The slanting sun set fire to crimson petals, warm beams gilding yellow
blossoms with gold. Its light transformed thin leaves into miniature green
shades to arch over pink buds, which were in turn limned with an uncanny echo of
the dawn. Outside, the sky was clear, blue, and cloudless. Inside, the world
swam in a sea of glowing pastels and luminescent primary colors. It was a
lovely, early spring morning.
A small calico neko rose from its nap spot in the center of the room - not coincidentally, in the center of the largest patch of warm sunlight in the shop -- and stretched luxuriously, red maw and gleaming white fangs exposed in a jaw-splitting yawn. There was noise above -- soon the ningen would be down here, with their noise and smells and clumsy feet. Best for the cat to find a little hidey-hole somewhere in the Koneko no Sumu, and wait until some of the chaos wore down.
With a flick of its tail, the neko darted away for corners uncharted, even as a large form crashed into the flower-filled room. "Oi, Yohji!" a youthful voice whined. "Why you gotta drag me out of bed so early?"
"Because," came the smooth drawl in reply, as a tall, loose-limbed figure strolled in after the disgruntled young man, "I'm going out later this afternoon, and I want to get the arrangements and deliveries done early, so that I have time to shower before I go."
"Taku." The average-height, average-build, average-featured youth glowered up at the other man, chocolate brown eyes flashing through thick, dark bangs. "Then why drag me along with you?! You've got no consideration for others!"
"Working alone is no fun." The taller of the two waved a graceful hand, then grinned and brushed back a summery curtain of honey-chestnut hair. "Besides, it's not as though you have anything better to do on a Sunday morning, ne, Ken?"
"Sleeping!" the wiry youth shot back, planting fists on his hips. He was dressed in rumpled cotton; a oversized teeshirt with baggy khaki pants, and looked as though he had just rolled out of bed in those clothes. "If you hadn't come pounding on my door at five in the morning, I could still be sleeping! Sheesh, Yohji! We're not even scheduled to be here until eight!!"
"Maa, maa." The taller young man grinned winningly. His rangy form was barely clad; a sleeveless croptop surmounting jeans so tight they must almost have been painted on. He tilted his head as he tugged gleaming swirls of silky hair back from his face and captured them in a loose scrunchie. Half the hair escaped to frame a soft oval face with heavy-lidded green eyes. "Don't you know an early start is good for you, Ken? You ought to be thanking me."
Ken glowered at him a moment longer, then stalked off in the direction of the coffee-maker.
Yohji chuckled softly to himself, grabbing an apron off the peg. He hated mornings even more than Ken, if possible, but it was worth acting cheery just to get the younger man's goat. He would have preferred to open the store with Omi -- sweet, pleasant Omi with the deliciously youthful figure -- but the youngest member of Weiss had a review session on this lovely day, and so wouldn't be in the shop until ten or so.
"Besides," Ken's muttering reached him from the rear of the shop, "the earlier the start we get, the earlier the girls crowd around the windows."
Yohji glanced at him, astonished at the resentment in the youth's tone. "What, you don't appreciate the flocks of admirers?" As was his tradition, Yohji's tone implied that if Ken wouldn't, Yohji was ready and willing.
"Not this early in the morning," Ken replied, coming back with two cups of black coffee.
Yohji accepted the mug proffered him gratefully. "When does Aya get here?"
"Not until we open," Ken growled, giving him the Evil Eye. "At least someone gets to sleep in." *Jerk,* Ken's tone seemed to add.
"Maa, maa," Yohji repeated, unfolding a crumpled paper from his pocket and snapping it open with a flick of his fingers. "Once you see the list of arrangements, you'll realize I really need the help."
"But why me?" Ken repeated his stubborn plaint.
Yohji raised a fine chestnut brow. "Omi has a review session. And *you* try getting Aya out of bed early on a Sunday morning."
Warm color rose up to fill Ken's cheeks, then the dark-haired youth was turning to grab an apron from its peg, face averted. He gulped down coffee with determination then smacked his lips, hissing at the scalding effect of the liquid.
Yohji's brow was joined by the other, incredulous. Why would Ken blush at such a simple question? Maa, ii ka.
"All right, Ken-ken, I divided-"
"Don't call me that!" Ken snapped, setting down his coffee mug with a crack.
Yohji tilted his head. "Fine. Kene-pon, I divided--" A vicious growl interrupted him. Yohji assumed it was the sound of Ken's stomach, shrugged, and continued. "--the list into two roughly equal sections, so that we can get things done pretty quickly."
Glaring, Ken snatched the list out of Yohji's hand. The taller man gave him an unrepentant grin. The dark-haired youth scanned over the list, then raised accusing, angry brown eyes.
"You call this EQUAL!?"
Some people were just *not* happy campers in the morning.
Despite a heated argument when Ken told Yohji to switch the two lists if they were *really* so equal as the older youth claimed, by the time Aya entered the shop -- precisely on time, at eight a.m. -- the arrangements were nearly finished, and the shop was quiet, almost peaceful. Contrary to expectations, no squealing fan-girls had descended, and the two flower-men were working together in nearly companionable silence. The television in the corner whispered soft background noise, and the only other sound was the rustle of leaves, interspersed with the occasional muttered curse when Ken pricked a finger.
A sliver-thin red brow rose, but the silent member of Weiss said nothing as he crossed to pull his own apron from the peg, lacing it on over the ever-present orange sweater and tan slacks.
"Ohayo, Aya," Ken chirped brightly, looking up from the delicate pink and baby's-breath arrangement he was currently whipping into shape. They really were all too good at this flower thing, considering it was only supposed to be a cover for their real jobs. Then again, they always had something to fall back on, if they were ever able to leave their lives as assassins behind....
The crimson-haired man flashed a narrow violet glance in Ken's direction, and Aya grunted something that might have been a return greeting.
"Aaah~!!" Yohji stood and stretched, hard stomach muscles quivering beneath the taut black of his croptop. "I'm taking a smoke break."
"You're done?" Ken blurted incredulously.
"Mochiron!" Yohji winked. "Unlike some people, I don't dawdle over my work, Ken-ken."
Ken let out a throttled sound that might have been a curse. "I knew you rigged the lists, Yohji!" he accused.
"Nonsense." Yohji smirked at the red-faced young man, tugging off his apron. "I'm just a more efficient worker than you, Ken."
"If you're going out, go pick up some breakfast," Aya inserted, flat voice quelling the rising violence in Ken's tone. The youngest present member of Weiss subsided, grumbling to himself as he poked viciously at the baby-shower arrangement he was finishing up.
"What? Aya!" Now it was Yohji's turn to protest. "I was just going to go outside for a few minutes! Have a heart!"
It was clear from the cold stare Aya leveled at Yohji, that the man didn't possess any such organ. A slim white hand delved into the petty-cash box, and then Aya thrust a small wad of bills at the tall man. "Here."
Yohji grimaced broadly, but accepted the money. "All right. But you eat whatever I bring back!" He leveled a finger at Aya's sharp nose.
The redhead simply fixed him with a stony stare.
Yohji sighed and schlepped out of the shop, bony shoulders slumped.
Silence descended over the shop. Again. Aya-kun wasn't much of a conversationalist in the morning, and Ken's cheeks warmed whenever he looked up long enough to catch a glimpse of the long, pale triangular face. It was enough to make any observer wonder what was going through the dark-haired youth's head -- if there had been any observers. Which there weren't.
Ken glanced up at the shop clock and his brows slanted downwards. "Where are they? It's almost eight-fifteen, and there's no sign of life."
Aya looked up from his newspaper, violet eyes indifferent. "Who?"
"The custom!" Ken waved his arms around expressively, caught Aya's eye, and looked away with another blush. The young man was in danger of damaging some facial capillaries. "You know, the girls? They're always here when we open!"
Aya transferred his attention back to the newspaper. "Maybe they're sleeping late."
Ken shook his head, picking up a flower-pot and transferring it to a spot closer to the window, and the caressing fingers of the sunlight. "They don't sleep late on Sundays," he said. "I swear, they have our hours posted next to their beds, so they can hop up and see what time they should be fixated outside our door in the morning."
Aya shrugged. "Maybe they're all in review sessions."
Ken grimaced. It was true, most of their custom was comprised of teenage girls. But still! Every other Sunday besides this one, they flocked to the "Kitty in the House," doing all but breaking down the glass in their mad rush to look at the pretty boys.
