PART II: THE ALLIANCE
Ch. 16: "A Proposition"
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. Any songs from different sources will have a disclaimer at the bottom. Don't sue. =pp
Did you think its cool to walk right up
To take my life and fuck it up
Well did you
I hate you
Yohji stood wild-eyed in the kitchen doorway, mouth agape. Seated at the table, palms flat on the wood surface before him and frowning faintly, Aya muttered, "Oops."
Ken picked up the fire extinguisher from beside his seat and quickly put out the fire that had engulfed the napkin holder.
He sighed. "Try again," he offered, pushing the unlit candle a little closer to the other man.
"What the hell's going on in here?" Yohji demanded, rubbing at his eyes.
Ken glanced towards him. "Practice," he said simply.
"You slept in, Yohji-kun," Omi observed from where he was making pancakes at the stove. "It's almost ten. I tried to call you earlier."
"Yeah, got your message," Yohji said, edging around the table and watching Aya's face warily. "Didn't feel like getting out of bed. Something about how you ran into some bloodsuckers last night or somethin'?"
Omi's eyes stayed on his work as he flipped a pancake, stalling. Inwardly he was going over in his mind exactly how much he could tell his friends. He couldn't let them know about Nagi. Who knew how they would react to that? But they would want to know how he'd managed to escape- and that had been Schuldich's unexpected rescue. There were just too many holes in the tale he'd thought up last night, and he wasn't a natural liar in the first place. Especially not with his team. Not when important facts could get them killed.
Ken saved him, unaware of the younger boy's tension. "Let's eat first," he said. "By the way, where were you last night, Yohji?"
Omi looked on in surprise as Yohji's face turned a bright crimson color. Since when was Yohji embarrassed about his nightlife? "Out," the older man muttered, inspecting his fingernails with sudden interest.
There was a quiet whoosh, and they turned at Ken's triumphant crow. Aya sat back in his chair, gazing at the lit candle with the slightest hint of a smug smile.
"Practice makes perfect," Omi quoted with a lopsided grin.
Ken turned in his seat to face the other boy. "Yeah, but who are you gonna practice on?"
"Let him use Yohji," Aya said absently, reaching out to pinch out the small flame with his fingers. He stared at the wick and a moment later it sputtered to life again.
"Me?" Yohji repeated indignantly.
"Yeah, I'm helping Aya," Ken pointed out. "If he burns himself, he's gonna need a Healer, right? And someone with a fire extinguisher nearby. Don't be a chicken, Yohji, he just has to do a little practice. It's not like it's harmful or anything. You just kinda.. become a zombie for a couple minute."
"How comforting," Yohji said with heavy sarcasm.
"Onegai, Yohji-kun?" Omi pleaded, bringing out his backup weapon. Yohji gulped as he was assailed with big blue eyes, shining with hope.
"I have no one else to practice on," Omi fretted, sticking out his bottom lip for good measure. Nagi had told him drolly on more than one occassion that it was that puppy-dog, little boy look that made people trip over themselves to comply with his wishes. Ever since learning that, he used the weapon mercilessly when he could. "Onegaiii.."
"That's not fair," Yohji sputtered, looking everywhere but at the younger boy. "Ken, will you tell this runt to knock it off??"
"I'm not doing anything," Omi proclaimed innocently, instantly dropping the begging look as Ken glanced towards him.
"Yohji, knock it off," Ken sighed.
"Just do it, Yohji," Aya said firmly.
Omi shot Yohji another wide-eyed look. Yohji threw his hands up in the air in disgusted defeat. "Christ! Fine, fine... Just don't make me walk off a roof or dance in the street naked or anything, or I swear to God..."
"I won't, I promise," Omi said quickly, smiling radiantly. "Arigato. I promise I'll help you think of a way to practice your Gift afterwards." He began transferring the pancakes to a platter. "Who wants breakfast?"
As Aya cleared away the charred remains of the napkins and Omi served his friends their breakfast, he tried to think desperately of a way to tell them what had happened last night without bringing up Nagi too much. His mind was running a blank and he was nearly panicking when they sat down and Ken looked at the younger boy expectantly.
"So, what happened?" he asked, reaching for the syrup. "You said something about a vampire attack?"
"Uhh..." Omi swallowed hard. "Pass the milk?" he asked meekly, and Aya, arching a brow in mild suspicion at the other boy's obvious reluctance to talk, passed it silently. Now all eyes were on him as he took his time pouring his drink, his heart hammering in his ears. He couldn't take this any longer. Schwarz knew about Nagi- he shouldn't let the other boy suffer alone. It wasn't fair. And to hell with what they thought about it, he thought to himself fiercely, with more confidence than he really felt.
He set the milk down decisively and met their eyes, knowing his face was flaming. "Actually, last night when we ran into the vampires, we were... I mean..."
