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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
Author: The RCK
Warnings: minor angst, BDSM,
telepathy induced amnesia, AU ignoring Gluhen, the drama CDs and so on
Summary: When Yohji needs to
unwind, he turns to Schuldig.
Other Notes: Written for
ramenkuri who won my Livelongnmarry
Auction offering back in July. She's been very gracious
about waiting for me to get done, even though I've gone more than three
weeks past my deadline. I hope this is the story she's looking for. I
tried to minimize the angst.
Posted: 25 November 2008
Thanks to my beta readers, Hope of Dawn, Chichiri no Da, Daegaer, and
Truth. Thanks to Olna Jenn for cheerleading and other encouragement.
Rituals and Observances
Yohji hesitated before ringing the doorbell. I don't have to. I could go to Okinawa. I
could go camping. I could-- He pressed the button. I want to, though. When I'm with him, I'm
real, not just going through the motions. Him and missions. The
rest.... Gray and soft and nothing or hard and sharp and heavy.
He felt vaguely that he should care about the rest, should try to feel
those times instead of seeking Schuldig and killing so often. Twin vices, aren't they?
Schuldig didn't look surprised to see him. //Well, duh. I heard
you coming. And Omi called Brad.// He stepped back so that Yohji
could come through the door. "It's too cold to keep the door open long."
I wish Omi would leave me alone. This
is my business. He keeps pushing me. Don't I do everything I'm supposed
to? Yohji met Schuldig's eyes for just a moment then looked at
the floor as he stepped across the threshold. I could do something else. We could do something else. He walked
in far enough that Schuldig could close the door and stopped, letting
his hands hang at his sides.
"He worries." Schuldig put his arms around Yohji, leaning against his
back. //We could.
If you want but only if you want.//
Yohji sighed and sagged. I...I'm
here, and I don't want to think. I don't want to choose. I don't want
to let anyone down. I don't want to-- He refused to allow
himself to complete the thought. His hands shook as he tugged on the
bottom of his shirt.
//You have to make
some choices.// Schuldig laughed against the back of Yohji's
the entrance fee. If you want, you have to ask.// "You don't
even know how long you'll be here." He licked Yohji's neck.
Yohji shuddered. He tilted his head, yielding his neck to Schuldig. Letting go of everything else forever
doesn't sound bad.
"You know what to do." Schuldig stepped away. //You'd miss your
friends, Yohji, and they'd miss you.// His mind caressed
Yohji's, temporarily clearing away a few of the clouds. //If that weren't true,
you'd have...left by now.//
I'd stay for you. Yohji
wouldn't-- couldn't-- think of his friends.
Schuldig moved close again, just long enough for a kiss. //You need to stay for
Yohji shook his head. He turned his back to Schuldig and removed his
shoes then walked further into the apartment. He started stripping
before he reached the middle of the room. He put each article of
clothing carefully aside. When he was naked, he knelt on the floor.
Schuldig sat on a chair beside Yohji and put a hand on his hair. "Tell
Yohji cleared his throat. "Omi says--"
"No." Schuldig's hand covered Yohji's mouth. "Tell me what you want." //Do you want to go to
Okinawa? I could take you. If you really want to go camping, though,
you'll have to go on your own. I prefer soft beds, regular showers and
no bugs.// He studied Yohji's face. //Ken would probably go
with you. He's into that outdoor shit, and he likes you.//
Yohji choked on laughter that he couldn't bear to let out. "I wouldn't
ask you to go camping." I want--
Schuldig tapped on Yohji's throat. //Out loud. You get
nothing unless you say it.//
"I want.... I need to be helpless for a while." Yohji licked his lips. I should have had something to drink
before I came. "I...." Omi
says I'm trying to get myself killed. That wouldn't be so bad....
The telepathic equivalent of fingers flicked against a forehead hurt.
"Idiot." Schuldig wound his fingers in Yohji's hair and pulled.
We'd all be better off. We belong to
death. Wouldn't it be easier for all of us?
"I won't kill you. I won't let you kill anyone you love." //I'm too fond of you,
and Brad and Omi would gut me. I'm even fonder of my innards being in
the right place than I am of you.//
"Fuck me. Use me. Hurt me.
Please." The words came out so fast that Yohji barely had time to know
"Do you want to remember agreeing or not?" Schuldig stood up.
Yohji felt his breath stop for a moment. Oh. Oh, yes. Schuldig almost never
offered that. He said it was better for Yohji to know.
Schuldig took a few steps away. "Should I cherish you, too? I don't
have to, but I enjoy it."
"You decide." Please. Yohji
closed his eyes.
"No." Schuldig's refusal was adamant. "Once we start, I decide. Before
we start, you decide. If you don't, we won't start at all." //And you'll have to go
camping. With Ken. I'll make sure he goes along.//
"I...." Yohji tried to make himself think. "I don't want to remember." Not until after. I'll know what you
could have done. He looked at
his knees. "Cherish me if it pleases you." He looked up at Schuldig and
smiled with genuine sweetness. "I trust you." He took a deep breath.
"The usual limits. Nothing that would keep me from a mission if one
came up. Not that one will. Omi said--" He shook his head. Omi said I'm not safe for missions right
now. He was angry. No. Not angry. Frustrated and sad. Why? Why won't he
"Ah." Schuldig sat again. He lifted Yohji's chin and kissed him. When
he pulled back almost a minute later, he said, "And if I want to share
Yohji flinched. "Not with strangers."
"And if you don't know if they are or not?"
If I don't remember that I had a
choice, I won't remember the limits. Yohji shrugged. "If you
think it would be good." You should
enjoy this, too.
//I will. I always
do with you.// Schuldig ran his thumb along Yohji's cheekbone.
"You let me indulge my dark side." //I'm still amazed that
you trust me this much. Let alone that anyone else does.//
"Do you have a light side?" Now that the really hard part was nearly
done, Yohji was more ready to tease.
"I have a lighter side." Schuldig tweaked Yohji's nose. //I'll be careful.//
"I want to share a meal, maybe a DVD first." Schuldig sounded hesitant.
Yohji leaned his head against Schuldig's leg and sighed. "I'll just go
to sleep here and wake up...there?" He'd expected to start immediately.
"If that's too hard, I have the drink ready now." Schuldig rubbed
Yohji forced himself to think. Drinking the sedative himself let him
choose when to start his imprisonment, but he wasn't sure it was a
choice he could manage. It's for
him. He wants this, too, or he wouldn't ask. "I'd like dinner." I'd like making love, too. I want the
rest, but I want you, too. That surprised him a little. He'd
known that he loved Schuldig, but he hadn't thought he had anything
left to give. Only things left to be
taken. "At least, I'd like dinner if I can wear clothes and if
it's here." No other people. I can't.
Schuldig laughed and pushed Yohji's clothes off the couch. "As you
Schuldig whistled through his teeth as he checked to be sure Yohji's
wrists were firmly restrained. Yes.
Good. He will try to kill me
if he gets loose. He might even succeed since I don't want to kill him.
He attached a tether to the chain connecting Yohji's wrist cuffs and
bolted that to the floor. Half a
meter of play. More than enough. I'll shorten it if I need to.
He crouched beside Yohji's unconscious body. He ran his hands along
Yohji's hip, one up toward the chest, the other down toward the knee. All mine.
He stood up, stepped back and contemplated. The brown of Yohji's skin
showed well against the pale blue tile. Need to do something about his legs. He'll
kick if he can. Schuldig had no intention of underestimating
Yohji's abilities. He selected a spreader bar and fastened it between
Yohji's knees. One at the ankles?
No. That would be a weapon.
He knelt for a while, just watching Yohji sleep. I have to do this right. He was so fragile
yesterday. I should have told Brad where to shove that Hong Kong
meeting. I don't care how much money it's bringing in. Two weeks on his
own is too long for Yohji. Maybe in a few more months. He
brushed fingers over the scars on Yohji's abdomen. The real scars are harder to see. He's
starting to see them. Almost. Maybe. He didn't even have to
think about pushing aside the entangled hopes and fears sprouting from
thinking about Yohji changing. I
won't lose you. I won't. He only half convinced himself.
He touched Yohji's memories carefully, not wanting to undo the work
he'd already put in. Almost
drowning. Twine that with the fear that he wouldn't find the others.
From nightmares, add memories of wandering, lost and hurting, in the
dark.. Turn down the hurt. We want bruises not bullets. A final memory
of seeing me coming from nowhere. All his. Perfect.
He smiled. "You'll believe that, won't you?" He'd hidden Yohji's
memories of everything that had really happened since the collapse of
the museum by setting up a distraction loop. If he starts questioning too much, he'll
keep coming back to thoughts of my hotness. He snickered. Those are his, too. He smoothed
back Yohji's hair as he tweaked the loop to keep Yohji from undoing the
progress they'd made over the last year. He was falling then and pretending he
wasn't. If I hadn't stepped in, he'd have picked up a shovel, once he
hit bottom, and started digging. Idiot. My idiot. "No making
things worse, right?"
He checked the time. He still had at least an hour before Yohji was
likely to wake. Well, wake without
prodding. He considered the preparations he had left to make.
All the equipment he expected to need was already in the room or just
outside. Time for flourishes.
He left Yohji in the tiled room and went to the kitchen. He poured
himself a tall drink, heavy on the ice, and decorated it with a sprig
of mint. Just iced tea, but he won't
know that. Yes. His throat is going to be dry from the sedative. So
dry.... Every drop of condensation will be agony. He prepared a
tray of fruit slices and crackers. No
Will he remember that that's part of brainwashing? I hope so.
He grinned in anticipation. We're
going to war.
He started whistling again as he walked back to the tiled room. The
sound echoed through the empty hallway, bouncing back at him from the
stairs. Just the two of us, Yohji,
in more space than you can imagine leaving vacant. No one will hear you
scream, no one except me. Nobody else will hold you when you cry.
He settled himself in a plastic lounge chair and put his drink and the
tray of food on a plastic table. He leaned back, clasping his hands
behind his head and crossing his legs at the ankles. //Wakey, wakey, Kudoh.
Time for fun!// He prodded Yohji's mind toward wakefulness.
Yohji groaned and started to roll from his belly to his back. He tried
to throw one arm over his face to cover his eyes. He froze.
Even if I weren't in his head, I'd
know he was awake. "Guten Tag!"
said cheerfully. He knew Yohji would recognize the words as
German and draw the correct conclusion. "I'm planning to have fun," he
went on in Japanese, "and you're going to help me."
