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December 2006

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never too late

sonneillon_v in aegis_weiss

Tokyo, Japan
Farfarello's Apartment, Ginza
Approximately 3:00pm

Spare time was a precious commodity and Farfarello preferred not to waste any of his. Despite having access to a perfectly good private gym, it wasn't a full work-out he wanted, just a little practice to sharpen him up. And the hardwood floor of his apartment was nearly appropriate anyway once he pushed the couch and the rug it was on up flush against the TV.

Ritual was important. Ritual helped maintain the proper mindset for a given activity, helped him school his chaotic thoughts into the proper channels, helped him forget outside distractions and focus fully. He picked out a set of three good CDs and set them to play consecutively, changed into his sturdy white judo gi, stiff black belt knotted securely around his waist, and went through warm-up before launching into sets of pre-defined katas. He'd met a woman once, a capoerista, who had insisted to him that all of life was set to music and every fight had its own rhythm and beat. The trick was to merge with the rhythm yourself while knocking your opponent off of it - then your moves would be flawless and harmonious and his would be choppy and always a half-step too late. She'd taught him a few extremely useful tricks, enough to interest him seriously in pursuing the art later, though it was difficult to find instructors in Japan as Capoera was a South-American art and somewhat rare. They were flexible people, like him, who made full use of all axises and came at their opponents from previously unused directions, like him. For now, however, the melding of Jujitsu and Muay Thai would be sufficient to do gross amounts of damage and permanently cripple, if not kill, anyone he fought bare-handed. There was more to katas than going through the motions. Your opponents had to be real in your mind, and your sense of your surroundings had to be perfect. The lesson taught by such discipline, one so oft repeated and so rarely learned, was simple: Be here, now.

Clean clothes, ones that fit a bit better than his most recent outfits had. Jacket actually fitting around his ribs rather than being too loose (should start eating right again, maybe. More than once every couple of days?) Hair brushed now, bandanna holding it back, to keep the hair out of his eyes. Felt something like he had before.

Yes, give yourself a gold star, you finally did something worth mentioning.

Subtlety. Out of practice with it, maybe, but still had the ability. (Yes, when you bother to control yourself.) First Omi (and Mamoru, did quite a job with him, too bad he's much better as background noise...had so much potential there) and then the laundry girl. (She wasn't quite as interesting, but she did an excellent job.) Yes.

Nice bit of egotism there--felt good to have a reason to feel it again--but standing in front of Farfarello's apartment...that brought up the question as to why he was here. Since the day before he had hugged him good bye and told him he'd see him in a week. (Finished ahead of schedule?) Not quite, still more to do. Had to exercise the rest of his dormant abilities, build back up the tolerance to them. Nothing that he couldn't do while he was talking to Farfarello, and now that peaches' precious mind was out of his head--didn't see a reason to separate himself from someone that didn't particularly care if he mind-fucked total strangers and happened to like it.

(Forgot to tell Omi about that, maybe?) Saved it up--for a rainy day, maybe.

Opened Farf's door and stepped inside--music. Furniture moved. Schuldig slipped his shoes off and stood there, watching him. Hair a bit messy, skin a bit wet, very fluid movements. He stayed silent, leaned against the wall, slipped his hands into his pants pockets and enjoyed the nice little show until his presence was noticed--or acknowledged.

Farfarello did not acknowledge him until the song was over (he had a wide-ranging taste in music, from pop to classical, and the only thing he absolutely despised was American Country) at which point he shook himself off, opened his eye, went to the CD player, and pressed pause. "That was a fast week," he told Schuldig easily, smirking slightly at him as he crossed his arms over his chest. Strands of frost-white hair had escaped his ponytail and he was sweating slightly, gi pulled open by his movements and exposing the more rapid than usual rise and fall of his chest. He didn't bother to make assumptions, waiting for Schuldig to reveal whether or not his attempts had been successful.

Schuldig smiled back at that smirk, and the words, and the way they were said. "Amazing what removing a dozen lifetime's worth of kitten thoughts will do for a person." Idly noticed Farf's rapid breaths and wondered briefly how long he'd been at this. "That and apparently disuse has not hindered my ability to manipulate kittens into doing what I want them to. Omi has been successfully relocated out of my apartment." Pulled his hand out of his pocket and waved it randomly in the air. "The rest I can do easily enough and still have time to visit."

His eye narrowed and he moved closer, appraising Schuldig quietly before the corner of his mouth quirked up. "You look more like yourself," he said with satisfaction. "But if I'd known you were coming, I wouldn't have been in the middle of this," he said apologetically, indicating his own lack of preparedness. "I'm afraid I'd have to take a shower before being in any kind of presentable state."

