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"I'm tired of emotions
They bore me with distortions
They cut me, saying 'Fuck me'
Wipe them all away
Now let me see through eyes made of stone..."
-- Front 242

Last week, on Friday night, he had been curled up in bed with his youngest teammate, naked, talking softly of matters both serious and inconsequential while trading touch and kiss, happy in some quiet, contented way he could not put his finger on. Last week, on Friday night, he had not been thinking of anything other than his young lover and the gentle, almost dream-like time they spent together. Last week, on Friday night, he had been happy.

Last week, on Friday night, his teammate had been Tsukiyono Omi, and not Takatori Mamoru.

It had been on Sunday that the truth had come out, and Aya -- Ran -- whomever he was -- had felt the bands of iron slide around his heart and squeeze until he thought he might choke. Omi -- Mamoru -- had been shaking while holding the gun on his teammates, but the aim was true. Ran could still hear the anguished cry of "He's -- he's my brother," could still hear the sobs that followed it. Part of him had wanted to go to Omi, to gather his lover into his arms and hold him, despite what the others might think. Part of him had wanted to offer that comfort, wanted to let Omi know that it was all right, that he didn't need to worry.

All that the rest of him could hear was "Takatori".

It had been on Monday when Omi had knocked on his door, at about the time that he usually did, to find out if Aya hated him. He'd heard the words from his own lips a second before they fell, could feel Omi jerk in response before turning and leaving on quick and silent feet. Part of him hated himself for what he'd said, what he'd done; he knew that Omi's eyes were shining with the tears he refused to give into, and part of him curled in on itself and cried with him. The rest of him was cased in those iron bands.

Don't feel, Ran. Don't hurt. Don't reach out. Don't feel, because if you can't feel, you can't get hurt, and if you hurt others, well, they let themselves be hurt.

Don't think about Omi. Mamoru. Don't.

Friday came back too fast.

He paced the length of his room, feeling the walls pressing in on him, feeling the weight of the others in the building, feeling the weight of him. Finally, impatiently, with a snarl on his face that would startle him if he were to see it in a mirror, he picked up his leather jacket and slung it around his shoulders, stuffing his hands violently into the pockets and striding out of the building. He would go to the hospital. He would see Aya-chan. He would remind himself why he was there, why he was a murderer, why he did all of this: for her.

Halfway down the street, he realized that he was going the wrong way. His feet, apparently, knew where he was really going more than his mind did. He hadn't let himself consciously think about it, not once, but he apparently hadn't had to. Snarling a little more, he picked the pack of cigarettes -- filched from Youji, who had bitterly complained about losing them and wondered where he could have left them -- out of his pocket, lighting up one and coughing with the rasp of someone who hasn't smoked in longer than he'd care to think about.

Eight forty-five. Eight months. Friday. It was Friday.

He hated himself. But he kept walking.

And there, waiting -- on the same park bench that he'd waited on that last Friday, eight months ago -- was his old teammate. The other lover, the first one. Knight sat with his arms crossed, legs spread wide, an expression of weariness and boredom on his face. Ran almost drew up short at that look, but the footsteps had already drawn the other man's attention, and a smile -- so familiar, so angry and yet pleased at the same time -- curved his lips. "You're early, Ran. It's only eight forty-five." Ran winced at the tone. "Eight months late, but at least you made it fifteen minutes early tonight."

Ran stopped several feet shy of Knight, not precisely looking at him, but not quite looking away, either. He could feel his own shoulders tense and taut beneath the black leather, and knew that his body was leaner than it had been eight months ago, thinner and more whipcord-tense. Some small part of him wondered what Knight would think of the changes. If Knight would think of the changes.

It was a long moment before he spoke. "I wasn't going to come." He took another drag off the cigarette, feeling the sudden heat as tobacco came too close to filter, and dropped it, stepping it out. "I didn't know if you'd be here or not." He forced his voice flat, cool, distant. Don't feel, Ran. Don't feel.

