New Rules, New Ruler

*Author's Note: This is going to be solely Schwarz based. I think. Usual disclaimers apply, but I take full responsibility for Tanya, Tash and the plot I have yet to think of. This take's place after the destruction of SS. Again, unabashed sappiness, yaoi (I feel I ought to give more warning this time, since Schu and Brad just seem unable to stop. I swear, I didn't plan that. They've taken over!), etc *

Part One

Crawford stared at the papers spread across his desk. Well, the coffee table. A small cardboard sign, given to him by Schuldig on his last birthday, tugged a tight grin from him, but only because it reflected too accurately how he was feeling.

-I'm going to have a nervous breakdown as soon as I have time.- it read. Schuldig's display of affection had surprised him at the time, especially as he had had no intention of celebrating his birthday. And he'd been under the impression that Schuldig had hated him.

Right now, he didn't have the faintest idea how his part time boyfriend felt inclined towards him. And, for that matter, neither did said boyfriend. Crawford frowned at his own mental use of the word 'boyfriend' but shrugged it off. A few days ago Schuldig's shields had collapsed unexpectedly and he no longer had any idea who he was. Occasionally he'd be able to struggle back to who he was, but the constant influx of other people's thoughts left him in a sea of confusion. Crawford desperately wished they could get out of Tokyo to somewhere where Schuldig's tortures mind would be under less stress and he could recover, but they just couldn't.

Crawford started at a sudden sound. Or rather at the sudden cessation of a sound. Screams. He leapt to his feet and dashed into one of the two bedrooms their current abode had.

Nagi, who'd been going through yet another social withdrawal was pinned to the floor of the room he, Crawford and Schuldig were currently being forced to share by Farferello, who'd been out of it for several days now. Crawford cursed bitterly and yanked the Irishman off of the boy, who immediately curled up against the wall. Crawford shouted for Schuldig before noticing him in an identical position to Nagi, apparently unaware that he wasn't Nagi. Crawford desperately pinned the smaller man to the ground and after a great deal of wrestling managed to get him into a straitjacket.

Leaving Farferello to squirm around on the floor, spitting Gaelic profanities, Crawford turned his attention to Nagi. He wasn't badly cut, but Crawford had to sit on him to straighten him enough to find this out. Nagi lay limp and listless on the ground, dull eyes gazing blankly up at Crawford. Brad cursed himself silently as he stroked the boy's hair away from his face and carried him out to the main room to lie him on the couch. Judging by the shallowness of the wounds, Schuldig had at least been active for part of the fight.

Nagi occasionally (often, if Crawford was being honest with himself, especially recently) slipped into bouts of depression. He'd spend a lot of time sleeping, almost none eating, and would spend hours doing absolutely nothing. Schuldig was usually the one to bring him out of it, with cajoling and coaxing words and offers. He'd slipped into one of his bouts a few days ago, after coming home from school with a variety of bruises. He begged Brad to allow him home schooling, or just no schooling, but it was something Brad had always been firm on.

Nagi lay quietly while Brad dressed his wounds and generally cleaned him up. He knew that if Schuldig was still lost in Nagi's head, he'd be getting all the psychological benefits of this tender care as well. On the other hand, by now he could be Farferello, or even Brad.

"Is there anything you'd like to talk about?" Brad asked awkwardly. "I mean, what's getting you down?" Nagi was stone silent, and Brad sighed. He knew he wasn't going to get anything out of the youngest assassin for at least three days.

Schuldig wandered into the room. "It's too small," he declared suddenly. "How can four of them live in a place like that?" Crawford frowned up at him. Wonderful, they were about to have a visitor who knew who they were, it seemed.

Leaving Nagi on the couch and Schuldig conducting someone else's private monologue, Crawford scooped up the papers from the desk and tried not to wince at the large number of outstanding bills the pile contained. They hadn't had a job in weeks, and with Schwarz in its current state they weren't likely to get one. Farferello's medicine seemed to have run out as well, hence his current writhing state on the floor of the bedroom the other three shared. Brad scooped him up and put him into his own room. Well, the broom cupboard with a futon squeezed between the two walls.

Just to maintain appearances, Brad opened the door before the doorbell rang. The bell had stopped working a few weeks ago anyway.