Part One: Torn

    Crawford froze, inhaling sharply when the vision hit him. He swayed on his feet and reached out to grab onto the nearby wall for balance. Farfarello paused from where he was mutilating the corpse that used to be their victim. He gazed up at Crawford, blood and less appetizing bits on his face and front. Crawford closed his eyes, cursing mentally. ~Don't go, Schuldig,~ he thought.

    "Someone else to kill?" Farfarello asked.

    "No," Crawford said tightly. "We're going. Now."

    Farfarello looked from him to the body, then stood, sucking on his knife. He followed obediently behind the pre-cog as they headed down the hall. Crawford pressed a fist to his stomach. They wouldn't get back in time. Damn. In just a few days Taketori was supposed to be killed, and they would be free of his annoyance. Why did he have to move so aggressively right now, when there was no one there to keep an eye on him? When there was no one there to help Schuldig?

    And what the hell was the Group doing there?


    Schuldig cursed in German, yanking against the handcuffs. They were fastened to a tall bar that ran from floor to ceiling. How the hell had Taketori managed to catch him off guard like this? He yanked again, and sharp pain from his wrists was the only response he got. He took a deep breath, turning to gaze at Taketori. His expression was amused and condescending. "So you called me up here by myself to beat me with your golf club again?" he cooed, trying for the umpteenth time that night to enter Taketori's mind. Again he bounced off that mental wall. Why? Taketori had already managed to surprise him with this. Why was the block still up?

    The older man smirked at him. "Don't you wish," was all he replied, reaching forward. Alarms went off in the German's head when Taketori ran a hand tenderly down his cheek. He moved his head away, eyes narrowing in both confusion and distaste. His boss calmly plucked off his sunglasses, then slid the headband off. Schuldig had to shake his head when his long fiery orange hair fell in his face. His lips thinned. What was going on?

    Taketori's block finally dropped, and Schuldig's mind was struck by several images he didn't want to see. Nausea rose in his stomach, along with a few tinges of panic. "Keineswegs," he hissed, entire body tensing. Taketori laughed, lifting his club in his free hand. He swung it down, then arched it up into Schuldig's abdomen. Everything exploded into white hot pain. Schuldig doubled over, eyes widening and making an awful choking sound in his throat. The world spun before his eyes and he staggered, handcuffs digging into his wrists. As he gasped for air, he realized there was a new coolness on his back. His eyes focused, and he saw that his jacket and shirt had been sliced and were on the floor. "That's my good jacket, bastard," he managed to grate out.

    Taketori chuckled deeply. "That _was_ your good jacket," he answered calmly, trailing his hands down Schuldig's back. The redhead's flesh crawled at the contact. He jerked away, straightening as best he could. Taketori came after him and he kicked out. The man caught his shoe easily, jerking it fiercely. Schuldig was yanked off his feet. Unable to catch himself with his hands, he handed painfully on his back. Blood trickled from his wrists where'd they'd been cut when the handcuffs had been jerked after him. He winced, rolling over so he could get up.

    Something large and heavy sat on his back. "I suggest you play nice, Schuldig. I'm the one in control here."

    "Don't. Touch. Me." Schuldig's tone was menace-laden. It didn't faze his boss.

    Taketori had chosen to sit facing Schuldig's legs. He laid his hands down on the telepath's waist, fingers dancing over the smooth flesh. He slid his fingers under the waistband of the German's pants, ignoring the way the boy tried in vain to twist away from the questing digits. "What's wrong, Schuldig? Have you never been forced out of control like this? Or did that just happen in your past? Isn't it strange- years pass and you're still helpless."

    "I hate you!" Schuldig spat, fists clenching so tight his fingernails drew blood. Taketori shifted his weight slightly so his hands could slip under the German, finding the front of his pants and undoing them. Schuldig tried to throw himself into the man's mind, but that cursed wall was back in place. He was getting desperate. This wasn't going to happen to him. Where were the others? He cursed inwardly. Farfarello and Crawford were off on the other side of the god-damned world dealing with some businessman who hadn't paid Taketori. Nagi was...Where was Nagi? Pride warred with pride- Not wanting to call for help, not wanting to be taken like this.

