SILVER ROSE

[Working Title]

PAIRING: Yohji x Ran

RATING/WARNING: Shounen ai. Nothing heavy.

GENRES: Drama/Humor/Romance.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Weib Kreuz, they are the property of Takehito Koyasu and Project Weib as far as I know. They don't belong to me anyway. Please don't sue, I just wanted to borrow them for a little while…

ADD. NOTES: Alternate Universe. I'm trying to make Ran something between Ran and Aya, cold, but not quite as jaded as in the series. He still hasn't become as hard as he is there. Yohji is the same, a little bit of the playboy he will become, but not quite yet.

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    A joke. A sick, cruel, joke. That was what it had to be.

    A rose in his locker. Someone had put a fucking rose in his locker.

    Ran scowled at the offending flower as it leaned on his mathbook in all its innocent splendor, the pure malice in his glare enough to make anyone wilter. Apparently, this was an especially sturdy thing as it held on to its life with a persistance that would make anyone green. But it wasn't green. It had been white and now it was sprayed - yes, sprayed! - in silver. How utterly stupid, and annoying to have that… that… thing! in his locker!

    It must be a mistake. No one would give him a rose on Valentine's Day because Ran Fujimiya was the 'Ice Prince'. No one would dare.

    But someone had.

    Who?

    And why?

    He stared at it for a moment longer before reaching out for it, his hand traveling slowly towards its target. He didn't really want to touch it - someone could see and start wondering, for one thing - but it would be the only way to get it out of his locker. Besides, there might be a note saying who had left it there so that he could return it to them.

    He grabbed the stem rather harshly before he noticed that the thorns were still there.

    "Fuck!" He snarled silently as he sucked on his fingers where they had been pierced. Blood in his mouth, and blood on his hands as soon as he knew who had left it there. And who the hell was stupid enough to leave the thorns?

    Growling, he picked it up with his other hand gingerly, mindful of the sharp little buggers this time. A slip of paper was indeed attached to the stem and he fingered it for a moment. They were really going for it, he could almost hear the whispers around him if he opened it. But there would only be one way to find it out. Sighing, he opened the small slip of paper and blinked once. Twice. A mistake. It had to be a fucking mistake!

 

   Hope you like it. Don't throw it away, return it instead. I'll be waiting at the Ferris Wheel tonight at 8. Be there.

 

    Ferris Wheel? What Ferris Wheel? And why should he be there? He scowled at the rose, wondering what he should do. He wasn't stupid, he knew that it was some kind of prank that someone was pulling on him, probably watching his every move right now. Great, Fujimiya, now you're paranoid as well!

    He threw the rose carelessly back into the Black Hole that was supposed to be his locker before he slammed it shut. Someone was going to pay for this. Someone was really going to pay…

    Still sucking on his injured finger, he frowned as he tried the situation in his head. He had absolutely no clue whatsoever who had left it there, but he knew that it had to be done during lunch or P.E. Which left about the whole school as suspects then. Even better. And what Ferris Wheel?

    He stalked down the corridor, his lanky form weaving easily through the throng of people, avoiding all physical contact with years of practice. What Ferris Wheel? For some reason, the question bugged the hell out of him. And why did they want to meet him there, of all places?

    Not that he would go. No way. It was a sick joke, and he would treat it like that. Someone wanted him to go to the date, only to be stood up and ridiculed by. Tough luck, that wasn't going to happen. He wasn't meeting anyone anywhere.

    "Aniiiiiki! Aniiiiki! Ran! Wait up!" The voice belonging to his younger sister, Aya-chan, drifted up to him and he turned around. She was almost running down the hall after him as she skidded to a halt and smiled up at him.

    "Aya-chan." He greeted her solemny and she laughed.

    "Ran, can't we go to the amusement park tonight? Please?" He shook his head first, but as her eyes took on that pleading look she knew he couldn't resist, he scowled.

    "No, Aya. I have to work tomorrow. I can't stay out late."

    "Aww, come on, Ran! You're never outside the house unless you have to work or go to school. It will be fun, I promise you! You don't have to stay for long, you can be there for just an hour or two, and then you can go home again." She tilted her head to the side, studying him with sharp eyes for a moment. He felt himself shrinking back under the scrutiny, only to stand up straighter. She was up to something, he knew it. And he also knew that she would bug the hell out of him until she got what she wanted. No use, might as well give in...

    "Do I have to?" His voice had a small pleading edge to it, one that only she would be able to detect.

