Artwork by nartista
A young man with chin-length brown hair drawn up into a small knot at the top of his head stood alone, his gray eyes staring down at a notebook, his brow furrowed in concentration. He reached out to grab a quill, dipping it quickly in ink before flipping to a new page to scribble down a new thought, a new idea. He stood quickly, making his way to a bookcase to pull a second notebook off the shelf, opening to a folded-down page to quickly scan its contents. With a sigh he slid it back into its place as his head lowered.
He turned back to lean against the bookshelf, his eyes scanning the chaos around him. Beakers of chemicals of different shades in varying amounts were strewn around the room: some clustered in groups, others isolated on separate tables, but all surrounded by empty injection syringes.
“Why isn’t it working?” he whispered, a hand closing into a fist. “What is missing.” He lowered himself onto a stool, his clenched hand trembling, his thoughts racing with a jumble of formulas and memories. His eyes opened, lifting to a torn photograph hung on the wall.
The young man stood looking down at a drawn figure of a man laying still on a bed, his movements limited by straps around his feet and wrists.
“I am sorry, Dr. Sui, but there is nothing more we could do.” A nurse stood along the side of the room, her quiet voice almost a shout in the silence. “He is too far gone.”
“Sui, you know he is beyond hope.” A man with long black hair woven into a braid stood on the other side of the gurney.
“No, there is still hope.” Dr. Sui Shichi lifted his gray eyes to the man who stood across from him. “Bankotsu, we have to try.”
“You have tried everything that you could, and this facility has done everything that it can. Sui…” Bankotsu’s blue eyes looked pained, “you must realize that he is beyond help.”
“He is my father, I will never… NEVER abandon him.” Sui’s voice rang with conviction, his hand covering his father’s, his eyes closing momentarily as he felt the hand twitch under his.
“Sui, he’s dangerous. One moment he is disconnected from the world, and in the next, he is attacking you. Don’t forget what put him here in this facility.”
“Bankotsu, I can help him,” Sui insisted. “I am close, so close. I just need a little more time, and I can release him from the endless night.”
“Sui,” Bankotsu began.
“No, Bankotsu. I will not desert him. Please… Please Bankotsu, help me, help me get the time and the approval I need to move forward with the experiments.”
“ And what is it you think that these experiments will do? Sui…” Bankotsu circled the gurney to stand beside his friend. “...you mention these experiments, to being so close, but what are you trying to do?”
“I am trying to restore that balance, for him, for others like him.”
“Sui,” Bankotsu sighed.
“Bankotsu, how many could we save?”
“How, by playing God?” Bankotsu rested his hand on Sui’s shoulder. “Think about what you are doing, Sui. I will give you a moment; I’ll see you outside.”
Sui’s hand closed around his father’s as Bankotsu’s footsteps faded.
“I will never stop trying, I promise you,” Sui whispered, leaning down to rest his forehead against the gurney. “Goodnight, father.”
A knock on the door pulled Sui from his thoughts. He dashed to the journal on the table, hiding it beneath a collection of papers, before opening the door to reveal a petite, raven-haired woman, her fashionable hair coiled around her heart-shaped face underneath her hat. Her cuirass bodice was fitted, curving her frame over her hips to rest over her bustled skirt, the emerald green silk trimmed delicately with white ribbons, a testament to her class and station. Delicate black gloves covered her hands, which clutched a matching parasol. Standing at her side was an elderly gentleman, distinguished in his dark gray morning coat and slacks, a blue cravat around his neck, a top hat tucked under his arm. His face carried the wrinkles of his age, his mustache and goatee as gray as the hair he slicked back from his face.
“Dr. Shichi,” the man said with a slight nod.
“Mr. Higurashi, it is good to see you. I must thank you for arranging this meeting; I understand it may have been difficult to get the others to agree.”
Kenta Higurashi considered the man, appraising him with his black eyes.
“It is no more than I would do for any member of my family, and those who are to be part of my family,” Kenta stated, his eyes turning to the woman, his granddaughter, standing beside him.
“Kagome,” Sui said quietly, taking her hand to place a kiss on the back of her glove.
“Doctor,” Kagome Higurashi responded softly with a curtsy, her brown eyes never meeting his.
