Part Six: Trial and Failure

   Ahh...I am in such a good mood this evening. I'm not sure what exactly happened last night between Aya and myself, but whatever it was, last night's sex seemed to be more satisfying than it ever has been. The after-sex languor still seems to cling to me as I move through our headquarters, my movements even more liquid and lazy than usual, my eyes hooded but more calm and satisfied than mocking. I am not in the mood to do anything today, for some reason- not in the mood to bug Nagi or Crawford, to play with Farfarello, to find a victim's mind to mess with, nothing. I'm not sure what I want, but I'm sure I'll recognize it when I come to it.

    My stride takes me to the stairs that lead to the roof, and since I have nothing better to do, I ascend. The wind up here is not as fierce as it has been, and I move over to the side to gaze out. Perhaps I am just in a slump, I suppose. Schwarz has had nothing but dinky missions for a long time. Crawford warns us that the final battle is coming up. He has never said it is the final battle with Weiß, though. I noticed that a while ago and made a comment on it. He just gave an ever so slight twitch of the lips in that ghost of a smirk he rarely allows to fully bloom on his face.

    I wonder if it has something to do with Estet. Crawford seems to have changed his opinion of them. It was a gradual change, and he never shows it around them, only in small things around us that he probably doesn't realize he is doing. It took me a while to notice, but ever since it has been much easier to spot them- the slight sneer on his face when their representatives leave, the careless indifference he displays when he is reading the newest messages from them, the way he barely accents their names with dislike. Nagi has not noticed, but he probably won't care if he finds out. As I've said, he belongs to Crawford. He follows Crawford. After all, it was Crawford that saved him and gave him his own -if dysfunctional- home. Our American leader has a claim over Nagi that Estet can never touch.

    I could have turned him in to them when I first started seeing the signs of a strain on our relationship with them. Perhaps I will one day. After all, we signed our lives to Estet. We belong to them until our deaths, and probably in the darkness that comes afterward. If there is an existance after we abandon our bodies, that is. I doubt there is.

    I have sidetracked myself. Why did I not turn Crawford in?

    Probably because he has his own claim to me, like the one he has to Nagi. The two bonds are very different. I can't really describe the ties that hold Crawford and myself together. He is my silence. I am his efficient weapon. We use each other. We need each other. That is all I can say.

    Crawford has no ties to Farfarello. That Irishman's loyalty lies to whoever can get him closest to things that will hurt his God. At times I wonder if Farfarello could kill us all in the most gruesome ways imaginable and keep going on his way. He probably can. Sometimes I wonder about him. Perhaps he too can feel the knot that keeps us together.

    Saa, I am thinking too much. Usually I cannot hear my own thoughts without some clutter from other minds, but today the mental field seems a little quieter and calmer than it normally is. I wonder if that is a good thing. It is strange, and almost uncomfortable, to have a mind that mostly belongs to me. It is time to find something to occupy my time. As I decide to leave I feel another mind ripple against mine. It is Nagi, and he is coming for me.

    I turn away from the rail as he reaches the roof, my lips curving automatically into a smirk. Briefly I wonder when the expression melted away from me. "Schuldich, Crawford sent me for you."

    "Isn't it nice to be the errand boy?" I taunt him in a voice slurred with a lazy tone. I push away from the side, moving past him. As I pass him, I briefly put my hand on his shoulder and lean down to say by his ear, "It is comforting to know you are good for things other than throwing bricks around with your mind."

    His eyes slide to my hand, his eyes unreadable and mind tightly locked in case I decide to root through his mind. "You'd better hurry, Schuldich," he tells me, eyes raising to my face. "I think you want to hear what Crawford has to say to you."

    Ah, so the child knows? My curiosity is peaked. I reach out, caressing his mind gently to test the barriers. He stiffens at the feeling and his eyes narrow.

    "You will get the information much quicker if you go to Crawford instead of trying to get it from me."

    "It's more fun this way," I murmur throatily to him, smirk widening. He gives me that Look that says he is two seconds short of throwing me away from him. I laugh, removing my hand and heading towards the stairs. "Keep up the good messenger work, bishounen. Next you'll be sent to tell Farfarello that there really isn't a God."

    "No, just a Devil," he calmly retorts over his shoulder, and it is clear who the Devil is from the accusation in his tone.

    Schuldig is now Teufel, is he? I tip my head back so that my hair falls back over my shoulders, laughing loud at his words. It is not the first time I have been called the Devil. It wasn't the first time when Crawford called me it. I've been called it all my life. But I am no Devil. Just the guilty one. I finish my laughing by the time I reach Crawford's office. His door is open and he is sitting at his desk.

    "Are you quite done with your cackling?" he asks calmly, not looking up from his papers.

    I smirk. "Depends."

    "There has been an addition to your mission." He lifts a small stack of paper, riffling it and tapping it against the tabletop to line all of the edges up. "Do you think you can handle this adjustment?"

    Something about the way he words it -perhaps his mocking tone- immediately snags my interest. "Since when have I not been able to handle something?"

    "Ouka," he answers easily.

