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never too late

sonneillon_v in aegis_weiss

Friday, November 10th
Tokyo, Japan
A small apartment in Ginza
5:00 pm


Grin still on his face. (Caught, instantly caught.) The pot in his hands was still hot, modern marvel that. It still smelled as good (thought that maybe, when the high started to fade it wouldn't). Thought back to that idiot women with her babbling little "please...please...not my daughter..." Tears on her face while she cooked for him.

Stupid woman.

(But it felt good didn't it.) Yeah. Stupid grin on his face when he set the pot down and opened Farf's door. Walked inside, heard the shower, felt Farf's mind the same way he always did--almost silently. Carried the food to the kitchen.

(Should've called maybe, looks like there's food here already.) Called and said what? (I fucked Omi enough times that he's almost permanently stuck in my head and then I tried to kill your new helper boy and had to slice my own fucking hand open with broken glass to cover the evidence?) No. not that. Set the pot down and went out to the couch, flopped back into it with his arms over his head, jacket pulled tight across his chest and (that bruise) stomach until he pulled the buttons loose, lounging there until Farf emerged from the bathroom.

Farfarello had spent a full three hours in Malebolgia's dojo attempting to exhaust himself so thoroughly that the killing urge would drain away through the soles of his feet. It wasn't a full solution - there was no full solution except to hunt, kill, and revel in viscera - but it bought him time and room in his head.

It also took every last bit of vitality he had, which was intentional. By the time he dragged himself home to shower, he felt half-dead, but the blood lust was quiet. He sat on the floor and let the slightly cool water - he was too overheated for hot - clean the sweat from his skin and his hair. He dried off slowly, felt a presence in his apartment, and marked it as familiar. Schuldig. Stopping in his room to pull on a set of gray flannel pajama pants, rubbing his hip-length hair dry as he padded out of the bedroom, he sought out the intruding telepath.

The apartment smelled like heaven. Knowing he was going to be out all day, Farf had thrown a shepherd's pie together in his crock pot and left it to simmer all day. Now there was a new smell, and he lifted his head, nostrils flaring wolfishly. Schuldig had brought food. Something salty. Scent of soy, traditional Japanese something-or-other. That was intriguing... since when did Schuldig offer HIM food?

Schuldig had his eyes closed, mind drifting, floating along with the cadence of the thoughts of all the useless worms. Played that woman's mind on endless repeat, the frantic wideness of her eyes as she kept look at him over her shoulder, always checking. Checking. (Not my daughter. Me. Me but not my daughter.) Sure lady. Your daughter, you, your husband when he gets home. Anything you want lady-- Smirk.

Opened his eyes and Farf was standing there. Gray flannel, towel, wet hair. He tried to bite back the smirk, tried to concentrate on something useful to say but it was lost, floating away in those voices. (No, you dumbass, you came here for a reason.) "Any of the other kittens I should consider off limits?" he asked. Infuriating voice. (Great start idiot.) Lifted his hand out from under his hair so the bandage showed.

That made absolutely no sense to Farf for a long moment as he struggled to put a context to this completely out-of-the-blue statement. He failed, and fell back on courtesy. "Hello, Schuldig, it's been a while," he said flatly, a thread of irritation curling - soft warning - in his throat. "Would you like a glass of juice?" He made his way to the kitchen and turned off the crock pot so his food wouldn't continue to cook into oblivion. He opened himself a beer and held the refrigerator door, waiting.

(He's not Crawford you know--) Schuldig closed his eyes and sat up on the couch. Pressed his face against his hands (felt the scratch of that bandage against his skin) and dragged his palms up, through his hair, pulling his sunglasses off.

(Get it the fuck together.)

Got to his feet and padded across the room to the kitchen. Stood there for a moment, watched Farf open a beer.

"Yes," he said. "Its been a while. I brought you food. It's good. I didn't make it but..." Grin here again. (Caught, stupid boy. *Caught*) "She assured me it was always a hit with the family."

He didn't bother asking who had said that. "And what prompts this unprecedented occasion?" he wondered, getting out a can of mango juice and setting it on the table where it was in easy reach of Schu. He could open it himself. He caught a glimpse of the bandages on Schuldig's hand but neglected to comment or to waste time worrying about it. It was a long way from his heart and Farf was no longer his only triage option.

He pulled down a casserole dish and scooped the shepherd's pie into it, figuring that if Schuldig went to the trouble of getting someone to cook for him, he probably wanted something, or had done something that he was afraid would piss Farf off, and was hoping to mollify him with a gift. Not accepting the gift would get them off on the wrong foot immediately, and Schuldig was so moody and sensitive at the best of times that if Farf gave him half a reason he was fairly certain there would be a fight and he had absolutely no energy for that tonight. Technically, he didn't have the energy for this either, but what was the use of being a biopath if you couldn't ignore your body's warning signs, such as pain and more relevantly, fatigue?

