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,



Schuldig and Bradley finalized the paperwork for their beach townhome, with the move-in scheduled for five weeks later. They would arrive Christmas week, and planned to be settled into their new home just at the New Year.


Schu and Brad promised to return for the long Thanksgiving weekend, and plans were made for Yohji and Ran to assist with the move in and all the shopping, etc. that would entail.


Schu was adamant that they retain a few pieces of furniture, but most of it would be sold, with them buying replacement furniture here in LA. Schu wondered at their smaller wares, not wanting to try to drive cross country, especially in the dead of winter, but Brad insisted they would be able to have everything boxed and relocated via freight shipping. New World had provided him with a sizeable moving allowance. Yohji could barely contain his excitement at ‘helping’ them shop for everything.


The four drove to the seafood grill Yohji was so fond of, discussing plans for the upcoming holidays and get-togethers. It was late on a Saturday afternoon – the night crowd wasn’t evident yet. Still, a small group of paparazzi were camped out near the entrance hoping for a glimpse of a celebrity – anyone they could prey on, any recognizable person. Yohji growled as they turned into the parking lot in the sedan Schu’d rented, ‘Ran, tell me again why we are here.’


‘You know you really liked this place’ Ran answered, ‘we talked about this. You wanted to show Schuldig. Come on, it won’t be so bad. There are only a few of them, you’re not on your bike, and it’s a Saturday afternoon. Maybe they won’t recognize you.’


Yohji snorted inelegantly, ‘ok Babe, whatever you say. But again, no hiding, but no interviews either.’ He turned to the others and smiled, ‘Schu, you are gonna love this place, they have the best crab cakes. Just amazing. I know you’re gonna flip.’


He was smiling as they climbed out of the car. In the brightness of the afternoon sun, Yohji’s golden hair shone, and catching it from the corner of his eye Ran began to rethink the ‘not noticing.’ He turned to Yohji to suggest he walk under the shaded area to the entrance, but realized it was too late. The crowd was already headed toward them, having spotted that honey gold, silken mane, not to mention Ran’s own eye-catching red silk, shining in the sunlight, along with Yohji’s tall, lithe physique, especially delicious in his new leather jacket.


‘Yohji!’ they called out,


‘Yohji!, when’s WEISS’s next album?’


‘Yohji! Gonna comment on the upcoming press release?’


‘Yohji! Where’s your hog man? Flying under the radar?’


‘Yohji! Who are your friends? How ‘bout a picture?’


‘c’mon Yohji! – just  one pic man!’


Yohji glanced at Ran, then ran his hands through his hair and rubbed them down over his face. ‘alright you guys, OK. A couple of shots, then back off – k?’ he reached over, pulling Ran closer, then gestured toward Schuldig and Bradley. ‘Friends of mine, in town on business.’ He pulled Ran in tighter, ‘mine’ he growled into Ran’s ear with a smile.


Ran stumbled a little, slightly startled at the possessive growl, and fell into Yohji’s side. Yohji again pulled him closer, stopping to allow Ran to center himself, and turned back to the snapping lenses. ‘ok guys, enough. Give it a rest and let us eat, huh?’


‘c’mon Yohji, give us a statement!’


Yohji sighed, ‘look. Jei’s already scheduled a press conference about the album, give me a break. My friends aren’t here long. I really like this place and wanna show them a good time. Cut me some slack and let us eat in peace.’


He turned to walk toward the entrance again but was blocked by another photog focusing on him and Ran exclusively, shutter clicking madly as he framed them alone. His focus more obviously on Yohji’s hand on Ran’s waist, Ran’s on Yohji’s shoulder. ‘enough!’ Yohji said, growling, growing frustrated, ‘just back off!’


‘Yohji, if I may?’ Bradley’s calm tenor cut into the growing chaos. All heads turned to him – ‘gentlemen, I would venture to guess that neither this establishment, nor your respective employers, would be pleased to learn you are the responsible parties for the boycott of their businesses and magazines.’


‘boycott?’ one photographer piped up, ‘what boycott?’


