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19 May 2007 @ 06:58 pm
Youji Takes One for the Team  
Place: Koneko no Sumu Ie
Date: Tuesday August 22, 2006

Go see Thorsten. Sure, go see him. Go see his green hair and his no underpants and his art. Go and see him and ask him how he was doing and if he was really a psychopathic mind reader. Because that would go over well, and because Omi would just smile and nod and let him go without an issue. There would be no breach of trust, no real problems to be faced when he told Omi that he had gone to see Thorsten and found out that he really was Schuldig.

Found out that Schuldig had somehow become mentally impaired and was now stupid, careless and easily distracted by men in tight pants.

What did he gain from this? (What was he gaining by not going? Anger. Frustration, enough loss of control to blow an innocent light fixture all to hell, and cut open Ken's face. Enough loss of judgment to be throwing around vegetative state patients' belongings in a hospital, right in front of cameras and hallways full of witnesses.)

Worked the morning in the shop--Ken was supposed to be in there with Youji, but Ken had a headache still. (Another one, that wasn't normal, but given the circumstances--) Omi had to go to school and Nagi was available. And he didn't mind, would have made the offer himself if he hadn't been asked first.

(Except now they've seen you lose control and how are they supposed to handle that. What are they thinking happened between you and Schuldig, exactly? All your protesting about his attraction to Youji and your claims that he was too smart. Seems suspicious. Seems almost jealous.)

It wasn't a slow day at the shop, either. If there had been mercy in the world, it would have been a slow day. A few customers, some fan girls in the morning, and quiet until the afternoon when the school let out again and they had to explain to eighteen different heartbroken girls why Ken wasn't there to giggle at. But the world had no mercy and by the time that Omi got there after his class at noon; they were behind on deliveries and still trying to catch up new orders despite having not gotten another customer since ten.

Horrible. Fucking. Day.

Hot and sticky and miserable and he'd flooded the moped's engine this morning and had to take the subway, during rush hour, squished between a sweaty salary man who used way too much cologne and a junior high school girl with a creepy smile. That she used on him. Repeatedly.

Should have stayed in bed, Tsukiyono.

And he should have, what with the lack of sleep lately because Weiss could not possibly ever have a normal fucking day. It was always girls going into comas or former enemies rising from the dead, dying their hair green and sleeping with an otherwise straight teammate, sickos stealing people's eyeballs, or the aforementioned coma-ed girl trying to escape her hospital bed while still coma-ed.

And coming home to a telekinetically blown-out light bulb and Ken with his face cut open. That was icing on the cake, really.

Nagi was alone in the flower shop when Omi got home, Momoe minding the outside displays and Youji just pulling in with the delivery truck. Omi left them in the heat to escape into the store, marvelously air conditioned and suspiciously free of customers.

He tossed his bag into the storeroom and grabbed his apron, slung it around his neck before reaching below the counter for the plate of onigiri habitually left there when lunch breaks seemed unlikely. Held one in his mouth while tying the apron and reading over the delivery schedule.

Dammit, the day couldn't get any better. And Nagi, still there behind the counter and staring straight ahead with enough force and tension to bend steel. He hadn't had a good day either.

Nagi looked over at Omi, stared at him absently for a moment, seeing him in some part of his mind. Tired, darkness under his eyes, stiffness to his shoulders, food sticking out of his mouth and a somewhat disbelieving depressed stare at the delivery list.

(And this isn't going to make his day any better.)

"Omi," Nagi said, quietly. Had spent too long thinking about this, and obsessions were dangerous things. Ignoring it, pretending that it wasn't as heavy a weight on his back as it was--and that wasn't fooling anyone. Not after last night, there had to be a way to resolve this and Youji had handed it to him on a little slip of a paper with his suggestion to disobey a direct order. "I'm going to see Thorsten Lange."

For a moment, Omi pretended he hadn't heard that. And in the meantime, wondered if he could continue pretending until eventually, after some undetermined time, this conversation would no longer exist. Thirty seconds later, though, he realized he would actually have to address that statement.

It was a statement, after all, all in six-foot neon letters the unspoken sentence of "I am now going to disobey you, thanks for your time." What was Omi going to do about it, anyway? Stop him? Tell him no? Sweep up his own exploded head off the shop floor afterwards?

But, his mind helpfully supplied, you never said Nagi couldn't go see him, just that he couldn't go alone.

