Patterns of Blood ~ Mami's fanfics



God hurts those He loves...


sich nach jemandem verzehren
part two



Thanks to Soleil Kitty for the title. ^__^


Delfeus: Theme 3, 5x7
Theme: Happy Date-Type Moment. Pairing: SchuldichxCrawford


Delfeus: Theme 3, 5x8
Theme: Happy Date-Type Moment. Pairing: SchuldichxYohji


Chatona: Theme 2, 5x1
Theme: Unrequited Love/Lust. Pairing: SchuldichxKen


Miya_Wada: Theme 3, 4x5
Theme: Happy Date-Type Moment. Pairing: RanxSchuldich


Schuldige Kätze: Theme 1, 2x8
Theme: Obsession/Possession. Pairing: NagixYohji


Amiko: Theme 3, 2x8
Theme: Happy Date-Type Moment. Pairing: NagixYohji


Cocos: Theme 2, 8x1
Theme: Unrequited Lust/Love. Pairing: YohjixKen






Back to Mami's Fics





Happy Date-Type Moment: SchuldichxCrawford

Crawford stayed where he was until the last car door was shut and light brown eyes swept down the line of cars as he offered the small caravan a bow. Fumigawa, in the front car, was probably the only one not busy arguing on his phone as the engines came to life down the line. The man- their client- lifted a hand in acknowledgment as his car pulled away from the curb and Crawford straightened to watch the other seven cars follow him away.

Only after they were gone and around the corner did he move down the stairs from Fumigawa Inc.'s front doors to stand on the sidewalk. Pedestrians swirled in dark clouds all around him, most of them businessmen, and he was the lone white dot amongst them. These men were getting off work as well and off to catch their trains or do the obligatory drinking with their colleagues. He watched them as they neatly moved around him, feeling their eyes on him. A foreigner's celebrity status went up after dark, which had a tendency to make things harder for Schwarz. During the day, they were just foreigners and tourists, but a white man in a white suit leaving one of the big name companies this late in the evening was sure to draw notice.

Five smokers went by, leaving a hazy trail behind them, and he watched the neon lights coming to life through the thin cloud. Buildings that had been plain throughout the afternoon now came alive with signs and advertisements like controlled fireworks. He eyed them all without seeing them, too tired to really think much of them, too tired to think about the meeting he'd just left. Fumigawa had wanted to see his circle for a five hour meeting this morning, but problems meant Crawford had spent thirteen hours in that office listening to old men argue and fuss. It was enough to drive anyone mad.

"But that's what makes this all worth it, surely," came a drawl behind him, and Crawford glanced back to see Schuldich standing at the top of the stairs. A smirk curved the younger man's lips as he gazed down at his leader but even the tangled mix of flashing lights and shadows weren't enough to erase the light edge to it.

"The inevitable madness?" Crawford asked.

"Or some variation thereof." Schuldich shrugged and started down the stairs. He stopped a step up to put them eye to eye and reached out, plucking Crawford's glasses from the bridge of his nose. Crawford watched as the building past the German blurred slightly but didn't complain as Schuldich folded the glasses up and tucked them in one of the prescient's pockets. Crawford didn't need to see the building anymore, and Schuldich was close enough that he was still in perfect focus.

"And the others?" Crawford wanted to know.

"Nagi was hungry, so he and Farfarello ate a couple hours ago. They're probably fast asleep and snoring by now, the lucky bastards."

"You could have gone to bed."

Schuldich arched an eyebrow at him. "Could have, but didn't," he answered. Two hands came up, working their way into dark hair, and Schuldich offered the short locks a slow pull. Crawford could feel it relaxing the headache and the tension that had spread through his neck and shoulders, and then Schuldich was leaning in for a kiss. The German grinned against his mouth, amused by some private thoughts of his or the captured thoughts of passer-bys. "Let's eat. You hungry?"

The businessmen had had dinner delivered, but as Crawford checked his watch through Schuldich's hair, he saw that that was five hours ago. The only thing they'd had since then was coffee and some Japanese snack he'd passed up on pure aesthetic principles. The late hour said he should just go home and go to sleep instead of eating again, but they had covered a lot of ground at the meeting and there were all sorts of new problems to deal with. It would be another sleepless night- but the hands in his hair said Schuldich would be there to help work through everything.

"Let's," he answered.

