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On to Chapter 2.
Author: Amy the Evitable
Last updated: 23 October 2003
If you get too close to some things, you can never walk away.
Aya/Yohji. After the battle with Estet, Yohji finds himself haunted. But
by what? Or by whom? Or is it all in his head? Follows the anime series,
with the caveat that in this story, Aya-chan never woke up.
The OVAs, manga, and Gluhen are all gleefully ignored. The lyrics at the
start of each Yohji point-of-view section are all copyright Chappell Music/U2,
and are used without permission.
Chapter 1: Love and Other Necessary Illusions
There couldn't possibly be ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall. The
display was made up entirely of six-packs, and six just didn't go into ninety-nine
evenly. They were probably three deep... four rows of 8, and four rows of
two that bracketed the picture of the flavor-of-the-week spokesgirl... and
multiply it by 6... With a certain sense of satisfaction, Omi determined
that there were seven hundred and twenty bottles of beer on the wall. Unless
some jerk had removed some bottles from six-packs in the back just to make
his life difficult.
Though the annoying little song was caught in his head, Omi refused to
count down from 720. If he did, and Yohji still wasn't back by the last
bottle of beer on the wall, Omi really would have to kill his teammate.
Patience was the virtue Omi was best known for, but, really, how long did
it take any literate person to fetch a few packages of ramen noodles? He
resisted the urge to check his watch, but went ahead and rolled his eyes
as he continued to 'just watch the cart' in the bustle at the front of the
Omi had been offering his usual bright smile to every person who looked
his way. He counted himself lucky that none of the matrons had yet yielded
to the obvious impulse to pat him on the head and tell him what a nice boy
he was. For a time he'd had that prickling on the back of his neck that told
him he was being watched, or rather, stared at. Stares of that intensity
that came from only two sources. Either someone was about to launch an attack
at him, or he'd acquired yet another adolescent female stalker. Working at
the Koneko had been an education in the strength of the obsessions suffered
by barely pubescent girls. Fortunately for Omi's safety and the safety of
all the other shoppers, the watcher had eventually been dragged out of the
store by her mother. Omi hadn't needed to join the conflict himself.
Instead, he got to continue waiting for Yohji.
Since Estet's plan to summon the demon had come to a bloody and waterlogged
conclusion, Yohji had displayed a continuing excess of concern for all his
teammates. Omi did from time to time wonder if he was being singled out
for the worst of the overprotective behavior. Times like now, when the older
man had decided to spare Omi the strain and wear of wandering down the instant-food-in-a-cup
aisle of the grocer's.
Which was well intentioned, if not more than a tad ridiculous. At least
Yohji had allowed Omi to accompany him on this trip, admitting that the pneumonia
was more-or-less conquered and that a brisk walk was currently the best
medicine for the mostly-healed contusions and stiff muscles. Yohji and Ken
still were barely allowing Aya to get out of bed, much less allowing him
out of the apartment.
And they were right to do so, too. Aya's pneumonia had been much worse
than his own, and when you added in the rest of it...
Omi sighed. It was just a bit much. Ken's paranoia saw a vengeful Schwarz
behind every noise and shadow. And Yohji-- Yohji seemed determined to protect
his teammates' health and well-being from any possible threat, ranging from
microbes to tension headaches to international associations of evil cultists
bent on discovering Weiss's whereabouts.
Omi rolled his eyes again, and checked his watch. It really had been several
minutes since Yohji had sauntered off; he'd almost certainly found some
despondent pretty young thing who needed a dose of Kudoh charm to brighten
her day. Almost certainly...
It was ridiculous to picture Balinese bleeding his life out next to the
canned bean display. Totally ridiculous.
Perhaps Ken wasn't the only paranoid kitten these days.
So it was with a mixture of irritation and worry that he pushed the cart
around the corner to see Yohji, alone, at the far end of the aisle, neck
craning as he searched for something. Something that clearly wasn't the ramen,
which was in plain sight on the shelves in the middle of the aisle.
