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Bloodstained Illusions

by P L Nunn


An Erotic Prelude


The thing about Aya was - - he never thought about sex. Never gave it a second thought while he was going about whatever it was he was obsessed with at any given time. It was like he had this on off switch connected to his libido and it was rusty as hell from being left in the 'off' position all the time. Oh, he was damn good at it once you got him started; damned focused and damned determined to get it right -- striving towards perfection in the act-- just like everything else he undertook in his life. It was getting him started that was challenging.

Yohji loved challenges. Yohji thought about sex all the time. Yohji thought about sex in the market, driving in the car, listening to music, while he was working out and just about every other place and activity that came to mind. Yohji's libido switch was fused to the 'on' position. It was goddamned inconvenient to have a lover with the opposite operational status. Half his sly looks, lewd innuendo's, carefully orchestrated accidental touches, not to mention his blatant suggestions were met with looks of disinterest or downright scowls. Aya could get dangerous about it, if he was in the wrong mood and Yohji pushed too far. He was uptight and emotionally stunted, suspicious half the time of Yohji's motives and jumpy as hell if you touched him at the wrong moment or the wrong place.

But it was okay, because he was getting better and he had scars that needed healing and Yohji could be patient as a stone saint when it came down to something that he really wanted. Something that meant more than a one night stand or a casual fling.

It wasn't as if they had a lot else to do, other than bum about the city, and the outlying provinces, taking in the sights, enjoying the music and the food and the atmosphere, feeling as if they were living in some age-old forgotten place ripe with legend. There was a canal right outside his bedroom window. Two stories down and you could look out and see the gondola's or small motor boats moored to algae covered pilings. On the one side of their building you had a take a boat to get anywhere from the very doorstep, on the other, there was a cracked paved stone walk that was a bit more conventional. Yohji loved to travel the canal by boat. Aya wasn't so keen on it. Aya hated to be trapped, helpless to the whims of the water. Getting Aya out on one of the gondola's was like pulling teeth. If he had to travel by boat and it was hard getting anywhere in Venice where water travel wasn't a must, he preferred the larger, motorized water taxis.

They weren't taking jobs. Of any kind. They'd all figured a vacation was long over due and other than dipping into one of the various hidden bank accounts they'd sat up for just such an emergency, they'd cut all ties with the people who might have an interest in where they were and what they were doing. Kritiker basically. Which would piss certain people off -- but hey -- certain people deserved to be pissed off occasionally, as far as Yohji was concerned.

So here they were in Venice, living a quaint, quiet life on the second floor of a boatmaker's shop just off the Rio Loren, a narrow, quiet canal in the north east section of the city. Omi and Ken were as brown as the natives from motor biking to all the famous ruins. Sometimes they made several day trips of it, coming back with awe-filled stories about this great wonder or that. Aya wasn't much in the frame of mind for playing tourist those first few weeks. Aya hadn't been much in the mood for anything, and for the longest time refused conversation and company and everything but sitting in his room and brooding. Yohji hadn't trusted him to his own devices, so he'd stayed close by. Or as close as Aya would allow him. Aya was a fine craftsman when it came to wallowing in his own mis-placed guilt. For a young man who had never professed much interest in following the Christian faith, he made an art of carrying a cross on his shoulders. And nothing anyone said or did could convince him otherwise.

But he came out of it on his own, eventually, four weeks into their stay. Just sort of indicated interest in one of Ken's planned forays into the country. And from there it got better. From that point on Yohji could coax him back into bed with a little work and truly get down to the business at hand, which was taking the haphazard affair they'd begun and making it into something a bit more --- comfortable -- for the both of them.

It was a big flat, with aging stucco walls and high ceilings. The plumbing sucked royally, but the atmosphere was priceless. The kitchen was rustic and small, but the window overlooked the canal and there was a garden box overflowing with herbs and flowering plants hanging off the window, which infused the whole room when the glass was swung outwards.

Ken and Omi were out who knew where, and Aya was cooking something distinctly not Italian in a beat up wok over the gas fueled stove when Yohji padded in, damp from a post work-out shower under tepid water.

