Part Four: Division
Tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be
He woke up extremely disoriented.
His first thought was that he was indoors. His second was that he didn't recognize the room he was in. His head was pounding with a massive headache and he reached up to rub at his forehead, using his other hand to push himself gingerly into a sitting position. He was in a lounge, sitting on an ash gray couch. Matching chairs were around the room, and a low table was in front of him. Across from him was an entertainment center, a large wooden stand with a television set and some movies. Some expensive looking painting hung above the television, and a small stand in the corner had a potted plant on it. To each end of the couch was a small coffee table, each supporting a lamp and with small stacks of magazines. The overhead light was off and the curtains were drawn, leaving the room dim.
After debating over whether or not his head would fall off his neck if he moved, he stood up from the couch. Careful steps brought him out of the room and he made a careful exploration. He didn't have a clue where he was. Careful inspection showed that three rooms were locked and the fourth opened into a lightly messy bedroom. The room was devoid of any decorations but it did have a stereo and computer. He found a bathroom and two closets, and decently sized kitchen with a bar counter acting as a table. He found his shoes at the front door, neatly set by the entrance.
He didn't find any people.
He found himself back in the lounge again and he moved over to the window, pulling aside the curtain to peek out. He was in a neighborhood, and past the nearby houses he could see tall buildings in the background. It must be a suburb of Tokyo, but where exactly, he didn't know. Nor did he know whose it was, or what he was doing here. He struggled to remember what had happened, and after a few moments realized the last thing he could remember was latching onto a tree for balance as the world crackled black around him. He must have passed out, and someone brought him here.
Whoever it had been, they were gone again. He considered leaving as well, letting the curtain fall back into place. There was nothing saying he had to stay, nothing saying whoever had brought him here expected him to still be here when they got back. He debated over it for a while before realizing that his exploration of the one floor house had worn him out. He was exhausted. Thinking that he could just take a short nap and leave after he woke up, he made his way back to the couch and stretched out again.
It took only moments before he was out.
When he woke up there were voices, and it took him just a few moments to recognize them. The second it slammed home who he was hearing he leapt off the couch, but the rush of dizziness at the abrupt lurch to his feet had him stumbling against the coffee table. He cracked his shin painfully against it and clutched at the injured limb, turning a murderous look on the table.
Two seconds later Schuldich was sprawling against the doorway to the den, a lazy smirk and hooded blue eyes observing the youth with amusement. "Good morning," he drawled. "It's about time you woke up."
"What am I doing here?" he wanted to know, releasing his leg to straighten, his chin lifting defiantly as blue eyes glared across the room at the German.
Schuldich gave a careless shrug of his shoulder. "Stumbled across you in the park. Figured the entertainment factor was worth lugging your heavy hide here." He beckoned for Omi to follow and vanished from the doorway.
As if he would follow! He knew from his earlier exploration where the door was, surely he could make it there.
/And escape to where?/ Schuldich asked, his voice sliding easily against Omi's thoughts. /Back to the flower shop?/
That brought him up short. Ken's face danced in front of Omi's eyes and his fingers strayed unbidden to his arms, running over the sleeves of his shirt as if he could feel the scars through the material. He stood where he was for a minute longer, debating his options, debating what he could and wanted to do. In the end he realized that he had nowhere else to go. Leaving meant Weiss would find him, and then they'd know and he'd have to deal with them.
Besides, hadn't he been looking for Schuldich?
It almost amused him, how suicidal he'd become these last few months.
He stepped out of the den, doing a small search to find the telepath. He found all four of Schwarz eating breakfast at the bar in the kitchen. Save for Schuldich, the other three didn't look up at his entrance. The German glanced towards Omi and gave a small jerk of his head towards the fridge. He didn't stop shoveling food in his mouth to send a small order to the youngest Weiss. /I'm thirsty. Get the juice out./
"Why should I?" he wanted to know.
Schuldich offered him a lazy smirk, going back to his food. He nudged Farfarello, tilting his head to one side. Farfarello flicked the German a look and snorted, a soft response to whatever the telepath had sent him mentally. Omi lingered in the doorway, wondering what to do. At long last he started across the room, pulling the fridge open to find the juice pitcher. Schwarz had picked him up at the park… For what reason? It wasn't like they needed him for intelligence. Schuldich's gift could be used on any of them; they didn't need to capture one of Weiss to figure out what was going on with the group.
