InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity Redux: Vivication ❯ Impetuous ( Chapter 2 )
Gripping the cell phone so tightly in her hands that it groaned a little under the stress until she forced herself to loosen her fingers just a little, Saori heaved a sigh of relief at the welcome sound of her brother's voice. "Nii-chan? Thank kami . . . Nii-chan, I need your help . . ."
"Saori? Why do you sound like you're in a complete panic?"
"Well, I kind of am," she admitted with a grimace as she lifted her chin far enough to peer into the rear view mirror at the back of the van—not that she could actually see anything, given that it was pitch black outside, so the shadows inside were even darker and thicker than she could credit. "I . . . I might have done something . . ."
There was a very long, very pregnant pause on Rinji's side of the connection. Then he sighed. "How bad of a something might you have done this time?" he asked rather dryly.
She winced. "We-e-e-e-ell . . ."
She heard the squeak of his office chair. "Is it as bad as the time you decided that you needed to take off to follow that stupid j-pop band to Hokkaido without telling kaa-san or tou-san?"
Making a face since she still remembered just how irritated her father was over that stunt, she shifted her lips to the side as she thought it over. "Umm . . ."
Rinji grunted. "Out with it, Saori."
She sighed. "If someone kidnapped Toga-oji-chan, how bad would that be?"
He grunted. "It'd probably fall somewhere between 'wish-you-were-dead' and 'instant-obliteration' . . . Why?"
Flinching at the possibilities that Rinji had presented, Saori bit her lip. "Oh, that's . . . that's bad . . ."
"Why? Is someone trying to kidnap oji-san?"
She heard the hint of teasing in his tone, but it did little to offer her any kind of comfort, actually. "No," she allowed.
"Okay," he said, "then what's up?"
"I . . . I . . . I might have . . . kidnapped . . . the Asian tai-youkai . . ."
Dead silence for a long, long minute. Then Rinji barked out an incredulous laugh. "Sorry, I thought you said you might have kidnapped the Asian tai-youkai."
She squeezed her eyes closed for a moment. "I did—well, I mean, I might have . . ."
"You . . . You did do it or you thought about doing it?"
"Umm . . . He's . . . He's kind of in . . . the back of the van . . ."
"You . . . He's . . . what?"
"It was an accident!" she blurted.
Rinji sighed. "Saori, you can't accidentally kidnap someone . . . You kidnapped Demyanov-sama?"
"The hatch fell because it won't stay up by itself, and it must have hit him on the head, but there wasn't anyone else around, and, given that he was unconscious, I was afraid they'd think . . ." She winced. "I panicked!"
Another sigh—this one, very long and drawn out. "The hatch? What the hell do you mean, the hatch?"
"The van door!" she hissed. "Sometimes I wonder about your supposed-brilliance, nii-chan . . ."
He grunted. "So, you . . . accidentally . . . knocked out Fai-sama, and then you, what? Stuffed him in the van because you were too afraid to go ring his doorbell?"
She let out a deep breath. "Wow, you really do understand! His name is Fai?"
"For the love of—No, I don't understand, Saori," he snapped. "Can you focus, please? Go knock on the door and explain everything, and it'll be fine, but get the poor man out of the back of your van!"
"Why can't you?"
"Because we're about twelve hours from his castle."
"Hell's seven hounds—are you serious?"
"I did tell you I kidnapped him, didn't I?"
"And he's still not awake?"
"N . . . No . . ."
". . . Did you kill him? Because if you did—"
"I didn't!" she swore. "Anyway, I can't take him home—not until he meets the orphans, and—"
"Then why did you call me?"
"Well, it's just . . ." She winced. "Do you think I should tie him up?"
Rinji sighed again. "No, I really don't think that'd be a good idea, Saori. In fact, stay where you are. I'm going to call ojii-sama. Maybe he can talk Fai-sama into not locking you up for the rest of your life . . ."
Saori gasped. "Oh, no, don't call him! Nii-chan!"
"He'll tell me to take him home!"
"I told you to take him home!"
"But I don't want to take him home!"
"Did you know? He's . . . He's really good-looking, too . . . Do you think he's single?"
Rinji grunted indelicately. "Even if he is, he's not going to want anything to do with a crazy nutjob that kidnapped him, don't you think?"
She made a face. "Well, he might be able to look past all that."
"Somehow, I really doubt that, Saori . . ."
She snorted, too. "You don't know that, nii-chan. He could be a very forgiving sort."
"They will throw you in jail for this," Rinji pointed out—unnecessarily, in Saori's opinion.
