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affliction affection
« on: August 14, 2017, 11:10:59 am »
Kazenaga Hyuki had a couple of blessings, and the ones he lacked shaped him into a better boy. His mother, who raised him alone, spoiled him with plenty of home-cooked dishes when he came home from school, and trusted him enough to extend his curfew. With their limited economy, he was left to fend for himself when it came to pocket money, and he'd started early with his part-time job as document delivery boy. The fresh air, food and exercise saw the mouse of a boy shoot into a lanky, strapping young man by the time letters found their way into his math homework.

From having been the receiver of bigger kid's frustration, a bit of a punching bag, he now dabbled in bully prevention. He was still a few kilograms short of being able to hold his own against the gaggle of ruffians that roamed their high-school, but offered enough of a target to divert and hold the attention of their knuckles and the toes of their shoes, most of the time. Somehow the bitter of being beaten up was washed by the solace of protecting someone else. With the picturesque idiosyncrasies of his over-active conscience came a small fame that uttered itself as gossip in the girl's locker room. His dark eyes and red mouth helped. It all resulted in an average of three letters of confession a semester and never needing to look far for lab partners.

Lately, though, the girls that confessed and those that would dissect critter with him, found themselves either sick or in unfortunate accidents that left them unable to attend school.

”Don’t you find it worrisome, Kaze?” Toruzuki asked, dropping his backpack as he turned to the lengthier Hyuki son. Kaze shrugged without losing his cargo. He was partial to a messenger bag, gray strap crossing the chest of their blue school uniform. He bent to collect Toru’s name-brand holder.

“I visited Yuri and Haru.” He started as he dusted the outer pocket off and handed it back to his friend. “They both attributed it to clumsiness.” But even he seemed a bit skeptical.

“Yuri, who already has a scholarship for marine biology, broke two fingers, and Haru, our track and field pride, broke her leg. Both of them connected to you by heartstrings.” Toru said and hung the bag back on his right shoulder, ill-advised. Kaze frowned as they kept walking.

“Yeah. Are you thinking this is something from your detective animes?” he asked, and didn’t have the teasing tone he intended.

“Crimes are real, Kazenaga Hi-ju-kee.” Toru warned. The smaller boy gasped when a private gust of wind upset Kaze’s black hair and laid a few knife-edges worth of it over his eyes. “And you’re the target!” Toru continued, pointing lithe fingers at the end of his outstretched narrow right arm. Kaze caught the bag before it could hit the ground this time, and also Toru, who almost fell with it. “You’re the bish and center of the plot!” Toru accused as he was being help upright. “Look at your hair! Traditionally you’d be a deep-voiced side character, but your mouth is pretty and…”

“Bak-” Kaze started as he forced Toru to wear the bag with both its straps. “aa. Don’t talk nonsense. It trivializes their pain.” He brought his point home with a light slap on the back of Toru’s blonde hair. For some reason or the other Taru blushed at this. Kaze huffed and then ruffled the blonde mop affectionately. “You’re a nerd, you know that, Taru?”

-

That was Thursday, yesterday. Taru had ended up spending the night and complaining about seeing someone outside the window when they turned the lights down after playing video games and reading mangas. He’d even woken Kaze up twice to complain about nightmares. They had Friday off, which would have been another day of otaku activities picked by the brighter, but far more whiney little boy, if Kaze hadn’t promised away his noon-time already.

“You know, this is looking more like a shjou manga, now.” Taru said with a pout, watching Kaze step into his best sneakers. He dressed simple, because he didn’t really have any really nice clothes. Taru had an opinion on his Pokémon shirt, so he’d chosen a plain blue t-shirt instead, over his dark jeans. “Bish going to the hime’s house.”

“She might object to you calling her that. She just wants to pay me back for helping her out sometimes.” Kaze said as he corrected his jacket and even checked his hair in the mirror. It was the same dramatic array of black, waving spears as it always was, touching his ears and obscuring his forehead. Admittedly, the protagonist of Taru’s current series sported a similar style. Maybe a buzz cut would be better, then. Mom would be devastated, though. She took great pride in this one formation she could cut for him. “And I wasn’t raised to say no to food, so.”

“You’re utterly unconvincing. But you’re right. That’s why I’m staying to eat leftovers and not leaving for at least two hours.” Taru stated. Kaze shrugged and quickly shoved Taru’s chest with the heel dos his shoe, tripping the stunted male over the lifted threshold before dodging out. Taru was left wailing on his ass as Kaze ran down the street, laughing.

Kaze wasn’t as naïve as his drawn and inked counterparts. He looked up at the house he was visiting on request of the owner’s daughter. He smiled with his right cheek bubbled, shoulder on the street sign as he looked the building over. She hadn’t been presumptuous, but his other guy friends were right to have pummeled him a little for this. A writeoff-day lunch at her place. He knew how it might look, even if their relationship had been the very definition of casual, friendly until now. He sighed with some anxiety and opened the gate. He supposed she was cute, and that he found himself helping her even when he could leave it to someone else.

-

The floor was carpeted and warm, like the inside of his eyes, and the contents of his stomach. He tried to sit up when he recognized the salt and acid prelude on his tongue, but the jerk only lifted him enough to slam his chin back into the shallow depth of the fibers. His second attempt went better, now that he knew something was wrong with his head. It still felt like carrying a whale carcass on bird bones. He moaned, pushing himself to sit against the wall. Breathing came hard at first, lovely mouth open, sucking at the air that tasted like other people. Those breaths were intimate, and when he could see through the haze he realized he wasn’t alone in the room.

The light was evenly compromised, and he could see the bars running horizontally over the glass beyond the pretty curtains. For some comfort that ended up not being worth the titanic effort, he lifted his palm to his brow and sighed. He looked at the other bodies, and despite not being able to hear them breathing, assumed they were in the same predicament as he, and not dead. He gathered himself for another moment, swallowing back dread – the taste and the feeling – and crawled over to sit by the closest girl body. He shook her by the hip, and would have relented the touch if he wasn’t still recovering.

“Hello? Do you know where we are?” he asked. “Are you okay?” How could she be? Though the agony was lifting, he had a hammering, poisonous maelstrom behind his forehead, sucking and clawing at the vault of his cranium. “I think this is what waterboarding feels like. Someone must have checked my browsing history.” He joked and dropped his head, shaking it.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2017, 09:15:48 pm »
She turned once in the mirror, brows knit in concentration. Minako had mastered the look of effortlessness through a concerted amount of effort. Like most of her, these exertions were greatly assisted by the sort of natural self that wore minimalism well. At school, Miyuki-chan often sighed over Minako’s soft, peach-blonde curls and clear, milky skin. She would ask Minako for her secrets, and Minako had the great privilege of answering “Nothing special, I just drink a lot of water,” and meaning it. More or less.

