Force of Habit: Part One
Author's Note: Okay disclaimers coming up. 1) None of the boys or anything Weiss related is mine, I am simply borrowing them for my own amusement. 2) As my amusement tends towards the perverse/sick side of heath, be wary that this will contain swearing (if assassins can't use bad language, then who can?), violence (assassins, duh), and probably a good whack of yaoi courtesy of my inner 'bugger the pretty boy' hentai demon and muse. So it may just be a PG-13 at the moment, but the rating may change (and probably will with the plans I've got for the boys ;P ) Oh and as this is my first crack at this, be sure to review and let me know what you think.
"It's four thirty in the morning so there had better be a damn good explanation for this phone call."
"Your little project's finished."
"You heard. I'm finished with your little flight of fancy, now send someone over to pick him up."
"You're sure the treatment will hold?"
"Are you doubting the quality of my work? Of course it will hold. Now get the fucker out of my sight."
"And where exactly do you propose we move Void to?"
"Damned if I care. Ditch him in some deserted alleyway or something. He's not my responsibility anymore."
"And have him picked up by agents within the half hour to undo everything we've done?"
"Look, I've just told you. My job is finished, as is any duty I have towards your patient. Get him out, where you put him is your problem."
"That's not a very professional attitude, Fujimiya."
"Neither was not shooting that piece of shit when you had the chance."
"That's a nasty mouth you've got on you. Hardly a professional bedside manner now, is it?"
"Alive, Void's a threat. You should have killed him, I should have goddamned killed him."
"Do you really doubt your work that much? Just a few moments ago you sounded most confident in your efforts."
"Allowing our emotions to get the better of us? That's most unlike you."
"I want him out of my sight."
"That can't happen."
"We need to be certain that you succeeded. For that we need to keep an eye on him, and we need to keep him somewhere safe."
"I still don't see why you can't get someone else to do that."
"Because you're the one responsible for this … uh … reprogramming if you will. You, therefore, will be the first to notice should something go wrong and the most qualified to deal with any problems."
"Here's an idea to deal with any problems; he starts reverting, you put a bullet in his head."
"And undo all your hard work? Where is your professional pride? No, he stays with you. You will watch him, monitor him and ensure your handiwork doesn't start to unravel. When it's clear he's adapted psychologically to the changes you've forced into him, then we'll move him as you wanted."
"I never agreed to this. This was never mentioned. You just told me to wipe his mind and put something else in. Aftercare was not included in the price."
"Then we'll pay you more. Money is not a problem for us; you should know that. And money would undoubtedly help cover those medical bills for your sister, wouldn't they?"
"I'll pretend that was a thank you, but next time my hearing won't be so lax. Watch your mouth."
"Fine. This is how it will work. He believes he is now…?"
"Fine, so when he wakes up, you will give him no reason to doubt that information. You will re-enforce whatever rubbish you put inside his head until it's clear the personality has held. By that I mean through your behaviour and attitude towards him. You continue to act in this manner and he'll know something is up. He'll shrug off your programming and then you'll be alone with a very dangerous, very pissed off killer. Have I made myself clear?"
"I said; have I made myself clear?"
"Glad to hear it. The money we promised for the task is already in your bank account; we'll add more money when you need it. Simply lodge a request with my associate Manx; she'll have been briefed to approve any payouts. And remember, his former employers will be looking for him, so try to keep your heads down."
The warm sunlight played on his closed eyelids, comforting, yet undeniably pulling him into wakefulness. He felt himself slowly becoming more aware of his immediate surroundings, the stiffness of his body and the cool, crisp cotton sheets that he both lay on and was covered by. He shifted slightly, as much as his sluggish body allowed and heard the soft rustling noise as the sheets drifted over him. Besides that, he could hear a vague buzz of background noise. He listened intently and gradually was able to distinguish the beep of monitors, a low hum that had to be air conditioning and even fainter birdsong.
He paused, trying to recall where he was, but found everything seemed blank in his mind. He could remember his name, Kudou Yohji, but nothing else seemed familiar or recognisable. In an effort to prompt some vague notion of what was going on, Yohji opened his eyes.
