Cathedrals

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Chapter 2

*******

Aya walked out of the cooler with his arms full of flowers and leaves for an arrangement and stopped still. Yohji and Ken were engaged in a conversation with someone that the redhead had thought never to see again. Before he could turn around and head back into the cooler the American shouted out to him. "Hey there kitten, why don’t you come and join the reunion."

Growling softly, the pale man set his supplies down on the worktable and walked over to the register. Taking in the sparkling light blue eyes and smirking lips, he snarled at the exuberant man. "What the hell are you doing here, Stout?"

"Funny, I came here to ask you the same question. Nice to see you’re okay, we were all a bit worried about you. It would have been nice if you could have dropped us a line and let everyone know you were alive." Teddy’s voice had started out cheerful, if a bit sarcastic, but quickly became filled with anger. "You have any idea how upset Seiichi was, feeling as if it was his fault you were taken, waiting to find your dead body in some back alley? Even Kei was worried sick, and normally nothing gets to that man."

Slightly taken back by the angry tone, Aya went on the defensive. "I didn’t think anyone cared that much." He truly hadn’t. "How did you find me?"

"Of course we cared, you were one of us." The American tried to reign in his temper, something told him it wouldn’t do any good right now if he let it run wild. "Bumped into Brown-eyes over there yesterday as he was delivering some flowers. I have a very good memory, it didn’t take me long to recognize him. And I was curious as to why someone so interested in the rapes and posing as a student reporter was now a florist. So I did a little digging around. Found out about this flower shop run by four young men that’s usually packed with girls in the afternoons. Supposedly they come to see the employees, which include a quiet redhead and an outgoing blond. Figured things out from there. Don’t even try to tell me that business is so slow you had to wait tables part time. Especially since Makoto Matsumoto doesn’t exist. Checked that out too." Teddy crossed his arms over his chest and gazed challengingly at the three stunned men.

The older men took a moment to glare daggers at the brunet assassin. Ken stood there wishing the floor would open up and swallow him. Why did Stout have to run into him? These types of things /always/ seemed to happen to him. As one, Aya and Yohji shifted their eyes to each other. The redhead raised an elegant eyebrow and the older man nodded his head in response before turning to the interloper.

"Listen Teddy, we /are/ florists. Work here just about every damn day. But sometimes we need a little extra cash to make ends meet, so we do some jobs on the side. Private investigations. We often help assist the police, and were asked to do some undercover work to catch the serial rapist. But we try to keep our side business a secret, doesn’t do much good if everybody suspects us being up to something." Yohji was improvising like crazy, barely skirting the truth. Things would be very bad if the longhaired man found out what Weiß /really/ did for a living. He liked the foreigner, as annoying as the American could be.

Teddy closed his mouth and narrowed his eyes, surveying the three men. Kudoh’s story made sense, in a weird way, and would explain why the police had covered up for them. But something told him that the explanation was a little bit off. Having more brain cells than was usually attributed to him, the foreigner decided to go along with things for the moment. Besides, there was a question he wanted to ask.

Blue eyes focused on the quiet red head, Teddy inquired, "did he hurt you?"

The swordsman took a minute to decide on how he was going to answer once he figured out what the question was referring too. "A little, I managed to get away before he could do any real damage." A bit of an understatement, but one that hopefully wouldn’t lead to ‘do you know how he died’.

"Why did he do it? Did you ever figure that out? The police never said a word." There was a note of anguish in the young man’s voice.

Violet eyes again searching out emerald ones, Aya sighed at his lover’s shrug. The truth was going to hurt the man, but he didn’t think this was something he could lie about. "The first time was about your friend trying to split you and David up. After that Aso just looked for an excuse to take somebody, often times using you. The man he killed had been a random, easy target. He went after me because of Kudoh, for some reason he was jealous of him."

The longhaired man sniffed as he nodded his head. "David had a bit of a complex at being only half Japanese. I can understand that part." It was just as he had always suspected, he was the reason for all the pain and suffering people he knew had gone through.

"Hey, don’t blame yourself." Yohji put a comforting hand on a thin shoulder and was shaking his head at the kilted man. "If it hadn’t been you it would have been something else down the road. Aso would have done it sooner or later, if he hadn’t had fallen in love with you it would have been another reason. The man was disturbed."

Maybe that wasn’t the best thing he could have said, but Teddy appeared a bit cheered by the speech. Enough so that the man resumed some of his puckish nature. Shaking off his feelings of guilt, he looked at the older men with a gleam in his eyes. "So, was part of the job pretending that the two of you were dating, or was that real?" Batting those eyes at Aya, he remarked that he’d always had a thing for redheads.

Judging by the way Yohji growled and pulled the shocked man close, Teddy was going to say that it was for real. This suspicion was confirmed when the blond opened his mouth. "Don’t even think about it, he’s taken so look for another one." Aya simply stood there, wrapped in his lover’s arms, trying to digest that Teddy had just hit on him.

"Relax, I’m seeing someone. Nice to know that the overprotective boyfriend routine wasn’t an act." Not able to resist, the longhaired man decided to add "besides, I’m strictly uke. Got a feeling that might be a problem with Red, he doesn’t exactly come across as the seme type in your relationship."

Ken bit into his lip, desperate not to laugh at that comment and the corresponding flare of anger on the redhead’s face. Aya would kill him if he did. Yohji’s mouth spread into a grin as he tried to soothe the irate man. The American earned his admiration for courage if not brains for just standing there smiling as violet eyes willed him dead.

It was during this little scenario that the door chimes went off. It was Teddy’s turn to be startled as the couple jumped apart. Taking the opportunity to flee, Ken rushed over to the customer.

Reminding himself that Kritiker frowned heavily on unsanctioned kills, Aya scowled at his former co-worker. "Not another word, Stout. We have customers to deal with. Don’t you have somewhere you need to be?" The last sentence was all but dripping with menace.

Being a smart boy, Teddy figured he had pushed the reserved man far enough for the day. It was nice getting a little payback for the worry he’d put everybody through, but Red had quite a temper. "Answer me one more thing, and then I’ll leave."

That earned him another murderous glare, and the pale man looked too pissed off to speak. Fortunately Yohji stepped in. The sooner Teddy left, the better, before Aya lost it and ripped apart the man with his bare hands. "And that is?"

