Part Three

      It was kind of disturbing just how close Schuldich's apartment was to the Koneko no Sumu Ie. Ken wondered what he'd been expecting, but this wasn't really it. He knew this neighborhood. He passed here on his morning runs. He knew the buildings, knew that coffee shop, had stopped by that convenience store a few times. This was all familiar, but now that Schuldich was in the picture, there was something a little strange and foreign about all of it. Schuldich lived here, lived right in the midst of all of these things Ken knew. Ken knew them in passing; Schuldich knew them because it was around his home. It was a little unnerving.

      Schuldich brought him up to the front door of a brick building and Ken hesitated on the front steps, staring off down the sidewalk. The German glanced back at the pause and Ken pointed off into the darkness. "The uh, the flower shop's just a ten minute's walk that way."

      "I hadn't noticed," was the drawl, and Ken didn't quite have the energy to scowl at him for that. He stepped up the stairs, following Schuldich through the door, and the telepath slipped a key card into the second set of doors. It slipped open and Ken waited by the elevator while Schuldich checked his mail box. For some reason the athlete found it amusing that he'd followed Schuldich back to his apartment and the first thing the foreigner did was check his mail. It kind of made this・more normal. Accepted. Not such a breach of trust on his part regarding Weiss. He was grateful, if entertained.

      Schuldich crumpled up the ads and chucked them towards a small trash can at corner of the elevator room. He didn't have to look that way to make it into the bin; it was done with the ease of someone who was used to getting a lot of junk mail. He stepped up alongside Ken and poked the button for the elevator, holding onto his salvageable mail. As they waited for it to come he gave a sigh and reached up, tugging his bandanna free from his head. His hair fell around his face and he scrubbed at his scalp with the side of his hand. Ken reached out and tugged idly on one of the locks, studying the dark color. Schuldich glanced his way with an arched brow.

      "It's still surprising," Ken admitted. "Are you ever going to dye it back?"

      The elevator showed up then and Schuldich stepped through the doors first, giving a shrug as he pressed the button for the eleventh floor. "At some point," he said. "Just haven't decided on a color yet."

      Ken thought that over. "Green?" he suggested.

      Schuldich flicked him a smirk. "Been there, done that."

      Ken stared. "Seriously? I was joking." Schuldich laughed and propped himself against the back of the elevator. Ken watched the numbers above the door as they approached Schuldich's floor. A thought occurred to him then and he glanced over at the telepath. "The rest of Schwarz- do they live here too?"

      "You kidding me?" Schuldich sent back. "Like hell. They're somewhere else." He gave a careless flick of his hand. "Weiss was stuck together because your people figured you four needed to be babysat. It's easier to monitor people when they're always together and they've got a little spy in the midst." Ken shook his head at Schuldich's description of Omi. "The rest of us don't need to be monitored."

      "You've got Farfarello in your ranks and you think you don't need to be monitored?" Ken wanted to know, eyeing Schuldich.

      The German laughed at that and didn't answer, and the elevator came to a stop at his floor. Ken was closer to the door so stepped out first, and trailed behind Schuldich down the hall. The same key that had let them inside got the door open, and Ken held the door as Schuldich kicked his shoes to one side and stepped up into the apartment. Ken followed after, pushing his shoes aside a little more neatly, and locked the door behind him. Schuldich wandered down the hall without waiting on him, heading straight for the bedroom. Ken hesitated for just a moment before following, and the German had already chucked his key and mail to one side and was standing over his phone when the younger man entered. Ken took the chance to study the room while Schuldich checked his messages.

