Sailor Mac


The following story is a sequel to my Erlosung. It contains explicit scenes of romance and lovemaking between two young men; if you're under 18, or offended by yaoi, or such material is illegal in your area, read no further. As with my first story, I'm making a slight departure from canon: the members of Weiss live in their own apartments instead of all together over the flower shop.

There's always so many of them...

I'm at work in the flower shop, taking an order from a teenage girl. She giggles and bats her eyes at me, as they always do. A cluster of her friends are behind her, whispering to each other.

They don't bug me, not really. They're just part of everyday life here. I know Aya sometimes looks like he wishes they'd just go away, and Yohji just kinds of ignores them. "Too young for me," he says. "Why don't we get some customers who are over 18?" Of course, when a grown woman does come into the shop, he pushes the rest of us aside to get to her.

"And what do you want to say on the card?" I ask the customer.

She giggles again. "Why don't you pick out something, Ken-chan?"

Ken-chan? Not even Omi calls me that. Although, as of late, he's taken to calling me Ken-Ken when we're alone. I think he overheard Yohji calling me that once. It sounds so much sweeter coming from Omi's lips...

"Um, well, I'm not very good at that kind of thing," I say.

"Really? You've never sent a love letter to a girl?"

"Can't say that I have."

The door of the flower shop bangs open, and a smallish figure scurries in, bookbag over his shoulder, laptop case in his hand. I surpress the urge to let a broad smile cross my face. The love of my life has entered the building.

"Hi, Yohji-kun...Aya-kun!" He rushes over to me and puts his laptop on the ground, and we high-five each other, the way we have ever since I first came here. It's the only physical contact we can have in front of our "public."

"Hey, Omi," I say to him. "How was your day?"

"Pretty good. I got the A on the history test."

"See, I told you that you'd ace it."

"Hi, Omi," one of the girls behind us says in an obviously flirtatious voice. The others around her giggle.

"Hi," he tells them. "Be out in a second, 'K?" He grabs his laptop again and heads for the back office to get changed. The girls watch his retreat like huntresses keeping their eyes on a prize deer.

"He's just soo cute," says the girl who was speaking to him.

"As if you had a chance with him," one of her friends retorts.

"Hey, he's not going out with anyone right now!"

Oh, if they only knew...We've been a couple for about three months now, and I've never, ever been happier in my life. I can't imagine what my life was like without him. Everything we do together...whether it's playing tennis, going on a rollercoaster, eating okonomiyaki, making love...it's like the first time I've ever done it, like I never experienced life at all until I experienced it with him at my side.

I thought I had been in love before...with Kase, with Yukina. But I know now how very, very wrong I was. That didn't feel like this. That was a mere droplet of water...this is a tsunami.

We can't touch each other in public, that's true. But we more than make up for it in private. Sometimes, I'm startled by the intensity of the passion between us...it feels like we're absolutely melting into each other, becoming one being. It makes having to pretend to be "just friends" during the daytime worthwhile.

Oh, how I hate having to pretend to be "just friends."

Right after Ken-kun and I fell in love, Yohji-kun pulled us aside. "You can't be affectionate with each other in public, you know. It's bad for business."

"What do you mean, bad for business?" I said.

"I mean, we sell a hell of a lot of flowers to little girls who want to score with you. If they find out you're taken...especially if you're taken by each other...they're going to stop coming."

Okay, I can see that. But every time I see him, I want to pull him into my arms. I want to kiss him. I want to hear him call me "Angel." And I can't. I have to wait until after the store closes, until we can be alone...

Oh, every now and then we steal a few moments in the greenhouse. But we've been so busy lately...it's been impossible.

It doesn't seem to bother Ken-kun that much. He's used to something like this...he had to keep his relationship with Kase secret when he was in J-League, too.

I wish I'd known him then...

The other night, I was just surfing around the Web, and I came across a soccer site that hadn't been updated in a long time. And there was a couple of pictures of Ken-kun on there. One of them was just so cute. He was sitting in his goalie box, holding a can of Gatorade to his face and winking at the camera. I ended up downloading it and saving it on one of my Zip discs. He doesn't know I have it.

I found a picture of Kase, too, and I don't know what Ken-kun saw in him. He looked so...rough. So mean. Not the kind of person I usually could see Ken-kun wanting to spend time with.

I've changed from my school uniform into blue jeans and a T-shirt, and I put on my apron and a baseball cap. Time to face the girls. It makes me so uncomfortable when they flirt with me like that...I get tongue-tied and I just don't know what to say to them. I'm definitely not a smoothie like Yohji-kun. He always seems to know just what to say at the right time. With me...sometimes, the words just don't come.

I pass Aya-kun on my way out of the office. "There's someone out here looking for you," he says.


"Midori again."

Oh, Gods. Midori was a friend of Ouka's. She really, really likes me, and I haven't got the heart to tell her it's impossible. Again, I wish with all my might that Ken and I could be honest about our relationship.

I think Aya-kun sees the look on my face, because he says, "Want me to tell her you're busy?"

"No...no, I'll come out there."

Midori and a bunch of her friends are hovering around Ken. One of them, Yuukina, just bought something from him, she's handing him some money and really giving him the eye.

"Hi, Omi," Midori says. She's got a bag of some kind of snacks in her hand. "Want some trail mix?"

"No, thanks. I usually don't snack on the job."

"Are you going to the basketball game tomorrow night?"

"Um, I don't think so. I've got a lot of heavy schoolwork, and..." Actually, Ken-kun and I have plans to go to dinner at an Italian restaurant tomorrow. We don't get many opportunities to go on "dates."

"Oh, let your schoolwork go for one night!" she says. "You won't lose your status as an honor student from going to one game. Come on, live a little!"

"Everyone is going to be there, Omi!" another one of her friends says. "You don't want to miss out, do you?"

I just hem and haw, looking from one girl to the other, knowing I'm turning bright red. Fortunately, Yohji-kun saves my life. "Oi, Omi...wanna come here and help this lady out? I'm swamped!"

"Excuse me," I say, rushing over to where the customer is. It's an older lady, looking for something to send to a friend in the hospital. As I'm taking her order, I glimpse Midori and her friends out of the corner of my eye again. They're still whispering and giggling, looking at me, then whispering again. Midori is munching from her bag of snacks, looking right at me and giving me a big smile. I just blush and turn back to the customer.

Once she's gone, I end up waiting on another person, and another, and another. Midori's still there, waiting for me...but I can see she's getting impatient. She's eating faster from her bag, tapping her foot, looking at her watch...

I suppose she's what a lot of people would consider pretty. She's got long, wavy, pale blue hair, and wide, darker blue eyes. Her mouth always looks like she's wearing lipstick even when she's not. I know a lot of guys at school are interested in her. Not me. I haven't looked at anyone else, male or female, ever since that first night with Ken-kun.

Then, I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I hear Yohji-kun say, "You know...you could take advantage of the situation. What Ken doesn't know won't hurt him, right?"

I spin my head toward him. "WHAT?" He's got one of those lazy smiles on his face, the kind of expression where I never quite know if he's serious.

"Of course...you could always just ask her to join in. The more the merrier, right?"

I feel my cheeks absolutely burning with embarrassment. "You...you're kidding, right?"

"Now, Omi, don't tell me that you haven't..."

Just then, I hear the girls across the room scream. I turn...and see Midori lying on the floor, unconscious. "MIDORI-SAN!" I shout, rushing over to her. I kneel next to her, put my ear by her mouth...she's still breathing, but barely. "Call an ambulance!" I shout to someone, anyone.

"She...she was just standing here...eating her stuff, and watching you, and then she...she just fainted," her friend Yuukina sobs.

I loosen her collar and gently tilt her head back to give her more air. I can hear Ken-kun telling an operator the address of our shop. There's a crowd gathering around us, whispering, pointing at her... "Stand back!" I tell them. "Give her air!" I grasp her wrist, her pulse feels weak, so weak...for an instant, I have a horrifying flashback of Ouka in my arms, her young life draining out of her, feeling her last few heartbeats...

I hear Ken-kun's voice behind me. "How is she?"

All I can do is shake my head.

Why is it taking the ambulance so long to get here? Don't they realize a life is at stake?

Oh, Gods, the look on his face...I wish I could hold him right now. He's seen so much in his young life...seen so many of his classmates dead or dying...and here he is, seeing it again.