    "You do! It will be fun, Ran! Fun! How long have it been since you've allowed yourself to relax?" The gaze was suddenly sharp and piercing again, a gaze that saw through the defenses he had up. She knew as well as him that he didn't have time for games and laughter, he had to work and take care of the rent and other things.

    The Fujimiya siblings had been orphaned for about a year, living together in a cheap flat in the suburb. It had two rooms and a kitchen, one for his sister and the living room where he slept on the couch and they spent the most of the time. Their parents had left them some money, but Ran prefered to work for a living to save them for Aya’s college education. Their mother had one brother alive, but it had never been an option for them to live there. He didn’t like them, the few times they had been visiting him neither of the siblings had gotten along with him. He had no children of his own, and hadn’t offered to get them a home either – not that they would have accepted. Ran didn’t want to have anything to do with him and felt that the best way to protect Aya was to live alone. What the authorities said was another matter entirely, but they had been lucky. They couldn't do anything to Ran as he was nearly nineteen and was working, and he had proved to them that he could take care of both himself and his sister as well. He had two jobs, something he loathed, but it made them able to pay the rent each month.

    Aya was virtually beaming up at him now, the smile on her face so wide that it was a miracle that it didn't split in two and he sighed.

    "All right, I'll go. But we're not staying for long - I would very much like to be able to think straight tomorrow." She didn't care about the last part as she hugged him.

    "Yay! Just don't forget it now, okay?" Aya smiled, and he nodded. He wouldn't, he had promised now.

    "I won't. I have to get to class now, but I'll see you later."

    She hurried down the corridor, probably to tell one of her girlfriends that they were going to the park tonight. She had tried to set him up with several of them, but he had resisted it so far. He didn't want a girlfriend and she knew it. She didn't know why though, and he was determined to see it stay that way. She didn't have to know, she had enough problems as it was.

    He snorted angrily and glared at some girls staring at him till they turned around, furiously whispering among themselves, but Ran was already far away. He had a class to get to, and he would.

 

*****

    The rest of the day passed in a blur and every time Ran opened his locker, he found the offending flower there, staring at him. He ignored it the best he could, determined to let it wilter over the weekend without light or nourishment. It would serve it right, for being there in the first place.

    However, he hadn't expected his sister to find it and take pity on it. She had squealed in delight over it as soon as she had laid eyes on it, and he had blushed as she had read the note. She had also got that little light in her eyes that told him she was up to something, something he probably would find rather painful. This time, it was the determination to get him to the Ferris Wheel at eight, despite his protests. She had already decided that he was going on a date and that he was going to enjoy himself, and would have planned his every move by the time they were home again. And she knew that he couldn't refuse her.

    Thus, Ran was scowling and making his way to the appointed place a few minutes before eight, clad in black with the rose in a steady - although careful - grip. Aya had followed him there, leaving him on his own to take the last steps.

    He knew that he looked good, as Aya had been the one to pick his clothes out. He was clad completely in black; black loose pants, black boots and a black turtleneck, one of his favourites. She had also helped him comb the wild bangs that were supposed to be his hair into place, the eartails for once quite docile despite the calm wind. He was tall, gangly, and he knew that some girls found his androgynous looks beautiful. He didn't.

    Amethyst eyes surveyed the large wheel where his supposed 'date' would be waiting, and he slunk into the shadows by a nearby shed to stand there and watch. If she didn't turn up, he would be the one to laugh. They probably thought him starving for attention and love, but he knew better. He wasn't, he could take care of himself and he needed no one beside his sister.

    He spotted some girls from school, but none of them seemed to be waiting for him. He glanced at his watch for a moment again. 8.04. She was late. He could leave now.

    Turning around, he collided with someone. The sharp thorns of the rose stung into his hand again as he unwillingly pressed it against the other before withdrawing, cursing.

    "Watch where you're going!" He snarled at the other one, not bothering with raising his head to look who it was.

    "I hope I'm not late?" Ran froze as he heard the voice. No way. It couldn't be. It can't!

    He raised his gaze to meet the one of Kudoh Yohji, his crush. Mouth hanging open for a moment, he tried the situation in his head, only to come up with No. Fucking. Way.

    "You? You sent the rose?" His voice croaked, and he blushed ten shades of red as he watched the older boy smile at him, white teeth flashing in the dusk. A dream, it's a fucking dream!

    "I did. You like it?" Another smile, as he reached out to touch the petals for a moment, watching Ran's reaction. He blushed even harder, cursing the pale skin that would give away every emotion so easily. Yohji's smile did nothing to help, and he forced his brain to start working again. Drawing up the usual stoic mask again, he met the green eyes straight on.

