Part Five

      Ken sighed as he relaxed against the couch cushions in the Koneko no Sumu Ie. Yohji had gone to meet him at the hospital and had stayed with him for the two hours it had taken before the hospital staff would release him. Omi had had to stay behind to keep up radio contact with Aya, who had taken Ken's part of the mission run, and Yohji had brought Ken back there where Weiss's youngest could check on him. They turned off the lights to help his headache and Omi unglued himself from his computer chair to come inspect the bandages.

      "Crossed paths with Farfarello," Ken said with a sigh, reaching up to carefully press his fingers to his forehead. "He couldn't resist a fight."

      "Better to see Schwarz out and about than Schwarz on a mission," Yohji said with a shrug.

      "At least on a mission Ken would have had his weapons on him," Omi returned, leaning over to check Ken's eyes.

      Yohji decided not to get into an argument over it and went to inspect the computer screen instead. Ken chose not to take either side; he'd already dealt with Yohji's wave of concern and outrage over the attack when the older man showed up at the hospital. Yohji had recovered with the reassurance that Ken was going to be perfectly fine after a little more rest, so he was content to let Omi take a turn with the fussing while he played the laidback teammate who had not a care in the world. Ken was used to the game now and laid quietly as Omi inspected him.

      "Where were you?" Omi wanted to know.

      "I'm not sure," Ken answered honestly. "I hadn't been paying attention to where I was running. It was a quieter part of the city- I couldn't see any train stations or convenience stores around, and no one was in sight until one girl started screaming."

      Omi considered that with a frown on his face, straightening and folding his arms over his chest. "Did you provoke him?" he asked. "It doesn't seem Schwarz's style to attack in broad daylight when it could get them in trouble with the law. They're more the subversive type."

      "He saw me before I saw him," Ken said. "I was just trying to answer my phone and he came out of nowhere."

      There was the creak of a door from the top of the stairs. Ken barely heard it over the sound of his own voice but Omi glanced that way, and Ken saw the boy tense. Yohji, standing by the desk, completely forgot about the cigarette he'd been trying to light and stared upwards. Ken was about to risk unsettling his stomach by moving so he could see what they were looking at when there was the rapping of shoes against the metal, grated stairs.

      "Word on the street is that you got your ass kicked, Hidaka," the new arrival said, and Ken felt his stomach twist itself into a knot at the German's familiar voice.

      "Am I hearing things?" Yohji wanted to know. "He sounds like Schuldich, but he sure as hell doesn't look like Schuldich."

      The German appeared behind the couch, propping his hands on the back cushion to look down at Ken. Omi leaned forward over him, reaching out to grip the cushion near Schuldich's hands. His arms formed a neat barricade between the German and his teammate, and Ken thought it a rather bold move of him when his weapons were across the shop.

      "You're not welcome here," Omi said, and there was a warning in his tone.

      "You sure about that?" Schuldich wanted to know, reaching up to tug at his hat. It was tilted across his face so that it covered one eye, dipping down over his cheek. His remaining blue eye was amused as he considered the short man across from him.

      Schuldich, what the fuck do you think you're doing here? Ken sent at him.

      Amusing myself, was the easy response.

      Amusing yourself? My teammates are going to kill me if they find out that I slept with you.

      Sounds like you've got a problem, then. Schuldich flicked him an amused look; Ken sent him a dirty one back and the German turned back to Omi. "Hey, stop looking so skittish. You'd think I'd come here to fight or something. And you can stop sneaking towards your watch, Kudou. There's no reason to waste energy on being stealthy when I can hear your thoughts."

      "Get out of here, Schwarz," Yohji sent him.

      "I'm comfortable," Schuldich said, reaching out to poke Omi in the chest. Omi swat the hand away; there was the sharp crack of flesh on flesh. "So you're in charge around here, aren't you? Then you're the one I should be talking to, I suppose. Don't look at me like that. I came alone, and it's your own fault the locks are so easy to pick on your shop."

      "What do you want?" Omi demanded.

      Schuldich, I'm going to kill you if you don't get out of here.

      You have to get up off that couch first, Schuldich pointed out helpfully.

      "Here," the telepath said, pulling out his gun and offering it to Omi. "Will you stop giving me such a dirty look if I give you this?"

      "And what use do I have for it?" Omi wanted to know, arching an eyebrow at him. "When's the last time you used that weapon to actually kill someone? It's safer on you than it is in my hands."

