Date: October 23, 2010
Datura wants to tell the truth to Kanami. She wants to be rid of the malice infection in her soul. And yet Kanami has to struggle to pry the truth out of her and has to fight for the right to help her. Drama, fan-service, and a pervert snake run rampant, as Datura struggles to free herself of her paranoia long enough to save her own life!
Poster's note: WARNING, R-rated scene!
"Infection - Promises In The Night"
Grass Daimyou's Palace - Kusagakure
Moonlight filters in through the large windows of the extravagant bedroom. The suite was large, far larger than even Datura was used to staying in. The bedroom could have fit the average-sized home inside of it, wide and spacious enough for two or three families to live comfortable in, if there were any walls. It was a set of rooms located within the daimyo's palace of the Land of Grass, a set of rooms reserved for the new Precious Consort, the Illustrious Lady Ryoko. But tonight the Precious Consort was not at his Lordship's side, nor sharing his bed, proclaiming herself unwell and 'ill with fatigue'. The Lady Ryoko was a delicate creature, after all, a fact which was well-known to the ruler of the Land of Grass and he took great pains to take care of his 'rare flower'.
The room was painted and covered in various shades of crimson, lighter closer to the ceiling, darker the closer it got to the carpet, until it eventually faded into the blood-red, plush, wall-to-wall rug underfoot. The bed was large, soft enough that one could almost sink into the mattress and never be seen again, a downy texture which molded to the body and likely cost more to craft than the average farmer made in a year. In this bed slept the Lady Ryoko, known as Datura by the one she shared it with, a dark-haired woman who had been let into the palace as one of the performer's 'dear, close friends'.
The night was peaceful, and the windows overlooking the soft starlit garden below allowed the silver light in to caress delicately across each piece of furniture, cushioned futons and plush chairs, a low table. Yet still, despite the palace staff's best efforst, bugs managed to get in. And within the Consort's suite resided the most deadly of insects: arachnids. They kept mostly out of sight, beneath furniture or between the crawl spaces between shelves and walls, but always they were there. In any place Datura lingered, the spiders slowly gravitated to and took up habitat, drawn to the woman by something unseen. The green-and-black-haired tarantula remained, an ever-present, almost-hidden guardian, with tonight's post being clinging to the bottom of the bed on which it's mistress slept. Only the soft murmurs of the blonde herself disturbed the tranquility of the dark chamber, the muffled sounds of dreaming.
"Mm… no… nngh-no… no… no… NO!"
With the last syllable rising to a high-pitched shriek of terror inescapable, the young woman sits bolt upright, covers flying from her pale upper form, wide blue eyes open and staring horrified into the barely-lit room, her lips parted as her chest heaves, lungs rasping desperately for air. Her too-rapid pulse could be seen at the base of her throat, beating wildly, erraticly, hands knotted in the sheets, white-knuckled and shaking, body covered in a cold sweat. Despite searching the room, Datura's eyes fail to find anything, her shoulders hunching forward, her hands reaching up to cover her face, squeezing her eyes shut as she lets out a single, agonized sob.
The moment that Datura moves so suddenly, the sound of her shriek aside, a pair of yellow-irised eyes open right next to her and begin searching for a target. Finding only the pale-skinned blonde, Kanami watches until she gets to the point of covering her face with her hands. Then she makes a point of murmuring sleepily, despite her current wide-awake state, "Dat-chan? What's wrong?" She rises fluidly from lying on her back to sitting up, allowing the sheets to fall from her torso as well. She may be older than Datura, but she is not built the same. Instead she is slender, graceful, and even more 'fragile' than the Lady Ryoko.
Her right hand and arm slide across the shoulders of Datura, wrapping around them lightly, offering a comforting presence, as she places a mask of concern on her face. It is not that she does not care, but she is still wary. But wariness will not make Datura relax and explain what is wrong, and wariness might make any intruders depart rather than risk being revealed.
Holding the diva against her with her meager strength, Kanami idly reaches her left hand out towards a ceramic Noh mask lying on the nightstand, more to make sure it is still there than because she plans to use it.
The young blonde shivers as the soft hand of the older woman slides sinuously across her shoulders, her skin cool and damp to the touch. Her own hands move a few scant inches from her face, enough for her to turn her head to the side and look at the dark-haired Nogakujin between the blonde strands of her loose hair. Swallowing hard, her pulse still racing out of control, Datura begins to calm her breathing, running a finger under her nose as she sniffs deeply. Her head shakes a little, just enough to sway her hair and make the motion apparent in the pale light.
