Music of My Soul

BY : ReadtoEscape
Category: Wei▀ Kreuz > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1187
Disclaimer: I dont own Weiss kreuz, Ran, Yohji, or any of the guys. I write/post for my own enjoyment. No profit is made. Well, except the stress relief of writing it, & the warm fuzzies I get if you like it. But as those are intangibles,


CHAPTER  13



 



The sound of Ran’s emergency ring tone penetrated his consciousness, jerking him from sleep. That tone, that was the hospital! As he shot upright in bed, Ran’s eyes were automatically drawn to the clock. 4:47 am. God! They’d never called at such an hour. Aya!



 



Ran dove for the bedside table, grabbing the phone. “This is Ran!” he gasped as he opened the phone.



 



“Mr. Fujimiya, this is Dr. Orton.” A deep voice responded. “I am calling about your sister, Ms. Fujimiya.”



 



“Is she ok?” Ran was as near to panic as he could remember being since Aya was hit by that truck. He couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe, god.....



 



“Mr. Fujimiya. Everything is fine. Well, more than fine, really. Relax. Take a deep breath. Your sister has awakened”



 



Ran’s gasp was loud, especially as it was followed by complete silence as Ran forgot to breathe again. It was a long moment, then “Mr. Fujimiya? Are you alright? Are you still there?”



 



“Did.... did you say.... Aya is.... awake?” Ran whispered. “Awake, awake? She.... knows who she is? She’s.... Aya?”



 



The doctor chuckled lightly. “Yes Mr. Fujimiya. She is awake. And yes, she knows who she is and who you are. The one she has asked for repeatedly for the last hour.”



 



“Hour!” Ran all but shouted. “she’s been awake for an hour?! And I am only now being called? Why?” by the end, Ran was very close to angry.



 



“Yes, an hour. We had to verify her cognitive function, as you are well aware. Under the terms of the Court order, we could not honor her desire to call you, rather than... her father, until we were able to determine her mental state.” The doctor paused. “as you know, I have been in charge of Aya’s care for more than a year now. I am well aware of where her .... best interests lay as to caregivers. I wanted to be certain before I called .... anyone.” The doctors voice was dark during this statement. He knew Ran’s care and devotion. Conversely, he knew where Aya stood with Persia. He didn’t care if it took until dawn to satisfy the Court’s specifications if it meant he could call Ran rather than Persia.



 



“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Ran almost panted. “Yes. Of course. I understand. She’s asked for me? She remembers me? She’s really awake... ok?” Ran was in a flurry searching for pants, his shoes, his keys.



 



“yes. She’s doing exceptionally well in fact. For a young woman in a coma for such a long period of time she exhibits miraculous muscle control. I attribute that to your diligence in caring for her, your ongoing range of motion therapies. She is naturally very weak, but that is quite to be expected and will improve with time. Has improved even in just the short time she has been alert. And while her physical strength may be depleted, her mental capacity is not in any way impaired. I am quite impressed, amazed really. I have prepared the necessary paperwork declaring her to be her own ward based on our conversation and her responses to the tests. She has asked only for you. Very insistent that no one be informed aside from you. It seems that she has some recollection of some of the events that have transpired while she was comatose. She recalls some of your conversation during your visits and will not discuss anything beyond my necessary questions until she speaks to you.”



 



“I’m on my way.” Ran assured the doctor as he made his way to the basement garage. “I’ll be there in 10 minutes. Tell her. Tell her I’m coming.” Ran’s agitation was obvious as he climbed into the car. He sat back, then took a deep breath. “doctor. Please, tell her..... tell her I am on my way.”



 



“don’t worry, I already have. I will see you in a little while Mr. Fujimiya.” The doctor disconnected the call.



 



Ran flopped back against the seat. He was so glad Miko was off visiting her mother for a week. He wouldn’t have to beg off any time with her. Ran had been able to say goodbye to Yohji last night, to take him to the airport during early hours this morning for his flight. To make love in their bed, and actually stay overnight, to sleep in sheets that smelled of Yohji for a change. What a time for Yohji to be away with WEISS in Canada.... He’d been so.... off lately.



 



Ran himself had spent a lot of weekends away himself lately between traveling and press appearances. God, what if she’d awoken while he was gone?



 



And he’d had to take Miko to that last so called business seminar, the couples themed one last month. After he’d promised Yohji that weekend too.... Then the trip for his and Miko’s first anniversary, which of course just had to be the one weekend WEISS was in New York.



 



Last night was the first time they’d spent together in almost two months..... He and Yohji had enjoyed the extra evening together last night. The hours alone, with Miko gone, they’d made love several times, but.... something just seemed..... different. Moreso than they had been lately. Yohji’d been distant even as they held each other....



 



He’d wanted to talk to Yohji, try to figure out what was going on in his, what was wrong, besides the obvious, but Yohji’d distracted him every time the conversation got too serious. Now Yohji was gone with WEISS for a special Friday / Saturday event just when Miko was finally away. Ran was supposed to meet him late tomorrow night at the bandss getaway cottage after they got back from the trip. The others had driven up in the van Thursday to setup. Yohji’d stayed for the time to be with Ran and caught a flight up. He would ride back with them to be dropped off at the cottage to spend some more time with Ran while she was gone.



 



They were to have Saturday night and all day Sunday together alone too before he had to go back to work Monday, when Persia returned to the offices,.... before Miko came back.



 



Ran had determined he was going to make Yohji talk to him during that alone time, to confront him about last month’s conversation with Schuldig, about the increased substance use, try to shake the melancholy.



 



He couldn’t do that now, not with Aya awake. And Yohji didn’t know, wasn’t here. God! She’s awake! Ran started to shake. He dropped his head in his hand at the red light, awake. He.... he could finally be with Yohji for good. Get rid of Miko! Persia had no hold....god! awake! And how incredibly perfect that Persia was away as well until Monday. Ran could have today alone with Aya, no Persia wanting to know why he wasn’t at the office, no Miko whining. If only Yohji were still here it would be perfect!



 



Ran got a grip enough to dial Yohji’s cell number, to tell him! Then cursed when he heard it ringing in the car! What? Oh damn! Yohji must have dropped it when Ran took him to the airport a few hours ago. Wait..... he .... he had to know he didn’t have it by now, the flight had landed, what, more than an hour ago now?.... why not have one of the guys call, or text,  let Ran know.....Well, maybe, maybe he figured Ran was sleeping *and he had been*, yeah, Yohji probably just planned to call Ran later this morning after getting some sleep himself...



 



They were working, putting on a show. He’d need some rest before things got started. Yeah. Yohji just probably planned to call later this morning. Great.... he wouldn’t be able to get through to Ran with him at the hospital.... Wait, what was the name of that hotel they were staying at? Hmmm.... Ah, The Tundra. Ran his listings and called. Speaking to the night clerk he left a message: “cannot come to the cottage tomorrow. Emergency has arisen here. Come home instead. Will explain all. Ran” He wanted to say Call Me, but knew it was likely calls would not get through......



