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WAKING ONTO LANTERN'S BRIGHT
A Weiss Kreuz Fanfiction
By Deena (deena_arashi@hotmail.com)
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'Blackened rushes fill the night
Howling hopes as good as light
Seeing illusion's empty sight
Waking onto lantern's bright.'

Tightly closed letters packed onto the crumpled list, boldly marked in black ink over the faded
blue of last week's floral arrangements. The writing was small and nearly illegible, revealing
nothing about its marker. Even the words were faintly surreal, saying nothing on the surface
but forcing the reader to delve beneath the rhyme and discover what such a reticent being could
see. The paper crumpled slightly as those enigmatic lines were pondered upon. A tear of ribbon
uncoiling and the spray of water lightly hummed in the backdrop. A frown.

Chimes jingled above the glass door; ceased the examination of the black scribble and
meaningless meanings. Dark hair fell into dark eyes as a glance reached up at the newcomer.
Stony violet look that said nothing, raking dispassionately over the sun-splashed shop.
Muffledstrides over to those tattered, black aprons. Ends fraying, smudge of dirt on the
pockets. Pale hands deftly began a bougainvillea arrangement. Lush fuchsia petals, vivacious
against wan skin and that black apron. The back of his hand impatiently pushed back falling
locks as he shuffled towards the redhead.

"Hey Aya? You wrote this?"

Hooded plum eyes met his, than waved briefly over the creased scrap of paper. Slight tilt of
red hair as his attention plunged back to the flowers. That boy never said much, never wanted
anything from anyone. Only pieces of poetry splashed over written lists. Black strokes
seemingly empty with rhyme. Concealed thoughts burning in stoic isolation. Tired voice lost in
the shiny wake. Only this. For now...

"It's really good. What's it mean?"

Snip of the scissors as the flowers splashed onto the counter. Dying leaves were brushed
aside,falling onto the dirty linoleum floor. Omi's cheerful laughs and Yohji's throaty
chuckles wafted from the other side of the room. The smell of lilies and roses and gardenias.
Laughter outside and cars racing up the busy roads. Sunlight that wove around the glass
buildings and into the net of the city. Wind twisting through the trees, crying like a bitter
paradox.

"Nothing. It doesn't mean anything."

"But it's gotta mean something."

Silence, as was expected. Still snipping, still working. And nothing did matter for his
redhaired teammate. Only the motions. Retreated onto scraps of broken paper. Killer's misery
dying by the night. Fervent reprisal, the only true thing. Sometimes he just wanted to touch
him.

"Could I have it?"

That darkly violet gaze grabbed him, eyes narrowing. A flash of emotion glimmered briefly,
something dimly stark and latently pristine and than it was gone. The moment hung limply.
Thin hands guided the bright flowers into a slim vase, amidst a stock of delicate ferns.
White carnations were purposefully added for a splash of color. His voice was sullen.

"Do what you want."

********

Mops were a sad thing, Ken thought reflectively as he scrutinized the said appliance
industriously. Tall and rangy with furly locks that were constantly being plunged into
pailsof watery, foamy cleaner. Then you dragged the thing out and flung it across the floor,
rubbing it hard to clean the stained floor. What was the point? After one swipe of the floor,
the water got dirty. The whole thing was cleaned with grimy water. And the poor mop was still
dunked into the frothy mess. Oh it started out okay. Clean mop, fresh water and lemony-smelling
cleaner. Lots of bubbles and a sanitary bucket. But somewhere along the way, it was the floor
that won and the mop who lost. Who cleaned the mop? After a quick rinse, the poor thing was
just shoved aside to dry, until the next time when it was forced again and again into mucky,
filthy water. He really couldn't have conceived of a more depressing existing, well except
for being the ground. Which, in retrospect, was pretty bad too. At least the floor got mopped
and swept. But the ground was just a nothing. People trampled all over it, stomped on it in
anger, spat on it, littered on it, the list went on and on. It was also quite the dreary
existence.

Ken decided that he was the mop, not the ground. People didn't step all over him; it was
his job to kill those who tried to. No, he was certainly a mop. Continuously being plunged
straight into polluted and corrupt waters. Stepping onto the floor with pure, unsullied
hands and ending up polluted and bloody while the world supposedly sparkled. A quick rinse
had stopped being effective long ago. There were so many floors to clean and he didn't know
how to remove the stains from his hands. Like a mop, he'd given in to his fate. Complaining
was of no use but that didn't make his hands any less contaminated.

"You're gonna tear that thing straight to pieces."

Ken blinked in surprise and peered across the dark closet at his companion. The older boy was
surrounded in a haze of smoke, the glowing cigarette clamped firmly between his lips. He sat
sprawled on the floor with an artless grace that Ken could only envy. There was something
decidedly catlike about the blond. His silver shades gleamed in the darkness.

"Huh?"

Yohji gestured to the mop that lay on his lap with long, elegant fingers. "The mop. You're
shredding it with your claw. Some janitor is gonna be pissed."

Strands of the mop lay in his lap, torn. He hadn't even realized that he'd unsheathed his
claw and had been unconsciously ripping the mop. Resheathing his weapon, he brushed away the
shredded pieces but was unable to push the mop away. His fingers wove in between the lemony
fibers, his thoughts unfinished and in quiet disarray.

The older boy chuckled as he blew clouds of smoke towards the ceiling, making the disgusting
habit look utterly lofty. "Ditch the mop Kenken and let me find you someone real."

"Do you ever feel like a mop?"

A foolishly candid question that surprised even him. The words gushed out of his mouth,
startling him, so long as he'd just thought them. His gaze swung to his shoe, feigning great
interest in the scruff marks and dried mud, so as to appear unconcerned. He waited for other
boy to jeer and ridicule his question. But perhaps he'd underestimated the sensitivity of his
teammate for Yohji did neither.

A simple tone, not mocking, not jeering. "Why don't you ask Aya?"

Ken frowned, turning to look at the other boy. "Aya? What's he got to do with this?"

Flash of white teeth in the darkness. "He's more the philosophical type, don't you think?"

He shrugged uncomfortably, not wishing to talk about the silent redhead, and resumed his avid
shoe-scrutiny. "I wouldn't know."

"Ken."

"Yeah?"

"When are you gonna tell him?"

"Tell who what?"

"Tell Aya that you love him."

The mop slid off his lap and onto the floor with a sudden *thunk* that echoed unnaturally in
the black closet. There seemed to be a serious deficiency of air entering his lungs. His
vision doubled and tripled. The silence screamed in great gulps into his ears, drowning
out reason. He was aware of nothing as he desperately commanded his voice to work. Only a
meager croak exited his lips.

"What?!"

The faintest touch of a smile tinted Yohji's throaty voice. "When are you going to tell Aya
that you love him?"

Another minute passed as his throat convulsively worked but without sound. Finally Ken managed
a reply, albeit stuttering and jumbled. "I don't...I'm not...in the least...with, um, Aya...
I'm not...I'd never...oh God, how can you...SHUT UP YOHJI!"

He was so stunned, so horribly mortified in his loss of clarity that he could only lash out in
anger being as Yohji's remark had reduced him to a puddle of babbling unintelligence. This
absolutely, positively, no-holds-barred *sucked*.