"Fuck off!" Yohji pushed himself up, finding the limits of his
restraints. He twisted until he could see Schuldig. He snarled as he
tried to find a way to free his wrists.
"Fuck off? Not a chance. Fuck you? Oh, yes. I plan to." Schuldig sipped
his drink then set it down carefully. He ran a finger through the beads
of moisture on the outside of the glass.
Yohji's eyes followed Schuldig's fingers. He swallowed. He inched
around, trying to find a position from which he could see Schuldig
Schuldig stood up. He walked over and put one foot on the spreader bar.
His hand struck rapidly, gripping Yohji's hair. "You're filthy." He
pulled and tugged, forcing Yohji to look up and back at him. "I have
standards. That means we start by washing." He stroked Yohji's neck
with the fingers of his free hand. And
you think about buying time. You think about lulling me by
cooperating when it doesn't matter. Oh, yes. But Yohji, when does it matter?
Apart from breathing and a slight tremor, Yohji didn't move.
No fool, Yohji mine. Schuldig
let go of Yohji's hair and made a show of wiping his hand on his pants.
"Two options. First, you cooperate, and we use a nice, pleasant soap.
I'll even wash your hair." He smiled, knowing that even the suggestion
that his hair was dirty was enough to make Yohji's scalp itch. "Second,
you fight me, and I use the heavy hose and douse you in disinfectant.
If you keep fighting, I shave your head." Yes. You wouldn't like any of that, would
you? //This doesn't have to be
miserable,// he whispered inside Yohji's head.
Yohji bowed his head. His thoughts ran in delicious circles, tightening
around awareness of his current helplessness and trying to avoid
considering that Schuldig might be in his thoughts.
Oh, I am. I am. Schuldig took
a deep breath in an effort to keep himself from wallowing. "I'm so
pleased to have a chance to play with you," he said. "I'm sure you'll
clean up well." He stepped back and retrieved two washcloths, a bar of
soap, a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner. He held the
items where Yohji could see them. "You're not going to fight me, are
Yohji gave the barest shake of his head.
Schuldig wasn't about to let him off so easily. "Say it."
"No." The word was almost inaudible, but Schuldig decided that it was
"Hold still." Schuldig set everything down again and proceeded to
strip. The psychological advantage of being clothed wasn't worth the
misery of being wet and clothed. He put his clothes on the high shelf
with the towels. "I need to wet you down first. You might want to keep
your eyes closed."
Yohji's thoughts announced that he couldn't imagine closing his eyes
under the circumstances, but he didn't say anything, and he didn't
move. He simply clenched his hands on the tether that bound him to the
Schuldig pulled a showerhead from the wall and used a gentle spray to
rinse Yohji's body and wet his hair. He didn't spare Yohji's face, but
he also didn't linger there the way he might have if he hadn't liked
Yohji. He used the showerhead to fill a bucket. "Later," he said, "much
later, we'll have a proper bath. If you please me." He showed teeth.
"Otherwise, I'll have a bath and just let you watch." You're realizing how thirsty you are,
aren't you? We'll take care of that later. He turned off the
Schuldig carefully stayed out of range of the tether. He doubted Yohji
had enough slack for a makeshift garrote, but he didn't want to find
out the hard way that he was mistaken. He moved the bathing supplies
close to Yohji.
Yohji reached for a washcloth then aborted the motion.
"No moving." Schuldig slapped Yohji's hand lightly. "That's a warning.
Next time will hurt." He dipped one of the washcloths in the bucket,
pulled it out and let it drip. He watched Yohji watching the falling
clean water.// He smiled, letting his pleasure in his own power
Yohji averted his eyes.
Schuldig rubbed soap on the washcloth and began washing Yohji's back.
He let himself enjoy Yohji's skin under his hands and the way that
Yohji's muscles kept tensing every time Schuldig moved lower on his
body. He reached around to scrub Yohji's chest. "How do you feel about
tit torture?" he asked. "I think you'd look pretty, decorated and in
Yohji's breath hitched.
Schuldig kept his hands gentle. "I don't plan to give you up, you
know." He finally let one hand descend to touch Yohji's cock. He kept
the other arm wrapped around Yohji, preventing any unconsidered
Yohji flinched at the first touch of fingers on his cock then set his
jaw and didn't move.
Oh, my sweet realist. You know you
can't stop me, and you're putting way too much effort into remembering
that it's me, into not remembering how much you love to be touched. If
I wanted to work at it, I could get you off with a hand job. Could you
bear the shame? If Yohji were aware of the game, Schuldig would
have tried it. As it was, he moved back up Yohji's body to wash his
Schuldig used the second washcloth to remove the soap from Yohji's face
almost as soon as he'd applied it. No
in the eyes. He worked the cloth around Yohji's ears
then inside the curves of the ear. Satisfied that he'd washed
everything above the waist, he sat back on his heels. "I'm going to
rinse you again now. Then I'll wash your hair. After that...." He ran a
finger across the sole of Yohji's foot. "After that, I'm going to wash
your legs and everything you really, really don't want me to touch."
Schuldig used the gentle spray again, giving Yohji mental orders to
shift so that the water could remove all the soap. He pretended not to
notice Yohji's attempts to drink some of the spray. He soaked Yohji's
hair until it dripped then turned the water off.
Yohji tensed as Schuldig came closer.
Schuldig allowed himself a laugh. "You can't change anything, Kudoh.
You might as well enjoy the parts that are pleasant." He poured shampoo
into his hand then started to work it into Yohji's hair.
Yohji took a deep breath, held it for a count of three and released it.
He repeated that over and over as Schuldig massaged his scalp.
Am I that terrifying? I suppose I
must be. He's not stupid after all. "Lean your head back. I'm
going to rinse this." He tugged on Yohji's hair.
Yohji arched his back and threw his head back, using the tether as an
Schuldig had to give himself a moment to enjoy the sight. Then he
played water over Yohji's head, letting it run and run until he was
sure most of the shampoo was gone. He smiled. "Bend forward this time.
I don't want anything left underneath."
Yohji bent forward, letting his head dip toward the floor.
Very good. Very, very good.
After turning off the water, Schuldig repeated the process with the
conditioner, taking more time to comb the stuff through Yohji's hair.
He allowed himself a bit of time for caressing Yohji's neck and torso. We're supposed to let the conditioner sit
for a little anyway.
When Schuldig stood up to rinse away the conditioner, he said, "You
have a choice on the next part. Would you prefer to lie flat while I
wash you or would you prefer to be on your feet as far as that tether
will allow?" He really wasn't sure which Yohji would choose. Either will be humiliating.
Yohji inhaled in an audible gasp.
"Lean your head back." Schuldig deliberately didn't look to see which
option Yohji favored. Too much fun
imagining both of them. Well, there will be other occasions, I'm sure.
Yohji pulled harder on the tether this time. Schuldig suspected he was
trying to break it.
Good luck. That's rated for several
times your weight. At least he's smart enough to grip and pull rather
than destroying his wrists.
When the water stopped, Yohji lowered himself onto his forearms and
started easing his legs backwards.
Schuldig allowed himself a moment of regret that he wouldn't be seeing
Yohji bent at the waist with his ass in the air before he gave himself
over to enjoying what he was seeing. He walked over and ran his damp
toes over Yohji's back. He put most of one foot on Yohji's ass and
pressed, using a fraction of his weight. The tense stillness under his
foot told him as much about Yohji's fear as the breathless cacophony of
his thoughts. He pushed his toes into the crack of Yohji's ass and
wiggled them. Then, as if nothing had happened, he knelt beside Yohji
and started washing his feet.
Schuldig worked his way slowly up Yohji's legs. He could taste the
dread in Yohji's thoughts and smiled at the realization that Yohji had
worked himself up to thinking that something terrible was going to
happen. Schuldig spent a lot of time touching Yohji's ass before he
parted the cheeks. I don't need to
torture you. You're doing it all for me. He sluiced the area
with water then ran the washcloth back and forth repeatedly, pressing
on Yohji's anus each time. Yes, I
could. I won't right now, not yet. He poured more water in to
wash away the soap.
Giving in to a different temptation, Schuldig dropped a kiss on Yohji's
tailbone. He nibbled, kissed and licked every available bit of skin,
reveling in Yohji's repeated shudders. When he raised his head, he
said, "I'm not going to hurt you. Yet. You've been very good, and pain
is something we'll work our way up to."
Yohji gave a choked laugh. "As long as I don't piss you off, right?"
Schuldig patted Yohji's leg. "Time to turn over." He stood up and
stepped back. Can he do it without
help? He thinks so. He just doesn't want to.
Yohji lay still only his hands moved, clenching and unclenching.
//If you can do
it, I won't make you beg for water.// Schuldig left the
repercussions for failure unspecified. I'll think of something if I need to.
Yohji took a deep breath. He pushed himself up so that his hands
supported his torso. He dug in with his toes, trying to see-saw
forward. His left foot slipped, and he fell. His knee smacked against
Secure in the knowledge that Yohji couldn't see him, Schuldig winced in
he whispered, knowing that Yohji was desperate enough to have
considered licking the floor.
Yohji fell twice more before he managed to get his knees under his
hips. He crawled toward the tether anchor then raised himself up on his
knees. He leaned back, using tension on the tether to maintain his
balance as he worked his feet further forward and climbed toward a
crouch. His feet slipped again, and he came down hard on his ass, but
his legs were in front of him.
Schuldig applauded. "Very good!"
Yohji scooted around so that he was looking at Schuldig.
He's still holding onto pride.
"Say it." //You
can't afford pride, Kudoh.//
Yohji looked away. "Water," he said. "You promised not to make me beg."
"Making you ask is different from making you beg." Schuldig retrieved a
water bottle and a straw. He held both so that Yohji could drink. He
used his free hand to move wet hair off of Yohji's face. "There are
rewards for pleasing me."
Yohji closed his eyes and kept drinking.
Smart. I know what you thought of
saying, but you didn't say it. You will want the rewards, desperately.
"You keep hoping they're going to come through the door to save you.
They're not." The instant terror that swept through Yohji cut at
Schuldig so that he added, "No, they're not dead." You haven't lost them. You didn't let them
die or get them killed. He let the words flow without thinking
about anything but not letting Yohji blame himself. "They just think
you are. They stopped looking for you when Manx and Birman told them
they'd found your body. The ladies lied about the body to give the
others closure. Most of the bodies sucked down won't be coming back up."
