Junsui no shiroi, a pure unpolluted white. And we are that blinding white purity, slated to track down the black killers of the future. Who says we are pure? With our hands soaked in blood, red is all I can see; it is all any of us can see.
Weiss Kreuz. They are German words, fitting into a Germanic concept of justice that dovetails Japanese views with a neatness too perfect to be real. The Japanese have admired Germans for a long time. Now that the war is forgotten we can recall this admiration. There was a reason for our alliance with Germany, at that time. Both obsessed with the concept of racial ideal; we unable to abandon the Shinto notion of pure and impure, ancient holdovers of a shadow of good and evil.
That’s where the white comes in. Shiroi, the absolute snow-pristine color of untouched. Too bad. It’s so ironic that Persia has modeled us this way, this tide against the darkness, we Weiss - we, the white and pure - and it is this darkness instead that is consuming from within. Hunt the dark beast of tomorrow.
This isn’t the end yet. That comes later, after torment and suffering. We three move in circles cut out of loneliness, unable to touch or be touched where the inner damage lies.
“Shiroi,” he whispered to me, that time. His name was thick in my mouth. I couldn’t release it. This wasn’t the end, I told myself. That hurt most of all. That such despair and pain could exist, and it was only beginning...
He woke, eyelids twitching, a cry clogged in his throat. With one hand, Aya clutched the sheets to his sweaty defenseless body. Then he hunched in on himself, shaking. When he was able, he raised his hands to look at them in the moonlight. To him, they were soaked in red.
He pushed himself out of bed, feet wincing from contact with the cold floorboards. He had to see Aya-chan, to make sure she was real, that the price he’d paid in blood had panned out after all. But no matter how long she stood before him, awake and alive, the name ‘Aya’ was imprinted on his own senses. He was ‘Aya’ and she was ‘-chan.’
Catlike, he moved in the dark. He didn’t need to see the walls to know they were there around him. With spare movements he crossed the small apartment and stood in the half-open doorway, striving to calm his harsh breathing.
There, illuminated in a shaft of pristine moonlight, slept his sister. Fujimiya Aya-chan lay asleep on her bed, undone hair fanning dark against the white pillow, her breathing even. Her expression was peaceful. A palm lay upturned beside her on the pillow and even from the door he could see the trace of a smile on her lips.
“Aya,” he muttered, and pushed himself away from the door.
He stood in the hallway, motionless, for a long time. He wished he could return to his life of Ran, a carefree existence of bussing tables and attending community college and saving up money for his little sister to attend nursing school overseas.
Aya-chan still wanted to attend overseas school, and he could well afford it now, but the Ran-niichan who had lived before her coma had been almost entirely consumed in driving purpose. And now that the purpose was fulfilled - Aya laughing, alive, happy - there was still a blade with a finely-honed edge that waited within him.
There was something he wanted, but he couldn’t get it with any of the string of assassination missions Birman and Manx still sent them on. Kritiker still collected data; someone still composed tapes using a computer-generated image of Persia. And Birman still dropped by the rejuvenated ‘Koneko no Sumu Ie’ to give them missions of justice. They would never know real names of the operations behind it and that was for the protection of the people involved.
It wasn’t satisfying.
Aya woke in the middle of the night with disturbing dreams. The ones like tonight made him wake with blood and fear on his mind, needing to make sure, making him get up from a warm bed to see with his own eyes that Aya-chan was safe and alive. But the truly disturbing ones were the dreams he would *never* leave his bed for, where he woke up with veins throbbing and a hard knot of need inside him. There was a dark part of him that could name the delight he wanted, even.
He wanted to feel innocence against his tongue, make it cry; taste the flavor by biting down. All of this was wrong and he knew and he didn’t care.
He knew that he wanted one of his teammates. He even knew which one. But at this moment, the presence of Aya-chan in his apartments was reason enough for self-restraint - he would rather bite through his own wrist, tear his own flesh than distress the sister he adored. Omi was too white-innocent, despite the blots of distress that troubled him in his life. Ken was too happy in his oblivion, a life of soccer and white-clean kids and trying to forget. But Yohji, wrapped up in his tangled angst of bloodied Asuka and strangled Neu and his own guilt to keep him awake at night...he struggled between the white hunter and the darkness inside himself.
