The Other Side

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Chapter 2

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Something cool was being wiped down his neck and face. Ken turned his face towards the damp cloth, anxious that the soothing touch didn’t go away. Everything hurt so badly, especially his head. "Thank you, Omi." The words came out low and croaked. His throat was dry as well. Letting out a moan as the cloth vanished, he pried open an eyelid and was shocked to find out that it wasn’t Omi taking care of him.

It was the damn kid, Nagi. At least he thought that was his name. All Ken really was sure of was that the boy was not normal, and that he’d had his quota of being picked up and slammed around for the day. He was already in enough pain, dammit. Ken struggled to sit up and get away from his kidnapper, but found his body refusing to move. "Let me go, dammit."

"Relax, I’m not holding you down. Here, drink this." The older brunet looked up again when he felt a small hand and not an invisible grip touch him. The boy was patting his shoulder with one hand and holding a glass of water in the other. "I’m sorry that you’re in pain, this should help a little." Nagi’s face was drawn, his eyes shadowed. It looked as if the kid had been put through the wringer. Never really able to ignore a youth in distress, Ken found himself complying. He leaned back against the headboard and waited as the plastic glass and some pills were handed over.

A feeling of relief washed through Nagi when the man listened to him. He didn’t want to hurt Hidaka anymore than he already had, especially after finding out what Zersplittern had done to him and his teammates. "I’m sorry, it wasn’t supposed to hurt that bad, but the guy got carried away. You’re not going to feel very good for the next couple of days."

"What the hell did that asshole do to me?" All Ken remembered was some old foreign guy touching him and then the sensation that his brain was being torn apart.

Fluffing the pillow that he had brought from his own bed, since the older man had ripped apart the ones supplied to the room, Nagi cautiously slid it under Hidaka’s shoulders. ‘He was activating your talent. That calls for the blocks you’ve built around it over the years to be pulled apart. He was a bit… overzealous and took down more of the barriers than he was supposed to do." He wanted to make the man understand that, unlike most of Esset’s teams, Schwarz normally didn’t condone making their teammates suffer. Nagi found himself anxious to make amends somehow, how must the man and his friends feel? To first be kidnapped, roughed up a little bit, and then Zersplittern unleashed upon them. As Schu would say, not good.

For his part Ken was just grateful for something to drink, and for the pills. At this point he didn’t care what the hell the drugs were, as long as they took away some of the pain in the end. "I told you yesterday, I don’t have a power. So let me go."

"Yes, you do. Oracle even saw it. He said you are a precog like him, and he’s never wrong. Besides, if you hadn’t any talent, you’d be dead right now. A normal person could never have survived what you’ve just been through." Ken stared in amazement as the empty glass gently floated from his hand to rest on the nightstand. "So do you feel up to some food? You must be hungry, let me know if you want anything."

Rubbing at his eyes, the soccer fanatic tried to make sense of the situation. First he’d been kidnapped, then told he had some mumbo-jumbo power by a weird guy who could speak in his head and left alone in a room all day with no food. The next day resulted in him suffering unbelievable agony, and now he was getting the nice treatment? "You guys taking a break from the abuse or what? Got bored with it and wanted to try something new?"

"That’s not-" Nagi stood up from his chair and started to walk around the room that he had taken the time to clean up. "That’s not what we are trying to do here. I’m sorry that we were a little rough when we kidnapped you, but you looked about ready to fight. And I couldn’t let you hurt Schuldig yesterday. As for this morning, we had to let Zersplittern activate you. But if you would just calm down and listen to us there is no more reason for the pain."

Ken felt his anger start to build, now that the throbbing in his head had abated the slightest bit. He still couldn’t force his body up and out of the bed though. "What the hell do you think I’m going to do? When you snatch me away from my job, along with two of my friends, tell me that I now have to work for you and no longer have any choice, and then put me through whatever it was that happened this morning? I don’t care what you do; I’m not listening to a word you say. Not let me out of here."

Hazel eyes stared at his, clearly upset. "We can’t. If we do you will be ‘snatched away’ by some other organization, possibly your own. And Schwarz would have to pay for losing you, which if we’re lucky would mean our lives. We don’t exactly have a choice here either, you know. I promise, the others aren’t that bad, you’ll like them if you give them a chance. You’re one of us right now, we don’t want to hurt you."

The kid sounded so damn earnest, it just ate away at his anger, leaving him drained. "How the hell did you get involved with these people, Nagi? You’re what, thirteen years old? Where is your family?"

"I’m fifteen." The boy’s voice took on a cold tone. "As for my family, you’ve already met them. Oracle and Schuldig and Farfie." When Ken opened his mouth to say something Nagi cut his hand through the air. "If you mean my real family, I don’t know nor I care. When things started to move around me seemingly by their own power they thought I was possessed, had all these priests see me, feed me noxious potions and pray over me. When that failed they took to beating me. I didn’t have the control back then that I did now, so I couldn’t stop them. Instead I ran away. Luckily Crawford, that’s Oracle’s real name, discovered me when he was here in Tokyo on business before anything truly bad could happen to me. He found me through a vision and took me with him to Germany, where he and Schu trained me themselves. They kept me safe. I trust them with my life, and will not let anything hurt them. They’ll do the same thing for you, keep you safe and train you, if you let them. If not, then you are a threat to us, and I won’t stand for that." He stared coldly at the older man until Ken had to look away.

Fiddling with the red blanket covering his legs, Ken realised that it wasn’t the one he had ripped to pieces yesterday. Someone had to have replaced it. "I’m not some damn doll, you know. I’m a real person, not a slave."

"Neither are we. But we were faced with the same fate that you are now. Submit or be broken. I’m sorry. As Schu would say, ‘fate’s a bitch’. I wish we could let you go, I wish all of us were free. That is simply not a choice. You’ll soon realize that, as will your friends." Nagi stepped closer to the bed, when Ken didn’t make a move to attack him he gathered up the empty glass. "Now would you like something to eat? A sandwich maybe?"

Ken nodded his head. For a moment the older boy felt as if he was back at the Koneko, with a fussy Omi attending to him. It made his heart ache. Back then he really hadn’t been free either, Kritiker had owned him. But after having walked away from Weiß and starting a new life, Ken wasn’t about to just give in. He’d play it cool, gain back his strength and find out these guys’ weaknesses. He wasn’t the thickheaded jock Yohji always teased him about being. Ken could wait for the chance to free himself and his friends.

Though something inside nagged at him and made him wonder if it would truly be as easy as that. There was this little voice, the one that he usually listened to when he made an important block or while in the middle of a mission, one that had tried to warn him on that eventful day years ago when he had accepted a drink from his good friend Kase. It was telling him that everything that the younger boy had told him was true, and that his plan would fail. Curling up on his bed, Ken tried to shut it out, fervently wishing that it was wrong. Fervently trying to forget that it never had been before.

*******

Crawford sat in the chair, his eyes focused on the sleeping blond. He knew that Kudoh would wake up shortly and be in pain. He also knew that the man was about to experience undeniable proof of his talent. The vision had come to him as he’d sat here, another glimpse of the future that he was striving for. It almost made him want to kiss Zersplittern for the sadist’s actions. Almost. The man had greatly advanced their cause of winning over the former Weiß agents.

Just as he’d expected, Kudoh started to stir. The man clutched at his head and hissed out a few choice swear words. After a few minutes Yohji managed to sit up in bed. His body tensed when he opened his eyes and spied Crawford, as if ready to fight or flee, but that just set off another wave of pain. "I suggest you remain where you are, if you try to get out of bed you’ll only fall down and hurt yourself." Of course the stubborn fool ignored him, and Crawford had to get out of the chair and set the man aright. All the while making sure he didn’t touch Kudoh’s flesh.

Yohji struggled weakly against the strong hands hauling him off the floor. "Leave me alone, you sick fuck. Gonna punch me again?" His voice was raspy, in desperate need of some lubrication. Crawford dumped him back on the bed and returned to his chair.

Picking up something resting on the floor, the American tossed Yohji a bottle of water. "Here, catch." Without thinking the blond did so, and felt the world around him dissolved as the plastic touched his hands. There was a feeling of vertigo, then things went cloudy for a few seconds. Next a series of images flooded through his brain, of a young man buying the bottle at a local store that somehow he knew was just a couple of blocks away, and bringing it to what he assumed was the apartment he was a prisoner in. An older man stocking the bottle on the shelf. A woman packing the bottle in a box, in a factory eighty kilometers away. On and on the visions went, until the plastic was created. Dropping the damn thing Yohji waved his hands about as if they had been burned. "What the hell was that?"

"Your power kicking in. The same power that you denied ever having. I’m sorry to say that, through a misfortune upon your activation this morning, you have no control whatsoever over it at this point. Go ahead, touch anything and see that I am right." Next Crawford tossed over a bottle of painkillers. By reflex Yohji caught that as well, and before he could drop it once again he saw visions tracing the bottle back to its origin.

"This can’t be happening, I don’t have a talent, you crazy fuck. It’s that longhaired fellow, he’s the one putting these thoughts into my head. I know it." He reached down to pull his covers up over him, only to have the visions start again. It seemed that everything he touched sparked off the damn things. Yohji huddled in the middle of his bed, his hands curled up in his lap.

Crawford shook his head. "No, he isn’t. Schuldig is quite occupied at this time, and has no thoughts to spare for you. Stop living in denial and accept this fact. You are a clairvoyant. This talent has helped you in your job as a detective and even as an assassin. It helped you to find things, to learn about a person’s true nature. Of course in the past it was mostly latent and worked through your subconscious, telling you to look here or not trust this guy or sleep with that girl. Now it is demanding your full attention, and you have no chance of shutting it off until Schuldig and I properly train you. Which we can’t do unless we have your full cooperation. So you have two choices." The tall man stood up and held out a pair of leather gloves to his newest subordinate. "Understand that you are Schwarz from now on, and let us teach you how to use your talent, or fight us and go insane. Think about it, and wear these for now. They will help prevent you from seeing things each time you touch something. Or someone. It works for people as well, in case you didn’t understand me before. Think about that as well. Of never being able to touch or be touched by another person without seeing things from their past, sensing what they are feeling at the moment. I promise you you’ll not want to touch too many people after learning some secrets you never wanted to. That means no soothing caresses, no more sex. Which would be a hard burden for someone like you to bear, never being able to touch a lover ever again without your power getting in the way. Unless we train you. You and your friends. Which we will, I’ve already seen it. All three of you, as willing members of Schwarz." That said Oracle thrust the gloves into Yohji’s hand and left the room. "Good day, Nagi will be by in a little while with some lunch."