(Wonder if he thinks you're useless right this second? Wonder that.) Schuldig stabbed the thought--like he'd stabbed the stupid bitch who's voice it was whispered in. Didn't want to sit at the table, didn't really want to drink the juice. Wanted it to be like it had been, back when Crawford was here, when he wasn't this stupid fuck up and Farf wasn't so sick of seeing him it was evident in the slope of his shoulders.

(Called you useless right to that kitten's face.) Shut up.

But it wasn't the same. (Can't go back.) He'd put himself in this stupid situation and now he had to fix it. (Stupid you.) Bit his lips until they hurt (and that didn't take a lot of work). Tried to figure out what exactly he was supposed to say first. (I fucked Omi. I let him fuck me. I almost killed your new detective friend.)

"Do you really think Crawford will come back? Are these--Weiss really our best shot?"

Well, that was... random. At least, for Far. But apparently, from the way he was hedging, it was weighing heavily on Schuldig's mind. He pulled out a chair and straddled it backward, wrapping the towel around his shoulders so his wet hair didn't stick to the scar tissue on his back. "I have no idea whether Crawford will come back," he said simply. "I hope he will. Him and Nagi returning intact is a best-case scenario, but you have heard the conventional wisdom of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, I assume." He twisted the cap off his beer and drank slowly. "I cannot afford to count on his return. Few things are certain, and I must plan based only on what is certain, not having his Gift of Sight. Our chances definitely improve if he returns." He set the beer down and folded his arms on the back of the chair. "As for Weiss, Talentless though they may be, they are extra sets of hands and eyes. They can see, they can speak, and they can kill. They are also not skeptics. And the extra numbers will help us, even if Eszet proves competent enough to render them useful only as decoys. The odds being stacked against us as they are, it behooves us to put whatever we can between us and Eszet. And Weiss will help watch Fujimiya Aya, whom they absolutely must not, under any circumstances, recapture."

(Basically, boy--You're fucked.) Schuldig sighed. Kept his distance back at the edge of the kitchen. Leaning his back against the door frame with his arms crossed over his chest. Caught somewhere between somber and high, he let his eyes stare almost blankly. (Tell him about how you've almost broken them already. What a great job, peaches.) Peaches.

Rubbed his hand across the slowly fading marks on his neck, and the new one, down near his shoulder. Brushed his hair away from his neck. "Hope?" But he let the word drown in its own silence. Looked over at Farfarello had absolutely no idea what to say to him.

(I fucked up. Somewhere I forgot you needed me too.)

Felt that stupid shit eating grin on his face, such a stupid smirk, spread across his face like that. "How long have you been wanting to strangle me? Don't lie, I'm a big boy. Tell me now, to my face. How long have a been a waste of your time?"

Anyone else would probably have given Schuldig a few reassuring lies, but Farfarello didn't speak lies, not even the reassuring variety. Especially not the reassuring variety.

"Possibly the past three years, but to a much greater degree over the past two weeks," he said without rancor. "You tend to insist on being self-involved at the worst possible times. But you've been so busy with Bombay recently that, while you already know my feelings on the matter, I've been mostly free to pursue more serious business on my own. I'm sure having Kudou working on the case as well will ease things up a little." That was a hint of an exaggeration. He expected Kudou to make Calcabrina's job easier, not his own. In Crawford's absence, he very much needed his Seer to work on two fronts.

"I won't say part of me isn't relieved that I'm not longer your sole source of human interaction, but that isn't because I dislike you. You require more attention than I presently have the time to give you, so it's good that you found someone to lavish it on you." That was said a little dryly, as it was the only good thing he saw about Omi's and Schuldig's relationship. And he had to dig deep for that one.

Three years. (Ouch?) No. Schuldig had been useless since he woke up on that damn beach and he realized he couldn't feel Crawford in his head anymore.

Alone. (Self involved.) Indeed. Always that.

Schuldig looked at him, said nothing, leaned his head back against the wall and kept his eyes there, on Farfarello. Focused through the fading high, through the storm of thoughts that were rushing back in. (You're hurt. Delicious, that. Lets go fuck the kitty some more and see if you can develop other useless fucking emotions.)

He opened his mouth, closed it. Pushed his hands down into his pants pockets.

(Tell him you're sorry.)

"Yeah," he said finally. "I know about Kudou. Next time you see him, do me a favor and *don't* ask about his neck." (Do *you* a favor?) "Or--don't..." (Stupid boy.)

