These drabbles/ficlets are in no way a part of the actual "Mystery Man" story. They're more like little side stories or "extras". Some are humorous, some aren't. They've been floating in my head off and on since finishing MM, so I wrote them down and then decided I might as well put them up for shits and giggles for anyone that was curious enough to read 'em.
They're just little scenes or whatever of things that might have happened on the sidelines during the story, or after where MM left off.
As I write a new one, it'll be put at the bottom of the page underneath the other ficlets. There will be a date under the WK fic page by "Mystery Man" to show when these are updated, but they won't be "official" updates since they're just drabbles; so they won't be under the updates page or in the mailing list, only on my WKfic page. If you're actually interested in reading them, you can check back every now and then to see if it's been updated on this page.

"A-S" by a blurb means it occurs after-story (after the MM timeline). "I-S" means it happened in-story. The first one is I-S because at the end of the fic it leaps a year ahead, and this is before that year has passed.
Er... DON'T read these if you haven't finished "Mystery Man".


The Airport (I-S)

    Aya stopped and stared in disbelief. The other passengers were forced to dodge around her, sending her irritated glances as they hurried towards the group of people waiting to greet them. She shifted the weight of the small carry-on hanging from her shoulder, glancing up as Farfarello appeared beside her. "Is that really him?" she demanded, not quite believing what her Gift was telling her.
    He followed her pointed gaze, and after a moment his brow arched. Without another word he headed towards the tall figure, Aya trailing in his wake.
    It was noisy in the greeting area, so Aya didn't bother trying to raise her voice. You cut your hair.
    Schuldich's mouth stretched in a familiar shit-eating grin as he lifted his cigarette from his lips and flicked it carelessly into the ashtray stand beside him. "Nice to see you too, squirt." He looked them over as they stopped before him. "Speaking of hair... Damn, Farf, been awhile since I saw your natural hair color."
    Farfarello ignored the comment, glancing around. The press of people was making him antsy. Aya reached out and snagged his hand, trying to soothe him over the link. "Well, white hair's a bit more conspicuous than red, isn't it?" she pointed out, still staring at Schuldich. "I guess maybe long hair on a guy is, too, but..."
    Schuldich reached up, lifting a lock of hair and glancing at it out of the corner of his eye. "Yeah, chopped it a few months ago. Or Crawford did, anyway. We fought about it for-fucking-ever before he finally threatened to do it in my sleep. He said it got too much attention." He shrugged, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "I'm gettin' used to it. At least showers don't take forty minutes anymore."
    Aya studied him in silence for a moment. At least the horrid green trenchcoat was gone. In fact, he had never looked so "normal" before. He was wearing faded jeans with ragged holes in the knees, a tight tee-shirt with some band name on it, and a worn denim jacket. His hair, once longer than Aya's own, had been cut to just below his shoulders. He looked completely different. Not bad-- just different from the Schuldich she knew. Then he smirked again, and she felt a bit more grounded.
    Farfarello was getting his fair share of attention, of course, even if the reactions to his appearance were varied. She looked around at the people walking by that shot her companion sideways looks. A lot of them actually stared openly. She could sense that some of them were freaked out, others were just curious, and some even seemed to think he looked badass, and was he some kind of rock star?
    Do Germans usually stare so much? she demanded, offended. She stared back at one older man until he finally looked away.
    "You Japs are too nonconfrontational," Schuldich jeered, waving his hand for them to follow as he turned and began working his way through the crowd. "Get used to being stared at. You're obviously foreign, and he's, well, Farf."
    Aya almost ran into someone, staring wide-eyed at a television on the wall. "Wha-- Was that--" She realized Farfarello was also looking at the TV, face blank. Sensing the spark of vague interest over the link, she hauled him hastily along by the hand.
    "We're also not as big of prudes as you are," Schuldich said with a grin, enjoying her reaction. "Get used to it. You'll see much worse, especially in the cities. Don't go having a seizure on me if we pass a billboard advertising topless women."
    Aya kept her eyes firmly ahead from then on.
