Ch. 5

    He is rocking back and forth again.
    He has been doing this for quite some time now. Days? Hours? Time is, as always, impossible to count here.
    But everytime I peep out at him, he is in the same spot, knees pulled close to his chest, arms wrapped tightly around his legs. And he rocks. Back and forth, back and forth. Slowly, as if he doesn't even notice what he's doing. Sometimes his expression is closed off, as if he has no emotion left in him. Other times his savage golden eye darts around quickly, wildly, like a trapped animal's. The tension from the other side of the wall rises in waves, then dissipates, only to rise again. It sets me on edge, so that soon I become as uptight as he is. I pace behind my walls, so busy trying to think of a way out that I often neglect to imagine my comfort items. Sometimes I even reach up and realize I have forgotten my earrings, only to bring them back to me again with a hasty thought.
    I worry that he is bound for another enraged explosion, and check more and more often to make sure my walls are secure.
    And sometimes he talks to himself.
    Not loudly enough for me to hear what he's saying. But the droning of his murmuring rises and falls as periodically as his mood. I feel that if I have to put up with this much longer, I will go insane.
    The thought almost makes me laugh. His insanity could bring about my own.
    If I ever get out of this, I'm going to strangle that bastard Schuldich with my IV cord.

    I doze and don't mean to.
    It isn't "sleep", really, since technically I've been asleep since Schuldich pumped that crap into my veins.
    But I fade a bit; weary of being on-edge all the time, I stop paying attention to my surroundings and allow myself to fall a bit into the flashes of my own mind.
    Memories? Random thoughts?
    Dreams, mostly.
    Dreams of what life will be like when I wake up. Of holding my brother in my arms, of watching the ice melt from his face. That cold expression I glimpsed in Farfarello's mind washes away, replaced with the loving face of the brother I remember.
    A vague image of what the smoking man might look like-- the one who has visited with Ran before, smelling of roses and cigarette smoke. The one with the suave voice and the faint scent of cologne. I imagine how he might look. He sounded young... around my brother's age, maybe.
    A young, handsome young man, early twenties, with coal-black hair and soulful ebony eyes. The kind of man that every woman looks at when he enters a room, the kind that just exudes self-confidence and charm.
    I feel embarrassed even through my dreamy state, then dismiss the emotion impatiently. What else am I supposed to do with my time? Better to dream of mystery men with kind words and handsome faces come to sweep you off your feet than let the dementia from the creature outside your door invade your home.
    So I dream of a love I never had, and probably never will. I never dated before, but into this man, this cigarette mystery man, I pour all my dreams of what a boyfriend should be like.
    I struggle to remember a name. Did Ran say his name? I don't remember him doing so. Though the man seemed to know mine. I distinctly remember him saying "Aya", because it startled me so.
    Will I see him? When I wake up, will I meet him? Will Ran introduce us? Will he look anything like I've imagined him?
    Don't be silly, I tell myself sharply, and the embarrassment rushes back. Partly because I realize how very much like a sappy school girl I sound.
    And partly because it occurs to me that this is not something I want Farfarello accidentally eavesdropping in on.
    I reach out hesitantly, dragging myself partially out of my dreams to send a questing probe outside the wall. I sense his own dark curiosity too late. He, too, is wondering at my silence, his mind prowling just outside my wall. The tendril of my thoughts that I sent out seeking him slips into the murky pool of insanity lurking just outside.
    I jerk back on reflex, but either he is pulling me in or I have gone too deep. I grasp frantically for that lost piece of myself, even as I find it hard to focus on my surroundings, buffeted on that side by the poison and razor edges of his mind.
    It is like having something gnaw at your foot. It isn't your whole body, but it is next to impossible to focus on anything but that horrible pain. It pulls at me, sucking me in further, making everything around me swim and waver as the crushing pain of his mind becomes more pronounced.
    With a stifled shriek of horror, I lose all but a slender grasp on my own thoughts, and go tumbling amidst his own.


    It takes me quite awhile before I slowly begin to recognize my own mind.