      The layout of the place was different from his own apartment, but it was around the same size. A desk was against the wall at the foot of the bed with a laptop computer and a stereo on its surface. There were little rings from coffee mugs off to the side of the mouse, and a few post it notes stuck to the wall above the computer. The laundry basket was in the corner close to the balcony door. The door was closed to keep out the muggy weather but the curtain was pulled aside, supposedly to let sunlight in during the daylight hours. The air conditioner was on, keeping the room a nice temperature. In the other corner was a book shelf with a TV and DVD player stacked on top of each other. Against the other wall was the dresser Schuldich was standing by, and it was littered with various little pieces of clothing and knickknacks. Ken found it amusing that the coffee maker was on the dresser, just two steps away from the bed. The place wasn't messy, but not tidy either, and a glance back down the hall showed dishes in the little walk-by kitchenette's sink.

      The first message had been some stuffy sounding man talking about dates and places; Ken hadn't really been listening to it in his study of the room, but he'd caught that much at least. The second message was a familiar voice, but the language it was in wasn't Japanese. That was enough to catch Ken's interest and he moved up alongside Schuldich to stare down at the answering machine with interest. He glanced up at Schuldich's smooth expression and hooded blue eyes before looking down again, and wondered what was being said. The speaker sounded a little impatient as he rattled on about whatever, and when it was over, Schuldich deleted both messages.

      "That was Nagi?" Ken asked.

      "That was Nagi," Schuldich confirmed. He tossed his bandanna onto the dresser haphazardly and turned to Ken. "It was German," he said, before Ken could ask. "Rosenkreuz is Austria-based, which is why he knows it. Any more questions, o nosey one?"

      "It's really hypocritical of you to call anyone nosey," Ken protested.

      "You're also noisy," Schuldich commented mildly, catching Ken's belt loop and tugging at it. Ken followed the pull to face the German and stared up at the taller man. He squished his first response to those words, swallowing them as he considered the man in front of him.

      Are we really going to do this? he wondered, feeling just another press of anxiety before he smashed it away and shoved it deep. There was something almost undeniably exciting about this, the fact that he was about to have sex with someone he was supposed to be killing. Sleeping with the enemy does have its attractions, he mused. Everyone longs to do what they're not supposed to do; people dream about living on the wild side・Temptation is the greatest thing to resist, and sometimes・we don't have to resist it.

      "Only if you want me to be," was his cheeky response at last.

      That earned him a lazy smirk.


      Ken was woken up way before he wanted to be when the phone started ringing. It startled him awake instantly and in the thrash he hit another swearing body. It took him a moment to figure out what was going on- just a second to register that he wasn't in his apartment, that he wasn't alone, and that the other person was Schuldich- and then he remembered. Schuldich shoved out of bed and stumbled over to the phone, snatching up the receiver and snarling something into it Ken couldn't understand. His first thought was that it was because the telepath had just been woken up; the next thing to come out of his mouth confirmed that it was a different language.

      He pushed himself up carefully, yawning loudly and rubbing at his hair. The clock on the dresser announced it to be half past four- the two had only been asleep for three hours. He yawned again, eyes on Schuldich's bare back as the German argued with whoever had called him, wondering if he could just lay back down and go back to sleep. He tugged idly at the covers, pulling them back around him where Schuldich's quick exit had knocked them askew. He wondered who could be calling at this hour and what they could possibly want; Schuldich sure didn't sound pleased by the call, and Ken didn't know if all of the irritation had to do with the time.

      After about ten minutes he finally hung up, slamming the phone down onto its base. He reached out and flicked the kitchen light on, and Ken squinted against the sudden glow. He had just a moment to admire Schuldich's bare skin before the German grabbed a discarded pair of cotton pants and yanked them on.

      "Who was it?" Ken wanted to know.

      Schuldich glanced back at him, as if just remembering he was there, and then started digging around in the drawer of his dresser. "Work," was his short answer as he pulled a pack of cigarettes and lighter free. They were set aside as he got the coffee pot going, and then he snatched the items back up and started towards his balcony without another look back. Ken watched as he popped open the lock and stepped outside, and then the curtains swung back into place and hid him from view. Ken looked slowly from the door back to the phone, wondering what happened now.

