White Bird

~Aya's going to kill me, Aya's going to kill me, Aya's going to kill me…~ It was a mantra thought in time to the rapid puffing of his cigarette. Yohji stood beside his open window, staring out at the stars. He reached the filter in very little time and blew a great cloud of wispy smoke into the night air, sending the cigarette butt after it as he rummaged for another one. Green eyes glanced back towards the bed, taking in the still form that was sleeping under his covers.

~Aya's _definitely_ going to kill me.~

Granted, Aya rarely came to Yohji's room. He treated his teammates as he wished to be treated- he stayed the hell away from their private space for the most part and ignored them when he could. But it would be just Yohji's luck that tomorrow would be one of the rare days it was Aya sent to fetch him for work.

Not that Yohji thought he would be late for the morning shift the next day…He doubted he was going to get any sleep tonight.

~Okay, so maybe going back was a bad idea,~ he mused, lighting his cigarette as he ran over the events of the night in his mind. ~No, that was inevitable.~ He had to have gone back; nothing could have kept him from returning to the fallen building. He was a sucker for romances with a tragic ending- they pulled at too many heartstrings for him to leave them alone. He had gone back to see if they were still where they had fallen or if their psychotic teammates had bothered to come back for their bodies.

The blue-haired chic had been gone. That alone was confusing, because Yohji had been sure she had died. The boy had still been there, stretched out among the rubble where the white assassin had last seen him, left to rot on his own.

Except there had been a slight problem Yohji had not expected.

The boy hadn't been dead either.

He should have been dead; he had seemed dead when Weiß had left earlier that day. But he was alive when Yohji had stumbled across him. He had been unconscious, but still alive, his small body trembling faintly in the chill of the night breeze.

If Yohji had felt sorry for him- and he still could not convince himself that he had a good reason to feel sorry for such an abnormal boy and a member of Schwarz- he should have left a jacket behind to act as a blanket.

He definitely should not have picked him up, and he most definitely should not have carried the kid home.

~Aya's going to kill me, Aya's going to kill me…~ He flicked the second butt after the first and closed his window, turning to studying his bed again. After a moment he took a few cautious steps towards the bed.

If he had been thinking straight, he would not have brought the kid here. Hell, he should have dropped the kid at the ER or something. He did not know what had made him choose to bring him home. He was _Schwarz_ and now he was in their flower shop. It was a serious breach in security, though that was only if that telepathic bastard hadn't snatched their hideout from their minds already.

It was stupid and dangerous. Bad Yohji. He had to get the kid out of here.

As he reached for him, the boy shifted. Yohji leapt back, ripping a long strand of wire from his watch as adrenaline suddenly flooded his veins. But his 'guest' was not awake…He arched slightly from the bed, mouth thinning in a grimace, then sagged again with a ragged sigh. His head lolled to one side and he stilled once more, breathing uneven but quiet.

Yohji eyed him for several long moments, eyes narrowed as he debated whether or not it was safe again. Finally he willed his muscles to relax and let his wire slide back into his watch.

Well…That little stunt was as effective as a shot of caffeine. Even if Yohji had thought it remotely safe to go to sleep- which he _didn't_, not with that brat on his bed- he would not have been able to. He gave a small sigh, raking a hand through his hair as he studied the small form. The boy was virtually untouched, as if he had not brought a building down on his own head. Useful gift he had, even if it made him seriously abnormal. Yohji had not been able to find anything that would tell him why the boy was so deeply under. It was now seven hours since the building had collapsed, and that was the first time he had moved.

He realized then that he couldn't take the boy to the hospital, though he didn't know why. Disgusted with himself, he tugged his chair away from his desk- a desk he never used but Omi had insisted he buy- and sat in it to fix a piercing stare on the child. If he had moved, perhaps he was getting closer to waking. When he woke, he could waltz himself out of here.

If he didn't kill Yohji first, which he most likely would. He worked for Schwarz, a group without morals or consciences. It would mean nothing to him that Yohji had carried him out of the cold and given him a bed to sleep in.

Stupid Yohji. He should get rid of the kid before he woke, should either kill him or cast him out. It should have been easy to kill him; the kid was as bad as or worse than the targets they were paid to kill. Schwarz obviously didn't care if he lived- they had left him behind. He had the wire to kill him. It would be too easy, and it would make things a hell of a lot easier on his team in the future if Schwarz was down a member.

~Yet I'm not moving,~ Yohji mused dryly.

After several minutes of silence, Yohji stood and turned his chair around. He resettled himself on it, propping his arms on the back of the chair and resting his chin on his forearms. If he had to keep surveillance of the boy, he was at least going to be comfortable while he did it.

Fifteen more minutes passed. Yohji yawned, staring through hooded eyes at the still form. It had been a very long day, what with the shop and the mission and seven hours of thinking about the kid's tragic romance. He resented the fact that he had to keep watch on some kid for his life when he could be sleeping and dreaming of more pleasant things. He told himself he couldn't complain, since it was his fault the kid was here, but he indulged in mental grumbling anyway.


He snapped up in his chair, aware suddenly that he had fallen asleep. He didn't even remember closing his eyes, but the clock on his bedside table announced it to be past seven in the morning and light was streaming through the cracks of the blinds over his window. He rubbed at his eyes, even though hearing someone else's voice in his room was enough to banish away the remaining traces of weariness. He peered at his bed, relieved to see the kid was still where Yohji had left him. The brat wasn't moving even though he had spoken. Yohji slowly uncoiled some wire from his watch, rising from his seat and moving stealthily towards the bed.

The floor creaked slightly as Yohji approached and the boy stirred. He made a soft sound, a breathy sort of groan, and one hand slid up the covers to touch his face. At last, Schwarz-chibi's eyes slid open. He couldn't seem to get them open all the way, and stared in front of him with a dazed expression on his face. His eyes were dilated almost all the way and the pupils didn't shrink even as Yohji continued to watch him.

"Nnnn…" Small fingers rubbed at his forehead before the hand fell limply back to the sheet. The head tilted to one side and the brat squinted up at the man standing over him. There was a struggle for recognition in his eyes, and Yohji knew the moment the boy realized who he was by the way his eyes flew open wide again. He gave a strange sort of lurch backwards on the bed and then clutched at the sheets he was laying on. With a strangled gasp he rolled onto his side, curling into a ball and pressing a hand to his face.

"Good morning, chibi," Yohji drawled, feeling a bit more confident since he hadn't been smashed into a bloody pulp against the wall yet.

"Where am I?" the words were muffled through the boy's hand.

"You are currently residing in my bed," Yohji answered. "I hope you're grateful," he added, though he knew the boy was not.

"Why am I here?" The brat lowered his hand, squinting again. His eyes were finally returning to normal, and he gazed up at the white assassin that was towering over him with a blank look.

"Why are you asking me so many questions?" Yohji asked, arching a brow at the boy. He wasn't interested in trying to explain to the boy that he'd felt sorry for him. Instead he pointed towards the door. "Take the stairs down, head right, take the first right, and you'll find yourself on the main street. Find your own way home from there. I kept you for a night; now get out of my hair."

The boy considered this for a moment, then pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. His arms were shaking badly, Yohji noticed, though he told himself it could be an act. He took a step back, keeping his wire taut between his fingers as if it would do anything against a telekinetic attack. The boy crawled towards the edge of the bed and slid off feet first, slowly rising to an upright position. On the first step his legs gave out and he collapsed.

Yohji, being the idiot he was, released the wire to grab at him. He caught him just before he hit the ground and began cursing himself mentally for moving. The boy did not struggle; he was limp in Yohji's grip. The older man could hear his ragged breathing and thin fingers dug into Yohji's arm. The boy was shaking badly, and his skin was clammy. After a few moments he began to shift, trying to plant his feet on the floor and stand once more. Yohji helped him up and took a step back once more to watch.

This time the kid made it four feet before he stumbled and grabbed onto the footboard of Yohji's bed for balance.

Yohji studied him as the boy tried a third time. Was this an act? If so, it was an odd one. Why trick Yohji into thinking he was weak when it would just take the barest of thoughts to smush him into the ground? Uneasiness and uncertainty twisted together.

"Why don't you just use your gift to carry yourself out?" he asked, taking a cautious step towards the teenager.

"Shut up," came the response, just as the kid fell again. He didn't have anything to catch himself with this time and ended up on his knees on the ground. One fist pressed against his forehead, knuckles white.

Yohji heard a thud through the wall; that was probably Omi bouncing out of bed. He was the only person Yohji knew that felt that a cheery bounce out of bed led to a happy day, and he practiced this sentiment everyday. Omi's first stop was usually to Yohji's room to make sure he was awake. He needed an early start on the morning alarm since Yohji didn't usually respond until the fifth time Omi knocked.

Yohji weighed his options. Finally he closed the distance between himself and his temporary companion. Ducking down, he looped his arms under the child's and lifted him. He absently reflected that it was way too easy to do so- the kid weighed nothing.

"Let go," the boy demanded flatly.

"You're taking too long to get out," Yohji informed him, turning around and swinging the kid back onto the bed. The brat looked faintly queasy as Yohji deposited him there and Yohji studied him intently. He didn't look healthy at all, and the last five minutes had proved he couldn't leave the apartment on his own strength.

"Now you're going to listen to me," Yohji told him. "My teammates don't know you're here, and while I'm sure they would be _very_ happy if I were to inform them of that, I'd rather they didn't know." There was a creak from the ceiling; Aya had woken. Schwarz-chibi stared back at him, his blank gaze somehow seeming insolent. "You're not supposed to be here."

"Obviously," came the quiet response.

There was a knock at the door and a cheerful "Yohji-kuuuuuuuun, time to get up!"

Yohji didn't reply; Omi was used to him not responding on the first few tries. There was a rat-tat-tat of the boy's slippers as he darted back down the balcony to his own room, and Yohji listened to the door close before speaking again. "You took too long to get out," Yohji said, gesturing over his shoulder at the door. "The others are awake now. This is what is going to happen. I have to go to work in an hour. After I leave, you're going to leave. The others will be gone by then. Understand?"

The boy eyed him for a long moment, then nodded. Yohji allowed himself a moment of relief. The kid was obviously sick, which was very lucky for Yohji. It made his life expectancy just a little bit longer.

There was a heavy rattling; Ken had gotten back from his morning run and was now jogging up the stairs. Instead of continuing up the second flight to his own room, however, he began pounding on Yohji's door.

"Oiiiiiiiii, Yohji!"

"Ah, shit." Yohji moved without thinking, planting a fist against the boy's chest to flatten him against the bed and yanking the sheet over him. Ken, unlike Omi, would wait for Yohji to answer on the first knock. He headed for the door but paused when he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror on the far wall. He was still dressed in his assassin gear; the only thing he had removed last night had been his coat. Swearing, he kicked off his shoes and grabbed his bathrobe, tugging it tightly around him in hopes of hiding the dark outfit. A sharp twist unlocked the door and he opened the door a crack, allowing Ken to see just a sliver of his face.

He squinted at the younger man in feigned annoyance. "Keep it down, will you?"

Ken grinned, offering up a Styrofoam cup. "I bring a peace offering," he said. "Passed the coffee shop on the way back and remembered you whining about running out of beans."

"Ahh…Thanks." Yohji accepted it, offering his teammate a smile. "I'd invite you in, but…" He waggled his eyebrows meaningfully. "I have better company."

Ken rolled his eyes. "I'll never understand how you keep up with everything, Yohji," he said, heading towards the second flight of stairs. "Flower shop, work, clubbing, women…You're insane."

"Don't I know it," Yohji answered dryly. "See you in an hour."

"Ja~" Ken called, and the stairs rattled again as he headed towards his own room.

Omi popped his head out of his room before Yohji could close the door. He offered his older teammate a smile through his toothbrush. "I thought I heard your voice…Good morning, Yohji-kun."

"Morning, chibi." Yohji ducked back into his room and tugged the door shut. Ken and Omi generally worked together to make sure the oldest assassin on their team was up and ready for work. It was a pleasant surprise, however, to have Ken deliver coffee to his doorstep. Yohji grinned as he locked the door again, wondering what it would take to make that delivery part of the morning ritual. Ken probably wouldn't mind doing it if he asked.

The sheet was shoved aside and Yohji turned his attention back on the boy he'd brought home last night. The boy looked faintly indignant, perhaps due to Yohji's method of hiding him from view. Dark eyes studied the coffee for a moment before lifting to Yohji's face.

Yohji wondered absently then if the boy was going to be able to make it back to wherever he belonged. Would an hour make any difference or would he be collapsing the entire way back? He told himself that it didn't matter as long as the kid got far away from here. It would majorly suck if one of his teammates showed up to pick him up. He turned his back on the boy, heading towards the kitchenette. He leaned against the counter, sipping at his drink. His 'captive' was slowly sitting up, moving very carefully.

It was hard to believe he was such a dangerous opponent when he looked nothing more than a scrawny, sick kid. Yohji held a small mental argument with himself, then set his cup aside and rummaged through a drawer for some medicine. He didn't even know what the kid was sick with, but he figured some generic painkiller wouldn't hurt. He filled a mug with water from the sink and toted the box and the drink back to the bed. The boy looked up at his approach and watched as he tossed the packet of pills to the mattress.

A frown graced his mouth as he picked up the medicine, and he studied it as if he hadn't seen it before. After a moment, he cast a considering look up at Yohji, who was holding out the mug in offering.

"Just take it before I regret giving you anything," Yohji told him.

