Notes: Jesus H. Christ. It's a sequel for Mystery Man >_O; Blahh... I must be out of my mind. MM finished fine, I think; I'm doing this for me, though, for my own amusement, because I liked working on MM. (By the way, for anyone that hasn't read Mystery Man, this fic won't make sense for the most part, so reading MM first would help ^^;;)
Warnings: Violence, gore, some angst, yaoi, het, heavy lime, cursing
Disclaimer: Weiß Kreuz is not mine, yadda yadda. I'm just borrowing these lovely characters for fun, not profit. Don't sue me, my paycheck would probably make you laugh. =pp And "The Jabberwocky" is by Lewis Carroll, from his book Through the Looking Glass. The picture of the Jabberwocky in the pic above was drawn by Sir John Tenniel.
Mornings are set in a ritual that changes little no matter what part of the globe we find ourselves in. I wake up slowly to the sounds of the city outside, the arm around my waist firm and warm. Reaching out a tendril of thought, I prod at his walls until the grip relaxes. Now that his subconscious recognizes me and he won't be startled by any sudden movements, I sit up and slide out from under the covers. I glance back at him once; he rolls over, face stuffed in the pillow, asleep again already. The floor is cold beneath my bare feet as I head for the tiny kitchenette to start the tea.
Three steps from the bed, and our silent morning is thrown out the window.
"Good, you're finally up," growls a voice from the ball of covers on the floor. "Please tell me you have some god-damn coffee in this ratshack."
I frown down at the unmoving lump. "We don't drink coffee," I inform him shortly.
"You've gotta be kidding me," comes the groaned response. The blanket shifts and Schuldich sits up, hair tangled and eyes squinty. "How--" His voice halts, eyes bugging. "Shit," he whoops. "That's something I don't need to see first thing in the morning."
Farfarello jolts awake, nearly falling off the bed. He's halfway up, knife in hand, before he remembers Schuldich's presence. He follows the German's stare, then offers me a flat glare.
I look down at myself in bland confusion. "What? I always sleep in my underwear nowadays."
Schuldich makes a face, tossing a pillow at me. "You might wanna cover something a little higher while you've got guests, you twat."
I catch the pillow, but decide against tossing it aside when Farfarello turns his glare Schuldich's way.
Schuldich has already averted his eyes, however, and is stumbling to his feet and towards the kitchen. "Don't lookit me like that, Farf, and get those murderous ideas outta your head," he shouts over his shoulder. "If I was interested in tits, I wouldn't be bangin' Crawford." He disappears into the kitchen to raid the cabinets for something with caffeine in it.
Rolling my eyes, I throw the pillow aside and dig one of Farfarello's shirts out from under the bed. In case the clothes and the very male lover didn't give it away, Schuldich's gay as a peacock, Farfarello, I point out in a mixture of mild amusement and resignation. You don't have to get so huffy.
Nagi is not, Farfarello responds shortly, getting out of bed and searching for his pants. Watching his naked body move across the room, I'm glad I was the first one out of bed with the company we have. And I don't know how many partners Crawford has had before Schuldich-- or how many of them were women.
I get the point, Farf. I'll stay decent while we have company if you will.
He catches me eyeing him speculatively and arches a brow.
"Oh Christ! Next time you think about sex, keep it behind your freaking walls," Schuldich calls irritably from the kitchen.
Smirking, I tug on the shirt and join him in the other room. "I told you we don't have any coffee," I remind him as he continues with his thorough exploration of the cabinets. I fill the teapot with water from the sink and set it atop the small stove. "Do you really think Farfarello needs that much caffeine in his diet?"
He scowls at the teabag I lift from a little jar. "Only Brits drink tea. Brits and Japs. I'm not drinking that crap."
"Don't call me a Jap, you Nazi." I drop the bag into the kettle and twist the dial to turn on the burner. "You've been with Crawford too long. There are at least five zillion cafe shops in Paris. Go to one of those if you can't survive without coffee. It might taste kind of funny at first, though. I can see Crawford drinking it, but you I see sucking on a coffee filter."
