Harmony Act V: Pride

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Scene XII: Manipulator

Chiba, Japan. 2014, May

Yoku stepped out of Hokori’s office with a smile worthy of greed. She carried herself in high esteem as always, passing Hari and Kumo who stood ready for Hokori for their early morning chores. Only once Yoku had disappeared down the hall, Hari turned to Kumo and jabbed her in the shoulder.

“Told ya the Boss was sleeping with her.”

Kumo readjusted her large glasses. “That proves nothing. She just happened to walk out of his office. There is no evidential proof that your bet has been clarified.”

Hari’s brow twitched and she snagged Kumo around the shoulders, grinding her fist against the top of Kumo’s head. “Listen here, I want them coins you owe me-”

“What are you two doing?” Hokori appeared from his office, yellow eyes narrowed and jaw tight. He looked beyond pissed. Not towards the girls standing in front of him, but more so for the woman that just left.

“Oi, Boss.” Hari dropped Kumo to the floor unceremoniously. Their rough attitude and violent behaviours were a normality here, thus Hokori hardly paid mind to Kumo when she hit the ground. “Why was that woman in there with ya? Ya shagging or something?”

Hokori blinked, turning to Kumo; figuring she would have a more intellectual remark. He pressed his shoulder to the doorframe and crossed his arms, lips remaining still, eyes dull; patient as Kumo picked herself up from the floor.

“Hari and I were having a bet. She was convinced you and Yoku were, well… together.” Kumo hummed, wetting her lips. Her eyes never met the man’s face; she was too busy controlling her laughter.

“Ah,” Hokori looked back to Hari. His tone was something of amusement. “What were the conditions for this bet, may I ask?”

Hari stepped up, smacking Kumo over the back of her head. “If I won, Kumo gives me all of them coins I leant to her over the years. If I lose, Kumo gets half of me savings. So, who wins, Boss?”

“Yoku and I are not an item. We are not sleeping with each other. I am afraid to say your bet has been lost for once, young Hari.” Hokori chuckled, tapping his closed fan against his thigh and scratched his chin with his spare hand, humming lowly. She only happened to be in here with me to discuss the plans for the upcoming show.”

Hari went red in the face and balled her hand into a fist. She shoved said fist into her jeans’ pocket and grabbed a handful of coins she had won from Chishiki earlier. She practically punched Kumo in the chest when she handed them over, commenting how she would give her the rest later.

“You know, you should have thought about your bet more seriously.” Kumo said, counting the coins in her hand. “Everyone knows women are not exactly the Boss’ type.”

“What?” Hari turned her head from the smirking Kumo and back over to Hokori. “That true, Boss? Ain’t fond of a lady’s touch?”

Hokori flicked his wrist, opening his fan effortlessly to cover his mouth. “The specifics of what I do in the bedroom shall remain my own business, thank you.”

“Yes, Boss.” Hari cracked a smile, rubbing the back of her shaved head. “Sorry, Boss.”

“Now, moving on.” Hokori piped up. “I have sent Muchina out to put up fliers around Tokyo and deliver the tickets. Kumo, I would like you to update the webpage and spread the news on social media. Hari, I need you to liaise with Kin about seating arrangements when he gets back from-” It was rare for Hokori to trail off mid-sentence, and an even rarer rarity for his eyes to turn wide.

Kumo and Hari turned in sync, following Hokori’s eyes down the hall. There stood Kin and Katsubo – nothing out of the ordinary other than Kin’s swollen cheek and the fact he was wearing Katsubo’s coat. The reason Hokori had stopped in his sentence was on behalf of the man who followed Kin around the corner, dressed in a cape with a mop of blue, messy hair.

“You can go.” Hokori spoke quietly, dismissing Kumo and Hari.

The girls were quick to do as told. It was dangerous when Hokori turned dark and although he had never hurt his Coven, unlike some Conductors, he had yelled at them in the past when his temper reached its peak, and no-one wanted to see him snap today.

Kin stepped forward once Hari and Kumo had disappeared around the corner. He moved quickly and stood on his toes to whisper in Hokori’s ears. Hokori’s jaw tensed and he nodded slowly before raising a hand to inspect Kin’s bruised cheek.

“Is nothin’, Boss. Dabblers ‘n’ all.” Kin muttered, stepping away.

“Very well.” Hokori whispered, turning his head to stare down the hall. He raised a hand towards the man cowering against the wall, a silent command for him to join his side and Senbo obeyed with little reluctance.

Katsubo watched the scene with wide eyes. The way Senbo rubbed his scabbed hands together, picking scars until they cracked. He looked to Kin in hopes the whole thing would be explained but Kin shook his head slowly, walking away from The God and his Parasite.

“We best go.” Kin said, urging Katsubo down the hall without a second to spare, leaving Hokori alone with Senbo.

“Come.” The God of Chaos waved his hand as he moved, stepping back into his office. He held the door open for Senbo and watched him jolt once he closed it with a sharp bang.