"His neck," Farfarello repeated. "I take it there was an altercation and you erased it from his memory?" He bit back irritation. It was bad enough that Schuldig wasn't currently contributing to a cause that was just... oh, you know... SAVING THE WORLD as well as their own lives (if his own life was such a concern to him) but to have him interfere was simply... well. It was intolerable and Farfarello was not going to put up with it. His eye narrowed. "If so, I hope that incident will not repeat itself. Kudou is useful, and I cannot afford to have his usefulness hindered because he is too busy fending off your amusements. The same goes for Abyssinian, for the record. It is impossible for me to keep up with the situation as it is," he said, letting a hint of anger enter his voice. He expected Schuldig to treat Weiss like shit. Hell, at this point, he even expected Schuldig to run rough-trod over his own feelings... he'd been doing it for nearly five years now, and Farfarello was only now starting to become immune to the constant jabs of emotional pain as Schuldig insisted on reminding him again and again that his desires were worthless in the face of the telepath's whims. But that was life. He was over it, or in the process of getting over it, without saying a word or firing a shot. Some things just didn't work out. But this... Schuldig wasn't playing with his heart anymore, he was playing with his LIFE. This had gone too far.

Someone had to bring him to heel... hard.

(Say you're sorry.) No. Wasn't sorry. Schuldig was never sorry. (Named for guilt but never to blame?) Wasn't sorry because when this was over he was still going to kill Kudou. Maybe, didn't know--depended on the weather maybe. Wasn't sorry for that.

(But sorry for?)

How did things used to be? (Can you remember?) Remember being friends with this man, remember what it felt like to be equal? (Can you?) Remember what it was like to be willing to give anything for him? Like a golf club to the face? (Yeah, remember that.) Remembered that back then Crawford had been there, and Crawford--(wouldn't have kept your ass around after you stopped serving a purpose. Stop thinking about him; he's a pigfucking American bastard.)

STOP. Schuldig dug at the emotions, because they weren't his; he hated these stupid emotions. Remorse and guilt and pain. Hated them, had buried them or killed them so many years ago he couldn't have felt them if not for--(your adorable Omi?)--the surge of other thoughts in his head. Didn't want to feel them now, even now, in the face of the truth that maybe he had destroyed this friendship by being stupid and selfish, and maybe there was no way to fix it now.

(Don't want to let go--but why?) Looked at Farf, felt like maybe there were tears right at the edge of his vision. (Not his, he didn't cry, not now, not ever. Omi's stupid fucking tears to match his stupid fucking emotions.) Couldn't quite figure out what he was supposed to say, what he was supposed to feel, what the hell he had let go of somewhere along the line.

I lost you, Farf.

"Fuck," he breathed finally. Dirty curse in the air just in front of him. Felt his hands in fists. Hated it, hated everything about it, couldn't contain it and couldn't deal with it and couldn't do this--again. Here, knowing now, knowing he was useless and killing this friendship. (Just friendship, always sort of thought it might be more than that--eventually. If Farf ever pushed.) No, not that now. Omi now--happy about that?

(I'llstayeverynightifyouwant.) Yeah. *Happy*.

Got back to the anger, had to get back to that, the anger was his--the only part he always knew was his.

"Yeah," he said finally. "Altercation--tried to strangle him, but he thought of you and I let him go. Feel glad that he's mildly resistant to get mindfucked. *He* might actually be useful against Eszet."

(That wasn't angry. That wasn't even close. Tired. Hurt. Pathetic like your pretty little peaches.)

Farfarello was angry, but Schuldig's bald-faced admission soothed him a little. Nothing irritated Farfarello more than being lied to, and Schuldig was often so loathe to take responsibility for anything that he dissembled whenever possible. At least, recently. He remembered the days when they'd all affectionately referred to Schu as the devil, so evil and so unrepentant about it, gleefully fucking over whatever innocence he could sully. Back when they were Schwarz and they were a family.

"Schuldig," he said quietly, golden eye hawk-like, pupil contracted to an angry pinprick. "This isn't a game anymore. You knew we were allying with the kittens. What did you think I meant by 'ally'? If we fuck our allies over, we have exactly shit and Eszet will kill us. They will kill YOU. Do you understand that? They will take you, they will rape you in every possible way, they will make you suffer as long as they can for what we did to them, and then they will kill you and it will be over. No more chances. No one will care about your excuses in hell and when you're caught in a tornado for the rest of eternity being battered on all sides and unable to hear yourself scream, you'll have plenty of time to wish you'd taken this more seriously. And believe me, God will NOT be merciful. As for me, I won't be there. I realize you've lost the ability to give a flying fuck about me, but at that point, I'll be too busy being buried in sand with fire raining on my head to come bail you out."

