by Maya Tawi and Viridian5
"Ran-kun!" Aya yelled as she jumped him.
It made all of his hard work worthwhile. Of course, he still had to convince Kritiker to let them remain here.
"How is my favorite girl?" he asked as he hugged her.
"Great, now that you're here. Come in and say hi to Momoe-san."
"I will, but I can't stay long."
Looking disappointed but unsurprised, she said, "Work again."
"Always. But I'll be back again. I just wanted to see you as soon as we arrived." Literally. He'd driven off in his car almost as soon as they'd stopped the trailer.
She nodded but said, "You have to learn when to say no to them."
It sounded wonderful in theory. In practice, it could probably get him killed. "I'll keep that in mind."
Aya looked at his woman self in the mirror. This change always came so easily, suggesting that his month in this form had made some permanent differences. Not that he could do anything about that now.
He took a deep, clearing breath and concentrated. The brown color seemed to flow out from behind his pupils until it reached the coronas of his irises. Black ran from the roots of his hair down to the tips. His skin slowly turned a warmer, more golden shade by degrees until he found one he could be content with. The sight of himself in mid-change freaked him out, but he didn't let that feeling of disquiet interrupt him. He kept the breast size of his default female form to let him wear clothing he already knew he could move comfortably in.
It hadn't hurt much, and he felt only slightly dizzy. Practice had helped.
So much depended on this mission. If it worked out, they would try to wring more concessions from Kritiker. If it didn't work... they would try to wring more concessions from Kritiker, though he doubted they'd be as successful. Omi had gained more responsibilities and power within the organization recently, but Kritiker knew him to be less than objective here.
Aya hoped that Kritiker didn't know that Aya and Omi had been keeping some secrets about the full extent of what he could do.
Aya walked out. "I'm ready."
When Ken turned to face him, he looked stunned by the changes. Understandable, since only Omi had been working with him on this. His practices with and fights alongside the team had featured weaponwork and the ghosting.
Yohji looked stunned and a bit afraid, just what Aya hadn't wanted. Yohji was personally involved with him.... Maybe he should have warned Yohji that he could do more than ghost and change gender. No, that wouldn't have made a difference.
He couldn't ever tell Yohji that the female form felt nearly as right as his real one.
"We have you onscreen," Omi said into his headset as he watched the patch he'd done into the security cameras. He could see the stranger Aya had become walk down the hall to the target.
Yohji sat on the seat next to him and tried not to look. Aya's change had disturbed the hell out of him, and he hadn't even watched it progress, just seen the end result. He knew that Aya didn't like himself sometimes, so the potential to be someone else could become too much of a temptation.
"I don't like this," Yohji said as he lit up a cigarette.
Omi turned off the talk function of his headset. "We have Ken set up as a backup." Aya didn't know.
"You guys think that maybe we don't want Aya to turn out to be too good at this? Last thing we want is Kritiker making Aya their favorite killtoy and sending him and us all over Japan."
That was a horrible possibility that Omi had obviously never considered. "Uh."
"That's why this team needs a slacker. We all have our roles."
Aya didn't like the weight of the guns. He preferred his katana, but the whole point of this exercise was to kill as someone utterly different than himself. He even wore a bit of makeup and a pair of nonprescription glasses and had his hair pulled back from his face with a decorative headband.
He'd made some concessions to office attire. Well, one. The pants he wore could work. His shoes looked a bit too sensible, and the trench coat hid the rest. Too much office wear would have hindered his movements too much. The night was cool enough to excuse the gloves. Fortunately, no one questioned him. An attitude of having every right to be there almost always did wonders.
Aya walked to his target's office and let himself in. The man said, "Who are--" then pulled his gun before his bodyguards even reacted. Good instincts and reflexes but too late. Aya threw the briefcase at him, disarming him, and shot him through the heart. He may have preferred his katana, but he was a crack shot, and he actually had sharper eyesight as a woman for some reason. The gun in his other hand took out the two bodyguards. He walked up to the bodies and delivered one more shot each to make certain.
Aya put his guns back in their holsters under his coat, picked up his briefcase, and left the room. Easy.
One of the men in the hall set himself in Aya's path. "I've never seen you before."
Apparently, it had been too easy.
"I'm new," Aya said.
"You'll have to come along with me." The man's hand went through Aya's arm.
Time to go. Aya dropped the briefcase, which couldn't be traced to him, and ran. Bullets passed right through him. Aya shot back, but his bullets passed through his assailant, to said assailant's shock and confusion. Damn. He couldn't shoot and run like this at the same time.
"Shit!" Omi said. Why couldn't anything ever go smoothly?
"Yeah, we have to get Ken in there. What happened?"
Omi listened to the other plug in his ear, the one that monitored incoming calls to Yuasa's group, and felt his heart sink. "His major rival just declared a gang war. Yuasa's people are locking down and preparing."
"Aya, we're sending Ken in to help," Omi said into his mouthpiece.
Onscreen, Aya shook his head emphatically. No.
"You need backup," Omi protested as he noticed more guards coming at Aya from the other direction. Aya stopped, moved to the right, and leapt through an elevator door, with the only sign that the process had given him a little trouble being that his hair briefly flashed red. "Or not." How the hell could Ken back Aya up when Aya could go places Ken couldn't? That would be a complication.