"You can fool Omi, who's just a kid and of course you can fool Aya who's too damned preoccupied
with guilt and his imouto to notice but you can't fool me Ken. I've seen how you look him.
You love him." It wasn't a question but rather a statement.

The heavy breathing soccer player was poleaxed. Even subconsciously admitting to himself that
he was attracted to a fellow teammate, a violet eyed, redheaded, silent, moody teammate that
was a *boy* had been struggle enough but now another member was aware? Yohji the playboy,
Yohji the lady's man, Yohji the greatest lover since, hell since *ever*, now knew that Ken
was *very* attracted to Aya?

No, that was impossible. It couldn't be happening. It had to be a dream. Or a nightmare.
Anything but reality. It couldn't...he hadn't even had the time to come to terms with what he
felt for Aya. He didn't know what he wanted, whether he loved him or not. And now Yohji was
saying things and he knew and it wasn't fair!

Ken hastily decided that maybe death wouldn't be so bad. With his claw, he'd be a mushy mess
in no time Dead but not humiliated. Surely, surely that was better than this horrid
disaster...wasn't it?

"I'm bi Ken," the older boy remarked conversationally.

Thoughts of an elaborate suicide vanished. He stared blindly at the floor. "Huh?" Yohji's words
suddenly registered. "You're bi?" He gaped openly at the other boy. "As in bi...um...you know?"

Yohji couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, bi as in...um...you know."

"Since when?"

"Since always. Before Asuka I had a boyfriend you know."

"I wish I was a mop!" Ken blurted out unthinkingly. Promptly, he felt his face heat with a
blush. It was a good thing that the closet they were camped out in was dark. His face probably
would have put a tomato to shame. Or at least Aya's hair. Immediately, Yohji's sexual
preferences vanished at the thought of the silent redhead.

Aya...ohGodohGodohGodIcan'tbeinlovewithhimandnowYohjiknowsandohGodIdolovehim! This was
mortification heaped upon mortification garnished with mortification and served with a side
dish of mortification with mortification for dessert and darn it, he was mortified!

Yohji broke the silence. "Love doesn't come around so often that you have the chance to worry
about something as trivial as gender," he advised in an uncharacteristically solemn voice. "You
tried with Yuriko but it failed. She would never have been able to understand you and what you
do. But Aya, he knows only too well."

Outside the shrill wails of the security alarms screeched, interrupting the blond. It was their
signal from Omi to find the targets in the ensuing chaos and get rid of them. Yohji stood
gracefully and watched as Ken shuffled to his feet. "That's our cue." The door opened, a
slice of fluorescent light dripping into the closet. He could see the bright green of the
gaze the older boy leveled at him. "Just remember one thing Ken. You should never feel shame
for loving."

********

His fingers were trembling as they reached out to grasp hold of the doorknob. Every bit of
logic and reason within him was screaming to run far away and never come back. It had been a
long and strenuous mission and he was utterly exhausted. It wouldn't have been any effort on
his part to simply turn away from Aya's room and head back to his own. They shared an apartment
afterall. But Yohji had extracted a promise from him before heading into his own apartment to
clean up Omi's injuries. He'd promised the lanky older boy that tonight he would go to Aya.

A sigh escaped his lips. He even had the excuse to play nursemaid to the redhead, who'd been
rather badly injured. The gauze was unnaturally white in his hands. Well let it not be said
that Hidaka Ken was a coward. He kept his promises and he would tell Aya. Or at least die
trying.

He took a deep breath, determinedly squared his shoulders and shoved the door open. The room
was utterly chilled and dark, with only the moonlight drifting in from the open window to
illuminate it. Aya sat shirtless on his bed, attempting to bind his wounds. Red ribbons of
blood had dried upon his arm, looking stark against that pale skin. He was ethereally white
in the streaming moonlight.

The redhead looked up, eyes narrowing slightly.

Ken ploughed forward, forcing cheerfulness into his actions and words, which was no easy feat
since Aya was about as hospitable as a great spotted tundra leopard. "Hey Aya. I brought some
gauze to bind your arm," he announced, heading towards the bed, his heart beating wildly. The
enormity of his actions suddenly struck him. He was in Aya's *room*, heading towards Aya's
*bed*. Oh dear God, how many dreams had he had of this moment? Holding back a nosebleed,
he quickly added, "Why don't you let me do that for you?"

"I don't need you."

He swallowed thickly, trying to quelsh the poignant thrust of pain that burned into him at
Aya's curt words. Surely that couldn't be an omen of what he would say to the *other thing*,
could it? Damn it, he knew this was a bad idea! Why couldn't he have just gone on watching Aya
and loving him from afar? What was the harm in that? Why did he have to proclaim his love for
the redhead? He didn't believe for a minute that Aya could reciprocate his feelings. Why the
very idea of Aya saying, 'I love you too Ken' was simply ridiculous. He didn't care about
anybody except his precious imouto back in Tokyo. Surely it wasn't too late to run back to
the sanctity of his own room where he could go on as before? It didn't matter if Aya loved
him or not.

But even as he thought that, he recognized it for the lie it was. It did matter and that's
why he'd promised Yohji. He was betting everything on a chance. A small, microscopic chance
but a chance nonetheless. That maybe, since Aya had gotten his revenge on Takatori Reiji,
just maybe he could open up and feel. His imouto was okay, Takatori was dead, there was
nothing left for him to complete. Wasn't it possible that he could find love? Tomoe Sakura
was out of the picture; Ken hadn't noticed Aya looking at anyone else. So perhaps...

He plastered a bright grin across his face. Now was *not* the time to wimp out. "Of course
you don't need anyone. You're Fujimiya Aya, great katana wielder of death! You never need
anyone!" He perched down on the bed next to the taciturn redhead. "But since I'm here,
offering my humble assistance, why don't you just take it? Surely I'm not that bad, am I?"

Aya didn't answer and Ken didn't expect him to. But he didn't resist and so Ken took that as
a yes. His fingers touched Aya's as he took the cloth from him and they burned. One thing
he'd never bothered to consider while tending to Aya's injuries, was their close proximity.
Already he was reacting to the other boy. His hands were shaking, his heart rattling
furiously. He could feel those violet eyes trained upon him and he knew that he was blushing.
This was going to be a long night.

Trying to keep his hands from trembling, he gently took Aya's cool arm in one hand and the
moist cloth in the other. Soothing stokes wiped most of the dried blood away. As he worked,
he kept his gaze lowered beneath his bangs. The too long strands usually provided endless
bouts of irritation for him but today he was glad that he'd never gotten around to getting
them cut. They offered protection from Aya's piercing plum scrutiny, one that surely couldn't
miss his blushing cheeks. When the cleaning was done, he carefully applied some antiseptic to
the wound and bound it tightly with the gauze.

"All done," he proclaimed, automatically brushing his bangs back as he looked up at the quiet
redhead. That purple gaze stabbed him, vivid against the dark room like luminous orbs. Ken
blinked and quickly began the process of re-wrapping the roll of gauze. Something, anything to
keep busy. Otherwise he'd flee the room. Aya was completely unnerving. Why did he keep staring
at him like that? What could he possibly be thinking?

