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"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

Squall was all glower under his bangs, looking decidedly nervous and likely to bolt at any minute.

"It's worth a try, man," Irvine soothed. "What's the worst that can happen?"

Squall stopped walking. The brightly coloured awning and vivid flowers outside the Koneko shone like a beacon in the otherwise drab street ahead of them.

"They could laugh at us," said Squall. "They might hate us. What if they regret what we did, and...."

"They won't," said Irvine, fingering Yohji's business card in his pocket like a charm. "You don't, do you?"

Squall flashed him a look, worry ameliorated by a spark of lust.

"No, I don't," he said. "But that doesn't mean...."

"Squall, babe, they're the only people we know in Tokyo. All we're doing is asking if they know anywhere that might hire a couple of weird looking guys who can't do much 'cept kill things, lead armies and save worlds."

Squall looked around him. "You wouldn't think it would be so hard," he complained, resignation seeping into his voice. "If ever a fucking world needed saving, it's this one."

Irvine chuckled, although he didn't miss the conviction behind Squall's words. The man really was an honest-to-gods hero, and he had no idea of the fact whatsoever. Which, along with his cross expression and the soft, dark hair falling in his eyes, made him completely adorable.

"Let's just ask, babe," he coaxed gently. "If they give us the brush off.... well, at least we've tried, eh?"

Squall sighed deeply. "I suppose."

"It's got to be better than another day answering ads from the paper. I don't know about you, but signing up to be experimented on doesn't do it for me."

Squall shuddered. "There was something very.... wrong about that," he said.

"Most of the work round here seems to be fucking creepy," said Irvine. "There's something not right about this city, and I think if we're going to settle here we need help."

"You're right," said Squall, and set his sights on the brightly-coloured shop front of the Koneko with renewed conviction.

* * * * * * *

Yohji was leaning on the counter by the cash register, chin propped on his elbows. He yawned.

Aya paused, broom in hand, and hid a smile behind a cough. It wouldn't do at all for Yohji to find out that his laziness was in any way amusing.

"Tired?" he asked, casually.

"Bored," said Yohji, kicking the counter with one booted foot. "Is it time for lunch yet?"

"Another hour yet, Kudoh," supplied Ken from behind a gaggle of potted arrangements he was finishing for one of the local hotels. "I suppose it's too much to suggest you could do some actual work?"

"This is work," protested Yohji in an offended tone. "It's not my fault there's no customers. If there were I'd be only too happy to take their money. I expect you're frightening them away with those stupid great palm things you put outside this morning."

Ken glared at him. "You could at least do some arrangements while you're sat there."

Yohji's look of hurt switched to outrage. "They're your arrangements! Mine are all done."

"Because Omi did them for you this morning."

"So that I could look for more churches for you and Aya to visit, which I did, thank you very much. And, by the way, have you visited all of the ones on your list from yesterday?"

Ken humphed and was suddenly very interested in the precise positioning of a small piece of foliage.

"Ha!" Yohji gloated. "I bet Aya has."

"No," Aya confessed quietly, driving his pile of sweepings savagely into the growing heap by the wall. He'd done all he could stomach, but he hated Christian churches, all those stark crosses that mocked him with a promise of forgiveness he knew he had no right to.

"Hey, Aya...." Yohji's soft purr of concern was interrupted by the cheerful ring of the bell as the shop door opened.

Aya raised his eyes, aware that his expression was far from welcoming, but not knowing how to change it. Then his breath was snatched away by the sight of a tall man striding into the shop, waist-length auburn hair snagged in a low ponytail. Aya had a vivid memory of that hair spread out across Yohji's pillows, thick and glorious.

"Kinneas," he murmured, a tiny smile twitching at the corner of his mouth.

A broad grin was spreading across Yohji's face meanwhile, and he sat up, all traces of boredom vanished from his face.

Squall edged in behind Irvine, his eyes scanning the room swiftly and expertly, until they settled on Aya. The two of them shared a grim nod of greeting.

"I'll go see if Omi needs any help out back," grunted Ken, and stalked out of the shop, although nobody took any notice.

Irvine was approaching Yohji with a distinctly predatory gleam in his violet eyes.

"Yohji," he drawled, drawing the name out like a contented sigh.

"Irvine," Yohji murmured, still grinning. He extended one hand to be shaken.

Irvine clasped it firmly, with a little squeeze, letting his fingertips whisper tantalisingly over Yohji's palm as he let go. He saw a spark of almost-friendship in Yohji's emerald eyes, and knew in that moment that everything was alright. They really were welcome here.