Today, she had tried at least three different lip glosses before settling on a clear balm and at least two times that many outfits before resorting to her school uniform. People told her she looked cute in the school standard, and she had the sort of reputation that might make the choice acceptably endearing on a Saturday. Minako nodded at her reflection, satisfied with her decisions, and went downstairs to wait. She had made the food for today in the late hours of the previous evening, preparing simple dishes that would strike the appropriate balance of humble and earnest for her guest. In a moment of self-indulgence, she’d prepared onigiri in her small hands and smiled at the petite triangles. The boys at school told her often that her petite stature was appealing, and she hoped Kazenaga might notice that in the daintiness of her food.

“Hyuki-kun!” Minako had bubbled, when she let him in the door. “Thank you for humoring me. I’ve been so much trouble for you, lately.” She said. Most recently, he had prevented her from a nasty tumble down the stairs. He’d been kind enough to help her collect her scattered papers and deliver them to the teachers’ room in the aftermath, too. Minako had apologized profusely throughout the incident, and begged him to let her make up for the imposition. After all, it had only been one in a string of various mishaps he’d delivered her from. “I don’t know how I got by, before you were in my class.” She admitted, flushing.

Minako was careful when she served him, pensive as she transferred food and drink from kitchen to table. An effort, it seemed, not to make a mess of things. When she had laid out the spread, she thanked him again for coming. “I’m not a very good cook, but I did my best.” She said, staring apologetically through her long lashes. The food was, of course, remarkably well made.

--

When Minako came to, it was in a startle. Kaze was shaking her, and she had a horrendous pounding behind her eyes. It made nearly made her teeth ache. “Hyuki-kun?” she mumbled, struggling to prop herself up. She blinked, glancing around the room. “What happened? This is my parents’ room.” She mumbled. The Kanai family was wealthy, and had invested in a sizably western-style house. Curiously, there was rarely any indication that anyone but Minako habited the home. At school, neighborhood classmates speculated that her parents were nearly always working overseas. “I remember the doorbell ringing and then…” Minako noticed, then, that they were not alone. She shrieked, clapping a hand over her mouth when she realized who it was and her fear had faded to puzzlement.

“Midori-chan?” she said, several questions hanging off the name. Minako was not particularly friendly with Midori, but called most girls familiarly out of habit or defense. In Midori’s case, it was difficult to say which paradigm was appropriate. Their only encounters had been awkward run-ins when Kazenaga was around, which had made Minako uncomfortable. Why Midori was in her home now was entirely beyond her. She blinked blearily at Kazenaga. “I don’t know what’s going on,” she said, as if he needed confirmation. "But I think I might have caused you trouble again." Frustration then, and the shimmering threat of tears in her blues eyes. Minako had always been quick to cry.   

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 03:09:56 pm »
Midori had had enough. She’d spent months watching that homewrecker wriggle her way in to Kaze’s life—throwing herself at him! Of course, he sent the wrong signals. Nice guys like Kaze always did. But he didn’t mean it. He was naïve but Midori knew a bad egg when she saw one. And Minako was the worst! She just needed Kaze to see it for himself. She’d tried getting rid of her like the others, a little fall down the stairs could fix anything, but Minako had impeccably good luck. Midori couldn’t fault her for that. She was a whore. But she was a lucky whore.

Watching her Kaze save Minako had sparked a new idea. It wouldn’t be enough just to maim Minako. No, she needed to expose her. She needed to make Kaze choose—and choose right.

She wore heels sometimes to make up for her height. Not flashy bright stilettos, but chunky little ankle boots. She’d worn them that morning when she knocked on Minako’s door. Her Kaze was inside. Inside with that other woman. Eating her food. Smiling at her. Laughing at her little jokes. Kissing her… She knocked again, hand twisting into a firm first when she tried to stop herself from sounding overly eager, pushing her hand down and nails digging into her palm. Her head tipped forward and her messy, chin length waves pushed forward, obscuring big blue eyes. She cringed back when Minako opened the door, hugging her books tighter to her chest.

“I’m sorry, Minako-san,” she blurted out immediately, not quite making eye contact. It was always assumed her didn’t make eye contact because she was shy. Her classmates either got used to it or didn’t notice. In truth, she worried they’d gleam some truth from her eyes if she met their gaze. How could not they not see how much she hated them if she looked them in the eye? “My notes from bio were ruined in the lunchroom yesterday.” Not a lie. She might have heard about a couple of the other girls dumping their milk in Midori’s bag. “Sensei suggested I copy yours. She said you would have the best notes. I’m so sorry for the trouble. I’m a very quick writer. It won’t take long.” She promised in a pitiful rush. It was easy to be pathetic with homicide on the brain.

After she was comfortably inside, maybe even forgotten again, she’d pull the gasmask from her bag and drag it over her face and tear the pin from the canister in her purse. She’d need to get things started if she was going to set up in time.

~

It was almost night when they started to stir. Midori collapsed into a heap nearby, hair always a mess and hiding her eyes so she could peek—watching them through her dark strands. Kaze woke first. He was beautiful even when he was sick. She remembered that time he had the flu last autumn. No one had ever been so lovely while puking before. She made sure she caught it. She caught all his illnesses—just another way to have all of him.

He reached out and touched Minako and Midori whimpered, choking on rage and heartache. It would sound like the stirrings of a girl recently poisoned. In truth, he’d poisoned her long ago. She cringed and sat up, scrubbing at her face and biting her lip under her hand to keep from smiling at the charcoal smudged word “Whore” scrawled across Minako’s forehead. It would rub off, unfortunately. She hadn’t been able to find the permanent marker in time. “Wh-Where are we? Why am I here?” Midori whispered, pushing herself to sit upright, just a little closer to Kaze than Minako.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2017, 04:41:40 pm »
The name was familiar coming out of Minako’s mouth, but he couldn’t recall much right now. His innate impulse to comfort her had him shake his head, which both proved to him that he was getting better and that a lot of the nausea was still there. “Not your fault, Mina-chan.” The prefix and the nickname was to create a further bridge, this was all the cause for some distress, after all, and he’d like to be in a position to soothe her. His brow compressed into rippling, concerned shadows when he padded her cheek, and some of her hair became eschewed, baring her forehead and the message. “Whore…” he read before he could realize its meaning. “Ah! I’m sorry. You’re forehead. It says a bad word.” With some haste his fingertips went to undo the unfair accusation, but turned it into a blackened smudge while the original message was still mostly intact.

