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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 form.

Author: The RCK


Rape, Torture, Swearing, Slight AU (Set immediately after episode 11 of Kapital: Abkunft and diverging from there)


Crawford wants something from Yohji and orders Schuldig to make sure he gets it.

Other Notes:
The AU elements should be fairly obvious. Any that aren't obvious shouldn't matter for the story. They'll only come into play if I ever write a sequel.

Written for sylveraven in the Weiss Day Exchange on Live Journal. The prompt was for pre-Gluhen fic that was hot and heavy, dark and nasty, NC-17 with angst, bondage, non-con/hurt-comfort and Schuldig fucking with people's heads.

This is not related to "Rheotaxis."

2 April 2007

Many thanks to my beta readers, Amy the Evitable, Hope of Dawn, Olna Jenn and Truth. Each offered me input that improved the story. Any errors, as usual, are my own.


Crawford frowned at the bruised, unconscious body slumped on the floor. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "I told you to persuade him, to lure him here."

Schuldig sat on a wooden crate, swinging his feet. Thump. Thump. Thump. He shrugged. "You also said get him here no matter what I had to do. He's not hurt... badly." One corner of his mouth turned up in an expression that bore no relationship to a smile. "And you said tonight."

Crawford's frown deepened. The conjunction of mystical and mundane conditions tonight was as near to perfect as they'd get without waiting another year. Or even two. "Why didn't you drug him?"

"Because it's hard to slip something into a non-existent drink." Schuldig kicked harder, and one of the slats broke. "Want to take a guess what he was doing? Sitting on top of a building where he'd no business being." He inspected his shoe, picking a splinter from the heel. "Not an environment for seduction, either. He wasn't expecting company, didn't want it."

A mission? No. I checked for that. Crawford sighed. Even I can't See everything. "Check the space to see if everything's where you'll need it. Nagi followed your instructions, but..." You change your mind a lot.

Schuldig jumped off the crate. "Did you get everything on my list?"

"Everything on the list you gave me last week, yes. The additions since then aren't all there. I didn't think you really needed a thousand dollar bottle of wine." Some of the items had cost that much and more, but Crawford could also see the applicability of those items. And they're at least theoretically reusable. The ones we won't be burning. "I left a path through there, between the two pink candles. I'll close it after you take him in."

"Pink?" Schuldig looked vaguely offended.

"I'm not using them for anything else." Crawford looked at the ceiling, seeing something else in place of the rafters. "You've got fifteen minutes until he wakes up."

Schuldig nodded and skirted the ceremonial circle and runes that covered the perimeter of the open space defined by the crates Nagi had stacked earlier that evening. When he came to the pink candles, he turned and crossed over, taking care not to smudge anything. "How long is this going to take again?"

"Until he's bound." Crawford carved a symbol into one of the crates. "Not less than three hours but, unless I'm mistaken about how strong he is, not more than ten." He straightened up in time to see Schuldig disappear behind the carefully arranged privacy screens. "And then we'll have our spy."

"Are you sure Kudoh's the best choice?"

"We can't risk interfering with Fujimiya or Hidaka. They have a... role to play later, and my magic could disrupt their ability to do those things." Normally, he wouldn't bother to explain matters to Schuldig in this much detail, but a great deal of tonight's ritual depended on Schuldig's skills and self control. He enjoys this sort of thing entirely too much. Of course, that's what he's for.

"Remember--" He hesitated. Repeating instructions to Schuldig was risky. Too little might lead to him forgetting details, but in Crawford's experience, too much led inevitability to mischief as Schuldig sought loopholes. He despises obedience even when it's in his own best interests. Crawford cleared his throat. "No marks he can't hide, and do your best not to break him. We'll need the Takatori boy's goodwill later, assuming we don't kill him and use the girl instead."

"Yeah, yeah and blah, blah, blah." Schuldig's voice drifted out through the curtains, accompanied by creaking noises that Crawford assumed came from the apparatus within. "How long's it going to take us to disassemble this crap tomorrow?"

"We're not going to. Anything we can't pack up and move in under fifteen minutes will burn with the building." Crawford smiled at Schuldig's strangled sound of protest. "It's not coming out of our savings. Our cut of what Takatori's paying Estet to have us burn the place down will more than cover the extras."

Schuldig didn't respond directly. Instead, he said, "It better not take ten hours then, or we'll all be leaving in broad daylight. Not to mention the day shift coming in."

"There's just a watchman. Farfarello's taken care of him already. It'll be three days before anyone comes here." Unless it all goes to hell.

"Then what's the rush about getting out?"

"Scavengers," Crawford replied. "When I release the two of you from the circle, it'll be like a magical flare. I don't want any of us to get eaten or to leave traces that other magi can use to identify me." He shook his head. "Wasted effort." And too much risk that I'll lose one or the other of you. I have a deadline, and I don't think I could bind another telepath quite so thoroughly as I have you, not without questions, awkward-- and possibly lethal-- questions.

Schuldig snorted. "The kid did a decent job setting this up. I can see why you don't want to disassemble it. I wouldn't have gone so far as to anchor it in the concrete."

Crawford shifted a candle a few centimeters to the left. "It was good practice for him." He frowned and moved the candle a little further. "Kudoh's physically stronger than you think. Takatori's younger brother isn't putting people on that team by accident or just to make up numbers, you know." His... nephew, two godkillers and Kudoh. "Oh-- Be careful what names you let him say. Young Mamoru might notice if Kudoh calls on either of his other names for help. He hasn't any clue of his power yet, and I'd rather keep it that way."

