nagia: (rk; a/m; blue eyed psycho romeo)
YOUR CHILDREN DESERVE LEXCORP JETPACKS ([personal profile] nagia) wrote2011-08-16 08:12 pm

These Cuts Of Mine ch. 3 -- draft version

Quick notes: So far I've decided that this chapter needs to be non-chronological, since the bulk of the narrative is actually Misao telling Aoshi, and it doesn't feel right for her to talk about it in order. Bits of it are incomplete, and I'm not 100% sure I've got it all in the right order.

Warnings: sexual assault of a minor, violence, misogynistic attitudes (some period-appropriate, some unique).

These Cuts Of Mine
three: but where at last the sea's line is the sky's

His name is Tanaka Tadashi.

He's heavy-set, not outright fat, exactly. He looks more like he builds muscle every now and then, but then lets himself go. Taller than she is, too, but lots of people are taller than she is.

She notices both details, not that they matter. What matters is the way he follows her around the room without ever leaving his seat. What matters is the questions: what's your name? Where are you going? How old are you? Surely your family sent someone to welcome you? Why are you travelling alone?

So what matters is that for tonight, for here, she's visiting her very busy, very protective elder brother in Tokyo. She smiles away any questions that dig deeper; no-one needs to know that the man she seeks is an onmitsu, is probably keeping his ears to the ground.

The fourth time he asks how old she is, Misao huffs a little and snaps, "You keep asking that. I'm starting to feel about ninety-three!"

That pulls startled, indulgent laughter from the okami.

But rather than laugh a little and then back off, as etiquette would require, Tanaka's eyes narrow. He watches her a moment, suddenly and silently angry, and then turns his gaze on one of the other travellers, a heavily pregant woman who shrinks into her husband's shadow at Tanaka's regard.

Misao sighs in relief, thinking he's lost interest.

But once she starts talking to the okami about the state of the road into Tokyo, he cuts in. It's not even a smooth cut.

"There's a garden on this side of town," he says, and his face is the kind of mask people wear when they try to hide their anger — badly.

She pretends she doesn't hear him. The okami looks nervously to him a few times, but Misao staunchly refuses to respond to that kind of stupidity.

"Would you like to see it?"

She looks over at him, having nearly forgotten he even said anything.

He seems to realize she'd been ignoring him, so he prompts her: "The garden?"

"No." She can't keep the Now will you leave me alone? out of her voice. She almost feels sorry for him, when he recoils, clearly startled at being rejected so plainly.

"I thought, for a while, that he might have been different, later, if I hadn't been rude."

Aoshi doesn't voice his doubt of that fact. He's seen very little that could sway such men from their chosen courses.

"I found out later, from the midwife, that he really is different if you're nice to him at first." She laughs mirthlessly. "She says he's worse. I couldn't imagine how, but she says the women who... agreed with him usually just ended up dying."

For a civilian, he's good at knots. She has to fight down panic, salty in the back of her throat, when she realizes that she can't seem to unknot her obi from around her wrists. Not from this angle.

What kind of ninja is she, that she's stuck here?

Tanaka's hands begin to tug on her shorts. All thoughts of how to stay alive fly right out of her head. Somewhere inside her, beneath the fire in her head, she's recoiling. She's only barely aware that he's still talking.

That's when she begins to argue with him: That's not true. But I'm not. I don't know what you're talking about. Let me go.

His fingers press against one of her thighs to make her move that leg. She can feel his skin against hers. Her entire body jerks: she kicks out, trying to push him back, even while she tries to lift herself off the ground without using her hands. But he forces her legs open anyway, knees apart, and the crack of her shoulder dislocating itself echoes through the garden.

She only has a moment to register cold metal against her leg before the knife plunges down. It's quick, at least. There's no transition; one moment, the knife presses against her skin. The next, she can feel the steel in the meat of her thigh.

"You think you can fight back?" He spits in her face, then grips the handle of her knife.

He drags it down. Slowly.

