The first thing he could think as he felt consciousness swimming back up on him was, gods, he hurt.
The second was, Holy shit...
He recognized where he was. How could he not? He'd spent the better part of the last three years in this hellhole. And he knew without a doubt that if he looked up, he'd see the person he despised most in this world.
The toe of a black boot slid under his chin and raised his head. It was only then that he realized he was bound hand and foot. Oh gods, this is so not good. I'm screwed...
"So you're finally awake, brat?" that too-familiar, overly nasal voice sneered. He glared up at Yuurei with all the hate he could muster but kept himself from saying a word. "Did you really think you could get away from me that easily?" When he didn't answer, the boot slammed into his cheek with enough force to knock him over onto his back. "Don't you dare ignore me, brat!"
Yuurei grabbed him by his shirt, lifting him up off the ground, and he struggled as he felt the material begin to rip from the force."...iie..."
"So you can still talk, eh?" He raised a fist threateningly above Aku's face, and he couldn't hold back the automatic flinch that came. "And you still remember respect to your elders too. That's good."
Who could respect an asshole like you...? he thought miserably but wisely kept it to himself.
"I can't believe you were stupid enough to try to get away again," the general ranted, throwing him back down on the hard dirt ground and pacing wildly back and forth before him. "Utterly stupid! It must be your mother in you..." He shook his head, frowning down at him. "That's not going to happen this time. This time you're going in shackles so thick you won't even beg into dream of getting away." He sat down gracelessly in the straight-backed chair beside him. "So what did you see in their camp?"
Caught utterly off-guard, he whispered, "Nani?"
A small smirk. "So what did you see in their camp?" Yuurei repeated slowly as if speaking to a slow child. "What kind f defenses do they have? What kind of condition are their fighters in? How was their weapons status? Do they even stand a chance in hell of beating us?"
He couldn't hold back a smirk of his own. "Enjeru alone could kick your ass." Suzu rubbed off on me quick, he thought briefly. A second later, his thoughts were cut off by a vicious backhand colliding with the exact same spot the boot had earlier.
Green eyes snapped at him viciously, again grabbing him by the front of his borrowed shirt and dragging him up close. "Their young general made such a big impression on you, brat? I don't know what you're thinking, but he's not coming to rescue you." He chuckled mirthlessly. "No one with a brain would willingly waste their time on someone as worthless as you. If Enjeru knows what's good for him, he's probably counting his blessings to be done with you ri-"
"Yuurei-sama!" a guard screamed, bursting into the tent and not even bothering to bow to the shogun.
"What the hell?" Yuurei growled.
"Someone -iie, something is attacking us! They're using a high-level fire spell and a silver sword, and they're making mincemeat out of our fighters!"
"Call for reinforcements from the flank covering the enemy base then!"
"They went through them first! And they're headed this w-"
Those were the guard's last words before a stream of fire shot through his chest, almost like a sword of pure flame, slicing him in half. Yuurei reacted with amazing speed, drawing his own weapon and harshly kicking Aku out of his way. "Who the hell are you?" he called out to the attacker. When there was no reply, he started to step out of the tent when the cloth suddenly caught aflame and disintegrated in a few seconds around him. He stared at the sole fighter that had taken on his entire camp in perfect shock.
The man stood there bathed in flames and carrying a bloodied katana. Reddish-blond hair blew in the harsh breeze the fires were kicking up. A shirt that had perhaps once been white now clung to him because of the matted red, red blood on it. He wore black pants and a dark brown belt. His entire right arm was bandaged from the triceps to the back of his hand, but the thin pieces of cloth were beginning to unravel and were flying in that same breeze. Auburn eyes glowed with a cold fury as they stared at him solely; he was definitely this creature's target. But the most defining characteristic about the young man before him was the huge white wings that extended from his back. A few feathers flew off, and one landed on the ground directly before Aku's eyes.
"Yuurei?" Even the man's voice was cold. Those cold eyes glanced at the captive figure behind him and softened momentarily. "Let Aku go."
"So you're Enjeru, eh?" the shogun asked slowly, a smirk building on his face. "I never expected that taking the brat would bring the gods' army's general right to my doorstep..." His eyes narrowed in a devious manner. "Does he really mean that much to you?"
