Disclaimer: Wei▀ belongs to Koyasu Takehito and all those talented, important people in Japan. deena knows that so don't sue her since this is purely for entertainment purposes only.
Dedication goes out to Aya in Florida who inspired this work and without him, it couldn't have been written. Thank you for waiting so patiently. Humble thanks go to my dear friends Jien and Tin who proofread this work and were so patient with all my faults and changes and mistakes.. Thank you so much.
The windowpane seemed to be made from ice. He could feel the frigid frost beneath his fingertips. Slowly, with movements like unraveling silk, his long fingers scraped away a portion of the frost and he gazed outside. It was snowing bitterly. Cold twists of snow curled around the city, splashing into the buildings and onto the asphalt roads. Shrouding people as the wind shrieked. Everything was frozen. Frozen and blanketed with snow.
He didn't mind that it was bitingly cold. He preferred it that way. It made him feel complete. The snow complemented him, providing him with a veil to hide himself in. Just like the snow hid so much, so too did he hide beneath the winter. Was that silly? Perhaps. He didn't know anymore, didn't care anymore. Watching the snow fall was the only pleasure he would receive on this icy Sunday afternoon.
Aya hated Sundays. There was nothing worse than the drowsiness of a Sunday, especially a Sunday afternoon He disliked it. Disliked the fact that no matter what he did, he wasn't able to flee from the truth that it was and would remain Sunday. Sunday was like fate. There was no escaping it. A tiny death at the end of every week. He died a little every Sunday. Sundays killed him, just like fate inevitably would.
He could feel the languidness of Sunday flow around him, as the snow flowed outside. The silence of the afternoon was swallowed up by Sunday. He liked the silence that came in the late afternoon, as the world seemed to slow down. And he despised Sunday for taking it away. It didn't matter though, he supposed. Nothing mattered on Sundays. The world continued to dance with change and he was alone. Alone and dying on a cold Sunday.
The sudden shrill of an ambulance siren far off in the distance jarred him from his thoughts. He felt his cheeks flush as he tugged at his hair. Sanity was slipping away from him. It was that simple. Snowflakes were falling and he was thinking about how he died on Sundays. He had to be losing his mind. That scared him, insanity did. He was afraid. Afraid that he would loose all rational thought and become a mindless vessel of hatred and emptiness. Or was he already there? Was he incorrigible? That scared him even more than descending into madness. The fact that he was already crazy. Crazy meant without hope. But had not hope had died with them? Insanity had come when he had stood by helplessly and watched her body being crushed. And revenge...
It was a dream that he hoped to make a reality; revenge was. He knew that it had taken over the frail remnants of his soul. Gone was everything in that moment when he had seen the shine of those mirrored sunglasses. There was nothing left inside. Eternally empty and ugly. Already dead. He was a broken shell of nothingness.
"It should have been me."
His frost covered fingers pulled harder at his maroon colored locks. He knew it.
Ken bounded up the stairs, trying his best not to drop the overflowing laundry basket that filled his arms. He paused only once to tuck in a shirt that was in danger of falling out of the basket and then he continued up the stairs singing X-Japan's 'Weekend' loudly.
"Week End Week End Week End Week End
I'm at my wits end, Week End
I still love you, Week End
But I cannot carry on..."
"Yo Ken, keep it down!" Yohji hollered from his room, interrupting Ken's fine performance. "Some people are tryin' ta get some sleep around here! Bugger off, will ya?"
Ken grinned mischievously, stopping outside Yohji's room. He sang extra loudly, knowing that it would royally piss off the older boy. It didn't take a brilliant scientist to figure out why Yohji was still in bed so late in the afternoon. He must have had some hot lovin' last night, that was for sure. That thought made Ken smile as he began to sing higher and louder.
Yohji's angry expletives and threats of violence filled the air. He laughed and quickly scrambled down the hall to his room, still singing at the top of his lungs. He was in too good of a mood to be bothered by Yohji's sleepy grumblings and empty threats.