      Well, that part's obvious, he chided himself. He hadn't been planning on falling asleep earlier, but he had been very nicely worn out. The thought brought a satisfied grin to his lips for a moment before he yawned it away, and he pushed the covers aside to go hunting for his clothes. His pants were off to the side of the bed; the rest was in a messy pile at the end. He tugged everything on and looked from the phone to the coffee pot before starting towards the balcony door. One hand pulled the curtains to one side and he considered Schuldich where the German was smoking at the railing.

      "Coffee's done," he offered, and Schuldich stubbed his cigarette out and dropped it off the side of the balcony. Ken moved so he could enter again, and Ken started towards the front door. Schuldich followed him so he could get a mug from the kitchen. He plucked one off the shelf but followed Ken to the door, and Ken stepped into his shoes and unlocked the door before turning back to face Schuldich. The step up into the apartment made Schuldich much taller than him and Ken gazed up at his face for a few moments, wondering if he was supposed to say anything.

      "Get some sleep," he said at last, because it was the only thing that came to mind.

      Schuldich gave a quiet snort at that. "Already did," was his answer.

      Ken shrugged and pushed the door open, stepping out into the hall. As soon as the door was closed behind him, he heard the lock pop into place, and Ken eyed the door for a minute before starting for the elevator. It took just a minute to arrive and he rode it down to the first floor. He stuffed his hands into his pockets as he stepped out into a cool night, and he hummed to keep himself company as he started down the sidewalk in the direction of his own place. The flower shop was about ten minutes away and the apartments just a few minutes past that, and he was tired enough to be glad that they were so close. It was kind of strange, though, to think that Schuldich could live so close and have gone this long without them noticing. Orange haired men tended to stick out, not that he had that color anymore.

      He was back at his apartment before five and he flopped on his stomach in bed for a few minutes, enjoying the softness of his mattress as he considered the previous evening. It brought a lazy smile to his mouth. The night had been good. He'd wondered if in the aftermath he'd find himself biting his nails and worrying over what had just happened, but instead there was just the heavy sense of satisfaction. Pleasure was a lazy drug that lingered in his veins and he regretted nothing about the night. Schuldich was definitely talented. He idly wondered if he'd get the chance to do that again or if the telepath would wander off to new companions.

      Hot fingers, hotter mouth, bare skin sliding against his・

      He gave a contented sigh and pushed himself up, reaching out turn on the alarm on his clock. He set his cell phone to go off as well, as he was pretty sure he wouldn't want to wake up in two hours. He didn't bother to change into his pajamas and was asleep within a few minutes.


      The next day was busy, and Ken shoved away his fatigue and reminded himself to be grateful for the rush. If he'd had downtime, he'd want to sit, and he wasn't sure he wanted to attempt that today. Despite the ache, he had no real complaints, and the smile he turned on the girls was a little brighter than usual. Whether or not Aya noticed the good mood, Ken didn't know, but he caught looks of varying amusement and assessment from his other two teammates. He wondered if he could come up with a believable excuse if they wanted to know, because even if the 'what' was safe territory, the 'who' was definitely off limits. Ken rather liked his head as it was. He didn't think he had an overly attractive face, but he didn't think it was too terrible either, and it was sure as hell a lot prettier as it was than it would be if riddled with bullets.

      "Thanks for coming," he called after one pair of girls, following them to the door. "Come back soon!" They giggled and waved, calling cheerful farewells back, and Ken returned the waves before ducking back into the shop. "Whew!" he declared, grateful for the brief lull in customers. "You'd think we were having a sale or something today for all the business we've been doing."

      "I know why we're so popular," Yohji boasted.

      Omi rolled his eyes. "We know, we know, Yohji. They come for the flowers and stay for you."

      "Nahhh," Yohji corrected him lazily. "They stay for the flowers・They come for me."