"I-It's nothing. …Just a bad dream. A very bad dream."
A wane smile, partially directed towards the woman holding her, arrives on her lips, but does little to mask the fear and uncertainty in her eyes. She swallows again, looking around the room more casually, her eyes coveting every shadow as if expecting it to be full of treachery. Not until none of the shadows move under her wary gaze does she allow her form to relax into the half-embrace of her night-time companion. A shuddering breath is drawn in and then let out, as if the young performer were willing her heart to return to a more normal pace.
She rubs lightly at the base of her throat, pulling the covers back up to her chest with the other hand as her forehead finds the actress's shoulder, protecting her body from a chill only she could feel, despite the rapidly-drying sweat, a few strands of hair plastered to her temples. She licks her lips slightly before speaking again, as if her mouth had gone dry. "I didn't mean to wake you. I'm just… not used to nightmares. To having them. I need some water." An arm lifts to point at a now-empty tea cup sitting on the low table half-way across the room, part of the dinner that had been delivered much earlier in the evening for the two of them, her eyes shifting to the partially-ajar bathroom door. Even that room had no mirror.
After a moment of silence, she lifts her head and raises her eyebrows expectantly. "…Please?" The unspoken command to acquiesce her because she had a bad dream was written plainly across her expression.
Kanami brushes her lips over Datura's head as it is lain on her shoulder. She breathes in the scent of Datura's shampoo, and considers sending out her lengthy, prehensile tongue to lick at the blonde's uncovered ear. "It is perfectly alright, Dat-chan. I would rather be awoken for mundane issues, than sleep through a crisis," she murmurs. But then the request for the water is made. Kanami moves her mouth away as Datura lifts her head, so as not to be head-butted accidentally, and smiles placatingly. "Of coursssse," she answers sibilantly.
Sliding her arm from Datura, she slips out of bed, her sudden waking seeming to have had no impact on her coordination. Absent of clothing, she strides across the plush carpet, moonlight highlighting her pale skin in the same way it does Datura's. The difference is that Kanami is much paler, and thus practically shines in the darkness as the ghostly glow that passes through the windows traces every curve and emphasizes every movement.
Kanami is almost to the table when one foot brushes something on the floor. She stops moving immediately, but not quickly enough, as the voice of some old man begins complaining loudly. "Wh-what's goin' on!? Eeh!? Did someone kick me just now!? Eeh!?!?!" Kanami sighs resignedly and puts her hands on her hips, cocking them to the side as she looks down at the small, coiled snake that had previously been asleep. "My apologies, Bannin-san. However, you should not be sleeping in the middle of the floor like that--" "Eeh!? Kanami-chan, is that you!? How dare you disrespect your elders!" The snake lifts his head and looks up. He has bushy eyebrows and a confuscious-style beard on his scaley face for… Some reason.
"You should consider yourself lucky I don't--" then the bearded serpent, apparently named 'Bannin', actually sees what Kanami is not wearing. "--I… Ee… (Umm…) Sore wa… (That is…)" Then he begins to drool a bit. "MMM! Kanami-chan~!" he calls out. "To think that you would awaken me in such a state! This must mean you have finally decided to be my wife after all, ne?" Kanami closes her eyes and releases a breath of annoyance.
"You give yourself too much credit, Bannin-san. I am merely retrieving some water for Datura." She then picks up the teacup and starts heading for the bathroom to use the sink. "N-nani!?" Bannin calls out, and gets kicked again -- a bit more firmly this time -- when Kanami turns around to cross the room. "Aagh! Again!? I should inform Manda-sama of your insole--" then he sees the way the moonlight glows on Kanami as she walks away. "--nnnnnnmmmmm…" He spaces out into perverted drooling.
Kanami returns with the water, and indicates Bannin with one finger. "I do not recall Summoning you, Bannin-san. Go to your own home, please." "Nani!? I came all this way to watch over you and your wide hips, and perfectly formed chest, and firm--" "Away!" A puff of smoke, and the snake is gone. The Nogakujin holds out the teacup to Datura with a huff.
The smile of quiet appreciation that the blonde gifts to the brunette is lost almost as soon as Kanami turns her back and begins to head across the empty space. The diva turns her head to the side and stares blankly out at the moonlight, biting her lower lip, only to nearly jump out of her skin at the sudden introduction of a male voice, yanking the covers up to her throat as her torso spins about to land eyes on the 'intruder'. Blue orbs go from wide to narrowed in an instant, then resign themselves to a dramatic roll. An eyebrow arches imperiously towards her hairline at the mention of a marriage proposal.
