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December 2006

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youji - i need a cigarette

sevendials in aegis_weiss

Youji's office: Early Afternoon

Schuldig stood on the corner, both hands in his pocket so his jacket was hanging over his arms. Neck bare, all those nice teeth marks and bruises. (Not going to show off that one down there though? Not quite so proud of that?) He'd even pulled his hair back away from his face into a ponytail to keep it from blocking the view. Had his sunglasses perched on the top of his head, just because he'd opened the drawer to toss the lube back in (since losing that would be more than a little annoying) and saw them there.

(Lost your touch, stupid boy.)

Omi was back at work, doing whatever boring thing had been rattling through his brain when he left. Nothing important enough that he listened to it--but then, the thing that came before that. (--have to make sure they don't hate me.) Watercolor memory of Yohji in the bar, that exact instant when Omi looked over and saw him--all with his hand on Schuldig's neck and his words all hot in his ear. Niggling little worry that this--this thing with him--might...

That thing there; endless possibilities with that thing. Wondered about it, about making the Weiss hate Omi, just a little push or prod, and then what it would take to heal Omi after that. Wondered how it would change the game.

Wondered if Omi would know what he did. (Think he's that good? Pretty damn complimentary.) No, peaches (--interesting nickname, didn't someone call you peaches once--) wasn't that good--could be, but wasn't consistent. Pushed too hard, he'd break or he'd snap and that beastie he hid in his belly would come out to play for real.

Wouldn't it be fun to find out which?

Walked the final steps to Yohji's door, pushed the door open--dampened Yohji's perception of it--and strode across the room to where the man himself was sitting at his desk, chin in his hand, cigarette dangling from his lips. Sat down on the desk and reached over to take the cigarette--loosened his hold on Yohji's perceptions so he could see him there.

"Think Omi would find it sexy if I smoked after sex?"

Felt - agreeably disobedient, like a kid sat in the back of the classroom, slacking off just for the sake of seeing how long he could get away with it. Felt young; hope this doesn't get back, can do without dad's disapproval... Staring into space and thinking of nothing much, or trying not to. Too much to think about. Too much to worry about it. What he wouldn't give to not care...

... shouldn't you be doing something, Kudou?

Doing a damn good impression of not caring. He stared out the window of his office at the building across the street - young woman framed in the window, trim little office lady waiting at the photocopier, her hair in a bun. Good figure beneath that tidy uniform. Husband-hunting, he bet, with no more interest in her job than that it allowed her to come into contact with young men. If you put as much thought into your own work, Kudou, as checking out the women in the building across the way, you'd--

He still wouldn't be anywhere. Certainly not anywhere he wanted to be. Youji ignored the files, the diligent clutter spread out across his desk, idling laptop computer: yes, teacher, I'm working. Christ. What did that Schwarz hope to get out of this apart from a due date on his life - all of their lives? Some things a guy was better off not knowing.

Ignorance is bliss--

--Stupid, Balinese shouted, fucking stupid, Kudou, think you can afford to think like that, well think again. You want to fucking die?

Shut up, Balinese. Shut up, shut up. You'll get your turn soon enough. Go away.

He sighed. Lit a cigarette, took a drag, looked up - someone's there--

Oh. Oh shit.

Could do, for a moment, nothing but stare as he met the Schwarz's eyes. Too surprised to much notice that, somewhere along the line, he'd lost the cigarette. God. God almighty. What was it with these guys and randomly walking into his office without so much as a preliminary phone call, no knock on the door, even? That was two dead murderers in his office in under a week -three if you counted himself, but Youji tended not to. At least Farfarello had possessed the good grace to be noisy about it, though. And hadn't stolen his cigarette, either.

Youji scowled, reached for the packet of cigarettes he'd only just put away, taking the butt of another in his teeth and pulling it from the pack. "Are you suggesting I should know from experience?"

Balinese smirked. At least you're a better killer than you are a detective. Lame, Kudou, very lame.

