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19 May 2007 @ 06:58 pm
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Tuesday August 22, 2006

Go see Thorsten. Sure, go see him. Go see his green hair and his no underpants and his art. Go and see him and ask him how he was doing and if he was really a psychopathic mind reader. Because that would go over well, and because Omi would just smile and nod and let him go without an issue. There would be no breach of trust, no real problems to be faced when he told Omi that he had gone to see Thorsten and found out that he really was Schuldig.

Found out that Schuldig had somehow become mentally impaired and was now stupid, careless and easily distracted by men in tight pants.

What did he gain from this? (What was he gaining by not going? Anger. Frustration, enough loss of control to blow an innocent light fixture all to hell, and cut open Ken's face. Enough loss of judgment to be throwing around vegetative state patients' belongings in a hospital, right in front of cameras and hallways full of witnesses.)

Worked the morning in the shop--Ken was supposed to be in there with Youji, but Ken had a headache still. (Another one, that wasn't normal, but given the circumstances--) Omi had to go to school and Nagi was available. And he didn't mind, would have made the offer himself if he hadn't been asked first.

(Except now they've seen you lose control and how are they supposed to handle that. What are they thinking happened between you and Schuldig, exactly? All your protesting about his attraction to Youji and your claims that he was too smart. Seems suspicious. Seems almost jealous.)

It wasn't a slow day at the shop, either. If there had been mercy in the world, it would have been a slow day. A few customers, some fan girls in the morning, and quiet until the afternoon when the school let out again and they had to explain to eighteen different heartbroken girls why Ken wasn't there to giggle at. But the world had no mercy and by the time that Omi got there after his class at noon; they were behind on deliveries and still trying to catch up new orders despite having not gotten another customer since ten.


Horrible. Fucking. Day.

Hot and sticky and miserable and he'd flooded the moped's engine this morning and had to take the subway, during rush hour, squished between a sweaty salary man who used way too much cologne and a junior high school girl with a creepy smile. That she used on him. Repeatedly.

Should have stayed in bed, Tsukiyono.

And he should have, what with the lack of sleep lately because Weiss could not possibly ever have a normal fucking day. It was always girls going into comas or former enemies rising from the dead, dying their hair green and sleeping with an otherwise straight teammate, sickos stealing people's eyeballs, or the aforementioned coma-ed girl trying to escape her hospital bed while still coma-ed.

And coming home to a telekinetically blown-out light bulb and Ken with his face cut open. That was icing on the cake, really.

Nagi was alone in the flower shop when Omi got home, Momoe minding the outside displays and Youji just pulling in with the delivery truck. Omi left them in the heat to escape into the store, marvelously air conditioned and suspiciously free of customers.

He tossed his bag into the storeroom and grabbed his apron, slung it around his neck before reaching below the counter for the plate of onigiri habitually left there when lunch breaks seemed unlikely. Held one in his mouth while tying the apron and reading over the delivery schedule.

Dammit, the day couldn't get any better. And Nagi, still there behind the counter and staring straight ahead with enough force and tension to bend steel. He hadn't had a good day either.



Nagi looked over at Omi, stared at him absently for a moment, seeing him in some part of his mind. Tired, darkness under his eyes, stiffness to his shoulders, food sticking out of his mouth and a somewhat disbelieving depressed stare at the delivery list.

(And this isn't going to make his day any better.)

"Omi," Nagi said, quietly. Had spent too long thinking about this, and obsessions were dangerous things. Ignoring it, pretending that it wasn't as heavy a weight on his back as it was--and that wasn't fooling anyone. Not after last night, there had to be a way to resolve this and Youji had handed it to him on a little slip of a paper with his suggestion to disobey a direct order. "I'm going to see Thorsten Lange."



For a moment, Omi pretended he hadn't heard that. And in the meantime, wondered if he could continue pretending until eventually, after some undetermined time, this conversation would no longer exist. Thirty seconds later, though, he realized he would actually have to address that statement.

It was a statement, after all, all in six-foot neon letters the unspoken sentence of "I am now going to disobey you, thanks for your time." What was Omi going to do about it, anyway? Stop him? Tell him no? Sweep up his own exploded head off the shop floor afterwards?

But, his mind helpfully supplied, you never said Nagi couldn't go see him, just that he couldn't go alone.

And there was the solution, right there, backing the shop door open with an armload of empty delivery crates. Could save himself from both an untimely telekinetic death and from the shame of a kohai's disobedience all in one fell swoop.

"Okay," he said around the edges of the rice in his mouth, finally biting off the end of the onigiri and taking it in hand. "Take Youji with you."


Nagi wasn't sure what he expected. Or had not expected anything at all, really. It wasn't a question, and Omi hadn't treated it like one. He hadn't liked it--saw that in his eyes, as he worked over the problem--and he'd found a nice and easy way around the core of the problem.

He nodded; yes, that was fine. Might be interesting to see what Youji was going to do, or what Thorsten would. "Youji and I are off tomorrow in the afternoon, we'll go then." Then he turned his attention back to the arrangement he had been preparing to start.





Place: Thorsten's Studio in Ginza
Date: Wednesday August 23, 2006

In Which Youji Confesses His Deep Abiding Love for his Sock.Collapse )
 
 
14 April 2007 @ 01:50 am
Place: Hiroo Metropolitan Hospital, Floor Three
Date: Monday, August 21, 2006

Schuldig can play this girl like a finger puppet.Collapse )
 
 
10 April 2007 @ 03:24 am
Place: Shibuya Ward
Date: Sunday, August 20, 2006

Youji thought she was too pretty for him.Collapse )
 
 
09 April 2007 @ 07:15 pm
Place: Thorsten’s Studio/Apartment in Ginza
Date: Sunday August 20th


Hadn’t wanted to get up, and laying down in his shower, on his belly, hands resting on his crossed arms while the water beat down on his back—still didn’t want to be awake. Being awake meant dealing with—

(Your whoredom?)

--the damn cat who seemed far too amused by this turn of events. And smug, like he had some paw in this. Not that far fetched, really, consider he was having a conversation with the cat, to think the cat could just sneak himself right into Thorsten’s brain and play with it.

“ ‘m not a whore,” Thorsten mumbled back. “I’m a slut; if I was a whore I’d be rich.”

(Might want to look into a career change, then. This art thing doesn’t seem to be paying off.) Damn cat was curled up on his clothes again, that tip of his tail flicking back and forth lazily. Head down, eyes all but closed, watching him shower. (How’d the straight boy turn out—try to grab your tits?)

“Hard to do considering I don’t have any.” Didn’t want to argue with the damn furball. Didn’t want to think about the straight boy and his unending bizarreness. (Couldn’t be sure that he was exactly as straight as he claimed to be either. Didn’t seem to have too much of a problem with the fucking aside from a marked disinterest cock.) Just wanted to watch the water pooling in front of his arms, wondering how much would have to gather there for him to drown himself.

(And why exactly did you go for the straight boy? Got tired of all the gay boys and felt the need for a change? Going to go for a girl next?)

Thorsten lifted his head, felt the water running down against his chest, along the sides of his belly, draining away from the pool that had been building up. “Maybe I’ll go the furry route and develop a taste for cute kitty ass.”

(You shouted his name. Was he that good? He seemed to lack a certain finesse of technique.)

His name? Hadn’t shouted his name—didn’t remember doing it. Dragged him to the bedroom, kissed him, stripped him, sucked him, pulled him on the bed, kissed him more—turned over—fucked—strange that.

(My mistake.)

Kudo. Remembered that. Hadn’t shouted it, groaned it, somewhere near the end, half biting his own hand at the time—had wanted to shout it, didn’t know why. Didn’t even know who’s name it was.

(Gets sad when you can’t even remember who belongs to the name you shout when you’re getting fucked)

“Well you know, so many names to remember. Maybe I should just pick one and stick with it.” Lowered his head back down, chin blocking the flow of the water leaking out from under his arms, going back to watching it pool up.

(Maybe you should stop being an indiscriminate whore.)

“Maybe you should remember you’re just a fucking cat!” Sitting up now, wet hair dragging on his shoulders, water going over the side of the tube and the cat was just sitting there, cool and unconcerned as before. Licked his little nose.

(Maybe you should go practice your secondary profession and actually paint something.) Then the cat jumped down, not even a passing glare and was out of the door.
 
