Shadow Games: 6

Getting out was easy. No locks to bypass, no danger of the unknown to make them hesitate in their path. Aya kept his gun out until they’d gotten out the back door, then returned it to its holster under his coat with a wince of pain that he tried very hard to hide. They walked down the alley towards the side street it intersected, silent and watchful, but there ended up being nothing to be silent and watchful about . . . no one rushed out of the club to pursue them, nothing disturbed the morning save the distant sound of traffic and the humm of a trash truck’s hydraulics as it hefted a dumpsite half a block down the street from the club.

“So what’s the plan?” Yoji finally asked after they’d put a little distance between themselves and the club.

Aya didn’t immediately answer, walking along in silence, arms wrapped loosely around his middle as if he were simply keeping his coat shut to keep out the brisk morning air. Maybe he was. Maybe the shoulder was hurting. Yoji rather thought it was the later case.

“Aya . . .?”

“Quiet. I’m thinking on it.”

“Oh. Sorry. Wouldn’t want to interrupt that, now would I? We walking the whole way back or can we get a cab?”

Aya didn’t quite nod okay, but there was a slight twitch of an eyebrow that Yoji interpreted to mean assent. He flagged down a passing taxi and Aya told the driver the name of his hotel.

“With one stop first.” Yoji leaned forward, arm over the back of the front seat. “Just a quick one.” He related the address of Sister Hisa’s free clinic.

“No.” Aya said immediately.

“Yes.” Yoji retorted.

The driver looked back at them in his rear view mirror with the patience of someone probably used to the eccentricity of passengers.

“The clinic.” Yoji said determinedly. “You can go back to the hotel and I’ll catch up later if you want – – or you can let the sister take a look at your shoulder and give you something for the infection. Either or.”

Aya pressed his lips tight, pissed off, but pragmatic enough to realize that by the time they’d finished arguing about it they’d probably be at the clinic. So he shut up and sat back, giving Yoji what was probably a very practiced cold shoulder.

When they pulled up to the weathered, familiar facade of the clinic Aya stared straight ahead, refusing to budge from his spot.

“You’re not gonna let her look?” Yoji said, disgusted.

“I told you no.”

“Idiot.” Yoji spat. The urge to shake Aya until his teeth rattled was so strong he had to open the door and climb out lest he give in to it. He leaned an elbow of the roof, bending down to stare into the back seat. “Are you allergic to anything?”

“What?” Aya’s eyes flickered briefly to him.

“Medicines, antibiotics – – whatever. I’ll get her to give me something and I’ll bring it back with me.”

Aya honestly looked like he was going to refuse the offer. Vehemently. Like somebody giving a goddamned about him was some high crime.

“You start taking something now, maybe by tonight or tomorrow it’ll kick some of the stiffness out of that shoulder. Make it easier to work.”

It was only a reasonable assumption. Aya’s eyes narrowed and he gave Yoji a disgusted look, as if he suspected some plot against him, with Yoji its devious originator.

“No.” He surprised Yoji by answering.

“No . . . what?”

“I have no allergies. Close the door. I have work to do.”

Yoji grinned humorlessly, stepping back and slamming the cab door shut. The driver pulled off without hesitation, in a hurry to get rid of this fare and find another less contrary one.

Prick. Small wonder Aya was out here working alone. Yoji doubted seriously his people skills extended to playing well with others. Or making friends. At the very least he was doing his damnedest to piss off Yoji. Hell, maybe he wasn’t even trying. Maybe that was just Aya’s personality, which lead a man to wonder just what sort of relationship he’d had with him back before the big void of memory had struck. Part of it he could guess – – the stuff of his dreams – – which the body didn’t quite forget when it got too close. Just how such a thing could come about with Aya being Aya was baffling. It was also uncomfortable to dwell on when he got past the abstract and started getting personal.

Well, no use standing on the sidewalk musing over it. There was no one waiting in the lobby when he entered, but the sister was in the back room with a patient. He could hear the sound of her voice, giving a lecture on something. He went upstairs without sticking his head in to see who or what. The first thing he retrieved was the pack of smokes he’d left on the window cill. It had been a long night and a trying morning and the pull of a few cathartic lungfuls of smoke was too powerful to overcome. He opened the window and lit up, leaning there with his eyes shut as the nicotine hit his system.

Ah, calm. Soothing, blessed calm for a few moments of stolen time. He finished a third of it and stubbed the remaining part out before flicking it into the alley below. It had been a long night and mostly a sleepless one. He’d gotten a little rest in the armchair in Aya’s hotel room, his legs stretched out before him and feet propped on the end of the bed, but it hadn’t come easily. Too damned many distractions. Too damned many things to disturb his thoughts to achieve true ease. The pictures were still grafted into his memory. All those people, young, pretty, faces twisted in pain for the gratification of a twisted few. He’d told Aya he wouldn’t shoot anyone, but honestly, if he came across the man responsible for those atrocities he just might be able to find the will.

