Part Eight: Hate

    "The empath!" Ken gasped. "Let go of Omi!"

    "Now, now," the man clucked. "Why would I want to do something like that?" His arm tightened around Omi's waist and he lowered his face so their cheeks brushed. "Don't worry, little Omi. I won't hurt you unless they make a wrong move."

    "I don't understand, sensei!" Omi cried piteously. "You're too kind to be an evil guy!"

    Meirth laughed softly, giving the bewildered boy a kiss on the cheek and straightening. "What a naive little innocent you are. I was only posing as a substitute to get closer to Weiß and Schwarz."

    "Angel..." Farfarello stiffened, hatred plain in his amber eye as lips curled into a fierce scowl. One gloved hand closed on a knife and he lunged.

    "No!" Nagi cried, reaching out to knock him off course, only to remember that he didn't have his gift.

    He didn't need to worry, however, because Schuldig had already moved. In one of his lightning quick movements he snagged Farfarello, yanking the Irishman back. Farfarello struggled fiercely in his grip, hissing raspy curses. "Farfarello, stop it!" Schuldig ordered, trying to avoid getting struck by the man's flailing limbs. Meirth watched, undisturbed. Members began to enter, guns primed and pointed at the seven. They quickly outnumbered the Weiß and Schwarz.

    "Why couldn't you have seen this?" Nagi demanded quietly of Crawford, whose calculating eyes were taking in each soldier around them. Nagi had eyes only for Omi, for the gun pressed painfully against the flesh and vein of life. Omi's eyes closed as he breathed, trying to process everything that was happening. His expression was that of one betrayed, and it tore Nagi to his heart. How many times must Omi be the one put at risk?

    "Now you can see why Einsam is so valuable to me." Meirth smirked. "He plots courses into the future. When he encounters a situation where Brad knows what is going on because of a vision, he backtracks and starts over. It took him almost five hours to come up with a path that would leave Bradley blind. You should be proud of yourself, clairvoyant."

    "What are you doing here, Meirth?" Crawford asked, standing slowly.

    "To collect you four, of course. Where one goes, the others follow. You four were so foolish, to get attached to each other. Any relationships outside of business with a team as efficient as yours is a weakness. Allow me to demonstrate." Meirth turned a cheery smile on Nagi. "Nagi-chan." The boy blanched at hearing his name on Meirth's tongue. "Would you like to see me kill Omi?"

    "You let him go!" Yohji snapped. He started to stand, until two guns at his head kept him in place.

    Meirth gave him a Look. "I wasn't talking to you. Nagi?" He turned back to the telekinetic. "How about I shoot him now?"

    "Don't..." The word was a hoarse whisper.

    "Then I suggest you come along quietly. Will you do that for me, dear? For Omi here?"

    A long pause. "Nagi," Crawford started, but Nagi gave a slow nod.

    "Tada. One down, three to go. Isn't it so much simpler this way? Come over here."

    "Nagi, don't," Omi pleaded, eyes opening. Nagi ignored him, slowly sliding out of his chair. Before he could take a step two gloved hands grabbed his shirt, yanking him back. Farfarello shoved the boy behind him, into Schuldig. The telepath grunted but switched his hold to Nagi.

    "God will weep for the death of his angels," Farfarello rasped, raising the knife to lick it. Nagi struggled in Schuldig's arms, fearful for Omi's safety, but Meirth seemed to have expected this move. A soldier pressed his gun to Omi's throat, taking Meirth's place as the boy's captor. "I will not let him take the forgotten child away."

    "Protective little guard dog you have there," Meirth commented.

    Farfarello's lips parted to show his teeth. "Your death will be sweet."

    "I do hope you know, Schuldig, that Farfarello is going to be a battery for Einsam. He has enough mental activity to be the perfect source for my poor dear blood-eyed partner. Nagi will be incorporated into our forces. Omi is too pretty to kill. Perhaps I will keep him and put him into the Members' ranks. Would you like that, Nagi? Then you can still see him. It's better than death, isn't it?"

