This is the begining of the prelude/epilouge to 'Click'. The entire Ayame-hurting-himself thing was started because of a discussion I had with a friend about the masks people wear. The happier the mask, the sadder the person. So I thought, who looks happier than Ayame? Click came first as a project in L.A. We were supposed to write a script/transcript of a event involving angst or irony. The discussion was still bouncing around in my head, so out it came. For I long time, I didn't dare post anything on here, but when I got over it, Click got put in here. It's one of the stories I'm most proud of. Still, it didn't really feel finished, so I started writing this prequel, The Darker Side of Ayame Sohma. It begins a month before Click and follows Aya's slow descent. I wrote it mainly because I wanted to, but after being asked for another chapter and some questions raised by certain people (you know who you are) I decided to post it as a seperate story. As the name suggests, The Darker Side will be a lot more serious as both Aya and the others try to figure out what is going on. There will be random transcript chapters put in from time to time in keeping with the theme, but most of it will be third person. Aya, although the central character, won't have any portions from his perspective, as Shigure and Hatori are really in a much better position to figure out his mind than he is. May also contain a lemon at one point.

Disclaimer- I don't own them. Wish I did. Also wish I had a bajillion dollars and a private Caribean island to which I could retire with my charming and dashing lover. But I can only dream. And dress warmly.

Anyway, enough rambling. On with the angst!

The Darker Side of Ayame Sohma

Ayame walked alone down the empty halls of his high school. Each of his footsteps echoed through the lonely halls like a gunshot, shattering the spooky peace. Aya had the distinct feeling that he shouldn't be there, but… something was drawing him forward.

He felt, more than heard, the presence of the man in front of him and looked up. Shigure stood at the end of the hall, arms crossed over his chest, a smug look on his handsome face.

Ayame tried to greet him, but no words came out. He touched his throat, wondering what was going on, and was shocked to see blood on his hands. He felt along his throat, feeling the edges of the gapping gash on his throat but not believing it was there. Then, he realized that crimson blood was gushing from jagged slashes all the way down his arms as well, covering his entire naked body in sticky heat. They were laughing at them, the ones all around. They closed in on him, pinning him in the middle of their taunting ring. The students of his old high school, customers in his shop, even random people in from the streets, all laughing at him. He whirled around, desperate for a friendly face.

"Stop it! Why are you laughing? I'm bleeding, can't you see, I'm hurt, I'm going to bleed to death, why are you laughing at me?" He screamed, shrinking in on himself as they all seemed to get taller. He whirled again as he felt the ghost of a breath on his bare shoulder and looked into Shigure's deep brown eyes.

"Their laughing at you, Aya." said Shigure without moving his lips.

"Why, Shigure, why are they laughing? I'm hurt, I'm bleeding, I'm dying Shigure, help me!" Aya sobbed and collapsed into his arms. Salty tears poured from his eyes and choked sobs wracked his body as Shigure gently held him.

"Their laughing at you, Aya, because you're funny .You're weird. You're queer. You're fucking hilarious. "

Aya froze, shivering. This didn't sound like Shigure any more.

"That's right, my little snake. I'm the only one who will ever hold you gently, even in your dreams. That bastard dog just wants to fuck your pretty little brains out." Akito's poisonous tongue darted out, stroking the curved inside of Aya's ear.

"No… Shigure… Loves me…" Aya whispered, shuddering from head to toe.

"Then why does he never hold you? Neither the dog, nor the dragon, will ever wrap you lovingly in their arms as I do. Only I will ever hold you softly. Only I will ever kiss you like you were a man instead of a blown-up doll. Only, I, Ayame. Only I." Ayame said nothing. He simply cried.

Ayame was smiling, but he wasn't happy. Shigure knew it. If Aya thought he didn't see the way he pretended to eat, the way he had to do things two or three time before he got them right… The way he flinched away from even Shigure's most innocent gestures… Then Aya was a dimmer bulb than he thought. Still, it was Aya's life. If Aya wanted to tell him, then he would. It wasn't his place to ask, and he probably wouldn't tell Shigure if he did. Ayame leaned on Hatori when times got bad. So did Shigure, actually. And when times got bad for Hatori, well, they were all lost.

Shigure watched Aya stumble about the small kitchen he kept in the back of his shop, preparing tea. He talked constantly, but Shigure didn't even hear it. He was watching.

