Part VIII

"Aya-chan." Aya stopped at the entrance to Youji's apartment building.

Aya-chan paused in the doorway, glancing confusedly between Youji and Omi making their way toward the stairs and Aya waiting outside.

"We'll go make tea," Youji threw over his shoulder, catching the hint. "Right, Omi?"

"Oh, um, yeah," Omi said, following Youji to the stairwell. His arm was still in a sling to prevent unnecessary jostling of his healing shoulder. He had argued with the doctor about it, wanting to be able to wear a suit properly today, for Ken's funeral. It had been a small affair, but Omi had insisted on following tradition.

Studying the ground, Aya bit his lip. He could hear Aya-chan shuffling her feet, waiting for him to say something. Now that he had her alone, he wasn't at all sure how to begin.

"So when are we going back to Osaka?" Aya-chan finally asked.

Aya winced. As soon as he had felt it was safe, he had told her she could go back to Osaka and attend her classes again. She had been living in their apartment alone for a week now. He had been dealing with it better than he thought he would. Of course, he had had other things to worry about, like Omi, and Ken's funeral arrangements, and his . . . relationship with Youji. He put those things aside for now, and focused on his sister's face. "I –" How do I say this, Aya-chan, I love you. "I was thinking I would stay here. In Tokyo."

"Onii-chan?" She looked surprised. "What about –"

"You can stay in Osaka," he assured her. "I want you to finish your degree."

Aya-chan grabbed his arm. "Let's walk around the block," she said.

She tugged at his arm, and his feet reluctantly moved. He didn't want to be having this conversation. He didn't want to explain his reasons for staying in Tokyo, when he wasn't even sure what they were himself. He didn't want to leave Aya-chan behind in Osaka. He wanted her in Tokyo, where he could keep an eye on her, keep her safe.

"What about you? What are you going to do?" She gave him a sidelong glance, tossing her hair out of her eyes.

"Youji asked me," he paused. Youji had asked him to stay. Was that the only reason? "He's a private detective, and he could use a partner."

Aya-chan squeezed his arm. "That's so cool! You're gonna be a P.I.!"

"It will be better than doing construction," he admitted.

"I can't wait to tell my friends!" She let go of his arm for a moment and twirled happily. "Have you found an apartment yet? You can't sleep on Youji's couch forever."

"Um," he stuttered. He pressed his lips together and willed the heat flushing his face away. "I don't really need an apartment."

"Oh," she said. "Did –" She stopped walking. "Oh." Turning to look at him critically, she asked, "You're not sleeping on Youji's couch, are you?"

Actually, he still was. "For now I am," he said simply. "Come on, it's getting late."

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Aya-chan always surprised him with how perceptive she was. He supposed he should have been used to it by now. But he still couldn't think of her as anything but his young, innocent little sister. "Are you going to be all right in Osaka?" he asked. "I don't have to stay here."

"I'll be fine, Ran, don't worry about me." She gave him a sunny smile. "The important thing is that you're happy. He makes you happy, doesn't he? I can see it in your eyes when you look at him."

Aya had to look away a moment. "I love you," he said almost fiercely.

She threaded her fingers with his and laid her head on his shoulder. "I love all of who you are," she said. "Ran, Aya, it doesn't matter. You're still my brother no matter what."

------

Youji flopped down on the couch, laying his head in Aya's lap and propping his feet up on the armrest. "They're finally gone."

Omi had taken Aya-chan back to Kritiker, where she had been staying while in Tokyo. It was more secure than a hotel, which was comforting to Aya. Besides, Youji didn't exactly have room on his couch.

Aya ruffled Youji's hair. On an impulse, he said, "I miss your hair."

"You do?" Youji grinned up at him. "Sometimes I do too. But people trust me more when I look . . . respectable."

"I trusted you," Aya said.

"Did you?" Youji tilted his head back so he could see Aya's face. "Did you really?"

