Resurrection

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by nekojita

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Ryo finished his drink and stared blearily at the empty glass as he wondered if he should have another beer or not. His coworkers had left… well, several beers ago, and the place had become full with a new crowd of people – younger, louder and much more casually dressed than the after-work crowd he’d come in with that afternoon. Scattered here and there amongst the jeans and leather pants and short skirts were men dressed up in remnants of business suits, their jackets folded beside them and their ties undone, just like his. He mockingly held up his empty glass and toasted them, the few, the drunk, the unwilling to go home….

His thoughts spiraled darkly into thoughts of home and why he was so desperate to avoid returning there, until a waitress walked past and left another glass of beer on his small table. He sent what he hoped to be a charming smile in her direction as he picked up the glass and gulped, the suds bitter but soon chased by the beer itself. For a moment he thought about the sake he’d shared with his coworkers in celebration of Tanaka’s promotion but then he shook his head as he lowered the half empty glass to the table. Right now he just wanted to keep enough of a buzz to get him to the love hotel just down the street where he’d taken to spending a few nights a week and then fall asleep. One of the few things he’d learned about himself in the past year was that he had quite the tolerance for alcohol and just how far he could push it. A little sleep, a quick shower, a change into the clean boxers and new dress shirt still in its wrapper and he’d be ready for another day at work. With luck there would be another gathering like tonight or an important project and he’d have another excuse to avoid going home any time soon, or at least to not stay there very long if he had to.

Another beer down and another one ordered with a wave of his hand and an apparently still-charming smile at the waitress, who blushed and bowed her head in response. Yes, he still had a little bit of tolerance and charm left, thankfully. Not that he planned to put both to use much longer. This should be his last beer, and he wasn’t willing to put up with the guilt he’d feel if he managed to convince the pretty woman to spend the night with him at the hotel. No, nowhere near drunk enough for that… and besides, she wasn’t exactly his type. As terrible as he felt about cheating on Asuka, it took something more than a pretty face and shy smile to drive him to it.

Intent on making this final beer last, he slowly sipped it as he watched people continue to pour into the small bar. All the tables were now taken, people crowded around them as they laughed and drank. The sight made him even more depressed, reminded him of the fact that he had no real friends, just co-workers. He hadn’t minded it too much at first, but now he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d hung out in places like this when he’d graduated from high-school or college, if he’d built up that impressive tolerance by spending nights out with his friends. What had they been like? Did they dress up in the latest fashions and dye their hair, did they try to fit in or stand out-?

"Excuse me."

His musings were cut short as his small table was jostled and by a deep voice and a presence that loomed near his left side. He looked over to find a tall man with dark red hair, a beer in each hand, staring at him.

"Yes?" he asked, throat suddenly gone dry at the sight of the man, of that red hair falling around a tan face and down past broad shoulders.

The stranger held up the beers. "Uhm, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your table. All the others seem to be taken up by at least four people." He smiled at Ryo, a slight hitch to the expression as if it was one he didn’t often use. That made Ryo’s throat go even drier, made something deep inside his body start to thrum until he had to shift about in discomfort on his seat.

"I… I guess you and your friend can sit here. I’ll be leaving shortly." He forced his eyes away from the man to look about for the waitress with the intent to settle his bill and get out of here before he did something stupid.

The man chuckled as he slid into one of the table’s empty chairs, the sound just as deep as his voice and as rough as the smile. "Oh, it’s only me. I hoped that if I brought along another beer, I could bribe someone to let me share their table."

Ryo glanced at the man in time to see the beer be slid over to him, right next to his almost empty glass. He made to refuse the drink, to rise to his feet and see if he couldn’t just pay for his tab at the bar, but sight of another not-quite smooth smile and the stranger’s eyes kept him in his seat. At first he thought they were blue or green, but up close they appeared to a light grey instead, a color that shifted to almost lavender when the man dipped his head slightly. Ryo felt his breath quicken at the revelation as a quick pain shot through both his chest and his head. He grimaced as he reached for his glass of beer with his right hand and lifted his left hand to rub his forehead. There had been a flash of rare memory just then, a glimpse of pale purple eyes narrowing at him from behind a veil of bright red hair….

"Seriously," the stranger continued as he motioned toward the extra beer. "Please, take it. I only stopped in for a quick drink so I could warm up a little. I can’t believe how cold it is outside." He shivered for emphasis, hands pushed into the pockets of his leather coat, tousled hair glinting with gleams of light that must be melted snowflakes. "Oh, and I’m Thompson. Michael Thompson." He bowed his head slightly.

