InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity Redux: Vivication ❯ Fury ( Chapter 66 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter 66~~
~Fury~

~o~


The stingy and wavering light of the fire burning on the hearth of the decrepit old fireplace cast misshapen and almost macabre shadows: a study of light and dark.  The cottegi where they had taken shelter for the night was long-abandoned: a skeleton of a structure with walls that were barely hanging on, but it sufficed.  Located less than an hour from Evgeni’s estate, it was a good enough place to hole up, to fine tune a plan that was slowly starting to fall into place.

She’d be lying if she tried to say that she wasn’t just a little nervous.  She was smart enough to realize that the entire thing hinged upon her own ability to convince the griffon-vulture-youkai that she knew nothing, that she was frightened and the typical damsel in distress . . . It had to work perfectly.  It had to . . .

“There’s a good chance that Evgeni’s going to have back-up.  He’s no fool, and even if he thinks that I’m bringing her back, he’s distrustful enough that he’ll have his underlings, guarding the estate.”

“How many, do you know?” Kagura asked, waving away the bottle of water that Saori offered her.  She wasn’t entirely convinced that she could trust him, but she was, at least, willing to hear him out.

Taras shook his head, wincing and jerking to the side when Aiko gently wiped at the laceration on his cheek with a cleaning wipe.  “I don’t,” he replied, scowling her.  “He has a handful of security guards that he keeps on hand, but he may have hired more, given that he seemed a little . . . suspicious.”

“This might sting,” Aiko interrupted just before spraying the antiseptic onto the wound.

He hissed loudly, his scowl shifting into a very menacing frown that Aiko summarily ignored.  “It’s fine,” he growled, trying to wave her away.

Aiko summarily ignored him, and worse, she grasped his chin and held his face still like he was little more than a small child.  “Hold still.  I’ll just put a bandage on it till it seals closed.”

He sighed but let her do what she wanted.  “Anyway, men like him . . . They’re entirely given to their delusions and their suspicions, and from what I’ve seen, Feodosiv is worse than most.”

“I think the best idea is to let him take me there like he was supposed to.  That way, Evgeni-san doesn’t realize right away that I know what’s going on,” Saori added.

“I don’t like the idea of you, marching in there like that,” Kagura remarked with a shake of her head.  “And Fai-sama won’t, either.”

“I’ll watch out for her,” Taras growled, still trying to elude Aiko’s tender care.

Kagura wasn’t quite ready to allow that, though, as she crossed her arms over her chest and leveled a no-nonsense look at the man.  “You’ll understand if I’m not exactly ready to trust you, given the circumstances.”

He nodded.  “All right.  Then, what’s your plan?  Bust in there with all guns blazing, so to speak?  Do you think that’s the right approach?”

“Obaa-chan, he’s right . . . I wanted to see if I could get any answers out of Evgeni-san, and he won’t talk if he feels cornered . . .”

Kagura still didn’t look convinced.  “We’ll follow,” Aiko said in the same tone she’d use if she were talking about the weather.  “We won’t be far behind.”

“I’ll make sure she’s safe,” he stated once more.  “I’d rather not find out what the tai-youkai, not to mention the Inu no Taisho, would do to me if I didn’t.”

Kagura narrowed her formidable glare on the man.  “If you allow any harm to come to my granddaughter, you won’t have to worry about what my grandson-in-law or my mate will do to you.  You’ll need to worry about what I’ll do to you.”

He nodded slowly and without taking his eyes off of the formidable woman.  “Somehow, I think you might well be more frightening than the both of them would be—at least, in this,” he allowed.

She didn’t look impressed, but she did nod, too.  “You have no idea.”


-==========-


“Is this really necessary?” Taras growled under his breath as he planted his hands on his hips and glowered at the three women.

“Just do it,” Saori insisted for the third time in the last few minutes.  Time was ticking away, and Taras absolutely refused to do what she asked, which she supposed she could understand, and yet, it made sense to her, too.  “You know, Evgeni-san isn’t stupid.  If I go walking in there with you like this, he’s going to know that something’s up,” she reiterated.   “He’ll never believe that I came along with you willingly.”

He was clenching his teeth tightly enough that she could see his jaw ticking.  “Forget it.  The handcuffs, fine, but I’m not—not—hitting you.”