 



Ran sighed. Yohji would be disappointed, but.... Ran would fix it, make everything right, just a few more days and all would be alright.  He realized he was pulling into the hospital parking lot completely on autopilot. God! Awake! Really awake, and .... herself, the doctor had said..... finally! All thoughts of anything not Aya flew from his mind and he began to tremble again.....



 



xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



 



Ran wove in and out of Monday morning rush hour traffic, anxious to get to the apartment. Aya was awake, safe. He still couldn’t believe it. He’d set everything up with the hospital just this morning. She was able to walk, with a walker for now, for safety, but at the rate she was getting her strength back that wouldn’t be for long. She had a cell phone at hand programmed to his. The hospital had strict orders to contact no one other than him, and Persia never inquired anyway. The court documents were notarized and filed under seal first thing this morning, with her wishes known that no notification be made without inquiry. Unless Persia specifically inquired at the hospital he would not know until Ran told him. The doctors could act under the authority granted under the provisions without having to contact Persia.



 



The doctor had requested Aya stay for three more days, to build her strength and make certain there was no relapse. She’d not only agreed, she’d insisted that she would be fine for a few days while he took care of explaining things to Miko and made things up to Yohji.



 



He’d told her everything that had happened while she was asleep. Everything. How he loved Yohji, what he’d been forced to endure from Ran because of Persia’s malice. The sham marriage, everything. She hadn’t hated Ran as he’d feared. She’d felt horrible to be held as a weapon against him, also as he’d worried, but he’d promised never to lie to her and couldn’t do so now.....



 



She’d told him she felt so loved and humbled by what he’d done to keep her safe, what he’d endured. She still loved him, and she was alert and safe. Persia couldn’t harm her now and Dr. Orton”d assured them no one would see her before the discharge. She wanted Ran and Yohji to have some time alone together so Ran could make it right and then finally, finally Yohji would meet her. On Thursday she’d be discharged to come home and she would come stay with them at their place. Ran would set up that empty room finally into the bedroom it was meant to be. Ran was sure Yohji would want her there too.



 



She’d insisted he take some alone time for him and Yohji, to devote time to Yohji for all he’d put him through this past year. Especially these last few months. He’d missed this special weekend with Yohji too, another weekend he promised  to Yohji. He’d tried to call Yohji at the hotel several times Friday and Saturday, but hadn’t been able to get through. By the time things calmed down at the hospital Friday afternoon, and he’d answered everything, filled out all the paperwork, made all the necessary calls, after he’d devoted the majority of the day itself to only Aya, Ran had fallen asleep at her bedside.



 



Then, Saturday, spent talking to her..... watching her laugh, her eyes light up when he brought her the chocolate and banana fudge sundae.... everything just running together, finally it had hit Ran very very late Saturday night as he watched her sleep a normal sleep, where she moved and murmured and... lived, it had hit him that Yohji had to be back by now.... Ran called the apartment, but it went to machine. Yohji must have gone home to one of the guys’ place tonight.... well.... it was too late now to call the condo. Surely they were all exhausted after such a long trip. Ran would call Omi in the morning tomorrow....



 



Then, Aya'd had a nightmare and awoken Sunday later morning crying, sobbing, scared to death that Ran had finally left her all alone and Persia'd locked her away for good. It had terrified Ran to see her so hysterical, it took quite some time to calm her and he’d demanded Dr. Orton. The doctor explained it was completely normal, and now that she’d worked her way through it, he doubted the hysteria would manifest again.... perfectly normal to experience some emotional trauma... and while she may have some dreams, she was lucid and able to comprehend. It would be fine.



 



Once everything was calm again, and they’d talked everything out, Ran realized it was almost dinner hour. .......   and he still hadn’t called Yohji..... Ran felt awful. To have forgotten something so so important as getting in touch with Yohji after cancelling Saturday. Even with this amazing wonderful thing of Aya being returned to him, to have forgotten Yohji, after everything else he had put him through..... He knew Yohji was pissed, wouldn’t call him.... he’d figured that out after the fifth or sixth message left for the clerk and she’d blurted, “look! I told him, he threw the message slip away, I saw him, he’s not gonna call ya, eh? Just leave it already”  Yes. Yohji was upset, rightfully so, and then... for Ran not to call most of Sunday either.... well.



 



He’d left another voice message on the machine at the apartment knowing Yohji had to be home by now, asking Yohji to please call his cell, he’d explain.... but he wasn’t sure if Yohji was there listening, smoking, glaring, or if he’d gone with the guys... He couldn’t bring himself to say it on the answering machine... it had to be in person.  Then Ran had finally fallen into an exhausted sleep with Aya combing his hair with her fingers, reassuring him he’d given up too much for everything not to come out right......



 



Now, finally this morning, he’d awoken, stiff, but resolved. He had  to talk to Yohji - today. And Aya’d understood. She was much more aware of herself, her psych much less fragile, and she’d demanded Ran go, now, and fix it.....



 



First Ran would make it right with Yohji, then.... well, then he’d have to explain to Miko. She didn’t deserve what was coming. The poor kid really loved him, bastard that he was, this was going to hurt her, but..... he felt for her, he’d make it as easy for her as he could, but it was over. She returned later this morning, but expected that he was at the office. He could confront her tonight, or tomorrow, it depended on Yohji now, what he wanted to do.....  And, finally, finally Ran could tell Persia to fuck off. He returned today as well.



 



But first, first he had to see Yohji, talk to him. He’d waited long enough. Yohji still hadn’t called Ran, not once. Of course, Yohji wouldn’t have thought to call the hospital. He’d never imagine Ran was with Aya. Why would he be? Yohji knew Ran’s normal hospital schedule and Friday night wasn’t on it, not for a while. Between Yohji and Miko, Ran’s Friday nights were either making press appearances or stealing time away with Yohji on those rare occasions that WEISS wasn’t performing.....



 



A small corner of Ran’s mind suggested maybe Yohji was mad at him enough to be ignoring his calls, messages, but no... even mad Yohji had never just ignored him like this. Ran had not told him in the messages that Aya was awake. Only that he could explain everything and Yohji would understand when they talked, to please call as soon as he could so Ran could explain everything. But, still no return call.....



 



He’d tried again this morning, several times. When he was waiting at the hospital for the final paperwork... while he was finalizing Aya getting set up with a bodyguard, therapy, nurses..... so he could just go and get Yohji. God, he couldn’t believe it! He actually had her back, and now could have Yohji, finally, fully, just them – the two he loved so much. They had time to take care of everything before Ran confronted Persia. He certainly never visited the hospital. He wouldn’t know until Ran told him.....



 



Ran mulled over ways to tell Yohji, then dreamed just a bit of some ways some delicious ways, of making everything up to him. Everything. Aya understood. He’d explained everything to her already. She would spend these next few days recuperating, gaining strength, making some plans, shopping online with his laptop for whatever she needed, while he explained to Yohji.