"What're you making? Noodles?" He asked and answered his own question. Aya lifted a fine straight brow at him and the corner of his mouth quirked up almost in the ghost of a smile. Next to him he had a half empty glass of the sweet wine almost everyone here drank with as much gusto as some people drank water.

"Have you eaten? Do you want some?"

It was so damned nice to see Aya relaxed and to catch the whiff of an actual smile. Yohji sighed and draped himself over a chair.


There were fresh shrimp in the noodles and peas and onions. A simple enough mixture that still managed to give off the flavor of home. They ate it in companionable silence and afterwards Aya meticulously cleaned the dishes that Yohji would have been happy enough to leave in the sink for later -- or someone else to do.

"You need to learn to cook Italian." Yohji commented. He'd developed a taste he'd never known he'd had for native cooking. Maybe it was because so much of what was available at home, didn't come close to what they were really good at here.

Aya slanted him a look, wiping his hands on a towel by the sink. "Ken can cook Italian."

"Yeah, well -- he's gone half the time."

"Then go out and get it. There are a half dozen cafe's within two blocks distance."

"You miss the point." Yohji twined a long piece of hair about one finger idly.

"What point?"

"We should celebrate."

Aya stared at him, waiting to be enlightened.

"Its the 4th of July."

Aya kept staring.

"We should celebrate."

"Why, pray tell?"

"Its a holiday."

"Not our holiday."

"Doesn't matter. We should celebrate." Yohji ran the tail end of the hair he'd trapped across his bottom lip.

Another long stare. He could see the gears turning in Aya's head. "Its the middle of the afternoon, Yohji." He finally pointed out.

"Yeah, I know." Yohji got up and meandered over to the sink, leaning his hip against it beside Aya. "But someplace in the world -- maybe one of those places they're actually celebrating today -- its dark."

Aya looked at him. Yohji smiled.

Somehow or another -- maybe it was the fact that Yohji had the coolest room in the flat with its large window and its lazily turning ceiling fan, or maybe it was a phase of the moon, or maybe Aya was actually just intrigued by the offer -- but Yohji got him into his room and onto his incredibly soft bed fit into the nook by the window and surrounded on three sides by stucco wall and crystallized glass. Goosefeather pillows lined the three walls and a comforter of the same material made it a pleasure to collapse onto. There was no expense, in Yohji's mind, too great for a luxurious bed.

They settled back, each against the pillows at either end of the mattress so that they faced one another. The fan created a soft, sweet breeze that now and then lifted a strand or two of Aya's hair. They'd discarded their shoes along the way, and Yohji, who had a fascination with Aya's skin in general and the softer parts of it in particular, spread his legs and pulled Aya's unresisting feet onto his lap. He had perfectly even toenails and cuticles on high-arched, narrow feet. Yohji pushed up the cuffs of the thin cotton, drawstring pants Aya was wearing to run his hands up Aya's calves, then back down again, kneading the muscle of leg and heel and foot. Aya's eyes shut and he settled back into his pillows with a sigh. Aya, Yohji had discovered, was a whore for deep and lingering massage. All the frigidy would melt away and he'd become very, very easy, under Yohji' skillful hands.

Yohji talked about little, everyday things, glad that nothing of more serious import intruded their lives at the moment, and Aya wavered between purring and dozing under Yohji's care. And Yohji was happy at the moment, with nothing more than that.

God -- it was a fucking idyllic, sun spattered, lazy afternoon. Aya's feet against his crotch made him half-rigid, even though he was comfortable enough and indolent enough not to want to engage in anything more strenuous than what he was about.

The lisidious workings of his mind had other notions, of course. He sucked on his lower lip, idly pressing his palm into the arch of Aya's white foot, idly watching the soft rise and fall of Aya's chest, bared by the open halves of his shirt. The cotton pants rode low on his hips, revealing the jut of hipbones and that intriguing V of muscle and flesh that dipped towards his loins.

"Do something for me." He said softly, rotating both thumbs under the fleshy ball of Aya's left foot. Aya made a malleable, questioning sound.

"Touch yourself."

Aya's lashes slitted open. "Do what?" he sounded like he was on the verge of slumber.

