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A Price For Madness

by P L Nunn

 

Chapter nine

 

"Aya. Wait a minute, will you? Goddamnit, Aya ---" Yohji misstepped in the shadowed stairwell and almost tumbled head over heels down the steps. Which would have served Aya right, to turn around and find Yohji's broken, twisted corpse at the bottom of the stairs behind him. He would have felt right bloody sorry then, for being such a short tempered prick. Might have even shed a tear.

Yeah. Right.

He took a moment to shake out the toe he'd stumped and wished he'd taken the time to pull on his boots. He tasted Aya in his mouth. The flavor lingered like a blaring, erotic slide show of the act that had enabled it.

God, but Aya was like rich cream poured out over a molded steel frame. All soft and silky on the outside and hard and unforgiving on the in. For a while there he'd been like this amazing, pliable, gasping thing in Yohji's hands. And then he'd snapped out of it. It was like test driving the most incredible Italian sports car, with the softest leather interior, a sound system that could knock you off your feet and all the sweetest amenities a drooling man could dream of, and then getting told that your money was no good and you couldn't buy it. He fucking wanted to buy it!

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!!" He caught up downstairs and got the bathroom door slammed in his face. Yelling through it would have been a mistake. Omi and Ken's rooms were just down the hall and this old building carried sound like a state of the art opera house. He could only thank god that it was still too early for them to be up.

"Aya, come on. Talk at me, man." He leaned his shoulder against the door and pleaded softly through the wood. Pleaded. Him! He never stooped to begging or pleading. That was rule number one in a relationship. Not that the flings he had could be classified as relationships. It had to last more than a night or two, technically, to be termed relationship. But pleading just wasn't his thing. He hated whiners. He had the distinct fear that there was a serious whine in his tone.

"Listen, I think you took what I said wrong. I wasn't like -- accusing you of being a freak or anything --" he paused, running that bit of dubious diplomacy over in his head. He was usually so much glibber than this. Aya had scrambled his brain was what. "I didn't mean to imply anything -- it's just -- it's just --" a bit of righteous frustration welled up and he blurted. "-- you are so fucking messed up and Goddamnit it you don't loosen up and share some of it you're gonna explode one day and its not gonna be pretty and you'd damned well better hope somebody cares enough to pick up the pieces!"

So much for diplomacy. He cursed a little under his breath and put his ear to the door. All he heard was the sound of running water. As if Aya couldn't wait to wash Yohji's stench off him. Shit. What was he doing standing out here begging for a scrap of understanding? He was making a fool of himself. He pressed his back against the door, running both hands through his hair.

"You know, this wasn't easy for me." He said quietly, doubting Aya could even hear him over the tap. "I'm not gay or anything. Really. I guess technically you could call me bi, now. Maybe before too, but I really didn't like it the first time so I don't see how it counts. The point is, I don't know how the hell this thing with you started -- it just sort of --- grew and I couldn't stop it and if we don't hash this out, neither one of us is going to be able to work together and feel right about it. And if we're not comfortable with each other -- if we can't trust each other -- then we're fucked anyway."

The door was quite suddenly snatched open. His support fled, Yohji had to catch at the doorframe to avoid being dumped on his ass. Aya stared at him dispassionately. The mask was back in place with a vengeance. How he could wear it after what they'd just done was beyond Yohji.

"Go to bed, Yohji." Aya ordered flatly.

As if that wasn't what he was trying to do. "What are you going to do?"

Aya stared. Aya had a serious don't fuck with me expression in his eyes. The dangerous one he wore when he was a razor's breadth close to the edge. Yohji hadn't pushed him there. Yohji knew damn well he hadn't. Aya had forced it on himself.

"Where're you gonna sleep? You gonna hide in the rec-room again?"

"I'm not hiding anywhere." A snarl of denial. A burst of emotion that came and went like a distant flash of lightening.

"You're a liar. You're so scared of the notion of him being there that you can't even go in there without coiling up inside."

"You have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not scared of anything."

"You don't hide it that well, baby." Yohji said with a cold smile. Aya's eyes got wide. The blow that flew at Yohji was completely reflexive. A flat out fist towards Yohji's face that was just a little slow after driving himself to exhaustion in the gym all night to solidly connect. Yohji dodged and Aya's knuckles grazed his cheek.