He turned soon to the announcement of another waking person. A twitch of his head told of familiarity, but the narrowing of his eyes also gave that he couldn’t quite place her. “Midori-- chan?” he asked, remembering Minako’s revelation. This girl was everywhere in school. He’d always assumed she was a hall monitor, since he usually caught a glimpse of her. “Are you alright?” he asked and reached to thread the fingers of his right hand into the array of bangs, to try and see her eyes. Maybe she also had some unfortunate scribbling on her. “This is bad.” He said about the situation, and to Minako. “Someone did this to us.”

When he turned back he gasped to be met with those large, abyssal sapphire twins, once the vines of hair were swept from Midori’s vision. He smiled apologetically. Perhaps a great size of eyes were the mark of beauty for some, but the intensity of her color struck him right in the chest. “A-are you okay?” he repeated to steady himself.

Once he’d gathered his properties he licked his thumb, once more facing Minako on his knees, trying affectionately to undo the word on her skin. It was a bit familiar perhaps, a second hand kiss, but he’d rather not read it on her every time he looked. “We’re in Minako’s house, Midori Chan.” He explained, calming finally. “But we don’t know why.”

He stood after that, and only stagger once, holding one temple, before he huffed at his dizziness, willing it to clear as he swayed on his way to the door. By the time he’d reached the barrier he was mostly himself, balance back. Perhaps he even looked formidable, shoulder blades wide and eyes set in a decision. He turned to them when he tried the handle, and saw the barred window again, wondering if this exit would even open. “We need to get outside, need our phones.” He said. “Someone did this to us.” He’d said it before, but it was important they believed him.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2017, 05:07:59 pm »
Minako’s hands flew toward her forehead, fingers brushing Kazenaga’s as she touched the sooty characters drawn there. “Oh,” she said, and flushed. It wasn’t the most original accusation—if there was any insult hurled her way with any regularity, it was this. Minako had gotten used to it, and found the boys at school were eager enough to defend her over it. Still, it was embarrassing to hear it from Kaze’s mouth, intentional or not. At least it had been distracting enough that she’d forgotten her tears.

She continued to wipe at her forehead after Kaze had turned his attention to the other girl. “Ah, wait, I remember now.” Minako said, studying Midori from where she sat. “You’d just come in for my notes.” She smiled apologetically. Perhaps because Midori seemed to be a practical constant in the background these days, the blue-eyed girl had become easy to ignore or forget. Minako supposed that was rude, but might be understandable under the present circumstances. “I’m sorry. You seem to have been caught up in this mess with us.” She said. Us, because Midori was separate from them, somehow.

“Hyuki-kun?” she blinked at him, and seemed appropriately shy when he returned to cleaning her forehead. “Somebody must have moved us, at least,” Minako mumbled, trying to focus on the situation at hand without appearing too distracted by Kaze’s attention. “We should be careful leaving the room, right?” She asked, struggling to her feet after Kaze. She had reached for his hand for some assistance to stand, and offered the same help to Midori after a moment of consideration. She offered what was supposed to be a reassuring smile, but it looked a bit thin. If she was already suspicious of Midori, she wasn’t willing to say it yet, at least.

“Our phones should be in the other wing, in the dining room.” Minako offered. Generally, the size of her empty home didn’t feel quite as cavernous as it did now. “But… if somebody brought us here, they might be waiting in the house still, right?” she asked. Her brows knit in concern. “What if it’s not safe?” she went to the wall switch to give a bit of light to the dim room, but it clicked ineffectually under her finger. She gave the other two a worried glance. “No power.”
 

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2017, 08:57:23 pm »
Midori clenched her teeth so hard when he touched Minako that her jaw ached. He rubbed the word on her forehead into a smear of charcoal. She twitched where she sat, resisting the urge to fly at them and push them apart. And then, before she could do anything, he was looking at her. He was looking at her! Midori couldn't breathe. He touched her hair, pushing the strands away from her face and her heart beat wild against her chest. He loved her. She stared back at him, big blue eyes widening ever more in surprise. He looked at her and she was sure, one-hundred percent sure, that he saw right into her soul. He knew her just like she knew him. "Y-Yeah. Thanks."

And then he was gone, turning to Minako again. He licked his thumb and touched her. He was having an affair! Right in front of her! She crawled to her feet and intentionally didn't notice when Minako offered her hand. That homewrecker had completely bewitched poor Kaze!

Her hair fell forward again, obscuring her face just in time to hide the corner of her mouth when it tugged into a smirk. Oh, Minako should be worried about what lay in wait in the halls. But the person she should fear wasn't on the other side of a door.

Midori gasped and pointed when Kaze moved. She was at the back of the trio so Minako would be sure to see where her digit pointed, a folded bit of paper pinned to the back of his shirt. She hurried over, before stupid Minako could use it as another chance to get her hands all over Kaze. "You have something..." Midori unpinned the paper and flipped it open, one edge roughly torn and more charcoal letters smudged across the once white surface. She read it for the show and then sucked in a breath, eyes growing and taking a step away from the others. "Wh-What is this? Is this a joke?" Midori asked, eyes darting between her two captives, the paper shaking in her fingers.


"Killers get to go home. No one leaves until someone dies."

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2017, 06:54:46 am »
The arguments Minako posed hindered his sure hand from doing away with the handle completely. His grip on it loosened before the door could open. It all did seem too elaborate and sinister for them to simply walk out. With some naive hope he padded himself down, as though he hadn't intentionally left his phone in his jacket so Toru couldn't incisively message him about details. Nothing. And the power was off, too, Mina observed. "You're right. We should be careful going out." he agreed.

He was puzzled when Midori came toward him, and tried to stay cold when she got the note off his shirt. The folded paper represented forethought, which had to be partially malicious, given the state of things, and then the message singed the severity of their situation. He shook his head, but that denial faded quickly. His mouth tightened with anger that bordered on annoyance. A good response instead of the more ballistic one he felt creeping in his arms. Toru would have something to say about this, surely. He might even have been excited for this kind of game. Kaze tried remembering anything his friend might have said that could help now.

"Both of you stay where we can see each other." he decided. "Minako chan, please find us something we can use as weapons in here. I see your parents have a closet." he nodded for it before kneeling and placing his head on the floor, hoping to see underneath the bottom of the door. Shadows. He didn't know where they were from, which ultimately made the information useless. He crawled to the wall and pushed his ear beside the frame. Nothing unusual. Making noise might help identify or locate their captors, but that would also alert them to them having woken up, which might be their only advantage.

