It was a bright spring morning filled with promise and sakura floating
on the air. Omi lifted his face to Tokyo's smog-laden air, thrilled
with how beautiful the day was, the high grades he'd gotten in three classes,
and the fact that Yohji-kun would be working alone in the shop when he
got there. Lovely!
He stopped on the way home at his favorite computer store. That was another reason to be happy; some new software was coming out today, and it would vastly simplify his data-gathering tasks for Weiss! Of course, since he was the only one who would be familiar with the new software, this was just volunteering to get dumped on. But Ken-kun was pretty easy to lead around by the nose these days if Omi blew a few kisses in his direction, so maybe Omi could lead him into this.
He pushed open the shop door. “Irasshai,” the shop clerk called out. It was nice to be a customer instead of a clerk, for a change. Omi bobbed his head and went straight for the software section. He knew what he wanted.
Omi bumped elbows with someone as he reached for the new software. “Sumimasen!” he cried, turning to bow and gazing into eyes that were a remarkable shade of cobalt blue.
“Sumimasen,” the boy murmured in return, “I believe we were both reaching for this?” He plucked the box off the shelf. His lips were the delicately pouty type, now tugged upwards in a half-smile.
They both stared at it in dismay. “It’s the last copy,” Omi said, disconsolate. “You - you go ahead, you were here first.”
“Actually, I believe we were both here at the same time,” the boy corrected. “If I might suggest a compromise?”
“Go ahead,” Omi said, giving him an encouraging smile.
“We split the price and buy it, then take it home and copy it,” the boy said, with a cautious glance around the store lest some clerk overhear and start squawking about copyright laws.
Omi brightened. “Good idea!”
The boy smiled. “Here, then.” He passed the box of software to Omi. “You buy it and I’ll give you half in cash.” Their fingers touched and the most delightful shiver traveled up Omi’s body. He stared at the boy.
“M-my name is Tsukiyono Omi,” he stammered a bit, giving the boy a shy smile. He really was quite lovely, those dark blue eyes fringed with chestnut hair, his features delicate and beautiful. He was wearing a gray school uniform, probably some private school Omi didn’t recognize, and his body was slender and well-formed. Omi found himself blushing.
“I’m Nagi Naoe,” the boy returned, holding his hand out after a slight hesitation. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Omi said, blushing harder as their hands met. He felt a visceral tug in his belly at the second physical contact between them. Why, he hadn’t been this attracted to someone since Yohji-kun, and he was still working on Yohji-kun!
He brought the software to the counter, Nagi trailing behind him, and paid for it. Once they were outside the shop, Nagi turned to him, delicate beautiful features alight.
“Let’s go somewhere to eat,” Nagi suggested. “No need to rush right into copying, ne?”
“Umm… sure!” Omi assented. Was Nagi asking him for a date? He looked shyly at the other boy. He thought he’d like kissing him. He’d never felt so strongly for someone like this, before, not even Yohji-kun!
“I know this great place,” Nagi continued, giving him a look underneath thick black lashes.
Omi spazzed. Nagi just gave him a look! He knew a look when he saw one, and that was definitely a look!
“Oh, wait,” Omi drooped, remembering his responsibilities. “I have to work - I’ll be late for my shift if I don’t hurry.” He bit his lip. Would Nagi think…
“Oh,” Nagi said, face falling. In the next instant he was expressionless. “I can’t compete with work, I guess.”
“But I really want to!” Omi hastened to assure him. “Really, I’d like that!”
“Honto?” Nagi glanced at him again, interest resurfacing in his eyes beneath that long fringe of lash.
“Absolutely!” Omi said vigorously. “But I can’t be late for my shift, because the rush has probably started already!”
“Where do you work?” Nagi asked, taking a step closer to him.
Omi felt his face get hot. “Um, the Kitty in the House,” he admitted. “It’s…a flower shop.” If there had been doubts about his sexuality before, they were surely dispelled now!
“Really?” Nagi smiled, a coy expression. “Well, maybe I can wait through your shift.”
“I’d like that,” Omi smiled back. He was sick of waiting for Yohji-kun to come to his senses, and even though Ken-kun wanted him, he wasn’t sure he wanted Ken-kun. But Nagi was so lovely…
“Let’s go, then,” Nagi said, a hand fleetingly touching Omi’s shoulder. He could feel the warmth of it even through his clothes.
Omi flushed again. He had found himself picturing…certain things…involving himself and Nagi and a nice big bed. Was this The Love?
