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The Worst of Evils

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Despite all the reasons he shouldn't have, Yohji sat with his back to the door. There was a mirror over the bar, but at this angle, it only reflected the path to the men's room. The completely normal men's room that wasn't just a flood of white mist like the view out the swinging saloon doors.

If Yohji watched the bartender long enough without interrupting, the man wiped down the counter the exact same way, polished the same three glasses, and took a sip of water from a bottle that didn't seem to empty. The music hadn't repeated yet, but Yohji figured it was just a matter of time. He wasn't sure that the music would mean anything though. Everyone knew most radio stations just played the same fifteen songs over and over anyway.

Yohji huddled down into the booth a little more when he heard the footsteps and the swinging doors. He didn't know who it was there, and he didn't want to. He just wanted to sit there and try to get drunk, even though every gulp of whiskey might as well have been his first for how it burned and didn't even give him a buzz.

Yohji couldn't help glancing up at the feel of motion nearby. The reflexes were too strong, even if Yohji wasn't so sure about them keeping him alive or any of that shit. From polished boots to green jacket to yellow bandana and pink sunglasses, Schuldig stood there in all his Technicolor glory.

"You're wearing a tan cowboy hat with vinyl pants. You have no right to comment on my sense of style." Schuldig slid into the seat across from Yohji in a way that could only be described as serpentine.

…Considering how much poisoned knowledge the man tended to offer, it was only fitting. "This is Hell, isn't it?"

Schuldig smirked. "How do you figure that?"

"The tower, the falling, the rocks and the water, not to mention my wire. Plus, y'know, you're here. It sure as fuck isn't Heaven."

Schuldig raised his glass in a mock toast. "I doubt that we're the only two people in all of Hell."

Yohji raised an eyebrow in spite of his wish that Schuldig would just go to hell. Er, go away.

"Bartender has about as much thought process as the table." Schuldig knocked on it as Yohji glanced over to see the bartender pick up the second glass right on schedule. "It's just you and me and a metric fuck ton of fog. I do like the bar, though."

Yohji did his best to ignore Schuldig so he could think. That lasted for about two minutes because that was how long it took Yohji to empty his glass. "So where are we?"

"Given all the empty space? Probably your head."


Schuldig shook his head thoughtfully. "Pot, kettle. Anyway, there's clutter and shit in mine. Outside influences and all that crap. Last thing I remember was trying to take control so you'd let go of the wire, so it looks like we're sleep-over buddies now."

"I am not going to braid your hair or paint your toenails." Yohji glared and wondered if he dared turn his back long enough to walk over to the bar for a refill.

"You have a terribly innocent view of what happens at those parties. Just pray to whatever it is you pray to that my team finds us first."

"Why the fuck would I want that?" Yohji glared like a, a thing that glared. His metaphors were slipping, but it had been a bad day. It had been a bad life. He didn't think he'd mind it ending, but the company left something to be desired.

"Because." Schuldig's grin had far too many teeth. "Crawford might figure out what happened. I doubt your team will. Do you think you'd get me as a permanent resident or lose your mind if they killed my body? If you're lucky, we're actually both in my head 'cause I pulled back too fast. Then we'd just die."

Fuck. Yohji didn't mind dying, but not that way. Omi hated Schuldig with a passion that was frightening. Aya hated him just as much, but over more recent sins. Ken tended to punch first and ask questions later, especially since the questions with that Creeper mess had only screwed things up more. Yohji's head made a satisfying thumping noise against the table, but without the pain that should have gone with two solid objects connecting. "This is Hell. It's my own personal Hell. You like messing with people, so apparently you're in Heaven."

"Kudoh, Kudoh, Kudoh, I haven't even gotten started messing with you." Schuldig paused. "But first you need another drink, so let's see what I can work up. Ah, yes, that'll work."

Yohji raised his head, dreading whatever could have possibly made Schuldig sound so smug. The chick that came out of the backroom was stacked enough to make Yohji stand and salute in a metaphorical sense. She jerked her head at the bartender, and he passed her an apron and headed out. She brought Yohji exactly what he'd been drinking before, but it didn't really tip Yohji off until she started wiping down the bar with the exact same circles that the man had used.

Yohji had never knocked back whiskey so fast in his life, but at least this time it gave him that warmth in his belly that had been missing before. "Nice trick. Gonna pull a rabbit out of your ass next?"

Schuldig rocked forward slightly as if considering, "Kinky, but no. I think I want to continue my recon a little. Just relax and let the barkeep bring you your poison of choice."

Getting drunk with a mortal enemy sitting right there was probably the stupidest thing Yohji could possibly do at this point. That was probably why he decided to accept the next drink. His sense of self-preservation wasn't half so well developed as his sense of guilt.

The warm glow of intoxication made it easier for Yohji to ignore the lights fluxing up and down and switching colors and the booths across the way melting and reforming into different shapes. It was all very Dali meets Escher.

"So. How long ya think we'll be here?"

Schuldig rolled his eyes. "Tired of my brilliant company already?"

"'S kinda dim now. You turned the lights down. And what th' fuck's this shit music?"

"German Industrial. It's goth and angsty without the whiny. You'd like it if you understood the words. Japanese goth is always whiny."

"Yeah, sure. Your mom. Anyway, how long?"

"Who knows. We're existing at the speed of thought. We might still be falling. At the rate you think, we might have been in coma for weeks."

"Can't. Can't be in a coma. That'd be too mean to Aya." Yohji fumbled for a cigarette.

"What, you got a thing for him?"

