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A Price For Madness

by P L Nunn


Chapter Four


Moonlight glinted off of the water in the old stone quarry six miles out of town. A white stone cliff face rose above the water some thirty feet and along the top of that the dark shadows of trees made a jagged black line against a star filled night sky. The kids always parked below, at the bluff overlooking the quarry lake. An old gravel covered road cut through the woods to get here. It was a setting right out of a Friday the 13th movie. All one needed was a masked killer with a chainsaw and the night would be complete.

The last attack had happened in this spot and still the bluff overlooking the water was filled with cars. Aya couldn't fathom the mentality of these kids, that they'd flock here after what had happened. After the rumors that had to be floating about that it was the same killer. The Make-out Point killer. Maybe Yohji was right and it was the thrill of danger that drew them. The hope that something would happen to make their everyday, mundane lives a little more exhilarating. They didn't know how lucky they were. They had no slightest notion what they were wishing for. Fools. The lot of them. But safer perhaps than they knew. He'd spotted a pair of policemen in the woods and another with binoculars on the ridge above. The local authorities were thinking along the same lines they were. Which probably meant that none of them were going to see hide nor hair of their prey this night. Or any other that the cops were out in force. Men like the one they were after could scent the law, in its often blundering procedure, like they could scent the fresh blood of a victim. Unless the madman wanted to be caught he wouldn't show tonight.

Which meant Aya was wasting his time. Which meant Yohji was at his spot across town and that Ken and Omi were at theirs. If their prey were smart, and from all indication he was deviously so, then he'd wait out the cops limited span of patience. Or he'd strike somewhere else. He wouldn't wait too long. He might not even vary to greatly from his pattern of taking his victims from secluded make-out spots like this. He was smart, but he was still demented, still messed up in some integral portion of his mind. Madmen followed established patterns for the most part. This one had already proved himself to be a repeat killer. The fact that he'd taken a hiatus for several years meant he'd been restrained from following his instincts. He'd been incarcerated, or institutionalized. Something that kept him forcibly from carrying out his killings. It had not been a mere case of taking his business elsewhere. There had been no reports world wide of such brutal murders.

Aya prowled until dawn, until well after the last straggling couple had left the bluff. He walked the mile through the woods to his car and sat there for a while in the chill early morning air, forcing his body to relax after a night of failed reconnaissance, a night of the instinctive, rigid focus he slipped into when he was on a mission. It was a harsh state to perpetually endure. He could feel it in his bones and behind his eyes. The frustration of a wasted night didn't help. He pressed thumb and forefinger against the bridge of his nose, massaging away a burgeoning headache. He'd been having them a lot lately. Pressure, stress, worry --- and he hated to admit it, but -- denial. It took considerable effort to blank his mind to all the unpalatable things he'd rather not dwell on, all the shouldn't have's and couldn't have's that swirled beneath the surface of his thoughts, all the things that made him wake up in cold sweat with a sob or a cry of outrage on his lips. He liked to think of it as outrage. He refused to admit it might be fear or pain of a sort that didn't go away when the blood stopped freely flowing.

It was easy to believe otherwise when he wasn't high or drunk. And hadn't that been a humiliating little scene? His brief plummet into Yohji's addictions and the all too disturbing heart to heart that the pot and the booze had dragged out of him. Not to mention the morning after. He'd been ready to meet with violence, a smirk or a sarcastic remark from Yohji all the day after, but it never came. He'd almost craved it and mourned the lost chance to regain the status he'd lost in that late night confession -- in the early morning haze of comfort and warmth and ---- refuge -- that he'd woken up to. Bewildering state to find himself. Bewildering moment intense and very brief -- tranquillity? -- in the softness of that bed against a body that didn't hold any illusions about what he was or what he ought to be. Maybe that's why he'd gone to Yohji in the first place, because Yohji's soul was as blackened as his own. Because he didn't have to hide anything from him. Because he didn't feel that some brief moment of closeness might taint Yohji beyond repair. Because there was something about Yohji, despite the bad habits and the sarcasm and all the other things that irritated Aya to no ends, that just screamed that he was more in control emotionally than Aya might ever hope to be. That he knew what he was and who and that he'd never had any need to pretend to be something else.

He shook his head, clearing it of musty dwellings that he didn't have the time or the patience for. He reached for the cell phone in its niche below the gear shift and punched in Omi's number, leaning over to shove his katanna under the seat just in case he got stopped. No reason to have three foot killing blades right out in plain view. He stopped in mid-shuffle, eyes focusing on the passenger seat.