    I heave a mock-wounded and exaggerated sigh. "You are cruel, Crawford." He ignores my theatrics, and ignores me for just a little longer. I wait, my impatience growing as he straightens his desktop. "Just so you know, Crawford, I have better things to do than stand here and watch you tidy your work area," I point out, only a slight edge of my irritation showing in my words. He continues to ignore me, and I open my mouth to make another comment.

    He beats me to it. "Aya is to be killed." His sudden answer take me by surprise, so I am left standing there with my mouth open, struggling to backtrack and digest what I've just been told. I blink, closing my mouth. He does not wait for me to make a reply, just continues on. "You go to see him just about every night, do you not?" He peers up at me and I nod. "The next time you see him, kill him. With this final battle coming up his death will be an advantage to us. Is that understood?"

    The order ricochets around in my mind. Kill Aya. Kill Aya. Kill Aya. I smirk to hide the inner confusion that accompanies such a thought. "Of course."

    With a gesture he dismisses me, and I leave the room. So...kill Aya tonight, find a new bedmate tomorrow. Life as usual.


    To be utterly truthful, Aya is beautiful. He has different types of beauty- like the graceful beauty of his movements, the aesthetic beauty of his body, the beauty of a willing Aya during sex, and the serene beauty of him sleeping. I am laying beside him, my elbow propped on the bed and my head tilted so that the side of my face is resting on my palm. Tonight was like last night, with no fight on Aya's part. I suppose he came to fully accept this night life we have, though sometimes I wonder what he thinks during sex. I decided a while ago not to raid his mind during it, and he seems to have come to the same conclusion of keeping me out because he will completely focus on what we're doing and not let his mind stray towards personal thoughts.

    The strange thing about tonight was that when I came he was drinking coffee, and he had a second mug out for me. It had smelled good, so I had accepted it. I hadn't realized how much time we spent just sitting there drinking beside each other. What wasted time. When I'd realized that an hour had passed, I had set down my long-empty mug and turned towards him, ready to say something, but he had already anticipated what was coming and it was he that kissed me when I turned. He initiated tonight's round of sex.

    I shake my head, freeing myself from those thoughts. Tonight is Aya's dying day. I wonder how he would react if he knew that. Would he be angry, or would he have expected it? I quickly cut off that train of thought for reasons I don't quite understand, turning to a safer -and more important- subject. How long will it take before I can find another bedmate as good as he?

    The moon is full outside, and bracketed by the window of his apartment. Moonlight streams in, dancing over our skin in an ethereal glow. I've waited long enough. I slide from the bed and begin to search for my clothes. At least I'm leaving on time this time. Last night I must have been really tired, because when I fell asleep beside Aya, neither of us woke until the sun came up. I still remember the surprise on his face when he woke and realized I was still with him. There had been no anger, and for some reason I raised a guard against his mind. I don't know why I had gotten such an uneasy feeling at the thought of reading what he was thinking at that moment. Ah well. It doesn't matter.

    When I am fully clothed I pull the gun out of my jacket pocket and saunter back towards the bed. I gaze down at his sleeping form and check the gun to make sure it's loaded. I checked before I left, but there's still the possibility that the bullets hopped out and walked away by themselves, I suppose. It's fully loaded. I prime it and lower it so that it rests against his head. As my finger slides onto the trigger, Aya rolls over.

    Instead of instinctively firing, I hop away from the bed as if I was scalded by boiling water. He's awake?!

    No. I give myself a shake and chastise myself mentally for reacting so. He is still asleep. I move back towards the bed and lightly touch the gun to his temple. My finger begins to squeeze the trigger and my eyes slowly drop to his face.

    "Schuldich..." he whispers in his sleep.

    I freeze solid. I can't make myself fire. Alarmed, my eyes jerk from his face to my hand. It is shaking. Damn it! Fire! Fire! Even as I try to mentally command myself to shoot my eyes again race to his face. Kill Aya? I-I can't! Why not? Why does the thought of shooting him make such a sick and ugly feeling twist in my chest? It *hurts*!

    I whirl away from him, hurrying towards the door as fast as I can. Besides the instinctive urge to get as far away from this home as possible, my thoughts running back and forth frantically in my head: Ican'tkillhimIcan'tkillhimwhycan'tIkillhim?! He is *Weiß*! He is my slut!

    Then I am outside, in the safety of the night. I slam the door to the apartment building closed behind me, leaning back against it and glaring up at the sky. My breathing sounds alien to me- it is harsh and irregular. The stars shine brightly against the black-blue sky, mocking me in their brightness. What the fuck is wrong with me? Why didn't I kill him? What stopped me from pulling that trigger? I have killed countless people, so why couldn't I shoot him?

    "You couldn't do it."

    I jump, startled, and immediately curse myself for reacting like that. I turn to see Crawford. He is polishing his glasses on his shirt, that faint smirk on his lips. His calm brown eyes bore into me so that it is almost painful to keep his gaze. I force myself not to look away, though. "I didn't get around to it," I lie flatly.