Ken carefully balanced the laundry basket on his hip as he attempted to open the door to his room. "I'm not gonna trip and fall down and drop my laundry," he told himself. "I'm a well balanced, graceful person. I'm an assassin. Assassins aren't supposed to be clumsy. A rule of thumb to be certain. I am not clumsy."
The door wouldn't open. It was stuck... again. "Aw crappy," he muttered, blowing his bangs from his eyes. "Why do these things always gotta happen to me?"
Omi, hearing voices, stuck his head out of his room, wondering what was going on. It was Ken giving himself his famous "I'm not clumsy" pep talk. He grinned. That little talk never worked and whenever Ken gave it to himself, it usually meant that some kind of disaster would occur shortly after.
Omi leaned against the doorjamb, watching Ken precariously try to balance the huge laundry basket while violently shoving at the door with his shoulder while muttering "why me" and curses under his breath. Omi was patient. He knew it was coming. He waited, trying his best not to erupt into giggles.
Ken took a step back from the entrance, the basket slipping a notch. He didn't notice. Instead he hurled himself into the door, thinking to teach the stubborn piece of lumber a lesson. This would be the last time the door would not open for him. He would give this stupid door such a what-for that next time it would think twice about getting stuck.
Ken was one who was pure-hearted and gentle. He was many wonderful things, but he was also na´ve and rash and hotheaded. He wasn't the best of planners. The door did open. Afterall, he had thrown his entire body weight against the entrance. But in his eagerness to get the door open, he had neglected to remember one thing. The laundry basket.
The door jarred open with such a force and ever so quickly that Ken had no time to even think. He promptly lost his balance as the door was thrown open. He fell flat onto his face, clean clothes splashing all around him, the laundry basket sailing into his apartment.
Omi, watching the spectacle of Ken bash the door open and then proceeding to fall on his face, was unable to help himself. He let out a hoot of laughter and sank to the floor, burying his face in his knees. It was too much for the little boy. He laughed hysterically.
Ken, however was not amused. Well, he was rather stunned actually. He still wasn't sure what he was doing lying flat-faced on the floor. All he knew was that the pep talk to himself hadn't worked. Again. But... was that laughing he was hearing?
He sat up and twisted around, pulling a pair of corduroy pants off of his lap. He glared at Omi who was sitting on the floor, laughing. "What's so funny, Omi?" he demanded in an intimidating tone.
Omi gazed at him with a wide-eyed expression. "I don't what you're talking about, Ken-kun." He blinked innocently.
Ken muttered curses as he scrambled about, picking up his laundry.
"You really should learn to be more careful, Ken-kun," Omi said, hugging his knees. "And why do you still bother giving yourself that little talk anyways? You know that it never works."
Ken gave him a look of Death and then slammed the door.
"Keep it down!!!" Yohji yelled from his room. "I'm trying to get some sleep, blast it!!!"
Omi shook his head as he stood up., still laughing. There was never a dull moment. He headed back to his computer.
"Whymewhymewhymewhyme?" Ken grumbled as he stuffed his favorite blue shirt into his overflowing drawers. "It isn't fair. Why am I destined to be the goof of the group? Why do I always hafta mess up?"
"Is life always raining down upon you with unexpected problems?" a cheerful voice on the radio announced.
"It sure is," he said, examining his favorite pair of Jeans. They were still covered with grass stains. Crap.
"Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?" the lady continued.
"Yeah, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired," he declared, tossing his Jeans back into his 'dirty-clothes' pile.
"Does it seem like everyone around you is having fun while you're bogged down with responsibilities?"
He snorted, as he hunted for his other blue and green striped sock. "Hell yeah."
"Well with 'No Maybes, no Babies' birth control pills, you won't have to worry about - "
The horror... the horror.
Ken hastily changed the radio station. The peppy beat of L'Arc en Ciel's 'Caress of Venus' filled the room.
