Part Six: Einsam's Warning

    Meirth glowered out the windshield as he drove. Einsam was in the passenger seat, nibbling absently on the end of his braid. They had been driving in silence for the last ten minutes- Meirth because he hadn't been sure he could speak without screaming curses and Einsam because he rarely spoke to Meirth without being spoken to first. Meirth glanced over at the younger boy. Einsam looked so god-damned calm about all this. Didn't he understand what had happened? They had been taken by surprise. Somehow Weiß and Schwarz had found them, and Nuboshi had died. Meirth didn't care about the speeder one way or another, but that meant two of them- two of the Group's agents- had been killed. That wasn't supposed to happen. There had to be a rule against it somewhere. He was sure of it. He turned sharply onto another road, hands tightening to a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. He knew who was behind the failure of this mission.

    "Einsam," he spoke up, voice cold, "there has to be a way to get Schuldig. I don't care how long it takes. I want him." He hit the wheel in an angry gesture. "I am going to hurt him until he cries. Get me that German, do you understand?"

    "You can't kill him," the blood-eyed boy reminded him, gazing through the windshield.

    "I know that," Meirth snapped. Einsam winced. Ahead the lights turned red. Meirth slowed to a stop, taking a deep breath to calm himself. Something occured to him and he looked out the side window, lips thinning to a hard line. "When you told us how to get Nagi, how far did you trace it?" he asked, noting with satisfaction that his voice was now calm and steady.

    "Far enough to see we'd get both him and the kitten."

    "When I came to you at the office, did you sequence?"


    It was the answer Meirth expected. Einsam was always sequencing. He couldn't stop. "So did you," he asked slowly, hearing the ice start to build up in his tone, "see that Nuboshi was going to get killed?" Einsam did not answer. The light turned green. Meirth ignored it, turning to face the brunette to his right. Einsam was gazing at him, eyes eerily giving the illusion of glowing because of the streetlights. "Did you, or did you not?"

    Einsam gave a nod. Meirth faced forward again, starting the car on its way. There was silence between them again. Meirth pulled into the parking lot of a hotel and entered, leaving Einsam in the car. He paid for a single bedroom and came back, beckoning for his partner to follow. Einsam followed him upstairs to their room. Meirth bolted the door behind them and pointed to the bed. Einsam obediently sat on it, never breaking eye contact with Meirth.

    "Now you sit here," Meirth told him, "and don't move until you've figured out how to catch the telepath. Is that understood, Einsam?" A slight nod. "Good. I'm going to go shower." He left the room, hearing the bed shift as Einsam hugged his knees to his chest. He didn't care how much it hurt the boy to sequence, this time. Einsam had seen the possibility of Nuboshi's death and said nothing. There should have been a way to prevent it. He shouldn't have been so lenient earlier, he should have made Einsam continue sequencing instead of screwing him. Then Nuboshi would be alive and they would still have the telekinetic.

    Now they were back to where they started, but with two less people. It looked like he was going to have to start using his gifts soon. And when he did, there was going to be hell to pay.


    Nagi held the door open, letting Aya enter with his burden. Omi had woken up but was still a bit woozy, so Aya had carried him in from the car. The rest of the group entered, scattering to various locations. Crawford took Farfarello to the back room to tie him back up and let him play with his blender some more. Ken and Aya went upstairs. Nagi went towards the basement to check on Schuldig. As he started down the stairs he spotted the two people in the basement. Schuldig was laying down on the couch, sleeping, and Yohji was sitting on the floor by it with a dazed expression on his face. When Yohji heard Nagi's footsteps he jumped, eyes shooting guiltily towards the boy. Nagi thought his cheeks reddened, but if they did it was too faint for him to be positive. "Oh, Nagi," Yohji greeted with a smile. "Did everyone get back safely?"

    "Aa. Omi was taken upstairs. How long has he been asleep?" Nagi moved closer to peer at Schuldig's face. It was pale but peaceful. He let out a quiet breath of relief. "Did he...did he suffer?" He looked back at Yohji, who gave a nod. "How badly?"

    Yohji gave him a smile meant to be reassuring and ruffled Nagi's hair. Nagi glared at him. He _hated_ it when people did that. "Don't worry about it, chibi. He knew what he was getting into. He just wanted to protect you." He peered back at Schuldig and Nagi saw a glimmer of uneasiness in his green eyes. "I don't want to disturb him. You think he'd mind sleeping down here?"