      Schuldich's smirk was slow. "Touché," he drawled, sounding amused. "Last time would be about four years ago when I graduated from Rosenkreuz's training. But it's a rather pretty gun and it has some memories attached to it, so I hang onto it nonetheless. But take the gun. You don't want to hold it because you know you'll regret not being able to use it on me. It's more fun when you can play with people who want to kill you. Adds a whole new thrill to the game." He let go of the gun, letting it fall heavily to Ken's abdomen.

      Omi stared at him for a long moment as if judging his sincerity, then picked the weapon up and tossed it carelessly over his shoulder.

      "Bold of you," Schuldich mused. "Weaponless and giftless, yet you face me over your fallen comrade. One wonders what it must be like to be willing to die for another. Rather, one wonders what it would be like to have others willing to die for him." He arched an eyebrow down at Ken. "How are you feeling down there under the wealth of such pathetic human emotion?"

      "Schuldich, fuck off and die," Ken bit out.

      The telepath grinned. "Not just yet," he said. "Not just yet."

      Schuldich, don't you dare.

      Oh, just sit back and relax for a bit, and enjoy the show.

      What show? Them killing us? I like my head where it is, you masochistic freak.

      "What do you want?" Omi demanded. "Why did you come here?"

      Schuldich gave him an innocent look. "Just came to check on your teammate here, of course. Farfarello came home looking like the cat that caught the canary and I figured I should come see how many pieces he was in."

      "That's believable," Yohji said with a snort. "What do you care?"

      Schuldich looked down at Ken. "Do you hear that?" he said. "Can you believe he's saying such things? Defend me."

      "Not on your life," Ken sent back.

      "I take very good care of my possessions," Schuldich assured Weiss. "First and foremost my lovers, because you can't really pick up a new person if they hear the last one died on you."

      Silence followed that for an endless minute. Schuldich didn't seem at all bothered by it and lowered himself to a half-crouch behind the couch, folding his arms on the back of it to make a pillow for his chin. Ken could just stare up at the ceiling above him in an attempt not to look at either of his teammates. The silence was a dangerous sort of silence and it was the first time in a long time that he'd been the cause of it. He idly wondered just how much longer he had to live.

      Omi was the first to recover. Either that, or Yohji knew better than to be the first to speak. "Get out," the Bombay said.

      "Why should I?" Schuldich wanted to know.

      "Get out," Omi said again, "or give me a reason to let you stay."

      "A reason?" Schuldich asked, and he reached up to push his hat out of his face. Ken glanced his way at the movement and he couldn't stop a gasp when he saw the hidden eye was bruised.

      "Crawford?" Ken asked, trying to push himself upright on the couch. He didn't get very far before his headache started throbbing again and he had to hold onto the cushions to stay upright. Omi's hands on his shoulders helped keep him from falling but it was Schuldich's hand he caught at when the German poked at his face.

      "Not yet," was Schuldich's amused response, wiggling the finger Ken was holding onto. "I told you Farfarello was still pissed when he left last night. We had ourselves a long talk as soon as Crawford left at noon. He's gone for a few days to work with Kishimoto and get a few details hammered out, so Farfarello figures it has a while to heal. I must say that you're a more impressive sight."

      "He's telling the truth," Yohji said, sounding a little startled and quite a bit unnerved.

      Ken realized then that his reaction to Schuldich only confirmed what could have been a ludicrous story on Schuldich's part. He let go of Schuldich's hand, scowling at the wide smirk on the German's face and the mockery in his eyes. "You deserved it," he decided. "You're an asshole."

      "I told you that it's not my job to watch after your ass," Schuldich reminded him.

      "Who said I would want you to?" Ken asked. "I can take care of myself just fine."

      "You sure look like you can, too."

      "Shut up," Omi ordered flatly, a heartbeat before Ken could say the same words. "What do you want here, Schuldich?"

      Schuldich pushed himself back up and gave a lazy shrug. "I figured since Schwarz knew and was giving me trouble, there's no reason not to make life hell for your precious teammate as well."

      "Tell me that he's kidding," Yohji said, taking a few steps away from the desk. "Ken?"

      "You can quiet all those frantic little worries that are ticking around in your brains," Schuldich said, tapping a finger to his temple. "This isn't for Schwarz; it's amusement for myself. I get a steady lay and I get the thrill of knowing that I'm fucking someone who would kill me if he had a chance. This doesn't change anything, after all. If you four get in Schwarz's way, I'll still kill any and all of you if Crawford tells me to. But until then, I like things as they are."

