Author: Penguin-sama PM
YAOI. Sometimes you have to learn to see past the exterior. Rating for language.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Youji K. & Aya/Ran F. - Chapters: 16 - Words: 42,675 - Reviews: 131 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 20 - Updated: 05-22-09 - Published: 05-22-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4271670
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is actually the third incarnation of an older fic and I STILL have no idea where it's going. Thus, there's more fluff than plot here (Bridges fans, you know what I'm talking about). If you want plot, go check out Fealty.
This began as an expirament - seeing if I could reveal one character's growth through the eyes of another. Thus, much of this is from one single point of view. Hope you enjoy - and please forgive me: I'm in a hurry and don't have time to edit it right now.
"Damn it all to hell !" Yohji Kudoh cursed with seething vehemence, slamming his gloves down on the kitchen table. Exhaustion, both mental and physical, made his hand tremble as he raked it back through the tangled rats' nest that had once been his beloved golden curls. He hoped that blood and sweat and mud were the only things marring his precious locks, and made a quick mental note to schedule a long appointment with his stylist asap.
Gods but he needed a drink!
"A little help?" a voice called crossly.
The mission tonight was going down in Yohji's books as one of the worst failures ever. He couldn't think of a single thing that hadn't gone wrong.
Too tired to argue, the blonde moved back to the kitchen door to hold it open. Omi, perhaps sensing weakness in his friend's defenses, spared a moment to pierce him with a tired glare before he hitched Ken's arm more securely around his shoulders.
Omi had never been very good at holding a grudge, though, and Yohji was quite sure he looked every bit as bad as he felt . Omi's glare softened after only a few moments.
"Thanks, Yotan," he mumbled as he passed, helping the limping Ken up the back stairs and into the kitchen.
"Yeah, sure," the older blonde sighed. His eyes shifted past his two teammates and into the night outside, and he stared until his vision adjusted enough for him to make out a pair of eyes watching him, cat-like, almost glowing, through the darkness. "You want me to hold the door?" he called.
Silence. The feline-ish gaze darted away.
In Aya-speak, that usually meant 'no.'
"Man needs to get laid in the worst way…" Yohji mumbled under his breath, letting the screen slam shut behind him. Omi had already begun the process of helping Ken up the stairs, and there wasn't room for a third to help – as if Yohji would have, anyway! he thought – and so he headed back across the room, straight for the fridge.
Drinking himself into oblivion, he decided, was the only way to make this night salvageable.
"Yotan!" Omi called suddenly from upstairs.
"Not now, kiddo – you missed your chance."
"I need help, please!"
"Daddy's getting' his booze on!"
Yohji found himself staring at the fresh, completely unmolested six-pack that had been chilling in the refrigerator, waiting for him, since early afternoon.
"Just one," he decided, whispering to the beers in much the same way as he would whisper to a lover. "One little drink, and then I'll go help the kid. One eensy weensy, life-giving drink…"
Yohji hung his head. Omi was code-naming him, which meant there wasn't time for 'just one' because he would try to murder him if he didn't come immediately .
"Fu-ck…" Yohji whimpered, and he slammed the refrigerator door closed hard enough that he could hear things rattle inside. "What do you need, Omi?" he called reluctantly.
"First aid kit! It should be under the sink!"
"Damn it…" he groaned as he squatted to look through the cabinets. He spared a glance at the kitchen door, but Aya hadn't come in yet.
So much for the idea of shoving the chore off on his leader.
Yohji found the little white box, and groaned again as he rose. His legs ached from the damned mission. Each step he took was suddenly painful as, working as one, each and every joint decided to protest being forced into motion without the sweet motivation alcohol so efficiently provided.
Ken's room wasn't any smaller than any of the others', but it always seemed that way. Cluttered with trophies, framed photos, and equipment from every sport imaginable, it always smelled vaguely of sweat to Yohji.
"Whore idea was it to cut power to the elevators first , anyway?" he complained as he entered the room. They must have spent half the night running up and down flights of stairs. "I am so fucking tired !"
"We're all fucking tired!" Omi snapped impatiently, past the point of being cute or affectionate, as Yohji tossed the first aid kit onto his lap and moved to slump, exhausted, on the end of the bed.
"You're too young to be tired," the blonde muttered. He glanced at Ken, who was usually the first to scold when their youngest teammate used foul language – something about "kids being kids for as long as possible," which usually resulted in a giant fight and a week-long sulk-fest – but tonight the athlete was either too tired to care, or being an even bigger baby about his stupid sprained ankle than he'd been during the long drive home.
