||Chapter 22||

"Whoa, hold on," Ken said quickly, taking a step forward and putting his hands up to show he meant no harm. "Let us explain-"
"Nobody move," Kiki said shortly, never taking her eyes or her gun from Ryoko. The half-blood was starting to look annoyed.
Just then Farfarello came wandering back in. Crawford turned an annoyed glare on him, which he ignored. Kiki's eyes widened at the sight of him.
"You're a Vampire Hunter, right?" Ken demanded quickly. "We're on your side. Don't get all trigger happy on us."
"I'm not on the side of Vampire sympathizers," Kiki said firmly.
"But she's only half Vampire," Aya protested. Ryoko shot her a glare.
"..Half...?" Kiki's eyes widened slightly. "She's-"
"Adir'avar," Ryoko finished with an arrogant toss of her long red mane.
Farfarello had been crouching like a cat on the ground, watching everything in silence. He rose fluidly to his feet, face impassive, and started towards Kiki.
Her eyes twitched towards him nervously, her grip on her firearm tightening. Her nostrils flared. Ken couldn't really blame her. Farfarello tended to scare the piss out of people who weren't used to his scars.
"Freeze, buster," Kiki snapped. She had nerve, Ken would give her that. "Don't take another god damned step." Her gaze shot towards Omi when he didn't say anything. "Lancelot, you're telling me you're in on all this??"
"Kiki-san, you have it wrong," he protested. "Please just hear us out."
Farfarello was still advancing. Kiki turned her weapon on him. "I said-"
Nagi heaved a sigh of impatience. Kiki yelped as her gun's safety suddenly clicked on, and the clip fell to the ground with a clatter. She tried to snatch it up, but it jumped into the air and landed in Nagi's waiting palm. He tossed it to Crawford, who caught it deftly.
"I think we'd all be more comfortable if we could talk without the gun pointed at us," Nagi observed as Kiki gaped at him.
She remained kneeling by her partner for a moment as she tried to accept what she'd just seen; before she could decide what course of action to take next, a strong hand wrapped around her upper arm. She gasped as Farfarello hauled her to her feet effortlessly, handling her as easily he would a child. He forced her into the stool Nagi had vacated, and stared balefully at her terrified yet indignant face.
"Listen," he said simply.
Omi began to explain. She listened.


Ryan Park had been a plain-looking man in his life: a businessman of perhaps thirty or so, with sandy brown hair, tired looking brown eyes, and an unimpressive height of five foot seven. The pale skin cast that came from being a Vampire made him look a little sickly, and his upper lip was twisted slightly- a birth defect -so that it seemed his mouth was forever caught in a leer, allowing the hint of one fang to peek through. Not ugly, yet not someone you would give a second glance to. Just another boring American in an expensive suit that would have fit better on a more broad-shouldered man.
But Park was old- much older than Malachi. That made him stronger and more powerful, and Malachi held a healthy respect for the other Undead, even if he wasn't particuarly fond of him.
Park had been a strictly straight man in his days as a human, but around his hundred and thirteenth year mark, he began to reluctantly accept the fact that there was pleasure to be derived from the male body just as easily as the female. After a time he came to enjoy either sex. As a previously heterosexual man, however, he kept a certain aesthetic preference. The men he chose to warm his bed tended to be only the most attractive males he could find-- Vampire or human. Malachi himself caused the Vampire's eyes to linger, but Malachi was to become a Vampire Lord at the end of this, so he let him be.
It was Rosenkreuz's newest protoge that had caught his eye.

Ash felt the skin on the back of his neck crawl, causing the little hairs there to stand on end. He didn't have to turn around to know the lecherous American Lord was watching him again from where he was lounging on the sofa.
The pyrokinetic was seated at the dining room table in the hotel suite Rosenkreuz had chosen as their temporary headquarters, going over the profiles of their targets that had been provided for them. Silk was perched in a chair beside him, straddling the back of it as he flipped through the paper, chatting amiably. His eyes shifted to the right, where one of their new teammates was standing by the window, holding the curtain aside and gazing outside at the world below with a bored look on her face.
