Title: Bearing Blue
Chapter twelve: War of the Roses
AN: Yay, an update! Finally, right? :p This is the point in my reworking of the story that things are becoming drastically different than before. So, it's taking me a while to fix each chapter and develop things properly. My bad! :)
"What the hell is this?!"
The moment I saw the blade at my throat, I couldn't contain the shout. Tetsuo, however, was shockingly composed.
"Oh my…how vulgar," he chuckled. "You're just full of surprises, aren't you?
Stunned, I tried to slow my breathing enough to form a ladylike response. Clutching the sheets to my bare chest, I breathed in deep. I had to remember where I was, and who I was meant to be. There was no time for panic. Now was the time for me to be a lady.
"T-testuo-san… you…why are you in my room like this? And armed? What's the matter?"
In the seconds before his response, my gaze darted around the room for any sign of Soujirou. Everything was still, no sign of blood or disruption, or Souji. What the fuck was going on?
"I don't like liars, Kaoru-chan." Tetsuo pulled the blade back and began to turn it over in his hands.
It was then I noticed. The kodachi Soujioru had given me for protection. The one he'd slipped into the fold of my kimono yesterday, and had been sitting in the wet pile of fabric on the floor just feet from the futon.
"I don't understand what you mean." My voice took on a hard edge. "And frankly, Tetsuo-san, I don't think it's appropriate for you to be in here like this when my husband—
"—cut the fucking crap, you little cunt."
Before I could even gasp, Tetsuo was on top of me, his elbows pinning my arms and knees. With his own knee, he forced my thighs apart.
"I think it's about time you stopped with the innocent act, don't you?" He breathed hot against my ear. "After all, I've been watching you all this time. I know just what you're capable of."
My body stiffened up, but I tried not to let any fright play on my features. Tetsuo wasn't just a flirt, he was a sadist, and could have very well been bluffing.
"Again. I don't know what you're referring to." I tried to push up. "And if Sou-chan finds you—
"—let's not go there. By now, little Sou-chan's broken body is probably decaying in an alley somewhere," he chuckled.
Immediately, I bristled. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
"There we go…" Tetsuo touched the tip of the blade to my cheek. "There's the real Kamiya Kaoru."
If Soujirou truly hadn't come back last night, there was no telling what Tetsuo had done. Time and time again Soujirou had told me how dangerous his family was, and it became clear to me that now wasn't the time to play cute. Using all my strength, I raised my knee and tried to connect between Tetsuo's legs. He was too fast for that, of course, but as he moved back, it freed my hands up completely.
Stark naked, I rolled to the side and clambered onto my hands and knees.
"So…it looks like I won't be the first, after all. Pity." Tetsuo's smirk widened as his gaze flickered across the open futon, and the few dark stains of blood there from the night before. My cheeks burned red, but I was too angry to spend time being embarrassed.
"Tell me what you've done with Soujirou!" I shouted.
"All this time... I didn't think he was man enough" Tetsuo chuckled. "Guess he showed me. And you."
"Soujirou is more a man than you'll ever be. And he didn't have to prove anything to me," I hissed.
The line seemed to strike a chord with Tetsuo, and the silly grin on his lips disappeared almost instantly.
"More a man than me?" Tetsuo stepped toward me, seething. "I'll show you what a real man is."
"Where is Soujirou!?" I demanded again.
"Don't worry about that." Tetsuo turned the blade over in his hands a few times before pointing it at me again. "All you need to know is… you're mine now."
"You're supposed to be his brother! What kind of fucked up family is this?!"
"Family?" He spat through a chuckle. "My little bitch…this is war. And the reason I'm here now… is to collect the spoils."
Gritting my teeth, I took a defensive stance. I didn't want to believe it. Soujirou couldn't be dead. It had to all be part of a plan for Tetsuo and his mother to punish him once again.
"You will never have me," I growled. Tetsuo looked highly amused.
"Is that so?"
Before I could blink, he reached into his sleeve and hurled a kunai at my head. It whizzed past my ear and lodged in the far wall, grazing my cheek in the process. As blood ran down my face, I was suddenly overtaken with déjà vu.
"You," I gasped out. "…how long? How long have you been—
"—ever since you set foot in this house, eyes have been on. When we saw that little Sou was getting nowhere with fucking you, we were going to swoop in and dispose of you, but after last night's events…" he paused to chuckle. "Looks like ototo ended up being the only one we needed to get rid of, after all."
"Get rid of?" My mouth was dry as I spoke. Tetsuo started to approach me and I backed up, slowly circling the room to keep him at bay. No longer concerned with my nakedness, I moved quickly, with purpose.
"You lying bastard!" I charged at Tetsuo, swinging blindly.