And there was the solution, right there, backing the shop door open with an armload of empty delivery crates. Could save himself from both an untimely telekinetic death and from the shame of a kohai's disobedience all in one fell swoop.

"Okay," he said around the edges of the rice in his mouth, finally biting off the end of the onigiri and taking it in hand. "Take Youji with you."

Nagi wasn't sure what he expected. Or had not expected anything at all, really. It wasn't a question, and Omi hadn't treated it like one. He hadn't liked it--saw that in his eyes, as he worked over the problem--and he'd found a nice and easy way around the core of the problem.

He nodded; yes, that was fine. Might be interesting to see what Youji was going to do, or what Thorsten would. "Youji and I are off tomorrow in the afternoon, we'll go then." Then he turned his attention back to the arrangement he had been preparing to start.

Place: Thorsten's Studio in Ginza
Date: Wednesday August 23, 2006

The cat was sleeping, curled up on the desk in the back corner of the studio. Kind of cute when it was asleep, just a tiger-striped fur ball far too small to be considered a proper animal. (And wasn’t that what the woman had said when she sold the cat. It’s a runt, not worth much to anyone.) Thorsten considered grabbing it by the ruff and tossing it out the door, wondered if it would have the happy fortune of getting run over—but then, probably not. Might offend some of those people milling around outside the glass into leaving; otherwise nothing positive would come of it.

Thorsten rubbed at the paint on the back of his elbow, some shade of red that hadn’t worked out like it was supposed to. Not dark enough (not enough like blood, fresh from an artery.) Had stopped working on that painting, it wasn’t turning out like he wanted it to, blamed it on the fact that there was sun outside and he was sober. (Mostly, had already broken open a beer or two, and that didn’t seem to be making the necessary difference.)

Heard the door chime when it opened, looked up—felt the cat lifting its head like a shiver down his spine.

(Hell, you must have a fantastic ass, the straight boy came back—and brought a little friend. )

Now that didn’t make sense, even if Youji wasn’t technically as straight as he said he was, he seemed more than passingly freaked out when he dashed out the door.

(Maybe your sex appeal has a time release on it. )

No way in hell this was some kind of crazy coincidence.

“Change your mind about the heterosexual bit, then? Or is this an example of one of those gay guys you told me I could find so easily?”

And it really was an art studio, after all.

Seemed hard to countenance it, really. Hard to believe that any version of Schuldig, even a green-haired, underpantless, flaming gay wonder version, would actually want to sit down and paint: it simply seemed too benign, too entirely ordinary for the special Schwarz. It seemed even less believable that he'd be so keen on it, and so good at it, that he'd set up professionally and do it right: the brightly lit gallery with the pin spots and the glass front, the sweep of the blond wood floor. The paintings.

Oh yeah. Them. Saw Schuldig (Thorsten? Thordig? Schusten?) out of the corner of his eye, moving toward them - he barely registered. Youji hesitated in front of the first of the canvases, an abstract, competently but unremarkably executed. Dark oils, applied to the canvas in a seemingly slapdash fashion. A picture, seemingly, of nothing at all, or of nothing more complex than chaos: yet that wasn't it. That wasn't it at all. There was a method to it, a pattern. Something beneath the surface that Youji couldn't define, couldn't explain. He could only experience it, and know that it made him uncomfortable.

He had to wonder who in the world would want to put one of these on the living-room wall.

(It wasn't just the paintings. There was something else odd about this, something off. The smears of oils on Schuldig's exposed arms, and all over his god-awful clothes; the cat curled up on the desk... The camouflage was simply too good.)

And then there was the way Schuldig spoke, the look in his eyes: a look that would have been perfectly at home on Ken's face, yet was disturbingly wrong on Schuldig's. The man was bewildered, and desperately trying to hide it. It might even have worked, if he hadn't been--

Hadn't been talking to an assassin. (But shouldn't he know that?)

Shouldn't Schuldig have recognized him? Recognized both of them?

Nagi. Wide, grave eyes, clenched fists, unsure where to put himself, or even where he should be looking. His gaze flickered between the Not-Schuldig and the canvases, and the fuzzy ball of cat curled up on the desk, its tail lazily twitching and could he even claim to surprise? If I think this is wrong, Youji thought, what the Hell must it be doing to Nagi? And what could he ever say to this guy to explain the way the kid was behaving round him?