"I'm going to open this door. Midori chan, Mina chan, I have a phone in my jacket, hopefully they forgot about it. Try to get to it. It should be in the hall." he said, determined. He waved Mina over. "You have to go first because you know the way." he reached out to bring Minako close to him. "You stay behind her, and I'll watch your back." he sighed and looked at the two. "If any of you have a better plan, then now's the time. I can't think of anything else."

And if they didn't, he'd turn the handle to let them out into the corridor.


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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2017, 05:42:33 pm »
Minako nodded in agreement, though she wasn’t so sure that staying in view of Midori was the most comfortable thing. There was something unnerving about that girl’s stare, when she did bother to look anyone in the eye. She was fairly certain that she would be Midori’s choice of sacrificial lamb out of the three of them, too, if there was any truth to the disturbing note. “I hope you’re right, Midori-chi,” Minako gave the girl a hopeful smile. “If it’s not a joke…“ Minako shook her head at the thought. She was struggling to come up with reasons why anyone would want to hurt any of them there in the room. Even if this was all an elaborate prank, it seemed remarkably cruel.

She was glad to have a task when Kaze sent her to hunt for some form of defense. “I’ll do my best.” She said, and thought the only real option was to be hopeful. Hopeful that this was an awful joke and hopeful that, if it was not, her parents had something useful tucked away in their closet. Minako didn’t come into this room often, so she really wasn’t certain. Had she had access to her own room, she could think of a number of things that could be weaponized if truly necessary. But Minako’s room was in the furthest wing of the house from here, with many doors and corridors in between.

She was able to find one of her father’s leather belts and a cane he liked to accessorize with at formal events. In her mother’s things, she found a long silver hairpin that was not particularly sharp. Still, desperation could make most things dangerous, and she hoped there’d be no need for desperation in the end, anyway. Minako returned to the other two and passed Kaze the cane and Midori the belt. “It’s not much, but hopefully we won’t need them at all, right?” she said.

Minako was trembling when she took her place ahead of the other two. “You’re right,” she said, though she wasn’t happy to be stepping out into the dark hall first. She clutched the silver pin tightly enough that it hurt her palm. In the hall, she walked carefully as if there might be traps in the floors, which was an unreasonable fear but reflected fittingly on the strangeness of their present situation. Passing the open door to her mother’s study, she gasped and stumbled back a step, nearly tripping over Midori. “I’m sorry!” she yelped in a harsh whisper; there had been a full-length mirror in the room that had caught her reflection and startled her. “I’m sorry,” she repeated, because she realized she was being foolish.

It was Kazenaga who got into trouble first, due to his height. As she led them through an archway, fingers brushing the doorframe in the dark, she must have bumped something. The pepper spray canister triggered, mounted haphazardly from the top of the arch. The hiss of the releasing pressure had Minako whirling back to face him. She hadn’t seen the trap, concentrated as she was on walking forward in the dimness, but it was glaringly obvious looking up at it now. It had been set at a perfect height to cause Kaze issues, but was well above eye-level for Minako. “Hyuki-kun!” she gasped, hoping he’d managed to move out of the way of the spray. “I didn’t see it, I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional!” She stuttered, pushing past Midori to get a closer look at Kazenaga, one hand on his arm.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2017, 01:41:28 pm »
Midori fell into line between them. She preferred to stay between them but for now, at least, she'd let them call the shots and make their choices. She'd been all over Minako's house, long before tonight, and knew every corner of it. She didn't even look up at the spray until Minako was moving through the archway, setting it off. She gasped, stopping, pushing her back into Kaze's chest and trying not to revel in that and forget all her plans. It was hard not to forget her plans with him this close. He always did make it hard for her to think at times. Funny, considering how he motivated her so intensely the rest of the time.

"Kaze-kun!" She twisted around, chest bumping his and hands coming up, overlapping to desperately try to block his eyes. It still wouldn't be fun for him. A little blindness might help keep things going smoothly. But she wouldn't waste an opportunity to save him either. The spray bounced off the backs of her hands, fluttering into her face to make her cringe and cough. Before she could ask if he was alright, Minako was gasping and squealing and shoving her aside. Midori winced when her shoulder bounced off the wall, staggering to one side so the trollop could get close to her Kaze.

Midori looked at them sideways from behind her hair and decided that maybe Kaze did need to bleed tonight too. He was breaking her heart. That was why they were here wasn't it? That was why she hadn't just gotten rid of Minako. She knew her Kaze and she saw the way he looked at the bright girl. He was on the edge of cheating. She could feel it. She wouldn't let him ruin what they had, not for someone as obviously wicked as Minako!

She sunk one hand into the deep pocket of her skirt, thumbing her phone inside. A thump came from down the hall. It sounded big in the quiet house and Midori gasped to emphasis it, staring forward down the dark corridor. "D-Did you hear that?" she whispered, hugging that belt Minako had handed her like a shield. Oh, she was sure Minako thought she handed her the worst of the make-shift weapons, but Midori was already imagining the shape it would leave in Minako's neck when she was done with her.



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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2017, 02:49:57 pm »
Kaze had reached out to calm Mina when she gave herself a scare from her own reflection. It was an old trick, though she very likely had not meant it as one, but it worked well on Kaze. It had worked all those other times, too, hadn’t it, when he caught her from her falls and stopped doors from mysteriously slamming on her fingers. He could have used some of those reflexes for himself when the spray acted on its rigging, but he was too busy wondering why she was fretting, his eyes even wider to see what had happened. He jerked back too late, his vision already flavored with the sting before he felt the touch of Midori’s fingers and the heat of her chest against his.

He was on the floor soon, sitting, coughing into the back of his elbow. It was a disorienting ordeal, this pain. Eventually, with pink sclera, he looked up at Mina, shaking his head before sneezing again, to the side. “It’s alright. It could have been a lot worse.” He smiled at her, perhaps a little stiffer than usual – this situation wasn’t the safe one of their school where mistakes were good excuses to meet – and carefully removed her hand from his arm before standing. It would be impossible to know if his changed mood was indeed for any annoyance he’d felt toward her for accidentally blinding him, or if he was simply tensing up, given their peril. He smiled wider, with one corner of his mouth at Mirdori. “Thank you.” There was an apology in there, too as he rubbed her shoulder and looked her over with his blushing eyes. “Daijoubu?”

Kaze grimaced at the sound, and flipped the cane he’d dropped with his toe, all the way up so he could grab it. His fine motor skills were a lot better than his judgment. “Wait here.” He hissed, anger directed at whatever the source of the noise had been. He felt his way forward with the cane, but it was obvious that was more a formality, since his stride was rather reckless. Feeling the handle and turning it slowly on the door he had guessed at, he opened and stuck his head in slowly. He turned back to look at them with a puzzled expression before darting inside.

