What happens when they crash... Schuldig/Youji
Youji's life was broken into pieces that way. Before Asuka died and after. Before Weiss, after. Before they had all been surrounded by crumbling concrete and dark blue waters...and the aftermath. If you could call it that. They'd saved the world, sure, but they didn't actually get anything from it. Not really. Aya-Ran, whatever-had his sister blink at him for the first time in years but it didn't change anything.
It just made things worse.
Because when there's nothing to keep a man involved, he eventually drifts away. And once Ran left, the pieces started to fall out of place. Omi-Mamoru. Shit, didn't anyone know their own name anymore?-left them within a year. Maybe not entirely of his own will, with pressuring family members and bank accounts the size of Guam waiting for him.
Youji got that; he really did. Money was power and comfort. The kid deserved it. That second chance to erase the scene and re-do life. Bigger and better and bolder.
Ken left because he could. Because he finally realized it wasn't the job for him, not the road he wanted to trudge along until the end of days. Or youth. Whichever end came first. Especially not when he met a pretty lady with large eyes and soft hands that knew nothing about sports, stained claws, or mistakes. Normal.
"You'll invite me to the wedding right?" Youji had asked him with that cigarette-holding grin he'd made into an art.
Ken had laughed. "So you can steal all the bride's maids away before the ceremony?" but promised he'd be his best man if, which really a 'when', he finally got hitched. Gave him a permanent invite for when he found a steady job, a white-picket fence apartment, and had two-point-five kids.
They all settled in, moved on, and left Youji feeling very old. Made him run a hand through bleach-burnt hair that was growing out after a terrible hair-cut, ran along the worry lines that had somehow appeared on his forehead seemingly overnight.
He figured he'd used up all his second chances and lit another cancer-stick.
'I am the rock,' he decided. The one that would always be there, the shoulder to lean on when things got messy and his teammates needed a place to come back to. The shop with the 'Open' sign and flickering ceiling light that never stopped buzzing.
Four years since Ken left and it still sounded lame. Vaguely horrifying, even.
The next night he cleaned up, got dressed, and went out. Not to his old dives. He was too old for that now, mentally if not physically. Flashing lights, high-bass music, crowds pressing in from all directions.
He had the image of himself being called an old pervert by some perky young thing and shuddered.
So, no. No clubs for him. Not that kind anyway. He'd search for dark and moody and dirty, with drinks in bottles instead of curved glasses.
It was depressingly easy to find one, even when you didn't actually know where to look. So many people edging into the shadows, away and away from the people they probably called glittered-up idiots. It created different pockets in the city, one for trash and one of safety pins.
You just had to find a white rabbit.
Follow the kids with chopped up hair and metal studs along their face, the men in leather and women in fishnets. Dirty jeans and knotted shoulders. They led him like pied pipers, playing a tune of curses and sharp barking laughter. He wanted to laugh with them, because when he was pulsing under multi-colored lights he had still thought 'these kids don't know anything.' It was refreshing, cool-aired, like breathing in gasp after gasp of something better than the last gust of wind.
It wasn't a hellhole, the dive he wound up in, but it was worn around the edges. Tacky green barstools that reminded Youji of something and dim forty watt lightbulbs hovering over head. And there was a baseball game on tv, of all things. He sat down in a corner seat and tried to settle in, find his niche as if this place was going to be his new home away from home.
The bartender dutifully moved over towards him. "What can I get you?"
A clink, hiss, and thud later he was nursing the first of many.
"This place always like this?" he asked, jade eyes glancing around through smoke-curled air. Only a handful of people scattered about, a small group playing pool. Just a murmur of conversation-inside voices-and the announcer's voice on TV.
The bartender, middle-aged and showing it, followed his look with a sweeping one of his own and shrugged a shoulder. "Normally. Good crowd, never much trouble. Most of them are regulars."
"Isn't that a bit..." But the ex-assassin trailed off when he realized that he was sitting there with a beer in his hands, not any different from the other men and women hunched over on themselves.
The bartender shrugged again. "They have their issues, I have bills to pay."
