Ch. 26: "Sowing the Seeds of Hatred"
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
Iím over it.
You see Iím falling In the vast abyss
Clouded by memories of the past
At last I see
Verrat beamed as she heard the door open from where she was scrubbing at the rusty sink in the small kitchenette. Hastily she hurried to the fridge and pulled out the styrofoam boxes she'd put in there earlier. She began scooping the contents onto the plates she'd found in the cupboard- she'd had to wash them, they were so dusty.
She heard soft footsteps on the wooden floor of the den, then, "Verrat."
"In here," she sang, dumping the greasy styrofoam boxes in the wastebin. She placed the first plate in the microwave and pressed the minute button. Pushing stray strands of hair from her face, the rest of it done in a hasty bun, she turned to smile at the man who stepped into the kitchen, glancing around with raised eyebrow.
"I did a little housecleaning," she explained a little shyly, wiping her fingertips off absently on the corner of the plain cotton dress Farfarello had given her. "It's like no one's lived here for years. There's dust everywhere, the water didn't want to work at first, and all I can find is emergency food supplies."
Farfarello's lip twitched with amusement at her sharp observations. "Iie," he said quietly, glancing towards the microwave. "The old house was.. sold."
Verrat's face fell. Had her brother been forced to sell their house to pay for hospital bills? Farfarello hadn't had to explain about her parents; she'd assumed that, since he hadn't mentioned them at all, and she hadn't seen them yet, that they'd most likely died in whatever accident had given her brother his scars and put her into a coma. It was a miserable thought, even if she couldn't remember them, so she had scrubbed the hell out of the house trying not to think about it. "I ordered Chinese," she said with a smile, noticing Farfarello's glance. "I... do you like Chinese?" she asked hesitantly.
Farfarello blinked slowly, then shrugged silently.
"How was work?" Verrat asked cheerily, rummaging through the bag the delivery man had brought and pulling out chopsticks.
Farfarello's back was to her as he looked around, so she couldn't see his face. "Interesting," he answered vaguely.
Verrat chewed nervously on her chopsticks, watching the food heat up and feeling helpless. She had no idea what to say or how to act. Farfarello was her brother, and she loved him for it, but in truth he was more like a stranger to her. She had no memory of him, of her parents, or even how she had once been. Had she always been cheerful but shy? Or maybe she had been brash... or even silent and aloof like Farfarello?
The pale man seemed to sense her agitation and turned to face her. Verrat found herself studying him.
In the short time she had known him since she had awoken, he had shown very little emotion aside from a quick, strange smile every now and then. Warmth did not touch that single amber eye, and it saddened her. He had not hugged her, or gotten overly excited at her awakening, just given her that strange smile and led her from the hospital, cupping her elbow in a careful grip, since she had been a little unsteady on her feet. The nurse had offered a wheelchair, but one stare from Farfarello had quelled that idea.
He was paler than death, riddled with scars, and whatever fake, brief emotion that touched his lips never quite managed to touch that single unwavering eye. The nurses at the hospital had seemed fearfully respectful of him, and Verrat had still not decided if that frightened her or made her morbidly proud of her emotionless brother. They called him "Farfarello-san", and did what he wanted with very few questions, many of them avoiding his gaze or even scuttling away when they spotted him. He must be someone important, Verrat deduced. He couldn't be much older than herself, though... In fact, she still hadn't quite figured out his age. He looked older than she was, but... the hard years that had gone by while she had been unconscious could have simply made him toughen up and look older. She wondered how he had gotten a job to pay for her hospital bills- especially with those scars, which might scare off some employers. Which meant he would have had to get a job where his strange looks wouldn't have bothered the customers. She had a feeling she would rather not dwell on what kind of job that was. She did, however, want to know as much as she could about her brother.
The microwave beeped, and she hastily removed the plate, replacing it with her own. She handed her brother his plate, offering the chopsticks with a smile. "Here you go."
Farfarello hesitated before taking the food almost gingerly. He set it aside on the counter and looked back at her with his steady, unreadable gaze. "Do you remember anything else?" he asked bluntly.