Schuldich tended to have the best taste in restaurants around the city, not for any sophisticated taste in food but because of what he looked for: quiet. Even in Tokyo there were pockets where he could go and just forget about the city and attempt to give his gift some breathing room, and Crawford had followed him several times to some of these places. That was what he wanted now, was a little hole in the wall somewhere to just sit. He let Schuldich guide him to one of them now, leaving both their cars wherever they'd been parked. Crawford had been sitting for most of the day and it was good to be upright and moving.

The evening crowd on the sidewalk meant they were walking pressed into each other, and really, it was too hot for body heat to be comfortable if there wasn't an air conditioner or fan blowing, but tonight, there wasn't anything uncomfortable about it. This sort of moist summer heat reminded Crawford of tangled sheets and dark shadows and he felt Schuldich smile against his mind.

They were the only customers when Schuldich pushed open the door and they chose the booth in the far back corner where a short wall half-concealed them from the counter. Coffee was quick in coming and dinner was promised soon, and Schuldich nibbled on the edge of his white coffee mug as soon as the waitress was gone.

"I'm starving," he muttered into an indifferent drink.

"You could have eaten," Crawford told him.

"Could have, but didn't," Schuldich answered, tilting his head at Crawford.

Crawford didn't have to ask why Schuldich made his decision, not this one to come across the city to meet him or any of the others he'd made in the years they'd known each other. The answer was there underneath the smirks and smiles and in blue eyes that lied to everyone but him. He would never ask 'why?' when it was offered there so freely, so he just reached for his own mug.

"I know."



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Happy Date-Type Moment, SchuldichxYohji

Out of everything Yohji had imagined, this was nowhere on the list. He'd stayed on the bus long after the city skyline had faded away even though common sense had said to get off and catch a train back towards the familiar and comforting sight of Tokyo's crushing energy. Now, as he finally heard the name he'd been given announced as the current stop, he took a long look out his window before standing up. There were only two passengers left on the bus after he got off, two old biddies with bags from a day shopping downtown, and he heard them whispering about him as he climbed down the stairs to the dingy little station.

He looked up at the kanji on the bus stop as the bus pulled away and then looked both ways down the streets. There were actual houses out here, rows and rows of them, and as he turned to consider the opposite side of the street, he thought he saw rice paddies.

"I hate being the butt of his jokes," he muttered, digging his cigarettes out of his pocket. He perched one between his lips and shoved the pack back in his pocket. As he was about to dig out his lighter, another one clicked near his face. He started and flicked a quick look that way, only to find Schuldich lounging against the wall where there'd been no one before.

"Seriously, Kudou, if you want me to stop making fun of you, stop making it so easy," the telepath informed him.

Yohji muttered something rude and leaned into the lighter, watching as the tip of his cigarette came to life. "Where the hell are we?" Schuldich pointed up at the name of the bus stop and Yohji blew smoke in his face. "I can read. Mind explaining this?"

Schuldich shrugged and offered him a smirk. "I never promised something extravagant. I'm cheap." He flicked hair out of his face and pushed off of the wall. The lighter disappeared somewhere in his pocket and he hooked a hand in Yohji's pocket, leaning forward to nip at Yohji's ear lobe. "And hungry. Let's go."

Yohji wasn't satisfied with the vague explanation but he followed when Schuldich stepped away. It took him only a moment to match the other's pace and that surprised him. Schuldich liked to stalk, always stepping out as if he had some devious motive in mind. Yohji had complained often about it and it generally deteriorated into a lot of hollow insults and some tangled sheets. He gave the other man a sideways look as he took a drag on his cigarette, wondering about the difference. Schuldich ignored the look, blue eyes pointed forward and mouth slanted into that permanent smirk. Yohji decided not to ask- yet.

That didn't mean he couldn't fuss about the surroundings, though. Schuldich had been adamant that Yohji not bring his Seven, and Weiss's oldest wasn't used to being relegated to public transportation. "This place had better be good, you know," he informed Schuldich. "I came all the way out here to the backend of Tokyo for this. If you'd wanted ramen we could have eaten at one of a hundred places in the city that were more convenient."

"To you," Schuldich said simply.

"What does that mean?" Yohji demanded, and Schuldich just leered at him. He had to struggle to find his train of thought again; that look just made him think of lips on his skin. "How did you even learn about this place, anyway? One of your clients—" They turned the corner then and Yohji almost ran down an old woman. Schuldich's hand on the back of his shirt pulled him out of the way just in time and the woman turned a startled look on them before beaming.

"Shuu-san," she greeted, offering Schuldich a bow he didn't return. "Good afternoon. Is this your friend?"

