Author's note: takes place around episode 17, when Tsujido and his gang meet Suitengu for the first time. Warnings for canon rape. You have been warned.
"What did you say to me?"
The yakuza's grip on Tsujido's neck tightened. Tsujido wheezed, face pushed down hard against the edge of the table.
"I said," Tsujido coughed. "I said you smell like shit."
"Teme!" The blow that came knocked him sideways. His head smacked against the edge of the table, making his eyes water.
"Maybe we oughtta do something about that," one of the other Yakuza said. "Maybe you oughtta cut it off."
"Yeah!" the others said. Tsujido choked, face shoved hard against the table.
From the corner of his eye, he could see the knife. Could see it plain as day as the Yakuza pulled it from his pocket.
"No," Tsujido said. He moved, he struggled, but he lost too much blood and the Yakuza's weight was pressing him down. "No, fuck, no!"
"Gonna cut that nose off, pretty boy," the Yakuza said. The knife gleamed and Tsujido let out a hoarse cry. "Gonna make it so that we don't smell like shit anymore."
He must have passed out.
It took a second, a few fuzzy, blurry seconds, to realize that the Yakuza was still fucking him over the table. His face was bleeding and he could see what was probably the cartilage of his nose lying on the floor.
Somehow (if it were possible, if Tsujido dizzily concentrated on not losing consciousess), he felt the asshole's prick swell harder inside him; the Yakuza shoved him harder, one rough knee jack-knifing Tsujido's legs.
It was a bad idea, Tsujido thought. A bad fucking idea and he couldn't believe they did it, he couldn't believe they thought they could get away with it, but the Yakuza were too fucking big and he and Makabe were paying for it now, Makabe beaten to the point of being nearly dead and Tsujido being raped by one of the bigger thugs, it was too inconceivable, too unbelievable, too much for him to comprehend. The room smelled like cigarettes and bad breath and he could smell the sharp tang of pre-cum and the Yakuza's balls, and as Tsujido struggled to push himself upwards, the Yakuza only slammed his hips harder.
"Yeah," the Yakuza mumbled. "Yeah, bitch, you know you like it."
The table rocked under their weight, and dimly Tsujido could feel the edge digging into in stomach as he was bent over.
At the edge of his vision, Tsujido could see the other Yakuza tossing back drinks. Makabe was still unconscious, blood beginning to trickle from his lip.
There were hands, now. Hands bodily hoisting Tsujido up by the armpits and pulling him upwards. Tsujido couldn't move; his legs felt like they were going to give way. But the Yakuza fucker pulled a rope and he dimly was ware of them tying his hands.
"Gonna hang you up, now," the Yakuza said. "So fucking pretty. Too bad that you're a guy."
The asshole roughly palmed his penis, the cool edge of the blade at the base.
"Shit-" Tsujido twisted. The Yakuza yanked him forward, stringing the rope over a beam and hoisting Tsujido's body upwards, arms above his head and hanging from the ceiling. The Yakuza's eyes narrowed. He could see the knife glinting in the filthy light.
"Gonna make you a woman, pretty boy," the Yakuza said. Tsujido twisted and writhed and tried to pull away, and he felt the edge of the blade pressing into his skin. "Gonna give you what you deserve."
"Fuck!" Tsujido said. He jerked back violently, the wooden rafter groaning and rope beginning to fray with Tsujido's movements.
The door slammed open; light poured into the grimy room.
They sat at the bar, hunched over their drinks. Makabe gingerly nursed his side while Niihari made a point not to say anything, which Tsujido appreciated, because he was a talkative fuck and could be prone to asking too many things. Instead Niihari quietly passed Tsujido a pillow, saying, "It's for hemorrhoids, I think," and avoided his eyes.
If it were any other day, Tsujido would have rolled his eyes or tossed off some sarcastic comment, but today he took it gratefully, easing himself on the cushion with difficulty. Beside him, the man in the white fur coat swirled his drink thoughtfully, the ice in the glass clinking softly.
None of them spoke. The bartender wiped his glass and the clock ticked, and the only thing Tsujido was ware of was the deep ache in his bones, and the raw gaping wound at the mouth of his nose.
"Thank you," Tsujido said. He glanced up at the stranger, quietly. "Thank you for saving us."
The stranger said nothing. Tsujido glanced back at his hands.