He braced himself against the doorway, rocking back and forth. He was treading a fine line between plunging into the action he desired, and holding himself in utter stillness for the sake of the things he still wanted to keep.
Aya did the only thing he could do. He turned on his heel and strode back to his lone bed.
He was still in control of himself, for now. Aya-chan slept peacefully at this apartment and he would never violate that sanctity.
Some day...he wouldn’t be so controlled.
Aya only hoped that the ‘trigger’ would never be found - that one thing that could make him lose control. He knew himself well enough to know there *was* one, without knowing exactly what could trip it.
He murmured something below the level of sound, as he curled into a fetal ball against the white sheets of his bed. Aya couldn’t remember the words himself.
*I’ll have you.*
Yohji started out of sleep with an unaccustomed shout on his lips.
It was a far cry from his plaintive nightmares of Asuka. When he woke, he never remembered what he had dreamed. He only knew it had been bad, with deep undercurrents that sucked him into places he never wanted to return. Places he’d never been, even, but that didn’t make them any less frightening.
It had been so many years, but it wasn’t time enough to forget. Maybe there would never be time enough, or at least, there was a part of him that couldn’t allow that kind of ignorance. Once a body had known pain, it could never forget that same kind - just so that it wouldn’t repeat the same mistake.
He clutched forest-green sheets to his lap, and tried to follow the elusive threads of the dreams that had exploded him from sleep. Yohji shook his head. All he knew was it had something to do with ‘Weiss,’ but then, so many of his nightmares solidified around Weiss, he could hardly narrow it to a single point of trauma.
Some nights he wondered if he weren’t dying, or already dead, and this was part of the convulsive throes to torment him at the end.
Then other nights, Omi was so close he knocked on the door to wake him from the dream. His very bad dreams. No matter how many cups of tea they had together, Omi could never wipe away the bad dreams that rolled over him when no one else was looking.
Yohji pushed himself up from the bed with a sigh of irritation for the time his clock was displaying, and how much sleep he had gotten - four hours. He might as well get up and brew a pot of coffee and immerse himself in a book, because he surely wouldn’t be doing any more sleeping tonight. Not after that nightmare. It wasn’t quite as bad as the night terrors that had woken him in early adolescence, shaking in his bed and unable to do anything but stay somewhere well-lit for the rest of the night. But he felt uneasy in his own bed, and this was the only thing he could do.
He pulled off a volume of T.S. Eliot out of one of his packed bookcases, locating it with the ease of a person who knew where every one of his books was. He held it loosely in one hand while he made his way to the tiny kitchen unit. Yohji kept most of the lights off, trying not to knock around and make too much noise - he didn’t want to wake Omi, and the walls were so *very* thin.
The coffee gurgled loudly and Yohji felt his stomach complain. Yeah, so this wasn’t the greatest thing to do for it. It wasn’t that he couldn’t sleep, it was that he was afraid of the dreams that might come.
His voice sounded loud in his own ears as he spoke in the quiet of the kitchen, flipping open to a dog-eared part of the slim volume. “There will be time, there will be time/to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;/there will be a time to murder and create,/and time for all the works and days of hands/that lift and drop a question on your plate;/time for you and time for me,/ and time yet for a hundred indecisions...and for a hundred visions and revisions...” He trailed off and was startled when a knock on the door broke into his thoughts.
Sometimes it felt like a poet could see directly into a soul, even if you weren’t there before him. Or perhaps Yohji was only projecting his own experiences onto the lines of blank verse.
“Omi,” he pulled the door open, unsurprised. “I’m sorry, kid, I didn’t mean to wake you.” This was the last thing Omi needed, what with cram school for the upcoming exams, on top of sometimes weekly missions as a member of Weiss, and the everyday grueling rigor of Japanese school and working what amounted to more than a part-time job.
“Mou, Yohji-kun,” Omi rolled his eyes, breezing his way into the little apartment. His eyes rounded. “You’re making coffee!? At two-thirty in the morning!? And I thought I was bad!”
