Yohji came to a stop in front of the head stones, gazing down at them in silence. There were four of them total, four fresh graves. Fujimiya Ran, Tsukiyono Omi, Hidaka Ken… and Kudou Yohji. He reached up with his hand to push his sunglasses into his hair, crouching down in front of them. Kritiker had buried them all two and a half weeks ago. Nagi had told Yohji that the fourth grave was Schwarz's doing. Supposedly Crawford had reported that Yohji had been killed in the fight, and with it, Weiss was officially dead. Yohji wasn't sure what proof Schwarz had had to offer, but he'd stood on a hill in the distance seventeen days ago and watched a joint funeral for the four of them. There had been so many people, and he supposed it was appropriate that it rained.
"Morning," he offered to his three teammates. He shifted the three bouquets in his hands and set them down, one at each head stone. The dirt had yet to sprout grass, and with winter coming, Yohji doubted the graves would be covered before the end of the year. It didn't matter much… There was a small mountain of cards and flowers and toys from the shop's surviving customers. Today was the first day that he'd been able to come in the morning. Usually he had to pass by late in the evening, when there was no one around to see him. "Pretty weather, isn't it? I love the fall."
It was hard, being dead. The cool weather made it easier, as it gave him an excuse to hide under hooded sweatshirts. He tied his hair back where it couldn't be seen and his sunglasses hid his eyes. After a public funeral, it would be strange to be caught out by someone he knew. It was still hard. He saw faces that he knew and he couldn't go to them. There was no one for him to talk to. He hadn't seen Schwarz in three weeks now, not since the morning after Meirth had been shipped off. They let him stay at their place for the day and a half it took for him to be gone, and then they gave him money from his account and he left.
He didn't know why they left him alive. He wasn't sure whether he should be grateful for it or not. He was a ghost, wandering the city. He had no team, no job. His friends were dead and he'd spent the last three weeks thinking about it, thinking about them and him and the past and the future, wondering where he was supposed to go from here. Sometimes he stayed inside for days. Other times he spent the entire day out shopping so he could talk to people. He talked to the cashiers, to a random person on the bus. He talked because he was alone, and it was eating him alive.
They were gone, and he was still here.
"Chocolate," came a voice behind him, and Yohji started, looking up. Schuldich was standing behind him, hands shoved in his pockets. He was wearing tight jeans and a large sweater, and his orange hair hung around his face. His blue eyes were on the mounds of presents that had been left for the dead florists, and then he arched an eyebrow down at Yohji. "I didn't realize ghosts liked chocolate."
"Schuldich…" The German took a step back and Yohji got to his feet, turning to face him. Farfarello was behind the telepath, lounging on the small stone wall that surrounded someone else's grave. It had been three weeks since he'd seen them, and he wondered why they chose to return now. "Been a while," he offered at last.
"Things have been busy." Schuldich gave a careless shrug. "There was a shitload of paperwork to be done over the Schatten ordeal, and then even more because Schwarz is pulling out of Japan. Rosenkreuz had to find a team to replace us, but I guess they don't mind. We'll be more useful somewhere else, anyway. We're off to Europe. Next job is in Spain, and we'll be working out of Madrid for a while."
"That's good," Yohji offered. He told himself perhaps he should be happy for them, that they were up and moving again. He should be happy that Schuldich was looking much better than he'd been three weeks ago. Instead he was thinking that these were the last people here in Japan that he really knew, that knew he was alive. Once they left he was going to have to pack up and leave Tokyo. He'd have to find another city to live in, and a new job. But what was there for him to do? "When are you leaving?"
Blue eyes studied Yohji's face. "That depends," he said. "We might hit another delay with paperwork."
"Oh?" Yohji asked.
Schuldich thought for a moment, as if figuring out how to word what he wanted to say. "I came here to bring you back with us," he said at last. "It's not like you've managed to make anything of yourself in three weeks, and Schwarz was intended to have five people anyway. You're not brainless and we know we can work with you. Rosenkreuz wouldn't care if we took on a Talentless, because you were included in the report back and they know you're competent."