    "What's your point, Kudoh? Did you have fun as you watched me here? I know that you were going to stand me up, so what are you doing here, talking to me? And where are your lackeys?" The scorn in his voice was clear, but Yohji didn't react as he had expected him to. He looked sad for a moment, and Ran flinched inside before freezing the emotion.

    "Look…" He didn't know where to begin, and Ran didn't give him any slack as he plunged on.

    "Oh, I know! Let's tease the Ice Prince! I bet you ten bucks that he can get the flower to freeze and wilt by just looking at it!" The pure malice made Yohji sigh and rake his hand through his blonde hair.

    "Ran… I…" Ran snorted and turned around. The rose dropped to the ground as he stalked away. Yohji stood there for another moment before he picked it up and hurried after him.

    "Ran! Wait! Ran!" The redhead didn't turn around, but continued walking away, intent on finding his sister and tell her that he was going home. The annoying buzz that was Yohji's voice did nothing to sway him from his goal as he heard the other one following him. He could take it, it wasn't like Yohji meant that much to him. It was just a crush, something millions of people experienced and survived every day.

    Yohji finally caught up with him in front of the Ferris Wheel, the rose in hand. He grabbed Ran's shoulder and turned him around before he had a chance to react. The green depths of the older boy's eyes were now unreadable, and he stared down at his 'date' as he offered the rose again.

    "Just… Just take it, okay? I want you to have it, even if you don't want to spend the evening with me…" Suddenly shy, he lowered his gaze to the ground while Ran stood there, speechless. This couldn't be happening. It was a dream, and he would wake up any moment now and realize it.

    "…" He didn't know what to say, didn't know how to react as Yohji offered the rose again. He accepted it slowly, mindful of the thorns. Yohji smiled at him and Ran watched his reaction again, the blush somehow still in check.

    "You…" He wet his lips nervously before he continued, "You want to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel?" The question made Ran blink, still staring at the rose. It glowed in the dusk as the rays of the setting sun reflected off the silver spray. He raised his eyes to Yohji's slowly, taking in the appearance of the other as he did. The older boy was dressed as if he was going on a date; the green shirt the same colour as his eyes and the black pants fitting snuggly to his lanky frame. He was wearing a black trenchcoat as well, billowing out behind him as he moved. The ever-present sunglasses were perched atop of his head instead of on the bridge of his nose as Ran was used to. The blonde hair had been combed somewhat backwards into a low ponytail, held back out of his face with a green ribbon. He was taller than Ran, and he had to crane his neck to be able to stare him straight in the eyes, searching for the lie that he knew was there. It wasn't. Yohji's eyes were completely devoid of the smug satisfaction he would have found elsewhere, and it alone made him even more nervous, his heart beating in his chest and quickening his pulse to a maddening speed.

    A faint blush stained the older boy's cheek under Ran's scrutiny and that was what convinced him. No one could pretend a blush.

    "I… I would like to…" He was as shy as Yohji all of a sudden, lowering his gaze to the ground again and therefore missed the relieved grin that passed over the other one's face for a moment.

    "Great! You don't want some spun sugar first? Or some apples with jam?" Realizing that he was babbling, Yohji blushed slightly again. Ran could just stare at him, unable to look away from the fact that Yohji Kudoh, his crush, was blushing. And because of him!

    "No, I'm fine, thank you. We should get in line." He waited till Yohji had taken a step forward before following him silently, studying the other out of the corner of his eye, trying to still the mad beat of his heart again.

    They were silent as they got into the line, the people around them enough to keep the noise up. Ran looked down at the rose again, trying to hold it carefully. He didn't want it to prick his fingers again, but all thoughts of throwing it away had vanished. No matter how the evening went from here, he would save that rose forever.

    When it was their turn, Yohji paid for the both of them, despite Ran's protests. He just looked at him till he began to feel ungrateful, which shut him up and made him stare angrily instead. He didn't like to be in debt to someone, and therefore vowed that he would pay for the next thing they would try.

    They climbed up, Yohji seating himself first. Ran waited calmly till they had began moving before he turned to meet the green eyes.

    "Why did you leave the thorns?" The question was the last one Yohji had ever expected, and he laughed.

    "Because… You sure you want to hear this?" When Ran nodded once, he smiled. "Because it would be a reminder of you. Thorns." He wasn't going to say anything else, but those words had Ran almost gaping before he managed to hide it. Thorns. Him. Made sense.