He almost snorted. It would be easier to get blood from a shadow than to know what Aya was
thinking. Now that Takatori was dead and Schwartz had been defeated, who knew? Most likely
regret for leaving Aya chan back in Tokyo, but that had nothing to do with this moment.He
wondered once again, what Aya thought of him. Could he maybe come to love him? He risked a
peek at the older boy. Such dark red hair, falling carelessly into soulful eyes. Pale chest
and smooth skin. He was beautiful, made of the darkest parts of the night. Didn't he know,
didn't this silent, ethereal boy *know*, that he would do anything for him? He would give up
his own life; watch the blood spill endlessly to see just one smile. Do anything, risk
everything, be nothing just to hear those stolen words. For one night, one moment. Just to
be his.

"Aya." His voice cracked, that one words so loud in the tired stillness of the room. An icy
blanket of wind splashed into the room, ripping at the curtains and swirling around them.
Goosebumps jumped upon his bare arms. "It's cold!" he exclaimed, glad beyond belief for the
brief reprieve. "How can you keep the windows open on a night like this?" Noisy shuffles took
him to the window and he hastily shut it with an ear splitting *THUNK*. "Do you wanna get
sick?"

"Why do you care?"

His throat bobbed in a swallow. Aya's question was the perfect opening for him to express his
feelings. Wouldn't it just be so easy... *I care because I love you. Don't you see it? I've
loved you for so long, I can't remember a time when I didn't love you. Everything is nothing,
without you. Say you love me, say I'm not making a fool out of myself, say-*...to walk away?
"You're a part of Weiss. We'll be at a disadvantage if you get sick."

How fluidly that lie was spoken. If only he believed it.

"I won't get sick Ken."

His quiet voice held anger and he was scowling darkly. Nothing that Ken hadn't heard or seen
dozens of times. And yet...shivers rapidly zipped up his spine. The sound of his name on Aya's
cool lips, even in rage, was unexpectedly sensual. Aya sitting on the bed, bare-chested and
looking entirely delicious, saying his name in a room wrapped by the cold wind; his fantasies
couldn't have come up with a more erotic setting.

The urge to fling reason and consequence into the night, to crawl into Aya's arms and kiss
him senseless, was poignantly overwhelming. The only alternative was to tell him. And then,
if there was a God, maybe...

"Aya?" It came out as a weak croak. He cleared his throat determinedly, his hands automatically
fidgeting behind his back. He wanted to touch Aya *so* badly.

"What?"

Hardly encouraging but it would have to do. At least he answered, which was better than his
custom silence. Ken shifted nervously, poking at the carpet with his socked foot. Absently he
noted that there was a hole near his big toe. His fingers were sweaty. How strange, that he
could feel so hot in such a cold room. "I love you."

Even as the words slipped out, he began panicking. Now wasn't the right time, he'd said them
wrong, he wanted them back! Fire bloomed into his cheeks and he'd never felt such an oppressive
silence before. It flowed thickly around his trembling hands and into his tightly constricting
lungs, falling like an extreme burden. And then the silence lurched into dizziness, as
remaining standing grew labored. He now regretted shutting the window. The room had grown
unexpectedly stuffy.

Aya's face remained unchanged, his face impassive. "You love me," he stated, his voice bland.

They could have been talking about a mission or the weather or about flowers. The redhead
looked as interested as a goat. Ken felt like an utter fool. Rage grew, not at Aya but at
himself. Tightly, he nodded, not trusting his voice.

What the hell did you expect you stupid dumb ass? This is Aya we're talking about! Surely you
didn't think that he'd hurl himself at your feet, sobbing with gratitude at the idea of you
willing to share your splendid self with him? That he would swoon at your declaration of love
and write flowery sonnets of love in return? No! I just want him to say something, to show
some reaction. He can't be that cold, can he? Am I so unimportant, so beneath his notice that
this means nothing to him?

"Why?"

Ken blinked, his thoughts interrupted. "Wh-what?"

"Why? I don't understand. Why do you love me?"

He stared at the redhead, trying to determine if the older boy was mocking him. It didn't seem
likely being as Aya was hardly one to mock and ridicule. No, he appeared completely serious,
as always. But this question, Ken hadn't certainly expected him to ask him *that*. Why? Oh
for so many reasons...if only he was brave enough to list them all.

"Why does anyone love somebody?" he asked lamely, tugging at the collar of his T-shirt.

"I'm not talking about anybody. I'm talking about you."

There was a silence that seemed to last hours. Ken fidgeted, trying to find the right words.
But eloquence was Yohji's specialty not his. And really, he had no idea of how to respond to
Aya's question. At length he answered. "It just, uh happened. I don't know why, I'm not God.
People love each other, it's a fact."

"And you love me."

"Y-yeah."

"Why?"

Ken gave in to the urge to look at the redhead. He looked completely emotionless, though
serious as ever. He couldn't be baiting him...could he? Or perhaps he was. Who knew what was
beneath that cold mask? He could be laughing at him, laughing at the idea that he was begging
for love. And suddenly Ken was angry. Angry with himself for coming to Aya, angry at the
situation because it was going nothing like he'd envisioned and angry with Aya for asking him
such puzzling, unnerving questions. Right now nothing mattered but letting go. His emotions
were pure and had been hidden inside for so long. They deserved to come out. What did it
matter? Aya couldn't possible hate him anymore than he did already. "Do you think I want to be
in love with you Aya?" he bit out furiously. "Do you think this is easy for me? You're a *boy*
for God's sake! A cold hearted, insensitive, callous boy! You don't care about anyone but
yourself! Your own loss is all that matters, you're the only one who has pain! Everyone else
is nothing to you. You're a goddamn statue and I'm in love with you!!"

Aya's eyes narrowed and flashed with glowering ire. His body was taut with rage. "I didn't ask
you to love me."

It was his words, not his wrathfully icy tone that abruptly neutralized Ken's anger. One minute
he was utterly enraged at the coldhearted, silent boy and the next he was...tired. How could
he possibly argue with Aya? He wasn't in a position to blame the older boy. He had come to
Aya, confessing his love. It was all his own fault. What had he expected, what did he want?
To hurt the one who had hurt him? To force the one who he loved to show some emotion, to feel
something? What was the point? It was futile and had been from the beginning. How foolish that
he should even try. And to be angry...the urge to leave the cold, dark room was overpowering.

"I know," he replied quietly. "And I'm sorry for coming here tonight. I shouldn't have."
He caught the older boy's gaze. "I just thought you should know."

Aya's eyes were hard and empty.

He turned and hurriedly rushed to the door wanting nothing more than to flee from this botched
conversation and unnerving night. His hand gripped the cold metal of the doorknob when Aya
spoke. "You never answered my question."

Again? What did Aya want from him? Why did he keep asking that? He was driving him to
insanity! Tears bitterly stung his eyes as the wood grains of the door before him doubled and
blurred. "Why?" he cried hysterically, his voice choking. "What do you want me to say Aya?
What do you want to hear? That I love you because you're special and perfect? That I want to
see you smile and make you happy?" His forehead dropped, softly thudding against the door.
His voice diminished from frenzied rantings to a strangled whisper, tears catching upon his
lashes and falling to the floor. "That you're so beautiful it hurts and I hate what you're
doing to yourself?"