Schuldig leaned out past a screen and studied Crawford. "You didn't mention that wrinkle before. Do I have to keep him from thinking it?"

Crawford turned to look at a symbol he'd already inspected several times. Once he was sure Schuldig couldn't see his face, he frowned. "I don't know." He straightened up, schooled his face to show utter serenity and turned to meet Schuldig's eyes. :I told you there were a lot of variables. If this were easy, I wouldn't need your assistance.:

Schuldig nodded, looking unusually serious. :This is what I'm trained for. Well, among other things.: "Are all the drugs in there safe to use on him?"

"With caution." :With extreme caution.: "If he loses consciousness, I'll have to suspend the ritual." At best. "And don't let yourself dip too far into his mind." Not unless you want me to bind you with his geas, too. He didn't bother to say it. Schuldig knew-- or should know-- that much about magic.

"Can you work if we're linked-- you and I, I mean?" Schuldig sounded hesitant. "So you can let me know to adjust what I'm doing if it's too much or too little."

Crawford made a show of considering it, of hesitating. "It will be a distraction." One I can manage, one that will let me draw on your power. If I can... channel it properly. "But it will let me keep closer track of what's you and what's him." :If everything in there is ready, get him restrained then go to the office and clean yourself.:

"Whatever." Schuldig shrugged. He crossed the circle, staying carefully between the pink candles, then picked up Kudoh and slung him over his shoulder. :You're the boss, after all.:

:Once you're clean, I'll anoint you with a citrus oil-- whichever you prefer-- The sharpness will separate you physically from the working.: Crawford stopped paying attention to Schuldig's actions. I think he realizes how dangerous this is. He'd better. He started running over the glyphs he'd use to mark Schuldig's body off limits from the spell. Just in case.

Yohji knew he didn't want to wake up. Something bad was waiting on the other side of unconsciousness. And I'm not dead, so it's not dying. Yet. Dust. I smell dust and leather. And limes. Limes?

"I know you're awake."

Yohji didn't recognize the man's voice, and he thought that the speaker's accent would be memorable. He could see hints of bright lights through his eyelids, so he tried to turn his head before opening his eyes. He wasn't particularly surprised by the slight creak and rattle that accompanied the attempt nor by the fact that it was only an attempt. I'm naked. I feel air moving where I shouldn't. He didn't bother trying to move a hand to shield his eyes. The weight on his wrists probably wasn't decorative.

"As if. Not that you don't look pretty." The speaker laughed.

Yohji felt breath on his face, smelled the man's toothpaste and something else. Limes, definitely limes. "Who the hell are you?" And did you grab me for me or would anyone have done? Which would be worse? Where was I? He swallowed hard, remembering. I was sitting and thinking and smoking when somebody-- This guy? Probably. He jumped me. He was fucking fast, too.

"For yourself, Kudoh. Absolutely." Fingers touched Yohji's cheek. :I can hear you in there, you know.:

Yohji flinched, the movement truncated by the restraints holding his body. 'In there?' In here. That's bad. There are no words for--

:Yes. In there.: The fingers drummed on Yohji's forehead.

Yohji swore. Stall. Whatever I do, I have to stall. If the guys realize I'm gone, they'll come looking. When they realize. He tugged at his bonds, pushing his wrists against the edges to get a better idea of what the things were made of. Metal and padded leather, I think. "Let me go, you crazy bastard!"

"I can hear you in there, planning, remember?" :I might take some of those off. Eventually.: Something rattled, and Yohji felt his body sway as whatever held him moved. :You move beautifully, but I've stilled you. My choice.: The other man laughed. "I think you'll be impressed when you see what I've put together for you. Only the best." Something blocked the light shining in Yohji's eyes. :Look at me now.:

Startled by the command in his head, Yohji opened his eyes. A gaijin face leaned over his, pale skin framed by red hair. "You-- Do I know you?" His mind raced. Takatori's goon. The one who kidnapped--

:Yes. Exactly.: The foreigner leaned in and kissed Yohji. Sharp teeth sank into Yohji's bottom lip, drawing blood from the inside of his lip. :I'm going to fuck you. Hard. Until you think you'd rather die than have it go on another minute.: He pulled back and laughed softly. "I don't want anything from you except what's easy." :I already know everything about you. Your day job, your night job, your hobbies, your friends. Everything. All I want now is your pleasure and your pain.: He smiled. "You'll give me that, won't you?"

Shit. Yohji wanted to shake his head. Instead he cleared his throat. "I want to see where I am." I can't see around him, and there's too much light when he's not there.

The foreigner stepped back, letting the overhead lights glare into Yohji's eyes. "You see what you see. Anything else, you earn." :You can also earn something to shield your eyes from the glare. Of course, there's a downside to that...:

"Earn?" Yohji blinked then closed his eyes to stop them from watering. He'd seen shadows to indicate a frame around him. Probably suspended from it. Probably a sling. Feels like it, anyway. If it's cheap, I might be able to break it. If I can manage to move or get a little leverage--

"I'm not going to give you that, you know." :As to earning... Open your mouth so I can put this in.:

Yohji had no idea what 'this' might be, so he kept his teeth together.