    It is like awakening after a horrible nightmare, or drifting out of unconsciousness. Everything is sore, which I take it means somehow Farfarello found a way to hurt me in the only way that matters in here-- he hurt my mind. That certainly brings me to full alertness more quickly.
    My wall is so weak, it's practically transparent, with jagged cracks spreading across its surface. Through it I can see Farfarello's barrier of thorns, but even that looks limp and thin. I can see him clearly through his dying wall, curled up in a little ball, face hidden in his arms.
    What... happened...?
    I feel disconnected and fuzzy, and the throbbing-- headache? --isn't making it any easier to concentrate. But I force myself to do so, slowly building my wall back up to its original strength, brick by imaginary brick. I can try to figure out what the hell just happened after there's something solid between the two of us.
    My activity catches his attention, and he stirs, lifting his head slightly to stare, uncomprehending. Whatever happened to shake me this badly seems to have had some affect on him, as we--
    Farfarello is on his feet and lunging for my weakened wall almost too fast for me to react, a knife clutched in each hand. A small shriek of surprised fear escapes me, and I--
    lash out--
    Something rolls off of me, picking up strength when it hits my wall. It barrels into him like a gust of insanely strong wind and sends him crashing behind his wall of thorns once more.
    I force myself to keep the surprise from my voice. "Stay away from me!" I shout furiously. "You CREEP!"
    He gets to his feet slowly, eye burning with rage and hate. "Me?" he repeats in a quiet, dangerous tone. "ME, stay away?" his tone isn't much more than an animalistic snarl of accusation.
    That's right... I was... pulled in. Or did I just brush his mind, or...? I put my hands to my forehead in a habitual pose of concentration, despite the fact that it does absolutely nothing to ease the headache, seeing how this "body" is nothing more than a figment of my imagination.
    I remember hitting his barriers, and feeling like I was shattered into a thousand pieces against the sharp edges of his mind, swallowed by the darkness of it. I remember a flurrying host of-- words, thoughts, images, faces, fears, emotions--
    Memories. I have no idea how long I was in there; it could have been hours or seconds. But as I tentatively clear my own mind and study it, I find memories there that aren't mine. It's as if I'm slowly remembering a movie, going through scenes and conversations in my head. The only difference is, it takes a bit of struggling and careful thought to separate these memories and thoughts from my own. With the memories, it's easier; they are new and unfamiliar, or simply impossible. But the emotions are harder. It's almost impossible to tell if the anger and desperation I'm feeling is really mine, or something lingering of his. And the memories I have now....
    A convulsive shudder runs through me as I stare through my window at the hunched figure. His wall isn't getting any stronger; for some reason it seems the clash of our minds didn't have a good effect on him. It's as if I've somehow broken his barriers, or at least the outermost ones. And yet I still had the strength to rebuild my own wall. The only ill effect that the trip seems to have had on me is this blasted headache...
    And these memories and visions that make me wish I had a real stomach to throw up with.
    It's as if instead of spending a few days wandering the amusement park from hell on foot, I took the world's fastest and most dangerous roller coaster through it, leaving me nauseous and disoriented.
    As I stare from behind my wall at this twisted excuse of a man, something clicks-- a memory of his is triggered. And suddenly I understand why lately he has just huddled behind his thorns, rocking back and forth like a child afraid of the dark.
    That place, it tore away whatever scraps of sanity he had left. Confinement, imprisonment is something he hates almost more than anything in this world. It reminds him too much of back then. Reminds him of a coat that hugged tighter than a mother's embrace, trapping hsi arms, reminds him of four padded walls and a door that never opened except to let the men in white coats in; the ones who brought food, but also brought their instruments, their needles, and their knives. Pressing again and again against skin grown pale from lack of sunlight for so many years, slashing until blood bubbled up, clinical eyes watching his face for a reaction, any reaction.
    A man that feels no pain.
    What a mystery it must have been to those men, who tried things that make me sick to my stomach to think of in an attempt to get even a flicker of discomfort to cross that uncaring face.
