AN - Okay, there is a perfectly reasonable reason why this chapter is the way it is so don't question it and see the description beeeeelooow. Good dogs :P jks I 3 u x
Enjoy another of these chapters that don't appear to be going anywhere but actually are :D
Chapter 4 – Lesson 1 – tolerance.
Hoki and Sagami walked into the garden. When they reached us they bowed and Hoki took Misao by the hand as Sagami spoke, "Kyo would like to have dinner with the two of you, if it's convenient."
I blinked wide eyes; this was one of the first times any of the Tengu had spoken to me willingly let alone to invite me to dinner. This was almost suspicious but Misao seemed delighted, so I followed her lead.
"That's wonderful." I said standing unsteadily. Sagami didn't offer me any help so I assumed his friendliness only extended so far. Hoki seemed a little more friendly and open and asked me about what had happened in the alley with Taro. He hadn't seen.
After I explained what I'd done Hoki gasped, "oh, now I understand. You saved Taro's life."
I nodded, "yeah but what does that mean?"
Hoki smiled timidly, "Kyo's accepted you now."
I didn't quite know how to react to that. Should that somehow please me? How would it change living with their notorious clan? Would the others treat me differently?
Misao and I followed Hoki and Sagami up into the house. The corridors looked even more foreboding as we moved across them, fluidly following the other demons. This felt like a momentous occasion. Misao was trotting happily beside me without a care, probably thinking that everything would be fine once this dinner was over. But would it be? Would Kyo just brush everything under the carpet? Everything that I've done to his family?
We reached a large, pure white paper door and Hoki opened it for me and Misao. Sagami announced our arrival and he and Hoki left. The table was laden with three bowls of miso soup, three spoons, three cups of green tea and three triangular shaped napkins. I noticed Taro peek his head round the door frame as I went to sit opposite the Tengu leader. I smiled and he blushed and ran back the way he'd come. My smile faded slowly and I turned back to Kyo and Misao. It looked like Kyo had slipped his hand up her skirt and Misao was just getting ready to slap in around the face. I watched in minor amusement at the argument that followed and Kyo's seriously flawed reasoning for the perverted gesture.
Kyo, who had long since realised I'd been watching turned back to his soup without so much as a glance in my direction, Misao, however, blushed beat red and spluttered apologies at me. I laughed. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure it's normal."
"When were you taken out of school, Dahlia?" Kyo addressed me directly the spoon half way between his delicate lips and his pale, slender fingers.
"Twelve." I answered after only a second's hesitation.
"Was it difficult learning how to defend yourself at such a young age?" He asked scooping up another spoonful of soup. I had yet to start mine.
"Yes." I paused for a moment realising that one word answers would not be classed as cooperating with his offer of peace, so I elaborated, "It was gruelling, all of the training I had to do, but it was worth it. I survived."
Kyo nodded thoughtfully, "yes, you did."
There was a slight lull in the conversation so I decided to do some questioning of my own. I mean, I might never get another chance to talk to the Tengu head as an equal. I might as well take advantage of it.
"So, I'm curious," I asked finally taking a small spoonful of soup, "how did you win exactly?"
Kyo paused in his chewing of what appeared to be a particularly hard vegetable and regarded me with a puzzled raised eyebrow, "excuse me?"
"How did you win – you know," I said gesturing between Misao and Kyo with my spoon, "– Misao."
Kyo smiled slightly, "that's hardly how it went."
"Didn't it?" I asked slightly surprised, "I thought you'd be fighting for her with some other demon bast– I mean, other demon leaders?"
"I found her first." Kyo stated simply. I was a little bewildered by the slightly childish defence.
"What he means is that Kyo and I were childhood friends. He'd figured out I was the Bride of Prosperity when I told him I could see monsters. We became friends and –" Misao blushed as she said the next part, "Kyo had to go away surpass his brother and become head of his clan so – so he could be the one to marry me."
I saw from the slight pinkness on Kyo's high cheekbones that he was obviously a little embarrassed by it. "Wow," I said still pretty bewildered, "that's really romantic." I said in surprise staring doe-eyed at Kyo. He cleared his throat.
"You must've really loved her to train so hard you surpassed your older brother."
