Disclaimer: Weiss isn't mine. Shocker, I know.
A/N: Yay! I updated before I reached two months without an update! Yes, I realize this isn't necessarily something to be proud of but I savor my victories where I can.
Ok, so I had the WORST time trying to come up with an ending for this sucker. No, wait. Correction: I had no trouble coming up with an ending. The problem was that I came up with three and then wrestled with which one to post. Then I came up with this hair-brained scheme to post all three and let you chose which one you wanted to read depending on your mood. BUT THEN….this ending came to me while I was lying awake last night watching Cartoon Network (Big O!). So here it is. I really like it and have already started an epilogue.
Thank you all for reading my little story. I hope you like it and aren't too mad for having to wait so long.
Omi grimaced as he entered the dimly lit club and searched for his friend. The agent he had assigned to Yohji reported that he entered a jazz club twenty minutes ago so Omi had decided now was a good time to confront the blonde.
He wandered up to the bar and began scanning the sparse crowd and quickly found Yohji sitting at a table, slouching in a chair and staring at the stage, drink in hand. Omi ordered a drink and made his way to the table, sitting down without waiting for an invitation. Yohji merely raised an eyebrow at his newly arrived drinking companion.
"So you really would stoop to having me followed."
Omi wasn't sure of his friend's true feelings on the matter. He saw the wicked grin and heard the amused realization in the voice, but the eyes, those sparkling green eyes that revealed what the blonde was truly feeling, were closed. They looked dull and hazy.
"I wouldn't have showed up here except….."
"You were worried. It's ok."
"No, it's not ok!"
In an uncharacteristic move, the youngest Takatori yelled and slammed his fist on the small table, drawing attention from the subdued crowd and almost spilling his drink. Omi hung his head and took a slow steadying breath, then reached out and drained his glass. He closed his eyes against the burning sensation and missed the raised eyebrow of his companion as he gestured to the bartender for another drink for Omi. And when he reopened his eyes he kept his attention on the musicians and spoke quietly, his control in place once again.
"You….you were at a funeral today. Schuldig's funeral."
"Yes I was."
"I'd like a little bit more of an explanation than that."
The hard, icy tone of his younger friend surprised him. He wasn't used to Omi using his Persia persona on him. They were friends after all. Yohji took another sip of his drink and green eyes studied his companion's tense body. His jaw was clenched, his fingers wrapped tightly around his refreshed drink, his eyes narrowed as he supposedly watched the band.
"Fair enough." One more shot of liquid courage and Yohji was ready. "Sai was really Schuldig in disguise."
Omi whirled turning wide blue eyes on his friend.
"He confessed everything and I….flipped."
Yohji just shook his head gently back and forth. He couldn't say the words, "I didn't kill him" because he honestly felt that he was partly responsible for the redhead's death. So he opted to simply give Omi the truth he was looking for. If I had just calmed down and listened to what he was saying. Or just realized sooner…..
Omi wasn't sure if Yohji would tell him the details of the whole sordid matter, but he had to ask. He saw Yohji take a deep breath, but as he exhaled, his whole body just seemed to completely deflate. It was as if the shell of Yohji was sitting next to him. The lanky blonde was slouched in his chair, his head resting back against a pillar and his gaze was off to the side, seeing nothing. Yohji looked empty.
"Esset. Esset got to him before I could." Yohji swallowed hard, remembering the sight of the green eyes as they slowly closed. He looked happy.
Omi hung his head, unable to face the grieving image of his longtime friend. He wasn't sure he could fix this one. He knew how deeply in love Yohji had been with Sai, or rather….Schuldig. He was willing to give up his job and travel the world with him.
"I'm….I'm so sorry, Yohji."
Neither man moved or spoke for several minutes as they both dwelled on the men they had loved and their own inability to protect them. Omi tossed the rest of his drink down his throat and stood up, still not looking at Yohji.
"You know where to find me. I'll always make time for you, you know that."
As Omi started to walk away, he heard Yohji's voice cut through the hazy air.
"I'm going to take off for awhile. Do some traveling."
Omi looked back and met tired green eyes. He smiled, just barely, and nodded.
