The first time was only for Luke -- Asch's -- benefit. After what's happened, it was only natural for the boy to cling him, to be close to the one person who has yet to leave him.
"You need me, don't you?" Asch asked, shifting in his lap and leaning his head against his chest. The boy seemed so small in his arms, so easy to crush and smother.
He smiled at him. "Of course I do. I don't want to be without you, no matter the name you have." Then he kissed the top of his head, moving a hand down to gently stroke his back, trying to relax him. "I love you, that hasn't changed."
Asch shivered at that and looked up at him with wide, pained eyes. "You mean it, Master Van?"
"I mean it," he said, cupping Asch's chin with his free hand. With a soft chuckle, he leaned down to kiss him again, the young boy's lips feeling so soft against his own. "You're my student, after all."
Asch needed it then. That night, he made certain that Asch knew he loved him.
The second time was out of necessity. After Asch turned fourteen, he began to notice the way he'd watch the other soldiers in training. It was hard to say when those looks changed from merely observing technique to something else entirely, but he knew that it would be much too dangerous to let those looks continue.
He asked Asch to come to his quarters and there he reminded him how much he cared for him, how he only wanted was best for him. He brought him to his bed and said, "If there's anything you need of me, I'll provide. You only need to say the word."
After that, Asch didn't look at any other. His eyes were only on him, as only he loved him.
"This was the last time," Asch says, already reaching for his uniform.
He frowns deeply but makes no move to dress himself. Instead he only asks, "Have you truly lost faith in me?"
Asch snorts at that. "Don't try that shit with me, I'm through with it."
"I see you have," he says, looking back at him, at how defined the muscles in Asch's arms have become over the years. The boy is closer to a man now but he's still as gorgeous as he ever was. It's such a shame he's chosen to defy him. "I still need you."
Asch continues to dress quietly, back turned toward him. But there is tension in his movements, as though this isn't what he truly wants. Asch knows as well as he does that it's for the best, even if he refuses to acknowledge that. "Then just get the replica. You're going to replace the entire world anyway."
Finally he stands, moving to stand behind Asch and places both hands on his shoulders, catching his tunic before he puts it on completely. "There is no replacement for you," he says, tightening his grip. "You are the only one I need. No other would do."
That causes Asch to stiffen so he relaxes his grip, moving his hands to pull the tunic down past his arms. There's no resistance, so he knows Asch still needs him, wants him.
"I still love you, Asch. And you love me as well."
And Asch doesn't bother to shout back, doesn't bother to tell him it's just a lie, just meaningless words. Because it's clear that he knows it's pointless.
This time is to make sure Asch never forgets who loves him above all else, never forgets who owns his heart.