"Yohji, uhm, are you really sure I can pull this off? I mean, maybe I can just help Omi out with the research or something."
Yohji put out his cigarette with a long suffering sigh. Kenís case of the nerves were getting to him. Ever since Weiss had closed the Koneko no Sume Ie for the day and gone into mission planning mode, the soccer player had been getting more and more jittery. Omi and Yohji had relented on the idea of Ken posing as somebody cruising for a boyfriend while combing the clubs for leads; he was much more likely to pass out the first time he tried to hit on someone. The other two assassins had decided to pass him off as a student reporter looking into a story no one else was willing to touch. However, even with that adjustment to the game plan, the brunet was still as jumpy as the cat he was codenamed after. "For the final time Ken, relax and treat this like any other mission. I mean, really, what is up with you? To think that you and Aya of all people thought you could handle this assignment by yourselves. What would you be doing without me here to baby-sit the two of you?"
"All you have to do is go in there, flash those big brown eyes of yours and wave around a notepad while claiming what a disgrace it is no one is covering the ongoing tragedy, all because of where the crimes are taking place. Play up the sympathy card, be willing to talk to anybody, and I mean anybody, write it all down and return to the house at the end of the night. Repeat until mission is finished. Sheesh. Be glad you arenít working a bar all night like Aya, or playing the social butterfly like me." Yohji fished out another cigarette and lit it, giving him something to do in an attempt to hide the evil smirk on his face. This was going even better than he expected. Ken was already freaking out, and they hadnít even left for the entertainment district yet. It had taken a minor miracle and some major pleading from Omi to get Ken to even try dressing so he could fit in. At least his jeans were clean and the knit top something other than a soccer jersey. Still, it was a far cry from the sinfully tight, low slung black jeans and black leather vest that the blond was decked out in. Yohji had to make sure to cross paths with the younger assassin during the night to enjoy his discomfort. When he wasnít busy checking out leads on his own or rescuing Aya. The latter was his main priority for this evening. Heíd hit a bar or two first to lay some groundwork, and then swoop in to save his ferocious little kitten from the mistake he made on picking this assignment. Although at the moment, Yohji wasnít quite sure who he would be saving, Aya from a bar of lust crazed customers or said customers from a homicidal assassin pushed over the edge. Odds were good either wayÖ
Angry at the amusement his teammate was failing to hide, Ken snapped back at the blond. "I know whatís expected of me Yohji, I Ďve helped out on other cases before. Itís just, what do I do if someone hits on me?" Ken ducked his head at this point, trying to hide his blush.
Yohji paused in front of the door to the garage, where the two men had been heading to. "That sure of yourself, are you Kenken?" Yohji smirked again at the glare he received from the brunet, it was nothing compare to the ones Aya usually sent his way.
" Yeah, well I might not be the man-whore you are Kudoh," Ken smirked himself at Yohjiís bristling towards the insult, "but letís keep in mind the type of bars weíre heading out to. Anything breathing is considered fair game. Iím not exactly used to this sort of thing."
Stung by the sudden name calling, Yohji decided to not hold back. Besides, an angry Ken was preferable to a nervous Ken, at least for this mission. "Whatís the matter, you certainly donít seem like the aggressive type from what Iíve observed. The direct approach too much for you? Just tell them youíre in a serious relationship and theyíll leave you alone. Youíre not worth that much effort."
Ken stood there stunned for a minute, soaking in what the blond had just thrown at him. "Why do you have to be such a bastard, Yohji. Worried no one will pay attention to you if youíre not the sexiest thing around anymore? And what the hell was that first comment about?"
"Just commenting on the pathetically empty state of your love life at the moment. If it gets any deader weíll have to start calling you Aya."
"I do not throw myself on anything that breathes like you do; I have a bit more class than that. Donít know what Iím so worried about, the guys at the bars tonight canít possibly be any worse than you." With that parting comment, Ken revved his motorcycle and took off, leaving an amused Yohji behind.
"Oh yeah, this is going to be a fun couple of weeks. Canít wait to see how well Aya is making out."