Placing his empty glass on the table, Ryo bowed slightly in return. "Ito Ryo. Are you sure you don’t want the beer?" he asked as he forced himself not to stare at his guest. The red hair, that deep voice, the eyes…. He felt an incredibly strong sense of déjà vu, felt something that made him want to smile in his most teasing yet seductive manner and lean forward over the table, to reach out and brush back the hair falling onto the man’s handsome face….

Instead, he managed to control himself and reach with his left hand for the free beer instead, even though he realized that he’d already drank too much. But it was so much safer to wrap his hand around the glass instead of burying it in that long hair. His grasp a little uncertain, he bumped his hand into glass and produced a clear ‘clink’ when his wedding ring struck the smooth surface. There was a sudden heat to his face when he realized that he still wore the ring, when he realized that he wished nothing more than that he’d taken it off sometime before this stranger had approached his table.

But the man, Thompson, didn’t seem to notice his pause. "I’m quite sure. Please, enjoy." He motioned once more to the beer before he lifted his own glass and sipped. "This really isn’t my type of place so I won’t be staying long." He leaned back into his chair as he looked at Ryo, grey once more shifting to pale purple. "But if you have to leave now, I understand. I imagine that you’re ready to head home." There was a quick glance at the wedding ring.

Dammit, he had noticed, Ryo thought as he sipped the beer in order to hide a grimace. Not that he planned on trying to pick up this man, not that he even thought there was a chance of that happening but… this Thompson was handsome with his wide mouth and straight nose, with the way he looked at him through that thick fall of bangs. Through a thick fall of long, dark red hair. Ryo never intended to cheat on Asuka but for some reason, whenever he found himself in the presence of a handsome man with red hair on these nights out, he felt something take over, felt himself grow so confident yet desperate at the same time and, if the man was willing, he did end up with company for the night. Even if he knew he’d feel terribly the next day, he couldn’t stop himself.

He swallowed some more beer before he answered, the back of his right hand wiped across his lips and his attention focused on his companion. "No, I wasn’t heading home." Something compelled him to tell the man more than he should, to breach the formality that should be between them, two strangers. "I was just going to finish my beer and then head down the street to a hotel to spend the night. Home… isn’t where I want to be right now." Wasn’t where he wanted to be for several months now, not since Asuka had lost the-

Another blinding flash of pain made him jerk against the table, hands buried in his hair as he tried to massage the hurt away – but it didn’t fade away this time, nor were there any snippets of memory. Beer sloshed onto the table as it was jostled again. A hand, Thompson’s he assumed, his eyes were tightly closed in pain yet he was so sure that the man had leaned over to touch him, hovered near Ryo’s. How he knew he wasn’t certain, and for some reason Thompson’s hand seemed to burn so hot he could feel the heat that radiated from it, could feel it sink into his skin and into his aching head. "Are you all right? You look really pale. Do you need anything?"

"No, it’s all right," Ryo said, the words rushing from his mouth as he tried to regain control of himself. "I, these headaches happen to me a lot. They go away in a few minutes." He had learned not to mind them too much, not with the brief glimpses of the past they sometimes provided. "I just need-"

"You need to get out of here, I imagine. The noise can’t be very good for you." That hand settled on top of his, the touch almost burning his skin yet soothing it at the same time, and then slowly slid down his left arm until it grabbed his elbow.

"Wait, my tab…," he protested as he was practically dragged to his feet, his eyelids peeking open just enough so he could find his briefcase and snatch it. As he stumbled from the table, something warm settled over his shoulders.

"Don’t worry about it," Thompson said in his deep, soothing voice and suddenly Ryo stopped doing just that and meekly allowed himself be led out of the crowded, noisy bar. Oddly enough, he didn’t bump into anyone the entire way, even though they didn’t stop until he felt a blast of cold. He opened his eyes slightly to find himself out on the street, and the pain in his head started to fade as he breathed in the cold air. Standing beside him, Thompson helped him into his heavy coat, and Ryo noticed his suit’s jacket draped over the man’s right shoulder. As he managed to slide his arms into the thick wool coat, Thompson smiled at him, the expression a little more smooth this time.

"I think I brought everything. You said you planned to stay at a hotel, right?" Thompson remained close to him even though his coat was now on.

Ryo leaned closer to his companion in hopes of feeling more of that wonderful heat, especially now that they were out in the cold, but it seemed to have faded, along with his headache. "Yeah, just down the block from here." He jerked his head to the right and began to walk, breath held as he waited to see if Thompson followed him or not.

Thompson did, his shoulder bumping into Ryo’s as they strolled side by side. "That’s the Paradise Hotel, isn’t it?" He glanced sideways at Ryo, who felt his lips curve into a smile in response. Part of him suddenly felt very distant as the familiar strangeness settled over him, as his walk became more of a swagger and the thrum from earlier returned, stronger than before.