    "Is that it?" Schuldich glanced back at her shoulder bag.
    Aya shook her head. "There's one small suitcase. It's all our belongings, actually. We don't really have much. There doesn't seem to be a need."
    Schuldich made a sharp right, and Aya followed blindly. The signs were indescipherable to her. They were all in German, with English translations below them, and while she'd been slowly learning how to speak some English, when it came to reading it she was a lost cause.
    "I'm surprised you came to pick us up," Aya admitted. "You didn't sound too thrilled about us coming in your letter."
    "It's only been five months," Schuldich pointed out, still looking straight ahead. "You're pushing it a little close, princess. It's way too early to risk going back to Japan. I'm only here because Crawdad said it was too risky to let you wander Germany by yourselves. He wants to keep an eye on you two. He couldn't be bothered to come, though; he's back at the apartment."
    Aya ignored the first part of that. "How is Crawford? Is his German getting any better?"
    "Better than any American I've ever met," Schuldich admitted, snorting. "I knew they'd taught him some in Austria, but he hadn't used it in awhile. He's a quick learner. He'll sit at his stupid little cafe for hours and just listen to other peoples' conversations, trying to figure out what they're talking about. Senile old fart." He looked back at her. "And don't change the conversation. What's the big hurry to get home and see brother-dear? We told you it would be at least two years before you'd be able to visit."
    "Yeah, well..." Aya's eyes wandered as she took in the unfamiliar sights of the Frankfurt airport. "Something tells me I won't be able to go back in a few years."
    He didn't answer, but she felt his mind slipping through hers.
    She allowed the exploration, coming to a halt in front of the conveyer belt for her flight in baggage claim. She watched as bags circled around and around, keeping an eye open for her own suitcase.
    Finally Schuldich drew away, and she glanced at him sideways. He was frowning, eyes on the moving luggage.
    "See what I mean?" she asked quietly. Farfarello was staring unnervingly at a group of nervous tourists.
    He shrugged one shoulder noncommitedly. "What clued you in?"
    She leaned over to inspect a suitcase that resembled hers. "I kind of gutted someone."
    Schuldich jerked his gaze her way, voice sharp. "What? I didn't see that."
    "Exactly." She straightened, eyes traveling further down the line of luggage. "I forgot about it a little while after it happened. Well, not 'forgot' exactly. I just dismissed it as unimportant. It's probably a little deeper down than you were digging. Anyway, that was my first clue. The fact that I treated the whole incident with such disregard. Glad I noticed it, because Farfarello sure didn't see anything wrong with it."
    "Gutted," Schuldich repeated. She felt him dig through her memories a bit more thoroughly.
    "Kind of, I said," Aya corrected absently, bending to check another suitcase.
    "...You stabbed some guy with a rake??"
    "Yeah, you know, those steel ones with the big metal teeth?" Aya seized the suitcase's handle and heaved it from the belt.
    "Because he was..." Schuldich hesitated, as if unsure whether to believe what he found in her mind. "You stabbed a guy in the guts with a rake because he was DRUNK??"
    "He was drunk and noisy," Aya corrected, turning to him. "He was staggering up and down the street for an hour straight singing at the top of his voice, and we were trying to sleep. Don't worry, we got rid of the body. Which way to the exit?" Farfarello reached out and took the suitcase from her silently, a habit from back when her bullet wound had prevented her from lifting anything over a couple of pounds.
    Schuldich eyed her a bit clinically, mouth stretched in a deep frown. "Yeah," he finally admitted slowly, "you're right. There's no way you're goin' back to ol' stick-up-the-ass with open arms. This time next year you'll be as batty as Farf."
    "Funny," Aya said without a trace of amusement. "Now you see why I want to go back NOW. It might be my last chance. I'll be careful."
    "And what, you're hoping we'll babysit Cyclops here for a few days?" Schuldich rolled his eyes. "I don't have to be a precog to tell you Crawford's answer. It's too soon and too risky. There's no way he'll let you go anywhere near Japan."
    Aya's eyes narrowed. "How's he going to stop me?"