      "You don't exactly scream trustworthy," Yohji sent him, and Schuldich smirked and pulled his hat back down over his eye.

      "It's not my job to prove trustworthiness," Schuldich told him. "I certainly have no interest in it. I just came to make trouble, as usual, and let you three deal with the aftermath. Now, I'm getting back before I have to deal with more questions. I'll have my gun back, thanks."

      "Schuldich, if I ever see your face again, I'm going to kill you," Ken hissed at him.

      "That's the point, isn't it?" Schuldich wanted to know, quirking an eyebrow at him. He held his hand out in a demand for his weapon. Yohji didn't move to get it, but Omi didn't seem to think twice about handing the weapon back over. Schuldich tucked it back into his jacket and laced his fingers together behind his head, waggling an elbow at them in a farewell wave. "Your boy will be successful tonight," he said as he turned away and started for the stairs. Ken could see Yohji reaching for his watch, and Omi held an arm out to tell the man to be still. "Sasaki and Morimoto are both big donors for Sasajima's project. Morimoto's the bigger fish, though, and he's the reason Sasaki's involved. Have fun with them."

      With that, he let the door swing closed behind him. A few moments later they heard another distant bang as the outside door of the Koneko closed, and Schuldich was gone.

      Silence settled between the three for a long minute, and then Ken found himself the center of attention.


      "Yohji?" Omi said. "I want you to go upstairs now."

      Yohji glanced from Omi to Ken and then silently started for the stairs. He didn't stop to argue, but he did grab his cigarettes and lighter from the desk before leaving. Ken watched him head up the stairs and then the door swung shut behind him, and it was only Omi and himself in the basement.

      Double fuck.

      "How long?" Omi wanted to know.

      "You said he wasn't a threat," Ken said, and he found he couldn't quite meet his friend's eyes. "You said he was a pest."

      "How long?" Omi asked again.

      "…Since the day I got my bike back."

      Silence followed that. Omi moved over to his desk and Ken could breathe a little easier in his absence. The relief didn't last very long; Omi was only going to fetch his computer chair. He dragged it across the room and sat it down beside the couch, sitting on it and considering his older teammate in silence. Ken waited for him to speak, but Omi said nothing. At last Ken decided to elaborate. "The day I met him on the train, that I told you about? He said a few things then that made me think he was interested or could be interested, so the next time I saw him… Well…" He gave an awkward little shrug. "We went to dinner and then elsewhere."

      "How long have you known he's gay?" Omi asked.

      Ken paused, finding it to be an odd little question, and finally looked Omi's way. "How long have you?" he wanted to know. Omi didn't answer. "Look, Omi, I'm sorry. It was a bad judgment call on my part, but look at this." He gestured to the bruising on his face. "It's over. Schwarz isn't interested in the two of us hanging out together, so…"

      "It's not safe with him," Omi said. "I can't believe you even considered it in the first place."

      "He promised he'd give me a warning when Schwarz was ordered against us," Ken said, though it suddenly sounded really foolish. How could he convince Omi that it had been worth believing? "He said he wasn't going to kill anyone he didn't have to until then."

      "Why, Ken?" Omi demanded. "Tell me why."

      "Which answer do you want?" Ken asked, deciding honesty was the best way to try and keep himself from getting executed.

      "Both of them."

      "The first? Look at him." Ken gave a little wave of his hand. "He looks… different." Different was a good substitute for hot, he decided, and got the same point across. "Secondly, what he said. There is something exciting about sleeping with someone that would kill you if he had a chance."

      "Those are the reasons?" Omi asked, and Ken nodded. "Those are the only reasons?" Omi pressed, eyeing him, and Ken stared back, wondering a little at the younger man's insistence. He'd expected a blow up, a lecture, something. He'd expected threats of a call to Kritiker. He was Omi's friend but Omi was Kritiker's field leader. Finally something clicked.

      "Those are the only reasons," Ken said. "He didn't do anything to my mind to make me do it. You're the one that said he can't make people do anything against their will, remember? I'd have told you if he was messing with me."

      Omi sighed, waving a hand to dismiss that. "No," he said. "That's not it. I do remember that, and while I know you're reckless, I know you're too strong for him to mess with. If Weiss was easy to control he would have turned us upside down months ago for the fun of it."

      Ken quieted, watching Omi think. The youth's blue eyes were troubled as he thought and at last Omi sighed again, reaching up to rake his fingers through his hair. "The day you bumped into him at Tokyo Station," he said, "is the day he was leaving Kritiker's office."