    Years. He spent years in a padded cell, arms captured in a straight jacket after only a year there because he had gotten his hands on one of those men, had torn him apart with his bare hands...
    Years of this torture. Knives digging into flesh, cold curious faces surrounding him, walls with no windows, food without taste, and no way out, not ever, because he was a monster and they kept their mosters caged.
    Until he came.
    Cocky, confident, grinning like a demon, his hair the brightest thing Farfarello could remember seeing in years.
    The Jerk.
    Schuldich had freed this caged animal and taken him to meet his new... "team"?
    I slide down the wall and squat on the ground, eyes wide and unseeing as I let these stolen memories flicker through my mind, and I learn of the men of Schwarz.
    And Weiß.


    "Who is Weiß?" The name doesn't sound as fluent when I say it as it did in Farfarello's memories. The closest I can get is "Byce".
    But he knows what I'm talking about; I can tell by the way his single eye flickers my way. He is stretched on his stomach behind his weakened wall, chin propped on the arm folded under it while he stabs listlessly at the "ground" with the knife in his other hand. My question is partly honest curiosity, and partly an excuse to get him to stop doing that. It causes a faint, irritating twinge of almost-pain whenever he jabs his knife downwards.
    "My brother-- the man you call Abysinnian --why is he a part of that group?" I demand, propping my elbows on my window and staring back at him boldly.
    He sneers at me as if he can sense my denial. "What? Do you think your precious 'big brother' is too innocent to be a bloodthirsty killer?"
    "Shut up," I snap. "He isn't. He fights against you people. As far as I'm concerned, that makes him one of the good guys."
    "Weiß is a band of assassins," he drawls, eye back on his knife as he turns it lazily in his fingers over and over. "Schwarz's main role since our arrival in Japan has been personal bodyguards. Which sounds worse to you?"
    I can tell he's mocking me, and it only makes me angrier. That, and the fact that this is the most he's spoken to me in a somewhat-sane matter urge me to keep prodding. "Who are those other men? Bombay, Siberian, Balinese... I've never seen them before."
    He ignores me, poking at his arm with the blade.
    "You said 'since your arrival in Japan', but that isn't what you're really for," I point out, using the memories I leeched from him to their full advantage. His knowledge on Weiß is spotty, from either disinterest or lack of interaction, but surprisingly, so is his actual understanding of Schwarz. He was the last one to join, though, I relent. And after his release from that place-- that 'Rosenkreuz' --his attention was focused more on taking out his inner rage on the targets that got in his way or were pointed out to him. "That 'Rosenkreuz' place, they--"
    I can sense his abrupt mood shift immediately, and prudently make my window a bit smaller. His eye is blazing as he glares across at me. So that place and its memories are tabboo, then. Wanting to avoid another confrontation and keep him talking, I quickly change the subject.
    "Schuldich didn't give you very much information on Schwarz," I point out. "I can see why you would agree to be put in that American's-- Crawford's? --group if it meant getting, um, out. But I still don't understand why you stayed." I don't understand, I reflect, because neither does he. The answer wasn't there in his mind, unless it was buried deeper than my encounter with his mind allowed me to reach. Or did he just never stop to think about it? "Did they provide enough 'amusement'," I say the word harshly, "to keep your interest?"
    Farfarello's dark mood ebbs, and his smirk is toothy and creepy. "Perhaps."
    I gaze at him thoughtfully, picking at the information on his teammates I've acquired. It's difficult to get a firm understanding of them because he doesn't waste much emotion on people other than rage or scorn, or sometimes a dark amusement. What he really thinks of them is still somewhat of a mystery. Again, perhaps because any personal opinions he might harbor might have been out of my reach. Or he's just too fucking insane and inhuman to even have opinions about people.
    ...Did I just say 'fucking'?
    I frown uncomfortably. Cussing was never my strong point. Even when I was awake, I was relatively mild-mannered. A few harsh words would pop out when I would argue with my brother or rant furiously about something, but...