He plunked the juice down in front of Schuldich and the German lifted his eyes from his food, dark and light blue locking and holding. The other three of Schwarz finally stopped in what they were doing to turn considering looks on Omi. Omi glanced around at them, fighting to force his nervousness away. He couldn't read anything on their faces. Ken was an open book ninety-nine percent of the time. Yohji could school his expressions but needed sunglasses to help hide his eyes. Aya's body language gave him away when he was wearing an impassive mask.
But these four…
Crawford's expression was serene, his eyes calm behind his glasses. Nagi, sitting to his right, had a stony edge to his face and an identical glint to his eyes. Schuldich's face was the familiar mask of a smirk and cold eyes, and Farfarello's expression was smooth. They were expressions without any thoughts behind them; he couldn't tell from looking at any of them what they thought about him being here. He couldn't guess at the reasons.
Schuldich glanced Crawford's direction; honey brown eyes flicked towards the German in return. Nagi continued to gaze at Omi and Omi found himself returning the stare because it was either Nagi or Farfarello and Nagi was the obvious better choice. The other assassin said nothing, merely staring at him in silence. At last Crawford and Schuldich broke their own little staring contest, and the American finished off his coffee before rising from his spot. He came around the counter to put his dishes in the sink and Omi forced himself not to retreat at the older assassin's close proximity, planting himself in place as the precognitive moved around him. And then Crawford was gone, and it was just him and three of them.
"Hungry?" Schuldich asked.
"No," Omi answered.
Schuldich's eyes were amused. "Liar," he accused easily, and went back to his breakfast.
Omi watched him eat for a moment, realizing that he was, indeed, very hungry. He forced that aside, irritated that the telepath was right, and closed his hands on the edge of the counter. He stood right across from Schuldich, frowning at the man. "What am I doing here?" he asked.
"At the moment, standing and talking." Schuldich set down his chopsticks and reached for the juice pitcher. Omi plucked it up and moved it out of the German's reach, turning a quelling look on the older man. It didn't bother Schuldich in the least; he just seemed more amused by the action. He shrugged and went back to eating. Omi watched them for a few more minutes. He'd been dismissed by all three as they finished up their meals. At length he got tired of holding the pitcher and put it back, and Schuldich poured himself a glass from it.
Omi left the room, wandering back towards the den. He stood in the doorway, staring in for a long moment, wondering what to do now. In the end he decided it was a stupid question, and he made his way towards the front door. He'd tried so hard to find Schuldich, but now he didn't have the energy to give him a piece of his mind. And without that speech, there was no reason for him to be here. He didn't want anything to do with Schwarz. He wanted to be left alone.
His shoes were where he had seen them the day before, resting alongside four other pairs. He slipped into his, wondering if they were going to stop him even as he realized they had no reason to. With one last, almost curious look towards Schwarz's shoes, he turned the knob and stepped outside. He contemplated leaving the door open but habit made him shut it, and he wandered down the driveway. There were two cars there, both nice, and he studied them with idle curiosity as he passed. Then he was in the street, and he picked a direction to start walking.
This was a bit more extreme than being lost wandering the actual city itself, but he managed to find a little old lady tending to her garden and asked her where the closest subway station was. She gave him directions, told him that it was about a twenty-five minute walk, and wished him well. He turned his feet the way she had indicated and was off, hands in his pockets as he set off.
He didn't really know where he was going. It wasn't like he could go back to the shop after yesterday evening. Well, he could, but he wasn't sure he wanted to. He knew what confrontation was waiting for him back there and he didn't think he had the energy to deal with it. But what was he to do? He couldn't *not* go back to the shop. That was where he lived. He had a job, and a team that he killed with. His things were there, and if he didn't go back, Kritiker would hunt him down.
If only he had been paying a bit more attention yesterday, and hadn't fallen off that damn counter. By now Aya and Yohji would have wrestled out of Ken what had bothered him so badly, and they were going to want to talk to him about it. Who wanted to talk? Words cured nothing; they were just words.