ĎMust not kill the customers. Must not kill the customers. Just serve the drinks and do not kill the customers.í
Aya kept chanting the litany as he was running from the bar to his tables and back again. Bacchus was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday night, and his customers were definitely in the drinking mood. They were also in the mood to fondle the waiter. More than a few of them were nursing bruised toes and pinched nerves for their more adventurous gropes. One of Ayaís more daring (and inebriated) customers, who had attempted to drag the swordsman onto his lap, was currently breathing rather gingerly due to some very sore ribs that had been solidly whacked by the red headís elbow. Sheer willpower alone was keeping the Shi-ne glare and glacial tones from being directed towards the men in Ayaís section; flirting back with them, as he witnessed the other servers doing, was completely out of the question.
Heading back to the bar to pick up his drink orders, the red head noticed Mickey, the bartender, shaking his head while wearing a big grin. The mountain of a man was highly amused at the antics of the barís newest employee. Aya had taken mental note of him when they had been introduced earlier in the evening. The American bartender was at least 6í 4", and solid muscle. Grey eyes peered out of a face surrounded by wild black beard and hair. Aya could understand why the manager Kei had said Mickey would handle any difficulties the younger man had while working. The foreigner was scary enough just serving drinks.
The assassin had tried to gather some information about the man, and about Enjo Totsuka, the first victim who had also worked at the bar. However, Aya had found his new coworkers were not in a very talkative mood, at least when around him. Their reticence was most likely based on the assumption that the red head would not manage to last a shift. It was in part that assumption his co-workers and even his teammates were making, and the need to see a mission completed, that kept Aya heading back to his tables and the harassment awaiting him there.
Despite the less than cordial treatment from their server (which really wasnít that anti-social for Aya), the red headís customers were amused. They had been amazed when presented with the young man, and several were instantly smitten. As Kei had predicted, they were also intrigued by the challenge before them. Several men began to conspire together in an effort to gauge the red headís reactions. Mild flirting and casual touches earned a quick glare and quicker step back. Outrageous flirting brought out the glare coupled with drinks being slammed down on the table, and anything more than a brief touch, or any contact in Ďinappropriateí places left one rubbing a very sore wrist and toes that had been crushed under steel toe boots. No one yet had scored a blush, though several had earned a long suffering sigh from the object of their attention. All in all, it was the most fun the men could recall in a long time. It also helped that ĎRedí was one of the better servers at the bar, quickly returning with the correctly ordered drinks and snacks. The only downside to this speedy service was that it didnít leave Ayaís customers much time to come up with new battle plans. Still, the challenge was an excellent distraction, along with the hope that someone would score a direct hit, and maybe more, with the red head.
While busy filling orders and fending off his customers, Aya was keeping an eye on the premises, looking for likely suspects. A few of the customers matched the physique that Weiss was on the look out for; the assassin hoped they were regulars so he could gain more information about them. The men were quite busy interacting with the wait staff and the other customers, laughing and flirting as were most of the people in the packed club. Aya had learned quickly to not focus too long on the dance floor or the tables situated in the darkened corners. Staring for any length of time at those areas threatened to bring out a blush, especially when the occupants of said places happened to notice the attention and tried to entice the red head to join in. The place was definitely living up to its reputation.
Maybe Iíve been an assassin too long, Aya thought darkly to himself. But even when he had been a much more innocent Ran, he could not understand the desire to drag oneself out to a crowded, noisy, smoke filled club, all in the hopes of meeting up with a complete stranger and engaging in PDAís with them. How could it be that worthwhile? Look at Yohji, engaging in the same course of action, night after night. If it was really that satisfying, why did one feel the need to return the next evening? Aya acknowledged that he wasnít exactly the most sexual person in the room, most likely he was the least. Heíd had very little experience in the matter, and was seeing things tonight he hadnít even imagined before. Part of the problem was that he felt very little attraction to another person. He had been too shy to act on those sparse sparks when he was younger, and too focused on revenge in the past few years. In fact, there had only been one person Aya had found himself drawn to since he had joined Kritiker, and that was an extremely aggravating, playboy of blond named Yohji Kudoh. Which just showed one how illogical the whole matter of attraction was. If the red head could not see himself making a casual connection with some stranger, he most definitely was not going to give himself to a teammate notorious for his fickle nature. It would just be too painful.
