Of Cups and Wands

by nekojita

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Disclaimer #1:WeiŖ is not mine. At least not yet, but since Iím not quite ready to unleash the terrible plan that will make them mine for all eternity, I will stick with this disclaimer for now. Teddy, Mickey and Cassandra are all mine. Nice to know I own something.

Disclaimer #2: Okay, donít know if youíve read any of Kabukiís wonderful fics (if you havenít, do so right away, you wonít regret it). If you have you might notice a few familiar seeming plot themes, whatever. It is purely unintentional. You have no amount of the screaming we do when we beta each otherís stories. Much of it along the lines of Ďyou bitch, I am/will be writing something just like that. Shi-ne.í (re: Youjiís multilingualism and the Humphrey Bogart movie festival, just to name two). Put it down to two great and evil minds thinking alike, or something like that, and enjoy two different approaches to the thing. Waiting to find out we were part of some telepathic gene program when we were children. The dreaded A-gene. Attack of the Snugglebunnies, whatever. Anyways, rambled on enough, hereís the story.

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Chapter 1

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There was sunlight streaming down, and the scent of an abundant garden and salt water in the distance. Aya walked farther down the stone path until he came to a large house. The architecture kept shifting about, as if unable to decide how the building should look. He entered the house, finding it improbably overflowing with light. Against one wall was a large loom, filled with numerous dark threads. In front of it was a woman with long dark hair; much like the threads she was leaving. She turned around to face the swordsman, light grey eyes flashing.

"Youíre not supposed to be here at this point. Donít you have any sense of boundaries, star child?"

"Who are you?" The redhead had never seen the woman before, why was she addressing him so familiarly?

"No names. Not here. No star child either, not yet. Iím busy, canít you see? Weaving your cloak and chains. Best if you go back to your knightís side, there will be company soon. The past returns for a few more revolutions, seeking a debtís payment." The woman appeared upset; her hands flew this way and that, as if she was still weaving. Aya eyed the woman curiously, wondering if he should be worried. That thought was repeated as the disturbed creature stopped in front of him, a hand touching the young man on his chest. "Heíll be seeking a missed opportunity as well, but the past is gone. No claim on you, already there is one too many. Oh so bright, the flame to draw the moths. Busy busy you keep me, masking that light. This visit doesnít help me at all. Go back, and enjoy your respite. The evil child wonít let it last for long, his teeth gnashing in jealousy and desire. Go go go." She moved her hands as if shoo-ing a child or small animal away.

About to ask another question, Aya felt a tug on his awareness. Focusing on it, the house and woman started to fade away. Before they disappeared entirely he heard her say, "Iím so sorry." He had a brief moment wondering what she was apologizing for before the redhead found himself awake, sitting up in bed. Clutched in one hand was the knife he kept between the mattress and headboard and the bed sheets in another, as his bleary eyes tried to focus on the surprised woman standing in the doorway to his bedroom. Beside him in bed Yohji started to mutter.

"Manx. What the hell do you want?" At those word the blond man woke and sat up as well, cursing under his breath. He turned to face the agent, sheets slipping off him as he moved. Aya snatched the material higher, not caring for being naked in front of the woman.

Green eyes blinked at the sight presented to them. "Iím sorry, I didnít mean to wake you. Where are Omi and Ken? Thereís a mission I need to discuss with WeiŖ right away."

"You woke us up for a mission? Couldnít you have at least waited until the evening before bothering us? Itís Sunday, for crying out loud." Yohji was not very happy at having his day off ruined so early. Hell, it was barely eleven in the morning. Usually he didnít get out of bed until at least one. Later if he could Ďpersuadeí the kitten to stay there with him. Heíd already done it once this morning, and had been taking a well deserved rest after that bout of activity.

"Iím sorry if Iím interfering with your nap time." The womanís voice was positively frosty. "Something important has come up, and Kritiker needs WeiŖ to handle it immediately. Fujimiya put that damn knife away."

"Hn." Aya sheathed the blade and set it down next to his leg. He then shifted behind his boyfriend, pressing against the manís back. It was a bit uncomfortable to be wearing no clothes while in the womanís presence. Yohji just glared back at her, not looking away as he reached behind him for the smaller manís arms and pulling them around his waist. The action caused Aya to lean forward, his chin resting on a golden shoulder. And for the sheets to shift away farther. Another inch or two and Manx would be getting quite an eyeful.

"The youngsters are out for the day. Kenís brats are playing in some tournament, and Omiís their personal pep squad. So why donít you just go away and come back later? One redhead at a time is my limit." The playboy enjoyed the slight flush that crept upon the redheaded womanís face as she tried to keep her eyes from wandering away from his face. Each time they dipped down the redness increased. He wasnít in the mood to flirt with the woman right now, if he had to be awake on a Sunday morning, others should suffer. All the better if it was for his own personal amusement. Aya pinched at his ribs, a silent order for him to behave, but all the older man did was lace his fingers inbetween those of the pale manís. There was a quiet Ďhní as the smaller man shifted closer, still feeling very uncomfortable with the situation.

Manx was feeling a bit heated from staring at the two assassins. Yohji tilted his head back to nuzzle at Ayaís face, causing the sheet slipped yet a little further. Most likely it happened on purpose. The blond definitely didnít have a problem with showing off his physique, and with the ample evidence before her the woman decided he didnít have any reason for being shy. Although he was a little on the thin side for her tastes. Too bad all she could see of Fujimiya now was his head and arms. The glimpse she had caught before had been quite nice.

Shaking her head at the thoughts, a flash of anger helped the agent to concentrate on why she was there. "I donít have the time to come back later. How about you getting out of bed and putting some clothes on while I wait downstairs. Iíll inform you of the situation so you can fill the others in later." Manx turned around to leave the room. She kept walking forward as she called out, "If youíre not down in five minutes, Iím coming back up with a pitcher of cold water."

"Yeah, as if that would stop us, right kitten?" Yohji once more tilted his head back so as to get a look at the smaller man. And abruptly clutched the manís wrists as he tried to remove his arms from the blond and move away. "Heh, where to do you think youíre going?" He twisted around to scowl at his lover. The unspoken rule was no leaving the bed before noon on Sundays.

"To get dressed. You heard her, thereís a mission." Aya tried again to free his arms, but Yohji held on doggedly. So he tugged on them a bit harder. The older man suddenly released one limb while jerking on the other, causing the redhead to sprawl into his lap. He growled threateningly at the pouting blond. "Kudoh, behave."

"No." The blond turned angry green eyes on the smaller man. "Itís Sunday, and for once we have the house all to ourselves. What is so important that I have to give that up, hmm? This is the second Sunday this month thatís been filled with Kritiker business, and thatís two too many."

"If we go downstairs maybe we could find out," the redhead said icily.

"Donít care. Iíve already decided to not take the mission," was the blondís smug reply.

"Kudoh," Aya growled out again as the other man bent down to blow in his ear. The older man huffed and finally let him go. He got out of bed and searched for something to wear. Finding a mostly clean pair of jeans folded on the couch, the redhead didnít have much luck in finding a readily available shirt he was willing to wear. Fortunately he had finally moved a few articles of clothing into one of Yohjiís drawers, so he crossed the room and took a shirt from there. Laundry was at the top of the list of necessary chores to be done. Finally getting off of the bed as well, the playboy grumbled under his breath as he started to get dressed also. "This better damn well be worth it," he mumbled as he pulled a tight t-shirt on.

