Disclaimer- Still the same old same old.

Wilhelm's Manuscript

Chapter Six: The Woman Named Wilhelm

By A Girl Named Goo

"You look surprised," Wilhelm observed, leaning against the piano and chewing on her cigar as she surveyed everyone present with her jewel-like violet eyes.

Ban couldn't tell what it was, but something about her just unnerved him. She was very tall. Too tall, in fact. If she wasn't as tall as Akabane, she couldn't have been more than a hair shorter. It gave Ban the unpleasant feeling that he was a disobedient child answering to his mother, although nothing about her seemed maternal in the least. Physically, she probably wasn't very strong, and if she had any unusual abilities or fighting styles he couldn't tell what they could be. But he'd met her kind before, very intelligent, but also cruel and cunning and sadistic. Like Akabane, she made him feel the chilling sensation that she didn't have a soul.

Wilhelm put out the cigar on the piano, and the twin standing near it ran to clean up the mess obediently. Automatically. She approached the others again, pausing in front of Akabane, Shido, Emishi, and Himiko. "We meet so soon," she said simply. She laughed again, and Ban noticed Ginji wince at the sound. "It was only a matter of time."

"You know her?" Kadsuki asked, voicing the question on everyone in Ban's group's mind.

Himiko looked at the floor before spitting out bitterly "she's our client."

That news was like a slap in the face to the others. Ginji looked at Wilhelm, then back at Himiko. "But...Hamrich-san was our client."

Ban put a hand on Ginji's shoulder, gritting his teeth. "I'm going to kill Hevn..." It was then that he realized she wasn't with Himiko's group. "Where did she go?"

Wilhelm cleared her throat loudly, causing everyone to turn to face her. Apparently, she didn't like not being the center of attention. "As terribly amusing as this moment of realization is, we still have to address the matter of you breaking into my home." She approached her desk, brushing against a crow as she did, which released an indignant "caw". She waved her hand in it's general direction, but narrowly missed it, muttering "Seien Sie still" as she sat down.

"You know what we're here for, Wilhelm," Ban snapped at her. He didn't like this woman, and he liked being "left dangling" any more. He had no doubt she was doing it on purpose. In fact, their very presence didn't seem to faze her. There is nothing worse than an intelligent enemy than an intelligent enemy that you couldn't get the jump on.

"I was thinking that introductions were in order," Wilhelm held him evenly, opening a drawer on her desk and removing something. She carefully slid the drawer closed again and walked back around to the front of the desk. "You did not even know I was Wilhelm Grimm, and I only know the half of you working for me, although I certainly had an idea you would end up here. Foolish Jakob, trapping my retrieval specialists like that. It was never my intention for you to actually get the manuscript for me. You were merely a diversion."

Himiko gasped, but no one else reacted to her words. Wilhelm had turned her back on them and was tearing apart whatever was in her hand. "I see you've already met Jonah. Be careful with him. He is priceless, one of the last breeding males of his species. People have been trying to get him for years. Encouraging me to donate him, trying to buy him from me, and even trying to steal him. He was a gift to my second husband, an orthinology professor back in Germany." She walked over to the perch that was the farthest to the left of her desk. She gave the crow perched on it a piece of what was in her hand. "This is Noah," she said, walking over to the next perch and feeding the next crow. "Jeremiah." She repeated the process with each crow as she fed them. "Mark. Matthew. Luke. Peter. Paul. Abraham. Isaac. Jude. James..." She lingered for a moment in front of the last perch, before feeding the rest of what was in her hand to the last crow. "And Benjamin, my clear favorite."

She turned to face the others again, absently wiping her hand on her pants as she did so. They were all watching her intently. Everyone, that is, except for Shido, whose gaze was fixed pointedly on Benjamin, who seemed to stare back as he chewed on whatever Wilhelm had fed him. Wilhelm sat back at her desk, gesturing with her hand toward the twin standing near the piano. "You have met Kokuhaku." She gestured to the other twin this time. "And, of course, his brother, Kokubyaku. Marvelous specimens, aren't they? And you couldn't ask for more obedient servants." She opened another desk drawer, this time pulling out a cigar and a large (and rather ugly) silver lighter. On it was one sapphire and one amethyst, large and gaudy. It made Ban suddenly very proud of his own lighter. Wilhelm bit the end off the cigar and spit it back out, staring at the others as she lit it. "Now that my end of the introductions are over, I want to know who you are. Who all of you are."

