"How did it go?" Yohji found himself holding his breath. It was the first time he'd spoken to Aya in the half hour since he picked him up from outside Aya-chan's school. And he still wasn't sure that it might not be too soon.
"They want her to leave." The words choked out through gritted teeth, Aya staring out of the passenger window of the hire car, a muscle twitching in his cheek. Yohji took the handbrake off and let them roll forward another few feet before the traffic locked up again.
"Can they make her?"
"Yes. But it would be better if she goes of her own accord, they said. Won't look so bad on her permanent record."
"So she'll miss all her exams."
A curt nod.
Aya slammed his fist against the window; Yohji wouldn't have been surprised if it had broken. But it didn't. "I shouldn't have gone away. I should have…"
Yohji pulled the car over to the kerb and stopped the engine.
"What are you doing?"
"Stopping. It's a nice day. Let's go for a walk."
Aya shot him a confused sort of look, but got out of the car when Yohji did without any argument. He stood on the pavement, scowling and shoving the sleeves of his sweater up to his elbows, too hot in the warm spring sunshine, and waited until Yohji joined him.
"The park," said Yohji, and lit a cigarette as they set off down the street. Aya fell easily in step beside him.
"She really wanted to finish school," Aya said.
"Can't Kritiker do anything?"
Aya shook his head. "I don't want to get them involved in any of this. If they do, I'll owe them something. It's bad enought that we had to come crawling back from America."
"They always have a way of making sure of that, whether you like it or not. She can go back later, maybe, after-"
"They won't take her back."
"There's other schools, Aya. Other countries, even."
Aya grunted, a reluctant acknowledgement of some kind of hope.
The park was quiet: workers still in work, kids at school, only a few tourists enjoying the cherry blossom. It was a spectacular year for it: drifts of palest pink floated on the spring breeze, swirling from the trees to carpet the grass below. Yohji shoved his sunglasses up on top of his head, enjoying the colours and the movement and the sunshine. If you had to come back from California, this was the season to do it. He'd missed the seasons, he realised. He'd even missed the interminable Tokyo rain. Of which more was on the way, if the brooding clouds beyond the trees were anything to go by.
"I should have known," said Aya, softly and mostly to himself.
"No." Yohji took Aya's hand and squeezed it. "You can't see the future. You thought she'd be okay. Even I didn't think this would happen."
Aya was staring at their joined hands. He hesitated for a moment and then squeezed back. He started to rub Yohji's thumb very softly with his. "What am I going to do, Yohji? I'm lost. I have no idea how to deal with any of this."
Yohji's fingers tingled. "You'll do your best. And you're not alone. I meant what I said, Aya. We're together. I'll do all I can. There's worse things than having to drop out of school for a while."
Aya looked about to protest at that, but Yohji knew how to silence him. He stopped, right there on the path, one hand meshed with Aya's, the other threading through his hair, and kissed him. Soft and gentle, the brush of lips on lips more than enough to send a streak of fire up Yohji's spine. And it did the same to Aya, however pissed off he was. The eyes that fluttered open to look into Yohji's had a subtle heat and intensity that wasn't there before.
"It'll be okay," he whispered. "Promise."
"That's all very well, Kudoh. I could do with some plans to go with the promises, that's all."
"You want plans?" Yohji wound his fingers in the hair at the nape of Aya's neck, brushed the ticklish spot that hid there. "I can give you plans." And kissed him again, his whole body tingling when Aya kissed him back, firm and long, an arm snaking around Yohji's waist.
"Not here." Aya sounded breathless; his cheeks wore a faint flush. "We're in public."
"LA's spoilt you. This is Japan, remember?" But he didn't pull away.
"I'm not about to take any crap from anyone who says I can't kiss my boyfriend in public," growled Yohji, and waited to enjoy the flicker of surprise in Aya's eyes before kissing him again. It had been nearly a week since that night when Aya had come to him, and he'd been saving the b-word for a special occasion.
If the responsiveness of Aya's kiss was anything to go by, this was most definitely it. Or perhaps he was desperate to escape his problems in the heat and affection of Yohji's mouth. Either way it was a long time before they surfaced again.
When they did, and Yohji opened his eyes, the clouds had got much darker and much closer, and mostly obscured the sun. The air quickly cooled without it, and Yohji shivered.
"Let's walk," said Aya, and they did. Aya didn't take his hand from Yohji's, though.
"Has she told you who he is yet?"
Aya shook his head. "She said I'd kill him."
