Ch. 31: "The Bloody Baron"

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

Guilt consumes me for all I've done
And nothing seems sacred anymore
And everything I loved is gone
Is this what we were fighting for?

Am I what you're left fighting for?
This blood on my hands as I look in your eyes
It makes me feel alive

"Where is Nagi?" Birman asked quietly, leaning over the counter as Yohji slowly counted out her change. The other men of Weiß were busy with the noisy, numerous customers, who were glad the shop was open again after so many days of "vacation".
Yohji counted out a hundred and seventy yen into the woman's waiting palm. "He left earlier today to get the medication."
"I see." She took out her pocketbook and dropped the yen in. "Is he alone?"
"No, Schuldich went with him."
"All right. Call me after the shop is closed and after they get back. I need to know as soon as you-know-who is under control."
Ken passed them as he edged through the crowd, headed for the back to get some ribbon. As he passed the closed kitchen door, he reached out inconspicuously to make sure the door was locked. The stairs that led upstairs were accessed from the kitchen, and Crawford and Farfarello were keeping out of sight in the bedrooms until Nagi returned. Aya had testily asked why the American didn't go out and do some research, but Crawford had been calmly adament. Ken suspected it had something to do with a vision, because it wasn't like the older man to just sit around and waste time.
Ken slipped into the back storage room and shut the door gratefully behind him. He leaned against the counter for a quick breather as his eyes roved the shelves for the red ribbon he'd been asked to find. Spotting it, he stepped over to the stool and nudged it towards the counter.
"I need to talk to you, Siberian."
Ken yelped, whirling around to face Birman. He hadn't even heard the door open. "Don't do that," he hissed. "You startled me!"
Birman looked faintly amused. "Sorry. But we need to talk."
"Uh, sure, what about?" Ken asked, rummaging through the junk on the counter for the scissors.
Ken paused for a heartbeat before resuming his search, keeping his tone carefully neutral. "What about him?"
"Are you all right with him? Balinese tells me he's been harrassing you."
Ken shook his head slowly, discovering the scissors under a tangle of ivory lace. "He's just being himself. He's not really harrassing me- not anymore. I think he was just.. testing me. Us. Schuldich did say that Farfarello only respects people that aren't afraid of him."
"I know that," Birman sighed, cupping her elbows in her palms, "but remember what he is. Meds or not, he's dangerous. On one hand you have the bloodthirsty lunatic, and on the other you have the calculated killer. Having him 'interested' in you isn't what you want, so don't try to encourage anything even resembling friendship. I don't want one of my team killed by.. one of them." Her mouth twitched into a frown just slightly.
"Schwarz?" Ken shrugged helplessly, pulling the red ribbon down from the shelf. "They're assholes, but they haven't tried to hurt us or backstab us that we've seen. They've even been somewhat helpful. You know about.. Omi and Nagi, right?" he asked hesitantly.
Birman just nodded calmly.
"All right..." Ken watched her carefully for a moment to make sure she didn't seem terribly opposed or disgusted before continuing. "And Yohji seems to be able to keep Schuldich a little in line when Crawford's not around. I guess the two understand each other or something. The main problem isn't Farfarello and I," he wrapped up. "It's Crawford and Aya."
Birman sighed. "You know, I had a gut feeling those two would be at each other's throats. Anything big I should know about?"
Ken stretched out the ribbon, measuring a length out with his eyes. "Nothing huge, I don't think. Aya just snaps at him a lot, and Crawford seems to enjoy getting under his skin sometimes. Though he gets annoyed with Aya. I guess it's just the whole leader versus leader thing."
"A pissing contest," Birman summed up drolly.
"Yeah." Ken grinned at her wryly, snipping at the ribbon with the scissors. "Something like that. Aya hates him, you know. Almost as much as he hates Schuldich; it's a lucky thing Schuldich spends most of his time with Yohji or Schwarz, because if Aya had to put up with him and Crawford, he'd probably kill them all."