Omi had the other assassin stripped down to his boxers and lying on his back on the bed and Yohji, much to his own disappointment, was too tired even to tease.
"You need to get some sleep, chibi." Yohji said finally, noting how pale and tired Omi looked. He had to raise his voice to be heard over Ken's fake whimpers. "Have you done your homework yet?"
"I kinda had other things on my mind," Omi mumbled, trying to coax Ken into moving his ankle.
"Well, whatever you have left, just leave it tonight, okay?" Yohji suggested. He was tired, but damn it if the kid didn't bring out something protective in him. And you can stay home from school tomorrow, too," he added.
"I'm serious! You stay home, and if almighty leader Aya has a problem with it, you just send him my way, all right? Papa Yotan will even sign your excuse note."
Omi hesitated, then sighed. He looked up at Yohji with a wane smile.
"Sure," he said. "Thanks, Yotan."
"Good!" Yohji gave an emphatic nod, convinced he had done his good deed for the day. "Anything else you need, or can I go get hammered now? I'm gonna need a couple drinks in my system if I'm gonna have to look at Ken in his boxers for much longer."
"I don't want that idiot touching me!" Ken protested quickly, momentarily forgetting his pity act.
"Bit me, all right? Ass. 'Scuse me for trying to help. I'm just trying to make things easier for Omi."
"You? Help ?" Ken laughed.
"Yotan's been a big help, ken!" Omi said quickly, before a fight could erupt. "And I'm very grateful to him!"
"See Kenken? I am helpful."
"Yes! Helpful!" Omi repeated. "And now the best help you would be is if you went to check on Aya for me!"
"Aya !" Yohji was taken aback by the very idea .
"I think that guy in the hat managed to cut him up pretty good."
"When did that happen?" they had cornered their targets – after what felt like an eternity of running up stairs – on the roof of an office building. Desperate men, one of them had managed to grab Aya to use as a hostage, but it had only been a few moments before the leader of Weiss had managed to get his sword arm free. The man's head had been flying off the roof before Yohji had even realized Aya was in danger.
"Yotan, if you could go and take care of Ayan for me, I could go to bed as soon as I'm finished here. You know – instead of staying up for the rest of the night trying to convince him to let me give him stitches."
Omi, Yohji realized with a scowl, was far too skilled at looking helpless and innocent. Even fully aware of the fact he was being manipulated, the older blonde found saying no to those huge puppy eyes impossible.
"And what makes you think the bastard will let me close enough to patch him up?" Yohji argued weakly. It was his personal theory that Aya was afraid of needles, though he'd never be stupid enough to admit that suspicion out loud. In any case, giving the man any sort of medical attention usually required chasing him around for hours .
"Oh, now, Yotan, that's not fair! He's really gotten much better!"
Ken snickered. Loudly.
Until Yohji "accidentally" bumped his injured ankle.
"You know what, chibi?" he asked with forced lightness, knowing he had no choice but to relent. "Fine. Yeah – I'll do it. There's just one thing I want you to think about after I'm gone."
Omi selected the ankle brace from the first aid kit and handed him the box with a bright smile.
"What is that, Yotan?" he asked lightly.
"I want you to think about the very real possibility that our beloved leader will murder me in cold blood the minute I walk into his room uninvited. I'm not cute like you, kid – I have no defense! And if he kills me, where will that leave Weiss?"
"Shopping for your replacement," Ken answered.
"Oh! I hope the new guy has a nice car!"
"Omi! " Yohji clutched a hand to his chest.
"Of course I'm teasing, Yotan. I have complete confidence that you'll survive his injuries – I wouldn't send you otherwise."
"We'll be sure to keep your feeding tube from getting clogged!" Ken added. His laughter turned into a sudden, pained yelp.
Omi blinked innocently at him.
"Oh!" he exclaimed. "I'm sorry, Ken! Was your ankle not supposed to turn that way?"
"Now that's what I call a nice note to leave on," Yohji grinned. "Have fun with nurse Omi, Kenken. You've earned it."
"Maybe this time you'll think twice before letting yourself get injured," Omi'a voice was a cheerful companion to Ken's suddenly very real whimpers.
As Yohji closed the door after himself, he sent up a silent prayer that Omi tortured the hell out of Ken. Then, gathering his courage, he headed down the hall toward Aya's room.
The door was closed – which meant the man had finally come inside and gone straight up to his room without so much as checking on any of his teammates.
"Sweet man," Yohji mumbled under his breath. He shoved his hands into his pockets and tried to decide who scared him more – Omi or Aya. If he dared to enter Aya's room – the inner sanctuary itself – without permission, Yohji had no doubt he would find a katana shoved far enough up his ass for him to taste steel.
