Shadow Night

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by nekojita

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Since I’m not Koyasu, the boys aren’t mine.

*******

Yohji snarled in frustration and tossed the wet rag onto the table he’d been cleaning. Yanking the ribbon out of his hair and combing back the annoying strands, he considered getting a haircut. It was always getting in the way lately. He could ask Jo to trim it, just like she’d done for Aya a couple of weeks ago.

Thinking of his mate, Yohji smiled happily and looked around the room until he spotted him. As usual, Aya could be found in the shadows, his dark clothes helping him to blend in almost as much as his power. He had the hood of his dark grey jerkin pulled up over his head, so only a small splash of crimson hair could be seen trailing down his chest and hanging onto his face. From this distance it was hard to see Aya’s features and decipher what he was thinking, so it was a good thing that Yohji had another means of judging his mate’s emotional being. If it weren’t for their link, Yohji would almost never have a clue what Aya was thinking. As it was, he was having a bit of difficulty lately even with that connection.

Aya had been… odd the past couple of days, more withdrawn, even more silent. He was spending more time talking to the damn shinigami. It was a more than a bit unnerving. Yohji was also upset about Aya hiding behind his hoods again.

That last might not be tied to Aya’s odd mood, though. With the approach of Kisei’s Night, the capital, and hence the newly enlarged Koneko, had been flooded with people. It was the official end of the summer caravan season. People came for a last bit of trading and shopping to stock up on supplies for winter. If they could fit in some celebrating while they were working, then so much the better. The Koneko, with its large, private garden, was full of guests looking to partake in the revelries here. Aya was not happy with such a large influx of strangers, and hated the attention his looks attracted.

"Yohji, if you expect to have the night off to party, you better help Aya finish wiping down the tables instead of staring at him."

Teddy’s annoyed voice snapped Yohji from his thoughts, and he glared at his foster brother. Teddy just brushed off the dirty look and motioned towards the rag. "You know the deal, you two aren’t done for the day until you clean up from breakfast."

"Yeah, I was there when Jo handed out the work assignments," Yohji snapped testily at the pest. "We’ll be done in about five more minutes." Teddy was probably just upset that Aya and he had the night off. Yohji knew that the Koneko staff had decided to let the two of them have some time off on all of the holidays this year, since Aya hadn’t celebrated any in over a decade, and some holidays never at all. "I don’t know why you’re still upset about working tonight. It’s not like you’d have much of a chance to celebrate, considering the fact that Koyu has to work."

Teddy grimaced and stuck his tongue out at Yohji. "Thanks for rubbing it in, bro. What was I thinking, to fall in love with a Harper?"

That reminded Yohji of something else that was bothering him. The other day Aya had told him that his plans for Kisei’s Night were to stay in his room and read. That was unacceptable. Aya should be outside with Yohji, enjoying the bonfire, the food and alcohol, and maybe even a tumble in the lavender patch, to keep with the spirit of the night. He just had to figure out a way to convince Aya of that without the loss of valued body parts….

He reached down and picked up the rag. Pointedly ignoring Teddy, he finished wiping the tables. While he did that, Aya and Teddy set up the clean tables, preparing them for the lunch crowd, and as they were finishing up, Cassandra all but bounced into the room, a smile on her face and her arms full of garment bags.

"Yotan, Teddy," she called out to them. "Come help me with these bags. You too, Aya."

The three of them hurried over to her, and as Aya approached him, Yohji slid his arm around his lover’s waist. Maybe it was because of the celebration later tonight, but he was more ‘eager’ than usual this time of year, and now that he’d found his mate, he was especially ravenous. Aya, when he wasn’t starting arguments with him or ignoring him for the damn shinigami, seemed more than willing to help sate his increased appetite. Right now, Aya gave Yohji a brief look that promised a fun time for them later and squeezed his hand. Feeling much better now that he was touching Aya, Yohji sighed contentedly and looked at Cassandra.