    "Hn." He really didn't know what to say, but Yohji didn't seem to mind.

    "You've been busy with school?" The question was an strange one, until he figured out that Yohji was only trying to start a conversation.

    "Yes. History is tough, and I have an English essay to finish next week. You?" Yohji laughed, a short bark, before turning to face Ran, his green eyes glittering.

    "I did, but I've given up on school. Leads nowhere. I want to be something, see the world, not live my life learning things I've got no use of anyway." Ran nodded at that, not quite sure what to say. He had more questions, but he wasn't sure how to voice them.

    Suddenly, he felt Yohji's arm on the supporting rail behind them, encompassing him easily. His eyes narrowed, but he didn't say anything. Yohji didn't mean anything with it, he was sure. He couldn't stop himself from leaning just a little against him though, and was rewarded with a smile. Okay, so he did mean something with it. What?

    "You work, right?" He blinked at the innocent question, but nodded.

    "Hai. I've got two part-time jobs. Have to work tomorrow too." He grimaced slightly at the thought of the fast food restaurant where he had to be every weekend to flip greasy meat to ungrateful teenagers. The other one, over at the library, was one of his choice, but he only helped out there two times a week when he got off school earlier. He was considering taking yet another job, to fill up his free nights, but he hadn't found anything he wanted yet.

    "Two jobs? Does your parents approve of that?" He flinched when Yohji mentioned his parents, and glared over at the other one.

    "They're dead." An uncomfortable silence fell over the small booth as Yohji digested that information.

    "I'm sorry. Was it a long time ago?" Another glare made him close his mouth as Ran showed him very clearly that he wouldn't tolerate another question like that.

    "Long enough." He turned his head to stare down at the ground now so far below, trying not to let Yohji see the effect he had on him by his mere presence. Sitting so near him made him very selfconscious, suddenly very grateful that Aya had helped him pick out the clothes and make his hair presentable as well. Stop it, you're acting like a girl!

    "It's beautiful, isn't it?" Yohji's voice drifted over to him again, and he turned his head to look at him.

    "Yes, it is." The gaze made it quite clear what he meant, and Yohji smiled and nodded. Ran found himself fighting the blush again, only to surrender to it as Yohji's hand brushed his shoulder momentarily. This is too good to be true! I'm probably going to wake up soon, and this will be just a dream…

    The wheel stopped as new people were climbing on board for a ride, and they stayed silent as they looked at the rest of the park from above, Ran unconsciously searching for his sister.

    Yohji was humming along the tune drifting up, not missing a key. Ran was impressed, he didn't think that the older boy knew how to sing, but he did, apparently.

    When he noticed him listening, he stopped, grinning sheepishly. Ran almost smiled, the corners of his mouth quirking upwards before he could stop himself.

    "Do continue." The smile broke out for real as Yohji snorted at the request.

    "Not when I know you're listening."

    "Why not?" Ran persisted. He wanted to hear Yohji sing again, and he wanted to tease him for it as well. What triggered that feeling, he had no clue, but it felt the right thing to do. How teasing him for singing can be the right thing… You're loosing it, Fujimiya.

    "Because I'm not drunk enough?" Yohji flashed him another of those grins that Ran absolutely adored, and he felt himself blushing again.

    "Not drunk enough? Then I don't want to know what you do when you are, Kudoh!" Yohji laughed, the sound echoing in the still air around them as Ran snorted.

    "I suppose you don't. Just don't call me 'Kudoh'. 'Name's Yohji."

    "I know." The corners of his mouth quirked up again as he watched Yohji smile again.

    "Good."

    "Hn."

    Silence fell heavily on them again and Ran pretended to study the ground as they descended from the sky again. The ride was over, and he could either go home now or see if Yohji wanted to continue the night. He wasn't sure which he wanted himself, but he was so nervous it was a miracle that he didn't throw up. He. Was. On. A. Date. With. Yohji. Kudoh. Yohji!

    They hopped out of the booth, Yohji waiting for him as Ran shoved one hand into his pockets, the other one still holding onto the rose.

    "So… What do you want to do now? Hungry? Thirsty?" Yohji turned to him, head tilted to the side and a small smile on his lips.

