Part Eleven

    Takatori’s playing golf in his office, using a nine-iron to send little golf balls around the room. He’s waiting on his son to show up; he summoned him here to explain this morning’s disaster at the hunting grounds. Crawford is standing beside Takatori’s desk and I’m perched on the windowsill. Takatori doesn’t like me at all- he doesn’t really see a use for me because I haven’t done any work for him yet, and I don’t have the greatest of appearances, apparently. But I was bored of wandering around his estate so I chose to tag along with Crawford and the Koala today. The outing wasn’t much more entertaining than sitting at home, but at least here I can talk to Crawford rather than just listen to Farfarello’s dark thoughts. Nagi’s off with Schreient again. Neu and Schoen are awake now but not allowed to leave their beds, and they aren’t particularly happy to see Nagi there. Tough shit for them.

    I let my legs dangle towards the ground, swinging them lazily and letting the heels bump the wall lightly. The small thumps are distracting Takatori from his game and thoroughly annoying him, but he hasn’t said anything yet. I’m watching him, waiting for the irritated order that’s sure to come. Crawford knows it’s annoying our boss, but he hasn’t told me to stop yet. He just waits in serene silence, letting me do what I like. The bumping helps keep me from thinking; the little jar of my shoes hitting the wall and my amusement over our boss help distract me from the chorus in the back of my thoughts. Crawford knows I haven’t been able to fix what I lost that night; I’ve spent some time every day scanning to find what I lost all over Tokyo. I’ve been able to locate a few voices, but not all of them. It irritates me that I can’t find them, especially that I can’t find whatever I lost to Ouka when I’ve got a tag on her.

    Across the city, she dreams of a florist with golden hair and blue eyes, and my lips pull into a wide smirk. I can’t wait to break the news to her, that she lusts after her own kin. My God, will that be fun. I know I really shouldn’t play with her, considering her relation to our client, but this is something I can’t just pass up. I should probably run it by Crawford though, and I’ll have to promise to clean up behind myself. Takatori would not be happy if his daughter came crying to him and pointed the finger at me. If Takatori’s angry, the Council will be angry. I can’t fix Takatori if he gets pissed at us… I’m pretty sure Hoffmann has a light monitor on him to make sure we keep him content and focused.

    That’s why Takatori doesn’t know what happened last night. The two kids made it out of the hunting grounds safely. Weiß came to the rescue, following Omi’s signal and attacking the grounds. They took out two of Takatori’s supporters in the process but didn’t manage to kill Hirofumi. Luckily for him, Omi was the one that found him. The eldest Takatori recognized his long lost ‘brother’ and identified him, telling the blonde assassin the truth- or rather, the truth as he believes it, that Omi is his brother Mamoru. Omi was quite shattered by the news and in his mental shock he let his brother get away, turning his weapon on his teammates and helping the man escape.

    Ouka doesn’t remember the incident, and if any of Weiß wonder about it they’ll attribute it to the sleeping drug Omi gave her. But Omi remembers it very well, and his revealed identity is shredding him from the inside out. I reach over to his mind, touching it to find out how he’s doing. He’s just been kicked out of Ran’s room. The redhead wants nothing to do with him. He hates everything Takatori, and right now that includes his youngest teammate. Oh, if only he knew who was really pulling the strings behind Weiß…He’d probably have an aneurysm.

    As entertaining as Omi’s predicament is, it’s something we’ll have to clean up. The thought annoys me and I let my shoes hit the wall with a particularly loud bang. That’s enough for Takatori, and he sends me a furious look over his shoulder. His face is red from the anger and irritation he’s been holding in the last few minutes, so it looks like a fat tomato is resting on his neck. He glowers at me, snapping, “That’s ENOUGH. Stop being such a nuisance!”