 
 
 
10 March 2007 @ 10:19 pm
Place: Thorsten's Studio/Apartment
Date: Saturday, August 19, 2006-->Sunday, August 20, 2006

One hell of a hot rideCollapse )
 
 
10 March 2007 @ 08:00 pm
Place: Koneko no Sumu ie
Date: Saturday, August 19, 2006

She appeared outside the shop just after four, which was half an hour later than Omi had told her to come, but she had always been a beat or two off. He saw her through the windows, juggling with two bankers boxes and trying to offer Momoe a bow, hair sliding into her face and hands too full to push it back. Awkward at life, that one was, but more honest than ninety percent of the people in this world.

Omi was wrapping up a bouquet of bluebells for a middle-aged lady with a strange tilt of sadness to her smile. He decided to forget to charge her for the ribbon and saw her off at the same time Adachi Hideko managed to haul her burden inside. She smiled, and he had to tilt his head back to look her in the face.

If Yohji weren't still recovering, he would be at the door in an instant, making her blush.

"Adachi-san." Omi smiled at her in greeting--the pleasant but distant customer smile, more out of habit at this time of day than anything else. "Is this everything?"

"No." She sounded defeated, made an odd, embarrassed noise when he took one of the boxes from her. "I just..." She trailed off momentarily, all but dragging her feet, following Omi back to set the boxes by the back door. Paused there, biting her lip and looking sideways at a display of camellias. "Aya... She'll get better, right? I can't just pack up all of her stuff like she's never coming back."

"Well..." And how the hell do you answer that, Tsukiyono? You smile, you nod, you say something sweet and reassuring, tell her what she wants to hear because that will make her feel better. Because that's what Omi the Florist does. Because that's what Omi the Assassin does when his target's blind girlfriend comes downstairs after the kill to ask what's going on.

Just smile and nod.

"The doctors say she's healthy." Omi's face was like a sunbeam, bright and warm and reassuring. "And she's woken up before, I don't think there's anything to worry about."

"Oh." Just that, a relaxation of Hideko's shoulders, a release of tension from her eyebrows. If even the sun declared that all was well, then it must be true. "I'm sorry. It's... the university is assigning me a new roommate. It's been kind of a lousy day." She hovered a bit, half-watching Omi return to the counter and looking over the camellias some more. Finally bit her lip a bit and blurted out, "Tomoe-san called the other day."

Tomoe-san. Omi blinked for a full thirty seconds, wondering why he ought to know the name before it struck him, almost dropping the inventory clipboard in his hands.

Sakura.

"Really? I didn't know Aya-san kept in touch with her." True, the last Omi had seen or heard of Tomoe Sakura was her stilted sobs from outside his hospital room, watching Yohji's awkward posture leaning against the doorframe. Voice gentle and husky and oh-so-tired of being the one to tell everybody, telling her that her knight in shining armor was dead. Telling her that her schoolgirl dreams were over--not that they'd had any merit to begin with.

"She's going to school in Hokkaido." Hideko rubbed one finger along the edge of the counter, nervous habit, she'd end up leaving a groove in the wood the more she came to the store. "I told her--I hope that was okay. She was pretty upset, she said she wished she could come back here and see you all, go visit her. Um..."

Omi was listening to her through a kind of haze, not really processing the words. Maybe he'd been out in the sun too long, running, yesterday. Didn't realize he'd drifted away until he noticed her, waiting for his attention. "Sorry. What was that?"

"I was wondering... is there any chance I could go visit her? I won't be any trouble. Promise."

She looked so eager--lonely. All wide eyes and the corners of her mouth turned down in that way, looked like she had lost her best friend. Had lost her best friend, for all intents and purposes, and in all honesty--

There was no way of knowing if or when Aya would ever come back.

"Here." Omi pulled one of the Koneko's business cards out of the little holder next to the cash register, pulled the pen off the clipboard and scribbled on the back. Sketchy kana, not enough room for an explanation along with the address, but his signature on the card ought to be enough for whatever security Kritiker might have around. "The address and room number. If anyone asks questions just show them this."

Hideko blinked a little at that, just for a second, wondering, then took the card and smiled, still shy but genuinely happy. "Thank you. Um... sorry, I'll be late for class. It's good to see you again, though. Tell the others I said hi."

"Sure." He watched her leave, still with that fog hanging over his thoughts and hearing, waiting until she had told Momoe goodbye and hurried off down the sidewalk before setting the inventory aside and shuffling back to the door. Opening it, leaning into the storeroom until Ken noticed and looked up from the refrigerated orchids he was counting.

"Could you take over for a while? I need to put some things away."

~ * ~

The closet was stuffed into a corner of the basement between the door that lead to the garage stairs and an old armchair that had never been taken up those stairs to be dumped. The task, as Omi recalled, had been assigned to Yohji some years ago, as it was his chair that he had drug home from some drinking-buddy's moving giveaway, and somewhere along the line had started popping springs and losing stuffing. Ken had taken issue with it around the time that Yohji stole his favorite floor cushion to pad the springs sticking out of the seat, and they still argued over it and the fact that Yohji had yet to haul it off as a matter of course.

Nagi's opinion was that they were both idiots, of course, but he had his own chair off in another corner and made duly sure that no one else dared to sit in it. Ever.

Omi set the boxes down in the closet's doorway and reached up to pull the light cord on, wrinkling his nose at the bit of dust kicking into the air. Boxes. Some packed carefully, some stuffed haphazardly. Books stacked neatly on one shelf. A pile of CD's in beaten jewel cases. Trinkets, knickknacks. Things that had been set and stored in various places around Aya's room, things, he'd said once--at that street fair in Roppongi, just in passing, just because they were there that day scouting a location. He'd said, "She would like this." Omi figured he had all kinds of little treasures like that, bought in passing and squirreled away, only to be found later by his teammates packing up his room.

That was a bad day--worse than any of the days in the hospital, Omi thought, worse than watching Ken with those machines attached to him or listening to Yohji's voice, Yohji bearing all the bad news. Worse than Nagi and his dead look and grudging acceptance. Worse than all of that was sitting on that carpet, finding a necklace in a box under Aya's bed. Finding manga hidden in his closet that he didn't want them to know he read. Packing everything away like erasing a picture one line at a time. Finding and forgetting, Yohji standing in the middle of the room like he'd taken a wrong turn in Yokohama and couldn't remember where he was going to begin with.

Ken behind him, methodically folding clothes and packing them away in a suitcase that had always been by Aya's door, like he had always intended to up and leave one day. Any day, with or without notice.

Omi rubbed his forehead, looking and turning and looking more on the pretense of finding a suitable spot for these new boxes, new pieces of someone else's life, but really, he was just lingering. On the shelf to his right--orange sweater, folded, dust collecting on the collar and why wasn't that in a box? Some memory of that week after they were all home, someone finding it in the laundry room. Sending someone to put it in the closet with everything else and please, don't tell Aya-san. Omi shifted to the side, still with that fog over him and reached out, almost picked it up--

Knock it off, Tsukiyono. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

He bent down, picked up the boxes one at a time and pushed them into a space near the back. White cardboard amongst brown, would be hard to miss when or if they were needed again. When, or if.

Omi caught himself looking at the sweater again, standing and staring and allowed it, just for a second, one last time. Then he turned off the light and walked out, closing the door behind him.
 
 
09 March 2007 @ 12:13 am
Place: Youji Kudou's apartment, above the Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Friday August 18, 2006


He didn't hear the storm blow in.

Ken had known it was going to rain the minute he stepped from the car, gazing up at the sky, clogging up with dirty, heavy clouds, clouds like soiled soap suds. Blame the unnatural stillness, the cloying city heat, the strange, trapped quality to the air: the city seemed almost to hold its breath, expectant. Ken had sighed, and raked the hair from his eyes, and bent to shoulder Youji's unconscious weight. It wasn't even like this was anything new to him.

He was flushed and breathless by the time he dragged Youji into his room and manhandled him onto the bed. (Too many stairs, god damn it: why couldn't Kritiker have sprung for a building with an elevator? Still, it could have been worse. It could always have been worse.) His stained, blood-smeared tee-shirt clung, with disturbing intimacy, to the contours of his chest; hanks of dark, damp hair were plastered against his brow. Wanted to shower so badly he felt it like a craving, like an insatiable itch - a positive need to be clean.

(To be calm and civilized and normal. To be, not Siberian, wild-eyed and feral, blood smeared across his skin and staining his clothes, but just Ken.)

