Disclaimer: The settings and characters of Weiss Kreuz belongs to Koyasu-san and Project Weiss © I do not know these fine gents from Japan, nor do I claim these characters are mine at all. There will be no need for international lawsuits, since I am a flat broke otaku that just likes to torture these characters.
February 2008 & April 2013
“…Remember the analysis is due next week, and keep working on the project as we will be discussing your progress after lecture as well,” the professor reminds us with a drone tone, his hands busy with putting away notes distributed not too long ago and his markers. I grin when Renee murmurs behind me, just loud enough for me to hear, that he must have a hot date given the fact that he lets us go fifteen minutes early. To give you all time to work on the project, said the man.
Given the fact that the professor, known to be a hardcore trainer where he expects every single one of us to be an expert in musical analysis and teaches us as if we’ve all had years of training in the subject, has never dash out of the room so fast before, I can only guess that Renee must have obtained some “street words” that is too accurate to be a lie once again. Surpressed snickers erupt from various corners of the classroom, and I find myself hard to restrain a wide smile while putting my pencils (various colors too) and eraser into the pencil pouch and packing up lazily. I soon find myself with a koala bear hanging over my shoulders, Renee watching me tapping the many pages of notes and score papers on the table to arrange them before putting them into my designated foder. “So, is your lovey-dovey boyfriend coming to pick you up after this?”
I feel the heat rise to my face slightly, and glare at the girl who befriends me whether I like it or not the first day of class. Schuldich told me after eyeing her for the first time when she followed me out to the sidewalk that she liked me very much and wanted to be my girlfriend if the position was available, and his eyes widened after a minute before bursting out laughing and cried out, “What!? Now you want to know if I have a girlfriend?!”
Renee was surprised at first, but shrugged, “So? You’re both hotties, and you’re roommates. Why can’t I want to date the both of you?”
So Schuldich told her about our relationship, despite laughing so hard that he was practically hanging on my shoulder. And the girl’s reaction was to raise an eyebrow, and shrugged again. “Alright, I’ll be both of your girl friend. Friend only.”
So she has been ever since.
Putting everything neatly into my messenger bag, I push the heavy head off of my shoulder none too gently. Renee isn’t a delicate flower in the least, the girl for some reason has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do despite being a music student. She claims that she’s a singer, so it doesn’t effect her when her hands can easily cause enough damage to the opera set. It’s a wonder there hasn’t been an attempted murder case in the voice department given her fiesty temper.
“Why do you want to know?” I ask, my voice clearly skeptical.
Renee shrugs as she grabs her backpack on the floor and stands an inch behind me, simply waiting for me to exit the row first so she can follow. I allow her to wrap her arm around my own, snuggling up to me and practically sexually harassing me in front of the entire student body. “So I love to feast my eyes on hotties, and your lover boy is one damn nice material. Besides, there’s this shoe sale in Bloomingdale’s that I just have to get to, so you guys are giving me a ride. You know very well how I am with sales.”
Unfortunately, I just know very well of the woman’s obsession with fashion sales, and what she will do to both Schuldich and I if we dare to refuse. I glare at her half-heartedly, the six months of friendship already make me used to her way of thinking and talking. It’s amazing how I always thought Youji’s flirtatious manner to be annoying borderline disturbing, yet I have no problem with Renee, probably because of the absent of threat that comes from the girl. Something about her makes everything she does and says harmless, while there was always a darkness that enveloped Youji. I shouldn’t be the one talking— who in Weiss doesn’t have a darkness of their own? I buried myself in self-served righteousness, and yet I still view the others critically. Hypocrite, yes I am.
“I doubt he’s gonna be here any time soon. We were let out quite early,” I say with a shrug, forcing myself to ignore the sudden thoughts of my previous life. I haven’t thought of Weiss for quite a while, my life busy with school and the work it involves. Of course Schuldich’s suggestion is always right, being a Mastermind gives him an edge in evaluating the situation and anticipate an outcome. Not as accurate as Crawford, but close enough. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I wasn’t the oldest student in the school, therefore no strange glances were towards me aside from my braid. Damn Schuldich and his obsession.
We pick a bench on the sidewalk where I always wait for Schuldich to come to pick me up and sit down. One of the hated side effects from the drugs is that I can no longer drive because of my “mental instability”, much to Farfarello’s enjoyment. Even though I protest quite loudly, Schuldich takes great advantage of my predicament and insists on being my chauffer. Renee told me that he was just being over-protective because he didn’t want any more ‘bugs’ around me, and I sincerely doubt that.
As I sip on the coke that Renee hands me, I listen absent-mindedly as Renee chatters about the ‘people trouble’ within the vocal department. The vocal department always prepares at least one, if not two, operas or musical theatres per school year, and the audition week is always the scariest period of time in the music department. Whether it is fake smiles or sharp words, none-physical fights occur everywhere in the department, and it won’t end until the casts are decided. Of course, Renee is involved in this battle of skills and attitudes, not to mention how well the teacher likes a student, and I’m elected as her best listener despite my reluctance.
“AH!!!!!” the sudden outcry nearly sent me jumping, and I turn with an accusing glare at the girl who nearly blow out my ear drum. Does she not understand that for someone who is “mentally unstable”, I should be treated delicately and not so rough-handled? “I forgot my score!! Son of a— I’ll be right back!! Tell Schuldich not to leave without me!!!”
I massage my poor ears with a wince and nod. The energetic girl jumps up from her seat and runs at full speed back into the Music Building, not wanting to be left behind by the heartless Schuldich whenever she is late. Since her apartment is about four freeway exits from our home, Renee declared that Schuldich has an obligation to take her home if the two of us have the same last class. “As a repayment for watching over the pretty boy,” she claimed. Schuldich’s reply was giving her the finger.
I take out my cell phone from my bag, and dial Schuldich’s number. He picks up within two rings, his tone clearly amusing. “You were let out early?”
“Un,” I say, shifting the weight of the heavy messenger bag in my lap, wondering once again just what kind of junk did I put in here. “Are you almost here?”
“I should be there in 5 minutes,” Schuldich says while turning the music on the radio down so he could hear me better. He always enjoy loud, blasting music, but he only listens to them when he’s alone in the car, knowing that the kind of music he loves would often gives me headache for days. “Where are you guys?”
