Ch. 25: "Markings on the Wall"
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
Finally I find when I lose control
Inside my body crumbles
It's like therapy for my broken soul
Inside my body crumbles
He took her to one of the safehouses that Schwarz had never used- a small, two room apartment in the darker side of town. He left her there, to rest and to sort out the things he had told her on the ride from the hospital. Already she trusted him; she was naive, and desperate, and afraid. She clung to him like a rock in a heaving ocean, and he played his role as the attentive if somewhat quiet, creepy "brother".
Your name is Verrat, he told her.
I am your older brother. You were hurt in the accident that gave me these scars. It has been a couple years, he told her.
And the seeds of hatred that he planted in her were growing as she spent time alone in that small apartment, thinking, brooding, dozing.
The redhead you see in your mind's eye, he informed her, is the one responsible for this. He is our enemy. He took something of yours. I will get it back for you.
And he had showed her her own reflection, reached up with pale, calloused fingers to touch the glittering jewelry on her ear. He left here there to stare at her reflection, to finger the earring Ran had given her, and went "to work".
It was amusing, it was fun. He had big plans for his little Verrat.
He was maliciously content, and pretended that he could not hear her calm heartbeat, pretended he did not wish he could slice into that ivory skin.
And most of all, he ignored the pain that was beginning to throb inside of him, relentless and faint.
Manx had already arrived by the time Farfarello returned.
She glanced up at him, but continued to talk to the glowering men seated on the couch or leaning against the basement walls, all of them avoiding looking at each other.
"Bombay, Nagi, I want you to track down those two meddlesome Hunters. They would be better as allies than enemies at this point. I don't want to have to watch our backs from Vampires AND bullheaded Hunters. Find them, talk to them, and try to form some sort of truce or alliance with them." The two youngest assassins nodded mutely, and she turned her attention on Schuldich and Yohji. "You two," she pointed at them with a manicured hand, "are going to look for Crawford. Find him, bring him back here. Dead or alive."
"He isn't in the link," Schuldich grunted. He had put up the mental web shortly before the woman had arrived, and even gone so far as to put temporary links to each of Weiß, on Manx's stern orders. "He's probably dead." He didn't look too concerned about the possibility, but Nagi gave a faint frown.
Manx ignored the comment and looked to Aya and Ken. The soccer player had a bandage wrapped in a rakish angle around his wounded eye; it had taken almost fifteen stitches to close the tear, but the doctor had told his relieved patient that the eye itself had not been destroyed. Any damage that had been done was yet to be seen, as it was still swollen shut.
"Abysinnian, Siberian, today you learn the art of hunting Vampires," Manx told them briskly. "You'll learn what to look for: how to spot them, how to tell where they gather, and so on." She glanced towards the madman, who was watching them all emotionlessly. "Farfarello will go with you- he'll teach you."
Aya gave a growl of argument, but Manx cut him off. "Enough, Abysinnian. I'm tired of listening to your bitching," she said mercilessly. "You're an alliance, remember? And Farfarello has the most experience in tracking and slaying Vampires."
Farfarello offered a fleeting, toothy grin, full of savagery. Ken glowered at him, but kept his mouth shut.
"What about his meds?" Schuldich asked suddenly, inspecting his fingernails from where he lounged on the couch between Omi and Yohji.
"Destroyed," Nagi said tonelessly from where he was standing behind the couch, leaning over slightly so that his fingertips just barely touched Omi's shoulder. "I didn't have time to grab them before I blew the apartment."
"Wonderful," Schuldich muttered.
Manx frowned, and turned to the silent Berserker. "How do you feel?" she demanded.
Farfarello raised one shoulder in a slight shrug.
"Normal," Schuldich translated, and Ken looked curiously at the German. Now that he was connected to the telepath's "link", he had expected to hear the silent transitions that went on between German and Irishman. But he had heard nothing from Farfarello on the bond.
You can't always read Farfie by words, chibi, Schuldich sent in a private message, flicking him a wry look and a small smirk. You'll understand soon enough.
