SYN: When You Gonna Learn?

Part Sixteen

    The view was boring after three days of staring out of the same hotel window. Schuldich considered it nonetheless, standing with his shoulder propped against the window frame. People moved beneath him, as insignificant as dust motes in the air from thirty stories up, and the cars seemed like pieces on a factory line with their endless bumper to bumper flow. Years ago such a sight would have impressed him, back when he was fresh off the plane and away from Rosenkreuz for the first time. Years of dealing with politicians who lacked confidence in their cock sizes made sure this kind of view was ordinary enough to be dull. It was still a better alternative to his thoughts, though, which was why he hadn't budged in an hour and a half.

    His phone buzzed at him from its precarious perch on the narrow windowsill and he glanced at it. The screen said it was Nagi. No surprise there. He and Kudou had been calling every half-hour since Schuldich had left, perhaps hoping to annoy him into answering. They knew Schuldich couldn't turn his phone off when there was a chance Crawford might need to get in touch with him and they exploited that.

    "Useless assholes," he informed his phone. "I give you back to each other and you're still not happy. What more could you want?"

    The mobile went quiet after six rings and the screen reported that he had missed one hundred and seven calls. He ignored it and turned back on the window. This time his gaze went to his reflection, which was just a bare outline tinged with tiny patches of color. A grimace pulled at his mouth as two pairs of blue eyes stared each other down. He didn't understand their persistence- didn't want to understand it- but he could outlast it.

    He wasn't planning on returning to that apartment until his gift reset itself back to oblivion. A few more days was all it would take, surely, before he could look them both in the face without that gnawing sense of anger.

    ~No reason to be angry,~ he told himself stubbornly. ~It's not like I wanted to keep fucking Kudou.~ Just the idea was strange. To think he'd spent weeks sleeping with the man actually went past strange into bizarre. And yet… This time there was something that hadn't been there every time his mind had reset itself against Nagi: a smoldering sense of resentment.

    Whether or not the idea seemed appealing to him now, he knew it had been fun just a few days ago. Last week, the week before, the last seven weeks—they'd all been good, even with the side order of Nagi issues. This wasn't about wanting what he'd lost; it was that Rosenkreuz had just rewritten his outlook on something that had been a steady part of his life for almost two months.

    But it was about wanting, too, wasn't it? The thought made him wince. His trigger was set to kick on based on one simple condition, but Schuldich refused to admit that it could be true. Kudou was just a game, just someone who'd surprisingly turned out to be worth his time and energy. He was just like Nagi, someone to horse around with and go places with and sprawl around with. He was just as easy to get along with, never mind that he was deluded into thinking he was killing for good.

    "I don't care," Schuldich informed the window. It tasted like truth on his tongue and the truth tasted sour. "Not about either of them."

    When he went back to that apartment, it wouldn't take any effort to get along with Nagi. If he really wanted to, he could still harass Kudou for dinners and drinks. There just wouldn't be anything else after that. Schuldich would sleep in his own room at night, and Nagi and Kudou—

    He felt wind before he felt pain, and he cursed as he eased his fist back in through the hole he'd punched in the window. Blood splattered on the window sill and his phone before soaking into the carpet as scattered, dark spots. He cradled his fist in his hand and stalked to the bathroom. A vicious twist of the knob got cold water running and he set to work cleaning the cuts.

    "Back to fucking square one," he spat, because that was the unavoidable crux of it all:

    Schuldich really, really didn't want Nagi and Kudou together.

    The thought infuriated him, no matter that he wasn't interested. Just imagining them kissing and fucking was enough to turn his stomach and he couldn't stand it. If he went back there and had to look at either of them and know what they were doing to each other, he'd snap. He understood that just as easily as he understood and believed that he needed oxygen to live. It didn't matter that he'd told Nagi to take Kudou back. He was bound to hurt one of them.

    He just didn't know which one he'd hurt more.

    "Spiders," he decided, offering the mirror a hot look. "I'm going to put spiders in Crawford's coffee and hope he chokes on them."

    Psychotic precognitive. This was exactly why Schuldich had initially protested putting Farfarello on the team. He'd always known Crawford had a sadistic streak and he'd been positive the Irishman would just bring it out in him. Still, Schuldich had never expected that Crawford would turn that sadism on his own team. They'd demanded free will from his visions, but surely a situation like this slid more into 'looking after one's teammates' than 'taking away their right to move on their own'.