Back on the bed vertigo and a thick fog once more assailed Yohji. He couldn’t make out as much with the gloves as he had with the other objects, but there was a hint of emotions coming through. A trace of smugness and a ton of seriousness. Something in the back of Yohji’s mind whispered it had to be the foreign bastard’s emotions that he was sensing. Which troubled him greatly, for it meant that the man hadn’t been lying about a thing he’d said.

*******

Aya gradually became aware of several things. Of there being pain, which increased with every breath he took. But he was used to the sensation by now and pushed on past it. There was an irritating hum that upon closer inspection seemed to be hundreds of voices merging together until completely indistinct. They buzzed in the back of his mind, low and constant, so he ignored them as well. Next came the feeling of warmth and even a tingle of pleasure. It felt as if a warm ocean surrounded him, currents teasing at him and swirling around his body. For a moment he was reminded of when Aya-chan had snuck into his bed when she had been younger and troubled about something over the course of the night. However, instead of the residual feelings of love and trust he felt that thrill of pleasure, a sense of completeness and even a touch of lust.

It was the last emotion that thrust him completely into the waking world. That sure as hell was not something that he attributed to his cherished dead sister. His revulsion was soon swamped by agony, though, and Aya glanced through slitted eyes to see that it was the telepath, Schuldig, who was holding him tight.

For a moment the redhead was too stunned to move. Aya was desperately trying to think through the pain and figure out what he was doing in bed with the man. Who was wrapped around him even more so than the blankets covering them. All he could remember was the stranger touching him, blinding agony and then a cacophony of voices. Precious little was clear beyond that. While he tried to recall what had gone on past that point, Aya felt Schuldig stir against him, pull him even closer. That set him off into a panicked struggle, as he was very unused to anyone touching him at all, nevermind the fact that for once the touch was not arousing the pain that he usually felt when that happened.

Aya writhed in the older man’s arms, becoming more frantic by the moment. Free, he had to be free. One hand grabbed a handful of reddish hair and yanked hard. A leg came up, knee driving into Schuldig’s stomach and knocking the air out of the half-awake man. Which caused him to finally loosen his hold on Aya. The swordsman immediately took advantage of that and rolled away, only to be brought to a stop as the low hum turned into a shrieking wall of voices. He huddled on the edge of the bed, mindless of anything but the noise and the blinding agony filling him.

Catching the backwash of what the inexperienced telepath was suffering, Schuldig flailed about with a trembling hand until it came in contact with white skin. Holding onto his consciousness with figurative fingernails, the German crushingly gripped Aya’s arm and yanked the man over to him. When the smaller redhead was pressed against his chest he was able to once more extend his shields over the idiot. Taking a few minutes to catch his breath and to give Aya time to recover from the attack, Schuldig just lay there in the bed. He hurt all over, largely thanks to the man in his arms. When he felt Aya start to pull away once more he shifted his grip and shook the man savagely. "What the hell are you thinking?" All he could sense from him was anger, pain and panic.

"Get the hell off of me." For his troubles Aya felt himself pressed even tighter against Schuldig, which sparked off more panic and anger. He had to get away, couldn’t have anyone touch him or it would hurt. He was already in enough pain. The pale man started to hyperventilate, without thinking he bit Schuldig hard on the shoulder, just trying to strike back and make the man let him go somehow.

"Verdammte!" Schuldig rolled over on top of Aya, trying to get a better hold on him before any more damage was inflicted upon his personage. Here he was trying to help the ungrateful bastard and he actually felt blood trickling down his chest. He shoved deeply into Aya’s mind, trying to calm him down and find out why he was acting this way. <Calm down, I’m not trying to hurt you. You get away and the voices will just come back. I’m shielding you, you fool.>

As he froze the smaller man’s body he came across the reason for the panic. For a moment he actually felt a bit of remorse for the Japanese man. When Aya’s talent had developed he had managed to build barriers to keep people’s thoughts away, but it hadn’t been able to hold up to physical contact. Anytime he touched or been touched by someone had been agony for him, a wash of thoughts and emotions that had swamped him. So he’d withdrawn into himself, away from everyone but his sister. Who was the only one he could touch that didn’t produce the pain, either because of their similar genetics or the simple innocence of the girl’s thoughts. Schuldig idly reflected that no wonder the man had taken her injury and death so hard, she had been his one outlet for human contact. <Shh, it’s okay. It won’t hurt when I touch you. I’m another telepath, we’re, uhm, compatible. And right now I’m the only thing keeping out everyone’s thoughts, so stop hitting me!> He kept repeating those words over and over until Aya calmed down and started thinking logically again.

<What, what happened.> It was weak, but the man was projecting his thoughts at him, tinged with curiosity and a trace of anger and suspicion. Schuldig opened his mind to Aya, let him sift through the memories from earlier that day. Of Zersplittern disobeying orders and completely breaking his and his teammates’ mental barriers, of what steps had to be taken because of it. The anger spiked when Aya came to the part of the two of them having to stay in constant physical contact for what could be the next month, until he learned to build up his eradicated shields. Oh, someone was so not happy at the moment. Neither was Schuldig, what with the thanks he had received upon awakening. Yanked out hair, bitten shoulder, more sore ribs and bruises, not to mention the headache he was getting from sharing Aya’s. Oh, someone was going to make it up to him; that was for sure.

Shuffling through Schuldig’s thoughts, Aya caught that last comment. Even though he was shook up at the fact of what had happened that morning, and upon finding out that he actually had to be touching the strange man at all times for the foreseeable future. So he didn’t take the comment very well. Especially since he had no choice but to touch the bastard. Schuldig caught a flash of his anger and leered at him, seeking to get back some by making the smaller redhead squirm a little. "Oh yes, you’re going to make it up to me. Hmm, rather nice that here we are in a comfy bed. Why don’t we try seeing if you could distract me from th- oomph." All the breath left the German’s body as a knee was viciously driven into his groin. A moan strangled its way past his lips as he curled up into a ball, injured area throbbing with intense pain. Aya made sure to keep a tight hold on the man’s wrist as he shoved back as far as possible away from him, a slight smile teasing at his lips. Bet the asshole had forgotten about all those other aches and pain at the moment.

Hearing that thought, Schuldig resolved to strangle the pale bastard the moment he could get his body to move. Oh, he was dead. Gasping in agony, he raised bleary eyes to glare into cold violet ones. As the pain slowly abated he stretched out a hand toward Aya’s throat. It was then that Crawford chose to enter the room.

"Good evening, and how are the two of you feeling?" A black eyebrow was arched over a sparkling blue eye. Fujimiya and Mastermind stopped glaring at each other long enough to stare evilly at him. "Just wonderful, I’ll assume. It’s so heartening to see the two of you getting along so well." Fujimiya was paler than normal with dark bruises under his eyes, and Schuldig was a bit battered around the edges. Crawford relished the sight of his annoying friend finally meeting his match. Now he had someone new to torment and bother, someone who could take the abuse and dish it out just as well. It almost made the American believe in karma. "Just letting you know that if you are hungry, dinner will be here shortly. I think it would be a good idea for the two of you to get something to eat, you’ll need the energy." <Schuldig, might I remind you that you are about to kill our best chance at freedom.>

<He kneed me in the balls, Crawford! Little bastard deserves to die for that. I didn’t even touch him!> Schuldig felt Aya shift about in his mind, clearly catching on to the fact that he was talking to Bradley yet not ‘hearing’ the actual conversation. Not for the lack of trying. So not only was the man vicious but a busybody as well. He’d have to remember it and be very careful in the future.

<I don’t care, make him pay _after_ we get free. Now play nice.> "I also suggest that maybe the two of you make yourselves presentable before joining us in the dining room." With that Schwarz’s leader turned around and left the room before he actually did lose control and start smiling.

Muttering to himself, the German carefully levered himself upright. His body protested loudly but obeyed his commands. Aya tensed when he moved, clearly waiting for some sort of retribution. "You heard the man, let’s get cleaned up."

Aya allowed himself be tugged off of the bed, careful to keep a close eye on the foreigner. He was picking up anger and frustration from the man’s mind, most of it directed at him. It seemed that their emotions were open to each other, and most thoughts as well, but he hadn’t been able to understand what the two men had been saying to each other, besides the impression that it was about him. Aya tried to pull up the thick walls that had kept everyone out of his head, only to grasp nothing. It was a painful reminder that the shields were now gone, and just how dependent he was on the other man. A stranger, despite how much he now knew about the man from being inside his mind, and an enemy as well. The fact galled him, that he wouldn’t be able to be alone unless he wanted to go mad from the voices. For a moment he actually thought about it, as an escape of sorts, when he felt himself shoved into the bathroom door. Schuldig pressed against him, trapping him there.

Green eyes stared intently into his. <Don’t even think about that. You try pulling away from me and you’ll only start broadcasting again. Which means anyone around you who is unshielded, such as your teammates, will suffer the same fate that you do. And anyone with any power whatsoever could home in on you. Which would result in a world of trouble and pain for all of us, especially you. There are groups out there that couldn’t care in the slightest at how mad you are, they’d find a use for you anyways. So behave, stay close, no more biting or kneeing me in the balls, and we’ll get along just fine. Never forget that you’re just as trapped as the rest of us, and that I can read your every thought until you get those shields back up.>

"I hate you," Aya hissed out, furious at the man whom he saw responsible for the whole mess. It was Schuldig who had kidnapped him, dragged him back from his mind, whom he was now all but chained to. It would drive him insane having someone this close to him, inside his head.

The German smiled nastily at him. "I’m not too crazy about you myself, mein kleins Veilchen. But we are stuck with each other, and not just for the next month. You’ve been in my head, try to tell me that you actually think the same thing as your idiotic teammates and believe that you’ll be free of Schwarz one day." Aya stared back silently; Schuldig picked up the anger and despair that signaled the fact that the man had indeed realized that would never happen. Finally, one of the stubborn lot had some common sense. Just too bad it happened to be the nastiest kitty of the group. The one that he was stuck with for the time being. "I’m very glad that you have realized that. Means you see the logic of the two of us getting along from now on, even if we don’t like each other." He leaned in closer to Aya, letting his lips brush against the smaller man’s, successfully deflecting another attack to his poor balls and most of the punch to his stomach. "My, you’re so mean. All I’m trying to do is help you." Every brush of their lips was another tingle of pleasure, even the smaller man felt it and grew apprehensive at the sensation. Schuldig knew that he had rarely felt the emotion before. "So be nice, before I dig that nasty personality of yours out of your brain and replace it with one I much more prefer. Understood?"

