Ch. 27: "Twisted Memories"
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
The shadows that you see
Are memories of me
The truth behind your eyes
Your darkest little lie
Aya muttered curses to himself as he kicked savagely at the locked door, knocking it open. He'd gone halfway across town, up to the top floor of an apartment, abandoning his teammates to take care of the Hunters. Why?
Because Crawford had a sick sense of humor.
He'd heard the American's mental voice just as Yohji had pointed out Omi in the Cafe.
Aya. Listen carefully and make sure the others don't see you go. He'd given him the directions to the apartment, then faded away.
Aya still wasn't sure exactly why he had bothered to come. Yohji was going to be furious that he'd taken his car, but aside from that, there was no love lost between Crawford and Aya. He didn't want to help him; but the others hadn't seemed to hear the American's mental call, so what other choice did he have?
There were two men sitting at a card table playing poker, and they jumped to their feet in shock at Aya's bold entrance. One of them reached for a gun, and Aya leapt for him. He didn't have his sword, but that didn't matter.
He seized the man in a strong headlock with one arm, yanking the gun away with his free hand and firing at the other man who was running towards him, bellowing.
The man fell like a stone, and Aya dropped the gun, wrapping both arms around his gurgling captive's neck and giving a fierce wrench.
The man's neck snapped like a twig, and Aya released him distastefully, letting him fall to the ground in a heap. He snatched up the gun and headed towards the closed bedroom door, jiggling the handle. Locked. A neighbor would be sure to report the gunshot, and the cops would be here soon. Better be quick.
He booted down the door as impatiently as he had the front door, and stepped into the room warily, reaching up and flicking on the lights.
Crawford was lying on his side on a bare mattress in the middle of the room, his hands handcuffed behind his back, his mouth gagged. His feet were tied at the ankles. His glasses lay on the floor. He was watching Aya with a raised eyebrow, looking calm despite the position he was in. Any other time, Aya would have gloated at the helpless American, but he wasn't in a laughing mood right now.
We don't have all day, Aya, Crawford reminded him with vague amusement.
Aya scowled darkly at him and whirled, leaving him. He searched the pockets of the two dead men and found the small key he'd been looking for. Striding back into the room, he grabbed a fistful of Crawford's shirt and hauled him into a sitting position with a grunt. He reached up and yanked the gag down from the man's mouth, letting it hang around his neck like a bandanna, and reached around him to unlock the cuffs.
Crawford spit across the room, wrinkling his nose slightly, but was silent as Aya jiggled the key in the lock and finally drew the cuffs away, tossing them across the room. He brought his arms in front of him to rub the wrists, and found Aya holding the gun to his temple.
"No funny shit," he snarled quietly. Outside he could hear sirens.
Crawford gave him a patronizing look. "I'm not in the mood to fight, Abysinnian," he said coolly. He bent over and untied his ankles, then reached for his glasses. "Did anyone notice you leave?"
Aya scowled, stepping back but not lowering the gun, which was probably Crawford's. "No. Why the hell did you want me to come?"
Crawford pushed the ropes away and stood carefully. Aya noticed for the first time the long scratch that went across his brow. "Because," he said patiently, "the Hunters would be paying more attention to my teammates; they see us as a bigger threat. And since you don't talk much any way.." his mouth quirked, "they wouldn't notice your absence for awhile."
Aya glowered at him and said nothing.
Crawford held out a hand. "May I have my gun?"
"No." Aya took another step back. "I don't trust you."
Crawford shrugged slightly. "Suit yourself." He headed for the door. "Now if you don't mind, I'd rather leave before the cops get here." The sound of sirens was getting closer.
Aya frowned and followed him, stuffing the gun into the back of his pants and letting Crawford lead the way out of the room and down the stairs. He noticed that the American was careful not to move too fast as they walked, and wondered about it. Had he been hurt in the explosion? Schuldich had banged up his arm pretty bad-- surely Crawford hadn't escaped with just a scratch on his face.
They reached the bottom floor and Crawford turned abruptly, cornering Aya against the railing. He put his hands on the railing either side of Aya's head to prevent escape. "Now, my gun, if you please."
