Ran seized the front flaps of his trenchcoat and pulled the leather tighter around his body to keep out the night breeze. He strode after Ken resolutely, jaw set grimly. The younger boy had led himself and the Jackal straight to a small run-down church. In the lot out back was a graveyard for those unnamed. Bodies without ID's, victims of murder-- most found their way to an unmarked grave in the back of the degenerating chapel. Some of Weiß's own targets had been buried there.
The Jackal walked a few paces behind him, looking around warily with his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. Crawford- the idiot -had told the Irishman of Ken's strange curse, so he must have figured out by now what they were doing here.
Ken was going to use his necromancy.
Ken came to an abrupt halt and turned his head to wait for the two of them to catch up. He pointed at a fresh mound of dirt at his feet and said one word. "Sam."
The Jackal drew in a sharp breath, eyes narrowing slightly. "I'm surprised they bothered to bury him," he said bitterly.
Ken shrugged. "Maybe they didn't. Maybe the cops did. Who knows?" He took a deep breath and settled himself crosslegged at the foot of the grave. "It was the American Lord's Feeder who told us where to find him," he said, elicting a startled noise from the Jackal. "She told us some things, but I don't trust her one hundred percent." He glanced at them, face shadowed in the moonlight. "I'll let Sam answer your questions, because the dead have no need to lie. Then I'll fill you in on things he might not know that Elsie told me. Do me a favor and keep watch." He turned back to the grave.
Ran nodded and took up a post a few feet from the younger assassin, hand wrapped around the hilt of his silver-edged katana. The Jackal settled a few feet away from him, facing the opposite direction. He kept glancing towards Ken nervously, morbidly curious as to how Ken would work his magic. Ran kept his stiff back to Ken the entire time. He'd seen it done once before. He had no desire to see it again.
"Schu-san, would you like to sleep here tonight?"
Schuldich looked up blankly from where he was seated at the kitchen table, cradling a warm beer. He blinked, focusing on the girl in the doorway.
Aya was watching him fretfully. "Schu-san?"
"Nah." He rose to his feet, shaking off his lethargy. "I'll head home after the Retard Patrol gets back and tells us what the hell is going on."
"Hidoi.." Aya made a face at him. "That's not very nice."
"Sad but true," Schuldich sneered.
"My brother isn't a retard," Aya snapped. "Anyway, you really should stay here tonight. What if Yohji-san tries to kill you again?"
"He knows where the flower shop is, too, chibi," Schuldich reminded her dryly, swallowing the last of his beer. He tossed the empty can in the direction of the trash bin and missed.
With a sigh of long suffering, Aya padded over and plucked up the can, dropping it in the trash. "Don't be so stubborn."
"Don't be such a pest," Schuldich shot back.
Aya offered him a barely tolerant look and headed for the door leading upstairs.
"I wouldn't do that," Schuldich drawled with a wicked sort of grin. Aya hesitated, glancing back at him.
"If you absolutely have to go upstairs, you should at least wait until things get really hot," Schuldich advised with a grinch-like smile. "It's more fun that way."
Aya stared at him blankly. "'Hot'?"
"Schuldich." Crawford entered, levelling the German with a Look.
"Just trying to keep things entertaining," Schuldich yawned.
"Leave Nagi and Omi alone."
Aya flushed. "You mean.. they're..." she glanced upwards involuntarily. "They're doing.. that now? Upstairs?"
"Getting there," Schuldich confirmed with a smirk.
Crawford shook his head and limped towards the counter. Aya turned towards him in surprise. "Crawford-san, where's your cane?"
The older man got a mug from the shelf and made his way slowly towards the coffee pot. His gaze flicked coldly in Schuldich's direction. "It's missing."
Schuldich made a face. "Hey, don't look at me like that. I didn't touch your stupid stick."
"Then who did, Schuldich?" Crawford demanded, beginning to look peeved. "It didn't get up and walk away."
"How should I know??" Schuldich scowled. "You probably put it down and forgot where you put it, you senile old fart."
Aya sighed and stepped in between them. The tension was even getting to cool-headed Crawford. She supposed she couldn't blame them, but fighting among themselves was only going to make things worse. She was struggling not to let the feelings of frustration and helplessness overcome her, as well. Someone needed to keep a level head in the middle of this mess. "Schu-san, can you lock up the front door, please?"
"It was unlocked?" Crawford asked sharply.
