In the large scheme of things, she was just one small cog in a much larger machine, she supposed. She was just the one trying to relay this one small message to its intended parties, and they refused to receive it. It was enough to drive a woman insane.
She looked down at her watch again, tapping her foot in impatience. Where the hell were those idiots? They were supposed to have been here more than an hour ago. She flipped her cell phone open, pulling up the speed dial for the number one of them had given her...
... when they finally stepped into the room, most of them laughing amongst themselves. She snapped the phone closed loudly and turned the best glare she could manage on them. "Where have you been?" She managed to keep her voice low, but cold anger had seeped into it.
Ken and Omi looked a bit sheepish. "Well..." the brunette began, "we got a bit held up." He and Omi exchanged another glance. "We do have another job, you know, Katrina-san."
A brilliant grin broke out across her face. "Well, get ready to quit it! The song debuted at number eight!" She bounced slightly, wrapping herself around Yohji. "You're officially on your way to stardom!"
Eyes a bit wide with shock, the four men looked at each other. Had this really been part of the plan? Had Manx meant for this to happen?
Katrina released Yohji, taking on an contemplative expression as she paced the room. "Now that you've got their attention, you've got to hold onto it or you'll slip out of sight. You'll need at least one more song ready soon, so we can release a single. And a music video!"
"No way," Ken cut in quickly. "No music video for me. The others can, but not me."
Omi glanced up at the man beside him, confusion momentarily in his eyes. Then it dawned on him: Hidaka Ken was dead as far as the Japanese public was concerned. A music video opened the possibility of someone recognizing him as the supposedly deceased J-Leaguer soccer star. Surely Manx hadn't intended on exposing them like this, had she? Omi turned big blue eyes up on the woman before them. "I'm not too much on the whole music video idea either. Isn't there anyway we can get around it?"
She sighed, running a hand through her dark hair. "I suppose you could get away with radio talks for a while. I might could sweet-talk someone into letting you guys in later this week for a late-night show. Sooner or later, you will have to do a video though." She dropped her hands to her hips and glared. "I'm putting my own career on hold as a favor to your friend Manx. Work with me a bit here."
As soon as she stopped speaking, there was a sharp rap on the door then it opened. All five occupants of the room turned to look at the newcomer; Katrina offered a pleasant smile while Weiss all silently expressed shock, outrage, and/or curiosity (Aya managed all three).
?orry I? late; someone decided he was sleeping in this morning. Farfarello leaned against the wall near the door, eyes hidden once more behind dark sunglasses as he shrugged slightly. ?rawford and I spent an hour convincing him otherwise.?/p>
Katrina chuckled. ?hat sounds like Johann, I can? remember any time when I? spent the night where he woke up the next day any time before noon.?/p>
Aya finally resumed his non-expression and voiced what he deemed a valid question: ?hat is he doing here? The redhead managed to make ?e sound like a curse. Katrina turned her attention back to the other four men in the room before replying.
?ell, since you?e well on your way to superstardom, Seguchi-san thought it would be a good idea if you had a personal bodyguard. None of Weiss failed to notice Farfarello? slight smirk at her words. ?y cousin offered his assistance and that of his colleagues. Jei-kun? been assigned to Uncontrol.?/p>
The door opened once again, this time slamming against the wall as Shuichi bounded in, appearing for all the world as if he was on a sugar high. He was closely followed by his band mates and their bodyguard?/p>
Katrina looked from her cousin to Yohji and back. ?? missing something here.?/p>
Farfarello took this moment to speak up again: ?e?e, ah, met.?/p>
The woman rolled her eyes in mock disgust. "Who did you manage to piss off this time, Johann?" Schuldig only responded with a smirk.
Still leaning against the wall, the white-haired man gave every indication that he was rolling his eyes behind his sunglasses: "Schu-schu, you're an idiot. Really. You know this, don't you?"
"That's what you keep telling me, Farfie," the redhead replied, moving as if to steal the younger man's sunglasses and instead ruffling his hair. Farfarello scowled and moved to the couch where he perched on the arm before turning his hidden gaze back to the group as a whole.
Shuichi didn't seem to notice Weiss' collective shock at the bodyguards' presence: "Konnichiwa! I wanted to come down and congratulate you before we got started today. Number eight is pretty great for a debut!" He impulsively hugged the nearest Uncontrol member, who happened to be Aya. "Congratulations, minna! OK," he said as he turned back to his bandmates, "what's on the agenda for today?"
Farfarello shifted his gaze to Schuldig, who still had his smirk in place. //What?//
//Temper temper, bisho,// the German 'placated.' //Take a look at the redheads--yours truly not included--and see if you can 'read' their reactions. Even to an empath like yourself it should be amusing and/or eye-opening.//
Only that idiot can turn the phrase 'and/or' into a spoken one, the Irishman thought to himself as he turned his attention towards Aya and Shuichi. True, he was empathic, but the sense wasn't fully developed thanks to his fucked-up telepathy. He had to concentrate on picking up even the strongest emotion that a person was feeling; two at once might be enough to knock him on his ass.
He really didn't need to worry about that; the moment he opened himself to their feelings he fell off the arm of the couch, knocking his sunglasses off.