      Ken was the first one to catch the reason for the emphasis. Omi was in the act of shrugging off Yohji's words when the second youngest of Weiss burst out laughing. "Yohji, you're terrible," he chided, and Omi looked from one to the other as he tried to figure out what was so wrong with the words. It took him just a second more to figure it out and his older teammates had the distinct pleasure of seeing his face color slightly.

      "Yohji!" Omi protested, clapping a hand over his face.

      Yohji laughed and pointed. "Look at you, kid! You're all red! Aya, look!" Omi threw a rag at him and the lanky playboy snagged it easily out of the air, one hand holding onto his side as he amused himself at his teammate's expense. Aya glanced back at his name but didn't look overly impressed by the perverted turn the conversation had taken. "Omi, you've got to get out more often. We have to get you a girl if you're still embarrassed by such things."

      "I'm doing just fine on my own, thank you very much," Omi said. He didn't mean anything by it, but his response sent Yohji off into another round of hooting. Omi hid his face in his hands again with a "Gah!" as Yohji and Ken snickered, and it was another minute before he could peek up over his fingertips to give them both the evil eye. "I'm working with a bunch of dirty old men," Omi lamented, looking to Aya for help. The redhead was a useless ally, standing with his back to the group. Ken wondered idly if he was looking away so they wouldn't see a telltale smile or so they couldn't see him rolling his eyes over their immaturity.

      "And since sex is such a grand conversation," Yohji continued easily, and Ken knew before the older man turned to him what he was going to say next. "Ken, you've got such a shit-eating grin on that I'm sure those girls thought they actually had a chance with you. Is this going to be a steady thing or should I make a move on that special someone to see if she's worth such a look?"

      Ken tried to imagine Yohji and Schuldich together, and it amused him just how easily he could picture it. "I don't know," he hmm-ed, offering Yohji a lazy little smile before turning away. He busied himself with his flowers, wondering if he was really going to say this next bit out loud. While his teammates knew about him, and Omi had made some careful comments in the past out of an attempt to show Ken that the three didn't judge him for his tastes, he'd never really shoved in their faces that he liked guys as much as girls. He turned away so he wouldn't have to see them, both for his own sake and for theirs, so they wouldn't have to worry about their unconscious reactions. "I don't think he's really your type."

      There was just a heartbeat of startled silence; Yohji was too quick on his feet and too good of friend to let the silence seem awkward. "Well then," he acceded. "Does he have a sister, then?"

      Ken just laughed, grateful for his teammate's easy understanding. Whatever the three honestly thought about their companion's preferences, they cared too much about him as a friend and their teammate to let it strain their relationships. "I'll ask if I ever have the chance," he said, though he knew it was a promise he wouldn't bother to keep.

      "Much obliged, much obliged," Yohji called back, and further conversation died as a bell jingled above the door. "Ah, if it isn't our favorite lady in all of Japan!" he said, and Ken looked up to see Manx had just stepped in.

      "Just Japan, Yohji?" she wanted to know, and the oldest Weiss gave her a wolfish grin. "I brought you boys a little something," she said, beckoning to the envelope she had tucked under her arm. "How busy is the shop?"

      "I can handle it," was Yohji's easy answer, and Omi and Ken exchanged knowing looks, amused by their teammate's quick choosing between pretty girls or work. Manx just shook her head and started for the back door, and the three men set aside their things and followed after. Yohji waved after them as they went, offering loud reassurances in their wake. "No worries, Uncle Yohji can keep this place in top shape while you're gone."

      Ken was the last downstairs and he shut the door behind them before following the rest to the TV area. Aya propped himself against the pole at the base of the staircase and Omi took one of the chairs, which gave Ken the whole couch to himself. Manx waited until he was seated before tearing open the envelope and sliding the tape into their VCR. One long finger poked the button for the TV and she moved back out of the way as the tape started.