"I even botched up with that stupid ad," he muttered darkly, peeking behind a chair to see if his other sock was there. He frowned, his hands on his hips as he surveyed the room. "Where the blue blazes did that other sock go?"
The search continued, since they were his favorite pair of socks. But all investigating processions came to a halt when, instead he found an orange sweater. "How'd Aya's sweater get in my laundry?" he wondered. "Maybe then Aya's got my other sock?"
He grabbed the sweater, stumbled over his pajama pants that were lying in the middle of the floor and hurried to Aya's room. Rapping sharply on his door, Ken prayed that Aya was in a good mood. Lately, he'd been even more quiet and angry and withdrawn, if that was possible. He had completely isolated himself, saying nothing no matter what the circumstance. Only his violet eyes betrayed the fact that he was hurting. They flashed like an angry mirror, crying out with all the anguish of a lost soul. That was Aya. A lost soul. His eyes fairly begged for salvation.
Aya didn't answer, which of course was hardly a surprise. He pushed open the door slowly, sticking his head inside. "Aya-kun? You in there?"
He opened the door further and stepped inside. The room was very dark. It was strange, the darkness was. It seemed viscous and thick, as if shadows had melted. Or... more appropriately, as if dreams had melted. Aya's dreams. His own dreams. Wei▀'s dreams. All melted to make this sticky murkiness. Dreams that had meant nothing.
His eyes adjusted to the gelatinous-like duskiness. He could make out Aya standing next to the window, watching the snow fall. It was odd, how little light the whiteness from outside provided the room. Light was dying. He shuddered.
"Um... Aya-kun?" His hesitant voice seemed unnaturally loud in the small, dark room.
Aya didn't move, giving no signs of having heard him. Ken wished he would turn around, wished he would say something. Anything. Even if it was just to tell him to get lost.
He walked towards him, trying his best not to walk into anything, babbling all the way. "The snow is really something, huh? I'm so glad that it snowed today. Omi and I built a snowman this morning. Looks more like a snow pile, though. We didn't have a carrot for his nose and I couldn't find any rocks. Not a single bleedin' rock. All the little kids must have gotten to them first, huh? Maybe you'd want to help us build one next time? It would be - "
Aya suddenly turned around, and Ken stopped under the flare of his eyes. They were so vibrant, so vehement against the dark. "Was there something you wanted, Ken?" he demanded coldly. His eyes narrowed, pinning him to the spot.
Ken cleared his throat, which had suddenly gone dry. He shuffled his feet and nervously wiped at his face. "I was just... um... you know.... ah... " His gaze fell upon the orange sweater in his hands. He had forgotten about that. "I came here to return your sweater," he blurted out, holding it up. "It was in my laundry and..."
He trailed off, seeing that Aya did not look impressed. His face remained glacial, his eyes cold. Ken quickly laid the sweater down upon his bed and hurried for the door. He turned once to look back. Aya had turned back towards the window, not bothering to acknowledge the fact that he was leaving. Ken left without saying another word.
Aya heard the door shut softly but firmly behind him. One tiny part of him wished to call Ken back, to apologize to him. He knew that he had hurt the younger boy. Ken was so soft hearted. He cared too much, always worrying about him. And he always ended up hurting him.
He wanted to talk to Ken, to let out what he was feeling but he didn't. Would it really have made a difference? He couldn't anyways. There was nothing that he could connect to. Only this soul searing loneliness remained and no one, even Ken, could help him now.
The darkness of his room was suddenly oppressive. He hadn't noticed it before. Despair seemed to hang on webs of smoky shadows. The sun was slowly setting, swallowed by the winding snow. Everything hurt. The need to be free was overwhelming.
He grabbed his coat and stalked out of his room.
"Where's Aya?" Manx demanded impatiently, tapping her shiny heels against the floor. "I don't have all day to wait, you know."
Yohji propped his feet upon the coffee table before him. "Who knows with that bloke? He's in another world, babe."