:You'll have a few choices tonight, but this isn't one of them.: Hard fingers pressed the hinges of Yohji's jaw. "And you should call me Schuldig. I much prefer it to 'the gaijin' or 'Takatori's goon.' In fact..." :Yes. A minute of pain. Each time you call me anything else, even in your head, you'll get a minute of pain.: Schuldig's hand released Yohji's jaw to wrap itself around his testicles and squeeze.

Yohji fought to hold back a whimper as the pressure increased. He bit his lips and tasted blood again.

:I won't stop until you acknowledge me.:

Yohji let the pain escape as sound then panted in relief as Schuldig relaxed his grip.

:It's fucking crude, but grabbing a guy's balls does get his attention.: The mental voice sounded amused. :Now, say my name.:

"Shulder--" Yohji did his best, but the foreign sounds defeated him.

"Schul. Dig." The gaijin hit the terminal consonant hard. "You fucking Japanese can't even manage that." :And that's a minute. I'm Schuldig. Not 'the gaijin.' I think I'll save it for later. Don't worry. I won't forget.: "Try again."

Yohji did, several times, until his captor was finally satisfied.

"Very good. Once more, now."

As he formed the 'ul' part of the name, something slipped between his lips and his teeth then twisted, forcing his jaws apart. He felt the-- Schuldig's-- hands on his head, fastening something. His guts twisted. No. I'm not more helpless now. Somehow that truth failed to calm his body.

Schuldig brushed hair back from Yohji's forehead. "I'm not stupid," he murmured. "I am going to fuck your mouth, but I'm not letting you bite my dick off." :You would. We both know it. I'd enjoy your lips and tongue, your service-- I'm sure you're capable of extraordinary things-- but I'm not stupid. You're not broken enough.:

I'd swear I heard a 'yet' there. Yohji pushed at the intruding object with his tongue. A ring. A metal ring. He growled, knowing that the anger, shame and fear he felt had to be part of the point. Unfortunately his awareness of that only made him feel more diminished.

:Oh, yes. A big part of the point. You taste damned good like this.: Schuldig pressed his body up against Yohji's side.

Definitely a sling. Just from the swaying and the difference in texture between it and his shirt. Yohji tried to relax. Fighting the thing in his mouth would only make it hurt. It'll do that on it's own eventually. And no trying to talk, either. I'll just embarrass myself. His saliva started pooling in his mouth.

:You don't need to talk.: Schuldig traced the edges of the strap holding the ring in place. "If I had you for a few days, I could train you not to think unless I gave you permission." He ran a finger over Yohji's lips. "Would you like that?"

No! Yohji pulled hard on the straps holding his arms and legs. His eyes opened, searching for Schuldig so that he could glare his defiance, but the overhead lights defeated him.

Schuldig laughed. :I'm going to lower you now to make it an easier ride. For me anyway. I wouldn't move if I were you. If I make a mistake, something might break. Like you.:

Yohji took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, and closed his eyes. He wasn't sure if not being able to keep his eyes open made it all better or worse. But I'm not opening them again. Even if I get used to the light, I won't be able to see anything else.

:You can have a blindfold if you want one. Then it's not a choice any more.: Schuldig's words sounded almost gentle. :Earplugs, too. Perhaps even-- if you're really good-- Wouldn't you like a euphoric right now? I can do that. I can also give you a few things that will make things much, much worse.:

A choice not to have a choice, right. Yohji swallowed as well as he could with his mouth open. Please... He wasn't even sure what he wanted to say next. Why can't I be as hard as Aya or as stubborn as Ken or-- A sudden jerk, as his body dropped for a terrifying moment and then caught and stilled, cut off the thought.

"Sorry about that." Schuldig didn't sound sorry at all.

Did he do that on purpose? Yohji's heart pounded like it wanted to abandon him and escape, and he couldn't catch his breath. I can't do this--

:Yes you can. I think you'll be surprised.: Schuldig ran his hands over Yohji's chest, pausing to twist both nipples. "Of course, I haven't decided yet all of what we'll be doing tonight. Opportunities like this don't come up often..." :And in the morning, Kudoh, I'll let you go. I could keep you. I could kill you. But I won't, and we'll both know what happened, every moment of it, what you enjoyed, what you didn't, how you begged. You will beg. I'll enjoy that.:

Knowing that he was going to survive-- assuming Schuldig wasn't lying-- somehow didn't help as much as Yohji'd have expected it to. I'll have to live with... this. He focused his mind as best he could and thought, If you want me to beg, I will. He clenched his hands. If begging might get me something, I'll do it.

:Oh, good.: Teeth sank into the flesh of Yohji's upper arm.

Yohji twisted, trying to escape the unexpected pain. His skin tore under Schuldig's teeth. His shouted curse came out sounding like a grunt because the thing in his mouth wouldn't allow him to form the initial or final consonant.

A fist like a hammer drove into Yohji's belly, choking him, driving his body into a spasm of stillness. "Open your eyes, you little fuck!" :Or I'll start pulling out your toenails.:

Yohji gasped, trying to catch his breath, and opened his eyes. He blinked and squinted against the light. The gaij-- Schuldig moved to block the brightest light again.

"That's two minutes." A small smudge of blood marked one of Schuldig's cheeks. :You've got no fucking discipline.:

My blood. Shit. Yohji started to close his eyes but caught himself in time. It's easier to think of you by name when I can't see you. He kept his eyes on Schuldig's face, doing his best to catch details of where he was out of the corners of his eyes. Light blue walls. No. They're moving. Curtains. What doesn't he want me to see? He swallowed again, trying to clear the saliva from his mouth.