“Our carriage is waiting, so we should be going,” Kenta said with a slight frown. “It would not be wise to keep the governors waiting.”
It did not take long for the threesome to travel to the doors of St. Shikon, where the Board of Governors would be waiting to decide Sui’s fate yet again. He stepped out of the carriage, pausing to turn and offer his hand to his fianceé, turning his gaze away from her momentary look of sadness before placing her hand in his and lowering herself from the carriage to tuck her arm through his.
“You do not need to be here if you would rather not, Kagome,” Suikotsu whispered, and she shot him a grateful look before shaking her head softly.
“No; this is important to you, therefore it is important to me.” Her head turned upwards as her lips curved into one of the few true smiles she had shared with him. “I will be here, even if it is just outside the door, to support you.”
“Thank you.” A brief squeeze of his arm against her hand showed his appreciation, a soft, intimate gesture that caused Kagome’s cheeks to flush prettily as her head ducked down.
As they made their way through the doors of St. Shikon, neither saw the eyes that watched them, pain and longing reflected in those golden orbs before they closed and turned away from the couple.
At the interior doors of the council room Kagome paused, drawing her arm from Sui’s as she stepped to the side.
“I will be here, waiting for you.” Kagome’s voice echoed in the empty halls. “I wish you luck, Doctor. You are so close; I just know that you are.”
“Kagome,” Sui’s blue eyes softened as he looked at his fianceé, his hand catching hers to draw it against his chest, “thank you, for everything.”
Kagome’s small hand rose to his cheek, a faint smile on her lips.
“I have faith in you,” she whispered. “I hope you know that.”
“And I will take that faith in there with me.” He lifted her hand to his lips before releasing it and striding to the door. With one last look to her, he knocked, lifted his head, and entered the room, his coat swirling around him as he moved.
Seven pairs of eyes watched Sui as he moved to the podium in the center of the room, yet only one looked on with fondness or sympathy.
“The Board of Governors of St. Shikon Hospital is now in session.” A voice echoed from the darkness, the speaker hidden from view. “I will call the roll. Sir Kenta Higurashi, KBE, presiding.”
Kenta bent his head forward slightly, his expression troubled.
“Tsubaki Yamada.” A silver-haired woman, her face conspicuously free of wrinkles despite her advanced age, perched on the edge of her chair, her blue day dress and bustle lined with black velvet and green pearls. A noticeable sniff was the only sign of acknowledgement she gave
“Kaijinbo Tokijin.” A middle-aged demon stood, his arms crossed, as he considered the doctor standing before him. Two small bumps at the top of his balding head identified his status, along with his elongated fangs. Black tufts of hair framed the points of his ears, his mustache strangely framing the sides of his face. With his cough, the voice moved on.
“Bishop Ungai Hoshi.” The tall holy man stood, wrapped in purple robes, his walking cane elongated with an elaborate circular handle with a gleaming white crystal in the center. A wave of his hand acknowledged his presence.
“Urasue Oni.” A shriveled female yokai stood, her large red eyes bulging out of her face, her long gray hair flowing unrestrained down her back, a small jar attached to the belt she wore over her blue and pink day dress with a minimal bustle.
“Byakuya no Mugen.” A young man with long black hair drawn high away from his face to flow down his back, his purple eyes sharp as he looked around the room. The points of his ears identified him as the third demon of the council; there was an even blend of humans and demons, as required by the bylaws of St. Shikon.
“And lastly, the Secretary to the Board of Governors, to conduct the proceedings, Mr. Inuyasha Taisho.”
A young man with hair the color of moonlight woven into a braid stepped into the light, two triangular ears at the top of his head revealing his parentage of half demon and half human. Golden eyes lingered momentarily on Dr. Shichi with anger and resentment flashing before it faded, and Inuyasha made his way to the secretary’s table. He glanced down at a paper on the table, his lips momentarily curling to reveal two gleaming fangs as his eyes shot back to the gathered Governors.
“Proposition No. 245, to be presented by Dr. Sui Shichi.” Inuyasha’s rich baritone voice echoed in the room as all attention focused on the man standing alone in the center of the room.
