Pairing(s)/Characters: Nagi Naoe, Schwarz
Summary: Nagi loses his grip on gravity.
Warnings: None, really.
Author’s Notes: Prompt: Pale Blue Sky
Disclaimer: Weiss Kreuz is the creation of Koyasu Takehito and the production of Project Weiss. The characters, settings, and events herein are used without permission for fan entertainment purposes only.
Somewhere along the way, Nagi lost his grip on gravity.
It wasn't that gravity didn't work for him so much as he began to repel all forces acting against him and, by the laws of Nature herself, gravity fell into that category. Wind did also, as did the UV rays of the sun - which surprised Nagi as it still seemed to warm him, but he chalked the warming up to an environmental effect. And so, the wind did not ruffle his hair, the sun did not brown or burn him, and his feet did not touch the ground when he walked.
It could not be said that he flew, at least not in the way that he flew while actively levitating, but he did walk on a cushion of air and it took a lot of concentration to dampen his psychokinesis. The effect was greater or lesser, depending on his mood, and while he would often float no more than an inch above the floor, sometimes he would suddenly bump his head on the ceiling.
It really was a worrisome thing and it caused him no end of frustration.
"He's light on his feet today," Schuldig said, pointedly ignoring Nagi in favour of Farfarello.
"Maybe he feels blessed," Farfarello replied. "Light of soul, light of foot."
"I don't know that he's the blessed type," Schuldig said, grinning. "Maybe he's just light-headed."
Nagi glared at him with all the force his offended teenaged sensibilities could muster, which was considerable, but Schuldig blew him off.
"Don't look at me like that," he said and then smirked, a sign of teasing to come. "If you're going to walk around with your head in the clouds, you need someone down-to-earth to keep your feet on the ground."
Farfarello laughed at that in his dry, raspy way, and Nagi hated them both briefly before falling into his habitual apathy. It wasn't worth getting mad at them; they would only try harder if they thought they were getting to him. Besides, Nagi could see the humour of the situation and might even have been amused if it was happening to someone else. But it was not and he was not and he was definitely not in the mood for Schuldig's so-called wit.
But even Schuldig was not quite as frustrating as Crawford.
"No, you'll have to stay here."
"But why?" Nagi insisted. Usually Crawford's orders were immediately obeyed, but usually Nagi could see the sense in them. "You know you could use my help."
"Actually, no," Crawford told him with brutal honesty. "This will be an outdoor venue with plenty of security and I don't foresee any trouble. If this should change, three will be more than enough to ensure the client's safety, even if your powers might make the situation... less messy."
Crawford paused then, as if analyzing his words to ensure they were accurate. He must have been satisfied because he nodded once and continued.
"You were invited because I thought you would enjoy the entertainment, but I can't allow anything to draw undue attention to us or to our client and a teenaged boy who doesn't touch the ground tends to catch the eye."
Nagi wanted to protest, but he could tell that Crawford's mind was made up and Nagi could not bring himself to rebel against the decision. The truth was that he had wanted to attend for the entertainment and some of the kiosks, which, thanks to their client, provided a chance to get out without having to mingle too much with the common crowd. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn't have cared enough to argue, but it was the idea that he might not be able to control his powers on such an important job that rankled.
Crawford must have seen something in his face because he relented slightly.
"It's a three-day affair," he said, scanning the newspaper. "Maybe Schuldig will take you out tomorrow if you can behave yourself."
Nagi scowled and stalked off. When he hit the hallway, Crawford's coffee cup exploded and Nagi judged by the shout of surprise that this had not been foreseen. He smiled slyly to himself and felt a little bit better.
It couldn't last.
"I don't see what Crawford's so uptight about," Schuldig said when Nagi told him that he would be staying home. "It wouldn't take a lot of effort to convince a crowd that a floating boy is normal."
Nagi loved him briefly, thinking he had found an ally willing to cast a veil of illusion on his behalf, but the feeling quickly soured. Schuldig wasn't finished.
"I mean, I could tie a string around your waist and we'll just tell everyone you're a giant novelty balloon." Schuldig grinned. "They'll be lining up to buy you."
"You're not helping," Nagi told him coldly and with the barest hint of menace.
"If you make my glass explode, I'll tell Crawford and you won't be going anywhere," Schuldig replied, also dropping his friendly guise. "You feel put-upon now, but this isn't a joke. You think being teased is bad? Try planning around someone who can't stay anchored to Mother Earth for more than five minutes at a time. Crawford was being kind. He's not worried that you'll draw attention, he's worried that you'll forget yourself and float so high you'll never get down. I've seen you hit the ceiling when you aren't paying attention, so don't tell me it can't happen."
