You come out at night, that's when the energy comes
And the dark side's light and the vampires roam,
You strut your rasta wear and your suicide poem
And a cross from a faith that died before Jesus came

You're building a mystery

You live in a church
Where you sleep with vodoo dolls
And you won't give up the search
For the ghosts in the halls

You wear sandals in the snow
And a smile that won't wash away,
Can you look out the window
Without your shadow getting in the way

Oh you're so beautiful with an edge and a charm
But so careful when I'm in your arms

'Cause you're working on building a mystery,
Holding on and holding it in,
Yeah you're working on building a mystery
And choosing so carefully

You woke up screaming aloud a prayer from your secret God,
You feed off our fears and hold back your tears
Give us a tantrum and a know it all grin,
Just when we need one when the evening's thin

Oh you're so beautiful,
A beautiful fucked up man,
You're setting up your razor wire shrine.

'Cause you're working on building a mystery,
Holding on and holding it in,
Yeah you're working on building a mystery
And choosing so carefully

~ "Building A Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan ~


Ch. 1

My brother is talking about vengeance again.
It is one of those times when I'm awake-- I'm tired all the time, it seems. I lie here and listen to him talk, and mourn at the sound of his voice. His voice used to be such a soft, gentle sound. He would speak to me with affection, or heatedly argue with me; I used to love the sound of his quiet laugh.
But now his voice is hollow and dead. On these days when I'm awake, I hear him enter my room and sit beside the bed. I can smell the delicate scent of the flowers he always brings for me. The only emotions in his voice are pain and bitterness. He tells me how things will be normal again when I'm better, and how he hopes I can forgive him for what he's become in his quest for vengeance.
That plea for forgiveness frightened me, at first, because I realized that only darkness and murder could explain some of his comments, and the dead sound of his voice. I struggled for a time to respond: to open my eyes, to seize his hand and tell him to stop killing himself for me. But all I can do is listen. My body refuses to respond to what my mind tells it to do, and to keep myself from going completely mad, I welcome the dark sleep that pulls me down so often. This sleep and my brother's visits are the only things that keep me sane.
Not the only things.
I have another frequent visitor. It is hard to keep track of time because of my wavering consciousness, but I think this new man has been coming to see me for about a week, now. He just wandered in one day and began chatting away as if he talks to strangers in hospitals all the time. Apparently his co-worker was in some sort of accident, and he has taken it upon himself to visit on a daily basis. He seems to derive some strange amusement from annoying his bedridden partner, who I think he said once was actually in a hospital not far from this one. He is amusing, and dark, and very dangerous. His voice, and some of the things he so casually says, make my instincts cry out and my skin crawl. But I cannot move, and he has never touched me. There is nothing I can do but listen to him talk. He has said more than once that the security in this hospital is a joke. I guess he is not supposed to be here. I am not so frightened of him anymore; I actually welcome another visitor, even one as strange as he is. And I think that perhaps this person needs desperately to talk to someone, even someone who is not supposed to be able to hear them. I suppose we comfort each other, in some obscure way, and I have come to look forward to his visits.


I am awake, but I would rather be asleep.
I reach inside myself for that familiar, comforting darkness, but the sound of a step in the doorway causes me to hesitate. Is it my 'niisan? Or perhaps the strange man?
There is a dry chuckle. "Just as I left you." It is him, my creepy visitor. I listen as he drags the chair alongside my bed and flops into it. I find myself wondering whimsically what he looks like. His nasal voice is strangely accented, and I do not think Japanese is his first language. I wonder if he is scarred, or ugly, or perhaps just as tortured as my brother; the shadow of self-deprecation to his voice makes me think so.
I sense his movement close by, and then his warm breath falls on my face. He lowers his voice into a cruelly amused whisper that makes my blood go cold. "Your idiot brother almost got himself killed today."
Masaka- He knows my brother??
For the first time in a long time since I have been trapped at this hospital, I struggle with all my might to speak, to pry my lips apart and scream. My body may as well be made of stone for all the response it makes, and my head begins to pound with the effort. How can this man know my brother??
He leans back again, and I can hear the smirk in his voice. "He's too soft-hearted. Turning his back on a target to check on a bystander. Tsk tsk."
Scream. SCREAM. My throat is frozen.
"Lucky that Kudou was there to bail him out, or he'd be dogmeat." He gives a horrible laugh. "I watched it all from the roof.. It was funny, you should have been there."
How dare he!! My head feels like it's going to explode with pressure as I fight an unseen battle to move or to speak. I suddenly want to seize this man by the throat. He knows my brother- he is most likely an enemy. And he just sat there today and watched someone almost kill Ran.
A silent scream of helpless rage rips inside my mind. Bastard!!
There is a sudden scramble, and the chair crashes to the floor noisily. I can hear him taking in quick gasps of air, and stumbling back away from my bed.
Confusion flutters, momentarily clouding my rage. What is going on? Has my brother come in and found this madman at my bedside?
"Masaka," he whispers harshly, his tone shocked. He makes a small noise of pain, then hurries out. A moment later the familiar voice of my nurse sounds in the doorway.
"What's going on in here??"
She moves around, picking up the chair and pushing it against the wall, muttering to herself all the while, but I barely notice.
My heart is pounding with adrenaline, and I wish desperately that I could open my eyes and see what startled my foreign visitor so much. Especially since the nurse doesn't seem to be frightened of anything.
What is going on?


