Yohji reluctantly followed Omi towards the nearest coffin, keeping a close eye on the bats that hung above all the while.
"Damn these are heavy," Omi grunted. He was kneeling beside a coffin and trying to lug the lid off.
"Hey what the hell are you doing?!" Yohji cried, aghast. He grabbed one thin shoulder and wrenched the boy away. "Don't touch that termite infested shit!"
"How are we supposed to find out what's in them if we don't open them?"
"There could be vampires in them!"
Omi rolled his eyes. "There's no such thing as vampires."
"Well there's such thing as werewolves!"
"Oh for God's sakes - "
"Let's just go! The bats are a sign, I'm telling you!"
"Remember what the letter said?" Omi reminded him. "The answers are down here. Now stop complaining and help me get this stupid cover off!"
Yohji sighed and cursed the stubborn kid. He should have paired up with Ken. Then they both could have ran the hell home and left the eager beavers, Aya and Omi, to investigate as much as they wanted to. He grabbed one side of the dusty coffin and started to yank at it, more to shut Omi up then any innate curiosity.
After a bit of clever manipulating and/or the use of so-called 'brute strength', Omi and Yohji finally managed to pry off the lid.
Immediately both Weiss members were assaulted with the vilest stench east of the Tokyo Municipal garbage dump.
"G*A*H!!!" Yohji goggled, covering his mouth and hurriedly backing away.
The casket, which was really nothing more than a wooden box, was filled to the brim with blood. Floating in the gooey crimson liquid were bits of skin and human hair, bones and pulpy masses of flesh.
Omi hastily shut the coffin, his face pale. "Oh God," he choked out, stumbling away. He braced himself on a stone tombstone and fought the urge to retch.
"I knew it!" Yohji cried, jerking away from the horrid coffin. "It's a punchbowl for vampires!"
Omi let out a strangled sound that was a cross between a titter and a gag. "Yohji-kun-" he coughed sharply as his stomach twisted tightly, flowing upwards.
Yohji noticed for the first time the predicament his younger teammate was in. "Omi? You okay kid?"
"J-just...fine," he panted, wobbling slightly.
"I don't think - "
Omi threw up.
We flew up the stairs, both of us deep in thought. Could Schwartz really be behind all this? Was it some kind of elaborate set-up to kill us? Was it possible that they'd tipped off Persia? Upon further reflection it did seem plausible.
I could feel my fear ebbing, being replaced with anger. If Schwartz really was involved then I was gonna kick their ass! After all the fear and horror and embarrassment this stupid mission had caused me...they were gonna pay dammit!
"How many friggin' stairs are there anyways?" I huffed, trying to keep up with Aya.
He didn't reply. I guessed he was pissed off. He hated being foiled. It was probably eating him alive that he didn't figure it out before.
Finally we reached the top. Before us stood a stately mahogany door with the phrase 'Abandon all hope ye who enter by me' carved across the surface.
The words sent a shiver racing through my body. "That phrase seems familiar," I muttered, as I caught my breath.
Aya shot me a surprised look. "It's from Dante's Divine Comedy. It was carved on the gates of hell."
I shivered again. "Well since it's literature I guess we can rule out Schwartz," I commented, trying to make a joke. "Those illiterate jerks." Needless to say, Aya was not amused.
Aya stepped forward to open the door. Unconsciously, I grabbed a handful of his trench coat.
One fine red brow arched.
I swallowed, a sense of dread washing over me. "Aya wouldn't it make more sense if we just found Yohji and Omi and left? We pretty much completed the mission by checking this place out. Let's go."
"Ken we must have 'checked out' about a fourth of this house," Aya told me sardonically.
"Have a sense of self-preservation dammit!" I glared at him. "I do not want to die! And I do not want Yohji and Omi to die either! And I really do not want to abandon hope by going in through that dumb door!!!"
To my surprise Aya smiled a tiny smile. "A five minute scan and we'll leave. I promise."
"Fine," he sighed, rolling his eyes.
Meanwhile, as these going-ons were transpiring...
"This is the place," Crawford said blandly as he and Farfarello stopped.
Nagi clung to Schulderich. "I don't wanna go in there!" he cried. "The house is haunted!"
Farfarello was chewing contentedly on a rubber band. "Haunted houses hurt God."
"You heard Mr. Takatori!" Crawford snapped impatiently. "Our mission is to check this house out. Now stop acting like babies and come on!"
"Who's acting like a baby?" Schulderich demanded. "I don't see anything babyish about wanting to live! Who knows what evil lurks in that house!"
"Evil hurts God," Farfarello informed everyone smugly.
