Paradise Lost

Author: Seraphim Grace
Archive: if you want it ask.
Feedback: Always appreciated and replied to.
Rating: R
Pairings: Previous YxA, present CxR

Timeline: Post Gluhen but pre side B

Spoilers: End of Gluhen

Notes: A songfic to Placebo's song to say goodbye, from the album Meds. Whenever I get a songfic idea it's almost always AyaxYohji and it's almost always like this. This was not the fiction I wanted to write, but it's the one that wanted to be written.

It is a common misconception I don't write AyaxYohji, because I do every now and again, it's just usually like this.

Wordcount: 4700 approx

The snow did little to cover New York's soullessness. It was a city that made a man feel small, as skyscrapers thrust like fists around the firmament. That the snow reached the pavement was a revelation in itself. He had thought that the snow would remind him of Tokyo. It didn't.

He had thought that all cities were the same.

He had been naive.

He had been wrong.

He keyed the door and pushed it open, his mind on other things, Renfield, their cat, met him, twining through his ankles before he picked him up and carried him into the parlour. Crawford was waiting.

He was sat with his legs crossed in front of him, his book flat against his thighs. Hungry and determined was how he spent his days. He was Aya's handler. Kritiker had taken advantage of his ability and shipped the pair of them to New York.

The city was soulless. It suited them.

There was always coffee in the pot in the studio kitchen. Renfield was a black stray that adopted them one day when Crawford had shared his tuna sandwich with him. They called him Renfield when he had chased and eaten a fly.

Renfield was rubbing up against him, pressing their faces together and mewling excitedly through the rapturous purring. In his socks Crawford was silent as he stepped up beside him and wrapped his arms about his waist. Aya wondered, as he always did, if he should relax into the warmth of his chest. "That cat likes you better than me." Crawford said against him as Aya allowed the cat to adore him. It was true, Crawford did almost everything to win the cat's affection and Aya reaped the benefits of Crawford's effort. "He pines when you leave."

"It was just a walk." Aya answered calmly, letting his head fall back against Crawford's. This was convenient. This was comfortable.

Crawford was comfortable. Crawford was convenient.

Love was for other people, Aya knew that, Comfortable and convenient was the best he could hope for.

He knew that if he died tomorrow, Crawford would mourn him for the appropriate amount of time before he handled someone else.

He knew that if Crawford died tomorrow he would probably mourn him for the appropriate amount of time.

In truth, he was more attached to the cat.

Renfield was an affectionate coal black nothing of feet and fur. One of his ears was torn and he was noisy. He would sidle up silently to Aya and yowl his love at the top of his voice, but he cared little for Crawford other than using him to get his own way or the treats that Crawford used to try and buy his affection. It was Crawford that bought him the expensive cat food, and it was Crawford that spent hours playing with him, but it was Aya that was adored. Crawford had been the one to take him in, and Crawford had been the one to name him.

He stood in their small kitchen, in front of the coffee pot, with the cat in his arms and Crawford's arms around him and knew this was better than he deserved but was glad of his selfishness. If he were a better man he would have walked away. If he were a better man then he would save Renfield and Crawford from himself.

This meant nothing.

This was comfortable and convenient. That, in itself, was reason enough.

Crawford never asked for personal details, he asked no questions. It was as if he too was worried about the very tenuous nature of their relationship, Aya balked at the word, but the body wanted even if the spirit knew it was irrelevant.

Crawford was like him- he didn't deserve to be free. He deserved no more than this.

Nevertheless the flesh hungered in its weakness. "You're cold." Crawford said into his neck as the cat rubbed his head along Aya's jaw.

"It's snowing." Aya answered calmly. "It doesn't seem to stop anything."

Crawford rubbed his hands up Aya's arms through the heavy coat he was wearing. "Go get changed," he said, "get a shower; get some warm clothes on, I'll get you some dinner."

Aya said nothing to this characteristic kindness. Crawford was his handler; it was Crawford's job to make sure he ate. It was Crawford's job to make sure he was healthy. It was Crawford's job to make sure he did what he was told.

Crawford was the best handler Aya had ever had. And the sex was good.

