"T..Takuyu-sama? Where are you going? You know you can't afford to go anywhere! We just lost their trail!"
"Yeah, and we'll lose it again if they find us." My tone was sharp, harsh. Enough to shut her up...
I couldn't help it... I was exhausted; we'd been running for months. Almost half a year was spent moving from place to place, trying to outrun my clan. My clan, or my captors? It seemed to be a fine line. I was surprised to discover I even had a small amount of what was the Ishihara's wanting me to survive.
I thought the clan had divided so cleanly and completely - either Ishihara or Soseihara with no room for difference - but no, there was a minority amongst the two power heads - well, one power head, another struggling contender losing more and more members by the minute - who called themselves the Fukuhara. Now, they didn't really want to preserve the safety of me because of who I am, but because of what
I am. Their worship of the Akurei could be borderline cult depending on which member you talk to, and I felt more than a little squeamish when I was invited to their base after my escape. Though... most of them were kind... particularly Asaya.
"I'm sorry..." I said. She kept her gaze down. I walked over to her. "Asaya, I truly am." She looked up at me now, and gave me a tentative nod. "I know."
"...You put a lot on the line for me, huh?" I glanced up at the trees spindling above us. Why can I never look at people when I tell them something important?
"Hn..? W..Well... I suppose you could say that but... It's for you
, Takuyu-sama... for the prosperity of our clan." I looked down again, studying her face. I wondered if I could ever know all of what the beautiful but constantly weary woman left behind. She left behind a life... for mine. But why?
Surely... she must have had something more to her than the woman who fetched whomever or whatever Lilian asked of her...? And then I realised.
Asaya's eyes went round and large at the mention of the name, she looked like a frightened rabbit. She dampened her lips and couldn't look at me. "I'm... sorry for what she did to you, Takuyu-sama... for merely standing by as she... tortured
you..." I flinched at the emphasis, and on instinct balled my hand in and out of a fist ...as if I still needed to count how many fingers were broken.
"You... Did what you could. How long did you keep that act up? Years? Decades? Being a double agent must have been painful work, particularly with such a..." What word could I use to describe that twisted woman?
But Asaya spoke before I could think of it. "Yes...! Yes... I suppose so..." Her voice was high-pitched and sharp. "Asa...?"
She gestured to my necklace, which I held firmly in my hand. "If you wish to, Takuyu-sama... n..now would be the time..." She looked at me meaningfully. I nodded. "Thankyou..."
She sat in front of the fire, her eyes trained on the darkness of the clearing. I sat next to her, she didn't look at me. Not out of rudeness, but privacy. I held the necklace up so it was level with my eyes. A deep breath in, then out. I was aware of a bright glow, the beads illuminating for a moment before my body collapsed.
----I awoke as I always did, in the sanctity and warmth of a lap. What differed was who it would be. I opened my eyes, and there was my mother, stroking my hair and smiling down at me warmly.
"Good morning, Takuyu-chan." I let myself lay in her warmth for a while, before I pulled myself upright.
I feel.. groggier than usual... why is that? I glanced around to see if Genshi or Kasui were waiting.
"Hn...? No..?" My mother chuckled, and placed a finger to her lips.
"They are merely sleeping, Takuyu-chan..."
"Sleeping...? Mother, why would th-"
"They rest as we do, but for many complex reasons, Takuyu-chan. It is unusual for you to come here willingly at such an hour." Her brow crinkled with worry.
"Is there some way... I can help you?" I turned to face her in full, and nodded.
"..I... want to see him..." She looked surprised for a moment, then smiled.
"Oh..." I could have sworn she almost b..blushed.. Wh..what the..? I glanced away, feeling my own face heat up rapidly.
"It's just too adorable, Takuyu-chan... How much you care for this boy..."
"W..Well... It's been so long since we've been safe enough, is all..."She nodded.
"I understand, baby... Of course you can see him." I couldn't help but gasp.
"R..Really..?"She nodded again, and placed her palm to my forehead. It was a surreal thing to see. We were both translucent, caught in the realm only Akurei could enter, caught between reality and the subconscious. I felt like she would pass right through me, but we were of the same... what... consistency? So the contact was safely made. The last few seconds always scared me. I could see a sinister smirk on my mother's face, just for a moment... I knew it was just the product of my imagination, a twisted part of me that believes I was abandoned, but it still...
A forest started to materialise around me. I held a hand out to where the light was washing in. The light passed right through it. I turned away from it. I felt my heart fluttering in my chest. Then I saw him, sound asleep. Warmth, glorious warmth filled me.
"It's funny..." I walked over to him, for some reason I was trying to tread lightly, even though I knew I could have no tangible effect on this place.
"I never realise just how cold I am, until you give me warmth again..." He looks... peaceful... You could just be ruining that peace, y'know... even by thinking you can return... I moved to my knees, shifting so I was hovering over him.
"..Sensei..." Before I could even realise it was happening, tears gathered in my eyes, hot and full. I longed to really be there... to show him I was ok... for him to know that the voice he's hearing isn't just a part of a dream... but most of all... I shifted my hand to his cheek. I couldn't feel anything. Then... his eyes opened. The tears started falling from mine. This is just another dream to him... I started to feel the connection wearing thin. I was fading away as he floated closer and closer to full consciousness. I didn't want to leave him. For a moment, his lips moved, as if he wanted to say something, but I shook my head. There wasn't enough time.
"I'll see you soon, Sensei..."
I woke up with a gasp, like I just swam to the depths of the ocean and needed air.
"Takuyu-sama!" Asaya flung her arms around me. I welcomed the support, falling into it. I calmed quickly enough. I stared at the ground. That experience is always... all-consuming. It took everything to establish it so I felt nothing when it was gone. The only traces of the emotions currently held in the depths of me was the specks of water spotting the ground. "..Ta..."
"Asaya... We're going back to Konohagakure as soon as possible..."
She nodded. "I know... that's our plan, Takuyu-sama..."
"We're going tomorrow..."
She almost dropped me.
"What?! We c-couldn't possibly!"
I shook my head weakly. "You've been promising me for so long, Asaya... I can't... I can't bear it anymore..."
She took a moment, enough to let silence settle in. "Alright, Takuyu-sama... Tomorrow."
****Base : [link]
Takuyu, Asaya, Ishihara clan concept : 'Mine', 'mine' and mine.