"What did you bring us, gorgeous?" he asked his old friend.

Cassandra smiled warmly at him and reached for one of the bags now lying down on a clean table. "I thought to come claim my spot early for tonight, and to bring you gifts. I made outfits for you, Mickey, Teddy, and Aya." She glanced at Aya and pushed back his hood enough so she could see his face. "I thought it best to include you with Miyuki’s boys."

"Wow, Cass, you didn’t have to make us whole outfits this year, but thanks." Teddy kissed her on the cheek before reaching for the bags. "Which’s ones mine?"

Yohji rolled his eyes at his brother’s exuberance. Ever since his mother’s death, Cassandra had honored her memory on this day of reverence for the dead by gifting the three boys Miyuki had raised. It was usually something she made by hand, but this was the first time the present was a whole outfit. "You really didn’t have to, you know," he told Cassandra kindly. "And Botan stopped by this morning to ward a prime spot for you underneath one of the maple trees. One that will be nice and private once the sun goes down." He winked at her.

Cassandra smiled, just a tiny one, and held out a bag to him. "Ah, I knew there was a reason I was celebrating with him this year. Here."

Yohji released his hold of Aya to open the bag, since his lover wasn’t doing anything but standing there. Yohji’s new outfit turned out to be a lovely, cream-coloured shirt, an emerald green jerkin that would help keep him warm during the chilly night, and rich brown trousers. The other bag Cassandra handed him contained Aya’s outfit, a silvery grey shirt and dark grey jerkin with matching pants, both which were shot through with random threads of silver. "Thanks, Cass, they’re beautiful." Yohji tugged on one of Aya’s eartails as he set the garments down.

"Thanks," Aya mumbled as he hugged his arms around his chest.

"You should go try them on, Aya. They should fit, but you’ve put on a little more weight since I last made you clothes, and I want to be sure I judged correctly." Cassandra tilted her head to the side and gave Aya an appraising gaze. Yohji tamped down on a sudden flare of jealousy, telling himself that Cass wasn’t after his mate but just checking to see if she’d guessed correctly. Now that Aya had put on some much needed weight, he looked even better than he had this spring. He attracted attention left and right – that had to be why Yohji felt so possessive of his mate the past couple of days.

Aya shook his head and pressed against Yohji’s side. "I’ll try them on later."

Cassandra pouted at the news. "But if they don’t fit, I won’t have time to fix them for tonight."

"I’m not wearing them tonight," Aya told her, his voice quiet and withdrawn. "I’m not taking part in the festivities. Yohji and I already visited the shrine out back, so I’m done for the day." That was the most Yohji had heard from his lover at one time this past week. He stared in amazement at Aya until it sank in that he was still planning on spending the night alone.

As Cassandra sniffed in disappointment, Yohji grabbed Aya around the waist and turned his mate to face him. "Aya, you can’t be serious about hiding in our room all damn night. Cass went through a lot of effort for your present, you can at least put the outfit on and have a drink or two later."

"I told you I don’t want to do anything tonight," Aya gritted through his teeth.

Yohji could sense the annoyance in his lover. He knew the signs well enough by now that warned the start of another fight, but Aya’s bad temper caused something to flare up inside him. All Yohji knew was that his mate was fighting him. He saw the look of challenge in Aya’s eyes and felt how Aya was shifting away from him.

Without any warning, Yohji shoved Aya against the table and pressed against him, trapping him there. He grabbed ahold of Aya’s wrists, holding them as he leaned forward. "I’m not letting you hide away." He refused to let his mate lock himself in their room and slide further away from him, deeper into depression. "You’ll be celebrating with me tonight." His voice reverberated in the nearly empty room, thick with a savage growl he hadn’t been able to suppress.

The rumbling increased as Aya coolly stared back at him, his chin lifted the slightest bit. The sight of Aya’s throat, covered with unblemished, creamy skin made Yohji’s mouth ache to suckle it. Yohji eagerly pressed forward even more, sliding Aya’s hands behind his back so he could grip them in one hand. With his free hand he grabbed Aya’s chin and tried to force it up higher. Shadows started to writhe around them, stroking along both their bodies.