Wanted to shower; wanted to sleep. Wanted more than anything to just forget. It would be the easiest thing in the world, to just walk out and leave Youji to Omi. It wasn't like he could help, or indeed do anything more than get underfoot, but - it worried him to realize that he simply didn't want to leave. Couldn't.

Ken-kun, Omi had said after a few uncomfortable minutes, I think you need a wash.

The rain might have started while he stood under the shower, eyes closed and head tilted back, his mind a careful blank, or perhaps while he lay on his back on the bed, his fingers tucked behind his head and laced in his damp hair. The clothes he had changed into - a loose tee-shirt, a pair of worn jeans - weren't all that different from his mission clothes, but they weren't his mission clothes: the distinction, Ken felt, was an important one. It seemed strange to be lying here, exhausted yet wakeful and convinced he'd never manage to find rest again, so early in the day. Too early for this, and far too early to want to sleep.

(The usual post-mission blues.)

Funny how stupid such thoughts seemed, lying here with eyes open in the middle of the afternoon. Some thoughts (to Ken's mind, anyway) were night thoughts; they simply didn't make sense any time other than under cover of darkness. Nobody worried about the monsters under the bed in the middle of the day.

Ken fell asleep anyway, and faster than usual. He always did.

Woke abruptly, dragged from a deep, dreamless, exhausted sleep by the cold, and the sound of wind-blown rain pattering on his recklessly open windows, and night drawing in, and the uncomfortable awareness he'd slept for far longer than he had intended. Stood, stretched, slipped on his shoes and hurried down to Youji's apartment, pushing open the door just a fraction and slipping quietly inside. Omi raised his head as Ken pushed the door to behind him, giving him a small, apologetic smile. The click of the latch, the rattle of raindrops on glass were the only sounds.

Omi got to his feet, stretching slightly, working out a crick in his back. Drew back the chair. Returned Ken's smile. He still looked tired.

(Ken really hoped they weren't going to make a habit of taking missions in the middle of the day. Running unscheduled marathons through crowded city streets and hiding out in optometrists' basements were bad enough without, one quick change later, immediately running out again to get to a programming class the way Omi had done...)

"How's Youji?" He asked, and suspected he spoke only to fill the silence.
Omi stepped aside slightly, glancing briefly back down at the bed, as if inviting Ken to look for himself. ""He's doing fine," he said - his voice flat and calm and clinical as a nurse's. "His pulse is good, breathing is normal. He'll probably wake up soon."
"That's good." Ken felt himself relax, heard himself exhaling audibly and God almighty, he hadn't even realized he was tense until the moment that tension broke. "So, um..."
He turned, glancing back over his shoulder - Omi was already heading for the door. "I need to get the mission report written," he was saying. (Well, yes, if he wanted to get to bed much before one in the morning.) "Come and get me, if there's a problem."

And then he was out the door and gone.

Ken just stood for a moment, his dark eyes grave, watching the closed door before (what are you trying to postpone?) stepping over to the bedside and slumping ungracefully down into Youji's chair. The chair creaked slightly beneath him as he sat: desperately hoped he hadn't done anything to it. If he'd destroyed Youji's chair just by sitting on it, Youji would kill him. Smart assassins do not piss off other assassins, kind of thing. Didn't feel like he'd done anything too permanent, though. Resting his forearms on his thigh, he sat slightly forward and stared at--

Funny, how there didn't seem to be anything safe to stare at. The wall. The uninspiring view through Youji's narrow window, smeared and muddled by the rain-washed glass. Funny, how he was avoiding looking at Youji... and it was dark outside, dark and cold.

(And Youji, lying on his back, lips slightly parted and a hank of dark hair falling into his closed eyes - don't touch, Hidaka.)

Forcing himself to look away, Ken got to his feet, leaned over to draw the blinds.

Caught himself with one knee on Youji's bed, leaning precariously over his unconscious teammate, with one hand on the wall for balance and muttering something frustrated about fucking stupid Venetian louvres which wouldn't fucking come down properly and Mary Mother of God what the fuck was he doing, it wasn't like Youji cared if the blinds were drawn, it wasn't like he cares so what the fuck was he doing?! You fall now, Hidaka, and you are...

Youji - oh God, oh Christ Jesus you guys hate me don't you talk about perfect fucking timing - Youji was stirring. Shifting, just slightly, and murmuring something soft and plaintive (plaintive?): Ken didn't need to know a thing about medicine to know that this wasn't good. Not now. Even drugged up Youji could be - the guy was far too quick with the sly innuendoes as it was, the last thing Ken needed to do was add fuel to the fire. Just sit down and stare at the wall, Ken. The wall's safe.

Pushed back against the wall and moved--

Blame the position, blame the softness of the bed, the lack of decent traction: Ken was fast but somehow Youji was faster. Never mind the drugs, the disorientation, the time loss for all it was explicable. Ken tried to straighten, to push back off the wall and scramble off the bed and to hell with his dignity just as long as he got away - Youji was faster. He could move so fast sometimes.

Ken felt the movement more than he heard it, and heard it more than he could see. The sudden shifting of the mattress beneath him, a hiss of fabric on fabric, the creak of the bedposts. Startled, Ken raised his head.

And then Youji had his arms about his waist and was pulling and Ken heard himself crying out - whether it had been a curse or an exclamation or a half-stifled demand that Youji let go, dammit even he couldn't have said for sure. Might have been nothing at all. Ken felt his hand slip from where he had braced it against the wall, felt Youji's arms tighten sure as any snare. Felt himself falling.

Landed--

"Oh shit."

Well. This was a bit awkward.

--landed sprawled across Youji's chest, the man's arms still wrapped tautly about his waist and one of Youji's legs, bent slightly at the knee, pressing against his inner thigh. Great. Just fantastic. Mark this one down as yet another Classic Ken Hidaka Moment. He really did have a positive knack for getting himself in these sorts of situations, didn't he?

Trapped against his will in this fortuitous embrace, Ken shifted slightly, hoping it would communicate his need to get the Hell up and get the Hell out as soon as was humanly possible. Stopped abruptly when he realized where he was, what it must have looked like - what it must have felt like. Heat stole its way across Ken's cheeks and he blushed. Angry and embarrassed and resenting it, resenting Youji for putting him in, quite literally, this stupid position.

(It left him furious with Mad Doctor Eyeball - what the Hell had his name been? - all over again. Lucky for him he was dead, really, or Ken would have had to kill him. But he already did that and it hadn't helped a bit.)

"What the fuck do you think you're--"

Got that far and no further. Youji was smiling at him, artless and open as a child a third his own age. No calculation in his eyes, no sleepy self-assurance in the smile. He was just happy, entirely and uncomplicatedly: a stark, simple emotion painted in primary colors. Ken had never seen Youji smile like that and certainly not at him. He wasn't sure he liked it. He thought that maybe it frightened him. (If you weren't drugged, Kudou, I'd punch you...)

Then Youji kissed him.

"Shut up, Kenken," Youji said drowsily, "I'm trying to sleep."
Tags: , ,
 
 
26 February 2007 @ 02:34 am
Mission: Liebe Macht Blind
Place: Shinjuku Ward
Date: Friday August 18, 2006

Every on-foot action sequence needs a subway turnstile-jump.Collapse )
 
 
20 January 2007 @ 12:05 am
Mission: Liebe Macht Blind
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Wednesday August 16, 2006


"Three pictures," Youji said, running his fingers absently through his hair. "Two of them - well, Omi wants the store sign in them, give our guy something to look at."
Ken frowned. "Kind of like 'I am a helpless florist, come get me'?"
"He needs to be able to find me, Ken, but - yeah, I guess that wouldn't hurt either."
"Got you," Ken said. Smiled. Hesitated. "Um, what about the third? Doesn't he want the shop sign in that?"

Youji closed his eyes and sighed. He'd known this was coming.

"They want a close-up," he said finally. Hesitated. Waited for Ken to clue in to what, exactly, it was that Green Eyes Online wanted from him. Waited until it became obvious, from the perfectly blank look in the boy's own eyes that he wasn't about to do anything of the sort. "Of my eyes, Ken," he said patiently. "They want a close-up picture featuring just my eyes."
Ken blinked. He frowned. He said, "Okay."

Then he started to laugh.

"God," Ken said through his laughter, "it's like... porn. Like eyeball porn."