Crawford's fear was Nagi's as well, although he didn't dare to voice it. Hearing it from Schuldig's mouth broke the shell of his terror and Nagi reacted violently, shoving Schuldig away with a panic-charged blast of telekinesis.
Unfortunately, in his present condition, the act of repelling his teammate sent Nagi flying in the opposite direction. Schuldig hit the wall with a grunt, arm upraised to brace himself as though expecting the attack. Nagi flew backwards and stumbled over a chair, hitting the ground hard enough to catch the breath in his throat. He lay there gasping, the floor firm beneath him, until his arm was caught in an iron grip and Schuldig hauled him to his feet.
"There, see?" Schuldig said, his voice not unkind in spite of his obvious irritation. "Even you don't know how to handle your powers right now; you can't expect us to compensate for you."
Nagi stood there, humiliated, as Schuldig straightened his shirt and brushed him off. The floor, firm beneath his body, could not be felt beneath his feet.
"Crawford's giving you some time off. Take it and learn not to think about things so much," Schuldig said. "You think, you worry. You worry, you push things away."
Nagi slunk away, consoling himself with the knowledge that Schuldig just didn't understand.
The same thing happens to telepaths, came the ghost of a thought. But, with us, people just fuck off and leave us alone. You don't have the luxury of waiting until it suits you to deal with it.
With a burst of uncharitable thoughts, Nagi retreated to the safety of his bedroom and hid behind the closed door. In truth, no place was safe from Schuldig's talents, but it was also true that he never intentionally pried into the minds of his teammates. Nagi assumed that this had less to do with morality than with Schuldig's own peace of mind, but it still meant a quiet day in his own head.
At least it should have. In actual fact, Nagi couldn't help dwelling on Schuldig's words. He knew that he sometimes floated high enough to reach the ceiling, but he had always been able to bring himself back down to earth one he'd noticed. Well, as close to earth as his powers would allow. And surely he'd notice if he started rising to the rooftops. Surely.
Nagi worried that he might not, in fact, notice. Or, worse, that he would notice and be unable to do anything about it. So far his powers were kept in check, even if they got a little out of hand, but what if he lost the ability to control them at all? Could such a thing really happen?
He leaned against the window frame of his bedroom and looked out at the pale blue sky. He wondered what it would be like to fall upwards, to see the ground rushing away from him and knowing he would never land. He supposed it would be like falling forever... Or at least until the thinning atmosphere stole away his breath away and shut his brain off as easily as flicking a switch.
Nagi shuddered and tore himself away from the window. He did not need these thoughts. Not now, not ever.
He grabbed his laptop and a cozy old blanket and proceeded to spend the day bundled up in the furthest corner of the most windowless room in the house.
Nagi wasn't sure if it was his self-imposed exile or other plans cropping up, but neither Schuldig nor Crawford offered to take him out the next day. The small festival came and went without being seen, but Nagi could not bring himself to mind. And yet, after a week or so of hiding in corners, he found himself craving the sun and accepted Schuldig's invitation to catch a movie in town.
"We'll be inside, so it won't make a difference," Schuldig told him. "And don't worry about people noticing; it's ridiculously easy to tell people they didn't see what they thought they saw. Especially when no one wants to admit that they saw it anyway."
"I can keep my feet on the ground," Nagi said peevishly, extracting Schuldig's point from his tangle of words. "I've been practising."
"Good for you," Schuldig said, unimpressed. "Farfarello's coming, by the way."
"As long as I don't have to sit next to him. He talks during the good parts."
"He wouldn't if film makers ever bothered to check an anatomy book," Schuldig said.
Nevertheless, Nagi insisted on sitting next to Schuldig with Farfarello on the far side. The movie wasn't bad although Nagi found it rather more superficial than he liked and the theatre was crowded, especially on the way out. Nagi found himself jostled in spite of his best efforts to push people away. Schuldig radiated an aura of threat mentally and Farfarello did the same quite naturally, but it wasn't enough. By the time he stumbled into the open air, Nagi's mood was dark and his impatience was high.
"Remind me why it's fun to go to the movies," he said bitterly.
"You need to get out of the house once in a while," Schuldig replied, unconcerned, "so you don't end up a pasty-faced dough boy from sitting in front of your computer eating Pocky."
"I'm not a dough-boy," Nagi snapped.
"But you are pasty-faced?"
Nagi scowled and turned to find Schuldig grinning at him. It was a sign of annoyances to come and Nagi was not in the mood.
However, before he could retort, Schuldig's smile slipped away and was replaced by a look of mild exasperation. "Watch the ground, kid," he said.
Nagi's anxiety escalated as he realized that he could no longer feel the ground beneath his feet.
"I was fine until you started bugging me," he snapped at Schulding, twisting his rising panic into anger.