He felt a frown tug at the corners of his mouth, glancing down at the paper in his hand. Tsukiyono Omi, 17 years old. He looked back up at the girl beside the window. How on earth had such young children been recruited to be assassins? How could their minds handle it? The boy in the picture smiled sunnily up at him, eyes as clear as a summer day. His frown deepened. OK, so the girl at the window didn't exactly look like the kind of girl you'd bring home to your mother, but still... She was only.. what, fifteen? And she was an assassin?
"Oi, Jenell," Silk called, holding up a picture of a stern-faced man with dark hair and thin-rimmed glasses. "You said you knew Schwarz, right? You fought them before?"
She turned her head to regard him for a moment, before a bright little smile lit her face. On Tsukiyono Omi it looked charming. On her it looked a little creepy.
"Ja, that's right," she chirped. "They are very annoying."
She twitched the curtain closed and bounded over to the table, leaning on her elbows and grinning up at Silk like the Chesire Cat. "But they are not so tough. We can handle them." She flicked her fingers at the photos dismissively, lip curling in contempt. She lifted the hand to inspect the sparkly silver nail polish, checking for any chips in the paint.
Ash stared at her silently. He hadn't been quite sure what to make of her when they'd been introduced at the airport, and he had yet to make up his mind about her.
Jenell Dietrich may act her age the majority of the time, but her mind ran on a completely different track than your run-of-the-mill teenage girl. Her strong accent gave away her heritage- pure German. Despite this, she spoke Japanese flawlessly, as well as four other different languages, including Gaelic and English. She was something of a genius. Not that she looked the part.
Her wild dirt-blond hair was currently up in a sloppy ponytail, little wisps and locks falling every which way. She was constantly pushing them out of her face with small, calloused hands. Her eyes were a vibrant green that looked fake- Ash had been sure they were contacts. But no, they were her natural color, a shade so bright it looked almost eerie on her round, dimpled face. She was wearing a black miniskirt with suspenders and a striped long-sleeved shirt cut low to give a peep of what little cleavage there was. Lips coated with a liberal amount of silver lipgloss to match her nails moved constantly as she chewed noisily on a wad of gum, occassionally producing a large bubble, only to pop it, pull it in, and continue to chew in one continuous cycle that was beginning to get on Ash's nerves. She was full of energy, rarely standing still unless she was being serious. And when she was serious, she looked nothing like a fifteen year old girl dressed up like a father's nightmare. It irked Ash that he could be intimidated by a little girl, but there was no helping it. It certainly explained why she was in the midst of a powerful group of assassins and not in school where she belonged.
And there was her Gift, of course, which could probably rival his own.
She caught him looking at her and stared rudely back. Smack smack smack- still with the gum chewing. "What are you looking at, rotschopf?" (1)
Ash blinked at her. "What?"
She blew a sigh of impatience and slid off the table before straightening. She put her hands behind her head and wandered in a lazy circle around the den. "What the hell is taking Hwang so long?" she complained loudly. "He's been gone forever!"
Ash glanced at his watch. "He's only been out a little over an hour..."
"Who asked you??" she demanded irritably.
Ash shut his mouth with a click of teeth and stared at her, bemused. He was never sure just how to handle the hot-headed girl. Sometimes he thought he should forgive her little temper tantrums and blame it on a rough childhood and the horrible things she must have seen as a teenage assassin.
Other times he wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake the hell out of her.
"Chill, chibi," Silk drawled. Her eyes went instantly to him. She seemed to have developed an infatuation with the easily sensual blond. For some reason Ash felt a little twinge of irritation at the way she clung to his every word. Silk offered her a lazy smile, tapping his finger against the picture by his hand. "So what about this guy? 'Schuldich' is German, right? Tell us about him."
Jenell twisted her silver lips in a disdainful sneer that would have looked more impressive on someone who'd perfected the art.