Aya resisted him for several long seconds, as Yohji felt the anger and madness inside him continue to build. Just as he started to growl, Aya finally tilted his chin up, fully exposing his lovely throat. Yohji immediately bent his head to suck on the offered column, hard enough to leave a mark, and released Aya’s hands when he felt his lover shudder against him.

As soon as Aya’s hands were free they buried in Yohji’s hair and jerked his head upward. "Yes," Aya growled, his voice sibilant and his eyes a worrying mixture of silver and purple. Yohji’s odd mood drained from him, leaving him confused. Before he knew it, he was being thoroughly kissed. Aya’s hands felt like they were everywhere, stroking and touching him along with the shadows. Aya’s mouth was hungry and demanding, as if he was a starving flesh gaki.

Yohji’s hunger took over. He pressed impatiently his mate against him, losing a battle he hadn’t even realized he’d been waging as he gave in to the need to possess Aya.

The only thought in Yohji’s head was to get Aya somewhere private so he could sate his hunger, proving once again that Aya was his. Yohji hungered to sink into his mate’s luscious body, or to take Aya deep inside himself, it didn’t matter which, as long as something happened.

"Yohji, can’t you keep it in your pants until tonight?"

Pulling away from Aya, Yohji glared at an amused Teddy and snarled viciously. "Shut up. We’re going to the off- ohhh…." His snarl turned into a purr when Aya’s hot mouth attached to his neck and started nibbling. "Oh gods, Aya. Office. Now." He started to tug his lover to the nearest empty room, Teddy and Cassandra all forgotten, at least until someone tapped his shoulder.

"Yohji, go to your room." He glared at Cassandra, but she levelly met his gaze and pointed upstairs. "Go now. You won’t be disturbed there."

Aya chose that moment to snake his hand down the front of Yohji’s pants. Taking a ragged breath, Yohji reluctantly pulled Aya’s hand away from him and headed for the bedroom as quickly as he could. It might take them longer to get there, but at least he wouldn’t have to worry about anyone disturbing them once he locked the bedroom door.

*******

Yohji moaned in pleasure as Aya began to suck enthusiastically on his collarbone, and with a great act of will, forced himself to sit upright, dislodging his lover. "Cat… you’re supposed to be like this *after* the sun goes down on Kisei’s Night. Save something for later."

"We’ve never had to worry about that," Aya purred as he sat up and slung his arms around Yohji’s shoulders. "Sunset’s not for another half hour." He leaned forward, his eyes drifting shut as his lips neared Yohji’s.

Burying his hands in Aya’s silky hair, Yohji reluctantly stopped his mate short of his goal. "Aya… what’s gotten into you today? First you ignore me for most of the morning, and now you can’t keep your hands to yourself." He smiled to show that he really didn’t mind the last bit in the least. "You’re not… feeling depressed again, are you?"

He wasn’t picking that up from Aya, but something wasn’t right. There was a coldness he could feel through their link that he normally associated with Aya being lost in depression or his shinigami nature. He wondered if his mate was trying to hold back either of those with passion.

Aya pulled back the slightest bit and gazed at Yohji. Yohji grew worried when he realized that Aya’s eyes were once again the unusual mixture of silver and purple, one color gaining prominence for a moment before fading beneath the other, only to quickly return. "It’s this day, Yotan," Aya told him, a faint hiss to his voice.

"Hmmm? What are you talking about?" Yohji pulled Aya onto his lap as he settled back against the headboard. It was hard not letting him be distracted by the feel of Aya, gloriously naked, pressing his smooth, taut body against his. "Are you upset by thinking about your family?" He’d sensed Aya’s pain as he’d made his offerings at the shrine in the garden this morning, where tokens for his parents and sister now resided.

