A/N: Okay, this is the sequel to my fic, "Tourniquet". Let's see how many of you who read the last one guessed correctly who came in at the end!
Disclaimer: I don't own Furuba; again, just on a non-profit writing spree!
Warnings: Suicide and depression
Main Characters: Sohma Yuki, Sohma Ayame, Sohma Kazuma, and Sohma Kana
Additional Notes: This isa SEQUEL!
Chapter 1: Into the Pit
"No!" Ayame's wide eyes stared for a moment before he ran to the dog and dragon. He fell to his knees beside them, his face white and panicked. "Shigure! Hatori! Dear gods, answer me!"
They didn't move and the acrid smell of blood wafted from the floor; Ayame could taste the bile in the back of his throat as the smell threatened to overcome his senses, but he pushed it aside. "Shigure, this isn't funny! Wake up!" he said, his voice pleading and desperate. "Hatori…please…don't do this to me!"
He hesitantly reached out, brushing his thin fingers down Shigure's white cheek. His skin was as cold as ice, Hatori's no better. "Gure-san…Tori-san…"
His wide golden eyes were stinging, the crystal stardrops already falling to shatter on the ground below the suns. "What…what have you done…?"
Why have you left me…?
He began to shake them, kissing the cold faces, hitting them in a frantic attempt, a dying hope, to prove they were still alive. "Why!"
He buckled into himself, sobbing as he lay there, next to his dead companions, his life-friends, his only treasured ones. His hand hit something and he looked up, tears still streaming down his moon-white face. He pulled it to him, swallowing as he saw what it was, a lump lodging itself firmly in his throat, choking him, as his grip tightened on the handle of the bloodstained knife.
Why… What drove you to this…? He closed his eyes, holding the knife to his chest. Why didn't you tell me? I…I don't want to be alone… Come back!
"SHIGURE! HATORI!" They couldn't hear him, no matter how loud he screamed. They were gone. He was alone. There was no one on which he could ever depend, ever love again. Nothing was left but Miine and the store. But what was that compared to what had been lost? "No…no…no…no…no!"
He moaned, his back arching, curling into himself, spidery hands clutching his skull, the knife still clutched in one hand. He felt sick, imagining an existence without the two he had depended on the most, loved the most. The pillars of his life were gone, there was no support left. He crumbled.
"We'll always be waiting for you Aaya; we won't leave you, really. We're just waiting up ahead. Promise." The soft caressing smile of a ten-year-old boy, chocolate eyes laughing and reassuring, calming, now lost forever.
"Yea Ayame, if we ever do leave, we're just up ahead, waiting. So don't waste time, all right? Hurry and catch up." Jade eyes, jaded eyes forever lost to him now.The pain was too much; Ayame couldn't bear it. He took a shaking, ragged breath and looked again at the knife. I'm coming…wait a little longer Gure-san…Tori-san…just a moment longer…
He went to the window, tears staining his cheeks as he gazed out at the woods; so peaceful, so unaware it was. He leaned against the frame, loosely holding the knife in his shaking hand, feeling empty and lost, running through woods with no path to guide him any longer. He sighed and returned to the two he had always thought would be there for him.
He sent a fleeting look at the dog and dragon as he poised the knife above his wrist, kneeling on the hard wood floor next to the cold pair. He looked back to his task. He could almost imagine the blue veins of his wrist throbbing, pulsing with the life he would soon cut short. He took a deep breath, preparing himself. I'm coming…
The knife was ripped away from him before he could make that cut; the final barrier between him and his two treasured ones still stood. His face snapped up and gold and violet met, one wide, horrified as his had been before, the other sad, lost, alone, desperate for deliverance. "Yu…ki…"
"Nii-san!" gasped the rat, falling to his knees, the knife in his hand. "What happened…?"
The tears slipped across the smooth alabaster skin. "Gone… Tori-san…Gure-san…gone…"
Yuki swallowed. "But…but how…? Why?"
"They left… Alone… No!" He broke, shattered; the last of his strength drained, the pain all-consuming in its flames. He fell into startled arms; his body was wracked with sobs as he clung desperately to what he knew wasn't what he wanted, but still he held on. He was distraught, needing the touch, the reassurance that all wasn't lost.
Yuki, startled and surprised by the hysterical snake, drew back, eyes wide. Ayame was left to himself, his thin frame convulsing in sobs on the floor, hands clutching at the dog and dragon whimpering his mantra, "Don't go…don't go…wait for me!"
"Dear gods," muttered Yuki, scrambling to his feet and backing across the room to the black phone. The number he dialed was one he hadn't even thought of for over a year, if not longer.
