It was a sunny day, and Ran was at the ocean with his family. Tired from playing in the water, he was resting on a blanket, listening to the roar of the surf. Aya-chan was lying next to him, basking in the warmth of the sun. She was pointing to the sky, remarking about one interesting cloud formation after another. Ran tried to concentrate on what she was saying, but the crash of the waves kept drowning out her voice. Becoming more and more frustrated, he sat up to look at herÖ..
And woke up. Disoriented.
It was so rare that his dreams were this pleasant. Normally they were filled with guilt and loss and blood. Trying to hold on to the rapidly disappearing fragments of the reverie, Aya gradually noticed two things. That he could still feel the warmth of the sun, and still hear the ocean. The swordsman quickly opened his eyes, and was greeted by a rather unexpected sight.
Curled up next to him was a sleeping Yohji, one golden arm flung over the smaller manís waist. Here was the source of warmth, and the manís gentle snores had obviously been the inspiration for the ocean soundtrack. The longer Aya tiredly stared at the sleeping blond, the more he recalled the previous evening. About the fight, and then returning home and patching up the playboy. About what happened after that, lying on the bed as Yohji made him feel so good, with his lips and tongue and hands. What they had almost done, before Yohji had pulled back and put an end to things.
The redhead felt himself start to blush as he remembered that last bit. He had been so lost in the passion Yohji had brought out in him. Maybe he would have just given in, consequences be damned, if the older man hadnít stopped things. That thought scared him a bit, at how easy it was for him to lose all his precious control at the blondís caresses. It was also a small blow to his pride that it had been Yohji who had come to his senses first. Aya was supposed to be the one in charge, but ever since the blond had startedÖ.. whatever this thing was between them, it had been the younger man who did all the following.
Not feeling up to his best, Aya decided to end this train of thought. If he kept at it, his headache was sure to return. He already felt the tension forming behind his eyes. There would be plenty of time to figure out this mess after the mission was completed. Until then, he would just have to make sure to keep some space between himself and the older man.
Course of action decided, the swordsman began to shift away from Yohjiís embrace, careful not to wake the man. Sitting gingerly on the side of the bed, he glanced around the room, searching for the alarm clock. Finding the much battered timepiece, he noticed it was almost eight in the morning. Omi would be on his way to school, and that meant Ken was alone in the flowershop. Friday was one of their busiest days, and the athlete could use all the help he could get in setting up the shop. Taking into account Yohjiís ribs and sprained ankle, it was a good bet that he wouldnít be of much use today. Even though the red head felt as if he could use some more sleep, he knew he was needed downstairs. Aya quietly went about gathering up his clothes and headed to the bathroom. Roommates accounted for, he didnít need to worry about meeting anyone along the way.
As he readied things for his shower, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. Staring at the image, the first thing that drew his attention was how tired he appeared, his eyes ringed with dark circles. As his gaze traveled downwards, he found himself hard pressed to not shout an obscenity out loud. Standing out rather distinctly from the two fading bruises on his neck was another set. And it didnít end there. From his collarbone down was a broken line of the things. ĎThat bastard, what the /hell/ was he thinking?í It was obvious that the red head would be wearing turtlenecks for several more days to come. Muttering to himself about the things he would just /love/ to do to a certain playboy, all of them involving sharp objects, he stepped into the shower. An occasional "shi-ne" and "Yohji" could be heard over the sound of running water.
Ken watched Aya walk into the Koneko with a sense of relief. There were plenty of orders waiting to be prepared, and the store traffic was always busier on the weekend. He had begun to worry that he would have to take care of arrangements and counter by himself. Knowing that the two older members of Weiss had been out late again covering the mission, he had been reluctant to wake either up. ĎShould of known, Hidaka, to count on Aya waking up early. I donít think the man understands the meaning of sleeping in.í
Noticing the other manís pallor and bruised-looking eyes, Ken felt a stab of guilt. He had managed to stay in the night before, compiling his notes, while the red head had been out working what came down to as two jobs. Even though the brunet had spent most of the night going through his interviews in search of some leads, he realized that he must of gotten a better nightís sleep, despite rising early. He just hoped the two assassins had found something to make the exhaustion worthwhile.