    His phone was buzzing again. Schuldich wrapped his hand with the washrag and went to check on it. This time it was Crawford. Schuldich let it ring five times before he answered. He didn't want to pick up, but ignoring a call from Crawford when he wasn't dead or unconscious was unfathomable. If the precog fucked them over, shot him, and left him for dead, Schuldich would still answer when he called. The following phone call might not be pleasant, but he'd pick up.

    "What do you want?" he demanded.

    "You barely avoided damaging your tendons with that stunt."

    "This is not the time for your Miss Cleo bullshit, Crawford."

    For once Crawford didn't call him out on such disrespect. Instead he said, "Open the door."

    A knock came simultaneously and Schuldich flicked his gift that way. The thoughts that answered his query just pissed him off more. "No," he said flatly. "How the fuck did they get here, Crawford? Why did you tell them?"

    "For starters, because you demand my non-involvement in your affairs unless it comes in the form of subtle advice, but then you consistently fail to pick up on what I'm trying to tell you. Secondly, Nagi specifically asked for my help with the full kowtow."

    "What a power trip it must have been," Schuldich sneered.

    "Of course," was the dry response.

    "Whose side are you on?!"

    "I have always been on yours, or I would not have worked so hard to salvage you from our first team," Crawford said, a calm rebuke. "This is me taking your side, except that I'm looking at a different battlefield. I'm siding with you against Rosenkreuz."

    "That's got to be Farfarello's doing," Schuldich decided. "I thought I was the one forbidden to have sex for fear of defecting."

    "I'm not defecting," Crawford corrected him. "I'm simply disagreeing with some of their policies. Open the door, Schuldich."

    "If I see them right now, I'm going to hurt them."

    "Not as badly as they'll hurt you."

    "That's really fucking reassuring, Oracle."

    "They're not allowed to touch you unless you initiate it," Crawford told him.

    Schuldich shot a glare at the door when his uninvited guests knocked again. "My trigger shouldn't have kicked in again."

    Crawford gave a quiet sigh, that one that meant Schuldich was being dense again. "You are a telepath," he said, somehow sounding more tolerant than patient, "and there's more than one way to get lost in another's mind. Beyond white noise, it makes it too easy for telepaths to sympathize and synchronize with others' minds. Nagi was the first on our team because his mind is the most open and because you chose to favor him over Farfarello. Kudou was bound to follow when you insisted on spending so much time with him."

    "That's ridiculous."

    "Let them in, Schuldich," Crawford said again.

    ~Schuldich?~ Nagi tried. ~We want to talk to you.~


    Schuldich snapped his phone shut and threw it to one side. He allowed himself another minute to stare out at the skyline before reaching out with his telepathy. /Don't act as if you don't have a gift, idiot./

    The locks clacked undone as Nagi set his telekinesis to work and Schuldich didn't watch as he and Kudou let themselves in. They shut the door behind them and slowly made their way further into the room.

    "I didn't invite you," Schuldich said pointedly.

    "That's all right," Kudou answered easily. "Hey, nice room. Get good room service?"

    Schuldich shot him a hooded look for that. Looking back was a mistake. His gaze went from Kudou's face to their shoulders where they were almost touching and down the length of their arms to interlaced fingers. He felt that hit in his gut and he could feel his expression turning to stone.

    "Let go."

    "You did give him back to me," Nagi said quietly.

    "I said let the fuck go."

    "Does it bother you?" Kudou asked.

    "What the fuck do I care?" Schuldich retorted, wrenching his gaze away. "What do you want?"

    "We just want to talk to you about where to go from here."


    "We brought bandages," Nagi said. "Crawford said we'd need them."

    We we we we.

    He unwrapped the rag enough to see that his hand was still bleeding a little. He went to sit on the bed and held his hand out in a demand. Kudou and Nagi started his way as one and Schuldich forgot the bandages in favor of staring at their hands again. Nagi's fingers clenched tighter around Kudou's and Schuldich felt his jaws creak. The look he turned on Nagi could have melted lead. Nagi pretended not to see it and passed the bandages over.

    "Get out of arm's reach," Schuldich warned him in a low voice.

    "You can't land a blow on me," Nagi reminded him evenly.

    Schuldich didn't argue with that but started wrapping his hand. Kudou looked from him to the broken window. "What a mess, Schuldich," he commented. "You do realize that's going to be a bit hard to explain to the hotel staff, right?" Schuldich ignored him and concentrated on his injury. The pair gave up on small talk and got to the point. "Apparently your trigger has kicked in again."

    "What a pity," Schuldich said.