But…then again…if he didn't at least try to do what Omi had asked of him, the kid would find ways to torture him that would be so unspeakably evil he couldn't even fathom them.
"What the hell do you want?"
The icy voice of Aya Fujimiya had been enough to make grown men soil themselves before they ever saw the sword or the glare. It greeted Yohji with harsh impatience as he pushed open the door, and damn it but he had to keep walking in anyway.
The room was completely dark, and it was several moments before Yohji was able to pick out the small form of his leader sitting on the bed. Turning on the lights was suicidal, but so was disobeying Omi. Yohji had no choice.
Aya's retinas contracted, but that was the only visible reaction Yohji could see. The damned man didn't so much as flinch at the sudden brightness. He was utterly motionless, and the only clue that he might be hurt was his posture – slightly slumped, an arm around his midsection, shoulders heavy. His glare was sharp, dark, and terrifying.
"What the hell do you want?" he repeated, impatience rising in his voice.
Yohji tried to replicate one of Omi's 'cute and harmless' smiles, and held the first aid kit out in front of him as if it were some magical shield that would protect him.
"I come in peace," he said. "The chibi sent me."
Aya only grunted and continued to glare suspiciously.
"It's no big deal, but Omi wanted me to check on you, see? Harmless and well-meaning. That's me."
Those violet eyes narrowed, promising violence, and Yohji sighed.
"Look, Aya…if you're hurt, then someone's gotta help you out. Omi's exhausted, and Ken's gonna milk that stupid twisted ankle for all its worth. The only one left is me. So why not suck up your disappointment and not make this harder than it has to be? I don't know about you, but I'd like to be able to pass out in my own friggen' bed sometime before sunrise."
Aya grunted again, and his glare didn't lessen. Yohji had to fight to keep his jaw from dropping in shock when, stone-faced and silent, the small man stood and shrugged carefully out of his mission coat.
"You're really gonna make it this easy?" he asked. "My plea for human empathy worked ?"
Aya ignored him.
Out of all the men of Weiss, Aya was the only one whose bedroom connected to a private bathroom – a bathroom, Yohji had learned the hard way, which the man did not share. Without a word to Yohji, he headed there now, and the blonde could only follow – guessing (and hoping he was right) that the man really had given him permission to look at his wounds.
Aya was easing himself down on the edge of the tub, and his movements were slow, careful, and clearly pained. His shirt clung wetly to his small frame – and Yohji knew that sweat wasn't the culprit.
"You're…that…that's a lot of blood, man," Yohji said uselessly.
Aya didn't answer, instead beginning the careful process of peeling the shirt off. The blood had begun to dry, the wound to clot, and a few times the shirt tried to catch on it, but Aya ignored it as if he didn't notice.
Yohji had never imagined the man's body was so frail. His skin was impossibly pale, stretched tightly over his bones and small muscles with little to no trace of anything resembling healthy fat – as if he had purposefully worked to streamline his entire form by any means necessary, and without thought for his future health.
"It's started bleeding again," Aya stated. "Do something or get out."
He looked impossibly fragile as he sat on the edge of the tub, staring at Yohji with frozen expectancy. There were scars on his small body – mostly small, all fading pinkly into that fair skin – the usual fare for an assassin. On that small body, they looked harsh and cruel. That body was not built for pain.
His new wounds were even worse.
And there was no doubt they, too, would leave their mark.
"Stop gaping at me like an idiot. It looks worse than it is."
The man who had grabbed Aya had made quick work with his knife. Maliciously, going for pain, rather than death, he had managed to cause multiple slashes before Aya had killed him. By far the deepest was a nick just at the hollow of his throat. Caused by the very tip of the knife and less than two inches long, it could have meant the end of the leader of Weiss had his assailant been just a tad more fortunate.
"Forget it. Get the hell out." Aya rose swiftly.
The rest of his body had been fairly well protected by the leather of his coat. The other slashes, though long and bloody, were also thin and shallow, and most would probably not even need many stitches. The one along his forearm might interfere with his swordwork a little, and the long, jagged gash trailing from his chest to his midsection was bound to make most movements more than a little uncomfortable in the weeks to come, but, barring infection, he was going to be fine.
"Where do you think you're going?" Yohji demanded as he tried to push past him. His movements indicated discomfort, and the blonde wondered if the other man hadn't dislocated something when pulling his sword around.
"Krittiker has scheduled us for our annual physicals in two days," the small man bit out. "They can check me then."
"In two days?"
"Better than allowing a slack-jawed idiot to touch me," he seethed.