When they came, there’d be printouts on the wall, and desk lamps assembled to light all of them. Some were Midori playing in mud, holding a football while running from laughing children. And some were of him sleeping in unflattering positions. But the ones of Mina were plentiful, showing her in different stages of undress, and a few were downright lewd, her expression and the toys she’d chosen for herself. The message “One must go” was sprayed across the mosaic of supposed shame. They’d find him in the middle of it, clearing eyes wide, and then turning to them with unsaid questions on his lips.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2017, 06:07:03 pm »
Minako flinched a little at Kaze’s cooling mood. It wasn’t that she couldn’t understand it. Really, she had caused him a lot of trouble to this point. Still, she’d been selfish enough to appreciate a sense of safety near him. Now was not the time to become a nuisance to him, if it might mean she was going to be left behind. She set her jaw and did her best not to make any frightened sounds when they heard the loud thump down the hall. “There is a bathroom three doors down. You and Midori should wash your faces,” Minako tried to suggest, but Kaze was already moving off on his own. She glanced at Midori. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize it had gotten in your eyes too.” Sorry she didn’t notice, because Midori was so easy to forget, maybe. Her expression was odd.

She followed Kazenaga when he’d indicated something strange, and immediately regretted it. “Oh.” She said, because she didn’t know how else to respond to the images plastered across the walls. “I don’t understand… what is all of this?” she breathed. Her pale blue eyes were glassy; she’d been bullied a bit when she was younger, and she was used to the offhand comment now, but never had she been made to face such a direct attempt to shame her. Worse, the photos were unknown to her, which meant they’d been collected with a disturbing amount of effort. She flushed, biting her lip hard. How awful to be put on display that way. “Hyuki-kun, Midori-chan, please don’t look,” she said, though they’d likely seen more than enough. “I don’t know where any of this is from.”

“I don’t know why anybody would go through so much trouble to go after all of us, but I think it’s obvious that whoever did this would rather see the two of you walk out of this house than me.” Minako stared at the ground, brows furrowed. “Maybe if I stay, and you two try to leave, they’ll let you go?” she offered. It seemed like a reasonable guess, and if their captor was legitimately murderous Minako had to presume all their efforts would be futile, anyway. If the other two could get out of the house and look for help, Minako could find places to hide. It was her home, after all.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2017, 07:51:49 pm »
Midori giggled when she was alone in the hall, inching after the other two. Her eyes stung a little, rimmed red like she'd been crying and she was careful not to bring her hands up to rub them, the pepperspray still on her skin. Oh, that room. She bit her lip to press down her grin, bumping her shoulder into the doorframe and swinging herself in at their backs.

Minako had been fun to stalk. For many reasons. But no one was ever as fun as her Kaze. Oh, she put his less flattering pictures on the wall but she had plenty of him that could rival the naughty ones she'd plastered up of Minako. But those were for her and her alone, coating the inside of one of her closets.

Midori looked equally scandalized when she stepped up to the wall, blushing at the pictures of herself a mess as though it was at all comparable. She turned her back on the wall as soon as Minako asked them not to look, flushed and shaken. "I...No! We can't separate." She swallowed, laying it on thick. "What if they're still in the house? What if it's a bad joke? M-Maybe we can just leave and it's not so bad..." She continued, hopeful for them because she was the only one that knew for a fact there was no hope for them. Either Minako was going to die in this house or they all were. "Th-Think. Who would want to do this to us? Do you have any enemies Minako-san? Kaze-kun?" She illicited innocently enough.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2017, 12:43:14 am »
He saw Minako come, and he had taken steps to keep her out of the room when he realized the consequences of her seeing this. It had taken him a bit longer than it ought, because he was thinking and feeling the things boys do when they are presented with such private moments stolen from girls. He reached her and wrapped one arm around her shoulders, and the other around her head, to keep her pressed against his chest, as though she hadn't seen it all already.

"This is just an attempt to divide us." he said at her suggestion they leave her behind. When Midori came he held her to him too. Somehow this felt like his fault, the pictures, because he was the least compromised. What she said rang true. "I don't know anyone that would go through all this trouble." he admitted when he started to lead both of them out by their hands. Then he returned to bring the cane. He made sure to grab the battery powered desk lamps on the way, too, one each, but they were already flickering, trying to stay alive. Judging by the heat of their screens, they'd been on a while.

"I suppose it could be anyone. This kind of madness couldn't be justified, not by any of us." he said. "A lunatic." he muttered to himself. He looked at Midory then, because he was a bit embarrassed to meet Mina's eyes, not because he thought of her any differently - though he probably did - but rather because how the pictures had made him feel. It was out of place to harbor that kind of thing in the mids of this nightmare. "Do you have any enemies, Midori-chan?" he offered back to her as they seemed to have made it to the bathroom Minako offered before.

He held the door open and placed his lamp in there. It cast the large, tiled room in a sinister light. It was the best they had. "I think it's better if we go in together." he suggested, since they were only washing up. "Unless either of you need.. time alone."

He tapped the cane against his thigh before looking around, foot over the threshold. It seemed fine, but the shadows were conspiring in certain angles. He didn't know the depths of ambition the person who'd set this all up had. The drawn shower drape looked especially ominous. He looked back over his shoulder. It did seem to him Midori was a probable suspect, since Mina had been so clearly targeted with the pictures, and he knew himself to be innocent. He forced a smile at her, though.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2017, 08:04:41 pm »
Minako was stiff in Kaze’s arms. She could understand that the gesture was comforting, but it felt like bringing her dirty secrets into closer quarters. Certainly, she was a bit fond of Kazenaga, but he and Midori were both acquaintances at best. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment and she was relieved when they seemed agreeable to leaving the room. Minako shook her head at Midori. “I don’t know. It seems like a lot of effort to let us all go unscathed,” She said as they made their way toward the restroom. “But maybe you’re right and we should stick together.”

Kaze had also suggested as much, but she couldn’t bring herself to look him in the eye. It wasn’t that it was any better for Midori to have seen, but Minako seemed willing to have a little less shame felt among girls. Or, maybe she just cared less about what Midori thought. In the bathroom, Minako was less cautious than she should have been, equal parts eager to distract from the photos they’d just seen and to be helpful in the wake of her own mistake. She was quick to start the tap, running her hand under the sink water until she was certain it was neither uncomfortably hot nor cold.