"A Schwarz-flavored BBQ," Birman joked softly, then straightened her shoulders. "All right. Thanks for the update, Siberian. I'll let you get back to your work, now."
"By the way," Ken said quickly, "I've been wondering..."
Birman paused, looking at him expectantly.
Ken turned to face her, wrapping the ribbon around his hand. "We know Manx is a telepath, and this Ryo guy is a precognitive... So I was wondering, do you have a Gift, too?"
Birman gave a small smile. "Aa, something of a helpful Gift."
"What is it?" Ken asked curiously.
Birman winked. "This," she said simply.
..And passed through the closed wooden door, disappearing from sight.


Crawford wandered downstairs just at closing time, catching Yohji's eye as the lean man locked up the cashbox, calling a farewell to their reluctantly departing customers.
What are you doing down here? Yohji demanded mentally. Aya's going to have a shit fit.
Crawford glanced around, reaching out to pluck a rose from the countertop and toying with it idly. He'll live. We're about to get company. Ken was sweeping nearby, and Omi was busy watering the plants, waving and smiling cheerfully to the customers as they left. Aya stood by the door, staring at all the girls sternly to make sure none of them dawdled. Outside the sun was already beginning to set. Crawford edged around the counter and started towards the redhead.
Finally the last of the girls was gone, and Aya started to close the door with a small sigh of relief. A foot was suddenly thrust in the door to prop it open, and Aya hesitated, scowling in annoyance before reluctantly opening the door again.
"Wait-" Crawford started irritably, but already a tall, familiar figure was stepping into the shop, shouldering the door open impatiently. Aya backed away, startled. The others turned to look.
"Well, well, so I managed to catch you before closing time for once." Talon reached up to remove his sunglasses, staring down at Aya with glittering eyes before glancing around at the others.
"You.." Aya's eyes narrowed up at the taller man. "What do you want? Get out of here," he growled.
"I'm not leaving until you hand over the Vampire."
"Where's your shadow?" Ken called mockingly. "She doesn't agree with this, does she?"
Talon pointed a finger at Ken, his lip curled with scorn and his tone dripping with disgust. "Keep your trap shut, Feeder. I don't listen to Vampire sympathizers."
Ken flushed with anger at the name.
Aya swung.
Talon ducked easily, snatching Aya's wrist and twisting his arm behind his back in one swift, brutal movement. Aya gave a strangled cry, arching his back in pain.
"Aya!" Omi, Ken, and Yohji started forward.
"Stay still," Talon snapped, pulling Aya up against his chest and pulling harder still on his twisted arm. Aya hissed with pain, body straining to escape with as little movement as possible.
"Bring me the Vampire," Talon said. "Then we can arrange a little trade."
Ken had heard Farfarello's sudden movement and his anger in the mental web when he'd sensed Ken's flushed fury, but Crawford had ordered him sharply to stay put, no matter who insulted his 'pet'. Now the tall American stalked towards Talon and his furious prisoner, holding out his hands to the side, his face calm.
"Don't be an imbecile," he said. "We told you we wouldn't hand you Farfarello. Taking one of these little boys captive isn't going to help you any."
Talon turned a frosty look on him. "I don't deal with the scum from Schwarz."
"And I don't deal with pompous kidnappers like yourself," Crawford returned cooly. "Let the florist go."
Aya glared at him murderously at the poke to his pride. "Florist?" he sputtered. "You.."
"Unless you want to fight for him," Crawford said amiably.
"A fight?" Talon sneered. "Nice try. If we're going to fight, we're fighting for the Vampire."
Are you nuts? Ken hissed across Schuldich's telepathic bond. Knock it off, Crawford. Aya can take care of himself.
Crawford ignored him. "Very well," he agreed calmly, gaze locked with the other American's.
Talon's teeth flashed in a quick, mirthless smile. "Step outside," he ordered crisply, and hauled Aya out into the twillight.