"What’s Red’s real name?" Great, now he had both men frowning at him. "You know it won’t take a lot of effort for me to find out, so be nice little boys and tell me. It’ll get rid of me all the quicker.

"Aya Fujimiya. Might I suggest that now would be a good time to go home?" The blond kept most of his attention on his lover as he spoke, willing the man to stay still.

"Isn’t that a girl’s name? No wonder you’re the seme." Reaching out a long arm, the playboy just managed to grab ahold of Aya’s collar before the assassin leapt on the smirking man.

"Stout. Leave. /Now/."

"I’m going, I’m going. Nice seeing you guys." Teddy quickly exited the shop, smiling evilly all the while. That had been fun. He’d have to do it again real soon. Looked as if he was going to be buying a lot of flowers in the future.

*******

Yohji looked up in concern as his lover threw away most of his dinner. "What’s the matter, something wrong with the meal?" The redhead had been quieter than normal, which was saying quite a lot, since their encounter with Teddy Stout. In return the older man hadn’t been talkative either, giving the short-tempered assassin some time to calm down. It had made for a quiet shift and drive to Shibuya. Now his boyfriend got up from the table and walked away after taking only a bite out of his food.

"Hn." Aya hurried out of the food promenade, not bothering to answer. Cursing softly, the blond tossed the last of his supper in the trash as he chased after the man. It didn’t take him long to catch up, he found the redhead leaning against a wall with his eyes closed and breathing through his mouth.

"Hey, what was that about?" Noting the man’s pallor, Yohji asked if everything was alright.

"I’m fine, just didn’t feel like eating anymore." Aya was hoping that now he was away from the smell of food his stomach would settle down. If only he could do something about the bright lights and piped in music that made his head throb.

Eyeing his lover critically, Yohji remarked, "You don’t look fine. In fact it looks like you’re trying hard not to throw up." The smaller man’s body was tense, and he had that little furrow back between his eyes. "You have another headache, don’t you kitten. One so bad you can’t even eat." Green eyes narrowed onto the pale man, daring him to disagree. Not seeing the expression, Aya did just that.

"Kudoh, you worry too much. It’s nothing. Some of us just aren’t bottomless pits, I’m simply not hungry."

"Bullshit." Yohji pushed back his lover’s bangs and lifted the man’s head away from the wall. Violet eyes opened to glare at him, a slightly glazed look to them. "Now try lying to me."

Opening his mouth to do just that, Aya snapped it shut at a particularly painful throb. The headache was now bordering on migraine intensity. The damn things had been getting steadily worse for the past week or two. He’d taken some ibuprofen before leaving home, but the medicine was no longer working.

The redhead’s failure to retort back just proved the blond’s point. "Thought so. Why didn’t you say something earlier? You need to go home." The older man tugged Aya away from the wall, determined to leave.

"No. We’re here to do a job, I’m not going anywhere."

Great, now the kitten’s obstinate nature had just kicked in. "Aya, you’re in pain. Just shut up and let me take you home."

"No." The swordsman jerked his arm out of the blond’s grip and stalked off in the opposite direction. Muttering under his breath, Yohji once more took chase. This time he rejoined the man in a clothing store. Aya was flipping through a rack of cargo pants, just stopping short of ripping the clothes off their hangers.

"Okay, so your masochistic nature has now kicked in and you won’t go home. Fine. You going to buy anything here or are you just manhandling the merchandise?" Startled by the lack of a fight, the redhead looked down at the clothes for the first time. Yohji reached over to pull a pair of black pants off the rack and held them to Aya’s waist. "Here, you’d look good in these, why don’t you go try them on?" Violet eyes blinking at the blond for a moment, the smaller man finally did just that.

The playboy let out the breath he’d been holding in. It wouldn’t do to get into a ‘disagreement’, i.e. a screaming fight, in the middle of a store. Neither would picking up the stubborn fool and carrying him out of the shopping arcade. So the only choice left was to see if the headache went away or got worse. Yohji stood there smoking a cigarette as he waited for his kitten to come back from the dressing room. After a few minutes the smaller man returned and walked over to the register. Once the purchase was finished he cautiously approached the smoking man. "Well, if we’re going to stay here we might as well get some more shopping done." Yohji then proceeded to drag the redhead into the loudest, busiest stores he could find. Since many of them were on the list of shops frequented by the victims, Aya couldn’t complain or use an excuse to hurry out of them.

Pushing down the stab of guilt he felt upon seeing his boyfriend’s eyes continue to glaze over, Yohji silently waited for the pain to become too much. Almost two hours later the pale man almost dropped his bags as he clutched at his head, eyes screwed tightly shut. "Dammit, Aya, I’m taking you home now." One hand full with their purchases, the blond’s other one was wrapped around the man’s arm, helping the redhead stay on his feet. Too busy trying to navigate through the crowd; Yohji didn’t notice the longhaired man following him. It was only when the two assassins made it to an exit that the man stopped, an anxious look across his face.

*******

Hearing the garage door open and close and the distinctive rev of Yohji’s Seven, Omi took a break from his homework and peeped out into the hallway. The two oldest Weiß weren’t supposed to be back for another hour or so, after the shops closed. He’d just returned home himself. Blue eyes peering at the steps, the orbs widened at the sight of the older blond half carrying Aya to their bedroom. "Yohji-kun, is everything okay?"

"Oh just peachy. Fearless leader here’s getting his butt kicked by a migraine, and wouldn’t come home until it got absolutely unbearable. Do me a favor kiddo and get the door." Omi rushed to help, opening the door to the men’s bedroom and ducking inside to pull down the bedcovers. Yohji soon followed and dumped his boyfriend onto the mattress. Aya’s lids slit open to show a flash of pale violet before he hissed at the light and quickly closed them. He was too busy trying to keep his head still to fight the hands stripping off his clothes. One of them tenderly brushed back his bangs as Yohji added he’d be right back with some Advil.

Once out in the hall the playboy grabbed the younger blond and dragged him towards the bathroom. "You got anything in here that will help?"