Yohji's breathing stuttered and stopped for a few seconds. His
shattering loss sliced at both their minds, breaking the barriers
Schuldig had set to protect the already repaired portions of Yohji's
psyche, but barely showed on his face. He shook. His eyes widened.
Shit! Of all the times to believe me--
Schuldig dropped the water bottle and pressed himself close to Yohji. //Don't you dare fall apart on me!//
He kissed Yohji, trying to get closer physically as he threaded his way
into Yohji's mind. Fuck. I forgot
how fragile he was then. His scheming was masking it. "They're
alive, Kudoh. They're mourning you. If they knew you were alive, they'd
tear this city apart looking for you." //You exist. You're
Yohji shook. He turned to press his face against Schuldig's shoulder.
I ought to pull away. He'll wonder
later why the vicious sadist cares. No later doesn't matter. What-- No.
That's not where he needed to break. Hell, he didn't need to break, just bend and relax a bit. Schuldig
for the pieces of Yohji's reaction in his mind, blunting the
edges, smoothing the tensions. He didn't look at the content of the
thoughts. There wasn't time. The texture had to be enough to guide him.
He forced Yohji's mind into unconsciousness and temporary stillness.
He lowered Yohji to the floor and started unfastening the restraints
even as he continued moving through Yohji's mind. I fucked up. He trusted me, and I fucked
up. I won't know how badly until he wakes up. If he wakes up. He will.
He has to. "Be okay, Yohji. Please." I don't think I can survive without you.
No. That's forbidden. No. They can't-- Estet can't-- "If you Saw
this coming, Brad, and didn't warn me, I'm going to gut you."
He continued working frantically, trying to make Yohji's mind feel
right again. Rest, love. I'll do my
best for you.
Yohji woke to soft pillows and Schuldig's limbs wrapped around him with
desperate strength. "Hey," he said as he tried to remember how he'd
gotten there. Something's wrong.
What-- Oh. He patted Schuldig's back, running his hand up and
down as far as Schuldig's grip on him would allow.
Schuldig raised his head to look down at Yohji. "I fucked up, didn't I?"
"Um...." Lying to a telepath simply didn't work. "Yeah." Yohji rested
his forehead against Schuldig's chest and tried to ignore the hairs
tickling his nose. "I'm not mad." That much, at least, was true. He
still remembered the desperate fear and loss that had threatened to
devour him. "I know it's not true." We
playing. That's all.
Schuldig's arms tightened, and he buried his face in the top of Yohji's
head. "I'm sorry." The words came out muffled. //Would seeing them
help? Talking to them?//
Yohji nodded. The...despair echoes a
bit. "Did you just apologize?" I
the world may end. He closed his eyes. I wonder if my hair is tickling his face
as much as his is mine?
//Yes to both
They lay there like that for several minutes before Schuldig pulled
away and sat up. "You need something to eat and something to drink."
Yohji stretched. "Too much trouble." You
"You just stay there--" Schuldig started to push himself to his feet,
but Yohji grabbed the wrist of the hand he was using for balance and
No. Yohji met Schuldig's eyes
for a moment then looked away. I'm
sorry. I should have been stronger, not gotten upset over something so
stupid. He remembered being upset, but he wasn't sure why it had
struck so deep. "Those were exactly the lies you would have told me." I owe you. "I should have
remembered that Ken and Omi would keep looking until they saw a body.
We learned that from Kase and from...Neu." And even a body doesn't prove anything. We
saw Nagi and Tot and.... Yeah.
at me, please.// Schuldig settled back on the mattress. "I fucked up. You didn't. That means
you call the shots for a while." //Whatever you want.
Yohji frowned. Something in Schuldig's voice worried him. "Just don't
leave me alone." Stay here until I
figure out what's wrong with you.
wrong with me.// Schuldig sighed and kissed Yohji's ear. "As you
wish." //It means
you'll have to get up a lot sooner than you want to. though. Those
sedatives dehydrate, and food will probably help.// He stroked
Yohji's neck down to the shoulder then moved on to trace Yohji's
shoulder blade. //Then
can set the penalty.//
I'll have to get up soon anyway. I
need a piss. Yohji grimaced. "I don't want a penalty. It's not
necessary. It's not like you meant
to upset me." Hurting you won't make
me feel better. Will it make you feel better? He covered his
eyes with his forearm. "Punishing you for that.... I don't think it's
healthy, not for either of us." I
don't want to have this conversation right now.
Schuldig pulled Yohji's head and shoulders onto his lap and started
stroking Yohji's hair. He didn't say anything.
Yohji had nearly fallen asleep again when his stomach growled. He tried
to ignore it, but his body was demanding attention. He grumbled a
little and sat up. "I think we need to get me that food now."
Schuldig started. He blinked at Yohji and yawned. "Right." He took hold
of Yohji's hand and started to stand up.
He was almost asleep, too.
"When did you sleep last?"
"We'll start with juice. Orange okay?"
"I'm fine." Schuldig tugged Yohji to his feet. "The toilet's across the
hall. Do you need it?"
Yohji nodded and raised his eyebrows. "The circles under your eyes have
circles under them."
"I'll have some coffee."
"No." Yohji poked Schuldig's chest with a finger. "After I eat, you'll
have a nap." If I have to tie you
down to do it. And here, I can if I need to.
"I.... I don't think I can." Schuldig wouldn't meet Yohji's eyes. His
shoulders slumped a little. "I--" //I wasn't sure you'd
be you when you woke up.
After a little while, I was pretty sure you'd wake up, but I wasn't
sure about anything else.//
Yohji sighed. His head hurt, his belly was empty, and his bladder was
"You trusted me. I let you down."
"Later, please?" Yohji tugged Schuldig toward the door. Let me eat. Then we'll straighten you out.
"Which way to food?" Yohji asked after they'd each had a turn at the
"Right then up the stairs."
Yohji turned right, tugging Schuldig along after him. "How big is this
place?" I can't believe I never
//You were usually
too busy even to think about it, and not knowing added mystique. Why do
you think I always drugged you to bring you here?// "Big
enough." Schuldig sounded amused. "We keep it for special occasions. We
liberated it from the Takatori."
Yohji had a sudden vision of Takatori Reiji and his sons playing
vicious games in the same rooms that he and Schuldig used. He felt more
than a little sick.
"Yohji...." Schuldig pulled them both to a stop at the foot of the
renovated. There's nothing left of the furnishings. Brad said they were
a bad influence on Farfarello. Hell, he even had an exorcist in.//
He gave a small laugh. "I don't think I told you-- We're trying to push
Farfarello toward Buddhism. The God is dead variety."
Yohji decided to let Schuldig change the subject. "Doesn't that
undermine his reason for existing?"
Schuldig shrugged and started up the stairs. "We'd rather have him
mocking priests for being trapped in an illusion than killing them.
Well, unless we're getting paid."
After they reached the kitchen, Schuldig poured orange juice for Yohji
and made a large omelet which Yohji then bullied him into eating half
Buoyed by the calories, Yohji rummaged in the refrigerator. He frowned
at the contents. It's all expensive
as hell, but-- "We weren't going to be here long, were we?" He
tried to suppress disappointment. He didn't want to add that to what
Schuldig was already carrying.
"Huh?" Schuldig rubbed his face, managing to make himself look more
rumpled without appearing any more awake. "Oh. Right. No. Somebody
should be by in--" He craned his neck, looking for the clock. "Right.
Another two or three hours. I didn't have time to shop for more than--"
He waved his hand at the fridge. //Unless somebody's
staying here, we only stock non-perishables.//
"Is there any reason I can't answer the door?" Apart from having no clothes....
Yohji smiled at Schuldig. "In two or three hours, you're going to be
Schuldig opened his mouth, presumably to protest. Then he sagged in his
chair. "If that's what you want."
Yohji stood behind Schuldig's chair and hugged him. "That's what you need." He rested his chin on the
top of Schuldig's head for a few seconds, ignoring the protest from his
lower back. "Seriously, you screwed up, but after that, you did exactly
what you needed to do to fix it. That's why I trust you."
Schuldig buried his head in his hands and groaned. "You shouldn't." //I had no idea what
would happen. You shattered. I could as easily
have put you back together wrong-- amnesia, psychosis, permanent
damage-- as right.// "We were lucky."
Stop blaming yourself for what might
have happened. I'm fine. "Can we have this conversation after
you sleep?" Yohji started opening cupboards as an alternative to
smacking sense into Schuldig. He didn't think it would help.
"I'm not sure I'll sleep while I'm wondering what you're going to do."
"What I'm going to do?" What the
fuck do you mean? Obviously it's important, but....
"I suppose you should just tell Brad and Omi and let them decide." //I'd really rather it
"Schuldig--" Yohji took a deep breath. "Our friends are already in too
much of our relationship. I'm not about to invite them to--" He waved
his hands, unable to find the words he needed.
"That's how it works. That's their job.
make sure everybody keeps functioning right. They make sure I know
what right is and don't forget it. If I do.... That's how it works."
Schuldig managed to sound both utterly certain and completely lost.
Yohji inhaled sharply. Your job. Is
that all I am? He closed his eyes. No. I know better than that even if he
doesn't. He rubbed his scalp. Hell,
least I got something to eat first. He eyed the coffee maker,
longing for caffeine, but he knew that Schuldig would insist on having
some if Yohji made coffee or even tea. "Is this another one of those
weird Schwarz things? Because I'm keeping a list." He sat down and
leaned his elbows on the table. "Seriously, if anybody gives you any
shit for this, I'm kicking their asses."
Yohji took one of Schuldig's hands in his and squeezed. "What do you
need me to do?"
Schuldig's mouth moved a little, making Yohji think that he was biting
his cheek. "I'm not allowed private relationships. It's all for the
team, all for--" He shook his head.
Yohji ran his thumb across the back of Schuldig's hand. "You don't work
for Estet any more. Their rules don't apply here." I will not let you let them spoil what we
Schuldig shrugged, looking terrifyingly helpless. //I am what they made
"No. The person they made you would never have turned on them."
Yohji winced at the bitterness in the sound.
bits of you somebody else made that you loathe? None of us can help
it.// "My job was to be what Brad needed and to make everyone
around me be what Brad needed, what he wanted even. If they'd caught us
before-- hell, maybe even now-- he's the one they'd punish. They'd
probably kill the rest of us for no longer being usable, but they'd
make an example of him. He's the one trained to have free will."