“My Lords and Ladies of the Board of Governors, I thank you for this opp…” Sui began, only to be interrupted by the outbursts of the Board members, each speaking over the other.
“Dr. Shichi, how can you expect us to endorse another empty promise?” Kaijinbo growled, his eyes glowing.
“Will we ever be free of this human who thinks he can play God?” Urasue’s gravelly voice was low in the room.
“Why do you insist on reducing us to a laughingstock?” Ungai demanded.
“I have much better things to do than have my time wasted,” Tsubaki sighed, her eyes narrowing in annoyance.
“You promise nothing more than illusions and false hope; we are a serious hospital, not a church.” Byakuya’s toneless voice was barely audible over the others.
“My Lords and Ladies, Order, ORDER,” Inuyasha commanded, his booming voice silencing the others. “The Chairman, Sir Higurashi, will now address the board.”
Kenta stood and took two steps towards Sui, his gaze lowered, unable to meet the man’s eyes. His eyes closed for a moment before turning to face the Board.
“We here, as the Governors of St. Shikon, are aware of the objections and controversy surrounding the work that has been proposed by Dr. Shichi with his research. However, his contributions to this facility, and the advancements that he has helped bring about in medicine, give him the right to present his findings and proposal in person for our consideration...” Kenta turned his gaze to Sui as he straightened his jacket. “...this one last time. Dr. Shichi, if you please.”
“Distinguished Governors,” Sui stated firmly, his eyes determined, “as I believe you are all aware, there exists in all mankind a duality: good and evil, compassion and hatred. It is this basic conflict that creates what we see as madness, as mental infirmity.” He stepped forward, his hands raising, almost pleading. “I believe, what I have found in my research is there is a way to isolate the two, giving time to either reestablish a balance or to isolate the negative personality, repressing or removing it completely.”
“What, good Doctor, would happen if you are able to separate them?” Inuyasha’s head raised, his golden eyes glittering in the light.
“Governors,” Sui continued, “this has the opportunity to help those poor broken men and women in our asylums, giving them the chance to return to their lives, their families.”
“And exactly what is it you are seeking with your application?” Tsubaki asked, a brow lifted.
“My experiments have progressed to the point that it can be tested on human subjects. I am asking to be given a volunteer, a patient from the asylum…”
“And how would a madman give consent?” Byakuya’s voice was incredulous.
“You are asking to play God; the church will never sanction this.” Ungai sneered as he stood, his bald head shining in the lamplight.
“Dr. Shichi, you are treading on dangerous grounds with ethics with your proposal.” Inuyasha’s voice was harsh, and Sui saw the man’s ears lower until they disappeared against his hair in disgust.
“Governors,” Sui said calmly, even as his insides twisted and he felt slightly ill with anticipation, “my fate is in your hands. I am on the brink of a major success and breakthrough, so please: do not turn away from the possibilities and potential cure. I beg of you,” he added as his gray eyes slid over each member of the Board, “you must say yes.”
“Dr. Sui, you truly expect us to give you--you, of all men?--custody of a patient of this facility for your absurd experiments?” Kaijinbo shook his head as he spoke, his eyes narrowing. “You ask us to turn our back on a patient to allow them to be a guinea pig, to be nothing more than a lab experiment for you?”
“We know all too well the dangers of meddling with lives and those on the brink of death, and now you ask us to turn our back on you and support you in this madness?” Urasue’s eyes grew even larger. “The sheer audacity of your request has me appalled.”
“Sir Higurashi,” Sui pleaded, turning to the man who would soon be his grandfather-in-law.
“Sui,” Kenta replied, his eyes troubled, “I have always encouraged your work and pursuing your dreams; however, in light of the arguments that have been made here, I do not see how you have any choice but to abandon this pursuit.”
“Governors, just give me the opportunity, give me one man,” Sui demanded, his eyes frantic.
“Open your eyes man!” Byakuya shouted, his words rising above the shouts and exclamations of the other members of the Board.
“Well, I never!” Tsubaki’s high voice carried above the din.
“You have gone too far!” Ungai shouted, gripping his cane tightly.
“Order, ORDER!” Inuyasha shouted, glaring at the Board members.