He makes a face at me, but before he can retort, Farfarello appears and leans a shoulder against the doorframe. I glance back at him in question. Though we are used to being close all the time, when we're at least in the same building, we are able to feel close through the link. Either he's hungrier than usual or Schuldich's presence has shifted our routine more than I suspected.
Schuldich turns an appraising stare on his old partner. "Travelling's good for you, Farf," he notes approvingly. "You're not as goddamn pasty as you used to be. Still pale, but at least now it looks like you actually have blood in you." His gaze shifts to the spiky mess of rust-colored hair. "I don't think I'm ever gonna get used to that," he admits.
"It's his natural hair color," I remind him in a monotone, heading for the fridge to find something for breakfast. "And he would only have stood out more with that dye job." I find a chunk of cheese and some ham, and gesture for Schuldich to get the bread that's out of my reach on top of the fridge. He retrieves it, then opens the fridge again to snag the mustard. "Good god," he mutters, staring in at all the nothing. "Is that all you have?"
"We haven't been shopping in awhile," I admit, taking the loaf from him. "We've been eating out a lot lately. Since we'd planned on leaving anyway, I wanted to get as much French cuisine as I could now."
"Just admit you can't cook."
"I can cook. But it's time-consuming."
Schuldich finds a knife, steals two pieces of bread, and begins to lather them with mustard with a look of long-suffering on his face. I decide to let him discover on his own how hot the mustard is compared to what he's used to. "You were a lot more fun to mess with before your brain started rotting with all Farf's poison," he complains. He pauses a moment later, staring at the front of my shirt. "You're not even wearing a bra. Nagi's really gonna love it here."
"I think it's time to find a hotel," Farfarello says from the doorway.
A little over an hour later we are on the streets, taking Schuldich to get his precious coffee.
"These people Crawford says are coming for me..." I walk unhurriedly, a pace I became accustomed to after months with a cane. "How did they find out I was still alive?"
Schuldich uses his thumb to push the brim of his hat up a bit further, squinting in the sun. He wears it to keep his face a bit more concealed, though his hair-- flaming red and nearly as long as it was in Japan again --is impossible to hide. I braided it for him before leaving the apartment to keep it out of the way and hopefully to make it a bit less noticeable. None of this helps; his clothes, his hair, his jaunty stride... everything about him screams foreigner. It took me awhile to fit in when we moved to Paris, looking as obviously Asian as I do; but I walk quietly and with purpose, while his mere presence demands attention.
"Because you idiots leave bodies behind everywhere you go," Schuldich snaps. "We told you to be fucking careful."
"We were careful," I retort, smoothly sidestepping a pair of children on bikes. "We hid the bodies--"
"Not well enough," Schuldich growls. "Three months ago a man was found washed up on some beach in Spain. His autopsy revealed something very interesting." He fixes me with a hard look. "His brain was in pieces inside of his skull. Which, by the way, is no easy feat."
I frown thoughtfully. "Oh. That one. I hit him a lot harder than I usually do. But trust me, he deserved it."
"I don't care if he was trying to rape you or if he just happened to be passing by while you were PMSing," Schuldich hisses. "You don't leave that kind of evidence behind, you idiot! The second Rosenkreuz heard of the murder, they realized it was the work of a telepath."
"So what?" I shrug, unconcerned. "It's not like you and I are the only telepaths in the world."
Schuldich ticks off the facts on his fingers. "Witnesses claim they saw the victim with a young foreigner that night-- a woman. A little while after that, a body was found buried in a field. Here. In France."
I glance at him, waiting for him to get to the point.
"The man was sliced to ribbons. I'm assuming it was Farf getting his jollies off. You kill when you decide it's 'necessary', but Farf loves the kill. Guess what? Rosenkreuz knows that. They know how Farfarello kills. It wouldn't have taken a genius to put two and two together. Farfarello is alive, there's a murdering female foreign telepath on the loose, and it might be possible the two are..." he wiggles his fingers in little quotation marks, "..'in cahoots'. You following all this, thumbelina, or do I need to speak more slowly?"