"She's probably right."
"Probably," said Aya, grimly. "I'll find out from your PI friend instead."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"She needs to be able to trust you. And you need to trust her. She'll tell you when she's ready."
"It might be too late by then."
"Too late for what? She's not seeing him any more. So why does it matter?"
Aya's fingers twitched in irritation.
"It matters because you want your revenge," Yohji suggested.
Aya darted a look of pure annoyance at him.
"What good will your revenge do Aya-chan?"
"I... shut up, Yohji."
Yohji supressed a snicker. "Okay. Just..."
"You're right, okay? Revenge is a bad idea. But it's what I do. It's all I do. I don't know any other way of doing things and..." Aya stopped. "Kiss me, Yohji."
Surprised as he was, Yohji wasn't about to argue. He tugged Aya close and kissed him long and deep, crimson hair soft between his fingers.
"It's better when you kiss me," Aya murmured. "Can't think."
Something inside Yohji fluttered. It was taking some getting used to, this affectionate, gentle Aya, but he was loving every astonishing minute of it. He pulled him a bit closer. "I can kiss you all you like, love."
"Thank you." Aya managed a little smile, traced his finger across Yohji's cheekbone. "So, if I can't kill him, and I can't keep her in school, what can I do?"
" We take it one step at a time. It's shit that she has to leave school. But there's other ways of passing exams."
"I'm not sure yet," Yohji admitted. "Still working on that one. But there's always ways and means. The important thing is that you're her brother, you're home and she's home with you. She made a mistake, is all. It could have been a whole lot worse."
"Hm. I'm just not used to not being able to… do things." He rested his forehead on Yohji's shoulder, arms tight around his middle.
"I know. But just about all you can do now is be there for her. Listen to her."
"She thinks I'm going to run away again."
"You'll just have to prove to her you're not."
Aya sighed. Yohji kissed his hair, breathed in the soft, clean scent of it.
"And I have to tell her about us," Aya mumbled.
"Whenever you're ready."
The sky was dark now and the first drops of rain started to fall. But Yohji wasn't about to panic about that. Not when he had Aya in his arms, warm and close and his. For all the worry about Aya-chan, Yohji's heart was soaring. He'd never imagined that this would happen. Sex, that he could imagine – and had done so at regular intervals over the past few years. But this closeness and affection was something Yohji had never in a million years thought Aya was capable of giving. He wanted to wallow in it, relish it; even now when Aya's body was pressed tight against his he couldn't get enough contact with the man.
"Raining," Aya grumbled, raising his head to blink up at Yohji. Totally adorable, so much so that Yohji had to remind himself that this was still Aya, after all, and the steel and fury was still there. Which, in fact, made it all the more exciting. "What you grinning at, Kudoh?"
You. "Nothing. I dunno."
"We're going to get wet."
Aya snorted, and started to disentangle himself from Yohji's embrace.
"It's romantic," Yohji protested. But Aya was already turning to walk back towards the car. With a long suffering sigh, Yohji followed.
"There's nothing romantic about you with a cold," Aya said.
"There would be if you were looking after me."
The corner of Aya's mouth twitched. "And why should I look after you? It would be your own stupid fault."
Yohji just smiled at him. The rain was falling harder now, but he really didn't care. He tugged on Aya's hand and stopped him still for long enough to kiss him, hard and breathless. The rain fell wet and warm on Yohji's face, soft as Aya's fingers in his hair; he could smell damp spring grass and cherry blossom and all he could taste was Aya.
"Oh God," Aya murmured, lifting his head, eyes reluctantly sliding open. His hair was dripping in his eyes, rain-darkened and contrasting sharply with his pale skin. All cheekbones and astoundingly beautiful violet eyes. His lips were slightly parted, the hint of teeth and small, pink tongue beyond them. Unconsciously sexy. Incredibly fucking unconsciously sexy…. Yohji couldn't help but kiss Aya again. He didn't want to stop.
"You're so hot," he mumbled into the elegant curve of Aya's neck. "So damn hot."
"Wet," but Aya was kissing his jaw and licking the raindrops from his cheeks and nose, and his eartails were dripping rainwater down Yohji's neck. "We should…"
"… go somewhere," Yohji finished for him. "Yes."
"No, I mean…" but whatever Aya meant remained a mystery, his words disolving into another kiss. "Where?" he murmured, eventually. "The traffic…"
"Home. Sod the car. It'll be quicker if we run across the park. You up for it?"
