PART I: THE HUNT
Ch. 1: "Desecration"
Notes: Yes, I know the series ended differently. But you know me, I always gotta tweak the story line... =pp so I guess this is kinda AU. I mess a lot with the concept of the story. ^.^; Those with weak stomachs, don't proceed. *Sweatdrop*
Disclaimer: WK does not belong to me. Neither do the lyrics that proceed each chapter- they're taken from various songs from the "Queen of the Damned" soundtrack. Don't sue. =pp
I'm trapped in this world
Lonely and fading
Heartbroke and waiting
For you to come
We are stuck in this world
That's not meant for me
"Nice work, Farf." Schuldich's nasal voice rung mockingly in the dark church, the flickering shadows casting an eerie look to his arrogant face as he stepped carelessly over a mutilated carcass. He looked around casually, thrusting his hands in his pockets as if observing a piece of art. "I see you were thoughtful enough to leave this one at least one arm."
Behind him the smallest of the mercenaries leaned against a pew, looking vaguely ill as he took in the carnage with cerulean eyes. "Stop it, Schuldich," he commanded softly.
The German ignored him, nudging the limp form of a child with his toe, careful not to get blood on his shoes. "There is no distinction for you, is there, Farf? Young, old... beautiful, crippled.. Look, I think this one's still twitching a bit."
"Schuldich." Nagi's voice was sharp.
"Oh, no- that's just the light." Schuldich glanced around at the sputtering fires in the aisle and on the pews. "Hey, pyro," he called gaily to the figure at the altar, "playtime's over. Get your ass over here so we can go home." There was no response, and after a moment of impatience, the lanky man stepped closer, peering up at the man they called mad.
Farfarello the Berserker stood motionless before the desecrated statue of the Virgin Mary, hands hanging limply by his sides, his favorite carving knife lying by his feet. He was covered from head to toe in blood, gore, and other unrecognizable mess. He stared up at the Mother calmly, his single golden eye glittering in the candlelight as he silently watched the blood slip down the front of the ivory gown, past carved lips and over sad eyes. He tossed aside the chalice he had taken from the communion ceremony he had interrupted, its contents spilling down the stairs. He had finished decorating the statue with the blood of his victims and was feeling a sort of sleepy euphoria as he swayed gently on his feet, gazing up at the symbol of hope and love that he had so thoroughly and deliberately degraded. He reached up almost unconsciously to wipe the sticky fluid from his lips.
Schuldich stepped aside as the blood from the chalice dribbled down the altar steps, flicking jade eyes over his companion's masterpice before turning a hooded gaze on the blood-splattered Irishman. "Bedtime, Farf. Pack up your teddy bear and sleeping bag- we're going. You didn't play nice with the other kids, so you get to sleep at home."
Farfarello turned at last to face him, staring down at him dispassionately. He studied the calm German for a long moment, as if contemplating whether killing him would add to the night's thrills, before bending over smoothly to retrieve his knife. Schuldich grinned tolerantly and motioned for Nagi, in case restraint would be in order.
The members of Schwarz had discovered long ago that those who looked upon Farfarello without fear- even more so for those that accepted him for what he was -were safer than any other man that crossed his path. The joy of the kill came with the fear and horror he invoked, and there was no thrill in killing those who looked into his eyes steadily and fearlessly. The casual accepting, if somewhat amused, eyes of the Mastermind; the unemotionless gaze of the Prodigy; and the indifferent and cold look of the Oracle... he had taken in their glances when they had first met, quickly gauging them and putting them to the test with his fiercest stare.
They had all walked away unscathed.
Even the boy, who he had taken to be the easiest target because of his youth and his moments- such as now -of repulsion, had proved to be untouchable with the strength of his crushing mind.
They had accepted him. And so he had accepted them. Carelessly, almost impulsively, he had accepted them to be his new 'tribe'. They were his people, now.
His own people had long ago abandoned him.
Farfarello gazed up at Schuldich with a gleaming eye. "God is crying, now," he said quietly.
Schuldich raised an eyebrow, taking in his gorey appearance before scanning the aftermath of the massacre that had occured not ten minutes ago. "I can see that."
"Come on, Farfarello." Nagi walked towards them, delicately avoiding the bodies and keeping his eyes on the madman. "You know you weren't supposed to go anywhere tonight. Crawford isn't happy that he had to send us to find you."
Farfarello bared his teeth defiantly, but followed silently as his two teammates led him down the aisle like some morbid parody of a ceremony and outside into the chill night air.
"It's too damn cold out here to be babysitting," Schuldich complained, rummaging for his keys as they strode through the parking lot in long strides. Farfarello never left witnesses- but sooner or later someone was going to come across the destruction, and they didn't plan to be around to answer any questions.