Once mostly presentable, the two of them made their way to the mission room. Manx was waiting impatiently for the men, tapping her foot rapidly. "So glad you could make it," she snapped at the assassins. The pale man pushed his ready to protest boyfriend onto the couch and plopped down in his lap. That should keep the blond quiet and mostly out of trouble. Readjusting the hands that had immediately settled in his lap, Aya shook his head as he hoped for the first one.

The agent immediately handed them some folders. She graced Yohjiís Ďwhat, no movie?í comment with a dirty look. Aya couldnít recall the last time heíd seen the woman so unlike her normally composed self. "There wasnít any time. Hereís the situation. When... when Shuuichi Takatori, known to you as Persia, was killed, Kritiker experienced some internal upheaval. It was quickly taken care of, but some damage was done. It now appears that one of our employees took advantage of the confusion to steal some files. Nothing major, they didnít have the clearance to grab anything more than just a list of some low level contacts. This has come to light as those contacts have been systematically murdered the past two days."

"Agents have been dispatched to warn those persons still alive, and an intensive in-house search is being conducted to find out who is responsible. WeiŖís skills are required to find the man who bought the list and eliminate him and anyone else involved in this matter. With extreme prejudice. Kritiker cannot allow something like this to go unpunished, and an example must be made to discourage anyone else from trying again. However, if by some reason our search fails to turn up a culprit by the time WeiŖ is ready to take out the target, you will be required to bring him in for questioning."

"Whoís the target?" Aya asked. Yohji just sat there silently, for once respectful of the graveness of the situation.

"Yuzo Soma. An entrepreneur with underworld connections. Heís hoping to make a name for himself by hurting the organization, and possibly to pay Kritiker back for something. Understandably, his presence in Tokyo has been very low key the past week or so. One of the files contain all of the necessary information we have on him. Your best bet will be staking out the club he owns, Sōdō, along with his girlfriend, Miho Kisaragi." Calm demeanor back once more, Manx paused to look intently at the former detective. "Kudoh, I take it you can be counted on for that last part?"

"No." There wasnít any call for the smugness of that answer.

Well, the calm demeanor /had/ been back. "What? Have you heard anything Iíve said? This mission is very critical, all of your teamís skills will be needed." Manx was once again tapping her foot, only this time in anger.

Yohji just smiled as he rubbed his cheek on Ayaís shoulder, his arm tight around the manís waist. His lover ignored him as he flipped through the files. "I feel like I need a break. All that interrupted sleep, you know."

Manx all but hissed in frustration, her vision turning red. Yohji bit back on a smirk, then suddenly felt the smaller man go stiff in his arms. "Iím in." There was an odd tone in the manís voice, a trace of heat under the normal coldness. Yohji blinked at the sound of it, but the redheaded woman only nodded her head, as if she had never doubted the outcome. There was more going on here that the playboy didnít understand but knew he didnít like. The kitten was up to something, and that was never a good thing.

"Alright, Iím in after all. Canít let Aya have all fun. And Iím sure Ken and Omi will agree too." For some reason the pale man became even stiffer.

Manx didnít bat an eyelash at the lanky manís sudden change of heart. "So glad to hear that. Any of the organizationís resources that you might need will be at your disposal. This mission has top priority, and you will be compensated accordingly. Now if you will excuse me, there are a lot of other things I need to tend to. Fujimiya, would you mind walking me to my car? Iíd like to ask you a question or two about your health, and that way would save me some time."

Aya nodded and got to his feet, pushing Yohjiís arm aside. The playboy narrowed his eyes as he watched the two redheads leave. He lit a cigarette before following them up the steps.

Manx eyed the swordsman curiously. He looked a lot better than the last time she had seen him, there werenít any lines of pain around his mouth like the last time sheíd seen him. "So, how are the headaches coming along? Any more complications from the medicine?"

"Besides not being able to eat for an hour or so after taking the pills, no." The pale man didnít feel like mentioning his relapse from last week, when heíd forgotten to take his medicine one night, thanks to Yohji being more distracting than usual. Waking up at four am in the morning in intense pain had strongly discouraged him from such memory lapses ever again. "The sleepiness has gone away, along with the pain." Aya waited until they were out in the street to continue. "But that isnít what you really want to know, is it?"

"No. I take it you recognized a name back there." Manx said.

"Koge Moriyama. How is Crashers handling his death?"

The woman twisted her lips in irritation. "Not well. They are very upset that the matter has been taken out of their hands. I fear there might be a little Ďinterferenceí with this assignment."

"Hn." If Aya knew his former teammates as well as he thought, that was quite the understatement. "What is WeiŖ to do about that?"

"Should any of your former teammates seek to involve themselves with revenge, it will be your responsibility to make sure that things donít go too far. Do whatever you deem necessary. Crashers can not kill, and failure to follow that rule will lead to immediate dismissal from the group. Something that Kritiker canít afford right now. We need all of our agents at this point, and canít lose any to stupidity. Queen has assured me that Bishop and she will do what they can to prevent that from happening, but Iíd rather put my faith in you."

"Hn." The situation must be bad then. Aya stopped walking when they reached the womanís sedan. "Anything else?"

"One more thing. There have been reports of Schwarz being back in Japan. Have you had any contact with Mastermind since the Sybil mission?" The older woman noted the slight flicker of surprise on the swordsmanís face.

"No." Aya thought he was telling the truth, and Manx believed him. The agent just sighed and got into her car.

Watching until the car disappeared from sight, the redhead wrapped an arm around his chest and hugged himself. Crashers. He hadnít thought to see anyone from that team again ever since he had left it almost a year and a half ago, intent on revenge and money for his sister. That hadnít been a graceful leave-taking, and he didnít relish running into his former teammates again. Especially one in particular. He went back inside the Koneko, where he found his boyfriend waiting for him.

Emerald eyes regarded him coolly. "So, going to tell me what is going on?" Yohji drawled as he lit his second cigarette in the past five minutes.

"I told her I was fine."

That earned the smaller man a glare. "Youíre already pissing me off by trying to hide something, donít make it worse by insulting my intelligence. What did she really want to talk to you about?"

Debating how much he could hold back from the man, Aya flipped open one of the folders on the kitchen table until he found the photo of a middle aged man with cropped grey hair and broken nose. It would be best to tell the ex-detective something; Yohji would just keep picking away at the matter until he found out, then be doubly upset. "Koge Moriyama. A former police officer. Left the force after exposing some corruption among the administration. He retained a lot of friends in the ranks though, a lot of contacts. That made him the perfect go-between for Crashers. Heíd help out with information, and Ďleakí certain things back to the police. So when the group set someone up the law would arrive right in time. The man was killed yesterday morning."

"You knew him." It wasnít a question.

"I met him a time or two. He mainly dealt with two other teammates, Knight and Rook. They wonít be taking his death very well, they considered him a friend." Aya reflected on the jovial, pun-loving man who had ruined his career by exposing his dirty superiors. As far as the swordsman could tell the former policeman had never regretted his decision.