"I guess," Ken sighed at last. He looked around, surprised. This... wasn't so bad. He was so used to the early-morning Sunday bustle, he'd forgotten what it was like to have a quiet morning in the flower shop.
He looked up and a violet eye was fixed on him.
"What?" Ken jumped a little.
"Who's making the deliveries?" Aya demanded.
From long practice, Ken interpreted from his tone that Aya meant, 'of you and Yohji, which one of you is making the deliveries?' Since they were the ones who had been working on the list, he supposed it was only fair.
"Umm... Yohji is?" Ken rubbed his head sheepishly.
Aya continued to look at him -- rather coldly, Ken thought, feeling rather hurt.
"Yohji is out getting breakfast for us," Aya said at last. "Shouldn't you be doing the deliveries?"
"Datte... datte, Aya...." Ken batted his lashes at the crimson-capped marble statue. "You don't want me to leave before Yohji gets back with breakfast, do you? That wouldn't be fair! The deliveries will take me at *least* a couple hours...."
"Hn." From the twist of Aya's thin lips, he either hadn't thought of that, or he was considering it. Ken put on the most appealing, pathetic expression he could. It helped that his stomach growled rather loudly at that exact moment.
Ken grinned sheepishly at Aya, as the older youth gave him a rather sharp look. Well, he was hungry! None of their arrangements were due until around eleven -- that was plenty of time to wait for Yohji to return, eat whatever he brought back with him, and then get going! Honto!
Apparently Aya agreed, even if reluctantly, because he didn't offer any further protests.
As a sort of compromise, Ken spent a few minutes loading the scooter with the arrangements he and Yohji had spent the morning creating.
"How much longer is Yohji going to be?" Ken groused, once he'd finished. He was really *starving*!!! He felt as though his stomach was going to twist itself into an implosion at any moment.
Ken sighed. It wasn't as though he'd expected an any more focused answer -- Yohji was Yohji, and he tended to hold a liberal interpretation toward any task he was involuntarily assigned.
The bell on the door tinkled, and Aya and Ken both went on alert. Not because they were so needy for the custom, but because they were so used to that sound precluding a veritable flood of fan-girls from the local high schools.
But it was a single customer who wandered into the shop, hips swaying gracefully, long lavender hair flickering about a slim waist.
The really disconcerting part... was that it was a *guy*!!
Ken blinked, trying not to swallow his tongue. Whoa. This guy was more feminine than most of the girls that entered the shop! As tall as Yohji was, but otherwise... uh, yeah. Long lavender hair past his waist -- even when it was pulled up in a high ponytail. A tight black... body-suit... with a transparent violet scarf....
This guy couldnŐt *be* any more flaming!!!
"Anou...." Sleepy golden eyes blinked at Ken, focusing on him after a quick dismissal of Aya, as the most likely to be willing to help. "Is Kudou Yohji here?"
"Uh... uh.... Uh, he's not here... right now," Ken managed to stutter.
"Sou?" The pretty man blinked. "Well, he works here, right?"
"Un." Ken nodded. "Sometimes," he had to add.
Wide lips curved in a wicked smile. "I can see that. Well, then, could you pass on a message for me?"
"I... guess..." Ken mumbled, wondering what this guy could possibly have to do with Yohji.
His reward was a winning smile. "Arigatou!"
"Could you tell him I have to break our date for this afternoon?" The slender young man offered Ken a smile that was more seductive than anything else. "I'm sorry, but something else has come up."
"Uh.... Uh...." Ken tried to find his ability to articulate.
"We'll tell him." Aya came to his rescue, blunt as ever.
"Domo!" The tall, slender young man raised his hand and blew a kiss in Ken's direction. "Tell him to call me -- he has my number."
"U-un," Ken faltered, as the stranger sashayed out the front door with a last flick of his lean hips.
Once again, silence reigned in the 'Kitty in the House'. Ken managed to open and close his mouth a few times, but the sound of his jaw unhinging didn't exactly count.
Finally, he lifted a finger. "It wasn't."
Aya looked over him, raising his scarlet brows. "Ken." Just one word, the tone rather mild, was enough to get the youth's thoughts in gear again.
"That was NOT what I thought it was!" Ken said adamantly. "Yohji's a big playboy! Yohji would never -- I mean, that wasn't *really*--"
"Ken," Aya said again, tone shifting to more of a 'don't kid yourself' range.
"It was NOT a man!" Ken continued, supporting his own self-denial. "After all, Yohji would *never* have a... a... an outing with a man...." He mumbled the last few words very fast, as if trying to get past an unpleasant reality.
"Ken," Aya rolled his eyes.
"Yohji did not have a soiree with a member of the male sex!" Ken said rapidly, still trying to convince himself. "That man did not just come in here and break a... a *date* with Yohji! He was... he was talking about walking his dog, or something!"
"Ken," Aya reproved, in his 'Yohji doesn't have a dog' tone.
"It would never happen! Yohji is all over the girls! The ones over eighteen, at any rate... and there aren't that many that hang around the shop... and there aren't that many involved with our missions...." Ken's eyes widened, and he clenched his hands hard enough to make cracks in the pottery of the planter he held. "No! Absolutely not! Yohji did not have a date with any person possessing an XY chromosome and purple hair!"
Aya simply looked at him. "Ken," he shrugged his shoulders, in the tone of voice that signified, 'I wash my hands of it, if he can't accept that Yohji was bumping uglies with the pretty-boy who just walked out the door'.
Ken blinked a few times. He set the planter down. He gulped.
"What do we tell Yohji?"
"What do we tell Yohji, what?" The bell jingled above the door and Yohji was leaning on it, grinning, a brown paper bag in his hands.
"Nothing!" Ken yelped. "Absolutely nothing! You were not sleeping with another boy!"
"I... what?" Yohji said, puzzled, letting the door fall shut. He pushed his glasses up into his hairline and set the brown paper bag on the counter. Calmly, Aya tore into the doughnuts -- who knew Fujimiya Ran liked the raspberry jelly-filled ones with powdered sugar? -- and ignored the melodrama occurring before his eyes.
"Umm..." Ken scratched sheepishly at his ear.
"Ken, what's going on?" Yohji demanded, tone ominously quiet.
"Well... y'see... it's like this," Ken began, wondering if a quick dash to the back room would save him. No, he'd just have to keep going -- and that meant he *would* have to do all the deliveries for the noon hour, rather than pawning them off on Omi as he'd planned.
"Like what?" Yohji growled.
"Like... okay... someone stopped by to tell you there's no date this afternoon." Ken grimaced and looked at Aya for support. Aya lifted one scarlet brow and took another bite of jelly-filled doughnut.
"Some...one?" Yohji went white as a sheet. "Oh, no. Please tell me they didn't."
"Well, 'they' tendered 'their' apologies and said that you should call and knew 'their' number," Ken said helpfully, yelping when Aya casually backhanded him. "What? What did I say?"
"You have all the subtlety of a brick in the face," Aya took time away from his jelly doughnut to say.
Yohji groaned, putting his face in his hands. "Mirufi-Yu... how could you DO this to me?"
"What? Break the date?" Ken said helpfully, assimilating -- or just largely ignoring, hard to say which -- the fact that Yohji's prospective date had been a guy.
"No!" Yohji leveled a green glare at Ken through his fingers. "He OUTED me! To you guys, no less!"
"Oh." Ken thought about that for a few minutes. "Yeah, I guess he did. Yohji... I always thought you were *straight*!" He looked anguished once again, trying to grapple with the concept of Yohji with another hot, young male.
"I always thought you were bisexual," Aya added off-handed, then bit into his doughnut again. It seemed to be the only thing he cared about this morning. Then again, that wasn't terribly unusual.
Yohji choked on his coffee. "Well... I am!"
It took Ken a moment to process that one, while Yohji glared at Aya, who calmly reached into the box for a second jelly-filled donut. Then:
Yohji transferred his glare to Ken. "Yes, I am," he gritted from between clenched teeth. "But I don't see that it's any business of yours, Ken-ken!"
Ken blinked, ignoring the hated nickname, dismissing the clear warning-off Yohji had just uttered, in favor of a more fascinating line of thought. "I guess this explains a lot...."
"Explains *what*?" Slim, honey-dark brows lowered in a foreboding expression, lips firming in a grim line.
