"What do you mean, Michael's on his way here?" Enjeru demanded, a hard frown on his face that was reminiscent of the "old" Enjeru, as they were already saying.
Suzu nodded reluctantly. "Hai. Gabriel too. They'll be here at the end of the month." She shrugged faintly, a worried look in her eyes and on her face. "It's about time for our annual inspection anyway."
"And I doubt Michael is going to like recent developments very much," Miki cut in, snagging a piece of fruit from the pile on the table.
"You mean me, right, Miki-san?" Aku had to ask.
Miki's free hand landed on his head and messed up his dark hair fondly, in a very older brother-ish motion. "It's not just you, Aku-kun. Michael has a bigger stick up his ass than even our Enjeru here." The general pouted faintly. "He doesn't like it one bit when everything doesn't exactly match his plans." He gently and playfully punched Enjeru's shoulder. "And our Enjeru is good at messing up his plans."
"It's not my fault that his plans don't work well in real fights," Enjeru complained. He stretched lightly and went back to eating, apparently about to try to not paying attention to them.
A thin arm grabbed him in a headlock and ground a fist into his hair again. "Don't you start ignoring us, Enjeru-kun!"
"You're horrible, Suzu-chan," Miki laughed. Even Aku couldn't hold off a chuckle at the sight.
The general shrugged her off almost casually. "If Michael is going to be here, then I need to start getting everything in place," he stated shortly, standing and walking out, leaving his food and friends behind.
"You guys're only worried about Michael, not Gabriel?" Aku asked, glancing up at Miki. "Why?"
"Because Michael's a tightass," the older man explained. "Gabriel, now Gabriel's cool." He stretched, yawning. "Ne, Aku-kun, why don't you go keep Enjeru out of trouble for me, please?"
A faint smile touching the young man's lips, he nodded. "Okay. Have any idea where he's headed?"
Suzu grinned cockily, jerking her thumb in the direction of the places she spoke of. "He'll either be on the training grounds or in his aide's tent or in his own tent. You know where they all are?"
"Hai. Thanks, Suzu." He stood, turned, and ran after Enjeru.
Once he was out of sight, the smiles mostly dropped off the other two's faces. "How do you think it's going?" Miki asked cautiously, taking another bite of the fruit in his palm.
"Slowly. They're just so.... oblivious." A twinkle entered her eye as she turned towards him. "I wonder if we could get Gabriel in on this."
"Oh, one of those 'Gabriel-kun, one of your ex's needs to be set up' type of things?" he chuckled, even producing a mock falsetto that came nowhere near Suzu's speaking voice. She punched his shoulder none too gently. "Hey, what was that for?"
"I don't talk like that!"
"Not exactly like that, no," he teased.
"Mou, that's mean, Miki-kun," she pouted, turning in her chair so that she no longer faced him. "What did I do to deserve that?"
Incredibly gentle hands touched her shoulders and pulled her back to lean against a firm chest. When he spoke again, his breath brushed against her ear. "Be your usual kawaii self is all," he whispered.
"Miki?" She turned back around to face him. "Just... what are we... to each other... now?"
Sapphire eyes turned just a shade darker. "Whatever you want us to be. Whatever you want us to be. Friends..." he leaned closer and brushed his lips against hers, "... or more..."
She pulled just a bit back and hesitantly touched her fingers to her lips. "Miki? I...think I'd like for us to be a bit more than friends... if that's all right with you."
* ~ * ~ *
Things just keep going from bad to worse, or at least that's how Yuurei felt at the moment. After a more than hearty scolding from Gozen-sama, he was still licking his wounds, as they say. This is also that brat's fault, he thought miserably to himself. If I didn't know Gozen-sama would murder me painfully if I touched that kid now, I'd rip him straight to pieces. Him and that Enjeru guy, both of them...
"Yuurei-sama?" a guard nervously slipped in his tent, glancing around himself nervously. "Yuurei-sama, there's a woman here to s-"
The flap flipped open broadly, and a dark-haired, scantily dressed beauty stalked in. "He knows who I am," a sickeningly sweet and obviously fake smile touched her lips, "don't you, Yuurei-kun?"
