SNAFU: The World According to Schuldig

Part Ten
"Do I look American, you uneducated near-sighted dickweed?"

    We take the Tsukuba Express from Akihabara out to Tsukuba. It's a forty-five minute train ride, which means I get to ignore Crawford for almost an hour. More like half an hour, really, because it takes him fifteen minutes to decide that yes, I am going to ignore him no matter what he says to me. I keep Farfarello in between me and him and Farfarello, in turn, uses Nagi as a mini-barricade. The thing keeps jingling at me as Crawford and Farfarello talk, and I glower out the window at the blurry scenery. They've switched to talking in English, the bastards.

    I kind of wish Tot had come along, just so I'd have someone to talk to, but she abandoned us as soon as Crawford told us we had just half an hour to make our ride. Useless little… I glance over towards the two. Crawford is petting Nagi absently as he talks, and I scowl and reach past Farfarello. It's easy to snatch the plush from Crawford's hands; he relaxes his fingers and lets me take it. I settle back in my seat with Nagi in my lap and squish him in a vicious embrace just to hear him jingle. I pretend it's a scream of pain.

    A group of schoolgirls still in uniform are sitting across the train from us, curled up together on the opposite bench. They whisper and giggle a little at the sight of Nagi in my arms, sending significant looks back and forth. It doesn't take me long to catch on to what they're trying to do but I wait until one finally is bullied enough into leaning forward and smiling at me. She looks nervous. She should. I'm a bodyguard and a telepath. I've got a gun in the bag by my feet. Take that.

    She says something to me I don't understand, but I know the sounds enough. "I don't speak English," I tell her in Japanese. "I'm German."

    She recoils a bit, startled and embarrassed, and I loosen my grip on Nagi. I pinch his stubby little arms between my fingers and turn him so he's looking over at the girls, wagging him a little. "This is Nagi."

    "Your Japanese is very good," the girl tells me, recovering a little.

    "Very good, very good," the girls around her echo.

    "I don't speak Japanese," I answer. "Just the basics. Hi, how are you, how much." The last is said with a little smirk and the girls titter a bit, whispering back and forth.

    She says something, but I only follow half of it. It sounds a bit like she's asking me if I'm a tourist, and I decide to take a gamble and answer. "No," I tell her. "I live here. I work here, in Tokyo." This draws several admiring exclamations from them and they all lean forward, nearly tripping over each other with questions. The only one I understand is "What do you do?"

    "I sell drugs," I answer in German.

    Farfarello hits me for it. I scowl at him and look back at the girls. "I don't know how to say it in Japanese," I tell them, and they look a little mournful. The announcer calls out the next stop and they exchange looks before standing. I hold Nagi up in an offering and they pet him on their way out, each calling a chipper "Bai bai!" to me.

    I wait until the doors have closed before looking over at Farfarello. "What was that for?" I demand. "It's not like anyone in this country knows how to speak German, the uneducated bastards."

    "You don't even know English," Farfarello says. "You don't have much ground to stand on."

    I scowl at him. "You're from Ireland, so what do you care?"

    "English is my native tongue," he answers a little coolly.

    "I thought you spoke potato?"

    "Potato potato," Crawford chips in.

    "Tell the freak that he's not part of this conversation," I tell Farfarello, "and that if he interrupts us one more time, I'm going to throw Nagi off at the next stop."

    "You won't," Crawford assures me. "I've already seen it."

    "Did you hear something, Farf?"

    "Farf?" Farfarello echoes.

    "Must've been the salaryman over there farting. It'd explain the stench, anyway."

    Crawford looks over at the salaryman in question. "But he didn't…" he starts to say.

    "Tell him, Farfarello," I cut in.

    "I'm not your phone line," he answers. "Tell him yourself."

    "I'm not talking to him."

    "Passing messages through someone else to him is the same as talking to him."

    "No, because you'd be talking to him, and you can filter out his insanity and bullshit on the way."

    "How old are you, again?" Farfarello asks me.

    "Twenty-two," Crawford answers.

    I blink at Farfarello, my mouth open on an "It doesn't matter". The words die somewhere along the way and I lean into the aisle to look around Farfarello at Crawford. "What did you just say?" I demand, but Crawford is considering the salaryman again. "Hey, I'm talking to you."

    "No you're not," Crawford reminds me. "It's disheartening. At least you and Farfarello have made progress. I think we're doing well as a team."

    Farfarello sends him something in heated English and Crawford waves it off as unimportant. The Irishman gets up and moves over to the other bench, leaving me and Crawford alone, and I'm about to get up and join him when Crawford catches my wrist. I jerk away and get to my feet as the announcer overhead calls out the next stop.

    "We're here," Crawford tells us, and I hesitate on my way over to Farfarello's side. Crawford takes Nagi back and I grab my bag and follow him off the train. Farfarello is right on my heels as we make our way out into the city, and we walk a short distance down to the bus station. Ours isn't here yet but it's not long in coming, and it's easy for the three of us to ignore each other for a couple minutes.