    "Death is always better when dealing with you," Nagi spat.

    "Then why struggle so hard to keep Omi alive?" Meirth gave a slight shrug. "Brad will become a battery for me, as an extra boost. I'm sure you'll appreciate it, eh?" Meirth gave the pre-cog a warm smile. "Feel honored?"

    "But of course," came the dry response.

    "Schuldig- ah, Schuldig." Schuldig stiffened in front of Nagi when the empath turned to him. "You, my German beauty, will join Nagi, myself, and Einsam. And you're going to replace Einsam in my bed." He raised a hand to his mouth, licking two fingers. "I've missed your taste. I've missed watching you struggle and bleed."

    "Nie wieder!" Schuldig snarled, retreating a step.

    Farfarello's eye narrowed. "Leave the guilty one alone."

    "Oh ho, am I trespassing?" Meirth asked, amused.

    "Meirth." It was a soft-spoken word. All heads turned. Einsam was in the doorway. His bangs were down, causing his eyes to be in darkness, and his head was lowered slightly. "Can we just go now?" There was exhaustion in the words, but something else that seemed like harsh bitterness. Meirth gave him an assessing look. "I'm really very tired."

    "Keep your pet sequencing too long?" Crawford asked.

    Schuldig eyed Einsam, listening to the thoughts. ~He never wanted me in the first place. Kind of like the animals they bring into a shelter. You keep them for a while, pretend to love them, feed them, give them a place to stay, then put them to sleep when a new animal comes in. Why are humans so cruel? The animals didn't _ask_ to be abandoned, or to be made homeless.~

    /I did warn you./ Schuldig sent the scathing remark at the boy.

    Einsam's head jerked up and his eyes narrowed as he glared at Schuldig. There was such a loathing in those eyes, an emotion that even outmatched Aya's. It was amusing. His amusement quickly died when pain seared up in him, causing his eyes to close tightly. He staggered, making a choking sound. The pain heightened. As he doubled over, he dimly heard the others' worried voices. This pain was not a physical pain. It was an attack on his entire being and soul. He managed to open his eyes when he heard cries around him. Meirth had spread the attack to the others, and they were all suffering like him.

    All save Farfarello.

    "YIYIYIYIII!!!" The madman leapt in for the attack. Guns raised, but dropped at a sharp command from Meirth.

    "Don't shoot him!"

    Schuldig struggled to hold onto consciousness. Einsam had moved for Farfarello, and the two were going at it. Einsam was so small and slight, but there was a lot of hidden strength in that small form. Schuldig reached out with his mind, slamming the thoughts of everyone in the room into Einsam's mind. The blow took away his final strength and he sank into darkness. He was surrounded by black before he ever hit the ground.


    Einsam screamed, clawing at his head when Schuldig blasted him. Just as quick Meirth acted, raising pleasure in him to counter the pain, the two forces cancelling each other out. Einsam's distraction was enough for Farfarello to gain an advantage in their fight. A hand grabbed his treasured braid, yanking his head back almost harsh enough to snap his neck. He cried out in pain, a hand flying back. A cold knife arched down towards his exposed throat. Einsam's free hand shot upward, grabbing Farfarello's wrist. For a long, tense moment they struggled against each other- Einsam holding his braid in one hand and Farfarello's wrist in the other, and Farfarello tugging harder at the rope of hair and trying to get his knife where he wanted it to go.

    And there went his damned mind, sequencing the fight! He shouldn't have fought. He was holding onto sanity with his bare fingertips and was slipping. He wouldn't lose control. He wouldn't lose control! He'd only lost it once, and that had been several years ago. Damn it, he wasn't weak enough to lose control!

