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Back to Part 5.
On to Part 7.
Disclaimer: 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
Warnings: Yaoi. Swearing. References to past child sexual
abuse. Nonconsensual sex. Bondage. Although I'm setting this a couple
years past the main series, Nagi's age combined with his actions may
squick some people. Also, I'm ignoring Gluhen and the drama CDs, so
expect this to be consistent with them.
Pairings: Nagi x Yohji. References to Crawford x Aya-chan.
Author: The RCK
Last updated: 24 April 2003
Thanks to Amy the Evitable and Briar Rose for beta reading this
chapter. Thanks also to Amy the Evitable for encouraging me to keep
writing and assuring me that it all could and did work.
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
I can't wait till Ran-kun's language lessons start. Omi looked
down at the pebbles piled around him and smiled sourly. Each one a
lesson to teach English to speakers of Taisken... I can't help
there must be an easier way. Well, obviously there is, and I
I could get it if I "woke up." It's just that Crawford takes me
lot less seriously when I'm catatonic, and Schuldig will be a lot
to fool if he actually starts trying to play with my mind.
But working on this keeps me from giving myself away. The
longer I watch Ran-kun, the more I want to smack him. That
would do wonders for my image. Although I suppose Ran-kun would
be astonished if
I restrained myself. We all know someone has to do it from time
I just wish it weren't so obvious that he's refusing to think!
Omi sighed. Maybe I should go poke at the surveillance systems
At least I'm making some progress there. He stood and stretched.
God, I wish I could do that in my body! I need to officially
soon, or I won't be able to move at all. I'll have to see what
Ouka-chan thinks; she's better at predicting Schuldig than I am.
He stretched further and pushed off from his platform. The speed of his
movement through the system still astonished him. As he neared his
objective, he immediately noticed that something had changed in the
flow of information around the apartment he shared with Ran. What
the hell? That's the security system, I think.
:Nii-san! Get back here!: The hint of panic
in Ouka's words told him that he didn't have time to waste, so Omi
twisted his path to send himself back to the world outside. Settling
back in his body hurt as he forced his senses into full alert.
Slow transition's so much easier... :What is it,
:Don't know. Ran-kun left for dinner on schedule.
He even apologized for leaving us alone. He's been gone
five minutes, I think. Then the door opened. Someone's
in. It's not Schuldig, and it doesn't sound like Crawford. Besides,
shouldn't he be at the dinner too?:
:Right. We'll play it close.: Omi strained
his senses. Yes. Someone walking. He's not bothering to be
quiet, but he's not very noisy either. :I think it's
better to keep my eyes closed, Ouka-chan. Make sense?:
:Yes.: Ouka's agreement came grudgingly.
:I think he knows what he's after.:
:Yeah, us. I don't like this.:
Neither do I. Especially given that something was different
about the surveillance system... On one side, change is good;
me see what does what. On the other... I don't see why
would make changes in order to come look at a comatose body. :I
need to check something in the system when we get the chance.:
:Don't leave me alone! I'm not sure I can protect us
against... whatever it is.:
:Shh. I won't leave you behind in this. I promised
I'd look after you, didn't I?: This has her worried.
I forget, sometimes, that she's not as cold as I am, that nobody
trained her for this.
Omi focused for a moment on creating a mental embrace for his sister.
Quiet footsteps entered the room and approached the bed on which Omi
lay. "So you're what he's paying for." The voice was quiet and
and quite unfamiliar to Omi.
:Ouka-chan? Any ideas?:
:Sorry, no. I don't think he's been in before, though.:
Omi heard the muffled movement of the chair that Ran had left by the
bed. He's sitting. I suppose that's better than some things
could be doing. There're some things we'd have to react to. No, don't
of that right now. We already worked out what mattered that way a while
"Schuldig and Crawford both insist that you can't hear anything anyone
says to you. They're probably right, but... They've each been wrong a
time or two before, so just in case... We've met before, at least in
I'm Naoe Nagi. And I won't hurt you. I made him a promise, well not
explicitly, but I won't break it without good reason."
Naoe. What the hell does he want? And who's he
:It has to be Yohji-kun. Who else could it be? I'm
more surprised he's being so polite.: Ouka's comment didn't
particularly surprise Omi. He was making no effort to keep his private
thoughts private, and when he didn't work at it, she had to make
an effort not to hear.
:I'm afraid you're right. It would fit with Ran-kun's...
Omi curbed his mental snarl in an effort not to let his emotions affect
"Why do you matter so much to him? Oh, I know what Kritiker's
psychologists think, but I'm coming more and more to the conclusion
that they're idiots."
The slightest rustle of cloth warned Omi before fingers brushed hair
off his forehead, and he suppressed a responding flinch.
"So why is he protecting you?" The fingers vanished, and Omi heard his
visitor settle back in the chair. "I appreciate it because it makes
some things easier, but an attachment that strong will get in my way.
is strong. Just the thought of you makes him bend." Naoe's tone became
little bitter; then he sighed as if relinquishing that emotion.
that, I'd have to overpower him every time I walk in there. Even now
he already knows what he's up against..." Nagi sounded torn between
and admiration. After a moment, he sighed.
:I do not like this,: Omi commented. :Whatever's
going on with Yohji-kun, Naoe's responsible.:
:And we both know what that "whatever" probably is,:
Omi reacted sharply to Ouka's response, shifting his focus away from
:Oh, nii-san...: Ouka sounded sad, and this time,
she was the one to enclose Omi in a mental embrace. :It has
to be rape. What else would have Ran-kun reacting like that?
And Naoe... He wouldn't have to overpower Yohji-kun for much else.:
Omi felt like she'd punched him in the gut. He clung to her mental
presence for a moment then steeled himself to listen to more of Naoe's
"He doesn't know you're like this. Crawford thought he didn't need to
know. I'm not sure I agree, so I may tell him. Then again, I may not.
I'd rather have him thinking about me. And he does. He'll forget about
the why, eventually."
Omi tried to focus his attention on the tone of Naoe's voice, on the
sounds of Naoe's movements. I have to know what he's doing. He
finding his thoughts wandering back to the thought of Yohji. I'm
doing very well for my people, am I? Poor Yohji-kun. Then Naoe
again, and Omi had to fight a shiver as the blanket lifted off his
What's he doing now?
"At least Fujimiya's keeping you clean. You weren't very before;
Crawford didn't want to waste the manpower. I want to look at you so I
him you're well. As well as can be expected anyway. I'll mention it the
next time he needs comfort..." Naoe's next words sounded almost
"He knows it's a trap when I comfort him, but he can't fight the need."
Oh, Yohji-kun, I'm sorry!
Naoe's hands smoothed the tee-shirt Omi wore. "If what he feels about
you is sexual, I suppose it's understandable. You're pretty enough."
:Nii-san--: Ouka hesitated then went on, :You
know perfectly well it's not your fault.:
:I know, but-- They're using me to make him
cooperate! I should have taken better care of him, of all of them.:
Ouka's unexpected profanity left Omi wordless.
"A diaper? I suppose that makes sense. I understand you're not always
still, and I can't really imagine Fujimiya dealing with a catheter
"Fujimiya..." Naoe's hand clenched in the fabric of Omi's tee shirt.