    The bus is crowded and somehow I get stuck sitting next to Crawford. Whatever Farfarello's beef with him is, it's enough that he snags the only single seat in the bus and forces me to move further back with our insane leader-type person. I write Farfarello off as a selfish bastard with no redeeming qualities and settle down in the seat beside Crawford.

    "If you bump into me at all on the ride over there…" I warn him.

    "Last night scared you," Crawford decides.

    I scowl at him. "What happened sickens me," I snap back. "First you made me take drugs and then you raped me!"

    Crawford looks like I just slapped him. "Rape?" he echoes blankly.

    "I can't believe it happened," I snarl, yanking Nagi from his unresisting fingers. "I can't believe Farfarello let it happen. What the fuck is this supposed to be in your twisted mind? You drag me out of a jail cell and to Japan and give me all of this junk and you think that that's how I'm supposed to repay you? That wasn't part of the deal, you treacherous asshole!"

    "You're being a little loud," Crawford comments mildly.

    "I don't give a flying fuck! They can't understand German!"

    "They understand yelling," Crawford points out sensibly. "They'll kick us off the bus."

    I look around at the stony faces around us, reading the accusations and hostility in the stares, and then turn back on Crawford. "If you ever touch me again, I'll kill you," I warn him. "And then I'll kill your parents."

    "You can't kill them," Crawford says. "They're already dead." That's enough to trip me up for a moment, and Crawford takes advantage of the pause to explain. "They died yesterday. The men we've been working for ran a search for them as a favor to me and found them this morning. This city is where they died."

    "You look really upset about it, too," I say, because I'm not really sure how to respond to that.

    "You weren't upset about your mother, were you?"

    I go for his throat, but Crawford catches my hand and flattens it against his thigh. "What did you just say?" I ask coldly.

    "You talk a lot when you're high," Crawford tells me, tightening his fingers over mine in an attempt to calm me down. "That's all. You started talking when the drugs kicked in. That's how I know about her and your age."

    I just stare at him, struggling with that idea. "What else?" I demand.

    "I don't remember," he answers.

    I think about that for a minute before jerking my hand away from his. "I said not to touch me, you ugly rapist."

    "I'm not a rapist," Crawford points out patiently. "I kissed you, yes, and I started it." He shrugs.

    There's a 'but' there. I just look at him, waiting for him to say it. He just stares back, watching me. But. But. I started it, but.

    The bus comes to a stop and lets off a third of the crowd. I almost trip in the aisle in my hurry to get away from Crawford and I take a seat at the front of the bus. Nagi jingles as I squish him up against my chest and I will him to shut up, fixing my eyes on the floor as the bus starts moving again. It jars a little as it starts again and Nagi jingles in time. I squish him tighter against me and bury my face in colored cotton, and I don't look up again until Crawford's voice tells me it's time to get off.

    It's a six minute walk to a house that looks almost as nice as our boarding house, except for the fact that yellow tape is wrapped around the fence to keep people out. I don't have to speak Japanese to know it's from the police. I look over at Crawford, but he's already ducking down to step through it.

    I look at Farfarello, who just shrugs and follows, and I clutch tighter to Nagi and trail behind them. I guess once you've sold and used drugs, trespassing doesn't matter much. I follow them up the path to the front door and Crawford finds a key in a potted plant on the porch. I want to ask him how he knew to look there, but I'm not feeling up to talking to him, not after that 'but'.

    The lock clicks as it pops out of place and I follow them inside, closing the door before Crawford gets the lights. The entire place reeks of death and for a moment I'm back in the house at Germany, staring down at my mother's body. I gag on the smell and bury my face against Nagi.

    "Death," Farfarello observes. I wonder what exactly they teach this guy at his school.

    "The bodies were removed last night," Crawford answers, starting down the hall. Farfarello catches at his arm and Crawford offers him a shrug. "Fujioka passed me the morgue report."

    That's enough to calm the so-called Berserker down and we follow Crawford into the kitchen. Outlines on the floor mark where the bodies used to be. The blood is still there, too- a lot of it. Crawford makes his way carefully around the kitchen, considering the chalk outlines, and then turns on the table.

    "If they're dead, Japan's a waste," Farfarello tells him. "You said you wanted to come here to find your parents."

    "I found them," Crawford points out. "It's not a waste."

    He finds a newspaper on the table and picks it up to consider the front article. "Oh, good," he says. "This is perfect."

    I open my mouth to remind him that people died in this room, but I'm not talking to him. I mutter against Nagi instead and he jingles back. I look past him at the blood, wondering at the way it's spread so thickly around their heads. Gunshots to the head, then? I look over at Farfarello, who's busy studying the blood. There's a distant look on his face and I wonder if he's going to be sick, but then he just moves closer to the outlines and leans over to peer at the puddles.

    "This isn't right," he says.

    "Mmm," Crawford agrees, too busy reading. "Okay, let's go."

    Farfarello looks over at him. "Let's go?"

    "We found what we needed," Crawford assures him, starting for the door. He has to pass the fruit bowl on the way and he pauses there to rummage through it. He finds a plum that doesn't seem to be too bad off and chews on it as he considers the article. It doesn't take him long to realize we're both staring at him and he just blinks. "It's my parents' house," he says. "They won't mind."

