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"Yoji, what the hell is wrong with you?" Ken whispered at me as he walked past with a huge potted plant.

"You don't wanna know." If I sat behind the counter people would be less likely to notice. Plus, walking around wasn't as easy as usual.

Damn, I was horny. Stupid horny. The kind of horny where adding numbers or cutting stems became too much of an intellectual challenge.

"You're more useless than usual, you know? If you don't get your ass in gear, Aya's gonna throw a fit."

He had to mention asses, didn't he? "I'll take my chances."

How horny was I? So horny that part of me found the thought of Aya punishing me kind of hot. I mean, Aya! If any guy could make punishment annoying, interminable, and not hot, he had to be the guy.

"Your funeral. And here's the undertaker. I'll be across the room. Bye."


Yeah, Aya stood in front of me looking really displeased. He'd been stripping thorns off the roses so he had those goofy thick gloves on and reeked of rose petals and stems, the smell thick and almost overpowering to a guy in my state of heightened sensual awareness. His baggy clothes and apron hid most of the rest of him, though his short sleeves showed off his arms a bit. Dunno what work he'd done after Weiß disbanded after Takatori's execution, but it had broadened his shoulders and added more muscle to him.

And I was so on edge that it made me hotter. Shit. I liked my lays to be women or slim boys (over 18 years of age, of course). Even with the long earring, Aya had been getting too manly for a while.

He raised one of his elegant, deadly eyebrows then grabbed my wrist and dragged me to the back. Being attached to that wrist, I followed. This shouldn't be sexy either, although the sudden increase in fangirl volume told me that I was alone in thinking that.

Aya closed the door, then said, "Yoji, get a hold of yourself." He shook his head. "No, not like that. Certainly not in front of me."

Not like what? Oh. Heh. "Like what?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about. You looked like you were about to jump one of the customers or a potted plant."

Ken hadn't seen the cause of my problem but Aya had noticed? "Hey! One, I'm particular."

"No, you're not."

"No backtalking. It's 'me' time here."

"With you, 'me' time is all the time."

"Two, I would never jump somebody who wasn't willing to be jumped."

"I'm sure one of the fans would be a willing participant. Then she'd tell all of her perverted friends and they'd all wait around here getting underfoot, squealing, buying nothing, and desperately hoping you snap again."

"You're... probably right. But what can I do? I'm useless at work. Maybe I should just call off."

"I'm not letting you call off horny. It would set a dangerous precedent. Besides, I don't want to hear the voices you'd put on as you called in to say you weren't com-- weren't showing up at work."

Was Aya blushing a little? Hard to tell with him hiding behind his hair a bit. But the way he kept struggling to straighten his mouth suggested he was having some trouble. I couldn't resist the urge to torture, especially not when it appeared that Aya had the dirty mind to keep up after all. Did he always have it, or was there something in the air today turning both of us more perverted than usual?

"So you'll let me have a jerk-off break?"

Aya twitched. "I'm sure you'd be finished in less than 15 minutes, but I don't know if I want to start a precedent there either."

"It would be like one of my cigarette breaks, only with dick instead of cigarettes!"

"You are not smoking your d--" That was a blush. Aya's pale, pale skin looked like it would be cold, but his cheeks would be warm for sure now, wouldn't they? Aya backed away from my fingertips so fast that I couldn't get any feel for skin, but his red hair felt almost warm. "I'm not playing this game."

Wanted him. He wasn't my type, but he was pretty and dirty-minded after all and so anal and tight-assed that he had to-- Okay, even I couldn't finish the last part of that. "C'mon, help me out here, Aya."

"Take care of yourself. Out of my sight. Somewhere I can't hear you."


"Am I supposed to be flattered that you'd want me when you're so desperate you're one step away from molesting the potted plants?"

I could help noticing that the man-on-man thing didn't qualify as a problem. To my amazement, I was picking up more information on Aya in a few minutes in the backroom today than I had from working with him for years. "You're much better than a potted plant."

"Thanks for noticing. Get out of here. Take a break. Take care of yourself. Somewhere else. Without me. Come-- Return when some of the blood flow is going back to your brain."

"Aya." I had him backed up against a wall now, and he did feel warmer than he looked. Hard in all kinds of places too, which I didn't like much of usually but worked really well for me today.

"I'm not a toy!"

"Not a toy. I know. I wouldn't use you."

If he wanted to hurt me, he could, frequently homicidal nutjob that he was, but he wasn't fighting me. He wanted me but also wanted to get the right concessions from me before he put out. My women did that too. As I kissed the side of his neck I could feel his pulse pound against my lips.

I wondered how experienced he was. He was so secretive that we hadn't known about his sister until Omi had stumbled onto her, so for all I knew he might go out fucking men all the time. Hell, virginal or experienced slut, he'd still be hot, just in different ways.

A sudden pain exploded in my stomach, dropping me to my knees. By the time I was thinking straight I heard the door locking and didn't see Aya in the room anymore. Okay, "virginal" seemed more likely now. Did he get so flustered that he forgot that locks didn't get in my way?

No, he didn't, because when I tried opening the door after unlocking it I couldn't from what was probably a chair carefully and strategically placed under the doorknob on the other side. "Aya!"