"Why did they target you?"
Tsujido looked up. The stranger was looking at him. "Why did the Yakuza feel the need?"
"Tch." Tsujido looked back at his drink. It was Makabe who spoke.
"We didn't have the money," Makabe said. "Everyone who works in their territory has to pay a certain fee. But we didn't have it."
"I see," the stranger said. Tsujido glared at his cup. "If you work for me, I can promise you all the money you could hope for."
"Hmph." Tsujido straightened, hair falling into his eyes. "Stranger, we're happy that you helped. You saved our lives. But if you think that we can be bought-"
The stranger smiled. It was an unnerving, unsettling sort of smile.
Tsujido faltered. "O-oi."
"Forgive me," the stranger said. "It is not often I see one turn down the allure of money." Niihari and Makabe glanced uneasily at each other. The stranger stood, elegantly pushing back his stool.
"It pleases me to see that we will get along."
He said his name was Suitengu. Even Tsujido knew that wasn't his real name.
"I have a dream," Suitengu said, and the room was filled with the sound of his voice. Suitengu just had an air about him, as if every thought and every misplaced comment was the stuff of oratory. "I dream of killing the god of wealth himself."
"And how will you do that, Suitengu-san?"
But Suitengu only smiled and didn't give him an answer.
There were precious things Tsujido knew about Suitengu.
First: that the man hardly slept, choosing to work at all hours of the night planning and making those plans come true.
Second: that the man had a past, one that Tsujido could only come to guess at.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure those things out. Suitengu rolled tobacco in 10,000 yen bills, and while others thought it was to flout his money, to intimidate those less well off than him, only Tsujido knew the truth.
"It's just paper to you, isn't it?" Tsujido watched him carefully as Suitengu took in a long drag, then exhaled slowly a puff of smoke. "Suitengu-san?"
"You are observant, Tsujido." Suigengu ground the butt of the cigarette into the ashtray, quietly. "It is nothing but scrap to me."
"And yet you've come to hate it," Tsujido said. Suitengu said nothing. He turned, looking out the window and at the Tokyo skyline below.
"My family was ripped apart because of money," Suitengu said, finally. He glanced back, and Tsujido knew he was telling him something he probably didn't tell anyone. "I have a little sister, Tsujido. Somewhere she's out there," and he turned back again, looking out the window. "Somewhere she's got to be alive."
"Then we will find her," Tsujido said. Suitengu made a sound, something between amusement and self-disgust, and Tsujido didn't have to be told the man was holding something back, forcing himself not to fall apart.
"There are dreams and then there are dreams, Tsujido," Suitengu said. "Already I have gained the wealth of princes three times over, but even money cannot buy that."
"Then use us, Suitengu-san." Tsujido kneeled, keeping his eyes on the floor.
"My gang and I were expert trackers in once. If she is alive, we will be the ones to find her."
It didn't take long. Makabe found a lead and Niihari found there was a woman by the name of Yui living in a filipino barrio, prostituting herself to get out of debt. As far as Makabe and Niihari were concerned, Yui was only a person of interest, someone with whom Suitengu had no personal connection. But Tsujido knew better.
"The little sister of Ueno Takashi, who was sold as child soldier to pay off his father's debt." Niihari yawned and Makabe rubbed his neck, hunched over the library archives. "Why in the world would Suitengu-sama be interested in her?"
"Beats me," Tsujido said, and turned quickly before they could tell he was lying. "We just have to find her, is all."
When Suitengu heard the news, he reacted as a man in his position and influence should, pleased, but with subtly restrained interest. "Thank you, Makabe. Niihari. Your efforts will be rewarded well."
But Tsujido watched as muscles of Suitengu's arms tensed, and he knew inside Suitengu was nervous. Torn. It was twenty years since Ueno Takeshi was abducted, and Tsujido knew his sister was a torch, the vague half-memory of her keeping him alive.
"Suitengu-san. If I may," Tsujido said, and Makabe and Niihari glanced behind them, frowning. "If she is who I think she is, I'm sure she'll be happy, as I am sure her brother will be," and he watched that small change in Suitengu's face, something like surprise, then quiet gratitude, as Tsujido spoke. "Ueno Takashi is the one who is paying us, ne?"
"He is indeed," Suitengu said, and he turned, facing the window.