Verrat blinked, then looked up at the ceiling for inspiration. "A little," she said slowly. "Just... strange bits and pieces- pictures. Lights everywhere... like.. festival lights. Being with someone I loved.." She smiled at him. "Was that.. you?" she asked tentatively.
Farfarello nodded briefly. He seemed to think for a moment, then reached out, one calloused finger touching the glittering gold earring that dangled from her right ear. "I bought these," he said, his voice still toneless, almost as if he wasn't used to holding conversation.
"You bought these for me?" Verrat reached up to touch the earring, blinking. "The other one's gone... The man with the red hair.. did he take the other one?"
He nodded once.
Verrat clenched the earring in her fingers so tight her earlobe hurt. "I see him," she murmured. "A lot of the pictures in my mind... a man with red hair yelling at me, trying to grab me... Another one of him.. laughing at me, I think." Her lip quivered. "He's bad, isn't he? He had something to do with.. the accident, didn't he?"
Farfarello nodded once more.
"Is he.. still alive?" she asked breathlessly.
Farfarello's mouth quirked in a strange grin, and he inclined his head in confirmation.
"Why can I only remember him?" she asked with a stifled sob. "I don't even remember my own brother, but I..." She threw herself into his arms, the movement an instinct buried so deep she got the sense she had turned to her brother for comfort many times in the past.
Farfarello, however, went stiff with shock when she clung to him, and something in the back of her mind went cold. warning it whispered, and her breath caught in her throat in confusion.
Then Farfarello's hand was on her shoulder, light and hesitant, and she was suddenly aware that he was uncomfortable. Relief that she didn't understand washed over her, and she giggled weakly. "I'm sorry," she whispered, pulling away and wiping her eyes.
Farfarello seemed to have sensed her sudden uneasiness, and scowled slightly. "Not used to it," he muttered briefly, "..anymore."
She looked up into his golden eye in surprise, and it flicked away from hers for a moment, muffled pain flickering in its amber depths.
"Niisan," she breathed, staring up at him in horror. "What happened?" Terrible thoughts and images ran like a cyclone through her mind. What had he been through since she had been unconscious? Thing must have been hard on him- he must have been desperate to find a job, any job, to pay for the bills. Had he been mistreated in the years she had not been there for him? Her eyes flicked to the scars on his body, then to his patch.
A lot of the scars were undeniably old- white, some of them faint. Others looked more recent. And some looked maybe days or weeks old. "Niisan," she said again, her voice loud in sudden terrified realization. "Who did this to you??"
The microwave beeped loudly.
Farfarello took a step back, recovering his personal space. He watched her almost warily out of the corner of his single eye. "Your food's done," he said simply, and left the room with his own plate.
Verrat stood numbly in the middle of the kitchenette, staring at the empty doorway and feeling something hot and painful swell in her chest. The pain was fierce protectiveness, sorrow, and love for her scarred brother. But the heat was something that scared her, something she didn't think she had ever felt before.
It was hate.
Hate for the red haired man, who had ruined her life and that of her brother's.
She gave a sudden sob and whirled, looking frantically for something to vent her frustration on.
Without thinking she snatched up the knife she had used to cut up the chow mein and slammed it savagely into the wooden countertop.
It clattered away harmlessly without even digging into the wood; she was too weak from her years unconscious. She sank to her knees, holding her head and crying softly.
Moments later a hand descended lightly on her shoulder, and she looked up into Farfarello's calm face through blurry vision.
Farfarello gazed at her a moment, then bent over to retrieve the knife. He twirled it in his fingers with the ease of an expert, and Verrat watched in morbid fascination, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
Farfarello watched her, that strange smile hovering on his lips. In a lightening quick move, he drove the knife into the drawers on the side of the counter.
It went in to the hilt.
Verrat jumped, then stared up at him with wide eyes.
"I can teach you how to use one," Farfarello said quietly, and his eye glinted. "You should know how to defend yourself," he said with an air of mockery.
Verrat looked slowly from him to the handle of the knife, protruding from the drawer, and thought she understood the irony behind his comment. Defend herself... or do something else with it?
revenge, her mind murmured suggestively.