"Not really. Yohji, what’s going on? Aya doesn’t usually suffer from migraines, at least not this bad." Thinking back to a few weeks ago, the youth quickly added "you don’t think it’s Mastermind again, do you?" The telepath had caused the older man to experience a similar headache during a mission.

"I don’t know, chibi. The Bastard’s style is usually a lot more confrontational when he’s dealing with Aya. And this has been going on for almost three weeks now. Aya’s had a headache every single day." Yohji sat down on the toilet, yanking on honey blond locks in frustration. "I need you to do me another favor. Is there any way you can convince Kritiker to have all of us report for a physical? If I ask the kitten it’ll just start another big fight, but if Weiß is ordered to have a check-up he’ll have to go."

"Sure thing, Yohji-kun. I think Manx and I can come up with a good enough reason. Leave it to me, I’ll get in touch with her tonight." Omi patted his friend on the shoulder and smiled in a reassuring manner.

"Thanks. I better get back in there." The older blond stood up with the medicine bottle in hand and filled a paper cup with water. He made his way back to the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Aya was curled up on the bed with his head buried under a pillow. Puzzled for a minute, Yohji quickly turned off the bright overhead light and on a dimmer lamp instead.

Prying the redhead out of bed long enough for him to settle himself against the headboard, Yohji handed over the pills. Aya fumbled for them blindly, swallowed them then buried his head into his boyfriend’s chest. Stroking the man’s crimson mop, Yohji carefully shifted his lover about until the man was resting on top of him. "You trying to turn my hair grey with worry or something, love? I better get one hell of a memorable weekend out of this, that’s all I’m saying." It sounded as if the smaller man said something suspiciously like ‘hn’ before snuggling closer.

Fingers combing through the silky strands, Yohji rested his head back against the wall and softly began to sing whatever song came into his head. It gave him something to do, and for once Aya wasn’t able to protest at his supposed lack of talent or taste. "In the cathedrals of New York and Rome/ there is a feeling that you should just go home/ and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is." An odd song for a person who had never left Japan to sing, but it fit his current mood. Against the odds he’d managed to find his home, now the trick was just holding onto it. And not strangling it over its amazingly obdurate and self-abusive nature.

*******

Aya walked into flowershop, hands rubbing his eyes at the sunlight streaming through the windows. They were still a bit sensitive to light, but overall he felt better than last night. Then again, short of having a spike hammered into his head anything would feel better than the previous evening’s headache. It was a bit disconcerting to wake up and realize he’d spent over twelve hours asleep. That wasn’t like him.

Deciding to get the argument over with, the redhead went straight to the register. Where a frowning Yohji watched his approach. "You really think you should be out of bed?"

"I’m fine, Kudoh," was the growled response. "It was just a headache."

Yohji snorted at that comment. "Seems to me I remember someone saying just that shortly before almost passing out in the mall. Want to try again?" The blond stopped glaring at his lover long enough to ring up a customer. Once the woman was walking away with her purchase he returned his attention to the smaller man.

"Did it ever occur to you these headaches get a lot worse when I’m fighting with someone?" The red head gave his lover a few seconds for that fact to sink in. "I’m going to work on the orders, Saturdays are too busy for you and Ken to handle by yourselves." Aya quickly made his getaway while Yohji stood there, considering the first remark. It was true that the pain increased when he was feeling strong emotions, but it still didn’t explain why the headache had taken such a turn for the worse in the shopping arcade.

If it wasn’t for the note Omi had left him saying that he’d arranged with Manx for the team to undergo medical examinations, Yohji would have hustled the redhead back upstairs. As it was he promised himself that the first time he saw the younger man reach for some pain pills was going to be the end of Aya’s shift. In between glancing back at the worktable he flirted up a storm with the female clientele. He did have a reputation to maintain after all, and it helped the shift go by quicker.

Occupied with a blushing twenty-something woman he was encouraging to buy a dozen daisies, the blond failed to notice the foreign man leaning against the counter. It wasn’t until the woman left that he realized that Teddy Stout was once again on the premises. "Is it my turn now? What flowers do you think go best with my complexion? I’m dying to know," the pest asked.

"Great. To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit? A suicidal nature?" Yohji tried to block the smirking man’s view of the worktables in the back. Last thing Aya needed was to find his own personal annoyance back in the shop.

"Oh, just thought I’d stop in and buy the boyfriend some flowers. Got any lilies in stock?" Teddy kept shifting around until he figured out what it was the tall blond was trying to prevent him from seeing. Wow, nobody down at Bacchus would believe that Red spent his days working on floral arrangements. And judging by the completed ones sitting on his table, the sullen man was quite good at it. "Maybe I’ll go back and ask Red to make up something nice for me."

"Wait." Long fingers wrapped around his wrist in a bone-crushing grip. At the look of pain on the longhaired man’s face Yohji relaxed his hold. "Sorry about that. Listen, Aya hasn’t been feeling well lately, and the last thing he needs is you aggravating him. If you just stay here and behave I’ll give you a bouquet of lilies on the house. Deal?"

"Okay." Geez, who knew a florist would have such a powerful grip? Weren’t they all supposed to be limp-wristed or something, Teddy asked himself. While Yohji was off assembling the flowers, the American watched as a short haired girl walked into the store, gave it a quick scan, and went straight back to the working redhead. Who she then proceeded to glomp and fuss over.

When the blond playboy returned Teddy nodded his head in Aya’s direction. "Um, I take it he knows that girl? Red swing both ways maybe?"

"Shit. Turn my back for one minute and /she/ sneaks in." Green eyes glared angrily at the girl. About to storm after her, Yohji was prevented by several schoolgirls rushing up to the counter, eager to have their favorite playboy give his opinion on their clothes and hair.

The American chuckled at the blond’s thwarted possessive nature. "Down with the hackles, boy. I take it she doesn’t grasp the concept of ‘hands off, private property’."

"The problem is she thinks that he’s /her/ property." Each time the playboy would try to move away from the counter another girl stepped in front of him, asking him a question.

Snaring the older man’s attention once more, Teddy posed a question of his own. "What do I get in return for ridding you of her?"

"Uhm, another free dozen of flowers?" To the girl attached like a leech on his arm the blond commented, "Yes, I like the haircut. Who wouldn’t with it framing such a sweet face?"