There was a pause as the boy held his own internal debate, and then a small hand lifted up to accept the cup. Yohji watched as he swallowed both pills before returning to his coffee. He shouldn't have given the kid medicine. He didn't want the boy to get better; this was a dangerous enough dance as it was considering what power the kid possessed. He drank the rest of his coffee, gazing over the rim at his bed. The boy was holding his mug in both hands as he finished off his water, and he met Yohji's stare calmly.

Yohji chucked his cup into the trashcan, glancing towards the clock. He needed to start getting ready. Breakfast was first on the list, but…He peered towards Schwarz-chibi again to find the boy studying his room. Should he feed him or not?

On the one hand, there was no reason to offer such hospitality to a dangerous enemy of his. On the other, it was a kid, and he was sick.

Decisions, decisions…He shifted from one foot to the other, gnawing lightly on his lower lip as he turned the question over in his head. At length he gave a sigh, disgusted with himself, and raked his hair out of his face.

"Oi." What was the kid's name, anyway? The blue haired chic had said it, but Yohji didn't remember. He supposed it didn't matter. Dark blue eyes returned to his. "What do you generally eat for breakfast?" The boy frowned at him, as if he found it strange question to be asked. Then again, it was, considering who they were to each other. "I usually just have toast and fruit; that all right?"

What did it matter if the kid approved or not? Yohji didn't _have_ to feed him.

He received no response, and Yohji squished the annoyance over the boy's lack of cooperation. He pulled two saucers down from the cabinet and started the first two slices of bread in the toaster. The fruit bowl was almost empty; he needed to go shopping. He rummaged around in it, searching for peaches that were still looking all right. He managed to find two good ones as the toast popped up. He couldn't help but be faintly amused that he was delivering breakfast in bed to one of Schwarz, but it wasn't like the kid could walk on his own.

He carried a peach and the toast to the boy, who accepted the food after a slight hesitation. Yohji returned to the kitchen and made toast for himself. They ate in silence, watching each other as they did so. The boy set his saucer neatly on the bedside table when he finished and gave the sheets around him a once-over to make sure there were no crumbs. Yohji was relieved that he was a tidy eater; he didn't like the idea of butter on his sheets.

A door closed and the balcony rattled as Omi darted off for school. Yohji shrugged out of his robe. He was going to have to take a quick shower…He had been so occupied with the mission and the kid across the room from him that he hadn't gotten the chance to bathe last night. He found his towel, sent a final glance towards his temporary roommate, and disappeared into the bathroom.

He cleaned quickly, as he was running out of time and he didn't like not being able to keep an eye on Schwarz's youngest.

When he emerged from the bathroom ten minutes later, the boy appeared to have fallen asleep again. Yohji dressed with one eye on the boy, but the kid didn't stir. There was a warning knock on his door- just a single rap from Ken as the athlete went down to ready the shop for opening. Yohji could hear his voice; he was talking to Aya. Yohji listened to them pass but didn't move.

After a long moment, he sighed, gathered his keys, and stepped out of his room. The boy would be gone before work got out at the end of the day, and then Yohji could forget about the bizarre morning. He locked the door behind him and headed down towards the shop.


The boy was still there when Yohji got off work, so it was a good thing Yohji showed up to his apartment without one of his teammates on his heels. He opened the door, took one step in, and froze when he saw that he still had company. But the other assassin wasn't in bed where Yohji had left him; he was on the floor just a few feet from the door. He was fast asleep or unconscious where he'd fallen on his attempt to leave the apartment, and Yohji wondered how long ago that had been. He stepped the rest of the way inside and shut the door behind himself, locking it. His shoes were toed off and pushed to one side, and Yohji considered his unlikely patient. The smart thing to do would be to leave him there. After all, he really didn't want to see what happened to people who woke little demons up.

The stupid side of him seemed to enjoying its freedom, though, because he made his way over to the youth and eased him into his arms. He expected the younger man to snap awake at the touch. Instead there was a slurred "Shlllich…?"

Yohji considered that, paused where he was crouching beside the kid. That sound again. A mangled name… The cocky telepath came to mind and Yohji frowned, wondering why Nagi had called out to the telepath both times he'd woken up. He sighed, shifted his grip, and picked the kid up off the wooden floor. That was enough to wake his charge; dark blue eyes slid open and gazed blearily up at Yohji's face.

"Let me go," he managed to get out.

"You're about four feet off the ground," Yohji answered. "Do you really want me to drop you?" He didn't wait for an answer but went back to his bed and set the younger man down onto it. The dark-haired youth lifted one hand to his face as Yohji straightened, pressing the back of it to his forehead. Yohji eyed him for a moment, fists on his hips, and then reached out to touch the younger man's forehead as well. It was burning up, and his hand was still clammy. "You really shouldn't be napping on cold floors when you're sick, you know. Only stupid people do that. Now stay put."

The kid pushed his hand away. "I don't want to be here."

"I don't want you here, either, but you didn't leave." Yohji headed back into the kitchen for another glass of water, pausing at the door to lock it on his way. He found more medicine and carried the pills back to the bed, watching as the younger man very carefully pushed himself upright. "I forgot your name."


Yohji arched an eyebrow at him. "Let's review things as they stand so far. You blew up a building and your team left you behind. I carried you out of the rubble and brought you back here and gave you my bed. I gave you breakfast and medicine and put you back in my bed when I came back from work and am about to give you more drugs. I don't see why giving me your name is such a big deal. The blue haired chic said it a few times but I forgot it."

The younger man's expression tightened; a flicker of pain darted through his eyes and he glanced away. "Tot…" he murmured.

"Tot. Yes. Fluffy girl. Hurry up and get better so you can go gallivant off with her somewhere like the little lovebirds you are."

He was not expecting the vicious look his patient threw him. Suddenly the youth looked nothing like an ill child and was every bit the fierce and dangerous telekinetic. Yohji had no clue what he'd said wrong, unless the younger man didn't want him nosing about in his business. Yohji shrugged and held out the cup. "Chill out, will you? After you tell me your name, perhaps you'll tell me how both of you managed to survive that building blowing up."

The younger man grabbed at him, one hand flying up to catch his wrist, and Yohji dropped the glass. It spilled all over his blankets and the boy, but Schwarz's littlest didn't notice. His eyes were locked on Yohji's face, and his other hand caught his elbow. "Say that again," he ordered, voice strained as he searched Yohji's gaze.

"Say what again?" Yohji asked, bewildered.

"About surviving."

Yohji blinked, then realized that the younger man was unconscious still when Yohji had shown up. "The rest of Schreient went down in the building," he said. "Afterwards there were just the two of you amongst the rubble. When I showed up later to find you, she was already gone."

Something fractured in the back of the younger man's gaze, something haunted and bright all at once, before he managed to cover it up. Yohji was fascinated and curious by such a look. The youth let go of him and picked up the cup, dropping his gaze to the blankets as he smoothed at the wet sheets. Yohji watched him, wondering if it was his imagination that the other assassin's hands were shaking. He weighed his options, then took the glass away and retreated to the kitchen to refill it. When he came back the other was composed again, sitting against the headboard with his fingers laced together in his lap. He accepted the cup when Yohji offered it and took some medicine, draining the rest of the water after he had swallowed the pills. He put the cup on the nightstand and Yohji tugged the wet blanket off the bed.

"Good thing that was water," he mused.

"Sorry," said the boy on the bed.

Yohji glanced over at him with a blank look on his face. "Eh?"

"About the sheets." There was no remorse in his voice, nothing apologetic on his face, but the fact that he'd actually said such a thing aloud threw Yohji back. It took him a little while longer to respond, and he glanced at the rest of the bed and then the youth's clothes.

"Don't worry about it," he said, picking the comforter up and carrying it off to the side. He had a spare quilt in the closet and he pulled it and some sheets free from the shelves. He gathered the stack in his arms and headed back to the bed. "I suppose you'll have to borrow something of mine." It was the youth's turn to give Yohji a blank look. "You're soaking wet. You're sick as it is, and right now my goal is to get you healthy. The quicker you get better the quicker you're out of here, and sitting in wet clothes kind of works against that." He dropped his armful on the ground and headed to his dresser.

There was silence for a few minutes as he dug around for something, and then the younger man wanted to know, "Why?"

"Who knows?" Yohji asked. "How long are you planning on being sick, anyway?"

"I wasn't planning on it," came the prim response, and Yohji grinned despite himself. He found some loose pants and a big shirt and carried them and an extra towel over to his chair.

"You get dressed over there and I'll remake the bed," he said. "If you can make it there." He was given a cool look for those last words, but the younger man said nothing because he didn't really know if he could. Yohji watched as he crawled across the mattress and eased himself to his feet. His patient managed to make it the short distance to the chair, but he had to hold onto things on his way. "You sure got sick fast," he remarked. "You seemed fine on the mission."

The boy glanced back at him, knuckles white on the chair he was leaning against. He stared at Yohji for a long moment in silence and Yohji was starting to wonder if he had something on his face when he finally got a response. "Why haven't you killed me?" the younger man wanted to know.

Yohji thought this over for a long time, weighing every possible reason. At last he said, "I don't want to." He got a small frown in response to that and elaborated, turning away to make the bed as he talked. "I never thought I'd end up like this, in a job where I killed people to make my living. Started out as a private detective and I never had the need to take a life. But I've been with Weiss for a few years now, and there are so many graves out there I've made. Sold my soul to the devil for money, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it. You're Schwarz, our mortal enemies, the only people we see that are real threats to us. You kind of represent everything we're fighting against, the cruelty and darkness we want to bring to justice. You're demons and nightmares, and just because I've taken you in now doesn't mean I think you're a good person. But... Not everyone is completely bad either, or so I like to believe. Schwarz included."

He straightened the new sheets and considered his work, listening to cloth rustle as his temporary companion got dressed. "I don't want to kill people. I kill them because we're told to, because there's something to gain from it. But right now…? You're sick. You've done nothing so far to give me a reason to kill you, so I'd rather avoid it. All I ask in return is that you don't kill me until the next time we meet on the field. I'd rather not nurse you back to health and be smashed to little bits as you waltz out my apartment door. Think that sort of truce is possible?"

He glanced over at the younger man, studying the way he was absolutely dwarfed in the clothes Yohji had picked out for him. He couldn't hide the amused grin that pulled at his lips and the younger man arched a thin brow at him before regarding the baggy clothes himself. "Nagi," he said after a few minutes of consideration.

"Nagi?" Yohji echoed, though as soon as it was spoken aloud he remembered that that was the boy's name. "Well then, Nagi. Get back in bed."

Nagi's stomach chose that moment to gurgle and it was Yohji's turn to cock an eyebrow at him. "I suppose you haven't had anything other than toast to eat. Right. Float yourself back to bed and I'll see if there's anything in the kitchen. I'm starving, too."

Nagi inched his way carefully back towards the bed, moving more slowly this time so he wouldn't trip over the trailing hems of the pants he was wearing. "I won't kill you," Nagi decided. "But it won't be by choice. Funny that I actually believe all of that bullshit you just said."

"Glad to hear it," Yohji said dryly. "Such language, though. So how is it not by choice? You have some personal code of conduct? Notion of honor?"

Nagi eyed him for a moment as if debating whether or not to tell him, and then offered up, "I threw my gift out yesterday." Yohji had no clue what that meant and said so. "Used too much," Nagi explained, and crawled onto the mattress.

"So why didn't Schwarz come back for you?" Yohji asked. "Your telepath had to know that you were still breathing, so why was I the one saddled with carrying you home? Why didn't Schuldich do it? He's the one you were calling for in your sleep."

Nagi's expression bled from his face, and he turned a stony look on Yohji. Yohji sighed, realizing that he wasn't going to get an answer. He wasn't entirely sure he'd wanted an answer, though- he wanted Nagi to think those questions over and wonder why it was a Weiss taking care of him. Yohji didn't wait long for a response and went to the kitchen to make dinner. He found something that only took half an hour and sipped at a beer as he worked. If only his teammates could see him now… They'd definitely kill him. He still wasn't entirely sure how he was suddenly so comfortable in the youth's presence. The small concessions the younger assassin had made- his name and an explanation for his current weakness- were surprising. Yohji could just hope that this stay would be painless and the telekinetic would be out of his hair soon.

"So," he asked as he carried bowls of rice and vegetables out into his bedroom. "Have you been able to float things since you were a baby?"

"Do you always talk so much?" Nagi wanted to know.

"You have no idea," Yohji said, making himself comfortable at the foot of the bed. "Aya says I talk because I like the sound of my own voice. Maybe he's right."

"I don't want to talk," Nagi told him.

Yohji shrugged and handed over the younger man's dinner. "Suit yourself. I'll talk, then, and you can listen."

And so he talked, mostly aimless things with no real value, because he didn't want to have the silence to think in. He didn't want to think too hard about what was going on or he was going to talk himself into doing something drastic about this. So he talked as they ate and talked after their bowls were put aside, and only shut up when he realized Nagi had fallen asleep again. Yohji stayed where he was for a few minutes longer, then cleared the dishes away. It took him half an hour to figure out where he was going to sleep. His chair wasn't comfortable at all, and while he told himself that the child could truly be faking this to get some inside information on Weiss or whatever, Yohji needed sleep because tomorrow was another long day at work. In the end he crawled into bed because Nagi was on the far side and he didn't take up a lot of room. Yohji set his alarm and buried himself under the covers, and was asleep within fifteen minutes.


