A Schwarz day at the Convention

Professional Assassins - International Convention 2000. It was an event Schuldig was impatiently looking forward to all year. The only disappointment was the location: a fancy brochure promised exotic and exciting… Tokio. If you asked Schuldig (even if you didn't he would tell you anyway) Jakuzza had some naughty videos of the convention heads. Well, he could visit beautiful foreign places any time of the year and the PAIn Con 2000 only happened once, so he wasn't complaining. Much.

He wouldn't get a lot of sympathies if he did. Crawford was happy with the arrangement because this way no money or time were wasted. Nagi was glad, or at least not-entirely-annoyed, for it saved him from having to deal with (more) 'stupid foreigners', which he disliked even more than 'stupid people'. Even Farfarello seemed fine with it; he would be deprived of new hunting grounds, but home environment promised less supervision from Crawford, since here they had most of the law enforcement bribed already.

Nagi had a bad feeling about it from the start. Even before he overheard Crawford muttering something about a 'cat-burger' (that spoiled his appetite for the day; foreigners ate such disgusting stuff). Nobody forgot anything, weather was not too hot and there were no delays. Farfarello's good mood made Nagi suspicious, however, it assured them a five meter space bubble in the middle of Tokio's busy afternoon traffic, so he was willing to ignore it. It was a bit too much luck when Schuldig decided to forgo his hideous green jacket in favour of a more subdued black leather outfit (strangely, he got even more stares this way).

Nagi was intently waiting for the disaster to strike, when it, well, did. What initially appeared to be only a minor setback blew well out of it's proportions (as things tend to do when faced with Schwarz). The guy checking the entry tickets wouldn't let Schuldig in. This in itself wouldn't exactly qualify as a bad thing per-se by Nagi's definition. Actually it was very amusing to watch the telepath fume and glare, but that was the last drop of proverbial goodness that broke the ailing chicken's back. Nagi was having fun and that meant there would be hell to pay for later (and likely not by Crawford who had connections there).

The day already had turned horrible for Schuldig, at exactly the moment he heard 'no, I'm sorry, I can't let you in with that ticket'. Then it only got worse. That malicious guy decided to explain the details in full hearing range of half of the attendants:

"It's only valid for active members of PAIn. You haven't killed anyone in the last year."

Schuldig blushed and tried to object.

"Rabbits don't count. And I know it was just a plush one anyway."

Nagi looked at him with those big accusing eyes. Just great, now he was in trouble with the kid, too. Damn the nosy telepaths. Oh. Well, damn the non-attractive nosy telepaths. Damn Com committee for putting them on such a lousy manual jobs that made them bitter and vindictive. That's better.

"I also have to temporarily confiscate your PAIn membership card."

Schuldig didn't know what to do first – make himself invisible to hide from shame or strangle that idiot clerk and solve his problem more constructively.

"I don't count either. It has to be someone connected to your job. We are professionals after all, not just some insane murderers. No offence to the present company. Please remove the knife from my throat or we will be forced to take your membership away, too."

Schuldig appreciated Farfarello's eagerness in trying to deal with his obstacle (even if it was mostly a combination of his delicate sensibilities getting offended and general aptitude for murder), but on the other hand, that was also a part of his problem. If Farfarello wasn't so eager to get rid of all the targets before he even got to them, he wouldn't be stuck in this mess now. It was hard to compete and trying to prove himself in a team where one of the members killed all the targets even before they had the possibility became that, other could crush them without lifting a finger and the third one, well... he could shoot them. You might say, aha, Schuldig could do this too! But the trouble was he had just a slight problem with his eyesight that he wouldn't admit to anyone. He was intolerant to contact lenses and there was just no way he would stoop so low to wear corrective glasses. That was for the un-popular people. And Crawford.

The not-at-all-un-popular man in question (who would kill if someone mentioned men in glasses were not the best thing ever) got tired of being stared at for reasons less dignified than fear or envy, so he cut in to resolve the problem.

"But nobody complained last year!"

"You got in under the old rules, as a team. The rest of you, especially Mr. Farfarello, covered well for Mr. Schuldig's inadequacies. We noticed that such rules diminish productivity and encourage laziness..."

Schuldig by that time has shrunk to about Nagi's size; his voice became tiny, too: he whispered barely audibly 'but I helped too' and if the room wasn't full of the most ruthless assassins in the world hearts would be broken by the display. However, since it was, they just laughed (except for those who knew Schuldig and his celebrated sense of revenge).

