Author’s Note: Any comments or criticisms (constructive ones mind you ;) can be sent to: email@example.com ^_^ any flames will be rolled up in cylinder and pushed in a tube that goes nowhere ^_~
Read and enjoy
‘Yes, but I can take care of this,’ he snapped at the blonde but the next minute his expression changed. ‘Why….why did you save me?’ he asked softly, so softly that Yohji had to strain to hear.
‘Because..’ Yohji swallowed, ‘I think I’m in love you,’ he said in his head not daring to voice it for fear that the man think him insane. ‘Just because,’ he finished lamely. At Aya’s piercing stare he haughtily added, ‘I don’t have to explain myself to you.’
‘Hmph,’ was Aya’s one word reply.
‘So,’ he pulled out a pack of smokes before leaning back against the same tree that Aya was propped up on, ‘where are we going to next?’
Aya frowned. ‘We? What do you mean by we?’ he said curtly.
‘Well we are kindda in the same boat, don’t you think we should help each other out?’ his green eyes flashed good-naturedly.
Against his better judgment Aya found himself saying, ‘I’ve got a safehouse. You can stay there until you’re healed as a thank you for saving me, but no longer,’ he gave him a look that promised uncertain amounts of pain if the blonde dared to outstay his welcome.
‘I promise,’ Yohji said smoothly crossing his fingers behind his back.
The safehouse turned out to be a florist’s shop situated in the quiet part of Tokyo run by his sister, who to Yohji’s surprise was also called Aya. Aya, or more accurately Ran, had done such a good job of hiding her that even his former employee’s didn’t know she existed. To be more precise, Omi had done a good job of hiding her right down to wiping out their family records.
Yohji, Aya was annoyed to find, charmed his way into her heart almost immediately. But he was even more annoyed to find that he was actually jealous of the attention he gave her. Days passed and Yohji didn’t seem to be leaving, if anything he seemed to be making himself more comfortable.
Still there would be times when he would announce out of the blue that he was going and Aya wouldn’t know how to feel. A part of him was happy to finally be rid of the smoking playboy while the other part scrabbled for an excuse for him to stay. Regardless, he always breathed easier when Yohji’s plans always seemed to mysteriously fall apart.
This had continued until one day, tired of the emotional roller coaster he seemed to constantly be on; Aya had ordered Yohji to get out.
‘Whoever invented early Monday mornings should be dragged out by his ass and shot,’ Toshi thought, letting loose a jaw-cracking yawn as he stumbled down the stairs of Yoshi’s house.
He was staying here for a couple of days while his own place was being painted and his girlfriend was out of town visiting relatives. But, he wasn’t complaining he admitted. It gave him a chance to relive his younger, wilder days when X Japan would stay out boozing till dawn and pull the weirdest shit. Staying with Yoshi almost, if not always guaranteed that he’d have a wicked time but was murder on his sleep patterns though.
So you can imagine how surprised he was to find Yoshi reading quietly at the dining table, a smoking fag between his fingers and the remains of a Continental breakfast in front of him. And judging by the handful of crushed cigarette butts in the crystal ashtray, he had been there for a while. Toshi’s eyebrows lifted almost to his hair.
‘What the hell are you doing up?’ he said bluntly, pulling up the chair next to him. Yoshi didn’t even flinch at his friend’s tactless question.
‘Good morning to you to sunshine,’ he replied sarcastically, not lifting his eyes off what he was reading. ‘Is it a crime to be awake?’
‘For you it is,’ Toshi said reaching for the stainless steel coffeepot, ‘getting pigs to fly fighter jets is a miniscule task when compared to getting you out of bed after an all night bender.’
Yoshi bit his lip, Toshi had a point. ‘I had some work to do,’ he answered instead, rather reluctantly Toshi thought. The drummer tossed aside the sheaf papers he had been reading before reaching for another one from the pile in front of him. Toshi looked at it with interest.
‘What’s all this?’ he asked flipping through the stack. Yoshi grabbed it away from him so fast Toshi almost got a paper cut.
‘Nothing,’ he said testily. But before Yoshi had snatched it away completely, Toshi had just managed to catch a glimpse of the letters ‘JCA’ in thin red type at the top of the page.
