Ch. 2

It has been nearly a week, so far as I can tell. Nearly a week since I learned the name of the Jerk and saw the scarred face of Farfarello.
He must have been released from the hospital, and they have gone about their daily lives, probably never giving me a second thought. Now I have only my brother's angsty visits to look forward to. He is so torn up inside, and while I could weep for him, I also long for something better. I wish he would sit there and try to crack jokes, or laugh about old times. Make smart remarks like that friend of his did that one time he visited-- the man who smelled like cigarettes with the suave voice and nice-smelling cologne.
Even teasing me would be a nice change. Schuldich was a jerk-- an asshole --but even his teasing was refreshing after the meaningless babble of the nurse or the deadened words of my brother. Sometimes I think I would even prefer the silent presence of Farfarello.
Then I remember his face again and I shudder inside to think such a man was so close to my bed.
Which isn't fair, I admit. He has spoken directly to me only once, and that was to tell me the Jerk's real name. He never threatened me or tried to hurt me. He didn't even tease me like Schuldich did. Still, I cannot help but feel fear when I remember the way I saw him. Luckily, I would like to think I am not so narrow-minded as to judge someone solely on their appearances.
But that is all I will ever have to draw on, because I have not seen him or his blue-eyed companion since that day. I doubt I will ever see them again, which is probably just as well.
Still... I get lonely.
"Self pity really doesn't go with what you're wearing."
My heart jumps in surprise at the familiar mocking tone.
He comes into the room, reeking of a recent cigarette, and drops into the chair by the bed. "No, it's me, Santa Claus."
I... What are you doing here? I cannot help but be confused. Did Farfarello get hurt again?
Nothing Nagi can't stitch up, he says off-handedly, then stops so suddenly I know he didn't mean to speak of his teammates. Speaking of the scarred wonder, has he been around to stare at you today by any chance?
No. I haven't seen either of you since-- I mean heard any of you since--
Yeah yeah, I get it. ...Dammit. He sighs in frustration and gets up from his chair. It isn't until then that I really notice the faint stench clinging to him. I guess being in a hospital so long has made me grow accustomed to the coppery smell of it.
You're bleeding, I realize. What happened? Then, half malicious glee, half a strange concern (fuck women's empathy anyway), Did my brother hurt you?
He wishes, Schuldich snorts. Shut up and go back to sleep. And if the Farfinator comes wandering in here, be a good little artichoke and give a shout. Boss wants a word with the albino king.
A shout? I repeat incredulously, mostly in an attempt to mask my sudden fear. Is Farfarello loose, and maybe looking for violence? How do you expect me to--
A finger taps my temple, and internally I flinch, startled. I'll hear you, he assures me, amused. And then he leaves, the smell of tobacco and blood trailing after him.


Farfarello does show up.
I must have been asleep when he entered, because when I awake it takes me several moments to realize there is another presence in the room. At first I assume it is my brother, but there is no pleasant scent of fresh flowers.
Only the stench of blood.
My blood runs cold, and I start to scream out for Schuldich, wondering if he will even hear me--
"Little mouse all locked up, nowhere to go, no way out," he murmurs, almost in a singsong voice.
Fear and confusion lock up my brain.
Mouse? Who? Locked up?
I hear him move-- not quite so stealthy as usual, proving he is hurt --around to the other side of the bed. He leans over me, breath on my face, and all I can see in my mind's eye is that horrifying picture of his face Schuldich showed me.
The beeping of a machine I have grown used to hearing speeds up a little.
"Little mouse, all alone in her white palace, dreaming of red and gold," he breathes. "Locked inside herself, where no one can hear her scream."
That does it. My fear escalates enough to give common sense a kick in the ass, and I scream out in my mind. SCHULDICH!!

