Disclaimer- I still don't own Get Backers. I just like to take the characters out for a spin every once in a while.
Chapter Eight: The Boy With the Evil Eye
By A Girl Named Goo
"Um...if anyone has an idea, right now would be a really good time to put it in action," Emishi announced as they were lead down yet another corridor. Wilhelm wasn't with them, but somehow the guards surrounding them knew their way around the labyrinth.
No one said anything, although Clayman, Kadsuki, and Ban all seemed to be deep in thought, pondering their current situation and trying to find a way to get out of it. "Trying" was the operative word in this case, as it was very hard to think on a moment's notice with a gun being pointed at your back by men that were immune to anything you could try to do to them.
They were all herded rather roughly up a staircase that had been concealed by a wall, Himiko once letting out a surprised yelping sound as a gun was jammed into her back. She reached behind her for her bottles of perfume, but Clayman gently pulled her hand away from them, shaking her head. Himiko understood what she meant: if she tried to attack, the guards would fire and things would get messy.
As they were manuevered through still more corridors, fear started to subside and annoyance had started to set in. This seemed to be a common reaction to anything that Wilhelm Grimm did. Ban wondered if she knew that letting people dangle for too long just ruined the frightening effect. Chances are even if she did know she didn't care.
Another door was opened, and everyone prepared to be lead down still another corridor. Instead the guards gathered around the door, gesturing with their guns for the group to walk in. They all hesitantly walked into the room, Ban lingering behind for a moment before he was shoved in by the butt of a gun. Before he could turn around to see who had done it the door was slammed shut and locked with an audible click.
"Well, that's reassuring," Emishi noted, looking at the door. Everyone else turned around to look at the door as well. There was no doorknob, and it had been painted to match the decor of the wall.
The lighting in this room was sparse, but enought to see the murals on all of the walls. They were several gruesome scenes from fairy tales, of the little girl in Juniper Tree recoiling in horror as her brother's head fell to the floor; of Bluebeard's wife opening the door to a room to see a huge vat of blood and the corpses of his other wives hanging above it; of the devil chopping off the hands of the farmer's daughter; of the sister in Twelve Brothers being burnt at the stake; a particularly graphic depiction of the wolf in Little Red-Cap eating the grandmother...the horrible murals only seemed to get worse the closer to the small, neatly-made bed they got. Directly above the bed was a verse:
mein Mutter, der mich schlacht,
mein Vater, der mich aß,
mein Schwester, der Marlenichen,
sucht alle meine Benichen,
bind't sie in ein seiden Tuch,
legts unter den Machandelbaum.
Kywitt, kywitt, wat vör'n schöön Vagel bün ik!
Ban's eyes fixed on the mural for a moment before he began to translate it outloud. "'My mother, she killed me. My father, she ate me. My sister, little Marlenichen, gathered together all my bones, tied them in a silken hankerchief, laid them beneath the juniper tree, kywitt kywitt what a beautiful bird am I.'"
No one else spoke. They continued to survey the room instead. On the carpeted floor were many kinds of toys scattered about. At first they appeared to be strewn around at random, but upon closer examination there was obviously a pattern: one pile was all dolls and stuffed animals, one was all boats and cars, one was all cards and board games, one was all books, et cetera. A further examination showed that the toys were further organized by their color. In the center of the room were several papers and crayons spread out. The papers were covered in seemingly shapeless doodles that everyone in the room knew probably weren't all that they seemed at first glance.
Finally their group survey of the room ended as all of their eyes locked on the corner. They almost missed him at first. His form was so tiny and he seemed to disappear into the shadows. He was wearing all black and hugging his knees to him, and with his head down his ebony hair blended in with his outfit. Only a tiny pair of very pale hands gave away that the dark little ball in the corner was a person.
"Is that...?" Ginji asked, letting the question dangle.
"I think so," Ban said.
Breda nodded in response to the question. "Solomon?" she asked softly.
A pale face appeared above the dark knees. He was obviously Wilhelm's son. His features were softer from childhood, but he had the same basic shape to his face and his hairstyle was pretty close to her's. His left eye was also the same amythest color as his mother's. But what caught Ban's attention was his right eye. It was gas flame blue, and oddly familiar to him..
Breda had begun to approach him, but the boy said something in German that froze her in her tracks. "Was sagten Sie?" she asked him softly.
The boy swallowed and looked at the group of now eleven people around him. "Bleiben Sie weg!" he screamed, covering his face.
"What did he say?" Himiko asked, standing next to Ban now.
"To stay away," Ban translated. A bad feeling suddenly washed over him.
"Ich will Sie verletzen," Kadsuki said, and the boy looked up at him, horrified. Breda also looked shocked, and Ban looked at the other man with annoyance.