She reached out abruptly and seized the knife's handle, yanking it free from the wood. Farfarello wrapped strong fingers around her arms and lifted her effortlessly to her feet. She stared boldly into his one-eyed gaze. "Please show me," she whispered.
Farfarello took the knife from her, flashing perfect white teeth in an almost unsettling grin. "Aa," he said simply. "Later I will introduce you to someone."
"A friend?" she guessed.
Farfarello seemed to find that word amusing, because he gave a soft chuckle. "Teammate."
"All right," she said, eager to meet someone that might be able to tell her what had happened to her brother. "What's his name?"
Farfarello's eye glinted with dark amusement. "Schuldich. It means-"
It hit him suddenly and without warning, slamming into his gut like a sledgehammer and richochetting throughout his body. He doubled over, opening his mouth in the struggle to draw in air, and his vision swam.
Longing... pain... He grunted with the effort to fight it off.
"Niisan! Niisan!!" Verrat was clinging to him, her voice desperate. "What's wrong?!"
"Let go!" he said, so fiercely that she obeyed, stepping back in surprise. "Get away," he snarled, still bent over and refusing to look at her. His body shook, and his breathing was labored. He pressed his lips tightly together, and sucked air in quickly through his nose, struggling to push his pain aside desperately.
Slowly it began to ebb, and he let out a shaky breath, glaring at the floor and unwinding his arms from where he had wrapped them around his stomach. This wasn't good. He couldn't keep trying to ignore this. Physical pain had no meaning for him. But this... this he couldn't fight. Not without...
"Niisan, you need to see a doctor," Verrat said frantically, touching his arm.
"Iie," he said, forcing himself to keep his voice calm. "Medicine."
"I'll go get some," she said quickly, her eyes wide with fear and concern. "Tell me what kind."
"I'll get it," he interrupted, straightening carefully.
"You can't go anywhere in this condition," Verrat cried, grabbing his arm.
Farfarello stared at her blankly. Love and hate were so blind-- Ken would grab him, unafraid because of his hatred, and this little girl, who he could kill so easily, was fearless in her love. He detached his arm from her grip carefully. "You can't," he said simply. "They only.. give it to me."
"Demo.." she looked terrified.
A memory- one that Farfarello thought he had destroyed long long ago -flickered in his mind's eye: a hand whispering through his hair, a motherly voice murmuring reassurances to a frightened child. Just a dream... Go back to sleep. Go back to sleep, Jei...
He shook his head hard to banish the memory. Meds. He needed them. He needed them now. He didn't want to remember. He didn't want to remember anymore.
"I'll be back," he said gruffly. "Don't answer the door." And he left, ignoring her as she called his name.
Ken pushed open the door to the White Rose Cafe, ignoring the girl who called a greeting from the counter, his good eye sweeping over the occupied tables in search of a familiar blond head.
Yohji nudged him from behind. "There they are," he murmured, pointing. He and Schuldich had caught up to them a block away from the Cafe, and given them a lift.
Ken followed Yohji's finger and finally spotted them. Omi and Nagi were sitting in a booth with the two Hunters: the tall golden haired man who had come into their shop, and a young woman with skin the color of creamed coffee.
Don't just stand there, Nagi said coolly. This American jackass is about to get up and leave. He's pretty mad.
The four of them hastened to the table, just as the male Hunter rose to his feet abruptly, reaching out to seize Nagi by the front of his shirt.
"Tell us where he is," he growled, "or you'll never see your damned leader again."
"Talon," the woman hissed as other customers turned to stare.
"Yare yare," Schuldich said loudly, stepping up to the booth. "Don't get your panties in a twist, Hunter. Drop the kid and drink your fucking coffee."
Both Hunters looked quickly at the assembled assasins, and after a moment Talon released Nagi and sat down, glaring at them over the tops of his sunglasses. "Where's the Irishman?" he demanded bluntly. "Speak up, you," he directed impatiently towards Ken.
Ken was irked by the man's attitude, and arched a brow at the older man coolly. "Do all Americans wear sunglasses indoors?" he asked impudently.
Talon's eyes narrowed dangerously, but Schuldich sniggered.