And then there had been Aya, propped up on his pillows, head bowed in a sleep he’d tried to fight against, hair an unwitting and haphazard shield over his eyes, upper body bare and smooth save for those few visible scars and even they were mostly healed to faint white lines. He didn’t make it easy to relax either, bringing to many unbidden, not entirely welcome things to mind. Like, if he hadn’t been attracted to any guys since he woke up, then why did he all of a sudden want to shag Aya? Did that make sense? He hadn’t been attracted to any guys, had he? Not that he had a problem admiring a pretty face regardless of sex. He wasn’t that repressed sexually that he couldn’t admit if a guy looked good, he just didn’t follow the notion with detailed battle plans of how to get into their pants. Well, come to think of it, he hadn’t been doing a lot with the female side of the population either. He’d been very, very good since Asuka. Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was some sort of misplaced loyalty, but though he’d had opportunity, he had very seldom taken it since the divorce.

He flopped down on the bed, pressing his fingers into the muscles of shoulder and neck thinking that after the stress of being with Aya, maybe a visit to Sakura Sakai, who ran a respectable therapeutic massage establishment, and who he had on occasion broken the dry spell with, might not be out of order. But as much as he might have wanted, for his own peace of mind, to let his thoughts wonder briefly to lecherous musings about the very talented Miss Sakura, she couldn’t quite hold his attention when vying for Dominance against Aya. Was Aya back at the hotel yet. What was he doing? Was he okay? Was he thinking about ditching Yoji for his lack of professionalism over the whole gun thing? He could just pick up and leave and Yoji would be left in the dark, his only clue to Aya’s whereabouts being a club that Yoji probably couldn’t show his face at again without getting his ass kicked by a set of very irate, very large bouncers.

Loosing track of Aya was not an option. It was right up there with finding the monsters that had been torturing and killing the young women and men in those videos and pictures. Disconcerting that the bearer of bad news had become somehow a higher priority than the bad news itself.

He was picking at the tight weave of the sweater. He hadn’t realized. Aya’s sweater, with the just the faintest hint of Aya’s smell. Maybe that’s what had veered his thoughts towards the other man.

No use sitting here moping over it when there were things to be done. He kicked off his boots and subsequently his clubbing pants, replacing them with a pair of jeans. He put on a black, long sleeved shirt, and pulled the sweater back on over it, the long tail of the shirt trailing out from under it. He grabbed a dark, wool jacket that came down to mid-thigh and stuffed the gun into one of the large, flap covered pockets. He hesitated a moment, then went for his dresser and retrieved a black handled switch blade that he’d taken from a street punk who’d tried to threaten him away from a girl he’d been looking for. He’d broken the kids wrist in the process. He hadn’t meant to, but like the guys in the alley all those months ago when he’d first left Tokyo, instinct had taken over and mercy had gone out the window in the face of life threatening danger.

He slipped the closed blade into his back pocket under shirt and sweater, then gathered the jacket with its extra weight over his arm and went downstairs to see if there was any coffee left from the sister’s morning pot.

There was. It was dark and bitter and the smell alone served to perk him up a little. Sister Hisa was finished with her patient. He could hear her clattering around in the clinic room, cleaning up afterward. Yoji laid the coat over the back of a kitchen chair and ventured in.

“Hey.” He greeted her.

“I didn’t hear you come in last night?” She was in the process of sanitizing the examination table.

Yoji lifted a brow. “That’s because I didn’t, mom. What, were you waiting up for me?”

She pursed her thin lips. “Its not my business.”

“Working on the case.” He said, wanting to stay on her good side this morning, especially if he were to wheedle prescription drugs out of her. “It turns out the guy from the other night, Aya, might know something about it, but, well – – here’s the thing . . .”

She stopped her washdown of the table and looked at him, patient and just a little bit wary. He spilled it. Or most of it. The Aya/wound part at any rate. And she did scowl then, and complained bitterly about the stupidity of letting a wound go sour, Yoji nodded in tacit agreement through the whole speech, then at the end of it said.

“He’s stubborn as hell and I think he maybe thinks if he comes back here he’ll cause you trouble – – what can I do for him?”

“You’re sure you can’t convince him . . .”

“Absolutely sure.”

“Idiot.” She muttered and Yoji wasn’t sure if she were speaking of Aya or himself, but she went to her locked medicine cabinet and took out a big bottle of pills. She tapped out about a dozen or more and put them in a smaller bottle, then wrote by hand her instructions on a lab label that she stuck on the outside of the small container.

“Three times a day. This will last him the rest of the week. If he doesn’t see a doctor that he trusts by the end of that – – its his own damn fault. Hopefully it’ll knock the worst of the infection out of him.”


