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On to Part 20.

Weiss and Schwarz do not belong to me. I'm borrowing them for my and (I hope) my readers' amusement only and have no intention of trying to make money off of them in any way, shape or form.

Warnings: Swearing. References to past child sexual abuse. Nonconsensual sex. Bondage. Although I'm setting this a couple of years past the main series, Nagi's age combined with his actions may squick some people. Also, I'm ignoring Gluhen, Side B and the drama CDs, so don't expect this to be consistent with them.

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: Nagi x Yohji. References to Crawford x Aya-chan.

Author: The RCK
Last updated: 10 August 2010

Thanks to Daegaer for various bits of beta reading, commentary and encouragement.


rhe-o-tax-is: the tendency of an organism to move in response to the stimulus of a current of water, either with the current or against it

Part 19

"Are you sure it's safe?" Yohji circled around the language teaching device. It looked uncomfortably like the sort of thing a mad scientist would use for brainwashing. Even down to the helmet with all the wires coming out of it. I'd rather not sit there and let whatever it is.

"It's quite safe." Nagi sounded amused. "It's already been used on Fujimiya and Tsukiyono. No booby traps. We'll be keeping it on the base for a while, so you'll be able to acquire other languages after the Taisken has settled. Assuming you want to."

Yohji continued to hesitate. I have to. He wants me to, and I need the language. I'll be a little less helpless. He didn't let himself look at the self-effacing technician. Non-entity. Even more than I am. He took a deep breath, bowed to Nagi and said, "As you wish."

Nagi grinned. "Yes."

Yohji sat in the chair. At least there are no restraints. I could get up. If I wanted to.

"There's a shot now. You won't feel anything else." Nagi moved in close and put his hand on Yohji's shoulder.

Yohji could feel the technician's irritation. Nagi-san is in the way. "How long will it take?" He'd asked that before, but he thought that asking again might keep Nagi from noticing if the technician were fool enough to let his emotions show.

"Half an hour at most. You'll be out a little longer than that, but it won't seem like anything."

Yohji nodded and started counting. He hardly noticed the pricking in his neck.

"The sedation eases the confusion of the language implantation by keeping you from being aware as the new words move in."

That would be anxiety inducing. One moment, something's one word and then it's something else. You know it was different, but you can't touch it. Half your words in one language, half in the other. Do people get dizzy from that? I'd think they would.

They used this on Omi. Omi's catatonic. Did it hurt him? I wish I dared ask. But I don't--

"How do you feel, Yohji-kun?"

Yohji blinked. Did I miss something? "I'm ready to start," he said. A little of that didn't make sense. Was that a Taisken word?

The technician removed the helmet. "We're done, sir," he said to Yohji. He bowed to Nagi. "Telekinetic First Naoe, I don't anticipate any problems for him. His responses were all well within normal ranges for a human his age, and it's not unusual for a person not to recall the start of the sedation. If he has any trouble with headaches or nausea, summon medical assistance. If he starts mixing languages, let me know immediately."

Done? We can't be done. Yohji stared at Nagi. Except I understand the technician.

"Of course," Nagi said. "We'll call on you next week. There are other languages he should know." He smiled down at Yohji. "It's a much easier way to learn English than never ending classes. Would you like German, too? Those are the most useful Earth languages they currently have."

Yohji blinked. 'English,' 'German' and 'Earth' didn't make any sense to him. He could guess what languages Nagi meant, and 'Earth' could only mean one thing, but the terms weren't part of the Taisken vocabulary he'd been given. Barbarian dialects from a barbarian planet, I'm sure. The gap in his understanding made him a little dizzy. That he couldn't even name his own planet in his mind seemed a vast loss. Temporary. It's temporary. A few days, two or three at most. He inhaled sharply. I can't name my country or city, either. He forced his lips to form the alien word. "Earth." It felt wrong.

Nagi frowned. "Don't force it. You can learn those words right now, if you want, but it's unnecessary work. They'll feel wrong for a while."