The agreement had been simple at first. They would work together all week, sniping at each other, arguing violently -- if relatively good-naturedly -- about anything under the sun. And Friday nights would be theirs -- the one time of the week when he didn't have to think of his sister, his revenge, his father's talk of perversion. Knight had set out to draw the badly-hurt eighteen-year-old out of his shell, and had mostly succeeded. When Ran had changed teams, the agreement held, albeit refined: they would meet, once a week, every Friday. No strings, no attachments; if the other had not shown by nine-thirty, the first was free to go, with no hard feelings. The weekly respite had been all that had gotten Ran through those tumultuous first months with Weiss.

And then ... Omi. Mamoru.

Knight looked up at him, squinting against the back-lit glow of the streetlamp. "Nice to see you still remember the script," he sneered, cheerily. "I've been here, Ran. Not every week, but close enough." There was anger there; that much was plain. Anger, and a sense of betrayal. "You know, I went to Krikiter to see if you'd died?"

"No. I didn't know." He closed his eyes. "Manx never told us." Pause. "I'm sorry I never contacted you." This was the Ran that Knight had first known; the one that Knight had shoved aside to discover the man underneath. The one who didn't want to feel anything. The one who couldn't be hurt, and if he was, he bled ice.

As defenses went, it was fairly effective. Certainly Knight didn't appear to be able to see through it (but Knight always saw through it, the little voice whispered in his head; Knight always knows); he laughed, a quick bitter sound, and then rose to his feet. He crossed the space between them to stand uncomfortably close to Ran: too close, too tall, too near. Ran had to fight the urge to take a step back. "Are we going, then?"

Ran tipped his head back up to meet Knight's eyes, quietly resenting the other man's height advantage. He should leave; he knew that much. He should at least insist that they stay in the park longer, until Knight's anger cooled, or suggest that they go and get something to eat, to talk about the intervening months. He knew what would happen if he said yes. And part of him thought that it was all he deserved. "Are we?" he asked, lowly.

A single muscle twitched in Knight's jaw, subtly. "Unless you just came tonight to tell me to get a new date for Friday nights." His eyes narrowed. "In which case, you could have had the courtesy of saying something eight months ago instead of leaving me to think that you'd been killed or something."

A moment of that piercing eye contact was more than Ran could handle, and he looked away, unable to face the anger that he saw there. It had been easy to justify staying away for so long to himself -- easier by far than telling Knight that he'd found another relationship. Faced with the anger his actions had produced, he felt smaller, more ashamed. Fishing another cigarette out of the pocket of his trenchcoat gave him something to do. "No." It was quiet, too quiet; he wasn't sure if Knight even heard him. "I didn't."

Knight snatched the cigarette out of Ran's mouth and broke it in half before Ran could even think of fishing for his lighter. The action brought old memories to life; Knight had been the one to make him quit the first time the eighteen-year-old desperately trying to be more adult had taken up the habit. Eyes still narrowed, Knight grabbed Ran's wrist, holding it with bone-crushing tightness. "Then we're going. Come on."

Ran's chin came up again; he could feel the flash of anger overlaying the ice in his eyes. He dropped the pack back into his pocket, meeting Knight's eyes again, steadily. If that was how Knight wanted to play it, fine. It was pretty much what he deserved, after all. He didn't say a word, didn't move; though the hand of the wrist that Knight was holding tensed, slowly, into a fist. Reflexes were so hard to overcome.

Knight pulled on Ran's wrist, sharply, dragging Ran along. His strides were long on the old, familiar path to his apartment, and he didn't look back over his shoulder, didn't loosen his grip, though Ran made no attempt to do anything but follow. Ran felt something closely akin to gratitude for that respite. It was almost easier when someone else made the decisions, when someone else called the shots, and it was for that reason -- despite what it cost him in pride, despite what instincts told him, despite everything -- that he did not struggle. Half a step behind Knight the entire time, knowing that at any time he could break free and end this little charade, he didn't speak any more than Knight did.

The walk to Knight's apartment had never been longer.

Knight let go of Ran only to unlock the door, graciously opening it and bowing with a little sweeping gesture for Ran to enter first. "Everything should be just as you remembered it." Ran hesitated, just barely, before stepping through the door; subtly, hoping it would not be noticed, he twisted his wrist sharply to crack it. It hurt, but he welcomed the pain.

