Notes: Jesus H. Christ. It's a sequel for Mystery Man >_O; Blahh... I must be out of my mind. MM finished fine, I think; I'm doing this for me, though, for my own amusement, because I liked working on MM. (By the way, for anyone that hasn't read Mystery Man, this fic won't make sense for the most part, so reading MM first would help ^^;;)
Warnings: Violence, gore, some angst, yaoi, het, heavy lime, cursing
Disclaimer: Weiß Kreuz is not mine, yadda yadda. I'm just borrowing these lovely characters for fun, not profit. Don't sue me, my paycheck would probably make you laugh. =pp And "The Jabberwocky" is by Lewis Carroll, from his book Through the Looking Glass. The picture of the Jabberwocky in the pic above was drawn by Sir John Tenniel.

Chapter 3

       It's the continuous, somewhat painful battering at my shields that finally drags me out of the darkness what feels like days later.
       A voice from nearby sounds louder than thunder, and makes me wince.
       "I think she's coming out of it."
       Then comes Farfarello's voice in my head, short and commanding. Open your eyes.
       It takes a few tries, but I finally manage to force my lids open. The light makes my eyes water and my pounding head throb all the more.
       Vaguely I can make out two familiar faces hovering over me.
       "How you doing, runt?" Schuldich asks.
       "Owww," I offer pathetically.
       "She's alive," Schuldich calls drolly to someone in the background.
       Farfarello ignores him, tugging firmly on one of my shoulders to help me sit up. Still blinking rapidly, I turn my head carefully, trying to figure out where the heck I am and what happened.
       Out of the corner of my eye I see Schuldich shoot me a strange look, but I ignore him for the moment. I divide my concentration, working to re-build my shields, which are considerably weakened, and taking in my surroundings.
       We're no longer at the cafe. We're in what looks like a hotel room... Schuldich's, most likely. I'm stretched out on the bed, with Farfarello crouching on one edge and Schuldich perched on the other. Crawford is by the window, peering through a crack in the curtains. He turns to face me after a moment, arching a brow.
       "What happened?" I mumble, touching my head and wincing. "Schuldich, do you have any aspirin?"
       He gives me a "Duh" look-- telepaths tend to carry painkillers around when they visit cities --and heads for the bathroom.
       Predictably, Crawford answers my question with another question. "What do you remember?"
       I shake my head slowly. "We were at that cafe... and that guy started coming towards us. Then someone grabbed my arm. That little girl--" I look from him to Farfarello, confused. "Did- did she do this to me? What did she do? Was she a telepath?"
       "Not exactly." Schuldich reappears with a couple of painkillers and a bottle of water. He tosses them onto the bed and props himself against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. He's still looking at me funny. "As for what she does... Lower your shields for a minute."
       "Why?" I gulp down some water and pills.
       "Just do it," Crawford commands.
       I sigh and do so, reaching out to clasp one of Farfarello's hands without thinking. He stares down at our joined hands for a long moment, then flicks Schuldich a look. A moment later I realize whose hand I'm holding and jerk away.
       Schuldich ignores us, eyes unfocused. I can feel him digging carefully at my surface thoughts, then going a little bit deeper. A frown tugs at his mouth. "Something's definitely a little off," he murmurs in Crawford's direction. "But I can't be sure. Farf yanked her out of that little brat's grip pretty quick. It's obvious she didn't get to finish, anyway. She knows who we are and who she is, for the most part. Her memory's a little foggy, but most of it should come back soon."
       "What are you talking about?" I demand sharply, looking at each of them with mounting nervousness. "What did that girl do to me??"
       "The kid's an Eraser," Schuldich says as if that explains everything.
       "Technically, she's what's called a Cleanser," Crawford corrects calmly. "An Eraser is able to completely wipe free a person's memory; basically 'rebooting' a person's mind. It can change a person's entire personality-- to a point --because they've lost all memories of events that made them the way they are. A Cleanser is a lesser form of this. They are able to 'cleanse' a mind. This works best on sick minds. For instance, if she had managed to get her hands on Farfarello..." he shrugs. "Theoretically, he would become an upstanding citizen. Though it works better on people who have just recently become 'sick'."
       I open and close my mouth a few times, trying not to look as confused as I feel. "But... what does that have to do with me?" I finally ask.
       Schuldich and Crawford exchange a quick glance. Farfarello's eye narrows a bit.