Aya merely nodded to his roommate and made his way back to his work table. Content to leave the red head in peace, Ken busied himself with preparing the shop for customers. He continued to cover the front of the shop after it opened, dealing with the customers by himself. As lunchtime neared and there was still no sign of the blond gracing his teammates with his presence, Ken sought out the quiet man for some answers.
The red head kept working on a arrangement of roses and ivy.
"Aya, whereís Yohji at?"
Still no response. Sighing, Ken picked up a rose and bopped the older man on the nose with it. That earned him one of Ayaís more potent glares. Well, at least I have his attention now, the brunet thought ruefully.
"Is Yohji going to be joining us soon, or do we need to drag him out of bed?í
Sometimes it was refreshing to work with such a reserved individual, especially after spending a day with a genki teenager and a hormone driven playboy. But there were times, such as now, when Ayaís reticent nature got on oneís nerves. Actually, that tended to happen a lot. Ken was hoping to get a simple, inclusive answer without having to play Twenty Questions. He felt the urge to sigh again.
"And why is that."
Aya put down the ivy and pruning shears heíd been working with, and rubbed his nose. After a minute, he responded. "Because he was in a fight last night."
Counting to ten, the brunet decided to try yet again. "You know, Aya, if you just tell me the whole story, I can go away and stop bothering you all the quicker."
Crossing his arms, the red head icily regarded the shorter man. "There was a fight at Bacchus last night. Yohji got injured during it. Heís probably still in bed asleep, and I would be surprised if heís able to help out down here today. His ribs are bruised, and he can barely walk." Conversation finished, Aya resumed his task.
Torn between being thankful that he actually got more than two sentences in a row out of the man, and annoyance about how much of the story was left out, Ken decided to just throw in the towel and go back up front. It was looking to be a real winner of a day.
Waking up to the feeling that something was missing, Yohji rolled onto his back and stretched out his arms. Or tried to. The action was abruptly halted at the stab of pain from his ribs. Fully awake due to the pain, the previous nightís events rushed back to the blond. The fight at the bar, and then the ride home. Making out with his kitten, and falling asleep with the younger man in his arms. Gingerly levering himself up on his arms as he winced from the sting of abused muscles, Yohji surveyed the room. "Shit." There was no sign of the red head. What a surprise. Knowing how improbable it was, yet hoping all the same, Yohji had thought that maybe Aya would still be there when he woke up. No such luck. And he had had such delicious plans on how to wake the man up. He wondered what time Aya had fled the room. Hell, he wondered what time it was now.
Careful to keep everything from his shoulders down immobile, Yohji turned his head until he spotted his clock. It was after one oíclock. Cursing again, he lowered himself back into the bed. His injuries hurt a hell of a lot more today than last night. Then again, he had had adrenaline and hormones on his side the previous evening. With Aya most likely busy in the flowershop, Yohji didnít think there would be any amazing make-out sessions to distract him any time soon.
The playboy just laid there in bed, thoughts returning to Aya and his responses the night before. Yohji could still clearly recall just how the red head had tasted, and the feel of that smooth skin under his hands. The passionate noises the smaller man had made, sounding so much like his nickname. His cock was becoming hard just remembering everything. Yohji wondered if he had enough energy to limp on down to the bathroom to take a cold shower and some pain meds. Maybe, if he focused hard enough on it, Aya would magically appear at his door with a tray of food and medication, and join him in bed. Stranger things had happened. Imaging what the two men could get up to together, Yohji drifted in and out of sleep.
Jolted awake by the sound of his door being opened, Yohji sat up, aches and pain forgotten in anticipation of seeing his kitten. His smile fell, however, when he realized it was Omi entering the room, and not Aya. It seemed that the gods had a rather warped sense of humor this afternoon. Debating whether or not to fall back onto the bed, the playboy noticed that he was still hard from his Aya fantasies, and hunched over. He hissed slightly from the pain.
"Are you feeling alright, Yohji-kun?" Omi peered at his friend with concern. The boy had returned from school to find the Koneko no Sume Ie filled with customers. With Ken busy at the register, Omi asked Aya where the final member of Weiss was. He had been quietly informed "In bed, go check on him."
