Scene XII Speak Into My Mind
Tokyo, Japan. 2014, February
As rough as the drive had been, coming to a full stop was almost flawless. Tsumi had expected Chini to drive up the curb to park, or even overtaken the car ahead and swerve across the road to land on their side. But no, the former teacher managed to halt the vehicle perfectly between a beaten van and a small, white mini.
As the engine died, Tsumi’s shoulders slumped. They had already discussed their plan in full and had gone over the details on how they were going to get Yujin out of his coma. While they never saw eye-to-eye, not even Tsumi could deny that, together, they made quite the team.
“Are you sure he’ll show up?” She asked, turning to look out at the dimly lit street. Night had crawled in during their drive through town.
“I never said I was sure,” Chini remarked, opening his door to swing his legs out. It was cold tonight, that much was obvious by the way his cheeks flared from the bitter wind. “All I did was send him the address. There was nothing else I could do or say to convince him.”
Tsumi blinked, opening her own door to follow Chini into the frosty air. She moved passed the man, staring up at the lifeless building across the road. Fochun Tera was the bar Rida worked at. Tsumi would often go there whenever her girlfriend was working. It was a small place, tucked in the back streets outside Tokyo and that had a bad reputation for selling alcohol to under-age drinkers. It was always filled with teens either drowning in their troubles, making out in the dark or just out for a good time. Not exactly the best place for decency; but certainly, the ideal spot for their upcoming plan.
“Come on.” Tsumi waved a hand through the air before striding to the front doors.
Chini followed with sceptical eyes. When he spoke, his voice was a low hiss. “You really expect it to be open for us to just waltz in?”
Ignoring the comment, Tsumi raised a balled fist and banged on the metallic doors. The time to wait for a reply was long and Chini had grown impatient as Tsumi took a step back. He moved, hands out to shake the doors when they opened and an elderly man peeked through the gap, holding it open just enough to see who had disturbed him. With shaky hands, he began to close the door shut when Tsumi planted her foot in the doorway, halting his escape.
“Yowai,” Tsumi narrowed her eyes, addressing the cowering man. “We need to use the bar.”
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, August
In a matter of months, the Orphanage had been burnt to the ground, The Chairman’s Son had been poisoned and The Parasite had been attacked. The days were growing longer with anticipation; Hokori remained determined, claiming he believed Senbo would wake up. Everyone else had been less enthusiastic, discussing among themselves whether it was time to pull the plug and let him slip away. It cost money after all.
The only reason Yoku continued monitoring Senbo and kept him alive was because of how Hokori might act. Without him and his power, there would be no future or Yuugen – it was an unspoken statement that even Dotai would refuse to comment on. Such troublesome matters were swept aside as Neko hurried down the halls.
As per usual, she was up early, preparing a schedule for Yokubo and preparing the new Coven-members for their expected positions and meetings with Conductors for class. Violet hair bobbed against small shoulders as she turned a corner, sliding thanks to her flat-heeled shoes. As she reached her destination and ducked into the room, her face hardened.
The bed across from her was empty and there was no-one to be seen. Over the past few weeks, visiting the boy had become something of a routine for Neko in the mornings right before she carried out her endless list of chores. She had been encouraging him a lot since his bandages came off and Yoku gave him advise for physiotherapy exercises to reduce muscle waste in his biceps and forearms.
He had recovered miraculously; the only reminder of the fire being the large, ugly burns spread across seventy percent of his body. Miryoku did his best to wear big jumpers or hoodies to keep the scars hidden; afraid of making anyone uneasy. Neko hardly found herself uncomfortable around them.
Sighing aloud, Neko turned to leave. Her work was priority, and she would never waste time looking for a boy who may not want to be found. Adjusting her shirt, she made way towards The Chairman’s quarters. There would be no surprise if Yokubo was busy tangling himself up with someone – Neko was used to it by now. The first time she had walked in on The Chairman giving someone a blowjob was enough to suck the living life out of her; pun intended on suck.
She was traumatised for all of two hours before she accepted the fact her boss was just a horny human who liked to waste his time with strangers to ease his responsibilities. Even now, as Chini lay in a coma and Senbo hanging by a thread, Yokubo had not ceased in his lustful adventures. Neko had expected no less. The Chairman was only human.
Passing the classrooms had brought Neko to a stop. Her ears picked up the sounds of shouting, of thudding and punching? Such behaviour was despicable in these walls and Neko would not turn a blind eye. With a puff of her chest, she moved to pull the door back and face the commotion inside.
