Days Without Sun

Epilogue: Part III: Healing

Akihiko left Misaki and joined Santo Justino and Jadir out on the balcony.

Given the nature of New Day's clientele, every balcony in the clinic was enclosed with privacy blinds so that the gardens below could be enjoyed without unwanted observation. The spacious, terracotta-tiled ledge was also adorned with a number of potted topiary, a few chaise lounges, and a small ornate ironwork table with matching chairs.

Smoke curled up from the cigarette held in Santo Justino's fingers as he sat at the table. Jadir, in his wheelchair, was off a ways near the balcony's low, walled perimeter. He had his eyes closed and seemed to be lost in the feeling of the faint wind on his skin as it slipped through the slatted curtains.

Both Jadir and Santo Justino looked up at Akihiko's entrance, but neither said anything.

Though the detective had been spending numerous hours with Jadir, there were actually not many words shared between them. It was the same when Santo Justino accompanied Aikawa on her visits to Akihiko or Misaki, although Aikawa usually filled the space so that it was hardly noticeable. Akihiko too had been generally silent when he'd gone with Misaki to see Jadir while the Brazilian youth was still bedridden.

Perhaps it was the secrets shared between the three men that engendered this quiet; however, the silence was not uncomfortable.

Akihiko pulled out a chair and sat down across from Santo Justino at the table. Wordlessly Santo Justino pushed his pack over; after hesitating a moment, Akihiko pulled out a fag.

Their therapist had recommended against trying to quit right now, given all that he and Misaki were working through.

In addition to joint sessions with Misaki, Akihiko was seeing an individual counselor too in an attempt to relieve the recurring nightmares he had featuring Korovin. He had been reluctant to do so at first, but found it was also helping him sort through the complex feelings the arose as he walked with Misaki in his healing. There were things he needed to process but that he didn't want to bring up in their shared sessions, not as fragile as his boy was.

Seeing Usami lift the cigarette to his lips, Santo Justino passed his lighter over as well.

Pulling a deep drag, Akihiko coughed lightly. His brain rejoiced in the nicotine, but his lungs were still somewhat affected by whatever it was that Korovin had cursed him with. Turning his head to the side, Akihiko's eyes fell on Jadir and he noted the way the boy was looking longingly at the smoke.

"You smoke, Jadir?"

Jadir dropped his eyes and a blush filled his cheeks, embarrassed to be so clearly seen.

"I- I used to…"

Jadir's halting words caused Santo Justino to look over at him in surprise. He'd been like a chimney around the teen whenever they went out on Jadir's terrace and the boy had never said anything. "Kind of young for such a bad habit…" Even as the detective said this, however, he pointed to his pack and nodded at Jadir in offering.

Jadir nodded back and Santo Justino rose and moved the wheelchair over to the table.

After setting his false hand over the pack to hold it, Jadir extended his real hand and out pulled a cigarette. The operation was clumsy as he was still learning to use his prosthetics. Rather than offer assistance, both Akihiko and Augusto looked away, giving the boy some modicum of privacy in his struggle.

Jadir put the cigarette between his lips and picked up the lighter with his good hand. He flicked the flame, but rather than light up, he simply watched it dance in the lazy breeze. He set the lighter back down on the table and, a moment later, the unlit fag joined it.

Santo Justino looked at Jadir with a cautious curiosity. Like all Korovin's victims there was no telling what unexpected stimulus might trigger a flashback or worse, some sort of psychological break.

"Change your mind?"

Jadir's dark eyes met the detective's and Santo Justino was relieved to see that while they carried the faint light of fear that seemed ever-present, they were otherwise clear. Jadir nodded and looked away.

"I'm thinking I shouldn't start again… It wouldn't be good for…"

"Ah, here he comes! Look who's here, Misaki!"

Even though they had been holding their conversation in Portuguese, at Usami's over-bright hail Jadir left off speaking. His eyes lit up seeing Misaki step out onto the balcony. The limp in Misaki's steps from his healed ankles was barely noticeable.

