PART 16




Reven stretched and yawned. Guess he ought to wake - he ought to be about his business.

He couldn't quite remember what day it was…

He snapped awake with a sudden, sharp memory of the night before. His limbs were aching - his groin was pleasantly tight. There was the touch of skin against him in the bed that wasn't his.

Inoue was lying beside him. He smelt him; he felt him. There was a breath that wasn't in tune with his own. Hell, he'd been there before, over the last few months - Eiji had been there in his bed in the morning, ready to please him; to do whatever he asked. But this time, it was different.

Reven moved slightly, uncurling his long legs, reluctant to disturb Inoue if he was sleeping, and he winced. It had been a hell of a long time since he'd been fucked, that was the truth…his heart hammered with the remembrance, and his lips twisted at the mental visions of pleasure. He'd been looking up into Inoue's eyes - he'd seen passion and amazement there, and pure animal possessiveness.

And tears…

Inoue wasn't the man he'd been before.

But when he'd said 'Reven' like that - when he'd acknowledged him… when he'd let him stitch his wounds up again, touch him…

It had been a turning point for them both.

Ah, he was awake finally. This younger creature with dark hair and soft, full lips was looking up at him lovingly, an almost disbelieving expression on his face.

The redhead had been sitting in the bed for quite some time, completely nude once more, watching Reven sleep so peacefully.

He liked watching Reven.

"You can keep sleeping," he said quietly, as though speaking normally would break the tranquil mood in the room. "I've already cleaned up, and put the clothes I used to do it in the laundry. Everything is taken care of."

Well, not everything... but everything that was of in immediate need of attention.
As soon as he had woke, he had felt the need to clean up-- Inoue in him demanded that evidence was destroyed, and Eiji had thought it kind to clean up for Reven so the younger man wouldn't have to worry about cleaning.

The redhead reached out with his hand and ran his fingers along Reven's cheek, sliding it past his ear and tangling it through soft black locks, filling his fist with hair as Inoue's urges took hold and he welcomed his partner to the morning with a firm, lustful kiss.

He couldn't get enough of the taste of Reven's mouth, the feel of his lips. He was no longer wary of kisses, though they still held just as much power over him; Inoue's mouth sought his partner's hungrily, searching, learning. He had to get used to using a damaged tongue, but his speech was fairly understandable now.

To put it simply... he had enjoyed watching Reven sleep alongside the other personality in his head, but it had only made him crave the ability to touch the creature before him even more.

Who knew that simply watching a being sleep could kindle such passion?

He wasn't complaining... and Eiji was thrilling at the taste of Owner's mouth to his, loving the soft sounds of Reven's increased breathing at the pleasure of the kiss. He opened his mouth for Owner's tongue to slip between his lips, eagerly awaiting the intimacy with this one man whom he trusted.

Reven arched up under the older man's hands, moaning with pleasure; he knew the apartment was clear of the earlier horror - he could sense it. No longer the smell of cloying blood - spattered brains. The sharp mental footprint of fear - of imminent danger.

All gone for now.

Just the cool sheet under their naked bodies and Inoue's mouth on his, tongues inside each other, their limbs curling slowly round each other again.

Who was this man, this morning? Inoue as he'd first met him on the street - or the damaged man he'd dragged out from that shithole? Reven had learned to see the changes over the last few months, the conflict of the two personalities - the sharp harshness of Inoue against the soft pliancy of Eiji. The changes came without warning - he was learning to be aware of the moods; to listen closely to words that were used; to watch sudden attitudes in the man that gave him enough explanation to deal with him.

"Inoue..." he murmured, running his hands down the man's body, feeling the sharp intake of breath in the redhead's lungs, the clenching of his stomach muscles as Reven's fingers clutched at his hips. "Thank you..."

What for? For clearing up? For fucking me? Reven smiled at himself. He had his answer, for the moment. Still kissing the man, hungrily, drinking in the cool shivers of morning arousal, he rolled gently on to his back on the bed beside his partner, tugging the other man with him.

He wanted more.

Eiji pulled away from the kiss as Owner lay on his back. He took pause at the sight of Reven's submission, as well as being called Inoue, but both were to be expected. He was slightly hurt at the idea that Reven wanted to be with Inoue more.

Still, it gave him pause enough to think with his logic rather than his lust, and he sat up, crossing his legs and looking down at Reven, his eyebrows raised slightly.

Inoue too wanted to ask the question... and so, Eiji would ask it while he wasn't too tempted with the come hither looks Reven was giving him.

"Tell me... tell me about the past," he said softly, reaching forward and tracing the contours of muscle on Reven's stomach with his fingertip. He looked down at the body because he couldn't look up at the face, knowing he'd be deterred from asking if he saw distress on Owner's face.

