Of Cups and Wands

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Chapter two

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Melancholy was heavy in the air, weighing the playboy down as if his limbs were covered in lead. He kept trying to stretch his arms out to grab ahold of his lover, but always failed. Aya stood before him, just out of reach. The man was so beautiful it hurt to look at him. Yohji tried to call out the smaller man’s name, to beg him not to leave, but something prevented his mouth from opening. There was nothing for him to do but stand there and watch the man he loved slowly turn around and walk away, towards some figure far off into the distance. All the blond could think of was not again, he was losing his heart yet another time and there wasn’t a single thing he could do to prevent it…

Filled with a feeling of sadness and loss, Yohji drifted awake to the sound of strings. He was lying on his back in bed, and Aya was laying beside him, his head resting on the blond’s chest. As the green eyes opened they found the redhead was reading a book. The pale man paused in what he was doing when he realized his lover was awake, and set the novel aside. Violet eyes stared back into green as Aya shifted about to face the older man. Yohji took the opportunity to tilt up the pale chin and kiss the man on the mouth. "Mmm, ohayoo kitten. What time is it?" His arms tightened around the slender figure, determined to reassure himself that Aya was here and not going anywhere.

"After eleven. I need to get out of bed soon and start on the orders." Aya rested his chin on the blond’s chest and quietly hn’ed as a gold hand combed through his hair. He’d been up for the past hour or so, just enjoying the peace and quiet. Yohji had been tired enough to not even stir when the redhead briefly left the bed to take his medicine and grab a book.

It came as a bit of a shock to the older man that his boyfriend had stayed in bed instead of getting up and leaving for work. It was very rare that Aya hung around until he woke up, and then it only happened on Sundays. "Why aren’t you down there already?" the blond asked, curious to know the reason.

"Hn." Aya just closed his eyes and let the playboy pull him closer. He never was very good at explaining his actions at times like these. Couldn’t the man just appreciate the gesture and be quiet? A tug on his bangs made his eyes fly open, the glare automatic. Yohji just looked back at him, obviously waiting for an answer. And the man called him tenacious. Unable to think of anything to say, the swordsman just repeated the grunt as he kissed the blond.

Yohji’s eyebrows went up at that gesture. It seemed his lover had wholly embraced the idea of using desire as a distraction from annoying questions. This had some very interesting implications, considering how easily the redhead was annoyed. Something for the blond to seriously take advantage of in the future. But for right now he was going to enjoy having a mostly amorous boyfriend in his arms, and worry about motives later. It was enough that Aya had stayed by his side this morning. "Ai shiteru," the blond murmured against the smaller man’s lips, pulling the man onto his chest as his hands roamed underneath the navy pants. Aya growled at the blond’s actions but didn’t move away, one hand busy twining honey colored strands around his fingers.

Starting to leave a trail of kisses down the blond’s throat and chest, Aya paused and glanced over at the door. Before Yohji could ask what had made the man stop there was a rapid series of bangs on the door. "Hey you two, get out of bed. There’s a bunch of guys downstairs about to start working, and they need all the flowers shifted to one cooler." Ken did not sound very happy, and had all but snarled out the words. Resisting the urge to do a little snarling of his own, the blond reluctantly let go of his lover. He was /definitely/ making those reservations today, the promise of that weekend getaway was the only thing that was going to keep him from killing the brunet.

Aya quickly got out of bed, images of the workers downstairs mangling the inventory filling his head. He pulled a pair of boxers and a high neck jersey out of his drawer, but couldn’t find any pants besides the ones he’d worn last night. In a bit of a hurry, the redhead grabbed a pair of his lover’s jeans and yanked them on. Yohji had to bite back a laugh at the sight of the smaller man walking out of the room, busy trying to pull the pants up as high as he could while not tripping on the excess material covering his feet. Not to mention the thought of how Aya was going to react when he caught a glimpse of his neck. The blond’s territorial nature had been in high gear last night, and the pale man’s skin was a living testimonial to that. He hoped his kitten had enough makeup left to cover the bruises before he went out tonight.

Yohji went about getting dressed in a bit more leisurely manner than his lover. Once he was clothed he walked over to his dresser, searching for a gumband to pull his hair back with. Aya had a habit of taking the things out of his hair and dropping them anywhere. It was during this hunt that the blond found a pile of ¥10,000 bills. Wow, who knew the swordsman would be that good at pool sharking? It seemed like every week he found out something new about his boyfriend, another hidden layer to the reserved man. It definitely was a bit of a change from Asuka, who’d been a very open, truthful person, and all the temporary relationships he’d had before and after her. Then he’d made no effort to find out anything other than how they were in bed from the people he’d dated. Yohji had an image of the two assassins old and grey, and Aya still managing to surprise him with some just revealed little detail.

Meandering down into the kitchen after making a phone call and a brief stop in the bathroom, Yohji took a minute to put a pot of water on the stove and brew a fresh batch of coffee. He toasted some waffles and enjoyed them with tons of syrup while waiting for the beverages to finish. Once they were done he headed for the flower shop, a mug of tea in one hand and coffee in the other.

Judging from the wary looks the electricians and movers were sending towards the storeroom, the blond deduced where the resident grouch was. He bravely ventured back there, noting how one of the men winced upon figuring out his destination. Someone must have rubbed Aya’s fur the wrong way /really/ bad to provoke that strong a reaction in such a short time. Maybe he should call out a bit of a warning; the redhead would be upset if he accidentally skewered his boyfriend. Hopefully. "It’s Yohji, don’t kill me if you want a cup of tea."

"Hn." Violet eyes glared at him through the opened glass door. Aya was busy trying to rearrange the crammed flowers in the cooler. Yohji waited until the man was finished before walking over to him, holding out a dark mug as a peace offering. "So what did the bakas do to earn the dreaded Fujimiya ire?"

"Hn." The redhead accepted the drink and the kiss that went with it, wiping a hand across his mouth and complaining. "Sticky. Just shoved the flowers in, crushing about a fourth of them." It never was a good thing to cut into profits in the presence of the miserly swordsman. "Here." Aya indicated that the older man was to pick up a bucket filled with various blossoms as the redhead grabbed another and left the room. One of these days Yohji was going to successfully explain the concept of the word ‘please’ to his boyfriend, but considering he’d been trying for over a year, it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

He walked back into the shop just in time to see the workers quickly move out of the smaller man’s way. It was a shame he’d missed that dressing down, it wasn’t often the blond wasn’t on the receiving end of one and could sit back and watch someone else be decimated by the pale assassin’s cold eyes and sharp tongue. Setting the bucket down next to Aya’s worktable, Yohji strolled over to where Ken was busy making a sign.

"It would be helpful if the customers were able to read the thing, Kenken. Why don’t you let me do that?" The blond was startled to have a pen and piece of cardboard practically flung at him. "What’s your problem?"

"Sorry, I tend to be a bit irritable when I don’t get much sleep. Had a couple of really inconsiderate neighbors last night." Ken glared at the playboy, brown eyes bloodshot. The older man had the decency to look a bit sheepish, but an air of smugness ruined his half hearted apology. The soccer player just shook his head. "I really don’t care if you’re sorry or not Kudoh. You want to make up for it, move into Aya’s room. I’m sick and tired of overhearing the two of you go at it all the time." It was frustrating as all hell, hearing two of his friends have sex, having his nose rubbed again and again in what he’d lost and was too afraid to try for once more.

"No way in hell. His room is too small for the both of us." Not to mention it was the room that caught the morning light, facing eastward as it did. That was the reason that had been the only spot available when the swordsman had joined the team. Not that Aya had minded the fact, being an early riser. "You want some sleep, /you/ move into his room." Besides, Yohji had the biggest room of them all, and wasn’t about to give it up without a prolonged and dirty battle.