"Wait a sec," Yohji interrupted, fork waggling in between his fingers as he waited for the syrup. "What do you mean 'we'?"
"I..." Omi tried to swallow, but there was a lump in his throat.
"Knock knock," a cheerful, familiar voice interrupted.
They turned in surprise as Manx waved at them from the window above the sink. Ken rose hastily and went to the back door, unlocking it and opening it for her. "Manx- what are you..." he trailed off, and his partners were immediately alerted by the way his back stiffened.
Manx walked in, brushing her bangs from her face and smiling beautifically at them all. "Good morning," she said briskly. "I think it's time to get down to business." She beckoned over her shoulder. "Come in, please. All of you."
And the four men of Schwarz walked into Weiß's sanctuary.
Tatiana found Talon parked across the street from the flower shop, sipping coffee from a cafe down the street and looking bored, slouched in his seat.
"Haven't been watching very carefully, have you?" Tatiana accused, sliding into the passenger door and stealing a donut from the bag beside her partner.
He scowled at her a little. "I thought I told you to watch Scwharz."
"I am," she said primly, nibbling at the donut and watching the closed shop. "They just went inside."
"WHAT??" Talon almost spilled his coffee all over himself with the suddeness he sat up. He looked around quickly. "I didn't see anything!"
"They went in the back," Tatiana said smugly, enjoying the other man's reaction. She liked getting a rise out of him when she could. Did good for his damned overly enflamed ego. "That secretary who works with Weiß was with them. Dumbass," she added.
He barely heard the last comment, too busy craning his neck out the window as he looked for a place to park where they would be able to see the back door.
"There's nowhere we can park to get a good view that wouldn't make them suspicious," Tatiana pointed out, popping the rest of the sugared donut into her mouth. "Shoulda bugged the place."
"That's been tried in the past. That little one.. Sushiyono or whatever... He got rid of them. And they have scramblers."
"Ah." She reached for another donut.
"Get your own," Talon snapped.
"Bite me," Tatiana suggested mildly, then gobbled the donut in two bites when he tried to snatch it from her.
"Brat," he growled.
They were on their feet almost as one, instinctively reaching for weapons they didn't have on them.
Then Aya reacted with the one weapon he did have.
Crawford's sleeve caught on fire, the flames quickly licking their way hungrily towards his elbow.
"Aya-kun, matte!!" Omi cried desperately.
"AYA!" Manx shouted at the same time.
Crawford thrust his arm in the sink by the window calmly, never taking his eyes from Aya. Nagi glanced towards the sink at the same instant, and the knobs twisted, spewing cold water from the faucet and dousing the flames. They sizzled as they died, and the room stank with the smell of burnt material.
"Jumpy?" Schuldich teased, smirking at Aya.
Aya's eyes narrowed, but before he could do anything else, Manx planted herself firmly in his path. "That's enough, Absynnian," she said sharply. "Calm down."
"Impressive, Aya," Crawford said drolly, his face as composed as always, though there was a twinkle of amusement to his eyes.
Aya glared at him in loathing.
"So why didn't you just finish the job and set my hair on fire?" Crawford's tone was amused now.
Aya refused to answer him. But Ken knew the reason. Manx had brought Schwarz with her. That much was obvious. Although Aya's first instinct had been to lash out at his enemies, there had still been a slight hesitation. They weren't sure about Manx anymore. Was she an enemy? Or wasn't she? He could very well have set Crawford's hair on fire- and probably the whole of Schwarz in the same thought; only Manx's presence had given him pause. The thought scared Ken more than a little. He remembered reading a book, sometime ago. One by Stephen King, the "master of horror". Fire Starter, it had been called: a story about a little girl with pyrokinesis. Reading about the things she could do had made him shudder a little, but of course he had never believed in those things. It was just a story.
But here he was now, several years later, standing next to one of the most dark-tempered men he had ever known. And now he was a human blowtorch.
Then Manx was speaking, interrupting his troubled thoughts. "Schwarz is not here as your enemy right now," she said firmly. "So don't try anything like that again." Her gaze flickered from Aya to Omi, a warning. Omi was looking at Nagi in puzzlement, an unspoken question passing from one boy to the other. Nagi shook his head just the slightest. Ken didn't miss the silent exchange, and frowned a little. So he'd been right? Perhaps those two knew each other as more than enemies.
How very astute, Weiß, Schuldich's voice sneered in his mind. You were the last one I expected to pick up on anything. Aside from the Human Stone over there.
"Shut up," Ken snarled savagely, glaring at Schuldich and earning a surprised look from his teammates. He hated the cocky German. He hated him. He was so cruel and so amused by the sickest things that it made him want to tear the man's throat out sometimes with his claws.
Then Farfarello stepped out from behind Schuldich and the two men locked gazes.