Youji turned from the canvas, as if surprised to see him there. "No, I'm afraid not. He's - well, we work together. He's seen your work on the Internet, bought a couple of your prints, and once he found out we'd..." Momentary hesitation there, not at all deliberate. Jesus but this was awkward. Ken would have been laughing - that or he'd have hit him. "Ah, met - he insisted I bring him to the studio."

Smooth. Oh, smooth.

But it wasn't supposed to be easy. Schuldig, for whatever reason, was playing with them: all that Youji could do was play along.

And what the hell was he supposed to say now: ‘Oh, Mr. Lange I love your work, sign my ass please?’ Of all the things that Youji could have made him into, a fan boy was by far the least convincing. It was, of course, a stupid decision to walk into the studio without a lie already prepared; or a stupider one to try to lie if they really thought this—person—was Schuldig.

The same person who was tilting his head far too much to the right and sliding his hands into the back pockets of (where those yellow or hideously stained) pants. Paint on his neck from his ear to his shoulder.

This wasn’t Schuldig. This studio, this art, that damn cat lifting its head back there and wasn’t it so disgusting small and cute that Momoe and the fan girls would have been cooing over it for days? Schuldig had a standing dislike of animals or of anything that he believed was beneath him and that meant everything—

Then there was the: “Really?” Dripping with all the implication in the world. Too soft in tone, and too—fuck, it wasn’t Schuldig. It wasn’t how he would have said it. Wasn’t how he would have looked at him.

(Troubling thing with Schuldig, you never could tell if he was looking at you with interest because he wanted to kiss you or because he wanted to twist your brain into a knot and laugh while you danced in circles.)

“Yes,” Nagi said. (And if he’d been Omi, he would have blushed. But he wasn’t and he couldn’t blush on command.) Couldn’t think of anything else to add onto that, couldn’t stand to look at Thorsten—the green hair, green eyebrows, the whatever-color-that-was shirt that made his skin look pasty. (Half wanted to ask Youji: ‘You slept with this?’)

And just like that Thorsten didn’t really care about him, didn’t want to ask him why he was a fan, what prints he bought, or discuss his own greatness. Had no interest in someone stroking his ego (and that’s not like Schuldig at all) turned his head back to Youji and looked at him. Blatant, that look, all heavy with the ‘yeah I’d do you again.’ “Given your state of proclaimed heterosexuality I didn’t think your first reaction to fucking me would be to run out and tell your coworkers. Should I feel like a cheap slut?”

And then a crease in his eyebrows, a sort of twitch—he almost turned his head (to see what? All there was, was that cat), and seemed to catch himself—stopped and stared solidly at Youji.

"What can I say?" Recovering his composure. It didn't do to look ruffled. Get it together. Be cool, keep it together. Be, in other words, yourself. Youji granted Schuldig a wide, expansive grin, a grin which would have been almost the twin of the German's own, were he to decide to stop scowling. "I have extremely persistent co-workers. You should be thankful you've only got a cat."

The cat: that was a bit strange, wasn't it?

It was nothing, or nearly so - a mere flicker of the eyes, but for some reason Thorsten appeared to have come seconds away from giving his cat a decidedly unpleasant glance. Youji frowned, quirking a brow. Okay, so animals, particularly young ones (and this creature was little more than a big kitten) could be pretty damn obnoxious when the mood struck them, but as far as Youji could make out, the creature had barely moved. A flick of the tail, perhaps a twitch of the ears. It was actually being a surprisingly good kitty, considering what a scrap of a thing it was. Why would Thorsten want to give it the evil eye?

And why would Schuldig want to keep a cat in the first place? He didn't seem the nurturing kind, never mind the clawed carpets and the cat hairs on the clothing... clothing?

Maybe this wasn't Schuldig, after all.

(God, do I need a cigarette.)

Well, that was what Nagi was here for, and only the whole point of the visit. Youji glanced over at his companion, feeling himself starting to frown again. Dammit, kid - Nagi was gazing at the paintings, his eyes and face as scrupulously composed as ever: the boy looked so calm his features might have been painted in place, he might as well have been wearing a mask - this trip was your idea. You must have had some idea what you were going to do once you got here. He's your teammate, for Christ's sakes - three years, and you're still thinking like this? Even so: do something.