“Lords and Ladies, if ever you needed justification for my experiments, I ask you to look among yourselves and how you are acting, here and now. Look at you: the hatred, the anger breaking through, negativity that can and MUST be controlled!” Sui insisted, taking a few steps closer to the Governors.
“Distinguished Lords and Ladies, your decision please.” Inuyasha said, ignoring Sui and standing to face the Board. “All those in favor, say aye.” Six pairs of eyes looked back at him; no one spoke. After a moment, he continued, “All opposed, nay.”
“Nay,” five members stated evenly.
With a nod Inuyasha turned to the last member. “Sir Higurashi?”
Sui caught Kenta’s eyes and saw the regret they reflected before the older man’s gaze lowered to the ground and he turned away from his granddaughter's intended.
“Abstain,” Kenta said softly.
“By five votes to none, with one abstention, proposition 245 has been rejected.” Inuyasha made a notation in his book before turning to Sui. “Thank you for your time, Dr. Shichi.”
Five of the Board members exited the room as quickly as they could, leaving Sui, Inuyasha and Kenta alone in the chamber.
“Sui,” Kenta began, but stopped at a shake of the man’s head.
“Fools, utter fools.”
“They did not have to give you this opportunity,” Inuyasha said quietly as he gathered his journals under his arm. “Yet they gave you the courtesy of hearing you out, and you instead argue with them. Who, then, is the real fool?”
With a dip of his head, Inuyasha strode out of the room, pausing for a moment in the hallway at the vision in green before him.
“Ka...Kagome…” Inuyasha whispered, his voice breaking as she turned wide brown eyes to him, a faint sheen of tears in them. He reached out a hand towards her and saw her reach out only to pull her hand back, tucking it behind her waist as she gave him a small curtsey.
“Mr. Taisho,” her demure voice was music to his ears, which flicked forward to hear every sound she made.
“Kagome,” Sui stood in the doorway, his eyes dull, his face showing the defeat he felt. With a last furtive glance at Inuyasha, Kagome took her place at Sui’s side, sliding her arm through his and encouraging him towards the facility’s entrance and the waiting carriage.
A tense silence held the carriage during the short trip to Sui’s home. Sui sat against the corner, lost in the anger and disappointment of the meeting. Kenta sat beside his granddaughter, his eyes unfocused as he gazed out of the windows, neither man noticing Kagome’s gloved hand clenching a golden locket with tears in her eyes. As the carriage pulled to a stop, Bankotsu rushed to the door, dismissing the driver with a wave of his hand as Sui dismounted and stormed into his home, never looking back to acknowledge his fianceé or her grandfather before the door slammed shut behind Bankotsu.
“I take it, then, that it did not go as planned.” Bankotsu said carefully, watching his friend pace through the foyer.
“They are fools Bankotsu; blind, ignorant fools with no courage of conviction,” Sui raged, throwing his hat and gloves onto a table.
“They believe you're mad then?”
“They’re hypocrites, every one of them. You should have seen them, Bankotsu, giving in to anger and fear because someone had an idea that was not carefully crafted and designed by them first. They punish those with the will to seek possibilities , who want to do more than maintain the status quo.”
“Sui,” Bankotsu replied, following his friend as Sui tore through the house towards his laboratory, “think of what you have at stake! Do not let pride or anger cloud you.”
“I am so close, Bankotsu,” Sui said. He let his coat drop to the floor inside the lab as he moved to uncover his notebook, which he held out to Bankotsu. “Seven years of work, and I am there, right there--I know this is the right path, I just need more time--but, Bankotsu! Think of it; all those souls, lost in the darkness, desperately waiting, needing someone to find a way, a real way, to help them but... I am growing weary, so weary, of fighting, of having to justify my experiments, my research, time and time again, to those with no vision for what it could mean.”
“If you believe, if you know that you are right, then Sui, you have to pursue it.” Bankotsu clasped his friend’s arm as he spoke. “They hold the reins for St. Shikon, but you are resourceful, I know you will find a way to see it through.”
“Yes…” Sui said softly. He opened the book and set it on the table, losing himself again into his formulas and theories, never noticing when Bankotsu left the room.