"I just hope he solidifies inside the elevator car instead of under it," Yohji said around his cigarette, chain-smoking. They all dealt with stress in their own ways.
"I hate you," Omi told him. Besides, he didn't want to figure out the physics of Aya dropping down an elevator shaft in his current state.
Ken would definitely have to destroy the security tapes on this one.
The elevator car rocked as Aya hit the floor. Maybe he'd gone too far in the other direction, too solid. He fought off the vertigo and sighed when he noticed that the car was ascending.
He heard Omi take a relieved breath in his ear. The elevator must have a camera that could be tapped into. It made sense. Finding the most likely place a camera would be hidden, Aya looked up at it and mouthed, "Get me an empty floor so I can switch elevators."
Aya nodded and pressed 18. Once the door opened to the 18th floor, he glanced outside, then stepped out and pressed the button to call another elevator. He didn't want to look too panicked. As soon as another elevator arrived, he went in and took it down to the parking garage level, standing out of the way of the opening door in case someone fired in. No one. He rushed through the garage unmolested and made it to the van outside. Yuasa's men weren't as competent as they should be. Still, even if the opposition hadn't been playing at the top of its game, he had to call this mission a success.
"Your hair flickered red twice," Omi said as Aya got in.
"Nice hello, Omi," Yohji muttered.
"I'll have to work on that flicker," Aya answered as he sat down.
Yohji watched as Aya's hair, skin, and eyes changed colors back to the natural ones, which had to be the freakiest thing he'd seen in a long time. But Aya remained female. "Shouldn't you be changing all the way back?" Yohji asked. As much as he liked the woman, Aya wasn't one. Seeing her back again left Yohji unsettled.
Aya took off the glasses and headband and ruffled his hair back into its usual disheveled bangs. "In this outfit? I'm more comfortable like this." He didn't so much lean against Omi as fall against him dizzily. "Just get us home, please."
"We can go," Omi said. "Ken will catch up with us later."
Yohji watched Aya and Omi through the rearview mirror as he drove, and the sight didn't become any less disturbing. Aya staying a woman for a while because he chose to be. Aya tired and resting his head on Omi's shoulder, comfortable with such a touchy-feely move, while Omi looked entirely unconcerned about the femininity or the way Aya had changed colors, like it happened all the time.
Omi must have been helping Aya with this. No wonder the kid had looked so smug lately, having something with Aya that Yohji didn't share. He seemed to be fine with what Aya could do.
Seeing how exhausted yet high Aya looked, Yohji couldn't say the same. This wasn't fine with him. Not at all.
It definitely wasn't fine with him when they reached the trailer but couldn't wake Aya up. "This isn't anything to worry about yet," Omi said as Yohji picked girl Aya up and carried him inside.
"Would you tell me when we hit that point? Because your definition seems to be a hell of a lot different from mine."
"It's just that going through walls and being in a different form with different colors knocked him out." Omi was a Takatori....
"Yeah, it could happen to anybody," Yohji said sourly as he gently sat Aya down on the bunk and took his coat off, with Omi helping to keep his unconscious, slack body steady. "Are you going to declare this one a success to Kritiker?"
"Probably. He was doing really well until he got to safety. Maybe the adrenaline rush faded."
"Or maybe he's a stubborn son of a bitch who has no respect for his own limits." Yohji unfastened the holster straps. If he touched Aya's breasts as he took the holsters off, he told himself that he couldn't help it. He'd missed her.... Then he removed the boots.
Completely exhausted and knocked out, Aya looked relaxed in a way he didn't look even in normal sleep. It didn't seem right that he had to run himself into the ground to get there.
Using his weird talents seemed to give him some kind of high, and Yohji knew from experience that Aya didn't handle intoxication well. Aya would need help in keeping his perspective on the situation, and Yohji would be that help. Refusing to give a shit about what Omi thought, Yohji stroked her hair away from her closed eyes and kissed her.
Aya awoke alone and smiled. No one hovering. Good. Checking the clock, he saw that he'd slept for only two hours. Even better. He felt great, full of energy. Far too much energy to stay here. And he was female already.... Surely he deserved a reward after so much hard work and a well-run mission.
Aya crept toward the kitchen and stayed in hiding. Once he heard all three of them talking-- and not about him-- he returned to the bunk area. To be certain of himself, he undressed and returned to his usual form for a few minutes, then turned female again, washed up, dressed up a bit, and snuck out the other door. All very, very quietly, getting a certain small thrill out of his deception and the thought of playing hooky.
She might not want to see him. They'd only spoken three times since he'd left Tokyo, but he thought it might be worth a try. If she didn't, surely he could find something else to do with himself in this form.
Fifteen minutes into his drive he stopped at a public phone and dialed her number. When she answered, he said, "Yukio, it's Aya. I'm in town."
"Hey! You wanna come see me?"
"That was the idea. Is that all right with you?"
"Sure! I can kick some clutter under the furniture.... Oh, did I say that out loud?"
He smiled, even though she couldn't see it. It felt so damned good to have someone who wasn't connected to his life as an assassin and all the dire things that went with it. "I'm afraid so. I'll come over anyway."
"I'll be waiting. See you soon."
As soon as she opened her apartment door for him, she pounced him, leaping up on him and giving him a kiss. "It's been an age! What do you look so smug about?"