When Yohji woke up, there was a smaller body pressed up against him. They were tangled together, warm limbs and soft skin, and it took him a few minutes to figure out what was going on. His first thought was – ~Do I remember her name?~ – and then, ~I don't remember bringing someone home last night.~

The alarm woke up the other sleeper just as Yohji remembered who he had crawled into bed with the previous night, and he felt the younger man go rigid against him. They lay there in silence for a tense moment, neither sure of how to react to this, too startled and wary to move apart. Finally Yohji pulled himself free, pushing himself upright and turning off the clock. There was a thud in the distance as Omi woke up, and green and dark blue eyes studied each other's closed off expressions.

"My fault," Yohji said. "I figured there was room to share. Guess my subconscious thought there was a girl in bed."

Nagi said nothing. Yohji got up from bed and went to the kitchen to make breakfast. He was only halfway to the door when Omi rat-tat-tatted his way down the balcony and knocked on his door, and Yohji cracked it open enough to tell his teammate he was awake. He endured Omi's cheerful greeting and bright smile before shutting the door in his face and continuing on in his search of food. As he stared in at the contents of his fridge, he thought to himself, ~My fault, surely. But we were in the middle of the bed. We met halfway, and it wasn't me holding him. He was holding onto me too. I didn't think he and Tot were that close; that kiss of theirs was really awkward.~

Yohji shook himself from his thoughts because they were ridiculous. He dug some yogurt out of the fridge and made toast, then poured some cups full of juice. Nagi had retreated back to his side of the bed and was sitting up. Yohji handed over some food and retreated to his chair to eat his own portion, and they both picked opposite directions to look in while they ate. Yohji collected Nagi's dishes when the younger man was through and dropped them off at the kitchen before getting ready for the day. As he toed into his shoes at the door, he looked back at Nagi.

"If you're feeling better, feel free to leave," he said. "If you're sick, then sleep. I moved the medicine to the night stand if you need more. I'm supposed to be wooing women in my free time, not tending to my mortal enemy when he's sick, so I do hope you appreciate it."

Nagi had nothing to say to that, not that Yohji expected anything, and the older assassin stepped out into the sunlight. He locked the door behind himself and headed downstairs to work.


Yohji had the next day off work, and he took advantage of the morning to go grocery shopping. He shifted his basket from one hand to the other as he considered the meat selection, and finally reached out to pick a pack up from the shelf. It hadn't gone but a few inches before someone's hand pushed his and the pack back into place, and Yohji sent a startled glance to one side to see Schwarz's telepath standing right beside him. Green eyes went wide and he jerked back from the other man, almost dropping his basket in his retreat.

"Pray tell, little Weiss, what is it do you think you'll get out of nursing Nagi back to health?" Schuldich wanted to know, skipping any semblance of a greeting to go straight to the point.

"The knowledge that my conscience is still intact," Yohji answered, eyeing the other man warily. "If you don't appreciate it, maybe _you_ should have gone back for him instead of me."

"It won't save your life, you know."

"I'm not stupid enough to assume that." Yohji reached into his basket and rearranged things. "But it would have been simpler if you'd gone back and picked him up. You're the one he's calling for, anyway."

Schuldich just looked at him for a long moment and said nothing, and Yohji drew a score sheet in his mind and marked a few points for himself. He reached back towards the meat and Schuldich reached out again to push the pack back. Yohji turned on him, waiting for some sort of explanation. "Do you mind?" he asked.

There was a pause for just a moment, and then the telepath explained. "He can't handle red meat when he's sick," he said.

"See? You know these things. I don't. Why aren't you playing doctor?"

"Schwarz is too busy to worry about someone who was stupid enough to throw their gift." Schuldich gave a shrug and tossed a pack of chicken into Yohji's basket. "You have nothing better to do and you're simple minded enough that you'll actually do it, so we'll let you waste your time and efforts to get him healthy again and we'll profit from your hard work."

"How very typical of Schwarz."

"Indeed." Schuldich dropped a box of crackers in Yohji's basket as well and Yohji arched an eyebrow at him. "Get him better quickly," Schuldich told him, offering him a thin smirk. "We're on a busy schedule."

"What the fuck ever. Are you paying for those crackers?"

"I don't feel like it." Schuldich didn't seem to care that he was in the middle of a grocery store, because he lit up a cigarette and blew a small cloud of smoke at Yohji's face. That substituted as his farewell and he turned and left.

Yohji stood there for several minutes after he'd gone, wondering what the hell had happened to the normal routine of his life. The past few days had been nothing short of surreal. At last he sighed, shifting his grip on the basket, and looked down to study the crackers Schuldich had given him. He could only assume they were for Schwarz's missing teammate. They were some wheat and barley brand that he would have never picked for himself, as they sounded completely unappetizing. He idly wondered if he should take them out and put them back on the shelf, but there wasn't a real reason to do so, so he finished up his shopping and paid for the crackers with the rest of his stuff.

The crackers sat in his lap as he drove back to the shop and he kept one hand on the wheel while his fingers tapped at the box. His thoughts circled around his brief meeting with Schuldich and the memory brought a frown to his face. He hadn't made it halfway home before deciding that Schuldich was a liar. The words he'd spoken had been the words of Schwarz: their teammate was useless to them weak and it was his fault he was in such a state, so they couldn't be bothered with him. But the fact that Schwarz left Nagi with him when they obviously knew where he was, and the fact that Schuldich had not only hunted down Yohji but corrected his food choices and given him a specific brand of crackers, made him wonder.

Maybe Schuldich was in charge of keeping an eye on his teammates, the way Omi was in charge of Weiss. If he was a telepath, he could easily keep track of how they were doing and keep them in line and together. That would explain his interest in his teammate, though not why he let Yohji keep him. And why was Nagi calling for Schuldich? At last Yohji decided that that was how Schuldich knew where Nagi was; certainly Nagi had been calling out to the telepath to let him know that he was alive and taken in. He'd been looking for a mind he recognized.

Ken was out back working on his bike when Yohji showed up and called a cheerful greeting as he watched the older man unload his bags. When he offered to help carry, Yohji was quick to turn him down, and he made it safely up to his apartment. Nagi was stretched out on his stomach on the bed when he came in, staring avidly at an empty ash tray he'd laid out in front of him. He ignored Yohji for the moment, completely focused on the small metal tin, and as Yohji watched, it began to rattle around. But for all that it twitched, it didn't lift off the bed, and Nagi buried his face in the covers and dragged his fingernails down the sheets in a silent declaration of angry defeat.

Yohji wasn't sure whether to feel amused or sympathetic and he carried the groceries over to the bed, setting them down onto the floor to drop the crackers in front of him. Nagi lifted his head at the sound of it and frowned slightly when he saw what it was. Two hands reached up to pick it up and he rolled onto his side to look up at Yohji.

"Eat up," Yohji told him. "Lunch will take a while to make."

There wasn't an argument. Nagi peeled the bag open and began chewing on a few of the square shaped crackers, blue eyes going back to the ash tray.

"I can't believe you're actually eating those," Yohji mused. "I thought he was joking when he tossed them into the basket; they look disgusting."

The ash tray went still once more. "He?" Nagi asked.

"Yeah. We're having chicken for lunch. I was going to make taco salad or something, but word on the street is that you can't handle red meat when you're ill." Dark eyes jumped to his face but Yohji was already leaning down to pick up the bags again. He saw the sharp look out of the corner of his eye and Nagi reached out to snag the sleeve of his jacket.

"He," he said. "You talked to Schuldich."

"He hunted me down in the grocery store," Yohji said, trying to untangle Nagi's death grip. It was almost funny that the boy seemed so weak most of the time but Yohji couldn't get his fist open again at the mention of the noisy telepath. "He told me that you'd better get healthy again soon, because Schwarz is on a tight schedule."

At last Nagi's grip loosened, and he drew his hand back. Yohji waited for a response but there wasn't one, and he carried the bags to the kitchen. As he was putting groceries away he chanced a peek out into the bedroom, wondering if the boy was making any success with the ash tray. It was rather interesting to see the boy powerless; after watching him throw people around like they were dolls and pull a building down on top of everyone, to see him incapable of even levitating an ash tray was bizarre. But Nagi wasn't bothering with the ash tray at all; he was curled up on his side around the box of crackers, knuckles white where he held onto it. Yohji sighed and went back to putting away the food, wondering what it must be like to be in Nagi's position. The boy was frighteningly strong and now he was completely vulnerable, trapped with one of Weiss while the other three roamed close by, ready to kill him if they discovered him. It had to be an uncomfortable situation for someone who was used to being on top, and Yohji wondered idly if Nagi resented the fact that his team didn't come for him.

When he was finished he moved to the kitchen doorway, leaning against the doorframe, and folded his arms over his chest. "Any other dietary warnings I should keep in mind this week?" he wanted to know. "If Schwarz knows you're here, then they're likely to kill me if I accidentally make you sicker than you are. I'd like to avoid that. Some of us want to live til we're twenty-five, you know."

Silence followed that for a long minute and finally Nagi looked his way. "I'm lactose intolerant," he finally offered.

"That has got to suck," Yohji said, making a face. "Cheese is the greatest invention man ever made, and you can't eat it?"

Nagi shrugged. "You can't miss something you've never had," he said simply.

Yohji sighed, shaking his head at the other's ignorance. "Then you can't even have chocolate?" he asked, disbelieving. For some reason the question brought a smile to Nagi's face. It was faint and he was positive Nagi didn't mean to do it; the boy glanced away as if to hide the quick twitch of his lips. Yohji was surprised by the reaction and a little intrigued. "Hey," he said. "What's that for?"

"It doesn't matter," was the response, and Yohji had a feeling the youth wouldn't explain. He was mildly annoyed by this, though he told himself he had no reason to be. He had never seen Nagi smile before in their several conflicts and in the past few days; he'd started thinking the boy was eternally put out or something.

He told himself to get over it, that it wasn't any of his business, and ticked off the short list on his fingers. "So you can't eat red meat when you're sick and you can't have dairy."

"I can't eat red meat most of the time, but it's worse when I've thrown my gift out. And I'm diabetic," the boy offered, and Yohji stared at him. "I'm also allergic to peanuts."

"Now you're just making this up," Yohji said, and Nagi just gave him a calm stare in response. "Are you serious? Man, that must suck. What do you eat, then, besides those freaky sounding crackers over there?"

Nagi shrugged. "Everything else."

"Well…" Yohji said, mentally scratching out his plans to have chicken taco salad smothered in cheese. "We'll have pasta, then. Any objections?" Nagi just shook his head, and Yohji turned away. He hadn't even taken a step before he paused, and for some reason, he found himself looking back at the younger boy. "You've done this before," he said, frowning slightly. "If he and you both knew that red meat is worst when you've thrown out your gift, then you've done this before."

Nagi said nothing, content to gaze back at him in silence. Yohji didn't mind; he knew he was right. "Then he took care of you last time," he guessed. "So why isn't he taking care of you now?"

"Schwarz is busy now," was the response, and Yohji heard an edge to it.

"What did he give you last time?" Yohji asked, tapping his fingernails idly against the doorframe. "When you were sick, what did he give you?"

"What does it matter?" Nagi asked, lifting his chin slightly in defiance.

"It doesn't," Yohji answered, because it shouldn't. He went ahead into the kitchen, thinking the conversation over. He was filling a pot with water from the sink when there was a loud knocking from his door, and Yohji set the pot aside. He couldn't exactly pretend like he wasn't there when his car was out back and Ken had seen him come home. With a quick look towards Nagi, who had stilled with a cracker halfway to his mouth, Yohji scooped up his bathrobe and shrugged it on, tying it around his waist. There was another knock at the door, louder this time, and he ran both hands through his hair roughly to mess it up from its perfect state.

He pulled the door open enough to squint out at his guest, and Omi blinked up at him in greeting. "Did you just wake up?" Omi asked.

"No, I was napping," Yohji said, rubbing at his eyes. "What do you want, Omi? I have the day off. Aren't you supposed to be in school?"

"It's Saturday," Omi informed him patiently. "Manx is here and she wants us all downstairs."

"Right, right…" Yohji gave an aggrieved sigh and waved Omi off. "I'm on my way."

Omi trotted off towards the stairs and Yohji shut the door, considering it for a few moments before taking his robe off and tossing it at his chair. His comb was on his dresser and he fixed his hair before scooping up his cigarettes and sunglasses. "Back in twenty, max," he said, ducking briefly into the kitchen to start the water heating. He turned it on low and set the lid on top, looking back towards where Nagi was closing up his box of crackers. "If the water boils, you can either put the noodles in or turn it off until I get back. It's on low so it'll be a while."

He was pretty sure he wouldn't get a response, so he didn't wait for one, but let himself out of the apartment. Manx and his teammates were gathered in the Koneko's basement. He had plans to stay just long enough to listen to the tape and tag himself out of it with the excuse that there weren't any pretty ladies involved, but as he listened he knew it was going to take all four of them. Manx echoed the sentiment as the tape went over, and he offered his affirmative to his teammates' with a little bit of concern as to how that was going to work around his new charge upstairs.

As soon as Manx left Omi seated himself at the computer, and Ken leaned over him to watch as he started working. "Two days?" Ken asked, sounding a little disgruntled. "She should have given us a little more heads up than that."

"If she'd known earlier, she would have given us the tape earlier," Omi pointed out, fingers flying over the keys. According to the tape, their main target was leaving the country in two days, which gave them a tiny window to work with. "We can do it," he assured Ken.

"I have faith in you," Yohji said, pushing himself up. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going back to my nap."

"So lazy," Ken taunted him.

"The girls like a laidback man," Yohji assured him, "and I'm just a few beauty sleeps away from being kill-me-now sexy."

