Okay, this is what I get for reading the first four in a row and staying up until 4 AM each morning studying for exams. I'm totally going to hell for this. Feel free to rip into this; I'm ripping into myself for it. But it had to be done, for the sake of my sanity. First Law of Alchemy: Equivalent Exchange. This story, which will send me to fanfic hell traded for my sanity.

AU, because Yassen is killed at the end of Eagle Strike, which I was hoping would kill the bunny for this, but it's a stronger bunny than I thought. I'm completely ignoring everything that happens after Eagle Strike. And I'm making Yassen 25 years old. Why? Because I can.

I do not own Yassen, Alex, or any of the other characters that pop up from random places. If I owned any of them, I'd be insanely rich, and their stories would be very different.

Oh yeah, sorry if the grammar is really bad, and I'll translate anything at the end.

Been a long road to follow

Been there and gone tomorrow

Without saying goodbye to yesterday

Are the memories I hold still valid?

Or have the tears deluded them?

Maybe this time tomorrow

The rain will cease to follow

And the mist will fade into one more today

Something somewhere out there keeps calling

Am I going home?

Will I hear someone singing solace to the silent moon?

Zero gravity. What's it like?

Am I alone?

Is somebody there behind these heavy aching feet

Still the road keeps telling me to go on

Something is pulling me

I feel the gravity of it all

Gravity by Maaya Sakamoto

The Pull of Gravity

"Then Yassen spoke again and everything in Alex's life changed forever.

'I couldn't kill you,' he said. 'I never would have killed you. Because, you see, Alex…I knew your father.' … 'We were in the Amazon …he saved my life. In a way, I loved him. And you, Alex, are so very much like him.'"

Alex lay in his bed, with these words running through his head. He thought he would have been happierwhen the man who had killed his uncle had died. Instead, he felt more confused than anything. And empty. The emptiness was the strangest part of it. Why would he feel empty about Yassen dying? Was it because he had wanted to kill Yassen himself? Or was the emptiness simply because Yassen had died? Alex pulled the covers over his head and rolled over to his side, trying to fall asleep. It took him another hour of confused emotions to achieve it.

The next morning, he wandered into the kitchen to see Jack sitting at the table, on the phone with a plate of toast in front of her.

"Uh-huh. Yeah. I'll tell……oh wait. Here he is." She took the phone away from her mouth and covered it with her hand. "It's M16. They want to apologize for not trusting you with Cray by giving you a vacation to Japan."

Alex raised an eyebrow. The last time M16 had sent him on a "vacation", he had almost ended up being eaten by a shark, adopted by a madman, and being put through a woodchopper. He took the phone with a suspicious "Hello?"

Two hours later, Alex found himself inside M16 headquarters, sitting across a desk from Alan Blunt and Ms. Jones.

"……….so basically, Alex, we'd like to offer you a trip to Japan to relax. Honestly, it's not a mission or anything related. We just want you to relax and try to forget everything that's happened."

Alex could read the thinly veiled underlying message easily: that they wanted him out of the country, and as far away from Venice as possible, and to forget what Yassen had told him about his father. Another thinly veiled message Alex picked up on was that this "vacation" was not an offer; it was an order. As much as he wanted to decline in favor of going to Venice, he knew that if he tried to turn it down, Blunt and Jones would find some way of making him go to Japan. And quite frankly, he was tired of arguing with them. He figured that he could fly to Venice from the Tokyo airport when he got there.

"Fine. I'll go."

The next day, Alex found himself on a plane to Tokyo. He closed his eyes, sighed, and sank into the cramped airline seats in economy class. Couldn't M16 have at least gotten him business class seats if they wanted him to relax? He gave another sigh and looked around the crowded plane. He was just about to close his eyes and try to sleep when his eyes fell on a man about two rows up on the other side of the plane. His breath caught in his throat. It couldn't be! The elderly man sitting next to him asked "Daijyobu desuka? Kaoiro no warui da. Yuurei wo miruka?" Alex turned away and glanced confusedly at the old man. Japanese was one of the languages he hadn't learned under Ian Rider's tutelage.