"God dammit," Yohji cursed, slamming the register drawer and hurrying after the others. "I'm getting sick of that fucking Hunter."
Once outside, Talon shoved Aya roughly towards Crawford and shrugged out of his jacket, grinning with anticipation. "I think I should warn you that I took several years of martial arts."
Crawford had caught Aya when the younger man stumbled against him, and seemed to ignore Talon for a moment as he steadied the flustered assassin.
"Let me go," Aya snapped, pulling quickly away from Crawford and nursing his aching arm. Crawford turned his attention back on Talon, pushing the indignant redhead behind him in one wide sweep of his arm.
"Martial arts, eh?" he repeated, looking unimpressed. He began rolling up his sleeves, not even looking at the blonde. "This should be interesting. I used to box."
Aya raised an eyebrow from behind him. That explained his broad back and why he seemed in good shape.
"Boxing?" Talon sneered. "What good is that going to do against martial arts?" He lashed out suddenly with a vicious kick.
Crawford batted his leg away as if it were nothing and drove his fist into the man's gut-- all almost too quickly for the eye to follow.
Talon doubled over with an "oomph!" and stumbled back. Crawford looked at him for a moment before half-turning away dismissively.
Jesus, that had to be some punch. Yohji actually sounded halfway impressed.
Talon recovered and came at his adversary again.
Crawford was ready for him, and they began exchanging blows. They were both fast and talented, but Crawford had precognition and greater brute strength to aid him. He landed several heavy blows to the man's face and abdomen before Talon stumbled back and lost his balance, crashing into the garbage pile at the side of the shop. His face was stained with blood.
Yohji's derisive laugh had him struggling to find his feet again, but Crawford strode over and pressed a foot to his chest, shoving him ruthlessly to the ground. "Stay down there, cockroach," he advised calmly, breathing a little hard from the exertion. "And next time choose your 'victims' more carefully."
Aya stared at him angrily, confusion coloring his thoughts on the bond.
He was fighting for you, you know. Yohji's voice sounded amused as he projected the private message. Not Farfarello.
Aya glared at him furiously. You've been listening to that fucking Nazi too much, he shot back venomously. Turning his back on them all, he stalked back to the flower shop, slamming the door behind him.
Crawford glanced over his shoulder briefly at Aya's departure before returning his attention to the battered American at his feet. "Get out of here," he said with contempt. "You're not worth my time." He lifted his foot and turned away, heading back inside.
Talon got to his feet, stumbling and swaying, spitting threats at the other man's back. Omi frowned and strode over, reaching out and wrapping his hand around the man's arm. Talon stiffened, his eyes going blank. Crawford paused to watch with interest.
"Get out of here," Omi ordered firmly. "Go back to wherever you're staying and don't come back to this flowershop."
He released the older man, and Talon turned away dazedly, wandering down the street.
Crawford chuckled dryly. "Interesting Talent," he said, and ducked inside.
The others followed him. "I didn't know you were a boxer," Ken said hesitantly.
"Pro," Crawford confirmed. "I did it for years. Before I came to Japan."
"Did you have a stage name? What'd they call you?" Yohji demanded.
There was the hint of a grim smile on the American's lips. "The Bloody Baron."
"Why'd you quit?" Omi asked curiously.
"I had my reasons," Crawford replied after a moment. He came to a stop and crossed his arms, arching a brow at the man furiously sweeping the shop. "Now what's gotten up your ass, Abysinnian?"
Aya paused in his sweeping to glare at the older man. "Is he he gone?" he demanded finally.
"Omittchi sent him off," Yohji confirmed, patting his pockets for his cigarettes. "Anyone seen my cigs?"
"Yare yare, I see you've been busy."
"Schuldich," Ken exclaimed in surprise.
The German walked up behind Yohji and reached around him to dig his hands into the man's front pockets, sniffing almost absently at the man's flushed neck. "We saw that dickless Hunter walking off a second ago."
