Part One: New Prey
Yohji yawned and stretched, taking advantage of the temporary lull in the school girl crush. Ken was rushing back and forth on the other side of the room, filling orders for the girls that surrounded him. Omi was preparing to leave for school, and Aya was glowering at Yohji from by the kitchen. In a few moments the girls would come to Yohji to pay for their flowers and he would be forced to do a little work. For now he enjoyed watching his younger friend dart around, pointedly ignoring Aya's disapproving glare. Watching Ken was more amusing than working- after all, the brunette was pretty harried- and so was flirting. Ken finished with a few customers and the girls hurried towards Yohji. They gave him breathless smiles, clinging their bouquets to their hearts and batting their eyes at him. Yohji gave them a charming smile.
"I can see that today is going to be a wonderful day," he drawled, smile widening, "just by getting to start it by seeing so many beautiful young ladies." They tittered, pleased and embarrassed. "How may I be of service to such wonderful young women today?"
One, bolder than the rest and a regular customer, offered her flowers. "I would like to buy these, Yohji-sama," she said, giving him an appreciative glance-over. Inwardly he was amused. She had been coming here for three months. Her name was Kikisako Reichi, and for the past three weeks had been trying to get up enough courage to ask him to go on a date with her. He knew because some of the other girls had gossiped about her. She was nineteen- Ken's age- and a pretty little thing. He'd subtly encouraged her advances. "And..." She paused, clinging to her resolve. "I was wondering if you knew the place that serves the best yakisoba."
Ah, his cue. He inclined his head slightly to her, wisps of his honey brown hair falling loose from behind his ears. "I know of many good places, Reichi-san," he informed her in a silky voice, enjoying the way her cheeks flushed faintly at the warmth in his tone. "Perhaps you would honor me with your presence in an upcoming evening so that I can acquaint you with them?"
She lost her tongue then, mouth opening and shutting as she tried to stammer out a reply. One girl sniggered quietly. Another gave her a light jab. Her cheeks flushed even more and she bowed deeply in an attempt to hide it from him. "I-I would love to!"
~Bingo.~ Before Yohji could work out the details with her on the date, glass shattered. All heads in the shop jerked to Ken. The boy was staring down at a broken vase at his feet. Yohji grinned. "Graceful, Ken." Aya glanced towards the shop ceiling as he turned to leave, searching for patience and obviously regretting leaving the shop in the hands of a flirt and a clumsy soccer player for the day. Ken muttered darkly under his breath and shot him a glare, cheeks flushing. The girls around Yohji giggled. Yohji heard a bell tinkle, signifying a new customer, as he turned to the girls to resume flirting. They were facing away from him, staring at the door with wide eyes. Yohji blinked and glanced towards the door. Ken was already looking in that direction.
Schuldig was standing in the doorway, nonchalant as you please. He was wearing a pair of tight blank jeans and a white silky shirt over top of it that had the top three and the bottom three buttons undone, showing a sliver of stomach and a bit of chest by his collarbone. His hair was pulled back with the usual headband and sunglasses, and his mouth was cocked in a permanent smirk. Yohji stared as his fans abandoned his table, moving towards Schuldig- all except for Reichi, who smiled at him, took her bouquet, and backed away from the counter to wait.
"Do you work here too?" one girl asked, sounding awed.
The way the girls were staring at him was if he was the most beautiful creature they'd ever seen in their lives. It was sickening. ~He's not _that_ good looking,~ Yohji thought sullenly.
/How spiteful./ Schuldig's eyes slid from the girls to Yohji. "Possibly," he drawled in response as Crawford entered. The American moved past Schuldig, and Yohji's eyes flicked to follow his progress. He met up with Aya and the two leaders left the room. Schuldig, in turn, crossed the room to where Yohji stood. Yohji's ex-fans followed adoringly. Schuldig leaned over, propping his elbows on the counter surface and perching his chin on his palms. His jade eyes glinted with amusement as he gazed up at Yohji. "My, Kudou, are you jealous?"
~Hah.~ Yohji waved a hand about in dismissal. "Now why would _I_ be jealous?" ~I can have any girl I want.~ "I don't mind sharing, I suppose. It's probably been forever since you've gotten any," he added derisively.