But Datura doesn't interject her own voice into the exchange between snake and human, instead watching the serpent with passive silence until it vanishes in the midst of yet another lewd comment in a puff of smoke. An unsteady hand reaches out to grasp the dimunitive cup of water shakily, bringing it to unsure lips for a quick sip-and-swallow.
"I think you should make more of an effort to wear clothes around that one." Tucking the sheets under her armpits, Datura holds it up over her torso by virtue of keeping her arms close to her sides, cradling the cup of water in her lap. It doesn't last long before it's brought to her lips again for another sip, then almost set down, only to take another sip, as if she couldn't quite decide if she wanted to drink it or hold it. This pattern of almost-set-downs and sips continues until hardly any water is left within at all, at which point the small drinking container is placed on a bedside table, causing the blonde to lean far to the side and stretch an arm out to her full reach. As she reaches up, gathering her long mass of yellow hair in her fingers, sweeping it across her shoulders to dangle on only one side, her eyes return to the other woman.
"I… don't want to sleep any more, koibito." A glance is given to her pillow, as if it contained the contents of her night terrors. Despite her proclamation, the dark rings beginning to form beneath the kunoichi's eyes from days of interrupted sleep told another story, as did the yawn she was even now fighting not to release. Dropping her eyes down to the silk and satin sheets covering the sleeping platform, the blonde-haired teen runs the pads of her fingers lightly over them. "Do you ever wonder…?" She clears her throat, wetting her lips before trying again. "Do you think the dead can find us?"
Kanami nods in agreement. "Clothing is not optional around that old hentai. He is harmless… But annoying. Contributing reasons for him to be irritating should be avoided." She watches as Datura drinks -- or rather sips -- at her tea cup until it is nearly empty, and then is set aside. She climbs onto the bed in front of Datura and rests with her legs folded together at her side, and one hand holding her up in a half-sitting/half-lying down position. Her right hand reaches out to stroke the side of the blonde's face. "No more sleep, hm?" She is aware of the dark circles, of course. But she thinks maybe Datura just needs to be 'tired out' a bit more before she attempts to sleep again. She is beginning to suggest this possibility when the question about the dead is asked.
Pausing in the middle of taking a breath to speak, she finally asks, "…Find how, exactly? If you mean can a corpse get up and hunt the living… Then yes. Yes, they can. Amuro-sama made it happen at Sunagakure, I am told. If you mean can a ghost be drawn to those he or she left behind upon death… Then yes. Yes, they can. I know this for a fact, because that is how my mask was made. I put my own spirit into that mask -- or at least a part of it -- and then used it to talk to those who had passed away. I meditated for three days and three nights, and then my mother came to me and told me she approved of me. She blessed my mask then."
She looks thoughtful, rather than emotional at the mention of her dead mother. She has always been good at concealing her emotions, but then again, she might just not miss her mother. Maybe she talks to her regularly? Who knows? Her eyes flick back down to Datura. "Is that what this is about? Is a ghost trying to talk to you?"
"Mm. So… it's easier for family then. For the deceased to find their living family."
The young blonde's pale blue eyes close for a moment, the touch against her cheek causing gooseflesh to appear and breakout across her skin, a light shiver running through her as if she'd been kissed by a cool breeze. When they open again, her vision searches first right, then left, as if looking for something to settle on other than the dark brown eyes right in front of her. Without looking at Kanami, settling her gaze instead on something in the courtyard outside of the window, she shakes her head lightly.
"N-No. No. I don't think so."
Datura's teeth catch her lower lip, sawing at it in a moment of indecisive action as her mind formulates how much to tell, both truth and lies, and which of each she should speak. Her eyes flick towards the Nogakujin, up and down, then away again, staring at the world outside her room. Her lips purse, as if tasting something sour, and her eyes narrow, a more typical expression of hers when something displeased her greatly, before she breaks the self-imposed silence again.
"I think… I think my sister might be punishing me. For the things I've done. She's always hated me, Kana. And I hate her. I hate her so much. She's dead and it's just not enough. It's not enough." The young woman's chin trembles delicately as she speaks, passion in her voice that was rarely heard these last weeks when she wasn't being the daimyo's bubble-headed toy. "I have to get rid of her. All of her. Forever. I have to kill every piece of that selfish bitch. I have to-"
As if reconnecting with the world around her, the blonde blinks, looking from the window to the brunette. A hand rubs tiredly at the back of her neck, as if trying to ease tension there, as she looks away with a scowl. "…What if I'm just going insane?"
