Happy people can be so cruel.
- Claudia Wolf Silent Hill 3
The ambulance finally drove away from the entrance to the subway. Sasuke stood, looking out his window, not saying or doing anything, just as he had been for the past hour. He hadn't been able to help him. He hadn't been able to help Starla, even though he had just met him only an hour ago, and it killed him. He hated it. Not only had he lost the one and only person that he had talked to in days, he had lost control of the situation. He had not been able to help the other man, and in his mind, it was a sign of defeat, a white flag of surrender from his side of the battle field. And it was a battle. He just didn't know who or what his enemy was.
Sighing, Sasuke stepped away from his window, sick of everything, especially himself. Being cooped up in a room for days on end really makes you start to hate yourself, he mused. Turning on the radio again, he managed to pick up the same conversation he had heard the police and the paramedics having just seconds before.
Marks etched in his chest, stall covered in blood... no sign of any fingerprints or any evidence of anyone else being there. Sasuke could tell that the police were astounded and completely frustrated by the lack of clues and evidence. They even found the murder weapon, a small exact-o knife like the ones used to open boxes, but there wasn't a single fingerprint...
That, however, wasn't why Sasuke was listening (or rather eavesdropping on) the cops conversation. He trying to make absolutely sure that Starla was dead, trying to determine if his suspicions were correct or not, and as it usually happened, they were.
If you die in the otherworld, you die in real life.
"Great, just great." He muttered, "Another reason to not fall asleep..."
"Keep up, or I'll leave you behind!"
"Ooh, threats from the guy with his leg in a splint."
"Come here and make me!" Kiba resisted the urge to stick his tongue out (barely), instead settling for glaring Neji's back. As frustrated as he was with the other's sharp tongue and smart ass remarks, he had to admit he was happy to have some semblance of the old Neji back. It was ordinary, it was something he knew well, and he welcomed it. If he had to deal with all the freaky shit that had happened so far, he didn't want to have to do it alone, and especially not with a twitchy, not-so-normal Neji. Not that he was saying that this Neji was anything close to normal, but it was better when he was like this. Childish and arrogant, instead of terrified and defensive.
"Instead of being scared of me..." Kiba muttered, looking down to his feet, feeling a bit defensive himself. He knew Neji had a reason to be nervous, especially since he was the one who had been stalking the older boy for the past two weeks, but... he didn't understand why, in a time of crisis, he didn't just accept the situation he was in (that they were both in) and stop fighting him.
Kiba was so immersed in thought that he didn't even realize that he had passed Neji until he heard a loud gasp and then a groan of disgust. Turning back, he found Neji standing beside one of the ticket booths, eyes wide and a hand thrown across his mouth as he stared into the small room as if against his will.
Wasting no time, Kiba hurried to his side, pushing the door wide so he could get a better look at whatever had spooked Neji so badly, only to be hit with the smell of drying blood and rotting entrails.
"Oh god!" Kiba moaned, covering his mouth and nose as his eyes started to water from the smell, unable to tear his eyes away from the crime scene in front of them, the back part of the booth wrapped with police tape and covered in gore. Choking back a gag, he tried to get his body moving, to do something to stop the smell permeating the air around them.
Neji groaned, reaching out before him and shut the door. When Kiba gave him a questioning look, he shrugged, "I don't want to deal with that right now, thank you." He said, "Besides, looks like the cops already got to it. There's no body, so there's really nothing to be done, I guess."
Nodding, Kiba looked around, trying to regain his bearings, "Listen, I'm gonna go look for a map, that sound okay?" He reached past Neji into the bag slung on his shoulder, pulling out the gun from the mall, "I'm taking this, just in case there's anything up ahead. This place should be fairly safe. It's well lit, so you'll be able to check your surroundings..." Surveying the room they were in, Kiba smiled, "Hey, who knows, we might actually bump into someone normal, and not insane."