    "That's a bit harsh," Kudou said mildly.

    "Ask me if I care about hurting your feelings," Schuldich said. "The short answer is 'Not a chance in hell'."

    Kudou's hands settled lightly on Nagi's waist. Schuldich saw them move out of the corner of his eye and he couldn't stop himself from looking up. Nagi was propped against Kudou, letting the taller man support him, and Kudou's fingers curved easily over his hips.

    "Let go."

    "If you don't care, then what's it matter?"

    "Don't play this fucking game with me," Schuldich warned him. "I'm not in the mood. I told you to let the fuck go of him."

    "You said I could have him," Nagi pointed out.

    "I know what I said."

    "You said you never wanted to see him again."

    "Yet you brought him here anyway."

    "I wanted to see you one last time." Kudou offered him a lazy smile and slid his hands further around Nagi's waist. His thumbs skimmed down over the crotch of Nagi's jeans and Nagi leaned back harder against him. "I just wanted to thank you for finally getting out of my way."

    "*Fuck* you, Kudou."

    It was just a heated whisper, out of his mouth before he could stop it, and it effectively froze all three of them. Kudou's smile was instantly gone, replaced by something worlds more calculating. He'd expected that remark to hit home and now he was measuring just how deep it had gone. Nagi's expression was colored with regret and determination. Schuldich was the first to look away and he finished bandaging his hand with angry jerks.

    "I'm going to ask you again, Schuldich, what I asked you months ago," Nagi said quietly. "Which one of us are you angry at?"

    "Get out."

    "Both of us, right? Because we belong to you," Nagi insisted, searching his gaze. "That's what you think. Whether you can feel it or not, you think that we belong to you, so trigger or not, you can't stand us cheating on you with each other. But it's different now. You like us both, we both like you, and we like each other. Isn't that enough to make it work out right?"

    "Nagi," Schuldich snarled in warning, shooting his teammate a death glare.

    He forgot the rest of the words because Kudou was leaving a line of lazy kisses down Nagi's throat. Schuldich reacted in an instant, lurching forward out of pure instinct, but Nagi really was faster. His gift stopped Schuldich and forced him back to the bed, and Schuldich couldn't get up again. He tried four times and had to admit defeat with a string of nasty curses.

    Kudou feigned not to hear him, more interested in cupping Nagi's crotch with his hand. His other hand dragged up the teen's side and under his shirt, dragging cloth with it as he worshipped the skin there. Nagi's fingers slid up Kudou's arms to tangle in his hair and the boy arched against him with a quiet, contented sigh. Schuldich wrenched his gaze away, feeling a warning spike in his head.

    "Get the fuck out."

    He could still see them moving out of the corner of his eye, Kudou pulling Nagi harder up against him as he started working at clothed flesh, Nagi rolling back against him a slow, practiced move. Six fucking months of talking to each other, two months together, and they knew each other's bodies perfectly despite the seven weeks they'd been apart. Schuldich closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to see, but that didn't stop him from hearing Kudou murmur at Nagi's ears and Nagi's answering, quiet moan.

    "Nagi," he said through clenched teeth. "I'm going to fucking kill you."

    "Me or him?" Nagi asked, gasping on the last word as Kudou did something particularly effective. Another spike of white-hot pain jabbed through Schuldich's temple. "Am I taking him from you or is he taking you from me?"

    "I'm going to fucking kill both of you unless you get the fuck out of this room."

    Nagi's gift sealed over his chin and turned his head back, and Schuldich strained against it to no avail. Pressure against his forehead opened his eyes again. Nagi was facing Kudou now and they were turned sideways, with Nagi kissing his way across Kudou's chest. His gift was pulling at their shirts, multitasking between getting Kudou half-undressed and keeping Schuldich trapped in place. They were still locked together groin to groin and Nagi's face was flushed with pleasure and need.


    Schuldich opened his mouth for another death threat and an invisible finger just snapped it closed. Nagi didn't even have to look at him- probably didn't want to look at him, not when Kudou's eyes had that look in them. His gift relaxed against Schuldich's forehead, though, and Schuldich was quick to shut his eyes again.

    It didn't really help. He could still see them in his mind, tangled together so perfectly. He could see Kudou's mouth on his gun and feel Nagi in his lap and he remembered beds and Kudou's door and Nagi's kiss in the car and that bathroom rendezvous. Nagi gasped again and this time Kudou groaned, low in his throat like he did when he'd really been touched right.

    STOP IT.

    "Yohji—" Nagi choked out.