No one spoke, for any number of reasons: they didn't want to just give in to Wilhelm's requests so easily, they were waiting to see if someone else would answer her, or they were simply too distracted to even register her question. Wilhelm examined her cigar thoughtfully, waiting for one of them to speak, and finally gave up. She stood and leaned forward on her desk, her pale hands making an echoing smack as they came in contact with the dark wood.

"You don't want to do it? Then fine. I will. I think I have a fairly good idea who you are from the tapes my dearest friend Amaya Hajime sent to me," she told them. Her voice sounded calm, but she didn't even try to conceal the dangerous edge in it. She walked back around her desk, to the line of retrievers. She started with Akabane, and Ban was tempted to ask him to take off his hat so he could see if his estimation of their height was correct. "You are Akabane Kuroudo," she said, smiling. "I have always liked you. I'd get to know you better, but common sense says it's not very smart to get involved with anyone more dangerous than you are. My husbands all lacked that common sense." She laughed again, and this time Kadsuki was the one who winced.

Wilhelm walked over to Emishi and abruptly stopped laughing, glaring at him with narrowed eyes. "You, on the other hand, I don't like a single bit, Emishi Haruki. You are probably the only one I don't find amusing in the least."

"You just don't have a sense of humor," Emishi accused, although he was already pouting from her words.

Wilhelm shook her head. "I appreciate a man with a good sense of humor. It's what attracted me to my fourth husband. But you, my friend, do not have a good sense of humor."

Ban couldn't help but wonder where all these husbands of hers had gone. He decided it was best not to ask as she continued to Shido, who was still staring at the crows. She snapped her fingers, and he blinked once and turned to face her. His hair made him seem taller than she was, but he had to look up to meet her gaze.

"You are Fuyuki Shido," Wilhelm said. "And I would appreciate it if you didn't try to turn my birds against me. I treat them very well here, and I don't go to your home and steal your pets." Wilhelm went to touch Jonah, who hopped away from her hand, almost colliding with Shido's neck. Wilhelm glared at Shido as she walked over to Himiko. Ban wanted to shout for her to stay away from her, but he knew that would probably mean trouble for him at both Wilhelm and Himiko's hands.

Wilhelm reached out and gently smoothed down Himiko's hair. It was an odd moment. Her gesture was a motherly one, and the way she dwarfed the girl she knew Himiko probably felt that way. She didn't move from her as she did this, but she didn't look pleased, either. "I liked you even back when I first met you," she announced. "Kudou Himiko...such a lovely girl. You remind me very much of myself when I was a young girl." Himiko looked like she'd been insulted by what Wilhelm had obviously meant to be a compliment. "Perhaps when all of this...unpleasantness is finished you could stay here with me. Let me adopt you and make you my heir. Groom you to be my successor. All of this will be yours."

Himiko was clearly stunned for a moment. Ban found himself holding his breath, waiting for her answer. When she finally spat out contemptuously "I wouldn't want to be associated with you for all the money in the world" Ban couldn't hold back his sigh of relief. He looked around the room, but no one else seemed to share his sentiments. Ban's relief subsided as a horrific realization came to him: he'd honestly thought for a moment that Himiko would accept Wilhelm's offer. Someone who had been like a sister to him, and he hadn't trusted her judgment. He looked at Himiko, who hadn't seemed to notice his reaction. She was still glaring at Wilhelm, who looked like she'd just been slapped in the face.

"You will regret that decision," Wilhelm finally told her. "But because I know how stubborn young girls are and how quickly their minds change, I will leave my offer available to you. When- not if- you change your mind just let me know." Before Himiko could respond to her words Wilhelm had walked over to Jubei, chewing her cigar. She barely glanced at him before saying "Kakei Jubei. If you serve any real purpose in life, I have yet to find it. A waste of my time."

