"Behind Blue Eyes"
~~~~Note: This chapter is being posted at the same time as ch. 34, so make sure you don't accidentally read this one and not both of them, or you'll be realllly lost ^^;~~~~
Ken had noticed Nagi's plight, and seen Omi racing after him.
He had one Pureblood in a headlock and was kicking another away from him as he wracked his mind furiously. No doubt Jenell was leading the two youngest assassins into a trap. Should he trust the two of them to look after themselves, or should he try and go help them? There were half a dozen zombies nearby he could send after them...
His eyes darted sideways as he twisted his arms in a sudden burst of desperate strength, snapping the Vampire's neck. His breath caught in his throat at what he saw.
A mass of Purebloods had surrounded Farfarello, and they were slowly but steadily bringing him down. Ken hesitated, torn.
Should he try to get to Nagi and Omi, or..?
One of the Purebloods sank its teeth into Farfarello's arm. The Irishman snarled in anger and drove a heavy fist into the man's head. The fangs sank in deeper, but he crushed the Vampire's skull like a grapefruit, killing it instantly. Another came up behind him and wrapped strong arms around his neck in an attempt to strangle him. Farfarello gagged, struggling to pull the arms free and fend off a wave of more attackers.
Ken made his decision. He seized a passing zombie and shouted at it, "Help Farfarello!!"
It changed its course obediently and staggered towards Farfarello. Its companions obeyed as well, wading into the mess of Purebloods and tearing them apart without any expression on their rotting faces.
Ken gave a heavy sigh of relief, turning to deal with his own foes. As he did so, he caught Crawford staring at him from several yards away. For a minute he was confused, wondering at the flicker of sorrow he caught in the older man's eyes.
It wasn't until he saw Farfarello safely break free of his attackers due to the zombies' intervention that it struck him like a thunderbolt.
Crawford's vision had been about choosing between life and death. He'd warned him that by choosing life, he would be condemning Farfarello to death. He had chosen to save Farfarello. Then what about...
He whirled to run after Omi and Nagi, but a Pureblood's fist caught him directly in the face, and he went down.
Nagi looked small and helpless where he'd fallen, his clothes smoking. Jenell, standing over him, quickly shot out her hand when Omi appeared. A jagged bolt of lightning came forth, and Omi threw himself quickly to the side as it crackled overhead, striking the ceiling. Chunks of concrete rained down, and Omi cried out in pain as one of them struck him in his back.
Nagi's face screwed up with concentration as he focused on Jenell, who was swinging her arm towards Omi again with a delighted grin on her face. An instant later she flew to the end of the small cul-de-sac and struck the back wall with a crunch. Nagi immediately collapsed, vomitting. Jenell's horrible scream of pain and fury made Omi clap his hands over his ears. He scrambled over to his lover after a moment, putting a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder as he continued to heave. It was too dark to tell if Nagi was vomitting blood again, but Omi wasn't planning on sticking around long to let that happen. He pulled his crossbow's shoulder strap on once Nagi seemed to be finished and pulled one of the boy's arms around his shoulder, trying not to jolt his own dislocated shoulder.
"Come on, Nagi," he panted, struggling to pull the slender boy to his feet. "Let's get you out of here."
An enormous explosion of lightning erupted from behind, sailing over their heads and striking the ceiling close to the exit. Omi pushed Nagi to the ground and covered him with his own body as concrete and rocks began to hail down. Water suddenly sprayed down from a broken water pipe, turning the dust into a muddy film.
Jenell's high-pitched giggles sounded vicious and almost hysterical over the sound of tumbling stone. "You two aren't going anywhere! But look on the bright side: you get to die slowly- together!"
Omi lifted his head, squinting in the dust and spraying water, and craned his head to see over his shoulder. His heart leapt into his throat when he realized the rocks were effectively covering the entrance. He turned back around quickly, staring at Jenell in horror. Was she really so insane that she would die along with them just to make sure the job was done?
