I will post a spicier version of this chapter elsewhere (AFF) in the next few days – feeling too tired for that now.
Thank you for reviewing, and please let me know whether you find anything to pick on or something you particularly liked. I love your feedback. For one of my other stories, someone was actually brave enough to make suggestions for improvement, and they worked well.
Warnings/Disclaimer: NC-15/M. Shonen-Ai, I'd say, with lime tendencies. And they never watch their language, damn them, though Aya at least should know better. Don't own, though I regret that. I'd love to own them all. All rights with their original creators.
"You were returning…" Aya's voice faded, and a shiver ran through him as his eyes fixed on Yohji who held his gaze calmly.
"There was no point pretending anymore." Yohji rose to his feet and let his hands dangle by his sides.
Relaxed, easy, not in the slightest selfconscious, Aya thought with a wild pang of envy, no wonder he could hit on whoever he fancied and get away with it. "Pretending?"
"That there was nothing beyond us working together."
"There cannot be anything else," Aya snapped, his heart picking up speed. "I would like to go home now." He made to side-step Yohji, but his partner blocked his path, standing squarely between Aya and the door.
"Fine, you keep telling yourself that one," Yohji said, still in this level tone, "and then wonder whether it would change anything. Whether I could dump you and not care, for all the shit you're giving me all the time. I think that's your giveaway, Ayan, 'cos neither Ken nor the lad get the same abuse from you." He looked the tiniest bit sly now, but also wary and nervous. "So either you really hate my guts, in which case I'd wonder why the hell you're here now, or-"
"Shut up, Kudoh," Aya cut in, his voice strangled.
"And that you'd run to Schwarz 'cos they told you a bale of shit 'bout holding me hostage… man, Aya, who're you trying to kid?" He paused, his hands clenching and opening lightly, and then he shook his head. "You think I'm not afraid? Everyone I ever loved is gone, and it's not as if I could even blame someone else."
Aya stared at him. Shadows had gathered on Yohji's face and seeped into his eyes, the spark of mirth that usually made them glitter had gone out and left them dark, almost angry. Right, that was Yohji, instead of resigning and just walking away, he would harness his frustration to gather fresh strength and fight on. It dawned on Aya that perhaps, it would not be so easy to get rid of Yohji after all, now that he had this illusion in his stubborn head.
An illusion of love.
A dream of life.
The life they could have lived.
"Schuldig," Yohji murmured, and his green gaze fluttered, then broke away as he turned and wandered across to the window to peer outside. "He's odd. Could have zapped me off but chose not to press his advantage. At least," a shrug, "he's got red hair too. Reminded me of you. Only that he's a natural."
Aya felt himself splash red with anger but was unable to ignore the bait. "You have seen that much then, have you?"
"Ah, I nearly forgot." Yohji slapped his forehead and walked back, right up to Aya to glower down at him. "You ARE one jealous faggot, aren't you?"
Aya froze. Silence began to fill the small space between them, spread and thickened. Yohji, grimly determined, waited. If Aya had wanted to murder him, he would have been floored by now. Whatever – he did not care anymore.
"Hai." A tiny word, leaving Aya's parted lips under his breath, shattered the stillness even as he pushed past Yohji.
Yohji caught him with his hand about to slide back the door. "And there you almost had me convinced," he murmured, moulding himself against Aya's back, "you'd not give a damn about me."
Aya leaned his forehead against the flimsy wooden framework. "What a load of shit," he whispered unwillingly and could feel Yohji's body vibrate against him in quiet laughter.
"Now, that's better," Yohji said, dropping his tone to a sultry murmur. "Though I think I'll never get used to you swearing."
Aya tried to shove him back a bit, but Yohji remained plastered to him. "You sound like my-" He broke off, his hand on the door frame clenching, knuckles white. Yohji's hands alighted on his waist, slipped up his flanks and wound around his shoulders. Yohji nudged him until he turned, closing his eyes and swallowing the sigh that was thickening in his throat.
"That's because," a soft touch of warm lips to his cheek, "I love you."
