SYN: When You Gonna Learn?

Part Fifteen

    Kudou was smoking out front when Schuldich reached their izakaya of choice. The German slowed for a few steps before brushing aside such hesitations with annoyance. He strode boldly up to the Weiß assassin and fished a pack of cigarettes out of Kudou's pockets. Kudou lit it for him and they eyed each other through smoke and over the two burning sticks between them. At length Schuldich gave a careless toss of his head and stepped back, and Kudou visibly relaxed.

    It was the first time they'd seen each other in a week, the first time since Schuldich's dangerous slide into Kudou's mind. Schuldich had stayed away in part to avoid a repeat performance and in part because of the thoughts he'd heard there. That hadn't stopped Kudou from texting him throughout the week- first to see if he was all right and then in regards to this dinner out with Nagi. Kudou had asked Schuldich to come a few minutes early so they could talk, and Schuldich had agreed. What they wanted to talk about, though, were two ultimately different things. Kudou wanted to check on him and Schuldich wanted to make it perfectly clear that Kudou wasn't going to act funny around Nagi.

    "You look semi-sane," Kudou said in greeting.

    "It's a front," Schuldich answered. "Rosenkreuz graduates don't know what 'sane' means."

    "Why did you do it?"

    Schuldich ignored that. "How many seats to a table here?"

    "The one we reserved has four."

    "You're not sitting next to Nagi."

    "What, you'd rather me sit across from him? You realize that means it'll be easier for him to look at me than you. He'd have to crane his neck."

    "I'll sit across from him. You sit beside me."

    "Kind of cold to make the birthday boy sit alone."

    "Lucky for us, then, that this particular birthday boy doesn't know how to cry."

    "You know what I mean. Why don't I sit beside him and you sit across?"

    "Because your morals have enough holes in them to drive a van through and I don't trust you to not cop a feel from him."

    "If I sit next to you will you let me cop a feel on you instead?"

    "Make that a cruise liner. No freaky shit in front of Nagi, Kudou."

    "Call me Yohji and I'll behave."

    Schuldich was spared from having to answer that when his phone started buzzing. There was a message from Nagi in his inbox and he skimmed it with one quick glance. "Nagi's running late, got slowed down by Crawford. He guesses ten minutes, fifteen max." He snapped it shut and stuffed it in his pocket. "Crawford's an inconsiderate putz. I don't want to just stand around here for fifteen minutes."

    Kudou smiled around his cigarette. "I can think of plenty to do with fifteen minutes."

    "What happened to stamina?"

    "I can get you off in half that time," Kudou answered easily. "Let me show you that this," he waved a hand back and forth between them, "is still all right. Just keep your gift to yourself and pretend like you trust me somewhat."

    Schuldich snorted at such words and flicked ash to one side. Kudou took advantage of the gesture to lean forward. It really had been a week; Schuldich felt that kiss all the way down. It went from chaste to hot in a heartbeat and to hell with anyone who oversaw it.

    "Come on," Kudou murmured against his mouth. "It's early enough that the place is empty. Let's go to the bathroom."

    A bored-looking host perked up when they walked in. Kudou had taken care of reservations and he apologized all the way back to their table over how late their third man was going to be. The host got them water and left them in peace, and the two waited only a few seconds after his exit before getting up again.

    There were only two other tables with patrons at this time of day. Nagi hadn't wanted to deal with a crowd, so they'd opted on a really late lunch, really early dinner. It was a bizarre time of day to start drinking, but that wasn't going to stop them. Schuldich was hungry from only eating a granola and yogurt breakfast and he was past ready to eat. It was easy to forget that hunger, though, as he followed Kudou into the bathroom.

    There were two stalls and their doors were cracked open, a sign that they were empty. Kudou locked the main door behind them, trusting the few guests to not need to take a leak anytime soon. He had Schuldich up against the wall in a heartbeat and Schuldich kept his gift locked down as tight as he could. Kudou skipped niceties and careful touches in favor of something more aggressive and demanding and Schuldich was quick to return the favor. Hands raked over cloth and under clothes; fingers and fingernails marked out lines on skin that was as familiar as their own.