    Kudou was leaving ragged little promises on Nagi's skin, almost too raw to understand, and Schuldich remembered the feel of his lips along Schuldich's ear. Never the same promise twice; Kudou had too much of an imagination for that.

    The headache was quickly getting worse, leaving Schuldich feeling dizzy and nauseous. His heart seemed to have migrated up to right behind his eyes and it was pounding there. He tasted bile and choked on it, struggling to force it down.

    /Nagi, STOP it./

    Nagi answered with images instead of words, mouths on mouths and skin on skin and writhing against bed sheets in need and lust. Nagi arching up into Kudou's touch, mouth open on a desperate sound; Kudou completely helpless against Nagi's gift as Nagi tried to integrate it into their passionate games. Schuldich jerked his gift back hard enough that he saw spots on his eyelids.



    Kudou's response was worse, sharpened with the reality of it all, a hundred memories and promises they'd made real in his apartment. Gasping for breath, unable to breathe, watching Kudou's face twist as Schuldich's fingers sought out every weak spot on his body.


    "Did you know, Schuldich?" Nagi asked breathlessly, struggling to get the words out. "Crawford told me that in every other situation where a telepath fell for someone, they reassigned that teammate unless the precognitive was strong enough to take care of things. Do you know why?"

    "Telepaths kill anyone who sleeps with their chosen one," Kudou finished. "Are you going to kill me, Schuldich?"

    Images of lust immediately turned to blood, Kudou's throat slit to soak the bed they'd used so many times. Right behind it were images of Nagi in the same situation. The bloody visions hit just as hard as their cruel game did and Schuldich choked against it. Agony jabbed its way down his skull, all the way down onto his spine, and lashed out with his gift again, not knowing which one of them he was talking to.

    /Let go of him!/


    "Answer us," Nagi demanded, and his gift wrenched back from Schuldich.

    Schuldich moved on instinct, not even realizing he was free to move until he was already off the bed and between them. His hands slammed into their chests, throwing them back away from each other, and they didn't even try to resist. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears, but louder than that was his ragged breathing. He drew his hands back only to knot them in his hair, staring through the floor and completely oblivious to their heavy stares.

    His gift hurt like it had never hurt before, not even when he'd almost fallen through Kudou's head. Schuldich could barely breathe around it. Each one he sucked in felt like it was going to tear his chest open and he crouched because he didn't think he could keep standing. Fingernails drew blood from his scalp and his entire body shuddered.

    Two hands moved into his line of sight. "Which one of us are you going to take?" Nagi asked softly. Schuldich turned his head away, swallowing hard against agony and dizziness. "Schuldich. Are you listening?"

    "I'm not taking him from you," they said at the same time, quiet but determined.

    Schuldich shoved himself to his feet, not ready to be upright yet but needing to get away from them. His legs didn't hold him up and he stumbled against Kudou. The man was quick to steady him and he eased Schuldich back to the bed. Schuldich attempted to fight with little success, and then Kudou's hand was covering his eyes and pushing his head back down towards the mattress.

    The darkness was the last trigger his mind needed, and the room slipped away in an instant.


    Schuldich was still in bed when he woke up again, but he wasn't alone. Two bodies were pressed up against him, one on either side, with Nagi fitted snugly up against his chest and Kudou at his back. Schuldich blinked, trying to get his sluggish mind to start working. It took a couple tries. He expected pain to come with consciousness, but it failed to register.

    "I'm the one paying for this bed, but you're the ones using it," he slurred. "I see a problem with this." They shifted at the sound of his voice and Schuldich gazed past Nagi's dark hair towards the far wall. He was certain it had been much brighter in here just a few seconds ago. "What time is it?"

    "Close to eight," Nagi answered. "Schuldich?"


    Nagi shifted on the bed, dragging himself up the mattress until he could consider Schuldich eye-to-eye. Schuldich gazed fuzzily back at him, not really understanding why Nagi was looking at him so carefully. At length he grew bored of it and let his eyes slide closed again, and he drifted back off.

    It wasn't much darker when he woke up again, a sign he hadn't been out for long. He felt coherent this time, at least enough to realize that there was something wrong with being in bed with both of them. He started to push himself up, but they sat up as soon as he did. He arched an eyebrow at Nagi before glancing back at Kudou.

    "Tell me you haven't seriously been laying here for seven hours waiting on me to get up again."

    "For the most part," Kudou answered easily. "Nagi was right; it's a little creepy watching how you jump back from arguments when your trigger's in the fray."


