Part Thirteen: Two of Everything


    It didnít stop raining, as much as my team had hoped it would. I close the door to Schuldichís apartment and lean against it for a moment, letting out a soft sigh. My jacket is hanging in my own room at the Koneko in hopes that itíll air dry. I changed back into the clothes I was wearing earlier to return here. Itís almost three in the morning. The mission took longer that it should have, simply because the rain sent two of our targets home early. We had to hunt them down separately, and one of them lived an hour and a half from the production plant.

    As I am untying my shoes, I realize that I can hear something. I wonder who is awake at this timeÖ Nagi, I guess, staying up late since it is Friday. I set my shoes to one side. The sounds of the television are the only thing to greet me; the cats are off somewhere deep asleep by now. I start down the hall, sliding my raincoat off my shoulders as I go. As I pass the den I glance in, and I stop in my tracks. It isnít just Nagi; Schuldich is curled up at the opposite end of the couch from the teenager, and theyíre watching TV together. An open DVD case lies on the cushion between them.

    Nagi doesnít bother looking up, but Schuldich glances my direction before turning his attention back to whateverís going on on the screen. It seems to be a car chase of sorts. I turn away, continuing down the hall. I am glad that it is Friday, even more glad that Ken has morning shift tomorrow with Yohji. I donít have to be at work until my shift starts at 1:30.

    /Donít bother taking your medicine,/ Schuldich says as I stop at the kitchen doorway. /Youíll pass out just the same and youíd be lucky if you woke up in time for your shift if you took it now./

    I accept his words in silence and abandon the kitchen for the bedroom. Tired fingers pry my dark blue sweater off, trading it out for the lighter shirt I sleep in. My socks and slacks are traded out for my sleeping pants, and I drop my clothes in the hamper with a yawn. I rake my hands through my hair as I head to the bed, and I slide between the two blankets. It feels good to lie down; I can feel myself relaxing. I send a weary glance towards my clock, wondering if I should set the alarm just in case. At length I decide not to; if Iím not medicated, I donít think Iíll be able to sleep long enough that I miss my shift. I turn onto my side, gazing at the clock as I relax enough to start falling asleep.

    As Iím starting to drift off, I thinkÖDoesnít Schuldich have work tomorrow? His alarm clock will go off in three and a half hours and heís not asleep yet. Of course, I donít know if he stays up late on a regular basis, as Iím always out cold before he enters the room. I just donít think itís wise of him to be up this late.

    Not that I ever thought he was that intelligentÖ

***

    I donít bother going to bed that night. Nagi is unhappy with me for choosing to stay up, but I didnít feel like going to bed. Now that the movie is over and itís four in the morning, Iím starting to feel tired. But thereís no point in sleeping; if I pass out, I wonít be able to get up when my alarm goes off. When I try to explain this to Nagi, he says I should just get my sleep, show up late, and rewrite a couple minds so my managers think Iíve been there all day. For reasons even I donít entirely understand, I blow off his suggestion.

    Nagi ends up sitting up the next couple hours with me. Even though heís tired, he figures I have a better chance of staying awake if I have company. At four thirty I start a pot of coffee, and by five I have emptied it. Nagi and I end up at the kitchen table, playing Crazy 8ís with a worn pack of cards. Theyíre Farfarelloís; he used to play Solitaire when I was out doing work for Schwarz without him. He didnít like the game much, but once he started playing, it would hold his attention for a while. He was pretty good at winning, too. The few times Iíve played, I end up getting frustrated and just rearranging the deck so I can win.

    Nagi pulls up his shields while we play to keep me from cheating, and we play several rounds to help pass the time. Somewhere along the way I start another pot of coffee, and by the time I am halfway through that I have a nice caffeine buzz. Iím not used to drinking coffee anymore; the last time I had it was that morning I blanked out, and before that it was sometime when Schwarz was whole. I hate the taste of coffee. I like the sweeter blends, like the flavored cappuccinos. Coffee is just too harsh for my tastes. Today, however, I need it, so I drink as much of it as I can stomach. Nagi keeps me from finishing the second pot, probably because my hands are starting to shake on my cards.