Most of the desks in the classroom had been moved to the side, presumably tossed in an act of anger. One of the few desks which remained upright had none other than Miryoku cowering under it. The shouting had come from the tall man looming over said desk, slamming a fist down against its surface. Kashi Fumetsu had been mentioned once or twice during Miryoku’s more talkative days. Neko had thought he was exaggerating about the anger. Frankly, Miryoku had not exaggerated enough.
“You’re not coming back home until you prove to me that your presence is worth my time, do you understand?!” Kashi yelled. His face was red, and his neck was tight with thick veins. He looked ready to combust as he slammed his fist down once again.
Neko watched Miryoku tremble beneath the desk. His shaking head of nods and mumbles of yes had been enough to have Kashi back off. The man turned to leave – only after flipping Miryoku’s desk into the air. Miryoku had shouted, arms reaching up to cover his head. Kashi never laid another hand on him as he moved away; practically shoving Neko aside. The girl was able to stand her ground, despite the difference in strength and height. Had she been planning to intervene; the time was long gone, and she had clearly missed the chance.
Once Kashi disappeared, Neko moved. She reached Miryoku’s side in seconds and knelt on the floor to reach for his shaking shoulder. All it took was a soft graze of her finger’s against his arm and Miryoku whirled, hands reaching for Neko’s neck. It was an act of defence – of fear. But Neko was quick to grab those burnt wrists and pry his arms away.
Miryoku was stronger. His cry of desperation summoned a glow to emerge from his palms, burning Neko’s skin. Only once his eyes opened did he stop. The glow died and he released Neko, watching her collapse to the ground in a coughing fit.
“Neko-?! Oh, God, I’m sorry! I thought you were someone else, I-I’m so sorry-!” Miryoku shook, curling his hands into small fists. He stared with wide eyes of gold and fear, watching as the girl sat up and rubbed her neck. “O-Oh, God. I hurt you- I-!”
“Miryoku,” Neko croaked. She had to pause and clear her throat. “Stop apologising.”
Miryoku shuffled back, moving along the ground until he was safely tucked under another desk. Even now, he was still shaking; perhaps even more than when Kashi had been present. He could only stare at his hands. His ugly, burnt hands had summoned Magick. Magick without the Void.
“I did that to you…”
Neko was dazed. She had questions but her throat hurt too much to speak and when she moved her hands, she could only wince at the sight of blood along her fingers from rubbing her neck. She coughed, clearing her throat just as Miryoku stood to flee from the room. Whatever Neko wished to say was left on deaf ears and she blinked in awe at the boy who could create fire from fear.
Tokyo, Japan. 2014, February
Chikai had expected more than to arrive outside a dingy looking bar. He could only turn up his nose before thanking his driver and stepping out. He narrowed his eyes, guard on high alert. As the years had gone by, Chikai had bent more and more to people’s requests; Yujin and Chini included. A chance to repent for all he had done in the past. It would never be settled.
Upon reaching the door, Chikai tensed. It was open ajar and swung on its hinges, loud enough to send a loud creak to his ears. He cleared his throat, readjusted his glasses, and forced himself to step inside and walk through the short, narrow hall into the main room. To his left was a stage over-looking stacked tables and chairs. To his right was an elderly-looking man standing behind the counter.
“Good evening,” Chikai raised his hand, walking over to the bar. “My name is Chikai Chikatta. I’ve come to meet someone.”
“I’m very sorry, sir.” Came the reply. The man looked like a cornered rabbit; eyes wide and chest fighting for breath. Chikai could only move back.
“No need to be sorry. I’ll just come back another day-”
“No,” Chini’s voice cut the tension, stepping out from the backroom behind the bar. “You won’t.”
Chikai merely glanced the man up and down. “So, you’ve let your hair come back to its natural colour? Does this mean you’ll be returning to Yuugen, Chi-san?”
“Don’t call me that!” Chini snapped, slamming his palms against the bar. His red eyes glinted, and he nudged the man beside him, jaw clicking. “You can go, Yowai.”
Yowai only seemed relieved and scurried away. He disappeared through the back door, echoing footsteps in his wake as he trailed upstairs. He would have likely retired to his bedroom to hide beneath the covers and wait for this to end. It was not his fight.
Chikai was the first to speak before silence made its home in their company. “I heard about Yujin. Terrible news.” His eyes wandered to the ground. He looked sympathetic. Really sympathetic.
Chini dismissed the concern. “Give me the cure and you can leave.”
“What?” Chikai’s mourning expression was erased. He blinked, nothing but confusion washing over his body and carried on his tone. “What cure?”