"I know, it’s a little odd but it’s close by and it’s clean. I’ve been there enough the last few months that they practically keep a room open for me," he explained, his voice taking on a husky, sultry tone. Funny how he felt so alive when this happened, felt whole for the first time since waking up in the hospital – yet why didn’t it ever last for long? Why did it fade into guilt come morning?

Thompson’s arm slid along his shoulders just then, strong and delightfully warm. Ryo lost his train of thought immediately as he leaned against the man. "Well, I think it’s a good thing it’s so close tonight, although you look a little better now that we left the bar." The man’s arm squeezed his right shoulder and warm fingers brushed along his neck, right above the collar of his coat. The touch made him shiver and lurch against Thompson. The few people around them didn’t give them a second glance; they probably just assumed they were two friends who’d had a little too much to drink. A small chuckle escaped him at that thought. Maybe he’d had too much to drink, but they weren’t friends. Not that he didn’t hope that they would get a chance to know each other rather well very soon.

They continued down the street like that until they reached the hotel, its entranceway lit up with multicolored lights that ran all around the door. Ryo felt a bit of regret when Thompson released him and took a step back. Maybe he’d read the signals wrong, maybe Thompson hadn’t meant to do more than see him to his hotel. A wave of desperation suddenly engulfed him, startled him with its intensity and its presence. Why could he not bear the thought of this man walking away from him? Confusing emotions made his voice rough as he managed a smile and slid his hands into his coat’s pockets. "Well, thank you for the drink and for making sure I made it here all right." Part of him wanted more than anything to ask the man inside but something held him back, a spark of guilt and an incomprehensible fear.

His companion’s eyes, shaded purple once more, studied him for a moment. "You may look better, but I think I better see you inside. I’d hate for anything to happen to you after I left."

As an excuse it was a weak one, but they were standing in front of a love hotel and Ryo wanted this man, wanted him desperately. He’d accept anything that got his companion inside. "Thank you," was all he said, his voice smoothing out as Thompson stepped closer to him and slid an arm around his waist.

This time they did attract a few odd looks from the people walking around inside but it didn’t bother Ryo in the slightest. He was filled with burning anticipation, could already imagine Thompson naked beneath him, the feel of his skin against Ryo’s, hot and slick with sweat. Yet he felt his lips curve into a smooth smile as he approached the small desk where a middle-aged man sat behind a plexi-glass barrier and his hands didn’t shake as he slid the usual amount of money through the small slot on the counter. The hotel employee didn’t bat an eye, merely slid the usual key over to him and went back to reading his magazine.

"This way," he told Thompson as the hand holding his briefcase curved around his companion’s back. He got another shy smile in response as he led them to their room. In just a few moments they were there, and this time his hand did shake a little as he opened the door. The faint odor of cleaning products greeted him as he walked into the room, his right hand automatically finding the light switch.

Once in the middle of the room, he turned and set his briefcase down on the floor. "Well, I made it here safe and sound." He waited for Thompson to make the next move, both because he was suddenly sure of the outcome and in an attempt to appease the guilt he felt for doing this yet again to Asuka.

He didn’t have long to think about that guilt as Thompson took three long steps to stand right in front of him. "You’re still just a little bit pale, so I think I’ll stick around a little longer, if that’s all right with you." Ryo didn’t get a chance to say if it was or wasn’t as Thompson’s hands settled his shoulders and he was pulled forward into a passionate kiss. There was a sudden thought that his companion should be just a little shorter, that he should have to tilt his head a little more into the kiss but then the feel of silky hair brushing across his face made him forget all about that bit of nonsense. He dropped the room’s key and pressed against his companion, wrapped his arms around him tightly so the man couldn’t pull away.

Maybe it was the alcohol but things became blurry just then, the details of how they shed their clothes and fumbled to the bed lost in a haze of kisses that left him breathless and touches that made him moan and clutch the muscular body pressed against his even closer. Time seemed to return to normal just as Ryo tumbled onto the bed. Thompson followed him down and settled on top of him, and a sudden, short burst of laughter escaped the man.