(Raped in every possible way--hmm, sounds familiar that.) Shut the fuck up, bitch. (Happy little memories? Love those memories. Should revisit them.)

Shut up. (Kill you. That would be kind wouldn't it? No, tell him--they wouldn't kill you. You can't scream when you're dead.) Caught on that last thing--looking over at Farf. (Lost the ability to give a flying fuck?) Felt the whole storm of Omi's emotions swell up, fighting for prominence, fighting for control and... but it was too late and he'd gotten back down to himself.

(~whatdidIdo? I thought my mommy loved me!~)

High there still. Not stupid, not dangerous, but *high.* Him. Loved to fuck them over. Drew breath in over his clenched teeth, pushed himself away from the wall and pulled his hands out from inside his pockets. "That's a nasty assumption," he retorted. (Think he's really going to care about how you feel about him? Honestly? Think it matters right now?) Yes. Mattered more, mattered to him, it had to matter to Farfarello.

Eszet could rape him and kill him and he could go to hell--fine. Been there, done that, bought the fucking T-shirt.

(Gonna get honest with him, like you did with your precious peaches?) Fuck Omi. (Did. Three times.)

"You--" (Are the only thing I care about anymore? Everyone else can die?) "Fuck everything else. The kittens and Eszet and Crawford and everything--you are the only thing." (How sweet.) "Maybe I was just waiting for you." (Maybe I lost my chance.)

"Actions speak louder than words," Farfarello told him mostly calmly. "It's a nice speech, but I've never been anywhere but here, so where have YOU been? If everything else really can go fuck itself, then why is it your priorities always are, and always have been, your whims and your whims only? I'm not going to insist that I should be the most important thing to you. I've come to the conclusion that to expect that from anyone is ridiculous. But it would have been nice if at some point in recent history you might have expressed a shred of interest in how I might like to be treated. A real friendship consists of two people with mutual concern making an attempt, however half-assed, to meet in the middle somewhere. It doesn't consist of me putting up with your thoughtlessness over and over while blindly holding onto the hope that someday you'll grow some maturity and realize that I have always been here. And at that point you might be grateful enough to wonder what in the ABYSS might motivate me to suffer that, and at THAT point, you might have an epiphany. But I am not Ghandi, my patience is not infinite, and my ability to love isn't precisely pure. Nor am I stupid. Eventually, I realized that you would never notice because you are too self involved. What's more, I have always known you were self-involved. So all of this is my own fault, and since I try not to be self-destructive... I've given up. I don't expect you to care about me, but this goes far beyond that. When you do stupid shit like this, Schu, you act like you don't even care about yourself. Either that or you've truly lost the ability to think coherently or make any plans whatsoever, because if you HAD that ability, you would have realized that regardless of your petty vendetta, fucking with Kudou is a BAD IDEA. What happens when Tsukiyono finds out? What happens when nobody is left who cares about you?"

Felt that grin on his face. Always that. Always. (Didn't Hyde try to cut that smirk off your face once?) No pain, not even a little bit. Got rid of that when he'd shoved Omi's emotions out.

"Who cares about Omi? If Omi finds out then good for him, one less simpering little idiot I have to pretend to care about. He's useless in this, too easy to break."

(But you--Farf.) Shift of gears, darkening of that grin. (Push your luck one more time, do it and maybe Eszet won't even have to kill you.) "You're so observant, Farfarello. You're so knowledgeable, you've got this zen fucking shit mastered, don't you?" Shake of his head. "Maybe you never had a fucking idea of what I am." (Couldn't, wasn't there, knew what Crawford made you to be and he liked that. Where's Crawford now? Maybe a nice hard fuck would set you straight again.) "Maybe I've been pushing you, maybe I've been ignoring you--maybe I've been doing it on purpose. Maybe I've been waiting to see when you'd get sick of it and you just keep giving in, just keeping showing patience." Random wave of his hand, roll of his eyes. "Maybe I don't want your patience. Don't need it. I'm not your child. If you wanted this to be equal maybe you should have--" (Fucked you? Always weak against that. How Crawford got you. How Hyde got you. How little Omi Tsukiyono could get you.) "Pushed back."