Silence greeted him. *I love you Aya. Always and forever, even if it's unrequited* He pushed
the door open, feeling the rush of warm air swirl around him. He couldn't bare to look back
at the redhead and see the loathing expression that would paint his ethereal face. "I-I don't
want anything from you. Just so you know," he said quietly and firmly closed the door behind
him. As though closing the door on his only love...

He had left the radio on in his room. The piercing strains of Glay's 'Freeze my Love' engulfed
him. He had never noticed how hauntingly depressing the song actually was. But had he ever
felt so utterly forlorn and miserable before? Not even Kase's death...that had been nothing
like this. He hadn't loved his best friend with such mind-altering, soul-searing, flaming
intensity. Nothing could ever come close to what he felt for Aya. Absolutely nothing.

He fell onto his knees, feeling exhausted so that he couldn't even remain standing. Gone was
that tiny slice of hope, he was wholly defeated. Tears burned at his eyes and he gasped,
unable to understand why he felt so lost. Why should it have ended in any other way? Was he
that naive?

***Freeze my Love
Ima mo mune ni nokoru ai
Kioku wo nemurasete***

He had loved this song once. If only it were possible to freeze this miserable love he felt
but he wasn't Aya. He couldn't simply shut off his emotions, it wasn't in him. *Love still
lingering in my heart, Sleep with my memories, Freeze my love* Damn the fucking song! One
volatile smash send the radio careening to the floor. His breath hitched as he buried his wet
face into quivering hands. They didn't lie because it still *was* lingering and he *would*
sleep with these memories. And sometimes, even that just wasn't enough.

********

He hadn't moved from his place on his bed. Two hours slipped by and he hadn't moved once.
The cold wind didn't touch him, the throbbing wound on his arm didn't pain him, the darkness
didn't faze him. Unaware of all reality, he only felt quietly numb.

*I love you.*

Numb with *that* phrase stuck in his mind. It played over and over again, like those old
broken record players. Why did the inky shadows in his room remind him of the stark emotion
in Ken's dark eyes? He had wanted to know why. What was love? Why should Ken feel it for him?
So shocked that he couldn't even think of anything else to say. Ken in love with him. A fellow
assassin in love with him. A *boy* in love with him! Why should he believe it? Ken's voice
aching, his words candid.

*That you're so beautiful it hurts and I hate what you're doing to yourself?*

How could he say that to him? What did he know? He had no right to feel these things, to love
him! How dare he! Ken had no idea of what he was, of what he felt. He knew nothing! And now...

*I-I don't want anything from you.*

"Bastard," he hissed, unaware of his fists tightly clenching. A bitter jeer splashed across
his pale face. "What the hell do I do now?"

********

"Ken-niichan?" A tiny hand tugged at his blue T-shirt. Receiving no reply, the little girl
tugged harder and called his name in a louder voice. "Niichan!!"

Ken blinked a few times, clearing his thoughts and looked down into a pair of wide, eager brown
eyes. "Keiko-chan," he greeted, kneeling down beside the small girl. "What can I do for you?"

"How come you're sad today?"

A startled cough forced its way from his chest. "Sad?" He cleared his throat. "Why would you
think I'm sad?"

Keiko tugged on one of her long pigtails as she stared at him. "You always cheer real loud when
anyone gets a goal. You run in the game and play too. But today you're only standing on the
side and not saying anything. And when Maki-chan tripped Shiro-kun, you didn't even blow your
whistle and get mad!"

He rubbed at the back of his head guiltily. He should have known better than to try and hide
anything from the kids. They were all too damn smart for their own good. "Maa maa, I can't fool
you, can I Keiko-chan?"

She shook her head solemnly. "Kaachan says I'm a wise owl."

A smile spilled across his face. He ruffled her hair playfully. "She sure is right about
that."

"Sometimes if you're sad, it can help if you talk about it to someone who's not sad," Keiko
informed him sagely. "And I'm not sad at all."

He repressed the urge to sigh. He had left the apartment as early as possibly, not wanting
to risk running into Aya. He hadn't bothered to show up to work, not wanting to confront
Yohji and all the questions the older boy would undoubtedly have. He never wanted to see any
of them again. Well, with the exception of Omi. He was close to the younger boy. But beyond
that...

A small hand waved in front of his face. Keiko's eyes were expectant. He managed a small smile
and before he knew it, words were tumbling out of his mouth. "Last night I made the mistake
of telling someone that I love them. But they don't love me back."

"That's impossible!" Keiko cried with disbelief. "Everyone loves you, you're Ken-niichan!"

He laughed, a sound that was woodenly hollow even to his ears. He watched the children before
him as they played soccer. So innocent, so unafraid to love. How openly they hugged and kissed
him; how freely they cried and laughed. When did the transition from childish innocence to
jaded cynicism occur? "Not everyone," he whispered softly.

"Well then you have to make them love you!"

He stared at the young girl, her face bright with artless optimism. "How do I do that?"

A frown wrinkled baby-soft skin. Keiko chewed on a lock of her dark hair as she thought.
Finally she said, "You hafta smile a lot and say lots of compliments. Then you tell them that
you're gonna change into something more comfortable and kiss them. And then in the morning
you can wake up in their bed and say 'I love you honey' and do the kissing thing some more."

Ken had to laugh. "You sound like you know quite a lot about love."

She rolled her eyes. "They always do that on those soap operas kaachan watches. Oh yeah,
you also have to take your shirt off."

"My shirt!"

"All the girls like that."

"But what about the boys?" he thought wryly. He didn't actually think of himself gay.
After accepting his attraction to Aya, accepting that he was in love with a *guy*, he had
bought one of those popular J-Rock magazines that most schoolgirls read. Many of the stars
in it were visual and dressed like women and he hadn't found himself attracted to any of them.
Even guys on TV and in the streets, there was no one except Aya. Everyone he saw, he compared
to Aya. There was no one else who had such vibrant red hair and ivory skin. Soulful, violet
eyes shimmering with silent ire. The only one he loved and he didn't want him. He was doomed
to remain alone forever.

"Ken-niichan, Maki-chan keeps kicking me and not the ball!"

"I am not! You keep hogging the ball!"

If I can't have him then I don't want anyone

********

Keiko fidgeted, trying not to watch the people come out of the ice cream shop across the
street. She wanted an ice cream cone badly but kaachan had told her not to go anywhere.
Hopping from one foot to the other, she cast another look at the bank. Kaachan still wasn't
coming out and it had been *forever.* A quick scan at the clouds showed that were no new shapes,
just the same old sheep playing a flute, a cat walking on a tightrope, a man tying his shoe,
a carrot reading a book and a unicorn.

"I'm booo~rrrredddd," she sang, swaying from side to side. "And kaachan is taking a real
looooooo~nggggg tiiiiiiiimmmmmeeee." She giggled as she started to feel dizzy. Everything
was moving upside down! She spun around fast, her new green dress billowing out around her.
How funny she was being! Then abruptly all the fun stopped when she twirled straight into a
tall figure. She would have fallen if the man hadn't caught her.