    I arch my eyebrows at him, leaning back against the window as my mouth pulls into a smirk. I wonder if anyone’s dared tell him that he’s ugly. I contemplate it and decide it wouldn’t be the best decision, no matter how tempting it is. “My deepest apologies,” I drawl, crossing my legs at the knees. Takatori glares at me for several more moments, irritated by my lack of respect and lack of fear for what he could do to me.

    What he could do to me? I want to laugh at the thought. You can’t do anything to me, Koala. You’re a fat slug, a normal human. I’m a rank eight telepath. Try anything and we’ll see what happens.

    Takatori turns his glare on Crawford next, as if telling him he should teach his subordinates the real meaning of respect. Crawford obediently shifts his gaze to me, but the stern set to his mouth doesn’t reach the coolness of his eyes. I don’t even attempt to look contrite, though I do lower my face. It’s necessary, because I’m biting my lip to keep from bursting into laughter. Considering Takatori’s black mood, the golf club would probably be sent out the window if I were to let loose.

    Takatori takes my bowed head as some sort of contrition and turns back to his game. I look back up at Crawford, grinning at him. His lips twitch faintly in response. I’m in a relatively good mood, despite the fact that Crawford wants me to clean up behind Weiß. We need them as a functioning group. Ran is our samurai, cutting away at the future to give us freedom, but in order for him to be useful he and his group have to be in working order. Right now they’re torn to bits, two stunned over the news of Omi’s family, Omi horrified at the news and distraught that Ran refuses to acknowledge him, and Ran hating everyone and everything. It’s my job to piece them back together, though how I’m going to do that, I haven’t decided yet.

    The simplest thing to do would be to fix the Mamoru revelation, to blot it from Weiß and to blur the memory in the Takatoris’ minds so that they don’t put two and two together and realize who they’re staring at. I don’t plan on doing that, though, because it’s just too much fun watching Omi despair. I’ll find some other way to unify the group, though, and maybe after that I’ll figure out how I’m supposed to fix my own group. It seems neither team of assassins is in the best of shape right now.

    There’s a beep from Takatori’s phone, and the speaker comes to life as his secretary announces that Hirofumi has arrived. Takatori’s hands clench on his golf club and he sends a dark look towards the door. “Send him in. You two,” and he looks back at Crawford and me, “wait outside.”

    A wall and door won’t keep the confrontation from reaching our ears, but I decline to tell him that. Takatori goes over to his desk, one fat finger poking a button as he barks “Send him in.” I slide off the windowsill, following Crawford towards the door. Hirofumi opens it before we can reach it and I offer him a wide smirk that he doesn’t appreciate. He sends me a look of thinly veiled disgust as he passes. I close the doors behind us and the secretary doesn’t look overly pleased at the company she now finds herself with. I wander over to her desk, playing with the little knickknacks that decorate the surface. She wants to protest that I’m playing with expensive things, but she doesn’t have the courage to speak up. There’s a priceless souvenir on the edge, a glass thing she got back before her husband died. He bought it for her on their honeymoon to Hawaii. I take care to ‘accidentally’ knock it off the desk, hard enough that it shatters on the ground.


    Green eyes flick towards her as her face goes white, her eyes staring at the spot where the trinket rested just a few moments ago. She slowly rises in her seat, looking over the edge to where the glass shards rest on the floor. Her knuckles are white as she holds onto the edge of her desk, her mind wailing and screaming at the same time. No sounds escape her, though; her lips are pulled too tightly to allow anything through. I abandon the mess, moving towards Crawford. I dismiss the secretary, turning my thoughts to the two inside instead and transferring their conversation to Crawford.

    Takatori’s rather pissed that Nakasawa and Kondo were killed, and he’s furious that his son doesn’t know who did it. But Hirofumi doesn’t care about them right now; his thoughts are on his ‘brother’. He apologizes for failing and Takatori just barely manages to keep from sending his golf club through the younger man’s face. He orders his son to find the assassins right away and get rid of them, and Hirofumi finally utters a small plea.

    “But Mamoru…”

    “Mamoru?” Takatori asks blankly.

