Oneshot; Takaba and a drunk Asami manage to communicate, sort of. Written Sept 2007
A pounding at the door gave him one. He didn't even bother to check who it was before opening the door. Once he had, he wished he hadn't.
He slammed the door shut, or tried, but the blond Hulk outside it wouldn't let him, and the man shoved his way into the apartment.
As usual when cornered, he attempted an angry bravado. "You know, you looked a lot better when you were all green."
"You know, if I hadn't heard that from every two-bit punk who mistakenly thought he was a wit I might be amused," the blond shot back.
Akihito blinked in amazement.
The bodyguard looked down his nose at him, which was really the only way the giant could look at anyone. "Didn't expect brains with this beauty, did you? I'd think after spending all that quality time with Liu that you'd know better than to judge a book by its cover. But I'm not here to discuss your shortcomings. That will have to wait for a better week. I want you to come with me."
"I don't take his orders."
"These aren't his orders. This is a request, from me."
That threw Akihito for a second, and he replied slowly. "Why should I do anything for you?"
The blond shrugged. "Because you're that kind of guy, to help someone in trouble."
"You're in trouble and you want my help? What could I possibly do to help you?"
"I'll explain on the way. Will you come?"
He was too intrigued to say no. And besides, the man was right. He was that kind of guy.
"Listen kid, do this, and I'll be a source for you. Not about him, but about someone unconnected. I'll get you a story that will make your name."
"I'll get my own stories!"
"Yeah, you're doing a great job of that so far. I saw your latest on Asami-sama's desk. What was it? A ramen eating contest? Your photo of the winner hurling his noodles was exquisite, great eye there."
"Shut up. Everyone has to take small jobs to make ends meet between bigger ones."
The bodyguard snorted. "What was the small job you took after that one?"
Akihito seethed but it was more from hearing the truth than being insulted. "Why can't you do this?"
The man shot him a dirty look. "Don't you think we'd try? He doesn't put up with that from us, doesn't say a word, only stares with that cold expression, but we tried anyway. It's got to be you. He lets you get away with crap he'd kill anyone else for doing."
"I wouldn't call what he does to me 'getting away' with anything," Akihito muttered. "Besides, he sure as hell doesn't talk to me. He never tells me anything." That hurt enough that he didn't want to be reminded of it, by this incident whatever it was, or anything else.
Still, the bribe was interesting. "And if I do this, you'll get me some inside information on what?"
"I'll dig around, give you some choices. You can pick from them."
The guy didn't seem to be lying. It would be a decent break for him if he could get a line on a new criminal investigation. He reluctantly got out of the car and headed for the exclusive tower of apartments.
Five minutes later Akihito stood in front of the door. He'd never come over here before of his own accord, with reason. He wasn't sure he wouldn't be better off going straight back down the elevator.
Ten minutes later Akihito still stood in front of the door, just staring at it. He could just leave. The guy downstairs would never know. But, he had to admit, aside from the bribe the Hulk had offered, he was curious. What was going on with Asami that would make the guy's bodyguard come find him and dump him on the man's doorstep?
It was enough to drive him to knock on the door.
He stood there for a minute, listening for signs of life in the apartment. There were none.
He tried again, banging more loudly with the heel of his hand.
Still nothing. What the hell? I don't have all night. If he doesn't answer this time I'm leaving.
He raised his fist about to wallop the door with everything he had when it was suddenly opened, throwing him off balance. Fist raised, he stood there like an idiot staring at the sight in front of him.
Asami was looking at him through squinty eyes, weaving slightly, a half empty glass in hand. A flood of alcohol vapors surrounded him.
"You're drunk," Akihito blurted out.
"Brilliant deduction, Akihito. Do you also have thoughts on the stock market? I'm always in need of an extra couple of yen." Asami drained the glass of its gold liquid, then turned back into his apartment, leaving the door open.
Akihito couldn't help but follow, watching entranced as the man carefully placed one bare foot in front of the other, making his way down the hall toward his bedroom. The way he moved almost seemed a choreographed dance.
Akihito closed the door behind him and toed off his shoes. Asami was very western in some ways, throwing convention out simply because it was convention. But apparently in others he remained quite Japanese. Akihito slipped on a pair of new looking slippers that sat by the door, surprised that they fit him perfectly. He wondered who they were made for, not believing the thought that it could be him.
Probably all his lovers are my size.
He followed the sounds of clinking ice, and found Asami had stopped off at his kitchen, and was examining several bottles of liquor by holding them up close to his nose. An empty cognac bottle sat on the counter, as did a small bottle that Akihito recognized as one that had held quality sake.
"How long have you been drinking? I've never seen you wasted like this."
Asami turned to him and waved the bottle of tequila he was holding with a flourish. "Approximately twenty-four years now. Thirty-five minus eleven. Are you impressed, that I can do math? You shouldn't be. I am, after all, a genius."