‘well, yes,’ Schuldig drawled, catching on quickly. ‘Imagine when I interview with the local news, or ET, or whatever, as Yohji’s childhood friend, and make sure to stress that anyone who is a celebrity of any stature should absolutely avoid this place because the owner is obviously in some sort of deal with the lot of you for publicity....’


Brad smiled, darkly, glaring over the tops of his glasses, ‘And that fans should boycott certain publications because they encourage their photographers to harass musicians. You’re each wearing badges that identify your publications. I’m certain I can create a comprehensive list for the interview. I’m sure that WEISS’s rabid fans would protest, some may actually stop buying, at least for a while. Maybe not for too long, they are rabid after all. But even for a few months it could impact profits. And that’s bound to result in the publications buying less from you lot, I’m guessing. At least for a bit.’


Schuldig turned his polite, but cold, hard smile on each man. ‘what do you think? Think you can back off and let people eat? Maybe write about how much Yohji enjoys this place? Or shall I persuade Yohji to engineer an interview? Hmm?’


Sheepishly the group began to back off, mumbling. One lagged behind a bit. His ID tag read ‘freelance – rocker gallery – new times’ ‘so, childhood friend huh?’ he pulled a card from his breast pocket. ‘I know people who’d pay well for that interview.’ He pressed his card into Schuldig’s hand, ‘call me sometime and we’ll talk’


The guys broke away, entering the restaurant.


Having investigated the small crowd gathering, and overhearing the end of the conversation, a seeming employee, a stunning man with shoulder length walnut hair, and a seeming permanent five o’clock shadow framing a classically strong jaw, came forward. Dressed in a snug, charcoal grey ribbed shirt and a black denim jacket over black well fitting Dockers, he cut quite the figure as he approached.


‘Gentlemen, please accept my apologies.’ His rich voice cut in, ‘I tried to get them to stay across the street, but as the authorities insist they can gather since the parking area is public property I really don’t have much luck. I am the owner, please let me -’


‘it’s ok, not your fault,’ Yohji started.


Brad stepped in, ‘I assure you sir, I had no intention of really bringing your eatery into the confrontation, nor any necessary interview. I am certain you don’t encourage that lot – bad for business – but you may want to invest in crowd control or valet parking or something.’


He smiled, ‘When it gets out that this is a favorite haunt of Yohji’s, and Rook’s too,’ he nodded at Ran. ‘they’re bound to catch onto that soon enough,’ he muttered under his breath, ‘your customer base may increase.’


Schuldig smiled as the man’s jaw slowly fell open, dropping the unlit cigarette he’d held at the corner of his lips, eyes widening,  but the blurted: ‘Rook? The painter?’  , earned a surprised start from the group.


The man looked at Ran more closely,. ‘oh man! You are Rook? And…. Yohji, ….. Yohji, hmmm….. why does that name seem familiar?’ He mused to himelf, looking at the floor…..’I know I’ve heard that name….’


‘WEISS?’ Schuldig put in, ‘a rock band?’


‘oh!’ the owner’s eyes flew up, ‘huh!, I’ve heard WEISS on the radio. They really rock. One of you is with WEISS?’ His eyes narrowed, just briefly, as the group laughed. 


Schuldig’s amused voice chimed in, ‘Tall and lanky here is Yohji, lead singer of the currently popular band WEISS. Don’t you recognize the shades and hair?’


‘oh, please, forgive me,’ the man murmured, ‘I don’t watch TV. I listen to the radio while working, but seldom watch television, and have no use for magazines, especially not when it means funding that lot,’ He jerked his thumb over a shoulder. ‘Yohji is it? Well, I’m very flattered. Please allow me to make this up to you. Today’s meal is on the house for you and your friends.’


He turned again to Ran, ‘Rook, really?’ He seemed.... thoughtful, almost surprised.


Ran nodded.


‘I have some of your pieces,’ the man elaborated.


‘really?’ Ran’s eyes widened. He’d only had the one gallery showing in New York. He’d sold nothing on the west coast yet.


‘yes, though... honestly, I had no idea.’ His voice trailed off, thoughtfully, as he stared at Ran more intently.


‘Here – please follow me, you gentlemen can dine in the back room.’  He led the group through the dining area to the enclosed area in the back.