"Touch yourself." Yohji shifted, placing Aya's legs aside and crawling up the bed and lay half beside and half atop Aya's lithe form. "You know - - jerk off?" He whispered that explanation against Aya's lips, even as he caught one of Aya's wrists and drew his hand down between them, pressing Aya's palm between his legs.

Aya's lips trembled. His lashes did. "Why?" he gasped, not so sleepy anymore. A little wary. A little aroused by the feel of it.

"Because --" Yohji ran his tongue over Aya's bottom lip, took it between his own and pulled at it. " -- I want to watch."

"Why?" Softer, a bit confused.

"Because I'll get off on it. Because I want to watch your face while you're doing it. Because you're so fucking beautiful when you cum." All this between lingering kisses, between the movement of his hand around Aya's wrist over Aya's groin. He pressed the rigid length in his own pants against Aya's thigh. "Please. I'd do it for you."

In point of fact, he did it for Aya all the time, and Aya wasn't even around during most of those poignant moments.

"Yohji --" A little embarrassed by the notion. A little flushed.

"Please, please, please, please - - -" Yohji worked his way down Aya's chest and tummy, worshipping the flesh as he went. Kissed all along the waist line of his pants as he untied the drawstring and worked them the rest of the way down Aya's hips.

"Okay." A whisper of agreement. Aya's long fingers in his hair as he ran his lips over the head of Aya's penis. A moment of bliss where he wanted to take the whole thing in his mouth and feel the silk of Aya's flesh, feel the heat of it inside the cavity of his mouth -- but that would ruin the show. He slid down Aya's body, pulling the pants with him, tossing them onto the floor and settling back with his hand over his own very aroused member, to watch.

Just watching Aya sprawled there, mostly naked, all pale, smooth skin against snow white sheets, was turn on enough. Seeing him move his hands over the flushed skin of his erection, watching his lids flutter and his head tilt back against the pillows was frankly mind-blowing. Watching his face was almost more intriguing than watching what his hands were doing. But one had to look there, at the juncture of those lean white thighs and Aya's fingers curled around the glistening length of his cock, pumping slowly, rhythmically, the motion smoothed by precum leaking from the livid tip, his hips rising just a bit in time with his tempo, pushing himself up onto the circle of his hand.

Yohji's stomach jerked and bunched, the burning flesh against his lower tummy twitched and he stroked it through the fabric of his cut-off sweatpants. His breathing came as harsh as Aya's, harsher maybe -- maybe he was the more excited of the two. He pressed harder with his hand, rubbing cloth against the sensitive flesh of his erection, even as Aya made a low moaning sound and increased his pace - -

- - and came not long after, making a mess on his hands and tummy. Yohji had a wet spot in his own pants, felt it leaking down into his pubes and pressed the cloth against it to sop it up.

Aya was getting his breathing under control, was losing the glazed look his eyes always got when he orgasmed. He reached for a tissue from the box on the window sill and fastidiously wiped his fingers and the beads of jism from his stomach. He gave Yohji a look. An arched brow question that managed not to be quite as sardonic as he might have meant it to be.

Yohji smiled lazily, still stroking his only half flaccid member. "Oh, yeah, that was good. Thanks, baby." He shut his eyes, relaxing back into the pillows, waiting for inevitable reaction.

"Don't call me, baby." Aya warned. "You're going to sleep?" A little indignant, a little pissed off."

"That wore me out. Its almost dark outside. A nap's not a bad notion.'

"After all that ---" Aya took an audible breath, and Yohji could imagine his expression as he tried to fathom just what the hell Yohji was thinking. It was so nice to put him off his balance now and then, so delightful to be the one doing the confusing instead of suffering the bafflement he so often experienced with Aya.

"You're not going to sleep." Aya made a statement of it.

"Humm. Maybe. I'm sort of tired."

A shifting of weight. Aya crawled up to his end of the bed, leaned elbows on the mattress, one on the inside of Yohji's thighs one on the outside. A body had to open his eyes and peer down, with Aya in that precarious position. It could mean very good things for him or very bad.

"You made me make a mess of my pants." He pointed out.