Ken's heart leapt into his throat, and for a moment he forgot anyone else was in the room as he stared dumbly into that single golden eye, taking in the emotionless scarred face.
His stomach churned with fear, and he had the instinctive urge to bolt.
Why? What's he going to do? his subconscious whispered. Nothing you can't Heal right away, right? And the others are here. He can't do anything.
That calmed Ken a little, but he still took a step closer to Aya, just in case.
"I think you've got some explaining to do, Manx," Yohji said quietly, looking at her hard. Schuldich leered at him, and a moment later Yohji balked, his cheeks reddening. He shot a quick glare towards the grinning man, but whatever he said to the German wasn't said verbally.
"Let's take this down to the basement," Manx offered. "It's more private."
Aya scowled at her. "Why should we trust you?" he demanded bluntly. "What are you doing with Schwarz?"
"Whose side are you on?" Yohji added.
Manx sighed. "I'm just the in-betweener," she said calmly, almost soothingly. Like trying to relax a frightened child. Ken didn't blame her. What control would she have if Aya decided he didn't like what she had to say and let loose with his Gift? None- especially not if Aya took out Schwarz all in one big blow, preventing them from retaliating in any way.
"You both have a common enemy," Manx pointed out.
"The vampires?" Omi guessed hesitantly.
"That's right." Manx nodded.
"How do we know that?" Yohji snapped. "How do we know that Schwarz isn't in league with them? Their employers are, aren't they?"
Manx's brows shot up, obviously surprised that they knew that.
"We're not," Nagi said quietly.
"Oh yeah?" Yohji countered.
"They attacked Omi and I last night," Nagi said quietly, gazing at the older man calmly. "They tried to kill us. Both of us."
"Both of you?" Yohji echoed.
Aya spoke over him, his voice hard. "Why were you with him?" He was looking at Omi.
Omi's face was twisted, and Ken couldn't tell if the other boy was holding back tears, a scream, or if it was just too many emotions at once.
"Leave the lovebirds alone," Schuldich drawled, waving a hand airily. "Quit picking on Nagi's boyfriend or he'll get pissy."
Aya, Yohji, and Ken gaped first at the German, then at Omi.
"Omi?" Yohji squeaked.
Omi turned bright red, and now he really did look like he might cry.
Nagi stepped around Crawford and went to him, reaching up to put a comforting hand on the other boy's shoulder. He offered the three Weiß members a warning glare. "Butt out," he said slowly, his tone ominous. He stared them all down, Schwarz included, just daring one of them to say the wrong thing. Omi turned his face away from his teammates, then abruptly looked back at them, looking hurt and scared but stubborn.
"Never mind," he said in a surprisingly steady voice. "It's none of your business."
Yohji was the first to recover- another surprise, Ken noted vaguely. "All right, Manx," he said curtly, flicking his gaze towards her. "Bring the freak brigade into the basement, then. But..." he jabbed a finger at the members of Schwarz, scowling. "You try anything stupid and you're gonna pay for it. Comprende?" He spoke the last word scathingly.
"Comprende," Schuldich sniggered. Crawford offered him a warning look, and the German subsided, though he continued to grin.
"All right," Manx sighed, looking like she was experiencing a headache. "We'll go down to the basement, and I'll explain."
"Those Hunters are outside, by the way," Schuldich remarked almost carelessly as they trooped downstairs.
Manx looked at him sharply. "Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded.
Schuldich shrugged, grin widening. "Now you know."
"We can handle it," Crawford said smoothly before Manx could sputter a reprimand.
Schwarz sat down on the couch in the basement, making themselves at home. The four men of Weiß leaned against the walls, watching them warily. Omi looked miserable.
Ken felt his skin crawl when he realized Farfarello was watching him. He tried hard not to look, but he couldn't help it. Besides, his temper was sparked by his nervousness. He turned his head to stare boldly at the crazed Irishman. From his place beside Schuldich, Farfarello offered a thin, creepy smile.
"Explain," Aya said shortly, crossing his arms and offering Manx his best death glare as she stood in front of the television where they could all see her.
"Calm yourself, Abysinnian," she soothed, cocking her hip and crossing her arms loosely. She looked right at Weiß. "In a nutshell," she said briskly, though her eyes were a little wary, "there's a proposition to be made."
They waited impatiently.
Manx hesitated only the briefest of moments before gesturing towards Schwarz.
"I think it would be best if Schwarz and Weiß formed a temporary alliance."
There was a long moment of stunned silence.
Then Aya was pushing himself from the wall and stalking towards her, making a chopping motion with his hand, his face livid. "NO! Never!"
"Aya-" Ken gasped, trying to restrain him. Aya shrugged him off violently, still glaring fiercely at Manx before he turned that heated gaze on Crawford, who gazed calmly back.
"Get those animals out of here!"
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