<i> He tipped them both onto the bed and listened to his lover laugh as they fell, felt his breath catch in his throat at the sound. As they lay sideways on the bed, he reached out and brushed back the crimson hair that his lover hid behind to expose a sliver of a wicked smile. The smile faded as his hand was captured by one paler and narrower, and he moaned deep in his throat as his lover pressed a solemn kiss against his palm. The action broke his restraint, pushed him forward until he rolled his once-again smiling lover onto his back and he laughed in triumph when he settled on top. Long, lean legs wrapped around his hips and he felt so good, so right that he continued to laugh even as he tried to kiss his lover.</i>

Ryo gasped as he found himself pulling away from Thompson, breath coming in pants as reality and memory merged for a moment. He realized that he was the one on his back, that the flesh he stroked wasn’t pale but a warm, golden tan. Then Thompson kissed him again, rocked bony hips into his and sent a jolt of pure lust through him as a hot, slick hardness slid along his own. His hips jerked in response while his fingers dug into his lover’s ass. He growled low in his throat and broke off the kiss so he could trail his mouth over to the left, to the spot just below Thompson’s pierced right ear.

<i> His lover bucked against him as he bit gently just below a pale ear - then he wrinkled his nose when a long, thin earring poked his cheek. He brushed the jewelry aside and focused on reducing his lover into a quivering pile of need, the taste of salty skin the sweetest ambrosia to his licking tongue as he soothed the slightly red mark left by his teeth. His lover shivered beneath him and dug strong fingers into his shoulders as he continued the torment. A calloused foot slid up and down his left calf as they rocked their hips together, as their erections slid together between their bodies and the need continued to build. The blood rushed through his ears until he couldn’t hear exactly what his lover moaned so deeply but he knew it was his name….</i>

He clutched at Thompson’s hair as it tickled his chest, the breath leaving him when his lover’s teeth gently bit into his left nipple. His back arched off the bed at the slight pain and his body tingled so strongly with pleasure that he began to shake. There was so much need, so hot and potent that everything faded except the feel of Thompson’s body against his and the intense pleasure his lover’s touches, licks and bites stirred within him. He moaned as he tugged on Thompson’s hair, body shaking with so much need that he afraid things would end right there, something that he most definitely didn’t want. Right now what he wanted, what he *needed* more than anything he could recall in his very short life was more of his lover’s wonderful heat. He didn’t stop tugging – even though his lover’s mouth right below his navel made him tremble and arch his hips upward as another moan burst free – until they were face to face once more, until he could stare deeply into purple eyes. "Screw foreplay," he ground out, voice rough with desperation and want.

"And screw you?" Thompson asked, a sliver of a wicked smile on his lips as he rocked his hips against Ryo’s, as his hands slid around and grasped Ryo’s ass, spread the cheeks slightly open.

That stunned him for a moment, the sudden reversal of how he’d imagined this. He’d always taken his male lovers in the past, had felt the need to be on top but while he stared into his lover’s eyes he found himself craving the feel of that luscious heat deep inside him. "Yes…."

<i> Eyes darkened to a deep purple by passion, his lover knelt over him, crimson hair falling onto a pale face and shoulders. "Are you sure you want it like this…?" There was an unusual note of hesitancy in the deep voice, a new sign of how he’d affected his lover and he found he liked it very much. So much that he just smiled and stretched out on the bed, hips wiggling slightly as he stared at his lover, his sexiest smile on his lips. "Yes, oh yes." </i>

"…oh yes," he gasped as he spread his legs wider apart, as his hands tugged his lover closer for yet another kiss. He adored the feel of their tongues sliding and tangling together, how they panted in each other’s mouths as their bodies ground together and hands stroked along slick flesh. Thompson squirmed against him when his hand trailed along his lover’s right hip and down his stomach, then he went suddenly still as Ryo’s hand tangled in curly hair. Just a little lower and he could feel his lover’s cock, held it in his hand and thought about the thick length soon inside him, thrusting deep and hard….

"How can I resist that?" Thompson chuckled in his ear. "One fast, hard fuck coming right up. Now just let go for a second… here, stroke this."

Ryo blinked as his hand was guided to his own cock but didn’t argue. He stroked along his flesh as Thompson leaned over to the side of the bed to fetch what they’d need. The passion and want was so potent inside him that he could barely think, could only focus on how cold he felt with the lack of his lover’s body on his. Something seemed… not wrong but not quite right, but before he could even try to marshal his befuddled thoughts, his lover was back between his thighs. Warm, large hands stroked along his flesh and urged him over onto his stomach, urged him to tuck up his legs until he was half kneeling and half lying on the bed.