"Watch where you're going," he snapped.

Keiko blinked and shook her head to get out all the dizziness. She looked up at the man. He
had very red hair and a mean look on his face. Keiko would have been scared but she had seen
the man before. Sometimes he came to see Ken niichan. "I 'member you! You're Ken-niichan's
friend!" she shrieked, bouncing up and down excitedly. Maybe the man would want to play the
spinning game with her!

He stared down at her, his purple eyes narrowing. She giggled. Her touchan glared at her
sometimes too but he was only joking. The red hair man must be joking too. "Is Ken-niichan
coming here? Huh?" She tugged at his hand eagerly. "Is he, is he? Huh?"

"No." His voice sounded like he had no manners and he pulled his hand away from hers.

Keiko frowned at him like kaachan did when she sometimes caught Keiko eating chocolates and
candies before dinner. Her touchan didn't get a mean voice when he glared at her. He always
laughed afterwards. "You don't have to get ants in your pants!"

He gave her another nasty look and walked away.

She glared back at the man and stuck out her tongue. He was nothing like touchan or
Ken-niichan! "You better not be rude to Ken-niichan, he's already sad!" she yelled.

That made the man come back to her. "What did you say?"

Keiko didn't look at him. Instead she poked at a crack in the sidewalk with her shoe. "You're
mean. You have no manners and I don't like you."

He took a deep breath. "Why do you say Ken is sad?" His voice sounded a lot like touchan when
he was trying not to get angry.

"Am I trying your patience?" she asked looking up at him. She didn't actually know what 'trying
your patience' meant but she only knew that she tried kaachan's and touchan's patience a lot.
And they got mad after she did it. She wondered if Ken niichan's friend was going to get mad
ather. She didn't do anything to him, he looked like he was mad all the time.

The man knelt down to her level. "Yes you are. Now answer my question."

Keiko stared at him. He had funny hair that she didn't notice before. There were long pieces
hanging on the sides. She wanted to pull one of them but she didn't think that the man would
like that. She didn't like it when boys at school pulled her pigtails. "You're really
Ken-niichan's friend?, right?"

He blinked and than nodded very slowly.

"Than you hafta make him feel better 'cause he's real sad." She nodded importantly, just in
case he didn't believe her. "He said that he told a girl he loved her last night and she
didn't love him back! He was so sad that he didn't even get mad when Sayuri-chan and Enji-kun
started punching each other!" Keiko decided that even if the man was rude and wasn't polite,
she liked him. If Ken niichan liked him, than so should she! And she liked his funny hair
too. "I don't know why the girl doesn't like Ken niichan. She must be a real baka.
Ken-niichan is so cool, when I grow up I'm going to marry him!"

"A real baka," he repeated, in a funny voice that sounded like he had a cold in his throat.

She nodded again, twirling her pigtail around her finger. "I don't know why she doesn't love
Ken-niichan, everyone loves him! Kaachan says that he's selfless. Selfless is when you help
old ladies carry big bags of groceries and hug kids when they cry and bring candy to the
soccer games. Ken-niichan always does those things. Once he even fixed Hiroshi-kun's puppy's
leg. There was a thorn in it. But since Ken niichan is sad, we hafta make him happy again
because we're his friends." She leaned a bit closer to the man and whispered in a secretive
tone, "Do you wanna know how to make him feel better?"

The man said nothing, just stared at her. He was a weird person. She took his silence to mean
a 'yes'. "Ice cream."

He had a startled look on his face. "Ice cream?"

Keiko rolled her eyes. "Of course ice cream! Ice cream always makes sad go away. When I'm
sick, touchan brings me ice cream and then I feel better. You should buy Ken-niichan a big
ice cream with lots of chocolate in it and sprinkles. With a cherry on top too!" She smacked
her lips. "Yummy! And then Ken-niichan will forget all about the girl, until he tries to kiss
her."

"Kiss her?" he choked out.

She giggled. His face looked funny. There a was red blush coming into his cheeks. "Are you
'barrassed of kissing? Your face is getting red."

He scowled at her but she wasn't scared of him anymore, she liked him. "I told Ken-niichan to
kiss the girl. And to take off his shirt too. They always do that on TV."

The man suddenly stood up. He was glaring again. "I have to go."

Keiko grabbed a fistful of his pants. "Wait!"

He jerked away from her. "What is it?" he demanded, annoyed.

She looked way up at him. "You should get that grouchy look off your face. You should smile.
Kaachan always says that if you smile, everyone smiles with you but if you cry than you
cry all by yourself." She frowned. "She didn't say anything about being grouchy though but I
guess it's like the same thing." She blinked suddenly as a thought occurred to her. "Hey,
I don't even know your name! My name is Keiko-chan. What's yours?"

The man was silent for so long that Keiko thought he wasn't going to say anything. But finally
he said, "Ran. My name is Ran."

She motioned Ran to kneel down. He did after a moment. "You know what else is a good idea
Ran-niichan?"

He looked very surprised. "Niichan?"

Her head bobbed in a nod, her pigtails bouncing. "Since you're Ken-niichan's friend than
you're my niichan too! You wanna know what I think? I think that you should test out the
ice cream you're gonna give to Ken-niichan on someone else. To make sure that it will make
Ken-niichan feel better." She blinked at him innocently.

Ran smiled. "Now who could I get to test out the ice cream for me?"

Keiko gaped. He looked very handsome when he smiled! Then she remembered what he said. "Me!
Me!" she cried, jumping up and down. "I'll test the ice cream for you! I can eat a double
scoop no problem!"

To her great surprise, Ran reached out and brushed her bangs from her face. "You're a lot like
my imouto, Keiko-chan."

She smiled happily at Ran. "I thought you were mean and scary at first but I like you a lot
now!" She reached out and gently tugged one of Ran's long red eartails. "I like your hair
very much. You look nice when you smile Ran-niichan."

"Keiko-chan! What are you doing?"

Keiko looked away from Ran-niichan. Kaachan was coming down the stairs of the bank. "That's my
kaachan," she informed Ran. "She was taking a real long time in the bank."

"How many times have I told you not the talk to strangers?"

"But kaachan, Ran-niichan isn't a stranger!" she told her mother. "Ran-niichan is Ken-niichan's
friend! I just met him right now! At first he was grouchy but then he was really nice and
Ken-niichan is sad so we're gonna make him feel better with ice cream but we need to test
out the ice cream and Ran-niichan said I'm like his imouto and Ran-niichan is going to buy me
ice cream!" She giggled at how fast she had said all that and hugged her mother with glee.

Kaachan looked a little embarrassed. "She's quite the chatterbox." She looked down at Keiko.
"Keiko-chan, how many times have I told you not to bother-"

"It's no problem," Ran-niichan interrupted, standing up. His cheeks were red again.

"See? It's no problem!"

"Keiko-chan-"

"ICE CREAM!!!" she howled, grabbing Ran-niichan's hand. "Let's go!"

********

"I knew I'd find you here."