 



He would make love to Yohji, show him how much he loved him, worship Yohji and make him understand how very very sorry he was for everything, and then everything would be okay again. Perfect. Incredible. First he’d see Yohji this morning, explain everything and then maybe tomorrow take him to meet Aya. Then she and Yohji could get to know each other while Ran took care of the bank and ..... other things...... Miko......



 



Yes, soon he’d have to see Miko. He’d put off thinking of that since Aya awoke. She truly didn’t deserve what was coming.... what he’d done..... He’d left a priority email for Tina that he would not be in today and that he’d explain when he could...... This would alert Persia, but again, that was something to be left until after he’d talked to Yohji.



 



Ran walked into the apartment calling out for Yohji... the apartment seemed off... empty. Where was he. Then a static, white noise sound caught his attention. He returned to the living room and realized the TV was on, black and white ripples fluttering over the screen. “Yohji?” he called, but there was no answer. He must be out with Schuldig or the guys. Why’d he leave the TV on?  He noticed the camcorder sitting on top of the TV and checked it. Inside there was one of the mini tapes, but it was at its end.



 



Hmmm……



 



Ran pressed rewind, waiting. Once it stopped he hit play and moved to the sofa. When the video started to play all he could see was blue. The picture wobbled and danced, then stood still. The blue moved back and he realized it was a t-shirt, Yohji’s t-shirt.  Yohji backed away from the lens, checked its placement, and sat down on the coffee table.



 



The blonde gave a sad smile, and looked to the lens, “Hey, Ran……” Oh damn…… Is he really that mad?? Damn. If he’d just pick up the fucking phone!



Ran lifted the remote and turned up the volume, “I didn’t have the nerve to say goodbye in person…… and a letter seemed so …”



 



Goodbye?  Ran’s blood ran cold. NO! It couldn’t be, Not now! He shot up and ran into the bedroom, the video playing as his heart raced, blood crashing through his veins. He threw the doors to the closet open, and found most of Yohji’s things gone. Everything he’d ever bought Yohji was left in the room, including his damn new smart phone Ran had just ordered for him last week, that must have been delivered Saturday, tossed on the bed. Well, that explained why the cell in the care had stopped working, Ran had thought it needed a service call. Yohji must have activated this one when he got home. Yet,  he still hadn’t called Ran. Ran looked at the call list. Only one call, to Schuldig.



 



Yohji had left with only the things he’d brought to the apartment himself. He’d taken nothing that Ran had given him as far as Ran could make out.... God, not even the glass orchid Ran realized, there it sat on the dresser as always....then he saw it.  In front of the orchid sat a small black satin covered box.



 



Oh no. No, please no. With trembling hands, Ran opened the box. The ring. He’d left it behind too, snuggled inside the circle of the bracelet of tri-gold Ran’d given him for their first Christmas. The ring.....what should have been a life’s promise, forever, left behind – abandoned, discarded. Just as Yohji’s heart must have seemed to be finally, after everything. God, after Saturday.



 



One more date missed, one more broken promise, one more chance at time together gone, worthless, as he must have grown to believe Ran’s love was. Ran picked up the ring, his hands shaking, unable to actually see it now with the tears streaming down his face. He scrubbed at his eyes, then found a leather tie he’d bought Yohji for his hair in the top drawer, and threaded the ring over it. Hands shaking so hard he could barely tie the cord, he finally managed a knot and pulled it over his head. He heard Yohji’s voice coming from the living room, the tape still running, and with dread returned to rewind and watch the tape. 



 



Stunned, Ran watched the tape play out:  "God, Ran…… I wish you knew how hard this was.… My only real weakness since we met was you, and the overwhelming love I’ve felt, since……" Yohji sighed "……since just about that first time I saw you. I knew if I waited for you to come back here, I would never leave. There was no way I could look you in the eye and……"



 



I shouldn’t have waited, Ran thought, his heart clenching as he watched Yohji’s obvious misery on film. I should have come last night, no Saturday, no matter how late..... Aya would have been okay long enough for me to come over here and explain, instead of waiting for Yohji to cool down, I should have been here begging.....on my knees.



 



"I was so secure with you…us… our love. I really, actually believed it.....at least for a while...... well ...... nothing lasts forever. You ... grew past me Ran, like I’d worried you would, knew you would “ he whispered. “I know you must have heard all the media bullshit lately about WEISS, only ... well .... it’s not all bullshit. The guys have decided to take .... a break. Guess it’s kinda hard to work on a new album with me shitfaced all the time” Yohji’s voice had lowered to a growl by the end.



 



“Anyway, not sure where I’ll end up now, but this…… I can’t do this anymore. It’s just... too painful for me, Ran.  And even though.... even though I chose this…… I know it was my decision to stick with it after …… after the....” he sighed, “I deserve better. I do.... You do too.  This.... this can’t go on the way it is. I can’t  go on like this. I want you Ran, God, so much....but I ... I need someone who will be with me … I thought I could do this, thought I could handle it but…  you’ve... changed, grown from me, like I said. And you’re not here anyway... I’m a drunk most of the time anymore anyway. The whole last tour is... a blur.”



 



Yohji ran his fingers through his hair, and Ran paused the tape and...looked at him. Really... looked  at him. Yohji’s eyes were shadowed by dark circles. His hair, rather than the golden, honeyed shine, hung lank, listless. His cheeks were sunken, and he looked.... exhausted, broken.... lost. He started the tape,  “Face it, you don’t need me anymore Ran. You’ve got Miko now. She loves you” Yohji whispered. Ran stared, MIKO? No!



 



You’re so... cold now Ran. So cold.” He whispered as his eyes closed. “you’re that Krittiker Ran now, more and more. Distant, like a zombie sometimes. Often when you’re here, you’re...... not. I don’t know how to reach you anymore.... everything seems .... an afterthought. And that’s when I’m sober enough to even know what the hellmis going on.... I.... don’t want to just get the leftovers anymore Ran, be a second thought, be your sometimes lover.....”



 



Ran flinched, didn’t need him?!?, leftovers, second thought? Yohji was his heart and soul! How could have let it get this bad...... he’d neglected Yohji horribly, put him off over and over. Yohji will understand. It’s for Aya. Yohji knows. He can take it. He’s got WEISS, Schuldig, friends. He’s strong. He’ll wait. He loves me, he’ll understand. How many times had Ran justified treatment of Yohji over the last few months with those excuses?.... And now Yohji’d thought Ran had grown past him? Didn’t NEED him??



 



"you’ve grown colder and colder, more... distant. I know why, I understand, being in the.... marriage.....waiting for Aya to wake .... It...fuck! It’s all been so hard, but…… It’s been so long since I really felt it when you told me you loved me. Since, since my birthday I think. You started pulling away after that. I guess I shouldn’t have unloaded that night. I gave out too much info and you started trying to find a way to fix it. Then, when you couldn’t you pulled back..... Those words have no meaning anymore. They’re ... rote... rehearsed.



