A/N: Dear Readers, this is a continuation to 'Evidence.' To date, this is my longest written piece. This is a one-shot with subjective ending. I didn't want to split it in half. It'll just spoil the story. Way off from Ouran, OOC with a few OCs, and different scenario. As always, thank you for reviewing and hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
Silence greeted him and he embraced its tranquil coldness. The gentle autumn breeze embraced his body, as if guiding him as he walked towards the neo-architectural building of a large ICT organisation. However he knew better what truly goes behind this steel and glass sky high monstrosity. It was the wind of destiny that brought him here. More then thirty members and security officers guarded the building. There were hidden cameras at strategic places as he gave the place a cursory glance then looked at the entrance. He hadn't a doubt that he would be given a wide berth to enter into the darkness within.
"What were you thinking, Ritsu?!" The old mentor glowered at the young man in front of him who was preparing for a confrontation with a tough nemesis.
"Aniki, you're not fully recovered," Tetsuya's forehead creased slightly, "You can't…" He stopped at mid-sentence when he received a withering glare from his boss, Ritsu Kasanoda.
The news had reached all factions. The Kasanoda-gumi factions were on the alert for an invasion to their sanctum. But Ritsu was sure that the other factions knew of his challenge was only to another equal ranking leader. It had nothing to do with them. Still, his clan was on constant vigilance.
A note written in blood was received this morning had his mentor's eyes widening in dread, "You're up against the organisation's most ruthless extremist! What would your father say?"
"Nothing," He glanced at him without expression on his face or eyes. He had no feelings for either parent. How could anyone feel anything for the coldness they bestowed upon the other, and him? "He's dead. So's my mother."
The old mentor closed his eyes, he understood Ritsu's feelings. He had witnessed it personally and actually felt sad for him. Yet, he didn't understand this man's need to risk his life and his everything for someone's sake. People were not to be trusted, upper or underground. He had deliberately forgotten that rule.
The old mentor practically yelled at him, "Why do you go so far as to put yourself in death's grip? I'm sure you know what would happen to you and your factions if you failed."
"I've to do this," He said it firmly, resolutely as he took out a brown card from the inside breast pocket of his long coat and slid it towards his mentor.
The old man took it and flipped the card. His mentor glanced at him with misty, desperate eyes. No wonder, this man would go all out to see to her safety. She was a rare gem of a woman who would place others before her own wants. He told of this woman to him before. He could understand this man's desire to see her safe. She understood the tough complicated implications that was his world, and only wanted him to be safe. She would not drop the case but she would 'burn' the case. It would mean she would burn her future.
Ritsu didn't want that for her. She was doing her job. He wanted her alive and to live. It was his reason to fight. She gave him what others couldn't give that was emotional support and helped his senses grow. Thus, he was fighting for his clan's safety, the safety of his 'nakamas' from both worlds, and he was also doing it for himself. The old mentor knew this for a fact because it was what plaguing Ritsu's inner peace and giving him nightmares. He was imprisoned in a shadow of a man dead to him for thirteen years.
It wouldn't make any difference to him if she lost the case or not. The deed had been done by him. He had to follow through. He knew his adversary thought the same thing. Yet, his adversary was ahead of him, as expected. His adversary wanted him to come to him. He'd sent something which belonged to him. It was a jade broach in the shape of a rose embedded in platinum encrusted with a few diamonds. He bought it in appreciation for the many things even smallest deeds she did over the years that he couldn't say to her all lumped in this one precious gift.
He had many heirlooms he could give her just like that. But he wanted her to have something that came from the heart. It was his most treasured possession and was given to his most treasured person. It came back to him all bloody with a note which was written in blood. He clenched his teeth in silent fury. His eyes narrowed dangerously, his foe had kidnapped his beloved bosom buddy! He knew that the blood on the paper was hers. His foe was taunting him.
"Blood is first. She's fragile. Every second counts. She's a delicious morsel. At the stroke of 10am tomorrow, a package will arrive. Skin will be second. Come to me." The message in the note made him realise that he hadn't time left.
He had to make his move tonight. She was alive but in danger. The contract was on. His nemesis's men had failed. It was left to his nemesis to complete the mission. Tetsuya expressed his intention to follow but he instructed him to hold the fort. He didn't continue further since Tetsuya understood his wish. Although, his right hand man didn't like it, he supported his decision.
Ritsu looked at his mentor, then with respect he bowed deeply, "Okada-san, you'd know what to do if I don't return." He turned, never looking back and walked ahead to confront his opponent and to safe a dearest friend.
