Chapter 5- Bloodlines
"Any new reports?" The Grigori members asked in sync. Even with their veiled faces, the hardened frowns marred the aloof, apathetic personalities they had cultivated. A situation such as this was uncalled for; a half-human, half-demon child running around with the god of Gehenna's blood flowing through his veins… it could only spell disaster for humanity. Disaster for Assiah.
The female of the group bit her lip as the blonde exorcist shook his head pensively. "We have thus far been unable to track down Rin Okumura or Shiro Fujimoto. Their last known whereabouts were at Ryouta Himura's residence, where they escaped despite his attempts at retrieval. We're keeping an eye on Yukio Okumura to see if he is hiding their current location."
The Grigori were quiet for a moment, absorbing the paladin's words. Eventually, the eldest member spoke, pointing a bony, almost accusatory finger towards Angel. "I see. The penalty of harboring a fugitive, especially one as dangerous as Rin Okumura, is imprisonment— perhaps even death. Remember this well, Arthur Augustus Angel. You have ascended the rank of paladin, temporarily— but it does not mean you are immune. Just as Shiro Fujimoto will be tried in front of the jury just as any other True Cross member, so will you if there is even a hint that you've disobeyed our direct orders."
Angel nodded, rising to his feet. He flicked back his golden locks, one hand placed arrogantly on the hilt of his sword. "I will not be lured into complacency by some demon-spawn. Son of Satan or not, he is a demon and like any other, he also can be killed."
With that, the newly-declared paladin walked across one of the concrete bridges, Lightning following quickly behind. The dark-haired man had to stifle a laugh as he caught sight of Angel's serious expression.
"If you keep frowning like that your face will freeze up. I'd hate for your image to be ruined." He teased lightly.
Angel turned back briskly, settling a strong arm on the tamer's shoulder. He spoke softly, a sort of fondness for the poncho-clad man seeping into his tone. "While I appreciate your concern, Lightning, it is unneeded. I will find the spawn of Satan and drag him to the Grigori by his tail if I must. No one, not even exorcist prodigy Yukio Okumura or that disgrace for a paladin, Shiro Fujimoto, will get in my way."
The skilled tamer merely chuckled, pulling the brim of his hat down. "Sounds fun. I do hope we meet the son of Satan— It would be a shame if he were found by someone else... or killed."
Yukio crossed the stone-laden bridge leading to the exorcist shop with a visible weariness, sapphire eyes glancing periodically towards the door he had just walked through. He did not want to repeat his sprint through the maze of corridors and passageways of True Cross to slip past the exorcists that always seemed to follow a bit too closely. It was by sheet luck that he had slammed the door in their faces before they could see where he was going; though, he realized that his erratic behavior would only spur the Order's spying. But, it couldn't be helped. His brother and adopted father were in danger and despite what some may think, Yukio Okumura was far from cold and detached.
No, his problem was that he cared too much for his volatile, half-demon twin and not-entirely-virtuous priest/parental figure.
Finding the inside of the shop to be empty with only a small, worn sign reading 'closed,' the exorcist stumbled towards the garden— and gasped.
There wasn't a single blooming flower in sight. The land looked as if a pestilence had been spread upon it, the dried, golden grass mottled with dead petals and the scattered remains of once stunning foliage. Hearing the unfamiliar, almost ear-splitting (because this was Shiemi's garden and there was no way she'd let it wither away like this) sound of dehydrated grass crunching under his feet, Yukio shuddered unconsciously.
Something was wrong— terribly wrong.
"Moriyama-san?" He breathed, venturing further into the decrepit garden. Studying his surroundings, he noticed two shadowed figures crouched inside the old storeroom. A dim beacon of light seemed to glow from the same darkness as he approached, feeling the blood run cold in his veins.
Stepping across the threshold, he saw that Rin and Fujimoto were sitting across from a diaphanous woman with short blonde hair and glowing pale skin. Emerald eyes furrowed with pain at the sight of the brown-haired exorcist. The guilt and despair could be seen plainly on his face, from the beads of sweat that dripped past his brows to the way his lips twisted into a hardened frown, eyes narrowed. He stopped a few feet before her, hands balling into fists.
" You are…" He paused, unable to form the word. Gone. Deceased. Dead.
"A ghost. B-but it's okay, Yuki-chan! I'm not in any pain or anything!" She waved her hands frantically, hoping to rid the boy of his sour expression. Instead, her words, though said in a bright and very Shiemi-like way, only caused the teen even more pain. It felt as if he was rotting from the inside, every organ collapsing under the weight of his sin— his guilt.
She had died because of him. If he had only arrived sooner, if the stupid clown of a principal hadn't assigned him to a different mission… the boy shook his head. No, that wasn't it. He had been a damned coward! He should have rebuked Sir Pheles and gone to the Moriyama residence. First he had been unable to protect his brother and foster-father and now he couldn't even protect arguably the most important woman in his life.
Feeling the sting of angry tears in his eyes, Yukio turned away, unable to look at the cherubic blonde. "You have every right to hate me." He spoke, voice wavering.
The girl's neutral face contorted into a frown. "Why would I hate you? It's not like you could have known—"
"I should have been here! Don't you see, I was given a different mission from Sir Pheles. I-I knew you were sick, but I thought it was just some simple, easily curable illness or curse from a demon. I didn't think… I didn't know… but I should have. I should have saved you!" Yukio yelled, unable to hold back his tumultuous emotions. The usual indifferent and distant façade he kept up was fracturing, splintering until only shards of his mask remained. It was no surprise that tears began to trace the contours of his cheeks. The weight of the past week had finally crushed him, leaving the boy broken and without hope. Faintly, it reminded him of his childhood, when he did nothing but cry at his problems.