Rolling his eyes at how the teenaged girl drank up the compliment, the longhaired man counter-offered. "Make it five."

"What?" Ready to argue, Yohji caught sight of Sakura trying to brush back the hair falling into Aya’s eyes. "Agreed. Just do something /quick/. Don’t care how bloody or violent it is."

Teddy thrust his flowers over to the older man. "Here, hold on to these for me." Walking back to the suffering redhead, he called out in a foreign language. "Wie groß ist die Wahrscheinlichkeit, daß die junge Dame Deutsch versteht?" \What are the chances of the young lady understanding German?\

Aya’s head shot up at hearing that statement, and Teddy was stunned to see the man actually appear relieved to see it was him talking. Weird. The redhead offered back in stilted German. "Sehr gering, denke ich. Warum sprichst du es?" \Very slim, I believe. Why are you speaking it?\

"Ich bin hier um dich zu retten. Dachte mir, daß du gebeten wurdest dem ignoranten Gaijin zu helfen und so den Fängen des Mädchens entkommen könntest, weil du vermutlich die einzige andere Person hier bist, die Deutsch sprechen kann. Hast du jemals das Wort ’Verschwinde’ gehört? Du bist ebengrade dabei deinem freund ein Aneurisma zu verursachen." \I’m here to rescue you. Figured you could plead having to assist the ignorant gaijin and escape the girl’s evil clutches since you’re probably the only other person here able to speak German. Have you ever heard of the words ‘go away’? You’re about to give your boyfriend an aneurysm.\

Sakura looked back and forth between the two men, clearly confused. Aya stepped away from the table, solemnly informing the girl that he had to go help a customer and wished her goodbye. Turning back to the kilted man, he arched an eyebrow. "Woher wußtest du, daß ich Deutsch sprechen kann?" \How did you know I could speak it?\

"Hab’ dich über einige Gäste fluchen hören. Wollte dich danach fragen, aber du bist ja verschwunden ehe ich dazu kam. Was ist mit dem Mädchen?" \Heard you swearing at a few customers in it one night. Meant to ask you about it but you disappeared before I could. What’s with the girl?\ Teddy was curious as to why the Japanese man hadn’t bitten her head off or glared her away.

"Lange Geschichte." \A long story.\ Judging from the pale man’s expression, not one he was willing to discuss. As if that didn’t already cover a wide range of topics. Teddy found it of interest that the redhead didn’t ask him how he knew the language. Aya walked over to a cooler and gestured to the flowers inside. Teddy pretended to be interested in them. The two men were getting a lot of stares, especially from the redhead’s coworkers.

"Ich nehme an, sie hatten keine Ahnung daß du diese Sprache sprechen kannst. Braunauge sieht aus, als ob er gleich seine Zunge verschluckt" \I take it they didn’t know you could speak this language. Brown-eyes looks as if he’s going to swallow his tongue.\ The American twirled a jonquil between his fingers, wondering if his boyfriend liked them. "Oh, schau an. Sie verschwindet" \Oh look, she’s leaving.\ He almost burst out laughing at the smug look on Yohji’s face as the girl dejectedly left the flowershop. "Erinnere mich daran, deinen Kerl in nächster Zeit nicht eifersüchtig zu machen." \Remind me not to make that man of yours jealous anytime soon.\

"Hn." Sakura taken care of, the redhead went back to his arrangements.

Teddy trailed after him. "You could say ‘thank you’, you know." At the chill look he was receiving, the foreigner shrugged his shoulders. "All right, I admit I was a bit of a pain yesterday, just making you pay for all the worry you put everybody through. I’m sorry." Aya nodded his head at the man, then turned his attention to the flowers on his table.

Rolling his eyes at the silent grouch, Teddy strolled towards the door. On his way out he paused to push Ken’s gaping jaw closed, patting the then blushing man on the cheek before picking up his flowers. "Remember Kudoh, five more dozen free. I’ll be back on Monday for one of them." Thinking about how happy Koyu was going to be to receive all the flowers as he walked towards the nearby bus stop, he almost ran into a person seated at an outside table of a café. "Sorry, my bad."

"That’s okay. Quite the Unruhestifter, aren’t you?" Surprised to hear German again, the American was about to ask the longhaired man a question, only to have his bus show up. Getting aboard the transportation, Teddy looked back into a pair of mocking pale green eyes. Was it just his imagination, or had he heard ‘Thanks for saving mein Kätzchen’ in his head?

*******

"Well, that’s enough for one day. Is it just me or did the fan club seem a bit more rabid this afternoon?" Ken asked as he flipped over the ‘closed’ sign.

"Think it’s because the chibi’s been MIA the past couple of days. Saw the girls praying left and right at all four of their bishounen being together again." Yohji tossed a significant look at the younger member of Weiß, then towards the door. "So you meeting up with some more friends tonight Omi?"

"Hai." The youth checked his watch, wondering what was keeping Manx. The agent should be here by now to report the news of the physicals. "Must say as assignments go, this is one of the better ones."

Ken smiled at the young blond as he emptied the dust pan. "It is a welcome change from all the bars we’ve been hanging out in lately. And my video game scores are vastly improving."

Four pairs of eyes focused on the door as the chime went off. The young men relaxed as they recognized the brunet woman who walked in. "What do we owe this pleasure too, Birman?" Yohji drawled. A sense of relief flooded through him as he hurriedly locked the door and pulled down the metal blinds.

Birman leaned against the counter as she surveyed the assembled men. "Just stopping by to inform Weiß to report to the Magic Bus hospital tomorrow and see Dr. Rōyama at 11 am. Sorry if this interferes with your day off.”

"Why?" Aya all but snapped out the question, and the two blonds on the team tried to appear surprised at the news.

"Because this team recently had a highly skilled telepath messing with its heads. All of you should have been checked out as soon as the Tayago mission was completed, place the blame on bureaucracy for the paperwork being lost this long." Eyeing the scowl the redhead was sending her way, Birman firmly added, "don’t even think of missing this appointment. Failure to show up means suspension without pay from the team. Kritiker is very serious about this, they want to make sure Mastermind didn’t leave behind any surprises." Aya glared at the woman for a few more seconds before he resumed auditing the register.

