SYN: When You Gonna Learn?

Part Eight

      It took Schuldich five hours of wandering around aimlessly before he ended up at Pandora's, and he found Farfarello waiting for him there. The absence of any drinks told Schuldich that the psychopath hadn't been waiting long and he cursed everything about Crawford's power. He had half a mind to just turn around and go back outside but his feet carried him over to one of the empty stools to his teammate's right. The bartender came over to take their orders and neither said anything until they'd been handed their first drinks.

      "Slow night?" Schuldich asked, and he gave himself a mental point for sounding so casual about it.

      "Something happened," Farfarello said, flicking his fingers at Schuldich.

      "What, Crawford didn't tell you it all already?"

      Farfarello offered him a bland look. "I didn't ask him," he said.

      Schuldich said nothing to that until he'd finished his first drink. Farfarello took his empty glass away and considered the two as if trying to figure out what architectural wonder to construct tonight. Schuldich glanced at his watch and grimaced at the time. It was half past nine by now and he was quickly running out of daytime hours. He waved at the bartender and ignored the considering look Farfarello turned on him as best he could. He lasted about five minutes, long enough to get his drink and empty it again.

      "Nagi is a blackmailing ass," Schuldich spoke up at last.

      Farfarello arched an eyebrow at him and took his cup. "Who blackmails the Mastermind?"

      "It's complicated," Schuldich muttered. "I don't want to talk about it."

      "You always like to talk," Farfarello pointed out.

      "I don't want to talk about *this*," Schuldich insisted, cradling his third drink close. "If I drink enough, I won't care, anyway."

      "Mm," Farfarello answered noncommittally.

      It took Schuldich five drinks and Farfarello three before Schuldich could guess that Farfarello was making a pagoda. He had six shots sitting in front of him waiting to be emptied so they could be added to it and Schuldich half-wondered if he was seeing things. Idly he decided they spent too much time in here if Farfarello knew such idiotic tricks, or maybe Farfarello had learned them back before he had Crawford to screw in his free time. Things got really boring without jobs around.

      "Nagi is an ass," Schuldich said again. "Crawford is a useless bastard. Rosenkreuz is full of twisted annoying bastards, and you…" He turned on Farfarello and Farfarello gazed back, waiting for Schuldich's assessment. Schuldich wasn't sure how genuine that amusement was, though, and he didn't know if Farfarello would hit him for whatever he was going to say. He wasn't sure what he changed it to was any better, but it was enough. "And you're sleeping with Crawford."

      "Have been," Farfarello noted.

      "Why?" Schuldich demanded. Farfarello just gazed back at him and Schuldich scrubbed at his mouth with the side of his hand. "Why?" he wanted to know. "How do you look at a person and say 'I could sleep with that'?"

      "I don't have a trigger," Farfarello answered.

      Schuldich scowled at him. "You knew about it?" he demanded. "Everyone knew about it but me?"

      Farfarello lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "I noticed. I asked."

      "You mean it's obvious."

      "That you're clueless?"

      "Farfarello, I've had enough to drink that I'm willing to take a shot at you."

      "Nagi said not to let you get drunk," Farfarello told him.

      "Fuck Nagi."

      "Is that it?"

      "Is that what?"

      "The problem," Farfarello answered, more patient than Schuldich expected after three drinks and five of his six shots. Pale fingers took apart his construction and he started it over again with the little glasses to make it better. It made Schuldich's head spin to watch. "He's coming."



      Schuldich choked on his drink. "*What*?"

      Farfarello eyed him. "Why?"

      "Mind your own damned business," Schuldich snapped at him, and he finished off the last of his drink. "Don't you think you should have said something earlier? I wouldn't have hung out around here if I'd known that slimy rat was on his way."

      Farfarello lifted a finger and pointed over his shoulder, and Schuldich turned on his stool to see Kudou standing a few feet away. The other assassin looked amused and pulled his hands free of his pockets to join them behind his neck. "Rat, huh?" he asked. "I'm actually a Rabbit, but… Details, details."

      "You invited him?" Farfarello asked Schuldich, and Schuldich took a great bit of satisfaction in the way Kudou's smile faltered a little as Farfarello glanced back at him. Kudou could act as careless as he wanted around Nagi and Schuldich, but Farfarello was a different matter entirely.

      "You think I would?" Schuldich retorted.

      "He's here," Farfarello pointed out.

      "That's not my fault," Schuldich answered.

      "Technically…" Kudou started, and he let it hang in the air between them. "Nagi said you were coming over for a sleepover tonight."

      There went Farfarello's eyebrow again. Schuldich made a note to find out how he did it one of these days. He glared at Farfarello. "Did Crawford tell you he was coming?"