"Yeah, well, okay, but if he doesn't see the orphans—meet them—he won't change his mind about defunding the home."
Rinji's sigh this time was different from the other ones. This one was long, drawn out, almost defeated. "So, there is a method to your madness."
Heaving an almost defeated kind of breath, Saori focused on the road ahead of her. "He wants to send them all to live in other homes with humans, and if they're put in homes like that, then who's going to teach them all they need to know about being youkai or hanyou?"
"This is a horrible idea, you realize," Rinji pointed out.
"It's the only chance I've got. These pups . . . They deserve to have a home—a stable home—a real home . . . People don't want to adopt them because they're not babies. They hear 'abandoned children', or 'orphans', and they immediately think there's something wrong with them, and there isn't. Sometimes, it's just pure, plain, dumb bad luck . . . They've already lost more than their fair share, you know?" she said. "If I can change his mind, then being thrown in jail will be worth it."
"If I can change his mind, then being thrown in jail will be worth it."
Blinking into the darkness from his spot on the floor in the back of the rickety old van, Fai winced as the vehicle hit a bump in the road, as his already sore head bounced off the cold metal floor with a heavy thud.
'Which wouldn't even be an issue if you'd just pushed her aside and escaped when she'd checked on you after that phone call to . . . whoever she'd called . . .' his youkai-voice pointed out. 'But no, you go and pretend that you're still knocked out? What was your logic in that, anyway?'
He frowned. To be completely honest, he really didn't know.
'Or you do, and you just don't want to admit it.'
Reaching up, gingerly touching his temple where the van door had fallen and hit him, he winced. He could feel dried blood, but he felt fine, he supposed, other than the slight throbbing that still lingered.
By rights, he ought to be furious, shouldn't he? This unknown girl had tossed him into the back of her van and took off with him—basically, she'd kidnapped him—and common sense told him that he really ought to be madder than hell.
So, why wasn't he?
'Because . . . Because you didn't want to defund that orphanage, any more than she wants you to do it, and you know why . . .'
He sighed. He supposed there was some truth to that. After all . . .
"Alexei, the children need a place to go—a place that understands their specific needs. It's worth it! If you weren't tai-youkai—if something happened to us before Fai was old enough to take care of himself—I'd want him to be in a place that could help him to understand what he is. Wouldn't you?"
"It's not that simple, you know. There's only so much in the budget, and every year, there are more things that need to be addressed. Just where are we going to come up with the money for this, Faina? Answer me that, and I'll gladly see it done."
Faina considered that for several long moments. Then she laughed, the sound of it like tiny silver bells. "Give me a few days, and I'll figure it out!" she promised. "I'll find a way that won't take anything away from the other allocations . . ."
'Mother,' Fai thought as the memory of that conversation faded away. His father had funded that home because Faina had asked him to. Stepping away from it was not something that Fai had ever wanted, but when there had been two large forest fires that had destroyed so much in the last couple years alone, along with some other natural disasters that had pushed against the already thin bottom line, there simply wasn't the cushion that had existed before, and that was the problem. Last year had been bad enough. He'd almost exhausted his own personal accounts because the money that stood in the family account simply wasn't quite enough, just to meet the demands, and this year? Well, he couldn't do it again, not without delving into Yerik's trust fund, and he simply could not—would not—do that . . .
'You want her to take you there, don't you?' his youkai said. 'You want to see what it was that your mother loved about the place . . . You . . . You want her to convince you . . .'
'Don't be stupid. I don't have the time to go on some weird road trip with a girl that I don't even know. She kidnapped me, remember? That's against the law, last I checked, and Yerik . . . Yerik is going to freak out when he figures it out . . .'
'Then why aren't we stopping her? Why haven't you told her that you're awake?'
That was the question, wasn't it? He wasn't entirely sure what was stopping him, what it was about her that made him hesitate.
His youkai-voice heaved a sigh. 'You missed your meetings today. You've got a bunch of them tomorrow, too, not even to mention the rest of the week. Just how long do you think it'll take for people to realize that you're missing? And Yerik—'
'Yerik's at school, where he's going to stay, no matter what kind of crap he decides to spout.'
'You know, maybe you ought to consider what he said instead of just summarily dismissing it. If you try to 'tai-youkai' him, you're going to chase him away.'
Fai sighed at the reminder . . .
The ticking of the clock, the dead silence in the room as Fai struggled to keep a tight rein on his rising temper . . .
"I've given it a lot of thought, you know. I'm not just pulling all of this out of my ass, Fai."
