(Note: This fic isn't complete in itself. It's more like an ordinary/everyday snippets kind of thing and I may add more later.)
The Little Things
It was his favorite dessert - coffee dipped lady fingers covered in generous amounts of sweet, rich cream and topped with chocolate shavings and powdered mocha.
"I'll have a slice of that."
He nodded his thanks and proceeded to the cashier to pay for his dessert. Upon leaving the counter, he chose to position himself on one of the tables toward the far corner of the quaint little cafe, right next to the glass windows. It wasn't very often that he found himself indulging in simple delights.
He made a sound of approval as he placed the piece of cake into his awaiting mouth and remembered the times when he visited the place if only to get a little quiet time away from his quarreling co-workers. Today was one of those days when the sounds were much too loud to bear. Usually, a harsh threat was enough to quiet them but this time around, Omi and Yohji didn't seem to care enough to acknowledge him. At least when he left them, they weren't to the point of killing each other yet.
He made another loud sigh of contentment as he placed yet another piece into his mouth. He thought that he really should eat out more often. He was missing out on a daily dose of his most favorite dessert.
Just as he was about to think some more, sudden loud banging on the window immediately disturbed him from his quiet activity. He put down his fork in annoyance and was ready to scream at the idiot who would dare disrupt his meal. He directed his gaze to the idiot at the other end of the glass only to find Ken. He groaned.
"Hey Aya, care to share some of that?" Ken screamed from outside. He had obviously just finished his afternoon tutorial with the children because he was dirty and dressed in the same clothes he used for running, the same shirt that was sweaty from his recent practice. He was holding a soccer ball in one hand and was grinning like a madman, most likely awaiting Aya's invitation.
"Go away," Aya said and started to work on his cake again. There was no way Ken was going to ruin his few moments of peace.
He expected the other to look like a stray dog at the other end of the glass begging for scraps but was surprised to find the window deserted. He though for a moment that he was a bit too harsh but then remembered what he was doing right before the interruption. He allowed himself a small smile as he lifted the fork to his mouth to take another bite out of the cake.
To his dismay, he ended up shoving the cream covered cake on his nose as a result of the loud greeting from the other end of the cafe. There was Ken, by the counter, still grinning like a madman as he called out to Aya and ordered himself something from the array of desserts on the shelves.
"Oi, Aya," he called out again. "Mind if I join you?"
Aya had to quell his urge to run a blade down the other's throat. Not only was he loud, he was also embarrassing the both of them as he made his way across the cafe still talking in that same loud voice. He didn't know how Ken managed to balance the platter in one hand and the soccer ball in his other hand as he walked gracelessly toward his table.
"I didn't know you liked to come to these places," Ken commented as he took his seat on the other side of the table, forgetting that the other was yet to give his permission.
"Every once in a while," was Aya's short answer as he continued his previous activity while trying to ignore the looks of inquiry he was getting from his newest companion.
"What?" he finally asked annoyed that he was no longer able to concentrate on the cake. Ken's stare was making him a little too uneasy and irritated at the same time.
"You've got cream on your nose."
Before Aya could take it out himself and before he could even protest, Ken wiped the cream off with his finger and stuck the same finger inside his own mouth. Aya was disgusted beyond belief.
"Yum. Good. What kind of cake is that anyway? I got myself some pecan pie since it looked good from the other end of the glass case. Maybe I should've asked you first, huh? Is that any good? Is it as good as it looks?"
Aya simply stared at him, hoping that the message "Be quiet and leave me alone" was conveyed through his eyes. It was either his methods were loosing its effect or Ken was not skilled in the art of reading his subtle messages. He knew it was going to be another long afternoon as the other looked at him expectantly. He wasn't about to ruin his dessert and thought that he might as well enjoy his time even if Ken wasn't going to leave him alone.
"Tiramisu," he said, answering the first question and leaving the rest of Ken's questions unanswered. It was enough for the time being.
"What was that?"
"It's the name of the cake, Ken."
"Oh. Is it any good?"