"Get in the car, Dracula," Schuldich said with a mock bow as he held open the passenger door. Farfarello flicked him an unamused look and obediently slid in, staring through the windshield as the door slammed and the other two assassins got in. He turned his head one last time to watch the smoking church disappear in the night as they drove away, feeling a slight smirk of triumph touch his scarred lips.
"At least you won't be needing dinner tonight," Schuldich observed. Nagi leveled a deadpan look at him in the rearview mirror.
Farfarello ignored them. Lifting his knife to his mouth, he calmly and methodically began to lick the blood from it.
It was like drinking candied syrup.
He couldn't sleep.
Ken slid his feet from under the covers, flinching as the soles of his feet touched cold, bare floorboards. He glanced towards the window, where the moonlight was trickling in to illuminate the corner of his dresser and his chair. He sighed as he rose, scratching his head and yawning. It was getting worse each night, he observed ruefully as he opened his bedroom door and padded down the hall. It was harder and harder to get a full night's sleep nowadays, and it was beginning to take a toll on the young man.
He woke up at odd times during the night, restless and wide awake, only to drift off an hour or two later and wake up sandy-eyed the next morning. This was his third time getting up tonight.
He walked downstairs, careful to step over the sixth stair, which always creaked, and padded through the darkened flowershop to the kitchen area in the back. He cursed as he stubbed his toe on the corner of the doorframe, and ran his hand up and down the wall until he encountered the light switch. Blinking at the sudden light, he stumbled over to the fridge and opened it, pulling out his carton of orange juice. He shook it, frowning to himself. Almost gone. He'd just bought the damn thing yesterday. Grumbling to himself about team mates who prudently ignored his requests to leave his juice alone, he seated himself at the table and stubbornly began drinking straight from the carton- a bad habit he'd picked up from Yohji that Aya despised.
He glanced towards the ceiling as he heard a muffled moan of agony and sighed quietly. Aya was having nightmares again.
It was, he admitted to himself, probably the main reason he had chosen to live at the flowershop rather than find his own place as Yohji had. He had lived in his own little apartment for a time, at the beginning of Weiss, until Omi, who stayed in the rooms above the shop with Aya, had come to him with an anxious face to tell him of the nightmares he suspected tortured their cold-eyed partner night after night.
"I'm 'just a kid', and he won't listen to me," the youngest member had said as the two of them prepared breakfast one Saturday while Aya was out visiting his sister in the hospital. "I know he has nightmares, but he won't talk about it, and whenever I bring it up he just ignores me or tells me to be quiet and mind my own business."
Ken had frowned at him, reaching for the cutting board. "You know Aya. He won't listen to anyone."
"He might listen to you," Omi protested, tucking eggs into the crook of his arm and nudging the fridge door shut with his hip. He'd turned those big puppy dog eyes on him, then, and Ken had known he was trapped. "Please try to talk to him, Ken-kun. Help him. He won't listen to me, and he definitely doesn't think Yohji-kun has any kind of worthy opinion. Onegai."
And so he had tried to talk to Aya about it- which had of course blown up in his face as he'd known it would. But after hearing the almost breathless sob one night coming from the older man's room as he walked by to the bathroom, he hadn't had the heart to leave him alone with his suffering. He had made it clear to the hard-faced man that he would be there if Aya ever had the need to come talk to him at night (as unlikely as that would be), and had been living in one of the upstairs rooms ever since. Yohji scoffed at him, saying Aya's pain was not one that could be so easily mollified, but Ken couldn't make himself leave the mysterious young man's side. Aya *did* trust him, to an extent- perhaps more than the others. In the time that they had fought, eaten, and killed together, Aya had become an important part of Ken's life, and turning his back on him was the last thing he wanted to do. If Aya sensed it, he certainly didn't broach the subject, but he did seem to be closer to Ken these days- in his own quiet, short-tempered way.
Ken finished his juice and rose, tossing the carton in the trashcan and wiping the back of his mouth with his hand. He blinked as headlights flashed in the window above the sink and squinted at the car that drove past. He blinked again and rubbed his eyes, looking more closely, but the car was gone. For a second there he'd thought he'd seen Schwarz.
Damn, he really was tired.
Yawning, he shuffled back upstairs towards his room, hoping to be able to get some sleep. He paused by Aya's door, leaning against he wood and listening carefully. No sound issued forth, so he continued on to his own room.
The phone by his bed rang just as he was shutting the door behind him, and he hurried over, wondering who could be calling at this ungodly hour.