Presentable state? Schuldig looked at Farf. Hair falling loose, sweaty, gi falling open, breath even now--didn't look so bad, really. Had no objection to the current state of his dress. (Yes that's you, the very soul of not picky.) "My fault for arriving unannounced and interrupting you," he said after the pause (and yes, Farf noticed you looking him over.) "By all means take a shower if you think you need to. I can amuse myself."

Farfarello was observant, if he was anything. He noticed, but chose not to comment. Though he personally was not offended by the scent, taste, or sight of sweat, there were those who were (unrealistic people, in his opinion, who couldn't deal with the facts of processes of life) and these days he did try to be courteous when possible. It tended to save him a lot of trouble later.

He turned the CD player off and tugged the elastic band from his hair, letting it fall loose so he could run a hand through it, releasing the accumulated heat of nearly two hours of exercise. He moved to the couch, which slid easily with the rug under it, and dragged it back to its original position on the floor. "Make yourself at home," he said dryly, as if Schuldig ever needed an invitation. "I won't take long."

Schuldig nodded. Pulled the buttons on his jacket loose and shrugged it off his shoulders, laid it over the back of the couch and sat down. Liked this couch--liked most couches actually; his own the best, with this one as a close second. Leaned back and pulled his leg up, ankle against his knee.

(And what are you going to amuse yourself with now?) Not sure. Just be still, wait. (Think? Plan?) Caught the site of the bandage on his hand, still secure despite the bath and the abuse of the day before. Fraying a little, maybe. Wound didn't hurt though. (Should probably clean it though, let it air out a little before putting another bandage on again.) Yes.

Got up, rolled his sleeves up (didn't particularly like the wrinkles that would leave, but he had his jacket to cover them) and walked toward the kitchen. Pulled the tape free with as quick a jerk as possible--skin burning for that--and peeled the bandage back. Whitened edges and pink flesh. Stinging in the open air again. No sign of infection.


(Taking care of yourself? Amusing yourself? Controlling yourself? Strange day.)

Farfarello stripped off his gi on his way to the bathroom, dropping the jacket and belt on his bed. He wanted a cold shower, but since he hadn't gotten a chance to cool down, a warm one would be better - cool would cramp his muscles, which would tear if he wasn't careful. He always had to make sure to warm up and cool down before exercising, since the pain that accompanied muscle stress did not trouble him. He stretched a little in the shower just to be safe, but otherwise moved very quickly, scrubbing his skin and hair clean in less than ten minutes and finding a pair of worn, comfortable jeans to pull on while rubbing his hair dry with a towel. He folded his gi and put it away, then wandered out to the living room. No Schu. His next stop was the kitchen.

Schuldig was engaged in cleaning the cut on his hand and while Farf retrieved a bottle of herbal tea from the refrigerator, he glanced over at it. No swelling, no discoloration, all in all encouraging. But then, he hadn't been especially worried. He kicked the fridge shut and leaned against the counter, thoughtfully twisting the bottle cap off and glancing at its underside. The short, cheerful phrase was expectedly corny and he frowned disdainfully at it before dropping the cap on the counter and attending to the bottle.

Schuldig turned the water off, shook his hands to get the extra water off and looked around for something to dry his hands on. Towels on the cabinets--no. Paper towels. There. Pulled a few free and dried the wound first, patting it clean and then his other hand, another paper towel to wipe the water up from the edge of the sink and then tossed all of them into the trash can.

Looked over at Farf, and unrolled his sleeves as he leaned back against the sink. "I told Omi that you found Aya. He didn't like it but his little childish anger at that was significantly overshadowed when I told him about Yohji." Didn't really do justice to his great plan, but it was the important thing that Farf needed to know. Might come up later, when Omi wasn't as neatly cowed and quiet as he had been leaving his apartment.

Farf considered that for a long moment, then shrugged. Omi was already difficult and could prove to be a problem later, but if he so much as twitched in Farf's direction, he'd wind up dead. It was that simple. Nothing was valuable enough, not even Omi's Kritiker resources and contacts, for Farf to suffer threats to himself. And all it would take was a little misinformation and Omi's correct address slipped through the right channels to convince Eszet that it was Omi, leading Kritiker, who had been fucking with them over the past few years. At that point, Farf just had to look the other way while they sent operatives to deal with the 'problem', take out the operatives afterward, and give Weiss the right words to whip them into a righteous vengeful frenzy over the death of their friend. So he didn't bother worrying, and merely gave Schuldig a mildly annoyed look. "I'm not sure that was strictly necessary, but if it causes problems, I suppose I'll deal with it."

[Schuldig watched him shrug, felt a strange smile cross his face for it. Confidence there, easy and accepting and justified. (Not like that smug-fucked smirk on dear old Mamoru's face?) Nothing at all like it. Farfarello had the backup to his confidence, and he rarely made showed it so obnoxiously as that idiot kitty-cat had.