Snapped back to reality by a long arm snaking around his waist, Aya reminded himself of his litany and the need to focus on the matter at hand, not distracting thoughts. Maybe I should to start moving on to shins, the swordsman thought, foot poised to deliver a vicious blow.
"Oh man, I HAVE to drag Ken into this place, and make sure to bring a camera." Yohji had just entered the Velvet Room, and stood for a moment or two, taking in the scene. Velvet wall hangings that draped down from the ceiling and along the walls gave the club the impression of a circus gone horribly wrong. The performers here were wearing leather and latex costumes, among other things, however the blond spotted a few animal inspired costumes and several pairs of tights. Knowing that a lot of the people in the room were nothing more than wannabe posers, the real fetish freaks being in the members only rooms downstairs, Yohji was mainly interested in checking out the place that evening. Omi was supposed to break into the clubís computer system to investigate the membership list; he would alert Yohji if there were any promising leads. It would then be up to the older assassin to somehow manage an invite to the rooms below. He figured that heíd spend some time at the bar, nursing a drink or two while doing some people watching, pretty much along the lines of what he had done at the two previous bars so far that evening. The blond was hoping to become a familiar figure, making it easier to hit the staff and regulars up for some information after a night or two. Right now he was just doing some preliminary recon while waiting for the right time to go check up on Aya.
Making his way to the bar, Yohji found himself distracted from the mission as his imagination went into overdrive picturing his red head in some of the outfits he was seeing. At the image of the younger assassin dressed in a pair of laced up, patchwork leather pants and a matching collar and handcuffs set that one guy was wearing, the blond had to wipe his mouth to make sure he wasnít drooling. "Screw getting Ken here, what I need to do is drag Aya into this joint. Why oh why couldnít he of gotten a job here?" When his black jeans started feeling a few sizes too small, Yohji realized he need to stop fantasizing about Aya decked out in bondage gear rather quickly. Grabbing the first available seat at the bar, he mentally dredged up anything that would help calm his body down. Distracted by his raging hormones, he was startled to hear his name being shouted out.
Snapping his eyes open, he was greeted by a familiar face grinning at him from the other side of the bar. "Joji, long time no see. What are you doing here?"
Smiling still, the young man with the long, blue dyed hair shook his head. "Isnít that supposed to be my line? Iím just tending bar, never thought Iíd see you walk into a place like this. So what are you doing here?" The two men had known each other for a couple of years, and had been casual lovers a time or two. They kept crossing paths every few months, due to the fact that Joji made a living working at bars and Yohji a habit of spending most of his free time in them. They always parted friends, and while the bartender was happy to see the blond, he was also puzzled by his presence at the fetish club. Yohji wasnít adverse to trying something new, but this really wasnít the type of scene Joji expected to find him in.
Blinking at the question, Yohji tried to do some fast thinking. The other man knew that Yohji had been a private investigator way back when; the assassin didnít want any word of an investigation to get out and scare away the target. However, the only thing his lust-crazed mind could come up with was the images he had been fantasizing over a few minutes before. "Well, you see, I sorta got thisÖ.. friend. And, he, we, uh, I meanÖ." The blond was desperately trying to figure out what he was babbling on about.
The longhaired man was rather amused at his friendís confused attitude. Thinking he knew where this was headed, he decided to tease the other man. "Friend, as in boyfriend? Serious boyfriend at that? You actually settling down with someone? Man, he must be something special."
"Yeah, he really is something special. And I was thinking, you know, that maybe we could try something new, something heíd never done before, so I figured Iíd come on down here and maybe get some ideas." Yohji was mentally kicking himself. What the hell was he saying? If any of this got back to his Ďsomeone specialí, that person would be quick to remove his head from his body. Most likely other body parts as well. But Joji seemed to be buying the story.