He nodded, no longer embarrassed, "my brother is not someone you'd ever want to meet." He said simply, reminding me that not all demon's were as nice as he is… to me now. I nodded trying to convey my understanding.
Kyo stood suddenly, "I should be going. I have some business at the school to take care of." Then he turned to Misao and placed an affectionate hand on her head, "and you need to get some sleep before tomorrow. You have exams coming up and you need to be well-rested in order to revise properly."
"I know." Misao confirmed smiling at him reassuringly, "I'll sleep I promise."
Kyo nodded curtly with a small smile and left.
"Well," I began after he'd shut the door, "that's definitely an improvement."
"Definitely." Misao agreed standing and motioning for me to follow. Once we were both in the corridor Misao hugged me good night and went to grab her coat and scarf.
I walked slowly back to my room relishing in this newfound acceptance. It was weird really. I was living with the creatures that had ruined my life in the first place. Indirectly, yes; but ruined all the same. In my room the peace and quiet almost seemed alien. I'd never before wanted to talk to someone so badly. I didn't really understand this urge. I placed a hand over my heart; I could almost feel the hole in my heart begin to fester and immediately wished Misao had stayed. Why I here you cry? That was a very good question. Having not been in the face of such kindness and tolerance since my father died it was still difficult to adjust to this new life where I felt things I hadn't felt for decades, almost a whole century.
Just as I sat down at my desk to write in my own journal the door burst open. It was Misao looking a little flushed. "Sorry, I forgot to ask. Would you mind seeing Taro for a bit? He hasn't seen you since the accident and he was so worried about you."
I stood suddenly. "Of course!" How could I have forgotten Taro?
Misao smiled warmly, "I knew I could count on you. Well, I'll see you tomorrow then!" With one last smile and a wave she was gone. Scarf and all.
And so, persimmon in hand – I just remembered I hadn't actually eaten the soup from earlier – I walked the deserted hallways of Kyo's house to find Taro. And, unsurprisingly, it was very difficult. Taro was small and fast and even if I got within a few meters of him he'd bolt. Frowning I searched again this time coming within a few inches of his hiding spot behind a cabinet before he breezed out of the room. Confused and more than a little hurt I came up with a plan. The theme for his hiding places seemed to be the kitchen where there were lots of things to hide in, under and behind. So I climbed the cabinets and placed my feet and hands against the boards of the ceiling to hold me up, then I waited. And I didn't have to wait long. I heard movement from outside but I didn't drop down when the door opened. I wanted Taro within my grasp before I let my cover slip. But Taro wasn't the one who walked through the door of the kitchen; Zenki strode in not noticing me as he walked to the fridge and pulled out a bag of grapes.
Suddenly Taro arrived at the door. He spotted Zenki and made a panicked run out of the kitchen. It seemed it wasn't just me he was avoiding, that put me in a slightly better mood. I dropped from the ceiling with a small thump.
I was about to turn around to explain to Zenki why exactly I'd been playing spy but he was too quick for me. Before I knew what was happening my back was to the sink and a kitchen knife was pressed dangerously close to my throat.
"What the fuck were you doing on the ceiling?" He growled pushing the knife so close it cut my throat so a tiny drop of warm, crimson slid down my throat and into my shirt.
I spoke in a whisper afraid that the knife would cut deeper if I spoke properly or even swallowed, "I – I was trying – to catch – Taro." I hissed disjointedly.
Zenki muttered something under his breath and didn't withdraw his weapon. Breathing was becoming increasingly difficult so I had to protest before I fainted, or worse, gasped for air which would definitely slit my throat.
Zenki, slowly and reluctantly, released me and put the knife back into it's holder on the counter beside me. I rubbed my throat coating it with blood which made me wince. I noticed Zenki's pupils dilate but he didn't make any move toward me again.
I knew that my frown was almost breaking my brow but I didn't care. I was trying to hide the terrified, disturbed expression that would undoubtedly cloud my features once he left the room, but he didn't make any move to free me of his presence, which annoyed me a little. He just stood and stared. He nodded silently as if answering an unspoken question in his head. As you would expect, curiosity and confusion over came my fear, which really wasn't all that hard when it came to me. He took another step back giving me the space I'd been craving and took in a large gulp of air, "sorry."
I blinked, then frowned, "huh?"