"It's important." Yohji reached for the right way to address Nagi. Telekinetic First Naoe is wrong. It's too formal. Nagi is too informal. He frowned. "There's supposed to be something in between." He looked down at the floor. "What should I call you?"

Nagi pulled Yohji to his feet. "I told you the first day that I don't care."

But you do care. Yohji's shoulders tightened as he followed Nagi toward the kitchen.

Behind them, the technician packed up the machine.

I suppose he'll see himself out. "I want to get it right." Yohji didn't look up as he walked. "There are holes where some things ought to be."

"Sit over there." Nagi pointed toward the stools by the counter. "Say 'san.' Sah-n."

Yohji sat. "Sah-n," he repeated obediently.

"Nagi-san." Nagi emphasized the gap between name and honorific. "It's an honorific, a polite one."

Yohji smiled. "Nagi-san." It didn't feel right in his mouth, but he was glad to have the right form back. I need that much to stay constant. "If I learn other languages, you'll have to keep re-teaching me this. It matters."

Nagi's smile of pleasure told Yohji that he was quite right to think it important.

No matter what language I'm speaking, I need that. Actually, in languages other than...our own, it matters more. Nobody else calls him what I do. "What now?"

"Lunch. Then we meet your empathy teacher. She'll give you lessons until she's satisfied with your control and shielding."

She? Oh, no. No. Not a woman. He'll get jealous. That's dangerous for her and for me. Maybe she's old or he knows she's a lesbian or-- "What's for lunch?"

Well, I guess I don't have to worry about jealousy after all. Yohji wasn't sure if he could edge away from his new teacher or if that would be a deadly insult. A cricket. A giant cricket. Sort of. Those legs-- arms-- limbs-- look powerful. I doubt I'm fast enough to face that. He knew he was staring, but he couldn't quite bring himself to stop. Do those patterns on her mean something? Are they painted or did they grow that way? What's that box for?

Nagi gave an abbreviated but polite bow. "Empath Second Chekree, I very much appreciate your willingness to help me in this matter."

Chekree laughed. Two of her legs scraped together. She made sounds that made no sense to Yohji. Then words issued from the box hanging around her neck. "When the High Lord asks, willingness comes quickly."

She's amused. Truly so. Yohji found himself relaxing a little. Maybe this won't be so bad. He kept his mouth shut. Nagi'd told him not to speak unless addressed directly, not until the formal lesson had begun.

Nagi's answering laugh was less genuine. "The situation is rather urgent. We've already had trouble once."

Empath Second Chekree bounced a little in place. "Indeed. An impressive show of raw strength. After reading the report, I checked the shielding on the training room. It would not do to have further accidents." She clicked a little in a way that Yohji interpreted as fussiness.

Nagi stiffened. "The shielding in my apartment is more than adequate now. You can train him here."

Yohji flinched.

"I could." Empath Second Chekree's expressions were hard for Yohji to read, so he focused instead on the feel of her.

She's going to fight him on this. She feels it's important.

"Proper training," she went on, "requires a dedicated space, somewhere the student can associate with the teacher and the lessons and nothing extraneous."

Nagi frowned.

Yohji echoed the expression. He had to work at remaining silent. Now he'll want to prove that he's not extraneous. He looked at the floor, hoping that would keep him out of the blast radius. He could feel Nagi's anger deepen.

Then Nagi's emotions changed, smoothing and focusing. "Is that a polite way of saying I'd be a distraction?"

Empath Second Chekree waved a forelimb. "If I'd been properly polite, you wouldn't have noticed."

Nagi laughed. "I do know I'm dealing with an empath. I expect to be managed."

Really? Yohji stopped himself from pursuing that thought. Later.

Empath Second Chekree made a clicking noise. "I prefer to establish honesty as a precedent. We're stuck with each other until your slave is trained to the High Lord's satisfaction."

