Published: 14th August 2003
Summary: Nagi loses something important. Sap. (What was I on??)
Timeline: Schwarz is still working for Taketori and had encountered Weiss.
Warnings: None really, coz I don’t warn against language. Any shonen-ai hints are purely coincidental. Some stuff, like Farf’s “hurting God” wisecracks, are fanon so I apologize to the purists in advance.
Disclaimer: Don’t own Weiß Kreuz … *mutters very softly and reluctantly* and Schwarz as well…
Archive? Please ask first
Nagi awoke, squinting against a pounding headache. For a moment, he was disoriented, and then he realized that he was in his room back in the Schwarz penthouse.
“Ah, sleeping bishounen finally wakes up.”
Nagi turned his head at the gravelly tone, pinched scowl on his face as he croaked grumpily. “Dammit Schu, don’t call me that! And don’t put your feet on my stuff!”
The redheaded German swung his legs gracefully off the study desk, neatly avoiding a stack of textbooks and mangas, and stood up. “Ach, is that any way to greet someone who’s been worried and sitting up all night for you?”
Nagi snorted, and then winced as a lance of pain struck his brain. Schuldig was about to make another sarcastic remark, but closed his mouth again, a hint of empathy in his eyes. The telepath had suffered enough headaches to be sympathetic; it was a common problem for those with extra mental abilities. Instead, he picked up a glass of water and a bottle of pills from the table, and walked over. “Sit up and take this.”
The teenager did so; glad that Schuldig decided to lay off his constant teasing. He knew the loud-mouthed German wasn’t intentionally malicious, at least not to his colleague within Schwarz, but he didn’t feel up to Schuldig’s teasing this morning. Gratefully, he accepted the water and Schuldig’s own brand of extra-strong aspirin – or at least he hope it was aspirin – before swallowing three quickly and washing them down.
Schuldig settled himself at the foot of the narrow indigo-sheeted bed, one leg tucked in casually as he drawled lazily. “So, what do you remember from last night’s mission kid? Debrief.”
Nagi closed his eyes and leaned back against the headboard, willing the pills to kick in as he answered slowly. “The target was leaving the casino with three bodyguards. The bodyguards were very professional, something that was missing from our mission specs. I threw one back against a wall and snapped his neck, I don’t remember seeing you or Farfarello but I remember seeing Brad shoot the target… Then, I felt a pain at the back of my head…?”
Schuldig rolled his eyes. “Yeah, the guy I shot managed to squeeze out a bullet before he croaked. Luckily, the bullet only grazed the back of your head. Farfarello picked you up, and then we came home and patched you up. Fairly simple mission, though you required a couple of stitches. No concussion, fortunately.”
Nagi fingered the back of his head lightly as he listened to the older man rant on. A couple of stitches? He suspected that it was a lot more than that. His head was neatly wrapped, a tight elastic bandage going from the base of his skull and over his forehead. He had also been stripped of his dark working clothes and was now dressed in a worn T-shirt and loose boxers; probably Schuldig had done it for him.
They’ve been injured often enough that they’ve gotten pretty adept at fixing each other up; it was much easier than going through the tedious paperwork in the public hospitals. Farfarello had been pretty badly sliced up once – sometimes his lack of pain created more trouble than it was useful – and they had to rush him to emergency. Schuldig had to fuzz out the surgeons’ and nurses’ memories after the Irish was discharged a week later, and Nagi had spent an entire afternoon making sure he had falsified all the records.
“Dammit Nagi, you know you’re not as fast as the rest of us. I thought Brad told you to stay back. The three of us can handle the target easily. Your job was done; you didn’t have to leap into the fray…”
“I didn’t realize there was still one guard,” The brunette grumbled sulkily; the young genius didn’t like to be reminded that he had made a mistake. His head was still hurting, but the painkiller had finally kicked in and it was now just a dull throb. He swung his legs off the bed, intending to go to his bathroom and escape the redhead’s scolding, but the sudden movement caused a wave of dizziness and he stumbled forward.
As his dove-gray carpet rushed up to meet him, he concentrated, reaching out with his powers to stop his fall…
But nothing happened.