Omi advanced on Yohji, irritation taking the lead. "Yohji-kun," he began,
exasperated-- and then he took a closer look at his teammate, and the reprimand
dried up inside his mouth.
"Omi! Did you see...?" Yohji's eyes were wide, stricken, and his shoulders
were held high and tight to his body, like he was expecting someone to hit
"See who? Where?" Omi demanded, noting that his own voice was high and
panicky. Anything that would set Yohji off like this... What had Yohji seen?
There didn't seem to be anyone else back here.
A list of possible enemies flitted through Omi's mind. Topping the list
was Schwarz, but there were an unsettling number of other people in the 'Presumed
But Not Verified Dead' category. He fumbled for the cellphone to warn Ken,
fingers shaking too hard to pull the antenna up. "What kind of a threat?"
Visibly snapping back to reality, Yohji took hold of Omi's shoulders. "Oi,
it's OK, Omi. Nothing to worry about." A weak attempt at a lopsided grin.
"Put the phone away. Just thought I saw somebody I knew, nothing to worry
about. Really. I just didn't expect... Oi! Breathe slower, chibi, don't
want you to start coughing..."
But the hyperventilation had already set off a spasm of lung-wrenching
hacking, agonizing in Omi's raw throat. Yohji sat him down on a bench, brought
him a bottle of water, and flirted lightheartedly with several young female
passersby who made concerned inquiries into Omi's health. By the time Omi
had his respiration under control again, Yohji had collected a referral
to a traditional Chinese herbalist, two phone numbers, and an invitation
to dinner that night-- and Weiss's eldest had restored the easy grin to
It wasn't until after they'd purchased the groceries-- including the ramen--
and were walking back to the apartment that Omi noticed that for all the
easy manner and carefree grin, Yohji's eyes were constantly flitting from
side to side. Yohji was subtly checking out every tiny movement on the periphery
of his vision.
Would Yohji's notion of protecting Omi's well-being extend to lying to
him? Or at least skirting the truth?
Oh, yeah. Without a doubt it would. And while Omi appreciated the sentiment
behind the care (as well as the miracle that allowed the man who had never
once been on time to his shift at the flower shop to deliver every dose
of medication exactly on schedule, not one minute late), it was time to
remind Yohji that Omi was back on his feet. Time to remind Yohji that they
were teammates, equals, and that withholding data from the team strategist
was totally unacceptable.
Yohji was even now stepping away from a vending machine, offering hot coffee
with one hand while the other pushed the sunglasses back up his nose, trying
to concealing that ceaseless searching.
"Wind's getting chilly-- can't be good for your throat, Omittchi." A ripple
of amusement rolled across the Yohji's lips, anticipatory and smug. "No
point in having another coughing fit when there's nobody but me to fuss
over you-- not a pretty girl who'll come and try to make it all better in
Omi couldn't hold back the blush, but force of will-- and long exposure
to Yohji's practice of derailing uncomfortable conversations with a well-placed
teasing comment-- kept him from squeaking out the expected protest. Face
serious, if pink, he replied, "Somehow I don't think that pretty girls are
what you've been looking for the entire way home, Yohji-kun."
"I'm always looking for pretty girls, Omittchi. Give it a year or two,
and you might be joining me." The grin was the same, but if Yohji was escalating
from embarrassing-but-only-slightly-irritating remarks to out-and-out provocation
this quickly, he really was trying to hide something.
The grin faded.
"What did you see, Balinese?"
"It was nothing. Just a woman. Someone I didn't expect to see. Took me
Omi kept his gaze steady and his mouth shut.
"Look, there wasn't even anyone there. I thought I saw her, but when I
tried to follow... You didn't see anyone there, did you? There wasn't anyone
there." Yohji's free hand pushed hair out of his face, which promptly fell
back. "Will you take the damn coffee, Omi?"