      Farfarello pointed at his glasses. "Reflection," he said simply.

      "I hate you."

      Farfarello just shrugged and Schuldich turned his back on Kudou. The Balinese didn't come any closer, not suicidal enough to get within Farfarello's reach, though Schuldich thought it pretty stupidly brave of him for even getting this close. Farfarello could outrun him easy; Kudou probably had about two blocks before he had to find a car or he was toast. This was a guess, though. Schuldich had never been stupid enough to run away from Farfarello. It was much better to just get hit and get it over with than to pump up the madman's adrenaline and annoyance by running.

      Schuldich started to lift his hand to call the bartender over, but Farfarello caught his hand and flattened it to the counter. Schuldich frowned at him and Farfarello offered him an unreadable look. ~He said not to let you get drunk,~ Farfarello sent at him. ~Why is he here?~

      /Farfarello, I have my gun on me. Let go./

      ~I have my knives,~ Farfarello pointed out.

      /Fuck you./

      ~Weiss?~ Farfarello asked.

      /I don't want to talk about it./

      ~Why Weiss?~ Farfarello demanded.

      /That's none of your business. You didn't care that Nagi was screwing Weiss, so you don't have the right to give a damn what I do./

      Farfarello gave him a look that said he was stupid and Schuldich jerked his hand away. He was keenly aware of Kudou still watching them, looking fascinated by the obvious silent argument going on between them, and he hated the feel of that man's eyes on him. That thought just triggered the eyes that had been staring at him this afternoon and he felt his skin crawl with an odd heat at the memory of Kudou's promise.

      ~Why Weiss?~ Farfarello demanded again, smacking Schuldich's hand against the counter a second time. ~He belongs to Nagi.~

      /He can't have Nagi,/ Schuldich snapped at him without thinking, and Farfarello didn't answer. Schuldich could feel himself recoiling away from that heated rejoinder and he stared blankly at Farfarello, forgetting that the Irishman was there, forgetting that Kudou was waiting to take him home.

      ~That doesn't make any sense,~ he told himself. ~That doesn't make any sense. He offered earlier and I felt nothing.~

      He felt dizzy and sick and glanced over at Kudou again, staring blankly at the other man. Honey hair and green eyes and all dark promise and heat, and he could feel his stomach curling in memory of what had happened in that office. But Nagi earlier had been offering everything and Schuldich had felt nothing outside of uneasiness with such a blunt confession and need.

      'Which one of us were you mad at, Schuldich?'

      Why was Nagi such a blank spot?

      ~Go back home,~ Farfarello insisted. ~You can't do this.~

      /You said that last time,/ Schuldich told him absently, still staring at Kudou.

      ~You ended up here last time.~

      /Farfarello…/ Schuldich looked over at his teammate. /Crawford didn't tell Nagi everything about that trigger. He left something out. You go home and find out what it was. I don't care what you have to do, but you make him figure out what he left out./

      ~You do it,~ Farfarello sent back at him.

      But Schuldich was already sliding off of his stool and he swallowed against the trickle of nausea in his stomach. /No. Go home and do that for me, Farf? I'll be back at sunrise./

      ~You're being stupid,~ Farfarello warned him. ~You know it's a trigger now. You won't be able to ignore it this time.~

      'I can be glad that it was him because you looked afraid of him today.'

      'Schuldich? Don't be afraid of me.'

      "Ready?" Kudou asked, offering him a slow smile. Above the promises in that smile was a *knowing* in those eyes and Schuldich wanted to gouge the green orbs out. The Balinese didn't wait on Schuldich but turned and started for the door. Schuldich didn't look back at Farfarello but forced himself to follow. He thought he heard glasses shattering as he stepped outside but Kudou was waiting on him and a hand came up to the back of his neck. He lurched back a little from the grip and the other man gave him a moment to process just whose hand it was. Then Kudou was leaning in to press a kiss to his lips. Schuldich went tense beneath it and he planted a hand against Kudou's chest, pushing him away.

      Kudou laughed by his ear. "Nervous?"

      "I'm not your fucking conquest," Schuldich informed him.

      "Let's go," Kudou said, sounding amused. "I've been thinking about you ever since Nagi called me this afternoon to say you were coming."

      "Your loyalty is astounding."

      "About as mind-blowing as you picking me over him, I'm sure, but Nagi didn't come to me because I'm loyal. You know by now why he picked me, don't you?"

      "Are we talking or having sex?" Schuldich wanted to know.

      "We're multitasking." Kudou pulled free of him and started off, and Schuldich lingered for just a moment more before following. Kudou's car was parked down the street and it was a short drive back to the Koneko. A light was on upstairs but no kittens were out and about, so Kudou led Schuldich up the stairs to his room. He opened the door and stepped in first, holding the door open for Schuldich, and Schuldich locked a smooth expression on his face as he stepped through.

