||Chapter 14||

"What in the HELL is going on here??" Kiki demanded loudly, gun still pointed towards the door. The look she turned on Schuldich was wild and furious. She was a woman that didn't like surprises. "How the hell did he-"
"Urusai," Schuldich snarled, then winced as he pushed himself carefully to his feet. "Itai..." He untied his coat's sash and flicked the bullet from the Kevlar vest. Thanks to Crawford's vision, he'd evaded death today, but there was going to be an ugly bruise on his chest for the next few days. He turned his scowl towards the woman in the doorway. Crawford wasn't the only one he owed a thank-you. Not that he'd admit it to either of the two responsible for saving his bacon.
He'd played dead long enough for Yohji to get close, then had attempted to disarm him. The ache in his chest slowed him down, however, and Yohji had been able to dance out of reach, aiming his gun right between Schuldich's eyes. Kiki had burst in as if on cue, gun level, shouting at him to drop his weapon, and Schuldich's ass had been saved. His blond lover had managed to dodge the cop and disappear right before the woman's eyes when she tried to follow him outside. Schuldich suspected the other man had used his Gift to leap onto a balcony or something several floors up.
Silk, he reminded himself furiously. His name was Silk. He wasn't Yohji anymore; Iragadachi had seen to that.
"Hey! I'm talking to you," Kiki shouted angrily.
"Keep your pants on, toots," Schuldich snapped. He walked over- carefully -and stepped partially outside, casting out with his mind. He caught a flicker of Yohj- Silk's mind heading away from them, and relaxed taut muscles. He turned to regard the irritated looking woman beside him, putting on his best 'I don't have time for this' look.
He opened his mouth to speak, but she beat him to it. "All right, buddy, you're coming with me."
He caught the intent in her mind and evaded her hands when she tried to seize him and cuff him. "Oh-ho, I don't think so, missy," he said quickly. "I'm not the bad guy here." For once.
"I want to know how you knew to get a vest- and how you knew that lunatic was in here in the first place." Kiki was blocking his way out, aiming her gun at him once more. "You obviously know what's going on, which in my book makes you the bad guy. Or at least an accomplice."
"Wrong," Schuldich interrupted, and snatched her gun away.
She was visibly shocked at his sudden turn of speed, but she got over it quicker than most. She seized his elbow in an attempt to put him in a lock, but he slipped out of it swifter than thought. Turning so he was behind her, he couldn't resist the urge to boot her one in the ass and sent her staggering into the foyer. He gave a harsh laugh at her inability to restrain him, and casually emptied the gun's magazine clip onto the floor, bullet by bullet with quick flicks of his thumb.
She caught her balance and whirled, her face contorting with fury on catching him emptying her gun so casually. She bent over and yanked free a dagger hidden in her boot.
It was Schuldich's turn to be surprised- not at her readiness to fight, but at the thoughts flickering through her mind.
Just a punk? No- too fast. Too smart. Seems dangerous- unusual.

Schuldich's eyebrows shot up. "Just who the hell are-"
"Freeze, Simon!"
Schuldich rolled his eyes heavenward and fought the urge to grind his teeth. "Buzz off, Mamorou," he advised drolly. "You don't know what you're messing with."
"Then why don't you fill us in?" Kiki demanded, fumbling for her radio with the intent of calling for backup.
Schuldich flashed her a disturbing grin, pointing her own emptied gun at her. "Oh, don't worry, honey, I plan on speaking to you again. Unfortunately, I've got better things to do right now that play cops and robbers." He hurled the weapon at her, and she ducked instinctively. Whirling around and dodging in case Mamorou got off a shot, Schuldich wrenched the gun from the stupefied cop and sent him tumbling with a crack to the mouth.
Schuldich decided to allow himself a little bit of immaturity as he gloated at the helplessness of his adversaries. "Smell you later," he jeered, and ran outside towards his car.
He had a lover to catch.