Then something shifted in one of the walls, and Birman stepped through the solid stone, wrinkling her nose at the dust and the loud rumbling.
Jenell grinned at the two boys impishly, wiggling her fingers in cheerful farewell. "Have fun, kiddies!" she snickered, skipping over to Birman.
Omi's mind went practically blank with fear for a moment.
No way would Nagi be able to muster enough of his power to move all that rubble aside. They would be trapped, with dwindling air, unless someone could move all those rocks soon.
Birman had pulled Jenell to her in preparation to pull her through the concrete wall. Omi felt a rush of sudden anger. He swung his crossbow up and had fired in an instant.
The arrow thudded home in Birman's breast. She fell back against the wall with a startled grunt, her eyes flaring wide in shock and pain. She stared in horror at Omi's grim face over Jenell's head, her hand flying up to touch the arrow. She tried to speak, and choked. Jenell was screeching at her, but Birman seemed not to hear. Her hand fell to her side, and she slid down the wall to sit down heavily. She gave one last rattling breath and died.
Jenell's screeches stopped, and a heavy silence fell as the German stared down in numb horror at the dead woman as she slowly realized that her escape plan had been ruined.
Omi gave a sigh of relief and started to reach out on the net to contact Farfarello. Surely with his strength he could easily move all the rocks aside and free them.
As he touched the Irishman's thoughts on the web, he caught the general gist of what the man was doing, and took in a sharp breath.
"He's fighting Felix," he murmured.
Nagi shifted underneath him, his breathing sounding labored. Omi pulled back a little to look down at him in sudden concern. The boy's face was pale and soaked with sweat. He was shuddering as if he was cold, and his eyes looked haunted. Omi swallowed back a lump of fear, clutching his lover's shoulder. "Nagi?"
The smaller boy gave a very faint smile. "Felix? That was bound to happen.. sooner or later. He's the one that almost killed Farf.. last time." His eyes wandered over towards Jenell, who was still staring dumbly down at Birman. "Don't call him," he whispered.
Omi took in a shaky breath, his heart pounding. "But he can move the rocks," he protested. "We have to get you out of here.."
"Why? So Jenell can cook him the instant he breaks through?" Nagi shook his head slowly. "Besides, you can't distract him right now. Felix will kill him if you do."
"We'll wait until after he's done with Felix, then," Omi said weakly. He tried to ignore the dread seeping over him.
"When he's done with Felix, he'll have his hands full with Malachi," Nagi reminded him quietly, meeting his gaze.
Omi stared at him in silence. Slowly he reached out and picked up his lover's casted arm. He traced with his thumb the heart he had doodled there earlier and the words "Property of Tsukiyono Omi". Nagi watched him trace the words and glanced up at him with a rare, small smile. Omi found he couldn't swallow past the sudden lump in his throat.
Jenell suddenly seemed to remember they were there. She whirled around, looking like a trapped animal. Hatred blazed in her bright green eyes. "You stupid little brats!" she shrieked. "I'll kill you!"
"Omi-" Nagi gasped, going rigid in fear, his hair plastered to his head by the water.
Omi snatched up his crossbow again, his heart giving a lurch of terrified realization. "Jenell, you idiot, don't!!" he shouted desperately.
She threw the lightning at them.
It struck them both, and jolted through them into the standing water underneath them from the broken pipe.
Electricity blazed, sending vicious currents through the three young assassins with deadly force.
Aya had only heard Schuldich scream once before-- when Omi had erased his Salem persona five months ago during the fight with Agammedo.
The sound had frightened her, and sparked a painful chord within her that such a proud man should suffer so much. She had hoped to never hear that sound again.
They had just rounded the corner and found Ran facing off against Kiki and Manx. Manx was shrugging hurriedly out of her burning jacket, tossing it aside. Ran had started towards her again and Schuldich had put Aya aside to head off the furious pyro. Ran seemed to notice him in that instant, and hesitated, glaring at him.