    ďItíll fade,Ē I reassure him, picking cards from the deck to try and find a diamond. Five cards later and I am still unsuccessful, and what started as a hand of two is steadily growing. ďDamn, Nagi, do you have all the diamonds?Ē

    ďIf I did, would I tell you?Ē

    I scowl at him and continue digging. Four cards later I find an eight; I toss it out on our messy pile and study my hand, trying to determine what suit to change it to. ďLetís do spades.Ē

    Nagi agrees by setting down a two, and I flip him off to show him my appreciation. Nagi offers me a small smirk in return. ďFeh,Ē I declare, rising from my seat and tossing my hand down on the table. ďItís time to get ready for work.Ē

    ďYouíre just a sore loser,Ē Nagi informs me as he tidies up the cards.

    I wait for him to be finished and take the stack from him. ďSo?Ē I ask, using my foot to shove my chair back under the table. Nagi rises from his own chair, yawning and stretching. His shields melt away; heís glad that itís six fifteen because heís definitely ready for bed. I bap him on the head with the cards as I lead the way out of the kitchen. ďGo to bed and try not to snore, yeah?Ē

    ďI donít snore,Ē Nagi returns, frowning at my back.

    ďShall we call it breathing loudly, then?Ē I ask him, and I get a light kick in my calf as a response. I laugh even as I wince, stopping in my doorway to yawn and wave the cards in farewell. Nagi lifts a hand as he enters his own room, and his door clicks softly shut behind him. I grin to myself as I enter my room. The rubber band for the cards is on my dresser top, and I wrap it around the deck before setting it in the top drawer. I have time for a quick shower, but I am careful not to get my hair wet. If I wash it, itíll be wet all day. Itís not supposed to rain today, but it is supposed to be overcast and cold. I donít want to get sick, so Iíll just have to make sure to wash my hair thoroughly tonight. No oneís going to notice, anyway.

    Thereís a black long-sleeved t-shirt somewhere in my dresser, and I rummage around until I find it. It wonít be warm enough, but sweaters are uncomfortable to work in. I find some faded jeans to wear with it and dress quickly, perching on the end of the bed to pull my socks on. Ran doesnít even stir; heís out cold. I leave him there and wander down the hall. The kittens donít need to be fed; they came and harassed us during the night so their dishes are still mostly full. Whoever wakes up first will have to deal with their hunger, however; by that time they will have finished off every morsel. I make a bet that itíll be RanÖ Nagi wonít get up until after the redhead has already left for work unless something wakes him up.

    And if something doesÖWell, Nagiís a bit of a grouch when heís tired.

    I bring my umbrella to work with me just in case we get a surprise shower, and even after I have reached the harbor and parked I remain in my seat. I rest my head against the back of my seat, gazing out my window at the large building. For now, the caffeine buzz will keep me moving. I wonder how much fun itíll be when it wears off. I wonder why I didnít just follow Nagiís advice and sleep. Maybe Iím developing a work ethic.

    Crawford would probably have a heart attack at the mere idea.

    The thought makes me grin, and I slide my seat belt free. Iím the first one here besides the supervisors this morning, but theyíre not surprised to see me. More often than not Iím in the first three to show up. I change into my coveralls and boots and join them in the main room, making myself comfortable on a crate weíre supposed to ship out this morning. We gaze out at the ocean in silence, studying the dark sky and darker water.

    The other workers drift in, a slow trickle of people. Most of the workers here today are ones that take their weekend on Monday and Tuesday, and some of them comment about me being called in for overtime. Iím not surprised at being asked to come, and neither are they, but they exclaim over it anyway. The supervisors like calling me in when they need overtime workers. They know I need the money, they know I work just as hard as or harder than the others, and Iím a foreigner. I donít really careÖThe more money I can make, the better weíll be.

    By the time the morning shift is supposed to be clocked in at seven, twenty-nine of the weekend full-timers are here. The thirtieth is at home nursing a sprained ankle he got when he fell yesterday. Wonder how that happened.