    /Nagi, where the hell are you?/ he sent out.

    In just a few moments there was a sleepy but peeved reply. /I'm getting some sleep, like normal people do at this hour. What do you want?/

    Schuldig hesitated until he felt his shoes and pants tugged off. He clenched his teeth. /I need help./ There was mental swearing from Nagi, and the German was able to pick up from stray thoughts that the boy had sat up so fast he'd hit his head against the headboard. His fists, which he thought could not get any tighter, clenched even tighter and his entire body tensed when he felt Taketori's hands stroking his rear. Revulsion rose in his mouth as bile he had to choke back, and he twisted again. "I'm warning you, Taketori," he snarled, jerking at his handcuffs.

    "Warning acknowledged and ignored." Without further ado, a finger was shoved inside him. Schuldig hissed at the burning pain, back arching slightly.

    "Get off of me, old man!" He again slammed his conscious at Taketori. It was repelled. Damn it...He was getting a severe migraine from doing that. A second finger joined the first, roughly stretching him. The sharp pain was accompanied by a pricking at Schuldig's eyes. He blinked rapidly in both disgust and panic, shaking his head to clear the unwanted moisture away. He clenched his teeth.


    /Where are you?/ The boy's voice was more awake now.

    /With Taketori./

    /You didn't kill him, did you?/ Nagi sounded both exasperated and worried. /If Crawford finds out.../

    ~Taketori's not the one dying...~ Schuldig didn't answer. He clenched his teeth, determined not to make a sound when Taketori drew back. The man turned, raising Schuldig's head by his hair and kissing him on the mouth. Schuldig gagged, feeling something bitter slide down his throat. Schuldig bit down as hard as he could, choking on the blood that flooded his mouth. Taketori yelled in pain, bring his fist down. Schuldig's head cracked into the pole.

    "So you want to play rough." There was the sound of rustling cloth. Schuldig's lips thinned to a hard line and his eyes closed tightly. So many years had passed, and this could still happen. Damn it. Where had he gone wrong? His entire body tensed when he heard Taketori settle behind him. He hurt...He couldn't think straight because of the pounding in his head. His wrists screamed as he was viciously tugged backwards. That screaming was soon drowned out by a pain far worse, a pain that made Schuldig's back arch against Taketori's restraining hands. He clamped his teeth down on his lips and ended up tearing them when Taketori pushed the rest of the way in with a single, brutal stroke. "Aren't you going to scream for me, Schuldig?" the older man taunted.

    "Fuck. You." Schuldig would fight to the end.

    "Don't mind if you do," the voice came back. And as the man began to move, Schuldig's world was shattered by the pain and the single word hissing through his mind.



    Nagi yanked on his shirt, padding out of his room. He was worried, though his expressionless face didn't show it. He had never before heard Schuldig ask for help. It could be a trick, but Nagi doubted Schuldig would stoop to pleading help just to get an upper hand over the telekinetic. He shivered as he hurried down the hall. It hadn't been just the words, but the tone. Schuldig had been both angry and scared. He sped up, turning onto the stairs. As he did, a cloth-covered hand clamped over his mouth and an arm wrapped around his waist.

    "Sorry, chibi, but you're going to have to go to sleep," a smooth voice murmured in his ear. He struggled, trying to breathe and then realizing what he was inhaling. He choked on the bitter smell, the world growing dizzy before his eyes. Damn! ~Schuldig!~

    Everything faded black, and Nagi slumped against the floor.

    Yohji moved stealthily past the crumpled boy, stuffing the cloth into his pocket. There. Problem solved. He'd been told to avoid a confrontation with the remaining Schwarz members. Now that Crawford and Farfarello were out of town it was the perfect time to sneak in the place and get some information. He sighed, wishing again that someone else had been sent. But Ken had been invited to one of his kid's plays, Omi had an exam the next day that he was getting frantic over, and something had happened at the hospital with Aya-chan. That left Yohji.

    Now, where would it be? He tried a nearby room and found it unlocked. Ready to attack if any guards were inside, he slipped in. It was a computer room. Wrong place. He left, looking around. The place was surprisingly empty. He'd only come across two guards and a secretary. Where was everyone?