"Sounds nice. Enjoy yourself and drop me a postcard sometime."
"The subject is dead. Killed by multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. I've included a copy of the death certificate."
"We are most displeased, Crawford."
"I apologize. However, I have a lead on a new telepath. Very promising young lady from England."
"Bring her in immediately."
"As you wish."
Crawford left the office of his superiors and it wasn't until he closed the door firmly behind him that he let his displeasure show. His brows furrowed and his fists clenched at his sides. He had witnessed a funeral yesterday which he had not foreseen. How did I not see his death? Perhaps the new telepathic blockers affect my powers as well? I'll have to get Research on this right away.
He watched from a distance as a lone figure attended the simple burial. At first his mind couldn't make sense of why a former member of Weiss would be overseeing Schuldig's funeral. But as he contemplated the bizarre situation, he thought back on how they managed to track Schuldig down. He stayed in one place for too long. Why would he do that unless….
Crawford's blood boiled even now at the thought of Schuldig and the blonde assassin together. He'd waited so long, used company resources and broke so many rules, just to bring Schuldig back. But now there's no bringing him back. He's finally escaped me.
Yohji smiled at the beautiful woman behind the counter as she handed him his room key.
"Enjoy your stay, Mr. Kudoh."
A very tired Yohji began to follow the bellhop to his room, grateful he only had to worry about carrying his own body and not his three bags as well. The bellhop opened the door for him and Yohji walked in, surveying the room. It was done in beige and a pale green, with landscape photographs on the walls. There was a queen sized bed, a chest of drawers, an armoire and a small desk with a chair. The furniture was made of light-colored wood that looked like it could be bamboo and there was deep carpeting.
He half listened to the young man explaining the various amenities and services offered as he made his way over to the French doors that led to the patio and looked out at the view. Eventually he realized the room had gone quiet and he turned, smiling and handing over a very generous tip, just happy to finally be alone.
It had taken him almost two months to get his affairs in order, dealing with closing his business, storing his belongings and deciding what to take with him. He had worked with a travel agent to create an itinerary that would take him to Hawaii, Australia, Thailand and he was going to end it with a cruise of the Mediterranean. Once he had a tour schedule he sat down with Omi and made arrangements for him to handle his mail which shouldn't consist of anything other than credit card bills which the head of Kritiker offered to pay as an interest-free loan to Yohji.
Yohji had immediately become suspicious.
"Why are you so quick to volunteer to pay my bills?"
Omi just shrugged and offered his most innocent of smiles. The pair had been enjoying carryout and drinks in Omi's office for hours because as Yohji so often liked to point out, Omi always got the best service and his sofa was more comfortable than Yohji's own bed.
"You're my dear friend, Yohji, and since I'm in a position to do this for you, let me, ok? It will be one less thing for you to worry about while you're traveling."
Yohji raised a suspicious eyebrow at his younger friend's innocent act, for he knew that's exactly what it was. Sharp green eyes studied the man sitting across from him in the deep leather chair and suddenly it hit him.
"You little sneak."
"Very good, chibi. Very good. But you forget who you are dealing with."
Yohji chuckled and sat forward to take a drink.
"Yohji, I don't----"
"I'm going to accept your offer, humbly and gratefully but don't think you've fooled me. You're doing this more to keep an eye on me. By managing my bills you'll see exactly where I am and what I'm doing."
Omi couldn't stop the flush to his cheeks and he opened and closed his mouth twice before hanging his head and chuckling.
"Is it so bad to want to protect you?"
"Not at all." Yohji stood up and leaned over, kissing the top of Omi's head then ruffling his hair for old time's sake. "Thank you, Omi. I don't know what I would ever do without you."
And with that, Yohji walked out of Omi's office, never looking back. He couldn't. He'd always had a weak spot for the youngest of their group and had been aware of his crush for quite some time. He wondered why Omi never acted on his feelings and had convinced himself to ask before leaving. But sitting there in Omi's office, seeing him try to put up a happy front for Yohji, he didn't have the heart. If I had looked back and saw those big blue eyes gazing at me……
Back in his hotel room where he still stood looking out at the beach from the doorway to his patio, Yohji chuckled.
