The shock of recognition on his face caught her attention, even more than his shock of improbably coloured hair. But she knew she had never met him before - unless. . .
Aya shook her head, dismissing the notion. She thought she had trained herself away from swimming in those dark waters. Scanning the café she realised it was full. Looking back at the gaijin, Aya discovered he was staring intently at her. For some inexplicable reason and against every notion of modesty she crossed to his table, bowed and said,
"Dóomo sumimasén, but all the tables are full. May I sit here?"
After the initial 'torment Abyssinian in-absentia' impulse faded, Schuldig realised he was addicted to the presence of Aya's mind. It was like watching still, moonlit water with vague shapes circling just below the surface; a dorsal occasionally breaking through, creating ripples of light and motion, then sinking down again, swallowed into shadow.
The silence was both calming and unsettling - nor was it the only fascination. For all her bright sweetness, there were dark currents in Aya's personality that pulled at him: an indecipherable expression sometimes on that still-too-young face, or a harsh timbre to her voice. Schuldig decided to stay.
His name was Schuderich and he was handsome and clever and funny. He worked in corporate security (although she wasn't sure what his exact job was) and was from Austria (not Germany, Austria, he insisted). He laughed a lot and had a quick temper, but was never angry for long.
Aya never imagined she'd fall in love with a gaijin. She knew neither her parents nor brother would have approved, but then her parents were dead and Ran. . . Ran was another thing she didn't think about nowadays. And Schuderich would have charmed them over in the end, she was sure.
Schuldig hadn't had so much fun in ages. Takatori Mamorou had almost had an apoplexy (and at such a young age too) when he'd heard about little Aya-chan's new gaijin boyfriend with the red hair and the funny accent. His men were now practically tearing the town apart trying to find Schuldig, and he was leading them such a merry chase. Takatori should, in fact did, know better - their efforts were useless against a telepath, especially one who could alter people's perception of him. Though of course the dryly-amused reports he received from Takatori's Head of Security helped too.
Schuderich thought she didn't know about his ugly side. Aya was descended from samurai however, and practicality about the brutality of human nature was an integral part of her heritage. So she pretended not to notice when he followed the drunken office-worker who'd called her a filthy word into the men's room, and she never commented on the odd, often quite nasty, little accidents that happened to other people who'd insulted her. She knew her silence wasn't just because he was her boyfriend however: in a quiet little corner of her heart she knew it was because she liked it.
Schuldig never imagined he'd fall in love. In truth, he hadn't thought himself capable of it. But then again, if Farfarello - Poster Child for the Young and Sociopathic - could do such a thing, then why not him?
He'd also thought that Brad wouldn't approve of the liaison, so receiving a willing blessing was definitely disturbing. Especially when his demand to know what Brad had Seen was met with the type of glittering smugness he hadn't seen since before the fall of the tower. It would have made him cautious several weeks ago, but by now it was already too late.
Schuderich's business partner was like an actor in a gangster movie, with his immaculate clothes, shiny shoes and hard yellow-diamond eyes. And he was strange, even for a gaijin. When Schuderich first introduced them, Cwafordo-san had bowed politely, given her a warmthless smile and said,
"Not quite how we envisioned our goal Miss Fujimiya, but a pleasure nonetheless."
Schuderich had just laughed when she'd asked him what that had meant, replying Brad liked to be cryptic and that she shouldn't worry her pretty head about it. But since then wariness was increasingly evident alongside the warmth in his eyes.
Breaking the Seal
The one thing that monumentally pissed Schuldig off about the 'not-being-able-to-read-Aya's-mind' thing was the fact it had taken months to get her into bed. It was worth the wait however; sinking inside Aya's soft warmth; her little cries; the blushing awkwardness melting into aroused eagerness. And then the insistence of the legs wrapping around his waist; the frantic drive to get closer to her, in her, with her and then drowning, swiftly drowning in the riptide of Aya's mind.
It was really no surprise when he woke to a room glowing with black light and the gleam of red eyes.
The Imperial Audience Hall was truly magnificent, but Ran took no notice. Crushed to his knees, he glared upward; his hatred for Takatori mere gossamer compared to his hatred for these men.
“Puppetmaster!” he snarled at the American behind the throne, clad in impeccable pre-Fall suit and condescending amusement.
“Corrupter,” he hissed at the redhead lounging half-naked beside it.
A peal of delighted merriment rang out. And finally Ran looked at her; into the same bright sweet smile she had always had.
“Oni-chan, you shouldn’t talk about my favourite pets like that!”
And Ran knew then that he had been wrong.