No two ways about it, he was going to have to do the bad thing and ditch the kid. Thorsten-Schuldig-Whoever was concentrating on him, and that was - well, weird, but understandable. Understandable, that was, if this was all part of some twisted game. Schuldig didn't seem the kind for an emotional reunion and he would hardly want to come clean about his motives for all this in front of one of Weiss, but maybe if he got Nagi alone he'd let something slip: blame it on sheer familiarity. (Maybe it was Schuldig. Maybe it was a game. Yeah, some game. Knock out Aya, let me screw him into the mattress just because he can... fine, but there was something directionless about it, something unfocused. Where did the green hair and the kitten come into it? Never mind the artwork-- what did any of it mean?)

He glanced away, wondering what to do next. Noticed--

"Oh. If you'll excuse me a minute..."

That seemed as good an excuse as any. Not that he exactly wanted to get acquainted with Thorsten Lange's no doubt over designed men's room, but maybe he could use it as an excuse to case out the rest of the ground floor. (Yeah, starting with the men's room. It wasn't like he'd exactly been paying attention the last time and what the Hell, he was here now. Might as well do something vaguely productive.

"I think I'll have to leave you guys to it, if you can't be good, et cetera." Youji said. Then grinned, and nudged Nagi with one elbow. "Ask him to sign your shirt or something."

Walked off before Nagi could kill him with his brain.

He looked at the painting—easier to stomach than the not-Schuldig shaking his hair over his shoulders and tilting his hips forward and all but saying out loud ‘come and fuck me I’m easy’—Too many layers of too many images and fading in and out of one another. Dark tones and—looked like blood dripping down the edges. He’d seen them online—some of them, trying to look at them and imagine Schuldig sitting down and mixing paint colors. This, though—this was something else.

Disorder. Chaos. But it fit, or didn’t; didn’t look like anything that was going to sell to the happy collector, something in it that made him think back. (Back to Schwarz, or maybe farther back, back to Rosenkreuz.) He hadn’t been there long; Schuldig had been there for years.

Youji’s elbow into his ribs and his words, a nice grin for the sake of cover and then he was moving away as fast as he could while looking casual and unconcerned.

Thorsten looked him. Bored. Instantly and irreversibly bored with him. (Doesn’t even have the same bored look either.) He looked back at the desk, at the cat that was pushing itself up to its feet, back arching into a stretch and mouth opening to voice the tiniest little mewls.

Downright disgusting.

(You’re not Schuldig.) Fine, then how did you prove it?

“Why’d you do Youji?” Nagi asked. Monotone and it sounded almost pathetic (worse, it sounded almost envious, jealous or hurt.) And the tone was asking for it more than the question; look Schuldig I’m laying myself wide open for you and if this is you, really you, then there’s no force on earth that would stop you from taking advantage of it now.

“I was horny, he said yes—your shirt is too dark to sign. Want a piece of a paper instead?” Not even waiting for an answer, just turning around and heading back to the desk. The cat mewling again and then jumping down from the desk to brush itself against Thorsten’s leg.

“Yeah, paper’s fine.” Nagi walked after him, stood there behind him watching him go through the pens in the single drawer of the table until he found one that would work. Held it in his left hand and pulled the lid off with his teeth.

“I’ve never done this before, am I suppose to say something nice? Your co-worker was a nice lay, thanks for liking my paintings, Thorsten Lange?” And the pen was still in his left hand, all poised and waiting for Nagi to reply (laugh or blush or agree or whatever he was supposed to do now.)

Left handed? Something’s wrong here, he’s trying too hard to make this seem like it isn’t him. And that didn’t make sense given the circumstances. Covers weren’t supposed to look like work, they were supposed to seamless and unassuming. Simple. Schuldig turning himself into this was shrieking for attention.

“Just your name,” Nagi said. Too long of a silence and too much time looking at Thorsten, at the roots of his hair and his eyebrows. (That dye job, like his left handed writing—too perfect.)

“Why do you care why I fucked Youji? Want to know the secret to getting into his pants.”

Nagi looked back at him. (This is me, unamused.) “I thought I knew the secret.”

“And then I come along, all with balls and no boobs and suddenly the world is a crazy place.” He ripped the sheet of paper in half (too cheap to even give out a whole sheet of paper) and held it out for him. “The secret is a convincing mouth.”

He took the paper, still looking at Thorsten, nothing smug in the look on his face. False arrogance but the body language betrayed it. Stared at the not-Schuldig until he looked away, down at the cat, and then over to where Youji had walked off.