Ken thought about that for about ten seconds. He could always hang up some blackout curtains. "Fine, I will."

Yohji grinned nervously. "Ah, I was kidding Hidaka."

"I’m not. I’ve already learned more than enough about your sex life than I ever wanted to. Not to mention I could use a night of uninterrupted sleep. If I have to move my room, so be it."

"It would just be easier if you got off your ass and made a move on Omi. I’m sure the chibi would be more than happy to share his room and anything else you wanted." The blond quickly held up his hands to fend off a furious athlete. "Fine, be stubborn. You want to change rooms with Aya, /you/ ask him."

"Fine, just watch me." Before Yohji could stop him, the athlete rushed over to where Aya was sitting. Sensibly, he waited until the pale man was finished with the flower arrangement he was working on before asking him the question. "Aya, I want to switch bedrooms with you. Is that okay?" Beside him Yohji was mumbling something about stupid jocks.

"No." The redhead didn’t even pause to look up from the new vase he’d just selected.

"Aw, come on Aya. You’re never in the room anyways, unless you’re changing your clothes. Why won’t you move?"

"No."

Ken started to get mad. The quiet man wasn’t even taking into consideration his request, just automatically shooting it down. Mindful of the electricians busy a dozen meters over, he leaned over the worktable. "Give me a good reason why not, besides ‘no’. I’ve had it with trying to sleep with my radio on, just so I don’t hear the two of you going at it all hours of the night. I’ve even moved my bed across the room. Doesn’t help me in the slightest bit. I still have to hear about how fucking gorgeous Yohji thinks you are and how much he loves you and would even love you all the more if you went down on him, which just causes him to shout his head off when you do. And how you just want the man to shut up and go slower or go faster or not do it like that." He ignored the violet and emerald eyes glaring at him, eager to vent out his frustrations over the matter. "You guys have pretty much been waking me up at least once a night for the past couple weeks, and if I got more than four hours of sleep last night it’s because of the bubble bath and the fact that you passed out after five am." Rant all finished, the brunet gazed expectantly at Aya.

"No. Get some earplugs." Ken growled in anger and stalked off towards the greenhouse, looking for a bag of soil to kick.

"You know, you could have handled that a little better. Would it have really hurt you to think about the matter for a day or two," Yohji asked as he lit a cigarette. His lover was already pissed off thanks to Hidaka and the electricians, might as well smoke.

The smaller man gazed menacingly at the cigarette. "Why?"

"Kenken does have a point. How’d you like it if he starts blasting his radio at all hours of the night?"

"He won’t." The icy tone of voice clearly expressed that Ken didn’t have that strong of a death wish.

"Still, you could have considered the idea. What’s so bad about moving your room? It’s just a big closet at this point anyways." The blond tried to keep his voice even. It hurt him that Aya was so damn adamant about not completely moving in with him. Letting the man have his private space was all fine and dandy at the beginning of this relationship, but things hadn’t progressed much past that. Even though he slept there every night, all he’d done was move a couple books, cds and a few clothes into the room.

Aya glanced over at his boyfriend, frowning at the hurt tone the man hadn’t entirely masked. Why did it matter where he kept his belongings? Wasn’t spending the night in Yohji’s bed the important thing? He didn’t want to move his stuff because he was happy with how he’d set up his room. Everything had its place. Why go through packing things up and moving them when all Ken needed was a pair of earplugs? And Yohji to try and be a little more quieter during sex. He swore sometimes that the man thought he was in a porn movie or something. "What do you suggest?"

Getting over his surprise that Aya was actually inquiring about his opinion, the playboy answered back. "Trade rooms with the boy. Move about half of your stuff into the new place, and everything else into mine. I can make some room for it by storing a few things there as well. Ken gets a good night of sleep and you don’t have to go running from the room every morning looking for something clean to wear. Or for a book you want or a cd to listen to."

"Hn." The pale man didn’t say anything else, just went back to arranging flowers. Feeling a bit upset with the man himself, Yohji flicked his cigarette away and started getting the flowers ready for delivery. Why the hell did the kitten have to be so damn stubborn?

*******

The last of the arrangements were finished and on their way. The old coolers had been removed, and the electricians gone for the evening. Aya was busy placing a call for the flowers he’d need for the next few days, judging by the pile of orders he had sitting in front of him. Yohji was idly pushing a broom to and fro, a weak attempt at cleaning the floor. Once the redhead got off the phone he gave up and leaned against the counter. "We all done now?

"Yes. The electricians will be back in the morning, Omi can let them in. Just need to be back down here by one for the delivery and to work on the new requests."

"Good, that means we get to sleep in again. Did Ken mention to you about him getting the call to report to work tonight, or is he still mad at you?"

"Hn. I heard." The brunet was still upset at him, and had curtly informed him that he was to start bartending at Sōdō that evening. Both of his teammates had been a bit distant to him this afternoon. Aya could understand why Hidaka wasn’t happy, but Yohji surprised him. Guess the man cared more about the topic of bedrooms than he had suspected. He didn’t like the feeling that was generated inside of him with the thought that somehow he was letting his lover down.

"Think he’ll sneak us any free drinks?"

Aya frowned at the blond as he walked around the counter and stood beside him. "Is liquor all you think about, Kudoh?"

"Not at all." Hooking his fingers in the smaller man’s jeans pockets, Yohji pulled him close. "Part of my day is also spent worrying about cigarettes, sleep and food, but the majority of it is spent figuring out ways of getting into your pants. Which technically are mine right now." Not that the playboy was objecting, the loose fit and low cut made it very easy to slide a hand down in them, cupping his lover’s backside.

"Nice to know I rank above those damn cigarettes of yours." Kissing the older man on his neck, Aya commented that Ken and Omi should be back soon. Yohji didn’t seem too concerned about that fact, concentrating more on seeing if he could get his other hand down the jeans. Wondering if it would be easier to go upstairs or back into the greenhouse, the pale man used his teeth to tug on his boyfriend’s earring. Before the question could be settled there was the door chimes sounding off and a cheerful ‘Tadaima!’ echoing throughout the shop. Omi’s timing was impeccable, as always. The chibi skidded to a halt in front of the two men, taking in where Yohji’s hands were and the scowl green eyes were directing his way.

What were the chances of Yohji having Aya to himself and not trying something with the man, the teenager thought. Only slightly less probable than the hormone driven man trying something any time else. No wonder the redhead was sleeping in more and more often. "Sorry." The older blond grumbled as Aya reached back to grab his forearms and pull his hands out of the pants. Once that was done the quiet man turned around to face Omi, wrapping the golden limbs about his chest. Trying to not feel jealous at the sight of the couple standing in front of him, the youth asked how their night had went.

"Made contact with Kisaragi, and hope to have some dinner plans with her soon. She comes off as a lady much put out by her boyfriend, and looking for a little harmless fun. Just count on Kudoh to the rescue. Oh, and we ran into an old ‘friend’ of Aya’s last night."

"Nani?" Omi glanced questioningly at the swordsman, who nodded his head.

"Knight. Don’t think he’ll back off, though I did warn him to." Aya ignored his possessive boyfriend, who was busy muttering that the man better if he didn’t want to see what his spinal cord looked like.

"So we’ll definitely have interference in that regards. Sugoi." The older men looked at the teenager in surprise. He usually wasn’t that sarcastic. Noting the gazes, Omi pushed his irritation aside. Ken better make a damn move soon, it was seriously affecting his temper. "Anything else besides that?"

"Yeah, did you know that the kitten could play a mean game of pool?" Blue eyes widened in shock as the aforementioned man growled. Yohji nuzzled a pale ear. "Just how much money did you win last night off of those yakuza, twenty thirty thousand yen?"

"…. Twenty eight thousand. Didn’t want to win too much my first night there."

