Part One: Orange Musings
The sun was rising. Around it, the sky appeared to be on fire, glowing a vibrant orange red. Its light spread across the waters and washed across the tall skyscrapers of the city. All around, the majority of the city was waking up. The sounds of engines and trains seemed to echo off of the concrete walls of the surrounding buildings. Two people stood side by side, basking in the morning air and each other's company. Hands lightly gripped the railing of the balcony they were perched on, close enough that the sides of two touched each other. It was the only place they were connected. They did not need to touch more; they understood each other.
Behind them, the glass door slid open and they were joined by a third man. "Up so early, lovebirds?" he drawled, two mugs of coffee in his hands.
"What do you want, Schuldich?" the redhead asked without looking back.
"Ch'...Who said I want anything?" Schuldich affected an innocent look although neither could see it.
"Schuldich..." It was from the second man, and a warning.
"Gott...The pair of you..." Schuldich sighed, coming up alongside them. He held out the coffee as an offering, and the redhead accepted the mugs, passing one to his companion. "I hope you choke on it." He flicked his hair out of his face. He'd lost his headband, and his unrestrained bangs kept spilling into his face. He had a feeling Farfarello had taken it, but this was not a time to be bothering his unbalanced lover. He eyed the city. "So what should we call you now, kätzchen?" he mused.
"You will call me Aya." Aya gave him a sideways glance.
Schuldich's brows lifted in amusement. "Is that an order?" he drawled. "What if I call you Ran?" Crawford gave him a steely look. "Ah...Someone else has dibs on that name, hm? We should call you Ayan, then." He smirked and turned away. The movement slid more of his hair into his face and he huffed in annoyance, raking his fingers through it as he stepped off the small balcony.
As he closed the door behind him, he gazed through the glass at them. They were sipping at the coffee, studying the view before them. Schuldich's gaze traced their forms, one by one. First, Crawford. It was unusal to see the man up so early- and not working. Usually Crawford spent his mornings sitting in his favorite chair, reading the morning paper. Schuldich was never sure what time the American got up, but without fail he'd come down to see Crawford already halfway through the paper. If Schuldich slept in, he came down to find the man sifting through reports or on the computer. Of course, that had been when they'd been at their 'headquarters'. Here, Crawford watched the morning news on the television.
Now, Crawford was up, and watching a sunrise. Interesting.
His eyes turned to Aya, and his thoughts drifted over the past few days. Aya had had amnesia...As Ran, he had been interesting. He'd been a fresh mind, full of life and energy. Full of smiles, and the bold courage to step in front of a furious Farfarello. Schuldich wondered now, as he had wondered then, what would have happened if Ran had remained silent. Farfarello was known for holding grudges- such as his tirade against God. Schuldich had managed to calm down that obsession, but it was still there. He had tried to clear things up with Farfarello, but the man refused to listen to him. There was nothing he could have done, in the face of such anger. Farfarello simply would not listen.
Then Ran had stepped in and forced Farfarello to listen to the truth. The key thing that had calmed Farfarello was the soft admission of the feelings Ran had for Crawford. Farfarello had seen the truth in those words. Wary, hesitant, and- Schuldich knew- scared of getting hurt, Farfarello had backed off. He had invited Schuldich back.
'Deranged,' they called Farfarello. 'Hopeless.' 'Insane.'
Schuldich knew Farfarello wasn't any of those things. Schuldich was the first to notice, the first to do something about it. Farfarello was unbalanced- but then, wasn't everyone? He had an obsession against God. That was stemmed from pain in his past. He loved killing things, but so did Schuldich. Schuldich would be the first to say Farfarello wasn't all there, that he was dangerous and strange and wild. But those were what had drawn Schuldich to him. His understanding had been what had drawn Farfarello to him.
Schuldich did not experience fear often. The last time he'd felt it, it had been more shock than fear, and that had been at Yokama Industries, when the floor and ceiling had collapsed simultaneously as the building crashed downwards onto its destroyed foundation. His panicked thoughts had been about the imminent deaths of Farfarello and himself...and the need to protect the Irishman. The two had hit one of the floors that hadn't sagged yet, and Schuldich remembered rolling on top of Farfarello. The exploding agony of heavy things crashing against him, Farfarello's cry, and his own scream of pain were the last things he remembered.
He'd woken up to see Farfarello sitting in front of his sprawled out form, a mangled corpse nearby. The Irishman was curled into a tight ball, amber eye watching Schuldich with a fierce intent. The cold hand that had brushed across his cheek when he'd woken had been gentle as if he was afraid of breaking something, the quiet sound that had left pale lips had been contented, and the one amber eye had flickered . It was an expression Schuldich had never seen in his lover.
The thought that he could have lost Farfarello...
The fact that it had been Ran who stepped in and patched things up...Ran had known by then how dangerous the Irishman was, but he had not hesitated. Where Schuldich had faltered, lingering with a mix between desperate pain and anger, Ran had acted. Schuldich...respected him for that. He was grateful to the man. He'd never say it. He knew the redhead wasn't holding his breath waiting for it. He'd heard Ran's thoughts. Ran knew Schuldich was not the kind to pass along a thank you.
