Three's a crowd

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Warnings/notes : Aya/Sakura, Schuldich/Sakura, ?/Sakura, slightly AU, ooc?, somewhat weird/drabble-ish.

Disclaimer : I don't own Weiss Kreuz.

written at 6th July 2004, by Misura, to wish Star of Heaven a happy birthday.

[!] Spoilers : Aya's relative, Aya's real name

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Letting her gaze wander through the cafeteria, Sakura Tomoe musingly decided that some things never appeared to change at all, as if time had no influence on them.

To her, it seemed like she had been here with Aya-chan for a cup of hot chocolate (with whipped cream and marshmallows) only last week, the two of them sitting at their table giggling like school-girls while discussing their plans for the weekend.

Her visits with -them- felt closer still, yesterday perhaps, or the day before that. In retrospect she wondered what the other frequent visitors must have thought of her, showing up with one young man one day, and with another one the next.

Not that she cared. After all, it was over and done with now. One of them wasn't even in Japan anymore, accompanying his sister, her best friend, to some Western country on a study-trip. Where the other was, only the gods knew.

Well, her present companion might be able to tell her too, of course, if she were to ask him. She didn't really want to do that though. She wasn't sure whether the subject wouldn't be too ... sensitive.

Yohji-kun had once told her the biggest mistake he'd ever made in a relationship was telling a woman how much she reminded him of another. Past lovers were not to be discussed with present ones. It was begging for trouble.

Sakura had had more than enough trouble in her life already. She certainly wasn't going to beg for more. At present, she was simply searching for a way to be happy. She thought she deserved a bit of happiness. Didn't everyone?

"I'm a killer. I don't deserve to be happy," Aya stated, staring out of the window. Small rivulets of water ran down the glass surface, like tears. "My hands are ... stained. Soiled with sin."

She believed they did.

"Happiness? And what do you think that is?" Schuldich inquired. "Happiness is something people only recognize once they lost it. Nobody ever considers themselves to be happy; there's always a part of them that's unsatisfied with what they have."

Even killers.

"I did it for her, but that doesn't make it right. I sold my soul for her, and I don't regret it. It is no more than a just punishment for having failed to keep her safe in the first place."

Even killers without regrets.

"Sin is such a heavy word, don't you think? Ran is very fond of using it, wallowing in his self-pity, drama-queen that he is. But really, how can anyone judge whether or not another person's life was worth preserving? People don't get what they deserve. it's the other way around; people deserve what they get. What they accept." The setting sun lit up Schuldich's hair, like a crown of fire. Or the halo of a fallen angel.

Today it was a typical autumn-afternoon, not yet raining, but with grey clouds filling the sky. Contentedly sipping her coffee (she was too old for hot chocolate now, a grown-up), Sakura allowed her mind to return back to the two men who had been sitting here, at this table, with her before.

The innocent one who drowned in guilt.

"I know I don't deserve you. I don't deserve love, or happiness. I shouldn't be here." Anyone else, she would have smacked, suspecting them of fishing for affection and praise. Not Ran though. He was too ... sincere, too solemn.

He still made her want to smack him.

And the guilty one who didn't believe in innocence.

"You're pretty cute. Not my usual type. But hey, variety is the spice of life, isn't it?" Schuldich grinned impishly at her. "And at least with you, I don't have to keep any secrets. Or wipe your mind. It's ... nice to have someone whose mind I don't have to touch, who can keep secrets for me. Even if you could dress a little more ... feminine."

He made her want to smack him a lot.

It felt very strange sometimes, to walk through the streets of Tokyo, knowing what she knew, and yet live a normal life. Watching the news, wondering if anyone she knew had been involved in a fatal 'accident' that had befallen a certain politician with a reputation for corruption.

She never asked. And they, in exchange, never volunteered the information.

They were just two people having coffee with pie in a cafeteria. Perfectly normal.

"Ken thinks about leaving for Australia. Yuriko really liked it there, and he says he really hasn't got anything to keep him here, except bad memories. And us." Ran meant 'us, Weiss'. Sakura hadn't really got to know Ken as more than an acquaintance, another 'one of the guys'.

Talking about distant friends. Friends as normal as themselves.

"Farfarello's finally decided to go back to Ireland. He feels at home there, and he's sane enough to make a living for himself. Maybe he'll even manage to find a nice irish lass and get married. That'd be a sight I'd hate to miss: Farf getting married." Schuldich shook his head, chuckling.

Only on rare occasions would the name of the other pop up.

"He's a dangerous man. I wish you'd stop seeing him. He has no honor, no sense of what's right." Ran frowned. "He is like a poisonous snake, hypnotizing his victims."

She snorted and replied she could take care of herself.

Yet she liked to bring the subject up, every now and then, to remind them.

"Ran is ... damaged. He's in deep emotional pain, but instead of trying to heal his wounds, he tears them open time and time again. He pushes people away because of it. He needs them, and he knows it, yet he can't help himself." Schuldich sighed, for once looking downcast.

She snorted and answered that Ran wasn't the only one pushing people away.

And, on rarer occasions, they'd talk about the Oracle.

"He's even worse than Schuldich when it comes to manipulating people. He's a complete bastard." She wondered why there was a hint of admiration in Ran's voice. "He never lets down his shields and masks, always in complete control of himself."

Ran, she concluded, wasn't very good at judging people.

Or, as Schuldich liked to call him, 'dear Brad'.

"He's cold. Really cold, like ice. Except that ice can melt, and Brad can't. Won't. He's hard, ruthless, unhindered by morals or ethics. The perfect type of guy to lead a group like Schwarz. I bet he's already applied for a new team and a new assignment, now that Schwarz is history." Schuldich sounded like a man talking about a somewhat eccentric friend, with more bad than good qualities.

Schuldich, she concluded, wasn't very good at judging people either.

"They were out of apple-pie, so I brought cherry-pie instead. You don't mind, do you?" A plate with pie was placed in front of her, next to the coffee.

"No, cherry-pie's fine," she answered, for normalcy's sake, knowing he'd known she was going to say that. He nodded pleasantly, sitting down opposite her, pouring a bit of milk into his own coffee.

"I can't be normal. I don't know how to be normal anymore." Ran shook his head. He looked forlorn, almost fragile. "Sometimes I almost envy Yohji. Everything's so easy for him. He could have settled down and become part of a family dozens of times now, with the way women keep throwing themselves at his feet."

She was tempted to remark that Yohji had nothing to be jealous of for Ran, since the one person he'd loved was dead, forever lost. At least Ran's loved one was still alive, breathing and doing her best to make her brother smile again.

"So ... Miss Tomoe, have you considered my ... proposal?" He wasn't looking at her while he asked this. Were he any other man, she'd have taken that as a sign of uncertainty.

"You know, at first sight, Crawford would seem like the perfect family-guy. Responsible, tidy, disciplined, able to cook and clean ... surprisingly good with kids too, judging by the way Nagi worships him," Schuldich mused aloud. "But he's not, really. Because 'family' means sharing, caring ... loving even. And Brad's just not the kind of guy for emotional stuff like that. -I- couldn't get through to him, and my charms work on -everyone-."

She wasn't sure if she could laugh at that. She wanted to, for that last line. Although the first part of what Schuldich had said made perfect sense to her. She'd seen Crawford. He scared her, with his cold glares and colder politeness.

"I have." She took a deep breath, silently repeating all the reasons for her decision, to reassure herself that she was making the right choice. "I accept."

For a moment, she thought she saw him smiling. It had to have been her imagination.

Brad Crawford never smiled.

OWARI