It was another day in the shop, and another day where Yohji’s shift coincided with Ken’s. Honestly, where was Aya? Today he was actually on the board, but must have switched his shift with Ken, because that man wasn’t supposed to be working today. Otherwise, Yohji would have switched shifts himself. At the moment, Aya’s taciturnity would suit him.
With a long face, Yohji watched Ken’s approach between two planters. One looked like it had been carefully restored from a state of near-destruction. Omi must not have been happy.
Omi! K’so. Yohji ground his teeth. Couldn’t he have avoided thoughts of *that* for even a minute? Images invaded his mind, the way Omi’s slender body had been pressed up against Ken yesterday, their mouths all-too-willingly conjoined, damn near entwined even in the shop. It wasn’t fair! He’d made the move on Ken, first! Omi was too sweet, though, to do something like that deliberately, so Ken must’ve approached Omi.
He would not forgive him for that!
The soccer player had ambled into the shop this morning with a shamefaced look, hands tucked into his pockets, head down. That said all to Yohji that he wanted to know. And it more than implied that Ken had been at fault yesterday, somehow.
Today hadn’t been a good day for custom, and there hadn’t been many orders, either, so Yohji had spent most of his day stuck in the shop with Ken. Since the two of them were maintaining a frigid sort of silence - well, at least Yohji was, and Ken’s voice had stuck every time he opened his mouth - it had made for a long, boring day.
Had he decided he didn’t love Ken anymore? Ah… well… the bottom was still just as luscious in those denims as it had been before. He hadn’t decided to call the whole thing off; or at least, his emotions hadn’t. And those brown eyes were indeed sorrowful every time they guiltily glanced away. Yohji almost wished they’d had a female customer or two, so he could flirt indiscriminately and provoke some kind of reaction out of Ken.
Ken stopped near the cash register, settling a planter on his hip, and looked up. Their eyes met. Yohji was lounging behind the register, thinking about taking a little nap. With no custom nor Omi-kun here to chide him, it was a good opportunity. But when their eyes met, it electrified him. Yohji sat up straighter. Was there still hope?
“Why were you kissing Omi?” Ken suddenly asked.
Yohji blinked, the words shattering his illusion of reconciliation. Then he got angry. “What are you talking about? You’re the one who kissed Omi! Right after I asked you…for whatever you would give me. What kind of man are you, Ken?”
“I might ask the same thing of you, Yohji-*kun!*” Ken retorted, flushed. “You say that you love me, but you know my feelings are focused on Aya. So you’d take what you can get from a man who loves someone else?”
Yohji turned red. That struck a little too close to home. “So it you love Aya, what are you doing kissing Omi?”
Ken grimaced. “Ah, well, what I feel for Omi has nothing to do with love. I told you I wanted his first kiss, didn’t I?”
“And now you’re going to go for all the way, if you can?” Yohji’s eyes widened incredulously. “I’m not going to let you do that to Omi! He’s just a kid!”
“Yeah, well, that *kid* had his tongue in my mouth yesterday!” Ken flung the words at him.
“You bastard-” Yohji growled, starting up from behind the register,
raising a hand.
And a splendid bitchfight might’ve gotten started if the bell above the door hadn’t jingled right then. “Yo,” drawled out a husky voice, “I heard this was an excellent place to get flowers.”
Yohji and Ken still hadn’t broken their strained eye contact. Hard green bored into angry brown. Finally Ken flushed again and looked away. “I’ll go run some orders,” he muttered.
“You do that,” Yohji gritted out.
Ken turned and vanished into the back shop, hauling the planter with him. Yohji looked up to greet their latest customer. “Irrasshai,” he said pleasantly. The man was tall, broad-shouldered, and had a wealth of silky red hair flowing over the shoulders of his tailored suit.
“Nice shop you have here,” the man said with an easy grin. His hands were tucked in his pockets. He moved with the grace and poise of a hunting cat.
“Nahh, it’s nothing much,” Yohji replied modestly. Already, he was forming an uneasy opinion of this customer. His gaze was too direct, green eyes intent on Yohji and not the shop at all. That knowing look told Yohji there was something the man wanted, though he hadn’t said anything at all. And his speech…though he spoke flawless Japanese, Yohji could tell the man was foreign.
“Well, it’s got quite the reputation,” the man said. “So I thought I’d come check you out. I am Schuldich.”
Yohji was taken aback. Not the shop -- *you.* Either this man was bold, or hadn’t quite mastered his Japanese. “Ahh, good to meet you. I’m Kudou Yohji,” he replied. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“Why, yes.” The man’s lips curled up. “As a matter of fact. I’m here to check out the reputation, though not of the shop.”