"I need some advice," said Irvine, his expression soft, locking Yohji's eyes to his.

"I'll do what I can," said Yohji, completely lost in Irvine's indigo gaze.

"I need a present for someone."

"Flowers?" suggest Yohji, rather obviously.

"For someone with the sexiest eyes in Tokyo."

"Eyes?" Yohji had the feeling he was working to a familiar script here, but something felt odd and he couldn't quite place it.

"Among other things."

That was his line. Definitely. That's what was wrong.

Aya snorted with laughter.

"What.... other things, exactly?"


Squall edged over to where Aya stood watching the two professional flirts. "We need a job," he said quietly, not knowing how to preface the issue. "Do you know of anyone? Jobs in this town are ..."

"Strange," Aya agreed, nodding slowly. Irvine laughed, and the two looked over at the sound. Yohji and Irvine were grinning broadly, Yohji almost flushed. Squall coughed and looked down. Aya's gaze flickered back to him, and he nodded again. "I could talk to Kudoh."

"We'd appreciate it," Squall said slowly, not begrudging the words but unused to saying them. "We didn't arrive with much in the way of local currency."

"I guess not," Aya mused, running a speculative eye over Squall's clothing. "You ... do you have enough for a hotel, until we can find work? You could stay here."

"We wouldn't want to impose." Irvine and Yohji were leaning so close together over the counter that their noses all but touched. "And..." a frown creased the scar between his eyes, "... we don't know a lot about flowers, I'm afraid."

There was a loud bang from the back of the shop as Ken returned, cradling a steel bucket full of greenery in his arms. He glared at the almost-touching Yohji and Irvine on his way past. "Can't you two control your... them? They'll put the customers off."

Squall prickled, and Aya caught his arm, drawing him further back toward the greenhouse. "Back off, Ken," he growled, drawing Yohji's attention. Irvine followed Yohji's gaze to the growing conflict.

"Hey, Kenken," Yohji drawled. "Isn't it time you went and ticked a few more churches off the list?"

Ken glowered, and Squall started forward again feeling a threat, but Ken just threw down the bucket and left without a word.

"Prick," Aya muttered, tugging gently on Squall's arm.

"I could beat him up again," Squall offered, finally following Aya out of the main part of the shop with a last reassuring glance toward Irvine. Aya pulled him through the kitchen, out of the backdoor and across a narrow alley, through a sliding door that led to... a greenhouse. Aya closed the door behind them. "What are we doing?" Squall asked, looking curiously around the warm, slightly stuffy glasshouse. It was packed with plants and smelt rich and earthy, a bit like the forests of Timber.

"It's safer to talk in here," Aya explained. "More private."

"Talk about what?" Squall turned away from brushing his fingers through the fronds of a fern, meeting Aya's eyes evenly. "Are we flirting?"

Aya blinked. "Um, about the job idea. I think you should stay here."

"Ken's already a problem," Squall murmured, shaking his hair into his eyes.

"He doesn't have to be. I just need to talk to Yohji about something, but I think everything will turn out for the best."

Squall swallowed, glancing up through his fringe. "I trust you," he whispered. "We'll stay."

"Good." Aya's mouth twitched into a half-smile. "It'll be alright with Kinneas?"

Squall nodded. "I outrank him," he said with an answering almost-grin.

Aya smirked a little. "Yohji would make a joke of that."

"And Irvine would make an insinuation," Squall said, his smile widening and closer to genuine. He blinked down, took a step back. "I should tell Irvine," he said quietly.

"Of course." Aya looked down at his feet for a moment, then intently at one of the plants on the bench. His fingers brushed very, very accidentally against Squall's as he tenderly stroked the leaves.

Squall drew in a quick breath. "I could tell him in a few minutes," he said slowly.

"That would... yes." And Aya meshed his fingers through Squall's and kissed his palm, eyes flaring at Squall's sudden gasp of breath. Then they were kissing, urgently and a little awkwardly at first, but quickly finding the rhythm they'd shared that night on Yohji's bed. Squall made a soft keening noise in the back of his throat that turned into a grunt as Aya's hand slipped down to tangle with his belts.

He worked a little clumsily, brushing his hands against the seam of Squall's jeans with each movement, and Squall fell back against one of the low tables, knocking over a small orchid and bracing himself with straining hands. "Just a minute," Aya said, not mocking him now with Squall looking so desperate and so pretty with it, hair in his ocean-colored eyes, mouth open a little and gasping.