There was only one woman, or perhaps two-- Omi suspected the truth about
Neu's identity never would be known-- who could leave Yohji this obviously
unsettled. Omi accepted the coffee and took a long drink, searching for
an acceptable way to ask what had to be asked.
"You saw Asuka, Yohji-kun?"
"No." Both hands this time, pushing the hair back, pausing to press at
the temples as though Yohji were trying to restrain a headache. "How could
I have seen her." It wasn't a question. "She's dead." A barely voiced whisper.
"But you thought you did?" Omi tried to keep his voice calm, tried to keep
any hint of pity or worry out of the tone. He wasn't certain he'd succeeded.
It was the risk to Omi's life that had brought Yohji to kill the woman Yohji
still loved. Even now, Omi couldn't think about the incident without a flood
of guilt for having been so careless as to put Yohji in that position. There
was also a horribly wonderful feeling of happiness, of belonging, of security,
that Yohji had chosen to protect him over that woman, which only made the
As fucked up as he knew his ideas of love, loyalty, and family were, Omi
was certain that you weren't supposed to have your soul eased by an action
whose commission nearly destroyed your adoptive brother.
That conflict had left him unable to speak to Yohji about the incident,
unable to confront his teammate about his subsequent risky behavior both on
and off of missions. Aya had brought the matter up with his usual lack of
tact and empathy, so unsurprisingly the self-destructive behavior had continued.
Until after that final confrontation with Estet. Yohji had pulled it together
for his teammates. Had been a pillar of stability after the battle. He'd
found Omi's scattered family, brought them to the refuge he'd created, and
nursed them back to health.
Yohji pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a deep drag before he answered
Omi's question. "Not really. Just thought I saw..." The gloved hand not
holding the cigarette clenched. "Her... out of the corner of my eye, and
I had to look." Another drag. "Stupid, I know."
Omi blinked back tears that wanted to leap into his eyes. "Oh, Yohji-kun,
not stupid. Just..."
Voice terribly quiet but almost unrecognizably harsh, Yohji cut in, "Enough,
Omi." A slow exhalation of smoke, and in a more normal voice, "Please."
Nodding, unsure what else he could do, Omi turned away from his teammate
and slowly started toward home, a few blocks to the east. It was a high-rise
apartment building, in terrible shape and scheduled to be demolished in
a year or two. Not all of the neighbors were the nicest people, but none
of them were the type to pry or ask questions. Yohji had apparently held
a lease there under an assumed name for some time "just in case." Omi hadn't
known about it; Kritiker hadn't known about it; and thus far it seemed that
none of their enemies had known about it.
Yohji caught up with Omi in a few long strides, then ambled alongside him
in silence for a few moments. Tapping the backpack Omi was carrying his
half of the groceries in, he asked, "You sure you don't want me to take
that bag for you?"
"It's OK; the groceries aren't that heavy, Yohji-kun." Omi risked a grin
at his companion. "Besides, if I prove myself by getting these home without
collapsing or fainting from exhaustion, you might actually believe that
I'm not sick any more. I might even be let out of the house without a nanny
watching over me."
Yohji ducked his head a little, wry expression acknowledging the zinger.
"Been a little much, have I?"
"Well, maybe just a little."
"Sorry, sorry." Yohji's expression became solemn. "It was too close for
a while there, chibi. It's hard to remember that you're almost back on your
Omi's yelp of protest at the 'chibi' almost drowned out Yohji's next statement.
"But all of you-- even Aya-- are recovering quickly. In Aya's case, despite
himself." The grin was back, and Yohji looked up into the evening sky. "Pretty
soon, you won't be needing me for this anymore."
Foreboding sang a chill melody along Omi's nerves at one of his rare premonitions.
He stopped dead in his tracks, staring at his teammate and adopted older
brother. As Yohji took the last few steps to the door, he extended his arm,
stubbing his cigarette against the wall. The light of the setting sun flared
red around his hand and forearm, making them look as though they were coated
with blood. Sick fear brought goosebumps to Omi's skin, and for the life
of him, he couldn't move a step.
