.

.

She is studying at the university library when he finds her. No one knows that he's escaped yet, but he waits outside anyway, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a chance to speak with her.

He waits. It's quarter to eight before she finally leaves, bounding down the university steps with her backpack slung over her shoulder. The night is warm and yellow street lights wink in the pale blue dark, the sun still not quite hidden below the horizon. She does not see him. Cars pass, a crowd thins across the street as he stands, unmoving. Crowds slip by him like water around a stone, and when she looks up, no one is there.

xXx

.

"A diamond for your date?" the cabdriver says.

Johan looks up. It's raining now, the wipers of the cab slashing past the sheets of rain crashing against the windshield. "Date?" Johan says.

"The thing in your pocket. I can see it in my rearview."

The cabdriver has a growth of stubble, no more than a few days' old. His hands are weathered, and in the front seat Johan can just make out the greasy remnants of a paperbag, likely the cabby's lunch. "How did you know?" Johan says. He tucks the gun back into his pocket. The cabby smiles.

"Well. It's boxed-shaped. And from the way you were standing there, you were probably working up the nerve. I can tell about these things," the cabdriver says, and he winks. "Good-looking kids like you have it easy. It's harder for us old folks to bounce back when they say 'no.'"

"No one to go home to?" Johan says.

"Eh? Me?" The question seems to startle him, but the cabby smiles.

Johan looks out the window. If he wanted to, he could destroy this man's puny existence with a single word: of course no one would want you. The cabby projects himself moreso than most people, probably a recent divorce. Or death, Johan thinks. The cab slows to a stop and the cabby fidgets, uncomfortably.

"Well, I wouldn't say no one, it's just..."

"You are too busy," Johan says. He smiles, generously. "Perhaps you can console me when I get rejected from my date."

The cabdriver laughs. "Of course."

Johan sits back as the cabdriver proceeds to give him dating advice. He closes his eyes and lets the words wash over him.

He doesn't go to Anna's apartment. Instead he makes his way back to the hotel, taking the stairs instead of the elevator to his room. The bed is untouched. He doesn't turn on the light, instead walking in the dark and sitting heavily on a chair next to the window. He falls into a light sleep, waking occasionally to the sound of rain.

xXx

.

There is no point to living, when everyone who knows you is dead.

Because he is generous, he lets the doctor and his colleagues live. The newspapers scream the heinous crimes he's committed, THE WORST SERIAL KILLER IN HISTORY in histrionic font, while the inspector gives his testimony. Johan reads the articles with mild interest, marveling at how his life and his sister's seem to neatly fit into a singular narrative: the experiments at the red mansion, their mother's escape and how she tried to pass them off as one child; their escape across the border and Johan's internment in Kinderheim 511.

His thumb grazes the headline, THE MAKINGS OF A MONSTER. Johan frowns and folds the paper.

It is the exact opposite of Johan's intention-rather than erasing his existence, he is now the stuff of nightmares and tabloid fodder. Overly dramatic women proclaim their love for him in letters to the editor, some of them giving interviews. ("He just needs a home to go to!" one said. She had previously exchanged love letters with an American mass murderer before he was executed in jail.)

Sometimes, they quote his sister.

"I have no comment at this time," Nina Fortner, 23, says.

xXx

.

In Dusseldorf, he doesn't bother changing his appearance. He walks the streets, scarf wrapped around his neck and wearing the same clothes described in the newspapers. In his hotel room, he waits for the police to arrive, sitting with his gun in his lap and watching out the window. But the police never come, and the waiting game bores him. He wonders if he should wander out in his hospital gown, which he still keeps with him. But no one had stopped him then, either.

"I am making a withdrawal," Johan says, and the bookie trembles, shaking a little as he counts out DMarks in the hundreds and hands it to him. The man's palms are sweaty but Johan smiles, putting it in his pocket. He doesn't have a plan. Briefly he considers suicide, but the thought of his sister not knowing hurts him. He wonders if he should kill himself in her kitchen, but it is inelegant and far too annoying to plot out, so Johan lets it rest. "When...when are you coming back?" the bookie says.

Ah, yes. He had killed the bookie's employers nearly a year ago. "I'm not sure," Johan says, and he smiles, mildly. "Perhaps I will bring you a souvenir."

He walks toward him. The bookie cringes, but Johan makes a point to step around him and walk toward the door. "By the way," Johan says, and the bookie yelps. Johan turns and smiles.

"If anyone asks, I was never here."

xXx

.

The girl at the airport, she's chewing gum and squinting her eyes, tilting her head as if trying to read a road sign to a darkened freeway exit. "You look familiar," she says.

Johan smiles. The girl looks at him and back at his passport, OTTO WEBER emblazoned on the front. "Are you an actor?" she asks.

"Of a kind," Johan says, and he takes the passport, smiling. The girl smiles and waves and Johan walks past the gate, slipping his bag over his shoulder quietly.

In the terminal, there are TVs hung from the ceilings while travelers sip coffee and read newspapers. They are playing a newscast: Johan listens, quietly.

"...and now we have Germany's foremost expert in criminal psychology, Dr. Sanjay Patel, here to talk a little bit about the Ruhenheim incident and its aftermath. Dr. Patel?"

"Thank you, Judy, for having me."

Johan's mouth quirks. A second-rate news network hiring a second-rate psychologist for an interview. Outside of courthouse testimony and the occasional newspaper interview, Dr. Gillen has not spoken publicly about him.