Aya’s glare put Crawford’s best to shame. <Shi-ne.> He then shoved Schuldig away roughly, body tight with barely repressed fury.

"You might want to keep me alive for the time being, remember, you need me more than I need you," the older man lied flawlessly. He carefully tucked any and all thoughts dealing with escaping Esset’s grasp behind a mental wall. "Now what do you say to a shower?" Aya merely glared at him for another few seconds and entered the bathroom ahead of him. Once inside Schuldig tugged him over to the toilet. "You mind grabbing the other wrist? I’m not a lefty. Unless you want to do the honors." Violet eyes blinked for a moment before Aya understood what he was asking. Schuldig laughed softly at the faint blush creeping up pale cheeks.

Looking away as the German relieved himself, Aya studied the bathroom. It was just like the one in his room, albeit more furnished. There were small, framed prints on the wall, a few plants, and a variety of soaps and lotions to choose from. His only had had one bar of soap, and the bathroom, like his room, had been bare of any and all decorations. Guess someone hadn’t wanted him to find a weapon. Maybe Schuldig had a razor as well, one he could borrow. His chin itched, it had been two days since he had shaved.

"All done, now it’s your turn." Aya waited for the other telepath to turn around, and wasn’t too surprised when all Schuldig did was leer at him instead. <What, you have something that I’ve never seen before? Or just bashful?> Wishing him dead with a look Aya proceeded to relieve himself, gritting his teeth as he heard the bastard mentally compare the size of their dicks. The man acted like an overgrown child, he made Kudoh seem mature by comparison. <I heard that.>

Schuldig laughed again as he got a set of bared teeth back in return. "Oh, you are just so touchy. Tell you what, I’ll make it up to you by scrubbing your back."

<I. Am. NOT. Taking. A. Shower. With. YOU.>

"Prude. How we going to manage this one then, hm? What without making a mess in the bathroom or losing contact with each other?"

Aya merely arched an eyebrow in response.

*******

Schuldig sat on the bathroom floor with a pout on his face. His arm was growing sore from reaching behind him to hold onto Aya’s calf. Figured the bastard would come up with a solution that kept him from having any fun. He’d so looked forward to torturing the man in the shower, and instead he sat here on the cold floor as he felt the voices start to get louder in Aya’s head. Seemed that the little bit of contact they had wasn’t enough for more than a small period of time. After they got some food into them he’d have to start teaching the man how to build a proper set of shields this time. Now that was going to be a fun night. <Come on, Aya, I think you are clean enough already. Get out of there, I’m getting a headache now. Make that more of a headache.>

Surprisingly the water was shortly turned off and a pale hand reached out for a towel. Schuldig handed him one, and exchanged his hold on Aya’s ankle for one on his wrist. While the younger man dried himself off he ran a critical eye over the slender form. It was obvious the stubborn fool hadn’t been taking care of himself, if there was any body fat on the man he’d kiss Crawford. Aya seriously needed more than a few meals in him. Still, the man was lovely, all that white skin and long limbs, a slender build that was deceptive, topped off with the beautiful face and crimson hair. A real treat for the senses. Aya must have picked up on his spark of lust considering the glare he was given before the man wrapped the towel around his waist. <Razor?>

"What, so you can slit your wrists or my throat?" The glare increased in intensity. "Never mind, bad joke." Schuldig dragged him over to the sink and opened up a drawer. Grabbing the razor and some shaving cream he then jerked Aya closer. "Come here, up on the counter." At the puzzled look he received the German sent an image of what he planned on doing. <I’m not trusting you with an edged weapon. I’ll shave you until we get some electric razors in.> For a moment Aya stared at him incredulously, then after running a hand over his stubbled chin did as he was bid.

Schuldig pushed his way between the man’s thighs, ignoring the growl that action provoked. Quickly lathering up the man’s face he set about shaving Aya. At first the smaller man was tense, but as his proximity helped to push back the voices that had crept up on him during the showers, Aya slowly slid his arms around his waist and relaxed. He felt how stunned the man was that he could touch someone without any pain, and how he shivered slightly at the tingling sensation wherever their skin met. Carefully guarding his thoughts, Schuldig reflected on how long it had been since he’d had sex, either with another person or through someone else. It had been too long, Esset had kept Schwarz close to home the past several months, and he hadn’t been able to let his guard down to get drunk or drugged enough to have sex with a non-talent. Which had left only those people around him, who were his teammates or other Esset personnel. The first had been out, there was no way he was having sex with Brad, a kid or an insane Irishman. And there was no way in _hell_ he’d have sex with another agent; he’d have been eaten alive at best, compromised his team at worst.

That was why in part he hadn’t been able to resist commenting on Kudoh during the debriefing a couple of days ago. It had been a subtle reminder to Brad that when they got to Tokyo, he expected being able to go out one weekend and let loose, pick up a pretty thing or two and not return until he’d had his fun. Not that he would have minded a quick tumble with the blond Japanese man. Kudoh was his type, good-looking and all about having a fun time. Instead he found himself saddled with a suicidal, vicious, withdrawn virgin. Full-time for the next month or so.

A suicidal, vicious, withdrawn virgin who was beautiful and another telepath. Who’s mere touch, physical and mental, sent a thrill of pleasure through him. Maybe he hadn’t gotten such a bad deal after all. Schuldig found himself stroking a fresh shaven cheek. He pressed closer to Aya, only to have one of the hands resting on his hips come up and shove him away. <That’s enough.> Dammit, he was back to being glared at again, and there were waves of anger, embarrassment and apprehension coming from the slender redhead.

"Schuldig…" Oh, his little violet growled out his name so seductively. At least to his ears. Wiping off the last of the shaving cream Schuldig reluctantly stepped back and rinsed off the razor.

"Oh, before I forget." He reached into the medicine cabinet and tossed a container of pills at Aya after grabbing some for himself. "Take a couple of those, they should help with the headache that Zersplittern left you with. You might not mind the pain, but I do." Schuldig handed over a glass of water, waiting for Aya to take the medication. He felt a quick scan of his thoughts, making sure that the pills were in fact nothing more than pain relievers, before they were swallowed. It amazed him how fast the neophyte was learning things. When the glass was handed back to him he to took his, then they went to put some clothes on.

At least he did. Aya stood next to him, looking for the outfit that had been removed from him earlier. <They’re in the wash. Here, just borrow some of mine, we’ll move your stuff into the room later. Not that we brought back more than a change or two for you to wear.> At the surprise that greeted his statement Schuldig grinned at the swordsman. <Well, you’re staying with me, and my room is much nicer. Not to mention quieter. We’ll have to order some more clothes for you, mine are a touch too big.> He handed over a pair of jeans and some boxers. A pale nose wrinkled over the later. "Oh come on, they’re clean, which can’t be said for the pair you left in the bathroom. Either put them on or go without." Schuldig knew that the man wasn’t about to do the later, and watched with a bit of disappointment when Aya skimmed them on underneath the towel. Not nearly as shy as the smaller man, Schuldig dropped his towel to the floor before getting dressed. A flash of embarrassment and interest gave him the first truly genuine smile he had worn for the day. So Aya wasn’t completely oblivious to him, was he? Now that was heartening. And something to work on in the future. Maybe he wouldn’t be deprived of sex for much longer. Sex that would be with another telepath… "Ouch, dammit!" He glared at Aya, who upon feeling another wave of lust had viscously yanked his hair. They finished dressing after a couple more like scuffles, Aya unsurprisingly chose a dark colored long sleeve shirt that hung on his emaciated form, and Schuldig a grey short-sleeved one that he knew made his upper body look good. He was trying for another spark of interest, at the very least for a chance to rub it in Aya’s face. Of course he was disappointed.

Once they were ready the two telepaths headed for dinner. Schuldig was starving, he needed to replace some of the energy he had expended that day soon or he wouldn’t be able to keep up his shields as effectively for much longer. Aya silently followed him, eyes busy taking in his new surroundings. <We have the whole floor. Eight bedrooms, a living and dining room, office, kitchen and a workout room. You might want to pass on to your friends that we are up too high for them to go out the windows, and the only way down is through a sealed elevator. Which only goes up to the roof, where there are no other exits, and to the lobby, where we have someone watching the door at all times. Makes escaping a wee bit tricky, don’t you think?>

Aya merely shrugged his shoulders as he walked past the locked doors that he knew Yohji and Ken were behind. The hallway was decorated in cool pastels, various artwork covered the wall. Everything around him screamed expensive and impersonal, it was clear that Schwarz hadn’t decorated the place. Especially since he knew from Schuldig’s memory that the team had just arrived in Tokyo. They went past a large living room, filled with several chairs, two couches and a state of the art entertainment center. Ken would love to see that, meant he could watch his soccer games in style.

Shaking his head, the swordsman reminded himself that the last thing Hidaka would be thinking of for a while would be sports. He’d want to get himself free as soon as possible. Which Aya now knew wasn’t going to happen. He had thoroughly searched Schuldig’s mind about anything that had to do with him and his teammates during their showers. Surprisingly enough, the man had let him. While he knew the other telepath was hiding something from him, what he had found had been quite clear. Weiß needed Schwarz for the foreseeable future, at least until their talents were under control, and that the moment they ran away not only would Schwarz and all of Esset be after them, a frightening thought from what he could gleam, but several other organizations as well. Esset had been the first ones to break the encryption on Persia’s files, but not the only ones who had the information. Other groups would know about them shortly, and scramble to recover Weiß for their own use. They’d have to run and hide for the rest of their lives, not an attractive prospect. Besides, he was already a killer, did it really matter who he did it for? His soul was already steeped with blood and death. Nothing left but to take up his sword and disperse death until it finally found him.

He was shaken from his thoughts to find that Schuldig had stopped beside a large table and was staring at him oddly. Aya took a seat, frowning slightly when the foreigner scooted closer to him. About to protest over the move, he found himself leaning closer to the man, seeking the comfort of Schuldig’s mental shields. It wore on him, hearing the hum of voices and not being able to do anything about them. All he could do for relief was press his body against the other telepath’s. It was so confusing, the need to touch clashing with a deeply ingrained fear of doing just that. And the sensation of pleasure bewildered him all the more. Why did it feel so good to touch the other man? Because he was a telepath as well? Something told Aya that the answer wasn’t as simple as that.

