Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them. I promise that when I am done I will give them back in the same condition that I found them.
Pairings: Nagi+Tot, Schuldig+Omi, Ken+Yuriko, Crawford+Ran, Farfarello+Yohji
My life has been unreasonably complicated for years now. I guess that I am just not meant to have a simple, placid existence. But that really should be no surprise; I am an assassin after all. One of the best. But it's not just that. Sure, I kill people for money, but that alone doesn't make for the kind of life that can really drive me crazy. It's what was going on during my off hours that made things difficult.
From the perspective of the average viewer everything probably seems very simple. I work in a flower shop, I coach a children's football team, I share my life with a beautiful woman and wonderful friends. But what they don't see is a life full of danger, fear, and more secrets than a fifteen year olds diary. Those secrets are what attempted to steal my sanity and I thank my lucky stars that I no longer have to keep them so close.
Keeping things from the people who you trust to guard your back, and who give you that same trust is quite possibly the most difficult task in the world. But I had to, had I shared what I was keeping hidden they would have branded me a traitor and ended my life.
I remember the first time one of those who I considered enemies approached me. I was sitting in a small café enjoying a warm drink when I heard a quiet voice at my shoulder telling me to be careful on my upcoming mission. Apparently the tall American had been passing by and received a vision foretelling one or more of our deaths. Without his warning I would have walked right into a trap that night, so…much as it hurt to admit, I owed him my life.
Over the course of the next few months I slowly began to trust the opposing quartet, and it was a good thing that I did. For they had chosen me as a confidant. They told me their concerns, gave me warnings when things were uncertain, and provided me the same unbiased ear that I gave them. Gradually those infrequent discussions became more and more personal. I learned some of their pasts, their motives. I came to understand why they became what they did, and then I learned of their hearts.
The first to tell me of his infatuation was the youngest, Naoe Nagi, brooding teenager and telekinetic extraordinaire. He'd gone and given his heart to the blue-haired bunny-butt of Schrient.
To say that I was surprised when he chose to express his feelings to me would be a profound understatement. But I understood his predicament, and he felt better after speaking of it. Those two are doing well, she has grown up some and now acts her age…most of the time. From what I've been able to gather, Schuldig helped her work out some of her issues.
At any rate, that conversation is probably what helped me hold out. Before it was over Nagi had given me a gift from his leader. A pair of plane-tickets to Australia, with them came instructions to take a vacation. I will forever be grateful for that.
After the final confrontation with Schwartz I was exhausted.
Mentally because of the strain of fighting people I considered friends.
Physically from swimming through freezing water after the structure collapsed, as well as from being beaten up against a concrete pillar repeatedly.
Emotionally from not knowing if the aforementioned friends were even still alive.
That trip to Australia was revitalizing on all counts.
I knew that they were still around when Yuriko met me at the gate, telling me that she had received a phone call that morning informing her of my impending arrival. After that I could relax, and spent three glorious weeks basking in the warm sun and making love to my hearts desire.
Amazingly, when I told her about my night job she just smiled and nodded and said that she already knew. When I tried to make arrangements to remain on the peaceful continent she quickly stopped me and said that we would both be returning to Japan.
I think that was the happiest day of my life.
So we came back here, Japan, home. She moved into the apartment I keep above the shop and integrated herself into our lives with an ease that was wonderfully reassuring. We had made the right choice. I returned to my tasks as a member Weiss, and as the secret keep of Schwartz.
That first conversation after my return caused me to take another look at my leader. I supposed that I could see the strength that Crawford spoke of, but I could also see fragility. If the Oracle wasn't careful he would break this tree, and never have a chance to make Ran into his haven.
I really should not have worried.
Crawford knew what buttons he could safely push; he knew what steps to take to win Rans interest and his trust. He was calm and patient, firm and gentle, harsh and romantic; all when the situation called for it. Through painstaking persistence and a very healthy does of flattery toward Aya-chan, he melted the icy walls that had surrounded Fujimiyas heart. He gained forgiveness from a person I thought incapable of such a thing.
Fortunately I was able to see it happening, so I was not completely shocked when I came downstairs for breakfast one morning and found a remarkably relaxed Bradley Crawford sitting at a neatly set table watching a genuinely happy Fujimiya Ran cook. Until that moment I had not known that Abyssinian could cook, but since then he has done so on a relatively regular basis.
They are really quite amusing. In the privacy of our home they are relaxed and affectionate, not sappy, but easy around each other, comfortable and warm. The moment a stranger appears or they set foot out in public they each revert to their usual cold-hearted personas. Glaring at everyone, threatening the lives of random people…and growling whenever some air-headed fangirl gets too close.
Perhaps the least surprising of my teammates pairings is that of Omi and Schuldig. For some reason the love and understanding that they now share makes perfect sense to me. Maybe the reason lies in the sheer length of time that I have had to grow accustomed to the idea.
Nagi was the first to tell me of Masterminds fixation on my young friend, and each of the others mentioned it in turn. Though it was not until the redhead snuck in one night and made off with him that I really thought about it.
I could see how the two would mesh, though part of my mind refused to accept the innocent boy I had known for so long as a part of the self-named devils life. It took a visit from Schuldig himself to blend the image of the angel with that of Bombay into the true Omi. He forced me to realize that the blonde was no longer a child, that mentally he had perhaps never been.
Tsukiyono could not be corrupted because his innocence had been gone for far longer than I cared to think. Yet despite his having been aware of the darkness of the world, despite his being part of it, Omi remained himself. Cheerful, friendly, forgiving. He was everything that Schuldig needed. As the lethal bandanna wearer said, he silenced the voices.