Yohji spoke up, ‘you don’t have to comp the meal, man, really, those guys are a pain wherever we go, this group was actually pretty tame.’


‘no, please, allow me’ the owner insisted. ‘besides, if your friend is right, and they print that you favor us, we may well profit nicely. Four meals is a rather inexpensive fare for such favorable advertising.’ He smiled and ushered them through the opening in the partition.


As they entered, all eyes were drawn to the back wall. There, in the far corner, on two opposite walls, were two paintings. On one wall was a breathtaking landscape long the lines of the savannah scene Yohji’d first seen when visitin Ran’s apartment for that first grand tour. Perspective from a clifftop, the view looked over a plain of trees and tall grass, almost swaying in the breeze, a brilliant sunset casting hues of purple and gold over the land.


Yohji instantly recognized the other one on the opposite wall from the gallery showing so long ago, the day of their reunion. It had been painted during the *dark time*, as Ran referred to those months.


It was a cityscape, a rooftop view of a city at night. There stood a redheaded figure, seen from behind as he was poised on the edge of the rooftop. At first glance, he was leaning over the city, arms thrown wide as though yearning to leap – but then, it became apparent he was being held back.


An ethereal figure, barely made out, a figure whose arms held him tightly began to materialize. When one noticed the ghostly outline, the perspective changed, rather than appearing to yearn to leap out into the night, the red head seemed to be leaning into the embrace of that figure. Almost as though he’d just been caught. There was the impression of a shoulder pillowed under his head, arms holding him tightly.


Then one noticed a halo of blonde hair billowing around the figure, and then the smoldering, yet somehow soft, emerald eyes just above the redhead’s hair, eyes possessively looking down over that bowed head as lips were pressed there. The redhead’s arms, at first seeming thrown wide in preparation of flight, now seemed to be coming down as though the scene had been caught the instant before they embraced the other.


‘My, Ran’ Schuldig breathed reverently, ‘every time I see your work I am astounded afresh.’


‘really,’  Bradley put in, ‘you are a very talented man Ran.’ He shook his head.


‘Ran?’ the owner’s curious, yet thoughtful voice cut in. ‘your name is Ran? As in Ran from Krittiker Music?’


Eyes wide, Yohji and Ran turned toward the man. Trepidation running up his spine, voice cold, Ran answered, ‘yes, that’s me….why? it’s been years since I left Krittiker. There’s no connection to Rook.’


‘oh, I know! It’s ok, I had no idea Rook was Ran. I did not mean to bring up any ... unpleasantness,’ the man tilted his head, studying Ran, ‘you’re different, you look more…, happy…. I didn’t recognize you at first. I would never have guessed-‘


‘Recognized?’ Yohji’s voice cut in, possessive tenor obvious. He subtly placed himself between the man and Ran. ‘what do you mean recognized? you know Ran?’


‘well, no, I don’t know you, but I often saw you. Though I doubt you ever saw me at all. And the last time I saw you, **happiness** was far, far from you. I had no idea you were Rook, real-‘


‘wait,’ Yohji’s scowl cut him off, ‘before we get into that, explain the other part. What last time? What do you mean?’ Yohji had crossed both arms over his chest, and now more obviously stepped in front of Ran.  


Ran placed his hand on Yohji’s shoulder, squeezing reassuringly. ‘Yohji, wait, let’s find ou-‘


‘Yohji!’ the man barked, causing them all to jump. ‘that’s why the name was familiar. Ran’s Yohji, Yohji Kudoh!’


This time it was Ran suddenly protectively in front of Yohji, glaring coldly. ‘how do you know me and that name together?’ he growled, grabbing the man’s jacket lapels. ‘explain, now!’ he shook the man lightly, face darkening.


Yohji grabbed Ran’s forearm. ‘ok babe, calm down. Let’s hear this out, ok?’


Ran turned his head toward Yohji, but did not lessen his grip, ‘you don’t understand Yohji,’ he said, ‘he said Ran’s Yohji, Yohji KUDOH. And he knows me from Krittiker.’


He turned back to the now frozen man, a murderous scowl growing,  ‘do you work for my father?’ he growled, low.