Yohji seriously considered banging his head on the table. Except that would bring back the headache.
"How can you punish someone who doesn't have free will for making a
Schuldig rubbed his face with his free hand. His smile was only a
little forced. "Aversive training isn't punishment, just correction."
He shrugged. "I'd still rather have you decide how I should repay you,
you and not Omi or Brad."
"It's not necessary, really." Yohji considered. I'm not getting sex any time soon, not
until he gets over this. "First you sleep." He made the
statement firm. "After that, you pamper me. I want it all-- massage, my
favorite foods, good booze, a long soak in a good tub. We'll watch a
DVD." That's a good time to see the
others, or we could go out and meet them. "Who's bringing
"No idea. A member of the team, certainly. Probably Ken or Nagi. Brad
and Omi are too important, and Aya and Farfarello are a
little...uncooperative. Farfarello gets distracted, and Aya, well, he's
Yohji nodded. "Fine. I can deal with either of them. You need to
sleep." And I need to think. That
may work better if I'm not distracted.
"That means leaving you alone." Schuldig's face tightened. "You asked
me not to do that."
"I'll be fine." Would I even try to
lie to you? You'd know.
Schuldig picked at the edge of the table. "It's hardly a punishment."
Yohji studied him. "Do you want punishment or do you want...?" He took
a deep breath. "Do you want to help me feel better?" I could hurt you, but it would be
unpleasant for both of us. "Maybe you should just let me give
orders and listen. I do know what I want." And this isn't what I came to you for. "Maybe
should go to Okinawa after all." He knew Schuldig would understand
that he didn't mean it.
"I'll show you around the house before I sleep." Schuldig didn't meet
Yohji's eyes. "Clothes, too."
Yohji sighed and nodded.
The tour took longer than Yohji'd wanted it to, but he finally got
Schuldig tucked into bed. Then he went back to the kitchen to brew
himself some coffee. There's
something not quite right. He watched coffee dripping into the
pot. I think there are things I
should know and don't and things I know are true that don't make sense.
It's like I've been half-asleep for a long time. His head
started hurting again.
"I hope Ken brings the supplies," he told his still empty mug. "I can
ask him questions." I could call
him, I suppose. He didn't want to do that. He felt reluctant
about seeing or talking to his friends. I don't think they've given me any shit
over Schuldig. That's...weird. Omi and Crawford are cooperating! How did that happen? How did I miss the
how? Why didn't I ask? What else did I miss?
He wandered into a room Schuldig had identified as a study. He rummaged
in the drawers of the expensive, hardwood desk until he found a pad of
paper and a pencil. Back in the kitchen, he poured himself a mug of
coffee and sat down to take notes.
He was in the middle of his second cup and his third page when the
doorbell rang. He got up slowly, hesitated then stuck the notebook and
pencil into a drawer and headed for the door. At least I'm not finding gaps, just things
I didn't think about. Lots of things I didn't think about. And I think
I was trying to die. He rolled his shoulders to release some of
his tension. He wasn't sure what was about to happen and wanted to be
ready for anything.
Ken had already let himself in. He had the door propped open and two
bags of groceries already inside on the floor. He blinked at Yohji and
straightened up. He opened his mouth then closed it. Finally he said,
Yohji wondered what Ken had been going to say. Well, I suppose it's good that he thinks
before the words come out now. I wish I'd noticed it happening.
He shrugged. "Sleeping. He was exhausted." He considered adding a leer
to imply a less worrying cause for that fatigue but couldn't quite
bring himself to.
Ken snorted. "If he's tired, I'm surprised you're walking around."
Yohji frowned. Just how much do you
know about my sex life? More than I've told you apparently. He
bent and picked up a bag. "Is there much more? I can start taking bags
to the kitchen."
Ken made a noise of agreement and turned back out the door. "There's a
lot. Crawford had a long list. I think he expects you-- well, us,
actually. Omi told me to stay-- to be here a while." He reddened a
Yohji felt his shoulders tighten. "I wish he and Omi would butt out of
my--" He clenched his jaw, shook his head and wished he still smoked. Flicking ash would convey what I mean. I
don't remember deciding to quit, either. "Why is it anybody
else's business?" We don't need a
Ken had turned back to look at Yohji. He grinned. "Because they're a
pair of mother hens. Look on the bright side, I've heard that Nagi gets
regular lectures about...precautions." He laughed. "Including at least
one phone call that embarrassed the hell out of him."
Yohji's lips twitched. "Right at the moment he was forgetting
something?" He snorted laughter. Ken
changed the subject. That's subtle for Ken.
Ken nodded. "I'll try not to get in your way too much. Omi says I just
need to lay low until that gang we went after last week forgets what I
Right. You don't believe that either.
Why do it here? Yohji carried the bag to the kitchen. Did Crawford See something? Did he and Omi
He managed to move three bags all the way in before Ken finished
bringing everything in the door. Then Ken took over moving the bags
while Yohji started unloading the bags in the kitchen.
When Ken brought in the final bag, Yohji was studying a package that he
thought needed to be refrigerated but wasn't sure about because he
couldn't read the label. He shrugged and tossed it in. "What's with all
the weird European food?"
"Hey, I didn't make the list." Ken held up both hands as if pushing the
responsibility elsewhere. He started sorting food into cupboards.
He's awfully sure of what goes where.
"We don't come here that often."
Ken snorted. "You think you're the only ones ever to use the place?
Pretty damned big for occasional games." He set a bag of coffee beans
on the counter. "You're just the only one who's never seen it from the
Yohji frowned. He rubbed the back of his head. "And why is that
exactly?" The question had harder edges than he'd meant.
Ken froze. He studied Yohji. "You look like you need a drink."
So much for answers. "It's a
little early in the day."
"It's past noon." Ken pulled out two brown, glass bottles. He offered
one to Yohji. "The cold stuff was all in the first few bags."
Yohji took the bottle then started searching the drawers for an opener.
"Third drawer on the left," Ken said.
"Maybe I should let you get it." Yohji pulled out a chair and sat.
"Since you know where everything is." He let himself sprawl because he
knew that, if he didn't, he'd pull his limbs in tight. I don't know if I can carry this off.
He set his bottle on the table and ran his fingers over the surface. Should I carry this off? Do I need to?
"Ken... This is--" He shook his head. I
think I can explain it. How do I say that I'm missing pieces of
why my life is the way it is?
Ken leaned over and popped the top off Yohji's bottle. "A bad time?"
Sort of. Go with it. He looks like he
cares. No. He does care. Even
when I wasn't thinking, I knew they cared. I just thought they....
Yohji frowned. What did I think?
"I kind of...freaked out on Schuldig last night," he said as Ken
settled into a chair opposite. I
thought they were going to die. If I cared, they'd die. If I
Ken made a sympathetic noise then took a swallow from his bottle.
Yohji sniffed his bottle. "Will I get into trouble if I call this stuff
"From me?" Ken shook his head. He grinned. "I don't think Schuldig
cares, either, as long as it's good and not chilled. Crawford...he says
Why don't I know that? Why does
Ken know more about these people
than I do? "When did I stop seeing the rest of you?" Yohji
blinked. He hadn't expected those words to come out. I wasn't going to admit it to anyone.
Well, maybe Schuldig. He'd know anyway, and I.... He hasn't ever
betrayed my trust. Even if I do get the impression he's talking to Omi
more than I'd like.
Ken set down his bottle. "Today is the first real conversation I've had
with you since-- In months. You tease at the shop, and you talk
business on missions. Otherwise, you talk when cornered."
Yohji thought about that. "I..." He shrugged. "I don't really remember
that." Except...it's more that I
haven't paid attention. Everything's...flat and gray except missions
and...Schuldig. "I don't...not remember exactly, though."
"I'm the wrong one to have this conversation." Ken reached over and
pushed Yohji's beer into his hand. "Drink. I'd rummage for something
harder, but...." He shrugged.
"You're here." Yohji tightened his hand on the bottle but didn't raise
it. "You know what's going on." And
there is something going on.
How did I miss it? "Better you than Aya."
Ken nodded at that. "He disapproves. He says we're all damned anyway,
so there's no point trying to save each other."
So you think I need saving. Which
means Omi thinks so, too. Yohji considered the past weeks. Months. More than a year. He sipped
his beer. "Since Neu." Since Asuka.
Thinking about it didn't hurt quite as much as he'd expected. "I talked
"Everyone talks to Schuldig."
So it is just business then? No. I don't believe
that. Yohji moved his hands to his knees to give himself
something to grip that Ken couldn't see. Waking with him, eating breakfast with
him, all of that was easy, and he was worried beyond the stupid
punishment business. From the beginning, we fit together. From the
beginning-- Do I remember the beginning? "I was business for
him." Let's see what you think. Do
you trust him?
Ken met Yohji's eyes and held his gaze for a few seconds. "Were. At
first. Do you think any of us would have let him near you otherwise,
for anything but business? After Ouka? After Sakura? Omi snarled at
everyone for the first three weeks." He rubbed the back of his head and
looked at the floor. "But the two of you are good together. Good for
each other. He's a lot happier than he was, too."
I don't remember Omi snarling. I
don't remember Schuldig unhappy, either. Yohji drank more beer. Of course, I also don't remember when we
started working with Schwarz or why Omi decided to do it. I don't think
I even asked. "You like him. You like them, all of them." I want Schuldig to be happy.
Ken shrugged then grinned. "They're not bad. They watch our backs,
You think it's not just business. You
just can't say it. Yohji nodded. "Yeah." I'm just not sure why I just...accepted
them backing us up. It should have been unthinkable. He
considered. "I'm surprised Aya agreed." He must have. He's been on missions like
it was normal. "How long has it been, really?"
"Omi and Crawford came to some sort of understanding no more than two
weeks after the group swim," Ken said. "Omi brought me in around then.
Think he thought I'd be the easiest."
Yohji let that statement sit for a while before he replied. "I was the
easiest, wasn't I?"
Yohji wanted to ask what that meant. But
might not like what I hear. He tried to remember exactly what
happened and when. The order of events kept slipping away from him, and
some of what he remembered didn't make sense to him. "I was..." He felt
his forehead wrinkle. "Asuka was already dead. Why do I remember her
talking to me?"
Ken pressed the bottle against his forehead for a second, lowering it
almost immediately. "That works better with cold bottles."
Yohji raised his eyebrows, trying to underline his unwillingness to
change the subject.
