It was going to be at least a day before they could leave for Japan. Crawford pulled every string at his command and still couldn't get a flight any sooner for the four of them. Aya had just replied that it didn't matter and retreated to his room. He probably would have stayed there, too, if not for an endearingly annoying telepath who wouldn't just fucking give up on him and let him brood alone.
Crawford had to admit to himself that it rankled that Aya currently preferred Schuldig's company to his own. HE was Aya's lover, but so much had been ruined Crawford didn't know if anything would ever be the same or if it would even improve. To his consternation he had lost the ability to see the future for Aya the moment he realized how much the redhead meant to him. No one at Rosenkruz had ever warned him of the possibility and it had never been a problem before. The Oracle had never...cared for anyone before to such an extent. It was both humbling and frightening. It was definitely irritating as the object of his desire could barely stand to be in the same room with him.
He had caught Aya staring at him during meals a few times. Each time he had turned to acknowledge the man Aya had quickly turned away to continue picking at a meal he didn't want. Aya was despairingly thin from his treatment at the hands of Pollock and didn't seem inclined to fix the situation. Grief and hurt stole his appetite. Schuldig chivvied him into taking a few bites then got snarled at for trying to help. A little shame faced, Aya excused himself to return to his room. Yohji and Schuldig exchanged worried glances and held a telepathic conversation that excluded Crawford. Well, just grand. Crawford shoved back from the table in a temper and stalked up the stairs. Pausing by Aya's door he could hear the faint sounds of choked sobs. He placed his palm flat on the door and leaned his head against the jamb before heading to his own room.
Crawford stayed up reading far into the night half heartedly hoping Aya might choose to come to him. It never happened and he awoke the next morning with his glasses askew and his book on his chest. He showered, groomed and packed a travel bag then went down to breakfast. Yohji and Schuldig already sat at the table, Yohji picking at a plate of food and Schuldig dozing with a lock of flaming hair hanging in his mammoth coffee cup. Crawford felt a pang of something when Yohji carefully dried the lock of hair on a hand towel and replaced the cup with a fresh one. He pressed a kiss to the telepath's forehead and looked up at Crawford.
"He's in the garden," Yohji said somberly.
Crawford nodded and fixed two cups of tea to take outside. It was still slightly chill and he shivered in response. Aya sat on a patio chair with his knees drawn up and staring blankly. He didn't seem to notice the weather or Crawford's presence.
"We'll be leaving in a hour," Crawford said and placed the tea at Aya's side on the small table.
"I'll be ready," Aya replied, his voice devoid of emotion.
"Aya, have you given any thought to what you will want...after the funeral?"
"I can't think of that now. I just need to do my duty to my sister."
They sipped their tea in silence until Aya got up to return to the house. They all gathered in the garage for the drive to the airport. Schuldig clung to Yohji in the back seat and kept peeking at Aya from under his fall of hair. It was obvious he was still linked to Aya from the bereft expression on his face and red rimmed eyes. Once on the plane he took his sedative from Crawford without an argument and settled against Yohji like a hurting child. Crawford offered the same sedative to Aya and received a stony glare in response.
Things didn't improve after the touched down in Japan. If anything, Aya become more icy and untouchable. Takatori Mamarou met them personally and escorted them to a waiting limousine. He tried to engage both Aya and Yohji in conversation and was treated to a pair of contemptuous glares. He looked to Crawford who only returned his questioning look blandly. If the former Weiss had no desire to renew ties with their old teammate he wasn't going to interfere.
The funeral itself was small, quiet and traditional. Crawford stood at Aya's side, but there might as well have been a room's worth of distance between them. Aya remained dry eyed and stoic, his face very pale and drawn. Because of both the nature of their lives and the closely guarded secret of Aya-chan's death, there were no mourners except for a couple of former and current Krittiker agents. Aya ignored them all and dismissed their condolences. Takatori himself even finally gave up trying to talk and left with his security retinue soon after it was all over.