At least nothing he wanted, happened. Instead, a pair of strong arms caught him and pulled him upright; the German’s abnormal speed and fast reflexes saving him from further injury. “Shit Nagi! What the fuck do you think you’re doing? I’ve already wrapped your thick skull, I’m not going to set a broken nose too…”
Schuldig trailed off when he realized something was off. The telepath wasn’t actively probing, but he could practically feel the waves of distress radiating from the slim boy in his arms. Nagi sat back down on his bed heavily, his hands held out in front of him.
“My powers!” Nagi waved his hands frantically as he tried to levitate a book on his desk, the alarm clock beside his bed, anything! But where there was once a silvery well that hummed with energy in his mind, something he had never really thought much about, just somewhere he reached for when he needed to use his powers…there was only a dull, blank wall.
“I can’t… They’re gone!” His voice rose in a panicked babble with the horrified realization. “Schu, I can’t ..I can’t feel it in my mind, it’s always been there but now it’s not!”
“Saa… Don’t get so worked up,” Schuldig was at a loss as he tried to calm the hysterical teenager, one hand patting ineffectually at the younger’s shoulder. Comforting anyone was not Schuldig’s forte. Drawn by the screams, Crawford burst into the room, Farfarello a calm step behind.
Suddenly confronted with the stern visage of the Swartz leader, the youngest member of the assassin team realized just devastating the loss of his powers could be and blanched. If Crawford found out that he couldn’t use his telekinetic powers anymore, what use was he then to the team? He couldn’t tell Crawford… No, no… he couldn’t have lost his gift!
And denial’s a river in Egypt! Nagi thought hysterically. He *knew* he couldn’t access his powers; normally things around him would be rattling in his current emotional state. He could sense something missing, a vital part of him, and the absence of it was causing a dull, dead ache.
Yet, he couldn’t keep quiet either; he’ll endanger their missions and Crawford would be furious when he found out. Maybe it’ll come back…
Nagi chocked back a strangled sob; Crawford would find out long before the next mission anyway and it was his responsibility as a team member to inform their leader of anything that might hinder their performance. He used his powers openly and casually in his everyday life to help him in little hundred and one ways; it was something so natural and something he had taken for granted, like the way he tried to catch himself from falling…
Crawford glared down at the white-faced teenager and crossed his arms. “Well?” He was certain something was terribly wrong. Nagi was normally calm and serious, not easily prone to emotional outbursts.
“I.. There’s… w..well… ” The youngest assassin’s eyes flickered between the stern American’s and the floor as he stuttered. Suddenly, he felt a burst of reassurance from the red-haired telepath and glanced up at concerned green eyes in astonishment.
::Schu?:: Nagi was floored. The caustic German was never this solicitous of his feelings.
::Just tell him. He needs to know.::
::But he’ll get mad and kick me out of Schwarz because I’m useless now and…:: He started to panic again as he recalled unhappy memories of being out in the streets before Crawford picked him up. He wasn’t as helpless now, but where could a 15-year old kid go?
::You’re not useless!::
Taken aback by the uncharacteristic fierceness and burst of concern through the telepathic link, Nagi fell silent and looked back up at a visibly puzzled and very annoyed Crawford. The precognitive American knew they were somehow conversing mentally and *hated* to be kept in the dark.
::Now go on, kid.::
Steeling himself for anger and rejection, the young telekinetic explained in a steady voice the loss of his powers as he would any mission report. Only an undercurrent of pain and loss in his normally dead-sounding soft tone revealed to the older psychics just how affected the youngest assassin was.
“Are you sure about this? Or perhaps you’ve a concussion and you can’t focus your powers?” Crawford asked finally, lips pursed tightly. “You said you’ve a bad headache right now.”
“No concussion,” Schuldig confirmed quietly. “I checked.”
Nagi shook his head unhappily. “I’ve had headaches before and I can access my powers just fine. There’s this …*well* that’s missing, I can’t really explain it… this place where I go to tap when I need my powers. It’s like a part of my mind is walled up…”
A heavy silence fell over the boy’s bedroom. Crawford remained impassive, arms crossed and eyes half-closed as he considered the situation. Schuldig was thinking hard too, worrying his lip and tugging at an errant carrot lock. Farfarello was just …Farfarello. The albino Irish had not said a word as he stood in the doorway, unconcernedly playing with his needle.
