I'm sorry. I don't know where this came from. Please, R&R.


The world's flattery and hypocrisy is a sweet morsel:
eat less of it, for it is full of fire.
Its fire is hidden while its taste is manifest
but its smoke becomes visible in the end.

-Rumi, Mathnawi I, 1855-1856

Because everything is white, he is amused. Because the sheets are white and her arms are white and things smell white, too, he is intensely amused; it is so very appropriate, so very chaste, so very sterile. It is also very nude: things bared and naked and vulnerable at the intensity of how everything is so disgustingly and yet amusingly white. He entered the room, and even he felt suddenly strange and unusual, and had to check himself. Naturally, now, he is himself again, because it was the white that attacked him, the white that tried to tear down his barriers and his defenses. The white failed; he is very used to white, by now.

So he lit a cigarette, and now, he is smoking it, sitting by the edge of the white bed and watching her arms be white against the white sheets. Watching her fingers be white, curled up, against the white sheets. Watching the strange sight of her breathing white, white things, white because they are dead before they ever pass her lips, anyway.

And he is listening to her, and the incredible silence in her, and he is loving it. Probably, if he touches her, he will die, will be sucked into an all consuming void of silence, and be gone. But for now he is just listening, skirting along the edge of silence and eating it greedily. Somewhere he is sure that if she is dreaming she is having nightmares, but that is a consciousness that even he is not powerful enough to touch; he does not think that it exists, just as children do not think death exists.

He listens.

He smokes the cigarette between tobacco-stained fingers, lithe, and graceful.

This morning he had tea. He put half & half in it because he likes sweet things, and then he buttered himself a slice of toast with too much butter and had only a bite of it. Wasting the cream, he poured most of his tea down the drain and thought of some terrible-for-you specialty drink he had the night before. That was why he had a headache, probably. Half of why, at least. He left the toast on the countertop in the kitchen to get hard, or maybe for the roaches, though roaches never come into their apartment; even the bugs know better. He brushed his hair in front of the mirror, he slipped his sunglasses up, nestled neatly behind his ears and in his fall of orange hair, and then he left the house. He took a long walk; he went to the hospital. He went to the hospital a lot, usually, to listen to people die and then he would retch in the hospital bathrooms, vomiting up his hatred for the white, white, white of the place. Or, he would sit in coma patients' rooms and he would listen to nothing at all and be terrified of it, and love it, too.

Which is what he is doing now, because the girl with her pale lips and her white skin and her hair, the only color she has to her person, save for her eyelashes, is quiet like a song sculpted out of silence. And so he listens to nothing at all, mixed with the sound of his own breathing, and the smoke, the poison, streaming from his nose.

He has wide lips, wide and the bottom one is bruised, sort of pulled into a familiar line, because all of his face is familiar. It is familiar with itself. It is familiar with this state of recumbence he has sunk into, listening, and becoming a part of someone else. This happens: he is dragged into the A- someone received on their exam or the D someone else received for a report, or the sudden Shit She's Got Nice Tits of the man selling newspapers to his favorite fucking customer, or the Look At Her Fucking Ass of the guy eating a sandwich on the corner, watching the young girls go by to school, mentally masturbating with them in mind. This happens: he smokes a cigarette outside a building and he listens to one woman curse about breaking a heel on the way to work and he listens to another man think about the great fucking sex he had not with his wife the night before and he hears some kid debate the injustice of being a kid and not getting that third cookie. This happens: he hears one guy panic as he nearly gets hit by a car and nearly escapes death. This happens: he hears the inane imagination of a woman who wants to marry a plastic surgeon while she's filing her nails in the back seat of a cab.

And the days pass and the years change and now he is sitting here in the white hospital room listening to nothing at all, until the man with the red hair and the purple eyes comes in, and Schuldig moves into the shadows so as not to be seen.

