Part Twelve: Neon Love

    They parted two blocks away from the club. They'd come in two separate cars- Schuldich and Farfarello had come in the German's, and the other four had been in Crawford's. Omi watched as the four selected for the club left their various cars. Schuldich was leaving his in the parking lot of a deli. The light from the lamps cast a faded glow over the four, and Omi traced their forms with his eyes slowly. Yohji had been sent with Aya when the redhead had gone to retrieve a katana so that both could buy something to wear to the club. It was odd to see Aya dressed in the kind of outfit Yohji usually wore. Perhaps Crawford thought that too, for the American kept looking at him. At least Aya had a long coat over the tight outfit. It was open and pulled back to expose his hips, and he had fastened the sheathed katana to his back where it couldn't be seen.

    It was equally strange to see Schwarz dressed up to go. Schuldich's taste ran almost identical to Yohji's in the amount of skin that showed and guaze that decorated him. It was a far cry from the outfit he'd been seen in so often during clashing missions, even stranger than seeing him in jeans and sweaters during today. The German had clothed Farfarello in an outfit of blood red and black silk. It looked to be held together by beaded strings, but there were gaps to show the Irishman's pale skin. The result was frightening yet fascinating. Schuldich seemed to be overly satisfied with the way Farfarello looked, as he kept turning to inspect the man. Right now he was playing with the strings that held the chest part of Farfarello's shirt together.

    /What?/ Schuldich's voice sounded, and Omi jumped in his seat at the surprise mental contact. /You don't like how he looks?/

    Omi paused, unsure as how to answer the question when Schuldich was out of the car and many feet away. The German tilted his head in Omi's direction, wide mouth curved into a smirk, then leaned in towards Farfarello to lightly bite the Irishman's ear. /But then, I guess he's not your type. You prefer the small and dark Japanese types, ja?/

    Nagi's face appeared in Omi's mind and Omi's eyes widened. How did...? Had Aya told him? That didn't seem right for Aya's character, but...

    Schuldich laughed in his mind. Omi didn't like the feeling; it made his head seem hollow enough for Schuldich's laugh to echo. He winced. /Why should he have to tell me if I can see it in your thoughts?/ Schuldich asked.

    That made sense.

    Farfarello reached up a pale hand to turn Schuldich's face back towards his, sending an icy look in Omi's direction. Schuldich said something that Omi couldn't hear and tapped Farfarello's nose with a finger. The man looked back towards Schuldich and the German leaned his head in, pressing their foreheads together briefly and laughing. Then the man withdrew, pulling Farfarello behind him by the wrist as he headed towards Aya and Yohji.

    Omi frowned slightly. He'd never thought Schwarz to be the buddy-buddy type that would have that much physical contact. He had never seen anyone touch each other as much as Schuldich and Farfarello seemed to be doing tonight. Perhaps they were best friends. It was an odd concept.

    For some reason Aya's words from earlier that day returned to circle in Omi's mind: "Next door is Schuldich's room. If you hear anything at night, ignore it. I don't think you'll be disturbed tonight; Schuldich's still sick and Farfarello is wounded."

    _Surely_ Aya didn't mean...

    The engine started again, jerking Omi away from his odd thoughts. His eyes swept towards the rearview mirror, where he could see Crawford's face. The car pulled away from the curb and Omi reached down to lift his crossbow up from its position by his feet. He wasn't entirely sure he would need it, but he'd decided to bring it. Crawford had brought a gun, but Omi didn't trust him enough to depend on just that.

    ~We're coming, Nagi...~ he whispered mentally.


    They entered in pairs: Aya with Yohji and Schuldich with Farfarello. Yohji could feel a light weight in his mind- Schuldich had connected them all on a light bond. Aya had told Yohji beforehand that to contact any of them he would just have to project his thoughts. The night was starting to seem very surreal. But then, his life had turned unreal today. It was still hard to believe that Manx was the cold hearted woman she turned out to be. He'd known her for so long, had flirted with her so often.

    After Persia's death so recently, Manx had been promoted. Now she was in charge of Kritiker. She had the power to avoid Crawford's visions, and had decided to use that power in an attempt to take Schwarz out forever. She had done that with a mission that could have costed Weiß their lives.

    But why? Why would she risk Weiß to get rid of Schwarz? Yohji knew that Manx did not like the black unit; hell, he didn't, either. But how deep did her dislike run? Was it that Schwarz was a problem, or was it more than that? And why did she wait so long to step forward and reveal her gift? Had she always known about it, or had she only recently realized it?