"That’s it, message has been delivered and I’m on my way. Here’s the stipends for the next couple nights. Behavior seems to think the next attack will occur in a few more days. How are the contacts working out Ken?" Birman handed over several envelopes to Omi as she asked that last bit.

"Just fine. A little weird having dark blue eyes. Get a lot of comments on them though, so they seem to be drawing enough attention."

Omi bristled at that remark as the brunet woman waved goodbye. Yohji let her out of the flowershop and closed things up again, turning just in time to witness his lover stalk out of the shop. He exchanged a glance with the other Weiß blond. "I better go make sure he’s okay. Be careful tonight, you guys."

Running up the steps, the playboy caught a glimpse of Aya retreating into his room. He rushed down the hallway, unable to make it before the door was slammed shut. "Aya love, can I come in?" Not getting a response, Yohji tried the knob. It wasn’t locked, so he took that as an invitation to enter.

Once inside the room he found the redhead removing tags from the cargo pants he’d bought the night before. "Hey, there you are. Everything alright?" Aya gave his boyfriend a dirty look before walking over to his closet to find a shirt to wear. "What was that for?" The older man waited in silence for a couple of minutes as the swordsman quietly continued his search.

Selecting a fitted burgundy colored short-sleeve shirt, Aya regarded his lover coldly before answering. "Did you have anything to do with this physical?"

"Nani? No, of course not. Like Kritiker listens to me." Yohji was very careful to act normally. Aya would kill him if he found out he’d put Omi up to this. "Not that I’m real unhappy about it. It’ll be worth being poked and prodded to find out what’s been causing your headaches. Who knows, maybe The Bastard really is behind them."

"Hn."

Well, at least it was a response. Desperate to change the subject, the blond asked Aya how long he had know German. That was the first time he’d ever heard the pale man speak something other than Japanese or English.

The redhead stalked over to his bookshelf and tossed several volumes at the playboy. "What the hell, hey, watch it, that one’s pretty thick. Ow." Juggling an armload of books, Yohji scanned the authors. Schiller, Heinrich Heine, Max Frisch, Herman Hesse, Günther Grass, Benjamin von Stuckard-Barre, Wolfgang Hohlbein. "Uh, I can’t pronounce most of these names, let alone recognize them. Take it they’re German?"

"Yes. In answer to your question, I’ve been able to speak German for years. It’s not my best language, and I tend to read it better than speak it."

"Huh, who knew. Any other languages you know?" The redhead gestured to his bookshelves in response. Yohji crossed the room and perused the shelves, placing his armful of books on top. He could make out Russian, Spanish, French and Chinese. Even looked like a few Korean books as well. "You telling me you know how to read and speak all of these?" He was impressed. Why hadn’t he’d paid any attention to what the man had his nose buried in before?

"Yes." Aya sat down on his bed, resisting the urge to rub his temples.

"Why didn’t you say something about this? Who made you learn them all, Kritiker?"

"No, my father. He was in charge of a financial company that did a lot of international business, remember? When he found out I had an aptitude for languages he had me study several different ones. It was supposed to help me when I joined the business. It’s easier to gain the respect of an investor if you can speak directly to them, without a translator." Thoughts of his father didn’t help the headache that was forming. The distant man had been too busy running his company to interact much with his son. Most of Aya’s memories involving the man dealt with lectures on how well his studies went and not letting the family down. The supposition present in those latter discussions was anymore than he already had. There had been a definite sense of shame at how different his son was, at the odd looks his family received and the whispered questions about if the boy was adopted. Aya’s ability to speak other languages had been yet another mark against him, his mind being able to grasp the foreign cultures with ease, tainting his Japanese nature. Fujimiya senior had been intent on turning that failing into a positive somehow, not caring about the pressure he placed on a small child.

"Huh." Yohji turned away from the bookshelves to study the pale man sitting on the bed. No wonder Aya had turned out so reserved, aptitude or not he must have spent most of his childhood studying. All just to please his father. High expectations were not something the playboy had had to deal with as a child. "Any other talents you’ve been keeping from me?"

Stretching out on his bed, Aya gave Yohji a puzzled look. "What to do you mean? Kritiker knows, as does Omi. It’s not a secret. Not my fault you never asked if I knew anything other than English."

The blond shook his head as he joined his lover on the bed. Why was it that it always seemed as if he had to drag things out of the reserved man? Ever since they’d met he’d been open to Aya about his past, hoping it would encourage the redhead to talk about his. But the man just kept everything bottled up inside, guarding his secrets possessively. Yohji wondered if his boyfriend would have ever told him the truth about Schuldig if the telepath hadn’t mentioned the dreams first. He didn’t know if it was a matter of not enough trust or backward social graces. Maybe both, considering this was Aya he was thinking about. "For the record kitten, stuff like this is usually something you tell your significant other. You know, ‘I like the color blue, chocolate ice cream is my favorite flavor, and I can speak eight languages’. Little things like that so your boyfriend doesn’t look like an idiot in front of people. Hell, even Teddy knew you could speak German before I did." He played with an eartail all during the rant, brushing it back and forth across a pale cheek.

"Hn. I do like the color blue, and green tea is my favorite flavor. Any other inconsequential questions?" Aya wrinkled his nose as a scarlet lock tickled it.

"I’ll make up a list, although it might give me a heart attack if you actually answered the damn thing." Done with his little game, Yohji got up to go get ready. Once more glancing over at the books, he noticed something he missed before. An antique vase decorated with a kitten playing under a camellia tree. It had been part of a floral arrangement Schuldig had sent the swordsman a couple days after their last battle. "Thought you were going to get rid of the damn thing. Sell it or something."

"Hm? Oh, that." The redhead sat up as well. "Omi’s still checking to see if he can trace it back to where it was purchased from. Besides, it’s not like I can just throw it away, it’s a priceless piece of art."

"Dammit, /I/ can." The blond wanted nothing more than to toss the porcelain onto the ground and stomp it into powder.

"Don’t touch it." That came out a bit more sharp than Aya had meant it to. As the playboy glared at him he felt his headache worsen. Trying to come up with a suitable excuse, the redhead replied, "it’s worth a lot of money. Aya-chan might need it some day. So consider the vase a long term investment and keep your hands off of it." The older man appeared the slightest bit mollified at that explanation. Aya didn’t want to admit that he’d developed a mysterious fondness for the piece one day. It confused even him, considering who’d given him the gift. The throbbing pain was back behind his eyes.