 



I’ve spent the last months feeling like your whore. You don’t call, or email, or ... anything, when I’m touring anymore. You come to visit when I’m off tour, sometimes… I know, I’m hammered half the time.... When you do come over, we fuck…... it certainly hasn’t been making love lately.... not for a while Ran, not... not really....”



 



Not making love? What was Thursday night? He’d made love to Yohji all night..... but..... had he? Had he told him he loved him?..... or had he just let Yohji fuck him, just.... fucked? Ran tried to remember it objectively, but with Aya... things were too blurry. He focused on the screen:



 



“Then… then you leave…… and go home, back to her.  But I stay here.... In this apartment you paid for, just like a high priced Geisha whore Ran, like Persia said...... I just…… it just... hasn’t been what I expected it to be. With Asuka love was.... real, but... short – so short, and so.... painful. And us. The beginning.... it was amazing, wonderful... falling in love with you, but....not now.... not anymore. It’s... tainted, dark, and... getting darker. It’s not love Ran, not really, at least.... not anymore. It’s .... sex, it’s ..... penance, self-flagellation, for both of us. And... it has to stop.  I waited so long for something special… It was.... perfect, but… well you know how the story goes…… forever is just a fairy tale. Happy endings are for movies"



 



Yohji’s head slumped, slender fingers rubbing the back of his neck. Ran knew he was holding himself back as hard as he could from crying like he did when he’d wake from a nightmare about Asuka.... Ran wanted to hold him, love him, FIX IT.



 



“You remember our first time? The real, first time, after that horrid reception, before that first London trip...... It was storming that night, the first time I made love to you, was inside you. The bursts of lighting lighting up the room as we made love over and over. The thunder echoing our passion. That first time with more than just my hands on you, in you, more than just my mouth. That night, when you asked me to take you…… Ran…… my heart was beating so fast I thought it would explode. That was the first time I realized I just how deeply I was in love with you…… how much a part of me you’d really become. And it made me so nervous. I’d been in love before……you know, but this... it was different from anything before Ran…… it was…… soul-wrenching…… And then,” he whispered now, “when you took me Ran. I’d.... I’d never.... given myself to someone I cared about Ran.... only .... drunken nights, experiments... nothing like this”



 



Yohji arched as if he could feel the memory flowing over his skin, and Ran watched his almost feline grace with fascination, then shuddered at the memory of that night. The night his passion had been completely unleashed for the first time……the night Ran had finally confessed his love. A love they were supposed  to be celebrating Saturday night..... and Ran had yet again left Yohji waiting for him, alone. It hit him then. Yohji waiting at the apartment after the cottage was canceled by a message, alone again, no answer, no explanations......



 



“That day sticks out in my mind more than any other in our time together........ our first time together....... I almost couldn’t breathe…… you were so tight around me....... trembling in my arms…… I knew you were afraid…… it made you seem so vulnerable as I took you again and again.……you couldn’t know I was terrified too..... God, when you looked up at me…… said you loved me and would never let me go...... my heart almost exploded Ran....But you have let me go Ran..... you haven’t had hold of me for..... a long time now...... I know, this makes me weak in your eyes, and I’m sorry, so sorry. I told you I’d wait forever, I’d take you any way I could, whatever it took, but...... I was wrong Ran. I just..... can’t. I can’t do it anymore. Maybe if you were there when you’re here with me, but you’re not, not anymore. .... It’s like you’re not you anymore, not the Ran I fell in love with.... I need that Ran back... I need you Ran.” Tears rolled down Yohji’s cheeks, his shoulders shuddering, his voice dropped to a rasping whisper by the end.



 



Ran yearned to wipe those tears away, and comfort his lover but Yohji wasn’t…… He’s not my lover anymore…… Ran gasped as it hit him that Yohji was GONE. Damn, it hurt. Fuck, his lungs wouldn’t work, his heart didn’t want to beat, his chest felt that it was about to explode..... Not NOW.



 



So…… there’s never been anybody in my soul like this…… And I doubt there ever will be. But that doesn’t really matter anymore…… I’ll move on…… I gotta get a grip on my life, sober up.... dry out. I gotta..... find me again. And maybe someday there will be someone… and I’ll smile and laugh .… and…… while I won’t love them the way I love you…… maybe I’ll be..... happy.… at least I’ll be.... the only one… and that’s probably more important……" Yohji’s voice cracked but he pushed on. “Maybe you and Miko can find some semblance of happiness together…… She loves you too Ran, really loves you, and you can be with her with no threat to Aya.... try Ran.... try to be happy.... I love you.”



 



At Yohji’s heartfelt wish for his future happiness Ran broke. His body began to shake, and a whimper fell from his lips. He’d managed to keep up his cool exterior far longer then he’d expected. He’d done nothing but hurt the man he loved, and Yohji still cared about his happiness. It was too much.



 



Yohji took a deep breath and went on, “So, WEISS has ..... disbanded.... for now. Put things on hiatus. I.... have to get away, I can’t stay here. Omits taking some classes and could use the study time anyway. Schu’s trying to work some things out in his own life. Jei’s restaurant has really hit it off. Manx, well, she’s gonna work with Omi on PR while we’re on break, stay on as band exec. We all agreed, to take a break, this past trip was our... farewell show.... for now. Maybe.... in a few months.... we’ll see where things go. If I can get my shit together, or .... maybe they can find someone else... to sing” he whispered, then sat there, staring at his hands in his lap for a while before taking a deep breath “But, I have to get away and the guys understand.”



 



He shook himself briefly, then looked straight into the camera. “On stormy nights when lightning flashes, and thunder rages…… think of me…… and feel me .. inside you… dream of me Ran .... even if it’s just…… dreaming” Yohji ran his hands through his hair collecting himself, and sighed in exasperation. Ran realized this video was the first time since his birthday Yohji had let him see this pain. Pain Yohji’d kept hidden for all these incredibly long months since Ran had caved to Persia, putting Aya first, as always. Pain Yohji’d tried to hide, to give no real indication of......



 



"I love you…… forever…… Good-bye Ran."



 



Ran’s heart shattered as he watched video Yohji put on his jacket, place a kiss to his fingertips, press them to the lens, pick up his bag, and walk past the couch they’d made love on more times than he could count. Watched Yohji walk out the door, and out of his life. The video continued to play this empty room, and with startling realization he knew for certain……



 



Every piece of life that lived within him was gone……Aya, she was his beautiful sister. She had a place in his heart, always. But..... Yohji WAS  his heart. Without Yohji, Aya or no, he was nothing........ she wouldn’t understand.... he’d have to deal with this, get a grip on his heart, live, but..... god, how would he?