Misaki had gathered himself; there was no evidence of his recent tears on his face although his eyes were still slightly red. He nodded at Usagi-san and then greeted Santo Justino shyly. His welcome for Jadir however, was much livelier.

"J-jadir, l-look at you! N-new hands!" Misaki stuttered slightly in his English pronunciation and was still embarrassed by his accent but, as Jadir didn't speak Japanese and his own Portuguese was still almost nonexistent, now that they could freely speak to each other, it had become their compromise. Fortunately Misaki was more comfortable around Jadir than most, so his self-consciousness usually dissipated relatively quickly and with this most of his verbal stumbling.

Rather than blush, Jadir smiled and proudly displayed his additions for Misaki to see. Misaki stepped over around the table and set his fingers on Jadir's false hand. He gave a little yelp when the fingers twitched and took light hold of his own.

"Too hard?" Jadir's heavily-accented voice held concern. He was still having difficulty with some of the sensors and knowing how much pressure he was exerting.

Misaki blushed. "No… n-not at all." He laughed softly, "B-but they move."

Looking up, Jadir offered "neural sensors" as if these two words explained everything. Misaki was the only person Jadir made eye contact with when he spoke and he waited expectantly for a response.

Misaki rubbed the back of his dark head and nodded. His English had improved quite a bit since Usagi-san had first started tutoring him but he still struggled sometimes with vocabulary.


His expression, however, revealed that he didn't really understand and this made Jadir laugh.

"Maybe Jadir can explain it further on your way to your session. You're going to be late if you don't get going."

"Okay, Usagi-san."

Misaki's gaze shifted from Jadir. He caught sight of the cigarette clasped between Usagi-san's fingers and his eyes grew soft. As much as the habit it had previously annoyed him he had agreed with their therapist that Usagi-san should be allowed a few vices at present. Besides, he now found the scent of the cigarettes somehow soothing.

"Can you d-drive those wheels, Jadir?"

Jadir smiled at Misaki and shook his head "no." "But Dr. Fletcher in PT says I won't need them in another week."

"Guess, I better p-push you around while I can." The two teens shared a grin at the joke and Misaki stepped over behind Jadir so he could wheel him down to their meeting.

"So soon you'll be walking, Jadir... M-maybe we can go to the garden… if Usagi-san and I are still here." Misaki pulled the wheelchair back from the table.

"I'm happy that they were able to get the out tumor too. It was so b-big."

Jadir had bowed his head at the mention of his "tumor." But lifted it again when Misaki set a gentle hand on his shoulder. He offered Misaki a sweet, sad smile.

Akihiko had been watching the exchange with a solemn expression. He owed Misaki's life in no small part to Jadir's brave and unselfish actions, but even so, knowing what he did, the rapport between the two boys made him uneasy.

Looking at Misaki and seeing his lover's first real smile of the day, Akihiko's brow creased. He shifted his gaze and found Jadir watching him. Jadir quickly dropped his eyes, but Akihiko knew the boy was extremely perceptive and had read him.

He felt a pang of guilt.

"No hot rodding in the halls, you two!" Santo Justino called out after the boys as Misaki pushed Jadir into the apartment. He chuckled when his admonition was met with twin groans.

When the two teens had gone, the silence resumed.

Santo Justino reached the end of his cigarette and ground the butt out in a decorative ashtray that graced the center of the table. He sat quietly watching as Akihiko continued to smoke.

When Usami was in the hallway of Korovin's lair with him, awaiting the return of his men, after a long silence the author had roused and spoken again. Usami had asked for two favors, the first for himself and the second for Jadir.

Santo Justino had not been happy about either, but at the time he considered them last requests and promised to do his best to see them carried out. The detective had long prided himself in being a man of his word. However, he was now finding that keeping his promise to Usami was taxing him far more than he'd anticipated.

At last Akihiko stubbed out his butt as well. "How is that lawyer I sent you working out?"

Santo Justino picked up his pack and tapped it on the table, trying to decide if he wanted another smoke already. "He's good. Everything seems to be handled."

He had been called on the carpet by the international team for "tampering with evidence."

