Noel 

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 by nekojita

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 Yohji kicked at the white snow that was steadily blanketing the ground. "It’s a good thing we didn’t leave anyone alive back there or they’d be tracking us down right now," he muttered as he huddled in his long black coat. Dammit, he was an assassin – an *urban* assassin at that – other than leaping around a rooftop or two, he should not have to suffer outside in the cold like this for so long. He was dressed to blend in with the crowd, not to spend half an hour trudging through the snow to get back to where they had stashed their vehicles. Why did it always seem to take longer to get back to someplace than it did to leave it?

 Ken did not miss a step as he reached down to grab a handful of snow as they walked, leaving a red streak behind from his sheathed bugnucks. "Aw, we actually get a good bit of snow and that’s all you can think about? Leaving a trail for someone to follow? I never thought I’d say this about you, Kudoh, but you think about work too much." 

"He does have a point, Ken," Omi offered, as always the peacemaker out of the four of them. For the kid’s sake, all Yohji did was give Ken the finger while sticking his tongue out at the same time.

If the truth were told, his thoughts were *not* on the possibility of anyone finding them just then. No, they were firmly stuck on the sullen, brooding, taciturn and whatever else he could think up that really meant ‘grumpy, quiet bastard’ of a redhead who walked a few feet away from the rest of them, as if worried about being associated with them. Yohji tugged his sunglasses a little farther down his nose so he could glance at his lover, not so much hampered by their dark lenses as the snowflakes that clung to the chilled plastic.

 Aw, hell, he *knew* what that particular glare meant, and it did *not* bode well. There actually were times when Aya looking as if he was ready to gut the next person who dared to breathe in his presence could be a good… well, interesting thing, but not when that hard press of lips was added to eyes narrowed so much a person could not even tell what color they were. Yohji’s suspicions were confirmed when Aya noticed the attention and pressed his lips harder together. He even lifted his katana a little, as if tempted to unsheathe the blade.

 Yohji cursed under his breath and hugged his arms tighter around his chest. Dammit, it was not even his fault, what had happened tonight! A little voice inside his head whispered that it would be worth his life to try that line of reasoning with his decidedly illogical and short-tempered lover. Whatever satisfaction Yohji had gotten from seeing Aya become jealous over the way he had to flirt with a woman earlier while he attempted to find out where their target was hiding had vanished the instant that she had kissed him. Oh, he *knew* that there was no way to talk his way out of that, even if she had taken him by surprise and told him what they needed to know a few minutes later. 

Despite the damage being there had done to his relationship, Yohji wished he was back at the *warm* club. Then he would not be freezing his rather sexy ass off and could have a few drinks… okay, bottles… of alcohol for courage. Perhaps drinking himself into oblivion would be better, because the incident with the girl had not been the only thing to piss off Aya tonight.

 If having to leave a nice, warm, alcohol-filled bar to drive over an hour outside of the city and then trek through the fucking wilderness to find where the target was holed up was not bad enough, they had to be surprised by how off Manx was in estimating the asshole’s security. Despite the night’s frigid temperatures, Yohji had soon worked up a sweat from fighting his way through all the guards, more than a little concerned over how Weiss was so outnumbered. It was only natural to wonder how the man he loved was faring, considering those odds, and of *course* he found Aya in the thick of things. One day the suicidal idiot would realize that a katana was not suitable protection from several people about to shoot numerous holes in his gorgeous body. Unfortunately, tonight was not that time, and Yohji had done the ‘unthinkable’ in missing a chance to take out the target to save the hide of his extremely ungrateful lover. Did it matter that at the same moment, Omi managed what should have been an impossible shot that made Yohji want to check out Aya’s eyes? That the mission was a success and that Kritiker really did not care who killed the target as long as the asshole was dead? Hell. No. 

Yohji reached into his coat for a pack of cigarettes, shivering all the while, and cursed when he remembered that he had finished the pack on the way out here. He had another pack in the Seven, but that would be at least fifteen more minutes of stumbling through the snow to get to it when he needed one *now*. The ‘crunch’ of snow underneath and the strange silence that accompanied the falling flakes only got on his already frayed nerves. What he would not give to be back home, snuggled in his extremely comfy bed with a willing Aya. Hmm, just thinking of how he could warm up his thin-blooded lover made him smile.

 "It’s a good thing we didn’t come on your bike," Omi told Ken, his high-pitched voice breaking through Yohji’s happily obscene thoughts.