“Bench at Music Building’s two o’clock,” I say, glancing behind me to see if Renee is out yet. “Ren went to grab her score that she forgot in the classroom. Wait for her.”
“Do I have to?” Schuldich whines playfully.
“You’re no fun,” he says with an audible pout. “If she’s not out in 10 minutes, I am so leaving her here.” With that, he hangs up the cell phone, but not before giving me a kiss that brings a smile to my face. I find it easier to smile nowadays, normal, mundane life feels so natural to me and it was as if no blood ever stained my hands in the past. It’s amazing how easy it has been to ease into this new lifestyle, where the only thing I have to worry is my enormous amount of homework and getting my degree in time. Schuldich told me not to worry, but I want to get at least my Bachelor’s degree before I’m thirty years-old, so he obliges my insistance. Aya-chan is being treated by one of the best doctors in the country, and the last time he visited he assured me that she should be waking up soon. I could hardly wait to see her large eyes and bright face smiling at me again. I’m still a bit scared of her reaction, but Schuldich’s reassurance kept me calm and confident. I’ve turned my life around, so I have nothing to be ashamed of, said the man. I only hope he’s right.
My phone rings suddenly, the ringtone not one my beloved preset for his number, and the long string of numbers is indicative that it’s from Japan. It’s not everyday either Nagi or Crawford calls me, since they usually direct all communications to Schuldich or just call the home. I wonder why either one of them would want to call me, especially at this hour. Isn’t it still bedtime for the two of them? “Hello?”
“Aya! Get out of there now!” comes the voice of Crawford with a panic tone I’ve never heard of before. The static of the long distance phone call makes half of what he says a blur and the other half uncomprehensible sputter.
“Come again?” I ask, covering my other ear where the phone isn’t pressed tightly. Just as I’m waiting for my voice to be delivered across the ocean, a sudden chill runs down my spine that can only mean danger. I straightened right away and turn around, my eyes widen at the familiar face with blood-shot eyes. Blocking the hand that comes at me, I couldn’t get out of the way when piano wires wrap tightly around my body, cutting through the jacket I wear and into the skin underneath. The smell of chlorofoam envelops my senses as I inhale sharply, before I feel myself slumping into waiting arms, and the last thing I hear is the cry of Renee. I hope he doesn’t hurt her….
“…And he jumped into a black sedan, I think it’s a rental, and took off on the Highway D,” says Renee as she wipes escaping tears from her eyes, the ice I got for her in a plastic bag from the cafetaria creates a dull, gurgling sound that reflects the nausea I feel right now. The large bruise that looks painful like hell darkens quite quickly on the girl’s freckled face, making a nasty mix of colors on her cheekbone as if a failed artist accidentally used her as his experiment canvas.
“Thanks Renee,” I say, my voice tight and I feel parched. Each word leaves my lips like a programmed robot voicing what was typed into its command. It’s been decades since I feel such fear and anger; not even when Weiss attempted that stunt last time have I been this afraid. Angered, yes, but with a solid determination that if Aya doesn’t make it I’ll simply join him in the Netherworld… After taking out Weiss and Kritiker with excruciating revenge, of course. But this time, the absence of my beloved in my mind makes each breath a cold, striking pain in my chest. Sort of reminds me of one unbearable training session in Syberia when I was a child, where Estet dropped me and Crawford off with some tools and a small canteen of water and expect us to survive for a week, except this time it hurts even more. “Will you be all right by yourself?” I find myself asking.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Renee waves a hand as she hisses when the movement cause the injuries all over her body pain. That fucking bastard beated her up good. Renee jumped onto Youji when she saw him carrying Aya away, the thick, hard-cover score landed square on the fucker’s head. The memories I read brings a small, cruel smile to my lips, hoping that the girl had caused a serious damage. But Youji had kicked Renee quite hard, using his piano wires to bound her to the ground and punching her on the face, kicking her repeatedly when she fell and only stopping when he found himself attracting the attention of the campus police. The paramedics are on the way, and the policemen hang several feet away making reports to satisfy their bosses and wait for the EMT. I tell Renee to go ahead and use the paramedics and the hospital, and tells her to make sure she goes to the best hospital in town, before jumping into my own car and drive away. I need a place where it’s isolate enough that I can get a clearer view of the minds to track down either Aya or Youji. I’m sure Crawford wouldn’t mind paying for the girl’s medical bill.
As I drive without a clear destination, I shout for Farfarello in my mind. The killer responds with a mental growl and a ::I’m already on my way!:: before shutting the link partially off, only letting a small connection remain so if either one of us have a clue the other will know immediately. My hands steer the red Porche automatically, taking an exit where the GPS system informs me it leads to the mountains where Aya and I camped there several times when he felt better. I pull up to the cliff where it overlooks the entire city, a busy lover’s lane at night, but deserted during the day. Reaching into my shirt, I clutch the small cross necklace that Aya gave me, his first purchase in English without my help, and the first thing he ever gave me. Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes and cast out a tracing psychic wave, scanning the people’s mind throughout the city. It’s a long, painstaking process when there is no clear target to focus on, and I have to go through millions of minds before finding even a trace of useful information. Right now I have practically nothing to go on, aside from the partial plate that Renee saw before the bastard pulled away, and that is what I’m looking for.
I have no idea how long have it been since I started, so when a hand lands heavily on my shoulder, I nearly jump from where I have been sitting on the hood of the sports car. Farfarello grins at my startleness, but the curl of his lips lost the sharp, ferocious edge he normally carries. Guess he cares more about the redhead than I thought he was. “Crawford just arrived at the airport. He told me to fetch you and meet him at home.”
My eyes drift to the still-running motorcycle that the Mad Man uses, the layer of dust and mud covering the beautiful machine makes me wonder slightly where the guy has been to look for my beloved. My eyebrow archs up when I see the thick rope strapped to the back of the bike. “To carry you home if necessary,” he explains, sounding very disappointed that he isn’t able to perform such act.
I smirk as best I can, the slight upward turn of my lips feels like doing a heavy muscle exercise. Each movement is leaded and weighted, and each bone and muscle complains loudly as I climb off the car and into the driver’s seat. Farfarello watches me from where he stands, before putting on his helmet and swings a leg over his bike.
