[Author's note: This is set previous to the original WK TV series, sometime just before Aya shows up. No real spoilers, I think. Please see my disclaimer page for copyright information.]
WarmthA Weiss Kreuz fanfic
By Natalie Baan
They were on the bed when it happened.
They'd been looking over photographs for the upcoming mission, a whole series of their targets and various security people, putting identities to faces and trying to determine, from the positioning of the bodyguards in the crowd shots, who was likely to be where in an ambush, as well as speculating about what hidden weapons they might be carrying. Ken was on his stomach, chin propped on one hand for a better view of the pictures, while Omi alternately sat or sprawled next to him, shifting back and forth between the photo spread and the laptop purring at the foot of the mattress. It was kind of odd to have Weiss-work invading his room, Ken thought, but it was certainly more comfortable than hovering over Omi's shoulder in the Underworld. Omi had been quiet for a while, answering Ken's comments on the people only briefly, leading Ken to believe he was deep into fact-checking something on the laptop. So Ken was surprised when Omi reached over and laid one hand on his arm.
He started, of course. Nothing had telegraphed the motion, and he read it at first as a warning, intended to call his attention to something. He glanced at Omi, but Omi wasn't looking at the computer or at the pictures. Omi was just gazing down at where his hand rested on Ken's forearm, his expression thoughtful--not Omi's usual thinking look, full of bright intensity and active, darting ideas like a birds gathering up into a flock, all whirling together and finding a new direction in a wingflick , but instead one that was oddly still. Omi's eyes were half-lidded; he seemed pensive, almost grave. Ken looked down again, wondering uneasily what was up. Omi's fingers and palm curved slightly around his bicep, exerting a light pressure on his skin. They were firm and smooth, their contact steady, giving no indication that they were going to be moving any time soon.
"What?" he asked at last, his voice low.
"Nothing." Omi's answer was equally quiet, his tone matter-of-fact. His hand lifted at once, and he began shuffling the photographs together. "I think that's a start. I'll just want to run these by Youji-kun, too--he has a good eye, and maybe he can confirm for us that those really are concealed holsters." A part of Ken grumbled at the thought of Omi letting that guy play the expert for them--so what if he'd been some hotshot detective before joining Weiss?--but he said nothing. Sweeping the pictures into their envelope, Omi closed the laptop and dropped the envelope on top of it, then scooched himself off Ken's bed, picked up his stuff, and headed for the door He gave Ken a cheerful smile as he left, seeming completely normal. "See you, Ken-kun!"
The door closed, and Ken stared at it, puzzled and disquieted. The skin of his arm almost seemed to tingle, as though still feeling Omi's touch.
It bothered him, though he tried to get away from thinking about it. He went on about his evening, ate dinner, watched some mindless TV, slept and woke early, went for a long run and workout, then showered to get ready for his shift. He saw Omi at times--how not to, when they lived in the same building?--and absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happened, although a back corner of his mind remained braced for the possibility of strangeness. That uncertainty kept him from relaxing. Every so often, too, even when Omi wasn't around, his thoughts would flash back onto Omi's hand on his arm, and he'd feel an almost physical itch, nearly a burning, as the memory unsettled him all over again.
He was being an idiot, he told himself firmly as he toweled his hair dry after his shower. Who the hell would get so worked up over something so dumb? It wasn't like being touched by other people even disturbed him. Back in J-League, he'd been tackled, glomped, hugged, wrestled, dog-piled, and sometimes picked up and carried on a daily basis, and it had all been totally normal. Even now, Youji would sometimes drape a careless arm around his shoulders, and that didn't really bug him, even if he still wasn't a hundred percent convinced that Youji wasn't gay. It annoyed him more when Youji played games with Omi, poking at him, teasing him in a way that shaded dangerously close to flirting--the kid was only fourteen, for crying out loud! Ken was seriously ready to punch Youji if that kind of thing ever started getting out of hand, although Omi seemed more bemused than upset by it, at least so far.
But then, what Omi really thought....
Ken paused, a tiny chill prickling down his spine. It had only been a touch, after all. It was no big deal. But the abruptness of it, the deliberate way it had lingered, that was what had him off balance. He didn't know what Omi had been thinking then either, and for some reason that not-knowing niggled at him, as though he /should/ know--it was like having the persistent feeling that he'd forgotten to do something important in the shop but not being able to remember what it was, a constant, low-key "argh" of uneasy frustration. In the shop, he'd be uneasy because Omi would inevitably figure out what he hadn't done and then would get after him about it. That Omi was staying silent in this case didn't make him feel better. It was like he was waiting for that hammer to come down, and he didn't know if it ever would or if it would just stay hanging over him forever.
With a faint scowl, Ken stared at the bare skin of his forearm.
What /was/ Omi hiding behind that smile?