With that the man went back to work, pouring and listening on the other end of the bar. Youji sighed and ran a hand through his hair, grimacing when he tugged on a knot. 'This is ridiculous,' he angrily thought to himself. 'This is ridiculous and downright pathetic.'
Asuka would have said 'what the hell are you doing to yourself, Kudo?' and smacked him upside the head. Then she would have laughed, light and free, and tugged him out of the bar as if his life and her joy depended on it.
He would have gone with her and instead he was stuck.
"Bitch," he growled to himself and instantly felt guilty about it. He closed his eyes and felt his hand tighten around the beer bottle.
"Sassed by a bartender and bearing an angry grudge against beer. Very promising, Kudo."
Youji blinked, thought for a moment that he had finally snapped, once and for all. It hadn't been her voice but it sounded like her, tone and phrase, but it was along wrong. Because he knew that voice and it was impossible, simply impossible that-
The blonde turned and bit back the urge to scream.
Schuldig smirked. "Hey there, stranger. Gonna buy me a drink?"
"What the fuck?" Youji sputtered, trying to shift a foot or five backwards before he remembered he had ever so wisely picked the corner seat.
"Whiskey," Schuldig said to the bartender, who was watching with some interest. "Just leave it."
"What the fuck?" Youji tried again, hoping for a better response than that.
One red eyebrow arched briefly and the German offered him an amused look. "Ever so eloquent. It's refreshing."
"I...it..." Youji sat up straight, shoulders squaring off, and glared. "What are you planning? What do you want from me?"
Schuldig snorted-in disgust, it sounded-and grabbed his drink from the bartender, offering a cheers as he did so. "Awfully self-centered. Aren't you, Weiss? Or maybe just desperate."
Someone got a home run and a scattered round of cheers broke across the room.
"You don't know anything," Youji nearly hissed, started to chug down his beer but thought better of it. "If it's not me, then why are you here?"
"For a drink?" the telepath suggested sweetly. Then he grinned. "And I never said it wasn't you."
"Yeah, well, you're wasting you time. It's just me and my ghosts, so you can leave us alone."
Schuldig clucked his tongue. "Kitten, kitten, you have no idea what you want and you're starting to bore me-"
"-so why don't you try moving past the emotional baggage for a change? Because I don't care."
Youji gripped the stained wood of the bar a bit tighter than necessary. Feeling indigent, he started to say, "You have no idea-"
"How all your little friends dumped you and you gal pal is still dead?" Schuldig interrupted. Bent protectively over his drink, the redhead gave Youji a narrow look through his mop of red hair-longer than the blonde remembered, and duller. "I know. And, as I said, I don't care. Next."
The Japanese man suddenly felt very tired, like the past years had suddenly decided to catch up with him. All because of this annoying, mind-reading, blast from the past bastard of a man. "So what's your story then, Schuldig?"
The German grimaced. "You make my own name offend my senses. All of Germany weeps."
"Most of the world weeps whenever you're mentioned. Just answer already," Youji said, mouth tugging into a half-smirk.
The telepath threw his head back and gave a sharp bark of laughter, and for a moment Youji could see the thing, ugly scar around the other man's neck. I did that, he thought and almost apologized, but Schuldig was coughing and waving a dismissive hand.
"Relax, Kudo. It gives me an excuse to wear pretty necklaces," Schuldig drawled, as glass clinked against glass and ice crackled. "As to the story. Farf's long gone, probably dead by now, and Nagi ran off to Australia to marry some computer company. And Crawford, heh, he's still a controlling asshole."
"So, what? He decided to take off the leash tonight and accidentally left the gate open?" Youji questioned, eyebrow quirked. "Maybe he figured you'd forget the way home."
Schuldig glanced at him, sly and frigid. "Or maybe that some nice man would take me home."
Youji choked and the German laughed again. "Go to hell," he blonde snapped when he could finally breath again. "This is one guy that isn't taking you home."
"Wouldn't want Asuka to get jealous, would you?"
His knuckles split skin when they met the redhead's face, the force pushing both men over the edge. They landed on the ground, Youji's foot still tangled in his chair, fists and snarls and blood mingled spit. Someone was shouting and someone else was cheering, the latest bit of evening entertainment.
