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A Price For Madness

by P L Nunn


Chapter Ten


The lot of them went back and staked out the quarry that night. A damned long, cool night being harassed by bugs and plagued by boredom. Their prey didn't show. And they didn't get back into town until almost dawn. Ken was all up for stopping for breakfast, so they did and sat drinking coffee and eating various breakfast foods until well past dawn. They listened to the news on the TV over the counter for reports of their boy striking again. Nothing was reported. A wasted night. Not that they weren't used to it in their line of work. They got back around 10 in the am, and took turns with the shower. Yohji lurked around Aya all the morning, on the prowl and obvious about it. Even Aya's ominous looks wouldn't chase him off. Thank god Ken had gone upstairs to take a catnap and Omi was on the computer for most of the morning.

"It probably wouldn't be a terrible idea to get an hour or so's worth of shut eye before we head out there again this evening." Yohji had finished his ritual equipment check and was slanting Aya a look that hinted that more things than sleep were on his mind. "After all, we didn't get a lot of it last night."

Aya shrugged and walked past him out of the rec-room, ignoring the half-mast lashes and the sly smile. He'd seen Yohji give that look to enough women in the past to be disgusted he was trying it on him. Such things didn't impress him. Yohji slouching there with his booted feet up on the coffee table, his lean mid-drift bare in the form fitting black shirt he wore, didn't make him look twice. Not after the first long assessing look, at any rate. Yohji was too aware of what he was about for Aya to feed fuel to the fire. Yohji ought to have his mind out of the gutter and on business. Yohji ought not be doing things that distracted Aya from the matter at hand.

The image of that hard strip of tanned stomach looped in Aya's head. He recalled the areas above -- and below it. He took a breath, feeling the heat in his cheeks. Damn Yohji for doing this to him.

"What's wrong, Aya?"

Omi was staring at him from the kitchen doorway, a look of concern on his face. All honest emotion, Omi. All open when there wasn't something vicious and nasty to make him button down the hatches. Aya couldn't understand sometimes how he survived wearing all that on his face. Omi ought to know better. Omi wasn't naive. Omi ought to protect himself more, he ought not to care so much about the state of other people's minds.

"Nothing." Aya said shortly, walking past, wanting the blemish of his own embarrassment hidden.

"Damn, I hope we finish this tonight." Ken was coming down the hall from the other direction, fresh from his nap, practically bouncing in his walk from pent up excitement. "I'm so tired of this shit."

Aya didn't comment. Walked past and to the stairwell, figuring to go and sort out his own business gear.

"Hey, Aya, we need to talk."

Aya cast a wary glance over his shoulder. Yohji sauntered up, pushing hair behind an ear with one hand and reaching out to catch at Aya's arm with the other.

"About what?"

"You know."

"What is there to say?" Not quite exasperation. Not quite confusion. Yohji made the hairs on the back of his arm stand up. Yohji made his stomach quiver. Yohji made him want to escape, because to stay was treacherous and inviting. "We don't have time for --"

"We've got all afternoon 'til dusk. All sorts of time. Come here for a second." A tug on his arm towards the daunting portal of Yohji's room. "I just want to ask you something. It's important."

"Ask here." A little suspicion. A great deal of --- alarm. Since when had Yohji ever intimidated him? Never. Uncertainty ate at his gut now. He hesitated to call it fear. He hadn't been afraid yesterday morning - but then again, exhaustion had consumed conscious thought -- had robbed him of the capacity to do anything but collapse into the comfort Yohji offered. And that comfort had felt so -- good. Everything Yohji had done had felt good. It was baffling. Bewildering. The memory of it stole his determination and the resolve on his face wavered.

"Can't." Yohji said and tugged at his arm. Aya took a step in that direction at the urging.

"You had all last night to ask me something."

"Couldn't. It was a business trip." Which answer made Aya blink and take another few bemused steps, until he was inside the boundary of Yohji's room.


Yohji shut the door and turned on his heel, so close to Aya that Aya had to take a step back to avoid collision. His back hit the wall. Yohji's hands pressed against it on either side of Aya's head.