The ambulance arrives at long last, and they take the girl away. Her friend...the one who was flirting with me...leaves in the ambulance with her. "I'll call the shop as soon as I know something," she tells us.

Most of the crowd that was in the shop files out as soon as they drive away. The mood of the whole day has changed. Nobody wants to flirt with the flower boys when one of their friends is in danger.

"Poor kid," Yohji says, walking over to the window. "Hope she'll be okay."

Aya says nothing, just starts straightening a display that got messed up by the girls.

Omi's over by the cash register, going through the order slips we filled out before. His eyes look dead, his hands are shaking a bit.

My poor Angel...

I look around. Coast is clear, no prying teenage female eyes...

I make a "pssst!" sound to get his attention. When he looks up at me, I start walking toward the greenhouse. He gets up and follows.

Once the door is closed behind us, I put my hands on his shoulders. "You look," I say softly, "like you could use one of these." And I lean over, touching my lips to his. It's a gentle, soft, warm kiss...I let my arms slide around his body, pulling him closer, and feel his arms tighten around me. We break apart for air, and I gently kiss his cheek, his temple, his forehead.

Then, he brings his lips to mine again, and the pressure is firmer, more insistant...a kiss of desperation, of need, a desire to be held and loved and comforted. I pull him closer and kiss him hard, flicking my tongue just a bit...his mouth opens, inviting me in, and soon our tongues are caressing each other, our hands sliding up and down each other's backs, our bodies pressing together, rubbing ever-so-slightly, just enough to create friction...I reach up with one hand and tangle it in his hair, that soft, soft golden hair, pulling his head closer still, my tongue probing and caressing...

And then, the knock comes at the door. At first, we keep kissing, willing the person outside to just go away...but the knock comes again, harder and louder.

"Manx is here," Aya's voice says from what seems like a million, trillion miles away.

Oh, Gods. A mission...

Harsh reality has intruded. Slowly, we ease apart from each other, both panting, both flushed. We clasp hands, reluctant to let the moment go...

But we have to. Duty calls. Gods damn it.

"We'd better go downstairs," I say. "They're going to wonder where we are."

He nods, a reluctant look in his eyes. This isn't the first time we've been interrupted for something like this. And it's times like this, more than any other, that I wish we were "normal."

Still holding hands, we leave the greenhouse and head for the basement stairs.

Once we're down in "Weiss HQ," we seat ourselves on the couch. The transmission is just starting, and the familiar, shadowy image of Persia appears on the screen.

"Good afternoon, Weiss. We have another mission. Poison is being placed in vats of trail mix produced by the To Your Health Corporation." His image disappears, and the screen is filled with a picture of a bag of trail mix. I feel Omi's hand grip mine, and I quickly realize why. It's the same trail mix that Midori had been eating.

"The poisoning incidents have been seeminly random, occuring at various points around the city." A map appeared, with X's indicating where the bags were found. "All of the bags are thought to have originated in the same processing plant. In all cases, the victims suffered paralysis, then death. The perpetrators are yet unknown..."

We wait for a "but here's what we know so far." None comes. Instead, we hear the usual sign-off line: "White hunters, hunt the tomorrow of the dark beasts!"

The picture disappears. Manx stands up, folders in hand. "Well? Are we all in?"

"In what?" says Yohji. "He told us absolutely nothing!"

"We don't have anything to go on but the name of the company," Aya says. "That's not a mission."

I look over at Omi. His hand is still gripping mine...and his eyes are starting to take on the steely, determined look I know so well. I call it The Mission Look.

He's going to accept it. He's going to take this mission, with nothing to go on...because it was someone he knew who was the victim.

"I can't forgive them," he says, softly. "What they did to Midori...they have to be punished."

"We have no idea who they are," I tell him as gently as possible.

"I'll find out." He looks around at the rest of us. "We know what company it is, right? It would be a piece of cake for me to hack into their system and..."

"Omi, don't be ridiculous," Aya says. "Even if you do find out something about the company...we have nothing else to go on."

Omi drops my hand and leaps to his feet. His eyes are practically burning now. "I have to try!" he says. "We can't just let these people do this over and over and over!"

There is a pause...and then, Yohji says, "Well, if anybody can do it, Omi can. He's done the impossible before. If he can find anything out...I'm in."

"Aya?" Manx says.

He just kind of looks at Omi for a second with his usual glare...then simply says, "Yes."

"Omi," I say to him, "are you sure? You don't have to do this, you know."

His eyes meet mine, and they say volumes without words. Don't worry about me, Ken-Ken...I'll be all right, I always am.

"Yes, I do," he replies.

I look at Manx. "I'm in, then."

She begins to hand out the folders. "There's not much in here, I'm afraid. Just a bit of data on the company...the map of where the poisonings took place..." She takes out another folder. "And here, I have one of the bags that had poison in them, as well as a 'normal' bag."

"I'll take those," Omi says. "I'll scan them, see if I can find out any difference between them." He grabs the two folders and immediately goes off to his supercomputer.

I know better than to interrupt him when he's in Mission Mode. From now until the mission is completed - or, in this case, if it's completed - I'm going to be watching his eyes. When they soften, I'll know he's open to being touched, to conversation, to normal life. But when they're hard...I give him his space.

"You really think he can do it?" Aya says.

Can he? It's one hell of a daunting task, that's for sure. But...I know my Angel. I know what he's capable of. And he's capable of a lot.

I turn to the other two. "I have faith in him."

"You would," Aya replies.

"Hey!" I say. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Ah, let the kid have a shot at it," Yohji says, stretching and yawning. "If he can do it, great. If he can't, none of us are worse off than we are now." He gets up. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm finishing the closing and going home. There's nothing we can do about it tonight."

Aya nods, and they start to head upstairs.

I walk toward where Omi is typing away at his computer, eyes glued to the screen. I briefly consider saying something...

No. He's got the Mission Look. I'll just leave him be. Perhaps he'll work at this for awhile and realize it's impossible, that he won't be able to find the killers...why did Persia even bother to contact us, anyway? It seems so futile...

But maybe, just maybe, he'll find something...and we'll be able to eliminate the perpetrators before they hurt anyone else.

I head up the stairs. The store is almost fully closed down...but there's some debris on the floor. Stems, leaves, the like. I get a broom and start to sweep.

Yohji and Aya have already taken off their aprons. "I'll do the final lockup," I say. "You guys go ahead."

"You're not going to stay here with him all night, are you?" Yohji says.

"I might."

He shakes his head. "The things love makes people do..."

We say their goodnights. Once they're gone, I go back to sweeping. The phone rings. I pick it up. "Kitty in the House Flower Shop, sorry, we're closed right now."

"Ken?" It's a female voice, weak and hoarse...

"Is this Yuukina?"

"Yes...I'm at the hospital...oh, Gods...Midori is...is..." She bursts into tears.

Oh, no...My heart sinks when I think about having to tell Omi.

But she adds, "She's alive...but she barely made it...barely...they said she'd been poisoned, and a bunch of other people have been poisoned like that as well...Oh, Ken, who would do something like that?"

Who, indeed. "Somebody will catch up with them," I tell her. "I'm sure of that." And I mean it, now.

"It's so awful, Ken...so many terrible things happening in our school...first, Ouka dying, and now this..."

"Don't worry," I tell her. "I don't think it'll go on much longer."

"I hope not...I don't know how much more I can take. I have to go now...will you tell Omi about Midori?"

"Sure, I will."

"Goodnight, then." There is a click on the other end of the line.

I go back downstairs. He's managed to hack into the company records. I have no doubt he'd be able to hack the United States Pentagon.

"Midori made it," I say.

He turns around, and I see his eyes soften a bit. "Yuukina called?"

"Just now. I was the only one around when she did, the other two have gone home."

"You can go home too, Ken-Ken. You don't have to hang around all night just because I am."

I walk over to him and lay my hand on his shoulder. "We got a huge pile of arrangement orders today. I'm staying to work on those."

"Yes, but once you're done with them..."

"I know, Angel. I'll be upstairs if you need anything."

I go back up. There's my broom...oh, heck, I hadn't finished sweeping when Yuukina called. I pick it up and go back to work...

And then, I notice a certain piece of plastic among the debris on the floor. Midori's trail mix bag. Someone must have kicked it into the corner during the chaos.

I bring it downstairs. "Look what I found on the floor."

He turns, sees it...and his whole expression changes. His eyes soften, light up...a smile spreads over his face. The assassin has left, the young boy has returned.