Aya refrained from comment. He ran one hand up the material of Yohji's cut offs and fingered the dampness. His palm pressed against Yohji's overly sensitive cock. It twitched at the touch, quite energetically eager for more. "You don't feel tired."

"Um - -" nothing much came to mind to say, with Aya's hand sliding slowly between his legs. The whole of him came alive and fully rigid under that casual touch. Then Aya drew his hand away and pushed himself up.

"But I could be mistaken."

"Well - - Maybe not." Yohji wanted the touch back. He wanted Aya to press his lips against the heat, and stroke it with his tongue, caress it with the wet insides of his mouth. Oh, and Aya had proven good at it, once Yohji had coaxed him into trying it. Once he'd lowered himself to beg and whine and had given countless blowjobs of his own - - which Aya liked very much, oh, very, very much - - and had brought up the notion that fair was fair and Aya ought to at least give it a try. Aya hadn't wanted to -- and maybe, Yohji had thought with a bit of guilt - - it was more than physical distaste in the act. Maybe it had to do with darker, mental workings. With those repressed memories that plagued Aya's subconscious having to do with Shuldig and Farfarello.

"I wouldn't want to interfere with your sleep. You're getting on in years - -"

"Fuck you." Yohji laughed and lunged for Aya's arm when he made to scoot off the bed. Jerked him backwards and scrambled to get a decent hold before Aya could wriggle free.

"You will take that back." The wrestling was one of Yohji's few concessions to Aya's twisted need for --- punishment/pain/pleasure. Aya needed the occasional force to make it all right for him in his head. Needed the pain sometimes to make the vital connection between synapses that would allow him to enjoy what his body was experiencing. Shuldig had managed to do that to him too, fucking psychotic telepath that he was. Sometimes all it took was pressing Aya's wrists into the mattress, sometimes a little more, sometimes nothing at all and he would seem normal for the longest time before that expression would come over his face in the midst of Yohji trying to evict a response from him that signaled that it just wasn't enough. When he was really bad, they wouldn't have sex, because Aya wouldn't be satisfied with the things that Yohji was willing to do and Yohji refused to hurt Aya. To really hurt him at least. He didn't want to feed the kink. He didn't want to reinforce the mindset -- but sometimes it just seemed a loosing battle and sometimes wanting Aya was stronger than not wanting to hurt Aya if that's what Aya wanted.

But he hadn't been like that for a while. Venice was working its magic on all of them. Four months here and the last one had been like something out of a dream. All of them happy and relaxed -- all of them almost forgetting the life they'd shuffled to the back burner.

"I'm years and years from thirty." He declared and pillows flew off the bed and hit the floor, the comforter twisted under them and Yohji narrowly avoided an elbow to the sternum that would have hurt like hell. Unless Aya meant business -- in other words, unless he was out to main, kill, or seriously injure a body - - he wasn't a match for Yohji in a good old fashioned friendly wrestling match. Yohji outweighed him, he was stronger and he was generally more patient in planning his moves.

He ended up where he wanted, with Aya pinned under him face down, Yohji's stiff cock pressing into the tight, hot space between Aya's legs.

"So, take it back." He grinned down, flinging hair out of his face so he could lean over and breathe against the back of Aya's neck. The shirt was mostly off one shoulder. The faintest of scars could be seen on the creamy skin of his back. Only the worst of them were vivid enough to notice unless you were damned close.

"Years and years?" Aya asked, voice a little muffled.

Yohji sniffed, shifting a little to squeeze a hand under Aya's belly and search out the mostly hard sex pressed tight between belly and bed. Aya squirmed a little, making an inarticulate sound, pressing his rear up against Yohji's groin. It gave Yohji a bit more room to play with Aya's cock. He circled the swollen head with his thumb, feeling the length of it fully harden under his attention. Aya was more insistent in his backward thrusts, grinding his perfect, perfect ass against Yohji's throbbing member.

"Not gonna - - take - - it back?" Yohji was beginning to forget the game.

"Nnnn." Aya agreed.

