Author's Notes: Okay, it's a bit of a short chapter, but there's a lot of Reaper-ness in it

Author's Notes: Okay, it's a bit of a short chapter, but there's a lot of Reaper-ness in it! Speaking of which, this part is violent. WARNING: TORTURE-RELATED VIOLENCE! There, consider yourselves warned.

Chapter 12—Blood From Old Wounds

The four Rockets tore out of the gym, running as fast as they could from the red-and-blue flashing lights that drew closer and closer to the gym. Lani led the way.

"We have to get out of town!" she called over her shoulder. "If we're caught, the boss'll have our heads!" No one argued her point, not even Slater, so she continued to run. As they reached an empty street, Lani slowed to look back at her teammates. Slater and Angel were still fairly close behind, but for some reason, Reaper was not. Lani stopped running and turned around completely, searching for the Houndoom boy. Finally, she saw him a little ways back. He was standing in front of a run-down house that was flanked by two empty lots.

Angrily, Lani shouted at him, "Reaper! We have to go! The cops'll find us if we stay this close to the gym!" He turned his head slowly towards her, a twisted smile on his face. A shiver of fear ran through the girl unbidden.

"They won't search this house," he said. "It's rumored to be haunted. Every person in this miserable little hell-hole avoids this place. No one even wants to live near it. We'll be safe if we stay here for the night."

"Haunted? Oh, please!" Slater scoffed. "There's no psychic in the world that's afraid of ghost pokemon. Who do you think you're kidding, Reaper?"

Reaper smirked, baring his fangs. "Who said the ghosts here were pokemon?" With that enigmatic statement, he walked through the unlocked front door.

After a brief pause, Lani shrugged. They might as well, she figured, and went into the house as well. Slater and Angel followed behind her.

The interior of the house was less than threatening. Old pictures still hung on the walls and furniture, though covered in dust, still appeared to be sturdy. In fact, the house and its furnishings did not look very old, just unused.

"Weird," Lani commented, scanning the building. "Hey, Reaper, how did you know about this place?"

"Memories," was his response. Then he growled slightly, holding his arm. It was still bleeding from the slash he had gotten from Angel. "Now, if you would be so kind as to excuse me, I've got to take care of this before it gets any worse." He walked off into a different part of the house. Lani watched him as he left. She could not help but wonder what he had been talking about.

"You guys can do whatever you want, just don't leave the house," she said to Angel and Slater, then she went after Reaper. He hadn't gone far and she found him in the next room. It looked to have been the dining room at one time. Reaper was sitting on a dust-covered chair, attempting to apply one of the potions he had bought to his injury. It was difficult, seeing as how his hand was still coated in blood and the awkward location of the wound.

"Hey, why don't you let me do that?" Lani asked from the doorway. Reaper turned to her, slightly surprised, then nodded. She walked over and took the potion bottle from him and began dabbing the liquid on the wound. It started to close up almost immediately.

"Silent as a cat," Reaper commented. "I didn't even hear you following me."

"Okay, it's time for you to spill," Lani said, ignoring his remark. "I want to know about all that stuff in the graveyard and this house and the TM you bought."

Reaper smirked. "Don't jump too far ahead in the game, dear Lani. Have you solved the first puzzle yet?"

"I think they were your parents," she answered with a slight frown. Lani did not want to play Reaper's strange game. She wanted to know what his deal was right now.

"Correct. I knew you were a smart one, dear Lani. Now, let us address your concern with the TM I bought. It was number 42. Do you know which pokemon skill that is?"

Lani closed her eyes in concentration, trying to recall the name of TM 42 from her training in Team Rocket. Finally, she remembered and said, "It's an attack called Dream Eater, but what does that have to do with anything? I didn't think you owned any pokemon."

"No, I don't. The TM was for me."

"What?!" Lani exclaimed. "You can't use a TM! Humans can't…" Her voice trailed off as she realized what Reaper was hinting at. "Are you saying that we can use pokemon attacks because we're part pokemon?"

Reaper gave her a knowing look. "For the most part, yes. However, I discovered that our human parts corrupt the attack, giving it a slightly different effect. Do you want to know why I chose Dream Eater instead of some different attack?"

"Of course I wou—Hey, what's this?" Lani interrupted herself. The gash she had been tending to was almost completely gone now, but she had discovered something else. There was a large scar on Reaper's upper arm. It looked like a bite mark, most likely from a rodent of some kind. "Did you get bitten by a Rattata or something here?" she asked, touching the scar. To her surprise, Reaper snarled at her and jerked his arm away. He stood up from the chair, nearly knocking it over.