"He's a florist," Schuldich answered.

"Kudou Yohji," Yohji introduced, returning her bow.

"Moriyama Keiko," she greeted. "I'm Shuu-san's landlady."

Yohji felt his eyebrows disappear up into his hairline, but his smile didn't falter. "It's an honor to meet you."

Keiko tittered a little and offered Schuldich a conspiratorial wink. "He is very attractive. You should bring him by more often, Shuu-san."

"Ahh, but he smells of dirt and weeds," Schuldich returned. She shook a finger at him, smiled at Yohji again, and shuffled on. Schuldich didn't watch her go but let go of Yohji's shirt at last and continued on. Yohji arched an eyebrow at his back and hurried to catch up. "No smart remarks, pretty boy."

"Pretty?" Yohji echoed, burying his hand in one of Schuldich's pockets. It was hard when the German's hand was already there but it was enough to get the man to look at him. "You live out here?" Schuldich didn't answer but Yohji guessed it was a pretty pointless question anyway. Still, the thought that the man had invited him back to his quiet corner of the city was pleasing. "Why? I figured you'd want to be in the city."

Schuldich offered him a pitying look. "I'm a telepath," he pointed out.

Yohji considered that a moment. "Huh," he said. "Hey, do I get to see your place?"

"I don't want your germs in it," Schuldich told him. "I just cleaned."

"How considerate-" Yohji started, but Schuldich cut off the rest of it with a kiss. Fingers locked together in the German's pocket and Yohji let himself get pushed up against the fence of a nearby house. Leaves from vines tickled against his face and neck as Schuldich's hard body kept him pinned in place. Yohji could smell clean air and the telepath's cologne and all he tasted was Schuldich. He liked it.

"Take me back," he said again.

"I'll think about it," the telepath drawled, pulling away. The other assassin didn't let go of his hand and Yohji was pulled after him, but it was easy to keep up and he leaned to one side to prop his shoulder against Schuldich's. Green eyes took in the rows of small houses again and somehow they didn't seem so dingy this time.



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Unrequited Love/Lust, SchuldichxKen - Note: Post-Glühen

The heat was stifling this time of year, even out here without the buildings to crush it in and down on those wandering Tokyo's streets. It was a good enough incentive to stay indoors or within three feet of an electric fan and certainly no time at all to be standing outside for hours under the cloudless sky. It would be very hard to explain later when he went home with his shirt plastered to him with sweat and his mind ran over a dozen vague excuses even as he reached up to wipe a hand across his forehead. It didn't help much, not when his hand was almost as slick as the skin on his face, but he barely noticed. Swallowing to wet his mouth, he tasted salt where sweat had beaded up along his upper lip. His free hand clenched a little more tightly around his fourth or fifth water bottle but it was forgotten on the way up to his mouth.

Schuldich had been told everything worth knowing about Weiss years ago, shortly before Schwarz first met with them on the battlefield. He'd listened to every little detail, knowing that every scrap of intel they had on the angsty white assassins meant more ammunition for him to hurt them with. He hadn't realized then that what he was told would come back to bite him on the ass.

He'd laughed over Kudou's torment and Tsukiyono's problems and Fujimiya's issues with his sister, but…

Hidaka's J-League…?

Schuldich had grown up playing football in the streets before Rosenkreuz had deemed him old enough to take in, and in one of his dimmest memories of childhood he remembered watching the World Cup on TV with his older brothers. Rosenkreuz taught him an entirely new game to play but it hadn't burned that memory out of him, and if he couldn't play anymore, at least he could watch the matches on TV. Crawford tolerated his interest with all the useless indifference of an American who thought "football" was a touch-and-pass sort of game, and Nagi and Farfarello had yet to see anything in it to hold their attention for long.

Back when Weiss and Schwarz existed, Schuldich had stumbled across Hidaka a couple times as he'd taught children how to play in the park. At length he'd decided it to be unfair that the other man could keep the sport despite his new job, but that had faded into a dull sort of fascination as he watched the easy way the younger man could infect the children with his joy. Schuldich had looked for tapes once from the man's J-League days- purely for research purposes, of course- and that had been his biggest mistake.

He'd linked Hidaka to his childhood joy; he'd linked an opposing assassin to the one real thing that could still get him worked up. He could imagine all too easily Hidaka sitting at home and watching matches and throwing coach pillows and empty beer cans at the TV the same way he spent the matches and it made him itch inside.