Eyeball porn? What was Ken... oh God, yes. Youji remembered - God, he'd shown Ken a porn site, once, only for the fun of it. More clinical than sexy, really: an image gallery of body parts, taken in isolation. Could have been anyone's. Years back now. Remembered, way back when this had all begun, how he had taken a positive delight in shocking Ken's sensibilities. He'd been made to be teased, had Ken: a cute, clueless little Catholic kid who spent his nights ripping people apart and blushed the first time Youji brought a woman home. He couldn't possibly be as naive as he seemed. It looks like medical records, Ken had said finally. Then: if you click on the image, can you see their faces?

"I don't get it," Ken said finally. (Giggling a little still.) "These people put close-up pictures of their own eyes on the internet, on a website anyone could access, and then they were surprised when... when an eye fetishist showed up?"

Put it like that and Youji had to admit it sounded stupid.

(Really, who had these people thought were actually going to be interested in viewing close-up photo after close-up photo of total strangers' pretty green eyes?)

"You never know," Ken said - the grin on his face told Youji he wasn't going to like what was coming next one little bit, "you might not even meet our psycho. You might get lucky. Your pretty eyes might have some cute little green-eyed thing who couldn't possibly date anyone of the non-green-eyed persuasion flipping for you, and you could give her beautiful green-eyed babies..."

(Which, had Ken but known it, was why at least half the regulars on that site had signed up for it in the first place.)

Got that far before dissolving into laughter again, as if this was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard in his life. At least Ken had the grace not to laugh in his face this time, turning away to lean heavily on the central table, his head bowed and shoulders shaking. Eyeball porn had been bad enough, but the thought of more than one person out there being so amazingly enraptured by the eyeball porn that they'd use it as a hook-up tactic. Oh, God. God almighty, what a crazy world...

It's not that funny, Ken, Youji wanted to say, but he knew it would only make Ken laugh harder. Knew too that he would have been laughing, if it hadn't been his sight on the line.

(Eyeball porn, for God's sake...)

Ken calmed, in time. Picked Omi's digital camera up from the table and turned it over in his hands, searching for the On switch - he still flinched slightly when his finger brushed against it and the camera sprung into life. Damn camera. So slim and silvery and pretty it was near impossible to figure out quite where the functional bits were...

"Maybe we should use an older photo for one of them," he said. "So they don't all look like they were taken at once. It'd look more normal."

He walked over to Youji, skipping absently back through the camera's back files. It hadn't been used much - Weiss, when it came down to it, wasn't the kind of thing anyone would want to go out of their way to preserve happy memories of - but he remembered Omi, in the first flurry of enthusiasm that comes with the acquisition of any brand new technical toy, taking a string of photos, and there'd been one. Flicking through the camera's memory, Ken stumbled across a few of them now: the store, the streets, Aya and her best friend in light summer dresses, arms around. Momoe's cat. Momoe's cat again. The four of them - some group shot taken to test the camera's timer and God but Nagi looked like Omi was proposing to torture him, not take his photo...

Ah, there it was. He remembered that photo. Obviously unposed, just as obviously taken without Youji's knowledge. Sat at the table in the center of the shop on an unpromisingly gray morning, chin resting on one cupped hand as he gazed absently out of the window, eyes on nothing at all. Unsmiling.

"Look, this one's pretty good."
Youji glanced down at it. Pulled a face. "Oh, geez, that one. I thought I told Omi to delete that."
"Yeah, you did," Ken said simply. "I told him not to. It's a nice picture."

Just said it, just like that. No hesitation or suggestion of a blush, no sign of any self-consciousness whatsoever. Not during and not after. Thought it was only what it was - it's a nice picture. Why get rid of nice pictures? Youji only didn't like it because he hadn't had the chance to strike some faux-casual pose or flash his teeth like he always did, that was all, and it was nice to have at least one photo about the place where the guy wasn't just a vague blur in the background and wasn't practically flirting with the camera either. Even Youji had his unknowing moments...

Sometimes, Youji knew, Ken didn't have the first idea what it was he was actually saying.

(And why enlighten him? There's nothing wrong with artlessness, Kudou. Just let him be who he is.)

Got the first shot easily enough. There was, after all, only so much that could go wrong with a close-up of someone's eyes. Youji rejected the first two pictures ('You caught my bad side.' 'Bad side? It's a pair of eyes, Youji!') okayed the third. And they were just eyes; they could have been anyone's.

It was the wide shot, taken on the pavement outside the shop, that proved to be the problem. Framing it: getting enough of the store sign in that their target would have no real difficulty tracing the place - just enough, Youji had said, to give him a sense of achievement when he finds me - but not so much so it would be obvious the photographer was at least as interested in his shop's sign than his subject's wonderful eyes. The light was wrong. The angle was wrong. A passing pair of college girls Ken vaguely recognized from the store had to be photographed with their arms round Youji before they would consent to leave them alone. Youji wanted to brush his hair again and didn't like Ken's taste in shirts--

"Okay, smile."

--turned out that wasn't working right either.

"Oi, oi." Ken lowered the camera again without bothering to take a shot, setting one hand on his hip. "God dammit, Youji."
Youji pulled a face, relaxing. "What's the matter now?"
"I said smile," Ken pointed out helpfully. "Not wince. You look like someone's about to go for your--"
"Eyes?"
"Well, I was gonna say throat..." He grinned, a little guiltily.

Which Youji supposed passed for tact where Ken came from - didn't say that, though. It wasn't like Ken had asked this week's particular sicko to take an interest exclusively in the green-eyed, or taught him to spot a tinted contact lens at fifty feet. He really shouldn't be taking it out on him.

"Look, Youji," Ken said, "I know this ain't much fun for you, but... isn't this guy supposed to think you signed up to this site because you wanted to?"

Youji started, just slightly. Ken, once again, had pointed out far more than he realized. You're supposed to be doing this for fun, Kudou. To meet like-minded people with green eyes, and bask in the shared specialness. You, you poor idiot, don't know it's suddenly gotten very dangerous to admit to having pretty green eyes. You don't know a thing: the police have been paid off, the press bought or bullied into silence. There's somebody out there, but you - Youji Kudou, helpless florist - don't know it. You don't know a goddamn thing.

Just look pretty and smile like an idiot. How hard can it be?
 
 
 
17 January 2007 @ 08:13 pm
Place: Magicbus Hospital
Date: Thursday, August 17, 2006

Five minutes to nine.

The front doors of any hospital were generally active; Omi had intended to pull this particular stunt outside of emergency, but decided, nearly at the last moment, that should an ambulance pull up that action would be exceptionally rude and possibly life-threatening. As he preferred not to kill people unless they were handed to him in a manilla folder, he decided the main entrance was more prudent.

He was leaning against one of the posts holding up the overhang, half his body in the morning sun, August heat quickly warming through his t-shit and jeans, face tilted up, round-lens sunglasses perched on his nose. A small amount of concealment to watch the world behind; noted the sharp, often reproving looks from patrons and nurses, parents hurrying their children past him.

I'm not what you're thinking, really, but it's rather amusing that you think so.

Nine AM and the vans pulled up, sleek black and unmarked, false government plates, tinted windows and all. Birman stepped out first, perfect in a smart blue business suit, not a hair out of place, one matching heel tapping sharply on the pavement to the tune of her glance. Omi smiled a little, benign, and raised his hand with fingers splayed. Five minutes. She nodded.

He pushed away from the post lazily, let the doors slide open with pressurized swish and stepped into the lobby, for all intents and purposes staring straight ahead, the glasses hiding his scan of the room. Not too many witnesses; elderly couple, pacing young man (pregnant wife, maybe), blonde gaijin with a practically nonexistant skirt, young mother bent in exhaustion, watching her offspring knelt at a table coloring.

Nurse behind the counter, blinking as he approached, uncertain alarm written on her plain face. Omi pushed the glasses up onto his forehead and gave her his sweetest, most heart-winning smile. "Good morning. I'm here to check my sister out."

Her mouth pursed into an o, another moment taken aback before looking around her workspace as though she barely recognized it. "Ah... her name, please?"

"Fujimiya Aya."

"Ah..." Look of recognition in her eyes, a frown, turning to find the file. Omi waited patiently, leaned one elbow on the counter and shifted just enough for a cursory glance around. The pacing young man had stopped pacing and was watching the proceedings from a distance. Wary.

