji skimmed his hands down his lover’s back and beneath the silk boxers Aya wore, gently kneading the luscious flesh he found there. "I want you so much."

"I’m yours." Aya’s tongue flicked out and ran along his lips. "Fuck me. I want it. I want you." He rocked his hips against Yohji’s, making them both groan. "Fuck me hard," Aya purred. "I want to feel all of you as deep inside me as possible."

It was strange, but instead of turning him on like dirty talk usually did, this time it left Yohji feeling oddly hollow and hurt. He’d never imagine refined, distant Aya talking to him like this, calmly telling him how he wanted to be fucked. It almost sounded… rote.

He swallowed and let his head fall back onto the bed as something unpleasant occurred to him. "Do you talk to Hiro like that, Aya?" As much as he hated to ask that question, and though each word made his desire weaken, he had to know. That bastard Hiro already had so much of Aya, Yohji wasn’t going to let him dictate how *they* were going to have sex.

His suspicions were confirmed when Aya’s eyes went wide with shock. His lover was still for a moment, and then suddenly tried to pull away from him, his eyes averted. Yohji held on to Aya tightly, refusing to let go, and they both ended up sitting on the bed, Aya still struggling to get away but not trying to hurt him.

"Let me go, Yohji. I don’t… leave me the hell alone." Aya’s voice sounded frantic, but beneath it was an emptiness that frightened Yohji. He’d expected anger, not that. He didn’t know how to handle having made Aya feel so hollow.

"Aya, shhh, it’s okay." He pulled Aya onto his lap and held on for all he was worth. "I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry."

Aya struggled for a few more seconds before going still in his arms. He rested his head against Yohji’s shoulder, his body tight with tension. When he thought it was safe to relax his hold, Yohji lifted a hand to comb through Aya’s thick hair, which had come loose during their struggle. "I’m sorry." He was such a damn idiot.

"No, you were right." Aya’s voice was thick with pain, and his arms snaked around Yohji’s chest, hugging him tightly. "I… that’s how he wants me to talk to him. To tell him how much I want him. It’s… it’s what I’m used to doing."

"You don’t have to do it with me." Yohji brushed back enough hair to expose Aya’s temple, which he gently kissed. "Please don’t pretend with me."

That made Aya move, and Yohji clutched him tightly for fear that he was trying to get away again. Instead, he only pulled back enough so he could glare at Yohji. "Do you think I was faking anything back there? That I’d planned to say that? I didn’t." His glare became even more intense. "Hiro’s the only man I’ve ever had sex with, Yohji. I haven’t had your amount of experience to go by to know what to do with one person and not another."

Feeling a little angry himself, Yohji returned the dirty look. "I don’t care if you talk dirty to me, Aya, just fucking know that it’s *me*. Don’t treat me like that bastard, like you’re fucking me because you have to. I may be the slut you called me the other day, but I know better than to treat my lovers as if they’re the same person."

Aya’s anger suddenly vanished at Yohji’s words, leaving him to appear vulnerable and so young. "I… I know it’s you. All I have to do is feel how much I want you, and I know you’re not Hiro." Aya ducked his head and rubbed his eyes. "I don’t think you’re a slut, I only called you that to make you angry enough to leave me alone. I want you, it’s just…."

"You’ve been with him for so long," Yohji finished for him. Aya had been Hiro’s lover for almost five years, keeping up an act for an amount of time Yohji would never have managed. He felt his anger melt away and shame replace it. "I’m sorry, Aya. I know you want me, it’s just that I can’t stand the thought of you doing something with me that he forces you to do. Don’t drag him in here with us." He sighed as he leaned forward slowly, until his lips met Aya’s. As gently as he could, he kissed his lover, intent on rebuilding the desire that had been there between them moments before.

Aya was reluctant at first, and took some coaxing to open his mouth. Once he did, Yohji fell back onto the bed, his lover held firmly against his chest. They just kissed for several minutes, keeping the pace slow as they regained their confidence. By now, Yohji didn’t so much want to finish what they’d started as to reassure Aya. He didn’t want the specter of Hiro looming between them since he’d been stupid enough to point out what Aya had inadvertently done.

He skimmed his hands down Aya’s back, feeling how tense his lover still was. When he slowly started to slide his fingers down the cleft of Aya’s ass, Aya broke off the kiss.