"Schuldich," Yohji hissed in embarrassment, trying to wriggle free.
Nagi walked in a moment later, glancing over his shoulder. "Who beat up the Hunter?" he asked, sounding vaguely amused.
Ken tilted his head towards Crawford. "Mister Boxer over here."
Schuldich smirked at his leader, digging his hands deeper in Yohji's pockets to hold him still. "Been awhile since you tried those moves, ne?"
Crawford shrugged silently and began rolling down his sleeves. Farfarello appeared in the kitchenette doorway, staring at them all with a glittering gold eye. "Did you get it?" he asked bluntly.
Nagi held up a small box. "Aa. The syringe, too."
Some of the tension went out of the Irishman's shoulders, and he strode over. "Give it to me," he said crisply.
"What's the rush? Having nightmares again, Farfie?" Schuldich teased.
Farfarello ignored him, already thrusting out his arm for Nagi. The members of Weiß paused in what they were doing to watch curiously.
"Those are his meds?" Yohji asked, giving up his silent struggle with Schuldich. "The ones that make him insane?"
"Aa," Schuldich replied quietly, his eyes hooded as he watched Nagi set the box on the counter and take out the syringe. "But it will get rid of his taste for blood for the most part."
Ken was watching all this with a twisted feeling in his stomach.
If Farfarello took that medication, he wouldn't have to feed anymore. But he would also go back to the raving, psycopathic madman he had been before. He was coherant now- intelligent. Even sarcastic. Ken had just started to get used to this new side of the Irishman, and now he was going to have to watch him descend into insanity again.
He needs this, chibi, Schuldich informed him drolly. The meds make him forget his past. Things he doesn't want to remember.
What do you care? Just shut up and watch. Schuldich's mental voice was dull, emotionless; as if he, too, wished things were different.
Nagi pierced the rubber covering of one of the small bottles with a long needle. He watched the syringe fill a little over halfway before pulling the it free from the bottle and flicking the needle with his finger. "Give me your arm, Farfarello," he said quietly.
Farfarello held out his pale, muscled arm, turning it upside down to present the vulnerable inside of his elbow.
Ken didn't remember making any kind of decision, or even moving from his spot from by Yohji, but the next thing he knew, he was across the room, grabbing Farfarello's arm and shoving it down, out of reach of Nagi's needle.
"Ken-" Omi said, startled. Nagi blinked.
Farfarello turned a fierce look on Ken, but for once it didn't scare the other man. Ken glared right back, his fingers digging into the Irishman's arm to hold it still. "Get over yourself," he snapped, a little louder than he'd meant- and a lot more angry. "You think you're the only one with painful memories?"
Something mad and full of hate flashed in Farfarello's single golden eye, and he gave an animalistic snarl, yanking his arm free with such force that Ken was thrown against the wall.
"Ken!" Yohji found his movements hindered by Schuldich. "Let go, damn you!"
"Nagi," Omi said sharply. "Hold him-!"
"No," Crawford countered calmly. "Wait."
Farfarello ignored them all and turned coolly, plucking the syringe from Nagi's limp grasp. Ken pushed himself painfully into a sitting position. "Quit feeling sorry for yourself," he gasped, glaring at the man's turned back. "You think the only way you can live is to hide behind drugs and insanity? You're a fucking stupid, selfish asshole!"
"And what do you care?" Farfarello demanded, in a voice so cold and low it made Ken's hair stand on end. Farfarello paused with the needle poised above his arm, staring at Ken with his glowing amber eye. "This is my choice, angel." He said the name mockingly.
Ken scrambled to his feet. "You aren't the only one with shadows in the past," he shouted furiously. "You think you're special? Everyone in this room has something they want to hide from, but I know Weiß at least has the balls to admit to themselves those things happened. We don't hide from it and tell ourselves it didn't happen, tell ourselves our loved ones are still alive. We hate it, but we cope with it! We've watched loved ones get murdered, we've had our lives ruined, we've been betrayed, beaten, ignored-- we've even killed those we wanted to protect so badly!"