"Why the hell do you think?" Ken leaned over and flicked a finger at
the point between Yohji's eyebrows. "You had emotional--" He waved one
hand back and forth rapidly.
Yohji blinked. What? "Is that supposed to mean something?"
"You got jerked around, played with, beat on." Ken shook his head. "You
kind of stopped thinking or feeling when you had to. Any time you
started again, you got...well." He shrugged. "Omi used big words to
convince Aya to shut up and keep out of it. I don't remember all of
Yeah, I bet you don't. You just don't
think I should hear them. Yohji frowned. I remember missions. Missions and
Schuldig. What did I miss? Are my...my friends still there? People
don't stick around for months with people who aren't keeping up their
end of things. But Ken's here.
He's talking to me. He's happy to talk to me. "Why are you even
talking to me?" Why don't you hate
Ken eyed Yohji with an expression that Yohji recognized as signaling
Ken's intention for some sort of male bonding, semi-violent, physical
contact. "I missed you." He stood up, gave Yohji a light punch in the
arm and pulled out a second beer. "Want another? I can go get more if
we finish it. I've still got Crawford's credit card."
They drank all of Schuldig's beer before Yohji ran out of questions. I'm not sure I'll ever run out of
questions. All of Ken's words can't make it feel real. He was no
longer sure he wanted to talk to Omi or Aya. Not yet.
Ken had dropped a few hints about calling them, about asking them to
visit. Yohji had put it off on the grounds that Schuldig was still
sleeping and wasn't expecting to find anybody but Yohji in the house
when he woke.
"You're going to be enough of a surprise." Yohji wondered if there was
a way to get Ken to go away or to fall asleep so that Yohji could think
in peace again. At least he hasn't
found the notebook. I don't know if he'd worry or if he'd tease me.
Neither seemed an attractive option.
"At least think about it. Omi worries." Ken got up from the table. "Why
don't we go somewhere more comfortable? I think there's a game on."
Of course. Some things don't change.
"There's always a game on." Yohji stood up, too. Ken watching a game
would give Yohji a little more space.
Yohji gave the game and the one that followed it very little of his
attention. His thoughts started going around in circles early on and
refused to settle, so he started picking bits of lint off one of the
pillows. After a while, he closed his eyes and tried to nap. He managed
to drowse for a while but eventually gave it up. I'm not getting anywhere thinking, I don't
really need rest, and the pillows don't need my attention.
He stood and stretched. "I need a workout." He looked down at Ken who
was sprawled across most of a sofa. "Schuldig showed me a weight room
earlier...." Give me something else
to do. Please.
"But you need a spotter?" Ken looked at the screen for a moment then
shrugged. He pushed a button on the remote, and the TV went dark.
"Sure." He swung his feet to the floor and stood. "Need to work off the
"You should probably replace that before Schuldig wakes up." Yohji
started to lead the way toward the weight room then realized that he
really had no idea where it was. I
could find it, but....
Ken slipped past Yohji. "This way."
Yohji didn't find weights as generally satisfying as other forms of
exercise. He preferred more movement, more activity, but he didn't feel
ready to go running or to ask Ken to spar. Schuldig would be certain to wake at the
wrong time, and...I'm not ready.
By the time they both finished full sets, the sun had gone down. Ken
dragged Yohji back to the kitchen for dinner then accepted Yohji's
claim of exhaustion without argument.
Even though we both know I could
easily stay up for hours. I'm so glad you were the one who brought the
supplies. Yohji tried to imagine carrying on a conversation with
Nagi and failed. Have I ever talked
to him about anything? He cast his mind back as he walked toward
the room where Schuldig slept. I
must have, on missions, at least. It just wasn't important enough to
make an impression.
Schuldig roused when Yohji walked in but didn't do more than open his
eyes for a few seconds and mumble something Yohji couldn't quite make
"Yeah, whatever." Yohji undressed quickly, in the dark, and seated
himself on the edge of the bed. "Move over and give me some room." He
gave Schuldig a shove with no force behind it. "Unless you don't want
//Long as it's
you.// Schuldig rolled over, giving Yohji a few more inches.
"Do you really need three quarters of the bed?" Yohji pushed a little
harder now that he was touching Schuldig's back and considered
tickling. Except that he's immune.
immunity.// Schuldig moved a little further toward the other
side of the bed. //Survival
Even before Nagi moved in.// He turned back and put
his arms around Yohji. //Just what I need
Yohji shook his head. "How do you ever manage to sleep when you're
alone?" He stretched out on the bed and tugged the blankets up. At least he's doing better. Bet he wakes
up before I do. Which reminds me-- He poked Schuldig in the ribs
with one finger. "Don't fall asleep yet. Ken's upstairs, and he's
staying. Something about orders and needing to lay low." And Schuldig won't believe that any more
than I do. "Don't know where he's sleeping. Maybe he won't. That
monster TV system up there has more than one twenty-four hour sports
channel. Anyway, don't be surprised to run into him."
//When am I ever
Yohji chose prudence over truth and made a non-committal noise. "I'm
going to sleep now. That all right?"
//As long as
you're going to sleep here. Don't want to have to chase you down....//
Schuldig's mental voice grew dimmer as he let himself slip back into
Yohji smoothed hair back from Schuldig's face. You really wore yourself out, because of
me. You trust me enough to sleep with me still awake. I'm not stupid
enough to fail to see that as a big thing. He closed his eyes. I wish I understood how we got here
better, but I'm not about to waste what we have.
Schuldig wandered upstairs. He ran his fingers through his wet hair,
trying to speed drying. He tugged at the drawstring on his sweatpants. Not that I'm not proud of my assets, but I
only want to show them off when I choose. He had checked when he
woke to see if Ken was sleeping and had touched Ken's dreams. He hadn't
looked again even though his shower had taken a while.
No need to borrow trouble. Besides,
he'll want to talk to me. If he's staying, that means Brad Saw
something. When he Saw it determines whether or not I need to kill him.
Ken might know even if Yohji thinks he doesn't. Schuldig smiled.
He'd left Yohji still asleep, lying half on top of the covers. His thermostat always does run warm.
Schuldig had pulled the sheet over Yohji's feet, judging by the fact
that that didn't rouse him, that Yohji still needed more time to sleep.
Schuldig yawned and scratched his chest. This time, nobody's keeping me away from
the coffee. Let's see.... I made an omelet yesterday. Is it worth the
work to do something else? Nah. He paused at the top of the
stairs. Not quite dawn yet.
He could see the sky through a window in the library. It was barely
The eggs were easy enough, but the sausage came out of the microwave
rubbery. But using a pan would have
been more trouble. For Yohji, Schuldig might have bothered, but
calories were all he really needed for himself at the moment. Once he'd
eaten half of his meal, Schuldig allowed himself to start thinking. I think I scared Yohji yesterday. Maybe. I
was a little...off. Okay, a lot. He seems to be okay, maybe more than okay. I need
to look at that more deeply. If he falls apart again after seeming
better, Weiss will shatter. It's too much to hope that Ken hasn't told
Omi. Can I hold Omi together if Yohji gets depressed again? That
depends on how depressed he gets. Aya should be fine. He won't believe
in change until it's been there for weeks.
He rubbed his face. Worry about Omi
when you see him. Right now, you have Yohji and Ken to manage. Ken's
mostly sane, for Weiss, but you need to know how he's going to affect
Yohji. Also, if Yohji's not really better, if it's temporary or wrong,
Ken's likely to kill to ease his frustration which will upset Omi which
will-- No. Don't borrow trouble. Wait until one or the other of them
wakes up. He growled under his breath and suppressed the urge to
force Ken awake.
Instead, Schuldig took advantage of the elaborate game system to amuse
himself while his breakfast settled. He expected Ken to be up soon but
thought that he'd do some Tai Chi if Ken slept longer than expected. In the mean time, a little Grand Theft
Auto should be perfect.
Schuldig had been playing for about forty-five minutes when Ken looked
in. "I'm going for a run before breakfast. Want to come?" Ken grinned.
"Not a chance." Schuldig kept his eyes on the screen. //Have you already
called Omi?// "We need to talk. Before Yohji gets up."
Ken paused in the doorway. "I can skip the run."
"Probably wise." Schuldig killed the game and swiveled his chair so
that he could look directly at Ken. "What did you tell Omi?"
Ken walked into the room and dropped into a chair. "I told him Yohji
seemed different. Omi wasn't surprised."
Schuldig growled. That means Brad
knew. He rubbed his temples. //That may mean that
Brad thinks it's going to come out okay.//
Ken's expression sharpened. "You don't think it will?"
"I don't know." //I
expecting...what happened. I wasn't sure what the hell I was
doing while I was in the middle of it. The bastards didn't warn me.//
Ken snorted. "Well, that explains part of my orders. I'm not supposed
to let you leave the house without me until further notice."
Schuldig's shoulders twitched. //Do they really think
I can't wait to retaliate? Revenge served cold and all that.//
"With me or with both of us." Ken shrugged. After a few seconds, he
said, "Omi wants to talk to him. Yohji doesn't want to talk to Omi."
"You didn't push did you?" Schuldig looked into Ken's memories of his
talk with Yohji.
Ken shrugged again, not bothering to put his irritation with Omi into
You don't think we need house arrest.
You...may be right. "There's still coffee in the kitchen if you
"Caffeine's for when I haven't had enough sleep." Ken was studying
Schuldig's expression and body language. "What's your plan?"
"Yohji asked me to pamper him today. I'll start with a fancy
breakfast." Schuldig grinned as Ken raised his eyebrows, questioning
Schuldig's ability to manage 'fancy' without help. "After that depends
"Why didn't you call for help?"
"What could you have done?" Because
I was too fucking panicked and then too worried and too tired and too
hysterical. I'm damned lucky Yohji wasn't reacting like normal. The
demands I was making would have wrecked him. Schuldig sighed. "I
wasn't really myself," he admitted. "There's a reason I slept--" He
turned to look at a clock. "--almost twenty hours." //Even if Brad Saw it
coming out okay, he and Omi took one hell of a risk. They came close to
losing both of us.//
Ken frowned then nodded without saying anything.
And that's why they sent you and not
Nagi. I couldn't tell him this without upsetting him. You just accept
that we've survived and assume all's well. "I'm not sure exactly
what state Yohji's in. I wasn't able to evaluate much beyond the fact
that he was conscious, had his memory and wasn't nearly as upset with
me as he should be."
Ken grinned. "He's fine. We had a long talk, drank all your beer,
watched a couple of games, lifted some weights." He waved a hand as if
to indicate an etcetera.