No answer. Damn it! He couldn't let this go on for long, right? Yeah, he could be fucking unreasonable, but he'd only keep me in here a little while, just long enough to teach me a lesson, right?

Ken would have to come looking for me.

After a half hour, I figured I might as well jerk off. It looked like I'd be in here for a while. I imagined Aya on his knees, sucking me off to make up for being such an asshole....

An hour after that Ken finally opened the door while laughing all the way. "The really sad thing is that the shop runs about the same without you working as it does when you're supposedly on the job. Actually, it's better without you encouraging the fangirls to squeal over you."

"Funny," I said as I followed him out. "You guys finally came to your senses about leaving me in here?"

"Omi came home from school, and he's sensitive, so we decided to set you free."

"So I owe my freedom to you guys not wanting to upset Omi?" Jeez.

"You must have really pissed Aya off."

"Like that's hard!" Unfortunately, thinking about him still got me hard. You'd think the wank session would have taken the edge off.

"Nah, you really got to him this time. He's got, like, this dark 'kill' aura going on. Even the fangirls are avoiding him."

"Got to him, huh?" I purred.

Ken put on a stern look. "Remember, Omi's here so don't mess with Aya in front of him. Aya's already in a bad mood. He could blow."

I could wish.

Looking annoyed, Ken asked, "You don't take any of us seriously, do you, Yoji?"

"Sure I do."

Ken shot me an almost disgusted look. "Sure."

Aya avoided me through the rest of our shift, somehow managing to be on the other end of the room or in the back or behind the counter. For a guy who played at being distant from and unconcerned with the rest of the world, he kept track of me pretty damned well. Although I felt him watching me sometimes, every time I looked he had his eyes pointed elsewhere or down. It was fucking uncomfortable. I couldn't even get close enough to whisper to him. Sure, I could have shouted something, but I didn't want to call that much attention to us, which would kill any chance I had with him.

Shit, I hoped I hadn't ruined things. This kind of squirminess would make it impossible to work together.

Eventually we started to close for the day, and I had luck on my side, because Ken had some soccer thing going on, Omi had homework to do, and Aya would never leave in the middle of counting the cash register's take. I brought the metal security gate down then went to stand by the counter next to him. Although he ostentatiously ignored me, I could feel his attention to me and see his distraction from his counting.

Finally he resentfully stared up at me through his long red bangs. "If you can't be useful, go somewhere else."

"We left something unfinished."

"I returned to my senses, and I'm sure you jerked off. I have to be much less attractive now that the desperation has worn off."

"You might think that, but no."

He went still. "That's not funny. I don't fit any of your types."

"You've watched me enough to figure out my types? Kind of suggests you care."

The person who came up with the idea of looks that could kill should have met Aya.

"Aya, I got to see a side of you I've never seen before today--"

"My weak side," he growled.

"--and I liked what I saw. I mean it. No games."

He sounded angry and somewhat miserable. "My sister is missing. I'm not going to jeopardize our working relationship to get off with you once and then have you giving me smug looks for the rest of your life. Which, I assure you, would be short."

"I was thinking more like we can improve our working relationship and get off together whenever we feel like it. No strings."

"So I'm here for you when you don't feel like going out to chase people?"

Annoyed, I asked, "You don't think much of me, do you?"

"I don't trust anyone, remember?" he snapped back. "I prefer to know where I stand, and being fuckbuddies with you has too much uncertainty attached to it."

As if he had the right to demand commitment when the only person who really mattered--hell, existed--to him was his sister. I'd bring it up, but I didn't know if I'd survive angry sex with him... if he didn't just try to punch me and leave me unconscious on the floor instead. Besides, he could claim the moral high ground of not being the one looking for sex.

I never put this much effort into it. All the guys and a lot of the women mostly consisted of "You're hot. Wanna drink?" followed eventually by "You're hot. Wanna fuck?" Then again, I still had to see Aya afterward.

"What do you want?" I asked. "Cuddling together on couches watching romantic movies and whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears? Clinging to each other? Candy and flowers and stuffed animals?"

"No." Aya had one of his "ew" faces on.

"Me neither."

"...I like some candy."

Fuck. I felt like I was taking advantage. Of Aya. He seemed younger right now. He seemed... closer to his actual age. I had to remember that he might look like that but none of us had ever seen him go on a night out. He'd take off now and then but never dressed for a date. I couldn't help asking, "Have you... gotten around at all?"

"Gotten a-- I'm not an innocent, Yoji. I've done things."

I'd definitely stung his pride. Good. "Things?"

"None of your business. I really doubt you ask your other potential lays for references."

If I played to his offended pride right, he'd fall right into my hands.

Damn, I needed my ass kicked. If I knew of someone trying to play Omi the way I was trying to play Aya, I'd kick the guy or girl's ass. Knowing Omi, probably guy.

I might not always like Aya--sometimes he needed his head bashed in--but I respected him. Although he could be oblivious to other people, he had his moments of compassion and consideration. He'd been far kinder to me after all that shit with Neu than I'd expected or deserved, especially considering that I'd been a total dick to him and me believing in Neu had given her the opportunity to toy with him about his missing sister.

