Yohji almost nudged Aya’s left side with his elbow before he was belatedly aware that his mate had already noticed that their target was on the move. More than likely, Aya had cast some shadow wards around the crowded trinket stall where Marco had spent the last twenty minutes, only leaving the stall to slink away with a couple of chatting merchants. The man had hoped to blend with the crowd – and might have had some chance of doing that if it were humans or weaker bounds who were following him.
Birman had been after Marco for over two years now, yet even her best people weren’t a match for the Esset agent. That was true even with the soul gaki and succubae bounds now in her employ; Marco was a powerful enough soul gaki bound that he always seemed to sense the other spies’ thoughts. Well, too bad that no one, not even Schuldig, could read Yohji and Aya’s minds unless they wanted him to, Yohji thought with a good deal of smugness. Nope, neither could the powerful bound smell, see or hear them as long as Aya kept up the cloak of shadows.
They’d been trailing the older bound for most of the day now, waiting for Marco to leave the Southern Fabric district’s very busy market so they could take him into custody. If it weren’t for the fact that Aya’s shadows protected him from the weak sunlight and that Aya would beat Yohji’s ribs black and blue for being too overprotective, Yohji would have approached the spy and used his ‘compulsion’ to make the bound follow him someplace more ‘private’ just to put an end to this mission. As it was, they’d spent all this time following Marco.
They’d made a note of everywhere he’d gone in case he’d exchanged information at the many stops, but Yohji personally thought that the sly bastard was just trying to lose anyone who was after him. At least Marco was moving away from the ‘proper’ places of the market, getting closer to where the Fabric district met up with the Leather district. The shops and stalls here didn’t openly display their wares, and the people walking about tended to wear the hoods to their jerkins and cloaks pulled forward to cover their faces. In a way, Yohji wasn’t too surprised to see Marco end up in this area, not when it was one of the few places where a spy could be assured that almost no one was paying him any attention.
Yohji allowed himself to think about the last time he’d been here – well over a year ago – and trailed after his mate. The little he could see of Aya’s pale face, his mate was intent on catching Marco. Red strands of hair fluttered against dark grey, making Yohji’s right hand reach out to tuck the errant eartail back before he realized that he was allowing himself to be distracted. Since he did a better job trailing a target when he was a bit ‘hungry’, he hadn’t ‘eaten’ yet today. That was another reason why he wanted to get Marco and turn the spy over to Birman, then drag Aya back to the Koneko as quickly as possible. Gods, but he hated it when he couldn’t feed from his lover whenever he wanted. Well, whenever he and Aya wanted….
He was so lost in his thoughts that it didn’t even register what store they were walking into, just that they’d crossed a ward of sorts once through the door. Shivering from the feel of walking into cold cobwebs, he glanced around the candle-lit room to see a curtain swish closed, as if someone had just hurried through it. The young woman busy dusting some shelves never noticed him or Aya following what he assumed to be Marco, and Yohji quickly tapped onto his left gauntlet to warn Ken and Miko about her. They shouldn’t have any trouble crossing the shop’s wards, but Ken wouldn’t want to risk revealing his true nature to her. Just in case, Yohji also tapped a command for Eri and Naru to join them at the store; the two Guards had rings made from Aya’s tears and blood as well, and Eri should be able to take care of the woman.
There was the faint sound of hissing, which shook Yohji from his thoughts as he scanned the new room for moving ‘shadows’. Certain that they were urging Aya to do something bad, he stepped closer to his lover and slid an arm around Aya’s chest. Aya hissed softly, either to him or the shinigami, but the only moving shadows were the ones that wrapped around Marco before he could escape through a small door on the room’s far wall. The spy’s dark brown eyes went wide as he was caged by darkness, yet was unable to scream since one of the shadowy tendrils slithered across his mouth; Yohji was finding himself increasingly amused by the shocked expressions of the people Aya captured in this manner.
Tapping his mate on the shoulder, Yohji waited until Aya removed the shadow ‘cloak’ around them. Marco’s eyes went even wider when they were revealed, and Yohji knew it was a very good thing that Birman would never allow the spy to report back to Esset since he clearly realized what Aya was. The bound stared intently at Aya for several seconds before passing out.
"Well, that was a bit anti-climatic," Yohji complained as he watched the spy slump to the floor, still wrapped in Aya’s shadows. "I doubt we’ll be able to wheedle any hazard pay out of Birman now." He approached Marco and toed the bound in the side, even though he didn’t sense any emotion from him. Once he was certain that this wasn’t any trick, he turned around to see what Aya was doing.
That was when he finally realized what type of shop they had entered. "Oh hell," he whispered when he found Aya holding a leather flogger about three feet long between two fingers and staring at it as if it was something vile.
"He came here to buy things to use for torture?" Aya asked, the scowl on his face one of the fiercest that Yohji had ever seen. After directing it at the flogger for few more seconds, he glanced around the room, the walls of which were adorned with similar items.
"Ah, not exactly." Yohji had to wonder which god had decided it was his and Aya’s turn to provide some amusement, and had to be thankful that Ken and Miko were busy dealing with the girl out in the front room.