Suddenly the front gate to the house swung open as a bolt of thunder shrieked high above them. Nearby a nocturnal animal howled.
Nagi jumped into Schulderich's arms, a la Scooby Dooby Doo, both man and boy screaming for their lives.
Farfarello joined in, not because he was scared but because he wanted to practice singing the Danish Funeral March.
Crawford wasted no time in pulling out his gun. "SHUT UP!"
Nagi and Schulderich shut up. Farfarello kept going.
"I SAID SHUT UP!!!!" Crawford whacked Farfarello's head for extra emphasis.
The Irish man blinked his one eye. "That felt good. Can you do it again?"
"NO!!!" The American turned and blasted a scathing scowl at Nagi and Schulderich. "I'm sick of your pathetic whining! Now get inside the damn gate!!!"
Both Nagi and Schulderich winced. Crawford holding a gun was scary. Sure they both had special powers with which they could best Crawford but they were just too darn scared to use them.
The redhead looked at Nagi. "You first," he graciously invited.
"Oh no, I wouldn't dream of it," Nagi quickly replied. "You first."
"No, no, little ones first."
"Don't be absurd. You first. I insist."
"No you first. I insist!"
"Dammit I said that I insist!"
"Well I said that I insist too!"
Crawford pointed his gun at Schulderich's head. "Don't make me say it."
Schulderich angrily kicked a pebble and slowly entered, scanning the premises for any signs of pure evil. Nagi followed, clinging to his arm.
"Stop licking the gate!" Crawford snapped.
Farfarello looked up from a mouth full of rusty metal. "But it tastes good," he whined.
Crawford grabbed the psycho's arm and hauled him away. Behind them the gate snapped shut with a loud creak.
"We're stuck in here!" Schulderich shrieked, wringing his icy hands together.
"I'm too young to die!" Nagi wailed. "I never even got to-" he stole a quick peek at Farfarello, "-kiss Tot," he finished lamely.
"Oh shut up and keep walking!"
Schulderich and Nagi slowly inched forward, grumbling to each other.
And that's when the unthinkable happened. A slimy, bony hand reached out and grabbed Schulderich!
"Aahhhhhhhh!!!! Help!!! A monster's got me!!!!!"
"Oh God no!!! Save Schu!!!!!!!"
"That's a tree branch moron!" Crawford informed the German annoyed, unhooking the said branch from his jacket.
"Monsters hurt God."
Omi felt like the biggest wimp ever after he'd finished hurling. "I feel like the biggest wimp ever!" he moaned, clutching his recently-emptied tummy.
Yohji soothingly stroked his back. "Aw come on, you know that title belongs to Ken."
"Ken-kun's not usually not a wimp," Omi declared, coughing. "It's just this stupid house."
"Well same goes for you kiddo." He brushed at Omi's bangs. "I've had more than enough of this goddamn house. We're going upstairs and we're gonna find Aya and Ken and then we're gonna get the fuck outta here! And - " he continued, seeing Omi about to protest, "I don't care about what that stupid letter said! We're going!"
Omi sighed knowing that when Yohji put his mind to something, it was impossible to sway him. "But can we at least check a couple more of these coffins?"
Yohji stared at him incredulously. "You just finished barfing your little guts out and you still want more?"
"I didn't barf my guts out," he muttered, flushing. "Anyways, look at how many coffins there are. They can't all be filled with blood."
"That's because they're filled with vampires!"
"We'll just check one," Omi wheedled. "I mean this is our mission. We can't just do a half-assed job!"
"Yes, we can," Yohji grumbled.
Omi grabbed his arm and dragged him to one of the caskets in the back. "We'll open this one!" he announced, pointing to a large, ornate casket.
Yohji sighed loudly as they began to lug and tug at the stupid thing. A few minutes passed and to no avail.
"Maybe this is one of those kinds that only opens on one edge," Omi speculated. "We could be trying from the wrong side."
Yohji shrugged, walking around to the other side. "Yeah maybe. It's worth a-" He abruptly stopped and stared.
"Yohji-kun? What is it?"
Wordlessly, Yohji pointed to the brass plate that was nailed to the side of the casket.
'In memory of Kudou Yohji'
Omi felt a pile of bile churn and rise upwards, especially when he turned away and was greeted with another coffin and another plaque, this one bearing Ken's name. It wasn't too hard to find Aya's and his own coffins.
Yohji didn't think. He snatched Omi and ran like hell.
Because the door was locked, Aya had to kick it open.
"It's not too late to leave," I reminded Aya shakily.
Aya glared at me. "Why the hell are you still so scared? This is obviously the work of Schwartz not some evil incarnate!"