 



Yohji’d looked so tired, so broken. His heartbreak was clear, obvious, now that Ran let himself see it, feel it. Gods, he’d ignored this, pushed it aside, pretended it wasn’t there. And all this time, Yohji’d believed (and been right) that he was bearing this all alone. He’d hurt him so badly. Second thought? Yohji’d come to believe that? And he’d let him. Instead of making him see he was Ran’s reason for living, Ran had treated Yohji like some mistress, geisha whore just as Persia had called him, and Yohji’d compared himself to... something second rate, like he was an afterthought.



 



It never should have been this way. HOW? How had things gone SO wrong? Why had he hurt Yohji so terribly? Because he’d been afraid?  Afraid of standing up to his bastard father?  He should have fought Persia harder, should have fought to take Aya from him.



 



The last few days had been enlightening. The doctors knew about Persia, they would have backed Ran in a battle. He’s never even tried, just caved, giving in to his father..... He told himself he’d been afraid of Yohji being hurt, of what his father would do to him, but he’d hurt him so much, much more deeply than anything his father might have done.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



He kept hearing Yohji’s voice breaking over those words, again and again. Numb, Ran walked through the apartment. His hands raised to the ring hanging about his neck. There had to be a way. A way to fix it.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



If he knew where Yohji’d gone, maybe he could try....



 



**I love you…… forever……**  



 



Wait, Schuldig! He’d moved to a new apartment close by this building six months ago, to be closer to Yohji. Damn, Ran should have realized then something was wrong.....for Schu to feel that he needed to be close.... and after Schuldig’s warning speech last month..... If anyone would know where Yohji’d gone, Schuldig would.  



 



**I love you…… forever……**  



 



Determination seeped through Ran, pushing the despair aside, the hole in his chest easing enough to let him breathe a little, let him move.



 



Ran didn’t remember driving to Schuldig”s building, only realized he stood in front of the apartment, pounding on the door. “Schuldig! Schuldig! Open the door!”  His voice hoarse, breaking, “Schuldig, please!



 



The door was flung aside. Instead of Schuldig it was a man Ran’d never seen before. Black hair, glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, “Can I help you?” He asked, voice cold. “Schuldig”s out.”



 



“Sorry,” Ran breathed, “I have to talk to him, do you have any idea when he’ll be back? Really, I must speak to him.” pain and panic etched his voice.



 



“He gave a friend a ride somewhere, I expect him back soon probably, maybe another hour or so. Can I leave a message or something?”



 



A friend! Ran froze, “He took a friend?! Yohji! Was it Yohji?! (could he be that close? Could he have missed him that closely?)



 



“Yohji, hmmmm, yeah, I think that was the name. Blonde. He only said it once as-”



 



He was cut off as Ran gripped his wrist, “WHEN?, Where? Please, where did they go? When did they leave.....” his voice trailed off, 



 



**I love you…… forever……**   



 



He was almost panting, his breath catching “Please.......” he breathed.



 



“Well, they left about three hours ago. I kinda thought Schuldig’d be back by now.... Look, I don’t know you, or this Yohji, but he seemed upset, like he was anxious to leave. I don’t know if I should say any more. Why don’t you come back tomorrow or-”



 



Again, his words were cut off as Ran tightened his grip, “PLEASE” his voice was harsh, grinding, like someone might sound when they were in extreme pain, like if you were cutting their arm off or something, “Please, just tell me where, or -” Ran had left his cell at home in his haste, but... Hope entered his voice, “Do you have a phone, Schuldig’s number? Please, can we call him? I HAVE to speak to him NOW, as soon as possible - before it’s too late



 



*I love you…… forever……**



 



“I don’t remember where they were going, something about 178th or something,” He paused, looking at Ran. The man was obviously in a panic, it must really be important. “I guess I could call him, but, it’s been like three hours, he must have dropped that guy off wherever by now...” His voice trailed off as he went back into the apartment. “Come on inside. Let me find my phone”



 



Ran entered the apartment, leaning against the wall near the door. He took a deep breath, trying desperately to calm down.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



GODS, if he’d just come this weekend, or even a few hours earlier this morning. His thoughts trailed off as the man came back.



 



“I don’t know why I’m doing this. Yohji seemed like he wanted to get away, how do I know it wasn’t you he wanted to get away from, Mr. _____.



 



“Ran.” Ran answered, “It was, I’m sure it was me. I’m the reason he wanted to go, but I have to try, there has to be a way.....” Ran’s voice trailed off as he sunk to the floor against the wall. “ Please,” he breathed “please, just a chance”



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



He closed his eyes, he couldn’t breathe, “......please”



 



“Hmm, I guess I can call. Can’t hurt just to call I suppose....” the man began to dial. “Name’s Bradley” He turned away as he spoke into the phone “Schuldig? Yeah hi, it’s me. Yes I AM anxious for you to get back,” he smiled a little, his voice warming, “are you ok? Taking a little longer than I’d thought at first. No..., no It’s ok, I’m not upset. I made my own breakfast here, your kitchen is pretty well stocked. That’s good, I’m glad you guys stopped to talk. He looked like he needed it probably. I’m not going anywhere - I’ll be here when you get back. Look,” he cleared his throat “There’s someone here asking about him. Yeah, a redhead. Yeah that was the name-”



 




 



Ran had managed to stand up, and was holding his hand out for the phone, his eyes pleading, barely breathing.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



“please, ........ let me....”



 



“Schu, the guy wants the phone.” he turned, lowering his voice, “c’mon, just listen to the guy for a sec, he’s pretty bad off, almost hysterical - ok - here” he turned back to Ran, holding the cell out to him.



 



“Schuldig- please, don’t hang up.” Ran begged, his words coming fast, breathless, “just, listen. I know you took Yohji.... wherever he wanted to go....., just please, listen. I was wrong, SO wrong. You’ve been here all along, you know just HOW wrong. “ his voice was dropping,



 



**I love you…… forever…**  



 



“I can’t breathe - please”  He had to stop, he couldn’t catch his breath. He again sank down against the wall, trying, trying to get control so he could talk.