<i> He stared down at his lover for a moment, at where he was buried deep in the man’s body, his cock taken in all the way to his balls and the sight shook him, made him shiver at the implied trust. He leaned over his lover, chest pressed to a scarred, muscled back until his face was buried in damp strands of crimson. "I love you," he murmured, voice unusually quiet because of the importance of the words and the depth of his need, and then he pulled back once again. His lover’s response was lost in a sudden, sharp gasp as he snapped his hips forward, as his cock drove even deeper, pulled out slightly and then forward once again. The motion picked up speed as he sought to go as deep as possible, to burrow as far as he could so they’d never be separate again. And all his lover did was choke out his name and press back against him, a strong hand reached for and latched on to his hip and urged him even closer, impossible as that was.</i>

He choked on a cry as something pushed inside him, not in pain but in disappointment. He wanted more, wanted something thicker and hotter, wanted to be pressed against the mattress and pleasure pounded into him until he broke from it. Yet his hips shifted backward to take the finger in even deeper and he hunched over the bed as his right hand pumped along his cock. "Dammit, you said-"

"Fast and hard, I know." There was a deep, amused chuckle from behind him as another finger pressed inside. "You know, you’re pretty damn tight. Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"Yes." He knew there would most likely be pain but that was fine, was all right. Maybe the pain would dull the guilt come morning, would curb the desperation he felt. There was something dark behind his emotions, something so strong that he shied away from it, wanted only to focus on need and pleasure. There was a faint whisper that he deserved the pain in return for what he’d dealt but for some reason, it wasn’t Asuka he thought about when he heard it but a man’s face, pale and beautiful and marked by agony, purple eyes half-hidden by crimson hair as he stared at Ryo with betrayal and pain. No, not Ryo but-

He let out a cry as he got his wish, as something much thicker and harder and hotter than Thompson’s fingers pushed inside him, stretched him to his limits and then even more. But then a touch of heat soothed along his ass, made the pain fade somewhat and his body relax a bit. While he missed the pain, the pleasure was so intense, so satisfying he did little more than mumble a complaint as he jerked his hips backward for more of that wonderful heat and thickness. Any fears he might have had to be the one on the bottom faded as his body took over, as he rocked and twisted his hips and felt his body relax even more. Pushing up onto his left elbow, right hand still wrapped around his cock, he braced himself and begged for more.

His lover instantly responded with a sudden thrust that made him cry out again, utterly filled yet wanting more. The pleasure began to build in waves as his lover pounded into his body, with sudden brilliant sparks whenever something deep inside was touched - again and again.

<i> He let out a strangled groan as warmth spurted inside him, the feeling setting off a new round of trembling as his over-sensitive body reacted to the sensation, still full of euphoria as it was from his recent orgasm. When he heard his lover cry out, a wordless, deep sound of satiation, he felt his spine go limp and fell forward, onto the sweaty, hot body stretched out beneath him. He moaned in contentment as he pressed his face against his lover’s neck, as he felt strong arms wrap around his back and hold him close. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to make this moment last forever, to remain connected like this and so happy, so content. No death, no blood, no ghosts… just him and A… Ay…</i>

Blood pounded through his body, blood and pleasure that flowed through all of him, a roaring sensation/sound that left him oblivious to everything but its noise and feel, of how it pulled together all of him and drove him forward into bliss, into feeling so complete and centered around the hardness buried deep inside him…. Memory and reality merged again, left him shaking and confused as the orgasm crashed down on him in a wave of emotion so intense that the world shattered into whiteness. Until all he was aware of was one word that echoed in his ears much like the pounding of his own blood.

"Aya!"

That one word riveted him, consumed all of his attention as he felt something hidden deep inside him click into place. There were brief flashes of a man’s face, the same face he’d caught glimpses of the last couple of months, the same man he’d just imagined in his bed. But this time the image of that face didn’t last for just a mere second or two before it faded. Now he saw what the man looked like in throes of passion, in deep contemplation, in anger and annoyance and indifference, in boredom and pain and happiness.

"Why am I not surprised?"

The cryptic words broke the spell of memory, made him gasp in pain as the haunting face faded once again. Ryo opened his eyes to find himself still hunched over the bed, his ass sore and body covered with sweat and semen. When he managed to turn his face to the left he found Thompson lying on the bed, smile no longer rough or shy but amused and more than a little cocky.

His lover reached out and brushed back the bangs stuck to his forehead. "Well, that was both highly enjoyable and productive. But I think it’s time for you to go to sleep, now. Your mind needs the time to adjust and sort through a few things." Thompson leaned forward for a brief kiss and then sat up on the bed. Ryo watched him, unable to move because of the sudden sense of lethargy that all but pinned him to the bed. Thompson chuckled softly and with a bit of pushing and lifting, got him stretched out on his side.