    It didn't take long for their breaths to turn ragged and Schuldich turned his mouth into Kudou's to accept a hard kiss. Fingers tangled through his and shoved his hands up against the cold tile, and Kudou shifted against him as one long slide. Schuldich gasped against kiss swollen lips and pushed back, meeting Kudou's second grind head-on. Kudou groaned at his ear and dug his fingernails into the backs of Schuldich's hands.

    "Fuck," Kudou groaned. "This one-week abstinence shit isn't going to work, Schuldich."

    "It's not my problem that you're a hopeless manwhore."

    "It's your problem that it's been a week."

    "Spare me the 'I told you so' speech. Crawford's given it to me at least five times this week."

    "Just be careful," Kudou pressed. Schuldich refused to answer that, not interested in the words or the serious tone. He shut Kudou up by pushing forward against him, sealing his mouth to Kudou's. The man tasted like cigarettes, not the best taste in the world, but there were worst things to taste of. Kissing was better than listening to the man chastise him, and this, this pushing and shoving and fuckyeahrightthere was best of all.

    His hands were on Kudou the second the other man let them go, tangling in honey locks and raking down over his shoulders. Kudou's hands were down over his hips and onto his ass, cupping his cheeks for a squeeze that was bound to leave his ass numb for a minute. The grip was more than enough to hold Schuldich still exactly where Kudou wanted him and the Balinese rolled against him, nonstop pressure and friction that had them both fighting for air around their kisses.

    His jeans were way too tight, constricted enough that it was starting to hurt. At last Kudou stopped and worked on the zipper, snapping the button out of place and shoving the pants down to his knees. He forced his own knee between Schuldich's thighs to spread his legs and denim bit hard into Schuldich's calves where his jeans didn't want to spread quite far enough. Fingers slipped around his sides and straight to the heat between his legs, teasing at the flesh there even as Schuldich buried his own hands in Kudou's pants. Apparently this hadn't been part of Weiß's plans, because the pants he'd chosen were so tight that Schuldich could barely move his fingers. There wasn't a zipper, either, for him to help loosen it.

    Teeth marked a line down his throat even as fingers slipped back around his ass to find the opening there. Kudou teased the sensitive ring with a rather deliberate cruelty and Schuldich would have hit him if only he could have gotten his hands free again. He did manage to pinch Kudou's trapped erection and Kudou bit him for that. It was getting hard to think enough to fight back and Schuldich writhed helplessly against the wall.

    "Kudou," he managed, and he somehow got it to sound like a threat. Maybe.

    Kudou just laughed that particular laugh that did as much damage as his fingers did. Schuldich's eyes fell closed at the sound of it and Kudou pounced on that small victory, crushing himself up against Schuldich and grinding hard. Leather and the pressure of his trapped hands were almost too rough for his naked erection, but Schuldich was quickly reaching the point where he didn't care. But fuck, if Kudou didn't stop teasing him, he was going to—

    There it was at last: the push of a finger slipping inside him. The weeks they'd been together led Kudou straight to his prostrate and Schuldich jerked against the wall so hard he hit his head on the tile. A strangled curse collided with Kudou's heavy groan somewhere between their kiss-bruised lips. Kudou continued to tease at that spot, working at it as hard as he could, and Schuldich forgot himself in hissing ragged, needy curses against Kudou's mouth. Fingers raked up his sides and onto his chest, teasing at his nipples and collarbone, and it was far too much.

    He came hard, fingers clenching down on Kudou's shoulders where he'd somehow gotten them free. Kudou made a thready little sound in reaction to the hoarse noise Schuldich couldn't quite catch and he came just a few seconds later from the harsh friction between them. He was heavy when he collapsed against Schuldich and Schuldich would have griped about the weight if he could get the breath for it. As it was, he settled for gasping for breath and blinking away the black spots in his vision.

    "Shit," Kudou murmured against his mouth. "Shit."

    That didn't really need a response, so Schuldich ignored it. They took their time getting their breath back and Kudou pressed a last kiss to the corner of Schuldich's mouth before stepping away. There was paper towel near the sink and they washed themselves clean. The bathroom smelled like sex when they left, but that wasn't their problem.

    There were puddles on the table where their cold glasses had dribbled condensation all over the wood and these eased themselves back into their chairs as if they hadn't just gotten each other off in a restaurant bathroom. Schuldich drained his glass and Kudou refilled it without a thought.