"That's a brilliant plan," Farfarello told him flatly. "Piss me off until I hate you too, and then you'll be alone. Pure genius, I can see you put a lot of thought into it. Push? You want me to push you? Here's an idea... NO. I am not going to be the latest in a long string of abusers you can't help folding to. If you give a shit about me, you'll do it because you WANT to, not because I guilt trip you into it, not because I shove you around, not because I finally hurt you like you think you deserve to be hurt. You're right, you're not my child. I am not your mother. What you do is your own business and I can't force you to take better care of yourself - that is not my responsibility. It has never been my responsibility. It is YOURS. And if you want to remain childish forever, if you want to keep digging yourself deeper and deeper into this pit you say you're happy in where nothing is worth anything and there's no truth but the truth you tell yourself, that's your choice and I can't say shit about it. I try to warn you about these things because I don't like it when you get hurt. I try to tell you certain things may not be in your best interests. But it's your choice. It's always been your choice. And the consequences have always been your consequences. Crawford didn't hurt you by leaving, Schu, you did that to yourself. I'm not hurting you now by dismissing you. You did this to yourself. I've only ever wanted the best for you. I hate watching you in these self-destructive patterns because somewhere, someday, I'd like you to be HAPPY. But as much as I'd like to shake some sense into you, I won't, and I never will. It wouldn't do any good. You have to wake up one morning and say "this is a bloody farce. I want to be an adult now." But nobody else can do it for you."

(Not your mother--someone was though. She didn't like you very much.)

Hated him. (Hated Crawford too.) Wanted to hurt him. Wanted to scream at him. Wanted to--wanted to--wanted to tell him that he hated this thing. Hated what he was. Hated this place he'd gotten to. Hated Omi. Hated the bruises on his neck and his stomach and hated the feeling that it wasn't real unless it almost hurt. (STOP. STOP RIGHT FUCKING NOW.)

"Farf--" Closed his eyes, because if he could see him he'd never say it. "I know what I am. I know what I've become. I know I'm useless to you right now." Opened his eyes, looked at Farfarello. Saw him in all the memories he ever had of him. "I know all the things I've said. I know all the things I've done." (Disappointing.) "I know you won't believe it...I do love you." (Manipulator, playing your game?) No; if Farf knew him, he'd know it was the truth.

He grimaced at it, because it sounded false to him. Always did. Hated hearing it. (I'llstayeverynightifyouwant.) "I can't be what you want right now. I'm..." (Say it if you're being honest.) "Broken." Was looking at him when he said it. "You're right, you can fix it. But I can." (Have patience with me. Just a little longer. Just a little longer and maybe we--maybe--)

"Kudou's safe. Aya too. If they're important to this, to saving us--then I'll get them ready to face Eszet. And I'll be ready."

On one hand, words meant very little. On the other, Schuldig apologizing was an event that never happened. Ever. He didn't apologize and he didn't regret. He just DID, and he laughed, and he moved on. And this show of repentance was completely unprecedented in the history of Farf knowing him.

"I've always loved you," he said simply. "And I know you're broken. We all are, in our way. For what it's worth, I forgive you. If you feel it's time to make a change, good luck to you... I know a bookstore where you can buy lots of good advice in whatever language you favor," he said with a thread of humor. "There's a girl there who can find you anything you need. In the meantime, please try to work with me on this. Once upon a time you were a Rosen-trained operative and your capability went beyond a Pathogenic Talent. Try to find that in yourself again because I need you."

"You'd be surprised how little they taught me in that place besides mindfucking," he said. Half to himself, half to Farf. (You want to touch him. Odd that. Spent all your life hating to be touched. HATING it. Now you want to touch him.)

Yeah. A hug. Handshake. Something. Wondered if it showed on his face. Moved closer, going to the table, taking his seat. Leaning forward, closer to Farf. (Oh, he can see it.)

"Give me a week. Before I do anything else I've got to get my talent back under control." And get the kitten back out of my head. (Yeah. Peaches. What are you going to do about him.) Felt the nasty look on his face. "And do something about Omi."

Farf nodded slightly, corners of his mouth curving up. It remained to be seen whether Schu would actually DO it, but pledging to do it was a start. "I know a thing or two about rebuilding yourself," he told Schu gently. "And when you're ready, I have a lot for you to do. But you have your week. Tie up your loose ends." He didn't want to hope too much because that was setting himself up, but he needed to believe in Schu's ability to do this or Schu wouldn't be able to believe it himself. "And try not to crush the kitten too much. I still need his connections and fuck only knows with a little hard training he could be useful too. Weiss always amazes me with how much skill they possess and how little discipline. It's really no wonder Fujimiya's the most stable of the bunch."

"Mamoru would be useful," Schuldig said. "Omi Tsukiyono is a whiny brat with serious hero-worship issues that desperately needs someone to lavish him with attention." Rolled his eyes. "You think Aya's worthwhile, look at him through that kid's eyes and he's a fucking God."

(Missing the point again?)

