Ch. 23: "Graveyard Shift"
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
I can’t believe the things you say
So wrongful how I feel this way
I’m sleeping to relieve this strain.
Schuldich! Yohji shot to his feet, looking around wildly as if he could find the elusive man somewhere in the shadows of his room. Where are you?
Six feet under, I think...
Knock it off! That's not funny! Yohji shot back furiously, already hopping around as he struggled to pull on his pants. There was no answer. Schuldich!
Finally the man's voice, more weary than he'd ever heard it before- devoid of its arrogance for once -murmured in his mind, Akitawa Hospital. Better hurry, kätzchen.
You're gonna owe me for this, Yohji warned, shoving his feet into his shoes and forgetting his shirt. No need to wake the others- Aya wouldn't want to save the crazy German anyway, and the other two would need their sleep. Besides, it'd just waste time going all the way to the flower shop and then turning around to get to the hospital.
Oh, really? There was a hint of teasing to the tone, then Schuldich's presence was gone.
Yohji snatched up his car keys and took the stairs two at a time. He didn't stop to think about WHY the hell he was going to bail the German out until he was pulling his car out of the parking lot. Too late now, he thought grimly. We're supposed to be "teammates" anyhow, he tried to console himself.
Something about Schuldich's tired but sincere "Better hurry" made Yohji nervous, and he broke several driving laws as he roared towards the hospital. Would the vampires come to finish the job? Or even the Vampire Hunters?
He pulled hastily and crookedly into a parking spot close to the entrance of the hospital and almost forgot to lock his car in his haste. He managed to smooth his face and force himself to walk calmly if quickly inside, flashing a smile at the receptionist. "Hello there," he said, at his most charming. "Working the graveyard shift?"
The tired looking nurse managed to dredge up a ghost of a smile for him. "Can I help you, sir?"
"A friend of mine was brought in earlier." Yohji leaned against the counter, meeting her gaze and flashing a smile. "He was one of the people in the bombing earlier...?"
"Ah- that was such a horrible incident," the nurse said, stirred to life with pity. Her eyes were full of sympathy. "I'm so sorry. But only family can see them at this hour."
"Could you at least tell me if he's here? I don't even know if he's alive or dead."
The nurse lifted a nearby clipboard. "Could you give me his name?"
Yohji hesitated. Would Schuldich be stupid enough to give his real name? That would be like saying "here I am!". Surely not. But he had called Yohji to come help him.. so he might have chosen a name that meant something to him. He racked his brains frantically, aware that the nurse was glancing up at him questioningly. "Kätzchen," he blurted, hoping the nurse didn't know the meaning of the strange foreign word.
The nurse returned her gaze to the clipboard, and after a moment pointed it out. "Is this it? It's a strange name, isn't it? If this is the man you're talking about, he's the one with the foul mouth." Her mouth quirked in dry amusement. "He kept cursing in some strange language."
Yohji barely even glanced at the name. He memorized the room and floor number and flashed her a brilliant smile. "Aa. That's him, all right. Always was the potty mouth. Thanks. I'll let his our friends know he's all right."
"No problem," the nurse said with a smile, putting the clipboard aside. "I hope he's up and about soon."
"Ah, could you tell me where your bathroom is before I go?"
The nurse pointed. "Down the hall, to the left. Right by the elevators."
Perfect. "Domo." He headed casually down the hall, turning the corner where he was out of her line of sight and jabbing the elevator button. It dinged quietly- no wait this late at night -and the gleaming doors slid open. He stepped inside and hastily hit the button to close the doors, then the one for the third floor.
When he reached his destination he made it a point to act casual, pasting a look of weary concern on his face as he passed the doctors and nurses. He slipped past the front desk when the night nurse's back was turned and hurried down the hall, glancing at the door numbers as he passed.
He glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then pushed open the door and edged inside, letting it shut behind him.
It was dark and hard to see at first, and he quelled his instinctive urge to turn on the light, standing still for a moment to let his eyes adjust. Then he stepped further into the room, a little unnerved by the beeping of one of the machines and the sight of an IV bag hanging over the bed.