"I had a decent day at work."
"Well. Let me make it better."
He didn't stop her from unfastening the buttons on his shirt, but asked, "Straight on to the sex?"
She grinned wickedly. "I like to eat my dessert first when I can. Then I can feed you and talk to you. Then more sex. Is that a problem?"
"No." But.... "Yukio, I'm a man in a woman's body." He felt the need to be honest with her, at least a little.
Her expression didn't change. "If you say so. I mean, I think you're more feminine than I am."
That wasn't the reaction Aya had expected. "Am I supposed to be insulted or not?"
"Not." Tiny but fierce, she leapt up and wrapped herself around him. "Do I look like someone who wants to insult you?"
She looked at him with simple lust and simple affection, didn't know what a mess he truly was, and had no expectations as to who he should be and how he should behave. He needed that desperately. Sometimes Yohji looked at him with such obviously conflicted emotions that Aya was ever conscious that he might scare Yohji too far and lose him-- like he had today-- while still having to work with him in Weiß. It made him walk a tightrope as he spoke and acted.
Relieved, Aya smiled. "You look like someone who wants to eat me alive."
"See? Now let's take this inside, shall we?"
Yohji would not panic. "I'm sure he's fine. If Schuldig kidnapped him, there would be a lot of gloating going on right now."
Omi looked a bit upset but said, "If he walked out of here on his own, he's doing pretty well. Only three hours of downtime."
"Can we keep our eyes on the prize and stop sounding like Takatori Masafume?"
Omi glared. "It means Aya's getting better at this. It's easier on him."
Ken said, "You can understand how Yohji might not think that's necessarily a good thing."
"This is a part of Aya now," Omi answered. "He has to live with it, and so do we."
Yohji preferred not to think about it. "He could be with his sister."
"Do we panic if he's not with his sister?" Ken asked.
Omi had this look on his face like a light bulb had turned on over his head. "No, we panic if he's not with Yoshida Yukio."
"She's one of the people he said goodbye to the last time we left Tokyo."
"How do you know this?" Yohji asked.
Omi looked a little shamefaced under the defiance. "He used my cell phone to call her."
"And you tracked her down off of that? You have a future as a stalker, kid."
"No. I had the best--"
"The best intentions. Of course you did."
Omi glared. "It may come in handy now."
Ken smiled. "Maybe he's not so odd after all."
So Aya had a woman on the side? Yohji had no reason to be upset, especially if it had been something going on before they'd hooked up. It'd be something Yohji would do, and Aya knew that very well. He had no reason to be jealous.
"I'll call Aya-chan to see if he's with her," Omi said. "I'm probably the only one of us who can do it so she won't panic if he's not."
"Don't let your head get too swelled, Omi," Ken said.
Aya groaned as Yukio fucked him slowly, rocking into him, her hands and mouth seeming to be everywhere. So good.... He didn't think he'd ever get used to the way he could climax several times in a short period while in this body. Sparking all over, he whimpered as she finally finished him.
"Nice?" she asked as she pulled out, then curled up beside him.
"You're never going to let me forget that, are you?"
"Let me think.... No. No, I won't. Hungry yet? I mean, sure, you ate me, but-- Ha! You're blushing!"
He hid his face in the pillow. It had been only fair to do that for her, since she'd already reduced him to a pre-verbal state once with her tongue.
"Can't hide from me, Aya girl. It's a small bed."
He sighed dramatically and faced her. "I am hungry, though I don't understand your urge to feed me. Are you trying to fatten me up?"
Yukio grinned. "I like taking care of you. Somebody should spoil you. Besides, from the look of you, you work out often enough to burn this stuff right off, so I can feed you and still enjoy your freakishly rock-hard abs."
"As long as it's selfless."
"Totally." She took off her harness, got up, and put on a big, white men's shirt to cover her nakedness.
"Where did you get that from?"
"Bought it. Oh!" She smirked. "Yeah, I don't have any boyfriends to leave these. I love 'em. They're so nice, and it feels so wrong to wear 'em. I have one you can wear while you're here too. Actually, I'm looking forward to seeing you in it. It'll show off your legs." She threw one to him as she left the room.
It did feel wrong and weird to be wearing one in this body, but he put it on anyway. What was a little wrongness to him lately? It actually seemed to add spice to the person he'd become.
"Oh, you do look good. It suits you," Yukio said when he caught up to her.
Aya almost coughed at that, but he answered, "Thank you."
"I hope you don't mind that I'm doing your food in a microwave,"
It upset his expectations a bit first, but then he realized that it fit perfectly. Yukio was a devotee of instant gratification. He saw some of the appeal.... "Not at all."
She looked confused when they heard a sudden knocking. "I'll get the door," she said.
"You should, since it's your apartment."
"Funny." As the knocking became more forceful, Yukio asked, "Who the hell is that? Oh, the vegetables should be about ready. Help yourself, while I get rid of my guest."
"You're only wearing a long shirt."
"So are you. Hell, I'll give 'em a thrill." She left Aya alone in the kitchen.
Aya heard the door open and a loud, annoyed "Where is he?" Yohji? Fuck. How the hell did he get this address?
Aya had called Yukio with Omi's cell phone that time. He'd have to have a talk with Omi.