Farf? (Doesn't surprise you does it? No. Because Farfarello has actually been doing something all this time.) Had to remember to come back to that, when Yohji was more distracted (is that possible?) Nothing very likely to be interesting to him in that meeting if Yohji was just rolling his eyes at him and lighting another cigarette.

Besides the other comment was far more fun. Experience, huh?

Schuldig blew the smoke out and grinned. "Omi has better taste than that, Kudo." Stood up and dropped the cigarette into the overflowing ashtray. "But if you had fucked him I'd know about it." Straightened his jacket back down, rubbed his hand across his neck and looked around the small, unpleasantly scented office. Looked back down at Yohji. (Come on, amuse me.)

"You and Omi?" Youji raised his eyebrows in an exaggerated parody of extreme surprise. Hoped his expression parodic enough to cover up the fact that it was no joke at all--

(No chance of that with this one. Telepath, remember?)

Got to his feet likewise. Goddamndest thing, but sitting when another was standing - it was supposed, was it not, to be an expression of power? It had never felt like that to Youji. It made him feel diminished, somehow, and somehow vulnerable. Staying in your seat was only a good move when you were unimaginative enough to have a gun in the desk drawer, and Youji had seen that move enough times to know it never worked as well done for real as the movies liked to suggest.

Needed space to use the weapon, if it came to that. Wasn't expecting a business proposition out of this one.

So he stood. Met Schuldich's eyes and allowed himself to smirk in a way experience and Ken Hidaka had assured him was almost immediately infuriating. "Wait, you're implying that Omi sleeping with you is somehow a sign of refined tastes? I don't think I'd like to live in your world."

Schuldig let the smile spread across his face, slow, friendly even. Nice. (Didn't this man try to kill you once?) Yes. (Revenge; the kitty's love their revenge, don't they?) Indeed. He dropped his eyes from Yohji's face--matter of habit, that--and there on his wrist. His wire.

(Have to do it now.) Yes. No choice.

"The funny thing," Schuldig said, slowly almost. "Is that you assume I would care." There, reached his hand out, fisted it in Yohji's hair and pulled it back--hard enough strands were pulled free and Yohji shouted something, slipped into his mind in that moment, nice and deep, furrowing a path straight through all idiotic surface thoughts. Down to the core. "Presumptive bastard," he hissed with a grin on his face and then shoved Yohji's face down, faster and felt the man's knees give out under the suddenness of the posture change--and maybe a little help from Schuldig to dull his reactions.

Five long years since this man here had the chance to work those skills, five years without pulling that wire one time. His mind snapped right to it, body seconding it, pulling the wire free.

"No," Schuldig said. "My turn." Twisted in Yohji's mind a bit, enough to make him dizzy--motion sickness almost--and reached down, grabbed the wire and pulled it back. Felt it digging into his skin not quite deep enough to cut yet, but the tension was pulling tighter.

Tight enough that it left a pink line across Yohji's throat, tight enough it left the impression in his head, tight enough it made the little bastard question a few things about his assumptions and his damn smile.

Too slow, Balinese said matter of factly. You're slipping, Kudou. You're--

Panic. Hadn't been expecting this, not so soon, not so fast. Well, what were you expecting? He didn't know, just - not this, not here, not now, on his knees on the floor of his own goddamned office, never really liked the place but what with the price of real estate he'd taken what he could - and nauseated, sluggish and and dizzy and dazed, fatally, like a man who was three days drunk - too slow. Hadn't expected this, not so soon. Too fucking bad.

Fuck. Fuck, this hurt.

(Fingers of his free hand clawing at his neck, Schuldich's legs pressed hard against his back, breath burning in his throat and Balinese screaming bloody murder and somewhere to the back of his mind, something was saying in a voice like a child's, so this is what it feels like...)

And out of shape, fatally: where once upon a time five years and a lifetime ago there would have been - he didn't know, could no longer remember, knew there should have been something - instincts, training kicking in - and there was nothing. Just panic, sudden and overwhelming and oh God, oh God I'm going to die. Looked like he'd found normality after all.

Won't the other one be disappointed, murmured Balinese. Won't he be mad that you talked his friend into killing you? He'll have to find another detective. Barely got him a thing and you're dead on the floor for the cleaner to find. Brought you a coffee as well. Oh, won't he be mad.