"Oh, nothing really. This." He lowered his head, brushing Aya's mouth with his own; not touching him anywhere but upon the soft flesh of his lips. Erotic, that singular soft touch. Mind numbing, the capacity Yohji had to make a simple kiss into something more entirely. There weren't even tongues involved and Aya's knees felt weak. The instinctive urge to flee was shrieking in his gut. The desperate need to avoid the intimacy that Yohji was trying to steer them towards. It made his hands clench at his sides, even as his nerves sang with physical reaction to Yohji's touch and Yohji's nearness.

All it would have taken to break away, was turning his head. He couldn't summon the free will to do it. He sighed and spread his fingers wide on the wall. Without breaking the kiss, Yohji reached to the side and locked the door; without breaking it, he tugged on Aya's sweater, urging him away from the wall and into the room a step at a time. When their bodies pressed together, Aya felt the growing evidence of Yohji's excitement against him. It occurred to him, through the haze of ardor, that Yohji wanted more than a handjob. That Yohji wanted to consummate this -- thing -- between them desperately enough to try and initiate this now, in the middle of the afternoon, hours before they were to go out on a mission. Maybe because of that. Maybe because the frustration -- the tension -- of sitting out there all night to no avail and the prospect of doing it again, had him strung so taught, he needed the release. Maybe Aya did too. Maybe that was why he'd let himself be drawn here, when he most certainly had known what it would lead to. It was lunacy. It was unprofessional. It was the beginning of a bad habit -- the rational part of Aya's mind warned. It ought to be nipped in the bud.

Yohji ran his hands up under Aya's loose sweater and ran them back down, nails first. Aya's mind blanked, he gasped into Yohji's mouth, arching his back into the unexpected bit of pain laced pleasure. Again, this time up his sides and over his ribs.

"God." He breathed it into Yohji's mouth, meaning it almost religiously. Yohji laughed, soft, breathy, and his fingertips whispered over Aya's skin, a gentle antithesis to the pain/pleasure he'd just delivered.

"Yohji --" he tried to force reason upon himself. Tried to get his thoughts back into some semblance of coherency.

"I want. You want. We want." Yohji simplified matters. Yohji's warm, wet mouth slipped over his again.

Yohji drew the sweater off in one smooth stroke afterwards, breaking the kiss long enough to yank off his own shirt in the process. The back of his knees hit the bed and he sank down slowly, methodically trailing his lips and the occasional sharp scrape of his teeth down Aya's body. His deft fingers worked at the buttons of Aya's jeans, his hand kneaded the bulge under the denim, even as he fastened his mouth to the indent of Aya's navel. Aya sucked in his stomach reflexively as a wet, warm tongue probed the shallow cavity. Yohji wound a hand up through his legs to grasp his buttocks and pull him back.

Yohji slipped his jeans down, sliding them over his hips, following the migration of cloth over flesh with his mouth. His mouth found the testament of Aya's passion, his tongue circled the tip, his lips parted and he took the head of it into his mouth. Aya bent over him, hands gripping his bare shoulders, teeth clenched to keep them from chattering. A moan of purest pleasure rose up as Yohji dug his fingers into the soft flesh of his buttocks. Yohji's arms circled him, twining about his thighs, and of a sudden he found himself off his balance and on his back upon the bed. Yohji pressed over him, sliding up his body to cover his mouth with his lips. He tasted of -- of Aya. It was on his lips and inside his mouth. Amazing. Disconcerting.

Yohji lifted his hips long enough to work at the fastenings of his own pants, then wriggled them off his hips, kicking them off into a heap on the floor next to Aya's carelessly discarded clothes. Then the fevered length of him was back, weight pressing Aya into the softness of the mattress, hands roaming over Aya's sides, up his arms to grasp his hands, twining fingers in fingers. He moved his body as he did, rubbing their loins together, grinding silken flesh against silken flesh. Aya arched up to met him instinctively, lost in the sensation, lost in Yohji's fingers pressing his hands into the mattress above his head, in Yohji's mouth devouring his, in Yohji's sudden initiative that washed over him and subsumed him and drowned him. Drowning was what he wanted. Subsumption was what he needed. Not to think -- not to reason -- just to do -- to have done to him.