“Let’s go,” I say, more to myself than to him. Stepping heavily down on the gas petal, I let the sharp, cold wind cuts into my skin, reminding me what a failure I have been as the Porsche proves itself to worth the high price tag it carries.
It really doesn’t surprise me that I will be tied up quite painfully when I wake up with a major headache, the piano wire hangs from the ceiling cuts into my wrists just enough to cause pain, but not enough to draw blood, but the position where my arms are over my head and looking very much as if I’m in a porno set puzzles me. I wonder slightly how crazy Schuldich would be once he sees the bruises that I can feel forming, the guy throws a temper tantrum from a minor scrape I get from banging into things when I’m not careful before using some odd cream to massage the small bruise away. What he doesn’t know is that I would sometimes hit the table or chairs with my knees just to see him worry, the near-tears expression he has is too cute to ignore.
“I see you’re awake, love,” the familiar semi-baritone voice breaks my thoughts as Youji steps into my vision, his tone sends a tremor of… disgust down my spine. I know I really shouldn’t say that about my former teammate, someone whom I actually considered family for a short while, but disgust is the only word I can think of to describe the feeling arises from my stomach. I study the man in front of me, my surprise probably evident as he chuckles. “Do you like what you see?”
“What happened to you?” I ask. Hate to say it, but the man in front of me makes me feel fear. His hair is a mess, the honey gold dims to a muddy color. Unruly stubbles spread on his thin, boney face, while the eyes that were once humorous and playful now glints with crazed light. His back hunches unnaturally, and the suits jacket he always wears slump on his body. He lost a lot of weight, and the color of his face is dark and gray while his cheeks are caved in. If it wasn’t for the sunglasses on his face that was fixed over and over just because it was given by Asuka, I probably wouldn’t guess who this homeless-looking man is.
“Oh, do I not look as good as I used to be?” Youji says, suddenly seem ashamed as he touches the mustache on his face with a frown. “Well, I didn’t have much time… I would have showered and shaved, but I was so worried about you…” He steps close, his hand cups my face, making me flinch and try to get away from him as much as I can from this helpless position, which isn’t far and the laws of physics only have me swings back towards him. Dammit, now I really don’t like this position and it will be forever forbidden in our sex play in the future. “But it’s all his fault, Aya…. You were so well-hidden that it took me forever to find you…. I came straight over when I have a solid confirmation of your whereabouts and I didn’t have time to clean myself up properly.”
I frown, tightening my muscle to stop the swinging, a slightly difficult act considering my feet aren’t touching the floor. “What are you talking about?” Something in Youji’s voice ticks off the alert in my mind. There seems to be a twist of logic in his words, but I can’t grasp it just yet. I try to call out for Schuldich in my mind, but the constant connection between our minds is severed and this only heightens my fear. I try to keep my mind focus between trying to reach for Schuldich and watching what Youji is doing. It seems too hopeful for me that he only wants to take me back to Japan or lure Schwartz here so he can kill them, which, if that’s the case, I know I can rest easy and simply wait. But the strange light in Youji’s eyes concerns me, a reddish gleam over his usual emerald gaze.
Youji sighs, and steps even closer so he rests his head on my chest, pressing his entire body on mine that makes me extremely distressed and desperately want to get away. Wrapping his arms around my waist, he sighs, “Oh, Aya, Aya, Aya…. I know it’s not your fault…. You must have Stockholm syndrom or whatever it’s called…. Don’t worry, I’ll take you back home and you will be just fine. He won’t have his claws in your mind anymore.”
The sureness of his words confuses me. “…How can you be so sure?” I ask, trying to sound casual.
He chuckles, the vibration from his throat on my chest makes me shivers. “Well, you see, my love… You know I would do anything for you, right? So I did…. Omi has a huge file that he copied from Estet, and they have this thing where they turn normal people into what they call… ‘Neuturalizer’, so they can seal Schwartz’s power to a certain degree…. They use it for those Elders in Estet, and so I recreated it…. It’s all for you, my love. It’s the only way to save you….”
I pale when he finished, my eyes in disbelief as I look at the head of the crazed man. And we used to call Farfarello the Mad Man…. “Are you crazy?! You know Estet’s drugs are created under the notion that humans are experimental animals and they have countless of them! You could’ve been dead!”
“Oh yes, I’m crazy,” Youji chuckles even louder, soon turning into laughters as he reaches up, and before I could react, he kisses me heavily. I struggle mid-air, my feet kicking wildly as his tongue parts my lips roughly and invades me, making my stomach sick. I flush as tears of anger well in my eyes, but I push them down as I find purchase and delivers a sharp kick to Youji’s crotch. He cries out in pain, letting me go as he bends over slightly to the side. I cough and spat on the floor, trying my very best to get the nasty taste out of my mouth. Overwhelmed by the feelings of being violated, I didn’t see the fist until it connects with my face, knocking my head to the side and almost sends me into unconsciousness. I taste the metal scent of blood in my mouth, knowing I cut my lip deeply and blood is probably sliding down my chin.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk….” Youji shakes his head as he straightens, taking off his jacket and painstakingly folding it neatly before placing it onto a chair nearby. “Aya, Aya, Aya…. I see how deeply confused you are… It’s alright, darling. You won’t be hurt anymore…. I’ve blocked any psychic powers that may be related to you, so they can’t trace you no matter how much they try. Don’t worry, I’ll remove the manipulation Schuldich has on you… You’ll be back to your old self very soon….” He mutters continuously while walking to a suitcase next to the chair, and even though I couldn’t hear all of his words, what he has in mind is clear as day and I hate to admit it, but I’m scared to death. It’s one thing to fight some dark beasts that’s only be clouded by greed of money and power, it’s another to fight someone who losts his mind. Farfarello in the past, Kudou Youji in the present.
Standing up from where he crouched over the opened suitcase, Youji walks toward my with a reassuring smile, one that almost resembles his old self. The vision of him dressed nicely, casual of course, with his hair shorter and the pleasant, flirtatious smile always plastered on his handsome face, as he waves at me in a nonchalant way when I question why he ditched his florist duty yet again overlays with the present version of him, except this one holds a needle in his hands with unknown liquid inside. I struggle harder, mostly out of despair than hope of getting the piano wire loose.