"Nicht," Ban said after a few moments where Kadsuki seemed clearly confused. "You forgot to say 'nicht'. You just told him you wanted to hurt him."
Kadsuki suddenly turned pale. "Can't you fix it?"
Ban shrugged. "I can try." He looked down at Solomon again. "Wir wollen Sie nicht verletzen."
Solomon shook his head. Ban tentively stepped closer, causing the boy to jump to his feet. "Berühren Sie mich nicht!"
"He said not to touch him," Ban announced to everyone behind him before turning around and looking down at the boy again. "Ich will Sie nicht verletzen."
"Lügner!" Solomon shouted.
"I'm not lying," Ban said in Japanese, before catching himself and translating what he'd said.
"Lügner!" Solomon screamed, and Ban suddenly realized the look in his blue eye was a very familiar one. Only he realized it a moment too late...
"Don't look in his eye!" Ban screamed, but before everyone could heed his advice they suddenly felt themselves being pulled somewhere else...
Himiko slowly climbed to her feet, looking around at her surroundings. They seemed so familiar: a small kitchen bathed in sunlight. A door that lead outside and another that lead to the hallway. Just out of curiosity she looked down at herself. Her chest was smaller, and she was wearing a loose-fitting, pale T-shirt. Ban had always teased her about it, how it did nothing to compliment her "figure". Ban...
Himiko was suddenly overcome with the urge to find Ban. There was something she needed to tell him and Yamato. She excitedly ran to the hallway, throwing open the door. "Ban! Aniki!" she cried out...and then she froze in her tracks.
Ban was standing over Yamato's lifeless body, his hand covered in blood that obviously came from the gaping wound in the center of her brother's chest. She blinked in disbelief. How could he?! How could he betray them that way?! She wanted to shout those things at him, wanted to attack him, wanted to make him pay.
Instead she only screamed.
Kadsuki could feel the flames surrounding him, singing his kimono, burning his hands as he attempted to shield his face. Where was his mother? Where was....a hand extended toward him through a break in the flames, and he grabbed it desperately, allowing himself to be pulled to the other side. Jubei urgently beat off a few small flames that had sprouted on his kimono.
"This way!" he shouted, pulling Kadsuki through the flames and the carnage around them. Kadsuki was crying now, trying not to look around him, trying to focus on Jubei leading him out to safety. But he couldn't just leave everyone and run like a coward...
Kadsuki shook out of Jubei's grip. "Mother!" he shouted, running back toward the flames. He ran toward the main house, Jubei close behind him.
"Kadsuki!" Jubei shouted, trying to catch up to him. But it was no use: Kadsuki was faster, and a building had just exploded, barring his way with wreckage.
"Mother!" Kadsuki shouted. Finally he caught a glimpse of her, standing in front of the main house. Her bells were poised in her hand, and she was concentrating on something in the distance. Kadsuki ran up to her and grabbed her side, recoiling slightly as her kimono started to fall apart in his hand.
"Run away, Kadsuki," she told him calmly, looking down at him.
Kadsuki shook his head and looked up at her again, more tears springing to his eyes. "No Mother! I can't run away! I can't leave you alone!" he told her firmly.
She shook her head at him. "You have to protect our family line," she told him.
Kadsuki tried to grab her kimono again. This time it didn't fall apart. "But where will I go?" he choked out.
"To Mugenjyou," she said simply. She began to walk away and Kadsuki's grip on her kimono slipped.
"Wait! Mother, don't!" Kadsuki screamed, but before he could run after her a hand grabbed his wrist.
"Come on! We have to get out of here!" Jubei told him urgently, running in the opposite direction of where Kadsuki's mother had went.
"No! Wait!" Kadsuki screamed. "Mother! No!'
Kadsuki finally managed to shake out of Jubei's grasp and turn around...in time to see the building his mother had gone in collapse. He screamed as Jubei pulled him closer to him to shield him from the red-hot ashes that spread in the wake of the collapsing structure. Kadsuki was sobbing as he released him, but Jubei only took his hand and began to run again, leading them both far away...
The night was alive with the din of buzzing insects, peircing whistles, wounded animals crying out in pain, and humans shouting and screaming. Shido could ignore painful beestings and horsefly bites. He could dodge the wasps and even shake off the spiders attempting to crawl up his legs. But it pained him more than anything to watch his dearest friends, human or otherwise, falling around him, knowing there was nothing he could do.
Shido heard a pained moan from near him and ran over to the source of it. A man, not much older than himself, someone he recognized, someone who had grown up with him and faced the same hardships, now lie on the ground. Tiny but probably poisonous spiders crawled out of his pantlegs and headed toward Shido, but with a whistle a flock of birds swooped down to pick them off one by one.