Yohji blinked, ‘you don’t thi-‘


‘I don’t know, Yohji, but I want to find out. Now.’ Ran glared at the man, ‘explain. And I mean right now.’


The man reached up, gripping both of Ran’s forearms and took a deep breath.  ‘I did,’ he emphasized, ‘DID work for your father. A long time ago. I was a chef for him in his home. I saw you a few times, at his ordered **family events**, some meetings. The last time I saw you was the day I quit.’


He stopped, expectant. Ran slowly let go and took a step back. Running a hand through his hair he spoke, ‘ok, I’ll bite. You quit?’


‘yes, quit.’ The man took a deep breath and straightened his jacket. ‘shall we sit? I’d like to explain, in detail, and to thank you. Come. Let me order some drinks. Sit, decide on your meal choices and I’ll be right back.’ 


He turned and exited the area as the dazed group looked at each other.


‘well, Ran’ Bradley spoke, ‘things are never boring with you around at any rate.’ He chuckled. The others laughed a bit, the tension easing. ‘come on,’ Schuldig said, ‘let’s sit. Crab cakes you said Yohji?’


‘yeah Schu’ Yohji shook his head, ‘they really are incredible. You won’t believe-‘  he cut off as a young woman entered, carrying a tray of ice water. ‘what would you gentlemen like to drink?’ she asked. ‘Masato will be back in a moment.’


As the waitress returned with their drink orders, Masato returned as well. The group gave the woman their dinner orders, and she left. Masato seated himself at the end of the table, facing the group. Cocking his head to one side he asked, ‘anyone care if I light up?’ he gestured with a cigarette.


Yohji grinned and pulled out his own, ‘be our guest’ he exhaled, sitting back, but subtly closer to Ran, one hand resting on his thigh.


Masato lit his own smoke, taking a deep drag before he focused on Ran, ‘well,’ he said, ‘to explain…..’  He took another deep breath and locked eyes with Ran’s dark violet gaze. ‘I was your father’s chef, as I explained. I had seen you a few times, mostly in passing, or from the back of a room. The day I quit you’d come to meet your father and were seated outside.’


He lowered his eyes, looking at the table, playing with the water ring from the ice tea in front of him, flicking some ash into the glass ashtray. ‘I’d come out to go over some menu choices with your father for an upcoming event, I overheard a somewhat heated conversation. I realized you were arguing’


He looked up, ‘I should have gone back inside, but was afraid any movement would draw attention to my decidedly unwelcome presence. And surely I’d be fired for witnessing such a scene. You know how your father was…..’


He sighed, ‘anyway, I came out just as you answered, quite sharply I might add,’ his voice changed, roughened in mild imitation of Ran’s own, ‘no! absolutely not!’


‘Needless  to say, I was very curious to know what could have made you openly defy him in such a..... forceful way. I’d seen other confrontations between you before. Confrontations that **weren’t** really. He told you what to do, and you did it, period. Glaring maybe, frustrated often, but defiant? With one rather glaring exception, no, you didn’t defy him that I’d seen. I couldn’t  imagine then what would make you speak to him in such a tone.’ 


Ran had gone pale, eyes wide. Yohji reached over and took his hand. ‘Ran? Babe? What’s wrong?’


‘Yohji’ Ran whispered, ‘this….’ He cleared his throat,  ‘this has to be the day…’ he swallowed and looked at Yohji, unable to finish.


Yohji turned an angry glare on Masato. ‘OK. Spill.’ He barked, ‘what’s got him upset like this?’


I’m sorry, really’ Masato replied. ‘I never meant to upset you.’


Masato stopped a bit, watching Ran. ‘Though, given that other exception of defiance, in your father’s conference room, also concerned Yohji, I suppose I should have known what had set you off.’


He stared intently at Ran. ‘you are obviously happy with Yohji. I don’t know what followed that day, but you are happy now, right? ‘ He looked at their clasped hands and back to Ran’s face.


‘yes.’ Ran cleared his throat. ‘yes, we are happy, and we are together. That, that day…..that quit?  And haven’t been in contact with my father since? So, you don’t know any follow up?’


‘yes. I quit that day. Almost immediately after you left. I haven’t had any contact with your father since. I actually left the country for a time. I went to Greece and Europe, only returning to the states, what?......right at two years go now, I guess. I opened this place only about six months ago.’ 