    "Don't know. Something to drink would be nice, though." Before he had had the chance to do something, Yohji had grabbed his hand and dragged him along. Ran's heart was trying to beat itself out of his chest and wrap itself around Yohji, the rest of him following behind. He didn't do anything to try and retake his hand as he was dragged through the crowds. Yohji didn't slow down, neither did he turn around, until they were standing in line to one of the hot-dog stands. Ran didn't really like hot-dogs, but if Yohji wanted one… If Yohji wanted the moon, he would give it to him or die trying. Sad but true…

    When it was their turn, Yohji turned to him to ask him what he wanted, not releasing Ran's hand. The smile in his eyes made them glitter as he watched how Ran tried to compose himself again. He didn't let go of his hand as he tried to reclaim it, instead, he brought it forward with him as he dragged him up to the door in the booth were a grumpy middle-aged man worked. He regarded them silently, the way Ran held onto the rose and how Yohji held onto him and smiled down at him. Right then, the heavens could have opened themselves and hell could have risen up to earth without him batting an eyelash at it. Yohji. Was. Holding. His. Hand. Okay, way past time to get a grip on yourself, Ran!

    "What do you want? Soda?" Yohji smiled at him again, and Ran found himself returning it hesitantly, feeling all giddy inside.

    "Soda'll be fine. My treat this time." Before Yohji had a chance to say anything, Ran had stepped forward, staring the man straight in the eye with one of his more menacing glares.

    "I'll have soda too." Yohji stepped up beside him, and he glanced at him before turning his attention back at the man again. He watched them as if he just waited for them to sprout another head or something, and Ran glared harder. He didn't want this man's prejudices flung in his face, not tonight. Yohji glared at him too, and under the stares of the two, he sullenly finished the sodas.

    "That will be 435 yen, thank you." The way he said it made Ran want to roll his eyes. He could at least sound like he meant it, he thought as he paid him and offered one of the sodas to Yohji who took it gratefully. He was becoming really hot, for some reason, and he needed to cool down. A smiling Ran made him feel like he was on his first date again, nervous as hell and twice as scared.

    They continued away from the stand in silence, each sipping their soda.

    "What you wanna do now?" Yohji turned to him as they continued up a hill, away from the worst throng.

    "Don't know. I can't stay all night though, I have work tomorrow." He tried not to feel disappointed as he remembered the burgers and the grease he would have to wade through tomorrow along with his fellow employees that were even grumpier and more disgruntled than himself. He sighed, and Yohji stopped.

    "Okay…" He sounded a bit disappointed as well, but Ran firmly told himself that he was imagening things again. Yohji wouldn't give a damn if he had to work tomorrow or not.

    "Hn."

    "Do you work all day?" He was moving again, and Ran tagged along, sipping his soda quietly.

    "I usually get off my shift at six. It starts at eight, so I work full hours. Hard work, but we need the money." Yohji just nodded, walking slowly again as he watched the people around them.

    "Have you've been there for long?" Again those questions that showed how desperate he was to keep the conversation going. Ran didn't know what to say himself, and was therefore not going to contribute anything to it.

    "Almost a year. I'm working at the library too, every Tuesday and Thursday when I get off earlier from school."

    "The library? What do you get to do there?" He actually sounded genuinely interested, to Ran's astonishment. Most people just laughed when he said that he worked there, but Yohji just smiled at him and continued walking.

    "I move around books, help people finding the ones they want and so on. I like it there, it's quiet and peaceful." The last words weren't really supposed to be said, and he kicked himself. Great, now he sounded like some nerd that didn't do anything else than read. Fat chance Yohji would want to date him again… Like he would have done it even without your little interference, Fujimiya…

    "Aah."

    "Hn."

    Silent again, they continued up the little trail. There were no other people around, not that Ran really cared. He was quite content with just the company of Yohji, and would happily had the larger part of the population disappear if it meant that he could be alone with him.

They stopped at a fence that was stretching out in the dark, making sure that no one would fall off the trail even in the middle of the night. It was almost up to Ran's waist, and he leaned against it with the soda in one hand and the rose in the other. The view was over the park, the Ferris Wheel still going. They had been walking quite a bit, he noticed absently, but they weren't as far away as he would have guessed.

    Yohji was standing silently beside him, his soda almost finished. He glanced at Ran a little now and then, and finally turned to him.

    "Ran…"

    "Mmm?"

    "I… You… I… Would…" It was quite amusing to watch Yohji stutter and blush as he so obviously tried to say something, and Ran smiled at him again.

    "Yes?"

    Yohji fell silent again, glaring at him as he continued smiling at his obvious discomfort.