"Chill, Crawfish," Schuldich drawled, rising to his feet lazily and catching the keys Aya tossed to him. "I've been keeping tabs on the front." He tapped his forhead and strolled out of the kitchen.
Crawford muttered something in English and poured himself some coffee. Aya didn't bother to get the sugar or cream; Crawford liked his coffee black. She pulled out a chair for him at the table. He nodded in thanks, but she thought she caught a flash of resentment in his eyes. Poor Crawford-san... his handicap was a real scar on his pride.
A moment later Schuldich walked back in, frowning. "I just thought of something."
"What a novel concept," Crawford murmured into his mug.
Schuldich gave him a dirty look. "It's something the Jackass said. He called that Vampire chick a Pureblood."
"Yeah- because she needed permission to enter the room," Aya recalled.
Schuldich's frown deepened. "But sunlight is poisonous to Purebloods," he countered. "And she was at Kitty's. It was broad daylight when Hidaka's car went boom."
Crawford lowered his coffee to look at Schuldich, all mockery gone from his face. "She was," he agreed. "Then why did she need permission to come inside? Turned Vampires don't need permission."
"Maybe she didn't need it," Schuldich pointed out, arching a brow meaningfully.
"You mean maybe she wanted us to think she's Pureblood?" Aya asked, wrinkling her nose in perplexion. "Why would she want us to think that?"
"Hidaka says he doesn't know if she's Pureblood or Turned," Crawford said.
"But if she can walk in the sunlight, why would he still be confused?" Aya jumped in.
"Something's fishy about that broad," Schuldich muttered with a scowl. "I don't think we should trust her."
"But she's one of Ken's bodyguards," Aya said in sudden alarm.
"Sounds like the perfect position to stab someone in the back," Schuldich drawled with a strange grin. He and Crawford exchanged a brief, knowing glance that had Aya wondering for the umpteenth time just what Schwarz had been like before the alliance.
"We can tell Tomás to keep an eye on her," Aya suggested quickly, then faltered when the two men turned to look at her. "..Right?"
"There's nothing to say we can trust the Jackrabbit to watch Ken's back, chibi," Schuldich said bluntly. "He's too hooked on this vendetta of his. And who's to say he's not lyin' his ass off, too?"
"He's not!" Aya protested.
"What makes you think that?" Crawford demanded calmly.
"..Demo..." Aya looked from one man to the other in desperation. "You can't be suspicious of everyone," she exclaimed desperately. "You have to trust someone-!"
"If we did that, we'd be dead," Schuldich growled.
"We can trust each other to a certain point, Aya," Crawford said quietly. "Anyone other than that is an enemy. And right now we have enemies in the group. Kudou, and possibly Farfarello."
Aya gasped. "Farfarello isn't an enemy," she said hotly. "He's their captive!"
"And what if they wiped his mind like Yoh- Kudou's?" Schuldich sneered. "Farf is not one I'd want for an enemy."
"You have to trust someone," Aya protested again, almost frantic. "Crawford-san, don't you trust Schuldich??"
Crawford gave her a "yeah right" look.
"I don't mean with everything," she corrected herself hastily. Schuldich made a face. "But.. you trust him to watch your back, right? To fight with you?"
Crawford continued to stare at her. Just when she was about to speak again, he answered quietly. "I trust Schuldich to back me up-- but only because we've worked together for years, and I've seen him pull through in tighter situations than this. That doesn't mean I won't be able to kill him if he turns on us."
Schuldich's laugh hurt Aya's ears. She looked at them in horror.
"Welcome to the real world, princess," Schuldich sneered, his eyes cold. "It's not very pretty, is it?"
~An hour later~
Schuldich stepped inside from where he'd been chain smoking just outside. "Here they come."
"Is it safe to get Nagi-kun and Omi-kun?" Aya asked hesitantly, feeling herself blush.
"I hope so. It's been over an hour," Schuldich snorted. He glanced upwards, his eyes going slightly unfocused. "Ja, they're done."
Aya opened the door to the stairs and hollered, "Omi! Nagi! My brother and the others are coming!"
"My my, how unladylike," Schuldich jeered.
Aya smiled sweetly and flipped him off. Crawford choked on his coffee.
Schuldich stared at her incredulously, but before he could speak, Omi and Nagi entered the room, looking tousled and bright-eyed. Schuldich decided to ignore Aya and leered at the two teenagers. "Have fun, boys?"