He didn't say anything, just slipped out of his trenchcoat, tossing it on a nearby chair. The room was dark. He knew where the light was, knew these rooms about as well as he knew his own, but he didn't want to have to look at Knight. Didn't want to see the anger in his friend's eyes.

The first touch of a hand on his shoulder was almost gentle, until the hand tightened and turned him; Knight glared at him through narrowed eyes for a second before slamming him to the wall and kissing him roughly. Ran didn't fight the kiss. He half-leaned into it, teeth and roughness and all; his hands rested flat against the wall for a second, then curled into fists. The kiss held only the smallest amounts of affection. Finally, Knight pulled back and demanded, "So where the fuck have you been for eight months?"

Ran lifted the back of one hand to his lips -- not to wipe away the taste of Knight's lips, a taste that was familiar and close to welcome -- but to press against lips he knew were already beginning to swell. "Busy," he said, harshly, leaning his head back against the wall and closing his eyes. He didn't want to think about the last eight months. He'd come here to forget about them in the first place.

Knight put the palms of his hands flat against the wall, on opposite sides of Ran's head; Ran fought the feeling of being cornered. "Busy? With what?" He snorted, faintly. "Or is it 'with whom'?"

Cold, distant, ice. It had to be. If it wasn't, he would break, and once he broke, he wouldn't be able to piece himself back together. "With someone I just found out is the son of my worst enemy in the world."

Knight's eyebrows raised; Ran could feel genuine surprise radiating from him. "You're telling me you were fucking one of the Takatori brats for eight months?" The tone was disbelieving, and Knight laughed, just a little. "You fucked me over for one of them?"

Now, the anger flared into life. "We didn't know," Ran hissed, stung into defending himself. "He didn't know."

Almost thoughtfully, Knight looked into Ran's eyes for a long moment; once more, Ran had to fight the urge to drop his own. "Must have been pretty special to keep your attention for so long."

Don't feel, Ran. Don't feel. No matter how much the thought hurts. "It's over."

"Because now you know he's a Takatori." Knight always had been able to hear the unspoken reasons behind what Ran actually said. "Nice to know you think I'm a preferable alternative."

"I wasn't going to come," Ran said, slowly. Trying to convince himself.

"But you did. And now you're here. And it's the old question, Ran: What do you want?"

He knew that the eyes that opened and met Knight's were a horrible mixture of cold and anguished. "I don't know."

Knight leaned a little closer, bringing them almost nose to nose; he was close enough for Ran to feel the heat of his body. "Well, we could chat about what we've been up to in the last eight months," he said, lightly. "Or you could tell me all about your little Takatori. Or we could fuck."

So close. So familiar. Ran lifted his hands to Knight's chest, feeling the hard splay of muscle beneath his fingertips, for a moment the gesture almost tender. And then, feeling the anger rise again, giving in to it just that little bit, he shoved -- hard, the kind of unbalancing shove backed by emotion and fueled by a temporary rage. Knight stumbled backwards as Ran hissed, "Don't call him that."

The look that Knight gave him was almost startled, before it was replaced by a sneer of anger. He found his balance again and shoves Ran back against the wall, pinning him hard. "What else am I supposed to call him?" he asked, nearly growling. "That's all you've told me about him. That's why you're fucking here, isn't it? Because he's a Takatori, you can't handle it, and you'd rather fuck me than him."

~Goddamn it, you know he can read you like a book.~ Ran fought hard to keep his temper, knowing the struggle was playing out over his face. ~He's your friend.~ The urge to hurt was rising; he fought it. ~You can't afford friends.~ "I shouldn't have come." His voice rasped between them.

"Oh, fuck that, Ran, if you didn't want to be here, you wouldn't have come," Knight hissed. "Fuck, I can still see right through all of your iceman bullshit. Yeah, you're here because you're scared." He laughed a little and forced Ran's shoulders more tightly against the wall. "Whoever your little Takatori is, he must have been something to keep you occupied for so long, and now you're scared that you'll treat him like a human being or something even though he's a Takatori, because if you do, well, fuck, you're screwing over Aya." He leaned back close again. "Did you come here to get some honesty? Someone to tell you what the fuck you're doing? Don't any of them know how to get past all that ice?"