Nagi looked down at his carpet again, dread growing as he waited for the team leader’s judgment. Schwarz had no place for a useless assassin; without his powers, he was just a frail 15-year old boy. He had killed before, but not with firearms. He wasn’t as good as the others in combat and he would just be a hindrance to them. Sure, he did have his computer hacking skills and he was one of the best, but Esset could probably send another psychic hacker. What made Schwarz an elite assassin team were their special abilities. Ordinary killers abound, but Schwarz was different, special.
Finally, he couldn’t take the suspense anymore and ventured timidly, ”Crawford? Are you... are you going to get rid of me now?”
“Schist!” Schuldig swore, placing a hand on the startled boy’s shoulder. “We’re not going to do anything like that! You’re Schwarz, we don’t simply off our teammates just because they got injured!”
“But..but… I’m not just injured; I may not recover my powers…”
“We’re not going to just let you go! Aren’t we, Brad?” The redhead turned to their taciturn leader with a meaningful growl. “We are cold-blooded bastards but we take care of our own.”
Crawford nodded, thin lips quirking slightly at the hot-tempered German’s protectiveness.
“See? Even Brad says so.” Schuldig patted Nagi reassuringly. “And besides, your telekinetic powers aren’t the only thing you’re good at. You can still mind-fuck computers.”
“Hacking, Schu. It’s called hacking.” The dark-haired teen smiled in spite of himself. He actually found the brash German’s flippant terms rather amusing, even the annoying nicknames. Sometimes. Then his face fell again. “But what if you need my telekinetic powers?”
“We’re not that useless,” Schuldig sneered, rolling his eyes in disdain. “I’m sure the three of us – fully-grown, experienced assassins with psychic abilities of our own – can manage.”
“Ano…” Nagi blinked, seeing his teammate’s sarcasm for what it really was – an attempt to reassure him. Thanks, Schu.
::I mean it kid!:: An affronted snort as the telepath picked up the boy’s thought even though it wasn’t actually directed at him.
“What if I never recover? What if I…” ...stay normal? That was his unspoken fear.
If he wasn’t so distressed, Nagi might have found the irony amusing. Perhaps he might have wished for a normal life like other kids his age, perhaps he might had not wanted to be a hired killer, but he had *never* wanted to be *normal* like the rest of society. He had lived on the streets before Crawford had found him, and the small-sized boy had been abused and bullied before the two older psychics taught him how to control his power. Now nobody touched him without his permission again, nobody pushed him around.
More so than that, using his telekinesis had became second nature to him. Whether it was shielding himself from fatal injury when he was on a mission or simply floating the butter across the table during breakfast, he *couldn’t* imagine living without his power. It was as natural to him as breathing and walking; his telekinesis was another part of his body, an integral part of him.
::We know kiddo, we know.:: Schuldig’s mental voice came over, raspy and slightly nasal and yet soothing. If the redhead wanted, telepathy could convey much more than just simple spoken words. A wave of understanding and concern burst into his mind, showing him that the German *did* know how he felt.
Nagi gave a small wan smile up at the older psychic. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; Schu’s got special abilities too. In a small voice, he asked the final question that had been worrying him. “What about Esset?”
“We can’t tell them,” Schuldig said firmly.
Crawford nodded again. “I agree. For your safety, we’ll just have to hide the loss of your powers from them.”
“Forever?” Nagi whispered in despair. “How could I?”
Schuldig and Crawford exchanged a frown.
“For as long as we can.”
“Until we proved that you are just as useful, even without your powers.” The dark-haired American gave a sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose tiredly. “You are vital to Schwarz, Nagi. I’ve worked with other hackers before, but none were as good as you and you’re only fifteen. That alone should assure your place remaining in Schwarz; you have *proven* yourself. But we will keep it from Esset as long as we can.”
Nagi flushed happily with the rare praise and ducked his head.