Schuldich froze midstep, his eyes opening wide, seeing nothing. Aya stared at him in confusion, wondering what on earth was wrong with him. Then she realized it must be something on the link, and wondered anxiously if something bad was going on back at the fight. She started to ask if something had happened to Farfarello--
And then he screamed.
It was more of a howl than a scream, but the fury and the pain were there, just like last time. Aya jumped, giving a little cry of surprise at the sound, and the other three stared in surprise.
The telepath staggered, clutching his head, his eyes shut tight and his teeth clenched. He was shaking badly. He sent out a mental jab so strong Aya gasped as it touched her own mind. Manx, Kiki, and Ran flinched in surprise as well.
Aya's heart froze in her chest.
Schuldich sent the call out again, louder and more ferocious, as if warning the other boy that he would beat the hell out of him if he didn't respond.
Aya stood trembling, staring at the German in dawning horror. There must have been no response, because Schuldich made a strange sound in his throat and turned away abruptly, looking around wildly. His eyes were burning with hatred and a glint of fear.
Aya didn't need to be told to understand what had happened.
Nagi's mind was no longer on the link. Schuldich had felt the boy's mind rip away.
Nagi was gone.
She looked up at the German to ask the dreaded question, but her voice wouldn't work. Something was-- off. He wasn't looking at her, and his ragged bangs were in his face, but for one insane moment she imagined his eyes had...changed.
Then Ran's eyes focused on her, and narrowed dangerously.
"Fujimiya," he growled. "Shi-ne." He stalked towards her, his sword in his left hand, flames dancing on his right arm. She stumbled back, her mind still spinning. She realized in that instant that there was no way she could fight her brother. No way she could hurt him.
Ran reached her then, and she squeezed her eyes shut in preparation for the blow she knew was coming.
She heard Schuldich whirl suddenly, his coat flapping, and heard Ran make a noise of surprise. She opened her eyes in confusion.
Schuldich was between her and Ran, his hands pressed against either side of Ran's head. The redhead tried to jerk back reflexively, then snarled a curse and ran Schuldich through with his katana.
Aya screamed in horror, feeling her heart shatter like glass.
Schuldich grunted, but didn't let go. He glared furiously into Ran's startled eyes from an inch away, his fingers digging into the crimson hair. He gritted his teeth and put his forehead to Ran's.
Aya was close enough to feel something brush her mind like an aftershock, sending an aching pain through her bones. Ran stiffened in Schuldich's grasp, his eyes flaring and his breath hitching in panic.
He gave a strangled cry of pain, trying to wrench away, but Schuldich was surprisingly strong. They were both shaking, Schuldich's eyes shut tight with the effort. Aya felt a stab of terror as blood leaked from the German's ears.
Ran screamed again, and Schuldich abruptly released him. They both staggered back away from each other and fell hard. Aya fell to her knees and gathered Schuldich's head into her lap, sobbing harshly. "Schuldich!" she wailed. "Schuldich!"
Manx raced over and crouched by Ran. She pulled his bloody sword away from his limp hand and tossed it several feet away before checking his pulse. She blew a quiet sigh of relief. "He's alive," she murmured. "Just unconscious." She looked up, giving Aya a sympathetic look. "Is he..?"
Aya was rocking back and forth, her arms wrapped around the telepath as she murmured meaningless encouragement and comfort in his ear. His chest was heaving with deep breaths, his face ashen.
Kiki took a hesitant step towards them, gun wavering.
Ran's face screwed up, and he shifted, groaning a little. His eyes fluttered open, and Manx drew back a little, wary. He stared up at her in confusion for a moment. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse. "Manx?"
Manx gaped at him. Aya looked up slowly, her vision blurry with tears.
Ran slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position, wincing and touching his head carefully. He focused on Aya and stared at her in surprise. "Aya-chan," he said wonderingly. "What are you doing here?"