"You're just going to leave me here, unprotected... because it's well lit!?" Neji fumed, bristling like a kicked cat, eye's narrowing dangerously.
"I'm only going to be gone for a second!" Kiba replied, startled at how quickly the other boys mood could change, "I'll be back before you know it. Besides, don't you think your safer here, where you at least have some idea as to whether it's safe or not, than hobbling around in the dark with me?"
Still miffed, but not as visibly upset, Neji backed down, crossing his arms and acting like an overgrown child. He sighed and leaned back against the closed toll booth door, running a hand through his bangs as he tried to come back to his senses, "Your right, I..." He stopped, frowning, "I'm sorry, okay?"
Grinning, Kiba stepped forward, stooping down a bit so he was face to face with Neji, "Stay put, alright? I don't want to have a repeat of last time." He said, still grinning as he tried to digest the fact that Neji had just said he was sorry.
His reply was a brief nod, and a small smile from behind a curtain of dark bangs, "It's just this place, it's got me turning into a spaz. The sooner we get out of here, the better." With that, he turned and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms, "I'll stay here."
"You better." Kiba said, turning and walking off down the hall.
Once he was out of sight, Neji groaned loudly, fisting his hands in his hair. He was so frustrated! He didn't mean to be a pain in the ass, he just... he couldn't control himself. He was skittish, and it was killing him. He wasn't used to being so dependent on another person's presence. He knew that it was him that kept getting them into trouble, and that Kiba was being a real good sport about it, seeing as his actions were probably going to end up killing them both.
"I'll be fine." Neji reassured himself, or at least tried to, "I just got to get a hold of myself, before I end up dead." Before we both end up dead, his mind quickly threw in. And it was something he had to keep reminding himself of. As awful as this whole experience was to him, it was pretty damn terrible for Kiba too. He wanted to be a brat and whine and complain that everything always happened to him, and that he really didn't give two shits about what Kiba was going through, but unfortunately, he found he was just a little too mature to act like a baby.
"Still, I'm allowed to feel a little sorry for myself, I guess." He muttered to an empty terminal, "I did... I mean I was..."
Raped! Just it! He silently urged himself, Just say it and you'll feel a hell of a lot better! You were raped!
"This is pathetic!" He groaned, "I can't even say it to an empty room!" And it was true. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get the word out of his mouth. It would just sit there, on the tip of his tongue, clinging for dear life, desperate not to escape his lips. It was as if he was scared that someone had hidden a camera somewhere in the room, and that the second the words left his mouth, the whole town would know what had happened... what he let happen.
No, you didn't let it happen, he tried to assure himself, you didn't fight, but what else could you do with the barrel of a gun stuck down your throat? You're a shinobi, danger is part of the job description. Its a hazard of the workplace, unfortunately.
"Enough!" Neji's voice echoed through the empty terminal, "Enough soul searching for one day..." Walking up to a row of token machines, he slumped down in a corner and resumed waiting for Kiba to get back.
Out of the corner of his eye, however, he saw something interesting. Not crazy monster interesting, but it was enough to get his attention. A newspaper... not today's newspaper, but it brought a sense of normalcy that Neji missed dearly. Picking up the brown, wrinkled paper, he settled against the ticket booth, reading the one legible article:
"Fatal Accident At Hazel Street
At about 11 PM on the 4th, a man waiting on the platform at the Hazel Street station fell onto the tracks and was decapitated by the arriving St. Renata College-bound train. The victim died instantly. While police have not yet determined whether the death was an accident or suicide, witnesses report that the victim did not look inebriated and seemed to jump off the platform deliberately.
The victim's identity is still unknown. He was approximately 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and was wearing a black jacket."
"Huh." Neji frowned, placing the paper back on the token machine he took it from, "That's today's date... just two years ago." Maybe it was a coincidence, but he would keep it in mind, he decided. Everything he'd found so far seemed to have some kind of relevance or secret meaning, and if he needed that particular piece of a puzzle somewhere down the line, he'd rather have it than not.