"Trying to keep the spark alive and all that, huh? I can comprehend. Been seeing someone steady myself lately. Never thought to bring any of my work home with me, so to speak. Maybe heíd like that."
Sensing an opportunity, Yohji leaned over the bar top, looking at his friend intently. "You wouldnít happen to know anyone who could help me out maybe, someone other than these posers here, do you?" Turning on the full Kudoh charm, the blond watched as his friend paused for a minute, deep in thought.
"You know, there is this one guy who might not mind showing you around. Heís a member here, but he isnít as uptight as some of them can be. Give me some time to see if heís okay with this, maybe come back Thursday night. Things should be a bit slower then. Now if you donít mind, Iím going to get back to work before you ask me something that will get me in trouble." Smiling to show he really wasnít put out by the request, the bartender headed over to another customer, waving as he went.
Getting up from the bar, Yohji felt rather pleased with himself. He pretty much succeeded in everything heíd set out to do that night for the mission, and then some if Joji came through for him. Only one last thing to do, and he had saved the best for last. Time to go see what sort of mess his red headed kitten had gotten himself into, and swoop in to rescue him. Imagination going into overdrive yet again, Yohji walked out of the club with an evil grin on his face.
As Yohji searched the crowded bar, he thought how Bacchus, much like the Velvet Room, was living up to its reputation. He had already been propositioned several times, and had stopped two rather enthusiastic attempts to drag him out on the dance floor. The place was filled with gorgeous men hell bent on having a good time, and not too worried about where or how they were having it. Yohji had spotted several red heads, but none were Aya. He was starting to wonder if the younger assassin had already quit or been fired. It was even worse in here than the blond has imagined. He began making his way to the bar, trying to recall Ayaís cover for this job so he could find out if he was still working, when he came to a complete stop.
ThatÖ couldnít possibly be Aya could it? Yohji stood there, stunned, as he watched the red head wait tables. That couldnít possibly be his icy, repressed teammate. This red head was sexy as hell, decked out in an outfit that would of done the blond proud. Tight, faded blue jeans encased long legs, and were cut low enough to show a smooth expanse of hips and abdomen. Yohji, not tearing his eyes away from the sight of all that white skin, caught the gleam of silver around that slender waist, and was shocked anew. When had Aya gotten his navel pierced? Was this what he had been hiding under that hideous orange sweater all this time? The tightest clothes the blond had ever seen Aya wear was his mission uniform, and that was usually covered over by his dark purple trench coat. A wave of anger swept over the older assassin, upset about being denied seeing this side of his teammate before. Hell, he had considered himself lucky if he saw the other man wearing a t-shirt, let alone the getup he was currently walking around in.
It was apparent that he wasnít the only one appreciating the sight. The area that Aya was working was filled with men who kept their eyes on the red headís every movement. Seeing one of the swordsmanís customers pat him on the hip and casually leave his hand there, Yohji felt himself start to move towards the table, ready to rip said hand off. Before he got more than two feet however, he was stopped in his tracks once again.
The same red head he had expected to rescue that evening was already handling the situation. Not bothering to look down, Aya grasped the offending limb by its pinky, and bending it back sharply, easily removed the hand from his person and set it down on the table. He then patted the hand, and leaned down to say something to its owner. Yohji couldnít catch what was said in the noisy bar, but whatever it was the man, despite the pain from his mistreated finger, and his companions laughed and resumed drinking.
This is just so not what I expected, the blond thought to himself. Nothing had prepared him to witness a very fuckable looking Aya handling a bunch of drunk, amorous men in any manner not containing edged weapons and copious amounts of blood. So much for my great rescue attempt. No wonder he didnít want me in on this mission, he can clearly take care of it himself. Yohji leaned up against the bar, feeling depressed and useless. Might as well have a drink or two and then call it a night.
