Part Eight: Crash
This shattered dream you cannot justify
We're gonna scream until we're satisfied
What are we running for?
We've got the right to be angry
Schwarz’s client worked in the corner office on the twenty-third floor of a glass building. The man in question was sitting behind his desk, slouched low in his chair as he argued on the phone. One hand was furiously scratching out circles on a piece of paper while the other held the phone near his ear, and he was glowering at the door across the room. Farfarello had made himself comfortable in one of the chairs across from the desk and Schuldich had propped himself against it with his back to the two. Omi stood away from the small group, keeping close to the wall of windows and staring out at the evening sky.
The light was just right that Omi could see his reflection on the glass. He was dressed in one of Nagi’s business suits, and a blue gaze considered the way it sat on him. It had been a fight to get the other youth to loan him the suit, but Schuldich had won- of course. Nagi had three that Omi had seen in his closet, two that were white and one that was black. It was obvious that the outfits had been tailored for the telekinetic specifically but they were close enough in size that it fit fine enough. He wasn’t used to wearing such clothes but it wasn’t the first time he’d been required to dress up for an event or a mission.
This mission- rather, “job”, as Schuldich kept calling it- was unusual from the ones Weiß were used to dealing with. The white unit had been put together for the sole purpose of seeking justice through spilled blood. That was it. Others put together missions and found justification for death and Weiß acted out on it as the hammer of justice. It had not really occurred to them that Schwarz did anything different, but this day had been an eye opener. A pity, then, that Omi wasn’t ever going back to Weiß to tell them about it.
They had left midmorning, almost eleven hours ago now, and had followed Takehito Yuu to his late morning meetings. There was an expensive catered lunch that followed, and then an afternoon conference that stretched on for four hours. Omi wasn’t sure what they had talked about; he’d allowed himself to space out the entire time. Schuldich and Farfarello had let him do as he pleased, not trying to provoke him out of his daylong silence.
At last they’d retired to Takehito’s private offices, where he’d hashed over the conference with his board of advisors before sending them home in disgust. As far as Omi knew, the four of them were the only ones left in the building. He wasn’t sure what they were waiting for and wasn’t entirely sure what the point of Schwarz’s presence had been; it had been a dull day.
Their client ended the phone call with a few more savage words and slammed the receiver down on its cradle. “Useless!” he snarled. “Absolutely useless!”
“That was Morimoto?” Schuldich asked. The sound of his voice was enough that Omi stopped staring at his reflection and looked across the room towards them. Schuldich hadn’t had much to say that day, though Omi doubted the quiet had extended to his mental gift. Schuldich just didn’t seem the kind of person who could sit still and be quiet for an hour, much less a day.
“That little fuck has just pulled our contract,” Takehito said, pushing himself to his feet and slamming his fists down on his desk. “He can’t do this! I need his support! I need his money to expand this company!”
Schuldich glanced over his shoulder, but his eyes went to Farfarello, not Takehito. Omi doubted the client noticed, but to him, it was a significant difference. The telepath pushed himself away from the chair and came around it. Hands lifted to brush his orange hair out of his face and he linked his fingers together behind his neck. “Did he say why?” he wanted to know, moving pasted Takehito to consider the view. Their client picked up his paper and started to crumple it into a tight ball. Farfarello shifted in his chair, turning as if about to slide off of it.
“Supposedly he’s found something better to invest in,” Takehito said with a sneer. “Some other company- he wouldn’t say the name. I want you to go over there and-“
There was a flicker of light reflecting off a blade and Takehito cut himself off as a knife suddenly sprouted from his abdomen. He stared down at it in shock and Omi looked over at Farfarello, whose hand was still out from the throw. The Irishman pushed himself up from his spot at about the same time Takehito’s shock wore off and he lifted a wide-eyed gaze to the Irishman.