"Oh, lotsa things," Ken uttered blithely, breezing right past the obvious danger lurking in Yohji's hard green eyes. "The way you dress... the way you smell... the way you walk... the way you look at Omi sometimes... the tube of lubricant I found in the crack of the sofa--"
"WHAT?!?!" Yohji cut Ken off before he could catalog any further. "*How* do I look at Omi?!" he demanded furiously, planting fists on his hips. Then he paused, face going blank. "Anou... Ken, that was *not* my lubricant you found in the sofa."
"Eh?" Ken tilted his head, eyes wide and curious. "Then whose could it have been?"
He and Yohji stared at one another, clueless. Aya licked the powdered sugar off his lips, opened his mouth... then picked up the last jelly donut and shoved it in.
"Anyway, how do you *know *it wasn't yours?" Ken challenged with a toss of his head.
Yohji snorted. "Trust me, Ken. I'd know if I'd misplaced something like that. And I haven't. So it obviously has to belong to someone else."
"Maybe a boyfriend of yours dropped it," Ken mused thoughtfully, fingers at his chin. "That Mirufi-Yu guy seemed like he might be kinda flighty...."
Yohji exploded. "I have NEVER once, nor will I EVER, bring home a date to the apartment!" he thundered, slim hands fisting. Ken winced, raising a hand as though in defense. "AND I'LL THANK YOU TO STAY OUT OF MY PERSONAL BUSINESS, KENE-PON!" Yohji ended on a roar.
"Yohji, hidoi!" Ken protested, standing firm against the storm. "We're your friends, aren't we?"
"Sometimes I wonder," Yohji muttered. Ken ignored him.
"You really *should* bring your boys by, Yohji," the soccer-enthusiast offered impishly. He was starting to get over the shock of Yohji's being outed, and beginning to enjoy teasing Yohji as the older man so often teased him -- only on an unutterably more embarrassing subject! "Maybe Omi would like to meet some of them!"
"URUSAI YO!" Yohji howled, working himself up into a fine froth. "I do NOT sleep with teenagers or little boys! I sleep with fully-consenting, over-the-age-limit, hot *men*! Not boys! I sleep with MEN!"
So involved was Yohji in defending his character against accusations of shotakon, he did not hear the cheery 'jingle-jingle' in the middle of his tirade. It was only when Ken's eyes went over his shoulder and the dark-haired youth blinked, then smirked, that Yohji realized someone else had entered the shop.
He spun around. Omi looked back at him, wide-eyed, leaning up against the flower shop door and panting a little, as if from a hard run.
"Ah, Omi, I can explain," Yohji lifted a hand.
"Oh, go on," Ken said, folding his arms, "I want to hear this."
"Can we talk about it later?" Omi said plaintively. "Right now I want to lock the door!"
"Why-- ah... oh," Yohji took an involuntary step back as a wave of teenage girls crashed against the front of the shop. Some of them slammed into the door and forced it open, bowling Omi over before he'd even managed to snag an apron.
"They *were* all at the review session," Ken said wisely.
Aya just grunted and polished off the doughnuts before anyone else got a chance at them.
In all the chaos, Omi managed to sidle up next to Yohji as two different girls were asking him to help them select flower-pot arrangements. "Yohji-kun, why didn't you tell me?" he asked, tone hurt. "I thought we were friends!"
"I... er... well... that is to say...." Yohji flushed. They were surrounded by teenagers, and the linchpin of their adoration rested on his heterosexual status. "I had my reasons!"
"But surely you'd realize *I* would be understanding, even if Aya and Ken would be somewhat narrow-minded," Omi persisted.
"Look, can we not talk about this now?" Yohji hissed, eyes frantic.
Omi gave him the big puppy-dog eyes, but seemed to accede to the inherit restrictions of the moment. After all, while surrounded by a flock of young female fans... well, that was probably not the best time for a frank discussion of *anyone's* sexual orientation. Especially not Yohji's.
Sundays were the worst, because there was no school for the girls to be attending. Monday through Saturday, the boys usually worked the morning and a couple of hours into the afternoon, thus avoiding the worst of it. On Sundays, there was no respite. They had been lucky this morning, that it had been so quiet. No more. They were trapped.
They all handled it remarkably well -- not that they weren't adept at it by now. But today was hardly any normal day. Yohji practiced his charm with only a slight edge of desperation. Ken made a few pointed remarks and smirked in Yohji's direction a bit more than would normally be warranted, but otherwise didn't handle things too badly. Omi was his usual, polite, genki self... though he directed more than a few meaningful glances towards the eldest member of the staff. And Aya... well, Aya was his usual rude self and cleared the shop of as many potential customers as he did of penniless rabble.
"Hai, domo... hai, domo... hai, domo...." Ken put his intelligence to use and stayed behind the counter, ringing up the fansquad. Some inane Hallmark holiday was coming up, and somehow it had survived the trek overseas, taking root firmly on Nippon soil. This meant that young girls had to buy flowers. A lot of flowers.
"Ahhh, no, you can't have that pot yet," Omi said frantically to one pretty face, turning at a tug to his sleeve. "Umm, Ken-kun can ring you up Saori-san.... No, Michiru-san, we don't have any specials on rose bouquets right now.... Yes, the tulip does come in red and purple...." The youngest member of Weiss looked ready to dive behind entrenchments and raise the barbed wire.
Yohji's stomach growled loudly. All this stress -- Mirufi-Yu breaking the date, the other boys finding out he was bi, coping with a swarm of teenagers buying for holiday -- was piled on top of the enormously important fact that he hadn't had breakfast. While he and Ken were sparring verbally, Aya had somehow managed to down an entire sack of jelly doughnuts with powdered sugar, by himself. How rude!
He sighed and pushed back his face-framing locks of chestnut hair. He took a deep breath.
"FIVE MINUTES!" Yohji bellowed. "Five minutes, and we're CLOSING FOR LUNCH!"
There was a lot of sniffling and large doe-like eyes turned in his direction. A few peanut gallery cries of 'hidoi!' reached his ears.
"No exceptions!" Aya added, pale face with his rigidly-compressed mouth daring anyone to try.
"Fine," Michiru sniffed, snatching a rose bouquet out of hapless Omi's hands and marching up to the counter. "Ring me up, Ken-san!"
Within five minutes, miraculously, the flower shop was emptied under Aya's cold watchful gaze. A couple of girls may have called him nasty names under their breath, but no one actually heard anything. It was with a sigh of relief that Omi trotted up to the door, turned the lock, and flipped the sign to 'Closed for Lunch'.
Then the youngest member of Weiss turned around, blue eyes huge and doe-like as any of the girls, and asked ingenuously, "Yohji-kun? When did you start sleeping with men?"
Yohji choked and turned about three different colors in under a minute.
Ken grinned wickedly, then took pity on their oldest flower-assassin. "Why don't we wait until we're sitting down with lunch to discuss this question?"
"Fine with me," Omi said agreeably. "The ramen shop around the corner?"
"Out of the question!" Yohji growled.
"We can make sandwiches at home," Ken said. "And there's leftover Chinese in the fridge."
"That's days old!" Omi objected. "Only Aya would eat something like that!"
"I'd rather have the Chinese than Ken's sandwiches," Aya grunted.
Ken turned a hurt look on the redhead, who ignored it quite easily.
"Home it is," Yohji stated, relief plain on his features.
"Yosh'!" Omi grabbed up the bookbag he'd tucked behind the counter shortly after entering the flower shop; before he'd begun dealing with the horde of customers; and swung it over his shoulder by one strap. Evidently, the zipper hadn't been fastened all the way, and the sudden motion widened the gap, spilling half its contents over the floor beside the young boy. Omi let out a yelp of dismay.
"Watch it," Ken uttered unnecessarily.
"Acha...." Yohji knelt to help Omi retrieve the scattered belongs, then paused, long-fingered hand closing around a thick volume of manga. "Ara?"
"Yohji-kun!" Omi blurted, face blazing a brilliant shade of red as he made a swipe at the captured book. "Give me that!"
Yohji jumped back gracefully, still down on one knee, then looked up at Omi, eyes twinkling over the edges of his sunglasses, mouth curling in a wicked grin. "Saa, Omi.... Is there something we should know?" he asked, holding up the manga for display.
"Give it back!" Omi stamped a little foot, cheeks flaming. "Yohji-kun~!!!"
"What is it?" Ken crowded closer, intrigued by the expression of evil satisfaction on Yohji's oval face. "Is it a hentai manga?"