The man with the red hair and the purple eyes is young; has a neat, unique bone structure, feminine, feline, sort of like Schuldig's own, only less wild and more closed off: pretty, not beautiful. All his wildness is gone away somewhere and now its just this statue made of glass, and the sort of paint they use on Christmas tree ornaments. He thinks in short, choppy ideas and brutal, brittle emotions and Schuldig listens to him now, hoping he won't smell the cigarette smoke that clings to the pristine, Lysol-washed walls.

But he does, 'cause he's been trained well, after all; Schuldig hears him want his sword and feels him tense.

"Yo," Schuldig says, and now he's sort of leaning against the windowsill, and now he's lighting up a cigarette, and now he's smoking again, the smoke moving back over his shoulder and through his fall of hair to cling to the windowpane behind him.

Fujimiya Aya says nothing.

But he's thinking, you fucking bastard, put the fucking cigarette out, I'm going to kill you, fucking kill you.

"You and what fucking weapon?" Schuldig asks, cool and sweet like honey. The air tastes like smoke, cigarette smoke, the sort of thing that's supposed to make the nurses come in to see what the hell's going on and why is someone smoking in their room anyway because it's not allowed? But they don't, 'cause of course, Schuldig's seen to that. He runs tobacco stained fingers over Aya's mind in a carress that makes him stand on edge, like Schuldig's put fingers up his ass or something equally invasive. Probably, more so.

Fujimiya Aya says nothing, looks like he wants to throw up.

And he's thinking, my bare fucking hands, asshole, fucking bare hands, kill you with that.

So Schuldig has to laugh at the futile statement, a nasal sound and up in the top of his nose, laughing like a German, the only accent he has left held within his laugh. Even though he speaks with that nasal tone when he's talking in English he doesn't, he's been in Japan for so fucking long, and he picks up languages quickly, accents almost as quickly.

And then he's setting his cigarette down on the bedside table, another piece of furniture which is nondescript and white, and Aya bristles, the smoke making the room suddenly gray, a mix of white with distilling black. They can both see it sort of moving over the girl's pale skin, slow and gentle, a smoke caress. Schuldig doesn't touch her, can't touch her, is afraid to touch her, but the smoke does it for him.

"What the Hell do you want." Aya's words are not a question. They so rarely are.

In the next room the nurse drops something and has to take extra time to clean it up; she's a young, rather pretty thing and the fifty-seven year old man behind her sits up in bed a little even though he's just gotten sixty-four stitches in his stomach and shouldn't be moving. He watches her skirt ride up in the back and he smiles a little. That night he will dream of being in a supply closet pulling down her underpants and touching the smooth skin of her ass. Schuldig envies him his intense stupidity, like a teenage boy still jacking off in his bed with rock music playing really loud.

"She's real quiet, you know." Schuldig smoothes out a wrinkle in the coverlet, fingers almost touching her wrist. "Like death, only a little less intimidating."

"Get the hell out."

"Make me."

Because Schuldig knows its obvious he's come armed, has a gun somewhere and like hell if Aya's going to know where, just that he has it. He straightens up and he faces Aya and then he's behind him, that speed, that inhuman speed, coming into play; as if he's playing with time itself, moving it around like a stuffed animal, making it talk, have tea with him. It fits to his will; things fit to fit his will. He puts his hands on Aya's hips and he laughs a little realizing the guy has to be a virgin, has to be younger than he tries to be, has to be a whole lot of things and one of them probably soft, his skin ivory, and probably soft. He's tensed up, tensed up like a cat ready to do something real stupid.

"'Cause I have a gun," Schuldig explains quietly, "and you don't." It's a warning. Aya isn't stupid, he takes it.

Schuldig moves nimble fingers down the front of Aya's pants and he feels Aya close his eyes and take in a deep breath like Shit the Hell are you doing you fucking pervert bastard get the fuck and it's music to his ears. Sort of. Not the same music as Aya's fucking comatose sister's head has music but it's music anyway and Schuldig says,

"Just pretend I'm her and it'll be okay."