 



“Ran,” Schuldig”s voice came across the line. He sounded odd, like he was in a tunnel. Ran could hear the traffic through the line. “You so don’t deserve to say anything. Yes I have been here all along. I know this whole mess tore you up to Ran, but.... fuck! I warned you. I’ve watched you reduce him steadily, tear him down over and over, reduce him from what he was. You hurt him so badly, your apathy lately was worse than if you’d just broken it off -”



 



“I know, I’m so sorry. Sorry for the pain, the neglect, leaving him alone so much, Sorry doesn’t even come close to touching it. I - I was afraid, first that he’d be hurt by my father, then .....” Ran didn’t want to discuss everything about Aya with Schuldig. Not  on a cell phone, at a time like this, with a stranger listening in.... “I was completely wrapped up in what could be lost, instead of seeing what I was losing”



 



Yohji would understand that, even if Schu didn’t. “I just, I got lost somewhere. Yohji is everything, life, air - he has been from the day I first saw him, that first night. He’s the only one...... he knows, the only one, ever - look, just please, tell him. Tell him I wish, I wish we could go back, back to the day I gave him the ring.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



“Tell him it doesn’t have to be this way anymore.  I know. I know we can’t go back, and there’s no way I can take away these last months. I can’t change what I’ve done, the choices I made, I don’t deserve his forgiveness. Not even a chance. He deserves to find happiness, to be cherished. I’ve hurt him so badly. I want him to be happy. Just- it doesn’t have to be this way anymore Tell him, tell him things are different now



 



Ran paused, taking a ragged breath. “Just tell him, if he wants to talk, if he can consider in his heart to let me explain, maybe even forgive me, or God help me, if he wants to try, if he wants the ring back”  his voice dropped,



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



barely a whisper, Ran went on “if he could ever want us back” he cleared his throat, “I’ll have his cell phone. The new one I gave him, he can find me anytime, I promise. Things will be different, I swear Tell him Schuldig,  when you talk to him again, tell him – it’s different – I can fix itI can explain.” 



 



Ran’s throat closed, he couldn’t talk anymore, he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. His arms dropped as he rested his head against the wall. His numb fingers dropped the phone. He was shaking as he rested his head against his knees, taking deep breaths as he tried to get control.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



He looked up into concerned eyes. “I have to go” he breathed. He stood, falling against the wall, stumbling toward the door. He staggered out of the apartment, leaning his forehead against the wall opposite the door. He breathed deeply, taking a minute to center himself.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



He knew what he had to do now, regardless of whether Yohji called, whether he ever came back, Ran knew what had to happen now. He stood up, and started down the hallway.



 



Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



 



 



Back at the apartment, Ran turned off the TV. He took Yohji’s phone from the charger where he’d left it, making sure it was on (just in case), and put it into the holster on his belt. He sat on the sofa, the sofa he and Yohji - no, he couldn’t think about that now. He went over everything in his mind, things falling into place with amazing clarity now. He opened his own phone and transferred some numbers into Yohji’s phone, forwarded any calls from Aya's number to this number in case Aya tried to call him (he couldn’t talk to her yet.... not unless she needed him for something....)



 



He made a few calls, wrote out a few notes on a notepad, and stood and went into the kitchen. He downed two stiff shots of vodka, then took his phone and dropped it into the trash compactor. He listened as it disintegrated. Feeling impossibly weary, empty, and yet strangely light after the cycle finished, he left, locking the apartment behind him.



 



He got into the car, flinching when he saw the pamphlet for the bed and breakfast he’d planned to take Yohji to.... Sighing, he folded it and put it in the glove box. Maybe, someday....... - no - he wouldn’t hope, he’d die if he pinned everything on the hope Yohji would come back.  He didn’t deserve another chance, and certainly not for Yohji to forgive him. He’d had no right to even ask Yohji to consider it. He’d done so much damage...... Yohji had suffered so much because of him. Because of his lack of strength....



 



Taking a deep breath, Ran fervently prayed to whatever gods would listen, “just let him be happy. Let the pain fade, let him have peace, he deserves so much..... even if him being happy means (his breath caught) even if it means someone - (he couldn’t say it, could hardly form the thought. His heart and mind shied away from the blinding fire that thought brought with it) just.....let him be happy....” his voice trailed off.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



Ran cleared his throat, wiped his hands over his face and started the car, dialing his office number as he exited the drive. “Krittiker Music Ran Fujimiya's office,” a pleasant voice answered.



 



“Tina, it’s me.” Ran said. “Don’t say anything” he said quickly as he heard her gasp, “go into my office real quick and shut the door.” 



 



“Hold please,” she said pleasantly before he heard the click and music playing. 



 



“Ran?” Tina’s worried voice asked, “what’s going on? You sound terrible. Are you okay?”



 



“Tina, listen. Go through my calendar, clear every scheduled appointment through next week. Everything. Tell them there’s been an emergency, it’s unavoidable, that’s all you know, and you will contact them next week to reset things. Got that?” he knew she’d have questions.



 



“What? Why? What’s wrong? Are you okay?” her voice rose in pitch with each question, but she kept the volume down, not giving anything away. She really was a treasure.



 



“I’m okay....I’m not (hurt? Oh yes, he hurt) injured.....look,” he paused, “listen, we’ve worked together a long time. You are an amazing assistant, putting up with all my demands for so long, Just trust me. I will be in later this afternoon to take care of some things. Just, clear my calendar, do it from my office for the privacy if you can, then take the afternoon off. Go home. Tomorrow, things will be different. And if my father comes around bugging you, or asks anything, you don’t know. All I said was clear the calendar. Can you do that?”



 



“Alright Ran, I’ll take care of it. Are you sure you’re really okay? You sound - I don’t know - off somehow.” she sounded worried.



 



“No Tina, I’m really not okay, but...... I will be. Just do this and go home. Things will make more sense tomorrow.” he reassured her.



 



“Okay Ran, if you’re sure. I hope you’re alright.” she hung up.



 



Ran was touched. She really was a good assistant. He’d have to try to see she was compensated for putting up with him. This was one oversight he could correct. Now, to face Miko.....



 



Ran pulled up in the driveway of his “home” with Miko and shut off the car. He centered himself, taking a few deep breaths, and went into the house.  “Miko?” he called out. “Miko, are you here?”



 



“Ran?!” her voice came from the kitchen. “What are you doing home so early? Is something wrong?” she came around the corner. When she saw Ran she stopped.  “Something is  wrong, isn’t there?” she half whispered. “What’s happened?”



 



(Damn) Ran thought, (I thought I was in better control than that) he glanced at his reflection in the hallway mirror and winced. He was pale, his eyes seemed too big, and the PAIN shadowed his features. He looked haunted, dead. He ran his fingers through his hair. “Miko, come here.” he guided her to the sofa, sitting down with her and taking her hand. “Listen, let me get through what I have to say. Then I’ll answer what questions I can. But, just let me get through this first, okay?”



 



“Okay Ran” she answered, loving him, trusting him even now. He could see the dread in her eyes, the knowledge that something  was coming, but the trust overshadowed it, she never imagined he was what was going to shatter her world.



 



He closed his eyes. (She doesn’t deserve what I’m about to do to her. She actually loves me. GOD I’ve been such a bastard. She has no idea what’s coming.) He sighed, “Miko. I’m sorry. This is going to hurt, and there is just no way to make it not. It just has to be this way.” he stopped a moment, “when we married, you know, you remember our fathers made the arrangements, worked everything out, right?”



 



Her shoulders stiffened, the dread grew stronger, she looked down, “yes” she answered in a small voice. “I knew that.....I guess I hadn’t really thought about it though, not for a while. We were so much in love......” her voice faded to almost nothing by the end. “Weren’t we?” she whispered, “Ran?” she turned to look at him, almost. Tilting her head his way, but unable to raise her eyes to meet his, as if afraid of what she’d see, or afraid of what she’d let him see....”Ran, is-” she swallowed, “is there someone else?”