"Heh." Yohji stood smoothly, holding the volume up out of reach as Omi made a desperate grab for it. "A hentai *yaoi* manga...."
"What?!" Ken blurted, brown eyes rounding.
"Mou~!!" Omi sank his face in his hands.
Yohji snickered. Then his face darkened. "Oi! Omi! What was that you were saying to me? Something about being friends... understanding? You've been keeping secrets, kouzou!"
"It's not mine!" Omi blurted desperately. "I was... was just holding it -- for someone at school!"
"Uh-huh," Ken grinned up from where he was gathering together more of Omi's belongings from the floor. "And I suppose your 'classmate' did these sketches, too!"
Omi's huge blue eyes blazed. "Ken-kun!!"
Ken collected the loose pages that had spilled from Omi's notebook, and began paging through them. "You've got some talent, Omitchi," he drawled. Then his face stuttered into a shocked expression. "Whoa! Is this Yohji?!"
"Let me see that!" Yohji ripped the paper from Ken's grip. Omi made another half-hearted grab, but he seemed to have accepted his defeat. Yohji examined the amateur pornography. "Not bad, not bad. HEY!!" Sleepy emerald eyes rounded. "Omi! You drew me with *Aya*?!?" He made gagging sounds.
"I didn't draw those!" Omi wailed. "Honto!!"
"And you didn't sign your name to them either, huh?" Ken grinned, gathering together the binders and textbooks scattered over the flower shop floor. Yohji was still staring at the drawing with an expression of sick fascination on his face. Aya edged unobtrusively closer, attempting to peer over the taller man's shoulder without looking as though he was interested.
"Augh!" Omi banged a fist against his forehead.
"Looks like you're not the only fey one in the shop, ne, Yohji?" Ken asked gleefully. He stood, then blinked as a smattering of photographs escaped the confines of Omi's dayplanner. "Oops! What are those?"
Omi let out a screech that would have done Farferello proud, and made a dive for the spilled photos, but Yohji fended him off with his free hand.
"What *are* those?" he asked Ken, green eyes gleaming.
"They're really quite ingenious!" Ken chortled, elbowing a squawking Omi out of reach and fanning them out for everyone's viewing pleasure. "What is he doing, levitating the camera?"
Printed in plain sight on eight by five glossies was Omi's incontrovertible proof of fey-ness: he was interlocked with another male. Not just content with being entwined, the two teens were near naked and posed in some fairly graphic - and fairly flexible - positions. One of them was definitely, obviously Omi. The other...
"Hey, isn't that the little Schwarz brat?" Yohji poked a finger at the glossy photos.
"You guys, stop it!" Omi stamped a foot, on the verge of crying. "This isn't any of your business!"
"Hmm." Yohji tucked the drawings into the waistband of his jeans, crossing his arms. "I say we go to lunch."
Omi's blue eyes wavered, went to the band of Yohji's jeans, then he flushed. "Kaeshite, Yohji-kun! Those are mine!"
"Ah-ha!" Yohji lifted a finger. "So you admit it!"
Omi turned green. "Give them back!"
"What about these?" Ken brandished the sheaf of pictures. "These are definitely yours, Omitchi!"
"C'mon, let's go have lunch," Yohji prompted, flipping open the hentai yaoi manga.
"Give that back, too!" Omi made a desperate grab for it, caught the edge of a page, and it ripped, pulled in different directions. Now Omi really did screech. "YOHJI-KUN!!"
Yohji blinked. "Well, you should've let go." He cocked an eyebrow at the teenager. "And you should've told me that little secret of yours, Omi-chan. We could've allied against Ken."
"Hey!" protested the dark-haired youth, but it was more of a token protest. He was examining another photo, eyes bugging at the sheer audacity of the pose. "Omi, how on earth..."
"Ken-kun," Omi pleaded, close to weeping again. "PLEASE give those photos back! I... I... don't have any negatives!"
"Ho?" Yohji exhaled, grinning. "Was it a digital camera, or did the Schwarz brat keep them for blackmail?"
"Don't call him that!" Omi flushed. "He's not a brat, he's my lover!"
"A-HA!" Ken pounced verbally. "So you admit it!"
Omi's eyes went wide and he clapped his hands over his mouth. "I didn't... I mean... it wasn't... really, I...."
"Omitchi," Yohji drawled, "you really shouldn't be sleeping with the enemy."
Omi drew himself up. "Nagi's not one to mix business and pleasure!"
"Anou... Omi, you're a member of Weiss. You *are* business!" Ken protested.
"No!" Omi shook his head, adamant. "The other members of Schwarz are 'business' -- I'm pleasure!"
Yohji burst into startled laughter. Ken blinked. Aya -- behind everyone's backs -- rolled his eyes. At least he wasn't hungry, since *he'd* eaten all the donuts that morning. But this was getting a little old and he was ready to move on. Unfortunately, Ken and Yohji seemed intent on beating the subject into the ground.
"*What* did you just say, Omitchi?" Yohji hooted, as Omi turned a brand new shade of crimson in a day full of flushed faces.
"That didn't come out quite like I meant," he quavered, rubbing at one temple. "Yohji-kun, you know I didn't mean...." He faded away and sighed heavily.
"Well, judging from these photos, I'd say Nagi probably agrees with that assessment," Ken chuckled, lifting the stack if pictures and tilting them. He cocked his head the opposite direction. "How in the *hell* did you get your leg all the way up-- HEY!!"
Yohji chortled as Omi made a successful grab for the photos, snatching them back and clutching them to his chest. "Too slow, Ken-ken!"
"Don't call me that!" Ken snapped.
"Can we just go have lunch?" Omi asked plaintively. "I'm gay, and so's Yohji-kun. Can't we just forget about it?"
"I'm not gay -- I'm bisexual!" Yohji protested at the same moment Ken replied; "No way am I forgetting about this! This is just too good!"
"Besides," Yohji continued, as Aya snorted and stalked up the stairs, the other boys trailing behind. "You weren't about to let me forget earlier, Omi! Of course, now I understand the interest, but...."
"Nani?!" Omi blurted. "*What* do you understand?! Mou~! Yohji-kun!!"
They were still arguing as they entered the apartment. Aya was sitting on the couch, flipping channels -- when he was home no one else was allowed control of the remote -- and Ken headed for the kitchen to get some lunch going. Aya was eating the leftover Chinese -- cold -- already but he knew the other two would appreciate his finely crafted sandwiches. Besides, if he was in the kitchen, that meant he could start munching right away -- after all, *he* hadn't gotten any breakfast either!
"What's this?" Yohji took a moment away from his verbal sparring with Omi to ask. There was a rather large -- actually, *very* large -- package in plain brown wrapping sitting on the end table.
Aya grunted. "Was sitting outside the door." It was to be assumed that he had carried it inside and set it on the table. Hell, they were lucky he had deigned to speak an entire five word sentence.
"It might be a bomb!" Omi gasped melodramatically.
Yohji groaned. Then he pulled off his sunglasses and peered at the label. "Wait... I know this store. But I don't remember ordering anything from them...." He looked closer and his mouth rounded in a circle. "This is for... Ken?!?"
"What store is it, Yohji-kun?" Omi piped, crowding in closer. "Lotus... Love..." he read, tipping his head. "I've never heard of it, Yohji-kun. What do they sell?"
Startlingly, Yohji began laughing like a maniac, causing Omi to jump back in fright. He quickly stifled this response, and his nimble fingers moved to the tape holding the package together. "This I *gotta* see!!!"
"Ara?" Omi blinked. "Ara?" He hovered over Yohji as the man began to tear off the brown wrapping with several disturbing chuckles. At one point he paused and pulled a box knife out of his tight jeans pocket.
Blink. "Yohji-kun, I didn't know you kept one of those there."
Yohji sliced through the strands of security tape. "Do you know how many boxes we open in a single day at the shop?"
"A lot," Omi nodded. But Yohji didn't seem the type to do something so... responsible....
"Ja!" Yohji peeled open the flaps with another deep chuckle and one green eye gleamed up at Omi. "You sure you wanna see this, kid?"
"I'm not a kid, Yohji-kun!" Omi protested, smacking him on the shoulder. Really, they could take things too far!
"No, but you are underage," Yohji turned his attention back to the box, delving into the plastic cocoon of packing. He shook his head and whistled. "Ken. You didn't."
"Didn't what? What?" Omi said anxiously. "What is it?"