The shower was hot and long, he used Crawford's shower gel because it smelt safer, if such a word could be applied. He felt like he was flying apart and the water might just wash him away, and he could smell Crawford which reminded him of the feel of his arms around him, holding him together. He was a selfish terrible person to use Crawford in this way, but Crawford was as despicable as he was, he didn't deserve any better.

He let the water beat down on him, just too hot for comfort, hoping it might wash away the snow, and leave the city outside scoured clean. When he came out in a pair of Crawford's sweats and an oversized pullover, with his hair roughly towelled dry and a pair of suede slippers, Crawford had bought dinner.

He had bought Chinese, which sat in white boxes on the coffee table as Renfield mewled and rubbed against the boxes and Crawford's legs, asking for the prawns. Crawford knew better than to order Japanese, it just caused long awkward silences. Crawford was picking the chicken from his noodles with his chopsticks. He had built up the fire and laid a fur from some overly fluffy bear, that they had bought in an auction in one of their few couple moments, over the sofa. When Aya sat down he reached across him and pulled his feet up over his lap and handed him the box of lo-mein. Aya always had the same thing.

Crawford was warm, and his breaths soothing. The food was good and Aya knew, leaning against his lover, with his legs draped over him and his chest in the circle of Crawford's arm, that this was comfortable, that this was convenient. With a mewling yowl Renfield jumped up unto his lap, padding his stomach until it made a suitable pillow and curled into a warm ball of heartbeat and fur. He was right, this was comfortable, this was convenient and this was the best he could have. But sometimes, when it snowed, and he lay like this against his lover he wished the hair was blonde and not black, and that the smell was not of sage and clover, but cigarettes and whiskey, but he stood by his decision. Love was for other people, not for the likes of them.

Crawford's hands were rubbing into the meat and sinew of the soles of his feet, pushing the stress from him with talented fingers. Renfield was purring against his stomach so he was disinclined to complain when Crawford took the box from his hands and replaced it with a glass of fine red wine. It was like the blood of gods. Crawford could truly appreciate a fine wine. He took several sips before Crawford reached across him and kissed him, with the taste of the wine on his lips, spicy sour and full of meaty warmth. He kissed back accepting the hand that pulled away the glass and toppled the cat from his stomach. He melted into the warmth of the man that pushed him into the fur and the firelight. He was the one to pull away the oversized sweatshirt because the touch could push away the snow, could melt away what he felt.

Yet sometimes he wished that the perfectly kept hands were scarred, that the lips were lusher and the figure thinner. Sometimes he wished that the tongue that kissed him tasted less of oak and fire and more cigarettes and soba.

He knew better, love was not for the likes of him.

Short hair tangled between his fingers, a tongue tasted the food on his lips, a hard chest pressed him into the fur. This was everything, he thought, this was comfortable and convenient and the sex was good.

He didn't begrudge the way his fingers clumsily undid the buttons of Crawford's shirt, he didn't despise the hair that crisped and curled under his fingers. He didn't stop the breath that breathed into him, or the feel of milk caramel skin that was warmed by firelight.

Crawford's skin was cared for, moisturised and soft. He was warm, an antithesis to the cold brittle snow. "Do you want to take this to the bedroom?" Crawford husked against his ear.

"No," Aya replied, he wanted this, the softness, the firelight, the fur, for now. He pulled Crawford down on top of him, pressing hard thighs against his own, pulling him down as if he could melt him into the fur, as if the fire could burn it all away. He pulled him down as if the very weight of him could purge those feelings from him, could make him finally feel that it was enough.

Crawford was methodical, he kissed what he could not touch and touched what he could not kiss. He kissed the folds of flesh at armpit but the veins at his elbow he didn't. He had been pushed away too many times to make that mistake again. He kissed the bones of his wrists whilst his hands pushed along the meat of his abdominal muscles. A vicious tongue found the pebbled skin of his nipples whilst strong palms squeezed his hips. A raspy jaw rubbed along his skin whilst he cast his head back and forced himself to remember that this was Crawford, that this was comfortable, that this was convenient. And the sex was good.

But it was the wrong teeth that scraped along the skin of his throat.

It was the wrong hands that manipulated the skin of his back.