He looked up, shielding the dying afternoon sunlight from his eyes. Yohji moved into his view,
peering down the length of his nose at him. Ken sighed, hugging his knees tightly to his chest.
He knew that he'd have to talk to Yohji sooner or later but he'd hoped that it would be later
rather than sooner. "How did you know I'd be here?" he asked resignedly. May as well get this
over with right now. Yohji could be surprisingly forceful when the mood struck him.

Yohji sank down upon the grass beside him, folding his long limbs gracefully. "You always sit
under this tree after coaching a game. You come here to think."

"I didn't know you knew that," he remarked, surprised. He hadn't known that Yohji knew him so
well.

"We live together, work together, kill together. After all this time, I'd like to think I
know you guys. We're friends, aren't we Kenken?"

He grinned at the older boy. "Cleaning blood stains together really has that bonding effect."

Long fingers reached out and patted his head. "I'm glad that you can still smile and make
jokes. That's one of the things I admire about you."

His eyes widened. "You admire me?!"

"Takes a lot to be able to smile after ending up in all the shit life dishes out." He pushed
up his sliding shades. "And we oughta know. One word Ken, 'angst'. You and Omi are lucky in
that sense. Always smiling and cheerful. Not me. Half the time I never wanna see the light
of day."

"That's cause half the time you've got a hangover."

"Oi!" He whacked Ken's shoulder. "I'm trying to be serious here!"

"I know." Ken rested his chin against his knees, staring out at the quiet soccer field. The
setting sun splayed impossibly long shadows upon the rumpled grass. "But sometimes it's just
easier to be silly. That way you can pretend everything is alright."

"Is that what you wanna do Ken? Pretend?"

"No. I-I just want-" *Him to love me* He rubbed his cheek against the rough material of his
jeans. "I don't know what I want."

"You want Aya."

"He's not mine to have."

A flash of anger shone behind silver sunglasses. "I never thought you were a quitter Ken."

"What right do you have to judge me?" Ken demanded, Yohji's taunting words kindling his own
ire. "You don't understand this at all! Aya doesn't love me. He never will!"

"Did he say that?"

"He didn't have to," he muttered tightly. "It was very clear."

"And so you're gonna give up? Just like that?" The older boy gazed up at the brightly colored
sky. "One little confrontation and Kenken goes running. How sad."

"Don't patronize me Yohji," he hissed. "This is easy for you. You've never been rejected
before. Everyone loves you. Everyone wants you. Well I'm not like you. I'm not some dashing
lady's man. I'm just Ken, the good ol' boy next door. And if I'm not wanted than I'll accept
that. I'm not going to chase after Aya. I can't do that, it's not who I am."

There was no warning. One minute he was staring moodily at the flaming orange sun on the
horizon, the next Yohji's long fingers were under his chin, roughly forcing him to meet
flashing jade eyes, hidden behind silver tinted shades. His eyes widened as he registered
how close the older boy's face was to his own. The smell of cigarette and lime and exotic
sensuality splashed over him. *I'm bi Ken.*

"If it weren't for Aya, I would make you mine Kenken," Yohji murmured huskily, tightening the
hold on Ken's chin. His other hand came up and elegant finger swept sensuously across his
cheek. "Don't say you're not wanted Ken because you are. I love your na‹ve, temperamental,
clumsy ways. Everything about you is a *huge* turn-on. And believe me," Yohji's fingers moved
from his cheek to brush across his lips with agonized deliberation. "If I didn't see something
in Aya's cold eyes, if I didn't *know* that he *does* feel something for you, then I swear I'd
fuck you right here, right now." And with one last smoldering look, one last soft caress, the
older boy was striding away, his body looking impossibly long in tight Jeans and close-fitting
shirt.

"What the hell... "

His lips still tingled from Yohji's fingers. Just twenty-four hours ago, one mere day ago and
everything had been normal. He hadn't known Yohji was bisexual. He hadn't known that Yohji
knew he loved Aya. He hadn't gone to Aya and made an utter ass out of himself. He didn't know
that Yohji desired him physically. *I'd fuck you right here, right now.* A shudder wracked his
body at those drawled out, sensually raw words. How had everything suddenly gotten so
complicated? Yohji of all people, wanted him! That had to be the end to end all ends.

He could feel a blush spill onto his face. Yohji had touched him so softly...but he loved Aya.
Who didn't return his feelings, never mind what Yohji said. *If I didn't see something in
Aya's cold eyes...* What could that mean? He was bewildered. Last night, he hadn't seen
anything in Aya's eyes other than that rigid coldness. This was so complicated.

He sighed deeply. "Well shit."

********

The light pink envelope festooned with Hello Kitty and a multitude of hearts and stars lay
among the other plain white letters. It was from Aya-chan of course. She loved Hello Kitty.
He picked the letter from the pile and opened it, careful not to tear the colorful envelope.
Unconsciously, his eyes softened the sight of her bubbly hiragana, written in metallic purple
and green ink alternatively. She had stuck stickers and drawn little doodles all over the
paper. He read the letter carefully, feeling all his problems dissipate as he was immersed
in the warmth and liveliness that was his imouto. Even from a piece of paper, her vibrancy
sparkled through. And today, he'd been immersed in that same vibrancy.

The taste the chocolate mint ice cream still lingered in his mouth. A smile made its way
across his face. He hadn't wanted to like Keiko-chan, his mood had been entirely too dark to
tolerate the antics of a hyper little girl. However she had won him over. Keiko-chan so much
like Aya-chan when she'd been young. Constantly chattering, sticking her nose into everyone's
business, doing her best to weasel ice cream out of everyone and anyone. So filled with life.
Brimming with love to give. Even as a child, he'd never been able to give love so freely.
How many times had he ever told his parents and Aya chan that he loved them?

*I love you.*

He sank down upon his bed heavily. Ever since his confession last night, Ken was all he could
think about. The entire day had been filled with Ken's words echoing in his brain, his face
etched in his mind. His presence surrounded him like a shroud. Even his dreams last night had
been of Ken. Ken smiling so sweetly as he declared his love for him. Then the stark pain when
he was rejected and finally the quiet acceptance. Aya had thought about it all day and he
decided that nothing made him feel guiltier than that stoic acceptance. If Ken had shouted
and yelled, he would have been able to handle it. He knew how to deal with harsh words and
bitter reprisals, hiding emotions behind a facade of cold carelessness and cynicism. How
unlike Ken to say nothing, to merely walk away after telling him in that achingly broken
voice that he wanted nothing from him. What could he possibly say to that? He knew anger and
scorn. And yet, something deep inside wanted to go to the soccer player and soothe the hurt in
those innocent eyes. To make right everything he'd wronged. If only he knew how.

*I don't know why she doesn't love Ken-niichan, everyone loves him! Kaachan says that he's
selfless.*

Ken was selfless. Beneath his brash behavior was someone who was filled with kindness and
caring. He was the sort of boy all parents wanted for their daughters, all old ladies loved,
all guys wanted to watch the game and fix their cars with. But Ken was so much more than that.
He fought for justice and peace, in the night as well in the day. He was the first one ready
to hurl himself into a fight, no matter how unfavorable the odds, paying no heed to the
consequences. How many times had he staggered into the shop, bloody from some fight he'd
gotten mixed up in? How many children had he taken care of and taught soccer to? How many
times had he brought food for all of them, making sure they ate properly? There were so many
good things about Ken. The whole day had been spent thinking about them. And the rest
Keiko-chan had filled in. She adored Ken.