Schuldich was lying there under the pristine sheets, fax lax and smooth in slumber, a bandage stretched across his forehead and a few scrapes and scratches on his handsome if eerily pale face. His arm hung limply off the side of the bed, with the IV attached. His other arm was cradled against his chest on top of the sheets in a sling, but the cast on it was small. A sprain, or maybe just a small fracture?
Yohji stepped closer, hesitant now that he was finally here, and stared helplessly down at the sleeping man. Schuldich?
The German's brow wrinkled, and he shifted a little before opening jade eyes tiredly to look up at him. He blinked a few times, coming awake quickly, his body stiffening before he recognized his visitor. He relaxed again, his familiar smirk immediately wrapping itself around his face. "What took you so long?" he asked impudently.
Yohji made a face at him. "Not so loud," he hissed, crossing his arms over his chest. "Good going, hotshot. You look like shit."
"I'll live," Schuldich scoffed, giving a careful shrug. He glanced towards the door. "Not for long, though, if you don't quit making smart remarks and get me the hell out of here," he said meaningfully.
Yohji glanced towards the IV dubiously. "Are you sure you can..."
"Quit being squeamish, Kudou," Schuldich said shortly. He struggled into a sitting position and gripped the IV tube in his teeth, yanking the needle out quickly before Yohji could stop him. He didn't even wince as his arm began to bleed a little, swinging his feet over the edge of the bed. "Where's the calvary?"
"Just me," Yohji said, steadying the other man when he almost toppled backwards. He fought back a grin. "Dizzy, Nazi?"
"Stuff it," Schuldich growled, then winced. "Fuuuuck, I've got the mother of all god damn headaches."
He grudgingly allowed Yohji to help him to his feet, but refused to lean against him for support. "Those witches," he complained, referring to the nurses, "wouldn't let me out of the room. I don't even know if Crawford's here or not. I haven't been able to get in touch with him, and the link's down, so I can't find Farfarello and Nagi. When I call them, they don't answer." He shrugged, flashing a feral grin. "Busy, I guess."
Yohji thought of Omi's earlier revelation- of his relationship with Schwarz's youngest member -and made a face at Schuldich, who laughed quietly at him.
"Didn't think you'd come, kätzchen," he sneered, slanting a glance towards the other man. Yohji could see the flicker of wariness in the back of his eyes- and the sullen gratitude. "Were you that bored?"
Yohji decided to ignore the wisecracks and took a firm grip on the man's good arm, steering him towards the door. "My car's out front. Come on."
Schuldich dug his heels in, his face hardening suddenly. "They're out there," he said quietly.
Yohji froze, straining his ears. He heard nothing.
That's because you're Deaf, Kudou, Schuldich reminded him mockingly, tapping his own forehead with a finger and giving a mirthless grin. Feel up for a fight?
Yohji stared pointedly at Schuldich's bad arm. "I should be asking you that."
Schuldich jeered at him, but didn't get the chance to make a smart comeback.
Just then the door creaked open, and the room was filled with the scent of old blood.
"No good. Only family allowed," Tatiana informed her partner, meeting him just outside the hospital entrance. "If those two are in there, we're not going to have much luck getting to see them."
Talon scowled. "I don't like this. I have one of those hunches again. I think our little bloodsucking friends are planning to pay a visit tonight, too."
Tatiana clutched her cane tighter in frustration, peering up at the front of the hospital. "How are we going to stop them?"
"Maybe we shouldn't," Talon suggested calmly.
Tatiana gave him a hard look. "You said yourself you wanted to question them. If they aren't with the bloodsuckers, maybe we can reason with them. Get them on our side."
"I don't 'side' with murderers," Talon told her coolly. "Let them get their just desserts."
Tatiana glared at him. "Pull your head out of your ass, sunshine," she snapped. "We can use all the help we can get right about now. An' if they're not with the Vamps, they're against 'em. That makes 'em victims, doesn't it?"
Talon shrugged, unconcerned. "Not in my book. Are you aware of how many innocents the two of them alone have butchered?"
"In the end," Talon said, giving the hospital a cool, unfriendly look, "they're no different from the ones we Hunt. If they're so worth saving.." he flashed a brief, sarcastic smile, "you'd better hope they've got guardian angels."