Aya nodded, once, tongue darting out to lick his lips, and without any further delay, Yohji took his hand and they ran. Rain coming down in sheets now, both of them soaked through. They still had all the speed they'd trained for in Weiß and covered ground rapidly, at least as far as the gate. Aya probably could have run all the way, but Yohji was distinctly breathless by then.
"You're out of condition," Aya said as they slowed to a steady jog. "Too much smoking."
"This is the body of a greyhound," gasped Yohji. "I'm a sprinter, not a marathon runner."
Aya didn't look convinced.
They covered the last three blocks at a more stately pace, until finally they reached the Koneko. Yohji was about to rush straight through the shop but it was school-finish time and the fangirls were already gathering. Aya, at least, had the common sense to steer them around the back, hugging the wall with stealth worthy of a full mission.
At last they were inside, upstairs and at the door of Yohji's apartment. He fumbled for the keys, dripping all over the floor, Aya draped over his back, kissing his neck.
He didn't have his keys.
"Fuck! I left them in my jacket. In the car. Fuck, fuck, fuck…"
There was a jingling sound by his ear.
"My room then," said Aya with a smirk, dangling his own keys in front of Yohji's face.
"Thank fuck one of us has brains." Yohji turned and gave Aya a long, wet kiss before they stumbled along the hall to Aya's door, almost falling through it in their haste.
"D'you want a towel?" Aya asked between frenzied kisses, as Yohji steered him towards the bed.
"No. Just you. On the bed. Now. Can't wait."
He had Aya's jeans undone in a flash, one-handed, no less, and he was about to push him back on the matress when Aya wriggled out of his grasp.
"Clothes off first," he insisted. "Don't want to get the bed wet."
Yohji could have cursed Aya for his practicality, but he supposed he had a point. And fuck, but it was difficult to strip out of rainsoaked clothes, especially the skin-tight jeans that clung to his legs, cold and clammy. Somehow Aya managed to undress, as always, with balance and dignity, while Yohji watched and stumbled and wrestled with wet socks. But eventually they were both naked. They tumbled on the bed; Yohji shivered, the air cold against his damp skin.
"D'you want to get under the covers?" Aya asked, tucking Yohji's wet hair behind his ears, brushing his lower lip along the line of his jaw.
"Don't care. God, Aya, I don't care. I just want you."
"So warm me up."
Aya rolled them over so he lay on top of Yohji, a wicked grin on his face that sent a tremble down Yohji's spine. Propped up on strong arms, Aya looked down at him, hair dripping on Yohji's face as he ground their hips together. Hard flesh pressing against hard flesh, sliding and rubbing and stiff and damp and Yohji arched up, fingers cradling Aya's face as he kissed him. Rolled them over again, still rocking together, tongues tangled, legs entwined, breath snatched in short gasps.
"Oh God," Yohji panted. "Tell me what you want, baby."
"You. Inside me." Aya's voice deep and spine-tingling, his eyes half-hooded.
Yohji groaned softly, his cock twitching against Aya's. "Really?"
Aya half-smiled, his cheek dimpling. "Really."
"Then that's what you get. Except... shit. The lube's in my room. Have you got anything we could..."
"Top drawer." Aya waved a hand in the direction of the small cabinet by the bed.
Yohij raised an eyebrow, even as he reached over Aya's chest for the drawer.
"I didn't know you had lube," he said, retrieving a fat tube and settling back at Aya's side. "Since when did you have lube?"
"I bought it yesterday." Aya was smiling again, with an adorable pang of shyness in his expression that Yohji had seen more of in the past eight days than the whole three years before they'd slept together. He loved it. The mixture of strength and vulnerability, of dark experience and curious naivety.
"That was remarkably good timing." Yohji popped the cap off with his teeth.
"I thought it would come in handy." Aya watched as Yohji squirt a generous blob of gel onto his fingers, his hands skimming Yohji's goose-pimpling skin. Yohji rolled onto his back, pulling Aya on top of him.
"You're doing the work this time," he said, gently pushing Aya upright. "Lean back for me."
Aya obediently knelt back, straddling Yohji's hips, still watching as Yohji prepared him with deft, slick fingers.
"Take it slow," Yohji said, getting himself ready as Aya raised himself up on his knees.
"It's okay. You won't hurt."
"That's not what I'm afraid of." Yohji held his cock by the root, heart pounding as Aya wriggled into position, ready to impale himself. "You're threatening my legendary self control as it is, and if you go too fast..."