"Hello?" Omi's voice in his ear and he couldn't find the voice to speak. There was a single rose lying on the dark leather. He hadn't seen it before in the dark. The petals were so red they were almost black. The stem was prickly with thorns that had not been stripped away. It damned sure hadn't been there when he'd left this evening and the car had damned sure been locked tight.

"Hello? Aya?" A little more insistent Omi in his ear. He blinked, drawing his hand close to his body and away from the rose in sudden, inexplicable aversion. He wanted out of the car. The panic hit him like a fist from behind. Unavoidable. Unfathomable. He jerked the door open and scrambled out onto the gravel road, distancing himself from the sleek black car and its gaping door that despite locks and alarms had not kept that dark flower from being deposited inside. He should have grabbed the katanna, but his mind hadn't been working logically when it had developed the burning urge to exit the vehicle.

He could hear the low, tinny sound of a voice from the phone he still held. He took a breath and lifted it to his ear.


"Are you okay? What's the matter?"

"Nothing. I'm fine. Anything?"

A pause. Suspicious silence. Then. "No. Ken and I turned up nothing. Yohji struck out as well. Too many police running around. You?"

"The same."

"We're meeting for breakfast at the Mad Hatter, you coming?"

"Yes." He severed the connection and shoved the phone in his pocket. He scanned the purpling shadows of post dawn. Nothing in the woods. Nothing down the small back road. At least nothing that wanted to be seen. He walked around the car, looking for signs of entry on the passenger side, for signs of tampering. Nothing seemed out of order. Someone had been good enough to bypass locks and alarms and all they'd done was put the rose on the seat. No note this time. But really, the rose was message enough. He didn't want to think about the implications. He didn't want to dwell on who'd put it there and god --god -- god - -most certainly not on why. It was easy to put roses delivered to one's doorstep in a perfectly mundane box out of mind. Not so easy to shuffle aside one left inside a locked car on a road in the back country that no one other than his teammates should have known he was at.

Ken squeezed in next to Omi, tray brimming with freshly baked croissants and steaming coffee in hand. His jacket was already across the back of the booth, his baseball cap, sporting the logo of his current favorite soccer team turned round backwards over his dark brown hair. Omi's own had a demented smiley face on it. Yohji had bought it for him on a whim one day, claiming that it just fit somehow.

Yohji sat across from them, in his usual working gear. Black tank top, black pants, long black duster which he'd hung from the hook at the corner of the booth. He had the front portion of his shoulder length hair caught back in a tail at the top of his head. A few wavy tendrils snaked down over his forehead.

"What a fucking waste of a night." He complained, reaching for coffee and one of the wrapped croissants. The smell of mouthwateringly fresh pastry, egg and sausage wafted through the air.

"Yeah." Ken agreed, biting into one of his own. "And depressing."

"Depressing?" Omi blinked at Ken questionably. "Why?"

"I swear I saw this girl that looked just like a girl I used to date in high school --"

"You get any from her?" Yohji interjected. Ken lowered his brows and gave Yohji a leisurely byrd with the hand holding his sandwich. Yohji grinned.

"None of your fucking business, perv. It just -- it just sort of made me reminisce about going to school and all and things before --- all this."

"Oh." Omi said, big eyed, both hands cradled around the warm Styrofoam of his coffee cup. "Before us."

"Before a lot of things." Ken agreed, then he glanced at Omi with a serious, concerned look in his dark eyes. "You ever miss it? Having a normal life, I mean. Girlfriends and teenage stuff that every other kid got to live through?"

Omi swallowed, uneasy with the question. "I got to go to highschool -- mostly." He said a little defensively.

"Yeah, but after school instead of going to games and dances and dates and study groups, you got to come home to the wonderful world of espionage and assassination. Yeay for you." Yohji reminded him.

Omi wished they'd change the subject. The two of them staring at him with concern in their eyes was disconcerting. "I didn't mind." He muttered.

"How about not actually graduating? That bother you?" Yohji was a little more blunt than Ken.