"I assured him that you would not take kindly to any acts of violence attempted against you." (Not that it really seemed to make that big of a difference to him at the time. *Stop singing that psycho's praises.*) "It was actually necessary for the plan to work as well as it did." Smirk across his face, there was his smugness, well-deserved he felt. "And it worked far too well." (You don't expect him to bite on that do you? Ask you what you did and how you did it?) Hm. Might just ask him then.

"Could I interest you in dinner and a story?"

Farfarello shot him a grin, switching to English for comfort reasons. "That's a fine offer, considerin' I'd likely be the one providin' dinner," he pointed out. "Unless you were planning on eating out somewhere? And I'm reassured to hear you HAD a plan," he added, but he was only teasing.

He idly rubbed the wet ends of his hair where they trailed against his skin with the towel. Nice of Schuldig to issue a warning on his behalf, though on further speculation, it occurred to Farfarello that Omi might have been more angry than serious. He knew firsthand Schu's ability to piss people off, and since Omi had neither the mental discipline nor the long experience to deal properly with it and keep from being knocked off-center by that sharp, devilish tongue, it followed that he'd say or think a few things that weren't entirely rational in the heat of the moment.

"The intention was to take you out to eat," Schuldig said, switching to English without even realizing it. (Because I'm tired of these kitchen scenes.) "I'll even *pay.*" Or mind-fuck someone into paying for me or just mind-fuck them into thinking that it was paid for and walk out--whichever appealed to him the most at the time. "First, though, I need a new bandage and you will have to put on a shirt."

"Two minutes broken up with Tsukiyono and already looking for a date." Farfarello clucked his tongue as he pushed off the counter and headed for his bedroom. "Incorrigible," he accused Schuldig, joking again. He went to the closet first and found a plain, navy button-up shirt, which he left untucked and rolled up the sleeves, leaving the top two buttons open. He used a brush to get most of the rest of the water out of his hair, tied it back, and got the gauze and curative gel out of the cabinet for Schuldig. He brought that and a set of socks and boots back to the kitchen, and gave the medical supplies to Schuldig while he sat down at the table to lace up his shoes.

(Remember how to do this?) Bandage his own wounds? Yes. Bandage his own wounds with only one hand--slightly more tricky. Possible, of course, but slightly more tricky nonetheless. Started by tearing the strips of tape he'd need to secure the bandage. Then the gel, squeezed it and spread it over the wound (still a bit too open isn't it? Should have gotten stitches.)

"What do you want to eat?" he asked idly. Pressed the bandage over the gel, plucked the tape off the counter where he'd left it and laid it across the bandage, fingers smoothing it down so it stuck, and the turned his hand and stuck the tape to his skin. Plucked another piece of tape and started to repeat the process.

"I couldn't possibly care less," Farf told him, which was true - he wasn't picky. "Whatever's in your budget." He knew well that he might be consigning himself to an evening in a sidewalk ramen hut, but didn't particularly care about that. He straightened, noticed Schuldig's painstaking efforts, and shook his head with a soft snort. Standing, he appropriated Schu's hand and straightened the gauze before taping it down more securely. Not that Schuldig had been doing a bad job, but it was a bit more secure now, and besides, it was finished in half the time.

"Thanks." Schuldig said. Then scoffed at the words. "Farf. Everything is in my budget and I chose what we eat most of the time. But we could always drive in circles until one of us sees something interesting." Moved to go get his jacket off the back of the couch.

"That," Farfarello said with serene ease, "is because you are the picky one out of the two of us." He pondered the November temperatures, and grabbed his coat as well. "And that depends on how in the mood you are for a purposeless evening drive." Japanese youths, for whatever reason, liked to 'go driving' on dates. But after living in Japan for seven years, Farfarello was wholeheartedly convinced that the Japanese were insane. Coming from him, that was saying something. Part of it was Tokyo traffic, which was enough to fray even the most solid nerves, which explained why most Japanese cab drivers were perpetually stoned out of self-preservation.

Schuldig buttoned his jacket, smirking at those words. (Yes, such a picky soul you are.) Tossed his hair over his shoulders and pulled the cuts on his neck, felt them sting and rubbed his fingers across them, felt a pearl of blood again and held his fingertips against it until it stopped.

"How about that restaurant with the short waiter and weird bathroom?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Farfarello told him amiably. "But if you liked it, it's fine with me." His nostrils flared and he paused, eying Schuldig. "I smell blood," he remarked, but left it up to Schuldig to explain why he smelled blood. He didn't bother buttoning his coat, which was dark blue, lined with gray flannel, and hooded.