"It is obviously the work of a deranged schizophrenic. Someone who has completely lost touch with reality," the psychologist on the TV says. "Here is someone who fits the definition of a true psychopath. Someone who lacks empathy for his fellow man. And it's interesting," the psychologist says, "in particular, Liebert's loose sense of identity. If you remember, Dr. Tenma had mentioned in his testimony that Liebert had often cross-dressed as his sister. We can only imagine what his reasons for doing this was for, but if I were to speculate," the psychologist says, "I would have to say, there was probably a sexual component to this as well."

"Sexual?" the anchorwoman says.

"Yes," the psychologist says.

The interview bores him, and Johan stops listening. Briefly he glances up at the TV and sees his university picture on the screen-"a handsome young man with a dark past"-but no one recognizes him. Johan closes his eyes and waits, listening for the departure time at his terminal.

xXx

.

Slowly, he begins sending her souvenirs.

In Taiwan, it is a small jade carving, a dragon with rubies for eyes and small enough to fit in his palm. In the Philippines, he sends her postcards of jeepneys and brightly colored necklaces, sends her postcards of women carrying umbrellas and oversized hats; he sends her a novelty glass, GOD SAVES THE QUEEN written in tan and yellow cursive. The postmarks on the packages are obvious, but no one comes for him. Later, he buys a polaroid camera and takes instant snapshots of the things he sees-a gray, washed out sky, a dead bird lying in the grass, things that could be ominous because they are coming from him-but even those are not enough to catch anyone's attention.

He wonders if his sister is ignoring him.

He travels the world aimlessly, drifting from city to city. Pretty soon Otto Weber becomes Alexander Baskov when he learns Russian as fluently as his mother tongue, and he tests himself, slipping amongst the locals to see if he could be found. At a local market, he sees a set of Russian nesting dolls, each one smaller than the other, and Johan smiles to himself. He takes it home and paints them to look like Anna: each one golden-haired, stacked over each other and swallowing the smaller ones whole.

He ends up in New York. There is a park on the outskirts of Brooklyn, and Johan wanders listlessly. Children run by, laughing. They throw snowballs at each other and babble in English, a brother and sister ice skating and holding hands. Briefly, he wonders what would happen if he killed the one and maimed the other, if their mother would still want them. But he doesn't. He walks forward, listening to the sound of small feet crunching in the snow.

"Excuse me, do you mind taking a picture?"

Johan stops. Two girls stand in front of him, freezing in NorthFace running jackets and same-colored gloves. "Of course," Johan says, and the girls squeal and hand him the camera, posing stupidly in front of him.

Pointless. Everything is pointless. He takes the picture and the girls huddle over the digital preview. "That's really good!" they say.

Johan smiles. "You're welcome," he says.

In the hotel, he considers suicide again.

The hotel allows for international phone calls, and on an impulse, Johan dials Anna's number. There is a six-hour time difference and it is 2 AM in Germany; he isn't sure she will answer.

"H-hello?"

She sounds groggy. Johan sits, and waits.

"Hello? Is someone there?"

Breathing on the other line.

"Johan?"

"I miss you," Johan says. Outside it is snowing. The night sky is washed with a muted gray.

"Where are you? Where are you calling from? Johan-"

Johan hangs up the phone.

xXx

.

No one takes notice. The clusterfuck of his phone call does not manifest in a flurry of headlines -SISTER OF MONSTER CONTACTED. MORE VICTIMS AWAIT?-and there are no pop psychologists weighing in with their two cents. Earlier, Johan had sat on the floor of his hotel room and laid out newspaper clippings of his sister in perfect rows: a graduation notice, a small one-column interview about human rights and international law, a photograph, long faded and curling at the corners. A picture of Anna, her head thrown back, caught in a laugh. She hadn't seen him when he took the picture.

Now he stands on the roof at midnight, looking out into the darkness and squinting his eyes. The sight from the rooftops is different than in Germany, and Johan walks, balanced precariously on the ledge as he looks out into the Manhattan skyline. Below him it is as if he's looking out into a vast expanse, the myriad of lights and colors winking in the murky dark.

It doesn't matter. There are no people here, no one on this rooftop, at the top of the world. Slowly he walks, one foot in front of the other, feeling his weight balancing on the slippery concrete. The wind rises and he closes his eyes, because there's nothing left to do but keep going forward.

The bus station bathroom is empty, and quietly Johan slips out of his hospital gown and into the clothes he had managed to steal from a neighboring clothes line, ill-fitting shirt and pants. The bathroom is grimy and the mirror is cracked, distorting his reflection in several jagged segments. There is an old smell like bad breath and rotting garbage, and the yellow light makes his skin look jaundiced in the mirror.

The scars on his scalp have already healed, and carefully, he runs his fingers over the bumps there, each ragged peak and valley from where the staples had been removed. He takes one last look at his reflection-pale face, sallow, tired eyes-before running his hands under the faucet. The water is brown and lukewarm and silently, he formulates a plan: steal a wallet, buy a bus ticket. Kill himself, but first find a way to say goodbye to his sister.

He decides it is a very good plan.

end.


A/N: So I got it into my head that Johan would probably want to kill himself, but he can't because his sister is still alive and he still needs to watch over her, and he can't bring himself to say goodbye. So this came from that. Hopefully it's not as WTFish as I think it is, lol :x