Just then, he heard a soft voice ask "Eigo wo hanashimasuka?" towards the old man. When the man shook his head, the voice continued, to Alex this time. "He asked if you were alright and if you had seen a ghost." Alex's heart skipped a beat again. "Tell him I'm fine, and yes, I did."

Yassen mouth twitched slightly, but he translated and repeated what Alex had said. The old man shot a curious glance at the teenage boy at his side and the older Russian man who had appeared out of nowhere, but then turned away. Alex, however, was not so quick to dismiss. "What are you doing here? I thought you were dead!" he hissed, so that no other passengers could hear.

"There's no need to be so secretive. The old man speaks no English. I asked him." Yassen replied as he slid into the empty seat between Alex and the old man. "The wound was not fatal, and the medics who arrived on the scene shortly after were able to save me."

Alex turned away and tried to ignore the assassin calmly sitting next to him. He let his eyes rove the plane one more time before finally shutting them and falling asleep. When he woke up, he was on full alert as he turned to look at Yassen. Yassen had his eyes closed, but as Alex knew, that didn't mean he couldn't wake up at the drop of a hat. Once again, Alex found himself wondering exactly why he had felt so empty believing Yassen was dead. His mind was working furiously when he heard the words "It's not polite to stare, Alex." Alex looked over at Yassen, who was in the exact same position as before, with the exception of his now open eyes, which held an amused expression.

Alex dared to ask the question to which he didn't really want to know the answer to. "Why are you going to Japan? Who's your target this time?"

Yassen nevermissed a beat. "No one. I'm going to learn a few things from an assassin who works for the government, the Sakurazukamori. I've been told it's a very important position, and yet no one knows who he is. And now I turn the question to you: Why are you going to Japan? Another mission?"

Alex shook his head. "No. I'm trying to put that behind me. I'm on vacation."

Yassen gave an imperceptible nod. "I've supposedly got a tour guide who's picking me up at the airport," Alex added, without really meaning to.

Yassen gave another nod and was silent for the remainder of the flight.

When Alex got off the plane and through customs, he stood in the receiving lounge of the airport, watching the myriad of different people race around him, catching flights, claiming baggage, greeting friends and family. He looked around for the boy who was supposedly his tour guide. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around to face a boy who was slightly shorter, with fine black hair, bright green eyes, and a small blush, quite possibly at his outfit, which was outrageous, even for Tokyo.

"Konnichiha. Sumeragi Subaru desu. Hajimemashite doozou yoroshiku." The boy lilted, in a soft, shy voice.

"……ah. I don't speak Japanese. I'm sorry."

The other boy's blush deepened. "Oh no, it's my fault! I'm Subaru Sumeragi. It's very nice to meet you!"

Alex remembered something he had learned somewhere. "….um…sorry for asking, but which is your first name, and which is your last, and which would you prefer?"

"Sumeragi is my family name, but you can call me either Sumeragi-san or Subaru-san, whichever you prefer."

Subaru led Alex out of the airport and out to a van where a man in a suit was leaning against it. "Ah! Subaru-kun, kore wa kimi no atarashi tomodachi desuka?"

Subaru's blush deepened again, and Alex wondered how red it was possible for the boy to turn. "a-ano, Seishirou-san, he doesn't speak Japanese."

The man's face brightened a little. "Really? Well, that's fine. You can help teach Subaru-kun some more English!"

"Alex-kun, this is Seishirou Sakurazuka. He's my…." Subaru stuttered as he searched for the right word in English.

Seishirou grinned at Alex and winked. "What my Subaru-kun means to say is that we're good friends, soon to become fiancés."

Subaru's face reached another shade of red. "Se..Seishirou-saaan! Chigau! Gomenasai, Alex-kun. Seishirou-san is a very good friend of my sister's and mine."

Seishirou opened the van door to let Alex inside, while Subaru walked around to climb into the front seat. When Alex climbed in, he was surprised, and not exactly pleasantly, to find Yassen sitting there in the back seat. Subaru also looked a little surprised.

Seishirou supplied a quick answer. "Gomen ne, Subaru-kun. I hope you don't mind that I agreed to give this man a ride. He just looked so lost, looking for taxis, so I asked him where he was going, and he listed an address near the veterinary office, so I asked if he wanted a ride!"