Sighing, Aya shook his head. "Kisei’s Night." As Yohji tried to figure out what he meant, Aya tilted his head to the side. Yohji swore he could faintly hear sibilant hisses, and Aya answered them a minute later. "Twenty-eight more minutes to sunset," Aya told him, his eyes more silver than purple now. "Less than a half hour before the barriers weaken even more. It’s the night of the dead, Yohji. It always affects me."

Shit. Aya was a shinigami incarnate. Kisei’s Night was a celebration of the goddess of death and all the souls in her care. Souls that shinigami ushered to her, from what Aya told him. Yohji hadn’t thought about the true meaning of tonight, having been caught up in familiar activities and rituals.

Honoring the dead during the day, giving and receiving presents in their honor, and preparing for the festivities were what Yohji associated with this day. Drinking and laughing around the bonfire, celebrating life, helped pushed back the thought that one day, someone would be remembering him on this night. Finding a lover to lure to a secluded patch and offer their passion to Kisei and her consort Jouyoku reaffirmed their existence. In the old days, a chance at begetting a child for a deceased soul to be reborn was another reason to celebrate.

After all that had happened this year, Yohji should have known to look at the myth behind the festive trappings, and to understand that it could affect his mate.

"What happens today?" he asked Aya, hugging him close and stroking a hand along velvet smooth skin. He was suddenly afraid that Aya would lose the little bit of humanity that his emotions gave him and become pure shinigami once again.

Aya rubbed his cheek against Yohji’s shoulder, the one that bore several imprints of teeth. "I don’t know," he breathed quietly. "In the past, I stayed in my rooms, amidst the shadows. I thought I heard voices whispering to me, and I couldn’t stand to be around humans. Now… now I know who’s talking to me. I can hear them clearly now. I can feel the souls struggling to return, to walk amongst their loved ones once more." Aya shivered, as if cold, and pressed against Yohji. "I can feel their sadness and longing as the barriers weaken. Once the sun goes down, the walls between this world and the next will be almost non-existent, until sunrise." His eyes were almost completely silver now. "It’s not just the dead that will be visiting. The bonfires keep the gaki and oni at bay. Demons will be roaming the night, made stronger by all this magic. The shinigami want me to go hunting with them."

Yohji leaned forward and pressed his lips against Aya’s. "You’re not going with them, you’ve a date with me." He kissed Aya passionately, spurred on by fear and jealousy, his mood from earlier returning. Aya was his mate. *His*. Aya stayed by Yohji’s side, where he belonged.

They kissed for several minutes, Aya unusually docile in his arms. When they broke apart, Yohji’s lover opened eyes that were deep violet with swirls of silver. "Come on, we need to get ready." Aya grumbled irritably, but allowed himself to be ushered off the bed and towards the washbasin. As Yohji soaked a towel to wash himself off with, he glared at the shadows. He wasn’t giving Aya up, even if just for one night a year.

*******

 

Yohji took a sip of his wine and glanced curiously around the Koneko’s garden. People were gathering around the bonfire, except for those scattered about in pairs, cuddled together on blankets. He spotted Cassandra and Botan together, sharing a bottle of wine and laughing. He smiled at how happy his friends were. Somewhere amongst the plants and trees were Mickey and Kira, but he couldn’t find them. Guess they’d picked themselves a nice hidey-hole. He’d be willing to bet a month of waiting tables that Jo and Ichiro were snuggled together in the barn, and that they wouldn’t be alone for much longer. No, once the dancing got under way, people would be creeping off in search of somewhere remotely private. It was a good thing that Aya warded their special spot in the lavender patch.

Teddy, Touya and Ani, along with the Koneko’s two newest employees, Emmie and Maddox, were busy serving wine, mead, mulled cider, and baked apples to the revelers. Koyu already had his harp out and was tuning it. People gathered around him, anticipating the dancing to come.