Yohji was warm. Yohji was also hard, and when Aya sagged against him, his embrace tightened so much it squeezed the air out of Aya who reached up and clawed into a handful of brown hair. "Uh, let me breathe," he gasped, pressing his other hand against Yohji's chest. "So what's your plan, huh?"
Panting slightly, Yohji blinked. "Plan? Ah, that one… uh, I mean…" He reached between them to fiddle with Aya's hakama ties, but Aya quickly grabbed his wrists and stilled them. He sought Yohji's gaze. He met longing, the expectant glow of passion, along with a good helping of insecurity. Yohji had laid himself bare as much as he had stripped Aya of his shields.
Time to make this literal.
Aya pushed out of his embrace, never taking his eyes off Yohji. "You didn't have one?" Yohji had not known, had not presumed, not taken him for granted. He was rattled now, Aya could tell from the expression of distress that crossed his face, though he held himself rather well, refraining from fidgeting. Instincts honed by years in their job, so much they had become part of their selves. Irreversible, deadly, dark hunters.
"I had no plan. Only hopes," Yohji replied quietly.
"Care to explain?"
Now he looked puzzled. "Nani?"
"Go on," Aya said, lifting one long-fingered hand to play with the cord that held the haori closed over his chest. A dark little smile tugged at his lips as he watched Yohji's gaze drop to stare at Aya's fingers. "Tell me what you hoped to do with me tonight."
Yohji felt his knees go weak. This would never do. "Why not just let me show you?" He made to move towards Aya, but was stopped short by a lightly lifted hand.
"Stay where you are, Yotan." Aya scrutinised him, and suddenly Yohji did not feel comfortable. "You talk, and for each sentence that makes me happy, one piece of your outfit goes down." He paused, his eyes glittered. "I'll match you piece by piece…"
Aya... was playing? And why, Yohji mused uneasily, was this not quite what he had wanted, what made him tingle and tense now other than want and need? Aya's voice had a distinct edge, something that forstalled any questions, forbade any disagreement. A challenge, perhaps, a test of some kind? Yohji disliked the idea of being a test bunny, even if Aya – or rather, he admitted to himself, because Aya was in charge now. Aya had hurt him a few times in the past, and Yohji remembered too well that his partner had left him in no doubt as to who ruled and who had to run along. Yohji had marks to show for reminders that while Aya had no compunction in taking his moods out on Yohji's golden hide, Yohji found it difficult to fight him off at full force.
Yet to lie with Aya, caress the pale body, hot and willing in his arms, sense him relax when he allowed Yohji to soothe away grief and anger for a blissful while, was too much of a temptation, a dangerous affair that drew Yohji like a fly to a honeypot. Well, he had come unstuck quite a few times already and managed to regain his balance... He swallowed. "It's not quite fair," he managed to point out, despite the fact that the temperature in the small room seemed to rise rather sharply, bringing a sheen of sweat to his face, but he already shrugged off his jacket.
"Oh?" Aya pushed out his lower lip while he artlessly dropped the haori. "Now, Yohji, you meant to say something to me?"
"You're swathed in those damn layers," Yohji choked out, his eyes glued to Aya's hands while his hands scooted to the neatly buttoned collar of his shirt, fumbling to open it. He ended up hastily ripping open the buttons, all the way down. "Makes me mad to think what's underneath, yanno… and that my ass is gonna be naked and you're still gonna be wearing something…"
"One," Aya said, a spark in his eyes as he tugged the knot of the hakama bands open. "And two." He let the sashes drop. Yohji tore off the shirt and flung it into a corner, then made a step towards Aya, but Aya tilted his head.
"Don't spoil it," he warned.
Yohji grunted with frustration.
"That," Aya remarked dryly, "was not good enough. It has to be a sentence at least, Yotan."
The gleam in his eyes, hidden behind violent contact lenses, held no warmth, and his smile teetered on the edge of a small sneer, if only just. Instead of lust and happiness, Yohji felt a burning inside his chest, something unclean and marred by foreboding, and his voice was heavy and rough when he said, "What is it to be, Ayan? Want me under you, huh? Writhin' and begging?" He loosened the belt and unbuttoned his trousers, the zip swished down and he let the garment drop.