Schuldig's smirk widened- how much wider could it get?!- and Schuldig's eyelids lowered to half mast so that his jade eyes seemed to glow. "Any female, you mean." /Males are so much more fun. Especially ones that think they're straight, like you./
That was it. Yohji placed his hands on t he counter forcefully, leaning towards the German. "To quote my fellow florist...If you're not going to buy anything, _get_ _out_." He didn't want to listen to the bastard German's taunts. The sooner Crawford and Aya were finished tying up loose ends, the sooner he would be free of the pest.
"Oh, I'm buying, all right." Schuldig's eyes slid up Yohji slowly, glittering with a predatory glint and appreciation. When his eyes finally met up with Yohji's, there was desire and lust there. /So, how much do you sell for?/ Yohji's eyes widened. /Don't tell me you've forgotten my offer./ An image brushed against Yohji's mind, of the kiss in the basement from a few days ago. He tore his gaze away, looking over the girls.
"Any of you beautiful ladies need flowers rung up?" he asked, trying to keep the strain out of his voice. Thinking of that kiss made him uneasy. He didn't understand why Schuldig had done it. They were both _guys_.
"Did you say you wanted flowers?" Ken asked. Yohji accepted a girl's bouquet with a shaky sigh, inwardly shaking his head at Ken's cluelessness.
"What a naive little boy," Schuldig murmured, glancing towards the soccer player. Yohji saw Ken stiffen at the insult out of the corner of his eyes, but already Schuldig was stretching and turning to go. The German yawned loudly and padded towards the kitchen with a lazy grace.
~Make yourself at home,~ Yohji muttered sarcastically.
/Don't mind if I do./
~Stay out of my head!~
"I thought he said he was going to buy something..." Ken trailed off, sounding uncertain. Yohji looked towards him. His expression was that of someone who was lost. Ken just didn't get it. Usually Yohji found the boy's cluelessness to be amusing, but this time he was glad Ken didn't know what was going on.
"Forget it," he told the boy quietly.
"Oh. Okay." Ken turned to the rest of the customers. "Anyone else need help?"
Yohji made change for his most recent customer. She accepted the money and headed away. Reichi was pushed forward again by two or three of her friends. The glow in her eyes was expectant and delighted all at the same time, now that she had his attention again. What was she waiting for?...~Oh!~ Schuldig's comments had done well to unnerve the golden haired man, if he had forgotten that Reichi had agreed to a date with him.
Time to put the German out of his mind.
Yohji leaned towards her again. "So, pretty lady," he asked, voice sliding into warm velvet tones, "you name the day and time, and I'll take care of everything else." He gave her his most dazzling smile.
She flushed and her eyes darted to the countertop, a bit breathless and awed that he'd directed the smile solely at _her_. Nervous fingers brushed stray locks of raven hair behind her ears. "How about, how about two nights from now?" she asked, stuttering slightly at first. When he nodded slightly to encourage her, she continued. "At eight?"
"That's perfect," he assured her, emerald eyes sparkling with good humor and hidden promise. Now all he needed was her address, and the date was set. It was about time he'd gotten Reichi!
Yohji froze as he felt the icy liquid splatter over his head. It sank through his hair and down the sides of his skull, causing his body to shiver. "Oops." Yohji tilted his head back to look up at Ken. The boy was watering some ceiling plants and was perched on a stool. Keeping the boy's clumsiness in mind, Yohji had chosen to stand nearby in case he chose to fall off the stool and break something on the two foot fall. Ken was staring down at him with wide eyes. "Sorry, Yohji!" the boy apologized, lurching forward and reaching out in an attempt to wipe some of the liquid off. It was a mistake, for he stepped right off the edge of the stool with one foot and got the other hooked around it. Ken yelped as both boy and stool went falling forward.
Yohji caught the boy easily, side stepping to avoid the rest of the water that came sloshing out of the watering cat. Ken leaned against him for a few moments, trying to figure out what had happened. Yohji could feel the boy's heartbeat racing from the panic of the fall, as the younger assassin was pressed up against his chest. Yohji loosened his grip on his team mate when Ken got his footing.