Ban saw Kadsuki grab Jubei's wrist, as his hand had been reaching for something. Wilhelm also noticed this as she stood in front of Kadsuki. "Cute. But you should let him attack. I am interested in what he can do." Kadsuki didn't move his hand, but Jubei had let his arm go limp so Ban suspected it wasn't to restrain him. Under different circumstances he would have commented on it. She was examining Kadsuki closely now, wearing the same smile she'd used when talking about Akabane and Himiko. Ban wasn't sure if it was a good thing to be liked by Wilhelm or not.

"My, aren't you the pretty one," Wilhelm finally assessed. "Your strings made such a horrible mess in my corridors, though. But clever to try to use them, Fuchoin Kadsuki." The way she said his name was proud, like only she knew it. Kadsuki didn't look impressed. "And I must say, you looked very pretty in those dresses. I was going to open the door for you after you tried on the first, but curiosity got the best of me. You really should wear dresses more often, though. They show off your lovely figure."

Kadsuki blushed, but Ban recognized the look in his eyes as anger and annoyance. Usually making comments about his femininity didn't offend him so much, but then, usually he didn't dislike the people making them as much as he obviously disliked Wilhelm. "I'm a man," he told her simply.

Wilhelm widened her eyes, the faintest hint of a blush crawling across her cheeks. "Yes, of course you are," she said quickly. "But none the less, you are a lovely one." As she walked over to Ginji, Ban noticed the look on Kadsuki's face was one of satisfaction, apparently from making Wilhelm feel foolish. He'd also released Jubei's wrist.

Wilhelm readjusted her glasses as she looked Ginji up and down. "Yes, Amano Ginji...Hajime had a lot to say about you. One of his girls was quite taken with you, it seems, and you managed to destroy all of his cameras. He told me that he only wished he'd met you sooner to examine you and discover what gave your body the ability to generate electricity so he could harness it." Ginji just blinked at her, not really sure what to say. Wilhelm was still speaking, however. "You strike me as a very sweet person," she told him, taking another drag off of her cigar. "But nice guys finish last. Just ask my first and fourth husbands. Oops, I forgot. You can't." She laughed again, and this time both Himiko and Emishi winced.

Finally, Wilhelm reached Ban, looking him right in the eye with her own eyes narrowed, obviously not aware of what a big mistake that was. Either she didn't know about Ban's jagan or she had a lot of faith in her glasses as an "Evil Eye shield". Ban had to admit he wasn't sure if her faith in that little symbol would prevent him from accessing her mind to use the jagan or not, but he didn't want to try it just yet. He still didn't know where the manuscript was, and he was interested in how she knew Amaya Hajime.

"You weren't on Hajime's tapes," she told him in German. Ban was caught off guard at first, before remembering she had probably seen him translating the plaques in the Cinderella room if she had seen Kadsuki trying on the dresses. "At least, not in the fighting ones, Ban Midou."

"How do you know Amaya?" he asked her, also speaking in German. Best to play her game if he wanted information from her.

Wilhelm smiled, taking another drag off of her cigar and looking up to blow the smoke toward the ceiling. She looked at the cigar in her hand, now down to a useless butt, and threw it to the floor. Once again it was Kokuhaku, the twin near the piano, that ran over to pick it up, and Ban noticed his left arm was dangling uselessly at his side. He could have sworn it was his dominant arm that he had broken...

"I was the employer who fired him after he got sick," she explained. "He worked for me ever since I moved to Japan. After my fourth husband died we became lovers, but then he infected himself with a virus and became very ill. We would have gotten married if it weren't for that." She laughed again, and everyone else was staring at her blankly, not understanding what she was saying but knowing it couldn't be good if it amused her so. "Then my cousin Jakob loaned him some money, not knowing he was still giving me information. He is a brilliant man, you know. He gave me a little gift before he left."