Sterile white walls and ceiling, a functional yet uncomfortable looking chair in the corner, bland white blinds across the window and a vast array of flashing and beeping monitors, most of which had various wires and leads feeding into his body. Yohji groaned. A hospital and he couldn't remember what he was doing here? Definitely not a good sign.
Footsteps were approaching his room, a firm and definite tread that indicated either heavy boots or more probably a male. From the frequency of the footfalls, he was walking at quite a pace. Then the footsteps stopped outside his door. Yohji watched the steel handle expectantly, but it gave no indication of turning, his would-be visitor appeared to be doing nothing more than simply standing outside his room. He heard what could have been a sigh and a moment later the handle began to turn as the door was opened.
A young man stepped into the room and closed the door behind him without so much as a glance in Yohji's direction. Obviously not expecting a conscious patient, Yohji mused as he took the opportunity to study the back of the stranger, which was all that was visible from this angle.
A white coat covered much of the slender body, indicating a member of the medical staff, while heavy, buckled black boots seemed to lead Yohji towards the conclusion that the newcomer was a medical student or newly qualified and therefore reasonably young. A shock of vibrant blood-red hair brushed the back of the white collar in an almost caressing manner as the man turned back to face the room and noticed that the patient was sitting up in bed and watching him with open interest.
Violet eyes widened in momentary shock before narrowing into an icy glare. Any other emotion was quickly hidden on a face that was breathtakingly beautiful, high sculpted cheekbones and a slim, straight nose, with an almost porcelain complexion. A lone gold earring dangled from one ear, almost obscured by eartails. Yohji waited for some comment, a random greeting, but none came. The man simply continued to stare at him with that unfathomable expression.
Beginning to feel somewhat uncomfortable under that piercing stare, Yohji shifted nervously and tried his most charming smile on his visitor. "Hi, are you here to tell me what happened to me?" The smile seemed to have no effect on the redhead, who could have been a statue for all the response Yohji was getting. Yohji felt an ache in his cheeks, it seemed the muscles were unused to holding a smile. He frowned slightly instead, just how long had he been lying in this bed for him to be unable to hold a smile for more than a few moments?
The smile might have had no effect, but the vague frown on Yohji's features seemed to stir the lab-coated man into action. Shaking his head briefly, he closed his eyes and took a slow breath in. As he exhaled, he reopened his eyes. "So," he commented, in a surprisingly low voice. "You're awake. I wasn't expecting you to have recovered consciousness so quickly."
Yohji's frowned deepened. "Quickly? It feels like I've been out for months."
The redhead paused for a moment to regard Yohji with another enigmatic purple stare. "You were in an accident," he said finally. "There was serious head trauma. We thought you would be unconscious for several more months."
Yohji's hands flew up to his head, where they buried in strands of long soft hair and bandages. "Accident? Is that why I can't remember anything?"
A finely shaped eyebrow arched. "Nothing at all?"
Yohji shook his head miserably. "I remember my name, nothing else." The enormity of what he was saying suddenly sunk in and he felt his breath hitch in his throat. He really couldn't remember a thing, not a goddamned thing. Where he lived, what he did for a living, how old he was, what he looked like … it was all a blank. Yohji let his head fall forward into his hands, feeling the brush of hair against his fingers. "Shit, I don't even know who I am. I mean, I can remember my name, but what's in a name?" Hysteria began to well up from somewhere inside as Yohji was torn between laughing at the absurdity of the situation or crying at the sheer hopelessness of it all.
Footsteps crossed the room quickly as the stranger cautiously sat down on the edge of Yohji's bed. Surprised, Yohji looked up to find that breathtaking face only inches away from his own. The redhead suddenly became aware of his close proximity to the shell-shocked patient, for he quickly pulled away and turned his attention to the cluttered nightstand. Long, elegant fingers rummaged through the medical items and other assorted paraphernalia before closing on a small vanity mirror which he passed to Yohji. "Here, maybe this will help."