“Keep the wound clean. Use a solution. Here take this.” She handed him a half empty bottle of Betadine. “Change the bandages twice daily. Other than that, if he refuses medical treatment, that’s all that can be done.”

“Got’cha. Thanks, Sister.”

“I did some very neat stitching on that boy. I’d hate to see it wasted.”

“Yeah, me too. Listen, I probably won’t be back tonight either, so no need to listen out for me.”

She narrowed her eyes and waved a dismissive hand at him. “Go. Go. I’ve got things to do and you never fail to distract me.”

Yoji was inordinately pleased that his fears of Aya skipping out on him were unfounded. He was grinning by the time Aya pulled the door open, at which Aya lifted a brow and sniffed with the vague expression of a man inviting a raving lunatic into his room.

“I got something for you.” Yoji proclaimed, rattling the paper bag with his medical supplies.

Aya eyed it archly, not asking, making a point in not speaking. It had to be an effort of will to maintain, Yoji himself would have had a lot to say in his particular shoes, which only went to show how much exertion went into the simple act of being Aya.

Yoji went into the bathroom, making himself at home, pulling out the Betadine and the new sterile pads and gauze. He looked at Sister Hisa’s instructions on the pill bottle. Take with food. That sounded good.

“Hey,” he called through the open doorway. “You have room service, right?”

Aya didn’t answer right away, so Yoji leaned out the door and stared until Aya lifted his eyes from the laptop that had his attention.


“Great. These need to be taken with food. I’m ordering lunch.” He tossed the bottle to Aya, who had to twist unexpectedly to catch them with his good arm. He winced and glowered, though Yoji rather thought the irritation was at his own fallible body instead of Yoji.

“Where’s the room service menu?”

“What are these?”

“Read the label. Ah, here it is.” Yoji flopped down on the bed, which had been straightened since he’d last been in the room, and looked through the hotel menu options, while Aya turned the bottle of antibiotics suspiciously in his fingers. Of course he’d be suspicious. A man in his line of work had to be if he wanted to survive, whatever exactly that line of work actually was. Hell, what rational person in any walk of life would blindly accept drugs from a stranger without a little hesitation. Of course Yoji wasn’t a stranger, now was he? And if a man trusted you with his life, he’d damn sure ought to trust a bottle of pills . . .

. . . it was like another patch of neon light flared up to dispel another small portion of the darkness had devoured his memory.

Aya had trusted him with his life. He had trusted Aya with his. He knew that of a sudden as surely as he knew that night was going to fall this evening and the sun was going to come up tomorrow to replace it. He stared blindly at the menu, absorbing that concept, accepting it because it wasn’t new information, it just was. And Aya ought to know it, only maybe Aya did know it and it didn’t matter, because Aya being Aya didn’t fundamentally have the same boundaries to his trust as Yoji did. It was simply Aya’s nature to be cautious, just as it was Yoji’s to follow his heart without necessarily checking the lay of the land beforehand.

“You’d think poisoning you would be going a little out of my way when all I had to do was just leave you in that alley after you’d been shot, if I’d really wanted you dead. I’m trying to look out for you, so take the damned pills.”

“Why?” Aya surprised him by that simple query. He’d been expecting something a little more scathing.

“Why . . . what?”

Aya’s eyes were fixed on him, intense, pale lavender in the light coming in from the broad window. Questioning, as if it were a mystery beyond his ken.

“If you don’t remember . . .? Why?”

“Who says I don’t? Besides, maybe I’d do it for anybody. Maybe my streak of humanitarianism just runs that deep. Maybe I’m a masochist.”

Something akin to a smile flickered across Aya’s lips. “I think I believe all of that – – except for the first.”

“What, you don’t think I remember you?”

“Maybe you don’t want to. For the best, probably.”

“Who’s a masochist?” Meeting that violet stare. “What’d you do to me that you think I’d rather forget?”

The ghost smile vanished. Aya turned back to the laptop, controlled movement, stiff back, but he flipped the cap off the pill bottle regardless and shook a tablet out onto his palm, downing it without water.

That had hit the mark. Aya was carrying around guilt over something and that something more than likely was connected to him. When Aya had first some to, after being brought back to the clinic, he’d been shocked to see Yoji. Really shocked, like a man come face to face with a ghost. Then he’d been pissed. Like a man lied to about something close to heart. If they’d been close and Yoji was pretty damn sure they had, then why hadn’t Aya come looking for him? Number one answer – – because he’d thought Yoji was dead. Because whatever had happened to steal Yoji’s memory and put him in the hospital for a month of hard recovery was supposed to have killed him. And Aya had believed it and Aya held guilt over it maybe . . . maybe because he hadn’t wanted to leave him there to deal with . . . to deal with . . . her? . . . alone, but hadn’t had much of a choice in the matter, what with duty calling and all that.