It had been startling, how angry and betrayed he'd felt when he realized Ran had woken up as Aya yesterday morning. Crawford had known how much time was left. Schuldich felt like he'd deserved a forewarning. After all...
~After all, what?~
Schuldich didn't know. He did know that he didn't hold Ran, or Aya, in the same contempt and disdain he lavished on Weiß. Farfarello didn't, either. Their view of him had taken a direct U-turn the moment Ran had grabbed Farfarello's arm to get his attention. Farfarello no longer thought dark thoughts about slicing the man open- thoughts Schuldich had forced Farfarello not to act out on- and Schuldich...Hell. Schuldich viewed Aya as a companion. The redhead did fit in well with them, even after waking up. Schuldich didn't know what was said between Aya and Crawford yesterday. He didn't ask. He didn't peek into Aya's mind to see, even though he could have easily found it.
He had been surprised but relieved when the man had returned to the hotel yesterday afternoon. Still mentally guarded against Aya's thoughts to avoid the Aya-Ran fight, he'd thought it was room service or something. Instead it had been a quiet Aya. Schuldich had known who the man had come for, so had just pointed towards the tiny balcony and disappeared into the kitchen where Farfarello was devouring a packet of noodles.
Aya had stayed the night, held in Crawford's embrace in his sleep. That obviously meant they'd come to some sort of decision, some compromise. Schuldich was sure he'd hear of it when the two came in for breakfast. He could wait.
He turned away, padding into the kitchen. Farfarello was sprawled on his stomach on the counter, arms bent towards each other in front of them. Right in front of his face was the blender, its blades hard at work hacking at ice. Schuldich had gone out yesterday morning to pick up some drink powder. It was black cherry flavored, so when he dumped it in with Farfarello's ice, the cubes and powder mixed together to form a dark red liquid of varying chunkiness.
Schuldich came to lounge against the counter beside the willowy man, eyes following the whirl of blood red ice bits before moving to trace his koi's form. He reached up with a hand, ruffling the Irishman's white hair. Without looking up, Farfarello spoke.
Schuldich blinked at the younger man's words. "Aa."
A faint smile traced Schuldich's lips, an expression that was for Farfarello alone. Let his smirks be for the others. Let that one-time grin be for Ran. His smiles were only for Farfarello. He propped his elbow on the small of Farfarello's back and perched his chin on his palm. "Anything and everything. Mainly, what's to be done about Aya."
"Hn." Farfarello turned the blender off and pushed it away, then rolled onto his back.
Schuldich mock scowled at him as he lost his prop. "I was using you."
An amber eye studied him thoughtfully, but Farfarello didn't respond. Instead he seemed to lose interest in whatever he'd been looking for and stretched, yawning. Appreciative jade eyes ran down Farfarello's form. The man was dressed in clothes that had been picked out for Ran after the explosion. They fit Farfarello snugly, the shirt hugging him like his bandages usually did. He reached out, trailing his fingers over the material. Farfarello paused mid-stretch when he felt the touch. Schuldich slipped his hand under the albino's shirt, running his fingers over his flesh experimentally. Schuldich tilted his head to one side, and Farfarello imitated the movement.
"Farfarello?" Farfarello didn't answer, but Schuldich knew he was listening. He pulled his hand away from the teenager, reaching up to hold his bangs out of his face. Now that Farfarello's attention had been diverted from the blender, it was safe to ask. "Where is my headband?"
Schuldich frowned. "It's not funny. It's very annoying."
"Don't have it."
"Where'd you put it?" Farfarello just gazed at him, as if not understanding the question. Schuldich knew it was just pretend, and prodded the Irishman with a finger. "What'd you do with it?" Farfarello sat up, considering this. He turned so his legs were spread and dangling off the side of the counter. Finally he shrugged. Schuldich stepped forward, standing between the younger man's legs. He wrapped his arms around Farfarello's shoulders, touching his forehead to Farfarello's. "Farfarello..."
"Leave it down."
"It gets in my way."
"You look better."
Schuldich blinked, surprised by the words. "What?" he asked blankly. Farfarello lifted his hands, twining his fingers through the long orange tresses. He played with the locks as Schuldich stood there, trying to figure this out. Farfarello had never said anything about his headband before. The fact that his lover was playing with his hair was another shock. Farfarello never touched his hair unless in the middle of sex, to grab at it, or to tug it when he was demanding Schuldich's attention.
Schuldich never knew that Farfarello liked his hair.
He leaned in, nibbling on the Irishman's mouth. Farfarello parted his lips obediently, letting Schuldich kiss him. They were interrupted by the entrance of the other assassins.
"Save that for the bedroom," Crawford told them, passing by to refill his coffee.
"Get out of the way," Aya added, motioning for them to move away from the cabinets.
Schuldich slid his mouth from Farfarello's, letting his lips trail across the man's cheek as he turned his head to smirk at the two. "Pushy, aren't they, Farf?" he asked.
"Yes, they are."
Aya glared. "If you want any breakfast..."