"Huh. It must be hard to lose a friend like that and not be able to do anything about it." Taking in the manís silence, Yohji drew a conclusion. "Or are they doing something about it?"

"Thatís what Manx wanted to talk to me about. They might. Iím to keep them from going too far." The redhead pulled out a chair and sat on it. His boyfriend stepped behind him and massaged his shoulders.

His loverís muscles were in knots from the tension. Aya didnít appear too happy with the prospect of running into his old friends. Yohji wondered why, the man had said next to nothing about his former team. "Not asking a lot, are they? Well, guess one of us should call the kids, let them know to come straight home after the game. So much for laying about in bed all day." He kept up the massage for another couple of minutes. "How about some eggs, hmm?"

"Hn."

Golden hands moved up into crimson hair, combing through the strands. Aya tilted his head back to enjoy the sensation, and wasnít startled to find a pair of lips caressing his neck. "How about we wait a little bit before eating, hmm?" was murmured against pale skin. The smaller man let himself be pulled up from the chair and led back upstairs. It would be nice not to think about some things for the next hour or so.

*******

"Let me get this straight. Somebody just waltzes on in and steals a list of contacts to sell to the highest bidder how many months ago, and Kritiker is only now finding out about it? Doesnít that just inspire massive confidence in our employers." Ken wasnít very happy with life right now and let the others know it as he kept dumping sugar into his coffee. To be pulled back home on his day off, having to cut short his kidsí celebration for winning the soccer tournament and his plans with Omi for the night. Doubly irritating to him was the fact that both of the older assassins appearing as if fresh from a shower meant they at least had been enjoying themselves during the day. The last thing he needed to see, considering how sexually frustrated heíd been feeling lately. It didnít help matters much that his love life was so messed up while Yohjiís and Ayaís was as hot as ever.

"Maa, Ken-kun, it was a very hectic time. Iím surprised that the person managed only to find a list of such low level contacts. It could have been us targeted." Omi had meant for the comment to be reassuring, but gulped at the last few words when he realized what he was saying. "I mean Iím sure weíre perfectly safe. Manx would have said if they suspected us of being on the list."

"One hopes," Yohji remarked as he lit a cigarette. The four assassins were seated at the kitchen table, everyone but Aya drinking a cup of coffee. The swordsman was nursing a cup of tea, having just taken his medication. "It looks like weíre club-bound once more. Iíll be busy tracking down this Kisaragi chick, working the Kudoh charm on her to find out where the target is hiding. Shouldnít take me very long, it never fails." Yohji winked at Aya during this remark. Two sets of eyes rolled at the smokerís inflated sense of ego. The remaining member of WeiŖ merely resisted the urge to smack his boyfriend.

"Someone should get a job at the club," was Ayaís lone contribution to the discussion so far. He went back to sipping his tea as the others pondered the comment.

The groupís tactician ran several scenarios through his mind. "Yohjiís out, it would be best if he wasnít hampered by a job for his part of the mission. I suggest Ken, since I doubt theyíll hire someone as young as me in a place like that. Aya, youíd be best as a customer, youíd attract too much attention if you were an employee, and thatís not needed for this job."

The pale man hníed as Ken looked beseechingly at the young blond. "Sorry, Ken-kun, but itíll have to be you. Iíll hack into the placement agency the club uses to set up a file for you, and make sure you get the job sometime tomorrow or Tuesday the latest.

Great, the brunet thought, this day has just gotten worse. Distracted by thoughts of his impending duties, he took a sip from his coffee mug and ended up spitting the coffee laced sugar onto the table. Omi quickly grabbed a towel to wipe up the mess as he pounded the sputtering man on the back. Kudoh laughed hysterically at the sight as Aya just closed his eyes and rested his head on a propped up hand.

"What are we going to do about the flower shop?" Yohji asked once he stopped chuckling. The look on poor Kenkenís face had been priceless. "Manx said this assignment had priority, so do we keep the Koneko open or close it up?"

Omi bit at his lip as he tried to make a decision. "Itíll be suspicious if itís closed and weíre still around. Plus thereís the entire inventory that would go to waste, and weíve been closed an awful lot lately. Iíd hate to lose the regulars."

A long sigh had three sets of eyes looking Ayaís way. "Need new coolers and electrical system. Have Kritiker arrange for them, close the shop to walk-ins, just handle the orders." There was a slight tone to the pale manís voice that suggested he thought his teammates were oblivious idiots, and he didnít even bother with opening his eyes during the speech. Feeling nauseous tended to make him grouchier than usual.

Yohjiís hand sought out and yanked on a scarlet eartail. "Trust you to come up with a way to have the bosses pay for the needed overhauls." Rubbing the immediately smacked limb, the playboy regarded the younger WeiŖ. "How does that sound to you?"

"Sugoi! Weíve needed it done for the longest time, this is the perfect opportunity. Plus this way weíll only have to work a couple hours a day in the shop, making the arrangements and delivering them." It was a very good solution, and Omi beamed at the redhead in his happiness as he thanked the swordsman for coming up with the perfect solution.

Violet eyes opened and blinked at the chibi. Omi had been a bitÖ standoffish around him lately. Most of the interactions between the young blond and the quiet man had contained an element of watchfulness and wariness on the youthís part. Aya was startled to find himself warming slightly to the first real smile heíd had from the youth in almost two weeks

At least that was some small compensation, Hidaka thought as relief for not working two full time jobs washed through him. Maybe he would be able to find a little time to see his kids after all. "Whatís Ayaís job this time?"

Omi was very careful not to look over at the redhead. "Heíll be covering the club, trying to find whatever leads he can." If what Schuldig had told him was true, it would benefit the team to have Aya roaming about, his talent pulling the Ďnecessary elementsí for the mission to him. The youth shuddered slightly as he thought of what the redhead was, and of his pact with Mastermind to protect the man. "And heíll be keeping an eye out for any party crashers." Ken looked perplexed at that last bit, but blue and violet eyes gazed at each other, not needing to say anything else out loud. Manx had left a note about Crasherís possible involvement in Omiís folder.

"So Iíll be working the girlfriend angle, Aya will be working the club, and Ken will be working the inside. I assume youíll be tracking Soma down on the computer, heh kiddo? Sounds like we have all the bases covered. Now if things will just go according to the plans for once, this job should be a piece of cake." With that last remark the playboy stretched his arms and stood up. He opened up a kitchen drawer and grabbed the folder holding all the takeout menus. "Speaking of food, whoís in the mood for some Indian tonight?" As the younger men started to yell out their suggestions for dinner, Aya quietly groaned and laid his head on the table. Yohji just had to mention food, didnít he. Sadistic bastard. He swiftly got up and left the room before he got sick.

*******

Yohji walked into his loverís room as the man was pulling a black silk knit shirt over his head. Smiling at the redheadís halo of staticky hair, he walked over to the smaller man and ran his fingers through the mop. "Something got your fur standing on end there, kitten?"