"Don't call me that." Aya hissed at him.

"Why?" Yohji raised a hand to his cheek, figuring he'd have a bruise there tomorrow. "Is that what Shuldy called you?"

Aya took a breath. Another. His eyes had gone large pupiled and wide. Dancing the edge again. Wavering on it. There was either going to be violence in this hall or there was going to be an understanding. Yohji opted for the latter.

"I won't call you it again." He said softly. "I didn't know. I'm sorry."

He diffused it with a heartfelt apology. He diffused Aya, who stood there at a loss, bereft of purpose for a moment.

"I want you to come into my room tonight -- this morning -- whatever. I want you to sleep in my bed. I don't have to be there if you don't want me to be. I can deal with that. Trust me that far, Aya. I swear to God I won't betray you."

Aya focused past him, blankly, wanting so bad to keep the shields up, but the cracks were too deep and the integrity of the whole structure was failing fast. Yohji didn't touch him, just slipped past, walking across the hall and opening the door to his room. He stood there with his back to it and waited, open invitation.

Aya shut his eyes, opened them and walked past him into the dim, cool confines of Yohji's personal sanctuary.

"You want me to go? I can sleep in your room. It doesn't bother me."

"No."

"Okay." He shut the door. Turned the lock behind him and stood there watching Aya's back. Watching Aya stare at the strips of pale light coming in through the blinds.

"It's almost morning." Yohji said softly.

Aya didn't respond to the obvious.

"I haven't been to sleep. Have you?"

"No."

"Tired?"

A tremor passed over Aya's shoulders. He turned his head a little, so that Yohji could see his profile.

"Yes." He drooped, as if in the admission of it, whatever had been keeping him going finally sputtered out. Yohji slipped over to him, snaking his arms about Aya's stomach, resting his chin on his shoulder. He expected tenseness, he expected rejection of the comfort. Aya surprised him. He let out a breath and slumped back into Yohji's embrace. Yohji got them to the bed without ever taking his arms from about Aya. Got them down on it with grace and control gleaned from years of practice. And then did absolutely nothing but lay there, quietly content. He curled his body around Aya, trying to envelope him and Aya let him.

Somewhere along the way they slept ---

--- And woke to the pounding of an insistent fist upon the door.

"Sonuvabitchmotherfucker --" Yohji slurred, jerked rudely into awareness. Aya untangled himself from Yohji's extremities.

"You awake in there, Yohji?" Ken's agitated voice.

"This better be fucking good." Yohji snarled.

"Our boy's back in action. Some kids spotted him last night." Ken called through the door.

"That good enough for you, you dickhead? And Aya's not here. We don't know where the hell he's gone."

Yohji tossed Aya a sidelong glance. Aya flopped back down onto the mattress, pressing a hand over his eyes.

"Yeah - well, he'll turn up. I'll be right down."

Ken grunted assent and padded away, the sound of his sneakers retreating down the hall.

"This is not going to be a problem." Yohji declared, even before he turned about.

Aya gave him an arched brow. Yohji rested a knee on the bed, leaned over so that he was looming over Aya, one hand pressing down into the pillow next to his head, the other on the headboard.

"This is not going to be a problem." He reiterated.

Aya reached out a hand to push him away and started to sit up to get out from under Yohji's presence. Yohji caught the wrist in mid shove and the back of Aya's head with his other hand, swooping down while Aya was caught in the limbo between lying prone and righting himself, to press their lips together. Aya might have opened his lips to complain, or perhaps Yohji was being overly pessimistic -- regardless he gained entry way into the moist depths of Aya's mouth. Aya's lips moved across his, all warm and soft. It was like dissolving into something molten and delicious, like trying to devour the fleshy muscle of Aya's tongue, to suck it down and make it his own, while Aya was trying to do the same thing to him.

"Oh fuck." He whispered, pulling back, out of breath and on a fast track to arousal. It was either stop now or forget about ever getting downstairs. Not that getting downstairs couldn't wait. There was little likelihood of their target doing any damage at -- he glanced at the clock radio -- 2 in the afternoon.

He bent back down, fervent to get another taste of this exhilarating new obsession. Aya slid out from under his arm, running a hand through his hair, straightening his shirt.

"Downstairs." He said.

"Fuck downstairs."

"Yohji --" A little warningly. A mild reminder that business was after all business.