"You want this?" Yohji paused, breathless, eyes bereft of all their normal casual joviality, of all the devil-may-care facade he usually wore and just dead serious. Damned intent on what he was about. Damned focused. And he would ruin it all by asking. Aya blinked at him teetering on the edge of sanity, almost drawn back up into the real world by the question.

Yohji might have seen it. Might have merely sensed it. He shook his head regardless and murmured. "Never mind."

He reached across Aya to the lamp table, fumbled in the drawer for something and then his weight and warmth were back. Then he was smoothing a firm hand up the length of Aya's belly, leaning down for an open mouthed kiss. Aya's hands clutched at his hair, tangling in the depths of it. Not quite breaking the connection of tongues and lips, Yohji shifted, drawing himself up to his knees between Aya's thighs. Hands up and down Aya's legs, until he hooked an elbow under one of Aya's knees and dragged his hips a little further down the bed. Aya was vulnerable then, in that position. It made his heart thump the faster and little flashes of imagery -- of nightmarish memory -- jolt through his brain. Of Shuldig leering over him and Farfarello's dim, unsound presence in the shadows. Of Farfarello wanting to hurt him/ cut him/ kill him and Shuldig not letting him, because fucking him --mind and body was more the thrill for him. It took him in its teeth, that vision and shook him savagely, blanking his mind of everything but the panic and the dread and the shame and the fear -- just like the nightmares he woke up to most nights with a soundless scream poised on his lips.

Panic. Panic. Panic. He came back to himself in a flurry of harsh breaths and cool air over his stomach. Of a throbbing pain in his hand and of Yohji sprawled inelegantly on the floor, fingers raised to his mouth, eyes sharp with hurt and anger.

"Goddamnit, Aya --" Blood trailed down his chin, spilling from inside his mouth. The wound, vainly trying to heal on Aya's right hand was split and leaked red of its own. He'd struck out fiercely and hadn't even realized it. He hadn't even felt the pain in that stark place the panic had put him.

"I'm ---" Sorry. He couldn't make the word come out. He was ashamed at the loss of control. He thought he ought to be somewhere other than here. He thought he needed to be alone somewhere in the dark. He pushed himself off the bed, looking for scattered clothes.

Yohji caught his arm, angry. Offended. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Let go."

"Goddamnit. Why?" The blood flowed unrestricted down Yohji's chin, dripping onto the smooth, tanned flesh of his chest, trailing down towards his belly. Even incensed, Yohji's mouth was full and generous. The blood glistening on his lips was --- fascinating.

"I don't know." A soft admittance of the truth.

"You don't know!" Yohji pulled him down. Aya let himself drop to his knees on the carpet, knelt there a few inches above Yohji who was on his ass, legs sprawled. "You fucking split my lip all to hell."

"Its bleeding." As if he'd never seen the miracle of blood before. Or seen Yohji bleed or even made him bleed himself on occasion.

"No shit."

Aya reached out, intrigued, and swiped a finger through the blood pooling on Yohji's bottom lip. He put it in his mouth, sampling the flavor of the blood, while Yohji stared, mesmerized. He opened his mouth to say something. Something stupid or trivial or cliché that Aya didn't want to hear. He leaned down and caught Yohji's bottom lip between his own, taking the blood into his own mouth, suckling that tender piece of flesh, running his tongue over the swelling of split meat on the slick insides of Yohji's mouth. The blood was warm and salty, it smeared against the paleness of Aya's chin and jaw. Yohji caught hold of his head, digging his fingers into Aya's hair, wanting to deepen the joining. Wanting ----

-----everything. And too aroused by the pain/pleasure/blood fervor to give a damn about Aya's psychosis or Aya's recent blind panic. Aya was too excited to care at the moment. Aya let himself be pulled down, let Yohji roll on top, thrilled to the feel of muscle and flesh and bone bearing down upon him. Shivered at the heat of Yohji's cock against his own. Yohji wanted inside still. Yohji was desperate for it, the brief violence only having served to stoke his fires. Yohji had given all the foreplay he was presently capable of and was grimly determined to be about the business.

"Now Aya." He ground out, hand slipping under Aya's knee. "Its going to be now."