Aya glared up at him. "Get away from me," he spat.
Crawford's eyes narrowed, and he lowered his hand quickly, grabbing the gun where it was pressed to Aya's back.
Aya jumped, startled, and pressed his body to the rails, seizing the American's wrist. They both froze, glaring at each other.
Just then the front door burst open and three cops hurried in, heading for the stairs. Crawford glanced quickly towards them and shoved the gun further into Aya's pants, out of sight. To cover the movement, he splayed his hand across the small of Aya's back and leaned in closer. Aya went rigid, his eyes flaring wide at the contact.
One of the cops paused by them, looking hesitant and disgusted at having come across what he thought to be two gay men sharing a moment in the front hall. "Uh.. did you two gentlemen hear a gunshot just a few minutes ago?"
Aya was too numb to speak.
"We just walked in," Crawford said smoothly, running his hand lower to edge the gun a little more out of sight. Aya jumped.
The cop made a face and turned, running upstairs after his partners.
As soon as they were gone Aya shoved Crawford roughly away from him, leaping to the side. "Keep your hands off me!!" he shouted.
"Keep your voice down, you twit," Crawford said quietly. He snatched up Aya's wrist and dragged him outside. Once they were out of the building Aya wrenched free, glaring furiously at the older man.
"Spare me," Crawford cut him off, looking unfazed. "Quit acting like a skittish virgin, Abysinnian- you almost blew our cover."
"You- you-" Aya sputtered, and was horrified to feel his face heat up marginally.
Crawford watched him with interest. "Touch a nerve there, Aya?" he asked innocently.
Aya ground his teeth in helpless rage. "Keep your stupid mouth shut," he hissed. "I should just leave you here."
Crawford rolled his eyes- the bastard actually rolled his fucking eyes at him! -and strolled nonchalantly towards the car. "Or I can leave you here. Doesn't matter to me." He held up the keys over his shoulder for Aya to see.
Aya groped in his back pocket- the asshole must have stolen the keys when he'd... He flushed again. "Kisama!"
"Yes, yes, I know. Come on, Abysinnian, we haven't got all day."
Crawford froze, his shoulders going stiff at the voice.
Aya turned quickly, already reach for the gun against his back.
A man was strolling towards them on the sidewalk, hands in the pockets of a dark overcoat. He looked to be maybe in his mid to late forties, his dark hair going gray by his ears and on top. His eyes, a sharp contrast to his hair, were a vibrant, glittering blue, and they were very cold, despite the small smile on his thin lips. He was handsome in that business gentleman kind of way, tall with broad shoulders and an assured stride. Crawford turned slowly, and faced the approaching man calmly. When the man stopped a few feet from the two of them, Crawford gave a slight bow. "Iragadachi-sama," he murmured in greeting.
Aya's brows shot to his hairline. What the fuck?
The gentlemen nodded to Crawford and glanced towards Aya without turning his head. He looked back towards Crawford. "How are things lately?" he asked politely.
Crawford gazed back at him, and though he seemed calm, Aya thought he could detect a certain rigidness to his body, as if he would rather be anywhere but here talking to this distinguished looking man in the black trenchcoat. "Well, Iragadachi-sama. Did you need something?"
"I was just curious as to why you have one of Weiß in your company," the man said pleasantly. "He is from Weiß, is he not?"
Crawford's jaw twitched, but Iragadachi didn't give him the chance to answer. "Things have been getting rather interesting the past few days, it seems," he continued calmly. "We heard of what happened your apartment. Some... friends told us that the Prodigy deliberately blew the floor when they came to speak with him. We've been hearing some disturbing news from many of them... Why is it, do you think, that they view you as enemies?"
Crawford didn't so much as bat an eyelash. "They attack us without reason; we fight back."
"Ah." The older man's expression did not change. "Yes, they are a little excitable, aren't they? We'll have to talk to them about it. And Weiß?"
Crawford didn't look at Aya. "A ruse thought up by Manx," he said calmly. "A temporary 'alliance'."
"Hmm... how interesting," Iragadachi murmured. "She is a devious little woman, isn't she?"
Aya was staring at Crawford in dawning horror. A towering rage was building up in him.