Wilhelm walked back over to her desk and sat behind it, reaching her hand beneath it. The doors to the room burst open, and a dozen large, suit-and-sunglasses clad men marched in, all holding guns. "These were a gift from Hajime," she announced, no longer speaking German. "That girl was just the beginning of his experiments. I lent him my own guards, and I think you will find them quite the formidable opponents. It is best you do not even try. It would be a shame if you were hurt." She was laughing yet again, but no one winced this time as the men surrounded the group. They all knew she was talking about Kaneko, and if these men had been subject to the same treatment they would probably be more trouble than they were worth.

"Take them down to the dungeon. I'll deal with them later. I am too tired to now," she ordered the guards, who nodded and pointed their guns at the group. They were all reaching for weapons now, but Ban lit a cigarette and looked past them at Wilhelm.

"What makes you think we won't just escape?" he asked her, speaking German again.

"Even if you do escape, you would become hopelessly lost just trying to find your way back to the first floor," she answered. She no longer sounded amused. In fact, she was beginning to sound worn out. Ban examined her closely as she bit off the end of another cigar and lit it. Then she added, more to herself than to Ban, "It's been a while since Solomon has had someone to play with..."

"Just go with them," Ban announced to the others, who didn't put their weapons back as they just stared at him. He was still examining Wilhelm, her expression now distant as she chewed on her cigar. He looked back at the guards surrounding them, catching something unusual on the face of one. "They aren't worth the time or the effort. Besides, she's got us beat."

There was something in the way he said that last sentence that made everyone suddenly understand what was going on. Or at least understand that Ban had some semblance of a plan in mind. They put their respective weapons away and allowed themselves to be lead out of the room.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ginji grabbed the bars on the small window of the metal door to the tiny, dark cell. He grunted with effort as he released a charge of electricity into the metal, then released the bars and attempted to slide the door open. It didn't work. "Ban-chan, the door isn't magnetic. Can you open it?"

Ban lit another cigarette. "Probably," he answered. He got off the cot he had been sitting on and examined the door, grabbing the bars and pulling for all he was worth. Of course it wouldn't open if Amaya Hajime had once conducted his experiments here. He had designed these cells to hold people with extraordinary strength. "Nope," he said, releasing the bars and sitting on the cot again. Jubei was sitting in the corner with Kadsuki, seemingly asleep, leaning against him.

"If you're about done, I'm sure my disintegration scent can handle this," Himiko shouted from the cell she was sharing with Shido, Emishi, and Akabane on the other end of the dungeon.

"Yeah, you probably could," Ban shouted back. "But wait for a moment."

Himiko didn't question him. Ban listened for the sound of a cell door opening, but heard nothing. He smirked and looked around the cell. There was a single window, covered by bars. From this angle he couldn't see the sunrise, just the stars outside. There was a single cot with a very thin wool blanket and no pillow. The door was solid except for the barred window and a slot that could be open or closed to insert things into. There was a hole in the center of the floor covered with a grate, but he didn't want to think about what that was used for. The cell was humid and sweltering. He could have sworn dungeons were supposed to be cold...

"Ban-chan, do you know something?" Ginji asked after a few moments of silence passed. He was in tare form, clinging to the cell window with all of his strength.

Ban took his cigarette away from his lips and examined it closely. "Wilhem's guards don't speak German," he announced, as if that clarified everything.

No one spoke, waiting for Ban to continue. Finally, Emishi said "And....?"

Ban took another drag off of his cigarette. "And one of them said 'später' to me as he left. That means later. Back in Wilhelm's office I saw that the gun he was holding wasn't real. In other words, it's someone who might be coming to help us."

"Help all of us?"

Everyone jumped. The new voice was female and came from a cell somewhere between the two that the two groups were in. They had been under the impression that they were the only ones in the dungeon.

"I don't know," Ban said, the first to recover. "How many of you are there?"

"Just me," she answered. She had a thick German accent. "Technically I am free to leave my cell. It is not locked. But I have been trying to find my way out of Endloser Palast for over a month now. I keep coming back so I don't starve. I mark the corridors I have been in, but then she has the walls fixed. She is a monster. Do you think this person knows the way out?"