"Yeah, if you want to kill the rest of us," Ken tossed him, and Yohji waved off the words and started up the stairs. Aya followed close on his heels and they had just reached the flower shop when there was a thud from above them. Both stilled and Aya flicked a startled glance up while Yohji cringed. His apartment was right overhead and he was pretty sure he knew what that thud was.

"I guess she's still drunk," Yohji mused, tossing Aya a lazy grin. The younger man gave him a cool look, completely unimpressed. Upstairs there was another bang, and Yohji winced inwardly. "Your face is going to stick like that one of these days, Aya. You should learn to live a little. Let me know if you ever want me to send some of my company your way."

"Keep them to yourself," Aya sent back, returning to his spot at the cash register. Yohji gave a helpless shrug and ducked out the back door, hurrying through the storage room. He took the stairs two at a time and pushed his door open quickly, expecting to see Nagi sprawled out somewhere.

The boy in question was sitting just outside the kitchen, hands curled in close to his chest. Yohji took a few steps towards him, intending to help put him on his feet, when he saw the source of the first thud. The pot of water was on its side on the floor and the water was spreading quickly everywhere. The stovetop was still on and Yohji quickly toed back into his shoes, stepping past Nagi to turn the stove off. Steam rose from the water on the floor and he turned towards Nagi, hands on his hips and eyebrow arched.

"Have a little trouble?" he asked.

"It's _hot_," Nagi shot back.

"It's been on the stove," Yohji pointed out. "Of course it's hot. That's what these are for." He stabbed a finger at the hot mitt on the counter before using it to pick the pot up. "What were you doing moving it, anyway?" he wanted to know, setting it back on the counter. The mitt was tossed back to the counter and he found hand towels in one of the drawers. Nagi watched as he started to mop the mess up and Yohji glanced towards him, seeing again the way he kept his hands half-curled near him.

He set the towels aside, moving to Nagi's side and crouching again near him. "Let me see," he said, holding his hands out. Nagi just looked at him, and Yohji reached out and caught his wrists. The boy pulled against him but he was obviously used to using his gift for things, and Yohji moved his hands to where he could see the red skin. "This is going to blister," he decided. "Come on, we have to put cold water over it." He rose to his feet and used his grip on Nagi's wrists to pull him up as well, not bothering to wait on Nagi to stand on his own. The boy was so pathetically light. Yohji was sure it wasn't natural. There was still hot water on the floor in the kitchen so he used a hand at the small of Nagi's back to push him towards the bathroom, and he turned on the faucet for Nagi and watched as he soaked his hands under the spray.

"I have burn cream around here somewhere," Yohji said, digging around in the cabinet above the sink. It was kind of awkward with Nagi right in front of him; he had to lean slightly against the youth to reach over him. He didn't want to ask Nagi to move and he was surprised that Nagi didn't move on his own to break the contact. The telekinetic didn't seem to notice that they were touching, intent on watching his hands. Yohji found the cream and some bandages and shut the cabinet, looking at their reflections in the mirror.

~Damn, he's so small…~ he thought. ~How the hell did he get dragged into all of this?~

"Better?" he asked, and Nagi glanced up to meet his gaze on the mirror. He just shrugged, and Yohji decided that was good enough. He turned off the water and carefully pat Nagi's hands dry, closing the lid to the toilet and directing him to sit there. He ended up sitting on the side of the tub to rub the cream into Nagi's hands. It reminded him of the time he'd bandaged Omi's hands up, years ago. It was on one of his first runs with Weiss and he'd been new to his wire. He hadn't been paying attention to where it was going and it had cut the hell out of Omi's hands. Yohji had felt horrible about it despite Omi's attempts to laugh it off, and he'd sat the boy down exactly where Nagi was sitting now to clean and bandage the cuts. That he was now offering the same careful treatment to Schwarz… It was made a little more difficult by the fact that Nagi was staring at him as he worked.

"What happened?" he asked.

Nagi shrugged, and Yohji arched an eyebrow at him. The boy gave a light scowl, briefly looking down at his hands. "I couldn't pick it up," he said.

That seemed to be his entire answer, so Yohji thought it over. At last he decided the most likely scenario was that Nagi had gone in to take care of the water and decided to try and use his gift on it. When that failed, he'd gotten so frustrated with his lack of power that he'd reached out to move the pot by hand, not thinking about the fact that the metal handles had been sitting over an open flame. Yohji offered him a slight smile, not amused but something close to reassuring, as he wrapped the bandages. Nagi eyed his expression. "Let's worry about the ash tray first," he said. "There's a big difference between an itty bitty ash tray and a pot with a gallon of water in it."

Nagi looked back at his hands and said nothing. Yohji finished up his work in silence. When he was finally done he stood and put the things away, something else occurred to him. He looked past Nagi towards the tub, wondering. "Well, having your hands wrapped is going to make bathing really difficult," he said, and Nagi looked from him to the tub. "I can wrap your hands in plastic, but… You're going to have a hell of a time with that."

Nagi looked from his hands to the tub and just sighed. Yohji reached out and gave his hair an affectionate ruffle. It wasn't until he was drawing his hand back that he realized what he'd just done, and he hesitated before turning away. "I'm going to make lunch," he said, and beat a quick exit from the room.

~Stupid, Kudou,~ he told himself. ~Kid or not, weak or not, he's still Schwarz. He's still the enemy.~

~And yet…~

~Get a grip, Kudou.~ He rubbed at his face, trying to shove the thoughts away. It was easier not to think once he was cleaning the kitchen up, and he concentrated on making lunch so he wouldn't have to think about the boy curled up on his bed glaring at an indifferent ash tray.


Yohji returned to the apartment after Nagi had already fallen asleep for the night, and he sighed as he toed his shoes off at the entrance. Omi had called them downstairs to go over the mission. He was making serious headway but needed Ken and Aya to check a few things out in the morning while he and Yohji worked at the shop. They'd be running their mission the following night and Omi was bound to be up into insane hours as he tried to get everything ready.

Weiss's eldest changed into his sleeping pants, setting his sunglasses and cigarettes down on top of the dresser. The glowing numbers on the clock said it was almost one in the morning. Omi hadn't wanted to keep them past midnight, but the mission was on such a close timeline that no one had been willing to leave before they were satisfied with everything that was figured out so far. Yohji moved over to his clock, picking it up to set the alarm on it. A glance towards Nagi showed he was curled up against his side of the bed and Yohji wondered if it was safe to sleep in the bed. He gave a snort at the thought, wondering at how ridiculous he was being. It was his bed, after all, and he had a long day ahead of him tomorrow: full shift at the Koneko and then a mission that evening. He needed his sleep and he wasn't going to get it on the chair.

He squelched his doubts about climbing into bed with one of Schwarz and pushed the covers back, climbing carefully into bed. He didn't want to wake the other boy, but the covers got tangled around his feet and he had to fight to get them free. It was enough jostling that the boy stirred, turning onto his back. His head lolled towards Yohji but his eyes were still closed, and Yohji was about to count himself as successful in his attempt to get into bed unnoticed when Nagi spoke.


Yohji went still, staring at his sleeping companion. Nagi's hand slid across the mattress towards him and the boy winced even in sleep at the way it hurt. Yohji reached out, carefully taking his hand and setting it back down closer to the youth. The touch didn't rouse the child; instead he gave a quiet sigh and relaxed once more. His breathing evened out as he fell back into deeper sleep, but Yohji couldn't make himself look away from the boy's face.

It was a long time before he could fall asleep, and morning came much faster than he wanted it to. The alarm woke him from his sleep and he forced tired eyes open, wanting nothing more than to roll over and smash his clock into little pieces all over the nightstand. This plan was aborted when he realized that he'd again woken up with a companion. He'd fallen asleep on his side facing Nagi and hadn't moved during the night, but Nagi had migrated across the mattress and was sleeping up against his chest. Yohji carefully pushed himself up on an arm to look down at Nagi, watching the pieces fall into place in his mind.

The picture he came up with was really, really bizarre, and Yohji half wondered if he wasn't still asleep.

A moment later the alarm worked its way through Nagi's tired mind and the boy woke up, and he tensed as he found himself staring at Yohji's bare chest. One hand reached down between them, intending to push himself further back, and he couldn't hide a grimace as he pushed his injured hand against the bed. Yohji decided to move instead and sat up, plucking up his clock and turning it off. As he set it back down he glanced back towards Nagi, who had rolled onto his back to stare up at the ceiling.

He told himself not to say anything, told himself that it wasn't his place. It wasn't any of his business. He should just get up and walk away and say nothing.

"Aren't you a little young for Schuldich?" he asked. Nagi's expression was carved from stone and he didn't say anything. "How old are you?" he wanted to know.

"What does it matter?" was the edged response.

"You look twelve," Yohji sent back. "That's just disturbing."

Nagi flicked him a flat look. "I'm sixteen," he said.

"Damn," Yohji said, rubbing at his eyes. Sixteen? That was younger than Omi.

Nagi sent him a dirty look, and Yohji was almost distracted enough from this new discovery to be impressed. It was the most emotion he'd seen on the youth's face in a while; this look was sharper than the relief over hearing Tot had survived. And where the hell had this thing with Schuldich come in, anyway? Wasn't Nagi just kissing Tot a few days ago? "When I'm eighteen, he'll be twenty-four," the telekinetic bit out. "It isn't any of your business, anyway."

"What about Tot?" Yohji asked. "She's a girl and she's more your age."

"It isn't any of your business," Nagi said again.

"But that's-" Yohji started to say, and Nagi hit him. Yohji couldn't duck away in time, not that the hit did much damage to his arm. It did backfire on Nagi, however, and his face twisted at the sharp pain. Yohji decided to drop the interrogation and caught at Nagi's wrist. "Be a little more careful," he chided the boy, and Nagi just yanked his hand free and rolled over onto his stomach to bury his face in the pillow.

Yohji decided to retreat, skipping past his usual coffee to go straight to the shower. He took longer than he meant to, as he kept getting distracted in his thoughts. Schuldich and the kid? It was impossible to imagine, and yet… He thought of Schuldich showing up in the supermarket the previous day, and he wondered if the crackers hadn't just been to make sure Yohji bought something Nagi could eat. Was it a message to the telekinetic, saying that even though Schwarz couldn't come for him yet, Schuldich knew where he was? He thought of the several times Nagi had called out for him in his weak state and found himself feeling a little uneasy. It had been one thing to harbor the child when he was one of Schwarz's, but if there was something going on between Nagi and Schuldich, it meant he had to be even more careful in how he handled the boy.

When he got out of the shower, Nagi was out of bed, and Yohji peeked in the kitchen to find him there before getting dressed. He tucked his surprise and unease deep and went back to the kitchen doorway, watching as Nagi drank the coffee he'd chosen to skip.

"You drink coffee?" he asked.

Nagi glowered at him over the rim of his mug, and Yohji made a mental note that the boy was apparently very sensitive over whatever was between him and Schuldich. His pretty little careless mask was missing this morning and Yohji idly wondered why he was so prickly about it. "Well," Yohji said, giving a shrug. "If you like it, drink however much you want. I'm not sure what it does for sick people, but whatever. I can't have Schuldich's little lover complaining to Schwarz that I'm a horrible host." He pushed away from the doorframe but hadn't taken a step in the other direction when Nagi chucked the coffee at him.

He yipped as it burned through his shirt and yanked it over his head to get the hot material off of him. When he whirled back on Nagi, the boy's precious mask was back in place, and it was Yohji's turn to glare.

"I'm not," Nagi said firmly. "Don't call me that."

"Liar," Yohji threw at him. It was petty but he didn't care.

"I'm sixteen," Nagi sent back.

"Don't tell me that Schwarz actually has a set of morals," Yohji said, feigning shock. "Did you steal those from some of the people you killed? Maybe ripped them out their backs when Farfarello turned them into chunky blood puddles all over the floor? Since when would Schuldich care about something like statutory rape?"

"And what do you know about Schwarz?" Nagi demanded. "What do you know about us?"

"I know that I'm the one taking care of you when I'm not part of your team. I know that I'm the one that went back for you when they didn't, and that Schuldich showed up in the grocery store to say that Schwarz is too busy to worry about someone stupid enough to throw his own gift. His words, Nagi, not mine. If he's the one you keep calling out to at night, then why wasn't he the one that picked you up out of the rubble?"

Nagi's mug shattered in his hand; the pieces flew in all directions and clattered against the cabinets and floor. Yohji took one moment to be grateful that Nagi was done drinking so it didn't make a mess before he realized that the mug hadn't been broken by Nagi's hand.

"Shut up," Nagi warned him quietly. "You don't know anything about Schwarz at all."

Silence fell between them for several moments. Yohji was a little wary about the sudden spike of power from the other. He thought long and hard, wondering what to do now. It was good that Nagi's power was returning, as it meant that he would be leaving soon, but it was not a good idea to get the boy angry at him when he was starting to recharge at last. At least they'd been able to be civil to each other the past few days, which had made him think that he'd perhaps survive this encounter. He didn't regret his words, because he wanted Nagi to think about why it was Weiss helping him, but he would have to watch his tongue from here on out. At last he started forward. Nagi watched him come with hooded eyes, tense for a fight, but Yohji reached past him and snagged the coffee pot off of the coffee maker. He poured himself a mug before setting the pot down and looked down at Nagi where the youth stood right in front of him.