“Pulling an all-nighter for exams?” Yohji tried to change the subject.
“Tonight I’m just staying up extra-late to finish a report, but... Yohji, this isn’t good. You should see a doctor, or something,” Omi lectured him.
Yohji grinned in a particularly irritating way and tousled the boy’s hair, the way he knew Omi *hated.* “No way, get some kid with a fancy diploma to shrink my head? I don’t think so, Omittchi.”
His grin was a little more genuine as he moved over to the coffee pot, sputtering and hissing in its death throes as the brown liquid collected in the glass on the burner. The pot itself didn’t leak, but the burner above had a small crack that dripped liquid onto the hot metal below. He drank it black, coughed, smacked his lips, and ignored Omi’s glare.
“You know what I mean,” Omi squared off, hands on his hips.
Yohji tilted his head. “I do?”
Omi’s eyes flashed, but he did *not* stamp his foot the way he usually did. “A real doctor,” he clarified with admirable patience for the young. “Maybe he could prescribe something to help you sleep.”
Yohji shrugged. It wasn’t a problem, yet. He could function for a long time getting only four hours of sleep a night. To an extent, it wasn’t the dreams in and of themselves that bothered him - it was what they implied. Yohji wasn’t ready to change his world-view so radically; or at least, not how *he* fit into that comfortable view.
He poured himself another cup and leaned against the counter.
“Did you have a bad dream again?” Omi asked, apparently deciding to drop the subject of a doctor.
Yohji shrugged again, taking a burning swallow of the bitter-hot beverage. “Yeah.” It was pretty obvious, wasn’t it? Drinking a pot of coffee at two-thirty in the morning wasn’t exactly something you did if you wanted to fall asleep, if you didn’t fear your dreams. “So now I can’t sleep.”
“What was it...” Omi began his delicate prying, like he did every time he came over in the middle of the night.
“I don’t remember!” Yohji said flatly, holding up his free hand in a ‘stop’ position. His tone dared Omi to contradict him. He didn’t want to talk about it, the feeling of being violated somehow in his sleep even when he slept alone. He hadn’t had a date in months. The kind of dates he brought home, he didn’t want any ties to complicate matters. Waking shivering from a nightmare in someone’s arms led to questions, and that sort of thing definitely complicated things.
“All right, all right,” Omi said placatingly, leaning against the kitchen wall. “If you’re not going back to bed, I’d better go finish my paper.”
“Okay,” Yohji replied, trying not to show how much that bothered him. Omi’s presence might be overly solicitous and a bit annoying because of that, but it was human companionship he craved.
He didn’t want to be left alone with the thoughts in his head.
“Oyasumi, Yohji-kun.” Omi paused at the door. “I wish you’d go back to bed.”
Yohji flicked his fingers. “Don’t waste your time. Anyhow, I’ll be up to work the early shift.” He grinned, playing it off.
Omi’s look was doubtful as he shut the door behind him.
Yohji let out a huge sigh and dropped into one of the chairs in his tiny kitchen. Coffee sloshed over his rim and he cursed, setting the mug down. Why was this happening to him? Weiss had settled down. Their lives were assuming a semblance of regularity, of security. The few paltry missions they ran were no risk at all anymore. He didn’t want his mind to start up this frantic round of question and unendurable answer again.
“There will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet,” Yohji whispered softly.
Yohji didn’t want to remember the past.
“Ahh...yes...I know you like it like that...”
Soft raspy breath filled the darkness of the single room, and liquid noises.
Schuldich tightened his fingers in the boy’s hair as he went down on him again, taking in his length with a beautiful, practiced motion, throat muscles caressing like silk. Schuldich made a feline noise of contentment, green eyes widening, then narrowing to pleasured lazy slits.
There was something empty in this pleasure, though; something was lacking.
No challenge, Schuldich decided, even as he spurred the boy on with softly-whispered, appreciative obscenities. Any of the pretty boys who hung out at the clubs with their tight clothes and dark dye-streaked hair and carefully-rouged lips could be taken home with a mere kiss and a promise.
*It’s been almost a year...*
Schuldich groaned and his eyes flew open.