    I am forced to abandon my perch as we set about rearranging the crates we need. Some were delivered yesterday. A truck is supposed to come at seven fifteen with the rest of our boxes, and the boat will be here by seven forty-five. The boxes are brought closer to where the ramp will be, kept far enough back from the edge that they wonít get wet but close enough that we wonít have to lug them a long way later. By the time we have finished that, the supervisor is calling that our truck is here. The gate on the southern wall is rolled open and the truck backs in a few feet. The drivers open the back for us and roll down the ramp before going to discuss the delivery with our supervisors. While they stand around and chit chat about this amount and that weight, the rest of us wander up and down the ramp and fight each other for the lighter boxes.

    Some prefer to work in silence; the rest of us ramble about this and that. Akasuko wonders if itís going to rain. Yamamoto thinks that itís too cold. Tsukasa is lamenting about how unkind his wife is being. I listen to them simply because it is something to do, dropping a sly comment here and there when I can. Tsukasa is the easiest to pick on this morning, though he protests me poking fun at him. Supposedly he thinks this business with his wife is serious. I ignore his words, knowing from his thoughts that itís a little thing and it will blow over soon.

    The morning passes quickly and easily; it isnít until three that I start feeling the lack of sleep. Iíve gone without a nightís rest before, but that was back when I was with Schwarz and I wasnít doing so much physical labor. Most of my work for Schwarz was mental, so I could afford to go without rest. Now itís a different story, and I yawn as I watch our next boat approach. I suppose I should be grateful that weíre so busyÖIf we were dead, Iíd probably pass out somewhere and get woken by an annoyed supervisor. Besides, the rush of the work is what keeps me awake.

    Iíd better get some good sleep tonight, thoughÖMy next day off isnít for another week, and if I spend that week tired, wellÖIím even worse than Nagi when Iím tired.

    By the time I clock out, itís hard to stop yawning. Iím completely worn outÖThe morning was busy because we were constantly having to ship things out and pull things in, taking things off trucks to put onto boats and then taking things off other boats to put on other trucks. We only had one boat in the afternoon; we spent the rest of the time cleaning everything up: washing the floors, washing the rubber mats, straightening the storage rooms, and even tidying the parking lot. My lunch break was the only time I wasnít on my feet, and I can feel it when I climb into my car. With a weary sigh, I turn the key in the engine and pull out of the parking lot. I tag onto Nagiís and Ranís thoughts to help keep me awake on the drive back. The bonds Iíve strung between us are always there; I just push them into the background for while I work. Now I bring them to the front, and their thoughts wash over each other. Ranís override Nagiís; his mental voice is just louder than my ex-teammateís.

    Ran is still at work. He generally gets back later when heís on clean up with Hidaka, so he probably wonít leave the shop for another fifteen minutes. Nagi is doing his laundry; heís been awake less than six hours. I donít doubt that heíll be able to fall asleep tonight, however. I donít think Nagiís ever had a restless nightÖHe can practically fall asleep at will. Iíve never understood how he does it, though I am very jealous of it.

    I let myself into the apartment amidst the cheering of six cats. I wade through them to check on their food dishes, hoping to see them filled and relieved when they are. ďHello, yes, Iím very happy to see you, yes, get out of my way, Zwei, you bite me again and it wonít be an accident when I step on youÖĒ I manage to make it into the den without tripping over one of them and breaking my neck, and as soon as I sit on the couch they immediately make themselves comfortable around me. Zwei is up on the back of the couch, a perfect perch for him to start chewing on my hair. Eins is in my lap and FŁnf settles himself against my thigh. Drei is rubbing his head against my sock in place of me petting him. Sechs rises onto his hind feet to get a look at my lap, wondering if he can fit, and finally decides that he can squeeze in somewhere. Eins isnít pleased to share, but she moves aside when he leaps up beside her, if only because heís stepping all over her to try and find a comfortable spot. Vier takes the arm of the chair, peers at my face, peers at the other cats, and settles down where he is.