"I'm such a sucker for a pair of pretty eyes."
Yohji walked directly onto the beach from his patio and started to slowly wander down the scarcely populated private beach. The sound of the crashing waves and the warm breeze that seemed to caress every inch of his body acted as a balm for his weary soul. As the sun slowly set he gazed out over the glistening water and let the wind take his melancholy words.
"You would have loved it here."
Yohji had been in Hawaii for a week and was starting to think his idea to continue on with he and Schuldig's plan to travel was a bad idea. He knew Omi hadn't agreed with his decision to continue with the trip without Schuldig but in his heart he knew it was the right decision. After everything was said and done, Yohji had loved Schuldig with all his heart and he wanted to honor that love.
I don't know if I'll ever find someone like you again and I don't know if I want to. I doubt I could handle having that kind of love taken away from me again.
Yohji smiled at a group of young girls as they passed by, tilting his head down just enough so they could see his eyes. The sound of girlish laughter could be heard and a bittersweet pang ripped through Yohji's heart as he recalled fond memories of working in a flower shop where girls like that were a daily pleasure.
So many years ago…..
He was scheduled to be in Hawaii for another six days and so he planned to take a step back from the touristy attractions and just head into town to wander. He was always able to find some friendly people to do things with like snorkeling or helicopter rides over volcanoes, but his heart would still ache as he thought about Schuldig and how he wished he could share the adventure with him.
As he continued down the quiet street he looked around for a place to eat. It was that time of day when the sun was going down and the streetlamps were just starting to glow. He read the many signs along the street advertising every manner of cuisine possible and as he made his way towards a green neon sign promising authentic Japanese food, the sound of music caught his ear. He stopped a few feet from the restaurant's entrance and listened closely as the street noise of people and cars was making it difficult to determine if he imagined the noise or not. Eventually he did catch the sound of a saxophone drifting on the warm breeze and he followed it around the corner to discover a small jazz club called The Cat's Eye.
He stood outside a few minutes and just stared at the sign which had the wickedest looking black cat Yohji had ever seen gesturing with one paw as if beckoning its prey into its den.
"Why do I suddenly feel like the canary about to be swallowed by the cat?"
"I came here to ask for a date….We can go to that little jazz club that you like."
Yohji felt the lump forming in his throat as echoes filled his head and broke his heart all over again.
"Let's have that date, Schuldig."
The interior of the jazz club looked a lot more welcoming than its mascot with soft lighting, mostly in the form of candles and worn but cushiony chairs strewn about with tables interspersed. The dark cherry bar, which spanned the entire length of the club, looked newer than anything in the room with its polished shine. But again the stools looked aged with their dull shine and worn padding.
Yohji made his way to the bar and an old native woman with long white hair tied back and a body almost too round to fit behind the bar made her way over to him and offered a welcoming smile.
She nodded and Yohji turned back to look out into the small club again. The walls were mostly bare and he could see wallpaper peeling in a few spots. The stage, which was the most illuminated part of the club, currently had a saxophone player and a piano player. There were five people in the audience with another four at the bar. The sound of a drink being placed in front of him grabbed his attention and he turned around, raising his glass to the bartender in thanks before drinking.
Letting the amber liquid burn down his throat Yohji hung his head, his fingers tracing the rim of his glass as he stared at it, transfixed. He lost himself in his memories, good and bad, of Schuldig as a mournful tune filled the air, making it thicker than it already was from the smoke and humidity. On the verge of blinking back tears, Yohji lifted his head and threw the rest of his drink down his throat.
"It hurts too much."
"Then maybe you shouldn't do that."
Yohji didn't see anyone in front of him or to either side so he slowly spun around to come face to face with a brilliant smile. The man looked younger than him and was the epitome of a surfer: tan skin, sun-kissed blonde hair that fell to his shoulders in waves and eyes as blue as the ocean. He was wearing a pair of sandals, gauzy-looking pants and a t-shirt that fit his well-muscled body perfectly and advertised the club with the picture of the cat on the front.
"I'll try to keep that in mind. Thanks."