"Idiot," Schuldich rasped, eyes still closed.
Aya felt a joyous laugh bubble in her throat, and almost choked on her tears. "Oniisan!"
The link was down.
Farfarello stumbled a little in the middle of his fight, a sudden fear shooting through his veins.
Why would Schuldich bring down the link unless...?
His thoughts on his partner's likely demise were interrupted as Felix came at him again, swinging his improvised spear. It was a lengthened pipe, sharpened at the ends. Farfarello dodged nimbly, swinging his knife and knocking the pipe aside. The blow jarred his arm, and he snarled in the Englishman's face.
"I bet it's a pain in the ass getting through airport security," Felix jeered. "How's the no-pain thing doing for you, freak?"
Farfarello shoved the pipe aside with his blade, darting to the side and slashing at the older man. Felix ducked to avoid the blow. "Rosenkreuz isn't going to save you this time," he growled in promise.
Felix sneered, jabbing with his spear. Farfarello jumped back. "Cocky son of a bitch, aren't you. As I recall, scarface, you're the one who was gasping his last bloody breaths when Rosenkreuz rode in to save your sorry ass."
Farfarello bared his teeth in a demonic smile. "I wasn't being Fed then," he reminded his enemy. He rushed forward, hacking with his long knife. Felix stumbled back under the sudden assualt, blocking hastily with his pipe. All around them the fight raged on, practically unnoticed as the two of them settled old hatreds in a vicious dance of death.
Crawford found his way to Iragadachi blocked by Yohji.
The younger man glared at him, pointing his watch threateningly at him. "Not so fast, gaijin," he snapped. "That's as far as you go."
Crawford gazed cooly at him for an instant, his mouth a tight line. "I'd kill you," he said calmly, "if you weren't Schuldich's. You're lucky I owe him."
Yohji frowned at him in confusion. "Wha-"
Crawford had been aiming at him with his handgun, distracting him. Abruptly he swung his other arm up with blurring speed, cracking his cane against the side of the blond's head. Yohji collapsed with a grunt.
Crawford lifted his gaze from the fallen assassin to meet his foe's calm stare. "Iragadachi," he greeted quietly.
The Eraser's eyes narrowed slightly, his nervousness betrayed by the sweat on his brow. He was aiming his own gun at Crawford. They stood frozen in a showdown, fingers hesitating over the triggers.
Iragadachi offered a tight little smile. "Why don't we settle this like men, Crawford?" he suggested. "You're a boxer, right? Let's see if you've gotten rusty over the years."
Crawford's eyes narrowed. "You want to find out?" he murmured.
Iragadachi nodded slightly. "We put our guns down on the count of three. Then you show me if your father was right about how useless you are."
Crawford's face went abruptly blank and uncaring. "Very well."
Slowly the two men began to crouch to put their guns on the ground, eyes locked.
"One," Iragadachi murmured. "..Two..." The guns touched the blood-spattered ground. "Three."
They released their guns at the same instant. Iragadachi's other hand moved almost too fast to see, whipping a hidden gun free from his inner jacket pocket.
The gunshot sounded loud even over the sound of the raging war.
Crawford stood over the body of his foe, his eyes as cold as ice. The gun he'd dropped from up his sleeve was smoking from the shot. "Did you forget, Iragadachi-sama?" he murmured to the dead man. "I learned treachery from the best."
He turned his back on the body and lifted Yohji's unconscious form with a grunt, throwing him over his shoulder like a rag doll. He looked around for Tsukiyono, but forgot his initial plan when he saw the small group coming in at the back of the fight. It was Schuldich and Aya, along with the other two women. But it was Ran that Crawford spotted first.
Crawford almost dropped Yohji at the sight of his partner. Partly because he could tell that Ran was himself again, if his furious hacking at the Purebloods was anything to go off of.
And partly because he'd never seen the other man dressed in such tight, form-flattering clothes. Crawford realized his mouth was hanging open and shut it with a click of teeth.