While his mentor silently cried. The old mentor thought of both The White Byakko and The Black Seirryu. They were his best students. Yet the one that distinguishes them apart was their understanding of human nature. One has it while the other was void of it. It was inevitable that it turned out this way. Just like the old days. In the past, Samurais without masters were called Ronins. Ronins who roamed the land working for rich, private land barons or merchants were called mercenaries.
Out of these Ronins, a new sort of men evolved. They were called the Yakuzas. The difference between the two fraternities of roaming swordsmen was that Yakuzas preferred to be lordless and lawless. They still followed the way of the sword but only for profit. Not that they were lawless, they created their own brand of law based on the honour of the old ways. The hierarchy was the same only the way they did things were extreme and against the law.
The White Byakko and The Black Seirryu were both disciples of the old ways. Both came from old and powerful crime families. Both were driven and strong, physically, and mentally. The selection of the one would be based on their emotions during their confrontation that would affect their performance. With a sad, resigned sigh, the time has come for him to meet an old friend.
Ritsu gazed at the overhead security camera then shifted his eyes towards the glass sliding door. It opened, he walked in. The guards were at their posts but they were on the alert. Their eyes focused on the man who walked through the door as if the building belonged to him. According to their chief, he wasn't an ordinary man. You wouldn't even know you were dead. That was how deadly this red haired man was. His face was a mask shielding his true expression. It was his eyes that froze them to their spots.
It was the eyes of a demonic predator! He entered into the lift, as the door closed he looked at them with his fearsome eyes. He pressed a special button which was hidden from prying eyes. The lift security camera was off once he entered the lift. It was now out of the security guards' hands, as per instructed. The Black Seirryu's men would be handling The White Byakko. Or in this case, observing him cautiously since he came alone to meet their leader.
This was their first encounter with such a man who didn't come with a posse. They only heard of him. They felt that his demonic aura alone made for a legion that could without doubt take their lives away in a blink. This man was an equal to their boss. He had come to retrieve something that belonged to him. That would mean he came here for a silent retribution. A wiseguy unsheathed his katana, leaping in the air, swinging his katana in an arc but was easily deflected by The White Byakko with swift footworks.
He did a backflip with one leg hitting the assailant's hand holding the katana. The man yelped in pained shock, the katana dropped on the polished shining floor with a resounding clang. The White Byakko stepped on the katana before the man could retrieve it. The White Byakko grabbed him by his throat and lifted him as if he was weightless. He threw the man towards the whitewashed wall. The man hit the hard wall with a loud thud. Those who were nearer to the wall could hear the cracking of the man's bones.
The White Byakko stared with narrowed eyes, "Anyone else?"
They shifted their eyes to the floor in shame and fear. They weren't supposed to interfere in the affairs of both leaders. It was the law. When a challenge was issued by either leader no one was allowed to intervene. It was only between leaders. The man only acted out of loyalty. The White Byakko saw this and was considerate to let the man live. If it was The Black Seirryu, their boss, the man would have been gutted alive on the spot.
CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!
The Black Seiryyu emerged from the shadows. He smiled his usual spine-chilling smile. "A grand entrance deserves a round of applause." Then he glanced at the injured man on the floor. His eyes glittered in malice, "Forgive his rudeness." A whipping sound lashed the air but The White Byakko whipped out a dagger and threw at the same direction, hitting the silver metal thread away from its target.
He glanced at The Black Seirryu with a bland expression, "He's forgiven."
The man with yellowed teeth smirked, "Forthright as always." He walked towards a steel door, and pushed it open. The White Byakko followed and they entered into the darkness within.
The Black Seirryu's henchmen now understood the stories they'd heard of The White Byakko weren't just stories but the truth. He was a man with just conviction.
"Welcome to hell!" Black Seiryyu announced in manic glee.
The inner sanctum was dimly lit and their footsteps echoed as they walked to an austere, sterile opening. It was a huge circular room. The whole room illuminated as they stepped into it. In the middle was a colossal column. There Ritsu saw Haruhi tied at the waist, ankles and wrist with rope. She was in her camisole and skirt. There were splotches of blood on them. Blood was also dripping from the side of her head, nose and mouth. Her eyes and cheeks were swollen.
Her fair skin was bruised, purple and blue, especially her wrists and ankles. He could hear her rasping for air through opened mouth while coughing to clear her parched throat. His heart constricted and was beating wildly, seeing her bravely enduring the totally brutal treatment. He had thought of all the enforcers, Black Seirryu was the worst of them all. The man smiled displaying his yellowed teeth as he observed Ritsu. How he enjoyed the expression in his eyes. He might mask his face but not his eyes.