Aya had to roll his eyes. Of course it was good. Why else would he be sneaking off in the middle of his shift to some small cafe who knows where to buy a slice of cake? Ken just wasn't getting it. Perhaps he needed to be more descriptive.
"Heaven in your mouth."
"The soft cushion of lady fingers covered in sweet, rich cream feels so velvety smooth in your mouth, you could almost taste heaven."
Ken stared at him agape. It wasn't like he didn't expect the reaction from Ken anyway. It wasn't often that he talked and indulged the others in a pleasant conversation.
"Can I have a taste?"
Aya nodded in response and was about to move the platter closer to Ken when he found the other with his mouth open and his index finger pointing to that same open mouth, awaiting the first bite. He found the peculiar attitude atrocious but found himself willing to go along with it. He cut a slice off the cake and placed the cream covered lady fingers into the cavern of Ken's awaiting mouth. He was too distracted by the way Ken consumed the cake like a hungry pig and by the way he smiled in response to the sweet dessert that he didn't notice the looks of surprise coming from the other patrons of the cafe.
"Wow! You are right. Heaven in your mouth!"
Aya allowed himself another smile that day. He didn't realize that an afternoon with a loud Ken would be as pleasant as it was becoming. Maybe he wanted to go for his favorite dessert more often and bring Ken along with him. It was a nice change from his solitary pursuits.
A pleasant afternoon and a contented pair of taste buds later, Aya and Ken made their way back to the shop with Aya hoping that the other two had finally stopped their quarreling. It was the reason he left the shop in the first place and he most certainly was not going to have to deal with it upon his return.
"Well, well, well," Yohji greeted them as he saw them coming toward the door. "If it isn't our delinquent leader and his accomplice."
"What? It's supposed to be my day-off today," Ken said in defense.
"That doesn't mean you could pull Aya off in your little escapades."
It was apparent that Yohji did not appreciate the lack of help the two must have had to deal with that day. Aya felt somewhat guilty leaving the two on their own but he just couldn't take it. They were loud. They were annoying. They were giving him a headache.
He looked at Ken and found the look of surprise on the other's face as he muttered, thinking up a way to defend himself from the accusation. Aya wasn't about to let him deal with it on his own because it was his responsibility and not Ken's. Besides, Ken was such a good companion that day that he thought that he deserved a break.
"You two were loud. My head was aching. I left. Ken happened to find me. End of Story."
"Buy that, Omi?"
Omi was startled as he walked in on the ongoing conversation, not sure what he was supposed to respond to.
"Never mind," Yohji finally said. "I need to go. The ladies are waiting. See you all tomorrow."
Yohji left walking two at a time up the stairway and Ken just stared at Aya, waiting for an explanation.
"I ditched," he simply said and proceeded to help Omi close up the shop.
[Surviving the Night]
It was certainly not a good day for him. Aya was bleeding in who knew how many places and he didn't know what to do. He knew he should've been watching the other's back more carefully and the growing guilt being forced upon him by his conscience wasn't helping the situation get any better.
"Think, Ken, think," he kept on telling himself as he looked down at the almost lifeless face of his teammate.
It begun as another routine mission. All they had to do was kill the target. It had been an easy one in fact. They had all the information they needed to complete it the same day. All they needed to do was go in, kill the target and get out. It wasn't until halfway through the mission that any of them realized the complexity of the situation.
Aya was not feeling well. It was as simple as that but as dangerous as it sounded. Of course, none of them could tell because he was as hard to read as a brick on the wall. He did look a little pale but he was already pale to begin with. He had been very quiet but then he was always quiet. He was ignoring them but when did he not ignore them?
"You should've said something," Ken said as he took out the layers of clothes on Aya to reveal just how ugly the wounds were inside.
He was surprised to find Aya conscious and took that chance to begin a conversation. As long as he kept the other awake, he was more likely to assess the situation better. Open eyes meant that he was still alive. At least, that was what he thought should work.
"You should've told us you weren't feeling well. Any one of us could've done this instead. Look at you now. You're all messed up."
"I was feeling fine," Aya responded and looked down at his injuries.
Ken just snorted at that and batted Aya's hand away from the wounds.