Schuldig raised an eyebrow at his proximity. "Wanna sit on my lap, kleins Veilchen?"

<How are your balls feeling?> Aya had unconsciously learned to project his thoughts from Schuldig’s example. It felt so natural to do so.

For a few seconds the German scowled at him, clearly upset at being reminded about what had happened earlier, but the look soon changed into a leer. <Like they could use a massage. You volunteering?>

Aya growled menacingly, moving a hand hooked into a claw in the region of Schuldig’s groin. Not chancing that he wouldn’t be maimed for life, considering the amount of fury that was pouring off of the smaller man, Schuldig hurriedly caught the hand and crossed his legs. "Never mind, they’re just fine the way they are." He still pulled Aya closer though, upset at all the clothes that separated them. They kept him from feeling that delicious tingle that filled his senses whenever Aya’s and his skin touched.

"I’m glad to see that the two of you are now getting along better," Crawford remarked as he walked into the room, followed by Farfarello and Nagi. Who was telekinetically floating several containers of takeout through the air. Two settled in front of Schuldig and Aya, then after Schuldig sent a silent command to the youth two more containers were added as well. Aya eyed the rest of Schwarz warily, having little experience with them outside of Schuldig’s mind. <Relax, they won’t harm you, you’re one of us now.> Schuldig got the impression that the smaller redhead didn’t appreciate his concern.

He was also picking up on how Farfarello’s presence was affecting Aya. Not even he could completely block out the madman’s thoughts, so Aya was suffering them as well, body tensing at the feel of insanity that he had barely escaped experiencing permanently that morning. Schuldig slid his left arm underneath the man’s shirt and around his waist, glad that he had picked something short-sleeved to wear. The light grey top allowed him lots of contact with Aya’s skin. The feeling of pleasure returned, making him shift even closer to the smaller man. Any more and Aya would be in his lap. The thought inspired fantasies that earned his hair another painful tug. Cursing under his breath, Schuldig resolved to better guard such thoughts in the future, but didn’t give up on them all together.

The German then picked up his chopsticks, trying to figure out why they were stuck together. He did so for a couple of minutes, glaring across the table at a shielded Nagi who was laughing quietly. With a sigh Aya grabbed them and broke them apart, and sent images of how he was supposed to use them to Schuldig. Grateful for the lesson he gave the swordsman’s hip a squeeze as thanks and started to open the containers. Aya once again rescued him, telepathically telling him what each box contained as he reached for them and scooped a little of each onto his plate, along with a few choice comments about ignorant, uncivilized foreigners. Schuldig scowled at the insults and added more food to the grouch’s plate, earning him yet another growl. No wonder the man rarely spoke, obviously he had been raised by a pack wolves or something, to be able to have such a wide variety of snarls and growls. Unfortunately Aya picked up that thought as well and whapped his knuckles with his chopsticks.

<Well it’s true, you’ve growled at me more times than you have actually spoken. And you need to eat all of that, it’s going to take lots of energy rebuilding your shields, which from what I can tell you don’t have in you right now. Think of it as fuel.>

<I’m not weak, Schuldig.>

<I didn’t say that. I said you will need the energy. So will I. So stop trying to starve yourself to death and eat something.> Aya was startled for a moment, he’d been in denial over his diminishing appetite. He’d passed it off as just not being hungry, not the death wish it had really been. Schuldig got the impression he was going to run into other little surprises like this, things that the Japanese man had tricked his brain into not recognizing as risky behavior in an attempt to slowly end his life. What fun. <We’re not working on your shields until you eat everything on your plate. Be good and I’ll give you some dessert. How does me covered in whipped cream and chocolate sauce sound?>

All that kind offer got him was another whap from the chopsticks. Upon hearing yet another growl Schuldig was surprised to find that it was coming from him for once. //"You’re such a vicious bastard, little one."// Whap. <Stop hitting me with the damn things!>

*******

Nagi leaned closer to Crawford and asked a question in a hushed voice. "Are you sure he’s alright? I think Schuldig might be in serious trouble. He’s barely said a word during dinner." Usually the German spent more time tormenting his teammates than actually eating; here he’d hadn’t said a word to them all night, telepathically or out loud. It was unnatural, and Nagi found himself seriously worried about the pest. His sense of unease wasn’t helped in the slightest when he saw what suspiciously looked like a smile on the normally stoic Oracle’s face. The American almost never smiled.

"He’s fine, Nagi. Just in over his head at the moment." The smile increased in intensity as he watched a fight break out over Fujimiya’s chopsticks. Schuldig was severely hampered by the fact that he only had one arm free, the other being firmly planted on the Japanese man’s waist and showing no signs of being moved. Fujimiya took advantage of this and got what had to have been the fourteenth smack of the evening on Schuldig’s abused hand. Not that Crawford was counting or anything. Then the man grabbed his plate and turned his back to Schuldig, finishing off his meal in safety. Mastermind smiled for a moment and used the arm about Aya’s waist to yank the man onto his lap. Violet eyes flared up in anger, and the chopsticks were jammed into the German’s ribs. Farfarello laughed out loud at the telepaths’ antics.

//"I’m not a damn vampire you little-"//

"Schuldig, I believe that you have some knowledge of proper table etiquette. Let Fujimiya go, please." <Before the man kills you. I need both of you alive.>

<You need him alive? What the hell about me? Through the course of the day I’ve had my hair ripped out, been kneed in the balls, bitten, bruised, battered, and now just about staked through the damn heart. Take the little ingrate off my hands and give me Kudoh, dammit!> Curiously enough his hold on the smaller man only tightened.

<No.> Crawford noticed how Fujimiya stilled, his eyes shifting back and forth between him and Mastermind. <Can he hear any of this?>

Schuldig shook his head as he took advantage of Aya’s immobility and pulled the man closer, seizing the sticks of wood and tossing them across the room after snapping them in half. <He knows we are talking, but can’t catch the words. I can shield him from some of my thoughts.>

<Good.> "I need you to check out Hidaka and Kudoh, find out if Zersplittern really did demolish their shields as well." It was clear that the Austrian had taken down more than he should have, considering how much pain the men had awakened in and how Kudoh’s talent was acting, but it paid to know exactly how much.

"One sec, Vater." Schuldig rested his chin on Aya’s shoulder as he quickly scanned the other two assassins. He felt Aya mentally tagging along, curious to know how his friends were doing. Both men were calmer today, most likely due to the pain they were in. Kudoh was huddled in his bed, refusing to leave it unless he had to, afraid of having any more visions when he touched something. Hidaka was doing push-ups, just to have something to do. "They’re like Aya, everything is all gone. I’m going to work on his shields tonight, tomorrow I’ll start with Kudoh." The longhaired man found himself jealous when Aya’s thoughts lingered on the blond, clearly worried about the man. <You can do his toni->

<We’re working on yours first.> It came out as a snarl, as Schuldig shoved Aya off of his lap and stood up. "In fact we’ll get to work on them right now, leave us alone for the next couple of hours."

Crawford sat there as he watched a furious Schuldig drag an equally furious Fujimiya back to their room. "Who needs cable with those two around," he commented quietly.

Farfarello laughed some more, then surprised his teammates by singing in English. "When will we be married Molly, when will we be wed? When will we be bedded in the same bed? I made a black bow for ye pretty head, when will we be married Molly, when will we be wed? I made a black bow for ye bonny head. When will we be married Molly, when will we be wed? When will we be bedded in the same bed?" He laughed some more. "Oh, that’s gonna be one hell of a chase, heh." An amber eye turned to sparkle cheerfully at a stunned Nagi and Crawford. "A merry one indeed. They’re such a cute couple." He then returned his attention back to his meal.

"I think I’m going to finish setting up my computer," Nagi said as he slid out of his seat. What he really meant was that he was going to hide in his room for the rest of the evening. A quiet, jealous Schu, a smiling Crawford, and now a singing, matchmaking Farfie. He’d had his quotient of unnatural things that night.

Oracle sighed as he watched the youth flee. It meant that he was stuck with the dishes and taking Kudoh and Hidaka their dinners, but didn’t foresee any trouble in that regard. Ignoring a once more singing Irishman, he started to gather up the plates.

*******

Aya glared at Schuldig as he was pushed onto the bed. <Why won’t you help Kudoh first?>

"Because he won’t drive everyone in close range mad if left unshielded." The older man collapsed on the bed and scooted up to rest against the headboard. He then started to pull Aya onto his lap, only to be faced with a struggling wild man once more. <Dammit, we need to work on your shields, and I need you close when we do that. Holding hands ain’t gonna cut it here.> When he received a swollen lip for his efforts he retracted his shields, leaving Aya gasping as the voices overwhelmed him. Once he had the smaller man sitting in his lap he extended them again. <I’m sick of this shit. Stop fighting me, the sooner we get some walls up in your head the sooner we don’t have to stay in contact anymore.> He ignored the well of anger and frustration that thought generated.

For his part Aya just rested his head against Schuldig’s neck, quietly hating the man as he snuggled closer. He didn’t think he could take any more voices that day, and had no choice but to obey for once. As he rested against the German he felt a hand stroke through his hair, another one slid under his borrowed shirt and started to knead his tense neck muscles. <I’m sorry, but you irritate the hell out of me.> The two of them remained like that for several minutes, until Aya felt some of the tension in their bodies ease.

<Alright, let’s begin. First off, what do you know about medieval armor? The European kind, not samurai.>

Aya concentrated on the question for a moment. <Metal. Heavy, ineffectual, inflexible.>

Schuldig’s amusement filled his mind. <Well, some of it was, at least the type you see in the movies. Certainly helped the crusaders to get their asses whipped early on. Your old shields were sort of like that, too solid, yet leaving places where thoughts, like a blade, could slip through. You need a new type, one like chain mail.> Schuldig sent an image of what he was talking about. <It’s a bit like your slat armor here. Lighter, more flexible. It seems rather porous, in a way it is, you won’t be able to block out all thoughts, but that is good. Helps to keep you aware of what’s happening around you. That’s the type I have, and what I’m going to teach you. Thing is, we have to start from scratch, and build it link by link. That’s going to take a while, and even when you have it done, it will need a lot of reinforcing.> Aya closed his eyes as the enormity of the task stared him in the face.

