Title: In the Dark (Part 7)
Pairing: Will be Hatori/Aaya
Link to part 6
Link to Part 8
Hatori glanced at his clock and started shutting his computer down as he registered that it was time to go. He was worried about how disconnected Ayame had seemed that morning, and he wanted to talk to him, to find out what was wrong.
He found Momiji hovering in the doorway as he went to leave.
“Are you all right?” He asked the jittery young rabbit.
“Ja. I saw Ayame-san earlier, with Shigure-san and Yuki-san. Is he all right?”
“Why do you ask?”
“He was being guided by Gure-san, he didn’t seem to know where to put his feet.”
“Did anyone else see them?” Hatori asked, alarmed. The last thing he needed was word getting back to Akito that Ayame was even more vulnerable than normal.
“I don’t think so, they were on a path through the woods to the lake.”
Hatori breathed a sigh of relief, at least Shigure had had the sense to take him somewhere away from the main house.
“Ayame was hurt, Momiji, he can’t see right now, that’s why Shigure and Yuki were with him. You mustn’t tell anyone what you saw.”
“I already told Haru, he told me to ask you. He also said we shouldn’t tell anyone.”
“Good, thank you.”
“So, will Ayame-san be all right?”
“I hope so. Do you need a ride home? I have to get back so that Shigure and Yuki can leave.”
“No, thank you. Haru and I are going into town for a burger.”
Momiji left, and Hatori quickly headed for home.
Shigure was sitting on the sofa with Ayame when Hatori got in, Yuki having already left to go home. Ayame was curled sleepily into Shigure’s side, his head resting on the Dog’s shoulder.
“Hello you two, did you have a good day?” He asked, shooting a glare at Shigure, who had the grace to look faintly apologetic. He knew he should have mentioned to Hatori that he intended taking Ayame out of the house.
“Hello Tori-san. We went for a walk to the lake.” Ayame said with forced cheer, sitting up.
“Well, I’d better head for home, make sure Kyo and Yuki aren’t wrecking the place again.” Shigure said, getting up.
“Thank you. Gure-san. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Ayame said with a tiny smile. Shigure leaned down and kissed the top of his head lightly.
“Good night, Aaya-chan.”
“I can’t believe you took him out of the house,” Hatori said to his friend in irritation when they reached the front door.
“He can’t stay cooped up inside all the time, Haa-san.”
“You were seen, Shigure, he was seen.”
“Momiji caught me before I left work, asked me about him. He told Haru, who sent him to me. What if it had been someone else Shigure? What if you had been seen by someone who would report back to Akito, instead of talking to me? Do you have any idea what Akito could do to him right now, how easy it would be to ‘accidentally’ kill Ayame?”
“I know. You would never deliberately endanger him, you care about him. You just need to take a little more care right now, take him out of the area completely if you want to take him out of the house.”
Shigure nodded and started down the path, then he hesitated, and turned back.
“Yuki arrived before me this morning, he said Aaya was upset.”
“I know, I’m going to talk to him tonight, see if I can get him to tell me what’s on his mind.”
“Haa-san, if he were to say something you maybe didn’t like, you wouldn’t……” Shigure trailed off, wondering how to say it without saying something Ayame might not want revealing just now.
“I can’t imagine there is anything he could say that would make me react badly to him, Shigure. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Ayame was still sitting where they had left him when Hatori went back to the sitting room. Hatori sat rested a hand on his shoulder, making him jump a little.
“I’m going to put dinner on, do you want to stay here, or come and keep me company in the kitchen.”
“I’ll come to the kitchen.”
“Ok, and then after we have eaten, I thought that maybe you and I could talk for a while.”
“About what was upsetting you this morning.”
“I’m not sure you really want to talk about that,” Ayame said, tensing slightly.
“Maybe, but I think it is something you need to talk about, so I will listen. I care about you Ayame, and I don’t like to see you hurting like this.”
Ayame managed to reign in the bitter response that nearly escaped him then, telling Hatori that he didn’t normally notice how much he was hurting would not make the conversation they were going to be having any easier to have.
Dinner was eaten in silence, Ayame trying to marshal his scattered thoughts, to work out if he really could tell his friend what he had been so determined this morning to tell him, and Hatori leaving him to it.
After dinner, back in the sitting room, Ayame curled up in the window seat, leaning against the chill glass, his head resting back against the wall. He felt the seat shift as Hatori sat on the other end, and shifted so that his bare feet were close enough to feel the heat of the other mans body, without touching him.
“Have you ever wondered, Hatori? Why I try so hard to give romance to everyone around me, while there is no romance in my own life.” Ayame asked, his voice soft, distant.
“Its something I’ve noticed recently, and yes, I have wondered.”
“I’ve been in love with one person, for more than half of my life. I’ve watched as they drifted away from me, enveloped in studies, and then painted on a smile when they told me they had met someone. Smiled when they told me they planned to marry, cried with them when it didn’t happen, watched them freeze in the eternal winter of loneliness, and through all this, they never noticed I was there.”
Hatori’s head snapped round so he could look at the younger man in the far corner of the window seat, he couldn’t be saying…he couldn’t mean. Hatori thought back, capturing the memory of telling Shigure and Ayame about meeting Kana, Ayame’s smile not quite making it into the golden eyes, and Shigure’s worried look at the younger man. The same expressions echoed again, months later, when he told them of his plans to ask permission to marry her.
“Oh God, Ayame.” He saw the snake flinch and start to pull away, and without thinking, reached out to catch one slender ankle to stop him.
“Don’t. I always knew you were there, Ayame, I just never noticed you had your heart on your sleeve. I must have hurt you so much.”
“I could take the pain, anything to be close to you. The thought of losing you hurt more, so I said nothing, tried to be just your friend.”
“Aaya, even if I could never be what you wanted me to be, I would never reject you over your feelings, you do know that, right?”
“I wasn’t sure. I’ve been in love with you since I was fourteen Tori, I had no idea what to do about it. There were two people I trusted to ask for advice, and one of them was the source of the problem.”
“So Shigure told you to say nothing, and he’s been saying it ever since?” Hatori asked. Ayame must have picked up the anger in his voice, and he turned his face toward him.
“Don’t be angry at him, please. When it started, he thought it was another one of my flights of fancy, a whim that would pass as quickly as it came. He didn’t want me to ruin our friendship over it. Then you met her, and that kind of indicated that you wouldn’t feel the same way I did, and after Akito destroyed that relationship, you started to close yourself off. All the time, it seemed better to be there for you as a friend, instead of telling you something that would spoil that.”
Hatori’s thumb idly moved over the thin ankle as he studied the miserable looking man across from him. He thought about running his fingers through the silk of his hair over the last few days, holding him when he cried, and his own head thudded back against the window frame. He wondered when exactly he had fallen in love with Ayame.
Ayame curled up again when Hatori released his ankle, but when he got up, Hatori didn’t walk away. Strong hands gently turned Ayame round, and a light grip on his jaw tilted his head back.
“Shigure was wrong.” He said firmly.
Golden eyes widened in shock when Hatori kissed him, then drifted shut as he leaned into the warm body in front of him, tilting his head as he wrapped his arms around Hatori. He felt the tentative brush of a tongue over his lips, and opened his mouth to let it in, allowing Hatori to set the pace.