"Nice greeting. 'He' who?" Yukio asked. "You're really at the wrong place, blondie. Are you high?"
"There are only two places he would go, and I already checked the other."
"Maybe you have the wrong apartment. If you need help leaving, I'll be happy to assist you."
Yohji enjoyed making a scene. Aya saw only one way to stop this from escalating. He walked over to Yukio's side and said, "I'm here."
Yohji looked like he'd swallowed his tongue. Of course, he'd thought Aya had taken a woman on the side as a man. It probably didn't help that Aya was showing a lot of bare leg right now. Yeah, Yohji's eyes kept flicking between Aya's legs and unrestrained breasts.
"You know this asshole?" Yukio asked.
"He's the guy."
"He's the guy? From that night? I have to save you from yourself, Aya. Aside from going with me, you have no taste. And can you explain his problems with personal pronouns?"
"What night?" Yohji asked, recovering. "What have you been telling her about me?"
Yukio opened her mouth, and Aya put his hand over it. "Not much," Aya answered.
"I can't make you happy, can I?"
Yohji opened, then closed his mouth, then opened it again. Then he said, "There are so many ways I can tackle that one."
"This isn't the place to do this."
"Where the hell else?"
Yukio removed Aya's hand from her mouth and said, "Stairwell's private."
"Why are you helping?" Yohji asked.
"You're in my doorway giving my neighbors something to talk about, and as much as I would love to hear what you two have to say to each other, it wouldn't be right."
"I'm sorry about this," Aya said.
"You can't be totally responsible for the way your boyfriend's an asshole."
"I'm not the one poaching," Yohji said as he glared. "It seems like at least you knew about me."
"I see myself as more of a rescuer. I can't believe you didn't realize that Aya's a two-way street."
Aya sighed. "Can I leave you two alone so I can put my pants on without a catfight ensuing?"
"No," they both said.
"Then I'll go out to the stairwell like this."
"No! That shirt covers even less on you than mine does on me!" Yukio said.
Yohji took off his long coat and handed it over. As Aya put it on, he heard Yukio mutter, "Nice belly."
Yohji heard it too. "I have no belly."
"And you wanna announce it to the world. I can see. So can everyone else."
Aya slipped his boots on without socks, grabbed Yohji's arm, and pulled him out of there. Yukio grinned at Aya, gave Yohji a razor-edged smile, and said, "See you later," before closing the door.
"Are you insane?" Yohji yelled.
"Stairwell." Which might well enable the whole building to hear them, but Aya would feel more protected there. "And no." Once they went inside, Aya sat on a step and said, "I understand how you found me. I want to know why."
How could Aya be so calm? Oh yeah, insanity. Yohji asked, "Why? Have you ever noticed that you get weird after you do your mojo?"
Aya widened his eyes to affect a brainless look. "No. I never noticed."
"You just about passed out, then you slipped out when we weren't watching. We got worried."
"I'm never using Omi's cell phone again."
"Aya, you're fucking a woman as a woman. You're not a woman."
Yohji hadn't had any problem with Aya having a woman on the side, really, but he'd thought Aya had been a man with a woman on the side. Who the hell would figure that Aya was a woman with a cute but too boyish-looking lesbian on the side?
If a man wearing a woman's body fucked a woman who looked a lot like a boy, what the hell did you call it?
"Isn't your real problem that I don't want to be a woman for you?"
Aya even argued like a woman. But Aya had often argued like a woman even as a man, even before his first change. Maybe this was destiny. Damn, Yohji wanted to wash out his brain. "No!"
"I'm a woman with her because that's how she knows me. I won't be a woman for you because you want me to be a woman to make our liaison less shameful to you. It's a big difference."
Aya was not getting it. Aya was a woman who had a post-fuck glow as she serenely sat there wearing Yohji's longcoat. Aya shouldn't be.
And did she have to be so fucking sexy? It made things so much harder. In so many ways.
"I'm not ashamed; I just didn't expect you to be a woman at all! What if you can't change back?"
Aya flipped back to male so quickly that Yohji couldn't see the changes in progress, just the final result, stayed like that for about a minute, then returned to female form, staring at him with an annoyed look on his face the whole time.
"You couldn't hold it very long," Yohji said.
"I can do it as long as I need to." And Aya was male again. Then female. "I was making a point." He put his hand to his head, looking a bit dizzy, almost making Yohji sorry to have pushed him.
Almost. "How far do you think you'd get with your girl if she saw what you really look like? What if she knew you are not really a woman?"
"I told her that I'm a man in a woman's body. She didn't seem concerned."
Aya now knew how to lie with the truth. That made him very dangerous.
"That's not what I meant and you know it."
"You barely believe it, and you've known about it and seen it for months."
"You're not actually a woman."
"I am right now. Do you have something against women?"
"I love women. Everyone knows that."
Aya sighed and made a hand gesture of annoyance that Yohji wasn't sure of but that probably meant 'Sure, whatever.' He'd never seen Aya do that one before.
"What are you getting out of this?" Yohji had to ask.
Looking ever more annoyed, Aya answered, "She has a bigger dick than yours."
Yohji's heart stopped. "What?"
"At least one of them is. She keeps them in a box under her bed."
Yohji refused to be distracted. The mental images would have to wait. Was he turned on or horrified? No, it would have to wait. "You must be having problems with this. You would have told us otherwise."