‘Your looking for him aren’t you?’ he asked straightforwardly, never one for beating round the bush, ‘your phantom stranger from that night.’ Yoshi briefly thought about denying it but then gave a resigned sigh.
‘Yeah.’ It was pointless to keep anything from Toshi who had known him since kindergarten. Toshi folded his arms, uncertain as to how to approach the subject.
‘I don’t get it Yoshi,’ he finally said, more concerned for his friend than simply curious, ‘this is really not like you. Why is finding this guy so important?’
‘Because..’ Yoshi felt himself falter, ‘because….’
‘What are you going to say Yoshiki?’ he could hear a mocking voice from the back of his head ask him. ‘That you can’t stop thinking about him? That the look in his eyes haunts your dreams? Stuff like that doesn’t happen in real life. Tell him and pretty soon men in white coats are going to come for you.’
Inwardly, he gave himself a grim smile.
‘I can see the headlines now….“X Japan star committed for believing in love at first sight and consequently becomes a stalker”.
‘Yoshi? Yoshiki?’ he heard Toshi call his name twice, the look on his face telling him that he had been waiting a while for him to answer.
‘I just…do Toshi,’ it wasn’t the best explanation but it was the most honest one he could give at the moment, ‘I just do.’ Toshi sighed and ran a hand through his mussed hair.
‘Then I guess you’d better hand me a couple of those. If you insist on finding this person, the very least I can do is to help you,’ Toshi said offering his hand. Yoshi gave the vocalist a grateful look.
‘Thank you Toshi,’ he pinched about an inch off the pile and handed it to his friend. Toshi frowned as he leafed through the clipped pages.
‘God there’s a lot to get through. But surely there weren’t that many people at the benefit that night?’
‘I know what you mean,’ Yoshi said grinding his cigarette into the ashtray before reaching for another. ‘I actually did ask for the particulars of those who were only present that night, but I think the guy at the JCA misheard me and sent me all of the JCA’s publicly listed contributors and if you don’t mind me saying,’ he threw the stapled papers down with a thwap, ‘there a fucking lot of them.’
Toshi bit into a piece of toast and started thumbing through what Yoshi had given him. They read silently for a few minutes until Yoshi heard vocalist take a sharp intake of breath.
‘Is this him?’ he asked pushing the sheet over to his bandmate. Yoshi had only to take one look to know that Toshi had found him. There was no mistaking it, deep red hair and purple eyes that here, stared sternly out of the picture. He glanced at particulars at the bottom.
‘Ran Fujimiya,’ he read out loud.
His stranger had a name
‘Good morning you two,’ Omi greeted as he came round from the outside and into the sibling’s kitchen.
‘Good morning Omi,’ Aya-chan returned the blonde’s greeting with as much cheerfulness as he had. Aya on the other hand just glared at Omi over the tops of his wire framed reading glasses.
‘Doesn’t Nagi ever cook you breakfast,’ he remarked flatly. Aya-chan nudged her brother sharply.
‘Ran!’ But Omi just laughed.
‘Nagi’s more a lover than a cook,’ he said cheekily, ‘and anyway, he had to go to work early today, something about a video conference. Besides, Aya-chan makes great breakfast.’ He appreciatively eyed the simple spread of rice, pickles, soup and sweet omelet.
‘Hmph,’ Aya replied as he started to sort through his mail. It was mostly bills, which he would deal with later but mixed in with the murky brown envelopes; a mint green one caught his eye. It looked so out of place that even Omi noticed.
‘What’s that Aya-kun?’ he asked pouring himself some green tea. Frowning slightly, the redhead slit open the envelope and out fell a couple of rectangles of stiff card, which Omi pounced on.
‘Tickets?’ His cobalt blue eyes grew impossible wide. ‘Its for X Japan’s concert in Kyoto!’
He turned to Aya who looked just as surprised as he was. Extracting the letter, he scanned it quickly looking for an explanation.
'Congratulations……your presence at the benefit automatically qualified,’ he read out loud what he thought was of any significance, ‘…two tickets to see X Japan perform in Kyoto, Friday the 12th of December. You will also get a chance to meet the band afterwards.’
‘That’s wonderful Ran,’ Aya-chan said excitedly clapping her hands together. Her brother on the other hand looked doubtful.
'I don’t remember any mention of this,' he said, clearly skeptical, ‘I’ll call them later to make sure.’