"You have to remember what I'm talking about. That short waiter dumped noodles all over that guy with that stupid Takatori face-hair-fringe thing." But then, Farfarello might not remember, considering he had other things to worry about rather than remembering stupid facts about places he'd gone to eat a few times.

(Maybe the problem is that you never remember the names of places.) "Blood--yeah. That's part of the story. Nothing serious." Pulled his fingertips away from his neck. Considered what to do with them now, how best to get the blood off.

Tempted. Ohhhhh, so tempted. Very, very, very..... he glanced up at Schuldig and nearly sweat-dropped. Of course he was fucking tempted. Did Schuldig even consciously realize what he was doing? It was about a fifty-fifty chance and impossible to know, so the only thing that mattered was, did Farfarello want to cooperate with it? Pros and cons. It'd be fun, it'd elicit a fun reaction, but... he still wasn't sure whether he wanted to open himself up to this again and it'd be cruel to give Schuldig the wrong impression. Not until he himself knew.

Still. Bright red. Beaded. Coppery. Smelled like Schuldig. He sighed, realizing that he was fully cooperating with whatever designs (conscious or subconscious) the redhead had, and leaned in, capturing Schu's wrist and removing the blood from his fingertips with an almost kittenish flick of his much-scarred tongue.

(Now try to tell yourself that wasn't your plan all along.) No need to try to lie about it. Schuldig hadn't expected Farf to actually do it. Stood there very nearly shell shocked as that tongue swiped across the blood on his fingers. Instantly sensitized. Watched Farfarello, felt the intensity of the look, smirk all gone, something else entirely. (See something you want, maybe?)

Schuldig swallowed quietly. "Thanks," or something that might have sounded like it. Slipped into German. (Is that on purpose or did he really surprise you that much?) Or something else that was neither of those options.

[What the fuck did he say now? (Should have stayed with the kitten, would have known exactly what to say. Something simple and sweet and cute.) That being why he left him.

Fell back on an old favorite, like a crutch, hoped that Farf didn't take it personally. "Food?"

"It is for me," Farf said easily, "but you might need something more substantial." He politely gestured Schuldig toward the door, hint of a smirk hanging in the corners of his mouth. Did he know what Schu was thinking? Maybe. Did he mean to make him think that? Maaaaaaaybe.

Schuldig smirked back as habit and, not for the first time, wished he could hear more of Farf's thoughts. (He's not easy, wasn't that what you were complaining about before? Peaches gave it up too easy?)

"You know what restaurant I mean now? If you don't I'm sure I can get you there. I mostly remember where it is--or you could always decide." He pulled his shoes back on, and followed Farf out of his apartment.

"No," Farf said entirely without concern, somewhat surprised by how big a kick it gave him to have Schuldig off-balance. Maybe he SHOULD have sucked, as his first impulse had been to do. Maybe if he had, Schu would have instantly collapsed into a boneless heap. That would have been interesting. "But I feel particularly invincible tonight, so not only will I trust you, I'll let you drive." He offered Schuldig a sly smile, meaning no harm, wildly amused by the present turn of events. Kept watching him, the tiny signals that meant Schu was wishing for the millionth time that Farf wasn't a god damned null and Schu had some idea what the fuck was going on in that skull of his.

Maybe yesterday, or maybe the day before, Schuldig would have had some snide remark about how Farfarello was being a brave soul for holding over his keys--but that was yesterday and it was today and he could drive. Even in Tokyo on a Saturday evening. Got then there without missing a turn (mostly by connecting the useless bits of information he had remembered about things along the side of the the road.)

Inside, nice enough, nothing very fancy but it smelled good. Very good. Nearly as good as Farf's kitchen got to smelling (only in a strictly Japanese way, unfortunately.) Had to expend a conscious effort to remember to speak in Japanese (not that the fairly blank minded server had noticed at all. Though the she had taken a moment to notice the cuts on his neck and the scars on Farfarello's skin. Typical. Oh--and the color of his hair.) He managed not to roll his eyes at them until they were settled.

Farf maintained his air of private amusement throughout the process, going so far as to smile benevolently (which was a somewhat terrifying sight) at the waitress. Probably would be fun to be Schu right now and plant visions of sadomasochistic sexual deviancy that she wouldn't be able to shake out of her head for days. He settled quietly at the table they were shown to and accepted a menu.

One day, Farf. Me and You and Nagi and Crawford are going to have to have a conversation in front of Weiss (or someone) with each of us speaking a different language. Just to weird them out Schuldig looked at the menu (rather hated reading Japanese, actually) and wasn't particularly impressed with any of the available options. Picked something at random and set the menu down on the table.

Looked at Farf. (Yes, just what is happening here?) Wasn't sure. Didn't object to it but wasn't sure exactly what it was. Had no way (besides asking straight out) of finding out. Had to let it happen as it would.