Ran lifted his hands to Knight's shoulders, as if to shove again; he stopped himself with a force of will, simply curling his fingers around those shoulders, and hissed, softly, "I don't know."

Maybe Knight heard the fear that backed those simple syllables; he drew in a hissing breath through his teeth. He opened his mouth, as if to launch into another tirade, but all that came forth is, "Fuck you." And then he pressed close to Ran, lips crushing against his, the weight of his body pinning Ran to the wall.

Ran knew that he could get free, if he wanted to. He could get free and turn around and leave and never come back again, never feel again, never be anything other than ice and distance. But he didn't. He rested his head back against the wall, closed his eyes, and kissed back. Trying not to think of gentler lips. Welcoming the roughness. Knight's teeth tugged at his lips and bit at his tongue; a crushing force, enough to bruise lips and leave them reddened. After an eternity that was still somehow too short, he pulled back, glaring at Ran as he caught his breath. "I know /one/ thing you want," he growled, then grabbed a fistful of Ran's shirt in one hand to pull him roughly towards the bedroom.

His balance disturbed, not quite able to get it back, Ran stumbled along behind Knight. One hand rose again to press against his lips, wondering what bruises he would leave here with, wondering what the hell he was doing. Trying not to think about it. Trying not to feel.

Knight pulled Ran into his bedroom, giving him another seconds-long glare, then pushed him hard back onto the bed. He stared down for a moment longer, jaw tensed; Ran could feel his cheeks begin to flame, but didn't move to protest, to protest any of it. Knight pulled his shirt off over his head, tossing it aside. He moved quickly to pin Ran to the bed, broader thighs enclosing slim hips, and kissed him again, this time biting at his lip hard enough to draw blood.

Ran made a little involuntary noise as Knight bit him; not quite a complaint, not quite a protest, but something along those lines. He wasn't even certain himself what the noise signified. ~Not so rough,~ he thought, but did not say. Somewhere deep inside, he knew that this was what he wanted, it was what he deserved, it was all he deserved. His hands hesitated for a moment, and then fell to Knight's sides, feeling the heat and barely restrained anger. ~I hurt him.~ And it wasn't precisely clear, not even to himself, what "him" he meant.

The dull copper-and-iron taste of blood exploded on Ran's tongue as Knight suckled on his lip. Hands clenched in the fabric of Ran's shirt and began to pull it upwards; Knight drew back from the kiss with a rough smacking sound to pull the garment over Ran's head, with the faint popping sound that spoke of torn stitches. "Miss this, Ran?" he growled as he dropped his head to bite hard at Ran's throat, sucking hard enough to leave marks. "Did you?"

"No." Ran's voice was rough as he tipped his head backwards against the bed, eyes shut. "Yes. I don't know." His hands clenched mutely against Knight's side.

Knight laughed, the sound pitching upwards to something shrill and harsh. "Some things never fucking change, do they, doll?" He bit hard at Ran's collarbone, working his way downward, and Ran could feel the marks already forming against pale flesh. Knight's fingers made quick work of Ran's belt and unfastened his pants, beginning to yank them downwards.

"Did you expect them to?" Ran asked, bitterly, his eyes shut tightly against the assault on his senses. He shifted, a little, to make Knight's undressing him a little easier, and roughly dug his nails into Knight's back, wanting to tear, to rend, to hurt. And not wanting anything of the sort, at the same time.

"Maybe you could have gotten older and wiser," Knight growled against Ran's skin as he yanked off his pants, tugging underwear down with them. "Or maybe your Takatori could have changed your ways." Ran tensed at the mention of Omi, willing the guilt away sharply. "Anything could have happened." Knight bit hard at one of Ran's nipples as he worked open his own pants, tossing them over his shoulder and not caring where they landed.

Ran responded only by tangling his hand into Knight's hair, yanking his head back sharply. ~Too much,~ he thought, fuzzily. His other hand fumbled between them, finding one of Knight's nipples, pinching hard. Knight let out a short, sharp cry and bit harder at Ran's nipple, tugging on it roughly. He knocked Ran's hand away from his body, pinning it to the bed. His other hand lifted to Ran's mouth, palm resting against lips as though to muffle him.