Many of Yohji’s former coworkers were amongst the crowd, the majority of them off-duty and looking to enjoy themselves. Of course Yuushi, Naru and Reiichi were ‘on duty’, even if they weren’t in their uniforms, busy keeping an eye on Aya and him. Yohji could also sense all the bounds who were participating in the Koneko’s party, and several of them made a point to lift their mugs to Aya and him during the evening. The Koneko had become a popular gathering place for the capital’s bounds, and any passing through the city. They knew they were safe here, and many of them had business with the growing Shadow Guard.

People were making it a point to talk to Yohji, to share a toast or a memory of a lost soul, or just to chat. Normally he enjoyed being social, but tonight… the attention scraped his nerves raw. He didn’t like people being near him, or near *his mate*. As the night grew longer, he was filled with a nervous energy and jealousy that had him hiding his growls behind his mug. He could feel the flare of succubae-bound power scattered about the garden, but as long as his kind stayed away from Aya, he didn’t care about them feeding on someone else.

Beside him, Aya rubbed his cheek along Yohji’s shoulder and offered to share his cup of mulled cider. Yohji’s cat had been quiet all evening long, not even chatting with Reiichi for very long. Yohji felt a little better, now that he knew the reason why Aya was being so anti-social once again. He’d be much happier tomorrow, when his lover should be back to normal. That meant Aya would be talking twice as much as he had tonight, which still wasn’t much. Unless he was yelling at Yohji for something, then he could be as talkative as hell.

Smiling at that thought, Yohji accepted the mug, sipping the spicy drink. After a few swallows he leaned forward to kiss Aya, letting the mulled cider slip past his lips and into Aya’s mouth. He thought that Aya tasted better than anything he’d drank that night. The kiss continued long after the drink was gone, until they heard Koyu play a few notes on his harp.

"Come on, I want a dance from you," Yohji told Aya as he rose to his feet. Aya glared at him from behind his bangs, his eyes glowing silver in the dancing firelight, but Yohji felt that the look was mostly show. "Just a dance or two, and then we can go off somewhere private." There was a spark of lust from Aya after that comment, one that made Yohji feel ravenous and almost forget about the dancing.

He led his lover to an open space by the bonfire. After listening to the song for a moment, he pulled Aya close to him. "This is one of the simpler bonfire dances. It’s like the two hand reel, only with more spinning. Follow my lead."

Aya rested his hand on Yohji’s shoulder, annoyance flitting through their link. "Why do you always get to lead?" he grumbled.

"Because you don’t know any of these dances," Yohji replied smugly, tugging on an eartail. As Aya scowled at him, he kissed his lover on the nose and started moving. "If you danced with me more often, you would learn them and be able to lead." Aya’s answer was a low growl, and then they were too busy dancing to start another fight.

This was Yohji’s second favorite part of Kisei’s Night. Whirling around a huge bonfire with someone in his arms, dancing and laughing the night away. Aya picked up the dance immediately, so they moved closer to the fire. The ring of dancers here spun around the flames quicker than the outside line.

The next dance was even faster and more complex, a waltz that had him whirling Aya in his arms until they both were dizzy. As the moons rose in the sky and music and laughter filled the air, the feel of magic became heady enough to make Yohji feel drunk. Desire and love coursed through him at the sight of a slightly smiling Aya glowing in the darkness and flickering flames, at each brush of his mate’s luscious body against his.

They came to a part in the dance where the man usually picked up his female partner and lifted her above his head. Yohji’s hands settled on Aya’s waist, and he almost raised him into the air before remembering not to show off his bound strength like that. Instead, he crushed Aya against him, feeling Aya’s heaving chest against his. They both were hard, and Yohji moaned as their arousals pressed together. Suddenly, dancing didn’t matter. He wanted to move on to his favorite part of the night’s celebration. "Come on," he breathed against Aya’s panting mouth before hurrying from the bonfire.