    Farfarello, who hadn't been paying attention to much of the conversation in the first place, caught the sudden bubble of animosity over the link and flicked a hooded gaze towards Schuldich.
    Schuldich made a face at them both. "Don't you dare go fucking psycho in this airport," he snapped. "Either one of you. Save the tantrums for when we get home." He turned on his heel and stalked for the door. "Sorry, toots, but if you're this far gone already, the answer should be obvious. You might as well just deal with it now. You're never going 'home' again. And even if you ever do, you'll be such a monster by then that Abysinnian won't even recognize you."
    Aya stared at his retreating back for a long moment before she followed slowly, Farfarello striding silently at her side.

A Bit Less Subtlety (I-S)

    The second they returned from the cafe Schuldich seized Farfarello by the elbow and headed for the bedrooms at a fast clip. Farfarello seemed to be in one of his more disconnected moods, and didn't bother to struggle.
    "Well, I'm gonna lock Dracula here up and then I was gonna go see a movie or something, so you'll have the apartment to yourself, don't wait up, see you tomorrow."
    Crawford stood in the entryway, still toeing off his shoes. He arched a brow at Schuldich's retreating back at the babble of words, but kept his comments to himself.
    Schuldich shoved Farfarello into the room they'd fixed up to hold the team Berserker, following him in quickly to block the exit. "All right, Farf, you know the drill."
    Farfarello turned to stare at him balefully.
    "Look, you know the rules," Schuldich muttered impatiently, snatching the wadded-up straightjacket from the corner of the room, walls muffled with mattresses. "Nagi's not here to keep an eye on you, and I'm headin' out. Plus, you kind of burned up any brownie points you had when you pulled that little stunt in the cafe." He peered at his partner curiously as he untangled the cloth and buckles. "What the hell's up with you and that twat, anyway?" he demanded. "Nothing in your head is right when it comes to her. On the surface all your thoughts are typical Jack-the-Ripper thoughts, but there's something else there that's really... weird."
    Farfarello glared at him and held out his arms.
    Schuldich rolled his eyes and began tugging the straightjacket over his partner's form. "Whatever. See if I care."
    He hid his puzzlement under the dismissive words. Farfarello would rather cooperate and let himself be penned up for the rest of the day rather than discuss this? Why? Because he didn't want Schuldich to get into his business? Or because he didn't understand this anomaly of a girl himself?
    Schuldich finished buckling the last of the straps and switched on the small black and white TV suspended from the ceiling. "One of us will bring you some chow later tonight," he promised absently over his shoulder as he left, locking the door behind him.
    He hesitated in the small hallway, glancing towards his room. He couldn't see the living room from here; he would have to step forward, and risk being spotted himself. Was Crawford in there, already opening the newspaper? Or had he gone to his room?
    Maybe he was taking a piss.
    He could go out the front door like a normal human being and avoid the apartment for the rest of the day like the plague, but if Crawford was in the living room, he might just have something snarky to say. Or maybe he would ignore Schuldich completely. He couldn't decide which was worse.
    "I'm going to kill that bitch," he muttered to himself, grinding his teeth. This was all HER fault. If she'd just kept her stupid mouth shut...
    He heard the faintest rustle of paper from the living room.
    That did it.
    There was nothing wrong with exiting your own apartment through your very own bedroom window. It was perfectly normal. There was nothing paranoid about scrambling out of a sixth-story window, letting down the fire ladder, and skittering down into the alleyway below like a monkey.
    Perfectly normal.
    For a fifteen year old girl trying to cut curfew, maybe.
    Fuck that. He was better than that. He was THE MASTERMIND, damn it. He could act cool and aloof, and Crawford was not going to get to him. Surely he'd assumed the pug-nosed cross-eyed two-bit little whore had been kidding around.
    Jamming his hands in his pockets and affecting his most nonchalant air, Schuldich strolled through the living room and made a bee-line for the front door. At a moderately sedate pace, of course.
    He was almost there when Crawford cleared his throat in a rather obvious manner.