The man looked at Shido pitifully, his breathing shallow. His eyes suddenly rolled back and his breathing ceased. Shido looked down at the dead man for a moment, then back up. Standing at the mouth of the forest as the man he knew as Higumono Kirihito. He clenched his teeth and his fists, and summoning up his last dregs of energy, ignoring the insects stinging his skin viciously, he charged his opponent with everything he had....
Ban blinked, feeling slightly dazed. He had hoped that by using his jagan at the same time as Solomon he could cancel out the effect. The moment he realized that the boy had it he also realized it was weaker. It had more limitations, and was also less powerful, seeing that it was only in one eye. That in and of itself was a rarity, and it actually frightened Ban. Being that the Evil Eye was a metaphysical condition, one either had it or they didn't. Where they got it might differ, but that basic rule remained the same. The only way a curse could be weakened in someone was if another curse of equal or greater power were used on the same person.
Ban examined his surroundings. He slowly realized he was still in Solomon's room. However, everyone else was gone, as were all of the toys. The murals were far less garish. Crouched in the corner, crying, was Solomon, his tiny body shaking with each violent sob.
"Solomon?" Ban asked, softly, daring to approach the boy. At first Solomon shrunk away from him, but looking up into the man's eyes with his own tear-filled ones he stopped making an effort to get away from him.
"Don't touch me," he told Ban, though he sounded uncertain. Solomon suddenly began to fade away, and Ban turned around. The bed was replaced by a hospital bed, and a man was standing in front of it. Ban examined this sudden addition to the scene. The man seemed vaguely familiar, his shoulder-length black hair slightly wavy, broad shoulders making his body seem wider beneath his white coat.
"How is he?" a familiar, thickly-accented voice asked, and Ban looked at the doorway of the room. Wilhelm Grimm was standing there, her face worn and worried. Instead of wearing her suit she was wearing a violet silver nightgown and untied black housecoat.
The man looked up at her, and Ban immediately recognized him from his narrow silver eyes. This was Amaya Hajime, back when he was healthier. Amaya was holding a long syringe in his hand, and he roughly thrust the needle into the arm of the tiny boy in front of him, who couldn't have been much older than two years old. The boy cried out, but Amaya ignored him as he emptied the contents of the syringe into his arm.
"He'll be fine," Amaya reported. "Although it might be close for a while. I'll keep an eye on him."
The figures in front of them disappeared, and Ban turned around. Solomon was standing behind him, grasping his arm and crying.
"That man hurt you?" Ban asked.
Solomon nodded and pulled up the black sleeve of his shirt. It was covered in scars, some of them long and deep, others tiny indents like pockmarks. He let his sleeve fall back into place, and Ban was suddenly full of hatred for Amaya Hajime. The man experimented on and tortured children. He turned men into machines and claimed it was a miracle. And then he had the audacity to request that Ban end his life, as if he deserved to have his suffering cut short, not to mention the memories that request had dug up.
Ban looked around. The hospital bed was gone again, replaced by Solomon's bed once again. The murals reappeared, as did the toys and the writhing bodies of the group he had come in with. Only Jubei was still on his feet, asking feebly what was going on. The rest were finally coming out of the spell the Evil Eye had cast on them, slowly climbing to their knees and their feet.
Kadsuki looked up at Jubei, then down at his hands in horror. They were burned just as badly as they had been that night. Kadsuki threw himself against Jubei, sobbing into his chest, and as he did this Ban noticed with shock that several members of the group were injured. Shido was covered in swelling insect stings and bites, Ginji looked inexplicably worn out, Emishi seemed to be nursing some kind of wound on his abdomen that was covered by his clothes, and even Breda was covered in cuts that were bleeding profusely, eyes wide with shock. Hevn was sobbing in the corner, and Himiko had run over to a corner where a small trash can was set up and was now vomiting between sobs, Clayman standing up and ignoring her own tear-filled eyes as she went to attempt to comfort her. Only Jubei and Akabane looked unphased, Jubei having been immune to the Evil Eye because of his blindness and Akabane....well, if the vision he'd had had affected him in any way he was doing a good job of hiding it.
"My, that was fascinating," Akabane said with a smile, looking down at the boy in the corner. Ban made sure he was between Solomon and Akabane, although he doubted Akabane would try anything with him.
"Ban-chan?" Ginji asked weakly, looking up at Ban pleadingly.
Ban looked down at Solomon, then at his fallen partner. "I'm going to make her pay for this," he announced.
"Who?" Ginji asked.
"Wilhelm Grimm. She knew he has the Evil Eye, and she never taught him how to control it. She let a madman torture him, and then she used him and made her think he's a monster," Ban explained. "Her own son..."