Yohji fumbled with his cut-off's, struggling to get them down and keep his hold on Aya at the same time. He didn't need them all the way off, just far enough to free himself. He was slippery with precum and the lube was far out of reach. Aya would have disagreed with him going for it anyway, so he didn't. He withdrew his hand from under Aya long enough to spread the firm, soft flesh of his asscheeks, then pressed himself against the puckered opening that his cock was twitching to invade. Just plunge inside, it screamed, all the way to the hilt and he'll moan under you and rotate that fucking beautiful ass and maybe not even bleed. Hard to ignore that urge, hard to ignore Aya trying to speed the process up by pressing back against him, but damned if he'd cause pain if he could avoid it by just taking his time. He slowly worked the tip of himself in and paused to let Aya's body adjust -- to stretch to accommodate him. Then further in, an inch at a time, pulling in and out a little to ease the way with what the hungry tip of his cock was leaking out. Then when the full girth of him was accepted he took a preparatory breath and plunged the rest of the way in, filling Aya's insides, suffocated by the intense heat and pressure.

"Oh -- fucking -- God!!" It always took him by the balls and rocked his universe, that first taste of himself being squeezed so tight it likened to crush his flesh. That first sensation of being fully encased by Aya, of feeling his balls slap against Aya's rear and his pubes pressed into Aya's smooth skin. It took a moment to orient himself, to do anything but hover there, buried to the hilt in heat and pressure and pure, unadulterated pleasure. Then he got a grip and began to move, pulling Aya's hips up to give him a better trajectory for grazing the lump of Aya's prostrate. When he hit it the first time, Aya cried out, digging fingers into the comforter, pressing his face into the softness to muffle the helpless sounds. He thrust back each time Yohji thrust forward, trying to impale himself deeper and deeper on Yohji's welcome flesh. Yohji reached around and started pumping Aya's erection. The other hand he spread out across Aya's back, rubbing it up and down the length of his spine, leaving the occasional mark of nails in flesh, knowing that was also a turn on for Aya.

They came almost in sync. Aya first, spurting hot liquid into Yohji's hand. Then Yohji felt the wave start to overcome him, felt his balls tighten and his body instinctively picked up the pace. He came inside of Aya, and collapsed over his back, still embedded for a few moments inside his body. Then he fell to the side and lay there, with one arm over his eyes, recovering. Aya stretched out on his tummy, legs spread, feet hanging off the edge of the bed, the evidence of Yohji's climax slowly dribbling in a trail down his inner thighs. No blood though and Yohji smiled a satisfied smile, leaning over to press his lips to the small of Aya's back. Aya shivered at the light touch, still sensitive to the little things. He lay his head on his arms and shut his eyes, body limp and heavy.

"Shower?" Yohji asked, thinking that he really would like a nice long nap now. And it was dark outside. The buildings across the canal were purple with that strange light that came between the sun's setting the moon's rising.

"Unh - -" Aya didn't move. Yohji slipped of the bed and padded silent and naked down the hall to the bath. Ran warm water and rinsed himself off, then ghosted back with the warm, wet rag, shutting the bedroom door behind him and locking it. Ken and Omi knew by now that the two of them did things behind that door better left undisturbed -- but one never could trust Ken in a moment of excitement not to come barging in at an inopportune moment.

He cleaned Aya's skin with the wet towel, and Aya spread his legs a little so that he could get his thighs. Just drowsy and accommodating, the later of which he'd been all evening, which made Yohji wonder how much of the wine he'd had before dinner to put him in such an indulgent mood. Yohji urged him away from the wet spot - - the bed was wide enough to oblige - - and the two of them settled down against the pillows, skin to skin, comfortable and sated. Maybe a little drunk. Yes, definitely a little drunk, Yohji decided upon reflection. It didn't take much for Aya to get that way. He used to never drink. He did now - - it was hard not to here - - but more than that it was sort of an escape when things started to creep up on him. If he'd been drinking this afternoon maybe he'd had a bad day. Maybe a string of bad days. He hid the depression well when he didn't want Yohji hovering.

Yohji watched the shadows move outside the window, listened to the occasional splash of someone putting oar to water, the occasional hum of a motor taxi engine -- to Aya's soft, even breaths as he slept.