"Here it is." The nurse had found the opportunity to become somewhat flustered, file open in front of her as though to prove her point. "Fujimiya Aya is comatose, she can't--"

"She's being transferred to a private facility." He leaned forward just a bit more, still smiling as benevolently as a saint, let something sharper, more dangerous slip into his eyes. Just a touch. "I certainly hope that's not going to cause a problem."

"W...well--" She made a show of looking back and forth from the file to his face, uncertain. Perhaps feeling a bit cornered. "We weren't informed of such a transfer--"

"Not to worry. My people will take care of everything." Omi reached forwards, not even that fast but nevertheless saw that minute flinch, that sudden, instinctive tension.

Mentally applauded her for only giving that much.

He turned his hand palm up, supplicating. "If you would be so kind," back to the sweet words now, the angelic countenance. "I'm sure there are some papers you'd like me to sign?"

Heard the doors at that moment, swish and air and high-heels tapping a stacatto on the floor tiles. Didn't turn around but nevertheless had a perfect visual of Birman, strutting purposefully through the lobby, flanked by Kritiker agents--well, not really, they were probably secretaries and security guards she'd roped into playing the part--all in formal black and sunglasses. One of the registered nurses from the agency's private clinic and his assistant not far behind, posing as doctors, pushing a gurney along.

The girl behind the desk wavered, clipboard lifted halfway and staring. Had the attention of the entire room, now.

Omi caught the clipboard in one hand before she could drop it, drew a pen from his pocket and began scribbling in the fields, barely noticing the moment of befuddlement when Birman passed an official-looking document across the counter at her.

"Everything in order?" Birman's voice had a bit of a bite to it today, maybe a bit recalcitrant at playing Omi's little game.

He nodded.

"What room?"

"Uh... 10B... hey!" The nurse found her voice as they were moving away, Omi still scribbling at the form. "The doctor has to sign off on that release!"

"Oh really?" Omi paused just long enough to look back at her, expression not so angelic now; reached up to flip his sunglasses back down. "That's perfect. Thank you."

----@----

"It may be true that this sort of thing would necessitate some kind of display," Birman was saying, halway under her breath even though the corridor was empty. "But this is just slightly over the top, Bombay."

"You could have said no." Omi was wearing his most charming smile, any bit of honesty hidden behind his glasses. Walking with his hands in his pockets, practically nonchalant and deadly at the same time.

Of course I could have said no, she thought, but obviously I wouldn't have dared.

"I still think this entire matter is extreneous. Fujimiya the younger has more than enough capital to vegitate in whatever hospital you want for the remainder of her life."

"Need to know." Omi tapped his nose with one finger, pen still held in the wedge of his thumb. Form filled with nearly illegible scrawling.

"Don't give me that."

"Need I remind you that you personally promised Abyssinian the well-being of his sister in exchange for his loyalty?"

"Yes, I did. And as I recall Abyssinian is currently either fish food or a grease spot under a chunk of building depending on which part of him you're talking about."

Omi paused at a window, peering in momentarily before motioning to their entourage that this was the correct room. Waited for them to go in before turning back to her, something feral in his smile. He was unable to voice that thought, though, interrupted by the red-faced man hurrying down the hallway. Seamlessly switched back to angelic charm.

"Watanabe-sensei. I was just looking for you." Omi waited politely for the doctor to stop and catch his breath before holding up the clipboard. "Your signature, if you would be so kind."

The doctor snatched up the form and held it aside like the particleboard might rear up and bite him. "You again. You can't just walz in here--" Too angry and spitting to form a full sentence; had to pause for breath. "There are proper channels--"

The door swung open, perfectly on cue, one of the "agents" stepping out and looking the doctor over with a frown. "Is there a problem, sir?"

"No." Omi waved him away, calm and cool as ever. "Watanabe-sensei was just signing Aya's release form. Isn't that right?" Smiled perfectly; Birman knew it for the threat it was. "Sensei?"

The doctor busied himself looking back and forth from the black-clad man to Omi, something like understanding slowly dawning.

Yakuza.

Not really, sensei, Birman thought. But whatever you would prefer to tell yourself is fine.

The man accepted the pen Omi was holding up, scrawled a signature on the form and handed both back. Turned and walked away as quickly and stiffly as possible, without another word, leaving them to their devices and Omi with a pleased smirk on his face.

She walked beside him on the way out, letting the "agents" flank the gurney and lead the way. A fine parade for the peanut gallery in the lobby to stare at. Waited until they were loading the vans to continue that conversation.

"I don't recall you ever specifying that the deal was null upon his death." Omi said, at her side, close enough now that she could see the shadows of his eyes through the glasses, just enough that he was on the bare edge of her personal space. "And Birman-san," he said, voice perfectly sweet and even, turning just so to look up at her, meet her eyes through shaded glass, "you shouldn't talk about Aya-kun like that."

And it was that, right there; because Omi didn't give direct orders, didn't bark or hiss or even state--it was always a suggestion, kindly spoken. She didn't reply, just made a motion towards the van door with her chin, waiting for him to climb in and for the back doors to close, Aya secure inside.

Birman let her secretary drive, taking a seat behind as a sort of safeguard from any more disingenuity. There were some days that boy honestly frightened her.

----@----

Five minutes to eleven. Class started soon.

Omi stayed in the room and watched, made sure the various physicians and assistants and nurses that were going in and out did everything possible to make Aya comfortable, attached all the monitors correctly and didn't spend too much time hovering. Waited until the last of them cleared out and continued sitting, staring at her prone form.

Remembered a place like this, time like this, sitting with casts all over himself and watching Ken with his head in bandages, watching Yohji pointedly not watching Ken and staring out the window, snow falling like silence and how the hell were they going to tell him, when he woke up?

How would they tell Ken? How had Yohji told him? How in hell had he stood like stone and told Aya's sister?

So many memories. The past was so big and yet never long enough.

Omi stood up, finally, walked over to the railing and leaned over, rearranged a plait of hair to lie flat. Paused and ran his fingertip down along that earring, tacky gold and wearing with age but--

He drew back. Smoothed the covers and checked her face for signs of disstress. Turned and walked out without looking back.

She's not Aya, he reminded himself. She's just a shadow of someone you never really knew.
 
 
15 January 2007 @ 04:54 am
Mission: Liebe Macht Blind
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Wednesday August 16, 2006

Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die...Collapse )
 
 
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Monday August 14, 2006


"No."

And tried to look immovable. He sounded like a stubborn child, pouting over his mother's insistence that eight PM was a perfectly good bedtime. He stood in the middle of the darkened store and tried to look like he wanted to be there, his head tilted slightly back, arms folded across the chest: an attempt at righteous indignation that had left him looking little more than peevish. But mom, I'm not tired...

Ken looked it, though. But not tired: pained. Youji knew Ken far too well not to know when he was denying pain. Ken wasn't a good actor. His eyes were all wrong.

"I'm fine, Youji. I don't need to go lie down."
Youji looked down at him dubiously. "You don't look fine."
"Fine," Ken repeated, as if the simple act of saying something twice would make it sound more convincing. As if he were trying to convince himself. (Never had known how to lie, that one.) Then, a little defensively, "It's been three years."
"If you can't even say I'm fine and look like you believe it..."

He broke off. No, Youji counseled himself, stay on target. If he let Ken - what, you're saying I'm lying? No, I'm saying you can't lie. What's that supposed to mean? - get tangential on him this could go on for hours and he'd still not have gotten Ken to go lie down at the end of it. He pursed his lips slightly and, just briefly, wished that he were someone else, someone Ken found a lot scarier, not good old Youji the Cuddly Assassin. Omi, perhaps. Omi never seemed to have this problem. A sweet, simple, would you like to go lie down, Ken-kun? and Ken would have got the message.

(Of course, with Omi they'd all have known it for an order.)

"Ken," Youji said, quite calmly and simply, "you look like shit."

There was a woman outside, bending down slightly to peer through the glass door into the darkened interior. About thirty, Youji guessed. Chic, neatly-pressed little business suit, unfortunately teamed with tangled, shoulder-length corkscrew curls that undid all the professionalism that power suit hinted at and left her looking a little ditzy. Looked a little bit like a certain sharp-tongued redhead they all knew. Not her, though: this woman was darker, plainer, lacked all Manx's poise. Smiled in relief as she caught Youji's eyes, mouthed, can I come in.