 "Yeah, even if it weren’t for all this snow, we’d be frozen by the time we got back home." Ken still had the snow in his gloved hands, now formed into a perfect, albeit pink, snowball. He took to tossing it up in the air and catching it as he fell into step beside Yohji. The temperature had actually dropped enough that he had untied his sweatshirt from around his waist and wore it underneath his leather coat. Okay, so he might look like a fashion disaster most of the time, but Yohji had to admit that Ken had to be a lot more warmer than him. "You gonna be all right in the Seven?" 

About to scoff over the question, Yohji paused and gave it some thought instead. "I should be, as long as we’re not racing back to the Koneko." He looked in Aya’s direction, assuming that his lover would ride back with him, and got treated to another nasty glare. "If the roads are in too bad a shape, Aya and I can always stop somewhere for the night." 

Aya actually took part in the conversation, but only to snort as he shook his head and shot Yohji down. "There’s no way in hell I’m riding back with you in that piece of junk."

 Okay, so Yohji had to play patty-cakes with some strange woman for the sake of the mission and had dared to believe that his lover could not take care of himself while surrounded by six armed men with loaded guns. Either offense was enough to have him sleeping on the couch for the next night or two, and together…. He did not really want to dwell on how long he would be sleeping in what used to be Aya’s bedroom, but really, did those two strikes against him rate slander against his precious car? He was willing to bet that if he said something nasty about Aya’s pretentious choice in vehicles that he would not be likely to sleep in his bed any time this year.

 It was a rare cold and snowy night, they were far enough outside of the city that he could see the stars and moon in the sky above even as it began to lighten toward morning, they were relatively unharmed after a dangerous mission and Aya was giving him a shoulder cold enough to rival the temperatures outside. All Yohji wanted was to be back home and alone with his moody lover, to be able to enjoy the fact that they were still alive and had the hopes of a short respite from missions. He had nearly suffered a heart-attack back at the now burning lodge, terrified that he was going to lose the man he loved, and Aya had not even bothered to make sure he was uninjured after the fight. There was a hell of a lot that he put up with for Aya’s sake, both to keep his lover happy and safe, and this was the thanks he got in return?

 Well, if he was already damned twice-over tonight in Aya’s opinion, why not add to it a little more and really make it worth his while? Moving too fast to be stopped, he snatched the snowball from Ken’s hand and threw it at his lover. Aya might be a damn good swordsman, amongst other things, but he clearly had no clue that he was about to be nailed by a ball of pink snow. It splattered against Aya’s leather-clad left shoulder and almost made him drop his precious katana.

 Aya whirled around to face Yohji, his weapon half-unsheathed and eyes wide with shock. The act of throwing the snowball had somewhat defused Yohji’s temper, leaving him surprised at himself and chuckling nervously. Wondering if he was about to end up in a cold, shallow grave, he nearly jumped into the air when Ken broke the tense silence with a loud yell.

 "Snowball fight!" 

Ken was a brown and orange blur as he scooped up more snow and ran away from the group, toward the edge of trees that they had been skirting. Omi remained still for only a few seconds more, and then mimicked Ken’s actions while calling out that it was a ‘free for all’.

 All right, they had just committed mass homicide a short while ago, the remains of their victims currently being charred by a fire they had started and that would probably be noticed sooner rather than later. They were in the possession of lethal weapons and more than enough evidence to incriminate them for life, were supposed to be feared assassins and – "Hey! Watch the face! These things are expensive!" Yohji hollered as he just managed to dodge a snowball to the face. He grabbed his glasses so he could tuck them safely into an inner pocket of his coat.

 He could not find Aya anywhere, although Omi and Ken were laughing and whooping loudly enough for him to not need to see them to know where they were. They seemed to have embraced the idea of an impromptu snowball battle, and Yohji had to admit that the setting was ideal for the thing. When was the last time he had done something as silly as this?

 He had just managed to throw a few balls in Ken’s direction when one slammed into his back. Turning around, he was so startled that he froze upon finding out that it was Aya who had nailed him and not Omi. The subsequent snowball to his face snapped him out of it, however, and he swore that it had been comprised of something more than just snow, it stung so much. He dove to the left as he wiped his face clean of snow, his hands busy making more weapons now that he had a favored target. 

It might be a ‘free for all’, but Omi and Ken seemed to leave Yohji and Aya alone to work out their aggression with snowballs. Not that Yohji had that much anger left in him at that point; despite the cold it was a beautiful night and he was having a snowball battle with *Aya* of all people. The damn things might sting if he took one to the face, but they were much preferred over edged weapons. Evidently, Aya was determined to hit him as many times as possible.