The smile was downgraded to a smirk but Yohji didn't mind because he actually preferred the playful smirk.
"Mind if I join you?"
"At your own risk. I'm afraid I'm not very good company right now."
The young man sat down next to Yohji and a bottle of beer instantly appeared.
"I think I'll risk it."
Yohji swung back around and just as he was about to flag the bartender down for another drink, he realized he already had a fresh drink in front of him. Wow. She's good.
"You're a tourist, right?"
Yohji took a sip of his drink and just stared forward. He wasn't trying to be coy when he said he wasn't good company. He had come into the club to get a sense of closure by going on his "date" with Schuldig. He needed to start purging himself of his heartache before he drowned in it.
"You look lost."
Yohji scoffed and turned to face the young man. Gone was the playful smirk, replaced with a pouting mouth and concerned eyes. He opened his mouth to give a sarcastic reply, but then closed it, deciding he really didn't want to say anything. Yohji sighed and turned back to stare down at his drink.
He felt bad for making the smile of the young man next to him fade but it couldn't be helped. Maybe…..maybe it's me who can't be helped this time. I shouldn't have left Japan. I should have stayed and let Omi take care of me for awhile. I shouldn't be alone right now.
You're not alone, katzchen.
Yohji's eyes went wide enough that they hurt and he stared ahead unseeing. Did I just hear…? Have I finally lost my mind to grief?
He was unaware of the young surfer next to him looking increasingly worried or the hand that was now upon his shoulder and gently shaking him. But then slowly he started hearing a voice.
"Hey, are you ok? Can I get you something? Hey, blink or something will ya?"
Yohji turned his face up to the worried blonde and blinked a few times to moisten his burning eyes.
"I…..I'm sorry. I just…."
"You scared me is what you did."
He watched the surfer lean in and study him, undoubtedly making sure he was really alright. And all Yohji could do was stare back at him. The blonde hair looked soft, not damaged from weather as he would expect. I wonder if he'll freak out if I….?
Without realizing what he was doing Yohji reached out and ran his fingers through the blonde hair and marveled at the silky softness. A soft chuckle broke his trance and he focused on the face before him and saw deep green eyes smiling at him. Oh gods, his eyes…..I never thought I'd see a pair of eyes like that again. So open and honest in their desire as they pull you in….
Suddenly Yohji sat up with a jolt and looked at the amused young man in fear.
As the young man leaned in further, Yohji's body tensed to the point of being painful.
The smile widened and Yohji shivered.
"Do you not like green eyes? You have green eyes."
"They were blue when you sat down!"
Yohji was on his feet and he backed up a few paces, looking for the exit. But as his eyes scanned for the entrance he noticed something very peculiar. Nobody in the club seemed to be taking notice of him. He looked at the bar patrons and no one flinched. The audience was raptly listening to the music. It's as if I don't exist.
"Technically you're correct."
The sound of the calm voice snagged his attention and he looked at the figure still sitting at the bar, elbow resting on the bar, head tilted slightly as it rested in his palm.
"I'm whoever you want me to be."
The quiet voice seemed to penetrate his very soul and all the tension seeped from his body leaving him feeling lighter than he had in months and a sense of calm, contentment filled him.
You're not alone, katzchen.
In hesitant steps Yohji approached the bar again and sat down. Are you guiding me, Schu? Are you trying to tell me something? Yohji just stared in wonder at the blonde next to him who regarded him with mild amusement.
"What's your name?"
The surfer got a dreamy smile on his face and seemed to go somewhere else for a moment before focusing his green eyes back on Yohji.
"So what brings you here, Yohji?"
Yohji's stomach fluttered and he couldn't stop his lips from curving at the corners. Is this sense of déjà vu a sign? Should I do it? He felt a bundle of nervous excitement building within him as he answered the blonde's question.
"You." Yohji heart raced to see rosy cheeks as the young man chuckled softly. I must be truly crazy for thinking this. But I have to try, I have to know. Is it possible? Ok, here goes everything. "I thought you might be hungry."
Green eyes flashed as the young man stood up and stepped into Yohji, bringing them so close the tips of their noses touched.
"I'm positively starving."
You're not alone, katzchen.