"Why the hell does he care what Fujimiya thinks?"
He's pissed. What's Ran-kun been doing? What's
Yohji-kun been saying?
"Does he think Fujimiya's going to punish him for doing what Fujimiya
told him to do? I looked at Kritiker's files on Weiss. Everything we
got. It says discipline is 'handled internally.' What does Fujimiya do
if you upset him?" Naoe fell silent and began smoothing Omi's shirt.
Of course it's handled internally. You don't think I'd hand
one of my people over to Kritiker just because he made a mistake?
:He doesn't think they're your people at all, nii-san.:
:Well, obviously, but...:
:You can't have it both ways.:
Omi couldn't think of an answer, so he changed the subject. :I
don't think, at least, that he's going to hurt us. Well, I don't think
he intends to.:
:No...: Ouka hesitated for a moment before going
on. :I don't think he's very... stable, though. And
why doesn't he use Yohji-kun's name?:
:I don't know. I think it's important, but... I
Naoe picked up Omi's hand and turned it over. "His hands are covered
with scars. What stories did he tell his lovers to explain them? Or
they all too stupid to notice and wonder?" He ran his thumb across
palm. "You don't have those sorts of scars, just calluses. Do you ever
to explain them to anybody?"
Omi kept his response carefully hidden from his sister. No. I
don't. It's hard to have a sex life or even a romance with my imouto
along for the ride. I even have to watch my thoughts to make
sure they're suitable.
Naoe shifted in his chair and sighed. He began a gentle massage of
Omi's fingers. "I should be glad about the Fujimiya thing, I know. It
makes it so much easier to separate him from the rest of you.
Fujimiya's about guaranteed to do something stupid, and then-- But that
means I have to let Fujimiya hurt him." Naoe's fingers tightened
briefly on Omi's. "I do not like that. He's mine. He even knows
it. He hasn't admitted it to me yet, but
he will. He keeps getting closer to it."
Rage flashed through Omi's body, almost making him spasm. I'm going
to kill you, you son of a bitch! Yohji's mine! He
belong to you-- He's Weiss, and Weiss is mine!
Only Ouka's interference kept him motionless. He snarled at her, but
she stood firm. :No, nii-san. Not yet.:
:When we can win. I don't think you can move fast
enough right now even with surprise on your side, and if you fail,
lost everything without helping Yohji-kun at all.:
Omi sighed mentally and forced himself to relax. :I think
I'd better go look at the security system. It'll at least get
me out of here until I've got my temper under control.:
:Yes,: Ouka agreed. :I think that would
be best. I'll keep track of what he says, and we'll go over it later.:
Ran barely restrained himself from slamming
the door as he entered his apartment. Damn Crawford! And
damn Kritiker for selling us to him! He took a deep breath and
glared at the wall. His hands wrapped themselves into fists. No.
I will not give
him the satisfaction. Absolutely not. He will not
this way. He forced his fingers to relax. Putting my fist
wall will just tell Crawford that he got to me. And give him
something else to make me pay for.
Rent! Fucking rent! Ran snarled under his breath. It's
not like we want to be here. Hell. What's he going to do? Evict
us? He took another deep breath. No. He'll just take Omi away
from me and make me ask Aya-chan for everything. Refusing to let
his bleak conclusions show, Ran walked toward Omi's room. I'll just
check on him...
Omi lay peacefully. Good. He's sleeping. Ran's
expression softened. I'll just take care of him first. Then
I'll deal with this anger. I just have to channel it properly...
"I'm back, Omi. Aya-chan's well. Crawford's... Crawford." His lips
twisted. I shouldn't worry Omi with this. "I'm sorry I had to
leave you behind. I hope you weren't lonely. I'm probably going
to be in and out a bit now. Aya-chan wants me to spend more time with
her." If he were awake, he'd know I was lying. But he's not
awake. He can't do anything here. "If I'm gone for long,
somebody else will be in to look after you." He
brushed hair back from Omi's forehead. "I hope you'll be good for
whoever it is. I suppose I shouldn't worry about that; you're always
well behaved." Well, unless you're trying to kill someone, but...
Damn. I wish you were up to that.
Finally satisfied that Omi was comfortable and wouldn't need attention
for a while, Ran straightened and turned away. "I'll be back later. I
need to practice for a while." And he'd know there was more to it
if he were... really here. He wouldn't let me lie to him. Who'd
have thought I'd miss that?
Once the bokuto was in his hand, Ran felt more certain of himself. I'll
just run through the forms until this is out of my system. He
focused his attention on his movements. No. Too stiff. Again. Again.
After a while, he paused to wipe sweat from his eyes. This isn't
working. Tough. There isn't anything else. Again. I'll work till I'm
too tired to think. Then I'll keep going a while longer. Again.
"You're really not getting anywhere, Fujimiya." The words came in a
An enemy! Ran spun, dropping into a combat ready stance.
Schuldig stood in the doorway, his shoulder leaning on the frame. "Some
things just can't be sublimated like that." He straightened up and
smiled. "Is violence your answer to everything? We'll have to teach you
other ways of sublimating..."
For all the world like I'm unarmed. Ran narrowed his eyes. "What
do you want?" Nothing good certainly.
Schuldig shrugged and used a hand to flip his hair back off his
shoulder. "I just thought I'd stop by and see how your evening went.
Well, that, and drop off a couple of videotapes." Schuldig looked Ran
up and down.
How the hell does he manage that? He makes me a toy just by looking.
Bastard. I won't be his toy.
"So, Fujimiya, no words of greeting? I suppose it's too much to ask of
you. Words aren't really your thing, are they? You're a man of action."
Schuldig smiled, and his eyes narrowed. "So if I step in there, are you
attack me? Not that I object; I'd just rather have it clear before we
:Like you don't know!: Ran aimed the thought like
a sword thrust.
:Well, you don't, do you?: Schuldig's
upper lip curled a little. "A brawl could be fun. Of course, whining
would be cheating." Schuldig stepped forward. "No complaints to your
Ran's breath hissed between his teeth. "Leave her out of it!"
Schuldig shrugged and took another step forward. "If you will. Of
course, we both know there's no way to do that, not really. She's what
everything's all about for you. That worries her, you know. She thinks
it's time her onii-san settled down with someone, had a life of his
own. Not her life." Schuldig took another step.
Ran took a half step backward. "What the hell have you been doing in
her head?" :Liar!:
Schuldig spread his hands in front of him. :That's hardly
kind, Fujimiya.: "When people think about things,
particularly--" Schuldig's smile had the sharpness of a knife wound.
"Particularly when they obsess, I can't keep them out." He took another
step forward. "She worries about you, and she'd like to see you happy.
Whatever it takes to make you happy." :Whatever it takes.
She really means that.:
Ran couldn't produce a retort, so he lunged forward. Schuldig dodged to
one side and laughed. Ran snarled and pursued.
:Playing tag are we now?: Schuldig sounded amused.
:You should have a better grip on your temper, Fujimiya.:
Aya-chan never asked me not to kill him-- Ran slashed at
Schuldig who somehow managed not to be there.