Yohji just stared at him as if he'd grown a second head. "You're joking, right? Schwarz doesn't need a fifth person, most especially not me."
"You don't want the job, then?" Schuldich asked.
Yohji hesitated. "It's Schwarz," he said after a bit. "I can't do the sort of jobs you do. I have too much of a conscience."
Schuldich lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "Not everything we do is a slaughter of the innocents, Yohji. You can pick and choose the jobs you decide to take with us until we can convince you that morals are just an obstacle in the way of a lot of fun."
Yohji's lips twitched into a brief smile at the German's words, but it faded quickly as he studied Schuldich. "Why are you pressing it?" he wanted to know. "You came out here to find and talk to me about it. You're giving me a choice, but you're trying to convince me of it. Do you honestly care if I come back?"
Schuldich fell quiet, studying him. At last he offered up, "You like to talk. I like to talk. It works."
Yohji hesitated, turning the offer over in his head. It was a chance… A chance to leave this all behind, and to go with Schwarz. To travel the world. It was a job that was familiar to him, and people that he knew. It was a team that understood him and understood what he lost, and they would be willing to work around him. There was nothing to keep him here. He had nothing at all left in Tokyo, and he was quickly burning his money out on the place he'd rented. His teeth worried at his lower lip as he studied Schuldich, and the telepath waited patiently for an answer. Finally his eyes slid past Schuldich, to Farfarello. The Irishman returned his gaze and the two studied each other for a moment, judging each other.
"It would cause problems," he said.
Schuldich glanced from one to the other and reached up with one hand to rake his bangs out of his face. "Funny…" he murmured, and both of them looked towards him. He studied them each in turn, blue gaze lingering for a full minute before turning to the other. "It's the first time I've had a choice," he said. "The first time I can choose what I want and what I don't. But I don't want to. I don't want to choose."
Yohji frowned, not understanding, and he could see Farfarello tilt his head to one side in question. Schuldich sighed and shoved his hand back in his pocket. "I like it," he said. "Call me greedy. Call me selfish. I don't care. I like this. I like having two people who I know won't…" He trailed off, but Yohji could guess at the blanks. 'Use me. Hurt me.' Schuldich shrugged after a moment, just a slight move of his shoulders. "That's where I stand on it."
Yohji wasn't really sure what to make of that, and thought about it for a long time. Farfarello was studying Schuldich as the Irishman weighed his teammate's words as well. It was a chance to have a team again. A chance to be a part of a group again. And a chance… He remembered a kiss in the car, three weeks ago, as he realized that he was interested, that he wanted to be the one to protect Schuldich. He remembered sitting in the bar drinking and realizing that he wanted what Farfarello had- the right to be that one. And now he had the chance for it, but Schuldich didn't want to choose between them. He wanted both.
"How does that work?" he asked.
Schuldich shook his head. "I don't know."
Yohji thought about it a long time and looked back towards Farfarello. Farfarello had been there first, and he didn't know what the Irishman would think of this. He tilted his head to the teenager in a silent question and Farfarello just studied him in silence for a long moment before flicking his eyes back to Schuldich. He said nothing, so Yohji turned to Schuldich. "Well," he said. "I guess we'll figure it out along the way."
"Farfarello…?" Schuldich asked.
Farfarello lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "We'll figure it out," he echoed.
Schuldich laughed, pleased, and Farfarello pushed himself to his feet. Schuldich hooked a finger in the front pocket of his jeans and turned his attention back on Yohji. Yohji turned to study the three graves, covered in presents and flowers. His eyes traced over the names carved into the stone and he considered them for a minute longer. At last he offered his friends a quiet farewell, touching his fingers to his lips and turning away. Schuldich's other hand caught the pocket of his jeans so the German stood between them with a hand on each.
"Spain, hm?" Yohji asked.
"Spain." Schuldich offered him a grin and then started forward, tugging them along by his hold on their pants. "It's cold out here," he said. "Let's go home."
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