"I have a bad feeling about this okay? And besides, we don't know for certain that Schwartz did this. It could be - "
"Be what?" Aya demanded. "Vampires? Ghosts? Witches? Things that go bump in the night?" He scowled and shoved the door open.
I glowered at the back of Aya's head. He just didn't know anything! Obviously, this was the domain of an evil overlord and his wicked henchmen. And now we were going to walk right into his trap and then we'd die! Because, let's face it, can a claw and a sword really defeat one who controls all the evil powers in the universe? I think not!
But just in case...I released my claw and tried to get my hands to stop shaking.
The attic was black as soot and I couldn't see a blasted thing. Aya had to relight the candle since the flame had burned out on our run up the stairs.
I was really getting a bad feeling about this. It took every ounce of sheer willpower I possessed to keep from fleeing.
Aya held up the candle as we slinked onward. I glanced behind me and around me, making sure that no creatures of the night were creeping up on me. None were but I was still scared and trying to act tough.
From what we could see of the attic, Lord knows just how big it really was, it was entirely cluttered with odds and ends of every sort, making it difficult to walk. It was such a typical horror movie attic, filled with antique furniture, old paintings, suits of armor, stacks of books, chests of clothing, and enough dust to blanket a small nation. Not to mention the charming smell. It smelled so bad. Like mold and things rotting and who knew what else.
I cringed, especially when I heard faint rustling noises coming from the distance.
"What's that noise?" I whispered, leeching onto his arm.
"Mice," he whispered back.
I was hopeful. If mice lived up here then maybe that meant an evil overlord didn't. Unless they were sinister monster mice. Or maybe they were kept here because the vampires of the house used them as quick snacks. Or maybe the witches needed them for their brews. Or maybe-
A rat chose that moment to scamper over my foot. I let out a tonsil-cracking howl and jumped into Aya's arms. Okay, so I didn't know that it was a rat until I saw its pink tail disappear under a rocking chair but at that point it didn't matter because I was too busy screaming.
Aya stumbled backwards since it wasn't like I'd given him any warning that I was dropping in for a visit. We both crashed into a smelly pile of clothing, falling into a big heap of arms and legs and cloth and dust. Lots and lots of dust. Aya dropped the candle in the scuffle and it fell onto a sheet-covered sofa, flames beginning to sprout along the white cloth.
I shoved at a shirt that had ensnared me away and sneezed.
Aya sneezed as he tried to detangle himself from me.
I sneezed again and then blushed when I realized that I was sitting on his lap.
Aya sneezed and then hastily removed his hand, which was gripping my thigh.
All in all there was a lot of sneezing and accidental touching occurring.
Cursing luridly, Aya stood and then tripped over his sword which had gotten tangled in a nearby lampshade.
I was still sneezing as I tried to extract myself from what appeared to be a hoopskirt. I swore too.
Aya seized my flailing arm and hauled me to my feet. I stumbled over rotting cloth and fell directly into his arms. Our faces were inches apart and I could see straight into violet, watery eyes.
I felt my cheeks heat in a blush and to my surprise, Aya was also blushing. He whispered my name in a voice like velvet and a gloved hand came up to...
I wrenched away and sneezed loudly.
Aya's face matched his hair. "Er...bless you."
That's when I noticed that the fire had grown considerably. "GAAAHHHH! THE FIRE!!!" I had a horrible image of the all powerful, evil overlord stomping in and yelling at us for destroying his house. I quickly grabbed a blanket and started whacking at the flames, coughing as the sooty stench washed over me.
"Fucking damn fire," I swore, beating the flames mercilessly.
From behind me I heard Aya hiss and it occurred to that he helping me try and stop the fire. Dread drenched me like cold rain.
"Aya?" I whispered, turning around to look back at him.
His wan face was impassive but his eyes were filled with horror. "Don't look Ken," he whispered.
I knew it would be horrible but I couldn't stop myself, my body moving of its own accord. Woodenly, I stepped away from the sofa and looked.
In all the excitement over the mice and falling down and the sneezing and the looking at each other and then trying to put out the fire, we hadn't noticed the ghoulish sight that lay only a short distance away.
A pile of dead bodies. That's what it all came down to. A pile of about twenty dead bodies in various stages of decay. Black bugs and rats flitted throughout the mess, feasting and scurrying. Limp hands and empty eye sockets. Falling hair and torn clothing. Clotting blood everywhere And surrounding the heap were pots of different flowers. Flowers that were wrapped in our paper, potted in our pots, bearing our store's logo. Flowers that I myself that arranged. I could see a few of Omi's specialties and some of Aya's arrangements, the small cards marked with Yohji's elegant handwriting.