    I shake it off. That isn't the point right now. It's just the strain getting to me.
    Schuldich, the "Jerk", is the most prominent in Farfarello's mind, as far as I can tell. But then, he made quite the first impression. He stepped into Farfarello's dim, dark life, full of bright clashing colors and snarky words, and took him away from a living hell. It seems his fear of Schwarz's "Berserker" is minimal, as well, or at least is kept carefully hidden. Sometimes he gets disgusted with Farfarello, but other times he just laughs like a monster at the terrible things Farfarello does to other people. There isn't much to go off of, but I'm willing to bet that of the four men of Schwarz, Schuldich is the one Farfarello is most comfortable around, and the one he would perhaps not kill as quickly. Not a 'friend'-- that word doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary --but a partner he can tolerate.
    The other two, however...
    Naoe Nagi, that must be the boy who came to the hospital with Schuldich and Farfarello before. Thoughts of his death are frequent in Farfarello's mind; he is an untouchable prey, but he looks so much the part of the victim, that Farfarello's gaze rarely falls on him without bloodlust behind it. It is the kill he cannot have, and it only makes him want it more. But...
    The power to move things with one's mind? That's impossible. It must be some of his insanity leaking through.
    But other than the constant musings on Nagi's imminent demise, there isn't much thought given to him. It is the leader of this twisted group that seems to frustrate him the most.
    He follows this American, this Crawford, for his own reasons. He will follow the older man's orders as long as it means he gets to be free and get away with murder. But Farfarello is not a man used to being anyone's subordinate, and underneath his uncaring facade, he is constantly pulling at his chain. Waiting for a weakness in the aloof and cold "Oracle" to present itself. It's not that he has any personal hatred for the man. But Farfarello refuses to be at anyone's beck and call. His days under the Oracle's thumb are numbered. As soon as he grows bored with the deal, or decides he is sick of taking orders from such a man, Farfarello will turn on him without hesitation.
    I study the madman warily as he digs at his imagined flesh with the blade. The thought that he faces off against my brother in battle makes my blood run cold. For the first time, I am almost relieved to have him here, trapped with me. It keeps him from killing more people, especially Ran.
    Rifling almost idly through some of the memories of him I now have, a puzzle is suddenly solved.
    That time he was in the throes of a nightmare that leaked out enough to present his childhood personality, his speech was strange to me. The words were thick, and it always took me a few moments to realize what he was saying. I'd thought such a sensation was familiar, and now I understand why.
    He's an Irishman. The words he spoke to me when in that form were in a mix of English and Gaelic, and the feeling I had was of translation. Like when my English teacher would rattle something off and I would slowly have to translate it to Japanese in my head before understanding it.
    How had I understood him at all? Was this another side effect of having our minds so closely linked? Was it because he also knows Japanese that I was able to leech the meaning behind the words from him unconsciously?
    My headache is getting worse, so I reluctantly turn away from these memories and turn away from the window with a sigh. I was lucky to escape his mind relatively unscathed. He seems weakened for now, but there is no telling how long it will be before he regains his strength. Best to get some rest while I can. I close my eyes and let my mind drift lazily where it will, and I dream.


    By the time I rouse myself, it is obvious some of Farfarello's strength has returned. His wall of thorns is a little more robust, even if it is not as prickly and thick as it was before. He is crouched in the center of this cage, rocking back and forth in quick, short movements, golden eye staring blankly at nothing.
    Unwanted, an image of a terrified and furious teenage boy being dragged into a padded cell flares up in my mind's eye.
    Muttering irritably about the uselessness of women's empathy, I prop my elbows on the sill of the "window" in my wall once more, leaning my cheek in one hand as I gaze across at him. I can't think of anything to say, and am not sure I should even bother. After a moment's floundering, I fall back on the only other form of comfort I can think of. Even though a monster like him doesn't deserve it.
    I begin to sing a song my mother used to sing me to sleep with, keeping my voice soft and calm. I'm no pop star, but my friends used to tell me my voice was nice nonetheless, and Ran always seemed to appreciate it when I would sing while doing my chores. I fix my eyes on a spot in the thorns, avoiding looking directly at the man inside, and swallow back threatening tears as my mother's face comes vividly to mind.
