Characters/Pairings: Arthur/Kiku, slight Ivan/Yao.
A/N: I've finally moved this chapter to where it belongs. Thank you LePetitPappillon for suggesting that I should do so.

.x.O.x.

"What's the meaning of this, aru?" Wang Yao faintly turned his head toward the tall figure, his eyes darting up for a clear view of the visitor's countenance. His body lay limply on the bed, heavy with exhaustion; his head cocked to the side languidly. The dark rings under the foggy copper-brown eyes depicted the frailty that could be heard from the subdued quality of his voice. However, despite his wrecked physical state, Yao would not allow his pride to be stomped on by the Russian standing before him. The presence of the ash-blond upset him greatly, for he could feel the growing nausea from his insides, though Wang Yao would deny this reaction for the sake of his image. On the other hand, there was Ivan Braginsky clad in his roughly sewn, brown manteau. Ivan smiled at the reclined figure, his eyes closed cheerily, which made it difficult for the Chinese to distinguish his thoughts.

"Why, Yao, I haven't heard from you for a while," Ivan replied heartily, gradually opening his eyes, "I was beginning to think that you don't want to be found."

Yao looked around frantically, one of his hands busily, shakily searching for his jade sword, "Where are the guards? Somebody call the –"

Wang Yao felt a slight jerk on his wrist, only to realize that the Russian had pinned him to the bed. The Chinese gasped from surprise, his pupils dilating, as he struggled with what feeble strength he had left. Ivan pressed his face closer until he was about to hit Yao's nose; Yao's deep, auburn eyes could not leave Ivan's piercing gaze. Terror struck the Chinese as cold sweat trickled down his forehead.

"I've been waiting for weeks, Yao," Ivan dropped the good-natured exterior as his expression turned severe, his voice intensified, "What will your answer be?"

"How many times have I already told you? I don't want to become one with you. Not now, not ever," Wang Yao barked out his reply, "And don't you dare call me 'Yao.' You're no longer welcome to call me that or to this house."

"Why not?" Ivan narrowed his eyes – out of either dismay or frustration, it was difficult for Yao to tell, "You've accepted my aid in the past, but now you reject me. Is my offer not good enough?"

Wang Yao's concentration was failing him. He began to tremble as his pallid skin grew cold. His light pants transformed into wheezes, his head overcame by a throbbing ache that had been tormenting him day and night ever since his unusual craving had driven him to the edge.

"Stay away from Brother Yao," a soft voice threatened from behind the Russian, who felt a metal edge cut slightly into the flesh of his neck, "or I will truncate the rest of your head."

"Kiku?" Wang Yao muttered worriedly, as he pried open his eyes to find Kiku.

From the doorway, a young woman of long, platinum blond hair entered the room, wiping the blood drops off the blade of her dagger with a clean cloth. However, as soon as she found the Japanese holding his katana to Ivan's collar... "Brother Ivan!" She positioned her dagger and was prepared for a quick strike, but then Ivan raised his hand to arrest her advance.

"Don't mind me, Natalia," the Russian beamed cheerily at the girl, as he gashed a knife into the flank of Kiku's stomach.

"GAH!" a shriek of pain ensued.

When at last the Japanese had managed to lift his eyes to the Russian, Ivan was already a few feet away from the door, regarding the injured man condescendingly. The ash-blond shifted his head to Yao for one last look and then returned to Kiku, sending a wintry chill down Kiku's spine.

The foreboding grin on the Russian's face widened, as Ivan paused to exchange his final words of the day with the Japanese, "Since your brother isn't feeling well today, I'll return for another visit. Take care of him until then."

With that said, Braginsky brushed past him, and left soundlessly into the howling wind.

~END