Who knew that puppy-love could have that effect?!
Schuldig started laughing the moment Farfarello hit the ground, nearly doubled over as his team mate scowled at him. For reasons he could not explain either to the other members of Weiss or himself, Yohji found himself crossing to where the white-haired man's shades had fallen. He picked them up and, still crouched, lifted his gaze as he handed them to the younger man.
Twin amber-gold eyes blinked, mild shock appearing in their depths for a moment before being replaced with cool detachment. Then they were gone, once more hidden behind black reflective lenses.
"Thank you," Farfarello said in a toneless voice as he rose to his feet. Within the span of a second he crossed the room and punched Schuldig--hard--in the arm. "Ass," he grumbled aloud; telepathically he added, //I really and truly hate you. If Brad hadn't said you were important--//
//Oh, so it's Brad now...?//
Farfarello declined to answer, turning his attention back to Weiss. Ken and Omi exchanged a quick look; Yohji was still staring at the Irish assassin and Aya was staring at a wall. Both looked a bit flustered.
"Well now!" Katrina said, clapping her hands together. "We've all got a lot of work to do today, ne?" She began to 'gently' usher her cousin out of the room, i.e. shoving him towards the door as much as she was able. "I think Bad Luck is due in the studios first today, and Uncontrol is supposed to have a photo shoot first thing! Let's hop to it, minna!"
"What are we, rabbits?" Yohji grumbled, belatedly tearing his gaze from the Irish assassin. Oh god, was I staring? I think I was staring. Staring isn't good when Farfarello's involved, is it? I think Schuldig noticed. Did Schuldig notice? Oh dear god please don't let either of them have noticed!
//Kudou's thoughts are very interesting right now,// Schuldig remarked as he headed out the door. //Would you like to have a peek?//
//No, I would not,// Farfarello replied, closing his eyes. //Some of us actually take assignments seriously.//
//Ah, you just wanna stay on Brad's good side.//
The Irishman smirked to himself. //Believe me, Schu-schu, staying on Oracle's good side is what I do best.//
~ * ~ * ~
"I think I need to start drinking again."
Mika turned her head and gave her half-brother what could only be described as a LOOK. "Since when did you drink?"
"Since I started working with Schuldig on a daily basis," Crawford replied with a shrug, eyeing the bar. "I stopped about six months ago, but days like this...."
"Well, it could be worse...."
Crawford slid his glasses back up his nose and gave Mika a long, examining look. While his, erm, career had led him away from his family for quite a few years, he had always managed to stay in touch with Mika if not his half-brothers. Right now, though, the Mika before him was not the Mika he knew and--okay, he'd admit it, but only to himself--loved. Her eyes were red and a bit puffy, and she had been gone for a while just after he arrived for the day (even if it was half an hour late; he'd told Schuldig to have his ass out of bed at a decent hour...!)
"Oneechan," he said quietly, "what's wrong? I can tell something's bothering you."
Mika heaved a quiet sigh and settled back into her chair. "You might wanna get that drink you were talking about, Brad." When the man simply crossed his arms and hardened his gaze a bit she took a deep breath. "I'm sure you know through your associate that there've been a lot of threats made against NG and the bands we represent lately. So far as the bands and most of the staff know, there have been no fatalities. That's... not exactly the truth."
"Mika?" From the way he said her name, Mika realized that her half-brother already knew but didn't quite believe it. She really hated that Brad had come into close contact with her again for the first time in five years only for her to tell him that the family was down by one member.
"It's Yuki," she finally said after a long drawn-out silence. "He'd been in a relationship with the lead singer from one of our bands. Threats were made against him if he didn't stay away. But you know how Yuki was." Oh god, she could see in his eyes that he knew what she was going to say, just as clearly as she could see them pleading for her to lie.
"Brad... I'm sorry... Yuki was killed at his apartment three days ago."
Crawford closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to deny what he knew without a doubt to be the truth. "no," he said quietly, "it's not true. it can't be true."
"i didn't see it," he whispered, slipping his glasses off and laying them on the table. "I didn't see it so I didn't want to believe it when he told me."
Mika blinked, a bit surprised at Crawford's words. She'd known from the time he was taken from his mother that he was clairvoyant and precognitive or something to that effect, so she'd naturally assumed he knew because of that.
"Who told you?" she wondered, voice barely above a whisper.
Crawford took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of his nose before answering: "One of my telepaths, a projector. He can only use his gift if he literally goes from mind to mind, leaving his physical self behind. Three days ago he came back suddenly... he looked frantic. He'd been in my head more than a few times and knows who's who in our family. He told me then that Yuki was dead, but I couldn't believe him. I didn't see it, so it just... wasn't."
Then Mika was next to the younger man, arms wrapped around him as she silently bore witness to what only one person beside herself had ever seen: Brad Crawford in tears.
16 May 2004
So here is our next chapter of Beloved Fate, so I hope you enjoy it.
So Brad is Yuki's older brother. And who really killed Yuki? Who is targeting N-G? The answers are coming your way soon.
Eternal SailorM & Ryoko Crawford