"It means they know we're alive," Farfarello grunts from beside me, face as dispassionate as ever.
"Worse," Schuldich mutters, glancing around warily. "They know you're in France, or that you were here a month ago when that guy was found in the field. They'll start their search here."
I frown, displeased at the news. "We'll be more careful in the future," I promise. "And we'll leave Paris immediately. But while I see why it's bad news, I don't understand why all of you are coming here. Especially if we're going to leave...." I trail off, staring up at the scowling man. "Crawford had a vision, didn't he?" I guess grimly.
"Yeah. It wasn't pretty." Schuldich tugs the brim of his hat back over his eyes. "He saw an attack. Here. He doesn't know how many are coming, or how strong they are, but we're gonna have to take 'em all out fast. Hopefully by the time Rosenkreuz realizes they're dead, we'll be long gone."
"But they'll still know we're alive," Farfarello points out, amber eye narrowing.
"Yeah. Thanks to you."
"Bullshit." I glare at him. "Don't try to throw all the blame on us. This would have happened eventually. Maybe at our hands, maybe at yours. Maybe a month from now Nagi could stop a truck with his mind to keep it from running over Tot. They would have found us sooner or later. Personally, I'm glad they know."
"What the fuck for?" Schuldich snaps.
But Farfarello understands. "We need to kill them."
"All of them," I add quietly, voice cold. "Anyone they send after us. Until they're forced to give up."
"You don't know these people, little girl," Schuldich says quietly but heatedly. "You have no idea what kind of shit's gonna hit the fan when--"
"They can either throw away the lives of dozens of highly-trained and hard-to-find gifted students, or they can throw in the towel and wash their hands of us," I cut him off stonily. "If we kill enough of them, they'll have no choice but to back off."
Schuldich snorts in disbelief, but he shoots me a hooded sideways look. "You're a bloodthirsty little harlot," he comments. "I like that in a woman."
"And you're a condescending arrogant jackass. I hate that in a man." I offer a bland smile and lift a hand to point. "There's your cafe. Farfarello and I will meet you back here in an hour."
"What?" He blinks, startled, as we turn away from him. He touches my mind quickly to find out where we're going. "You're going for a walk?" he demands incredulously. "Were you listening to a fucking word I just said?"
"We always take a walk in the mornings," I respond, looping my arm through Farfarello's. "It's calming."
Schuldich opens his mouth to protest, then grudgingly decides to keep his peace.
A calm Berserker, after all, is preferable to the alternative.
Unless one doesn't mind the random slaughter of pedestrians.
The walk is not as soothing as it usually is.
With the promise of an upcoming battle, it is hard for Farfarello to think of much else for the rest of the day. He is restless, mind bubbling steadily with restrained violence and a fierce sadistic joy of the inevitable bloodbath that is to come.
We spend the morning strolling through the streets of Paris, and in the afternoon Schuldich goes in search of a hotel while Farfarello and I use the alone time to vent some of his pent-up energy in bed.
The three of us eat dinner at one of the restaurants I favor, though Schuldich's atrocious table manners earn disapproving stares from other diners.
Afterwards we go our separate ways; he to his hotel, us to our apartment.
We are climbing the stairs, my fingers fumbling at my pocket for the key, when a shadow detaches itself from the wall by our door. Farfarello has a knife in his hand in a split second, and already I am reaching out to snag the mind of our uninvited guest.
Nothing. My thoughts grope blindly for a mind that isn't there, and I realize who our unseen visitor must be. Sending a soothing murmur through the link to calm Farfarello, I tug the key free from my pocket and call out a quiet greeting.
"We weren't expecting you so soon. Schuldich said you had business in Germany."
Crawford takes another step forward, and his features become distinguisable at last. I feel my eyebrows lift as I get a good look at him.
I have never seen him in anything but a suit before; the slacks and plaid shirt he now wears might as well be jeans and a jersey. Even Farfarello stares for a moment.
Crawford reaches up to push his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, and the familiar gesture grounds me a bit. "I've done all I can do on that end," he admits solemnly, setting a small duffel bag down just outside the door. "Where's Schuldich? Are you keeping him out of trouble?"