Shouldn't you be doing something, Balinese?

Oh no. Not me. You got yourself into this one, Kudou. You find your way out.

Yeah--like this, hurts--

Fuck. FUCK!

Dropped the wire, so fast that Yohji fell forward, hit the ground with the sudden loss of what had been holding him up, bent backward like that. Took grim satisfaction in the pain it caused, the suddenness of Yohji's confusion or relief or whatever ridiculous surface emotion he felt was appropriate to feel. Schuldig was deeper, down in his memory, back to where Farf was sitting across the table from him, handing him files asking for his fucking help.

(Calling you useless, too. Lets take note of that. Since its true, huh?)

Schuldig forced a sigh out. Stepped around to the side of Yohji and crouched down, fixed the sunglasses that had been knocked loose on his head. "Should have mentioned that shit first, Kudo. You've made more work for me." Confusion there, definitely.

Didn't matter.

He moved, put one leg over Yohji's back (interesting thoughts there) and sat on his hips, leaned forward, elbows digging into Yohji's back, shoving him flat against the floor. Slipped his fingers into his hair, across his cheeks, so his thumbs were back there, right at the back of the head, top of the neck, where the memories were.

"Lay still and this shouldn't hurt," he said. (You could make it hurt--if you remember how. Not that good anymore though, stupid boy. Can't do both at once. Have to concentrate too hard.) Closed his eyes and leaned his head forward.

Inside his memories, pulsing there, no real order--memories were never in order. Messy tidbits here and there. But recent memory--that was usually pretty reliably located. One spot, central processing of memory.

Found it, no problem (yes, this mind here is so very hard to crack) and pulled it up, slowly to get all the little strings. All the associations. Nothing left, just the full warmth of the memory in his mental hand. Ripped it out then, it came away cleanly, not even a bit of damage to Yohji's mind.

(Better appreciate that, Farf; took away my fun.)

Pulled back, felt his nose itching. (Out of shape, boy. Way too out of shape.) Stood up and stepped away from Yohji, reached down, picked up the fallen cigarette that still had a bit left on it. Took another drag as he leaned against the desk and stared down at the limp body. Eyes closed, wire tangled around his own neck.

(Nice look for you, there, Kudo.)

Blew the smoke out and stabbed the cigarette to death in the ashtray. Slipped his fingers back into Yohji's mind, he forced the body to lift itself off the floor and put itself back into the chair. Chin leaning on his hand. Eyes open but staring blankly just an inch or two from him.

Yohji's mind was sleeping. (Time loss, they call it. Fun thing.) Schuldig lit a cigarette and put it back in its place in Yohji's hand.

Felt the blood in his nose and pushed away from the desk, grabbed the wire, and turned to walk out. Paused long enough to grab a handful of tissues from a short table in what was (jokingly) considered the outer office. Wiped the trickling blood off his nose, and went back out the door.

Back to the corner. Finished with the tissue and handed them and the wire to the first person to walk past him, short mental push there to make the person just accept the tissue and then he released Yohji's mind, felt it wake up, feel the absence of memory that it felt should have been there.

(Deja vu--Telepath's favorite play toy.)

Smirked to himself, but hid it well. Walked back to the office, exact same way. Right up to the desk before Yohji noticed him, plucked the cigarette out of his hand and took a drag. "So--" Blew the smoke out. "Give Kenken a welcome home fuck?"

-- and maybe he'd accidentally included some kind of subliminal message in that advert. Some kind of (what was the name of that movie Karin had dragged him to?) a Da Vinci Code deal. Take the second character of every third word and you got the phrase 'dead assassins a specialty'. How else could Youji account for the fact that half of Schwarz had walked into his office in the last week for - well, he was pretty sure it wasn't a business proposition this time. What could Schuldich possibly want with him?

Apart, it seemed, from his cigarette. God damn, and he'd only just lit that thing.