"I don't," he agreed. "None of us do, because Schwarz doesn't want us to. But I do know that they are trusting me to return you to them in one piece, and I'm guessing they wouldn't trust me if that seer of yours hadn't said it was all right. Whether that means that they just understand that I have no interest at all in killing you or it means that you'll kill me as soon as you get your power back, I don't know and I'm not going to worry about."

There was a knocking at the door and he could hear Omi calling to him to wake up. Yohji turned away from Nagi and carried his mug over towards the door. He opened the door just a crack to reassure Omi that he was up and would be down shortly, and the younger assassin headed on down to the Koneko.

Nagi didn't leave the kitchen while Yohji downed his coffee and Yohji found a new shirt and left without another word to him.

Omi was trimming some potted plants when Yohji arrived and they worked in silence for several minutes. As Yohji was finishing up getting the drawer ready for a day of business, he glanced towards Omi. "Hey, Omi," he said, and the youth looked up from where he was lugging a large pot closer to the front. "Do you suppose it's possible to like two people at the same time?"

Omi tilted his head to one side as he considered that. "Of course," he decided at last, settling the pot down and tugging at it a little to get it turned just the way he wanted. "I think it's possible to be in love with two people at the same time, too." When he saw Yohji glance his way, he just smiled. "People fall in love because they find in someone else something they've been missing their whole life, a missing piece from their existence. But who's to say that there can only be one person out there that's exactly what we need? The people we meet, we cross paths with through a funny twist of fate. Would you think you'd be lonely the rest of your life because you just happened to miss *the* one? And what happens if fate just works out so that you meet more than one at the same time?"

Yohji thought that over for a long minute. "It sounds complicated," he decided.

"Probably," Omi agreed. "On the one hand, it'd be nice, I think, to be surrounded by people that mean everything to you. But on the other hand, how do you choose between two people when you need them both so much?" Yohji considered that in silence and Omi was finally satisfied with his plant. He looked towards Yohji, curious. "What brought that up, anyway?" he wanted to know.

"Ah, nothing," Yohji said, waving a hand to dismiss it. "Just something I heard in the store yesterday morning while waiting in line."

Omi accepted that without argument and went to open the guard to let in their first customers for the day. Omi's words stuck with him all morning, however, and at lunch Yohji retreated upstairs to seek out Schwarz's littlest. The child wasn't in bed or in the kitchen, and the bathroom was empty. Yohji stopped in the middle of his apartment, looking around in surprise as he realized the youth had ditched out. Instead of feeling relieved, he was alarmed. Nagi was healing, yes, but he wasn't completely better. Yohji didn't know if he was well enough to be out on his own already; even yesterday he'd been easily exhausted by moving around the apartment.

~Just let him go,~ Yohji told himself. ~He's fine. He's got Schwarz.~

Even still, he couldn't make himself calm down, and at last he snatched up his keys again from his dresser and hurried down the steps. He almost ran Ken over as the younger man pulled into the back of his shop, freshly back from wherever Omi had sent him, and Yohji grabbed at his shoulder. Ken pulled his helmet off, looking a little alarmed by the stressed look on Yohji's face. "Yohji?" he asked, but Yohji was already speaking.

"Can you help Omi with the shop for a little bit?" Yohji wanted to know.

"Is this about a girl?" Ken asked dubiously.

"It has nothing to do with a girl. I'll cover your shifts the rest of the week, Ken, just take mine today." He didn't wait for an answer before slipping past his bike and taking off down the sidewalk. He heard Ken call after him, worried by his friend's strange behavior, but Yohji didn't slow.

He didn't stop to think about where he was going until he took a side street down to one of the main roads. He had no clue when Nagi had left or which direction he had gone, but unless Schwarz had come to the flower shop to pick him up, there was really only one place Yohji could think of Nagi going. If the child still had trouble moving far, then the only way back to wherever the rest of his team was would be the subway. He certainly couldn't walk there, and he didn't have the money for a cab. He did, however, have a train pass. Yohji only knew this because Nagi's wallet had fallen out of his pants when Yohji had moved his wet clothes into the hamper, and since Nagi had been asleep at the time, he'd given himself permission to dig through it. The train pass had been one of the only things in it, and it had been well used.

Even still, the chance of finding Nagi was pathetically slim.

Apparently the world felt like cooperating with him that day, however, because Yohji managed to catch up to the child several blocks away. As he came up to a crosswalk, he spotted Nagi catching his breath on a bench on the other side of the street. He was just a few feet down from a subway entrance and Yohji spared a moment to congratulate himself on a perfect guess. The walk light was red but the timer said there were only twenty seconds left before he could cross, and Yohji was contemplating calling out to Nagi to wait when a blur of orange appeared at the top of the subway exit. The street was only two lanes wide, so the distance between them was small enough that Yohji could easily see the surprise on Nagi's face at his teammate's abrupt appearance.

"Schuldich-" Nagi pushed himself to his feet but he moved a little too quickly, and Schuldich had to catch him before he fell.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Schuldich demanded as he helped steady his teammate.

"I just wanted-"

"You're in no shape to be tottering all over Tokyo," Schuldich said, and Yohji winced a little at the sharpness in his tone. "What do you think you'd accomplish if you collapsed somewhere? You want to get mugged, you idiot?"

"I just…" Nagi started, and Schuldich sat him back down on the bench. The light flashed green and Yohji wondered if it was safe to approach them. At last he started forward, ignoring the common sense that said to leave. Schuldich obviously wasn't pleased to see Nagi up and about, and Yohji wondered if that meant Schuldich wouldn't take him home with him. He stepped up onto the curb barely fifteen feet down from them, but neither seemed to notice.

Either Schwarz liked silence or they were communicating mentally, but neither said anything to each other as they stared each other down. Nagi looked extremely small next to his flashy teammate and there was almost something forlorn about him as he sat there on the bench with Schuldich towering over him. At last Schuldich leaned over towards him, lifting a finger to point it at Nagi's face, and Yohji decided that the argument had indeed been taken to mental grounds. Nagi looked away at the gesture, staring off down the sidewalk in the opposite direction from Yohji, and Schuldich sighed and crouched in front of him. He perched his elbows on the bench to either side of the Japanese youth, lacing his fingers together to make a perch for his chin, and at length Nagi looked back towards him. Yohji watched on, afraid to move lest it attracted their attention. It wasn't that he feared for his life, but that it was just too fascinating to watch them interact together. It didn't matter that he couldn't hear anything they were saying. Nagi's expression now was a lot more honest than the stony looks he was so fond of, and Schuldich's expression had lost its cold mockery. He looked a lot younger without the detestable smirk on his face, and Yohji remembered Nagi's words to him this morning about the age difference between them. That meant that Schuldich was twenty-two now, same as Yohji. He'd thought the German was much older.

~They're all young,~ he realized. ~How can they be so young but be twisted so deeply?~ It was almost a horrifying realization. Weiss was a young unit, with the members all stretched between seventeen and twenty-two. Omi was in high school; the other three were supposed to be enjoying university life. Instead they were out hunting down monsters to bring justice to the world, but they were still young enough to grieve the life they'd been sucked into and the things that they had lost. How could Schwarz be the same ages but be so broken through and through? How could they delight in the things they did? It had been easy once upon a time to say that they were psychopathic demons, but the boy's behavior these past several days made such a label worthless. Nagi was a _child_.

Schuldich laughed, and it did nothing to ease Yohji's sense of despair. That wasn't the cruel laugh he'd heard on the battlefield. That was a real laugh, the laugh of a real person. The demons Weiss feared were nothing more than human.

'You don't know anything about Schwarz at all,' Nagi had told him, and he was right. Yohji wasn't sure he wanted to know what made the crucial difference between Weiss and Schwarz that made Schwarz laugh over a kill when Weiss nursed regret.

Nagi reached out, curling his fingers through Schuldich's hair. The two were attracting attention from the passing pedestrians but neither seemed to notice or care, and Schuldich pressed a kiss to Nagi's lips as he stood. It was the first time Yohji had ever seen two men kiss. He'd thought it would be something obscene, something disgusting. But it wasn't, and he wasn't sure what to make of that. It was just a simple kiss, a small gesture of affection from one to the other. Schuldich held out his hands and Nagi accepted them to get to his feet.

Schuldich started to turn Nagi away, either to take him into the subway or to guide him to the curb, and that's when the two spotted Yohji standing so close to them. Nagi's expression immediately went blank, and Schuldich quickly hid his surprise beneath a smirk. Yohji realized he was still breathing heavily from his run and he took a final deep breath to help calm his racing heart.

"You make a horrendous babysitter if you let your charge wander off," Schuldich informed him. Nagi stood between the telepath and assassin, and Yohji wondered if it was his imagination that the youth was leaning back against Schuldich. It wasn't his imagination that Nagi was still hanging onto Schuldich's wrists, but that might have been for support.

"I think he listens to you more than he listens to me, so you should be the one to tell him to stay put," Yohji said. "He's not my teammate; I can't exactly boss him around."

"Take him back with you," Schuldich said, "and let him rest."

"Why won't you take him back?" Yohji asked. "Can't Schwarz handle looking after one of their own? It's a lot safer there than trying to take care of him at the Koneko. If you haven't noticed, I do live next door to three assassins who would kill both of us if they found out he was there."

"I told you before. Schwarz is busy. Where's your car?"

"It's at the shop," Yohji told him, and Schuldich arched an eyebrow at him.

"You ran the whole way here?" he asked. "Weiss is full of bleeding hearts. Are you feeling flattered, Nagi, that he was so worried about you?"

"Aren't you hurt, Nagi, that you made it all the way here to your precious telepath just to be turned away?" Yohji returned easily. Schuldich's smile was cold and Yohji added a few more points to his side on his mental scoreboard. Nagi had started forward at Schuldich's words, but at Yohji's, he stilled again. Yohji idly wondered if it was because of his own reaction to the words or because of Schuldich's fingers tightening around his wrist. Either way, Yohji was privately amused.

//Shut it, Weiss,// Schuldich sent him. //Stay out of what's not your business.//

~I want to know why I'm the one taking care of him when you're there,~ Yohji sent back. ~It is my business because I'm risking a lot taking care of him. You left him with me because you know he's safe with me, that I have enough sense of honor not to want to kill a kid despite the fact that he's given me plenty of reason to in the past. Letting him get better just means I have to face him again on the battlefield one day. I deserve to know why I've been put into such a situation.~

//You're the one that went back for him.//

~I notice that you didn't.~

//It's not your business,// Schuldich said again.

~Make it my business, or take him home with you,~ Yohji shot back easily. ~You wouldn't have come running all the way out here when you realized he was wandering off if it didn't matter, so why won't you just fucking take him back with you?~ Schuldich said nothing, and Yohji stared at him as something dawned on him. ~You can't,~ he realized. ~I'm the only one that can take care of him, otherwise you wouldn't be pushing it.~

Schuldich said nothing to that. Yohji looked down at Nagi's calm face before glancing back up at the telepath's closed off expression. At last he turned away. The crosswalk had just turned green again and he started across. He glanced back just once to see them still standing where he'd left them, and then he forced himself to face forward.

He couldn't think of anything to tell Ken in response to his worried questions when he relieved the younger man from his post, so instead he just promised to explain later, after the mission was out of the way. Ken accepted this and stayed on at the shop with him so Omi could head back to work. Aya returned less than an hour after Yohji's return and vanished downstairs to help out Omi. They closed the shop up early that day and Yohji headed upstairs for an early dinner, hungry from skipping lunch.

He wasn't entirely surprised to find Nagi sleeping on his bed when he came in. He was, however, surprised to see Schuldich was sitting behind him. Yohji paused in the doorway until the rattling of shoes on the stairs reminded him to shut the door. He toed out of his shoes, noting that both Schuldich's and Nagi's were already lined up at the entrance, and stepped up into his apartment.

"Does this mean I'm cooking for three tonight?" Yohji asked, because it was the only thing he could think of to say.

Schuldich slid off of the bed, and Yohji was almost amused at how carefully he did it. Mixed with that was the observation that it was a practiced grace, and he remembered the way he kept waking up with Nagi sleeping against him. The telepath approached him at the door and pointed towards a bag off to the side. "Those things are for him," he said, stopping right beside Yohji. They were practically the same height. Yohji was surprised. He hadn't really had the chance to compare himself to the other man before, since Schuldich was always flitting this way and that.

"You're going to continue watching over him until he's better," Schuldich said, "because if you don't, I'll kill you." He reached up to touch his finger to the underside of Yohji's jaw, pushing up just enough that the nail bit into the soft skin there. "And if you ever repeat the argument from this morning, I'll make it slow. Leave him alone."

"So protective," Yohji murmured. "Just promise me you two didn't screw in my bed while I was at work, or I'm going to have to throw those sheets away."

Schuldich gave him a cool look. "He's sixteen," he said. "It's your job to make sure he gets better these next few days, and then my job to make sure he lives to eighteen. You do your part, I'll do mine."

He stepped past Yohji, down into the entryway, and toed into his shoes. Yohji turned to face him. "How long is it going to take?" he asked. "The way he talked about this makes it seem like it's happened before. How long will it take him?"

"Maybe a week," was the response. "Maybe longer." Schuldich tugged the door open, and Yohji reached out to snag his sleeve before he could step outside.

"Why?" he demanded again. "Why me?"

Schuldich started to pull free, but Yohji wouldn't let him go. The telepath sent him a cool look over his shoulder. "Because Schwarz says so," the foreigner said. "That's why."