“Right then, it’s settled!” Schuldig leapt up, grinning gleefully. “And to cheer our little Nagi-kins up, let’s all go our for breakfast! And shopping later!”
“Shopping cheers *you* up.” Crawford shot the carrot-topped bundle of energy a sour look as the two walked out, but he did not disagree with the suggestion for going out.
“So it will cheer up little Nagi-kins too!”
As Nagi stood up and rummaged around his closet for jeans and a sweater, Farfarello stepped beside him and gave him a reassuring squeeze on his shoulder. “Don’t worry kid.”
“Hai.” Nagi felt a bit better, knowing that his teammates cared, even if they really couldn’t do anything to help him.
The next few days were hell.
Nagi hadn’t realized *just* how much he was dependent on his telekinetic powers. He was too small and thin for his age and while he was reasonably fit – he *was* an active member on their missions after all and ran around almost as much as the other guys even if he usually wasn’t in the thick of action – he often made use of his powers to offset his size disadvantage.
Raising himself on the balls of his feet as high as he could, the vertically challenged teenager cursed the idiot who put the cereal box up on the top shelf. His morning was *not* going well. Already, he had woken with a mild headache, banged his wrist while reaching blinding for a face-towel in the bathroom – when he would have normally floated it to him – and now this. He was *not* going to get a chair; the elusive yellow box of sugared puffed corn was only an inch away… or maybe three…
“Why didn’t you just get a chair?”
Nagi tinted in embarrassment as a lanky arm pulled the cereal box down easily and plunked it on the table. “I was going to reach it!”
Schuldig snickered as he crossed the kitchen to the espresso maker and Nagi’s flush deepened. Sitting down with a scowl, he poured the cereal into a bowl. “Anyway, whose stupid idea was it to keep the cereal up there?”
A crunching whirr filled the spacious well-appointed kitchen – working for Esset had its privileges – with the fragrant aroma of freshly ground coffee. Sunlight streamed in on the homely scene.
Crawford had probably left the apartment. In addition to the stuff he did for Esset, the precognitive liked to dabble in stocks and shares, and usually scheduled such meetings with his broker in the early mornings so as to be able to convey his instructions before the markets opened. Farfarello was still sleeping in; that man looked and had the nocturnal habits of a vampire. With his strange fascination for blood, Nagi wouldn’t be surprised if Farf really were a vampire.
Schuldig gave a jaw-cracking yawn, pushing his hair out of his face as he took out two cups. The German’s shaggy mane exemplified the term ‘bed-hair’; his crimson spiky shock of hair looked as if he had plugged into a socket.
“Because Farf plus sugar equals very bad, therefore all sweet stuff is to be placed away.”
Nagi sighed, his mood darkening further because Schuldig was right. “…”
“Are you going to school today kid?”
“Yeah. I’ve already skipped yesterday and my teacher’s been complaining that I’ve been missing too many days.” The only school-going member of the assassin team often had to skip classes for missions, and while he usually came in at the top of his class and Crawford; his legal guardian, would turn a deaf ear to the principal’s complaints, he didn’t want to antagonize his teachers *too* much.
Schuldig shot him a sharp look as he seated himself opposite the table, sliding one of the two cups of coffee to him across the wooden surface. “And your head?”
“I’m fine,” Nagi lied. He still had a slight headache, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. He didn’t want to hang around the penthouse and mope. Perhaps going to school, no matter how irritating it was, would take his mind off the loss of his problems.
“All right, if you say so. I’ll send you to school today.” Schuldig ignored the look of surprise on Nagi’s face. “Give me a call on my cell and I’ll pick you up after school as well; I don’t want you taking the public transport just yet.”
::Because my powers are gone and I might not be able to protect myself, right?:: Nagi grimaced sourly. He usually had to badger Schuldig to give him a lift; often he simply took the train.
::Ah, I was just worried about your injury that all.:: A lame mental laugh. ::Don’t want you to faint along the way.::
Shimatta. Nagi stabbed his helpless cereal savagely.