He shook himself and tried to find Tsukiyono on the web. He realized belatedly that it was down. Frowning slightly, he tried to reach Schuldich instead. His frown deepened when he got no response. A trickle of unease seeped through him. Even without the link, Schuldich should still be able to hear him. Maybe Schuldich was ignoring him again. Shrugging it off, he forced himself through the fight to meet up with the German.
Ken gritted his teeth, wiping blood from his eyes as he looked around swiftly, his chest heaving. Still no sign of Malachi. Every now and then he caught a glimpse of Park, but so far Malachi hadn't bothered to make an appearance. Raphael had "dibs" on Park, but he kept getting thwarted whenever he started to home in on the older Vamp. Park didn't even notice; he seemed to be focused on something intently, pushing and beating his way through the throng as if he had a specific goal in mind. Ken punched a Pureblood right between the eyes and followed the American Lord's gaze to see what had distracted him.
He laughed out loud with relief when he discovered what the Vampire was so intent on. It was Ran, hacking his way through the Purebloods with a vengeance, with Schuldich at his back. Ken's laughter died before it even reached his mouth as he realized that the small form kept protectively between the two men was Aya.
What in the HELL was she doing here??
Ken reversed his course; Farfarello could deal with Felix. He had to intercept Park before he got to his intended victims. They hadn't even noticed the Lord's approach yet. He tried to call out to Schuldich over the link, but got nothing in response. "God damn it," he muttered irritably, elbowing a Vampire in the gut. "Out of the way!"
"Schu-san," Aya gasped, once again reaching out to steady the German when he stumbled. "You can't keep fighting like this! You need to get to a doctor..."
"I'm fine," he growled from behind clenched teeth, his eyes burning. "He didn't hit anything important... I think."
Ran flicked an ashamed look over his shoulder, but didn't have the chance to apologize for running his teammate through. A Pureblood appeared in front of him, glowering. "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" he demanded indignantly. "Whose side are you--"
The pyro ran him through without even stopping to listen to the rest of the demand. The Vampire screeched and went up in a puff of black smoke. Abruptly Ran came to a halt, his eyes first widening, then narrowing in deadly hate. "Park," he hissed.
Aya looked around and quickly spotted the Vampire Lord coming their way. "Park? That's the guy who--"
"Who what?" Ran interrupted with a suspicious and haunted glance.
Aya throttled the rest of her sentence and corrected herself hastily. "Who.. had you and Yohji captured," she said weakly. Perhaps this was not the best time to let him know that Jenell had filled her in on Park's sick obsession, she reflected dryly. As she looked back towards the unimpressive-looking Vampire, she felt hatred churn in her gut. This man... this man had made advances on her brother and done lord knows what to him. He had put that haunted look in her brother's eyes.
Then he was there.
It was so sudden it took them all by surprise. He'd found an open path in between the writhing, fighting bodies, and flickered through with a speed that surpassed even Schuldich's. He stood before Ran, gazing at him calmly while Ran stood in mingled shock and fear.
The man's arm moved like a blur, and Ran's sword flew from his already injured arm, clattering to the floor several feet away. Ran hissed with pain and took half a step back. Schuldich was engaged with another Pureblood, struggling with it hand to hand. Park ignored the gaping girl just beside her brother, dismissing her as unimportant as he reached forward and wrapped one strong hand around the pyro's throat.
"I see you've turned against us, little matchstick," Park murmured over Ran's choking gasps. "Oh, and before you try to turn me into a walking bonfire, might I remind you that I'm too old for your flames to kill me?" He lifted his arm slowly, and Ran went with it, his feet dangling off the ground as he strove frantically to tug the hand from his throat.
"Ran!!" Crawford's shout came from nearby, but he didn't have a clear line of fire, his aim off due to someone tucked against his body. Park ignored him, though Ran's eyes shot to the side at the sound of his partner's voice.
He tried to speak, and choked. "Cr.."
