Over the next few days, they stayed in the house, keeping their heads low, always waiting to be uncovered. They all knew that the hunters were out searching for them and if they found them, they would have to run. This was only the calm before the storm.
And the storm began to rise the third day. Crawford woke the whole team around six in the morning.
"In ten minutes we need to be gone," he told them. And they were. Running through the streets like prey, carrying the comatose girls with them. Crawford guided them through tubes and tunnels and rows of houses. After a long time of running they rested in the fragile protection of an empty house.
"You all right?" Yohji asked Schuldig who was very quiet – something that was very out of character for him.
"Hm – I'm listening for our pursuers. There's someone coming."
"Go on, hurry. This is not the place where we could fight them," Crawford urged them on.
But the pursuit came closer and then they were trapped.
"Five from behind, five in front," Schuldig said shortly.
"Okay, back to back then," Crawford ordered.
And so they fought. It was a fast and dirty fight, over more quickly than anticipated, since Schuldig managed somehow to suppress the gifts of the SZ fighters.
After the fight he had to rest a few minutes, before he could speak again: "That was only the advance guard."
"And now, fearless leader?" Yohji asked.
"We'll try to reach that park in the west. There we might have a chance."
"Really?" Aya felt none too comfortable only to rely on those visions, but what else could they do?
After half an hour the reached the place.
The next moment they felt a hideous pain in their heads, which vanished as soon as it began and the SZ agent went down.
"If that's all you have to offer…" Schuldig sneered.
"Get moving," Crawford lead them, while Nagi and Schuldig deflected the attacks.
They had almost reached the middle of the park, when a voice stopped them: "Nice to see you again, Schuldig. Give me the vessel and I'll promise you a quick death." Something in the voice of the tall man made all of them shiver.
"Who is that?" Omi whispered.
"Jitterburgh," Schuldig answered flatly.
„You really believed you could run away from SZ?" the man snorted, "you of all people should know that SZ owns that little is left of your soul. You can't socialize with normal people. I bet your new friends know nothing about you. What you are, what you are capable of. Shall I tell them what your name means?"
Schuldig stayed immobilized.
„Schuldig is German for guilty. Guilty of what?" Jitterburgh smiled, "I have known our German friend since he was six. I taught him to use his gifts. He made his exams with cheers. Shall I tell you was it was? To kill his own parents."
Schuldig slumped against the wall. His face was white and he shivered. Nagi and Crawford were at his side, as if they could protect him somehow. Weiss was frozen for a moment, then Yohji ran to his aid. His heart broke when he saw his fire-haired lover so subdued.
"That's what I am," he refused to look up. "I've been a killer since I was a child. And I can't be anything else."
"Oh, Schu," Yohji embraced him and tried concentrate all his love on him, "you're so much more than that."
"It's easy to be a good guy in good times, but neither of you had that," Omi told him, "and you still developed some kindness."
"Just don't listen to him," Ken added.
They stood around him like a security blanket, Aya observed. That was good, but comfort was not his strength. His was combat and he was angry, as he hadn't been for ages.
There might be worse people than Takatori ... Nobody should be allowed to play with people like that. His fury got out of control and before he had time to think, his katana flew and Jitterburgh's head fell to the floor.
"Now! That's our chance," Crawford ordered, "Schuldig, get it together. Just a few more minutes and you can rest."
"I'll be okay," the redhead whispered, but leaned heavily on Yohji and Nagi.
Crawford guided them to an old warehouse, another safe house he had established for Schwarz. "Here we should be safe. Jitterburgh's death seems to disturb them enough to loose our trace." Than he knelt down before the telepath and stroked his cheek, "you okay?"
"Yes, I'm just tired."
"Eat a bit, then you can sleep as long as you like."
Schuldig nodded. He forced himself to eat a bit and than curled up in old four poster bed.
"Hey baby, you okay?" Yohji slipped under the covers and snuggled up to the redhead.
"Just hold me, okay, Yohji?"
"Of course, I'll stay here. I won't leave you."
"Despite what I am?"
"You are a human being, who has been misused and broken. But you are still a wonderful person and I love you."
"I never thought that could happen. That somebody could love me, while knowing I'm a monster."
"You are no monster and I love you. And now you really should try to sleep."
Comforted and warmed to the heart, he snuggled close and shut his eyes.
Ran had settled down his sister and, coming back, found his team asleep. The only one who was still awake was Crawford.
"Do you want some tea?"
Ran nodded and watched the economical movements of the American. "Why did Jitterburgh do such horrible things to the adepts? Schuldig was surely not the only victim."
"No, SZ doesn't want employees with too much independence and because of that they try to beat it out of us as soon as possible."
"Seems as if it was not really effective with Schwarz. You betrayed them nevertheless."
"We believe in our freedom. Schwarz is no one's dog."
"I know. And you should know that we are trustworthy."
"Maybe. You haven't turned away from Schuldig and I'm grateful for that. Normal humans normally threat us only with fear and revulsion."
"It's sometimes difficult to regard you without fear, but I can see clearly that you are still human with all hopes and fears. We won't forget that."
"It's a start," Brad acknowledged, "maybe you could really be our allies."
"Good," Aya smiled at him. "We should try to sleep now, too, it was rather a busy day."