Yoji shuddered, fingers crumpling the edges of the menu, throat gone tight and sore of a sudden as frightening flashes of dark imagery danced chaotically behind his eyes. Pain and betrayal were faint aroma’s at the edge of awareness, but mostly there was the bright flare of explosion, the spark of damaged electronics . . . the overwhelming roar of upheaval, as if the earth were opening up to swallow him whole.

“God. . . .” He mouthed the word so softly for Aya to hear and turn. Took a breath, then another, trying to ease the fingers of stress that had tightened his chest. Sometimes snippets of memory came to him. Mundane, everyday things mostly, never anything important, never anything that really gave him clues to his past. Never anything that made him sick – – really sick, like the sensation of dying.

“Back in a sec.” He said, forcing neutrality into his voice, sliding off the bed and heading for the bathroom and cold water on his face and a place to catch his breath and recover. He stared up at himself in the mirror, wide eyed and pale. That wouldn’t do. He forced a grin. Get over it. Past’s past. Now is what matters. How many times had he told himself that?

Another breath and he was okay. And if he believed it for long enough then he could make it so. A hand through his hair and he walked back into the room as if nothing more substantial had happened than the call of nature. He picked up the menu again and pursued the choices.

“Sooo,” Yoji said, needing to veer the subject matter back to ordinary things, at least for the moment. “What do you want for lunch?”

Aya didn’t have an opinion, so Yoji took it upon himself to order a selection from the extensive room service menu. It wasn’t everyday he got to eat on someone else’s dime and felt no remorse for taking advantage. He had the feeling it was somebody else’s money Aya was using for expenses anyway. And if it wasn’t . . . well, Aya had expensive tastes in clothes and luggage and high tech equipment, so a few meals wouldn’t hurt him.

“So, you gonna tell me what you’re planning for the club tonight, or am I gonna have to figure it out on the fly?”

Aya turned the laptop so Yoji could see the screen from his position on the bed. It looked like he’d pulled up some sort of city plans. Yoji stared blankly at them, then lifted a questioning brow at Aya.

“I go back in from above if I can. You come from below.”

Yoji stared a moment more, fitting the pieces together in his mind and coming up with nasty answers. The hole in the crumbling wall, the sound of running water behind it. The smell.

“The sewer? You want me to go wading through the sewers in the hopes of getting lucky and finding that hole in the wall we saw in the basement?”

“There are city plans of the sewage system. There’s no luck involved. You can set up surveillance there. Its the perfect spot.”

“The perfect spot? Did you smell the stench coming in from that hole? There are rats in the sewer and other creepy shit that I don’t even want to think about crawling down my collar or up my pants leg . . . not to mention sewage. And you want me to trek though all that to stand behind a wall and wait for something to happen. What if it doesn’t happen tonight?”

“There’s always tomorrow?”

“Oh, fuck that. You go in through the sewers.”

“Don’t give me grief, Yoji. You wanted in. This is it.”

“Fuck.” Aya had a point there.

Lunch came, along with two German beers in long neck bottles. Yoji signed for it and took charge of distributing the bounty. Aya refused the beer, which either meant he wasn’t a drinker or he had a rule about imbibing while on the job. Yoji didn’t have an insight on that one, but who was he to complain when it meant he got both beers. Aya picked at his food, less than enthusiastic and probably only eating what he did because the instructions on the antibiotics had said he needed to. While Yoji enjoyed his lunch and his beers on the bed, Aya began sketching out a schematic of the sewer system from the information on the laptop. By the time Yoji had finished and put the dinnerware outside in the hall, Aya had a surprisingly concise map drawn. His lines were unerringly straight without the benefit of a straight edge, and his handwriting small and painfully neat. Anal as hell, Yoji surmised from one look at a map that looked like it had been Xeroxed off a blueprint plan.

“Man, I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler.” Yoji complained. “What are you, part machine?”

Aya sat down on the end of the bed, on the other side of the map from Yoji. “There’s an entrance you can use here.” He pointed to a spot on the map that meant absolutely nothing to Yoji. “Its three blocks from Club ShadowDance.”

“Three blocks? There’s nothing closer?”

“There is. But its too close to the club. I don’t want you rousing suspicion.”

“No, you want me prowling the sewers up to my ass in muck.”

“Hopefully not. But, the water level will be higher than normal from the rain we’ve had.”

“Fuck.” Yoji felt the need for a smoke. “Okay. Once there, how am I going to get through the wall if I need to in a hurry?”

“Its crumbling and old, so it shouldn’t take much. Very low charge explosives.” Aya didn’t seem happy with the notion.

“And you have this?” Yoji tilted his head curiously, wondering what other toys Aya had at his disposal.

“I’d rather you didn’t have to use them, but I’ll give you a run through on how.”

“And hope I don’t blow my ass up?”

