"Freak," Rex muttered, quiet enough that Mamoru could pretend he hadn't heard. Not that she was wrong, he thought, looking at the ever-growing file on Nagi's daily life. It was like a report on an alien lifeform. It certainly wasn't normal to be able to do what Nagi could, and normal was a word he didn't seem to have much time for. I don't mind working with normals if they don't slow me down, he'd said, the word careful and nonchalant in his mouth in the way of someone trying not to express bigotry in the workplace. When he had first come to Kritiker, cool as if he were coming home, Mamoru had thought of fighting Nagi in the tower, of what it had felt like to be flung through the air when he gestured, how he had crashed against the pillar and been held there, effortlessly, ten feet above the ground. Nagi didn't need normal help, and Mamoru hadn't assigned him a partner. No one in Kritiker wanted to be assigned as Nagi's partner anyway, fearing a crushed skull if they looked at him the wrong way. Mamoru found such fears ridiculous, though he never said so. He could have killed me, he thought, as he had thought so many times. He could have shattered my head against that pillar, but he didn't. He felt the air rush past him, the crash of the pillar against his back hard enough to hurt but not to permanently damage or kill. When he was younger he had dreamt of falling, now at night his falls ended pressed safe against stone. Nagi hadn't been gentle with him in the tower, but had kept him safe for some purpose Mamoru couldn't fathom. It was too early to trust him in Kritiker, but in the future perhaps, perhaps –
He took the papers Rex had ready for him and waited till she had left the room before he called up the security footage from Nagi's apartment. He had gone home at the usual time the previous night and had done nothing suspicious, nothing out of the ordinary. Mamoru felt a snort of silent laughter at the thought. Nothing out of the ordinary for Nagi, anyway. He watched Nagi hang up his jacket and sit on his couch. He looked toward the television and it flickered to life, the channels changing with every blink of Nagi's eyes till he found something he wanted to watch. A news programme, Mamoru noted, nothing of real interest, just domestic and international news. After a little Nagi went to the kitchen area and made himself an unhealthy dinner of a huge mound of instant noodles. Mamoru wondered if he should have vegetables delivered – Nagi had eaten the same dinner every night for ten days. Mamoru hadn't eaten like that since he worked in the flower shop. Now he ate expensive fresh food every day; he remembered the satisfaction of salty noodles, quick and filling at the end of his shift or after he'd killed on a mission, and found his stomach rumbling. The noodles gone, Nagi sat in front of his computer and stared at it moodily, his chin propped in his hands. This was the thing Mamoru found the strangest, though he couldn't tell why. He felt again the sensation of flight, of the pain as he crashed against stone. Why was it odder to think Nagi used the same powers here, he wondered, looking at the key logger records. The keys depressed themselves rapidly, Nagi's hands never touching them. He played several games of chess and minesweeper, then typed up the detailed log of his day as Kritiker required of him. Every moment was accounted for in excruciating, boring detail. Mamoru idly flicked through the hard copy of it, checking the versions were identical. They were, as always.
Enough of this, he thought, tossing the papers back on his desk. What good was watching a subject who knew he was being watched? Nagi had never reacted to the tails set on him, hadn't disabled the cameras in his apartment or the keyloggers on his computer. He politely answered all questions set him, endured the twice-weekly medicals without complaint. No one was that patient, certainly no member of Schwarz, Mamoru was certain. This was not the way to discover what Nagi really wanted. Some people in Kritiker were convinced he had defected in truth, though it didn't make them actually trust him any more. Some people were convinced he was stupid, relying on his abilities more than his mind. Mamoru closed his eyes, feeling the wind of his flight through the air, the impact against the pillar, the horrifying moment when the tower had fallen and all of them, Weiß and Schwarz, tumbling down into the freezing, black water. They should all have drowned, he thought, but he had felt himself seized by unseen forces and propelled to the surface, to be left gasping and weakened in shallow water. Nagi had saved them, whether by his own choice or on orders, and that deserved – something.
"Rex," he said, depressing the button on the intercom, "Send Naoe to me at 11am." He sat back, not giving her the time to object. Let her come in and argue in person, if she would. She didn't, of course, well trained in obedience to Shuuichi. Mamoru put Nagi out of his mind and started on the work laid ready for him.
At 10.55, Rex rang.
"Mamoru-sama, Naoe-san is here."
"Give me a minute, then send him in," Mamoru said, tidying away his papers for Kritiker, slipping them out of sight into a folder before locking them away. There was no point in putting temptation in Nagi's way by letting him see secrets to pass on to Schwarz. He took a deep breath and kept his face calm and expressionless as Rex opened the door.
"Naoe-san to see you, Persia," she said.
"Thank you, Rex," he said. "I'll let you know if I need anything."