Quirking his brows slightly in a wordless statement of displeasure, Youji took the butt of a new cigarette between his teeth, tugged it free from the packet, lit it with an unnecessary flourish (would have to buy a new packet soon: could have sworn he'd had more than that left and certainly couldn't remember smoking--) Had the strangest feeling of repetition - stop: rewind, reset, take it from there: a do-over - like a phrase from a broken record, something he’d seen and done once before and how, when, why? Life had got stuck in a groove, somehow. He thought. Damndest thing.

Had the feeling this should have happened before. Perhaps he'd dreamt it - would have made sense, after Farfarello. Wouldn't it?

Ignored the question like Schuldich hadn't even spoken; good first impressions counted for a lot in this business (which business? was he sure this was a first impression?). The best thing he could do was attempt to appear unruffled. No easy task when he was feeling very ruffled indeed. God damn it, the least this guy could do was leave Ken out of this--

Jesus, his neck was fucking killing him.

"I'm going to presume you came here for a reason," he said finally. "I'm going to presume the cigarette had nothing to do with it. What do you want, Schuldich, and make it good."

Bowed his head slightly, rubbed his neck with his free hand. Yeah, that really did hurt quite a bit...

Schuldig bit back the smirk; didn't particularly care what words were coming out of Yohji's mouth, didn't even really care what he was thinking. There was a nice thin line across Yohji's neck, red--irritated. It would fade, but it was there now. He rubbed the hand without the cigarette against his pant leg (yes, lets not let Yohji see that line there, might give him strange ideas.)

"Your doubt wounds me." But he stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray (again) and stood up, sank both his hands in his pants pockets. (No, let him see, that left hand might even be bleeding a bit. Pull too hard?) "I came because of Omi but I'd rather have this conversation with food involved, any chance of lunch?"

Omi. The name made Youji frown, looking up quizzically at Schuldich. His hand stilled on the back of his neck. Omi and Schuldich, Schuldich and Omi. He had been wondering about that. There was, undoubtedly, a relationship, but what kind? Even a professional one would be... call it curious, given the history there. A closer one, more curious still. A curious avenue to explore, that, even only tentatively. What could Omi possibly see in--

No, Youji. Murderers were murderers were murderers. Maybe he simply didn't want to be picky.


"Omi?" he asked. Simple question. Couldn't quite keep the doubt out of his voice. Couldn't quite imagine why he should bother trying. Couldn't imagine why Schuldich thought he should trust him, or why he'd rather take Farfarello's word for it--as for lunch, well, Christ. Man had a goddamn nerve. Absently, he rubbed at his neck, felt a slight twinge in one elbow. The Hell--? Felt like he'd fallen, or something...

On the other hand, he couldn’t deny he was hungry. "Lunch." He sighed. "Well, It's not like I was doing anything important... so, okay. I promise I won't poison your food, if you'll refrain from poisoning mine."

"Trust would be asking too much," Schuldig said, smooth. Accepting and acknowledging the truth. Not even bothering to deny it. Downright fucking gracious--but, his mind was buzzing, so he was in a giving mood. "But our mutual interest in survival means we have to at least stand to be around each other." (Strange face you're showing today. Almost damn rational, there.) "There's some place close to here that has good food I think. Farf takes me there. No poisoned food. Can we go now, I'm hungry?"

The only trouble with that, Youji thought, was that there were plenty of places around his office that served decent meals without an overreliance on poison. He'd eaten at most of them in his time - always nice to get out the office for a while and one of the great things about being his own boss. Schuldich might as well have asked him to find 'that place with the food'. Marlowe would have been struggling. As for Kudou, he could have searched for days and been none the wiser.

Thankfully, Schuldich at least remembered where to go, even if he wasn't exactly up on where he was going.

Turned out he knew the place tolerably well. A little further than he usually liked to work and didn't boast anything particularly interesting in the way of waitresses, which explained why he didn't visit more often. Good food, though, and notably poison-free. Once again, he had to color himself surprised at the thought of the Schwarz in general and Farfarello in particular having anything as workaday as favorite restaurants and food preferences.

Turns out they're human after all. It was almost a disappointment.