It had taken months before he'd finally faced Crawford and said he wouldn't kill Hidaka, and the glint in the man's eye at such a bold declaration could have sharpened all the knives in Farfarello's cabinet. "Any particular reason?" the man had demanded, and Schuldich had answered, "You wouldn't understand."

He wouldn't understand, just as he wouldn't understand why Schuldich was here, but Schuldich didn't think he wanted Crawford to ever understand. He wouldn't be able to explain it, not the reason such a sport could so completely distract him or the way his craving for a part of football again could have bled so thoroughly up into the man playing. He didn't want to ever have to explain it because he wasn't sure he could put it into words.

Sunlight flashed off slick bronze skin, and the watching inmates- and one or two guards, even- offered up shouts of encouragement. Just a few weeks ago, this hard dirt ground had been almost nothing, home to the occasional game of football but mostly just a mess. That had changed the second Hidaka had set foot on it. He'd rallied the prisoners into two teams and helped fill in the gaps in their training, pointing out weaknesses and offering helpful suggestions. And maybe before these men hadn't cared all that much for football except as something to pass the time, but there was something about Hidaka that was so painfully hard to ignore.

"GOAL!" came the roar from the field, and Hidaka was scooped up by one of the other pseudo-athletes. He could hear excited voices from here even if he couldn't make them out, but Schuldich wasn't stupid enough to move closer. The last thing he needed was for Hidaka to see him, because Schuldich already knew how the former Weiss would react to finding out Schuldich kept coming to watch these games. He remembered the hate and disgust well, just as he knew that any attempt to talk the other assassin down from his ideas about Schuldich would fail. Because really, they were all correct except when they came to the ones regarding the former Siberian.

Hidaka's team had won, of course, and now they celebrated and yelled about the extra food they'd get for dinner from the losers. Hidaka just stood in the middle of it all, hands on his hips and a great grin on his face, dark hair pasted to his skin. Schuldich felt his stomach twist in a hunger that no food would ever ease. Hidaka looked—

Unattainable.

Out of every word his mind could have settled on, that was it, and it took Schuldich a moment to realize the mental voice wasn't his. He flicked a quick look back over his shoulder to see Crawford's car waiting for him. The American was in the driver's seat and his face was smooth as he regarded his teammate. Schuldich felt his excuses wither up somewhere in his mouth and looked back towards the playing field. Hidaka's- Ken's- laughter carried on the wind. The mockery in it wasn't directed at him, but he felt it just the same.

Let it go. We have work to do.

He took a step back, then another, and then turned and started for the car.



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Happy Date-Type Moment, RanxSchuldich

He's waiting for me in the same spot as always, sprawled across one of the benches by the fountain. His legs are splayed out in opposite directions as he sits slouched against the paneled wood and his head is lolled to one side, eyes closed as if he's asleep. I know it's just a farce, because Schuldich would never doze off in public. He has little trust in mankind even with that gift of his as some sort of warning system and he doesn't like putting himself in a situation that leaves him open to trouble. I take the last step up out of the station exit and start towards him, ignoring the rest of the crowd that has come up the stairs with me from the subway. Our vehicles have two tracking devices embedded into them, each set with a warning in case it's removed. I know better than to take my car out here when I come to see him.

I stand a few feet in front of him, just watching him as he pretends to sleep and probably looking like a very rude passerby. But really, he is attracting enough stares on his own. Even in this darkness his orange hair stands out as easily as the neon signs on the buildings around us, and he came in white. Idly I wonder if he thought I wouldn't be able to see him, and I help myself to the bench beside him.

"Yo," he greets without opening his eyes. "You smell good."

"Don't say it," I warn him, knowing I still reek of blood from tonight's mission. He grins at me, all teeth, and I prop myself against him. That's enough for him to open his eyes at last and I feel his gaze on me as I stare out at the fountain. Touching in public has been a sore spot for all of the four months we have been sleeping together. I see it as inappropriate whether it's between a man and woman or two people of the same gender and Schuldich sees no problem with it if it means it's going to annoy me. I think we both rely on that tension between us. Fighting and arguing is safe, and there have been enough slammed doors between us these four months.

"Is it yours?" he asks at length, and I know he's mentally ticking over reasons for my sudden stray from that comfort zone. He leers at me a little. "Are you feeling a little fragile, Red?"

Ah, straight to the next argument. I expected as much, but I skip straight past the "Don't call me that" to say, "Not really." Schuldich goes quiet again and I look over him, offering him a calm look in return to his searching gaze. "Let's go," I tell him, getting to my feet.