    "He doesn't like being woken up," Nagi replied dryly. He turned back to the German as Yohji left to check on Omi. He could thank Schuldig when he was awake, but he wasn't sure how he could. He reached out with a hand, resting the tips of two fingers on the man's forehead. ~Even later I will not find enough words to thank you for what you've done.~ He turned away and silently headed to the main floor of the building.

    "Nagi." Nagi turned to see Aya by the stairs leading to the second floor. The redhead was leaning against the banister, hands in his pockets and purple eyes expressionless. Nagi held his gaze, waiting for the Weiß kitten to speak. Aya tilted his head towards the stiars without breaking eye contact. "Omi was asking for you."

    Nagi felt a strange thrill at those words that was accompanied by a sense of guilt. So far Omi had been hurt greatly because of him. He had been injured by a bullet- unlike what Nagi had feared, Omi had been just grazed and not shot- and now whipped and beaten. Nagi moved past Aya up the stairs. Ken and Yohji were leaving Omi's room as he arrived, with Ken looking a little confused. They stepped aside to let Nagi entered and closed the door. Nagi could hear their footsteps as they headed back downstairs. The lights were off in the room, but it was dimly lit by the light coming off the computer screen. The screensaver was of a black kitten playing wiht a ball of red yarn. Nagi's mouth quirked. Cute.

    "Nagi?" Nagi stepped twoards the bed. Omi smiled sleepily up at him from where he was laying under the covers. "Ohayo."

    "It's nighttime, Omi," Nagi corrected him.

    Omi blinked, then looked over at his clock. "it is." He looked back at Nagi, eyes wide and pleading. "Are you all right, Nagi? They didn't hurt you, did they?"

    Nagi almost laughed. Omi was covered in bandages and he was asking about Nagi? He smiled gently at the older boy. "I'm fine, Omi. Schuldig protected me."

    Omi yawned, reaching out and closing his hand around Nagi's wrist. He pulled Nagi down so the telekinetic was sitting on the bed, turning his head on the pillow to gaze up at the ceiling. Nagi held his breath. "That's good," Omi murmured, tone bright if a little slurred. His expression changed immediately, looking sad and guilty. "I'm sorry, Nagi, that I couldn't protect you. I tried."

    Nagi's free hand reached out on its own accord and he ran his fingers through Omi's hair. It was silky soft. Was it just his imagination, or did Omi's head turn into the caress? "No, Omi, I'm the one that's sorry. You were kidnapped and beaten because of me."

    "Getting kidnapped gets gold after a while." Omi giggled. It was a funny sound and Nagi couldn't help but grin. Omi was obviously still high from whatever drug had been given him by the medical staff. Nagi's amusement faded when he realized what Omi meant. Omi had been kidnapped as a child, then again by Schwarz, and now by the Group. All three times he'd been abused, and had bounced back like a fresh rubberband. Nagi brushed his thumb along Omi's temple thoughtfully, gazing down at Omi.

    "You are stronger than I am, Omi," he said softly.


    Nagi didn't answer. Omi and he had both had tragic pasts. Omi had shrugged it off and continued on cheerfully. His road as an assassin led him to kill to protect the weak and suffering. Nagi had closed off and started using his talents as an assassin that killed the powerful and weak to prevent more suffering. Both Weiß and Schwarz had the same end goal, but both walked on opposite sides of the line to get there. Nagi believed his side was right. Omi belived in _his_. But if Omi was the one still smiling, then which one was the right path? Nagi shook his head slightly to get rid of such thoughts. It wasn't his job to think. Let Crawford do the thinking and him the following.

    He was tired, but he wasn't sure he wanted to leave. Omi smiled shyly up at him as if reading his mind. "Stay with me?" he asked, patting the mattress beside him and scooting over to make room.

    Nagi hesitated, then laid down on top of the sheets next to Omi. There was silence in the room for a while, then he heard Omi shifting behind him. As Nagi was beginning to doze off he felt two arms wrap around his waist. It would have startled him enough to be wide awake if it hadn't felt so right. He gave a quiet contented sigh, looking over his shoulder. Omi had joined him on top of the blankets. His eyes were closed as he slept. Nagi smiled and faced forward again, resting his arms on top of Omi's. His eyes closed and he allowed himself to fall asleep.