<What happened to the bastard responsible for all of this?>

<Zersplittern? Crawford gave him to Farfie. Who cut off his fingers and lips, and took out his eyes from what I understand. So he couldn’t touch anymore, or smile, or see his victims’ tears. You can tell that guy’s Irish, he waxes poetic at the weirdest moments. Cut him up a bit more, then left him alive. He wanted our employers to finish the job for him, thought it would hurt God and the bastard more that way.> Schuldig waited for Aya to be repulsed by the confession, but all he felt was some smug satisfaction that the man had been made to pay for hurting his friends. There was no concern for Aya himself. Holding the man tighter for a moment, Schuldig reflected on how he had to make the stubborn fool start caring for himself again. <Okay, let’s get started. First we have to build a secure foundation…>

The evening passed quickly as the two men labored to rebuild Aya’s shields, until they fell asleep in the middle of a lesson. Crawford found them still resting against the bed’s headboard and covered them with a blanket. Then went off to his own bed, to dream of what he would do after Schwarz gained their freedom.

*******

Ken looked up when the door opened, expecting to see Nagi again. The boy had brought him some breakfast and stayed while he’d eaten it, and had even smuggled him the sports sections from the past few days as well. He found himself liking the youth despite the situation and looking forward to his presence. At least it was some alleviation from the boredom of being trapped in a small room. So it was a bit of a shock when he saw the longhaired man, Schuldig, step into the room with two boxes in one hand and Aya’s wrist in the other.

"Aya! You’re okay, aren’t you? How have they been treating you?" Ken rushed over to his teammate, only to be shocked first when the man flinched back from him and again when he caught a good look at him. Aya appeared as if he hadn’t eaten for weeks; the black garments hung on his slender frame and his cheekbones looked as if they would break out through his pallid skin. There were dark circles under the violet eyes, which were shadowed with pain, and the crimson hair was shaggier than he’d ever seen it. It looked as if it had been hacked with a dull knife, the bangs reached down to Aya’s mouth and the eartails halfway down his chest. With a curse he turned around to scowl at the foreigner. "What the hell did you do to him?" For a moment, as adrenaline flooded through his veins, Ken caught a vision of Aya and Schuldig in the middle of a pitched battle, side by side as Aya wielded a sword and the German a gun. Schuldig touched a hand tenderly to the swordsman’s cheek before they raced in opposite directions with blinding speed, taking down everyone in their path.

His teammate’s voice broke through the vision, filling his head with words. <What are you talking about, Hidaka? He didn’t do anything to me, well besides bring me here.>

Halting his assault on Schuldig, Ken turned around to face his friend again. "Aya? Was that you in my head?" The redhead nodded. "You’re a telepath?" That earned him another nod. "Shit." Again with the nod. Guess Aya was all right after all. The athlete collapsed on the chair that Nagi used when he visited.

This was real. He couldn’t deny it anymore. Ken’s failure to have any power show up had given him hope that their kidnappers had been mistaken. But Aya proving to be a telepath, and then the weird vision that had appeared out of nowhere when he’d been about to fight… "Shit." They were talented. They really were.

<Kudoh too. Sorry, Hidaka.>

"It’s okay, Aya. Don’t see how you are to blame for this. Must have been all that radioactive waste I played in when I was a kid." He smiled weakly at his friend, got the ghost of a smile back in response. "You look like hell. Do me a favor and eat something. Then take a nap." If Omi saw the man the teenager would have a fit. "Wait a second, Omi-"

"Isn’t talented, or he’d be here," Schuldig cut in, easily following Hidaka’s thoughts. "Which is a good thing, since he can’t be trusted. As it stands he was responsible for reporting any incidences about your powers to Persia. Kid was ratting on you the whole time you were in Weiß."

Ken shoved himself out of the chair, furious once more. "Now wait a minute, Omi is a friend you prick."

Aya’s thoughts filled his head as he struggled with the urge to gut the smug foreigner. <He’s not lying. I’ve seen it in his head, the reports Tsukiyono filed on us. Before you ask, no, he didn’t make them up. I can tell.> The reports flooded his mind, reeking of Omi’s personality and concerning incidents that happened before Aya had joined the team. He doubted they were fake either.

Great, he’d been betrayed by yet another friend. When was he ever going to learn?

Schuldig tossed a package over to him. "Not that it’ll help any, after the latest revelation, but here’s an electric razor and some more toiletries. And congratulations, you just had your first official vision. Looks like you lucked out, Crawford’s usually give him one hell of a headache."

"Yeah, well I still have the same one from yesterday, so how can you tell? Another thing, what the hell is up with you two?" He’d never seen anyone touch Aya, at least not more than once, and here they had been practically holding hands for the past five minutes.

<The guy tore our shields down. I can’t keep out anyone’s thoughts without Schu’s help. So we have to keep in contact with each other, at all times.> A sense of irritation and embarrassment came with the sparse explanation.

Setting the package aside, brown eyes sought out violet. ‘That means…’

<That I can’t leave, Ken, not until my shields are back at full strength. Not- not even then.> Aya shared his knowledge with the younger man, feeling a blinding headache build as he pushed his new talent too far. But Hidaka had to be made to understand before he did something reckless; the man tended to put his friends’ welfare before his own. He had to know that escape would only worsen things. At least for now.

A string of curses let him know when the realization had hit the brunet. ‘Aya, are you sure? Maybe it’s some sort of trick or something.’

<I wish. It’s not.> It was getting to be too much to keep up the conversation. <It’s not. Ask Nagi.> Aya leaned against Schuldig, grudgingly accepting the arm about his waist and the strength that came with it. He felt Ken’s anger and surprise to see him rest against what should be an enemy, but was too tired to care. Starting to build his shields last night had exhausted him, so much that he hadn’t cared when Schuldig had leered at him all through his shower that morning, holding on to his arm to keep him upright.

Schuldig started to usher Aya to the door. "Neither him nor I am lying, Hidaka. But you’ll have to figure it out yourself. Just don’t hurt Nagi while you’re doing that, or I’ll have your head. He’s mine to torment." <I’ll take care of your friend, stop worrying about him. Besides, you’re the one who abandoned him to play with a bunch of brats, leaving him alone while he did this to himself. A little late to be concerned now.> Parting shot taken, Schuldig closed the door on the stunned man’s face, and smiled when curses drifted through the door. He didn’t think him and the brunet would be friends anytime soon.

"Come on, kleins Veilchen, let’s go lay down for a little while. It isn’t wise for you to use your power like that, not so early. It’s like running a marathon right after learning to walk. Take your time."

<I’m not a little anything, stop calling me that. We’re going to see Kudoh first.>

It was like a universal truth or something; a day couldn’t go by until he soundly cursed out the man’s stubborn nature. <So you can collapse at his feet?>

"Kudoh." The name was snarled out, and Aya took a step in the direction of the blond’s room after savagely tugging on Schuldig’s hair.

//"Damn your stubborn nature."// Schuldig gave in, feeling jealous and infuriated at the same time. Which surprised him, especially at the intensity of the emotions. Very well, let Kudoh get an eyeful of Aya draped all over him. On second thought, that wasn’t such a bad idea. Smile back on his face, the older telepath keyed open the door, making sure to keep the code behind his shield. Tucking the package firmly under his arm, he opened the door, yanked Aya through it, and closed it behind them.

Yohji looked up from where he was curled up on bed, then did a double take upon seeing Aya. "Aya!" Faster then the telepaths expected he lunged off of the bed, trying to snatch his friend away from Schuldig. He confusedly thought that the German had dragged the redhead here to use as blackmail.

Upon impact Aya desperately clutched at Schuldig’s arm, who in return refused to let go of the smaller man. All three of them ended up on the floor. Yohji’s ungloved hand came in contact with Aya’s cheek, and both assassins’ minds were flooded with thoughts and images.

Pictures flashed by almost too quick for Yohji to catch; an expensive house, distant adults, a cheerful girl that was featured in most of the images. An explosion, the girl’s broken body, a hospital room, a strange center filled with flowers and an older man with a sword, more strangers, what looked like another Kritiker team, then blood. So much blood. Pictures of him, Omi and Ken, events that he recalled happening, seen from a different angle. The three of them walking out of the shop, supposedly forever. A wave of despair and loneliness, back breaking labor and a tiny apartment filled only with a futon, table and books, pain and listlessness on top of everything. As the images came to an end agony overwhelmed him, voices in his head that only the German’s presence could still, an annoying yet protective mind that kept him safe. There was worry for him and Ken, underneath the hurt that his teammates hadn’t cared for him, had left him when he’d needed them, the pain so deep when Aya thought of him-

Yohji found himself slammed back onto his bed, Schuldig glaring at him venomously as he huddled protectively over a panting Aya on the floor. The pale man had his eyes closed and his arms wrapped tightly around the other telepath’s waist, disappearing underneath his shirt. Schuldig had one hand cupping Aya’s face, the other one came to settle on the crimson hair. "Keep away from him, Arschloch."

Panting himself, Yohji tried to understand what had just happened. His head felt like it was ready to explode. With a moan he struggled to sit up and grabbed at his bottle of pain relievers, swallowing several without the benefit of water. "What the- the hell happened?" He could still see the images if he closed his mind, still feel Aya’s emotions.

"You touched him, and both of your powers kicked in. He’s a telepath, he felt everything you did, heard your thoughts. While you saw things from his past and present, felt what he was feeling at the time. Still think you’re just imaging things, Dummkopf? Put on the damn gloves and don’t take them off until we get you some shields." Aya’s eyes drifted open and he let out a moan. He struggled to sit upright, letting Schuldig pull him into the bigger man’s lap. The German kept his arms around Aya’s waist, who rested his head back on his shoulder.

The blond could only stare at the couple sitting on the floor, still caught up in Aya’s feelings. So much loneliness and pain, it echoed through his mind. There had been something about him at the end, but Schuldig had parted them before he could catch all of it. "But, why?" His brain refused to grasp what was happening. What couldn’t be happening. It had been bad enough to imagine stuff as he touched things, but this…

<Isn’t your fucking imagination! Anytime you touch a person who doesn’t have any shields, that is what will happen. You will be inside their heads and memories. Normally they won’t notice anything going on, but Aya’s a telepath, he was caught in the loop with your thoughts.>

"Then, what I saw, that was real? The girl and the blood, the loneliness and needing you to keep the voices out?" Aya reluctantly nodded his head.

"Alleluia! The heathen has been converted! Finally, you moron. Of course it was real. Everything you’ve been feeling the past day or so has been. Why do you think Crawford gave you the damn gloves?" Aya started at the yelling, a frown pulling at his lips. He grabbed a long lock of hair and yanked on it, letting Schuldig know he wasn’t happy about the burgeoning fight.