    I reach for the remote, thinking perhaps to watch some TV to keep myself awake, but I have to reach over FŁnf to get it and he leaps to his feet, thinking Iím going to pet him. Not wanting to get the rest started, I tuck my hand back in my lap instead. He looks a bit miffed and resettles himself sulkily.

    ďDonít start with me,Ē I tell him, a yawn riding the end of my words. My gaze drifts around the room before settling on the two cats who have already managed to fall asleep in my lap. It would be all right if I closed my eyes, right? Just for a secondÖ

    And a second turns into hours. When I wake again, the apartment is dark and the clock on top of the TV stand reads it to be a quarter to four. The only cat still around me is Eins; the others have wandered to other spots to resume napping or to play with each other. I yawn, lifting a hand to rub at my eyes. Did I really just sleep eight hours? Hm. Nagi let me sleep through dinner; he probably didnít want to deal with me if he woke me up. I probably would have kicked him if he tried.

    I wonder what to do now. I could try to go back to sleep for another two hours, or I could count them as lost and just stay up. In the end I search out the remote and begin channel surfing.

    Amazing how a nap and two lost hours can really fuck a week over.

***

    The week is not going well. I have managed to get sick, something rare for me, so I am not in the best of moods. Omi is sick as well. Heís got a fever, so he cannot take any of his shifts. The rest of us have to rotate around to cover for him. I end up giving up my free day of the week and stay the whole day, as Yohji had been putting in the most hours to help compensate for Omiís absence. Usually Omi comes in halfway through the afternoon shift and relieves whoever has been around since the morning, and he has afternoon on weekends unless he has a big school project due. We are already guessing that heís not going to get better by the weekend. Even if he does, heíll need days to rest. He refuses to stay home from school, and his stubborn attitude towards it isnít helping him get better. He doesnít want to get behind in his classes, not with the winter finals coming up.

    I am unhappy being sick, and the three of us are unhappy at working more hours. It doesnít get any better when I return to Schuldichís apartment- not that I expected it to- because Schuldich is also grouchy this week. He has not been in bed in the morning since Sunday. His late night stunt on Friday has messed up his sleeping hours. He hasnít had dinner since then because he is sleeping through it, and he has been awake for hours by the time my alarm goes off at six fifteen and I get out of bed. I find him either in the middle of a movie or playing Solitaire at the table. The change in his sleeping schedule and the fact that he has not had a day off in a week and a half makes him irritable. Nagi tried once to wake him up in the evening so Schuldich could get back on a normal schedule, and the German bit his head off for being woken up. It didnít seem to intimidate Nagi; the boy argued right back. When Schuldich couldnít get any peace he was forced to get up, but he didnít touch his dinner and he went right back to sleep as soon as Nagi and I were finished. Heís been sleeping on the couch. I donít know why, but I donít care. I havenít been taking my medicine, and Schuldich isnít around to handcuff me to his bed frame. If I werenít sick and if Schuldichís comments didnít have a sharper edge than amusement, I might be almost content with the night changes.

    As it is, we have been sending quite a few dark words at each other this week. Weíre both frazzled and we stay out of each otherís way even more carefully now. The physical distance doesnít stop us from sending mental stabs at each other, however, and I think Nagi is almost content to let Schuldich sleep through dinner if it means he doesnít have to listen to us.

    I have the afternoon shift off today; itís the only shift I have off this week. Itís raining again, and Iím content to curl up with a book somewhere. Iím tired of sitting in my corner, however, and I donít want to read in bed. I canít go to the den because Nagi is there. I pull my book off the shelf on the nightstand and look around, wondering where I can go. My choices in this apartment are limited.