"Maybe you should put it somewhere safe, never know what might happen to it in here." Yohji wondered how he could convince Ken to practice soccer in the room.

Knowing Kudoh, Aya resolved to hide the vase away. He started to undress so he could change his clothes. Stripping off his top, the redhead reached over the bed for his burgundy shirt. As he straightened up he felt a pair of arms wrap around his chest and Yohji nuzzling at the back of his neck. He had to force his body to not tense up; Aya was still a bit sensitive to being grabbed from behind. "Yohji, we have to get going. Back off."

Grumbling, the blond did just that. "Fine, deprive me of my pleasure. Spoilsport. Just letting you know now, don’t even think of coming home and falling asleep. I’ve gone without long enough. It’s just not healthy."

Arching an eyebrow at his lover, the redhead failed to point out it hadn’t even been thirty-six hours since the last time they’d made love. The sex fiend would probably start insisting on regular twelve hour intervals if he did. So he just left for the bathroom to finish getting ready. And take a handful of headache medicine.

*******

"Fujimiya-san, these tests will be finished all the quicker if you would just cooperate," Dr. Rōyama responded testily. The point was driven home once again on why he dealt with this individual personally, leaving the other three young men in the care of his assistants. He always made sure to have a free half hour after all of his appointments with Fujimiya, he needed it to regain his calm.

"Why do I need an MRI?" Aya sat on the exam table with his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face. So far he had questioned each and every procedure, wanting to know why his employers were requesting it. If he found out that the rest of Weiß hadn’t gone through them, there was going to be a dead playboy in the morgue.

"Because of your last, er, assignment." Rōyama had been given just enough information on the matter to facilitate the check-ups, same S.O.P. as always. He really didn’t want to know any more than he absolutely had to. “I need to make sure that there aren’t any signs of abnormal brain activity, as this would indicate possible tampering. Your friends have already gone through the procedure, we’ve been staggering the appointments during the visit. All that’s left is for you to undergo the exam, and we’ll be done for the day. " Thankfully. The doctor wasn’t used to being glared at all through an in-depth examination, and having a strong inkling of what the young man did for a living didn’t help his nerves. He wanted rid of Fujimiya as soon as possible. "You can change back into your clothes, then go to room 5118. You should be on your way home within the hour."

"Hn." Summarily dismissing the other man’s presence, Aya jumped off the bed and reached for his clothes. Thankful for the reprieve, Dr. Rōyama left the exam room, eager to spend a few minutes of peace in his office. He’d go over the test results later, the organization he worked for wanted a report as soon as possible. There were going to be several busy lab technicians analyzing the blood work and other samples for the next few hours.

Making his way to the appointment, Aya found Yohji waiting in the hall outside of room 5118. "What are you doing here?"

"Just finished. Guy told me you were scheduled after me, so I decided to stick around. You took off this morning without saying goodbye. Or anything else for that matter." The blond hadn’t been pleased to wake up to an empty bed. Sunday morning was the only one during the week when both men were guaranteed to not have to get up and work. It usually meant lounging around in bed for a couple of hours, more if Yohji was persuasive enough.

"Hn. Wanted to see my sister."

"Could have left a note. Wasn’t even sure if you’d showed up for the physical until a nurse commented on the cute redhead who was giving the doctor one hell of a hard time." Offering his lover a smile, the older man sighed at the blank face he was getting. Aya wouldn’t be fit for human interaction until the test was done and he was out of the hospital. "Listen, I just need to go for some blood work, shouldn’t take as long as this will. How about we grab a bite to eat when you’re finished?" The red head appeared to think about it for a minute and nodded his head. He then proceeded to enter the room without saying another word. Yohji went off for his last test, a corner of his mouth twitching at the smaller man’s behavior.

Procedures soon taken care of, the two men left the building for a nearby restaurant. Once on the street the swordsman stopped and glanced around, face frowning. "Something wrong, kitten?" Yohji asked.

Distracted enough to not snap at the man for using the nickname in public, Aya kept scanning the area. "Just a bad feeling."

"Yeah well the medical staff are probably throwing a party now that you’ve left." The blond lit a cigarette as he waited for his boyfriend to start walking again. "Doc say anything as to why he thought you’ve been having the headaches? You /did/ tell him about them, didn’t you?"

"Yes. He thinks it’s ‘work related stress’, but will know better when the results come back. They say anything about your smoking habit?"

"Just the usual stuff about emphysema, cancer, reduced lung capacity, etc." Yohji reached over to yank on an eartail, smirking back at the glower he received. "Told them between my profession and my current lover I really don’t expect to have a long life expectancy."

"Baka."

"Yep, It’s all part of the Kudoh charm. Completely irresistible. Got me you, didn’t it?"

"Hmph."

"See, you’re so enamored with me I’ve rendered you speechless. Works every time." Yohji just loved the snarling sounds his kitten made.

*******

On his way to the game arcades in hopes of running into a certain brunet soccer player, Omi spied his two other teammates duck into an expensive jewelry store. Perplexed at them visiting a place so obviously outside those specified for this mission, the blond giggled at the obvious solution when a pack of girls appeared. They were loudly disclaiming their disappointment at losing their prey. Poor Ayan and Yotan. Well, make that just Ayan. Yohji was probably torn between relishing the attention he received and jealous at someone else being after his lover. The man’s covetous nature was providing his roommates with an endless amount of amusement. Well, except poor Aya. No wonder the redhead was suffering those debilitating headaches.

Catching a flash of crimson and black, the genki youth concluded that the swordsman must be keeping a watch on the girls. Buying an iced coffee, Omi decided to spend a few minutes seeing how the matter turned out. He was just torturing himself with visiting Ken, anyways. The athlete would become flustered if he showed up, inquiring why the young blond wasn’t out with his friends or at home studying. Which the archer was on his way to, his friends already having left so they could finish their homework. But his hormones had decided they needed their Hidaka fix before he spent the night writing a paper on the impact of the Japanese economy on its political system. Or some other nonsense he could come up with to appease his political science teacher. Too bad nobody ever asked him to write a paper on how many different ways you could kill a person with common household items. Now that would be fun.