Glaring across the room at his younger brother, he deliberately said nothing as he emptied the glass of vodka in his hand. "You're not? Because you could have fooled me. That's nothing but idiocy, Yerik. It's too dangerous, and you're—"
"I'm not stupid. You do your job because you want to protect youkai. That's what I want to do, too. You're tai-youkai. You need to focus on your responsibilities. You shouldn't have to be the one, running off to hunt down this person or that one. That shouldn't be your job. No other tai-youkai—"
"Father did the same," Fai reminded Yerik coldly. "This is not another jurisdiction. This is my responsibility. If I refuse to fight, then I don't deserve the office."
"It's not about what you deserve, Fai," Yerik replied, shaking his head slowly, almost sadly. "It's about . . . It's because of what they say, isn't it? Because they say you're not old enough to be tai-youkai . . ."
Standing abruptly, Yerik strode past Fai to grab a cup and dump vodka in it before tipping the bottle into Fai's empty glass, too. "No, it is. You think I haven't seen it, but I have. You tried to shield me from all of it, and I . . . but you can't—couldn't. You take it all on yourself because you don't want to give them any more ground." Sipping the drink, he leveled a no-nonsense look on his older brother. "You're tougher than anyone I know," Yerik went on quietly. "You don't have to prove anything to anyone, and I . . . I want to help you. I owe you that."
"You owe me nothing," Fai growled. "All I want for you—all I've ever wanted for you—is for you to go to school, to become something—whatever you want to be."
Yerik nodded, but he didn't look away from him, either: didn't back down, didn't give any ground. "I want to be a hunter. That's what I want."
'Can you really tell him that he cannot be a hunter if that's what he wants to be?' his youkai-voice asked, breaking into the memory, even as it slowly faded.
Fai scowled into the darkness, wincing again as the van hit yet another pothole in the road. 'Yerik's far too sensitive to be a hunter. He writes poems and keeps a journal. He's not meant to be a hunter, no matter what he thinks.'
'But it's really not your place to dictate what he can or cannot do, either. You're his brother, yes, but you're not his father, and even then, do you honestly think that your father would—?'
'Father would never have allowed it, either.'
'You really don't know that.'
'I know enough.'
His youkai sighed, but said no more, and for that, Fai was grateful.
Saori pulled over with a sigh, figuring that they were deep enough in the middle of nowhere that it would be safe to camp for the night as she shoved the door open and stumbled out of the van with a groan since her muscles were entirely tense and sore from having spent the majority of the day behind the steering wheel. She'd thought about stopping at an old motel she'd seen, but, given that she really wasn't sure just how mad Fai-sama was going to be, she figured it'd be an all-around bad idea.
'Well, sure, he'll probably be a little out of sorts,' her youkai agreed rather thoughtfully as she made quick work of gathering kindling for a fire. 'But once you explain what happened, he might not be as angry . . .'
She frowned. Somehow, she kind of doubted that any explanation was going to make things all right, as far as that went . . .
"I will give you five minutes to explain to me exactly why I shouldn't have you arrested right now for kidnapping."
Saori gasped and whipped around, very nearly whacking him with the armload of kindling wood she'd managed to gather. "I . . . I didn't hear you get out of the van," she blurted when he leaned back to avoid the branches.
He grunted and yanked the wood away from her. "Probably because you were too busy, whistling under your breath—entirely off key, might I add."
"I'm really sorry," she added quickly. "It's just . . . I . . . I panicked . . ."
"You . . . panicked," he echoed rather dubiously, kicking the decaying leaves, the sparse grass, away in a good sized circle. "Should I ask what happens when you don't . . . panic?"
Biting her lip as she tucked her hair behind her ear, she sighed. "Well, I . . . I normally don't kidnap people," she quipped, breaking into a small smile.
Her answer did nothing to amuse him, and she sighed, dropping the feigned coquettishness as she ducked her chin. "I was afraid that I'd be thrown into jail for assaulting you with the . . . the hatch," she hurried on to say. "I didn't think that they'd listen when I tried to explain, and it wasn't on purpose—I mean, sort of. I-I-I mean, it was an accident, but I knew that the hatch tends to fall if you don't hold onto it. I was just so upset that it slipped my mind, and-and then, it slipped my hand, and—"
He held up a hand and slowly shook his head. "You're making my headache worse with all your babbling," he growled, dropping the kindling into the cleared circle. "I don't suppose you have any matches?"
Digging into her pocket, she produced a simple disposable lighter and handed it over. "I . . . I did grab some food when I stopped to fill the van," she ventured, careful to keep her voice lowered since she had a feeling that she was already treading on very thin ice, as it were. "It's probably not very good, but . . ."