“There should be wash cloths in the closet here, but I don’t come into this wing of the house often.” Minako said, grasping the handle of the linen closet and tugging it open. She gasped and stumbled back under a rain of kitchen utensils, which clattered off the shelves in a ruckus. Knives fell in a mess from big metal cooking pots, and an assortment of other sharp kitchen fare avalanched with them. Minako held a hand over her heart, as if willing it to still its frantic beating. Her startle had carried her back just enough that she was unhurt, and no one else had been in the way. Still, it had been frightening.

“O-oh, I… we should be more careful.” She laughed nervously. “Here,” Minako reached into the closet to grab the washcloths she’d been after and passed them to Kaze and Midori. “And I guess… well, there’s enough here to arm ourselves a bit better, right?” she said. Her voice was shaking, but it was good she was trying to be practical. “Whoever is doing this has been all over the house.” Minako added, staring at the pile of kitchen knives. “Here, and the kitchen, and I must assume most everywhere else.” She said, tugging nervously at a lock of her hair. That worried her deeply. There were plenty of reasons Minako didn’t invite people to her house often, and kept them to certain wings when she did. She shivered and took a step closer to Kazenaga. Embarrassed or not, he seemed to make her feel a little safer. 

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 09:33:48 pm »
It hurt.

Not the way he reached out to comfort the other girl--she was half way to the grave already, even if they didn't know it yet. No. It hurt that her Kaze could be so sure that he didn't know who had done this. That he didn't know anyone that would go to the trouble. That it couldn't be her. Something cracked. She looked around, expecting it to be in the room, but it was in her chest.

She wasn't sure she was breathing until the sound of her name jostled her. She blinked at his face. His beautiful face with eyes outlined in red irritation. Did she have enemies? She smiled and it was full of tears and pain and something else. No. She didn't. All her enemies were his enemies and she made sure they went away. She dropped her head forward and to the side, shuffling along, trying to make herself play along. She'd had such plans, hadn't she? This was supposed to be fun, wasn't it?

She turned and looked when the cupboard opened and the kitchen utensils poured out.

That damned impeccable luck.

Midori moved closer, as though worried or intended to console but she only stepped past Minako. Maybe they would think she meant to inspect it. Did she care what corpses thought? "I can't believe you two." She knelt, belt still dangling from her left hand, fingers tight around the leather. Her right swept across the floor and brought up a long, slender knife. Her voice wasn't quiet or shy anymore. It was full of anger, from someplace deep in her chest. She had spent years loving him. Protecting him. Watching him. And this was what she got? His heart on his sleeve for this slimy bitch? No.

"No!" It tore from her, lean body turning in the bathroom, standing between them and cutlery with that knife gleaming in her hand. "You ruin everything!" She screamed at Minako, lurching forward a step, lip curling when she was within arms reach and knife slashing out. She had the sense to aim shallow, though she did aim for that face.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 08:57:46 am »
Kaze who’d found some solace in the sound of the running water, knowing that some things still worked in a civilized way in this chaotic and dark microcosm, tensed up at the maelstrom of silver sounds as blades in all their shapes clattered and clanked onto the tiles when Minako opened the closet door. He’d followed them in to the ghostly lit bathroom and was now squeezing the provided little towel tight. He pulled Mina close when she instinctively sought out his nearness, as though the collection of cutlery on the floor would rise, assembled like spines in monsters, and stab at them on their own accord. Eventually he’d recognize the pile of metal as the opportunity for armament that it was, even though it started as an obvious trap.

Something drew his eye to Midori when she took the few steps to the collection of weapons. She was thinking the same thing as he. Her shoulders were set at a worrying level, and he couldn’t see her expression. He thought of the sadness that had been there before, when he’d held them. There was none of that girl now, by the knives. “What don’t you believe?” he asked as the lamp he’d placed started to weaken. When she spoke again, with her chosen, large cutter in hand, the light flickered to turn her into a ghost with an unsteady existence, her silhouette blinking in and out with only her artic eyes as the only, glowing constant.

Kazenaga understood too late what was happening, the arch of her slash already far traveled. He saw that he was holding Minako in place for the violence, and immediately pulled her to the side. It seemed too late, with the knife so deep in to the distance between them, that he rather helped move Minako along the critical touch of the gleaming edge. He gasped at his mistake and meant to twist and shove Mina toward the door while staying between them, one arm out toward what should have been the obvious enemy all along.

“Midori-chan…” he tried with a smile that didn’t reach his above his cheekbones. The adrenaline had washed his eyes for him. “What are you doing?” he tried and realized he’d dropped the cane again to hold on to Mina, and the kitchen wares were behind Midori, so they might as well have been in another room. “Listen. We’re in this together, okay? We can just leave together.” He didn’t know what else to say, since she’d obviously been the perpetrator. He threw a quick glance at Mina to see if she was alright.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 06:51:52 pm »
She was bleeding less because Kaze had intervened, but she was still bleeding. On her knees, where she’d stumbled and bounced bluntly against the close wall, she groped at her face with shallow breaths. It was dim in the hallway and darker in the room, such that her hunched silhouette was oddly illuminated by the shifting shadows. When Minako looked up, there was an angry red crescent arcing down over her cheekbone. The wound was dripping, seething, but Kaze’s quick actions had saved her eye. Still, the thick red ran down her brow and caught her dark lashes.

“Midori-chan…” Minako’s voice cracked. “What did we do?” she asked, and it had to be habit that she asked such a stupid question. It was easy enough to see what was behind the unraveling plans now. A grander, more violent execution of a common sentiment. Midori might have been a little admirable for it, even, compared to the girls that could do nothing but gossip and lick their self-imposed wounds. Minako pushed herself back onto her feet, eyes tearing and a bloody handprint on the tile before she pressed her stained palm back over her slashed skin.

She wanted to tell Midori she could have just said something—Minako had never loved a man enough to suffer this kind of terrorism, or any kind of terrorism at all. Delicate by decision and all of that. She couldn’t say it, though, because Kaze was there and she did care to have him and Midori was certainly beyond any talking down if she’d gone this far. Instead, Minako let her pained tears burn her eyes and flow crystalline down her pretty cheeks. Midori had only fed the damsel then. “Can’t we all just leave together?” Like Kaze had said. “You can show us where to be careful and we can clean this all up in the morning. It’ll be like it never happened.” She offered. It tasted foul to say, but maybe it was the little bit of blood that had licked the corner of her lips.