      They were immediately treated to the silhouette of Persia sitting at his desk and greeted with the familiar "Weiss." Ken shifted in his chair slightly, only half paying attention to the first sentences. It still threw him every time to see this recording when they'd all seen Persia die. Ken had asked Omi if he was okay with a digital representation of his uncle and the boy had just shrugged it off and said that it was what Weiss was used to, and Ken had decided not to press it. There wasn't really Weiss without Persia; idly Ken wondered what they would have done if Kritiker had given them a different person to assign them missions. He tried to imagine Manx on their tapes and couldn't process it, and thoughts of a stranger were just strange. Weiss took their orders from Persia alone, so while it was a little spooky that Kritiker went this far, Ken supposed that it was the best thing for the four-man unit.

      "Your target is this man," Computer-Persia said as a picture flashed on the screen. "His name is Sasajima Kouhaku, and he is the CEO of the Kyokera Corporation. He has spent the last fifteen years smuggling funds out of the business to pour into a child pornography ring. Half of the missing children's reports for this past year are related to this side industry of his. He steals children from the streets and trains and uses them for a few months before their bodies are found in back allies."

      "Ah?" Omi breathed. "The Hobo Homicides?"

      "In the news these tragedies have been linked to the homeless men and women of the street in a string the press has termed the Hobo Homicides," Persia said next, confirming Omi's guess. "Kritiker has been working for months trying to find a way to convict this man."

      "Bastard," Ken muttered, feeling his stomach curl in revulsion.

      "Weiss," the television said again. "You must stop this man. Children are our futures; their dreams shape the world. Put this man away forever!"

      The screen went blank and there was silence in the room for a long minute before Manx moved to retrieve the tape. She set it on top of the television and turned to look at them. At their grim nods, she pulled files out of the same envelope she'd brought the cassette in and passed them out to the three. Yohji's was set on the cushion to Ken's side and Manx waited for a few minutes as they flipped through the information Kritiker had painstakingly gathered for them. At last Omi looked up and nodded, confident in his team's ability to get the job done.

      "We'll take care of it," he promised. "I'll have a report on your desk before noon tomorrow detailing what we've managed to find."

      "Good." She scooped up the tape and started for the door. "Get rid of him fast, Weiss. I want him off our streets."

      "Don't we all?" Ken agreed, wincing as he came across a photo of one of the girls. Heels clicked against the stairs as she left and Ken waited until the door had closed behind her before looking across the room, considering each of his teammates. "How do people live with themselves?" he wanted to know.

      "Society refused to believe that such monsters exist," Omi answered easily, skimming a sheet of paper. "They're so obsessed with the idea of harmony and perfect social graces, and the need to keep a good face. If they acknowledge that they've failed to keep their people in line, where will the country be? If the world could see through the picture we put on show then they'd know we're failures, so our government doesn't work as hard to put such people away."

      "That's where we come in," was Aya's quiet addition, and Ken nodded.

      "I want the kill," he said, and Omi glanced his way. Ken's face was tight; he could feel the nausea spreading through his chest to clench at his heart. "These kids, these girls- they're the same age as the kids I play soccer with. These girls are supposed to be outside laughing in parks or flying kites with their parents. They're not・quot; He couldn't finish it and he threw his folder down on top of Yohji's in disgust. "Not this."

      Omi gave him a slight nod of acknowledgment, voice quiet. "Of course, Ken," he said. "I'll work it that way." Ken could just nod back his gratitude, and Omi pushed himself up from his chair. "I'll get to work on this," he said, "if you three can manage the shop on your own." He looked towards Aya, and Aya moved forward to drop his folder on top of the growing stack beside Ken. At Aya's nod, Omi moved over to computer and pressed the power button on. Ken made himself stand and follow after Aya up the stairs, but his good mood was ruined. It was as if the previous night hadn't happened; it was miles away from his thoughts and in its place he could just see the body of that battered, broken child.

      Yohji knew from the forced edge to Ken's smile as they stepped back into the shop that this was going to be one of their more unpleasant missions. Green eyes studied their faces across the room even as he spoke to the girls in front of him, and although Ken could see in his gaze a small softening of understanding, his voice never wavered from its light, teasing tone. Ken made himself busy at his counter until he thought he could help again. Aya covered for him easily, moving forward to try and shoo some of the customers out.