Aya yanked me backwards. "We're going now."
I was still in shock, barely registering what he was saying. "The fire," I reminded him lamely.
His voice was like an ice shard. "Fuck it."
Yohji and Omi flew back up the crumbling steps, towards the main floor. "We don't even know where they are," Omi huffed.
"They're probably in the attic," Yohji replied. "We'll find them."
"But this house is so big. The attic must be huge!"
"Well I'd rather look for them then look at this friggin' house!" Yohji retorted.
Omi silently agreed.
"That gargoyle just looked at me!" Nagi whimpered, burying his face into Farfarello's blue, sleeveless jacket.
"Do we have to go inside?" Schulderich whined. "I can feel the pure evil radiating from here!"
"We're going inside and that's final," Crawford stated tightly, reaching out to seize the doorknob.
His assistance wasn't required because the door opened BY ITSELF!!!!
"Bradley for the love of god DO SOMETHING!" Schulderich shrieked hysterically, hurling himself onto the American.
"Get the hell off me!!!"
"For the love of God?" Farfarello echoed, his expression dark. "You told me that you hated God! You damn liar!"
"It's an expression," Nagi whispered into the Irish man's neck. Wide onyx eyes peered up into one amber one. "I'm really scared Farf. That door opened ALL BY ITSELF!!!!"
"I'll destroy this house and then God will really hurt! He'll cry for the next fifty-seven eons!"
Crawford gave up all hope of trying to get Schulderich off him for the redhead was stuck on him like Takatori on crime. He managed to enter the house, feeling dizzy since his blood flow was starting to stop.
"Brad is blue!" Farfarello crowed, chortling squeakily. "That'll hurt God like anything!"
"Er...AHAHAHA," Schulderich laughed embarrassedly. He quickly let go of the American.
Suddenly the heavy door behind them banged shut.
Nagi and Schulderich let out twin cries of terror.
"We're wasting time!" Crawford snarled, finally able to breathe. "Now come on!"
The four of them headed into the first living room to investigate. They missed Omi and Yohji who burst out of the dining room, ran down the hall and raced up the stairs towards the second floor.
I could barely keep up with Aya since we were practically flying down the stairs. I never thought that he'd be the one leading me away from this monstrosity of a house.
"How are we going to find Yohji and Omi?" I panted.
"They'll be in the basement so we'll look there," Aya answered curtly.
"But this house is so big!" I whined, suddenly worried that we wouldn't be able to find Yohji and Omi. "And what if something happened to them? Or what if-"
"We'll find them."
"I hope they're okay," Omi gasped, his legs feeling weak. There were so many damn stairs and long hallways in this stupid house!
"They're fine," Yohji replied firmly, trying to convince not only Omi but himself as well.
They flew past the various bedrooms and all the horrors that they contained.
Nagi and Schulderich stared at the voodoo doll that was impaled upon the fire poker. And then, together in once voice...
"I said don't touch that Farfarello!" Crawford grate out, annoyed. "Hey stop trying to eat that!"
Finally we made it down the stairs and Aya hauled me down the hallway. "Not so fast!" I gasped, a stitch folding in my side. "I can barely breathe!"
"Don't forget that the attic is on fire."
"What are you waiting for?" I cried, huffing furiously. "Let's go!"
"We're never going to find them!" Omi yelled, as they raced past the library.
"We're never going to find them!" I yelled, as we raced past the art studio.
We found them. And a lot of stars too.
"Ken-kun! Aya-kun!" Omi exclaimed happily. "I knew we'd find you!"
"This place is pure evil!" I shrieked leaping to my feet. "We've gotta get outta here PRONTO!"
"We told you all along that is house is haunted!" Yohji cried. "But you didn't believe us!"
"I believe you now," Aya said quietly, brushing off his trench coat.
Omi nodded emphatically. "Me too! This place really is evil!"
We began to walk hurriedly down the hall.
"There's a graveyard in the basement!" Yohji announced, shuddering.
"And a pile of dead bodies in the attic!"
"We think Schwartz is behind is," Aya informed them.
Omi blinked. "Schwartz?"
"Well I don't care who the fuck is behind this," Yohji muttered. "I just wanna get the hell outta here!"
I nodded in agreement. "Me too!"
"We'll fight Schwartz later," Aya stated as we began to head down the stairs. "Right now we go home."
Yohji and I could barely contain our excitement.
Mission accomplished...sort of.
Farfarello stared fascinated at the brain that lay upon the chopping board in the kitchen. It looked like pink cotton candy jello and he wanted some!