(This isn’t him, but doesn’t that make it worse? Someone else is getting at Aya, and nobody should be able to get in. Not as long as Schuldig was alive—)

Thorsten pushing the cat away with his foot. “I’m going to find your coworker. Feel free to torture the cat while I’m gone.”

Thorsten's studio - he couldn't make 'Schuldig' stick; there was nothing of the Schwarz there, but who else could he be? Ken in leather with pink hair would look weird as Hell, but he'd still be Ken beneath it all - was small, yet tidy. Surprisingly so, considering it was owned by a man who had seemed to be a living embodiment of chaos, entropy with long red hair and a smirk. Not that Thorsten appeared to possess either. But the studio was tidy. Clean, or as clean as an artist's studio could get. There wasn't, of course, much that could be done about the paint. (And vermillion paw prints, tracked across the floor. Again, it wasn't what he'd expected.

And then there was the smell, and that was all wrong too.

The smell of turpentine hung heavy in the air; the smell was beginning to get to him. The smell, Youji decided, would have driven him mad within weeks. (Or maybe he'd have gotten used to it; he certainly didn't understand how Schuldig of Schwarz could have stuck it.) He wondered how come he hadn't noticed it the minute he walked in. Wondered why Thorsten didn't smell of the stuff. Obsessive-compulsive hygiene practices, probably. Numerous showers and constant changes of clothing, trading in one shabby, paint-stained ensemble for another. I had sex with that? I must have been drunk. The part where Thorsten possessed a penis was the least inexplicable thing about it.

It was all wrong. It was just as Youji had thought. The camouflage was simply too complete. Someone was sure as Hell painting back here, and the logical assumption was it was Schuldig - and he couldn't even imagine that one holding a paintbrush. The image simply wouldn't form. The mind rejected it.

(And you know he's watching you, Kudou. What are you going to do about it?) He turned: did that well. Perhaps a little too well, a little too cool. A normal, blameless young man caught prying wouldn't have taken it so calmly: there would have been embarrassment there, discomfiture. If he had been anywhere near as harmless as he was trying to claim to be, Youji knew he would have at least had the grace to look ashamed...

But he knows you're not harmless.

(Or he should do.)

Lounging in the doorway, hands in his pockets: Schuldig. Thorsten. Or both of them. The posture was casual, thus far the man was pure Schwarz, but the face - the face was wrong. He should have been smiling. Should have been smirking. He shouldn't have looked confused.

"Get lost on your way back? And I don't buy into he's your biggest fan bullshit either."

"No." Youji sighed, shaking his head. "I don't think he did either. Pity, that." Schuldig said nothing. Thorsten didn't. His only response was to smile skeptically, and even the smile was somehow wrong. "Let's just assume I'm more old-fashioned than I look and I like to know a little bit more about the people I take to bed than how hot a lay they are."

"For the sake of continuing conversation," Thorsten said, "I'll pretend I can assume that."

"Great," Youji said, and smiled. Well, look at that. We're actually communicating. "But you know - this may sound kind of weird from a guy standing in the middle of an art studio, but... well, I really didn't have you down as an artist." True. Very true.

Youji never had quite been sure about the Schwarz. He had fought this man, he had struggled with him for his life, he had damn near killed him: he had lived and worked alongside his former teammate for three long years, and still he couldn't say for sure what the point of Schwarz was. Weiss were simple. Weiss killed, neat and efficient, ending lives with a surgeon's clinical precision. But Schwarz - what were Schwarz? Had this man ever killed? Perhaps, Youji wondered, he had never had any call to. Maybe there'd never been any need for it, and no reason for Schuldig to do anything so crude.

Even so: an artist?

Thorsten said, "I get that a lot." Weariness in his voice. Probably wondering, stood there in the doorway of his studio in his paint-stained clothes - how much more artistic he would have to get before people stopped expressing surprise over it.

"It's not that," Youji heard himself say. Aware that he was pushing it, or more precisely that he was about to, but - okay then, let's see how far Schwarz here is prepared to take this little charade of his. "It's more that you remind me of a guy I knew, a couple of years back... don't think he'd even have known what to do with a paintbrush, still less risked getting paint on his clothes. Then you show up. You’re nothing like the guy, really. But you remind me of him."