      On other days, Yohji might have gone downstairs on his break to get a quick fill-in from Omi on what was going on. He knew better than to do that this time, however, and instead wandered out the back door to smoke in the alley. Yohji could act better than the rest of them, but there was no reason to have to act now. He could wait; there was no reason for him to spend the rest of the afternoon shift thinking about their mission. So it was that he waited until the shop was closed at last before wandering downstairs. Aya and Ken let him leave, tidying the shop up in his absence. When they were finished they joined their teammates, hoping Omi had made some progress.

      The youth had good news to greet them with. "Kritiker's been trying to get this man for a while," he said, turning in his chair to face his teammates. "They've been gathering all sorts of information for us that'll make the job easier. We should be able to do it tomorrow."

      "Good," Yohji said, lighting a cigarette and nibbling idly on the end of it. "Put it together for us, Omi. You name a time and place and we'll be there, ready for some action."

      "Definitely," Ken said, clenching his fist as if releasing the blades of his bugnuks. "Let's get this asshole before he gets anyone else."

      "A collapse of Sasajima isn't enough," Omi said. "Kritiker will have to take care of the rest, but they'll need our help. We have enough evidence that we know it's him, but we have to get that evidence to the police. He's bound to have corrupted some of them into looking away. We have to find the right places to push to topple this empire of his or we're not going to solve anything. Someone else will just pick up the business in his absence."

      Yohji gave a quiet snort at that. "We're not going to solve anything because if you wipe out one porn industry, the customers will keep yelling and kicking until they get another. Killing one rat doesn't solve anything; it just makes room for another."

      Ken winced at the truth behind those words. Aya wasn't looking at Yohji, but Omi met his gaze steadily. He was the only one that could in the face of such a statement. "It doesn't matter," the youngest Weiss said. "We'll kill them, too, and the next overlord, and the next. And when Weiss dies and is buried, the group after us will keep on going. It's not whether or not we can destroy the industry entirely by killing one man- it's whether or not we can make them pay enough that after years and years they're going to give up. And they will," was his firm assurance. "If over the course of twenty years every man who works in child pornography dies a gruesome death and is strung up for the press to see, whether or not the press will be bold enough to acknowledge the corruption in society, someone somewhere is going to decide that he can get his money in other ways. Maybe it'll be drugs, maybe it'll be in money laundering, or counterfeit, or robbery- but one little girl is going to get on the train outside her school and get off the train into her mother's arm and be fine with it."

      They stared each other down for a long, tense minute, and this time it was Yohji to look away. He took a drag off his cigarette and tilted his head back to blow the smoke towards the ceiling, and Omi turned around to keep working.

      "You shouldn't smoke down here, Yohji," he said, holding an ash tray out without looking back.

      Yohji took the hint and stubbed it out.

      And thus the hierarchy of Weiss swayed, challenged, and then steadied itself, with Omi in charge once more.


      Once upon a time, death hadn't been so simple. Ken stayed crouched before Sasajima's chair as he considered this, teal eyes eyeing the blood that stained his bugnuks. It'd splattered everywhere- all over the desk, the chair, his clothes, the floor・What a mess.

      The thought made him snort and he rose at last, shaking his hand to dislodge the blood. Years ago, killing had still meant something. These days, the meaning had changed. Meanings had been lost to reason. He gave himself a logical reason to kill someone and he did. Kritiker gave them the 'why' and Omi supplied the 'how', and Weiss did what they were told. Over the years they'd even learned how to ask for kills if a mission hit them where it hurt, such as this mission tonight. How many times had they volunteered to be the one to strike the last blow? They understood each other too much to argue, even if they themselves felt driven to be the one, but what did it mean, that they could auction off lives so easily?