"Ayan! You can shoot pool that well and you never told any of us? You’ve always turned Ken down the few times he tried to drag you out to play." Omi would never have suspected the redhead of that hidden talent. It just didn’t fit with his background.

"Hn." It wasn’t something that the reserved man liked to mention very much, his skill at certain sports. When it came to pool, card games and the like for some reason he just couldn’t lose. He didn’t like beating his friends all the time, so he didn’t play with them.

Yohji couldn’t help but grin at the pale man’s abbreviated reply. Omi actually counted on getting a straight answer from Aya? Silly chibi. "He’s just so talented. Why bother killing gangsters when you can steal all their ill-gotten money. Right love?"

"It’s not about the money. Hoping to learn one or two things from them."

"You think you might find a lead or something from these men?" Omi was suddenly intent on the redhead, a strange look on his face. The two older assassins frowned at the young blond, trying to figure out the abrupt change of attitude. Aya nodded his head, uncomfortable as he recalled how the genki boy had been treating him the past couple weeks. What had he done to be treated so suspiciously?

Feeling the tense body in his arms, Yohji tried to break the mood. "You should see it, kiddo. He’s got one of these guys completely wrapped around his finger already. Guy’s too busy drooling to care about all the money he’s handing over. Thought I told you last night not to break any hearts, kitten."

That did the trick, Aya growled his name out threateningly as he stepped away from the playboy, face set in a glare. Omi looked as if he was about to burst out laughing. Not able to resist, Yohji stretched out a hand to yank on a dangling eartail. Something about pulling the tiger’s tail. Which promptly led to another snarl as his hand was batted away, violet eyes regarding him furiously. "Kudoh."

Of course this was when Yuushi Honjyou decided to enter the shop.

*******

‘Kitten in the House’. Yuushi stood in front of the flower shop, trying to imagine a squad of assassins living inside. Maybe Bishop’s informant had come up with the wrong address. This was where Kritiker had hidden Weiß?

His leader hadn’t been very happy to have him show up back at the safehouse last night, looking for information. He needed to find out where Ran was living, and try to talk to the man outside of the mission. Maybe things would be a bit calmer then. Bishop had been shocked to find out that he had finally crossed the redhead’s path, and was wondering why their employers had engaged the swordsman’s team to deal with Soma. There were more experienced ones that could do the job. But after several early morning phone calls he’d been able to give Yuushi an address, and sent him on his way with the remark that nobody in Crashers wanted to see him until his ‘vacation’ was over. The blond man had gotten the hint and had packed a large duffel bag with all the things he’d felt he’d need. Readjusting the strap of said bag, he walked over to the door.

Noting the sign that said the shop would be closed for necessary repairs, but would still be able to accept delivery orders, Knight tried to open the door anyways. Since it wasn’t locked he decided to walk in. Once inside he was about to yell out a hello when he saw the three young men standing beside the register.

Ran was there, glaring daggers at the annoying blond from last night as he knocked the man’s hand away. There was another blond, this one dressed in of all things a high school uniform, just staring at the two older men. Three pairs of eyes suddenly turned in his direction, and the lanky blond launched himself at Yuushi. Only a hand flung out to grab his arm stopped Yohji from punching the intruder.

Jerked back by Aya’s grip, the playboy glared at his lover briefly before directing the look at Yuushi. Who was only too happy to return it, dropping his bag to the ground and assuming a more defensive stance. Attention taken with the angry assassin, it took the Crasher a minute to understand that the teenager was asking him a question.

"Yuushi Honjyou, I assume. How did you find us?"

"Nani?" Diverting has gaze to the young man, Honjyou nodded his head. "A friend told me where to find Fujimiya." Glancing over at the redhead, he tilted his head at the blue-eyed youth, a questioning look on his face.

"He’s Weiß. What the hell are you doing here?" Aya made sure to keep his hold on Yohji’s arm, not about to trust the man to keep his head.

"/He’s/ an assassin? Kritiker is sending out fourteen year olds to kill people?"

Omi’s eyes narrowed dangerously at the stranger. "I’m sixteen, thank you very much, and am Omi Tsukiyono. Seems to me your teammate Pawn isn’t that much older. Aya asked a very good question, what are you doing here?"

Trying to gather his scattered wits, Knight looked back and forth between his former teammate and the teenager. "I want to talk to Ran alone."

"No way in hell, prick." Yohji stalked over to the other blond, dragging Aya along with him. "Not after last night. Let me spell this out real slow for you, since you don’t seem to have too much going on for you up there." He motioned to the man’s head as Aya kept hissing at him to behave. "Leave. Now. Don’t come back. Don’t interfere. Go away. Or else. Got it?"

"I’m not leaving. Now let me talk to Ran, we need to work a few things out." Yuushi leaned forward, his face inches away from the tall assassin’s.

"Go to hell," was the snarled response, as the green-eyed man shoved his boyfriend behind him, ignoring the man’s angry hiss at the treatment. The two blond men glowered at each other, deadlocked as the door chimed once more. Ken walked into the tense atmosphere, voice choking off on a hello as he noticed the stranger confronting Yohji. Taking advantage of the man’s distraction, the former detective punched the other blond, only to be immediately hauled back by Aya. Omi leapt in to try and separate the embattled men, catching Yuushi’s return punch in his chest.

Ken joined the melee once he saw the youth go down, gasping for breath. He landed a blow to the strange blond’s jaw before being shoved away by Omi. Blue eyes warned him to back off, staring at him for a moment before turning to the wincing agent busy rubbing his face. "That’s /enough/. The next person to try anything will deal with me, understood?" Yuushi was a bit taken back to see the three older man regard the small teenager cautiously. Those sapphire orbs locked on to him, and he felt himself suddenly become apprehensive. "I will ask one more time, why are you here? And no, you can’t speak to Aya privately, why should we let you after what just happened?"

"I didn’t throw the first punch." That didn’t seem to be getting him anywhere. "I came here to talk to… Aya about the case. I’m not backing off of this one. Crashers wants to make sure that Soma pays for ordering Moriyama’s and the other agents’ deaths. We sorta got off on the wrong foot last night, I wanted to apologize and make sure he knew that I’d be working this mission whether he liked it or not." Gold eyes sought out the pale man, who just stared back at him. For some reason the lanky blond, Kudoh, possessively stepped in front of the redhead, blocking him from Yuushi’s view. A white hand shoved the man partially to the side, letting Aya once again see his former teammate, but still remaining behind his friend.

Rubbing his temples, Omi looked back and forth between the couple and the strange agent. Aya noted the glance and gazed evenly at the youth. Omi motioned a finger up in the air, and received a slight nod in response. "Well, I think we should move this conversation upstairs. Ken, why don’t you show Honjyou-san to the kitchen." The brunet gave the young archer a look that clearly doubted his sanity, but did as he was told. Yuushi followed the sullen athlete, looking back at the three other assassins. Lighting a cigarette, Yohji waited for the resident tactician to get to the point. "Aya, can we trust this guy?"

"Yes." Yohji snorted, earning him an elbow in the ribs. Aya continued on. "He won’t betray us, but he won’t go away, either. That’s why they picked him." He echoed the chibi’s actions from earlier, rubbing his forehead in response to the headache forming. Both of the blonds noted the action, causing Yohji to frown furiously and Omi to sigh at the new complication.

They needed Aya on this mission, and couldn’t afford to lose him because of the migraines. Time to resolve the matter as peacefully as possible. "Great. Do you mind if I handle this?" Crimson hair flew as the quiet man shook his head. "Alright then, ‘once more into the breach’. Yotan, please try and control your temper this time. He may be an unwelcome guest, but I won’t have you just punching another agent like that." Omi started up the steps, but the older men remained behind.

Running a hand through his hair, Yohji blew out a puff of smoke. "Guess you weren’t kidding about the not going away part. Why does the prick have to be so damn persistent?"