Violet eyes glared at him. The blond stepped back to look the swordsman up and down, ignoring the look with practiced ease. Tight black leather pants, black boots, black short-sleeved shirt. "You just love the monochromatic style, donít you?" Yohji was convinced that Aya owned so many black clothes because it made him getting dressed all that much easier. If the redhead didnít look so fucking gorgeous in them heíd burn them all. He was wearing a pair of black leather pants himself, but had chosen a brilliant green poetís shirt that made his eyes glow and was half unlaced to show off a toned chest. There was an ornate gothic cross on a leather thong around his neck, and Yohji had traded his gold hoop earring for an emerald stud. Overall a less sinister and more romantic look than the one his boyfriend had chosen. The type of club they were heading to tonight would require a bit of glitter, being a tad on the exclusive side. "As much as I find the morose look appealing, youíre going to need a little more flash than that if you want to get in the door."

"Hn." Aya walked over to his dresser and opened a box resting on top of it. Surveying its contents, he tried to decide what to wear that night. After a moment he settled on a platinum bracelet studded with rubies and opals, then a black velvet band adorned with a rose shaped bell. ĎThis flashy enough,í the redhead seemed to silently inquire with a raised eyebrow. Yohjiís eyes lightened at the sight of the choker, and he pulled the other man close to him.

"That looks good enough to me." Tilting up the smaller manís face for a kiss, he ran his hands under the black shirt. The bell chimed as Aya shivered. It was only when he felt himself growing hard that the blond let go of his lover. Delighting in the way the his lover still clung to him, Yohji bent his head to nuzzle at a gold earring. "How long do you think this mission will last? We never did have that weekend getaway." It had been postponed until Aya recovered from the effects of his medication, and the two men had just resumed discussing it in the past few days. "One week, maybe two? Iím going to go on a murder spree if I donít get some uninterrupted time with you soon."

"Hn." Aya buried his face in the crook of his loverís shoulder, breathing in deeply the scent of the tall man. It was getting so that he didnít even mind the smell of tobacco anymore. Or immune to it. "Two at the most. Theyíll be pushing for us to finish it quickly. So say three weeks from now." As long as they were quick and successful in this mission, the couple should be able to dictate to Manx and Birman that they needed a weekend off. A slight smile curved the pale manís lips as he thought about that discussion, and the redheaded womanís reaction to it. Birman would probably try to find out where they were going and bug the room. The hard part would be getting Omi and Ken to agree.

"Hmm, Iíll make the reservations tomorrow. Found this cozy little place, you wonít even want to leave the room. Not that itís an option." Yohji swiftly danced backwards, missing most of the blow that comment provoked. "Try not to break too many hearts tonight, kitten," the blond said as he breezed out of the room. It just wasnít a proper day until he had his lover threatening to kill him.

*******

Entering the crowded establishment, Yuushi Honjyou gave the club a thorough once over, golden eyes taking in every detail. There were enough men in dark business suits whose expensive cuts didnít quite hide some interesting bulges that let an experienced person know this place wasnít exactly on the legitimate side. It looked as if the information that Queen had managed to find out before being shut out of the case had been on the money. This was where Knight would find Moriyamaís killer.

It had been decided that the golden haired man would be the one to gain vengeance for the slain informant. Moriyama had worked with Crashers for the past four years, and had been considered a trusted friend. The news of his death had hit the whole team rather hard, in fact Pawn had cried for hours. When they had found out that Kritiker was freezing them out of tracking down the person who had murdered the man, Crashers had not been happy at all. Bishop and Queen both had promised their superiors that they would back off, and had then ordered Knight to take a week or so Ďvacationí. It was a little disconcerting to not have the rest of his friends as backup, but Yuushi understood that this was the best way to get revenge for the man and not endanger the group.

So here he was, in a place like this, looking for a Yuzo Soma. It was not going to be easy. If the man had any intelligence at all he had to know that Kritiker had unleashed the hounds on him. But it was still a place to start; maybe Knight would overhear something that would provide a better lead. Trying to fit in, the agent walked over to a bar and ordered a drink. His dark grey slacks and light blue shirt were a bit on the dressy side, considering what the other patrons were clothed in, but heíd managed to get inside the club after all. Maybe it had been the leather coat heíd been wearing; from what he could see it was a pretty popular choice for a fabric.

Nursing his imported beer, Yuushi wandered throughout the club. He was careful not to get too close to the yakuza goons, but he made sure to note where they were at all times. They seemed a bit on the relaxed side, so it was highly doubtful that Soma was going to pay his establishment a visit tonight. One of the men appeared to have his attention focused on something in the corner, and curious as to what was occupying the manís thoughts, Yuushi turned around to investigate. And almost dropped his pint.

At first he thought he was seeing things, or that it was just a trick of the dim light that made him believe he was looking at a familiar visage. But there was no mistaking the air of cold disdain that if anything had just intensified in the year or more since heíd last seen the redhead. Ran Fujimiya was standing off in the distance, doing his best to ignore the laughing people around him. It couldnít be a coincidence, the man had to be here for the same reason that the blond was.

Yuushi felt something almost like pain in his chest as he stared at the swordsman. Ran Fujimiya. That name was usually followed by a good bit of curses and more than a little regret. The fiery man had made such an impact on everyone in Crashers before he had suddenly left the group, never looking back. Bishop had passed on a little over a year ago that heíd heard that Fujimiya was back in Kritiker, and everyone had taken it personally that the man hadnít returned to the group. And there he was, totally oblivious to the empty space he had left behind with his departure, assumingly occupied with a mission. Yuushi wondered if he was here just for the money and if he even knew that Moriyama was dead.

It was hard to tear his eyes of the redhead. The pale man was completely decked out in skintight black, even sporting a band around his neck. The only flash of color was the crimson hair, flashing violet eyes and a glitter of red and silver on his wrist. There was something about the man that drew oneís attention in and refused to let it go. It seemed him and the yakuza soldier werenít the only ones so ensnared, as a trio of women settled right next to Ran and carried on in an exaggerated manner, desperate to make the gorgeous man notice them. Unsurprisingly to anyone who knew the redhead, he just ignored them. When the women took to dancing where they stood, constantly brushing up against the swordsman, Ran stalked off to the bar.

The blond found his feet moving before he could even think about doing something. Straight to the bar behind a certain slender young man. Ran had just waved to the bartender when a golden arm snaked out beside him and placed an empty pint glass down on the bar. "Honjyou." The man didnít sound surprised that he was in the club at all.

"Fujimiya. You knew I was here?" Yuushi was trying to figure out when Ran had spotted him, he definitely hadnít indicated that heíd seen him. The taller man caught his breath as the redhead twisted around to face him. He stared at the pale face. Now he knew what had been bothering him when heíd first caught sight of the redhead. "You cut your hair." The blond reached out a hand to tug on a crimson lock, shorter than heíd ever seen it. It made Ran look so different, or maybe it was his imagination.

A white hand reached up and stopped his before it could touch the strands. "Hai. Saw you when you walked in." Violet eyes glared up at the blond. "You shouldnít be here. Go home and leave this to those better suited for it."

No hello, how are you. No inquiring about the others. No pleasant surprise or happiness, just that cold, superior attitude that drove Knight absolutely nuts. "You stuck up little bastard." The older man twisted his wrist until it was the pale hand that was trapped in a grip, not the other way round. He squeezed hard enough that he had to be hurting the redhead, trying to provoke some sort of reaction. But the other man just sat there, face impassive. "Still the same old Ran I see. Guess some things will never change. Do you even know why I am here?"

