A/N: So, the continuation / sequel to Snake Charmer will be told from Akabane's POV. Here is the first chapter. It starts with Akabane abducting Ginji. There is no rape. But, there is really, really graphic violence. There is also an ass-ton of Akabane-angst: Akabane-san being pushed beyond the tipping point of what little sanity he has angst. I wanted to see if I could pull this off and keep him in character. I think I did to some extent. But, it is hard to pull IC off and be inside his head because I think part of Akabane's character is not knowing what the hell he's thinking about. So, he might be a little off. Read at your own risk. Please no flames. Please review.
His eyes fluttered and opened, but only slightly. I could see through his dark, thick eyelashes that they were glossy and unfocused.
"You passed out," I explained.
The cabin of the trailer we were traveling in swayed slightly. It was mostly empty except for about twelve large boxes stacked against the wall opposite the doors. He must have started to realize where he was because his eyes snapped open now.
"You drugged me," he accused as, wincing, he struggled to sit up.
It was true. I had. Call me old fashioned, but I had used a canister of methyl trichloride, a souvenir from my days in medical school. Then I had administered diazepam intravenously to suppress his electroception. However, that wasn't the only thing I had done.
"I wouldn't," I pushed him easily back down into the position in which I had arranged him, "if I were you."
He looked for a moment surprised and terrified and then what was that look? Humiliation? Perhaps anger? You have such expressive eyes, Ginji-kun. They allow anyone to see right through you. Is it impossible for you to hide any of your feelings?
"What... did you?"
"I put a scalpel inside you," I explained with all the calm of a physician telling his patient he only has a few more weeks to live and none of the sympathy. "If you don't relax you'll cut yourself open."
He reached out and grabbed my sleeve. He strained to produce just a little static charge.
"Why don't," ...I see how far can I push you, Ginji-kun? What will I find when I crack you open? What is it, even, that I want you to show me? "we play a game? To pass the time until Midou-kun arrives."
I could see him begin to know what a predicament he was in. But, I don't think he realized it completely just yet. I suppose, some of this behavior could be explained the drugs. He was still being stubborn and childish. Which is entertaining – but not what I was in the mood for today.
"I don't think I want to, Akabane-san."
"Disappointing, Ginji-kun," I materialized a scalpel in my gloved hand. "Shall I seek my amusement elsewhere, perhaps?" I pressed my tool into the flesh above his eyebrow and drew it towards me. With a feather light touch his skin split open. Blood welled up in the wound and dripped down his temple, into his hair. "Maybe, I'll fillet off your face. Where should I start? With your eyelids?" I traced the blunt end of the scalpel down his nose. "Or your lips?"
Now, he began to grow nervous. His breathing was becoming shallow and rapid. His eyes flickered from side to side as if he were desperately looking for a way out. There wasn't one.
He was acting as if he had never before been acquainted with my lust for blood. I know I had shown this side of myself to him before. However, I suppose that he was getting a little too used to it being convenient for me to derive my amusement from him without hurting him. Either that, or he had convinced himself that there was a glimmer of humanity left in me where I don't believe there is one.
"I'll play with you."
"Good," I could feel myself smile. I am a demon, "this way is much more amusing. The rules are simple. One of us will count to five. The other will decide where I cut you. Every time the person counting hits five I will cut you. Do you understand? Do you want to count or do you want to decide?"
"Why are you doing this, Akabane-san?"
Was that concern on his face? Who was it directed at, me? It was an interesting question, though even if I knew the answer, as did he. For amusement of course. But, it made me wonder - as it usually does when I'm around him - what exactly was it that I was diverting myself from. This annoyed me. What was it about him that made me think this way?
"Count or choose," I felt my eyes narrow, "Ginji-kun?"
"Choose," he blurted as if sensing my impatience.
"One, two, three, four, five."
"You have to decide by the time I'm done counting," I scolded.
I grabbed his foot and made a small indecision above the nail on his big toe just to make a point. The tops of people's feet are very sensitive as are areas of skin which lie almost directly on top of bone. He gritted his teeth. His eyes widened. His body tensed. My blade scraped bone. It must have been excruciating.
"Akabane-san," he cried desperately now that he saw that this was not a joke.
"Five, then you are far too trusting, Ginji-kun." The Akabane he knows? Interesting. Again, he said nothing. "Too slow, again." I took his other foot and did the same with it that I had the first. This time he almost screamed. I could see it in his face. "This is no fun if you don't play along. Do you really want me to start cutting things off?"
"One, two," I quickened my pace this time.