'Well it certainly looks genuine enough,' Aya-chan suddenly sat down next to him. ‘Ran, if it is real…could you let Ken and me have the tickets, please,’ she pleaded, ‘I mean… you’ve already seen them once.’
Omi grinned at her cajoling ways, he had acted pretty much the same to convince Aya the first time around. Her argument made sense, he didn’t think Aya would want to go all the way to Kyoto just to see a band he whose concert he had just been to. And he knew Aya hardly ever denied his sister anything. But his reply took Omi aback
'No Aya,' Aya said shortly. Aya-chan’s mouth fell agape
'Its not that I don’t trust Ken. Its just that this looks suspicious,' Aya tried to soften his refusal to let her go but his sister wouldn’t be consoled. 'I'll go and check it out myself.’
‘And that’s final Aya,’ he said his tone leaving no room for argument, ‘now, isn’t almost time to open the shop?’
Closing her mouth with a snap and her face as dark as thunder at being dismissed, Aya-chan flounced out of the kitchen to the shop below, but not without slamming the door behind her making Omi wince.
'She’s pretty upset,' he said pointedly to the redhead. Aya blanched a little.
'She'll get over it, but I can risk it being a trap. You above all people should know that,' he absentmindedly rubbed his finger over the holographic foil of the tickets. 'This maybe a stupid question but, would you like to come with me?'
The younger boy grinned. 'You don’t have to ask me twice.’ He tried to lighten his friend’s mood by joking, 'maybe I’ll succeed in turning you into a rabid X Japan fan this time.'
'Don’t be silly,' Aya said witheringly but then fell quiet. 'That man...,’ he began haltingly, ‘the drummer... he looks... he looks like Yohji.'
'Yoshiki?' Omi blinked at first but then mulled over what Aya had said. ‘Now that you mention it, yes a little but Yohji-kun wasn’t that pretty.'
'No, he wasn’t,' Aya said softly, fondly at the memory. Omi felt his heart ache with pity for his friend. In a way he could understand how Aya felt, he would have been the same if he ever lost Nagi. But still….
'We'll I’ve got to go,’ he got to his feet. ‘Don’t get to down okay Aya-kun?' he placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
But one look told him it was too late; Aya’s eyes had become dark and cloudy. Omi sighed and closed the door behind him, leaving Aya to his reminiscences.
Aya and Yohji had met when they had been assassins for rival organisations in Kyoto. In fact when they had first laid eyes on each other, they’d tried to kill each other. Well, more like Aya was about to take out Yohji’s boss when the blonde intervened.
It was the first of many encounters and Yohji could not help but harbour a grudging respect for his skilled rival that grew every time they met. So it was no wonder that when the order came down to terminate Aya completely, he was reluctant to do so. What had surprised him though was how his heart had sank at the news.
They had battled in an abandoned warehouse; both of them so equally well matched that neither could gain the upper hand. It wasn’t until a fatal slip on the redhead’s part allowed Yohji to snare him in his garrote, but his hands hesitated in tightening the wire. It was only then that Yohji realised that somehow….somewhere along the line, he had fallen in love with his archenemy.
But he knew what he had to do, this was his job, his feelings were off no importance. However he couldn’t stop himself from asking the redhead why he wanted to kill him. Aya could still remember his reply…..it was…. ‘Because they ordered me to.’
This revelation made Yohji’s hackles rise immediately and his suspicions were confirmed when a loud explosion went off above them. It rocked the walls and destroyed the main support pillar causing the roof to start caving in on them. Quick as a flash he retracted his wire and without thinking, grabbed the lapels of Aya’s coat and hauled him towards the nearest window. But their escape was hampered by an injury to Aya’s leg, so without thinking twice the blonde lifted him over his shoulder and crashed them both through the lead glass.
He did this not a moment to soon as the building exploded behind them, hurtling them like projectiles through the air causing them to land about 20 feet from the crumbling building. Although the both were badly shaken, Yohji still had the presence of mind to drag Aya into the surrounding woods, out of sight.
‘Those fucking son-of-a-bitches!!’ Yohji had raged after he had made sure everything vital was still attached. ‘Just wait till I get my hands on them!! What the fuck were they thinking trying getting rid of me…’
‘Why?’ Aya had quietly asked. Yohji stiffened and turned around.