    “Mamoru is alive.”

    Dead silence follows that announcement, and then something shatters. Takatori’s just burst the vase of flowers on his desk with his nine-iron. The secretary glances up at the noise where she is crouched beside her desk, but she dismisses it in favor of picking up the pieces of her precious souvenir. I send a sneer her direction but she misses it.

    “Never speak Mamoru’s name again.” It’s a clear threat, growled out in a deep voice.

    Hirofumi isn’t sure how to react to that. He was quite pleased to see his youngest sibling safe, if not at all happy about the manner of their reunion. He is silent for a long moment before finally offering a soft agreement, but his thoughts remain on Omi. With just a little work I can turn his relief and betrayal into something darker, and that will be enough to make him useful to me…A tad bit of work and things will fall into place, and an opportunity will show itself for us to cut him off.

    Estet won’t be alarmed by the death of Takatori’s supporters. This morning I took the names Crawford gave me and convinced the men that Takatori was the perfect person to support. One of them had also been running for the position of prime minister, but today he recognized that he didn’t have a strong enough base. At the 7th Jigen Party promotion party he’ll announce his decision to drop out of the running and support Takatori instead. The others will be sending donations and support within the next day or two, soon as they can round up what they have and need.

    Takatori sends Hirofumi away with an order not to show his face again until he’s made progress on the assassins that took out his supporters. The son declines to mention that Omi-Mamoru is one of them, instead leaving to think all this over on his own. He glances back at us as he passes and I offer him another smirk, brown and green locking together.

    You’re mine, and you don’t even know it yet.


    I’m waiting for Nagi when he shows up at eight that night. He lets himself in the front door of Takatori’s estates, heading towards the stairs and ignoring the servants that turn to look at him. They’ve seen a lot of him these past several days, watching as he comes and goes and wondering about what he could be doing. They aren’t sure how good of a bodyguard could be, but the cold look he turned on one of them that first day keeps them from saying anything. I’m resting against the railing when he comes in, gazing down to the first floor. He acknowledges me with a glance and the servants watch as he heads up towards me. I offer them a chilling smirk and they quickly go back to their work.

    My fingers wrap around the back of Nagi’s neck as he draws even with me. He narrows his eyes at me, disliking the grip, but I don’t let go. He says nothing when he sees the glint in my eyes, instead letting me lead him further down the hall. Crawford is tending to Farfarello- the fuck got free on our way back to the house. Crawford is not happy with him at all, but Farfarello could care less what we think. The good news is that he’s no longer cutting himself as deeply or badly; I wonder if my yelling at him the other day helped that at all. But he’s still cutting, which isn’t good news. I need to take him killing again. Maybe tonight.

    But first comes Nagi.

    The floor vanishes beneath us, abruptly replaced by the room I’ve created for us. I give Nagi a shove away from me, and he turns as he gets his balance back, fixing a cool look on me as he waits for me to explain myself. I shove my hands into the pockets of my green jackets, tilting my head back and eyeing him down the length of my nose.

    “I’m not the mind reader, Schuldich,” Nagi says curtly when I don’t say anything.

    “Do you remember why we assigned you to Tot?” I ask him, tilting my head forward to fix steady green eyes on his face. “We wanted you to talk to her to figure out what was wrong with her, to piece the jumbled fractures of her mind back together.”

    “I haven’t forgotten,” he says flatly, dismissing my words with a faint shake of his head. He’s irritated to be confronted about Schreient by me…He’s been rather moody towards us these past few days; it’s a result of spending too much time with Tot. It’s a result of growing feelings for that fluff that I can’t understand and I don’t like at all.