Kanami listens and waits patiently. She notices the way those blue eyes refuse to focus on her, but she does not react. Better to let people think you are oblivious, than to make them aware of how much you notice. The vehemence in Datura's voice is a bit startling, but by the end of it, she just… Lightly slaps Datura's left cheek. It's more like a pat than anything. Nowhere near enough to hurt, even if Kanami had the physical strength to make it so. She withdraws her hand then and rests it on her leg.
Staring with a mixture of skepticism and annoyance, Kanami speaks finally. "You sound like you're trying to convince yourself, Dat-chan. You sound like you're trying to convince ME too. Think about what you're saying. If she hated you, and you hated her, why has it taken so long for her to start 'punishing' you? How is it being accomplished? Did you come into possession of something of hers recently? Do your memories of the past, when she was alive, match with what you are saying? It is possible this could all be a Jutsu of some kind. Someone or something may be trying to hurt you… If not… Then a bond of hate is a terrible thing. But it can be broken. If it is not broken, then both sides are doomed to hate forever. Do you know what that means?"
She shakes her head a bit. "It means that whenever you wind up dying too, she'll be waiting for you. And you'll wind up fighting forever, locked in the pain of hateing each other, with no rest or peace for either of you, eternally. Sadly, I only know of a couple ways to break that bond, and I am not an expert on spirits. But it seems, based on what I have learned, that if your dead sister is trying to punish you, you can always try to make ammends for whatever you have done. Appease her spirit, and she will leave you alone. The much more difficult alternative… Is to stop hateing her."
Every part of the blonde-haired diva freezes at the soft slap to her face, as if it had turned her to lifelike stone for a few precious seconds. Then her eyes snap angrily onto the features of the older woman, narrowing in the charactersiticly petulant expression that often preceeded tantrums with her. Seconds tick by slowly, as if holding their breath to see what the volatile young woman was going to react with. But she just continues to glower as the Nogakujin starts talking, as if her words were delaying the inevitable explosion of temper. It was the closest that Datura had come to acting like her usual self than she had in a long time.
"I don't know! If I knew exactly why or how it was happening, don't you think I'd have stopped it by now!?" Datura backs away, scooting further from the brunette until her bare back comes into contact with the cool, smooth wood of the headboard, the sheet still clung before her like a shield of modesty amidst the heating debate. "Maybe it's taken her this long to figure out how or to get strong enough. She's doing something to me, and there's only one reason for her to do so! You don't know what she was like! So smug, so self-centered, always doing things to spite me."
"No." She shakes her head vehemently. "She won't be there waiting for me in the afterlife. Not if I kill her. I can't forgive her for what she did and she's too much of a vindictive little whore to leave me alone. If her spirit exists, it can be destroyed. Anything that exists can be unmade. Somehow. Some way. I will erase every last trace of that arrogant bitch!"
Irately, Datura pointedly looks away from the older woman, slumping her shoulders as she lets out a pent-up breath. A hand comes up to roughly shove aside her long bangs from where they tried to intrude on her vision as she scowls at the teacup she had so recently been drinking from. "If it's… some kind of jutsu, I don't know what it is. I've never heard of anything like it. It's not Genjutsu, I've already confirmed that much. It's something else, Kana. Something malignant. …Something alive. Figuratively."
Not seeming put off by the display of temper, Kanami nonetheless sighs a bit at the reluctance to swallow one's pride and just do what is necessary to make the ghost go away. But then Datura speaks of it being a living thing -- figuratively, of course. A nasty suspicion forms in her mind, though she does not necessarily have any evidence to support it. "…When did this 'haunting' begin, exactly? When was the first time you noticed it? We may be able to rid you of this menace if we understand more about its origins. A spirit that has already moved on needs something to draw it back. For my mother, it was my spirit being partially removed from my body. I was between life and death, and thus I was 'visible' to her and vice versa."
"I… I'm not sure." Immediately, Datura's eyes drop down and to the right. "The first time I noticed anything was the day you found me. When I was cut. She was in the mirror, Kana. She-…"
Gritting her teeth together, the young blonde runs her fingers up through her hair, knotting them into fists as if she planned to pull the strands out by the handful. She just keeps them there, however, pressed against her head, just a little above and forward of her ears, a wet sheen welling up in her eyes, tears unfallen. She shakes her head again as she glances side-to-side, about the mirrorless room.