"You were getting pissy so I poked a little fun," Schuldig replied. "Sue me after we get home."
Nagi felt Schuldig's hand on his shoulder, a companionable gesture that he did not want a part of right now. He shrugged it off and pulled ahead – or pushed himself forward, it was difficult to tell.
"You're always poking fun," Nagi complained. "I'm tired of it. I can get home on my own and with...with less trouble than if you're making fun of me."
From the corner of his eye, Nagi saw Farfarello move. He was as quick as a snake, but Nagi was ready. He dodged and ducked and ran a few steps ahead, putting himself out of arms' reach.
"Stop that!" he snapped. He turned to look back at his teammates, but continued to walk. He could not feel the paving slabs beneath his feet and could not tell if he was moving in a straight line, but he didn't want to stop and give them a chance to catch up. "I'm fine. I don't want to hang around with you anymore!"
Farfarello's face was a mask of concentration, but Schuldig's expression shifted and changed constantly from annoyance, to anger, and finally to worry. He paused and put a hand out to halt Farfarello as well.
"Nagi..." he said, cajoling. "Nagi, stop."
Nagi glowered and took a few more steps, slowing even if he did not stop entirely. In the back of his mind, he felt the tendrils of Schuldig's thoughts trying to reach past his anger. Fearing some attempt at mind control, Nagi turned and fled, receiving the image of the busy street behind him at the very instant he stepped off the curb.
Anger fled and gave way to mounting panic. Nagi lashed out, stopping the oncoming car dead in its tracks, but he forgot he was not anchored and the sheer strength of the force he released threw him backwards.
Fearing he might be tossed into the path of another car, Nagi clenched his eyes shut and began repelling attacks from all sides. It was only when the murmur of the crowd reached him that he dared to look and noticed that he was floating three, now four, feet above the ground.
But four feet was fine, Nagi told himself. He could manage four feet.
Except that four feet was now five and well on its way to six. Between the outlines of the buildings, Nagi could see the pale blue sky creeping into his field of vision. He risked a glance over his shoulder, the motion half-turning him to view the sky in all its cloudless glory, the rooftops of the surrounding buildings receding to give it prominence.
Blind panic seized him – He was falling! Falling into the sky! – and the buildings melted away, the blue field grew as he pushed and pushed away from it, with only the ground to repel him...
And then his thoughts exploded.
A million voices and more poured through his head, shrieking, screaming, and clamouring for attention. Thoughts of horror, thoughts of doubt, thoughts of boredom, love, lust, malice, anger, fear, and pure, undiluted happiness. The pain was exquisite and Nagi felt only the barest sensation of falling as the sky rushed away from him and the slightest sensation of impact as he was caught in strong arms and borne to the ground with a slight roll to soften the blow. After that, he knew nothing but darkness.
When Nagi came to, it was to a cold cloth pressed against his forehead. Schuldig lifted it away – it turned out to be his bandana – and poured some water on it from a bottle before pressing it back against Nagi's forehead. His hair hung about him, wild and unruly; his face was pinched, waxy and pale.
Nagi's head was screaming in agony, but otherwise quiet, and he felt much as Schuldig looked. The crowd circled around them like sharks, wide-eyed and amazed, and Nagi realized that it was their thoughts he had heard in his head. Schuldig had dropped all shields and channeled the hive-mind of Tokyo to break his panic and drown his thoughts.
"I told you not to worry so much," Schuldig said, sounding as weak as Nagi felt. "Crawford will kill me if you end up on Mars."
"Thanks," Nagi said quietly. His head wouldn't allow anything more.
"Thank Farfarello too. He's the one who caught you before you cracked your head open."
"Thanks, Farf," he said dutifully.
"Eat less," Farfarello told him with an unaffected grin. It took a lot to rattle Farfarello.
It hurt just to think, but there were some things that could not be spoken out loud, not in a crowd.
What are we going to do about these people? Everyone saw! Nagi said.
Nothing, Schuldig told him. They think it's a publicity stunt for a new movie.
You 'told' them that?
Schuldig grinned. Didn't have to.
Nagi smiled inwardly. It was no wonder Schuldig could fool people so easily when they were so eager to fool themselves. Another thought crossed his mind and he frowned.
"What will Crawford say?"
Schuldig snorted. "Kid, if Crawford was going to say anything, he would have said it days ago. Just keep your feet on the ground."
Nagi was not in the habit of laughing, but he had to smile.
It took several days to get rid of the headache and a couple more weeks before Nagi was allowed to take part in assignments, but his feet never left the ground again. Well, not without a conscious effort on his part.
Shielding his eyes, Nagi looked up at the clouds as they trailed across a beautiful summer sky and wondered if he had mastered the trick of not worrying so much. It seemed to him that there was as much as ever to be worried about.