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Blood Wars. Part 2.

Chapter Text

          The relative calm, partnered with the lack of any movement from Ryuichi, Yoshiki or Sugizo, had lulled the immortal clans into a watchful subsistence. There had been no attacks in the country that they were aware of, and no further incidents of killings in San Francisco had been reported by Raymond Watts.  That calm did not however, extend to the Inari Shrine in Tokyo.

 

          “Make sure to replenish the incense with the same type, we do not want to confuse or anger the Kami.” Isshi instructed the novice who was tending a small side shrine at the Inari temple. Isshi rarely left the shrine, his days were now spent in quiet prayer, having taken a few novices to perform the more strenuous daily duties. In the years following the last clan gathering, Isshi had come to realize that the signs of aging were starting to show.

          Kimura’s claim of another non-blood born immortal showing themselves, had proven in Isshi’s mind, to be unfounded. Seven years had passed since Kimura predicted the emergence of what he thought would be a new modern day Onmyoji, “Pfft, I am the last of my kind.” He often claimed after another year had passed, “there are none older than I.” In spite of all these truths, it did not stop Isshi from carefully scrutinizing each new novice that asked to serve Inari. No, there would be no new Onmyoji to assist the vampire clans in their eventual war, and frankly the thought horrified Isshi enough, that he voiced his concern to Morrie.

          “I fear my immortality does in fact have an expiration date.” Isshi confided in Morrie on a warm summer evening. Morrie had made an effort in keeping the Onmyoji feeling as if he was still part of the alliance, even though Isshi no longer left the shrine. They would visit and share information, and more than a few cups of wine.

          “Why would you think this?” Morrie poured another cup of sake.

          “Kimura was wrong, there will be no one to replace me.”

          Morrie scoffed, “You’re overthinking this Isshi. There are no signs of you aging, you appear as you have over the centuries.”

          Isshi smiled sadly, “I feel it in my bones, the overwhelming weight on my shoulders have grounded me.” He turned to his friend, “What will happen if this promise of a new Onmyoji…” he let his thoughts trail off, “never mind. Let us tonight, drink until dawn.”

 

          “What’s wrong?” Tatsurou was already in bed when Morrie arrived home, “Is there a problem at the shrine?” he sat up, “It’s not Isshi, is it?”

          “In a sense yes,” Morrie undressed, “but it’s not what you think.” Sliding into bed, he gathered his lover in his arms. “Isshi believes he is dying, and that Kimura’s promise of a replacement, will not happen.

          This was disconcerting for Tatsurou, who held a great affinity for the Onmyoji, “Do you believe him? Does he look ill?”

          Morrie shook his head, “Not at all, his appearance has not changed.” Kissing his lover on the forehead, Morrie closed his eyes, “It’s late, I’ll worry about this in the evening.”

 

 

 

          “Use the Murata Brothers for the renovations on the geisha house, including all former office space and personal rooms to be used for the staff.” Reo shifted through the papers on his desk; information and plans on how he was to proceed in creating a safe environment for the children that were orphaned during the child abductions. “Do you have any promising applicants for the different staff positions?”

          Jyou slid a document across Reo’s desk, “Ohno Nanami will be the house mother. I have other possibilities for the remainder of the positions. They have all been thoroughly vetted and have background checks completed.” She slid another folder towards Reo.

          “I’d like to suggest that you hire a tutor for the children, as it will be some time before they can return to a normal school life…if ever. We really don’t know how traumatized they are.”

          Reo frowned, this had no occurred to him; the possibility of the children being cared for, long term. “Also, did you know that Kyo went to visit the children?” This got Reo’s full attention, “No, I did not.”

 

          Kyo’s heart was breaking at the same moment his mind was burning in anger, “How are they?” he asked the woman who was watching over the children until the renovations on the new Seiiki House were completed.

          “On good days? Almost like any other normal children,” she sighed heavily, “but after dark? I believe that is when the abuse took place. Night terrors are plaguing them all. They share two futons on the floor, rather than sleeping in individual beds, huddled together like a litter of kittens.” The woman knew of Kyo’s tender heart, Jyou had explained the man’s background. “He will never harm those kids; he’d lay his life down for each and every one.”