"No." It did though. He'd have liked to have gone through the ceremony. He'd have liked to have had that piece of useless paper. It wasn't like he was any more or less ignorant because of its absence. It wasn't like he was going to college. It wasn't like he couldn't have out thought and out performed any professor in any of the fields he might have chosen. He had a mind like a steel trap, as Yohji was fond of saying. He had a memory for things that was phenomenal. He could have gone out into the world and stood among the best and the brightest and flourished -- save for the fact that he was an assassin and that there were people out there who'd just as soon see him dead. And he did mind a little, but he didn't blame anyone. Well, nobody that was alive at any rate. And even if he could have changed it and lived another life, if it had meant that Ken or Yohji or Aya might have died because of something he wasn't there to do -- then he wouldn't have wanted it.

His loyalties were strong and they didn't just die hard, they didn't die at all. "No." He repeated. "I've had compensations."

"Oh, yeah, right." Ken rolled his eyes. "Who could turn down all of this."

He sounded bitter. Omi leaned a little against him, just because the contact was a comfort. Just because he'd want it if he'd dropped into the place that Ken was heading towards. Reminiscence and regret.

"I've got you guys. You're my family. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Ken looked down at him, biting his lip, uncertainty glinting in his eyes. He didn't lean away from Omi's shoulder and arm, he just sort of sat there and sampled the human contact with the vaguely wary air of a deer stepping out into a pasture to graze on forbidden fields. Yohji slumped across from them and frowned, his long arms across the back of the booth.

"Kid, if I was ever as naive as you are sometimes -- I don't think I'd have survived this long."

"Its not naiveté." Omi defended himself. "And its not sentimentality either. Everybody's got to have somebody they call family, even if its not blood. How can we be human if we don't? I don't ever wanna be that cold and that emotionless."

"Oh, speaking of which." Ken said and the door jangled as it opened and Aya came in. Omi frowned at Ken and murmured.

"That's not nice. And its not true."

Ken shrugged.

Aya slipped into the vacant seat next to Yohji and the two of them in their unforgiving black looked rather gothic and threatening against the bright interior of the restaurant. Yohji didn't bother to move his arm. Aya gave him a look, but obviously decided it wasn't worth fighting over.

"So you came up with nada, too?" Ken pushed the fourth cup of coffee across the slick tabletop. Aya reached for it automatically. He wasn't much of a coffee drinker. When he did, surprisingly enough, he tended to obliterate the taste of the coffee with milk and sugar. Aya shook his head once.

"Well that blows." Ken complained.

"It figures." Aya said.

"He's gonna hit somewhere else." Yohji said, sipping at his coffee with the hand that wasn't threatening to brush Aya's collar.

"Yeah, probably someplace where we aren't." Ken agreed.

"Either that or he's out there laughing at the cops." Yohji said.

"He's been holed up somewhere." Aya hadn't touched the coffee, he was staring out the window at the gradually lightening day. A bit of traffic had started polluting the streets. "Not in prison, they'd have found him by the dental records. Maybe institutionalized. Check into it, Omi."

Omi sighed. His sleep time was going to be cut precariously short. There was no help for it. They needed to find this guy before he killed again. They needed to protect all those kids out there that were living happy, normal lives, with happy, normal futures to look forward to.

Aya didn't want the croissant Ken had bought for him. Yohji and Ken vied for it. Aya sat there with his chin on his palm and looked out the window while they bickered, silent, expressionless, his eyes shadowed pools of violet. They took to discussing what had happened -- or not happened -- that night. They talked about what they were going to do next.

"We're hitting the popular spots, the known ones." Yohji mused. "But there's always new places popping up, some new secluded spot that somebody discovers and tells his friends about and becomes the chic place to go. We need to find out about these places."

"Yeah, maybe." Ken agreed. "Me and Omi can hit some of the teen clubs and see what the word is."

And that was that. They went home and crashed. Omi was determined to get a few hours sleep before he hit the computer. It was noon and the building was all shadows and pulled blinds when he finally roused himself. Ken's and Yohji's doors were shut and he imagined them sleeping peacefully behind them. Aya's was open, and the bathroom door shut, which foiled Omi's immediate plans of relieving a protesting bladder. He padded downstairs to the smaller half bath instead of waiting. He got himself a soda and went to cut boot up the computer. He turned on the tv for background noise while he was waiting. He caught the hind end of a mid-day kids show before the newsflash came on. He stood there staring and mouthing silent curses as he listened to the grim faced newscaster make the report of the body of a teenage girl found mutilated in the woods outside of the city. Her boyfriend was still missing. They didn't show a picture. They didn't reveal names. They did mention a place. It wasn't one of the ones they'd been at, thank god for that small absolution from guilt. It was a failure all the same.