    Aya, going in an hour later to check on Omi before turning in for the night, paused in the doorway and stared at the bed. Minutes passed, but the scene before him didn't change. Nagi was on Omi's bed, tucked up against Omi and held snugly in place by arms around his waist. Aya studied them both in silence for a little bit longer, then left as silently as he'd come, closing the door quietly behind him. He padded down the hall to his room, thinking thi sover. He didn't quite like Nagi, but if he had to pick one person of Schwarz to trust it would have to be the telekinetic. He had seen the attraction between Omi and Nagi from a while back. Omi had always seemed to have a sort of fascination for the younger boy, something Omi himself might not have noticed. Aya might not have seen it either, if Yohji hadn't mentioned it in passing. Ever since the Scwarz had shown up the night before the two boys had grown quickly closer. Aya wasn't quite sure he approved.

    He let his mind run over the events of the night as he changed into pajama bottoms. They were lucky to have gotten both children back safely. Tomorrow Omi would have to call his teacher and give him an excuse for why he missed the study session. Aya sniffed as he slid between the covers of his bed. Tomorrow he had the morning off, to visit Aya-chan. Saturdays at the shop were always busier than weekdays since the girls didn't have school or work to go to, so the other three kittens were going to be pushed. As long as the Schwarz were staying they might as well make themselves useful around the place.

    He crossed his arms under his head, gazing up at the ceiling, taking a deep breath. Crawford was using Ken's room. The soccer player had given it up a bit reluctantly and had moved all of his precious sports equipment out. Hidaka was now in the living room. He'd quickly learned that that put him closer to the TV, and so he hadn't grumbled too much. Schuldig was still in the basement, Farfarello was in the back, Omi and Nagi...Aya flitted over them. Yohji was in his room. He sighed quietly. The urge to go to Crawford's room and stab him through in his sleep was strong, but he found it easier to control now than it had been earlier, most likely because Crawford had helped get Omi back. Regardless of the fact that Crawford was on the wrong side, the only thing that probably made Aya hate him was the fact that he had protected Taketori.

    Hatred rose in him along with bile, and he choked back the bitter taste. How he _hated_ that man! The man who had taken everything away from him: his mother, his father, his precious sister. His eyes closed tightly and his hands clenched into fists. He could feel his fingernails digging into the flesh of his palms. His whole was focused towards two goals- the first, to see his sister wake, and the second, to kill Taketori Reiji. He could not rest until Taketori was dead, could not live until Aya-chan opened her eyes and smiled again. How he missed her sweet smile, her laugh. The laugh that could make deaf men smile.

    ~Aya-chan...~ he thought wistfully. ~What I would give, to see you wake up again.~

    He sighed again, opening his hands and moving one to where he could see the imprints of his nails. He rolled onto his side, pulling the blankets up to his chin. He had a feeling sleep would be a long time in coming.


    ~One step to the right, it misses. Stay and it gashes. Small cut. Maybe bleed enough for a bandaid, the nonstick kind you can get in a gas station. Maybe even the glow in the dark kind, or the flourescent ones. A neon pink one would be pretty, but blood and pink don't look good together.~

    He was gone. Einsam needed to leave, now.

    ~His possible moves: he can attack while you're dodging, he can wait to see why you're there. If he attacks, others will hear and come running. You can stay, you can attack, you can run- NO. WRONG TRACK. If he waits, you can talk.~

    It was time to go.

    ~Maybe you can dance and sing, like those commercials. What were they for? Credit cards? Biscuits? Meat? Beef. It's what's for dinner. Moo, cow, moo. Ride 'em, doggy. Woof woof. Kibbles 'n bits 'n bits 'n bits.~

    "Damn," Einsam hissed, grabbing at his head with a hand. He shoved himself off the bed with the other, stumbling towards the door. "Why won't it just go away?"