He didn't say anything. He just offered me one hand and covered his face with the other. Ginji-kun, you are so very interesting. I should be asking you, 'Why?' 'Why aren't you begging for your life?' or 'Why aren't you pleading for mercy?' Really: 'Why are you so worried about me when it should be glaringly apparent that you are the one here who is suffering?' What is it you think you see in me, Ginji-kun? I took his smallest finger and made an incision in the pad. Fresh blood blossomed over my blade and spilled onto my hands. I could feel the warmth of it through my gloves. He gritted his teeth.
"One," slower this time. I wanted to watch the fear build in him.
"Two," nothing yet, just defiance.
"Three," panic - for a split second - in his eyes.
His phone started ringing. I picked it out of his pocket and read the screen. It said, 'Ban-chan!'
"Answer it," I flipped the phone open and held it to his face.
"A truck – I'm in a truck," he panted into the phone after listening for a second.
I took the phone from him. I guess something about being deprived of the opportunity to hear his partner's voice made something in him snap because tears welled up in his eyes.
"Ban-chan," he pleaded.
"Still there, Ginji?" the voice on the other end of the line asked. I held one finger up at Ginji-kun.
I smiled. Hello, Midou-kun, "You sure are slow for a tactical genius. Know that? I was sure you would catch me in the act - completely and totally - sure. But, you didn't. It was the most excitement I've had in a very long time."
"Listen, bitch-tits," he roared.
"Bitch-tits?" I held the phone away from my face and turned down the volume. I showed Ginji-kun another finger: two, "That's creative."
"Don't you dare even lay," I held up a third finger, only half listening to the voice end of the line, "so much one of your filthy fucking fingers on Ginji."
"Too late," I smiled down at my prey, held up another finger: four. "You know I'm the only one guarding this cargo. It's just me and the driver and Ginji in this truck. And the driver doesn't even know Ginji is here."
"Fuck you." One last finger: five. "This is way too far you sick shit. I—" He was sobbing abjectly and didn't indicate where he wanted me to cut him so I reached out and sliced his cheek open. He whimpered loudly now. Midou-kun must have heard it because rage swelled in his voice, "God! Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to you when I find you?"
"Well, if you just started driving you're about ten minutes behind us. And we're going about 135 km/h and that is pushing it as far as the speed limit goes. So, even if you drive at speed faster than that – which I don't suggest, there are a lot of cops on this road – you'll probably catch up to us in about an hour. So, I'm not worried about you finding me just yet. But – to answer your question – I think you'll probably do about the same thing to me as I'm doing to Ginji."
"Bastard," he spit. Perfect, I was getting to him.
"I'll take that as a yes. I'll be looking forward to it." Ginji-kun had begun to whimper his partner's name, "Do you want to talk to Ginji again? He is crying out for you."
"No? Okay. Well, you'll have plenty of time to talk later."
I snapped the phone shut and looked down at Ginji. He seemed to have regained some of his composure either that, or I had already pushed him past some sort of edge. His breath was coming in short, shallow puffs. His eyes were glazed over and looking into the middle distance not in front of him but inside his own head, as if he were attempting to retreat into himself. There's nowhere to hide, Ginji-kun.
"One," I started. "Two." He was still not looking at anything in particular. But, his breathing was more even and had slowed. "What are you thinking, Ginji-kun?" I wondered aloud to myself. "Three."
"Did you," he smiled sadly. His eyes were still staring off into the space inside his head, "torture animals as a child, Akabane-san? Did you set fires?"
"Four," I shook my head. Where are you going with this? I was always kind to animals. Once, when I was in the third grade I had shamed my parents by throwing a tantrum in school, refusing to dissect a live frog in science class. They didn't understand why. But, the truth was that it was difficult for me to look at blood without vomiting. It took me until I was almost 20 years old to get over that. Oh, how people change. "Five. No, I didn't." I don't think they would have let me into medical school if I was a child arsonist known to torture animals.
He gave me his hand again. It was shaking. I changed scalpels because the one I had been using was growing dull. I cut him again.
"Then we're the same. Aren't we, Akabane-san?"
"Two." The same? How are we the same, Ginji-kun? I'm not sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult.
"Akabane-san," his brow furrowed, "what made you want to become a doctor?"
When I was in my last year of university the country was on the brink of braking out into war. I had studied philosophy. I had no skills, really. So, I knew I would be drafted into the military and that I would be put on the front lines. The idea of killing anyone was frightening to me. Like I saw it I had two options: become a member of the clergy or become a doctor. I never had much faith in God. I decided that could I take life and death into my own hands. I would become a surgeon.
