Quitting Time

Money is not the problem
you have enough of that
now you must close your office
put on your coat and hat
put on your coat and hat

Another day ends.

When I kill, I am a professional. Down to the cufflinks, the perfectly tailored creme suit, glasses which rarely ever want for polishing. I never spill more blood than needed, unlike Farfarello, because I would not be able to afford the cleaning bills, and Armani looks better without flickers of someone's death, someone's agony, as a dark stain, a strained reminder.

Perhaps, I do want to forget. Perhaps I want to be able to lapse into insanity, unable to feel as I spill my own, fouled blood. But those who are strong cannot afford to lose themselves, to release their suffering.

Those who are strong are simply not _allowed_ the humanity of pain.

Now is the hour of quitting
twilight paints the town
Old industrial skyline
how does the sun go down?
How does the sun go down...

It is at night, when the rest of the world is sleeping, drifting into innocent rest, that they come. Quick and swift and ravaging, tearing through me.

I like order. If I could keep them neat, and calm, and stacked into files of memories to come, I would -- yet, though I am not a weak man, I simply cannot. They rush through me, like a drug, like a river, and I hardly have a hold on one before the next one pounds through my mind, as if it could rip my skull to shreds. I grip the edge of the chair, the bed, the desk, knuckles white, eyes closed. I am the oracle.

This is my gift.

This is my agony.

Even as you are leaning
into that glass of wine
you and beloved business
have come to the end of a line
come to the end of a line

I stumble to the bed, fall against the wall, drop to my knees on the floor - it's all the same in its hideous weakness; it doesn't matter where I collapse.

And I am weak.

They would kill me if the saw this now, those who I serve. Estet. They would beat my trained body useless, throw me, worthless, broken, into the gutter, because I am the pillar that should pull them together - I am not allowed tantrums, fits, moments of despair.

All of the gates are open
all of the charges dropped
talks are terminated
payments have been stopped
payments have been stopped

I remember when I first met the German. Three men threw him at my feet, glaring at his figure with an angered fear, still giving him a wide berth. It was obvious he had been beaten - his eye was swollen, a dark, violent bruise swelling on his cheekbone, cuts along his face, blood on his upper lip.

"Schuldig, they say your name is?" I said calmly, and I thought, just then, he might have laughed.

"Die fichen arsch," he spat out. One of the men who had brought him in kicked him - hard - in the stomach for that, then recoiled, as if the redhead's touch had burned him, pain flickering through his eyes.

"He's all yours," the man had said, before they left. They had no idea.

I surveyed him calmly, while his jade eyes burned holes into me, but I payed no attention. He looked to be about sixteen, and even in his bruised state, I could see he was beautiful.

~So, Schuldig,~ I thought, coolly, deliberately, ~They say you can hear voices.~

His eyes widened as he fell to his knees. I could feel surprise, disbelief, filter from his mind to mine, in waves, shocks of emotion.

~Who _are_ you?~ He asked.

You can move North in summer
you can be in the breeze
you don't need to notify
any secretaries

It was two years after the schools, two years after I had been sure of his loyalty, that he crashed. He disappeared for two days, and when I found him, he was lying, half dead in an alleyway all too close to headquarters, needles surrounding him, his forearm still bearing marks of what he'd done.

The all-too familiar presence that had been his mind was gone.

He begged me,later, once I had brought him home, not to send me back to Estet's training grounds. God knows why, but I didn't. I told Estet he had fallen ill, that we would need a few months vacation.

I kept by his side, through the days, through the nights, as he screamed and begged and cried out for something, anything, to take the pain away. To take the voices away. He kicked and bit and smacked, until I held him down - I had always been so much stronger than he; then his screams turned to pleas, then harsh, broken sobs as his voice broke from the strain. Until then, I had thought his addiction lay in seeking the pain of other's. I had not known how dependant he had become.

I forced him to eat when he would not and to starve when he begged for more. Each morning I woke him before dawn, made him run a mile with me in the bruised darkness. Finally, he snapped, shattered beneath my will, and I owned him.

It was in those early years that his addiction changed from dark alleyways and hidden needles, to me. It was then when I was the strongest. When I kept _him_ from drowning.

Old industrial skyline
drawing away from you
you are the one that's moving
you are the fool that flew
you are the fool that flew

Now, he holds _me_ up. He doesn't bother to knock - we are beyond such formalities - but he waits, until the boy has gone to sleep and Farfarello's madness is claimed in tortured slumber. I cannot see the sliver of light from the hallway as he pushes the door open and slips in, silent as a snake, but the sound of his worried footsteps filters into my senses and somewhere... I am relieved.

He wraps his arms around me, pulls me to the bed if I have not already fallen there, presses a glass of water to my lips, tilting the cup backwards until the cold liquid has all passed through my parched throat. His agile fingers loosen my tie, pulling my back against his chest, his lips pressed to my ear. The slightly nasal tones that pass through his lips soothe me in German, in Japanese, in what little English he knows.

That's when it's lifted. Slowly, tentatively at first, he reaches into my mind, soothing and gentle, until half the visions - half the shocking, numbing light that bursts behind them - are gone. His fingers, arms, tighten their hold on me, and I know without seeing him that his face has gone pale beneath its tan. I relax into his hold, and one of his hands finds its way to stroke my hair, the side of my neck, a shoulder, my chest - it's all the same in its tender weakness, it doesn't matter where his flesh sparks fire against my skin.

I would have thought myself the strongest, but now...

I am not so sure.

Old industrial skyline
drawing away from you
you are the one that's moving
you are the fool that flew
you are the fool that flew