Stung by the words, Yohji snarled back at the foreigner. "Well pardon the hell out of me, I’ve never been psychic before! What, I’m just supposed to take the word of some freaks who kidnapped me?"

"No, you’re just supposed to use the brain you were born with, Blondie. Quite the detective, I must say. It’s amazing you found-"

<Shut. Up> Schuldig blinked at the command, as Yohji stared in wonder at Aya. Both men found themselves unable to talk for a few seconds. That was all Aya needed. <Schu, teach him. Kudoh, behave and learn something.> He hissed in pain and closed his eyes, tilting his head until it rested against Schuldig’s neck. Yohji’s emotions were swamping him; anger, shock, pain and jealousy. Aya didn’t want to be inside a friend’s head, it made him feel unclean. So he huddled closer to Schuldig, seeking to take refuge deeper behind the man’s shields.

Tucking back the silky bangs covering Aya’s face, Schuldig let out a long suffering sigh. //"You’re a bossy bit of goods, little one."// There, he caught a flash in the smaller man’s mind. The quiet bastard knew German, had taken to studying it after he’d joined Kritiker. While not an expert in it by any means, he’d understood almost all of what he’d spoken the past couple of days. <You do realize that I’m going to make you speak it now, don’t you?> Aya answered back with a wave of irritation and another yank, tired and his head hurting too much to care about anything at the moment. <Keep it up and I’m going to be bald.> "Kudoh, toss me the pills please. And that bottle of water." Yohji did was he was told, watching anxiously as Aya took the medicine and then fixed him with a cold stare.

<Get started, the two of you.>

It was getting to him, seeing Aya being held by someone. Especially one of the pricks responsible for this mess. Even if he’d picked up on the reason from the brief contact with his teammate’s mind, Yohji was rather upset over the matter. The redhead had no right to be cozying up to the enemy like that. "Geez, Aya, can’t you speak normal anymore?" All Yohji got in return was a shi-ne glare. Schuldig filed away the fact that the potent look actually had its own name, no wonder it was so damn effective.

<Okay, Blondie, we’re giving you the crash course on shielding today, just the basics to get you started.>

The lanky man settled back on his bed, uncomfortable at having Schuldig in his head, not to mention sitting on his floor with Aya in his arms. "Can’t this wait til later? Get Aya out of here."

"He’s the stubborn fool insisting that I do this. I don’t think you quite grasp the situation you’re in here, Kudoh. You can’t touch _anyone_ or _anything_ until you have shields. Else you’ll slowly go mad from all the images and emotions assaulting you. You wanna spend the rest of your life all wrapped up?"

Emerald green eyes blinked. "What do you mean, anyone? I can’t touch people anymore?" The American had mentioned something along those lines yesterday.

Schuldig gritted his teeth. "I repeat, you can’t touch anything, unless you want to be overwhelmed by your talent and go mad. Am I speaking Japanese here or what?" He got a halfway decent glare in return. Between Aya, Crawford and Nagi he was pretty much immune to ones tossed his way by mere mortals. "Unless you are wearing gloves and clothes all the time. With some training we’ll get it so only when you touch something with your hands will you sense anything, and with a lot of training it will be only when you want it too. We’re talking a couple of years down the road for the later."

Yohji felt his stomach drop. "You’ve got to be kidding. I can’t touch anyone with my hands for a couple of _years_? That’s insane."

"Don’t forget ‘the not at all part’, it’ll take several months of training before we get to the first level, if you work real hard." Oh, this was just too good. Schuldig sat there with a smile on his face while the irritating bastard realized what that meant.

"NO SEX?" Aya twitched at the yell, then settled back against Schu as the telepath’s amusement and spite washed through him, covering Yohji’s disbelief, anger and shock. "You’re lying!"

Schuldig shook his head. "No, I’m perfectly serious. Just try touching anyone else. Unless they are shielded you’ll get lost in their memories and thoughts, which is not a good thing let me tell you, when you’re trying to keep it up. Hence, no sex. Ready for the lesson to begin now?"

In a state of shock, Yohji sank back down on the bed and nodded his head. As Schuldig started to teach him the basics of his talent, Aya hn’ed and closed his eyes. He worked on his own shields during the lesson, slowly knitting his defenses from scratch. The sooner he got them up he could be free of Schuldig, of the constant hum of the man’s thoughts and emotions. Not to mention the touching part. It worried him, just how much he was starting to get used to all of this. Aya had depended on someone once before and had lost her forever, his life made all the bleaker for that. Unlike Hidaka he had learned his lesson, not to let anyone get close. Especially after Weiß had broken apart. So he pushed past the exhaustion and pain and started building once more.

*******

"I’m sorry to report, Tsukiyono-san, that Hidaka-san has not shown up for work since last Wednesday." With that the school secretary hung up. Omi stared at the cell phone in his hand for a minute or two, suddenly shook himself and got up from his bed to go sit in front of his computer. Something was wrong, he’d felt that way all weekend long, and now he was finding out that his suspicions were correct.

The young blond had faked a stomachache and left school shortly after his classes, retreating back to the tiny apartment he’d gotten after Weiß had disbanded. He’d decided to check up on his former teammates, after worrying about them for days.

The bad feeling had started when Ken had failed to email him about whether or not his kids had won their soccer game last Wednesday. The brunet had never failed to do so before, usually he got these long, rambling letters that practically replayed every move of the game. At first Omi had told himself that the man was probably out celebrating or something, or too busy to write his normal epic missive. Then Yohji had failed to email him, which the man always did before the start of every weekend. The worry had built some more, and on Sunday Omi had broken down and tried calling both of them. Only to find that Ken’s phone had been disconnected. And that Yohji wasn’t answering his, on a day the man practically spent the whole entire time in bed.

So he had decided to wait til today and try calling both men at their respective jobs. Once again he came up with nothing. Yohji not at work wasn’t so troubling, but Ken… The man had loved his job, had gone on and on about how this was his chance to maybe become head coach for a really good school one day. There was no way in hell Ken would just walk away from that. The computer turned on and ready, Omi started pulling up files that he hadn’t used in a couple of months. He started checking to see if either man had used their credit cards or cell phones within the past few days, if there were any police or hospital reports filed on them. While the programs did their thing, Omi also started a search on Aya. The redhead had made it pretty clear that he didn’t want anything to do with Weiß after they had decided to break up, and had refused to keep in touch with any of them. He’d been worried about Aya’s attitude, considering how reckless the man could be at times, as if he had a death wish, but had let the matter slide. Omi had thought that he could always track Aya down at a later time, and had focused on setting up his life as a normal teenager. It seemed it was that time right now.

As the search engines failed to bring anything up, Omi felt his stomach truly start to ache, slowly filling with dread. Something indeed was going on. Ken and Yohji wouldn’t just disappear off the face of the earth. He’d give the programs a little longer, then he’d go to their apartments himself. There was no way he was going to just sit here while the men he’d considered his family might be in danger.

*******

"Ken, catch."

Ken looked up in time to prevent a soccer ball from hitting him in the face. Fielding the object with ease, he then started to bounce the ball from knee to knee. "Watch it, Nagi. You don’t want to spoil my gorgeous looks."

The younger teenager’s lips curved into a slight smile. Ken had come to understand over the past week that this was quite an accomplishment to achieve from the reserved boy. It was on par to getting a smile from Aya. Nagi had taken to spending about half the day in his room, keeping him from going crazy from the confinement and teaching him how to shield his mind. Since his talent was one that usually showed up when it willed, there hadn’t been much in the way other than basic mental training. As it was he’d only had two more visions, both of them revolving around fights; he hadn’t been able to make much sense of them. Schuldig, and in effect Aya, had stopped by a couple of times to check his progress, but for the most part his only companion was Nagi. Not that Ken really minded, since the quiet boy had a wicked sense of humor, and listened patiently as he rambled on and on about soccer. "So how do I rate a projectile weapon?"

Nagi telekinetically pulled a chair over to him and sat down. Seeking to stall answering the question for a moment, he glanced about the room. Most of the damage from Ken’s enraged assault had been repaired, and sports magazines littered the sparse furnishings. Crawford hadn’t let him bring anything but those to the athlete. Maybe he could try to wheedle a small television or radio out of the man in a few days. "I talked to Crawford, he said… if you behave yourself tonight, that we could go up to the roof and play up there one day. It’s a wide open area, only we have access to it, and there are fences all around that should keep the ball from falling off if we are careful." Fences that would also keep escape-minded assassins in as well.

Dark brown eyes regarded the youth seriously. "What’s happening tonight?"

"We have a mission. You three will be left here alone, locked in your rooms."

For a moment Ken was tempted to ask his young friend what the mission was about, and Nagi’s part in it, but decided it would be best not to. Besides, soon enough it would be his turn, from what he was told. "I assume there is no chance in hell of us escaping while you’re gone?"

Nagi nodded his head. "The elevator will be locked on the first floor, and its doors sealed. Along with the doors to your rooms. Kudoh’s cigarette lighter will be confiscated, in case he decides to start a fire while we’re gone." He looked up in wonder when the older man started to laugh.

"Oh, I’ll be hearing him pound on the wall all night then, screaming for his nicotine fix. At least he’s got his porno mags to keep him satisfied." Nagi smiled again, and refrained from commenting that Crawford had allowed the blond that small indulgence more as a means of incentive and torment, reminding him of what he couldn’t have until he got his power under control. Nor did he say anything about how Schuldig had combed through the magazines and had removed any and all pictures of redheads before turning them over to Kudoh. Nagi didn’t think that his teammate had even truly been aware of why he had done such a thing. He’d most likely been distracted by Aya punching him repeatedly for the comments Schuldig had made while flipping through the pages.

Tossing the ball around a few more times, Ken caught it between his hands and fell onto the bed. "Well, since escape is futile, as you keep saying, guess I’ll behave. No promises for Yohji though. I’ll just get my revenge by kicking your ass at soccer when we play." He fixed his friend with a narrowed gaze. "And no powers, I catch you using them and I use your head as target practice." Both of them smiled at the empty threat, knowing that even if the ball could connect with Nagi’s head that Ken would never do such a thing. "Hey, wait a minute, what about Aya? I thought he had to stick close to Schuldig for the next couple of weeks. You said the three of us, isn’t he tagging along on the mission?"

"No, Schuldig can’t fight with him there, so Aya is going to be doped up for the night. He’ll be so deeply asleep that he won’t be able to sense a thing." The soccer ball was suddenly jerked from Ken’s hands and floated over to the younger man. "You can imagine how happy he was to hear about that."