A thin hand-too thin, too scarred-tangled into the blonde's hair, pulling one direction than the other as if it couldn't make up its mind. Youji tasted acid and ash and them in his mouth, in the mouth that met his for a harsh moment before time caught up again.
"Shit," he gasped and scrambled back. The rest of the bar was staring in interest, television and pool games forgotten as the bartender yelled at them to get out. He stood, shaking, and stumbled back a couple steps. "Shit."
Schuldig stared up at him from the floor, reclining like a king instead of a bruised mess in fading leather. The telepath smiled grimly, wiping a trail of blood away from his mouth, and gave a pointed look around. The bar suddenly turned away as a whole, the two assassins invisible to them all, gone as if they had never been there at all.
"Don't you /get it/," Schuldig demanded, voice low and rough. "We're the lifers, Kudo. We're the only fuckin ones that can't move on, because they won't /let us/. We're stuck, going nowhere, because of them. They're gone, and she's in your mind every second of every day, and I buried him here in the ground so I can't fuckin /leave/."
His voice cracked in the end, and the world seemed to unravel with it even when nothing shifted outside themselves. Youji blinked, eyes burning, and swiped his hair away from his brow. "What do you....fuck. /Fuck/."
The German sat up, face sparking with something and he was alive again. Hair brighter, scars missing, anger and arrogance instead of hollowed out bone. He was standing in a flash, quicker than demons or regret. Hands curled into the front of Youji's shirt, twisting the thing material until cool air brushed his stomach.
"We should make them pay, Kudo. We should make them give it back, because they had no right-no /right/-to take us to heaven and hell then leave us on our own." Schuldig smiled, wolfish and mad. "I could make us forget, if I hit too hard and push too far. Snap snap snap, it'll all be over."
"We won't remember? Anything?" Youji asked, his own fingers digging into pointed shoulders. "It'll be over, just like that?"
No more empty apartments and dying flowers. No more wondering, over and over again, what if and maybe.
Schuldig nodded, fire strands brushing across the other's cheek as he leaned in, eyes nearly black in the shadows. He looked ready for another fight; as if that was the only thing he could do anymore.
The blonde swallowed against the tightness in his throat. "Why me? Why are you bringing me into this?"
"You're already in this."
"Why are you doing this?"
"In the same boat here, Kudo. It's sink or swim, and even if there's no honor amongst thieves there's ties between killers. Between us and I told you already, didn't I? Going deaf already?"
Schuldig rocked forward, mouth stopping a moment away. Youji should have been worried, should have been mortified, should have cared that they were in dusty bar with carved-out patrons.
But he didn't and he couldn't, not when one hand was trailing down, down, down and it was insane, all of it, but it was a wonderful insanity that made sense compared to everything else.
"Yes," the blonde hissed when bleach-white fingers wrapped around him-too long, far too long-and sharp teeth traced a line across his jaw. This was how it was supposed to end, wasn't it? This was how it would finally go down: literally, metaphorically, finally.
I'll make him pay for leaving and you'll make her pay for never going away, Schuldig purred into his ears with invisible whispers.
And he was doing it, working through web after web of thoughts, memories, and dreams. Sticky fingers tearing and rewriting, polishing up the old and tired with something brand new.
Mouth along his neck and his own hand traced a ragged cut of his own creation. Always, it came back to the Fall.
Pretty soon he wouldn't remember the color of her eyes or her favorite curses.
Pretty soon Schuldig wouldn't remember he had ever had a heart.
They stole everything and left nothing and Time took their side.
White pleasure built up, drawn tight between them, grasping moans and guttural words ripped out from between their lips. A little further and Youji would happily shatter. Schuldig was looking at him, rings of ocean blue, small pants escaping into their small corner of the world.
"You ready for the big time, Kudo?"
Would he remember how she had hit the pavement?
Would Schuldig remember his final moments?
"Cause it's our only chance. Are you going to take it before they do again?
"Do you want it to go on forever?"
Five, four, three, two-
When they crashed it all crashed with them.