Nagi bowed in a way that was utterly Japanese. "As the Highest wishes, then." He straightened and flicked his fingers in a dismissive gesture. "My token of ownership is not yet ready, so he cannot yet leave these rooms unescorted."

I'll ever be able to? Yohji could feel nothing from Nagi now. He must not want her to know how he feels. He rubbed his arms and shuddered as if chilled.

Empath Second Chekree rubbed her arms together. "Understood. Will you accept my escort?"

"Another day, yes. For today, I'll leave the two of you here. I've work that needs doing anyway." Nagi put a hand on Yohji's shoulder and squeezed lightly. "Make sure he eats a little every hour or so."

Yohji couldn't stop himself from looking up at Nagi, but he did stop himself from speaking. He swallowed hard before looking down again. Nothing for me to say. Nothing at all. He watched as Nagi gathered a few small devices and packed them in a bag. After Nagi went out the door, Yohji looked at the floor again. I'm not inviting...anything.

Empath Second Chekree made a noise that Yohji couldn't interpret. "Look at me. We'll accomplish nothing without that."

Yohji looked at her. He wanted to ask her questions, but he wasn't sure if that was allowed. Nagi-san didn't say what I should do. What's safe?

"You may speak. Do you have a preferred form of address?"

"I'm Yohji. My family name is Kudoh. Nagi-san calls me Yohji-kun." He didn't stumble over the honorifics. "As long as Nagi-san doesn't mind, you can call me whatever you like." If he objects, he's likely to express it...vehemently. Be prepared.

He felt waves of calm, a soothing peace, wash over him. He sighed, tempted to allow himself to drift. Instead, he pulled himself stiffly upright in his seat and looked at his teacher. He said nothing.

She made a sound that he took as laughter. The emotion accompanying suggested nuances that he couldn't quite understand. "You're not quite broken. Interesting."

"I think I am. It's easier to be."

"I suppose it is. I shan't be encouraging it, however. When you really break, you'll likely affect his mind, too." She reached out and lifted Yohji's chin. "He's that entangled. I'd read it as adolescent infatuation, powerful but passing, but the High Lord thinks you could make it more. If you want to. Do you?"

Yohji fought a flinch at the feel of her skin against his. "I want to live." He knew that much. "He protects me, but he's dangerous, too." Honesty might be a bad idea here, but the High Lord already knows all of this. Does she want something different?

"You may call me Chekree when we are private." She moved back, letting him go. "I would usually start with shields for you've none, but I think I may need to work differently. Yes. You're surviving by feeling him. Shielding will cut you off for a while."

Yohji felt his mouth go dry. "That would be...." Deadly. "...unsafe, I think."

She tapped one appendage against another. "Be grateful. The High Lord wants you alive. He believes you're good for young Telekinetic First Naoe."

Yohji bowed his head. He studied his hands. Nothing about me, just about him. Well, I knew that.

"You're an empath, Kudoh. It's always going to be about someone else. If you had a rarer talent, the High Lord might consider upsetting his new pet over a third tier talent, but empaths are common as grass clippings." Chekree made her laughing noise again, but this time the accompanying emotions carried little humor. "And no, I'm not reading your thoughts. I've got your unshielded emotions and my knowledge of your situation. The rest is easy."

"Even across species?" Yohji deliberately chose the one question that steered into what he hoped was safer territory.

"I know humans." Her emotions became complicated enough that Yohji couldn't understand them. "Anyone working for this High Lord has to."

Which implies that other High Lords don't have many humans around. Yohji licked his lips. "I have a lot of questions about--" He waved his hand around to indicate their surroundings. "I need to know so much." He suspected that his emotions revealed his desperation.

"I'll answer some questions, but that's really not my task." She moved to the other side of the room. "I'm tasked with teaching you to control your gift and with testing you to see if you've any others. I'll also be teaching one of Precognitive Second Crawford's dependents to shield, so you'll not be my only concern."

One of-- Ran? It's got to be Ran. Yohji kept his expression calm out of reflex. "I see. I won't impose, then, but I'll be happy to get anything."