No one spoke again, not sure whether they should answer her or not. "Who are you?" Ginji asked, his voice friendly. He released the bars and tumbled to the floor, leaving his tare form.

"My name is Breda Klemmer," the woman told him. There was a sound of a cell door opening, and then the sound of footsteps. A face appeared in front of the barred window. She was a young woman, her face long and cheeks slightly sunken in. Her eyes were dark, and from what Ban could see of her hair it was dark brown with a small braid framing either side of her face. "I was hired by Wilhelm long ago, and then she fired me and sent me to the dungeon. A month ago she freed me, but never told me the way out."

Ban examined her face through the bars. "Do you know what 'Solomon' is?" he asked her. "She gave all of her birds Bible names, so I am thinking some kind of bird. She said she was going to send us in to play with Solomon."

Breda gasped, and her face disappeared from the window. "Solomon is not a bird," she said quickly. "He is Wilhelm's son."

"You mean she has a kid?" Himiko cried out, surprised. Ban didn't blame her, after the way Wilhelm had treated her. However, he was surprised to find how much the news unnerved him personally.

Breda nodded, appearing in the window of the cell again. "Don't hurt Solomon," she said quietly, pleading. "He is a good boy. He doesn't control what he does. He is just frightened. Wilhelm has been mistreating him." She took in a deep, shuddering breath. "I was employed as his nanny. I came with Wilhelm from Germany when Solomon was just a little baby. He shouldn't even have been alive. That Amaya person did horrible things to him. I was originally imprisoned for begging Wilhelm to treat him better."

"What can Solomon do?" Ginji asked quietly, still sitting on the floor of the cell and staring up at the window with wide eyes.

Breda shook her head. "I cannot really say. Because of how close I was to him I was never subjected to his power myself, but people who have only had one or two 'sessions' with him have come back completely lifeless. Their minds and souls were gone." Breda looked up again, staring into the cell. "Is she all right?"

"He," Ban, Ginji, and Jubei all corrected her simultaneously. Breda blushed and looked away as Jubei continued to answer her.

"He's fine. Just overheated. It's too hot down here," he responded briskly. "He doesn't handle heat very well."

"I think I have some water left over back in my cell," Breda said. "I will go and check." The sound of footsteps was heard again, then a few moments of silence before Ban could hear them again, approaching the cell. "Is someone in front of the door?"

"I am," Ginji said quickly, getting on his knees and kneeling in front of the slot. It opened, and a dented, silver-colored flask fell into his hands.

"I refill it every time I make a trip upstairs to find the exit," Breda explained. "That water should be pretty cold."

Ginji turned on his knees and handed the flask to Jubei, who felt for the cap and unscrewed it, opening Kadsuki's mouth and pouring some in similar to the way Himiko had that day on the side of the road. Kadsuki swallowed it, and assured that he was going to be fine, Ginji turned on his knees and looked up at Breda again. Ban finished his cigarette and also looked at her.

"So you still don't know the way out?" Ban asked. "How can you find your way back here?"

Breda smiled sadly before turning away again. "There are a lot more doors that lead downstairs than there are doors that lead upstairs. It seems like every door I open is another horrible fairy tale room or leads down here. I have only found one door that leads upstairs. Wilhelm keeps a copy of the floor plan in her bedroom, which is on the third floor. If I can't find my way out, I at least want to find my way up."

Ban opened his mouth to ask their potential ally another question, but before he could the sound of footsteps froze them all in their places. Breda had turned away from the cell to see what was coming. Even Kadsuki, who was only just starting to come to, seemed to sense the anxious tension in the room as he picked up his head to look toward the cell door. Breda began to mutter something frantically in German, and the few words that Ban could hear he identified as being religious. She was praying.

The back of Breda's head disappeared, and in its place appeared the face of one of the guards that had escorted them into the cell. Ban wasn't sure if this one was the German-speaking one or not. They had all looked exactly alike: tall, suit-clad, with square faces, bald heads, and dark sunglasses. The stereotypical mindless bodyguard type. And Ban was about to give Wilhelm credit for being clever...