"For a friend." Aya wasnít about to mention the dead manís name in this place. "He hasnít been forgotten, and someone will pay. So just go home, thereís nothing you can do."

"Like hell. Nice to see you still remember something from your time with us, one couldnít tell what with the way you left and never looked back." Yuushi leaned forward, mouth almost nuzzling against the manís ear. "Did you ever think of us, or where you just too happy becoming a murderer to care? Ever get that revenge you were so desperately seeking?"

There was a slight chiming sound as the redhead shook minutely. Whereas the crushing grip had failed to get a response, something in the last few seconds had. The smaller man pulled back, suddenly skittish as if nervous about the blondís presence. Knight couldnít believe it; he had never seen Ran act like this before. It made him suddenly aware of the scent of musk and roses, of the heat radiating off the slim body next to his. "Something the matter, Ran?"

Aya tried to put some distance between him and Yuushi, but the man kept moving with him. It was a bit disconcerting to have the blond so close, he didnít like it one bit. Nor the hot breath on his neck, reminding him of Yohji. "Itís not Ran anymore, itís Aya. As for the rest itís none of your business. I was only supposed to be a temporary fix, so of course I moved on. Now let go of me."

"No." This was much too intriguing to leave alone. All those months Fujimiya had been a member of Crashers, Yuushi hadnít been able to provoke any strong reactions in the smaller man besides anger, frustration and contempt. Maybe a little bit of affection, but that was in doubt. The other emotions had been very definite, considering the way they had clashed. But for the first time ever the blond was left with the belief that Ran, AyaÖ whatever, was aware of him in some other way than as just a teammate. Heíd have given anything to have provoked that response when the young man had been filling in for Rook. It was a bit disturbing to discover that he cared very much over the fact that he had finally gotten one now. The older man lifted his other hand to play with the bell, fingers brushing against the pale neck. "Youíre not leaving so easily this time," a husky voice replied.

Furious amethyst eyes glared at him, their intensity a bit surprising but not unexpected. Yuushi had suffered through many of those killing looks before; for the most part he could brush the glare off. "This is /not/ the time or place for this. I thought you were supposed to be a professional." Aya broke off the glare momentarily to judge how much attention the two of them were attracting. There were several pairs of eyes focused on them, obviously trying to puzzle out what was happening between the two men. One of the sets was a very familiar hue of emerald green. Noting the vehemence contained in those orbs, Aya stared into them and shook his head, ever so slightly. The person he was silently communicating with wasnít too happy with the situation, but knew better than to interfere right away. The redhead hoped he diffused the situation soon.

Knight resisted the impulse to turn around and look behind him, trying to see what or who the smaller man was looking at. It might be a trick. Aya resumed glaring at him, hand itching to bat away the fingers touching his neck. But it was a thin line Yuushiís and his tempers walked, especially when dealing with each other. That action might be enough to prompt the blond into a physical response, which would lead to even more unwanted attention. "Donít make me repeat it, Honjyou."

Before the blond could reply, there was an angry snarl coming from behind the bar. "Are you guys going to order or what?" Startled, Yuushi relaxed his grip, which Aya promptly took advantage of. The blond turned in time to catch sight of the swordsman vanishing into the crowd, graceful body tight with anger. Sighing, he turned to order another beer. What the hell had he been thinking? Heíd just pissed off a man whose help he was most likely going to need. As soon as the bartender set down the pint, the blond picked it up and started to drink. He had just taken a big gulp when someone knocked into his back, making him spill the drink all over his face and chest. "Sonovabitch!"

He turned in time to catch a lanky man with dark blond hair smile at him bemusedly and apologize. "Sorry, itís a bit crowded in here." The manís tone didnít exactly sound very repentant. Not wanting to start a fight and get kicked out of the club, Yuushi cursed some more under his breath as he threw down some yen and stormed off to the bathroom to try and repair his appearance.

*******

Yohji strolled around the club, keeping an eye out for Miho Kisaragi. Apparently the woman often showed up at the club, even if her boyfriend wasnít present. How was he supposed to turn the infamous Kudoh charm on her if she wasnít there? In between searching the place for sight of his target he was keeping an eye out for Aya. It wasnít so much as to check up on the man and make sure he was all right; Aya would kill him if the redhead thought that for one moment. It was just nice to look at the man and all the attention he drew and know that he was the one going home with the swordsman at the end of the night. Well, home to. The assassins had driven to the club separately, although Yohji had parked his car near his boyfriendís Porche, all the way on top of the parking garage and as far away from the elevator as possible. Both men had a thing for their vehicles, and would be very upset if something happened to them.

Still no luck an hour or so later, the blond headed for one of the side bars. About to walk up to the counter and order a drink, Yohji stopped at the sight before him. Some blond man had Ayaís hand in his grip and was leaning rather close to the redhead. His kitten looked decidedly angry, and that was the only thing that prevented the playboy from rushing over and decking the stranger. For some reason Aya was reigning in his temper and not killing the man, there must be an important reason why. Still, Yohji almost lost it when the blond started toying with the choker he had bought his boyfriend. Violet eyes glared ferociously at the presumptuous man, then searched the crowd. Lighting on Kudoh, those eyes willed him to stay put, and the crimson head shook back and forth ever so slightly. The swordsman was telling him to not interrupt. So Yohji just stood there, inwardly fuming. It wasnít much longer when the redhead took the opportunity presented to him and escaped the strange blondís grasp.

Yohji stood there for a moment, making sure his lover made good his escape. When he noticed that the asshole stayed at the bar and ordered a drink, he hadnít been able to resist exacting a little revenge. As soon as the man started to drink from his full glass of beer, the lanky man jerked forward, bumping into the stranger. He didnít quite make his voice sound contrite enough, and there was a smile hovering around his lip. Golden eyes glared at him before their owner stomped away, most likely to try and dry himself off. Feeling a bit better, Yohji ordered a drink and resumed his search.

Oddly enough it was when he was once more on the lookout for Aya that he found the woman. The smaller man was of all things engaged in a game of pool with a couple of Yakuza thugs. Yohji didnít know what startled him the most, that the man was kicking their asses or how easily he got along with them. The criminals found his aloof air amusing for some reason, especially one in particular. Wondering if he was going to have to rescue the redhead at some point tonight after all, Yohji noted the brown haired woman with red highlights pouting in the corner. Several more Yakuza were stationed near her, and it was clear they were frightening everyone away. Detouring to one of the bars to order a couple of drinks, he walked back to the pool tables, right past the bodyguards.

"You look like you could use this. Iím Yuji Konomi, who are you besides gorgeous and bored?" Contact tinted blue eyes blinked up at him, and the woman smiled automatically. The bodyguards moved in protectively, but she waved them away. Her eyes trailed over the assassin in an appreciative manner.

"A bit forward, arenít you?" But the hand that fluffed her shoulder length hair belied the reproachful tone of voice.

"I find that it works for me more often than not, so why shouldnít I be?" Yohji treated the woman to a disarming smile as he posed seductively.