"NO! No. Fuck no, Yohji is a ladies' man, but fuck." Nicotine. Yohji needed nicotine, but his hands were too unsteady to work the lighter now.

"You think he has a thing for you?" Schuldig plucked the lighter from Yohji hands and lit the cigarette.

"No." Yohji rolled his eyes as he took a drag. "Don't think he can see past his sister. He'd do the guilt thing if other people got all, um, comafied trying to save her. Then he'd kill you, and I'd be fucked."

"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." Schuldig looked far too amused for Yohji's comfort.

"What're you talking about?"

"First, it's a movie reference. You fail at popular culture. Second, you clearly have no idea how nice it can be to be fucked."

"No. Hell, no. Women only." Yohji glared.

"That can be arranged." Schuldig's features softened and shifted slightly and his shirt suddenly fit in a new and very interesting way.

"Oh." Yohji stared. That was... Yohji couldn't decide if it was disturbing or hot. "No. Pretty outsides don't make pretty insides. You're still a sadistic, murdering bastard."

"And you're a masochistic, murdering bastard. Seems like a match made in... wherever we are." Schuldig's breathing had suddenly become very fascinating, and Yohji was very much not looking him in the eyes. Even his voice had shifted to something sultry. "C'mon, Kudoh. We might as well enjoy ourselves while we pass the time."

Even having seen the change, Yohji saw a woman in front of him now. The smile he dredged up was pure reflex. "Sorry, beautiful. You just aren't my type."

Schuldig's smile turned ugly. "Not into redheads? How about more of a brunette? Shorter hair, maybe?" As he talked, his features started to slide into a familiar cast, and Yohji's ability to think went right out the window. "C'mon, Yohji, how about it? Just for old times' sake."

"No." The word was half whimper as it stuck in Yohji's throat. He shook his head desperately. "No. No. No, you're dead. I killed you. You're dead."

The blood drained from Yohji's face as her skin slowly turned blue and wire marks appeared around her neck. This was so much worse. "Yohji." Her voice sounded choked as she reached out for him. "I love-"

"No!" Yohji flinched back, curling in on himself without even realizing it through his horror. "No, no, you don't belong here. You're free of me." His eyes slid closed, the only defense he could summon against the touch of her decaying hand. "Go away. Go away!"

"Yohji!" The voice was decidedly not feminine now, and the hand shaking his shoulder was too large for a woman. It was Schuldig, right? But why would he sound scared? "Yohji, make the damn bar come back."

Yohji's eyes flew open to utter darkness. He couldn't even see Schuldig, though he could feel the man's hand on his shoulder. "Turn- turn the lights back up then." That was all. It was just the lights. He couldn't feel the velvet-covered bench because he was panicking. That was all. See, there was the bartender. In a few seconds she'd start wiping the far end of the counter. And the music was still that crappy German stuff.

"Fuck, Kudoh. Don't do that again." Schuldig slouched against him, very much in Yohji's personal space.

"Don't do what? You're the one who looked like, like her! Jesus-fucking-Christ! I don't know why I'm still talking to you." Yohji pulled away and stormed towards the door.

And out the door.

And back in the door.

What the hell?

Yohji turned around and marched out again, only to find himself entering the bar. Schuldig started to laugh. Yohji flipped him off and tried leaving again, only to stumble and nearly fall on his face. Inside the bar, of course. Schuldig laughed harder. Yohji brushed off his pants and flopped back in the booth across from Schuldig. "Fine, smartass, why don't you leave?"

"Why should I? I don't want to get away from you. I think you're the best entertainment I've had all week."

"Is that why I can't leave? Knock it off and let me go." Yohji took a drag off his cigarette which seemed to have survived the whole ordeal completely unscathed.

"Don't think it's my doing, sweet cheeks. Do you remember walking into the bar?" Schuldig was far too cheerful over Yohji's disgruntlement.

"Of course I d-." Yohji frowned, because actually, no, he didn't remember. "Are you saying that my mind is the bar?"

"Something like that. Not exactly. There's some shit about self-image, expectations and some Jungian crap that I never really cared for, too."

"Is that a cop-out way of saying you don't know?" Yohji glanced at his cigarette and realized that it wasn't actually burning down.

"No. It's a cop-out way of saying I don't want to explain a bunch of semi-mystical crap to you. Have another drink."

Yohji was tempted to refuse, but there was no way he was sober enough to deal with any of this yet, so he waved to the bartender for another two fingers of whiskey. This time the silence stretched between them, but Yohji wasn't going to give in first. Eventually, he would get drunk enough. Eventually Schuldig would offer sex again, since there was fuck all else left to do. Eventually, Yohji would discover that the men's room was actually a well-appointed playroom.

Just… not right now.

"This isn't regulation. There should only be one." Overseer 83 frowned. With three protruding fangs, it had an impressive frown.

"They came through all tangled together. They still aren't completely separated. Easier this way." Hop Toe shrugged as much as it could with no shoulders.

"It isn't procedure." Damned imps were so slothy. Always cutting corners.

"It's easier," the imp repeated. It held out an appendage as if warming it at a fire. "And feel this."

Overseer 83 slid his tail around the globe, only to feel the most inglorious burn of guilt, hatred, fading hope and pain. "What did you put in?"

"Nothing. They came that way." Hop Toe's eyes pulsed in pleasure.

"Hn. Leave it for now. Contact me when it fades down." Overseer 83 moved on. He needed to check if any of his other wastes of resources had accidentally done something according to procedure.

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.
-Friedrich Nietzsche