    ~Let the hand drop, let him cut your neck. Bleed. Maybe die, unless they get Farfarello away from you quick enough. If you live, go to the hospital. Get cured. Return home in time to find Schuldig brainwashed and in Meirth's bed.~ Einsam's eyes squeezed shut, a harsh breath escaping his lips. ~No. NO!!~

    ~Hold on, push tighter. He will have to give, in time. He cannot hold out long enough. Let him yank your braid. You'll fall backwards. One hand can go out to break your fall. Bring him down with you on the way down- grab his shirt and kick his legs out from underneath you. That would be a bad idea. You're not as good a fighter on the ground as you are standing. Otherwise Meirth wouldn't have gotten you the first time. But oh, wasn't that sweet? Sure, it hurt then, but he used his gifts the next time and it was _nice_.~

    He was getting distracted.

    ~Everything's a distraction. Music is a distraction. Don't listen to it. I do anyway. I like the songs that come on. I like the dark ones. They suit me so well, and they're fun to dance to. Dancing in the shower's always fun, though the elevator wasn't that bad. TV is a distraction too, but I watch it anyway. Why? Ah, yes, commercials. Commercials are so stupid, but they keep my mind off sequencing and other unpleasant things. Like the one for that bike.~

    Einsam's mouth twisted into a pained frown, his eyes closing and his expression that one of anguish. "I can't," he pleaded. ~Help me.~

    Meirth motioned to a soldier, who stepped forward. Farfarello was too busy trying to slice him up to notice. The gun came down, the butt striking the bleach-haired man's head. Farfarello crumpled. Einsam sagged to the ground, staring blankly into space. He felt physically ill from the prolonged sequencing, and slid his arms around his stomach.

    "Einsam-sama?" one of the guards asked.

    "Give me him..." Einsam whispered.

    "You have to wait until we get home, Einsam dear," Meirth chided, beckoning to the Members. "Gather them up and put them in the van." Einsam clawed frantically at Farfarello as two soldiers lifted him. Meirth crouched beside him, taking Einsam's wrists in his hands. "Don't be so selfish, Einsam. Wait until we get home or you could kill him while taking his strength. Can you wait?"

    Einsam shook his head silently, eyes closing as he pressed his lips into a thin line. "No. I need him _now_." Everything around him was shattering and screaming. Please, couldn't they just shut up for _one moment_? A whimper escaped him despite his attempts to keep silent.

    "Shh." Meirth pat his head gently, combing his fingers through Einsam's bangs.

    ~And you're going to replace Einsam in my bed.~ Einsam pulled away from Meirth's touch, suddenly nauseous at the contact. He pulled himself to his feet, staggering after the Members to the van. The plan had gone how he'd expected it to, but there had been something there that had not shown up in his sequencing, and that had been Meirth's words to Schuldig. What did that orange haired German have that he didn't? He paused outside the vehicle, gazing at his reflection on the window. What was it that that man had? Einsam's face was delicate, his skin smooth. Sure, his eyes were the color of blood, but that wasn't _so_ bad, was it? And his hair, his lovely dark hair, woven into a braid so neatly. He contrasted the loud mouthed bastard so strongly.

    "Don't be so jealous, Einsam," Meirth remarked absently as he passed the younger Agent to climb into the car. "Any empath within a one hundred mile radius would be able to feel you."

    "Don't talk to me," Einsam snapped, turning narrowed eyes on his partner.

    Meirth paused midstep, then slowly pivoted to face Einsam. His expression was surprised and indignant. Einsam had never back-talked him so obviously before. Meirth moved towards him again, and Einsam drew himself up in preparation for a blow. His mind was sequencing the possibilities of what could happen, and he sifted through them with half a mind while keeping an eye on his lover. Meirth paused just a few inches from him, gazing into his eyes. "Are you _that_ jealous, Einsam?" he asked.

    "What does he have that I don't?" Einsam demanded. "I'm the one that's been working with you for five years, the one who has bled and suffered for your gain. I'm the willing one. Why fight for something that is given so freely?"

    Meirth smiled slightly, an almost amused expression. "The fight is half the fun, Einsam. Come along, now."

    Einsam watched as Meirth left again, heading around the front of the van to take the driver's seat. Einsam turned to look at the window once more, pressing closer to be able to see through it and avoid the glare. Calm, cold eyes took in Schuldig's crumpled form. He raised a hand to the glass, touching warm fingertips to the cold pane to create small fog circles.