But he had nowhere else to go, so he caught the next train and headed back to the Koneko. His steps were heavy and as he drew closer, he pulled his hands from his pockets to fold his arms tightly over his chest. He wasn't sure if it was for protection or in a show of defiance. He looped around back of the shop and even slipped out of his shoes to take the stairs in his socks, hoping not to alert anyone that he was home. He let himself into his room and closed the door silently behind himself. He put the lock into place carefully, though it wasn't like the click of it would suddenly alert the entire building to his return.
After standing at the foot of his bed wondering what to do, he finally took a shower and got dressed in clean clothes. His next course of action was to feed himself, but he realized his cabinets were empty. He hadn't been doing a good job of keeping them stocked these last few weeks. He considered ignoring his hunger but it gave him an excuse to leave again, so he let himself out of his apartment.
That's where his luck died, because Yohji was smoking on the landing. Omi stilled with his door open, coming to a halt in his doorway. Eating had definitely not been his best choice of action.
"Hey," Yohji greeted, after almost two full minutes of silence between them.
Omi didn't return it. Yohji stubbed his cigarette out on the railing and flicked the butt over the side without taking his gaze from Omi. He seemed a little uncertain of what to do- of how to act.
Things weren't going to be the same again, Omi realized. The way his teammates viewed him and treated him would never be the same. Everything had changed the moment Ken had seen those scars. Funny how he'd longed to get away from the shop and his life and his team for so long, and now the realization that he'd lost something very important with them made his heart clench.
"Can we talk?" Yohji asked at length.
"I'm on my way to find breakfast," Omi told him.
"I just got back from buying something," the oldest Weiss answered, and after just a moment's hesitation, added, "Please, Omi?"
Omi hesitated, wondering if he should just go back inside and shut the door again. But he couldn't hide forever. That didn't mean he had to talk now, but staring up at his teammate, he wondered if the next time around he would be so lucky. He couldn't talk to Ken, because Ken would never really understand. The older assassin tried hard, but there were some things that he would never get. And Omi *wouldn't* talk to Aya, because he didn't know what he would say if it was the redhead that wanted him to explain himself.
He tried to calm his racing heart, tried to keep his expression from giving himself away, and stepped out of his room. He pulled the door shut behind him and followed Yohji silently to the other's apartment. He didn't spend a lot of time in his teammates' apartments. They saw enough of each other without invading on each other's private time. They worked together, lived as neighbors, and killed together. They needed a break from each other in order to survive each other. It had been a while since Omi had last been here but it hadn't changed much, and heavy in the air was the scent of food. Yohji gestured for Omi to continue on towards the loveseat resting beside his bed, making a small stop at the counter to gather the food.
It was take out from a very popular breakfast place, somewhere Omi didn't eat often because it was always crowded. Yohji had two dishes with him, one for each of them, and he reached out to accept the one his teammate was offering him. If he wasn't so nervous about this, he'd be really appreciative of what he was being handed. As his fingers closed on the container, he felt Yohji hesitate before letting go. Blue eyes slid up to lock with green and he saw that the other man's expression was sincere.
"You can leave," Yohji told him, "when you want. I'm not making you stay. I just want to talk, but you don't have to say anything that you don't want to."
Omi felt his throat tighten, knowing that it was a genuine offer, knowing that he wouldn't have gotten it from the others. Ken wouldn't know when to stop pressing and Aya wouldn't have thought to make that clear. Yohji had brought Omi here because it was Yohji's place. It meant he could leave and wouldn't have to fight to throw the other man out when things got awkward.
They ate their food first, and Yohji filled the time with idle chit chat. He was good at that- talking when no one else knew what to say. Omi was sure it was a necessary skill when dating so many people, as he had to keep them entertained. Omi felt himself relaxing as he allowed Yohji to amuse him with his words, but even though they both lingered over their food it was gone too quickly. Yohji cleared the dishes away and came back, seating himself on his bed. He looked towards Omi, hesitating, as if silently asking if it was all right to talk now.
Omi contemplated saying no, debated whether or not he should just walk out now. But he took a deep breath to calm his nerves, and nodded.