“You…” he started. “You *fuck*…”
There was another flash; Schuldich spun in a liquid move and rammed a knife through Takehito’s back. Blood splashed across the desk as the blade came through the man’s stomach; Omi couldn’t hear the liquid squelch over the businessman’s scream. He made as if to run and Schuldich hit him across the back of his head to drive him to his knees. A bloody hand made a grab for the desk and Omi realized he was going for a hidden gun. Farfarello reached over the desk and caught his wrist, and there was a loud crackle of breaking bones as the Irishman gave his hand a savage wrench.
Takehito screamed again and Schuldich drove his boot down onto his shoulder, crushing him against the floor. The man was wailing, a garbled, pathetic cry for his life and a reason for this sudden betrayal.
“Schwarz has decided that we do not need you anymore,” Schuldich said, speaking up to be heard over the noise. Blue eyes were cold and the smirk on his face was vicious. Farfarello pressed a hand against the blood on the desk and smeared it with a push of his hand. “You’re useless to us, and therefore, useless to society. We’re glad to hear that Morimoto has taken our proposal and switched his funding elsewhere; he wasn’t sure he should invest in our projects, especially not with you in the way to stop and threaten him. We promised we’d take you out of the deal. Generous of us, isn’t it?”
“I don’t- I don’t-“ was the wailing from the floor, and Schuldich pressed down harder with his foot, ignoring the shriek of pain that resulted.
“We’d like to take a moment and thank you for today’s hard work. We’d hate for you to think it wasn’t appreciated. But you’ve outlived your usefulness, so you’re going to have to go.”
He moved his foot and reached down, grabbing Takehito by his hair. Omi watched as the German hauled him to his feet, and the man grabbed at his desk with his good hand, slamming the flat of his palm against the wood beneath his drawer. Farfarello caught that hand and broke it two, and the howl the man made was almost too loud.
The two of Schwarz ignored his attempts to get free, each holding him by a hand, and Schuldich offered Farfarello a lazy smirk. “Three,” he said, and they both heaved.
Glass shattered like fireworks, shards exploding in every direction as Takehito’s body went slamming into it. He screamed, a high pitched, panicked sound, and he screamed long after he was out of sight. Omi wasn’t in a good enough spot to watch him plummet the twenty-three stories to the sidewalk, but he could hear him the whole way down. Schuldich leaned over to watch out the hole and Omi could see his teeth flash in a grin when the screaming cut off. Farfarello reached out and gave Schuldich’s back a light push as if about to knock him out, and the German jerked back and hit him.
“You’re not funny, asswipe.”
Farfarello just offered him the barest of smirks in response and Schuldich reached out to catch him by his collar, pulling him forward for a kiss.
“That’s disgusting,” Omi said, but he still couldn’t dredge up any emotional reaction to seeing them kiss. He tried before deciding it wasn’t worth the effort and instead looked back out the window. “Are we leaving?”
“Are you bored?” Schuldich wanted to know, stuffing his hands down Farfarello’s back pockets. Omi could see their reflection on the glass; neither was looking his way. Orange hair covered the telepath’s face as he tilted his head down for another kiss, and they were standing close enough together that they seemed as if they were one monstrous creature; the white suits blended together somewhere in the middle of the reflection.
“Someone’s coming,” Farfarello said.
“Hmm?” Schuldich tilted his head to one side in a question. “Ah, so that’s what the little fucker was after…” He let go of Farfarello, leaning over to peer under the desk. “I’m counting seven people. What an insult!”
“Seven is better than none,” was Farfarello’s answer.
“Perhaps. Remember to leave some for me this time, why don’t you?” Schuldich shrugged and they split up, heading to opposite sides of the room. Just a few moments later the door was kicked down, and seven security guards burst in with heavy guns in their hands. Omi realized then that Takehito had been hitting an alarm as Schuldich pulled him to his feet, and he looked from the seven men to the two of Schwarz. The guards took in the room in quick glances, from the window to Omi to the foreigners in either corner. They immediately abandoned the first two, deciding Omi wasn’t a threat, and turned their guns on Schwarz’s middle two.
