Title: American English

Author: Seraphim Grace

Feedback: Always appreciated and replied to.

Series: Weiss Kreuz (post Gluhen)
Rating: Mild R

Pairings: CrawfordxAya, past YohjixAya, unrequited SchuldigxCrawford

Notes: A prequel of sorts to Paradise Lost

Summary: Schuldig never did like being ignored

It had been pathetically easy to track him down, sitting in a hostess bar with his work mates, a blonde head taller than the others with mischievous eyes and a body as thin as Schuldig's temper.

The dark haired sararimen huddled around him like he was holding court, occasionally erupting with laughter and shouts of kampai as they clinked together glasses and shared an easy camaraderie.

It had been pathetically easy.

He approached him as he stood out of the light evening drizzle trying to light a cigarette. Tall and lean, hunched over like a snake appraising its prey. Tokyo loved him, the neons seemed to find and coil about his form, and it was clear in the glint in his eye, in the set of his head as he inhaled deeply that first drag, that he loved Tokyo.

"Yohji?" Schuldig said, stepping out across the road, "Yohji Kudoh." He chose the name deliberately; he could have used the new name but he had this all in mind. He had planned it all so carefully he might has well have been able to see the future. Behind him the bar was playing "Ever fallen in love with someone," Schuldig almost laughed at the wonderful irony. "It is you, Yohji, I haven't seen you in months."

Ryo Itou looked surprised, confused and deliciously vulnerable. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

"Yohji," Schuldig said mock punching him on the arm, "I mean we weren't bosom buddies, but I thought you'd remember me, it's not been that long."

"I," he said, clearly searching through his memories for something to grasp unto to, there was flicker of recollection but nothing more, "I was in an accident, I lost my memory."

Schuldig smiled, "Well, that will explain it, all of a sudden not answering your phone, emails, and just vanishing into the mist, well come on, buddy," he looped his arm through Ryo's and led him to the street, "come on then, we'll go drinking and catch up on old times, well I can tell you about them and you can catch up."

Ryo, for the first time, looked critically at Schuldig, "I don't know you," he said, "I don't know your name."

"Christian," he said, "Christian Schmidt, but everyone calls me Schuldig."

He could see it again, that tiny flicker of recognition at the name, at Schuldig, oh Yohji Kudoh was still there, it was just going to take some wheedling to get him to come out to play. "Schuru-kun?" he tested the word and found it to his liking with no suggestion at all that it had been planted there. "Yes, Schuru-kun." Then he paused, "I can't stay drinking, I told my wife I'd be back before now."

Schuldig blinked in genuine shock at that. Wife? Yohji Kudoh had a wife?

"But," Schuldig stammered, "what about Aya?"

There it was again, that flicker, that hint that he recognised something, but all it was was a niggling reaction, a suggestion and not quite a memory, Schuldig could work with that, he'd worked with less after all. "I," he said, "I," then the wall came down, "there was an accident, I don't remember."

"Has anyone told him?" Schuldig asked pretending to sound concerned.

"Him?" Ryo asked.

"Yes, him." Schuldig said, "you loved each other so much, he must be half mad thinking you're dead, or that you left him." He left out the pertinent detail that Aya had ended their relationship over a year before. "It'll break his heart to hear you've married, especially after he coaxed you through your grief over Asuka."

That name rung bells like those of Notre Dame in his head, it was wonderful, Schuldig thought, and with it came the irony that this new woman, this wife, was called Asuka, now he would wonder if he had married her genuinely our out of a suppressed memory of this other woman. Schuldig wanted to laugh, Ryo Itou was just as fucked up as Yohji Kudoh had been and it was delicious.

"Look," Schuldig said feigning concern when really he wanted to crow in delight. "Take my details," he wrote them quickly down on a napkin, "and I'll phone around and see if I can find him, he deserves to know what happened, I'll call you tomorrow."

Schuldig knew perfectly well where Aya was, he had known since Koua fell, he would have played his trump card earlier if he had have even suspected that Yohji Kudoh was even alive.

It was pathetically easy convincing him to accompany him to New York to see Aya, the truly pleasant surprise was that his wife had seconded Schuldig's opinion that he should go and reassure this past lover that he was well and apologise for any hurt caused, that she trusted him and loved him, and she understood how awful it must have been to mourn him when he didn't need to. Schuldig nearly laughed. She even packed for him, checking he had his passport and suitcases and letting work know that he had to take time off for personal reasons. She was a nurse. Schuldig knew that as soon as he got the opportunity that he would be laughing about this for days, part of him wanted to phone Nagi to let him in on the joke, but the boy obviously knew. The entire set up stunk of Kritiker.

New York was Schuldig's kind of place. It was the kind of town that reminded you that you could be alone amongst millions of people. People did stupid things when they were alone. Sinatra was wrong- it wasn't Chicago- New York was his kind of town.

Brad Crawford sat in the coffee shop across from Fujimiya Aya, or whatever he called himself today. He was a pinnacle of strength in tailored grey slacks and midnight blue cashmere with a camel coat folded over a chair as he smiled at his lover over the rim of his café americano. Fujimiya had the audacity to look amused by the whole affair, picking at his muffin with a cup of tea beside him. In fact he was listening to Crawford telling him a joke, and Crawford's perfectly tied black brogues were running the length of Fujimiya's shin.

Schuldig grimaced against the window even as he planned his perfect revenge.

No one slighted him. No one. Not even the precious Brad Crawford.

Itou was easier to manipulate than his forebear had been. There was still that streak of wilful sensuality even if he did wrap it in cheap nylon slacks and ugly shirts. His hair was painfully short, and tousled with wax, and there was a texture of blonde stubble against his throat and chin. "Here," Schuldig said throwing him a black tee with a sparkling design on it, "they won't let you in dressed like that, and we want to surprise him, don't we?"

"I don't know." Ryo said looking at the tee, it looked short. It was exactly the kind of thing Yohji Kudoh would wear even to the glitter writing that spelt Easy as Pi on it. His trousers were tight enough.

If there was one thing Schuldig had learned in his life it was that there was a way to hurt someone who had nothing – you gave them back something broken.

Brad Crawford would learn what it meant to hurt him.

He'd take Fujimiya from him, he'd take him and show him what he could have had, and then when Fujimiya learned that Kudoh was really Itou and married, he'd stumble back to Crawford with his heart in pieces and Crawford would know that he had never loved him, that he was with him because it was comfortable and convenient and it suited him because there was nothing inside. And then Crawford would know, he'd know, for one moment, what it was to love. He'd know what it was to hurt and to be slighted and to want and to know that the object of your affection could never look at you like that.

Fujimiya loved Kudoh, and he didn't love Crawford, but Kudoh was dead and left in his place was this poor facsimile, this married sarariman, but even a simulacra was enough for what Schuldig needed.

With the music and the alcohol and the right nudge he would who he had been and Fujimiya, beautiful ice cold saccharine Fujimiya would shatter in the wake of it. Schuldig swallowed a laugh, and then when the pieces were in a million glittering shards then Schuldig would appear and laugh because he had engineered this, and Crawford would know what It was to love someone who didn't love you.