"You are going to be sore as hell tomorrow, and convinced you have the world’s worst hangover. But that’s for the best. Now go to sleep." The words were spoken in accented Japanese, the voice oddly familiar but Ryo was too tired to fight the command and figure out how. As his eyes closed he forgot the last few minutes, forgot the weird conversation as his memory reset itself back to his climax, to the pleasure he felt. All he could remember now was the bliss and the one word ringing in his ears, a word that he knew was a name that belonged to someone very important to him. For a moment an image formed in his mind of the beautiful man with pale skin, bright red hair and purple eyes, and he knew when he found this man he’d find his Aya. Everything else was lost in the darkness of exhaustion and amnesia – but not for long, he resolved with the last of his strength as sleep pulled him under.

*******

Dropping the illusion he’d worn for the last couple of hours, Schuldig pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his coat’s inner pocket as he sauntered away from the love hotel. As he waited for a light to change, he paused to shake one free and lit it, then was on his way once more, a very satisfied smile on his lips. Well, that was a memory to savor. He’d always wondered about Balinese and if he truly deserved his reputation as Weiss’ resident slut. While Schuldig had had better, he must admit that it had been a very enjoyable night. Besides, Balinese had been a little out of practice, as it were, and couldn’t be considered in his best form. Other than his loving wife, Balinese had just slept with a few other men these last few months, whenever his old personality could surface enough to overcome the banality that was Ito Ryo. Schuldig’s smile curved even more as he thought about how that wouldn’t be the case for much longer. Not after tonight. While Balinese wouldn’t make his official appearance for a few more weeks, more or less, he was well on his way back. Maybe Schuldig – or more correctly, ‘Thompson’ as he’d probably be attacked on sight if he showed his real face - could manage to ‘run into’ Balinese again in another month or two….

But for right now, he’d best avoid the man and let the work he’d done tonight take effect. He wasn’t surprised in the least that the key to restoring Balinese’s memory was Aya. Balinese had always loved too deeply, had spent all that time since breaking up with his lover brooding over the man – even if he hid it well behind his obsession with that bitch Neu. While Tsujii’s attempt to wipe clean his memory had been startling efficient, it hadn’t been perfect – the memories hadn’t been completely destroyed, just hidden down very deep. All it had taken was finding the right stimulus to set things in motion for those memories to return. Stalking Balinese these last few months might have been boring as hell, but tonight Schuldig’s patience had been well-rewarded. He just hoped that he was around for when Balinese finally remembered enough to give his wife the big kiss-off. Persia’s agent had allowed herself much too close to her assignment and the result of her failure should be spectacularly messy. Schuldig adored messes… when he was only involved with their creation and not their consequences. Everyone needed a hobby, after all.

The wait wouldn’t be long now, and he could drink in the woman’s pain as her carefully crafted, happy little life shattered around her. But he’d best be nearby for more than just to enjoy that event. He’d had to be very subtle with some of his tampering tonight, but there should be enough distrust planted in Balinese’s muddled thoughts tonight that he wouldn’t go running to Persia once his memories returned. No, that wouldn’t do at all, especially since Saijou had also decided to mess with Balinese’s life. While the old bastard should be content to see one of his son and grandsons’ murderers lose the only remaining family he had, Schuldig couldn’t trust the bastard not to try and cause Balinese even more pain. No, he’d have to make sure Balinese was out of the country as soon as the majority of his memories returned. That shouldn’t be too hard to do… thanks to a deeply planted seed of various hints and half thoughts. One of the first things that should occur to Balinese once he remembered his lover and decided to track him down would be to look for flower shops. Foreign flower shops with the word ‘kitten’ in their name, to be exact. Schuldig smiled as he took a slow drag from his cigarette and looked around for a taxi. When he finally spotted one, it only took a quick thought to make it stop in front of him.

Once out of the cold and settled in the back seat, he rested his head against the upholstery and chuckled softly. Poor Aya, all nice and safe in Kryptobrand’s embrace, didn’t worry too much about hiding his presence – at least, not from those who knew where to look. He probably hadn’t seen any need to, as his old pal ‘Omi’ clearly knew where he was and Siberian was at his side. No, Aya wasn’t the type to fret over his enemies finding him – not the man who had stopped dying his hair that awful purple shade and kept the name he’d killed so many under. Balinese would have no trouble tracking him down, not with the help of a few carefully chosen ‘clues’.

Schuldig’s smile took on a nasty twist as he toyed with a strand of his hair. No, soon enough Aya would find Balinese on his doorstep, as if resurrected from the dead. A mostly restored Balinese eager to resume a relationship he didn’t remember having ended with a series of torrid affairs in a desperate attempt to keep some imagined curse from befalling the man he loved. A Balinese no longer tormented by the pain that had filled him all those years after hurting Aya so cruelly.