       "You won't notice anything's different-- or at least, not right away," Schuldich finally says. "She didn't physically hurt you, though, so chill. I think this will effect Farf more than you." He turns his attention on Farfarello, offering a small, unamused smirk. "Sorry, Farf. You're gonna have to get used to a sane girl-toy again. All that garbage you've been spilling across the link to her for the last year just got cleaned out. She's no angel-- hell, she's a Fujimiya for crissakes --but she's not gonna be as twisted as you've gotten used to. She might not even remember being so dark-- not at first, anyway."
       "A telepath is bad enough; a borderline psychotic one is worse," Crawford says. "They probably thought you'd be easier to take care of-- or recruit --if you were more even-tempered."
       "Psychotic?" I repeat, baffled and growing annoyed. "What are you talking about?!"
       Schuldich ignores that. "You remember us, yeah?" He gestures at the three of them. "Using one word, how would you describe each of us?"
       I stare at him, nonplussed, then raise an accusing finger. "Jerk," I say firmly. He rolls his eyes. I move my finger from Crawford to Farfarello. "Cold. And..." I hesitate, but he can feel it through the link between us, and he knows exactly what I feel when I look at him. A bit of pity mixed with horror and fear. He pulls away abruptly, face expressionless. I can feel his barrier of thorns cropping up around his mind, barely blocking out the sudden bubble of anger.
       "You do know you're sleeping with the poor bastard, yeah?" Schuldich murmurs, watching me from under hooded lids.
       My cheeks heat up. "I don't think that's any of your business," I sputter. But he's telling the truth-- I know he is. I can't quite make myself look at Farfarello as I struggle to keep my horror hidden from him. What on earth would possess me to sleep with such a madman?? I grasp frantically at flickers of memories floating in my own mind. A lot of things are fuzzy, and that doesn't help my rising panic.
       "Some of her shit's scrambled or gone," Schuldich sums up, stretching. "Especially some of the specifics that helped her accept such fucked-up people as us. Even if she remembers some things that happened between us, she may not remember or understand what she felt at the time that led her to grow accustomed to us."
       I look at each of them, feeling suddenly lost and helpless. "I want to see my brother," I say quietly but as firmly as I can.
       Farfarello stands up and stalks over to glare out through the crack in the curtain, ignoring me completely.
       "We've been over this already, princess," Schuldich drawls.
       "I want to see my brother," I say again, louder.
       "That's enough," Crawford says shortly. He turns to Schuldich. "Can she still fight?"
       Schuldich winces, scratching his scalp restlessly. "Nnn, I dunno. Technically, yes. She's still an okay psychic. But if you're asking will she wanna fight..." He arches a brow at me. "Feel like using that nifty power of yours to blow up someone's little brains?" he asks cheerfully, sending along a 'helpful' mental image.
       I stare at him in horror, hands flying up unconsciously to cover my ears as if I can block his thoughts that way. "What?! You expect me to kill for you?!"
       Schuldich gives Crawford a significant look. "That answer your question?"
       Crawford frowns, visibly displeased. "She's practically useless to us, then. I suppose the Cleanser accomplished her mission in that regard."
       "If I'm so useless to you, let me go home," I interject quickly. "Let me see my brother again. He must be so worried about me--"
       Too late, I notice the building anger across the link.
       "Shut up," Farfarello snarls, turning his head suddenly to offer me a deadly glare.
       I rock back unconsciously, heart in my throat.
       "Even Farf scares her," Schuldich sighs. "We're practically back to square one."
       "We need to get out of the country." Crawford begins to pace, frowning in concentration. "It's going to be even more risky; they're sure to be waiting for us at the airport."
       "Who was that other man?" I ask hesitantly. "I didn't even notice him until Schuldich did."
       "That's because you weren't trained to notice glitches in the minds around you," Schuldich says drolly. "I don't know who he was; someone's beefed up his shields, which was a big clue. Obviously Rosenkreuz, though. He was probably just a distraction so that brat could work her mojo on you. Crawford managed to wing him, though, and we got the hell outta dodge."
       "Wing him?" But even as I ask the question, I can tell what he means by the flicker of memory in his mind. I gape at Crawford in horror. "You- you pulled out a gun and shot at someone?! In a public place? What if you'd hurt an innocent bystander?!"
       Crawford ignores that.
       Schuldich throws his arms up in the air in disgust. "I can't take much more of this," he growls. "We either get her back to dark and homicidal, or we dump her in Japan and wash our hands of her. All she's doing is drawing Rosenkreuz's firepower, anyway."
       Farfarello offers him a long, steady look.
       "Or not," Schuldich mumbles, avoiding eye contact. "We'll see if you're still so against the idea in a couple of days, when she keeps flinching everytime you look at her."
