Date: September 22, 2010
Yet another disturbing day in the life of "Lady Ryoko". This time, however, the loss of sanity is not her only worry when she is confronted with the image of her dead sister…
"Infection - Only Glass"
Datura's Room - Fuuma Alley
Fuuma Alley was always a bustle of activity, though almost none of it was pleasant, and neither were the people, sights, or smells. For a city so unaestheticly appealing, it was a wonder that someone like Datura would choose to make this her semi-permanent location, her 'bastion of power', as it were. Though she simply called it 'home', as much as a murderous runaway could HAVE a home.
The nasty slums were most definitely not her style; that was where the rest of her troupe were put up when they weren't touring or she had no need of them. Most of the budget went to Datura's accomodations, though here, in THIS city, the diva tended to pay for her own things with the money provided to her by a 'mysterious benefactor' she never named for 'various tasks' that she never specified, as well as money from other ventures, ranging from illegal gambling, to conning the innocent, to gifts from admirers and frenemies. The blonde-haired starlet's bachelorette pad was proof that crime DID pay. Quite well, if one were good at it.
Pink was NOT a gothic color, but the girl once known as Yamanaka Ryoko had still managed to make it so. Black, dark shades of violet, and bright, happy pink mixed and matched all throughout the penthouse to form a bubbly brooding feel, if any feeling could ever be described as such. Lamps that were all black had pink stripes painted down them, the curtains made of satin purple, with draped overtones of muted pink. Even the bed was not spared the latest fashion taste of the domineering eighteen-year-old, as the sheer, near-see-through cloth draping from the four posts was solid black, covering an interior of bright pink. When the designer had showed it to her, Datura had quirked an eyebrow, looked right at her, and told her that it reminded her of a woman's private passage. Giggling insanely, she'd bought it immediately.
This decor, much like all the others that came before it, would last somewhere between a few weeks and a few months, before being discarded and replaced with whatever the young woman decided the latest fashion was.
But it's not the color scheme that would likely draw the attention of visitors, but the organic webbing that all but buried one corner of the room in thick and sticky silvery strands strong enough to trap a small child. From floor-to-ceiling the web spins, a nauseatingly chaotic mass of spidersilk with a singular hole in the middle, almost like a macabre caricature of a dwelling, leading into the darkness within. At first it may appear to simply be decoration, but a closer inspection, or a touch, would reveal that this was not the case, as well as the dozens of tiny arachnids clinging inside the mass in various locations. In fact, looking on almost any surface would reveal tiny spiders, no bigger than the pad of a finger, clinging here and there: one on the edge of the bed drapes, a few on the curtains, one crawling slowly across the ceiling, one dangling from a string inside the lampshade.
Was it Halloween already? The fact that they were moving showed their authenticity as something more than just decorations.
The diva herself was just exiting her bathroom, a soft black robe practically drowing her body, with sleeves that only her fingertips peeked out of the bottom of, and thus had to be rolled up, and a hem that hung down to her calves. Around her hair was a towel, this one white and fluffy, keeping her damp hair at bay in a turban formation. She was humming a little song as she tucks away stray blonde strands escaping the cloth's grip, smiling to herself.
As Datura is leaving the bathroom, the door suddenly and loudly >slams< shut behind her. Now how did that happen? Is there a window open somewhere? Well, the door just sits there. Opening it again will reveal the bathroom. Normal. Empty. Or as 'normal' and 'empty' as any room belonging to Lady Ryoko would be. Nothing odd here. Nothing at all.
The next place the diva is likely to visit is the vanity, of course. A mirror and a hairbrush. Just the thing for wet hair. Upon seating herself (and probably making sure no spiders are on her chair when she does so, incase they can't get out of the way on their own), one look in the mirror would reveal something odd… A very familiar young woman, with wet blonde hair, a brief white robe, shorter and smaller than Datura's, with some fuzzy or furry material about the edges and hem. The change in clothing is not the odd thing. The odd thing is that this young woman is sitting on the bed behind Datura, leaning against one of the posts of the bed with her left shoulder, and reading a book in her lap.