    “You aren’t being sent to the hospital to flirt with her,” I remind him. There’s no amusement in my words and none in my eyes; I’m disgusted that the orders have been twisted this way, that Crawford sending Nagi to meet with Tot has changed Nagi like this. It’d be one thing, I think, if it were someone halfway intelligent who didn’t happen to be on our hit list. It’s quite another for it to be a target _and_ Tot. Nagi glares at me, obviously thinking that it’s none of my business what he chooses to do with her. My hand snaps out, grabbing hold of his chin and pulling him forward. Our eyes are cold as they lock together. “Keep in mind that you’re playing around with the Council’s brainless pet,” I tell him. “If you don’t think Hoffmann’s keeping tabs on her then you’re in for a big surprise. We don’t want him to realize that you’re messing around with her.”

    “I’m not-” he starts to say hotly, but I interrupt him.

    “She’s going to die.” My words are flat and they’re enough to shut him up. “Schreient won’t be around forever. One day, they’ll die. Remember that you’re there to talk to her and nothing else, otherwise it’ll be a rude awakening the day we kill her.”

    Crawford told me that it would come down to Nagi deciding between Schwarz and Tot. He mentioned it when we first got back to the apartment and he realized Nagi was still gone. He sees this confrontation coming, though he doesn’t know when and he doesn’t know what will push Nagi to the point where he has to choose.

    It really, really pisses me off to think that Nagi would even think of putting Tot beside us to pick from. We’re Schwarz. We’ve been Schwarz for years, even if it’s been a bit odd and we’re only recently starting to realize that we’re more of a group than a team. It took Crawford falling to wake us up and pull us together, and even though it’s a bit strange and awkward to find ourselves looking out for each other, it’s happened. I may be uneasy about it from time to time and I may wonder at the changes between us, but I’ll accept it. And accepting this makes Crawford’s announcement harsh to swallow. Nagi can’t pick Tot over us; he doesn’t have the right to even consider doing so. He’s ours. He belongs to us.

    I don’t know what Crawford thinks on the matter, and I frankly don’t care. I just stared at him when he told me, and he left me there in the hall to find Farfarello.

    I hate all of us right now for ever starting to feel some sort of concern for each other, that such news could make me so angry.

    “Let go of me,” Nagi says in a low voice.

    My fingers clench on his chin; icy green eyes narrow as I glare down at him. “Make me,” I say.

    And he does.

    The bond shatters when I hit the wall behind me; Nagi and I are back in the hallway. The impact is violent enough that the wall shakes, and I can’t catch my balance enough to stay on my feet. I slide down the wall, one hand straying to the back of my head to make sure it’s not bleeding even as I fix a glare on Nagi. He gives me a cool look in return and turns on his heel to head to his room. Crawford has stepped out of Farfarello’s room and he fixes his patented smooth look on the boy. Nagi pauses for just a moment, searching Crawford’s face. When the Oracle says nothing, he vanishes down the hall to his bedroom. I push myself to my feet, doing a mental check to make sure I haven’t broken anything.

    Crawford closes Farfarello’s door and moves towards me, presumably heading to our bedroom. I rub at my head, offering my lover a dark scowl. “I hate teenagers,” I inform him. “One of these days, I’m going to beat him senseless.”

    Crawford’s eyes are edged with faint amusement as he passes me to enter the bedroom. “I’m sure you will.”

    I send my scowl at the doorway, though he cannot see the expression. How can he be so calm about this when he knows what’s happening to Nagi? I fold my arms over my chest, ignoring the way the movement hurts, and head to our small kitchen. I pour myself a cup of juice and glower at the counter, wondering why everything keeps tilting out of whack. Right when I start thinking we’ve figured things out and we’re doing all right, something else pops up. I guess sending Nagi to Tot to keep him out of the way wasn’t as smart as I thought it would be.

    Not that our decision to keep Farfarello bound has worked any better…

    I take the last swallow of my drink and set the cup on the counter. /I’m taking Farfarello out,/ I tell Crawford. I think we need to get out and kill something; it’d do wonders for the both of us. Crawford accepts my announcement with a distracted reply. I leave the kitchen and let myself into Farfarello’s room. He looks up at my entrance but isn’t overly interested in my presence until I start pulling at the buckles on his jacket. That gets his attention, since Crawford just put him back in his straitjacket, and a suddenly alert yellow eye searches my gaze. I pull him to his feet; he helps me get him there and I tug him closer to me, searching his gaze, shoving myself through his mind to find what’s there. Raw need- bitter thoughts and a desperate yearning. I lose myself in his mind, drinking in the chaos of his mind to cover the noise of my own.

