On Ran's ninth birthday he allowed Aya-chan to dress him in their mother's clothes.
Giggling she adjusted a hat and applied heavy, red lipstick in a wavering line.
He made a face at her, but smiled as she tugged him in front of a mirror, towering in high heels several times too large for him. He refused to allow her to take a picture but spun her around in circles until they were both breathless and red-faced with laughter.
When Aya was seventeen he went undercover for a night at a bordello as a child prostitute.
His customer, a large, beefy man, preferred girls. Ran made a very striking prepubescent girl, red dress matching his red hair, allowed to grow long in preparation for the mission.
He tolerated the big man's touch for scant seconds before stabbing him with a well-concealed knife. He took out four more men on his way out. If it was a test then he passed it.
Aya was nineteen, weaponless and lacking any sort of clothing. That Yohji was in a similar state was not improving his mood. In fact Yohji's humor at the situation was making him decidedly grumpy.
The discovery of a short, satin robe, clearly feminine in nature, did nothing to abate his humor but it did provoke a disagreement over who got the robe. Aya reasoned that since Yohji was comfortable showing off his nude body to the world and Aya was not then naturally he had the better claim to it.
Yohji was clearly about to make a reply that would not only fail to provide any sort of counter-argument but also contain at least one crack about Aya's perceived prudishness, his virtue, or the lack of said virtue. Aya took the initiative and cut the reply short by seizing the robe. He belted it around his waist, saying to Yohji, “There. If you want it now you'll have to take it off me.”
He looked up just in time to see that Yohji had stopped laughing and had a most peculiar expression on his face. Something greedy but also fond. It made the hairs on the back of Aya's neck stand up, feeling the robe shift across his skin in a whispering, silky slide with every breath that he took.
Yohji abruptly turned away, his voice businesslike as he said, “Let's go then.”
And they left, successfully killing every guard that they came across as they made their escape. The whole instance was relegated to the far reaches of Aya's memory where it slept for a time.
Aya was twenty-two and hunting a creature of the night. More literal hunting than his job usually entailed.
The ambush that Omi had developed for their prey had gone awry with the arrival of Schwartz, and now they were scattered, each gone after a different quarry. Aya's had gone to ground somewhere close by, and he could surely find the man if Schuldig would quit pestering him.
“That can't be comfortable,” said Schuldig, lounging against a nearby post.
He was right, it wasn't. The heels were killing his feet. The weight of the non-existent earrings made his head ache and he could feel the wire of the brassier pinching him in places no man should be pinched. Nonetheless Aya persisted. He could handle whatever Schuldig deigned to dish out.
The oil drums on the far side of the room appeared empty, but really—his train of thought was interrupted by Schuldig clearing his throat.
“You really do look quite lovely, Ran,” he said appreciatively, eyes running up the length of Aya's newly exposed legs.
Aya eyed him with a certain amount of hostility, then thought better of it. Schuldig was a natural flirt, in much the same vein as Yohji. And in a similar manner deprecations merely seemed to encourage him.
Aya slowly turned towards Schuldig, fueled not so much by thought as by some half-forgotten instinct. He stepped forward deliberately and leveled his gaze at Schuldig, expressionless. “See something you like, Schuldig?” His skin felt hot and tight, blood adrenaline-hot. He moved his feet, every step bringing him closer to Schuldig, who'd gone still as a statue. “Is it me or is it the clothes? Would you get your thrills from any boy dressed like this? Perhaps you'd like me on my knees?” He said the last in a whisper almost directly into Schuldig's ear.
The world was still for a moment and then Aya was whirling around to fling his sword into the back of the man trying to creep away.
Behind him Schuldig began to slowly clap.
Aya turned around, raising his eyebrows at the man. He felt his clothes return to normal, heels and earrings vanish.
“Well played,” said Schuldig, lips twisting. “But just for the record--” and in a flash he was suddenly in Aya's face, breath on his lips--” it is you.” For an instant breath on lips became lips on lips. Aya reached out to bite down, but Schuldig was already a dozen feet away, raising his hand in an ironic salute. “Next time, Abyssinian, I'll have you on your knees.”
And then he was gone.
Aya went to retrieve his blade, wiping at his lips absently.
Aya was twenty-five and zero days old. He stood by his sister's bedside and took several items out of a tote bag.
The dress, a white shimmer of silk that fell in soft waves over his hips. He still had their mother's dresses but recently he'd begun acquiring his own.
This one was a gift.
The stockings went on next, sliding over recently shaved legs, catching a bit on his knees. He tugged them into place with practiced motions. Next, jewelry, makeup and finally the shoes. The shoes he had bought himself. They had rhinestones on the back of the heels that flashed in the sunlight. He'd spent a lot of time learning to wear them properly, both on his knees and off them.
Aya liked to think, when he thought about it at all, that Aya-chan would have liked to see him like this. Perhaps not with the laughter that she'd had for him as a child (no, perhaps not) but still she would have liked it. He didn't think it often, didn't think about her often, for how can you think about your heart when it's gone?
His heart had broken eight years ago (but no, his heart was in this room).
He sat at her bedside while the light in the window slowly dimmed and when it was full dark he took off the dress, the shoes, makeup, stockings and jewelry, packed it carefully into the tote and turned away. He did not look back.