    How deep did the corruption lead? Manx had turned her fangs on Weiß, and the rest of Kritiker would move to follow her. Another unit had targeted them. But what about those others in position? Birman was now second in command for Kritiker. Was she in on this? She and Manx were good friends, he knew, but Birman had not shown any signs other than concern for Weiß after the explosions. Was that sincere or a mask? Did Kritiker know about Manx's role in the explosions or did they just know what she told them?

    /Will you stop thinking?/ Schuldich sent at him, sounding disgruntled. Yohji glanced towards the German in annoyance. He'd been thinking quietly. /One of us can hear you at all times,/ the other assassin said in response to that mental comment. Jade eyes slid towards his and held his gaze briefly.

    Yohji tucked his thoughts on the Kritiker matter away. It wouldn't be any good to mull over it. All he had was questions, questions without answers. He needed answers. They all did.

    ~Once inside, one pair goes to the bar while the other travels the floor,~ Aya reminded them all.

    /Seeing as Farfarello's no dancer, you can have the floor./

    ~Aya's no dancer, either,~ Yohji spoke up.

    /Oh, really? Maybe he didn't tell you-/

    ~Schuldich.~ Aya cut the man off mid-sentence.

    Yohji looked towards Aya, confused. ~Tell me what?~ he wondered quietly. Aya had never danced...

    They passed by the bouncer easily and the other two vanished in the thick crowd. Aya led the way, moving through the mingling people towards the floor. This was obviously a popular club; Yohji rarely saw such a crowd. He almost lost Aya, but the redhead reached back to grab his wrist. Music crashed outwards from speakers, pulsing against their bodies as if the bass was their heartbeat.

    Yohji had thought Aya would be the one following in such a place; he'd thought Aya would be a bit taken back by a club. As far as he knew, the younger man had never stepped inside one. It was definitely not the type of place the silent redhead would willingly go in.

    His eyes trailed down the other man's form. Along with Manx, Aya's appearance ranked high on Yohji's Wierd Shit list. He would never have thought he'd seen Aya dressed in such clothes. If he wasn't so unnerved by the whole day he would have taken a moment to appreciate just how good Aya looked in his outfit.

    /Don't get any ideas,/ Schuldich drawled lazily in his mind.

    ~Any ideas?~ Yohji repeated.

    Schuldich sniggered, amused by something. /He's not up for the taking./

    ~Taking?~ And then Schuldich's words dawned on him, and Yohji sent the man a mental dirty look. ~Look, you psychotic sicko, he's my _friend_ and we're both _straight_.~ Schuldich burst out laughing loud enough that Yohji cringed. He was probably just glad to have angered Yohji, Yohji deducted acidly. ~Fuck you,~ he snapped.

    /That offer was not even tempting. Besides, Farfarello would kill you./

    Yohji closed his eyes and counted to ten, blanking his thoughts. He did not even want to consider what Schuldich appeared to be saying.

    When he opened his eyes Aya glanced over his shoulder at him, frowning slightly. "You seem to have amused Schuldich," he said, words barely carrying over the throb of the music.

    "Everything amuses that bastard," Yohji muttered under his breath, slipping past a girl to draw even with Aya. They were making a slow circle around the floor. Supposedly Schuldich was scanning the crowd's mental frequencies for signs of the other target. Omi had been able to provide them with names and faces, and Schuldich would use those as a key to search for. Yohji wondered briefly how long that search would take when there were so many people.

    He was answered when Schuldich spoke up a moment later. /They're not here yet./

    ~So we wait,~ came Aya's steady response.

    But what if they didn't show up? What if they'd cleared out for a couple days in case Schwarz and Weiß came after them?

    He must have been thinking too loudly, for he heard Aya's voice in his mind again. ~Crawford didn't see failure.~

    ~And Crawford's infallible?~ Yohji sent back at Aya dryly. ~You told us yourself that Crawford didn't see the explosion coming.~

    ~That was because of Manx. This is a unit.~ Hands brushed along Yohji's shoulder in invitation and he glanced back out of habit to see two girls smiling at him. Suddenly Aya released him. Yohji looked back towards the man questioningly. ~We don't know how long we're going to be waiting,~ was all Aya said, and the man vanished through the crowd.

    Yohji was not one to turn down the opportunity, and turned back to the girls with a roguish grin on his face.


    Schuldich sipped lazily at his drink, scattering his mind across the crowd now and then in a scan for the other agents. Farfarello was running one finger along the side of the shot glass he'd been given, eye watching the crowd warily. Schuldich knew how much self-restraint the man was enforcing to keep him from lashing into the oblivious dancers. This was Farfarello's second trip to a club. Last time Schuldich had merely told him that the people at clubs were sinning by being there, by partaking in drink and lusty habits with strangers. Believing those words did not make it any less tempting to rip them to shreds, however, and Schuldich could see the agitation in the way Farfarello's hand was clenched into a fist.