"That's not an answer." When Schuldich started to pull away again, Yohji tightened his grip. "Look at it from my point of view," he invited the German. "Let's say that I know you're telling the truth that you'll kill me if harm comes to him, but let's say that I weigh things and decide that that's okay. I kill Nagi, you kill me, and Weiss and Schwarz are both down to three people. I've still managed to take out the most destructive of your teammates, and while the rest of you will be a struggle for my teammates, it does make it easier." Schuldich opened his mouth but Yohji kept talking, not giving him a chance to interrupt. "So now let's say that instead of threatening me, you threaten my teammates, because you know that I'd do anything to keep them alive. But the more you threaten, the more I realize just how important Nagi is to you, and the more it doesn't make sense that you're not the one watching over him."

"Have you ever heard the phrase 'Curiosity killed the cat'?" Schuldich asked. Yohji just shrugged, and the telepath looked past him towards Nagi's sleeping form. Yohji couldn't read anything in those blue eyes. "He has no gift now," Schuldich said at last, giving a small shrug of his own. "You've met Farfarello. Do the math."

The implications of that had Yohji's green eyes going wide. "But they're _teammates_," he started to say, and Schuldich interrupted him.

"And Farfarello's insane." The German managed to tug free in Yohji's surprise. Cool blue eyes turned back on Yohji. He said nothing else, but there was a clear warning in his stare, and at last he stepped out onto the walkway. Yohji watched as he blurred; for a moment there were two of him and then he was gone completely, flitting away as if he'd never been there. Yohji stared out at the empty balcony for a long minute before finally pushing the door closed.

He looked back towards Nagi's sleeping form and then headed into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. He was going to need the caffeine with this long night ahead of him. The pot was empty but there were two dirty mugs on the counter that he knew weren't his. Idly he wondered how long Schuldich had stayed. As soon as the coffee started dripping he went back into the bedroom to investigate the bag Schuldich had pointed out. It was full of clothes and a few odds and ends: a toothbrush, deodorant, more crackers, and so on. Yohji was amused despite himself. He set the bag aside and straightened from his crouch, considering Nagi where he slept. His hair was still wet from a shower and the outfit he was wearing was new. On closer inspection, even the bandages on Nagi's hands were new.

Nagi shifted slightly and Yohji thought he was going to wake, but he relaxed again just a few moments later. Yohji went back into the kitchen to drink his coffee and he put together a simple dinner. Nagi was still asleep when it was finished and Yohji decided he had to be medicated with something. He ate by himself and put the rest in the fridge, and since Nagi was still sleeping when it was time for him to leave, he left a small note on the pillow beside Nagi before changing and ducking out.

As he went downstairs to the basement to meet up with his teammates, he felt a pang of guilt at the sight of Aya's pale face. He hadn't even thought to ask Schwarz about Aya's sister, too caught up in everything with Nagi. Aya's sister was out there with Schwarz somewhere and Yohji was harboring Schwarz's littlest in his apartment. He would ask Nagi about it, he decided, as soon as he returned from the mission.

He was the last to arrive and they stayed just long enough to make sure everyone was ready. Yohji pushed Nagi far from his mind, forcing himself to focus on their job, and offered Omi a lazy smile when the youth looked his way.


It was six hours later before Yohji managed to make it back to the Koneko with his teammates. He was happy to see it come into view and he parked behind it, twisting the key in the ignition to turn the engine off. For a long moment, no one moved. He'd driven them all out there, as Omi had decided it would be best if they all went together. The car smelled like blood and antiseptic, and the first aid kit that he usually kept under the driver's seat was still out in the backseat between the younger two of Weiss.

He looked over towards the passenger seat, where Aya was resting heavily against his window. One arm was cradled in his lap and the fingers of the other were clenched around his bicep to keep the arm from jarring whenever Yohji hit a rough patch of road. If Aya felt his gaze, he didn't return it, and Yohji lifted his eyes to the rearview mirror to check on the other two. Ken had dozed off on the way back, thoroughly exhausted, but Omi was rifling idly through the first aid kid.

"We're home," he said, as if none of them had noticed. Omi nodded and reached out to wake Ken up, and Yohji turned back to Aya. "We need to look at that again?" he asked. The redhead had been bleeding spectacularly when they'd managed to make it out of the building, and he'd had to lean his chair back so Omi could mend his arm from the back seat as Yohji drove them home.

Aya shook his head, carefully loosening his fingers so he could get his door open. Yohji didn't wait for him but reached past him, popping the door handle first and pushing it to swing open. It was a little harder to get Aya's seatbelt off but the redhead nodded in acknowledgment as he slid out onto the pavement behind the flower shop. His exit seemed to trigger the others; Ken was the second to get out and Omi followed as soon as he'd put the med kit back where it belonged. Yohji waited until they were all out before climbing out himself, steeling himself for the pain he knew would come when he tried to move. They'd all been banged up a bit tonight and he didn't need his teammates worrying about him. He was twenty-two years old, old enough to be able to look out for himself.

He managed to swallow a grimace when he finally climbed out of the car and he was glad the night and his coat helped hide the blood from view. The others wouldn't be able to smell it on him over the scent of their own and their target's blood. The three preceded him to the stairs, each step heavy and slow as the weary four made their way up to their apartments.

"We should close the shop tomorrow," Yohji said.

"Trying to get out of work?" Ken asked. He meant it to be a joke but he was too tired to put any real emotion in the words.

"We'll close it," Omi assured them. "It can handle a day without business."

"Omi, you're a god," Yohji decided. He was grateful that his room was on the second floor; it was almost painful watching Aya and Ken continue on up another flight. If it weren't for his guest and the knowledge from past experience that they'd turn him down, he would have offered his room to them for the night. As it was, they made good use of the railing as they continued upwards, and Yohji offered Omi a tired wave before letting himself into his room.

The door was tugged quietly shut behind him and he didn't stop to take off his shoes, knowing he wouldn't be able to bend over to work at the laces. He stepped up into the room, creeping towards his dresser first to set his cigarettes and keys there, and continued limping on towards the bathroom. He didn't turn the light on until he was inside with the door mostly shut and he settled himself down on the edge of the tub as carefully as he could. His fingers were shaking by the time he started to peel off his outfit and it was hard to get the clasps undone.

"You're bleeding."

Green eyes jumped towards the doorway and he could see Nagi standing just outside the bathroom, leaning against the wall to peer in through the crack. His heart was racing a mile a minute and he let his fingers relax where they'd jumped to the watch on his wrist.

"You're supposed to be asleep," he said, going back to work. He decided to take the watch off before anything else could startle him and let it fall to the ground at his feet. He had to use his teeth to help peel his gloves off and he gave the clasps on his jacket another try.

"I slept enough."

Yohji supposed that was true. "We had a mission tonight," he said at last, "but we weren't the only ones who decided tonight would be a good night to take the guy out. Someone else showed up in force and we ended up caught in the middle of it."

Nagi gave a quiet snort that Yohji thought sounded a little too amused to be polite. The door was pushed open and the telekinetic invited himself in, moving to where he could watch Yohji struggle with his jacket. Yohji did his best to ignore him, too tired to deal with the boy's situation and everything that had happened with him earlier. His chest and abdomen were hurting like a bitch but he was still so exhausted that he could feel himself falling asleep as he worked, and it hurt to stay awake.

He wasn't prepared for Nagi to move forward and start helping him with the bothersome coat, and bleary green eyes turned a questioning look on the youth. Nagi returned the gaze with a cool one of his own, batting Yohji's hands aside when they got in his way. "Schuldich says I shouldn't give you a reason to throw me out," he said.

"I wouldn't throw you out," Yohji informed him. "And you really shouldn't be doing that when your hands are wrapped. You might bother the burns."

"Shut up," was all Nagi said to that, and Yohji decided to listen because he didn't have the strength to get into an argument. He let Nagi help him out of his coat and the youth arched an eyebrow at the sign of the ripped shirt and bloody skin. He remembered where the first aid kit was from when Yohji had wrapped his hands and he dug it out before tugging a wash rag free and soaking it in warm water from the sink. Yohji tried to pull his shirt off but he couldn't twist right to get it, and Nagi frowned as he considered him before finally reaching out. Fingers curved around the collar of his shirt; Yohji felt the warm weight of them against the veins of his throat.

Something tightened at the corners of Nagi's mouth and there was a shredding sound as Yohji's shirt ripped into pieces. Nagi brushed them aside carelessly and Yohji didn't miss the brief flicker of self-satisfaction and triumph in those dark eyes that his gift had worked. He mumbled his gratitude and began to wipe around the wounds, careful around the sensitive skin, and Nagi waited until he was finished before crouching beside him to bandage it up.

"This isn't my job," Nagi informed him.

"It's mine," Yohji told him. "I can do it."

"Of course you can," was the response, and Yohji scowled down at him at the tone he used. Nagi ignored the look. "Just keep your hands out of my way."

There wasn't much else he could do, so Yohji held onto the tub to either side of him and let Nagi work, watching as the youth wound gauze bandages around his middle. It was done with the neat precision of one who had had plenty of practice, which surprised Yohji. This last confrontation with Schwarz was the first time he'd seen any of the four injured, and Nagi had been hurt because he'd brought the building down on his own head.

He had been trying not to think about it, but thoughts of that led to thoughts of that weird Tot girl, which led to Schuldich. Yohji was just tired enough to not catch the words in time.

"Both of them, then, huh?" he murmured, and Nagi's hands went still. He could watch the tension change along the youth's shoulders and he wished he hadn't said anything. But since he had, there was nothing else to do but keep going. "Her and him both. Something special. I asked Omi about it, you know. Asked if it was possible to like more than one person at the same time. I still don't really get it, even after he explained that it was, but it sounds nice enough."

"It isn't any of your business," Nagi bit out, and he went back to work.

"No," Yohji agreed. "It's not. But Schuldich was mad I said something about it earlier. He was so mad that I bothered you about it- almost made a threat on my life if I brought it up again." For some reason the thought brought a smile to his lips. Maybe it was because Nagi's hands had stilled on the bandages once more at the sound of the words. "But anyway… It's not my business and not my choice to make. So… I guess I'll just be glad it's not me who has to pick between people, and maybe instead just envy you from a sideline that there are so many. I wish you luck and happiness either way."

Dark blue eyes flicked up to his face and Yohji waved a hand at him, grimacing when movement sent pain knifing through his middle. "Shutting up now," he assured the youth. Nagi's mouth was set in a hard line and he finished up Yohji's bandages with a few quick jerks. A hand on the sink helped pull him to his feet and he backed up so Yohji could stand, and the oldest Weiss offered Nagi a weary, grateful smile. "Thank you," he said, and it surprised him how much he meant it.

Nagi said nothing but left the room, and Yohji swallowed painkillers with water straight from the bathroom sink. He remembered to turn off the light before stumbling out of the room and he made his way over to bed. "No work tomorrow," he said, though he wasn't sure which one of them he was speaking to. Unsteady hands picked up his alarm clock to make sure it was off and he set it back down on the bedside table before climbing gingerly into bed. He wasn't sure where Nagi had gone but he didn't really care. He was worn out and in pain, and he just wanted to rest.

He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.


It was almost noon when Yohji woke up again. He was alone in bed and it took him just a few moments to place his houseguest. The younger man was curled up in Yohji's armchair with a book, eyes closed as he dozed. A mug on the dresser to his right was most likely coffee and Yohji wondered when the pot had been made and if there was any left. He eased the blankets to one side and pushed himself up carefully, wincing at the pain it brought.

"Your teammates are up and about," Nagi spoke up, and Yohji looked over towards the chair to see that the other's eyes were open now. "Two of them, anyway."

"Hopefully Aya's not one of them. I'm pretty sure he came within an inch of having his arm shattered last night." He made it to his feet and started towards the kitchen and the coffee maker. "The invention of coffee proves that there's someone upstairs that gives a damn about us," he decided.

"Either that or it proves that mankind somehow has earned a right to keep living," Nagi returned, "as hard as that may be to believe."

Yohji eyed him from the kitchen doorway, wondering at the other's obvious better mood since last night. "Are you sure you two didn't have sex?" he asked, ignoring the cool look his words earned him. "You're actually being sociable today; he must have done something to you to put you in a better mood."

"It's not your business," Nagi reminded him. "Quit poking around where you don't belong."

"I'm nosy by nature," Yohji told him, and he shuffled into the kitchen. The pot was empty so he started another to brew and went back to the doorway. "I'm allowed to be curious, aren't I? It's not like I'd have anything against it. I mean, guys aren't my thing, but whatever. It's just surprising."

"And why should I believe you?" Nagi wanted to know.

Yohji wasn't sure what part of his response that was referring to, if any, and he gave himself a few moments to think it over before going for the most obvious. "It happens," he said. "That's life. Guy likes girl, girl likes guy, girl likes girl, guy likes guy. Life is short and goes by way too fast, especially when you're doing the sorts of things we do. Our life is ripping by us and if we can find any little bit of happiness, why stop to question it? Those things are just little details against a much bigger backdrop." Nagi said nothing, and Yohji arched an eyebrow at him. "Why?" he asked. "Does it bother you that he's a guy?"

"Why would it bother me?" Nagi demanded, and for some reason, Yohji found the naïve answer amusing. The slight emphasis on the pronoun surprised him, though. Whatever was between the two Schwarzes couldn't bother either of them, considering the easy way they'd handled each other yesterday. But the way Nagi stressed his words made it sound as if someone had an issue with it, and that made him curious, because who could there be whose opinion could mean anything to such people? He thought of Schuldich's words the previous night, the short explanation as to why Nagi couldn't go home just yet, and he wondered about it.


He wanted to ask about it but knew he wouldn't get an answer, so instead he asked, "Is your mug empty?"