"Hn." Aya smoothed a stray honey colored lock that was sticking up. "It’s for a friend. Now come on, and remember to behave." He tugged his reluctant boyfriend up the stairs by the hand, only letting go when they reached the top. But still stayed close, just in case.

*******

Yuushi sat in one of the chairs at the kitchen table. Ken and Omi had seated themselves as well, leaving one chair empty. Golden eyes regarded the empty spot curiously, wondering who was going to sit there. Entering the room, Yohji noticed the glance and leaned against the counter, pulling Aya close to him. It was about time that Honjyou learned that the redhead was taken. The playboy knew it wasn’t just the death of a friend that had the man coming back so tenaciously. He wrapped his arms around his lover, slouching down a little so he could rest his chin on the smaller man’s shoulder. Aya permitted the embrace either from a desire not to fight in public or maybe for once deciding to humor his boyfriend, Yohji didn’t exactly care. All that mattered was the look of surprise and dawning jealously on the Crasher’s face. The redhead reached up to grab his smoking cigarette and tossed it in the sink, then just rested his weight against the lean frame holding him tight.

Knight couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Ran was letting Kudoh hold him, not even blinking an eye at the man’s actions. Neither, for the most part, were the two other members of Weiß. The brunet was rolling his eyes a bit, and the blond frowning at the older men, but they were in no way surprised by the fact that the lanky blond had his arms wrapped around another man. Stomach filled with a sinking feeling, Yuushi looked back at his former teammate. Violet eyes gazed at him levelly, clearing waiting for him to start speaking. And a pair of green eyes regarded him in a challenging manner as one of Kudoh’s hands made its way under the redhead’s shirt, exposing a pale, toned abdomen as it toyed with a silver navel ring. Aya rested a hand on the older man’s arm, a hint to stop teasing, but otherwise did nothing to remove the blond’s limb.

They had to be lovers. There was no other explanation, even though Yuushi wracked his brain trying to find one. Ran had never been one for letting others in his personal space, let alone physically touch him. And here Kudoh was practically fondling the man. And Ran /let/ him. The green eyes took on a mocking glow as they stared into golden orbs, waiting for the realization to sink in. Staring now at the lanky man, Yuushi felt a rush of anger as the other blond smiled at him while he nuzzled the swordsman’s ear. Settling his other arm around Fujimiya’s shoulders, he pulled at the jersey’s high neck until several hickeys were exposed. Every one of his actions screamed familiarity and possessiveness of the redhead. All Ran did was hn’ed.

For two years Yuushi had dreamed of making the redhead his lover. Of getting through that defensive shield of aloofness and claiming the man’s passionate nature for himself. Even after the man had left Crashers there had been some small seed of hope that maybe their paths would cross again, and Yuushi would have the opportunity to admit his feelings. That time had finally come, and here he sat watching as some stranger held the man he’d wanted for so long in his arms. Kudoh had been the one to break through to Fujimiya. Yuushi wished him dead for that fact.

"Uhm, so what is it you hope to accomplish, Honjyou-san?" Omi asked, cutting through the tension in the room. Yohji’s possessive little display wasn’t helping matters, but he understood the reason for it as he observed the Kritiker agent staring at the couple. Just what the situation needed, a jealous rogue operative on the loose. "Crashers is prohibited from killing, and Soma can’t be turned over to the authorities. Weiß is to handle this assignment in such a way as to discourage anyone else of getting an idea of attacking the organization. Your hands are tied in a manner that ours aren’t." The youth was envious of the stranger. Here he was, someone who was able to fight back against evil in such a way that didn’t stain his soul with blood. And he was risking it for revenge, and possibly for someone he could never have.

"I can help you with this mission. I might not have as much /practice/ in killing people like you do," Ken glared at the strange man for this statement, "but I know all about dismantling criminal organizations. You need to do more than just take out Soma, that won’t scare off the true diehards. To truly make a point you have to destroy everything the man has worked so hard for."

"Salt the earth." Everyone turned to look at the redhead. Aya just stood there, exchanging a glance with Yuushi.

"Nani? What was that again, Aya?" Omi inquired.

"He said salt the earth," Yuushi interrupted before the swordsman could repeat the phrase. "Like the Romans used to do with their enemies. Destroy the land so no one could raise an army against them once more. The conquered were too busy starving and trying to rebuild to ever be a threat again. What do you think Crashers specializes in? We take out the bad guys from the ground up."

"So why do we need you? We have a former Crasher right here." Yohji tightened his arms around his lover as he glared at Knight. Ken nodded his head in agreement.

"Fujimiya was only with us for a few months. I’ve been with the group for years. Know a lot of tricks he never had the time to learn. You willing to turn away that experience just because you don’t play well with others?"

Yohji looked as if he was going to say something when a pale hand tightened on his arm. He closed his mouth and chose to continue glaring at the other blond. Omi glanced over at Aya once more, shrugging his shoulders as he tilted his head at Knight. The redhead internally debated the matter. Yuushi was very good at his job, and would be helpful on this mission. As long as the man understood that he was going to have to take orders from Bombay and him. He nodded slightly at the youth.

Blue eyes gazed intently into gold. "You have a point. If we are to accept your help, you have to understand that you will be answering to Aya and I. When we tell you to back off, you better do so without any hesitation. You are still Crashers, and breaking the rules of your group will result in your expulsion. Which will reflect badly on Weiß for letting that happen. I won’t allow this team’s reputation to suffer for your actions. Do you understand?"

Who would have thought that such a cheerful seeming teenager could unnerve him with a look? But Knight did indeed understand the thinly veiled threat. He would act in the same way if someone endangered his teammates. "Yes, completely. So what am I to do?" He’d won the first battle; Weiß wasn’t going to shut him out anymore.

"Right now we are still trying to ascertain Soma’s whereabouts. You can assist in that, and with observing the man’s business. We will almost assuredly have to take both the man and his organization down at the same time. And as soon as possible. Will you be able to handle the situation?"

"Yes.

Satisfied, the archer nodded his head. Ken shot the youth a look that said he would like to argue over the matter, but would do so in private. Yohji didn’t appear very happy with the arrangement either, but knew he was outvoted by Abyssinian and Bombay. So he pushed off from the counter, loosening his hold on Aya as he did so. The redhead stepped away, but upon catching sight of the older man’s face followed him out of the room. Ken got up to leave as well, so the two blonds were the only ones in the kitchen. Omi cleared his throat to regain Yuushi’s attention, which was focused on the departing couple.

The youth waited until his teammates were out of earshot. "There seems to be a bit of a problem between you and Yohji. If it in anyway interferes with this mission, or Yohji’s and Aya’s private life, I will not tolerate your presence here. You can still walk away from this assignment, and it would be in you best interest to do so if you can not handle yourself properly while in this situation. Moriyama will be avenged, Weiß will see to that." Omi regarded the man solemnly, judging the impact of his words. He could count on Aya to take care of Yohji, the redhead would not put up with anything from his boyfriend that endangered a mission or was of an excessively possessive manner. So it fell to him to convince Honjyou to leave the two men alone. Which considering his snooping into Crashers’ files last night and what he had learned from Aya’s files two weeks ago, was not going to be an easy job.

Yuushi flushed a bit at being taken down by a teenaged boy. "I won’t let my personal feelings interfere with this mission anymore. I know you guys must be bending the rules a lot to let me help out, but Crashers needs to be reassured that our friend’s death is not ignored. That’s my main priority." Somehow he would deal with the fact that Ran was involved with another person. There was nothing he could do to remedy that situation if Weiß kicked him out.

Sapphire blue eyes blinked as their owner considered that statement and the man who’d said it. Taking in the duffel bag at the operative’s feet, Omi inquired as to where the man was staying. He couldn’t be remaining with his team, not if he was ‘on vacation’ and hoping to distance Crashers from his actions and the possible repercussions when Kritiker found out what he was doing.