    Schuldich kept his back to the couch and kept going.
    There was the sound of the paper being tossed onto the coffee table, and Schuldich knew he'd had it. It was run for the exit like a dog with his tail tucked firmly against his ass, or play it cool.
    Cool. Schuldich could do cool. Easy.
    He pivoted on one heel and offered his superior a carefully bored look.
    Crawford was still on the couch. A good sign.
    He didn't have his gun out and aimed at Schuldich's head, either, which was another fairly promising sign.
    He was, however, wearing a decidedly expectant expression.
    His "I'm waiting for an intelligent explanation" face. Schuldich had seen it often enough in the years he'd been with Schwarz. It usually came right before or after the "Do I look like a complete idiot?" look. It would make an appearance any second now.
    Schuldich decided to go with ignorance.
    There it was.
    Crawford adjusted his glasses. "Mind explaining--"
    "She was joking," Schuldich blurted, managing to keep his face somewhat disinterested. "A joke. A bad joke. Inside joke. You wouldn't get it."
    "..." One of Crawford's eyebrows lifted slightly. "You don't even know what I'm talking about, yet."
    "Oh." Moron. He grasped blindly for something. "About the soda thing. You didn't hear that part? Guess you had to be there." He checked his wrist for a watch he'd forgotten to put on. "Well, my movie starts soon, so I'm just gonna--"
    Crawford rose to his feet slowly, in that deliberate way of his that could either mean he was forcing himself to be patient instead of committing murder, or he was about to say something important.
    Schuldich turned his back on the American and continued towards the door at a fast clip. He actually had one shoe on before Crawford caught up to him. He seized Schuldich by the shoulder and wrenched him around.
    "Hey-!" Schuldich jerked away from the grip, glaring at his partner. "What's your prob--"
    "'Subtle hints'?" Crawford quoted in a bland voice. His face was perfectly composed, but Schuldich could swear his eyes were a little too amused by all of this.
    "She was just being a twat!" Schuldich snapped, and was horrified to feel his ears starting to burn.
    Boiled in oil. That was how she was going to die.
    Crawford crossed his arms over his chest and stared Schuldich down. "I keep waiting," he noted in mock interest, "for you to outright deny anything she said."
    "You're an asshole," Schuldich snarled, snatching up his other shoe. He was actually reaching for the doorknob when Crawford's hand slammed into the door by his head, holding it shut. Schuldich turned quickly.
    The blow he aimed at Crawford's stomach never made contact. Crawford snatched him by the wrist with his free hand and pinned it roughly to the door at shoulder- height. This put him in very close proximity. Schuldich's heart jumped into his throat and he stared wildly at Crawford's calm face from inches away.
    "I'm still waiting," Crawford pointed out.
    Schuldich gritted his teeth, struggling to hold his temper. "What do you want from me?" he snapped. "You waiting for some 'confession'? Do I look like a fucking schoolgirl to you, Oracle?"
    Crawford's eyes flicked back and forth, studying his face, and a slight frown tugged at his mouth. "Benefits, huh..?"
    Schuldich cocked his head slightly, frowning also. "What? Didn't catch that. Was that a 'So sorry, feel free to leave, Schuldich'?"
    "What do you want, Schuldich?" Crawford demanded bluntly.
    Schuldich gaped at him. "Wha--" He made a face. "I WANT to go to my mov--"
    A flash of impatience crossed Crawford's face, then he was--
    Schuldich tried instinctively to retreat, but the door was in the way. Crawford leaned in until there was barely enough room between their bodies to slip a sheet of paper, his face almost touching Schuldich's-- his mouth-- um-- wayyy too close--
    "What are you doing??" Schuldich demanded. His voice came out a bit more panicked than he would have liked.
    "I asked you a question," Crawford explained slowly. "What 'hints'? What exactly were you supposedly hinting at all this time, Mastermind? What do you want?"
    Schuldich swallowed hard.
    It was really hard to think with Crawford... that close and... umm...