“It would be convenient if you didn’t.” Aya agreed dryly.

“So, still mad at me for not being dead?” He had to ask it. No matter the distractions, he couldn’t get it off his mind. He caught Aya thoroughly off his guard and for a moment he sat there, lips parted, expression wavering in a moment of curious vulnerability as he tried to switch gears and keep up with Yoji’s abrupt change in topic.

“No. Not anymore.” He admitted quietly, and his finger which had never moved from its spot on the map, began to trace the route he wanted Yoji to take. “This is the way you need to go. There’s a big drainage pool here that you need to avoid, so you’ll have to . . .”

Yoji had to touch him. Had to make contact with the smooth, flawless shell that contained the inner man. It was a compulsion that was beyond his ability to control, but he wasn’t above prevarication to facilitate it. “Do you still have a fever? You look like you have a fever.” He leaned forward, slipping his palm under the fall of Aya’s hair to his forehead. He was warm. The dry warmth of a body trying to fight off infection. Aya’s eyes widened, shocked by the boldness.

“Are you sure you’re up to this?” The excuse to touch Aya was overshadowed of a sudden by the concern over just how long Aya could keep this up, all things considered.

“I won’t be the one sloshing through cold sewers.” Aya reminded him, a ghost of a tremor in his voice. He hadn’t drawn away from Yoji’s hand. Hadn’t pulled back . . .

“There is that.” Yoji smiled. He let his hand move down the side of Aya’s cheek, fingertips sliding through auburn silk, sensations running down his arm and infecting the whole of his nervous system like wildfire across a bone dry field. When it hit his groin and ignited those fires, he couldn’t ignore the warning signs any longer. This was dangerous. Aya was dangerous. One way or another Aya was pain waiting to happen, either with his silence or the things he made Yoji want to do with just the simple allure of his presence.

Shit. Yoji pulled back, wondering if another bathroom trip was in order. Another bout of cold water. A cold shower wouldn’t hurt . . .

Aya followed Yoji’s retreat, good hand on Yoji’s knee, leaning over his map with very little regard for crumpling, quite unexpectedly pressing his mouth over Yoji’s in a desperate, guileless kiss. Yoji lost his breath, lost his capacity for reason in the sudden overwhelming awareness of Aya. Of his taste, of the texture of his tongue, the softness of his lips, the slick inside of his mouth. Yoji’s head hit the back of the bed with a thump, but he hardly noted the pain, so engrossed in the utter mystification of just how pliant Aya’s mouth was, how utterly sweet. The little ping of warning evaporated like mist devoured by breaking sunshine.

And then it was over, Aya stopping it abruptly, pulling back with his face flushed and his breath a rapid, shaky thing past his lips.

“God . . . I’m an idiot . . .” hoarse whisper. Eyes flicking away from Yoji’s transfixed stare.

“Yeah . . .” Yoji was having a hard time controlling his own breathing. “I’ve thought that about you a few times since we met . . . not just then, though.”

If Aya had been a woman, he’d have had no hesitation, no uncertainties about what to do next. What to say. How to get past that look of contrition that stained Aya’s eyes. It would have been instinct. No wait, it was instinct now, only he was thinking too much and it was clouding the way. He had done this before and even though he couldn’t quite recall the physical reality the stuff of his dreams was evident enough.

He reached out and hooked a finger in the top of Aya’s shirt, keeping him from backing off the edge of the bed, using that fragile hold to pull himself forward, a hand’s breadth away from Aya’s face.

“You caught me off my guard there. I think, maybe we need to do that again, so I can make up my mind – – you know, with a clear head – – whether I liked it or not.”

He closed the distance. An almost chaste meeting of lips, a careful exploration of the shape of Aya’s mouth, the softness of the skin of his cheek when Yoji lifted his hand to Aya’s face. But of course, all those things were familiar, like a haunting sense of deja vu that wouldn’t quite fade away. He pulled Aya’s bottom lip into his mouth, thrilled at the pliant thickness of flesh in his mouth, caught it with his teeth and bit down a little. Aya moaned, shuddering, the fingers that touched Yoji’s leg shaking so badly that it was almost infectious, as if he were cold or afraid . . or overcome by the simple act of human contact. His hand slid up Yoji’s leg, trembling fingers pressing hard into the muscles of his thigh, knuckles brushing the bulge straining against the thick material of Yoji’s jeans. Yoji gasped, letting loose Aya’s lip, opening his mouth and meeting Aya’s tongue mid-way. Aya’s hand steadied and slid up under the tail of his shirt, warm palm connecting with the bare flesh of Yoji’s stomach with an almost electric pulse. Yoji’s skin pimpled, twitching helplessly as Aya ran his hand up, over the lean layer of muscle coating Yoji’s ribs, to his chest, thumb finding a nipple and circling it. Yoji gasped again, sliding backwards, width wise across the head of the bed, pulling Aya with him.