    ~Walk with your head down and you'll bump into a door. Lift it up and you won't. Lurch to the right, you'll bump into the inn table and the lamp will fall and shatter. Meirth will know you were up and will not be gentle tonight. If you fight back he'll be rougher. If you don't he'll just taunt you more. NO! WRONG TRACK, damn it!~

    Einsam almost tore the door off its hinges opening it, slamming it behind him. He didn't pause in the hall, instead taking off at a run towards the elevators. He could feel hot tears of pain and frustration building up in his eyes and blinked them back quickly. ~I don't cry. I DON'T CRY.~

    ~Blink them away and don't cry. Cry and the cleaning lady around the corner will take pity on you and give you a cookie.~

    ~Cookie? Yum. Sounds tasty. Cookies are good. I like peanut butter cookies. Mom used to make them for me. I remember helping her mark the top of them with a fork.~

    ~I just want some silence. Why can't I ever have silence?~

    Even over his own thoughts Einsam could hear his mind flitting, jump-starting, racing and stumbling to keep up with him. It was telling him everything he could do, all of his choices, and where that would lead him. It was driving him insane, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. He was going to lose his mind. Hell, he'd probably already lost it. Run with the same foot twice. Slow down. Turn here. Turn there. Run backwards.


    His head hurt. He'd been sequencing more than usual because of Meirth. Stupid, stupid Schwarz. Why were they always causing him so much pain? Who cared about Schwarz, anyway. If ignored and left alone they weren't any trouble. And there was no reason he could see that they needed a telepath. Extra batteries from Crawford and Farfarello- that he could understand. If he had a power source to give himself a high his mind would relax. What he wanted- and needed- was a constant source of psychic power to keep himself boosted. If he had one, his power wouldn't cause him such a great deal of biting agony and would not be driving him mad. He used to have a source, but it had been taken away from him.

    He had lost everything, and now he was losing his mind.

    ~What's wrong with the world, anyway?~ he demanded mentally. He darted around the corner to where the elevators were kept, hitting his fist against the down button. As the elevator button dinged his mind patiently informed him what he could do. Why were the doors opening so slowly? That was a sometimes problem with sequencing- the more intently he did it the more time seemed to slow down to a crawl. He saw the world around him move slower than anyone else. Someone blinking looked like a slow, seductive wink. Loud noises dragged on, blasting and searing straight to his eardrums. Pain never ended. Only he and Schuldig were immune to the weighted movements everything else appeared to have.

    ~I just want some silence.~ He stepped in the elevator, jabbing his finger against the "Close" button repeatedly. As they finally obeyed he was aware of the soft elevator music. It was slow, of course, and beautiful in its slowness. He hummed along with it, dancing along the inside of the elevator. His braid swayed behind him as he spun in lazy circles across the carpeted floor. The mirrored walls reflected his movements, and he grinned at them. His reflections grinned back.

    ~One big happy family.~

    The elevator stopped and the doors open. Einsam darted out, making towards the door. As soon as the doors had opened his mind had started sequencing again. Although moving fast made the voice more agitated and annoying, it was better to be in a rush when one didn't give much thought to their actions. This way, he wouldn't have much time to listen to the gods-be-damned ranting in his head.

    He hurt so much.

    ~A cookie would have been nice.~


    Schuldig sat up on the couch. The basement? Why was he down here? The events of a few hours ago drifted back and he blinked. ~Ah. That's right.~ Now onto the more important question: What woke him up? He slid off the couch, bumping into a small table in the darkness as he stood. There was the sound of glass hitting wood and liquid being split. Belatedly he remembered the juice. ~Oh well.~ He made his way towards the stairs, picking his way carefully through the dim room until his eyes could adjust. A hand found the railing and he moved silently but quickly up the curved staircase. His mind ached something terrible. It hadn't been the exhaustion that had knocked him out earlier, but the pain and the result of whatever Nuboshi had done to Nagi.

    ~I need a strong drug. Perhaps morphine.~ He smiled to himself. Morphine had never worked in the past. Why would it now?

    He let himself into the den. Ken was sprawled out on the loveseat, sound asleep. The TV was on, forgotten. Schuldig left it on, passing through the room. There were three choices of where to go once he left the den: to the stairs, to the kitchen, or to the shop. He chose the kitchen. As he moved he tried to lightly probe outwards, to test the nearby minds. In return he got a sharp kick in the brain, so sudden and biting he stumbled and banged his shoulder into the frame of the kitchen door.