Ash frowned, giving his head a small shake. Who had he seen with a mouth like that, that could curl so easily into a condescension that made his blood boil..? (2)
It was there and gone like a moth caught in the path of a freight train, and he shrugged it off after a moment, concentrating on the conversation.
"He's not so great," Jenell said huffily, prancing over and tapping a nail against the information listed. "He thinks he is hot shit just because he's a telepath. But Souma-sama is much stronger than him. He can block our minds so he can't hear us. Other than that, the only other thing he's good with is his big fat mouth." She scowled down at the paper, eyes turned inward. "Arschloch."
"What does 'Schuldich' mean?" Ash asked, gazing at the man's sullen face. He hadn't been too happy to have his picture taken, evidently.
"Schuldig," Jenell corrected with a sniff, "means guilty. Or sinful. It fits him."
"So aside from his telepathy, he isn't much of a threat?" Silk murmured, gazing at the paper thoughtfully. Ash could almost see his mind ticking, planning ways to kill the orange-haired German.
"Ja. Oh- he is fast, like Hwang. But you will be able to handle it." She flashed a bright smile, showing her dimples. Silk smiled back.
Ash frowned.
"What about this guy?" he interrupted, reaching over to touch the picture of the somber-faced American. "Brad Crawford," he read aloud.
"He is a traitor," Jenell snapped.
Both men looked at her, a little surprised by the venom in her voice.
"Forget him," she said shortly, slicing the air with her hand. Her grim face looked suddenly older- more dangerous. Her bright green eyes burned with fierce hatred and anticipation. "Felix will take care of him. He has a score to settle."
"A traitor?" Ash repeated.
"What kind of score?" Silk asked at the same time. Predictably, Jenell chose to answer him and ignore Ash's own question.
"Brad killed the other member of our team, long ago," she said, leaning in conspiratorially and allowing an open view down the front of her shirt. To Ash's relief, Silk's eyes remained on the girl's face. "It was our Teleport, Felix's older cousin. He has been waiting for a chance to take his revenge." Her smile was unpleasant.
Ash had forgotten about the American Vampire, and gave a little jump when a hand descended on his shoulder and Park leaned in to join the conversation. It seemed like an obvious excuse to get close to Ash and touch him, and the redhead felt his skin crawl. Stop it, he commanded himself silently. You're jumping to conclusions.
"Where is the Alchemist?" Park asked Jenell. His thumb moved slightly in what could have been a small massage on Ash's shoulder.
Silk's smile had frozen on his face, his jade eyes riveted to Park's hand.
Jenell didn't notice. She was waving a hand vaguely, inspecting the pictures of Weiß. "Oh, he is around... I don't question him, he's the boss. I suppose he has gone to bed already. He likes to sleep a lot."
Park's hand slid from Ash's shoulder, but before the pyro had the chance to be relieved, said hand was across the table and wrapped around Jenell's throat in the blink of an eye.
Her eyes widened, and she made a gurgling noise, going absolutely still.
"You will not speak so indifferently to me, little girl," Park murmured, eyes hooded and voice dripping with menace. "You will give me the respect I deserve, or what little respect I hold for you will disappear. That makes you useless to me, and I will kill you. Do you understand?" His fingers flexed, and Jenell wheezed for air, eyes wild. Her fingers dug into the table edge as she forced herself not to claw at the hand slowly choking her.
"Do you understand?" Park repeated ominously.
Jenell managed to gasp in just enough air to squawk, "J-Ja... Park..sama..."
He released her abruptly and straightened, watching with disdain as she collapsed on the tabletop, coughing and sputtering. Silk pat her on the back anxiously in an attempt to help her breathe.
Ash looked up at the American, who caught him looking and gave him a long, hard stare. "That goes for all of you," he added.
Ash lowered his gaze. Satisfied, Park relaxed a little and reached out. Ash stiffened when a grip like a steel band captured his chin and jerked his face up so he was locking gazes with the Vampire Lord. "Good boy," Park murmured, eyes roving over Ash's face as if he was drinking him in. Ash was rigid with the effort of staying absolutely still, a shiver of fear and revulsion rolling up and down his spine.