The newspaper shifted on top of the machine before falling off the edge onto the floor. If Neji was any other person he probably would have just left it there, but he wasn't, and unbeknownst to most people, he was a neat freak, and overly polite. The thought that someone else would have to pick up the paper off of the floor overrode the thought that someone else had left it there in the first place.
Stooping down and being careful not to bend his leg, he picked up the paper, ready to stand back up before he heard a noise not unlike an object being pulled from a puddle of mud.
His eyes widened, and carefully he inched towards the row of machines before him, ready to turn. He reached his hand towards his bag, undoing the clasps, and in one swift movement, stood and turned, so his back was against the wall of metal.
He was more confused than scared. Across the terminal, there was a dripping, reddish brown hole in the wall; about five feet by four, with what looked like a woman crawling out of it. Strings made of the same gooey material as the hole in the wall clung to her arms and legs, making her look like a twisted marionette. She was dressed in a skimpy outfit with outrageously high stiletto boots, but what caught Neji's attention (other than that she was crawling out of a wall covered in blood) was the marking carved into her chest.
"16121." Neji muttered, unconsciously tracing the outline of the burn on his thigh.
He gasped as the strings that were holding her to the wall broke, and he shoved his hand into his bag, fumbling around for his gun, "God damn it, Kiba!" He cursed as he realized that the dog nin had swiped it from him.
"Stay here, you'll be safe, it's well lit," Neji grumbled as he looked around for something to defend himself with, "Yeah right." He found purchase with a lead pipe, sitting casually in between the machines as if it were meant to be there.
He whipped the pipe out in front of him, only to see it pass right through the woman (who it turned out wasn't a woman after all, but a man in drag), as he neared the last couple of inches separating them, now so close their noses touched. And Neji found he couldn't move.
"Neji!" Kiba sprinted up to him, and Neji could have done a little dance if he weren't paralyzed with.. fear? Curiosity? Disgust? He didn't know, but he was sure he had never been as happy to hear Kiba's voice in his life. He would yell at him later for not just shooting the thing from across the terminal.
"What the hell did I tell you!? I told you to stay put, don't you ever listen?"
Neji whipped his head to the side, in control of his motor skills once again as he stared at Kiba in disbelief, his eyes wide and mouth hanging open like a fish. Was he stupid, or did he just not notice the thing hanging a mere centimeter away from his face?
"No! Don't 'Kiba' me! If we're gonna get through this, we have to cooperate, and yes, that includes you!"
Neji raised a brow, forgetting the drag queen for a moment, as he contemplated how a man so unaware of his surroundings could ever have become a ninja, "Kiba, seriously-"
"Do you know how difficult it is to work with you when you're like this? I don't know what's going through your head right now, but I would appreciate it if you dealt with it, so we could get going and get home in one piece! I mean-"
With an expression akin to complete disbelief, Neji pointed a finger towards the floating, bleeding monstrosity that had been waiting patiently for their conversation to be done.
Kiba blanched, grabbing the gun from his belt and backing up to the token dispensers beside Neji, "Holy..." Gaping, he pulled the trigger, firing a couple rounds at the man. Just as the pipe had before, the bullets flew through him and out the other side, lodging themselves into the wall on the other side of the terminal.
Dumbstruck, and at a loss for ideas, Neji turned back towards the man in drag, staring him in what was left of his face, unsure of why he was just floating there, and if he should take this moment to run or not.
Before he could make a decision, the man shook his head, twitched, and floated away in the direction they came from.
"What the hell just happened?" Kiba asked, holstering the gun in the waistband of his jeans once more.
Neji scoffed, and tucked the pipe into his bag as best he could, realizing that he wasn't about to get his gun back anytime soon, "What, besides you being a total moron?"
"Fuck you, and yeah, I mean, is it gonna attack or not?"