       "You said some of it would come back," Farfarello growls, glaring at him in challenge.
       "Sooner or later, yeah," Schuldich hedges. "But that's mostly just memory. She may come to grudgingly accept you in some way, like she did when you two first met. But she's been Cleansed, Farf. She's not like you anymore. She won't approve of your little killing sprees, she won't want to use her powers to openly attack anyone, and she won't really understand you like she used to."
       Farfarello turns to face him fully. "How do I fix her?" he snaps.
       Schuldich hesitates, shooting a quick look my way. "Uh... she IS fixed, Farf. Her brain's healthy again. You're asking how to make her sick again. Are you sure you wanna do that?" Not that he gives a damn; I can tell that much just from the edges of his thoughts. He's more curious than anything. I also look at Farfarello, confused and nervous.
       Farfarello glares at him for a long moment, then turns back to the window. "It will happen again," he growls confidently.
       "Yeah." Schuldich shrugs, looking bored again. "Eventually; if you guys keep that link up. Just remember, it'll take longer this time. It happened so quickly last time because your minds were trapped together for awhile. You wanna work at fucking her up again, hey, be my guest. She's more useful to us that way, anyway."
       "HEY!" I snap before I can stop myself, self-righteous anger overriding my trepidition. "No one is messing with my head, got it??"
       Schuldich sniggers. Farfarello acts as if I haven't even spoken.
       I scramble off the bed and back away, putting as much distance between myself and them as possible in the small room. Panic and disorientation pulse through me with each whooping breath, and my stomach churns sickeningly. "Stay out of my mind," I say fiercely, throwing everything I have into my shields. "I don't want you to- to make me 'sick'. Just--" It's getting more and more difficult to take a proper breath, and my vision swims alarmingly. "Just- stay away from me!"

       "She's hyperventilating," Crawford notes.
       "Hey, chill out, princess," Schuldich growls. "You're the one who put up the stupid link in the first place, anyway."
       Their words sound muted, but I hear him, and do a quick, desperate search of my own mind. And there it is-- a dark twisted path from my mind to Farfarello's. Without hesitation, I snap it in half.
       Evidently there is a better way to sever a link; one that doesn't make my head feel like it's had a hole drilled into it. I stumble, banging my hip painfully against the bedside table. By the window, Farfarello's hand flies towards his head, his face twisting in a mixture of surprise, anger, and pain.
       "WHOA, watch it, you little idiot--!" Schuldich snarls, taking a quick step towards me.
       I didn't see Crawford move, but suddenly his hand is gripping my shoulder like a vice, and he is pushing an empty fast-food bag against my face. "Sit down, lean over, and breathe into this," he orders coolly. He 'helps' by shoving me hard, forcing me to take an abrupt seat in the room's only chair.
       I hold the open end of the bag over my nose and mouth and try desperately to get my breathing under control.
       "Christ," Schuldich mutters in disgust.
       "Get rid of her," Farfarello snarls, glaring at me from under his palm, fingers still digging into his skull. "She wants to see her precious brother; let her. We can't use her anymore."
       Something in my chest twists hotly in a pain I don't understand, but it's easy to ignore with the struggle to breathe properly. The bag is helping. I glare at them over it, not quite trusting myself to talk yet.
       But already they are looking at each other, talking as if I'm not even there.
       "Whaddya think?" Schuldich drawls, picking lazily at a scab on his elbow. "Farf has a point. She's useless if she isn't willing to work with us, and she's drawing firepower in the worst way. Why not just dump the little turd back in sushi land? Maybe Rosenkreuz's team will even follow her there while we disappear again."
       Farfarello lets his hand drop to his side, and it's impossible to tell he was cringing in pain a moment ago. He looks towards Crawford, face expressionless.
       Crawford takes his glasses off and polishes them on a corner of his shirt, brows drawn down in displeasure.
       "What?" Schuldich makes a face at him. "I know that look. Spill it. Don't tell me you had another vision concerning Princess Nutjob."
       Crawford settles his glasses back on the bridge of his nose, expression somber. "Nothing concrete," he admits.
       "Very helpful, Sherlock," Schuldich sneers, throwing up his arms in frustration. "You didn't even see that damned Eraser bitch coming. At least say whether or not our immediate future includes a trip to Japan."
       "...Yes," Crawford says slowly, frown deepening. "We are going to Japan; that much is clear."
       "What's this 'we' shit?" Schuldich snaps. "Can't one of us just dump her off?"
       I can finally breathe correctly, so I lower the bag to interrupt at the same time Crawford opens his mouth to respond.