For several seconds, she said nothing. Then she said, "I'll suggest certain teaching materials to your master. Whether he allows them or not will be up to him."

Yohji allowed himself to hope. "He wants me able to go out eventually."

"He might want to watch you struggle."

And then comfort me afterward. Yohji looked away. "That's up to him."

"You might ask him yourself."

The suggestion sounded casual, but the sudden absence of emotional information from Chekree made Yohji sharpen his attention. That matters. If I ask, I'll do it right. Maybe if I suggest that I don't want to embarrass him... "Tests within tests within tests."

Chekree applauded. "Indeed. I'm glad the High Lord didn't overestimate your intelligence." She went quite still, fixing her multi-faceted eyes on him. "Never forget that I'm not here to make anything easier for you. That may be a side effect if you're lucky, but it's not the point. The point is avoiding accidents like your outburst the other day. The point is making sure that Telekinetic First Naoe is stable and happy and above all useful. Anything you do to achieve these ends will benefit you. Understood?"

"Yes." He did understand. He hated it, but he understood. I don't matter to any of them. Nagi-san wants a sex toy, so he gets one. I may be mildly regretted, but they don't think I'm worth more, not with him on the other side of the scale. I'm tied to him now. He didn't allow himself to think about Ken or Ran or Omi. I can't help anyone else, not yet. Eventually maybe, if I play everything right, but not yet.

"Excellent. Our first exercises will focus on identifying clearly what you feel so that you can separate what you feel from what he feels."

Nagi came back more than an hour after Chekree had departed. Yohji was lying down with something cold over his forehead. He'd napped a little but had been awakened by feeling Nagi's approach. She's right. I'm very...aware of him. I have to be.

Chekree had been brutally honest about the life of a slave, but she had also noted that only Nagi and the High Lord had the right to punish Yohji. Other first tier talents might demand that Nagi do so or request it of the High Lord, but no one else had the right. She'd added that, as Nagi had accepted her and the High Lord had assigned her as Yohji's teacher, she also had the right to punish him. "I don't expect to need to." Her emotional overlay had made it clear that she expected Yohji to be smart enough not to require it.

As he heard the door opening, Yohji rolled out of bed. He staggered a little as he stood but soon found his balance. He kept the cold pack in one hand and headed out toward the living room, trying to make it look like he was seeking a replacement. It's really not as cold as it once was. That's true enough. Hell, he feels cranky and tired. He stopped the moment he saw Nagi and gave a small bow. "Nagi-san." Does he want me to kneel? No? No. He doesn't. "Can I get you something from the kitchen?" He held up the cold pack in silent explanation.

Nagi frowned but didn't feel angry. "You look like shit." He set down his briefcase and walked over to Yohji, putting a hand against Yohji's cheek.

Yohji felt the minor spike of irritation that was Nagi's usual response to remembering that Yohji was taller than he was. Yohji considered dropping to his knees. But I can't do that all the time. There has to be a way to make it appeal to him. Somehow. Otherwise, he'll look for a way to change things. I bet that wouldn't be as minor as my body hair. "Empath Second Chekree has high standards." He kept the words as flat as he could.

Nagi patted Yohji's cheek and smiled. "Good. That means she knows what she's doing. I'd rather have you work harder now than risk damage later. What did she start with?" The words sounded casual, but Nagi's intent behind them was sharp enough to hurt.

"Finding where I am," Yohji answered. He looked down and to one side, avoiding looking down at Nagi. "She said I can't learn anything else until I know where I leave off and everyone else begins." Where you are and I'm not, really. "She did take what you said about food seriously. She said she'll be consulting with a nutritionist to suggest a diet for me." He let himself sag, let the exhaustion he felt show more strongly. Feel sorry for me, please.

Nagi softened a little. "We'll have a quiet evening tonight. Just us and some good food and a chance to rest."