    I decide not to point out that they might mind him showing up just for a newspaper and a plum, but I bite my lip against the words. Crawford shifts his grip on things to offer us the fruit bowl, but I'm boycotting fruit so I stalk past him towards the door.

    Our luck runs out on the porch, because that's when we bump into two policemen who are coming up the sidewalk to take another look at the crime scene. All five of us go still, staring at each other. Crawford is the first to move as he takes the last bite of his plum.

    "Schuldig, remember the police chase you wanted?" he asks.

    That's all he has to say. His easy German words are enough to snap the policemen out of their shock and they've got their riot sticks out and ready. We're not sticking around to see how much those hurt but start moving. One officer is already saying something into his walkie-talkie. Farfarello has caught up to them before I'm even down all the way from the porch and two violent blows send them crashing to the ground.

    We skid to a stop on the sidewalk to see that there are two cars- and the occupants of the second are waiting for us. One is finishing the call for help his partner lost and the other is starting towards us with menacing steps.

    "See you at the station," Crawford offers us helpfully.

    We scatter in three different directions, ignoring the yelling of the police officer. I don't look back to see which one of us he's chasing. I just hold tight to Nagi and take off down the road. Nagi jingles in time, an agitated song to go with the slapping of my shoes against the asphalt. I hear sirens and wonder if Japan oozes police through its pores. Then again, if people were murdered last night, I guess the police would still be in the area. Fantastic.

    My fantastic comes a heartbeat too soon, because when I turn the corner, I almost get myself run over by said police car. I see their eyes fly open wide as I slam into the passenger door and Nagi gets flattened between me and the glass. I've got the wind knocked out of me but this isn't a place to stop, so I shove away from the car. I stumble the first few steps as I try to get my breath back and I hear rubber screech as the car turns around.

    Two old ladies practically fall out of the way as I pound down the road and I struggle with my bag, pulling it around front to try and shove Nagi in there. I don't have it open enough for his fat body and he goes bouncing against the pavement of the sidewalk. I turn around so fast I feel a wrench in my ankle and sputter curses as I fall. I have to catch myself with my hands and my injured one screams up at me just as my knee decides to start acting up again. The car is screeching to a halt just a few feet away and everything in my brain is yelling at me to just run.

    So I run- I sprint forward the few feet to where Nagi's laying in the gutter. I scratch a layer of skin off my fingers as I grab him up and wind whistles near my ear where a riot stick just barely avoids cracking open my skull. I ram the policeman with my shoulder, using my momentum to send him sprawling, and take off running again. I pass the same two old ladies on my way back down the street and decide to try another road.

    Straight paths don't seem to be doing it for me, so I start staircasing the streets, cutting up to the first street on every one I take. It's an ugly diagonal away from where we were but I lose the sirens after the sixth street. I keep running until I realize I've left the suburbs and made it into the actual city again, and then running is a bit too conspicuous. I plant myself in a small alleyway between a 7-11 and bookstore and gasp for breath.

    I give myself a couple minutes to calm down before looking down at Nagi. He stares back. "I get all of your cuts," I tell him. "Did you see that shit? I'm your hero."

    I shake him so he jingles in agreement and slide out of the alleyway into the 7-11. Nikuman is in a stand on the counter and I buy four, two for now and two that I stuff in my pockets for later. Nagi is tucked under an arm so I can have a ball in each hand and I've almost made it to the door before I realize I have no clue where I'm going. I turn back to the cashier.

    "How do I get to the nearest train station?" I ask him, and he looks startled that I'm speaking Japanese. He answers me in what sounds like uncertain English and I frown at him. "I don't speak English. I'm German." I decide to ask Tot how to say 'Do I look American, you uneducated near-sighted dickweed?'. It has a ring to it. "How do I get to the station?"

    He comes to the door and points, saying a couple things and gesturing with his hand. I listen carefully to his explanation, trying to pick out the directional words Tot taught me. I think I've got it, so I nod at him and start off down the sidewalk. I don't know if I'm supposed to wait for the others at the Tsukuba Express station or what, but I'd rather not get stuck in the city when the police are looking for us.

    It takes me two other people before I find the station and I decide I need to study my directions more. Knowing "right", "left", and "straight" aren't enough to get me where I need to be. I do find it eventually, though, and I head down to the platform.

    "Was it fun?" Crawford asks me.

    I just blink at him and then look over my shoulder at the stairs, as if somehow they'll tell me how he and I managed to make it to the same train station. Crawford takes Nagi out of my arms and I look back at him. I don't want to talk to him but it looks like I don't have a lot of choice.

    "Where's Farfarello?" I ask.

    "He's more likely to find a bus than a train station," Crawford answers. "We'll find him back at the bus station." He turns Nagi this way and that, checking for injuries.

    "I went back for him," I tell him, irritated.

    "I know," he answers, and he smiles. "Did you have fun?"

    My mouth is open to tell him off for thinking such a thing could be fun, but the words die somewhere in my throat. I think about it for a minute and then shift my grip on my bag. "Yeah," I answer. "Yeah."

    "Good," he says happily, and we stand in silence until our train comes.

Part 11
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