Silk's eyes narrowed slightly, his fingers clenching the cloth on the back of Jenell's shirt. Thinking he was angry at how she had been treated, she reached up and grasped his hand to show she was all right. His grip loosened at her touch, and he looked away from Park quickly before the older man could see his expression.
Finally Park released Ash and strode from the room.
The room was dead silent until they heard the front door shut and the man's expensive shoes clicking on the wood hallway outside.
Ash released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, closing his eyes as he fought to control the shudder that wracked him. Anger seeped in to replace the majority of the fear now that the threat was gone. Silk took his hand away from Jenell, and she straightened, her bright eyes snapping with obvious hatred.
"I would like to kill that man," she growled.
"Then why don't you?" Silk murmured, hard eyes on Ash, who was wiping sweaty palms on his knees.
"Ch'." Jenell tossed her hair over her shoulder and sauntered back over to the window. "Rosenkreuz forbids it, and we are loyal to them. Even if Rosenkreuz cannot stop me, Felix can. They are not so strong without Thomas-sama and Urumi-sama. They are lucky to have those who are loyal to them, like us. I would do nothing to anger or displease them. So I must put up with that American dog until they are finished with him." She jerked the curtain aside to glower at the dark sky. "Where is Hwang?" she burst out in exasperation.
Silk reached out to touch Ash's shoulder; startled violet eyes jumped to him. "Daijabou?" he murmured.
Ash nodded once.
"Don't let him get to you," Silk urged quietly. "Always remember that you have an edge. Vampires don't like fire, right?"
Jenell's sharp ears caught his reassurances. She turned to sneer at them both as if they were fools. "Do not even think of using your Gift against that man unless Rosenkreuz tells you to. Besides, he is too old for fire to hurt him too much. It is only the Alchemist he has reason to fear, and Felix will not hurt him."
Silk frowned at her, but before he could speak, one of the bedroom doors opened, and Birman emerged, pulling her hair up into a bun. Her eyes drifted to the table, and she nodded in greeting. "Kudou."
Silk and Ash glanced at each other, then at her, their faces puzzled.
Birman blanched, and said quickly, "Kudos to you. For not doing anything foolish, I mean. You don't want to piss Park off. He's stronger than you think."
Jenell was giving Birman a dirty look, as if she'd just said something stupid.
Ash turned back to the pictures before him, picking up the four profiles of Weiß. Fujimiya Aya, Hidaka Ken, Manx, and Tsukiyono Omi. The two women didn't look like they would be much of a threat, and neither did Tsukiyono for that matter. It was this 'Ken' he had to focus on. That must be their leader. He was the one who had formed an alliance of some sort with Japan's fearsome looking Vampire Lord.
"Is Hwang back yet?" Birman asked, looking to Jenell.
The German girl gave an uninterested shrug, turning her back on the woman. Her respect for Birman was minimal at best. "Nein."
As if on cue, the front door slammed open.
Ash jumped, turning an annoyed glare towards the front hall.
Hwang came storming in, cursing in Hongul and clutching a bloodied shoulder. He was positively livid. Jenell sighed and walked over to inspect the wound, snapping at him in his native tongue as she tried to figure out what had happened.
The spikey-haired man sat down heavily in the chair across from Ash, snarling as his young teammate peeled off his jacket and shirt to get to his shoulder wound. A first aid kit came floating over from the bathroom.
"Jesus." Birman came over quickly. "They actually got you? Who was it? The Irishman with the sword? Crawford?"
"Some fucking little cunt," Hwang growled, wincing as Jenell deftly began to clean and dress the wound. "That bitch that has no Gift."
Birman's eyebrows shot to her hairline. "Aya??" she guessed incredulously. She was looking at the man like he'd just announced a sex change. "Fujimiya Aya got you?"
"Shut up," Hwang barked, obviously miffed at her attitude. "I was busy with the others, and the slut threw a fucking butcher knife at me!!"
"That was careless of you," Jenell observed unsympathetically. "This will need stitches. Hold still."