"Yuki? What is it?" asked Kazuma; the dojo master seemed startled.
"Please, Shihan, you have to come! It's Nii-san! Please, hurry!"
"I'll be right there…"
A click and a dial tone. The rat hung up, panting as he again turned to the snake writhing on the wooden floorboards. "Nii-san…"
Yuki swallowed; he'd never before heard the snake sound so longing, so pleading, and it was terrifying him. "Nii-san…please, help is on the way…everything will be all right…"
"NO!" shrieked Ayame, thrashing, his skull in a white-knuckled grip, his long nails drawing blood from his tender scalp. "IT WILL NEVER BE ALL RIGHT! THEY LEFT ME!"
Yuki chewed his lip, trying with all his willpower not to look at the dog or dragon, knowing that if he did, he would fall apart with the reality of it as well. He kneeled next to the shivering lump that was Ayame. "Nii-san…Nii-san…please… Please, Shihan is coming, he'll be here soon!"
"Gone! THEY'RE GONE!" Ayame's eyes were wild with grief and pain as he began to hyperventilate, his face becoming all the more pale as he stared, horrified, at the two bodies intertwined.
What do I do! WHAT DO I DO! Yuki's hands were shaking as he ran them through his hair, anxiously waiting for anyone to come, anyone to find them. He wasn't sure how much longer he could stay clam, how much longer he could hold it together.
The rat's eyes snapped up to the doorway. He hesitated, hastily grabbing the knife as an afterthought, before running out to the hall and into Kazuma's startled arms.
"Yuki! What's going on? Where's Ayame?"
Yuki gulped, trying to swallow around the lump lodged in his throat. "They're…they're dead!"
Kazuma's gray eyes narrowed. "Who's dead Yuki?"
"Hatori! And Shigure!" cried the rat. "Upstairs, in Shigure's study!"
Kazuma frowned and glanced toward the room the rat had indicated. "Stay here." He ran to the room, leaving the shocked boy in the hall. He threw open the door to see Ayame, shaking with sobs on the hardwood floor, clinging to the stone-cold bodies of Hatori and Shigure.
Kazuma swallowed and went to the snake, knowing at once there was nothing he could do for the dog or dragon. "Ayame-kun," he said softly, resting a comforting hand on the distraught man's shoulder. "Ayame-kun, please, everything's going to be all right, it'll be all right…"
"GET AWAY FROM ME," screeched the snake, jerking out of reach, eyes wide and feral, rolling their sockets. He hugged himself, rocking back and forth, eyes wide and shocked as they scanned the room, lingering on the bloodstains and the two cold bodies. "Stay away…"
Kazuma watched, his heart breaking for the snake. "Ayame-kun…you can't help them…come on…let's get you out of here…"
"No!" hissed Ayame, drawing away from the dojo master. "I won't leave them!"
"Ayame-kun, they're dead," he said softly. "Let them go…"
The snake's eyes were pleading, confused, terrified, as they stared back at Kazuma's gray ones. "No…no…Gure-san…Tori-san," he choked slightly, "They can't be gone…they can't be!"
Kazuma sighed, his eyes closed as he pulled the snake to him, enveloping the shaking body. "I'm so sorry Ayame-kun…I'm so sorry…"
Tears were streaming from the cracked golden suns, the thin hands gripping the dojo master's kimono in an iron grip. "No… No…"
Kazuma bit his lip hesitantly before sliding his hand up from the trembling man's shoulders to the side of his neck, putting pressure on the pressure point there and holding Ayame to him as the snake lost consciousness, his body going limp in Kazuma's arms. The dojo master sighed and gathered the snake up, bridal-style, and finally escaped the eerie, blood-soaked room.
He looked over to see the rat's wide and questioning violet eyes. "Yuki…call…call…" Call whom? Hatori's gone…as well as Shigure… Who do we look to now?
Kazuma looked up. "Kana," he whispered. Hatori-kun's Kana… "Yes, Kana. Call the dojo as well, tell Kunimitsu to inform Akito of what has happened…"
Yuki nodded dazedly and left to do as he was told. Kazuma sighed, looking toward the ceiling and holding the unconscious man closer to his chest. Shigure…Hatori…why? Why?
