By Eternitys End
Normal disclaimers apply: I do not, nor do I claim to, hold any ownership over Weiss Kreuz or any of its parts. Moreís the pity.
A/N (1): To those of you following my other Weiss Kreuz fic, Stimulus, do not lose hope. I am currently rewriting all the chapters, as I do not feel comfortable continuing the story with the plot holes and flawed characterizations I have developed thus far.
A/N (2): Posting will be erratic because, although I am on break, family illness has thrown my schedule out the window.
A/N (3): Reviews are much appreciated, whether here or directly to me at EternitysEnd @ eternitysend. cjb. net. I also encourage anyone to check out my website at http:// eternitysend. cjb. net. (Minus the spacing of course) Any and all submissions are welcome!
A/N (4): This takes placeÖtwo and a quarter years after Persiaís death. Please excuse any errors on my part. Iíd figure the time to be somewhere around January.
Chapter One: Bad Habits Take Time To Develop
"Hey," Omi sifted through a sheaf of papers, documents from their mission four days ago, briefly scanning each before furthering his remark. "You donít think thereís something wrong with what weíre doing?" He pulled at his seatbelt, scooting the papers off his lap into a neat pile at his side. "With us, I mean?" He looked to the lanky blonde in the far seat, plucking idly at a sealed pack of cigarettes.
Youji looked up from his plaything, glancing first towards the boy, then to his colleagues in the front for help. "Thatís a loaded question." He sidestepped nicely, and with a glance to the front carefully began peeling the cellophane away the packet.
"Youíre not opening those in my car." Aya warned, reaching through his open window to grab a bag as it was passed through. With a glance back at his carís occupants, he dropped the bag in Kenís lap.
"Iím not going to smoke them, I just want to open them." Youji whined, kicking a boot tip into the soft back of the driverís seat.
"My car will not smell like smoke." Aya hissed at the man behind him before retrieving another bag through the window, this one bearing a deep grease stain on the bottom.
"Do you need a drink carrier?" The teenager serving them, sporting roots as greasy as the last bagís bottom, leaned her head in the window, inspecting the four men inside. Aya raised an eyebrow and gave a sympathetic smile, subtly shifting away from her
"Weíve got hands." Ken offered, holding his up as evidence, leaning over Aya to pull
two cups from the girlís hands. After inspecting the tops, he passed to the backseat, one
to Youji and the other to Omi.
"Thank you, and please come again!" The girl cooed as Aya dropped the grease laden
bag onto Kenís lap, retrieved the last too sodas and deposited them in the front cup
holders. Rolling up the window, Aya shifted into gear and sped out of the all too familiar
Drive-Thru of McDonaldís.
"Youíre not putting that on my carpet." Aya watched out of the corner of his eye, to see
Ken inching the greasy bag off his shorts-clad thigh. A streaking trail marked its passage and the brunette grumbled his disgust.
"Mou! They gave me the diet!" Omi cried, glaring at the tall paper cup accusingly. After
a long moment, in which Omi obviously decided the golden arches printed there couldnít
be at fault, he glanced hopefully at the others.
"Canít help you," Youji drawled, his own soda gurgling as he sipped. "Diet." He tipped the cup after a long gulp.
"Ken?" Omi cast his big blues at the headrest in front of him. Ken shifted easily, unwilling to turn around for fear of the full puppy-eyes treatment.
"You donít like iced tea." Ken muttered, obviously losing his resolve. "Its artificially flavored. With corn syrup instead of sugar. And itís from a powder. Not brewed." He pointed out all the flaws, clutching his drink in a possessive grip.
"I do likeÖ" Omi neednít continue, as Aya passed his own orange soda back, exchanging it for the younger manís.
"Thank you, Aya!" Omi exclaimed, shifting the ice with a sated look. "Youíre too kind!" He cooed, sending meaningful glares at the carís less helpful occupants. Aya kept his gaze on the road.
"Donít." He bit out suddenly. Ken looked startled, an extra long fry posed before his mouth.
"I wonít dropÖ" Ken pouted, watching Aya watch the road.
"Wait till you get home." Ken glanced from the limp strip of potato to his leader, weighing his odds. Then, braving a gesture of defiance, he stuffed the piece into his mouth at once, grinning widely.
"Ooooooh!" Encouragement came from the back. Aya pulled to a stop at a light, using the time to glare at Ken. The brunette remained strong, moved to swallow, then promptly began to choke.
"Itís the death glare!" Youji whispered loudly, making Omi dissolve into giggles. "It really does work!" He chortled happily.
"But," Omi confided in response. "This is Ken-kun." He drew in a breath, bracing himself for his line. "All his coordination is in his feet, we really canít expect him to breath and swallow at the same time!" The blondes crumpled together in the center of the seat, their sodas sloshing dangerously.
"Omi!" Ken pouted, turning 180 in his seat while still retaining his hold on the bags.