"Two," Aya smiled, carelessly untying his obi.
"Argh, c'mon, Ayan, that doesn't count either," Yohji tried to protest, but Aya's glance silenced him while he tried to gather his wits.
So he sat down and pulled off his shoes and socks. No, he had not managed to reach deeply enough into Aya's mind to bring back Ran. He had failed, all along, and not been willing to accept it. A shiver ran through him, raising goosebumps on his skin. He heard the swish of crisp fabric and caught the sight of the hakama pooling around Aya's feet.
"You don't talk to me anymore, Yotan," Aya said, stepping out of the flood of silk. "But I am feeling rather horny, so I have decided to be generous." He bent to drag off the tabi, then straightened and looked down at Yohji who leaned back against the wall. One hand on the tatami floor, the other cradling one shoe and sock in his lap, he met Aya's gaze.
Three layers of white silk still shrouded Aya's muscular body, and the precious cloth flowed over him like a waterfall, moving, whispering, caressing with every ripple of breath, every small motion. White and crimson, in the starkly beautiful setting of the tatami room, Aya might have stepped out of a ghostly tale of starcrossed love. "I don't know what else to say," Yohji murmured, deflated by the crude words. He had meant to make this evening sweet for Aya, for Ran, but Aya seemed intent on keeping it base, in spite of his outward decorum. Lust flared through Yohji when he imagined them doing it quick and rough, but his mind chilled. THAT he could have elsewhere, and perhaps better than with Aya.
Without the obi, the kimono fell open when Aya sunk to a crouch before Yohji and pressed his thighs apart to he could sit closer, his knees touching Yohji's warm and firm middle. His hands, those hard, cool hands, roamed up Yohji's flanks, grabbed his face and shook him slightly. "Yotan, you're not with me."
Yohji held the purple gaze while with his free hand he picked through his discarded clothes, found the cigarettes, and put one into his mouth. He lit up and blew smoke at Aya. "I am, Ayan. You want to fuck me – go ahead. You want control – you have it. Perhaps I can't make you happy. Perhaps I AM just some deluded fool. The shame isn't mine." Another puff of smoke. "The lube's in my jacket pocket."
Aya's face hardened, and then Yohji saw him shatter.
Aya dragged him up on his lap, wound his arms around Yohji in a crushing embrace and dug his face into the crook of Yohji's neck. He was trembling madly, and for a while, Yohji could make no sense of the whispers that kept pouring from Aya's mouth, breathless little gasps, scraps of words, pleas, a singsong of fear and nerves strung as tautly as Omi's crossbow. "Need, Yohji," Aya breathed, "need you to trust me... the way I was... I'm now... cannot change, mustn't change, you're trying to break me down, you're so close, so very close, please, let me be, let me do what I have to... Ran wouldn't be able to do it... please... trust..."
It rushed at Yohji like a train and almost knocked him out. Aya as much as begged him to let off but hold on, to Yohji having the power to undermine him, to unhinge and distract him from what he had considered his only purpose in life.
Aya was losing track of his goal because he had come to live again.
"Yohji?" Aya stilled, his lips moving against Yohji's neck. Tasting salt and aftershave. He gave another small lick and felt Yohji flinch and twitch a little. "Tickles?"
Yohji finished the cigarette, blowing a long stream of smoke past Aya as he rested his chin on one silk-clad shoulder and let his eyes drift shut. "Yes," he said, giving himself over to the sudden calm inside his mind. He had shaken Aya. Aya had admitted this.
"You still want me?" Yohji murmured.
"Never stopped," Aya replied quietly, his arms tightening a bit more around Yohji's waist.
"Then you have me." Yohji leaned down to kiss the top of a red head, and when Aya buried his face in Yohji's shoulder, the back of his white neck. "So who's gonna fetch the lube, huh?"
And Aya began to laugh, a deep, low rumbling sound that rose from his stomach to his throat, shaking him even as he began to kiss Yohji senseless.
Who, around a hot tongue jabbing down his throat, still managed to sneak in something that sounded like "Hahy buhday, lovahhhh..."