She sighed.  “Just once—just enough to make it look good,” she coaxed.

He glanced at from her mother to her grandmother and back again, and once more, he shook his head.  “The handcuffs will be enough,” he assured her.  “Now, can we get moving?”

She made a face.  “Kaa-chan—”

Aiko quickly shook her head.  “I can’t, Saori-chan . . . I could never . . .”

Saori let it go as she turned to face her grandmother.  “Obaa-chan—”

Kagura’s expression was entirely inscrutable.  She stared at her for a long, long moment, but nothing about her gave away her thoughts on the situation, either.  In fact, she hadn’t said a thing since Saori had stopped them to give voice to the one thing that she’d considered all night.

That was the thing, wasn’t it?  Evgeni was too clever—and too distrustful—to simply take Taras on his word that he’d managed to kidnap Saori without any kind of struggle.  She knew it, and, on some level, Taras knew it, too.  He was simply disagreeing since he’d rather not have to deal with any kind of repercussions that might come his way from Fai—or anyone else.  She knew, too, that she could understand his reasons.  Even so, it had to be believable—entirely believable—or it’d all be pointless . . .

Kagura nodded almost imperceptibly—no more than just the slightest movement of her chin, really—as she flicked her gaze from Saori’s face to Taras’.  “She’s right,” she said, though she didn’t look like she wanted to admit as much.  “You should . . . should hit her—just once.”

Taras’s scowl shifted into one of abject disbelief.  “No,” he stated flatly.  “Absolutely not.”

Kagura put a hand on Saori’s arm when she started to coil herself to spring at him.  Before she could think, just what she was doing, the woman shoved on Saori’s shoulder and pushed her around, only to strike her soundly on the cheek, up near her eye.  Her head snapped to the side as a sharp pain erupted under the sting of the hit as the scent of her own blood filled her nose,

“I’m so sorry, Saori-chan,” Kagura murmured, her eyes suspiciously bright.

Saori shook her head, smashed her cheek against her raised shoulder and upper arm.  “It’s fine, obaa-chan,” she insisted.  “Is that better?”

Kagura still looked entirely discomfited, but she nodded once.  “Good enough.  Just . . . Just make sure you remember to fight against the restraints enough to make it look good, too,” she said.

Taras grimaced.  “And what are the odds that they’re still not going to think that I did that?” he grumbled.

“Don’t worry,” Kagura remarked.  “I’ll explain it all when the men arrive.”

He didn’t look entirely satisfied, but he jerked his head once in a nod before slapping the handcuffs on Saori’s wrists and jerking open the car door for her.

She spared her mother and grandmother one last, long look before slipping into the vehicle, letting Taras close the door behind her.

“Don’t you think that it might be better to take you home and to let your mate deal with Evgeni?” Taras asked as he pulled the rental car onto the road, heading toward the east—toward Evgeni’s stronghold.

“Fai shouldn’t have to,” she insisted stubbornly.  Then she grimaced.  “I . . . To be honest, I don’t know what he’ll do about Evgeni-san, not really . . .”

She could feel Taras’ gaze on her, though she didn’t look to verify it.  Concentrating instead on tugging at her wrists, bound in the handcuffs that were reinforced from within with ofuda, she grimaced as the tugging led to a deep burning, enough to properly chafe her.

“He’ll kill him,” Taras stated flatly.  “What he’s doing . . . It’s treason.”

She sighed, letting her hands drop to her lap.  “Maybe,” she allowed.  “I mean, I know it is.  It’s just . . . Evgeni-san means—meant—a lot to Fai, and . . .” She grimaced.  “Fai’s a good man,” she finally went on quietly, almost more to herself than to him.  “He may well view it as more of a personal betrayal and less of one against his office . . .”

“Aren’t those one in the same?” Taras growled, grip tightening on the steering wheel.

“It’s hard to explain,” she said.  “They separate themselves from their offices in their minds.  I think . . . I think all tai-youkai do that.  I think . . . I think they have to . . . It allows them to make the decisions that no one wants to have to make—allows them to do that, and then, it allows them to breathe afterward.”

He snorted indelicately.  “And you think it’s as simple as that?”