:Was that a plea for a blindfold? I'll consider it. Of course, I might just tape your eyelids open.: Schuldig wiped the blood from his cheek with his fingertips. He looked at his hand for a moment then smiled. "First blood. I'd planned to wait a little longer for that." :I have a lovely, brand new set of scalpels, just for you. You won't even feel them... at first.:

Yohji fought to control his nausea. If he threw up now, he'd choke on it.

"I wouldn't let that happen." :Trust me.:

Yohji tried to shake his head. No. I'm not stupid, either.

"You'll feel better if you trust me." :Whether it's a lie or not, you'll feel better. That's why people like religion.: Schuldig leaned down and kissed each of Yohji's eyelids in turn. Yohji tried to pull back, tried to keep his eyes open as Schuldig's lips got closer, but failed on both counts. :I won't punish you for that. Just keep them open now.: Schuldig stepped back, letting the full light fall on Yohji's face again.

The lights brought tears to Yohji's eyes, but he faced them without flinching. After a few seconds, they seemed more distant, meters away instead of centimeters. How high is the ceiling? There's darkness behind them. He jerked his head, trying to turn to one side, as he heard something from outside the curtains. Something moving--

Schuldig's hand gripped Yohji's chin. :Keep your mind on what's important, Kudoh.: His fingers brushed over Yohji's throat. :After all, I'm the one with his hands on your body.: His thumbs pressed lightly on Yohji's Adam's apple. "So very fragile..." :As you know well.:

Schuldig's hands disappeared from Yohji's line of sight. A moment later, Yohji heard a zipper, then cloth rubbing against cloth. He very deliberately moved his fear to the place where he kept it on missions. A mistake here might not kill me, but it'll sure as hell hurt. It's not like I've never had a cock in my mouth before. Doing it again won't destroy me. I'll just pretend it's a mission.

"Open wide, Kudoh." Schuldig snickered then tapped the metal ring in Yohji's mouth. :Oh, but you already have.:

Just fucking do it. Yohji couldn't see enough to be sure how he was restrained, so he wasn't certain how Schuldig planned to come at him. Whatever's holding my head is going to get in the way.

:That's why I'm removing those. For now. Welcome me enough, and maybe I'll leave them off.:

The moment his head was free, Yohji turned his head to let the accumulated saliva spill out. He had enough self-preservation to turn away from Schuldig. As much fun as spitting on you might be.

Fingers pinched Yohji's ear, tugged him back. The hand moved to his hair and fisted. "Now." Yohji heard urgency and anger in that single word. He closed his eyes, just for a second, as if things might change when he opened them again. He turned his head.

I can do this. I have to. He did his best not to look at Schuldig's cock, not to think about it moving closer. Please, may I close my eyes?

:No.: Schuldig held Yohji's head with his hands as he moved his hips forward, pushing his cock through the ring and into Yohji's mouth. "Ah. Yes. Very nice."

Yohji hesitated then brushed his tongue along Schuldig's cock, hoping that Schuldig wouldn't push further in.

"Oh, very good. I knew you were trainable." Schuldig's voice had become a little breathy, eager. :For that, you may close your eyes. As long as you keep... cooperating.: He ground his pelvis against Yohji's face.

Yohji closed his eyes and concentrated on not choking. He moved his tongue almost randomly, hoping that that would be good enough. He wasn't sure if he wanted this to end rapidly, just to have it over, or if he wanted it to continue as long as possible. Every second spent on this was a second during which Schuldig wasn't doing something else-- something worse-- to his body.

Schuldig hissed, drawing air in. His fingers tightened on Yohji's head. He rocked his hips forward and back, fucking Yohji's mouth. :Don't worry, Kudoh.: Even his mental voice sounded breathless. :I'm well trained. I'll get it up several times tonight.:

Yohji let go of a hope he hadn't quite let himself acknowledge. At least, if he's fucking me, he isn't doing anything worse. He hadn't forgotten about the scalpels or the drugs, and he doubted they were all of the... extras Schuldig had.

Finally, Schuldig came. Guessing that not to would lead to punishment, Yohji did his best to swallow, but some of the fluid leaked from the corners of his mouth. When his body relaxed again, Schuldig stepped back, letting his cock slip free of Yohji's mouth. He bent down to whisper in Yohji's ear. "Actually, I don't give a damn." :Well, if the thought made you sick, I'd see what else I could make you swallow. Bet you're a hell of a cocksucker without a gag.:

Yohji's stomach rebelled. He turned his head toward the ceiling and swallowed hard. I will not throw up.

Schuldig laughed.

Yohji turned his head to see the other man cleaning himself off. Beyond Schuldig, he saw a dolly with flaking blue paint, a wheeled cart with a flat, table-like top and several heavy suitcases open on the floor. He couldn't quite see the contents, but his imagination supplied possibilities, too many possibilities. His experience with Weiss had shown him too many of the things that human beings could-- and often did-- do to each other.

Schuldig picked up one of the suitcases and put it on the cart. "Since I've spoiled the surprise on these..." He nudged the cart a little closer to where Yohji lay. "I will let you choose where you want me to cut you." His lips curved upward, amusement as cutting as any of the scalpels he'd spoken of. "You're the one who'll have to hide the scars, after all."