"I thought I heard him go out," Omi said thoughtfully. He looked up at Ken from his position on the floor. "Weren't you in his room a little while ago, Ken-kun?"
Ken absently wiped at his face. "Yeah I was. He was in one of those moods again. I didn't want to bother him."
"Man, he's always in those moods," Yohji muttered.
"Well, I don't have time to wait for him," Manx announced, taking out the video tape from her purse. "Persia-sama is expecting me back soon. We'll have to start without him."
Ken stood up. "I'll go find him."
Manx sighed loudly. "Ken - " she began warningly.
"He deserves to know."
She raised an eyebrow at his tone. This wasn't the Ken that she knew. His voice was quiet but firm. Not loud and passionate. "Alright," she muttered. "I'll call Persia-sama and tell him that I'll be late." She leveled her blue gaze at him. "But I'll only wait ten minutes Ken."
"Twenty minutes," he responded.
"Seventeen point five minutes and not a second more," Yohji proclaimed.
They ignored him. "Fifteen minutes," Manx argued.
"Done," he replied quickly. Fifteen minutes was all he had wanted anyways.
She glared at him but said nothing. She simply took out her cell phone and headed to the corner to phone Persia.
Yohji yawned, stretching. "Never seen this bartering side of ya, Ken."
He shrugged. "Aya has a right to know. These missions involve him as much as they involve us. But I gotta scarper now. I'll be back in a bit."
"Don't fall," Omi advised snickering behind his hand.
Ken smacked him on his head as he exited.
"That's your own fault," was Yohji's addition.
The wind bit at his cheeks, jerked at his hair. It splashed around him, shrieking like the dead. A winter's Sunday. Colder than revenge. He was frozen with his burden of hatred. Living like an ice sculpture. Carved from despondent ice shards. Hanging from frigid misery.
But still, life continued. The world was enveloped in action and he was nothing. Life would continue if he just left. There were so many choices and none of it would matter in the end. Nothing mattered. He was nothing. Worthless. It was his fault.
How was he to bear it any longer? Hiding beneath a fašade of glacial silence. Anger waiting to erupt forth in viscous bubbles. He was only human. Life was ripping his soul apart. He was never meant for this world. Would anyone shed tears for him? A child of sorrow. Always empty. Underneath the silence and the anger and the revenge he was nothing. Always melting. His dreams, his life. He could feel himself melting on a cold Sunday afternoon.
The dying sunlight shone weakly upon his footprints. He loathed to be the first one to taint the fresh blanket of snow that covered the playground. But he knew that soon the snow fall would cover his footprints, obliterating all evidence of his existence. No one would know that he had been there. Such was the fate of one who was empty.
"Empty and alone, without footprints," he thought bitterly as he sat down on a swing, his numb hand clasping around the metal chains. His fingers trembled as he raised his can of acerola juice to his lips and took a sip.
The cold, viscous liquid poured into his mouth, sliding down his throat. He could taste the fibers washing over his teeth. He loved the feel of the juice, as it gave him a brief moment of pleasure It tastes of delight, filling him with memories. There had been a time when little things like a can of acerola juice had filled him with an enormous amount happiness. Things had been so different then.
If only happiness lasted. He wanted to so much to be happy in that moment. Return to those days when he had sat innocently swinging in the playground drinking acerola juice. The only difference was that she had been there too.
The moment did last; seeming to span forth from delicate strands of blown glass. The slightest jar would shatter everything. In his mind's eye he could see his red juice filling his mouth. That same red color. It was everywhere, clouding his vision. It made the dropping snow a crimson color. In the distance, the bare trees appeared like grotesque skeletons, looming towards the heavens. The sky was white, blindingly so. Everywhere was falling snow. It covered him as the wind tore at his face, ripped at his coat. The chains of the swing were cold beneath his fingers. He wished he had a pair of mittens. Acerola juice swished in his mouth, its taste lost. He should have been happier.
"I knew I'd find you here."
A shadow fell over him. The moment was broken as he looked up. Strange that he hadn't even noticed him approaching.