Five minutes, Youji mouthed back, holding out one hand in case she couldn't quite see his lips. She must have got the picture; she smiled and nodded thankfully. I'll wait. It never would cease to amaze Youji that people could end up in situations where they needed emergency floristry. (Business proposition in that, somewhere. Drive-in flower shops, perhaps. Might play well in cities, especially in the States...)

"In..." Made a production number of checking the watch, rolling up the sleeve slightly, turning the wrist so the face caught the light, "... ooh, about half an hour's time, the schools will be out. Which gives us about forty minutes' grace before those girls we had here this morning pile back in, notice Aya's gone, and decide we need to be comforted at the top of their voices and I'll be lucky not to have a headache at the end of that."
Ken tried, once again, to look stubborn. That much he was good at, though Youji could tell he was wavering. Blame the eyes. "I don't have a--"
"Ken," Youji said wearily, abruptly losing all interest in the charm offensive, "are you going to go to bed, or am I going to have to carry you up there and tie you to it? Your call."

Ken flushed, just a little. He knew what that sounded like.

(Naughty, Kudou, something at the back of his mind murmured in a soft, feminine voice. That was underhand... And of course it had been, and that was precisely why he had said it. Honestly, Kenken, you're too easy sometimes. It was an effort to suppress the smirk.)

"Um," Ken was saying awkwardly. "I'll be back down in--"
"No you won't," Youji said, placing one hand on Ken's shoulder and guiding him toward the door. God, listen to me, coming over all paternal. You're getting old, man. "You'll stay up there and get some goddamn rest until you stop wincing every time someone talks to you. And don't even think about coming down before then, because I'll be able to tell. Unless, that is, you want me to make good on that threat?"
Ken started slightly, but what he said was, "like Hell you will."
"Really?" Youji said playfully. "You're absolutely sure about that one?"
"Oh, shut up," Ken muttered. "Fine, I'm going. Just don't blame me if Nagi finally snaps and splatters those girls all over the walls."
Youji laughed. "Go to bed, Ken."

Pushed him gently out through the rear door and turned back toward the storefront, giving the young woman (stood in the doorway, rubbing one elegantly-shod foot against the back of her calf) a brief, acknowledging nod before snapping the store lights on. Nagi, as if on cue, drifted in from the corridor, reaching for his apron: Youji gave him a smile which he was unsurprised to note went entirely unacknowledged and headed for the front door, absently fishing the door keys from his pocket. Threw them to himself, once, twice, prayed he wouldn't fumble the catch in front of their putative customer - and she was a lot cuter up close than she'd looked...

Wondered what right he had to be acting so jaunty.

Caught himself wondering just how many of their regulars would be glad Aya wasn't here.
Tags: , ,
 
 
12 January 2007 @ 10:46 pm
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Monday August 14, 2006

She was just having a nap and got carried away.Collapse )
 
 
07 January 2007 @ 07:24 pm
Place: Thorsten's Studio/Apartment
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2006


Nearly silent--damn cat, always managed to get up too close before he noticed him. Sitting on the lid of the toliet, contentedly laying on the clothes Thorsten had stripped off before he'd gotten in the shower. Felt those damn yellow cat eyes staring at him before he raised his head to look over.

(Water's getting cold. No more steam.)

"Thanks, I hadn't noticed," Thorsten muttered. Leaned forward, turned the cold water off, so the shower would stay hot longer. The suddenly almost too-warm water made his skin prickle and burn. He leaned back against the tub again, brushed the wet hair out of his face, behind his ear now, and looked back over at the cat.

(Touchy bastard.)

"Leave me the fuck alone tonight or I'll get your balls cut off."

The cat licked its lips and resettled itself. Eyes drifting half-closed with the look of all the arrogance in the universe. As if this little human boy here could even so much as think about harming him.

(Time to go out again, I think. Almost time to hunt up a new toy to play with. Make him cry a little?)

Thorsten ground his teeth together, felt his hands in fists. That strange burning in his mind somewhere--need need need--want want want. Denied it for too long this time and it was burning its way down, over his shoulders and his arms, settling in his belly like a disease and nothing was going to stay the impulse this time.

"Not hardly," he retorted. "Some people were born with a degree of self-control."

(You not being one such person. Go out and find yourself someone. Fuck them until they cry--bring them here, I'll help.)

"How fucking kind of you. I don't particularily want to find someone to fuck, thanks." Water chilling out again, the prickling was gone and now it was some strange soothing lukewarm. He leaned into it, away from the eyes of the cat, felt the water beating down on his head, soaking his hair, his back--closed his eyes.

(Then find someone to fuck you until you cry. Been too long and you're not too picky to start with--ought to be easy.)

Thorsten looked back at him. "I am capable of abstaining for longer than six days. There are other things in life than just sex."

(Abstain? You? The very thought is amusing. Even if its been almost three months--)

"I've had my most faithful companion to keep me company, thanks." And he pumped his left hand up and down in the shower randomly, saw the cat's eyes glance at it and then look back at his face.

(Yes, and the sheer number of repetitions of that company should indicated to an intelligent person that your left fist isn't going to satiate the need. Go get fucked--you'll feel better.)

"Maybe if I got my right fingers involved I could just pretend some hunky japanese guy was grunting over me. With that vivid imagination I have and all that bullshit."

(Practice a little quality control, then. You sell yourself far too cheaply.)

"One of these days I'm going to get a dog and teach him to hump you instead of the pillows--wouldn't that make you feel better?"

Not even so much as impressed or amused. Just that same straight yellow stare. (Wear the white pants--no, you got paint on them last time. Wear the charcoal pants, no underwear.)

"Those damn pants are too tight," Thorsten objected, leaned foward between his knees and turned the water off. Too cold now and the air was too sharp and chilled too. He stood up grabbed the towel. Dried his face and his chest and then his legs.

(That, of course, being the point. They're supposed to show off your ass and they do--quite nicely.)

"I don't have any shirts to go with those pants, anyway." Dropped the first towel on the floor and grabbed the second one off the sink, leaned forward, shook all of his hair so it was hanging around his face and set to rubbing it dry.

(Then don't wear one.)

"Some us aren't egocenteric assholes, you know." Done with his hair, tossed the towel at the cat, who hissed in annoyance as it landed on him with a wet smack. Had to fight his way out from under it and emerged with a highly displeased look. Thorsten ignored it, turned his back to that cat and walked way. Feet padding over the chilly floor, to his bedroom. Pulled open the closet door.

Heard the cat run after him, slip between his ankles--give a little rub there--and then look up at the clothes.

(Black pants. That clingy transparent shirt. And take condoms with you this time.) Then the cat turned and walked away. As if his command so obviously had to be obeyed.

Thorsten considered it--resisted it, more like. Couldn't obey some cat that shouldn't have a fucking voice in the first place. (Nothing's wrong with being a little crazy, right. Talking to a cat, that's not so bad. He was an artist, a little crazy was perfectly expected.) Felt his belly tightening up again, and that burning in his mind-- Hard to ignore it, tried, tried harder this time than he had before. Couldn't figure out why, resistance was futile and the same such stupidity.

(NOW you realize that...think of all our wasted time.)

Thorsten tugged the pants off their hanger. Felt them slide, slick smooth fabric and pulled them on his legs. Not snug on the legs, clingy across his thighs, a little, too snug across his ass. But that was the point, of course. Buttoned them and felt them settle nicely on his hips. Inches below his belly button.

And the shirt. Lost somewhere in the back of the closet--he'd bought it but he'd never worn it. Pulled it out. Ridiculous thing, made with a zipper rather than buttons--easier to get off in a hurry he figured--and it was damn near see-through. Supposed to be of course, easily see-through with the right lights. Pulled it on, zipped it half way up, stopped at his collarbone.

He always hated things on his neck.

Turned away from the closet and grabbed the hair brush off the desk. Ran it through his hair, tugging it all back away from his face--except his fucking bangs that fell back into their place, almost getting in his eyes--held the brush between his teeth and plucked a hairband out of the pile.

(You should leave it down once in a while.)

"Gets pulled," he mumbled around the brush. Finished the pony tail--loose, his hair was going to fall out of it all evening. Didn't matter, if things went like they needed to his hairtie was going to get lost on some guy's bed or in some bathroom or alley anyway. "Should cut all the fucking shit off anyway."

(Hardly.)