Solid weight across him, but not heavy enough to be stifling. Yoji ran his hands experimentally down Aya’s body. Very little of the curves and softness one equated with a woman’s form, more the long, sleek strength of a predator. Thin skin over firm flesh and hard muscle and sturdy bone. Perfectly formed, nothing out of place, nothing that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing to the eye and the hand and the mouth. Yoji’s hand slid along Aya’s back, under the edge of his shirt, finding the sinfully erotic curve at the small of his back and the swell leading up from it to his ass. His fingers coasted under the lip of Aya’s jeans, pressing into flesh that had to be, arguably, the softest portion of Aya’s body.

If he let his thoughts shut down and his body take control, it was almost like one of the dreams, only solid and heady and excruciatingly clear and not, he discovered beyond his control to influence. He shifted, grunting a little with the effort to roll them onto their sides, putting just enough space between them so that he could get at the zipper on the front of Aya’s shirt and tug it down towards his navel, exposing the pale planes of his chest. He’d seen it before, he’d touched it before, but it hadn’t been the same.

God, but Aya was beautiful and it wasn’t like he hadn’t noticed before, and appreciated it, hell even had a speculative thought or three, he’d just not been quite so willing to take it to heart.

He pushed the shirt off Aya’s shoulders, revealing the edges of tape holding the bandage in place on his back and hesitating at the sight of it, some small bit of rational rearing its ugly head over concern for the wound.

“Don’t . . .” Aya whispered, trying to shrug out of the shirt and not quite managing it what with the stiffness of the one shoulder. Yoji shifted back into motion, helping extract arm from sleeve, leaning forward and pressing his lips to the juncture of Aya’s neck and shoulder afterwards. For a few minutes he’d conveniently forgotten the fever and the wound. Aya wanted him to forget it now, in favor of other things, but the dry heat of Aya’s skin was a reminder that couldn’t be ignored.

“The wound. . . . I don’t want to hurt you . . .”

“You won’t . . .” Aya’s arms curled around his back, hugging him close, holding him tight enough almost to hurt, face pressed hard against Yoji’s shoulder. The tremors were back of a sudden and in force and Yoji didn’t know if it were the wound and its subsequent infection or something else, but regardless there was wetness on his shoulder and the warm touch of Aya’s labored breath and after a moment, Aya’s lips moving up the side of his neck, tongue swiping a path up to that sensitive hollow between Yoji’s jaw and his ear.

Ah . . . God . . . that was the spot. And there when Aya’s hands started moving again, finding all the perfect places, pushing up Yoji’s sweater and shirt to get at the skin underneath. Yoji propped himself on a elbow, shedding them hastily, not even seeing where he flung them in his efforts to get back to Aya’s mouth, pushing him back down into the mattress in his eagerness, hands scraping over fragile skin, fingers pressing hard into flesh and muscle underneath as if only he could get to what was hidden beneath that lovely skin he might make it his own.

Aya arched up against him, driving jeans clad hips into his, hands fumbling with the button of Yoji’s pants, tearing at the zipper and wedging his hand down between denim, the cotton of Yoji’s underwear and overheated flesh. Not as hot as Aya’s fingers. God, they seared Yoji to the core, wrapping around the base of his cock, trapping the length of it between Aya’s palm and Yoji’s belly. It almost hurt, the ache of it, Aya’s slim fingers cupping the tight sack of his balls, gliding back up to trace the big vein along the underside of his penis, then circling it, cradling the head in the net of his hand and working his way back down towards the base. Yoji stopped seeing, stopped caring about anything but the man half trapped under his own weight, the hand on his cock, the flesh under his lips. He couldn’t remember ever being so hard – – hell it didn’t matter that he couldn’t remember quite a few things because this moment was all that really mattered.

His hands slid down the back of Aya’s jeans, forcing their way in, digging into the firm globes of Aya’s ass. Soft, pliable heat. His fingers found the crevice between Aya’s buttocks worked their way deeper between flesh, hitting the juncture between his legs, the slight swelling pucker of his asshole and the smooth flesh between it and his balls. Aya moaned against his mouth in encouragement, bucking up against him, thrusting hard against Yoji’s thigh, hand tightening around Yoji’s cock.

That was all it took. The tight heat of Aya’s fingers around his penis, the allure of where his own hand was, Aya sucking his tongue into his mouth like he wanted to devour it . . . and Yoji’s vision went white. An ocean of sensation rushed in to fill him to capacity and straining at the edges of his being till it burst free, draining out and scouring him clean in the process, leaving him limp and gasping, heart hammering so hard he could hear it inside his head.

He lay there for a second, dizzy, Aya’s hand still inside his pants, gently stroking his now flaccid sex, moist with the evidence of Yoji’s orgasm. God . . he’d come in his pants. Embarrassing . . . mortifying . . .