Inoue said it for him. "Tell me what happened... everything after we parted," he said firmly, though he was still staring at Reven's stomach, taking note of scars that the youth hadn't owned when he had last been given the pleasure of examining his partner's body ages ago.

"You don't - remember?" asked Reven softly. Fuck, he'd pushed the man too quickly - the shock of the slaughter in the apartment had loosened so much of Inoue - but the confusion and the loss that was Eiji's remained in him as well.

I should be used to it, thought Reven. I've been carrying us both through this for months now - what's a little longer?

Reven looked across at the other man, warily. He tried to catch Eiji's eyes, but the man was avoiding direct contact. He'd helped Eiji with so much over the last few months - but what was this?

What did Eiji really want to know about it all? It had been a time apart - a time when he'd tried to come to terms with being alone again, without his mentor, without his partner, without his friend. He didn't want to cause the redhead more shock and anguish like there'd been in the past, when Eiji had struggled to remember his own past...

Or was it Reven who was scared of facing the memories? Of reliving the pain?

He drew breath - he watched Eiji's strong, slender fingers tracing patterns on his stomach; teasing at the adult muscle there, as if it were a new treasure. It was thrilling - but not sexual. Not for the moment.

"When - when you were -" Reven saw the faintest shiver along Eiji's arms and he paused; started again, his voice stronger. That's how Inoue would want to hear him!
"I ran that day - thought you were - well, guess you just need to know that I got back to the apartment just ahead of 'em. Two guys followed me - they didn't think I merited any more attention than that!"

He saw Eiji's eyelids flicker, and he bit at his lip. "You were the target, Inoue. You were the one they were looking for - i was just the boy; to them I was probably just your latest entertainment; a piece of ass - a houseboy - I dunno!" His voice had raised - he lowered it, quickly. "So I had time to snatch some clothes, passport, whatever."

He flushed, and allowed the glimmer of a grin over his lips. "Remember you told me where your money was that time? Very first time you knew me, took me in as an apprentice... well, you've always told me, every time we moved. I took it all, man. I needed it."

It had been a mad time - his head started to ache, remembering. He tried hard to strip the emotions out - to concentrate on the facts.

"I thought it was best to lie low for a while," he continued. He saw Eiji's head tilt a little to the side as if he asked a question - or was that Inoue's question?

"The heavies - yeah, i saw to them as well." He surprised even himself with the bitter tone in his voice. "Guess they didn't think me so much of a houseboy after I'd rearranged the shape of their spine, eh? The trash was the best place for 'em - that's where I left 'em." He could hear the sounds of the street creeping back into his voice, too - the sharp, suspicious life he'd led.

"That's when I knew I'd keep on with it - with the job. I wanted to! I wanted to do what i knew I was good at - could be best at! And - because you'd trusted me - seen my potential. Spent all that time on me..."

Fuck! he thought. Damned water in my eyes...

Eiji nodded and uncrossed his legs, leaning in and wrapping his arms around Reven as he saw the tremors of emotion ripping through the tender creature. He leaned against Reven, pulling him close to comfort him, pressing his lips to the youth's neck softly and whispering against it, "You don't have to go on if you don't want to," he breathed. "We... I'll understand."

Reven was startled at the compassion he felt in the man beside him; he leant briefly against the strong arms. It was what he'd always wanted, wasn't it? To have Inoue hold him - listen to him.

Understand him.

In many ways, the man had known him better than he knew himself - he'd had no time as a scrawny, abandoned kid to think about the way he wanted to be as a man. It had all been about survival then. But Inoue had taken that mess of childishness and moulded it to a bright intelligence, and a strong maturity - he'd helped him control himself and his life.

"It's OK," he said, his voice a little short. "You need to know. I need to tell you." He put a hand over Eiji's, holding the older man's arms still around him. "I took the money and my stuff - remember how i used to cling to that bag of mine? - and after I'd cleared away the scum that came after me, I hid in the streets again. There were enough places I'd seen in my life that no-one ever went - but that i could survive in. I spent a long time just thinking things through, and gathering money and weapons, and favours, for when I'd have my own place and needed to call on people. I did some small jobs - some clearing up for the pimps; some errands for the bosses. They didn't know me - i used different names. But i got the jobs done, and they were pleased and word got out i could be trusted to see things through without whining and making trouble. I took money for it - I got a place of my own. Just a room - but it was the first start."

He risked another glance at Eiji's solemn face. "Took your books, man, as well! I didn't think you'd mind. I took everything I could carry, and i snuck back a few times for more." Brought it all with me, he thought. All my life with you. All I could carry of you.

"What's more to say?" he said, suddenly sharp again. "Guess you'd be pleased to know I kept studying. If I made mistakes, I made sure I never made them again. If anyone got too close, I moved on. I saved money of my own; bought stuff of my own." He thought about the apartment they lay in - plenty of familiar stuff, but a place that he'd made his own, as well. He liked the good things in life - Inoue had taught him that.