(Couldn't quite stop himself thinking about what might have happened if he had run into Schuldich and his usual dinner date here on some other occasion. Most likely it would have been nothing much--)

With a table chosen, the food ordered, and an unpleasant foray into the smallest of small talk thankfully done with, Youji rested his forearms on the table, leaning forward slightly. Curious, even a little conspiratorial. Okay, I'm listening. Make it good.

"So." He said quietly. "What's all this about Omi?"

"All of it--" Some vague half smile there on his face, felt his hand on his neck, over those damn bite marks, brushing the fallen strands of his hair out of the way. "How about the PG version? Simply put, our relationship has progressed." (Should tell him details. How about laying on that floor in your living room and begging peaches to fuck you?) "Seeing how we don't have a very--positive--history, I felt it would at least polite to make myself available for you to..." Fade out here. Not quite sure what this kitten would do. Knew what Aya would do. (Try to stab you, probably. Fucking something he thought was his--not going to sit well with him. Even if he didn't want it.) "Say anything you needed to say."

Some woman walking past them, mind all bright with shock at the sight of Yohji's neck--not even as red as it had been fifteen minutes ago, but red enough and still irritated enough that she was about to stop, maybe ask him if needed ice. (Go away. Schuldig pushed her the opposite way and wiped that ridiculous idea out of her head.) No need to point it out if Yohji hadn't already seen it. He was doing so well in his obliviousness.

"Progressed." Youji raised his brows as he caught a glimpse of the marks on Schuldich's neck. A little gloomy in here, but they stood out clear enough. Well, shit. That was Omi's doing? All of it? God almighty, he'd never known that kid - not that he was really a kid any more; certainly wasn't a kid any more if this little story of Schuldich's was to be believed - had such an oral fix. "So that's what they're calling it these days."

Yeah, keep telling yourself you're not surprised, Kudou. Keep telling yourself this isn't fucking weird. Maybe you'll start to believe it, if you repeat yourself often enough; this wasn't the conversation he had expected to be having here. Hardly knew what he had been expecting. Not this. Never this. Not here, not now.

Say what you need. "I... uh, well , wow."

(Smooth, Kudou. Youji rested one palm on the curve of his neck again. God damn it: almost felt bruised.)

"What do you expect me to say?" He asked in something approaching surprise. "Go ahead and fuck Omi? Do you really need my approval for that? He's an adult. It's up to him what he does. I'm not his father." Now there was something he'd never dreamed he'd have cause to say - not to a Schwarz and certainly not to Schuldich. Wait, Schuldich? What the Hell was going on here? Why was he in a sushi bar with Schuldich discussing Omi's love life? Why was he having this insane conversation? "Uh, Why are you telling me this?"

Another intrepid young lady walked past, all focused on Yohji's somewhat scruffy good looks, until her eyes dropped down (away from his gorgeous hair and eyes) and saw that lovely band around his neck. Some twisted little thought about strangulation and sexplay, and her eyes slid over to look at him, one eyebrow crooked up in curiosity. (Go away.) She winked at him and turned herself back around to face her own conversation.

Yohji was talking; something presumably relevant. (Hard to focus is it? Watch that grin of yours. Telltale sign you've been playing.)

"Definitely not his father," Schuldig said. "But Omi cares about you. I," (Care?) "Know that relationships are significantly more healthy if the people surrounding them can get along. And here I am, offering whatever form of..." (Friendship?) "A relationship we could have."

(Yes, lets be friends now, I almost killed you the way you almost killed me.)

And then there was the grin, and that was - off-putting.

Unsettling, even. Something not quite right about it. Something very wrong about it, that post-canary cat expression and what the Hell'd he eaten? Made him wonder what Schuldich thought he was here for, what exactly he thought he was doing. Whatever it was the Schwarz was getting out of this, it would be more than a free lunch and a conversation, considerably more. The smile was - off. Wrong. A false note, or another one.

He's a telepath. (Balinese, quite calm now. Even smiling a little.) Remember that, Kudou? Made a little girl try and shoot her crush in the head. What do you think he's here for? The noodle bowls aren't that great.

