That was it.
That was _it_!
Ken let the door fly closed behind him as he left, listening to the SLAM! with a great deal
of satisfaction. He could hear Yohji's voice raise after a moment and shook his head in disgust as
he stormed down the street, ignoring the icy rain that seemed to pierce his face. He was so tired
of listening to Yohji and Aya argue. One would think they were enemies instead of friends and
teammates. Now, Ken wasn't unforgiving. He knew that the first fights had been fought with
righteous anger, but that had been months ago. Now they fought over every little thing, and he had
taken all he could of their shouting.
He inhaled the cold evening air deeply as he turned a corner, trying to relax. It wouldn't
be long before Omi gave up trying to soothe the two and abandoned the shop himself. Briefly he
wondered where the boy found refuge. His own feet were carrying him automatically to Jiko's Magic
Coffee, a small coffee and pastry shop. These recent months had been hell, and five weeks the
place had become his haven. It was a relatively old place, but well kept. The coffee was nasty as
anything but the hot chocolate was good, and the cream puffs were _delicious_. Besides, Ken had
never been in there when there were more than three other people there, and he was there three or
four times a week. It was quiet and it was his place to relax. He could nap, he could daydream,
or he could try a hand at chess.
Chess. Now _that_ was a hard game.
He grinned wryly. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings were chess evenings. Ken had
watched the people play for two weeks before they implored him to try. They'd patiently taught him
how to play. While he was definitely no champion, he wasn't a complete loser. He'd one two games.
The fact that those were two out of thirty-odd didn't matter.
He reached out and pushed the shop door open. The cashier, a girl named Reiko, looked up
at the jingling of the bell and smiled brightly. "Good evening, Hidaka-san! You look cold," she
Egad, no. "Hot chocolate, please." Ken shrugged off his wet jacket and hung it on the coat
rack by the door. It would be nice and warm, almost hot, by the time he left, since the coat rack
was positioned by a heater. He then scuffed his shoes against the welcome mat in an attempt to get
the excess water out.
"And cream puffs," she finished with a knowing smile. Ken nodded with a grin. She tapped
it into the register and turned to take care of his order. Ken moved to the counter to wait,
leaning against it lazily and glancing around the store. There was an old couple in one corner
drinking from mugs. He decided it was most likely _not_ coffee. Another man was sitting in the
opposite corner, typing on a notebook computer.
"Here you go, Hidaka-san!" Reiko announced.
Ken turned to accept it. The bell jingled behind him as someone else entered. "Good
evening, Nagi-san!" Reiko greeted, and Ken froze, hands in his pockets to search for his wallet.
"Hot chocolate, please," came a quiet but unmistakable voice.
Reiko glanced towards Ken, eyes dancing with amusement. "And cream puffs?"
~Oh shit oh shit It's Schwarz Now what oh man this is not good I don't have my bugnuks with
me!~ Ken drew out his money and paid her. He should probably leave. Tangling with a telekinetic
was not how he wanted to end this day. Then he thought of the rain, and of the fighting at home.
If he left, where would he go? He had nowhere else.
So Nagi liked hot chocolate and cream puffs too?
Ken slowly turned as the boy approached the counter. Nagi stopped in his tracks, eyes
narrowing slightly as he recognized Ken. The boy was soaked to the bone, dressed in a long sleeved
black shirt and pants suit that did nothing to repel the rain outside. He was shivering slightly
from the cold, and Ken felt a moment's bit of sympathy for the child before he hardened himself
against it. This was an enemy. This was Schwarz.
This was also a fifteen year old kid.
Reiko put Nagi's order on the counter and disappeared to snitch some cream puffs for
herself. Ken and Nagi stood still, almost at a face-off, with Ken not moving away from the counter
and Nagi not moving to retrieve his food. Ken decided that he was going to tell Nagi very clearly
that he was not looking for a fight. He was here to enjoy his food, and if Nagi caused trouble
then the blame would lay on the kid's head.
He opened his mouth, but what popped out wasn't what he had just planned to say. "You
should wear a coat when you go for a stroll in the rain."
"I'm not looking for a fight, Weiß."
"Did I say anything about a fight?" Ken made a disparaging noise, as if the thought had
never crossed his mind. He sipped at his hot chocolate. "I just think that you're risking
sickness if you go out in the rain without anything to keep you warm."
Nagi ignored him, moving past him to collect his food. He left the payment on the counter
and turned away, heading towards a booth. Ken frowned. That was _his_ booth. He _always_ sat
"That's my seat."
Nagi glanced over his shoulder. "Not if I get it first," he answered in that calm voice of
~Let's see...Fight a telekinetic for a booth?~
~No way in hell.~
Ken gave an aggrieved sigh, opting for the booth next to it instead. He sat so that he was
facing Nagi's, in order to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn't try anything funny. Nagi had
no such compulsions to do the same, sitting with his back to Ken. Ken glanced down at his bag and
opened it. As long as Nagi wasn't going to be causing trouble at the moment, he could eat. He
pulled out a cream puff and bit it.