Slowly, she shook her head.  “No, honestly, I don’t.  I think it’s something they learn how to do.  Toga-oji-chan—my uncle . . . He’s one of the most decent people I know—good-natured, gentle . . . And yet, he’s issued his fair share of hunt warrants—all deserved, of course.  I’ve seen him stand, toe-to-toe against some of the most formidable beings on earth, and he won’t even blink . . . That doesn’t mean that it can’t weigh upon him.  It does . . . but he can still smile and laugh and be all right.  He leaves that stuff in his office, I guess.  Fai . . . He does the same thing.  It’s just . . . Well, Evgeni was his closest confidant for a very long time.  That’s all . . .”

She didn’t know if he understood what she was trying to say.  She didn’t pay too much attention to him.  Too busy, pondering the truths of what she’d just put into words, she winced inwardly.  As simple as it sounded, she knew that it wasn’t.  It was one of those things that took time to learn, she supposed.  It was ugly, and it was awful, but . . . but it was necessary, too . . .

It’s just . . . sad, isn’t it . . .? Sad that it would have to come to that . . .

Yeah, well, as sad as that may be, you know, don’t you?  You should be focusing on what you’re doing right now because if you think that this is all going to be easy, then you should probably think again.

She sighed.   Wise words, she supposed.  After all, walking into Evgeni’s territory, given what she knew?  It wasn’t going to be nearly as simple as she might have liked.

Fai . . . if you can hear me?  I’m all right . . . I’ll be all right . . .


-==========-


Fai . . . if you can hear me?  I’m all right . . . I’ll be all right . . .

The tires shrieked as Fai hit the brakes hard, as he veered off the road as the sound of Saori’s voice—as clear as if she were sitting beside him—echoed in his ears.  He knew that she wasn’t there.  That didn’t stop him from looking around, from trying to find her.  The bitter realization that she wasn’t actually with him cut through him deep, hard, as the unrelenting feeling that everything was so incredibly wrong ate away at him.  She should be with him—always with him.  That was how it should be, damn it.  It wasn’t right, wasn’t natural, that she was in Tokyo, and all because of a delusional man who had motives that lingered just beyond the light.  It was a horrible feeling that left a bitterness in his mouth, an ache in his soul.

It took a moment for his logical brain to kick in.

She wasn’t there.  He knew that.  He’d known that.  What had him on edge, he reasoned, was that he hadn’t been able to talk to her last night, not since he’d ruined his phone.  The landline, however, had been out of order, too, and only after uttering a few—thousand—curses had he remembered the letter he’d gotten a week ago, announcing downtime for landline services while they replaced some of the old wiring in the area.

He’d had two options for the day: travel into the city to wait in line to get a new cell phone, which could take anywhere from an hour to all day, depending on the wait, or he could head out to confront Evgeni, to get all of this out of the way so that Saori could come home, so that he could concentrate on making things right.

He’d opted to confront Evgeni, and he was almost there.  He’d worry about the cell phone tomorrow . . .

“I beg your pardon, Your Grace, but . . . Have I displeased you that Your Grace is trying to kill me?”

Casting Konstantin a hostile glower, Fai nudged the car back onto to the road.  “Sorry,” he muttered, sounding anything but sorry.

Rubbing the side of his head—he’d hit the door a little hard when Fai had stomped on the brakes—Konstantin grunted.  “It’s nothing,” he assured him.  “We are almost there, yes?”

“Yeah, close,” Fai agreed, tamping down the ever-present irritation that it wasn’t quite ‘close’ enough for his liking.

“Should we have brought Yerik along?”

This time, Fai sighed, leaning his elbow on the door frame, resting his temple on his raised fist.  Truth was, he hadn’t been planning on bringing Konstantin with him, either, but he was already awake and drinking a cup of coffee when Fai had ducked into the dining room for a cup before he left.  When he’d inadvertently mentioned, what he was about to do, Konstantin had insisted upon coming along.  It was probably for the best, though, given that Saori would have had a fit if she’d found out that he had marched into perceived enemy territory alone.

Your Grace!  You’re awake early!

Sparing a moment to watch with a slow and steady shake of his head as Konstantin shoved a whole slice of black bread into his mouth in one bite, Fai dragged his gaze away in favor of dumping coffee into a fine china cup.  “Tell me that’s not all you’re eating,” he remarked, ignoring Konstantin’s question for the moment.