He gestured vaguely at the guard. "This is my sister-in-law. Get out of here."
"H-hai!" He saluted the general and all but ran back out.
Yuurei propped his chin on his hand and glanced at her appraisingly, and she smiled at him again. "Like what you see, Yuurei-kun?"
"The dress has gotten more revealing," he idly commented.
She shrugged vaguely. "It's gotten a lot hotter." She glanced around. "Where's my nephew?"
Bad to worse, bad to worse... Or... maybe I can make the best of this... "Hews captured." Dark hair and a barely clad, awe-inspiring buxom swayed as she whirled to stare at him. "By General Enjeru."
Navy blue eyes, the same shade as Aku's but much sharper and harder, stared at him for several long and tense minutes before she burst out laughing. "That one wasn't half bad, Yuurei-kun. If it hadn't been Aku missing, I might have believed it. So he finally got up the nerve to leave this hellhole, eh?"
Damn it! Why is that everything concerning that brat never fails to go wrong? He nodded slowly. "He left, I brought him back, and Enjeru took him again. And that's about all of it." He sighed, now staring at her as she stalked over to his throne-like large chair and draped herself over one of the armrests. "So why are you here, Maki?"
"Well, mostly to visit my nephew," she replied, running a finger across the breast of his uniform, "but also to visit you, Yuurei-kun." She stood and abruptly dropped herself in his lap. "I heard Gozen-sama paid you a visit."
"Still following him around, Maki?"
She shrugged, slyly unbuttoning his uniform just a bit. "It's a hobby, just like messing with my nephew was your hobby. I could have almost sworn you hated him, the way you treated him." Finally laying his shirt open, she playfully explored his chest. "So, are you glad he's gone?"
"I'm still not rid of him, Maki." She looked up at him, startled. "Hai. It seems he's the key for Gozen-sama to control the first of the winged halflings."
That got her fullest attention, and she stopped short on her groping. "Winged...halflings? You mean, the prophecy?" She bit her thumb lightly. "So the gods have found one?"
He nodded, ignoring her sudden preoccupation. "It's General Enjeru."
Her eyes grew impossibly large, and she sat up sharply in his lap. "Really?!?" she shrieked nearly in his ear.
"Of course," he returned harshly, glaring at her. "Why would I lie about something like that?"
"It's just that... I'm not sure I want my nephew around someone as dangerous as one of the winged half-breeds." She bit down on her thumb again. "A creature like that... could hurt him in ways not even Gozen-sama could think of. And I have to look out for him in his mother's place, since Mai's -"
"Don't talk about Mai."
"She was my twin sister," she argued softly.
"She was my wife, and that brat killed her."
"Hardly his fault." She sighed. "I knew I shouldn't have let him come here." She shrugged the spoken thought aside. "So how are we going to get Aku back from the gods' army as Gozen-sama can use him against the winged half breed? Direct force hasn't worked, and General Enjeru isn't going to listen to threats." He raised a thoughtful eyebrow at her. "What about deception?"
He kissed her cheek lightly. "You're a woman after my own heart, Maki. What did you have in mind?"
* ~ * ~ *
"So here you are, eh?" a deep voice growled. Aku skidded to a stop and glanced around, easily spotting and recognizing the tall man in the guard uniform as he stalked closer to him. "Finally slip away from Enjeru-sama?"
"What do you mean?" he asked, confusion written all over his face and in his voice, backing up as the much taller man stepped even closer to him, forcing him closer to the wooden wall of the camp.
"You may have Enjeru-sama fooled, but you aren't pulling anything over on me." With a slam, Aku's back hit the wood. A second later, both of the guard's arms slammed into the wall on either side of his face, and he leaned close enough to Aku's face to feel his breath against his face. "I'm going to be keeping my eye on you, you little shit. One slip, and you're dead. Just like that."
"I'm not going to do anything to Enjeru," argued Aku softly. "He saved me...I owe him..."