“The cure!” Chini grit his teeth and hopped the counter. He was inches from Chikai’s face, hands shoving against his chest. “To make Toi wake up after you poisoned him!”
“No, wait!” Chikai raised his hands. He attempted to step away, knocking his hip against the nearest stack of chairs. “You don’t understand! I didn’t do that to Yujin!”
Chini’s eyes flared. He moved, allowing Tsumi to appear from behind the bar. She moved at a speed Chikai could never match and he opened his mouth, ready to protest when a balled fist met his face. Everything turned black after that.
Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, September
Yoku clicked her tongue sharply. She dropped her pager on the metal tray in front of her, having just informed her fellow councilmen the good news of Senbo Shitto’s awakening. She moved, sitting on the edge of Senbo’s bed to inspect him and received a hand swatting her arm away. Yoku practically hissed.
“Let me see your stitches.” She reached out, grabbing Senbo’s shoulder to roll him onto his back and out of the fetal position he had curled into. In the end, she was practically straddling him as her gloved fingers unravelled his bandages to inspect the thick line across her patient’s throat.
Senbo sighed heavily through his nose, eyes staring up at the ceiling. He sniffled, choking a whine which raised Yoku’s attention to look at his face. She pursed her lips, watching tears roll down his cheeks as he cried in silence.
“…. Stop crying.” She ordered bluntly, finishing her check-up before climbing off. “Hokori will be here soon. Do you want to look like a mess?”
Senbo could only cry harder and he moved, sitting up to reach for Yoku’s sleeve. His blotchy face and pale lips trembled. If he wished to speak, no words came and Yoku could only reply with a raised brow; as if she had never seen a human cry before in her life. It took a heavy sigh of defeat to leave her painted lips before she moved, sitting on the edge of the bed to give the man an awkward embrace.
Senbo dismissed the obvious tension radiating from the woman and shuffled, lacing his arms around her before burying his tear-stained face into her shoulder and sobbed against her soft hair. Yoku could only stare at the head of the bed with a distant expression. She had never even given such comforts to her own brother when they were little! What else was she supposed to do? Yet slowly, she raised a hand to cup the back of Senbo’s head and hush him until he calmed down.
Senbo exhaled, unlacing his arms to move back and lay against his bed. He looked exhausted. “I-”
“No talking.” Yoku raised a finger. “Surgeon’s orders.”
Senbo clamped his lips shut and turned his head, wincing at the motion to his neck. He felt his chest deplete and stomach twist. The last time he lay in recovery with stitches, Hokori had been right beside him. Now he had no-one but Yoku, simply out of necessity rather than cutesy. Had Hokori given up? Did he think this was on purpose? As if she could read his mind, Yoku spoke.
“It has been a month since you were found in the lab. Naturally, we could not halt the Coven’s schedules, despite your condition, so Hokori has taken your Coven under his wing since the term began.” Yoku paused, tugging off her gloves and washed her hands. “But since this academic year has only just begun, I hardly see why Dotai would not consider reassigning your Coven back to you. That is, if you still wish to work here?”
“I need to create a cure for The Chairman’s son.” Senbo croaked. He moved, rolling onto his side once again. “How is he doing?”
Before Yoku could reply, the door to recovery opened. Yokubo and Okui strolled in, offering a small nod to Yoku before pulling up a set of chairs around Senbo’s bed. They began talking; mainly about the business of terms and Coven assignments. Neither went out of their way to ask how he felt or if he even wished to teach this year. Senbo could only reply with yes or no as Okui handed him papers and Yokubo got him caught up to speed with both academic work and his son’s condition. No pressure.
Only after the meeting had ended and Senbo was left to sleep in Yokubo and Okui’s departure, Yoku began tidying up. Her shift would end soon, and she needed to return to her lab for repairs. Most of the materials and equipment had been restored thanks to Yokubo. Yoku could only thank him with a stern nod and hard eyes. Now she stood, staring at the tray of sharps and forceps on the tray beside the sink. She should have tidied them away, but instead moved to pick up a scalpel and turned it over in her palm.
Senbo’s soft breathing was a reminder to his weakened, defenceless state. He was clueless, back turned as he remained on his side. He would have never seen it coming as Yoku moved towards him, raising the scalpel above her head. The grip was so hard her knuckles turned white and when she moved, her arm came down to literally stab Senbo in the back when her wrist was caught and she was pulled by another hand on her stomach.
“Oh?” The God of Chaos whispered against her ear. “Are we really that desperate?”