Fumbling blindly about, Yohji found his cigarettes and lighter. "Not quite, kiddo. I feel like a gorilla jumped up and down on my chest." Lighting a cigarette, he slowly drew in a breath, feeling the ache in his chest. "Which isnít that far off the mark. Be a good little chibi and get me some painkillers."
Omi blinked at this bit of news, and then left the room. He returned shortly, with a bottle of medicine and a glass of water. Sitting on the bed, he handed the glass to the older man. He opened the bottle, and spilled a couple of the pills onto Yohjiís open palm. Waiting for the man to finish drinking, Omi asked what had happened.
"You mean Aya didnít tell you?"
Omi shook his head. "No, itís a bit crazy down in the shop right now. When I asked him where you were, he just told me to come up here and see how you were doing. I think him and Ken have been busy all day."
Somewhat mollified upon hearing that his red head had been too busy to check up on him, Yohji recounted the tale. At least up until the point Aya had finished patching him up. He didnít want the boy to have a massive nosebleed, and his body had finally calmed down. Feeling the meds starting to kick in, he leaned back in bed. Omi quickly reached forward to help arrange the pillows to support him.
"Yohji, do you think that bartender, Mickey, was really out to hurt those guys?"
"It sure looked like it, Omi. The one guy definitely had some broken bones from that hit he took. Whyíd you ask?"
Patting the older blond on the hand, Omi stood up. "No time for that now. They need me downstairs in the shop. Will you be able to join us for dinner, and another meeting afterwards?"
"I should be able to drag myself downstairs, food sounds real good." Right now Yohji was offering prayers of thanks to whoever had invented painkillers.
Noticing how much more relaxed the playboy seemed, Omi paused on his way to the door. "I know that Ayaís pretty skilled at doctoring, but do you want me to check out your injuries for you?"
Waving the teenager away, Yohji replied back. "Nah, all in all, Iíd say Aya did a really good job last night." Omi headed back down to the shop, wondering what had made Yohji smirk the way he did after that comment.
Almost numb with exhaustion, Aya walked into the kitchen, intent on setting the table while Omi and Ken got the takeout. He didnít expect to be greeted with the sight of Yohji sprawled out at the table, sprained ankle propped up in another chair. "Hn."
"And konban wa back at you, beautiful," the blond drawled out. "How ya doing?" The red head was leaning against one of the spare chairs. He had dressed in white pants and a black turtleneck, complete with a red scarf wrapped around his neck. The outfit only accentuated the manís paleness, but Yohji guessed it couldnít be helped. The swordsman had evidently needed to wear something to cover up bruises that had been left on his throat. Smiling in remembrance at how fun it had been to leave those marks, Yohji noticed a pair of violet eyes narrow in anger. He carefully schooled his expression into something less likely to get him hit.
Guessing what had caused the playboy to smile like that, especially after that green gaze had lingered on his neck, Aya moved over to the cupboard to grab some plates. Omi would have a fit if he came back with dinner and found Aya killing the other man. Hands safely occupied, Aya shot back, "Shouldnít I be asking how you are?" He went about setting the table, giving the blond a wide berth.
"I think Iíll live. For some odd reason I had a really good night of sleep." Yohji observed his kitten going about his chore, studiously avoiding the taller manís eyes. "However, the waking part wasnít as great. Neither was suffering alone all day." He sat there, waiting for a silent Aya to come a little closer. Spying his chance, he wrapped one long arm around a slender waist and pulled the red head onto his lap. He tried not to wince too much when Aya fell against his chest.
"Yohji let me go. Ken and Omi will be back any minute." Squirming to get free, the red head stilled when he heard the older man hiss in pain. He was looking at the door when he felt a hand reach up to brush back his bangs, and then turn his face to gaze into serious green eyes.
"Aya, you worry too much. You could of stayed there, you know. There was no reason for you to leave before I woke up. Itís clear you needed the sleep." Yohjiís voice was uncharacteristically subdued.
Aya tried to brush away the hand still cupping his chin, only to have it entwine long fingers with his as it lowered to his lap. "If Iíd waited for you to wake up, Iíd have spent half the day in bed. Ken needed someone to help him out in the shop."