Ken stepped back, scratching his head embarrassedly with one hand and waving the can around with the other. "Gomen! I was looking out the window, thinking about how nice it is today. I didn't notice..." He stopped when Yohji caught the can before it could knock against his head, and his sheepish grin widened. "Sorry," he said again.
Yohji shook his head slowly, a faint smile gracing his lips. "Hopeless, Ken. You're hopeless." He reached up to run a hand through his hair. "Now I have to comb my hair again. I'll be back." He waved a hand in farewell, trotting towards the stairs. "Clean up the water without slipping in it, will ya?" he asked over his shoulder.
"I'm not _that_ clumsy," Ken protested.
Yohji just laughed in reply, moving upstairs. He turned onto the second hall. It had been decided yesterday that Weiß would soon move out, but he hadn't started packing yet. There would be plenty of time later, he was sure. Besides, it would be hell packing all of his things away. Too much work.
He pushed open his door, entering and reaching for the lightswitch at the same time. He turned to close the door as his fingers found the switch and turned it on.
/About time you got here./
Yohji jumped, startled, and whirled around. "What-" he started to demand, but the words died on his lips. Schuldig was sprawled out on his sheets, naked as a jaybird from head to toe. Yohji unconsciously retreated a step, wide green eyes locking with Schuldig's jade ones.
Schuldig laughed, sitting up in a lazy motion. "Crawford told me to go lie down," he said in reply to Yohji's cut-off question. "I prefer sleeping without clothes. More freedom that way." He smirked, aware of Yohji's discomfiture, and slid off the bed. "You don't _mind_, do you?"
"Get your clothes on and get out of my room!" Yohji snapped, regaining his tongue. He turned back around, closing a hand tightly on the knob so he could leave. Screw the comb. He could wait until Schuldig was gone.
"I was waiting to see if you'd join me." Schuldig flitted foward, catching Yohji's wrist. In a quick and efficient motion he turned Yohji and pressed him against the door so they were chest to chest. A thought slipped through Yohji's mind about the similar contact between Ken and himself. "Ah, you like the clueless type?" Schuldig asked, smirking at him.
"Let go of me." He tested Schuldig's grip. This was ridiculous. He was being pinned against his own bedroom door by a naked temporarily-on-truce enemy.
"You remember that kiss, ja?" Schuldig asked him, tilting his face closer.
Yohji turned his head away. "That's sick, Schuldig. We're both guys."
"How easily you dismiss something now that you liked then."
Yohji bristled and glared at him. "I didn't-"
Schuldig kissed him. It was just as demanding as Yohji remembered. It was Schuldig taking him from the mouth down, forcing his way inside Yohji's mouth and commanding Yohji to respond to it. It was thrilling, it was scary, and it was damn good. He groaned slightly. Schuldig pulled back, smirking and tilting his head to one side. "You didn't, didn't you?" he taunted.
"Let me go."
"You screw women all the time. Why not a casual fuck with a man now and then, hm?" Schuldig waggled his eyebrows at Yohji.
"Because I'm _straight_!"
"Are you?" Schuldig reached down and closed his hand over the front of Yohji's pants. It sent an electrifying jolt straight through the playboy's core. He yipped in protest, shoving Schuldig forcefully away. The German allowed himself to be pushed, so Yohji yanked open the door and darted downstairs. Schuldig's mental laughter followed him. Yohji ground his teeth together as he fled. He needed a smoke or something to do, anything to take away the taste of that kiss and the remaining vibrations of the spark Schuldig had briefly ignited.
He yanked open the back door and ground to a halt. Aya was standing there, holding a few grocery bags, one hand extended towards the door in preparation to open it. Aya eyed him. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." ~Nothing I would tell _you_, anyway.~ He moved past Aya towards the car.
Schuldig lounged at the base of the stairs, watching Weiß work. Their redhead leader had just gotten home from visiting that vegetable he still called a sister. While the extra help was obviously appreciated by Ken, Yohji didn't seem to like the fact that he'd just been booted from his lazy spot by the counter. The playboy reluctantly entered the thick crowd of girls, grumbling inwardly.
"If you're not going to buy anything, get out." Aya's flat voice carried well over the din. There was a momentary lull in action and noise, then the girls immediately latched on to random flowers and flower boys. Schuldig smirked, leaning back against the stage and wincing inwardly at the dull throb of pain moving gave him. He probably shouldn't have left the hospital, but the pain would fade in time.