Birman's face contorted as if she wanted to laugh, but didn't dare.
Ash glanced at the pictures in his hand. Hmm. Maybe this Aya wasn't as helpless as she looked...


A hot, calloused hand slid underneath Ken's shirt, splaying against his lower back. He just barely managed to swallow back a gasp, shooting his lover an incredulous look over his shoulder. Japan's fearless Vampire Lord, however, seemed more intent on studying the tanned skin revealed to him than paying attention to war talk.
Ken felt like whacking the man upside the head with a flower pot.
Sometimes he was seriously convinced his lover had the attention span of a gnat.
Luckily no one but the Irishman was behind Ken, so no one had noticed. And he couldn't protest without drawing attention to them and getting embarrassed. He did his best to ignore the possessive touch, trying to focus on what was being said. Kiki was asking a lot of questions- good questions. Schuldich had been right. She was one smart cookie.
Farfarello had obviously decided this conversation wasn't interesting enough to hold his attention. He shifted closer to Ken, running his hand a little higher, golden eye locked on the strong back revealed as he nudged the shirt higher. Ken caught the involuntary whimper that tried to escape and strangled it.
Crawford and Omi were being careful in how much they revealed. They let Kiki know there were Vampires involved, and that they were enemies of the Vampires. They did not tell her who Farfarello was, or anything about Rosenkreuz and the conspiracy they had. Kiki may be a Hunter, and a slight help, but they saw no need to entangle her any further than she already was. Farfarello seemed to agree, because he was currently more interested in distracting his lover than offering any input.
Crawford did let her know that Yohji and Ran had been kidnapped by the Vampires; she seemed reluctant to accept the idea that they might still be alive, but promised to let them know if she saw them.
Damn, soccer punk, you wouldn't believe the thoughts stirring at the back of Count Dracula's mind right about now. Schuldich's voice was half surprised, half amused. Ken flushed, shooting an angry glare towards the ceiling. The German was still sulking on the rooftop.
Shut the fuck up, Schuldich. It's because he has horndogs like you around to use as an example.
You want me to give him some ideas? Schuldich suggested helpfully, sounding very smug. He's not very imaginative. I guess cuz you're his first. But hey, no biggy. Not everyone is as flexible or adaptable as Kudou..
Now there were some mental images he could do without. Knock it off!!
The fingers on his back tensed, fingernails digging into his skin. Glancing over his shoulder, he caught Farfarello glaring upwards as well. He might not be privy to the conversation between Ken and the German, but the bond between himself and his lover let him know his partner was distressed about something. Since nothing too disturbing was happening in the shop, he immediately shifted the blame- correctly -to the most probable cause of Ken's agitation.
Call off your guard dog, Hidaka, Schuldich snorted. Overprotective, much? But he pulled himself from Ken's mind and left him alone.
Sirens wailed, announcing the arrival of the backup and the ambulance.
Ken reached back and dragged his lover's hand from under his shirt, keeping a firm grip on the man's wrist. "Come on, Farfarello," he murmured. "It's best if you keep out of sight." He led the unresisting Vampire out the back door and hurried to the next alley over. As they paused by some trashcans, Ken glanced around to make sure none of the police had spotted them and were coming over to investigate. Before he could so much as give a sigh of relief, a strong hand had captured the back of his skull.
He found himself staring into an intense amber gaze inches from his face. A moment later his back was against the hard wall, a pale body pressed to his own.
"Farfarello," he hissed, "this isn't the time for-"
Ken hesitated at the quiet word.
Farfarello gazed at him solemnly. "Time is unknown. Uncertain."
Ken blinked, staring at his lover in confusion. "What do you mean?"
Full lips brushed his own as Farfarello murmured against his mouth, "The Alchemist is here. The next 'time', we might be dead."
Ken blinked, taking in a shuddering breath. For such morbid words, Farfarello didn't seem afraid or sad. Not that these were emotions he'd seen much coming from his lover anyway. But for him to actually say that...
He shivered, reaching up instinctively to grasp the man's shoulders.