"Hurry?" Squall moaned, unreasonably hard, erect since they'd decided to come down here and Aya just making it worse. Or better.

"So many damn belts," muttered Aya, but he didn't sound entirely irritated.

"Let me." Squall deftly flipped the last buckle, leaving Aya free to take care of the zip and delve into his pants.

The greenhouse door squeaked, then opened on the brighter light of the main shop. Aya's hand stilled, and Squall looked warily toward the door.

"What have we here?" Yohji purred, leaning on the doorframe, a bit slinky, a bit of a sexy grin that was echoed in Irvine's wider smirk.

"Starting without us?" The cowboy stepped fully into the greenhouse, hands in his back pockets like he hadn't a care in the world. The picture would've been more convincing if not for the lusting gleam in his eyes, the shape of his cock clearly delienated even through denim.

"Being discreet," said Aya, pointedly. He didn't take his hand away, and Squall met Irvine's lacivious gaze with a mix of confusion and lust.

"I'll have you know we've been the picture of gentlemanly conduct," said Yohji. "Do you see my hands down anyone's pants? I think not."

"Gentlemanly conduct is overrated," Irvine countered, moving toward Aya and Squall with a gait more liquid than not. "They seem to be having much more fun."

"You could always join us," Squall murmured, staring at Irvine, unable to look away.

"You're just jealous, Kudoh," said Aya with a hint of a smirk, leaning in close to kiss Squall's neck.

"So pretty," murmured Irvine. "What d'you say, Yohji? Want to join in, or show them how it's done?"

"I think you should join in," Squall said again, his hips thrusting up involuntarily with each teasing movement of Aya's hand.

"I like that idea," Aya said with a purr of his own. "Yohji?"

"Looks like they're insisting." Yohji winked at Irvine. "You take the redhead, I'll take the one with the tight arse."

"Hmm..." Irvine ran his eyes appraisingly over Aya's body. "I do love a redhead."

"You're a redhead, too," Aya murmured, letting Irvine pull him away from Squall, Yohji slipping between to keep Squall pinned to the work table.

"Nothing wrong with a little self-love," Irvine joked. He pulled Aya against him matching the lengths of their bodies, Aya tilting his head back to pierce him with violet eyes.

Squall watched them almost helplessly, Yohji kissing the sensitive curve of his neck and his hands clutching at Yohji's shoulders while his lover flirted with Aya. Near strangers, and he didn't know why he trusted them this much, this soon, but there was a sense Yohji would never hurt him and Yohji's hands sliding beneath Squall's leather jacket, one up to support him at the center of his back, the other down to fondle his arse through leather jeans.

"Aya always has that effect on me, too," he purred, grinding his hip into the ridge of iron in Squall's jeans.

"Not just Aya," Squall muttered, and pushed up and round and into Yohji, anything to lessen the ache. Over Yohji's shoulder he could see Irvine claiming Aya, clamping his mouth on the man's smooth, sleek neck and sucking. Bending him back over one arm, effortless and beautiful.

Yohji was preening at the compliment, and Squall used his distraction to slip to his knees, suddenly so tired of being the timid one, wanting to feel Yohji's hips beneath his hands, his teeth closing on the zip of Yohji's jeans because Irvine never let a teaching opportunity pass them by, working Yohji's cock into his mouth just to feel those hands tighten painfully in his hair.

"Oh God," Yohji breathed, hips surging forwards, so fast Squall spluttered, almost choked. "Sorry, fuck, are you okay?"

But Squall didn't answer, just set about swallowing Yohji's flesh again, better angle this time, jaw wide and tongue flat, breathing hard through his nose.

Yohji tasted good. Different from Irvine, different from Aya, even; kind of creamy and salty and very male. Intoxicating. Squall backed off a bit, flicked his tongue around Yohji's shaft, looking up through ragged bangs to find Yohji looking down at him, pure desire written all over his beautiful face.

It made Squall want to try harder, to make this perfect, and knowing he couldn't swallow all of Yohji's length he shifted his hold on Yohji's hips and tugged a little. Hoping the other man would understand wanting to try.

"Here," Yohji said softly, and gently tilted Squall's head a little further back. "Relax your throat. That's it. Bit at a time..." He rocked his hips very slowly forwards, watching his cock disappear inch by inch between Squall's moist, slightly-swollen lips.

Somewhere behind him, Aya gasped.