He looked closely at Ran. ‘I remember your face when your father told you .... about Aya....., and when he threatened Yohji, I thought-‘


‘threatened Yohji? What-‘ Schuldig cut him off. ‘what do-‘


‘’s OK Schu. I’ll explain the whole thing later.’ Yohji turned to Ran, looking at him closely. ‘the betrothal?’ he asked.


‘yes.’ Ran answered, his eyes closing briefly, ‘it has to be the day my father ordered me to marry. At first, I resisted, fiercely. But then…. He told me Aya was .... gone. That’s when I caved, but ...” he sighed, “for good measure, he mentioned .......what a shame it would be if my.... stubbornness .... persisted, and.” He looked intently at Yohji, “you were in an ‘accident’ or worse. … know the rest.” He glanced at Schuldig, ‘you both do…’ his voice trailed off.


‘I don’t understand.’ Masato spoke up. ‘you married the girl, I saw the announcements ….yet, you are here?’ He looked at Yohji, obviously confused.


Ran sighed. ‘we divorced. Yohji and I reunited. It’s….it’s a long story.’


‘oh!’  Masato took a drag from his cigarette, ‘and private I am sure. You don’t have to explain.’


He looked up, ‘I am just happy for you both.’ he studied Yohji more closely, ‘I see,’ he murmured, glancing at the painting again. ‘I see. Obviously he influenced your work. I had no idea you were Rook. I am very glad everything worked out so well.’


He smiled, then frowned. ‘I quit that day after you left. I was…..very…..angry with your father. Of course, I didn’t explain the details of my decision, he wouldn’t have cared anyway. He never had any idea that it had anything to do with you. But… was because of you, and your conversation, that I left.’


He gazed at Ran a moment, then looked down at their hands on the table and sighed. ‘I ….. I was once…deeply in love.’


He looked up, focusing on Ran. ‘my love’s father, thought I was …..beneath her’


His voice hardened. “I was only a chef….she was the daughter of a man of some prominence. She would be a lawyer, or a politician, someone of status and influence. She needed a husband of equal stature. We defied him. We, we were so in love…..she told her father she was an adult and it wasn’t the 16th century, he couldn’t dictate whom she would marry.’


Masato sighed again, quietly. ‘she left one day after a particularly bitter argument. She called me from her cell as she drove. Upset, angry, sad…..she’d taken her bags. She was leaving and wanted to marry me as soon as we could get away….. but…. Her father’d followed. She was on the phone with me, I could hear the traffic around her…..’ Masato’s voiced dropped to a whispered rasp.


He stopped for a moment, took a long hit from his smoke, then cleared his throat and sat straighter.


He turned his gaze to Yohji. ‘her father tried to pass a truck to stay close to her car. In his haste, he overcorrected as he came back into his lane and went off onto the shoulder, where he stopped. Even in her anger, she loved him. Her father. She’d watched him in the mirror, and saw what happened, was worried…..her father’s blood pressure..... she told me he was going to go back, just to make sure he was alright.” He closed his eyes, clenched his jaw a moment, then “I guess, in her state, she didn’t look closely. Or maybe, the guy was just going too fast…..”


Schu’s sharp gasp was loud in the tense quiet of the room, ‘anyway,’ Masato went on, quietly ‘she was broadsided as she tried to turn around. A large delivery truck was coming that way. He was unable to stop….he hit Joan at 45 or so….she was killed on impact….I was …..was still on the phone.’ Yohji’s eyes widened in horror.


Masato took a deep breath. he looked intently at Ran again. ‘when your father threatened the one you loved…..The first time, you stood up, defied him, and seemed to come to ... a decision. You would live, love, and .... he seemed to back down. I thought, fathers and sons fight. Disagree about what is best. I didn’t know Yohji or anything about him. Maybe Persia did, and really wanted to protect your reputation, or Krittiker’s’


Ran snorted, followed by Yohji’s scoff, ‘please’


‘But, that morning......when he crushed your spirit, so.... completely.’ Masato sighed, ‘I didn’t know you, not really. I still knew nothing of who Yohji was, or anything. But, when you broke there, capitulated, I determined at that moment I would have nothing more to do with your father. I left that afternoon. I didn’t leave for Greece right away. Not until after your wedding took place. I felt….very badly. For you, and for your Yohji.’