"No matter," Park murmured, his eyes hooded as he examined his captive's face. "Iragadachi will fix things again, and this time you will be-"
"Excuse me," Aya said indignantly.
The Vampire blinked, turning his head to stare at her, nonplussed.
"That's my brother you're choking," Aya pointed out helpfully.
And slammed her fist into the man's stomach, burying the silver-plated bugnuk claws in deep.
Park roared in enraged pain, tossing Ran aside like a sack of potatoes. He seized Aya by the arm and ripped her away, his fangs hanging past his lower lip as he hissed at her in pure rage, his eyes lit red. Aya felt blinding terror for an instant. The wound was smoking terribly, but his age seemed to be slowing his death. He would have more than enough time to tear her apart before the black fire took him.
Something erupted from his chest, nearly striking Aya, and she gasped. Park blinked slowly, looking surprised... then suddenly burst into black flames. Aya fell heavily to the floor with a loud grunt and squinted up through the smoke at her savior.
Crawford yanked his silver-tipped cane from the heap of ash, panting from his race to reach them in time, though his face remained as calm and collected as always.
"Crawford," she breathed in relief. "Arigato."
He nodded, eyes flicking up as someone came up behind Aya. She felt a strong hand seize her under her arm and haul her upwards. She pushed against the floor with her heels helpfully and turned to look at the German anxiously. "My brother-- where is he? Where's Ran?"
"Went flying that way," Schuldich said shortly with a nod in the direction the pyro had been thrown. His face was ashen from the blood loss. "He saw Crawdad save your retarded ass and started fighting again."
For the first time Aya noticed the slumped figure at Crawford's feet. She realized belatedly she'd seen the older man hauling someone with him through the crowd. She squatted down to inspect the unconscious man and gave a cry of delight. "Yohji!"
Schuldich was down on the ground beside her in a flash, his eyes sharp and his mouth a tight line. He seized the man's shoulders and gave him a light shake. "Well?" he demanded harshly. "Is it Kudou or that Silk fruitcake?"
"Still Silk," Crawford admitted, driving his elbow into a Pureblood's nose with enough force to shatter the bone. "I can't find Tsukiyono. Or Nagi for that matter. Why is the link down?"
Schuldich didn't seem too interested in explaining, so Aya did it for him. "He brought Ran back," she said quickly, her face concerned as she looked up at the American. "Somehow he brought him back from being Ash. I think he used his telepathy. But now..."
"Can't make it work," Schuldich grumbled, not looking up. "Can't hear shit." He took a deep breath, his shoulders tense. "Besides, I already know where Nagi and Tsukiyono are," he added quietly.
"Where?" Crawford demanded quickly, firing his gun at a couple Purebloods. "We need Tsukiyono to return Kudou to--"
Crawford paused, staring down at Schuldich with a carefully emotionless face. "What?" he asked softly after a long moment of tense silence.
"You heard me," Schuldich snarled, still refusing to look up. "They're gone." His voice was slightly strained. "I felt them when they..." he trailed off, his entire body tense as a wire.
Aya bit her lip and blinked hard to keep back tears, staring hard at Yohji's face. Don't think about it, she thought fiercely. Don't think about it or it could get you killed. Besides, maybe he's wrong, maybe they both just got knocked unconscious...
Crawford didn't respond. He merely stared down at Schuldich in silence, his face unreadable. Aya, watching him carefully, thought she saw a quick flicker of pain in his eyes, and a twitch of his mouth-- then his uncaring mask was smoothly back in place. His eyes flickered over Schuldich's huddled body, taking in the blood all over his clothes. "Take Kudou," he ordered quietly. "Get out of here. Lock him up somewhere and get yourself to a hospital. You're losing too much blood. Go with him, Aya." He turned away.
"Where are you going?" Aya demanded.
"To find Ran," he said over his shoulder, and made his way back into the thick of the fight.