    "Yeah, like that."

    Fingers on his face effectively drew his attention back to Nagi. The telekinetic studied him for a few seconds before leaning in, and it didn't occur to Schuldich to lean back. Nagi's kiss was close-mouthed and cautious, testing the waters between them. When Schuldich didn't fight, Nagi lingered, but at length he drew back.

    "Schuldich?" Nagi asked carefully.

    "Are you starting to get weird again?" Schuldich returned.

    "You didn't stop me," Nagi pointed out.

    Schuldich considered that, curious. "Am I supposed to?"

    Schuldich didn't recognize the look that settled on Nagi's face. "No," the telekinetic told him quietly. "No, you're not." Both hands came up to his face even as his gift skimmed down over Schuldich's arms and Nagi kissed him again. This one was a little stronger, wanting to push for more but apparently afraid to hit a brick wall. Schuldich warred between amusement over his teammate's hesitance and the need to pull free. He reached up and pressed his hand against Nagi's chest, not pushing him away just yet but making it clear that he would.

    The tip of a tongue flicked out against his lips, tracing the line between them in an invitation, and Schuldich opened his mouth. Nagi immediately forgot about being careful in favor of kissing Schuldich with everything he had. Schuldich allowed it for a few moments before pushing Nagi back, though the fingers that clenched in his hair protested being dismissed like that.

    Kudou's hands traced their way down his sides and onto his thighs. Schuldich looked down at them, considering the way they looked against his pants. Tangled sheets and watching movies on Nagi's bed and poking around all of the city's vegetarian restaurants…

    "You missed it," Nagi told Schuldich. "What Crawford was trying to say to you. He told you all it took was one more blow and your trigger would give way."

    "So here's your choice," Kudou said, tracing circles on his denim. A drop of blood had dried against the blue cloth from earlier and Kudou pressed his thumb down onto it. "Either you can choose to back away again, or you can choose to let us teach you what your trigger wouldn't let you. It's not quite back at square one, so it's bound to be easier this time. Are you willing to try?"

    "Pffft. For your retarded asses? I don't see a whole lot of incentive."

    "Give us one minute," Kudou offered in a lazy drawl as his fingers tightened meaningfully on Schuldich's legs. "That's all it would take us to change your mind."

    Schuldich flicked a look over his shoulder, amused by the other man's arrogance. "You have thirty seconds," he said.

    The words were barely out of his mouth when they were moving, attacking from both sides. Four hands and two mouths and telekinesis were rather formidable enemies and Schuldich wasn't quite prepared for it. Teeth nipped, lips worshipped, and fingers dragged out every ounce of sensation they could. Nagi's gift worked down under his clothes where their hands couldn't reach, teasing a line up from the backs of his knees to ass with an accuracy he must have won through a lot of practice on Kudou. Kudou was more interested at teasing his front, working at his thighs and crotch, and Nagi worked his way up and down Schuldich's chest.

    Kudou knotted a hand in his hair, moving it up out of the way so he could nibble his way down Schuldich's neck, and Nagi pressed kiss after kiss against Schuldich's mouth. The nothing-to-everything lurch in sensation was almost obscene enough to be a complete turn-off, but the need they put into their touches salvaged it from being too much.

    Schuldich twisted his head to break the kiss. "That's thirty seconds," he got out.

    Nagi answered by slipping his gift up inside of Schuldich, aiming straight for the spot Kudou had taught him with his fingers just a week and a half ago. Schuldich jerked against their grip with a startled, strangled curse, and Nagi and Kudou went perfectly still.

    "Well?" Kudou asked, sounding more than a little smug.

    Schuldich flicked his gift that way to tell Kudou exactly what he thought of him, but hesitated when he found the tone of Kudou's thoughts to be completely opposite to his voiced confidence. A peek forward showed that same hopeful anxiety in Nagi as well. He forgot what he'd been going to say.

    He found new ones instead. "You do realize that if I say yes to this that we'll be listening to Brad I-Know-Everything Crawford for weeks."

    "You two will. I don't live there."

    "Astounding sympathy on your part, Kudou."

    Kudou grinned against his shoulder. Schuldich glanced back at him but paused at the sight of black ink. He could only see the edge of Kudou's intricate tattoo from where he was, but he'd seen it enough times over the last few weeks that he knew it by heart. Even still, he was content to stare back at its black outlines as he thought.

    'When you gonna learn?' it asked him.

    ~Well,~ he supposed, ~today seems as good a day as any.~

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