Ken looked away and pretended not to hear- a silly lie in a mental bond, and he heard Schuldich's silent laughter of derision.
Ken, annoyed and determined, looked towards the Irishman abruptly, and Farfarello caught the gaze, turning his single amber eye towards him.
A flash of-
pain, muffled but there nonetheless
from the madman, and Ken blinked. Then he felt nothing. Whatever he had just caught was gone. The.. feeling of the other man turned instead into a cold, silent presence on the bond. He forced himself to keep his face neutral, to act like he hadn't caught the sudden.. emotion? Feeling? Thoughts? of the other man.
But Schuldich had caught it, too, used to keeping a close link with the Berserker in order to control him. He frowned. Withdrawal, already?
"All the same," he told Manx smoothly, "we need to get some meds for him soon."
Manx shook her head. "Rosenkreuz is the only one with the drug- we never had need to create such a thing. Is there any way you can get it from them?"
"Only if they don't suspect us, yet," Nagi said quietly, also watching Farfarello carefully.
Farfarello lifted his lips in a silent snarl and turned, going back up the stairs.
"Farfarello, we're not done," Manx called sharply, but the Irishman ignored her.
She sighed, looking to Aya and Ken. "Keep an eye on him," she said wearily.
"And for crissakes, don't you dare let him know you're afraid of him," Schuldich put in, yawning.
"I'm not afraid of that lunatic," Ken growled. Aya merely glared stonily at the German.
"Good," Schuldich said simply, smirking. "You might live, then."
Schuldich made a "ch" noise as he followed Yohji to his car, using his good hand to light the cigarette dangling from his lips. "Well this is going to be a peachy week," he grumbled. "Crawfish is missing, probably dead; your pal Abs hates everything from God to cockroaches and especially Schwarz; Farf's going to go through withdrawal, and has adopted that little soccer twerp as some kind of 'amusement'; miss pussy cat has a rod rammed up her ass so tight she has to shit from her mouth, which explains all the bullshit she spouts..."
"Will you shut up?" Yohji interrupted impatiently, opening the passenger door for his complaining partner. "Yes, things are going to hell. You don't have to shove it under my nose."
Schuldich paused to leer at him around his cigarette. "Stick what under your nose?" he asked suggestively.
Yohji swallowed hard and forced himself to glare at the smirking German. "Get in the fucking car, Schuldich."
Schuldich chuckled and obeyed. Yohji shut the door hastily behind him and walked over to his side, sliding into the seat and tugging the door shut.
"Hey, help a cripple out," Schuldich said as Yohji slid the key into the ignition.
Yohji looked up at him, and Schuldich blew smoke past his face. He grinned. "Aren't you going to buckle me, Kudou?" he asked innocently. He waved the cigarette. "My hand is full."
Yohji stared at him for a moment before twisting the key. The engine roared to life. He reached out, plucked the cigarette from Schuldich's fingers, and placed it between his own lips. "Buckle yourself," he mumbled around it, and jerked the gear into reverse.
Muttering sourly, Schuldich complied.
Omi and Nagi paused outside the back door, watching the two older men drive off.
Nagi glanced around. "Is there another mode of transportation?" he asked archly, "or are we taking the bus?"
Omi smiled at him, reaching out to take his hand. "Come on." He led the slender boy to the garage and pointed to the small motorbike that was kept there. "We'll take the bike."
He started towards it, but Nagi stood his ground, his grip firm on Omi's hand. Omi paused, looking back at him, and Nagi stepped closer, gazing into his eyes. The ghost of a smile was on his face. "Thank you," he murmured. "For.." he lowered his lashes demurely, "last night."
Omi felt his face heat up with memory, and squeezed his lover's hand back in answer.
Gasps, quick breathing- moans of pain and pleasure breaking the quiet of the night. Slim but strong fingers digging into his shoulders, a body slick with sweat arching up to meet his own. Full lips opening in a strangled cry- his name.