"I was planning on looking for a room in the area. Any suggestions?"

Briefly debating the offer, Omi decided to extend it. The benefits would outweigh the bad, if the agent remembered his manners. "We have a big couch in the den. It’s not much, but it would be better if you stayed here in case Weiß has to act fast." He refused to smile at the startled expression on the older man’s face from the offer. "As long as there isn’t going to be any more incidents like earlier."

"No." The golden-eyed man was going to control his temper if it killed him. There was no way he was going to let Crashers and Koge down. That was the most important thing. "Don’t the others get any say in the matter?" It would be real interesting to watch Kudoh’s reaction to the news that a rival would be living with him and Ran for a week or two.

Omi shook his head as he stood up. "Aya’s left the decision to me, and Ken and Yohji will go along with it." A bit of a lie, since Yohji was going to be furious and Ken upset as well, but Aya and him would take care of them. No one wanted to show a divided team to a stranger. "Let me give you a guided tour."

As the chibi led Knight throughout the building, he paid careful attention to the man. This Honjyou didn’t quite live up to his file, what with the fight with Yohji, but Omi suspected that there was a bit of a back story that he would have to have the playboy fill him in on. The report had mentioned his frequent disputes with Aya though. In the redhead’s file there had been a disconcerting section dedicated to those fights. Someone had hoped that due to the show of emotion Knight had managed to provoke from the withdrawn swordsman that there would be some sort of emotional attachment to develop, either along the lines of the surrogate father figure that Shion had been for Aya or a more romantic leaning. One of the private psychiatric evaluations had highlighted the redhead’s ambiguous sexual preferences. Kritiker had hoped for a bond to develop that they could use to manipulate Fujimiya, and had been very frustrated when the agent had left the team.

Pointing out the linen closet, Omi wondered what his employers would do when they found out about Yohji’s and Aya’s relationship. So far the matter was known only to the team, Manx and Birman, but the secret was now in jeopardy due to Knight’s presence. Hopefully Aya could prevail on his former teammate to keep the fact of the relationship to himself. The youth knew that Schuldig’s warnings about not mentioning anything related to Abyssinian in the reports to his supervisors had not been hot air. Kritiker would manipulate the feelings the two men had for each other without a second’s hesitation if they thought it would gain them some control over the swordsman.

Which led to a whole other dilemma. Mastermind. The archer knew it was only a matter of time before the psychotic telepath found out about Knight and the emotions he harbored for his former teammate, if he hadn’t already. And the man was much more possessive than Yohji. Omi couldn’t hope to keep the situation a secret from the Schwarz assassin; the bastard seemed to know everything that was related to his obsession. Mastermind had woken him up one morning about a week ago to inform him of Aya skipping his nightly dose of medication and had blasted into the teen. As if Omi had anyway of making sure the pale man took his pills after he disappeared into Yohji’s room. The German had snidely commented that he had taken steps to ensure the redhead never forgot to take the medicine again, but informed Bombay that he would need to reinforce the lesson as well. For the man’s and Weiß’ protection. Omi had felt so bad when later in the day he had berated the suffering man for falling asleep without taking the drugs, endangering his health and depriving the team of their field leader for a day or two. Yohji had stood beside him during the whole speech, busy glaring at both him for yelling at his lover and at Aya for making him sick with worry. The quiet man hadn‘t been able to get out of bed all day due to the psychically induced headache. Fortunately he had recovered by the next morning.

Once again back in the den, Omi left Honjyou to settle in while he went upstairs to inform his teammates that they had a guest. It was not a conversation he was looking forward to.

*******

Following his boyfriend into their room, Aya closed the door and leaned against it. He did a mental countdown, waiting for Kudoh to explode. It happened right at ni, causing the man to blink. Yohji must be even angrier than he’d expected.

"What the hell are you and Omi thinking? Letting that asshole in on the mission. He won’t be anything other than a liability." The older man flopped down on his bed and glared up at his lover. Aya had told him that he didn’t have any feelings for the man, so what was he thinking to not kick Honjyou out of their lives for good when he had the chance?

"Knight will not be a liability, as long as the two of you can control your tempers. He’s very good at what he does. And he can be equally destructive to this mission if he isn’t carefully supervised. It will be much better for all involved if he’s on our side, under our supervision, instead of on the loose." That said, the redhead pushed away from the door and walked over to the window. Gazing out the glass, he wasn’t surprised when his lover got off the bed and walked over to stand behind him. Yohji must still be a bit upset though, he didn’t try to hug him. "Once this mission is over with, he’ll be out of our lives."

"I don’t know, he shouldn’t be in our lives at this point to begin with." Resisting the urge to drag the smaller man back onto the bed, Yohji stretched out his arms on either side of the redhead and grasped the window sill. He leaned forward, brushing against Aya. Who in return leaned back against him. Burying his face in the pale man’s hair, Yohji tried to reign in his possessive feelings. Doubting the kitten’s fidelity would only drive the man away from him, and Honjyou would be all too happy to take advantage of the rift. "Do you really think he’ll help us take Soma down?"

"Yes." Well, if the man said yes, he meant yes. About to pull away, the green-eyed man was startled when his lover turned around to face him. "Did you make those reservations yet?" Aya asked.

Yohji smiled disarmingly as he let his arms fall away from the sill and wrap around the slender man. "Hmm, you better believe it. Nice room, bit away from the rest, private bath and a big fluffy bed. Can’t ask for more than that, can we?" He waited to see where the younger man was going with his question, suddenly apprehensive when Aya nibbled on his lip and didn’t respond right away. Surely he wasn’t going to ask him to cancel the reservation, was he?

"Hn." The redhead looked as if he was going to say something when the two assassins heard Omi’s voice float down the hall, followed by Knight’s deeper tones. The chibi seemed to be talking about the spare towels.

"What the hell is going on now?" Yohji asked.

Aya sighed and leaned forward, resting his aching head on the blond’s shoulder. This should be enjoyable. "Most likely Omi offered to let Yuushi stay here during the mission."

"Nani?" the redhead winced at the loudness of that question and swiftly clamped a hand over the tall man’s mouth. "Quiet," he hissed at the playboy.

Emerald eyes drilled into him in anger. "Knight can’t stay with Crashers while he’s going against orders. And Omi would want him here where he can keep an eye on him and the man out of trouble." Obviously the logic of the situation didn’t appeal to the blond.

Feeling a tongue probe at his palm, the swordsman removed his hand and glared at Kudoh in return. "So not only do I have to work along side the man, now I have to live with him as well? Don’t you think that Omi and you are asking a lot of me? I’m warning you now, if he tries anything like last night, he’s dead."

Aya growled slightly at the statement. It made him very upset when the older man implied that he needed to be taken care of. "Worry about the mission, and not Honjyou. Or me." The two men continued to glare at each other for several minutes, neither willing to be the first to look away, until they overheard a raised voice next door. One guessed that Omi was informing Ken that Knight was here to stay for a while. Both men broke the deadlock to glance at the shared wall before turning to face each other again.

Yohji took the opportunity to brush back his lover’s bangs. Unless he wanted a nasty fight, he’d have to find a new topic real soon. Omi’s indignant response back to the soccer fanatic made it clear that no amount of disagreement was going to make the teen change his mind. Abyssinian’s and Bombay’s positions carried enough clout that Siberian and him had no chance of reversing this decision. So he went back to the question he’d been about to ask right before the distractions. "Why did you want to know about the reservations?" If it was to cancel the getaway, there would be a nasty fight regardless. The older man smugly noted that it was Aya’s turn to be startled now.

The redhead rested his hands on the playboy’s chest and locked his gaze on the man’s lips. "We need to let the others know then. So they can cover for us." Most likely there would be a fair bit of teasing comments involved at the news. Aya hated having his private life exposed to others, even if it was Hidaka and Tsukiyono. If there had been a way to keep his relationship with Kudoh hidden, he would have pursued it. A gold hand gripped his chin and tilted his face up.