    They were only there for a few minutes before Nagi showed up. He had to slide past Schuldich to get to his booth and the German hesitated with his glass halfway to his mouth.

    "You smell like sex," he said without thinking, glancing up at Nagi's face.

    His gift flicked out in the same instant, pressing against the edge of Nagi's thoughts to catch whatever was riding on the surface there. What he found wasn't what he expected. He found himself in that bathroom again, staring out of the crack of a stall door at Schuldich and Kudou. It took Schuldich a moment to realize the significance of what he was seeing.

    "You were watching that?!"

    "Participating," Kudou corrected blandly, and Schuldich shot him a look. Kudou looked like the cat who'd caught the canary, not the expression he should be wearing when dropping that little heads-up on his lover. "I wanted to prove to him that he could get you off. It was my birthday present to him."

    "That he-" Schuldich started, and then it hit him. Kudou's hands sliding over his ass and up onto his sides and chest, but that teasing and probing pressure inside him hadn't even slowed. Schuldich stared blankly back at Kudou for a few seconds before turning on Nagi. The teen still looked a little flushed from the peepshow, or maybe that was from getting himself off afterwards. When Schuldich blinked he could see them against the wall again, so close to the edge that they'd both been a little desperate, but they weren't touching from the chests down. Weight and pressure dragging against them and between them almost hard enough to hurt and it had been all Nagi's doing.

    ~Wait,~ his mind thought. ~Wait, what does that mean?~

    "Telekinesis is a glorious invention," Kudou volunteered. "It opens up a whole world of kink in the bedroom."

    "Don't share things like that," Schuldich answered automatically.

    Nagi gazed back at him, not quite defiant but not a bit regretful for the stunt they'd just pulled. Another press against Nagi's mind showed satisfaction tinged with lingering hunger. He'd had years of being interested in Schuldich, only to hear it would be impossible. Finding out just why it was impossible, that the fact it was reciprocated was what had sealed Schuldich's mind against him, had only added insult to injury. Tonight he'd done something he'd thought he'd never have the chance to do, and he was never going to pretend to feel guilty about it.

    "Was it good for you?" Kudou purred at his ear, all hot invitation despite the fact that they'd just gotten off less than ten minutes ago. Schuldich's stomach twitched in response. "How about you, Nagi?"

    The look Nagi sent Kudou more than answered that question, and Schuldich wondered if that clenching in his gut was annoyance over being set up. Nagi turned back on him, then, still all dark and wanting.

    "I need a drink," Schuldich said without thinking.

    ~That was all Nagi,~ he thought uneasily.

    "Schuldich?" Kudou asked.


    They took the hint and let it drop, but that edge of hunger didn't leave Nagi's stare. Nagi and Kudou filled the silence between them with easy conversation. Schuldich was irritated at how well they interacted, then irritated at himself for being irritated, and then he finally thought he was ready to join in. Schuldich wasn't sure at first what else they were going to talk about. He was used to talking to Kudou and Nagi casually when it was just one of them, but with them both in the same room? The only things they had in common were that they were all connected by lust and sex and that they killed people for a living.

    Kudou knew what he was doing, though, and kept the conversation away from relationships. Never had it been more obvious that Kudou had spent six months as a host. He worked the conversation flawlessly, entertaining and amusing them as easily as he breathed. It had been over a month now since Schuldich had last heard Nagi laugh, but Kudou knew just what to say.

    There was another spike of that strange, unfamiliar annoyance he'd felt in the restaurant last week, the aggravation that had nearly been his undoing. It was easier to squish now than it had been then, probably because of that dip in Kudou's head. So that peepshow had been for Nagi- so what. The lust had been for Schuldich. That was enough.

    He kept telling himself that, anyway, but damn if it didn't bother him seeing Nagi relax so quickly around Kudou.

    The more he drank, the less he cared, and he aimed steadily for that apathy. Their course was set for three hours and Schuldich got completely sloshed in under two. Kudou kept a more reasonable pace and Nagi had a few drinks of his own just to try it out. The alcohol seemed to make Kudou forget that he'd agreed not to fool around in front of Nagi, though they'd destroyed that rule with the bathroom stunt. He copped a feel once or twice during dinner. At least, Schuldich thought it was Kudou.