:No, she didn't,: Schuldig commented. :As
long it's not her, not Crawford and not yourself, she doesn't care. Of
course, I don't plan to let you kill me, but I think there are plenty
of options for working out your rage. Most of them even more fun than
:Somehow, I doubt that.: Ran felt a surge of
anticipation. His skin tingled as if Schuldig's blood had already
fountained forth, splashing Ran.
:I'd just like to point out that you're not going to get that
effect with a stick-- Not unless it's got a better edge on it than I
think it does.: Schuldig laughed and dodged again. :Even
aside the fact that you're exhausted while I'm just getting started,
do you really think you could? If you do manage to kill me, you'll have
to watch those tapes in order to know what's on them. You'd have to
Tapes? Oh, he said something about tapes. Who cares? Ran lunged
again. Actually... What the hell is on them? He felt a sudden
sinking in his stomach. Oh, no... He stopped dead. "That
American son of a bitch--"
Schuldig darted in and tapped Ran on the nose before jumping back out
of reach. "Got it in one! And here I thought you'd need at least three
guesses. Crawford was sure you wouldn't have forgotten."
Ran folded his arms across his chest. "I don't want them." His stomach
knotted. I might be able to get some more clues by listening to
No. I can't. Kudoh's shame, his weakness... I don't want to see it.
Schuldig stepped close and pulled the bokuto from Ran's grasp. "Think
of it as another way of sublimating, Fujimiya." He tossed the bokuto
a corner. "And you do want to see it." He leaned in to whisper in Ran's
ear. "Believe me. I know. I know you watched, that every noise, every
touch got you going. You want that again and again. You can't touch
Kudoh right now, but you can imagine doing it, can't you?"
No! Ran's breathing became ragged. I do not! I won't. I
:You can. It's not even hard.: Schuldig's breath
warmed Ran's ear. "Kudoh won't know, and you don't care what he thinks
anyway. After all, who is he?"
Ran's thoughts tangled. Kudoh's-- A teammate. A slut. A friend.
Weak... Helpless. "He wouldn't know..."
Schuldig pressed himself against Ran's back. "Not unless you tell him.
Does that thought appeal to you?"
Ran's eyes widened, and he stiffened but didn't pull away. No. I
don't want to hurt him. But... I do. No. Absolutely not. We're all
"Are you, Fujimiya? Is that what you want?" Schuldig wrapped his arms
around Ran's body. "If you want to be a victim, really want it, I'm
I can oblige." He sank his teeth into Ran's ear.
Ran jumped a little, more startled than hurt, but still made no move to
pull away. Why the hell am I still here? His throat tightened. It
would be justice of a sort, wouldn't it? If I let him hurt me... An
image of Kudoh, splayed against the wall, terror in his eyes, flashed
Ran's mind. Kudoh with his head to the floor in submission. Kudoh
on his back waiting for Naoe... He felt a warmth and a pressure in his
groin. No. It doesn't touch me. I'm not--
"Oh, yes, you are." Schuldig fluttered fingers along Ran's collarbone. :You're
really delicious, did you know that? Quite a combination of flavors...:
"The lust is there. That and the guilt. You want him, and you think you
shouldn't. Why shouldn't you? Or do you want me to punish you for it?
You can't lie to me; I know you want someone to so you can feel like a
Ran jerked against the pressure of Schuldig's arms. "Let go of me!" I
can't-- I need to-- I want to-- No!
:No. I'm not letting you off that easily.: "Ah,
Fujimiya, you don't really want me to let go."
Ran jabbed an elbow backward, aiming for Schuldig's stomach, but it was
a half-hearted effort at best. "Let go of me..." :Please.:
:Is that really what you want? Do you want him or do you want
me? Or do you want both of us? Will you feel better about your
desires...: "It's all about power. You have it. He doesn't.
He's weak. You're... not. Just a little demonstration, that's all." :Would
you rather be Kudoh or Nagi? Which would you enjoy?:
I don't-- No. I deserve-- Stop it! Ran began to shake.
:You don't have to scream. You're loud enough under the best
of circumstances.: Irritation tinged Schuldig's mental
voice. He ran one of his hands down Ran's chest and abdomen, stopping
just above Ran's waist. "It's not about what you deserve, Fujimiya.
It's about what you
want, about making you happy. We want to make you happy. It'll make her
Ran felt his knees give out. "You bastard..." he whispered. "What are
you doing to me?"
Schuldig caught Ran's weight easily and lowered him to the floor.
"We're just talking about options, nothing complicated." :Is
it so bad to want something? It's natural. Very natural. And he is
An image of fingers stroking the length of Kudoh's spine as he slumped
forward pushed its way into Ran's mind, followed by an image of the
same fingers caressing Kudoh's chin. Kudoh's eyes were closed and his
jaw slack. Ran twisted to stare accusingly at Schuldig.
"Oh, he is beautiful, isn't he? Even I can't resist, and he's not
exactly my type. Too easily broken. Too weak. But... a delicate beauty
that begs to be touched, to be owned. Don't you agree?" :Yes,
you see it too.
Don't bother to deny it.:
Yes. I see it. I-- No. It doesn't matter. I should strengthen Kudoh,
not take advantage of him. Ran curled his body in on itself.
:But if you watch those tapes, he'll never know.:
"Whatever you decide, I'll be here for you, to advise, to assist...
Whatever you may think you need."
And there it goes back to normal.
consciousness pulled back together at the thought. He'd diffused
throughout the security system in order to get a better sense of what
changed and when it changed again. I think he had all the
I can do that now. It's not quite what I want, but it's a start. With a
practice, I think I'll be able to read the audio and visual. In fact...
He let his attention submerge in the programs again. I know what
the apartment looks like, and Ouka-chan can help me tell what it sounds
any given moment. Now...
An indefinite time later, Omi emerged to hear Ouka calling him. :Nii-san!
Nii-san, Ran-kun's back.:
:Actually, Ouka-chan, I'd noticed.: Omi kept his
mental tone dry.
He felt Ouka's shock. :What? Oh! You got it working! That's
She practically squealed with pleasure. Then her tone became more
serious. :That's really good. Schuldig's poking around. He's
not interested in us; he's focusing on Ran-kun.:
Omi frowned. :That's not good. Crawford's already got him
tied in knots. He's trying to practice to get his anger out, and he
can't. There's no flow at all. He really needs to learn some better
:Can you show me?:
:I don't want to leave our body unmonitored...:
:Like anything's going to happen now. Come on, nii-san,
you're leaving me all the boring bits-- I put up with it because this
is an emergency, but... Really.: Omi could almost see her
:Well... I suppose it can't hurt.: Omi extended
his senses and shared what he saw and heard with his sister. :Oh.:
He felt a sudden break in the power flow. :That's the front
door opening.: He fumbled for the appropriate camera and
just managed to access it in time to see a flash of orange hair. He
shifted his attention forward for a face shot. :Not like
there was any doubt. It's Schuldig.:
He focused his attention on the German telepath. :What the
hell does he want?:
Apparently unwilling to risk distracting Omi, Ouka remained silent. He
could feel her continued presence, however, as she bristled at the
of Schuldig. It's good to know my back's covered...