    ~One of us, German beauty, is going to die. When the time comes, I will decide which.~


    Meirth stood off to one side as the Members unloaded the Weiß and Schwarz from the van. Each captive was held up for his inspection, and he would instruct the men where to take their 'visitors'. Farfarello and Nagi were sent to cells- Farfarello to wait and Nagi until the machine was fully installed and back to full running power. Thank the gods they were smart enough to keep two machines, since their first had been destroyed. Aya was held up. Meirth smiled, amused by his private thoughts. "Take him to room 317. Our honorable guest is going to arrive soon, and I want his present to be waiting." The redhead was carried away.

    Yohji was held up. Meirth tilted his head to the side. "Hm. What to do with this one? An extra string." He waved a hand in dismissal. "Go stuff him in a closet somewhere. I'll kill him later." Ken replaced Yohji before him. "Hm, not bad, but I have no use for him. One of you can keep him."

    "Which one?" an eager guard asked.

    "I don't care. Fight over him if you wish, but get him out of my sight." There was yelling and the sound of scuffling as a group of soldiers hurried away to aruge over their newest prize. Meirth grunted in disgust. Heathen creatures. "Next? Ah, Omi. He can go with Farfarello and Nagi, but make sure all three are in different cells. Crawford goes upstairs to room 112." That left Schuldig. A pleased smile curved Meirth's lips. "My room, of course."

    There that ripple was again: jealous bitterness radiating from Einsam. Meirth glanced at the younger boy. Einsam was of no interest to him anymore, now that he had his treasured German. What was Einsam's problem, anyway? Just because they'd slept together for three years didn't mean anything. Einsam was just the dessert on the side of dinner, one who would blindly help him get where he wanted and provide a delicious respite when stress got to be too much. Only recently had Einsam started to dig in his heels and resist the way Meirth was leading, and it was getting annoying. It must be because of the boy's age. Sixteen year olds were a real pain in the neck, he noted to himself, turning away. He had business to attend to, and none of it involved the braided child who was glowering at the floor several feet away.

    At the obvious dismissal a tinge of hate and anger entered Einsam's already gathered pool of emotions. Meirth sighed internally as he left the room. He just had to wait until Einsam had gotten over whatever was bothering him now, and things would be fine. Einsam would find someone else to entertain him and keep his mind off sequencing. Amusement danced in Meirth's amber eyes. He could always encourage Einsam to take Farfarello. It was obvious that despite the unstability in the Irishman's mind he had an attachment to the telepath- one Schuldig himself had not noticed until the Group's arrival at the shop. Einsam hated Schuldig enough, especially now that Schuldig had bumped him so neatly out of Meirth's bed, that he probably would strongly consider Farfarello as a place to vent his frustation.

    It was flattering, he supposed, that Einsam was so fiercely attached and possessive, but Meirth wasn't interested anymore. It was time to go join Schuldig and await the man's awakening. He wanted to savor the German's taste and hatred before the man was mentally altered. That process would take most of the fun out of his newly acquired pet. He padded upstairs, passing the man who had delivered Schuldig to his room and gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. He turned onto the second floor, approaching his room and opening the door. Schuldig was sprawled out limply on the bed, hands handcuffed to the headboard. Meirth closed the door and bolted it behind him, going to sit on the bed.

    He watched as Schuldig dozed for a moments before his impatience got the better of him. He crawled closer to Schuldig, running an experimental hand down Schuldig's cheek. The skin was cold to the touch. He smirked. Not for long. Meirth pressed even closer, using his other hand to unbutton the pajamas shirt Schuldig was wearing. It was black and silk, but smelled faintly of cigarette smoke. According to the reports Yohji smoked, and he knew Schuldig had lost all of his possessions when the Schwarz building had been destroyed, so the most obvious conclusion was that the two flirts were sharing clothes.

    Schuldig didn't wake even when the shirt had been opened to give Meirth a nice view of a hard, lean chest. The raven haired man gave a sigh of impatience before he realized what would make his toy wake up. He slid on top of Schuldig, straddling the German. Jade eyes snapped open immediately and Schuldig bucked in response. Meirth couldn't contain an amused smile. "A little high-strung, are we, Schul-chan?"