Situation wasn't looking good for him, but if Rosenkreuz thought him anything it was that when you think things can't get any worse they most certainly will.

Behind them stood the whole Weiss team, wearing their best outfits and their most astonished expressions (except for Abbysinnian who looked just as gloomy as ever, but you could tell he was shocked by his glare that had slipped a bit and a sliver of pity that crept in).

"Wait, you mean, you didn't manage to kill anyone for a whole year?!"

Their accusation made Schuldig blush more (two shades of anger on top of one of shame), Farfarello chuckle and Crawford pull out his faithful Aspirine bottle. For Nagi it just confirmed that for Weiss it was indeed pure amazing luck and not any kind of reason or wisdom that kept them alive all this time.

Luck turned her back on Schuldig again. Before he could pick who to kill first one of the Con organizers came out to greet Weiss personally.

"Our most successful newcomers! I'm glad you could make it! We were so excited when you agreed to the signing, Mr. Kudou. The Calendar is selling wonderfully. Will you be available to pose for official photos later?"

Little boy inside of Crawford screamed. All the years of being the Associations cover-face and now they were replacing him with that blond flower-boy. Disgrace. No, he was bigger than that. He was above such superficialities. He had more important things to do, like plan for Balinese's painful death. Schuldig could get his kill this way. Wasn't that selfless of him?

Weiss got led away inside, but he had all the time to fix the matters. Now if they could just finally get in… This was making him late for his 'Backstabbing workshop'.

"Anyway, you can't get in with you permanent ticket. You can get a guest ticket, since you're with a group, but they must take responsibility for you."

Crawford didn't look to thrilled about that but after few well placed kicks and only couple of even better placed threats he started to feel very responsible and even offered to pay for Schuldig's extra ticket himself.

"Hey, why did you give me a pink pin !?"

"They are all like this. We use it for the visitors. The blue are only for the full members and red ones are for the lecturers."

Farfarello tried to console him:

"It looks very nicely with your hair."

He rather hoped Schuldig kept the pink "V" badge, since he was collecting them for a couple years now. He had a box full under his bed. Before he was sure "V" stood for "victims", though … Oh, well, what's a couple of letters.

After being so cruelly marked, Schuldig came to a conclusion that hiding would be his best option. Safest, too, since he was entering a space full of people who killed for a living (and had badges to prove it). Most of them would gladly use him to renew their membership for a year. What was supposed to be a wonderful day ended in a dark corner of a bar, drowning his sorrows in rows of drinks

"You'll get hyper-vitaminosis."

"Oh, it's you. Man of the hour. Crawford hates you, you know."

"That's new?"

"Yes, you didn't rate high enough to be hated before."

"What an honour."

It appeared like Youji wasn't enjoying his fame anymore. His clothes had small tears and make-up stains and he didn't know what he hated more – the fans or those who saw him as an obstacle between them and the fans (Crawford was the latter's unofficial president).

"Wouldn't alcohol be better?"

"They stopped selling it after the '98 Massacre. Alcohol and heavy weapons don't mix well."

"Oh. Was Farfarello drunk then?"

"No, of course not. He doesn't drink. His victims were, so they ran much slower."

"I think after day like this we can afford to cheat a bit."

Then Youji pulled out a hidden vodka bottle and poured a good measure into Schuldig's orange juice. Schuldig had absolutely no objections.

That would have been a start of a beautiful friendship, if Crawford hadn't seen it beforehand and came to drag Schuldig away.

All in all things turned out better than expected for Nagi. He quickly got away from the rest of Schwarz, who were too busy with themselves to notice him gone. Schuldig sulked away right after being offered a place in the "Introduction to Assassination" course that was led by one of his old team mate and the last time he'd seen Crawford he was following around Balinese, trying to prove he was better, deadlier and all around cooler (it diminished Nagi's hero-worship quite a bit). Farfarello joined Abbysinnian and Siberian after he heard they were also competing for his 'Most Creative use of a Blade' award, but he didn't know where the Weiss two went later. All he knew was Farfarello won the award for the forth time in a row again, after the other candidates failed to appear.

Bombay was around, too. They even talked some, or mere precisely, Tsukiyono talked and he disagreed. They decided they hated each other and even exchanged e-mails, just to be able to tell that to each other more often. Although Nagi supposed they were still on polite terms since Omi offered him umbrella when the rain began to pour and Nagi's got blown away by the wind.

In the end, Nagi decided he loved conventions after all.