"That was mean!" Color had risen up his neck, and in an effort to keep it from flooding his entire face, he pointed the conversation in a new direction. "You never explained your question earlier."
The rear seat sobered, Omi shrugging noncommittally. "I was just wondering, if what weíve been doing isnít telling." He gestured to the carís contents vaguely. "This really canít be healthy, eating so much fast food and microwave meals. Whatever happened to the meal schedule we worked out?" Everyone glanced at the lumpy bags on Kenís lap, considering.
"íCourse weíre healthy." Youji exclaimed, even as he examined his exposed midriff with a worried brow. "You donít think Iím getting fat, do you?" Ken laughed and Aya raised an eyebrow in the rear-view mirror.
"Youíre not fat, Youji-kun." Omi assured him solemnly. "If anything, youíre too skinny." He poked at the abdomen in question, pointing out the fact that his hips jutted even when in a comfortable sprawl.
"Youíre not exactly a walrus yourself." Youji poked through the thin brown material of his friendís stringy top, pinching at the tightly muscled skin beneath.
"Well, Yotan." Ken had turned to kneel on his seat, looking back at him. The fast-food bags lay slouched on the floor, forgotten. "I think you might benefit from a bit of exercise, myself." He teased. "Keep drinking as you have, and before you know it," He
paused dramatically. "Youíll have a beer gut!"
Ken looked immensely pleased with himself as Youji gasped in not-completely feigned horror. Omi once more dissolved into giggles and even Aya smirked at the playboy in back.
"Never!" Crooned Youji, shaking his diet soda at the general populous. "Kudou Youji will never submit to such common, middle aged tactics!" He knocked Omiís soft drink by accident, and much to their horror, bright orange slopped towards the white leather interior. To their mutual relief, the sticky soda hit Omiís shorts and was absorbed into the faded cargos.
"You are getting old, Yotan. Middle-aged isnít that far off!" Ken crowed at the blonde.
"Your hair isnít looking nearly as thick as it used to. Does balding run in the family?"
Everyone froze at the mention of such a taboo subject.
"Twenty-four is too soon to be showing major signs of balding. Youíre hairline might recede, but actual thinning will be apparently only in early- to mid-thirties." Aya reassured, watching in the rear-view as Youji patted his scalp tentatively.
"But still," Omi said with a long suffering sigh, attempting to steer the conversation back on track. "I think it might be a good idea if we ate in more often."
The attempt earned non-committal responses and half-hearted agreement. The car lapsed into silence until Ken broke it, pointing out the window and screeching "Turn in!
Turn in here!"
An hour later, the boys stretched out in the mission room, half their attention on the
"This is the last time we let you pick the movie." Youji hissed at Ken, flicking his fingers
through Ayaís eartail distractedly, wedging a socked foot under the younger manís
"Mou," Omi pouted from his sprawl on the carpet, his head tucked somewhere under Kenís arm and on top of his chest. "This is boring. People donít die like that and whatís so scary about a maniac in a mask? He couldnít get away with that in real life! Plus, high school was not like that for me."
"I had a tutor in J-league, but Iím pretty sure high schoolís not like that for anyone." Ken murmured, rolling over on his boyfriend. "Unless," He teased, "Iím mistaken and you just had no life in high school."
"No parent leaves their teenager home alone for the weekend like that." Aya defended. "They either make you come along on their little trip, or they have a neighbor check up on you. Thereís no opportunity for a party like that. Especially if theyíre left in charge of their younger sist...errÖsiblings. And where exactly are they getting all that beer with their minimum wage incomes?"
Youji coughed into his hand and shifted uncomfortably. "Um, yeah." He agreed when faced with Ayaís icy glare.
The others faced him with looks of interest. "Of course, Youji is the authority on all things alcoholic."
"Some parents will leave like that." Youji indicated vaguely at the screen, two beef-necked boys hooting Ďchugí among various catcalls. "And if everyone just throws five into a hatÖ" He trailed off weakly, frowning as Aya shifted his weight off his foot, showing his disapproval.
"Oh, Youji-kun." Omi sighed melodramatically, snuggling into his human pillow. "Letís just watch the movie." He redirected their attention once again. Aya moved back to his side and the group resettled into content half-watching.
Not fifteen minutes later, the calm was broken by the sound of a door opening. Ken paused the movie, they turned and waited for the familiar double click of Manx descending the stairs with a mission. Instead there was the muffled squeak of menís dress shoes followed shortly by the heavier thump of boots. The boys were on their feet, tensed and ready. The reel of Youjiís watch squealed while Omi fingered a dart anxiously. Ken and Aya were posed behind with no weapon readily available, but more than proficient in the use of pure muscle. They held a breath as the first foot, encased in shining black leather, appeared on the winding stair.
"Identify yourselves." Aya growled as unfamiliar, pinstriped legs paused mid-step. The unnamed man hurried the last stretch, exposing himself as a middle-aged man, beefy around the middle with a few streaks of silver at his temples and the jowls of his beard. A younger man with jet black hair followed at his heels.