"There's a 'we' in this now? What kind of relationship could we have?" Disbelieving. Doubtful. Schuldich grinning like he just got laid and something the matter with his neck and can you even believe in coincidence any more? Something's not right here. Nothing he could put his finger on, but it was a discord, subtle but painfully obvious. Something's--no, watch yourself. Schwarz here had been, once - probably was still - dangerous. Extremely. Tigers are trouble enough even if you don't pull their tails. "Why would you want one, anyway? For Omi's sake? Or is it something else?"

The last time you met him he was trying to kill you and now he wants to be friends?

(Your mind, Kudou, can't change all by itself. Remember that.)

Schuldig sighed. "Its just a smile, Kudo. Ask Farfarello if I even have another expression." He leaned forward, his right hand reaching out to get his water. (Keep that left one hidden, huh?) Took a drink of that while he mulled over this.


So many damn thoughts in Yohji's head, all running together in circles it was (killing the buzz) making his head hurt a little. He leaned forward, rubbed his forehead, then looked at Kudo. "Unfortunate as you find it to be, I cannot stop being a telepath. YOU, though, can learn to shield your thoughts." Leaned back in his seat when the food arrived. "Something I can teach you--but first I'm going to wash my hands." (No, really. The blood isn't that obvious.) "Omi doesn't taste as good hours later."

(Never could keep your mouth closed, stupid boy.)

What would you want to do a stupid thing like that for?

Thought it so plainly Youji couldn't believe he hadn't said it - not that it made any difference, under the circumstances. Schuldich would have heard, somehow - must have done. Whether or not he chose to do anything about it was rather up to him.

... what would you want to do that for? He could hardly say it wasn't welcome, to know he had some way of putting up barbed wire and 'Keep Out' signs after all, but what good could it ever do a telepath to teach an enemy (or near enough as; certainly someone who he had no reason to call a friend) how to keep him out? As a gesture of goodwill it seemed frankly disproportionate, so much so as to be suspicious. He'd seen too much to take this on trust. Couldn't believe in Schuldich's sincerity: he was rather too fond of living for that.

(... and another doubt reported in, and Youji ran his fingers across his neck, and wondered if he couldn't perhaps feel a slight mark there. Something raised and raw, as if something sharp had been drawn across the skin, just hard enough to hurt...)

Barely heard that remark about Omi. Caught the tone of it well enough, though; the leer in Schuldich's voice. Jesus, Asuka, how did you stand it? I'd have punched me. "Too much information, Schuldich," he said a little sourly, and turned to his food. Grateful to have something simple to think about for a little while.

"Is everything all right here, sir?"

Raised his head, met the eyes of the waitress. Cute little thing, he thought; bit too fresh-faced for his tastes, though. Bit too uncomplicated. The kind of girl he'd have been perfectly polite to and steered in the general direction of Ken, way back when. Funny, really; seemed like a simpler time. He almost laughed.

"Yeah," He said with a slightly rueful smile. "Yeah, it's fine..."

And frowned at the look that crept into her eyes. What the--

Schuldig scrubbed his palm until the blood was gone, wrapped it up and squeezed it until it stopped bleeding again and figured that was just about as good as it was going to get in the bathroom of a sushi bar. (Problem with time loss was when the telepath practicing it loses track of the physical evidence.) He'd have to come up with some kind of passing lie about it to tell Omi later.

Right now, he had to deal with Yohji and his spinning mind of idiot thoughts. (He thinks you're a threat, must feel nice. Haven't been a threat to anyone for years.) That, as lovely as it was, didn't make his thoughts any less idiotic. It also didn't make the damn females determined to offer their comfort to Yohji's hurt any less intolerable.

~Time for you to leave.~ Felt her mind stutter under the command, still caught in that concern it felt for the mark on Yohji's neck. ~Ask him about his drink and LEAVE.~ There, a good little puppet, she plastered her fake smile on her face.

"Good," she was saying when he stepped back up to the table. "Would you like a refill on your drink?" Then someone across the room dropped their plate on the floor. (That's subtle, didn't know you had it in you.) And she excused herself to deal with it.