Glad to have her boredom relieved, the brunette debated offering the man a seat. He was a stranger, but she was so bored sheíd put up with anything that proved entertaining. "Iím Miho Kisaragi." Lifting the shot and sniffing it, she asked what it was.

"Grand Marnier." The blond assassin quickly downed his drink, then regarded the targetís girlfriend coolly. "If you want I can leave, just thought it a shame someone as lovely as you had to sit all alone. I thought maybe you could use a little company."

Miho bit her lip, torn between sending the handsome blond away and enjoying his amusing attitude. "Iím hardly alone. Besides, Iím involved with someone."

"They donít count." A green eye winked at her as he nodded in the direction of the bodyguards. "And Iím seeing someone as well. Wanna compare notes?"

The woman motioned for Yohji to sit down next to her, feeling a bit relieved to hear that last bit. "Then what are you doing offering a strange woman a drink," she asked coyly.

"Itís a soft spot I have, rescuing damsels in distress. The lover understands, so I donít get into much trouble for it. Now if I did try something, trust me Iíd much rather deal with your friends over there. Iíd have a better chance of survival." The blond smiled as the woman laughed, glancing covertly over at his boyfriend. The man was amassing quite a pile of cash from his competitors, and didnít seem concerned that he was here sitting with a strange woman.

Running a hand through her hair again, Miho felt herself relax. This is what she needed, a fun night out. Whatever Yuzo had done that had him doubling the security around him and her had made the man withdrawn and stressed, and not very good company. In fact she hadnít seen him for several days, and had been informed it would be at least that many if not more before she saw him again. Part of the reason she had come to the club tonight was a faint hope of catching sight of Yuzo. No such luck. Miho loved him but the strained atmosphere was starting to get to her. This Konomi seemed good for some laughs, and as long as he wasnít lying about his girlfriend shouldnít be any trouble and a welcome distraction.

The rest of the night passed by quickly, with Yohji harmlessly flirting and making Kisaragi laugh again and again. It wasnít until he noticed Aya pocketing the money he had won that the blond realized the hour. It was almost closing time. The redhead waved goodbye to his fellow pool sharks, and it seemed as if he was promising to come back the next night. Yohji still couldnít believe that his lover had managed to hit it off with the mobsters as well as he had.

Offering Miho another devastating smile, the playboy informed her that he had to be getting home. The woman actually seemed sad. "I have an idea, I often have a bit of free time, and my lover isnít exactly a social person. Why do you think Iím in a club by myself tonight? Anyways, how does maybe getting together for dinner sound? No strings, just two people commiserating about the ones they love and having a good time in spite of them?"

The brunetteís face split into a big smile. "That sounds very nice. My boyfriend has been very busy with work lately, and I donít often find dinner dates willing to put up with my Ďfriendsí. If you really donít mind, and your girlfriend of course, I would love to have dinner."

"She wonít mind," Yohji said as he winked at the woman. He quickly scribbled down his cell phone number on a napkin and handed it to the woman with a bow. As Miho stammered out a goodbye, he winked once more and made his way to the door.

*******

Yuushi maintained his position by the exit, keeping an eye out for a bright splash of red. Sure enough Fujimiya walked past, pausing at the coat check to pick up his jacket. Already having retrieved his, the blond discretely followed the smaller man out of the club. He made sure to keep some distance between the assassin and him, hoping not to be noticed. Once Aya made it to the parking garage the blond cursed and hurried to catch up.

Running up the stairs, he stopped at every level to make sure the redhead hadnít gotten off out of the elevator. Figured that the man would park on the top floor. He burst out of the stairwell, slightly out of breath, to find the smaller man leaning against the hood of a white Porche. Purple eyes regarded him sardonically, and the man hníed when Yuushi stopped in front of him.

"Nice of you to wait for me. Can we finish the conversation from earlier, or are you going to disappear again?"

"Hn." Aya straightened up as the blond stood right in front of him. "Listen to me, Honjyou. Iíll make the target pay for Koge. My group was picked for this assignment, not yours, so just drop the matter." The pale man was sure to pitch his voice low, so it didnít carry more than a foot or two in the mostly abandoned garage. "There are things we can do that you canít. So Iíll say it once more, /go home/."

"No. He was my friend, the whole teamís friend. Iím involved whether you like it or not. You can either let me help or deal with me following you everywhere you go, a constant pain in your ass. You decide, /Aya/." The redhead shoved Yuushi away and made for his car door, only to be spun around and have his wrists once more gripped painfully hard. Controlling the impulse to lash out and hurt the man in return, Aya tried to calm himself. Knight wanted a fight too badly, he wasnít going to give it to the man. Heíd learned a bit of control since leaving Crashers. "Donít get in our way, Knight. Youíll regret it if you do."

Yuushi pressed the smaller man against the car, bending him backwards. "Read my lips, ĎIím not going anywhereí. You just canít walk away from me this time, Fujimiya, so get used to me being your constant shadow until this mission is over." He said this with his face mere centimeters from the pale manís, the space growing less with each word. Just as he was about to brush his lips against the redheadís, Aya kicked his leg out, catching Yuushi in his right knee. The assassin couldnít do much damage, not having the proper leverage, but it made the blond man back off and let go of his wrists. Golden eyes glowered in anger at him, but before either of them could escalate the situation Knight was grabbed from behind and spun around.

Yohji had come out of the elevator to find Aya bent over his car, the strange blond once again assaulting him. Not bothering to stop and think the playboy had charged at the embattled pair, mind intent on murder. He grabbed a broad shoulder with one hand and swung his other, catching the surprised man in the jaw. The golden-eyed stranger managed to deflect the knee aimed at his groin just in time, and landed a hit in the lanky manís stomach. Before Yuushi could get his guard up he had a shoulder ram into his middle and throw him backwards. Yuushi landed painfully on the cement floor, losing about half the skin on his left palm. Having had enough, he reached into a secret inside pocket of his coat and pulled out a switchblade, triggering it open. Getting up to face his enemy, the blond was surprised to see Aya subduing the man, pale hands holding a lanky arm at an improbable angle as its owner cursed up a storm.

Violet eyes practically glowed from the fury contained within as they regarded the man in the leather trenchcoat. "Put that thing away or Iíll kill you myself." Yuushi actually shivered at the malice laden in that statement. Heíd never thought that Ran would speak to him like that. Once he sheathed the blade and put it back in his jacket the redhead let go of the struggling man, careful to take a step away from him and inbetween the two blonds. "Behave, /both/ of you." Aya glared back and forth at the men, his attitude clearly suggesting it would be worth their lives if they didnít listen to him. "Youíre on the same side, after all."

Knight blinked as this comment sunk in. Shit. Why hadnít he assumed that Fujimiya would be at the club with his teammates? It was only the fact that he was acting against Kritikerís wishes that he didnít have the rest of Crashers at his back. The dirty blond haired man must have been the one who Ran had shook his head at while sitting at the bar. No wonder the man had bumped into him and just now tried to rip his heart out, if Yuushi had come across someone treating one of his friends the same way heíd have bashed their head in.