Crawford grasped Aya's elbow lightly and guided the passive man to the car waiting to take them to a hotel for the night. He had once again booked a two bedroom suite in a luxury hotel. Aya excused himself to one of the bedrooms and shut the door. The other three gathered in the salon area.
"Yohji," Schuldig began a little hesitantly. "With Pollock gone Esset is essentially crippled permanently. There is no one else as strong to try and bring it back to life. The fight is done. What will you do now?"
Yohji looked a bit startled at the question. "I never thought about it. I guess that I'll just continue with Schwarz."
Schuldig's face lit up and a worry he had carried for days lifted off his heart. Yohji had basically said he preferred to stay with them, with him. Unable to sit still he jumped up and fixed them both a drink from the mini bar.
"Want something, Crawford?" He asked.
The leader of Schwarz inclined his head in agreement, his brow creased thoughtfully. Schuldig handed him a squat glass and cocked his head at his leader.
"What do you think Aya will do now?"
Crawford took a deep swallow from his glass before answering. The potent liquor burned his throat and emphasized the bitterness he felt.
"Whatever he wants, I imagine. He'll probably leave us in order to forget."
"And you'll just let him go?" Schuldig asked.
"I won't force him to stay." Crawford spat angrily.
Schuldig handed his glass to Yohji and folded his arms over his chest to sneer at Crawford.
"I never thought I'd see the day Brad Crawford turned out to be a coward."
Crawford set his glass down with a thunk and whirled on Schuldig to punch the telepath dead in the mouth. He didn't even look back as Schuldig hit the floor and strode with purposeful steps to the bedroom, opening the door and slamming it behind him.
Yohji helped his lover up from the floor and frowned at the sight of the blood trickling from the split lip.
"Was that really necessary?" Yohji asked with a sigh.
Schuldig grinned impishly at him and winced as it pulled at his cut lip.
Yohji tenderly licked at the cut and brushed silky red hair back from Schuldig's face.
"Then let's hope your gamble pays off."
Aya lifted his head from where it lay on his crossed arms on the bed when Crawford slammed into the room.
"What the hell?"
"What are your intentions, Aya?"
"I...I don't know."
Not satisfied, Crawford jerked him up from the bed and pulled him into his arms. Aya struggled in protest and Crawford crushed his lips in a ruthless, dominating kiss. He ravaged and plundered without mercy until the redhead quit resisting and clung to his arms. Crawford herded Aya backwards towards the bed and pinned him to the mattress. He tore at their clothes until they were both wrestling naked on the bed. Crawford bit and sucked at Aya's pale neck, eliciting gasps of pleasure and leave tangible marks of his dominance. He kept Aya pinned while he reached a hand down for the travel bag on the floor and searched it. Slapping what he found down on the comforter, he caught Aya's jaw in his hand and searched the dazed violet eyes.
"I don't care that you don't remember being with me in any way that's good," Crawford rasped. "We'll make new memories."
Crawford stopped Aya's reply with another bruising kiss. He snatched up the tube and prepared them both efficiently then plunging forward to another cry from his lover. When he released Aya's arms he was gratified that they curved around his back to clutch tightly as they moved together in frantic rhythm. Crawford used every bit of his knowledge of Aya's body to drive the man to voice his pleasure. The tendons on his neck stood out with tension as he kept a tight reign on himself until he could bring Aya to climax. With a shout and a sob, Aya clenched around his body and arched off the bed, stunned and panting. Crawford dropped his head to Aya's forehead and followed him.
Still buried deep and shivering with aftershock, Crawford spoke directly into Aya's ear.
"You are mine. Stay with me, Aya."
After a long, uncertain moment Aya relaxed under the other man.
"I'll think about it."
Crawford let out a slow breath and eased to the bed to hold his lover against his body. It wasn't a declaration and it wasn't a promise, but maybe, just maybe, it was enough for both of them.
Schuldig squirmed under Yohji in their bed and smirked.
"Mission accomplished, babe."
Yohji laughed and returned to exploring the lithe body that reveled in his touch.