Per Usami's first request, he had found Korovin's master control room and obliterated all the surveillance footage from the time Usami had breached the perimeter of the estate through the rescue. The video feeds were on a recycling loop and deleted everything after a twenty-four hour period anyway, but Usami wanted his part in the rescue effort to be minimized and as much of his presence as possible to be erased.

"They're not going to indite me anyway. No one cares that the bastard got wounded as he did.

"I think even Korovin's own defense is happy the guy has been neutered. So, they're not going to press charges against me... they've accepted 'self-defense.'

"And as for the surveillance… Korovin left more than enough evidence to hang himself a hundred times over. From what I understand they haven't even gotten through a quarter of his video footage yet."

While he hadn't archived his security, the Doc had left a massive library of encrypted documentation along with thousands of video hours of both his medical "experiments" as well as his "play times."

Akihiko watched Santo Justino withdraw a new cigarette from the pack. He wanted another badly himself, but knew it wouldn't be prudent for his healing lungs.

"Did they ever find out who leaked those three videos?" Akihiko's voice was grave.

It had been all over the news that week that three of Korovin's "movies" depicting two of his victims who were among the survivors, an American college student and a young teen from Belgium, had shown up on an "extreme" porn site. The videos were only up for a few hours before being pulled, but even with that short amount of time they'd gone wildly viral.

Santo Justino nodded. "They're keeping it quiet at the moment though. It's a delicate situation."

Akihiko gave a disgusted snort and reached for Jadir's abandoned cigarette, suddenly not caring about his taxed lungs or that he was taking an indirect kiss with it. He lit up and, after another bout of coughing, exhaled a long plume.

"Delicate for whom? Like those boys don't have enough to deal already with the trial and the media frenzy that waits for them outside these walls? Now they have to know that millions of people watched their abuse. They'll never be able to get those videos off the web now. They'll be haunted wherever they go."

Santo Justino completely understood Usami's sentiments and his fears: the leak was random and it could have just as easily been footage of what had happened to Takahashi.

"It will be terrible for them to have to navigate, but you and I both know that most of these boys are much stronger than they appear, Usami. And with all you and your family have done, you're giving them the best tools possible for coping."

"Speaking of which…" Santo Justino nodded to where Jadir had been sitting next to him at the table. "So Takahashi still doesn't know?"

Pale eyes narrowed as Akihiko looked through the grey curls spilling from the end of his fag. Santo Justino's earlier words had brought him no comfort and only stoked his unease.

"No, he still thinks it was a tumor."

"And you don't plan on telling him the truth?"

"Why should I? Jadir agreed."

"Like he had any choice."

Akihiko's eyes widened at the anger in Santo Justino's restrained growl. He replied with a tone that met and matched the detective's.

"I told you, there in the hall with Misaki, when you found us.

"He was the one who asked not to let his parents know he was alive. He thought he was dying and that was his wish…

"He didn't want them to claim a dead pregnant son. He couldn't bear to face them as it was, with them knowing what had been done to him even before that."

While being carried by Akihiko, Jadir had told the author of his condition and that he didn't want his family to know, ever. Usami had shared Jadir's petition with Santo Justino as they'd sat in the hallway.

Although the detective had been uncomfortable with the idea for a number of reasons, he'd shared Usami's requests with Aikawa on the chopper as they traveled to the clinic. When they arrived, Aikawa, as her author's representative, had seen that her Sensei's wishes were carried out.

When the senior Usami had stepped in later, he had not been pleased with his son's actions, but for some seemingly inexplicable reason had allowed the arrangements regarding Jadir to stand.

As a result, Jadir had been placed on the private floor with Usami and Misaki. The doctors who cared for him had all been paid for their silence. In the chaos of the rescue, the final number of captives had been flexible and he'd not been reported among the survivors. That Korovin had not felt inclined to film Jadir again, after he lost his arm and his pleasing symmetry, was just pure, blind luck.

The police returned Jadir's arm to his family, but that was all. His parents, though heartbroken, considered themselves lucky after a fashion: they believed their son was no longer suffering and there were a few of Korovin's victims of which nothing at all remained but their recorded sufferings.