"I don't know! I don't! I don't know why it's happening, I don't know what I did that made it possible! She comes for me when I'm alone. It's always when I'm alone. Sometimes she's just there. Just sitting. Just smiling at me. Smiling!" Pulling her knees up, the tortured diva drops her head towards her lap, shielding her face from view as she squeezes her eyes shut. "She can come from anywhere! I just-just turn around and she's right there. Sometimes she just reads or-or speaks to me. Or she'll be all-all mangled and broken and crawling towards me like she's going to drag me down into Hell with her!"
When Datura finally picks her head back up, her eyes still fail to meet those of the older woman, a pair of wet tracks marking the trail of the few tears that escaped her lid's grasp. Her voice is a bare, miserable whisper. "I don't know what I did. It's been so long since-since she died. I don't know what changed. But…" With a large sniff, the rogue Yamanaka wipes away first one trail of tears, then the other with the back of one hand. "I'm trying to find someone who might. Someone who could help. Koibito," Finally, blue eyes rise to meet brown. "Don't tell anyone."
Kanami sits through the whole thing. The tears, the confusion, the misery… And then she finally closes her eyes and sighs. "I won't tell anyone. I promise. As long as you stop treating me as though I am an idiot." She opens her eyes again. "I understand there is something going on you do not want to tell me about. And I can leave the subject alone if I must. But you are LYING to me right now." Swift as a cobra, Kanami has moved from her half-sitting position to a lunge that attempts to pin Datura's wrists to the wall behind her with the Nogakujin's own hands--No. Not her hands. Two black serpents that have emerged from Kanami's hair and attempted to wrap around the younger woman's wrists and forearms. Kanami's hands have instead gone to Datura's face, holding each cheek as she stares into her eyes.
Unless Datura gets loose or evades this swift pounce, Kanami proceeds to lecture her fickle lover. "If you want me to help you, you have to be honest with me. You said the first time was when I found you. When the mirror was broken. You also said she always comes for you when you are alone. But you have forgotten that you have not BEEN alone since then! The ONE time I had to leave the room, Mune was still with you. Since then I have been either right next to you or in close proximity. When have you been alone? I am alsssso an expert at reading body language. Your aversion to looking me in the eye when you tell me what is going on with your sister's ghost is very telling." She attempts to lean in closer.
"I want to help you, Datura. Let me help you." The serpents vanish back into Kanami's hair… If they were ever really snakes to begin with.
"I'm not ly-!"
The expected protest is cut short by the swift movement of the older woman. Datura's wrists are ensnared by scaled flesh and pinned to the headboard behind her without a reaction. Whether it was because the attack was so sudden or just that the Yamanaka made no move to defend herself was debateable, but her flat blue eyes, heavily-lidded are as full of mistrust as they are misery, even as Kanami spells out the proof of her falsehoods. And, of course, there remains the petulant scowl, better suited for a scolded child than a kunoichi.
She doesn't move to shake the serpentine shackles from her wrists nor the hands from her face, merely lowering her arms once the reptiles disappear back from whence they had come. Her chin raises stubbornly and her next few words confirm that the window of opportunity for the truth from the volatile diva has closed. For now.
"What does it matter when exactly it started! Maybe there was one more time I couldn't remember. I've been scared, Kana! I told you: I. Don't. Know! I'm trying to find help and I'm trying to stop it! I-I-I just want to forget it! I just want it to go away!"
Datura's knees drop from their elevated position near her chest as she leans slightly forward to grab at the Nogakujin's upper arms and pull the older woman towards her. It's not a very forceful gesture, and easily escaped. The younger teen's blue eyes are large, wet, and pleading.
"Just stay with me. Don't leave. Just stay here. When Ra-kun gets back, we'll go. We'll go together." She nods her head, as if it was already decided. "Then I can kill Riku. Forever. And everything will go back to the way it was. You just have to stay."
Kanami sigh quietly, and closes her eyes again. "Alright. I'll stay with you." She doesn't add on the 'for now' that she is thinking. Showing concern for others beyond what is required of a role is too much effort. She would be better off just letting Datura do as she pleases and enjoying the parts of their relationship that suit her.
Yes, that would be best. Kanami leans into Datura's pull and embraces the rogue Yamanaka. She should just forget about this entire business. But she probably won't. She sighs yet again, and asks, "Have any plans for the rest of the night?"