"Yohji…." Aya screwed his eyes shut as he breathed through his mouth. "Say something… I…." He pulled away and jerked a hand through his hair. "I don’t think this is working."

Not about to let this end in defeat, Yohji lifted his upper body enough so he could pull off his top and throw it across the room. Then he quickly untied Aya’s yukata, brushing aside his lover’s hands when Aya tried to stop him. He yanked the material down until most of Aya’s upper body was exposed.

"Aya, this is us." He grabbed Aya’s hand and pressed it against his naked chest. "Do I feel like him? Taste like him?" His other hand roamed over Aya’s body, gentle but insistent, brushing against the spots he remembered having provoked a positive response the first time they’d made love.

Aya just stared at him for a moment, and then bent his head to run his lips over Yohji’s collarbone. "No, you’re nothing like him," Aya whispered before raising his head. His breath washed over Yohji’s lips, their mouths close together. "You’re not him."

But they were here in Aya’s bed, in the apartment Hiro had bought for him. They had to do something different, and Yohji didn’t think going to his apartment would be enough. He breathed deeply as he tried to think of a solution. When one came to him, he went still, surprised by the idea. It was something he’d never wanted to do before, control he’d never wanted to give up. But this was Aya, and suddenly the thought didn’t scare him so much anymore.

"Aya." He paused to lick his lips, working up the nerve to say what he was about to. "I… want you to fuck me." He’d never been on the bottom before, had never wanted to be, but this felt right, even if the idea made him anxious.

Aya’s eyes went wide at that. "I… are you sure?" When Yohji nodded, he closed his eyes and swallowed. Then he opened them, desire and uncertainty in their depths. "Yohji, I’ve never done that before."

"I didn’t think so," he said quietly as he stroked back the hair that was falling onto Aya’s face. He wasn’t surprised at all to find out that Hiro hadn’t ever let Aya be on top. Not considering how much the bastard controlled his lover. A part of Yohji was thrilled that there was something Aya and he could do that Hiro hadn’t done with Aya first, and that helped to calm him down. "Truth be told, it’ll be my first time being bottom." He smiled weakly at Aya, who just stared back silently.

Just when he started to feel nervous again, Aya leaned forward and captured his lips for a deep, passionate kiss. The feeling that had been present between them before Aya’s slip quickly returned, suffusing him with heat and desire. He lay down on the bed again, Aya a solid weight on top of him, settled on his chest and between his thighs. He held his lover close as their bodies started to rock together.

Eventually Aya pulled away from him, causing him to groan in frustration. Yohji wanted his lover’s body back on his, rubbing against him so deliciously and maddeningly. Then he realized that Aya was shrugging off his yukata and eagerly sat up to help. The grey robe was tossed aside and the blue silk boxers that Aya was wearing beneath it were quickly stripped from his body. Yohji drank in the sight of Aya gloriously naked, his hair falling onto his white skin, his toned, lithe body ready for Yohji to enjoy. He couldn’t help but run his hands all over the smooth skin, smiling when Aya huskily moaned out his name.

"Yohji." Aya caught one of his hands and pressed a kiss against his palm. "Your turn." Aya tugged on the band of his sweatpants.

"One sec." Yohji reached into a pocket and pulled out the foil condom packets he’d brought along, just in case. "I, ah…." He was at a sudden loss of words, unsure of what to say next and afraid that it would again ruin the mood. Thankfully, Aya accepted the condoms with a nod and a slightly sad smile on his face. Yohji’s heart lightened when the smile shifted into a leer and one of Aya’s eyebrows rose.

"Three? Are these just for today, or did you bring along a couple extra?" Aya teased him.

Yohji grinned and quickly removed his sweatpants, leaving himself fully exposed. He hadn’t bothered with underwear this morning. "Well, maybe you’ll need a couple of tries to get the hang of things. Being on top, I mean."

That caused Aya’s eyes to narrow, but before Yohji could apologize, he found himself shoved backwards until he was flat on his back. Aya straddled his thighs and leaned down, long strands of hair falling all around him.

"I might be inexperienced, but I’m not clueless. After all, I’ve been on the receiving end enough times to figure out what feels good and what doesn’t," Aya told Yohji, his deep voice husky with passion. Then he nuzzled Yohji’s neck as his hands slid down Yohji’s body.

