Akihito crouched in a malodorous alley beneath the open window of the bathroom of the inappropriately named strip bar, Heaven's Gate. So far, he'd learned of two minor league drug deals, a disturbing predilection for junior high school age girls on the part of a city council member, and the amusing rumors of a heart-shaped mole on the left buttock of the Sumiyoshi-kai kumicho. Unfortunately, none of that was what he was waiting for, though he made a note of the council member's name while he continued to crouch in the filth.
He was really going to kill Mitarai this time. Why did he have to waste his Saturday night helping out that selfish prick again? And what was the idiot eating to get freaking diarrhea so often? One of these days, he really was going to have to learn to say no.
Mitarai and his scoop was forgotten, though, when the two men currently occupying the bathroom began to speak.
"Why'd'ya drag me in here? I was just about to get that girl's phone number! Did you see her? I could use her tits as pillows!"
"Shut up, you moron. You were running your mouth off. What did I tell you about that? Where do you think you are?"
"These whores don't know shit about Asami. Not high class enough," he slurred bitterly. "Besides, they're so coked up, if I did tell them about the bust they'd forget it the next second."
Akihito's stomach turned to ice.
"I said shut up!" Akihito heard the sound of a heavy thump as the angry man hissed. "Don't throw that name around so easily. You'd be surprised where he has eyes and ears. Chief'll take your balls off if you fuck this up."
Sounds of a scuffle sounded through the cracked-open window, as the drunk one exploded. "Shit! Don't fucking touch me. Think just because your uncle knows the Commissioner you can boss me around? Fuck you!"
"Calm down! And lower your voice! Do you even comprehend how hard it is to get anything on this man? It was pure luck we stumbled across this particular deal. It's huge."
Apparently, the angry one shoved his drunk friend against the wall again because Akihito heard another heavy thud and the drunk man groaned.
"Caught red-handed, even he won't be able to buy his way out of it."
Shit shit shit. This was not good. Akihito bit his lip, his fingers twisting nervously around the strap of his camera bag.
"All right! All right! I get it. Get the fuck off, asshole. I need to take a piss."
Akihito grimaced at the sound of the stream of urine being released, but his thoughts were whirling at a furious pace.
"Hey, Norio. Think we'll be famous for this? Get our pictures in the paper? Maybe get some free pussy?"
The man gave a short, disgusted laugh. "Yeah, right. Fuck, you're a piece of work. Just keep your mouth shut if you don't want to find yourself shuffling papers in Kyushu."
The two left, but Akihito stayed where he was, staring blindly down the alley as his mind spun out scenario after scenario where Asami ended up locked up or hurt or...or dead, and other ones where he stood triumphant, but surrounded by a pile of bodies, ankle-deep in blood. Even though the night was warm, Akihito shivered.
Slowly, he rose up, his feet finding their own way back to his Vespa. His mind was still a million miles away. Securing his bag, he got on and let the wind whip him into some kind of consciousness again.
The pain in his chest and in his gut made him feel like his insides were burning. Even his head had begun to throb, pressure settling in deep at the base of his skull, his temples, the bridge of his nose. He couldn't, wouldn't, think about his heart. God, it hurt so much.
He knew what he had to do. He felt the wrongness of it down to his bones, but he knew what he had to do. Asami's world was everything he hated. Maybe he wasn't as naive as he once was. He understood that corruption existed too in what was supposed to be good. But, still, he could never condone those things that Asami embraced.
I'm one of those things.
He pushed down the wave of sorrow, and pulled his Vespa pulled to a stop, and Akihito got off, entering the club where he knew Asami would be that night. He was stopped at the door.
"Tell Kirishima that Takaba is here and that I need to see Asami."
A moment later, he was ushered inside, Suoh coming to escort him to the office where Asami sat speaking with Kirishima and the club manager. Asami looked at him, his sharp gaze taking in every detail.
"Akihito. To what do I owe this visit?"
"I'm sorry to interrupt." Akihito looked at the manager, then back at Asami. "Could I speak to you for a few minutes."
Asami rose to his feet. "Yamada, we're through for tonight. Send me the revised report in the morning."