       He jerks suddenly-- only a little bit, but it's so abrupt that it catches me by surprise, and I forget what I'm about to say. His eyes slam shut, and he presses his lips tight together.
       "Hey--!" Schuldich seizes his elbow to steady him, and for the briefest instant, he actually looks concerned. Almost like a normal human being.
       But already Crawford is recovering, and pulling his arm free.
       Schuldich scowls at him to hide his worry. "What the fuck is with you lately, anyway? Visions never used to effect you like this before--"
       "They're coming," Crawford says simply. Schuldich begins to curse in German. Crawford ignores him, gesturing towards me curtly. "Bring her. We're leaving."
       Farfarello curls his lip, but comes over and hauls me roughly out of the chair. I yank free, catching him off guard, and offer him a glare that could rival my brother's. "Get your hands off of me," I snarl. Schuldich actually stops and turns to look at me at the tone in my voice. "You don't have to drag me along; I know those people are bad news. Not that you lunatics are much better, but I'm not stupid. I'll go."
       "Almost forgot the Fujimiya temper," Schuldich snickers, hurling my jacket at me and catching me in the face with it. "Move it or lose it, missy. Some of the guys in Rosenkreuz could give Farf here a run for his money in the psychotic department."

       Five minutes later we are in front of the apartment, looking around warily for any sign of an attack.
       Now I know what to look for, and I extend my mind outwards, probing for any anomaly in the thoughts of the people around us. Vaguely I can sense Schuldich doing the same as his own mental net brushes by mine.
       Crawford quickly issues his orders. "Split up; Farfarello, take Fujimiya. Meet at the airport."
       "What?" Schuldich looks at him in disbelief. "There's no way we're getting a last-minute flight to Japan now."
       "No, but we need more firepower, and Nagi's plane is about to land."
       "It'd be nice if you told us the entirety of your visions sometimes," Schuldich grumbles.
       "We'll book a flight when we get there. If you run across any of the team on the way there, take them out; preferably at a distance. So far we only know about their Eraser. It's likely they sent someone with a more offensive ability to take care of Farfarello. Take care of it quickly, or try to outrun them."
       Schuldich puts his fingers in his mouth and gives a shrill whistle. A cab from down the street pulls up, and he scrambles inside, followed quickly by Crawford. As it pulls away, I turn to look for another, but Farfarello grabs my wrist in a painfully tight grip and starts off running down an alley, practically dragging me along.
       "Hey--!" I stumble, and put on an extra burst of speed to keep up. "Why can't we call a cab?? You're hurting me!"
       He doesn't even look at me.
       Grinding my teeth, I concentrate on running. I try to pull my hand away once or twice, but his bone-crushing grip refuses to loosen.
       Through alleys, across streets-- we avoid going along roads and sidewalks, and I clue into his plan belatedly. If it's important to arrive separately at the airport, getting a cab so close to the apartment would be foolish. I only hope he decides to call one soon; I'm getting a stitch in my side, and I can barely keep up.
       And then my legs begin to ache, and I realize why running for any length of time is a Bad Idea for me.
       I threw away my cane almost a year ago, and walking is fine; I can even sprint short distances. But full-out running for any length of time doesn't agree with my weakened muscles, and I can feel the race beginning to take its toll.
       Desperately I try to block out the pain, to just go go go, because I don't have any other choice.
       We make it two more blocks before my traitorous legs give out on me without warning. I go down with a sharp cry, nearly taking Farfarello with me. Unfortunately, this happens in the middle of a street, just as the pedestrian light turns red.
       Farfarello snarls something I can't understand, and releases my wrist. I push frantically at the asphalt, but my legs refuse to obey. I feel a moment of pure panic; it's as if my shaking legs are paralyzed. Cars begin to honk angrily at us.
       Then strong arms are curling under me, and I yelp in surprise as I'm lifted bodily from the ground. Holding me roughly to his chest, Farfarello darts across the street-- and then I feel it. A strange approach on the edges of my mind.
       I'm still gasping for breath, so my shout of warning is more like a strained squeak. "Look out--!"
       Farfarello acts instinctively; he doesn't bother trying to find the danger. His foot hits the curb and he uses the boost the hurl his body across the sidewalk. His side slams into a brick building, cracking my head against it in the process, and I see stars for a moment.
       Something flashes past, inches away-- barely missing us. Blinking rapidly to keep from blacking out and swallowing back a whimper of pain, I stare past Farfarello's broad shoulder at the man standing further down the sidewalk.