Senbo mimicked the actions of a caged animal – nervous, eager, and unpredictable. Hokori only sighed and offered a hand, tracing his fingers along The Parasite’s shoulder. Senbo reacted by evaporating into a wisp of black smoke and reappeared behind the desk.

“Don’t…” Senbo muttered. He shook his head and dropped himself in Hokori’s chair, pale hands clasping together as he drew a deep breath in. “Don’t touch me.”

“Very well,” Hokori closed his fan with a sharp sound. His brow twitched when Senbo began to sway, remaining silent save for the light humming from the back of his throat. “Why are you here? You know this is hardly the time for social calls.”

“I wanted to, ah, know if everything went well. With Aisu, I mean.” Senbo turned the chair back. He was chewing his lip, peeling away dry skin as his hands shook against his bouncing lap. “I… needed to know.”

“I sent someone else to see her. I have yet to hear back from them, so I’m afraid your journey was a wasted one.” The reply was strict, firm. Hokori turned to the door without waiting for a response and opened it swiftly. “You probably wish to leave now, yes?”

Senbo appeared on the other side of the door with a frown on his face. He tugged his cape further around his slim shoulders, specifically around his neck. Hokori blinked, refusing to give a reaction to The Parasite’s constant tricks.

“Not even a goodbye?” Senbo pouted, shuffling closer.

“I hardly remember there being a goodbye when I visited you the other day.” Hokori countered, turning back to his desk.

Once more, Senbo reappeared. He was sitting in the swivel chair, legs splayed, and ankles crossed upon Hokori’s desk as he tugged the ends of his sleeves and avoided Hokori’s gaze. He knew how much it irked The God of Chaos whenever he used his powers – specifically when he used it against him. Any other time or reason would be dismissed but even Senbo knew was beginning to get on Hokori’s nerves.

“What else have you come for, hm? I am too busy to deal with Yoku and your sudden appearance is hardly helping with anything!” Hokori barked, slamming his hands upon the desk’s polished surface.

Senbo disappeared again, echoing a soft gasp. Hokori expected him to reappear immediately, but no such thing happened. Frowning to himself, he straightened up and surveyed the room. He whirled, facing the door. Nothing. Hokori could not fight his disappointment and he cursed himself for scaring Senbo away, closing the door quietly. He pressed his forehead against its polished surface before moving towards his desk.

A flicker appeared in the corner of his eye. His heart skipped a beat when Senbo reappeared, huddled against the wall. He turned his head towards the bookcase in the corner to hide. Hokori approached with slow steps, wary. Senbo’s teleportation technique usually landed exact and precise. He never faltered; unlike now.

“Senbo,” Hokori knelt, brows knitting together when he noticed the way The Parasite was panting, clearly out of breath. “Your powers-”

“It’s nothing. It doesn’t matter…” Senbo cut in. His blue eyes peered over his shoulder, bright orbs of fright and madness beneath streaks of blue, greasy hair that cascaded across his pale cheek. “I’ll be dead soon, anyway…”

Hokori felt his breath hitch in his throat. A small scoff left his lips and he reached out, carefully turning Senbo to look at him; despite his previous warning not to be touched. A small sound of annoyance was all he received from Senbo as he handled him; pushing his back against the wall and pulling his legs out to shuffle closer.

“Why do you say such things, fool?” Hokori snipped mildly.

“Don’t you see? I’m not going to last, not like you and Yoku. My time is almost… almost finished.” Senbo’s lips quirked. He took Hokori’s hands in his own and pulled the blond closer. “Look at me.”

Hokori’s shoulders tensed, as did the rest of his body when his hands were engulfed in cold palms. His eyes flickered over Senbo’s face and he was close to asking what the man was talking about when he noticed the faint traces of lines running across his pale face. They dipped and curved like cracks on breaking glass, barely visible unless one was looking for them.

“Your skin is so cold…” Hokori whispered, tracing the pads of his fingers along the man’s delicate cheek. He stared into his eyes – once bright and full of life, now beginning to fade, leaving a glaze of white to cover his irises and pupils. “Your eyes, too.”

“I told you.” Senbo swallowed thickly and moved, pulling his head away from the gentle touch he used to adore. “The elixir is rejecting me. So… So you’ll have nothing to worry about now. If I’m gone.”

“What do you mean by that?” Hokori raised his voice, his large hands cupping Senbo’s face; forcing him to look up. “You mean to say I will be relieved with your absence from this world?”

“No.” Senbo laughed, a short choked sound. He did everything in his power to stop his welling tears from falling. “I know everyone’s weakness. I know that Yoku’s is her daughter, that Yokubo’s was Chini, that your weakness is me. When I die, that fucking bitch will no longer have a hold on you! You won’t have to do what she says! You can rebel without consequence!”

“Stop it!” Hokori snapped. He bowed his head, pressing their foreheads together. “Stop it… Please, do not say such things.”