Yamada bowed and left as Asami came toward Akihito.
"What's wrong? You look pale."
"I...I have something I need to tell you."
Kirishima cleared his throat. "Shall I leave, Asami-sama?"
"You can stay," Akihito answered, staring at the floor, his throat tight and aching. "It's business."
Asami frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"Do you have a big deal coming up? Something really major?"
The frown got deeper. "Why are you asking that?"
"I heard something tonight." Akihito raised his eyes to Asami's. He was sure he probably looked as scared as he felt. "I don't know the details. But, I heard two cops talking tonight about you."
Asami's expression softened a little. No one else would have been able to tell, but Akihito could. The tiny lines around his eyes disappeared and their expression grew warmer.
"Did you?" was all he said.
"Yes." He took a shuddering breath. "They're planning a big bust. I don't know how they got the information, but they said it would be huge. And they seemed--they really seemed to think that they would be able to...to take you down."
"I see." Asami was regarding him thoughtfully, seemingly unaffected by the news of his impending peril.
"Is that all you have to say?" Akihito exploded. "You could be arrested, or shot, or...or..." Akihito's hands curled into fists and he whirled around, turning his back on Asami and struggling not to lose it.
A warm hand landed on his shoulder. "I won't discuss my business with you. You know that, Akihito. But I'll just say that in my experience, in cases where there might be deals such as you spoke of, then sometimes different parties might have gotten the wrong idea about exactly what was going down, as well as when and where. Those parties might have been fed deliberately incorrect information."
A burning shot of adrenaline spread through Akihito. His breath released in a whoosh, and he spun around to stare up at Asami. Overwhelming relief made his knees weak, and he blustered to cover up his uncontainable emotion.
"Hmph. I guess I should have known." But then he released a shaky sigh and ducked his head. "But...but I'm glad."
"Akihito." He shivered from the uncharacteristic tenderness in Asami's voice. Something he only sometimes caught a glimpse of in the midst of their coupling. He couldn't face it. Not now.
"There's something else I need to say." His stiff words were met by silence, and when he finally managed to force his gaze back to Asami he was shocked by the naked emotion on Asami's face.
Asami was frowning, a deep line between his eyebrows, though he didn't look angry. Akihito couldn't quite describe the mix of emotions he saw there.
Akihito gaped. "Don't what?"
"Don't say it. It doesn't matter anyway." Despite his expression, Asami sounded just as arrogant and high-handed as ever.
"What the hell are you talking about it?" Akihito got angry for the both of them.
"I know what you're going to say. You're going to say you want to leave. Be free of me. Haven't I told you a hundred times, that will never happen?"
Pain squeezed Akihito's heart. "It's...it's me, Asami."
Asami's bitter laugh drove the knife deeper. "I'm getting the, 'it's not you, it's me," treatment from a kid like you?"
"I mean it. I...can't lose myself, Asami. I'm so afraid..."
"You have nothing to be afraid of." Asami reached out and jerked him forward. "You are who you are and nothing can change that."
"Don't ever do this again." Asami looked ferocious, really angry now, almost desperate. "If you hear something, if you stumble across something, if something falls in your lap gift-wrapped, don't do it again. I don't need your help."
"I can't do that!" Akihito cried. "I can't! Because you come first now! You come first!"
He was crushed to Asami's chest, arms squeezing so tight around him he could scarcely breathe, but the scent of Asami enveloped him. Could he really give this up? Could he really? Distantly, he noted the soft click of the door as Kirishima exited discreetly.
"Don't leave me, Akihito." A fever of kisses was pressed to the crown of his head. Only once had he heard Asami's voice so intense, so raw. It was on the ship, holding him after Akihito had cried and asked him why he hadn't come sooner.
He couldn't. God help him--or more likely Satan--he couldn't walk away from him. Not now. Not ever.
His arms circled around Asami's waist, and his tears dampened the front of Asami's suit.
"If you try, I'll hunt you down," Asami said darkly. And, still, kisses pressed into his hair.
Akihito was so damned.
"Yeah, yeah, asshole, I know." He raised his face and tugged Asami down, murmuring against his lips. "To the ends of the Abyss."