    "Sleep, baby, sleep,
    Oh, my baby, sleep,
    How lovely, how lovely,
    How nice you are.

    Where's the nurse, where's the girl?
    Where's your nurse girl?
    She's gone, she's gone,
    Far across the hill."

    I glance up when I am finished. Farfarello is sitting still, rocking no more, his single eye staring at his feet. After a moment his gaze shifts, locking with mine. After a long moment of this silent staredown, he finally turns his back on me.
    But it is the last time I see him rocking back and forth like a lost child.


    Even with a madman as your neighbor, company is still company. A person can only handle solitude and stony silence for so long.
    It has been some time since that incident where our minds collided, giving me a glimpse into the way his dark mind works. I rarely let myself dwell on these shared memories of his, because I'm afraid I will begin to understand him on some level, and I do not want to give too much thought to the inner workings of a Berserker.
    But I have been lonely for years, lying in that bed with no one to talk to. Even if he never answers me, the fact that he hears me is somehow enough.
    More and more often I find myself leaning in the windowsill, rambling on for ages about whatever comes to mind. I talk of my family, of the petty arguments I would have with my brother. I talk about my school, my friends, my dreams, my opinions. I ramble on about my favorite dress, about my thirteenth birthday when Ishido-kun snuck a quick, nervous kiss-- my first --behind the bushes at my house, and how much it surprised and embarrassed me. I tell my silent companion how worried I am about my brother, and what I think about that no- good Jerk, Schuldich.
    This, at last, gets some sort of reaction. My rant on Schuldich earns a small sardonic smirk that he hides quickly by looking away, but it is proof that he has been listening to at least some of what I say. Whether it's because he, too, is bored, or if he simply finds it hard to block out most of my prattling is unknown. But even such a small reaction is encouragement.
    The mention of Schuldich turns the one-sided conversation into a curious contemplation of this strange power discovered within me. Me, a telepath. Will I still have this 'gift' when-- if --I wake up? It will have its advantages, to be sure, but at the same time, do I really want to know what people think of me?
    Once I run out of topics to talk about, I start with questions. There aren't many of those to ask, either, however, thanks to the memories I accidentally drew from him before. Still, hearing one's own voice for so long gets tiresome after awhile, and I crave a response, any response, even from so deranged a neighbor. And there are parts of him that were buried too deep that I didn't get a glimpse of.
    "What do you remember before Sister Ruth? Didn't you have a family?"
    "Did you have any siblings?"
    "What was Ireland like?"
    "Just how many languages can you speak, anyway?"
    "What happened to your eye?"
    "How old are you?"
    My questions get bolder and bolder as his adament silence draws out. He reacts to nothing, playing idly with his knives, gazing off into space, or sometimes staring at me unnervingly. Sometimes this causes me to give up, but othertimes I continue impudently, still striving for the sound of another voice.
    I have no idea how long this lasts. I rattle off questions until I give up in disgust, then rest for awhile, then start up again. It doesn't take long for his shield to build itself back up, which seems to make it easier for him to ignore me. My frustration makes me braver, and my questions soon veer into forbidden territory.
    "Why is Crawford called an 'Oracle'?"
    "Nagi can't really use telekinesis, can he?"
    "Do you really not feel any pain?"
    "What is Rosenkreuz?"
    "Where is it?"
    "How long were you there?"
    "How many people have you killed?"
    "Have you ever regretted it?"
    "Shut up." I straighten quickly at the clipped words, heart giving a little jump of surprise. A verbal response at last.
    He is glaring at me through the thorns, arms crossed tightly over his chest, fingers drumming with impatience on his bicep. "Shut up," he repeats. "Just shut up already."
    "Why? It's not like I have anyone else to talk to," I retort. "If you'd just answer some of the questions, I'd back off a little."
    "You're annoying," he states flatly.