It was the wrong chest that pressed him down.

This was all he deserved.

The fur felt divine against his skin, a different texture to the hot sweaty hands that rubbed against his back. It was soft against the roughness of Crawford's desire. His mouth was hot and wet where the fire was dry heat. Crawford's hands lifted him, pushing his shoulders into the fur and cushions. He gave himself over to the hands, to the mouth, to the fire and the fur.

He gave himself over to the desire and the pressure, even the taste of wine that lingered on his lips and tongue. He fumbled his hands over the coffee table and finding the wine glass he lifted it, swallowing the contents and smirking at Crawford as he hungrily chased the flavour down his throat with his tongue.

Crawford was hungry and hard against him, lengths of muscle and strength. Crawford was smirking, sucking on his lips as he slid the grey marl sweats down off his hips. Crawford's trousers were a scratching grey tweed that felt delicious against his skin, against the hot tender flesh of his scrotum, the cool meat of his thighs. The inside of his knees felt hot.

"No lube," Crawford managed to say.

"Well, be inventive then, we have hands," Aya told him dropping the empty wine glass unto the carpet, "we have mouths."

The sex with Crawford was always great because Crawford was too much of a perfectionist to accept anything else. He played the body he was fucking like a lute, knowing where a humming vibration would work better than a tongue flick, and where nails were preferred over lips. Crawford would bring him to the apex again and again only to send him spiralling down with laughter and patience.

Pulling on his lips with his own Crawford slipped his strong arms under Aya's knees and under his shoulders, lifting him like a princess in a story.

Crawford had arranged a nice loft apartment in the city; it was split level with the door opening to a large parlour, an open kitchen and a vast dining table. There was a fireplace and art on the walls. There were expensive carpets and they even had a cat.

The bedroom was in what had been an office overlooking the lower floor, it was up two flights of stairs and was surrounded by brick and smoked glass. The bed was vast, the sort of oversized cushion that was only available in America bundled high with quilts and blankets. There was an overstuffed chair covered in a sheepskin that Renfield had taken over as his own. There was a wall of wardrobes and an ensuite bathroom with a wet room. Crawford kept Aya in the luxury to which Crawford was used. He wanted for nothing.

Yet the hair that tangled in his fingers was straight and black, slicked down with product, the eyes that hungrily watched him were amber brown, the colour of a cockroach's back. The voice that grunted and strained was deeper, richer with a nasal quality and a twang.

He had made this bed and he would be fucked on it.

Once he had loved.

He opened himself to Crawford's skilled touch, to Crawford's fingers and tongue but through the picture window he could see the slow fall of snow upon the sleepless city. It was said that no two snowflakes were the same. He thought people were the same, just frozen flecks of water taken away by the wind to fall and melt.

Once they had been magical, once they had been wondrous as he picked them out of oak blonde hair. Once he had kissed them from lush pink lips.

The snow was like a wound to him now.

He had loved and been loved, he had desired and been desired. He had had sex, not for it's own sake, or as a sport or an art to be excelled at, but because the body craved the touch of another. He had opened himself for love and pleasure and trust and all the things that two people should have.

He had done it because he had wanted to, knowing that he would give himself completely for love and to the man he loved.

He loved.

He had been broken.

He had been betrayed.

He had broken.

He had betrayed.

He didn't care how comfortable this thing with Crawford was, he would not betray him with thoughts of another lover when his hands were just so, and his mouth was there.

He arched into the hands and the mouth, and pushed against the burning hardness and when fingers sought entrance he admitted them, when Crawford's cock sought entrance he rocked up to meet it.

He was broken, but that didn't mean he would be cruel.

He gave his all to the man fucking him, to the cock that pushed and pulled inside him, to the mouth that sucked on his mouth, and the hands that clutched at him, and the arms that held him.

And when it was over, when Crawford allowed the passion within him to spiral out of control and explode, when the last remnants of their sex had been wiped away with wet wipes left beside the bed and the soiled cover sheet thrown to the side he lay against Crawford's chest and wondered why the little death was not enough to kill him.

Yet when he slept he dreamt of Tokyo.