Aya pulled him down by the hair, fastening his mouth to Yoji’s, pulling his hand out of Yoji’s pants and searching for Yoji’s wrist, capturing it and pulling it around to his stomach.

“Yoji . . . put your hand . . .” His voice was hoarse, ragged in its desperation. Okay. Okay. Turnabout was more than fair play. Turnabout was essential and becoming, as he worked at the zipper of Aya’s pants, grazing the solidity of Aya’s cock, absolutely nessassary. He pushed at the top of Aya’s jeans, not quite satisfied with the constriction they offered, damn well wishing his own had been shed before hand. Aya lifted his hips obligingly, wriggling a little to help Yoji work his jeans down to mid-thigh. Aya’s cock bobbed up, blushing pink at the head, burning to the touch, throbbing with its own rapid heartbeat when Yoji wrapped his fingers around it. Beautiful. Mystifying that it wasn’t his and yet the feel of it was so achingly wonderful. That he wanted to do nothing so much as feel the texture of it and the weight and shape. He bent his head, skimming a hand up Aya’s taut stomach, over lean, hard muscle that twitched under his touch. He pressed a kiss to the flesh above Aya’s navel, then another below it and heard the timber of Aya’s breathing change as he brushed the soft line of slightly curling hair at the very base of Aya’s belly

In his gut, Yoji knew how soft the head would be. How silken to the touch of his lips, how slick with precum, how the shape was made to be fitted so perfectly inside the cavity of his mouth. Aya cried out – – stifled it with a moan and clutched at Yoji’s hair. His hips came off the bed, helplessly thrusting upwards and Yoji let him slide deeper into his mouth, let his teeth graze over the skin of the shaft and knew deep down that Aya would like that. That he would shudder uncontrollably if he bit down just a little, catching the skin of the head between his teeth, threatening pain but not acting on it.

Aya was shuddering again, tossing his head, curling his fingers so hard in Yoji’s hair that it hurt. Yoji swallowed him deeper, gagging a little as the blunt tip of flesh hit the back of his throat, pulling back with his lips pressed tight around it, then swallowing it again, until Aya cried out again, this time unable to stop it, and thrust up against Yoji’s mouth, spilling liquid warmth against the back of his throat.

He pulled back, letting Aya’s much smaller, much softer cock, slip out of his lips, wiping the back of his mouth with a curious sense of . . . accomplishment. This was not particularly foreign. He’d dreamed about doing this, or having this done, enough times that the actual act was almost familiar. The taste was familiar, just like Aya’s scent and the feel of his skin. He laid his cheek against Aya’s stomach, feeling the gradually slowing intake of his breath. Aya’s fingers lingered in his hair, but then, after a moment carefully extracted themselves and Yoji felt the slight tensing of muscles under him. Maybe it was the silence that disturbed Aya. Or maybe just the return of rational thought. Was he regretting it already? Embarrassed over his lack of control? Probably. Or did he think Yoji might regret . . .?

“Hey . . . stop that.” Yoji shifted, snaking his way back up Aya’s side, propping himself up on an elbow so he could look down at Aya’s pale face. Aya’s eyes darted away, distressed and trying to cover it.

“It’s okay.” Yoji murmured, brushing an expanse of flat chest that was every bit as appealing to him as a womanly mounded one.

“I shouldn’t have . . . Stupid and wrong.”

“Wrong? How so? I’m not wearing a ring anymore,” he waggled a ring free finger in front of Aya’s face. “And none of my girlfriend’s will mind.” He grinned, beginning to feel that after-sex sense of smug satisfaction.

“You have girlfriends?”

Was Yoji imagining things or had Aya’s eyes gone just a little narrow.

“What? Jealous?”

Aya’s mouth opened. Closed and very clear affront made his eyes glitter. “That would be something of a lost cause, wouldn’t it?” he snapped and Yoji had to blink in surprise at the vehemence of his tone. He felt of a sudden out of his depth and floundering in something that Aya was all too familiar with and that he most certainly was not.

“I was kidding.” He settled down, sliding his arm under Aya’s stiff shoulders, pressing his face into the curve of Aya’s neck. “I don’t have girlfriends or girlfriend for that matter. Just a few prostitutes, crack whores, you know, that I see on occasion.”

Aya made an inarticulate sound and tried to roll away, but he was at a disadvantage, what with Yoji’s arm curled around his neck and his pants halfway down his thighs. Yoji chuckled, nuzzling his neck, entranced by the taste of Aya’s skin.

“You’re so easy.” He whispered and Aya went still, catching on finally to the joke.

“No. I’m not.” He said, after a few shaky breaths.

“Must be just me, then, huh?” Yoji murmured, sucking Aya’s earlobe.