This wasn't like when you picked up someone clubbing who kept his or her most attractive face on for the few hours you'd be together; when you saw someone every day you got to see all of them, good and bad. I knew his most annoying habits. I'd seen him dirty, bleeding, defeated, in shock, half-dead. He could be rude and condescending and intensely selfish.

I liked him anyway. "You're right."

"You admit it? That's a change."

"I like you."

"You're not supposed to," he answered, then stiffened the tiniest bit.

I noticed it anyway. We weren't supposed to like him? We'd thought for years that he could be an asshole just from not realizing how he came off, but had he actually been working to keep us at arms' length? I couldn't believe he did that at all times--he did the clueless thing too well sometimes for it to be an act--but it gave me another new puzzle piece of him, which gave me such a buzz. Once an investigator, always an investigator. Sometimes, getting the dirt on people and putting it together could be better than sex.

He didn't want us to like him or get in close. Why?

"But I do," I said, "and I'd like to get to know you better."

He looked almost sick at the thought. Why, Aya? What do you think we'd see if you let us in?

"Are you getting off on talking to me?" He sounded disgusted.

"The mind is the foremost erogenous zone."

"Your mind wasn't doing anything this morning."

"Maybe not, but it's working hard now. I'm still interested in you, Aya, even after you kept me prisoner in the backroom." Which would have been hot under other circumstances. "Don't you think that means something?"

"I think you've lost your mind. If being locked up alone for hours gets you hot, I can happily do that for you. If you want more, you should turn your predatory instincts elsewhere. You'll only find frustration here."

Did Aya see me as predatory or did he consider any interest in him predatory? When not out killing people he tended to wear plain or baggy clothing, as if trying to be as forgettable as he could, and he hid behind his long bangs a bit. Or did he just consider any sexual interest in him predatory?

"Stop finding me interesting! I'm not interesting," Aya said, seemingly in response to me looking at him.

Sad, Aya. Really sad. "I have to disagree."

"You're an idiot."

At some point I'd instinctively moved to make up back up against the counter, and I had him nearly pinned there, not close enough to touch him but close enough to be a presence and obstruction to him getting away. I saw him realize it now, in a flicker of panic in his face that turned to frustration and anger. While I enjoyed sparring him with words and digging out new tidbits on him, talking didn't seem to be working. Even though no one would consider conversation to be one of Aya's strong points, here he had excuses ready for everything. Maybe I should just show him....

After doing a quick check of the counter to make sure Aya couldn't grab a letter opener, pair of scissors, or pruning shears to use against me, I kissed him, holding him loosely enough that he wouldn't feel trapped and carefully putting my hands on areas that wouldn't scream, "rape time now." If I hadn't taken some of the edge off earlier I never would have been able to keep track of all that. I used light touches and gentle kisses. If I'd tried this earlier I would have ended up holding my guts in my hands.

He froze in surprise, then melted into it somewhat, wanting it, though I remembered how suddenly and well he'd surprised and attacked me earlier. As he parted his lips a bit I tasted cinnamon spice and sweetness, maybe from a candy he'd been sucking on. Damn, he felt good, and I rubbed against him, wanting more, though not really insistently or slutty like, just brushing my body against his and my lips against his as a "this is what it's like to be touched, Aya, and how nice it can be." He yielded to me, seemingly starved for touch.

When I felt resistance rebuilding in his muscles, I let go and stepped back before he could try to castrate me or something, which gave me a good view of him leaning against the counter, dazed and mussed and obviously confused that I'd let him go on my own. Getting sex here tonight looked like more and more of an impossibility, which sucked, but today I'd learned that Aya had a dirty mind, a sense of humor, soft hair, a sweet mouth, more mysteries than I'd realized, and an aversion to anyone taking an interest in him. How many people had seen him this way? Not many, I figured, which made this Aya my little secret. Now I really wanted him, and it looked like it would take patience to get him.

I could get sex anywhere, and far easier than this. Intriguing mysteries needed and deserved more finesse. Anybody who'd knock my sex drive, though, should remember that me getting so horny and vocal about it had led to me finding out this stuff about Aya.

Still staring, lost, he licked his lips, and it took everything I had not to come in close to him again. He murmured, "You...."

"I can take no for an answer. I can wait until it becomes yes. We'll take this up again after we get your sister back, and we will get her back." That would also give me more time to observe him, figure him out, and work on him. He said he liked candy, so I could start there...

He actually looked more horrified before he blanked out his expression. What? Oh, right, the not wanting to be known or noticed thing. I'd have to get him over that.

Aya had an almost defensive stance, as if he expected to be attacked, so it looked like I'd definitely taken him as far as he could go today. I didn't do unwilling people, and I wasn't changing that now. If I played things right, he wouldn't be unwilling eventually.

"Good night, Aya," I said as I started to leave, enjoying the stunned look on his face. Maybe he'd expected and wanted to be pushed further? Another time, Aya. Pleased, I was whistling.

On my way out, I heard him mutter, "He's insane. And an idiot." I'd have to work on changing that Aya reaction too.