Aya looked around and blinked. "Uh, Schu...? Where are Kiki and Manx?"
Schuldich glanced around distractedly. "Probably shooting up a bunch of Purebloods, how the fuck should I kn-"
Just then Yohji came to. Aya and Schuldich, both looking the other way, didn't notice until too late. In an instant he had his wire whipped out and looped around Aya's throat. She gurgled in shock, clawing desperately at the deadly steel.
Schuldich lurched back a little on his heel, taken off guard. "Kudou," he growled in surprised irritation. "What the fuck--"
Yohji scrambled to his feet, and Aya hastily followed to prevent loss of her head. The blond was looking around furiously, panting a little. "Nice try," he snapped. "Trying to get me while I'm down? What have you done with Ash?"
Schuldich surged to his feet. "Who the fuck is-"
"He's fine," Aya gasped quickly, still struggling in vain to get her fingers under the taut wire. Her voice quavered. "Yohji, please don't do this..."
It took him a moment to realize she was talking to him. "My name's Silk," he said fiercely. "You're the one who helped kill Ash's family. Where is he??"
Schuldich's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Ran," he said with emphasis, "is fine, you twit. Now calm the fuck down and get the wire off her before you do something you'll regret later."
Yohji glared at him over Aya's head. "You think I like the idea of killing a young girl?" he demanded harshly. "But guess what? If Ash wants his revenge against her, so be it."
"Fine-- take me to him," Aya babbled. "Go ahead. I'm not afraid of him."
"You should be," Yohji advised. He scowled at Schuldich, tightening the wire slightly. Aya gagged. "Back off, Schwarz."
His eyes smoldering, Schuldich took two slow steps back.
Yohji glanced around quickly for his partner and breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing him-- then stiffened in surprise. Aya twisted her eyes sideways to see what was upsetting him.
Her brother was fighting back-to-back with the Jackal, cutting down Purebloods by the dozen.
"What... what the hell is he doing?" Yohji squeaked, then gave a short gasp of rage at what happened next.
Crawford had reached them. He touched Ran on the shoulder to get his attention, calmly blocking the instinctive sword swing with his cane. When Ran recognized him, he lowered his sword, and for an instant the two men simply locked gazes. A slow flush worked its way up her brother's neck, and a strange mix of emotions flashed across his face. Shame, gratitude, warmth, and fear. Crawford flexed his hand on the younger man's shoulder in a comforting squeeze, then the two were fighting the oncoming Vampires.
Aya was expecting betrayed anger from Yohji; after all, he must be thinking "Ash" had turned to the other side or something. But his reaction was more akin to a jealous lover's than a betrayed teammate.
He made a strange noise in the back of his throat and abruptly loosened his wire, slipping it back over Aya's head. He pushed her into Schuldich, who caught her clumsily with a curse.
"Kudou!" Schuldich shouted angrily. "Get back here!"
"Yohji!" Aya cried desperately. "Wait!"
The blond assassin didn't seem to hear. He fought his way fiercely through the packed crowd towards his partner. Aya pushed herself away from Schuldich and tried to follow. The telepath snatched her arm and jerked her back just before a snarling Pureblood crushed her face in with a swinging fist. "Get out of here," Schuldich growled impatiently, barely sparing her a glance. "I'll take care of Kudou."
Schuldich staggered under the weight of a Pureblood as it bowled into him, his stab wound making him weaker. He grunted, struggling to keep his feet and fend off the gnashing fangs at the same time. Aya shrieked in fear.
Abruptly the Vampire went up in dark smoke, and Schuldich almost collapsed from the sudden loss of weight. He coughed, waving the smoke hastily from his gaze as he squinted at his savior.
Himeno offered a dry smile, her garotte held tightly in both hands. "You're slacking, Mastermind."
Schuldich stared at her for a long moment before offering a fleeting mockery of his usual carefree smile. "I hope you don't expect me to thank you for that, you prissy bitch."