He could hear the metallic sound of keys jingling together, and then the metallic grating as one was slid into the lock of the cell and turned. With a loud click the door was unlocked. The guard slid it open, and as everyone in the cell quickly filed out Ban could see a second guard opening the other cell door and freeing the others. It seemed too good to be true: two of Wilhelm's guards just freeing them. There had to be a catch.

Ban looked over at Breda for the first time. She was wearing black jeans and a tight black turtle-necked tank top. Combined with the two knives she was holding in her hands, she looked less like a nanny and more like a warrioress of some kind. Leave it to Wilhelm to hire a trained fighter to babysit her only son...

They all circled the pair of guards ominously, knowing they would probably lose in a fight with them but wanting answers anyway. No one spoke, but Ban noticed that both guards were smiling very broadly.

"What gives?" Ban asked in German. It was the only way to check and see if this was the German-speaking guard or not.

The guard looked over at Ban, still smiling. He reached up, and everyone moved their hands toward their respective weapons or got into battle stances. But as they all watched the guard, they gasped as he seemingly pulled off his face and bald head...to reveal a familiar head of wavy, silvery locks. The sunglasses clattered to the floor as the mask was peeled off and discarded. Clayman first smiled warmly at Ban, then turned around to show everyone else that she was, indeed, an ally. A few of them didn't know Clayman, but eased off their weapons when they noticed the others relaxing. All of them looked very confused.

"Clayman-san!" Himiko finally cried, shattering the silence that had fallen over the dungeon. Clayman nodded, and Himiko looked at the other guard. "Then who is this?"

The other guard reached up to his face, peeling off the mask. Long blonde hair spilled out, and again the sunglasses clattered to the floor. After the mask was gone, Hevn quickly reached up to remove the tie she was wearing and discard the suit jacket, unbuttoning the shirt swiftly and heaving a huge breath. "I can finally breathe!" she announced, panting.

Breda was still holding her knives poised for attack. "You know these people?" she asked, sounding very confused.

"This is Hevn-san, our negotiator," Ban said, gesturing to Hevn, who was now fanning her face with her hand. "We are retrieval specialists. And this is Clayman-san." He made a similar gesture toward Clayman. "An acquaintance. Hevn-san came in here with us. I have do idea what Clayman-san is doing here."

Clayman looked over at Hevn. "Hevn-san met Wilhelm Grimm at the café across the street from my gallery. I recognized her and knew if you were going to take a job with her you would end up at Endloser Palast. I didn't want her to find out I was involved so she could set up a trap for me, so I followed you until you ended up here."

"Why follow us, Clayman-san?" Ginji asked, picking up one of the masks and examining it.

Clayman smiled at him as he played with the lifeless piece of rubber. "I wish I could say it was to help you navigate this place, but I am afraid that is only part of the reason. I am not completely familiar with the precise layout of this house, anyway. I was actually hoping if I helped you then you could help me."

"Help you with what?" Emishi asked skeptically. Ban knew that he didn't know Clayman or if she could be trusted or not.

Clayman looked down at her feet, her smile wavering a bit. "One of Wilhelm's men took something very valuable to me a long time ago. I wish to get it back. And you are retrieval specialists, after all."

Ban was eyeing Clayman skeptically. He was hesitant to take another job from her after the last time, but Ginji spoke before he could. "Of course we'll find it for you, Clayman-san!"

Clayman looked up and smiled at Ginji again. "Thank you," she told him sincerely. "What I am looking for is most valuable, and I wouldn't trust anyone else to find it." She then promptly turned around, pushing past Himiko with a friendly "excuse me" and began to walk toward this door. "I came in this way. We can get to Wilhelm's office from here and you can retrieve the manuscript."

"Is that what you are looking for?" Ban asked her as the group followed her from the dungeon. He didn't want yet another person to compete with to find the manuscript.

Clayman shook her head. "No. I thought it was what you were looking for."

"It is," Ban confirmed. He glared at Hevn, who was walking next to him. "Speaking of which, you and I need to have a little talk about that later."