Alex was rather suspicious of this answer. For once thing, he was suspicious of Seishirou as a person; there seemed to be a lot more than the goofy man than he had seen so far. Also, Yassen wouldn't have taken a ride from a random person, no matter how close that person had lived or worked; he was too careful an assassin for that. The final thing was that the family name Subaru had given Seishirou: Sakurazuka. It sounded far too close for comfort to Sakurazukamori for Alex's taste.

Seishirou dropped Alex and Subaru off at an apartment complex with the comment "Say hello to Hokuto-chan for me, Subaru-kun!" as he drove off, with Yassen still in the backseat.

Alex followed Subaru to an apartment, where he was told to trade his shoes for house slippers, and had barely gotten one shoe off when he heard a shrill voice shriek, "Subaru-chan! Okaeri!" and was tackled from behind. He turned around to see a girl who was obviously Subaru's twin, who was also dressed in a strange outfit, except hers was complete with cat ears, wings, and a tail. She pouted slightly. "Sei-chan couldn't stop by?"

Subaru finished removing his shoes and shook his head. "He had a tourist of his own to drop off."

The girl had a mockingly serious face as she addressed Subaru. "Now, Subaru-chan. You're almost seventeen. If you want Sei-chan to stay at night, you need to be able to say so!"

Subaru, who, during the ride home, had lost his blush, blushed a rather bright red. "Hokuto-chan!" he exclaimed, making Alex wonder what the girl had said. "Ah, gomen. Alex-kun, this is my sister, Hokuto Sumeragi. Hokuto-nee-san, this is Alex Rider. He doesn't speak Japanese." Subaru spoke very formally, the use of the stronger honorific trying to put the previous conversation behind him.

Hokuto smiled warmly. "It's nice to meet you, Alex-kun! I'm Subaru-chan's fabulous older sister; I make all his clothes and I cook! There's nothing I can't do!" She adopted a rather heroic pose, accompanied by a laugh of "oh ho ho ho ho!" Alex couldn't help but laugh a little. Maybe this vacation would do him some good.

Hokuto turned to Subaru, more serious now. "You know, Subaru-chan, you can still call Sei-chan and ask him over for dinner."

Subaru's reply was a noncommittal "ha-hai."

"If you don't, just know I will!" Subaru groaned and sank his head into his hands. "Wakatta, wakatta." He picked up the phone and dialed.

An hour later, the five of them, Subaru, Hokuto, Seishirou, Alex, and Yassen were sitting around the table, Seishirou commenting on how good the food was, Hokuto making suggestive comments about her brother and Seishirou, Alex observing, and Yassen silently eating. Seishirou had explained that the man Yassen was supposed to stay with had left for Kyoto on urgent business, and had not left a key, so was staying with him. It seemed that Alex was the only one who found this at all suspicious.

After dinner, Seishirou and Subaru had helped Hokuto clean up dinner, leaving Yassen and Alex at the table together. Once they were out of hearing range, Alex leaned over and, in a hushed whisper, asked, "Is Seishirou the……..?" he trailed off. Yassen nodded. "Quite the coincidence that your tour guide and mine know each other."

Hokuto jumped into the room, a gleeful expression on her face. "That's it! You two are my new project!"

Alex whipped his head around to stare in awe and confusion at Hokuto, and Yassen looked mainly amused, but his eyes showed his confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?" Alex demanded.

"It means she's going to try to get you two together, making you clothes and teasing you about it the entire time." Subaru, the voice of experience, entered the room, Seishirou right behind him.

"Wait! What makes you think that we'd even mnmph!" Subaru had clamped his hand down on Alex's mouth. He whispered in Alex's ear, "No matter what you do or say, she'll find a way around it. Trust me. Just go along with it; you can forget whatever happens when you leave."

Meanwhile, Hokuto's mind was spinning with ways to get her brother's tourist and Sei-chan's adopted tourist together. "Sei-chan! Don't you think those two would make a good couple?"

Seishirou nodded solemnly. "They do seem to know each other. Maybe with some of your magic……"

Alex groaned and put his head on the table. Maybe this vacation wouldn't be so relaxing after all.

