Ch. 18: "Hermes"

Disclaimer: WK does not belong to me. Neither do the lyrics that proceed each chapter- they're taken from various songs from the "Queen of the Damned" soundtrack. Any songs from different sources will have a disclaimer at the bottom. Don't sue. =pp

My fear is fading I can’t speak it
Or else you will dig my grave

"They're still following us."
Crawford did not bother to look in his rearview mirror. "I'm aware of that, Schuldich."
The German twisted his head slightly to look at the blue Toyota following them two cars behind. "Ch'... How do they expect to be sneaky when I can hear them broadcasting their thoughts loud as hell?"
Crawford didn't answer. He turned on his right blinker and took an exit off the freeway. The Toyota followed. "Is it the Hunters?"
"Ja. Pesky little roaches, aren't they?" Shuldich sighed, reclining in his seat, seatbelt ignored. He put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. "They're hoping we're going to lead them to Farfie- or even better, to the bloodsuckers."
"Too bad for them," Crawford murmured. "We'll lose them in-" His voice broke off and he fell forward slightly, the wheel jerking to the left and sending them into the next lane. A horn blared angrily behind them.
"Jesus!" Schuldich cursed, leaping forward to yank Crawford back by his collar in one hand and seizing the wheel in the other. He pulled the wheel straight. "Watch it!!" A hand reached out and wrapped around the wheel below his, and he glanced up at the American.
Crawford shook his head slightly. "Let go. It's passed."
"Geez..." Schuldich withdrew and hastily buckled his seatbelt, glowering at the composed man. "I wish you could control those fucking visions. What did you see?" He glanced towards the rearview mirror. The Hunters were still on their tail.
Crawford didn't say anything for a moment, going through his thoughts, wading through the mental images that had thrown themselves at him and nearly caused him to crash their car. His mouth twitched in a frown.
Schuldich crossed his arms, arching a brow at the other man's obvious reluctance to share. "Something bad?"
"Personal," Crawford corrected calmly.
"Oh-ho..." Schuldich grinned. "Really. How nice. C'mon, spill."
Crawford offered him a cool, sidelong glance, and said nothing.
Schuldich grumbled, but he knew better than to push the American. He returned to gazing out at the scenery, idly picking at the minds of the two Hunters who followed them, slowly imbedding the thought in their minds that they should give up the chase- maybe go get a burger or something. It wasn't likely to work, but it was always worth a shot.
Crawford continued to drive, mulling over his personal thoughts, mouth still pulled in a slight frown.
This was the first time in a long time he had doubted one of his visions. The images showed something he found unlikely of ever occuring.
A shout of warning, Aya turning, helpless to ward off what he knew was coming... And then....
Crawford shook his head.
Why in god's name would he take a blow meant for Abysinnian of Weiß?


Ken decided it would be best not to practice with Aya while the redhead was in such a sour mood. He sought out Omi and Yohji to see if he could help them figure out the playboy's strange Gift.
He found them in the kitchen. Yohji was retrieving a carton of milk from the fridge. He turned and walked over to Omi, offering it. His motions were lethargic, his gaze unfocused. Omi had Possessed him.
Omi accepted the milk and chewed on his lip thoughtfully. He noticed Ken watching and offered a nervous smile. "Oh, hi, Ken-kun. I was just trying to figure out how to get him off this Possessed thing."
Ken sat down at the table to watch. "Maybe you have to touch him again?"
"Hm..." Omi reached out and touched Yohji's forehead, frowning with concentration. Yohji blinked and shook his head. "Oi... that was weird," he said, taking a wary step back. "I don't like that."
"Do you remember it?" Omi inquired.
Yohji frowned, thinking. After a moment he nodded. "I got you a cup and some milk, right?"
Omi grinned back and poured himself a glass of milk. "Okay... so it takes a minute for the person to remember what they did." He frowned slightly. "I wish I knew how to make it so they don't remember."
Ken fiddled with the burnt napkin holder. "Why?"
"That could be really useful," Omi replied, putting the carton back in the fridge. "Imagine if I wanted a target to go upstairs and kill another of his men. I wouldn't want him to remember and come after me, right?"
"Oh, yeah." Ken scratched at the side of his nose.
"If you can make someone do what you tell them to, can't you tell someone to forget?" Yohji asked, sprawling in a chair. He rubbed absently at his forehead.
"Good idea," Omi agreed, then looked closer at the older man. "Daijabou, Yohji-kun?"
"Yeah... just a little headache."
"Do you want some painkillers?"
"No, it's nothing big. It'll be gone soon." He shrugged. "So how the hell do we figure out what my thing is?"
Ken held up a finger. "We know that you leapt that big distance like nothing, right? So it's possible that's what your Gift is- jumping."
"That's useless," Yohji scoffed.
Ken shrugged helplessly. "You have a better idea of what it is?"
"I could look around a bit," Omi offered. "See if I can hack into some Kritiker files. They have to have at least some information on Gifts."
"Can you do that?" Ken asked, a little surprised.
Omi smiled winningly. "Give me two hours."