    Kudou helped him up when they were finished and brought him out to the parking lot. Schwarz had taken the train because Crawford had the car, but Kudou was willing to give them both a ride. He stuffed Schuldich in the back seat so he could have more room to sprawl and Nagi was quick to follow him inside. Schuldich propped his back against the car door to sit sideways on the cushions and he waggled a hand at Nagi in greeting. The car door had just shut behind them when Nagi was right in Schuldich's personal space. The glassy look in his eye said four drinks had been more than enough for the freshly-seventeen year old and Schuldich grinned, amused by that low tolerance.

    "Where's my birthday present from you?" Nagi asked.

    "I think I paid for dinner. Did I, Kudou?"

    "We went dutch on it."


    "My present, Schuldich," Nagi insisted.

    "I don't do birthday presents."

    "Just this once."

    "What do you want?"

    "Kiss me."

    "What?" Schuldich arched an eyebrow at him. "I think I misunderstood you."

    "Just once," Nagi emphasized. "Just this once. Okay?"

    Schuldich opened his mouth to tell Nagi to buzz off, but Nagi wasn't going to take no for an answer. He pressed himself fully up against Schuldich and tangled his hands in Schuldich's hair, holding the telepath still long enough to kiss him.

    Weeks ago it had been beyond bizarre when Nagi had kissed him. It was different today. Maybe it was because Schuldich had been sleeping with Kudou for weeks. Maybe it was because he was too drunk to really think about it. Maybe it was because of what Nagi had done earlier. Whatever the reason, Schuldich didn't shove him away. Blue and blue met and held, one stare a lazy, drunken challenge and the other a feverish wanting, and Schuldich could tell Kudou had been the one to teach Nagi. Nagi kissed like he did, except his touch was more inviting than demanding. It forced Schuldich into the lead role and he took it easily, used to fighting Kudou for dominance.

    Nagi's gift skittered down over his skin like a hundred searching fingers, like being touched by ten Kudous, and the sudden and thorough molesting startled a gasp out of Schuldich. He dug his hand into Nagi's hair to hold his head still, pressing a harder kiss against his mouth, and Nagi shifted up against him.


    Speaking was a mistake; hearing Nagi's voice sent a sharp wake-up call straight through Schuldich's head. The telepath reacted in an instant, pushing Nagi back. "That was more than one," he said.

    Nagi looked ready to argue, but Schuldich just pushed harder. "Stop it."

    Nagi's mouth thinned to a hard line and he retreated, but his gift didn't stop. He dropped his gaze to Schuldich's lap and his telekinesis followed with deadly accuracy. Schuldich jerked against the seat and dropped his hand to his lap, trying to brush away a hand he couldn't touch. "Nagi," he warned his teammate.

    "He's damn good, isn't he?" Kudou said from the front seat. He was very carefully not looking back at them, and Nagi glanced his way at the easy tone of his voice. A second later his gift fell away and Schuldich sucked in a shuddering breath, trying to calm his jumping nerves.

    "Yohji," Nagi said quietly, and Kudou glanced back. It took just one look to realize Nagi had stopped, and he turned around again to slide the key into the ignition. The ride back to Schwarz's apartment passed in silence and Schuldich made no move to get out of the car. Nagi lingered for a minute with the door open, but his teammate didn't stir. At last he closed the door and leaned in Kudou's open window to kiss him farewell.

    "Good night."

    "Night," Kudou answered. "Happy birthday."

    Nagi headed into the apartment alone and Kudou drove Schuldich back to his place. It was hard work getting up the stairs but somehow they managed, and they tumbled together to the bed. For a few moments they just lay there, studying each other in silence, and then Kudou scooted closer.

    "Fuck me," he said simply. Schuldich gazed back at him, not quite understanding that. Kudou offered his lower lip a small nip. "Fuck me," he said again. "Now, when you're trashed enough that your trigger doesn't know what it's doing."

    "I don't know how," Schuldich answered, drunk enough to be honest.

    "I'll show you," Kudou promised. "All right?"

    Schuldich considered it for a few moments. "Yeah."

    "Good," Kudou purred, and he pulled Schuldich closer.

    Neither of them got much sleep that night.