Schuldig watched Ran silently for a few moments while Ran remained
oblivious to the fact that he was no longer alone. Yes, Ran-kun's
a bad way. And Schuldig's not about to help. He watched, and he
listened, paying careful attention to details of facial expression as
Schuldig made his presence known. Damn! He's playing with Ran-kun,
and I'm only getting half of this at best. Damn, Schuldig! I didn't
need any more reasons to
kill him. Omi spread himself further among the security programs,
for better visual angles, for more ways to keep track of what was going
That can be used as a monitor... It's not meant to be, but it'll
I think he's doing more than playing. Yes... Well, we knew he played
sorts of games, pulling out all the nastiness that people wouldn't
He didn't realize how far the bits of himself had gone in the computer
network until his rage spiked as Ran collapsed in Schuldig's arms.
:Don't do that, nii-san!: Ouka's mental fingers
clutched at Omi.
He snarled and tried to throw her off. :I'll kill him! I've
got to kill him!:
:No. No, nii-san, you don't. Not now. Please-- We've worked
Omi's grip on the security system tightened as he tried both to hold
everything he'd touched and to pull himself back to his center. He felt
the programs begin to tear and forced himself to relax a little. :Go
back to our body, Ouka-chan.:
She responded with inarticulate suspicion.
:I won't hurt him. Not this time, anyway.:
:All right...: Ouka's presence melted away.
Omi reached out as far as his knowledge of the computer system would
let him go and started breaking things. He very carefully avoided
anything in the apartment until Schuldig reached the door on his way
out. Once the door slammed behind Schuldig, however, Omi let loose.
Circuits exploded. The
lights flickered. No. I'll need those. Some of the lights
Oh, well. Just don't harm Ran-kun. I definitely need him.
He slowly disentangled himself from the system. The task proved harder
than he'd expected as bits of his psyche caught on newly warped
or encountered areas phasing in and out of existence due to power
I can use this. At the very least, I can talk to Ran-kun unmonitored
uninterrupted. Once he had himself reassembled, he twisted himself
the barrier back into his body.
The first thing he felt there was Ouka's fear. :I'm sorry,
Ouka-chan. It had to go somewhere.:
:Next time warn me!:
Omi wasn't sure what to say. His tantrum had only taken the edge off
his rage. First Naoe, now this! :We have to go talk to
Ran-kun-- No, Abyssinian. He won't listen if I address him as Ran, not
:We're going to wake up?:
:Nobody's watching right now.: He let her see his
fierce satisfaction at the damage he'd done to the Taisken system.
:Can Ran-kun keep us a secret?: Her doubt came
:No, but Abyssinian can.: Omi thought about
explaining the distinction more thoroughly then shrugged. She'll
understand on her own, I think. If she doesn't, she's not as smart as I
think she is.
Shrugging felt good. It was the first unplanned movement he'd made in
weeks. He rolled his shoulders then started stretching, relishing the
freedom to move.
:Careful, nii-san. It's been a long time.:
:I know,: Omi responded curtly. He sighed. :Sorry.
I need my body to work now.:
:Willpower alone won't do it,: Ouka said tartly.
Something for which Ran-kun should be profoundly grateful. It's all
that's going to keep me from slapping some sense into him. Omi
back the blanket and eased himself toward the edge of the bed. He
He fucking knew what was going on with Yohji-kun, and he didn't tell me.
:To be fair...: Ouka's tone told Omi that she
spoke reluctantly. :To be fair, nii-san, he thought we were
in the middle of traumatic flashbacks. I don't think I'd have told us
Omi's legs proved steadier than he'd expected.
:Ran-kun's been steering us around a bit, trying to keep us
in shape,: Ouka reminded Omi.
:Are you telling me I shouldn't smack him?:
:Well... He has been doing his best for you. I just can't
like the man.:
Omi refrained from a response, burying his own reactions deep enough
that Ouka shouldn't see them. I can't regret our father's death. I
but Ouka-chan... She loved him. That's why she has such a hard time
with Ran-kun. :What should we do with the i.v.? I don't
to drag the whole thing with us.:
:All we have to do is detach the tube. The shunt can stay in.:
Omi reached out, letting his habits take over the task of disconnecting
himself. He smiled. He didn't really need the advice, but the question
had served its intended purpose by distracting Ouka.
Finding Ran still huddled on the floor came as no surprise. Omi looked
down at him and let his anger surface again. "Abyssinian! Look at me!"
Ran raised his head, his normal stoic countenance missing for once. Oh,
yes. Schuldig got to him. The question is how badly? As Ran's eyes
widened in startled disbelief, Omi could clearly see the red streaking
them. Has he been crying?
"Omi?" Ran whispered. The tension in his face eased a little, and an
expression that might have been hope crept in for a moment before the
into place. "Bombay," he said in a stronger voice.
Shit. That makes it harder. However badly he needs an asskicking,
he's pathetically glad to see me. I shouldn't have left it so long. I
could have found a way to let him know. "Get up, Abyssinian. We
need to talk, and I'll be better off sitting." Omi kept his face and
voice hard. "I don't
know how much time we have before they get the surveillance working
Ran jerked slightly, for all the world as if Omi had hit him. He nodded
abruptly and rose. He moved stiffly, showing none of his usual grace.
Did Schuldig hurt him? Can he walk? Omi looked Ran up and down
with some concern then realized that the older man was trying to
conceal a hard on. Oh. Schuldig really did get to him. Omi used
the koi to suppress his urge to blush. My imouto should not be
seeing this. I didn't know he felt that way about... He shook his
head. "My room. Now."
As he turned his back on Ran, Omi heard Ouka giggle. :Really,
nii-san! It's not like he's got anything I haven't seen before.:
When Omi growled at her, she simply giggled again. :Besides,
you all feel "that way" about Yohji-kun.:
:I do not!: Omi was suddenly very glad that Ran
couldn't see his face.
This time Ouka snickered. :A girl can tell, nii-san.:
:Well, right now, the issue is Ran-kun and making him useful.
We don't have time for anything else.: There. I kept my temper
admirably. A man can only take so much harassment, even from his
imouto. Omi walked carefully back to his room and seated himself
on the bed. Now is not
the time to show Ran-kun any sign of weakness. He'll start thinking he
to take over to protect me, and I don't have time for a dominance
Ran pulled up the chair that Naoe had so recently occupied. He sat
I wish I had some real words of wisdom to give him... "From now
on, Abyssinian, you will not edit your reports to me except as
to deal with eavesdroppers. The bits and pieces you've given me to date
are not acceptable." Omi watched as Ran nodded. I suppose I should
glad it's Ran-kun. At least I don't have to listen to whatever self
he's told himself. Excuses are beneath his dignity. Of course, so is
"You were conscious?" The slightest hint of incredulity crept into
Ran's voice. A tinge of pink swept his face.
"For the most part. Even I need to sleep sometimes. You were simply
too... preoccupied to notice any signs."
Omi waved a dismissive hand. "Sees what I want him to see. You are not
to let anyone know."
Ran raised an eyebrow. "Schuldig will see it. Trying to keep it from
him-- Trying not to think of something only draws the mind to it."
"You'll manage." Omi gave Ran a serenely confident smile. "Now, report."
Ran frowned thoughtfully then nodded, his expression flattening. "I'm
not sure what you already know."