Omi headed into the basement and seated himself at his desk, typing in the password and logging in. He opened his chat program and typed a message, leaning back to wait, hoping the other person was online.
Kitten13 You on?
A moment later he got a response.
Quake_36 Yes.
Omi smiled and began typing rapidly. Screw Kritiker- If anyone would know how to get information on Talents, it would be one of Schwarz's own members.
Kitten13 I need some help getting information on Playboy's gift. Is Mastermind around?
Quake_36 No, he left awhile ago. No one's home but me. I'll help you.
Kitten13 Thanks. This is what we know about the gift so far...

Half an hour later Omi leaned back in his chair, chewing on his lip pensively. Nagi worked fast and efficiently, and using Omi as a backboard to bounce suggestions and 'symptoms' off of, they had pinpointed the most likely name for Yohji's strange Gift.
"Hermes," Omi murmured, gazing at the files the other boy had sent him. He leaned forward again and typed,
Kitten13 Thanks a lot. I don't think Playboy would have been able to figure it out on his own.
Quake_36 No problem. What are you doing tonight?
Omi felt his cheeks warm up, but couldn't help but smile.
Kitten13 I don't know. I'll drop you a line if I'm free.
Quake_36 All right. I'm not doing anything but looking up information on the V Lord anyway.
Omi raised his eyebrows. The V Lord. Agemmedo? Nagi never made mistakes in letting information slip; he had wanted Omi to know what he was doing. He tapped a slender finger against his lips. He had also said he was the only one home.
Did that mean Schwarz was already making a move in this bloody War that the awakening of their Gifts had started? Were the other three out right now, tracking down this Agemmedo guy?
Quake_36 I'd better go. Mastermind could call anytime now and catch a stray thought.
Kitten13 All right. See you later.
Quake_36 Ja.
Omi printed the fact sheets and logged off. Yohji walked down at that moment, and he hastily closed his laptop, collecting the papers from the printer and smiling at the older man. "Is the headache gone?"
"Yeah, I told you it was nothing." Yohji flopped down on the couch and rooted through the cushion cracks for the remote. "Find anything?"
"Aa." Omi plopped down on the couch beside him, flipping through the papers, eyes skimming the print for the parts that were most important.
"That was fast," Yohji said, a little surprised. He gave up his search for the remote. "How do you do it?"
Omi smiled secretly and ignored the question. "Where's Ken-kun?"
"Watering the plants out front."
"He shouldn't be alone outside," Omi fretted.
"He'll be fine," Yohji scoffed, waving a hand impatiently. "Ken can take care of himself. So what'd you find?"
Omi nodded reluctantly and turned back to Nagi's research. "It's called 'Hermes'."
"Hermes," Omi explained. "Like the Greek god- the messenger with winged feet."
"Appropriate," Yohji said drolly.
Omi nodded, eyes on the paper. "It's not as useless a Gift as you'd think. Jumping great distances isn't the only thing you can do- it seems that the Gift gives you temporary weightlessness. You can't fly, but it makes things like jumping much easier." He lifted the paper to study the one beneath it. "There were some studies done on other users of Hermes. The farthest length one of them ever leapt- on the record -was twenty-five feet. So you were pushing it, Yohji-kun."
"Lovely," Yohji sighed. "What else?"
"There was also a case where one female user walked over a bed of needles without so much as scratching the soles of her feet," Omi read, brow furrowing a little in thought. "More of that weightlessness thing. Oh- and she did it carrying a woman almost twice her weight."
Yohji arched a brow. "So this 'weightlessness' affects anything I pick up?"
"Looks like it. But be careful before you go walking over any needles," Omi teased lightly. "The longest it's lasted has been thirty seconds."
Yohji winced. "Wonder how they found that out."
Omi nodded in sympathy of the test subject, shuddering at the thought of the girl walking over longer and longer beds of needles until finally her Gift quieted and she fell...
"Urgh." He blinked fast to clear the image from his mind's eye. "Anyway, those are the most interesting things on file. Oh, and the Gift's a rare one."
"I feel special," Yohji said sarcastically.