Ever since heíd spotted the redhead earlier it was as if his brain had shut down, and heíd been running on sheer stupidity. First repeatedly trying to pick a fight with Ran, then pulling a weapon on the smaller manís teammate. Why the hell was he acting like this? He held out a hand to the glowering man, trying to make amends. "Yuushi Honjyou."

The green-eyed man ignored him and focused on his friend instead. "What the fuck is going on, Aya? I donít care whose side this asshole is on, if I see him lay one more finger on you heís dead." Yohji took a step closer to the strange blond, intent on carrying out the threat, only to run into the swordsmanís outstretched hand.

"Kudoh." Aya glared back at his boyfriend, ready to strangle the possessive baka. "Any moment now someone might show up to get their car. I will not let them be treated to the sight of two bakas fighting, they will be sure to comment on it." He shifted his attention to Knight. "Go home. /Now/." About to argue, Yuushi thought better of the idea. There was an iciness to Ran that he had never witnessed before, a focused intensity that clearly said he was a problem that would be dealt with in the most expedient manner. Resolving to get some answers /tomorrow/, the golden-eyed man walked towards the elevator, exchanging an evil look with the other blond as he went past. He left the garage, mind busy analyzing the situation and trying to figure out just exactly why things had gotten so out of hand tonight.

Once his former teammate had entered the elevator, Aya dropped his arm. Yohji stepped forward, about to berate the younger man for interfering, when he caught a good view of the manís eyes. There was a flatness to them that let him know he was dealing with Abyssinian right now, not his lover. Any yelling he did was going to get him nowhere, and would only antagonize the man further. The pale man was evidently rather pissed about his actions as it was. So he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one, waiting for the smaller assassin to speak. There was only a centimeter or two left of the cigarette before Aya did so. "Iím leaving." With that the redhead turned around and stalked over to his car. Yohji did the same, rushing to his Seven. Things were bound to be very interesting when the two WeiŖ got home.

*******

Yohji entered the Koneko and flicked his cigarette butt into the sink. He had chain-smoked the whole entire way home, trying to puzzle out Ayaís odd reactions tonight. Why hadnít he tried to break Honjyouís arm for treating him like that? Any other person whoíd cornered him would have been missing a limb or two, but the stranger had gotten away with it not once but twice. Yohji assumed that the man must be from Crashers, but merely being a former teammate shouldnít protect the man. Hell, if Ken had pinned Aya against his car, the brunet would be sporting the bruises from that mistake for days. Taking the steps two at a time, the playboy quickly made his way to his bedroom. Where he was sure to find a very irate redhead. Aya had taken off from the garage like a bat out of hell, Yohji couldnít figure out how the smaller man managed to drive the way he did and not end up dead or with his license suspended.

Finding his door partially open, the blond cautiously stepped into his room. Aya was standing by the bed, dressed only in the velvet choker and a pair of navy blue pajama bottoms. Which technically belonged to Yohji, explaining why they were in the process of slipping off the smaller manís hips. Not expecting to find his boyfriend in this state of dishabille, the older man was momentarily stunned. That was all the opening Aya needed to make his move.

Yohji was shoved against the wall from the force of a compact swordsman slamming into him. Hands grabbed his hair, jerking his face down for a demanding mouth to take advantage of. It took him a moment to realize that Aya wasnít attacking him, but was kissing him with a passion. Once he figured that out he wrapped his arms around the smaller man, pulling him closer as his brain shut down. The redhead growled in response, abandoning his boyfriendís lips to trail his mouth down the manís neck. His hands were busy trying to strip off Yohjiís jacket and shirt, yanking on the linen material harshly enough to rip it slightly.

The older man let go of his kitten long enough to pull his shirt out of the tight leather pants that were becoming even tighter by the moment and shrug his upper body free of the garments. Once that was done he grabbed the smaller man by the hips and yanked him close, rubbing his erection against the manís pelvis. He felt Ayaís body start to respond as pale arms wound themselves around his shoulders, hands once more tightening in his hair and urging his head down towards an exposed neck. Yohji took advantage of the offering, mouth busy sucking on the smooth skin as his hips kept rocking against his loverís. The man wrapped his arms around a slender waist and lifted Aya ever so slightly as he pushed himself away from the wall and headed to the bed. Once there he fell forward, trapping the redhead underneath him.

Aya wriggled about, more in an effort to inflame his boyfriendís senses than to escape the man. It was Yohjiís turn to growl at the feel of the lithe body underneath him, and he bent his head down to kiss the man once more. There was a battle of tongues for a minute, and then the redhead submitted, letting his lover delve deep into his mouth as his hands trailed along the manís body to set about removing the blondís pants.

Letting out an explosive puff of air at the feel of his zipper being worked open and a cool hand sliding inside the leather pants, Yohji grabbed at the limb and brought it up to his mouth. Placing a kiss on the palm, he was about to rest the hand above the smaller manís head when he noticed the dark bruise circling the slim wrist. It was then that everything came rushing back to him, the stranger from the club and their fight in the garage. "Dammit Aya." The redhead had used one of the playboyís own tactics against him, circumventing an argument by turning anger into passion. He should have known something was up, his lover never initiated something this brazen unless he was very upset or trying to hide something. Usually it was both. That helped to cool his ardor quite a bit, but not totally kill it.

Violet eyes gazed up at him, desire quickly being replaced by a iciness that indicated Yohji was about to be shut out in a major way. Aya tried to push the blond off of him and get up, but found himself shoved back into the bed. Yohji had the weight and strength advantage over the man, not to mention better leverage. "Get off of me Kudoh."

"No. You went through some effort to have me here like this, so Iím not moving. What are you trying to avoid, Aya. Who is this Yuushi Honjyou, one of your Crashers buddies?"

The smaller man was well and truly glaring now. But part of his anger was directed at himself. He hadnít been exactly sure he could pull the situation off, making Yohji forget all about what had happened earlier, but had considered it worth a shot. He just wasnít in the mood to dig up his past tonight. Why couldnít the damn man just have refused the mission, or let himself be seduced? Any other time all the redhead had to do was breath and he was pounced on.

"Iím waiting." Yohji did not sound very happy. Aya quickly occupied his mind with what he would say and what heíd hold back, but the way those emerald eyes were regarding him gave him the feeling that his lover wanted the whole story. The man was too smart to be able to fool for long, especially when he was dead set on something. Just like now. But he knew that Yohji wouldnít like the truth, that he would make the matter out to be more than it really was. Another thing that the redhead had been hoping to avoid tonight was dealing with the older manís insecurity and jealousy when it came to him.

"Get off of me, and Iíll start explaining." He knew he could outrun the blond if he got out of reach. The situation could benefit from a strategic withdrawal.

"No."

Oh well, the redhead hadnít been sure that would work either. Eyes glittering with anger, the pale man commenced his story after a moment of exchanging glares. "Yuushi Honjyou is indeed with Crashers. Heís known as Knight, and was in the group when I was temporarily assigned to it. We didnít exactly get along back then, what you saw tonight was not that unusual for us. Especially since he insists on being involved with this mission, and I insist that he leaves the matter to WeiŖ."