    “What do you want to kill tonight?” I ask him. I can feel his breath on my face as I roughly pull the last buckle free, and he lifts his arms so I can pull the jacket off of him. I tangle my fingers in his hair in a cruel grip, pulling his head back. The noise isn’t quite enough and I force myself deeper. He lets me, because the weight of my mind pressing into him makes him forget about Hoffmann. Fiery gold, icy emerald. Need, despair, hatred…I’m angry and Farfarello’s angry, and we feed off each other’s tangled thoughts. “Children? Women? Men?”

    “All of them,” is the heated answer.

    “Good,” I breathe, releasing him. He follows me to the hall. Crawford is in the doorway to the bedroom, holding several of Farfarello’s knives. I take them from him, our eyes meeting for the barest of moments. His gaze is assessing and I decide that I don’t like him judging me at a time like this, when he doesn’t even care that Nagi’s growing closer to Tot than he should be. I turn back to Farfarello, extending the blades towards him. He takes them from me carefully despite the greed and hunger in his eyes, and I turn sharply on my heel and head down the hall. I’m only dimly aware that Nagi is at the other end of the hall, watching us.

    Quick steps take us down the stairs and the servants that are cleaning flee before us, scattering to either side. We don’t bother closing the door behind us, and Takatori’s staff waits until we’re a good distance away before they can scrounge up the courage to approach the door to close it. We don’t bother taking the car. We have too much pent up energy to bother with a vehicle. Long strides carry us away from the house. Farfarello is playing with his blades, fingers sliding over the sharp surface without being cut, spinning them to test the weight and get his wrists ready for a fight. The walk doesn’t help us burn off the energy; it just seems to make it grow.

    We stumble across the perfect targets when we finally come across a theater where a movie has just let out. Two parents, two children…The oldest child is just barely a teenager; the other is still in the single digits. The husband is older than his wife by about ten years; he has graying hair and she’s still a pretty young thing.


    We follow them until they’re away from the main part of the crowd, my gift sending them on an impromptu walk towards the waterfront. When they’re away from everyone else, we melt out of the shadows. My gift twists their faces, turning them into the Council. The adults are Hoffmann and Mosuli, and they are the first to die. I drink in their deaths, drink in Farfarello’s thoughts, as he tears through them. The children can’t run; they can only stand there and scream and watch as their parents explode in blood and shredded flesh. I’ve shut down their instincts, reaching through their minds to shut off the part of them that is screaming for them to flee.

    Farfarello takes his time with the husband, seeing blue eyes and enjoying the fear and pain glowing in them. His knife takes the man apart from the bottom up and we lose ourselves in the lovely illusion that we’ve got the Soul Shaker bleeding before us. And I can see Farfarello, can see through him. The guards around his mind drop and I bleed through him, seeing everything. I can see what the Council did to him, can see everything he is and used to be. I know more about him in these moments than I’ve ever known about him before, more than I know about my lover or Nagi, more than even Aine knows.

    It’s a dizzying and consuming rush of noise, four dying minds and one that is shattering even as it grows stronger. Farfarello kills the children last, choking the life from them with wet hands. His blade is too slick with blood to be much use on them; he worked it through their parents enough to take the edge off of it. Bones, organs, tissue…The two don’t look human anymore.

    When he is done, I stumble, off balance and drained from the experience. He turns back to me at the sound of my shoes scuffing against the ground to find me leaning forward, my hands holding onto my pants legs at the knees as I struggle for balance. The smell of blood and death is harsh on my tongue and I breathe it in deeply, allowing myself some satisfaction at their murders.