Yohji gasped as clever hands pinched his nipples, not enough to hurt but enough to make him pay attention. Aya’s fingers toyed with the sensitive buds, rolling and tugging on them until he was arching his back for more. Aya’s mouth, which had been licking and sucking lightly on his neck, started to drift lower. It lavished attention on his collarbone, lightly nipping the thin skin there before settling on his nipples. Moist warmth replaced the cool fingers, and he choked out his lover’s name.

While Aya tormented Yohji with his mouth, his hands continued downward. They teased along Yohji’s ribs, almost making him laugh at the ticklish sensations they produced, before brushing along his hips. He let out another low moan when one hand settled on his aching cock, wrapping around it firmly as the other gently cupped his balls.

Yohji barely noticed when Aya abandoned his nipples and started planting tender kisses down his abdomen. He was too busy jerking his hips into the warm, squeezing hold that made his body tighten in pleasure. He took to chanting his lover’s name as his hands tangled in Aya’s long hair, urging Aya downward to where he ached the most. Just the thought of Aya’s mouth on him had him crying Aya’s name out loud and jerking his hips forward.

Then the hands and Aya’s mouth were gone, their absence almost shocking to Yohji. He opened his eyes and found Aya picking something off the nightstand. It slowly dawned on him what Aya must have been fetching, but before the first time jitters could return, Aya was settled back between his thighs and the feel of hair falling around his hips was the only warning he had of what was to come.

There was one quick, wet lick along the top of Yohji’s cock before Aya’s mouth engulfed him. He couldn’t help groaning at the feel of Aya expertly sucking him off, tormenting him with a teasing tongue that slid up and down his length as Aya took more and more of him in. He could feel Aya’s throat muscles ripple around his cock as he was deepthroated, and at the same time Aya fondled his balls, giving them gentle squeezes and tugs in time to Yohji’s thrusts.

Yohji writhed on the bed as Aya allowed him to fuck his mouth. His hands clenched and twisted in Aya’s hair as he held Aya’s head still so he could thrust into his mouth with an increasingly frantic pace. Aya didn’t try to hold him down but let him do what he wanted, which was to get as deep as he could inside the wonderful warmth that surrounded his arousal. In fact, he seemed to urge Yohji on by teasing him with his lips and tongue, and even started to hum.

Unable to take any more, Yohji let out a ragged yell as he came, his hips violently jerking forward. He shuddered at each pulse that poured out of him, his breath coming in desperate pants as he tried to breathe through the intense wave of pleasure. It was so hard to keep his eyes open, but he kept his gaze fixed on Aya, who was staring back at him as he swallowed.

Aya sucked on Yohji’s cock for a few more seconds while he lay limply on the bed, and then pulled away. He urged Yohji’s legs farther apart, which he meekly allowed, before a pillow was stuffed beneath his hips. Knowing what was coming next but too blissed out to care, Yohji shifted about until his hips were tilted upward. Aya gazed at him, his purple eyes dark with passion as his slick hand slid behind Yohji’s balls.

It felt odd, the slippery finger circling around Yohji’s tight opening, but Aya must have warmed the lubricant while he’d been blowing him. Yohji just stared at his lover, enjoying the sight of Aya crouched between his legs, naked except for that long, impossibly red hair, and clearly aroused. Aya’s cock jutted upward, gleaming with precome, and Yohji half heartedly tried to rise up and reach for it, planning on returning some of the pleasure Aya had given him. Aya just swatted his hand aside.

"Not yet," Aya told him, his deep voice rumbling in the quiet room. Before Yohji could protest, the finger pushed inside him, making him fall back onto the bed. It felt uncomfortable having it inside him, and he blanked his mind to what would soon follow. For several long seconds Aya twisted the finger inside of him, all the while chewing on his bottom lip in such an adorable manner that Yohji became too distracted to care about the uncomfortable sensation.

Then something happened down there that sent sparks of pleasure shooting through him. He gasped as the spot was prodded again, his hips thrusting forward at the feeling. His spent, flaccid cock started to harden as Aya flicked his finger again, causing Yohji to call out his name. "Ah! Aya. Oh…."