Nagi just shook his head, and Yohji headed back into the kitchen to reflect that he really should have had Schuldich come by earlier in the week if he'd known the German's visit would make Nagi into a much more tolerable person. "You eat lunch yet? I'm starving. I might have something up here that I can put together that won't kill you to eat it, if we're lucky…"

"I'm not hungry."

"Schuldich would not approve of you starving yourself. If you haven't noticed, you're already extremely underweight." Silence followed that and Yohji just sighed and dug through the cabinets. Even though the younger man had said he wasn't hungry he looked for something that he thought Nagi would be able to stomach and set about making enough for the both of them. While it cooked he headed for the bathroom to pee and check on his bandages. There was a little blood on the wraps but it had dried long ago and he wasn't sure he wanted to unwrap anything yet.

Nagi was reading when Yohji went back out into the living room and he considered the youth that was curled up in his chair with interest. He supposed reading was an appropriate hobby for a quiet child like that, but the book couldn't be his; he didn't keep any in the apartment. Schuldich had either taken him to buy one or had brought it from Schwarz's place. "What are you reading?" he asked.

"A book," was the simple answer.

Yohji arched an eyebrow at him. "You think?"

Nagi said nothing in response and Yohji decided that meant that the boy was done being sociable. He wondered why he felt disgruntled by such a thing, and told himself to get a grip as he went to check on lunch.


Things began to fall apart around dinner time. Yohji and Nagi were sitting on opposite sides of the room, Nagi in the chair and Yohji on the bed, eating what Yohji had made them, when there was a knock at the door. Yohji called out a greeting and received no answer. The knock came again and Yohji set aside his plate before taking the youth's from him. It was hidden in the fridge and Nagi vanished into the bathroom, and Yohji went to see which one of his teammates had come to pay him a visit at such an odd time.

Yohji had all kinds of excuses for turning the other three away, but they all shriveled into nothing in his mind when he opened the door and found himself staring at a pale white demon.

Yohji felt every muscle in his body freeze at the sight of Farfarello on his balcony, and the Irishman offered him a slow, lazy smile in greeting. He took a step forward, and Yohji flinched back before he managed to hold his ground. Farfarello reached up to push at him, and when Yohji swat at the hand, a boot buried itself in his gut. He went stumbling backwards and hit the bed before crumpling to the ground. He couldn't suck air in to replace what had been crushed out of his lungs and he could just watch as Farfarello stepped inside and shut the door behind himself.

"Good evening, Weiss," Farfarello greeted him. "How are you doing?"

"I'd be doing much better if you weren't in my apartment," Yohji managed to get out. "Right now I'd settle for you taking off your damn boots at the entrance."

Farfarello offered him a bemused look and didn't bother to heed either wish. His boots thudded softly against the floor as he started across the room towards Yohji and the Weiss assassin wondered frantically where he'd taken his watch off last.

Farfarello drew a long knife out of a sheath that was strapped to his upper arm and knelt in front of Yohji as the man was starting to push himself up. Yohji's green eyes watched the blade warily as it came within a breath of his throat and he forced himself to look up to meet Farfarello's stare. His first thought was a demand to know how the man had figured out where he lived; that was quickly bypassed by what the freak was doing here. As soon as he wondered that, he knew the answer; he could remember all too well Schuldich's words to him just the previous evening.

Farfarello confirmed his suspicions just a few moments later by offering the room a slow scan. "Rumor has it that Weiss is babysitting a lost little sparrow whose wings got clipped."

"You really should check your sources before you start chasing after rumors, Farfarello. I'm honestly disappointed in you."

Farfarello's smile was slow and chilling. He pushed himself to his feet and Yohji made a grab for one boot. Said boot kicked him in the face and Yohji swore breathlessly against the pain, covering his face with his hands. He heard the floor creak as Farfarello started away.

"Come out and play, little Nagi. You have some explaining to do."

~Schuldich,~ Yohji sent out frantically, and he hoped the German was in range. ~Schuldich, come save your little lover from Farfarello.~

There wasn't a response and Yohji forced himself to lower his hands. Blood was leaking down his face as he pushed himself to unsteady feet. Farfarello was at the doorway to the kitchen, gazing in as he searched for his missing teammate. He glanced back as Yohji stood and offered him another smile before starting towards the bathroom.

"Farfarello, get the hell out. I didn't invite you here."

"I invite myself to play on whichever playground catches my interest," was the careless response.

Yohji grabbed the closest thing to hand- a pillow- and hurled it at the Irishman. It bounced harmlessly off his head and Farfarello stopped in his tracks, considering what he'd just been beamed with, and then slowly turned to face Yohji. A thin brow arched over one golden eye and Yohji saw Nagi appear in the doorway behind Farfarello, face pale and expression grim. Yohji grabbed at his wrist in what he hoped Farfarello would interpret as an instinctive grab.

Nagi saw it and vanished from view as Farfarello started back across the room towards Yohji. "Poor little Weiss, caught up in things he doesn't understand," Farfarello murmured.

Yohji started moving in a circle and Farfarello saw no harm in humoring him. It put him between Farfarello and the bathroom and Yohji was a little too keenly aware that he was the only thing standing between the rabid madman and his powerless teammate. ~Schuldich, get your ass over here!~

Something scratched against the floor; Yohji chanced a quick look down and saw his watch coming to a stop near his socked feet. He snatched it up and fixed the band around his wrist. The wire was a stupid thing to play with when he didn't have gloves on but he didn't have much choice, and he felt it cut through his fingers as he jerked a small length of it out in warning.

"Get out of my apartment," he said again.

"Am I supposed to be afraid of a cat who plays with string?" Farfarello wanted to know. "It's your string against my knives. Do the math and step aside."

"I won't be told what to do in my own place," Yohji ground out, ignoring the way the blood made the wire slippery in his fingers. "I want you out of here."

"You insinuate that Nagi's afraid to see me," Farfarello said, offering Yohji a lazy smile. "He isn't so brave when he can't throw things around the room at will. Take away his powers and he's nothing more than a child that Schuldich dreams of fucking one day…"

"Unless you're jealous, I don't think you should bother yourself with having an opinion on the matter," Yohji snapped back. "Just get out and leave him alone. You're more psychotic than I wanted to believe if you're showing up here to attack your own teammate. Should I repeat that last bit for you? He's your own teammate. He's Schwarz. What the hell do you think you can accomplish by fighting him?"

Farfarello gave a lazy wave of his knife as if brushing aside Yohji's ignorance. "It is the nature of the hunters to prey on the weak. Even the strong can be crippled and brought down, and often they taste sweeter for the bruised pride."

~Schuldich, if he kills your lover just because you can't pay attention to what's going on with your own damn team, I swear to God I'll--~

//Hold him off,// came the sharp response, sinking into Yohji's mind suddenly. Yohji flinched back from the sudden presence of it and he saw Farfarello start forward. Metal glittered in the air as the knife flew towards his face and Yohji realized he was too close to dodge it.

It was deflected before it could reach him; something smacked into it and it went flying wildly off in another direction to sink into the wall. Farfarello's smile spread wider and he gazed past Yohji to where Nagi stood in the doorway of the bathroom, bandaged hands wrapped tight around the doorframe. "Hello Nagi," he greeted.

"Go home, Farfarello," Nagi said, voice low. "You aren't supposed to be here."

"Neither are you," Farfarello pointed out. "You have a bit to answer for."

"Go home," Nagi sent back, and Farfarello calmly slid another knife free of its sheath.

//Hold him off--// Schuldich's voice came again, just as Farfarello started forward.

The man moved like liquid. One moment he was on the other side of the room and the next he was almost past Yohji to Nagi. Yohji threw himself bodily against the Irishman, twisting sharply on his heel to put some weight behind the push. Farfarello hit the bookshelves and then the chair and Yohji crashed into him. They fell in a tangle of limbs, scrabbling for the upper hand even as they hit the ground. Yohji felt a knife slide against his arm and he managed to loop his hand around one of Farfarello's wrists. Blood lit up in a bright circle around the pale skin and then Farfarello somehow managed to get a boot into Yohji's chest.

Yohji felt something groan and crack as he was sent rolling across the floor. Bloody hand scrabbled for purchase but he couldn't stop himself from slamming into his bed. It slid under his weight and Farfarello was already up and starting towards Nagi again.

Nagi did the only real thing he could do- he took two quick steps back into the bathroom and slammed the door. Yohji heard the lock slam into place even as he got to his feet and then his apartment door was slammed open by a bewildered looking Ken.

"Yohji, what are you-"

The words died on his tongue when he saw Farfarello standing in the middle of his teammate's bedroom, and Yohji offered up praises to anyone listening that Nagi was hidden. He swayed on his feet as Farfarello turned around to consider the new arrival and grabbed at his bedpost for balance, steadying himself before tugging out more wire.

"More kittens," Farfarello said.

"AYA!" Ken called, and Yohji heard metal rattling as the redhead of Weiss hurried to answer the call. Yohji guessed they'd heard all of the crashing and he was suddenly grateful for the thin walls of their apartment. Farfarello didn't seem at all bothered by the way the odds were now stacked against him, and Yohji wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that Yohji was the only one with a weapon on hand.

Farfarello started towards the door, twirling a knife around his fingers. Yohji started to move and Farfarello turned in an easy motion, giving a flick of his wrist and hand. The playboy had to jerk to one side to avoid getting a gutful of metal and the room swirled around him in the movement. He tried to stay upright but couldn't quite make it and fell hard to his rear. The impact sent pain screaming through his chest and he struggled to breathe. He thought he heard Ken call out to him as Farfarello started toward them. They refused to give ground to him and instead stepped further into the room, moving to either corner to face him.

"Kitty kitty kitty," Farfarello started, and then Schuldich showed up on the scene.

He literally came out of nowhere; one moment Farfarello was starting to raise his hand, ready to play target practice with Ken, and the next, there was a blur of orange and black and someone collided with Farfarello. Both went crashing heavily to the ground and rolled, and they were up on their feet almost immediately to face each other down.

Schuldich looked absolutely furious.

Ken swore in the corner at the sight of a second member of Schwarz, but Schuldich and Farfarello ignored him. They were glaring each other down, facing each other in the middle of the room, Schuldich with a gun in his hands and Farfarello with his knives.

"Back down," Schuldich said, his voice like a whip.

"You can't play these games forever," Farfarello informed him. "They're not yours to play."

"Back- the fuck- down. Now."

Farfarello laughed, and Schuldich lifted his gun to aim it at Farfarello. The madman seemed amused by the gesture and tilted his head to one side. Aya and Ken had gone tense, completely clueless as to what was going on and not really sure they liked it. Schuldich cocked the gun and it seemed overly loud in the harsh silence that settled over the room. The two stared each other down for an endless minute more and Schuldich's lips curled into a scowl. "Go home," he said flatly, and Yohji guessed that meant that the mental arguing had failed.

"You're too protective. A nurtured creature never learns how to fight for its own survival."

"Fuck you, Farfarello. Go home, *now*."

Farfarello thought it over for a long minute and finally gave a slow shrug. He put his knives away under four pairs of watchful eyes and turned away. Schuldich didn't lower his gun until after Farfarello had vanished out the doorway, and even then, it aimed at empty space for a half-minute longer than it probably needed. At length he relaxed and dropped his arm slowly to his side.

"Schwarz," Aya growled out, hate in his violet eyes.

Schuldich offered the redhead a toothy smirk. "Hello, cat. Missing your sister yet?"

//That was too fucking close, Kudou.//

~Who's fault is it that you weren't watching him?~ Yohji demanded. ~If I have to watch Nagi, you should at least be able to keep an eye on Farfarello. You're the telepath, dammit.~

"Where is Aya?" Aya demanded, starting forward. Ken hissed at him to go still but Aya didn't stop until Schuldich had aimed the gun at him. "Where did you take her?"

"Why should I tell you?" Schuldich asked, arching an eyebrow at him. "You'll get her back soon enough, no worries, and she might not be the worse the wear for the traveling."

"You-" Aya started, furious.

Schuldich laughed at him and blurred away, leaving Weiss and a mocking farewell in his wake. Aya slammed the door and locked it and Ken rushed across the room to Yohji's side, crouching beside him to try and take stock of the damage. "We're going to have to get this looked at," Ken said with a grimace as he poked his fingers along Yohji's ribcage. "What he hell did that freak want here?"

"I don't know," Yohji returned, blowing lightly on his fingers. "He just showed up and started waving that knife at me."

"We should warn Kritiker," Ken said. "Here, hold onto me."

Yohji accepted his help to get back to his feet and grimaced at the pain in his chest, pressing a bleeding hand to his shirt. Ken took his hand and turned it over, trying to figure out where the blood was coming from, and Yohji carefully pulled his hand away. "It's just from my wire," he assured Ken, "that's all."

"And your face?" Ken wanted to know, and he reached up to carefully feel the bridge of Yohji's nose. It hurt like a bitch to have it touched but Yohji waited quietly until Ken was done. "I don't think it's broken, but it looks horrible. Let's go. Aya, warn Omi."

Aya unlocked the door and vanished outside, and Ken started pulling Yohji towards the door. Yohji realized then that they were all leaving and he reached out quickly for Schuldich's mind, hoping the German was still in range somewhere. ~Schuldich? Schuldich, tell me that you'll keep an eye on Farfarello. I have to leave the apartment.~

There wasn't a response. Yohji tried again and failed. "I don't really think I'm in bad enough shape to go to the hospital," he started, and Ken sent him a quelling look.