    ~Nagi owes me something big time.~ A smirk curved the lips that had tightened in pain. ~Oh, the things I could make him do.~ He laughed softly, heading towards the fridge. He paused for a moment with the door open, blinking against the sudden light, and sniffed. There wasn't much in there, besides leftover take out and bottles of water. They needed to do some shopping.

    He closed the fridge, turning away. He wasn't going to find what he needed here. He left the kitchen, letting himself out into the storage room. Farfarello was presumably asleep, leaning against the wall with his pale hands curved lovingly around a blender. Schuldig blinked. ~How cute,~ he sniggered mentally, reaching out to ruffle the white hair as he passed. He slipped through the back door and out into the night, experiencing a small chill as the cool breeze washed over him. The clothes he had taken from Yohji weren't exactly made for walking around at midnight without a jacket. He gave a slight shrug and headed off.

    The walk was long, but he didn't mind. Most of what he was receiving in his mind were wispy dreams as those around him slumbered- small shifting scenes of color that constantly changed. They were faint, still affected by the blast he'd taken for Nagi earlier, leaving him with only a throbbing headache. His smirk widened. He knew how to cure this headache. All it would take was one drink too many, to send him into the blackness of a drunken, unconscious sleep. A sleep that would temporarily take him away from this hell he called a life.

    As if going along with the sudden bitter turn his thoughts had taken, the wind picked up speed. A shiver ran up his spine and he crossed his arms over his chest, turning onto the well lit street that housed most of the bars and clubs that made up the nightlife in this part of town. He drifted through the crowd, picking through people's minds slowly and absently, without his usual malicious amusement. These people...They were so stupid. So naive and innocent, so sheltered in their lives. It wasn't right, that some were chosen to live such ignorant lives while others were singled out to be ruined.

    "Ah, but without the innocents, who would there be to play with?" he asked himself breezily in attempt to restore his usual arrogant and smirking self. It wasn't like him to be this down and dark. Fuck Taketori, who did this to him. Fuck the Group and all of their useless gods-be-damned agents, who told Taketori to do it. And screw Weiß for finding him.

    ~That certainly restored the mood.~ He let out a heavy sigh impatiently, shoving the door to a nearby club open and letting himself in. The lights were neon strobes, flashing everywhere. The dance floor was crowded. Strangers were dancing with each other, losing themselves to the simplicity of music. He smiled slightly to himself, weaving his way through the group towards the bar. It was mostly abandoned; everyone seemed to be in a dancing mood tonight. He slid onto a stool gracefully, and was quickly tended to by the bartender.

    Within minutes he was leaning against the counter, a tall glass of icy Moonlit Lust in one hand. He sipped at it. It was bitter, almost disgustingly so. He eyed the dull gray concoction. It was almost as if they'd just served him vinegar lined with salt and a few pinches of sugar. Nasty. It was just what he needed. He sipped some more, eyes going through the crowd.

    As he did so, a train of thoughts broke into his that he was picking up, where someone was singing mentally.

    ~I wanna dance with somebody. I wanna feel the heat with somebody.~ The song abruptly changed, and multiple thoughts of the same voice began to overlap and run together. ~Dance? Dance with the man to your left and he'll the girl will take you in his arms touch you unlike he did. Maybe you'll kill her you'll take him away...~

    Schuldig stiffened on his stool, straightening up. Sharp jade eyes skimmed the crowd, watching and waiting. The jumbled sentences continued, intermixed with lyrics to songs and comments on commercials the club reminded the person of. The voice and insanity of the thoughts were unmistakable. The crowd parted slightly to the left and Schuldig was not proven wrong. Standing there was a braided figure with blood red eyes, gazing at him. The younger boy moved forward until he stood a few feet in front of Schuldig. Schuldig met and returned the stare, his hate and disgust clear in his glinting eyes.

    "Einsam," he greeted in a lilting and mocking voice, "what a surprise to see you here. Did Meirth let you out of your cage?" There was no sequencing going on in that jumble of a mind that pertained to this situation, which meant Einsam had sat down already and figured this all out. Of course, that part was already obvious, or the Sequencer wouldn't be here.