The next morning, Hokuto had arranged a trip to Tokyo Tower, "for the sake of the tourists" she proclaimed, and could not resist reminding Subaru of what had happened last time, which made him blush furiously, grab Alex's hand, and literally drag him out of the apartment, with Seishirou and Yassen on their heels.

This time, in the van, Yassen took the front seat, and he and Seishirou had a conversation in Japanese while Subaru and Alex had a chat in the back.

"So, what's this about your sister trying to get Yassen and me together?"

Subaru blushed. "Sorry about that. When Nee-san gets an idea in her head, especially one involving getting couples together, she won't let it go until it's done. At least you two seem to know each other; Seishirou-san and I had barely known each other a week before she tried to push us together. Sorry for my asking, but how do you know Yassen-san?"

Now it was Alex's turn to blush, albeit much more discreetly and much less. "Well, Yassen worked with my father, but I've really only known him for a few months." He couldn't mention how he knew Yassen, or why he'd only known him for a few months, or how he had learned of Yassen was when Yassen had killed Alex's uncle. It seemed that Hokuto had a tendency to pick assassins to pair people up with.

The four found themselves looking out over Tokyo from the special observance deck, watching the city continue its daily routine. Soon, it would be night, and the lights of Tokyo would come on, a sight comparable only to Paris from the Eiffel Tower, on which Tokyo Tower was based. Suddenly, Alex felt himself growing very sleepy. He tried to look around, but the last thing he saw was Subaru collapsing to the ground, and then blackness.

When Alex woke up, he immediately looked around to get his bearings. He determined that he was still on Tokyo Tower, and still on the special observing deck. Subaru was asleep on the ground nearby, but Seishirou and Yassen were nowhere no be found. All of a sudden, a light was shone in his face. It was Seishirou, holding a flashlight, with Yassen pointing another one around the deck.

"There was a power outage while you and Subaru-kun were sleeping. The elevators were out, and I suppose they figured that once the power was starting to go out, everyone would try to take the elevator down, and that the remainder would take the stairs. So basically, we're locked in for the night. Isn't this familiar, Subaru-kun?"

Subaru, who had woken up when Yassen was scanning the area with the flashlight, blushed again.

The four of them sat a while longer, watching the lights of Tokyo, when Alex's stomach growled.

Seishirou laughed. "I guess we should go find some food. Ikimashou, Subaru-kun!"

The two of them disappeared into the darkness, leaving Alex and Yassen alone looking out over the city and harbor.

As soon as Alex thought Subaru and Seishirou were out of hearing, he asked Yassen, "What really happened back there?"

Yassen's blue eyes flashed. "Seishirou truly is a master assassin. Did you notice anything suspicious about his appearance when we returned?"

Alex shook his head. "That just goes to show. Seishirou kills, not using guns or any modern technology, but using his hand. His victims never even see him coming. He uses something called dark onmyoujitsu to dispose of the bodies. I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it. The sakura petals completely engulfed it, and it disappeared." Yassen's voice held a note of respect, though his face never showed it. "I can see why I'm here to learn from him."

Alex's shudder went unnoticed in the dark. Had his father mentored Yassen in the same way all those years ago? Had Yassen been as in awe of his father's killing techniques? Would Yassen one day be killed as his father had? Again unseen, Alex's eyes widened in the dark. Where had that thought come from? He shook his head, but this time, Yassen saw.

"Alex?"

"Yassen, why didn't you kill me?"

"I told you. I don't kill children."

"I don't buy that; you know that. You're too professional a killer."

"I also told you this. Your father saved my life once, and was about the closest thing I could have to a family for a while. You resemble him in many ways, and because of that, I could never kill you."

Alex's mind was still processing this information when he felt a hand lightly stroke his hair. Instead of jerking away like his brain told him to, he leaned slightly into the hand. Alex was beginning to understand just why he had felt empty when he had thought the Russian dead. And why he couldn't have killed him on the boat. When he was pulled against the assassin's side, he just leaned his head back to rest on Yassen's arm.