It took a second before I felt my arm being yanked back, and a searing pain shoot up by back as Tetsuo slammed me against the tatami mats.
"Whatever little parlor tricks ototo taught you are useless with me, bitch." He stood over me, smirking. Staring up at him then, dazed, I found my voice again.
"Soujirou-sama would never die by your hand."
Tetsuo bent closer and I froze up completely.
"You should consider yourself lucky, you know." I felt him trace the tip of his blade along my jaw. "We might not know if you're knocked up yet, but if little souji hadn't finally decided to put his seed in you, you'd be of no use at all to this family."
"You shut your mouth." I grit my teeth through the pain, meanwhile scanning the room in hopes to find something which with to defend myself.
"You have such beautiful skin…" Tetsuo ignored me and instead trailed his gaze to my chest.
The blade pressed at my throat and then down, down between my breasts. At first it was only a sting, but then a deep, throbbing pain that made me gasp.
"You know… I love to hear a woman cry while I fuck her." He grinned, and for one sick moment, I wondered if Soujirou had learned it from him. I knew they weren't truly related, but still, they had that same boyish face. Innocent, yet so lethal.
"Cry!" Tetsuo pinned my arms with his knees. The feel of his full weight on me made me want to shout, but I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction.
The pain grew stronger as he pushed in deeper with the blade, and I could feel a warm wetness trickling down my stomach. Blood.
'Stomach…my stomach…' Panicked, I lashed out.
Again, I swung up with my leg, this time with enough force to connect with Tetsuo's chest. Briefly startled, he grunted and hit the floor.
"Feisty little bitch," he muttered.
"Soujirou is alive," I panted, holding one hand over my bleeding breast. "And as long as we both live, you'll never lay a hand on me again."
Tetsuo, glaring now, flung the kodachi to the side. Its blade caught in the tatami, leaving it standing straight up.
"…you'll never lay a hand on me again!" He mocked. "What a riot. You know, I was going to spare you. You and that fucking demon kid you're probably carrying. But now…"
Tetsuo drew his sword. Moving quickly, I grabbed up my damp yukata from the floor and pulled it around my body. Tetsuo watched as I pulled the strap tight. The once crisp, cream fabric instantly stained red over my chest.
"Now…" Tetsuo reached for his waist and in the blink of an eye, unsheathed the sword there. "Fuck family."
And just like that, it was on. Just as when Soujirou and I had sparred months before, Tetsuo's movements were lightning fast. But unlike then, there was no buffer. Tetsuo held no love for me. He cared nothing about my life or my feelings.
'I won't die here!' I could only focus on the sound of his footsteps, and the light wind that kicked up around me as he drew near. Tetsuo struck, and I just barely managed to jump out of the way, flinging myself into the shoji. The paper crumpled under my weight, but as I fell, snatched up the kodachi in one hand.
"Oh my…you're bold." Tetsuo chuckled, raising his own blade once more. "I'm going to love tearing you apart."
He lunged at me again, and before I even think to raise my sword, I felt a searing hot pain flash against my shoulder. There was an audible tearing, and then the splatter of blood against the tatami.
"S-shit!" I clutched at the wound, gasping out in pain. It was nothing I'd ever felt before, and at that moment, I knew I'd gotten myself in too deep.
"Cry." Tetsuo repeated, this time dangerously close to my ear. "I know that shit has to hurt."
Tears welled up in my eyes, but I refused to let them fall. The moment I tried to blink them away, Tetsuo had vanished, only to appear again over my shoulder, leaning in close.
I gripped the kodachi as firmly as I could, but Tetsuo knocked it from my hands with little effort.
"You will die here." He shoved me forward, onto the floor. I tried to brace myself on my hands and knees, but the pain in my shoulder was too much. My injured arm caved, and forced me to support myself with the other.
Tetsuo let out a roar of laughter, and knocked my good hand out from under me with his foot. My chin hit the floor, sending my teeth through the very tip of my tongue.
I couldn't hold it anymore. Panicked, frustrated, scared, I let out a howl of pain.
"There we go… Face down, ass up. Just the way I like my bitches." He re-sheathed his sword and grabbed a fistful of my hair.
This is it, I thought, mouth full of blood. This is how I die?
I wanted so much to push up and fight, but the pain was overwhelming. I could feel my whole body becoming weak, and all I could taste was blood.
'Souji…' I thought of his smiling face.
If he was dead… if Tetsuo truly had gotten to him…
'Wait for me, Souji.'
"What a coincidence." A boyish chuckle shook me from my stupor. "Me too."