Yohji pulled something free of the box and the plastic wrappings. Something large and pink and somewhat jiggly. Something disturbingly phallic-shaped and connected to a control pad. Yohji began laughing maniacally again, pressed a button, and the contraption began to buzz and rotate.
Omi shrieked and put his hands over his eyes. "Put that thing away!"
Yohji wiped away a few tears of laughter and turned the thing off. He set it on top of the box and rummaged around. "That can't be *all* he ordered with such a large box...."
"There's more?" Omi gasped. "I'm not sure I want to see!"
"Hey, I warned you," Yohji shrugged. "Aha!" He pulled out some tapes. "Ooh, these must be naughty... all they have is a white paper jacket."
Omi peeked through his fingers. "Really?"
"Here," Yohji tossed him a tape.
"Wahh!" Omi dropped it like a hot coal.
"Guys?" Ken's voice came from the kitchen. "What are you doing out there?"
"Riffling through your stuff," Aya replied calmly.
Ken dashed into the living room, skidding on his house slippers. Yohji grinned at him and held up the pink dildo. It jiggled. Omi looked up at him with traumatized eyes.
"Ken-kun! You thought pictures were bad?" he inquired mournfully. Then his eyes narrowed. "Hey! Is that why you wanted to keep them!?"
Ken crashed to the floor.
"Let's see what else is in here...." Yohji delved into the box once more.
"WAH!" Ken was suddenly on his feet, grabbing at his tall team mate. "Get out of there, Yohji! That's my stuff!!!"
"So you admit it!" Yohji crowed, fending Ken off with ease. "Ooh, what's this?!"
"I don't wanna know..." Omi whimpered, shaking his head, but unable to tear his wide blue eyes away. "What *is* it, Yohji-kun?"
"Knock it off, Yohji!" Ken howled. "Get out of there!!"
"Hmmm...." Yohji plucked a few random items from the packing material. "Ribbed sheepskin condoms... body oil... flavored lubricant...." He glanced up, smirking, then took an adroit step back as Ken moved to elbow him out of the way by main force. "You sure that wasn't *your* lube in the sofa, Ken?"
"No!" Ken started stuffing erotic toys back into the box willy-nilly, then swept the flaps back into place. "Yohji, you jerk! Why'd you open my box?!"
"More to the point," Yohji drawled, resting a lean hip against the end table, "Is why you ordered that stuff, Ken. I *know* you don't have a girlfriend, and some of that stuff was most definitely *not* meant for anyone of female persuasions! You've been keeping secrets, Ken-ken!"
"So?" Ken snapped, clutching the unwieldy box to his chest. "I'm not the only one around here! And at least I'm not screwing one of our enemies!"
"Ken-kun, hidoi!" Omi smacked the back of Ken's head, rather hard.
Ken winced. "Gomen, Omi."
"Hn!" Omi sniffed, folding his arms and scowling.
"You know, Ken," Yohji said, tilting his head. "If you're looking to get yourself ready for Aya, you're gonna need a dildo at *least* three sizes smaller than that."
Aya looked up from where he was scraping around the Chinese take-out box for the last bits of rice, and gave Yohji a chilling stare. "Some night, when you're not expecting it, I will kill you in your sleep."
"Brr!" Yohji mimed a full-body shiver, while Ken turned a few more shades of red that Omi hadn't covered yet. "You're almost scaring me, Aya!"
"Anyhow!" Omi blurted. "Our lunch break is almost over and we've got to get back to the shop. If anyone has any remaining traumatic secrets to spill, now is the time so we can just get it out of our systems and get back to work!"
Everyone looked at Aya.
Aya licked crumbs of rice off his lips, opened his mouth... then picked up his last wonton and shoved it in.
Ken glared defensively at Omi and Yohji, shifting from foot to foot with the box in his arms. "I'm not gay, I'm just curious!" he averred. He turned, stalked through the common area, and shoved the box into his room before picking a sandwich off the plate and stalking out the door.
"That's what they all say... at first," Yohji murmured, then followed suit, grabbing a sandwich to munch on in the shop.
"Wait! No eating in the shop!" Omi yelped, hurrying after them "And Yohji-kun, I'd really like my drawings back... please?"
A reply floated back that sounded something like, 'not unless you're willing to trade your favors for them!' Omi yelled something very rude and un-Omi-like back in response, stampeding down the stairs.
Aya raised a speculative red brow, then quite unashamedly opened Ken's door and began to riffle through the box. "Sheepskin condoms... videos... flavored lubricant...."
"Aya-kun, are you coming with us, or not?" Omi's voice reached him.
Aya pushed the box shut, closed the door, and moved unhurriedly to the video still lying on the floor. "Not just yet," he called back. He looked at it for a moment, then picked it up.
Once again, a stampede crashed its way up the abused stairs.
The door was flung open, Ken in the lead with a frantic look on his face and Yohji on his heels. "Shit, Aya, I forgot my--"
"Don't let him get the--" Yohji yelled, trying to grab Ken in a headlock.
"--VIDEO!" they burst out, jammed in the doorway and trying to wrestle their way into the room.
"This video?" Aya put it on the coffee table, then seated himself on the couch and contained a smirk. It would be fun to see who got to it first. Not that he would ever admit to having fun while his beloved sister still lay in a coma, dead to the world and the people who loved her.
"MY video!" Ken yelled, trying to elbow Yohji in the solar plexus.
"Oh, so you admit it?" Yohji was grinning from ear to ear, dodging Ken's clumsy punches and striking in quick for a nerve pinch.
"It's not a gay video! It's just a video!" Ken yelped and squirmed in pain as Yohji clamped the sensitive nerve in his neck.
"Oh yeah?" Yohji challenged, letting go of Ken, who was too immobilized with pain to retaliate. He bolted for the video, scooped it off the table, and popped it in the VCR. "Let's see the proof!"
"NO!" Ken howled.
Yohji reached for the remote and blinked, befuddled, when it was twitched out from under his fingers.
"No," Aya told him coldly, in the tone everyone knew as 'MY remote, so don't even think about it'.
"C'mon, man," Yohji wheedled. "At least press 'play', willya?"
Aya looked at him suspiciously. "Why should I?"
Ken charged towards Yohji.
"Oops!" Yohji ducked under him gracefully, whirling for the VCR and pressing 'PLAY' manually. "All right, let's see...."
The tape began to play over the screen. Obviously someone had watched it before packaging, or else it had never been fully rewound after taping, because the video was right in the middle. Omi crashed up the stairs just in time to catch the middle of the sex scene.
Yohji's mouth dropped open in shock. Ken turned blue. Aya merely lifted a brow, violet eyes flickering with some indefinable reaction. And Omi yelped, his voice breaking at the high point, before he clapped his hands over his eyes and turned away.
"I'm too young to be seeing this!" Omi said brokenly.
"Omi, you were *doing* that," Yohji said reasonably. "And you seem to have a good grasp of the concept, according to these...." He patted the drawings stuck in his waistband.
"Yes, but I wasn't doing it with a man twice my age!" Omi said, plainly horrified. "Ken-kun, how could you!"
"Shotakon," Yohji blinked his green eyes in amazement a few times. "I've never seen any of it. How the hell did you get this tape?"
Ken didn't answer. He was rigid in place, brown eyes gone blank. "I... I... it's not mine! I didn't know!"
"Yeah, right!" Yohji snickered. "I guess this explains why you like to hang around all the little neighborhood boys in their tight little shorts!"
"Yohji-kun!" Omi yelped, turning back to the action involuntarily, his round blue eyes wide with shock.
Aya's brow quirked again as he sat back on the couch. This ought to be... interesting....
Ken's face went sheet white... except for the two spots of furious crimson that blossomed over each cheekbone. His eyes were glazed over, but there was a fire kindling in their brown depths that was more than a little frightening. "Yohji...." He took a step forward, hands fisting.
"Erk." Yohji grimaced. Okay, maybe he'd gone a bit far this time... but it was a logical supposition! After all--!! "Um... Ken...."
Yohji moved to take a step back. Ken took two steps forward and, in a very deliberate move, planted his fist in Yohji's jaw; putting as much force behind the blow as his whipcord-taut, assassin's body would allow -- which was really quite a lot. Yohji was just lucky Ken wasn't wearing his bugnuk at the moment.
Omi shrieked. Even Aya winced. Yohji didn't so much stagger back as fly off his feet. He came to earth on the wood floor of the den, landing in a sprawl of lanky limbs and honey-chestnut hair.