"Yeah, fine." Yohji swung his legs off the bed and padded to the door. "I'm showering first. It can wait that long."

 


The door shut with a soft click and Yohji was gone. Aya stood there in the shadows of Yohji's room and let out a woosh of pent up breath. Of relief maybe that Yohji was gone. Or regret that the light of day had broken into his reprieve. He honestly couldn't separate the emotions. Just like he couldn't separate the violent need to push Yohji -- everyone -- everything that threatened his self-imposed seclusion of the soul away from the desperate desire to let himself tumble into the self-assured arms of his teammate. To let Yohji leach away some of the inky cold blackness and replace it with -- warmth. With searing fire. It was hard not to. It was hard making himself look the lot of them in the eyes everyday dispassionately when sometimes it was all he could do not to scream at them for their safe oblivion and tear at his hair and destroy everything in the house that wasn't nailed down -- or take a knife to his wrists and make it go away in that singularly craven fashion.

Yohji had made it go away last night -- this morning --- it didn't really matter. Yohji had offered him something that no one had ever offered him before. The strength to lean upon mixed with a pleasure than made Aya's mind go blank. Blank. The pleasure had been passive. It needed a taint of pain to drive it home. Yohji hadn't given him everything he needed. Yohji said he wouldn't.

Aya flinched as the thoughts flickered across his mind. Shying from them in as much shame as he'd felt when Yohji had said it. He took a step towards the bed, sagged down on the edge of it as the bitter realization hit that what he really wanted was for the issue to be taken out of his hands. What he really wanted was that safe secure moral ground of being able to verbally say -- this isn't what I want -- and have it ripped out of him regardless. Because that was what he'd been taught in that week under Shuldig's tutelage. And no matter how much he hated the notion of it -- that was what he craved.

Sick. Sick. Sick. He berated himself. He hated himself. He wanted someone to hurt him because in all honesty he couldn't quite get off on hurting himself. He wanted Yohji to do it, because Yohji made him feel ---- safe. He didn't used to think that. Another contradiction. Another stupid, fucked up quandary in his head.

He sat there staring blankly into a corner cluttered with the shadows of odd paraphernalia, until he heard the soft pad of feet heading down the hall towards the stairs. Yohji out of the shower.

He rose, mechanically, took breath to focus, and left the room. To the bathroom himself where he answered the calling of nature. He refused to look at himself in the mirror. He went into the cold, unwelcome confines of his room and changed clothes. Black jeans and a overlarge black scoop-necked sweater. He rummaged in the simple lacquered box on his dresser idly searching for something to catch his fancy. He drew out a antiquated bronze Byzantine cross on a leather thong. It was gothic enough to fit his mood.

He went downstairs, got himself a cup of tea and blithely walked into the rec-room with the usual mask firmly in place.

"Where've you been?" Ken snapped, like some irate house mother who'd come up one short on her roster. Aya ignored him. He ignored Yohji -- pretty much -- and went to look over Omi's shoulder at the computer. He'd hacked into the police computer. The police were seriously on the ball concerning their prey and had taken the report of his sighting at a dance club sincerely. It had actually been some kid's mother, come into the club to drag her errant teenager home that had spotted the guy, remembered the reports of his description and called the cops post-haste. It hadn't hit the newspapers yet. The cops were trying to keep a lid on it. Trying not to create a sensation that would have every thick headed, jack-ass of a teenager who wanted a thrill out combing the local lover's lanes hoping to get a glimpse of the infamous serial killer.

So Edward phillipe was out to hunt again. After running back to his old home with his tail between his legs. Bloodied. The prey had bitten back and it had given him something to think about. He'd had the time to revisit the place that had been witness to his slow path into insanity. Had the chance maybe to do something he hadn't done in a long while -- lament over his sister's grace. Someone had told Aya that it was a place he'd frequented. He couldn't recall who. Now he was back with her memory fresh in his mind.

"Omi?"

Omi tilted cornflower blue eyes up at him quizzically.

"The place his sister was murdered? Does anyone still go there?"

"Wait a sec------ it was a stone quarry. It was closed even before she was killed. So its been abandoned a long time. I don't recall ever hearing anybody talk about it. But that doesn't mean anything."

Aya had the oddest feeling. A fleeting touch of cold that made him clench his hand on the back of Omi's chair. He met Yohji's curious glance over Omi's head.