They weren't common. They weren't specific. They weren't often useful.
But when Omi got a premonition like this, he was almost never wrong. Something
bad was going to happen to Yohji.
"Oi, Omi! Get your recovering ass inside before you manage to catch something
else!" Holding the door open, Yohji's teasing broke the spell. Omi followed
him inside, trying to hide his worry, as well as the frustration at not
knowing exactly what to worry about.
He was going to have to keep a close eye on Yohji.
Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all, but I want more
And I'm waiting for you
- With or Without You
I'd just slipped my bag of groceries off my shoulder and was setting it
on the counter when Ken stomped out to our kitchen/dining/living room.
"Watch it, Kenken, you'll take the floor out if you keep that up." I was
only half-joking; this place really was falling apart, and nobody stomps
like our ex-J-leaguer.
Ken threw himself onto a chair, folded his arms and settled into a sulk.
I took off my coat, grabbed the coat from a preoccupied Omi, and hung the
coats up. Omi shook his head, which got the frown off his face but did nothing
about the worry lines on his forehead that had appeared at the very end
of our little jaunt. He started putting groceries away, deliberately avoiding
Well, it looked like it was up to me to beard the soccer player in his
chair. In all honesty, I didn't mind. Give me a crisis, a fight, a complicated
dinner to make-- anything to keep me from remembering that yet again, I'd
seen her. I'd seen her, and she couldn't possibly have been there at the
grocery store, any more than she could have been waiting for the light on
the street corner, walking down the corridor at the hospital, reading in
a chair at the bookstore, or standing in the crowd waiting for the train.
Stop thinking, Kudoh, I told myself, this isn't going anywhere good. I
distracted myself by getting Ken even more worked up. We all have our little
pleasures in life.
"What's got you so pissed? No hot water again? Neighbors blasting bad music
again? You disagree with the draft picks again?"
He scowled at me, more at my tone than anything else. "It's not even the
right time of year for draft picks, Yohji."
"Really?" I feigned puzzlement. As though anyone could live in the same
house as Ken without picking up more than he ever wanted to know about soccer.
"Well, that only leaves one other guess. What's our meek and mild teammate
done to you today?"
"That idiot! He ignores everything I tell him about recovering from injuries.
He needs to be resting, not pushing his body into doing anything but healing!"
I aimed a pointed look at Omi; I am not the only 'mother-hen' offender
in this house. But he didn't seem to be paying attention to us, which was
totally out of character. Maybe that trip to the store really was too much
Stop it, Kudoh, I told myself again. This is exactly the sort of crap that
gets on his nerves. Omi's a big boy, the only one of us bright enough to
take a break when he needs one. Focus on Aya now, as you damn well can't
say the same for him. "So what's he doing today?"
"Workouts with weights. Curls, lifts-- he found some handweights. I don't
know where in hell he got them from."
I didn't say anything. I like to keep up the illusion that I maintain this
body without any kind of effort. Let people know you're willing to work
at one thing, and they'll start expecting work in all sorts of other endeavors...
like, say, a totally lame cover job.
Time to pacify. "Ken, he has lost muscle mass, and as long as he's not
using his injured leg, some activity shouldn't hurt. You've done the same
yourself to keep from stiffening up after an injury. And you know how marvelously
well that man takes to inactivity. At least he's not playing with his katana."
"Yeah, I have done the same, but I wasn't hacking up a lung every night
at the time!"
Ken did have a point. He usually doctors us; Omi knows more about biology
in theory, but Ken's got a working knowledge of sports medicine and cutting-edge
rehab techniques. More than one of us would likely be crippled today if
it wasn't for him.
"And he's been at it for hours, Yohji. I'd be OK with maintenance work,
but he's really pushing things. That idiot's just going to slow down his recovery
if he keeps this up."
"So you told him this, Kenken?" And I was sure he said it in about the
same tone, too, which is not the way to get Aya to listen. He doesn't exactly
take well to being told that he's wrong, much less being told that he's acting
like a complete idiot. It just makes him dig in his heels all the harder.