    Nagi's birthday lunch-dinner was quickly slotted into the 'let's not talk about this' category. Schuldich semi-expected it to make things awkward, but it somehow seemed to have relaxed some underlying tension between him and Nagi. They got on just as well as they had before it had happened, if not better. The only sign that anything had changed was that Schuldich was feeling more out of sorts than usual. Their days were busy enough that he didn't have much time to think about it, but in the quiet hours, his thoughts went straight back.

    ~Weird,~ he told himself stubbornly. ~Really weird.~

    He found himself on Kudou's doorstep at all hours of the night, showing up without knowing why he'd gone there in the first place. Kudou never turned him away, never asked why Schuldich was starting to look more serious and less smirking and overconfident. There were fewer taunts that week; Kudou knew Schuldich was trying to mentally work through things and he was willing to give the telepath time.

    He expected it to vanish in a week, eaten up by his gift and dismissed in favor of more immediate things, but the eighth day started with the problems still in place.

    Apparently his other two teammates could pick up on it, though Schuldich guessed they had known all along what had happened at the izakaya. Neither had commented on it when he'd gotten back from Kudou's mid-afternoon the next day, but as the second week started with Schuldich still twitchy, there was definitely a calculating look in Crawford's eyes. The precognitive looked like he was waiting for something and Schuldich wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was.

    "He's really annoying," Schuldich announced as he eyed the knife Kudou had given him. Weiß's eldest had started trying to teach him how to cook, with mixed results. "He can see so bloody much. How it hasn't driven him crazy already, I don't know. Back in the beginning, when Schwarz was just starting and we still had Fredericks and Malcolm on the team, he completely dominated the group. I think he hated it almost as much as we did, though. The team couldn't stay together, no matter that we could all foresee it falling apart. After we pulled together Schwarz Two with the little punks, we demanded he start keeping his mouth shut. That's the only way the team can actually work. But sometimes I really wish that prick would be useful."

    "Do you think you'd really want to know what he had to say?" Kudou asked.

    "It's better than having him give you that look," Schuldich answered, shoving sliced onions Kudou's way. "When he does that, you end up just sitting on your ass for a week wondering how you're going to slip up next. I think he gets a thrill out of it. I don't know what Farf sees in him."

    "Are they seriously together?" Kudou wanted to know. "I mean, back when you first found out about me and Nagi, you said something about it, but it completely broke my brain and I was more distracted with the fact that you'd just walked in on us to pay attention."

    "Mm," Schuldich waggled the knife as he thought. "Almost a year now, I think. A year since I found out about it, anyway. They're pretty discreet."

    "Huuuu." Kudou tilted his head to one side as he considered it. "I can't really imagine it. Suppose they'd ever let us watch?"

    Schuldich poked him with the knife. "You ask Farfarello and see how he responds, smartass."

    "I do want to live until I'm thirty-five, you know."

    "Good luck," Schuldich said dryly.

    Kudou just grinned and passed him some peppers to cut up. They finished up the preparation in silence and Kudou set the tray neatly in the oven to start baking. He set the timer for half an hour and considered the mess on the counter as if gearing himself up for a massive job. In the end he opted out of it and wound an arm around Schuldich's waist instead.

    Schuldich rinsed his knife off in the sink and dragged it down Kudou's arm. Kudou said nothing about it but shifted up against Schuldich's back. He wasn't quite tall enough to see enough over Schuldich's shoulder, so he rocked forward onto the balls of his feet to watch. Schuldich did it again, harder this time, and left a pink line behind.

    "Bored?" Kudou asked.

    "Just wondering what Farfarello sees in it."

    Kudou kissed the side of his throat. "You're not Farfarello. Give it up." Schuldich shrugged and tossed the knife back to the counter. "We've got thirty minutes," Kudou pointed out, tightening his grip just a little. Schuldich took it as a hint and started shifting dishes into the sink. Kudou reached out and caught his wrist with his free hand, drawing his hand back. "Are dishes more interesting than me?"

    "Do you want to know that answer?"

    Kudou scooted around in front of him and leaned in to kiss him. Schuldich tilted his head away. "I'm trying to work."

    Kudou sighed and moved away, and they set the kitchen back to rights. They finished up about the same time as the dinner was ready and retreated out to the bed with their plates. Kudou turned on the TV for background noise. The hours dragged away between them without any real sense or purpose. Kudou cleared away the plates sometime close to midnight and turned the TV off on his way back to bed.