The beeping of the heart monitor is faster yet, and I hear a steady tapping.. he is tapping his finger against the machine along with the beat.
"Little frightened mouse," he murmurs. "Are you asking God for help? He doesn't care. He is deaf. He turns His back on you, and you can't see Him. Only darkness."
Not calling God, exactly. More like the Devil's little sidekick. Schuldich! Calling his sidekick because the Devil himself is standing over me right now.
The tapping stops, and calloused fingers land lightly on my cheek. "His little mouse, his princess, locked away in the tower, where no one can hear her cry.."
Abruptly he is gone, no longer hovering over me. The chair scrapes a little and I hear him seat himself in it heavily. After a few long moments of tense silence I detect a faint, erradic dripping. He is bleeding all over the floor.
"Poooor little mousey," he breathes. Then silence. Soon his breathing is more steady and slow; he has fallen asleep. Maybe passed out from blood loss, for all I know. And all I can do is lie here and wait, hoping Schuldich heard me and will come fetch him.
Or even better, maybe my brother will come by for a visit and take care of it himself.
Heavy, familiar footsteps, followed by a panting entrance and that scent of tobacco.
"Jesus, Farf," Schuldich gasps, still catching his breath. "You fucking idiot." He strides over, pauses-- checking me for injuries, or checking if his partner is still alive? --then grunts. The chair scrapes. Farfarello makes a sort of growling noise.
"Oh, shut up," Schuldich snaps. "I've been looking all over for you, you twit."
What happened? I demand, grateful to have someone that can hear me-- and hopefully answer me. He's hurt. He's crazy.
He's always crazy, pet, he assures me, sounding amused. He's a psycho. You're lucky he didn't carve you into little pieces. "Oof. You're heavy. Move your feet, Farf, I'm not carrying your pale ass all the way to the car."
Shouldn't he see a doctor? I ask, more out of surprise than any semblence of concern.
He's had worse. A few knocks across the head from a fatty won't kill him. I'm still standing, aren't I? He stops himself abruptly with a noise of impatience. Just shut up, will you? I'm not supposed to be talking to you.
They shuffle towards the door, but I can't help but beg for one more answer. Why didn't he?
"What? --I mean, shut up! I'm not talking to you."
That's mature. I mean... why didn't he.. hurt me? If he's insane and- and you think he would've carved me up or whatever you said.
"You know, you are really annoying," he informs me grumpily. "Farfie, tell the nice little cockroach that you didn't kill her because she's not worth your time and you're bleeding all over the pl... All over my shoes for the love of God. Damn it, Farf!"
"..Not time, yet," Farfarello mutters, his voice muffled.
"What? What are you babbling about?" Then, with suspicion, "Did Crawford specifically tell you not to hurt her? Why?"
There is no verbal answer, but Schuldich snorts in derision. "Of course. Another one of his little mysteries we're not good enough to know about, right? Never mind. Just stay the hell out of here from now on, got it? Now move it."
A part of me wishes desperately that they would stay. Farfarello seems to be under some kind of command to leave me be, and Schuldich can talk to me, even if everything he has to say is nasty.
But I know these men can't be good news, and I know they can't be trusted. So I keep my thoughts bottled up inside where Schuldich can't hear them and remain silent as my two strange visitors stumble out of the door.
Strange, that even though I am deliberately not trying to talk to the blue-eyed gaijin, I hear his one last parting shot.
Knew the whole stinking family was trouble.