“Hokori…” Yoku whispered. Her heart was racing against her chest, yet her expression never wavered to indicate fear. “I never heard you come in.”
“Clearly.” Hokori hissed, twisting Yoku’s wrist until she dropped the scalpel. Hooking his ankle around her calf, Hokori spun the woman around and pinned her against the wall.
Yoku’s head knocked against the white stone. She bit her tongue in the collision and smirked, hiding any trace of pain as she blew a strand of violet hair from her sore head. “So cruel. You should know better than to treat a lady with such manners.”
Hokori snorted, flipping the woman around. He pressed her back to the wall and cocked his head. He had a way of making the motion a threatening one. His slitted eyes and low voice always helped.
“I think you better leave, yes? No-one needs to know about your childish actions.” He hummed, cupping her chin with enough force to leave the faintest of bruises on her cheeks. “And if you ever do anything like that again, I shall show you my childish actions. Understand?”
A small stir of noise came from Senbo as he moved. It was enough to make Yoku turn away and leave, tucking back her hair and straightening her lab coat as Hokori watched her. He refused to move until she was gone and then sighed, turning back to the sleeping Senbo. He hummed, pausing momentarily to kick away the fallen scalpel under the nearest cabinet.
“Rest well, little one.” Hokori cooed, sliding off his shoes before climbing onto the bed. He laid behind Senbo, pressing his forehead against the man’s shoulder and closed his eyes to rest; shielding him from the cruel reality that was Yuugen.
Tokyo, Japan. 2014, February
Chikai swallowed harshly, head tilting back over the chair he sat on. He tried to catch his breath, fearful of receiving another punch so soon after waking up from the previous hit. He had to compose himself, to breath and think before he could look up at Chini and Tsumi’s faces. To see them both in the same room was like seeing the Grim Reaper, waiting to take you away.
Tsumi slapped Chikai across the cheek, dismissing his question before he had the chance to spell it out.
“We do the talking.” Chini snipped. Whenever I find your words annoying or I think you’re bullshitting, Kokutan is going to hurt you. Got it?”
Chikai pursed his lips together. It took a matter of breathing through his nose and adjusting his shoulders before he looked back up. “You don’t understand-” Tsumi slapped him again.
“Tell us what happened to Yujin.” Chini bent his knees, hands clasping together. He looked desperate behind those furious red eyes. “Now.”
“I can’t tell you that-” A punch.
“Where’s the cure?”
“I.. I can’t tell you that either-” Another slap.
The process replayed over and over until Chikai turned silent. His cheeks were swollen and purple. His nose was bloody, and he was covered in sweat. He could have stood at any time; there were no bounds keeping him in place, no ropes or chains, handcuffs, or wire. He sat. Silent. Defeated.
Tsumi raised her fist to deliver another punch but Chini caught her hand before she could move. They shared a look, sceptical and patient. When Tsumi lowered her hand, Chini crossed his arms as they allowed Chikai to speak through his mouthful of blood, head hanging with shame.
“Years ago, she poisoned you, Chini. You were the only thing stopping her from taking the position as Chairman on the Council. She wanted to take charge, to lead Yuugen and Projeckt Mirai. With you gone, she would actually have a chance – but when The Parasite began creating a cure, she tried to kill him, too.” He paused, licking his bruised lips. “Even after you left Yuugen, you were still a threat to her. She made sure to have Yujin tagged, hoping you would never leave his side and… during Himitsu Senso’s funeral last year, Yujin attended. Yoku could never create poison like The Parasite could, but she created something and slipped it into his drink – a virus that would lay dormant as a cold before taking effect. She thought it would be enough to make you return to Yuugen, to lure you into her trap if Yujin was gone.”
Tsumi moved, tapping Chikai on the shoulder before the information could even be processed. “Where’s the cure?”
“In Yuugen,” Chikai moved his head, narrowing his eyes. He knew Tsumi was blunt, but to not even question his story was something else. “I-I can get it for you and bring it to Yujin.”
Chini was not as blunt as Tsumi. His lip quivered at the truth, that knowing his own aunt wanted him dead. He gritted his teeth and threw his hands above his head. “And get yourself killed? It’s fucking suicidal.”
“What happens, happens.” Chikai moved, turning his battered face towards the window. There was nothing to see but moving cars and dim streetlights. He sighed. “I just… don’t want to be a part of her anymore.”
“Even though you’re her Sorcerer?” Tsumi deadpanned.
“Yes.” Chikai looked back up. His sharp brows narrowed, and he finally stood. “Even though I’m her Sorcerer.”