Part Eight: Screaming Angel

    Ran was the first to wake. He sat up in bed, wondering what had disturbed his rest. He glanced around the room. Crawford was sound asleep still, and so was Farfarello. Ran paused, eyes drifting over the Irishman. Farfarello was curled up in the center of his bed, his covers kicked aside, lying with his forehead touching his knees. He looked very small in the middle of the double bed, which looked big without Schuldich there.

    Where was Schuldich? Hadn't he come home yet?

    "What do you want, kitten?" a quiet nasal voice called.

    Ran slid from bed and padded into the living room. Schuldich was closing the hotel door, having just arrived from wherever he'd gone. "Do you have any clue what time it is?" Ran asked him, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb the others.

    "Do you?" the German tossed back.

    Ran glanced back at the clock by his bed. "It's five o'clock in the morning. Where have you been?"

    Schuldich smirked. "Nosy, aren't you?" he taunted, heading towards the couch. "Miss me, kitty cat?"

    Ran stepped forward, stopping Schuldich with a hand on his upper arm. "I worried," he admitted. "But I wasn't the one that missed you." His mind strayed towards the picture Farfarello had made, curled up as if trying to hide from the world, as if trying to find some warmth. How very vulnerable and small he'd appeared to be. Schuldich tensed under his hand, casting him a sideways glance. "Why don't you go to bed, Schuldich? Farfarello needs you."

    Schuldich shook Ran off. "Farfarello needs no one," the German scoffed. "Sure as hell doesn't need me."

    "Why do you say such things?" Ran asked him, grabbing hold of the German's sleeve again. He was rewarded with an annoyed look. "Why do you try to deny what the two of you have?" Once again Schuldich swat Ran's hand off. Ran stepped back, then raised his chin stubbornly. "It's more than lust, I know."

    "What do you know?" Schuldich asked, voice dripping with mockery. He tilted his head back, gazing down at Ran. "You don't even remember who the boy in the shop was." He smirked, reaching up with a hand to pat Ran's cheek. Ran turned his head away, irritated by the tone and gesture. "You don't remember how important he was to you." Schuldich laughed, a harsh sound. "Oh ho, you don't even want to know, do you? Too busy trailing behind Crawford..."

    Ran felt his cheeks heat up. How on earth would Schuldich know such things? The man hadn't been there when Ran had said...when he had...

    "You kissed him?" Schuldich cocked his head to one side, pleasantly surprised, it seemed. Ran shook his head quickly, retreating a step. How did Schuldich know these things?? Schuldich followed, reaching out to cup Ran's face in his hands. Ran grabbed Schuldich's wrists to yank the hands away, but something in Schuldich's eyes stopped him. "You're going to try and waste your time with him?"

    "It's not a waste," Ran started to say, but was interrupted.

    "He's useless, Ran. Hate to break it to you. He's unreachable. Sure sign of a relationship is if you can make a guy laugh. Have you ever seen Crawford laugh? Has he ever even _smiled_ at you? Nein. I don't think so. Crawford is no fun."

    "Don't say such things about him."


    Ran's first thought was that it was Crawford, woken up by their noise. The voice was wrong, though, and recognition flew through Ran's mind at the same time that Schuldich went incredibly stiff. ~Farfarello...~ Both men turned their heads to look, Schuldich's hands getting a painfully tight grip on Ran's face. Farfarello was standing in the doorway to the bedroom, dressed in his clothes because Schuldich had not been there to strip him to his boxers. Both hands hung by his side, empty. Ran gave an internal sigh of relief that there would be no more knife fights.

    Schuldich and Farfarello gazed at each other for several long moments. Farfarello's one-eyed stare then drifted to Ran. His lip curled faintly in a sneer. "You don't belong here, kitty cat...rebelling angel..." He flexed his fingers, curling them then extending them. "White never mingles with dark." He tilted his head slightly back. "Die. The death of a white, no matter how tainted, will hurt God. It will be a clear message to Him."

    "Farfarello." Schuldich's voice held a warning edge to it. "You can't touch him."