The anguish and wretchedness in them, was to him a beautiful sight. "She's fragile." He gibed. He walked slowly towards her. He licked her bloodied lips. He lowered his mouth to the side of her throat, "A delicious morsel." He smiled as he glided his tongue on her throat wiping the blood off. She chagrined and tried to move her head away from him. He captured her chin with his thumb and forefinger. "Fiery spirit," He then glanced at Ritsu, his eyes shining in sadistic rhapsody, "Meant to be broken."
The first twitch of Ritsu's upper lip confirmed his suspicion. She meant something to him. What? A lover? That couldn't be right. A lawyer and a yakuza together in perfect harmony… It was absolutely hilarious. A match made in hell! Could it be that they… have they made it out yet? He smelled her then. He had very sensitive nose. The result was tempting his lower region. She was still a virgin. Intact. Fresh. Unsoiled. He smiled wider, "A lawyer and two yakuzas in hot action… Hmmm… "
"What say you?" He looked at Ritsu, "Which way do you prefer to have her?" He raised an eyebrow, "Frankly, I prefer the back."
Ritsu clenched his teeth as he spoke, "Roichi, I would prefer death for her then let her be tortured by you."
"Too late," Roichi Murakami shook his head in a mocking manner. "By the by, you're so uptight. Loosen up, Ritsu."
Ritsu growled, "You son of a bitch!"
Roichi smiled wider, in a maniacal sort of way, "That I am," He then spat on the ground, "But so are you, brother!"
They glared at each other. Their hard gazes never wavered from their focus. Roichi suddenly chuckled, but his eyes glittered in silent rage, "Mother left us for your father but she was never happy with him either. That poor deluded hag." His eyes narrowed as he continued staring at Ritsu, "I don't understand why my father didn't just skewer her. He let her go. Why did he?"
"It wouldn't make anyone happy." Ritsu's eyes cautiously scanned Roichi's movements as he moved away slowly from his half-brother, now nemesis and one time best friend.
Roichi took out two short swords, unsheathing the swords in one quick swing vertically, one left and one right, "You weren't happy with them." In a warring position, he swished the two blades in simultaneously. "You were happiest with us though."
"That was a long time ago," Ritsu replied softly, he felt a lump in his throat.
He thought of the times he had spent with the Murakamis. His mentor had brought him there as a sparring partner for the young Murakami-gumi heir, Roichi. Both he and Roichi didn't know the fact that he was Roichi's younger half-brother by four years. They had hit it off the instant they met. Although, he was younger he was better in the physical aspect. Roichi was good mentally. They made a formidable team. That was what Roichi's father said.
He liked Roichi's father. The man was simple yet complex. It was difficult for him to explain about Roichi's father. He was someone that he could relate to because he was something like him. The man was tough yet kind in an inflexible way. Unlike his own father, who was hard and cold, well, the man was dead and gone. He glanced to find that Roichi had disappeared. He cursed under his breath. Damn! He had been distracted by Roichi's mind games. He should have known Roichi's specialty was manipulation.
He heard a chuckle and found Roichi behind him. Blast! His two short swords were positioned in a diagonal fashion as he slashed Ritsu's back. He was smiling, "You're no fun." The back of the long coat formed two long bloody gashes. "You used to be." He jumped ten paces back leaving Ritsu to turn to face him with narrowed eyes. The gashes were deep, Ritsu's lips thinned in respite than his hand went for his katana.
"Too slow," Roichi yelled, "That should've been out sooner." He sprinted towards the colossal column while swishing his two blades horizontally.
Ritsu doubled his efforts seeing Roichi's killing mode, and he jumped then lodged himself in between Haruhi and with both hands on the katana's handle, he blocked Roichi's blow. "Roichi, you wanted fun," He stared at his half-brother with a pained look etched in his eyes. "You'll have it." Ritsu shoved Roichi's blades with his own. Roichi was flung backwards but stayed firmly on two feet.
In a flash, he cut the ropes which bound her wrists, waist and ankles. She dropped into his arms. She was breathing, but very slowly. He gently placed her on the floor. Her upper body against the giant pillar for support with her head lulling forward. He glanced at Roichi in fury.
"Father always did like you best." Roichi grinned with eyes of wicked madness, "I think I know why. Before I didn't understand," He started to attack again, and his blades were crossed this time. "Now, I know."
"What the hell are you blabbering, Roichi?" Ritsu changed his position and held his sword diagonally. He was shocked that Roichi's mental state was this bad off. When had his brother become paranoid?