She went, eyes flickering distrustfully to Nagi as she closed the door. Mamoru looked at Nagi's sullen face, watching him stand absolutely still, not the slightest hint of movement. Then Nagi shifted, and before Mamoru could react to the expected attack, stood more casually.
"Takatori-san," he said, his voice as sullen as his face.
Mamoru stood, wanting to have more freedom of movement if necessary. "Persia, please," he said.
"Persia," Nagi said, agreeing, letting him know what he thought of any attempt at secrecy.
"I think we both know that you're not really here to defect," Mamoru said, not shifting his gaze from Nagi's face, waiting for the flicker of expression he hoped would warn of imminent violence.
"That's right," Nagi said, flat and insolent.
Everyone saw little more a child when they looked at him, Mamoru knew. No one expected him to act like a real Takatori; Grandfather complained he lacked subtlety. So be a child, Mamoru thought. "Why are you here?" he asked, rude and blunt, and felt something akin to victory as surprise flashed briefly on Nagi's face. It made him look younger, less sulky. Almost pretty, Mamoru thought, wondering if Nagi had had to endure the same jokes he had heard over and over from Yohji.
Nagi's face lost all expression again. "Oracle foresaw a situation in which it would be beneficial for Kritiker to have my assistance."
Out of the corner of his eye Mamoru saw he still had some documents to do with Kritiker on his desk, mixed in with a report on the Takatori finances. He kept his gaze fixed on Nagi's as he neatened the papers, hiding the report on Nagi's abilities amongst the bank statements. "What kind of assistance?"
Nagi shrugged. "Anything."
"Anything," Mamoru mused. "That's broad, isn't it?"
"Anything I'm capable of."
"Telekinesis," Mamoru said. "That's the word for what you can do, isn't it?" Nagi nodded, patently bored with such a question from – Mamoru found himself getting a little angry at the scorn he could imagine Nagi voicing – a normal. "Can you affect objects in motion?" he asked, flicking a dart towards Nagi's face before he finished the sentence. It stopped and hung motionless in mid-air as Nagi raised an eyebrow in clear disdain. "What about multiple objects?" Mamoru said, getting ready to throw several more.
Nagi lifted a hand, a languid motion full of more insolence than any Kritiker agent had dared to voice after the first week Mamoru had taken control. The desk – heavy imported hardwood that Mamoru could barely move an inch by himself – floated upwards and stopped at the same level as the dart. Then it settled gently back to the floor, landing completely silently. The dart flipped round and embedded itself deep in the smooth, unmarked wood.
"Are you done?" Nagi said, and he sounded so peeved, so much like an out-of-control teenager on a soap opera that Mamoru found himself smiling. Nagi looked offended at that, and Mamoru smiled all the wider.
"This is the strangest interview I've ever conducted," he said. "Though maybe it's the type you're used to?"
"I've had stranger," Nagi said, still looking huffy.
Make a peace offering, Mamoru thought, something to make him feel less - alien. He leant over the desk, extending his hand as if it were something he did every day. After a moment, Nagi took it, his grip firm, like this was the sort of body language he was used to. He was a foreign body, Mamoru thought, for all he looked like any schoolboy to be seen in the street. He straightened again, watching Nagi go back into a more professional stance. "Instead of more questions, maybe you'd like to work on a few missions?" There was the briefest flicker in Nagi's eyes.
"It would be efficient."
Mamoru knew that tone, that careful attempt to sound older than he was, in intonation if not in voice. He did his best not to laugh in genuine sympathy. "Then I look forward to working with you, Naoe-kun. Prodigy, was it...?"
"If you like," Nagi said in unconcealed distaste. "Nagi is fine."
Mamoru blinked at the sudden informality, fitting Nagi mentally into a framework of older team mates mocking his code name. Careful, he told himself. Crawford and Schuldig are not Yohji and Ken. And I didn't mind their teasing. "Nagi-kun. The assignment is a little more personal than the method for most, but we'll have to work closely together. You'll report to Rex -" He paused, considering it, and went on, " - but I envisage you reporting directly to me once we have both satisfied ourselves that your position within Kritiker is ongoing." He opened a drawer and passed a folder across the desk. Nagi opened it and read, his face sceptical as he skimmed the surveillance report on the mission target. Mamoru waited for a snide comment or perhaps a refusal to be a Takatori assassin. Say no, he thought suddenly. Show me you really aren't like the rest of Schwarz.
Nagi snapped the folder closed. "All right," he said.
Mamoru nodded briskly, telling himself he had really expected no other answer. "I'll be looking forward to seeing your work."
Nagi took the hint and left to start his career as Kritiker's secret weapon. Mamoru stared at the door when he'd gone, feeling the wind once more and the pain as he had crashed into stone. Nagi had foregone killing him then, and went now to kill on his orders. He didn't like it, he thought, he was missing something, a vital piece of the puzzle.
It was ridiculous to feel disappointed, as if Nagi had failed a test Mamoru hadn't even known he was setting.