‘What do you mean…why?’ he said caustically, ‘they tried to fucking kill us, after all we did for them. We can’t let them think they can get away with it…’
‘Why not?’ Aya said flatly nursing his injured leg, ‘let them think we’re dead…..that way…we’re free.’
Those two words made Yohji pause mid-rant. As his current situation dawned on him, he turned to the redhead a half grin plastered across his face.
‘You’ve got a point,’ he said as he sat down next to him. ‘Here let me take a look at that…Aya? It is Aya, isn’t it?’ Yohji carefully cradled the smooth calf in his hands. Aya glared at him.
To pin Aya to the wall and kiss him breathless.
It was then….he knew.
So after years of living from day to day, Aya and Yohji had found peace, which they didn’t even know they had been craving for. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, they had their share of spats and fallout’s, at times almost coming to blows but in the end the one thing that they were sure off in their lives, was that they would always be there for each other.
Then the bruises started appearing.
They were barely noticeable at first. Unexplainable gashes and marks that never seemed to fade. Soon Yohji stopped wearing his customary revealing clothing and insisted they make love with the lights off but he had glibly brushed off any concerns Aya had. As time went by, he got paler and thinner, causing Aya to be almost sick with concern yet Yohji still denied any existence of a problem. They fought more than usual until Aya, feeling rebuked, had just let him be.
Till one day, he collapsed in the shop and had to be rushed to the hospital. There the doctors told Aya what his boyfriend had tried so hard to conceal.
He had been enraged at Yohji and asked him why he hadn’t told him. Didn’t he trust him enough? He shouted. Yohji just gave Aya a sad look and said.
‘I didn’t want you to miss me.’
Aya had broken down after that, crying openly in the blonde’s arms as Yohji tried to comfort him not realising that his own cheeks were wet from his own tears.
From that day on Yohji never left the hospital and Aya only left when it was absolutely necessary. There would be days when Yohji would be strong enough to get up and walk around. He would flirt with all the nurses while he and Aya would make love in the narrow hospital bed at night.
Then there were days when he could barely lift his head of the pillow, his jade eyes listless and devoid of its usual sparkle. His depression got worse when his hair started falling out as a result of a last ditch effort to use chemotherapy. He didn’t even want to let Aya him see him after that as he had always been proud to the point of being vain about his appearance. But in Aya’s eyes nothing had changed, he was still the Yohji he had fallen in love with.
Three months later, Yohji lapsed into a coma.
Aya had spent the days after that holding his hand, scolding him, threatening him, begging him not to leave. Even the nurses who had seen this happen before wept a tear for his pain.
Then one still day in June, while Aya was brushing back what remained of his blonde hair, Yohji’s lips twitched upwards in beckoning smile. When Aya had leaned over to kiss him, he felt a warmth infuse him as if Yohji was trying to reassure him.
Shortly after that incident, Yohji Kudou passed away at the age of 26.
It seemed to Aya that he had spent the better part of the following two years in anger. The thing was he didn’t know who he was angrier with, Yohji for not telling him sooner or himself for not noticing till it was too late. Grief clung to him like a fog making it unbearable for anyone, even his sister, to be around him.
Eventually Aya did return to his normal way of life. Not because he wanted to, but because he was expected to. Mourn and move on. Don’t live in the past. Cliches that Aya took as gospel.
Because grief lessens….doesn’t it?
'Right this way,' a heavily built man in a well-cut suit escorted Aya and Omi backstage to the Green Room. The room wasn’t actually green; it was just a nickname christened to the room that interviews were held in. This particular room was in fact painted puce.
‘Please help yourselves,’ he said gesturing to a covered table that held stacks of sandwiches, tea, beer and what seemed like an endless number of Evian bottles. He then closed the door behind him, leaving the two of them completely alone.
'That was better than last time dont you agree Aya-kun?' Omi asked still exhilarated and almost bouncing off the walls. Aya smiled accommodatingly, it was times like this that he was reminded of how young Omi was.
‘It wasn’t bad,’ he admitted as they sat down on the plush mustard coloured couch. ‘But then that’s hardly surprising. More people, better atmosphere.’
It was at that moment the door swung open and in breezed a shock of pink that was Hide followed closely by the rest of the band. His eyes lighted up as they fell on the two of them.