Ken sat down on the swing next to him, gazing out at the empty playground. Night was descending. Ken appeared to be made from the nighttime shadows.
"Manx is waiting for you," he said quietly, cracking the silence.
Aya looked over at him. "And you came for me?"
He nodded, pulling the sleeves of his jacket over his hands. "We're all in this together Aya-kun."
Aya took another drink of his juice to keep from bitterly jeering. "That's where you're wrong, Ken. We aren't in this together at all."
"Why do you have to be so damn stubborn all the time?" Ken demanded frustrated. "I'm just trying to fucking help."
He quickly finished the rest of his juice and stood up. "I'm no more stubborn than you are," he replied coldly. "And I don't need a shadow. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself." He tossed his empty can into a nearby garbage can and stalked off into the darkening night.
Ken twisted the sleeves of his jacket around his cold hands but said nothing.
He could still hear it. Despite the fact that eight hours had passed. Her shrill screams still rang in his ears. Screams of the dead now. She looked otherworldly somehow, as she had pleaded for her life. Those luminous green eyes... haunting him like her cries. He could see her blood on his sleeve. Bright and thick in the pale florescent light of the store. A jarring reminder of what he'd taken from her. She would leave him no peace. They never did. But it wasn't his fault.
The stain grew bigger, spreading over the fabric of his shirt, leaking from his sleeve onto the floor. Upon his shoes and striking the bougainvillea leaves littered on the ground. Tainting the cream colored lithium tiles. Red. Cold red. Everywhere.
Ken's voice shook him and suddenly he was beside him. "You spilt water all over the place!"
Aya blinked. A puddle gathering at his feet. No red. Save for the dark strand resting upon his cheek. He tugged at it.
"Omi how many times do I gotta tell you to put the leaves in the can?" Ken demanded as he mopped up the water. "It's such a hassle 'cause I'm the one who always has to clean it up."
"You never clean up anything!" Omi retorted from behind a table filled with spider plants. "I'm the one who cleans up everything! And besides, Yohji was the one who made that mess. Don't blame me for everything just 'cause I'm the youngest!!!"
Aya moved to water the clematises in the corner, away from their bickering. He could still see her. Strawberry blond hair falling around her bare shoulders. Pale pink satin sheet covering her breasts. Red lips pleading. And he hadn't listened. Hadn't cared. Her body was small. Dainty even. It didn't matter now. It hadn't been hard to fit her into the gutter. He could still see her. And it didn't matter. Her screams continued. Eyes so green...
He lurched back from the purple clematis. They were twisting into cords of desolate green... and now red. The fragile petals were red. Dripping slowly. Melting like a dream. Dying softly. Everything he touched. So red. Like saddened ribbons in the night.
"Aya? Are you okay?"
There was nothing left to say. It was silent now. No more screaming. No more words. And the flowers were melting.
She had been screaming. Red painted mouth screaming. Quiet at that moment. She didn't blink. Green eyes that would forever stare straight ahead. Empty orbs never again to seek. Her burning memory, like fading ashes. Even if it was just to keep his dreams from melting...he would remember.
Sharp slap of boots on the shiny floor. Bells above the door jingling. A gust of wind. Bitterly cold.
"He never says anything. He just leaves without saying a word. Not one fucking word."
Ken absently wiped at his cheeks as he made his way through the crowds. It was snowing again, if it ever would stop. Snowing on the crowds of people that made their way through the icy streets. Snowing on the tall building and on the noisy cars. Snowing on houses and streets and parks. And on assassins too. Even the ones who were already frozen.
"Why am I even bothering?" he wondered as he stood behind a crowd, waiting for the light to change green. The red light stared boldly at him. Vibrant against the backdrop of glass buildings and falling snow. He looked down at his hands. Covered in brown mittens littered with snow. They were too big for him. Just another thing that didn't quite fit. "Aya won't talk to me."