She can't stop the scream.

The world above her goes blurry from trying not to cry. Her eyes sting, but that's nothing compared to the fire of her leg. The cut hurts so badly that she feels dizzy and wants to throw up again.

He tosses the knife away like it's trash, then loosens the wrappings on her other leg. He uses another of her knives to stake it down and that makes her want to cry just as much as everything else tonight has.

"I knew you'd cooperate eventually," he says. "You all do."

This isn't cooperating, she wants to tell him. This is surviving.

"He stopped moving for a while, once he had my bindings off. He was judging me. Only he wouldn't shut up," Misao says. Her voice has gone hoarse.

The wetness in her eyes leaves him reeling. He almost cannot think past the need to fix this somehow, but he knows too well that there is no fixing it. He would turn back time if he only could.

Aoshi doesn't ask what Tanaka said. If she wants him to know, if she even remembers any details, she'll tell him.

The fog wanders through the garden, slinking low and silvery in the minutes or hours that crawl by. She looks up at it, dimly aware that she's so close she could reach after it; it leaves droplets of moisture on her skin, makes her feel clammy.

Or is that his sweat? She's not sure.

The rocking tide in her head recedes just enough for her to think. The ache between her legs dims to a dull throb. She can ignore it if she focuses on something else, like the burning pulse of blood from her leg.

She has to concentrate in order to roll onto her side. And once she's moved that much, she has to lie still and think very hard about her breathing. She can't breathe too fast, or she'll strangle herself. She can't breathe too slow, or she'll pass out. She has to breathe at just the right tempo to keep the pain manageable.

She presses her palms to the ground and pushes herself to her feet. It's agonizingly slow. The muscles in her legs scream in protest, while the burn of the shoulder she dislocated makes her dizzy. She almost loses her balance as she tries to stand. Even when she's up, she nearly falls right back down.

She has to move forward now, while she still can. If she stays still too long she'll pass out. If she falls, she knows she'll never be able to make herself get back up.

The gate doesn't make a sound as she pushes her good shoulder against it. It doesn't even click when she closes it.

She looks back exactly once. Her blood leaves bright spots, turned from red to gray by the darkness.

His hand presses between her thighs. She twitches, trying to dodge his touch but too weighted to move, and with nowhere to move to. He slides her open, forces one of his fingers into her.

Her breath hisses through her teeth. Misao bites down hard on her lip to keep from crying out again. He's got a taste for pain, and she's not going to cater to it any more than she already has.

He slides a second finger inside her. Her entire body tenses in response. Too much else hurts for the pain of it to stand out, but his presence inside her feels like a balancing act.

The cloud cover lifts, moonlight breaking through the fog for just a few moments. He watches her, dark-eyed and intense, still talking about how much she must have longed for this. She watches the garden above them and thinks: He must never have actually wanted anything in his life.


[passing out in the inn]

The doctor looks down at her. His lips curl into a sort of well-meaning condescension; his face looks familiar, painfully familiar, and she doesn't even have the strength to tell him to leave. She's too tired from all the bleeding — and afraid, too, so afraid that her throat clams up.

"Misao, yes?"

Her 'yes' comes out as a soft whisper.

"An unfortunate name, considering," he says, and she feels her hands clench into fists. Before she can try to ask him what the hell that's supposed to mean, he adds, "I'm sure that what you've been through is difficult, but the leg should make a full recovery. Have you spoken to Atsumi-san about... your future?"

Her future? She can only stare numbly at him. Part of her is dully surprised to hear she even has one, that Tanaka's father isn't going to just kill her here, when she can't move, can't fight back.

"I'm sure if she knows anything definite, she'll be sure to tell you. Now, as for your recovery. You'll need to rest maybe four more days, and then I'm sure you'll be ready to be on your way. Really, another week after that could only help, but I doubt you'll want to stay here much longer."

She nods agreement. She doesn't want to be in this awful town a minute longer than she has to. She thinks about burning it down when she leaves, but that'd only kill a lot of people who haven't done anything to her.