“Yes...ohhh...you taste so good,” the boy gave his flesh a moist kiss, then half-sat up, sprawled over Schuldich’s thighs.
He didn’t know the boy’s name and he didn’t care to, even though he could have plucked it easily from his mind.
“All right,” he gave the boy a push, “we’re done. Get going.” He ignored the subsequent pout.
“But...but we don’t have to be done,” the boy blinked. “I mean, we just got here.”
Schuldich snorted. “You think they don’t rent these places by the hour?” He lifted a pencil-thin red brow. He didn’t have any more use for this boy and now he wanted him *out* -- he wanted to think. For a moment, his thoughts in the unguarded flash of orgasm had tangled with something bizarrely familiar.
The boy scowled. “Prick,” he spat, climbing off the bed and grabbing for his clothes. “I guess I won’t be seeing you around, then.”
Schuldich lay back and ignored him. He was trying to pinpoint the origin of his own thought. It had been nearly a year since...what? That had been tripped off by a brush against ‘someone else,’ an encounter with some familiar thought pattern...
Weiss. It had been almost a year since Weiss.
Schuldich chuckled softly, got up, and got dressed. This was worth leaving the cheap comfort of a hotel room in the middle of the night.
These love-hotels were a long way from Shinjuku but Schuldich didn’t care; it was closer to his own apartment, and from what he’d gleaned of his ‘date’s’ mind, closer to the boy’s home as well. Crawford’s new base for Schwarz was further downtown - he was still trying to get Schuldich’s support to hold things together. Some day, they might take a crack at trying to destroy Weiss for everything that had happened, and the loss of a lucrative employer.
Hell with that. There were more *fun* ways to destroy Weiss.
He stuck his hands in his pocket, walking away from the garishly-lighted district of the love-hotels and similar establishments. He wanted distance; he put up a wall around his thoughts and tried to focus. It had been nearly a year since he’d seen Kudou Yohji and, at the time, had been too deeply involved in business to take in the pleasure and pain he sensed was waiting beneath the surface. If something as young as Omi could be so much fun to break into and savor the contents, how would it be to crack open Yohji’s skull and rummage around inside?
That lanky body, the heavy-lidded green eyes that screamed sex, the outrageous midriff-baring tops...
Now that he wasn’t even officially connected with Schwarz, Schuldich was perfectly capable of doing something. The Balinese, Kudou Yohji...now, *that* would be a challenge. He smirked and moved off to his destination.
Who knew Fujimiya lived so close nearby?
Aya ran a hand through his flaming red locks and sneezed. He had an uneasy feeling, coils of dread unspooling like cold wire caressing up his spine as if creatures scuttled across his grave.
It was very late in the night, or rather, extremely early morning.
After tossing and turning for an interminable length of time, the only thing to do was get up and pace the cold floor-boards of the small living-room space of their two-bedroom apartment. As the children of a wealthy banker, the Fujimiya family had been accustomed to a certain degree of privilege, and the space of their quarters had been one of those - to Aya, this seemed terribly cramped even though it was bigger than the apartment Kritiker had put him in. This was standard living space for most Japanese, even those with three to five members in a family. He should be grateful, right?
As he made the circuit around the couch on bare feet, elbows close enough to brush the walls on three sides of the furniture, gratitude wasn’t one of his uppermost feelings. Rather, he gnawed on a loop of questions and vague indefinable aches - not physical aches - that had no instant replies. He halted and glared out the window as if the answers were there.
Aya-chan still slept peacefully and it was a shame he couldn’t seek that kind of oblivion. He moved down the hallway as if to look in on her again, and thought better of it. She really didn’t need to be woken this early; the door might creak and betray his presence. His own thoughts were far too wakeful, and vivid, and circular. Tomorrow was Friday, Aya-chan would be going to school, and he would be opening the shop with Yohji while Ken made deliveries. He’d be alone in the shop with Yohji. For several hours, until Ken took over at two. As time went by, it was harder not to take what he wanted.