"They already know. Not the exact date yet, but I talked to them a few days ago when we were toying with idea again. It’s like I said, they look forward to us returning the favor one day. If they ever get their act together and jump each other’s bones."

"Hn." Even if the quiet man had wanted to say something, Yohji’s mouth descending on his prevented it. Moving his hands upward, he busied them with removing the elastic holding back the older man’s tresses. A slight shiver was the result of the honey colored strands brushing against his face. Dropping the gumband to the floor, Aya hooked his arms around the blond’s neck.

Relieved that the reserved man was still looking forward to going away with him, Yohji pulled his lover against him as his hands roamed under the man’s shirt. Maybe Honjyou’s presence wouldn’t be so bad after all. An extra person should help insure that the mission was finished in time for the getaway weekend. Lifting up the jersey, the blond snarled in frustration when he heard Omi knock on the door and loudly proclaim that he wanted to talk to the couple about something. Temper flaring once more, he stalked over to the door to try and get rid of the chibi. "I swear, they better get together soon, I /long/ for the day when I can return the favor to them." Aya just shook his head as he straightened out his clothes and sat down on the couch.

*******

"Pizza again? This isn’t Italy, you know."

"I’m sorry, Ken-kun. It just seemed to be the easiest thing to order in. Do you want me to make something different for you?"

The brunet quickly shook his head and muttered ‘no’, feeling like a heel for putting that worried frown on Omi’s face. Geez, the chibi had him completely wrapped around his finger, and they weren’t even dating. Or anything else. The teenager had even got him to accept the Crasher agent staying with them after arguing only for a few minutes. It hadn’t been so much Omi’s logic but the big blue eyes staring at him in disappointment that had made him cave in.

Yuushi gazed at the younger men, taking in the now groveling athlete and the slight smirk on the youth’s face. His eyes shifted to smoking man who just shook his head as he looked at his teammates. Seemed as if something was going on there as well. Maybe it had to do with the men working with flowers all day, leaving them in a romantic mood. He sat down at the chair Omi shoo’ed him to, and couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t anyplace for Ran. "Won’t Fujimiya be joining us?"

Ken and Yohji pretty much ignored the man and his question. Omi frowned at them as he answered their guest. "No, he’s upstairs exercising. Aya will have something to eat later."

"How come?" Was the man avoiding him already? The blond hadn’t seen the swordsman since he’d left the kitchen about an hour or so ago.

Since it wasn’t a secret they kept from Kritiker, Omi decided to fill the puzzled man in. "Aya’s been suffering from pretty bad headaches lately. He’s on medication, and it’s helped out with the matter a lot. But the pills make him sick to his stomach when he first takes them, so he can’t eat right away."

"He only has the headaches anymore when he forgets to take the pills, or when /something/ upsets him a lot." The green eyes drilling into the stranger made it clear what Yohji thought that something might be. Knight just frowned back at the man as he reached for some pizza.

Omi tried to break up the tension between the two blond men. "So, what time do you have to be work, Ken?"

"I’ll have to leave right after supper. Need some time to get familiar with the bar set-up before the place gets crowded." Ken refrained from pointing out that he had mentioned this already to the teenager, he was quicker on the up-take than people generally gave him credit for. "And before you even think to ask, Kudoh, I will /not/ be slipping you free drinks all night long."

"You’re no fun, Kenken," the playboy pouted around a slice of pizza, deciding that dinner was more interesting than glaring at Honjyou all night. "You telling me that you’re going to make fearless leader pay for his drinks as well?"

"Fearless leader isn’t banned from Alcoholics Anonymous for corrupting its members."

"You’re just jealous. I’m so~o much better looking and smarter than you. Not to mention I’ll have everybody buying me free drinks all night as it is." The playboy’s smoldering look might have been more effective if there hadn’t been a string of cheese dangling from his lips.

"Lech."

"Dumb jock."

Once more Omi tried to play the peacemaker. "Anybody want the last piece of pepperoni?"

"Give it to me, Kudoh’ll be eating the mushroom slices anyways. Oh wait, that’s right, he hasn’t done anything to piss Aya off lately," the soccer fanatic added snidely.

"Very funny, Hidaka. This from a man who hasn’t been in a relationship for so long he’s starting to find a bunch of six year olds appealing."

"Hentai bastard!"

"Look who’s talking. Pedophilia is illegal, you know."

Sweat-dropping, Omi turned to their houseguest. "Uhm, they usually aren’t this bad, honest." Pepperoni and mushroom slices started to sail across the kitchen table, causing the youth to twitch. He tried to ignore them, and the insults being tossed about as well, as he smiled an almost reassuring smile at the aghast blond. They’d never think to do anything like this if Aya was here. About to add something else, the archer felt a piece of meat hit him on the face. "Okay, that’s /it/. Didn’t anyone ever teach you two animals any table manners?" Watching as the teenager put his special targeting skills to use, flinging cheese at his two roommates, Yuushi weakly started to chuckle. Who would ever imagine a bunch of assassins having a food fight? Eying the knives littering the table, the blond started to edge away ever so slightly before the fight escalated. No wonder Ran had all those headaches.

*******

Yohji entered the kitchen, fresh from a run to the store for some cigarettes and other addictions, and found his lover busy drying the dishes he’d used for dinner. "Heya kitten." The violet-eyed man turned to look at him after he put the last plate away, stern face relaxing slightly in the blond’s presence as usual when they were alone. "Hope you saved a little room for dessert." The playboy dropped his bag on the counter next to the quiet man and leaned in close, his arms on either side of his boyfriend. Aya frowned at his actions and hopped up on the counter as a way of putting some space between the two men. Undaunted, Yohji reached into his bag and pulled out a pint of ice-cream with one hand as the other opened a drawer and searched for a spoon.

"Here, you gotta give this a try." Prying open the pint, he scooped out a generous serving and waved it in front of the redhead’s mouth. "It’s delicious, I promise you." Aya treated the man to a ‘hn’ and a reserved look, but parted his lips. Yohji immediately pushed the spoon in, ignoring the glare that action garnered him. Closing his lips around the utensil, the pale man considered the freezing goo melting on his tongue. It was surprisingly good, a creamy flavor laced with coffee and chocolate. Spying the blond’s knowing smirk and the waiting spoon, full once more, Aya opened his mouth for another taste. "Told you it was good. The flavor is tiramisu." Yohji retrieved the spoon and helped himself to a serving as he settled between the redhead’s legs. The next couple of minutes passed in silence as the two men made their way through the pint. When it was about two-thirds gone, Aya shook his head and declined any more. The blond quickly polished off the last bit.

Tossing the utensil into the sink and setting the empty container down, Yohji wrapped his arms around the seated man’s waist. Aya had taken a shower after his workout, and his damp hair still carried the cherry scent from his shampoo. He shifted forward to claim the smaller man’s mouth, tongue licking a bit of chocolate at the corner before entering. Mmm, his lover tasted so sweet from the treat, with the espresso flavor and a hint of spice a delicious counterpart. Pale hands removed the sunglasses pushed up on his head as long legs circled his waist. They didn’t have much time before they would have to get ready for work, so the two men were determined to enjoy themselves for a few minutes.

Fingers busy tracing patterns along the smaller man’s spine and tongue delving deep into Aya’s mouth, Yohji was understandable upset at the hands clenching in his hair and jerking his head back. About to complain over the rough treatment, the blond noticed where his boyfriend was looking. Shifting over to the man’s side, he found Honjyou leaning in the kitchen’s doorway, staring at them. "Can we help you with something?" Yohji asked, his tone sarcastic.