"None of your goddamn business." A hate that did not belong in the eyes of one of the gods' clearly evident, he leveled his sword at Yuurei. "Now let him go, or I'll finish you off also."
"I can't believe you came all this way for that brat." Reddish-brown eyes narrowed, and Enjeru dropped into a fighting stance. Yuurei laughed shortly and made an expansive gesture to Aku behind him. "If you want him so much, take him."
He could only stare in shock for a long moment. He's just going to let me go? After starting that huge battle just to recapture me...? Wait a minute... Maybe he's scared of Enjeru. It looks like Enjeru took out most of his army, and it'll take weeks for reinforcements to get here. He slowly pulled himself up so that he was sitting, albeit a bit uncomfortably.
The wary look never left Enjeru's eyes as he slowly circled around the shogun and over to Aku. "Are you okay?" he asked softly, kneeling beside the young man.
He nodded. "You?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." He slid his sword through the ropes, and it effortlessly cut through them. "Can you stand up?"
"Hai... I think so." He tried and stumbled, only to find himself caught in curiously gentle arms. He glanced up to see auburn eyes staring down at him, an uncommonly soft look in them. "I guess not."
"You know, he's not worth your consideration, general, but you do have a habit of coming to reclaim my used goods," Yuurei added. Enjeru seemed to ignore him. "This one's just a brat who doesn't know his place." Enjeru didn't even glance at him, instead placing the majority of his attention on examining the growing red mark on Aku's cheek. "But if you want him in your bed, I'm certain most of the camp can vouch for how-"
He felt himself freezing in Enjeru's arms. He knows, he knows... He's going to leave me here now. He's going to realize how big of a mistake it was to be friends with someone like me, and he'll leave me here...
The sword flashed once. Before Yuurei even saw it move, he felt an immediate and sharp pain in his cheek and blood pouring down the side of his face. Ice-cold but angry auburn eyes turned back to him; if they were any indication, the gods' general wanted his blood, at the very least. "I didn't ask for your opinion," he stated ominously. "Aku?"
"H-hai?" he stuttered.
"Put both your arms around my neck and hold on," Enjeru said without looking at him, sheathing his sword. Still a bit in a state of disbelief, he obeyed without question. Seconds later, he was surprised to feel himself swept up in arms that didn't look strong enough to hold him. "Is this okay?" he whispered.
"A-aa,"he hesitantly agreed.
A faint but tender smile touched the general's lips. "All right. Hold on." Those wide, white wings spread out again, and before he knew it, they were airborne, leaving that hateful place far below them. "Aku?" He glanced back up at the man holding him. "Did he hurt you?"
"Iie, I'm fine." He brushed his sore cheek. "This is nothing."
"No, it's not." Enjeru frowned, looking away. "I'm sorry for breaking my promise to you. I let him hurt you."
"It's not your fault. Don't blame yourself, okay? Please?"
Auburn eyes glanced back down at him, staring down into his eyes. He was as still as he could be, letting Enjeru look for whatever he needed to see. Finally, as the camp Enjeru commanded appeared slowly before them, he nodded. "All right. Just let Suzu or Deborah-san look you over, make sure you're completely okay, all right?"
He smiled up at the winged man, ignoring and giving no indication of the pain it caused his abused face. "All right. I bet Suzu's going to be waiting to scold us when we get back anyway."
"Don't look down; I think you're right."
Of course he couldn't resist looking. That white and blue shape slowly coming into clear view had to be the small female fighter, and she didn't look all that happy. Enjeru let himself slowly drop out of the sky to land before her and Miki and set Aku on his feet on the ground.
"Enjeru, you jerk!" Suzu immediately began. "How dare you just go over there alone! We could have -"
She was suddenly cut off (this seemed to be the day to do that) as Enjeru's eyes rolled up in his head and he collapsed bonelessly. Only Aku's and Miki's quick intervention kept him from hitting the blood-soaked ground.
19 July 2001
Maa maa... this chapter was supposed to come out last night or early this morning, but I was in too much pain to finish it (baka dentist... Just ask Tenshi-chan; she had to put up with my whiny ass self) so I'll try to make up for the lateness somehow.
Coming up next:
The secrets of the past are revealed, and a fateful prophecy comes to light. And what about Enjeru? Is he going to be all right?
See you there!