Poor Aya, Schuldig thought with a wicked smile, to be left with the decision on whether or not he should risk a return of his old lover’s pain by telling him the truth about their relationship, about how Balinese had been after their breakup. Balinese certainly wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer without some good explanation, after all. Aya would have to decide if he should tell his old lover the complete truth and throw away the past or give up his new life. Oh yes, things should get very interesting… very *messy*… then.

Chuckling again, Schuldig closed his eyes and reached out with his talent. With much effort and focus, he was able to find the mind he sought. Only years of toying with this particular mind, of invading its dreams and savoring its anguish and resoluteness enabled him to make the connection. But then again, Aya had always been a favorite toy of his, one rendered all the more precious by the rest of Weiss’ instability. He’d chosen his prey well all those years ago, and Aya hadn’t let him down yet. While Balinese and Siberian had been driven to madness and dear little ‘Omi’ had succumbed to his worst fears, Aya alone had continued to fight, had allowed himself to change, had remained interesting.

And now all Schuldig had to do was sit back, monitor the situation carefully and then reap the delicious rewards of his hard work. The danger of Aya becoming too complacent, too content would soon be gone. He sincerely hoped that Aya took Balinese back as that held the hope of being slightly more amusing, but even if Aya rejected his old lover, things would never be the same. Although Schuldig would probably have to do something sooner or later to shake things up again, which meant more work on his part. Maybe dear Siberian could suffer a relapse….

He felt very proud of his night’s work. Balinese would be shaken from the life he’d always thought he’d wanted and robbed once again of his precious innocence, Persia would lose a potential ally, one he’d purposefully kept in careful reserve these many months, and Aya’s world would be turned on end. Schuldig took his pleasure wherever he could, but this was highly enjoyable – the rush of toying with their lives, of re-arranging the best laid plans with but a few thoughts. That he and his should benefit from the events was a delightful bonus.

As the taxi sped through Tokyo, he idly wondered if there was a chance that Aya would chose an alternative that contained neither past nor present. He couldn’t put it past the man, not when Aya had been able to surprise him several times before. But if that was the case… his hand rubbed softly between his legs, against the growing erection there. He’d tasted Balinese and hadn’t been disappointed, maybe a trip to England was in order to see if lovely Aya lived up to expectations as well. With the way Balinese obsessed over him, he had to be more than worth the effort. But first, he’d see how Balinese fared before he made any future plans.

For a few moments longer, his mind merely stroked against Aya’s as he enjoyed the sensation of contentment and exhaustion that he sensed. The poor man was sleeping peacefully, totally unsuspecting of the chaotic mess his life was about to become. Schuldig felt a moment’s possessiveness over his toy before he pushed all emotion aside and concentrated. There was a great deal of difficulty in deepening the contact between them over this distance, but it only took a minute or two to unearth a rather painful memory in Aya’s subconscious. As the memory took on the form of a dream and became twisted, Schuldig released his hold on Aya’s mind with much regret. The taxi should reach his hotel soon, and then he’d have to get some sleep. One needed to be on their best guard around the new Persia, especially when one was sabotaging him with joyful glee. Nagi may have accepted being Persia’s pet, but *he* hadn’t. There was no way in hell he would bow down and kiss the feet of some Takatori brat he should have been able to kill years ago. Once Persia helped in reining in Esset once again, Schuldig wouldn’t need to keep the brat alive any longer. He had some half-formed plans on what he’d do then, and found the thought of turning Bombay’s former teammates against him very appealing.

But first thing first, he had to get Balinese back into the game and out of Japan. While he wasn’t a precog like Crawford, he had the outmost confidence in pulling this off. And once he did, the real fun could start.

*******

Aya was back in Tokyo, back in the apartment he shared with Yohji. His lover stood before him, hair tousled, clothes half off and a cocky grin on his face as the young woman Yohji had brought home kept stuttering a constant stream of apologies while she picked up her scattered belongings. Aya and Yohji were silent as she crept out the door, eyes locked on each other while they stood only a couple of feet apart.

Next came the crashing wave of agony and betrayal, of his heart breaking as Yohji flippantly ended their relationship with some inane babble about being bored. Bored with him, with their relationship and with Japan in general. Aya could only stand there, hands clenched into fists as his lover continued on about how he’d accepted an assignment from Omi, one that would lead him out of the country. Yohji needed the change, wanted something new and would be gone in a few days.

