Chapter 13: Captivity
When they got to the top of the stairs, Zeke unlocked another solid wooden door. He pushed her through, into a reddish room with a bed, a desk, a table, a television, and a small kitchen.
But he didn’t let her relax.
He shoved her through another door at the opposite end of the room and then up they went, up another, smaller spiral staircase.
The next door opened into a room that was the entire circumference of the tower. It was cold and made entirely of stone. There was a bed, a desk, a set of drawers, a fireplace, and a chair. There was no window.
“You kidding me?” She muttered, staring at the room with distaste.
“I know it’s not what you’re used to as a rich kid.” Zeke started, shutting the door behind them and locking it. “But it’s our current accommodations.”
Makoto gave him a dark look. “Don’t presume that because of my father’s wealth I am incapable of living simply. I prefer it, actually.”
Zeke shrugged. “So what’s your problem?”
“My problem is I’m locked in a tower with a dragon and its making me uncomfortable.” She scrutinized the bed, surprised to find it clean and smelling fresh. She sat on it tiredly, suddenly noticing the absence of her insulin.
“Sorry about that.” Zeke sat cross-legged in front of the door. “I’m not here to hurt you. I’m just here to make sure you don’t leave.”
Makoto crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes at him. His talkative, welcoming demeanor did nothing to encourage her to trust him. There was no way she would be opening up to her captor of all people. She barely opened up to Chester on a regular basis.
“I know where she is.” Tadashi dropped his duffel bag on the weapons table and started digging through it.
Hiroshida paused in sharpening his sword and glanced at him, a strange excitement in his eyes. “How? I’ve been out looking for her all day.”
Tadashi gave him a long, slow look before tying his mask over his face. “That’s because you’re not a detective. Or a cat, for that matter. Your daughter’s backpack reeks of rotten meat, and unless Makoto went shopping and forgot to take the hamburger meat out of the bag, my strongest lead was Burned Brick.”
Hiroshida put the sword down. “Burned Brick Manor? How are you sure?”
“I went over there earlier. Zechenshoah’s stench is all over it.” Tadashi put on his uniform and strapped on his belt. He gave Hiroshida a dark look. “I’m going to end it.”
His mentor stood up sharply and marched over to him angrily. “Forget the dragon, Tadashi. Where is Makoto?”
Tadashi shot him a murderous glare. “She’s probably in one of the towers. Her jacket was in the back of an old pickup. And I’m not going to forget the dragon.”
Hiroshida turned away and went for his own uniform. “I’ll be ready in a minute.”
“I’m not waiting for you. Zeke will kill her.” Tadashi backed toward the door, sliding his sword into the sheath on his back.
Hiroshida didn’t argue, and Tadashi turned and ran.
Makoto remained in the same position for what felt like hours. The only thing that broke her concentration and made her fall was the lack of insulin taking its toll.
She didn’t feel anything until a sharp prick in her arm brought her back into focus. She didn’t move a single muscle for an entire hour.
When she finally felt like reapplying her glare of death, she sat up and leaned against the cold wall with a soft moan. “Is that my pen?” She asked, gesturing to the insulin pen in Zeke’s hands.
He shook his head. “I don’t know where yours is. I picked up some insulin on the way over.”
Makoto frowned. “If you don’t know where my insulin is, how did you know I had diabetes?” She really, really didn’t like these people.
“I’m sure you’ve guessed, but—and I mean this in the least stalker-way possible—we’ve been watching you for quite some time. I heard you talking to Hybrid about it.”
Makoto stood up, crossed the room, and punched his face. He didn’t even try to stop her.
She quietly went back to her bed and rubbed her fist innocently.
Zeke was about to comment on her swing when they both heard loud thudding from the staircase below. He stood up slowly and faced the door, his shoulders braced.
Makoto uncrossed her legs and let them fall over the side of the bed, her feet resting on the floor.
The door blew open and Makoto got a whiff of a strangely familiar scent. Unless all the bodyguards were wearing Vortex cologne, Kido Tadashi had stalked her all the way to Burned Brick Manor.
But then a huge black cat appeared in the doorway.
Zeke shifted into obnoxiously gigantic dragon form within seconds, uttering a warning growl at Hybrid. Makoto glanced around the hulking form of her captor and gave the cat an interested look.
“See? What did I tell you?” She smirked. “Less than a day.”
Hybrid jumped at the dragon, sinking his teeth into the reptile’s throat.
Zeke wrapped his talons around Hybrid’s ribcage and threw him out into the stairwell, slamming the door shut. He whipped around to face Makoto. By the time he was looking her in the eyes, he was in human form. “Tell him to leave.” He said.
“Why would I do that?” Makoto got up and went for the door, but Zeke lifted a hand to stop her and she froze mid-step.
“Because I can kill him and I will if I have to—but I don’t want to.” He gripped her shoulder tightly as Hybrid’s growls sounded loudly behind the door.