Aya forced himself to meet Youji's eyes. "With my life."

"Ah." Youji rolled onto his side, his back to Aya. "Not enough to stay."

Tracing the graceful line of Youji's neck with the tips of his fingers, Aya said, "It's me I don't trust. How can you trust me?"

Youji closed his eyes. "Is this about the night Ken died? You didn't do anything wrong, Aya, you didn't hurt me."

Aya's fingers stilled. "I saw your eyes, Youji. You were afraid of me."

"No, no, oh god, no." Youji moved so he was kneeling next to Aya on the couch. He took Aya's chin in his hand and stared into his eyes. "I was afraid that you were going to leave me afterwards. I was afraid to hope, and have you break my heart again."

Brushing Youji's cheek with the back of his hand Aya whispered, "I'm sorry."

"Aya." Youji's gaze was completely serious. "If you stay this time, it has to be for good. I –"

Aya kissed him. What Youji was asking would be difficult, but . . . If Youji trusted him, then maybe he should start to trust himself. He wanted to be happy. This desire for happiness had eaten away at his belief that he didn't deserve to be happy until there was hardly any doubt left in his mind. And Aya-chan was right. Youji made him happy.

He leaned into the kiss, turning so that his whole body was facing Youji, one hand on the back of the couch, the other in Youji's hair. He slowly lowered Youji back into the couch, pausing long enough for him to get his legs out from underneath them.

Youji broke the kiss to pull Aya completely on top of him, wrapping one leg around Aya's body, the other dangling off the edge of the couch. They both gasped as their hips touched. "Oh, I missed you," Youji whispered, nuzzling Aya's hair with soft lips. "I need you so much." He touched Aya's ear with just the tip of his tongue.

Aya buried his face in Youji's neck and breathed him in deep. He was already completely hard. It had been so long . . . And he hadn't wanted anyone but Youji, deep down, for all those years.

He kissed Youji again, pushing his groin gently into Youji's, reveling in the taste and feel of the older man's moan. Youji's hands were stroking his back, untucking his dress shirt and pulling his undershirt up to tease the sensitive skin at the bottom of his spine.

"I've been waiting for this for so long," Youji said, echoing Aya's own thoughts.

"Shush." Aya silenced Youji with a quick kiss. "You talk too much."

Youji grinned. "Now that you're here to listen I don't think I'm ever going to – ah."

Aya smiled to himself as he caressed Youji's neck with his lips and tongue, carefully tasting every inch of his skin. The only surefire way to get Youji to shut up was to distract him, and that's exactly what he planned on doing. He worked a hand between them, unbuttoning Youji's shirt and pulling it away from his chest. Squirming down a little, Aya tasted each bit of golden skin as he exposed it, learning his lover's body all over again.

"Aya," Youji breathed, arching under his touch. He tried to pull Aya up for another kiss, but he resisted.

"No," Aya told him. "This is for you."

He wanted to make this last, he wanted to do this right, he wanted to leave Youji breathless. He wanted to make up for all the leaving, all the fighting, all the yelling and blaming and the anger. So Aya took his time, exploring with his mouth and hands, discovering places he had never really forgotten. The two brown peaks of Youji's nipples, stiff and hard under his fingertips, the ticklish place on the side of Youji's ribs, the ripple of his abdominal muscles, the almost invisible trail of hair leading from his belly button into his pants.

--CENSORED--

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Youji's hands were touching his face, gently brushing his closed eyelids, tracing the outline of his ear, smoothing over his hair. "Aya, I love you." He tugged Aya upward until he was cradled awkwardly on Youji's chest. He kissed Aya's temple.

"Did you mean what you said?" Aya asked tentatively.

"Yes." Youji's voice was deep, and rough.

He tried to move, to look at Youji's face, but the arms around him tightened.

"No. Don't run away. Please."

"Youji." Aya propped himself up on one elbow and touched Youji's cheek with his fingertips. "I'm not going anywhere."

END