Almost unable to look away from those striking eyes, Yohji nodded dumbly as his fingers closed around the mirror, brushing against the other man's in the process. The contact caused a fluttering warmth somewhere in the region of Yohji's stomach, but the stranger hurriedly drew his hand away, as if appalled to have made the slightest contact with Yohji. Virtually leaping off the bed in his haste to get away from the confused patient sitting on the bed, the redhead backed away, fighting to keep his emotion from showing too clearly in his face. "Excuse me, I have other patients to check on," the redhead said curtly as he swiftly left the room, managing to remain graceful even in his desperation to escape.
Yohji stared after the redhead in shock, unable to figure out just what had caused such an extreme reaction in a man who had seemed so cold and remote. He had seemed ill at ease from the moment he had come in, Yohji reflected, and reluctant to look at him, but it had been the unintentional physical contact which had proved the last straw for the redhead. Yohji felt his stomach flip again, but this time in fear. The man had said Yohji had been in a serious accident with head trauma, what if he was more badly injured than he had assumed? What if the reason why his face had felt so stiff and sore when he had smiled was because he'd been disfigured? Yohji felt his fingers tighten around the mirror as he contemplated the idea. What if he was hideously ugly? That would explain the redhead's behaviour, but could he bear to look at himself? Discarding the mirror temporarily, Yohji brought his hands up to his face. Both of them seemed fine and unscarred, long, slim fingers with tanned skin, but heavily calloused. Yohji inspected them closer; maybe he played the guitar or something - that would explain those marks and grooves. Continuing to draw them closer, Yohji let his fingers ghost carefully over his face, feeling for stitches or twisted Frankenstein style scars that would indeed indicate severe facial deformity. The sensitive fingertips found no such thing, running over smooth, soft skin and what felt like a perfectly normal nose, chin and brow. Feeling slightly reassured by this tactile assessment, Yohji reached once again for the mirror and this time angled it before him so he could see himself clearly.
An attractive man in his twenties stared back at him through relieved green eyes. Messy strands of wavy honey blond hair poked through the thick bandages wrapped around his head and threatened to fall over his face had they been unhindered by the white swathes. Yohji inspected his features carefully. He wasn't ugly, thank god. Maybe he wasn't an exquisite beauty like that flustered redhead, but he was pretty damn hot. Not the sort of guy who ever had any problem picking up the ladies. Yohji let the mirror drop from his fingers and lay back in the bed, closing his eyes. Although knowing that he wasn't repulsive to look at was a weight off of his mind, Yohji couldn't help but wonder just what had sent the redhead running in such a panic.
Ran sank down onto a bench next to the coffee machine and dropped his head into his hands. How did Kritiker think he'd be able to pull this off? If Kudoh didn't think something was up by now, then all the tampering in his psyche must have brain-damaged the sadistic bastard. Fisting his hands between strands of crimson hair, Ran pulled at them in frustration. Of course his own idiotic behaviour wouldn't have helped matters at all. It had been the sight of that cold robotic killer smiling up at him so warmly that had shocked him. In all of Kritiker and Ran's encounters with Void, the man had never smiled. He was a block of ice, cold and utterly emotionless. Ran just hadn't expected the man so have seemed so damn … well, human. It had made him drop his guard, almost treat him like any other patient. He had actually sat next to Void, shown some concern over a serial killer, had revealed weakness in front of that man who now seemed to believe he was Kudoh Yohji. Then as he had passed the mirror to the distressed man, Ran had accidentally brushed his fingers against Kudoh's. That fleeting moment had sent him running from the room in panic. The thought of those hands, those hands that had been so covered in the blood of his friends and colleagues, that even indirectly were responsible for his sister's silent and unmoving form, touching his had been more than he could take. And they had been warm. How could they be warm when he had done all those unspeakable crimes? How could the man look so lost and helpless when he had been such a monster?