"I really do suggest you leave as soon as possible, then." He smiles at her. Her stomach tries to crawl up her throat. "And I wouldn't bother trying to go to the police. Woman like you, they'll only think you're lying — about whether or not you wanted it, if nothing else. And I wouldn't suggest trying to argue you didn't egg him on."

She tastes bile and the thin soup the midwife helped her sit up to drink. Her stomach and throat have started to rebel against the soreness that soaked into the rest of her.

She hadn't planned on going to the police. Now, more than ever, she plans on killing him the minute she can walk and hold a knife at the same time.

Tanaka-sensei must see that in her face. He goes stiff, looks down at her with something between alarm and disdain, before he adds, "And if anything should happen to my son while you're here, I'll tell the police you killed him in an argument."

Misao opens her mouth to reply. She has no idea what she can even say to that, except maybe Please I just want to leave or Get out, but she can't say either of those, regardless.

Tanaka-sensei's voice turns soft as he tells her, "You know they'll believe the town doctor over some insolent whelp who can't even keep her legs covered, much less closed."

There's no keeping her last meal in her stomach now. It's in her mouth, all of it, and she gags, nearly choking herself as she starts to throw up before she can lift herself off her back.

"Have a good afternoon, and I do hope that salve helps the swelling." He smiles again, steps carefully around her as he leaves.

"I thought about killing them both. Killing the doctor first, so he couldn't — " She cuts herself off. "I thought really hard about it for days, you know? But I couldn't. I wanted them dead so badly, and I couldn't kill them."

Calculated murder is not in her nature. Perhaps murder by impulse, killing in the heat of defending herself or someone else, but no, Aoshi cannot picture her planning a man's death.

Not the way he is.

Misao seems to sense that he's tensing again. She stops, looking at him. He relaxes from his crouch and settles in to sit beside her. Once he's settled in, he forces the rest of himself to relax as well.

That's when she touches him. It's a feather-light brush of her fingers against his forearm. The touch whispers up, until at last her hand rests on his bicep.

He places his hand over hers, just as she did with him earlier.

"Are you... angry with me?"

"No," he says. He's careful not to say it too quickly, too firmly. He could not withstand the sight of her wincing away from his voice. Not tonight.

Not ever.

Once again that sensation of wanting her never to fear anything again returns.

For an instant, she thinks she's passed through a torii gate and didn't notice. Fog drifts through the garden, hiding a flower here, a shrub there, only to lift at random moments when the wind pushes it.

She paces a right angle along the wall, crouching, watching. Just watching the fog roll by is mesmerising.

Misao closes her eyes when the wind carries the scent of lilies up to her. They smell so clean —

She climbs down from the wall and moves through the garden. The high walls and closed gate make it seem like someone hid it away just for her.

Gravel crunches.

Misao goes stiff, steps into shadow and fog, but it's too late.

"Come to apologize?"

She goes even stiffer at that voice. "Not really," she says.

"But you did come looking for me," he says. "You're all the same."

"I wasn't looking for anybody," she tells him.

He talks right over her. "Even the ones who say no at first always come to see me. They're all filthy like that."

That leaves her confused. What is he talking about? Is he even talking to her, anyway?

Misao takes a step away from him. She looks around, a little frantic for an exit, but the fog's rolled back in. The only way out she can see clearly is the shut gate.

The shut gate on the other side of him.

And he's still ranting. "...for any man who asks. For any man who shows interest. Disgusting, wanton creatures..."

She tries to ignore him. Trapped in a small garden with a talkative crazy person; not anybody's idea of fun. She's got to get out of here before she goes crazy too.

But the fog has wreathed the walls, hidden away the handholds. She could jump, but if she can't see and if the fog messes with the way sound carries, she could hurt herself pretty badly.

"That's, uh, kind of you to say," she tells him because she hasn't been hearing a word he said, "but I need to go now. Um, really. Now. Early start tomorrow."