Nagi stood in his bedroom, glowering at a stack of his textbooks, trying to lift them by sheer will alone. Usually, that wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, he’s lifted far heavier stuff, including Schuldig’s precious Porsche. The German was yelling and swearing at him the whole time, but not too loudly; he didn’t want the telekinetic to lose concentration and drop his car after all. He wasn’t so dumb as to try it with Crawford’s BMW of course. Some things were just not done, and messing around with Brad Crawford was one of them.
But today the books remained firmly planted to terra firma.
He punched the wall with a whine of frustration and sank back into his chair, rubbing at his temples. His headache wasn’t helping any as well; he’s been having a low throbbing pain that feels like there’s a tight band constricting the front and sides of his brain. The pain had been subsiding slowly but steadily, though it flared up occasionally. Usually when he tried to exert his telekinetic gifts, like now.
He wished he understood more about his powers. He had read what he could about the subject, but this wasn’t a topic that could be easily found either in a book or online. Most writers of such books were fakes anyway and hence the information out there was either wrong or insufficient, as psychics are wary about letting others know about their gifts. Or curses; depending on how they looked at it. The only way to really know was either through careful study of one’s own powers, or by learning from a more experienced psychic.
The only experienced psychics he had encountered were at Rosenkreuz and he had been extremely wary of trusting anybody there. On Crawford’s advice, he had played down his strength of his powers so that he could be assigned to Crawford’s team – a field team, where members were deemed more expendable – and not be confined to the headquarters.
And so, while he had been trained in the fundamentals like shielding and fine focus, he hadn’t truly understood *just* how his gift worked. It had always been there since it was awoken when he neared puberty and he never had to strain to use it, taking it for granted.
Nagi gave a scream. And then he kicked the stack of textbooks over in a fine display of a teenage tantrum.
“Ye all right, kid?’ Farfarello stuck his head in, a look of mild concern on his face. “Problems with homework? How was your Genetics test?”
“Yeah, I’m ok.” Nagi forced a small smile. “It went fine, no problem there.”
“Good. Because if I had wasted two afternoons drilling ye in Genetics, I would be forced to hurt you.”
Nagi laughed at that, his previous frustrated tension draining out of him. Farfarello could always make him laugh with his literal statements, deadpanned with an Irish lilt. Contrary to many people’s belief, Farfarello was not stupid at all. Cruel, insane – some days more than others – but definitely not stupid. And yet, in a way that was so Farfarello, the Irish was loyal to Schwarz. Others might cringe from the scarred, yellow-eyed man but Nagi implicitly trusted Farfarello.
The Irish assassin read widely; he did spend a lot of time in his padded room with little to occupy his time. Books weren’t sharp, and biology happened to be one of his favorite subjects. Nagi remembered Farfarello’s droll expression when he explained that anatomy was something directly connected to their line of work.
And that evolution theory *seriously* hurt God.
“Lunch will be ready soon.” Farfarello was a surprisingly good cook as well; maybe it was the knives. Watching him slice and twirl his knives in the kitchen was like watching a virtuoso performance. Schwarz was all too happy to let him cook but the other three members insisted firmly that he *not* lick the knives when preparing food though.
“You’re trying too hard.”
To Nagi’s surprise, Farfarello had not moved from the doorway. “Nani?”
“Just let it be, ye can’t force it. It’s a gift and it’s yours.” The Irish was smiling serenely now. He swung between two extremes in temperament, and right now he looked as calm as a Zen monk dispatching religious teachings while holding a soup ladle.
“Go call the others for lunch.” And with that final advice, Farfarello turned and left.
The dark-haired boy stared at the opened doorway, gaping and flummoxed, books forgotten. Farf …almost sounded like … but this is Farf; he’s not a clairvoyant… wait, Schwarz is a psychic team… but Farf isn’t known… wait, but Farf is also certified nuts and… arrrrrgh!
Nagi pushed away from his computer and rolled his wrists with a groan. He had finally finished his chemistry lab report. While he could type fast, it was much faster with his telekinesis as he wasn’t only restricted to two hands.
He flicked and shook his hands mournfully. I’m going to get carpal tunnel at this rate.
Hearing the clacking of keyboard stop, Schuldig rapped the teenager’s bedroom door. “Get dressed Nagi. Dinner at some swanky place tonight.”