"You still haven't said where we're going," he points out, not moving.

"You could just take it from me," I remind him, and he mutters something and gets to his feet. He loops an arm around my waist, a move that has always gotten him an elbow in the diaphragm before, and I know that's the reaction he wants. I can feel my arm tensing to hit him and I can already see his smirk, but I manage to stop myself from landing the blow.

His arm tightens on me and he digs his feet in, pulling me to a stop. "All right," he says. "What do you want from me?"

"You really do have a suspicious nature," I comment.

"I suspect you most of all," is his breezy answer.

"Just come with me," I tell him, "and stop arguing." I tilt my face towards his, offering him a kiss, but he still eyes me suspiciously over it. I catch at his hand where it's hooked around my hip and step closer to him until the line between us blurs somewhere between my dark jacket and his white one. "You can come back to my place later."

"I would be honored to get to meet your vegetable again," he drawls, but I know the sarcasm is because he's not sure what's going on. It's rare that I've ever managed to one-up him like this and I can't help but smile at his uneasiness. "Urgh," he tells me. "Whatever, whatever. Your sister probably gets a thrill out of listening to me screw you, anyway."

I bite his lip for that and he grins, and a little of the balance is restored. "Come on," I insist, and at last he follows me down the street.

We start finding the crowd as we near the port and I tighten my fingers over his hand when I feel it start to clench tighter against my skin. I wonder how well his shields are doing against a crowd like this, but I'm gambling on his strength. I work my fingers between his until our hands are laced together, letting him crush the blood out of my fingers instead of leaving bruises on my hips. He can bruise those later. For now…

"What the hell is going on?" he demands by my ear.

"Festival of the sea," I tell him, winding deeper through the throngs of people. "Tell me when we have to stop."

He doesn't answer that, so we continue forward until it's too hard to get closer to the water. Stands are lit up around us where people are selling goods and girls in their yukata traipse about, flinging bright smiles and greetings at anyone they recognize. I think I spot a few shop customers. Weiss is probably further up, freshly cleaned from tonight's late mission and ready to watch the fireworks and forget about the job we just had. I told them I would be spending tonight with Aya, so they're not expecting to see me here. Aya begged me to come so I could tell her all about it and added that special smile of hers when she told me to bring Schuldich along. I don't think Schuldich appreciates her consideration, but I haven't been to a festival since Aya was hurt and I didn't want to come alone.

"I can't believe you dragged me to a dinky festival. We are going to have sex later," Schuldich decides, loud enough that anyone within earshot can hear him. "A lot of sex. Then maybe I'll forgive you."

I do my best to ignore the stares such words draw and dig my fingernails into his hand hard enough to draw blood. "You might enjoy it if you give it a chance," I tell him tightly.

Schuldich ignores that and we stand together as the crowd swells around us. The parade starts and we watch the long trail of floats with their gleaming lanterns. Taiko drums boom further down the line and men dance around one of the floats, beating on smaller drums and chanting. In the dark the lights blur together and the scene looks ethereal, and I listen to their voices and the drums echo inside my chest. Slowly Schuldich's hand relaxes against mine and I glance discretely at him to watch the way the lights dance across his skin. He has a blank sort of look on his face, the look of a man who has never been to such a festival or seen the magic in the way the drums carry through the night. I don't let my gaze linger for too long, not wanting him to notice me staring and fix his expression, but I'm smiling when I look back at the parade.

Voices from the crowd lift up and join in on the occasional chant and the bells jangle on one of the floats that goes by. The parade is almost past when the fireworks start, and colors explode across the night sky. I can imagine the way they look reflected on the water and gaze up at the brilliant, crackling lights. I feel younger as I watch the flowers bloom against the stars; I feel as if these years have never happened and nothing has changed from what it used to be. As the last firework fades away with a hiss, I think I'm finally okay with the fact that things have changed. A lot has happened, but not all of it is bad. The warmth at my side isn't my sister's but she's awake and healing now, and the friendship I have with the three others of Weiss is worth the sacrifice it took to find such people.

"Well?" I ask Schuldich.

"Huh," is all he says.

We take our time heading back up the street, and even though the trains are backed up as so many people try to find their way back home, Schuldich doesn't complain.



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Obsession/Possession, NagixYohji

All the other kids his age had a pet, or so Schuldich had told him. For the most part, the German was a lying bastard, but now and then, he said something that had a bit of truth in it. Nagi hadn't really met a lot of other kids his age but Ouka had had a dog and Tot had had a stuffed bunny. Research on Omi said that he didn't but then, maybe the two years of age difference between them was the reason. At the very least, he had plants that he could tend to and play with, which meant that Nagi had absolutely nothing at all.