The "guardian angel" in question was feeling ready to shit bricks right about then.
The three Vampires that were crowded in the doorway were big motherfuckers, all of them corded with muscle and quick of eye. They were silent, careful not to alert the nurses down the hall, and they were carrying axes. Fucking AXES, for crissakes.
'I can see it now,' Yohji thought numbly. 'Here lies Kudou Yohji, axed to death by leeches in an insanely clean hospital room while saving his wet dream.' Christ on a fucking crutch.
"Visitation hours are over," Schuldich intoned from beside him, a smartass to the end. "Please come back tomorrow."
Yohji was about to snap at him, then he felt it.
There was a twinge against his mind that made him flinch, but whatever Schuldich had done was like an invisible weapon: the Vampires winced violently and clutched their heads, staggering.
"That won't last long-" Schuldich was saying breathlessly.
Yohji reacted instinctively.
He slipped an arm behind the startled German's shoulders, ducked to grab him behind the knees, and lifted him into his arms with a grunt. Without stopping to think or let himself chicken out, he dashed for the open window.
Schuldich was squirming, yelling at him furiously in German, and he could hear the Vampires coming at him from behind--
Then he had his foot on the window sill and he was pushing off with all his strength, diving into himself for the strange warmth that was curled patiently inside of him, seizing it, yanking it, demanding its life.
His Gift flared inside of him like a sudden burst of hot light, and the weight in his arms suddenly disappeared, his body seeming to become light as a feather.
He soared from the window, out into space, dimmly aware that Schuldich was clinging to him like a terrified cat thrown from a window, a strangled German curse on his lips.
Over the parking lot far below, then descending at a sedate pace, while behind him the Vampires gaped from the window.
Yohji's feet touched lightly on the asphalt of the nearly empty parking lot, and wearily he released the heat- the Power -inside of himself, and having Shuldich's dead weight bear down on him after such glorious weightlessness almost made him fall.
He put the struggling German down, and winced when Schuldich aimed a glancing blow at his cheek.
"Scheißekopf!! Arschloch! Was dachten die Hölle Sie??"
"Knock it off, jackass, I don't even know what the hell you're saying," Yohji snapped. "Quit freaking out, I just saved your damn life."
"Nicht überhaupt wie-- Don't EVER do that again," Schuldich snarled, his face white and his eyes a little wild.
Yohji couldn't resist a smirk. "You're such a wuss," he sneered. He got the sudden sensation that he was being watched, and turned quickly.
Two figures stood at the entrance to the hospital, gaping at them.
One of them- a male -was tall, with blond hair...
"We've got company," he hissed, and grabbed Schuldich's good arm, hurrying towards his car.
"Damned Hunters," Schuldich muttered, composing himself quickly. "Leggo my arm, I can walk, dammit."
Yohji couldn't resist poking at the ruffled German's pride. "You wouldn't happen to be afraid of heights?"
Schuldich gave him a withering look. "Ich hasse Sie."
Yohji sweatdropped. He didn't think he needed a translation for that one.
Ken awoke slowly the next morning, vaguely irrated at something tugging insistantly at his leg. Tug tug. Ow. Something was digging into his ankle everytime his leg was pulled. Tug tug.
"Knock it off," he muttered, rolling onto his side grumpily.
Damn, the floor was cold...
Memories of the night crashed down on his sleepy mind, and he shot into a sitting position, looking wildly around.
Farfarello released the cuff's chain from where he had been pulling on it to awaken the soccer player, staring at him silently. He held up his own cuffed hand in an unspoken command.
Ken muttered a curse, rubbing the last of sleep from his eyes. He winced and hissed with pain when his careless fingers brushed over his injured eye. Ignoring the pale madman, he scrambled to his feet and peered at himself in the mirror with his good right eye.
The long scratch ran from above his eyebrow to his cheek, closed with clotted blood. Dried blood had left streaks like tears down his face. His left eye had become stuck shut from the blood that had dried in his lashes. He turned on the faucet and carefully started to clean it.