I already had five sausages and a few pieces of bread,” Konstantin elaborated as he reached for a raisin sweet bun.  “Your cook is good—very good.”

Thanks,” Fai muttered since he’d spent some time the night before, baking a number of loaves of black bread as well as the sweet buns in the kitchen since he couldn’t sleep.  It had helped a little bit, though not nearly as much as talking to Saori would have.

Konstantin blinked, lowering the bun before he could bite into it.  “Your Grace?  Your Grace made these?

Fai snorted.  “It’s just Fai, and yes, I did.”

Konstantin considered that for a long moment before bursting into a belly-busting chuckle.  “A man of many talents—a God amongst us!  Is there anything Your Grace cannot do?

Fai rolled his eyes and kept his back toward him, mostly to hide the trace ruddiness that had seeped into his cheeks at the high praise.  “You know, Kostya, you don’t really have to stay here if you have other things to do . . .”

I cannot ignore a mission assigned to me by Her Grace,” Konstantin said.  Fai figured it’d be something like that.

Yeah, well, as much as she worries, I’m very well equipped to see to my own welfare,” Fai pointed out, though his tone had taken on a rather philosophical lilt.

Of course!” Konstantin insisted, sounding almost offended at the very idea that Fai might not be able to hold his own.  “You are tai-youkai!  That means that you are man amongst men!  You are the highest of the highs!  The mountain—”

All right,” Fai interrupted, waving a hand to cut off the ridiculous praise.  “Anyway, I’m going to go have a talk with Evgeni.  It takes a while to drive there, so don’t worry if I’m not home tonight.

The large bear stared at him for a long, long minute.  Then he stood up, letting the cup in his hand thud heavily upon the table as the chair he’d been occupying rattled over the floor.

Fai blinked.  “What are you doing?

Konstantin reached for the very ugly battle axe he was entirely too skilled at wielding—more so than a sword, in actuality.  “I am coming with you, Your Grace!

Fai’s mouth dropped open.  Then it snapped shut, and he slowly shook his head.

Yeah, he’d figured it was something like that . . .

“I didn’t have time to wait around for Yerik to show his face, and he just got back from that hunt, so he should have a few days off, anyway,” Fai said, shaking off the lingering memory.  “Besides, you’re here.  Do I need someone else?”

Caught off-guard by the perceived high praise, Konstantin was silent for a long moment.  Then he cleared his throat rather gruffly.  “I will protect Your Grace until my dying breath!  This is my vow!”

“Just ‘Fai’,” he corrected, a bitter twang of a half-forgotten moment, flickering through his mind.

"Fai-sama?"

"Sama," he echoed with a rather sardonic sort of chuckle.  "You know, you don't have to use that for me, either."

Saori smiled wanly.  "Then, what would you prefer that I call you?"

He seemed a little surprised by her frank question.  Then he shrugged.  "Just, 'Fai' would be fine, Saori," he told her.  "Just my name; that's all."
He sighed again, gritting his teeth as yet another wave of melancholy washed over him, threatened to sweep him away . . .

Konstantin either didn’t notice or chose not to remark upon it.  He laughed that great, ringing laugh of his.

Fai shook his head and tightened his grip on the steering wheel . . .


-==========-


Saori sat still, trying not to fidget in the rather uncomfortable, straight-backed wooden chair.  Her arms were smashed behind her—Taras had undone her restraints when she’d insisted that having her hands before her was entirely careless if he really wanted to make it look like she was secured.  She’d been sitting here, though, for the better part of an hour, which was making her regret her overzealous claim since her arms were starting to go numb, and her hands were alternating between numbness and sharp, annoying stabs of tingling pain when she tried to force blood flow into them.

She wasn’t in the cottegi.  Evgeni had told him via cell phone to escort her to the threshing house, whatever that was.