~Two hours later~

"Malachi is gone."
Ken almost jumped out of his skin at the voice not a foot from his right as he entered one of the side tunnels of Farfarello's underground lair. "JESUS!" he gasped, turning sharply to glare blindly into the shadows. "Himeno," he hissed, "what the fuck are you doing??" Then her words registered, and his already thumping heart began to pound. "Wait- what do you mean Malachi's gone??"
The petite Vampire emerged from the shadows, hauling a pitiful ragamuffin by a fistful of hair. She ignored her victim's frantic whimpering, gazing at Ken calmly. "You left Rinata in charge, remember? Well, she was in charge of making sure Malachi and the Purebloods stayed here. But they all mysteriously disappeared about an hour ago."
"What??" Ken glanced at his watch reflexively, then back over his shoulder in the direction he had just come. He mentally cursed himself for running a few errands instead of coming straight home. "But the sun's just now starting to set! They have to be in the caves somewhere..."
Himeno was shaking her head. "Forgetting the emergency tunnels, Hidaka? Some of these tunnels lead towards houses and buildings above ground in case there's an evacuation during the day. That way the Purebloods can get out."
"Where's Rinata?" Ken demanded furiously.
Himeno's mouth quirked slightly in a humorless smile. "She's gone, too."
Ken's jaw dropped.
Himeno watched him with mild interest for several moments before deciding he obviously wasn't going to say anything for awhile. She dragged her shivering captive forward a little. "Look who I found, though, sneaking around."
"Elsie," Ken blurted in recognition. The small girl cringed away from him, eyes darting around frantically for an escape. She was muttering frenziedly in English. Ken looked back up at Himeno sharply. "What's going on?" he demanded.
Fangs flashed as Himeno gave a quick, unpleasant smile. "She knows where 'Sam' is."

"You know English well enough to translate a conversation?" Ken demanded as he shut the door to the room he shared with Farfarello.
"Aa." Himeno shoved Elsie roughly, and the small girl landed clumsily on the bed, whimpering loudly with fear. She scuttled away, cringing against the headboard as Ken strode towards her, eyes flashing.
Ken reached out and seized her ankle in a tight grip when she tried to scoot farther away from him, and she uttered a sharp cry of terror, staring up at his angry face with wide eyes. "I want to know what happened that night," Ken growled, never taking his eyes from her pale, freckled face. "I don't think I saw what I think I saw."
Himeno crossed her arms over her stomach casually and translated in surprisingly fluid English.
Elsie's eyes darted from Himeno to Ken, and back again. She swallowed hard and said something in a strident voice.
"She says if she tells you, they'll kill her," Himeno interpreted.
"Who will kill you?" Ken asked quickly.
Elsie hesitated for several long moments after Himeno's translation, chewing fretfully on her bottom lip. Ken's hand tightened on her ankle, bones grinding together under his palm, and she wailed in fear and pain. Somewhere in the back of his mind a little voice pointed out that living with the Vampires had not done much for either his patience or his compassion. He squashed the voice furiously. This was not the time to lament over any lost shades of innocence he'd once had.
"Park," Elsie said quickly, with a little sob. "Park!"
Ken glanced towards Himeno quickly. "Park?" he repeated in surprise. "Isn't that the American Vampire Lord? Her Master?"
Himeno's eyes had narrowed slightly in thought. "Aa," she murmured. "I thought you said he was captured with Farfarello- possibly killed."
"Ask her."
Himeno complied. Elsie just shook her head quickly, pressing her mouth tightly shut. Ken took a slow, deep breath to reign in his temper and set his knee up on the bed. With a sharp tug, he yanked the girl close, and leaned over so that he was glaring directly into her terrified eyes. Compassion be damned.
"Tell her," he said with eerie calm, "that if she doesn't tell me everything, she's going to become the blood and body whore of every Vampire in these caves."
Himeno's eyebrows shot up at his words, and she hesitated before smoothly translating. Elsie suddenly burst into wild sobs, her body shaking. She covered her face with her hands, muffling her sudden babbling.
Himeno rapidly translated. When she was finished, the two of them stared in silence at the pitifully crying girl for several minutes.
"Get me the Jackal," Ken said finally without turning to look at the petite Vampire. "And Ran, if he's there."
Himeno inclined her head in acknowledgement and left on silent feet.