Yohji stared at Schuldig. I don't scar. He looked away. Not physically, anyway. And I really, really didn't want him to know that. He clenched his hands. That's how I'm really naked.

For a few seconds, Schuldig was silent and still. "Is that so?" he said at last. :How convenient.: He took one of Yohji's hands in his own and studied it, inspecting each finger separately. "Not a mark. Improbable given your weapon of choice." He sounded clinical, so detached that Yohji was confused. "How long does it take?"

Yohji let his head fall back. He kept his mind as blank as he could by trying to remember the lyrics to an annoying song that the girls who frequented the flower shop loved. Once he had that running through his head, he thought, Take this damned thing out of my mouth! He wasn't sure how well bargaining would work, but he knew that surrender would buy him nothing.

Schuldig laughed again. :If you'll think of a different song.: His fingers loosened the strap then twisted the ring so that it could be removed.

Yohji swallowed a whimper as he finally closed his mouth. He licked his lips and worked his jaw back and forth sideways. He coughed. "It depends," he said. "Bullet wounds that should have killed me were gone in days." He used the memory of a complicated jazz piece to dislodge the pop song. I can always do it again.

"All your life?" The question sounded urgent. Schuldig's hands moved around Yohji's head again, fastening something. Unwilling to lose the little mobility he had, Yohji jerked his head away. :Hold still, idiot. It's just a sling to hold your head. However well you heal, you'll get hurt if you try to support your head on your own all night.:

Like you give a damn. "I think it's been all my life. I don't have any scars." Yohji hoped that Schuldig would let him pretend that he hadn't thought that. He tried to relax against the sling and to pretend, at least to himself, that his immobility was by choice.

:If you'd been at the fucking bar where you were supposed to be, this would be by choice. At least you'd think so.: Schuldig sounded irritated. He pushed the cart to one side and walked away to look in the suitcases again. "With your spectacular ability to heal, I think we'll try something else for your punishment."

Yohji bit his lip. Not scarring doesn't mean it wouldn't hurt. He forced himself to abandon that line of thought. He went looking for me. Why?

"I was bored. You're a little harder to track down than the others, so you're more of a challenge on a slow night."

Great. Yohji gave up on trying to watch what Schuldig was doing and closed his eyes again. He inhaled deeply. Let the tension go...

:You're bizarrely passive. No screaming for help. No crying. No thrashing.:

Yohji decided not to interrupt his relaxation to answer out loud. I'm biding my time. He was rewarded with a snort of laughter. Inhale, two, three, four, five, six. Exhale... There is someone else out there. I hear a voice.

A hand on his left ankle interrupted Yohji's thoughts. He twitched the foot only to have the movement stopped by something hard and cold against the sole. His breath caught, and he lost the momentary peace he'd gained from the controlled breathing. Shit. He tried to distract himself. It's a man's voice. Just one man. Not Japanese. European? He's... chanting?

A finger rubbed the arch of Yohji's foot, reclaiming his attention. :You have pretty feet, Kudoh. Very pretty. If I didn't have a time limit, if I were keeping you, I'd bone them. You'd survive it if I did it right. Very tricky work, though. Think about that-- Crawling around for the rest of your life with these ugly, scarred things flopping behind you.:

Yohji retched and tried to twist his ankle free, but Schuldig's hand held firm. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I need leverage.

"I worked very hard not to give you any." Schuldig's words almost drowned out the sound of that other voice even as it increased in volume. :If you don't pay attention, I'll always find a way to make you.: He laughed.

Distraction is vulnerability. Yohji raised his head, trying to see Schuldig, but the lights seemed brighter than they had been and hit him like weights pushing his head back.

"One minute each, I think. Unless I want to do more." :Will it frighten you more if I explain why the bastinado hurts like hell? No?: "I haven't heard you scream yet. Give me that now." :Let me hear your pain, and I'll think seriously about that euphoric. You're going to want it when I start sticking things into your ass.:

"Do you want a scream before or after you hit me? Or are you looking for both?"

"I'm looking for the real thing. Whimpers, tears and pleading work, too." Schuldig laughed quietly. "But if you want to demonstrate your acting ability, by all means do."

Willing to accept any delay, Yohji took two breaths to relax his diaphragm then let loose with a scream. It held more anger than fear still and wasn't quite a cry for help. He was too sure that no one who'd care could hear. Still, he half-believed in spirits and gods, and he'd take help from anybody who'd give it. Anybody who wasn't Schuldig.

As Yohji ran out of air and the sound of his scream faded, miles away, Omi frowned, set down his textbook, looked over at Ken and asked, "Where's Yohji?"

As Ken shrugged indifferently and replied, "Out," Schuldig struck the sole of Yohji's foot hard, and Yohji's temporary focus shattered. A moment later, Omi nodded to acknowledge Ken's reply, unsure why he'd even asked, and rose to make himself tea.

For a second, Yohji wasn't quite sure why the bastinado was supposed to be so terrible. Then the pain announced itself to him. He gasped and swallowed air.

"That was pathetic," Schuldig observed. He struck again. :I want sound, Kudoh.:

Yohji's answering growl turned into a whine. He gasped, trying to draw in air before the next blow fell. He clenched his hands then flexed them then clenched them again. The fourth blow forced tears past his tightly closed eyelids. "Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit--" Pain interrupted the repetition.