To be honest, Omi felt much better after talking to Yohji. The man was good at reading Omi, hearing the hesitance that meant he didn't want to answer, and he usually would switch questions before Omi had to tell him to back off. And the times Omi did say he didn't want to talk about it or he didn't want to say more, or even just shook his head, Yohji accepted it immediately and without question. They talked for an hour and Omi felt worlds better afterwards, so that when he finally stood up to go and Yohji stood up to walk him to the door, he found himself buried against his oldest teammate without knowing he was moving. It was short but it was tight, an apology and a thank you at the same time. Yohji returned it, an equally tight squeeze, and then Omi was gone. He walked himself back to his room in a good mood, content with the conversation. He hadn't said everything, but he'd said enough that he thought Yohji understood.
They hadn't decided yet where to go from here. Yohji hadn't moved on to that, wanting instead to make sure that he knew what was wrong and wanting Omi to just get what he needed to off his chest. Now the oldest Weiss was going to think on it, and then they would figure something out. Omi wasn't really sure what he needed, wasn't sure what it would take for things to be normal again. Even after talking to his teammate, he wasn't sure if it could be normal again. Things had changed. Who he was had changed, and he couldn't go back. And the way Weiss treated him would change- had already changed.
But for the first time in months, he felt the edges of optimism about his situation.
It all came crashing down on him just a few hours later.
He wasn't really sure what drove him to go to the shop. It wasn't like he had anything to say to Ken and Aya. He knew they must have elected Yohji to be the one to approach him- the smartest decision they'd ever made in their lives- and he figured by now the older man had probably summed everything up pretty well.
He let himself into the back entrance of the shop and crossed the storage room towards the door. It was propped open by a bag of soil. They didn't want to start using the air conditioner yet so instead left the front doors open and propped the back open as well to let the outside air circulate. As he approached the door he could hear his teammates' voices, and he realized they were talking about him. Curiosity made him stop before he could slip through and join them, and he stood just outside the door to listen.
Curiosity killed the cat.
"-therapy," Yohji was saying. "Perhaps a counselor. Maybe some medicine. He's not in good shape. He's been drugged to the gills on caffeine and his sleep is out of whack, and cutting isn't something that just stops because someone else finds out it's happening. We need to make him see someone."
"Should we tell Kritiker, then?" Ken wanted to know. "There are Kritiker based psychiatrists; Manx would be able to recommend someone. We could arrange it with her and then let you make the suggestion to Omi. He seems to take everything best coming from you."
"It isn't Kritiker's business," came Aya's low voice.
"That's not our Omi," Yohji returned. "That wasn't the Omi we know and love that was talking to me earlier. The things he was saying, Aya… They aren't good. They aren't good for him. He needs to talk to someone."
"Then give him a journal, or give him your ear," was Aya's flat response. "Don't drag Kritiker into this."
"He's as much theirs as ours," Ken pointed out. "Manx has known him for years. She's like his older sister or something. She needs to know."
"Telling the world isn't going to make him better," Aya argued. "It will make things worse, because he'll feel threatened."
"He's upset," Yohji started to say, but Aya didn't let him finish.
"Do you think he'll be less so if you drag him to a shrink?" Aya wanted to know. "Omi doesn't *talk* to people he doesn't trust. He kept this from us for months. He won't tell those things to a stranger because he knows it won't really stay confidential. It will go to Manx and Birman, and what he tells them could get him taken from Weiss."
"What if that's better for him?" Ken demanded. "You should have *told* us when you first started realizing that something was wrong! You knew months before any of us did that something was out of place and you did *nothing*."
Aya had no answer for that, and after a few moments of silence Yohji spoke up again. "Look," he said, voice gentle. "I know you don't like this, but it's for his own good. He's not thinking right, and this- this cutting. It has to stop. It's unhealthy. It's not something healthy people do."
"It's a mistake," Aya said, voice low again, anger edging his words. "You can't help someone unless they want to be helped."
"Who says he doesn't want to be?" Ken asked. "Just watch. We'll arrange things with Manx, Yohji will talk to Omi, and Omi will be grateful for our help. They'll talk to him and he'll be better in no time, back to his normal self. They'll fix him."
"Talk to Omi first."
"Talk- to Omi- first." There was a threat in those words.
Silence fell. Finally someone sighed. "Right. I'll talk to him first."