I step around him to jiggle the key in the lock. "At his hotel. Now that Farfarello finally has a place for himself, he gets antsy when other people intrude. I hope this is a short visit." I glance at him as I open the door and lead the way inside. "How did you find us?"
He gives me a look as if I have just asked something very stupid, and I shrug it off. Of course he found us. He was trained to find people in hiding. And naturally that means...
"If I found you, you can rest assured Rosenkreuz can do so just as quickly," he points out, confirming my suspicions. He casts a quick look around the bare room, and chooses to stand, arms crossed over his chest. He gazes at us in disapproval. Somehow, the ominous effect is spoiled slightly by the lack of a crisp three-piece suit. "You've been careless."
"No one's perfect," I answer with a one-shouldered shrug, leaning against the wall. Farfarello heads for the kitchen for a glass of water as if the conversation holds no interest for him. Crawford's jaw twitches in irritation at the silent dismissal, and he raises his voice a notch to make sure Farfarello can hear him from the other room.
"You're out of time. You need to leave the country immediately; though even if you left tonight, there's no guarantee you won't be intercepted."
I frown slightly. "You don't know when Rosenkreuz's crew is getting here?"
"Only that they'll be here very soon. I checked at the airport; the only flight leaving in the next few hours is headed for central Europe, and that would be suicide."
"Good," I interrupt flatly. "Farfarello and I have already decided it would be easiest just to kill these people outright when they arrive. It will take a day or two before Rosenkreuz realizes they're gone, and by then we can be long gone."
His eyes narrow. "You're underestimating Rosenkreuz," he said in a quiet but steely voice. "The team they'll be sending won't be as easy to defeat as the imbeciles they sent after you in Japan. They know the two of you are dangerous."
"Well with two telepaths, a berserker, and a precog to face, I doubt they'll find us very easy to take on, either," I point out dryly.
"They have probably already assumed at least one other member of Schwarz would come to Paris to find you, if they don't already think one of us has been with you this whole time. They'll factor that in, and send the appropriate team."
"When will Nagi get here? At least a telekinetic will make things more difficult for them."
His eyes narrow, and I straighten my back up against the wall. That is not a Happy Look. It triggers a warning bell in my head.
"You are not in any position to be flippant or dismissive about this," he says coolly. "You've not only endangered yourself and Farfarello, but the rest of us as well. They'll be after us after they've killed you. We're too much of a threat to them; a rogue group of Gifted is not something they will tolerate. Especially when that group of people have been highly trained. It was your idiotic mistakes that made them aware of us. You will take this seriously."
Farfarello appears in the kitchen doorway, staring unnervingly at him. Crawford, who's been around a touchy psychotic Berserker much longer than I have, doesn't even spare him a glance. He is still caught in his staring contest with me. I flicker a request across the link, and Farfarello turns slowly and re-enters the kitchen.
"What's done is done," I say after a long, tense moment. "All that's left is what we do next." I push myself away from the wall as Farfarello returns with a scrap of paper and a pen. Holding the paper against the wall, I jot down an address. "This is the hotel Schuldich is staying at. He's in room sixty-nine... big surprise." I offer the paper, holding Crawford's gaze. "There's not much we can do about it tonight, anyway. If they're here, they haven't shown themselves. If they show up, I'll contact Schuldich. We can talk about this tomorrow."
He arches a brow just slightly, but whatever his thoughts are, they are as much a mystery to me as they have ever been. But he takes the address and leaves without any more lectures. Farfarello watches him go with an unreadable expression, though I can sense his bubbling animosity across the link. He has reveled, in his own way, in the unexpected freedom he gained when he and I left Japan together, putting Schwarz behind us hopefully for good. With Crawford's arrival and familiar take-charge attitude, it is making him uptight and resentful all over again.
"He is not the Oracle any longer," he says at last, voice flat.