"He'll go there."

"Why, if the kids don't hang out there anymore?" Ken asked.

"Because it's where she died. He can be closer to her there than he'd ever be at her graveside."

"Oh, that's just creepy." Ken shivered. "You would come up with something like that."

Yes. He would. He felt strangely in touch with Edward Phillipe. Distantly sympathetic for a boy who had lost the sister who had been his only lifeline to sanity. He could understand taking up the dealing of death to repay such a crime.

He laughed, startling the other three to no ends. He was unraveling at the edges when he began to empathize with a madman.

"Tonight. I want to go there tonight." It was all that needed to be said. He really didn't care if they agreed or not.

"So you wanna ride out and scope the place before it gets dark?" Yohji was just a bit too eager to get him alone. Yohji sort of brushed up against him in the kitchen when Omi's back was turned with all the subtle artistry of a man who'd devoted his life to the study of seduction. Hips grazed Aya's as he passed, finger tips trailed along afterwards, lingering almost as an afterthought on the small of Aya's back as Yohji paused to get a coffee cup down from the cabinet. Omi was too oblivious to notice. Ken might have, if he'd been present. Aya felt it in his bones; dug his nails into the tangerine he'd plucked out of the bowl on the counter as his nerve endings buzzed with the sensation of it. As if after one night of intimate contact and he was suddenly more sensitized to Yohji's mere touch than he'd ever been before.

"Not with you." He said, once Omi had wondered out, heading back towards his computer. Yohji leaned in close then, hands on either side of Aya on the countertop. He dipped his head close, the fall of his hair kissing Aya's cheek.

"Why not with me?"

"It's business." Aya removed one of the arms blocking him in, taking his tangerine with him.

"And I'm no good at business? Since When?"

Aya arched a brow, methodically separating the fruit. "You're distracted now."

"Yeah -- now." A little offended, Yohji leaned back against the sink, crossing his arms, narrowing his green eyes. "You're not?"

A rather well-aimed blow, that question. He was. But it wasn't all Yohji.

"No." He lied and Yohji snorted inelegantly. "I'm going with you. Ken's pissed off at you and Omi's busy scoping the net."

"Ken's pissed at me? Why?" Aya honestly hadn't noticed.

Another annoying snort from Yohji. "Because you've been a major bitch since I dragged your ass back from West River Wharf."

Aya stared at him for a moment in silence. Then shrugged and turned his attention back to his brunch. "Do what you like."

"I will, thank you."

 

Omi printed out a map for them, and they rode out in Yohji's car, Aya's in the shop and likely to remain there permanently if they had to pick up and move anytime soon. Which was likely. Yohji was all for saying to hell with this serial killer thing and picking up roots here and now, but Aya and Omi, who knew the exact state of their funds said they needed the bulk of the payment for this job if they were going to comfortably situate themselves in another locale.

Honestly though, he wasn't thinking all that much about moving, or the mission or the old quarry they were going to check out in the light of day -- it was all he could do to get his mind out of the gutter after sitting in the kitchen with an untouched cup of coffee in his hand watching Aya make love to his tangerine. It was one of the few foods Aya would eat with his hands and each and every time a spurt of citrus juice would run down a finger, that finger would go in his mouth, his lips would close around it and it would come out clean and damp and blessed by Aya's tongue. Each individual section of tangerine would get the same treatment, the excess juices sucked off, before he'd sever the succulent thing with his teeth, eat the first half, then the second. Then the fingers would be back in his mouth.

Yohji had sat there, with his dick twitching in the tight confines of his jeans, wondering how in hell he was going to arrange to get Aya to do the same thing to him. Well, minus the biting in half part at any rate.

If he hadn't had to divert a fair amount of his attention to following the instructions on Omi's map, he'd have spent a good deal more of the ride dwelling on how he was next going to maneuver himself into Aya's pants or Aya into his. As it was, the road leading to the old quarry was a brush hidden thing off a little used rural route outside of town. They missed it the first time and had to drive back at a snail's pace to find it the second. They never would have discovered it in the dark. He doubted very seriously, from the damage he was sure was being done to his undercarriage and shocks, that anyone not in possession of an offroad vehicle would venture this passage at night. Or in the day to be quite honest.