I will never forget the hopeless look in those momentarily blue eyes as he told me that he was losing himself. I had gone looking for Crawford immediately after that particular revelation, hoping that perhaps it wasn't true. But the Oracle only confirmed his words. Telling me that it was a danger every telepath must face, the constant influx of others thoughts and feelings could easily overwhelm the persons individuality. According to him Schuldig was amazingly stubborn and strong-minded, and only that tenacity had enabled him to hang on for so long.
For this reason alone I could be certain that Schuldig would protect Omi, would cherish him for all eternity. Because Omi was his last hope.
So, what happens when a desperate and love struck telepath kidnaps a heavily trained archer who would like nothing more than to see him six feet under? First there was anger. Omi was livid, furious, more enraged than any of us had ever seen him. This man was responsible for the death of his sister, he had delivered him to torment at the hands of his brother, how dare he speak of forgiveness. But time passed, the Guilty One explained. Situation after situation was brought up, picked apart, understood. He learned that she was not his sister, but rather his cousin, and that her death was completely unintentional. Acceptance was give, then respect, friendship, admiration, and after many, many debates, love.
There are no secrets to be found between them, just honesty. Really, they are very sweet. Omi goes on missions as he has always done and his lover follows and keeps him out of trouble. I would never have thought manipulative Mastermind capable of mother-henning until I saw it. The aura of happiness that surrounds them is sometimes overwhelming, and there is very little that can be funnier than seeing Bombay's cheeks turn pink in the middle of a boring mission. When that happens we all laugh, knowing that he's probably being given a running commentary on his shorts and just what they do to the mind reader.
As unsurprising as Omi and Schuldig were, the last couple among our group was equally shocking. Farfarello and Yohji. I could hardly believe my ears when the one-eyed madman told me of his desire for the playboy. I had never pictured Farfarello as being a sexual creature. The thought of him in any kind of relationship only conjured up vague images of blood and pain. But as he spoke I realized that he was making sense.
The albino had noticed the self-destructive habits of my friend. He was fully aware that the lanky man was getting worse, not better. He sensed what no one else could. Kudou was killing himself, possibly even consciously. He had lost his will to live. The Asuka/Neu debacle had broken something in his mind and there were no signs of him recovering. I saw true worry lurking in that lone amber eye, genuine concern over the well being of his 'kitty.'
His quest against God had not, and still hasn't, ended, but he saw in Kudou a way to get back at that cruel and oppressive deity without causing pain. By saving Yohji, by easing his pain and bringing them both pleasure, he would be thwarting the being who brought such suffering to them both.
But he had his work cut out for him. Of us all Yohji had fallen the farthest. He slept with his wire and woke at the slightest sound. To this day I do not know how Berserker managed to subdue a paranoid and likely very frightened Balinese long enough to clean out his apartment and run off with him into the night.
It was weeks before any of us saw so much as a blonde hair, only the assurances of Schuldig that he was just fine kept me calm. The details of what went on during that time have been kept carefully secret. What is important is that Kudou, though still the physical embodiment of Sin itself, seems to have gained stability from a most unlikely source. It is not unusual to walk in on a shirtless Yohji tempting his silver-haired lover and we all know that they have a very active and, from the sound of things, satisfying relationship.
But don't think that things between them are purely physical. They have been known to vanish into the study for hours on end, discussing philosophy and thoroughly enjoying the many books that we have collected over the years. Farfarello has proven himself to be more than capable of rational conversation, though such events are generally accompanied by the sound of his blender whirring away quietly. The only time that he really gets dangerous anymore is when he believes that someone has insulted his Yohji, or worse, when he thinks that they are trying to lay claim to the blonde. He is possessive and has marked Kudou for his own.
Once all of our various relationships had stabilized it was time for me to come out and tell the others my secret. I must say that they took it very well. Yohji blinked at me for a moment before handing a piece of liver to Farfie and saying that we were all still alive so I couldn't have been betraying anyone. Omi nodded and told me that he was glad they had someone to talk to. He told me that they had made the right choice, I was trustworthy.
Ran, well, he surprised me. The katana wielder smiled and said that he knew all along. He had seen Crawford give me that warning the first time, and had overheard one or two of the conversations along the way. He knew I wasn't hurting anything or anyone, and so did not say anything. My burden was unloaded and I was happy.
None of us were adjusting to being separate very well, and the space above the shop was simply not big enough for everyone. That was when Crawford surprised us yet again. He brought us to what looked like a warehouse and when we stepped inside…it was amazing, it was perfect, it is home.
He had arranged for the massive building to be converted into living quarters for the lot of us. Apparently he had faith that we could successfully pull it off all along. So we all packed up and moved in, letting Sakura and Aya-chan take over the space above the shop.
At first living in such proximity was a challenge and we stepped lightly for a few weeks until everyone adjusted to each others various weird quirks. But now none of us could imagine living anywhere else. We live in the warehouse, work in the flower shop, and do body guarding and other activities by night.
My life is still complicated, but these days things are at least a little more simple.
Notes: Okay, it's over! That's the end. This chapter required a full rewrite because the first edition was…bad. Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed! You give me reassurance that people actually like the results of my boredom. Yay! In other notes, yes, I know that we never find out if Crawfords first name is Bradley…and I don't care…it makes me happy. I also like the blender. Personally think there should have been some Farfie w/ blender scenes in the series. As always…please review!