    He stepped over Nagi's body, heading upstairs. As he reached the next floor, a door opened. Yohji leapt backwards, into the shadows of the stairwell. Ahead, Taketori Reiji left the room. He was pulling on his shirt, a smug expression on his face. The man closed the door and headed in the opposite direction. Yohji's muscles were tense. Taketori couldn't be killed just yet. There was one more piece of information they needed before they could take him out- the information that Yohji was after tonight. The man disappeared into an elevator at the end of the hall. Yohji moved, darting towards the room the man had evacuated. Perhaps it was an office. He tried the door. Unlocked. Good. He slipped in, closing it behind him and pausing to let his eyes adjust to the dark.

    There was the sound of someone moving slightly.

    /If it isn't Weiß.../ Yohji tensed, eyes darting around. Great. Just great. He was in a dark room with the telepath. He reached for the wire on his wrist. There was a soft sigh from his right, accompanied by the sound of metal clinking. More moving. /Just get out./

    Why was Schuldig only speaking to him in his mind? It wasn't like he couldn't figure out where the German was. He paused, reaching towards the light. If he wasn't mistaken, Schuldig's mental voice sounded like he was in pain. It wasn't that Yohji cared whether the orange-haired man was hurt or not, but he was curious as to why he hadn't been attacked yet. And he couldn't leave until he got the information.

    /Don't touch the light, or I'll kill you where you stand./ Yohji didn't doubt that. /You want the disk? Go five steps to your left. There's a desk. Third drawer on the right./

    Yohji hesitated. If this was a trap, it was an odd one. Warily, facing the direction Schuldig's voice came from, he backed towards the desk. He stepped on something and it shattered. He jumped as if he'd been shot. "What the hell?"

    /So that's where they went./ Weary amusement.

    Yohji knelt, fingers combing the carpet until he found what he'd broken. His eyes were getting used to the dimness of the room, and he realized he was holding broken sunglasses. He looked towards Schuldig. He could make out the man's form. Schuldig was leaning against something, sitting oddly on the ground. He seemed much lighter than his surroundings, which was odd because you'd think his jacket would help hide him in the shadows. An icy finger trailed its way down Yohji's spine. There was something very wrong with this room, and it wasn't just the smell of blood and something else he couldn't identify. He continued backing away at a crouch until he bumped into the desk. Within moments he was holding the disk.

    "Why are you letting me live?"

    /Lets just say...I don't feel up to killing you./ Yohji straightened and made his way towards the door. As he reached the doorway, he paused, curiosity warring with common sense. He wanted to turn on the light, but he had to get out before 1) Taketori came back, or 2) Nagi woke up. That stuff wasn't very strong. Schuldig sounded like he was just barely staying awake. In the darkness, the metal clinked again. Yohji reached towards the lightswitch. Suddenly the door slammed open, and Nagi burst in.

    "Schuldig!" The boy's hand darted towards the switch and collided with Yohji's. He jumped back, startled, and Yohji suddenly found himself thrown backwards. He slammed against the wall, moaning as he slid down it to the floor. He was dizzy. He reached up to gingerly feel his head. Light flooded the room, and his pain was forgotten as he stared.

    Schuldig was a sight to see. The German was leaning against a bar, handcuffed to it and naked from head to toe. His hair was messy and bloody, and there was blood and...other stuff...on his body. He had bruises covering him. His hands were covering his face the best they could to block out the sudden harsh light and he uttered a foreign curse. "Watch it!" Nagi knelt by the older man, reaching out to brush the German's hair out of his face. Schuldig twisted his head away, a low growl escaping him. "Don't touch me." His voice was hoarse.

    Nagi hesitated before lowering his hand. "Where's the key?"

    "Bastard probably took it with him." Schuldig yanked at the handcuffs again. They clinked.

    Yohji couldn't stop staring. The redhead's eyes slid towards him, cold and menacing, daring him to say something. Nagi also looked towards Yohji, seeming surprised that the blow hadn't knocked him out. He raised his hand, about to crush Yohji, when there was an explosion. Yohji was flung against a filing cabinet. Nagi went slamming into Schuldig, who made a sharp sound of pain. All glass in the room shattered, and they were suddenly covered in darkness.