"KEN-KEN! This is terrific! Now I can compare it to the other one... it's our first real clue!" He throws his arms around me, and I hug him back, hard, then drop a kiss on top of his head.

"No leads from the company records?"

"All I found out is that the company itself doesn't own any of the plants they use. They contract out the work. All of the plants are independently owned and operated. My guess is the company officers have nothing to do with this." He sighs. "Now I have to investigate the six plants."

"I'll let you get back to it, then." I kiss him again, and head upstairs.

Back to work. Gods, why did I take this on? I'm pushing a boulder up the hill with this one. Even if I find a definite clue, there's no guarantee it's going to lead us to the killers.

No, I know why I'm doing this. Because of Midori...because of Ouka.

My head fills with a picture from what seems like years ago. Midori and Ouka, watching me from across the room, whispering to each other. Me trying to hide behind some potted plants. Yohji-kun pulling the plants away, leaving me open to their gaze...

They were together a lot. Ouka may have told me that she had nobody she could really depend on...but I know that Midori was the closest thing to a best friend she had. Other than me, that is.

Ouka would want me to find the people who did this to Midori, and make sure they were punished. I'm sure of that.

Six plants to go through. Gods...

And then, I look at the plastic bag Ken-kun left with me. The one Midori had been eating out of.

This may very well be my best shot at finding anything out. I take the other bag out of the folder, and fire up my scanner. First thing is to compare them to the "control" bag. I'll scan them big, 500%...

But it turns out to be an excercise in frustration. I check them...cross-check them...and I can find no difference, no difference at all, between the poisoned and normal bags. Same exact design. Same exact UPC codes. Same exact lettering, colors, crinkles in the cellophane...

I'm about to declare the whole thing a wasted effort and quit out of the program when I spot them. Right there, right by the center seam at the back of the package...they're on the poisoned ones, but not the normal...

Red dots. Tiny red circles.

I wonder, if I blow them up, if I'll find any kind of symbol or writing there...

I increase the size. More...and more...and more...

There is something there! Some kind of creature...a mythical beast of some sort, with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Looks like the kind of thing you'd see in ancient European art...

My heart speeds up. I have something! Now, if only I could find out what it is...

I save the image onto a Zip disc. I have to look this up on the Internet. There's got to be some sort of online directory of mythical beasts...right? I'll just fire up Netscape and...and...

My eyes are drooping. I feel my head fall forward...I jerk myself awake. What time is it...good Gods, it's midnight? I have no idea I'd been working that long!

No...sleeping is Not An Option. I have to find out what that is...I have to...

I stick the last of the decorations on the last of the arrangements and put it in the refrigerated case with the others. Finally, we're caught up. I probably would have stayed after to work on these even if Omi hadn't taken on the mission. I'm usually the one who does the elaborate arrangements. Aya claims he's just not artistic; Yohji loses patience with it. And Omi...well, his specialty has always been getting the plants to grow in the first place.

But since he was bound and determined to stay...I stayed with him. I don't want him here alone at night. Not with two other groups of assassins after us.

There's been no sound from downstairs. I wonder how he's doing? I start down the steps...

He's asleep, leaning on his keyboard. He looks adorable. But I can't leave him like that.

I go outside, to where my motorcycle is parked. I have a sidecar for it stashed out behind the flower shop, and I hook it up. He's in no shape to drive his own bike. Thank the gods he doesn't have to go to school tomorrow...

Back down to the basement. I reach out and shake his shoulder, gently. "Angel..."

He wakes up, with a start. "Ken-kun! I have to get back to work..."

I pull him into my arms. "Call it a night, sweetheart. You've done enough for one day."

"But...I found something...look!" He opens a Zip disc, clicks on an icon. The screen fills with a picture of some sort of fantastic creature. "This was on the packages that were poisoned...I have to find out what it is!" But he's swaying, his eyelids drooping.

"You can find that out in the morning. Come on, we'll go back to my place."

He shuts down the machine. But he takes the Zip disc, and collects his laptop from upstairs.

As soon as I get him in the sidecar, he drifts off to sleep. I drive slowly, carefully, so as not to jolt him awake. He needs the rest.

When I park, he gets out slowly, and leans heavily on me. "Let me get that," I say, taking his laptop. I steer him into the building, and toward the elevator.

At my apartment, I lead him to the bedroom. He immediately flops onto the bed. I start to pull off his shirt, and he opens his eyes, looking at me quizically.

"Don't get any ideas, Angel," I say. "I'm just undressing you so you can sleep comfortably." I toss his shirt on the floor, then take off his sneakers, socks, jeans. I roll him over a bit so I can peel the covers back, then gently push him up toward the pillow. He leans his head on it, sighing contentely. I cover him up and kiss his cheek.

"Goodnight, sweetheart," I whisper. "I love you." He doesn't respond...he's out like a light.

I wake up to bright sunshine streaming through the window and a warm body snuggled next to me. What happened last night? I remember finding the picture on the packages...and then, dimly, Ken telling me I should call it a night, and walking somewhere...

I'm in Ken's place, and he's next to me. He must have brought me home, then. I lean over and kiss his temple...he's sleeping soundly. I won't wake him.

I go into the bathroom and do my business, then head back toward the bed, picking up my laptop case on the way. Research...I have to do research...

But, somehow, the urgency of last night isn't with me this morning. Maybe it's because I got a good night's rest and I'm still feeling a bit lazy, dreamy. I think I'll check out what's going on in the chat rooms before I fire up the Web browser.

I've been studying English in school since eighth grade - English is the most common language on the Internet, after all, it's vital that I know it. I first started going into chat halls as an opportunity to practice it. But I've made a lot of American and Canadian friends online, and now I chat purely for pleasure.

There's one group in particular I talk to almost daily. They're North Americans who are really into all things Japanese. We trade MP3s all the time...I send them J-pop, they send me English-language stuff. Most of them are girls, and they seem to think I'm a girl as well, especially since I've mentioned a couple of times that I have a boyfriend. I don't correct them.

Most of them are online when I sign on. Immediately, I'm pulled into their already-in-progress chat, and assaulted with virtual ((HUGS)).

"OMI-CHAN!" writes Kathy, a girl in Connecticut who has the online handle Clefairy23. "How are you doing?"

"Okay," I write back. "I think I owe you an MP3. You sent me the Creed one last time."

"Hai!" she replies. (How strange to see Americans speaking Japanese...while I'm Japanese and speaking English). "You said you were going to give me that Penicillin song."

"If it's the one I'm thinking of," writes Gina, a girl in Florida, "it's REAL good, Kathy. You'll like it."

"I have a SLEW of MP3s for you, Omi-chan!" writes Fiona, who's from New Jersey...or was that New York? "I finally ripped the new Foo Fighters CD!"

"Just let me take care of Kathy first," I reply. I quickly hook up my Zip drive and pop in the disc I know the Penicillin song is on...and I realize it's the same disc that has the picture from the trail mix package.

An idea forms in my mind. These girls are all intelligent, educated...raised in Western culture, where mythical beasts of that particular type are commonly seen...

"Hey," I write, "can I ask everyone something? I'm doing a paper about ancient art, and I came across a symbol of some type that I don't know what it is. Think one of you might?"

"What type of symbol?" says Kathy.

"A strange beast...I'll show you."

I send each of them the picture, one by one. There's a pause...

Then, Fiona types back, "Sure, I know what it is. It's a gryphon. You may also see the word spelled as griffin. Half lion, half eagle. Shows up in ancient Greek art quite a bit. Nobody's quite sure what the mythology behind it was, though."

My heart speeds up. A name! I have a name for it now! All I need to do is run another check on the records of the plants...see if "gryphon" or "griffin" shows up anywhere, in any form...and we'll have our location!

"Thank you so much, Fiona!" I type. "You're a lifesaver!" (Literally. She'll never know how many lives she may have just saved.)

"You got the expression right, Omi-chan!" Kathy writes. "Last time, I think you said 'You're a save-life'!"

"Hey, I'm learning ^_^," I write. "Whoops, almost forgot to send you your MP3. Okay, here it comes..."

I wake up. I roll over. I reach for him.

I collide with plastic and metal.

Seems we're not alone in the bed anymore. There's an entire chat room in here with us.

Omi's got his laptop balanced against the pillow, and he's typing away. The faint "plunk, plunk" sound is a sign he's on Instant Messenger. I know it well by now.