About to turn around and catch the bartenderís attention, Yohji paused upon hearing a loud crash. Spinning around to see what had caused the noise, he once again found himself leaping into action.
Evidently, one of Ayaís drunken admirers had gotten bored with the games and rejections, and had decided to do something about it. Waiting until the red head was clearing a table of empty glasses, he came up behind the smaller man and enfolded him in a bear hug. Surprised at finding himself trapped, with his arms pinned to his body and being lifted off the ground, the swordsman dropped the glasses. He tried to wriggle free, but that just seemed to excite his captor all the more. He was busy trying to figure out how to get loose without breaking any of the manís bones when he felt the other man nuzzle his neck.
"Got ya now Red, youíre gonna have to pay to get free. Iím thinking a nice kiss sounds just about rii..IIEEE!!"
Finding himself abruptly let go of, Aya whirled around, only to be grabbed again. However, he recognized the person this time, and shock kept him somewhat immobile.
It was Yohji of all people who had grabbed him this time, and dragged him over to his side, left arm firmly wrapped around the shorter manís waist. His other arm was busy gripping Ayaís attackerís throat, fingers digging into the soft flesh. The drunken man was gasping for breath, hands feebly trying to break the blondís grip.
"MINE. You. Do. Not. Touch." Aya stared at the blond, unable to speak. He had never heard the other man speak in such a menacing tone. The older assassin tightened his fingers briefly, and then let Ayaís customer drop to the ground, gasping as he filled his deprived lungs with air.
Yohji drew in a deep breath himself, and shifted to face the stunned red head at his side. Looking at Ayaís perplexed expression, the older man opened his mouth to speak, only to lose his train of thought. Aya was staring at him with wide violet eyes made all the more brilliant due to the smoky black kohl surrounding them. Unable to believe how beautiful the other man looked, Yohji found his head dipping towards the face tilted up towards him. "You alright Kitten?" the blond asked huskily, his lips mere centimeters from the otherís. Before he could breach that last bit of distance however, a loud voice made him jerk his head back up.
"Just what is going on here?" Yohji was greeted with the sight of a stocky, older man glaring angrily at him and Aya, his eyes sweeping to take in the man still gasping on the floor and the crowd of people who had gathered to watch the activities. Behind him was a wild-haired giant gripping a bat. Yohji pulled Aya in closer, wrapping both arms around the red head protectively.
Sensing the red head draw in a breath to speak, Yohji quickly tightened his arms even more. "Whatís going on is I come in here to check how my boyfriend is making out, and find him being attacked by some drunken lout. Isnít that right, Kitten?" Yohji felt Aya stiffen in his arms, although whether at the boyfriend comment or the nickname, he couldnít tell. The blond still couldnít remember the name Aya was working under.
The stocky man, obviously someone in charge, looked at Aya. "Is that right Red?" The swordsman, not trusting his voice at the moment, nodded his head. "You ok?" Another nod. "Well then folks, the show is over. Mickey, help escort the gentleman on the floor out the door, please. Red, why donít you take a break, maybe calm your boyfriend down or something. Speaking of which, I didnít catch his name."
When Aya seemed to be unwilling or unable to respond back, Yohji decided to answer for him. "Itís Yohji Kudoh. Sorry but I didnít catch your name either." Yohji decided to use his real name, chances were he would run into more people who knew him, just like Joji.
"Itís Kei Takeshi. Iím your boyfriendís boss. We usually donít encourage our staffís significant others hanging out while they work, you might want to remember that."
"Yeah, well, good thing I was here tonight. No telling what that bastard could of done to the lover here. Donít you believe in making sure the customers keep from mauling your employees or something?"
"Believe it or not, but these things donít usually happen. Now take your boyfriend outside for a couple of minutes and make sure heís alright." With that the manager turned around and left.
Feeling the taut bundle of muscles in his arms, Yohji didnít think he wanted to take his Ďboyfriendí anyplace that wasnít full of witnesses. He had a feeling that he was not about to enjoy next few minutes, and even less likely to survive them.