 Aya might be determined and more than a little ruthless, but Yohji was quick and sneaky. While the woods might not be his favorite place to hang out on a very late winter night, they provide lots of places to hide behind. Yohji made careful note of his surroundings while he ran about, smiling at the way Ken and Omi sounded to be having a lot of fun and that he had Aya’s undivided attention. His lover was smart and skilled at fighting, but he also tended to be rather single-minded. It did not take much effort on Yohji’s part to lure Aya to a patch of the woods that had a lot of uneven ground. 

He took a couple of shots to the back of his head while getting things set up, and then Aya tripped over a small log hidden under the now thick snow. Yohji did not give his lover a chance to get back onto his feet, choosing to keep Aya pinned to the ground instead with his weight. After making certain that the katana was out of reach, Yohji leaned forward until their noses were almost rubbing together.

 "Well, it's not raining, so I guess we'll have to make do," he teased, hoping that being reminded of their ‘games’ in the rain might help put Aya in a better mood. As it was, Aya had taken advantage of the snowball battle instead of leaving them all behind and taking off in the first vehicle he came across, so Yohji had reason to believe his hope was not in vain.

 Aya looked absolutely gorgeous, sprawled out on the snow. His red hair was damp and fanned out around his head, his cheeks were flushed from the cold and exertion, his eyes their normal shade and only slightly narrowed in anger. He attempted to buck Yohji off of him, but Yohji could tell that his heart was not really in it since he did not go flying through the air.

 "I thought we were supposed to be fighting with snowballs, not wrestling," Aya grumbled, his deep voice shaded with exhaustion as he shivered against the cold. Yohji almost relented and backed off, not wanting to panic his lover or add to the chill he was suffering, before remembering that Aya could be sneaky, too.

 "Why do you need to pick a fight at all?" he asked, and wanted to smack himself a moment later when Aya’s eyes narrowed in a real glare at the reminder of what had preceded the silliness. "Dammit, I-"

As astonished as he had been back when Aya had hit him with a snowball, it was nothing compared to now. He actually forgot to breathe while Aya bridged the slight distance between them for a lingering kiss. "Yohji… just drop it."

 Aya sounded even more exhausted and cold, and Yohji did not believe it to be an act to make him lower his guard. He sat back onto his heels and pulled his lover up with him, lifting Aya from the snow-covered ground. "Just… let me say ‘sorry’, okay?" Twenty minutes ago, those words would have had to be torn from him, but in the face of Aya’s generosity, they were heartfelt. He still did not believe that he had been at fault tonight, he was just sorry that he had upset his lover.

 Shivering in earnest, Aya nodded once and huddled against Yohji as if desperate for warmth. Yohji hugged him close and rubbed his hands up and down Aya’s back as if he could provide any warmth through the thick leather. "How about we declare this battle a draw, eh? If Ken and Omi don’t want to stop fighting, we can leave their insane asses out here and go home to a nice, warm bed." The happy and obscene thoughts from before made a sudden return at the prospect of him having to warm up his lover.

 He let out a pained wheeze of air when he was whapped on the back by a gloved fist. "Just let me stand up and go home." Judging from the sharp edge to Aya’s voice, Yohji’s thoughts must have been a bit evident. Ah well, he was certain that he would survive the night as long as he did help Aya get warm sometime very soon.

 They managed to get to their feet and brush off some of the snow clinging to their clothes after that, bodies a little stiff from all of the night’s activities as well as the cold ground. Leaving the sparse protection of the trees, Yohji called out to their teammates. "Oi! You guys gonna play all night or what?"

 Ken and Omi soon joined them, hair tousled and wet, clothes covered with snow and huge grins on their flushed faces. "We were just waiting for you to be finished so we didn’t leave you behind!" Omi said, sounding the most cheerful that he had all day. He shared a look with Yohji, one that made it clear that he had not been happy about Yohji and Aya’s pending fight and was now satisfied that things were better. Yohji had to wonder what would have happened if he had not snapped and thrown the snowball at Aya.

 "Can you believe it’s almost morning?" Ken groaned as he tried to brush off some of the snow from his clothes; it was clear that Omi’s amazing marksmanship had been put to good use that night. "It’s a good thing that the shop’s closed tomorrow." 

Keeping a watchful eye out for bony elbows and a thankfully sheathed katana, Yohji slid his left arm around Aya’s waist. "I’m warning you now, you do *not* want to be the person who wakes us up tomorrow. Or today. Whatever the hell day it is." Now that he should be able to sleep in his own bed again, he had no intention of leaving it until Aya forced him to do so. Considering the cold weather and that it was their day off, he had hopes of spending the whole day there.

 Ken made a gagging sound over the warning, only to fall quiet when Aya’s glare made its return. Quite content to have his temperamental lover be upset with someone other than *him* for once, Yohji smiled in happiness.

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