Disclaimer! I do NOT own Kaze No Stigma, obviously, so I don't own the characters but I DO own the plot line.
Seven devils all around you
Seven devils in your house
See I was dead when I woke up this morning
I'll be dead before the day is done
Before the day is done
And now all your love will be exorcised
And we will find you saints to be canonized
And it's an even song
It's a melody
It's a battle cry
It's a symphony
- Seven Devils By Florence + The Machine
Silence filled the darkened room.
There was nothing beyond the silence that enveloped the dark haired girl who knelt by the door with her right ear plastered against the rough wooden door. Her eyelashes dark against the paleness of her skin fluttered shut as she concentrated on the sound, on any sound, that might resonate throughout the house. With her back facing the small room she usually resided in, a blaring sound echoed around her suddenly, bouncing off of the walls and into her delicate ears. Quickly, her amber colored eyes snapped open and she leaped across the room to the alarm clock, mentally cursing as she slammed the palm of her hand against the 'snooze' button and held her breath whilst she listened for any disturbances in the silence after this outburst; there was none. Her shoulders slumped forward and she inaudibly exhaled with relief. Either no one was awake or no one was home and with all of her heart she hoped no one was home because there were only so many ways she could get out of her room and to school going undetected while someone was, indeed, home.
To her left, sunlight leaked through under the black curtains casting her shadow against the dirty once-white wall. She let out another sigh and wiggled between her dresser and the wall to open her small closet door which was actually more of a wooden slab against the opening of a haphazardly painted book shell - it technically wasn't fair to call it a book shelf considering all of the wooden planks that were meant to hold books had been chopped off to provide enough space to jam a thick wooden branch on the top to hang the small amount of clothes she had. Her slim hands touched the torn up fabric of her dark jeans and the thin material of her black hoodie and long sleeve shirt. Automatically, the girl pulled off her black sweat pants and over-sized school P.E. shirt and placed her daily clothes onto her body. Never did she bother to check her reflection because it would only throw her into a depressed state for the day; she knew what she looked like and she sure as hell did not want to revel in that. Her hair was dyed black but probably had her red roots showing while her amber eyes decorated her thin, pale face. Just like her face, she had a thin torso, arms, and legs, but to her luck she had a figure, not that she tended to flaunt that around. She shrugged.
Once she finished dressing, the girl allowed her hair to fall over her shoulders and rest against the lower part of her ribcage as it protruded slightly from her skin due to the lack of nutrition she received. With a quick glance around the room, she threw her black messenger back over her shoulder and held her all black Converse in her left hand while opening her bedroom door with the right. Cold encompassed her as she silently padded down the stairs towards the front door, her body aching from the multitude of bruises and injuries that plagued her body. All of her life, she lived in abused by her drunk father, abandoned by her mother and brother. Thankfully though, the abuse never surpassed physical harm, it didn't trespass beatings and injuries but she never let go of the fear that one day it would become more, that one day, her father would go too far in his outraged outbursts.
"Ayano, where do you think you're going?" A voice crept up behind her; she froze. It was like ice had been shot into her veins and she didn't know what to say, what to do or how to react.
"School," She finally spoke in a whisper; she cleared her throat and looked over her shoulder, "I have school, remember? Its Monday."
"Did I say you could go to school?" he rose a brow once their eyes met. Black against amber.
"No, I guess you didn't." Ayano muttered, her hand clutching her the strap of her bag between her fist.
"So, then, why're you going?"
"Because I have to."
"You don't have to do anything unless I allow you to do so." Finally, he shrugged away from the wall and walked towards her like a lion stalking its prey, "And I don't think I said you could go to school today." he raised a hand and Ayano froze.
"I'll get in trouble..." His palm rested against her cheek now.
"I don't give a damn if you get in trouble!"
"I want to go to school!" The words barely left Ayano's lips when her father's hand whipped backwards and smacked against her cheek, sending her flying against the kitchen counter.
Ayano bit down on her lower lip to keep from screaming out in pain, instead, she rose to her feet and bolted out the back door, running as fast as her numb legs would take her. She pushed and pushed, harder and harder, ignoring the shouts of protest that followed behind her. Ayano ignored everything from the heat that flowed down her neck to the rage in the voice that pursued her because none of that would help her now. The only thing that would help was getting out of her neighborhood and into the more public area of town. Everyone around her neighborhood feared her father and she'd learned that the first time he beat her. She ran off to her friend's house, a friend whom she no longer spoke to since that day, only to find that they would bring her back home. After that, well, Ayano knew better than to seek for help around her living quarters. Instead, Ayano ran towards school, not caring that her vision was becoming fuzzy because once she got to school she would be safe from him.
Minutes later, Ayano pushed her way through the pool of students and towards the main entrance. Everyone that she passed by stopped to stare, stopped to point and mutter into their neighbor's ears but she was too tired to care. There hadn't ever been a single day in her life where she knew she wasn't the subject of gossip. Hell, from the things she'd heard people thought she was a prostitute who worked for her father and did teacher's favors for grades and that's why she was always on the highest marks. Other people said she was a gang banger and beat the crap out of people who got in her way. Everywhere she turned was a story behind her looks and attitude, either she was stuck up and snooty or she was a psychotic mute. Not a single person knew the real her, and they never even tried to figure out who she was or why she was the way she was, no, they'd all just rather assume.