"Relax." The man batted sausage like fingers at them. "A Kritiker agent really should identify the situation before acting." He muttered disapprovingly. "And you were once the best we had." The man sighed, patting the layer of his gut.
"Who are you?" Aya hissed again, moving toward the new pair, displeased at the need to repeat himself.
"Youíre Kritiker?" Youji stepped forward, stopping with a look from iced violet eyes.
"Really!" The man, inviting himself in, settled on the couch and produced a folder from an inner pocket. "Proof." He flipped open the file, sliding out a sheet sporting a fancy raised seal and a flourishing signature. Aya lifted the paper, examining it closely before passing it to Omi.
"Iíve never seen Kritiker with a seal before." He bit shortly. Omi ran his fingers over the starched sheet before passing it back to their leader.
"Itís legitimate. But Persia didnít like to use it. Such a clean image doesnít fit." He indicated the white emblem with a frown.
"Persia prefers this emblem." Beefy pinstripe corrected. "The late Taketori-san chose not to employ the seal."
"What do you mean Ďthe late Taketori-saní," Ken protested. "Persia wasÖ"
"The position of Persia, empty for the last two and a quarter years, has recently been filled." Predicting their next question, the man held up his hand and continued. "A Kritiker agent is given information on a need to know basis. The identity of Persia is not pertinent to maintaining your safety nor completing your missions."
"You say an awful lot, but you still donít tell us much." Ken frowned, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides.
"You still havenít told us who you are." Omi intervened, indicating Beefy Pinstripe and his accomplice, Scowling Brunette in Army Boots. "Or why youíre here instead of Manx." He plopped down on the floor in front of the couch, proving his willingness to listen. Reluctantly, the others followed in suit.
"You," Beefy Pinstripe indicated the room with a sweeping, arrogant gesture, "May call me Tonkinese." He nodded at his young partner. "And this, agents, is your teamís newest addition, Angora." The newly named Angora stood stiffly behind the couch, his posture straight and shoulders back.
"Angora? Youíre named after my sweater!" Youji laughed awkwardly in the tense silence.
"My code name," Angora corrected. "Itís a Turkish long-haired breed." He was met with odd looks and continued, his voice low and rich, a contrast to his booming partner. "My name is Akai Nobari."
"Private Nobari." Tonkinese interjected with pride. Akai bowed politely.
"Formerly private." He murmured, his voice easily understood despite being soft spoken.
"Private of what?" Youji shifted his weight. "You donít look old enough to have been in the military."
"I am nineteen." He acquiesced. "As to the circumstances of my position, I am, unfortunately, not at liberty to say." Matching frowns met him now. Distrust showed easily on his new colleaguesí faces.
"Weíre just supposed to take him in?"
"We function fine with four, why add someone now?
"You never answered, why, Tonkinese, are you here? Where is Manx?" Aya finally asked a question Tonkinese deemed worthy of an answer.
"I am here to introduce you to your new teammate, of course! Iíll be along in a few days with your first mission, but youíll need to get Akai settled first." He smiled, an unfortunate sight, as the rolls of his neck rippled with the motion. "Manx will no longer be serving your missions."
"What?!?" and exclamations of similar meaning were quickly put to rest with a glare from their fearless leader. Aya was doubtlessly attempting to conduct the meeting with as much dignity and as little bloodshed as possible.
"If Manx is unavailable, why not have Birman serve the missions, or at least oversee theÖintroduction." He settled on the word with a slow frown.
"Kritiker feels that Weiss might have developed too personal a relationship with both agents Manx and Birman. We feared it mayÖinterfereÖwith how prospective jobs are received."
"Hey, our relationships never got personal." Youji defended with a loose smirk. "Not for lack of trying on my part." Aya pinched his thigh, causing the blonde to slide off his perch on the armchair and into the redheadís lap.
"Erm." The pair shifted, uncomfortable with the undivided attention they received. Finding a solution, Aya shoved Youji unceremoniously onto the floor. He landed with an off and a muttered "jerk". Aya pinched the playboy with his toes in retribution. Youji trapped the bare foot under his arm, securing his prize with a cheek on his calf.
The rooms other four occupants watched the impromptu wrestling match with mixed feelings.
"Well," Tonkinese rose after the match was decided. "I will be along in a few days with your first mission." He patted his stomach soothingly, bowing to Weiss.
"Play nice." Ken added the unspoken command at the retreating sound of footsteps.
"Yeah," The others agreed. "Right."
A/N (5): This story is rather open to suggestions, although I do have a goal in mind, Iím open to comments on how I should get there! Yíknow, basic missions and the like.
Thank you to everyone whoís read. Please review!
For those of you who care, Akaiís name means Red Wildflower. Tonkinese is a mix of Burmese and Siamese. Angora is as mentioned, a Turkish breed with long silky hair. Purrrrrrrrdy. * Squelch * OohÖthat was a bad, bad, bad pun, even for me.