Yohji felt the whisper of lust there and guessed that Nagi was suppressing it. "Thank you, Nagi-san." I am grateful. Really. Even if there will be sex. I'm not fool enough to think there won't be. He took a deep breath. And it's better if there is. I need the leverage.

"I'll speak with Chekree tomorrow about a reasonable schedule. You need time for other things. Training your mind will mean nothing if you don't get a chance to exercise physically, too. Physical stamina helps." Nagi sounded utterly certain.

Probably personal experience. It makes some sense, too. Yohji simply nodded.

"I've asked Crawford for time in his private gym. You're not ready to be around a lot of people yet."

Which implies that I will be eventually. "May I sit?" Yohji thought he might not need to ask, but he didn't want to discover that he was wrong.

"Of course." Nagi stepped back to let Yohji get to the couch. He held up his hand, and a new cold pack floated in from the kitchen. "You'll want this."

Yohji accepted it and plastered it across the back of his neck. He let his body fold down onto the couch. And now he's taller. That's good.

Nagi started stroking Yohji's hair. "When you can shield, you'll be able to come with me during the day."

You'll be able to show me off. Do you really think I'm worth that? I suspect most people wouldn't want me. Which do you prefer-- That no one else want me or that they want me desperately without being able to have me? Right. So I have to be desirable without looking like I'm seeking it. The pain in Yohji's head spiked as he tried to figure that one out. Maybe soon he won't want me all the time. And that has problems, too. "There's so much I don't understand." Yes. That's a way to do it. "She said you had to pay reparations for what I did, that you'd have to again if I make more mistakes, empathy mistakes or...just mistakes." He didn't have to work at sounding upset. She also said that I'm powerful enough to train to be a low second tier talent. Assuming I can learn control.

"Shh." Nagi rubbed Yohji's back gently. "I'm not worried, and I've still got the orientation materials they gave me. You can read them."

That was...too easy, and he's not as cranky as he was, just from touching me. Really-- Just from touching me? "I'll learn," Yohji promised. I have to. He leaned into Nagi's hand. "Empath Second Chekree scares me a little. Not because she's a whatever she is. What is she?"

Nagi made a deep chirping sound that lasted for more than a second. Yohji was sure it couldn't come from a human throat. "In a language humans can manage-- non-telekinetic humans, anyway-- they're called ch'krtt."

Yohji twisted to look up at Nagi. "That still doesn't sound like something humans can say."

Nagi laughed. He sat down on the couch and pulled Yohji down so that his head rested in Nagi's lap. He slipped fingers under Yohji's shirt to touch his chest. "Why is she scary?"

Because she is. Yohji knew he had to come up with something better. "She feels very solid. In my head, I mean. I can't mix her up with anybody else." With myself. "She's also...hard. There's no--" He wanted to shake his head but refrained, fearing it would aggravate his headache. No sympathy. No compassion. No kindness. Humor and glimmerings of good will yes, but nothing unearned. "I don't know if I can meet her expectations."

"The ch'krrt are all projective empaths. Most are low level, but even the infants project. People who deal with a lot of telepaths have different standards for privacy. People who deal with a lot of empaths...harden." Nagi traced patterns on Yohji's skin. "Empath Second Chekree is quite powerful. She can't afford any softness."

Should I take off my shirt? No. He wants me lying down. He'll tell me, won't he? Yohji closed his eyes. "How long will the headaches last?"

"I don't know. I had about three a week for the first year of my training, but telekinesis isn't like empathy, and...." Nagi hesitated. After almost a minute he went on, "Rosenkreuz really didn't know what it was doing with me." His fingers wrapped in Yohji's hair and tightened.

Yohji held his breath as he felt the couch start to shake. What do I do? How do I stop him?

Nagi took two deep and measured breaths. "Just as well. They'd never have let me leave." His grip on Yohji's hair relaxed. "What have you taken for the headache?"

"Nothing?" Yohji didn't want it to be a question, but he had the feeling that he was somehow at fault. Shift the blame. "My teacher didn't say anything about taking something. She told me to rest and wait for you."