And he gets inside of Aya's boxers and he wraps his fingers around him and he slides his other hand down the back of his pants, to touch the little dip in his back, right above his ass. Aya does have smooth skin. It's like no one's ever touched it before, and that's probably because no one's ever touched it before, because that's the way skin works. (Even though Schuldig's skin is smooth but not like no one's ever touched it before, more like its just be smoothed down by time and fingers, and people want to touch it because people before them wanted to touch it and people after them will want to touch it. Desirable: not innocent: never that.) Schuldig moves his fingers back and forth, back and forth, and he closes his eyes, and he smells like smoke and tobacco. Aya doesn't smell like much, like cheap shampoo and store-brand detergent and an amalgam of different flower scents, all real, of course, not some fucking perfume - Schuldig hates perfume - and all over his skin. Schuldig's never had a good sense of smell, and he's never had much of a good sense of sight, either; he's practically deaf in one ear and hears very little out of the other and he doesn't taste things, has to put sugar on everything just to give it flavor. Those senses got left out somewhere, it's the one that hears Aya go shit, fuck, you fuck you, fuck that's strong. It's always been that.

"Just pretend I've got her pretty little hands and you're in your room, your bedroom."

Aya closes his eyes.

"Just pretend no one's home and I'm touching you like this, she's touching you like this."

Aya makes a sound like a sob but it's not, it's anger and it's despair and he's getting hard, now, of course he's getting hard. He's only fucking human. Schuldig whispers things in his ear, like sliding poison into dreams through an ear. Schuldig read that once. It had to do with Satan and a frog.

"Like no one's ever going to know."

Schuldig nurses the erection like a baby. He's never been nurturing. His hand tightens and he moves it faster and his fingernails bite into the soft flesh of his ass, rocking his own hips against it. Just to tease him, 'cause he isn't even turned on. There's playing and then there's fucking and right now Schuldig's playing, listening to Aya's thoughts get panicked.

Cause Aya-chan laughs, laughed, this little soft laugh and it's sweet it was so sweet, like I wanted to listen to it, forever, and that would have been enough.

"And maybe she lets you fuck her, huh? Maybe she says, 'Oniisan,' all desperate for you, and she lets you touch her tits and they're soft, like you know they are."

Aya throws his head back and makes this sound, this gasping sound, like he's run out of breath and there's no air left and his hips moved forward. He needs this. Because he's thinking of her, little images of her naked breasts flashing through his mind, or the line of her pale thigh, or how it would feel touching her all over. And how does Schuldig know this, he's fucking not safe here and he wants to fucking cut his stomach open and watch him bleed to death on the floor so that he's safe again and he can hold her hand without him watching. He's going to see those green eyes watching him forever and here that voice, feel those fingers.

"And she cries out," and Schuldig makes a little breathy sound, feminine and soft and pleading, so that Aya groans, "she cries out and opens her legs for you and begs you, 'Oniisan, oniisan, oniisan…'"

And Aya thrusts and Aya comes and Schuldig pulls both hands out of Aya's pants immediately, not even getting dirty. He steps back; Aya nearly loses his balance but he catches himself. Schuldig watches him, so human, desperately trying to pull the pieces of himself into some semblance of himself once more, because it's funny when people do that, scrabbling around for themselves with helpless, hopeless determination. Shattered like a mirror or scattered like broken dinnerware.

Aya's skin, still porcelain, no longer interests him; Schuldig leaves the cigarette burning on the table as he steps back, shoves his hands into his pockets. Outside, he remembers, the day is cold, a post-fall chill that speaks of winter but is too hung up on summer still to move the fuck on and make up its fucking mind. The back of Aya's neck is a pretty place, pale but with the fall of dark red hair and if Schuldig had the time or the desire he would touch it all over. He has neither. He's going to go for a walk, and then he's going to go to a coffee shop and eat a bite of some cake that will remind him yes, he can taste things, as well as the next man. Some things, at least.

"That earring looks fucking stupid," Schuldig says, and then he steps out of the room and moves down the hall unnoticed. The days that pass, around and through him, wounded by his touch, limp unintelligibly by.