      Ken stared at him. "What?"

      "I found out about it after you left my apartment that day. Birman found him the night before, passed out drunk outside of a bar, and instead of killing him, she sent him to a Kritiker-protected ward for the night. She figured we could question him and find out about Schwarz's current movements." Omi shrugged. "You can't keep a telepath captive, though, and we didn't really try. We didn't want to see what he would do if he felt threatened. He's the reason we're going after Sasajima's group right now. He's the one that gave Birman the missing pieces we needed to finally start moving against Sasajima and his clients."

      "He did what?" Ken asked, startled. "But Schwarz's client is tied up in Sasajima's ring. Schuldich said so."

      "When did he say that?" Omi wanted to know.

      "He was there when I killed Sasajima," Ken said, and hastened to reassure his teammate. "Just because I slept with him doesn't mean that I can't still kill him when the time comes. I won't forget who he is or the things he does. I won't hesitate. My loyalty is to you and Weiss first and always."

      Omi said nothing, seemingly content to study him in silence. At last he looked away. "Tell me that you're doing it of your own free will," he said.

      "I was doing it of my own free will," Ken answered. "But not anymore. Nagi and Farfarello both saw us together last night, and they're furious. There was the implication that Crawford will be even angrier if he finds out, so this thing is over."

      "If it's over, then why was Schuldich here today?" Omi wanted to know.

      "To cause trouble," Ken answered. "That's what he does. You said so yourself."

      "He said he'd pick his own reward," Omi mused. "He said he'd pick it later and that he didn't want Kritiker's money. I didn't think he would pick you." Omi's gaze was guarded when he turned back to Ken. "He's running a job for Kritiker, Ken," he said, so quietly that Ken almost couldn't hear it. "He's running a job for us. It's not safe anywhere near him, but if he loses interest, we lose everything."

      Ken blinked, trying to keep up. He had the feeling he'd gotten seriously lost somewhere along the way during this conversation. What was supposed to be an interrogation and a possible death sentence had turned completely around. Schuldich was working for Kritiker now? What the hell? When did that happen? Why was Ken just now finding this out? Why was Schuldich giving Kritiker information, anyway, when Schwarz was tied into the mix? There was the chance that Schwarz's contract with their client was going to be ending soon, but why would Schuldich sell the man out to Kritiker, of all people? And why Ken? Schuldich had waltzed in here to make trouble, but he'd left with more tips about Sasajima's ring, and now that Omi had revealed this last mind boggling little tidbit, Ken had the feeling Schuldich had come just to make it clear to Kritiker what he would be taking in exchange for the shared information. But that the prize for his help was Ken himself? That Ken didn't really believe.

      He felt a little dizzy trying to answer all of the questions that kept bouncing up. "So… You're not angry at me?" he tried at last.

      "Frustrated a little by your recklessness, maybe," Omi said. "Angry that Schuldich made a move on you. Worried about you getting caught up in the middle of this. Don't stay with him any longer than it's safe to, Ken. You duck out when you start losing control. Until then…" He winced, as if he really didn't want to be saying it, "it's not for me to step in the middle of. Weiss is your job, not your life. I can't make the decisions for it."

      Ken blinked. "Are you serious?" he asked.

      "If that's what you want," Omi answered.

      Ken hesitated, waiting for the catch, but Omi said nothing else. They eyed each other in silence for a few minutes and at least Ken sighed and looked away, reaching up to rub at his forehead. He decided not to argue anymore, though he was going to have a lot of thinking to do later as he tried to figure out everything that Omi did and didn't say. "Well, Farfarello made it clear that he wasn't going to let it go on any longer," he said, "so don't worry about it."

      "Mm," was all Omi said. "I will talk to Yohji. No one will be talking to Aya. We do not need him getting caught up in this." He pushed himself up and set his chair back at his desk, and Ken watched as he headed upstairs.

      See, that wasn't so bad, now was it? Schuldich's voice came back, and Ken realized the man must not have gone very far from the shop if he could still hear him.

      Did you know he was going to react that way? Ken demanded.

      I didn't know how much Kritiker had told him, was the careless response. It was a simple way to find out, though.

      Well, fuck you. You scared the shit out of me. He could have sent me straight to Kritiker to be executed for sleeping with you.

      But he didn't, Schuldich pointed out, ever so helpful.

      Ken was quiet for several moments. Did Farfarello really hit you? he wanted to know.

      Once or twice, was the breezy response. Rest up, Hidaka. Things are going to start getting fun around here.