    Oh, to hell with it. Crawford's gun was on the coffee table. By the time he got across the room and grabbed it, Schuldich would be safely in the elevator on his way to booze and freedom.
    He was really REALLY sick of this stupid fucking cat and mouse game.
    He stared at Crawford in challenge, allowing his mouth to stretch into a cocky self-assured grin. "What do I want?" He pushed himself away from the door slightly so that his chest was pressed against Crawford's and his mouth was by the older man's ear. "I want you to fuck me until I can't walk right tomorrow. That clear enough for you?"
    Evidently it was.
    Two seconds later a mouth was on his, and a hard hand was pushing its way past cloth to run roughly over his abdomen. He found his hands latching onto short dark hair, hips arching forward in search of friction.
    .....OK, maybe he wouldn't kill the nosey little bitch after all.

Cheater (A-S)

    "You CHEATED!!"
    "And you've had too much to drink," Schuldich noted without looking up from his cards. He wasn't even bothering to hide his smug little grin.
    Aya hurled her cards at him furiously. "I've had THREE!" She attempted to get to her feet and fell on her ass gracelessly. "What did you put in that mix??"
    "Enough to get someone to loosen up his shields a little," Schuldich drawled, still grinning like the Chesire Cat.
    Crawford managed a glazed glare.
    "You ARE cheating!" Aya crowed. "I knew it! Don't go mind-reading for- for-"
    "Card hands?" Schuldich supplied helpfully. He took a tiny sip of his drink.
    "Get Farf to play. Now there's a guy I wanna see drunk."
    Farfarello barely glanced up from where he was sprawled on the couch, recovering from jet lag.
    Aya managed to stumble to her feet and staggered towards the kitchen, muttering darkly.
    "That means you fold, I take it?" Schuldich called mockingly.
    A slew of foreign curses flew from the kitchen.
    "I see she's learned the more interesting culture points of dear old Shamrock Land," Schuldich sniggered. He leered at Crawford, who was glaring at his hand mutely. "Just fold already, I know you're bluffing."
    "You're cheating," Crawford declared.
    "We've established that. Fold."
    Crawford offered another slightly unfocused glare. "What did you put in that 'punch'?"
    Schuldich looked amused. "You're a little behind on the conversation, buddy." He began dragging the pile of chips towards his lap, gloating. "Quit sulking. I have another reason for getting you shitfaced. It's the only time you let me top." He offered his lover a lecherous leer. "And boy are you a noisey bottom when you're drunk," he admitted throatily.
    Crawford fumbled for a gun he wasn't wearing.
    Just then Aya reappeared from the kitchen.
    With a cleaver.
    Chips went flying as Schuldich leapt to his feet and dashed for the safety of the bedroom, with Aya hot on his heels.
    Crawford watched them go for a moment before turning a speculative eye on Farfarello, who looked completely undisturbed by the sudden attack.
    "On the other hand, perhaps getting Farfarello to drink would be a bad idea," he mused. He retrieved the cards and began methodically stacking the deck.

Thawing (A-S)

    The unmistakable sound of a pot shattering as it hit the ground had Ran glancing around immediately for Ken, a reprimand already on his tongue.
    But Ken was at the register, staring in the same direction everyone else was. Ran followed his gaze to where Omi was standing by the window tending to some of the more fragile plants. Omi was staring at him, face pale, but the second he caught Ran's gaze, he dropped to a crouch and hastily began cleaning up the mess, muttering apologies to the startled customers.
    Ran frowned, glancing at the customer who had been asking him specific gardening questions. For almost twenty minutes. Grateful for the excuse, he sent her Yohji's way, ignoring her pout as he strode over to aide his friend.
    "You're going to cut your fingers," he pointed out as he squatted down beside the younger boy.
    Omi refused to look up at him as he clumsily stacked shards of pottery in a little pile. "I'm fine," he said quickly. "You have a customer."
    Ran tugged his gloves out of his back pocket and slipped them on. "Yohji can take care of her. Move."
    "No, I got it, I'm fine-- OUCH!"