“Get down on the floor!” one barked out. “Put your hands up where we can see them and get down on the floor!” Schuldich offered them a slow smile, and Omi could hear safeties going off. “I said-“
“I heard you,” Schuldich cut in. “I just chose not to listen. But why don’t *you*…” he lifted his hand, pointing at them, “get down instead?”
It took Omi a moment to figure out what happened. He’d never before seen Schuldich use his gift as a weapon; it had always been reserved for mocking the white team in the past. But there was nothing else it could be; one moment Schuldich was speaking, and the next, the men were screaming and grabbing at their heads. Three hit the floor and didn’t get back up, and Farfarello was already dragging his knives out to take care of the remaining four.
Things didn’t work out the way Schwarz had planned, however. Omi looked from the screaming men back to Schuldich even as Farfarello’s blades hissed out of their sheaths, and his attention was back on the German just in time to see blue eyes go wide. Something shattered on the telepath’s face; the perfect, mocking expression the telepath loved so much broke as the blood drained from his face. His hand flinched back and he lifted his hands to bury them deep in orange hair, seemingly completely forgetting about the guards.
Farfarello went through the guards almost too fast to be humanly possible. Omi had expected him to linger over the fight, but it seemed the Irishman had noticed something was wrong. He ran from his corner to Schuldich’s, cutting straight through the guards and not slowing to watch them hit the ground. He dropped his knives somewhere between them and Schuldich and grabbed at Schuldich’s wrists with his bloody hands.
Schuldich tried to jerk away from him. “No,” the telepath gasped out. “No.”
“Schuldich,” Farfarello said, voice flat. Schuldich’s knees buckled but Farfarello wouldn’t let him fall; he pulled the other man back upright in a rough yank. “Schuldich, look at me.”
Schuldich looked towards Farfarello, but his gaze was unfocused and staring through the Irishman. “No,” he said again, still trying to pull his hands free. “I won’t- Farf, I won’t- Don’t let-"
“Schuldich,” Farfarello said, harder this time, and gave the telepath’s hands a shake. “Schuldich, look at me. *Schuldich*!”
“Farf…?” was the uncertain response, and then the telepath collapsed in a boneless heap.
Omi pushed open the door to the Schwarz household and stood off to one side so Farfarello could get past. The Irishman was carrying his unconscious teammate and he didn’t slow to kick off his shoes as he stepped up into the house. There were dishes clinking in the kitchen but Farfarello had no greeting for whoever was in there, and Omi pushed the door closed and followed after him down the hall. Something shattered in the kitchen as he passed and he glanced that way to see Nagi had been unloading dishes from the dish strainer. Now the telekinetic stood frozen by the sink, hand empty in the air and a cup in pieces by his socked feet.
They hadn’t even made it down to the Schuldich’s bedroom door before Nagi was shoving Omi roughly aside. He followed Farfarello so closely it was a wonder he didn’t step on the man’s heels as they crossed the room to the bed, and the Irishman ignored him in favor of laying Schuldich down on his back. The telepath didn’t look any better now than he had back at Takehito’s building. He was deathly pale and too limp to be healthy. Omi looked from him to the two that hovered above him, from Nagi’s bloodless expression to Farfarello’s stony looks. He wasn’t sure what was going on; he hadn’t asked and he didn’t think they’d tell him, anyway. He’d realized for a moment back at that building that Farfarello would have left him behind if he hadn’t followed after him to the car. The Irishman’s attention was on his teammate and nothing else, and if Omi had just lingered a little too long, he would have been freed from Schwarz.
He wasn’t sure why he had come. It was more than his dislike of Weiss. He had a feeling it had to do with Farfarello’s words to him the previous night, and he wasn’t sure what to think of that. It left a sick feeling in his stomach to think on them, but they haunted his thoughts.