Omi swallowed with difficulty and leaned in, capturing Nagi's mouth in a slow, lazy kiss. Nagi held his lip gently between his teeth for a moment as Omi finally pulled away, then released him, giving a sultry smile that made Omi forget for a minute what it was they were supposed to be doing.
"The Hunters, Omi," Nagi said, a laugh hidden in the back of his calm voice. He raised an eyebrow. "Are we going.. or coming?"
Omi's face was heated, and his breathing gave a little hitch at the obvious innuendo to the question. "Going," he finally managed to say. "Or Manx will beat the crap out of us."
Nagi chuckled and released Omi's hand. "Good point," he murmured. "Let's go find those annoying leech Hunters so we can do something more... interesting."
Omi cleared his throat and tried to push away all the lovely/naughty images his mind was happily providing him. "A-aa.."
Farfarello had insisted on walking, and Ken soon understood why; a lot of the things the madman pointed out, giving a short explanation in his uncaring, toneless voice, would have been harder to see or find while driving. Sometimes he took them into alleys, or small shops. They even climbed a few fire escapes to get to the roofs of some taller buildings. They had been on this excursion for a few hours, and Ken was beginning to get hungry, but didn't dare ask for a lunch break.
Ken had to admit that Manx had been right- Farfarello knew what he was doing. He must have been hunting the Vampires for years.
He showed them symbols carved or drawn on walls, doors, ledges, rooftops, and even street signs. They were to mark vampire territory, or point the way to Vampire meeting places. Some were warnings, made by strong solitary Vampires, while others were invitations, most of them written by females looking for mates.
Farfarello also told them what to look for to identify a Vampire. Pale complexions, strange shifty eyes, long fingernails, perfectly white teeth. Sometimes the canines would show, but a Vampire could supress them when they weren't needed. He also mentioned their particular smell, but it must have been a smell only the Irishman could catch, because when they deliberately strode past a man Farfarello identified as a Vampire, neither Aya or Ken caught any scent. Ken's scars did give a sharp pang, though, and he had to force himself not to touch them. His collar hid them from sight, but just the motion of covering the side of his neck would have alerted the Vampire, who passed them with a sideways, hooded glance.
Farfarello also cleared up some folk tales: Vampires could walk about in the daytime, as long as it was cloudy, as it had been all week- the weather channel had said something about a tropical storm headed their way; silver and wood could kill them, but normal bullets or steel could not; crosses didn't hurt them, but they did despise them; and they did not have to sleep in coffins, though any Vampires that had been Turned and clawed their way from a grave had to keep the soil from their gravesite under their mattress; and yes, they were immortal, though a Purebred could pick what age he wanted to reach before the aging process stopped.
Aya was stonily silent throughout the entire 'lesson', never looking at the Irishman, only at what he pointed out. Ken knew the older man was seething inside at having to be in the company of the albino, and he realized quickly that Farfarello knew it, too. He couldn't tell what Farfarello thought of it, though-- if he was angry or resentful, he certainly didn't show it. He went through the motions of teaching them with a detached air, as if his mind were elsewhere, and he was only carrying out an order he would have preferred not to follow. He answered Ken's brief questions with a dull voice, and it wasn't long before Ken caught the flicker of
pain, dull pain, longing, frustration
and realized that the scarred man was focusing the majority of his attention on keeping that pain muffled, struggling to ignore it.
Withdrawal? Ken mused, watching the madman out of the corner of his eye as they walked in silence down an alley, searching for more Vampire markings. Because he hasn't taken that medicine Nagi mentioned? He wondered what the medication could be for. Well, he was a lunatic... it must be anti depressants or something.
Farfarello caught him watching him, and met his gaze, his single golden eye boring into him. Ken looked away quickly, reaching up almost absently to touch the bandage over his wounded eye before forcing his hand irritably down to his side. The scar was beginning to itch, but the doctor had warned him not to scratch it. It was driving him crazy.