    I stick my tongue out at him insolently. "So are you, you little punk. You're a horrible neighbor. I bet if I'd pulled Schuldich in, he'd at least talk to me."
    "Aa," he agrees in a monotone. "He would spend hours describing your own stupidity to you." He sneers. "Schuldich is too strong for you. He would never have allowed you to drag him in."
    "Says who?" I demand.
    "He was one of Rosenkreuz's top students," Farfarello starts, then snaps his mouth shut and scowls.
    I perk up, leaning a bit out of my window. "Wait, what does that mean? Students? I thought Rosenkreuz was some kind of institution. I didn't know he was there, too. Is that how he knew where to find you?"
    "You talk too much," he snaps. "And if you don't stop asking questions that are none of your business, I'm going to--"
    "Going to what?" I huff. The part of me that probably houses my survival instincts flinches. This is still a madman, a murderer, it reminds me. Just because he hasn't been able to kill you yet doesn't mean you should be flippant. Don't get him angry.
    But I'm a bit angry, too. And my survival has made me a bit cocky. Perhaps in some small part I don't even care anymore if he does kill me. "You think I care?" I demand. "There's not even any guarantee I'll ever wake up. I'd rather be dead than trapped inside my own mind forever."
    His mouth tightens, and he studies me in silence for a long moment. Did that strike a nerve? Did he at least understand that much? He has barely been able to stand this place for however long we've been here. I've had to deal with it for years.
    He seems to realize his threats on my life are no longer so effective, so he changes tactics. "Schuldich will get me out of here eventually," he promises with a dark little smile. "And I'll make it a personal task to find your brother and kill him myself."
    "Don't you dare!" I shout, even as I realize he is deliberately baiting me. "You stay the hell away from him, you one-eyed freak! If you even TOUCH him, I'll fucking get you, do you hear me?"
    He arches a brow, cruel smirk still in place. "Such language," he drawls.
    If this is the real Farfarello-- morbidly sarcastic and horrid --then I am beginning to wish I'd never gotten him to speak up at all.
    And again with the violence and the curses. What the heck is wrong with me?
    This place must be getting to me.
    This place, my common sense hisses warningly, is your mind.
    I shrug the thought off uncomfortably, not wanting to dwell on the implications behind it.
    "You, kill me," Farfarello muses, looking dryly amused. "Feh."
    "I could," I swear, too furious to think straight, fists clenched on the windowsill. "If you hurt my brother, I'll hate you like I've never hated anything in my life. People can do amazing horrible things when they're so full of hate." It takes me a second to realize what I've just said, and when it does, it draws me up short. I stare across at Farfarello blankly for a long moment, then quickly jerk my thoughts in a different direction.
    I am not going to let myself think that--
    That I might... understand him... on some base, animalistic level.
    Hatred. His mind is so full of it it's stifling.
    A man driven by fear and hate for most of his life...
    Is that what made him into the Berserker he is today?
    He has turned his back on me, and doesn't notice my silence or the expression on my face. "Stop talking," he snaps over his shoulder. "I'm tired of your grating voice."
    I struggle for a comeback, still reeling a bit from my unwanted insight into the way this lunatic's mind works. "Fine. I'm tired of talking to you, anyway. It's like talking to a rock. But... I mean it," I say a bit quieter, fingernails digging into my palms. "If you try and hurt my brother..."
    "I'm ignoring you," he points out calmly.
    "I'll kill you," I finish anyway, so quietly I'm not even sure if he hears.
    But he glances at me for a brief moment over his shoulder.
    And his eye is not so much scornful as it is calculating.
    I wipe my window away with a furious sweep of my hand and lose myself in dreams, the only escape I have left.

Author's Notes: Here's a link concerning the lullaby Aya sings:
OMFG This chapter took so long to come out @__@ Sorryyyy~! I'd written a bit of it quite awhile ago, but then it sat untouched on my computer for the longest time. Hopefully there won't be such a long wait til the next chapter ^^; Since things will get interesting in a new way soon.. >XD

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