He finished it in another bite and devoured the other four just as quickly, then leaned
back in his chair with a blissful sigh. He already knew that he had too many sins on his slate to
go to Heaven. He wouldn't mind Hell so much, though, if they had cream puffs as good as these.
Ahead of him Nagi moved, and Ken jerked into an upright position, muscles coiling in
preparation to attack or defend himself. He felt foolish a moment later when all Nagi did was turn
himself on his bench. The boy pressed his back to the side of the shop, tucking his legs up
against him and wrapping his arms around them. He tilted his head back so that it touched the wall
and closed his eyes. Ken watched him closely. Nagi was still shivering, harder now than before,
and Ken could see water making its way down his face from his hair.
It could be a trap, he mused, that Nagi was pretending to fall asleep but would attack when
Ken let down his guard. He was uncomfortable staying in the shop with the powerful boy, and
noticed with relief that the rain outside had slowed to drips. He stood and threw away his trash,
carrying his mug with him to the trash can and drinking it in four gulps. He set the mug on the
counter and shot Nagi a quick look. No, he hadn't moved.
Perhaps the boy really was asleep.
Ken paused by the trash can, considering his next course of action. Aya would be angry if
he knew Ken was leaving a Schwarz unsurveillanced.
Right now, though, Ken's thoughts were along the lines of "Screw Aya".
He headed towards the exit and paused with his hand on his now toasty warm jacket. He sent
another look towards Nagi. He pulled his jacket off the rack and turned. Holding his jacket up
with boy hands and watching carefully for any signs of an attack, Ken approached the booth. Nagi
didn't stir. Ken laid the jacket on him. Nagi moved slightly and Ken leapt back, but all the
child did was pull it closer. A small sigh left his young lips, of relief and comfort.
Ken realized he was smiling slightly in satisfaction and shrugged. Enemy or no, the boy
was still human, still just a kid. He turned away and headed towards the door. This time he
didn't look back when he left.
"Please, Manx," Ken pleaded with the redhaired woman. "There has to be _something_." She
gave a faint sympathetic smile and shook her head. Ken sighed, burrowing himself back into the
bench. He raked his hands through his brown hair and peered out at the water. The sun was
setting, so the horizon was colored a vibrant red-orange. "Nothing?" Ken tried again.
"I'm sorry, Ken. We don't have anything for you four yet."
"It's probably for the better that there hasn't been anything," Omi said with a weary sigh.
"It would not be good to have them at each other's throats on a mission." He rubbed his temples.
"They can't be _that_ bad," Manx started, but stopped when both Ken and Omi sent her dark
Looks. "They are?"
"Sun-up to sun-down," Ken answered, turning his gaze back to the water. "This morning they
fought over whose turn it was to make breakfast. After that they fought over how arrangements
should be made. Endless squabbles."
Omi rubbed the back of his neck as he stood. "I don't even remember what they started
fighting for. Do you, Ken-kun?"
"No." Ken thought hard, but all his mind supplied were the countless fights since then that
had grown more bitter and pointless as time went on. He stood as well.
"Thank you anyway," Omi told Manx.
"They have to stop sometime," she encouraged them as they turned to leave.
"Either that or we'll kill them," Ken said, with equal parts dry sincerity and an attempt
at good humor. Omi waved and they headed away. They went in silence, side by side, for several
minutes. Then the evening breeze picked up and Ken shivered. Omi noticed.
"You should have brought your jacket, Ken-kun," Omi admonished. "Are you trying to get
sick?" Ken grinned faintly and shook his head. Omi sounded like him. Before he could make a
reply, though, Omi spoke again. "Speaking of your jacket, I haven't seen it in a few days. Where
"I loaned it to someone." ~Loaned, hm? I'll probably never see it again. Nagi probably
burned it somewhere, but I can't say _that_, now can I?~
"Oh? One of your soccer kids?"
"You could say that." ~It won't be true, but you can say that.~
They turned onto the street that ran behind the flower shop and approached the back door.
Ken's teeth were chattering by the time they got there. Omi reached it first and opened it. Ken
held it as Omi stepped inside, but Omi stopped right inside the door. Ken had to step back to
avoid running into him, and opened his mouth to ask what was wrong.
He didn't have to. Already he could hear Aya's voice.
"There they go again," he muttered, stepping out of the way so Omi could retreat. He shut
the door firmly and they turned away.
"Well, I'm off to the library. Want to come?" Omi offered.
Ken grinned and ruffled his hair. "No thanks. I'm going in search of some food."
"Goodbye, then, Ken-kun." Omi waved and turned away.
"Bye." And Ken found himself heading back to the coffee shop.
"Reiko, please," Ken said with a laugh. "You know I don't drink your coffee."
She smiled brightly. "Company policy. We have to ask everyone so at least we can say we
_tried_ to sell it."