Schuldig knew he ought to protest the beer, but he really didn't care.
"The only reason I was sure that I didn't just hallucinate most of
yesterday was that he talked to me when he came to bed." //He wanted to warn me
about you.// "He was Yohji, but he wasn't exactly the Yohji I
Ken started his chair spinning.
Schuldig took that to mean that Ken was thinking and waited.
Finally, Ken stopped and glared at Schuldig. He clenched and unclenched
his hands a few times. "Is he too different for you?" Ice and threat
lay under the words.
//That looks more
threatening when you're actually armed.// Schuldig held up his
hands in a warding gesture that was only half humorous. "It's one thing
if he doesn't want me, but.... It's more like sunlight on something
I've only seen before in twilight."
"Good." Ken nodded firmly. "Killing you would upset Yohji."
And you think that I'm too slippery
to blackmail. That...might be true. If nothing else, Brad wouldn't
allow it. Schuldig sighed. //Even if he were...too
different, he's a teammate. I take care of the team.//
"Family," Ken said softly. "Use the right word."
"Whatever." Schuldig flapped one hand in dismissal. "When he wakes up,
I'll talk to him about calling Omi. Yesterday, he said he wanted to see
all three of you. If he can handle Omi on the phone, a visit might not
be a bad thing." He pushed back resentment at having his time with
Yohji stolen. "You can go running now if you still want to. I'm waiting
for him to wake up."
Some time later, Yohji climbed the stairs, yawning and rubbing the back
of his head. His eyes widened slightly as he spotted Schuldig in the
Schuldig smiled. That's not
surprise. Why does he--? Oh, he's trying to look more awake. "I
Yohji stopped in the doorway. "That sounds good." He hesitated then
added, "Are you done with the freaking out now?"
//I'm sorry for
worrying you.// "Ken made miso and rice." Schuldig set a mug
three quarters full of coffee on the table. //And no, you're not
forgetting. I haven't done that around you before. You'd remember.//
"Where is he?" Yohji looked around as he sat down.
Schuldig snorted and shook his head. I
tell you it's never happened before, but I'd be lying. "Outside,
trees. He says it's useful practice." How
much are you really ready to know?
Yohji agreed with Ken but politely didn't say so. "He told me a lot of
things yesterday." He added soymilk to his cup and stirred.
"Oh?" Schuldig served miso, rice and pickles, placing each in front of
"He couldn't-- or wouldn't-- tell me why Omi agreed to work with
Ah. That. "Did he ever ask?"
Schuldig knew perfectly well that Ken hadn't.
Yohji blew across the surface of his coffee and shook his head. "At
least, I don't think so. He seems to have guessed that it had to do
with me and to have left it at that."
And you don't believe it. "I
think that was one of the factors." Schuldig pulled out a chair. "Ken
was heading for a different cliff, metaphorically speaking, so stopping
that made two." He frowned. "Some of it is Omi's business. You can ask
him. He might answer." But he
probably won't. That poisonous old man and his plans for Mamoru are
nothing you need worry about. "The rest is Kritiker and room for
Yohji made a face as his coffee scalded his tongue. He turned to his
food for a while. A few minutes later, he looked up. "What's in it for
//I don't know.//
"I think he likes Japan," Schuldig said lightly. I've only asked him enough to be sure it's
real. If he plans to leave, he plans to leave me behind.
"Ah." Yohji retreated to his food again.
Schuldig considered leaving Yohji to his thoughts but realized that
that would be as much a betrayal as looking. There's a lot he's not letting himself
think about. He'll have to eventually, just maybe not yet. He
cleared his throat. "So-- What were you thinking of in the way of
pampering?" Better to do that now, to see where he leads. That and what he thinks about while it's
all happening will tell me a lot.
Yohji looked up, his eyes wide again, this time truly startled. "But
you-- You know you don't need to--" He shook his head.
//I was very tired
and a bit hysterical. I...regressed.// Schuldig smiled. "I want
to." //Are you
implying that you won't enjoy it?//
Yohji grinned. "Of course I will. You'll make sure of that, won't you?"
Schuldig warmed a little oil in his hands then ran them up Yohji's
calves. He spread the oil until the skin of both lower legs was covered
before starting on Yohji's feet.
Yohji's breath hissed out as Schuldig pressed his thumbs gently against
the arches of Yohji's feet. "Oh, yes. There."
Schuldig grinned. The lightest touch on Yohji's mind told him that
Yohji wasn't exaggerating his response. He looked deeper, but Yohji was
still doing a spectacular job of not thinking beyond the moment. That won't last. For today maybe. For
tomorrow possibly. Eventually though.... "Good to know." He kept
his hands steady but not quite impersonal. Not too hard. That's a different game.
"Is there anything you particularly want me to work on?"
"Probably." Yohji wiggled his toes. "I'll know when you get there." He
sighed and turned his head to one side. "Everything hurts about
Only some of that is from me.
"Let me know." Schuldig wasn't sure if he should feel proud or
embarrassed. His mind is so much
calmer now. He's feeling lost still, but everything's more or less
where it should be, and he could think if he let himself. He saw
the question coming almost before Yohji did, but he decided to wait
until it was actually asked to answer.
"Yes?" He pressed his fingers into a knot in Yohji's calf and stretched
the muscle above it. I'm glad he's
willing to think that much. Of course, sex has always been safe.
"If that-- what we played-- If that really happened, how would you have
He doesn't doubt that I would have. I
suppose it's good he has no illusions. No illusions and is still
willing to let me touch him. "If Brad hadn't been adamant about
not 'provoking unnecessary hostilities,' you mean?"
Schuldig decided to tease a little. "You're assuming I'd bother.
Kidnapping is a hell of a lot of work just for a hole to fuck. Think
you're worth it?"
"You seem to think so." Yohji lifted his head so that he could look
over his shoulder to smile at Schuldig.
That's caught your imagination,
hasn't it? "We used to talk about it, you know, about kidnapping
you or one of the others or all of you. Brad encouraged it, the
talking, I mean. He was damned clear about not actually touching you
without orders." And that should
have told me something. He wanted us thinking of you all as desirable.
"It was a fantasy we could share. We all knew who you were and how
you'd fight. We needed something to get off on when we were stuck
waiting. There was a lot of waiting." Waiting
having to trust Brad and his visions. Schuldig moved to
Yohji's other leg. "If I were going to do it... Well, it depends,
Yohji's breathing speeded up just a little.
Schuldig grinned. "Do I have a place like this, a place to hold you as
long as I want? Do I have other deadlines, some place I have to be, a
point when I have to let you go? Do I have to share you? Do I only get
you or do I have the others, too?" Let's
thinking. It may not go anywhere, but it might.
"Would you want to keep me?"
You'd like to think that I would. I'm
glad you still want me. "For a while. Until I got bored. Would
you let me get bored?"
Yohji's breath caught. "No."
Yohji's mind had started to wander into fantasy of what he might do to
keep Schuldig's attention, so Schuldig left him to his thoughts,
keeping a light touch on Yohji's mind in case of changes and focusing
on Yohji's muscles. After a few minutes, he said, "We wanted to, but
Crawford said no. It wouldn't have been hard, not with this house and
our money." He chuckled. //You do remember that
we're not nice people, right?//
Yohji certainly remembered, but his thoughts suggested that 'not nice'
held a lot of appeal, at least in fantasy.
"We'd have put each of you in a different room." Schuldig kept his
hands moving. A full body massage is
what he asked for, and he started this conversation. "We'd have
shared you. If one of you misbehaved, we'd punish the others. Would
that keep you in line?"
Yohji clenched and stretched his hands several times.
"You'd all have hated Aya after not very long. If he weren't pretty,
we'd probably just give him to Farfarello. Maybe. Rebellion and rage
are fun. He's the one who
wouldn't learn to crawl to survive. He'd survive because we wouldn't
let him die." What else? "You
wouldn't see each other very often, just when we chose. I don't know if
we'd even have let you hear
each other. Which would be harder-- Hearing everything that happened to
the others and knowing that they heard what happened to you or hearing
nothing and wondering and being so alone that they wouldn't know if you
Schuldig laughed, glad that Yohji couldn't tell how hard his own words
had gotten him. "You asked. You also said today's about pampering you."
fucking you into the mattress. I'm following orders.//
Yohji laughed. "I hate you." He ground his hips against the mattress
then stilled. "We talked about fucking you, too. You and Crawford, at
Schuldig froze. They what? They were
the good guys!
"None of us were very keen on Farfarello. I think we thought he could
make knives out of air, and the fantasy's a lot less fun when you can't
pretend it wouldn't kill you. Nagi... First we didn't know about him.
Then he seemed too young and harmless anyway. Then...we all knew there
was nothing we could do to keep him if he didn't want to be kept."
Schuldig made himself move again. "He wouldn't want to be," he said
dryly. "You could hold him by threatening the rest of us." Not for long. "I don't think you
could do more than hold him, though."
"Ripping up buildings with your mind is the sort of thing that makes
jailbreaks easy." Yohji's tone matched Schuldig's. "Anyway, we got off,
too, on talking about what we'd do to you and Crawford. We hated you,
and we were helpless, but we could see that it was possible that we might do better.
If we just managed to take you down once, just once, we'd have you. I
don't know exactly where we'd have put you so that Kritiker wouldn't
find you, but we'd have managed."
"Kritiker always underestimated you." Schuldig's hands shook. He wasn't
sure if Yohji noticed or not and decided not to search Yohji's thoughts
for the answer. "I thought you considered yourselves above cruelty." //Above rape.//
"I never thought you'd admit to having fantasies." //Let alone use them to
jack off together.//
Yohji sighed. "I don't know what we'd really have done if-- Well,
there's no way to know. It didn't happen, after all. And think about
it... We were four horny guys with lethal secrets, short life
expectancy and limited outlets. You were villains. We didn't feel bad
about anything we imagined doing to you."
Schuldig felt a little relief in realizing that Yohji wasn't at all
sure they wouldn't have felt guilty if they had caught him or Brad. //It would have
destroyed you, love. Be glad you didn't have the chance.// He
stroked Yohji's back. It would have
destroyed you, you and Ken, at least. Omi would simply have become
Takatori Mamoru. Aya.... I'm not sure about Aya.
"What would you have done if we'd caught you?" Yohji's thoughts
acknowledged Schuldig's words as true before focusing again on the
Still pushing things away.