Squall pressed his eyes closed, knew they were watching and the head of Yohji's cock caught at the back of his throat. He peered at Irvine and Aya through lowered lashes, Irvine on his knees and Aya watching Squall with an open-mouthed amazement that sent a bolt of heat to Squall's cock. His throat finally relaxed, opened, and he swallowed a bit as his nose pressed against Yohji's groin.

"Shit," and this time not Yohji, definitely not Irvine, whose mouth was as full as Squall's, but Aya, who was staring hungrily, fingers twining almost absently through Irvine's hair.

"Pretty, isn't he?" said Yohji, his voice tight, cock pulsing against Squall's tongue. "So damn pretty..."

Squall tugged Yohji's hips again. Fuck me. Fuck my mouth. Give them something to stare at.

"Hey, sugar," Irvine drawled, looking up at Aya with a challenge in his eyes. "What d'you say we show them how it's done?"

Squall pulled back for a moment, licked his lips and Yohji made a distressed little sound. "We're competing now?" he asked Irvine, meeting his lover's eyes past Yohji's impatiently-flexing hips. Irvine just grinned at him, Aya glancing over as anxious as Yohji, and Squall's mouth stretched into the same fierce smirk that came upon him unawares in every battle. "You're on," he said, and looked up at Yohji.

"Oh yeah," Yohji said. "Go for it, man."

"How does the winner get decided?" Aya asked, idly stroking his cock while Irvine settled himself on his knees as if he were preparing for the start to a sprint.

"I ..." Squall stopped, mouth open slightly, completely at a loss. He looked up at Yohji again. "Whoever makes the most noise?" He said, the words more of a question.

Yohji just laughed. "Sounds good to me, babe," he said cheerfully, caressing Squall's cheek with a gentleness almost at odds with his tone.

"No fair!" Irvine yelped. "I've got the quiet one!"

"It might not be an idea to encourage him," said Aya in a voice so soft it only confirmed Irvine's fears. "Omi has good hearing and we're not that far from the shop."

"And any potential customers," Irvine pointed out unhelpfully. Squall's brows fell into a scowl.

"Then what do you suggest?" he asked, beginning to lose enthusiasm for the whole endeavor.

"Whoever comes first," said Irvine. "The loser buys dinner tonight. For four." He winked at Aya, who looked determined, if not entirely confident.

"You may as well go straight to the cash machine, Aya," said Yohji. "Eh, Squall?"

The mention of money sent a guilty pang through Squall's chest, but Yohji was grinning, and even Aya looked amused by the idea, so he just nodded, and licked the head of Yohji's cock.

"Hey. We haven't started yet," Irvine protested.

"Better get started then," said Aya, and jerked his hips forwards.

Irvine took his cock down his throat in one go with no protest, although his eyes watered a little.

Squall looked up at Yohji, his tongue making patterns over silky skin, teeth just barely grazing. Trying to remember if there was anything, that night, that Yohji had really, really liked...

Irvine had Aya in his throat now, swallowed once and pressed his hands against Aya's hips, pulling the smaller man forward. Get him to thrust, he likes that, and tugged a little more when Aya didn't move, didn't do anything more than moan low and ragged and pull at Irvine's hair.

"Just suck the head," Yohji whispered. "There, like that..."

"No cheating, Kudoh," Aya growled. There was a flush to his cheeks, and his fingers in Irvine's hair were trembling a little.

Squall wasn't sure what the rules were, didn't much care. He liked the feel of Yohji's cock in his mouth, he liked the way Yohji's belly fluttered, how Yohji's thighs trembled when he squirmed a hand between them, fingers easing into the valley between his buttocks, seeking out his hole. Teasing around the rim until Yohji right out moaned.

Aya tugged sharply at Irvine's hair, and Irvine rose up on his knees, taking Aya down into his throat again, hearing Yohji's constant low keening and something like a whimper from Squall. Irvine opened his eyes, dizzy with the effort or lack of air, and stroked Aya's hip gently. Squall had come so far from his virginal days. He didn't deserve. Irvine stilled his tongue, and taking Aya by the waist swung them both just far enough around so that Aya was braced against the table. If nothing else, Aya wouldn't feel bad about losing.

"Oh yeah," Yohji growled. "Right about-"

"Aya-kun! Yohji-kun!"

"Gah!" Yohji's hips rocked back, his cock wrenched from Squall's mouth so fast it must have hurt, and throwing Squall off balance so that he would have fallen backwards in an undignified heap if his reactions weren't so finely honed.


The kid, Omi, stood in the doorway, eyes round as dinner plates, cheeks flushed red.

Squall hadn't even heard the door open.