Thorsten stood there, looking at himself in the mirror. It felt wrong--the reflection. His hair was freshly green--two days ago--eyebrows too. The red had started to grow out, shown through. Had to dye it back again. But it hadn't felt right this time, felt like it was hiding somehow, and standing here now, looking at himself. Knowing what he was going out for--knowing that he could get it and easily--it felt like he was lying. Hiding from the truth.

Wanted to find someone to hurt, not someone to fuck. (Fuck 'em until they cry.) Could--had--wanted to now. Always wanted to when he held it back too long and it always felt good. Satisfying.

Felt like the truth.

"Fuck," he breathed out.

(Yes. Maybe more than one. Let your inner whore free.)

Thorsten felt the smirk spreading across his face--didn't feel like his own--and turned his head to glance over at the cat. "Bring 'em back here, so we can play for real, right? One to top, one to bottom, me in the middle and you whispering those nasty little nothings into their ears?"

The cat's ears twitched, flicked and then laid flat back against his head. Something nearly vicious in the way he stared at him from his own pillows. (Yes. Exactly.)

"Hm," Thorsten said. Shook the bangs away from his eyes, but they fell right back anyway. "I'll consider it."



~~~///


Thorsten shoved the cat off the bed, heard him land--on his feet of course--and collapsed agianst the pillows, wriggling under the covers with a yawn. Eyes closed, floating off to sleep almost instantly until that damn fucking cat jumped back up on the bed and walked over his head to reclaim his rightful spot.

(Forgot some things.)

"Here," Thorsten murmured and turned his head to look at the cat, fingers extended under his nose. Watched the damn animal sniff at them and chance a little taste.

(Tears? Interesting.)

Yeah. Tears--but not interesting. Boy damn near cried just at the thought of it. Wanted the fucking, sure, but for his own angst driven reasons--wanted to forget something, and up on his knees on his own bed--couldn't forget his little sobby story even for a minute. Rubbed his face in his pillow and squeezed out his tears in time with pace of the sex.

Thorsten had just turned the boy's pretty face out to rub his fingers in the trail of salty tears, felt that grin spread across his face and something that might have been that kid's thoughts murmuring somewhere in his. (No, no, that would be *crazy.*) And the boy had looked at him, just briefly, over his shoulder, then turned his face away and back into the pillow. Urgently pressing back--trying to kill the memory.

(Naughty.) The cat murmured, content and sleepy. Settled down on his place and gave Thorsten's fingers another short lick.

"Yeah--whatever," Thorsten yawned. Promised himself that he'd feel bad about it tomorrow--maybe. Think about feeling bad about it.
 
 
 
07 January 2007 @ 05:10 pm
Place: Tokyo University
Date: Monday August 14, 2006

There was a sadist somewhere in this university, Omi had decided very early in the semester, who wholeheartedly enjoyed scheduling Physics first thing in the morning. He suspected it was the professor, actually, but most days was too busy scribbling notes to glower at the man properly while out of view behind one of the taller students he always made sure to sit behind, crouching down low enough to be unnoticable even in the slightly tiered seating of the lecture hall.

Koiichi, next to him, was the one to initially break Omi out of the kind of entranced stupor only taking Physics notes can induce, an elbow to the ribs and an attention-drawing motion of his hand, under the desk, folded notebook paper caught between his fingers. Omi rolled his eyes, not like they were still in high school, passing notes in class. Shook his head a little but Koiichi nudged him again and he grabbed the paper, unfolding it silently under the desk.

[Sayaka thinks you're cute.]

Oh, god, they really were still in high school.

Omi blinked at the paper, noted Koiichi's grin and flash of fingers in a "V" for victory sign. The girl in question, small and cute with a ubiquitously rebellious streak of blonde in her short hair, was sitting at the end of the row two down from them, habitually chewing on a spare pencil while taking notes. Nice enough girl. Not bad to look at, either, but...

She noticed him staring, the way that girls do, the way that only girls notice that kind of thing, like an ingrained genetic instinct. If she had smiled, maybe, given him a coy look, lowered her eyes demurely, he might have dismissed her immediately. Been there. Seen that. Still did on a daily basis while trying to clip rosebuds.

She didn't, though. Dropped the pencil out of her mouth ungracefully, blushed even less gracefully and faced forward with a stiffness to her spine like she'd left the hanger in her shirt. All note taking forgotten in the moment of flustered embarassment.

Cute.

Omi shook his head slightly, drawing attention back to his notes and half-expected Koiichi to elbow him in the ribs again and continue whatever silent discussion he thought they were having, but instead--

Buzz.

He kept the phone in his bag, kept the bag close enough always to notice the vibration. Felt it from the pocket pressed against his thigh, where the bag was wedged between himself and Koiichi.

Omi gave the professor a cursory glance, noted that the man was still in the middle of his lecture with no notice to the bit of non-note-taking-related movement ten rows up in the gallery. Omi slipped the phone out, flipped it open under the desk.

Turned it on immediately and held it to his ear, inconspicuous as possible without any kind of greeting. Yohji would know to just talk.

Not five seconds later Omi was stuffing his notebook away rattling paper and banging his bag against the desk with no further thought to propriety or dodging the professor's gaze. All but climbing over Koiichi to get to the aisle and out the door.

"Is there a problem, Tsukiyono?"

How the man kept track of every name in his massive lecture classes was a wonder unto itself. That hawk-like stare would pin down any student where he stood, but not the one student who happened to have Omi's night job. He balked anyway, for show--so many things he did these days, all for show, all to feign just enough normalcy--and bowed deferentially. "I'm very sorry, sensei, it's an emergency. My..." My dead assassin teammate's formerly comatose sister? Either laughable or insane. "...sister collapsed. She's being taken to the hospital. Please excuse me, sensei. I'm very sorry." More bowing, more apologizing, more show...

The professor finally jerked his chin towards the door and gave him no further attention. Omi sighed internally and started running--out the door, out the building, across campus to the moped parking spaces and on, barely buckling his helmet before speeding off, arms still exposed, bag banging against his hip.

And only then did the wondering "Why now?" thought pop into his head.

Three years. Broken collarbone, arm, leg, ribs, swam to the beach with all of that and Nagi in tow by the wrist--still no explaining that. Something had hit him in the head in the midst of all the falling building but still, no explaining why he grabbed the wrist of the boy he'd been trying to kill (and who'd been returning the favor) seconds before and saving his life. Trickles of blood on Nagi's face and an unnatural angle to his arm, never knew just what had happened to him, falling masonry or the hard surface of the water or whatever else in the middle of all that chaos. Aya was dead, and the other Aya, now...

She's the little bit you have left, right? Omi liked to think that, but found more solace in Ouka's headstone or the rocks sticking out of the harbor that were the closest thing Aya the assassin would ever get to a grave marker. No one could be replaced, not even by their own memory or a familiar stand-in.

Three years, and Aya the girl was a person unto herself, affixed to the routine of daily life. Present, if not necessarily more than that.

He parked the moped at an awkward angle in the first stall he saw, fumbling with the strap to his helmet even while walking inside and barely getting it off when Nagi grabbed his arm. Calm in the waiting room and separate, wrapped in that ever-efficient aura of stay-the-fuck-away.

It was clear, then, that this picture was much bigger than anyone, including himself, could have anticipated.
 
 
07 January 2007 @ 11:23 pm
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Monday August 14, 2006


If he could have just remembered where he'd left the order book, Ken wouldn't have seen a thing.

Checked his pockets, then the pockets of that ridiculous blue apron - nothing: a pair of scissors, a reel of crimson ribbon, half a tube of mints. It wasn't on the table. Couldn't even see the stockroom and wasn't relishing the prospect of trying to fight his way over there, so first things first he'd asked the others. That had been the plan: too bad Ken's plans had a habit of not working out.

He'd turned to Aya only because Aya, tall and slender and pale and pretty, was the closest and moving closer; she was stepping carefully forward, little moment of artificial hesitation to give the woman she was approaching time to back off gracefully, artificial little smile. Greeting a customer. Ken, half his mind on the job he knew he was neglecting, noticed it only incidentally. Said, raising his voice to be heard over the noises off, Aya, have you seen the order book or Hey Aya, did you just take an order or some other commonplace he could no longer remember--

Saw, in the split second before they fluttered closed, the light in the young woman's eyes winking out, nicely as if some unseen hand had tripped a switch. And then her limbs had turned to water and she was falling, slowly as a felled tree and heavy as a corpse.