And turning around to look would reveal… Nothing. The room is empty. Normal. Or as empty and normal as it >can< be when owned by Datura and home to various spiders. And yet there she is in the mirror. Reading.
The blonde-haired diva spins around wild-eyed, her hands up defensively as the door slams shut, her legs tensing as she prepares to leap away. A sudden intruder? A gust of wind? Or something more… ominous? Slowly, ever so slowly, the starlet relaxes, letting out a breath she didn't even know she was holding, droping one hand down to her thigh, the other placed beneath the lapel of the robe, over her heart, willing it to return to normal. As well as things were going on the surface in her life, some things had her a bit unhinged. Both the Spider Queen's and Amuro'-kun's' words echo briefly through her mind before she pushes them away.
Her soft footfalls can barely be heard on the plush carpet even by her own ears as she slowly saunters towards the vanity, with it's large, gargoyle-clawed mirror, pulling the towel off of her head and shaking her wet hair loose as she does so. The absorbant cloth is deposited carelessly on the floor as she takes her seat, taking care to pick up a red-and-yellow arachnid and guide it gently onto the surface of the small desk-dresser, out of the way of being squished. She reaches for the hairbrush and looks at herself in the mirror.
The hairbrush clatters towards the ground as the blonde spins in place, half-upsetting the stool as she does so, instinctively backing up, only to be stopped by the edge of the vanity. Her hands grip the ledge behind her, her butt against the lip, breathing hard and staring wild-eyed at the empty air on the bed. Swallowing hard, she begins to turn back towards the reflective surface. Her heart stops in her chest as blue eyes land on the too-familiar young woman in it's reflection.
She inhales a ragged breath, starting to back away from the mirror, a hand going up near her throat as if to stop her heart from jumping out of it. She stops her feet when she realizes she's backing TOWARDS the woman in the mirror.
"Stop it. STOP IT!"
Bending quickly, the outcast Yamanaka's small hand clasps over the hairbrush, her arm whipping around in a frenzy as she HURLS it at the mirror, turning around before it's even finished it's flight to see if the mirage on her bed has appeared in physical form to torment her.
The mirror cracks, an ironically spider web-like pattern of broken glass spreading outwards. The reflection in the mirror is now too distorted to tell if there is anything odd there anymore. As a couple pieces of glass fall to the vanity top, and clatter there, Datura turns to look behind her. Nothing. The room is empty. Normal. Well, if that is all it takes to eliminate the… Hallucinations? Illusions? Psychotic breakdowns? Well, maybe Ryoko is able to force them away now. Maybe she's getting stronger. Maybe this won't be such a problem after all.
A visitation to a different mirror to finish brushing her hair, such as the one across the room, shows nothing odd per se. Exept for the fact that Ryoko no longer has a reflection in the mirror. Instead, there's Riku, sitting in a chair, reading a book. She looks up, spots her sister, and smiles and gives a little wave. Then she returns to reading her book. This is different from past hauntings. No more subjecting Ryoko to the visible gore, the sounds of screams, of crunching bone, of shredding flesh… None of that. Just Riku sitting in a chair and reading, while Datura has no reflection in the mirror at all.
The blonde turns slowly at the sound of crackling glass, half expecting an apparition to have been loosed upon her room by the now-broken mirror. Her eyes look over the tiny sparkling fragments, not seeing the yellow-and-red spider on the vanity top, crushed by a larger piece of falling glass. There's the soft sound of restless motion from within the mass of webs in the corner, but nothing more. None of the many spiders around the room seem to be the least disturbed by the outburst, not being sentient beyond anything outside of about a foot's radius of themselves.