He does not come again for what seems like a long time. My brother's visits are not as frequent, and I wonder if it has something to do with what that man with the cruel words said.
But today, finally, someone has come.
I do not let myself get my hopes up... It might be a new nurse, or even the gaijin Jerk. Probably not my brother...
The footsteps are very quiet; if I had not been blind, giving way for my other senses to highten themselves, I probably would not have even heard the near-silent entrance. It is like listening to a cat cross a carpeted room. I should be nervous, I reflect, but instead I am only curious.
Rough fingers touch my forehead in a feather-light caress, and if my body had been responsive, I would jump in surprise.
I can tell my new visitor is leaning over me now by the warm breath on my face, tickling my eyelashes. Minutes tick by, with nothing but that soft breath on my face and the feel of calloused fingers on my temple. Whoever it is, they do not move or speak, and my curiosity grows.
A step in the doorway, then-- and the voice of the Jerk.
"You're not supposed to be moving around, you know," he drawls. This, then, must be the person he has been coming to visit.
The hand slips from my forehead, and the breath disappears as my strange visitor straightens. Still, they do not speak.
The Jerk comes into the room, his voice approaching. He sounds distracted, as if he is talking to this person, but... thinking something else. Or, I think with sudden suspicion, studying me. "Pretty chica, huh? She isn't as innocent as she looks, though."
There's no response; perhaps his friend makes a curious face.
A finger pokes me in my stomach, and I wish I could recoil, because it must be the Jerk. "She's lucid," he murmurs, sounding amused.
"...Of course." A male voice. Accented and unfamiliar.
The Jerk's clothes rustle as he turns, his voice hiding the undertone of surprised accusation. "You knew?"
More silence. Not very talkative, this friend of the Jerk.
The Jerk sighs loudly, and they both lapse into silence for a few minutes. "I heard her," he says at last, very quietly. "The other day."
"Is she awake now?"
Something tickles my hair. Or.. my scalp. No. It's... like something brushing... inside my head.
"Yep." The bed creaks as he leans on it. Locks of hair brush my face-- how strange, he must have very long hair --a moment before his breath does. "Morning, sunshine," he whispers tauntingly.
Only, I do not hear his voice with my ears. I hear it in my head.
I must be going crazy, I decide firmly.
You're not going crazy, the amused internal voice assures me. Not quite.
I do the only thing I can think of. I focus all of my concentration on speaking. My mouth refuses to move, but the question floats in my head: Who are you?
He chuckles, and I feel him pick up one of my braids and play with it. Maybe I'm a homicidal maniac, he teases. Come to kill you. A pause. Wait, that's your line, Farf.
Who are you? I repeat stubbornly, thinking the question as clearly as I can while my heart hammers in my chest with excitement and fear. How can you hear what I'm thinking? How do you know my brother?
I'm a very bad man, ojousan, he informs me solemnly. The darkness behind my eyelids shimmers, and in my imagination I can see the blurry face of a man I have never seen before. As I concentrate on it, the image solidifies somewhat, becoming the face of a gaijin with mocking blue eyes and sunfire hair. Long hair.
The face of the Jerk.
"She's got good reception," the Jerk notes. "Guess lying here all this time gives you nothing better to do than play with your imagination. By the way, small-fry, my name is not 'Jerk'." The image fades from my mind.
What is it, then? I demand defensively. You already seem to know me.
He chuckles, and the weight leaves the bed. "Farf, shouldn't you be in bed? You're going to pull your stitches."
"..It doesn't hurt."
An aggravated sigh. "Just because it doesn't hurt doesn't mean it's better, you nitwit. Now c'mon. You'll be out of here in a couple days."
Feet shuffle towards the door, and I cry out in desperation.
You stay away from my brother!!
He merely laughs. "Ja~ ojousan!"
And they are both gone.


It is 'Farf' that comes to visit me again, the very next day-- the mystery man who was with the Jerk.
I know it is him because of the near-silent way he walks, quieter than a normal man should be. Like a stalking cat, or a hunter.
Like an assassin or something.
But that's silly.
He does not sit down in the chair, and he does not speak. For all I know he simply stands over the bed and stares at me. At first I am nervous and curious, and try to speak to him the same way I did with the Jerk. I get no response, however, so I fall silent. For what feels like hours nothing happens, and for once, I don't mind. He does not touch me, tease me, or try to hurt me. He is possibly an enemy of my brother, since he hangs around with that pale-eyed gaijin. Still, the Jerk has been more unpleasant than this unseen visitor. The Jerk always spoke as if he were amused at other peoples' pain. Perhaps this friend of his is not so perverted.
The nurse's voice down the hall seems to stir him at last, and I can sense more than hear him move towards the door, silent as a wraith.
Wait, I try to call. My traitorous body refuses to obey my commands; my lips remain frozen shut. However the Jerk heard my thoughts, it is not a talent shared by his friend. Don't go..
Because I am sick of just lying here by myself, drifting in and out of consciousness. I am sick of longing for sleep because I am so bored, so confused, so desperately lonely. Any visitor is better than no visitor.
But he does not hear my silent cry, and a few moments later the nurse enters.
I ignore her cheerful one-sided banter and slip into sleep.