"Assume nothing." I probably know almost as much as you do,
Ran-kun, but it's just pieces of the puzzle. I need you to give me the
"Kritiker sold us to Schwarz-- Well, actually to Schwarz's new
employer, a group called the Taisken. They let me talk to Siberian
once, and he confirmed that it was Kritiker agents who came for us and
handed us over. They gassed us; he'd stayed up with his window open, so
he had time to get his mask.
He put up quite a fight, but..." Ran shrugged. "I think they're
him fairly well. At least, he's in a kind of medical place, and they
his bones and gave him plenty of stuff for the pain. We're in some sort
super secret base. I don't think we're even in Japan anymore..." He
his head. "I think they've got other people with weird powers, not just
and some of the people I've seen look... odd."
He's overwhelmed by this. No, not by the situation-- By not having
anything constructive-- or destructive-- to do about it.
"These Taisken, they're some sort of technical wizards. I've only seen
bits and pieces, but it's enough to know they've put a lot of money
R&D." Ran hesitated.
"Give me examples later." Omi waved a dismissive hand. I
could probably tell you more about that than you can tell me.
"They have Aya-chan too." Ran looked away. "Crawford got to her somehow
when I wasn't paying attention. They've been... involved... for a
he didn't bring her here until he brought us."
Ouka snickered softly. :She'd have to sneak around to see
anybody at all, let alone Crawford.:
"Are they threatening her?" One more person to look after...
Ran's response came with reluctance. "No." He clenched his hands and
reddened just a little. He still didn't look at Omi. "Crawford's
keeping me--" Ran turned to glare at Omi. "Now us-- comfortable because
it makes her happier. She... She keeps him happy, so we have clothes
and furniture and..."
Omi remained silent, watching Ran and waiting. Let him get that out
of his system for a while. He'll be useless until he scourges himself a
little with it. :What do you think, Ouka-chan, does
:It's hard to say, nii-san. Is she a lot like her brother? I
don't think he could fake affection. Conceal it, yes, but not fake it.
It's a bargain women know how to make the best of. She might be doing
well out of it and still not want to be there. She might be feeling...
betrayed if Crawford wasn't honest with her.:
:Hm. I think you might be over generalizing, Ouka-chan.:
:Well, I've never met her either, you know, so what else are
you expecting me to do? Now pay attention to Ran-kun. It'd be a pity to
get this far only to lose him.:
Omi sighed. "She's family too, Ran-kun. We'll take care of her." If
we can. "But it sounds as if they're treating her better than the
Ran brought his fist down on his leg and then stared at it for a moment.
That had to hurt.
You already told me that, but I suppose it matters a lot to you.
:That didn't happen in two weeks,: Ouka commented.
:Well, it could have, but she wouldn't know yet.:
:I think the problem has more to do with samurai honor. At
least Ran-kun's problem. He's ashamed. She's supposed to die rather
:Yeah, well... He knows that, too, or he wouldn't be so
upset. He doesn't want her dead. And he'd have enough trouble with the
her having a boyfriend even if it was done "properly." And this is Crawford
not some college boy from a good family. And he knows
sleeping together.: If it were my imouto, I'd be pretty damn upset!
Omi nodded. "We'll take care of that, too." If this were Ken-kun,
I'd put my arm around him, but... Ran-kun has never welcomed that sort
of thing. Also, it might weaken my position as authority figure...
:Not to mention potentially leading to other things... At
least judging by the state he was in a few minutes ago,:
:Ouka-chan!: Omi suppressed any visible reaction
to that and addressed Ran again. "What's the status on Schwarz?" Not
that that wouldn't distract Ran-kun from what Schuldig... I can't
even thinking that!
"I haven't seen Farfarello at all. Apparently, he's off receiving some
sort of medical treatment that Crawford thinks will help him."
"The Taisken have advanced medical technology?" Come on Ran-kun,
tell me about the koi...
"I don't know exactly... They did put something in us, well not in
Siberian, that would make us heal a lot faster. Little machines of some
shrugged. "They'll stop working in a few months unless we get boosters,
there's supposedly some risk that having them stop might kill us. I
know. I can't see the damn things or tell what they're doing."
Ah, temper... A good sign actually. Omi raised an eyebrow. "Have
you seen any evidence that these things work?"
Ran looked away again. "I haven't been hurt. Neither have you that I
Is he embarrassed that he hasn't put up more of a fight? Or--
:Don't be silly, nii-san. Notice he didn't mention Yohji-kun?
I think he knows a lot more about that than we do.:
:But is it time to push on that yet?:
"Abyssinian," Omi said sternly, "that wasn't quite an answer."
Ran turned to meet Omi's eyes. He pushed his chair a little closer to
the wall, a little further from where Omi sat. Ran almost seemed to
in on himself.
:He's almost breaking now...:
:We won't get anything if you don't push.: Omi was
certain from Ouka's tone that she was actually pleased at the idea of
causing Ran discomfort. :And it'll devour him if you leave
Ran raised his chin and forced his shoulders back. "They hurt Balinese
pretty badly a couple of days before they moved you in with me. He...
faster than he should have."
"Why did they hurt him, Abyssinian, and how do you know about it?" He'll
answer the second part first. I'm sure of it.
"Early on, I made Aya-chan ask Crawford to let me see all of you
regularly. The son of a bitch said that visiting would represent a
security problem, so he gave me monitors. I could watch all of you, all
of the time, as long as I never turned anything off. He likes putting
traps into things... This place--" Ran gestured around the room. "There
are two traps here. I had
to give up the monitors because, according to Crawford, they might
you." His lips twisted briefly. "And now he wants me to start doing
for him 'to pay rent!'"
"Good." Omi felt a surge of satisfaction.
For a moment, Ran looked stunned.
I really have to explain this? "He'll have to give you a weapon
for that, let you out of here for a while," Omi explained patiently.
least-- I assume that by 'jobs' he means killing. Eventually, someone
drop their guard."
"I... promised Aya-chan I wouldn't kill him."
:Oh, nii-san, I think she's a lot more of a volunteer than
Ran-kun wants to think.:
Omi nodded. "I'm not surprised," he told both of them, glad that the
response could do double service. "As it happens, I don't want you even
to try to
kill Crawford-- or any other member of Schwarz, for that matter. I
see any way that he wouldn't See that coming. It would only be a stupid
of getting ourselves killed." Omi grinned. "I'm holding out for a much
method... I'm sure, between us, we can come up with one." He sighed.
think of it as killing for Crawford-- It's for Weiss."
Ran actually smiled. It was just the faintest shadow of an expression,
but it was more than Omi'd expected. Good. He's not beyond reach.
that I thought he was.
"Now, Ran-kun, tell me about Yohji-kun." Omi kept his voice gentle but
firm. "I can guess some of it-- Naoe stopped by while you were out."
Ran went rigid. His eyes widened slightly then narrowed as he looked
Omi up and down.
"He didn't hurt me. Just looked at me and... talked. He said that he'd
made a promise about me, that I was what 'he' was paying for. Naoe
obsessive, possessive..." Omi kept his eyes on Ran. I swear, if he
a little less obsessed with his façade, Ran-kun'd be curled in a
by now. How much of that is Schuldig and how much... whatever else?
wanted Ran-kun to do something, and it sounded like it involved
I need more information.