    "What was that?" Nagi demanded, staggering to his feet, facing Schuldig. From Yohji's view he saw someone enter the doorway, a gun leveled at the boy.

    "Nagi!" Schuldig snapped.

    The boy whirled around, but Yohji was already acting. His wire shot out, wrapping around the guy's throat. He yanked, and blood sprayed everywhere. The man collapsed. Nagi blinked, surprised, and shot Yohji a glance before hurrying towards the body. He dug through its pockets, searching for identification. He found a badge and cursed, leaping backwards as if he'd been burned.

    "The Group!" he hissed. Schuldig stiffened. Yohji had no clue what they were talking about. He pulled himself to his feet. Nagi looked from him to Schuldig, raising a hand to absently brush at a few droplets of sweat that beaded his forehead. Apparently he was weaker since he'd just woken up. He seemed to be thinking hard. Finally he turned back to Yohji. "We call a truce this time?" he asked. "We don't attack you, you don't attack us?"

    "I don't think your buddy is in any shape to fight."

    "You have such faith in my abilities," Schuldig drawled, but could not hide his wince as he tried to shift positions.

    "I alone am enough," Nagi said calmly. The boy had found Schuldig's pants, the only intact piece of clothing there was of the man's. Yohji looked away as the boy put them on his partner.

    ~If you're enough...why a truce?~


    /Why the hell is the Group here?/ Nagi demanded.

    /And I'm supposed to know this because...?/ Schuldig asked, raising an eyebrow at the boy. It irked him to no end that Nagi had to put on what was left of his clothes. He rattled the handcuffs. How were they supposed to get these off? If Taketori had the keys...He couldn't suppress the shudder that ran up his spine at the man's name. Gods...He hurt...How could he have been caught off guard like that? It didn't make any sense. If Nagi noticed the way Schuldig shivered suddenly, he made no comment. He probably didn't, since his mind was occupied with thoughts of the Group.

    /We have to get out of here./

    /Obviously, but there is a slight problem./ Schuldig tugged his hands. He was so tired all of a sudden, and he hurt too much. He sighed, sagging back against the pole. ~What's the use of fighting, anyway? Ten years passed and you still can't get away.~ The movement brought sharp stabs of pain up him.

    "There's got to be _some_ way to get these open, but we need to hurry." Nagi yanked at the cuffs. He looked up suddenly in surprise when the Weiß boy approached. Yohji crouched by them, shoving a pointy tool into the handcuffs. Schuldig gazed at the man's face with detached interest. He didn't feel up to pestering his opponent. All he wanted to do was wake up from this nightmare that was reality.

    ~Damn...What's wrong with the world, anyway?~

    He couldn't stay awake. Blood loss, exhaustion, and pain tugged him backwards into oblivion. Schuldig didn't fight them.


    Nagi saw the jaded eyes close. Schuldig went limp against the bar. Alarmed, he reached out and touched the man's throat. The pulse was still there, and steady. "He's lost too much blood," the wire boy commented absently, echoing Nagi's thoughts. The cuffs clicked open.

    Nagi hesitated before peering up into Weiß's face. What was his name? Kudou Yohji? "Thank you," he replied, tone both wary and grateful at the same time. He reached forward, trying to figure out how he was going to get both Schuldig and himself away from here before the rest of the Group arrived, but Yohji held out an arm, blocking him.

    "What is the Group?" the blond asked.

    "Why should you care?" Nagi countered calmly, expressionless blue eyes turning on Yohji's.

    "I just freed your buddy. I think I deserve an answer."

    "We think differently." Nagi pushed the man's hand out of his way, sliding his arms under Schuldig's. ~Why did you have to pass out now? I don't know if I can get us away. But if we get caught...~ Fear fought to rise in him. He tried to force it down, then tilted his head up at Yohji. He needed help. Maybe, if he played this right, the Weiß man would be useful to him. "The Group is an organization that has been trying to get us. They want our powers. That's all they care about." Hate tinged the boy's tone. "I grew up on the streets. I don't have much of a past, but it's still mine. If they get us, we as people cease to exist."