“Don’t worry, this will only hurt a little….”
“…Aya!” I jump up from where I had lay down, and take a quick look of my surroundings before remembering that I’m home. The vivid dream of Aya, dead with his body in pieces cut by piano wire, still lingers in my vision. Panting, I look up when the sound of keyboard tapping impatiently finally register in my hearing. A cup of warm coffee soon appears in front of me, and I accept it with a nod as I sit up so Crawford can seat himself next to me on the sofa. “How long have I been asleep?”
“Couple hours,” he says, downing the scorching black liquid as if not feeling the heat. “We found out why our powers failed. Kudou became a Neuturalizer by injecting the chemicals himself. It’s a shame he didn’t die in the process.”
I take a look at Nagi who has been in front of the computer for two days straight, the speed of his typing only increase the longer he sits there. The four monitors in front of him move at a rapid speed as he scans the rental records and all the security cameras in the state while comparing the images against the make and model that I provided. Of all the people Estet sacrificed, only two have lived through the process and successfully become Neuturalizer through the mixture of lethal chemicals that the sick organization have created, and they were killed immediately when Crawford learned of their existence. Luckily for us, Farfarello’s power isn’t obtained psychically, but rather from his own free will. But that really doesn’t help with our current predicament.
Setting the empty cup on the table, Crawford bends over with his elbows resting on his knees. “…I’m sorry I failed you again, Schu,” he says in a whisper, the words too soft that I almost didn’t hear it.
I look at the man with whom I’ve been partner with for over a decade, the proud Oracle never showing such a sign of defeat in the past. It is really easy to blame the fault at him, but I know better than that. We still have not solve the mystery of Weiss’ first success in bringing harm to Schwartz, but the new information of Omi possessing the recipe for Neuturalizer, it seems only plausible that they have succeeded in obtaining one before Kudou volunteered. I reach out, and ruffle Crawford’s perfectly-combed hair, gaining myself an annoyed glare. “Double my allowance and vacation days and I’ll call it even.”
Crawford smirks, before leaning back and taking out a comb from his inner pocket to straighten his appearance. “As if,” he comments, and I can feel the heavy weight on his mind lifted slightly. It’s a pleasant surprise to know that Crawford cares about what I think of him. We sat in silence while watching Nagi work, each occupied with our own thoughts, until the young Prodigy jumped and screamed a string of obscenities that would make a sailor blush. Our phones chirped at the same time as the boy spoke quickly of the three possible locations that he was able to triangulate, all within a block radius of abandoned factories. “I wasn’t able to pinpoint which building they’re in, but I was able to hack into a nearby security camera. Aya’s braid is hard to miss.”
I nod, already half-way out the door as I check my phone for the coordinates, and winced when the map indicated that it was about a 40-minutes drive away from our home. Half-catching Nagi’s protest when Crawford tells him to stay put, the boy being no good to us having no sleep for over 48 hours, especially in the presence of a Neutralizer. Farfarello is out the door before me, and I can rely on Crawford speeding not far behind us in his Lamboughini. We would probably have enough ticket to turn a small city’s economy around, but we really couldn’t care less.
I grunt as I knock down the third steel door blocking my path, my shoulder numb from the pain of knocking down 5-inch security doors with brute force. My mind continue to fight against the powers of the Neutralizer – it was as if there’s a ton of heavy blocks hammering on my mind and pushing me down continuously, which is not the most pleasant situation to be in. But the sight of my love makes my eyes widen in delight, but my joy was short-lived when I take in the entire sight.
Hands tied above his head and hanging from the ceiling, Aya’s legs dangle around the bastard’s waist, while his head is tossed back. Something feels off immediately, but before my mind can process what is going on, my body reacted on its own. I grab Youji’s shoulder, the sound of bones crunching into pieces explode in my ears as I yank the man off of Aya, throwing him as far as my strength permits. I don’t bother turning to look at that son of a bitch, my sight glued to my beautiful, battered lover. Hanging in front of me motionless, I will myself not to turn my eyes away; instead, I burn the image into my mind – let this be my punishment for failing him, for not protecting him like I vowed, and for not finding him soon enough. Aya’s fair body is covered in bruises and whip marks; blood trails covered his inner thighs, mixing with the bastard’s sperm to form a sickly pink. His face swelled, and bruises circle his neck that’s clear what happened. But what scared me the most was the two long vertical wound that I’m guessing is the result of piano wires digging deep into his skin and marring it downwards. My fingers are shaking as I cut down the wires that held Aya up, and he collapses into my arms. My heart breaks when I hear him, hot with fever and spasming from whatever that disgusting man used on him to control my love, whimper my name repeatedly. Blood covers the arms of my shirt and soak the fabric completely, and I cradle my precious lover in my arms.
It isn’t until Crawford puts a hand on my shoulder that I snap out of my reverie. I feel the Oracle pulls me up and away from Aya, as two paramedics that appear out of nowhere quickly carry Aya away with a stretcher. Crawford holds me back as I watch my love disappear behind closed ambulance doors. “We’ll meet them at the hospital. Come on.”
“He’s not… I don’t…. I can’t….” I whimper, clutching onto Crawford’s rumpled suit jacket pathetically.
“He will be fine. Trust me.” the man’s voice was rough with emotion, but something in his voice makes me believe him. I turn to look at the sick bastard, who is under arrest by five large, menacing cops, and I grit my teeth. Crawford leans into my ear, pulling me to him in a half-hug, as he whisper darkly, “Don’t worry. I arranged something special for him. He’s not worth it.”
I inhale sharply to calm myself; Aya needs me now, and killing this piece of shit and taking time to cover up my track take me away from him. I clench my fists so tight that I feel blood drips down to my knuckles, but I nod once, turning and start walking out of the building quickly. ::I trust you,:: I say into Crawford’s mind, ::I trust you.::
The first thing that I feel is the weight on my hand, before the starched thirst overwhelms me. I try to get up for a glass of water, and suddenly I’m attacked by a mix feeling of painkillers and overwhelming pain. What should have been an oxymoron of feelings somehow occur concurrently, which tells me that moving may be a very, very bad idea.