      Kudou pushed the door shut and stepped behind him, lacing an arm around Schuldich's waist. Schuldich pushed it free, hating the proprietary feel.

      "Trust me," Kudou told him.

      "Like hell," Schuldich retorted, feeling his lips curve into a smirk for the first time in hours.

      "Do you know why he let you come to me?" Kudou wanted to know. Schuldich ignored him, eyeing the room. It was messy and smelled of coffee and cigarettes. "Because I know what I'm doing. Because I know about your trigger."

      Schuldich had already known that Nagi had told Kudou, but hearing it from the man's own mouth just had him grinding a layer off his teeth. It wasn't anyone's business but his, and maybe Schwarz's by extension. The thought of one of Weiss knowing that Rosenkreuz had specifically programmed him not to solicit sex was mildly humiliating and a great deal more annoying. He started to step forward into the apartment but Kudou caught him again, moving up behind him. This time Schuldich forced himself not to push him away, but the line of heat around his middle and against his back was hovering uncertainly on the line between unsettling and welcome.

      "He let you come to me because if he'd tried to sleep with you today, if you'd let him try, he would have stopped. If you'd started to pull away and struggle, he'd have stopped. Listen to me, Schuldich."

      "You're kind of hard to ignore," Schuldich pointed out, letting ice color his words. "Your voice is annoying."

      "I'm not going to stop," Kudou promised him. "You'll like it whether you want it or not. You'll like it whether your trigger wants it or not."

      "Shut up."

      "You're not struggling," Kudou noticed. "Does it really mean that much to you to last until dawn here?"

      "I told you to shut up."

      "A few days ago you were the cockiest bastard this side of the world," Kudou told him in a low drawl. "Not so sure of yourself now, are you?"

      Schuldich elbowed him as hard as he could and heard Kudou's grunt of pain at his ear. In the next second a hand had caught him between the legs and teeth bit down on the side of his throat. Schuldich twisted his head away with a curse and Kudou laughed against the back of his neck. "Don't start the night with violence, Schuldich," the Balinese warned him. "You've got a long time 'til dawn."

      They fought their way over to the bed, Kudou pushing him there and Schuldich struggling because he had to. He wasn't really sure what he'd do if he got away because the deal said he had to stay here and he'd chosen to come here when Farfarello offered to lay Kudou flat for him. It was just like Kudou had said: Nagi didn't have what it took to break this trigger. Nagi cared too much and Nagi couldn't use his gift in this sort of situation. Kudou hadn't cared last time and he'd care less this time around, and the fraying logical part of Schuldich's mind understood that. The rest of him was locked onto the revelation that sex was a white noise and seen as dangerous by Rosenkreuz.

      'He can't have Nagi.'

      Anger and fear, bitterness and uneasiness; the tangled emotions tasted sour on his tongue and then Kudou's mouth was on his, forcing his lips apart, and he only tasted Kudou. Kudou tasted like cigarettes. Schuldich guessed he tasted like alcohol. There were hands sliding down his back to the butt of his jeans and fingers dug in through the material, pulling Schuldich flush up against the other man's body. Heat, pure heat, and a bit of hardness that said Kudou was already ready to go. It made Schuldich's stomach lurch; it did funny things to his gut.

      "I'm not going to hurt you," Kudou murmured by his ear, just a second before leaving a second set of teeth marks on Schuldich's throat. This time it didn't hurt, maybe because every nerve ending Schuldich had seemed to be concentrated quite a bit further down on his body. A tongue lapped against fresh indents and that got some attention, and Schuldich just wished he knew what he was supposed to be doing with his hands. "Nagi would kill me."

      "I'm going to kill you as soon as Crawford gives the okay," Schuldich informed him.

      "Is that your idea of sex talk?" Kudou asked him, amused. "Blood and death?"

      "Is Nagi yours?" was the easy rejoinder.

      "Touché." Kudou caught at his shoulders and shoved him down, and Schuldich grabbed at him automatically before he realized he'd been knocked down to the edge of the bed. Kudou laughed at him for the instinctive reaction and Schuldich kicked him in the shin as hard as he could. The grimace and curse it wrought from Kudou made it worth it and did a little to balance the growing "Shit shit shit" that was running in circles in his mind.

      "Don't encourage me to use my teeth," Kudou warned him.

      "You already have," Schuldich pointed out.

      Kudou blinked down at him, looking a little exasperated, and Schuldich hated being stared down at by one of Weiss. Kudou seemed to take the hint from his glare and lowered himself down, but he ended up on the floor in front of Schuldich on his knees.