    "Oh, what the hell!" It was all he heard before Yohji had grabbed his soda and made it balance on its own on the edge of the rail as he suddenly had his arms on either side of Ran, pinning him back quite efficiently. Ran couldn't do anything else but stare at Yohji, his heart doing somersaults in his chest again. When Yohji leaned down and kissed him, he felt his knees melt and it was just the deathgrip he had on the railing behind him that kept him up. He closed his eyes, kissing him back hesitantly. He had had very few experiences with making out, beyond the chaste sessions he had tried with a girlfriend years ago, they were almost nonexistent.

    But now, Yohji was kissing him, his tongue running along Ran’s lips for a moment before Ran responded, opening them and tasting him. He felt the older boy’s hands glide down to settle on his hips, leaning him slightly backwards. He was content with having Yohji taking the lead for now, leaning into the embrace as his own hands found themselves under Yohji’s trenchcoat, on their way under his shirt, opening a button or two before slipping his hands in and touch the soft skin on his stomach. Yohji broke away with a hiss.

    "Christ! Your fingers are freezing!"

    Ran laughed at that, removing them again. How good it felt to laugh at something again, to relax like this… And of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that Yohji was the one who made him feel like this. The older boy’s grin was back on his face again as he leaned forward. Ran tiptoed to meet his lips, still a little awkward with how to go about it, but more than willing to try again.

    This time, he was a little more careful where his fingers went, but he couldn’t stop himself from fingering the lean body in front of him, pressing him back so effectively to the rail behind him. His world narrowed down to the feeling of Yohji, to the taste of the soda and cigarettes as well as the warmth radiating from him. The way he was kissing him now was so different from before, the warmth and tenderness drawing up a response that he had never imagined before… I want more, I want everything…

    When they broke away for air, Ran leaned his head against Yohji’s chest, trying to still his heart back into something that even resembled a normal pace as his harsh breathing was pounding in his ears. God, that was incredible…

    "You okay there?" The teasing voice made him blush and he raised his face to Yohji’s again. The green eyes were glittering with laughter and he felt himself smile hesitantly. And go all dizzy and giddy inside as a hand stroke back his hair from his face.

    "Hn," was all he said as he continued to blush and stare at the older boy.

    "I knew I was going to make you speechless, but with just one kiss? I’ve got to be better than I thought…" That made Ran break out in laughter again, clutching the green shirt and lean his forehead to it as he tried to still himself. Yohji’s arms were around him now, holding him close and sighing into the red hair.

    "Someone’s quite sure of himself, I see," was Ran’s answer. He buried his face against Yohji’s shoulder again, reveling in the warmth and safety, determined to make it last as long as he could.

    A grunt answered his statement, and Ran smiled again. They stood there in silence for a while, the smaller redhead pressed up against the blond, almost purring as a hand played with his hair before slipping down to the back of his neck and rub the taut muscles there. The long fingers seemed to know exactly where to go and how to knead them and it was all he could do to not fall asleep then and there.

    "Ran?" A voice broke into the warm haze again and he raised his head from Yohji’s chest.

    "Mmm?"

    "I hate to say this, but it’s quite late, and if you start working early tomorrow…" The green eyes were solemn, not a hint of the teasing laughter from earlier was there and Ran felt his heart sink again. Just so bloody great…

    "I’ve better go and find my sister and tell her I’m going home then." He broke away from Yohji, looking for the rose and his long-abandoned soda that was still standing on the rail beside him. The rose was lying on the ground again and he picked it up carefully.

    "I’ll walk you." Yohji grabbed his hand again before he could protest, holding it in a firm enough grip that he couldn’t get it back.

    "We have to get to the subway, and it will take a while… Are you sure you want to? You don’t have to, you know…" Not meeting the green gaze again, Ran walked silently beside the older boy – grateful that his bangs hid his face enough for him to not make out the blush creeping back up on his face.

    "But I want to, Ran, so there’s no use in trying to make me stay here…" Once more, the teasing note in his voice was back, and Ran felt the same silly-beyond-belief-smile settle on his face again. He stole a glance at the blond and was rewarded with one of those dazzling smiles that made him want to just throw himself at the other one, regardless of what everyone might think.

    They walked in silence for a while, Ran intent on finding his sister and let her know that he was going home. Yohji didn’t seem to care about the stares they recieved, and after a while, neither did Ran. Let them stare if they want to…

    As they passed another group of people – consisting mostly of boys – Yohji wrapped his arm around Ran in a way he could only describe as possessive. Glancing at the older blond, he tried to figure out what had brought it along, but was stopped by the approach of one of the boys.