Well, that was something he didn’t hear very often (considering, as he did, that he was foreigner here and seemed to be something of an oddity with green hair and blue eyes and too tall and pale to fit in.) Thorsten wondered, out of place—why he reminded Youji of this other guy if he didn’t act anything like him and wasn’t anything like him. (And why, of all things, Youji would have agreed to have sex with him in the face of his proclaimed heterosexuality.) “Did you screw him too?” There was something more to this—sure, yeah, they’d had sex but that didn’t account for the sheer level of familiarity.

“That’s where the differences start.”

Both of them, actually. What’s-his-face over there in the studio and Youji here. They acted like they were waiting for something from him. Like he wasn’t quite what they were looking for but a damn good imitation.

(You should ask him why he’s snooping around your house—)

“So I remind you of this other guy, except you didn’t do him and that still doesn’t explain why you show up in the middle of the day with a pretty obvious lie and then go snooping around my house. What are you looking for?”

Smile across his face (shit eating grin, more like) and an utter lack of guile in the words: “I left my sock here. I love my sock. I need it.”

That was—

(Oh, smooth. Why’d you do him again? )

--Fucking absurd. None of it made sense, and Youji knew it didn’t, and there he was with that grin on his face and those words just lingering there. (I need it—right.) Thorsten snorted a half laugh and slipped his hands up out of his pockets, pulled his arms up and crossed them over his chest. “But wouldn’t that search take you to the bedroom—did you get lost or were you just waiting for me?”

(Right, because hitting on him will answer all your questions.)

“Well, imagine how awkward this conversation would have been in the middle of your bedroom,” Youji said. He was walking forward now; something changed there, the tone of his voice, his stance, or something in his eyes. Something hadn’t been quite sure before, defensive, curious, on guard—none of that now. Changed to this other thing where he was looking at him with that same smile on his face as when he’d proclaimed his need for his sock.

Thorsten pushed himself off the doorframe, standing in front of it now and raised an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t the proximity to the bed have made it make more sense?”

Short shrug of Youji’s shoulders, his hand against the wall, over Thorsten’s shoulder, leaning in close to him. Some strange humor to the curve of his lips and something else that had nothing to do with humor at all. “Everybody makes mistakes?”

(That’s called charisma,) the cat said on its way back out of the door. (And you don’t have any.)

Thorsten tilted his head back, so close to the wall he could almost feel it against his head. His arms fell back down, loose at his sides and his fingers curled up. Didn’t know which way this was going to go, knew which way it looked like it was going to go—but wasn’t there some assertion of heterosexuality. “Yeah,” he breathed.

(You’re so fucking easy.)

Youji nodded—maybe, hard to focus on anything that close up, could feel his hair and his breath, was watching his mouth, tongue across his lips and there was something nervous in that that almost broke the moment. Didn’t have any time to think about it—mouth against his and hand on his chest. Thorsten opening his mouth and hands up, one hand loosely wrapped in Youji’s shirt the other around his side and onto his back.

Hesitated there, Youji stalling and not quite ready to move any closer, just kissing with all the single-minded focus in the world. Bodies still too far apart, could feel the heat but there was no intent there, only in the kiss and in Youji’s hand moving off the wall, slipping around to his neck, fingers curling around there and thumb under his chin tipping his head back. Thorsten had to bend his knees and Youji moved forward, pressing closer with one leg between his.

Pressing them up against the wall, as his other hand dropped down lingered on his waist.

(Help him out.) Cat’s voice sounded strange, heavy or slurred. Drunk almost.

Thorsten dragged his hand down Youji’s shirt, close space between them, fingers downward and pressed his hand under the waistband of his pants, fingers wiggling in farther—rubbing. Youji’s shocked gasp into the kiss. Thorsten would have laughed; felt Youji’s hand moving over, tugging on the button of his pants.

Kiss ended, Youji moving back, just enough to talk, could feel his breath still against his lips and opened his eyes to look at him. “Um, you got any…”

“Baby oil, on the shelf next to the easel,” Thorsten said.

Youji’s accepting little nod and then he kissed him again, slipping back into that like a comfort zone as his fingers tugged the button of Thorsten’s pants open and stopped there; this other hand moving away from its place on his neck, down under his arm and then up, gripping Thorsten’s shoulder—kiss broken again. Youji pulling on him, turning him around—face first against a wall.

(Tramp, not even the first time either.)