    Dark crimson eyes slid down from his face to the drink in his hand. The head tilted ever so slightly to the side. Schuldig raised it to his mouth, taking a long sip and running over his options. Einsam was obviously here for a reason. It could be a trap, and it probably was. Einsam hated him because of Meirth's obsession with the telepath several years ago. It wasn't like Schuldig had asked Meirth to rape him, but who ever asked Schuldig?

    He propped an elbow up on the counter in a lazy gesture, eyes moving across the crowd. Damn, he hated the fact that he couldn't hear Meirth. Einsam never went anywhere without the man, and if he'd sequenced this, then he already knew what Schuldig was going to do. He turned on his stool, presenting his side to the boy and setting his drink down. "So why'd you come here?" he asked nonchalantly, eyes glancing back at the silent figure.

    Einsam opened his mouth to speak when a small fight broke out behind him. There was a flash of silver, of knives. One was thrown. The target ducked, leaving the knife flying towards Einsam. Schuldig felt a stir of anticipation. Einsam would dodge, concentration blown, and Schuldig could take that oppurtunity to attack. To his surprise- though why should he be surprised, Einsam had probably already seen this- Einsam didn't move. The knife slipped past his arm, slicing the bared arm lightly. Blood dribbled down as the knife clattered against an empty stool and fell. Einsam ignored the brawl, stepping forward.

    "I suggest you hear me out."

    Damn, Einsam's thoughts were making Schuldig nauseous. It was like hearing a whole club's worth of thoughts in just one mind, on top of everyone else's. But Einsam's were just overlapped instructions, mixed with the same oddball thoughts Schuldig could sometimes pick up from Farfarello. He gazed back at Einsam. Listen or not? He took a deep gulp of his drink. "Why should I?"

    "I'm going to help you." Schuldig snorted at this remark, until he heard Einsam's next comment. "But only because I hate you."

    He gazed at the boy for a few moments. "Talk."

    Einsam moved even closer. "Not here. You stand out easily over here in the darkness." He took Schuldig by the wrist. Schuldig put his drink down, following Einsam into the middle of the dance floor. All of his nerves were high-strung, expecting an attack. Einsam slid his arms around Schuldig's neck, dancing to the sultry music blaring through the way too large speakers. Schuldig danced with him, dark emerald eyes locked with dried blood ones. Einsam gave a slight, tired smirk. "I've already come up with a way to get you, Schuldig. It's what Meirth asked me to do. I've found a way already, to snag you and bring you back to him. Is that what you want, German beauty?" The bishonen shook his head up at Schuldig, long slender fingers flicking across the redhead's cheeks. "He's promised me he'll make you cry when he gets his hands on you."

    Schuldig laughed softly, a harsh mocking sound. "I don't know how to cry, Einsam."

    Einsam smirked wider, eyes dancing, telling him he knew what Schuldig was feeling deep down. Schuldig had no defense against someone like Meirth. Meirth was a manipulator as well as reader of feelings, like Schuldig was with thoughts. He specialized in pain. He could call forth pain in a person that was a hundred times worse than death. Strong humans would eventually lock themselves from the pain, separating mind from body. Schuldig, as a telepath, could not do that. So on top of not being able to read Meirth's mind, he could not form a barrier against the man's attacks.

    "I will help you because I hate you," Einsam told him again. His expression turned bitter. "He wants you. He'll always want you more than he wants me. You can't have him."

    "I don't want him," Schuldig pointed out, mentally trying to swat Einsam's thoughts away from himself.

    "That doesn't matter." Einsam ran a hand down Schuldig's chest. "When you receive an enemy disguised as a friend tomorrow, your time will be near."

    ~Enemy disguised as a friend?~

    "That's very helpful," Schuldig drawled, raising an eyebrow.

    "You will know him. The Weiß will not. That is all I will say." Einsam backed away from him. The song went over. "Enjoy your drink, my hated friend." The boy turned, braid whisking behind him. Within moments he was gone through the crowd, leaving Schuldig alone.

    Hands slid across the German, inviting, strangers smiling up at him. Schuldig brushed them away. He wasn't in the mood. He returned to his stool to finish his drink, gazing at the wall. His mind ran over and over the words Einsam had told him until he couldn't think straight. He idly noticed that there were three empty glasses beside him instead of one.

    ~They multiply,~ was his last conscious thought before he slipped into his desired unconsciousness.

Part 7