Santo Justino shook his head. He lifted his hand and gestured at Akihiko with his smoldering cigarette.

"But he didn't die Usami, he lived. And his parents are left still grieving, not knowing that their son is alive! Not to mention he is all alone now. Unlike Misaki, he has no one to stand by him!"

"He had a choice, Santo Justino, and he made it. He didn't have to keep the child, but he did!" Even as he snapped back, Akihiko's heart burned at the truth of the detective's words. "You spoke to him yourself about his decision. I know you did. And he gave you the same answer!"

On the chopper one of the medics had caught the sound of a fetal heartbeat while examining Jadir's stomach. Though he thought himself crazy, each time the EMT checked, the sound was confirmed.

The moment that the helicopter landed Jadir was rushed to an MRI. The stunned medical staff did what they could and after three rounds of labor arresting drugs, Jadir's premature child finally settled. The situation had been very precarious, however.

Given the way the baby was carried, it was eventually concluded that with the bizarre set up of the boy's "womb," Korovin had somehow implanted the fetus in him through his navel. It was a remarkable bit of engineering, but in light of some of the Doc's other experiments it wasn't the most outrageous by far.

When Jadir regained consciousness enough to be fully present, he found that his plea to Usami during the rescue, to be allowed to disappear, had somehow been carried out. In this place of non-existence the teen had been given a number of options.

If Jadir knew more of what Korovin had done to him, he didn't reveal this. He spoke little anyway and given his fragile condition, despite their curiosity, the doctors hadn't dared press him.

He had surprised the attending staff, however, by requesting a DNA test to see if the fetus shared Korovin's blood before making his final decision. He flummoxed them even more when he asked that the paternity of fetus be checked against the DNA of all the rest of Korovin's captives.

Under Usami order the medical team complied and what they discovered had rocked all of them.

Once Jadir knew the heritage of his unborn, he'd said he wished to try and carry it to term, despite the fact this meant he would be confined to his bed until the baby was viable and then delivered by a special "C" section.

When Jadir had made his desires known, Akihiko, still recovering himself, had paid the teen a visit and the two had come to an understanding of sorts.

"You would have been happy for him to kill it, wouldn't you? It would make your life so much easier." Santo Justino's catholic sensibilities were outraged by his perception of Akihiko's callousness, despite how Jadir's child had been conceived.

"Don't put words in my mouth!"

Akihiko rose stiffly from the table abandoning his smoke. He moved over to the balcony; his long fingers gripped the walled edge of it tightly. "I just don't want anything that will cause Misaki any more suffering than what he's already experienced."

He turned back towards Santo Justino crossing his arms over his chest, composure somewhat restored. "All that Jadir's baby needs has been and will be provided for… Jadir as well… in perpetuity. And when he's well enough, Jadir and his child will be placed somewhere quiet and safe where they can live as undisturbed and peaceful a life as possible."

"Would you seriously deny Jadir this? After all he's been through?"

Santo Justino knew that Jadir would be receiving the same trust package as Korovin's other victims. It was generous and would sustain the boy very comfortably.

In his visits to Jadir since the birth too, Santo Justino had also met the wet nurse and the nanny appointed to Jadir's son. They had both struck him as quiet and caring. But the detective was also very aware these were professional women who had been vetted by Usami and had generational ties to the author's family.

Santo Justino did not see Jadir's staff as acceptable surrogates for blood relations nor did he think Usami's cold cash would ever provide Jadir with the familial warmth needed for true healing.

"What about family? His family?"

"Are you going to tell them?"

Santo Justino's eyes flickered wide for the merest of moments at Usami's question then narrowed. "I gave you my word, Usami."

Akihiko studied the detective for a moment. Then he dropped his gaze and sighed; Santo Justino was a good man and he did not wish for them to be adversarial. He brought a hand to his temple and rubbed the gathering ache there.

He felt badly, understanding well Santo Justino's objections. He knew too that without the detective's help he would have never gotten Misaki back.