A trick. It was a trick, a lie. And Crawford actually had the balls to stand there and say it in front of him. That meant...
He looked quickly towards the tall gentleman, who was watching him calmly.
He'd heard too much; they were going to kill him.
Then Crawford's voice was piercing his mind in urgency. Run.
Aya looked quickly from Crawford to Iragadachi, confused and torn.
Then the tall man turned and began walking towards him. Aya yanked the gun free and fired. He missed, but Iragadachi ducked. Aya turned and fled. Something about that man... if Crawford was afraid of him, he was sure he didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell up against him.
He dodged screaming pedestrians and ducked down an alley, running as if the devil were on his heels.
YOHJI! he sent the thought as loudly as he could.
Aya, you asshole, what do you--
It's a trap! Don't trust them, they--
He ran straight into Iragadachi- it was like hitting a brick wall. He fell back with a grunt, fumbling for the gun. How had the man cut him off??
A strong hand wrapped around his throat, another knocking the gun carelessly aside. He struggled, gasping for air as he was slammed against a wall.
"Hold still," the man murmured calmly, and laid a palm against Aya's forehead, ignoring his desperate thrashing. "You've heard too much."
Pain exploded in Aya's mind, white-hot and full of colorful stars.
Then blackness rushed up to envelop him, and he slumped into unconsciousness.
Aya groaned as he came to, reaching up to rub his head. Christ, he had a migraine.
He was in a car.
He forced his eyes open and looked to see who was driving.
Crawford glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "Finally awake?"
Aya grunted and touched his throbbing temples carefully. "What happened?" he asked gruffly.
"Apparently there were three men," Crawford said. "One of them met us as we were coming outside and hit you over the head with a trashcan lid." He turned down the street that would lead to the flower shop. "Crude, but obviously effective."
Aya scowled weakly at him.
They pulled into the flower shop's driveway and Crawford cut off the engine. He didn't move for a few moments, but merely sat there, staring straight ahead at nothing. His mouth was tight and his eyes were dark, as if he was thinking about something unpleasant.
Aya glanced at him, then opened the door and stepped out. Yohji and Omi ran up to meet him.
"Aya-kun, daijabou?" Omi asked breathlessly, looking worried.
"What was that all about, anyway?" Yohji demanded. "What did you mean 'It's a trap'?"
Aya stared at him blankly. "What are you talking about?"
Crawford came up behind him. "He still hasn't learned to send private messages," he said smoothly. "He was amubushed as we made our escape- you probably heard what he was trying to tell me."
Yohji shook his head, scowling. "But he called me- by name. He sounded-"
"I didn't call you," Aya said irritably. "I didn't need your help, and you were halfway across town anyway." He shouldered past the confused man. "Move."
"But- Hey! Aya!" Yohji called angrily. Aya ignored him and went inside.
"Maybe he meant the Hunters?" Omi ventured. He looked towards Crawford. "Did you two hear anything about the Hunters while you were there?"
Crawford shook his head. "I didn't. He might have thought of something, but whatever it is, it couldn't have been very important. One of the guards hit him upside the head, so he might not even remember calling you."
Yohji was staring at Crawford with distrust, but the American ignored him and followed Aya inside. Omi started after them, but Yohji snagged his sleeve.
"Something weird's going on," he murmured when Omi looked back at him questioningly. "I've got a bad feeling."
Omi shrugged helplessly. "Maybe Crawford-san is right. It could be nothing. Anyway, if Aya-kun got hit on the head, I'd better check on him and make sure he's all right."
Crawford caught Schuldich's eye as he entered the shop, and beckoned for him to follow.
Seeing the dark look on his leader's face, Schuldich tossed his magazine onto the kitchen table without comment and followed him into the basement.
We ran into the Second, Crawford said as they walked downstairs.
Schuldich came to a halt. Iragadachi? His voice was tense. What happened?
Crawford turned on the desk lamp. I fed him a line about Manx creating a fake alliance to lure Weiß into a trap of some sort, and he seemed satisfied with it. Aya heard it, though, so..