Even as she said it, she was reaching with her free hand to touch Kaze’s back lightly. A suggestion that it might be wiser to flee. Midori unhinged and in a pile of knives made for a poor dinner date, after all.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2017, 09:02:07 pm »
The knife caught her face, cutting a gash across once perfect skin. Midori thought it added character. If Minako survived the night, she'd be able to lay that damsel shit on even thicker. But, she wasn't going to survive. Blood dripped from her knife, eyes fixed on the would be victim she was finally going to make real. Midori didn't mind liars and schemers--but no one was going to walk away with her Kaze.

He slid between them, hand out, eyes big.

She knew all of Kaze's smiles. All of them. This was the lying, placating one.

Minako soaked it up with big tears over. The corner of Midori's mouth twitched, pulling into a grin. "For once, those tears won't save you. You set the scene bitch. I'm just following through." She reached toward Minako with her left hand, fisted with strips of belt around her knuckles. Kaze, ever the hero, tried to stop her advance.  In a second, her icy eyes cut from Midori to Kaze, staring deep into his. He didn't understand. How else could he betray her like this? But that was okay. She'd make him understand. She slashed at the arm he held between them, cutting upward to spray blood at the ceiling, her knee kicking into the meat of his thigh to buckle him. She'd learned to be his sentinel. She'd driven away all of his enemies. She could just as easily drive him to his knees--though she has wished he'd go there on his own.

She latched onto him, twisting him to have his back to her hips and that long knife pulled up against his throat, stretching it long and beautiful. She couldn't help the sigh that escaped her, finally having him against her and not just that time he got too drunk at Yanoko's party last summer and she had to get him home. She'd stayed the whole night, snuggled up against him in his bed, surrounded by warmth and life and all the things that didn't exist in her own apartment.

Midori held him tight in place. If he moved, he'd be sliding his skin across that blade. Her other hand fisted in the top of his hair but she stared at Minako. "All alone now... How does that feel?" She whispered and then smiled slowly. "Another game? Two choices then!" She bit her lower lip, excited, and stretched a leg back, the toe of her boot finding another knife on the floor and dragging it forward. "Run. I'll be too busy with Kaze to chase you and you might just find your way out of the house." She kicked the knife across the bathroom floor to the other girl. "Or finish what I started... cut out your eye and you can have him back. For now." Her smile grew, almost impossibly large, and then vanished all at once. "And then I'll hunt you."

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2017, 08:16:34 am »
He felt some hope grow with Minako’s touch. It wasn’t so terribly impossible, was it, even though he was understanding everything as it must have happened. Midori needed their help, needed something from them that couldn’t be their deaths. United like this, they could convince her. But he couldn’t have been fully submerged in that naivety, not the way he reacted when Midori reached for Mina and he reached back. And then she answered with his red ink in a letter on the ceiling. He retracted his arm, and was about to accuse of her something, a belligerent call, but it only hitched over his vocal chords as he was danced around and his balance was kicked away. Knees on the tile with a groan, still holding the wound, and then he was staring at bleeding Mina, a knife’s promise at his windpipe.

His reflexive anger tried to overwhelm his situation, reaching the blood smeared hand that hadn’t been cut to simply grab at the wrist of her knife hand. The edge of the weapon ate deeper into his skin, testing one of the cartilage rings of his throat. He knew to clasp the wound on his arm again. He didn’t make another attempt at freedom while the two listened to Midori’s terms. When the knife scratched up the ceramic plates of the floor as it was sent on its way he woke from the forced apathy. The blade skidded and then the dispatched cutter rolled to slam its handle into Minako’s foot.

Reality, as Midory had warped it, rammed back into his senses. He gasped at Mina, who was looking at the knife. “Don’t!” he didn’t want that, and he didn’t want to see it. “It’ll be alright, Mina-chan.” He promised as he dug his fingers deeper into his forearm, to squeeze the cut tighter shut. “J-just go.” Another placating smile. But Mina didn’t know him as well. “I will be just fine here with Midori.” Her warmth on his back. Midori had him staring at the ceiling, where the white paint held the galaxy of his blood stars. And on the side, her could see her and her gigantic blue eyes. “Midori-chan. Listen. We don’t need her blood or her eye. We don’t need any of it, right, the two of us?” he tried, those blues of hers incredibly real and crisp in that moment, but not as real as the razor presence of the metal she was keeping on his neck.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2017, 04:50:14 pm »
She sighed, and it wasn’t frightened or sad like it should have been. Frustrated, instead, but she let it pulse against her lips so that it might well have just been a ragged breath. Shock for the situation. But she was staring at Midori, the sky and the sea, blood dripping through her long lashes, and there was a delightful calm.

Minako did not need to weight the options for long. It was a funny, stupid thing with boys. Perfection had no real edge over blemish; a good actress could make an imperfect face shine. She didn’t need the eye, really and the idea of Midori winning was starting to make her mad. If Midori had just played along and left the house in skulking shame, Minako would have been perfectly happy never to see Kaze again. All that idiot girl had needed to do was ask. Minako was good about giving people permission. She was benevolent, that way. But Midori hadn’t asked and hadn’t behaved and now Minako thought it might be worth sacrificing for Kaze, just to see Midori lose her grip on him a little more.

“Do you promise?” Minako asked, small and wavering voice with cold eyes. She glanced at Kaze, softer expression, and gave him a brave smile. Transparent; an obvious attempt to ease his concern. He should know she was doing this for him, after all. “You shouldn’t suffer for a mess I’ve caused. I can’t just leave you here.” She said. It was his mess too. She could just leave him. “Besides, you’re so kind. You’d do the same for me.” Minako said. It didn’t matter if it was true or not, as long as he was her hero.

She took the knife from the floor and held it tight. “Hyki-kun, please don’t look,” she said, as if modesty mattered when one was extracting an organ. Minako gasped and grit her teeth, head swimming in a firestorm as she drew the fine point of the blade to her own eye socket. But cry-baby Minako did not sob, and she stared at Midori with her good eye.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2017, 01:32:11 pm »
Midori looked down at her beloved briefly, when he said her name and pleaded for the eye of a whore. Her smile softened just a little, shushing him to sooth. "We don't need it," she agreed in a whisper. "She just needs to lose it. You brought her into this, Kaze. Now we have to help her be honest. We should all start being honest, don't you think?"

They'd spent years hiding their relationship. She'd been his dirty little secret for so long it felt normal. Normal. Oh, how good it had been at times. But Minako had made Midori realize that they needed more than normal secrets and normal love. They needed something great.

She looked up when Minako spoke, asking for a promise. Midori grinned and nodded once. She could swear and still break it, but she was sure she'd oblige this promise. She didn't mind letting the rats run the maze. They would have been safer in this bathroom with her and her knives than out there. Would they take the hall of razorwire? Or the one with the false floor and long sharp objects to break their fall? Would they be driven downstairs into the basement or up?