Zenki rolled his eyes and crossed his arms defensively, "I said I'm sorry."
"Oh," I said, surprised, "well, that's a start I guess."
He nodded jerkily and turned his face away to glare happily at a glass cabinet by my head.
"So," I said, feeling the atmosphere tense and not being sure whether it was better to run or make conversation, "do you know why Taro is avoiding everyone?" That seemed like a general enough topic that we'd both have views on. This seemed like a momentous event and I had no idea why. I'd had a few conversations with the other Tengu in my time here but never with Zenki. That was probably why. He was finally seeing me as something other than 'that bitch who tried to kill the Princess'.
He shrugged almost sulkily and continued to glare beside my head, "I don't know, maybe because you almost got yourself killed running after some stranger."
"That's 'cause he was acting all suspicious and stuff!" I cried in my defence.
"Suspicious?" Zenki drawled, incredulous turning his sharp eyes on me. "You followed him because he looked suspicious?" He slapped a hand across his forehead with a sigh, "it's a wonder you're not dead yet."
"Hey!" I said anger boiling under my skin, "it's not like I asked you for help!"
Zenki clenched his hands into the sleeves of his shirt. "No. We reached you just in time. If Taro hadn't seen you leave when he had, you'd be dead by now."
The realisation hit me like a freight train and I couldn't speak. The fear gripped me again.
"You don't understand." Zenki muttered almost to himself he walked closer to me and placed a large hand on top of my orange hair, "you are part of this family now, you can't stop us protecting you even if you try."
I stared up at him wide-eyed, "I don't understa –"
"No, I don't understand why you said that." I said almost trying to move away from his comforting touch, "a moment ago you were trying to kill me."
He winced and withdrew his hand back to the crossed position on his chest. He shrugged but looked a little disturbed, "reflex."
I raised my eyebrows, "even when you saw it was me you didn't let go."
He sighed and hung his head, hands pressed against his temples, "I don't trust you."
I nodded, "now was that so hard?" Zenki looked up sharply and glared at me. I smiled sheepishly, "sorry, wrong moment for sarcasm. I'm still a bit socially retarded."
Zenki blinked in surprise then his face split into a large smile and he was laughing. What the hell?
"Why are you laughing at me? I was apologizing!" I cried stomping my foot childishly. I cringed internally for doing something so utterly immature but I recovered quickly because it appeared that Zenki had been too busy rolling around on the floor to notice.
Zenki stood quickly – I almost didn't catch the movement. He pushed my shoulder slightly, still chuckling quietly to himself. "You're alright, you are. I'll be sure to remember that next time I have you pressed up against something with a knife to your throat." And with that, he left. He left me, standing there hopelessly lost and wondering why on Earth I'd been in there in the first place.
I found Taro in my room. After the fight… talk… thing I had with Zenki I stalked back to my room a lot more confused and irritated than I'd been in a while only to find Taro sitting, fidgety and teary on my desk chair. The moment I opened the sliding paper door he jumped into my arms his voice gurgley and breathy. "Sorry, sorry, sorry," he kept muttering.
I patted his back and smoothed his wild hair as he sobbed into my kimono. "Don't worry, Taro, I don't even know what you're sorry about." I said honestly, trying to seat him safely back into the desk chair.
Taro hiccupped cutely and wiped his eyes with small fists, "I – I am so so-sorry, Onii-chan! I di-didn't mean f-for i-it to g-g-go th-that fa-far – "
"Shhh." I hushed him quietly and hugged him close to my chest. I could feel his warm tears soak through the shoulder of my kimono but I didn't care.
But Taro carried on mumbling his sobbing apologies and reasons, "a-and n-n-now y-you're g-g-going a-and I-I wo-won't b-b-be able t-to see y-you a-anym-more!"
My eyes widened at his last comment. "What do you mean 'you're going' and 'I won't be able to see you anymore'? What's going to happen to me?"
Taro sniffed loudly and leaned back in his chair, "did Master Kyo not tell you?"
I shook my head, my shoulders tensing without my knowledge.
"Master Kyo has enrolled you at the same High School he and Misao attend. You will be going tomorrow."
I stood on the pavement outside the Tengu residence trying and failing to pull the short skirt of my school uniform down over my exposed legs. "This is completely embarrassing." I muttered still trying to shield my exposed skin from prying eyes.