He snatched up the receiver and raised it to his ear, hoping an emergency hadn't come up. "Moshi moshi."
"I knew you'd be up." Manx's tone was droll on the line. "Don't you ever sleep?"
Ken grinned ruefully, sitting down on his bed. "Sometimes. Why are you calling so late, Manx-san?"
"I'm dropping by the shop tomorrow morning with someone I want you all to meet." Manx's voice was crisp and businesslike now. "Don't open the shop tomorrow."
"All right..." Ken scratched his head, blinking. "Is this a new mission?" She'd never called them the night prior to give them a head's up on a mission before.
"You'll see," Manx said mysteriously, and hung up.
Ken stared at the reciever blankly for a few moments, listening to the dial tone, before hanging up the phone. Someone to meet? Who? He slid under his covers and settled his head back on his pillow, frowning at the shadowed ceiling above.
For some reason his stomach was filled with butterflies, and he wondered at it.
Yohji yawned, blinking blearily up at Aya as he seated himself on the couch in the store's basement, cradling a mug of coffee. "Why couldn't we come in later since we're not opening up shop today?" he grumbled.
Aya ignored him, standing with arms crossed at the base of the stairs, looking up at the doorway above. Omi was upstairs to allow Manx and their mysterious visitor inside.
Ken sprawled in the old chair adjacent to the couch, munching on an apple.
Yohji scowled at Aya and turned to Ken instead. "Didn't she say anything else?" he demanded. "Like who the hell it is we're supposed to be meeting?"
Ken shook his head, taking another bite of his apple. "No, she was pretty abrupt. You know, Yohji, you should eat an apple in the morning. It's supposed to wake you up quicker than caffiene."
Yohji offered him a sleepy glare and turned back to his coffee. Ken shrugged and dropped it.
They heard Omi give a cheerful greeting upstairs as he lifted the gate over the front door.
"They're here," Ken said unnecessarily, straightening.
"Finally," Yohji grumbled, looking pointedly at his watch. "We've been waiting for an hour and a half."
"That's enough," Aya said, not even bothering to look at him.
Yohji made an immature face at him.
Then Manx was coming down the stairs, heels thumping on the wooden staircase, Omi leading the way. She beamed at them all, tapping her purse against the wall as she stopped by Aya. "Right, everyone here?" Her eyes skimmed them briefly before she turned to gesture to the figure emerging from the staircase. "Everyone, I'd like you to meet Ryo."
The man halted beside Manx and looked them all over with a cold eye. He said nothing. Ken blinked.
He was a tall man, even taller than Yohji, but with a bulkier, more muscular build. His blond hair was cropped in a military cut, and his small, dark blue eyes were impassive. He was dressed in a tight black leather vest and faded jeans that fit him like a second skin. His firm, square jaw was nicked with a small scar.
"Welcome to earth, GI Joe," Yohji muttered under his breath. Ken scratched quickly at his nose to cover his nervous smile. Omi had scooted over to the couch to get as far away from the hulking man as he politely could, and his smile wavered with uncertainty.
Aya, as always, was unimpressed. He didn't move or uncross his arms as he gazed stonily at the big man. He waited silently for Manx to explain herself.
Manx felt the tension in the air and cleared her throat delicately. "There's something we haven't told you," she began steadily. "Something Persia kept from you-- the main reason why you four were hired."
Yohji quirked a brow in silent inquiry.
Ken's ears perked up at that. Sure, it was obvious why Omi, Aya, and Yohji had been hired. They'd had skills since long before they'd been dragged into Weiß. But he had never fully understood why he himself had been hired.
"We kept it from you because it looked like this wouldn't be necessary," Manx continued with a grave look on her pretty face, arms loosely crossed and hips cocked. "However, Ryo here has seen something that suggests we'd better go ahead and get this over with."
Something like regret flickered in her eyes. "This will make your lives harder, and I'm sorry this has to be done, but it's the only way you can survive."
"What are you talking about?" Aya snapped impatiently, eyes narrowing. He hated it when people beat around the bush.
Manx gestured to Aya. "Ryo?"
Ryo nodded curtly and stepped forward, reaching for Aya with one meaty hand, eyes chips of blue ice.
Ken and Yohji started to their feet with cries of alarm, but the big man had already seized Aya's face in a crushing grip.
Aya gave a violent start and tried to jerk away, but the older man was enormously strong. He squeezed tighter, and Aya gave a gurgled cry, sagging to his knees.
"Stop it!!" Ken shouted, dodging Yohji and leaping for the huge man. "You're going to kill him!"
"Be still, Siberian," Manx snapped in a voice like a whip, her face hard. "This has to be done."
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