He looked down at Ayame's blank face, at the frowning and drawn mouth, the grimace of pain that came, not from being unconscious, but from the loss of everything he knew or had known. I'm sorry Ayame-kun… This should have never had happened to you…you didn't deserve to be deserted…little one…
He shook his head, gray hair swaying, and began toward the nearest bedroom, Yuki's. Going inside, he laid the cataleptic snake on the soft white sheets of his brother's bed, pulling the downy comforter up to the silver-haired man's chin before smoothing back the wisps framing the man's pale face. Dear God…help him… Please…
Kazuma sighed and quietly left the snake to whatever dreams the man might have, praying that were kind to him. He shut the door and went to find Yuki. By the time Kazuma found the rat, Yuki was standing stock-still at the window staring dazedly out at the woods, his left hand gripping the windowsill in a white-knuckled grip, the other still clutching the bloodied knife.
"Yuki." Kazuma's voice was soft as he tried desperately to keep the tremble from it. "Did you call Kana-kun? And Kunimitsu?" The rat nodded, not looking away from the gently swaying branches stirred by some unseen wind. "Yuki…please, say something…"
The dojo master sighed wearily; he'd known the question was coming but he still had no answer for it. He'd asked the say thing when his own parents had died, as had Kyo when his mother committed suicide. "I…I honestly don't know Yuki…it could have been anything. But perhaps…perhaps it was love…"
"Love!" roared Yuki, spinning to face Kazuma, his violet eyes wide, livid, and frightened, "Love? How is that love?"
Kazuma shook his head. "You know as well as I that the Sohma family, for its cursed members, is more like a prison, a cage. You remember what happened with Kana-kun and Hatori-kun, don't you?" Yuki's eyes narrowed. "Shigure was there as well. He watched the entire scene and its aftermath unfold. He saw Hatori-kun sink into depression and he knew he could do nothing to help."
"That doesn't explain anything!"
"Ah, but it does," said Kazuma, pulling the boy to him, comforting him. "Perhaps Shigure-kun and Hatori-kun grew closer than they could have ever imagined… They knew their love would never be permitted by Akito-san. So, rather than pretend it never existed, they went somewhere Akito-san could never follow, never stop them, never hurt them…"
Yuki looked up at Kazuma, his violet eyes wondering. "But still…why? They didn't have to…kill themselves…"
"I know, Yuki," whispered Kazuma. "It's hard, I know, but please, there's nothing that can be done for them; Ayame is the one who needs us now…"
The rat swallowed. "Why did they leave him like that? He was about to join them when I found him…dear God, he almost…"
"Ssh," whispered Kazuma, rubbing the rat's back in an attempt to calm him. "He's fine now…we'll make sure he doesn't end up like Shigure-kun or Hatori-kun," he reassured, his voice trailing off. There was a knock on the door and Kazuma looked up. "Kana-kun…"
He gave the rat one last comforting look before going to the door; he opened it to a pair of worried liquid hazel eyes. Kana stood uneasily on the stoop, her eyes searching gray as she chewed her bottom lip. "Kazuma-san…"
Kana nodded and came in, glancing from side to side nervously. "What happened? Yuki-kun called, but he didn't say…"
"Shigure-kun…and Hatori-kun…they're dead…"
Hazel eyes widened and her lithe frame went rigid. "…What?" Yuki watched silently as Kazuma explained as calmly as he could to the young doctor what had happened before turning just as silently back to the window and the lonely forest. Kana swallowed dryly, disbelief clear in her voice when she finally spoke. "H-How?"
"Knife." A small gasp escaped her throat and her hand went to her trembling lips, the other fisted at her small breasts. "Suicide; they slit their wrists… I'm sorry to put this on you, Kana-kun, but there are no other Sohma doctors…"
She nodded, her eyes hazed and distant, her brow furrowed as some half-remembered scene floated to her mind.
Blood…so much blood… Shattered shards of a vase scattered around a kneeling figure, blood dripping from his hands that covered his face; the red flowing sluggishly down his wrists and arms, staining the floor beneath him…
Her face snapped once more to Kazuma's, the dojo instructor's features lit with concern. She nodded once. "Show me."
He nodded and turned, heading for the upstairs study that had served as the dog's private writing room. She followed, a disquieting sense of foreboding permeating the air around them, lighting her fragile nerves with fire. They paused at the door, Kazuma turning to regard her with sad and knowing gray eyes, eyes that knew something she did not. Before she could identify his look he turned away and quietly opened the door.
Her head began to pound and she hissed lightly in annoyance.
Blood… Happiness gone… Loving emerald eyes and a kind smile… Something…something wrong… Something's wrong! But what? What can't I remember!
She sighed and took a deep breath, preparing herself the sight ahead, the acrid smell already warning her of its gruesome outlook. She took the last few hesitant steps to the door, swallowing anxiously.