When Ran finally spoke, the muscles in his face tightened as if the
words tasted bad, and the rhythm of his words seemed to indicate that
the words had sharp edges, were cutting him on their way out.
Kudoh to Naoe as a... toy. They made it clear to Kudoh that... They
if he fought or even said no, it'd be you instead. Hidaka's still too
hurt, and I... Aya-chan wouldn't like it."
Ran stood and began to pace. As he moved, he clenched and unclenched
his hands. "He got them to give him a few things, a futon and blanket,
a cup, that sort of thing, but..." Ran turned to look at Omi.
Omi pulled his legs up onto the bed and wrapped his arms around his
knees. "I see." And I do. It's definitely one of the frames I was
"How long has it been?"
"Since about three days before they moved us in here. I-- There were
two... encounters." Ran folded his arms across his chest then moved his
left hand up to his right shoulder. He shivered slightly as if with
cold, and his
fingers tightened briefly then released several times.
I have to make him be more specific. I need to know for Yohji-kun's
sake, and Ran-kun needs to face it so he can understand what Schuldig's
doing to him. "'Encounters,' Abyssinian? What kind of encounters?"
Ran turned away again, Omi went on, "If we're to complete our mission,
need complete intelligence."
"Mission?" Ran spun to look at Omi and almost snarled.
Omi lowered his legs, folded his hands and regarded Ran calmly.
"Mission. Do you remember, Abyssinian, what I said Weiss should do if
captured?" I hope he does. Of course he does. He never forgets
something like that. I
just have to remind him.
Ran's response was so quiet that Omi had to strain to hear. "First...
Don't die." Ran's voice shook just a little, and he turned away..
"Second... Help your teammates. Third... Escape. Fourth... Rescue your
Omi rose to his feet. "That's the mission. We've all managed priority
one, at least so far. Yohji-kun's doing his part toward priority two,
protecting me. Our job is to protect him." Omi crossed the room to
stand close to Ran. "But I need to know-- Protect him from what?" Omi
let the last word snap
out and wasn't surprised when Ran flinched as if struck. "Well?"
"I-- He-- They--"
"Fewer pronouns, Ran-kun." Omi reached out a hand and grasped Ran's arm.
"Naoe..." Ran looked at Omi.
He's trembling! Well, big surprise. He's been carrying all of this
"Come on. Let's sit down again." Omi tugged on Ran's arm, urging him
back toward the bed. And he's letting me lead him. I bet he was
near breaking before Schuldig shoved his oar in. I absolutely am going
to kill that German bastard. Slowly. He'll be happy to go to hell after
I'm done with him.
"Naoe..." Ran began again. "He... hurt Kudoh. Fairly badly, I think.
No, I know." Ran stumbled as they walked slowly back across the room.
Omi put an arm around the other man, offering symbolic support.
"You saw it?"
"No." Ran pulled away from Omi. "I-- I didn't watch. Kudoh... didn't
need more... witnesses. I couldn't... watch." Ran wrapped his arms
around himself once again, this time not even bothering to disguise the
If I don't get him sitting down, he's going to fall down. I am not
up to lifting him right now. Damn. Omi stepped in close again and
touched Ran's cheek. "None of us can manage everything. I'm sure we'll
what happened some other way."
Ran flinched from Omi's fingers then sighed and leaned in. "I know what
happened. Schuldig watched." Ran scowled. "He wouldn't shut up."
Oh. Ran doesn't feel bad that he didn't watch. He feels bad that he
didn't make Schuldig not watch or at least keep his mouth shut. Omi
slipped his arm around Ran again and exerted just the slightest
to push him forward. "I don't think you watching or not watching made
Ran's response came in a whisper just as they reached the bed. "He was
so ashamed. All I could do was tell him I wouldn't watch and then...
"Tell him? Here sit down." Omi suppressed an urge to smack Ran. Yohji-kun
knows how to put shame aside; he'll be fine. Ran-kun's still not
me everything, damn him. No. Mustn't yell. Mustn't hit him. Can't
the time to put him back together. Not right now. "Now, start from
beginning. Start from when Crawford gave Yohji-kun to Naoe."
:Yohji-kun knows how to put shame aside, nii-san. That
doesn't mean he doesn't feel it.: Ouka commented softly. :And
he knows Ran-kun. He'll expect to be despised. I think Ran-kun may have
been the only witness who mattered.:
:Do you think Ran-kun despises Yohji-kun? That could be a
Ouka hesitated. :I think that's what Schuldig was digging
for... and I don't think he can create something out of nothing that
Yes, but Ran-kun feels guilty for it. Without Schuldig, he'd probably
it wasn't there.:
Ran curled up miserably on the bed, and Omi, before sitting down
himself, arranged the blankets around Ran.
"I knew there was something going on when Schuldig showed up in my
room. He was like usual... You know."
"Yes. Yes, I do." What would be going too far here? Omi put his
arms around Ran and was surprised to feel the embrace not simply
"He told me to watch Kudoh's monitor, that there'd be a show. He was
just sitting there then, pretending to smoke, just being... Kudoh. Then
Crawford and Naoe..." Ran gestured vaguely with one hand.
Careful not to let it show, Omi ground his teeth. Just tell me!
You'll feel better once you do.
:I don't think he wants to feel better, nii-san. He thinks he
deserves it.: Ouka sniffed thoughtfully. :If it
weren't so inconvenient, I might agree.:
"They said he could help Naoe... learn... better than the rest of us.
That's why he... got a choice," Ran spoke the last word as if it were
bitter, "and you wouldn't."
"Help Naoe learn what?" Gently now. Steady pressure. No sudden
Ran shuddered and tried to pull away from Omi. Omi held tight. Ran
continued to shake for a moment before whispering, "Sex."
Omi squashed a surge of pleasure at having guessed right. Yohji-kun
being raped is nothing to be glad about. I'd rather have been wrong.
:I would too. Yohji-kun has a kind heart.: Ouka
hesitated then went on, :But nii-san, he's the one of you
best able to survive that. With luck...:
We can't count on luck. "What happened next, Ran-kun?" Omi
stroked Ran's hair, ignoring the heavy scent of the other man's sweat. It's
okay. You can relax. I'll take care of you now. I won't let Schuldig
hurt another member of my family. Omi felt a surge of emotion from
Ouka but didn't have time to ask her about it. :We'll talk
more later, Ouka-chan. Ran-kun needs us right now.:
Ran took a deep breath and seemed to steady a little. "Crawford showed
Kudoh footage from all of our surveillance cameras. Kudoh and I were
to communicate a little. I could hear him, but he could only see me. We
used hand signals."
"Clever." Omi let approval sneak into his voice. "But then you're both
good at improvising."
"Schuldig noticed and told Crawford." Ran's body tightened. "Crawford
thought it was funny. Bastard."
Right. We don't want to talk about Crawford. The rant's easier to
come by than the facts. "Good. As long as we amuse him, he won't
notice we're a threat."
Ran relaxed a little. "Then I let Kudoh know that I wouldn't watch. And
I didn't. I think he was glad."