The clash of blades sent sparks flying from them. Ritsu and Roichi were locked in a ferocious battle. Roichi's eyes were gleaming of excitement. He tried to thrust his blade into Ritsu, but Ritsu avoided with a light twist to his right and elbowed his jaw. Roichi staggered sideways from the hard blow. He shook his head and held his jaw with a hand. He tasted blood, and smiled satisfactorily as he swallowed it.
"I envy you," He said with touch of madness in his eyes. "You've everything." He was in a warring position this time with one katana. He flung the other away.
Ritsu frowned, "Roichi, stop it!" He held his katana in a similar pose as Roichi. "You're wrong. He loves you." He was desperate, Roichi was in two minds. He had to safe Haruhi and Roichi. He actually feared for his brother. He had to try saving his brother from himself.
Suddenly, Roichi screamed and ran towards him with his blade pointing to his heart. "I don't have what you have." He charged at Ritsu but bypassed him, he was aiming for Haruhi. Ritsu's eyes widened in shock and chased after him. He couldn't understand his brother's vague adage. It was laced with anger, and grief.
"Roichi!" Ritsu yelled as he rushed forward, with an arm out and his hand automatically held his katana firmly in parallel to his arm, he caught up with Roichi swishing his blade clean through his brother's torso before Roichi could thrust his blade into Haruhi's chest. Blood gushed through the deep cut. Roichi's eyes blazed in determination to kill his target. He lifted his katana and moved staggeringly toward Haruhi. He had to complete his assignment.
Ritsu gave another deep slash across from his left shoulder to his right gripped his katana, with blood flowing heavily from the deep wound inflicted upon him. Blood spurted from his mouth yet he went forth for a final plunge but Ritsu grabbed his throat and slammed him down on the floor. "Enough!" Ritsu shouted, "I don't want to kill you." Roichi's katana flew out of his grasp and landed with a clang on the floor next to the colossal column.
"Kill or be killed," Roichi reminded him. His face etched with pain yet he smiled. This time it was a sad smile. "That's the world we live in. Kill me now."
Ritsu knew for a fact that he had to take his life. Roichi had failed to accomplish his assignment. But he just couldn't take Roichi's life. As it was Roichi was in the brink of death. It was not his duty to end his life. It was the Grim Reaper's, he would be by Roichi's side in his last moments on earth. It was the only thing he could do for his brother. Whatever had been done was done. It was the now that he cared.
"You bastard," Roichi chuckled, blood spurting from his mouth and deep wounds. "You still don't get it." He grabbed Ritsu's lapels and pulled him towards him, "He loves you because you're the son he wished he had! I wish you were…"
"Why are you still harping on it?" Ritsu screamed into Roichi's face, "Is this your way of making his wish come true? By sacrificing…"
"That's the reason why he loves you." Roichi smile than coughed, "That's why I'm envious of you…"
"You're talking in riddles." Ritsu sighed impatiently.
"You've a tough journey ahead," Roichi said in finality. "He won't let you off easy. But, you'll soon understand."
Ritsu could only stare at him. What would he soon understand? He wanted to ask but was shocked at Roichi's query.
He grabbed Ritsu's shirt this time, "Tell me, brother," He closed his eyes for a moment than open them looking at Ritsu with curiosity, "Can you trust a woman?"
"Only when my heart tells me to," Ritsu replied without hesitation.
Roichi chuckled and coughed at the same time. He smiled, "So forthright." He lulled, his head moved limply to one side and eyelids closed for good.
Ritsu held his brother for as long as he could. There were no tears. When the time to depart came, a man must brave through it without a drop of tear. But, without him realising, a drop did drop. It splashed on his brother's forehead. He'd lost another friend, and a brother. He gently laid his brother's body on the floor, took off his long coat and covered his face and body with it. He stood up, walked towards Haruhi, whose body was slumped on the floor.
She had fainted. He knelt and lifted her body. He carried her towards the door pushing it open with his foot. The Black Seirryu's henchmen just stared wide eyed in shock, fear and awe, as he strode passed them. They couldn't believe it. Their leader failed. More importantly was that the indestructible Black Seirryu was dead at the hands of the young, White Byakko.
Ritsu thought grimly, he had managed to rescue a friend but he also lost another in the process. He had lost Roichi through circumstances not to his liking and out of his control. Who was the client? Who was the contractor? These were the questions that kept bugging him. He put them at the back of his mind for the moment. Now, he only thought of Roichi. Sadly, they were the sons that were blessed and cursed with black blood. It was in their veins coursing their brain and heart vassals. They could do nothing to clear it away.
Black blood, black lineage, black hope, black everything…