Sleep avoided Aya. He went up to his room, shut the door and pulled the blinds and sat there thinking about going downstairs and breaking into a bottle of Yohji's hard liquor to drown the case of nerves that had his hands shaking and his control threatening to show cracks. He shoved the notion away. It was weak and it would only serve to make him the weaker because of it. He put on comfortable clothes, sweat pants and a tank top, and sat cross legged against the headboard of his bed, slowly sharpening his katanna. He ran the whetstone methodically up its length, following each stroke with a sweep of soft cloth. The blade glistened. It was sharp enough to split hairs. He transferred his hands to the grip, testing the familiar weight, letting his thoughts melt away at the singular feel of the leather grip against his palm and the heady weight that pulled at his arm. He thought about going upstairs and practicing. He thought that an hour or so of vigorous workout might bring on elusive sleep. The practical side of him knew that he needed it. Knew that without it he'd not function at his best. The other side, that hidden, deeply denied superstitious portion of his soul -- that part was afraid of sinking into nightmares that he couldn't easily escape. So he sat with the blade across his thighs and stared into darkness, blanking his mind of unwanted thought.

His body was insidious though, in its need for rest. His lashes drifted down of their own accord. His head drooped. Something fluttered in the depths of his subconscious. A sinuous voice that wrapped itself around him like the coils of a snake and caressed his skin with an unwanted touch.

Are you afraid? It taunted. A brush of something against his flesh in the darkness. He couldn't see what it was. He didn't know where he was in the caliginous pitch. He tried to lift an arm to brush it away, but the coils were tight and he was helpless against them. What more is there to fear, but death itself? Or would death be a welcome guest for you? The touch moved down his chest to his belly and now he saw the outline of a rose being dragged across his flesh, its thorns leaving small shallow scratches in their wake. He writhed in a panic to rid himself of it. The cuffs cut into his wrists and blood flowed. He couldn't make himself scream, even though the shadows loomed over him. He couldn't see their faces. He refused to acknowledge what they were doing to him. Couldn't acknowledge it. How afraid are you, Aya? So afraid he couldn't think and couldn't reason out anything but the horrid, unwanted and poisonous invasion of his body. And even that he couldn't comprehend. Not fully.

He gagged and woke up of a sudden with bile threatening to come up his throat and hot water streaking down his cheeks. He put the katanna aside and staggered to his feet, one hand over his mouth. Down the hall to the bathroom and he shut the door and fell to his knees before the toilet, waiting for the expulsion to come. He hadn't eaten enough in the last twelve hours to add much fuel for the fire. A little bile and enough dry heaves to make him weak was all that was accomplished. He couldn't make the nightmare go away this time. It stayed with him in images and sensations that couldn't be chased away. He ran cold water in the sink and splashed it on his face. Stood haunched over it with the wet ends of his hair clinging to his face and dripping down into the sink.

Don't think. Don't think. Don't think of anything but the here and the now and the concerns of the day. Of the current mission which was only one more in a string of such assignments that gave him a reason to go on. He looked up and into the mirror and haunted, lavender eyes stared hollowing back at him. Bruised eyes, lacking in all the self control and discipline that he showed to the world. A face that was porcelain white against the brilliant color his eyes and the richness of his hair. He hated it. He hated the perfect symmetry of his bones and the straight slash of his nose; he hated the swell of his lips that made his face look soft if he didn't consciously hold them taut and thin.

The reflection shattered under the impact of his knuckles before he'd even realized he'd hit the mirror. By then it hardly even mattered, because the destruction of that reflection became a sudden, flaring focus for his scattered thoughts.

There was blood in the sink. It ran in thick streams down his arm, splattering the stark white of the sink. Glass hit the floor at his feet and mingled with the blood in the sink. What was left of his reflection was a multi-faceted, distorted thing. Fitting.

He stared at it in something close to bewilderment until the pain got through the haze of his insanity. He looked down at his lacerated hand stupidly. Reason bled back through the cracks.

He took a long, indrawn breath and turned on the tap with his good hand. Water made the blood run transparent. The gashes were deep and numerous. The white of bone showed itself sickeningly past the flap of flesh on one knuckle. Gingerly he picked out a shard of glass. He grabbed a towel off the door and wrapped it tightly about his hand, stanching the flow of blood. It hurt, but the pain could be overcome. The pain didn't bother him so much as the thought that the hand was his sword hand and that he'd effectively made it useless for the foreseeable future. That if he hoped to do anything with it he'd probably have to get it stitched up and then there'd be questions to answer, which he didn't want to be plagued with.