 



He tilted his head back, closing his eyes. “Not now but,” he looked down at her, she deserved him to look at her, “but there should be.” he saw the flash of pain across her face, the loss. Saw the hunching of her shoulders, as if shielding her chest. He knew the ripping, burning pain she was feeling - this was opening his own hole up again.



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



Her pain, so much like his own, like Yohji’s pain. And AGAIN, he was the cause of it...... “Miko. No questions. Let me get through this. I know it hurts, I’m sorry - you deserve the truth. Just, listen,”



 



He turned on the sofa dropping his head into his hands, elbows resting on his knees. “Before my father.....” he couldn’t keep the venom from his voice “shortly before he called me to his home to inform me  we were to marry, I’d promised myself to someone else.”



 



 



“Promised” she whispered



 



“Yes, I’d ......proposed - I guess. I’d bought a ring, we’d moved in together. We were so happy...... Then, I get a summons from HIM. He informed me of our upcoming marriage. I.... he had a hold on my life, one you were not aware of. (he’d never shared the real truth of Aya with her  - she had no idea...) “I argued a bit, but then he made threats to -” he cut off - he wouldn’t say Yohji’s name....not to her, and he would not tell her of Aya. “I didn’t have the guts to stand up to him, to do what it would take to refuse, I went along with it. I was afraid of -  afraid he’d hurt -”



 



He made a chopping motion with his hand, “it doesn’t matter. We married. It’s never been what you thought, and I’m sorry. I don’t love  you Miko. I care about you, you’re a giving person, a wife someone would be proud of, but this would never have happened without my bastard father getting involved. I’ve tried to be.... kind to you, but it’s a sham, a shadow, a hoax. I’m sorry, so incredibly sorry..... You deserve someone who will cherish you, love you for real.....” he trailed off, took a deep breath.



 



“Anyway, something has happened. The hold is broken now and I can’t, I won’t do this anymore. I’m done. I’m not angry, not at you anyway, I’m just done. A clean break is best. I’ll move out today. I won’t be back. I’m not going to fight or talk this out. This is it. I’ve called my attorney - you keep the house. You’ll be well off financially. All I’m taking is my car and some clothes. Everything else is yours. You’ll be well taken care of in the settlement, but it will be a one-time thing, no ongoing contact. We won’t see each other except as necessary for the legal requirements. I’ll try to keep you out of the media nightmare as much as possible, try not to hurt you any more than I have already. I just, I have to do this Miko. I have to find ME. I’ll do my best to wrap things up quickly. The rest is up to you.”



 



She sat, stunned for a moment. “I” she stopped, tried again, “I don’t really know what to say.” She whispered. “I love you, but that seems inadequate.” She stopped for a moment, shuddered. Ran felt horrible. She should have someone hold her as she dealt with this. But she was as alone as he was. A bastard father who’d sold her for a merger, no family here. Some friends she’d made over the last year, but.....



 



“Apparently, I don’t even know you, do I?” she went on, he could hear the tears she held back in her voice, the hurt, this bitterness, “I guess I love the idea of you. I can’t - I can’t think right now. I won’t fight you, what’s the point? Why would I fight for someone who flat out says he doesn’t love me? Why would I want that in the media? I don’t want that dragged out any more than you do, I guess...... does your father know?”



 



“No. I owed you that much. I came to you first. The only other one I have spoken with is the attorney - I wanted...... to get things started as quickly as possible. I’m going to talk to him later this afternoon. He shouldn’t bother you Miko. This is between him and I more than anything - I can’t imagine him having the guts to bother you. He’d have to face you knowing you know - I’ll make sure he knows you do...... I really - it - it shouldn’t have gone this far, for so long. You deserve so much more.” he rose from the sofa, “thank you for being so gracious. I know this hurts, believe me,



 



**I love you…… forever……**



 



I know.” this last, barely a whisper. “I’ll go pack my things. I won’t be back. The house, everything left here, is yours.”



 



He went into the bedroom and filled three suitcases with the sum of his life for these last months.  Some clothes, some special things Yohji’d given him, some music. That was it. This place might as well be a resort, a hotel. Nothing here was his.



 



He left. As he passed the living room she still sat there, quietly crying. He didn’t stop. He left his key on the table in the foyer, and left this part of his so called life behind. He loaded his bags into the car, and pulled from the driveway.



 



 



Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



 



 



Ran’s voice faded over the speakerphone. It sounded as though he’d dropped the phone and was walking away. Schuldig turned to the seat next to him. “Yohji? Are you alright?” Yohji was pale, sitting with his head back on the seat, his eyes squeezed shut. He took a deep breath. “...”m okay.” he said. Another shuddering breath, “ I knew this would be hard, that’s why I did it this way. Gods, he sounded so lost, so broken.....” he stopped.



 



Schuldig waited a moment, “Do you want to go back?”



 



“Do I want?” Yohji whispered, eyes still closed. He took a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh “yes, I want, but no, I’m not going back. No matter how he thinks he can fix it....... Schuldig, I have to do this. I have to find me again. Who I am, as me not as Ran’s Yohji, but as me.  Who I was before” another deep breath. He ran his fingers through his hair and sat up straighter. “ sorry man, look, thanks but - really I have to do this. Let’s just go, okay?”



 



“Alright.” Schuldig picked up the phone, switching it off speaker as he started the jeep. “Brad, are you still there?”



 



Brad watched the redhead stumble out the door, shaking his head. He went to pick up the phone and heard Schuldig calling. “Schuldig? Wow man, I’m sorry. You okay?”



 



“yeah, we’re fine. I’m gonna drop Yohji and then I’ll be right back. I’m sorry this took so long, sorry you got dragged into this, it’s a bit much to drop on you so fast.”



 



“Nah, it’s okay. I just - man, the guy really had me worried for a sec there at first, he was kinda out of it - thought he was gonna pass out on me for a bit there.” he stopped, “never mind that. I’ll still be here - extenuating circumstances and all that. Just -” his voice dropped “hurry back, we can still make up for lost time”



 



Schuldig”s breath caught, “I will. I’ll be back as soon as I can - promise. And, thanks, really” he hung up the phone and turned to Yohji. “You sure you’re alright?”



 



“No. But I will be. Thanks Schu - this means a lot. Sorry I kept you so late.” Yohji looked at him, “breakfast was nice, and you’re a real friend. I need to let you get back to your little hottie - he’s a real keeper to put up with all this shit and stick around.” he grinned, “or maybe you’re the hottie if he’s so willing to do what it takes to keep ya, hmmm?”



 



“You know I’d do anything I can for you Yohji. You rogue. And, wouldn’t you like to know  what I do that makes him wanna wait for me, hmm?” Schuldig smiled. “Really, anything, you know that.  If -” he paused “if Ran comes around, asks, what do you want me to tell him?”