Ayano made it to the restroom and turned the tap on, allowing the cold water to run out of the faucet before cupping it in her hands and splashing it against her face. Her amber eyes avoided the reflection of the mirror but she knew it was inevitable if she were to properly clean the blood from its wound. At first, she hadn't thought the wound was going to be this bad because she hadn't felt such a harsh impact at first, but when she crashed against the counter something cracked against her skull and caused a wound, and a pretty bad one at that. Ayano retrieved a few paper towels and ran them under the water. Once they were soaked, she lightly dabbed them against the back of her head, biting her lip and whimpering quietly, thankful for the abandoned restrooms. The school was a pretty massive one, so there were always wings that went unoccupied during the school year but the abandoned wing was never used because it was said that someone died in one of the classrooms, or, better said, killed. Naturally, Ayano didn't listen to the tales; why would she? She had enough drama in her life to add on ghost stories.
Facing her reflection, Ayano pulled off her hoodie and hung it on one of the stall doors before yanking off her black long sleeve, frowning as she noticed it was darker along the back from the blood, meaning she'd have to walk around in a hood all day with no shirt under. Sure, no one would notice, but she knew and that was enough to feel uncomfortable. Her amber eyes met the reflected pair that stared back at her in the mirror and she sighed, noting the way her skin seemed paler than the last time she saw herself and shook her head at the mess that was her hair. She pulled out a hair tie and fixed a messy bun on her head before pulling on the hoodie, drying the wound and making sure it stopped bleeding long enough for her to walk towards the nurse's office for a gauze or something when she heard footsteps echo through the hallways; she rose a brow.
"Darren, this isn't funny." the voice wasn't one she'd recognize, but she knew the way the girl spoke that she was both scared and hormonal; great.
"We're not gonna stay long, I just want you to go into that class room with me so you can see it ain't haunted like the rest of the school thinks." This voice was musky and deep, attempting to sound persuading; Ayano rolled her eyes.
She flicked her wrist and sent the long sleeve flying into the trash bin, walking out of the restroom and down the hall towards her first class.
"Kazuma?" His name rang through the room, disrupting the memories that had tainted the back of his eyelids as he stood facing the waterfall of the Kannagi household.
"Hm?" Kazuma turned to see his little brother, Ren, staring up at him.
"Jugo said you could come in now." Ren grinned, flashing him a thumbs up before running down the pathway and out of the gates, probably running late for school or something. With a shrug, Kazuma walked towards the door, sliding it open to reveal his father, Genma, and Jugo in deep conversation.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there before he cleared his throat, annoyance plastering all over his face, "Look, the kid said you told me to come in but you two keep jabbering on like old women gossiping about their soap operas," he smirked, "Want to tell me why you called me over? Or should I let you two get back to whatever nonsense you were going off about."
Anger sparked behind his father's eyes but only served to deepen the smirk that played on Kazuma's lips. It was a never ending feud between his father and him, probably because they were both too stubborn and hardheaded to talk things out, but mostly because his old man was a blind, narcissist idiot bent on having things his way. Jugo glanced at Kazuma with sad eyes before blinking the emotion away so quickly Kazuma wasn't even sure it had been sadness he saw in them, maybe they held annoyance towards him as well. Who knew.
"I asked for you to come because," Jugo paused, clearing his throat, "Well, because I have a job for you; to put it in the simplest way possible."
Kazuma raised a brow, "Not that I typically care, but you always explain, and the fact that you aren't right now spikes my curiosity," he glanced between Genma and Jugo, "Don't misinterpret my curiosity for care; its not. I only care about the details of whatever this task is because that's what I will base my salary on." he shrugged.
"Always about the money, isn't it Kazuma?" Genma muttered.
"I've gotta watch after myself since someone, let's not mention any names, kicked me out-"
"Enough," Jugo interrupted, raising his hands in the air and throwing impatient stares at both Kazuma and Genma.
This was odd.
Jugo wasn't one for interruptions, he was one for sitting it out until the party began fighting. Something wasn't right.
"What is it?" Kazuma asked again, in a politer way, or so he thought.
"You might not remember, Kazuma, but I had-" he sighed, "-have- a daughter around your age, perhaps a year younger, but she was lost to me as an infant." he shook his head, "The task I present to you with todays is finding the location of my daughter."
Kazuma stared at Jugo.
Jugo's old eyes stared at Kazuma expectantly, regarding him with a hopeful yet sorrowful stare. Kazuma looked away from Jugo and shrugged away from the wall, looking around the room to realize a calendar hung on the wall behind his large chair with today's date circled: Today was his daughter's birthday. Suddenly, memories from his childhood bubbled to Kazuma's consciousness, memories he'd suppressed for years.
"Today would have been the day she fought her way to be the next head of the Kannagi family." Jugo murmured to his father.
Kazuma stared between the old men and bit his lip, staring at his opponent with terror. His father made him train every day on the art controlling flames but he could never summon the flames. No matter how hard he tried, Kazuma was never able to-
Kazuma blinked and shook his head, deciding to file away that memory for a later date, a date marked for October 27th, of the year never and looked back at Jugo, "Haven't you tried to find her?" he questioned, raising a brow even though he knew the answer to the questions from the look in his eyes before the words even left his lips.
"Of course I have, but all attempts have failed." Jugo breathed out, "I believe with your wind usage you will succeed where everything else failed."
Silence fell over them, and Kazuma contemplated shooting Jugo before Genma and accepting later but what would be the point of that? Nothing. Life wasn't a game, and besides that, he would get paid well...yet, there was more to it than the usual feelings he felt towards the Kannagi family in general. He didn't exactly hate them, no, that hatred was reserved for his father. He felt closer to Jugo and Ren than anyone other than...her...but he would obviously never admit that, and knowing that Jugo needed his help for something so...important, well, he knew turning him down wasn't ever really an option, now, was it?
"Fine." Kazuma finally said, "but it's gonna cost you."