There was silence for a long moment, then--
"Not the FACE!" Yohji yelled violently, glaring up at Ken through tangled curls as he struggled onto his elbows, one hand rising to cup his brutalized jaw. "God-DAMN you, Ken! You ought to know better than that! Fucker! *NEVER* hit my *FACE*!!!"
Ken was breathing hard, looking as though he might easily light into Yohji again. Perhaps it was the change in subject that was keeping him from launching a full-out beating -- whatever it was, his mind remained on the same track, refusing to be derailed.
"I. Am. Not. A. Shotakon. Pervert!!!!" He towered over Yohji, who -- to his credit -- was more upset about his bruised jaw than he was frightened by a rabid Ken.
"Ken-kun...." Omi sounded mournful.
Ken spun on the youngest member of Weiss, who jumped back with an 'eep', looking as though he was contemplating hiding behind the couch. "Omi~!!! You don't think--!!" He looked wounded.
"Datte..." Omi blinked wide eyes at Ken. "It's your video...."
Ken glared. "I didn't pick it out! I told the clerk to pick some videos out *for* me!! It's just his sick sense of humor that he put that in there!!!"
"Or maybe he recognized a shotakon hentai when he saw one," Yohji offered, levering himself up off the floor.
Ken rounded on him.
"If you hit my face again," Yohji snarled, emerald eyes flashing green death. "So help me, Ken, I'll garrote you without a second thought!!"
"Guys!!" Omi was wringing his hands. "We *really* need to get down to the shop!! Onegai?!?!"
Yohji and Ken glared at each other, voltage crackling between their locked gazes.
"Fine," Yohji gritted, "let's get back to the shop."
"Fine," Ken snapped, "but I'm not forgetting this anytime soon, Yo-tan!"
"And I," Yohji snapped back, "am not forgetting how mercilessly you teased me, when you were stowing away worse secrets, Ken-ken!"
"Don't call me Ken-ken!" Ken howled, cocking his fist, completely bypassing the 'worse secrets' part of the accusation.
"KEN-kun!" Omi yelped, leaping to grab Ken's upraised hand. "Both of you! We've got work to do, and we've always been able to put our differences aside to work together. So let's use a little of that ability right now, okay? We've got customers waiting!"
Ken's shoulders bunched and flexed, jaw muscles clenched, but he finally dropped his arm, shrugging Omi off. "Fine."
Eyeing him warily, Yohji got to his feet. "Whatever."
Omi nodded, blue eyes still darting between the two young men, on the alert for any further altercations. "Then let's go."
"We do have customers waiting," Ken said, giving Yohji a malicious glance. "A horde of girls. So, Yo-tan, why do you bother trying to charm the girls when it's the male customers you'd rather be charming the pants off of?"
Yohji shot him a sharp look, then shrugged, posture lazy and relaxed. "I dunno, Ken, it must be the same reason you abstain when it's the pre-pubescent boys you'd rather be charming."
"YOHJI!" Ken roared, fists bunching again, but Omi planted himself firmly in the path to Yohji, arms outstretched.
"Don't you dare, Ken-kun!" Omi said, voice firm. "You started it that time, you got what you deserved!"
Ken was hauled up short, a surprised look on his face. "Omi! You're defending him?"
"I'm not defending anyone!" Omi asserted. "I'm Switzerland! Neutral! You started it, Ken, and you got what you asked for - a potshot given for a potshot!"
Yohji's mouth twitched, but he managed somehow not to laugh.
Ken's expression turned surly. "Fine. Everyone's against me."
"No one's against you," Omi said, putting his hands on Ken's shoulders and turning him in the direction of the shop, before giving him a gentle shove. "But you've been making cheap cracks about Yohji-kun and me all morning, so you can't exactly say you weren't asking for it, since your secret was the same as ours."
"I'm not gay!" Ken objected loudly. "I'm just curious! Really!"
Yohji coughed loudly, the sound resembling 'pink dildo' rather uncannily.
Ken turned white, then blue, then flushed orange-red.
"Ken-kun!" Omi nudged him. "Don't you dare!"
Ken paused long enough to glare heinously at Yohji, then clattered down the stairs.
Omi sighed heavily. "Yohji-kun, *please* try to get along with Ken-kun -- please~?!"
Yohji's mouth twisted. "He hit my *face*!"
Omi rubbed his brow. "I know. But, Yohji-kun...."
"All right, all right. I'll be good." Yohji snorted and stamped down the stairs after Ken.
"Arigatou!" Omi chirped, following swiftly after. He didn't trust the two alone in the shop together, in spite of Yohji's grudging promise of good behavior.
Solitary once more, Aya shook his head. He glanced at the television screen -- the video was still running. "Hn." He lifted the remote and hit 'STOP', then ejected the tape. With a slightly contemplative expression on his usually cold face, he popped the video back in its case and hefted the slim rectangle. Glancing toward the exit as a faint, "Aya-kun, hayaku!" wafted up the stairs and through the open door, his mouth quirked. He crossed to his own room, and tossed the video onto his bed, then moved to return to the shop.
"Look at 'em waiting out there like vultures!" Ken was grumping as the stolid red-head entered the Koneko no Sumu. The young soccer player was balefully eyeing the mass of schoolgirls surrounding the outside of the shop, eager young faces peering through the front window and fuku-clad bodies pressed up against the door. "This is becoming ridiculous!"
Yohji looked as though he was contemplating saying something questionable, but then he caught Omi's appealing bright blue eyes, and he just shoved his mouth full of one of Ken's sandwiches.
"Do we *have* to open the doors?" Ken asked mournfully of no one in particular.
"They're customers, Ken-kun," Omi stated reprovingly, crossing the shop, and flipping the lunch sign over. He unlocked the doors and jumped back quickly, to avoid being stampeded.
"Now I know why you bitch so much about the female custom, Kene-pon," Yohji muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
Ken shot the tall man a nasty look, but they were both swarmed at that moment, and distraction proved a more effect deterrent to violence than Omi's best wide-eyed pleading.
For the remainder of the afternoon, things went fairly smoothly. It helped that Ken was off making deliveries for a couple of hours -- since most of the tension was between he and Yohji, things were very nearly peaceful. The girls who were actually spending money made their purchases, Aya ran out all by the most persistent of the other sort, and they dealt with the few customers that were above sixteen with charm and competence.
"Ne, Yohji-kun," Omi said, brow crinkling, as the clock rolled around to four-thirty, and most of the girls had tired of their 'bishonen-watching' and gone home. "Wasn't your shift supposed to end two hours ago?"
Yohji blew out a breath. "Well, I figured you needed my help, Omitchi. Today's been even more busy than a usual Sunday."
"And your *date* canceled," Ken sniped, grinning wickedly. "So it's not as though you had anything better to do, ne, Yohji?"
Yohji shot Ken an unfriendly look. "Urusai!"
"Oh, I'm hurt!" Ken clutched at his chest. "Scoot aside, Yo-tan," he instructed, elbowing Yohji out of the way as he got into the drawer below the register.
"Hn. I need a smoke break," Yohji groused, glaring impartially around the shop. There were no more girls, there was one middle-age couple just going out the door after making their purchase, Aya was in the corner, wielding the broom, and Omi was sitting on the table, brushing back golden bangs with a weary hand.
"Yohji, where's the gold foil?" Ken asked, scowling as he rooted through the mess in the drawer.
"How the hell would I know? Yohji drawled. "I didn't have it last!"
"What?" Ken had mumbled that under his breath. Yohji's keen ears had caught it clearly, but as Ken smiled sweetly and said, "Nothing!" Yohji couldn't exactly call him on it. "Creep."
The bell over the door tinkled. Yohij sighed and shifted his eyes in that direction. "Ooh!" His wide mouth curled up at the corners. "Heh." It was a lovely little specimen -- he couldn't have been more than twelve; silky auburn hair, wide, liquid eyes that contained more than a bit of wickedness, slim, hairless legs exposed almost all the way up by the short uniform shorts he was wearing. He might be a little older than he looked -- possibly a small thirteen -- because his shoulders were a bit more broad than one would expect from a child.
He was truly a breath-taking specimen. Not that Yohji went for young boys -- after all, he'd never tried seducing Omi -- but he thought he knew someone who might appreciate such a pretty picture.....
"Ken!" He nudged the young man beside him, who was still digging in the disorganized clutter filling the drawer.