Schuldig waited until Yohji had finished watching the girl walk off before he returned to their conversation. "If it were up to me solely, Yohji, I wouldn't offer. Teaching a nonpsi to shield is just about as fun as--" (Pouring salt on slugs?) "Filing your fingernails." He interrupted himself long enough to take another drink of water. "But since it is Estet coming after us, it would be prudent if you were capable of at least resisting them. Unless you really want to get mindfucked into servicing whatever psychotic bitch they send to kill you." A flattening of his smile at that thought. (Miss someone, boy?) "Its about mutual survival at this point."

Mutual survival. That, at least, was understandable. Youji smiled slightly and, just slightly, allowed himself to relax.

There. Call it enlightened self-interest. Couldn't bring himself believe in Schuldich's sincerity, but he could believe only too easily that the guy had a healthy interest in self-preservation. As supposedly altruistic gesture he would have wanted none of it but as long as this was benefiting Schuldich in some way, too - then he could get behind it.

Ever been told you're far too cynical, Kudou?

Hey: gotta be alive to be a cynic.

"I think I'll pass on the psychotic bitches," Youji said easily - and fuck you, Neu; you're all wrong and you know it. Recognized he had sounded just that one bit too casual; got something you want to get off your chest? An inner voice that smirked, fucking terrific. Didn't he just have all the luck. "Doesn't seem to me as if either of us have a lot of choice, then."

Schuldig felt that smirk back on his face. "You're smarter than I would have thought." Said it because it wouldn't hurt, it wasn't exactly a compliment but wasn't exactly an insult. Finished his food in the time it had taken Yohji to think up his answer and was now left sitting there with nothing to do but listen to the circling thoughts and wait for the mark to fade out more.

"Can I have one?" Pointed at the cigarettes and waited for Yohji to hand him one. Some half snide thought about how he better smoke it all if he was going to take it. Took the lighter and lit it, then sat back in the chair.

"Shields aren't exactly something that's easy for you to learn and we're not starting today. It can wait at least until you have your happy reunion." Blew smoke and looked down at the cigarette, didn't like them, hadn't ever liked them. Strange how it was in his hand now. "About Omi though--don't be an ass." (Like that other one.) "Aya's handled that angle just fine."

Which would bring them back to Omi. What other things could he and this man possibly have held in common? Omi Tsukiyono and their own imminent and probably inevitable doom: that seemed to be about the extent of the common ground right there.

Well... okay, so they could probably have discussed haircare.

"Yeah, Aya's good at that. Glad to see some things never change." Pushing his plate to one side - no more of that, please; never had been in the habit of eating much at lunchtime - he lit a cigarette for himself before tucking the slightly battered box back in the pocket of his suit. "It's up to Omi what he does with himself," Youji said with scrupulous unconcern and far more of it than he felt. "As you said, I'm definitely not his father. As long as he's happy and whole, I've got no problems what he does. It's only if he isn't that I'm likely to become an issue."

His tone was too light, his smile too brittle. He took another pull on the cigarette, watched Schuldich carefully through half-narrowed eyes. For a moment, there was nothing but an awkward silence and he wondered, what's he thinking?

(Wondered what it would be like to know the answer. What would it be like to be Schuldich? He had no idea.)

"I'm sure he'll appreciate that sentiment," Schuldig said. (Was that supposed to be reassuring?)

The cigarette was almost gone, the line across Yohji's throat wasn't nearly as reddened now. Still irritated, there was a sliver thin bit of broken skin on the left where he'd pulled it the tightest. An hour or so and it wouldn't be much more than a dotted line of chafed skin.

"I doubt you'd believe me if I said I had no intention of hurting Omi. Requires trust to believe that--but at least believe that Omi is fully capable of stopping anyone from hurting him." (Complimenting him again?)

Another short pause, and then he put out the last bit of the cigarette in the ashtray. "You can get my number from Omi and call--or just let him know when you've got time to learn how to shield." (Because he'll be coming over every night.) "I wouldn't plan on working for a day after at least."