At the barrio, it was hot and humid and the streets smelled like the dust of poor men and the rotting, overripe fruit they were selling in the stands. The grease of pigs cooked and hung to slaughter permeated the air, and Tsujido was reminded uncomfortably of that time, and the wrists of his hands suddenly ached. He felt Makabe knowingly clap him on the shoulder and Niihari give him a worried look, but Tsujido shook his head.
"I'm fine," Tsujido said. The two of them frowned but nodded, letting Tsujido walk past them and lead the way.
The brothel smelled little better, and for once Tsujido was glad his sense of smell was dulled by the knife-edge of the Yakuza's blade; it smelled like sweat and heat and desperation, and Tsujido nearly gagged at the stench of it. It hit him like a wall, the smell of sex and body odor swirling around him like rotting garbage.
"It smells like shit," Niihari said. Tsujido shot him a withering look, then covered his nose with his hand.
Suitengu had gone ahead, toward the back where the prostitutes were bedding their customers.
Time passed, and Tsujido swatted at a fly that was buzzing around him. Finally, the curtain opened, and Tsujido looked up, expecting to see Suitengu and his sister hand-in-hand.
Except they weren't holding hands. Suitengu stood, carrying the prostitute without so much as a word; he walked past Makabe and Niihari briskly, jaw tight and blood smeared around his eyes.
Blood. Tsujido did a double take while Makabe rose, Niihari tensing at Suitengu's look.
"What the fuck?" Niihari said. Tsujido rushed past them.
But his eyes were dead and lost. Tsujido glanced back, then shifted the girl from Suitengu's arms.
"Morons! Get over here and help me with the body," Tsujido said. Makabe rushed forward and took the girl's body from him. Niihari was visibly shaken. Tsujido snapped.
"Idiot! Get Suitengu-san to the car!" Tsujido said, and Niihari nodded quickly.
"Oi!" One of the proprietors was coming. They were gibbering in Tagalog. Then in English, "Puta! Stop!"
"Let's go, let's go!" Tsujido said, and they rushed out of the brothel.
That night, Makabe and Niihari slept, the dull breeze from the ceiling fan doing nothing to stifle the heat. Tsujido couldn't sleep. Staring at the wall, he remembered how they wrapped the body of the girl in thick canvas, taking it to the crematorium without so much as even a word.
He found Suitengu at the hotel bar, hunched over a drink in the darkness. Wordlessly Tsujido sat beside him, pulling up a stool.
"She was five when she was taken, did you know?"
Suitengu spoke with the voice of a man who was broken, and Tsujido listened quietly. "Imagine, Tsujido. Growing up like that. Raped, beaten by men who do not care whether or not you lived or died. My little sister," he said, and a trickle of blood dripped down his face.
"You're bleeding," Tsujido said, and he moved to get a napkin. "Suitengu-san. Were you hurt?"
He let out a sound, a sort of outraged hiccup, and he shook his head, swirling the drink in his hand. "You are wondering about this," he said, and he gestured toward his eyes. "If only you knew, Tsujido. There are monsters among us, and it seems that I am one of them."
Tsujido said nothing. Suitengu sipped his drink slowly, then set it down on the counter. "You can still smell even though they cut off your nose, can't you."
"Yes." Tsujido was surprised. "My sense of smell has always been one of my strongest senses. It is dulled, now, perhaps to the point where it is of a normal person's. But I can still manage," Tsujido said. Suitengu stared at his glass, before taking another drink.
"What was it like?" Suitengu asked. "When those men raped you?"
Tsujido stiffened, but he could see the tortured look in Suitengu's eyes, and Tsujido forced his eyes back on his drink; the ice cubes swirled gently, melting in with the alcohol. "It sucked," Tsujido said, and Suitengu let out a sharp sound, something like a laugh but not quite. "You loved her, didn't you?"
"Of course," Suitengu said. "She was my sister."
Neither man spoke, and all Tsujido was aware of was the soft ticking of the clock, and the gentle night sounds of the barrio getting ready to sleep. He could hear the street vendors closing up their shops; a boy on a bicycle rode by, a carton of old bananas stuck between the handlebars. Tsujido glanced up at Suitengu and at the long strands of white hair falling over his face, and for the first time he looked human. Quietly, Suitengu began to take his gloves off, which he wore even in the middle of the filipino heat, and for the first time Tsujido could see the birthmark on the dorsal side of Suitengu's left hand, and the small, white scars criss-crossing his skin.