With a pained grunt, I whipped my head around to see the slight edges of a very familiar smile. Suddenly, there was shuffle of feet, and then…warmth all over my skin. I squeezed my eyes shut, expecting to lose consciousness completely, but the pain continued, and was replaced with a heavy weight over my body.
I could hear myself crying, and it startled me. Tetsuo wouldn't miss. He wouldn't leave me alive.
A familiar shout shook me, and all of a sudden, the weight on my body was gone. My own form, heavy, was turned over and when I opened my eyes I saw Soujirou's face, covered in blood.
"S-s…" I couldn't speak. My tongue felt thick – swollen, and each time I tried to form a letter, more blood stained my lips.
"Kami…" Soujirou's eyes were wild with a mix of fear and bloodlust.
My gaze darted to the side and I saw Tetsuo's body, bent over at the waist, a sword through his abdomen. The blade, lodged in the tatami, kept him glued, despite the slow, twitching movements he made in an attempt to push up. A bloody foam oozed from his open mouth.
"Don't look!" Soujirou urged, and forced me on my side. His hands made quick work of my stained yukata, and I could hear him cursing softly as he eyed my body, clearly furious.
I could only gurgle as Soujirou's fingers prodded at my injured shoulder. Quickly, tipped my body to clear the blood from my mouth.
"It…it's not deep," I finally managed to gasp out. "It-it doesn't feel deep. It doesn't hurt."
Soujirou ignored the lie. "We have to get you to Megumi. You have to-"
"-what about you !" I spluttered. I tried my best to lean up and check him over, but Soujirou shrugged off the limp attempt.
"Kaoru, I'm fine!" His tone held a strange desperation, and when I pulled back to look at him, something in Soujirou seemed to melt. My gaze honed in on his shaking hands, and the unconvincing twitch in his smile.
"Souji?" I whispered.
"..It was a setup. The job." He held my body close. "Mother's been dead for weeks. Tetsuo's been leading things and his plot was to have me killed last night so that while I was away he could…"
He hesitated, and I flashed back to the image of Tetsuo on the foot of my bed. Tetsuo knocking me to the floor. Tetsuo lowering himself over my weakened frame.
"You're here now." I clutched his hand with mine, but Soujirou still appeared quite shaken.
"Aa. And now that I am, we need to get to Megumi." He rushed to the closet and started digging around to find something.
At that moment, there was a shifting behind me, and a grunt of pain. I nearly gave myself whiplash looking back to where Tetsuo was splayed out on the tatami. The sword which had once been imbedded in his flesh was now free, and quavering in his hands. Though Tetsuo was obviously in pain, he still managed to stand, a sick smirk on his face.
Warrior fucking spirit.
Before I could get the words out, Soujriou had sprung to attention, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the scene. Two steps. That was all it took. Two steps and Soujirou had maneuvered behind Tetsuo, grabbing him by the crown of his hair to plunge his sword through his throat.
A spray of blood covered the far wall, and Tetsuo's hands immediately fell limp. When Soujriou turned to me, there was a dark, but apologetic look in his eyes.
"H-he…y-you…" I trembled as he dropped Tetsuo's lifeless body onto the floor.
Without speaking, he pushed a bag into my hands, urging me to fill it with clothing. When I remained frozen, finally, he grasped my face in his sticky, wet hands.
"This was never a place for you." He pressed his lips to my forehead.
Soujirou moved quickly through the brush, taking back streets and forest trails all the way to Megumi's. Though I'd wanted nothing put to move and run with him, ever since the scene at the house, I'd been frozen with shock, forcing Soujirou to carry my weight. But even with my added bulk, he moved swiftly through the brush, looking determined, not strained.
"Megumi-san!" He rattled hard on the back gate of her home. I'd only been to Megumi's home a few times when I was little, and was startled by how it seemed things had never really changed.
From the same clean, neat yard to the stunning garden of medicinal herbs and flora.
Instead of Megumi, however, a disgruntled looking man came into view. His hair stood up in unruly spikes, held out of his eyes only by a red bandana. Soujirou's nervous smile quickly came into play, and I feared he might reach for his sword.
"Sa…" I tried, but my mouth was sore.
It was Megumi's husband, Sanosuke. He was rarely at home due to what Megumi said was business, but I always caught the slight roll of her eyes as she explained. According to my father, Sano did indeed run a fishery, but was also quite the gambler. Who knew what came first.
"Kaoru!" His voice boomed, and I stirred weakly in Soujirou's arms.
"Sa…no…" I tried to smile, but could feel my body becoming cold.
All of a sudden my head was light, and I could hear Sanosuke's voice in a muffled tone, snapping something over and over. Soujirou's grip on me was tightening, and then a soft, warmth covered my face.
"It's been days. When will she wake?"