"Manx was right," Omi said grimly as he and his lover joined the others in the kitchen.
The others, standing around the table, looked up quizzically.
"The Vampires' war is spilling into the human world," Nagi proclaimed, face typically unreadable. "It's all over the news-- bodies found in the streets and alleyways with their throats torn out. It's been going on the past few days, but it's really starting to escalate, and the authorities are tearing their hair out trying to find the ones responsible."
Omi took in the empty plates and the looks on his partners' faces and frowned slightly. "What's going on?"
"We know what happened to Yohji," Ran said tightly, glancing towards Schuldich.
The German was leaning against the counter, arms crossed over his chest. There was a Kevlar vest by his feet. His face was dark. He flicked Crawford a searing look. "You could have given me better warning than that," he snarled. "You should have told me it was Kudou."
Aya made a small, distressed sound.
"I knew you were going to get shot at, I didn't know by whom," Crawford said calmly, pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose with an index finger. "It doesn't matter, anyway."
"What are you talking about?" Omi demanded, thoroughly confused. "Did you find Yohji-kun? Where is he?"
"It's Rosenkreuz," Schuldich growled. "They're the ones pulling the strings. Kudou is.. different."
"Iragadachi Erased him," Crawford explained. "Evidently he goes by 'Silk' now. He attacked Schuldich."
"No!" Omi gasped in horror, hand flying to his mouth. Nagi placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
The Jackal watched them, inwardly shaking his head. Things were getting ugly fast. These children shouldn't have to be involved.
Omi took a deep breath and lowered his hand. His eyes were pained, but his face set in grim determination. "That makes him our enemy, then," he said quietly. "Until I can Possess him like I did with- Salem." His eyes flicked toward Schuldich.
The Jackal stared at the seemingly innocent boy in surprise.
What the hell? That hadn't been the response he'd been expecting from such a child.
I told you not to underestimate them, Jackie, Schuldich said snidely. Tomás ignored him.
"Now we know our enemy, at least," Omi continued. "Iragadachi and Souma were the only two of Rosenkreuz to survive, right?" At Nagi's nod, he continued, "So we're up against an Eraser and a telepath even stronger than Schuldich. I don't think they could do this all on their own, however." He frowned at the floor in thought, crossing his arms over his chest. "It's highly likely the Purebloods are also responsible at least in part. Ken-kun told us they were unhappy with Farfarello's leadership, and that they've been rebelling a little. They could be working with Rosenkreuz. They did it before, with Agammedo."
The Jackal looked around the room in complete confusion. Wait- wasn't Fujimiya the leader? And yet he was keeping his peace, letting Tsukiyono do the talking. And of all the people Tomás had expected to start strategizing, Tsukiyono had been the last one he would have thought of, aside from maybe Aya. And what was Erasing, and why did that make Kudou their enemy? Had he switched sides?
"Someone needs to fill in clueless over here," Schuldich noted drolly, nodding in the Jackal's direction. He must have mentally filled the others in on Tomás' confusion, because Ran turned to him with an irritated scowl after a moment.
"Omi has always been the official leader and strategist for Weiß," he said shortly. "I wouldn't misjudge him just because of his age if I were you." Omi looked at him quickly, obviously a little surprised at the older man's defense of him.
"An Eraser," Crawford explained, "is someone with the Gift of wiping a person's memories. Iragadachi can erase a few minutes, a day- even an entire lifetime. Wiping the majority of an adult's memory understandably changes their entire attitude and perspective when they have to start from scratch in a completely different environment." He tilted his head towards Schuldich. "Kudou has no memory of Schuldich; he was ordered to kill him, so he set out to do so. He was probably told Schuldich is some sort of evil villian."
"It isn't in Yohji-kun's character to kill someone just because he was told to," Omi agreed quietly. "Even a complete Erase can't get rid of a person's key values."