    Ran sighed impatiently, snatching the hand that Omi was already trying to hide in his apron pocket. "I told you," he grumbled, lifting the limp hand for inspection. He peered at the bleeding finger, frowning. "I think you got a sliver in there. Go rinse it off, but don't touch it."
    Nodding quickly, still not looking at him, Omi rose and hurried to the kitchen. Ran stacked the bigger pieces of pottery together, then fetched the broom and swept up the rest. Some of the customers were buzzing anxiously about Omi's cut. He ignored them, dumping the dustbin in the trashcan and setting the broom aside before heading for the kitchen.
    Omi was at the sink, holding the hurt finger under a flow of water as he stared at the faucet, lips pressed tight together.
    "Does it hurt?"
    Omi jumped, startled by his friend's close proximity. "Oh- um- no, not really. Sorry about that, I guess I wasn't paying attention..."
    One couldn't run a flowershop without getting splinters or thorns in the hands every now and then, and Ran had taken to carrying a pair of tweezers in his pocket for such occassions. He dug them out and twisted the knob, turning off the water. "Let me see."
    "I can get it--"
    Ran transferred his impatient glare from the witheld hand to Omi's uncomfortable face. Meekly, Omi held out his hand.
    Ran shifted so that he wasn't blocking the light and gripped Omi's wrist lightly with one hand, probing carefully with the tweezers with the other. Omi winced but didn't protest.
    "Why were you staring at me?" Ran demanded without taking his eyes from his work.
    "What?" Omi's eyes were a bit wild. "I wasn't--"
    "That's why you dropped the pot, isn't it? What?" He frowned. "I was glaring at the customers again, wasn't I?"
    "Um, no... That's not it..." Omi shifted nervously, staring at his finger. "Actually, you were being civil to her. The girl. The customer." He shifted his weight. "She, um, sure talks to you a lot."
    "Does she?" Ran grunted distractedly.
    "Um..." Omi gnawed on his bottom lip. "Yeah. Every time she comes in here, she looks for you, and er... Well, she just seems pretty friendly with you."
    Ran scowled, thinking of the mind-numbing gardening conversation he'd been having before Omi's little accident. She did seem vaguely familiar. She had kept touching him while they were talking; a light touch on the arm, a brush of hands. And she had kept giggling like a twit. "She's annoying," he declared bluntly.
    "Wha--?" Omi finally looked at him, startled. "Um, it looks like you two get along OK to me..."
    Ran glanced up at him briefly, puzzled at why they were having this talk in the first place. "She's just another customer, Omi. We're supposed to be polite to all of them. She's not any different."
    Omi smiled suddenly. "Yeah. I guess so... Oww!"
    "Got it." Ran lifted the tweezers to show the tiny shard of porcelain. "Be more careful next time."
    "I will," Omi assured him hastily, still grinning a bit sheepishly. "Sorry. And thanks."
    "Make sure you get a band-aid for that," Ran called as the boy hurried out. He rinsed the tweezers and returned them to his pocket, then reluctantly returned to the shop.
    Yohji had swapped with Ken so the younger boy could water the outdoor plants, and he was watching Omi speculatively, chin propped on one hand.
    Ran paused to scowl at him. "Quit lounging around and do your job," he snapped.
    Yohji slowly dragged his eyes from Omi to Ran, a frown tugging at his mouth. He looked strangely bewildered and amused at the same time. He studied Ran's face for a long moment, then sighed abruptly. "Damn. You're pretty dense, Ayan."
    Ran stared at him blankly for a moment. "Don't call me that," he retorted belatedly.
    "Almost feel sorry for him," Yohji muttered, a grin playing at his mouth as he straightened up and flashed a smile at a girl approaching the counter.
    Ran looked in confusion from the older man to Omi. "What? Who? Why?"
    Yohji flicked him a sideways glance, mouth still curved in a teasing smile. "He's got his work cut out for him. He's a smart kid, though. He'll figure something out eventually."
    "What are you babbling about?"
    "Mmm... nothing." Yohji accepted the girl's plant. "Just wondering how long it takes someone that smart to melt ice."

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