He looks happy. Very happy. His eyes are absolutely alight. Something must be going well...

Hmm...he also looks cute, lying there on his stomach wearing nothing but his briefs. Ideas start to form in my head. I lean over and lay a kiss on his shoulder.

"Morning, Ken-Ken!" he says. "Guess what? One of my friends just gave me a lead!"


"I sent them the picture! Fiona knew what it was...it's a gryphon! Now I have something to go on!"

"That's terrific!" And I mean it. I bring my lips toward his, and he kisses me, a quick peck.

Which only whets my appetite for more. My eyes wander over his body again, and my brain starts to fill with fantasies. Maybe I should just push them aside, go take a cold shower. He's in Mission Mode, after all...

But there's no trace of the Mission Look in his eyes right now. They're soft, sweet, happy. Eyes that say he's my Angel right now. Eyes that say...he might, just might be open to a bit of playtime.

He's still typing away...thanking the girl for the information, I guess. I want him to stop typing. I want him for other things...

I put a hand on his back and slide it down, slowly, my fingertips following his spine. I feel him shudder a little...When I reach the sensitive area near the base, right where his underwear is riding, I pause, stroking, massaging...

"Put that thing away," I say in what I hope is my sexiest whisper, "and come take a shower with me."

He types on. "In a minute, Ken-Ken..."

I slide my hand below the waistband, feeling the curve of his nice, firm bottom. Gently, I squeeze one cheek, then knead it with gentle, yet firm strokes... then move to the other side, fluttering my fingers, then rubbing...I lean over and touch my tongue to his shoulder, lapping once, twice...then pulling it away...then leaning over again, nipping at the soft skin, making him jump.

"Sure you want to wait?" I whisper.

His eyes are half-mast now, his mouth a moist pucker. "Ohh...ohh...Ken..."

I know he's turned on. When he's seriously aroused, it's not Ken-kun or Ken-Ken anymore...just Ken.

"I'll be waiting," I whisper, taking away my hand, my mouth, getting off the bed and starting to walk toward the bathroom.

Behind me, I hear the snap of his laptop case being closed. Success.

I continue toward the bathroom and turn on the water...and then feel his arms wrap around me from behind, pulling me back against him. I purr, arching my hips back, feeling him start to kiss my back, my shoulders, my neck...

"Yes," I say. "Oh, that's good, Angel..."

"You feel so good," he whispers. "Your body is so beautful."

"You're not seeing all of it, you know," I say.

Seconds later, two pairs of underwear are on the floor, and he's kissing my neck again, his erection pressing against my bottom, his hands moving along my chest. I lean back and moan, wanting him to grasp and stroke my manhood, but also wanting him to keep this going and going and...

I turn toward him and smile. "We're wasting hot water, Angel. First things first, you know."

"Ken...I want to..."

"Later, love. After we've washed our hair, washed up..."

I turn around and take his hand, leading him into the stream of water. Our arms come around each other, and our lips press together, our mouths opening almost instantly. His sweet, hot little tongue...the tongue which has felt so hot, so wet, so good on my nipples, my manhood...is flicking against mine, making me moan and press myself against him...

No. First things first. Let's see how long we can resist. It'll make it all the more sweeter later.

"Shampoo first, darling," I say, taking the bottle and handing it to him. He makes a face at me, but takes it anyway. I lean down, and soon feel his hands working their way through the strands, working up a lather. As if either one of us needed any more *working up.*

"Mmm," I say. "That feels good."

"All I'm doing is washing your hair."

"Every time you touch me, it feels good, Angel."

He finishes his ministrations, and I lean back, letting it rinse out. My turn to do it to him. He leans back, holding perfectly still until I rinse him.

"There," he says, leaning back toward me. "We did that. And now..."

"Now, sponges." I take two sponges and a tube of shower jell from a plastic caddy. "Just wash each other's bodies however we want..." I deliberately put sponges in there a couple of days ago, with an eye toward our next shard shower...to keep us from touching each other's flesh directly at first. I don't want his fingers on my nipples, on my thighs, my bottom, my...well, you get the idea. At least, not just yet.

Later, though...

Sponges? But...I want to put my hands all over him...

He's doing this on purpose. I know he is. Just to drive me nuts. Okay, I'll play along with it. I take a sponge and soap it up with gel, then start to run it up his arm. He does the same with the other sponge. I move it over his shoulders, then in big circles on his chest... (Oh, how I love his chest. He has the sexiest chest I've ever seen. I kiss and lick it and suck his nipples a lot when we make love. I don't think he minds).

We wash each other's torsos, backs, legs...It's getting harder and harder to keep control. I just want to throw this thing away and wrap myself all around him.

"Hmm," he says, "guess it's just our bottoms now...and what's in front of them."

My eyes are fastened to his nipples, then down below...my mouth is literally watering.

"Guess so." And I begin to rub the sponge on his right cheek, and feel him do the same to me. A shudder of pleasure runs through me...the sponge is rough, and it's kicking up all kinds of sensations, a bit scratchy, a bit painful, but friction, plenty of friction...

As if I couldn't feel any warmer. Ken, please, please let's just *do it*...

His sponge finishes on my bottom, and I feel it moving around front...I shudder in anticipation...

The first touch of it makes me cry out. I start doing the same thing to him, and hear him cry out as well. We lean toward each other, and his mouth and mine meet, my tongue pushing for his right away. We keep washing as we kiss, sliding the sponges up and down, up and down...then around...then down to the sacs beneath...and up...and...oh...oh, Ken, I may come just from this...

Our lips break apart, and we're both panting. "Omi...Angel..."


The sponges fall to the floor, and our arms are all around each other, our mouths colliding like two trains, his tongue tangling with mine, our hips starting to push and grind against each other. I'm hot, oh, Gods, so, so incredibly hot...my hands wander down his back, to his bottom, which I grab and squeeze, making him moan.

I start to work my way down his neck, licking, then kissing, then licking again. Ahh, now my tongue is on his chest...I kiss it, over and over, sliding my lips along his flesh, feeling his muscles, his smooth skin...I lick wide circles, looking for what I want to find...

There. Right there. My tongue lashes out at his nipple, sliding over it very, very slowly...then, I kiss it quickly, over and over...it's hard now, and he's moaning my name. I pull it into my lips and suck it, eagerly, and he gives a hoarse cry. Yes, Ken...oh, that sound turns me on so much...oh, how good your nipple feels, tastes...I move my head to the other side and begin to suck on the other one, and this time, I reach downward, letting my finger trail over the head of his manhood. He's really moaning now, and gasping, "Angel...Angel...good...ohh...Gods...sooo good...lower...go down, please..."

With one last loving kiss on his nipple, I drop to my knees and kiss the shaft in front of me. I start to run my tongue up and down it, while my fingers lightly brush the head again. He cries out, and when I open my mouth and take him in, he cries out louder.

I genuinely love doing this. He feels so good, tastes so good...The sensation of having him in my mouth is so hard to explain. In a way, it's like I'm giving him the deepest, most intimate kiss one person can give another.

I start to suck, moving my head back and forth. I reach back and grasp his bottom as I do so, squeezing it gently. Umm, his bottom is firm, shapely...I suck harder, faster, my fingers massaging, kneading. He moans, whispers my name, and then starts to thrust his hips, driving in deeper and deeper. I pull back a little...I don't want to choke, not now!...but I hold on.

"Ohh...Angel...almost there...almost..."

I take one hand off his bottom and slide it forward, so it's cupping and stroking the sac beneath, and he's almost screaming now. "Angel...Omi...Gods...Gods...oh, here it comes, here it..."

He lets out a yell, and I feel his seed start to gush into my mouth. The taste of it...it's the one thing I don't like. Salty-chemical...But I hold on until he's done, and then, I quickly duck my head down and spit it out. He doesn't notice. He's like a rag doll.

I stand up, and he sags against me. We kiss, and I feel his hand grip my manhood, starting to stroke it, caress it. Now, it's my turn to moan.

So good...he's so, so good...I have to give him back as much pleasure as he gave me...

I move down to his chest and begin to suck on one of his nipples, as he had done to me, still keeping my fingers on his erection...I stroke it, then caress it, sliding my palm along the shaft, then tickling the head. He moans and writhes, whispering my name.

I flutter my tongue on his little bud, then kiss it a bit. Good thing we both have sensitive nipples, since we both love sucking them so much. I move over and start to feast on the other one...so delicious, I swear, my love, your skin has a sweet taste. Because you're so very, very sweet.