"Cheap excuse." Yohji bent his head towards the face tilted up before him, never breaking eye contact with the younger man.
"Yohji, why do you keep doing this to me?"
Hesitating at the confused tone, the blond answered back truthfully. "Because I want you too much." Bridging the last bit of distance, he began kissing with as much tenderness and love as possible.
After a minute, Aya let out a sigh and leaned into the embrace. He brought his free hand up to comb back the blondís hair. ĎSo much for my resolve,í the swordsman thought tiredly. But there was something different about this kiss, almost as if Yohji was trying to tell him something. He was still puzzling out what whenÖÖ.
"Aya! Weíre back! Can you go tell Yohji that dinnerís here, oh, um, hi guys." Takeout bags in hand as he entered the room, Omi gazed at the scene in front him. Aya was opening the fridge door, as Yohji had one arm wrapped around his ribs. The other was massaging his ankle, which was resting on the floor. "You feeling better now, Yohji?"
"More or less," the blond muttered, covertly glaring at a certain red head. Only Aya could manage whapping him in the ribs while knocking his ankle off the chair, all at the same time as he leapt to his feet. Not for one moment did he believe that it had been an accident. Especially since the man was meeting his glare with an innocent expression that the blond instantly recognized as a copy of his own. It appeared that his kitten was learning more than just kissing from the playboy.
Placing a pitcher of juice on the table, Aya settled back in his chair. That had been enjoyable. It was about time the blond idiot got some payback. He was just lucky that the two younger Weiss hadnít caught them in the act, so to speak. Yohjiíd be dealing with a lot more than sore ribs and ankle.
Dinner was a quick affair, as all four of the young men hadnít had much to eat that day. Little was said besides pass this or that. Feeling full, Aya stood up to clear his dishes and to make some coffee. Omi joined him in clearing the rest of the plates, as Ken put away the leftovers. Coffee brewing, the men sat back down at the table.
Picking at his napkin, Omi started the conversation. "I guess you guys know what comes next. Yohji , how did it go last night at the Velvet Room?"
Glancing over at the coffee pot, the oldest member of Weiss made a noise of frustration. "Not nearly as well as I hoped it would. So far there havenít been any hits on your list, chibi. Iím supposed to go back in a few days, maybe Iíll have better luck then."
"Yohji, there were six men on that list. Are you telling me that none of the guys matched the profile? How many did you meet?"
"Four of them. One was old enough to be my grandfather at least, and didnít look like he was capable of hauling guys around like our target does. Another one wasnít much bigger than you."
Yohji paused as Aya rose from the table to grab the coffee pot. Filling some mugs, he put one each in front of his teammates. Something seemed to startle him as he was putting down Yohjiís, and he spilled a little coffee. Yohji grabbed Omiís napkin and wiped up the mess, humming to himself softly.
"Everything alright, Aya-kun?"
When it became apparent that the swordsman was not going to elaborate, Omi returned his attention to Yohji. "Well?"
Swallowing his coffee, Yohji offered the youth a smile. "I recognized the other two, and somehow I doubt either of them is who weíre looking for." Sparing an amused glance Kenís way, the blond elaborated. "One of them is Souichiro Tezuka."
Omi bit back a smile as Kenís jaw literally dropped to the table. Noting Ayaís confused look, the teenager decided to clue the red head in. "Tezuka is a pretty well known soccer player. I think Ken has a poster of him in his room." The brunetís mouth was still gaping like a fish.
Yohji couldnít resist any longer, "I always knew you were hentai, Kenken, but I never thought this much. So just how big a fan of this guy are you?"
Ken just sat there, mouth moving, but no sound coming out. Omi took pity on him and attempted to steer the conversation on to something else. "And the other guy?"
"Oh, I think Aya might be able to help us out with this one." Stunned silence from Ken and Omi met this remark. Aya just raised an eyebrow and waited for the playboy to continue. "It took me a while to remember where I saw him before, but eventually I figured it out. His picture has been in those magazines Aya reads." Yohji smiled back at the red head. The red head was still for a moment, and then got up from the table. As he was standing up, Yohji let out a yelp and a curse.