“I happen to have a lot more confidence in him than you do, you jerk—move out of my way.” She shoved him back, but he didn’t move.
“Makoto. If he gets past me, I die first. After that, everyone that Christina listed back there gets it. I don’t have to hurt him if he leaves you alone. I don’t even have to hurt him if he doesn’t try to get you out. But I either stop Hybrid, everyone you and I love dies, or you ask him to chill out and we both get to sleep peacefully tonight.” Zeke pleaded, genuinely begging her to listen.
Tears filled her eyes as she stared back at him. She had no choice. She had no choice.
She stepped around him with a quiet sigh and reached for the door handle. When she pulled it open, she could see Hybrid coming at her, mid-charge.
He stopped short when he saw her, staring at her in confusion as she watched him from her doorway.
“It’s okay,” She told him strongly.
He just continued to gaze at her unblinkingly, clearly not believing what she was saying.
“Hybrid, you have to go.” She began to close the door, but he took a step forward. “I’m serious. Don’t come for me. You need to leave.”
By the time she blinked, he was standing in front of her in the shape of a ninja. “Makoto...” He started, unsure.
She felt tears fall at the sound of his voice. “Just go. Please, just go.”
He reached for her but she jumped back and slammed the door shut, leaning against it with an exhausted sigh. Her eyes met Zeke’s, instantly filling with anger. “If you speak to me again within the next four hours I will break that chair over your head.”
She went to her bed and sprawled out on it, pulling the thin blanket over herself. She felt her skin crawl with the cold, but then a soft woosh sounded behind her, and then there was a fire roaring in the fireplace.
Fire breathing dragon.
But he respected her wishes and kept his trap shut.
Hybrid remained, conflicted, behind the door to her cell for almost an hour. No one came after him, and Zeke didn’t open the door to bite his head off.
He just didn’t understand how she could reject rescue.
He assumed it was because Zeke was holding a talon to her back, making her speak the words he needed her to speak. But how could she agree to do it? From what he knew about her, she would kill herself out of spite before doing the smallest thing for someone who kidnapped her.
At last he left the Manor, meeting with Hiroshida outside.
“Where is she?” Ronin demanded.
“She told me to leave.” Hybrid responded, and kept walking down the driveway.
“What? What are you talking about, why would she do that?” Ronin went after him, gripping his elbow and jerking him back. “Why didn’t you take her out of there?”
“Because she told me to leave and, oh, I don’t know, there’s a dragon who could use my skin for slippers if he wanted to.” Hybrid pulled his arm from Ronin’s grasp and kept walking.
“Great. That’s fabulous. Well, while you were up there wasting valuable time, I overheard a couple of the cooks talking and I learned a few more things than your detective skills could gather.” Ronin responded, catching up and walking in stride with his partner.
Hybrid didn’t even look back at him, anger still burning at his skin.
“Zeke’s being held against his will. Some lady named Christina has sworn to kill him if he doesn’t do as she says.” Ronin began.
“How is a lady supposed to kill a dragon?” Hybrid snapped.
“I don’t know.” Ronin shot back. “She promised to kill him. She promised to kill all of us, too. One of the cooks even said that Zeke won’t hurt anyone who comes as long as they don’t try to hurt her or get her out.”
Hybrid paused and looked back at Ronin with an interested expression. “You think it’s true?”
Ronin shrugged. “It could be. It’s worth a shot.”
Hybrid glanced back at the manor. “That means I can come back. Either talk Makoto into risking letting me get her out or I can kill Zeke while he’s off-guard.”
Ronin nodded. “If we can’t get her out, we can at least make sure she’s okay.”
Hybrid growled and stormed away from him, heading for their vehicle where it was hidden in the woods.
“What now?” Ronin demanded.
“How can you be okay with letting her stay here? How can you be okay with not being able to free her?”
Ronin shook his head with a short laugh. “Because she’s not being kept in by a bunch of psychopaths. She’s being protected by a powerful dragon. Makoto is safe. As long as we can make sure that she stays that way, it’s alright with me.”
Hybrid swung around, landing a solid right hook to his mentor’s jaw. “You probably think this is the best possible scenario, don’t you? You don’t have to treat her like you hate her anymore because she’s locked in a tower. You can love her and tell her all the truths you want because she can’t access any danger.”
He moved away before he could be overtaken by his temptation to gut him with his claws.
“If you’re waiting for me to feel guilty for that, you’d better pull up a chair, because it’s going to be a long wait.” Ronin snapped.
Hybrid’s fists clenched and he stared at the ground, rage burning through him. “I can’t work with you anymore.”
Ronin paused. “Excuse me?”
“I played your game for far too long, Hiroshida. I can’t be associated with your selfish abuse towards your own daughter. Do what you want, but don’t expect me to be right behind you anymore.” Hybrid glanced over his shoulder at the man he once respected. “My things will be gone by the time you get back.”
He shape-shifted into the panther and bolted off into the night.