    "Not done playing yet?" Farfarello spat at him. "Just one more toy to play with until it snaps. Break it somewhere else." Schuldich's fingers curled so that his fingernails unconsciously dug into Ran's cheeks. He made no reply, however. In the silence, Ran noticed something was wrong with Schuldich. He couldn't place it, though. After a few moments, Farfarello spoke again. It was curious- he was speaking as if answering a question. "Never trust the word of a lying whore. Go back to your brothel."

    Again, silence. Ran identified what was off about Schuldich. A fine tremor was running through the German's frame- slight shakings of fury, hurt, and possibly disappointment. Schuldich had most likely been hoping Farfarello would have cooled down by the time he showed up. Wasn't it obvious to Farfarello that Schuldich meant the Irishman no harm? He pried Schuldich's hands from his face and turned to fully face Farfarello. He took several steps forward.

    "Farfarello, stop it," he said flatly, attempting a staredown with the younger man. It was hard to do. Ran was glad, in that moment, that Farfarello only had one eye. Considering the intensity of the gleam that shone from it, he was positive he would never be able to look the man in the face if he had both eyes. "You have no right to say such things."

    Farfarello's lips curved into a gruesome smile. "The angel will continue to harp on about the goodness of its God," he said, the words leaving his mouth softly so that they were just like breaths of air, his lips barely moving and giving the illusion that the words were just appearing from an unknown source. "Its preaching will go on until the day it is stoned to the ground. On that day it will crawl hand over hand in the dirt, spouting its nonsense still. But in the end," Farfarello started towards Ran with slow, gliding steps, "as it is set upon by the wolves and its wings are ripped from its back feather by feather, its screams will turn towards self and it will forget its God. In the moment it is going to die, do you know what runs through this angel's mind?" He whispered, face mere breaths from Ran's face.


    Farfarello reached up, running his fingers almost tenderly down the half-moon marks Schuldich had made. "In that moment," he said, turning his face so his mouth was by Ran's ears, staring steadfastly at Schuldich over Ran's shoulder, "it will wonder why it ever believed in its God after all."

    "Farfarello..." was all Ran could get out. He had goosebumps on his arms and he could feel the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. He shivered, turning his head to look towards Schuldich. The German had remained in his spot, and met Farfarello's eyes with an impassive expression on his face. Ran pulled away from Farfarello's grip. The man didn't notice. His entire being seemed to be focused on Schuldich, as if waiting for a response.

    ~They're fighting because of me...Because Farfarello thinks Schuldich is seeing _me_.~

    ~It's my fault...~

    Ran steeled himself, then reached out and grabbed Farfarello's upper arm. That golden eye swiveled back to him so quickly it was startling, narrowed in anger. Farfarello hissed. "Don't touch me!" he snarled, wrenching his arm away. Ran didn't care. He'd been aiming to get Farfarello's attention.

    "How dare you say such things to Schuldich."

    "Ran, butt out," Schuldich snapped from behind him. Obviously Schuldich felt this wasn't Ran's place to intervene. Ran didn't care.

    "Isn't it clear enough that he likes you?" Ran demanded, words spilling out of his mouth before he could stop them. "Why would he have anything to do with me? You said so yourself. I'm not one of you." He crossed his arms over his chest so tightly it was almost as if he was hugging himself. "And why would I want anything to do with him? He purposefully hurt me and someone who used to know me. He sleeps with and is infatuated with you. He's sarcastic and condescending and mocking. Besides-"

    Something must have stung inside Farfarello, because his eye sparked. It gave Ran some satisfaction- although Farfarello was at odds with Schuldich, he did not tolerate others speaking ill of the German. "Watch what you say," the Irishman threatened.

    "Besides..." Ran repeated, softer. "...I like Crawford." That was obviously not what Farfarello had been expecting, judging from the flicker of surprise that flitted across his face. Ran offered the Irishman a small smile. "Do you understand, now?"

    Farfarello's eye turned on Schuldich, his gaze a mixture between pensive and hesitant. Ran held his breath, waiting for Farfarello's decision. He wanted to look back and see Schuldich's face, but he dared not move or do anything to distract Farfarello.