      Schuldich remembered finding Farfarello "napping" under Crawford's desk and he planted a hand against Kudou's head and shoved. "No," he said flatly.

      Kudou pushed his hand away and offered him a lazy smile. Schuldich's hand faltered on the way for another shove and he swallowed at the look in those eyes. Hooded green eyes and a mouth moving along the length of his gun in a promise…

      "You know you want it," Kudou informed him, and he reached forward to pop the button on Schuldich's pants. "Just hold onto my sheets. I'd offer my hair but I don't want you ripping it out. I just got it done yesterday."

      "Fuck off and die." Schuldich inched back on the bed and Kudou caught at his hips to still him. His mind was telling him to screw the deal with Nagi and get out of here, and if Nagi wanted to waste his time with a Weiss that was his own miserable decision to make. Common sense said that this was all a big mistake and Schuldich almost bit the tip of his tongue off as he struggled against such thoughts. How was a telepath supposed to fight his trigger once he knew it was there? He was warring against mental programming. How did one fight that?

      "Listen to me," Kudou insisted.

      "No," Schuldich said flatly, and he switched his gaze elsewhere because he didn't want Kudou to see the struggle in his eyes.

      Kudou pulled at his pants and Schuldich didn't remember moving, he just felt skin beneath his hand and his palm stung at the impact. Kudou's head was turned from the blow and Schuldich curled his fingers into a fist, tucking his hand in close to his chest. He didn't feel a mite bit guilty for the blow but he didn't like that he hadn't had any control over it. It was kind of interesting watching Kudou's face color red, though.

      It was a long minute before Kudou looked back and his face was calm. "I told you to listen."

      "I told you no."

      "If you hit me again, I'm going to tie you down."

      "Don't fucking threaten me."

      "Don't hit me."

      "Don't touch me."

      "Don't be so ridiculous."

      "Stop saying 'don't.'"

      "How much more childish can you sound?" Kudou wanted to know. "I'm trying to help here, don't you get it?"

      "Your generosity astounds me."

      "Hiding behind sarcasm and witty remarks again?"

      "Always," Schuldich answered with a lazy smirk of his own.

      Kudou brushed his hair out of his face. His cheek was definitely red already. It made Schuldich wonder just how hard he'd hit the man, and he cursed the fact that this situation was too unsettling for such a blow to be therapeutic. Violence fixed everything- except sex, it seemed, and useless telepathic triggers. He watched as Kudou poked gingerly at his cheek and his smirk widened a little at the other's wince. Blue eyes slid past the other man's face to the door and he wondered if Kudou had locked it.

      "You want to leave?" Kudou asked. "He'll know whether or not you stay for this."

      "Who asked you?" Schuldich sent at him. Without Kudou touching him he could feel a bit of calm coming back to his thoughts and it was easy to work up a bored tone. It didn't erase the heat he could feel radiating off of the other, though, and it was burning him through his jeans.

      "Fine," Kudou said. "You hit me again, and you're leaving. How does that sound to you?"

      Schuldich stifled the first careless retort that came to mind and eyed Kudou, smooth façade cracking a little. Kudou just stared back up at him, waiting for some sort of response, but Schuldich lasted longer than he did and Kudou had to break the silence again. "I'm being dead serious here," the white assassin told him. "If you hit me again, it's over. If you don't think you can stop yourself from hitting me, either you lock into my mind with that gift of yours or you're going to get your hands attached to my headboard with some rope. Make up your mind as to which choice you want to use as a last resort."

      "You're off your rocker if you think I'll agree to either of those choices."

      "You listened in on me last time," Kudou pointed out.

      "White noise," Schuldich heard himself say. Kudou tilted his head to one side in a question but his stare was unrelenting and intense, a far cry from the amused invitation that had glittered there a short minute ago. Schuldich didn't want to explain himself because it wasn't the other man's business, but Nagi had already explained most of his gift, anyway. Kudou just couldn't put it together right now to find out what he meant. "Telepaths can't hold onto a mind for more than a few seconds. They get lost. I only needed a couple seconds last time." He didn't have to say that this was going to take more than a couple seconds, which was good, because he didn't want to hear it out loud between them. "I'm not listening to you."

      Kudou considered that for a few moments and then pushed himself to his feet. Schuldich watched as he went over to the nightstand and pulled open the drawer, and silk and velvet hissed together as Kudou pulled black ropes free. He held them out in an offering, saying nothing else, but the silence and the look on his face was enough. It was those ropes or the door, because Schuldich knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself from lashing out again. He was pretty sure his stomach turned itself inside out at the sight of those strings, though.

      ~Fuck you, Nagi. I'm going to break this trigger if only to figure out why I'm trying so hard to break it in the first place.~

      "Whatever," he muttered, and he held his hands out.

Part 9
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