So what should he do? Ken had been right, he *was* selfish. He only thought of himself and of
Aya-chan. He was the only one in Weiss who hadn't had to kill a loved one. He hadn't lost the
most important person in his life. Even if he'd had to leave Aya chan behind, she still lived
right? He was so much luckier than the rest of them. So how was it that he still couldn't
smile? Still wasn't able to comfort his teammates? Couldn't even accept the love they gave?
He remained frozen. Nothing had changed.

*You're a goddamn statue and I'm in love with you!*

Ken knew who he was, what a frigid personality he had and he still loved him. He had called
him beautiful and perfect. How could he feel that way, knowing what he was? He couldn't
understand it, why Ken loved him. And yet, if Ken could love someone as harsh as he, why
couldn't he love in return someone was wonderful as Ken? There were so many questions, so much
he couldn't comprehend. The whole day he'd spent thinking into circles that just didn't end.

Unbidden, Aya-chan's last words in her letter came to his mind. *Follow your heart Oniichan
and find happiness. I love you.* Perhaps he was making this harder than necessary. Could it be
possible that it really was as simple as eating ice cream? He was tired of analyzing and
angsting. He knew that he wasn't good with people, that he didn't know how to interact. Ken,
Yohji, Omi, they were the first real friends he'd ever had. Could he really let his
inhibitions spoil his relationship with Ken? Putting their initial meeting aside, Ken had
only ever shown kindness and concern towards him. And now love. It was humbling, to know that
he was loved. The initial anger he'd felt after Ken's confession had long faded into
acceptance. It wasn't understood it, but it was accepted. Which meant what?

********

Ken stood on the balcony, his back to him. Aya stopped in the middle of the living room and
watched the dark haired boy for a few minutes. His heart pounded rapidly. Why he was so
uneasy was beyond him. Ah, but he promised not to think about anything. Just do, enveloped by
action. A stupid phrase Aya chan used often. He could just hear her, urging him on.

Steeling his resolve, he stalked out onto the balcony. It was windy and cold, the kind of
night he craved. The sky was cloudless, splattered with gleaming stars that appeared to mock
him with their shining happiness. His mouth opened and not a word came out. Frozen he stood,
commanding his voice to utter some sort of appropriate greeting as the icy air gushed around
him. The stars laughed as he remained silent.

Ken must have felt his presence for he whirled around after a few seconds. Dark eyes widened,
a stunned expression painting his face. He gasped his name, backing away sharply and stumbling
in his haste.

Aya reached out and captured his arm, to keep him from falling. Ken's skin was cool and smooth
beneath his fingers. And still no words came out.

That adorable, for he's seen it countless times in his mind's eyes over the past hours and he
decided that it *was* adorable, blush was back, staining high cheekbones. He'd never realized
how much Ken blushed. Or how endearingly sweet it was.

"W-what are...what are you doing h-here?" Ken stammered, wrenching his arm away with more
force than necessary.

"It's too warm inside," he replied, feeling like a proper fool the minute the words left his
mouth. What a lame excuse.

"Oh. Well I'll...um leave you then I guess," he muttered, head down, chocolate colored bangs
obscuring his eyes. He moved towards him, obviously intending to flee into the sanctity of his
own room, when a scrap of paper slid from his fingers and fell onto the ground.

Aya picked it up. It was the poem he'd written yesterday morning, during a slow moment in the
shop. He remembered Ken asking if he could have it. And now, he was reading it out on the
balcony? "This is yours," he informed him coolly, holding out the tattered paper.

Ken didn't look at him as he snatched the paper away. Their fingers touched. He mumbled out a
muffled thanks as he hastily stuffed the paper into the pocket of his khaki cargo pants.

"I didn't know you liked it so much," Aya continued quickly, not wanting Ken to leave. At
least not until he finished saying what he'd come to say. Even if he wasn't quite sure of what
he was going to say...

Coffee tinted eyes met his briefly before they hurriedly glanced away. "I-I liked the
rhyming," he said hesitantly.

"I don't usually like using rhyme schemes," he explained, feeling more comfortable. Talking
about poetry was something he could do with relative ease. He loved poetry. "It limits the
language you can use. But Aya-chan, she loves poems that rhyme. I guess she's gotten me into
the habit."

Confusion and bewilderment adorned the soccer player's face. He looked torn between bolting
for his room and hiding in plain sight. Ken was gawking at him, as though he didn't know what
to make of his comments on poetry. Which he probably didn't. The only time he really ever
talked was in regards to a mission. Aya felt a sharp twist of guilt. His moodiness and
inability to handle emotions were playing hard on Ken. It was he who had inadvertently reduced
this vociferous, impulsive boy to a shy, stuttering wreck.

"Um, well I d-don't know too much about poetry but I do like yours." Ken flushed, studying the
ground diligently. "Even if you said that it didn't, uh, mean anything."

"Analytical poetry is vastly overrated. Not everything has a meaning behind it." He leveled
a sharp look at the nervous brunette. "Words can come out without any type of consciousness
behind them."

"Yeah." He shuffled his feet, the uneasy action deafening against the quiet night. "I guess
so."

There was an awkward silence. Aya quelshed the impulse to sigh. This was not going well. If
only Aya-chan was here. She would know what to do. She was great with people. He, on the other
hand, had no idea what to do. When a person was unresponsive, how did people talk to them?
How did people manage to talk to him? He didn't know what to say to Ken, how to right
irrepressible wrongs.

Finally Ken cleared his throat. "It's getting late. I'd better go." He took a step forward,
meeting his gaze at last. His eyes, they looked black at that instant, glittering with
bewilderment and uncertainty. "I'm sorry to bother you A-Aya." Such a quiet, un-Ken like
voice.

"You aren't bother-" he abruptly cut his words off seeing a sparkle of white behind Ken.
Without thinking, he grabbed hold of Ken's arm, turned him around and pulled him towards the
balcony's railing. He pointed at the sweeping path of bursting light. "Look. A shooting star."

All the anxiety and embarrassment on the younger boy's face dissolved as his entire face lit
up with joy. "Sugoi!" he cried, his eyes gleaming with delight. "I've always wanted to see a
shooting star!"

Aya nodded abstractedly, not watching the shooting star. He was much more interested in the
soccer player standing beside him. With that earnest expression of rapt fascination, he looked
surprisingly sweet. It was a look of pure pleasure; one that he rarely ever saw but suspected
that children like Keiko-chan saw it all the time.

Aya gave in to the urge and carefully brushed away a lock of chocolate strands from Ken's eyes.
He pointedly ignored the wide-eyed look of disbelief the younger boy threw his way. Instead,
he studied the blazing star. "Don't forget to make a wish Ken."

"H-hai."

As for his own wish, he didn't know what he wanted. Before last night he would have wished for
Aya-chan to always be happy and for her to forgive him for leaving her alone in Tokyo. But now,
standing at Ken's side, knowing what he felt for him... *I wish for eloquence, just for
tonight*

The shooting star faded from their view, leaving behind only a pale crescent moon and a sea of
broken stars. "What did you wish for?"