Aya nodded, thoughts all haywire and disjointed, little flashes of that smug German face flaring behind his eyes. But this wasn't Shuldig. And Yohji didn't want to shatter him into a million pieces. Yohji just wanted to blow his mind. Yohji just wanted to crawl into the frigid, empty place that was Aya and fill it with his warmth. Yohji offered relief and protection and strength and reliability. Yohji offered himself and it was a terrifying charity because it meant Aya might have to give something of himself back in return.

It hurt when Yohji passed the point of no return. A tearing, burning pain despite the lube that Yohji had coated himself with. Aya welcomed it. Aya opened his mouth in a soundless cry and arched up, impaling himself further upon Yohji's flesh when Yohji would have retreated out of a sudden attack of consideration.

"I'm sorry. Sorry. Sorry." Yohji murmured, but he was distracted by the sensations of his own body.

"Shut up." Aya couldn't breath right. Aya's body was fighting to accommodate the thick presence within it. Invasion. Permeation. But not the violation he'd experienced before. Nothing like that. Yohji's hand moved between them and the world centered in that space between Aya's navel and his thighs. It centered on Yohji's bent back and Yohji's slick, heated flesh filling him, pumping with artful rhythm in and out of his body. He began to feel a void each time Yohji pulled back. An emptiness that was wretched and lonely. And when Yohji came, spurting liquid heat inside him, shuddering like he'd run a fast mile, Aya followed in short order, surprising himself with the intensity of the orgasm -- with the sheer magnitude of the sensations coursing through his body.

"Jesus -- fucking -- Christ." Yohji gasped. "Jesus -- Aya ---" He collapsed on top of Aya, heavy and hot, skin sheened with perspiration. Too heavy, now that he was dead weight. Too hot, now that the passion was cooling. Aya pushed at his shoulder and Yohji obligingly rolled over, lying on his back shoulder to shoulder.

Yohji was happy. Aya could feel it emanating from him. Could feel the satisfaction. Aya felt numb. There were thoughts and feelings behind a wall that he couldn't quite get to and between them and him an empty space where the passion had sucked up everything and left a void in its wake. Everything but a spattering of uncertainty.

"Aya?" Yohji ran the back of one knuckle across the skin of Aya's hip. "Aya, you okay?"

Yohji talked too much. There were times when silence served best. "What time is it?' Aya asked softly.

Yohji propped himself up on an elbow and stared down. Strands of long coppery hair clung to his face. The blood was a thin trickle at the side of his mouth. His eyes were dark shadowed things.

"It doesn't matter. Not time to go yet."

"It does." Aya felt a bit of panic rising. A bit of primal fear. To lay there afterwards and --- reminisce -- or engage in the small pleasantries of -- lovers -- terrified him. He couldn't do it. He didn't know how. He rose of a sudden, making Yohji shy back to keep from colliding with him. The clothes were crumpled on the floor around them. He found his jeans and yanked them on. Yohji's arms slid around his waist when he knelt down to reach for the sweater. Yohji's face pressed against his shoulder.

"What are you doing, Aya?"

"Nothing. I've got to get ready."

"Sure you're not running away?"

"Yes! I don't -- I'm not --" he took a breath, shuddering.

"It's okay." Yohji pressed his lips into the curve of Aya's neck. "You do it if it makes you feel better. I know where to find you."


It didn't bother Yohji that much, Aya's skittishness. Not really. Not that he'd expected a cuddle afterwards. Or to be told how great it had been, or anything like that. This was Aya after all. The fact that it had happened at all was miraculous. He couldn't wait to do it again. If Aya didn't freak out and bolt. He had plans to make sure that didn't happen. He was already plotting it in his head before Aya's sudden, irrational flight.

He didn't mind. It was Aya. And it had been an erotic little slice of heaven. It wasn't as if they had the luxury of more than a few hours to waste before they had to go back out anyway. It wasn't like he could have persuaded Aya to stay, a warm, comforting body in his bed, till morning.

He'd spent all last night, sitting in the dark, figuring how to go about this. How to work it to appeal to Aya's fucked up sense of how things should be. And it had succeeded. It had succeeded because Aya had wanted it to, no matter how much he might want to run from it afterwards.

"What happened to you?" Ken asked when Yohji finally slunk out of his room, all decked out in his business attire, his hair in a tail at the back of his neck and his long black coat slung over one arm.