He did not want to betray Crawford with thoughts of the lover who came before him, but lying against his chest, listening to the heart beat against his back and the quilts layered high above him he thought of another soft bed that looked towards a smaller window and the way the snow fell on a different fire escape.

It had started with simple things, an origami rose left on his worktable at the flower shop, sprayed with rose water so it smelt sweetly. A packet of his favourite tea that he never allowed himself because the money was better spent on other things than expensive tea. Then Takatori was dead and he could allow himself to be wooed. Yohji had been wooing him for a long time before, but he had other things to worry over, Takatori, his sister, revenge and he had gone nineteen years without such things, they didn't matter.

Then Takatori was dead and the paper roses managed to bring an involuntary smile to his face as he cupped them under his nose to find their elusive fragrance.

The tea was made for him and offered with a grin and a sparkle of his eyes.

Long conversations followed, conversations where they talked about anything and everything because they didn't have to keep secrets. Aya didn't have to lie about his scars because Yohji knew that they were honestly won, and somewhere having Yohji's interest became the need to have his approval.

Long conversations became slow kisses as Aya allowed himself, tentatively; worriedly; naively; to be wooed.

Somewhere chaste kisses became fumbling caresses and through it all there was laughter, there was joy, there was mockery, because, Yohji told him with a wicked grin, without laughter there was no point in this, and he being young, naïve and inexperienced believed him.

He knew better now.

There had been wine the night he lost his virginity to Yohji's repeated assurances of his beauty, softly calling him babe, love, beautiful, and my beautiful Aya. Yohji was eager to please and Aya inexperienced, coming quickly, too quickly, to Yohji's assurances and fingers.

After that they were inseparable, stealing kisses between shifts, lingering looks past dark beasts, and laughter. Throughout it all there was laughter and Aya knew with the dread certainty of a teenager, with the explicit promise of it being the first, and how he wanted it to be his last, that this, this, was love.

He was scared and awed and wonderstruck all at once. He was adored and adoring. He was, as much as he could be without his sister, happy. He wrote her long letters telling her all the things he could no longer confess at her bedside. He told her about the silly things Yohji would do, the way that they would sit on a park bench and he would fold the napkin from his pork bun into a rose for him, and slip it into his hair. And how they would laugh.

He told her about how they would lie in bed and Yohji, who he always called Yotan, and how we would be maliciously tickled until he couldn't breathe and how Yohji would just stare at him and how precious it made him feel even when he protested against it and pulled the blanket up over his face.

He kept the notes and the paper roses in a wooden box he spent more money on than he really should have, but he wanted to venerate those tokens, to enshrine them, because that was what one did when they were in love.

Then it started to fall apart.

Later he would say that there had been signs, the students on the subway practising Shakespeare "perdition catch my soul, but I do love thee," one of them said to his girl, a giggling sailor suited creature of ribbons and heavy mascara. He remembered thinking the next line to himself, appreciating the show of someone else in love.

The line in full was "perdition catch my soul but I do love thee, and if I love thee not, chaos is come again."

Later that would be considered a premonition, then it was just two teenagers on the train one being canny and using words he knew would get him laid.

But that afternoon on the crowded subway he ran over the words in his head and he did not consider how Othello was driven to murder by love, he did not consider how Romeo and Juliet ended up dead, he thought how lucky the writer must have been to love so well and to find the words to express it so clearly. He imagined himself lying there on Yohji's overstuffed bed and telling him "perdition catch my soul but I do love thee, and if I love thee not, chaos is come again."

He didn't get the chance.

Asuka had always been between them, like Aya-chan she was his goal, his goddess to whom Yohji was prostrate but unlike Aya-chan Asuka was dead. This made her immortal, she was perfect in ways a living woman never could have been. Aya understood that, he and Yohji were the same, she was an ideal, and a standard and how could he, pitiful with mortality ever hope to live up to her. But it didn't matter because Asuka was dead. Yohji mourned her with Aya and Aya helped him.

Aya knew death; he knew it with the intimacy of a lover. He knew it as someone who longed for it. He knew it as someone who traded a thousand lives for his sister. He knew it could be kind. He knew it was a beautiful garden at the end of a hard road. He knew it was nothing to be feared. But he also knew it could, like any mistress, be cruel.