Eye lids too heavy to open, I try to wiggle the fingers that’s under the weight. I hear a sharp inhale of breath, and the weight on my hand leaves abruptly, replaced by Schuldich’s neat panic voice. “Aya? Are you awake? How are you feeling?”
The echoing question between my hearing and my mind makes me want to smile, and I whisper in my mind, somewhat surprised at how weak my mental voice sounded. ::Some water, if…::
“Give me a sec,” he says hastily, follow by the loud clang of chair falling over, and an “Ooof!” It doesn’t take a genius to guess that the idiot tripped over himself walking less than five steps.
It wasn’t long before I feel the light poke of a straw, and the refreshing liquid flows in a small stream into my body, a potent cleanser as my body seem to feel lighter, as do my head. I open my eyes slowly after several straw-full of water, and I try to convey my relief and happiness of seeing my beloved idiot.
“Hey,” he whispers with a strained smile, the corner of his lips tight and barely curling.
::Hi,:: I greet, finding speaking too difficult a task. I give him a brief look-over as best as I can in my current predicament, and sigh mentally. ::If I’m in a hospital, I would have been perfectly fine when you go and take a shower.::
The chuckles seems to barely escape his clenched mouth, as he pushes away strands of hair falling into my eyes. “I didn’t want to leave you.”
::Mm, I can tell,:: I feel myself grin mentally, and he narrows his eyes just a little in a pout. ::How long was I out?::
“About a week,” he pauses, his emerald eyes filled with worry and pain, “…how much do you remember?”
::Up until the third syringe of heroin,:: I try to recall my hazy memory slowly, ::I don’t know if it’s the second or third day…::
“Don’t,” he covers my lips with his own, as if this way he can silence my calm reverie. “Don’t think about it anymore…”
::I can handle it,:: his hair covers my vision completely, and I can feel him tremble on top of me. I desperately want to reach out to him – to run my hand down his back and massage the tension that is emitting from him away, and to reassure him that I’m here and I’m fine. Not perfect or undamaged, but alive and safe. ::I’m with you now, and that’s all I care about.::
He turns sharply to look at me. The rims of his eyes are red with emotion, but tears never come and I don’t expect them to. I feel the arm around my waist tighten, agitating the wound underneath, but I welcome the pain for its proof of his love to me.
“You’re a fool,” he says with an audible pout, before putting his head down on my chest again, carefully avoiding the wound underneath layers of bandages. I idly wonder how bad the damage is, and how long it’ll take me to recover this time. I seriously am not interested in adding another cause to my disabled status anymore. Contrary to what this idiot believes, a closer parking space really isn’t worth the trouble that I go through…
“… three broken ribs, and two fractures on the right leg,” the doctor lists off the numerous injuries that Youji had inflicted, and I listen with an eye at the door, ready to stop the poor man that I intimidated into telling me everything that happened to me when Schuldich walks in the door. The man originally denied my request, telling me to ‘get some good rest’ in the placating and non-emotional customer service way. With a promise of making his life excruciatingly painful after I am ever-so-slightly well, I convinced the poor doctor to tell me what I want to know for his own sake. I sense his almost giddy demeanor as he moves onto smaller bruises that I couldn’t care less about, and stop him with a dry cough.
“Dr. Derek, I know you’re not telling me something,” I say with a reassuring smile, which only seems to agitate the man more. “You didn’t order those extra MRI tests just for fun.”
The man whose eyes have been avoiding mine finally shifts my way, and he smiles in defeat. He sighs before flipping the chart in his hand, taking his sweet time until he finds the page that he’s looking for. With practiced sympathy and compassion, he thinks about his words before he says them. “We found a malignant tumor in your brain scan. It’s not in a good place. Mr. Fujimiya informed us that you do have family history of cancer, and that coupled with your previous poisoning, the cancer is metastasizing faster than we anticipated, given the fact that your last thorough check-up with your regular doctor was merely two months ago.”
My eyes squint in the brief confusion of the Mr. Fujimiya he refers to, before I breathe a chuckle at the audacity of Schuldich to take my family name without my permission. Not too surprisingly, Schwartz has files on all Weiss members, which may have included the uncle I barely knew that passed away when I was young. Connecting the dots, I’m mildly amused at how easy I’m taking the news. I guess when life enjoys endlessly kicking you in the proverbial ass one too many times, you get used to it eventually. At least this one makes some sort of sense, unlike the other traumatic events in my life.
Looking back up to the waiting doctor from my brief contemplation, I ask the obvious question, “How long do I still have?”
I don’t have a to be the Mastermind to see his slight astonishment on how well I’m taking the news. He shakes his head, “It’s hard to tell. Your tumor developed at a rapid pace, if there are no errors in your previous chart. Between your last MRI and now, you’ve gotten to stage three in two months. The medication you’re taking is numbing the pain that should’ve been constant and severe,” he pauses, thinking before he speaks again. “Optimistically…. six months.”
“Hmm,” I hum with a nod, wondering if Schuldich masked this pain that the doctor spoke of. I really didn’t feel anything… and that’s a blessing already.
I thank the doctor as he makes his exit, and relax myself on the pillow propped against my back. Looking out the window at the serene scenery that overlooks the town, the trees in the centre quad of the hospital, and the faraway mountains from this high-level suite, I enjoy the feel of sunshine on my pale and bruised skin that’s not covered by bandages.
It’s hard for me to muster any anger or hatred towards the two Weiss who had inevitably sealed my fate. It’s hard to hate when the culprit is clearly of no sound mind, and I know, and was part of, the cause to the breakdown. In a way, the three of us involved – Omi, Youji, and I – are all victims of Takatori’s manipulation, and with that comes a strange and perverted bond of camaraderie. We were all heading down the same path of insanity, but I was lucky to have Schuldich and Schwartz pulled me out in time. I shudder to think how I would be if Schuldich never came for me. Would I have killed for an obsession, and claim it was in the name of love and justice?
… In a way, wasn’t I doing that even before I left Weiss?
“Hey,” the door opens soundlessly, and Schuldich looks, a smile masking the somber expression underneath about my condition. “You’ve got a visitor, kitten. How do you feel?”