"What?" Ken asked irritably. The boy was wandering over to look at the roses -- white ones; which seemed unusual, because there was nothing innocent whatsoever about him.
"Look! There's the perfect one for you!" Yohji jerked his head toward the newest customer. "Just your type!"
Omi -- who had just been rising to go see if the youngster needed help -- whipped his head over, eyes huge. "Yohji-kun!" he wailed, voice throbbing with betrayal. "How could you?" He sounded broken-hearted.
"Nani?" Clueless, Ken lifted his dark head, glancing from Yohji to Omi. "Nanda?" He looked around the shop, trying to figure out what Yohji had been talking about. There *was* only one customer in the place. "Urk!" Ken's eyes rounded, face going white.
"Well?" Yohji prompted.
Omi covered his face with both hands, anticipating the explosion. Aya set aside his broom and tilted his head.
"Forget the face," Ken growled, brown eyes burning with angry fervor. "I'm gonna THROTTLE you!" And once again he launched himself at the rangy older youth.
"Ken-kun!" Omi snapped, once again interposing himself between the two feuding members of Weiss. His expression was fed-up now instead of placating. "Not in the shop! Especially when we have custom!" The tone was sharp enough to bring even Ken up short.
"But he..." Ken began, still glaring at Yohji, his hands clenching and unclenching.
"And you, Yohji-kun!" Omi swung his gaze over one shoulder, blue eyes crackling with indignation. "You should know better!"
Yohji had the grace to look ashamed. Somewhat. "All right, all right...."
"So make it up to him!" Omi continued, tone steely.
Yohji's neko-green eyes rounded. "Huh?" For a moment his jaw set stubbornly, then he glanced at the auburn-haired little nubile boy in the corner, whose amber eyes were beginning to turn towards the dispute with more than idle curiosity. "Fine, fine.... I'll buy you all dinner, how's that?"
Ken shoved his hands into his pockets. "Cool, I'm broke."
"Payday was just last Friday, Ken-kun!" Omi said, eyes round.
"And we just paid rent..." Yohji reminded the teen. He stifled a snicker. "And Ken just wrote a hefty check to 'Lotus Love'."
Ken continued to glare, but he couldn't exactly argue the charge - since he *had*.
"Now," Omi continued, taking charge as usual, "we need to close up shop and make sure everything is tidied up."
"What about--?" Yohji jerked his thumb towards the red-haired boy browsing through roses. He glanced towards Ken, another sally hovering in the air.
"I'll take care of him," Omi said firmly, patience reaching its limits. A boy could only handle so much!
Ken and Yohji looked at each other and shrugged. Aya just grasped his broom and began sweeping up leaf clippings and other vegetable matter.
"Ano, okyakusan," Omi said tentatively, approaching their sole remaining customer.
The redhead noticed him and smiled brilliantly, still fingering the white roses. "It's nearly closing time, isn't it?"
"Hai," Omi admitted with a deprecating smile. "Is there something I can help you pick out?"
"No... I've decided. I'll take a dozen white roses," the auburn-haired boy declared, topaz eyes glinting with mischief.
"A d-dozen?" Omi stammered. It was rare that they got an order for a bouquet of roses like this, and even rarer that the client was in elementary school.
"Yes," the boy confirmed, whipping out a credit card. "And I want them sent to the CLAMP Campus."
"C-CLAMP Campus," Omi echoed weakly, then nodded. It explained a lot.... "Hai. We can do that. Who is the order for?"
The boy put a hand to his chin. "I want them sent to Imonoyama Nokoru," he said reflectively, "but I'll write the card myself."
"Certainly," Omi nodded. "We can take care of that for you."
While he watched, the boy selected the dozen white roses himself, then handed them to Omi for wrapping, with a touch of baby's breath and some greenery. Then the boy filled out the card, his penmanship bold and sure, and tucked the envelope in the top of the bouquet.
"Please deliver it by tomorrow afternoon," he smiled, signing for the purchase.
"A-un," Omi confirmed, somewhat overwhelmed. Most of his consternation stemmed from the fact that he knew who Imonoyama Nokoru was, and he knew that the boy was highly sought-after by almost every female on the CLAMP Campus, whether they were in an appropriate age range or not.
"We done?" Yohji raised his eyebrows as the bell clanged after the auburn-haired boy's departure.
"Yes," Omi sighed, sinking into a folding chair. He was a bit overwhelmed by the day's events. Luckily, the rivalry between Yohji-kun and Ken-kun seemed to have eclipsed any fuss that would have been made over Omi's own inadvertent revelation that he was sleeping with Nagi of Schwarz.
There was true love there, honestly there was!
"I guess I owe you guys dinner, then," Yohji said grudgingly.
"I want okonomiyaki," Ken said instantly. "Or at least, I want pizza -- I don't really care where we go."
"Someplace cheap," Yohji muttered.
Ken opened his mouth, then yelped as Omi stepped on his foot, hard. "That sounds fine, Yohji-kun," the boy beamed, as Ken hopped around and scowled at him.
Yohji lifted a brow at Ken's antics -- not to mention the familiar expression of complete and utter innocence on Omi's face -- but evidently decided not to stir things up further. He tugged off his apron and ran a hand through his disheveled hair. "All right. Iko." A slow smirk curved his lips. "It'll give us a chance to discuss Omi's little lover, ne?"
"Gleep!" Omi reddened.
"I'm staying here."
Three pairs of eyes swung over to Aya's stony face, Ken pausing in the act of removing his apron. "Why?" he blurted, looking confused. "Yohji's buying, Aya!"
Yohji shot Ken a dirty look, and completely missed seeing the glare he received from Aya. Evidently the red-head still hadn't forgiven the oldest member of Weiss for that crack about his endowments -- or lack thereof. "Exactly."
Ken blinked. Omi sighed, hoping things weren't going to get ugly again. But Aya just tossed his apron on the table and turned to leave the shop.
Yohji shrugged. "Works for me."
Ken frowned. "All there is in the fridge is the left-over Thai -- even Aya wouldn't eat *that*... would he?"
"Maybe he's ordering take-out," Omi suggested.
"Doesn't matter," Yohji grunted. "Let's just get going. I'm starving."
"Yosh'!" Ken bounced across the Koneko no Sumu and to the door. The promise of a free meal seemed to have cleared up a lot of his bad feelings toward Yohji.
The three members of Weiss bantered verbally as they walked toward the restaurant strip; the conversation fairly amiable. They managed to avoid mention of sexual orientation or other kinks, and kept to mostly neutral topics.
"I hope you haven't blown all your cash, Yohji," Ken said as they paused, choosing a restaurant. "I'm about running on empty!"
"Nanda?" Omi raised huge eyes to his team mate. "What is it, Yohji-kun?"
Yohji clapped a hand to his forehead. "I forgot my wallet back at the apartment!"
Ken cocked his head. "But Yohji, you bought donuts this morning." His open face darkened. "Are you just trying to get out of paying?!"
Yohji glared. "No! I used petty cash this morning, remember? I was going to shower after work, so I left my wallet on my dresser!"
"We have to go back and get it, then."
Yohji groaned. "What a pain."
"Maybe we can join Aya-kun and order in," Omi suggested, as the three turned to retrace their steps.
"Yohji's still paying, though, right?" Ken persisted.
"Mochiron!" Omi chirped.
Yohji grumbled. "Bunch of freeloaders, all of you."
The walk back to the shop and its apartment was a little more sullen than the cheerful trek outward, since Ken was resentfully convinced this was some sort of ploy to get out of paying for dinner, and Yohji was smarting over the implication and the fact that he was being used by all for a free meal -- and that his dinner plans were significantly different from the one he'd started out with that morning.
When they returned to the "Kitty in the House," all the windows were dark but for a single lamp shining upstairs.
"Do you think Aya-kun is really there?" Omi blinked. "Maybe he went out to catch up with us."
"Doubt it," Yohji snorted. He lifted his eyebrows. "Hope not, the way he eats."
"Well, you promised," Ken began.
"I know I did, but he eats like a horse and he said he wasn't coming," Yohji snapped back.
"Please stop arguing," Omi implored. "You've been sniping back and forth all afternoon!"
Ken looked at Omi for a moment, then grinned. "You're right, Omitchi. We've got better things to do than argue."
Yohji looked over Omi's head at Ken, brows raised, then he grinned his understanding. "You're right, Ken."