I drop down on my knees and flick my tongue, just a light touch, over the head of his manhood. He cries out...he arches his hips, thinking I'm going to start sucking his erection...

Not quite. Not yet.

Instead, I begin to lick lower...I'm running the tip of my tongue lightly over his balls. "Ohh!" he cries. "Ken!"

I raise my head. "Do you like that, honey?"

"Yes! Ohh..."

I start to lick at them with long, wet strokes now, letting my fingers brush his manhood again as I do so. Umm...I've never done much of this before, and it's...very, very sexy. So intimate...and oh, does he like it! He's groaning and moaning, his whole body seeming to writhe like a stretched-out snake.

Genly, very gently, I take one in my lips and start to suck on it... slowly, softly, carefully. I know how sensitive they can be. Omi shouts my name, his hands tangling in my hair, his hips starting to move. He's close now...time to go for broke.

I lash my tongue over the sacs one last time, then move back up, taking his manhood in my lips and starting to suck rapidly. I move my head up and down, taking in as much of him as I can handle, and he cries out, over and over... "Ken! Oh, yes... yes...now! NOW!" And he lets out a shriek as his seed starts to flood my mouth. Yes, darling...fill me with it, I'll swallow it and make you a part of me.

Finally, he collapses to the floor in a heap. I gather him into my arms, gently kissing his cheeks and forehead.

"Ohh...ohh...Ken...sooo good..."

"I'm glad. I like pleasing you. I love you so much, Angel..."

"I love you, too. More than you'll ever know."

I help him to his feet. The water has started to turn cold. It may have been cold for awhile. There's no way in hell either of us would have noticed. I turn it off, and we kiss again, softly. I can taste myself on his mouth, as I know he can taste himself on mine.

We linger there for a long moment, holding each other, brushing our lips together in soft, feathery kisses.

Finally, I say, gently, "We'd better get going, Angel. Time to put that great discovery of yours to work."

"Yes," he whispers. We kiss one last time, then step out of the shower, reaching for towels to dry each other off with.

I think we're both more than ready for whatever this day will bring us.

Oh, Gods...I was not ready for this.

I got to the flower shop all prepared to have the mystery cleared up. I asked the others if they'd cover for me while I went downstairs to do my research. I was fully expecting to find a reference to "gryphon" or "griffin" somewhere, and then we'd be able to make our move...

But I've found nothing. Absolutely nothing. We're back to square one.

I just sit there and stare at the screen, my chin on my hands...as if I could make the words I wanted just pop up by looking long enough, hard enough...

Yohji-kun comes down the stairs. "Omittchi! The girls are asking and asking about you, you know. 'Where's Omi today?' 'When's Omi going to get here?' 'Why don't I see Omi anywhere?' You're a lucky man, my friend."

I heave a deep sigh. "No, I'm not. I've found nothing." Stupid, stupid, stupid...what made me thing the gryphon would be an actual clue, anyway? Probably just a printing error.

"But Ken said you had a lead this morning... "

"Which is leading us absolutely nowhere."

"Shit. I knew this mission was a bad idea. We can't be expected to chase after absolutely nothing."

I turn toward him. "I thought when I found that picture of the gryphon that I'd found..."

"Did you say gryphon?" Aya-kun's voice, from the top of the stairs. He starts down the steps... "Can I see it, Omi?"

Strange...what would he know about a gryphon? Then again, there's a lot of things about Aya-kun none of us know about. I open the picture, and he stands behind me, looking at it intently.

Finally, he nods, and says, "That's it. One of the symbols of Red Skies."

"Red Skies?" I reply. "What are you talking about?"

"A terrorist group. They're seeking the release of certain political prisoners, and they make periodic attacks on innocent civilians. One of their symbols is a gryphon."

"How do you know about this?" Yohji-kun says.

There's silence. There's very frequently silence with Aya-kun.

Finally, he says, "Before Weiss...I was in another group of assassins. We had...dealings with them."

Manx had mentioned something about that to me once...that Aya-kun had been involved with a group called Crashers. He had never spoken about it until now.

"Then you know how to find these people?" I say.

He shook his head. "We had taken out a few of their foot soldier squads...but we were never able to locate the leadership. They strike...then vanish completely into thin air."

And then, a voice from upstairs shouts, "Hey! I COULD use some help up here, you guys!" Poor Ken-kun, all alone in the store and probably swamped...

"We'll talk more about this later," I say. The three of us head up.

Later on, it's quiet enough that we can leave Momo in charge of the shop singlehandedly. We all go downstairs.

"Okay, so we know the gryphon is connected to this Red Skies thing," I say. "We still don't know the connection between Red Skies and the plants, though."

"Maybe we could go to all six of them with a bogus flower delivery, then poke around, try to find something," Ken-kun says.

"That'll take forever!" says Yohji-kun.

"Have you got any better ideas?" Ken-kun replies.

There's a moment of silence...then, Yohji-kun says, "Ken, you're a pain in the ass." (Hope nobody noticed me blushing and looking down on that one!)

"Look, it seems like our only chance right now," I say. "We can each take a couple..."

"I'll take three of them," Ken-kun says. "The rest of you each get one."

"Ken-kun," I say, "are you sure you want that many?"

He smiles, clasps my hand... "I'm sure." His eyes say to me, I have faith in you, Angel...I have faith that there's going to be an end to this.

"Okay," I say. "I'll get you the addresses...go do it."

Third delivery. Last one. I hope this is more successful than the first two...I came up completely empty.

Omi's going to be so, so disappointed if this turns into a dead end. He wants this mission to be a success so badly...Just before I left, I went to the basement to say goodbye to him. He was looking at a digital photo on his computer...a casual shot taken in the shop, with Ouka and Midori laughing in the foreground, and Omi kind of hovering in the background.

I know that he will always love Ouka. He tells me he loved her in a different way than he loves me...but love is love. And Ouka was a friend of Midori's. The look in his eyes as he stared at the picture...a mixture of extreme sadness and the Mission Look. The eyes of an avenger. He wants to punish the people who hurt Midori...for Ouka.

I take the flowers and enter the plant. I'm not stopped...a flower shop employee making a delivery is considered completely harmless. If they only knew...

As I make my way down the main corridor, a voice calls out, "Can I help you?" It's coming from the office of the plant supervisor. I walk in, and am greeted by the sight of a slight blonde in a pinstriped suit behind a desk already laden with flowers...the really-obviously-fake kind.

"I'm here to make a delivery for..." I start to say.

Just then, the door bangs open, and her boss comes out...a beefy, square-shaped guy with a gray crewcut and a nose that looks like it's been broken more than once. "Who is it?" he says in a voice that sounds like he's been gargling gravel.

"Florist," I say, holding up the arrangement. "I've got..."

"Fine," he says in a very curt tone. "Deliver your flowers and go." He raises his hand to point toward the door, emphasizing his point...

And then, I catch sight of it. A small tattoo on the inside of his wrist. A lion with an eagle's head and wings.

A gryphon.

We have a genuine lead.

I put the flowers down on the secretary's desk and turn around, resisting the urge to rush.

"Sir?" she says. "You've got something stuck to your shirt..."

I look down...nothing. Look over my shoulder...sure enough, there's a Post-It hanging off my shirt tail. I pull it off and look at it...hastily scribbled kanji spelling out today's date, and under it, "11 p.m. R.S."

"Thanks," I tell her, sticking it on her desk blotter and continuing out.

Once out in the truck, I pull my cell phone off my belt and dial the shop. "Yohji? It's Ken...I've got something. The Eastern plant...I think this is it. The boss is real testy about visitors...and he's got a gryphon tattoo."

I know what the next move is. We go there at night to break in, look around, see if we can find definite proof, any more information...

And then, I suddenly see that Post-It note in my mind's eye again. Tonight...11 p.m... .R.S. The initials...Red Skies? Good Gods, that's it! Something's going on here tonight involving Red Skies. A gathering...perhaps another poisoning...We have to be here.

My hand instinctively flexes, as if I were wearing the bugnuk already and making the sharp claws spring forth. I don't enjoy killing. Not in the slightest. But I understand why we do what we do. We have to keep more innocent people like Midori from being hurt, killed...

Sometimes, though, I wish there was another way.

Closing time at the shop. We wave goodbye to the last of the customers, pull the metal shutters, draw down the gate over the front door.