"And I give you my word, Santo Justino-san… I will see that Jadir and his son are very well cared for. But I gave my word to Jadir too that I would help him keep his secret. You know as well as I now, what he's feeling is not uncommon. Over half the boys here would do the same if they could; they feel so much shame about what's happened to them.

I give you my word too, however, that as he heals, if Jadir changes his mind and wants to re-connect with his family, I won't prevent it. I will fully accept the responsibility for my actions as well as their consequences."

Santo Justino's gaze kept its intensity but the nature of it shifted slightly. "And Takahashi?"

Suddenly very weary, Akihiko moved to one of the loungers and sat down. He ran slightly tremoring fingers through his silver mane. His voice was tired.

"Right now Misaki thinks Jadir had a tumor. He thinks Jadir isn't meeting with him and the other boys because it's too painful, since some of them cost him his fingers and because he was seen by the others as Korovin's 'favorite.'

"Please trust me, Santo Justino-san, I know my Misaki and how he'd react. He's too fragile right now for such an additional burden."

Or is it you who are too fragile, Usami? Are you not strong enough to deal with his possible response?

The question burned the detective's tongue, but he held it there unasked. Looking at the pale, gaunt man before him, he reminded himself that Usami was also one of Korovin's victims.

"I will tell Misaki when the time is right. I know I ran out of favors long ago, but please…"

Santo Justino looked into Usami's solemn face and then nodded. He turned away then, made uncomfortable but the relief he saw in the pale eyes. The detective leaned back in his chair and drew deeply on his cigarette. A moment later twin bursts of smoke erupted from his nostrils.

"I said I was a man of my word. Ultimately the agreement is between you and Jadir. But personally I think by not telling Takahashi you're just digging your own grave here, Usami."

A barking laugh escaped Akihiko at the detective's choice of phrasing.

"Something funny in what I said, Usami? Santo Justino eyed the author again, his expression caught somewhere between curious and irritated.

The laughter turned into a short burst of coughing. When it ceased, Akihiko laid back into the lounger, exhausted, and closed his eyes. "No, Santo Justino-san. Nothing funny at all in it actually."

Misaki opened the door to his suite. He and Jadir had met Aikawa and Santo Justino in the hallway on their return. Aikawa said they had just left Usagi-san a few minutes before and were now on their way out. Even so, the couple offered to see Jadir to his room. That seemed to please Jadir, so Misaki had left the trio at the other teen's door.

Green eyes scanned his apartment as soon as he stepped in and Misaki felt his heartbeat pick up when Usagi-san wasn't immediately visible.

Stupid to get so worked up, Misaki berated himself. Usagi-san could be in the bathroom or out on the balcony. Or he could have gone off to one of his own appointments. He swallowed his panic.

Moving over towards the perimeter of the room, he pushed further into the suite. Misaki knew he was safe here, but some part of him still felt more comfortable when he had the solid surface of a wall beside him and was not stuck precariously out in space.

A soft breath of relief escaped him when he reached the open sliding glass doors to the terrace and saw Usagi-san was still out on the balcony. Akihiko looked to be sleeping, stretched out on one of the cushioned chaise loungers.

Stepping silently up next to Usagi-san, Misaki's gaze swept over his lover and savior. His heart filled with powerful emotions.

If he'd felt incomparable next to the man before, now the inequity was even more vast. Misaki knew that if given a dozen lifetimes, he would still never be able to show Akihiko how grateful he was for what he'd done. Or how much he loved him.

Doesn't mean I still can't try though.

Misaki noted Usagi-san's still-angular face. There were a few new lines etched around the edges of his lover's eyes. Misaki would have thought they made Usagi-san look more distinguished had he not known their origin. He took in the rumpled, black, cotton slacks and white shirt. This dishevelment told him that Usagi-san was still not well, though the man constantly told him differently.

Under the shirt's open collar Misaki could see the pink edge of Usagi-san's scar.

What can I give him?

A sudden surge flowed through Misaki's torso, heating him from his heart to his cock. His face flushed next.

Would he even want that right now? Misaki dropped his dark head.

