Two men, one bed. Now all that's needed is a little courage.
As his thoughts began to retrace the night's events, he tried to concentrate, but he was bone-weary and he really needed to sleep. Too many long, tiring hours completing a mission that had gone wrong almost from the time the target arrived. Too many dark, tiring hours trying to get damaged team-mates to this unfamiliar safe-house.
Nothing we could have done, he told himself as the mission played out to its end in his head. None of the screw-ups were our fault. Tomorrow, he promised, tomorrow there would be questions asked and he had better like the answers.
But for now...well, now he was deathly tired. He'd helped drag Omi and Ken away from the scene. The car they'd been lent to complete this mission remained at the scene - an undriveable mess. They were miles from home and Aya could only hope that Omi's equipment had survived, undamaged. The car wasn't a problem. It was untraceable.
Reaching this place, they'd hauled Ken and Omi to separate beds and checked them over. No permanent damage; nothing that would threaten their health. But they'd both taken a battering - Omi when he'd fallen down a flight of stairs; Ken in the course of disposing of their target's henchmen - more henchmen than were supposed to be there. Just one of the night's hiccoughs.
But the main thing in all this was that none of them was badly injured. On the whole, a good night's sleep and maybe a day or two of rest, and they'd all be their usual selves.
Voices drifted to him from another room. He blinked, hearing Omi's soft, strained laugh. Don't make him laugh, Yohji, he warned his team-mate silently. The poor kid's sore enough as it is. Let him sleep.
Sleep. It was an enticing thought. He craved it but wondered if his anger would ward it off. Because despite his calm faÃ§ade and his stillness, Aya was furious. They deserved better intelligence than they'd received for this job. They usually got it. So what had gone wrong? How had it gone wrong? Those and many more questions clamored for answers in his mind, and he was damned sure he was going to get them once they were safely home.
He drew a breath to calm himself, then hissed as he reached for his ribs. God, they hurt! Anything deeper than a shallow breath reminded him that he hadn't escaped unscathed. He let out his breath slowly. No matter. He'd had worse, and he knew for a fact no ribs were broken. Time would heal and, until then, all he had to do was bear with it.
"Hey, you scored a double bed," Yohji said as he came into the room. Trust him to notice, Aya thought. "How convenient."
Thoughts of the mission were fading as Yohji invaded Aya's space. Aya watched him as he moved into the room, blithely unaware of the aggravation he was causing. Aya let his hand move away from his ribs. He didn't want to give any clue that he was hurting - especially not to Yohji. He didn't want anyone poking around at his ribs - especially not Yohji.
"Ken and Omi are settled for the night," Yohji informed him. He stretched expansively. Obviously he'd come to no harm during the past few hours. "The house is secured," he went on as he relaxed. He looked at Aya, and gave a grin. "Time for bed. Looks like we'll be bunking together."
Aya hid his surprise behind a glare. "Why?"
"Because," Yohji began to slide his leather coat off, "Ken and Omi have the only other beds in this place - and they're both single beds."
Could this night get any worse, Aya wondered?
Yohji came and stood in front of him. "Where are you hurt?" he asked quietly.
Aya glared up at him. "I'm all right," he said, his tone daring Yohji to disagree.
"Course you are. That's why you're in here and not out there, checking on Omi and Ken and the locks."
"Ken and Omi are fine. I did check on them," Aya ground out.
Yohji nodded and began to turn away... then Aya found himself sprawled on his back. Reflexively, he'd reached for his ribs.
"Ahh," Yohji breathed.
"Bastard," Aya spat at him.
Yohji accepted the insult with a grin. "I knew you were lying to me, I knew you were hurt." He reached out a hand. "Let me take a look."
Aya smacked his hand away and struggled upright. "Leave me alone," he ordered. "Sore ribs, nothing more."
"Sure? Nothing broken?"
"Yes I'm sure," Aya replied shortly. He'd been looking forward to sinking into this bed and into oblivion until morning. Now Yohji had waltzed in here, shattering Aya's fragile composure by announcing he would be sleeping with him. Aya watched him as he moved away. Like you shattered my composure all those months ago when I realized what I felt for you had a name.
Aya stared as Yohji peeled off his tight black turtleneck top.
"What are you doing?" Aya snapped at him.
Yohji shook his hair back then turned his head. "What's it look like?"