So many reasons. Everything was logical. It was the same story. Nothing new. So why did he still try? Did he honestly think that something would change? He wouldn't make a difference. Not today, not ever. Like trying to open that locked door without the key. A door frozen shut. Lost souls in the cold. They never could be reached. So foolish for trying.
"Then why am I going to find him?"
The light changed green.
The image of the tall, overly thin boy in the windowpane wasn't a distortion. The blood cracked violet eyes and wan cheeks, framed by locks of vibrant red stared back harshly at him. Silently, he watched as long, bony fingers reached up to pull at those red eartails. To wipe at pale, sunken cheeks. Foreboding purple eyes gazed back at him. It was so cold.
The flower splashed carpet smothered his steps as he moved away from the windowpane. All he could see was the snow. Eternally falling it seemed. Snow and himself. Only a grotesque semblance. He wasn't really like that, was he? Or maybe he was. Ugly and cold. Like a sullen statue, made of stone, emotionless. That was how the world saw him. Ugly and cold. Aya the assassin. Killing without remorse. Ugly and cold. Without remorse. Ugly and cold. Without remorse.
It coiled in his mind tightly and relentlessly. Praises that danced so furiously, driving him towards the cliffs of insanity. Jagged and torn, quiet and stoic. Those words wouldn't leave him. Jumbled and scattered, they chewed on his brain, sucked at his intellect. Feasting on brittle remnants of rationality. Slimy parasites cooing in his ear, buzzing incessantly. Rotting within him, feeding upon him. The hum grew in volume, tattering his reason. Lying in shreds. Icy fingers scratching at his skin, bloody tracks dripping. Red again. Bloody red and black filth and his mute tongue lying in heaps of mushy pink brains. Masses of cancerous, black entrails and hard bits of purple eyes. A meaty heart still pumping, gushing blood. Red and flesh and red and flesh. Warm and slithering. Winding around his legs, roping his hands. Spewing protoplasm onto his cold skin. So taut, so pulpy. The spurting mire of lunacy.
Ugly and cold.
Ugly and cold.
Blessed tears. No longer cold and ugly. Sliding down his cheeks. No longer without remorse. Aya's tears.
It was Ken who found Aya. He always did. He knew it to be Aya's habit to return to the scene of the murder, if it bothered him. And killing the yellow haired American lady had. He kept so much inside. Soaking and absorbing the pain until it burned. He would eventually rupture. Ken knew it but still nothing could have braced him for the sight he beheld in the lady's elegant, perfumed room. Aya had broken. Cold, silent, cynical Aya had broken. Broken Aya. Broken dreams. Broken existence. Broken Wei▀. Broken broken broken broken.
He was on his knees, weeping into his shaking hands. Hands that bled red onto the floral carpet. Scratch wounds. Looking so small, so frail as his thin body was wracked with sobs. He wept as if his soul was shattering, reality snapping. Sounds like cries of the dead. Moonlight splattered upon his shaking body. Every detail was etched. The image was poignant, shattering. Ken would remember it. Laughing like a rippling flame. Perpetually.
The window was opened just a little, kissing the lacy pink curtains. Snowflakes fluttered onto the floor, fleeing from the night. And as the wind screamed, pregnant with lost souls, he took Aya into his arms. Just to stop the heart jarring weeping. Just to keep the dementia from steeping. Just to.
His heart raced against Ken's blue shirt, tears falling down his neck. It seemed natural somehow to stroke that red hair, so luminous against his hand. Aya's thin arm wound around his neck, seeking. This time needing.
"I promised myself I wouldn't cry. Not ever."
"I never did. Not once."
He gently pushed his head against his neck, touching, needing also. He was weeping too. "I know."
Hot tears. Like liquid glass. Winded so close, they seemed as one. Far from insanity. A net of salvation. Fingers stroking over ashen, bloody hands. Assassin's touch. Opening like a blooming bell. Silent room serene with ragged breathing. And then... placid conversation.
Outside the snow fell. And dreams melted.