"Yes, I know." His lover sounded rather smug. Yohji weakly glared at him before cursing softly at the feel of being stretched even further by another finger. They shifted about inside of him, continuing to stretch him as he tried to breathe through the discomfort. As soon as he started to feel used to the sensation, Aya pushed them against his prostate, causing Yohji to writhe in pleasure. He felt ready to come again at any moment as Aya alternated scissoring them and flicking them against his sweet spot.

"Aya… Aya! Don’t…." he moaned, trying to catch his breath between waves of bliss. It might have been the lack of oxygen that made him think that Aya was actually chuckling. The sound was so soft that he wasn’t sure, and Aya’s head was tilted downward, a curtain of shiny hair hiding his face so Yohji couldn’t see it.

Aya pushed his fingers deeper inside Yohji, making him grunt in response. Then Aya was shifting him to his left. "Yohji, roll onto your side." Aya pushed on his leg, trying to get him to move.

"Huh?" Yohji blinked as he tried to get his addled thoughts to work. "Don’t you want to…?"

"On your side," Aya sternly told him. Then he smiled softly as he pushed Yohji again. "Trust me, it’ll be better for you that way."

Yohji shifted his leg over Aya’s arms and did as he was told. It felt odd moving around with the fingers still inside him, but he managed to roll onto his side. Aya immediately settled behind him, and he felt his lover’s erection press against the back of his thigh. "Aya, don’t forget about the condoms."

"I haven’t." Aya kissed him on the back of his neck and shifted away. Yohji heard the foil packet tear, and heard Aya curse softly. He imagined it was a little hard getting the thing on one handed, but wasn’t in any hurry for Aya to remove his fingers. He’d become used to them, and didn’t want to think about what would soon replace them.

Aya cursed again, and he couldn’t help but laugh. "Leave enough room at the-"

"Yohji," Aya growled at him, and then sighed. Another soft kiss was pressed against his shoulder, making him twitch. "Sorry. I’ve never had to wear one of these before, and it’s so damn slippery." And now Aya did, because who knew what the hell Yohji might have picked up from his client, or Aya from Hiro. Yohji swore to start getting tested twice a month, and to drag Aya off with him next time. He’d never be able to live with himself if he infected the man he loved with some incurable disease.

"Well, it’s lubed for our mutual pleasure," Yohji weakly joked, reciting the motto printed on the foil packets.

He was distracted from his bleak thoughts by Aya withdrawing his fingers. "Just try to relax, and breathe. Let me know if it hurts." Aya’s voice sounded shaky, and trembling hands ran down Yohji’s spine. He nodded and took a deep breath, forcing himself to slowly release it when he felt Aya part his cheeks and something hard and slick press against him.

It was much thicker than the fingers had, and Yohji winced as Aya’s cock slowly pressed inside him. He felt his body clench around the invading presence, and as he drew in a breath and tried to relax, Aya stopped. "It’ll be okay, just relax," Aya soothed Yohji, his voice tight and ragged. Yohji imagined that he knew how his lover felt. As soon as he let out another breath and loosened up a bit, Aya pushed forward again. He slid further inside Yohji, his hands stroking along Yohji’s back and sides, helping to distract him from the pain. It felt odd and almost painful being stretched like that, and Yohji had to prevent himself from trying to move away from Aya.

Aya paused again, and started to pull back. Yohji sighed in relief, the sound changing to a moan as Aya started to stroke his half erect cock. He thrust his hips into the loose grip, and when he pulled back Aya pushed forward again. Yohji gasped as Aya’s cock buried itself deeper inside him, not stopping until Aya was pressed firmly against his back. His breath caught in his throat at feeling so stretched and filled, and thankfully Aya stilled and continued to stroke him. His body clenched around Aya’s cock, not as forcefully as before, and Aya moaned against his back.

They remained still for several heartbeats. "Yohji?" Aya’s voice was hesitant and quiet, so unlike him that Yohji had to smile and brush his hand down Aya’s thigh. "How does it feel?"

"Gods, Aya, I never thought it would be like this." It felt completely different from fingers being inside him. Aya’s cock was a warm, solid presence that utterly filled him, and the sensation of discomfort was slowly fading. "Shouldn’t you be doing something?"

"One moment." Aya rested his head against Yohji’s shoulder. "I… it’s amazing, Yohji, to feel you around me, so hot and tight." Aya kissed his ear. "Okay." Aya started to thrust, the motion slow and steady, and the discomfort started to return, despite Aya’s hand moving up and down Yohji’s cock. Yohji grunted and shifted about uncomfortably, not sure he liked Aya pushing even deeper inside him. Aya faltered for a moment, and then shifted his hips.