"I think the first Japanese girl to notice something besides my hair color deserves some sort of award," he said offhand in German. Brushed his hair back over his shoulder, pressed the voices of the restaurant patrons further away from his immediate thoughts. Didn't want to listen to them beyond a dull buzz. (And now that you're concentrating its not that hard to make them quiet down--is it?)

The story would wait, until the food was ordered and the waitress had no reason to hang around and listen.

"Your hair color is extremely noticeable," Farfarello told him, also in German, not much caring about the way they were switching languages like flash cards. "Gaijin are exceptionally rare in Japan as it is, let alone two such very striking Gaijin as we are." He smirked slightly, used the pictures to choose something as his grasp of printed Japanese was not phenomenal, and then set it aside. He too was noticing the cuts on Schuldig's throat, and shoved the ideas that came with the realization out of his mind. He shrugged out of his coat and folded his hands on the table, lacing his fingers together and contemplating Schuldig quietly.

"Still, I think dying it green would bring less of a reaction," Schuldig said as an aside. Considered taking his jacket off, but he wasn't cold or uncomfortable so he left it on. (Rather vainly thought it accentuated his shoulders and his chest.)

Found Farf looking at him, fingers laced together--just being quiet. (And how is this different than how he usually is?) Stupid question, since licking his blood off his fingers and looking at him quite like that wasn't the daily agenda for the past five years. (Maybe you're reading too much into it.)

"Ready for my story?" he asked, now that the food was ordered and the annoying woman with the red-hair fixation had left.

"I'm all ears," Farfarello assured him, settling back in his seat. His eye kept roving to those cuts, but not too obviously.

(He's all ears and quite suddenly you have nothing to say.) Schuldig dragged his fingertips across the table cloth, felt something more like that old smirk coming back to his face. *Knew* what Farfarello was looking at, and even just knowing that made things...more even. (Not used to being the one not knowing what the other is thinking. Should be. Been this way all this time.)

"Parts of this story are rather boring, actually. I'll try to skim over them as best I can. Consider it a disclaimer that Omi never realized what the plan was--or even that there was a plan, and that he did his part quite admirably in following exactly where I led him." Pause, took a drink of water. Set the glass down before he swallowed it and then continued. "It started simple. Told him that I didn't really want to sleep with him--but he made it easy. And that he had a weak mind with an Aya obsession."

Farfarello hiked a brow and listened to this. He wasn't the type to interrupt, so he refrained from comment, at least at first. Of course, all this was true of Omi Tsukiyono and did not beg comment on its own.

Schuldig smirked. "He wasn't terribly immediately reactive. But it was necessary build up. And he'll think about it later, which was one of the more important goals." Pause. "Then I revealed to him that I asked you to find Aya and he reacted rather poorly to that. Which, naturally, was the point. Knocking about in Omi's head is Mamoru--the usefulness of that personality needed to be judged." (Oh, and you judge things so well?) Yes. Had in the past. "My advice to him to stay away was mostly bait for Mamoru. Omi's dominant control over his personality slips when he gets angry--some sort of denial I think. Doesn't want to be an evil bastard." Roll of his eyes for that, dragged his fingers over the cuts on his throat. (Yes, those came next.) "I mentioned I saw Yohji, he reacted with possessive anger. I told him I tried to kill Yohji and--" Smirk there. "He put a couple of his shuriken to my throat."

Longer pause here to get a drink of water and think about the next bit--dear old Mamoru.

Far nodded. He'd suspected something like that. Schu did have a singular talent for getting people angry enough to forget their better judgment. In any case, Omi's reaction was understandable, if unfortunate. He wondered if the little Takatori was, in fact, suicidal.

"After that--Mamoru had control. I stroked his ego in a fashion I felt was rather obvious. Lots of hints of sexuality and appealing to his ego and his superiority over Omi. He ate it up like a fat pig and thought he was pretty fucking badass." Stopped here to have his food handed to him and gave the waitress a rather sarcastic smile and a short 'thanks' in Japanese. Smelled the food, felt that he had made an acceptable random decision.

"So mind-fucked him back in his place. He's angry, but Omi will think about it and feel all warm and fuzzy that I, even in passing, wanted him more than Mamoru. The rest is pretty boring. Omi left with the promise to think about whether he wants to keep having sex with me. Hopefully he'll say no, and if he doesn't I can always tell him about my extracurricular activities."

Farfarello accepted his own food and listened to Schuldig wind down. "What if he goes the noble route and decides he wants you despite your flaws?" he wondered, though he sincerely doubted that Omi would feel this way. He wouldn't, in good conscience, be able to endure Schuldig's games.