Crawford discouraged Schuldich every time he started on this line on thought, saying that nothing good would come of it, but Schuldich was convinced that it would do Nagi good to have a pet to take care of. He used choice words like "mini-Crawford" and "stuffy" and Nagi decided to take Schuldich's side in the argument. If anything, he did not want to turn into a Crawford when- if- he grew up.

He took to stopping by the pet store when he had a chance, eyeing the selection there for something appropriate to a petless 15-year old boy. For three weeks he bought kittens and brought them home, but they invariably died a few days later when Farfarello found them or when Nagi forgot that he couldn't use his gift on them. Schuldich watched him as he buried the sixth one in a shoebox, frowning a little at the dejected look on his teammate's face.

"Maybe you should get something a bit bigger," the telepath suggested.

"I like kittens," Nagi told him. "They're cute."

Schuldich made a face at him. "Don't use that word," he said, and he disappeared to do his own things once more.

The next day Nagi went by the pet store again, but they were fresh out of kittens. He wondered if the shop owner was just hiding them from a teenager who had gone through six in three weeks, but aside from breaking down the back door and looking in the back, there wasn't a way to tell for sure. He would just have to find another shop.

The shop owner gave him the address a little too quickly and Nagi set off in search of it, wondering if the man would call ahead in warning. He broke the shop's phone line with a thought to prevent such a thing from happening and caught the subway to the station he needed. As he was wandering down the street again, he heard the sound of squealing girls that was so much like the cooing he'd heard in the pet shop on every visit. As he craned his neck to see what was going on, he saw that they were clumped around a store.

A pet store? He looked up at the sign and blinked at the name.

Koneko no Sumu Ie.

Ah, that was Weiss's shop, wasn't it? He considered that for a few moments and then started forward once more, focusing on his end goal. He'd only made it a few feet when he remembered Schuldich's advice: "Maybe you should get something a bit bigger."

He looked back at the shop. Weiss were cats, weren't they? Abyssinian, Balinese, Siberian, Bombay…

They weren't quite kittens, but they were still fun to play with, and they had already shown themselves to hold up well under his gift. He turned that over in his mind a bit and then crossed the street to peer in through the shop window. The place was crowded from wall to wall. The Abyssinian cat looked like he was going to bite anyone near him and little Bombay was lost in the crowd. Nagi didn't want a crying pet, anyway. Siberian was a cute sort of cat, smudged with dirt and smiling at the girls, but he looked a little nervous under the fawning. That wouldn't do.

His eyes strayed to the tallest of the group, the lanky Balinese. The man's green eyes were glittering with promise as he returned the girls' pawing with discrete pawing of his own, and Nagi planted his face and hands against the window to watch in earnest. He was definitely much bigger than the kittens Nagi had been buying, but he was still cute. This one didn't even have any claws, either, just a bit of wire that was easily removed.

He was pleased, and he went in search of the pet store to find everything his new cat would need.

Balinese was less than pleased when he found Nagi waiting for him out back at the end of his shift. Crawford got a migraine the second Nagi dragged his riled cat through the front door with his telekinesis, but Schuldich and Farfarello seemed quite pleased with the purchase. Schuldich thought the jingling collar a nice touch and said so, and Nagi had to push his cat down the hall to his room before Balinese could get his hands around Schuldich's throat.

Nagi lost all of his tearful arguments with Crawford and was forced to let Balinese go every day to go back to Weiss and he sulked when Schuldich tried to justify it as being inconvenient if Weiss tried to come after their kidnapped comrade. Every day he went and fetched his pet back home and locked them away in his room to play, even if it took a couple weeks for the Balinese to have any semblance of interest in Nagi's gifts. Balinese never did grow to like the collar, though he did eventually learn to appreciate Nagi's obsession with brushing his hair and petting him.

Schuldich laughed at him when he brought catnip home, saying it was a stupid gift to give a human cat, but he stopped laughing when a smiling and sore Nagi hobbled into breakfast the next morning.

Nagi loved his pet quite dearly.



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Happy Date-Type Moment, NagixYohji

To normal people, a date might mean a night out at the movies, or a quiet dinner alone at an upscale restaurant. Younger people hang out at arcades and walk hand-in-hand in the street in awkward defiance of social customs that still say such things are inappropriate. Somewhere in this city, I'm sure there are two people meeting at a club and letting their bodies speak the words their voices cannot carry over the sound of a pounding bass.