"That ass had the nerve to accuse me of being a slacker! I'm just trying
to make him take care of himself!"
I let Ken spew a little while longer. It's a small space, people weren't
feeling their best, and our whole future was up in the air. Not to mention
that we all had nearly died. Tempers were going to flare. No one was at
his most stable...
Which might explain why I keep glimpsing a dead woman every time I leave
the house. I know it's a lot more likely that I'm finally cracking than
it is that Asuka has somehow been resurrected yet again. Or that she's haunting
me, or that she managed to survive, or any of the other tabloid explanations
I've considered. I know Kritiker always expected me to snap; I checked out
my dossier, read the psych profile. It was a 'when,' not an 'if,' and they
figured the best they could hope for was that I'd take a whole bunch of
dark beasts with me when I self-destructed.
Making my death count would be nice, but after... Damn. I just don't want
to take down any more people I care about with my own hands. You'd think
that would be a manageable goal, even for me.
It really was a damn good thing that Weiss was almost back to fighting
strength. A good thing that Ken was better, and Omi and Aya were almost
well again. A good thing that they wouldn't be needing to depend on Kudoh
the vice-ridden slacker anymore. I knew it was a good thing, but mixed in
with relief at the thought was something uncomfortably like fear.
Soon they wouldn't need me anymore. What the hell was I going to do then?
Weiss did not need a psycho on the team, especially with all the watchers
and safeguards Kritiker once had to offer now gone.
The thought circled around in my head. Over and over again: What am I supposed
to do once they don't need me?
The sudden intrusion of silence broke my brooding. Ken and Omi were both
staring at me. Shit. I had no freaking idea what Ken just said, but apparently
it required an answer.
I tossed my head, shaking the hair back from my face. "Yare, yare. So Aya's
being a bad little patient."
Ken slammed his fist against the table, which rocked up on two legs at
the force of the blow. I jumped at the sudden noise. "Damn it, Yohji, can
you at least listen to me for two minutes? That's all I'm asking of you!"
All of Ken's previously existing anger, with a little more added in for
that an extra kick, had transferred from Aya to me. Spectacular. Before I
could even start to calm Ken down, Omi broke in, smiling from the pantry.
"Yohji-kun, Ken-kun was just hoping you'd be able to get Aya to stop. He's
a bit overdue for cleaning and dressing his wound; he wouldn't let Ken-kun
take care of it, or me, probably, but sometimes you have more luck with
Damn if the chibi didn't blush at his own double-entendre. I'd wondered
if Omi had noticed the occasional nocturnal visit between Aya and me; now
I knew. Hell, if Omi didn't manage to stop blushing, even Ken would figure
it out in a minute or two.
But it gave me an escape, and all Ken needed to cool down was a little
time. Quick temper on that guy, but he doesn't hold a grudge. Even when
he ought to.
"I'm on it." I tossed off a salute to the two of them, and made my retreat
to the bathroom to gather supplies. In a moment, armed with soap, water,
and medicinal goop, I knocked and entered the bedroom of the cranky redhead.
The same thought went through my head every time I saw Aya on that cheap
futon, struggling against the weakness of his body: I took too long to
That thought was a ceaseless whisper in my head the night I brought him
back to the apartment, taking him away from the hospital against medical advice.
The doctors had told me repeatedly, with great emphasis and some profanity,
that I was likely killing Aya by not allowing him to remain in the hospital.
If Aya hadn't been just barely capable of insisting that he wanted to leave,
I would have been overruled.
I wasn't happy about taking Aya away from proper medical care, but I knew
just how easy it was to find someone in a hospital. If I could do it, so
could Estet. I'd already made arrangements for Aya-chan to be cared for privately;
now I had to risk killing Aya myself to keep him safe from Estet.
I took too long to find him. I took too long to find him.