“What did he do?” Nagi demanded sharply. “What did you let him do?!”
Farfarello curled his lip at Nagi in a scornful little expression. “He does as he likes and always has,” he informed the younger man. “You know that.”
Nagi swung at him; Farfarello shoved him neatly aside, sending him crashing to his rear on the ground. Omi half-expected the telekinetic to use his gift on his teammate but no attack came and he just pushed himself up and climbed onto the bed. Farfarello threw him a sharp look that the youth ignored and Nagi reached up, pressing a hand against Schuldich’s forehead. “He’s too cold,” he said, and there was a tightness in his voice that Omi found almost intriguing. He looked up towards Farfarello before spotting Omi standing uselessly in the doorway, and the hate that twisted his expression was tangled with desperation.
“Go to the kitchen and start a pot of water boiling,” he said.
Omi turned obediently and padded down the hall. It didn’t occur to him to ask why or to argue with the younger man on the matter. He didn’t have a problem doing as he was told; he wasn’t sure what was going on and was content to wait it out to see what was happening. There was a pot in the cabinet under the sink and he filled it three quarters full before setting it on the stove and turning the heat all the way up. He found a lid on the third try and left it there to boil before heading down the hall.
A look in the bedroom showed that Farfarello and Nagi were getting Schuldich into what looked to be his third shirt; they had tossed his business jacket off to one side and already had a green t-shirt on over his undershirt. Farfarello was holding Schuldich up while Nagi tugged a sweater on over top. Schuldich’s head was lolled to one side and Omi’s first thought was that he looked dead.
“I’m going to kill him,” Nagi was whispering hoarsely. “I’m going to kill him.”
“Shut up,” Farfarello sent back.
They didn’t seem to need his help, so Omi went back down the hall to the kitchen. He was almost there when the front door opened, and Schwarz’s missing fourth entered. His expression was smooth and he looked straight past Omi down the hall. He let the bags he was carrying drop to the ground and he strode down towards the bedroom, neatly sidestepping Weiss’s youngest.
“Crawford,” Nagi said as Crawford entered the room, and it sounded more like a plea than a greeting.
The pot didn’t seem to be any warmer when Omi checked on it, not like he expected it to be. He tugged open a drawer to find dish towels and soaked them in the sink before stuffing them in the microwave and turning it on. It took only thirty seconds before they were almost too hot to touch and he carried them down the hall towards the bedroom. Farfarello had taken Nagi’s spot on the bed, sitting cross legged beside Schuldich’s limp form, and Crawford was leaning over to check the telepath’s eyes. Nagi was standing at the end of the bed, hands clenched around Schuldich’s shoes.
Omi moved up alongside Nagi and held the towels out in offering to the telekinetic. Dark blue eyes jumped from them up to Omi’s face and Omi returned the gaze calmly. “The water is heating,” Omi said, and Nagi pulled the towels from his fingers and handed them over to Farfarello. The Irishman draped one across Schuldich’s forehead and pulled the blankets back to lay the others across his chest and shoulders. He held out a hand in a demand to Nagi and another sweater jumped out of the open closet to land in his outstretched fingers. Farfarello tugged it on over his clothes, not bothering to take off his jacket first. It looked uncomfortable but Omi guessed he didn’t care.
“How long?” Farfarello wanted to know, stretching out alongside Schuldich’s body. Crawford straightened from the bed and took a step back, sliding his hands into his pockets. At his nod, Nagi moved his hand in a wave and the blankets tugged into place around the two.
“Two days,” Crawford said at length, and Omi considered the reactions around the room. Nagi gave a violent flinch beside him and even Farfarello grimaced.
“Two days,” Nagi whispered. “That’s too long.”
“It’s better than the alternative,” Crawford said. “Keep him warm, Farfarello. He cannot be left alone.” Farfarello just nodded, shifting closer to the other beneath the blankets. Crawford turned to Omi next; cool brown eyes were almost cold as he took in the Japanese teenager. “You too,” he said, and Nagi flicked him a quick look. “Get in on the other side.”