    Farfarello heads back towards me. My hair is in my face when I tilt my head up, but through my bangs I can see blood running down him like a river. My head is throbbing from the chaos of the massacre, my stomach twisting over what Farfarello’s mind showed me. He pauses in front of me, reaching out. Bloody fingers push my hair out of my face and I peer up at him from where I am bent over, meeting his gaze. I can feel warmth on my forehead now, where the blood smeared.

    And for the first time since Farfarello was returned to us, his thoughts are calm. We study each other for several moments, and finally he takes hold of my shirt and helps pull me upright. He tugs me a bit too quickly and I stumble. His hands steady me and I’m surprised that he’s touching me. He looks back at the piles of body pieces and torn carcasses behind us, where my gift still shows their faces to be the Council members.

    The satisfaction he feels over having torn them apart is dark and deep. He stares at them for a long moment before turning back to me, and finally holds out his hands in offering. He’s giving his blades back. I stare down at them for a moment, surprised, before lifting startled green eyes to his face. He waits in silence, and at last I reach out, taking the knives from him.

    The bodies are cast into the ocean, and Farfarello uses the salt water to wash the blood from him. We catch a taxi back, as he is suddenly as drained as I am. He rests his head against the window as the taxi takes us back to Takatori’s mansion, his fingers tracing the glass as he sinks deep into his own thoughts. I watch him for a long time, my fingers curled around his sticky weapons. The taxi driver isn’t paid but he doesn’t know the difference, and I call servants to get the door for us so we don’t have to bother. Crawford is at the top of the stairs when we come in. Farfarello moves past him without a look in his direction, heading to his room. I don’t know how long this calm spell will last, but I’m grateful for it.

    I don’t make it any further than Crawford; I let myself sag forward against him, the drying blades held between us. Any irritation I felt for my American lover earlier has melted away. I’m exhausted. I want to crawl into bed and sleep, and I don’t want to wake up until late tomorrow. I don’t want to dream, I just want to fade away for a few hours.

    After what he did to you, Farfarello…When it comes down to it, which one of us is going to give Hoffmann the final blow?


    Tomorrow’s the Jigen Party’s celebration. Takatori’s overseeing the preparations, so Crawford and I accompany him to the great hall we’ve rented for the event. Nagi has been restricted to Takatori’s estate-something I insisted Crawford do- and Farfarello is still in a content lull. That makes me happy, so I think I can actually enjoy the day. The place is crowded with all sorts of people as they attempt to fix things up. Takatori’s spending a lot of money on this promotional event of his. The people here are the best around, and there are a few reporters here as well to record what happens.

    Not everyone is here solely to help Takatori out, however…I am standing by the window when the white assassins show up. They were recommended to Takatori as the florists for the event, much to their delight. They think it’ll give them a clear shot at Hirofumi. Ran would prefer that Takatori Reiji were the target, but he’ll be satisfied if he gets to thin the bloodline even a bit.

    The littlest Weiß is off at school, pretending to be a good student. I watch from the third floor as the other three start unloading plants from the back of their car. The security guards check them with a list of people supposed to be here and allow them in. Crawford is off to one side and I reach out, giving his jacket a light tug to let him know our lovely friends have arrived. Takatori won’t notice if we aren’t in the main room the whole time, and he isn’t in any danger here.

    It’s the first time since Crawford saw Ran at human chess that Schwarz and Weiß will be in the same place again, and it’s the closest I’ll have been to them so far - physically, at least. One can’t get much closer than a telepath can, but I haven’t had the chance to see them face to face at such a short distance. We slip through the crowd of busy workers. Takatori is talking to the people who will be catering, arguing foods and prices. He doesn’t see us when we slip out of the room, and we head down the hall side by side. People make way for us, scooting out of our paths.