    At length my eyes settle on the second dresser where it rests under the window. I cross the room to it and reach out, pulling the curtains open to gaze out at the gray sky and the raindrops that slide down the glass. Itís a light shower today; I would have thought it would be raining harder considering how dark the clouds are. After another momentís thought, I lift myself onto the dresser top. It makes a nice perch, and I cross my legs, leaning back to rest my shoulder blades against the glass. Iím wearing a light sweater and I can feel the chill from the window seeping through my shirt. I was going to wear my orange sweater today, as itís the warmest shirt I own, but I couldnít find it this morning. I have just decided I need to get up and get another shirt, as I cannot get comfortable when it feels like someone is holding an ice pack to my spine, when I remember that Iím sitting on a dresser.

    Why get another one of my shirts dirty when his are right here? I set my book aside and lean forward, one hand on the top of the dresser for balance as the other seeks out the handle to the drawers. I open the top one first and pause, staring in with some surprise. Resting on top of all the folded clothes are white bottles- the bottles Schuldich snatched away from me when I was going to take my shower here. I frown down at them; I had forgotten about them. I wonder why he was so possessive of themÖThey arenít his. His are still in the bathroom. Maybe itís an expensive brand that he uses once in a while for such long hair.

    Maybe itís dye, I think snidely.

    I pluck up one bottle and open it, squeezing it just enough that a little drop appears on the top. Iíve smelled hair dye before- my mother grayed early and dyed her hair to cover the silver streaks- and this doesnít have the harsh stench. It has a light scent that I canít identify, a scent coming from the mix of ingredients. I wonder what is in it and what it is used for, but there is no label. I close it and set it back where I found it, checking out the others to see if there is any clue there. None.

    I suppose it doesnít matter. The shirts in this drawer arenít what Iím looking for, anyway. Thereís something white with long sleeves but it looks like the wrong kind of material. I push the drawer closed, leaning further over to pull open the second.

    On top are the drab t-shirts I saw the first time I rummaged through this dresser. If the third drawer is used for pants- as one of these drawers must- then perhaps there are sweaters under the short-sleeved shirts. I dig around, moving the shirts this way and that. Finally I feel soft wool, and I give it a tug to pull it free.

    Shirts scatter on the ground even as I am successful in retrieving a gray sweater. I look down at the mess, wondering if I can leave it there or if Schuldich will just throw a fit. Heís been snapping a lot more this week, after all, and I am getting sick of his sharp temper. I donít know how to react to it- I never saw him angry when we met on the field. He was always self assured and amused. This week his eyes warn everyone to stay away before something just breaks and he goes on a rampage. One part of me is dead curious to see what he would be like furious- the suicidal part of me, I suppose- while the rest thinks itís probably something I want to avoid.

    I guess that means Iím to clean. I tug on the sweater, pulling it into place. It fits me perfectly, clinging to my form, and I wonder how it would fit on Schuldich if it is snug on me. Maybe this dresser is for the clothes he has outgrown. Who knows? I shrug to myself, slide off the dresser, and begin picking the shirts back up.

    The third shirt is blue, and it is a vest.

    And it isÖdefinitely not Schuldichís.

    I recognize this vest.

    I lift it up, letting it dangle in my hands, and stare at it. This is Farfarelloís shirt. This is the shirt he always wore. I could place it anywhere; the image of that madman is forever burned into my memory. Schuldich wouldnít own an identical shirt as that freak, so this has to be the original. But where is its owner? I had decided that Crawford and Farfarello do not live here. If Farfarello lives elsewhere, then why is his shirt here? I eye the dresser. Is this all Schuldichís, or is his second dresser really Farfarelloís dresser? I set his vest down and pick up another shirt, letting it hang so I can see it. Itís a smaller shirt than Schuldichís; these clothes are meant for someone with a slighter build. If theyíre not Schuldichís old clothes, and I canít see him keeping a whole dresser of things he has outgrown, then they have to be Farfarelloís.

    But why would the Irishmanís clothes be here? Why arenít they with Farfarello? Why are they in Schuldichís room? For them to be here, it means Farfarello lived in this apartment at one point. Maybe the next bedroom was his, and Crawford was the one who didnít live here. NoÖThat one still has a dresser. Why does Schuldichís room have the dresser? The room is too cramped for it- it already has the large bed and two night standsÖ

    Ö

    I look over my shoulder. There is two of everythingÖEverything except the bed. I wondered why there were two alarm clocks- what would one person need with two? And two dressersÖThis room is outfitted for two people. But thereís only one bed; thatís the catch. All rightÖMaybe Schuldich sleeps through one alarm regularly so he needs a second one.