With trembling hands, Datura picks the hairbrush out of the glass, from where it was embedded in the mirror, giving it a few good shakes to dislodge the sharp fragments from the bristles. She holds it like a weapon, as if preparing to lash out at something, or someone, with it, making a slow turn in place, her eyes searching for any sign of the one who didn't belong, the one who wouldn't leave her alone. Her breathing slows, she closes her eyes and drags a hand over her face as she walks away from the shattered mirror, towards the full-length one attached to the wall across the room, suddenly feeling less like brushing her hair, more like she wanted to lie down and rest for a few hours. It may have been only a few sparse moments of adreneline-surged terror, but it had already left her feeling drained.
She starts to raise the brush tiredly towards her long strands of blonde hair, but pauses with a frown. There was the room behind her, but… where was SHE? Then she spots where SHE is, blue eyes snapping onto the vision of her sister in the mirror, sucking in a startled breath and stepping back on pure instinct. She half-turns, looking over her shoulder to assure herself that nothing was behind her. This can't be happening. It isn't happening. It isn't happening, it isn't happening…
"It isn't happening, it isn't happening, it isn't happening…" The blue-eyed diva isn't even aware she's speaking. How could she not have a reflection? What had happened? Was she trapped? Was this really a door made to look like a mirror? Someone's sick fucking joke!? Slowly, cautiously, her eyes never leaving the figure of Riku as she returns happily to her reading, her fingertips extend to touch the reflective surface, right where her own face should be shining back at her. "You're not real… you're not real, you're not real…"
Riku seems to hear the mumbling from Ryoko because she looks up, arching a slender blonde eyebrow as though perplexed. Then the eyebrow comes back down and she grins. She puts the book down, gets up from her chair, and walks towards the mirror -- or towards the 'other side' of the mirror. Or… Whatever that would be considered, since it's just a reflection and the other side of the mirror is the >wall<.
Regardless, there's Riku's reflection in the mirror, standing right where Ryoko is. She's younger than Ryoko. As young as she was when she died. It's not much of a difference, but it's noticeable. Somewhat shorter, somewhat more youthful, the strain of age -- even only a year or two as a kunoichi -- absent from her features. Her curves are not as developed, her eyes somehow more innocent. And when she speaks, her voice is slightly higher-pitched than Datura's.
She smiles, her bright-blue eyes squinting almost all the way closed as she raises a hand and taps on the mirror from her 'side'. Then she says, "It's only glass. It's not that thick." Then the mirror >breaks< in the same manner as the one at the vanity, except that this time it's like the glass just caved in when it broke, like it was struck by something -- hard. And then the glass begins to >BLEED<. And a >scream< echoes up from nowhere, becoming louder and closer every second until it fills Ryoko's ears!
And then it cuts off when the door of the bedroom flies open!
The door of the bedroom opens. People tried to stop Kanami from entering. She tried being polite. She tried being sultry and flirty. She tried threatening but pleasant (a hard one to pull off). She didn't get to go through her entire repetoire of 'characters' before the guards got tired and tried to show her out of the building. An encounter with two large white serpents that came out of Kanami's sleeves later, and the guards were suddenly quite cooperative!
And now, at the sound of glass breaking loudly, and a familiar woman's scream, Kanami rushes through the quarters of the Lady Ryoko, and bursts through the door into the bedroom! And finds… Datura. She's alone in here, there's a broken mirror nearby, and another across the room at the vanity and--Is that blood? On the nearest mirror, there's something red. Kanami rushes over to Datura to find out what's going on. Was she attacked? She does not detect anyone else in the room--no wait. There is. There ARE others in the room. Spiders. Lots of them.
This is… Odd. First thing's first. Datura may be injured. The Nogakujin gently but firmly grabs the 'Lady Ryoko' by the shoulder and turns the younger woman to face her!
Pain and fear. Datura's world was a mixture of the two, and she felt herself falling, something warm running into her eyes, something hard arresting her fall in a heap. She couldn't see. Had that THING that was not her sister done something to her? Had the broken glass she'd seen shatter pierced her eyes? It was the last thing she could remember seeing, along with those awful screams. Someone was still screaming. She didn't know it was herself.