Ken looked over at him, cheeks pink. "You're not supposed to tell your wish otherwise it won't
come true."

"Aa." His gaze shifted from the night sky to the balcony railing where Ken had rested his
hands. There were no thoughts in his mind as his left hand moved up and lightly came to rest
overtop of Ken's.

A strangled cry escaped from the younger boy as he choked out his name.

His own fingers were so pale in comparison to Ken's, as they laced through those tanned
fingers. Such capable hands, that wielded weapons and made flower arrangements with the same
deft abandon. "Was it worth it Ken?" he inquired, running his fingers softly over Ken's.
He was smooth and quivering beneath his touch. Touching Ken felt unexpectedly right and
shockingly sensual at the same time.

"Na-nani?"

He smiled inwardly. Ken sounded on the verge of suffocation and hysteria. "Seeing a shooting
star today," he clarified calmly. "Was it worth the wait?"

"I-I guess," Ken wheezed, face bright red.

A particularly sharp gust of icy wind blew at that instant. He was reminded of last night and
how Ken had closed the window in his bedroom, worrying that he'd catch a cold. Ken was so
considerate, shouldn't he return the gesture?

Aya watched his fingers as they tightly seized Ken's wrist. One small pull and the younger boy
was in his arms. "Cold?" he whispered, rubbing suntanned, goosebumped arms as he held the
shivering brunette close. He could smell Ken's scented shampoo, could hear his harsh breathing
against his neck, could feel the swift pounding of his heart against his chest, and it was
decidedly delicious.

It didn't last. Ken was over his shock in seconds and he jerked away from Aya's embrace
violently. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, brown eyes flashing.

Ah, this was the Ken he knew. "Do you want to get sick?" he mocked, repeating the question Ken
had asked him last night.

Eyes widened and then narrowed. "As if you really care!" he retorted angrily. "What is all
this anyways? Your conscience got the better of you? You feel sorry for me and decided to
condescend to talk with me? Well I don't need your pity Aya! I told you I didn't want
anything from you!"

"I'm aware of that," Aya murmured quietly.

Before his eyes, Ken's temper seemed to die at his hushed tone. "Why are you playing games
with me?" he asked, a wounded expression dominating his face. "What do you want from me?"

His words were nearly inaudible. Aya turned to look out at the night, unable to bear the hurt
on Ken's face. Hurt that he had caused. How was he to make this right? He didn't know how to
answer Ken's question. What should he say to soothe the soccer player? The enormity of this
situation made it all the more nerve wracking. If he muddled this, there would be no more
chances. Ken would be lost, haven given up on him for good. Was that what he wanted?

Ken mistook his silence for rejection...yet again. "I see," he whispered. "I won't bother you
again."

Instinctively, he clenched the other boy's arm. "Don't." The word burst out as a faint croak.
"Ken..."

The boy was unnaturally still. "N-nani?"

His gaze caught Ken's. "Don't leave."

"Why?" he choked out. Chocolate eyes shimmered like liquid. "I c-can't just...with you
n-not-"

Aya pulled the stuttering boy up against him and did the only thing he could think of to keep
Ken from weeping. He kissed him. Ken gasped, his cool lips parting in shock. His hands moved
up, tangling in silky brown locks. Ken tasted like mint toothpaste and oranges and something
nameless that was incredibly sweet. He heard Ken moan against him, as the younger boy wrapped
his arms around his neck. Aya kissed him harder, his tongue sliding over even white teeth,
exploring the soft mouth of the boy against him. Ken's tongue hesitantly met his own. Aya
hissed, roughly pulling Ken closer. Their kiss grew harsh as they both sucked fiercely at
each other.

At length, they pulled away. Aya felt his forehead drop lightly against Ken's as they panted
heavily. That was the most erotic experience of his life.

"W-why did you do th-that?" Ken huffed, clutching at Aya's shoulders as though he was unable
to remain standing on his own.

"Actions speak louder than words," he breathed, tilting Ken's chin up to meet his gaze. The
soccer player looked adorable. His hair was disheveled from his fingers, his cheeks were
flushed and his lips were red and swollen from their kiss. Aya wanted to kiss Ken again.
It was strange, he'd never actually initiated a kiss before. A couple of girls had chastely
kissed him at one point or another but they were *nothing* compared to the kiss he and Ken
just shared. It was pure sensuality. It took one blazingly hot kiss to tell him what should
have been blatantly obvious all along; he wanted Ken. A huge burden, the burden of not knowing,
was lifted from his mind then. He knew now. And nothing else mattered.

Ken blinked up at him. "I don't understand."

He let go of Ken, his hands coming down to grip the balcony railing. "I never meant to hurt
you. What you said last night shocked me. I didn't know what to say or how to react. I was
angry."

"Why?" Ken asked in a small voice.

He shrugged, struggling to find the right words. Surprisingly, speaking of his emotions wasn't
as difficult as he would have thought. It felt strangely...soothing. "I couldn't understand
why you'd love me. That's why I asked you. Your answers left me stunned. I never imagined that
anyone could ever love me. I didn't want to believe it. I prefer solitude. I-I'm not good at
this sort of thing, talking and socializing and stuff. But I have thought a lot about what
you said. And I..." he trailed off uncertainly, gesturing at nothing.

Ken was examining the vast array of city light and shadowy buildings, carefully averting his
eyes. "You weren't disgusted? Because I'm a guy too?"

"Nothing about you disgusts me Ken." A thin smile made its ways across his face as he thought
about Keiko chan. "I've spend the entire day extolling your many virtues."

"So what do we do now?" Ken questioned, tugging nervously at his bangs.

The moonlight splashed around the shadowy city. It was getting cold, as stars gleamed down
luminously. *Follow your heart Oniichan and find happiness* There really never was an option
was there? It was only for him to find out. And now he knew, without anymore thoughts. It was
all emotions. Nothing had ever felt so right, so comfortable. "I'm not as easy person to
love," he warned sternly. "I don't know--"

Ken didn't let him finished. The soccer player threw himself against him, arms winding
tightly around his neck. "I already know that," he declared, as he buried his face into Aya's
neck. "And I still love you."

Now it was his turn to blush, as he enfolded the younger boy into his arms. Ken felt so
perfect against him. This was the only complete thing.

Ken peered up at him through a mess of chocolate locks, eyes shining with joy and tears.
"Do you mean it Aya?"

Automatically, he brushed Ken's bangs from his eyes and kissed his forehead. "How could I not?
You look so sweet when you blush."

Ken promptly blushed.

Aya smiled, trailing one ivory finger down a red cheek. "This coming from the guy who punched
me on our second meeting?"

"Well considering that you tried to kill me the night before, I think I was justified!" He
grinned up at him. "And I think you look sweet when you smile."

His smile grew just a little bit more, only for Ken. "Aa."

"Ai shiteru Aya," Ken murmured, leaning up for kiss. "Always."

"I know," Aya responded quietly and the distance between them was breached as they kissed for
the second time beneath the inky sky.

~*~OWARI~*~