    "I see that you’ve found him…" He was perhaps a year or so older than Yohji – Ran could vaguely remember him from school – and he was glaring at them with enough malice to make Ran want to back away. He didn’t like him, it was just something about that one that had his hackles rising.

    "Unlike you, you mean, Masato?" The brownhaired boy snorted, glancing over to Ran. He stared back, not about to show himself afraid anymore.

    "Like I would want anything to do with someone like him? No, he’s all yours, Kudoh."

Trying not to show how much those words hurt inside, Ran stepped forward. Yohji looked like he was about to punch Masato, and he didn’t want to end the night in a fight.

    "Do you have something to say, or were you just out to annoy us?" He summoned up all the scorn he could in his voice, directing himself at the older boy. He was as tall as Yohji, and Ran had to crane his neck to stare him straight in the eye. He was used to dress people down like this and used the superior height of his opponent to make them feel clumsy and insecure. Again, Masato snorted, his gaze traveling between Yohji and Ran. They had now interested the rest of the gang who was making their way over to them. Ran knew that if it would be a fight, they were heavily outnumbered.

    "Yohji, let’s leave. I’ve got better things to do than fight a bunch of morons." Masato took a step forward at the words, but before he could grab Ran, Yohji growled something and shoved him behind himself again.

    "Unlike you, Masato, I happen to know both one and two things about this world. One of them is not to mess with other people unlike you want to get bashed." Masato seemed to take the words into consideration as he looked at the younger boys, glaring from one to the other. Ran stepped forward and Yohji slung his arm around his shoulders again, not taking his eyes of the brownhaired boy. Finally, the thug backed down, muttering something about queers and their respective parentage. Yohji just grinned at him as he made his way back to the others. Ran snorted, not about to question what had brought that on.

    "Raaaan! Aniiiiki!" The sudden voice made him freeze as he recognized it as his sister’s. No! She can’t see me like this!

    About to make a wild dash away from Yohji, he found that the older blond just gripped his hand and held him still, not caring the least about them being seen together.

    "Let go! She can’t see me like this, not now!" He hissed the words out, trying to make the grip on his hand lessen enough for him to flee, but Yohji just smiled at him.

    "Why not? Calm down, Ran, she’ll probably be hearing about it in school anyway…" He pulled the redhead into his arms again, never minding the struggle he put up.

    "There you are Ran!" Aya-chan just jumped up at him, not caring the slightest that he was more or less molded together with Yohji again. Ran felt himself blush, refusing to turn around.

    "Don’t be shy, Ran…" Yohji’s voice was teasing again, and the blush just grew even worse as he heard his sister laugh.

    "I take it you found your date, niisan?" Ran really didn’t want to meet Aya-chan’s gaze right then, but Yohji just grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around again. She was smiling at him, not seemed the slightest fazed with the fact that her brother was standing in the arms of another boy. In fact, she looked decidedly pleased with herself. A little thought formed in Ran’s head and he turned around to look at Yohji who was smiling innocently at him. No way! It can’t be!

    "We were looking for you, have to get the young man home safe and sound you know…" Yohji winked at her and that was what made Ran do the connection.

    "How long have the two of you known each other?" His voice was quiet, and Aya-chan recognized it in an instant. Another innocent smile from her made Ran even more suspicious. Yohji seemed to get the point right away as well, and he chuckled behind Ran’s back as he tightened the arms around the smaller redhead.

    "Long enough…" The voice was drawled out in his ear and the way Aya-chan was now smiling didn’t do anything to help his temper. They had planned this, had set him up for a ‘date’…

    "Let go. I hope that you had fun, Kudoh." He slammed his elbow in the blond’s ribs, knocking the wind out of him as he glared at his sister.

    "Ran! Wait!" She tried to grab him, but the icy look she recieved made her stop. Yohji was still trying to get the air back in his lungs, coughing and trying to stand up straight. Looks like I hit the right spot…

    "I’m going home." He ignored the other two and stormed off, fury the only thing evident in his posture as he weaved through the thickening crowds. Most people had just arrived and was going to have a night full of fun with not a care in the world while he was listening to the sickening sound of his heart breaking. Again...

    He could hear his sister calling out after him, but he didn’t stop. He didn’t want her pity now, the way she had set him up with Kudoh had been cruel – too cruel for anything she would ever have managed to do on her own. Not that it helped the pain inside to disappear, it came back tenfold every time he tried to shove it away, determined not to let anyone see beyond the façade of anger he was displaying again.

    Why? What had made her do it? Did she know how much Ran had pined for Yohji? Or was it just a chance she had taken? And why? Was he so abnormal to her?