Kyo sighed and grabbed my cheek with painful force. I cried out. He pulled my face closer to his and said with a wicked smirk, "you'll get used to it, Onii-chan."
I flushed hard and yanked myself away from the sadistic Tengu leader, "h-how did you – ?"
The smirk was gone from his face and his hand fell limply against his side, "I have ears, you know. You two weren't exactly quiet."
Still blushing furiously I clutched at my sore cheek. We stood, waiting for Misao to emerge from her house. Her father came out onto the porch with her and fussed over her while she tried to get away. Suddenly he glanced up at Kyo and I and he narrowed his eyes. Before I could think of what to do Misao's father was making his way toward us a determined glint to his metal-framed glasses. "I've never seen you before." He commented crossing his arms just as Misao reached us. "Are you one of Kyo's friends?"
"Dad!" Misao said pulling the man back to face her. His expression softened. "She's my friend!" Misao said taking my hand and bringing me over.
"Dahlia," she said looking straight at me, "this is my father. Dad this is Dahlia."
"Er… pleased to meet you." I said extending my hand he took his hesitantly looking a little sheepish.
"Sorry about that." He said with a small smile, "just a bit protective."
I nodded, "I understand." Because I did. I understood very well. My father had been the same. I winced a little at the memory and withdrew my hand quickly not looking at any of their faces.
"So, you live on this street?" He asked conversationally. I didn't really feel like making conversation but I couldn't help but respond to his fatherly aura.
"Yeah, just moved here. I've moved in with my parents friends after their… accident." I lied easily. Misao tried not to look surprised at how natural it sounded but it didn't really work.
Mr. Harada didn't notice it thought because his face took on one of the deepest sympathy, "I am sorry, Dahlia. You are welcome to come and visit us whenever you like. A friend of Misao's is a friend of ours."
I smiled genuinely at him and bowed slightly, "thank you Mr. Harada I really appreciate that."
Mr. Harada smiled at me, tried to smile at Kyo and hugged Misao before trotting back into his house.
Misao and I chatted while we walked to school. Kyo stayed close by Misao's side and I had to move behind them both whenever someone wanted to pass us on the street but I didn't mind. It was just Kyo's way.
When we reached the school I realised that I wasn't in the same class as Misao. This, as you can probably imagine, made me absolutely… terrified.
Misao hugged me outside my tutor room and waved as she mad her way over to her friends. I felt extremely alone walking into that class room. I hadn't been to school for far too long and personally I felt far too old to be in this stupid little school girl's outfit.
I felt like every single pair of eyes in the room was focused on me. Obviously, they were. The teacher rose from his chair and motioned me over with a warm smile. "Class this is Dahlia Morgan. She's that exchange student I told you about."
The class made a slight hum of approval before the teacher, Mr Takahashi, ushered me to an empty seat on the second row from the front. I sat down nervously holding the small, clear pencil case that Misao had given me. I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't know how much I'd know. This was all far too new and confusing for my liking.
"Right class, today we'll be learning about European History."
I raised an eyebrow. That seems like a topic I might be good at.
"The Russian Revolution happened, when?"
With a blank mind and the prospect of a bleak day I sat back and tried to imagine what Russia looked like in the Spring.
I couldn't find Misao any where. She'd told me to meet her by the large statue of some ancient Japanese author but I had no idea where that was. I'd asked a few people but the directions they gave me just got me even more lost. I stood alone in a once busy corridor totally confused and totally exasperated.
I walked to the window and peered down at the students leaving the school for lunch.
"Don't tell me," a voice called from down the corridor, "you're the mysterious and beautiful exchange student I've been hearing so much about?"
I turned to face a dark haired boy in the same school uniform sauntering down the corridor toward me. He didn't look like a demon but he'd have to get closer before I'd really be able to tell and by then it could be too late.
"Well I'll be," I replied smirking out of the window, "I didn't expect to meet such a flatterer on my first day."
The boy leaned against the window next to me and looked down at the students milling about until the next lesson. "And I didn't expect to meet such an interesting, pretty face either, but life's full of surprises." He said smiling at me.
I sighed and turned to face him. I narrowed my eyes at him, "I know that smell."