~Tried, but never succeeded,~ Ken thought inwardly with a chuckle. "Chocolate and cream
"Right away!" She turned away.
Ken did his usual survey of the shop. It was Tuesday- chess night. Two of the four saw
him and waved cheerfully. Ken returned the gesture with a smile. He didn't think he'd be joining
them tonight. He wanted to sit in a corner and sort his thoughts out. There had to be some way to
make Yohji and Aya stop fighting. They were tearing apart the group doing that. Without missions
to go on, the two only had more time at the shop together to bicker. Ken wondered if there really
weren't any missions, or if Kritiker didn't want to give them some when internal problems could
risk life and limb for them.
His order was deposited on the counter and he gave Reiko the exact change. As he picked up
his order he heard the bell jingling. Perhaps another chess player, he decided, and turned to head
to his usual booth. He had to grind to a halt so he didn't run over the person behind him.
It was Nagi, and the boy was holding his jacket. The child opened his mouth to speak, but
Reiko beat him to it. "Coffee?" He glanced at her and again opened his mouth, this time to reply,
but she intervened once more. "Chocolate and cream puffs, eh?" He nodded, and she bustled away.
Nagi turned back to Ken. "Why did you give this to me?" he asked, lifting the jacket
Ken gave a slight shrug. "You needed it more than I did."
"I don't need anything from _Weiß_," Nagi answered, clipping his words.
"I'm not Weiß right now," Ken told him coolly. "You see any claws?" He waved the hand with
the cream puffs bag around to make it clear that he was not wearing any bugnuks. "I sure don't.
Right now I'm Ken. Hidaka Ken."
"Ex-J-leaguer," Nagi said, a slight sneer in his tone.
Ken bristled. "See here-" he started, but Nagi was ignoring him and gathering his food
from Reiko. He paid her and started away. "I'm talking to you!" Ken snapped at his back.
"I'm not listening."
Nagi was heading towards his booth again. Ken followed after him, catching up and sliding
into the opposite bench at the same time Nagi sat down. The boy turned a cool look on him, and Ken
jutted out his jaw in stubborn defiance. "This is _my_ booth. If you don't want me here, move
The boy gave a slight shrug with one of his shoulders-
-and pushed Ken off the bench with his powers.
Ken was on his feet as soon as he registered what had happened, and sat himself down again
heavily. "What's your problem?" he demanded.
Nagi tilted his head to one side ever so slightly. "My problem is that we are in public,
so I cannot kill you."
Ken snorted disdainfully. When he felt a small push against him, he grabbed at the bench.
"Quit it, will you? I didn't come here to get in a fight! I get enough of that with Weiß!" ~And
back at the shop.~
Nagi considered this, and Ken tightened his grip on the bench. What would Nagi care? The
boy probably relished the thought of cutting down Weiß. If he was anything like Schuldig or
Crawford, he'd enjoy pushing Ken's buttons and getting him mad. He dug into his own snack with a
disgusted shake of his head. He wished he hadn't gotten angry. With Yohji and Aya fighting, this
shop had been his place to get away. To go and not worry about killing, or bloodshed, or work
shifts, to not lose his temper and to just forget about the world and forget that Yohji and Aya
were at each other's throats every waking second. Besides, if he fought here, in his sanctuary, it
would ruin this place. He wanted to be able to come back here whenever he needed an escape. And
considering the way Reiko had recognized Nagi the other day and called him by name, Nagi was a
regular as well. He didn't want to ruin whatever this shop meant to the youngest assassin of
Ken sighed. "I'm sorry."
Nagi seemed to freeze with his mug halfway to his mouth, then slowly looked up at him.
"I said I'm sorry. I shouldn't have bitten into you like that." It was both of their
faults, he knew. Nagi's for being rude, but more his for reacting so negatively. He didn't feel
like staying here anymore right now. He could still catch up to Omi at the library. Ken stood and
gathered his things, heading towards the trash can. He stuffed his bag into the can and brought
his still full mug to the counter. Reiko eyed it.
"You can't get a refund for not drinking it."
"I don't want one." Ken handed her the mug and left, aware that Nagi was watching him the
entire way. It wasn't until he was outside the door that he realized Nagi still had his jacket.
He sighed and shrugged to himself, stuffing his hands into his pockets, turning in the direction of
the library. He hadn't gotten more than ten feet when he heard a voice calling him.
Startled, he turned. Nagi was standing in front of the cafe, Ken's jacket in his hand. He
let go of it and pushed it with his powers, sending it to Ken. The nineteen year old caught it
easily, and they gazed at each other in silence for several long moments. Finally Ken lifted a
hand to point to the shop. "Truce while in there?" he asked.
It was a long shot, asking for a truce with an enemy.
But Nagi nodded.
Ken slipped into his jacket and turned away. "Thanks." Nagi didn't reply. As he resumed
his journey to the library, a stray thought wandered across his mind.
~Why do you come here, Nagi?~
~What's _your_ reason?~