Blue eyes open, bringing the world sharply back into focus, the wooden floor mere centimeters from her pupils. The scream ends as the diva runs out of breath, whipping her head up to suck in a shuddering breath. Her arms were shaking so badly they barely held her up from the floor, her legs beside her in a heap, her weight on one hip. It's in this bedraggled state that her Tao Shih companion finds her.
Datura screeches again as she is touched.
Her eyes are squeezed shut, a few lines of blood trailing down one side of her nose, another down her temple and over her cheek, as Kanami turns her forcefully to face the older woman. Involuntarily they seem to open, to take in the new horror that awaited her, only to find a familiar face, a shock to her brain. Was it over? Just another trick? Her shrill terror tapes off into a whimpering whisper, her mouth still hanging open, as if unsure whether to continue screaming or cease the noise.
This was not the Datura presented so carefully to Kanami at any other time. Her eyes were wild with the emotion she so often caused in others: fear. Her yellow brows were raised and pushed together, several thing lines across her forehead leaking crimson blood into them, her eyes wet, her hair, now mostly-dry, hanging around her in wet, messy strings. A little filth and the usually-pristine starlet would look right at home in the gutter on the streets.
"Ah…" The sound is a high, small, barely perceptible attempt at speech. Finally, her mouth closes, and her face bunches up into a ball of misery right before she throws herself at the Nogakujin's chest. Datura buries her face into Kanami, sobs coming uncontrollably, hysterically, her muffled voice wracking itself in near-unintelligible words. Her hands twine into whatever cloth they can easily grab on the other woman, clinging to her in an uncharacteristic show of vulnerable need and want of protection. Her hands work, balling and unballing, pulling and tugging at the brunette as if trying to crawl through or into her, as if that would help her escape her torment.
"No…! No, no, no, don't let her… Don't let get meee-heeeeeeee-heeeeee… Please, Kana, I'll do anythiiiiii-hiiiii-hiiiiing, PLEASE!"
Kanami is startled a bit. Concerned? Not particularly. This is all fake, after all. And yet, even in a reality that is not real, there are certain consistencies. There are certain things that can be counted on. Chief among them is that people do not change. Not really. Only ones such as herself -- the very best and brightest of the Nogakujin -- are able to seperate their sense of self from the input of the world around. And very few have her level of understanding in regard to the TRUE nature of the universe. So, then, it would appear that either Datura is acting right now -- presenting a front -- or this is a facet of her true self, normally kept hidden. From what Kanami has observed of Datura when she lets her guard down, she is leaning towards the latter.
She puts her arms around the blonde woman and holds her gently, stroking the back of her head with one hand and trying to guide her out of the room. Something happened here. Datura is not the type of person to inflict harm on herself willingly, to the best of Kanami's knowledge. With that being the case, that means… Something forced this upon her. Whether injuring herself was the objective or not is hard to say. But this room does not feel safe. It reeks of danger. Then again, that may be due to the potentially venomous arachnids scattered around. Kanami backs up towards the door, continuing to hold Datura close and keeping her eyes on the rest of the room, scanning slowly and measuredly to identify any sudden movements, anything out of place… Anything that can give a clue.
But she finds nothing. Broken glass. Spiders. Blood. The room is empty and ordinary otherwise. Whispering soothing things to Datura, she finally vacates the bedroom. She's sure she'll get a proper explanation later. For now, somewhere safe is needed.
The bedroom is exited slowly, with the younger woman taking tiny, uncertain steps, her shoulders heaving with each wretched sob that tears itself out of her. She doesn't know where the other woman is taking her, where they're going, she never looks, she just doesn't want to be alone. If she's alone, it might come back for her. Only when they clear the door leading into the common rooms of the apartment does the blonde-haired young woman slowly pull her face away from Kanami's torso, strands of blonde hair hanging in front of her eyes, some matted to her red-smeared forehead, wild fear in her eyes as she slowly, in short, terrified movements, begins to turn her head enough to look into the room behind her in a manner that suggested she was afraid of what she would see if she actually looked behind her.