I heard someone talking to 'Farf' just the other day. It wasn't the Jerk, it was someone new, someone soft-spoken.
Strange that that is what I am thinking of now, rather than my brother's visit this morning.
Because now I know this mystery man's name.
What a bizarre name. I imagine it will be very difficult to pronounce when ..if I wake up. Still, it is nice to know his name. Now I wish I could just see his face, like I did the Jerk's.
Because the Jerk hasn't been back to see me, but Farfarello has. The Jerk told him a couple more days before he could leave. It has been three days, and everyday he has come. He does not speak to me; he merely stands there, sometimes for quite some time, before the nurse approaches and he disappears as silently as he appeared. It is strange, and perhaps a little unnerving... But at least someone visits. Someone who knows I'm actually here. I just wish he would talk to me, because I long for a person's voice. The visits of my nurse and my brother are not enough.
This time the Jerk is back.
Farfarello has been standing here for perhaps half an hour, and I can hear footsteps in the doorway. The familiar, faint scent of tobacco gives me a clue as to his identity, and I give an internal sigh.
Your clothes smell like cigarettes, I inform him rudely.
He snorts, coming closer. "Nice to see you, too," he says mockingly. Then he is speaking to Farfarello. "Didn't Nagi just talk to you the other day about wandering over here and creeping out the nurses, you little moron? Quit visiting the vegetable and get back to your room. How the hell do you keep breaking out of there anyway?"
"Don't 'hn' me, you--"
I want to see him, I interject as firmly as I can.
The Jerk hesitates, evidently caught off guard, before laughing unpleasantly. "You want me to show you Farf's face? Is that what you're asking?"
Believe me, cupcake, he drawls, this is not a face you want to see in your dreams.
I don't care if he's not Prince Charming like you think you are, I shoot back, made bold by my restlessness and frustration. Look, he's the only regular visitor I get anymore, and I just want to see who he is. I'm.. I'm sick of seeing nothing but dreams. I want to see something real. I stop, feeling a little foolish.
The Jerk falls silent then, for several long moments. Still no input from Farfarello.
Fine, he says at last, his voice perhaps too careless. You asked for it, Sleeping Beauty.
Again there is that shimmering of light and color behind my eyelids, like when I saw that glimpse of the Jerk.
Slowly the image takes shape, and the clearer it gets, the higher my fear mounts.
Pale face. White, spikey hair. Full lips, a few earrings... scars. Several scars on nose, mouth, chin...
And only one fierce amber eye, partnered to a large black eyepatch.
It looks like the face of a madman, a mass murderer. A nightmare. If I could open my mouth, I would scream.
The soundless fear echoes around in my head, banishing the image, and I know the Jerk must have heard it, but he says nothing to me.
"Time to go, Farf," he says quietly. His voice is stern but light; he is not surprised by my reaction.
Because that must be the reaction Farfarello always gets.
They do not stop; I can hear them moving away. "Have a nice nap, ojousan," the Jerk calls tauntingly. "A nice, long na-"
I'm sorry, I interrupt hastily. Please tell him I'm sorry.
Another pause, then, I don't think he gives a shit, chibi. He's used to it, and he didn't hear you.
I don't have to be a mindreader to sense the question hovering just behind those easy words: 'Anyway, what do you care?'
He comes to visit me, I explain hastily, wishing I could force my eyes open and see them, see their expressions as they look back at me. And I.. I get so tired of just lying here. With no one to talk to. Or even someone to just be here.
"Look, kiddy," the Jerk snaps, "We are not your friends. We are not here to bring you little flowers and hope you get better soon. Got it? And Farfie here is not visiting because he wants to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. He has his own reasons for things he does, and they're never pretty. Now shut up, get some sleep, and enjoy your liquid lunch. And what is with you referring to me as 'the Jerk', twinkletoes? You think that's cute?"
Then what is your name? I demand.
"I'm not telling you my name, Princess," he scoffs, "because 1) it's none of your damn business, and 2) I don't plan on coming around again. Jesus, you're almost as annoying as your brother."
The initial outrage that last statement starts to rise disappears in surprise when Farfarello speaks at last.
"Schuldich," he says shortly.
A long silence, with a final grunt from Farfarello. Perhaps the Jerk is speaking to him with his mind, as he's been doing with me.
No. Not the Jerk. Schuldich.
"Idiot," Schuldich mutters to his companion. Then they leave, and I am left confused and worn out from the short exchange.
I sleep, and I have nightmares of scars, eyepatches, and a vicious amber eye.

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