Ayame had tied his hair back. Not braided it or anything, just pulled it back and tied it with a cheap pink elastic. He kept pushing at his bangs and flicking his hair over his shoulder like it was annoying him. He paced back and forth across the kitchen, wringing his hands. He kept wiping his palms on his frilly apron. He must have washed his hands twice in the last five minutes. To anyone else, he might have just looked a little too energetic for the task at hand, but to Shigure… something was wrong.

"So I said to him, why bother looking at other options? Your just going to come back here any-" Ayame was cut off as Shigure grabbed his arm and forced him to stop moving. As Shigure looked into his golden eyes, for the first time since he had met Aya, he saw in them genuine fear; fear of him. "Gure-san…?" Aya whispered, "You're hurting me…" Shigure let him go, and Aya stumbled backwards into the countertop.

"Damn it, Aya… You tell me everything but what I want to know." Shigure growled, not breaking eye contact. Aya stared at him for a long moment, in shock, then turned away.

"There's nothing to tell, Shigure. I have to get back to the shop." Aya walked out into the front area without another word. For a long moment, Shigure stood there, staring at the place where his lover had once stood. Then he too turned and left, out the back way.

"Thursday, August 12, 1992, 5:34 pm. Dr. Sohma Hatori attending. Subject 492084, Sohma Ayame. Impromptu session."

"Do you really need that thing, Hatori? It irritates me. Can't we just talk like we used to?" Aya sighed, pacing back and forth across the already threadbare carpet in that particular section of Hatori's office.

"You know we can't do that, Ayame. As your psychiatrist, I have to maintain a professional distance." Hatori lent back in his chair, watching Aya with a concerned look on his face.

"Screw professional distance! I just want to talk to you, damn it!" Ayame practically shouted and collapsed into a nearby chair Hatori hastily scooted into place. He pulled his legs up to his chest and buried his face into the lavender fabric of his pants.

Almost absently turning off the tape recorder, Hatori pulled up a chair next to him. He gently touched Ayame's shoulder and frowned as Aya flinched away.

"What happened, Aya?" Tori whispered. Aya's only answer was a muffled whimper.

Hatori had the sudden urge to grab hold of Aya and never let him go. He wanted to hold him and let him cry on his shoulder and protect him from whatever it was that was hurting him. Something told Hatori that whatever he did, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't 'fix' Aya. Like he couldn't fix Kana. No, worse. He couldn't even cut Aya's pain out of his head.

"I had a dream, Tori-san…" Aya whispered. Hatori had to lean in to hear. "I had a nightmare. But it wasn't, because it was true. I'm all alone, Tori. I'm so alone…"

Hatori felt the edges of tears pushing at his eyes. Aya was his happiness. When he felt down, all he had to do was drop in on the normally charismatic snake and the world would seem right again. Seeing him like this made Hatori's sun burn out.

"You're not alone, Aya. You have me and Shigure and Mine and all the rest of us. We're all here for you."

Ayame looked up at him and smiled. It reminded him so much of Yuki's painful smile that for an instant, he wasn't sure if it was Aya or his younger brother sitting in that chair.

"Thank you, Tori-san. I know you are."

What that smile said was 'No your not. Your not here at all.'

Shigure was desperate. He couldn't find Ayame anywhere. He had called and left several increasingly frantic messages at both the shop and Ayame's house. Then he had visited both. He had called Hatori, and he said he hadn't seen the snake since yesterday. Shigure had even called home. It was like Ayame had dropped off the face of the earth.

"What if he's all alone and cold out there somewhere, in his snake form and helpless? What if he got eaten by a dog? Or a bird? Or what if…" Shigure glanced towards the house, thinking of Ayame's attitude over the past couple of days.

"Gure-san? What are you doing standing in the middle of my yard?" Ayame blinked, looking absolutely ridiculous in a giant straw sun-hat and a designer 'gardening' outfit. He looked like a French maid with kneepads.

"AYAME! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!" Shigure practically launched himself at the startled snake, taking him by the shoulders and shaking him until his sun-hat fell off. "WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL DAY!

Batting his hands away and looking almost annoyed, Ayame bent to retrieve his hat. "Yuki isn't the only one with a garden, thank you very much. I'm glad you're worried about me, Shigure, but you rumpled the lace." Making a ridiculously cute pouty face, he crossed his arms over his chest, hat in one hand. Shigure laughed, more out of relief than anything, and wrapped his arms around the thin snake.

"I'm glad your all right… " Shigure whispered, kissing Aya's ear.

"I'd be better if we were inside doing something 'fun'…" Aya whispered back, nuzzling his neck. Shigure grinned and scooped the snake into his arms. Giggling like school girls, they went off to bide their time in the bedroom.