 

          It took all of fifteen minutes for the children to realize, and understand that Kyo was nothing like the men who abducted them, and killed their parents. Kyo sat on the floor, getting down to the children’s level to speak to them, “There are people that will care for you, and provide you someplace safe to live, and help you recover. I know we can’t replace your parents, but if you ever need anything, you make sure to tell someone to call me. I’ll be here as quickly as I can, and I promise to keep you all safe.”

          Kyo wasn’t expecting to have his arms filled with hugs of gratitude and tiny whispers of thanks, as all seven children gathered around him.

 

          “There will be no immortals involved in this venture, though I will of course, do background checks on every employee hired. Clan Aichi will only step in if there is a serious problem, and I believe you understand what I’m referring to.” Reo was sitting in the office of the current mayor of the city, laying out his plans for Seiiki House.

          “Has there been any recent news or sightings?” The mayor knew that Reo would swiftly take care of any situation involving the vicious immortals, but it did not hurt to stay on top of the issue.

          “No, but we will not be letting our guard down. The renovation for Seiiki House will include underground safe houses, if there is a city-wide attack. I can also take in human women and children if necessary.  

          “How far do you believe they will go in their destruction? Is this something that the city should be prepared for, or will their attacks be restricted to your kind?” The mayor wanted no surprises.

          Reo didn’t have an answer.

 

 

          “I want to go home.”

          “Why are you acting like a petulant child?

          “Why are you ignoring my wishes?
          Mari crossed her arms over her chest, “You’re being unreasonable.” Uruha gaped at her, “Unreasonable? You’ve been dragging me all over Europe for the last five years, and I’m being unreasonable for wanting to go home?”
          “Why now?” Mari turned away, “Why have you waited until we arrived in Paris to demand to return to Japan?”

          “Think about it,” Uruha snorted, “What happened the last time we were here?” Mari didn’t need to think about it, she knew exactly what her lover was referring to. “I’m tired of traveling, I’m tired of foreign food and blood, I want to sleep in my own bed. If you want to stay, that’s fine, but I’m leaving tomorrow night.” Walking away and with a sharp snap of the door, Uruha left the hotel room.

 

          Walking out of the hotel lobby, Uruha inhaled deeply, the scent of an immortal hit him in the face, “Shit.” Quickly surveying his surroundings, Uruha slowly stepped back into the hotel lobby, “There’s an ancient nearby,” he sent his thoughts to Mari.

          “Stay where you are.”

 

          Mari was silent as they returned to their room, though Uruha would not remain quiet, “Is this a good enough reason for us to return to Japan? We may not have friends there, but at least we have allies.” In her heart, Mari knew what her lover was saying was true; they didn’t have any friends, but they would be protected. “We leave at dusk.”

 

 

          Setting down on the soft white sand on a beach in Chiba, Uruha was able to take a full and relieved deep breath for the first time in years, “Finally.” Mari smiled and admitted to herself that it did feel good to be back in Japan. “Shall we go home?” She linked her arm with Uruha’s, “We may have a difficult time finding the cottage, I’m sure the weeds have overtaken the garden.”

          Walking up the steep narrow path from the beach, Mari’s senses were on alert for any unwanted visitors. Once their small cottage was in view, Uruha jogged ahead of his lover. Reaching the gate, the couple took a hard look at their property. “Well, you were not wrong when you thought the weeds had taken over,” Uruha laughed, “can we hire someone to remove it all?”

          The look Mari gave Uruha spoke volumes, “No, you will be clearing the weeds. You wanted to come home…we did and now it’s time to clean.”

          “My…wait!” Uruha sputtered, “You expect me to pull all these weeds by myself?”  Mari raised an eyebrow, challenging him to continue to whine, causing Uruha to back down. “Fine, but I’m only clearing the garden, you have to clean the house.”

         

          Clearing the over grown brush and weeds from the garden around their cottage, had ended being a daunting task for Uruha, “We should have hired someone to do this,” he complained more than a few times. But he could not argue the fact that both he and Mari were happy and contented now that they had returned home. It wasn’t until a warm autumn evening, a month or so after their return, that there was an interruption in the couple’s happiness. Mari had not expected such a visceral reaction from her lover, after informing him that Sakurai Atsushi would be their guest that evening.

          “Why would you invite him into our home without evening consulting me?” Uruha ranted, “Do you not see the danger in having that man in our home?”