"Now do you believe me when I say this place is evil?" Schulderich demanded. "There's a fucking brain on the table!"
"And bones and blood and thorns!" Nagi chimed in. "I wanna go home! This sucks!"
"Me too!" Schulderich cried. "I promise I'll never ever read your mind again, come on Brad whadda ya say?"
Crawford's eyes were closed. "Shuddup. I'm having a vision..."
Nagi held on tightly to Farfarello's hand. He didn't like the way the Irish man was hungrily eyeing the pulpy brain on the table.
Crawford's eyes popped open, his glasses shining manically. "Schreient!"
Nagi and Schulderich exchanged looks while Farfarello gnawed on his finger. "Schreient?" they chorused.
"Those miserable hussies! I should have known they were behind this stupid house!"
"Behind the house?" Nagi parroted. "You mean they're in the backyard?"
"No you idiot, they're behind this ridiculous scheme!"
"Ridiculous schemes can hurt God."
"What scheme?" Schulderich demanded.
"This haunted house!" Crawford huffed, annoyed. "They're the ones who put all this junk here and tried to trick us!"
Schulderich frowned and let his mind scan the immediate premises. "Those bitches are right behind that wall!"
And so they were.
Crawford whipped out his gun and fired rapidly at the kitchen wall. He was beyond pissed off. How dare someone as worthy as himself get sent on a bogus mission orchestrated by four damn tarts!
Schulderich shrieked mental obscenities into the minds of Schreient, cursing them and their ancestors and their future children and their pets and their make-up...etc.
Nagi was glad that Schreient was here. Now he could finally get back his autographed copy of 'Gummy Bears: Friend or Foe, the Tale of the Missing Gummy Berry Juice' from Tot. How lonely his nights had been without his favorite bedtime storybook.
Farfarello didn't really understand what was going on. And frankly he didn't care, as long as they did something that would hurt God.
The wall swung open like a cheap rip-off of Batman, revealing a brightly-lit room filled with computers and TV screens and a huge table that was crammed full with scientific apparatuses like beakers and test tubes and Bunsen burners and bubbling, steamy liquids of various colors. And standing there in a row was Schreient!
"You slutty hoes!" Schulderich yelled, pissed off. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
Hell sniffed delicately and buffed her shapely nails on her lab coat. "This was revenge against Weiss for killing our Masafumi-sama. It's not our fault that you guys decided to come and meddle around."
"Dumb fucks," Neu sneered.
Schwartz was struck dumb.
"This was all for...Weiss?" Crawford asked slowly. Strangely enough he felt disappointed. It was all so anticlimactic!
"They killed Papa," Tot wailed, clutching her stuffed bunny tightly to her chest.
Shoen scowled, touching her cheek. "That stupid bastard will pay for frigging up my beautiful face!"
Farfarello watched the blond model with sudden interest. Her face really was beautiful. All smooth and soft-looking. He wanted to shove his knife in there!
"Let's go," Crawford snapped. "This has been a colossal waste of time!"
"Your existence is a colossal waste of time," Hell retorted, smirking.
They both glared at each other.
Schulderich narrowed his eyes and avidly studied the two leaders. With their short, dark hair and glasses and their matching glares they both looked surprisingly like...brother and sister!
Farfarello pulled out a knife and aimed at Shoen's face.
And at that moment, ALL THE LIGHTS WENT OUT!!!!!!
"AAAHHHHHH!!!!!" Nagi screamed and hurled himself onto Farfarello, who accidentally sliced his arm. But the Irish man didn't mind since he liked slicing himself open.
Tot clung to Neu and began to cry.
"Oh would you sluts FUCK OFF!!!" Schulderich howled. He'd always been...touchy when it came to the dark.
"Hell! What are you doing?" Shoen yelled, upset. "I'm trying to brush my hair. Tot's bunny gave it static cling!"
The surprise in Hell's voice wasn't feigned. "But I didn't do that!" she cried.
"You lying bitch! I'm going to shoot you!" Crawford barked, not taking into account that it was pitch black.
"But I'm not lying!" Hell insisted, starting to get scared.
"You just try it bifocals!" Neu snarled, pissed off because Tot was crying. "And I'll shove that gun straight up your ass!"
Schulderich suddenly developed a nosebleed.
Their bickering was interrupted by an evil maniacal laughter that leapt off the walls and echoed all throughout the old house.
"MU~FAFAFAFAFAFAFAFAFAFAFAFAAAAAAAAAA!!!! YOU ALL WILL DIE!"
"Dying hurts God."