Ken was staring at the obvious fat lip Aya had given him. Yohji shrugged and told the truth. "Aya clocked me."

Ken blinked. "Why? What did you do?"

Yohji shrugged. "Its Aya. Go figure." Honesty got him everywhere. Ken could very well imagine Aya doing a bit of violence for some reason that only Aya could perceive. The state of Aya's sanity was often a subject of careful debate in this house. It got Ken off Yohji's back at any rate.

It didn't help when they were preparing to leave and Ken asked Aya why he'd hit Yohji. Aya's eyes had narrowed. Aya had glared with murderous violet eyes over Ken's head at Yohji and refused to answer the question. As if he thought Yohji and Ken had been discussing the things Yohji and Aya had done in the shadows of Yohji's room. As if he thought they might have been making light of it. Yohji didn't get the chance to tell him otherwise, not with them ready to leave and everybody gathered around the car in the back alley. There hadn't been a whole hell of a lot of talking on the drive out to the quarry. There was something akin to hostility emanating from Aya and it just grated on Yohji's last nerve. It made him grip the steering wheel and grind his teeth and berate himself for even trying to figure out what in the hell was going through Aya's head. He couldn't ask. Not with Ken and Omi in the car an Ken and Omi damned quiet and damned curious about what had gotten Yohji and Aya's fur up.

"What if he doesn't show again tonight?" Omi asked to break the fragile silence. To shatter the frigid mood.

"Then we go back tomorrow night. What do you think?" Aya snapped.

"Don't bitch at him." Yohji said with blatantly false indifference. "Its not his fault you're such a fucking headcase."

Aya drew breath and swung his glare towards Yohji's profile. "If I had wanted your opinion -- I would have asked."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize we had to ask permission to speak around your most sanctified self."

"If you can't play nice, maybe you shouldn't play." Ken propped his foot against the back of Aya's seat.

"Nobody fucking asked you." Yohji informed him, not pissed at Ken in the least and furious at Aya.

"Nobody had to. Jeeze." Ken groused, kicking the back of Aya's seat in disgust, because Yohji's was too hard to reach. Aya pressed his lips together, staring out the window with a passion.

"This is gonna be a long fucking night." Ken muttered.

Omi didn't say a thing, intimidated into silence. Yohji kept his silence for another reason. Confusion. He was simply flummoxed. He'd known Aya was flustered, but he hadn't expected animosity. He hadn't expected that impersonal cold glare that Aya practiced so regularly, directed at him. A heated, angry one, full of emotion he could have taken -- would have welcomed actually -- but not the I could care less if you were dead or alive one that he'd been getting since they'd gathered together for the last minute equipment check.

"Damn, I hope he shows." Ken complained sourly. "We really need some blood-shed and death to lighten this mood."

"Fuck off." Yohji suggested dryly.

"Whatever." Ken snorted.

They secreted the car a half mile down the road from the turn off to the quarry and trudged through the woods to their destination. It was already darkening and the scraggly forest was cast in bluish shadows. As a general rule, they were a quiet, stealthy bunch by nature and necessity, but dry leaves crunched underfoot nonetheless. The unavoidable noise made Yohji jumpy. It made his flesh crawl everytime one of them snapped a hidden twig under their heels. The quarry was a desolate wasteland in the midst of the withering wilderness. Omi disappeared into the surrounding trees, going for a high point in which to scope the entire area. He did his best work at a distance. Ken who was best utilized at close range, chose the same vantage he'd used last night -- one of the big abandoned pieces of machinery sitting near the quarry's edge.

"Hey, Aya --" Yohji said softly, incapable of not saying something -- of attempting something before they were all plunged into an abyss of silence for the rest of the night. Aya's eyes flickered towards him. Aya's face was all stillness, apathetic and disinterested in anything but the mission at hand. "About what Ken said -- I didn't tell ---"

"I don't care." A flat statement. "And its not the time."

And he was gone, down the path towards their madman's little shrine, using the top of the rickety shack to ease his way down to the trail. The roof groaned under his weight and things shifted and complained inside. It was a wonder the thing didn't collapse entirely spilling all its rotten, rusted contents down into the black pool of water below.