Then, we all look at each other and nod silently. It's time.

We troop down the stairs, headed for the storage closet. Each of us takes what he needs and goes to his designated "changing area" - myself in the downstairs bathroom, Omi in the upstairs office, Yohji in the upstairs bathroom, Aya in the downstairs back room.

First comes the bulletproof vest...which saved my life the night that Kase...no, no, I can't think about that. And then pants, shirt...I tie my orange sweatshirt around my waist. Omi asks me over and over why I wear that thing. Simple...I'm an athlete, and athletes are naturally superstitious. A lot of them wear lucky socks or a lucky cap for every game. This is my lucky sweatshirt. I was wearing it the day I was recruited for J-League. I also happened to have been wearing it the day Omi and I first met...and that alone, I think, infuses it with a kind of magic.

Finally, I put on my jacket and goggles, then strap on what seems to be a regular pair of gloves...but I know better. Far better.

I head upstairs; the others are already assembled. I look at Omi...the Mission Look has intensified. There's no trace at all of soft innocence in his gaze. His eyes are cold, hard steel. It's almost as if he's a different person, not the boy I love.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of that crossbow.

"Let's move," he says, and we head out to Aya's car, parked around back, Omi and I in the back seat, the other two in front.

I look at my love as we pull away. He's staring straight forward with that steely glance. I wonder what he's thinking right now...

Objective: Breach the building, find out what's going on. Ultimate objective: Find those responsible...and take care of them.

I run over the course of action in my mind. I had spent the rest of the afternoon studying the records of this particular plant, figuring out its layout.

There might be guards around the back, especially if something's going down tonight. I reach inside my jacket and finger the darts hiding there. No problem.

Aya hides the car in a wooded area about half a mile from the plant. We get out and start to walk, silently, listening and looking for anything amiss. So far, nothing but the sounds of the night...

And then, a voice. "Hey! Who's there?" I spring into action immediately, snatching my weapons and flinging them. A warning shot, not a shoot-to-kill...We're able to slip past the stunned guard.

We creep up to the building and locate the side entrance. This is Yohji's specialty...lock-picking. We're inside within seconds.

There's sounds, coming from down the hall...human voices...hmm, that direction should be the actual processing plant...I start toward them, motioning for the others to follow.

"Hey!" shouts a high, reedy male voice. "Who's there?" I turn...and see a tall, thin guy step out of the shadows, holding a gun...except he isn't holding it for long. A lariat flies toward him and wraps around his wrist, making him drop it. Before Yohji can release him, Aya brings his katana slashing down. Target eliminated. The way is clear. We continue back down the corridor.

As we approach the back, I hear a man shouting, "Hurry up with the stuff! We've gotta do this fast...they're expecting this shipment at the distributor in an hour!"

"Jesus Christ, I'm moving as fast as I can! If the boss doesn't like it, he can kick me outta Red Skies for all I care!"

Another voice... "Hey! That's the wrong fucking bags you've loaded up! We need the ones with the red dot! How the hell else are we gonna know which ones are the right bags?" Something unintelligible is mumbled in reply.

A scraping noise, a bump...and then, the first voice again... "Careful with that shit! It's poison, it's not cotton candy! You get it on yourself, you're a dead sonofabitch!"

That's all I need to hear. We'd already plotted out what to do when we found them in action...and it's time to do it. The others scurry around me, headed for various entrances to the plant proper. I search the wall, looking for the switch the plans said was there...found it! I pull the lever, and the plant gets dark, the mechanical noises stop...

"What the FUCK?" says a voice from inside. And I make my next move, springing in through the nearest doorway, crossbow at the ready. The room is dimly lit, all that's working is an auxiliary generaor...but I can still see well enough to determine that there's a gun pointed at my head.

"Drop it," growls the gunman...yes, one of the men who was speaking before. But he doesn't carry through on his threat, because a cord flies out of seemingly nowhere and wraps itself around his neck. As Yohji pulls on it, finishing the job, I spot another one running toward us out of the corner of my eye, weapon at the ready. I spin on my heel, firing my crossbow. Two targets eliminated. Yohji and I look at each other and nod.

I make my way further into the plant. There is something else I have to do...I reach into one of my pockets. The materials I need are there...

And then, an arm wraps around my neck, cutting off my airway. I struggle and kick out, but whoever it is wrestles me to the ground. "You're going nowhere, pretty boy," a voice growls. "Who are you, and what are you doing here?"

I'm starting to get dizzy...how the hell does this guy expect me to talk if he's choking me to death?...but I somehow manage to get one hand loose...if I can wriggle it around just a bit...

Success. The weapon I'd concealed in my sleeve drops into my hand. I fling it backward, and hear my assailant howl as the dart pierces his flesh. He drops me, and I spring to my feet and snatch upmy crossbow before he can react. One shot, and the target drops to the floor.

I take a deep breath, then another, getting my oxygen level back up...then calmly continue on to complete my task.

Where is Ken? I haven't seen him since we got here...

I creep toward the back of the plant. I know the big boss I saw earlier is around here somewhere. I heard that gravely voice.

As I walk, I hear footsteps close behind...then the sound of a gun being cocked...

And then a whoosh, a thud and the sound of a body crashing to the floor. I turn, and see Aya, katana in hand, the corpse of my wood-be assailant on the floor. I give him a nod of thanks, then move on.

Around here, somewhere...I know it was from this direction...

"So, if it isn't the flower boy," a familiar voice rasps. "I knew you were up to no good."

He's hiding over there...in the shadows, behind that partition...

"Nobody comes into this place unless they're invited," he continues. "And I sure as hell know you weren't. I checked our phone records...nobody called a florist."

I know just what direction the voice is coming from now. I know just where to strike...

And then, there's the sound of a shot, and a bullet slams into the vest protecting me. I stagger back a bit...and I flash back, horrifyingly, to Kase firing at me, again and again...hearing his voice say "Why won't you die?"

Gods...NO. I shake my head, bringing myself back to the present. I focus on where the target is again...

"No, you're the one who's up to no good, Red Skies!" And I leap into the air, activating the bugnuk.

Gods, how I hate the moment of impact. That solid feeling...it's a reminder that I'm killing someone. And every time...I'm reminded of when I did the same thing to Kase.

I stand up, trying not to look at the blood dripping from the bugnuk. I hear, in the background, the sounds of Aya's katana making another impact...then silence. We must have gotten them all.

Then, the sound of Omi's voice calling to us, an all-business tone... "Siberian! Abyssinian! Get out, right away!" I look around...Aya's across the room...both of us run for the nearest exit. When we're outdoors, we meet up with Omi and Yohji again. Omi has something in his hand...a small metal case with a white cross on the cover. I know what's going to happen, I've seen it before. The four of us start running, so we're a safe distance away...

Finally, we stop. Omi opens the case, presses a button. There is a deafening roar, and a huge plume of fire shoots up into the air as pieces of the building fly everywhere.

He drops the crossbow, the detonator. He closes his eyes, lets out a deep sigh. When he opens them, the steely gaze is gone. He has become my Angel again. It's over. Midori has been avenged.

We make our way back to the car, quickly, quietly. Once we're settled in the back seat, Omi drops his head to my shoulder and his eyelids flutter closed. Within seconds, he's asleep. He must be so, so exhausted at this point...I'll take him back to my place again and put him to bed like I did last night. There will be no repeat of the morning performance, though. Omi and I have an unwritten law between us ...no lovemaking until at least 24 hours after a mission. It would be just...wrong. We almost always sleep in the same bed, holding each other...especially if things have not gone a hundred percent well...but that's it.

I brush his hair back from his eyes as I watch him sleep. You did well, Angel. You did real well.

It's been two days since the misison. We got a call at the flower shop today from Yuukina...Midori's getting out of the hospital tomorrow. I think that once she gets back to school, I'm going to sit down with her and have a talk. I'm going to tell her about Ken and I...but also that I'd like to be her friend. Ouka would like that, I think.

Ken-kun and I are spending a quiet evening together. We really cherish those. After you've just spent several days tracking and eliminating scum-of-the-earth criminals, it's just so, so nice to be normal for awhile.

Right now, he's ordering a pizza, and I've got my laptop open. I'm cataloguing the contents of that one Zip disc...it's just helter-skelter right now, MP3s and pictures and text files everywhere. I'm sticking everything into folders.