Schuldig considered it briefly, had an answer, because he'd considered it in his contingencies, but it wasn't quite a fully developed idea. Not to put into speech. Easy to explain in terms of thoughts, reactions. (If he comes back, I'll make him leave--what a clever plan.)

"In the case of that highly unlikely scenario--depending on how sure he is that he wants to be noble. I'll either tell him about the fun I have making mothers' stab their only children or come up with something else. Or make sure that Aya finds out about our little fuck fest. I'm sure he'll have plenty to say about it--and none of it nice. That option being one of the last. He might find out anyway, but I see no point in telling him myself."

Dropped his hand away from his throat. His stomach gave a tightening little cramp to remind him that it would prefer it if he'd stop talking and start eating--since the food was there. Like he hadn't eaten twice yesterday. (More food that you usually get, shut up down there.)

Farf shrugged. That made about as much sense as anything was bound to. He dug into his food and let Schuldig enjoy his, since abyss only knew he never actually got fed unless he got someone else to feed him.

[=Schuldig ate for a minute, watched Farf. (What are you going to say now--So, what do I *taste* like?) No, definitely not. (Not curious?) That wasn't the reason. (Afraid of the answer?) No that wasn't the reason. (Then why not?) Because. (Oh, a brilliant reason. Fine, sit here until Farf says something--because you're making it so in-obvious that you don't like the silence. Not even a blind man could tell. Really.)

He waited until he was halfway through eating before bothering to say a word. "For only remeberin' the restaurant because someone spilled somethin' on someone else, it's not a bad choice," he allowed.

"Hm," Schuldig said. "Not bad but nothing exactly remarkable either." Finished as much as he wanted to eat (which wasn't very much at all, but then he'd never eaten much when he actually ate more than once a day.) Turned his water glass on the table, watching the water leave a ring on the napkin and felt those voices all around his mind buzzing a little louder. Something like a sensory headache at the edge of his skull. Nothing serious yet, just the distant presence of something that could become unpleasant.

"That woman in the corner," he said, voice sliding back to amusement, superior tone layered with his disdain for her very existence. "Is trying to figure out if I'm a hooker or if you're some kind of sexual pet I purchased." Let his glance slide across the room to the woman sitting with her family in the corner of the room, one of her children chattering away and the other picking at its food with sullen distaste--and then looked back at Farfarello. "Change that to "an exotic hooker."

Farfarello blinked, then burst into laughter. "And we're not even holdin' hands on the table," he said with chagrine. "Some peoples' imaginations. Damn."

Schuldig laughed with him, felt that woman's mind jump all over this new laughing development with great wonder. Start a whole new spiel of thought. Pushed her thoughts back to the buzz of the others and buried it under the rather boring thoughts of her husband who had been attentively listening to the kid chatter this whole time.

"I think there must be something about the way I dress that leads into that particular twist of the imagination. Its not the first time some woman has spent her time fantasizing up ridiculous notions like that." Rolled his eyes. "Maybe if I started wearing t-shirts and biker shorts they'd think up something original." A pause to try to assimilate that image into his own head.

(No thank you--you said it, you keep it.)

Farf considered that for a long moment, smirking. "Well, you're a fairly ... sensual individual. It's not a far stretch," he said reasonably. "As for me, I'm surprised," he said dryly. "Most people seem reluctant to even think of me in a sexual vein."

(Thinks you're sensual, huh?) Would not be the first time Farfarello had said something like that. (And what about him?) Schuldig thought about it. Hadn't thought about it in the past five years--(thought about it before, once or twice)--hadn't thought about *anything* for the past five years, really. But looked at Farfarello now. "That would be because they haven't seen you when you're hunting, or in the middle of your katas--" Schuldig let a slight smile play at that thought. "And because the mass of useless flies that inhabit this planet are shallow-minded idiots." (Ah, there's that old thought. Wondered where it had been.)

"So you're saying they don't find me sexy because they haven't been scared shitless by me yet," he said dryly, smirking. "I'm glad we solved that mystery."

Schuldig let his tongue drag across his teeth, something like a smirk there. (Oh, he wants you to say something. Be nice--say something.)

"*Most* people lack the ability to appreciate your particular brand of attractiveness, Farf. They see it and fear it, because they know you could destroy them." (Oh, give him a bit more than that.)

"They fail to see the grace and power with which you move, and they aren't capable of appreciating the confidence and concentration because--Well, because you're hunting *them* and they're too busy pissing their pants worrying about how bad its going to hurt when you kill them. From the other side, its something else entirely." Let that smile on his face imply what wasn't said at the end of that sentence.