    But it makes more sense that there would be two people. Except for the bed mess. I canít figure that out.

    Schwarz was rich enough that I canít see them inconveniencing themselves to share rooms. If they could afford this type of apartment, surely they could have found one with another bedroom so no one would have to share. But maybe Farfarello was moved in with Schuldich so the telepath could keep an eye on him? Someone that deranged would need a caretaker. And if Farfarello lived in here with Schuldich, then the other bedroom really could have been Crawfordís.

    But where is Crawford? His drawers were emptyÖSo he moved out. Schuldich said Schwarz is gone. Nagi has moved on to college and Schuldich has moved on to who knows what, so Crawford took his things and left. Farfarello left as well, but he left his things behind. That doesnít make much sense, though. Even if I tell myself that he might not really care about his clothes, I donít see him forgetting to take his vest. What would he wear if not this? I mean, he was in a suit when we fought at the tower, but I canít see him just wandering Tokyo in such a thing. Besides, it probably got torn up in the fall. Again, not that he would care about the state of his clothes...

    Would Schwarz really let Farfarello out of their sight? Do they just not care enough that they would let someone like him go free? If everyone moves on to something else, what would there be for him? I saw his eye; I saw that mad, gleeful shine. If he moves on, it needs to be an asylum.

    Of course. Maybe thatís it. Maybe they locked him up so they could move on. He wouldnít need his clothes, as the place would provide him with his own outfit. But Kritiker would have told us if he had been caught or turned into custody, unless he was locked away in an underground ward that they donít know of.

    But I suppose it is safe to assume now that Schuldich and Farfarello shared this room. How they survived if they had to share a bed, I donít know. Maybe Farfarello got drugged and locked up every night as well, to keep him from ripping Schuldichís throat out in his sleep. Someone like him might not have cared for the lives of his teammates, depending on how far down the road to madness he was. So perhaps things were like they are now.

    ExceptÖ

    ÖExcept if I wake up before Schuldich, the German is wrapped around my waist. He said he hates me; when I declared my feelings for him he admitted they were mutual. If he hates me, why would he bother making me stay in his bed? Why would he end up holding me in his sleep? If he does it in his sleep, does that mean itís a habit of his? But how could it be a habit if the one in this bed before me was Farfarello? Wouldnít the Irishman have killed him for such a thing, like I long to do now? Or did he not understand enough to care? And why would Schuldich ever touch Farfarello in the first place?

    The questions and possible answers are becoming too bizarre, too surreal.

    ďYouíre going mad,Ē I inform myself. ďStop thinking about it.Ē I donít want to think about it anymore. Perhaps there are some answers that no one wants to find out. I tuck the rest of the shirts back in the door and slide it shut. If these really are Farfarelloís clothes, that means this is his sweater Iím wearing now. I lift my arms, eyeing the soft silver wool. It couldnít be Farfarelloís. He would never wear a shirt like this. Right? Itís too nice to belong to him.

    And even if it was hisÖthe window is cold and I have nothing else to protect me. Iím sick; I need to keep warm. I just have to pray that these were all washed thoroughly before being put away. I take a deep breath, forcing my questions away. I want answers, but I wonder if I would get any if I were to ask. Schuldich does not seem to be in a very informative mood this week, and since Nagi has only ever said one sentence to me, heís not the person to go to. I suppose Iíll have to wait and see. With Schuldichís temper fraying, maybe I can goad him into giving me answers.

    I have to be satisfied with that for now; Schuldich will not be back for several more hours. I jump back up onto the dresser, leaning against the window once more and noting with some satisfaction that the sweater is perfect. I pick up my book, flip to the page I left off on, and lose myself between the lines of printed words.


Part 14
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