"Want breadsticks too, Angel?" he calls from the kitchen.

"Fine with me," I reply. I'm very hungry. I didn't eat much while the misison was going on. The only time I had any kind of appetite whatsoever was when Ken-kun and I were in the shower...A shudder runs through me as I remember that. I'm glad we did it, let ourselves go completely like that. I know I needed it.

And then, I click on one of the picture files...and there's the photo of Ken-kun while he was in J-League. So adorable. I'll bet everyone who saw him play had a crush on him.

Fate should have been kinder to him. He should still be there...but then, if he was, we wouldn't have known each other.

Or would we? Is there really such a thing as destiny? Is there such a thing as lovers who were meant to be together, no matter what?

What would our lives have been like if we hadn't suffered the tragedies that brought us to Weiss...if I hadn't been kidnapped, if he hadn't been drugged and framed? He'd be a superstar athlete, I'd be a poor little rich boy...Would I have ended up evil and twisted like my two brothers? Oh, Gods, I don't even want to think about that.

Ken-kun comes back into the living room. I quickly close the laptop. "Pizza's on its way. Looks like it's just about time for 'Iron Chef.'" He sits on the couch and holds his arms open to me. I sit beside him, and we embrace, then kiss softly. Gods, I just can't imagine him not being a part of my life...was there actually a time when my world didn't include him?

"Good," I say. "By the time the food gets here, we'll probably be good and hungry. Unless they're making cod roe ice cream again."

"They wouldn't dare be that sadistic twice," he says. I lie with my head in his lap, and he clicks the remote. The show's just starting.

Yes, how nice to be able to do something normal together. Other people my age take it for granted that they can do this kind of thing every night of their lives, and not have to hack into high-security computer networks, or make explosives, or plot a course through a heavily-guarded building...

But I have no choice. I have to do those things. For the sake of everyone who's ever suffered and died at the hands of criminals...the way I suffered as a child.

Again, the thought returns. What would my life have been like if I hadn't been kidnapped? Doubtlessly, I would have known Ouka...our mutual father acknowledged her as his daughter. She'd still be alive today, definitely, because his bodyguards would have had no reason to take a shot at me.

I would be a teenager, not an assassin. I'd only use a computer for surfing and chatting. The only darts I'd ever touch would be in a bar, the only flowers I'd ever handle would be the centerpieces of a fancy dinner table...

I would never have known Aya-kun and Yohji-kun. That makes me sad. But Ken-kun...is it, indeed, destiny?

I push the thoughts aside and turn my attention back to the show. The secret ingredient is yellowfin tuna. Everything being prepared looks good...or at least not nauseating. But I just can't seem to get into it. In the back of my mind, over and over, there's that "what if..."

When the pizza arrives, I dig into it with relish. Amazing that I can still be hungry in this kind of a mood.

"Hmm," Ken says. "I think I'm in heaven right now. My favorite show...my favorite kind of pizza...and my favorite bishounen. Life doesn't get any better than this."

Oh, Ken-kun...if our lives had been different, would you be saying that to someone else right now? Would there be another boy, or girl, in my place?

He ruffles my hair. "Hey...you're being quiet, Angel. Still thinking about the misison?"

I shake my head no, continue eating.

"Something else on your mind?"

"Not really..."

"There is something bugging you, isn't there? You can tell me, honey."

I put the pizza aside. "Well...it's not important. I was just thinking."

"About what?"

"About...destiny. Fate. About what our lives would have been like if we hadn't been in Weiss." I look up at him. "We probably wouldn't have known each other, would we?"

He's silent for a moment. Great, that was probably a silly question to ask. I turn my attention back to the TV. The dishes are being tasted right now, and that cranky lady judge is chiding the challenger for making one of his offerings too salty...

Then, he says, "What made you think of something like that?"

I sit up. "I...I came across a picture on the Net, of you when you were in J-League, and it made me wonder...what if you were still with them? And I was still living as a Takatori...we wouldn't be together, would we?"

He's quiet for a moment. Then, he says, "I didn't think there'd be any pictures of me still out there. The League just about blotted me out of all their records, as if I'd never existed." He looks at me with a slight smile. "Was it a good picture, at least?"

"Gorgeous. You looked very sexy." I am definitely not going to tell him that I saw Kase's picture as well. I think that's a memory he doesn't want revived.

"I'm glad you saw it, then." The show is ending, we hear Kaga loudly proclaim the Iron Chef the winner...Ken clicks the set off, then pulls me into his arms. "It doesn't matter what could have happened, honey. What matters is that we did end up together. You're by far the best thing that's ever happened to me."

"Same here...I mean, I feel the same way about you."

"Omi...what's between us...it's no accident. We were meant to be together, Weiss or no Weiss. I love you." I feel him start to kiss my neck, softly, just barely touching his lips to my skin...I arch my head back, tangling my fingers in his hair.

"I love you too," I whisper, feeling him kiss up to my jaw, then my chin...and then, our lips are together, and I throw my arms around him, pulling him close, closer, as if to merge his body into mine. I push my tongue into his mouth, feeling around, trying to find a sensitive spot here, there...He groans, and I begin stroking my tongue against his, letting my hands start to roam over his body. Gods, he feels so good, so tight and hard and muscular...I find the bottom of his polo shirt and pull it upward, breaking the kiss so I can yank it over his head.

"Angel..." he sighs. I tip him backward, so he's almost lying flat-out on the couch, and begin licking up and down his chest, my hands sliding up his ribcage, the thumbs begining to rub over the nipples. "Oooh, yes," he groans. "Ohh, that's nice..."

I lick up to where my right hand is, and I take his nipple in my mouth, sucking it hard. He lets out a loud groan, arching toward me, and I slide one hand down over his stomach, then lower, slowly, until I feel the hard bulge in his jeans. I start to rub it as my tongue swirls on his nipple, and he shudders.

I bring my mouth back to his and kiss him again, firecely, my lips hard and insistent, my tongue probing deeply. I've never been this aggressive before. I don't know where it came from...but Gods, it's a dizzying high!

And then, a fantasy forms in my mind, of something we haven't done yet...but something I very much want to do...especially now. It's absolutely burning in me, this desire.

"Ken, let's go in the bedroom."

"That's the best idea I've heard all night." We get up, and our lips meet again, then he takes my hand, and we start to walk toward the other room...

Once the door is closed behind us, we're in each other's arms again, our mouths pressing together, and I reach down for his zipper. When I have his pants unfastened, I plunge my hand in so I'm caressing him atop the fabric of his underwear. He moans again, and then again when I take my hand out of the front of his pants, plunge it in the back, grasp and squeeze his bottom...

And then, the fantasy returns again. What would it be like to be in there? To feel him drawingme in...enclosing me...

I break the kiss. "Ken...sweetheart...there's something I want to do tonight..."

"What, Angel? Anything you want."

I pause, inhale deeply, then say, "I want...to be seme. I want to be inside you."

I'm not at all surprised. He's been very aggressive tonight...and every time we've made love up until now, he's either been uke or we've just made love to each other with our mouths and hands.

It's been a long time since I've been on the bottom. Since I was with Kase...no, I won't think about that. Not now. No way am I going to spoil the moment.

I kiss his temple, softly. "Of course, Angel. Do you know what to do?"

He looks down, blushing bright pink, then looks slowly, shyly up at me. "Will you talk me through it?"

"Yes." I lean over, and bring my lips to his, reaching down to undo his zipper. We pull away from each other just long enough to strip off our remaining clothing, and then start to kiss again, rubbing our bodies together...I shift a bit so our erections are brushing against each other, and both of us start to pump our hips, moaning...it feels so, so good...we have to stop, though, we can't come...not yet, not yet.

I ease away from him, and lay face-down on the bed, drawing my knees up. I hear him sigh, and then feel his hand begin to slide over the curve of one buttock, gently caressing it...then, his other hand comes up to join the first, and he squeezes both cheeks, starting to knead them...Warm waves of pleasure begin to flow through my body, and I let out a groan.

"Umm...that's good, honey."

He takes his hands away...but then, I feel his hot breath on the left side, and then his lips, baby-soft little kisses...moving up and down, around in circles...kiss, then a tiny nip, making me cry out... then a quick flick of his tongue...then kisses again, harder, more aggressive...

Oh, Gods, it's driving me absolutely mad. I'm clutching at the sheets. "More," I moan, and I feel his mouth move to the other cheek...He bites, not a nibble, but a true bite, and I yelp, pleasure and pain shooting through me at once...where the HELL did he get that idea from?...then kisses the area he just bit, softly, tenderly...