I graduated medical school at the top of my class, not because I was particularly gifted but because I spent most of my time shut up in my tiny room studying as though the answer to all of mankind's petty problems was written somewhere between the pages of my textbooks about the healing arts. As soon as I finished my residency the war finally started. I was drafted as an officer in the medical core. I had wanted to specialize in pediatrics. But, there aren't any children in the military. At least there weren't until the very end of the war when most of the men of my generation were wiped out.
And I had thought it wouldn't be so bad. That was silly of me.
"Five," he reached out his still trembling hand yet again, "Naivety."
"You wanted to help people," this was more of a statement than a question. "What happened?"
Why all of these questions? Are you trying to distract yourself? Are you trying to distract me? Is that it? Are you trying to delay the cutting? Or are you really, genuinely interested because your mind is too clouded by the disassociative drugs for you to remember where you are?
The war swept through my life like a storm. It ate up everything I knew, everything I thought I could protect. One by one I watched my entire family die. On a Sunday in the spring while my mother worked out in the yard she was blown to bits by a wayward bomb that took out both the house I grew up in and the garden she had put her heart into growing. My little baby sister, who wasn't a baby by then, was down the road when this happened and saw the whole thing. Soon after, she lost her mind. I checked her into a mental hospital. She hung herself with her bedsheets within the same week. I buried them next to one another. Not that it matters. I never visit them.
"I think you must have been a good surgeon."
Except for the fact that I became emotionally attached to my patients I was an excellent surgeon. I remember the first time I felt like it was my fault when a patient of mine who died on the operating table. I felt like I had killed him. They say you're not really a doctor until you've killed someone. I had a hard time accepting that.
The trauma ward was over flowing that day. A factory town close by had been hit hard by a bombardment. I hadn't slept all night. How could I have slept in that bloody sea of men, women and children moaning, crying and writing in pain? There weren't enough beds. At some point we had run out of morphine. I had stayed up making rounds. There were so many of them to care for and against my best efforts they kept dying. No matter how fast I worked, no matter how hard I tried, their lives just slipped through my hands.
The night was hellish. In the morning I thought the worst of it was over. But, just when there was some semblance of calm in the trauma ward a new wave came in. We started turning people away. I remember looking at this young man and thinking that he was just a kid, even though he couldn't have been any more than five years younger than me. He looked like a childhood friend of mine. I took him in even though it should have been obvious that there was nothing I could have done for him. It was a miracle that he had even lived long enough to make it to the hospital. His stomach was all torn up from shrapnel. There was almost nothing left of him to hold his organs in.
I told myself this one, this one would not slip through my fingers. I had barley picked up my scalpel when he gave up the ghost. I watched his heart stop. I knew there was nothing I could have done for him really. I knew it. But, I could not accept it. I just wanted something to hold on to. I reached into him and tried to start his heart beating again with my bare hands. It took the nurse a full five minutes to convince me to pronounce him dead.
"But, you watched a lot of people die. Didn't you?"
Death is simply the irreversible cessation of circulation of blood in the body of the person or irreversible cessation of all function of the brain of the person. To live is for blood to continue to circulate and for the brain to continue to function. That's what I started telling myself after about a year on the front. As I recall, that's about the time we started running out of supplies. I started wearing the same lab coat every day. The sleeves started to turn a rusty brown because the bloodstains refused to come out, no matter how hard I scrubbed. I started to look more like a butcher than a doctor. That's how I started to feel, too.
"Maybe, some of them were people you loved?"
Yes, there were people that I loved who died. But, that was foolish. The human body is just oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen and some other trace elements. People are just skin and hair and blood and bones and cartridge and muscle. What is there to love about that? Nothing, I reminded myself, absolutely nothing. But, something didn't feel right. There was a tugging in my chest.
"You thought a lot of sad things like, 'It's my fault because I couldn't save them,' and a lot of angry things like, 'I would be better off just killing everyone, making someone else feel this way instead,' didn't you Akabane-san?"
The tugging sensation had started to ache. I tried to push it out of my mind. However, those infectious little lies were knocking instantly, trying to speak. I found that I was concentrating so hard on trying to keep them out of my mind that I had forgotten what number I was on.
"It hurt a lot. Didn't it? You hated yourself for it and that made you hurt even more? It hurt so much that you forgot who you were, forgot what it was to be afraid."