"Tsujido," Suitengu said. "How would you like to get your sense of smell back?"
"Suitengu-san?" Tsujido said, but Suitengu rose, his white fur coat elegantly draping behind him.
All it took was a drop of blood. Suitengu watched, motionless, as Tsujido writhed and cried out, the limbs of his body stretching and tearing, great tufts of fur growing out in spurts from his skin.
"A wolf," Suitengu said, and Tsujido reared back, the muscles of his hind limbs tensing. "How noble."
And Tsujido howled, unable to contain himself.
No one else saw Suitengu's true form.
A wolf and an archangel, who fought and cried with tears of blood. Something so poetic it made Tsujido stop and double check himself. Meanwhile the club grew, and as its patrons lined up to receive Suitengu's gift, Tsujido was surprised to see it only give rise to monsters.
"These are the true forms of the rich and powerful," Suitengu said once, and Tsujido nodded silently. "Tsujido. There is nothing left to stop me now."
Tsujido watched, at turns awestruck and frightened, as he followed a man hellbent toward self-destruction. He said nothing as Suitengu willingly gave himself to Tennozu Shinsen, prostituting his body as his sister had done for years. "These nights were her sacrifice," Suitengu said. There was a cut on his lip from where Shinsen had hit him, gleeful to see him bleed during the course of their lovemaking; the cut retracted and healed within minutes, but Tsujido still couldn't help but wince. "What I do is only a pale comparison to what Yui had to endure."
Meanwhile, Niihari and Makabe watched, horrified, as they saw their leader drag himself from Shinsen-sama's room, cut and bleeding but head raised for a nobler purpose. "The sacrifice of the body is nothing for the fulfillment of the mind," Suitengu said, and Niihari and Makabe exchanged uneasy glances.
"It's like he's sleeping his way to the top, " Niihari said. Tsujido watched as Niihari tossed back a drink, squeezing his eyes as the alcohol burned his throat. "Shit. Don't tell me it doesn't bother you."
"It doesn't," Tsujido said. Makabe shrugged and stirred his drink, thoughtfully.
"Maybe he likes her," Makabe said.
"Pfft. Unlikely," Niihari said. Tsujido glared.
"It isn't our business," Tsujido said. "Besides. We all know Suitengu-san's aim. He's just biding his time. Have trust in that," Tsujido said, and the others said nothing, just looked at their drinks and the clock on the wall.
It was only two months into the relationship that Suitengu finally started using Kagura, the woman's young daughter. The goddess, who shared the same genetic gift. The club smelled like that brothel, the same smell of sex and bodies that made Tsujido secretly gag. "Bear with it, my friend," Suitengu said, and Tsujido nodded, trying to mask the stench. "This unpleasantness will all end soon."
There was something Tsujido knew. Something Makabe and Niihari did not:
That Suitengu wept tears of blood, as he cried and cradled his sister's body in his arms.
Everything was coming to an end. Tsujido limped forward, one leg hanging uselessly behind him, as Suitengu lay slumped against the wall. He was still in wolf's form, unable to transform back into a human, and as he limped he could see the great wings of Suitengu's blood beating with his pulse, and the blood-tinged tears edging out form the corners of Suitengu's eyes.
With difficulty, Tsujido nudged his friend up, hoisting his body onto him as he had held his sister's once, moving him toward the control center where the bombs were set to explode.
"Why?" Suitengu said. Tsujido set his eyes forward as he walked, slowly dragging the weight of Suitengu's body across the floor. "Why do you not escape?"
He could feel Suitengu close his eyes.
Makabe was dead. Niihari was outside, screaming and raging against the falling sky. Slowly, Tsujido made his way to the bowels of the control room, smoke and sparks obscuring his way.
"Will you follow me?" Suitengu asked, as Makabe nursed his wound and Niihari cowered behind his sword.
And Tsujido nodded, saying nothing, as Suitengu wrapped his coat around his shoulders.
A/N: I just finished watching Speed Grapher the other day, and ever since then I've been jonesing to read more fic about Suitengu and his henchmen. Their backstory was so compelling, I couldn't help but fic it. I'm convinced Tsujido was also Suitengu's only confidante, even if Tsujido worked under the veneer of being his lead henchman *nods*