Someone screaming… Salt water? Fresh water? Which was it!
She was sweating she realized suddenly as a drop of the perspiration dripped off her small nose. She wiped it away hurriedly and chewed her lip, still too uneasy to take the last step and look inside.
"Akito-san…Kana and I…we…we wish your permission to marry…"
She gasped lightly and took the step. Her hazel eyes met the sight and something inside broke, collapsed in a torrent of lost reminiscences.
"Kana-chan, hurry! Help Hatori…"
"Kana-kun?" Kazuma's voice was distant, wispy like a long forgotten fog to her.
"If Hatori goes blind, it's your fault! It's your fault! It's your fault! It's your fault! It's your fault!"
She wasn't even aware of her knees hitting the rough floorboards as she fell to them, her eyes locked with her once-fiancé's cold face. "Oh God…"
"Thank you…Kana…it's…all right now."
"There's…nothing there to hurt anymore."
"Oh God, why?" The tears came, falling to the floor from hazel eyes. She sobbed into her hands as she stared unable to look away but unwilling to believe. Kazuma rubbed her back, trying to soothe her, understanding what she knew now, the secret he had helped to keep from her.
She took a deep and shaky breath, grasping to control her trembling. "Oh Hatori…why," she whispered as the dojo master helped her to her feet.
"Kana…are you all right?"
Her woolen sleeves were rough and not at all comforting as she wiped away her tears, breathing deeply and willing the rush of memories to stop, or at least slow. She swallowed dryly, her hazel eyes still wet with tears. "I…I'll be all right…I hope…"
"Kana-kun…you don't have to do this."
She glanced at Kazuma. "No. I'll be fine." A humorless smile curled her lips. "Besides, who else will if I won't?"
Kazuma didn't answer and she didn't wait for one. Her footfalls were light and hesitant as she crept toward the cold bodies she now remembered so well. She looked at Shigure first, feeling his cold neck for any sign of life to no avail. She could remember how he had always flirted with her while she prepared him for his checkup, how he'd joke and laugh with her, his chocolate eyes so jovial, his smile so teasing. She swallowed again.
Her eyes seemed to close of their own accord as she turned to Hatori's lifeless corpse. Her fingers lightly brushed down his cold cheek and a small whimper escaped her lips. She checked for a pulse, any life, any hope. There was none. A single tear fell to land softly on his cold cheek before running a slow course down the curve to the floor, leaving behind a silver starlit trail as though he had shed one last tear for her, for everything.
She could feel her eyes burn, the tears threatening to fall again.
"Thank you…Kana…it's…all right now. There's…nothing there to hurt anymore."
She took a breath and straightened, her hazel eyes clear but pained. Hatori…I'm still happy to have met you… And I will still forever and always miss you… She turned to Kazuma. "They're dead, both of them. No further examination is needed…"
The dojo master nodded. "Kana-kun…that's not all…"
"What?" She frowned.
He turned away, exiting to the hall, beckoning, "Come." She followed him as he led her down the hall to a closed door. She prayed for a bloodless room, that she wouldn't have to pronounce anyone else dead. Kazuma opened the door and Kana could see that the door led to a clean bedroom.
A small dresser sat in the corner next to a desk with a chair and an unlit lamp. The blinds on the window were closed and only a few lonely shafts of sunlight could illuminate the dim room. In the middle of the room was a bed and on it she could see only a mass of silver-white hair spilling over the pillows and covers, the person's face turned away from her in sleep.
Her hazel eyes widened. "You mean…"
"He was the first to find them," said Kazuma quietly. "Yuki said…Yuki said he tried to kill himself as well…"
Kana looked back at the sleeping man, a new light of pity in her liquid eyes. Ayame… She swallowed as she approached the bed, careful not to wake the sleeping snake.
She could see the man's face, it was drawn, pained, anguished; she softly, gently brushed her thin fingers across his hair, caressing his smooth cheek, a tear shimmering in her eyes for him. "Ayame-kun…
A small, frail whimper forced its way from the snake's throat as he curled inward, flinching at her touch. Silver hair blanketed his face as he shivered. Kana could do nothing for him as she watched, tears once again sliding down their paths to fall to the floor.
She turned to Kazuma. "Th-there's nothing I can do for him right now…not while he's asleep…"
A/N: That's it for the first chapter. I do so hope you…"liked" it, though I'm not sure it's the kind you actually "like"—more the kind that reminds you of a car wreck you can't tear your eyes away from. Oh well. You wanted a sequel. Now then, please, review!