      Schuldich, wait. I want some answers.

      How does it feel to want? Schuldich sounded amused, and his voice faded away as he moved out of range.

      Ken was left alone to his troubled thoughts. It was about ten more minutes before Omi came back downstairs and retreated to his computer, and Ken studied his back as he typed away at his keyboard. He wondered idly what Omi had had to say to Yohji about all of this; he highly doubted Omi had told the older man everything he'd told Ken. It made him wonder what he was supposed to tell Yohji if the man confronted him about it later. Yohji would, no doubt about it. Yohji didn't take reassurances from anyone except the one he wanted to talk to. He'd respect Omi's words without accepting them blindly, and Ken was sure to have a worried and disbelieving visitor later.

      At least Omi had said no one would be telling Aya. Ken could deal with Yohji's disbelief and possible disgust, but he couldn't deal with Aya's sword through his middle.

      He told himself to stop worrying, taking a few deep breaths to try and quiet his hurried thoughts. He didn't remember falling asleep, but the next time he was awake, Omi was dozing on the chair across from him and the glowing clock on the wall said it was half past three in the morning. Omi woke when Ken stirred and walked back to Prima Apartments with him. They had nothing more to say to each other about Schuldich's visit, but Omi updated him on Aya's mission success. Omi planned to work on the next target starting the following morning and Ken recognized the name as the other one Schuldich had dropped. He said nothing about it, however, and decided to just wait and watch and listen for the name "Kishimoto" to drop. Schuldich had said that was who Crawford was with tonight, so if that was their client…

      The day Weiss moved against Kishimoto, Schwarz and Weiss would clash, and Schuldich had already said that there would be no backing down from that conflict. This wouldn't be like Takatori, where Schwarz had walked away. This wouldn't be like Sasajima, where Schwarz had let him die. Schwarz would protect their target against all costs.

      Ken knew he would have to find Schuldich before anyone else that night. He was the one who had slept with Schuldich, after all. It seemed only proper that it was he and Schuldich that faced each other down to the death. A fitting end, then? Black and white and no room to mix… Someone had to die.

      The thoughts weren't reassuring, but he accepted them just the same. He was Weiss; he was Kritiker. Justice would be served at all costs.

      He bid Omi a quiet good night at the younger man's door and continued up another floor to his own apartment. He locked the door behind himself and stood in the shadows for several minutes before making his way to the bathroom. One hand flicked on the lights and he pulled his shirt over his head to inspect the bandages over his cuts and scrapes. Rolling across the sidewalk had left scratches all down one arm and he was dotted with bruises. He sighed, pressing his fist against the glass of his mirror.

      "One of these days, you'll be looking the wrong way," he muttered, a quiet promise to the absent Irishman. "And you're not going to know what hit you, you bastard."

      It made him feel better to say it, even if the prospect of ever one-upping the other man was laughable. He sighed and went into the bedroom, peeling off his pants, and climbed carefully into bed. As he was stretching out he hit something cold, and he lifted it up to eye it in the faint light from the bathroom. It took him just a moment to recognize the shape and he reached out, flicking on the lamp at his bedside. It was a small handgun. Weiss didn't carry guns, so where had it come from? He tilted it from side to side, frowning at it. There was a chance Kritiker had sent him the weapon for protection in the wake of Farfarello's attack, as it would be easier to carry around a gun than his bugnuks when he went out in public, but… He had used a gun maybe four times since he'd signed on with Weiss team, but this wasn't the type that they'd tested him on and written down in his file.

      At last he told himself not to worry about it and slipped it under his pillow. He'd ask Omi about it in the morning, maybe.

      These thoughts in mind, he set his alarm and fell asleep.


      Another day, another mission. Ken headed down the hall, two fingers pressed to his headsets, as he listened to his teammates clean out the rest of the building. He and Aya were on perimeter patrol while Yohji and Omi worked their way inwards. Yohji was to make the kill this time, but Weiss wanted to be in position before their target showed up. Morimoto had been delayed on his way over by some disagreements about a new contract, and Weiss had gone ahead and decimated most of what security he'd left behind. Omi had hacked into the GPS on Morimoto's limo and was keeping an eye on him, and the man was still twenty minutes out. Now there was nothing else to do except wait, and Ken hated waiting.

      He pushed open the nearest door, sweeping the room with a glance, as he searched for something to entertain himself with. He was starting to close it when a hand appeared beside his, pushing it back open, and Ken gave a startled jump, lurching around.