Schuldig hesitated. He licked his lips. "I'd have looked to see what
was in your heads, whether I could bear it." I'd have split myself if I had to, but you
don't need to know that. I don't think it would help you.
Yohji nodded without raising his head. "It would have been all of us
for you. We were pretty sure you couldn't fuck with all our heads at
the same time."
"No tinfoil helmets?"
As Schuldig had hoped, Yohji snorted laughter. Then he went silent for
nearly a minute. "That would probably be worse for you. One of us, even
two of us, might back down. With all of us together, I don't think we
could have stopped." He sounded almost apologetic.
"It didn't happen, not in either direction, not to any of us." That's real thought and not happy. Is it a
good sign? Schuldig rubbed Yohji's back. Any thought is good after so long.
"I know, but it still gets me hard to imagine it. No matter which of us
is the victim." Yohji sounded plaintive.
Schuldig ran one hand the length of Yohji's spine. "I'm supposed to be
pampering you today. If you want to pretend it's because I'm your
slave...." I can do that. I can even
enjoy it as long as he does.
Yohji's thought shaped itself with sufficient precision that Schuldig
knew it was deliberate. I may hurt
you, even without meaning to. I don't have your experience.
Schuldig planted a kiss between Yohji's shoulder blades. //If I was reluctant,
I'd have made you ask. What do you want first?// He caught
Yohji's intention before Yohji moved. He dropped to his knees.
I want you to take care of this.
Yohji rolled over and swung his legs off the side of the bed. His cock
was hard and red. "Make sure I remember why I bother protecting you
from Aya and Omi."
Schuldig shivered. Yohji's voice was husky and carried an undercurrent
of cruel amusement. His thoughts swirled contradictions, combining love
and happy lust with a vicious grip on the fantasy of Schuldig as broken
slave and Yohji as capricious master. He
believes that he can turn
me over to his friends. He shivered again. The Omi and Aya in
Yohji's fantasy would hurt him, and Yohji would enjoy watching. He'd help.
Schuldig crept forward, trying simultaneously to show submissive
eagerness and to figure out the logistics of the blow job. He's too high up. The table adjusts,
but.... He came up underneath and kissed Yohji's balls. He
licked them then rubbed his hair along Yohji's cock.
Yohji buried one hand in Schuldig's hair and twisted. "So eager to be
more than just a hole to be fucked." He slid off the edge of the padded
table to stand over Schuldig. "Maybe I don't want more than that."
Schuldig didn't try to move. He
wants more than that, but he doesn't, too. Should I remind him that I'm
listening? Not while I can handle it. Not while he can handle it.
He waited, trying not to notice the pain in his scalp.
Yohji moved Schuldig's head so that Schuldig's lips touched the damp
tip of Yohji's cock.
Schuldig opened his mouth and extended his tongue. He ran it over the
skin he could reach. He pulled minutely against Yohji's hold on his
hair, trying to suggest enthusiasm for the task. It helps that I do want to. He always
Yohji's hands pulled Schuldig forward, and Yohji's cock hit the roof of
Schuldig's mouth and slid even further in.
Breathe. You can breathe.
Schuldig clenched his hands in his pants and fought his need to
struggle. He searched Yohji's thoughts, trying to find the threads of
fantasy within the fabric of sensation. Surrender or defiance? Either. Both. He's
not sure which he'll enjoy more. He's not even thinking about it. Which
will I enjoy more? He sucked and moved his tongue from side to
Yohji pulled his hips back until his cock was barely touching
Suspecting what was coming, Schuldig gulped air and kept his jaw wide.
The tightening grip on his hair burned. Seeing in Yohji's head that
tears would add to his pleasure, Schuldig allowed the pain induced
prickling in his eyes to become more.
Yohji's cock hit the back of Schuldig's throat.
For a moment, Schuldig had no room for thought. All that existed was
pain, the thing in his mouth and the desperate, rippling convulsions
telling him to vomit. When Yohji pulled back, Schuldig had half a
second to recover before Yohji's cock was back. Schuldig lost track of
everything but his fight to breathe.
"Just. Another. Hole. To. Fuck." Yohji's hands remained rock steady
against Schuldig's head as he drove himself into Schuldig's mouth.
Schuldig's first indication that the ordeal was almost over came when
Yohji's hands tightened again. The fact that Yohji's hands could
tighten further surprised him. I
couldn't have gotten away if I'd wanted to. Not once he had his hands
on me. Fuck. That's hot. And scary.
Yohji went rigid with his cock deep in Schuldig's mouth, and Schuldig
swallowed as fast as he could. When Yohji stepped back, pulled out and
let go of Schuldig's head, Schuldig let himself fold down toward the
floor. His entire body shook. He felt a mist of concern, of not quite
regret settle over Yohji's fantasy.
//If I wanted you
to stop-- if I needed you to stop-- I'd tell
you like this.// Schuldig wasn't entirely certain that he would.
Yohji's desire pulled at him. Knowing where it ended was hard. But I could tell him to stop. I could and didn't, and
I said I wanted to. He would have stopped. I think. He
shuddered. He's not sure he would.
He wants to think he would, but he's afraid--
"Get out of those clothes." Yohji's voice was hard. "I'll be back in
ten minutes for the rest of my massage."
He's giving me time. If I say stop
when he comes back, he will. If I don't.... He knows where I keep
everything. Schuldig's fingers fumbled at the drawstring to his
sweatpants. I'm glad I dressed for
comfort today. No. He stilled his hands and took a deep breath. Think. You're not Yohji. You're supposed
to be detached and not get carried away. It's your job. Think.
He deliberately narrowed his connection to Yohji so that it wasn't more
than a location tag. What do I want?
What does he need? The fantasy's hot. Yohji's hot. Still...he had no
Schuldig scrubbed a hand over his face. He's not ready, and I'm not sure I'm ready
to risk it. I don't trust him for that. He pushed himself to his
feet. But I can't tell him that. I
don't think.... He seems pretty damned steady, but he's probably still
fragile. I need to give him something else. What--? Yes. He
extended his mind to brush Ken's. Watching
Drinking my beer. Celebrating Yohji's recovery. Not even
wondering if that's premature.
Schuldig filled a cup with water then splashed water on his face and
used his t-shirt to dry off. He is better. He talked to Ken. He talked to Omi on
the phone. He took the lead here, choosing something other than
surrendering. He straightened as he really understood. He took the lead yesterday, too. He took
care of me, accepted responsibility, thought things through. It was Yohji, too, not Balinese. That wasn't mission
mode. It wasn't cover mode. It was just him.
Schuldig looked more deeply at Ken's thoughts. Yohji the way Ken remembers him. He
closed his eyes. He'd been taught not to pray, but he wanted to. It might be temporary. It's too fast. He's
been improving little by little or Omi would have dismembered me by
now, but-- He leaned his forehead against a wall. Colossal fuck-ups aren't supposed to
On the other side of the house, Ken sat bolt upright and narrowed his
eyes as he checked for possible threats, threats Schuldig might be
planning to warn him against.
Schuldig allowed himself a laugh and let it carry over into his mental
link to Ken. //Nothing
that. Just....// He let his embarrassment leak into his
decided that he wants to play some...games instead of just having me
pamper him. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but I'd rather distract him
than tell him why.//
Games? Ken blinked.
//We started to
talk about...ah...shared fantasies. Team shared fantasies about
captured enemies.// Schuldig hadn't thought anything could make
his face burn like this.
Ken started laughing.
//You guys aren't
supposed to have had fantasies like that!// Schuldig knew he
sounded ridiculous. //You're supposed to
have been repressed and frustrated. Up until I came along.//
Ken only laughed harder. And sex
with you fixes everything.
If they hadn't been talking about Yohji, Schuldig would have closed the
link with the mental equivalent of a flounce and a slammed door. He
suspected that Ken would find that even funnier, but he didn't care. //Sex just makes it
easier for me to get my claws in.// Schuldig kept his mental
voice light. //In
this case, though...I'm afraid of things coming out that he's not ready
for.// He sighed, sensing Ken's disbelief. //There's a risk of me
getting in over my head, too,// he admitted. //I'm not sure I could
tell him to stop or even tell when I needed to tell him to stop. I'm
Ken wasn't laughing any longer. You're
//Why the hell
else are you still here? Brad and Omi wouldn't put all three of us on
'vacation' without a reason, and they told you to stay here, didn't they? Distract
him. Come up with a reason why playing games today won't work.//
If I can't? Ken stood up and
walked toward the stairs. Where is
//If you can't, I
lie to him. I tell him that I don't switch. He won't entirely believe
it. It will shake our trust. It just won't be anything like as bad as
if he hurts me. That would shake
him. He can
live without me. He can't live without himself.// Schuldig
checked his location tag on Yohji. //He's still on this
level, three rooms further down the hall. That's...a playroom. Come up
with something.// He only just stopped himself from adding
'please.' He let go of his connection to Ken, letting it dwindle to
awareness of Ken's proximity. If I
did, he'd never let me live it down.
Trying to calm himself, Schuldig checked to make sure he had everything
ready to complete the massage. Of
course, he may not even want a massage now. He shook his head,
rejecting the possibility of checking Yohji's thoughts. If the news is bad, I don't want to know.
Why do I think the news will be bad? Ken's smart. Hell. I've got it
bad. I knew that. I think everybody knew that. If Brad knew this was
going to happen and didn't warn me--
He stopped himself from kicking the table. Bruised toes will only make everything
worse. He moved the oil for the third time. I didn't even know he liked to switch. I
didn't know. No. He didn't.
Before he didn't. He wasn't sure enough to be in control. Now he's sure
enough but not...stable enough.
His tag on Ken pulsed suddenly as Ken asked for his attention. Schuldig
set his jaw against the noise. I
wish he wouldn't yell. //Yes, Ken?//
You have your delay. Omi and Aya are
coming to visit in an hour. Aya picked the movie.
Schuldig sighed and started putting things away. //Tell Yohji I'll be up
as soon as I clean up here. We need to make sure everything's up to
Aya's standards.// He hesitated then added, //Thank you, Ken.// He
his affection for Ken give the words texture.
He froze with a rolled towel in his hands. Will Yohji understand that part? I love
him, but I also love them. He's special, but I have to take care of all
of them. Everybody else understands. Don't they? If he's better, is
Brad going to-- I won't let him. I need Yohji too much.
He forced himself to put that aside. If
coming, he's going to want a report. That means I need to know
what's in Yohji's head right now, even the stuff he doesn't know.