"Oh, so you can be nice when it suits you," he said darkly, gold eye flashing at Schuldig across the table, white teeth gleaming in the low light of the restaurant. Of course, he'd known that. It wasn't that he was after flattery, really, but there was satisfaction here... the first time in years he felt like Schuldig had really SEEN him. Which, for years, had been all he'd really wanted... to induce his old friend into opening his eyes and really LOOKING. The problem with the familiar was that it was too close to you to see changes that came gradually, why some parents could not accept that their children had grown up in the short span of ten years.

Schuldig took a drink of the water again. Set it down and leaned forward a bit, shook his hair over his shoulders again, felt the skin pull on those damn cuts again. (Those might take a bit to heal if you keep tugging them open again.)

"Nice wasn't the intention; its the truth." Ran his thumb over those stupid cuts, not bleeding enough to wet his finger. But they were open again.

"Do those hurt?" he wondered, not necessarily to change the subject, but because he was truly concerned. At times, he overestimated the effects pain had on others, particularly those he would rather not see hurt.

"Not really," Schuldig said. "But they open up every time I move my neck and bleed. More of an annoyance than a pain." Smirked there. "They're suppose to make me realize my own mortality, I believe."

Farfarello smiled. "I could make sure they stay closed," he said. "If they're an annoyance." He felt rather like Dracula from the old and cheesy movies, obsessing over a conveniently-contrived nick on the throat. Almost as if it were a plot device. The thought made him grin.

"And how," Schuldig said, slight raise of his eyebrow, keen look of interest (you really want to know don't you, aren't even trying to figure it out before he says it...) and his hand still there just in front of his own neck. "Would you do that?"

"For all your wit, you lack creativity," Farfarello told him fondly. "That is very literally why they invented super glue. A little neosporin and a couple tiny dots in the middle and they'll hold and heal faster."

Schuldig passed his thumb over the cuts again, felt the scabs forming over them again--sticky still and then dropped his hand again. "Of the things I lack," (Oh, and we could make quite a list there, couldn't we?) "Creativity is not one of them. You'll find I can be exceptionally inventive when I need to be. Wound care is, however, admittedly not my specialty. If it will keep these damn things from bleeding every time I shrug I'm more than willing to do it."

Farf smiled. "Then we'll see about it when we get home." He refused to play into Schuldig's innuendo, but he didn't miss it.

"Time to pay and go, maybe." Schuldig turned his head, let those minds buzz back into a more prominent volume, found a simple, easy one--one with enough money for the check--and slid the idea that he ought to pay for them into his mind. Eased down the ruffle of dis-ease at the sudden strangeness of that thought. And had the good grace to seem almost surprised when the man stepped up next to their table.

"Excuse me," he said--as polite as a puppet--"I insist that you allow me to pay for your dinner."

Farf shook his head. It occurred to him to scold Schuldig for offering to pay for dinner and then mind-fucking someone else into it, but really, all such gestures were the same for Schuldig. As they said, it was the thought that counted. "Then we'll go. And this time, I'll drive," he offered, standing and putting his folded napkin back on the table.

["Didn't like my driving?" he said, in passing. A half-hearted tease. Stood up and ran his hands down the front of the jacket, smoothed it out--finished with his puppet's little mind. (Took longer than it should have. Out of practice.)

Turned his attention back to Farf when the man was safely back to his own little world without even realizing he had been so very generous to a set of strangers. "Here," he said and dug the keys out of his pocket, held them out as they walked out.

He took them and smiled. "I prefer not to tempt fate regarding you and vehicles," he said. Besides which, sometimes he was protective of his jeep. It was very custom, after all, and had performed with consistent excellence so far. And it was getting closer to the late-afternoon traffic rush.

"Farf, there are many times I might have inadvertently almost got us killed--none of those times involved my driving." (MIGHT have, huh? And inadvertently?) It was one of those stupid shit-eating naughty smiles on his face.

Farf shot him a grin. "Well, he who drives controls the radio," he observed, climbing into the driver's seat. Mercifully, he didn't turn it up loud. And technically it was the CD player. But who was counting? He had a deft and steady hand on a steering wheel and didn't seem much nonplussed by the traffic, aggravating though it was.

The headache was back, bit stronger now. Harder to focus or just an excuse not to (hard to tell these days isn't it?) The drive was quiet--couldn't think of anything to say. (Happens when you do nothing but sit on your couch for five years.) Or couldn't think of anything but Farfarello licking the blood of his fingers, or the way he was looking at his neck (or the fact that you just suddenly realized that--oh, by the way, Farfarello is capable of having sex and is actually attractive? And finds you be--sensual?)

"Will this superglue idea keep them from leaving scars?" Schuldig asked. Somewhere between the car and Farf's door. First thought that he'd managed to work out of the noise in his head that seemed worth saying out loud.