Watching Aya leave the room, Omi inquired worriedly. "Something wrong Yohji?"
Once again rubbing his sprained ankle, the older man glared at the doorway. "Nah, just bumped my ankle against the chair." ĎMan, couldnít Aya have kicked the other ankle? Guess the heís a bit mad about that pinch.í
Aya walked back into the room, carrying several financial magazines. He handed them to Yohji, careful not to get too close. After a few minutes of flipping through the magazines, the blond sat up and pointed at a page. "Thatís him, uh, Masato Ito. Who the hell is he, Aya?"
Sitting back down, the red head wrapped his hands around his warm mug. "Heís an assistant to the Minister of Finance. Considering that he spent the past two weeks in Taiwan, he canít be considered as a suspect."
Finally finding his voice, Ken joined in. "Neither can Tezuka. He was away on a promotional tour most of last month. He wouldnít have been in town for at least two of the assaults."
"Thatís what I figured. Even if they had been in town, Tezuka at least would of stood out if heíd been barhopping in search of victims. Keep your fingerís crossed that the last two on the list turn out better than this group." Yohji stared longingly at the coffee pot, teasingly set just out of reach. Aya hid a slight smirk as he finished off the last of his drink. Omi finally took pity on the crippled man, and got up to refill everyoneís mugs. Yohji smiled in thanks. "So, where does that leave us now? You and Ken find anything last night?"
The two younger men spared each other a glance. At Omiís nod, Ken began to discuss their research. "Well, itís not all bad that fetish club lead isnít working out. Omi and I discovered something that all five of the victims have in common. At some point on the night they were abducted, each of them had spent time in the same bar."
A bad feeling was starting to build in Yohjiís stomach. "Donít tell me, they were all at Bacchus those nights."
Ken nodded his head. "Yep. I donít see how the police missed that one. They really must not be trying to solve this case. The men were snatched after they had left the bar for the night, either on their way home or to another club. One of them had stopped briefly at the Velvet Room, but was still taken within an hour of leaving Bacchus." Glancing over at their silent teammate, the brunet added, "Looks like you did a good job picking which club to work for." Aya said nothing.
"So now, at least until you finish checking out those fetish guys Yohji, I guess we concentrate on Bacchus. Tonightís Friday, and this guy can strike as early as next Thursday. That doesnít leave us much time, considering how little weíve come up with right now. Iíd like more than one strong suspect in the next few days."
Aya fixed his gaze on the young blond at that comment. "Whoís this suspect."
"The foreign bartender at Bacchus, Mickey Stout." When Aya failed to comment any further, Omi became curious. "Why, donít you agree, Aya?"
"Come on Aya, Mickey almost caved manís head in with a bat last night. Donít you think itís highly possible that he might have some violent tendencies?" Yohji was trying to capture the other manís eyes, but the red head kept gazing down into his coffee mug.
"He was just defending Teddy."
"Well, he has a record of defending his brother a bit too overzealously." Both men looked over at Omi. "I found several closed police reports about men he sent to the hospital for bothering his brother. None of the guys pressed charges. And those arenít the only incidents. When he was eighteen, he got in a fight with his father, who needed medical attention afterwards. It seems that his father, an Army sergeant, was not happy to find out his youngest son was gay. He beat Teddy pretty bad, and when Mickey found out he attacked the older man. The Army hushed things up, and the father was transferred back to the States while the brothers stayed here in Japan."
Aya was shaking his head. "I just donít think itís him."
"Regardless, Iím going down to Bacchus tonight, and start asking questions there. Maybe see if there are any connections between the victims and the brothers. I know the first guy beaten worked there." Ken backed away from the table. "You need some help getting up the stairs Yohji?"
"Iíll help him back to his room." The three men stared at Aya. "I have to borrow something to wear tonight." Ken chuckled at this idea, and headed for the stairs. "See you later, Aya."
"Iím off to do some more background checks. Be careful, Aya-kun." Omi left the kitchen as well.
Walking over to the seated blond, Aya offered a hand. "Try pinching me again, and I will knock you down the stairs. Understood?"