Akihito leaned against the polished steel refrigerator, only the best for Asami, and snorted. "I'm glad to see drinking hasn't affected your ego."
"And why should it? Alcohol lowers inhibitions and brings out the truth. And the truth just makes me look better." Asami carefully set the tequila down and chose a bluish green bottle instead. "Oh, this one is pretty. The color of the American dollar. I'll try this next."
He winced as gin filled the highball glass. "You're going to have a hell of a headache tomorrow." But, he thought optimistically, with all that alcohol in his system there was no way Asami could get it up. He relaxed, feeling safe in his presence for once. All they could do was talk.
"I never have hangovers. Or if I do, I never show it, and that's the same thing."
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. But it says a lot about you. Image is everything, huh?"
"The face you present to the world is what you are."
Akihito tried to follow that thought and failed. "Maybe you should leave philosophizing for another time."
"Oh, on the contrary. I think tonight would be a wonderful night for us to discuss such things Akihito. You're rarely so relaxed around me, unless you're the one who's been drinking. I can tell you think I'm harmless tonight, don't you?" A smile played about Asami's lips.
Akihito felt uncomfortable as usual at being seen through so easily by his lover. It was especially scary since it was obvious that Asami was having trouble seeing anything else. "I wouldn't say that you're ever harmless. Except maybe when you're unconscious."
Asami's smile turned into a smirk. "You're getting wiser. Drinking loosens inhibitions. Think about that." Asami wandered in his direction, glass in hand.
"You don't have any to loosen."
He now stood before Akihito, looming over him. "Oh I do, Akihito. I do. From where you stand you don't think so, but believe me, until now you've only seen me with a tight rein on control."
Akihito looked up into eyes which didn't seem to have any problems focusing on him and purposely misinterpreted the words. "That's true. You never let me see you vulnerable. Or, you didn't used to. And you never let me see inside you. But why would you think the threat of that would scare me?"
Asami frowned. "You misunderstand me as usual. And as to whether or not seeing inside me would scare you, it should, very much." With that he turned away abruptly, briefly teetering before regaining his balance. "I'm going to bed." He made his way to the door, using his hand to make sure he got through the hole into the hallway, then let it drop down to turn out the light.
Akihito stood in the darkness for a moment. Then as always, he followed.
Asami was sitting on the edge of his bed, shirt off, sort of. He'd evidently had trouble with his cufflinks and after unbuttoning the dress shirt removed it over his head. Now his wrists were trapped in the shirt and he was staring at them slightly puzzled. Akihito giggled and took a picture using his cell.
"There's one for the scrapbook! You look kind of cute when you scowl that way."
Asami tugged at the shirt in frustration. He was not amused.
Akihito couldn't resist. He'd have this to hold over Asami's head for years. He stuck his phone back into his jeans pocket and walked over to kneel at Asami's feet. "Let me. It would help if you let go of the drink you know." He took the glass away and set it on the floor.
As he worked at the cufflinks he glanced up at Asami, who was watching him with a bemused expression. "What's that look for?"
"If I wanted you to do that you'd tell me to fuck off, then run away hurling insults. But I don't ask and so it's acceptable."
"No, when you don't ask and simply command it's unacceptable. If you asked, I might do it. Depending."
"Depending on what?"
"What you were asking. And how."
Asami watched him silently as he got the cuffs, and the shirt off. "I don't ask for anything."
"Is that supposed to be news to me?"
"No, it is an affirmation. Just to make sure you understand." He bent and picked his gin up and took a gulp.
Akihito tiredly reached for Asami's waist and unbuckled his belt. "Asami, if I understand anything about you it's that. You should try it the other way sometime, just for the novelty."
"I did before."
"Huh?" He glanced up from where he was unsuccessfully trying not to let his fingers brush Asami's crotch too intimately as he unzipped the pants.
Asami was staring at the wall. "I tried it your way before. Asking. You just end up without the thing you want."
Akihito moved up onto the bed beside him, curious, hoping he might talk for once. "What did you want?"
Asami just shook his head. "Nothing that matters now."
"Is that why you were drinking so much tonight?"
"That took longer than I expected. Your questions."
"I was being polite."
"That, too, was unexpected."
"I'm losing the urge to stay polite."
"Oh please do. It's such a bore this way."
"You're not going to insult your way out of this one. Why were you drinking? Your Incredible Hulk brought me over here because he was concerned. There must be something that bothered you an awful lot. Where are those loose inhibitions that will let you talk?"
"They lie about you in rags. All except for two, which will never be loosed."
Akihito looked at the weary man before him. He'd never seen Asami like this. "And one of those two is why you were drinking."
"Got it in one. That's my boy. Sharp as a Pocky stick, and as tasty."
Akihito crawled behind Asami and wrapped his arms around his lover's broad shoulders, then leaned his head on one.
Asami stiffened. "What, may I ask, are you doing?"