"No." Neji replied quickly, "It's not here for us."
Not wanting to push the subject of how the hell he knew that, and why he didn't just say that in the first place, Kiba realized he was blocking Neji between him and the token machines. I must have moved in front of him when I shot at the ghost, he mused, backing up so that Neji could pass. He didn't miss the light blush that colored the Hyuuga's cheeks, nor did he miss his own racing pulse as Neji brushed passed him.
"Come on, I found our stop." Kiba said with a sigh as he reached out and grabbed Neji's wrist.
Neji gasped, flinching as he slapped his hand away. He cradled his wrist to his chest as if it had been burned, turning his eyes to the floor in embarrassment. He hadn't meant to do that... he just did.
To his surprise, Kiba just smiled.
"Neji, I know you don't trust me." He opened his mouth to protest, but Kiba held up his hand, "No, I know you don't, and I don't blame you. We don't know each other very well, we haven't gotten off on the best foot possible and this atmosphere, what's happening... it's not a good situation." He fisted his hands in his hair, "And it all has to do with you. Everything that's happening right now Neji, is because of you. There's something about you, something that Claudia wants, that those monsters want. It's what the man who raped you wants as well."
Kiba paced across the terminal, his hands stuffed in his pockets and back towards Neji, fishing around for the right words, "But..." and with that he turned around, his fanged smile still in place, unwavering, "Whatever it is that makes you so damn special, I'm not about to let them get their hands on it, or on you." His hand was on Neji's shoulder now, and for some reason, he didn't move away as Kiba's fingers gently tightened their grip, "I'm gonna make sure you get home, safe and sound."
"You don't need to do that. I can take care of myself." Neji muttered, his eyes on the floor.
"I know you can, but you are hurt... and this isn't really familiar territory is it?"
Neji shook his head, looking Kiba in the eyes, "Thank you." He whispered.
Kiba didn't know whether to gape or laugh. Neji had surprised him way too much that day, more than he had in their years of casual acquaintance. He had apologized, he had said thank you... he had cried, splintered his leg. All in all, it seemed to be a very eventful day for him. And now it seemed he was going to be able to get him to cooperate, which was what he needed, desperately.
"We should get to our stop." Neji said, "You said you found where it was? I never take the subway, I find it a little pointless."
"Me neither." Kiba admitted, "But after staring at the map for a while, I found a line that takes us straight to the Ichiraku, and then from there it's just a short walk back to both our compounds." Starting off down the hallway, Kiba motioned for Neji to follow, only to find him lost in his own thoughts once again. Rolling his eyes, he reached for his wrist once again, leading him down the hall to their stop.
And this time, Neji didn't flinch away.
Sakura, despite the rain she had just sprinted through, was bone dry.
It was odd that her hair was damp and cold, as were her clothes and extremities, but not wet. It felt more like she had walked through a light mist than a storm. And the area she had walked into was heavy and humid, covered with trees and other greenery... so much so that she found she welcomed the dampness of her hair and shirt.
A thick fog blanketed the area, and for the life of her she couldn't tell where she was. All she knew was that she saw a woman with dark brown hair that matched the description of Angela Orosco to a 'T'. She had spotted her outside of her window from the train, and when they made their unscheduled stop, she took it as a sign and went after her.
"Angela Orosco." Sakura muttered, trying to recall the information she had received from her mission statement, "19, brown hair, brown eyes, ran away from home soon after her father's death..." Crossing her arms cross her chest, she rubbed at her arms, frustrated with the lack of landmarks on the path she was walking, "I'm going to get so lost."
The fog thickened, and the air felt so heavy it was like breathing in water. Sakura walked passed a set of rod iron gates that looked like they hadn't moved in centuries, covered in moss and vine, as were the gray stone walls that sat beside them. The grass in this area was thicker, and while still overgrown, looked like it had been taken care of at one point or another. Willow trees framed the area, and in the distance she could see a pond with a small chapel beside it.