    Yohji seemed to be digesting this. "I see," the man finally said.

    "You _did_ ask." Nagi got to his feet slowly, lifting Schuldig as much as he could. ~Jeez, Schuldig, do you have to be so heavy?~ There were footsteps pounding in the hall and Nagi froze, looking over his shoulder. Damn! He stumbled suddenly as the weight was taken out of his arms, looking up with wide eyes to see Yohji was holding Schuldig.

    "Just so you know," Yohji told Nagi calmly, "this doesn't make us allies."


    "So how do we get out of here?"

    "We run like hell," Nagi answered. Follow me. I'll keep them back." ~If I can.~

    They dashed into the hall, Nagi throwing up a shield as they did so. Bullets ricocheted off. Nagi reached out with a hand, bowling the men over and slamming them out of the way. These men were just Members. Hopefully there were no Agents here. Yohji kept up despite his burden, and they turned onto the stairs, shoes pounding against the ground as they dashed down.

    Fifth floor...fourth...third...There were Members everywhere! What were they, cockroaches? Nagi stumbled as they reached the second floor. He couldn't keep up this barrier. It was too painful. It felt like his head was going to explode. They burst onto the first floor. A single man stood there. He raised a hand. Nagi was struck by an invisible force. He was sent flying backwards, slamming into the stairs. A cry of pain escaped his lips. Spots flashed before his eyes. ~D-damn...The telekinetic...Stronger than me...~

    It was painful to move. He slowly rolled onto his side.

    "Trying to get away, little Nagi?" the man asked, voice condescending. "You should know that's impossible. Why don't you just give up and come along quietly?"

    "How about...fuck you?" Nagi asked. His head hurt so much. It had never hurt this badly.

    "Who might you be?" The man eyed Yohji. "Never mind, you're not important. Hand over the telepath."

    ~We've lost...~ Nagi thought mournfully.

    "What if I don't want to?"

    ~What?~ Nagi stared at Yohji, surprised.

    The man blinked. "Then you'll die, of course."

    Yohji bared his teeth in a grin. "How will you kill me? Knock me into a wall? That will kill Schuldig. He's too weak to withstand a blow. So what are you going to do?"

    The man's lips thinned to an annoyed line as he realized the truth of Yohji's words.. "Fine then, I'll do it the old-fashioned way." He raised a gun. Nagi could see Yohji's body tense. Suddenly the man stiffened, eyes widening. The gun dropped from limp fingers, and he sagged forward. Nagi could only stare. Omi was standing there, crossbow still raised. The older boy lowered it slightly, eyes going to Nagi.

    ~He killed the telekinetic.~ A wave of both apprehension and excitement tingled across his skin.

    "What are you doing with them, Yohji-kun?"

    "We're on a truce tonight. We have to get out of here, now."

    "Un!" Omi nodded. He didn't understand, but he would trust Yohji's judgement. "I brought your car." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder.

    There were footsteps on the stairs. Yohji hurried on, still carrying Schuldig. Nagi tried to force himself up. It was hard. Every movement was painful. ~Is this what they feel like when I attack them?~ he wondered, mind going to the Weiß boys. A pained gasp slipped from him as the world spun. He couldn't _think_ straight, much less move well.

    A hand appeared in his line of view, offering him a lift up, and he tilted his head up to see Omi. The boy's face was grim but not hostile. "If we're on a truce..." the boy said, letting the rest go unsaid.

    ~Accept the help of a Weiß? What the hell. Yohji has Schuldig.~ Nagi accepted the hand, and Omi pulled him to his feet. It was hard to stay on them, and he felt an arm loop around his waist. Together they half-ran, half-limped after the pair. Guns fired as they ducked out the door. Nagi thought he heard Omi hiss with pain, but he wasn't sure. Then they were at the car. Its engine was running, and Yohji was in the driver's seat. Nagi got in the back seat near Schuldig's body, and Omi scrambled into the front seat. As soon as the doors were closed Yohji pressed the gas petal. They roared away through the night.

Part 2