:Your mind tastes so good when you're hurting.:

Yohji gave Schuldig a scream after the next blow. He hated himself for doing it, but he also found that it made the pain a little easier to bear. And I have to survive. I have to do that much for myself.

Schuldig paused then started massaging Yohji's bruised foot. "You'll still feel that in the morning, won't you?"

Yohji gasped, feeling the pain echo through his bones. "Don't. Please." Surely it's been a minute by now? He refused to let himself think about the other minute or the other foot. Later for... later.

:It has been. I'm just having fun, now.:

Yohji felt wetness then hardness, Schuldig's tongue and teeth on his toes. At least it's just my feet.

:For now.: Schuldig nipped Yohji's middle toe. :We'll get to other things.: He bit Yohji's ankle then nibbled his way up Yohji's leg, stroking and kneading the muscles with both hands as he went. :Oh, yes. I've got your full attention now, don't I?:

Yohji groaned as warm breath touched his cock. This is either going to be very good or very bad. Or both.

Schuldig laughed. :I'm not going to let you come. Not this early in the night.: He licked Yohji's balls then cupped them in one hand and pinched them right where they hung from Yohji's body. He twisted a few pubic hairs around a finger and tugged. "This is turning you on, Kudoh." His voice suggested mischief and sin in equal parts, and for a moment, Yohji wished that they had come to this differently.

"What would you have done if--"

"Mind fucks are my domain." Schuldig ran his tongue along the length of Yohji's cock. :It doesn't matter now, and you'll only hate yourself more if you get tangled in what ifs. Don't screw yourself, Kudoh. I'll do that thoroughly enough for both of us.:

"I'm not going to hate myself." Yohji tried to ignore what Schuldig was doing long enough to focus on his words. "I haven't done anything." Nothing but buy time and, I hope, a little less pain. No shame in that. None.

:Of course not...: Schuldig sucked Yohji's cock into his mouth and swirled his tongue over the head of it.

Yohji groaned, all thought fled.

Schuldig brought him almost to orgasm then pulled away. :Think about that a while. I'm taking a break.:

Yohji gasped, gulping in air. "Bastard..." he whispered. He clenched his jaw, trying to hear what was going on. Footsteps. Is he opening a bottle? He licked his lips. Yes. I'm thirsty, too.

:I'm not any more. Of course, I can also piss any time I want to.: Fluid dripped onto Yohji's belly. He flinched then stilled when it didn't seem to harm him. :Grapefruit soda, Kudoh. Want some where it'll do you some good?:

Yohji bit his lip then said, "I'd like to drink some."

Schuldig laughed. "So very careful." :And wise. Though drinking is what I meant. I can get creative in other ways.: He snorted. "I will be putting a little... something into it. Something that'll make you happy for a while."

Happy doesn't seem like a bad thing. Yohji tried to relax. "I can't stop you." The resignation in his own voice depressed him. I don't have any choices right now. I have to wait. They'll come.

"Turn your head to the right."

Yohji complied, and after a few minutes and some rustling noises, a straw slipped between his lips. He sucked on it until he had a mouthful of liquid. The tart sweetness was threaded with another flavor, one he couldn't place. I just hope whatever the hell it is doesn't make things worse.

"Drink it all." :Would I do that to you?:

Of course, you would. Asshole.

:I put up with 'bastard,' but I'm not sure I'm going to tolerate 'asshole.':

Yohji continued to drink. If this is just one night, why the hell do you need excuses for hurting me?

"I said I'd let you go in the morning. I never said I wouldn't pick you up again."

Yohji choked and spat out a mouthful of the drink.

"I said, 'Drink all of it.' If I have to pour it down your throat, you won't like what I'll do to make you swallow." :The drug may make you start hearing things or smelling things or seeing things. Keep your eyes closed and pay attention to my voice here. That will always be real.:

Like a nightmare is better than like this. It's too damned real.

Schuldig's fingers traced circles on Yohji's cheek. :It will still feel real, you know. Even the parts that aren't.: He tugged on Yohji's earring. :I'm surprised you can keep these. Don't the holes keep healing shut?:

Yohji winced even though the tug didn't actually hurt. Not if I'm careful. Finally, he heard the sputters of air that signaled that he was close to finishing his drink.

:When you need to piss, let me know. I'd prefer not to get it on the floor.: Schuldig pulled the straw away. :Now I'm going to fuck you. Mouth or ass. Take your choice.:

Schuldig felt the spell take. After eight hours of games with Kudoh, Crawford's binding finally worked. About time. I bet we'd still be waiting if I hadn't carved those symbols into Kudoh's back, all forty-seven of them. Poor bastard. He kept his hands working until Kudoh shuddered again in orgasm, his third of the night.

Schuldig stepped back and wiped his hands on a pre-moistened towelette. :It's done, isn't it?: he asked Crawford. It better be. I'm fucking tired, and Kudoh's near to passing out, even with the drugs.

:Yes.: Crawford's mental voice radiated satisfaction. :Clean him up before you open the curtains. I've already seen more of the mess you've made in there than I wanted.:

And you wanted to fuck him, too, didn't you? Long experience led Schuldig to keep that observation to himself. Crawford only allowed insubordination so far. He has no sense of humor about sex or power. None. :As you command.: He allowed himself a slight mental sneer.
He tested the flavor of Kudoh's mind. Somewhere over the Himalayas, I think. "Time for an antagonist," he muttered.

Kudoh giggled. I thought you were the antagonist. He'd given up speaking out loud hours before, when it started hurting too much.