With a deep sigh, Ran slowly lowered his hands back to his lap as he forced himself to calm down and regain some control. Despite his apparent arrogance while on the phone to Birman, Ran had held deep doubts over the chances of success in the psychological reprogramming Kritiker had ordered him to perform. Sure, he had felt confident enough that he had successfully blocked and wiped all of Void's past as a killer and member of the deadly assassin group, Schwarz, but the new personality Ran had tried to replace the Void persona with had been sketchy at best. Ran wasn't good at emotions and understanding people. He was shy and fairly introverted, so when Kritiker had demanded an outgoing, sociable persona for the new Kudoh, Ran had been out of his depth. He had walked into that room expecting a catatonic vegetable or blank puppet, but instead had found a man that seemed confused, worried and in need of reassurance and … normal. Almost more normal than Ran. And that normal man was probably sitting in his room scared of Ran's bizarre behaviour and getting increasingly suspicious. Birman had been very clear on the phone, Ran had to reinforce the new persona over the next few months to ensure it held. That meant treating Kudoh as though he was simply the victim of a serious accident and not a plague victim or highly dangerous and crazed lunatic. Wearily, Ran rubbed his hands over his face and rose to his feet once more. He had to go back in there and try to undo the damage he had wreaked earlier.
But first there was someone else he had to see. Pausing slightly outside a door that looked no different to the others that lined the colourless corridors, Ran knocked softly before opening the door. The knocking was unnecessary of course, but it was force of habit more than anything else. Aya had always gotten so angry when Ran entered her room without knocking that even now when she probably wasn't even aware of it, he couldn't stop himself from performing the action. Ran made his way through the mass of flowers that filled Aya's room and sat down on the chair beside her bed, reaching out to take her smaller hand within his own. He squeezed it softly. "Good morning Aya," he murmured. "Though really I should say 'good afternoon'. Sorry I'm late today, but I had another patient to visit. Remember the people I work for, the ones who are helping me pay for you to get better? Well they want me to look after someone else, someone who doesn't know who he is. I have to help him find that out, but don't worry, I'll still come and see you." Ran squeezed Aya's hand again before leaning over to brush a few dark strands off her face with his other hand. "I always manage to come and see you, don't I?"
Falling briefly silent, Ran glanced around the room, at the colourful array of exotic flowers and vivid blooms. Kudoh's room had been depressingly stark, he reflected. Perhaps flowers might be an idea; after all, that was what normal people received when they were in hospital. It was only assassins who had to wake up in cold and sterile rooms. Ran turned back to his sister's comatose form and smiled softly at her. "I've got to go now, Aya, but I'll be back soon. Promise."
Yohji opened his eyes blearily to a blur of red and white that quickly resolved itself into the form of the man from earlier. He was standing by Yohji's bedside table and arranging a large display of colourful flowers. Yohji watched the flowers be manipulated expertly into a stylish display before turned his attention to the man's face, which bore an expression of intense concentration. "So, do you bring flowers to all the patients, or am I just special?"
The man started badly in surprise, and nearly knocked the vase of blooms over, catching it with superb reflexes. He spun to face Yohji and stared at the man with a similar expression of shock to earlier. Yohji rolled his eyes and waved a hand lazily at the redhead. "Geez, sorry. All I seem to be doing today is scaring the shit out of you."
The man appeared to collect himself. "That does seem to be the case." He glanced over at the flowers and then back at the blond that was watching him curiously. "Your room looked more than a little bare, so I thought some flowers might add colour and give you something other than the wall to look at."
Yohji grinned. "Aw, I'm touched, but you didn't have to." A wicked idea occurred to him and he felt his smile become more of a smirk. "Say, you're not someone I knew from before the accident, are you? And are trying to suck up to me while I still can't remember that you stole my girlfriend or something?"
Another strange look was his response as the redhead cleared his throat and sat down by the bed. "I simply work here. You had no I.D on you when you were brought in, so we have no way of letting your friends and family know that you're here. So you probably won't be getting overwhelmed with flowers and chocolates anytime soon."
Yohji sighed. "Thanks for the warning." He glanced over at the flowers then at the man who still seemed slightly uneasy. "You still haven't told me your name, you know."
The man studied his features with veiled purple eyes. "It's Fujimiya."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Kudoh Yohji, but just call me Yohji. It'll be easier for me to remember." Fujimiya made no response to the joke and Yohji rolled his eyes again. "Is everyone here as uptight as you?"
Yohji grinned and leaned closer to the redhead, noting that his purple eyes flared slightly at the movement before narrowing again. "Say, if that's the case, do you think you could direct some of the cute nurses in here? I could kill for a sponge bath."
Fujimiya seemed to pause for a moment, before looking away from the green-eyed man. "Shameless flirt."