"She's not a porn lesbian, Yohji. The thought of a man being involved in her sex acts, even just to watch, does nothing for her."
Yohji saved that thought for later too. "That wasn't what I was thinking!" Before. "You're not a lesbian."
"I'm attracted to women. Right now I'm a woman." Aya smiled darkly, wickedly. "In any case, she knows I'm bisexual."
"You didn't? What did you think I was?"
Yohji had tried very hard not to think about it, and he would never admit that to Aya. Put on the spot, he said, "I was starting to think that maybe you always only liked men, or that being a woman had, uhm--"
"Warped my sexuality? Amazing what a month can do."
"You never seemed to have any sexuality before you became a woman!"
"You could give a guy some clues! There was this thing with me--" and Schuldig, "and then I remembered how you were with Sakura."
"You thought I was doing her."
"Only at first. Then I saw how you acted around her and changed my mind."
Aya raised an eyebrow. "Yet you kept needling me about her."
"It was fun, okay?"
"Sakura's too young, and her looks remind me of my sister. In any case, as harsh as it may sound, she may be a nice girl, but she's a lot like a puppy."
"And you don't date outside your species?"
"All right. This is getting away from the real topic here, which is that you should have told us you were going to see this girl." And were willingly changing gender to do it.
"The same way that I immediately told all of you about my sister's situation and that I visited her at the hospital during the times I disappeared?"
They'd known Aya for years without getting that story or anything about Aya's hatred for Takatori Reiji. Omi had chanced on the truth and confronted Aya about it. They hadn't even known his real name, though they'd speculated on what kind of parents would name their son 'Aya'. "I'm still ticked off about that one too."
"It just wasn't anyone's business either way, and I wasn't the only person in Weiß with secrets."
Yohji couldn't rebut that one, so he said, "This just doesn't make sense. You hated being a woman."
"Most of the time. It had his moments, and I became... accustomed to it."
"Are you aware that you're insane?"
"No, I'm--" Aya stopped and tilted his head to the side, as if listening to something.
This looked bad. "Aya?"
"No. Shut up," Aya murmured angrily, and Yohji would bet anything Aya wasn't talking to him.
Yohji was not getting it. Hardly surprising.
The normals don't get it, Aya. They never do.
Schuldig. In his head.
"No. Shut up," Aya answered.
I could say nothing, but it wouldn't change anything. He can't understand.
"But you do?"
I'm a telepath. I understand a lot of things I've never personally done. You ever get tired of people who won't let you be what you are?
"Not everyone is."
Omi's open-minded, but he looks so young that you can't even think about him without feeling guilty. Anyone else? Oh yeah, there isn't.
Schuldig said the things that would best suit Schuldig's aims. Aya tried to tell himself that the truth had nothing to do with it. "Who would be a better choice? You? You're a sadist."
Yet I'm still a better catch than Kudou. I'm sure you've noticed his perpetual state of heterosexual panic too.
Is this proper thanks for the guy who got Kritiker to bring you back here? You'd still be cooling your heels in Kanazawa if not for me.
"I'm supposed to thank you for attacking me?"
I'm the one who walked away bruised, and you didn't exactly fight that kiss....
Yohji was shaking him by his shoulders. "Shit! Aya!"
See you later. You know I'll be around.
Aya broke free of Yohji's hold. "I'm back. I'm fine."
He looked so worried. "Schuldig talked to you?"
Yohji hugged him tightly, inspiring a moment of squirming panic before Aya decided that it felt nice and he liked it. Perhaps Yohji understood that he'd accepted it, because then he rested his hand on the back of Aya's head and stroked his hair.
"I worry about you," Yohji said softly. "It doesn't mean that I don't think you can take care of yourself. It just means that I care about you."
"I don't have much experience with that."
"Mostly by choice, it looked like."
"True." Aya felt oddly compelled to give him an answer to the question all of his other questions tonight had sprung from, and it was easier to say this with his face buried in Yohji's shoulder instead of looking at him. "If we can trust anything Schuldig says... he told me that I saved my sister's life that night but pushed myself too hard and bound myself to her. So part of me is female."
"If we can trust anything he says."
"I remember some things that support it."
"If you can trust your memory."
Evil thought. Aya clutched him a little tighter and warmed his fingers against the bared skin of the small of Yohji's back. "We have to trust something, or we're left with nothing, and he still wins."
"All right." Yohji took a deep breath. "So you're saying that part of you is a woman. That's--"
"Strange? Scary? Disgusting?"
"All right. It's all right."
"I suppose that in some ways it makes things easier for you."
"I wanted a vacation, Yohji, from myself and from being an assassin. It looks like I have to learn to keep my hormones or something under control, though."
"Maybe you did before."
"While you were set on your vengeance. Maybe you subconsciously adjusted yourself so you wouldn't be distracted by lust, and now there's a build-up."
"That's stupid. I felt lust. Not like I feel it now, but I did."
Aya took a deep breath and lightly pushed at Yohji's chest to get him to let go. "We have to go back and report Schuldig's latest trick."
Yohji let him go but asked, "Are you going to come back here in the future?"
Aya should just lie, but somehow he couldn't. "I don't know. I didn't expect to come here today." He hadn't thought this through very well.