He said nothing as he lit the fire, concentrating on his task, which she took as begrudging agreement, and she stifled another sigh as she hurried around the van to retrieve the plastic bags. She'd managed to grab an assortment of pirozhki along with some other snacks and a few bottles of kvass, and when she returned to the fire, she grimaced when she spotted him, sitting on the ground and rubbing lightly at his temple.
"Let me look at that," she said, handing him the bags that he took and set aside.
"I think you've done quite enough for one day, don't you?" he muttered.
"I just want to make sure that you're all right," she replied.
"I'll live," he retorted dryly. "You can take me home tomorrow, and I'll consider not having you arrested."
Wringing her hands as she sank down next to him, she sighed. "I . . . I want you to come with me," she forced herself to say. "I just want you to meet the children."
To her surprise, he sighed, too. "I'm not heartless," he informed her, his tone indicating that he believed she thought as much. "I know very well that these children have suffered losses and heartache that most adults don't begin to comprehend. It's not my job to make judgments based on personal feelings. I'm not afforded that luxury."
'You know, you're going about this in the wrong way,' her youkai pointed out. 'Think about it. He's young, right—at least, young for a tai-youkai. He's been tai-youkai for a little while, too, so . . . So he knows better than most, don't you think? After all, he lost his parents, too, or he wouldn't be tai-youkai now . . .'
Pondering those words, she stared into the dancing flames that did little to dispel the chilly night air. She hadn't thought of that, no, but maybe she should have. Maybe if she appealed to that part of him—the part that had experienced the same kind of loss . . .
Blinking when he shoved a bottle of strawberry kvoss under her nose, she took it, absently noticing that he'd removed the cap for her, too. "Thank you."
He grunted, but didn't really reply.
"How old were you when you became tai-youkai?" she ventured at length.
He narrowed his gaze on her momentarily before shifting his eyes back to the fire. "I was twenty," he said. "Does it matter?"
"Twenty? But . . . How old are you now?"
He sighed. "Thirty-six," he replied. "Almost."
"Oh . . . I'm twenty-one," she told him. Then she giggled. "Well, almost."
"I didn't ask," he stated.
For some reason, his entirely dry statement only made her laugh. "If you're trying to be rude, it's not working very well."
"Do you ever shut up?"
Her smile dimmed, but didn't disappear, and she shrugged. "Sometimes," she said. "My older brother says that I have serious impulse control issues."
Handing her a cheese pirozhok, he snorted indelicately. "You do."
"You don't know that," she countered, taking the pastry and biting into it.
"Oh, I think I do," he retorted, jamming half of a potato pirozhok into his mouth. "Case in point . . ."
"I told you," she shot back rather primly, "I panicked."
He grunted. "At least Yerik doesn't have that problem."
"Oh! You have a brother, too! A younger brother, I gather . . ."
He made a face. "Much younger."
She sighed. "Are you scared to meet the children?"
"Scared?" he echoed, arching his eyebrows as though the very idea was absurd.
She nodded. "Because you understand them, don't you? You had to have lost your parents, didn't you? So, you know . . ."
He let out a deep breath. She felt it more than she'd heard it. He tossed the paper wrapper from his pastry into the fire. "I'm not scared, no," he told her, his tone a little pensive. "Even if I do feel bad, though, there's nothing I can do about it. Is it really a good idea, do you think, for me to go there, to meet these children, to make them hope that things would be different, only for them to be disappointed in the end?"
She sighed, blowing her bangs straight up in the air with the exhalation. "Would it be so bad? To give them hope?" Shifting her eyes to the side, she caught his gaze and held it for a long moment. "Maybe . . . Maybe you can't change your mind about the funding, but . . . But maybe you can show them that there are better things out there for them, too. Somewhere, down the line . . . If they work hard? If they . . . If they dream . . ."
Pirozhki: literally, small pies. (pirozhok is singular) Pastry or bun stuffed with cabbage, meat, potato, or cheese.
Kvass: a traditional Slavic and fermented beverage commonly made from rye bread. It is slightly alcoholic but not enough to be considered such by Russian standards. It can also be flavored with various things, such as strawberries or mint, etc.
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WhisperingWolf ——— Monsterkittie ——— Athena_Evarinya ——— Okmeamithinknow ——— NyteAngel7 ——— minthegreen
Nate Grey ——— lianned88
Final Thought from Fai:
A little too curious for her own good …
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Vivication): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.