Yohji drew in a breath as Aya pulled back, and then let it out in a ragged gasp as Aya hit that spot inside him again, the one that filled his visions with stars. He groaned Aya’s name while his hand fumbled backwards, until he was clutching his lover’s ass and urging him forward. Aya’s thrusts became steadier and he slowly picked up the pace while Yohji moaned in pleasure. He barely noticed the discomfort anymore, being much more interested in how good Aya’s cock and hand were making him feel.

Aya was whispering Yohji’s name as he buried himself deep inside again and again, his hand echoing his increasingly frantic thrusts. Yohji pushed back against him, eager for each wave of bliss that crashed through him when Aya angled his thrusts just right.

Yohji’s body began to shake from the pleasure, his balls feeling heavy and tight. The feel of Aya moving inside him, stroking him inside and out, kissing the back of his neck while whispering how beautiful he was in panting breaths became too much for him. He gasped as he came, his head tossed back onto Aya’s shoulder and his eyes closed. From far away he heard Aya loudly call out his name. Aya, pressed against his back, started to tremble. The hand on his cock briefly tightened before releasing him, resting against his thigh while Aya shivered and panted.

They remained quiet and still for several minutes, and then Aya shifted away from him and rolled onto his back. Yohji winced as Aya’s flaccid cock withdrew from his body, and he slowly rolled over until he was pressed against his lover. Aya’s eyes were closed, his hair sticking all over his sweat-slickened body, and there was a hint of a smile on his flushed face. Yohji tugged the hair that he was lying on out from under him and draped it on Aya’s chest, resting his arm there while he bent down to kiss Aya. His lover languidly kissed him back, one hand coming to rest on the nape of Yohji’s neck.

"How do you feel?" Aya asked him softly, the smile still on his face, even after the kiss.

Yohji flexed his body and winced at the ache in unfamiliar places. "A little sore, but not as bad as I thought I’d be." Aya had been very careful with him. "Thank you." He reached for a few tissues from the box in the nightstand, and used them to wipe himself off. Afterwards, he removed the condom from Aya and tossed it and the dirty tissues into a small garbage can by the bed.

"Hmmm." Aya’s eyes drifted shut as he urged Yohji to lie down beside him. "And thank you." He hugged Yohji close as he soothingly rubbed the small of Yohji’s back. "Just don’t expect breakfast any time soon."

Yohji had to chuckle at that. "No, I suddenly don’t feel very hungry. I think I just want to take it easy for a little bit. You can make me a nice big lunch instead." He poked Aya in the ribs. "After you give me a massage."

Aya opened an eye and weakly glared at him. "I get a hangover after letting you fuck me, and you get a massage and a meal? That doesn’t seem very fair."

"Then I’ll have to make it up to you next time I’m on top," Yohji told him, his voice smooth and promising. "How’s that for incentive?"

"I don’t know. If you’re cooking, I might end up sick anyway," Aya drawled.

Yohji could only stare at him for a moment before poking him again in the ribs. "See, you just joked yourself out of a meal, darling." Aya opened the other eye to glare at him, but before he could complain about the pet name, Yohji swooped in for a kiss. He didn’t relent until Aya was left breathless. "You know," he explained, a little out of breath himself, "I’m so good I don’t need any incentives like massages and food. You’re gonna need a little practice before you can hope to reach my level. But I’m willing to help you learn." He stroked his hand down Aya’s side and rested it on his hip. "Not that you need many pointers, to be honest."

"Hmph." Aya tugged on the hair at Yohji’s nape a little. "Keep up that attitude and you’ll end up kicked out without any lunch."

"You wouldn’t do that to me, Aya." Yohji quickly kissed him.

"Don’t be so sure," Aya mumbled as he played with Yohji’s hair.

Yohji just smiled and rested his head on Aya’s shoulder. He really was sure of that, but he’d let the matter drop before he pissed Aya off. Ayumi had said it, Aya cared too much for the people he loved, and Yohji was pretty sure he was now included with those rare few. So instead of continuing the argument, he started rattling off suggestions of things for Aya to make him for lunch, until his lover groaned and kissed him silent.

******* 

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