I smile softly at my lover, Mr. Fujimiya, and nod. “I’m all right.”
He nods, and walks into the room, opening the door a little wider to allow Farfarello to push in a wheelchair. My eyes widen at the sight of the girl sitting in the chair, who fidgets and would have leapt out of the chair had it not been for Farfarello pushing her down by her shoulder. Her long, thick braids of dark blue manes are trimmed and styled with layers down to her chest, giving her a more mature look, and her blue eyes are filled with tears. When within arm’s reach, Aya-chan jumps, her arms around my chest in a tight squeeze that makes me wince, but it’s a welcoming pain that jostles me out of shock.
“Oniichan!!!” she cries, burying her face in my chest as I push my IV drip out of her way to give her access, and then wrap my arms around her lithe body. She sobs loudly, her speech slurs in a rampage of apologies. My vision blurs as I bury my face into her hair, my tears wetting the strands and down her already wet face.
It seems like eternity before strong, warm hands slowly pull me back onto the pillow, while another pair of pale arms holds my sister and puts her back into the wheelchair. I look up when Schuldich starts wiping away my tears with a wet towel, and I smile at him fully, earning myself a dazed look from the German. To his side, Farfarello curses at Aya-chan for exerting herself too much, reminding her that she doesn’t have the strength to do dangerous things like jumping onto a raised hospital bed, all the while tossing a box of tissues to her lap and mumbling how he doesn’t like angels crying in happiness because it doesn’t hurt God. I become hyper-aware of my position with Schuldich all of a sudden, how his arm encircles my waist as he sits with me on the bed, and my head rests on his shoulder as he cleans my face.
::Don’t you dare push me away, love:: I hear a growling voice in my head, and I shake my head furiously.
I look up at Schuldich hastily, ::I’m not… I just… I haven’t told her… and… You know how Japan is… and…::
“I know about the two of you,” Aya says suddenly, causing both Schuldich and I to turn back and look at her, me more gaping than he is. Smiling sheepishly, Aya blows her nose childishly, tossing the used tissues into the waste basket. Then she places box aside, and climbs onto the bed again, this time with Farfarello’s help. She looks up to Scuhldich with a piercing gaze, which eventually causes the man to back down with a deep chuckle, moving so my little sister can lie on the bed and snuggle with me just like when we were kids. She carefully wraps an arm around my waist, and I look into Aya’s eyes as she smiles. “You wanna know why, oniichan?”
“Un,” I nod, reverting back to my old self – the boy that was lost after the death of our parents – all too easily under the beautiful gaze of my little sister.
Aya grins, and tightens her hold on me, “Well, I woke up a couple days ago, and imagine my shock when I saw the most beautiful room ever. But there was nobody there, and I try standing, and nearly fall to my death on the floor next to the bed,” she pauses, giggling, “it’d suck if I wake up and die immediately, huh?”
“Don’t say that,” I chastise, my eyes darken slightly and my hold on her tightens. She smiles and waves it away.
“It’s all good! I wasn’t scared, you know? The room may be decorated differently, but I knew you had a hand in it. My stuffed animals were all positioned the way I liked, and I just know by looking at the room that you made it for me that way,” she smiles up at me, and I return the gesture, remembering when we were little how she has lectured me repeatedly when we had our ‘family cleaning days’, and she would ask me to help her with her dolls. Always loving to be surrounded with cuteness, Aya enjoyed having her dolls positioned as if they were talking to each other, and sometimes with props such as small books or cups, just so they are more ‘life-like’. After we moved to our current home, I was finally able to unpack the large box of toys, the only remnants of our past lives that never got to see the light of day because of Aya’s condition, and arrange them just the way she’d enjoy them.
“So Nagi found me after I was able to call out, and he came and helped me. He explained the situation of how we got to America while we waited for the doctor to come, and who he – and others – are. I gotta admit,” Aya pauses and lightly punches me on the shoulder, “You sure know how to get a hot guy, oniichan.”
I blush furiously while Schuldich laughs, and I turn to glare at him. He winks, and Aya giggles. After the brief moment of smiling and laughing, Aya takes my hand that doesn’t have any needles or sensors on it, and squeezes it tightly. She focuses on the callouses on my hand from katana-use, her fingers slowly tracing them and a diagonal scar that remains in my palm from one of the missions slowly. “I may have been asleep, but I can still feel what’s happening around… It’s kind of a weird feeling, as if I’m listening to a long, neverending movie in the fog. Sometimes I can hear the conversations around me clearly, and sometimes I can only hear voices, but couldn’t understand what was being said.” She chuckles slightly, her eyes never leaving the scar, “The nurses at the last hospital I was at are enamored with you, you know. They couldn’t stop talking about you, even after knowing you are with Schuldich-san.”
I roll my eyes when Schuldich fakes a growl and cracks his knuckles, and Aya chuckles lightly. “I know what happened around me… When you joined that organization… when you killed your first target… when you didn’t know what to do with your life…” she smiles as she looks up at me, then at Schuldich, “and when you fell in love.”
I feel heat rise on my cheek. When I poured my soul to my sleeping sister, talking to her for hours on end at first, then as time went by, my conversation become less and less until almost nonexistent, unless there were something that weighed on my heart so heavily that if I didn’t say it out loud I felt like I would die. I just never thought she could hear me. Unless, I guess, subconsciously, I was hoping she would. But then, I also remember when I picked up the habit of speaking to Aya again… after I realize my feelings for a certain idiot…
I suddenly realize what predicament I’m in when Schuldich raises his eyebrow at a snickering Aya. Oh no.
I help Aya, no, Ran, settle into the comfortable sofa in the converted physical therapy room. Since Aya-chan has been in a coma for so many years, her muscles have deteriorated, so she needs daily exercise and therapy to help her regain the mass that she lost. To help her do that, Farfarello and Nagi converted one of the larger rooms in the house to a gym, and Crawford, Ran and I managed to find a physical therapist that’s not afraid of the over-protective Farfarello’s bark.