Farfarello was still staring at him, so he looked around quickly for a marking to distract the other man. He spotted one, almost invisible, scratched onto the grimy brick walls, and pointed it out. "Is that a meeting one?" He didn't recognize it.
Farfarello glanced towards it, then away. He turned around and started walking back out of the alley. "Territory," he said briefly. "Memorize it."
Ken blinked and glanced towards the mark once more as he and Aya turned to follow the other man. It looked almost like a snake, with a weird little symbol in its coils that he couldn't identify. "Why? Is it important?"
"It's Agameddo's," Farfarello said so quietly Ken almost didn't catch the words. Beside him, Aya stiffened in recognition of the name.
"You mean the Vampire Lord?" Ken asked, too loudly.
"Be quiet," Farfarello snapped, and Ken shut his mouth quickly. Aya scowled darkly.
When they got to the end of the alley, it was blocked. They came to a halt, watching the figure at the exit warily. Caught halfway between the shadows of the alleyway and the light from outside, they couldn't identify the face, but it looked like a woman. She hesitated, watching them, and Ken's fists clenched, the buknuts under his sleeves ready to be used.
She said something softly in a tongue that Ken didn't realize, and Farfarello answered her, just as quietly.
The woman stepped into the shadows, frowning and looking at them all suspiciously. Something behind her shifted, and Ken could see there was a small child behind her, holding her skirt in a little fist, hiding her face in the cloth. His scars were throbbing, and he clenched his teeth, shooting a quick look at Aya.
Is she going to bite that kid? he asked incredulously.
Aya's eyes were flashing, and his mouth was a thin line.
Shut up, Farfarello told him shortly, and said something else to the woman in that bizarre language, gesturing to the two men behind him and giving an eerie grin.
The woman's tense shoulders relaxed a little, and she cast an appreciative eye towards the two members of Weiß. Her tone was sultry as she made her reply, and Farfarello offered her a cold mocking smile before shaking his head once, saying something in a smug tone.
The woman gave a shrug, said something to the child behind her, and walked past them. Farfarello glanced over his shoulder, watching them go, and pawed thoughtfully at the dagger in his belt. Without giving himself a chance to think about the action, Ken grabbed the man's elbow firmly and pulled him out of the alley. Aya hesitated, then followed slowly.
Once they were on the sidewalk, Farfarello pulled his arm free, turning his face to stare balefully at Ken, who glowered back.
"If that's Agameddo's territory, don't you think it'd be a little stupid to start a fight there?" he demanded. "We could get swamped!"
"What about the girl?" Aya asked in a quiet, angry tone, speaking for the first time.
"Vampire," Farfarello said emotionlessly.
Ken stared. "They... they do that to children?" he asked, agast.
Farfarello's mouth twitched in the hint of a frown. He looked back towards the alley. "Rarely."
Aya was scowling furiously, glaring back towards the alleyway as well, his hand flexing in wistful longing for a sword that wasn't there. Ken sympathized with him; he was just as upset at the thought of a child being Turned. But something about Farfarello's attitude was bothering him; he kept glancing back towards the alley, frowning just the slightest, his eyes unfocused, his mind elsewhere.
Thinking of the past, maybe? Ken wondered suddenly. He remembered the night in the basement of the burning building, when Farfarello had made to throw a knife at a little boy. His sister had jumped in to shield him, and the heartless murderer had actually... hesitated. Ken remembered with startling clarity the emotion that had flashed across that scarred face almost too quickly to see: shock and... pain.
Farfarello felt his eyes on him, and turned away dismissively, walking down the sidewalk. They caught up with him, and Ken asked uncomfortably, "What were you two saying?"
Farfarello was silent for a moment, and Ken was beginning to think he was going to be ignored when the madman finally responded. He must have been trying to translate the words into Japanese in his head, Ken realized.
"She thought I was one of Them," Farfarello said in that same toneless, uncaring voice, "and asked why I had two ningen with me."
Aya didn't look at him, but Ken could tell he was listening.