      Claws rake through cloth and flesh; Schuldich didn't move back quite fast enough. The man hissed, pressing a hand against the cuts along his side, and scowled at Ken. Watch where you're aiming, jackass.

      Who says my aim was off? Ken demanded. What do you want?

      What do you think I want?

      You tell me. I'm not the mind reader.

      "How's your area, Siberian?" Omi asked over the headsets.

      Ken eyed Schuldich for a long moment, wavering. "Clear," he said at last, and Schuldich smirked and slipped past him into the room. Ken looked around before offering up a mental curse and following the German inside. He reached up to flick off the microphone on his headsets, arching an eyebrow at Schuldich as the German turned around. "Blood looks good on you," he decided. "I guess you're not as fast as you thought you were."

      "Guess not," was the response, and Schuldich inspected the cuts. Ken flicked on a little desk lamp to get a closer look at them. They didn't seem to be very deep; indeed, the bleeding was stopping already.

      It had been almost two weeks since he'd last seen the German, two weeks in which he'd decided life had gone back to normal. He'd been watching for Farfarello for a week after the Irishman's attack, but as long as Schuldich stayed away, Farfarello seemed content to stay away, and Ken had eventually started leaving the gun at home. Now that Schuldich was suddenly back, Ken guessed he was going to have to start keeping an eye out again.

      "Are you crazy?" Ken wanted to know. "Or do you just like the thought of Farfarello hunting me down in the streets?"

      "Why would he go after you in broad daylight again?" Schuldich wanted to know. "He knows where you live now. He's been to the flower shop before, remember? He followed you home a few days after your little talk with him." The German shrugged as if this wasn't very important, and Ken gave him a flat look and opened the office door.

      "Get out," Ken said.

      "I'm comfortable."

      "Then I'm leaving. It was one thing to sleep with you when I thought you'd kill me in my sleep, but I don't need Farfarello hunting me down. There are safer people to screw." Ken turned to leave, but there was the soft tap of a shoe behind him and then Schuldich was there. The German pushed the door shut and pushed Ken up against it. Ken rammed an elbow back into his gashes and the German swore, grabbing a handful of his hair to pull him around. Omi's voice was saying something in his ear but Ken couldn't hear over the sounds of their struggle.

      They fought violently for several moments before Schuldich managed to get Ken flattened against the door, pinned in place between him and the wood. Two hands on his wrists were squeezing almost impossibly tight, keeping his arms above his head, and they took a few moments to catch their breaths. Omi had gone quiet and Ken idly hoped the younger man hadn't been talking to him.

      "Safer?" Schuldich asked, and there was scorn in his voice. "Who needs safe? If you wanted to be safe you wouldn't be here tonight, doing the things you do. How do you think you're going to walk away and find someone else? What does a skinny stick of a girl have to offer?"

      "What do you have to offer that I should actually pay attention to?" Ken shot back.

      "I am the dance with death," Schuldich answered easily, and Ken shut up. "You and I are in this dance together. This blood, this pain, this twisted little game we play night after night. You could walk away from Weiss if you tried hard enough but you don't want to, because you know there's nothing out there in the real world that can compare to the thrill of danger and the rush of adrenaline as you take someone else out for good. You can angst over it when you're feeling down and you can tell yourself you're the beacon of justice but there's more in it than that for you, and how much deeper can you go than what I have to give?"

      "Then why are you here?" Ken demanded, eyeing him. "What the hell do you expect to get from this game, except some sex and a pat on the back when you kill me in a few weeks?"

      "No one plays the game worried about how it's going to end," Schuldich informed him. "The game is no fun when it's over. It's only when you're setting the pieces in place and laboring over the perfect moves and perfect timing that you find any pleasure in it. Watching the perfect plans hold up or crumble makes it worth playing. The rest is just secondary."

      Ken said nothing and Schuldich offered him a slow smirk. "I'm risking a lot helping Kritiker out like this," the telepath told him. "And you're wrong if you think for a minute that I'm doing it for anyone's sake but my own. But as long as I'm skirting the line between Weiss and Schwarz, I'll take from Kritiker what I want to make it worth the trouble."

      "You're such an asshole," Ken decided, but he didn't struggle when Schuldich leaned in to kiss him.

      Monsters are made, not born, was the German's amused response. Now shut up.

      Ken had nothing to say to that, but there wasn't really a need to talk anymore, anyway. They still had fifteen minutes before Morimoto showed up, after all.

Part 6
Back to Mami's Fics