    There were better things such excess energy could be used for.

    A slow smirk spread on Schuldich's face and he downed the rest of his drink. He tossed a few bills on the countertop and slid from the stool. Farfarello's eye landed on him. /Come on,/ Schuldich beckoned, and Farfarello obeyed.

    He never could resist Farfarello in silk.

    He led the younger man towards one of the shaded walls of the club. His hands were on the assassin as soon as they reached the secluded area, yanking Farfarello towards him and twisting to pin his lover against the wall. Farfarello's lips parted soundlessly and there was a small flicker of surprise in his eye, but his hands instantly moved towards Schuldich's body. One slid across a muscled arm while the fingers of the other twisted and latched onto strands of orange hair. Schuldich leaned in, nipping sharply at Farfarello's bottom lip before tilting his head to nuzzle the paler man's throat. His fingers skimmed across the other man's front, brushing along the silk so softly that Farfarello would only be able to feel whisper touches.

    --Tousouya Daiki--

    Schuldich didn't pause in his exploration but cast his mind in that direction, seeking the thoughts that had mentioned the Kritiker agent's name. One by one the other minds popped up; the four had just returned. Schuldich smirked into Farfarello's collarbone before flicking his tongue out to touch it.


    ~They're here?~ Aya asked.

    /Ja./ Schuldich followed their progress across the room, dipping a hand down to cup the front of Farfarello's pants. He heard his lover's breath catch in his throat at the contact, lifting his head to gaze upon Farfarello's face. The man's eye was half-lidded and hazy. His hand had tightened almost painfully on Schuldich's arm. /They went through the back door./

    ~I'll get Yohji.~

    /If you can,/ Schuldich retorted with a smirk. He nuzzled Farfarello's ear with his nose. "Farfarello," he whispered huskily. The man didn't answer, but Schuldich knew he was listening. "They're here." He released the Irishman, leaning back and tilting his head in the direction of their opponents.

    Farfarello's mind rippled with annoyance as he looked in that direction, eye narrowing. He obviously did not appreciate the interruption. Schuldich ducked in, catching his mouth in a breath-stealing kiss. Farfarello bit his lip as he pulled back, and Schuldich hid a wince when he tasted blood. /Later, liebe. Later./

    His captured lip was released and Farfarello traced it with a finger, then put the bloodied tip in his mouth. Schuldich was unable to stop himself and reached out, briefly running his fingers across the other man's cheek before turning away. They pressed through the crowd, Schuldich guiding them through the clearest path. Aya and Yohji joined them by the back door. Schuldich released his power in a subtle wave as they passed through the door so that anyone that had seen them go did not remember it.

    It was a short hall on the other side. A quick search produced a storage room, two bathrooms, and a closet. Schuldich did a quick mental tug and turned towards the closet. Aya saw what he was looking at and opened the door for a second look. There were two mops and a bucket; that was all. The redhead looked back towards Schuldich, who stepped forward and reached out. He pushed against the back wall lightly and it swayed back half an inch. He let go, letting the door whisk back into place.

    /They disguised the entrance as a closet wall. They're more original than you four,/ he sent lazily towards the others.

    Aya reached behind his jacket. There was the soft shink of a blade pulling free. When his hand emerged, his new sword was held lightly in it. Before any of the others could move, Yohji reached out, lightly grabbing Aya's upper arm. The swordsman looked back towards him. Yohji's eyes were on the door. He projected his thoughts for all to hear.

    ~Don't kill any of them.~ When no one replied, Yohji met Aya's steady gaze. ~They just did what they were told to do, Aya. We used to do the same. They're not the bad guys here. Manx is.~

    /You're weak,/ Schuldich declared disdainfully.

    Aya searched Yohji's gaze, then looked back towards the door. After several long moments of silence, Aya answered. ~There is to be no killing. Schuldich, you check and see if the others have gotten hold of Nagi.~

    Schuldich laughed softly, shaking his head. /You kittens just don't have it in you, do you?/ he asked.

    ~Killing them will get us nowhere; we need to show that we're not the ones they're against,~ Yohji protested, flicking an annoyed glance towards Schuldich.

    /Think what you like, Kudou. Use pretty words to cover up the sick feeling you get at the thought of killing the so-called innocents./ Schuldich's words were mocking, and his smirk compounded the scorn. He did not care whether the other assassins lived or died. What he found amusing was the guilt the other assassins felt. He did not understand guilt; he did not feel it. /Do what you like, purists,/ he drawled, dismissing the matter.

    ~No deaths,~ was Aya's reply, then the man moved forward past him to slip through the door. Yohji followed, and Schuldich motioned for Farfarello to precede him.

    The other unit was in for an unpleasant surprise.

Part 13