“Hai, hai.” Nagi was about to pull out a pair of jeans but changed his mind and chose a pair of smartly pressed khakis instead. They ate out every night – Esstet *really* paid well, even without Crawford’s talent for stocks – and a good day for Farfarello meant a swankier dinner for the group. Even though Farfarello was a great cook and usually whipped up their lunches, the Irish had firmly declared that he wouldn’t do dinners. He would do ramen, cookies or traditional mochi, but he wouldn’t do dinners.
“Dinners don’t hurt God, and so I don’t do dinners.”
Farfarello had that unsettling gleam in his eye as he made that statement, while the other three assassins gaped in disbelief. Schuldig’s mental question ::And lunches do?!:: almost set them laughing, but they managed to keep a straight face around the unpredictable Irish. One tried not too hard to analyze Farfarello and his motivations; brains might explode. The Irish frequently defied logic and even Schuldig usually left the deep and twisted workings of his mind alone.
Crawford had simply pushed his glasses up and nodded at Farfarello. Thus, they ate out every night.
“Brad has some stuff for you to look into after dinner.” The door opened and the German telepath sauntered in, already dressed in his usual snazzy outfit of white pants and green trench top.
“And here I was just thinking I’m going to end up with RSI,” Nagi sighed, buttoning his white shirt.
“You hurt your wrists during the last mission?” Schuldig asked, a touch of worry in his tone.
Nagi blinked, fingers pausing at the top button. The German had been treating him differently since he lost his powers, less taunting and more thoughtful. He still teased the introverted teenager whenever he could, but it was less caustic.
“Leave the top button,” Schuldig slapped his hand away lightly, grinning. “You always look so straight-laced and stiff; you’ve no sense of style.”
“No, I didn’t hurt my wrists. It’s just that I’m used to typing so much,” Nagi replied, frowning slightly but he left the top button, not in a mood to argue with Schuldig. He spent hours on his computer everyday, alternating between using his hands and telekinesis. His dismal mood fell further. ‘Guess I have to get used to this now…’
“So did Brad want me to do?”
“At least this isn’t related to Taketori.” Their employer’s name was spoken with distaste; none of Schwarz liked the manipulative businessman but a job was a job and they *were* professionals. Their presence as his bodyguards were only required at functions and other public events and thankfully they were not required to live with him. The bodyguard duties were the official job they filed when they reported to Esset. Unofficially, Schwarz had its own agenda.
“Someone’s keeping information on important political figures and blackmailing them. Crawford doesn’t care about the victims – it’s their own fault for being so stupid anyway – but he wants that information. We have a few suspects and he wants you to hack into their files, see if which is really the one we’re after. If your wrists hurts, just tell Crawford you’ll do it tomorrow,” Schuldig cautioned. Picking up the teenager’s right hand, he rubbed his thumb over the thin wrist thoughtfully. “Shit Nagi, you’ve got to eat more. You’re so skinny.”
Blithely ignoring the slight color on the younger assassin’s cheekbones and the faint tugging as the younger tried to subtly reclaim his hand, the outspoken German maintained a firm grip and went on examining the teenager like a slab of meat. “I think you should also exercise more – put more muscle on your flesh. Don’t think I’ve not noticed how much you rely on your telekinesis to compensate.”
Nagi could find no answer to that and finally nodded sullenly. “I can handle it, it sounds simple. In fact, I can start the packet capture program to run now and it should be done by the time we’re back from dinner.”
He did Schwarz related-hacking on a different computer, seeing as how Esstet provided quite a generous budget for missions. That cutting edge – no, *bleeding* edge – computer was *not* kept in his bedroom; mainframes are so much bulkier and noisier than desktops.
Schuldig grinned, a truly scary expression as canines flashed in a lopsided quirking of lips and green eyes glinted gleefully, and draped a muscled arm around the teenager’s shoulders as they exited the bedroom. “All right! Off to the gym we’ll go tomorrow!”
Crawford’s precognition must be catching because Nagi suddenly had an unnerving glimpse of the future, in particular a workout with a hyper redhead, and paled. …I agreed to spending time with Schu… must have hit my head harder than I thought...
On to Part 2
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