    Farfarello drew in his breath slowly, then pointed a glare at Ran. "Schuldich."


    Farfarello turned away and padded into the bedroom. After a few moments, Schuldich followed. Ran stepped forward to peek into the bedroom. Farfarello had crawled back into bed. Schuldich was standing by the foot of the bed, watching his lover. Farfarello slapped the bed with an impatient hand. Schuldich slipped onto the mattress. As soon as he was on, Farfarello tugged them both down against the sheets so that they lay facing each other. Farfarello raised a hand, a bit hesitantly, and touched Schuldich's face, his forefinger trailing along the German's cheekbone.

    "Mine," the Irishman muttered.

    "Ja," came the quiet response.

    Ran realized he was smiling. He leaned against the doorframe, his eyes on the two as they drifted to sleep together. Their breathing grew even and soft, and he let out a happy sigh. He'd been afraid for a while that Farfarello wouldn't listen to reason, and it would have been terrible if he hadn't dropped his charges against Schuldich. He knew that things would probably be a bit awkward between the two for a while after that fight- especially after the things Farfarello had said about Schuldich. Ran hadn't realized Farfarello was that possessive of his lover. He didn't look to be the possessive type...Ran shook his head. The important thing was that they were back together.

    Ran turned his gaze on Crawford. ~Now if only I could have such luck with him...~

    He shrugged to himself and headed back to bed to catch another hour or two of sleep. As he crawled onto his half of the bed- he was very careful to stay on his edge of the bed- a voice spoke up.


    Ran jumped backwards, startled, and ended up on the floor. There was the sound of a quiet, amused snort. Ran peeked onto the bed. Crawford was awake. They left the bathroom light on and the door cracked in case anyone woke up in the middle of the night, and Ran could see the light reflecting off Crawford's eyes. "Don't _do_ that!" he hissed at the man. "You almost gave me a heart attack." He sniffed and crawled back onto the bed. "What are you doing awake?"

    "I knew that Schuldich and Farfarello would confront each other again."

    "I could have used your help out there, you know," Ran huffed, tugging back the comforters.

    "You handled it well enough on your own, like I knew you would."

    "Oh, so you know everything?"

    The expression that curved Crawford's lips was something not quite a smirk but not a smile. "I know enough," the older man said.

    Ran gazed at him. "Hai, I suppose you do." He flopped onto his back, tucking his ams under his head and gazing over at Crawford.

    "This does mean, of course, that we will have to make ourselves scarce today," Crawford informed him.


    Crawford reached up with a hand, lighting rubbing the bridge of his nose. "When Schuldich has had more rest, they will use his energy for other things." Ran blinked, digesting this. It hit him, what Crawford was implying, and he felt a blush explode on his cheeks. "I need to go different places today, anyway. You can either tag along or go where you wish."

    "What places are you going to?" Ran wanted to know.

    Crawford didn't answer the question. "We have yet to figure out who was behind the explosion at Yokama." Crawford paused. "This is usually where Nagi comes in. He keeps tabs on who goes where while I focus on missions. The only other person who would know everything like that is..." and Crawford met Ran's eyes steadily. Ran gazed back, waiting. "...Omi."

    Ran blinked. "Who's that?"

    Crawford did not answer for a long time, lost in his own thoughts, his expression unreadable but his eyes calculating. "He holds a job like Nagi's. We will look for him today."

    Ran was still a bit confused. "...All right."

    "Go to sleep." Crawford slid from the bed.

    Ran pushed himself up on his elbow. "Where are you going?"

    "To think."

    Ran watched him go, then sighed and laid back down. His eyes fell on Schuldich and he remembered the man's words. ~~Sure sign of a relationship is if you can make a guy laugh. Have you ever seen Crawford laugh? Has he ever even _smiled_ at you?~~

    He brought to mind Crawford's expression from just a few moments ago, that half-smirk half-smile. Ran drew in a deep breath. ~Close enough, isn't it?~ he asked himself. He curled up, tucking the sheets around him. ~Today...Today I will make him smile!~

Part 9