Hevn laughed nervously, but no one bothered to ask why Ban was angry at her.

"Why did you take Hevn-san, though?" Kadsuki asked. He was walking next to Clayman, though from the looks of his walk he still wasn't in top form. Jubei seemed to notice, as he stayed very close behind him.

Clayman pushed open a wooden door at the end of a line of cells, revealing a staircase. "To tell you the truth, I meant to take someone else, but Hevn-san was the only person I could safely and quietly take."

They ascended the staircase quietly after that, Hevn now standing with Ginji and Shido between herself and Ban. Breda was still holding her knives, glancing around at the group she was now in the center of. She had not technically been invited to leave with them, but Ban decided as long as she wasn't actually attacking them then there probably wasn't any harm in letting her come with them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

There was a floor between the main floor and the dungeons, a storage basement of sorts with hardwood floors. It was just as mazelike as the main floor, but Clayman seemed to know where she was going as she held open the hidden door of another corridor and motioned them all inside.

They had traveled like this in silence through a few corridors before Clayman abruptly paused.

"What's wrong, Clayman-san?" Ginji asked, but she held up a finger to silence him.

"Listen," she ordered. Everyone did. "Can you hear it?"

It took most of them a moment to finally hear what Clayman was talking about. It started out very faint, but gradually grew louder. A heavy clomp, followed by a muted scraping sound, followed by a long, slow, shuffling sound. No one could figure out what exactly the sound was, and they all got ready to fight just in case, Shido looking at Jonah for a moment before he flew off down the corridor. The sound just got louder. The clomping, the scraping, the shuffling...

Jonah flew back to Shido's shoulder then. "It's a person," Shido announced. Everyone looked skeptical. Everyone, that is, except for Clayman and Breda, the former of which was watching the end of the corridor they were standing in with an uncharacteristically angry expression. They were all growing anxious. It was taking an eternity for the clomping, scraping, shuffling person to approach.

Finally, it was right at the fork at the end of the corridor. Finally the figure appeared from the left. A young man, his dark, wavy, cherry-red hair tied back in a loose ponytail, wearing a simple hunter green suit with black tie. The man only had one navy blue eye, his right covered with an eye patch. But what they were all noticing was the source of the peculiar sounds he was making. His left foot would come up briefly, only to fall with a heavy clomp to catch his balance. Then his cane would scrape across the floor, his right arm barely moving as it did. Then he would lean very heavily on it, as his right leg would slowly be dragged up next to his left, producing a shuffling noise. It seemed amazing that he was walking at all, what with the obvious effort it took him to form each step.

"I thought I heard you talking to that woman earlier, but sometimes it's hard to tell the ghosts of my past from any other ghost," the man said, before laughing at his own joke. Only the left side of his mouth opened all the way as he spoke, and when he laughed he only had half a smile. He was only about five steps from the group now, and he stopped, leaning heavily on his good leg, his cane keeping him from falling over to the right. He stopped laughing, but was still smiling as he spoke. "I guess I should have listened to my instincts that time. Oh well. If you were in my home we were bound to meet up sooner or later."

He was looking directly at Clayman as he spoke. She had suddenly gone pale, her green eyes flashing with anger. Ban had never seen her like this, not even she thought her paintings were going to be destroyed.

"Clayman-san, who is this?" Ban asked her softly, sharply.

"'Clayman'?" the man asked. He laughed again. "You see, I thought that was you when I read about the master art thief Clayman in the paper. After all, who else would want to steal paintings that most people believe are fakes? But I decided you were much too soft to be a criminal."

"His name is Naoya Masaharu," Clayman told Ban, ignoring Naoya's comments. She didn't offer any more information.

"So much hostility," Naoya said in the tone of voice one used to reprimand a child. "Is that really any way to treat your big brother, Chieri"

End of Chapter Six

*Cue Goo's Stupidity*

Next Chapter of Get Backers: "Sibling Rivalry: the Story of Masaharu and Chieri ". Look forward to it!

Any similarity between anyone living or dead is purely coincidental unless other wise noted.