      He thought he should be bothered by it, but all the death brought was a sense of satisfaction.

      "Weiss's little Siberian is all grown up," a voice purred at his ear.

      Ken whirled around, lashing out, but Schuldich was too fast. The German was perched on the desk before Ken even made it around. There was the lingering afterimage of the German right behind Ken but it faded quickly, and Ken turned to face the telepath. He was greeted with a wide smirk and Schuldich crossed his legs at the knees, considering the man in front of him. "I swear, you people used to drive us so crazy listening to you run in so many circles," the telepath said. "I remember when it still used to give you guys the guilts from hell, though I suppose even that was a long ways from the beginning."

      "What are you doing here, Schuldich?" Ken wanted to know, giving his glove another shake. Schuldich neatly moved his legs to keep blood from splattering on his black pants. The other man looked really good, and Ken couldn't keep himself from taking a moment to admire the telepath. White jagged lines ran down a black jacket that was cut just like his green one had been, and a white headband held his hair out of his face. His hair was black now instead of brown, though it faded to blood red at the tips.

      "Working," was the easy answer. "Certainly didn't come here to see you."

      "What does Schwarz want Sasajima for?" Ken demanded.

      "If we wanted Sasajima, you wouldn't have been able to kill him," Schuldich pointed out easily. He leaned forward, pulling open one of the drawers. Ken tensed, wondering if he was going for a gun. Them sleeping together just a few nights ago meant nothing. They'd done that because they wanted to, but that and this were very separate things. Schuldich had made that clear and Ken understood it perfectly. He could stand here and face Schuldich and know that he'd slept with this man but could still kill him if he felt threatened, and there would be no regrets. "However," Schuldich said, ignoring Ken's thoughts. "Everyone knows that there's going to be no way you can get the charges to Sasajima to stick. Not without this, anyway." He straightened and held up a disk between two fingers, and Ken watched as he waved it side to side lazily.

      "Child pornography's not my thing," Schuldich said. "I don't see the attraction in screwing kids who are half your size, and they're girls, nonetheless. But my opinion doesn't matter here, and our client would not appreciate it if you managed to find out just how many higher-ups actually enjoyed Sasajima's little project. He has too much money invested in this."

      Ken made a grab for the disk and Schuldich rolled off the desk, laughing as he avoided Ken's grasp. "Tut tut. You have what you came for, I have what's mine. Go home and clap yourself on the back for a murder well done."

      "Schuldich-" Ken started, but the telepath was already gone. He swore in frustration and choked on the word when hands slid over his hips and buried themselves in the pockets of his pants. Schuldich pulled him backwards so that they were pressed against each other, with one of the German's shoes shoved between Ken's two.

      "Go home," Schuldich purred in his ear. "Celebrate tonight. And next Tuesday・Next Tuesday you're going to come to the Rock Rollers. I'm in the mood for American style pizza."

      Ken's breath hitched in his throat. His hands had moved to Schuldich's instinctively, ready to pull them free, but instead his hands curled around Schuldich's wrists. "Your job was to come and kill Sasajima. If you look hard enough you can stick the crimes to him. The disk was never yours to claim. Better luck next time. No more worries about that."

      "And Tuesday・" Ken heard himself asking.

      "Do you know where it is?" Schuldich asked. "There's a bus stop right across the street."

      "Fuck you," Ken muttered, annoyed by the taunt in those words.

      Schuldich's fingers flexed in his pockets. "Indeed," was the lazy answer, and then he pulled free. Ken turned around to face him, the disk half-forgotten. Instead he studied Schuldich's face and the invitation in those half-lidded blue eyes. He thought he should be surprised by the return invitation; he thought maybe he should be bothered by it. All he felt was the same sort of satisfaction he'd felt while crouched in front of Sasajima's chair. For whatever reasons, Schuldich wanted him back a second time, and Ken・Ken couldn't see any real reason to refuse.

      "Which bus route?"

Part 4
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