But here…?

There's something sweet about this too, isn't there? Something undeniably fragile, something undeniably us.

We schedule our missions at the same time, a midnight rendezvous that occurs over and over throughout the city. Security guards gurgle out their last pleas and we dance around each other to the drip-drip-drip of blood that might be applause if we listen hard enough.

We pick the missions least important to our respective teams because then it doesn't really matter who wins or loses. We just trade off losses and meet up at the end and work off excess adrenaline in an abandoned, bloody office. I'm someone safe, aren't I? I'm not a girl. I'm not some fragile, fluttery creature that needs to be protected, that needs to be reassured of your adoration. I don't need your flowers or flattery. I don't remind you of her enough to haunt you, and I have a gift that could stop you if you ever put your hands around my throat while we fucked.

Ah. Fucked. You laugh at me when I use that word; you tease me about being too young to use such vulgar language and then you say that what we're doing is "making love". You're always smiling when you say it, so I don't know whether or not you're being serious, but I have to admit I like the sound of it.

Tonight I make it to the end room first and find myself gazing in at a dinner table. Candles line the shelves, all lit and dripping wax all over the place. The food is set out already but hasn't been served; tonight's diners never made it to the table. I push away from the doorway and cross the room to stand behind one of the chairs, one hand out to hover over the dishes. They're still warm and I wonder if everything will have gone bad by the time someone comes here to investigate.

"Yo," is the lazy greeting from the door, and I look back to see you've made it. Your sunglasses are still perched on the bridge of your nose despite the late hour and you use a thumb to push them up into your hair. Your eyebrows go with them. "All this for me?" you tease, starting my way.

"What a waste," I answer, turning back to the table and holding my arms out at my sides. Your arms wrap around me easily and I rest mine on top to consider the dishes once more.

"Damn." You give a low whistle and lean down, propping your chin on my head. "Looks good. Helluva lot better than the instant stuff back at my place."

I think on that for a moment and then tangle my fingers through yours, lifting your hand to nibble on one thumb. "We could eat it," I offer. "After all, the food is in our way."

"The table could be put to much better use," you agree, and I let my eyes fall shut as you kiss your way down my throat. Candlelight dances on my eyelids, offering up a red and black lightshow, blood and death and shadows, everything that we live in and have come to recognize as our own. I smile and feel your thumb trace it on my lips.

"That's rare," you comment in a low voice, as if afraid mentioning it aloud will scare it off.

"Just thinking," I answer. Thinking about two assassins from two opposing teams killing off a houseful of servants and corrupted bastards and then finishing it off with a fancy dinner and sex. Sex? Fucking? Love? There's something priceless about it and I can't help but smile. These are the moments I live and kill for. Maybe I've been around Schuldich too long. Maybe I've been around you too long, but I don't mind.

"Let's eat," I say. "And then let's make love."

You groan against my throat at hearing the words from my mouth for the first time and your free hand pulls me tighter up against you. "Or we could do it now," is the husky offer. "And after."

"Appetizer and dessert?" I wonder, lifting your hand higher to offer the flesh of your thumb a small bite. "That's what couples do, isn't it? They go out on dates and eat fancy food and go back home to bed together."

"Is this a date, then?" you ask, sounding quite enamored by the idea.

"Hmmm." I consider that and smile again. "I guess it is."



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Unrequited Love/Lust, YohjixKen

For my twentieth birthday I got a day off work, a night out with the guys, and a very drunken confession of undying love and loyalty. To be truthful, I got a lot of "I love you" and "Please marry me" cries at work, but those were such a daily occurrence that I learned to not be so embarrassed by them after a couple months.

No, my twentieth birthday confession was from one very smashed Kudou Yohji.

I laughed it off that night and, really, who could blame me? Yohji was one of my best friends and one of three people I had left to trust in the world. His laziness wasn't a farce and he lived an obscenely unhealthy lifestyle, but he was our older brother and he could hide our secrets and sorrows along with his behind those dark sunglasses of his. Omi was too emotional and Aya too emotionless for either of them to be confidantes and they knew that, which meant Yohji got stuck with the role. There was something about him that begged you to trust him and to give him your worries so you could rest in peace.

To hear him spill out a slurred and staggered confession on my birthday…? Nothing in the world could have prepared me for that, not from him. I thought it was a joke; I thought it was the liquor. I laughed and patted him on the back with a breezy "Don't worry man, I love you too", but I didn't miss the hurt in his eyes at such an easy return.