"Don't know?" Yohji looked very annoyed, and why not?
"I like her." This could lose Yohji. It would hurt. It hurt right now. But it would hurt far more later.
"You couldn't lie to me?"
"I wanted to."
It was impossible to tell what Yohji was thinking from the look on his face. "You make me crazy."
"I make myself crazy."
"I have to think about this."
"Of course." Aya knew what the result would be. It would be a relief in a way, since he'd been expecting to lose Yohji somehow for a long time, and the tense waiting would be over at last.
Yohji's expression changed. "You sabotaged yourself deliberately."
"Maybe not consciously--"
"Are you using an alternate definition of 'deliberately' that I'm not aware of?"
"--but a part of you set up the worst planned secret rendezvous ever to make sure I'd find out."
"That's ridiculous." Galling as it might be to admit it-- "I didn't intend to do anything like that. I didn't plan this through."
Sometimes Yohji made Aya's brain hurt, but he'd earned this misery. For too long he'd been blaming everything on the body, hormones and endorphins, but there was more to the high than that. There was the high of being someone else. The high of being someone who could do anything. The poisonous high of throwing dignity, honor, and control aside.
The high of having excuses.
Lately, he could add the highs of power and mastering his changes.
He'd enjoyed himself and thought to escape responsibility for his own actions. Actually, not all that much thinking had been involved, as he'd let sensation and desires direct him. Yohji would probably say that it was the inevitable breakdown after years of repression, but that was another excuse.
Yohji smiled darkly. "You figure I'm going to leave you eventually, so you might as well get it over with, right?"
Aya stared at him in surprise and couldn't think of an answer. Why should he reply, when it was self-evident?
Yohji felt so hurt and angry, but Aya's obvious confusion at her-- his own motives and actions lessened it a little. Yohji had always figured that after all that rigid self-control Aya would snap and go wild someday but hadn't expected to be the collateral damage when it happened. Of course not, since he'd seen their thing together as part of the snap, not just the tip of the iceberg.
Aya sat there looking miserable, sick, and a bit shell-shocked, utterly unlike the satisfied and righteously annoyed Aya that had come to the door. Good. He should know what it felt like. But also not good.
Aya's mouth trembled for a moment before he visibly retained control over it. "I met her while I was walking home that night when you recoiled from me."
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Right to the heart. No wonder Aya couldn't quite let her go, if he'd tangled her up in his sex and self-esteem issues. If anybody had told Yohji a year ago that Aya had problems with self-esteem he would have laughed himself sick, since Aya had never seemed to give a damn about what others thought of him. Only later did he start to get an idea of how much self-directed hatred roiled behind the stone face.
Aya stood, forcing Yohji to look up, and seemed to find strength as he spoke. "At a time when you blatantly wanted nothing to do with me, she found me and treated me to dinner with her friends. I had a good time. She made me feel attractive and wanted instead of disgusting and freakish."
"She doesn't really know who you are," Yohji said weakly, only realizing how it could be taken after it came out of his mouth. Oh, good going, Kudou.
But Aya didn't take it as badly as he could have. "Which makes her even more attractive to me. I don't know what to do, Yohji. I've never been in this situation before."
"Nobody gives out a handbook."
"I've noticed." Aya ran a hand through his already disheveled hair, disheveling it further. She really did have that freshly fucked look. "We should go tell the others about Schuldig's latest communication."
Watching Aya made it hard to think. Made him hard. Yohji had always enjoyed seeing women in his clothing: the feeling of possession, the look of their curves filling it out in different ways, and the way their scent lingered when he got it back. Aya usually being a man just added a weird extra edge. It worried Yohji that he could feel so angry, concerned, and muddled yet still want to bend Aya over the railing, lift his coat up, and fuck her into next week, show her what she was missing. Knowing that Aya wasn't wearing anything at all under Yoshida's men's shirt made it even harder to stay rational. Yohji wanted to grab....
Aya had been walking back to Yoshida's apartment while he'd sat there struggling with himself. She looked over her shoulder, worry in her violet eyes, and said, "Yohji--" Then something flared in her eyes and her stance changed, turned defensive and dangerous, as if she'd seen the sex and violence in his look.
He. Him. Aya.
Yohji stood and followed him at a cautious distance. The sooner Aya got dressed and out of here, the sooner Yohji would be freed of temptation. At least freed of some of them.
Yoshida opened the door on Aya's second knock and not so playfully tried to close it behind Aya in Yohji's face. Bitch. She'd changed into a tank top and tight black jeans during their time away, making her look less vulnerable and more attractive. She still wasn't Yohji's type, but he could see how she'd be some people's, especially after Aya gave her a look.
"I'm sorry, Yukio," Aya said. "Work called. I have to go."
"Work called?" she asked, obviously aware that Aya didn't carry a cell phone. Yohji raised his own and waggled it at her. "It's the middle of the night!" she protested next.
"Bookkeeping problem," Yohji said smoothly. "If it doesn't get addressed immediately, things will go to hell and a lot of money will be lost."
"I'm sorry," Aya said.
"No problem, Nikita," she answered lightly, though she kept shooting annoyed looks in Yohji's direction.
"Foreign film. Never mind."