A tanned arm reached out and tried to snatch the ball back. "Hey, my present. Just how badly was Schuldig hurt on that one?" Not caring a bit for the German bastard, one of the highlights of Ken’s days anymore was hearing Nagi recount just how Aya had abused the man between visits. He’d never thought that his friend could be so inventive, and hoped to never piss Aya off that much.

After fighting over the ball for a few moments Nagi let it go, causing Ken to fall back onto the bed with it. Which earned him a stuck out tongue that he returned. "Schu was limping for hours afterwards. Didn’t help that he’d commented on how he’d slip some Viagra into the pills so he could put Aya’s violent tendencies to better use. I used to think the man was smart, but now I’m not so sure."

"Nagi, only an idiot would deliberately piss Aya off. It’s as simple as that."

*******

Aya flowed across the exercise room, Schuldig pressed against his back and moving along with him. One of the older man’s arms was about his bare chest, the other held his wrist. The both of them shifted through the various katas, flawlessly in sync with each other. It had taken them a few days to get the rhythm down pat, what with Schuldig’s unfamiliarity with the motions and his longer legs. But practice and telepathy solved those problems, and once again Aya could lose himself in sword practice. It helped to calm and center him, putting him in the perfect frame of mind to work on his shields. Which even after a week were barely begun. The hardest part was setting up a firm base for the mental walls, each day it got a little easier, but it would clearly still be another couple of weeks before he and Schuldig could be apart for any length of time.

Ending the pattern, Aya came to a halt, his bamboo sword lowering until the tip touched the ground. Behind him Schuldig ran a hand up his sweat slickened chest until he put a halt to it right below one of his nipples. <Stop that or you’ll see how much damage a piece of wood can do.>

//"You’re no fun, little violet."// For a moment the fingers trapped underneath his hand teased at his skin, then went still. <Come on, we have to wash off and I have to start getting ready for tonight.> Aya’s anger flared for a few heartbeats, until he pushed the emotion aside and started for the door. The bamboo sword was left on a shelf beside it, and the two of them made their way to their room.

<In a hurry to commit mass mayhem?>

Schuldig frowned at the scathing comment. <We have been given a job to do, it would be insane, not to mention suicidal, to ignore our orders. No one bothers to ask us if we want to take part, you and the rest were coddled.>

Aya slammed their bedroom door closed. <So that makes it all right to kill a bunch of people, since you have no choice in the matter?>

It was the same damn argument that had been going on ever since the mission was mentioned. Getting a better grip on the slim wrist, Schuldig sat on the bed and pulled Aya onto his lap. Then ignored, as best he could, the resulting blow to his stomach. Dammit, he was getting as immune to pain as Farfie thanks to the little ingrate. "Listen to me, I’m going to explain this only once. You best stop thinking in shades of white and black, good and evil. You killed people, we kill people. There’s no difference. And don’t give me that shit that you only targeted criminals. What about all those guards you mowed down? What were their crimes, other than making a bad career decision?" Violet eyes glared at him, luminous with fury, but Aya remained quiet.

"A lot of the jobs Schwarz will receive over the next few months will involve cleaning up the mess that Kritiker, and Weiß, made. You guys just killed anybody you were told to, leaving a series of vacuums to be filled with an even worse element than that which Weiß had just eliminated. We’ve been sent, in part, to correct that situation. Schwarz will see to it that order is restored to Tokyo’s underworld. Granted Esset will ultimately benefit from this and use that control for its own purposes, but crime as a whole will go down. Just you wait and see. You and your friends practically tore this city apart. That’s not exactly what I consider to be a noble crusade. And we rarely bother to kill innocents; you have to have your hands dirty somehow to catch our bosses’ attention. So get used to it, it’s not like any of us have a choice here."

<Rarely, but sometimes you still do.>

The man had a one-track mind. Schuldig reached up and entangled a long strand of crimson hair with his fingers. He gently pressed his lips against Aya’s, feeling the slender form on his lap tense at the touch. <Yes, sometimes we do. I never said we were good. Welcome to the grey area, Aya. I don’t know if I should envy you, for still possessing a sliver of conscience, or feel abject pity for you.> The other man didn’t have a response to that, instead he quietly stood up and turned away. Schuldig followed.

They headed into the bathroom. No longer needing the mental chiding to place his clothes in the hamper, Schuldig peeled off his sweats and tossed them in, holding the lid up so Aya could do the same with his clothes. A week living with a violent neat freak had started to affect him. Grabbing some towels the German gestured for Aya to get his shower first, making sure to keep a firm hold on a slim wrist through the shower curtain, green eyes roving over the pale form as it was washed off. <You know, it would be a hell of a lot easier if we just shared a shower.>

<No way in hell.> Oh well, at least Aya no longer made him turn around, the both of them had learned which battles they could win and which ones had to be ignored if they wanted to keep from killing each other. This was one of them, the debate over ethics was clearly becoming another as well. For his part Schuldig kept his hands to himself and the building lust behind his shields, else Aya would yank rather painfully on his hair or twist his arm when sensing the emotion. The smaller man did not deal well with being seen as an object of desire and never failed to react in a negative manner when he felt Schuldig lusting after him. That still didn’t discourage him from wanting the man. He wasn’t made of stone, after all. Just wished he was most days, whenever another of Aya’s blows landed.

Damn but the man was just too sexy for words. Aya was slowly starting to regain back the weight he’d lost, his skin taking on a healthier cast. Another couple weeks of regular meals and he’d look much like he had when in Weiß. Schuldig leaned against the bathroom wall and kept his eyes locked on the slender figure, enjoying the sight before him. All too soon for his tastes Aya was stepping out of the shower, reaching out for a towel. "Need any help drying off?" All he got back was a wave of irritation and an evil glare that quickly shied away after catching sight of his semi-erect cock. Oops, no matter how well he shielded his thoughts, his body always gave him away. As soon as towel was wrapped around Aya’s waist a hand came up to smack the back of his head. Rubbing the sore area Schuldig glared back and took his turn in the shower. "Do you have to be so mean?"

As it was a glare and a smack was pretty mild to what he’d received even a few days ago. He was wearing down Aya’s defenses, even now he felt the smaller redhead’s eyes glance his way, taking peeks at his body while he lathered up. Confused thoughts skittered around in that pretty head. Aya was a good several days away from being able to begin blocking any thoughts from him. Hiding his grinning face under the flow of water, Schuldig kept his joy to himself. He’d have his little one wanting him back just as badly yet. Despite the foul temper he put up with the pleasure of being inside Aya’s mind only increased as another day passed. Schuldig couldn’t wait until he was buried just as deep inside that gorgeous white body.

The German stepped out of the shower and had a towel thrown in his face. <I take it this means that you won’t make me the same offer? What a shame.> He jerked his head back in time before losing more hair to the short-tempered man. Aya was too damn good at thinking and reacting at the same time; already he was picking up the speed that most high-level telepaths possessed. It was getting harder and harder to anticipate the man’s moves, not that Schuldig had had much luck in the beginning.

Another frown reminded him to hang up his towel. Sighing at being henpecked already and not even receiving any of the fringe benefits usually associated with that condition, Schuldig did as he was told and dragged Aya out of the bathroom. He stood by as the pale man pulled on the pair of black cotton pants that served as pajamas, once that was done he put on some boxers and walked over to the closet. "As soon as you are up to being out in public we are buying you some new clothes. It’ll be a real challenge, trying to convince you that there are more colors out there besides black and grey."

Aya ran a hand along his shoulder as he pulled on a pair of white pants, shifting the touch to his hip as Schuldig shrugged into a shirt of the same colour. <At least it’s better than white. Do you have any idea how much you must stand out at night?>

<That’s why I wear a green jacket, to blend in. And because it goes so well with my eyes.>

<I hate to break this to you, Schu, but there are no jungles here in Tokyo. All it does is make you stand out even more.> Aya straightened out the jacket’s collar as the foreigner pulled his hair out of the back of it. <It’s almost as colorful as your hair. And what’s with the sunglasses? It’s dark enough out there. You and Kudoh are nuts.>

Schuldig wound his arm around Aya’s waist, seeking as much physical contact as he could. He never got enough of the tingling sensation touching the man produced. It seemed that Aya felt something similar, as he shivered ever so slightly. <First off, you have no right mocking me about my hair, not when yours is that color. Aren’t you supposed to be Japanese? Secondly, don’t compare me to Kudoh, I’m much sexier and a hell of a lot smarter. One can tell he’s a natural blond.> Despite being an appreciable object of lust, Kudoh annoyed him to no ends, what with his obdurate refusal to accept the situation at hand. Even Ken, whom he swore was the thicker headed of the two, had calmed down and was cooperating somewhat.

Scowling back, Aya started to shift away when the door opened. Both men watched Crawford enter the room, a glass of water in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other. "Schuldig, we need to get going. I brought the sleeping pills."

The look intensifying, the smaller telepath sat down on the bed. <Just how strong are these things?>

Brad Crawford didn’t react to the biting anger that accompanied that thought. "You’ll be out til morning. It’s a bit of an overkill, the mission won’t last that long, but they need to be that strong so your talent won’t be active." The American handed over the glass, being careful not to come in contact with Aya’s skin. Schuldig hovered protectively over the man; it was hard not to smile at the jealousy and possessiveness that radiated off of his friend. He then shook out three pills onto an upheld hand.

Violet eyes stared at the pills for several seconds before they were swallowed. The eyes then lifted to glare at the two foreign men.

"I know, you hate this. I have the bruises to prove it." Schuldig stroked his hand through the crimson locks, restoring them to order as Aya snarled softly. It just took a couple of minutes for the pills to take effect; he could feel the younger man grow sleepy under his touch. Aya leaned back until he was lying down, Schuldig sitting next to him and stroking his cheek. Ten minutes later the swordsman was out cold. Cautiously pulling his hand away, Schuldig waited to see if there would be any projected wall of voices, but nothing happened. "That’s it, we can leave now." It felt so strange not having a trace of Aya’s mind in his, to lose the tingle of pleasure that had been ever-present the past week. "Let’s get this over with." Schuldig didn’t like it, and wanted it back as soon as possible. Everything felt so empty and cold now.

Crawford raised an eyebrow at his friend’s tone of voice. "One would almost think you were actually eager to do some work. Now that’s not natural." He bit back on a smile as Schuldig hauled him out of the room, pausing to look back on the sleeping figure before locking the door.