“Must be. . .” Aya gasped and Yoji shivered with a sudden rush of pleasure that had nothing to do with the physical and everything to do with Aya’s words.

So Aya settled down, reassured or kidded into convincing himself that he hadn’t just made the biggest mistake of his life, that he hadn’t done Yoji some grave injustice and that the mission wasn’t going to go down in flames because of his indiscretion. Handling Aya was a damned prickly job, Yoji thought, but not without its benefits. Like lying there afterward, basking in the early afternoon sun coming in through the open curtains, after shedding his self-dampened jeans and shorts and peeling Aya the rest of the way out of his. That was just nice, lying with someone like that, bodies warm and satisfied, comfortable in a way that he hadn’t been since the early months of his marriage with Asuka.

Aya drowsed, pulled there by the fever and his bodies need to recuperate after a busy morning. Yoji lay for a long while, content and complacent, trying not to think about what they were going to do tonight. Trying not to think about the victims and the face in the photographs that might have been one of his missing kids. God, he was going to have to tell the parents something. He dreaded that. It was bad enough telling somebody’s loved ones that he’d had no success in finding a trace . . . . but telling them that the person they’d hired him to find was dead. That shook him to the core.

At least if he’d helped stop the men that had done it, he could go to them with that one small scrap of justice to back the pain. But that thought brought to mind another problem. Once those men were stopped, Aya would leave. He had no reason to stay, did he? He would up and disappear and that would be that and . . . damn, but Yoji really didn’t want to think about it. It hurt. It hurt in a way that it damned well shouldn’t have considering that he’d known the guy for a few days, what they’d done this afternoon notwithstanding.

But no, that wasn’t right. He’d known him a lot longer than that, he just didn’t remember it other than ghostly moments of deja’vu. Aya held the keys to his past and Aya leaving with that past unexplored . . . it would be devastating. It would drive Yoji directly out of his skull with frustration. It made his skin itch now. Or maybe that was the dried cum at his loins. Maybe a nice hot shower would clear his head.

He gently slid his arm out from under Aya’s head, rousing nothing more than a murmur and a shifting of position as Aya rolled into the warm indentation Yoji had left. Yoji smiled, entranced by the pale profile and the way Aya brought his hand up, wrist bent, against his chin, the curve of his back, the way his hair slid away from his ear, baring the delicate shell of cartilage . . . God, get a grip. He felt like a sixteen year old in the throes of first love. He really, really needed that shower.

He took his time about it, scrubbing hair and body, then leaning against the shower stall and letting the hot water soothe his body. He felt good afterwards and energized and ready to go back out there and maybe slip back into bed next to Aya without waking him. They had hours yet to pass before it was time to venture back out to ShadowDance.

He had mostly towel dried his hair when there was a knocking at the door leading to the hall. He frowned, wondering if Aya maybe had woken and called for room service while he’d been showering. He wrapped the towel he’d been using around his hips and opened the bathroom door. Aya was still on the bed, but slowly rousing at the insistent rapping on the door. His eyes were sleep dazed, So Yoji figured whoever was at the door Aya hadn’t called them. He put his hand on the knob, planning on opening the door just enough to see whoever was out there wanted.

“Yoji . . . wait . . .” Aya hissed, but the door was cracked and Yoji caught a glimpse of dark hair and dark eyes and attire most certainly not in line with hotel staff, before the door was shoved open, almost hitting him in the face with the force of it. He stumbled back a step, angry at the impertinence, beginning to worry that he’d made a terrible miscalculation if Aya’s desperate scramble off the bed was any indication. But Aya stopped a step away from it, bed sheets clutched around his chest, eyes wide in consternation.

Yoji glared at the intruder and the intruder stared in utter, horrified shock at him. The kid – – well, maybe not so much a kid at second glance, just youthful looking – – opened his mouth. Shut it. Opened it again and whispered.


At which Yoji lifted a surprised brow and cast a questioning glance at Aya who had gone quite snow white.

“Aya, you bastard!!” The dark haired intruder suddenly lunged past Yoji towards Aya arm arcing out in a powerful roundhouse right that caught Aya square across the jaw and sent him tumbling backwards in a flutter of loose sheets and long limbs. He hit the bed and rebounded, sprawling against the side of it, dazed.

“Hey . . ” Yoji snarled, protective instincts gearing up for retaliation. He took a step forward, fists clenched, even as the intruder whirled and came at him. What threw Yoji were the tears in the young man’s eyes. Tears that spilled over and trailed down flushed cheeks. Yoji blinked and staggered back a step as he got a palm shoved against his shoulder, and then quite unexpectedly arms wrapped around his torso as the newcomer grasped him in a hug that stole a good portion of his breath.

“You’re alive. You’re frickin’ alive. Why didn’t you tell us?”

Well, maybe this wasn’t an enemy at all. Wasn’t this an interesting turn of events.