He ended up parking about a half mile from the actual quarry and the two of them walked the rest of the way down the narrow track to the abandoned mine. It had once been a rather extensive stone quarrying operation. Huge rusted lumps of forsaken equipment lay overwhelmed by time and creeping vines. The quarry itself was a gargantuan multilevel pit dug out of the side of a cliff. At the bottom of it, quite, quite far down, lay a pool of black, stagnant water. God knew how deep it was. There was a winding, crumbling path cut into the cliff leading down towards the bottom. On the path, one level down, the rusted top of a dilapidated shack could be seen from ground level above. The quarry office maybe. The whole place was just treacherous looking. Nothing romantic about it at all. Not the sort of place Yohji would choose, even at his most desperate to bring a date in the hopes of scoring. It was more depressing than anything else.

"So where was her body found?" Yohji kicked at a stray chunk of slate and it skittered off the side and bounced off the tin roof of the shack and plummeted towards the bottom. He didn't hear the plop as it hit the water below.

"At the bottom of the quarry." Aya said, stepping up to the edge and peering over.

"Well no reason to go down there and see. There's probably snakes and whatnot living in that swamp down there."

Aya ignored him, walking along the edge looking to see if there was an easy way down.

Yohji shook his head in disgust, not even bothering to waste his breath trying to dissuade him. There wasn't really. The entrance to the path leading down had crumbled away almost up to the point where the shack sat precariously perched on a fractured slate base. The easy way down would be to hop down to the roof of the shack and from there to the solid path on the other side of it.

"Man, you couldn't get me down there with a cattle prod." Yohji said, sitting down on the edge, letting his long legs swing over it idly while Aya jumped down to the rooftop. Something gave a little and Yohji's stomach lurched. It was just rust, or maybe nails jarred loose from the rotting timber the tin roof was attached to.

Aya didn't miss a beat. He wondered down the hewn trail, which didn't end up at the bottom until it had wound all the way to the other side of the quarry. He was a tiny dark splotch against the gray stone.

Yohji kept him in his line of sight, but let his attention wonder, reflexively picking out the best spots for cover. There weren't a lot. Not a great amount of woodland close by. The big abandoned pieces of equipment could be used, but --- damn, he didn't relish the idea of snuggling up to whatever wild thing might be nesting within the carcasses in the dark. He was a city boy at heart and had an aversion to snakes and spiders and crawly things that made their home in uncivilized places. He'd take a big, garbage fed rat anyday over a snake.

"Yohji. Give me a hand up." Aya was back up the path and standing directly under him. Easier to grasp Yohji's hand to pull himself up rather than risk the dubious support of the shack. Yohji lay down on his belly and extended an arm; Aya leapt and caught hold of his hand, wrist to wrist and Yohji grimaced as Aya's weight dragged at his shoulder. He pulled him up to the edge with a grunt of effort and from there, Aya managed to get himself up and over. He sat there, next to Yohji, one leg over the side, the other drawn up close to his chest, a thoughtful expression on his face.

"Well?" Yohji asked, a little impatiently.

"He's been here before. Not recently."

Yohji blinked. "How do you know that?"

Aya turned those long violet eyes of his on Yohji, a grim smile twitched momentarily a the corner of his lips. "He's left -- memento's down there."

"What sort of memento's?" Yohji asked carefully, not certain he wanted to know.

"Flowers -- newspaper clippings -- worse things. Souvenirs from his victims."

Yohji could very well imagine. He didn't want the details.

"Well fuck. You were right. How do you know not recently?"

"There's nothing fresh. He'll be back here. He's made it his sanctuary. His holy place in memoriam to her."

They sat there a while longer, Yohji staring contemplatively into the pit of the quarry. "That's a bitch of a path to navigate in the dark. He might not necessarily make it a night pilgrimage. I mean, its not like there are victims coming here for him to hunt."

"No. He comes at night. It happened to her at night."

"Yeah, well all intuition aside, he could be lurking around here right now for all we know."

"That would be convenient." Aya stood, dusting off his hands. "But unlikely. There are dozens of melted candles down there. He comes at night and does whatever it is he does -- whatever ritual he goes through before or after he takes a victim -- on the spot she was killed."

"Its just fucking creepy is all. Shit like this doesn't usually creep me out."

"C'mon. We need to get back and get ready before nightfall."

 

 

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