"He's sleeping in my bed--every night." (I'llstayevernightifyouwant.) A sigh, mental note to stop complaining because he had done this to himself. "But I'll--find something, do something." Felt his eyebrows draw down, some look of concentration or distaste on his face, wasn't sure which. Looked at Farf again (still want that hug, don't you) and then over at the food. "You're going to eat that, aren't you? I made sure she washed the knife off after she stabbed the kid. It should be pretty good."

He grinned. "I had a feeling you didn't make it yourself. Yes, I'll eat it. You should stay and share, since you spent so long slaving over a hot psyche." And because he had a feeling that when it came down to it, Tsukiyono didn't do the greatest of jobs taking care of Schuldig. Honestly, when Schu wasn't at his apartment every evening, Farf wondered when he ate. He shook his head at the comment that Omi was sleeping in Schuldig's bed every night, but refrained from saying anything about it. Instead, he got up from his chair and brushed a hand over Schu's hair gently on his way past to get bowls out of the cupboard.

Touch. There, moved, caught Farfarello by the wrist and then was against him, arm around him, (knocked the towel off,) other hand sliding up from its grip on Farf's wrist, wrapped that arm around him too; tipped his face in so it was against Farf's neck and held him.

(Why touch him? Why *him*?) Because Farf believed, or had, maybe still did--believed in him enough to forgive him. Didn't say anything because he didn't have anything to say. Just wanted to leave it be for the moment, to lean against him, feel the damp press of Farf's hair, the warmth of his skin--smooth. Quiet hum of his mind.

(Its called comfort, dumbass. You'd be surprised how many people know that.)

Farf paused a moment, not remembering the last time Schuldig had hugged him just to hug him. Whenever it had been, it had probably involved a straight jacket and Farfarello had probably been sobbing while repeating some nonsense sentence fragment that had something to do with a coherent thought he'd tried to capture but missed. Ages. A lifetime. He turned his nose into Schu's hair and wrapped an arm around his waist, flat of his hand pressing into the curve of his lower back. "It's all right," he said gently, rubbing slowly, feeling Schuldig like a man who had ventured thoughtlessly from his own island into the endless ocean, found it dangerous, treacherous and without solid ground, and retreated to the safety of his home to kiss the sand. Sometimes you don't know what you have until it's not there anymore. A stark contrast. Omi never could or would suffer through what they had suffered through together. Omi never could or would be family to Schuldig while allowing him to be himself. Not the kitten's fault. No one else could understand. Farfarello had accepted a long time ago that he probably would never be able to love someone who hadn't been through their experiences, or something nearly identical, because so much of him was based on that life he would never be able to explain it to someone who hadn't lived it.

Schuldig tightened his arms around him (feeling a bit vulnerable there?) and knocked against the bruise, drew in a hiss of breath but didn't let go right away. Not until it hurt enough that his lowered tolerance was objecting.

(How are you going to build that back up? Call more kittens whores? Get hit more?)

Backed up enough to slip a hand around and rub the bruise lightly. Looked at Farf in the closeness of the space between them. Leaned and kissed him, nothing like Omi's kisses, something different, something more sincere, near the side of his mouth. An action to express--never did have the words for it.

Felt almost drown in the moment. (Stay still for more than five seconds, will you?)

So he did. Stayed still, loosened hug, Farfarello's hands still petting his back, and his eyes watching Farf's face.

Farf tilted his head and rested his forehead against Schu's, smiling slightly. "I already told you, I forgive you," he said softly. "Unlike some people, I mean that when I say it." He brushed his thumb against the bruise on Schuldig's face and sighed softly. "Why you only fall for people who hurt you... And then I can't kill him for it. You're a pain in the ass, you know." He was teasing, though, and brushed Schu's hair back from his face.

Schuldig smiled, almost a smirk but then all his smiles were almost smirks. "I know." One last second in that hug and then he retreated a little. "I didn't fall for him, just indulged a little--immaturity." Ran his fingers over the marks again; felt the smirk falter. "Couldn't fall for him--he doesn't know."

(Too many thoughts down that road. Lets not go there.)

"Think the food needs to be reheated?"

Farf shook his head and let Schu go when he pulled away. Best not to push his ability to express himself. "It's Japanese," he said significantly. "I doubt it, but if you'd prefer it hot, I'll throw it in the microwave for a couple of minutes." He hiked a brow to encourage Schuldig to voice his opinion on this, but figured he already knew what Schuldig's opinion would be, so he picked up the pot and carried it to the microwave in the meantime. Soy sauce tasted just fine reheated, and it was barely cool, so it wouldn't take long. He set it inside, set the microwave for a couple minutes, and got Schuldig another can of juice.