My brother's next visit is silent. Something is obviously troubling him, weighing heavily on his mind. He comes, sets down the bouquet he's bought for me, and sits himself in the chair in brooding silence.
I am happy to have him there, but after the strange conversations with Schuldich-- and kind of with Farfarello --I do wish he would talk to me. Even if he won't hear my response, I miss the sound of his voice.
It seems like forever before I finally get my wish. Unfortunately, nothing he says is very cheery. He starts speaking quietly-- so quietly I can barely hear him. When his voice finally evens out, I do not like what I hear.
"I don't know who to trust anymore. Everywhere I turn, he's there. Even... even in my own team. It's like I'm cursed. I can't kill him and I can't get away from him. He took our parents... he took my sister... now this."
This? This what?
"I can't even stand to look at him sometimes. Now that I know..."
Who? God, I wish I could talk!
"Aya... Aya, I wish you would wake up. I wish I could fix this. I wish none of this had ever happened. I wish I hadn't become this.. monster. When you wake up, will you look at me with fear in your eyes? When you see how bloodsoaked my hands are, will you turn away from me? I don't even know if I deserve to be your brother anymore."
Please don't say that. My eyes sting, but no tears come.
"Fujimiya-san..?" It's the nurse. "I'm sorry to interrupt... but it's time for her meds."
He sighs, getting to his feet. "Go ahead," he says, louder than he was a moment ago. His voice is not as hopeless as it was, either, but cold and unemotional. The voice of a man surrounded by a high wall. "I'm leaving."
His hand touches mine, then he is gone.
The nurse makes a tutting noise of pity as she bustles in. A step in the doorway, and I vaguely recognize the voice of one of the new nurses. "Poor guy. Comes in here a lot, doesn't he?"
I try to tune them out, drifting towards sleep. I don't want to think about the pain and vulnerability I heard in my brother's voice. It only hurts.
"Not as much as he used to," my nurse sighs. I can hear her fiddling with the equipment and the IV. "He seemed really out of it today. He must be upset about something."
"Yeah," the younger nurse says pitiably. "Spent a whole hour in here jus' starin' at her. Saw it from the counter. A whole hour and not a word."
I come fully awake with a jolt.
"He used to talk to her all the time," my nurse murmurs sympathetically. "Tell her how he was going to make everything better, tell her he would be here when she woke up. I hope he's not losing hope."
I barely hear her with the blood rushing through my head. I must be misunderstanding. I must have heard them wrong.
I heard my brother. He spoke to me.
I heard him.
In my confusion and panic I scream out for the only person I can think of that might understand.


He takes his sweet time answering. I have to call and call before I finally get a grumpy response.
Didn't I tell you to stop talking to me?
Schuldich! I cry in relief. Schuldich, please please come to the hospital. Tell me what's going on. What's happening? Did you do this?
Hey, hey, slow down, he interrupts irritably. What the fuck are you babbling about? And why should I come see you, prissy?
I'm too upset to make sense. I heard him. I heard him talk to me. Why are they saying he didn't talk to me? I don't understand, I'm confused, please tell me what's happening. Why are you doing this to me? What did you do to him?
Look, chickie, I don't know what you're going on about, and I really don't care, he proclaims in a bored tone. I told you I'm not your damn friend, and I'm sure as hell not your knight in shining armor. Lie there and take a nap and quit screeching like a banshee.
Sweet dreams, princess, he sings mockingly.
I try for an hour to get him back, but get no response.
There is nothing else I can do, so I fight back my panic, resentment, and confusion, and fall into a restless sleep.

A touch to my forehead brings me around hours later. I can tell it must be night because of how quiet it is and how cool the room has gotten; one of the nurses in training must have forgotten to close the window.
The fingers leave my face, trailing down my throat.
"The mousey's awake again," Farfarello notes calmly.
Oh this is just great.
Schuldich, I call, hoping my thoughts are more confident than shakey, your psycho one-eyed friend is here again. Kindly get your ass over here and GET HIM AWAY FROM ME!
I can hear Farfarello make himself at home in the chair, the hand retreating for now. A slight weight on the bed as he rests.. his elbows, I suppose.
"A mouse with.. 'good reception'," Farfarello quotes. "A mouse who can scream loud enough for a Mastermind to hear from the other side of town. How interesting."
Where the hell is Schuldich?
Does the mouse want to play?
And the rest of what is supposed to be sanity and common sense flies out the window. This is turning out to be a very fucked up day.
"Can't hear you, mouse."
I try again, focusing all my willpower on making the man by my bed hear my thoughts. Farfarello.
"Ahhh," he breathes, leaning closer. "She speaks."
This can't be happening. What's going on? I demand nervously. I thought only Schuldich could hear my thoughts.
"He is the Mastermind," Farfarello agrees calmly. "What are you?"
What is that supposed to mean? You're the one hearing what I'm saying. Thinking.
"You're the one talking," Farfarello corrects. "Loudly."
You're not making any sense.
"The Mastermind and the Mousemind," he purrs, sounding sadistically amused. Then suddenly he doesn't sound as crazy as usual. "Well... This was unexpected."

Author's notes: It's official. This fic is a pain in the ass.
@_@ Writing a story from the POV of a girl who can't see, move, or do anything is a lot harder than I thought it would be. And I'm not crazy about first-person present tense, either.
Hope I don't completely mess this up. @_@; Bear with me.
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