"I said 'an' not 'the.'" Of course he heard me. Even drugged, he doesn't miss much. "I think I rate a definite article." :And, really, I'm not any more.: Schuldig retrieved the syringe he'd prepared the day before. I'd have known it was done, even without Crawford saying, even without touching Kudoh's mind. It's like a neon sign went up, saying, 'Property of your master. Don't damage.' Of course, the real test is whether Farfarello can see it. We'll try that one later.

:I'm going to give you a shot. Hold still.: He prodded Kudoh's arm, looking for a healthy vein. :There.: That done, he turned away. "I'm going to clean up. Let me know when you've landed." He didn't particularly care if Kudoh understood him.

Fifteen minutes later, Schuldig was as clean as he was going to get without a shower, so he put on his clothes. He gave Kudoh a mental poke. "Sober yet?"

Kudoh coughed, clearing his throat. "Maybe?" The word came out as the barest croak.

Schuldig laughed. "Good. It's over, and Crawford wants to talk to you." He thought about breaking the news first, more gently than Crawford would, but he was tired and fairly sure that there wasn't a gentle way to do it. Hello. Good morning, and by the way, you're a slave now. And Crawford thinks that won't break you. He confuses wholeness with ability to function. "I'm going to unstrap you, let you clean up and get dressed. If you try to attack me, it'll hurt, and I won't have to lift a finger."

Kudoh took in those words and turned them over and over in his head.

Schuldig watched with fascination as Kudoh poked at the corners of his own mind. He knows there's a difference. Will he pin down what it is? Most people wouldn't notice. He turned down the overhead lights then removed Kudoh's blindfold.

"What the hell have you done with my head?" Kudoh still couldn't manage more than a whisper, but the anger he felt made the words seem louder. He rolled his head back and forth in denial and tried to open his eyes to glare at Schuldig, but his eyes couldn't tolerate even the lower light levels. It's all different? What did you do?

"I haven't done anything to your head." Schuldig released Kudoh's left wrist. "That's all Crawford." :He won't give a damn if you don't call him 'Master,' not as long as you're either polite or useful. Not like some.: We could be a lot worse off. You'll get that eventually.

Kudoh reached for his other wrist but fell short. His fingers barely managed to pass his elbow because he hurt too much to twist his torso.

Schuldig snorted and smacked Kudoh's hand. :Don't be stupid.: "I said I'd let you go. Just relax." He released Kudoh's right wrist. "I'll undo all the straps. Move slowly. You're a long way from ready to sit up, let alone stand."

Kudoh showed more patience than Schuldig had expected of him. He waited for Schuldig to finish releasing him and did more of the controlled breathing he'd used several times during the night. His thoughts and emotions were less well ordered, but Schuldig refrained from commenting.

"Let me know when you want me to help you up," Schuldig said as he undid the last restraint. "Crawford wants you clean and dressed when you come out." :He dislikes... mess.: Schuldig bared his teeth. :He's got the rest of us to do the dirty work, so he can afford to be fastidious.:

"Why?" Why me? Why this? What is this? Kudoh used his hands to shield his eyes as he opened them again.

"Crawford wants to explain that." :But I'll tell you what he doesn't, and...: He shook his head. He touched Kudoh's shoulder, being careful not to put pressure on anything that would cause more pain. :I'll be there when it hurts.: The sympathy he felt for Kudoh surprised him.

It also surprised Kudoh. But you... You got off on... that. His mind shied away from putting it into words, but the memory of every blow, every cut, every word, every violation of mind and body reverberated through him.

:Yeah, I did.: Schuldig touched one of Kudoh's hands, fingertips to fingertips. :I would again. I will if you ever piss of Crawford badly enough. That's what I do.:</i> "Ready to stand up? It's going to take a while to get the blood and... other things off you."

"I don't want to put weight on my feet." Kudoh's thoughts offered Schuldig a detailed list of the bruises, cuts and pains that made moving unappealing.

Right. That will hurt. Schuldig took it as a measure of his own exhaustion that the prospect didn't amuse him. "You're going to have to. Crawford wants it." Schuldig forced a smile and watched Kudoh tense in response to the implied order. No choices, Kudoh. I want out of this damned circle. I want a shower, a meal and a nap, and I won't get them until you've talked to Crawford. "Think how bad it would be if you didn't heal fast. You'd still have to stand up and walk out of here." He closed a suitcase and put it on the dolly. "You've got until I've packed all of this."

Kudoh's revulsion at the thought of the suitcases and their contents startled Schuldig. :What? These are expensive. Crawford'll never buy me tools this good again. I'm not letting them burn just to make you happier.:

Burn? There was panic in the thought, and Kudoh struggled to sit up.

:Not you, dumbass.: Kudoh's sudden spike in pain came to Schuldig like the scent of his favorite foods. :You think we're working this hard to burn you? Moron.: Exhaustion and eight hours of indulgence made the prospect of more nauseating. He sighed. "Let me help you up, Kudoh." He tugged Kudoh up and out of the sling, settled him in a huddle on the floor and shoved towelettes and bottled water at him. "Clean up. I'll help when I'm done packing." He ignored Kudoh's confusion and his frustration at not being able to attack Schuldig. If it weren't for the binding, you'd be on your feet and trying to beat the shit out of me, wouldn't you? And it's ripping you up inside.