Aya’s brow furrowed as he dropped the flogger and motioned to the wall of whips. "Don’t tell me these are being sold for ‘artistic’ reasons," he sneered, yet over their link Yohji could feel how furious and disgusted his lover truly was. That made what he had to say even worse, since he was certain that Aya wouldn’t understand.
He took a deep breath and approached Aya, his hands reaching out to run soothingly up and down his disturbed mate’s arms. "Not exactly." Now that some of that anger was directed toward him, he did his best to explain. "Some people… find these things… pleasurable."
The blast of disbelief, pain and disgust that he felt just then was worse than walking through a thousand wards at the same time. He shivered for a moment before yanking Aya forward for a hug, his hands hovering just above Aya’s back before wrapping tightly around his lover’s shoulders. "Cat… some people like a bit of pain as part of their sex." He almost made a comment about the way bounds bit and scratched each other before deciding against it; the last thing he wanted was for Aya to be repulsed by something that they normally enjoyed.
Aya struggled against him for a minute, hissing like an enraged cat and even
scratching like one before suddenly stopping. "That’s…."
"They don’t know, well, otherwise," Yohji tried to explain. Most likely, the store’s customers had never been chained against their will and whipped until their back was nothing but bone and gore, like Aya had. But that was something else he didn’t want to say out loud, not when his lover had moved so far from the horrors of his past. Trust Birman to give them a mission that would bring it back to the fore, Yohji thought with true bitterness, even if part of him knew that it hadn’t been done deliberately.
He continued to hold his mate until Aya’s heart stopped racing and emotions calmed. Brushing his lips against Aya’s forehead, he waited for his lover to look at him so he could give him a proper kiss. The gentle contact seemed to put Aya at peace, and by the time that Ken peeked into the room, the shadows had even stopped writhing in agitation.
"Uhm, you guys have been pretty quiet in here." Ken waited another second before walking through the curtained door to join them. "Don’t tell me that the target’s dead and you want me to break the news to Birman."
"Ha, ha. As if we’d still be here if that was the case." Yohji kissed Aya’s forehead again before letting his lover go with great reluctance. "The bastard’s still alive. What about the girl up front? You have a snack or what?" Now that he wasn’t so focused on Aya, he could sense the girl’s panic.
Ken shrugged as he went to pick up Marco. "Miko’s got her under control, and Eri should be here any minute. We’ll take her back with us since I could smell the target all over her." The way he licked his lips appeared to be done unconsciously, which Yohji was very appreciative of since his friend looked as if anticipating a juicy steak or something.
Since Aya had fed just the other day, there were chances that Ken and Ogden might enjoy a nice meal once Birman, Eri and Kathleen were finished with Marco and the girl. Any squeamishness that Yohji might have had in the past over such a thought was easily suppressed by the fact that the women would make sure neither the girl or the target were in any way innocent before passing on a death sentence, and that it would ensure that Esset didn’t learn that Aya was still alive. No, he’d become downright bloodthirsty in regards to his mate’s safety, as well as much more of a bound when it came to his way of thinking.
"Well, then we’re heading home." Yohji nudged Aya in the back to
get him to move toward the door. "What you can tell Birman is that Aya and
Botan will work some more on those cloaking charms so we’re not wasting our
time with grunt work."
"Hey! So I can waste my time?" Ken shot back, the picture of annoyance even when his emotions were bubbling with anticipation and amusement. He’d become comfortable enough with his demon soul now that he actually enjoyed hunting down targets now, and as soon as Botan figured out how to include Aya’s ‘invisibility’ along with the invulnerability to magic that the shadow rings provided, Ken could track down targets to his heart’s content. Yohji just thought that Botan was going to have to break down and ask Omi for some help soon, since the kid had proven talented as hell at creating new spells.
"Of course, Ken-ken!" Yohji laughed in response, forcing the sound past his lips when he noticed a tray of dildos crafted out of glass. He nudged Aya again to make sure his lover didn’t see them, not about to risk setting off another round of anger, disgust and pain when he just wanted to get home.
Miko waved to them as they walked through the shop, perched on top of the counter with the young woman tied up on the floor; the predatory look on her face made Yohji wonder if the girl had tried to flirt with Ken or something. He didn’t spare her much attention beyond that, though, not after he became busy fussing with the hood of Aya’s grey cloak. When his mate failed to hiss, snap his teeth or glare at Yohji, he knew that things weren’t too good right now.
Since the shadows kept Aya mostly out of the day’s remaining sunlight, Yohji didn’t complain when they were cloaked by it once again. That way he could remain close to his lover, left arm draped firmly over Aya’s shoulders, and do his best to send love and reassurance over their link.
Aya only suffered from nightmares maybe once a week now, and he actually let all of the Koneko’s staff touch him. He’d even smiled at Maddox for no reason the other day, which had left the poor kid in a daze all day long. If it wasn’t for the fact that Yohji knew that Aya had no romantic interest in Maddox, he’d have been jealous as hell, but he’d actually been happy by his mate’s behavior. Then this damn mission had to come along and make Aya upset.