That couldnít be everything, Aya would never voluntarily confess the whole matter to him, the truth had to be dragged out of the stubborn man in bits and pieces. Yohji knew this from bitter experience. The redhead did try to be a bit more open about his past to his lover, but still had a habit of withholding things he thought would upset the older man. This was clearly one of those times, or the kitten wouldnít have tried so hard to distract him. "Not good enough. You canít convince me that you remained in a team for any length of time with someone whoíd do" Yohji grasped the bruised wrist and shoved it in the smaller manís face "this to you. Whatís going on here, Aya?"

The other man closed his eyes and let his head rest back on the mattress. He detested having to explain things. "No, Yuushiís never done something like this before. Heís usually more restrained and polite. Itís probably just a mix of being ordered to back off and his anger at the way I left the group. It wasnít exactlyÖ amicable. I needed more money for my imouto, and a chance at Takatori. Crashers couldnít provide those things, even if it could I wouldnít have been able to get my revenge and stay in the group. So I left on my terms."

The blond could very well imagine what those had been. Aya had probably just packed up his bags one night and left without saying a word. Abandoning the people whoíd risked their lives to watch his back without a second thought on his part. Yohji had seen it happen after all, when the swordsman had tried to leave WeiŖ after Takatoriís death. That had probably been when he should have realized how much he loved the quiet man, instead of a couple weeks later during a mission. The anger and sense of betrayal that had filled him with the redheadís departure had surprised him.

Wracking his brains for anything that his lover had said about his time in Crashers, Yohji wasnít having much luck coming up with anything. Aya had told him next to nothing about the group, other than him being a temporary replacement and the team not being allowed to kill. About to give up on the matter, the blond felt his body grow stiff. There had been something that Aya had let slip once, about Schuldig threatening him if he let anyone get close to him. That an old teammate had tried, but failed. Heíd almost forgotten about that fact, it was from a period that he didnít like to think much about, considering what heíd done to his lover. Even if he really hadnít been responsible for it. Yuushi had to be that former teammate, the manís actions screamed jealousy once you thought about them. Yohji repeated this theory to the quiet man lying under him.

The smaller manís eyes drifted open, regarding the blond warily. That was all the conformation Yohji needed. "Thatís what you didnít want to mention." Why hadnít Aya wanted to talk about it so desperately? And why hadnít he tried to remove the manís head for hurting him. The playboyís mind leapt to a conclusion. "Do you love him?"

"/No/." Seeing the doubt shimmering in green eyes, the redhead elaborated. "I never knew he even wanted me until another teammate pointed it out." Pawn had asked him how long he was going to play hard to get, not even suspecting that his comrade had been clueless of the matter. "Heís just a friend. Someone who got on my nerves and yelled at me a lot, but never failed to be there for me when I needed him. I owe Yuushi for that. He has a right to be mad with me, and it has always been too easy for us to start fighting and forget about everything else. So I didnít push back for once. It would have attracted too much attention." And deep down he felt as if he deserved the anger and pain. It was easy to realize now how much he must have hurt his former teammates with his abrupt departure. But Aya had been too focused on his revenge and not letting anyone get close to him to care back then. The irony was heíd fled Crashers and ended up in WeiŖ, and eventually Yohjiís bed. If heíd been trying to avoid having people care about him heíd failed miserably. Still, it looked as if Yohji wasnít totally convinced. "I didnít want you to know because itís my mess. And because youíd think just what you are right now." The man still needed some reassurance. Suppressing a sigh, Aya set about to do that, as awful with words as he usually was. "Iíve never wanted Honjyou as a lover. Just you." He lifted his head to kiss the blond on the lips. Maybe actions would convince the stubborn fool. When he started to nibble on the manís lush mouth Yohji finally kissed back, with an intensity that eclipsed his earlier passion.

Aya let the older man ravish his mouth and neck, for once not caring about any marks or the noises the two men were making. If this was what his lover needed, so be it. He didnít stifle any of his moans or gasps that the hungry mouth and hands wrung from him, busy constantly repeating the blondís name. Each sound and shiver just seemed to fan Yohjiís desire, until the man was tearing off their pants in an effort to have as much skin in contact with skin as possible. Aya hesitantly rolled onto his stomach at the older manís urging when he pulled back to reach for the lube. And was promptly startled to not feel slick digits but a wet tongue probe at his opening, moist and warm and spearing inside of him. He moaned out Yohjiís name again and again, fighting to not bury his face in the sheets. A desperate mewl broke forth when the blond eventually shifted away, only to be choked back when the man started to push his hard shaft inside the redhead. It had been so long since heíd let Yohji take him this way, heíd almost forgotten how deep and hard the older man could thrust into him like this, the control his lover had. His hips were pulled up, and Aya was almost sobbing at the myriad sensations assaulting him, the mouth roaming over his neck and shoulders, the hand pumping his erection, the almost violent thrusts that seemed to reach deeper with each deliberate push. Kudoh broke off the kisses to hiss in the smaller manís ear that he was Yohjiís and Yohjiís alone, forever. All he could do was chant back yes as waves of pleasure overtook his senses, radiating out from deep inside him where the playboy was buried.

Aya came in a shuddering rush, body clenching tight around Yohjiís shaft, making the older man yell out his name. The thrusts became more desperate as the blond fought to hold back the inevitable just a little longer, but it was only a matter of moments before his body betrayed him and he collapsed on top of the slender form beneath him. The smaller man moaned at the heat flooding into him, but otherwise remained still, body spent. He tried to focus on the aftershocks of pleasure, on Yohji whispering on how much the blond loved him, but the position soon grew uncomfortable. Aya didnít want any bad memories tainting what had just happened, so he murmured Kudohís name as he tried to sit up.

Yohji immediately rolled off of the pale man and on to his side. Aya mirrored the motion, ending up facing his lover. Brushing back the redheadís sweaty bangs, Yohji leaned forward to kiss a damp nose before pulling the man close. "Ai shiteru," he repeated once more, smiling when his kitten snuggled close and breathed the words back against his throat. The blond enjoyed the cuddle for several minutes; until he felt the urge to sleep threaten to overtake him. There was still a matter to discuss, so he shifted back slightly and tugged on an eartail. That earned him a mumbled ĎKudohí and a glare, both ruined by a yawn. "Heís not going to go away, is he?"

"Knight? No, not with the death of a friend involved. Crashers will see this through to the end, if not Yuushi than one of the others. Soma will be made to pay for Moriyamaís death." Aya suppressed the urge to shiver as once again a hand toyed with the bell on his choker. This time the touch felt right.

"Hmm. Any of the others have a thing for you too?" That glare was more successful than the previous one, distressingly so. "Okay, dumb question, but had to check. Think we can convince the baka that Soma has fled the country and hand him a plane ticket?" The plan was met with a derisive snort. "Didnít think so. Oh well, Iím sure weíll come up with something. But that will have to wait til tomorrow." At the raised eyebrow that statement earned him Yohji leered at the pale man in his arms. "Iím thinking a change of sheets, a nice warm bubblebath, and a good nightís sleep will do wonders for our sense of invention. What do you think?" Aya just hníed and pulled his head down for a kiss. As the blond rolled onto his back, dragging the smaller man on top of him, he pulled back from the embrace long enough to comment that they didnít have to start on the suggestion right away.

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