"Just getting a drink of water." Yuushi walked over to the sink, his fists still clenched from the sight that had greeted his entrance in the room a minute ago. Of Ran with his limbs wrapped tight around another man, being kissed breathless. An enjoyable fantasy, if it had been him instead of Kudoh who’d been doing the kissing. The redhead quietly handed him a glass from a cupboard behind him before jumping off of the counter. He treated both blonds with a frowning look before leaving the room, supposedly to get ready. The man had never been much of a talker before, but Yuushi was amazed at how quiet he’d gotten since joining Weiß. None of the others acted surprised at his silent nature, so he assumed they were used to it. After pouring some water from a bottle out of the fridge, Knight sat down at the kitchen table and regarded his rival with an assessing glance.

Yohji just rested with his elbows on the counter as he lit and smoked a cigarette. He was determined to wait out the other blond, even if it made him late getting ready. Finishing off the smoke and debating having another one, he suppressed a slight start at the sound of a voice. "So how long have you been seeing each other?"

"You mean the kitten and I?" Yohji just loved seeing people’s reactions to his nickname for his lover. "We’ve been together about four months now." That had to gall the man, knowing he’d just missed out on Aya. "Aya and I’ve been through a lot during that period, nothing’s managed to break us up yet." His tone clearly suggested that nothing would either.

Mind working on those facts, Yuushi was indeed cursing fate’s timing. Less than half a year. But maybe that would work in his favor, the couple hadn’t been together for very long. They couldn’t have that firm of a relationship, no matter what Kudoh said. Besides, judging from last night and earlier today, the man had a knack of making his boyfriend upset. "How long have you known, uh Aya?"

"Over a year." Yohji blew smoke rings at the man, enjoying the way his nose crinkled but still the golden-eyed man wouldn’t wave the smoke away. Looked as if someone was trying very hard not to start a fight. Tough luck that he didn’t play by the same set of rules; Ken could care less, the chibi would calm down eventually, and Aya would forgive in a few days. The man always forgave him. Sometimes he’d exact a little revenge first, but the playboy could put up with it; as soon as the payback was over with he had his lover back. Beating Honjyou to a pulp would well be worth a day or two of silent treatment and a nasty work detail. But it would be best if he could make Honjyou take a swing at him first. "Aya’s been with Weiß a lot longer than Crashers. He’s found a home here."

"Among a bunch of murderers. If only you knew him when he was Ran. Being around you has changed him, made him colder, quieter."

Now that stung. "He already had blood on his hands when he joined the group. And if you think he’s cold now, you should have seen him then. Aya’s opened up some the past few months. Not to mention that Weiß has given him the things he’s always wanted, something that Crashers never could. Why do you think he left? We’ve been trying to put him back together, you guys helped break him apart." Yohji was openly glaring at the other man now, his hands gripping the counter in an attempt to keep him from punching the bastard.

Yuushi was finding it hard to control his temper as well. The nerve of Kudoh, to insinuate that Crashers had failed Ran. They’d done everything they could to save the fiery young redhead. /He’d/ done everything. Only to have the man leave none-the-less, and end up with a bunch of killers and a piece of trash like Kudoh. "You appear more concerned about getting what you want, judging from what I walked in on."

"Oh, my kitten wasn’t complaining. That’s what’s got you so upset, isn’t it?" The lanky blond’s voice was quite smug. He delighted in seeing the other man’s eyes narrow in anger.

"Your kitten, huh? Interesting nickname for Fujimiya."

"It suits him." The former detective wondered where the man was going with this. He’d used the name mainly to irritate the seated agent.

"You know, I never took Ran for the type who liked being treated as a possession. Wonder how he’d react to hearing that ‘my’ in front of the name. You so unsure of how much he cares for you that you have to keep repeating to yourself that he’s yours?" Ah, that touched a nerve. Kudoh’s lush mouth tightened, and his body tensed up. "And ‘kitten’ is another telling sign. What’s the matter, it a little difficult sharing your bed with your leader? Do you have to keep mentally knocking the man down, belittling him in such a way that he doesn’t seem so in control, so daunting? Sounds like quite the inferiority complex you have there, Kudoh. I’ve known a hundred men like you. They have something that they know is so far out of their league it’s ridiculous, and they do whatever they can to hold in to it and justify their actions. No, it doesn’t take much to figure you out, what I can’t understand is why Ran cares for you. And I think you feel the same, or else you wouldn’t be so threatened by me being near ‘your kitten’."

He couldn’t kill the man in the house. Aya and Omi would have a fit, and Ken would bitch about the mess. Yohji tried to calm himself down as images of different ways he could dismember the other agent’s body flitted through his head. He’d always hated that psychobabble bullshit. Hearing practically the same statement twice within a couple months, that he wasn’t good enough for Aya, had him livid. The redhead didn’t think he was trash, an idiot yes, but not trash. That was all that mattered. The people throwing these comments at him were just jealous. "So how does it feel that someone so ‘inferior’ has what you want, hmm? Just imagine what Aya thinks of you, that I’m considered a better catch. You know in the past year or so the man barely said two words about you. And then it was only to mention a former teammate who had a crush on him but never had a chance in hell."

"He knew even back then?" Yuushi could just blink his eyes at the lanky man, stunned by this revelation. He’d never thought Fujimiya had guessed his feelings toward him; there had never been any indication of the sort from the redhead.

"Yep. Didn’t stop him from leaving at all, did it? Quite an impression you made on the man, to send him running away. Thank you very much for that, by the way. It’s not often a piece of shit like me gets a chance at someone like Aya," Yohji added snidely.

Gold eyes filled with hate glared at the other man. "You bastard. You don’t even love him at all, do you? He’s just another conquest, isn’t he?"

That was it, the playboy thought, he’d had enough. Shoving away from the counter, he stalked over to the other blond, who was busy standing up as well as he pushed the chair aside. Right before the two men could get their hands on each other a small form insinuated itself between them and hit them both in the chest. "That’s enough!" Omi glared back and forth at the older men, doing a very good impression of his teammate’s ‘shi-ne’ look.

"Yohji, weren’t you supposed to bring home some ice-cream?" he inquired, when his friend wouldn’t move. The longhaired man blanched and rushed to the counter, where his abandoned grocery bag still sat. Muttering under his breath, the former detective pulled out two leaking containers.

"Sorry, chibi, forgot all about them. Guess that means you’ll just have to eat them both now, neh?" Thankfully his cigarettes were still dry in their plastic wrappers. The angry expression in the teenager’s eyes abated at the thought of two pints of ice-cream, even if they were semi-melted.

"It’s okay, Yohji-kun. I’ll persevere somehow." Turning an innocent expression on his friend, the youth asked a question guaranteed to make the man leave the room. "Is Aya going somewhere, he looks like he’s about ready to leave. Isn’t it a little early?" Yohji hurried from the room, anxious to find out what his lover was up to. Once he was gone the short youth regarded his sullen guest, his demeanor very serious. "One more incident like that and you will be gone from here for good, do you understand me?" Omi had been waiting outside the kitchen, eavesdropping on the two men, ever since Aya had stopped by his room and idly commented that Yohji and Knight were alone downstairs. The only reason he wasn’t evicting the blond right now was Yohji had been partially responsible for the almost fight.

Cutting off the stranger before he could offer an apology or explanation, the archer continued to glare up at him. "Yohji can be a little hard to deal with, especially when someone is threatening something precious to him. Which is not behavior that I would expect from a Kritiker agent. I’ve read the reports about your group, and you’re supposed to be a professional. It’s time to start acting like it. Focus on the mission at hand. Aya believes that you can be a benefit to the team, don’t let him down."

Things were definitely getting out of control, he was getting a lecture from a sixteen year old. Cursing his temper and Kudoh for making it slip its leash, Knight ducked his head and mumbled an apology. It was even worse than receiving a verbal takedown from Bishop. Thinking of his teammate helped to remind him why he was here. He had to start thinking of the mission. "I should be getting ready soon. Is there anything else?"