“Crawford, don’t,” Nagi said. It didn’t come out any louder than a ragged whisper. “Don’t do this.”
Omi wasn’t sure what “this” was, and he looked from one to the other, wondering if the telekinetic would try and stop him when he was so obviously against Omi moving any closer to the bed.
“It’s not your decision to make,” Crawford reminded Nagi.
“It’s the wrong decision,” Nagi snapped back, a little more strength in his voice now. “He can’t do this.”
“Schuldich cannot be left alone until he wakes and Farfarello cannot stay here the whole time. There is work you need to do for Schwarz.” Nagi’s lips thinned to a bloodless line and Crawford’s gaze was hard as he stared down the youth. “Turn away, Nagi. It is not your call.”
The silence following his words was tense but at last Nagi turned to face Omi, and the raw resentment and anguish in those eyes surprised Omi- not their presence, but the sheer strength of them. He couldn’t hold Omi’s gaze for long before he shoved roughly past and stormed out of the room. A door slammed down the hall just a few seconds later and Omi heard something literally explode next door as the telekinetic took out his anger on any inanimate object he could find in his bedroom. Crawford waited until the noise died down before pointing at the bed once more.
“Get in and keep him warm,” he said.
Omi considered saying no, just to see what reaction it would get. Instead blue eyes flicked to Farfarello’s face, but the Irishman wasn’t looking at him. His head was out of sight, buried in Schuldich’s long orange hair. The German looked almost scary lying there so still, so at last Omi started forward. There was just enough room for him along the edge of the bed, but he had to lie pressed up against Schuldich to keep from rolling off. When he hesitated to do such, Crawford pushed him by his back to squash him up against the telepath, and Omi took the hint and wound an arm around Schuldich’s waist. He could feel Farfarello’s arm against his and Schuldich’s heartbeat in his hand, and Crawford left them there, shutting off the lights as he went.
Omi held his breath as the door closed behind the American and the silence in the room seemed absolute. He couldn’t hear the others breathing; Schuldich was too quiet and with Farfarello’s face hidden, the sound was muffled. He shifted slightly, trying to get comfortable, and blew strands of orange hair out of his face. Minutes ticked by and he let his gaze travel around the room as his eyes adjusted to the dark, picking out the black splotches that were postcards.
“What’s wrong with him?” he wanted to know.
“Does it matter?” Farfarello returned.
Omi thought that over for a while, and he hadn’t found an answer before Crawford opened the door again a moment later. He brought over hot water bladders, presumably filled from the pot on the stove, and arranged them on top of the blankets over the unconscious German. He left again but was back soon, bringing bottles of water that he left on the nightstand. He said nothing on either trip and disappeared again, and the three were left in darkness once more.
“It shouldn’t,” he said at last. He wasn’t sure if Farfarello even remembered what he was answering.
“And it doesn’t,” Farfarello sent back. “Not to you.”
Omi wondered if it was true. He wasn’t sure. He decided not to press the argument and the silence stretched between them. Minutes stretched to hours. He wasn’t sure if he fell asleep, or when, or for how long. He just knew that somewhere in the blur of time the sun came up and stayed up, and Farfarello never stirred. Nagi brought food in at some point that neither accepted and he ended up leaving the sandwiches beside the untouched bottles of water before taking the cooled water bags away. It was almost too warm in the room; buried under heated covers along Schuldich’s side had sweat trickling down Omi’s forehead and back, but he said nothing about it and just watched as Nagi brought the bladders back a few minutes later.