Nagi couldn’t hear the words; but he could hear the tone of the conversation and heard when it settled down into a slight and muffled whisper. Heard someone hitting the wall, heard the sound of bottles rattling, a bottle hitting the floor—breathy little exclamations.

(He’s screwing him. Right now, in the middle of this—not-mission—Youji was screwing the nonSchuldig again.)

Disbelief didn’t quite encompass the storm of emotion that was expanding out from the middle of his forehead, growing and gaining steam and getting just a little angrier with each repetitive sound—hand on a wall, hips against hips. Thorsten had left the door to the living space open and even if he was all the way across the room, Nagi could hear them clearly. Heard that thing in the stained clothing that was going around calling itself Thorsten (and up close, didn’t he look just a little too much like someone you used to know. Green hair aside?) sighing and panting and making a noisy nuisance of himself.

Nagi’s fingers curling up tight around the scrap of paper in his hand, back turning to the sounds, and he was going to leave. Right now, just leave and if this idiot turned out to be Schuldig and he killed Youji, at least it would be something he’d done in character and Nagi could retain some sort of lingering respect for the bastard because this other thing-- (Yeah, but why is Youji doing it? Schuldig never gave half a shit what you thought of him to start with. Anyway you turn this; Omi’s not going to like it.) He was leaving, two steps to the door, energy building just as chaotic and out of control as it was two nights ago.

Thorsten in the other room, loud enough to be heard clearly, gasping whimpering half-spoken word and something hitting the wall—a fist, his forehead.

Nagi closed his eyes, teeth grinding tight together and forced everything back. It didn’t matter, it would pass, and the method would be revealed when the end was reached. All this wouldn’t matter at all, not the frustration, confusion or pain of it. And when he opened his eyes, power coiled up in his belly and making him sick—there, in front of him.

Rosenkreuz; recognized it instantly. Couldn’t do anything but, everything from the shadows of the words carved above the door, the massive doors, the arch of the entry way and the—Blinked, looked at the images, colors and chaos that had layered over top of each other. Saw them in turn, like memories. Saw himself in abstract, just a tiny little thing almost lost in a corner, hidden away in a shadow of paint.

(Oh—Youji’s not going to like this.)

Knew it then, before he looked, across the painting, serpent crawling up, across a dozen ashen-gray figures with their mouths open and tongues too red, knew they were screaming or dying, and traced the serpent up, up until he saw its face, passive and smooth, a bit of a smile and a singularly recognizable gleam in his eye. (Like that trick with the light as it slid across Crawford’s glasses.)

It was Schuldig. This thing—Thorsten—was Schuldig.

Nagi turned when he heard shoes against the floor of the studio, saw Youji, running his hand through his hair, pulling it away from his face, damp with sweat that hadn’t had the chance to cool yet. Shirt wrinkled, pants slightly crooked and the look on his face—(wondered if it would all wrong to laugh now.) Not so much as pausing on his straight line for the door, Youji’s hands slipping down into his pockets for a cigarette before Nagi even moved to follow him.

“Lets get out of here,” Youji said, quiet like a breeze.

Heard the cat give a lazy meow as Youji pushed the door open and turned his head back, saw Thorsten in the doorway of the studio, lazy sort of look on his face and his hands in his hair pulling it back away from his face and up into a pony tail.

Nagi followed Youji, out of the studio and onto the street, seven fast steps to get away from the bare glass front of the studio and when they were out of sight—Youji snapping the lighter open, lighting the cigarette and looking down at him—pissed at life or him or Thorsten or all of it.

“Youji—” he said and had absolutely no idea how to finish that sentence. (Need a drink? Need a shower? Want me to drive home, because right now I’m questioning your judgment?) Just looked at him for a long moment, watching his hands, and the nearly compulsive motion of lifting the cigarette to his lips and taking a drag off it. Nothing smooth or composed about it—and it was unnerving, to see him stripped down like that. “—Did he have the scars?”

“He kept his shirt on.”

Nagi looked at Youji again—watched him drag his hand through his hair again. “We should go home.” (You need a drink. Or three. Or seven.)

“You drive.” Youji holding out his keys, almost finished with a first cigarette and shaking the pack to get a second. “I’ll be over here trying to die of lung cancer before we can make it home.”

Nagi took the keys. “Good luck.”
shutuf899 on February 17th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC)
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