"It's nothing," he growled. "Just a reminder of what happens to those who trust others. You would do best to forget about it." He narrowed his eyes at her dangerously.

Lani was speechless. This was the first time she had seen The Reaper lose his control.

The half-Houndoom took her silence as an affirmation. He regained his composure and said, "I've got other matters to attend to, and I would recommend that you get some sleep. Oh, and should you hear any sort of screams, don't bother to come looking for the source. I don't like to have my work interrupted." Reaper turned away from Lani, his long coat stirring up the dust on the floor, and left the room in search of Angel. He still had to punish that boy for his interference.

He found the boy shortly. To Reaper's delight, Angel had chosen to retreat to the basement of the house. With a sadistic grin, Reaper descended the stairs. Angel heard his footsteps and looked up at him. His blue eyes reflected only hatred for the other.

"What do you want?" Angel asked curtly.

"You interfered in my business," Reaper said simply. His gaze wandered around the basement. Everything, from the sound of trickling water to the cracked walls to the pipes running just under the ceiling, was just the same as when he was here last…

"What business what that?" Angel snapped. "I did just as I was told back at the gym."

"Oh, the tangled web you weave!" Reaper laughed cruelly. "You were going to let her escape, weren't you? Just let her run right by you to freedom? Well, I can't have that, especially not with her." He reached into his coat and withdrew a length of rope. Then he grabbed Angel by the front of his shirt and pulled him forward. Angel struggled to break free, but he was not strong enough. Soon, Angel's shirt and jacket were removed and his wrists were bound to one of the pipes along the ceiling. He glared at Reaper, but that was about all he could do.

Oh, what should I do to you?" Reaper said with a nasty smile. "It's really a shame that we're away from headquarters. I don't have all my toys. I guess I'll just have to make due with what I've got." He reached into his coat once more, this time pulling out something that resembled several ropes all tied together. One end was a solid handle and the other end was all loose rope. Each loose rope was tipped with a sharp sliver of bone.

Reaper turned it over in his hands, letting Angel see it perfectly. "It's wonderful, isn't it? I made it myself, you know. Compact enough to be carried easily, but still strong enough to make a grown man scream in pain." Reaper glanced up at Angel, but the boy would not allow him the satisfaction of any sort of reaction. Reaper continued, "It's called a cat o' nine tails, and was used mostly on ships with sailors. Of course, if we were on a ship right now, I think I'd have to keelhaul you instead, but that's not an option right now, is it?" he asked, grinning wildly. Then he circled his captive until he was standing behind him. The sadist raised the cat o' nine tails, then brought it down on Angel's back. The slivers of bone ripped skin clean off, leaving nine bloody gashes where they had hit. Angel winced, but refused to cry out.

"No more talking to Emery." The cat o' nine tails lashed down again. "No more touching her." Another lash. "Don't even look at her." Another lash and another. The tool for punishment continued to fall, rending flesh from bone, tearing deeper and deeper each time. Blood coated each of the nine barbs and splashed to the floor around Angel's feet.

Finally, Reaper halted his torture. He lowered the cat o' nine tails, admiring the work he had done on Angel. Gruesome slashes crisscrossed on the boy's back. It almost appeared that he was wearing a bleeding checked shirt. Angel dangled from the rope, his breathing shallow. Reaper walked around so that he was standing in front of the boy again.

"Do not interfere again," Reaper told him in a low growl. "I went easy on you this time. Should you try anything else with Emery, I'll kill your Eevee." He punched Angel in the face, causing him to swing slightly. Then Reaper left the basement, climbing the stairs to the first floor. As he was walking into a different room, he passed Lani. With a slight smile, he said to her, "You might want to take some potions down to the basement. We can't have Angel dying just yet."

"What did you do?" she asked him, slight traces of worry entering her voice.

"Only what was necessary," he answered. He rubbed the bite scar on his arm absently. "After all, isn't that what friends are for?"

Author's End Notes: Yeah, I know everyone wants to kill me now. So, what's the deal with Reaper and this house? Where did his scar come from? It's going to be addressed in his vignette, which is getting closer and closer, I assure you. Oh, and about the cat o' nine tails: yes, it is a real torture device used by sailors back in the day. After it was used on someone, that person was usually referred to mockingly as having a "checked shirt." That's all for now. I'm going to try to get Angel's vignette out by the end of this week.