Idyllic. The word kept coming to him, an apt description of this time and this place. Funny thing about that word. Everytime he thought it, some uneasy little voice in the back of him mind chided at him that anything this wonderful wouldn't last. That something would always come to shatter the happiness. It always had in the past. Why change now?

Yohji came awake with a sudden, jolting pain that stole his breath and made bright lights dance in the darkness before his eyes. He gasped, strangling for breath, feeling the warm trickle of blood rolling down the back of his throat, feeling a burning in his chest and a damned deadly, damned determined weight across his stomach. In the darkness of post midnight hours, all he could see was the silhouette of his attacker. All he could feel was the pain of a possible broken nose and of the thumbs digging into his neck trying to crush his throat.

He bucked and tried to roll, tried to break the determined grip. Slammed his own fist up into the unprotected side of his attacker and that loosened the grip. That let him roll as the fingers loosened and reverse their positions. There was no resistance. Yohji sat there, panting with a fist drawn back and stared down into the moonlit darkness at Aya's pale, shocked face.

"Shit." Yohji whispered hoarsely, forcing himself to relax. "Goddamnit, Aya - - "

Another nightmare. Another one of the bloody, fucking nightmares that Aya would wake from frenzied and out of his mind with panic. Aya lay under him now, blinking -- slowly registering the blood dripping down Yohji's face -- slowly realizing that he'd caused it and why.

"You broke my fucking nose." Yohji gingerly lifted a hand to the bridge of his nose. Maybe not broken. Close. It was throbbing like hell.

"Get off." Aya asked softly and Yohji shifted, collapsing with his back to the wall, trying to get his own head straight after such a rude awakening. Aya rolled off the bed, looked around for a moment for his pants, found them and slipped them on, then started padding for the door. All silence. All without another stare in Yohji's direction.

"Aya -- what the fuck? Where - -?" He scrambled after, naked and bleeding and Aya turned at the door, eyes pits of darkness, mouth a firm, unhappy line.

"Don't. Just -- don't. I'm sorry." Very softly spoken. Full of guilt and pain.

"Jesus, Aya. You had a fucking nightmare. Not the first one. Not the last. It's not your fault."

"It's not yours either." And that was that. Aya slipped out the door and down the hall, determined to brood over it in solitude. Yohji stood there in the open doorway, rubbing his throat, swallowing blood, knowing damn well he wouldn't be welcome in Aya's room. Knowing damn well who'd been plaguing Aya's dreams.

It had to stop. It goddamned well had to stop somehow. Even though they hadn't heard a peep from Shuldig, he still haunted Aya. Aya denied it to Yohji, probably even denied it to himself, but the sub-conscience wasn't so easily deceived. He sobbed in his sleep sometimes, or cried out in some nightmarish horror relived -- or worse yet struck out in a panicked attempt to kill the demon tormenting him.

The way Yohji saw it, as long as Aya knew that German bastard was out there gunning for him, he was never going to get over it. Which meant Shuldig was on the top of Yohji's hit list. Finding him was a problem. He'd had Omi quietly on it for months now, and the kid hadn't been able to uncover a hint of Schwartz's whereabouts. Which left him with damned few other options for an information source. The most reliable of those few being a source he was reluctant to bring back into their lives just yet. Being out of Krittiker's reach had been nice. The mere knowledge that the powers that be, didn't know where they were was comforting. It was a sort of freedom that none of them had felt in a long time, even though they'd been working mostly freelance for the last year or so. But Krittiker still had a hand on their leash. Still had a power over them that they couldn't quite manage to shake. Their link to Krittiker legitimized them in a way. It made them something more than assassin's for hire, even though when you got right down to it, that's what they were. Krittiker allowed them a certain freedom now, as long as they did the organization the occasional favor. And Krittiker had access to things that they just couldn't find out from any other source.

Nothing to do really, if he wanted access to information that he couldn't find otherwise, than to go crawling back with his tail between his legs begging favors. But he needed to find Shuldig. Aya needed to, whether he admitted it or not. Whether it was his hand that put an end to it or not -- there was a closure needed to set things right again.


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