"Hm...Farfarello will do. Thanks anyway." Schuldich turned his back to Aya, lightly biting the tip of Farfarello's nose. Farfarello blinked. Schuldich could feel Aya glaring at him, willing him to move out of the way. He laughed softly, eyes tracing Farfarello's face. "Crawford, your koi is being bossy."
"So obey him," came the response.
Schuldich rolled his eyes. He threaded his arms under Farfarello's and lifted the Irishman off the counter. Farfarello, in turn, wrapped his legs around Schuldich's waist so the German was carrying him. Schuldich gave his koi an amused look, locking his fingers behind Farfarello's back to better steady him. /You're heavy,/ he teased the younger man. /You trying to break my back?/
Schuldich then glanced over at Aya, who was watching them with a softened look. "What's for breakfast?"
"I don't know yet." Aya turned away and began rummaging through the cabinets. Most of what they'd bought had disappeared. He eyed the few things that were left, then turned to Crawford, who was following his movements. "We don't have much."
Crawford set his empty mug on the counter. "We will go out, then. It makes no sense to go shopping again, as tonight will be when Svenska is taken out." He headed out of the kitchen and Aya followed.
Schuldich looked over at Farfarello. "Somebody's going to die tonight," he said with a wide smirk.
"His death will be sweet."
Schuldich grinned and headed out of the kitchen, Farfarello still wrapped tightly around him.
Aya crumpled his napkin and set it on the saucer where his toast had been. He hadn't eaten much, but he wasn't hungry. Crawford was drinking more coffee, sitting beside him in the booth. Schuldich and Farfarello were across from them in the other bench. Schuldich had stopped eating to watch, amused, as Farfarello attacked his meal. The Irishman was murmuring under his breath as he fought and killed his food.
Aya's gaze drifted out the window. Across the street was the Koneko no Sumu Ie. It was too early for the shop to open, but he would bet that Omi was already up and making breakfast for the others. He wondered what they thought about this whole thing, about his amnesia. He wondered how they were doing. He wondered if Ken was healing, for Crawford had told him of the boy's injuries. He wondered what they would think when he returned to them.
He was walking on a tight rope. One support beam, to his left, was Weiß. The support beam to his right was Schwarz. He was stuck in the middle, wanting to go to both beams equally. While he did not agree with how Schwarz was run, while he did not like the fact that they were doing the wrong things...He felt a strange sort of peace when he was with the people behind Schwarz. And Crawford...A faint smile curved his lips.
Then there was Weiß. He was an assassin of Weiß. It was his job to deliver justice when the law couldn't. His team mates were there, the people he'd fought and killed with multiple times. Omi, with his enthusiam and continuous attempts to cheer the others up, with his open heart and ready friendship, had been the first to earn Aya's trust. He and Ken had gotten off to a rocky start, but that was in the past. Ken was energetic, naive, and too trusting for his own good. He was stubborn when he wanted something, and when he'd wanted Aya's companionship, he'd gone after it until Aya had finally given it to him.
Last was Yohji...Aya's smile faded. Yohji had been the last to get Aya's friendship. He was laidback and carefree. He flirted often when he was supposed to be working. He was a bit too observant when it came to his team mates, from his past as a private detective. He picked up on things Aya hadn't realized he'd been showing, thigns the other two hadn't noticed. In return, Yohji had shown Aya things of himself that he had kept hidden, had shown him the darkness that ate at his soul and the pain that consumed him under his smiling facade. They had been drawn together. Yohji had been the last to be given Aya's friendship, but he was the one who held it tightest. Aya saw Yohji as his best friend, if such a thing still existed in this day and age.
Yohji had had a right to react that way to Aya's presence in the shop when Schuldich brought him.
How would Yohji react if he knew the truth about Aya and Schwarz? About Aya and Crawford? The older man would probably explode. He would probably assume Aya had been brainwashed and leap in to protect him. How could Aya make him understand?
But who else could he trust?
A hand touched his shoulder gently, and Aya was pulled out of his reverie. He turned to face Crawford. The American searched his face. "Are you ready?" he asked.
Schuldich looked up at those words, and Aya's gaze flicked to him. Funny...Considering what he'd been thinking, he'd thought the German would have some smart comments to make, to prod him. Crawford noticed the glance. "He's blocked to your thoughts so he can talk but not hear. However, I want him to set up a thread between you two. If you ever want us, just call him."
Schuldich smirked and flicked his bangs out of his face. "I'm not a telepath," he muttered, "I'm a phone line."
Crawford stood to allow Aya to exit the booth. The redhead slipped out and stood, then turned to face Crawford. They gazed at each other for several seconds, both searching for something in the other's eyes. Aya found it in the reassuring look Crawford gave him. Crawford found it in a slight nod. Aya turned away. Schuldich lifted a hand in farewell.
"Until next time, kätzchen," the German drawled.
~Hai. Until then,~ Aya thought, partly to himself and partly to Schuldich. He left the small coffee shop and stood at the curb, waiting until there was a lull in traffic before crossing the street. He stood before the Koneko no Sumu Ie for several seconds, gazing at the grate, then raised his hand to rap on it.