Slow and cruel torture, Aya thought, deliberately keeping his gaze on his team-mate's face. But that was no use, either. I can't look at any part of him... Aya directed his gaze at the skimpy black item of clothing now lying over the foot of the bed.
"Why?" It was all his rapidly addling brain could drag up by way of speech.
"Because I didn't think to pack a spare set of clothes so I'll have to wear these again tomorrow and I'd prefer it if they weren't all wrinkled," Yohji answered as he bent to remove his boots.
Aya was struck dumb.
Come on, some part of him teased wickedly, this is the chance you've been waiting for, isn't it? How many nights have you laid in your bed trying to figure out how to let him know how you feel? Here's your chance, after all! He's practically offering himself to you. All you have to do is reach out and take what's on offer.
No, Aya argued back. Nothing's on offer here. You're wrong if you think so.
Suddenly all thought was chased from his head. Aya sat perfectly still - frozen in place. Yohji was reaching to unbutton his pants...and Yohji never (or rarely) wore underwear.
Oh fuck, Aya moaned inwardly. I can't take this, I really can't. I'm going to have to find somewhere else to sleep.
Aya only knew one means of defence - attack. "Dare I hope you put on underwear today?" he sniped.
Yohji ignored his tone. Grasping the waistband either side of the now unzipped fly, he opened the front of his pants and looked down. Then he turned his head, dark hair sliding across his cheek as he looked back at Aya. His smile was a tease.
"Oops." It was all he said before he began to urge the tight pants downwards.
Yohji never undressed, he unpeeled. His clothes were always so damned tight...dress sense of a ten-dollar whore, Aya thought with disgust, his gaze not moving from the slender body being revealed to him. Then realization came to him, making him see what he was watching, and he turned his head quickly, finding something of great interest on the carpeted floor.
Look! That wicked little voice inside his head demanded - desperate .
"You could leave your pants on," Aya said aloud, ignoring his inner voice.
"Sleep in these? Are you kidding?" Yohji scoffed.
There was silence for a moment or two, broken only by soft sounds from the end of the bed. Then Aya caught movement out the corner of his eye. Yohji was moving. Any minute now, he'd be crawling between the sheets and settling to sleep. Nothing more than that. He wasn't trying to seduce Aya, he wasn't trying to flirt...well, no more than usual, but the man couldn't help himself, could he? But no matter what the little voice inside his head was suggesting, Aya's sense knew best.
He felt the bed move as Yohji climbed in. Aya remained where he was, his back to his team-mate, his spine rigid. What to do? There had to be somewhere else to sleep, surely? Even the floor would be better than the futile trap this bed had become. Decide, he ordered himself. Usually he wasn't indecisive at all. He was an assassin, for God's sake. He was required to make quick decisions - correct, quick decisions. So why wasn't his brain co-operating now? Why couldn't he get his thoughts into some order, make a decision and act on it?
Aya was so wrapped up in his own thoughts he didn't feel the bed move and almost jumped out of his skin when a hand touched him gently on the lower back.
"Fuck!" Yohji muttered at his team-mate's reaction. He'd withdrawn his hand with impressive speed.
Aya's heart was still pounding in his chest as he turned his head and directed a fierce look at the other man. It wasn't really a sight he'd needed to see - Yohji leaning up on one elbow, that lovely face turned to him, thick chestnut hair falling easily to his slender shoulders and into the beautiful, surprised eyes that were watching him, that tempting mouth... all of him was a temptation. Stop! Aya's despairing mind screamed at him, shaking him out of his entranced state. He closed his eyes but it was too late for that. The sight was burned into his irises and memory.
You're a fool, Fujimiya, he castigated himself.
"Aya?" His name was spoken softly, querulously.
He opened his eyes slowly, not wanting to take in that sight again. But Yohji presented a slightly different pose. He was more upright now, bracing himself on one arm as he leaned cautiously closer to an apparently feral Aya, a slight frown on his face. His left hand hovered in the air between them, its owner uncertain whether to risk another touch.
"Is it your ribs?" Yohji asked, lowering his hand.
Aya drew a breath to smother his disappointment as the hand descended to the bed. "No," he replied. "I was thinking and you surprised me," he explained.
That was all it took to put a gentle smile on Yohji's face. "Forget thinking," he advised. "Lie down, get some sleep. Maybe in the morning things will be clearer."