A sickening smile crossed the guard's face. "Oh, so it's like that. You're just a piece of tail." Navy blue eyes glazed and his body slumped in shock. Calloused fingers grabbed his chin when he would have turned away. "You can't be good enough for all the effort Enjeru-sama has put into you, going after Yuurei like that."
Just a piece of tail... just a piece of tail... Oh gods, he's probably right... I knew it...I'm nowhere near good enough for Enjeru-
"Samiel," a cold, deep voice cut through the night, and the guard immediately jerked himself upright. Without the man holding his body upright, Aku's body slumped to the cold ground. "That's more than enough." Like a dark guardian angel, Enjeru stepped out of the shadows, revealing himself bit by bit, his wings showing themselves last, folded back behind him. With agonizing slowness, he stepped up to the soldier, staring at him until the other man wilted. "Do I look like an idiot to you, Samiel?"
Caught off guard, Samiel stuttered for a moment then managed to get out, "I- i-iie... Enj- Enjeru-sama..."
"That seems to be what you're implying by questioning a decision I made. I made a specific statement that Aku here is going to be working with us as an informant for now on. I trust him." Navy blue eyes snapped up at those three words. "Are you implying that I'm an idiot for doing that?"
"I - iie, Enjeru-sama...demo..."
"Demo what?" If anything, the general's face and voice grew more severe.
The guard looked down and shuffled his feet. "Nothing,... sir." He turned and started to leave.
"One more thing, Samiel." The guard looked back at him. "I'm removing you from guard duty due to this incident. If I hear of you or any of your friends coming anywhere near Aku, I'll ship you all to the front lines. Got it?"
"Hai, Enjeru-sama." He slipped off into the darkness, leaving the two men alone.
Moving almost too silently to be heard, Enjeru slipped over to and knelt beside Aku. He gently threaded his fingers through his dark hair and brushed it back out of his eyes, gently trying to lift the younger man's head to look up at him. "Are you all right, Aku?"
"For what?" asked Enjeru, a truly puzzled note in his voice.
"You are always having to come save me." Anguished eyes turned up to him. "I'm not worth all this. I'm not -"
A gentle finger touched his lips. "Don't believe that. Don't even say it. You're worth -you mean a lot to me."
Trying to battle down the hope rising up within him, Aku barely whispered, "Really?"
"Of course!" he declared quietly. Very gently, he pulled the trembling teenager into his lap, wrapping his arms and wings around him. "I know we haven't known each other very long now, Aku, demo... I...I... I think I like you." The confession sounded like it had been forcibly yanked out of him, but he didn't seem ready to take it back, instead pulling the young man closer to his own body and tightening his grip on him just a little bit.
"Enjeru? I... think I like you too."
Finally, confessions!!! And I didn't even have to threaten the characters with "to the pain." Ten points if you know the reference.
All right, serious note here. After Chapter Fifteen, I will betaking down every chapter of Butterfly Wings and no longer posting it anywhere on the 'net. I've finally made up my mind to give a shot at publishing it. However, I know there are some readers who want to keep getting regular chapters, so if you want me to mail you private copies (lirpa, LizBethy, Pokahydee), e-mail me so I can add you to the list. ^_~
All right, so I'll see you in the next chapter! And remember: I live for reviews! Bai-bai!
Shinjeru sore dakega dekinai kotodato yu
Nidoto kiztuketari wa kesshite shinai kara aa
Ururete yuku ishikino nakade kimiga warau
Ima sugu sokoe ikuyo hitoriniwa sasenai mo
Akuku somerareta mune kodoga ima tomaru
Yasashiku narerunokana kono inochito hikikaeni...
You say the only thing you can't do is believe
I'll never hurt you again, oh...
In my fading consciousness you're smiling
I'm going to go there soon. I won't let you be alone anymore
Inside my bloody chest, my heartbeat is stopping just now
Can I be gentle in exchange for my life?
-"Jesus christ love For you," Nanjo Koji, Cathexis