There was another sharp tug at his ankle, and he was forced to turn so that he could see the Irishman with his good eye. He scowled darkly at the man. "Quit it," he snapped furiously. "Look what you did to me!" He pointed accusingly at his eye.
Farfarello tugged again, face calm and devoid of emotion. "Sit."
"Fuck off," Ken suggested, and returned to cleaning it.
Ken ground his teeth and clenched the sink edge until his fingers turned white. "Don't tell me what to do, you fucking lunatic."
Ken peered at the injury nervously. Because he had flinched at Farfarello's blow, his eye had been squinted shut at the time; it seemed most of the damage had missed his eye. There was a fine scratch on the eyelid, but there was no way to tell as of yet if the eye had been saved.
"Sit," Farfarello repeated, and his voice was low and dangerous.
Unwilling to obey, but not ready to piss the man off again, Ken sat down huffily and glared at the man with hatred. Farfarello gazed at his face. "What are you staring at?" he demanded impatiently. "Enjoying your handiwork? What the fuck did you want to blind me for??"
"Missed," Farfarello intoned simply, pointing at the bad eye. "Stop your snivelling, angel. The eye still works."
"How would you know?" Ken snapped.
Farfarello's grin was fleeting and creepy. "I know," he said simply.
"So what was the point, fucktard??"
Farfarello shrugged fluidly, then lifted his arm again. "A brand," he said dismissively. "Off."
"YOU took the key, remember?"
Farfarello stared at him and said nothing. Ken cursed colorfully and began to look around the tiled floor for the elusive key. He finally spotted it near the tub- the Irishman must have tossed it there -and stretched on his belly, scraping for it with his fingertips, muttering darkly to himself the whole time.
Farfarello watched his struggle, noting almost absently the way his lean athlete's body stretched and twisted, hitching up the shirt to expose a tanned, finely toned side and abdomen, muscles bunched with effort. He licked absently at the blade of the knife he had used on his angel last night and allowed himself a brief smirk of triumph.
Now the angel was marked as his, and all would know it. He was his alone- any who were foolish enough to touch his property wouldn't walk away to brag about it.
He fiddled with the knife, eyeing the man's exposed side thoughtfully, imagining sliding his blade effortlessly past bronze skin, between strong ribs, into a pulsing organ.
After a moment he sheathed the blade.
Ken wasn't aware of the madman's scrutiny, which was probably just as well. It was his own anger and lack of fear- providing a target as he stretched on the ground for the key -that saved him. If there was one thing the Irishman respected, it was fearlessness.
The cool, unimpressed, and sometimes amused gazes of his teammates- unwavering, unafraid -were what placated him and prevented him from killing them.
Those with fear in their hearts were open game. That included the doddering fools of Weiß.
But this one..
Ken straightened, finally succeeding in retrieving the key, and quickly removed the cuff from his own ankle. He snapped it swiftly onto the sink's pipes and glowered back at the glaring madman. "First give me your knives," he ordered. "ALL of them."
Farfarello arched a brow at him, but after a long moment, he reached into his clothing and produced the two knives he had hidden there the day before, handing them over wordlessly. "I'll get them back," he promised tonelessly.
"Like hell," Ken muttered, putting the blades down the back of his pants before reaching over to release his companion. He glared up into the single glittering eye. "You try to pull anything and I'll run you through with your own weapons, you got that?"
Farfarello seemed to find this amusing, but said nothing. He got smoothly to his feet and- to Ken's surprise -offered a pale hand to pull the other man up.
Ken coolly ignored the hand, rising to his own feet and standing toe to toe with the calm Irishman, glaring at him. "Don't try anything funny," he said from behind gritted teeth, "with me or my friends. Allies or not, if you try something stupid, I'm not going to hold Aya back if he turns you into a little pile of ash. Do you understand me?"
Farfarello gazed back calmly and said nothing.
Ken stepped aside and watched the Irishman walk out of the bathroom before following him silently downstairs.
It was then that it occured to him: Farfarello had cut his left eye.
That was the same eye that the madman was missing.
Translations: "Scheißekopf!! Arschloch! Was dachten die Hölle Sie??"= Shithead!! Asshole! What the hell were you thinking??
Ich hasse Sie.= I hate you.
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