He hadn't been able to explain the deep compelling force that ordered him out of the hospital and away from the white beds there. Perhaps it was because there he would have too much time to think- think about Meirth, Einsam, and Taketori. He shuddered internally. All three of those men had been seriously fucked up in the heads. Meirth, the bastard who had ruined his past and Einsam's. Once Schuldig had fancied him, enjoyed the time with an empath. Pleasure could be rocketed to insane levels with such a power, and both had taken advantage of it. Unfortunately, Schuldig had never paused to consider that Meirth would use pain against him in an attempt to break him and claim him. It had almost worked, and a shattered Schuldig had been yanked from the country by his two teammates, Crawford and Farfarello. Their other two partners had already been snagged by the man, and Nagi had not yet been discovered. After Meirth was Einsam, the young half-German boy who had once had a mind of his own. He had been deteriorated by his own power and the cruelties of two of his group. Once Loneliness and Guilt had found a refuge together, but that was before Einsam had lost his strength, before the boy became obsessed with the silence only Meirth could provide for him, before the boy became obsessed with Meirth. The third one of the group, Taketori...Well, it went without saying what a fuck-off that man was.
Schuldig wanted to forget about all of that. He wanted to forget about all of _them_. The best way to do that was to act like nothing had ever happened. That meant ignoring the pain that still throbbed within him. That meant returning to old habits- one of which was frequent sex.
He hadn't meant anything when he'd kissed Yohji that first time. It had been a desperate attempt to get Yohji's mind off of what he had just witnessed, hidden under a strained smirk and mocking eyes. As Schuldig had let himself out of the hospital, however, he had reevaluated the action. Yohji was, after all, a playboy, and a bisexual in denial. Schuldig had known that since the beginning, but had never bothered to act on it. Now that he needed to feel like he was back in control, he had turned towards Yohji. The man would be good to amuse him for a while, good to help him get back on his feet.
/Having fun, Weiß?/ Schuldig sent at him.
Yohji paused in his flirting, then answered in clipped tones, ~Leave me alone. I don't want to talk to you.~
/Are you still angry that I kissed you?/ Schuldig's smirk widened. /Or angry that you enjoyed it?/
~I said leave me alone.~ Yohji laughed at something a girl said, but Schuldig could hear the strain under it as Yohji tried to control his temper. The playboy glanced at Schuldig, murder briefly shining in his eyes.
/Ah, that's right. I forgot. You don't want me to bother you because it's not me you're interested in. How about Ken? You thought of him earlier, when I was pressed against you. Look at him, Yohji./ Against his will, Yohji glanced in that direction. /How would you like to grab him now and kiss him, and teach him everything his naive mind doesn't know?/ He sent along a few choice images.
Yohji jerked his gaze away from his teammate and Schuldig laughed. ~Don't say such things!~ he snapped. ~Ken is my _friend_.~
/You can still fuck each other. Remember that. Besides,/ and Schuldig gave a lazy stretch, /all you have to do is try this once. If you absolutely hate it,/ -which Schuldig knew he wouldn't- /then I'll stop bugging you and turn to someone else./
Yohji shook his head slightly. ~I'm willing to be your friend, Schuldig, not your lover.~
/What a prude./ Schuldig rolled his eyes and leaned back against the stairs. /I don't want a friend, Kudou. I want someone to fuck./
/Like at Ken?/ Schuldig ignored Yohji's mental protesting and warning glare, turning to watch Ken as Nagi made his way towards the stairs. It was merely a show, of course. Ken wasn't the one Schuldig wanted. The boy was talking to Omi and mentioned school. A flash went through the child's mind, of Meirth's face, along with pained thoughts. Ken immediately noticed his mistake and apologized, guilt racing through him that he had caused his young friend pain. /Smooth, Hidaka./
~What do you want?~ bugnuks boy asked impatiently.
/Just to compliment you on how you handled that situation. Remind the boy that his substitute friend betrayed him, why don't you?/ Schuldig snickered. /I'm sure he appreciated it./
~Go bug someone else, why don't you?~ Then Ken had a small enlightenment, connecting Yohji's strange behavior with Schuldig's presence.