It took me a moment to recognize Soujirou's voice. Usually playful and sure, his tone sounded rough. A coolness, like a wet cloth, pressed against my cheek, and though I wanted to sigh, my tongue felt thick.
"Soon, I'm sure," Megumi answered, and I noticed that she, too, was gruff. "Again, Seta-san, I know you've expressed multiple times a desire to leave your former life, but as it stands, you've put Kaoru in grave danger—
"—Megumi-san," Soujirou cut in. "I assure you, I have plans to put an end to this. Kaoru was…she was never supposed to get hurt."
"Well you fucked up, didn't you!?" Sano boomed. "What was she to you – just collateral damage?!"
At the sudden shout, I tensed, and all talking stopped.
"Kaoru? Kaoru!" Soujirou's arms went around me, and weakly, I cracked open my eyes. Though his face and body were cleansed of blood, he looked worn and older. There was even a bit of bruising under his eye I hadn't remembered seeing before.
"Souji..." I sighed out, but my mouth burned. All at once I remembered the altercation with Tetsuo and how he'd flung me around like a ragdoll.
"You're okay. Conserve your strength." Megumi's voice chimed in from above, and as she leaned over, her hair fell into my face. Using everything in me, I tried to sit up, but Soujirou held me down easily.
"Now is not the time," he smiled, but I could see it was forced. "Rest, and—
"—I've had enough rest," I croaked, and then looked to Sano, who seemed ready to burst with anger. "How long have I been out?"
"Two days," He grunted. "All thanks to your so-called husband."
"Sanosuke." I pushed away Soujirou's hand and pulled up from the futon. A searing pain shot through my shoulder, and I doubled over to catch my breath.
"Kaoru!" All three of them reached for me, but I shook it off.
"None of that, Sagara-san." I finally managed. "You don't know the situation, and…"
"I've told them the situation," Soujirou stroked a hand down my back. "The whole situation. And now they know as well as I do that with Tetsuo out of the way, things will only get worse before they get better."
It took me a long while to process his words. I sat there, clutching my arm, watching three faces watch me. I couldn't believe it had only been two days. Two days, and they all looked so worn. So tense.
"So…what now?" I tried to smile, but my lips trembled.
Soujriou looked over his shoulder at Megumi and Sano. Megumi nodded to him and rose, drifting from the room. Sano looked frustrated, but followed shortly afterward. My heart began to race, and as soon as they disappeared from sight, I clawed for Soujirou's hand.
"Y-you told them? Soujirou…oh God, what do we do now? T-tetsuo and…oh kami we have to go back and clean up and—
Soujirou dropped my hand and reached into his sleeve.
"I have a ticket for you for a train to Nihonmatsu. Fukushima." He spoke, and there distinct flatness to his tone. He was disengaging again; I could feel it.
I tried for Soujirou's hand once more, and he placed a folded ticket in my palm. "Megumi has friends there you can stay with, and I know you'll be safe."
"Where's yours? You have one too?"
"—Show it to me!" I panicked. "Show it to me now!"
Without thinking, Soujirou grasped my shoulders with both hands. I cried out, and he pulled away as if I were on fire.
"—I hurt you." He tried not to smile, but I knew it was like a painful tic. "I hurt you and I've hurt you before so many times. What Tetsuo did…it was my fault. I think of him touching you, hitting you, cutting you…and I'm reminded of how I let you down—
"-Souji…" I tried again, but he shook his head.
"And why we're so wonderful for each other."
His fingertips traced over a sore space on my collarbone, and then down my bandaged shoulder.
"The moment I saw you I knew you were dangerous." Soujirou's smile grew a little wider. "I mean, I'm dangerous, but you…you're deadly."
"You say one thing and I listen. You run and I come to you. You hurt, and it makes me want to kill."
Tears clouding my vision, I dropped the folded ticket and reached out for Soujirou once more. He immediately grasped my hand.
"I'm scared," I murmured. "To go alone. I'm scared to go alone."
"You have to." He wrapped his arms around me. "Because it's only when you no longer hurt that I can put down my sword. It's only when you smile, that I can smile again. A real smile."
"Don't leave me," I began to cry. "Please. Please Souji we can run!"
The more I spoke, the more hysterical I became. I grabbed for Soujirou's face, his shoulders, his legs, desperately trying to anchor myself to his body. With every movement I could feel my stitches pulling, and blood spreading over fresh badnages.
Soujirou let me thrash at first, but when he pressed his thumbs against a point on my neck, I gasped in. "Souji please…"
Before the darkness overtook my senses once more, I felt Soujirou's lips on my ear, and his whisper, soft and warm.
"I'm too tired to run anymore, Kao-chan. I need to rest."