He touched Yohji's thoughts. He's
annoyed and.... Afraid? Why is he afraid? Oh. Oh. That's what this was
about. He wanted a way to make things the way they were before Neu but
without giving me up. He still hasn't let himself think about it. He's
changed. They've all changed, too, and she's still dead, and he still
killed her. He's missed more than a year, with part of him stuck with
her and me prying him loose millimeter by millimeter, keeping her from
whispering lies in the back of his head.
He pulled the towel taut between his hands. Playing 'prisoners' today would be a bad
idea. He can't go back. He even knows that. The towel refused to
tear. What the hell is it with Weiss
and finding ways not to see reality? He's better at it than the others,
but they all do it. Was it a requirement for joining?
He snorted and threw the towel down on the table. Probably.
Yohji stretched, interlacing his fingers above his head and pulling
against them as he reached toward the ceiling. "I thought they'd never
you're going to vanish again.// Schuldig looked up at Yohji. He
seemed to measure distance, and his hand came up a few centimeters
before dropping back. "I'm too tired to tickle you." He grinned. "Even
with an almost irresistible target."
"Hey!" Ken smacked Schuldig on the head with a pillow then hit Yohji's
temporarily bared stomach with it. "Save it. They haven't been gone ten
minutes, and I'm still here."
Seeing the expression on Schuldig's face, Yohji guessed that he was
telling Ken to make himself scarce.
Ken laughed. "I'm on vacation. I don't have a bedtime." He threw his
pillow at Schuldig.
Yohji narrowed his eyes, evaluating the available ammunition. He bent
to one side as if stretching and grabbed a pillow of his own. As he
straightened, he hurled it at Ken. He laughed and dove for cover.
Schuldig didn't bother getting out of the way. He simply smiled
serenely as the pillows flew. "I don't know where you get the energy,"
he said after a few minutes. "It's been a long day."
Yohji took a moment to kiss the top of Schuldig's head. "You did all
the work." Thank you. I needed to
see them. He was a little surprised that Ken didn't take
advantage of his distraction for another attack. Instead, he looked up
to find Ken grinning at him.
"Maybe you two old men ought to head for bed."
Yohji blinked. Ken's telling us to--
Does he mean that? Or does he just mean we should sleep? This is Ken--
//Yes. He means
'that.' And you're welcome.// Schuldig yawned. "You're right,
Ken. Just think, in another three years, you'll be as decrepit as we
are and have to go to bed early, too." He used Yohji's arm to pull
himself to his feet. "Come on. He just wants to get back to his game. I
bet Omi interrupted it."
Ken nodded. "I recorded the rest, but I need to watch it." He made a
shooing motion then grinned. "Unless you want to watch with me...?"
Yohji wasn't sure if he was supposed to take that seriously or not.
When Schuldig started tugging him toward the door, he decided that he
wasn't. He waved as he went. "Enjoy the game." I wonder who--
//No. This is not
the time to wonder who's playing. The game's been over for hours. We
can go online and find out if you really care, but you're coming with
me now.// Schuldig squeezed Yohji's arm. //I've shared you long
enough. They're sure you're okay. Now I want to see for myself.//
"I'm fine!" Yohji was more than a little tired of having to say that.
You should know.
//What I know,//
Schuldig said as he pulled Yohji toward the stairs, //is that, two days
ago, you were in a severe enough depression that we weren't sure you'd
ever come back. Forgive me if I, too, am afraid of losing you.//
Once they were out of Ken's sight, Schuldig stopped to cup his hand
along Yohji's jaw. "I want as much of you as I can get."
Yohji put his hand over Schuldig's, pressing them both against his
cheek. He smiled. "Okay." Everybody
knows we're together. Omi and Ken like you. Aya...doesn't hate you any
more. He started walking and led the way down the stairs. "I
don't feel fragile."
Schuldig sighed. He seemed to hesitate. Then he said slowly, "How do
you feel when you think about Asuka?"
"About Asuka or about Neu?" Yohji didn't want to think about either of
them, not right now. Still, he has a
right to know. "I've mourned Asuka. She died stupidly. If she
died then. If Neu was Asuka, she wasn't...." He took a deep breath.
"Asuka wasn't in there. She wouldn't have...done that. It's like I
killed a demon, a thing wearing her body." I need to believe that. "Asuka
would have loathed Neu."
Schuldig didn't say anything for nearly a minute. As they reached the
door of the room they'd been sharing, he said, "You are.... Not
fragile. You're right about that. You're more...off balance, not inside
but between the inside and the outside. I'm afraid that will hurt." He
pulled away. "I'm going to brush my teeth."
Yohji watched Schuldig go and wondered if he ought to say something. Or do something. He stepped into
the room and started taking his clothes off. Once he was naked, he sat
down on the rumpled bed.
When Schuldig came back, he stopped in the doorway to look.
Yohji smiled. Like what you see?
He stretched. He stood up. "My turn at the sink."
Schuldig cleared his throat. "Usually, one strips after finishing
everything outside the room."
"Ken's not coming down here unless we call him." Yohji shrugged. He
very deliberately brushed against Schuldig as he passed through the
doorway. I want to get laid tonight.
"You're the one who said we had his blessing." He strolled down the
hall, enjoying the awareness of Schuldig's gaze upon him.
Yohji made quick work of his preparations for bed. He knew he was going
to have to spend some time thinking. I
don't want to do it alone. I think he'll let me think when I need
to. Of course, that's 'need to' by his definitions.
Schuldig had taken time to straighten the bed. He had removed his shirt
and was folding it carefully.
Yohji cleared his throat. "I don't see that often." I'm sure of that. I remember him better
than I remember myself. "Are you upset or are you expecting me
Schuldig turned and looked at Yohji. "Why aren't you?" //I know you're not,
but maybe you should be. I would have told you 'no' earlier. If your
friends hadn't come visiting.//
"Why?" Yohji wasn't sure if he meant why the honesty or why the no. He
stood just inside the door and studied Schuldig.
"Neither of us are ready. I don't think that I would stop you even
if...I knew I should." //I don't know if I'd
be detached enough.//
Yohji blinked. I guess that's the
why I meant. "Would you be too afraid or too caught up?"
Schuldig licked his lips. //Both,// he
all three. There's more than one fear.//
Yohji remembered the urgency he'd felt earlier, the barely leashed
violence. Barely leashed? I'm not
sure it was leashed at all. "Did I hurt you?"
Schuldig shook his head. "No, but I wouldn't have stopped you if you
had, not even if you needed me to." //We might have wrecked
"Does that mean we can't--" Yohji shook his head. He wouldn't have let me come down here
like this if we weren't going to--
//As long as we
don't play games, I think we'll be fine. We don't always need that.//
Greatly relieved, Yohji allowed himself a pout. "I like 'that,' and you
made me some promises before we came here...." Will we be able to play at all?
Schuldig crossed the distance between them, pressed a finger to Yohji's
lips then drew a line down Yohji's chin and along his throat. "I won't
break my promise." //You'll
to remember, though. No amnesia until I'm sure I won't fuck it up
again.// "The risk of losing you isn't one I'm willing to take."
Yohji shook his head slightly. You
all seem to think I was gone. I wasn't.
entirely here, either. You were coming back but slowly and
reluctantly.// Schuldig pressed against Yohji's body. Their lips
met. //I wasn't
sure you'd still want me when you...were yourself.//
The problem with a telepath,
Yohji thought, is that kissing
doesn't shut him up. He slipped a hand into Schuldig's pants so
that he could squeeze Schuldig's ass. After a few seconds, he shifted
so that his lips were on Schuldig's cheek then nibbled Schuldig's jaw
line. He lifted his head. "I'm glad I'm getting laid tonight. This
'vacation' has been damned frustrating."
Schuldig laughed a little even as one hand caressed Yohji's cock. "You
got off today. We've been here days, and I still haven't. Your ass and
mouth were supposed to be mine."
Yohji tugged at the waist of Schuldig's pants. "If you get the rest of
this off, they still can be." He very deliberately formed an image of
himself sprawled on the bed with Schuldig fucking him. He let himself
think about the taste of Schuldig, about the way he felt when Schuldig
was inside his body, about rubbing their cocks together until they were
both sticky, sated and soft again.
Schuldig groaned and pushed himself away from Yohji. //You do not fight fair!//
"Am I supposed to?" Love and war and
all of that. Yohji ran his fingers through his hair, pushing it
back from his face. He grinned.
Schuldig stopped with his pants halfway off. "I don't know," he said.
He sounded a little sad to Yohji ears. //I love you, but I
don't know you. That is, I know you, just.... I met you when you
were...damaged. I don't know how you play when you're happy.//
"I want to know."
Seeing Schuldig uncertain felt wrong, but Yohji wasn't sure what he
could do about it. "Whatever you want. Really. I trust you." I love you. I don't quite know how it
happened, but I do.
Schuldig finished undressing in silence. He sat on the bed. "Whatever I
want is a lot." //And
for tonight.// He held out a hand and waited.
Yohji took Schuldig's hand and let Schuldig pull him toward the bed.
"Just us tonight?" Pleasure and
comfort and two people taking care of each other.
"That's what I need." //For tonight.
Tomorrow, I expect we'll both want something more...complicated.//
"I need to know you're all right before I risk our balance, even for
something we both want."
Yohji pushed Schuldig back on the bed and started sucking on his
collarbone. Did I sound like I was
objecting? Moron. He licked Schuldig's chin then made a face as
the stubble caught his tongue. "I should make you shave." He hoped that
the laughter in the words would tell Schuldig that he didn't mean it.
Schuldig tucked his chin against his chest, trying to see the point
Yohji'd been sucking. "Did you give me a hickey?"
"What if I did? Afraid Ken will ask about it?" Yohji went after the
spot again, intent on making sure that it was a spectacular hickey. You need to laugh. Now. His hands
darted to the spot where Schuldig's legs met his hips and tickled. Yes! I win!
Schuldig drew his legs up, trying to cover the ticklish portions of his
body. "Stop that!"
"You don't sound like you mean it." I
you had to be ticklish somewhere!
Schuldig's hands pressed both sides of Yohji's head and pulled him up
for a kiss. Schuldig ran his tongue over Yohji's lips then gently
pressed his teeth into Yohji's lower lip.
Yohji gave up the tickling in favor of trying to use his lips and teeth
and tongue to convince Schuldig that the kiss should never end. I'm not giving you up.
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