Nonetheless, he felt a steel grip clamp down on his wrist, and was all but dragged out a side door. Once the door was shut, the red head released the blond only to shove him up against the wall. "Boyfriend? Kitten? Just what the hell are you up to Kudoh? Have you finally lost whatever few brain cells you have left?" Aya was beyond mad. More than anything, he wanted to know what the older man was up to, and what had caused him to act like that in the bar. Treating the red head as if they were lovers. What had given the playboy that right?
Brain in overdrive trying to figure out something to calm down the swordsman, Yohji pulled out and lit a cigarette. After a drag or two, he glanced down at his teammate. Sensing that grievous bodily harm was about to be committed against his person, the blond knew it was time to quit stalling.
"Look, I came into the bar to check things out, maybe have a drink or two, and see if anyone was in a chatty mood. How was I to know I would walk in and see you being assaulted. I figured Iíd act the enraged boyfriend, spare you from blowing your cover before you dismembered the guy. It worked didnít it? Your boss was more pissed off at me than you, and maybe those guys in there will cut you some slack if they think you have a psycho boyfriend looking out for you. As for the nickname, in all the excitement I couldnít remember your cover, so I just said the first thing that entered my head." Yohji held his breath in anticipation, wondering what body part the red head would go for first.
"Kitten? That was the first name that popped into your head?" Ayaís tone was more incredulous than aggressive, as he was still trying to absorb the blondís story. So Yohji was just trying to spare the customer and Ayaís cover, was he? The older man must be an even better actor than Aya had previously given him credit for. The assassin would of bet his katana that Yohji had been dead serious in there. The mere thought that the other man might have feelings for the red head and was being protective towards him was what had stunned Aya so much back in the bar.
Sensing that he might survive after all, Yohji offered a sheepish grin. "Yeah, well, Abyssinian, cat, kitten. Thatís what you get for being codenamed after a feline. Just what is your cover i.d. anyway? Surely Omi came up with something better than ĎRedí."
Looking away from the blond, the younger man mumbled, "Itís Makoto. However, one of the guys working the door is also named that, so they came up with the nickname to prevent any confusion."
"Huh, makes sense I guess." Yohji finished his cigarette as an awkward silence stretched between the two men. Aya was looking at anything other than the blond, trying to make his emotions understand that the man had meant nothing with his actions a few minutes ago. Yohji was trying to memorize the exact feel of the red head in his arms, marveling at how well their two bodies had fit together. He was also busy cursing that Kei fellow for interrupting his opportunity to kiss Aya. I was so close, the blond kept repeating to himself.
Both men jumped at the sound of the door opening. Peering out into the darkness, a young brunet smiled when he spotted the two men. "Hey Red, Kei told me to check up on you and let you know you have some tables waiting to be served. Feel up to coming back in?"
"Itís okay, Seiichi. Iím heading back now. Iíll see you later." This last bit was directed to Yohji as the red head started for the door. Determined not to let this chance pass him by, the older man grabbed Aya and tilting his face up, planted a kiss on his lips. Stunned by the attack, the red head remained frozen for several heartbeats, trying to assimilate the fact the Yohji was kissing him.
ĎGods, he tastes even sweeter than I imagined.í Yohji had to hold himself back from thrusting his tongue into the man's mouth, he knew there was a limit to how far he could push Aya that night. He contented himself with savoring the flavor of the younger manís lips, and with how right it felt to hold him in his arms once again. When he felt the younger man overcome his startlement and tense up, Yohji ended the kiss and stepped back quickly. Noting the glare that the red head was giving him, he winked back in return. Smiling at the amused Seiichi, Yohji waved goodbye. "Keep an eye on the kitten for me. Iíll see you at home, love. Take care." The blond decided that it would be in his best interest to beat a hasty retreat at that time.
Heading back into the bar, Aya ignored the grin his co-worker was giving him. "Guess itís back to work for the kitten, huh?"
As the red head made for his section of the bar, a new litany was beginning in his head. ĎMust not kill Yohji. Must not kill YohjiÖÖÖí
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