    "Let go of me," the telepath hissed, eyes narrowing with hate.

    "Did you miss me, baby? I missed you. For five years I longed for your taste. And now...You look so tasty." Schuldig kicked up, bringing his knee into Meirth's back. Meirth countered the pain by heightening his own sense of pleasure, equaling them out. "It must be frustrating, Schuldig. You can't hear me and you can't hurt me."

    "Go play with Einsam or something."

    Meirth had to hide a smile. Despite the cocky and cold front Schuldig put forth, Meirth could taste his fear. It was delicious. "He doesn't interest me anymore."

    "Is it so wise to turn against the one boy who has kept you strong, Meirth?" Schuldig asked, raising an eyebrow mockingly. "How long can you hope to keep him under your command if you scorn him?"

    "You're stalling, Schuldig. Einsam will always follow me. It's the only thing he knows to do. He's not an overall smart person. He's like you. He'll never have silence, and he is slowly being washed away by his gift. But his mind deteriorates at a faster rate than yours. Without me he cannot hold onto his sanity. Now enough about him. You're a more interesting subject."

    "Get your joys somewhere else. I'm not interested."

    "You will be. Watch." Meirth ran a finger down Schuldig's side. The man twisted to get away from the touch, lip curling with revulsion. Calmly, Meirth slipped into Schuldig's emotional pool and tugged at his pleasure. Schuldig gasped sharply and shuddered. "What? Did you like that? Interesting how I can do that, eh?"

    "Don't touch me." Jade eyes closed tightly to block out the triumphant smirk on his enemy's face.

    "I can make this as sweet or harsh as I want, baby. Which reminds me...I'll have to try out your Irish friend one of these times. He can't feel pain, the reports say, and now I know for sure that that is true. But what can he do against pleasure?"

    "You leave him alone." Schuldig's voice was cold.

    "What, were you so busy playing around with other people's minds that you forgot about your own unstabled teammate? Who have you been messing with lately?" Meirth plucked at the silky pants Schuldig wore. "After a Weiß now? You're such a slut."

    Schuldig smirked coldly. "I was merely proving a point."

    "Of course, of course. You almost lost him last night, you know." Meirth tilted his head to the side. "Einsam told me he went to a bar and saw Farfarello there as he was leaving. Someone was trying to pick him up. That poor madman of yours doesn't even know what sodomy is. I'll have to tell that to Einsam."

    "I said leave him alone."

    "Then are you interested in hearing what happened to the rest of your comrades?" Schuldig's face went blank. "Schwarz has only a few hours left of their minds as they have them now. Weiß was distributed to whoever wanted to play with them. Someone special has claimed Aya. Would you like to know who?"

    "Not particularly."

    There was a knock at the door. "Who is it?" Meirth called.

    "Meirth-sama, your guest has arrived."

    "And there would be Aya's new boss now." Meirth slid off the bed. As soon as his weight was lifted from Schuldig the German began yanking at his handcuffs, shooting quick glances around the room for a way to get out. Meirth made his way to the door and unbolted it, then threw it open wide. He turned back towards the bed, eager to see Schuldig's expression. "Schul-chan, say hello!" Schuldig turned his head, about to bite out a scathing comment, but the words died on his lips. As his guest smiled at Schuldig and the telepath stared in shock and hatred, Meirth tipped his head back and laughed. "Come along then, sir. I have a special present for you. Schul, I'll be back soon. Don't go away."


    Aya slowly struggled his way back into consciousness. He was dimly aware that he was laying down on something soft and cool. His violet eyes slid open partially and slowly. He didn't want to make any sudden movements in case an enemy was nearby. If he could have the advantage of surprise it might help. That plan was ruined, however, when a sharp throb of pain rolled up him, leftover from the attack that had been pulled earlier. ~What was that, anyway?~ he demanded mentally as his body instinctively curled up.

