He sat silently holding the other man's hand in his, fingertips tracing over the pale flesh as if he could stir some life into the by the force of his will alone. The other's hand was lax in his own, seeming to be made of a warm wax rather than flesh and bone. As Brad Crawford gazed down at the telepath's face, he couldn't make himself believe that Schuldich was merely sleeping, that he would wake and make some hentai comment or call him by his first name or... That line of thought was cut off, too painful to continue. The paleness of the German's face, how the skin was stretched too tightly over the frail bones beneath was enough for him to have to look at and know that Schuldich was dying.
It all came back to Takatori in Crawford's mind, a thought that his own whirled and twisted about like a hive of angered wasps. Takatori and his fucking golfclub. Pressing his lips to the lifeless fingers held against his own, Brad remembered all too well the day that their former employer had nearly beaten Schuldich and Farfarello to death over the death of his daughter. The headaches had begun then, but were overlooked. There were too many things going on that demanded attention that left those as being petty, easily overlooked.
When they had crawled out of the sea, more dead than alive, Crawford had taken Schwarz away, led them to make their own futures instead of the ones that had been dictated by the crumbling SZ. He had finally told Schuldich one the sandy white beach of the Bahamas that he loved him, and the two of them had made love for the first time within those warm, clear waters. The next day, he had gotten them matching wedding bands, slipping one onto Schuldich's finger as he had been on bended knee before him. It was the first time he had ever seen Schuldich cry. It was not to be the last.
After that, they had returned to Toyko. Nagi had been put into the best school that was near them, none of them willing to break up after all that had happened. They were family, bound together by more blood that they had walked through than flowed in their veins. Blood was thicker than water, be it their own or someone else's. It had been idyllic... right up until Schuldich had gone into a seizure one night while fixing dinner with Nagi.
That was a memory that laid too clear in Brad's mind as his eyes were drawn back up to Schuldich's still face. He had heard his mate laughing about something and a muttered reply on Nagi's part as a reply. A smile had just barely quirked at his lips as he turned back to the financial report on the tele. Then had come the shattering of something glass and heavy on the floor. In his mind, that moment had taken on a nightmarish slowness as he rose from the couch, already knowing something was wrong... badly wrong. Nagi's shrieking of his name came next, not knowing what to do as he knelt beside the spasming telepath. Those green eyes that he had gazed into lazily after sex were jerking wildly in their sockets, not seeing anything around him. The body that he had held so close to his own was trembling and lashing in the shards of glass that had been the salad bowl the German had been carrying.
When Brad had seen the creeping shadow on the CAT scan taken the next day, he didn't need his precognative abilities to know what was going to be said next. He didn't need to compare them to the old ones from the days of Schwarz to know that the darkness had gotten larger. They had all known that Schuldich's telepathy carried a price, that it did do damage to his brain when used. It had been a simple thing to overlook and ignore, like children hiding under the blankets and believing the monster in their closet couldn't get them there.
A soft touch to Crawford's shoulder brought him back to the present, his free hand rising to wipe the tears that had begun to slid down his cheeks. Nagi's hand squeezed his shoulder gently, the telekinetic saying nothing for the moment. The American rose gracefully to his feet as he touched a kiss to those delicate lips of his mate that would never again whisper his name at climax, calling it out again a second later for all the world to hear. He nodded softly to Nagi as Farfarello appeared at the youth's shoulder, the Irishman's hand curling within Nagi's easily. Crawford's own fingers kept Schuldich's hand within his own as he lowered the other to the plug for the respirator that was keeping him alive. Nagi's held to the cardiac machine. Farfarello took the mass of others that seemed to be sprouting out of the wall. On some inner signal between them all, they jerked them out of the wall, severing the artifical life that had been given to Schuldich while the man himself was long dead. For months there had been no brain activity.
Crawford's voice was strained as he spoke, turning off the ones that had begun to drone their flatline beep, "I'd like to be alone... please."
Nagi and Farfarello's touches and murmured words registered with the American, although his eyes never left Schuldich's face. Inside, he had some hope that those jaden eyes would reopen, that there would be a moment where the clock would turn back and return what it had stolen. He had known back when he saw that CAT scan that there would not be. Whenever he had gazed at his lover from that time forward, he saw no future for Schuldich beyond dying in a hospital bed, being kept alive only by cold machines. Now, as he gazed into the mirror across the room above the sink, he saw that same bleak darkness for himself. What was life without the one thing that made it worth living?
Crawford was never one to not be prepared. He'd taken nearly an entire bottle of Valium before even coming. It had been a matter of staying awake for all of it. The iron will that had made and kept him as the leader of a group of assassins had served him well once more. Curling into the bed with Schuldich's body, his arms wrapped about the other's form. As he began to slide into whatever lay beyond, his memory rolled back to that day in the white sands, exploring his new lover's body for the first time.
The first snowfall of the season dotted the ground, falling across the slim shoulders of the youth sometimes known as Bombay, other times as Tsukiyono Omi. The graveyard he walked through brought a shudder from him that the cold itself couldn't. Within his arms were two bouquets of tearoses.... ones that meant 'I'll Always Remember'. Nagi had told him last night when they'd spoken on the phone, told him were to find the two lonely graves. It somehow seemed ... right that he come say good-bye.
Suprise seized him as he saw another there already. Black leather encased the man who knelt between the two headstones, working on something. The head of red hair was unmistakable. Fujimiya Ran... Aya-kun... Abyssinian. Omi was silent as he drew closer, knowing already that he had probably been heard by the other's sharp ears.
"I saw him once, you know. Just passing on the street, and there he was, leaning against a post and smoking a clove. He smiled that same smirk he always wore and even called me by name."
Omi nodded slowly at Ran's words, hearing the undertones of some hurt in them. "Nagi told me when... when they knew Schuldich was dying. He suspected that you and Ken might know they were here once more."
Ran's head bobbed in a nod as he kept working between the two graves. "I could only stare at him for a time. Here was the man who had been there laughing as Nagi pressed the detonator that killed my parents and put my sister in a coma. All I could do was stare. I finally got out the question of what was he doing here, where was Schwarz, what was going on. Do you know what he told me?"
"He told me that they were living. It was simple like that for him. Living. No more assassination, no more SZ or Kritiker. No more killing or worries. Just living."
Omi's lips formed a faint smile, hugging the flowers to him gently. "They walked away and into a normal life. We kept killing. Doesn't seem fair, does it?"
The leader of Weiß rose slowly, dusting himself off as he stepped back. Two headstones were before them, the dusting of snow settling across their tops and into the grooves of the names carved there. Bradley Jacob Crawford. Schuldich Crawford. Between them now was a rose bush, one that would sleep in the winter as those it guarded and burst with blooms come the spring. Ran's amethyst eyes were calm, nearly peaceful as he cast aside the small shovel he had been using. "They're red and white roses mixed. It means unity, love. I thought it fit them."
Laying his own gift upon the two freshly filled graves, Omi nodded and joined Ran as they walked away, leaving the winter's silence to cover the two.
Somewhere, two souls came together, never to be parted again.
Part 2 | Fanfiction