"But Schuldich-" Nagi started with a frown.
"It's because I have no values," Schuldich interrupted with a wicked grin. Nagi rolled his eyes in disgust.
"What about his tattoo?" Aya ventured nervously.
The others looked at her, and she flushed a little at all the attention. "Well," she stammered, "Schuldich-san didn't have any kind of reminder of what he was. But Yohji-san's tattoo.."
Omi's eyes lit up with brief hope. "Knowing Yohji-kun, it's going to bother him," he said, quickly catching on. "He doesn't remember anything, but he'll realize that at some point in his life he obviously did something horrible he regretted- enough to mark it permanently into his skin."
"That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to make 'Silk' a good guy," Schuldich pointed out with a scowl.
"It depends on how much they've twisted him," Crawford agreed.
"It depends on Yohji," Aya corrected firmly.
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.
A sudden rap on the door startled them. Aya jumped. Schuldich, who was closest, glanced out the window and opened the door with a sultry grin. "The chick from the coffee shop," he said in recognition as Himeno started to step inside. She hesitated just outside the door and glanced up at Schuldich expectantly. He frowned. "Well? Do you want to talk to us out in the cold or something? Get your ass in here."
She nodded and stepped inside.
The Jackal was staring at her. "You're a Pureblood," he blurted.
Steel rang behind him as Ran pulled his katana free of its sheath.
Himeno turned to look at the two swordsmen calmly. "Put up your sword, Fujimiya," she said with a hint of humor to her voice. "I'm not your enemy."
"How did you know she was a Pureblood?" Omi demanded, watching Himeno warily.
"She needed permission to get inside," the Jackal explained, taking a prudent step back, out of Himeno's immediate reach.
"But Vampires have come in the shop before," Omi argued.
"The shop is open to everyone," Crawford pointed out, looking steadily at Himeno. "This half is 'home' for Aya and her brother."
"If you're a Pureblood, why should we trust you?" Ran demanded, stepping protectively in front of Aya.
"If you're insinuating that I'm with Malachi, I'm insulted," Himeno said lightly. "I'm not interested in that madman's plans. Agammedo was a fool, and Malachi is no better. A war against the human world would ultimately hurt us more than help us." She looked at the sword pointedly. "I come on behalf of Hidaka Ken. Am I going to have to deliver his message at sword point?"
Ran glanced towards Crawford, who gave a minute nod of the head. Reluctantly, Ran lowered his blade, though he didn't sheathe it.
Himeno turned her attention on the Jackal. "Ken wants to see you immediately." She flicked her eyes towards Ran. "You, too."
Schuldich's eyes immediately went a little unfocused as he attacked her mind for information.
"Why?" Ran demanded, perplexed. "Is something wrong?"
"He told me to fetch you. He didn't tell me to fill you all in." She glanced sideways at Schuldich from under hooded lids.
Schuldich's eyes focused again, and he gave a humorless grin. "Strong shields, ojousan," he admitted grudgingly. "They won't last forever, though."
"You pick up a few tricks when you've lived as long as I have," she said airily. She turned towards the door once more. "I'm sure Fujimiya will fill you all in when we return. Coming?"
The Jackal followed. After a moment's hesitation, Ran started after them. "Niisan-" Aya gasped in protest, seizing his arm.
He pulled free gently, shaking his head at her. "I'll be all right. Maybe Ken's finally got some answers."
"Watch your back," Crawford advised solemnly.
Ran nodded silently and hurried after the other two.
There was silence for several tense moments, then Schuldich reached out and nudged the door shut with the tip of his shoe.
Aya seemed to shake herself out of her worry and forced herself to smile at the other men. "So," she said brightly, "who's hungry?"

Author's Notes: Sorry it took so long to get this chapter out.. T_T I had absolutely no desire to work on this fic for some reason. Been GW obsessed lately.. @_@;;
Also, I apologize for any mistakes- Mami's on her way to Japan, so couldn't beta it. ^^; I proof-read it as well as I could, but I might've missed a typo somewhere. blehh

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