But her eyes only fall into an empty room, occupied only by arachnids and broken glass.
Her small hands never release the older woman's cloth top, white-knuckled and trembling in their efforts to maintain physical contact. Slowly, in the same manner she had started, Datura's blue eyes turns back up towards the brunette's face, inhaling and exhaling rapidly, raggedly. She begins to get her feet under her, able to move in slightly less stumbling motions, leaning heavily on Kanami's thin frame. Her hands finally release the other woman, her arms slipping about her shoulders, holding them tightly together as every part of her being shakes with the after-effects of fright. With a final, heartfelt sob, she releases the Nogakujin from her deathgrip-hug, pulling back just enough to peer around the room they were in, as if seeing it for the first time.
"Wh-Why… are you here?" Her eyes never halt their nervous glancing, not even a break to wipe the twin trails of moisture from her cheeks, or the congealed blood from her brow. Not to fix up her face or arrange her hair, or even to adjust and smooth out the bathrobe she wore. The vain Yamanaka didn't even seem to notice her bedraggled appearance at all her eyes flit about the room as if searching for something, her movements a little too quick, her breathing a little too irregular, and her skin a bit too sweaty to pass for nonchalant. "Did you… see anything? I-D-D-on't leave."
The formally-dressed 'traditional Japanese lady' that is Kanami is not terribly pleased to have tears and blood smeared all over her clothes and person, but she can afford new clothes and a bath will clean her right up. At the moment, she is more interested in what exactly caused this current situation. The universe has thrown a surprise in her lap. She has to react appropriately and in the role she is expected to play. Namely, sympathetic, comforting, and caring. She keeps her hands on Datura as long as it seems appropriate and necessary, continuing to maintain a steadying, stabilizing presence and connection. Even though she'd probably be the first one to topple in the event of a physical assault from some unseen assailant.
Infact, when Datura clung to her initially, she almost fell. She is pretty weak. But right now, she has to act as though this was not the case. "I am here because you called, Dat-chan," she answers soothingly, one hand stroking the side of the blonde-haired head before her, while the other holds the head still somewhat so she can examine the injury. She is by no means qualified to treat head injuries, but she can probably at least tell if there's glass shards imbedded in the flesh that could be removed.
"I saw many things, and I am not going anywhere until we are both certain you are safe," she replies in a warm, loving tone that is not mimicked internally. Her face mimicks it though, smiling while still managing to look concerned. "What precisely might I have seen that could cause this? Is this the result of an attack? Did someone influence you? Did someone physically strike you such that your head collided with the mirror? I did not detect anyone else in your room when I arrived, but if he can overcome you without alerting your guards, then concealment may be a specialty…" She bites her lower lip slightly, the red lipstick standing out from her pale skin.
"If so, then we should relocate somewhere else. You will need someone to look into these injuries as well. Do you know anyone who can be… discrete?"
"Oh. …Thank you for coming." The words sounded hollow, empty, a shell echo of a what should be Datura's usual voice. As her head is directed to still from it's inspection of the room, she instictively obeys the nonverbal command, holding steady while blonde bangs are brushed out of the way, revealing a pair of thin red lines going length-wise from her right temple to the middle of her forehead, crossing just above and to the right of her nose for a few centimeters, forming two halves of a very skinny triangle. Her breathing stills, though her heart still races at a pace that was much faster than it should be, blue eyes shining with a sheen of tears so freshly fallen, wide as they take in Kanami's face, as if they were permanently stuck in a startled position.
"W-What?" Her mind, so recently immobilized with fright, has trouble processing so many words at first. After a few moments of hesitation, the outcast Yamanaka sucks in a breath, wets her lips… and lies. "No, I… there was no one." At least, that MIGHT be a truth. "I broke a mirror." Another truth. "I-I was… going to the other one. And I… fell." A half-truth buried in a lie.