He smiled warmly.  ‘but now…I am so glad things worked so well in the end.’ he turned, grinning to Yohji, ‘and you are the Yohji of the hottest band in town right now, and one of MY favorites, WEISS. AND you like my restaurant. Life is good. I am very happy right now’


Schuldig laughed. ‘Yohji, you must plug this place yourself in your next appearance. To think, you had a secret fan for so long, one so secret HE didn’t even know who you were….and a fan of Rook’s from the early years.... all unknowing, just amazing’


Ran smiled warmly. ‘Masato, I would be honored to call you friend.’ He held out his hand


Masato started and stared a bit. ‘really?’ he asked, a somewhat dazed look going about the room. ‘friends huh?.... that, that would be…very nice. I would like that, very much.’


‘call me Ran.’ Ran told him, he turned. ‘this, as you so eloquently put it, is MY Yohji. Yohji Kudoh, of WEISS.’ Ran grinned. Yohji shook Masato’s hand, rolling his eyes,


‘A real pleasure. Honestly. And I DO like your joint. The crab cakes!’ Yohji sighed, ‘amazing.’ He smiled.


Ran smacked his shoulder, ‘ shameless. Stop hinting for goodies.’ He grinned again as he turned, ‘this is Schuldig, Yohji’s best friend since childhood, onetime almost manager of WEISS, soon moving to the area and, I am sure, a new regular customer. Another crab cake connoisseur.’


‘Masato.’ Schuldig shook his hand. ‘nice to meet you.’


‘and finally,’ Ran turned, placing his hand on Bradley’s  shoulder. ‘this is Bradley. Schuldig’s Bradley.’ He stressed the ownership smiling. ‘architect extraordinaire. Now for New World Industries.’


‘nice to meet you Masato.’ Bradley smiled warmly. Just as the introductions were wrapping up, two waiters entered the room bearing trays of steaming, sizzling food.


‘alright!’ Yohji enthused. ‘I’m starving!’ everyone laughed.


‘Masato, I have a gallery opening coming soon. I’d love if you would attend. I could drop off some VIP passes tomorrow if you’d like.’ Ran said as they were served their meals.


‘Truly? That would be wonderful, Ran. Thank you. And, you gentlemen must come by often. There is a back entrance where the hounds cannot bother you. I’ll leave word with the staff for your admittance. Please use that entrance whenever you come. I’ll show you before you go this afternoon.’


He stood, straightening his jacket, ‘I must say, looks like a good day. I am very pleased to have met you all. I hope we can get to know each other better.’ He smiled, a lazy warm smile that sent a very unexpected warmth to  Ran’s gut. ‘Yohji, I’d love to extend the private entrance to your bandmates as well. If they also enjoy seafood?’


‘yeah, absolutely,’ Yohji swallowed. ‘we’ll all stop by next week sometime so you can meet the guys. Hey!’ Yohji’s eyes lit up. ‘You have to get to know Jei. He has a restaurant too!”


“really?” Masato seemed surprised.


“Yah. We were apart for a while, took a little over a year off from rock star life, and Jei, well, he’s always liked to cook. He doesn’t get to actually be there much now, but it’s still his place. One of those places where you watch them slice and dice the food right there before they cook it up. His place is called Fello’s. It’s over near Rodeo. Schu here, he dabbles a bit too, mostly cakes and baking for him, and Ran” here Yohji smiled a proud, warm smile, “no one cooks like my Ran.”


He tilted his head, considering Masato, “Man, do you like, rent out the back room, or cater or something? Like, for parties? Holidays?’


Masato blinked, looking surprised. ‘well, we have this area, and one larger room, or if the party were large enough I could close  to the public I suppose. You want to host a party?’


Yohji turned to Schuldig. ‘what’ya think, Schu? The New Year’s shindig we talked about, with the band? We could have it here. Beats catering in… you know you won’t really be ready for any kind of crowd yet, and I’m right huh? About the crab cakes?’ he grinned at Schuldig’s blissed out expression.