Oh, it looked as if the girls had given up. Or decided their quarry wasn’t in the area anymore. En masse they charged off in the direction of a popular music store. Couple minutes later a crimson maned head cautiously peered outside the door of the jewelry store. Violet eyes scanned the crowd, resting briefly on the Weiß chibi before continuing their search. After yet another minute the two older assassins left the store. Omi noted that Yohji was surreptitiously slipping a tiny box into his pocket.

Finishing his drink, the youth kept his gaze on the couple, trying to ignore the stab of envy he felt upon seeing them stroll down the street so close to each other. He knew Ken well enough that trying to force the brunet to admit his feelings wouldn’t work. It would just scare the man away. Moving from his bench to throw out the container, Omi caught a flash of reddish orange out of the corner of his eye. It couldn’t be. Dodging through the crowd in the direction he’d thought he’d seen the bit of color vanish in, he eventually realized that the search was futile. There were too many people walking around with reddish colored hair. Although none of them matched the exact shade or length that he’d thought he’d seen. It must be a case of nerves or something. Maybe.

*******

"Feel better after the shower, kitten?" Yohji asked his boyfriend as the man entered their room, wrapped in a smoke coloured yukata decorated with irises. Aya had taken a long hot shower with the hopes of easing his headache. The more relaxed he was the better he would feel.

"Hn." The redhead sat down on the bed and started to dry his hair with a towel. "Here, let me help with that," the playboy offered, taking over the chore. He sat behind the smaller man, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt, his hair mostly tied back. The blond had been waiting for Aya before turning in for the night.

After rubbing the towel over the scarlet locks for a couple minutes he tossed the wet cloth back on the bed and combed his fingers through the slightly damp mass. Once the tangles were all taken care of he massaged the redhead’s scalp until his lover was purring. "You really enjoy that, don’t you love?" Aya just leaned back into the older man’s arms in response. Eyes closed, he felt Yohji place something small in his hands. Looking down at the small gift-wrapped box the slim appendage held, he tilted his head back to try and see the blond’s expression. "What’s this?"

"Open it and find out." Yohji shifted about so he could watch his lover’s face. Aya was so cute when he was given a present, all indecisive and nervous as he never allowed himself to be any other time. Somehow the blond doubted the pale man had ever received many gifts during his life. At least not many that didn’t come with some sort of strings attached or ulterior motive.

Carefully peeling back the gilt paper, Aya found himself holding a velvet covered box. Nibbling on his lip as he opened it, violet eyes stared at what was revealed. A silver bell, finely carved to resemble a rose, was attached to a black velvet ribbon and nestled within the box. "Why?"

Tightening his arms around the slender figure, Yohji murmured into his kitten’s ear. "Saw it in the store and thought of you. Always said you needed a bell so I could keep track of you sneaking around, and I couldn’t resist buying it." Plus there had been the urge to give something to the reserved man to make him forget all about that fucking vase. To remind Aya who it was that loved him. "You going to try it on?"

As the redhead just quietly sat there, his boyfriend reached over to grasp the choker. It only took a minute to clasp it around an alabaster neck, a slight flick made the bell chime a soft pure note. Lifting a hand to still the sound, Aya commented in a hushed voice that he hadn’t bought the blond any presents.

"Don’t worry about it. You have more important things to spend your cash on. Just wear the choker every now and then and I’ll consider that more than enough of a gift." Yohji lowered his mouth to the junction of where a pale neck met an equally pale shoulder. Brushing his lips and tongue on the tender skin, he pulled Aya more firmly into his lap.

Trying to lose himself into the sensations, the redhead found he just couldn’t relax with the playboy behind him like that. Sensing his lover’s reluctance, Yohji turned a tense Aya around until he was facing him. "Better?" At the brief nod he quickly stripped off his shirt and pulled down his boxers as he scooted back to the pillow covered headboard. Once resting there he wrapped his lanky arms around a slim waist and again pulled the redhead onto his lap.

Gently pushing down the cotton robe, Yohji lavished each inch of exposed skin he could reach with his mouth. Aya moaned out his name, hands busy working the honey colored waves out of the gumband holding them back. Once the yukata was pushed down to his waist and discarded the older man stretched out a hand to grasp the tube of lubricant on the nightstand as he kissed the redhead, tongue flicking deep in the other’s mouth. Aya was soon breaking off the kiss as he gasped at what the two slickened fingers were doing inside of him.

Concentrating on preparing the smaller man, the blond let out a few moans of his own as a slender hand took the bottle and began to apply lube to his erection in long, slow strokes. Once the redhead was ready he grabbed the man’s hip with one hand, holding him steady as Aya was lowered onto the twitching shaft. As soon as he was fully buried in his lover’s body he let go so Aya could set the pace.

All Aya wanted was to reach that place where there was no more pain or doubt, to lose himself in the pleasure Yohji could make him feel. He lifted most of the way off of the blond’s lap before falling back down swiftly, once more impaling himself. Increasing the pace he felt that golden heat gather deep inside him and start to spread out, leaving his body tingling and his breath hitching. His mouth sought out the older man’s neck, biting down when a hand wrapped around his cock and stroked in time to the thrusts. It wasn’t long before the waves of heat obliterated his senses, blanking out his vision and everything else until a feeling of languid bliss was all that was left. As if from far away he felt Yohji keep thrusting into him until the blond came as well, voice hoarse from calling out his name. He rested against the taller man, face buried in the crook of a gold skinned neck as he gathered up the will to move.

Leaning back into shaking arms, the redhead snagged the wet towel and used it to clean him and Yohji off. When he was done he laid back on the blond’s chest, only now realizing that the choker chimed with his every move. Fingers toying with the silver bell, he whispered ‘thank you’ against Yohji’s slowing pulse. ‘Your welcome’ was murmured onto the top of his head, and he was clutched tighter to the blond. Knowing that sooner or later they would have to move, the two men nonetheless remained as they were, silently enjoying to the feel of each other.