“Ch-chotto! Just what do you mean by that?” Yohji demanded. He was perturbed more by the intensity of the green gaze than the actual words themselves. There was something odd and very fixed about Schuldich’s eyes on his.
“Well, you, Kudou,” Schuldich said, extracting a hand from his pocket to gesture towards him. “I’ve heard that you’re a determined player. Yet the thoughts you treasure most dearly at this moment are of men, not of women.”
“Omae-” Yohji gasped.
Schuldich’s smile widened. “Kudou, who knew?”
Yohji glared at him. “Ken knows,” he said, forcing calm into his voice. “He’s the one I l-”
“Love?” Schuldich threw back his head and laughed. “Oh, that’s a good one, Kudou; you’re thoroughly deluding yourself. If you think one iota of your feeling has something to do with love, tell me another one. This is *too* interesting.”
Yohji scowled at him. He didn’t dare open his mouth. Was this man a carnival trickster?
“Omi, on the other hand…” the redhead began, gesturing with an expressive hand. His smile had turned wicked.
“You leave Omi out of this!” Yohji burst out, forgetting his resolve. He didn’t want this pervert even thinking of Omi that way! The only reason he, Yohji, had kissed him like he meant it was that Omi had caught him by surprise. He was too…
“Really, Kudou, he’s not too young at all,” Schuldich told him. “Boys his age are fathers nowadays. At least with Omi’s preferences he won’t have to worry about that problem, eh?”
“Kono yarou!” Yohji launched himself from behind the counter.
Schuldich blocked his fist easily, then heaved him back. Yohji stood warily, eyeing his opponent. He didn’t even know this man. How did the redhead know so much about him? Masaka!! Had Schuldich been snooping around Omi? Rage boiled up in him.
The bell over the door jingled, and both men half-turned.
“Ara!” Omi’s eyes rounded. “Yohji-kun. Isn’t Aya-kun supposed to be working today, too?” There was a boy at Omi’s elbow in a blue school uniform. He saw the redhead and his eyes narrowed.
“He’s not,” Yohji said shortly. “Ken took over his shift, and he’s out running orders.” He glared at the redhead.
Schuldich gave him an amused grin. “Be seeing you.”
*Not if I can help it,* Yohji snarled in the silence of his own mind.
And Schuldich *winked* at him. Damned bastard!
“Now that you’re here, Omi, I’m going to go take a smoking break,” Yohji said hurriedly. He tossed his apron to the side and vanished into the back, turning deliberately away from Schuldich.
“Ma-matte-Yohji-kun…” Yohji heard the faint plea behind him, then Omi’s gusty sigh. “Oh well… Naoe-kun, have a seat.”
Naoe? Who was Naoe? Ah, well. Yohji didn’t care if Omi kissed a legion of boys, as long as he didn’t go around kissing Ken.
Ken checked his order list, made sure the flowers were secure in the shop’s scooter, and pulled his goggles on as he got ready to go.
Damn that Yohji, anyhow! How dared he get in the way! Even if Yohji had feelings for him, that didn’t mean Ken had a return obligation. If Ken wanted to pursue Omi, he had every right.
Well, that was what Ken thought, at any rate. And since Omi had seemed more than willing…
“That’s a funny-looking bike,” an accented voice rasped.
Ken half-turned. “Huh?”
A lean muscled man with white hair stood braced against the wall, regarding him. One eye was covered with an eye patch; the other was topaz and glittered at him with a frightening look.
“Who the hell’re you?” Ken blustered, backing up a step and wishing he had his bugnuk with him. This guy had a feral look to him, like he wasn’t quite tamed.
“Farfarello,” the guy responded, pushing away from the brick wall. “You’re kinda cute, you know?” And he pulled out a knife from somewhere and licked the gleaming edge.
Ken felt queasy. He’d thought *Aya* was sick??
“You’re not,” Ken retorted. “What do you want? This is the *back* of the flower shop, you know?”
“I don’t care about flowers,” the man - Farfarello - said, taking a few lunging, catlike steps for him. “I just want to pay attention to *you.*”
“Ahh, domo, but no thanks!” Ken lifted up has hands, darting around the scooter, putting it between himself and Farfarello. Somehow he didn’t think it would be much help. “I don’t think it’s the kind of attention I want!”
“Don’t you like my knives?” Farfarello murmured. Suddenly there was another knife in his other hand. Ken blinked, thought about screaming like a girl and running for his life, and backed up a few more steps.