"Now you hold just one damn minute!" Yohji didn't miss his wince as he grabbed him by the shoulders and deposited him firmly on the edge of the tub once more. "Slack-jawed and idiot are a little harsh, but I've been given a mission and damn it if I'm not gonna see that it gets done!"
"I'm patching you up whether you like it or not, even if I have to use force. I'll tackle you to the ground and break your legs before I'll tell Omi I let you scare me away from helping him out – so sit there and shut up and stop being a damn bastard about it!"
Yohji had little experience with glaring. Charm, humor, and good-old-fashioned sex appeal was generally all that was needed to get what he wanted and intimidation was, quite frankly, a tool he rarely attempted to use.
Thus, he severely doubted that the 'scary face' he was attempting to direct at his leader was even half way as frightening as the look he was getting in return, but something seemed to have an effect on the stubborn son of a bitch for, after a moment longer of glowering at him, the man looked away.
"That's more like it," Yohji said with a nod, taking the breaking of eye-contact for the best consent he was likely to receive. He quickly washed his hands at the sink before opening the first aid kit.
It was hardly a dignified position, sitting on the closed lid of the toilet seat, the kit clutched between his knees, but he wasn't about to complain when he had been lucky to make it this far in the first place. Determined to fight the urge to rush to finish, Yohji vowed he would do the damn finest job patching up a teammate Weiss had ever seen.
"This happened right after we reached the roof, right?" he asked, starting to clean the wound on his arm first.
Aya was silent for a long moment before finally grunting a quiet "Yes."
"But you took out, like, three other guys after this bastard, didn't you?"
Again, a stretch of silence. Antisocial and unpleasant as Aya usually was, Yohji had the supreme luck of pissing him off, as well. He was, naturally, a joy to speak to.
"What," he demanded at last, "Is your point?"
"Just…well…" Yohji hesitated, and wondered if he wouldn't have been better off keeping his damned mouth closed. Awkward silences drove him crazy, but they were a hell of a lot safer than attempting to converse with someone like Aya. "I'm not sure I would have done it, that's all."
"Cut the hell up, blood everywhere, pain…I mean, I think I woulda' decided to let the rest of us take care of the guys who were left. Nobody would have blamed you if you had – no one blamed Ken when he wimped out on the twelfth floor and refused to go the final seven with us, did they?"
Silence, then: "Didn't you call him an ass bastard fuck hat, and tell him he should be too ashamed to show his face in public ever again?"
"That was just friendly encouragement."
Aya grunted. For a wonder, it almost sounded amused.
"Anyway," Yohji continued, moving to the abdomen slash after wrapping the arm wound. Without being asked, Aya leaned back to give him better access. "It woulda' been different with you, wouldn't it? I mean, you aren't Ken. Thank the gods."
"And, you know, you aren't me , either, which means you definitely could have gotten away with it – and we should be fucking thankful, too, 'cause the ladies of the world couldn't handle two of me. But, y'know, just because you aren't Ken and you aren't me and, hell, you aren't Omi either, that doesn't mean…"
"Well…it doesn't mean you aren't human. It's okay for you to take a break once in a while, right? I mean, how many hours a day do you spend training?"
"I have to lead the Weiss."
Yohji urged him to tilt his head back so that he could begin the delicate task of seeing to the final wound, and Aya complied coldly, but without argument. It was quiet for a moment as Yohji cleaned out the wound and thought.
"A good leader knows when he's pushed his body too far," he said at last. "After all, if you died, then that would leave Omi in charge and, just between the two of us, I just don't think the chibi is ready for that kind of responsibility.
Aya didn't answer.
"I don't know what you're fighting for," Yohji said quietly, "But even a stubborn, single-minded jackass like you has got to know that dying is the last thing that's gonna help you reach your goal."
This time, the silence that fell was lasting. Yohji finished up and took a moment to survey his work. His stitches weren't exactly pretty, but they served their purpose well enough. At least no one would accuse him of doing a half-assed job of it. He tested Aya's shoulder for a sprain, but found it difficult to gauge when the man was so blank to signs of pain.
"At the very least, I think you twisted it, so no heavy lifting until you talk to the doctor, okay?" Yohji attempted a smile, but the man only stared at him. "Look – just…try to be a little easier on this body of yours, okay?" on impulse, and because the urge to annoy was such a very persistent one, he took the nearly-suicidal risk and reached out to tug on a strand of Aya's hair. Although the man didn't react at all, the air around them suddenly became pressingly full of menace.
Yohji rose and held his hands out harmlessly in front of himself.
"Okay!" he laughed. "Okay, I'm leaving!"