After he finished packing, Schuldig turned back to Kudoh. "Too bad we don't have a hose." He wrinkled his face. "You're filthy."

Whose fault is that? Kudoh kept his face expressionless, burying his resentment and working steadily on wiping himself off.

Schuldig crouched and started cleaning Kudoh's back. I wonder how long his anger will carry him? How long before the shame and despair take over? "Do you want me to put anything on these cuts? I do have... medical supplies."

Kudoh turned to look at Schuldig over his shoulder. This time, he managed a glare. No. Stop touching me.

"Crawford wants me to clean you."

Kudoh's shoulders slumped a little as he found he couldn't argue with that, and they worked in silence for a while.

Schuldig refrained from commenting when Kudoh flinched as one or the other of them touched something that hurt more than the rest of it. I could have hurt him worse. He resisted the urge to trace the cuts, to press on the bruises. "Stand up. We can use the rest of the bottled water to clean your ass and your crotch."

Wordlessly, Kudoh pushed himself up. He swayed as he got to his knees and almost fell when he put weight on the soles of his feet.

Schuldig caught Kudoh's arm and held him up. :You can do it. You have to.:

Kudoh nodded and set his jaw. He shifted his weight several times before settling on a stance. He held out a hand. "Give me a bottle." I'm washing my... front.

Schuldig raised his eyebrows but handed over the water. He managed not to think that he doesn't want my hands on his dick. Even though he doesn't. He dripped water over Kudoh's buttocks. Why the hell do I care? He'll do the job Crawford wants, and then it'll be over. He shook his head. He's got guts and humor and a damned fine ass, and Crawford doesn't care about any of it.

Schuldig gave Kudoh a towel and let him dry himself. "Your clothes are over there." He pointed to a corner of the enclosure. "Haul ass. The boss man's getting impatient." Actually, I think he's taking a nap, but he should be getting impatient. He hesitated then touched Crawford's mind. :We're almost done. He's putting his clothes on now.: He looked over at Kudoh. :In fact, he's testing his watch.:

:Does it still work?: Crawford's reply was immediate. :He's going to need it.:

:Of course it still works. You didn't tell me to break it.: Schuldig pushed aside one of the privacy screens. "Come on, Kudoh. If you've got time to play with toys, you're ready to talk to Crawford."

Crawford sat on one of the crates, looking out over the room as if he owned the world. "Good morning, Kudoh." He inclined his head to one side, superior acknowledging inferior. "I'm sure you'll serve me well."

:Kneel when you get out here. Crawford won't care, but it'll be easier on you than standing,: Schuldig told Kudoh. "He'll serve you with a blow job, if that's what you want." He laughed, knowing Crawford expected it of him. Then he tasted Kudoh's nausea at realizing that, if Crawford wanted a blow job, he actually would give him one. Somehow... less funny.

Kudoh knelt next to Schuldig. He didn't look at either Schuldig or Crawford. He coughed. "What do you want me to do?"

Schuldig could barely hear the words. :His voice is damned near gone, Crawford. I'll relay.: He knew from his own experience that, if Crawford told Kudoh to speak up, he'd try, even if it destroyed his voice. He put a hand on Kudoh's head. :He asked what you want him to do.:

Crawford looked down at Kudoh. "Schuldig thinks he's funny. What I need from you is something a bit more complicated than a--" He frowned as if he found the words distasteful. "--blow job." He leaned forward just a little. "I don't think you'll find it difficult, not with your talents."

Like he cares about Kudoh's talents. He just needs working eyes and ears.

Kudoh looked up at Crawford but didn't say anything.

:He needs a spy.: Schuldig thought Crawford would never get to it. :Just eyes and ears.:

"I need to keep track of what your team is doing. I want to know what matters to them, why they do what they do. Don't change your behavior. Protect your teammates. Kill who Kritiker tells you to kill when they tell you to kill them, as long as it's nobody who belongs to me."

:You'll always know who belongs to him. There aren't many of us, either.: Schuldig rubbed the back of Kudoh's head.

"I'm especially interested in your youngest teammate. Don't say his name-- not even his codename-- when you're with me. He has the potential to be very important, and I want to know who he is before he finds that out."

:If Crawford likes what he hears, you might be saving the boy's life.: Schuldig was pretty sure that Crawford didn't want Kudoh to know that, but Crawford hadn't said so explicitly. When I don't know the orders, I'm not forced to obey them.

Kudoh started under Schuldig's hand then froze. "I can do that."

"I want you to check in regularly. Schuldig will find you when I have specific instructions, and he'll pick up your reports." Crawford smiled. "Don't let anyone guess that this night ever happened." He waved a dismissive hand. "Make up a story to cover whatever you can't hide."

:He won't kill the boy unless he has to, but the other two have no such protection.: Schuldig knew he was lying, but he thought Kudoh'd have an easier time if he thought the secrecy protected his teammates. :He doesn't absolutely need the boy, though. Just bear it in mind.:

Kudoh sagged, as much under the weight of Schuldig's words as under Crawford's orders.

No. Schuldig sighed. It's not the orders or the information. It's the knowledge that he'll do it, even if he doesn't want to, even if he hates it, even if it kills his friends. Poor bastard. He squeezed Kudoh's shoulder gently, not wanting to cause more pain but wanting to remind the other man that he wasn't alone. :Welcome to Schwarz, Yohji. We'll take care of you. We have to. Nobody else is going to understand.:

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