In the past the answer would have been a resounding "yes" at any moment, regardless of circumstances. But since he'd been rescued Usagi-san had been so careful not to make any advances. The only touch that had been offered was of comfort and not in the least sexual. Tears built in Misaki's eyes because he knew Usagi-san still felt the strong pull of the flesh.

In fact, just two days ago he'd woken in bed, alone, and seeking Usagi-san out, he had heard his lover in the bathroom through the door. He knew too well the particular cadence of breath and the muffled growl that signaled his Rabbit's impending release to have any doubts of what Usagi-san had been doing in there.

He had crept back to bed and feigned sleep when Usagi-san's heated body had rejoined him mere minutes later.

Thinking about what he'd done himself in the bath just before his session, Misaki felt the burden of tears grow heavier in his eyes. This wasn't the first time he'd touched himself and thought of his Rabbit.

For a few weeks now he had been aching to have Usagi-san handle him in the ways that he used to. Misaki wanted desperately for Usagi-san to reclaim his body, to let him know that it wasn't just his heart that still belonged to Usami Akihiko, but all of him.

Am I being selfish to want this?… To ask him to claim something so damaged? So soiled? Will it make me more burdensome than I have already become?

I am not dirty. I am not a burden… These second thoughts felt like a lie, but Misaki held on to them anyway. He'd been advised to tell himself these things when the other degrading musings assailed him. He wondered if he'd really ever feel truly whole again after all that had happened.

Misaki knew that he had to come to purity anew within himself, but in his mind Usagi-san's touch still contained the power to purge him.

Once more the burn to feel Usagi-san inside him that had been growing over the last few days possessed Misaki. Looking on his sleeping Rabbit now, the urge suddenly seemed overwhelming.

Head still bowed, Misaki lifted his eyes from the red terracotta tiles. Through the blur of his tears he saw a partially-smoked cigarette dangling loosely from Usagi-san's long fingers, his arm hanging off the side of the lounger.

Misaki's brow furrowed and his mouth quirked simultaneously at the sight.

Wiping his eyes on his sleeve, Misaki approached and bent down. As carefully as possible, he plucked the smoldering fag from Akihiko's hand and ground it out on the tile. Straightening he was surprised by a pair of sleepy lavender eyes regarding him.

"When did you become such a light sleeper?"

A lopsided grin cooked Akihiko's mouth at the question. "I missed you."

Misaki grunted lightly at the sentiment and the avoidance, though secretly he was glad Usagi-san had woken.

"I have been gone for barely more than two hours."

Akihiko's weary smile grew a little wider. "Still missed you, nonetheless.

"Every minute without Misaki is a minute too long." He looked at his now empty hand with a moment's regret before shifting it up to pat the cushion beside him.

Misaki moved over silently and settled. Not on the edge of the lounger, but instead, he arranged himself carefully in Akihiko's lap. Then he leaned against Akihiko's chest, tucking his head under the strong chin above him.

Akihiko was both surprised and pleased by Misaki's response to his beckon. He could still not get over how much Misaki seemed to need his physical presence and how much more open he was to certain touch and soft words. It was something he had always longed for, but it pained him immensely how his boy had been brought to this place.

Almost as if he could read his older lover's thoughts, Misaki shifted a bit uncomfortably and then grumbled for good measure, "You always say such stupid things."

Above Misaki's dark head, Akihiko grinned at this flash of his old Misaki. He wrapped his long arms around the unresisting body curled warmly against him and gathered Misaki tighter. "Nothing stupid in that sentiment at all, Love. It's true."

Basking in the heat and the chill of Usagi-san's embrace, Misaki snorted dismissively. But then closed his eyes and listened to the steady beat of the heart beneath his head, cherishing it.

Mentally he was exhausted from his session, but at the same time something within him was buzzing, not wishing to settle.

"Are you h-hungry, Usagi-san?"

The question was innocent enough, but Misaki found himself holding his breath as he waited for the answer.

"More tired really, Mi. What about you? Shall we get a menu and make some dinner plans?"

Misaki worked hard to keep from visibly deflating at Usagi-san's answer. His old rabbit would have likely said, "I'm hungry for Misaki," and set about satisfying his appetite immediately.