The air around them went very still. "I will be having words with Empath Second Chekree."

Yohji shuddered, very glad that the cold control in Nagi's voice wasn't directed at him. "I can take something for this?" At least that will make the rest of tonight easier.

"If you can walk far enough to talk to a doctor. Though I suppose I could summon one." Nagi's emotions softened again. "I've told them that they're to treat you if you're ill or injured, so they will."

"If you hadn't, they couldn't?" Yohji was guessing, but he thought he was right.

"They'd be taking huge risk either way." Nagi brushed hair off of Yohji's face. "I made it clear that I value you and will not have your health ignored."

Yohji shuddered. "I can walk." He made no move to sit up. Better to wait for permission, and I'm not looking forward to the leash again. No, that's nothing. It's not like I wasn't owned before. Who'd have thought I'd remember Kritiker as non-intrusive and allowing freedom? This is more of the same, really.

"Before you get up...." Nagi sounded tentative.

But he feels pleased with himself. Better pay attention.

"I have something for you." Nagi lifted Yohji to a sitting position without using his hands. Nagi's briefcase hovered in the air in front of him. "I hope you like them." He flipped the lid open.

My eyes can still focus enough for this. Among the carefully placed devices and neatly stacked papers lay two wrapped things. Yohji had no idea what they might be. They were roughly cylindrical. "What are they?" He likes explaining things, and they are wrapped.

"Take them out and see." Nagi smiled.

Yohji reached out with both hands, letting the cold pack slide down his back. The two things were wrapped in cloth and felt hard under his fingers. He put them in his lap.

"Open them," Nagi urged.

Yohji tugged at the cloth. In another second, he'll be doing it for me. The cloth fell away to reveal metal, reddish yellow metal etched with black and silver patterns. He ran a finger over the surface then pressed a little. The metal gave under the pressure. The moment he pulled back, it reformed.

"It's soft for you or for me. For anyone else, it'll be hard. You could block a sword with one." Nagi bounced almost imperceptibly. "The left one has space for a wire. That'll come later."

When you're sure. Yes. Yohji picked it up and squeezed. It crumpled under the pressure. He pulled, and it stretched. He tapped it against his cloth covered knee and felt unyielding metal. "I'm to wear these?" He smiled at Nagi. "They're beautiful."

Nagi traced a black line. "They tell anyone who looks that you belong to me." He leaned in and kissed Yohji, turning Yohji's face so that their lips could meet. After he pulled back, he said, "It tells them not to touch." He stroked the side of Yohji's face. "Most people here will remember Schuldig."

Yohji swallowed hard. It could be worse.  "How do I put them on?" Yes, I'll put them on. Voluntarily. I've had my eyes open the whole time.

"There's a hinge and latch here." Nagi pressed his fingers against a bit of the pattern. "Learn that when your head is better. You'll need to take them off to wash, but only take them off in here or when you and I are private." He seemed to consider for a moment. "Or if I tell you to."

"Yes, Nagi-san." Yohji kept his eyes on the thing. What should I call it? Bracelet? It's too wide. Bracer? I'm not sure what one of those is. Armband? Maybe. I like that one best. Screw definitions. "Thank you." He held up his right arm. Put it on me, please. I'll do it if you want, but please....

Nagi's fingers closed around Yohji's wrist. A few moments later, cold metal pressed Yohji's skin. "Some day, you'll give orders with my voice. People will listen because of these." He kissed Yohji's hand. "I thought you'd prefer these to the other options. Crawford's consort wears a jeweled pectoral. I've seen tattoos and brands."

Yohji winced. "You said I can use these when I fight?" Let's talk about something else. "Won't they be soft because I'm wearing them?"

"They'll harden the moment something that's not you or me touches them."

Yohji made a thoughtful noise. "That'll take some training." Ideally against Ran or Ken and their blades, but I can't have that. He held up his other arm. Let's do this. The sooner I have something for this headache, the better.

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On to Part 20.