They sat like that, not speaking, until they heard Subaru's cry of "Seishirou-saaan!", and Alex sprang away, a blush on his face that could have rivaled one of Subaru's. He got it under control just in time as Seishirou and Subaru came up the stairs with an armload of snacks each. The four of them had a mini-campfire, the fire supplied by Seishirou's lighter and a stack of papers from inside Subaru's coat. Seishirou kept trying to feed Subaru, who would blush and cry out, but would eat it anyways. Alex couldn't help but laugh whenever this happened. When the other two were lightly bickering about something, Yassen's voice whispered in Alex's ear, "Would you like me to feed you?" Alex could hear the teasing note in his voice, but still blushed slightly and shook his head. He could only imagine Hokuto's pride and teasing if she found out that both of her couples had shown more than friendly feelings toward each other. No, it was better to keep it secret. For now, anyways.

In the morning, the four of them made their way down to the lower lobby and waited for the employees to unlock the doors and release them. They had a bit of explaining to do, but they got off okay. Hokuto was there to meet them, and when she saw the four, she immediately raced over, and exclaimed, "So! Did anything happen? Subaru-chan, you're blushing. Oooh-woo! Go Sei-chan! And you, Alex?"

Alex had prepared for this. He hadn't played multiple parts as a spy without taking a few acting skills away from it. He just rolled his eyes and glared at Hokuto. She just laughed and clapped him on the back. "I'll find a way to get you two together before you leave!"

When Alex left, a week later, Hokuto saw him off with a very disappointed face. "You would have made such a cute couple! Come visit if you can!" Alex had just nodded, smiled and waved goodbye. He had climbed into the van, in the backseat with Subaru again, with Yassen and Seishirou in the front.

When the four arrived at the airport, Subaru hugged his new friend goodbye and made him promise to visit if he could. Alex had, knowing that it was a rather empty promise, as the Bet would be ending soon. Seishirou and Subaru saw him and Yassen off until security. Alex had decided to return to London before going to Venice to search for Scorpia, but Yassen had a job out in Australia.

Although Alex had not thought Yassen to be someone who would display affections, when they parted, Yassen had given Alex a soft kiss. Alex had blushed, because although they had not exactly been out in the open, it was still a kiss. Two girls nearby had giggled, and one had started reaching into her bag until the other whacked her over the head with a fan produced from somewhere. "Koichi, yamete!" The girl who had been reaching for a camera rubbed her head "Itai! Kira-chaaan! Demo, hontou ni kawaii da!" The second girl had just nodded and dragged the other off. Alex turned towards Yassen for a translation. The assassin still showed no emotion on his face, but his eyes were mirthful.

"Koichi thought we were really cute and wanted to take a picture, and Kira told her to stop." His mouth turned up a little in a smile at the thought. An announcement came over the loudspeaker. "That's my flight. I have to go now, koi."

Alex looked confused. "Isn't a koi a fish?"

Yassen smiled. "It can be. Find a dictionary and look it up. Try asking those girls what it means. Aishiteru, koibito." He kissed Alex lightly on the forehead and headed off towards the gate.

Once he was out of sight, Alex sank into one of the seats near his gate. He looked around for the two girls who had been giggling. He found them looking at the pictures in Koichi's camera. As he came up behind them, he was startled to see a picture of Subaru and Seishirou on the camera screen, but shook it off. He tapped one of them on the shoulder. The girl turned around.

"Konnichiwa."

The girls looked at each other, and squealed "Kawaii!" Then, one turned toward him. "Hai?"

Alex paused for a moment, thinking of the right words. Subaru had taught him a little Japanese, but he was still very shaky. "Eiga wo hanashimasuka?"

The girls looked at each other, and shook their heads. "iie."

Alex sighed. He hoped the next words were what he wanted to say. " Koi wa eigo de nan desuka?"

The reply he got was "Koi wa koi da."

He tried again. "Aishiteru to koibito wa eigo de nan desuka?"

This time, the two girls squealed again. The first one, Kira, giggled and explained with a very large grin, "Aishiteru means I love you, and koibito is loved one. Isn't that cute, Koichi?"

Alex started to blush, but then he started, and turned towards them angrily. "I thought you said you didn't speak English!"

The second girl, Koichi, grinned and shook her head. "No, you asked if we spoke movie. Which I don't think we do."

Alex threw his hands up in frustration and stalked away. At least he had found out what Yassen had said.