That stops him short. He stares at her for a few seconds, like she's the crazy one. She'd like to remind him that he's the one who spent a minute and a half ranting to absolutely nobody, but his eyes glint with something she's never seen before.

Rather than give him a piece of her mind, she shuts her mouth and takes another step away.

"You weren't listening," he says. He stresses on the word listening and she almost squeaks.

She tries to hide it behind anger. "Of course I wasn't! You were foaming off at the mouth like a crazy person."

"Can't even pay attention to the things that concern you. Were you thinking about it? Longing for it? Is that it?"

That only leaves her more confused and more ready to leave. She takes a step to the side, edging away from him. Can she get past him to get to the gate? After all, he's clearly crazy. No telling what he'd do if she had to get within reach of him.

He steps toward her. "You really are all the same. We give you every chance, but you're never any different."

"Hey, quit lumping me in with people I don't know!"

She takes another step sideways. If she can just put enough distance between the two of them, she can make it to the gate. She'll just have to move low and fast, and hope he can't intercept.

The fog behind him lifts; she looks up, checking light and distance, trying to guess how long it will take. But moonlight and starlight bounce off the fog, wrap her garden and him in haloes that make everything meaningless.

"Please," she says.

His lip curls.

The next is a blur. He moves quickly for a man so heavy-set. She sees his hand, fingers splayed and arm outstretched.

Then she sees it a lot closer, when his palm covers one of her eyes.

She brings her hands up to lock around his wrist, but he's thrown weight behind his push. She realizes that there's no time to slip his grip. The ground and the fog and the sky stream past; she has to stumble backwards to keep from falling.

Then the wall hits. The fog flares white for an instant; the stars she can see in the sky flare into pinpricks of light that dizzy her.

He pulls his hand back.

She's still dizzy, trying to find the breath and balance to move aside, when he grabs her face in one hand and knocks her head against the wall again.

The world flares; her head throbs so hard her ears ring. The pain makes her sick to her stomach.

She can't see to breathe, can't breathe to think. Her world narrowed to the hand on her face and the throb of her head —

He shoves again, just as hard as the first two times, and the back of her head hits the wall.

She gags.

He laughs at her. His humor stops when she bends a little forward and throws up on his feet.

That makes him backhand her. She feels a knuckle strike her cheek; she turns with the slap, trying to roll with the strike so she can gain momentum for one of her own. But she stumbles to the side, ends up on one knee.

She looks up. It's the most she can do; her head hurts too much to let her stand.

He presses his palms to her shoulders. Pushes, and she falls back.

"Stop," she says, but the word is thick in her mouth, burbles with the gall from her stomach she's still got in her cheek.

He ignores her. First he takes her gloves. He sees the practice scars — Okon says there's no way to handle blades without a few cuts to the hand, until you learn better. She knows he sees them because he traces one finger along a few.

She tries to push his hand away, but he just starts to rant again. Then he takes her knives. Even once he has them, he doesn't shut up.

He talks too fast for her to keep up with all of it and the way everything spins, too. But she catches a few words: filthy tease, he says while he unknots her obi.

"You wanted this," he tells her once he has the obi in one fist.

He hits her in the face with the other fist. It's not even a punch. He just grabs her forehead and slams her already throbbing head into the ground again.

"You asked me for this with how you dress," he says, pushing her wrists together, above her head, and knots the obi there. "With the way you talk.”

That’s when her eyes start to burn. She doesn’t want to cry, doesn’t want to give him that much. But she knows what he wants. And she’s beginning to think she’s not going to get out of it.

He uses one of her knives to cut away the bandages around her chest. He cuts them off strap by strap. He’s taking his time, taking the time to tug on each bandage he cuts, unravelling the bindings.

He digs his fingers into the fabric and pulls. She looks up at him, catches the hint of satisfaction as he does so. He tosses the fabric away like it doesn't matter, now that he's torn it to shreds.

[and ending or something close. present day.]