"Maybe I should sleep somewhere else." It was out of his mouth before he realized he was thinking it.
Now Yohji's smile lost its innocence. He tipped his head to one side. "Don't you trust me?" he teased.
"It's not that..."
"You're safe. I'm not going to rape you, you know," Yohji continued his teasing.
Oh God, I wish you'd try - because it wouldn't be rape at all.
"Aya." A strong hand gripped his upper arm. He drew his attention back to the man in the bed - his bed, or so he'd thought, his alone for this night. "Let it go for now," Yohji urged. There was nothing of amusement about him. "The target's dead and we're not - that's all that matters right now," Yohji went on. His expression was so earnest, Aya wanted to gather him in his arms. "Lie down, get some sleep. If you don't trust me, then find another bed, but sleep, Aya."
Aya met his gaze for a long moment before turning from the other man and leaning down - carefully - to remove his boots.
"You need a hand?"
"No," he replied. No way on God's earth did he want a naked Yohji kneeling before him - even if it was only to help remove his boots.
Completing the task, he stood up and drew back the covers. Yohji, lying back on his pillow, watched him with obvious puzzlement.
"You're going to sleep in your clothes?"
"Yes." Aya climbed between the sheets. He turned his back to Yohji and lie down, drawing the covers over himself. He closed his eyes and tried to pretend he was alone in this bed.
He was allowed to continue the pretence for about thirty seconds. Then he felt the bed move. Aya stiffened, wondering what torture Yohji might have in mind. The smell of faded cologne and cigarettes wafted over him.
He opened his eyes, turning his head. Yohji was leaning over him - far too close for comfort. Aya could feel that naked chest against his back.
"The light," Yohji said.
"You get it," Aya said shortly, and re-settled, closing his eyes again.
He heard the theatrical sigh and felt the bed move as Yohji climbed out. He forced himself to keep his eyes shut. Aya was not one for senseless torture.
The darkness behind his eyelids deepened and soon the bed moved as Yohji joined him once more.
Sleep, Aya ordered himself. Just...sleep.
It took an eternity - an eternity during which he bore with Yohji's fidgeting as he made himself comfortable, and bit back on a sharp order to just lie still; an eternity during which he heard Yohji's breathing deepen and slow into the pattern of a man asleep. An eternity during which Aya refused to allow himself to move, or think, or hope.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
As soon as he awoke, Aya was aware of his circumstances. Light seeping in around the edges of the curtains told him the night was over. The feel of a lean, warm body resting against his back told him the bleak night that was his impossible dream wasn't over - perhaps it never would be. But there was no harm in enjoying the few crumbs fate tossed his way. This was nice, he told himself. Just lying here, with him resting against me - no teasing, no sharp, defensive words. It was very nice indeed.
For a moment or two, Aya almost felt contented. It's a wise man who appreciates the limits of what he can have, he told himself. But now he found himself wanting to look, wanting to see Yohji sleeping. As carefully as he could, he moved onto his back. He wasn't concerned that any movement he might make would rouse Yohji from his sleep. His only concern was that Yohji might stir and turn away from him. Yohji did stir a little but he didn't turn away. Instead, his arm snaked around Aya's waist, causing Aya to freeze. Some months ago, Aya had formulated a Yohji mantra all his own. It ran something like this:
Look - don't touch
Think - don't imagine
That mantra ran round in his head now. Yohji, quite clearly, did not have a similar mantra. Even deeply asleep he knew there was a warm body alongside him and had no qualms about snuggling against it. His unconscious mind cared nothing about gender. It's too bad...Aya let that thought go, reminding himself to 'Think - don't imagine.'
He turned his head the little more needed so he could look at his bedmate. Relaxed in sleep, Yohji looked totally at peace, unthreatening, defenceless, vulnerable - and truly beautiful. Well, Aya reconsidered, he's always beautiful, it's just that when he's awake, his mouth tends to detract from the all-round impression. But asleep...
Touch him. That wicked little voice in his head had awoken.
I don't need to.
Just stroke the hair back from his face.
Aya ignored the voice. He didn't fear it - didn't fear his mind was being manipulated for the amusement of another. He recognized the inner voice as purely his own - stemming from that part of him that craved some comfort, some intimacy, and was prepared to risk all else in order to gain it.