       I get only a glimpse of a skinny foreigner in a baseball cap, his hand snatching a weapon out of the air-- some kind of blade. Then Farfarello is rolling against the wall, pushing himself away, and running in the opposite direction. I can feel the pent-up tension in his arms. He wants to stay and fight, but he can't with me in his arms.
       He dodges into an alley, barely avoiding the blade that whistles past.
       Daggers? Shuriken? It's too fast for me to identify it, and most of my concentration is centered on holding tight to Farfarello's shoulders to keep from falling. It's not a position I favor, but my legs are still weak and trembling.
       Farfarello takes a turn, then a hiss escapes his mouth, and he stops so abruptly I almost roll right out of his grip.
       It's a dead end.
       He turns quickly, to find another way, but a figure is already appearing at the open alley end.
       Without hesitation Farfarello dumps me unceremoniously to the ground and yanks a dagger from the back of his belt. A brief, demonic smile flashes across his face as he stands ready to face our attacker.
       I scoot back on my butt until my back is against the alley wall, my heart thundering in my ears as I stare in terror at the man slowly walking down the narrow alley towards us. He's either American or European-- it's difficult to tell. He's older than either of us, and tall, with blond hair peeping out from underneath his hat. He's dressed in ordinary clothes, but his arm is swinging slowly by his side, spinning what looks like a small curved blade tied to the end of a slim chain.
       He stops, leaving a healthy distance between Farfarello and himself, and begins to spin the blade quicker. He grins back at Farfarello condescendingly, and I dig my nails into my palm in horror. He's in range to use that weapon, but too far away for Farfarello to get to him with his knife.
       "The Berserker, in the flesh," he says in heavily accented Japanese-- possibly for my benefit. "And this must be the 'dangerous' little girl I have heard so much about." He laughs without taking his eyes off of Farfarello. "I admit, I am disappointed. Is running all that you can do?"
       Farfarello makes no response.
       The man flicks an amused glance my way. I can tell he is gloating at my fear, and struggle to control my expression. "I think, with you, I will have a little fun before I kill you," he says cheerfully. "You just wait there, pretty one, while I kill your ugly little boyfriend, yes? I am Chris. Remember it; you will scream my name later." He laughs at his own tasteless joke.
       I don't dare make a retort; I'm afraid my voice will crack and betray my fear.
       He begins spinning the blade faster and faster, and a high keening note fills the air. Then he spins it until it's no more than a blur, and the noise intensifies to a painful volume. I clap my hands over my ears, gasping. It feels as if my head will explode from the pressure that sound is pounding into my brain. This can't be natural-- is this his Gift?
       Even Farfarello cannot ignore it. He stumbles back, hands flying up to protect his ears-- and that's when Chris makes his move.
       He darts forward, swinging the blade in a swift upwards movement. Farfarello is expecting it, and jerks back. He avoids a fatal blow, but earns a slash across his chest despite his quick reflexes.
       Chris keeps moving forward, slashing across, up, and down. Farfarello can barely dodge in time, and blood leaps from deep wounds along his arms and torso.
       Chris laughs again, already spinning his weapon again. It's all a game to him. He plans on taking his time with us. The noise is maddening. I feel like clawing at my scalp, slamming my head against the wall-- anything to make it stop. A strangled noise tears its way out of my throat before I can stop it. My eardrums will rupture-- I'll go mad-- my head will surely explode--
       Perhaps it is that last thought that triggers something-- instinct, or memory, I'm not sure. I don't know how I know I can do it; I just do. I can do more than read minds.
       I can defend myself.
       I react almost without meaning to, throwing my mind at him in fierce desperation.
       His head snaps back, his body jerks, and the blade loses its momentum, clattering to the ground. The noise stops, and I draw in a ragged breath of relief.
       Chris staggers back a step, reaching up with a shaking hand to touch a trickle of blood coming from his ear. I stare at him in horror. What the hell did I just do to him? "You... BITCH!"
       Those are his last words.
       Farfarello flies across the gap separating them, swinging his arm in a brutal sideways chop. His knife flashes across Chris's throat. There is a horrible spray of blood, then Chris is toppling to the ground, an expression of surprise still stamped on his face.
       I open my mouth to shriek in horror, but it sticks in my throat, choking me.
       Farfarello wipes his blade off absently on his pants and throws me a glance. He sees the look on my face, and his eye narrows in impatient anger.
       Without another word, he sheathes his knife, drags me to my feet by my elbow, and sets off at a brisk walk towards the alley exit. My legs work again, but I stumble along anyway. I keep my eyes closed tightly to keep from seeing that body again, and try not to vomit when my shoes squelch through the puddle of blood.

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