Tea Leaves and Red Silk

Turn Away from the Fire

Match Seven: Turn Away from the Fire:

-Present Day-

Kiku couldn't hold back anymore. Throughout dinner, the traces of the wasteland wouldn't let him eat. The other countries ate and socialized at this engagement, unaware of the coming hell right next them. He lowered his glass and darted out of the dining room. Yao happened to look up and notice the door sliding shut.

"Can you excuse me for a moment?" he whispered in Ju's ear. "I think Kiku isn't feeling well."

"Sure," she said back. Yao got up from the table and followed his brother. Ju clutched her chopsticks as the door slid shut behind him.

Kiku stood outside in the yard, mumbling something to himself. The images of fire danced around in his eyes. Ikebukuro's darkness started to reach the surface in his brain last night. The gaping hole in his sanity already ate away at him. The other countries couldn't see or feel it yet.

"Kiku?" someone asked as they grabbed him on the shoulder. The Japanese whipped around to see Yao staring at him, frowning.

"Is something wrong?" he asked. Kiku's eyes had the look of a cornered animal.

"You cannot go through this wedding!" he blurted out. Yao tilted his head.

"What are you talking about?" he asked. The Japanese man drew his mouth closed. That slip of mania already alerted one of the others to the wasteland beckoning to them. He lowered his head.

"Do you promise not to think I'm crazy if I tell you?" he asked.

"What?" Yao asked. "What's the matter with you? You've been acting strange ever since you left the hospital three years ago. Did something happen?" Kiku dropped his shoulders.

"To be honest, I don't really know how to answer that myself," he said in a quiet voice. Kiku lifted his head. "I see strange things."

"Strange things?" Yao asked. Kiku shook his head.

"I can't you tell you anything else," he said. "I already got somebody killed because of it."

"What do you know mean?" his brother asked. "You aren't making any sense." Kiku grabbed him by the arms.

"You can't go through with this wedding!" he pleaded.

"I have to," Yao said, resting his hand on the Japanese man's shoulders. "She's doing this to save her clan."

"Is there any other way?"

"She doesn't seem to believe so."

"But what do you want?"

Yao pressed his lips together. "You wouldn't understand." Kiku sat down on the ground.

"It started with the visions," he admitted with labored breath. Yao opened his mouth to speak.

"Please," Kiku said. "Let me finished. Please listen to what I have to say first." The older brother closed his mouth.

"Alright," Yao said. "I will listen." Kiku looked in the eye.

"I've only told this to my therapist," he confessed. Yao's facial expression went blank.

"You've been in therapy?"

"Please listen to me!"

Yao closed his mouth. "Alright, tell me everything. Take your time if you need to."

"I thank you." Kiku drew his eyes closed and broke the awful truth pieces to his older brother.

Meanwhile back at the table, Ju began facing her own mental break down as she listened to her guests' chatter and waited for Yao and Kiku to return.

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