He chuckled and crossed his arms, leaning casually against the wall, "my, you do have a good nose on you, for a human."
"Demon's do have a distinctive smell." I said in explanation.
The demon's smile faded a little. "Yes, I suppose so."
"But I don't recognise your smell." I said frowning, "who's clan do you belong to?"
He shrugged, "I won't expect you to know. I'm the heir of the Suijin clan. Not the most powerful, very peace-loving. Yoshi Sora, at your service mi-lady." He gave a theatrical bow.
"Suijin? Doesn't ring any bells I'm afraid." I said still gazing out at a group of youngsters running about near the gate.
Yoshi shrugged and turned intelligent eyes towards the window, "we're not involved in human affairs… often." He smiled then and turned his dark blue eyes back to me, "none of our clan has ever even met the Celestial Fruit let alone made an attempt to marry her." He shrugged again and smiled at me cheekily, "think I'm in with a chance, this time?"
I barked out a laugh, "Keep dreaming, demon-boy."
He smiled despite the rejection, "sure. I'm stubborn."
I laughed to myself realising something pretty vital about this exchange, "you know, about a month ago I probably would've killed you."
Sora had the gall to laugh at that, "yeah and I'm nominated for prettiest girl in the school."
I smirked wickedly down at the students, "don't underestimate me. I've killed more heir's than you could ever imagine and from much more… notorious clans than you." I turned to glance at the demon who had taken on a thoughtful expression, "be careful, Sora. I'm not someone you want to piss off."
Understanding seemed to spark in his intelligent blue eyes and he smiled good-humouredly, "I'll take that into account. Thanks for the warning."
I smiled back at him already feeling myself becoming more tolerant by the second. This boy wasn't too bad. He seemed funny and cute and not too bad company. "So, are you here for the other bride?" I asked conversationally.
Sora shrugged with a small frown adorning his dark eye brows, "Yes, I was. The plans have changed now."
"Ah, yes. The bride already has her bridegroom." I said smiling fondly, "so what do you plan on doing now?"
Sora shrugged again with a smile. "Enjoy life? My brother has resented me for years so perhaps he'll surpass me."
"And you want that?" I asked, surprised.
Sora looked thoughtful, "yeah, I think I do. I'm tired of all the responsibility; all the special treatment and the expectations. I just want to live a normal life."
I grinned widely at him, "like a human?"
Sora grinned back, "exactly like a human."
I smirked, "you're a refreshing change from the demons I've met, I must say."
"Well, that's good, isn't it? Now, seeing how lost you looked when I first saw you I'm guessing you're looking for lunch, which I can help you with."
I moved away from the wall and glanced down the corridor again. Seeing no one, I sighed. "I was trying to find a statue because I was going to meet someone for lunch." Perhaps it wouldn't be wise to mention that someone was the Celestial Fruit of prophesy.
"Oh, I know which one you're talking about. It's a big bronze guy. You can't miss it. I'll take you there."
"Can't you just tell me where it is?" I asked hopefully.
Sora shrugged with a sly smirk, "sorry, it's a bit complicated. I probably won't explain it right."
I narrowed my eyes at him, "any other reason you want to show me?"
Sora eyes widened in feigned innocence, "Now, why would you think that? Have I given you any reason to doubt my word?"
Reluctantly I turned my eyes from him in surrender, "no, no you haven't."
"Good," Sora said enthusiastically grabbing my shoulder. I flinched about to attack but Sora's raised eyebrows stopped me.
I flushed horribly, "reflex."
Sora considered me for a moment, "you're quite a strange bride, aren't you?"
I chuckled humourlessly, "yes, I know that. Let's go."
I tugged him along the corridor before he yanked me back sharply. I glared at him in return and he pointed a long, slender and pale finger in the opposite direction, "you're going the wrong way, darling."
The blush that heated my face I was sure would be permanent.
AN - So I know you're thinking "why the fuck has she been enrolled in school?" Good question, and one that I refuse to answer until you find out for yourselves in later chapter.
Anywho, can anyone guess the pairing yet or have I made it really ambiguous? I don't know if ambiguous is a good thing or not but this is the chapter with the pairing spoiler in it XP toil over it and read the subtext! (there isn't any, I'm messin with you)
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