‘Hi, you must be the guys who won that contest. I'm Hide,’ he introduced himself with a flourish. Yoshi shared a small smile with Toshi. It never ceased to amaze all of them how Hide just by himself managed to fill the entire room with his personality.
'Ran Fujimiya.….but people call me Aya,' Aya said politely shaking his hand. Omi however was more than a little star-struck and seemed incapable of speech, so Aya had to nudge him a little. Omi caught himself and swallowed hard.
'Omi Tsukiyono,' he finally answered, his smile threatening to crack his face. Toshi stepped forward.
‘I’m Toshi,’ the vocalist said kindly.
The introductions came fast and furious until finally it was Yoshi’s turn. He wiped his suddenly damp palms on his jeans before offering them to the redhead.
‘Yoshi,’ he said calmly although his pulse had suddenly quickened.
‘Aya.’ Up close he was even better looking than Yoshi remembered. His hair was a splash of crimson against his pale skin, short save for the two long silky strands before his ears. Those eyes that had previously captivated Yoshi were unmistakably amethyst set against near perfect features. Eyes that were now looking at him with interest causing him to feel a little self-conscious
On Aya’s part, although relieved that Omi had been right about Yoshi bearing only passing resemblance to his former lover, was still struck by how handsome X Japan’s drummer was.
‘So, how was the trip up?' Hide asked plopping himself next to Omi, beer in hand while rest of X Japan, save Yoshi, got something to eat.
As they chatted quietly, Yoshi tried to start a conversation with the redhead but was at a loss as what to say. Inwardly, he cursed. This opportunity had cost him two front row tickets and a bottle of expensive sake, for each of his bandmates….the bastards had insisted….so he wasn’t about to waste it. But it seemed like his mouth had turned to cotton.
‘Did you enjoy the show?’ he finally asked, choosing the safe option.
‘It was a good, I was quite amazed that I enjoyed myself.’ At Yoshi’s questioning glance, he elaborated. ‘I’m not that big a rock fan. I usually prefer something subtle.’
‘I can understand that, rock is anything but subtle and even I get sick of it at times.’ Secretly, he was pleasantly surprised at Aya’s frankness, usually people bent over backwards to agree with him. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and offered it to Aya.
‘Really?’ Aya said disbelievingly before declining his invitation.
‘Truthfully, I like anything that sounds nice to my ear,’ he blew out a stream of smoke and smiled, pushing his hair that was still damp from perspiration and the water that Toshi had liberally poured over him, back in an endearing gesture. Aya could hardly believe this was the same person who, only an hour earlier had thrashed his own instruments.
‘You work with computers!’ they heard Hide suddenly say. ‘You’ve got to take a look at my laptop then. I just bought the bloody thing and for some reason its gone completely balls up,’ he jiggled Omi’s arm in his excitement
‘I wouldn’t mind taking a look at it.’ Actually Omi was thrilled to be looking at it. ‘What’s the exact problem?’
Hide rolled his eyes. ‘The stupid thing keeps freezing and giving me error messages.’
‘The ‘blue screen of death’ we call it,’ Omi chuckled but then his face fell, ‘Oh but all my stuff is back in Tokyo.’
‘No problem, we’ll be back there tomorrow.’ Hide said dismissively. ‘Or better yet, you take it back with you tonight and you give it back to me at my party tomorrow night.’
'Party?’ Omi looked a little blank but then realisation dawned. ‘Oh, its your birthday tomorrow isn’t it Hide-san?’
Hide vigorously nodded his head. ‘Yeah and Yoshi has graciously agreed to throw me a party at his house.’ Heath, who had been quiet up to now, suddenly laughed.
‘Gracious? Maybe forced is a better word,’ the bassist teased.
‘Ignoring him….please say you’ll come,’ he gave the boy his trademark killer smile before looking up at his friend. ‘I’m sure Yoshi doesn’t mind.’
‘We wouldn’t like to intrude..’ Aya began but Yoshi interrupted.
‘You wouldn’t be…please,’ Yoshi unexpectedly placed his hand on Aya’s wrist making him jump a little. His first instinct was to pull away but his skin tingled beneath the musician’s warm palm.
‘I…. I don’t mind,’ he finally said, trying to sound as unaffected as possible by Yoshi’s touch. Omi simply smiled.
‘What time you want us to be there?’