"I'm offering you myself to lean on. Maybe because I know you hate it. Or maybe because you just seem... different tonight. Not just drunk, but human."
He was surprised when he felt Asami suddenly relax against him.
"I don't lean on anyone either."
"I know." Even though you're doing it now. Akihito felt a surge of affection for this man who would never admit bending, even as he did it.
They sat, silently, for some minutes like that, Akihito enjoying the warmth and the peace of it. He hoped some of that was seeping into Asami.
It must have, because the man's head eventually drooped, and he began to fall asleep. Akihito reached around for the glass of gin, took it from Asami's relaxed fingers and set it on the nightstand. He slid around to the other side of Asami, then picked up his legs to lay him completely on the bed. The pants were easy to take off now.
Akihito was bending over and pulling the covers up when Asami's eyes shot open and his fist grabbed Akihito's shirt. They stared at each other, inches apart.
"Akihito..." Asami's voice was rough.
His own was soft. "What?"
He just stared down, disappointed. "Another command?"
Asami's eyes were slipping shut, and his answer was mumbled. "Can't ask. Can't let you say no."
His heart melted.
He finally understood.
Akihito turned off the light and climbed onto the bed, lying next to Asami, not quite touching him, except that he couldn't keep his hand from the thick, dark hair, stroking it lightly.
He spoke in a whisper. "I wouldn't have said no."
The next day was business as usual, a chipper Asami tangling with him for forty-five minutes of morning sex, followed by another quick bout in the shower, and finishing with some playful jabs that had him shouting insults and storming from the apartment. Almost.
As he put his shoes on to leave, he saw that the slippers he'd worn had been placed back neatly beside the door. This time he somehow knew they were waiting for him, and somehow always had been. Tears pricked his eyes, and he looked up to see Asami leaning against the kitchen doorframe, sipping steaming coffee and watching him.
I love you. And you never even had to ask.
Asami walked down the hall to him, set his coffee aside, and kissed him. His lips were hot and slightly bitter from the strong brew, but they were soft and his tongue was teasing. Akihito surrendered to it, on the verge of dragging Asami to the floor when the other broke away.
"Be here tonight at 20:00 for dinner."
Another command. But now that he knew what was behind it, he found he didn't mind so much. He answered as if it had been a request, just to get the man to think. "Alright. Should I bring some alcohol?"
Asami grimaced. "Let's skip that tonight."
"Oh I don't know, you were kind of cute last night."
"You don't remember anything?"
"What?" The response was a little sharp. He knew then that he'd never find out what was behind last night's episode. But that was OK. It was enough that Asami had let him, no, asked him to stay, in his own way. Even if he didn't remember it.
He smiled and shook his head, enjoying the sight of the tension clearing from the other's face. "Have a good day at work. Don't kill too many people, OK?" He rose up on his toes and kissed Asami's cheek. "I'll see you tonight."
The door was closing behind him as he slipped into the hallway, but when it didn't click shut he turned. Asami was standing there, holding it open. He looked like he was trying to say something.
Akihito felt a smile slowly spread across his lips.
The man finally managed to get some words out. "I don't thank anyone."
Akihito almost laughed. "I know. You don't ask for anything, you don't lean on anyone, and you don't love anyone. And you never, ever, get drunk."
Asami cleared his throat. "Just so we're clear on that."
"Very clear." Akihito danced backwards and hit the button on the elevator. "So clear I can see right through you." The doors behind him opened, and he grinned and waved at the scowling face he was leaving behind as he ducked into the car.
The Hulk was waiting below, with limo.
"He asked me to drive you wherever you wanted to go."
"Did he? I think I'd like to go home then, seeing as my clothes are dirty and stinky."
The bodyguard laughed, surprising an answering laugh out of Akihito.
"He sounded much better this morning."
"I think he is."
"Did he say anything...?"
Akihito shook his head. "No. You know him." He turned to the guard. "Do you know what was behind it?"
The guard shrugged. "Nope. You know him. At any rate, I owe you."
"No, you don't. Don't worry about it. He... he took care of all debts."
The guard glanced over. "What does that mean?"
"It means I was paid in full. He doesn't owe me anything, and I don't owe him." Akihito leaned back against the headrest and closed his eyes. "And he doesn't mean anything to me, and I don't mean anything to him. And I'm not having dinner with him tonight either, so.... what's your name, anyway?"
The answer was a little slow in coming, but it finally did. "Suoh Kazumi."
"So then, Suoh-san, make sure you don't pick me up at 19:30, 'K?"
He heard a snort. "Whatever you don't say, Takaba-san."
Akihito's cell phone chimed, claiming his attention. A text message. It was from Asami.
Akihito. I assume you'll be staying the night tonight? Perhaps this time, I'll fall asleep before you do.
Akihito's hands trembled a little, looking at that question mark and the sentence that followed it. He said he didn't remember a thing...
He sent the only answer possible.