    Or rather, tried to curl up.

    Cold metal dug into his wrists and chains clanked. Aya's head rose and he took in his surroundings. He was in a dim room, laying on a bed. His hands were handcuffed tightly, and short chains connected his bound hands to a strong looking headboard that was decorated with a few statues. The room seemed to be empty, so he slowly pulled himself into a sitting position near the headboard. Where was he? And where were the others? The last thing he remembered was that fiery pain exploding within him, an attack unlike anything he'd ever felt before.

    Bangs fell into his face and he shook his head to remove them from his line of vision, lowering his head towards his hands to try and get a look at the handcuffs. Maybe he could break loose. He had to get free. It was too hard to see. Where were the damned lights? There was the sound of heavy footsteps in the hall. Aya's entire body tensed and he turned instinctively towards the sound. The door opened and the lights were turned on, blinding him momentarily. He turned his face away, blinking to get his vision back. He heard the door shut and lock again. There was someone else in the room with him. But who? Maybe a foolish guard he could take out easily.

    "Well, now, this is a pleasant surprise."

    Aya froze, every nerve in his body screaming as his mind registered the voice. The voice of a man who had killed his parents. The voice of a man who had hit his sister and sent her into a coma. The voice of a man who had symbolized evil for Weiß, the head of all organizations they had taken out on their missions. The man who had raped Schuldig. Aya slowly turned towards the door, eyes narrowed into furious and hateful slits. Taketori Reiji was leaning against the door, eyeing him thoughtfully and with obvious amusement.

    "Meirth-san said he'd get me a toy to play with, but I hadn't been expecting you, Fujimiya Ran."

    Aya tried to lunge at him. He wanted to tear Taketori's throat out, to claw out his eyes and make him scream. The forgotten handcuffs snapped harshly into his wrists, breaking his jump almost before it had started and yanking him against the mattress. His damned bangs fell in his face again and he shook his head once, fiercely, to get them out of his way, rising to a sitting position again with a growl in his throat. "Taketori..."

    "This should be more fun than Schuldig was."

    A cold fist seemed to implant itself in Aya's abdomen as Taketori's words sank home. Taketori intended to rape him? How dare he even assume to do something like that! Aya was going to _kill_ him!! "Come on, Taketori," Aya said, baring his teeth in a snarl. "Come closer so that I can kill you!"

    Taketori laughed. "What a bold thing for someone in your position to say. What are you going to do, bite me to death? You don't have a katana and your hands are tied."

    "Why don't you come closer and I'll show you."

    "Oh, I'll be much closer in a moment." Taketori approached the bed, thoughtfully keeping out of range of Aya's kicks. He eyed the other end of the bed, where two unused shackles waited to be used. Aya didn't notice where the man's attention was, only noticed that when Taketori took a step towards the opposite headboard it put him in range for a sharp kick to the side. Taketori stumbled and swore. "You little bitch!"

    "I'm going to kill you, Taketori! I will kill you for my parents, for Aya!"

    "That little vegetable of a sister?" Contempt was plain in Taketori's voice.

    Furious, Aya tried to lunge up again. His arms jerked painfully and he couldn't contain a sharp gasp of pain. Taketori grabbed a foot and yanked, pulling it to one of the shackles and snapping it closed. The sound of the lock gave Aya a pause. Taketori smirked. "Touchy about your sister, aren't you?" He sat on the bed beside Aya, reaching for the redhead's other foot. Aya moved it out of reach. When Taketori leaned for it he kicked fiercely. His opponent was almost too slow bringing up an arm as a shield. Though the kick didn't render him unconscious- or kill him, like Aya desired- it did send his heavy body toppling off the bed.

    The man was on his feet quicker than Aya would have thought possible, grabbing Aya's leg by the thigh and yanking it harshly. He snapped the remaining shackle over it, and, breathing heavily, sat down again beside Aya. He turned a triumphant smirk on the infuriated Weiß that made a feeling of strong revulsion curl within Aya's stomach.

    "Let the games begin, then," Taketori said smugly.

Part 9