They ran to their lavender patch, passing several couples who had shown less restraint. As soon as they passed the wards, they started to tug at each other’s clothes. Sinking to the ground, Yohji tore off Aya’s jerkin and shirt, tossing them aside impatiently before pulling him close for a kiss.

The feel of Aya’s mouth against his, soft and hot and spicy from the drink, had Yohji losing his tenuous control over his demon nature. His need to claim his mate overwhelmed him, his hunger burned hotter than the bonfire. Within seconds they were naked and stretched out on the thick grass, Aya beneath him and purring loudly. Yohji’s hands roamed over his lover’s sleek body, seeking out erogenous spots that had Aya writhing in pleasure. Sunlight poured into him, a fiery torrent that burned through his veins, filling him with ecstasy.

His hunger was so overpowering that he could do little more than rut with Aya. As soon as his lover was ready, Yohji thrust deeply inside him, sheathing himself completely and making Aya cry out his name. Sitting up onto his knees, Yohji pulled Aya with him, settling his lover onto his lap. Aya took control of the thrusts, riding Yohji with a frenzied intensity, quickly rising up and falling back down, taking Yohji in to the hilt and clenching around him until Yohji wanted to shout out his pleasure.

He fastened his mouth to Aya’s neck, lapping at salty skin before sinking his teeth into pale flesh, until they started to break through. Aya cried out his name again, his nails digging into Yohji’s shoulders as he increased his pace. Yohji’s body felt as if it was dissolving from the molten energy that was pouring into him. He’d never felt it this powerful before, and had only needed Aya this desperately one other time. As the sunlight became impossibly stronger when he started to stroke Aya’s cock, he lost himself in the pleasure. It kept building until his whole being shattered, broken under the crashing wave of Aya’s orgasm, which washed through their link.

Yohji came back to himself heaving, lying on the grass with Aya curled up on his chest. His body thrummed with sunlight and tingled with bliss, his hunger barely sated. Taking a deep breath, he ran a hand down Aya’s back, planning on giving back some of the energy he’d taken during the sex, only to find his mate lifting up enough so he could look down at him. Aya didn’t appear to be drained in the slightest. His pale skin glowed in the darkness, his eyes more silver than purple and half hidden behind a wild tangle of bangs. Desire and love radiated from him, making Yohji groan and pull him back down for a searing kiss.

Even after coming as hard as he’d just done, Yohji felt more than ready for another go. He *needed* Aya so much, needed the sunlight to keep pouring into him, to feed and prove to the world that Aya was his mate. Hunger and possession filled him, drove him to hug Aya tightly and rock against him. His mate quickly grew hard, the passion returning even more potent than before.

This time it was Yohji’s turn to offer his throat and be taken. The feel of Aya’s teeth sinking into his neck almost made him come. It wasn’t long after that, his ass being pounded into the grass, shadows stroking every inch of his sensitive skin while Aya called out his name that he did come, dragging Aya with him. He was so full of energy his glowing skin felt about to burst from it, but the passion and hunger remained, spurring them on.

*******

Yohji sighed as he sank down on the bench at the kitchen’s table, his body utterly relaxed after a long soak in the hot spring. Aya sat beside him, resting his chin on Yohji’s shoulder as he held out his slim hand expectantly. Yohji grabbed it and placed a kiss on the palm before releasing it and placing a cup of tea in it. Aya purred and kissed him tenderly on the neck before sipping his tea.

Yohji noted happily that Aya’s eyes were their usual lovely shade of violet, and that the sense of distance between them was gone. Even better, Aya was nowhere near as drained as a night of intense sex should have left him.

They’d barely had time to sip their drinks when Jo and Cassandra, both bearing plates of food, joined them at the table. Setting the plate in her hands down in front of Yohji, Jo folded her arms over her chest and glared at him, her eyes surrounded by dark circles. "You. How many times are you going to pull that stunt, hmmm?" Her voice sounded more weary and amused than hostile, despite the dirty look.

Cassandra started to laugh, probably at the stupid expression on his face. "What are you talking about, Jo? What did I do now?"