Pushing himself up off Akihiko's chest Misaki sat there a minute, his mind spinning about what to do next.

"I'm... I'm hungry," he whispered at last.

"Do you want to cook something then, instead of having the kitchen send something up?" Akihiko's tone was hopeful.

Though New Days hosted a staff of top notch cooks and the catered room service was first class, he'd made sure that the suite's small kitchen was fully stocked in case Misaki wanted to start cooking again. His boy hadn't shown any inclination so far and Akihiko had come to think of Misaki taking it back up as a sign that he'd made some significant progress.

Seeing Misaki shake his head, Akhiko held back the disappointed sigh that had risen in his chest.

"I suppose if you're truly famished I could be enticed to make you one of my "Usami's special fluffy omlettes."

Akihiko's brow furrowed when Misaki raised his head and the green gaze that met his was tearful.

"N-no, Usagi-san… I am "truly f-famished" but I don't need an omlette." Misaki choked the words out before he dropped his head again. His cheeks burned furiously.

Pulling them both up together a little straighter in the lounger, Akihiko took one hand and set it under Misaki's chin, lifting his boy's face. His own wore an expression of concerned confusion.

"I don't understand, Misaki… What do you…"

Lavender eyes widened in shock when Misaki pushed the hand away from under his chin and a moment later Akihiko felt Misaki's hands cupping his jaw. The rest of his question was cut off by the sudden press of soft lips against his own.

His heart instantly leapt with desire and apprehension at Misaki's unexpected act. He forced himself to still however, and let Misaki's mouth first softly and then hungrily explore his. He responded but held himself back, not wanting to do anything that might frighten his boy or trigger him.

Finally Misaki broke the kiss. He dropped his hands and then dropped his head again.

Even with his head bowed as it was, Akihiko could see the blush on Misaki's cheeks. He leaned forward and nuzzled into Misaki's clean, dark hair. He set his lips on the blush-heated forehead and kissed it softly.


Misaki drew back again and then he looked up… His eyes were large and fearful. Akihiko met his gaze and waited.

In his lap Misaki shifted so that he straddled the black-clad thighs beneath him now. The dark head stayed down, but trembling hands slowly rose up. One of Misaki's hands stroked the top of the scar visible at the open throat of Akihiko's shirt. Then it joined his brother at the next closed button.

It was killing Akihiko to stay still as he watched Misaki's tremoring hands struggle to unlatch the button. But he knew too, that all the rules of their previous games had been changed and so he waited for Misaki to teach him the new grounds of their engagements.

After undoing two buttons Misaki stopped before daring to go any further and at last raised his head. The hope and the apprehension that warred in the green eyes before him all but broke Akihiko's heart.

"Er… Are… a-are you still n-not hungry, Usagi-san?"

Misaki's eyes widened slightly at the heat in Usagi-san's eyes and a smirk that he'd not seen in so long he'd forgotten how well it fit his Rabbit's face. Cool hands cupped his jaw a moment later and Misaki let out a soft sob of relief when a hot mouth found his and began to wordlessly proclaim how long and how deeply Usagi-san had been starving.

"Days Without Sun"... More like "Story Without an End"... Heh.

So, I think I have wrapped up all the details here and you can see I have started the tender lemon and given you a taste, just in case you thought it, along with Akihiko and Misaki, would never come.

Once again, have immense gratitude for all you dear readers for your wonderful feedback. These chapters have been so long I have been worried about the added length of AN, so I think I will try and respond through PM for the last chapter's reviews individually.

Also, Dragonish, I know you're not registered, but thank you for the reviews and props for doing some research! JackAttack was my 500th review and her/his request was for the sequel. Since you were 600 is there a Bunny/Blossom oneshot I can write for you? Let me know.

So yes... One last chapter... I wish I could say I was as much a man of my word as Santo Justino, but unfortunately, I think you'd know already that would be problematic. But the citrus flavor of this last bit should hopefully stay tart on your tongue until the next and LAST chapter and we get poor Misaki impregnated.