“Uhh… they’re great.” *Just don’t get them anywhere near me!* “What are you doing here? What do you want?”
“I was waiting for someone,” Farfarello said, then lifted his knife and took another lick. He grinned at Ken. “Then I spotted you and things seemed more…interesting.”
Ken gulped. How was he going to get out of this one? He was fast, and he knew a few moves, but Farfarello had two knives and moved like a trained fighter, so he was surely every bit as fast. And had the advantage of weaponry.
The man turned his head and Ken could see annoyance in his expression. “That was fast, Schuldich,” the man rasped.
Standing at the end of the alley was the man who’d been in the shop earlier, the foreign guy with red hair. He lifted a hand. “Time to go, Farfarello.”
Farfarello’s gold eye gleamed. “I’m not ready, Schuldich.” He transferred his attention back to Ken.
Ken stood poised on the balls of his feet, ready for fight or flight. Adrenaline was starting to kick in.
“Ahh, good,” Farfarello cooed. “Looks like you’re ready for some foreplay.”
*Giku!* Ken grimaced and scooted to one side, keeping the delivery vehicle in between them. This was not the kind of attention he wanted!
“Farfarello, NOW!” Schuldich’s tone was exasperated.
Farfarello sighed, and shook himself. He stowed the knives away, the one good eye fixed on Ken. “Maybe later, Ken-ken.”
“Don’t call me that!” Ken stared at him, aghast. Did he know this guy?
Farfarello smirked at him and trotted up the alley, towards Schuldich. “Be seeing you.” And blew him a kiss with two fingers.
Ken exhaled an explosive breath. “Oh, GROSS!” *What have I done to deserve that!?*
When he was sure the two foreign guys were gone, Ken hopped on the scooter. Like it or not, there were still deliveries to be done. And maybe if he hurried, he’d be back in time to play with Omi!
At the “Magic Bus” Hospital, it was a peaceful day. The sun shone and children played on the grounds outside; the ones well enough to do so, at any rate. Fujimiya Ran, known as Aya, stopped and shaded his eyes, watching the kids toss a ball, laugh, smile…having fun, the way children were supposed to do.
“Aya…” the man sighed, resuming his walk into the hospital. *How long has it been since I’ve seen you laugh or smile?* His life would never be complete again, unless it could happen some day. Even once he finished his vengeance on her killer, his life would be a hollow and empty shell. *Without her smile.*
Aya passed the nurses’ station without a look or glance, his expression cold even though he could hear them whispering and chatting about him. *Such a handsome guy…* *Comes here almost every day…* *Never seen him smile…* Aya had no smiles for people like these. They worked here in this place of sickness, but had no understanding of his pain.
He pushed open the door to his sister’s room. Aya-chan lay in her bed as she had every day for all this time. Her hands were folded softly over her chest, her peaceful face a contrast to the emotions that burned inside him.
“Aya, I’m here.” A lump was frozen in his throat, like the cold feelings inside. With careful hands he emptied the old flowers from the bedside vase and replaced them with the fresh bouquet he’d brought. *Open your eyes…Aya…I’m still here!*
He stood beside her bed and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. Her eyes did not open, as they hadn’t from the first paralyzing moment of her injury. The doctors had been pragmatic and informed them that because of her coma, even if she woke up she might never fully recover. Still, as a member of Weiss he could afford quality care. Though she never woke, there were nurses who moved her limbs every day in a passive form of exercise. Though her eyes never opened, her body was being maintained. She was so thin and fragile, though; far thinner than she had been on that day she’d turned sixteen. That was because she was on intravenous nourishment. It was like death, but without its finality.
Aya stood silent vigil over her unmoving form until he couldn’t bear it any longer. He couldn’t bring himself to stay, but he came back nearly every day. She was his sister, she was the only tie left to his previous life, and it was something he couldn’t give up. He had stopped hoping for miracles a long time ago, but Aya-chan still wasn’t dead. It wasn’t hope, but it was something.
“Goodbye, Aya-chan,” he said softly in the quiet room. “I’’ll see you tomorrow.”
Aya-chan didn’t respond. She never did. The only thing he heard was the almost-inaudible, involuntary intake and exhalation of breath. Not-quite-death.
He pushed the door open and stalked past the nurses, who eyed him with speculative expressions. He caught the quiet undertone of one of the really pretty ones, a blonde, as he passed; low enough that she hadn’t meant for him to hear it, but he had sharp ears.
“Such a shame…”
His face stiffened. They had no right to pity him.