Sitting down opposite of him, Cassandra handed some food to Aya and smiled kindly. "Jo’s complaining about you unleashing your power again last night." She hummed in happiness for a couple of seconds before looking at Jo. "I tried to explain it to her already, that bounds… are always more potent on certain nights of the year, such as Kisei’s Night. Though not even I was sure you were powerful enough to influence that many people." Cassandra smiled contentedly as she poured herself more coffee. "Not that I’m complaining about what happened."

"You said he might affect the people near him, Cass, not the whole damn inn," Jo snorted. Then she unfolded her arms and motioned at the full plates of food. "Eat. I won’t have the two of you losing any weight now that I finally fattened you up a bit."

"Thanks." Yohji took a bite of his eggs before talking again. "So you’re saying last night was like the time Aya and I became mates?" The two women nodded in unison, and Aya stole some of his bacon. He tugged on an eartail in payback. "I didn’t know that could happen. Why the hell didn’t you say something to me, Cass?"

Cassandra actually blushed as she set her mug on the table. "Well… I wasn’t entirely sure how much you’d be affected, and after seeing you and Aya yesterday, I just assumed you’d spend the night up in your room." She shrugged her shoulders and smiled apologetically. "Besides, no harm was done. Everyone thinks it was just Kisei and her consort showing their approval of the celebration."

"That and bestowing their blessings on the king and his new bride. People are already betting that there will be a royal announcement about an impending birth soon." Jo chuckled for a few seconds before turning serious again. "Ah, it was a good thing that poor Omi had to celebrate with his family last night. I’m glad he wasn’t here, without Naoe."

"I’m sure he had some very nice dreams last night," Aya replied quietly. "So it’s not just me who’s affected on Kisei’s Night?"

"No. Any night as full of magic as last night will affect bounds, but probably not as much as you." Cassandra laughed again, her voice ringing through the kitchen. "Just you wait til Jouyoku’s Night, Yotan. That’ll be your turn, then."

Jo groaned and rubbed her eyes. "Sweet gods, don’t tell me it’ll happen again. I’ll have to stock up on the sheets for that." She chuckled as she winked at Yohji. "Unless I can talk you into taking Aya somewhere private to celebrate, before the Koneko’s declared a fertility temple."

Feeling slightly put upon, Yohji scowled at the women as he finished his breakfast. Beside him, he felt Aya’s amusement, a warm wash of emotion that had him snaking his arm around his mate’s waist and hugging him. "What do you say, cat? In the mood for a private party come spring?" He leered at Aya, his heart growing light at the sight of the heartfelt smile he received in return.

Aya appeared to think about the offer for a moment, and then his smile grew wider. "I think we’d have to sneak away if Teddy makes the connection between the holidays and your power acting up. However, I’d appreciate a nice soft bed instead of ground any day," he purred.

"Hey, who was the one on the ground most of the night?" Yohji teased. "I think I can find us somewhere nice and comfy, though how Birman will arrange our babysitters will be a problem." For her, at least. Whichever pair of Shadow Guards the Spymaster sent to make sure that Aya and Yohji remained safe had better be very good friends. Smiling at that thought, he eagerly pulled Aya to him for a kiss. They didn’t have to work until later that evening, so he was thinking that a day curled up in bed, making up for their lost night of sleep and just enjoying being near each other, would be perfect.

They continued to kiss, reveling in the taste and closeness of each other, even after Teddy showed up and started to count out loud. Soon after that, Naru arrived and immediately protested about having to spend his day of guard duty waiting for the two of them to leave their bedroom.

As Yohji led Aya away from the table and up to their bedroom instead of beating the pests, he reflected on how he’d never been a very religious person. He hadn’t paid too much attention to religious holidays, other than to have an excuse to party. He’d have to see if any of Aya’s books that were taking over their room contained information on the days, after he got some snuggling in. There was something to be said for being pious, if it led to more nights like last night.

*******

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