He thought about the look that had flashed across Farfarello's face when Crawford had told him Nebel had arrived. Nagi saying how someone on that team had nearly killed the Irishman.
In Farfarello's mind, they were going to die. He had accepted it. He might be wrong- but he wasn't about to take any chances.
Ken put up no more protests, leaning forward the last inch to meet his lover's mouth with his own as nimble fingers slid between his thighs.
His breath caught as that hand- firm, yet careful -began kneading him. Farfarello leaned against him, kissing him hard, his free hand still possessively gripping Ken's skull. After a few moments the hand between his legs slipped away to grasp his hip, so that they were pressed groin to groin. Ken moaned into his partner's mouth, wrapping his arms around strong shoulders.
Farfarello gave a growl and lowered his other hand, forcing it underneath Ken's shirt. Ken shifted, lifting a leg and entangling it with his lover's to get more pronounced friction as Farfarello ground against him almost violently, scraping his back against the wall.
Ken arched his hips to meet him, pulling his mouth free to gasp for air, and hot breath fell on his neck. The grip on his waist grew painful, the thrusts more frantic, and Ken's vision blurred and darkened as hot pleasure rolled up and down his spine with each roll of his hips.
A hard mouth over his, one last twist of the hips, an almost-snarl reverberating against his tongue, and his vision whited out with his sudden release. His shout went down Farfarello's throat, muffling the noise to anyone about. Farfarello shuddered violently against him.

Slowly Ken recovered from his daze, blinking as the world came back into focus. Somehow he'd slid down the wall and was sitting with Farfarello slumped in between his legs, panting against his shoulder. After a moment Ken lifted his arms from around the Berserker's shoulders to bury his fingers in sun-kissed hair. He tugged, lifting the man's head so he could see the hooded yellow eye.
Without really knowing why, he leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to the other man's forehead.
Farfarello's eye widened slightly, and he started to pull his head away. Ken released his grip on the man's short hair, letting his hands fall on pale shoulders. He gave a mock sigh of tolerance and offered a quirky grin. "Well that was refreshing," he drawled.
The hint of tension left Farfarello's face, and he grunted, giving Ken a deadpan stare. Ken chuckled affectionately and rose to his feet alongside the Vampire Lord. He flinched and looked down at himself in disgust. "Ick. Now I've got this uncomfortable wet spot in my jeans. Dammit. This is gonna be a pain in the ass to walk around in until we get home." He glanced towards Farfarello's own pants and sighed. Ken's were dark enough to cover it for awhile, but Farfarello's were too light-colored. He shrugged out of his jacket and tied it around his lover's waist to hide the faint stain.
"Farfarello, I want you to be honest with me."
The Irishman looked at him silently, waiting. His eye was guarded, though his face was typically unreadable.
Ken looked him in the eye. "Are you afraid of Nebel? At all?"
Farfarello gazed at him for a long time without speaking, his expression revealing nothing. Finally he said simply, "Everyone is afraid."
The Vampire Lord turned his back and began to walk back to the shop. After a moment's hesitation, Ken hurried after him, frowning.
Perhaps the former Berserker of Schwarz did not fully comprehend the emotion that was fear. Even if he did, he was not the type of man to reveal his fears to anyone.
Not even his own lover.

Author's Notes: There. A little Farf/Ken action. I hope all you little perverts are happy. -.-; Sorry if it came across sketchy or weird, but it's five thirty in the morning and I haven't been to bed yet. >< My muses are evil evil little insomniacs. That doesn't make my brain any less muddled at this time in the morning. Urrgh...

(1) Rotschopf= redhead
(2) Ah, Schu, how highly he thinks of you... -.-;;
(3) Arschloch= asshole

Back to Amiko's Fics
Back to Vermilion
Ch. 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Ch. 10
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15
Ch. 16
Ch. 17
Ch. 18
Ch. 19
Ch. 20
Ch. 21
Ch. 23
Ch. 24
Ch. 25
Ch. 26
Ch. 27