"Don't even start that with me, Yohji. You can't see what you look like. Omi? Hey, we're leaving. I don't think any of us should stick around here. Schwarz has put in an appearance and I don't think it'd be smart to leave any of us behind to face them."

Yohji opened his mouth to protest and Ken reached up, jabbing his nose with an index. Yohji swore at the pain and swat at him, and then Omi was at his other side and pulling him out the door. Someone else shut and locked it and he was ushered down the stairs, and Yohji was forced to accept the fact that there wasn't anything he could say that would let him stay here. He could just hope that Schuldich had learned his lesson and would have taken the Irishman elsewhere to shoot him.

Even still, he couldn't relax through the entire visit to the ER, and his teammates were willing to write off his nerves as leftover from seeing Farfarello in his apartment. The doctor gave him medicine to help him sleep and Yohji pretended to take it, spitting it out to the side as soon as everyone's backs were turned. Manx showed up at the hospital to check on him and find out what happened and eventually they were free to go back home. Ken and Omi both offered to let Yohji stay over at their place, then asked if he wanted them to stay over at his, and he managed to get his way out of both.

At last they left him to his room and Yohji did his best to make noise at the door so he could warn Nagi to hide again. Omi and Ken both came in with him to check the place out and it took a minute before he could get them to leave. He promised to keep his phone on hand and locked the door behind him, and decided that they were all pretty lucky that the two hadn't noticed that the shoes at the door weren't his.

"Can't you keep a better eye on your madman?" he demanded, limping over to the bed.

The bathroom door opened. Nagi stood in the doorway with Schuldich behind him, and the German's hands were hooked in the front pockets of Nagi's pants. "I was busy," Schuldich answered. "You look pretty messed up."

"I'm sure I look much better now that I'm not bleeding everywhere." Yohji eased himself down to sit on the mattress and laid down as slowly as he could to stare up at the ceiling. "I had been hoping you were joking about him, you know."

Schuldich just shrugged. "That's how he is. By the way, you have horrible taste in coffee."

Yohji scowled at him. "Just make yourself comfortable."

Schuldich offered him an amused look. "If you don't want me to stay, I'll go."

Yohji rolled his eyes. "You're not staying for me, anyway, so how is that supposed to make me feel safe?"

"It's not my job to make you feel safe; it's my job to make sure you stay alive until Nagi can flatten Farfarello against the far wall when he starts getting rowdy."

"Keh," Yohji returned, and he closed his eyes against them. There were soft footsteps against the floor and then the chair creaked as someone sat down in it. Yohji decided it was Nagi, because a second set headed into the kitchen to seek out more coffee. The lights were turned off on the way out and Yohji reflected on how surreal it was to go to sleep with both Schuldich and Nagi in his room. In the end he decided it was all right, because Schuldich hadn't been overly antagonistic towards him so far. Schuldich had too much riding on this right now. And Nagi was all right. Besides, if Schuldich was here tonight, it meant Nagi was going to be in a good mood tomorrow.

//Just shut up and go to sleep.//

~Make me,~ Yohji sent back, and in the next moment, Schuldich did.


Yohji wasn't sure what time it was when he woke again. His thoughts were muddled and confused and it took too much effort to open his eyes immediately. He could hear footsteps moving back and forth across his room. At last there was the familiar sound of shoes being moved around at the entrance and Yohji forced his eyes to crack open a bit. Any further than that was too much effort and he drifted in the haze of exhausted thoughts as he tried to focus on his room.

Schuldich was at the door, slipping into his shoes, and Nagi stood on the step just inside the entrance to watch him. The youth's perch gave him a few extra inches of height relative to Schuldich and Yohji eyed them as they stood there next to each other, trying to wake up enough to make some sense of it.

He thought he could remember what it was like to have someone to watch him off, someone to wait for him to come home. He thought he could remember what it had been like to have someone to wait on. The thought hurt on several levels and he let such thoughts slide away from him, watching instead as Schuldich finished up with his shoes and turned to face the youth. A hand came up to Nagi's chin and Yohji watched as they kissed, watched as Nagi reached forward to hold onto the German's jacket. It was nothing like that clumsy peck he'd seen between Nagi and Tot just a few days ago, and while it wasn't the simple brush he'd seen between the two outside the train station, there was still something simple about it.

He saw Schuldich's teeth as the man grinned at Nagi, and then he was turning the lock and opening the door. It was a risky thing to be stepping out of the Koneko after Weiss was uptight over Farfarello's visit, but he took advantage of his gifts and blurred out of there, splitting and fading in the doorway as he left. Nagi lingered for just a few moments more before reaching out to shut the door and lock it again, and Yohji closed his eyes.

A few minutes later footsteps crossed the room, and Yohji forced himself not to react as Nagi climbed into bed. He guessed that maybe the youth was cold. The apartment wasn't the warmest of places and he seemed to have spent the night on the chair. The mattress shifted as Nagi crawled up it and the youth stretched out to Yohji's side. It didn't long before Nagi's breathing evened out and Yohji felt himself relaxing back into sleep as well.

He wasn't surprised to wake up a few hours later with Nagi buried against him.


Yohji was given the next several days off work to recuperate, which gave him a lot of time to just hang around the apartment with Nagi. He kept an eye on the youth's progress and attempted to press him into conversation whenever he thought the boy was in a receptive mood. Nagi was a lot better about talking after Yohji had made himself a living shield, and while he wouldn't say anything about himself or Schwarz, he was fine enough in random conversations. They ate their three meals together and Yohji ended up reading Nagi's book while Nagi worked with his gift.

It seemed as if his gift just needed one more day before it decided to get serious, because starting the day after Farfarello's attack, Nagi's telekinesis started to take massive leaps and bounds. Yohji continued to watch as he went from playing with ash trays to levitating everything in the room and doing precision work with his gift, and it was watching Nagi put away an entire tray of dishes at once that made him realize he never wanted to piss the child off. If the boy had the concentration and skill to put away several plates, cups, pots, and silverware all at once when they were going in different directions, Yohji didn't want to see what that gift could do to a body if Nagi got mad. It was more of a wake up call than destroying that building had been.

Yohji felt rather disconnected those days. He saw Weiss infrequently; his world had become his bedroom and that boy. He wondered what it would be like when Nagi was finally good enough to go home and vanished. They'd spent almost a week here. Just a week? It felt much too long to merit a "just". It had been a dizzying week, an insight into the way Schwarz worked, a week that showed him how to rethink both Weiss and Schwarz. It made him rethink several of his opinions regarding life, if he sat down and thought about it.

He thought a lot about what it would be like when Nagi was gone, not just for him but for Nagi as well. Nagi was going back to that household where Farfarello would kill anyone who showed a sign of weakness, teammates included, and no one approved of what Schuldich and Nagi were doing. Yohji hadn't been able to judge Farfarello's opinion of the two by the tone he'd used when he'd mentioned them, which left him to guess that Crawford was the missing piece that had the more obvious issues with it. Nagi was going back to Farfarello and Crawford soon… And Schuldich, the man Yohji had happily written off as a megalomaniacal fruitcakey bastard, who had come flying across the city when Nagi had hobbled off on his own, who had faced down Farfarello at gunpoint and then spent the next night at the apartment to make sure the Irishman didn't think twice about it. Schuldich, who'd bought Nagi crackers and clothes and a book and rewrapped his bandages.

Yohji wondered how this would change his outlook of Schwarz even as he told himself he couldn't afford to let it change. This was just a temporary lull, a temporary truce. Schwarz still had Aya's sister and they were still going to be seeing quite a bit of each other on the battlefield.

"Hey, Nagi…?" Yohji asked, stepping into the kitchen doorway from where he was preparing lunch. The youth was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed and made no sign of hearing him. His fingers were laced together in his lap as he stared down at the quilt beneath him, and as Yohji watched, his eyes went pink and the air around him ripped. Yohji wasn't sure how else to describe it. There was a searing sound and white light crackled and hissed around him. The floor beneath the bed creaked and Nagi lifted one hand to consider it, head tilted to one side as if considering the power he wielded.

At last he let it fade away and looked up from his hand to Yohji. Yohji offered him an encouraging smile. "Looks like you're almost up to speed," he said, and he wondered how he could be happy about that when it just meant that the youth would be using his gift on his team in the future. "How do you feel?"

"Not tired," was the response, and Nagi shrugged. "What did you want?" Yohji hesitated, trying to remember what he'd come out into the room for. Nagi gave him a few moments to think and reached for Yohji's cell phone where it was sitting on the bedside table. He considered it for a minute and motioned with it to Yohji. "Schuldich's out of range. He can come and get me now."

"You'll be all right with Farfarello?" Yohji asked.

"He can't do anything against me. He just wishes he could." Nagi dismissed that with a flick of his fingers.

"And Crawford?" Yohji asked. Nagi gave him a calm look, quirking one eyebrow slightly as if asking why Yohji thought there would be any problems with Crawford. "The way you said something a while back makes me think that he doesn't approve of… well, you and Schuldich."

Nagi stared back at him in silence for several moments more and Yohji decided that meant he wasn't going to get a response. He told himself it wasn't important and then Nagi shrugged. "Crawford is pleased with very little that doesn't provide him some sort of tangible benefit," he said. "He doesn't care if it means the team is stronger for it, but he is human enough to have problems with it."

Yohji nodded and looked down at the bowl of salad he was mixing. He was starting to turn away, thinking that maybe if he went back in the kitchen and started cooking again that he'd jar his memory, when Nagi spoke.

"You said," Nagi started, and he hesitated. Yohji glanced back and Nagi considered him, holding an internal debate over whether or not to speak. In the end he forced back any second thoughts, and he managed to get the question out. "The night I bandaged you up you said you envied me," he said, and Yohji nodded in remembrance. "What would you do if you were me?"

Yohji blinked at him, caught off guard. Little Nagi of Schwarz was asking *his* opinion on the matter, and Yohji was floored. In the end he wondered if it was because there was no one else- he couldn't really ask Farfarello or Crawford, and Schuldich and Tot's answers would be obvious and in their own interests. "Hm," he finally said, to let Nagi know he was thinking about it. "If it were me? I wouldn't worry about what was right or wrong or who thought what, and I'd go with whatever made me happiest. This line of work we're in says that we're going to have an uphill battle to make it to thirty. Why should we argue ourselves out of the things that would make that fight worth fighting?"

Nagi just stared at him for a few moments longer before he finally looked away, dark gaze going down to the cell phone in his hands. It didn't take Yohji long to realize he wasn't going to get a response and he started to turn away. He'd just taken a step into the kitchen when he remembered his question and he turned around. "Nagi?"


"What does Schwarz want Aya's sister for?"

Nagi glanced up at him before letting his gaze slide away. "It's not my place to tell you," he said. When Yohji opened his mouth to argue, the youth continued. "But we have no intentions of killing her," he said, "and we cannot let harm come to her. Weiss will have its chance to fight for the right to keep her, but that day isn't today." He looked back at Yohji, meeting the other man's stare easily. "I will protect her," he said, and Yohji recognized it as a promise. "You protected me and it is the only thing I can give you in return."

"What, no 'get out of being smushed' card?" Yohji teased him. He felt a weight being lifted from his shoulders at the other's words and the sincerity in the promise. There was no way he could tell Aya to make these weeks bearable but at least he could support him until then. Yohji was willing to believe Nagi that he would take care of the comatose girl.

Nagi gave a quiet little snort. "If Schwarz wanted you dead, we'd have killed you a long time ago," he pointed out. "We still have things for you to do."

"Manipulative little bastards," Yohji muttered, and he wandered back into the kitchen. It wasn't until he put the salad bowl down on the counter that the full significance of those words hit him. It made him stop and he gazed down at the greens in silence. "Huh," he breathed, and he smiled as he went back to work.

Nagi called Schuldich as Yohji brought lunch out to him and they ate in a companionable silence. Yohji considered the quiet between them, wondering what to make of it. They weren't friends; they weren't allies. They were Weiss and Schwarz and they fought for two different sides of this war. But there was an understanding between them, a respect that hadn't been there just a week ago. When they saw each other again they'd be fighting, but Yohji thought he could be okay with that.

"He's here," Nagi said halfway through the meal, and he slid off the chair he'd been sitting on. Yohji wasn't finished eating yet but he followed Nagi to the kitchen and set his plate down on the counter beside the youth's. He watched as Nagi gathered his things into the plastic bags they'd come from and stood to one side as the telekinetic tugged his shoes on. Yohji reached for the door, fingers curling around the knob, and a smile curved his lips.

"Hey," he said, and Nagi looked up at him as he stood. "When this is all over, let me know, yeah?" Nagi tilted his head to one side in a question and Yohji gave a little shrug. "What makes you happy, I mean."

He thought he saw a faint smile ghost across the other's lips and then Nagi was looking away, reaching for his bags. Yohji opened the door for him and checked to make sure Weiss wasn't around. Schuldich was standing a short distance back from the shop, hands stuffed in his pockets, and Nagi didn't look back as he left. Yohji lingered in the doorway, watching as the youth made his way to his teammate's side. They were just far enough away that Yohji couldn't hear their voices, but Schuldich reached out and took one of the bags from his teammate. He could see their mouths move as they talked and they started away. Schuldich didn't look back to acknowledge Yohji but Nagi glanced back just once, and Yohji figured he wouldn't have to ask later which the boy had chosen.

~Eighteen, huh?~ Yohji mused. ~Fight the good fight, then, and make sure he makes it there.~

He closed the door at last and went back to lunch with a light heart.

The End
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