He laughed. "No, but I doubt they're deep enough for that in any case. Skin of the throat is notoriously soft and heals well." He paused, then grinned ferally. "When it is allowed to heal. It will merely keep them closed so that they may. But that is why they invented superglue," he mused as he climbed the stairs. "That's why it sticks best to your skin. When soldiers were disemboweled, the medics would pile their intestines back in and literally glue them shut. There's a perfect example of it in Dog Soldiers," he said idly, unlocking his door.

"Hm." Schuldig murmured. (Elegant, really.) "Where do you want me?" Rubbed his hand across his forehead and closed his eyes. It was quieter here, especially as close as Farf was, but the quiet made the headache worse. Nothing else to focus. (Like a muscle ache. Used it too much, of course its going to hurt.)

"Anywhere is fine," Farf told him. It wasn't as though it was a complicated endeavor. He tossed his keys on his desk and went to dig the glue out of the kitchen drawer, leaving Schu to find a comfortable spot somewhere and flicking on lights as he went.

So the couch it was. Somewhere near an end, probably, so Farf could get to his lap. (You could just go sit in a kitchen chair.) Could, maybe. But the couch was closer and more comfortable. He pulled open the buttons on the jacket (this sort of jacket really was not made for comfortable slouching) and sat down. Slouching so he could lean his his head back against the cushion. Hands in his pants pockets, let his eyes drift close, poked around in his own head (looking for kitty paw prints) for the span of minutes it took Farf to get the glue and return.

"You look pained," Farfarello observed when he returned and settled on the couch next to Schu. He brushed that flame-orange hair away from the cuts, gently tugging away the strands that stuck in the bit of blood that had dried after Schu had picked at them. "Your gift," he ascertained, reading the particular lines in the skin between Schu's eyebrows.

Schuldig opened his eyes far enough to see Farfarello. Not very clearly with the tilt of his head, but enough. "Yes, nothing sleep won't fix." Stayed still, felt strange--no reason for it. They'd bandaged each others wounds before and this was hardly a long or thorough procedure. (Maybe because its your neck.) Or maybe because he couldn't quite figure out what was going to happen here--not this second--but here, between him and Farf. Had to push it out of his head; wasn't the time for it.

"Thank you," he said. (Yes, but for what?) For--

That drew a smile. "You're welcome," he said courteously. He licked his thumb and cleaned the bit of dried blood from the cuts. This reopened them a bit, but he swept away the tiny welling drops and carefully added minuscule bits of glue, two to each cut, in the center. He held the edges together gently until the glue set, which took only a few seconds.

Schuldig tipped his head forward when the glue was set and Farf had moved his fingers. Stayed the instant impulse to run his fingers over them again and idly ran his hand across Farf's hair. Smooth. (Thought you pushed that out of your mind.) Did.

"I should go," he said. Pulled his hand back and tugged the other one free from his pocket. "Or I'll end up falling asleep on your couch and set back my whole plan for a return to self-sufficiency."

Far tilted his head into Schu's hand like a cat, the motion so immediate and unconscious it was hard to know whether he realized he was doing it. Bleached of color by semi-natural process, it was still soft as a kitten's fur. Silken. "As you like," he said simply. Schuldig was always welcome, but there was no point repeating what the telepath already knew. "Shall I tell you where you can buy a cookbook in German or English?" he joked mildly.

Schuldig chuckled. "I'm not ready to be *that* self-sufficient." Had to get up now, or he'd forget why he had to go. (And why do you have to go?)

(Because you always were too easy to influence, that's why--*peaches.*) Shut up Hyde.

Had to go because he had to do this on his own. Didn't want to stay here and use Farf as a crutch. Could, knew that Farf would let him, might not even see it as that (probably would, eventually) but--no. Had to do the difficult things by himself. "I'll be back," he said, leaning forward on the couch, moving to stand up. "Hopefully with slightly more entertaining stories."

Farf got up and returned to the kitchen, presumably to put the glue away. "I look forward to them," he called back, to the sound of rummaging. He wished Schuldig the best of luck, really, and knew as well as Schu did that he had to step back from all this. There were ways and ways to love, and one not to the exclusion of the other or the necessary inclusion. True love, of any type, wished for nothing but the good of its object, neither selfishly nor half-heartedly. Schuldig, for his own good, needed to be alone. Omi was out of the picture, driven out by superior mental chess. Farfarello, who knew him better and loved him deeper, voluntarily stepped back. "Be well."

He didn't see Schuldig out, but he felt him leave and heard the door click shut.

Nothing left to do now but wait.


OOC comment

[This bit: One day, Farf. Me and You and Nagi and Crawford are going to have to have a conversation in front of Weiss (or someone) with each of us speaking a different language. Just to weird them out

was actually a comment I, Card, made, not Schuldig. *sheepish grin* Sorry if I messed ya up with that. But its not part of the actual RP.