Aya was wheeled out to the car from the hospital. I had to carry him into
the apartment, feeling his body tighten against pain with every jarring
motion, his stoic silence more reproachful than a litany of complaints.
He'd been on intravenous antibiotics for 8 hours, but the fever was still
frighteningly high. Every breath was a wheeze.
I took too long to find him. I took too long to find him.
I undressed him, laid him down on the futon, draped him in blankets, and
gave him his dose of antibiotics and painkillers. Then I took the blankets
off, and touched every inch of his body with my lips and tongue and fingers.
Of course I lingered on some areas more than others. I know that a blowjob
isn't part of the recommended course of treatment for infected wounds and
pneumonia. I can't say exactly what I thought I was doing.
Maybe I was trying to apologize.
Maybe I was trying to bring his attention back to his body, to ensnare
his mind and soul within his skin so they couldn't escape.
Maybe I was trying to infuse my own life force into him the only way I
Maybe I was just trying to give him the only worthy gift I had. I know
I don't have much to offer, but I am a master of physical pleasure, sensuality
and sex. Can't ever say that the unique aspects of my childhood didn't teach
The whole time, I whispered to him, "Stay. Stay, Aya, stay." I couldn't
let myself babble; tired and frightened and lost as I was, I'd have said something
unwanted. Something unallowable.
I anchored him to life as best I could, and swallowed his bitter climax
when it came. I held him all that night, tight against me, my erection hard
against his body. And somehow, he didn't die.
Ten days later, though, and still one look at him was an inescapable reminder.
I took too long to find him.
Not entirely my fault, I guess. When the walls of Estet's cozy little demon-summoning
temple came tumbling down, leaving us in the less than welcoming grasp of
Tokyo Bay in February, Omi was the only one I could reach. Not trusting
to the strength of my arms in the circumstances-- God, given my recent history
how could I trust these arms, these hands, with anything precious to me?--
I bound us together with my wire. And somehow I got us to shore, got the
chibi breathing again, got us to the bolthole apartment, and got our youngest
settled in. That included medical treatment for the concussion and contusions
courtesy of Naoe Nagi and for the rapidly settling-in pneumonia courtesy
of the aforementioned bay waters.
That took some time.
Ken'd been easy to find. A few calls to nearby hospitals unearthed the
young man who was taken to the hospital, drenched and suffering from hypothermia,
by the people who'd nearly run him over as he'd staggered down the street.
The guy's skull was sufficiently thick that Farferello hadn't done serious
damage. Ken hadn't inhaled nearly as much water as Omi had-- one of those
perks of remaining conscious-- and his bronchitis didn't look like it would
turn more serious.
But Aya... All in all, it took me over 36 hours even to begin seriously
looking for Aya. To begin doing more than just looking for recent hospital
intakes suffering from hypothermia. I didn't have the excuse of injuries really
worth noting, but I'm sure fatigue was a factor in just how long it took
me to figure out the correct way to find my injured, hypothermic maniac who
wouldn't under any circumstances let go of his katana.
Yeah, I even checked the jails before the truly obvious kicked in.
Find Aya-chan, and you've found Aya. Ran. Whatever. Forget the drop boxes,
the safehouses, everything that Omi or Kritiker ever came up with to cover
assorted disastrous contingencies-- find her, and you've found him.
I had two possible strategies-- search the way Ran was likely searching,
hospital by hospital, probably on foot-- or search the intelligent way with
a phone and computer, find her, and just wait for the redhead to appear.
Though I was more than a little worried about his condition-- oh, hell, I
desperately wanted to find Aya before he managed to kill himself with exhaustion
and neglect-- I was tired. I did the smart thing, the whole ex-private eye
thing, and found Aya-chan first.
I was betting Aya's life that he would never die until he was certain she
It wasn't a stupid bet. Aya has that inexorable will thing going. Once
he sets his mind to something, no matter how beaten and battered he becomes,
that thing happens. Pesky little rules of physics are swatted aside. Pain
and fear and impossible barriers leapt in a single bound. That will was
focused on one thing and one thing only-- protecting Aya-chan. And since
even the amazing Fujimiya needs to be alive to accomplish that, he won't
give up to death.