Omi's voice echoed up the hall outside the bathroom door. The pounding of Omi's feet on the stairs heralded his hasty run up the stairs.

"Hey guys. Guys. Anybody up? He hit last night and we missed him."

Aya shut his eyes and pressed his forehead into the wad of cloth around his hand. There'd be no chance now of slipping out without notice.

A banging on the bathroom door.

"Aya? You still in there? Come look at the news."

He didn't move.

"Geeze, what are you doing? I gotta take a whiz --" Yohji had the door open and was a step into the room with his usual lack of tact before he even realized what he was walking into.

"Watch the glass." Aya said softly. Yohji froze in his tracks, wide eyes taking in everything in a slow sweep.

"What the fuck did you do?"

"Nothing." Aya pushed himself off the wall and pushed his way past Yohji's shirtless, sleep tousled form. Ken was standing out in the hall with shocked, wary eyes. Omi had missed it. Omi was at the head of the stairs waving Ken onward, oblivious to the blood spattered bathroom that Yohji had walked into and that Ken had gotten a good flash of. He saw the blood soaked towel wrapped around Aya's hand though. Got in a whispered, oh my god, as he took a concerned step forward.

Aya didn't want any of it.

"What happened?" Ken put out an arm. Blocking the immediate route between Aya and his room. Aya glared at the obstruction, ready to shove his way past when Yohji caught his shoulder and spun him against the wall.

"Answer him, Goddamnit."

"Leave me the fuck alone." He glared at the both of them, at Omi hovering behind them.

"You don't know how tempting you make that notion." Yohji growled back at him. Ken snorted in disgust, as if he were in complete agreement. He could have shouldered past the both of them and they probably would have let him, they probably would have given him the space he needed if he'd done it coldly enough. Harshly enough. But Yohji's words and Ken's divisive sniff pierced something that was already threatening to break. It hurt in a way that the hand didn't. It hurt in a way that he was usually immune to. That at that exact moment, he didn't have the armor to protect himself against. He turned his gaze away, opening his mouth to think up something biting to say -- and nothing came. He stood there staring at nothing with his lips trembling and his teeth chattering and couldn't do a damn thing to correct the miserable situation.

"Aya, what did you do?" Yohji repeated, as if it weren't perfectly obvious.

Honesty at the moment seemed the only viable option. "I didn't like the reflection."

Yohji stared. Ken blinked in surprise. Omi pushed between them and hesitantly reached for the bloody towel wrapped around Aya's hand. He let him take it.

"We can't patch this, Aya." Omi's voice was all calm control. Omi's fingers were confident and gentle as he turned Aya's hand. "We need to take you to have this sown up, okay?"

"I'll take him." Yohji said. "Go find out what happened last night and call me with the details. Aya go get your damn shoes and a coat."

"Fuck you." He whispered. Yohji canted him a look and the oddest smile from under the fall of his hair.

"This is probably a stupid question, but do you wanna talk about it?"

Yohji had asked that while Aya slumped morosely in the passenger seat of the car on the drive to the emergency room. Predictably enough, he hadn't answered. Predictably enough, he hadn't said a thing the whole drive over there and the whole time they sat in the waiting room to be called. Yohji got a call from Omi halfway through that wait and went outside to listen to what the kid had to say. Aya was gone when he got back in. Presumably they'd taken him to stitch his mangled hand.

The prick. The damned self-righteous, emotionally fucked, irritating little prick. Yohji sat in the stiff backed waiting room chair and fumed. If it wasn't one thing it was another. Aya was a time bomb waiting to be jarred the wrong way and set off. This time he'd fucked himself up.

He didn't like his reflection. Ha. Idiot.

"So, I guess this is gonna mess with your sword hand, huh?" Yohji remarked when Aya had come out, mostly blood free, with a thickly bandaged right hand.

"Guess so." Aya responded flatly and proceeded him to the car.

"You're not so good left handed."

Aya gave him a dark look. He wasn't half bad really, Yohji had seen him practice with it, but it still wasn't his strong one.

"The only bright side to the bastard striking last night is that he probably won't take another victim for a week or so -- if he's true to pattern."

Aya grunted. Aya was staring out the window with a faraway look in his eyes.