"Schuldich," Crawford warned.
The back door opened.
The Jackal entered first, and blinked when he found himself confronted with four pairs of expectant eyes. He stepped aside to allow Ken through, and Ran entered last, shutting the door wearily behind himself.
"Well look what the cat dragged in," Schuldich drawled, eyeing the dirt and dried blood on Ken with wry amusement.
Crawford hooked his good leg under the chair beside him and pulled it out. Ran sank down into it, while Ken hitched himself up onto the counter and the Jackal leaned against the wall. Aya looked at them all anxiously. They looked weary and defeated. "What happened?" she asked.
"No interruptions, Schuldich," Crawford said sternly. The German frowned at him.
Ken sighed, using a washcloth Omi handed him to clean smudges of dirt off his face. "Well, we found Sam. He told us as much as he could, and that combined with what I got out of Elsie has cleared a lot up. This is what we have so far." He took a deep breath. "The American Vampire Lord isn't dead."
"Is he a captive?" Nagi asked.
Ken shook his head, gesturing towards Ran. "Ran had mentioned to me that neither the Jackal or I actually saw Ryan Park die. We only saw him surrounded. He thought maybe the Vampires or Rosenkreuz might have an interest in him. Well, he was right. Only, Park isn't a captive."
"He was a part of it," the Jackal said quietly.
Aya's eyes widened. "What?"
"Is this going to be some kind of conspiracy theory?" Omi asked with a slightly dubious look.
Ken ignored him. "Ryan Park has a deal with Malachi-- the Pureblood that wants to get rid of Farfarello and take over as Vampire Lord. It turns out this whole thing was mostly Rosenkreuz's idea. Park and Malachi are just their pawns. Everything was set up. The reason I can't remember the attack very clearly is because Iragadachi and Souma were there. They weren't sure whether or not Schuldich was monitoring us, so they kept my mind pretty fuzzy."
Nagi cocked his head. "Why didn't they just kill you?"
"Because Birman wanted to kill him herself," Ran growled.
Omi's eyes widened. "So she's still alive?"
Ken nodded wearily. "Aa. But she wasn't at the ambush. I guess they were going to bring me back to her so she could kill me slowly or some shit." He scowled. "But the Jackal turned up and ruined that idea."
"OK, so this is a revenge thing for Rosenkreuz and Birman," Schuldich interrupted, and it was obvious he was having difficulty keeping himself from simply ripping the answers from Ken's mind. "What the hell do Park and Malachi have to gain from it?"
"What do you think?" Tomás asked snidely.
"If he helps Rosenkreuz kill Farfarello, Malachi can be Vampire Lord, right?" Aya guessed quickly to head off a fight.
Ken nodded. "Farfarello was willing to make an peace alliance with Park. That's what the whole meeting was about. Vampire politics are a little different from Human ones, though. For instance, a Peace Alliance between, say, Ireland and Germany means the Irish Vampires won't try to invade the German Vampires' territory or get into a Vampire War. It pretty much means 'you stay out of our way, and we'll stay out of yours'. What Park and Malachi want is to make an alliance that combines their forces. With two of the wealthiest and most-populated countries in the world backing each other up, they figure they could easily start a Vampire War to end all Wars."
"They want to be gods," Schuldich sneered.
The Jackal's eyes flashed. "Ireland would never agree to such a plan, and they knew that. That was why they killed my sister."
Schuldich's eyes suddenly darted to the side as if he was listening to something no one else could hear. He gave a slow grin, and Aya glanced at him curiously.
Ken gestured wildly as he explained heatedly. "Rosenkreuz, Park, and Malachi plan to kill Farfarello, take over the Vampires in Japan, and start a Vampire War. We're in their way, so they want us dead. Or, if Rosenkreuz gets their way, Erased. That way we can be in their sick little army. Hell, they'd Change us if they weren't so unsure whether or not that will kill our Gifts. Almost all of the Purebloods- and some of the Turned -are ready to back Malachi. Even-" his face turned dark, "Rinata, Farfarello's own advisor. She was getting information to Park through Elsie before they even got here. She's the one who's been in touch with Rosenkreuz. She's tricked a few Vampires into meeting them, where they were Erased. That's why Kil tried to assassinate Farfarello. Elsie says it was a Turned that was Erased that also set the bomb in my car." He banged his fists down on the countertop, making Omi and Aya jump. "Everything is going to shit!" he shouted in frustration. "I don't know who to trust anymore, and everytime I turn around Malachi and Rosenkreuz are two steps ahead of me!"