And so it continued. Farfarello got up once for the restroom and Omi twice, and other than that, their world revolved around the bed and the still form that lay between them. It became a haze somewhere in there to Omi: nothing existed outside the stifling heat and the slow heartbeat beneath him, or the sweat he could sometimes feel trickling from Farfarello’s arm to his. They said nothing else to each other as day became night and day again. Nagi came in and sat with them sometimes when he wasn’t busy with Crawford elsewhere, perching cross-legged further down the mattress to stare at the fallen telepath. Omi hardly noticed him. Whenever the other assassin came in, he willed himself to sleep, neatly blocking the youth out of the hot world that he now belonged to.
It wasn’t until dinner time on the second day that Schuldich stirred. Omi was warned of it just moments before it happened because Crawford and Nagi both joined them in the room. Crawford hadn’t come to see them since he’d walked out that first night, and Omi eyed the man from where he was buried under two comforters and a quilt as the American started for the bed. Crawford had just stopped at his side when Schuldich drew in a rattling breath, the only real sound he’d made in almost forty-eight hours, and shifted slightly beneath Omi’s arms. On the telepath’s other side, Farfarello shifted, and Omi could see his glittering yellow eye come into view.
Eyelids fluttered and at last cracked open, showing bleary blue eyes. Schuldich’s lips moved soundlessly and he shifted slightly, eyes falling closed again. A tense silence stretched for a minute before his eyes opened again, but there was still an unfocused look to them.
“Schuldich?” Crawford asked, and blue eyes slid towards the source of the sound. “You need to sit up.”
Omi wasn’t sure Schuldich understood him or even really knew he was being talked to, but he didn’t resist as Farfarello and Crawford carefully maneuvered him upright. He was propped against the headboard and Farfarello settled down at his side, reaching out for a water bottle even as Crawford handed it to him. Schuldich’s gaze traveled around the room, landing on Farfarello last and lingering there as the Irishman helped him drink. Farfarello had been careful to keep giving him drinks even while he was unconscious, but the telepath’s lips were still dried and chapped.
Schuldich mumbled something into the bottle, but Farfarello made him drink a few more sips before he would lower it and let the older man try again. “How long?” Schuldich wanted to know.
No one answered him immediately, and Schuldich noticed. The drugged look to his eye was starting to fade and he looked around at his teammates again. Crawford held out a little bottle of pills. Schuldich looked from them back to Farfarello’s face, and the look in his eye had Omi’s stomach curling into a knot. The reaction surprised him; he wasn’t expecting to feel anything, as surprising as it was to see that sick sort of dawning realization in the eyes of a man who had always been strong and arrogant. These last few days had been strange; the powerful and mouthy Schuldich had skipped the stumble and gone straight to a fall.
But like Farfarello had told him, it didn’t matter. Right?
“How long?” Schuldich demanded, and it came out hoarse.
“Two days,” Crawford answered at length, and Schuldich’s eyes closed.
“Two,” he echoed, a dull whisper. “Two. They always said that was the magic number, didn’t they?”
“We’ll deal with that later.” Crawford unscrewed the lid of the bottle and shook two pills out, holding them out. Farfarello took them from him and poked them into Schuldich’s mouth, not giving him a chance to take them himself. Schuldich didn’t fight and even let Farfarello help him drink water to swallow them with. His eyes slid open again and his gaze traveled around the room, doing a slow sweep of the post card decorations.
“Two,” he muttered again. Fingers clenched around the water bottle and then he hurled it across the room. It just barely missed Nagi’s head and instead slammed against the door, spraying water everywhere. He shoved the covers back and yanked his sweater off so roughly that he tore it. It was thrown to one side and his younger teammates backed out of the way as he crawled towards the edge of the bed. He was unsteady on his feet but neither was stupid enough to try and help him. He started in the direction of the door but stumbled and ended up at his dresser, as it was the closest thing he had to hold onto. All eyes were on him as he hunched over it, breathing ragged, and then he gave a mighty shove of his hands and sent everything on its surface crashing to the ground. A second shove and the dresser followed, and Schuldich tangled his fingers in his orange hair and just screamed.
Omi thought it was, by far, the worst noise he’d ever heard.
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