    Schuldich watched him come, not really understanding what Kudou was looking for. Kudou eased himself right into Schuldich's personal space and leaned in, aiming for a kiss. Schuldich turned his head away. Kudou frowned a little, searching Schuldich's eyes and looking confused.

    "Are you mad at me?"

    "You'd know if I was mad at you," Schuldich pointed out.

    "Then what's wrong?"


    Kudou tried again. Schuldich put his hand between their faces. "Knock it off."


    "Because it's weird."

    "Weird," Kudou echoed in an even voice. He brushed Schuldich's hand aside. "Why is it weird?"


    Kudou just stared back at him, not repeating himself. Schuldich mirrored his frown as communication completely broke down between them. Kudou was the first to reach out, touching fingers to Schuldich's face and tracing the line of his jaw down to his throat. Schuldich gazed coolly back as that hand made its way down over his chest towards the crotch of his pants. As soon as Kudou reached the button of his slacks, though, Schuldich moved his hand away.

    "I said stop it, dumbass."

    Realization was slow to dawn on Kudou's face. "You can't be serious," he said softly, drawing his hand back. Schuldich waited for him to elaborate, but it took Kudou almost a minute to figure out what he was supposed to say next. Green eyes were shuttered as he searched Schuldich's gaze, looking hard for answers Schuldich couldn't give him. "Schuldich?"

    "Kudou, I thought I'd figured out all your issues by now, but this-"

    "Is this how Nagi felt?"

    Schuldich forgot the rest of his sentence. "What does Nagi have to do with this?"

    "Why is this weird, Schuldich?" Kudou demanded. "Yesterday we were fucking right here on this bed. Why is it different today?"

    "Yesterday," Schuldich echoed blankly.

    Kudou's entire expression closed off, and seeing such a blank look was what finally clicked the last piece in place. Schuldich felt his own expression freeze and he went rigid. He opened his mouth to offer some sort of excuse, but he couldn't find the words. Instead he leaned forward, forcing himself to press a kiss to Kudou's unresponsive mouth. In the end it didn't matter that Kudou didn't react, because Schuldich could only stand it for two seconds before he was pulling away.

    "I'm going to kill him." The words were barely a murmur, but the venom in them made up for the volume. Schuldich was off the bed in a heartbeat and Kudou didn't try to stop him.

    The trip home was blurred by mounting rage and nausea and Schuldich left a dent on the wall where he threw their apartment door open. Crawford was waiting for him in the hallway, looking as calm as ever. Just the sight of that smooth expression made Schuldich want to hurt him, but he knew better than to lash out against the precognitive. Instead he caught at the door and slammed it shut behind him as hard as he could.

    The noise was enough to attract their other teammates. Judging by the look on Farfarello's face, Crawford hadn't told him yet. Nagi looked just as surprised where he was a little further down the hall. Schuldich refused to look at them but kept his glare fixed on Crawford.

    "What just happened?" he demanded. "What the fuck was that?"

    "I did warn you," Crawford pointed out mildly. "You just chose not to listen."

    "You did no such fucking thing!"

    "In my exact words, 'you have no emotional attachment to him, so for the time being, it has more leniencies towards him.' Perhaps you remember, if only because it offended you that I used those words in the middle."

    "It's a lie."

    "Denial won't get you anywhere, Schuldich."

    "I said it's a lie!"

    "Schuldich. Calm down and think through this."

    "There's nothing to think about!"

    "You've taken them both away from you through your own doing," Crawford said, ignoring the way Schuldich was shaking his head at him. "But last week should have taught you that you can gain them back. Your persistent involvement with Kudou has brought your trigger down to the point that you can train it to turn on and off. This is where you can make your choice. It only needs one more blow."

    "I'm not going to choose anything!" Schuldich shot back.

    Crawford tilted his head to one side as if looking back at Nagi, but he kept his stare on Schuldich. Schuldich glanced past him without wanting to, first to the blank look on Farfarello's face to the stunned one on Nagi's.

    "Fuck both of you," Schuldich sent at Nagi. "Take him back. You can keep that psychotic flower-munching retard. I don't care what you do with him, but you keep him the fuck away from me."

    "Schuldich-" Nagi started, taking a step forward.

    Schuldich didn't let him finish. He just turned and wrenched the door open, and he was down the stairs as fast as his legs could take him.

Part 16
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