Ken twisted the knob on the hose, waiting for the trickle coming from its end to turn into a steady stream. Putting his thumb over the tip to cause the water to spray wider, he walked down the row of larger plants that sat outside the shop. To the casual observer he was just a young man enjoying the early afternoon weather. On the inside, however, his emotions and thoughts were in a turmoil.
Schwarz and Weiß. Allies.
It was just too fucking weird to be believable. He had never thought he would ever be forced to look at the four murderers as temporary teammates, and the thought made him scowl inwardly. He knew that of all of them, Aya was the most displeased. He held a simmering dislike of the clairvoiyant and an intense hatred for the German who had laughed that night so long ago while he had cradled his unconscious sister's form in his arms amid the rubble. [1]
Omi- as shocking as the concept was -seemed to be.. dating Nagi Naoe of all people, so he might not be as against this idea as the rest of them were. And Yohji... who knew what the older man thought about the whole thing? He was unhappy, to be sure, but... something about the way he flushed whenever Schuldich grinned at him made Ken wonder.
And as for Ken himself...
His mouth twitched in a frown as he gave a young potted tree special attention with the hose water. He hated Schwarz. Plain and simple. He hated all of them. Schuldich disgusted him, Nagi was creepy, Crawford was an arrogant asshole, and Farfarello...
That man scared the shit out of him.
But at the same time, he admitted to himself, the crazed Irishman brought out his temper. His anger and irrational irritation towards the albino sometimes seemed to override his fear, and he wondered if it was because he had been spared by the Berserker three times in the past week. Or had it been four? Whatever the case, he couldn't let himself get cocky. The bleach-haired man seemed to have taken a sudden interest in Ken's impending death, and as for this 'pet' business... That was probably nothing pretty.
"Chewtoy, ne...?"
Ken shuddered at the memory.
Farfarello was planning to carve him up into little jerkey strips and leave him out for the stray cats, no doubt about that. He would have to watch his temper and keep his mouth shut if he wanted to survive this 'alliance'.
The twin scars on his neck gave a sudden, dull throb of pain, and he winced, reaching up with his free hand to clamp his palm over them instinctively.
Danger, his instincts whispered urgently, and he looked around carefully.
Suddenly, somehow, he knew there were vampires around.
He saw them the next instant, two of them, coming down the sidewalk towards him, grinning. He stared at them for a long moment, startled. Didn't vampires hate the sun?? They both wore sunglasses, and were dressed nicer than the bums that had attacked him before and given him...
The scars! His hand flew up to them again as they began to ache again. Masaka... did they hurt because there were vampires nearby?
"Hello, little boy," one of them sneered, approaching slowly. "The shop closed for today?"
They don't realize I know, what they are, Ken thought, and hastily masked his rising fear with a smile. "Yes, sorry. You can come back later." Please don't.
"No, I think we see what we want... right here," the one on the left drawled with a quick grin that flashed long canines for the briefest instant. His partner moved to block Ken's way to the door.
Ken turned the hose on him, pressing his thumb hard to the opening.
"Yaarrghhppppphtttt!!" The vampire stumbled back, throwing up his arms as the icy water hit him full in the face.
The other one was leaping forward, snarling, and Ken whirled, dropping the hose and stomping down on it hard to block the water's escape. He was ready this time.
He swung at the leaping man, and there was a shink! sound as his claws slid free from under his jacket sleeve. He drove the steel claws deep into his attacker's gut and twisted his hand ruthlessly, gritting his teeth as the man screamed in his ear. He shouldered the vampire aside, yanking his weapon free with a sickening wet sound, and turned to deal with the other one, who was wiping water furiously from his face.
"You little shit," he snarled, glaring at Ken venomously. He bared his fangs. "I'm going to drain you of every last drop of blood, and laugh while you scream."
Ken grinned wildly at him, the adrenaline pumping through him almost as fast as his fear. He brought his claws up in a defensive pose. "Come and get it, bloodsucker," he invited.
The vampire rushed him, and Ken lifted his foot abruptly, releasing the pressure on the hose. Water sprayed everywhere, and his attacker faltered, caught off guard.
Ken leapt forward, sweeping his arm in a deadly upward slash. "Shi-ne!" [2]

Author's Notes:
[1] This is from the manga, not the anime.
[2] Eat your heart out, Aya. ^.^;;

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