That was what I was counting on, as I kept my vigil by her bedside, a vigil
for both the remaining Fujimiyas.
Still a bet, though.
I'm amazed that his sister hasn't been awakened already by the sheer force
of his conviction that she will wake up. Then again, maybe she's got that
inexorable will thing going, too. It might be fun to watch them go head-to-head,
albeit from very, very far away.
That will-- that stubbornness-- can make him infuriating to live with.
I don't romanticize it, trust me. Once he's set his mind, even on a whim,
it's fixed. You can never tell him he's wrong-- if you want him to change
his mind, you need to give him subtle clues, lead him down the path, let
it all be his idea.
That stubbornness was what made me buy us a new toaster. Watching Ran stare
down our broken toaster, just apparently willing it to work again, I had
this irrational conviction that, given time, he actually would manage to
force it back into operation. That would have been too creepy. I couldn't
handle the thought, so I feigned impatience and went out and bought us a
If I had a fraction of that will, I'd never have allowed Asuka to die the
first time. I think he despises me a little for that weakness of mine. Fair
The visual treat in front of me finally overwhelmed my brooding, which
frankly, not much else had been able to do of late. Watching a shirtless
Aya doing curls is a powerful, heady thing. It wasn't so much the ripple
of muscles beneath that pale skin, not the sweat catching the light to highlight
each contour, not the bunching and shifting of sinew with each extension
Ahem. Not to say I didn't notice that whole sinew thing.
But for me, the fascinating thing, the thing that caught me in my chest
and made my bones start to melt, was the look of absolute command on his face.
Ken was right, Aya really had been pushing it, and I could pick out elements
of both a grimace of effort and a frown of concentration in that expression.
But overshadowing both was the glare he was aiming at his arm, commanding
it to continue, to work, to defy weakness-- to obey. Yeah, the demand for
obedience is what that look is all about. He wasn't even directing the look
at me, and it still made me want to collapse to my knees.
The irony of Kudoh Yohji, eternal rebel against authority in any form,
being captivated by that commanding gaze was not lost on me. Trust me, I
hadn't been replaced by a pod person-- if he turned that look on me, I'd
fight him to the last inch. Fight him, fight the part of me that would want
to obey him, and fight against the corrosive, seductive pleasure that would
run through my blood at knowing that in the end, I would surrender to him.
But I would fight. He'd have to work for it.
It's still a damn good thing that he's never looked at me that way.
Aya ignored me in that effortless way he has until I shut the door behind
me. Then, without ever once really looking at me, he said, "Sunglasses off."
I don't understand the vendetta against my shades; he'll tolerate them
if we're in public, or even in private if Ken or Omi are around. But as
soon as it's just the two of us, he'll make it clear that the shades went,
or he went. This quirk has been a rich source of teasing, and usually I poke
at him before acceding.
I just wasn't in the mood. The glasses went onto the table by the door.
Usually it's Aya who plays the silent routine on me; I like to talk, like
to bounce words off people just to see which way they go. Maybe I was just
tired. I watched in silence a bit longer. Beauty is rare and always transient;
I would appreciate it while I could. Aya neither played to his audience
nor seemed bothered by it. The will thing again-- he'd do what he thought
he had to do and everything else was irrelevant.
Of course, the fun lies in finding a way to crack that will. It's a favorite
pastime of mine. I also knew that if I didn't stop Aya soon, he'd shatter
the beauty of that scene by really injuring himself.
I couldn't have that.
There was no point in arguing. Ken was the expert there, and if his arguments
had no effect, what could I say to make Aya stop?
Watching Aya, watching that stare, gave me another idea entirely. One that
ought to leave everyone satisfied.
Once Aya started doing something, it was hard to make him stop. But sometimes,
you could make him want to do something else even more.
Back to index.
On to Chapter 2.