‘yes Yohji, you are so right.’ Schuldig smiled. ‘that’s a wonderful idea. And could be great advertising for you Masato. A private New Year’s party for WEISS…’


‘that sounds great! For New Year’s Eve you mean? Of course we could accommodate you. Can you get me some details?’ Masato asked.


Bradley pulled out a card and wrote on the back. ‘here’s Schuldig’s email. He’s the planner of the group. And our number.’


Yohji grabbed the card and scribbled on the back, ‘here’s the email for Manx, our exec assistant, and Nagi too, our gopher extraordinaire. They’re the best’  He exchanged some information with Masato, promising to work out the details over the next week before Thanksgiving.


‘well, gentlemen. I really must return to the restaurant. Stay as long as you wish, and have Wendy, your server, call me before you go so I can set up the back entrance.’ He stood to leave.


‘thanks man!’ Yohji replied. ‘really. I will bring the band for lunch next week. You guys will hit it off I’m sure.’


‘I hope so Yohji.’ Masato shook his hand warmly. ‘it’s been a true pleasure. Have  a good day’ he left them to their meal.


‘well, that was very interesting.’ Bradley spoke up. ‘you two sure keep life exciting.’ He smiled. ‘imagine, meeting someone whom you impacted so strongly without ever knowing… he seems like a nice guy. And I am very impressed! Can this place cook some mean snapper! This is great.’ Everyone laughed…


The remainder of that day and the next were spent together, choosing furniture for the new condo, re-introducing Brad to the other band members. It had been a rough time when Yohji’d been away and Schu had let his involvement with WEISS fall away, keeping in touch mostly by email. Brad had only met the band a few times at the outset of their dating, just before Yohji’s departure.


Overall, the weekend was happy, fulfilling. Plans were again discussed for the coming Thanksgiving weekend and promises made to spend the holiday together.


‘you guys can just figure to stay with us whenever you need until the move-in. Aya will be coming in next week, she finished her semester early and is coming to scope out a place too. She gets the guest room, but we can set up the rollout in the music room. It’s about the size of a studio, you guys can stay there.”


“Really Ran?” Schu turned to Ran.  “Aya’s moving to LA too?”


“Yes.” Ran smiled. She is finishing her classes this week. As of Tuesday next week, she’ll be done with this semester. She’s transferring her courses. Decided across the entire country is too far. Finally. I think those pictures I emailed her two weeks ago of Yohji sunning by the pool out back clichéd it. She’d just been hit by an early mini blizzard.”


“well that’s great Ran. Really.”  Schuldig smiled, then his attention was diverted by a determined Yohji. “Ya know Schu, you can even start shipping some stuff on out to our place now. Go on and send a bit at a time as you get it packed. And bring some of the more personal, important stuff with you next week.’ Yohji admonished Schu as they made their way to the gate for their flight, and smiled a wry smile ‘you know, like pictures and stuff.’


Schu laughed, ‘pictures huh? Hmmm... maybe I will bring some pictures with. That could make interesting dinner conversation...’


‘hey now! That’s not exactly the plan!’ Yohji called out, punching Schu’s shoulder as they stopped at the gateway security point.


‘yeah, I know. But, now you’ve got a week to come up with blackmail payoffs to keep me from using them. Remember, I like pecan pie and cheesy musicals.’ Schu laughed, then sobered. ‘I enjoyed this week Yohji. I... I’ve missed you buddy.’ He leaned in for a fast hug and pulled back.


‘yeah bro, me too’ Yohji answered. ‘it’ll be good, real good, having you close by again.’ Yohji grinned, then turned to Brad, ‘take care of him man. Don’t make me have to string you up.’


Brad smiled, a warm genuine smile, as he pushed his glasses up. ‘No chance of that Yohji.’ He turned to gaze fully at Schuldig, “I love him. More than I think he will ever realize. My present, my future,.... my life Schu.’