"I told her you were dinner," Farfarello said simply, and flashed a brief, unnerving smile at nobody. "She wanted me to share.." he slid a sidelong glance at Ken, who gave him a dirty look.
"Let me guess," he said irritably. "You told her I'm your pet."
Farfarello's eye glinted with amusement, and his lip lifted slightly in a cruel sneer.
Aya's eyes were dark, his lips pressed tightly together, but he said nothing.
Aya-kun? Ken-kun? Can you hear me?
They came to a stop at the mental voice, looking at each other. Farfarello noticed their sudden stop and paused, glancing at them.
"Omi," Ken said in surprise.
What is it? Aya demanded.
We found the Hunters, but... you're not going to believe this.
What? Aya snapped impatiently. He hadn't bothered to learn to send private messages, yet, so Farfarello heard him, and Ken could vaguely feel the shifting of the other men on Schuldich's telepathic link as they listened.
Omi must have sensed it, too, because he broadcast his news for everyone to hear. The Hunters have Crawford-san with them. They took him from the hospital and killed the Vampires they found there.
Schuldich's voice sounded twice as amused and sarcastic in the link than in real life. So the little shit actually lived through the night. Kudou and I are in the hospital right now; we were wondering why the place reeked so much.
Ken remembered the smell of the Vampire corpses in the closet of the flower shop's basement and shuddered, wrinkling his nose.
We're talking with them right now, Omi continued. Nagi's doing most of the talking, actually. They don't look like they trust us much, but it looks like they don't agree about something. I think the girl Hunter wants to form an alliance with us; she's the one that made sure Crawford-san was kept alive. The man who came into our flowershop doesn't seem to like us much, and he won't tell us where Crawford-san is. He just said that he's safe.
Why isn't he on Schuldich's link? Ken asked. I still don't feel him.
Schuldich's laugh was dry. You can never sense Crawfish, he said lightly. His mind's got a wall around it thicker and higher than the Great Wall of China. He's probably unconscious right now, so he's not answering.
Ken glanced towards Farfarello at that. Did the Irishman have his own wall? he wondered. Was that why all he could sense from Farfarello were emotions when he wasn't actively speaking through the web?
Where are you at, chibi? Yohji asked then.
The White Rose Cafe, Nagi said calmly. It's on Hiroshi Avenue. Get here as soon as you can; I don't like where this conversation is going. I don't think the male Hunter wants anything to do with us.
Yosh', Schuldich said. Be there in a few minutes.
Aya glanced around, picking out landmarks. Give us ten minutes, he said briefly.
Don't bring Farfarello, Nagi warned. They'll try to kill him if they get the chance. Then the silent conversation was over.
Farfarello seemed undisturbed by this news. Ken caught a sense of
purposefulness, intent, business
from the slightly taller man, and grasped for straws. "Do you have something to do?" he guessed.
Farfarello nodded shortly, turning to walk the other way.
"Chotto," Aya called sharply, but Farfarello ignored him. Aya glowered at Ken. "We can't just let that lunatic loose on the streets by himself."
Ken shrugged helplessly. "How are we going to stop him? Besides, Manx let him go off on his own a couple times to take care of something before."
Aya looked less than pleased, but he finally turned and headed down the street, with Ken hurrying after him.
Farfarello paused to watch them go, then doubled back and took a side street, heading back for his apartment. Verrat must be wondering where he was by now. He would let the other imbeciles have their dithering little parley talks with those disgusting Hunters.
He had a girl to win over.
He flinched slightly, gritting his teeth. Pain, longing... He cursed softly in his native tongue. The meds- he was going to need them if he wanted to stop this deep pain that was beginning to ebb away his control.
The meds... He scowled to himself in distaste. He could stop, if he wanted to, he thought. He didn't have to take them... he could ride out this pain, this ache, and...
But he didn't want to think. He didn't want that. He didn't want the clarity of thought, the sharp memories the loss of the meds brought. He found comfort in his own jumbled thoughts, his disconnection to things.
In some ways, he almost desperately depended on it...
The insanity the medication brought on.
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