Omi grimaced as he fished the shop keys out. "I don't think I want to know."
"Probably not," Yohji purred.
"So! You and the Schwarz kid, huh?" Ken said, subtle as a cut to the throat. "From what I remember of those drawings, you and he...."
"Wah! Stop it, Ken-kun!" Omi sniffled, dashing up the stairs.
The two older youths followed, longer strides catching up easily with the slighter teen.
All three froze in the doorway upstairs, brains not quite processing what their eyes registered.
When they did, Omi shrieked and didn't stop until Ken clapped a hand over his mouth.
What they saw in the living room eclipsed triple-fold any other shocks and revelations of the day.
Aya was on the couch. But Aya was not alone. From the angle they were at, they had a full side view of the pretty boy kneeling in front of him. They were also treated to an unobstructed view of Aya's assets and the fact that Yohji hadn't been too off-base in his assumptions. From the stains on the boy's face, it was clear they'd walked in on the end of... matters.
Perhaps the most frightening thing was that the boy was wearing a wig, and not just any wig.
The wig bestowed him with long dark hair twisted in two plaits.
In other words, the boy bore an uncanny resemblance to Aya-kun's sister.
"A-A-Aya..." Ken stuttered, brown eyes huge in a face gone utterly white. "O-o-omae...."
Yohji seemed to be struggling not to swallow his tongue. Omi was on the verge of passing out, his eyes rolling back in his head -- though whether this was a result of the shock, or the fact that Ken was cutting off his air supply was unclear. More than likely the former.
"Saa." The pretty boy sat back on his heels, unabashedly wiping off his face with the hem of his shirt -- he was dressed remarkably similar to Yohji, and it was painfully obvious what his profession was; the only question being whether he charged by the hour -- and regarded the newcomers through narrowed blue eyes. He really did look remarkably like Aya-chan, had probably been chosen for that trait, and the wig made the resemblance uncanny. But Aya-chan had probably never looked so jaded or world-weary as this boy. "Friends of yours, Aya-san? I charge extra for groups, you know."
There was a loud thud, as Omi did indeed keel over. Ken looked as though he was contemplating following the poor boy, but Yohji seemed to be recovering from the momentary trauma, a twinkle entering emerald eyes, the familiar cheeky grin back in place on his oval face.
"Iie." Aya was tucking himself back into his pants, his face expressionless, though there was a certain color to his marble cheeks -- perhaps leftover passion, or perhaps, impossibly, slight embarrassment. "They're just my roommates. They were supposed to be eating out." He directed a glare in their direction, clearly blaming this entire scenario on them. Most specifically, Yohji, since Ken was close to being a gibbering wreck.
"Ho?" The young prostitute shrugged. "Too bad." His experienced eyes swept Yohji's tall, lean form up and down -- pausing over the sizable package contained in his jeans. He glanced back at Aya and tugged off the wig, revealing a head of spiky bleached hair, now somewhat mussed. "Well, if you're done...." He held out one hand, silver bracelets about his wrist jingling.
"Hn." Aya pulled his wallet loose, and extracted a few bills. Over near that door, Ken made choking noises, and Yohji snickered.
The boy sauntered out the door, pausing long enough to give Yohji an assessing stare that held more than a hint of challenge. Then, with a throaty chuckle, he left.
"Well," Yohji fought to contain his grin, "I guess we know now why you like to stay in all the time." He bent to see if Omi was okay, after flopping down on the floor like that.
Aya glared at him, but didn't deny the accusation. Then with cold composure he rose up from the couch, strode over to his room, and slammed the door.
"Aya... he...." Ken was still shell-shocked. "I can't BELIEVE he would do that...." Ken stared numbly at the wig, which had been tossed to a corner of the couch.
"I know, I'm never using that couch again," Yohji shook his head. Then he grinned, holding up a finger. "At least we know whose lubricant you found in the cracks of the sofa!"
Ken jumped and looked startled. "Oh, no."
Omi sat up, with Yohji's assistance. "Whaa...." He looked blearily around the room. "What hit me?" His wide blue eyes blinked appeal.
"Try not to think about it," Yohji advised. "There's such a thing as defensive memory loss."
"Where's Aya-kun?" Omi wondered, then he whimpered. "Never mind. I don't want to go there. It was bad, wasn't it?"
"Very," Yohji agreed, giving Ken a sly glance. The dark-haired youth was staring at the wig. "Ken? Hello, anyone home? I'm gonna grab my wallet and then we should get going -- I don't know about you, but I'm starved."
"Me too," Omi said woefully.
When Yohji returned from his room, tucking his billfold in the tight back pocket of his jeans, Omi was holding an earnest conversation with the wall -- at least, he might as well have been, for all the attention Ken was paying him. Ken's eyes were a bit glazed and he was gazing in the general direction of Aya's room.
Yohji sighed. Not like they hadn't seen this coming. He waved a hand in front of the boy's eyes. "Ken. Yo, Ken! Are you ready for dinner, or not?"
"Dinner? Um... actually I think I'll stay here," Ken said vaguely, not looking at Yohji. "I -- I'm not hungry anymore."
"Yohji-kun! Please can we go out?" Omi implored. "I don't wanna stay here tonight!"
"Yeah, we're going out," Yohji agreed, giving Ken a sharp look. He didn't want to stay here much longer either, if that look in Ken's eyes was any indication of what might happen in the next hour or so!
"Good!" Omi bolted down the stairs.
Yohji observed Ken a few moments more. Finally he couldn't resist, and leaned over, whispering near Ken's ear, "You know, the wig *is* still over on the couch."
Ken's focus snapped back to him, and his cheeks turned bright red.
Yohji winked broadly and turned to make his exit.
"I.... I.... Why would Aya...?" Ken stuttered.
Yohji glanced over his shoulder. "Oh, come on, Ken. Why wouldn't he? If he can get it without paying for it, don't you think he'd jump at the offer? Chance of a lifetime, champ."
"I hate you, Yohji," Ken mumbled in return, though he was still too dazed to employ much ire in the pronouncement.
"Saa!" Yohji shrugged and gave a last toss of his head. "Have fun!" The door closed behind him, muffling the last of his laughter.
Ken stood a moment, indecisive. He stared at the wig. He looked down the hall, at Aya's closed bedroom door. He didn't think Aya had locked it....
Drawing a deep breath and mustering all his courage, Ken swept the wig up off the couch, clutching it tightly. Could he do this? Could he cater to Aya's strange kink, just to get inside the older boy's pants -- and hopefully get Aya inside him...?
Before he could think about it too much, Ken set off down the hall. Well, he had a chance, as Yohji had so obnoxiously pointed out. If he was shot down, he could always catch up with the other two and eat his pain away -- at Yohji's expense. It was now or never!
He just hoped the wig fit.
Downstairs, Omi was pouring food into the shop cat's bowl. He glanced up as Yohji strolled into the room. "Yohji-kun, can we run away from home?"
Yohji laughed in startlement. "Are you suggesting we elope?"
"No!" Omi stood, cheeks flaring. Ignoring them both, the neko dug into its food with gusto. "Don't be silly, Yohji-kun! Besides... Nagi and I...."
"Ho?" Yohji lifted a brow as Omi trailed away, blushing even more deeply, his azure eyes hidden behind thick lashes, hands twisting in front of him. If Omi really had feelings for the Schwarz kid, maybe he'd best stop teasing him about it. Omi was letting himself in for enough potential heartache by getting involved with one of the enemy. He just hoped the two could work things out. "Don't sweat it, kiddo!" Yohji slung a companionable around Omi's slim shoulders. "Let's go get something to eat, and then I'll take you to a club I know!"
"But, Yohji-kun!" Omi yelped as the taller man led him from the shop. 'I'm underage!"
A warm chuckle was his only reply as Yohji locked the door behind him and silence descended once more in the Koneko no Sumu.
Finished with its meal, the calico cat indulged itself in a long, leisurely stretch, then padded over into the small patch of fiery sunset that made its way through the shop windows to stain the floor. Time for a good grooming -- today had been fur-raising, with all the ningen so tense and at one another's throats. Now, there was stillness and flower-scented shadows in the shop. There was one light burning upstairs, but the neko gave that no heed. For the time being, the shop belonged to the shop cat. Let the humans work things out on their own.
All the noise aside, it had really been a fine day, the neko decided, before curling itself into a compact ball and setting up a contented purr. A very fine day, indeed.