Schuldig sat back down in the kitchen chair, accepted the juice when it was handed to him and opened it. Took a drink but didn't really taste it. Set it on the table and pulled the bandage off his hand.

Raw look to it, white edges of the split flesh, blood dried on the hand around it. Hadn't had anything but the bandage to put on it the night before. (Could get infected, never know where that wire's been.) Didn't look too irritated. Flexed his hand, watched the wound close and pull open again. Didn't look very good. (Cut too deep with that glass, did you?) Schuldig got up and threw the dirty bandage away in the trash. Stood in front of the sink while the food heated up. "Most of what I have to practice won't be too damaging, but some of my--" (Victims?) "Play-toys will have to be disposed of."

"You need to learn to clean up your own messes," Farf counseled him. "I recommend making it look like a brain aneurysm or a stroke. Possibly a heart attack. If worse comes to worse, prick them in the inner thigh and inject air from an empty needle into the femoral artery. There's a good chance if you do it right the coroner won't find it. But corpse disposal is very important," he told Schu, "and if you're not planning to pay off the Yakuza to protect your play, you should make certain you don't leave physical evidence." He reached out and tugged a strand of flame-colored hair to make his point.

"That," Schuldig said, referring to the physical evidence, "They *did* teach me in Rosenkreuz." Reached over and pinched Farf on the side for pulling his hair. "What have I told you about the hair?" All sly grin. A short chuckle and then the microwave beeped.

He got the bowls out of the cupboard while Farf got the food. Set them on the table and settled back into his seat again. Flexed his hand when the cut started to hurt again and looked at it to make sure it wasn't bleeding. (Because it was rude to bleed on someone's table.) "Do you have a bandage? Forgot to pick up more of them."

(No you didn't. Because you know Omi will bring some over.)

"I think there's a good chance that I have some bandages," Farf said somewhat dryly, smiling wryly because he went through a LOT of first aid supplies in a month. It was just a condition of being him. He dished out food to himself and Schuldig, then went to the bathroom and got antiseptic, bandages, athletic tape, and medicinal gel and returned, making a distinctly motherly sound with his tongue as he knelt next to Schuldig's chair and appropriated his hand. "This is from the altercation, I suppose," he said, shaking his head in chagrin. "Doesn't look like Kudou's wire." He quickly cleaned the wound and put the gel on so it would heal faster, then wrapped it cleanly and taped the bandage securely in place.

"It did," Schuldig said. Curled his hand up into a fist to test the fastness of the bandage--out of habit, not out of any doubt. Of all the people that had ever bandaged a wound of his--Farf would the one he'd pick. Lots of experience.

"Number one rule of time-loss is to limit the amount of physical evidence that could be used to reconstruct the missing memories. There's a line around Yohji's neck--still--and there's the fact that I was in his office seconds after it started to hurt." Half a sigh. "That and Omi knows what a wire wound looks like. I went back over it with broken glass." Shrug. "He bought it. Yohji won't."

Farf shook his head at that. "Broken glass. You can't fight infection like I can, Schu. You want to lose your hand?" He patted the back of it, as the bandaging job was done, and stood to go eat some of his peace offering. "Not only is gangrene not much fun, it smells." He picked up his chopsticks and dug in, refraining from commenting on how good the food was because the chef had been removed from the world.

"The glass was clean. It was the best option and the least suspicious. I could have slit my palm with a knife and told him that I filled you in on the details of our sex life." Took a bite of the food. (Pretty good actually. Guess stabbing her only child didn't distract her much.) Grinned around the mouthful, not at the fact that he had sex with Omi, but at the thought of what Omi would say
in response.

Farf shrugged. "I suppose if I was in his position, that might upset me, but in all honesty, what's there to tell? He's good or he's bad. If he's bad, well, I doubt he's that experienced, and according to the statistics bureau, so are something like 75% of all men. If he's good... good for him, he won't have trouble finding a replacement for you. One a little easier to manage."

He took another bite, swallowed it, then gestured at Schuldig with his chopsticks. "Of course, I have no desire whatsoever to have either of those options confirmed," he said warily. "The idea of Tsukiyono having sex is disgusting enough without adding a potent visual to the mix. And the prospect of him spawning is horrifying to contemplate. Maybe we could poison him to make him sterile," he said contemplatively, resting his chin on his hand to ponder that option.

Schuldig laughed. Stupid grin on his face that hadn't been there in years. "Think I'm that easy to replace?" Shook his head at it, grinning still. "I think we need to have a *talk* sometime and clear up this misconception. *He* would be easy to replace--*I* would not." Another hiccup of a chuckle. "There are perks to putting up with me, you know."