Irvine disengaged a bit more carefully, dragging himself up Aya's shirtfront to block Omi's view. Aya was panting, and his eyes were wide. Deer in headlights. "Hey, it's cool," Irvine murmured, buttoning Aya's jeans in a stealthy motion. When he turned around, Aya and he were both compeltely decent. Yohji was still fumbling with his fly, and Squall was sitting cross-legged on the ground. He appeared to be sulking.

"Omi, hi," Irvine began. Someone would have to smooth this over.

But Omi's eyes were fixed on Aya's. He seemed to have got over the shock of finding his friends in such a compromising position very rapidly. Perhaps they did this sort of thing more often than he'd guessed, Irvine mused to himself.

"Manx is here," said Omi.


Squall sat at the kitchen table quietly, stirring a spoon through a bowl of dissolving cereal, color swirling through milk and sugar gritting against porcelain. Irvine watched him from his perch on the counter, grinning just a little.

"That's disgusting," Irvine said, still smiling. Absolutely not planning to tell Squall that he looked about four years old.

Squall threw down the spoon. "Who do you think this Manx is?"

"Dunno." Irvine shrugged. "Fucking sexy, though. Did you see those legs? Yohji so wants to give her one. And breasts..." He sighed wistfully.

"Irvine, this is serious." Squall glanced down, unable to watch Irvine lusting after yet another stranger right now. "They stopped everything for her. She's important, Irvine." He shook his head, unable to articulate exactly what he was feeling. "It could be related to that job they were talking about. Something more dangerous than floral arrangement."

"What d'you think? Espionage? Arms dealing? Prostitution." This last somewhat wistfully, Manx no doubt still on his mind.

Squall just stared at the cowboy for a long moment. Then went back to his cereal.

"You think there might be something in it for us?" Irvine said. "Apart from... well, yeah. Did you talk to Aya about anything before you got in his pants?"

Squall paused, squinted a little in thought. "I ... I asked about, or he offered. I think he offered us a job, and a place to stay. But we'd just started talking about what kind of job when I, when we, when the pants happened."

"See, I'm not the only one," Irvine smirked. "Are you going to tell him yes, whatever it is he's offering?"

"Depends what it is," Squall said, a bit subdued. "We need a job, don't know how long we'll be here, we need money, food, a place to live ..."

"It'll be okay," said Irvine, softly. "Whether it's flower-arranging or something else, I think they'll help."

Then Yohji was standing in the doorway, Aya close behind and Manx audible in the next room. Squall let his spoon drop again. "It won't be flower arranging," Yohji said, sounding awfully smug.

"That's a relief," Irvine drawled. "Squally-boy gets allergic." He scooted off the counter, just in case Squall chose to exact retribution for that bit of cheek. Then he noticed the expression on Aya's face. Stern, vaguely disapproving. All the fun sucked out. "Okay. What's the deal?"

"They're assassins," Squall said calmly, ignoring the 'Squally-boy' remark for the moment. The dangerous look flashing across Aya's eyes, quickly hidden, seemed more important.

"Damn," Irvine returned easily, stepping closer to the table and pulling out his own kind of dangerous. "And here I was still hoping for prostitution."

"It could be arranged," Yohji drawled. "How much are you worth?"

"You tell me," said Irvine quietly, not taking his eyes off Aya.

"You would all make a killing." Manx strode into the room on heels and determination. "If only I were a pimp. However, middling tall, dark and handsome is right."

"Assassins," Squall said again. Manx came to stand behind him, theatrical in her every move, and he leaned forward a bit just to keep her in sight.

"They said you were the bright one. They also said you're useful in a fight."

"You could say that," Irvine said.

"And," Manx's eyes were still on Squall as she ran her tongue over already-glossed lips. "You have something to hide."

"Doesn't everyone?" Squall said flatly.

"True." Manx swept red-polished nails across the back of the chair, just brushing the ends of Squall's hair. "I'd like to make you an offer."

"If it's a job offer, we accept," Irvine said, too-brightly, eyes flicking between Manx and the doorway. Aya was scowling, Yohji smiling encouragingly.

"You haven't heard what it is yet," Manx purred.

"No," said Squall, standing up with a squeak of chair and putting himself out of Manx's reach with one long-legged stride towards Irvine. "So how about we cut the crap and you tell us what you want us to do? "

"Easy enough," Yohji said, stepping forward, arms crossed. "We're assassins."

Squall smiled, and Irvine grinned broadly, visibly relaxing. "That's perfect," Squall said. Even his voice lighter. "Where do we sign?"