    We find a spot in the hall and wait, me leaning up against the wall and Crawford in front of me. /They’ll be after Hirofumi,/ I tell Crawford. /Tomorrow’s the best night to cut the strings loose if we can./

    ~Weiß still has to be put back together,~ is his answer.

    I nod, glancing down the hall when I see the elevator open. The three florist-assassins step through, looking around at the people they pass. The main security room is on this floor as well, and they eye the doorway with particular interest as they pass. The chief of security passes them, slipping inside to speak to the staff on duty, and our three odd companions begin setting their pots down. They exchange a few low words, talking about tomorrow and the chief. I feel a smirk pull at my mouth as I look back at Crawford. They’re so pathetic…I’m glad that I chose the side of the battlefield that doesn’t require me to have such a degrading alibi. I’d rather everyone think of me as a Talentless bodyguard instead of a telepathic assassin than have to pose as a florist.

    /We can fix that, too. All it takes is a couple pushes and we can have both at the same time./ I rotate my neck, feeling the vertebrae pop. Crawford flicks my hair out of my face when it falls in the way and I turn glowing green eyes on him. /They want Hirofumi, so we’ll give him Hirofumi…I think we can find a way to give everyone what they want…/

    I can hear the beginnings of a plan beginning to form and Crawford can see it in my eyes. “They’re going to be so much fun to play with…” I murmur, looking past him again. Two- Kudou and Hidaka- have spotted us, and they don’t like the sight of us at all. We stand out because we’re foreigners, though I can’t really say that their redhead doesn’t draw any attention to himself. The security head starts past them and Ran steps out, ready to nab him. Hidaka grabs him, stilling him in his tracks. They’re too far away for me to hear what they’re saying, but he’s warning Ran about us.

    Ran looks our direction, and he recognizes Crawford. The man’s back is to him, but he recognizes the suit and dark hair. Crawford’s rather tall, being an American, and Ran can place him simply because he loathes Crawford for keeping him from killing Takatori at human chess.

    Ran looks at me then, violet and green meeting across the hall, barely contained fire and crackling ice. I bare my teeth at him in a smirk and his teammates tug him backwards to hide him from view. Our samurai… How nice to see you so close for the first time.

    Crawford glances over his shoulder, but the three are already out of view. Their thoughts are a rushed and jumbled hum in my mind and I can only imagine the hushed and rapid conversation they must be having. They sound like a group of insects in the back of my thoughts. “Buzz, buzz, buzz,” I echo them, and my lover looks back at me. “Three noisy flies nosing around…”

    /They’re going to be so much fun to play with…/ I add. /They want Hirofumi’s life, we’ll give them Hirofumi’s life. It’s a pity that we have to leave them alive, because their deaths…Mmm…/

    “Leave them alone,” is Crawford’s response. “A fly’s life is short. They are destined to die.”

    “But the little one is mine,” I insist, letting my head fall backwards to rest against the wall. I study him from under hooded eyelids. Past him, Hidaka peers around the corner at us. I wonder if that’s his best attempt at being stealthy. He seems reassured that the two of us are holding some sort of conversation so starts towards the elevators. His teammates follow. Ran is the last to go, sending a bold look down the hall towards us. I let my eyes slide from Crawford to meet that challenging stare once more. “Think of it as a stress reliever, and through him I can make or break the Weiß team _and_ Hirofumi.”

    Takatori may be your Hoffmann, little red, but in the end, you’re more like Farfarello than you are me. The revenge that eats you is the fire that’s kept Farfarello going these last few years, and now my Irishman has just gotten a new person to hate. Fresh hatred and pain, need for a death. So if you’re like Farfarello and I give you Takatori on a silver platter, does that mean Hoffmann is mine?

    At length, Ran turns away and follows his teammates towards the elevator. I turn my eyes back on Crawford, who is still considering my words. I offer him a smirk as the elevator doors close. “What?” I taunt him. “Don’t you trust me?”

    “You least of all,” is his dry response.

    I laugh, leaning forward to kiss him. /Asshole./

Part 12
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