It looked like a small barn, she supposed.  Tilting her head back as she slowly scanned the building, she wrinkled her nose at the pervasive dusty smell that seemed to linger in her nostrils.  High, naked rafters, the walls, lined with wooden bins, a few, scant windows—small and high up in what she supposed were open lofts—and a very strange-looking assortment of rusted old tools, affixed to one of the long walls.  Some of them looked like long poles with leather straps tied to them.  Others looked like scythes.  The grayed and shriveled floorboards were swept clean long ago, only to gather a thick layer of dust, and, as if in answer to her observations, she sneezed, then sniffled.

Taras hadn’t said a thing after securing her to the chair with a few loops of rope that he’d found, tossed into one of the corners on a seemingly forgotten table that looked like it was a good wind away from collapsing under its own weight.  She figured it was good enough, given that her hands were out of commission, anyway.  Then he’d left her there, and she hadn’t seen him since.

The way he’d acted, however, made her wonder if the building weren’t under some kind of surveillance.  She supposed that it was entirely possible, given the paranoia that Taras had described.

It wasn’t a bad thing, though, being left alone for a little while.  It gave her a few minutes to gather her thoughts, to try to compose a plan, such as it was.  It was one thing to say that she wanted to see if she could get some answers, but honestly, she still didn’t know exactly what she wanted to ask.  Easy to say that she wanted to know why—why he’d go to such lengths, such deception.  But . . .

But that’s really not the question you should be pondering, you know.

Saori frowned, biting her lip as she absently watched the dust in the air as it flitted through the solitary beams of sunlight, falling through the windows so high above.  She knew what her youkai-voice was saying.

If it came down to it, could she kill him?  Could she kill Evgeni?

She didn’t know that answer, either.

On the one hand, taking a life, no matter the reason, was never a simple thing, but when she thought about Fai—about the good and decent part of him—a part of him that he didn’t even like to acknowledge, but she knew it was there . . . She really didn’t know if he had it in him to kill someone who had meant so much to him—and if he could do that, just what would it do to his soul?

The thing was, it wasn’t a question of whether or not Evgeni deserved to die.  Taras was dead-on when he had said that Evgeni’s actions amounted to treason, and the price of that was death, no question.

Young, she was, but she was raised in the house of the Inu no Taisho.  She, better than most, understood that there were always grave consequences, and, even if you didn’t agree, sometimes things had to be the way they had to be.  She knew that, just as she knew that, pleasant or not, sometimes the price of order and the greater good was the hardest and most devastating to pay.  Fai suffered, didn’t he?  Suffered from the hateful understanding of those same precepts . . . Already, he’d been forced to spill blood in official challenges, regardless of his own feelings.  He’d had to lock that part of himself away in order to protect it, but at least in those, there was a level of detachment.  There wasn’t that level this time, and that was what bothered Saori the most . . .

Of course, he can do it, Saori, and you know, he might not be pleased that you’ve taken the choice from him, in the first place . . .

It’s not a question of whether or not he can.  It’s a question of whether or not he should.  You know as well as I do that it’s the reason why a hunter would never be sent out to target someone he or she knew.  That ability to separate oneself from one’s task is important.

And you think that you could do such a thing and walk away from it, unscathed?  Don’t be silly.

If it’s for Fai’s protection, I can do it.

Her musings were cut short, though, with the wizened creak of the disused hinges as the doors of the old building were forced open.  She blinked, brow furrowing as the incursion of daylight filled the darkened room.

Evgeni, with Taras and a few others in tow—four others, to be exact—stepped inside, strode over to her, but, where the others stopped a good twenty feet away, Evgeni didn’t, not until he stood before her.  She saw the nasty coldness of his victorious grin moments before the flash of the back of his hand connected with her cheek, snapping her head to the side.  She didn’t make a sound as she spit out the instant flood of blood that pooled on her tongue before slowly turning her face back to stare at him: calmly, curiously—angrily.

“Your Grace, is it?” Evgeni nearly purred, tugging a pristine, white kerchief from his pocket and snapping it once before using it to methodically wipe the hand he’s struck her with.  “I hear that congratulations are in order . . .”


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~ =~
A/N:

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Reviewers
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MMorg
Goldeninugoddess ——— AvinPhi
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Okmeamithinknow ——— Monsterkittie ——— Amanda Gauger ——— minthegreen
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Nate Grey ——— cutechick18
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Final Thought from Saori:
Evgeni-san
==========
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.

~Sue~

Chapter 65
Chapter 67
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