"Whoa, calm down, soccer punk," Schuldich purred, still smirking and looking strangely pleased with himself.
"Don't tell me to calm down," Ken snarled. "How can you tell me to calm down? The Vampires won't listen to me, we're standing on the brink of a world war, we're losing allies, and I still don't know if Farfarello is dead or alive-" he choked on the words, shutting his mouth tightly, face twisted in pain.
"Oh, he's not dead," Schuldich sniggered.
"How would you know??" Ken demanded in anguish.
Schuldich raised his eyebrows innocently, lifting a finger towards the back door. "Cuz he's outside."
There was dead silence for all of three seconds as everyone stared incredulously first at the gloating German, then at the back door.
Ken scrambled from the counter and dashed to the door, wrenching it open and slamming it against the stove. The Jackal jumped out of the way.
Tokyo's Vampire Lord stood just outside, hand raised to knock, blinking in surprise and then squinting at the sudden light from the kitchen.
He was dragging a pair of chains and cuffs in one hand, and he was covered in cuts, bruises and burns that looked weeks old because of his Vampire healing. He looked tired and grim, and was in sore need of a bath.
Ken let out a heart-wrenching cry. "Farfarello!!"
The Irishman caught him clumsily as his lover leapt forward to seize him in a tight embrace.
The others crowded around quickly, firing questions.
"Well, well, the Farfanator returns."
"Where have you been??"
"Were you with Rosenkreuz? Did you see Birman?"
"Was it Malachi?"
"How'd you escape?"
Their questions fell on deaf ears. Farfarello fell back against the doorframe in exhaustion, his arms wrapped possessively around Ken's form as the young Necromancer buried his face in the scarred neck and held on as if he was drowning. Finally the Berserker seemed to notice they had an audience and looked up slowly with his one golden eye.
He met Schuldich's gaze, and the German grinned cockily. "About damn time you showed up. Everything is going to shit, by the way."
Farfarello closed his eye wearily, never loosening his grip on his human lover. He snorted at the telepath's familiar banter. "Bad traffic," he deadpanned.
"Baka!" Aya protested through her tears. She latched onto his arm alongside Ken with a wail.
Ran's mouth twitched violently, but to his credit, he didn't drag her off or throw a fit.
Something in the shadows outside shifted, and Himeno stepped into view, smiling slightly with hooded eyes. She cocked her hip and crossed her arms over her stomach. "He came to the tunnels looking for Ken," she explained drolly.
"Hold it," Omi said quickly when she looked ready to step around Farfarello and get inside. He gave her a distrustful look. "How do we know we can trust you?"
She gave him a Look and pointed at Farfarello. "Who do you think brought him here?"
"First we need to know what you are," Crawford said firmly, leaning slightly against the counter, still sans cane.
"You told us you were a Pureblood," Nagi accused quietly.
Ken finally lifted his head from Farfarello's chest to look at them all in bewilderment.
Himeno tsked, shaking her finger mockingly. "I never said that," she pointed out. "This one," she flicked finely manicured nails in the Jackal's directions, "called me a Pureblood. You all went along with it. I never said if I was or not."
"But you needed permission to come inside," Omi said quickly.
"Yet you were at Kitty's in daylight," Nagi added.
Ken blinked. "Demo..."
"She's neither," Farfarello intoned, eye still closed. With the exception of Himeno, they all turned to look at him in surprise.
Himeno gave a small smile. "Oh ho.. you figured it out? Impressive, Farfarello-sama."
"How can you be neither?" Aya demanded in frustration. "You are a Vampire, aren't you?"
"Yes and no," Himeno said, still smiling.
The Jackal's eyes widened in sudden realization. "You're one of them," he blurted, hand twitching towards his sword instinctively. "The Adir'avar!"
Himeno winked at him. "Bingo."
Author's Notes: I apologize for how long it took to get this chapter out. @__@ Don't kill me *hides*
I've been working a lot on my GW fics lately, and couldn't get myself to even look twice at anything WK. ^^;; I stuck in Limp Bizkit and forced myself to work on this, tho. I figured I should hurry up and do this chapter since it's so important, what with all the explaining. Hopefully I can stay balanced between WK & GW so I can get the next one out in a decent amount of time, since that's the one where you find out about the Adir'avar.
Til next time-- Ja! ^_^
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