"Oomph!" Sakura landed on her knees in the grass, catching herself seconds before her face hit the ground. Grumbling, she looked over her shoulder, trying to find what she had tripped over.
"Great, so this is a cemetery." She had caught her foot on a small inlaid tombstone that was sticking out about and inch or so out of the ground. Looking around again, squinting through the fog, she saw a few others, some big, some small... and suddenly the chapel that she saw on the horizon made sense.
"Need a hand?"
Startled, she glanced upwards, almost smacking her face off of the aforementioned hand, "Thank you." She said, as the tall, blonde man pulled her to her feet, "I'm sorry, you just startled me a bit."
"It's alright... This place has me a little on edge too." He smiled, his blue eyes were electrifying in the thick blanket of fog. His hairline was slightly receding, and around his eyes wrinkles had begun to form, but he still couldn't be more than 35 years old... "My name's James, who're you?"
James... James Sunderland. Her mind registered immediately that this was the man she was looking for. Best play along, she thought, "My name's Sakura... May I ask what you're doing here, James?"
"Of course." James said, "I'm looking for Mary, my wife. I got a letter from her, saying she would meet me here, in Silent Hill." Now, finally, the smile disappeared and was replaced with a troubled frown, "Still, I haven't found her yet. I'm not sure if I ever will."
This is going great! Sakura thought to herself, and she smiled, leaning on a nearby gravestone. The man thinks his dead wife is alive, and he's searching for her in the middle of nowhere. At least he likes to spill his guts. "When was the last time you saw her. Your wife, I mean."
"Three years ago... when she died."
"Yes, but I'm not crazy! At least I don't think I am... it does sound a little crazy though doesn't it? Why are you here?"
Without thinking, without even realizing what was happening, Sakura replied, "I'm looking for my mama. I mean, my mother."
She had to force herself not to cover her mouth with her hands. She was scared now, but she could stay calm until James was out of sight. It wasn't everyday that she spoke in a voice that wasn't hers, about things that weren't true.
Her heart was pounding, and she was sure her face was flushed, but for the sake of the mission she forced herself to keep her composure. She's think about what happened later, "Yeah... My mother."
"Well, I hope you find her." James replied, smiling once more, seemingly unfazed by her voice changing. That is, if he even noticed. He seemed quite out of it, "The town's this way, right?"
"Yeah, just down the path, y-you can't miss it." Sakura stuttered, her hands shaking so violently she had to shove them in her pockets. She felt a presence there, in that cemetery, one that felt like it was invading the deepest parts of her soul. She needed to leave.
James nodded and turned, ready to leave when Sakura cut him off, again in an odd voice that wasn't hers, "But if I were you, I'd stay away. There are things in that town, dangerous things... it's not safe." This time she did throw her hands across her mouth, no longer caring if she scared James away.
But he was unfazed once again, "Thanks for the warning, but I don't really care if it's dangerous or not. I'm going to town either way." This time he started to walk away as he turned, not giving her a chance to stop him again, "Stay safe."
"You too." Sakura whispered back, her hands drifting down from her mouth, cradling them at her chest. She spoke in her voice this time, and for what she hoped was not the last.
The presence that was surrounding her dissipated, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tenten running into the cemetery.
"Sakura, what the hell!?" Tenten was furious, "You would just leave me behind?"
"I'm sorry, I thought I saw one of the people we were looking for, and I got ahead of myself." Sakura smiled shamefully, "It won't happen again."
"It better not." Tenten snapped back, but not without a smile, "Let's get going, alright? I'd like to get out of this town as soon as possible."
With that, they followed the same path James had taken into town. They walked in near silence, with bits of friendly conversation every now and then breaking through the crunching of the dirt and twigs beneath their feet. Sakura never once mentioned her meeting with James, nor the fact that she felt as if something was following them, following her.
Little did she know, that would be the last time she would speak in her own voice her own words for a very long time.