Beloved Fate
Mission Nine "Darkly Dreaming"
by Eternal SailorM and Ryoko Crawford

"Is it just me, or does Berserker look... well, distracted??"

Ken frowned slightly at Omi's fairly random observation but found himself nodding in agreement. About fifteen minutes into the actual photo shoot -- not counting the half hour torture Katrina called 'hair and makeup' -- the Irishman had gone from amused and fairly relaxed to rigid and distant. As Ken glanced towards the slightly younger man, Farfarello was checking his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes and scowling.

"No talking please!" the photographer, a brunette in her early thirties, chirped. "We only have another dozen to go and then you're free to leave!"

Ran's eyes widened slightly. As if the day wasn't bad enough already...! He risked a glance over at Farfarello, frowning as the man shifted only a few inches before relaxing for the first time in over half an hour. Oh, sure, the Schwarz could nap; he wasn't the one under the damned lights...

"Another dozen?!" Yohji complained. "I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but isn't that going a little overboard?"

Ran twitched. "A little?!"

"Ran-kun," the photographer smiled, "Could you unbutton your shirt a little more?"

The redhead reminded himself for the hundredth time that it wasn't polite to hit a woman. This day is never going to end.


Weiss collectively reached for their absent weapons as the photographer yelped. Ran didn't even get halfway to sword position before finding himself with a double armful of Shuichi.

"Raaaaan-kuuun!" the pink-haired young man sang, reminding Ken of, frighteningly enough, Omi on a sugar high. Another ominous sound followed Shuichi's cry:

Click. Click-click-click-click-click, immediately followed by a happy (fan girlish?!) sigh from the photographer.

"Shuichi-kun, can you hold him a little closer?!" she asked almost eagerly. "Ran-kun, stop glaring at the camera! And -- hey! You get back here, Ken-kun and Omi-kun!"

Yohji bit back a snicker and turned to where Farfarello had been standing most of the shoot. Suguru and Hiroshi were literally dragging Ken and Omi back into the room, Schuldig and K weren't even bothering to hide their laughter... and Farfarello was nowhere in sight.

~ * ~ * ~

Mika sent up a purely mental thanks to whatever god was listening as Crawford finally pulled away from her. It was still disconcerting to see her half-brother's eyes reddened from tears, but he seemed to be pulling himself together.

"Sorry, neesan," Crawford said after a moment, slipping off his glasses to rub his eyes. "I didn't mean to lose my composure like that."

Mika rolled her eyes. "Brad Seishiro Crawford, you just lost a brother. You've every right to 'lose your composure'. Hell, you're worse with handling your emotions than anyone in the rest of this family combined." Before she could continue her lecture, there was a knock on the door.

She glanced up as it opened, blinking as a white-haired teenager not much older than Tatsuha peered into the room. Mika was a bit astonished by his unusual eye color -- she'd never seen amber-gold eyes before -- but quickly regained her own composure.

"May I help you?" she asked coolly before her half-brother placed a hand on her arm. She turned to ask Crawford why he didn't mind the interruption, the younger man following her gaze.


Mika's attention snapped back to the newcomer, who quickly crossed the room and reached out to lightly caress her half-brother's cheek. Crawford closed his eyes and leaned into the touch, his own hand coming up to cover the other man's.

"Are you okay?" Farfarello asked, concern apparent in his voice. "I could feel you five floors down."

"Mm-hmm," Crawford replied, a small smile crossing his lips even as his sister goggled at his informal affirmative. "Just needed to finally accept the truth."

The Irishman didn't look completely convinced. Instead of challenging Crawford, however, he turned his gaze towards Mika. "Aren't you going to introduce me?" he asked, a hint of amusement in his eyes. "Your sister's curious about the affect I have on you."

Mika found herself frowning again. How in the hell did this stranger know what she was thinking and feeling at the moment?!

Crawford chuckled in amusement and, to Mika's surprise, lightly kissed the younger man's palm. "You're right, where are my manners? Mika," he addressed his sister with the same small smile, "I'd like you to meet my projector, empath and lover, Jei Farfarello. Jei, you already know my oneesan Seguchi Mika."

~ * ~ * ~

Nagi was... well, torn between being amused and being very, very afraid.

At the moment, the teenager was keeping an eye on Nittle Grasper, or rather on Sakuma Ryuichi as Tohma was in his office with Crawford close by and Ukai Noriko had gone home early to spend a little time with her husband and daughter. And while he was young enough to still look like an innocent, to actually witness unbound joy and child-like innocence in a thirty-one-year-old left him floundering.

"Nagi-kuuun," Ryuichi sang, dropping to the floor in front of the teenager, "Kuma-chan is bored!" This announcement was accompanied by said pink bunny being waved in Nagi's face. "Can we go find Shuichi-chan and play for a while? Pleeeeeeeeeeease?!"

The telekinetic blinked, somewhat surprised to find himself smiling slightly. Hell, he rarely smiled around his 'family' yet for some reason he felt... safe to express himself around Ryuichi.

A little, though, not much.

"I suppose we can look for Shuichi-san," Nagi said after a moment.

"Yatta!" Ryuichi glomped onto the teenager and began to drag him from the room. "Kumagorou says Nagi-kun's the best bodyguard ever!"

What am I getting myself into? Nagi thought to himself as another small smile flitted across his lips.

~ * ~ * ~

Katrina smiled to herself as she strummed her guitar. That was a stroke of pure genius, Trina. Uncontrol is safely with the photographer for at least another half hour, Bad Luck has the good fortune of Johann's protection, Mister Crawford is keeping an eye on the upper levels, and that leaves me with some peace and quiet to get at least one new song written!

The woman smiled again and leaned over to scratch a few words onto the paper lying on the table beside her. No sooner had she sat back once more did the phone ring. Katrina frowned slightly; the outside lines were only accessible from one of the main offices like Seguchi-san's. If one of the phones in the boardrooms or, in this case, the lobbies was ringing the call could only be coming from inside the building.

Wonder who they?e looking for... she mused before picking up the phone. "Moshi-moshi?"

There was a long silence on the other end before a woman? voice fairly snarled into the receiver: "Katrina."

"Who is this?"

"Not important," the mystery woman purred. "Let's just suffice it to say that you aren't safe, little girl. We know who you are. We know who, and what, your sister was. And we know who your family is."

Katrina felt a tendril of fear move through her. Johann... "What do you want?" she managed to get out in a choked whisper. 

The woman laughed. It wasn't a pretty sound."Mostly we want to wipe NG off the map. More personally, we want Guilty and his comrades dead. Either way, Katrina dear, you're going to die too. Have a pleasant day."

For what felt like an eternity, Katrina sat staring off into space, listening to the dial tone. Then the phone dropped from her fingers and hit the floor as she did the only thing that seemed logical at that moment.

Katrina screamed.

22 July 2004

Wow... Who ever knew writing at work could be so much fun? ^_~

[ Mission Improbable | A Mysterious Heart | Blood Red Destiny | Gravitating to You | Sea Beyond Time | Out of Heaven | A Few Shades of Grey | Surprise Meetings | Darkly Dreaming ]