          “Sakurai poses no threat to us. What are you afraid of?” Mari asked.

          Uruha narrowed his eyes, “I’m afraid of those who hate Sakurai, your maker being at the top of that list, followed closely by Imai. Sugizo is also an issue, he’s unpredictable. How can you be certain that they will not be following him? No Mari, I will not allow Sakurai Atsushi in our home.” Uruha was firm in his decision.

          She was dumbfounded by her mate’s firm stance, but oddly pleased, “What will you accept as an alternative?”

          “We meet on neutral territory, in a public setting, perhaps a place that Yoshiki would dare not to make a scene.”

          “Your plan has one flaw, my love. Yoshiki, or Ryuichi for that matter would not hesitate on acting out in public. Sugizo is as you say, unpredictable. You haven’t forgotten what he did to Reo’s man, and Morrie’s clan member? Both were done in a very public area.”

          “I still do not believe we should have Sakurai in our home.” Uruha would not concede his position.

          Mari held out her hand, “Come, sit with me.” Grudgingly, Uruha took her hand, sitting next to her on the overstuffed couch.

          “If not here, would you agree to meeting Sakurai at his estate? Not one of those monster’s would dare attempt an attack on Sakurai’s home. I can contact him and change our plans.”

 

 

          “Please Uta, behave yourself tonight,” Kai pleaded with the man, “I’m sure both Mari and her mate will be feeling uncomfortable enough, without you stirring up mischief.” Uta had the decency to look ashamed, “I promise. Do you know why they’re coming?”

          Kai shrugged, “Not really, though I’m going to guess that whatever it is, it’s important enough that they agreed to come here.”

          Uncomfortable was an understatement, at least for Uruha. Being in such close quarters with the ancient, unnerved the younger vampire; his single thought was to grab Mari and run. For the family’s part, they simply sat quietly and ate, listening intently to Mari’s recounting of what had caused the couple to hastily return home. “…Uruha did not see who they were, but felt the hostility nonetheless. That’s when we decided it was time to leave Paris.”

          Kai cleared his throat, “I understand that this isn’t important,” he blushed, did you happen to see Norte Dame before you left?”

          “Kai!” Sakurai snapped.

          “Um,” Uruha looked at Mari, who nodded, “we visited the cathedral a few times, why do you ask?”

          Sakurai sighed, “Kai had developed a fondness for the building when we were living in Paris, centuries ago.” Mari coughed, attempting to cover her embarrassment, “Yes, well I did tell Uruha of our first unfortunate meeting, and as such we visited the cathedral several years ago. Age has not diminished its beauty.”

          “Thank you, I appreciate the information.” Kai beamed.

          “As I was saying, we do not know who the hostile immortals were; be they European or not is anyone’s guess. I wanted to give you the information as a precaution.” Mari bowed her head lightly.

          Sakurai returned the bow, “I appreciate your trust in coming to me. I am still happy to offer you protection and assistance should you ever need it.” The conversation was suddenly interrupted, “Excuse me, Atsushi?” Uehara stepped into the room, a bundle of rags in his arms, “I found this in the reeds along the canal.” He handed the bundle to Sakurai.

          “What do we…oh my, you poor thing.” Curled up tightly, a small dog covered in mud, shivered with cold and fear. “Who threw you away, little on?”

          In an unusually bold move, Uruha stood and reached out for the small dog, “May I?” Taking the puppy from Sakurai, he quickly checked for injuries, “It’s a girl, she’s only about three weeks old, too young to be away from her mother. I think she’s white under all this dirt and mud.”

          Sakurai glanced at Mari and winked, “Uruha-kun, please if you will, take this young pup and care for her, I really only have any experience with kittens.” Shock spread across the young immortal’s face, “Um, I mean…” he looked at Mari, “Can we?”

          “It’s true, we have not had another dog to love since Louie, and it looks as if she is in dire need of help. So yes, we can keep her. Thank you, Atsushi.” In a rush of emotion, Uruha leaned over and kissed Mari. “Now, I believe it’s getting late and we really should be going, we have a tiny pup to attend to before dawn.” Mari and Uruha thanked Sakura for the meal, even as they turned him down for his claim of wanting to give them protection, “We’ll be just fine.” Mari insisted, even as in her heart she wasn’t so sure.