"I'm not lying."
Ken let out a long sigh and put pressure on the wounds that were visible to him. At least he knew that Aya was not the type to lie about lying. Maybe he didn't really know that he was feeling ill until he actually passed out after slicing through the target. After all, he was almost invincible. Ever since they'd known each other, Aya had never gotten sick.
"Obviously not," Aya gasped as the knowledge of pain finally hit him. "Did I actually get to kill the bastard?"
"You passed out halfway through slicing his head off. That was some stunt."
"How did I get hit then?"
"Well," Ken started, feeling a bit uneasy. "Let's just say I was a bit too slow. I didn't see the bodyguards coming fast enough. They shot you a couple of times before I could get to them. I'm sorry about that."
"You weren't close enough Ken and besides, bullets move a lot faster than human legs."
Ken stopped to look at Aya's face and realized that he was on verge of passing out again. He knew nothing else to say and just hoped that the other two would come with help soon. He wasn't exactly an expert when it came to tending to bullet wounds on an already ill teammate.
"That knowledge won't make it any better. It won't take the guilt away either but thanks. I owe you one. Maybe I should treat you out for some tiramisu later."
"That would be nice," Aya drawled before completely passing out.
"Great, I mention the cake and he decides to go dreaming about it," Ken muttered. "You better have not died on me yet. I still have to find out about your other weird habits."
Several hours later, Aya was back on his own bed, paler than usual but nonetheless alive. He wasn't an easy man to kill and Ken was very thankful for that. After he cleaned himself of all the blood that was clinging to him, he joined Aya in his room just to make sure that there was nothing wrong with him. He had convinced the others that he would watch Aya for the night. Of course, the others could not protest considering how stubborn he could be when he wanted to be.
"Heaven in your mouth," he suddenly said, thinking to himself that he was just going crazy from lack of sleep but then he remembered that it was Aya that had said it a few weeks earlier.
Since their last get-together, he realized that the two of them hadn't spent enough time with each other. It was always work in the flower shop, soccer with the kids or nightly missions. He was disappointed because he realized that the few moments he spent with Aya were very pleasant, the type that busy people looked forward to. He was comfortable around him. The thought of just being there even when he did most of the talking was good. It was the simple pleasures that he liked the best.
"Go to bed."
It was just like Aya to break the mood. Ken looked at him and found that he had his eyes wide open. It was creepy sometimes how the other was so unpredictable. He didn't even notice that he was no longer asleep.
"I have to check up on you in case anything happens."
"I'm fine. Go to bed."
"I want you awake when you pay that cake for me."
Ken smiled for the first time that day, whether in relief or in amusement, he could not tell. He decided to give in and go to bed but he did promise the other two that he wasn't going to leave Aya alone.
"I'm not leaving this room since I promised Yohji and Omi that I wouldn't leave you alone."
"Fine," Aya responded and moved over to make room for Ken. "If you drool on me, touch me or hit any of my injuries, I'll make sure you die before you even wake up."
It wasn't exactly what Ken had in mind but the bed was certainly better than the stiff chair.
"Aww, how nice of you Aya," he responded in a mocking tone. "You always say the sweetest things."
Aya simply snorted and went back to sleep as soon as he saw Ken's head hit the pillow.
It was a very busy day. Aya was almost certain that he would not have enough time to visit his sister and finish the arrangements he was supposed to finish by the end of the day. He knew he should have turned down Ken when the other asked him if he could take the rest of the afternoon off. After all, both Omi and Yohji had the day off leaving him alone to do all the work.
"Thank you," a random girl chirped merrily as she received the bouquet from Aya's hands.
He nodded in response and continued on with the rest of the customers that were waiting patiently around the shop. At least they weren't complaining about the long wait. But then, Aya realized that the girls had something else in mind other than buying flowers anyway and since he was the only one there that afternoon, the girls were sure that they'd have to buy something or else face his wrath. There was no use making him angry when he already seemed annoyed enough.
"What time do you think Omi will be back?" another girl asked as he attended to two at a time.