Yohji nodded, his grin widening despite the ache in his cheeks. "It would appear so." He dropped the smile; it seemed too much effort to hold it at the moment and collapsed back in the bed. "Hey, can I ask you something important?"
"Of course, Kudoh-san."
"I already told you, it's Yohji. Anyway, if I can't remember anything and no one claims to know me, how do you know I have any money?" The blond turned to catch the redhead's eyes, his own green gaze full of worry. "I mean, I don't know if I have insurance, or even a job. How am I meant to pay for this?"
Fujimiya considered the question. "Your memory may return, and even if it doesn't, you can get a job once you leave."
"How? I have no details, no references. How am I supposed to fill out an application form? And where am I supposed to go anyway? I don't know where I live."
"Kudoh-san would appear to have a point, wouldn't you agree Fujimiya-san?"
Both Fujimiya and Yohji jumped at the sudden voice and turned to face the doorway. An attractive redheaded woman stood there, smiling at the pair. "Good day to you, Kudoh-san," she said smoothly. "My name is Manx-san and I am one of the chief consultants for your case."
Yohji nodded at the woman politely, but mostly still in shook at her silent entrance. The man beside him seemed much more used to her appearance, lending weight to the theory that she had a tendency to creep up on most people. "It's nice to meet you. Are you here to kick me out as I have no money?"
The woman laughed. "Goodness no, that would be medically unethical. We would never throw out someone who needs our help. However," she continued, her face suddenly becoming almost as serious as the other crimson haired occupant of the room. "Your main, and in fact only medical problem right now is your ongoing memory loss. We have no way of knowing how long it will last, but of course will want to continue to monitor you to make sure it is not a symptom of anything more serious. Usually we have someway of identifying the patient and contacting some next of kin who can provide details to help, but in your case we have idea of where to start looking."
Yohji groaned. "I know it. I'll have to stay here until I'm in too much debt to ever pay off."
"Maybe not," Manx objected. "Fujimiya, weren't you looking for a flatmate?"
The redhead beside Yohji turned even paler than he had been to begin with. His eyes narrowed as he turned to glare at the unconcerned woman. "We need someone to help pay the rent. We can't afford the place with just three sets of income."
"So give Kudoh-san a job in the florists as well," the woman reasoned. "It's the perfect solution. You'll be able to meet the rent, have an extra pair of hands in the shop and Kudoh-san will be under your experienced medical eye should anything go wrong." She caught Yohji's bemused look and smiled at him. "Fujimiya-san obviously hasn't told you much about himself. He and his two flatmates live above a florists shop where they also work part-time."
"But Kudoh-san doesn't know anything about working in a florists," Fujimiya objected.
"Neither did you, before you started," Manx answered smoothly. "I'm sure he'll pick it up quickly."
Fujimiya opened his mouth to reply then snapped it closed as he looked over to Yohji's hopeful green eyes. "I'll have to talk it over with Ken and Omi," he muttered.
"No need," Manx said cheerily. "I already phoned them. They both love the idea and are looking forward to meeting Kudoh-san tomorrow to help him get his belongings sorted." She spun on her heel and left in a busy cloud of efficiency, leaving two pairs of open mouths in her wake.
Fujimiya broke the silence first with a sigh as he rose to his feet. Yohji frowned in worry and hurriedly reached out a hand to grab the redhead's wrist. The other man froze at the contact, his entire body stiffening. "Hey, look, man," Yohji began softly. "If you're not happy about the idea then I'll think of something else, ok? I'm sure I'll remember something soon."
The redhead visibly forced himself to relax as he looking down at the blond. "No, she's right. This does make the most sense. You need someone to keep an eye on you." He gently shook his hand free from Yohji's grip and turned to leave. "I have to go now."
"Don't look so worried all the time," Yohji called after him, in an effort to get the redhead to relax a little. "I'm not a murderer or something. At least," he added with a cheerful wink. "I don't think I am."
The redhead stared at him blankly before leaving the room. Yohji sighed and looked at the flowers he had left on the nightstand. That guy just had no sense of humour at all, the blond concluded.
So what do you think? Leave me some feedback please and let me know if it's any good!