<Nothing will happen tonight, right?>

"I haven’t seen anything. They should all be here, safe and sound, until we come back. Now stop worrying and focus on the mission."

Tossing back his hair, Schuldig scowled at his leader. "I’m not worried. Let’s go kill someone."

As they walked down the hall and met up with Prodigy and Berserker, Oracle reflected on what an amusing thing denial was. For his part Nagi wondered at the smile on the precog’s face as he handed Schuldig his guns. Someone looked too satisfied for words.

*******

Mastermind let the drug lord fall dead at his feet. "Are we done now?"

"Restrain Berserker and we can go home for the night." Crawford pushed his glasses back up his nose as he watched the longhaired man in a flash cross over to where Farfarello was busy stabbing a poor bodyguard in the intestines. Schuldig touched the madman on the shoulder for a few seconds and then stepped back. Farfarello pulled out his blade and slit his victim’s throat, standing onto his feet. The white outfit he wore was saturated with blood. <Prodigy, are you finished as well?>

The Japanese youth soon appeared in the doorway and telekinetically pushed aside the bodies in his path as he crossed the room. "I’ve obtained the information we need, and have destroyed the meth lab." There were dark rings under the hazel eyes, a sign that Nagi had overworked his power.

"Then let’s go." Leading the way, Oracle brought his men out of the now silent warehouse. Things were now perfect for the lackey chosen by Esset to take over the meth production and distribution in this half of the city. It was always nice to be able to turn in a successful mission, especially after a few eyebrows had been raised when Zersplittern had surfaced in a hospital. Not that the elders had minded once they’d received the report on how the Austrian had almost destroyed the new recruits’ minds. Schwarz, however, needed to prove that capturing and so far holding onto the former Weiß was not a one-time fluke, and that it was a wise choice leaving Tokyo in their hands. This mission should help silence the team’s detractors, and look good on their records.

*******

It wasn’t much longer before the four young men were seated in the BMW and speeding back to their new home. Farfarello was wrapped in an old coat and licking one of his knives clean in the passenger seat up front, Schuldig was in the back with a dozing Nagi leaning against him. The teenager’s presence just made him ache all the more for his Aya, for the man’s mind and body. He felt incomplete and cold, kept waiting for a caustic comment or a yank on his hair as Aya pressed against him and flowed through his mind.

Schuldig had to finally admit that he was addicted to the other telepath, to the way the man’s mind felt in his, the pleasure that was generated whenever they touched. A couple of hours away had proven just how much. He swore he could feel the distance between them shrink with each passing second, his nerves tingling as they came closer together. As soon as the car pulled into the complex’s garage Schuldig opened the door and jumped out, startling Nagi out of his nap when he fell unsupported onto the back seat. "Huh?"

"Relax, Nagi, and help me get Berserker back upstairs. Schuldig won’t be of any use until he has Fujimiya close again." Crawford assisted the boy out of the car and waited for him to pull Farfarello along as well; the Irishman as usual was lost in his mad thoughts, much like he always was after a mission. Farfarello barely noticed when he was telekinetically grabbed and forced to walk over to the elevator. Once there the three Schwarz waited for the elevator to come back down so they could ride up to their floor.

"You’d think he could have waited for us." Nagi was eager to make sure that Ken hadn’t tried anything and gotten hurt, but he at least hadn’t abandoned his teammates or responsibilities.

Combing back his unruly bangs, Crawford let a tiny smile crease his face. "Poor Schu is discovering just how much he’s come to like Fujimiya nearby, even if he is abused regularly. He’s taking it better than I had thought he would, though I feel sorry for the object of his affections."

Hazel eyes stared at the smug American. "You’ve seen something happening between the two of them, haven’t you?" Nagi wasn’t surprised when he didn’t receive a reply. "Just how much do you know is going to happen with our new teammates?" The elevator door opened and they stepped inside.

"Let me say just enough to ensure you that things will be very interesting and amusing for a while to come, and that the poor boys will become completely entangled with Schwarz. Soon it won’t so much be their untrained talents keeping them by our side, but their hearts."

*******

Tossing open the door to his room, Schuldig barreled through and slammed it shut behind him. He rushed over to the bed, where he found Aya curled up exactly as he’d been before he’d left. Stroking a hand along the delicate face, the longhaired man smiled in contentment. The tingle was back, seeming all the stronger for the recent lack of it. He quickly stripped off his clothes, letting the garments and his holstered guns rest wherever they landed.

He crawled naked onto the bed, pulling Aya’s body around until it was pressed against his. Pleasure coursed through him wherever their skin touched, with a growl Schuldig shoved the cotton pants down the sleeping man’s legs. It was a good thing that Aya wasn’t going to wake up for quite some time, or he’d be dead right now. But he needed the feel of the Japanese man touching him, found himself wondering what he was going to do when Aya’s shields were up and he didn’t have an excuse to hold the man anymore. For a second Schuldig pondered sabotaging his pupil’s shields, but discarded the thought after some consideration. Aya and Crawford would kill him when they found out, which they would after time passed and Aya still couldn’t block any thoughts.

//"You’re mine you now, Crawford promised you to me."// He wasn’t going to let the younger man go, it was as simple as that. Schuldig had come to that conclusion on the ride back from the mission, filled with an overpowering sense of want and need. He wasn’t going to make do with not having Aya in his arms anymore when the time came for the enforced closeness to end. There was no way he was letting this go, he deserved some godamned pleasure and contentment. No matter how much Aya infuriated, battered, abused and frustrated him, he’d never felt more alive than when their two minds were entwined, their auras overlapping as they stayed close to each other. //"You’re mine."//

The stubborn, bewitching fool merely slept on. Schuldig slid his mind into Aya’s as he stroked pale skin, wanting the spark of consciousness almost as much as he needed to touch the man. Rubbing himself against the still telepath, he extended his shields once more, taking Aya deep inside of mind. Even though he was unconscious Schuldig still felt that sense of completeness, the bliss that he associated with delving this one particular psyche out of millions. It was as if Aya had been meant for him. He wanted the man so badly, it made him snarl in frustration at the thought that once the other redhead woke up he’d pull away, try to hold him as much at arm’s length as possible.

So he had to make Aya need him back. The foundation was there; the glancing looks, the brief thoughts that made the smaller man blush and think of something else, the mere fact that Schuldig was the only one beside his sister whose touch provoked pleasure and not pain. That alone had worked so much in his favor. Now he had to press his advantage; no matter how much Aya resisted him he couldn’t give up. Aya was his; that was the end of the matter. Now to make the thickheaded man realize that simple fact and not kill him over it. To make Aya want him just as much as he burned right now. It _had_ to be consensual; rape wasn’t an option for a telepath. Not unless they were a seriously fucked up individual like Zersplittern. Besides, if Aya ever found out… death would be a blessing. No, he had to have Aya just as filled with need as he was at that moment, then he could claim his prize.

But for right now what he sought was relief, and far be it for him to resist such an exquisite opportunity before him. It would take a hell of a lot of time and effort to have Aya ever be anywhere near this docile again. Might as well try something. Besides, the man owed it to him, a little pleasure instead of all the abuse he normally received. Grabbing one of Aya’s hands he wrapped it around his cock. Ah, now that was it. He gasped at the pleasure racing through his body at the contact. Distantly he wondered how much better it would feel when the other man was awake and filled with desire, doing this of his own volition. That thought alone almost made him come; Schuldig buried his face in the crook of Aya’s shoulder, kissing the soft flesh as their hands kept pumping. The taste of the man on his tongue, his nerves tingling everywhere their skin touched, added to the pleasure until he finally did orgasm, shouting out loud as his body jerked along in a series of pulses. Drained and sated, Schuldig pulled Aya’s unresisting body closer, mouth nibbling its way to a set of parted lips. Releasing the grip around his now flaccid cock, the longhaired man lifted his hand and traced those lips. He then retraced them with his tongue, licking his essence off of them before delving inside for a sweet taste.

After several minutes he pulled away with a moan and begrudgingly got off the bed. Schuldig hastily showered off and returned to the bed with a damp towel, which he used to clean Aya with, along with the few spots on the comforter. Pulling the black pants back up, Schuldig lifted the slender figure and slid it between the sheets before lying down next to the man. Once Aya was wrapped in his arms he fell asleep, a content smile on his face. //"You’re mine, little violet."//

*******

It amazed Omi how sparse the apartment was. How had Aya managed to live in it for the past two and a half months? All the tiny room held was a thin futon, a low table with a hot plate and a few bowls and a mug on it, a box of tea, and several stacks of books. One door led to a closet barely halfway filled with clothes, another a small bathroom. That was it.

It had taken Omi some time to track down the place, and had only managed to do so after coming across a scholarship fund set up for nursing students in the name of Fujimiya Aya. Backtracking from that had involved quite a bit of work, but finally he had found where Aya had gone after leaving Weiß. First he had stopped by the man’s place of employment, only to find that he too had been missing since last Wednesday. Then Omi had come here, hoping against hope to find the man at home. No such luck.

Crossing over to the closet, he stared into it again. There were a few empty hangers, not many though. A folded pile of boxers on the top shelf was not as neat as the other stacks beside it, hinting that it had been disturbed when someone had grabbed a pair or two from the top. Aya was not the type to worry about his clothes, other than that they were clean. Maybe he had grabbed a change or two and walked off to set up a new life somewhere else, but there was no way he would have left behind the one spot of color amid a sea of black. Aya would never have abandoned his orange sweater.

Just as Ken would never had quit his job, even if his apartment had been pretty much empty besides the furniture, some trash and a few old sports magazines. Yohji’s apartment had also been abandoned, the place a wreck and his precious wardrobe gone, but his car had been found parked on the other side of town two days ago. The blond would never leave behind his precious Seven. At least not willingly.

So Omi was left to believe that something had happened to his friends, that they were either kidnapped or killed. No bodies matching their descriptions had surfaced in any morgues as of yet; it was a faint hope but he clung to the fact that they still might be alive. If they were, he would find them. Ken, Yohji and even Aya were his family, just as much as his half sister Ouka. The young blond wanted them back, safe and sound. But no clues had been left at their apartments, no matter how hard he searched. Omi realized that there was only one option left to him.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone. Omi dialed a number that he had hoped to never have the need to do so again. After a few rings someone answered it. "Manx, it’s Omi. I know I wasn’t supposed to call you anymore, but I have a problem. I think the boys are in some trouble, and need your help to find them." Just like that Omi reactivated Bombay, letting himself be dragged back into Kritiker.

*******

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