The command was simple, terse, direct. "Lick." Ran knew exactly what Knight wanted, exactly what Knight planned. One part of him protested sharply, and his cheeks flamed into full bloom, but he obeyed. They'd gone too far to turn back.

"Thank you," Knight responded, cool politeness a mockery. He pulled his hand away from Ran's mouth, wrapping it around his cock, stroking quickly. Ran closed his eyes again; despite the tense emotion building, the emotions that were not precisely pain or fear or anger but somehow shared elements of all three, his body still reacted to the sight. He felt Knight's hands rough against his own legs, pulling them upwards, draping them over Knight's thighs; fingers bit into the curve of Ran's hips, with a strength that would leave dusky bruises. A sharp growl -- frustration, anger, arousal -- and Knight pushed into him. Fast. Hard. Painful.

Ran did not cry out at the pain as it knifed through him, spreading from his gut through his body. He turned his head to one side, cheek pressed against the pillow, eyes closed, breath ragged and halfway on its way towards being a sob. It wasn't the pain; he'd felt worse. It was the shame, as Knight let his weight drop down on top of Ran, pinning him with heaviness and heat. "Is this what you want?" he hissed against Ran's ear as one hand loosed its grip on Ran's hip, sliding between their joined bodies to stroke Ran's cock, roughly. "Is this what you came here for?"

His answer was not in words; his only response was another little gasp as his hips rise to meet Knight's thrust. It hurt. Oh, it hurt. But with every bit of pain, he was reminded again that he should not try to feel.

He bit down on his lip, tasted blood, and once more dug his nails into Knight's back.

"Did he fuck you like this?" The rough sound of skin slapping against skin with each rapid thrust. "Did your Takatori give you this?" The hand on Ran's cock squeezed roughly, almost painfully, just as painfully as everything else. Ran's eyes remained tightly shut; even if Knight were not talking, he could not have pretended that Knight were Omi. Omi had never touched him like this, never touched him with anything less than utter care.

"No," he gritted out from between clenched teeth, "he didn't. And that's why I stayed with him."

"Fuck you," Knight growled again, dropping his head down to bite hard at Ran's neck. "Fuck you." The last words broke off into a groan as his hips pumped faster; sweat began to bead on his brow, worked its way down the side of his face.

Ran dragged his nails up Knight's back, hard, not caring. Not caring. Not, dammit, caring. "You -- already are."

Knight arched back into Ran's nails, tossing his head backwards. His face was a rictus that could be a sickly grin, could be a grimace, but either way was simply a great deal of teeth bared in an expression that Ran knew even through the haze of pain and sensation was far from pleasant. "Yes," Knight hissed, although perhaps not as an response to Ran.

He thrust once, twice, and then again, hard, then cried out as he came inside of Ran. When he was spent, he pulled out of and away from Ran, slumping onto his back on the bed and staring at the ceiling. Leaving Ran arching backwards against the bed, just beginning to overcome the pain, just starting to want.

~No --! Ran stilled as Knight rolled over, biting back the cry. He refused to show the weakness, refused to show Knight his need. Half a second, and then he rolled over onto his side, curling up against himself. The shame threatened to choke him.

A few more seconds went by, and then Knight grabbed the edge of the blanket crumpled at the bottom of the bed, pulling it up over himself slightly. "Don't forget your coat when you leave." All Ran could hear was the disgust.

The sudden rage swept Ran along with it. By the time his vision cleared, he found himself on top of Knight, pinning him to the bed, one forearm over Knight's throat to restrict the flow of air. "Bitch," he hissed, and his voice in his own ears was not quite sane. "You're forgetting something, Knight." Letting his reflexes free, he fit one knee into the curve of Knight's hip, dangerously close to the other man's crotch, pressing down hard to keep Knight from struggling.

Knight struggled nonetheless, eyes bulging slightly as he fought for air against the relentless pressure on his windpipe. "What's that?" he managed to hiss out, as his hands lifted from the bed to paw at Ran's shoulders, trying to gain some purchase, to free himself.

"You may outweigh me," Ran growled back, slamming Knight back against the bed, ignoring the hands at his shoulders. He dropped his head down to Knight's shoulder, resting cheek against cheek in a gruesome parody of tenderness. "But I've always been stronger than you are."