Aya put hands over his face and stood in the hallway for a long moment. He didn’t need to turn to the doorway again, to know his sister lay in bed sleeping. But as subjective as reality could be, this could be another illusion too. His sister was safe and alive, but he had dreamt of Aya-chan being dragged away and tortured, cut and bleeding. He dreamed of Aya-chan lashed to a cross of broken glass, the scarlet of her blood staining every jagged edge. He dreamed Schwarz had taken her again, and after beating her and breaking every bone in her body, Este completed its sacrifice. A monster grinned at him out of Aya-chan’s eyes.
If he thought he was awake now, and - while he slept, dreamt of Aya-chan stolen from him, broken and bleeding - who was to say this was not the dream now, while in reality Aya-chan *was* gone, still in her coma and at risk? That instead he was the one who dreamed, conjuring up a time when Aya-chan was safe and awake?
No. No. Aya clenched his hands, blunt square fingernails cutting into his palms. If he thought that way, it would drive him crazy. A short laugh trickled from his lips and he put a hand over his mouth, glancing toward Aya-chan’s room. There was no point in waking her up. She might notice he was upset - there was still enough Ran in him, apparently, to recognize his moods - and she would insist on staying up with him until he divulged the reason. And in that case, she’d stay up all night, because he wasn’t telling.
The other dream was about Yohji. It was always about Yohji, and up to a point it wasn’t nearly so frightening.
It started with a warm throbbing itch in his crotch, very like the wet dreams he hadn’t had since his early teens. And Yohji was before him, taunting, teasing, casually discussing the many dates he had where he scored often and did all the fucking... Aya had never heard Yohji speak so crudely while he was awake, but somehow he could imagine it so.
There wasn’t much of a gap between that and the moment he tore Yohji’s clothes off, when his hips were moving and *he* was the one doing the fucking. And it was hot and brutal and satisfying, and he couldn’t get enough. There was something in Aya that wanted to make Yohji scream and beg while he thrust *in* and *out...*
It was when he saw the blood, in his dreams, that he usually woke up.
Blood was nothing new to Aya. He had spent so much time washing the crimson stains out of his clothing that it was commonplace, although it was one of many things he wanted to forget about the time without Aya-chan. Blood was an association with his guilt, and it was *that* feeling that brought him up gasping out of his dreams, hips still inscribing circles against the sheets, unable to move an inch from the bed because moving meant coming and coming meant more guilt...
It wasn’t so much that he had feelings for another man. He’d been through hell and back and none of his life of the past five years had been *normal,* so hating himself for not fitting into the perfect definition of a normal life was no longer an option. Turning his thoughts away from Yohji wasn’t an option.
It wasn’t just the fact that he wanted Yohji sexually, because there was no mistake about it - that was the major focus of the visceral pull.
The thing that held him back was the brutality waiting inside of him. He knew that the only thing holding him back from going for Yohji was a thin thread. Once it snapped...
It would be like Yohji’s wires. Even the lightest touch could draw blood.
“Ho?” Schuldich grinned, hopping down nimbly from the fire escape. It was a perfect vantage for the Fujimiya residence; however, if he stayed much longer, he’d get caught by Fujimiya’s wakefulness. That one was still focused, despite the promise of a softer life.
Schuldich wasn’t exactly pressing his face to the window, but if that crescent of pale face moved anywhere near the grimy alley-facing panes, he’d be caught out. That could be very bad at this stage of the game. Very bad indeed. Not to mention, Fujimiya was the kind of resistant personality that wouldn’t be ‘coaxed’ into forgetting he’d seen Schuldich - especially not under the circumstances, right outside the haven of his own dwelling.
This was a welcome piece of news. One pretty kitty obsessing over another; the Abyssinian wanted the Balinese, and *badly.*
He had thought, from the first flashes of thought-pattern, only to trace Fujimiya to the source and from thence, to the rest of Weiss. It would lead him neatly to Yohji, and a subsequent conquest. All of it falling neatly in line like dominoes; that was the way Schuldich liked it.
Fujimiya wanted Kudou in the worst way, though. That was one thing this little jaunt had showed him right off. If one thing was for certain, it was that Schuldich couldn’t go waltzing into the boys’ little flower shop and state his intentions towards Yohji. The workings of his twisty mind were busy turning those facts to his advantage. The only way Yohji would welcome him into his life was if he *needed* him in some desperate way. Even if Kudou didn’t know it on a conscious level, if Schuldich came offering him mental balm and relief, that was the way to *have* him. And if he couldn’t have Kudou right off, then Fujimiya could. It was obvious only the slightest trigger would do it. Fujimiya would take him; would try to make him his.