"That was a fucking stupid thing to do, you know? You trying to cripple yourself?"

" . . . . . . no."

"No? What then?"


"Bullshit!" It struck Yohji of a sudden as just infuriatingly annoying. He jerked the wheel to the left and skidded to a catty cornered, jolting stop on the side of the road. Aya had his good hand on the dash to keep himself from crashing forward. He was working up an indignant glare for Yohji when Yohji lunged across the gearshift and grabbed him by the lapels of his coat, slamming him backwards into the passenger door.

"You fucking ass! Who do you think you are? Who do you think we are to pull this crap on? How the fuck can we rely on you when you constantly pull this shit?"

"It has nothing to do with you and get your hands off me, Yohji."

"The hell if it doesn't. Goddamned you, Aya. I thought you were pulling yourself together and now this."

Aya tried to knock his wrist aside with his good arm. Yohji growled and tightened his grip, so Aya went a step further and pressed against the tendon in Yohji's wrist hard enough to make him wince and yank the arm back.

"Tell me why."

"Fuck off." The passenger door opened. Aya got out and slammed it shut in Yohji's face.

Yohji took a breath, muttered a few choice curses under his breath and scrambled out of his own side of the car.

"Don't be stupider than you've already been today."

Aya didn't bother to turn, just lifted his left hand with an artfully extended middle finger.

"Fine." Yohji yelled. "Just fine. Like I care."

He got back in and sat there gripping the wheel, steaming. He'd dated women who weren't as flighty and the ones that were, he'd given up on without a second thought. Aya was harder to ignore. He worked with Aya for Christ's sake.

With another curse he turned the ignition. With a squeal of tires he skidded out into the road.

"Where's Aya?" Was the first thing Omi and Ken wanted to know when he got back. He told them.

"Yohji." Omi looked at him, horrified. "You made him walk after just getting out of the emergency room?"

"I didn't make him do anything."

"Oh, Yohji - - -" Omi just didn't look like he believed that. Ken shook his head with a nothing in this life surprises me look. Yohji muttered more curses under his breath and retreated from Omi's accusing looks. Aya didn't come back. Yohji smoked a week's worth of cigarettes waiting for the door to open. He thought about rolling some weed, but decided he wanted all of his focus just in case.

"Maybe we should go looking for him?" Omi suggested, well after dark had fallen and still no Aya.

"Why?" Yohji waved a nonchalant hand, cigarette perched between his fingers. "He can take care of himself."

"Yeah, he does that real well." Ken said glancing towards the ceiling and the bathroom that he and Omi had cleaned up while Yohji and Aya were at the ER.

It was past midnight with a light, chill mist saturating the air when Aya finally did come in out of the cold. Omi was out on the rec room couch and Ken was sprawled in front of the big screen TV on the floor. Yohji couldn't have slept if he'd had a bottle of sleeping pills and a six pack of beer to aid him. He heard the door open and close and silently left his dead to the world comrades to pad up the stairs after Aya.

"Where you been?" He caught up to him at the dark portal to Aya's room. He expected some cold answer that it was none of his business. He didn't get one. Aya paused, with his hand on the knob of his door, damp hair falling over his eyes and making of them shadowed pits.

"Nowhere." Soft admission. He sounded tired. Or wounded. "Just -- nowhere, Yohji. Forget it."

Yohji nodded, willing to accept that tone of weary armistice. "Okay." He moved a step closer, well into Aya's personal space and not caring at the moment. Aya normally wasn't one to tolerate such invasion but he let it slide this time, eyes downcast so that all Yohji really saw was the top of rain dark hair. "You okay? Really?"

A sigh. It was a heartfelt one. A sincere one, but maybe it was exhaustion that drove Aya to honesty. His head dipped forward and Yohji felt the brush of soft, damp air against his chin. The smell of it was overwhelming, like some first, euphoric hit of acid. He couldn't focus on anything but the smell and the feather soft touch and his body's immediate and energetic reaction to both. He had no earthly idea whether Aya had answered. Thank god it was dark enough to cover the bulge in his pants. Aya straightened and retreated into the sanctuary of his room. Yohji stood there reeling, wondering what the fuck had just happened. Embarrassed, disgusted, thrilled.

And Aya hadn't a clue. Hadn't a fucking clue. He probably wouldn't have noticed even if he wasn't wrapped up in his own personal hell. What a miserable, horrible situation. Maybe it was time for that pot after all.



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