Then, surprisingly, Brad lowered himself to one knee, right there before the gate, uncaring of the bustling crowds or those who slowed to see if what they thought they saw was really happening. He looked up to a stunned and flustered Schuldig, and took his hand. ‘Schuldig, lover. You have agreed to move across the country, to give up every aspect of your life and tie it to mine. I ask for more.’ He gazed at Schu for an untimeable moment, then went on ‘Marry me Schudlig. At the new year. We are starting a new life together, let it be a new life in every way. Marry me. Let me shout to the world that you are always, and only, mine.’


Schu stood, stunned, staring at Brad for a long moment in silence. Long enough that a crease of worry began to develop on Brad’s brow, before a shiver ran through Schuldig and he tugged Brad to his feet throwing himself into his arms, clinging to his back, ‘yes’ he hissed, ‘yes. Always Brad, for all of our future. For always.’


Schu pulled back and reaching pulled Brad down into a deep, passionate kiss. Then, smiling, he pulled back and turned to the stunned, but smiling Ran and Yohji. ‘didn’t I tell you he was incredible?’


Still smiling, Schu focused on Yohji, ‘you know, this means you have to be my best man, right? Is WEISS’s schedule ok for a New Year wedding?’


‘yeah man, no problem!’ Yohji ;laughed, ‘we are only getting started on this new album. It’ll be at least summer before a release, and fall before a tour, if we take one.’ He sobered and reached for Schu’s hand. “I would be honored, beyond belief, to stand for you for this. You know that.’


He turned to Brad. ‘Good man Brad. Good man.’ He held out his hand and shook Brad’s hand firmly. “I don’t have to tell you what forever means to Schu, what family means. You know his childhood. Thank you, for knowing what it means, and for acting on it. Welcome to the family” he pulled Brad in for a quick, shoulder thumping hug just as the flight announcement came over the loud speaker. Then turned to Schu, We’ll turn that New Year’s party with Masato into a New Years Eve party and a reception the next night. Cool!.”


Ran stepped forward, shaking hands with both, and giving his own congratulations, before a hurried departure for their plane. “Email me Schu, we’ll sort everything out.” He called as Schu waved just before they turned the corner at the end of the hallway to sprint for their security gate. Smiling, he turned to Yohji. ‘let’s go home Nissho.”


‘Yeah. That sounds good Babe. Real good. Home.” Together they made their way to the parking garage. ‘wait’ll I tell the guys! Schu, married! Man...’ Yohji shook his head in amazement. ‘that’ll be some two day party.’


‘Schu was certainly surprised,’ Ran commented as they walked along.


‘yeah,’ Yohji grinned ‘he was. He has always had this complex. Like, no matter how good he was, inside, where it counts, he never really thought he was good enough. Not for someone to really love. A brother, like me, sure. But, after us, I guess... he just figured if it didn’t work for him and I, as close and compatible as we are, that close friends, maybe with benefits, was as good as it would ever be. There wouldn’t be anyone to really, forever, love him. I’m glad he found Brad. He’s happier, more confident in who he is, than I’ve ever seen him.’


Yohji stopped and turned to Ran. ‘you think.....’ he trailed off, then took a breath, ‘you think we should... have a ceremony? You and I? You know, make it official?’


Ran turned, tracing a hand over Yohji’s hair. ‘Yohji. Nissho. I love you, and I know you love me. We have our rings, we have the paperwork filed as next of kin for medical purposes. We don’t need California’s blessing to be soul mates. Besides, WEISS is just getting back on top. Let’s think about it before you take that step. There would be no keeping that from the press. A relationship is one thing. Legally married... that’s...’


Yohji glared a bit, ‘you think I care about that?’


“no, I know you don’t Yohji. Just... let’s think about it, and talk again, after Schu and Brad’s ceremony. Besides, we don’t want to trample on their news.’


Yohji huffed a sigh, ‘fine. But we will talk about it, again, after then. I wanna think about it Ran. I know the paper isn’t important, and I know you think it impacts WEISS, but we will talk about it again.’


‘I promise.’ Ran smiled. ‘for now, let’s get home. It’s been a long week, and I am way behind on my work.’


‘hmph’ Yohji snorted, and turned up the aisle, looking for the Porsche. ’fine,’ he grinned, ‘but a nap first. Then you can work.’


Ran sighed and smiled, ‘yes Yohji.’


They made their way through the parking lot, hand in hand, content.


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