    His steps became more and more unsure as he continued towards the subway station. He wanted to go home, but at the same time, he wanted to know if she would make it back on her own in one piece. I never should have left here there with Kudoh… Who knows what he will do?

    On the verge to turn around again, he scowled. She could take care of herself tonight. If she had managed to set him up like this, she and Kudoh could go and have a good time and forget all about him.

    The streets were full of people coming and going from the amusement park and no one noticed him as he slipped away, intent on hiding among the people. With his luck, he would probably meet up with Masato and his gang again and without Yohji he would probably get himself into a fight with them. One he would loose quickly.

    The subway station came into view, and he settled down to wait for his train. There weren’t many people out here now, almost everyone would be at the park. The deserted place suited him just fine, the thoughts that were finding themselves in his head wasn’t something he wanted to share.

    As the train finally rolled into the station, he seated himself at the back. He was almost alone now, enough for him to drop the defensive posture a bit. Leaning back against the window, he tried to sort through his thoughts again, only to come up with the same solution. Aya-chan had somehow known that he liked Yohji and had decided to pull a prank on him. Whatever she had bribed Yohji with was not something he wanted to find out, but it would probably have cost her a lot. He was somewhat calmer now, the anger had died down enough for him not to want to kill anyone at least, but it was still gnawing at him deep inside along with the pain.

    He was deep in thought as the train pulled up at his station. As he got out from it, he shoved his hands deep into his pockets, stalking the few blocks to their apartment. It would be nice to get home, he would make himself a cup of tea and curl up on the couch and wait for his sister to get back home so that he could ask her why she had done it. He just wanted a simple answer to that simple question.

    As he unlocked the door, the darkness of the flat greeted him. He hung his coat up as he proceeded to get rid of his boots before going out to the kitchen and making some tea. The small stove took its time to heat up the water, and he settled down to wait at the table. The kitchen was not much more than a stove and a fridge along with a pantry, but it was enough for them to get past.

    A key in the lock told him that his sister was home. He didn’t call out a greeting to her as he continued sitting quietly in the kitchen, waiting for the water to heat up enough for him to drink it.

    "Ran?" Her voice was concerned, and he stiffled a sigh.

    "In here."

    She came into the kitchen quietly, watching him as he moved over to the stove, more to have something to do than anything else. He didn’t want to look at her now.

    "Why?" His voice was cold, and he heard her sigh.

    "Why what?" Answering a question with a question…

    "Why did you do it?"

    "You mean Yohji?"

    "Hn."

    "He likes you, you know, and when he learned that you were my brother, he asked me out." The statement made Ran whirl around, staring at his sister with a wild look in his eyes.

    "He... He asked you out? When?"

    "About a month ago. I didn’t know what he wanted, but as all he could do was to talk about you… Let’s just say that I figured things out on my own." A small smile passed over her face at Ran’s gaping. "You look like a fish. Close your mouth." He did as he was told, blushing ever so slightly as the realization of what he had done came crashing down on his head.

    "No, no, no, no, NO!" He was wrapped in her arms in an instant, hushing sounds coming from her as she held him close. I’m such an idiot! Why do I always have to screw things up? Why can’t I ever make anything right?

    "He said he was going to call tomorrow." The words slowly made their way into Ran’s mind and he broke away from the comforting arms.

    "Are you sure?" Suddenly feeling a hell of a lot better and all giddy inside again, Ran sat down at the table. Aya-chan just smiled at him, reaching out for a cup of her own.

    "I think he’s really fallen for you… You should have seen him when you left… Poor boy…" Ran blushed again, more because he was ashamed of what he had done than the fact that Yohji had a crush on him.

    "Hn."

    "He walked me home too. Said that he had to know where we lived so that he could come and stare at your window…" Ran felt the accursed blush spread again, the way his sister laughed did nothing to help. "Go to sleep, you’ve got work tomorrow." She rose again, placing a hasty kiss on his cheek before going into her own room. She had the day off tomorrow and would probably spend it with her friends as usual. Ran sighed. He really didn’t look forward to go to work. It was crowded and stressful and there was no telling who might pop up there. Like Yohji. The last thing he wanted was to let the blond see him there in that horrible uniform with enough grease in his hair to make it stand on end for the rest of the week.

    Making sure that the stove was off, he made his way into the living room, dropping off his clothes and folding them neatly before crawling under the blanket on the couch. He’s going to call tomorrow…  

 

*****

End of Part I.

 

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