And there was quiet again, an uneasy silence in the aftermath of an awkward conversation. Omi took a step back, stomach roiling uneasily. Then another step, and another, and he turned around. He went to the back door on silent but quick feet, letting himself out while being careful not to make a sound. He took his shoes off again for the stairs and crept up to his room, locking the door once he was inside and running over to his bed. He threw himself down on the mattress, hugging his pillow to his chest and curling around it. The conversation haunted him; his friends' voices echoed in his ears.
"There are Kritiker based psychiatrists…" "That's not our Omi." "It's not something healthy people do." "He'll be better in no time, back to his normal self. They'll fix him."
The words- hurt.
He wanted his teammates to take them back, but there wasn't anyway that they could. They were the truth. He wasn't healthy. He wasn't the Omi they knew. He wasn't acting normal. But to hear his friends holding that heated conversation… Yohji and Ken wanted Kritiker let in on this, wanted to tell Manx and ship him off to counseling. They wanted him off their hands, wanted him given to someone who would know how to fix him and turn him back into what they wanted him to be. They wanted him sent away to talk to someone who had a medical degree but didn't know him at all, wanted him to spill out all of his problems to a stranger, who would then report it to Manx.
"I'm not sick," he whispered harshly into his pillow. "I'm not a freak. I just wanted to feel. I just wanted an escape. I'm *not* sick. I don't need to be made better again. I just wanted someone to understand…"
And there Aya had been, defending him. In his teammates' eyes, Aya was being uncaring and senseless. What friend would let their friend stay sick, would fight to keep him from getting help?
The only one who really understood…
Aya had *always* understood.
And Omi had hated him for it.
He laughed into his pillow, a bitter sound, and clenched it tighter against him.
Yohji and Ken- they wouldn't understand. He wouldn't be able to make them understand, really. He could tell them he wasn't ready to talk to psychiatrists but they'd ignore that and push him to go. They wanted him to be healthy again- they wanted him to be normal. They didn't want their Omi to be a freak who cut himself and thought strange things. They'd probably confront him tonight about seeking help, taking his talk with Yohji to be a sign that he wanted to go back to what he used to be.
He didn't. He realized that and rolled onto his back, shoving his pillow off to the side. Talking with Yohji didn't mean anything. He'd simply explained his situation. He didn't want them to find him a way out of it. He'd been- happy. Sort of. The cutting helped him put up with his life. It wasn't like he could abandon Weiss and school. What else did he have? So he had his knives to make it bearable, and he'd at least been able to survive. That was fine. He just needed time- more time- to figure things out. To give a shit again. To find his place, and find the desire to do something again.
And time… was not something his teammates were going to want to give him.
He was off of his bed without realizing he was moving, crossing the room towards his dresser. He yanked open the third drawer and shoved his clothes aside, pulling out the small case that held his three knives. He pushed the drawer shut with his foot and opened the top one. It had his money in it, and he shoved the envelope in his pocket. He didn't know where he was going. He didn't know what he planned on doing.
But he wasn't going to sit here and let his team ship him off to Kritiker to be *fixed*.
He was out of his room just a moment later, and he didn't bother locking the door behind himself. He hesitated before heading downstairs, and in the end went to Aya's door. He drew one of his knives out, studied it for a moment, and then set it down in front of the door. He paused just a moment to regard it, and then turned away. He hurried down the steps, fingers clenched around the small case in his hands. He broke into a run as soon as he reached the ground.
Déjà vu… He found his way to the station and took the train to the same stop, heading to the park. He wandered aimlessly up and down the paths for hours, thoughts bitter. It was getting hotter outside, so he finally found a bench to rest on under some shade. He leaned forward, arms resting on his knees, and stared down at the case in his hands.
He really was crazy… He'd run away from home, from school, from his job, from his team, from Kritiker- and the only two things he'd thought to bring with him were his knives and some cash.
First things first… The cash wasn't enough. He pushed himself up and left the park, heading to the nearest ATM. He drew out most of what was in his account, simply because he might need it and he didn't want Kritiker to be able to track his location by his withdrawals. He found room for the case of knives in one of the larger pockets of his baggy pants and shoved his hands and money in his pockets. He stood there outside of the ATM for a few minutes, wondering what he was supposed to do now.
When he turned around, someone was waiting for him.
"Let's go," Schuldich said simply. He turned away and started off, never waiting for a response, never looking back to see if Omi was following.
Omi watched him for a few moments, just stared at his retreating back.
And then he followed.
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