    "You're lying, Schuldich." He moves closer, his smirk solidifying ever so slightly. The look lurking in the back of his eyes is taunting me. Somewhere inside he is laughing at me, and I feel myself stiffen in response to the mockery. "You're lying to yourself and to me. I knew when I offered you this assignment that this was going to happen." Each of his words seems to be a blow to me. "You can't kill him. You could have done it if I'd ordered you to just a short while ago, but now you can't. You set out a nice neat net for Fujimiya to fall into, but snagged yourself in it worse than he did."

    A rush of hot anger swirls up me. "Do you find this funny?" I yell at him, jade eyes snapping. I slam my fists against the wall behind me.

    "Extremely," he answers smoothly.

    "Fuck you, Crawford," I snarl, shoving away from the door and moving past him. I am careful not to brush against him as I go. I don't want to touch him. I am so angry at him, at myself, and at Aya that I am either going to suffocate or kill someone. I stalk off through the night, teeth grinding.

    I've said before that Crawford has a sense of humor. This only confirms it.

    I hate that man! It is bad enough to find myself unable to kill Aya. Aya is an insignificant powerless man. Fuck him one day, leave him the next. Unimportant. And yet, I feel an echo of the earlier pain build in my chest. I raise a hand to the aching spot, pressing my fingers against the skin almost as if I expect to feel a wound there. No wound, just a rapid heartbeat. This isn't supposed to happen. I'm supposed to remain in control. Aya is supposed to be just a toy, one to play with and break on whim. He's supposed to be just sex, like I am to him. I can't allow myself to get dragged into this any further.

    This fling with Aya is going to stop.


    Aya is angry at me. I can see his anger snapping in his purple eyes, and I can hear the hurt and betrayal lacing his thoughts. He doesn't understand why I'm breaking off with him. Ch'. I meet his narrowed eyes, my own gaze hard and mocking, my pose lazy as I lean against the wall. It is nice, to see the way anger brings color to his deathly pale skin. I will not think about how tempting he looks, though. I am not going to give this man the only key to my destruction to exploit it as he pleases. If he finds out that I was unable to kill him, he will be the one to end this, and he will try to kill me with this unwanted weakness.

    "Why so disappointed, Aya-kun?" I drawl, turning away and lifting a hand in farewell. "Go find yourself a fucktoy if you decide you don't like sleeping alone."

    His hand closes on my upper arm, and I glance back at him to see him glaring at me, to see the hurt shown so plainly there on a face once so closed off and stony. Looks like my plan to break his mask worked, though right now I hate that I can see it. I didn't realize it was going to be this hard, or hurt this much, to say goodbye. "I don't have fucktoys, unlike you, Schuldich," he says flatly. "Do not say such things to me."

    "Fine, then. Recreational boytoy. Is that better?" I smirk at him. He lashes out, trying to hit me. I easily catch his wrist, turning to face him again and placing my mouth his ear. "I'm sure Kudou will be willing to pass some free time in your bed." Ouch. That mental imagery hurts.

    "I don't *want* Yohji," he snaps, trying to wrench away.

    "Then what do you want?" I ask him, raising an eyebrow at him, my smirk turning tolerant and amused.

    /You to stay and Aya-chan to wake up. Then the world will be perfect./ He probably doesn't even realize the thoughts flicker across his mind in answer to my question. I give no indication that I heard them, no indication that he used me and his sister in the same sentence. A strange chill rolls down my spine. He reaches up with his free hand, brushing his fingers against my skin. "I think I hate you for that, Schuldich," he tells me, voice quiet. "You can have anything you want, so you don't care about anything at all. I don't do things halfway, Schuldich. I knew what I was doing the day I followed you willingly." He is talking about the night of the mission. I can see it in his eyes. That night was the night that changed everything in our relationship.

    My face closes off. Nein...

    I can hear it in his thoughts, can hear how strongly he feels about me. Somehow, in these few weeks, he has come to feel about me the same way I recently discovered I feel about him.

    This isn't supposed to be happening. Panic swirls in my chest. I have to get out of here!

    "I'm flattered, Aya-kun," I tell him, ruffling his hair like one would muss a child's hair, releasing him. I turn and let myself out of his apartment. He does not try to stop me. I shield my mind against his thoughts. I don't want to hear them. I hurry down the stairs, each rapid step taking me farther from the small home I know just as well as the Schwarz headquarters, the bed where we have coupled many times, and him, the only one who has trapped me so tightly that with him is the only way to be free. Hm. The concept of imprisoned freedom...I hate it.

    I shove open the ground floor door and slam it behind me, harshly sucking in the fresh air of morning. I raise a hand to my hair, to brush it out of my face, and realize it is shaking. With detached fascination I hold it before my eyes, watching it.


    It's Nagi. I hadn't heard his thoughts over my own roiling mind. I look over at him, clamping a mask tightly over my face. He is quiet for several moments, watching me. "What do you want, bishounen?" I ask him, but I can't seem to make my tone as careless as I usually make it. It comes out harsh, irritated.

    "Crawford sent me to get you." He turns and starts away.

    "Always the messenger boy," I mutter, a weak attempt to get myself back together. I pause for a long moment against the building. I don't want to see Crawford again, not after the stupid stunt he pulled. But I turn my shoes towards Nagi and follow behind.

Part 7