"I know," I murmur, reaching up absently to tug on one of the earrings Ran gave me. "It's just the way he is, Farfarello. And he's probably so angry because he's worried. He's sure Rosenkreuz is going to throw a hardball at us, and he's probably right. I'm going to scan all the minds in the area tonight, but if they're as good as he's implying, they might be expecting that, and they'll have shields up. We'll have to be ready for them." I sigh quietly, glancing towards the window. "It's going to be a long night. We can at least spend a couple hours sharpening your knives. Then we can take another walk so I can scan further out."
He nods slightly, but his eyes are on the door, and his mind is far away.
Bloodlust is singing in the veins of the Berserker.
We sleep in shifts that night, and take another walk, but the minds in the area I skim are no threat, and there are no surprise attacks. By the morning, Farfarello is on edge from all the pent-up waiting, and I am not much better off. He wants something violent to happen so he can let loose all his frustration, and I am ready for the whole stupid thing to be over with.
Needless to say, neither of us are in the best of moods when we meet Schuldich and Crawford at mid-morning for a late breakfast and some planning.
We eat at the cafe I showed Schuldich the previous day, seated outside so that we can see an attack if it comes. Farfarello picks at his roll without really eating any of it, Schuldich downs his fourth cup of coffee, and Crawford salts his eggs. I tap a butterknife against the tabletop and stare vacantly across the street. I can tell the constant tap tap tap is beginning to get on Crawford's nerves, so I continue to do it even as when he starts to speak.
I'm in the mood to pick a fight.
"Nagi has already left Hong Kong, but we cannot afford to wait for him. There's a flight to New Zealand at two this afternoon, and the both of you will be on that plane. At four-thirty, Schuldich and I will take the flight to New York. I'll leave a note for Nagi in the event that he has not arrived before we've left."
I nod absently, watching a snooty-looking woman walk her dog down the adjacent sidewalk. tap tap tap tap
"This doesn't solve the problem, and it won't take long for the team to figure out we've left the country. We'll have a day, two at the most, before they find us. Once you're in New Zealand, immediately book another flight. Africa would be best; if that isn't available, try South America."
Nod. tap tap tap Now Schuldich is staring at my knife pointedly. I pretend not to notice, and let my gaze drift towards a drunken man on the corner fumbling with his wallet. Drunk in the morning. Ah, Paris.
"Eventually we are going to run into Rosenkreuz's people," Crawford continues, deliberately ignoring the tapping. "We will have to face them. I hope you've at least managed to hone your gift somewhat over the past year."
"As a weapon, yes," I answer lazily, finally shifting my gaze his way.
He frowns minutely, opening his mouth to ask what I'm not telling him, but Schuldich interrupts him.
"Godfuckingdamnit," he hisses, sloshing his coffee everywhere. His chair scrapes loudly against the concrete patio as he leaps to his feet. Farfarello and I are halfway out of our seats, and I'm still scrambling mentally for a quirk in the minds around us, when I glance in the direction Schuldich is staring so intently.
The drunken man from the corner is heading in our direction, and he suddenly looks much more alert. His face is practically hidden under a floppy hat, but his mouth is grim. I reach out, and slam my mind against a smooth wall.
The other patrons are all staring at us as if we're insane.
"We've got company, B," Schuldich mutters out of the side of his mouth. Despite the tension, I cannot help but flick him a look, vaguely surprised at the verbal slip.
Crawford dabs his mouth with his napkin and takes his time getting up. The man is coming at us steadily, but not in a rush, and I can see no weapons in his hands.
Who is it? I demand.
Farfarello's head moves imperceptibly in a shake of ignorance. His eye is locked on the approaching man, fingers already slipping inside his shirt for the knife he taped to his side last night.
Rosenkreuz, Schuldich snarls, which is answer enough.
I tense, making sure my mental walls are secure, wondering when the man will be close enough to lash out with his power, and what that power might be. If he's a telepath, then--
Farfarello senses movement a split second before I do. I hear the tape ripping, and he twists around, but before I can even turn my head all the way, small fingers are wrapping around my upper arm.
So fast-- How did they--
I have a moment's confusion as I stare blankly down into the face of a solemn little girl, and then fireworks are exploding behind my eyes, and everything goes dark.
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