Another sort of companion piece to Zodiacally and Xantippe. Schuldig stalks down Tsukiyono Omi on an empty street one night. R&R.





Trinkets

When you continually keep watch
over your thoughts and actions,

you are always seeing the Justice and the Judge,
though heedlessness may shut your eyes,
still, that doesn't stop the sun from shining.

-from Rumi, Mathnawi VI, 377-384




He has been following the kitten for long enough that he has grown weary of the chase at last; it is time to end it. Tigers do not spend all their time moving through the darkness in chase of smaller, weaker prey. Sometimes, they desire to stretch their legs and test their strength against creatures as strong as they are. But sometimes - in such a case as this - they are vindictive and cruel; they want only to search, devour, and destroy. If their claws need sharpening, they sharpen them on unimportant, small creatures. Then, all of them proud and ready, they hunt true game.

His body has muscles like that, wiry, sinuous, like a tiger's. His body lopes that way, with that same feline grace. Sometimes, if you watch him when he's following something helpless and small, you can see that that's the way he moves, inhuman, feral. There's caution in him, but only a mean towards his ends. There is no remorse.

He has these catlike eyes, narrow and murky beneath a sudden brightness: emerald over a more refined color, a distilled jade. If he had been born with black eyes the effect of his face would be the same, pale and exotically sculpted, with cheekbones too harsh for conventional good looks and lips too wide to be much of anything. Well, they're good for sneering, at least, for smiling at you like he's got X-ray vision. It's almost as if he's Superman, looking right through you, only you get the feeling that Superman wouldn't make you uncomfortable like he does. Superman certainly wouldn't have those eyes, with long, dark lashes and high, thin eyebrows, too natural to be plucked that way, too unnatural to be in any way usual. Only the villain of a story would be this different looking. His nose is too long, his chin becomes too pointed, his neck is decidedly feminine. He's a mixture of features from all over the world, none of which, examined separately, look good for a single second: exaggerated charicatures of themselves. Together, on his face, in the darkness, there isn't anything more beautiful and there's no hope of putting any finger from this earth on why.

So he moves like a tiger and his face is like a gypsy's, intense and omniscient, like he's reading your face the same way carnival fakirs read palms. If you laid him down on a bed of nails, light as a feather, he'd just look up at you and tell you who you were. If it were walk across the hot coals or die he'd be over to the other side quick as a gasp and his feet wouldn't even be warm. And that's what he looks like, like he belongs somewhere else, anywhere but on a dark street at night, lips pursed as if he's whistling to himself, though you can't hear him do it. He probably doesn't make any sound at all.

He has been following the kitten for long enough that he has decided to put an end to the game, if only because the irony now is so delicious. The kitten is almost home. The kitten is tired and almost sprained his ankle earlier because he thought he felt someone watching him, and it startled him enough that he tripped off the curb. Now, all the kitten wants is dinner and a nice, dreamless sleep.

So Schuldig, always a fan of irony, politely emerges from the shadows that embrace him like a brother, and falls into step behind his kitten, moving with loud purpose. He is intent on being heard. It is all the kitten can do to keep from jumping at the sudden sound of footsteps, penetrating the darkness; and the kitten, driven by human impulses, finds himself turning against his will.

Schuldig has his Ruger out so that it sits heavily on his palm. He's stopped walking now but he's still in motion, as if none of him will stay still, as if he's a little kid just straining to shove his hands where they shouldn't be. He has one thumb resting on the trigger guard because he's using it as a warning, touching it like a lover. He runs a forefinger over the grooves in the cylinder, over the long, smooth line of the barrel. The grip feels pleasantly solid against his gun-callused hand. He read a book once, about What Guns Mean To Their Owners. He thought it was the stupidest shit he'd ever been privy to because if anything, it should have been about knives. Guns are one thing, they're smooth and sleek and they look good and they get the job done. But Schuldig is with Farfarello on the subject of weapons, what and why, because knives have this certain finesse to them; knives require understanding and a little bit of madness and infinite skill. Farfarello can gut a guy like a fish soon as look at him and if blood isn't what he wants, there's hardly any blood at all. Guns, on the other hand, don't listen to you; you aim and you pull the trigger and there's a healthy bang and a splatter of blood and it does all the damn work for you.