Knight turned his head to try and bite; his teeth skimmed over Ran's cheek, connecting sharply around his jaw. "Get off me, Ran," he rasped, the panic starting to thread through his voice. "Get the fuck off me."

He worked his hands under Ran's shoulders and tried to free himself by pushing Ran up and off; Ran responded only by leaning more weight on his forearm, depriving Knight of much-needed air. Grimly, he knocked the other's hands from his shoulders, wrestling them to the pillow and pinning them there with his free hand. The bite mark against his jaw flared into color and pain; he ignored it as inconsequential. "No," he said, and could be surprised at his own voice, so eerily calm. "How do you like it, Knight? How do you like being treated like that?"

Knight's struggle for air took most of the force out of his answer; the sound was more harsh gasping than words, and Ran could only guess at the vehemence behind them. His lips formed the word "No," along with the word "Stop."

With his hands pinned, all Knight could do was kick futilely at Ran's legs; Ran leaned more of his weight on the knee pinning Knight's hip, slipping dangerously close to the other man's cock, warning without words that this could get ugly very quickly. "No?" he hissed into Knight's ear, body pressed up against body, hot and furious. "Stop? I said that once, Yuuji. You didn't listen to me then. Why should I listen to you now?"

"Because I mean it, you fucker," Knight choked. "Let me breathe."

"How did you know that I didn't?" Old bitterness welled up and threatened to choke him even as he was choking Knight; he closed his teeth wetly on Knight's throat, his shoulder. "You said that I wanted it, Yuuji, and maybe I did, but does that change the fact that I told you to stop?" He eased the pressure on Knight's throat, just a bit, just enough to avoid serious danger of strangulation. "Why should I listen to you, when you didn't listen to me? Damn you, Yuuji..."

Knight gasped in air sharply, once, and then again; another breath and then he made a noise near a growl as he tried to launch his body off the mattress, pushing every muscle up against Ran. "Fuck you, Ran, this is different," he hisses. "You liked it."

Abruptly, Ran lifted his arm up off Knight's throat, letting him breathe "Maybe I did," he said, slowly. "Until tonight." He nipped at Knight's shoulder, sharply, teeth closing all too near to the veins in the neck. "And maybe I enjoyed tonight. And maybe you do know what I'm thinking. But fuck you if you think that you can just hurt me and not give me anything back for it and then throw me out of your room."

The sudden terror that crossed Knight's eyes left Ran feeling dizzy. "Ran, get off me, don't do it, I don't want this." He pronounced each of the words clearly and sharply, emphasizing each one as if uncertain if Ran understood. "Get off me, this isn't the same."

"Isn't it?" He pinched one of Knight's nipples, sharply. "You pushed me up against that wall and touched me until I wanted you to and then I pushed you back and said 'stop, Yuuji', and you laughed and you told me no." He wasn't talking about tonight anymore, and they both knew it. "You told me to stop denying it to myself. How am I supposed to know that you don't mean the same thing?"

Knight made a harsh noise that was hardly one of pleasure. "Because if you let my hands go, I'm going to punch you in the face." He twisted away from Ran's hands as much as he could. "Stop."

"That's not likely to make me let you go."

"Then what will?" Knight snarled, teeth snapping for skin again and missing.

~What the hell are you doing?~ The thought, sudden and clear, pierced through the ice and fury. Ran could feel the anger draining away, and try as he might, he couldn't hold on to it. Didn't want to hold on to it. His voice was a scant whisper as he said, "I don't know."

Abruptly, he let Knight go, rolling off of him and to his feet. He backed away from the bed, slowly -- remembering Knight's threat -- and then turned and left the room without a further word.

He was thankful for his nudity when the door of the bathroom slammed shut behind him; he was shaking so badly that he didn't think he could have fumbled with fastenings. Distantly, he could hear the front door of the apartment slam, and knew that Knight would not return that evening.

The hot water hurt against his injuries, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. Nothing he didn't deserve.

He huddled there on the floor of the shower for what felt like forever before he started to scrub his skin, as if trying to remove -- not Knight's touch, but whatever it was in him that had made him roll over and throw his arm against Knight's throat.

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