On his good days when he’s more awake, Ran likes to spend time with either me or his sister as much as possible. Watching the younger Fujimiya grunt as she walks the short road, her knuckles white as she grips the handle bar tightly. Ever since she started her training, Aya has never complained, even her trainer worries sometimes that the girl may be over-exerting herself. I can just imagine what Ran was like when he was training to be a master swordsman by looking at Aya.
“How’s she doing?” Ran asks, trying his best to stay awake. The room features three sides of floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing sunlight to illuminate the room naturally with loving warmth, which Ran needs now more than ever. Over the past two months since leaving the hospital, Ran’s health has progressively deteriorated, but my love takes what life dishes him with stride. He’s more asleep than awake most of the time, but when he is awake he tries to enjoy the company of his family as much as possible. It’s heart-breaking for me to see him struggle to stay awake when he insists on watching movies or playing games with us, but his spirits are always high. It doesn’t matter what is on TV or what the story plot is, he just wanted to be around with everyone.
“She’s great,” I say softly, pulling a throw on him to keep him warm. “She’s able to walk five minutes now without the handle bar. Brenda said she just needs more practice and she will be good as new.”
“Mmmh,” he smiles, his hand reaches out to mine and holds onto it tightly, but his strength is not even half of what it used to be. I slowly brush the back of Ran’s hand with my thumb, feeling the coolness of his skin and the weakened shell that encompasses the fiery soul beneath. Aya trips on her foot abruptly, falling ungracefully onto the soft, padded mat. She chuckles as she sits up, flashing a grin at her big brother before she stands up and tries again.
“Schuldich.” My eyes fall back onto my love when he calls. “Promise me one thing.”
“Anything,” I say, taking his hand to my lips and kissing his knuckles slowly, my tongue darting out and tasting his skin. My heart breaks slightly when he doesn’t shudder like he used to, his senses are not as sharp as before.
Ran closes his eyes, focusing on feeling my kisses for a while, before he speaks again. “When I go… I want you to enjoy life. Love again… go around the world… anything. For me.”
“Ran….” I choke, my voice hardly a whisper. “That’s too… I can’t…”
He tugs on my hand, “Promise.”
I keep my silence, my hold on his hand tightens, and he smiles, taking it as an agreement before he drifts off again. I strengthen the shield that I put up between his mind and the pain his body is feeling, so he can rest comfortably. The pain is always there, and he refused to use the pain killers prescribed, claiming he has had enough drugs in his life. I thank the higher power yet again for my mind manipulation power – once a hated abomination, now a blessed gift. I brush errant hair from his face, letting the long crimson strands slip through my fingers, and I close my eyes tightly, hating this helpless feeling. His life is like a handful of sand in my palm, and no matter how hard I try to hold onto it, it’s slipping away from me slowly but surely, and I can only watch hopelessly.
I don’t know how the world can function, after he leaves. Sure, it might not make any difference. The sun will still rise, the people still go about their business, and people wouldn’t know, or care, that a beautiful soul departed. But I know my world would fade to nothingness without him, and I don’t know how he can expect me to enjoy any semblance of life I have remaining, when all will be a dark, dreary color of black and white, and I will be perpetually stuck in the middle of the stagnant time.
A hand lands on my shoulder gently, and I look up at the man that I have, over the years, considered to be my brother. Crawford looks over at the sleeping Ran in my lap, before his eyes slowly trail up to the grunting Aya and the silent, amused Farfarello, who never offers his help to the girl nor a comforting word, but somehow his presence makes Aya smile and work that much harder. Ran had complained half-heartedly that his sister seemed to be quite fond of the Irishman, but he knew that she would be in good hands, even with his God-forsaken rants every now and then.
We watch the youngsters continue their struggle with life, full of hope and future, and try our best not to think about the flickering, dying light in my arms.
I wake up with a start, sitting up abruptly in the dark as I blink in confusion. The coldness by my side is alarming but doesn’t fully register until several breaths later. My hand brushes over the small dent on the bed next to me, the rumpled feather-white bed sheet the only sign that someone had lain there previously. My emerald gaze surveys the expanse of the room quickly, and I can feel every muscle of my body relax when my eyes rest on the amber figure shrouded in darkness. He sits on the chaise by the foyer, the French door open to let the warm, summer breeze flows in. It carries the silk white drapery in a slow, romantic dance around him. The moonlight caresses the foyer gently, sprinkling soft angel dust on the marble surface, illuminating the lone figure as his amethyst gaze looks out to the resting world. The wind brushes against the oak trees in the yard, each touch sending whispering chorus around the quiet neighborhood, the only waking witness to my love’s beauty.
I almost fear approaching him, the scene in front of me ethereal, and I’m afraid of my sinful, mortal self desecrating the angel that is before me. My foot steps on the lush carpet are almost deafening, I slowly put my hand on the back of the chaise as I look down at him. His eyes sparkle in rich lavender, and he looks up at me after taking another breathful of life, and his pale lips curl into a small, warming smile.
“Hey,” I say softly, almost as if I’m afraid anyone would hear me.
“Hi,” he replies, and moves to one side of the chaise in a silent invitation to sit with him. I walk around his favorite chair and sit down next to him, my arm automatically wraps around his slender shoulders and pulls him to me. He lets me without any protest, resting his head on my shoulder as he sighs in contentment. We bathe in the cool moonlight and listen to the rustling of the small forest that surrounds our property, the dim light of the city barely visible on the other side of the artificial grove. I silently pray to whatever Gods above that may be listening, wishing that this moment stay forever and never change.
“Schuldich,” his soft tenor breaks the silence, and I look down and into his amethyst eyes that are filled with joy and love, something I haven’t seen in a long time. “I’ve always wanted to tell you…”
“Don’t,” I choke, my hold on him tightening.
His smile deepens, and he ignores my pathetic plea. “… Thank you. For finding me, for being with me, and…” he pauses, “…for loving me.”
“I love you, Schuldich…”
I will my eyes open as I watch his porcelain face, filled with contentment and longing for rest, like someone who has run a very long marathon for a good cause, and as he approaches the finish line, he is happy that the race is over, and he did such a good job that he deserves rest now. Tears fill my eyes that I blink away with anger, not wanting to miss out on anything because of my weakness.
He takes in a last breath, “I’ll always be with you… I promise….” he says with a sigh, and with that, he was gone.