"One more thing," was the reply, so Yuushi stood there as the younger blond busied himself with searching for a spoon and peeling off the lid of one of the pints. The man felt a smile tug at his lips at the sight of the boy’s face as he took in the partially liquid state of his treat. The frown was soon displaced with a grin as Omi swallowed a dripping spoonful of cookie dough ice-cream. After a couple mouthfuls the teenager returned his attention to the waiting man. "You’re wrong, you know. He really does love Aya. And he’d do anything for him. Both of them would. I don’t know how exactly you feel about Aya, but if you cared for him at all you’d just be happy for the two of them and let them be. And not mention a word about the relationship to anyone else."

That caught Yuushi’s attention. "Kritiker doesn’t know about them yet?"

"No." Omi had debated whether or not he should ask Aya to ensure the man’s silence or handle the matter himself. He decided to tackle it, if the man didn’t seem like he would cooperate he could always ask Schuldig to erase Honjyou’s memory of the relationship. And pray that the agent still had some brain cells left afterwards. "There are some things the organization doesn’t need to know. Don’t /you/ agree?" That earned him a flush from the older blond, considering that Crashers was pretty much going behind their employers’ backs with this case.

"You have a point. They won’t hear about it from me." Leaving the room, Yuushi regarded the youth one more time as he paused in the doorway. "Just how much of Kudoh’s and my discussion did you hear?"

"All of it. You were wrong about most of what you said. And I think you need to realize that you’re dealing with Aya now, and not Ran."

Knight made his way to the bathroom, mind puzzled by the last statement.

*******

Yohji entered his bedroom, mildly surprised to find his lover going through his closet. Aya usually got dressed in his own room, and had some scathing comments about the blond’s choice of apparel. "Looking for something in particular?"

A muffled voice answered him. "That red jacket of yours."

"Try more over to the left." After a minute the redhead emerged victorious, hair mussed and a slight smile on his lips. Yohji couldn’t resist walking over to the man and brushing back the tousled locks. "Most people usually ask to borrow things first, don’t you know."

Violet eyes blinked up at him, and the smile disappeared. "I’ll put it back." The older man caught Aya’s wrist as he turned to the closet.

"If you want to wear it tonight, feel free. Just making idle chatter on the topic of manners." Now the man was frowning at him. Not quite up to trying to decipher the redhead’s twisted way of thinking, Yohji caved in to the urge and pulled his lover close for a hug. Aya hn’ed but let himself be held as he tossed the leather coat aside. The blond ran his hands over the silver grey velvet top the kitten was wearing. He’d always loved this shirt, with the way the color shifted from light to dark. Most likely the swordsman had picked it because of the high neck, mindful of the love bites. "Where are you headed off to this early?"

"The hospital."

"Mmm." He should have known. Yohji bent his head down to nibble on a pale ear, his hands trying their best to slide inside the soft, grey leather pants. There was a growling sound and Aya pulled away as far as he could.

"Kudoh, I need to leave soon…"

"I know, ‘so behave’." Green eyes regarded the smaller man sadly. "Aya, why do you love me?" He hated to ask the question, but Honjyou’s comments rang in his ears, not leaving him alone. The kitten was so completely different from him, in so many ways. What was the attraction? He knew he loved Aya to the point of obsession, but had no clue why the redhead returned the feeling.

The pale man was trying to make sure he’d heard his boyfriend correctly. "Is this a joke?"

"No. I really want to know. Why me? I’ve seen the way people act around you, you could have anyone you want." That earned him a disbelieving snort. Aya never did comprehend just how gorgeous he was. The prick had been right, Yohji was insecure about the redhead. He knew there were a lot of people interested in Aya who could offer the man more than he’d ever be able to. And not manage to piss him off quite so much.

Aya sighed. He never should have left Yohji alone with Honjyou. Somehow he sensed the other blond was behind this impromptu question. "I just do."

"What the hell kind of answer is that?"

"An answer to that stupid question you asked. I have to go."

"Fine. Go." The playboy loosened his hold on Aya. Dammit, he /hated/ that crushed expression on Kudoh’s face. It reminded him of the one his sister wore when she had been hurt by something and trying so hard not to let people know.

There was another sigh. The redhead /detested/ trying to put his feeling into words. "You make me feel… safe. I know you’ll always be there, that I won’t wake up one day and you’ll be gone. That I can trust you."

Yohji stood there quietly, waiting for the redhead to speak some more. The man just stared at him. Okay, that hadn’t been what he’d thought he’d hear. It would have been nice if the kitten had remarked about his brilliant mind or devastatingly handsome looks, but he could live with that statement. Just meant the kitten couldn’t be easily swayed by a pretty face or smooth talk. Smiling a bit at that last thought, Yohji raised an eyebrow at the smaller man.

"Hn." The idiot was grinning, so maybe what he’d said had gotten through. But on the off chance there was still a bit of doubt, or that there would be an even stupider question asked, Aya stood on his toes and kissed the blond. Yohji quickly responded, letting the swordsman push him back to the couch and sat down. Aya knelt on the floor, pulling the older man close so as to continue the kiss.

The blond’s breath hitched as a slender hand worked his belt buckle and the buttons on his jeans. Long fingers reached into the opening and stroked his stiffening erection. Yohji moaned into Aya’s mouth at the teasing caresses, breaking off the kiss to throw his head back. There were a series of fleeting kisses down his jaw and extended throat, and the brief sensation of warm air was the only warning the playboy had.

"Gods, Ay~a…" A hot, moist cavern completely engulfed him, and he lost himself to the sensation, fingers tangled in crimson strands as hips thrusted up in an impossible attempt to get deeper into his lover’s mouth. Aya let him do this for several seconds before holding his hips down and pulling back, making the blond cry out. Another moment later he was once more moaning at the series of nibbles down the shaft, chased back up by a tongue that drove him wild with torment as it lavished attention to the twitching member. As soon as he grew used to the teasing licks the redhead again deep throated him, letting go of the hold on his pelvis. Yohji hips once more started thrusting as he fucked his lover’s mouth, gasping out the man’s name over and over again. His voice choked off as he came in a rush, fingers tightening their hold with a painful intensity.

Head resting on the back of the couch, Yohji realized how tightly he was gripping Aya’s hair, and let go with a murmured apology. He raised his head to look at the man as he combed through the silky locks. The redhead rocked back on his heels as he crossed his arms on the older man’s lap and rested his chin on them. A pink tongue briefly appeared to lap at the few drops of cum glittering on his lips, and violet eyes gazed at him through heavy lids. Yohji couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight, causing those orbs to narrow in indignation. "If you could just see yourself right now," the blond tried to explain, "you’d never say another word about me calling you ‘kitten’ ever again."

"Hn." Aya was getting tired of hearing that. Of all things to be told one resembled, there were many that were a touch more dignified. At least it was better than ‘snugglebunny’. Infinitely so than ‘sweetie’. He rubbed his cheek against the hand brushing along his cheekbone, then swatted at it when it tugged on an eartail. Standing on his feet, he quickly bent down to kiss the playboy on the lips before starting to move away. "Be careful tonight." His wrist was grasped before he could take more than one step from the seated man.

"What about you?" Yohji asked as the redhead twisted his hand free and continued over to the bed, where the red leather jacket was lying. Before shutting the door behind him Aya turned to gaze at his boyfriend, eyes once more heavy lidded and a wicked smile gracing his lips.

"Later." The deep voice made the word into a promise, and Yohji felt his body respond to the statement. Smile still in place, the smaller man pulled the door shut, leaving the blond with a similar grin as he thought of how he could repay his lover when they came home that night. Better warn Ken to break out the earplugs.

*******

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