At some point, I gave myself up to the monster that had eaten everything I knew. I put the idea of death out of my head, hollowed it out, evacuated my heart. Now, in the emptiness my emotions just echo for a moment and defuse. Maybe to feel differently than this is to live and the opposite of that feeling that I don't have is to die.
"Does forgetting really make it better?"
I watched the blood coagulate on Ginji's temple, "I haven't forgotten any of it."
"Doesn't it get lonely?"
"Lonely?" it was hard to fit my mouth around the word. I repeated it as if I had forgotten its meaning. Maybe I had.
"Yeah, you know," he almost laughed, "isn't it kind of lonely just killing everybody all the time?"
The tugging in my chest twitched painfully. This was starting to piss me off. I growled, "Five."
I didn't wait for him to indicate where he wanted me to cut him. I reached out impulsively and covered his mouth to muffle the scream I knew would erupt from him as I reached out stabbed him through his shirt. I did not cut deep but his face scrunched up and he started crying again.
"One," I removed my hand from his mouth. He whimpered as I pulled the scalpel out. My gloves were covered in his spit and sweat and tears and blood.
"You poor, sick bastard," he was bawling.
"Two." Why am I the one in this situation who is to be pitied?
"I can see how fucking lonely you are written in those eyes of yours," he accused.
"I can hear it every time you laugh," he continued. He sounded almost angry now.
He panted, "You pathetic, lonely, lonely demon."
He gave me his hand again. I reached out and covered his airways as I put his hand down on the floor and stabbed my scalpel clean through his thumbnail. He made some horrible muffled sound like a wounded animal. That would shut him up. I kept my hand over his nose and mouth a moment longer just to make sure.
He screamed under my hand.
I let go. He gasped for air.
"You sad, lonely mother-fucker," he almost whispered. "If you weren't so lonely me telling you that you are wouldn't be pissing you off so much."
"Five," I was about ready to kill him even though that was not at all what I had originally intended. "Honestly, Ginji-kun, I'm about to cut your tongue right out of your head and watch you drown in your own blood."
"You wouldn't," he sobbing. "You wouldn't. You wouldn't."
"Well, maybe you would."
He sobbed and laughed and choked on his snot and hyperventilated and then laughed and sobbed some more. I didn't see what was so funny or what was so sad. His strange display of emotion was kind of disgusting to me.
"Why the fuck is that funny?" I snapped. I surprised myself. I don't usually swear.
"I might be the only friend you've got. But... you'd still kill me. Akabane-san, it's so sad it's funny."
Suddenly, it felt like it pulled whatever had been the aching and tugging free, leaving a hole somewhere above my stomach that had been plugged up torn open. Everything which usually lingers distantly like an old scar came undone like a fresh wound. It was so painful that I almost struggled to catch my breath. There was something wet on my face. He was right. I would kill him even though he's the only one who is kind to me.
"Akabane-san, you monster, you monster, you monster," Ginji reached up and touched my cheek. The open wounds in his fingers smeared blood with the wetness. They mixed together and trailed down his arm, dripping onto the floor. His tired eyes and his bloody, tear stained face were nervous yet somehow angry and caring all at once, "Don't cry about it. Just don't fucking kill me."
This might be it. This is what I wanted to see from you, this is what I find so fascinating about you. In a way you are just like I was when I was young. But, I see now why people follow you like you're some sort of savior, a surgeon for the soul. Those eyes of yours, they see right through people. And your words cut the demons right out of peoples' heads.
The power of the boy Amano Ginji is much more frightening than the power of the Lightening Emperor. He's pushed me to the edge without even lifting a finger. Right from the beginning I was stabbed in the heart. I just didn't know I had been bleeding. Yes, just now, I suppose you had almost killed me, Ginji-kun.
An odd thought occurred to me. Could it be that's what I want? Maybe, if I take that hand you keep offering me, could you lift me out from all of the wrong I've done? I reached up slowly and took his hand in mine. It was warm and trembling almost imperceptibly.
This is not what I want. I don't need your surgery, Ginji-kun. After all, you can't bring something back to life once it has died and can't kill something that's already dead. So, get your knives away from me and leave my soul alone. I removed his hand from my face and let it go.
If you listened close enough, in that silence you probably could have heard me snap back from my newly recovered humanity with a sickening 'crack, pop, crunch,' like a bone being reset in its socket. The hole in my chest seemed to close. The emotions drained from me like pus from a wound, the pain resided and I was numb. Death, regret, sorrow, once again they were somebody else's problem.
I turned again to my victim and asked, "Why don't we switch? How about you count for a while?"