Omi gestured wearily to the two ruffled Hunters. "Talon and Tatiana," he introduced. "They say they'll give Crawford-san back if we hand over Farfarello."
"Hello, ojousan," Schuldich greeted cheerily, wiggling his fingers at Tatiana. Tatiana levelled him with a death glare.
Ken looked around at them and sighed. Aya was as frigid as ever, Schuldich was already teasing the two Hunters, and both Omi and Nagi looked frazzled. He sat down abruptly next to Omi, across from Tatiana, who Omi had said was considering an alliance.
"Look," he said bluntly, "we need your help. And you need ours. There's too many of those things out there for just a few people to handle. We're not here to make enemies with you; you're the ones who antagonized us."
Tatiana studied him skeptically for a moment before lowering the straw she'd been absently chewing on. "Yeah, it ain't gonna be no picnic goin' after those leeches by ourselves," she admitted brusquely. "But why should we trust you?" Her eyes strayed to his scars.
Ken touched the twin scars lightly. "If you're worried about this, don't be. I got a blood transfusion, and this was days ago. I'm fine. I'm not going to be Turned or anything. Farfarello's the one who stopped the ones that did this to me in the first place." Jesus, now he was defending the lunatic. What next?
"Yeah, but that don't change that you pick poor company," Tatiana said drolly, flicking her gaze towards the members of Schwarz.
Ken shrugged helplessly. "Like I said, we can't do it alone. We didn't ask to be allies, but it's necessary. Now are you going to help us or not?"
"I don't think they know," Tatiana told Talon, ignoring Ken's question.
Talon looked hard at Ken.
"Know what?" Yohji demanded suspiciously.
"About the Irishman," Tatiana said, watching Ken carefully for a reaction.
Ken frowned. "What about him? Why do you want him so badly?"
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Nagi go tense.
"He's on medication," Schuldich interrupted smoothly. "He isn't a problem, either."
"I don't care if he's walkin' around with a god damn IV," Tatiana snarled. "I don't trust his kind. Period." Her tone was full of loathing.
"That's enough of that, I think," Schuldich murmured. He bent over to stare straight into Tatiana's startled face. "Listen, bitch, he's one of us. He's not a fucking enemy. We wouldn't be with him if we didn't trust him."
"You think simple medication can control him?" Talon asked coldly. "Even on meds, we know that he still enjoys to kill. Whatever 'miracle drug' you've gotten him isn't working. He's still a psycopathic butcher."
Ken swallowed hard. Jesus Christ on a crutch... were they insinuating that before Farfarello had been put on medication he had been even more bloodthirsty than before?
"He used to kill without regard to age or gender, race or specie," Talon said, catching the surprise on Ken's face. "Everything that moved, you could say. He-"
"Enough," Schuldich said shortly, his eyes flashing. He wasn't smiling. "That was the past."
"Maybe we should take this somewhere else," Yohji suggested, glancing around at the nervous customers.
"Where's Aya-kun?" Omi asked suddenly.
Yohji blinked and craned his neck to search. "Didn't he come in?"
"I didn't notice," Ken said, abashed. He rose to his feet. "Aya?"
Talon stood, also, smoothly and without haste. "This is a waste of time," he said firmly. "We have better things to do than stand here arguing with trash like yourselves."
Schuldich sneered at him, and Yohji scowled. Tatiana and Talon pushed past them and walked off quickly.
Nagi sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Do you think we should follow them?"
"They'd notice if we did," Omi said, shaking his head.
"How are we going to get Crawford back?" Nagi asked, frustrated.
"I wouldn't worry about that," Schuldich said with a quirky grin. "Crawford's already taken care of that."
"What do you mean?" Yohji demanded.
But Nagi seemed to understand, and looked up at the German with raised eyebrows. "I see. You'd better keep your mind open for Aya, then. We might have to pick him up."
Ken was confused, but when they got outside, Yohji's car was gone.
"God damn it, Aya!" Yohji shouted at the sky angrily.
"Why did Aya-kun take the car?" Omi asked, bewildered.
Schuldich laughed mockingly. "Why else? He's gone to save Crawfish, of course."
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