Ban looked up and around the room again. Jubei was trying to examine Kadsuki's burnt hands as gently as he could, which was more difficult than it sounded because he had to rely on touch. Emishi seemed to have recovered and was trying to get up again, supporting himself on the bed. Himiko had stopped vomiting and was now giving Ban a look that he could have swore burned into his skin. Clayman was still standing next to her, the tears in her eyes gone. Hevn seemed to have finished sobbing, and Shido seemed to be ignoring his obvious painful injuries as he stroked Jonah's breastfeathers, and Ginji was slowly pulling himself to his feet as well. The only one who wasn't getting up or recovering was Breda, who had her shocked expression frozen onto her face.
"But Ban-chan, when you use it no one gets hurt like this," Ginji argued. He was standing now, but he promptly fell back on the bed.
Ban shook his head and lit a cigarette. "He doesn't make new dreams from whole cloth. He brings back memories in a way so powerful the mind remembers the physical as well as the emotional pain. If that's the case then the body can't help but follow the mind because technically it's real." Ban sighed. "If I wanted to I could do that, but most of the time I aim to distract and disable, not to hurt."
"S-Solomon?" Breda asked, looking at the boy on the floor. Solomon, who had covered his face, lowered them to look at her. "Solomon..." she said again. Suddenly, she darted to her feet and lunged at him, knives in hand. Ban grabbed arm and swung her around, forcing her back onto the floor rather roughly. Her knives slipped from her grip, and she made no motion to retrieve them. Her eyes were wide and blank as she stared at the floor, as if there were something immensely interesting there.
Jubei finished assessing the damage to Kadsuki's hands and pulled a white needle out of the sheath on his glove, preparing to ease the pain of the injury. He was about to begin working on Kadsuki's hands when a loud, ear-piercing shriek froze him to the spot. Everyone else looked over at Solomon, who had begun to ramble frantically in German.
"He's afraid of needles," Ban explained, dropping his cigarette and stepping it out.
"I have to do this now or his hands will scar," Jubei warned, running the needle across Kadsuki's left hand, occasionally stopping to slide it into his skin.
Kadsuki shook his head. "Jubei, no. It can wait until later. I don't want him to panic again. We don't know what else he can do."
Jubei looked like he was going to object, but with a sigh of resignation he put the needle back where he had gotten it. Solomon looked at him from between his hands and stopped shouting, as if a switch had been flipped. One moment he was panicking, the next he was completely relaxed. Ban regarded the boy with curiosity, and the boy seemed to analyze him in return.
"We have to get out of here," Emishi announced after a few moments of uncomfortable silence. Everyone else gave half-hearted gestures or responses in the affirmative. Ban walked over and looked at the door, sizing it up mentally. He knocked on it, and satisfied that it gave a hollow, wooden sound he motioned for the others to stand back. Then he proceeded to kick it in.
"One problem solved," Ban announced. "Now let's finish the job and get the hell out of here."
Ginji was up and walking again, and with some coaxing from Emishi Breda was also back on her feet. No one bothered to pick up her knives for her. Kadsuki had released his grip on Jubei and wiped away his tears, his face now a mask of stony resolve. The only evidence that he had been crying was that his eyes were red. As they all filed out of the room Kadsuki suddenly paused.
"What about him?" he asked, gesturing toward Solomon.
"Leave him," Emishi suggested, rubbing his abdomen to indicate the pain that the boy had caused him.
"No. We're taking him with us," Ban announced. He looked into the room at the boy and said something in German. He looked confused for a moment, but slowly Solomon climbed to his feet and walked over to Ban.
"You can't be serious. What are we going to do with him?" Emishi asked.
Ban shrugged. "Get him away from his mother."
"And then what?" Ginji asked, out of genuine curiosity rather than to point out the flaws in Ban's logic.
"Then I don't know, but let's just take this one step at a time, all right? We get the manuscript and we find the exit. Wilhelm only said that she found Kadsuki's string. With any luck she didn't catch Himiko's tracking scent. And if we have to we'll kick the walls in and make our own way out." Ban looked around the hall. "But right now we need to find Wilhelm's office...."
"I know where it is," Breda said softly. Everyone turned to face her, and she drew in a deep breath before speaking. "It's one of the points I memorized. I thought that knowing where her office was would be a key to finding the way out." She looked around as well. "Solomon's room is on the fourth floor, as is Wilhelm's room. I know how to find the way to the third floor, where her office is, but if we can find her room we'll find the master map."
Clayman stepped up to the wall across from the door to Solomon's room. "We should find the map. That way if the tracking scent has been eliminated we can still find our way back out."
Ban sighed, then nodded. "This is turning out to be far too complicated for a simple retrieval job..."
End of Chapter Eight
Goo's Notes: Still no beta reader. Any volunteers? And sorry this chapter is so short and took so long to get out, but I am back in school now. Next chapter is the last chapter of "Wilhelm's Manuscript". The good news? "Wilhelm's Manuscript" is the first story in a trilogy I have planned! Rejoice!