"I don't know," he said, surprised that he didn't just shoo off the crowds of Omi admirers that had collected at the front of the shop.
At least they left him alone long enough for him to finish an order. It was starting to get later in the afternoon and the crowd didn't look like it was going anywhere. He imagined going right to bed when all was done with and hoped that Manx wasn't going to be coming over for another mission. He just wasn't up to it that day.
Another few hours and he was finally back in his room, rotating his aching shoulders from the load of work. He decided to take a hot shower to ease his muscles as well as his mind. He didn't know what time the others were going to be back and he really didn't care all that much. As long as they were willing to open the shop for him the next day then he would be more than happy, at least inwardly.
He opened the door to the shower stall and rinsed his hair first before proceeding to wash the rest of his body. He almost fell asleep but remembered where he was. The feel of the shower pressure was just about enough for a good massage.
Finishing his shower, he wiped himself off and sat down on his bed, thinking about just going straight to bed. The book he was reading could always be postponed until he was more up to it. After changing, his head hit the pillow instantly. He really didn't mind sleeping with his wet hair so long as he got to rest.
It was a little after midnight when he heard his door creak open. He didn't bother to get up even at the thought of criminals attacking him in the middle of the night. His body was much too tired to respond to anything and so he let his mind wander back to dreamland. They might as well have killed him while he slept on and on.
He recognized the voice as Ken's but didn't have enough will to get up or answer.
Why didn't Ken just leave him alone?
"Aya, are you awake?"
"Well I am now," he groaned in response and picked up a pillow to cover his head. He knew Ken wasn't going to leave him alone now that he knew he was already up.
"I just wanted to thank you."
"You could've thanked me in the morning," he answered, still annoyed that he couldn't get back to sleep. He had his head buried in the pillow and it didn't look like he was going to move.
"I know but I brought you something."
"Can't it wait until tomorrow?"
He heard a short pause and a shuffling of feet before he felt Ken's weight on his bed. He was probably sitting on his bed. That meant that he really wasn't going to leave anytime soon. Aya groaned.
"I couldn't put it in the fridge since it's a jungle in there. I don't think this is going to be the same after it's been through the sludge that lives in there."
"Fine. What is it?" Aya asked with a voice that was neither bothered nor angry, just a little tired.
His eyes immediately snapped open as he turned his head to stare at the box Ken was holding. He hadn't expected him to get him something and he certainly had not expected Ken to get him cake in the middle of the night. He had to admit, Ken was thoughtful in his own way but he just had lousy timing. He couldn't lift his arm right then even if it meant his life but then he could never resist the temptation, the call of his most favorite dessert.
"I can't move so you're going to have to feed me," Aya said, sounding almost too rational to turn down.
Ken only laughed in response as he turned on the lamp next to Aya's bed.
"I knew you couldn't resist," he said as he made himself comfortable.
He opened the box and retrieved the fork, cutting a slice off the cake. He was careful as he placed the dessert near Aya's mouth to make sure that he aimed just right on the mouth. There was no use having an angry assassin voicing out threats that he couldn't come through with at the moment. That would only make Aya look like a helpless kitten out for blood. It seemed amusing but he decided against it. He owed him one anyway.
"What did you do anyway?" Aya asked between bites. He didn't know why he was starting a conversation but he was too drowsy from sleep and too content on being fed to even care.
"We had a last minute practice before the game tomorrow."
"All this time?"
"No. We finished at around six."
Aya nodded and then bit into another slice of the cake. It was just too good for him to fall asleep on it. Then, he realized what Ken had just said.
"It took you this long to get home?"
Ken presented him with a beatific smile before shaking his head.
"The cafe we usually visit closes at five. I had to find some other place that had this," he said, shaking the box he was holding for emphasis.
"Oh," Aya said. "Thank you."
"What are you talking about? It was you who took over the shop all day, alone with the hordes of women. You didn't even ask where I was going before I left. This was the least I could do."
Aya didn't say anything more after that and ate the rest of his cake before Ken closed the box and turned off his bedside lamp. All he heard afterwards was the shuffling of feet and the soft click of the door signaling Ken's departure.