Aya smiled at him again, a wicked gleam in his eye. For a moment Yohji wasn't sure he altogether trusted Aya not to take advantage. But he didn't. He waited for Yohji to guide him down, inch by glorious inch, until Yohji's cock was completely engulfed in slick, heated flesh.
"You're so tight, baby. So tight... so..." The words faded as Yohji looked up at Aya's face. Eyes closed. Cheeks flushed, hair damp, teeth biting down on his lower lip. Blissful. Absolutely blissful.
Very slowly, Yohji started to move.
Aya moaned softly, letting Yohji guide his movements with gentle hands on his hips. He rode Yohji's body in a fluid, graceful rhythm, each thrust of Yohji's cock sending a ripple through his whole body. Yohji watched, lost not only in his own pleasure but also in the sight of Aya's. His normally reserved lover was so open, so passionate in bed. So good. He reached up to stroke Aya's face, trailed his fingers down the lean, shifting muscles of his chest, skirting stiff nipples and teasing quivering belly before finally settling on his cock. Cupping the elegant length of it in his palm, thumb gently rubbing the head. Aya cried out.
"That okay, baby?"
Aya nodded. His tongue darted out to lick his lips.
"You're beautiful." Yohji's hips were rocking faster now, he couldn't help it, no matter how much he wanted this to last. Somehow he didn't have half the control over his body when he was making love with Aya that he'd had with any of his previous lovers. He couldn't take his eyes off Aya's face, pleasure painted all over those flushed cheekbones and heated, half-hooded eyes.
"Yohji... I... oh..."
Yohji moved his hand a little faster, gripped a little more firmly, thrust a little harder and deeper into Aya's body.
"Yohji," Aya whispered, and held himself absolutely still for an instant before he came, a rush of warmth over Yohji's hand, a soft sigh as his body trembled in release. Yohji couldn't help but follow; the extra pressure on his cock, the scent of Aya's come and the expression of sheer carnality on his beautiful face were more than enough to overwhelm him. He buried himself as deep as he could get, holding Aya tight in place and let it come, hard, rippling throbs of pleasure convulsing limbs and body.
"Oh Yohji..." Soft fingers in his hair, warm body covering him like a blanket, Aya's voice deep and resonant.
"Mmm," Yohji whispered back, not quite capable of finding words.
Aya kissed him, slower than slow, the tip of his tongue teasing Yohji's, but just when Yohji was settling into a long post-coital makeout session he found himself abandoned. He opened his eyes to see Aya padding across the room towards the bathroom. Suddenly Yohji felt cold and sticky and realised his hair was still damp.
"Yes?" Aya reappeared at the doorway, clutching a towel.
"Come back here. I'm not done with you yet."
"How about you come here? The shower's good and hot."
"Hmm." Yohji had to admit it sounded tempting. "Do we get to cuddle again afterwards?"
Aya gave a short bark of a laugh. "Yes, Yotan. If you want to."
"You know I do." Yohji dragged himself out of bed and over to where Aya was standing, all naked and damp and warm.
Much later, Yohji lay in Aya's bed, moving his fingers thorugh long strands of crimson hair, while Aya almost-slept. The sun was going down, casting shadows through the gentle evening light that flooded the room.
"I have an idea," he said, because if Aya wasn't relaxed enough to listen now, he probably never would be.
"I'm impressed," said Aya, dryly, casually flicking Yohji's nipples with one finger.
"Ow! Stop that!" Yohji batted Aya's hand away and clutched his chest protectively. He thought he might have heard Aya stifle a chuckle. "Do you want to hear my idea or not?"
"I'm listening." Aya's finger trailed down Yohji's chest to torment his belly button. Yohji did his resolute best to ignore it.
"We could call Omi?"
"He could tutor Aya-chan."
Aya's hand lay flat on Yohji's belly.
"They get on well together," Yohji continued. "He tutored other kids at school all the time..."
Aya flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling, dragging his fingers through his hair. "Shit."
"I know. But it's an answer."
"Ken would come too. What if they've settled in Nagoya?"
"Then Omi can say no."
Yohji didn't say anything. For what felt like a long time he watched Aya as Aya watched the shadows play on the ceiling, and waited.
Eventually Aya turned to Yohji with a grim nod.
"Okay," he said.
Yohji tugged him into his arms, and buried his face in the soft damp silk of his hair. "It'll be alright," he said. "You'll see."
Aya held him just as tight, and softly kissed his neck.
It was almost as if he believed him.