Schuldig sighed with a fair amount of disgust that the boy had taken so long to figure that out. /A bit slow, but you get the picture./ He slipped away. Nagi was now sitting a couple steps above him, and the two Schwarz watched as the remaining clump of schoolgirls was taken care of and sent off.
Ken sighed heavily in relief when the last one was gone and flopped against the counter he was by. "If I see one more girl today, I'll-"
Two women entered the shop as he was speaking. "You'll what?" the redhead in front asked.
"Manx," Aya said calmly, a greeting. "Birman."
"Is everyone here?" Birman looked around, and her eyes briefly met Schuldig's. Schuldig let her thoughts flow through him. What a boring person she was.
It was Omi that answered. "Crawford and Farfarello are downstairs already." Birman moved to stand behind the cashier, clicking her nails against the surface of the counter. The kittens removed their aprons and Weiß followed Manx out of the room. Nagi fell in beside Omi, and Schuldig tagged along by Yohji, smirking faintly. Once downstairs he draped himself over the back of the chair Yohji had selected. Yohji tensed but said nothing.
Manx made eye contact with each of them before opening her mouth and telling them why she had come. Schuldig listened in silence as she spoke of Weiß and Schwarz putting down their weapons for an extended length of time. Taking a break, possibly disbanding. When she finished, there was a long pause. Schuldig could hear the thoughts running in circles in everyone's heads: faint disapproval from Yohji, hesitant excitement from Ken, hope in Nagi and Omi, a big flat No from Aya, patience from Crawford, and various thoughts from Farfarello.
Then Ken opened his mouth, and the arguing began. Schuldig watched in amusement as it ended by Manx heading upstairs with Aya close behind her.
Crawford merely pushed his glasses further up onto his nose. "If he does not give his cooperation within three days, I will begin looking for a new employer."
Schuldig smirked. "Good."
"You don't care about getting a break?" Nagi asked him, tilting his head towards the older Schwarz.
"I don't care about either a break or a boss. A break means I can annoy the hell out of Weiß and go clubbing. An employer means I can do the same thing, get paid for it, but have to follow someone else's demands." He bared his teeth in a feral grin. "Either way, I'm not going to let the course of my life dangle on waiting for that stuck-up redhead to give in." He flicked his fingers in the direction of the stairs. "Ne, Kudou?"
Yohji gave him a cool look. "I'm siding with Aya," he replied.
Schuldig laughed into his mind. Omi and Nagi sent each other distressed looks as their hope of putting their weapons down for peace crumbled around them. Omi took Nagi's hand and squeezed it. ~How sweet. Gag.~ Schuldig turned to Farfarello. "What about you, Farfarello? Would you prefer freedom or a boss?"
Farfarello raised his amber eye to meet Schuldig's. His answer was spoken simply. "You didn't do so well with the last boss." While the reminder to his episode with Taketori was bad enough, the mental images from the Irishman dug painfully into him.
Anger boiled within him and he narrowed his eyes, inhaling quietly but sharply. All eyes were on him, and he bit his tongue to force himself not to let the anger slip out in harsh words. It was hard keeping his breathing normal, hard to make himself relax against the chair. He propped his elbow on the back of it and perched his chin on his palm, gazing calmly at Farfarello, who was waiting for a response. Schuldig's smile widened, turning cold and cruel. /I will pray to God for you, Farfarello, in hopes that He forgives your sins and makes you his personal angel./
Those were not words Farfarello expected to hear out of Schuldig, and the words as well as who they came from produced a strong reaction in Farfarello. The man recoiled, amber eye widening as he gave Schuldig a sharp glance. Anger and panic mingled in his mind.
"Schuldig," Nagi protested.
Schuldig laughed. "Naive little Irishman probably has no clue what I meant," he drawled, meeting Farfarello's gaze and knowing that Farfarello had understood all too well. He straightened and stretched. "Now I'm off to entertain myself." He started toward the stairs. Farfarello cringed away from him when he passed- not in fear, but in heated anger.
/Don't you dare mention what happened ever again, Farfarello. Is that clear?/ Schuldig sent towards him without a backwards glance, continuing up the stairs.