"And what did they do to him?" Ran twitched, pulling his limbs in
closer, and a tiny almost sob forced its way from his throat. "Shh.
It's okay, Ran-kun. It's not your fault. You didn't do anything to him."
Ran reddened a little but didn't say anything for a moment. "Crawford
bound his arms and then left. Naoe... stayed. They talked, and Naoe fed
little. Then... Kudoh pissed Naoe off, and... Naoe beat him." Ran
slightly as if his position had become uncomfortable. "It went on
but Kudoh didn't make any noise. I... I don't think he could. Then
Ran fidgeted again. "Then he..."
Ah. "I know, Ran-kun. Was it..." Brutal? Cruel? Frightening?
Did it take long? God, I don't want to know. But I have to know. Is
right in thinking that Yohji-kun's breaking? Will he even be able to
if we show up to rescue him? How clever is Naoe about this?
"Quick. It was quick. I turned back... after. Naoe put him on the futon
they'd given him. He didn't look too bad then, but... After Naoe left,
he threw up." Ran tried to curl himself tighter, and Omi pulled him in
a little closer. "Schuldig thought it was funny as hell."
He doesn't want to give details. That's okay. I don't want to hear
:We need some, nii-san. Well, at least two details... I know
you don't want to ask, but... Did Naoe use lubrication and did he use a
:Ouka-chan! You're not supposed to know about things like
Omi felt himself start to blush and ordered the koi to suppress it. Ran-kun
would not understand, and under the circumstances...
Ouka made a rude noise. :Grow up! Kaa-san made sure I knew
that sort of thing, probably well before you learned it. Papa may have
acknowledged me, more or less, but I was only as respectable as he
bothered to make people think I was. The bastard daughter of a woman
who ran a restaurant.:
She fell silent for a moment. :Anyway, we need to know. It
says something about Naoe's intentions, either way.:
:Damn.: Omi sighed audibly. :You're
"Ran-kun," he began, squeezing Ran's shoulder gently as he spoke. "You
may not know, but... Did Naoe-- Did he use... protection? Did he do
to make things... easier for Yohji-kun?"
Ran twisted in Omi's arms, turning away. "He said that even Kritiker
didn't know where Kudoh'd been."
And you agree, don't you, Ran-kun? At least, judging by your tone,
:I think half of him believes Yohji-kun deserved it.:
Ouka's words burned like acid. :At least half. Maybe
Schuldig didn't have to work very hard after all..:
Omi closed his eyes, acknowledging the truth of his imouto's words. :And
he feels terrible about it, too. Show him a little compassion.:
Omi forced some humor into his voice. "Assuming Yohji-kun was doing his
job correctly, that's entirely true." He felt Ran twitch and heard him
Eventually, Ran went on softly, "I don't know for sure about...
lubrication, but... I think the damage would have been worse without,
and he did use
it the second time. Also, he... took time to... prepare him both times."
:How does he know about the amount of damage?:
"How do you know how much damage there was?"
Ran pulled away abruptly, and Omi let him go. Ran moved to face Omi.
"Crawford offered me another devil's deal. He said I could go in to
injuries, clean up the vomit, that sort of thing. I... couldn't say no.
I knew it was a trap; it had to be."
:Ouka-chan, you're better at this than I am-- Should I reach
out now or should I leave him space?: Omi met Ran's eyes,
carefully keeping all hint of judgment hidden.
:Not yet. Wait till he gets out whatever he thinks is really
going to piss you off. There's something, or he wouldn't have pulled
"I hoped we'd have a chance to talk, to try to figure out what to do
next, but... They had him drugged. He didn't even know I was there. I
washed him and bandaged him. Crawford must have laughed at that!" Ran
his face hardened. "I didn't know about the nanites then. The bruises
were... I've never seen him hurt that badly before. His shoulders... I
didn't expect him to be able to use his arms for... well, for a long
time." Ran's hands clenched.
"Careful you don't draw blood," Omi said mildly. But he's going to
anyway, I expect.
"I looked... there. Kudoh'd bled some. Naoe'd... Before he..." Ran set
his lips in a thin line then nodded abruptly. "Before raping Kudoh,
threatened to tear him apart using telekinesis. Kudoh'd pissed him off
It sounded like... like it hurt badly. I think the blood was from that
I am going to kill Naoe. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
Ran's hands clenched tighter, and he drove a fist into the mattress. "I
couldn't do it. I should have, but I couldn't." He looked down at his
fist for a moment before looking back up at Omi. "That American son of
a bitch knew exactly what he was doing!"
I knew we'd get back to Crawford eventually... Omi simply
nodded. Come on, Ran-kun, tell me. You want to, and we'll never get
if you don't.
Ran's voice lowered into a hoarse whisper, and it was obvious to Omi
that Ran no longer saw the room around them. He's back in
"Crawford told me to shave Kudoh, made some remark about not wanting
Naoe putting a razor to Kudoh's throat. He also said that it was up to
decide when Kudoh was "used up," when Naoe should move on to you." Ran
his shoulders for a second then relaxed them. He raised a fist and took
aim at the wall.
Omi put a hand over Ran's fist. "No. That might leave a mark. You'd
have to explain it."
Ran blinked then stared at Omi for a minute before lowering his arm.
"It was a good razor. A sharp blade. Easy to use. I calculated it. We'd
had at least five minutes if I'd used it. Five minutes before they
even try to bring him back. He'd have been free of it all. But... I
I'm sorry. I couldn't."
For just a moment, all Omi could do was stare at Ran. He really
thinks that'd have been a good idea--
:Don't be so surprised, nii-san,: Ouka commented
dryly. :You already explained to me how he feels about rape
By everything he believes, Yohji-kun should want to die and be better
:Yes, but...: Omi shook his head. "Ran-kun no
baka," he said softly.
Ran showed no signs of having heard. He started rocking back and forth.
"Kudoh's a slut. It's better that it's him. He didn't even try to
not like he hasn't done this before. He's a slut. Just--" The words
rhythmically, in time with Ran's movement.
Without even thinking about it, Omi swung hard, cracking the back of
his hand across Ran's cheek. "Shut. Up. Just shut the hell up!"
Ran froze, his eyes locked on Omi's. "I'm sorry. I couldn't. I just..."
He still thinks it's about not killing Yohji-kun. "Moron." Omi
spoke without rancor but let his anger show on his face. "Yohji-kun--
Balinese-- is doing his job. It's a job only he can do; any of the rest
of us... You do not have the right to make moral judgments
about Yohji-kun, and you especially do not have the right to decide
that he should die." More
cold rage, condemnation aimed at Ran, slipped in with each word. "Every
you call Yohji-kun a name-- every time you even think it-- Crawford
He gets exactly what he wants."
:Calm down, nii-san. If you lose your temper now, you'll lose
Ran opened his mouth then closed it again. He put a hand to his cheek.
He sounds hurt and betrayed. What right does he have to feel
Omi took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds before exhaling
slowly. Am I asking more of him than he can give? No. If it is then
I lose Yohji-kun, and that's unacceptable. He narrowed his eyes.
"What's happened is not your fault, but your reaction is your fault. I
will not have you hurt Yohji-kun any further, not even by disapproving
of his actions. Do you understand?"