Then take it! That annoying voice was in full cry. You could take advantage now. You know how deeply he sleeps. You could start to work him and, by the time he was awake enough to realize what was happening, he'd be too far gone to want to stop. You think, once aroused, he'd reject a hand or a mouth just because they were attached to a male body? You think it wouldn't stroke his ego to know he'd melted the ice within you? You'd have your wish - you'd turn the playboy into a playtoy.
No, Aya argued silently with himself. His ego would be appeased by the simple knowledge that I desired him - he wouldn't need me to carry through with the physical proof.
If you aroused him enough...
No! Aya turned his head away from Yohji and closed his eyes to focus his concentration.
I'm not a coward, Aya argued with himself. I'm...simply not ready to take that step.
You'll never be ready, he was taunted.
Aya was beginning to wonder if his inner voice had been taking lessons from that annoying German. He kept his eyes shut, and focused his mind on thoughts that did not include Yohji.
Persia, Manx and a lot of questions about last night. These were the things Aya concentrated on, letting the mundane smother imagination. With Yohji's arm resting over him, it was no easy task, but Aya was nothing if not determined.
Yohji would be a step in the wrong direction. They had to work as a team; a team engaged in an extremely dangerous profession. Personal relationships could become tense enough without adding the spark of intimacy to an already explosive mix. He'd joined WeiÃŸ for a reason, and that reason remained. He could not put himself first. He hadn't taken a name and worn an ear-ring for all these years just to throw them to one side when personal pleasure beckoned. Yohji offered pleasure; Yohji offered the chance at a little happiness - but Aya was a realist. Yohji's reputation was well-earned, and it didn't encourage hope for a long-term relationship. How long would it be before Yohji's playboy nature came to the fore and he began to look around for his next conquest? No, nothing good could come of engaging in intimacy with the older man.
There would be time for relationships; for physical and emotional closeness with someone else - but that time was not now.
This was the thought that Aya used to stifle any further protests from his inner voice. That voice refused to go without a struggle, but eventually it buckled under Aya's iron will. It was a long battle, but one which saw Aya victorious. The outcome had never been in doubt. The only question had been how long it would take him to wrestle that rebellious part of his own mind into submission.
Finally triumphant, Aya let out a heavy sigh. Beside him, Yohji muttered and moved. Aya remained completely still as Yohji withdrew his arm.
Yohji said something but his sleep-heavy words were impossible to understand. Aya opened his eyes and looked across the short distance to his bed mate.
"What?" It came out sounding harsher and sharper than he'd meant.
Yohji moaned and turned his head away.
"It's time to get up," Aya said, knowing he still sounded pissed. Perhaps the removal of Yohji's arm from across his waist had something to do with his deteriorating mood.
"Jesus, Aya," Yohji complained, still sounding half-asleep. "Let me wake up first."
Aya didn't bother to reply. He pushed the covers back and sat up. The stabbing pain from his ribs caught him off-guard and caused him to grab at his mid-section. He grit his teeth against the small cry of pain that rose in his throat, managing to remain silent. He breathed heavily through his nose until the pain subsided then he carefully lent down and began to pull on his boots.
He felt the bed move but ignored it.
"Christ, Aya, it's barely dawn," Yohji pointed out. He sounded more awake now.
Aya finished tugging on his second boot and straightened. He moved his hand away from his ribs as he rose to his feet and turned to look down at Yohji. For a moment, he forgot what he was going to say as his gaze moved over the other man, who lay rumpled and sleepy-eyed and looking far too seductive for either of their sakes. The mere sight was enough to send Aya's irritation over the top.
"Do what you want," he said frostily. "You usually do."
He was certain - absolutely positive - that even Yohji would have enough sense not to irritate him when he was already majorly pissed. He was wrong.
Yohji gave a slow smile. "I like sleeping with you," he said. Aya's heart jumped in his chest. "You don't fidget and you don't move around much. A guy can get a decent sleep," Yohji finished.
Aya was sure he was being mocked. He turned and headed for the door.
You see, he told his still silent inner voice. It was never an opportunity. Yohji isn't the least bit interested in me - and that's why he could sleep with me so easily.
You're wrong, the inner voice countered. He can sleep with you so easily because he wouldn't mind it if you showed an interest.
No, Aya responded forcefully. You're wrong.
I guess we'll never know, his argumentative side capitulated.