He tried several times to start a conversation on the way back to the inn, but Aya wouldn’t say anything in response. Becoming more worried with each passing minute, he didn’t say anything to Jo when she greeted them, instead following Aya through the kitchen and up to their bedroom.
"Cat… I know you can talk." He closed the door behind them and leaned against it, deciding to give Aya a little space for now. "You can actually manage it once or twice a day – maybe more if you’re calling me an ‘idiot’."
Flinging his coat across the desk’s chair, Aya whirled around, eartails slashing through the air before settling against his dark blue tunic. "You weren’t surprised by what we found in that store, were you?" The words came out as an accusation, and some of the anger he felt was directed at Yohji.
"I didn’t realize where we were at first… but yeah." Yohji felt a bit nervous about the direction the conversation was taking, his hands alternating curling and flattening against the door.
Aya’s shining eyes narrowed, his pain and disgust flaring for a moment. "So you’ve been to places like that before?" he snapped, voice thick with accusation and revulsion. "You have no problem with that type of store?"
Reacting to the emotions and not the venom of Aya’s words, Yohji pushed away from the wall to slowly rest his hands on Aya’s shoulders. "Aya… yes." He knew better than to lie, not when Aya could sense it and smell it from him. "I was never there for the whips and such, but shops like that can sell some… interesting toys." He winced as soon as he said the words.
"Toys?" Aya hissed and moved as off to throw off Yohji’s hands, then stopped and shook his head instead. "There’s nothing ‘fun’ about those things."
"Those things aren’t really meant to hurt." Yohji took a deep breath and wondered how the hell he was supposed to explain this. "They’re not meant to inflict any lasting harm, and sometimes they can make the pleasure more intense."
Aya looked and felt very dubious about that. "You’ve used things like that before?"
"Yes. Well, not the flogger, but…" For the first time in years, Yohji felt his cheeks become flushed. "I’ve tried a few of them." He’d had an adventurous boyfriend or girlfriend over the years, and had always been willing to experiment if it meant that it felt good for him or one of his partners. He hadn’t known it at the time, but it had been all about feeding his hunger.
This time Aya did move away. "What did you do with them?" There was a tightness to his voice, an upset that was also betrayed by the way the shadows flickered around the room as if a breeze danced with the candles’ flames. "Those… *toys*."
This time Yohji didn’t hesitate. "I got rid of them." Not long after he’d become lovers with Aya, he’d put all the ‘toys’ in a box. When Aya had been abed with the injuries that the fucking bastard Hirofumi had inflicted upon him, Yohji had taken the time to throw that box out, no longer interested in introducing them to his mate one day. No, back then he’d realized that Aya wouldn’t appreciate anything like that.
Aya still looked very dubious, but he let Yohji touch him again. "I don’t understand this," he admitted, still glaring to hide his discomfort.
"I know, Cat." Yohji once again pulled him into a hug, though this time he smoothed his hand up and down Aya’s back. He waited until he felt his mate rest against him to move his hands farther down, rubbing twice before giving Aya’s ass a quick smack.
When Aya pulled away to glare and hiss at him, Yohji gave his ass a rub. "It’s stuff like that. Couple of smacks, just hard enough to sting, and then everything after that feels more intense. Or there are things that you can put in a lover, get them ready for sex or watch them while they, er, fuck themselves." To think that he’d thought that explaining sex to Omi was bad.
The room had grown very quiet, Aya staring at him as if he was mad and his heart thumping against his ribs. He could only look back at his mate and do his best to make sense of the emotions that rushed all roiled over the link.
Then Aya shook his head again and leaned once more against Yohji’s chest. "Humans." There was so much contempt in his voice that a laugh was startled from Yohji.
"Something like that." Yohji was willing to bet that Jei might have something to say about a bit of pain during sex, but then again, Jei wasn’t exactly a good example. No, he’d just stay quiet and hope that Aya considered him too much of a bound now to be grouped with ‘humans’ any longer.
Silence reigned again, and then he noticed a very faint purring sound right before Aya began to nibble on his chin. "Cat?" Not that he really was complaining, not when he no longer felt that disgust or anger, but lust and amusement instead.
"No toys, Yotan. We don’t need things like that," Aya purred, his eyes silver and his lips curved with the slightest of smiles.
Chuckling at that statement, Yohji brushed back the bangs falling into those unusual eyes and leaned in to rub their noses together. "No, nothing but pleasure for us. That is, when you’re not clawing my back raw." He laughed when his chin was nipped again and gave one of the eartails a tug in return.
"Hmph, says the man who bites my neck bloody." The slight shiver that ran through Aya just then was one of pleasure, however, so Yohji knew that his mate really didn’t mind having his neck chewed on.
"And neither one of us is likely to stop, na?" Yohji began purring himself, quite happy about the way they both proved their possessiveness of each other.
"Don’t be an idiot," Aya hissed, pausing in his nibbling long enough to give Yohji a warning scowl. Ignoring it with long-practiced ease, Yohji titled his lover’s chin up to give him a kiss passionate enough to inspire some back scratching.
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