"URUSAI!" Farfarello nearly screamed, hurling the bottle of medicine. Ken ducked, and it shattered on the wall, spreading the drugs like blood over the plaster. The Irishman's eye was alight with mad fury and a pain so deep it had transpired long ago into self-hatred. "Urusai, urusai!!"
"You can't help who you are," Ken shouted over him. "You can't take back whatever you did, or whatever happened. Taking those drugs just destroys your mind, and I know it's killing your body, because you're not as pale as you were when you were always on those damned meds. Is that what you want to be? A lunatic with no reason to live? A monster?"
"A Vampire is a monster," Farfarello snarled, striding towards him furiously. "Or did you forget?"
"So far I like your Vampire side a hell of a lot more than your Farfarello side," Ken shot back. "You don't need those fucking meds!"
Farfarello slammed the point of the needle into the wall beside Ken's head. Ken jumped. His heart was hammering in his ears and his nerves were frayed. He was terrified and angry, and confused. But mostly angry. Even he wasn't sure exactly why, or why he should care. He just knew- suddenly -that he didn't want this man to become Schwarz's Berserker once again.
"Don't I?" Farfarello growled, right in his face. He was beyond angry. Run, Ken's mind whimpered. Why won't you run?
"Not if you have blood, right?" Ken demanded breathlessly.
"So you would rather have a bloodthirsty Vampire on the streets than a Berserker?" Farfarello sneered. "Don't make me laugh."
"Then use me," Ken said before he could talk himself out of it. "Like before."
Farfarello stilled. His eye widened marginally and he regarded Ken silently for several heartbeats.
"Ken!" Aya nearly roared. "No!" He started forward, and Crawford made as if to hold him back.
No, Crawford, Ken sent quickly. Don't fight him. He has to see I'm doing this by myself. That it's my choice.
Crawford's hands dropped to his sides.
"Aya, be still," Ken said quietly, unable to drag his gaze away from Farfarello's calculating amber eye. "I'm serious. Stay where you are."
You're nuts, Schuldich informed him dryly, but there was no amusement in his jade eyes.
Yohji looked around incredulously at the silent members of Schwarz. "You mean you're actually going to let him do this?" he demanded angrily. "You're as fucking insane as he is!!"
Omi swallowed hard, his face torn.
Farfarello took a step back, breaking the spell, and Ken blinked. "Wh-"
The Irishman seized his wrist in a firm grip, his eye boring into Ken. Come he said simply. He turned and strode towards the stairs, with Ken stumbling after him.
Up the stairs, down the hall, past the bathroom.. Where was Farfarello taking him?
They reached Ken's bedroom door, and Farfarello booted it open, pushing Ken inside roughly. Ken tripped over the rug and stumbled a few steps before landing clumsily on the bed. "Oof!"
He heard the door close, and pushed himself up on his hands, sitting up straight and staring at Farfarello with his heart thundering in his chest. Had he made the right choice? Maybe he should have let the madman take the drugs after all.
Farfarello walked towards him slowly, staring at him calmly. "What do you think you know about me?" he asked coldly. "What makes you think you can tell me what to do? Who do you think you are?"
Ken swallowed hard and forced himself to meet the other man's calm gaze. "Your pet," he said weakly, managing to give a watery, sarcastic grin.
Farfarello stopped in front of him, staring down at him for a moment. Something like confusion and pain flickered in his eye, but before Ken could be sure he'd even seen it, the Irishman was leaning over him. He gripped the brunette's jaw and skull in a firm but gentle grip, tilting his head, and then his fangs were piercing tanned skin, and Ken was swept away in mingled pain and euphoria.

lyrics are frum "Fighting For"... by me -_-; it's a ken song (tho it fits both aya and ken for this chappie..) that i wrote specifically for this fic, so no stealing. =p

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