Aya took off Yohji's coat and handed it to him. Fuck, that shirt.... It barely covered Aya's ass, and Yohji could see the shadows of her-- his nipples through the white cloth. The urge to grab returned. Yohji told himself that biting down on his own hand in front of Yoshida wouldn't make him look any classier.
"I'm getting dressed. If you two kill each other while I'm gone, I'll just step over your bodies on my way out." Aya closed the bedroom door behind him.
Yohji and Yoshida stared each other down for several charged minutes before she said, "Whatever job she really works is killing her, you know."
Chickie, you have no idea. "We're florists."
Her voice dripped with scorn. "Yeah, right, traveling florists."
"It wasn't my idea."
"What kind of florist job puts those kinds of scars on a body?"
Shit. Yohji had had so many women over the years but never once wondered what they thought of his scars or if they even noticed them. Not that it had mattered, since he rarely saw those women again. "He-- she was in a car accident."
He was doing a shit job of this, but he shouldn't have to be the one to field these questions. Aya had unmade this bed, so let him lie in it.
She shook her head, utterly unconvinced. "I care, okay?"
"It's not your place to."
"You can't make me believe that you'd never poached somebody else's girl, so don't get superior with me. At least 40% of my girlfriends came to me straight from guys like you."
Her sense of entitlement chafed the shit out of him. "Do yourself a favor. Don't get involved. Really."
"Oh good, I didn't miss the end of the pissing contest," Aya said as he returned. From the tight black pants, clingy shirt, and bra that didn't bind his breasts as tightly to his torso as his mission one did, it seemed that Aya had dressed up a bit for Yoshida. Great. He topped it off with the black leather jacket he wore in both forms. "Yukio--"
"I know. You're sorry." She kissed Aya lightly and without looking at Yohji even once, trying to make it seem like she wasn't making a show for him. Like hell. Yohji sneered. She ruffled Aya's hair and said, "Take good care of yourself and don't be a stranger."
Aya's expression twisted a little at that. Yohji resisted the urge to make a smart-assed comment and tried not to think. The not thinking didn't work, though. What Aya had said about dicks meant that Yoshida had fucked him-- woman him-- something Yohji still hadn't gotten the opportunity to do, which was just wrong. That and the possessive urge to reclaim Aya for himself made it difficult to keep his hands to himself, but he had to. He knew this mood Aya was in, and it could flip over to berserker-style violence if pushed.
"Good night," Aya said. Yohji didn't say anything.
They walked down the hallway and out into the street without a word. So much had been said already tonight. Aya finally broke the silence with "I'll drive myself back." Yeah, he'd driven over here.
They stared at each other. The streetlights turned Aya's hair another color, and Yohji said, "I don't know who the hell you are sometimes."
"I don't know either," Aya answered softly. Yohji watched him walk away.
When Aya arrived at the trailer, he saw that all the lights were on and Yohji had gotten back first. This might be unpleasant. He wondered what Yohji had told them.
"What were you thinking?" Omi said as soon as he walked in the door. Ken looked surprised when he saw him, then shook his head.
Now the whole team would be privy to his lapses of control and involved in his personal life? It made him feel like a bug under a microscope. "I wasn't really thinking. I was being spontaneous."
Yohji, lounging on the couch, snorted.
"We worried," Omi said.
"I'm sorry." Aya felt heartily sick of those words. Not that long ago, he never used them.
"Tell them about what Schuldig did tonight," Yohji said.
"What about Schuldig, Aya?"
After everything that had happened, Yohji saved him from a further rehashing of his love life? Aya cast him a grateful look, then said, "While I was at Yukio's building, he spoke directly into my head to toy with me."
"What is he getting out of this?" Ken asked. "How do we make him stop?"
"He's a sadist. I'm not sure what the best method of stopping him would be." Though Aya had devoted a lot of time to thinking up possibilities.
"We can't count on him getting bored or getting work outside of Japan." Looking fierce and nearly possessive, Omi glanced at Aya and Yohji. "We're not going to give him what he wants and hope that'll be enough. We may have to kill him." He sounded so cold....
Aya felt something in his chest spasm and told himself that it was over Omi feeling the need to be ruthless in his defense and not over killing the telepath. Yohji looked upset too, but he would look upset if Schuldig had been telling the truth about his dreams. Killing Schuldig made sense. But--
"We have to get a mission for that," Ken said softly.
"Or make sure one comes up that fills our needs."
Omi knew, as Aya did, that their sanction as Weiß didn't make them any the less murderers. It just gave them a patron to protect them and an excuse for their actions, as if 'executions' weren't murder. He simply never expected-- or wanted-- Omi to be so open about it. Not Omi.
Ken looked at Omi with his heart obviously breaking. "There has to be another way." Not because he cared about Schuldig, but because he cared about what he thought it would do to Omi to think this way.
"Do you really think he'll stop on his own? Someone has to stop him."
Aya had brought Omi to this by attracting Schuldig's attention, just as he'd snagged Yohji into that attention. These were some of the perils of being so entangled with other people; you could get them hurt or they could get hurt for the misfortune of knowing you. How did you dare do anything if you had to worry about it hurting everyone around you? Everything had been so much clearer when he'd only had his sister and his vengeance to be concerned with. It had been so much easier to be decisive, and he'd only allowed himself to feel guilt in one area.... He crossed his arms under his breasts and closed his eyes.