Nothing's changed… I'm still the same terrified child. How pitiful.
Moments later Rin grabbed his younger twin's shoulder roughly, eyes narrowing to slits for a few frightening seconds. "Don't you fucking blame yourself! This is all my fault to begin with. If I hadn't taken the damn key then… then Shiemi wouldn't have died. I knew she would be sick, but I didn't do anything. I ran and hid from the Order like a coward. And now Shiemi's a ghost!"
Through his haze of emotions, the bespectacled teen managed to catch an unusual and otherwise unsettling phrase in Rin's speech. What was this 'key?' And what did he mean that he knew Shiemi had been ill?
"What are you talking about, Rin? Why are you acting as if this has all happened before?" Yukio pressed, wiping tears from his eyes. He removed his glasses, cleaning the lenses with the bottom of his exorcist coat. Crouched with the group, he watched as Rin cleared his throat, looking towards Shiro Fujimoto for guidance.
"You'd have to tell him sometime— Shiemi-san as well. This isn't a secret you can keep forever."
Nodding slowly, the dark-haired demon looked worriedly at his twin and the blonde. "I don't really know how to say this, but I'm from a different timeline— a different future. I had made so many mistakes— the old man had died on me and I had to unsheathe Kurikara and everyone thought of me as a monster when they found out what I was and—" The words spilled almost nonsensically from his mouth, so much so that Yukio had to raise a confused hand, stopping the boy.
"Nii-san, I don't understand. How could you have gone back in time?"
"That clown, Mephisto. He gave me a key that took me back in time to before I drew the sword… before fa— the old man, died."
At his words, the atmosphere shifted, leaving the younger twin in a state of shock and disbelief. Shiro Fujimoto was paladin, the strongest exorcist in the Order. He was under the impression that nothing demon related could ever kill the old priest. Yukio imagined that he'd die well into his years, or perhaps from all the cigarettes he had smoked in his youth.
"How did he die?" Yukio spoke, adjusting his glasses. His voice was surprisingly steady as he stared back at his twin, a sick feeling festering in his stomach.
Rin… what did you do?
"…He died protecting me. Satan possessed him, opening a Gehenna Gate. Before Satan could drag me through the Gate, the old man stabbed himself."
A dark silence hung over the four at the half-demon's words, each person absorbing the information. Shiemi looked worriedly over at the white-haired man whose gaze had drifted to the wooden floor beneath them. There was an emptiness in his crimson eyes, as if part of himself wasn't completely there. He looked conflicted, biting his lip with a deep breath.
Yukio felt the bile rise in his throat again as he imagined his adopted father drenched in blood, falling into the ravenous maw of the Gehenna Gate. The visions brought a physical shiver across his body, only interrupted by the sound of heavy boots against the paneled flooring.
"I-I'll be right back. Stay here." The white-haired man informed breathily, stepping out of the storeroom before the teens could react.
Rin cocked his head to the side in confusion, cobalt eyes narrowed. "But I told him about this before… didn't I?"
Yukio shook his head. "I'm sure he's just feeling tired. You two have been on the run for about a week now. The stress of deserting the Order must be getting to him." He reassured his twin, and himself.
Surely the priest was alright. He was paladin, after all. If there was anyone who could take care of Rin, it was Shiro Fujimoto. So why did the sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach remain?
Inside the empty foyer of the Moriyama home Shiro collapsed onto the floor, feeling a searing pain in his heart. Clutching at his chest, the exorcist gasped out for breath, the imagined flames from before dancing across his vision.
"Not again…" He groaned, reaching for his glasses. Ripping them off, he rubbed at his eyes to no avail; the blue flames still bit at his heels, swallowing the room in a sea of cobalt.
"Hahaha, such an unsightly response to one's suicide, isn't it? You died to protect your adopted demon son—do you really think such an action would go without ramifications? You're damned to Gehenna, priest. Damned for an eternity with me."
"You talk a lot, for a demon. If you could really harm me you would have done it by now."
Another chorus of laughter filled his ears, causing the priest to clutch at his head. "Keep telling yourself that; one day, soon, your body will be mine to use. Besides, didn't you feel relieved when you saw that blonde brat? Weren't you glad that she was dead and not you? Come on, I know it's true."
Before Shiro could respond the flames resided, allowing himself to see the blurry figures in front of him.
"O-old man, are you alright?"
"What's wrong, father?"
The trio had just stepped into the house when they saw the silver-haired man curled on the ground, fingers curled against his temples. Now, with a forced grin on his face, Shiro stood up, slipping on his glasses. He winked at Shiemi before giving the twins a rough pat on their shoulders.
"Ya know it sucks getting old! I was just feeling tired—I'm fine now."
Yukio gave a suspicious look, but let it drop for the time, reaching for the bag at his side. He opened the satchel to reveal a printed list of identification cards for exorcists in the Japanese branch. "I meant to give these to you earlier; with this, we should be able to keep away from members of the Order."
A/N: Sorry for the delay guys ^^' It's the end of my senior year so life has been pretty hectic; I hope this chap makes up for the wait at least a little bit! I will do my best to update the next chap sooner, but I can't offer any promises D: Still, I appreciate all the follows/favorites and am always excited to read reviews :3 They make me smile like an idiot at the computer screen.
Anyway, I'll see you guys in Chapter 6! See ya~