The next day Yohji wore his sunglasses all day at the shop, pushed up over his eyes instead of sliding carelessly down over his nose, and claimed he had a hangover. There had to be some truth in that statement considering how much he'd had to drink the night before, but… Something was a little off just the same.

It took about a week for me to start wondering if his confession on my birthday had really meant anything. I laughed at myself as I considered it, but I laughed because I was nervous. Yohji was my best friend, someone I would trust my life to. He was… another guy. He was a shameless flirt who teased and flattered our customers and spent his nights out keeping ladies' beds warm. He was a guy.

But we'd been friends long enough that I could hear the shadows in his voice when he spoke to me and I could see the gaps in his easy façade of friendship, and it was clear that something was off. I was too scared to ask him for the first three weeks because I was scared of what he would say. If he said no, then I'd look a fool, but it'd also mean there was something else sore between us that I wouldn't know how to fix. If he said yes… I told myself over and over that he wouldn't say yes, but it still took me three weeks to work up the courage.

Finding the right time for such a thing was hard because Yohji and I hadn't worked a shift alone since my birthday and we always worked opposite ends on the field. I took my bike back and forth to our missions and even if I rode in his Seven, at least Omi tended to ride with Yohji. I couldn't even work up the nerve to ask Omi to ride with Aya because I didn't want to be stuck in Yohji's car without an escape if the conversation went sour.

I was such a coward that Omi had to set the meeting up for us. He duped us both, calling us down for a meeting while Aya was gone and then demanding we fix whatever was wrong between us. Before either of us could insist that nothing was wrong, he was gone, and we both heard the lock click into place at the door. He was trying to do us a favor, but the silence in the basement said Yohji dreaded that confrontation as much as I did, and that told me more than I wanted to know before I could even open my mouth.

I was an even bigger coward than I'd meant to be, because Yohji had to break the silence when it stretched to breaking point. "Do we have a problem?" he asked.

"Did you mean it?" I sent back.

Yohji was merciful enough not to ask what the "it" was. He could have, just to watch me stammer over trying to put it in words. Instead he just stared me down across the room, fidgeting with his sunglasses where they were- for once- pushed up into his hair. I didn't want an answer, but I needed one.

"Is it going to be a problem?" he asked at last.

It was a wordy way to say "Yes" and I felt something clench between my stomach and my chest. "I'm your friend," I protested. "Yohji, we live and work and kill together. We're guys. Guys don't like guys. You don't like guys. You like girls and Seven and.. and… Manx. You like Manx."

"I didn't say it," Yohji answered, very carefully, "hoping that you would say 'Oh, I do too!'. I didn't say it to upset you. I didn't mean to say it at all, but I couldn't help it." I just shook my head at him and he smiled, a pained little smile, and pulled his sunglasses down into his face. "Things don't have to change between us, you know. I don't expect anything of you."

"It changes things."

"It doesn't have to," he said, as if things would ever be the same. Yohji was a guy and my friend and he liked me. Liked me like he liked the girls. Wanted to do to me what he did to the girls. I could feel my stomach quaking at the thought and I wished I could work up the strength to feel betrayed. Surely it would feel less nauseating than dismay. "Please, Ken. I want to be your friend. Please don't let it change things."

There was something desperate in his voice that hurt to hear, maybe because I could feel it deep inside. I didn't want things to change; I didn't want to wake up tomorrow and see him looking at me and know what existed behind those laughing eyes. It hurt somewhere deep inside and I knew that nothing we said tonight could fix things, because it would take time to heal that broken trust I felt.

"Be my friend, Yohji," I whispered. Four words that were an answer to his plea; four words that begged him to forget everything he'd confessed to me, four words that gave him a very final no to the confession he'd given me three weeks ago. Four words we would both have to live with, because pretending was the only way we were going to get out of this. It was just going to hurt every step of the way.

I could see the sorrow in his eyes past the sunglasses, but he offered me a small smile just the same. It was probably supposed to be a thank you for not condemning him, but he couldn't be grateful about how this had turned out.

"I'm sorry," he said, so quietly I could barely hear it, and I just shook my head at him again. He went upstairs to try and get Omi to open the door and I stayed behind, listening to the lock clack open, listening to their voices at the top of the stairs: Omi's, prying, and Yohji's all breezy reassurances.

I stayed down there until the shop closed for the day.



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