Author's Note: The world needs more angst. I deliver. I think. I've been wanting to do something like this for quite a while, and the inspiration for it hit me a few days ago. Took me about an hour to write once I actually got down to it. And yes, this is a short exploration on the death of a loved one. Set after Kapitel, pretend Gluhen doesn't exist.
Disclaimer: I don't own Weiss or any of its associated things. I do, however, own a little Winnie the Pooh figurine dressed in a sheep costume that lights up. You're jealous, you know it.


a vignette

His finger traces a pattern against the cold slick of the window, a meaningless squiggle born to a short life, destined to fog over and once again conceal the cold rain falling outside. He distantly notes that Youji is no longer sweeping, the swish of the broom cleaning up the day's decay mysteriously absent, as he peers out at the flickering streetlights through the already vanishing pattern on the window.

A car speeds by, kicking filthy street water up onto the sidewalk only to run back into the gutters, and he would jump as Youji lays his hand on his shoulder, would jump but doesn't have the energy and doesn't care.

They stay like that until the pattern is long gone, Ken seated on one of the shop stools, his head resting against the cool windowpane, now-idle hands clutching the material of his jeans, Youji standing next to him with his hand on Ken's shoulder, leaning against him as if there was no place he would rather be. The sound of the rain does not whisper the answers they want to hear, does not console them as they secretly wish it would. They stay like that until the rhythm is broken.

There is a muffled click as Aya closes the door to the supply room, locking it behind him before placing the shop's key ring on the wall hook behind the counter. He is silent as he removes his apron and hangs it next to the keys. They are drifting apart, and it's as obvious as the rain. He ducks out through the back door and disappears into the night, headed for his apartment, silence, sleep.

They are drowning, unlucky survivors of a horrific accident, and while Youji and Ken cling together, Aya merely fades away, not lifting a hand to keep himself close to what remains of the shattered team. Omi was the string that bound them all together, and now they have been cut loose and unraveled, spinning off into the darkness without choice or direction.

Kritiker has gone easy on them, allowing them time to deal with their grief over the loss of their friend, their leader. But they all know that time is moving rapidly towards the end of their allotment of sympathy. Kritiker will reassign them, it is obvious and decided. To allow them to continue as three would be too risky, for there would be a gap where Omi should be, used to be. They would reject a replacement, no matter how well qualified or friendly. The only choice for them is to be individually reassigned, and it's not their choice. They will lose each other.

Ken reaches out slowly, his hand covering Youji's where it still rests on his shoulder, freezing fingers seeking more than mere warmth. Aya has cut himself off already, choosing to forget what Weiss was and move on emotionally before the call comes to move on physically. Ken cannot do that. He has lost Omi already, now Youji is all he has left.

They will not be pulled apart.

There is a moment in which Ken thinks he might begin to cry, his throat constricting painfully, hard to breathe, and his eyes watering as if he had inhaled a particularly poisonous aroma. He clenches his fists in the fabric of his pants, his vision of the rain through the window blurring even further, a sob half-caught and muffled in his throat, and then he is being pulled into a rough hug, Youji's arms coming around his shoulders to grip him tightly against his chest. Youji rests his forehead on the top of Ken's head, and Ken can feel his tears soaking through his hair, Youji's own light brown hair falling softly against Ken's cheek. It is comfort, desperately needed and warm. A week ago it would not have been given; they would have laughed about the rain, laughed about one of Youji's gentle teases, laughed about Ken accidentally spraying yet another customer with a hose, laughed about another one of Omi's entertaining stories from school.

A week ago Omi would not have been dead, lying in an unmarked grave in one of Kritiker's numerous plots, slowly decaying and taking all their laughter with him.

And as he clutches Youji's shirt with one hand and tries to hide his tears with the other, Ken thinks he would much rather join him, lay with Omi in the dark and the dirt, breathing in the scent of rot and dead leaves and everlasting winter and silence. But he is not there, and he thinks that maybe he is cursed to live forever, to watch everyone he cares for either die or leave him behind. So he clutches Youji's shirt even tighter, and whispers in his own mind, over and over to himself, that they will not be pulled apart.

They will not be pulled apart.