"My books," Inoue agreed slowly, as he felt an odd sensation of pride in Reven, pleased that the one student he had taken under his wing had thought to keep or burn all texts. He nodded and gripped Reven tighter in a squeeze almost like a hug, before relaxing and allowing the youth his comfort.

Eiji knew those books well. He had studied those same books, read them over, then read Inoue's writings as well, scrawled on the margins.

He brushed his lips across Reven's shoulder softly. "You grew, and learned, without me. You flourished without my fist around your throat any more. You became... a man."

Is that what I was? thought Reven. Sure. A man. An empty man.

His voice was brittle in the quiet room. "Yes, I built a reputation of my own. Reliable - efficient. Fast. Expensive. Perhaps you'd never have recognised me, if you'd just come across me again one day!" It was meant as a feeble joke, but Reven knew he'd misjudged it.

He ached inside - his pride warred with his pain. Pain that he thought he'd seen Inoue die there, that day, in a pool of his own blood, fingers uncurling from his palm as if he tried to reach for Reven. Pain that he'd searched to find either wounded man or body, searched for weeks... and yet he couldn't tell Eiji that.

It was too raw to him, still. The feeling of loss - of abandonment by the one person he needed and cared for.

Pain that all he'd had for the years since was professional pride; money; his own, bitter company.

And a sense of guilt that ripped through his emotions like a scythe, every time he remembered. That he'd let Inoue down - that he'd abandoned him - that Inoue's last act had been to save his life.

It washed over him - the ache; the misery.

"Why did you do it?" he almost shouted, feeling the body against him jerk with surprise. His fingers tightened on the arms round him - he felt the heart beat speed up, nestled against him. He hadn't wanted to disturb Eiji - but this was about himat the moment, wasn't it? Reven the man - the boy - the survivor!

"Shit," he groaned. "You never wanted to go that day at all - it was all my fault, the stupid fucking money, the stupid fucking arrogance! I said we should see that guy - that it was a chance to move into a new game. That you were complacent - that you never listened to my suggestions, never gave me credit for any strategic thought! That you were some kinda control freak, that you'd never see me as anything but a kid -!"

Those times together had been full of those arguments. Anger and passion and a fierce need to succeed - they'd always shared that! It had made them good at their work - it had provoked the desire between them. Reven shut his eyes, but that was worse - he could see the murderer's eyes now - the mocking look, the light of triumph as he caught sight of Inoue behind him.

The barked, angry words - the drawn weapons. Reven had known in that instant that they were dead - that his last thought would be one of failure and anger - and grief for Inoue.

"You were quicker than me - you were always quicker than me," he said, almost whispering. "You pushed me aside - you saved me. They were never interested in me - just wanted me out of the line of fire. You took the bullet for me." I heard that bullet pass me,he thought, dully. I saw the puff of smoke - heard the sucking thud as it hit you.

"Why?" he cried out. He hoped to God they weren't tears on his face, running down under his chin, unheeded - but he knew that they were. "Why did you push me away like that - push me away from you? I was in the way, Inoue - that's all I was! I would have taken it - let you escape instead! Why did you give yourself up like that?"

Inoue and Eiji together were stunned into silence as the tears flowed down Reven's cheeks, gathering at his chin and careening down into the sheets and pillows, and onto Inoue's hands as he lifted them to touch Reven's face.

He caressed the smooth jaw line and swept away the tears, then across his cheeks, smearing away the tears he had caused. Finally Inoue's gaze matched Reven's, steady and demanding that close attention be paid to his words.

It was rare when they had been together in the past that he felt the urge to say much at one time, other than to bark out instructions, plans or intricate commands. But here and now, Reven needed to know... needed to hear it all.

And so, he decided, he'd start at Reven's one burning question-- and then try and answer every other one he'd ever asked either aloud or with his eyes and his body, over the years they had been together as Inoue and Reven, and Eiji and Reven.

He took a slow breath and prepared to say more about himself to one person than he ever had in his life.

"You wanted to go on the mission; wanted to prove yourself to me, when all you were proving to me was how childish you were... how in need of my approval you were, rather than seeking your own approval and growth. I had my suspicions about the assignment from the beginning, but was tired of fighting with you over your need to try and do too much too quickly on your own.

So, I agreed-- more or less I tried to tell myself that I allowed it just to shut you up, but part of me wanted to see what you could do without my guidance... to see what you'd learned both from me and on your own, and how you'd apply it in a situation where I wasn't completely in control."

He sighed and was rather glad suddenly that they were in the bed, where Eiji was comfortable and where he could lay back and avoid eye contact with Reven, as he needed to right now. This was hard enough as it was without those dark, brown eyes boring into him hungrily, needing more, searching for more answers.