"Youíre no fun, Kitten. We need to work on your sense of humor." Yohji placed an arm around the swordsmanís waist, holding on more tightly than necessary. Both men were silent until they reached the playboyís room. Aya dumped Yohji a bit roughly on his bed. Yep, definitely still mad about that pinch, the blond mused.
Opening Yohjiís closet, Aya viewed the outfits inside with some trepidation. "What do you have in here that will cover your handiwork?"
"Donít tell me thatís really the reason you helped me up here, Kitten."
"Stop calling me that. I think itís only fair that since you left the marks, you should help cover them up. Especially since Kenís going to be down at the bar tonight." The red head looked over his shoulder to glare at the older man. "Or do you want to explain to him how I got them?"
Yohji met the glare evenly. "I would have no problem at all explaining to him or Omi just how you got those things. Might be a learning experience for the boys."
"Hn." Aya resumed his search.
Not sure that the smaller man had gotten the point, Yohji craned his neck to peer into the closet. "I think thereís something that might do over by the green vest. No, the other one, more to the left. Yeah, thatís it, the black top."
Aya held the garment up. It was a long sleeved top in some type of shiny material. It zippered all the way down the front, and the high collar sported two slim straps. It should cover the hickeys on his neck and down his front. "Itíll do."
"Why, youíre welcome Aya, no problem at all." Not surprisingly, the red head ignored the comment. "You need anything to wear with that?"
"No, I have a pair of black leather pants that should work." Aya turned to close the closetís doors.
Hmm, how does that song go? ĎRed hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme.í Oh yeah, consider me a member of that club, Yohji thought dreamily. It was then that he noticed Aya heading to the door. "Hey, where are you going?"
Turning around, the red head sighed audibly. "Yohji, I have to get ready for work. Plus, I have no ride tonight."
"Hold on a minute, Iím coming with you." The blond struggled to get off the bed, cursing at the ache in his ribs. Aya walked over and pushed him back into the pillows.
"Youíre not going anywhere. You can barely walk, let alone drive. The last thing you need is to be in a crowded bar, what with those ribs. Stay in and mend up some."
Grasping at the hand on his chest, the blond yanked the smaller man down next to him. "If Omi and Ken are right about the place, you need someone to watch your back." That remark earned him an almost Shi-ne level glare.
"I keep telling you I can look after myself. Whoís the one all beat up, and you didnít even take part of the fight. Besides, Ken will be there. Now let go."
"No." A feeling very much like panic was overtaking the blond. "Ken can barely watch out for himself, and you expect him to keep an eye on you? No." He wasnít going to let it happen again. Heíd let someone heíd loved before go on without him, and heíd lost her forever. Now that he finally found someone beautiful and precious to love, he would be /damned/ if heíd let it happen again. Heíd hold on and never let go if he had to. "No."
Aya glared at the blond, scathing comment ready on his lips. However, one look at Yohjiís pale face and panic-filled eyes stopped him. He raised a slender hand to stroke the blondís cheek. "Yohji, whatís wrong."
"Iím not losing you, Aya."
Tugging on a long strand of hair, Aya tried to reply back as firmly as possible. "No, Yohji, youíre not. Iím just going out to work, and then Iíll be back. I swear. Thereís still another week left before the target will strike again. If youíre going to worry about anything, worry then. Now please, let me get ready."
Staring deep into violet eyes, Yohji wasnít ready to let go just yet. "Promise me youíll come back, Aya. Promise." The swordsman almost never promised anything. He was very choosy in the matter, because when he gave his word, heíd do absolutely /anything/ to keep it. If he promised heíd come back, then Yohji could let him go.
Pushing back the irritation he was starting to feel, Aya made the promise. Yohji slowly relaxed his grip, and quickly brushed back crimson bangs before the younger man got off the bed. The blond watched the man walk out of the room, pausing to look back before closing the door. He got off of the bed, ignoring the protests his abused body made. Grabbing his notes, he settled back down, intent on going over every little bit of information he had gathered for the mission so far. He sure as hell wasnít going to able to sleep while the kitten was gone. Might as well put his famed detective skills to work and see if he couldnít find out anything about their target.
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