“But it’s the truth, isn’t it? Yoku is controlling you. She’s using me as an excuse, isn’t she?” Senbo whispered, reaching a hand between them to grip the fabric of Hokori’s cardigan. “It’s okay because I’m going to die.”

“I do not want that.” Hokori whispered, closing his eyes. A small sob left his lips; frustration and anger being the only noise he could make as he moved his hands from Senbo’s face and down to his small, shaking shoulder. “Please…”

Alois.” Senbo cooed, lifting a hand to cup Hokori’s cheek. He hummed, running a scabbed thumb beneath the damp creases of the God’s eye. “We cannot live forever.”

If Hokori had intentions to counter, he was cut off by the feeling of Senbo’s cold, cracked lips against his mouth. The affection was enough to make him lose concentration and a tear fell from his eye whilst he deepened the kiss. Senbo remained unfazed, idly brushing away the tear before he pulled his mouth away and dropped his hands into his lap – Hokori was faster, grabbing the scarred, pale wrist to lift his hand back to his cheek.

“None of this should be happening.” Hokori eventually spoke, recomposing himself as he stood from the ground, pulling Senbo up with him. “The elixir should not be rejecting you. Not after all these years.”

“But it’s the same symptoms from all those people who were rejected during The Trial.” Senbo murmured, lacing his fingers against Hokori’s hand. “It didn’t happen right away; everyone was healed and no longer disabled for a while before their illnesses returned and they…”

“…Were torn from the inside out.” None other than Yoku cut in. Her fingers were clasped over her flat stomach and she smiled, eyes drifting from Hokori to Senbo. “I happened to forget something when I left earlier. Oh, and I did knock, but it seems you were occupied.”

Senbo gingerly hid behind Hokori, escaping the woman’s eyes. He gripped the back of Hokori’s cardigan, eyes wandering to the ground as he began to hum – a nervous tick, followed by the biting to his lips and the back of his scabbed hand.

“Are you truly being rejected by the elixir, Senbo? Poor thing.” Yoku pouted, turning her attention back up to The God of Chaos. “I am more than certain Hokori would do everything in his power to save you. I think he would even be willing to continue this show for me if I happened to have an antidote for your illness.”

Hokori’s eyes narrowed. “How can we know you speak the truth?”

“Oh, you cannot.” Yoku replied with a smile as bittersweet as it was unmerciful. “Are you truly willing to risk otherwise?”

“This show must mean a lot to you if you are willing to risk so many lives.”

“Senbo must mean the world to you if you are willing to risk your own Coven for his life alone.” Yoku countered, stepping into the room. She moved, perching herself in Hokori’s chair and crossed a leg. “This is all quite ironic, yes? The three of us being the only ones who remain out of Dotai’s greatest experiment. Should we not learn how to work together again? We have the powers to take over this world of Dabblers. You, Hokori, why… you are a God with your powers; it would be selfish to keep it for yourself. And you Senbo; even you are powerful enough to outbalance the Void and this world’s barrier. To be able to summon Magick straight from Concordia without having to cross the barrier is remarkable.”

“I’m not the only one who can manipulate the balance from the Void,” Senbo spoke up. His brows knit together and he fumbled with Hokori’s cardigan, distracting himself to kill the temptation to look up at The Enchantress. “A member of my own Coven is capable of doing it. He can control it so much more than I ever could.”

“Oh, yes. Miryoku Fumetsu. Such a cute little boy. He shall grow into a fine young man within the next few years.” Yoku tipped her head back, rolling her ankle from beneath the desk. Her smile was smug. “Tell me, have you interacted with any member of your Coven as of late? I understand that one or two have passed away in the last year, what with your ridiculous life choices. But little Miryoku could hardly be considered yours anymore. He has been in my Coven for the past few months now.”

Senbo finally turned his head up; not to Yoku, but to Hokori, hoping the man could argue Yoku’s accusations. The tense jaw and shake of his head made Senbo’s heart sink.

“She speaks the truth.” Hokori glared daggers at The Enchantress. “She brought him here after disposing of The Chairman. He acts like her personal lap dog, always willing to do whatever she says.”

“And he is so good at everything I tell him to do.” Yoku beamed. Her tone was laced with threat; enough to make The God and his Parasite shudder. “I assume you will be continuing this show, Hokori. Senbo’s life is on the line and time is truly running out. If his life alone is not enough to convince you, then perhaps the loss of your Familiar would be an even bigger discomfort on your behalf.”

“You will not touch Kin or Senbo.” Hokori breathed. “When this show is over, I want you, Miryoku and everything about you far away from Chiba, understand?”

Yoku laughed in the God of Chaos’ face, slinking off the chair to walk over and invade his personal space. She held his eyes, dismissing the obvious flare in his pupils and the way he held an arm outstretched to shield the cowering Parasite behind him.

“Ah, you are so amusing to me.” She reached up to pinch Hokori’s cheek and hummed. “When this show is over, everyone will know my name. The world will know my name. I will be The Chairman and Yuugen will be mine, and not even you can stop me, God of Chaos.”

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