She puts a hand to her temple slowly, as if wondering what the older woman could possibly be talking about in regards to injuries. Her middle and index finger come away with the tips red. "It was the blood. Yes, the blood. It frightened me. It's not bad, is it? I called for Mune-chan. She should arrive by tomorrow. Perhaps she can fix this." Normally the blonde-haired young woman was a much better liar, but she was still recovering. Datura bites her lower lip as she looks over her shoulder into the room, a spider the length of a finger crawling across the floor in front of the door.
"You'll stay with me until she comes." Though it's whispered, there's just the tiniest undercurrent of her usual demanding tone returning, before her eyes come back onto the brunette, placing her hands on Kanami's lower arms. "Won't you?"
Kanami can identify most lies in progress fairly easily. She is a walking lie factory herself. Every action, every word, every expression, all calculated to convince others what she wants them to be convinced of. But right now is not the time to confront Datura on her untruths. She is the sort of person who would defend her words, no matter how false they may be, like a child caught in the cookie jar insisting it wasn't him. Evidence would be necessary to make her admit the truth, and right now Kanami does not have such evidence.
So she merely makes a non-commital noise about the story, and then responds, "I see. Well, I am sure she can help you recover just fine. She will probably need to ensure no fragments of the mirror remain, but I do not see any myself, and the cuts do not seem to go too TERRIBLY deep. They will heal, likely with no scars even if permitted to do so naturally, and with the help of a Medical Ninja it will be like nothing was ever there at all."
She smiles and leans in to very lightly kiss Datura's shredded forehead, resisting the impulse to lick it as well, and instead moving Datura to the nearest comfortable-looking piece of furniture. "And yes, I intended to stay from the beginning. I have completed Amuro-sama's task in the Land of Wind. Did you hear about it yet? You probably will eventually. But I am now ready to assist you in whatever capacity is necessary. I do not believe we have any further assignments for the time-being… Except for yours, of course."
"That's-That's good." It's mentioned absently, the normally-vain diva barely concerned with the possibility of facial scarring. She allows herself to be first kissed on the head, and then led towards a plush two-seater couch like a child who'd just had a bad dream, seating herself on the edge as primly as she could manage considering her state. A mere half-hour ago she had been clean, fresh, and beautiful, and now she felt as if she'd just been beaten, and then drug through several miles of mud and gravel. With the adreneline fast wearing off, a dull ache was beginning to throb outwards from her cut flesh, which had by now stopped bleeding as the blood begins to harden.
Datura finally takes a hand away from the Nogakuni's person, leaving the other to hold onto the bottom of her kimono, over Kanami's thigh, as if she didn't trust the woman to simply get up and try to leave. Rather than sitting back, she slumps slightly forward, her shoulders hunched as she looks away, the fear slowly fading, leaving behind it a look of utter tiredness.
"That… That will take some time yet to complete. Not a thing to be rushed. Something else I have to do first. Something I need to see to." She mutters sentence fragments while staring blankly at a lamp on a coffee table near the other end of the room, by a larger couch.
"Kana-chan," A long moment of silence hangs in the air before she speaks again. "…I miss my sister." It was the first time she'd ever mentioned anything from her previous life, and as she straightens her shoulders, her face becoming more blank as traces of emotion are slowly reabsorbed into the dominant personality she presented to others, drawing back around herself her metaphorical cloak of secrecy that she wore more typically, her window of unguarded words and emotions drawing closed. With a sniff, she wipes away the tear tracks from her face and lifts her chin higher from it's downcast position before turning back towards the older woman at her side.
"It was so good of you to come. I wanted you to accompany me tonight… but I don't think I'll be going out. We'll stay in. But first I need you to help me pick up the glass." If recalcitrance is shown, or a prompt given, she offers up a "Please."