Only that wouldn’t be so easy. Schuldich wasn’t doing this for altruistic reasons, after all - he wasn’t an idiot matchmaker. Fujimiya would be brutal, and if he judged Kudou right, that was the exact thing to drive him away, to shut him down and send him into a spiral of shame and guilt and self-blame.
And once Fujimiya realized he had made everything slip through his fingers, Schuldich could step in to pick up the pieces.
It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be workable. Considering Kudou’s frail balance of strength and self-preserved agony, Fujimiya could shatter him. He would require...rescuing. And on Schuldich’s part, it would require a lot of work.
Then again, that was the way of the best challenges. The most rewarding challenges. He was looking forward to this.
One thing was for certain; he wouldn’t be helping Crawford to pick up the pieces of Schwarz. At least, not right away. Already Crawford was trying to relocate Farfarello, who had escaped quite some time ago, and to coax Nagi into rejoining them. Crawford would be able to find them, and it was certainly he who had lead them, but Schuldich was the glue that could hold such disparate pieces together. And he didn’t feel like playing right now.
Maybe later, after Kudou was his.
Schuldich grinned and swayed up the alleyway. Crawford would be disconcerted by his sense of style, as always. But if it caused chaos among the white hunters, who was he to complain?
Yohji shuddered, nursing his fourth cup of strong black coffee at the tiny kitchen table.
*And I have known the eyes already, known them all - the eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, and when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin......then how shall I begin to spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?*
He felt like he was haunted, tonight; as if there was someone looking over his shoulder. He almost wished there was someone here to share the hours, even Omi. With no one in the apartment but himself, there were parts of the night and parts of the poem when he couldn’t tell if he was dreaming or awake.
*At least I haven’t seen Asuka tonight.* Yohji shuddered again. What were the worst nights, the ones with Asuka, or the recollections of Neu? Either way... But he hadn’t had *those* dreams in a long time. No, like his whole life, one nightmare got replaced with another. Now he dreamed of Weiss and uneasy, shadowy things; there was a disturbing, sexual cast to some of the dreams.
That was a door he didn’t want to open. Actually, he wanted to brick it shut.
He raised too-wide eyes to fix them on the round clock in the corner of the kitchen wall. Three forty-five. This was dreadful. At least, once he got off his shift at one o’clock, he could go home and take a cat-nap. Sleeping in the daylight didn’t seem nearly so bad. It was the night when he felt exposed; the night that forced him to remember, that made him feel like hands were running up and down his body, tracing up his spine...
“Someone must be talking about me...” he murmured. An odd smile touched the corners of his mouth. “And I’ve been an awfully bad boy.”
Aya turned on his heel and stalked towards his bedroom. This was ridiculous, and he needed to get more sleep. There was no sense in being tired and ragged for the next morning.
A morning of opening the store with Yohji, of being in his presence, of listening to his voice and watching the shape of his mouth as he spoke and seeing the various poses and inclinations his body assumed. It was too much. Self-control couldn’t last forever; his desire to please his little sister wouldn’t be able to withstand his need for bodily gratification. No one was made of iron or ice and Aya discovered this the longer he lived.
The only thing Aya was afraid of was himself. He might not be able to hold things in with the rigid self-control that had been his, while he was Aya-with-a-mission, a rigid focused purpose, for very much longer. Aya-chan was awake now, and parts of him that were Ran and softer and less disciplined were rustling awake now.
“I need a mission,” Aya said aloud. He caught himself against the doorframe, absorbing the permutations of that phrase. But Aya-chan was all right. She was alive. Recovered from her coma, the missing portions of his life had returned.
No, there was still something he needed. There was a requirement that his life of the past five years had created which Aya-chan couldn’t fulfill.
Aya returned to his empty bed. There was nothing to do about it now. At any rate, the only thing he had in this bed was baseless dreams. That was one thing that hadn’t changed.