(Want to share those perks with him?) He wouldn't take them now. (But do you want to share them?)

"And while poisoning him would be fun--I think its mostly unnecessary. The only woman he ever liked was his cousin and you killed her." Schuldig faked a thoughtful face. "Unless somehow he can get pregnant somehow--in which case, I will be naming my child after you."

"I never have to pay for anything again?" Farf said dryly, recalling all the times Schuldig had mind-fucked people into thinking they had paid for things when they hadn't. As useful as Chimerstry, that.

He grimaced. "That was an accident," he said for perhaps the millionth time. Not that he minded having killed her, but it DID stand as one of the more major mistakes he'd made in his career with Schwarz. Of course, he hadn't been TRYING to kill her. She got between the bullet and Omi. Somehow. All right, so his aim with a gun was spectacularly shitty. "I killed Tot too, but Nagi forgave me," he pointed out. "I'm sure Tsukiyono will get over that in time and find another intolerably bossy woman to make him feel defiled." He took a drink of his beer. "Name the boy Malacoda," he said dryly. "The world's too small for two of me."

Schuldig nodded. "Yes, never having to pay for anything again--that's exactly what I was talking about." Another bite of the food. "Omi's neurosis is being a slut not being defiled." Another bite. "Although, if he ended up pregnant I'm sure he'd develop a whole new neurosis and we might have to end up kill him and telling the kid his mother died tragically saving kittens from a burning building."

"I know other sluts," Farfarello pointed out. "None of them annoy me as much as Tsukiyono does and I barely speak to the man. Possibly because they're sluts of the body, not sluts of the heart." He shrugged and settled back in his chair. "In any case, I'd really rather there weren't any more Takatoris to carry on whatever twisted legacy seems to run in that family's genes. Devil take him if Tsukiyono ever realizes his grandfather's still alive."

"No more Takatori's." Finished what he had in his bowl. Got more from the pan, blessed his somewhat random luck at finding a good cook. Bumped his stomach on the table again and grimaced at it. "Dammit," he said as he sat back down and rubbed it again. "Got a miracle cure for bruises?"

"Yes, but I don't have the herbs for that with me right this minute," Farfarello told him with apologetic humor. "You should take it a little easier, Schu. If you're not careful you'll sprain an abdominal and then you'll really make the rest of us miserable with your bitching." Again, he was teasing, and also trying to end the sentence in a way that made it NOT sound like an invitation for Schu to discourse on his sex life.

Schuldig shrugged. "Doesn't matter, the herbs, that is. It'll heal." (Because if Eszet is coming, they'll bring their fun torture with them, and this bruise won't even compare.) Finished off the last of his food. Sat back in his seat. "A week." (Was there something else to say?) "Then what? I assume you have something that I could do to help you save our asses."

"I thought you might need to get back in shape first," Farf observed. "And while we're working on that, and shoring up some of your weak spots, we can also work on getting Weiss as prepared as possible for the coming storm. If they fold at the first sign of mind-tampering, they won't be very useful to us."

"Kudou will be fine. Might even get to high level shielding--veils. Omi--" (Too close to that mind, aren't you. Hard to tell if he's weak against it or if you're in too deep.) "--Will require work. Aya--" Smirk there, breathless little exhale of humor and anticipation. "Aya won't let me near his head, but he's wide open." Stood up now. "And the other one--Kenken. Don't know about him. Haven't gotten close." Stretch. Tired now. (Go home and get your kitten to rub your back.)

Farf nodded. "As I said, take the time you need. The crisis is not immediate, though it is looming. You're the best person to train them to shield. I have no shields to speak of and I only know the technical speech in regards to it. And I'll want you to spend some time improving in other areas. It's going to be very hard work."

"I'll try to limit or save my whining and bitching for Omi and spare your ears." Took Farf by the hand and tugged on him, to get him to stand up, so he could hug him again. (Quite needy are we? You *are* in too deep.) No. This was different. Moaning Omi's name was needy.

This was a momentary goodbye--it had been a long damn time since he'd gone a week without seeing Farf.

Farf squeezed him until all the breath was nearly gone from his lungs. "I won't mind the bitching as long as you do the work. I don't want to lose you any more than you want to die. I'll see you in a little while then," he ascertained, not willing to put a time limit on how long Schu had to get his life straightened out. After all, sometimes unexpected resistance cropped up.

Schuldig hugged him back. Tight, lingering. (Remember what it was like to be this man's equal.) Yes, and it was time to get back to that. "I expect dinner." A smile there, one last squeeze and he let go.

"Call first and I'll have it for you," Farf promised, fingertips brushing Schuldig's cheek as the telepath pulled away. "Good luck," he said solemnly.

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