With all cruelties she used his very heart against him.

Schreient's Neu was the image of Asuka, either by accident or design. She blinded Yohji; suddenly the eyes that filled his vision were black and not flawed lavender grey. He drowned in her and ignored Aya who loved him, but that was okay, because Aya loved and Aya understood, they were the same after all. They were lovers, he could be patient, he could love, he understood.

When the harigane strangled the life from the dark mirror of Asuka it was Aya's feet that Yohji knelt at. It was Aya's hands that he held as he fell apart, and it was Aya to whom he confessed everything, every dark thought. Aya had been grateful that he could offer so much, but wondered, as any mortal would, how he could live up to such expectations when he was so pitiful with his very mortality. How could a mere man survive such adulation?

For a time there was a distance between them, an unspoken silence, the long conversations were replaced by comfortable touches. The long tickling fights were replaced by long periods of quietude. They were comfortable and there was love and Aya believed with the terrible naiveté of youth that that was enough.

He wrote to his sister letters that he never sent and folded them, sealing them in envelopes he never addressed before placing them in the wooden box with the trinkets that Yohji had given him. He noticed how mildew was starting to grow on the paper roses.

The mobile flower shop was small and cramped but somehow a distance grew between them daily. Sometimes it was a wonder how the few inches in the bed between them could stray into universes. Sometimes a hand would stray across the divide to take it's counterpart but it was never clutched back – there was never a comforting squeeze.

During the sex, the one place that they could be honest with each other, sometimes other names were begun and strangled into familiar territory. Sometimes there was pain, but there was love, surely that was enough.

Their proximity and the relentless nature of their work was driving them mad. They went in cycles of being driven together then apart. They spent weeks away from each other and Aya both yearned for and dreaded his return.

But Aya loved him. That was enough, he thought, with the innocence of youth.

Yohji became more and more withdrawn. He cut away his hair and Aya could see him falling apart but could do nothing about it. He wasn't the only one. Ken had begun to crave the bloodlust, addicted to it, he was ruthless and relentless. Omi was becoming more machiavellian with every passing day as Aya settled into apathy.

This was the price of their service and he paid it, because he had love and surely that was worth the pain.

Shion's betrayal hurt because through it he could see Yohji's. As he bled into the water, he clutched to the handle of his sword because it had been true, because it could not betray, because it could not die, and he would need it in the next land.

But as kind as she could be, death could also be cruel and she loved him well. As he lay there in the boat he saw Yohji slipping away with him and tried his best to clutch on to him as much as he could.

So it did not surprise him when it ended, what surprised him was how.

He walked into Yohji's room to find him prostrate against the bed, half naked, his head lolling on a rubber neck. There was a belt pulled tight against his upper arm and a series of marks on the inside of his elbow.

He walked out and never came back.

When Persia asked for someone to train new team members Aya volunteered, not because he was unfit for duty, as Ken argued so plainly, but because he wanted distance. He saw how Sena looked at him and shook his head but said nothing, knowing that the only lover he had that would ever be true would be death and she would mark the boy. He wondered if he had once looked at Yohji that way.

When Yohji returned from Germany he was changed, made hollow. He had clutched Aya's hand, kneeling at his feet as he had when Asuka died and begged forgiveness, he had bared his soul, had said that he wanted to forget for it all to go away.

Aya pushed his hand away.

For the first time in years they had long conversations.

When the academy fell, when Aya mourned Kyo and Sena, he took the wooden box in which he kept the letters he had written to his sister and never sent, the paper roses Yohji had wooed him with, and he burned them. He asked Persia to send him away, anywhere, because Yohji couldn't remember, he had gotten what he wanted, for death could be kind but she could be cruel indeed.

Being with Crawford in New York was comfortable and convenient. It was a meeting of equals who wanted nothing more than intelligent conversation and occasional sex. The sex was always good. They were a couple simply because they were so very alike. Love was not for people like them, let it snow, he thought, let us all be buried in snow that never ends.

He sighed against Crawford's chest and melted into the warm arm that threw itself over him.

This was enough. He thought, this was all he deserved.