She held her breath in a moment of excitement when the other girl picked up the knife. Damsel to the bitter end, this one, begging the boy not to look at her cleaving out her eye just like she had about peeking at the lewd pictures on the wall. Exposure was exposure and whore loved to pretend they hated being seen.

Midori's wild grin tempered down when that blade took to the soft bulge of her eye, the other fixed on her. Oh, there she was. Minako. She let her finish the job, nodding once before unraveling her arms from Kaze, the blade leaving a razor thin cut along his neck. She pushed a knee hard into his back, shoving him forward and to his damsel. "Doesn't it feel better? Being yourself, Mina-chan? No lies between us. I've been everywhere. I've seen you."

She spread her arms, taking a step back, still with the knives but for the one Minako held. "Run then. I'll come and save you." She promised, an offer to them both in their own set. And then she looked down at Kaze between them, her smile gone and replaced by some deep hurt and exhaustion. He was cheating on her, choosing his mistress over his true love. "I never imagined you would betray me, Kaze-chan. I'll forgive you someday. I'll find a way."

She lifted her hands, one still holding a knife with his blood, and fanned fingers in front of her face, not really hiding the big blue eyes that stared out between the digits at them. "Twenty. Nineteen. Eighteen. Seventeen..."

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2017, 02:44:37 pm »
He wanted to tell Minako it’d be useless to take a promise from Midori. Why should she honor her word? He couldn’t even shake his head with the threat of the knife and Midori’s hard grip on his hair. “Listen,” he tried when the girl with the blushing hair spoke of his kindness as though it mattered in a forgotten place like this. “it’s not worth it.” His voice was faster, desperate because he couldn’t do anything to control the outcome of this situation. He thought of barreling forward and leave Midori with tufts of his hair, his throat gaping from the knife, but in the end he couldn’t, wouldn’t.

He couldn’t even look away when Minako drove the tip into the orb. The boy gargled in frustration and horror when she mutilated herself for him. He stared at the result, the sphere with a cat’s slit for pupil now, laid on the floor like the darkest proof of kindness. He was almost listless, being pushed forward, helpless as before even with his freedom. “Mina-chan.” He said as he shook, reaching with bloodied fingers for the lid where her eye had been. He retracted those digits before touching her and then hooked her arm with his hand as he turned to look at Midori.

“H-how could you?” and there was a snarl on his nose, wrinkling into a formidable expression, but he still pulled the girl along, away from the monster. “I… I haven’t betrayed anyone!” he retorted as though she could be reasoned with. His back flexed and the pushed Minako behind himself as though he could protect her now, finally, but his bravado went with the echo of her countdown, her icy eyes caged in her murderous fingers.

He brought Minako along cussed once they were outside, a quick rip deepening the neck of his t-shirt as he offered the strip to her, for the eye. “We’ll make it better later.” As though the socket would grow another eye if they willed it. He didn’t hold on to her anymore. What kind of person drags a half-blind girl along like a ragdoll? But he still lead, and turned around to smile at her with some hope, blood making a sensual, crimson choker for him, trailing all the way down to the opened collar of his shirt to mingle with the exposed valley of his chest.

As they made their way, he held his bloody hand to his mouth, remembering Midori and how she’d changed. It was hard to belive and the realization of it all contracted his stomach around its content. It made him stop and cough, which brought his other hand up quickly. The wound flickered red pearls onward, and they stuck in the air. He stayed where he was, wondering about the ghostly effect, and then gasped when he realized and Minako passed him. “No, wait! There’s wire!” he tried, tripping himself as he launched himself forward, hoping to grab her shoulder. It was unwise to be so eager, of course, to be without footing where your next step could land you in something sharper than Midori’s knives.

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Re: affliction affection
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2017, 12:45:46 am »
She was shaking from the trauma, blood-slick hand pressed over the place where the eye had been. With her good eye, she was still staring back at Midori as Kaze towed her outside. A little glimmer in the crystalline blue. “If we get out of here, that will be enough, won’t it?” she said with a breathy laugh, like she was trying to be good natured in even these circumstances. She gave him a grateful smile for the offer of his torn shirt and bound it neatly across her face. It wasn’t as if it did much, but she supposed it made for a better look. Tied up in something of his, a fine sort of banner for what she’d lost. It was taking a lot of effort to maintain her composure, her head pounding with a throbbing ache screaming protest. “Thank you, Hyuki-kun,” she said softly, and she looked a little pale when she reached out to steady herself on his arm.

It was brief, that contact, and she seemed reluctant to let go. The hall looked long and harrowing, but Minako followed when Kaze made to lead. She had passed him by before they had gone too far. Minako had a plan; if they could get somewhere in the house she was more familiar with, she thought she might be able to get them back the advantage. This wing of the house was so rarely used when her parents were gone, it was no wonder Midori had corralled them into it. It also meant that Midori had done her research. As if the wall of photos hadn’t been evidence enough. She startled when she heard Kaze’s voice. She’d been so intent on picking her way back toward the staircase that she’d half-forgotten Kaze was with her. It didn’t help that she was dizzy and nauseous from her self-mutilation. Minako turned to look back at him, blinking in surprise, just in time to catch his momentum against her small frame as he tripped forward.

The razor wire was sharp and cruel as they fell, catching them both along the shoulder in the tumble. Sprawling on the floor beneath him, Minako was frozen. As if she were waiting for the ground to give out beneath them and send them plummeting. It was not a completely baseless fear. She realized she was clutching at Kaze’s tattered shirt as he lay on top of her and her stare darted upward to meet his gaze. “Are you alright?” she asked, wincing as dark red trails bled through the sleeve of her uniform blouse. They were pretty people, maimed like that. She wriggled one hand free to touch his cheek. “I’m so sorry about all of this,” she murmured, though the words tasted stale in her own mouth. Really, it was hard to say when they had such an apparent villain on their heels. Minako grit her teeth, closer her eye, and exhaled slowly. “We have to get somewhere safer.”

When she met his gaze again, there was an unfamiliar force behind the soft spring blue. “Hyuki-kun, will you trust me?” she asked. “I’m certain Midori-chan has made the path to the door a death trap. I want to try and get to the basement. I used to hide down there a lot, when I was small. She’s probably set traps down there too, but I know all the spaces in and out. Even in the dark. If we can get there, I think I can get us out.” She said. It was all true. There was a false wall on the south end of the basement that had boarded over an exit with stairs up to the old garden. If they could find a way to break through, they could escape. Surely, even Midori would have overlooked a blank wall.