Ran seemed torn between nodding and shaking his head.
Ouka laughed softly. :He's confused. You're going to have to
explain in very small words.:
"Which is it, Ran-kun?" Omi sighed and forced himself to relax a
little. I'm not up to hitting him again. I doubt the first time
even hurt him, just startled him. "Okay, Ran-kun. Step by step.
Crawford made sure
you'd be watching when he talked to Yohji-kun and wouldn't miss any of
so that you, either explicitly or tacitly, endorsed Yohji-kun's
to protect me." And judging by how guilty you look, it was
"Then he had Schuldig make sure you didn't miss any details, made you a
of the violation. Yohji-kun knew you were there. Then he made
decide twice, once by asking and once with the razor, that Yohji-kun
continue to be Naoe's victim, him instead of me. That made everything
happened to him your responsibility because you could have prevented
Having you wash Yohji-kun, touch him, that gave you a physical
to the whole thing."
Ran nodded several times as Omi spoke. Ran's shoulders slumped, and he
bent forward, supporting his weight on both hands. "I should have found
another way. I should have. I..."
Omi watched silently for a moment before going on. "Naoe said today
that he should be glad that Yohji-kun cares what you think." Though
I can't imagine why Yohji-kun cares. He knows what you're like.
"Naoe thought they could use that to finally cut Yohji-kun off from the
rest of Weiss.
They think you're our leader, by the way; don't disabuse them of the
I suppose they assume Ken-kun and I will follow your lead." You get
now, don't you? I bet you even understand that Schuldig wasn't just
you. That most definitely wasn't all he was doing.
Ran straightened up and frowned. Yes, that's right, Ran-kun. Think
it through. You can get it from here. I know you have a brain. Use it.
Omi sighed again.
:He won't get it, nii-san. You'll have to spell it out.:
:He'll figure things out. He's not stupid. Obsessive, overly
focused, yes. Stupid, no. Don't underestimate him just because you
Ouka snorted but refrained from further comment.
:Just watch the thoughts chasing across his face.:
Omi prodded her a little to make sure she continued to pay attention.
:He usually doesn't have that much... expression.:
:He's very near to breaking, Ouka-chan. The certainties of
his life... Well, let's just say that this situation overturns all of
All he's had left is his self-control, and Schuldig and I, between us,
:Schuldig would have done it even without you. And he
wouldn't have Ran-kun's best interests at heart.:
:And we do?: Omi had to voice his doubt.
:Oh, stop that! Pay attention, nii-san. You'll do what you
have to to get as many of them as you can out of here. Whatever it
:Even if it means you have to be nice to Ran-kun?:
He hadn't meant to express that doubt.
:Well... I'd already made that decision you know. We need
him. Besides, he may be an ass, but he is good looking...:
She giggled at Omi's stunned silence then became more serious. :I
it would work, nii-san. It might be the only thing that'll protect
him against Schuldig.:
:I--: I can't believe you're doing this to me.
:Sex, Ouka-chan? I don't know if that's a good idea.:
And I don't think I can do it with you here. It might work, but...
Omi couldn't quite block a shudder.
:What, are you planning to live celibate forever? This is
something we're going to have to deal with, nii-san. If not with
Ran-kun then with
someone else. I'm not about to let you cut out part of your life like
I think I've been very patient about it, but I do notice when
get... frustrated. And I am here when you wake up aroused after one of
Ouka's tirade startled Omi into a temporary silence.
Ran finally looked up. "They want me to rape Kudoh." He made a flat
statement of fact, and his face showed no doubt as to his conclusion.
"They want me to pull the last supports out from under him." He frowned
in the way that Omi recognized as a veiled snarl.
"Yes." Omi nodded and traced a gentle line along Ran's cheek. "That's
what they want, Crawford, Schuldig, Naoe. They're not taking you very
seriously, I think. They believe they can make you jump any way they
want to, but I
know better. You know better."
"I'll die first!"
Omi sighed internally. Right. I should have known. "I don't
think it needs to come to that, Ran-kun." He let a little humor leak
voice. "I'm sure there are less drastic solutions to the problem."
:But none so appealingly melodramatic.:
:Hush!: "After all," Omi went on. "We have some
advantages that they don't know about. They think, for example, that
I don't plan to enlighten them."
Ran looked sharply at Omi. "Just how are you managing that anyway?
Schuldig's certain, and Crawford seems convinced, too."
Omi hesitated, groping for the right words. "I've learned some things
over the last few years. I wasn't sure they'd work, so I never said
With Schuldig, it's a matter of mental discipline and knowing what he's
expecting to see, what he wants to see." Will that be
enough? He met
Ran's eyes and saw more questions there. No. I guess not. "With
Crawford... I'm not exactly sure. I have the impression that I'm sort
of a blank spot for him. He's assuming I'm not important because he's
not Seeing anything about me, but..." Omi shrugged. I know why
Crawford's not seeing me,
but I'm not going to tell him about Ouka-chan. Not now.
"There's more, isn't there?" Ran sounded almost eager.
"Um... I've noticed a certain affinity for computer systems... beyond
what I'd thought I had. I can get into their systems now, Ran-kun." Omi
little excitement, awe, leak into his voice. "I don't know what I'm
with there, yet, but I think... I think that given enough time I'll be
to get most of their systems working for me. I just cracked the
surveillance system on our apartment today. Fairly soon, I'll have them
seeing and hearing exactly what I want from here."
Ran's eyes widened.
Yes. Pay attention to that. It's more important than my being able
to hide from Schuldig or Crawford not seeing me. You can quantify it,
:Just kiss him, nii-san! That'll keep him distracted.:
:I told you to hush!:
:It's not like you don't want to--:
:It's a bad idea.:
:He's not pulling away when you touch him. In fact, he seems
to find it comforting. He'd let you, and he'd like it.:
:Somehow,: Omi responded dryly. :I
don't think Ran-kun would let me... dominate the interaction, and
anything else... I need him to follow my orders right now. He's never
been easy to control under the best of circumstances, and these
:I told you there were drawbacks to controlling them by
making them protective.: Ouka sounded amused.
:Yes, but we decided it'd be easier to fool Kritiker that
way. You agreed to that!:
"Omi-- Are you all right?" Ran's concern broke Omi's focus on his
argument with Ouka.
"I'm just a little tired, Ran-kun." Omi forced a smile. "This charade
hasn't been easy physically or psychologically. Once I get the
surveillance system fully under control, I want to wash thoroughly and
then walk around for
a while. My personal ambitions are small right now."
"I'm sorry, Omi. Now that I know..."
"You'll act exactly as you have done." Omi put iron into his voice. "We
can't let anyone guess. No one. Not even Aya-chan."
Ran looked pained, but he nodded.
Omi hooked fingers under Ran's chin and tugged till their eyes met.
"Don't make things harder for her. There's no need to do that now."
Ran froze for a second then very deliberately leaned into the contact.
"Just let me know when it's safe for us to talk. I'll assume we're deep
:I think, nii-san, that Ran-kun agrees with me about the
possibility of being distracted...:
:Shut up, Ouka-chan. Just shut up.:
Back to Index.
Back to Part 5.
On to Part 7.