Yohji cursed silently and chose the back of a rotted out old truck for his own vigilance and settled in for what might be a very long night.

He sat and seethed, working up an indignity that was only tempered by the reluctant acknowledgment that Aya was in denial. That Aya hadn't had a close personal relationship since his family had been blown to hell and back and even then he hadn't had one like this. That Aya, solitary creature that he was, might be having a bout of post-sex hysteria -- or in his case post-sex shutting down of everything vaguely connected with an emotion. And all the understanding in the world didn't make it any easier to swallow. It didn't make him want to throttle Aya any less --only he'd probably come back with stubs at the end of his arms if he tried.

He ought to just play right along. He ought to just return the cold hostility for all he was worth and say to hell with the whole thing. It was too damn much to go through for the temporary fix of a bit of sex. It had been good sex though. Damn good sex. He ran his tongue along the tender spot on the inside of his lip and thought about Aya's tongue there. The blood thing was a bit of unexpected kink. He rather hoped -- if Aya didn't snip this thing in the bud -- that it didn't take Yohji bleeding to work him into a sexual frenzy.

An owl hooted from not far off. Yohji looked up at the developing veil of stars in the night sky. God, you could see the entire universe way out here in the country. The city lights jealously hid all the glittering stars.

"Balinese." A soft voice in his ear. He lifted a hand reflexively to the tiny earpiece receiver.

"Yeah?" he murmured, on alert now that Omi had broken the silence.

"There's something in the woods between your position and mine. Coming this way."

"Human something?" he hardly wished to fly into action against a deer or a stray dog or anything else of an animal nature that might be wondering the woods at night.

"I don't know."


"Wait and see what it is." That suggestion from Aya, down in the pit of hell.

"Its a dog." Ken's disgusted voice over the comm. And sure enough a short legged beagle looking mutt came snuffling out of the woods like it was on a mission or following a trail. It loped around the outer edge of the wood and stopped in the area that Omi had gone up, staring into the darkened branches like it just knew something was up there that shouldn't be.

Yohji was staring at the dog through the planks of the truck bed. He missed the other movement altogether. Ken was just as distracted but had a better angle.

"Son of a bitch." Ken's muttered curse. And then the swiftly graceful movement of Ken launching himself from his cover and converging on the shadowed figure of a man that had somehow slipped past them or around them while they were preoccupied with the dog.

"Make sure its him, Ken!" Omi warned. "I can't see from here."

God forbid they gut some unsuspecting hunter out with his dog for a late night stroll through the woods. The man might have heard Ken coming, but it was doubtful. It was probably more that seventh sense people got when something dangerous and deadly was approaching at full speed. The man turned and Yohji, who was out of the truck and on his own way towards the edge of the quarry, still couldn't see a face. The man might not have seen him either, dressed to match the night as he was. The guy sure as hell saw Ken. A startled step backwards, like any normal, unguilty man would take faced with a charging stranger out of the night. Then something gleamed in the starlight. A dull length of curved steel.


"He's got a knife." He didn't bother to call it over the comm. Just yelled it at Ken who was an arm's length away, and who changed tactics mid-step and slashed once with his bugnuks to take the guy off guard then slammed into him full body when the unarmed hand came up to ward him off.

Ken had all the common sense of a flea, sometimes. They were too damned close to the edge. They went down and over and hit the slanted roof of the shack with a great thud of impact. Dust went up and a cloud of rotted wood giving way. There was a terrible screeching groan of rock crumbling and rusted nails loosing their hold on tin and lumber.

Yohji saw the shack start its downward crumble. Saw Ken realize the fact and let go his hold on the guy in a moment of desperation. He made a jump for the edge and his foot slipped on the tin roof. Edward Phillipe's did not. Edward Phillipe made a scrambling leap for the edge of the cliff face even as the shack and half the ledge it was perched on went crumbling down to the bottom of the quarry below. Phillipe was not Yohji's first priority. Ken was. He made a lunging grab for arm/jacket/shirt -- anything. Caught hold of Ken's sleeve and the weight pulled him down to his knees, set him off his balance and most certainly off his game. He caught the hind end of the blade coming. Instinct made him duck to avoid it. A foot against his shoulder sent him over the edge, his free hand grabbing desperately for any sort of handhold. There were still beams bolted into the side of the cliff. Still a good portion of the shack still attached to the rock face. He bloodied his hands and ripped nails in the process of stopping his and Ken's headlong descent. He body slammed into the jagged remains of a structural support and felt the sharp points of naked nails tear into his flesh. It hurt like hell. His shoulder screamed bloody murder at him.