"Thank you for coming! I'm sorry, we have to close now!" Omi's voice was a bright singsong as he herded the last customers toward the door. "Have a nice day! And please, come back again!"/And buy something the next time,/ Ken thought sourly. This little group of high school girls had started hanging out around the shop, watching them and giggling. Ken found it disconcerting. They were all his age or older, but the way his life had gone--first J-League, then the setup that had destroyed his career, and now the kind of work he'd fallen into--it was like they were from a completely different planet. He didn't really know how to relate to them. Omi finally coaxed the last of the girls out the door, and Ken slid down the shutter on a chorus of high-pitched, laughing goodbyes. They both let out a long sigh of relief as the girls went chattering off along the sidewalk. Then Omi turned and padded briskly toward the back of the room. "Ken-kun, do you want to start cleaning up? I'll help you as soon as I close out the register." "Uh-huh." Ken began moving the buckets of cut-flower specials that had been on display outside from the floor next to the entrance, where they'd been hastily deposited, to the refrigerator. He'd sort through the stems tomorrow; at least some should be good for another day. Omi had taken the drawer out of the register and brought it and the order book to the table, where there was more room to spread out. The two of them would probably have to do all the closing themselves, because Youji was out on deliveries and would almost certainly be late getting back--and they'd opened together, too, before Omi'd had to make a mad dash to get to school, because Youji had overslept and then was slow getting out of the shower. Not that he had anyplace better to be, Ken thought morosely, but they really needed to manage the shifts better. That or kick Youji's ass, which was admittedly very tempting. He cleaned the cutting counter, then put the small potted plants there and the larger ones on the floor in the display window. With everything off the main floor, he could sweep, although he should probably wipe the table down first. He glanced at Omi, who for once wasn't grumbling over the books. Were they actually coming out right? Omi looked up, noticing the attention, and gave Ken a little smile before going back to what he was doing. That smile again. It was too deliberately, soothingly normal. It was like the way Omi had been very scrupulous about Ken's personal space, both in the morning and after getting back from school--not blatantly so, but it was obvious enough, now that Ken's mind had twitched back to thinking about that, and his idling unease suddenly revved again, making him tense. If Omi was trying to reassure him, then Omi knew he'd put the wind up Ken, which meant that there /was/ something going on...didn't it? Biting his lip, Ken fidgeted a half step closer to the table. "Um...." "Are you done there, Ken-kun? Sorry--I've just finished, so let me get this out of your way." Omi gathered up the drawer and order book and took them from the table. As Omi started putting those things away, Ken stared down at the table top. He ought to be getting the sponge. "Say, uh, Omi?" Omi made a small, half-attentive listening noise, seeming not to notice the way Ken's voice had scaled up at the end. Or maybe Omi had noticed and was just politely not saying anything. Damn it, this was stupid--he couldn't stand to keep second-guessing this way. Ken cleared his throat, then blurted the first thing that came to his mind. "Uh, are you gay?" "G--" Omi whipped his head around and stared at Ken, his eyes huge and shocked. "O- of course not!" he stuttered. Bright spots of color burned on his cheeks; he whirled to huddle over the register again, his back to Ken. "Oh. Sorry." Ken's face felt as hot as Omi's had looked. He was suddenly, intensely glad that Youji wasn't there--if the guy'd had a chance to hear Ken's latest exercise in smoothness, he'd never have stopped laughing. At the moment, though, what was more important was that he'd obviously messed up completely with Omi. He tried to backpedal. "I didn't--I mean, it isn't--" "No." Omi's voice was quiet and surprisingly calm, almost gentle, even as he cut Ken off. Ken stared at him as he straightened once more, a small, upright figure standing by the register, one hand resting lightly on its curved face. "It's all right." "If you were, I mean, that'd be okay." Damn it, he just kept digging himself in deeper. While the sentiment was true, it didn't help at all if Omi was upset because he thought Ken thought he'd been acting gay--which Omi hadn't been, not really. How could they get /that/ mess straightened out? "It's just--" "No, I get it." There was a hint of laughter in Omi's words, a twinge of rueful amusement that somehow struck Ken to the heart. "I can see that it might have looked like--but no, really, that wasn't it. It's just--" Turning his head to one side, Omi gazed off into a corner of the room. "You know, we were working up there, and at one point I was looking at you, and I thought--I just wondered--" He faltered, wrapped his arms around himself. "I wondered what it would feel like," he said, his voice gone very quiet. "I wondered...if your skin would feel warm." He ducked his head, his voice even softer as he added, "It's silly, isn't it?" "Omi...." Ken found that he'd taken a couple of steps along the side of the table, toward his teammate. Suddenly Omi tossed his head back, blew out a breath that fluttered his bangs, and smiled. "So, yeah," he said. "Anyway, Ken-kun, let me help you finish with the cleaning. It's not fair if you have to do it all yourself." Turning from Ken, Omi headed for the corner closet, probably to get the broom. In several quick strides, Ken had come around the table and caught up with him. A hand on Omi's shoulder stopped him, and then Ken wrapped both arms around him from behind. Omi started, going stiff with alarm. "K-Ken-kun!" "'S okay." Pulling Omi back against him, Ken just held the boy close, feeling Omi's solidity, his awkwardness, the stirring of their bodies as they breathed. He rested his cheek on Omi's hair. After a few moments, Omi began relaxing into the hug, at first just a little, then a greater yielding, a deeper, sighing breath as he turned his face against Ken's shoulder. "Thank you," Omi murmured. They stood like that, then, in the comfort of holding and being held. Just a simple hug between two friends. God, Ken thought, how he'd missed it. This trust. This give and take. With Youji, it wasn't there yet, if it ever would be--it wasn't the same. Omi's hand was on his arm, like before: the warmth of that human touch, something rare for him now, dead man, assassin, and white hunter. That was why he hadn't been able to forget it.
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