As he got on the plane back to London, he resolved to learn more Japanese.

Owari

Translations:

Daijyobu desuka? Kaoiro no warui da. Yuurei wo miruka: Are you alright? You look pale. Did you see a ghost?

Eigo wo hanashimasuka: Do you speak English?

Konnichiha. Sumeragi Subaru desu. Hajimemashite doozou yoroshiku: Hello. I'm Sumeragi Subaru. It's very nice to meet you.

Ah! Subaru-kun, kore wa kimi no atarashi tomodachi desuka: Ah! Subaru, is this your new friend?

Se..Seishirou-saaan! Chigau! Gomenasai, Alex-kun.: Se-Seishirou-saaan! That's not it at all! I'm sorry, Alex.

Gomen ne: Sorry

Okaeri: Welcome home

Nee-san: older sister

Wakatta: I understand

Ikimashou: Let's go

Onmyojitsu: spiritual powers

Sakura: cherry blossoms

Yamete: stop it

itai! Kira-chaaan! Demo, honto ni kawaii da: Ouch! Kira! But, they're so cute!

Koi: in this case, it means love. Yes, it is a fish.

Aishiteru, koibito: I love you. Koibito is a kind of nickname lovers use. Literal translation: loved one

Eiga wo hanashimasuka: Do you speak movie? (Eiga means movie, Eigo means English)

Koi wa eigo de nan desuka: What is koi in English?

Koi wa koi da: Koi are koi. (here, Koichi is purposely frustrating Alex by taking koi as the fish koi)

Aishiteru to koibito wa eigo de nan desuka?: What do Aishiteru and Koibito mean in English?

Owari: finish/end

Author's note: good lord, I'm glad I got that out of my system. That ended up a lot lighter than it originally was, and much lighter on the CLAMP cameos. The TB trio always ends up in my fics somehow, and it really didn't help that Sei-chan and Yassen were so comparable. I mean, cold-hearted assassins who don't care who they kill, but have a soft spot for one boy. How could I not compare them? And it was just too tempting especially after I read in Eagle Strike that Yassen was learning Japanese. It was like a flag. But yeah; basically my friend and I make our cameos as our stupid yaoi whore selves. Don't know what yaoi is? You're probably better off. This is more shounen-ai anyways. I read the first four books, and just couldn't shake the thought that Yassen and Alex would make a good couple. And then this fic just took over what little sanity I had left, and to regain it, I had to write this. Gomenasai! It was fun bringing them to Japan, though.

I mention a lot of Subaru and Seishirou in this, and how Seishirou is the Sakurazukamori, an assassin who work for the government, killing off people who pose a threat to the future of Japan. The Sumeragi family, Subaru and Hokuto's family, are eternal enemies of the Sakurazukamori. Subaru is the 13th Head of the Sumeragi family, meaning he has some damn good onmyojitsu skills. The Bet: When Subaru was 9 and undergoing the ceremony to become the Head, he saw Seishirou kill a little girl in a sakura tree in Ueno Park. The Sakurazukamori is supposed to kill anyone who sees him or her killing their prey, but instead, Seishirou made a bet with Subaru. If they were to meet again, they would live together for a year, and Seishirou would try his best to feel any type of emotions for Subaru. The Sakurazukamori has no emotions; they do not feel as they kill; they do not see people as anything but objects. So basically, this was a bet to see if Subaru could get Seishirou to feel. Seishirou marks the back of Subaru's hands with the mark of the Sakurazukamori so he can find Subaru again in the future, and erases his memory. Seven years later, they meet on a train station. Subaru wears gloves to cover the marks, but Seishirou still knows. In the time this fic takes place, it's about half a year through the bet. (between vol. 3 and 4 for those of you TB aware) Seishirou told the bet to Yassen, who told Alex. Subaru and Hokuto have no idea Sei-chan is the Sakurazukamori, but Hokuto makes all these jokes about Sei-chan being the Sakurazukamori anyways, and Subaru keeps having flashback dreams of the bet. Except he has no idea what's going on in them. Which is why Alex says his promise is an empty one because the end of the bet is near. Read Tokyo Babylon. It's worth it.