 



“Nothing. And, I doubt he will come around anyway. He’s shaken up right now. But-” Yohji’s eyes and voice hardened, “he’ll go to work, get busy, his wife will need something, whatever. If he could go so long without calling knowing I was right there... well, if the little voice in the back of his head isn’t bugging him to call once in a while, it’ll just be that much easier to be busy. Besides, his pride will keep him from coming back to you. He told you to tell me how to call him, that’ll ease his conscience, knowing I can call him. Lets him off the hook.”



 



Yohji smiled. “Never mind, don’t worry. This had to happen. It’ll be good.” he saw the building up ahead, “this is it, just drop me here.” he punched Schuldig”s shoulder, “you get back to that hot number. I’ll keep in touch. But-” he looked down, “it might be a while before I call, I - I need some time, ya know?”



 



“I do Yohji - I understand. Just, send a text, or an email or something, a postcard. Just let me know you’re alive, okay? And the guys too... they will want to know you’re ok too.  And you know, if you need anything - if this doesn’t work out, if you need a place to crash, anything - you call me - promise.” Schuldig gave him that look, that one that says, **I WILL find you, wherever you are, if you don’t.**



 



Yohji laughed. “Okay! Man, I promise, alright?” he clasped Schuldig”s shoulder, “you’re the best friend a guy could ask for. Really. Keep tabs on Jei and the guys, huh? I’ll check in soon enough. And good luck with Brad. And-” he grimaced, “if Ran does bother you-”



 



“Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it. Just, do what you need to do Yohji.”



 



“Yeah, thanks again Schu.” Yohji got out of the jeep, grabbing his duffle. He headed down the sidewalk.



 



Schuldig watched him go. “I hope you get what you need my friend, I really do. You deserve to be happy. So much.” he smiled and took a deep breath. “And so do I,” he grinned, Brad’s face filling his thoughts “and I’m gonna go get what I deserve.” 



 



He turned the jeep around, anticipation building. “In fact, maybe I’ll get started early.” he picked up the ear piece for his cell and dialed Brad. “Hello Brad, I just dropped Yohji. I’m on my way back now. So, how can I show my appreciation for your patience? Hmm, tell me-” his voice dropped, “what are you wearing, hmm?”



 



 



Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



 



 



Ran drove to his office.  It was almost 4:00 now, things were quiet. He came in through the back, trying not to draw attention to himself. A few people saw him on his way to his office, but no one said anything. Good, Tina had taken the day off like he’d told her.  He left her a note, telling her what he could, apologizing, and included a glowing reference, his new cell number, and a nice bonus, in an envelope in the top drawer. He hoped she’d be alright.



 



He went into his office, packed a box with his personal items, and accessed a few key files. He printed out a few items, and cleared any personal information from his computer. He took a last look around, made sure everything was in order, and braced himself for the confrontation of his life. 



 



He left his office, leaving the box on the reception desk in the lobby. People were preparing to leave for the day. Some noticed him, a few curious gazes followed him, but no one stopped him or asked the questions he could see burning on their faces. Of course, he couldn’t see the cold fury emanating from his eyes.



 



He approached his father’s office, coldly seething. He strode past the secretary’s desk, not even seeing her, not reacting to her shocked gasp at the look on his face, his casual jeans and t-shirt, his dead eyes. Not hearing her small incredulous cry of “Ran?”  He entered his father’s private office. His domain. There he sat, on his pseudo-throne, in all his arrogance, awaiting the approach of the “peasants” in repentance, obeisance, or supplication. Ran was none of those. Not today.



 



“Ran!” he barked. “Where the hell have you been?! What the hell have you been doing?! You lousy shit! I have been calling you all afternoon! Where’s your damn phone? What the fuck are you playing at? Disregarding your duty. Clearing your calendar for a WEEK?! Are you MAD? I’ve had angry calls all afternoon demanding an explanation. Some of those conferences took weeks to get scheduled. Get this mess straightened out and do it NOW, or so help me.....” he stopped, looking at Ran just standing there, quiet. No reaction, no protest, just watching him.



 



“Are you finished?” Ran asked. Waited a moment, “Good. MY turn.” He turned and closed the office door, noticing the bystanders in the hall, avid curiosity blazing in their eyes. Screw them. He turned back. “I have something to say. YOU  will listen, then I will leave. That’s it. No discussion, no argument, no questions. Just LISTEN” he growled as he walked toward the desk. His father’s jaw dropped, he seemed as though he wanted to say something, but was just incapable at the moment, shock maybe, and a hint of fear at Ran’s fury.



 



“I warned you once before that if you hurt Yohji you’d regret it.” his father’s eyes narrowed, he took a breath as though he was about to say something. “No!” Ran snapped “you WILL listen. You did everything you could to bend me to your will, to drive him away. Well, congratulations, he’s gone. You may not have hurt him physically, but I allowed you to hurt him through me..... And now, you face the consequences.”



 



“Consequences? What the hell are you talking about. I’ll give you consequences. Did you forget sleeping beauty you little prick?.....”  Persia’s voice trailed off as he took in the look on Ran’s face.



 



“Nice try bastard.” Ran growled. Persia’s face drained of color. “That’s right asshole, she’s awake. I have her. You have no hold on me. None. I’m done, gone. You are on your own. I quit. You should seriously consider yourself lucky I don’t beat the fuck out of you.” Ran closed his eyes for a split second, clenching his teeth. “I have already addressed my personal accounts, cleared my office. I’ve talked to Miko and to my attorney. I wash my hands of you and your manipulations.”  he tossed a thick envelope onto the desk. “My resignation. There is no reason in this world for me to ever see your face again. You have no interest in my personal life.”



 



“That - “ he pushed the envelope closer to the man, “severs all corporate connections, all ties. I went through it thoroughly. Miko is aware that I am filing for divorce. I started the necessary paperwork today. You have nothing to do with it. You will  leave her alone, or I swear on everything I hold dear, the media will have a field day with Krittiker Music. I will go on every talk show there is if you bother her or Aya or me. That is a promise.”



 



He straightened, taking a deep breath. “Be glad I don’t kill you now.” His voice was cold, dead. “I want to. You have NO idea how much I want to right now......” he stepped back, fists clenched. “So, that’s it. I am done. I will not discuss this with you any further. I refuse to empower you in any way. Good bye.” he turned away, striding to the door.



 



“Wh - WHAT?!” his father jumped from his chair, just as Ran reached the door. “I OWN you you little shit! You know better! You absolutely will not walk out that door!! He roared. “you’ll never work in music again! Get your ass back to work! I swear, I will disown you, you will be completely broken!” he screamed at Ran.



 



“I already am.” Ran returned coldly, just before passing through the doorway, co-workers staring in disbelief. He walked calmly away.



 



“Ran!” his father bellowed, his voice echoing down the hallway. “I swear, I will ruin you, you will never work again. You are no longer my son!”



 



“I wish.” was Ran’s fervent reply as he kept walking.



 



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