"It's a dark night," Schuldig says, the first time he's spoken in hours, because he's been bored and there's no one else there to talk to on the long, dark street, anyway. The barrel of the gun catches the light from a street lamp. There's an old tree leaning into it, nearly blocking out the perfect light, but the lamp is something of the modern age. It makes it's fucking light. "Isn't it?"

"Why are you here?" Schuldig has never had any respect for that fucking kid, just a fucking little kid, really, who shouldn't be playing with toys that are too scary for him. Tsukiyono Omi has these huge blue eyes and they sort of fix on him, unsure, and it's revolting. What are you, Schuldig wants to ask him, A killer or a baby? Make up your fucking mind, kid. "What do you want?"

"I've got a fucking gun, what the fuck do you think I want?"

Schuldig takes a step forward.

Omi takes two steps back.

"Actually," Schuldig explains, shifting the gun from one hand to the other, like some sort of parody of a god: he looks like he should be holding scales in one hand, should be illumined from behind. "Actually, I'm just out for a fucking walk. You going home?" Omi nods. "Hn."

There's this pleasant, unfiltered hate that Omi's got in those innocent eyes, though, as he fixes them on Schuldig's intriguing face. It doesn't notice, this hate, how verdant Schuldig's eyes are or how high his cheekbones are or how wide his mouth is, how altogether the features look graceful and delicate and terrifying in the weak light. All it notices is the vague outline of him, and the memories that brings. Schuldig drinks up his hate, taking to it like any alcoholic to a decent beer.

"Oh," Schuldig says casually, amused, "this is the gun, isn't it?"

Ouka.

"Isn't it?" Schuldig goes on, still touching the gun with fingers that have never been so tender with human flesh, because the metal is slick and cool. The Ruger has been closer to him for longer than anyone or anything. It was the first gun Crawford ever gave to him, the only gun Crawford ever gave to him, and that was the only shit that had made sense in that stupid book Schuldig had read. The first gun you get, it means everything. And this was the first gun: Crawford handed it over to him and said to him, Don't fuck this up, and Schuldig had wrapped his fingers around it like a treasure. It had been a reward, for his first kill. Then, he'd been ready to do things the normal way, gun to the head bang, and his own way, which was more subtle but sometimes far less fun.

"I mean, the one I killed her with," Schuldig explains, after that, "the one I shot her with. This is it, isn't it?" He holds it up for Omi to get a good look at it, watching the kid's lips work very slightly as he struggles with whatever hate and whatever piss-in-his-pants fear he's feeling. Schuldig's lips curve up to form a smile. It's really dark on the street. Schuldig's teeth are white.

"It's the one you killed her with," Omi says quietly, suddenly. Schuldig flips the gun in his hands and holds the barrel with one hand, finger butting against the trigger. The barrel stays steady, focused, right between Omi's legs. Schuldig looks at him from over the hammer.

"Yeah," he says, "I know."

Schuldig takes a step forward.

Omi takes two steps back, finds himself pressed up against the trunk of the tree. It's one of those moments where he wants someone, anyway, to pass by; or wants to see the headlights of a car roll somnolently past them, pinpricks of salvation in the pitch of night.

"Why're you coming home so late anyway? It's sort of an ungodly hour for a kid to be out alone." Schuldig keeps the gun trained expertly on Omi. He's making him damn uncomfortable and he loves it. Schuldig moves closer, too close to shoot and not get blood all over himself, but close enough to terrify the fuck out of the kid.

"I," Omi says, and cuts off, Schuldig drawing the very front of the barrel along the kid's jaw, pressing it to the corner of his mouth.

"You?" Schuldig taunts, grinning like a wildcat. Naturally, Omi's too busy forgetting how to breathe to say anything, anything at all.

Why are you home late? Crawford will ask.

Out hunting rabbit, Schuldig will explain, guileless and false.

Didn't get into trouble. Crawford will say it very simply, because he knows, he always already knows, and Schuldig will finger the gun like a man touches the nipples of a prostitute. With dirty reverence. And it's just the way Schuldig worships shit.

Schuldig slips the jaw down the line of Omi's throat, the side of his neck, which is bare and pale in the bright lamplight.

"What the hell are you doing?" Omi manages, somehow, to sound demanding, even though there's a tremble in his voice. It's quavering. It's just like a fucking child's voice - why won't you give me another cookie. Why won't you let me go out to play. Why won't you let me watch the TV for another half an hour my favorite program is coming on now please. Why can't you just tell me one more story, one more bedtime story. Why the hell are you touching my neck with the fucking Ruger like that. Simple little stupid questions that Schuldig hears all the time, whining and obnoxious. Schuldig hates the word please because it's like begging, and people who beg make him want to throw up all over someone's new shoes.