"Aya!"

Any other girl Ken might have wondered if she'd fainted, but not this one.
____

She hadn't been Youji's type: that was the only thing he'd remembered about the girl at first, when he'd first become aware that she was far too young for a doctor and wore no uniform, so couldn't have been a nurse. Taller than average, slightly, and attractive, but only in a quiet, slightly sickly-looking way. Pale. Pale as a plant who'd been kept in a cupboard too long, and something familiar about her - the pallor, or perhaps the bearing, the way she held herself: all dreadfully familiar. And not Youji's type.

He'd been irritated that Youji should be bringing his pick-ups along. This wasn't a show, he'd said, but Youji had affected not to hear him - maybe he hadn't said it. Talking had been difficult, then: suspected he wouldn't have wasted words on an observation as trivial as that.

Who was that girl, he'd asked, after the third or the fourth or the fifth occasion.

He could still remember Youji's surprise. The comically arched brows, the parted lips. Don't you remember? That's Aya.

Ken had remembered Aya. Tall and slender and pale and pretty, a scowl on his lips only long experience had told him not to take personally: he might have been handsomer even than Youji if he had only smiled sometimes. Oh, they'd loathed each other, he and Aya had. Red, red hair and angry eyes, purple or violet or some other unbelievable shade. Ken's eyes were brown. But Aya had been a man. Anyway, Aya was dead. He didn't know how, or why, but Aya was dead. Youji had told him that. Aya's dead, Ken.

(A smile. A sigh. Thought we'd lost you, too.)

She couldn't have been Aya.

But of course she was. Aya was dead, but he - that Aya - he had been the fake. They never had known who that man really was, under the careful disguise. Never would know his name. But the tall, pale girl who stood by Youji's side - pretty girl, Ken noticed with some surprise, with a nice smile and a surprisingly sweet face: she was the original.

She'd been shy with him at first: shyer still with Youji. We were your brother's friends, Youji had told her - it was a lot like the truth, if you closed your eyes. She still hadn't quite trusted them. She'd been withdrawn at first, but she'd opened out in time. In time, Ken had started to understand just what her brother had seen in her that had made him so desperate to see her safe and well. Cheerful, stubborn, irritating Aya, in the kitchen with her schoolbooks. Ken had had sisters too, once...

Why us, he'd asked, months later.

Youji had just shrugged. Who else does she have?
____

Not a faint, Ken had known that the minute he got to her. Nothing the matter with her, at least nothing that could have been seen. No injuries, no sign of anything out of place - no rash, no unusual pallor, no fever... he didn't know much about medicine. Had never really needed that. If it wasn't discolored or gushing blood, he'd always assumed it was fine and moved on--

Aya was, as far as Ken could see, perfectly healthy. She just wouldn't wake up.

Call an ambulance, he'd said, or might have done.

Nagi had turfed the girls out, put the 'closed' sign up. The girls who haunted the store never tried to argue with Nagi: something about him suggested how unwise a move that would be. The store was empty by the time the paramedics arrived. Two men, both middle-aged, their slightly weathered faces speaking in a undertone of the kind of competence only years of experience could bring.

The paramedics had pushed him gently to one side and bent down around their patient. Youji drew him away, put one hand on his shoulder, to hold him back to calm him down: Ken guessed he must have been looking far more nervous than he'd thought, if Youji was doing that. Nagi, the eternal observer, simply watched. From the glances they exchanged, from the way they spoke to one another, their voices low, punctuated with medical Latin (Pater noster, Ken thought suddenly and uselessly, qui es in caelis) that they were getting no response. That they were mystified and could see no good reason why a healthy young woman would simply collapse, unrousable.

So they'd lifted her onto the stretcher they'd gone and fetched from the ambulance, with the rest of their paraphernalia, and started to wheel her out to the ambulance. Ken had pulled away from Youji, hurried after them, been waved away from the ambulance by the younger of the pair, who'd made a gentle recommendation that he go back inside, called the poor young woman's family--

"We're getting married," Ken said helplessly.

He had to say something. Because they wouldn't separate Aya from the closest thing to a family she had left just because none of them were related by blood, or had the ring to prove it - they wouldn't, not now. Not while Ken had breath in his body to prevent it. Shot Youji a glance that said, plain as if he had shouted it, and don't say a goddamn word, Kudou, and tried to ignore the small grin Youji gave him in exchange.

The look in the man's eyes softened, just slightly. "You should have said so earlier, son."

Ken blushed. (No doubt he and Aya had both looked terribly young.)

Haruka's gonna kill you for this when this gets back to her, he thought as he waited anxiously on the pavement for the two paramedics to ready Aya for the journey. No joke, she is gonna goddamn kill you.

He should have remembered that lies, however well-meaning, have a habit of spiraling out of control.
 
 
31 December 2006 @ 11:49 pm
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Monday August 14, 2006


It wasn't the end of the day--somehow, somewhere in Nagi's head; it would have made more sense if it had been the end of the day. Logically, if it had been planned--planned by someone with a good sense of these things--it would have happened at the end of the day. Stress induced relapse because that would seem far less suspicious.

(But this way--this way makes no sense. This way makes you wonder--)

But it wasn't the end of the day; it was the beginning, Aya-chan in the middle of greeting a customer--her smile and all the brightness in the world in her face. Perfectly alive and healthy and vibrant. Then--nothing. Blank eyes sliding closed, body gave out and she wilted to the ground soundlessly. A sudden surging roar from the idiot fan girls that choked the flower shop everyday before and after school. Ken saw it as it happened--instant reaction--digging his way through the fan girls, shouting her name. And then Yohji looked over--couldn't see Aya-chan, but could see the hole in the crowd where she'd been standing, saw Ken all but shoving the girls out of his way to get to her.

But it didn't make sense.

Not like this.

(You mean--it didn't make sense that *he* would do it this way.) Wouldn't make sense that it would be anyone else. Nobody that knew who had gotten to that girl's mind before. (No, because nobody ever challenged *him* did they?)

Yohji turned his head, caught Nagi's eyes and motioned toward the doors. Didn't even need telepathic communication there, the message was clear: Get them out of here.

It took too long, to get them all out. Too much rubber necking and whimpering and whining and offers to call for help. And then, in the sudden emptiness of the shop it was just them. Yohji, Ken, Aya-chan and him.

Nagi just looked at them. Half lost in his own thoughts, sorting it out because it didn't make sense. (He wouldn't do it this way. He *wouldn't.*) He stepped out of the way when the ambulance came, watched them lifting Aya-chan, ginger and careful. Didn't want to aggravate a head injury and they didn't know what it could be besides. Ken left with them, Yohji left to follow--flipping open his phone.

Calling Omi.

Nagi closed the shop down. Wasted time standing and looking at the spot where Aya-chan fell down. Lost in the flashback to his other life, before this one--standing in that crowd next to Schuldig, the slightest twitch of his telekinesis and the building was gone--exploded. Part of the plan, (*his* plan) of course. Knocked down the spectators, gasp and shock and such a pretty fucking distraction. Takatori took the credit for the idea--killing the Fujimiya's but it wasn't his idea. Not originally. The Fujimiya's weren't that important, not important enough for Schwarz to get involved--except for Aya-chan. The sacrifice. All those pretty fireworks so Schuldig could stand there and get inside her mind--easy with the shock and sudden crippling despair--shut her down as easy as spreading a smirk across his face.

He was at the hospital, standing in the waiting area, watching the time tick away. (Too early in the day, didn't make sense. *He* wouldn't have played it this way.) Waiting for Omi. Caught him by the arm when he got there, pulled him away from the other families waiting, to somewhere quiet.

Wasn't the right place, wasn't the right time, wasn't the right anything, but it was important that Omi knew and more important that he knew now. (Because even if *he* wouldn't have played it that way--didn't mean he hadn't changed. It had been three years since that building went down. Three years since he'd seen any of Schwarz.) More than that--if he didn't tell them now, they wouldn't trust him when he did tell them, and that would--complicate things. "Aya-chan never had a head injury," he said. Undertone. Felt the eyes looking at him and looked up to meet them. (I'm telling the truth and you won't like it--but believe me.) "Schuldig put her in that coma. That day with the explosion--" Had to tell him the whole truth, remind him that once you were the bad guy, not that he ever forgot. "I made sure she didn't get hurt. Schuldig put her out. If they tell you it’s a relapse--it’s not possible--not unless *he*'s doing it."
 
 
Listening to: Read My Mind (By The Killers!)