He wiped his memory, Schuldich said grimly. Just as well. You'd never be able to convince that tightass that you were just lying your ass off to get Iragadachi off your case anyway.
Crawford grunted noncommitedly and began to unbutton his shirt. Kudou's suspicious, though.
Yeah, we heard little red riding hood shout at him loud as a fucking trumpet, Schuldich grumbled, flopping down on the couch. And that blond shrimp's going to wonder when he doesn't find any bump on Abysinnian's head to back up your lame story. Crawford ignored him. What are you doing, anyway?
Checking my bandages, Crawford said shortly. He dropped his shirt to the floor, revealing the bandages wound tightly around his midriff.
That's from the explosion? What happened?
Crawford shrugged. Looks like bruising. He began to unwind the bandages. Nothing too bad. But when he put the bandages aside, Schuldich could see the ugly dark bruises all over the older man's ribs.
You should have stayed in the hospital and taken your chances with the bloodsuckers, Schuldich told him grimly. You need a doctor-- that looks like internal bleeding.
Ken glanced up as the two men of Schwarz came into the kitchen looking grim.
"I'm taking Crawford to the hospital," Schuldich said lightly. "He's pretty banged up."
Aya looked towards them and frowned. "Where?"
Crawford avoided his gaze, polishing his glasses on the front of his shirt. "My ribs. It's nothing serious." Schuldich flicked him a quick, sarcastic look, and Aya frowned.
Ken hesitated, then reached out, yanking at the half-buttoned shirt. Crawford cursed, too busy fumbling with his glasses to prevent them from falling to stop him.
Aya and Ken stared dumbly at the dark, angry bruises, and Schuldich laughed softly.
"Internal bleeding," he said with a sneer. "Now if you don't mind..."
Ken pulled his hand back and stared up at the two men, debating. He had told himself he wouldn't. Not for them. They were scum, they didn't deserve it. But...
He sighed, shaking his head. "You don't need a doctor," he said quietly. "Both of you sit down. I'll Heal you."
Schuldich's eyebrows rose in mild surprise, but Crawford sat down carefully, removing his shirt. Ken placed his palms on the bruises and closed his eyes, channeling his power slowly into the other man, feeling him go tense in response.
Then the door slammed open and Farfarello stumbled in. Ken's mouth went dry at the sight of him.
His golden eye was wild and roving, his lips peeled back from his teeth in a savage grimace. His gaze landed on Ken and he stalked towards him after only a momentary hesitation.
"Farfarello, what-" Ken gasped.
"NO!" Schuldich shouted, lunging for the Irishman. "Don't!!"
Yohji surged forward as well from where he'd been making a sandwich, wrapping his arms around the struggling madman from behind. "NAGI!" Schuldich called furiously. "Get in here!" He grabbed Farfarello's wrists to stop him from striking Yohji as he flailed in blind fury. "Fight it, Farfarello," he said from behind clenched teeth. "Don't do this. You know what will happen if you do."
"He can Heal it," Farfarello rasped, twisting his head away and struggling to wrench his arms free. "I can't..."
Farfarello looked around desperately and made a half-lunge for Aya, who stumbled back in surprise. Crawford rose to his feet quickly and put himself in between the redhead and the incoherant Berserker. "Farfarello," he said in a calm, quiet voice. "You don't want this."
"Leggo," Farfarello spat, wriggling and twisting furiously.
Nagi and Omi ran into the room, then, and a moment later Farfarello went stiff and unmoving, except for his eye, which looked around at them all, shining with a crazy light. He looked at Ken, and the soccer player found himself caught in that mad gaze, unable to move or speak.
Farfarello's lips lifted from his teeth in a silent snarl of helpless fury, and that was when Ken saw it.
Canines, so long they nearly touched his bottom lip. Sharp as daggers, flashing in the overhead light.
Ken felt like he'd been dealt a heavy blow to the stomach. His mind went blank with shock.
Farfarello was a Vampire.
"Now you see why the Hunters hate him," he thought he heard Nagi say calmly from behind him.
Then he whirled and fled the room.
END PART II: THE ALLIANCE
Disclaimer: lyrics are from Fuel's "Won't Back Down" (Daredevil soundtrack)
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