"Did you want to die with her?"

"What?" Omi's breath catches in his throat. The word comes out far less assertive than he would have liked it to.

"'Cause I could have let you die with her, you know. Nothing better than dying with some bitch you're in love with."

"Stop."

"I could've shot you up with her and you could have died there saying sweet fucking things to each other and you know how fucking wrong that would have been?"

"Stop."

"It would have been fucked up in the fucking head, is what it would've been. Fucked up in the God damn head. Your fucking God damn sister, even I wouldn't dream about fucking my own God damn sister." Schuldig smiles, takes the gun away, and then presses it back against the kid, again. Up against his hip, now.

"Stop!"

"What, telling you you're a fucking basket case because your sister died in your arms with you screaming out her name like you were fucking going to come in your pants?"

"Shut up." Schuldig toys with the waistband of Omi's pants with the barrel of the gun, feels him stiffen, and grins.

"I'm the one with the gun, you God damn cunt. You don't get to tell me when to stop, or when to shut the fuck up, you got that?" Omi nods. The gun is very bright. Schuldig is going to become bored with the kid's acquiescence at any second, he can tell, but he draws it out, just standing there. Suddenly, he's still. It looks as if he's coiling every muscle, as if he's pausing there, in the place before he pounces, thinking things over. He likes to give people false hope, because he likes the way their thoughts morph, sudden and fierce, at the onslaught of it. Possibility is a shitty master. Hope is a shitty friend. Luck is a bitch who spreads her legs to anyone who looks her way, so he can kind of see his way clear to associating with her, at least. Well, understanding her, at least.

"Shit, kid," Schuldig goes on, shaking his head, "you fucking bore the shit out of me, you know that? Not even keeping me interested." He hooks the Ruger in the waistband of Omi's pants now and shoves it inside moments later. The metal is cold against the boy's flesh. "What do you think? You could die, you could die here the same way she did. You just have to say the fucking word and I'll do it." He moves the gun slowly beneath Omi's boxers, testing him out. The cold of the metal is unpleasant, he knows. This is amusing, though. It's more amusing than anything's been in a real long time.

Ouka, Omi keeps thinking, Ouka Ouka Ouka. It's actually starting to piss Schuldig off, like maybe he should be pressing the fucking Ruger against Omi's head rather than against his cock. He doesn't know what the hell is wrong with people sometimes but it can be God damn boring if you think about it too hard, or spend too much time on it.

"What the hell is wrong with you, anyway?" Schuldig pulls the gun out, sudden, quick, and has the barrel pressed against Omi's forehead, between his eyes, before the kid can blink.

"Don't," Omi whispers, helpless and kind of lost. He's thinking about Ouka again. If Schuldig kills him now he does him a sort of favor. Schuldig's damned if he's going to do shit to help this kid out. Shooting someone's brains out is too quick a death for someone Schuldig dislikes intensely like he dislikes Omi, so he takes a step back, still holding the gun up with arms that don't waver, a focus that burns into Omi's skin.

"Not worth my fucking time to make you come today, kid," he explains. "Never even cocked the gun in the first place."

It's hard to tell whether Tsukiyono Omi is relieved or miserable. Probably both, and Schuldig likes that, tainting one emotion with the opposite of the other: like mixing white with black, and getting an unpleasant, rather disgusting gray.

"Shit," Schuldig says, pressing a sort of kiss, sort of smirk to the revolver's ejector rod, "what the hell is it with you people and your fucking sisters, and fucking your sisters, anyway?" And then, inhuman speed and inhuman laughter, he's moved back into the shadows, which have been waiting for him. He leaves Omi behind, bathed in lamplight, weak-kneed and unstable.

It's a while before Omi can bring himself to move. Schuldig can reduce the greatest treasures in the world to cheap baubles, sold on street corners, he thinks to himself, trying not to smell like gunpowder and cigarette smoke, and failing. You can't will scents to change.

Schuldig leaves the night behind, recuperating in his wake. He's like a storm. The hours, drunk in a desperate attempt to escape him, fall over on other people's doorsteps, and fade away into the restless morning.