"If you had, I'd be in shock," Himeno agreed sardonically, calmly backhanding another Pureblood as it came up behind her.
"What are you doing back here, anyway?" Schuldich demanded, glancing around. "I thought you lot were up there at the front going after Rosenkreuz."
"I am," Himeno said firmly. "Crawford took out Iragadachi, but Souma was headed this way-- perhaps to retreat."
"Schuldich!" Aya interrupted with a gasp, seizing his jacket sleeve to get his attention.
The half-blood and the telepath turned quickly to see where she was pointing.
"There he is," Himeno said needlessly, but the light-heartedness had gone from her tone. Without another word she bulled her way back into the throng, fighting twice as fiercely to get to the man before he reached his destination-- the stairs.
Which had been effectively blocked by the Jackal and Ran as they wheeled about, striking at any that tried to escape.
"Oniisan," Aya whimpered. This time when she began to push her way through the fight, Schuldich didn't stop her. He came behind her, firing at any who came too close.
"Ash!" Silk punched a Turned in the face and kicked him impatiently aside as he struggled to get closer to his partner and the two men fighting at his side. "Ash!!"
The redhead seemed to hear him and glanced his way, his eyes widening slightly in surprise. "Yohji," he shouted, "don't! Fight the Purebloods--"
Silk was too confused, hurt, and angry to pay any heed. He pushed aside several Purebloods and lunged at the man weilding the broadsword with a cry of fury.
"NO!!" Ran shrieked when the Irishman whirled around to lop Silk in two.
Comprehension lit in steely gray eyes an instant before contact, and the man swiftly yanked his blow further up, giving Silk just enough room to duck it. Not realizing at first that the miss had been deliberate, Silk drove his elbow into the man's face with a snarl. The Jackal stumbled back, momentarily blinded by the pain. His grunt of surprise turned into a sudden loud gasp of agony as the Pureblood he'd run into seized his own sword and twisted it back upon its owner with a hiss of triumph.
Aya's shrill scream came from nearby. "TOMAS!!"
The Jackal's eyes were wide with surprise as he slowly looked down at the sword impaling him. He staggered a few steps forward before falling heavily to his knees, still clutching the hilt. He looked up at Silk with shock in his eyes.
"Yohji, no," Ran was gasping, reaching out to grasp the blond's arm. "What did you do??"
Silk stared at him blankly.
"He isn't Kudou, yet," Crawford said curtly, firing point-blank into a Pureblood's face. He twisted around to punch another one hard enough to shatter its jaw. "We think Tsukiyono is--"
"Fujimiya," the Jackal croaked from bloodied lips, his eyes wide with warning. Ran turned, looking over his shoulder to see what the other man was staring at.
Aiming a gun at him from mere yards away, his face tight with grim determination.
I thought, Ran idled dazedly, you were supposed to see your life flash before your eyes when you die.
Then a heavy body was knocking into him, throwing him into Crawford and out of the way. Something flashed before his vision, the back of his rescuer.
The sound of the gun going off made Ran's breath freeze in his throat as he recognized at last the presence that had pushed him aside.
Silk stood before him, arms outstretched like a living shield.
Ran could only watch numbly as slowly the blond assassin sank to his knees, his arms dropping by his side. For a moment the fighting seemed to still or slow as heads turned to see what all the commotion was about. Or perhaps it was just his own perception.
As Ran watched his friend's body fall sideways, jade eyes fluttering shut, the world as he knew it seemed to erupt in flames.
Aya had turned away with a scream of horror, unable to watch the horrible act. As the shot rang out, her gaze locked on Schuldich's face, and it was then that she finally saw the momentary change she thought she'd seen when Nagi's mind had been torn from the web.
Schuldich's eyes were no longer green, but a brillant blue.
They looked like shattered glass.
Author's Notes: Don't kill the pitiful authoress XD; I told you bad things were coming... luckily I was in a rotten enough mood to get it done. o_O; *runs and hides*
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