He stops. "Was...was that okay? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"Well, Angel...you did. But it was a nice hurt. REAL nice."


He's still such an innocent, even after everything we've done. "Don't worry about it, honey. Just keep going. You're doing great."

He starts to kiss again, moving his lips up and down the curve, and I feel his fingers start to trail in the valley between the cheeks. Little shivers run up my spine. He's ready to take the next step.

"Go into the bathroom. Get a couple of towels, you'll need them later." He gets up and scurries after them, coming back very quickly.

"Open the nighttable drawer," I say. "There's a tube of KY in there. Put some on your index finger...and some around my opening...and then slide your finger in, slowly."

I hear the squishing sound of the tube, then feel him touch me...ooh, cold! I jump a bit.

"Did I do something wrong?"

I laugh. "No, no...it's just that I now know why you're always saying that stuff is so cold. I'd forgotten what it felt like."

"It warms up after awhile." And then, his finger starts to probe. I know that there's a bit of pain coming, and sure enough, I feel it...but I don't let on to him. I want him to keep going.

"A little more," I say. "Umm...yes, like that." The pain is fading, and it's being replaced by pleasure. "Now move your finger around a bit..." He does, and a shudder of luscious feeling passes through me. "Ohh, you're doing well," I sigh.

"It feels good?"

"It feels very good. Now take your finger out...wipe it off...and this time, lube your first and second fingers. You're going to put the first finger in again, then the second one."

When the probe comes again, I brace against the pain...but it fades quickly again, and when his fingers start moving around, I arch back against him. "Ohh...that's so good, Angel..."

He leans over and kisses my back, several times. I purr, and purr louder when I feel his tongue running up and down my spine. I'm actually pumping my hips, trying to get deeper and deeper penetration...Gods, I want him inside me, and badly!

"Take them out," I tell him. "Wipe them off again...you're going to do a third finger this time."

This time, I welcome even the pain. I know it's the gateway to pleasure...and when the pleasure comes, it's so sharp and sweet that I nearly lose it on the spot. "Ohh, you're doing so well," I moan. "That's it...move them around...open me up, get me ready...oh, I can't wait, Angel. I want to feel you deep inside me so, so badly..."

"Tell me what to do." His fingers go in deeper still, and I let out a moan.

"In the drawer is a box of condoms. Put one on, then lube yourself on top of it. Then lube my opening again."

I hear the foil packet being torn. There's a pause...should I help him put it on?...but that's quickly followed by the squish of the tube again...and then, the cold chill as he applies it to me...

"Now take my hips, position yourelf in back of me...put yourself right up agains the entrance...and push forward slowly..."

I hear his words, but at first, I can't move. I'm rooted to the spot. No, I want to do this...I have to do it.

I push forward...ohh, what's this? I wasn't expecting it to feel so...oh, GODS! It's warm and soft and...he's gripping me, absolutely gripping, and it shoots an instant bolt of hot sensation through my whole body. I push forward more...I just want to bury myself in him, lose myself in the tightness, the heat...

"Ken, oh, Ken," I moan. "This is SO good!"

"Yes, Angel...keep going...more..."

Oh, Gods...how could I even think of stopping now! I push in more, and more, and his passage squeezes me so tight...pleasure is burning and burning all through me... I lean over and kiss his neck, lick it, nibble his earlobe, half-mad with sensation...

"Now thrust," he says. "Just slowly at first..."

I pull my hips back...ohh!!...and push forward, and.. .oh, oh, so delicious, so incredible, nothing has ever felt like this, why, WHY didn't I do this before? So much hot sensation flooding me...I pump my hips faster, and faster still...I can never get enough, never, never, oh, I'm on fire, and it's going to...oh, GODS...

Suddenly, I feel an explosion of hot ecstasy all over my body, and I cry out, loudly, feeling my seed pour from my body as one spasm after another shakes me.

I collapse to the bed, moaning, panting, shaking...I feel Ken's fingers stroking my hair, his lips on my cheek. "How was that?" he asks, softly.

"Ohh...incredible...just incredible...just..."

I reach up for him...and my hand brushes something hard. He still has a full erection.

Then, it hits me. I came quickly. Too quickly. I thought only about my own needs...I did nothing to satisfy my lover...When we had done this with me on the bottom, he'd always stroked my manhood while he was inside me...and I didn't do anything for him.

Selfish, I was selfish...

I turn my face away from him, feeling tears form in my eyes.

What's wrong? He looked positively blissful a second ago...and now, he's crying. Tears of joy? No, that look on his face is definitely not joyful.

"Angel? What's the matter?"

"I came too quickly. I left you hanging. I just took my own pleasure, and did nothing for you..."

"Oh, darling!" I pull him into my arms. "It's all right. I wasn't expecting anything different. It's normal for guys when they first penetrate, whether they're with a man or a woman. Making love isn't something we're born knowing how to do. You have to learn... .you have to practice."


"Just learn from experience. The more we do that, the more you'll learn what to do." I kiss his forehead. "You'll be all right, Angel."

He smiles. "We'll see."

"Now, let's get you cleaned up...and then, if you want, you can redeem yourself in...otherways."

I help him dispose of the condom and wash off. He seems a lot calmer. Poor darling, he probably thought I expected him to perform like a stallion. I know that he's very much human. I remember all too well what the first time was like for me. I had barely gotten in when it happened.

Once we get back to the bed, he puts his arms around me and kisses me deeply, tumbling me backward, the same way he did back when we started...

He raises his head and looks into my eyes. "I've decided how I'm going to redeem myself."

"Oh? How?"

"Like this..."

He drops to his knees at the side of the bed, and I sit on the edge so he's between my spread knees. And then, I feel that hot little tongue on my shaft, and I lean back, moaning. "That's a very good way," I say in a husky voice.

"Umm..." he says, and he begins to kiss his way up and down its length...and then licking again, long, slow, wet laps that make me shudder. He swirls his tongue over the head, kisses it a few times, licks again, moving his tongue around and around like a child eating soft-serve ice cream. Oh, he's good, so good...my heart is pounding, and I'm moaning loudly, feeling one wave of pleasure after another course through me...oh, darling, it won't be long after you take me in...

His mouth closes over me, and the suction begins, hot, wet, incredible. "Ohh, yes, Angel..." I groan. "Yes...devour me whole..."

He sucks faster, harder, moving me in and out, and I'm aflame. I tangle my hands in his hair, writhing, feeling like I can barely contain the pleasure...oh, Gods, I'm trembling on the brink of madness, but it's a beautiful, sweet madness...just a little more, Angel, a little more, yes, yes...

His fingers begin to lightly caress my balls...and that's all I need. The pleasure bursts in an explosion of heat, and I arch my hips off the bed, letting out a yell, releasing myself in rapid spasms of sweet agony.

I fall back to the bed, panting, and feel him snuggle next to me. He kisses my lips, softly.

"I love you," I say.

"I love you, too."

I pull him to my chest, closing my eyes, sighing blissfully. I can't imagine anything more beatiful than moments like this, holding him close, basking in the afterglow...



"I was just thinking of how lucky I am."

"What do you mean?"

"Well...most people only get one shot at losing their virginity. But I lost mine twice...uke and seme. And both times, it was to the person I love."

"Oh, sweetheart..." I kiss the top of his head. I'm so flooded with love...Gods, there was a time I thought it was impossible to love another person so much.

A pause, and then... "Ken...can you do me a favor?"


"Can you make sure I'm up at six tomorrow? Even if you have to set fire to the bed."

"I thought we just did that."

He gives me a playful swat, and we hug each other close, laughing...then snuggle up and drift off to sleep.

Death, and killing, and revenge have never seemed more far away.

Author's Notes

As with my first Weiss story, "Erlosung," I owe an enormous debt of grattitude to the friends who acted as my pre-readers and support staff: Sailor Star Love, Yohann de Sabrais, Alhanna Starbreeze and my editor, Steve Savage. (Check out his original series, Xai, at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/xai).

Thanks also to all the people who sent me feedback on my story! I never realized that there were so many other people out there who wanted to see Ken/Omi! Your comments made my day! Rest assured that I will be writing more about this cute/sexy couple. (Oh, BTW...anybody know of any sites with decent K/O fanart? I haven't come across any yet, alas).