The beautiful day outside was like a mockery of the feelings inside. His world was awry because of this; why shouldn’t the rest of it reflect that? There were dark beasts that lurked within all humanity, and he knew every day because he was one of the hunters. A day like this seemed out of place with that knowledge.
There was a tall figure beside one of the trees, too tall and broad-shouldered to be a child or teenager. Aya drew closer, glancing the man over, and froze. *Him.* His mind seethed with loathing.
The man smirked as he saw Aya halt. He pushed his glasses up and stepped away from the tree. “Why would someone like you be visiting the hospital uninjured, on a day like this?” The man’s voice was low, mellow, and carried to him from a distance. Aya held his ground wary.
“None of your business,” he spat. *This* was the man who’d stood in his way, stopping him from killing Takatori. If *this* man hadn’t stopped his katana, Takatori might have lain dead at his feet, and satisfaction, and his *vengeance,* obtained.
“Of course not,” the man allowed, smiling wider. A hateful sight. “But I am interested nonetheless.”
“Unless you have some business with me,” Aya ground out, resuming his steps, “get out of my way.” Takatori wasn’t here. Aya had no motivation for killing this man, and besides, his katana was in the car. And with a hospital so close, the man might survive.
“Not really,” the man said. “Pure curiosity, really. My associates have been checking out their counterparts in the Weiss team, and I thought I’d do the same.”
“I have no intention of fighting you here,” Aya said flatly. He kept walking.
“Who said anything about fighting?” the man said, tone dulcet. Amused.
Unwillingly, Aya halted. He turned to look at the man again. His tall, broad-shouldered Western body filled out the expensive suit but he looked like any other businessman. His expression was sly and confident. “What do you mean by that?”
“Oh, you’ll see,” the man laughed, pushing his glasses up again. He folded his arms and gave Aya a challenging look. “Personally, I don’t think you’re my type. But my associates may have more luck with the others.”
Aya growled deep in his throat and took a step forward. “You’ve got nerve, attacking in broad daylight.”
The man laughed again, and walked towards him. Aya stood rigidly, unwilling to give ground to the other man. “You really are single-minded, Fujimiya-kun,” he said. One hand patted his shoulder in passing. “Don’t worry, I’m completely uninterested. But the others should have a good time. You would, too, if you weren’t so uptight.”
Aya whirled to smack the other man’s hand away, and the man eluded him with a smirk.
“Mata ne, Fujimiya-kun.” A soft chuckle. “It’s a shame, really; you’ve got such a fine body and face, but your personality turns me off.”
Aya’s cheeks burned as the meaning finally sunk in.
Crawford got into his car at the curb and drove off. After a long moment, Aya resumed the walk to his own.
Halfway through the drive home, the *real* meaning filtered through. Aya’s violet eyes widened. *But my associates may have more luck with the others.* They were going to try…seduction??
Ridiculous. His teammates were all men.
“So you like working in the flower shop?” Nagi blew on his tea to cool it, then sipped.
“Maa…” Omi scratched at his head. He sipped his own tea. “It’s a living, I guess. I go to school and I work at the shop.” *And I’m an assassin by night.* He sipped at his tea again to prevent a chuckle. Saying something like that wouldn’t impress Nagi! Especially since it sounded like a lie.
“I’m glad you invited me up for tea, Omi,” Nagi said, giving him a coy glance from beneath heavy-lidded eyes. His lashes were thick and black.
“E-eh! Me, too!” Omi said instantly. He put his tea down, then laid his hand on the table.
“So, um… do you have someone?” Nagi’s hand slipped across the table, and crept over his knuckles, covering Omi’s hand.
Omi thought of Yohji-kun and their kiss. Then he thought of the look in Ken-kun’s eyes when he’d said Yohji-kun had confessed to him. Yohji-kun…might never take him seriously.
“No, I don’t,” he answered with a smile. He turned over his hand and clasped Nagi’s hand.
Nagi’s face brightened. “That’s wonderful!” He scooted his chair closer to Omi’s. “Do you wanna make out now?”
Omi turned bright red. “N-Nagi-kun!”
“What?” Nagi said defensively. “Why wait?”
Omi thought about it. He chewed on his lip.
“Here,” Nagi purred, leaning over. “Let me do that…” He bent in close and his lips touched Omi’s, then small sharp teeth closed over Omi’s bottom lip, gentle but stimulating.
“Ohh…” Omi’s eyes fell closed and he began to kiss back.
Nagi-kun knew how to *kiss.*
... to be continued?? ...