Aya twitched as an arm settled around his shoulders and drew him close to someone. Yohji. Aya let himself lean on him.
"3 a.m. isn't the time to be making these kinds of plans," Ken said.
"Okay. We'll shelve this for a while."
"Aya, are you okay?"
"Huh?" Aya asked and opened his eyes. That sounded intelligent.
"You're not stuck as a girl again, are you?" No wonder Ken had given him an odd look as he'd walked in. Ken would probably be even more confused than Yohji had been by his decision to willingly go out like this.
It confused Aya too.
"No, I'm fine. Just tired. I'm going to go in back and," Aya had to fight back a giggle that probably wouldn't have sounded sane, "change for bed. Good night." He kissed the side of Yohji's jaw, then pulled out of his loose embrace so he could leave. He'd realized that Yohji hadn't told them anything before he'd arrived.
"I don't think I'll ever understand Aya," Ken said.
"Join the club," Yohji answered as he watched Aya walk away with that girl swing to his girl hips. He didn't feel as angry about the whole lesbian on the side thing anymore, since the worrying took too much of his energy. "Hey, Kenken, I need to talk to Omi alone for a bit."
"Yeah, sure." Ken looked curious but didn't ask, just left for the bunk area. Maybe he'd started to realize how blissful ignorance was.
Once Ken had left the room, Yohji said, "Aya was going to see her as woman. Why don't you look surprised?" Omi had been wearing that 'I know everything there is to know about Aya' look all day, and it pissed Yohji off.
"Aya called her the night before we left Tokyo, when he was a woman, so of course she knows him that way."
"Did you know she was a lesbian?"
Omi looked a little bit surprised at that at least. "No, but it isn't so far-fetched."
Yohji wanted to tear out his hair. No, better to tear out Omi's hair. But he still didn't do it. "This isn't healthy, and you're not helping him by being so accepting."
"You're passing judgment on his sexuality?" Omi sounded a bit frosty.
"No, on his identity issues."
"What identity issues?"
"When he goes out to do something he thinks is wrong, he becomes a woman to do it."
"Once that we know of! Besides, since Miss Yoshida is a lesbian, going to see her as a man makes no sense."
"You're the one supervising him through this whole shapechanging thing."
Omi looked incredulous. "Are you jealous of me? I'm helping with his training, but you're his lover. Wanna trade?"
"Can't you see he has a problem?"
"Right now his problem is you. For training he needs someone who doesn't have a 'this is so wrong' look on his face every time he does something--"
"I do not."
"--because that would lead to repression, not control. Besides, it shouldn't be a lover."
"So if one day he told you to take him now, you'd resign as his trainer."
"Yeah. Not that he's likely to start wanting me. Don't give me that look."
"The 'you're a Takatori after all' look, because that has nothing to do with anything. Aya needs help, and I'm not repulsed by what he can do. Unlike some people."
"I'm not repulsed!" When did Omi learn to snap and fight like this?
Omi took a deep breath. When had he started to look older? A darker blond, a little taller, a little more angular, less wide-eyed, less fluffy? "Yohji, you knew he had to be working on something like shapechanging because you were there when Kritiker starting drooling over it."
"I knew he can turn into a woman and that he can ghost through things." When had this become his life? "I didn't know about the rest of it."
"He started playing around with the rest on his own. I just make sure he doesn't go too far."
"Wait a minute, we weren't even talking about this! My problem was that he was seeing this Yoshida girl and doing it as a woman."
"His problem is that he saw the look on your face when you saw him disguised."
"I didn't have a look on my face."
"I was surprised! You two didn't tell me what you were up to."
"Surprised right into horror. I might have gone for an ego boost somewhere else too, if I were him."
He hadn't done that. Had he? Shit. "I'm not taking full responsibility for this."
"And you shouldn't. There's plenty to go around. We have to be better than this."
"That was an interesting reaction you two had when I said we had to kill Schuldig."
Shit. Yohji hadn't liked his upset reaction. Was he getting some assassin's version of that abused wife syndrome? "You sounded so ruthless."
That was almost a sneer on Omi's face. "And little Omi shouldn't?"
"Okay. Sorry." Slightly ashamed, Omi looked more like Omi. "We just can't let him divide us like this. Do you have any idea if he's doing this for pay or a hobby?"
"I think it's a hobby."
"Shit. That makes him more unpredictable."
"Yep. Omi, it's 3 a.m. Maybe we should get some sleep."
"Of course I'm right." But he had the feeling that Omi had noticed his slight topic shift over Schuldig.
When Yohji walked past Aya's bunk, Aya snagged his arm. "Yohji, I am sorry." Male, dressed for bed, he reclined on the bunk but looked tense.
"You hate those words, don't you?"
"'I'm sorry'? Don't you?"
"Yeah." Yohji put his hand over Aya's. "I know you are." Weird to think that Aya would need more control over his emotions and hormones. Then again, he'd seen Aya in a Takatori-induced mindless rage, so maybe Aya's problems with self-control weren't so unprecedented. It was the lust that kept surprising them....
"Let me make it up to you."
If Aya wanted to offer.... "I have some ideas."
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten
E-mail the authors:
Maya Tawi - firstname.lastname@example.org
Viridian5 - Viridian5@aol.com
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The Green Room version 3.0 (Viridian5's fanfiction)