*******

Dr. Rōyama looked away from the report he was compiling and rubbed his eyes. It was late and he was tired. Most of the test results had been normal, although there were a few suggestions that he would make. Such as Hidaka seeing a psychiatrist for anger management purposes, the young man’s stress test indicated he was bottling up a lot of negative emotions. The ever-present comments that Kudoh stop smoking and Tsukiyono get more sleep and no longer spend all his nights in front of a computer terminal or he’d ruin his eyesight. And then there were Fujimiya’s MRI scans. His brain was showing increased activity in regions that normally laid dormant for most people. Very interesting and more than a bit disturbing. It was this activity that was more than likely causing his headaches. He wondered how Kritiker would react to this information. They had always been concerned about any abnormalities that showed up in the redhead’s tests. Attention once more focused on his computer screen, the doctor failed to hear his office door ever so quietly open and close. It wasn’t until a strange figure leaned over his desk that he was aware of no longer being alone.

"Guten Abend, Doktor."

"Who?" Rōyama tried to push himself away from the desk but found his body immobilized. A foreign man with long, reddish colored hair sat on his desk, reading the report.

"Ah, poor Siberian. Always knew that boy wasn’t altogether wrapped too tight. You think him venting on how tough his childhood was and his pathetic attempts to seduce Bombay will make things all better? Not as long as he spends his nights gutting ‘dark beasts’, that’s for sure. Better stock up on the straightjackets right now."

Trying to ask the man what he wanted, the doctor whimpered as his mouth wouldn’t move.

<Don’t worry doc, be a good little lackey and everything will be okay. So these are Abyssinian’s tests results, neh? No wonder the Kätzchen has been in pain lately. Guess I’m pushing a bit too hard too fast.> The longhaired man swore violently in a language other than Japanese for a minute before returning his attention to the frightened physician.

"Here’s the deal. You are going to destroy these test results and substitute a previous one. Whichever old scans of Fujimiya’s that will cause the least interest." Schuldig removed two medicine bottles and a sheet of instructions from an inside pocket of his jacket. "Then you are going to prescribe him these pills. Come up with some excuse, stress, sinuses, whatever. Just make it convincing, and be sure the prescription reflects that. Tell the little kitty he’s to visit you when he needs a refill, it shouldn’t be hard what with him being here almost every day as it is. I’ll make sure you’re stocked up. And under no circumstances is he or Kritiker to figure out what is going on."

<Unless you want to have a messy little family tragedy. I see that your son is in his last year of high school. Such a stressful time for a student. So many suicides when some poor fool breaks under the pressure to get the best test scores so he can enter the college of his choice. Wouldn’t it be a shame if something like that happened? Could tear apart a whole family, yes? Always keep in mind that your loved ones will pay long before you will, and there’s nothing your employer can do to stop me. Or they’d have done it ages ago.>

"Just be an obedient Puppe and follow my instructions if you don’t want your life to become a living hell. Funny thing is you’ll actually be following your Hippocratic oath if you do as I say. Think of it as doing the poor boy a favor. I’ll be checking up on you every now and then, so don’t get any ideas and do something stupid. There’s no way you can out-maneuver a telepath and a psychic. Remember who will pay if you try." Scanning the doctor’s mind, Schuldig judged that he had emphasized his point well enough that the man would obey his every whim. He left the office, keeping a light mental probe on the terrorized man. After Rōyama regained control of his body and stopped shaking he pulled out a lighter and burned the test results in his trashcan. Then he was almost frantic in his search for an older film he could alter and substitute for the destroyed one. Convinced that the doctor would be able to successfully pull off the cover up, the telepath stopped at a bar for a drink. Searching out a mind he had recently become permanently linked to, he commenced another probe, this one surprisingly delicate in its intensity. Didn’t want to give his Knuddelhäschen another migraine, much as he had when he’d scanned the swordsman’s mind the other night in the shopping arcade. Ah, his little tuberose was being pounced on by the degeneriertem Schwanzlutscher. Resisting the urge to increase the scan’s pressure until the redhead was writhing in agony and not pleasure, Schuldig broke off contact.

Hee. Imagine, the Guilty Once jealous and suffering from unrequited love. Cassandra had tried to warn him about this, and of the damage he could do if he gave in to the emotions. That’s what one got for forcibly tying their destiny to a Katalisator. His obsession and attraction had led to his current situation. But it would also lead to him waltzing away with the ultimate prize. The sweet tuberose was already showing signs of the German’s mental tampering. That was in part the reason behind the headaches.

Abyssinian’s mind was reacting to the link he’d instigated while fighting Schuldig a few weeks ago, trying to adapt to the situation imposed on it. The poor Kätzchen wasn’t a telepath, but due to his unique nature his mind could adjust to support the connection. At least as long as it wasn’t under too much stress. Such as powerful emotions and more telepathic interference. Or desperate to fight off what it considered an insidious influence. Schuldig’s possible future scenario that he’d engaged the man’s subconscious in two weeks ago was taking its toll. He knew he should have left the assassin alone a while longer, but hadn’t been able to resist. And it had been the sweetest bliss at how his little tuberose had responded to him.

Afterwards Cassandra had scathingly informed him of the damage he’d inflicted, and of what he would have to do to correct the situation. The German hadn’t truly believed the half mad woman until Schwarz returned to Japan and he’d tracked Abyssinian down. He’d found the young man involved in a new mission and having dinner with that Penner Balinese. Schuldig then witnessed first hand how the swordsman’s mind reacted to being telepathically scanned. The worst of it was knowing that he was responsible for the situation and that his impatience had just pushed his plans that much farther into the future. He was /so/ not good at patience, especially for something that he’d already waited for too long as it was. Doubly so for something he wanted this badly. Abyssinian all his and the man’s special nature available for him to exploit however he wanted to.

The drugs he’d supplied to the Kritiker doctor should help with the headaches while assisting the Weiß redhead’s brain in healing. The most difficult part was going to be Schuldig refraining from delving deep into that utterly delicious psyche until it did so. The short-tempered little kitty was such a treat. He hoped Abyssinian and his whore enjoyed their respite. As soon as the Kätzchen’s mind was up to it Schuldig intended to continue his manipulations until the poor boy was completely his.

*******

Unruhestifter - troublemaker

Puppe – puppet

*******

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