"Find a fucking handhold." He gasped at Ken. Ken was a wriggling, angry weight at the end of his arm.

"Yohji -- above!" Ken screamed back at him. Phillipe was up there, twisted face and sharp, filed teeth, staring down with murderous intent. As if he could do a damn thing about it. As if he wasn't seeing stars now and starting to feel light headed. God knew what the nails had pierced. He didn't want to know.

Twap. The singular sound of a cross bow bolt fired and hitting a target. Phillipe jerked forward, sucking in startled breath. The tip of one of Omi's bolts protruded from his chest, just shy of his heart. Unlucky miss that.

Aya wasn't so unfortunate. The katana, never the best throwing weapon to start with, sailed with unerring accuracy and took the man through one mad eye. Aya didn't even pause to see if his throw had been true. He leaned out over the shattered edge of the trail where the shack had been and made a grab for Ken's leg.

"Let go." He commanded and lurched backwards when Yohji did, hauling Ken with him in what Yohji liked to think of as a controlled sprawl onto the solid portion of the path.

"Yohji can you climb up by yourself?"

Yohji laughed. He pressed his face against his quickly falling arm and tried to gather the breath to tell them about the nails he'd crucified himself upon.

"Fuck." Ken said and only proceeded Aya by a heartbeat up the side of the cliff. Maybe they'd seen it. Maybe the blood Yohji tasted in his mouth was that obvious in the starlight. God, he hoped to hell he'd only bitten his tongue or torn the split in his lip and not punctured a lung.

Somebody grabbed his wrist. Aya maybe. Ken's fingers wound into his sleeve. They tried to pull him up and he screamed as the nails tore into his flesh. Everything went gray after that. He stopped caring for a while whether he fell into the snake infested pool below or not.

He came back sprawled on the ground at the edge of the quarry, with his coat wide open and somebody pressing their hand against a dull agony in his stomach.

"This one's the worst. Give me something to hold against it." Aya's voice. All business-like and short. Aya's hands were calm and sure. The ripping of material and Omi handed him a strip of cloth. He didn't see Ken. They'd gotten Ken up, right? He couldn't recall clearly.

"Look at all the blood." He murmured. He was feeling so damned light headed. "Does it turn you on?"

Aya blinked at him. Aya's mouth opened. Shut. "Be quiet." He finally said, but something had shattered the cool in his eyes. There was worry there now.

Omi was huge eyed and frightened. He was clutching his cross bow like it was a security blanket. He had blood on his hands. Yohji's blood probably. "Don't talk, Yohji. Ken's gone to get the car."

"Guy's dead, right. Tell me he's dead after all this."

"He's dead." Aya confirmed it. Oh yeah, he remembered Aya's katana protruding from a bloody eyesocket. Bravo. An image he wanted to carry with him to the grave. He hoped he wasn't on his way there now.

"Okay -- okay -- shit, this hurts! How bad is it?"

"You'll live." Aya predicted. "Shut up."

"You shut up." Yohji snarled. It hurt too much for him to practice restraint. The pain tears at the corners of his eye made him wish all those beautiful stars weren't out to illuminate them. "I didn't do anything to deserve all the shit you've been giving me tonight. Its not my fault --" He didn't care if Omi were sitting right there.

"I know." Aya agreed to shut him up. Aya's hand was a steady pressure on his stomach. The other one stroked his hair. Aya was stroking his hair. God, he must be dying.

"Bury me someplace sunny." He sighed. "I'm tired of the shadows."

"Shut up, Yohji. You're not dying." A bit of irritation crept into Aya's voice. The lights from the car making its bumpy way down the sorry excuse for a dirt road illuminated the fear in Aya's eyes. Oh, that was good to see -- in a twisted sort of way -- because it was there for him and it meant some sort of emotion backed it. Something personal and meaningful to Aya that he didn't want to lose.

It was a very good thing indeed.



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