This time Aya could do nothing as his lover continued to give him that cocky smile, couldn’t lash out as he’d done all those years ago and knock that grin off of Yohji’s face. As much as he regretted his harsh actions back then, it was even worse to just stand there and watch Yohji change from the man he still loved into a twisted doppelganger, one with bleached, shorn hair and haunted green eyes. Aya knew, just *knew* that if he could say something, if he tried to reach out to his lover he could stop what was to come, could prevent Yohji’s lovely eyes from turning vacant and his handsome face from being covered with blood. But he stood there helpless, unable to do anything other than watch as the blood spread all over his lover and then became an inky blackness that swallowed Yohji whole. Yohji was gone, utterly gone and he’d done nothing to stop it from happening…. Pressure wrapped around him and squeezed his chest, crushed his frantically beating heart until all he could feel was pain.

Aya suddenly found himself awake in bed, strong arms wrapped around him as a deep, smooth voice murmured in his left ear. "Aya, it’s just a dream."

He forced dry lips to move as he patted his lover’s arms until they released him. "I know." Rolling over, he faced his lover, for a moment shaken by the sight of wavy blond hair falling onto a handsome face. But the eyes staring at him through the too-short strands were a brilliant blue, full of concern and not mocking him in the slightest, like the green ones from his nightmare had done. Sighing in relief, Aya tilted his head until it rested against his lover’s shoulder. "I know, Chloe. Thank you."

"Hmmm." Chloe’s arms wrapped around him again and his large hands soothed their way up and down Aya’s back. "You were the one who said they were tired and wanted to go to bed early tonight, you know. If you were planning to wake me up like this, I would have rather just stayed up."

Aya couldn’t help but smile at Chloe’s grumbling. "I’m terribly sorry for disturbing your important beauty sleep. How can I ever make it up to you?" Wanting just to forget the dream and put it behind him, Aya focused on his lover. Maybe Chloe would be content with some fresh scones from the bakery just down the street. He was about suggest that for a peace offering when he suddenly found himself pushed onto his back.

Chloe quickly settled over him, hips tucked between his thighs. There was an unusually somber look to his lover’s face, one that made the fragile, peaceful emotion that had helped erase the turmoil and pain from the nightmare disappear. "Chloe…."

"Yes, *Chloe*." The way his lover spoke, the way his blue eyes burned in the dim light, led Aya to the sinking realization that he’d probably spoken out loud during his nightmare. That he’d probably said a name that he tried his best never to mention when it was the two of them alone like this.

He took a deep breath and forced his tense body to relax as his hand lifted from his sides. His fingers tangled in the warm silkiness of Chloe’s hair and he leaned forward a little, until their faces were only a couple of centimeters apart. "You say that as if you expect me to forget that fact. Don’t tell me you really think so little of yourself, not *you*."

That managed to make his lover’s full lips twitch and slowly curve into a mysterious smile. "When you put things that way, it is clearly ridiculous." Chloe breached the distance between their lips for a kiss, his mouth warm and flavored from his mint toothpaste. Aya moaned softly as his tongue swept forward, his entire body suddenly tingling in eagerness for more of that taste. Everything about his lover was so sharp, so crisp that it demanded his entire attention, that he found himself immersed in Chloe’s world with the least amount of effort. He liked to tease his lover about being so overbearing but Chloe merely sniffed and explained it was simply Aya being overwhelmed by such sheer perfection.

A chuckle escaped him before he could prevent it as his thoughts focused more and more on his lover. He tightened his arms around Chloe’s shoulders and rocked his hips forward in an effort to make amends, but Chloe still pulled away far enough to break off the kiss and glare down his nose at Aya.

"Is something amusing?" Chloe demanded, as indignant as a cat dropped into a tubful of water and bristling almost as much.

Aya offered his put-upon lover a smile in apology. "I’m sorry, I was just once again overwhelmed by sheer perfection. It must have made me completely irrational."

The indignation and haughtiness slowly faded from his lover’s face, only to leave blue eyes twinkling with a decidedly wicked emotion, one that was quickly echoed on his lover’s lips as well.

"Ah, that’s understandable, then." Chloe nodded with satisfaction. "Although I must warn you, I’ve barely begun to ‘overwhelm’ you." He leaned forward once again, until his lips brushed against Aya’s. "No more laughing. From here on out, the only thing I want to hear from you is my name."

The only response Aya could manage was an arched eyebrow before Chloe set out to thoroughly ‘overwhelm’ him, mouth hot and ardent, completely unforgiving as it plundered his until he was bereft of all rational thought and most of his breath. He did manage to stutter out his lover’s name when Chloe’s mouth left his in favor of the spot just below his right ear, but that was the last coherent sound from him for quite a while. ‘Overbearing’ didn’t begin to describe Chloe when he was set on a certain course of action… not that Aya would complain. There was no room left for the past when Chloe was this intent on anchoring him into the present. All Aya could do was joyously give in and enjoy.

*******

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