I bury myself in his hair, my hold on him would’ve been painful, if he could still feel my clutch. I feel tears pour out my eyes and into his hair, and I try to stifle my sobs in this quiet, beautiful night. My body is wracked by sobs as I let myself go, mourning for my love. I could, in the back of my mind, feel my hold on my power slip from my grasp, but I couldn’t care less as the mental wave pours out with no reserve. There was pounding to our locked bedroom door, but I couldn’t find the energy to try to care. Closing my eyes, I slowly let my cries die out, the last thought on my mind before darkness envelops me is a certain redhead whose smile is always small and shy, but it brightens the room wherever he goes.
….I just hope I’m not too late.
I walk down the path in front of me, surrounded by quiet and tranquil darkness. A single road lays out before me, and I couldn’t help but hum quietly to the tune of ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road.’ I don’t know where this path is leading me, but somewhere deep inside I know this is the road to take. I walk slowly, enjoying the feel of my body, light and illness-free.
A succession of quick footsteps sound behind me, and before I know it, my hand is gripped by one much larger than mine. Fingers entwined, I lower my head to hide a small, shy smile as I tighten my hold on him. I hear his deep chuckle as I chastise softly.
The street noise interrupts the quiet, melancholy piano Jazz that permeated the bar, the only sign of a new patron that entering the small, sophisticated bar. A lone bartender, a handsome beauty in impeccable white shirt and ironed black vest, looks up and nods at the new patron as he takes a seat next to a lone man that has already started his tab, sipping on the swiveling liquid of alcohol slowly.
“Sorry, the plane got delayed by the storm,” the new patron, a man in pristine Armani suit and gold-framed glasses says, taking off his coat and draping it over the back of the booth next to him.
“Mm, it’s fine,” his companion, one sporting casual sweatshirt and jeans, shrugs as he finishes his drink and motions for another. The bartender refills the glass with a new spherical ice and the man’s favorite whiskey, while setting a new glass with identical ice sphere and grabbing the bottle of cognac that the man had stored for the past several years.
“How are the kids?”
“Good, thanks. Yumi is four and already a trouble. I had to scare away several of her pursuers just before I came,” he chuckles, sipping his drink slowly, “and Ran-chan just learned how to talk. His first word was ‘Papa’.”
A deep chuckle as he sips on the cognac, “Look at you, Ken Hidaka, proud father of two.”
“Mm,” Ken swallows as he chuckles, “Three. Kimiko is pregnant again.”
Silence passes by the two men who used to be enemies, who used to try to kill each other, and who both lost people dear to them. Crawford adjusts his glasses as he watches the piano player somberly, his eyes glaze over as his mind becomes occupied with memories of years past. Of the boy who left and the stubborn man that refused to leave him alone and followed him to wherever he went.
“How’s the little sister?” Ken picks up the conversation after a short silence, after Crawford finishes his first glass and a second has been refilled.
Crawford grins around the rim of the glass, and takes out a black and white envelope with light lavender filigree embossing. He slides the envelope to the ex-soccer-player, who opens it curiously before bursting out loud, laughing hysterically. “Fuck, they’re getting married?! Holy shit!”
The American chuckles, “She told Farfarello that if he didn’t do anything, she’d grab whoever she wanted to be her child’s father, because she is not about to give birth to a bastard child.”
Ken continues to snicker as he shakes his head, putting the envelope into his pocket as he nods. “I’ll be there.”
“Are you planning on calling her by name this time?” the Oracle prods gently.
He pauses, and sighs, “Maybe.” He finishes his fourth, or was it fifth? Who cares… drink, and motions for yet another. He pretends not to notice the bartender filling the glass with half water and half whiskey, and sips on the diluted drink slowly. “I just can’t believe he… they’ve… been gone for so long,” he begins after a long silence. “And the manner he chased after him…. heh.”
Crawford smiles, the curl of his lips laden with sorrow. “Yeah, imagine the doctor’s surprise when he pronounced him dying of natural causes. As if draining his psychic powers and willing his heart to still were natural.”
The two men chuckle softly, before letting silence befall them again, each mourning for the family they both lost in silent reverie. Finally, Crawford raises his glass, as they do every year on the day their family decided to ‘run off to the netherworld’, as they call it, together. “To Aya and Schu, the most idiotic and hopelessly sappy couple in the whole fucking world.”
Mirroring his friend’s action, Ken raises his glass, finally closing the chapter of the book he so feared to touch for so long. “… To Aya and Farfarello, whose wedding better be worth the plane tickets and gifts I’m gonna have to shell out.”
Author’s Mewlings: Wow, I couldn’t believe that this fic is finally over. The reason that I have two dates for this fic is just that – it was completed in two different months that are five years apart. I went through a lot in these five years – moving to another country and back, going back to school and working full time in a new career, and finally complete my Masters and teacher preparation courses in a record time of 3 years total. Needless to say, my creative juices were not flowing and had pretty much dried out.
I want to do a shout-out to drone123, who is always with kind words and message me every now and then to ask about this fic. Had it not been for her, I doubt I could ever complete this fic that was the longest I’ve ever wrote. You are amazing with your patience, and you are the source of my energy and my inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now that I’m at a job that I love and does not require me to work 18 hours a day (what, you think teachers are easy? No. F-ing. Way.), I can finally come back to fic-writing, which my friends have continued to insist that I need some hobby for stress-relief. I’ve started my next fic – iPad + keyboard + Evernote is wonderful for fic writers – but it’s on Final Fantasy XIII featuring Snow x Lightning. I will be working on that for a while before coming back to Weiss Kreuz (if ever). But, at least I’m writing.
Last bit of note… I’ve revamped and relaunched my website, Illuminatia.net, and I’ve rejoined Fanfiction.net. It’s kind of funny to modify the sex scenes out of my fic so my Fanfiction.net account doesn’t get closed again. Apparently they still have my account information… they just locked it. You can find me at my profile, though I would be updating more on my website.
Thank you for those of you who are still reading, even after so long. This fic took 9 years to complete, and I’m amazed that I was able to get my thoughts all out. Words cannot express my gratitute, and I hope to see you again in the future.
April 13, 2013