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Bloodstained Illusions

by P L Nunn


Chapter Six


"From what little we know, Raymond Tanaka staged what amounts to a family coup. We are almost certain that the major competition for family power, his uncles are dead and very possibly the majority of the family that went to the island for the reading of the will. None of them came back to the mainland at any rate - - so the assumption is probably correct. So it is also likely that Yoji Kudou might be as well."

"But you're not sure." Omi interrupted Korat, just a tinge of desperation in his voice. Of hope. Which showed how far he'd slipped in these months away from 'work'. You didn't hinge your world on useless hopes. All that did was hinder you - - cripple you - - and a crippled assassin would very soon be a dead one. So concern about the state of Yoji's life or death had to be channeled aside, had to be toned down to a slow burn on a back burner of his consciousness, otherwise functioning at the level he needed to function would be impossible. It was a skill he'd become very, very adept at, having years of practice with Aya-chan.

"If he's dead, then what?" Aya ignored Omi's stricken look, focusing instead on Korat and the very tiny telltale flash of speculation in her eyes. She wanted them. She very likely needed them. It was possible that Kritiker was experiencing a shortage of capable agents. It was a dangerous business.

"Then we still need the information he went in to get." She said. She smiled humorlessly and added the bait to the hook. "But there's always a chance he's not. Raymond Tanaka believes he's his little brother after all."

She was a smart girl. As were all of Krittiker's handlers. She knew what they wanted. She was willing to take a risk on them, even though she had to know they had an agenda of their own. Yoji first and foremost and if Yoji were dead - - then the responsible parties would soon meet the same fate. If the information Krittiker wanted got picked up along the way - - wonderful.

Aya suppressed a little shudder. A little tremor of his hand. No. Don't think about it. Push away the sudden, cruel image of wide, lifeless green eyes. He had no room for worry and no room for panic - - and yet it tried to creep up on him nonetheless, testament that Omi wasn't the only one that had slipped too far into complacency.

"So how do we get in?" Ken asked, perched on the edge of their time-worn couch in the high ceilinged living room of their canal-side apartment. They'd taken the conference off the street and back to the privacy of home, even though Aya hated - - just hated - - letting Korat into the sanctuary of home. Even though safety was an illusion. She'd known where they were. If Krittiker had wanted them, they could have showed up on their doorstep at any time. Which also meant that less savory associations might also know.

"Before Tanaka Akahito died, it was almost impossible. He was good at what he did and very security conscious. His eldest son is a little less - - meticulous. Which is probably why the father wasn't prepared to leave the sole control of his empire to him. Raymond is rebuilding his power structure. He's outright killed or let go a good number of the men loyal to his father and he's been recruiting new muscle. Its also possible that he's killed his father's newest wife - - who served as Tanaka Akahito's assistant and secretarial aide. That's how they met. She came to work for the old man and he liked what he saw. He's been putting feelers out for a new one. Due to a bit of - - political leverage - - we've acquired with a colleague of the Tanaka empire we can fill that position with a personal reference that Raymond won't question. The same with the security position. Two guaranteed ways in - - if you think you're up to it."

"I'm all over the security job." Ken showed a feral sliver of teeth.

"I can do the other." Aya said.

"Very good." Korat smiled. Pleased with the coming to terms. Pleased with what one had to be sure, a situation that she thought she had well in hand. Or as well in hand as any emergency, reparative mission could be.

"I don't feel comfortable with this." Omi was leaning forward, elbows on knees, fingers steepled under his chin. "We have no idea what's going on on that island. You didn't when you sent Yoji in - - and you're going to send someone else in blind?"

"Weiss has a reputation of thinking on its feet - - and landing on them." She smiled at Omi and added. "And I'm sure, between the two of us, we can supply ample backup when they're ready to use it."

"Who says we're working with you?" Ken shot back. "We're doing this for Yoji."

"Who in turn expected a favor. If you pull this off, we'll owe you two."

"Like we need anything from - -"

"Ken." Aya held up a hand, cutting him short. "Omi will coordinate with you. Ken and I will go in with the background stories you provide us. We get your information and Yoji if he's still alive. Bickering about it is only wasting valuable time."

Korat smiled and this time there was something genuine about it. "I'm glad to hear it. I'll be back tonight with the information we'll need."

She left them there, sitting in what had once been a very comfortable, very hospitable living room. It felt awkward now, and tense.

"He's not dead." Ken said finally, sullenly into the silence Korat had left in her wake.

"You don't know that." Aya said softly.

He felt more than heard Ken move.

"How can you act like this, Aya?" Ken loomed over him, fists clenched, eyes flashing with indignity, flustered and worried and damned pissed that Aya wasn't exhibiting the same. Like it would help.

"I'm not acting any different than I would during any other mission."

"This isn't any other mission! This is us dragging Yoji's fat out of the fire. You're the one that's goddamned fucking him - - you'd think you'd show a little more concern."

The pressure that had been building behind his eyes reached a breaking point. Aya hissed and shot up, just short of shoving Ken backwards and out of his face.

"Ken. Leave him alone." Omi got an arm between them. He'd barked at Ken but it was Aya he was staring at in unflinching warning. "Aya is concerned. He's just being rational. He's being professional about it."

"Yeah? Well, fuck professional." Ken muttered, but he backed off, clenching and unclenching his fists, nerves on edge and not hiding it as well as Aya or Omi. Ken never had had that skill. He stalked off and Omi gave Aya a questioning look, as if to ask if he were okay or if he wanted to talk or if he needed anything at all. Aya looked past him, rebuffing the offer. Omi frowned just a little, just a tiny downward curve of his lips and a furrow between his brows, as if he couldn't understand him either, but had more tact than to state it outright, then he excused himself and padded after Ken, who might be open to a bit of his mothering.

It left Aya alone. Thankfully alone. And he stood there, for a very long while, trying to enforce and reinforce the apathy that pissed Ken off so very much, in his own head. It was Yoji's own fault, so there was no one to blame but Yoji. If they got him out - - they got him out. If not - - well, a body got used to loss. There was a point that death became tragic, but in the end - - commonplace and nothing to inspire the sort of grief it caused the first few times around. When the first funeral you attended was that of your parents, all the others lacked the same emotional impact.

It was Yoji's own fault.

Down the hall, past the sound of Omi and Ken's low voices behind the closed door of Ken's room. To his own room, where he shut the door and began going about the things he did, religiously, before a mission.

No one had asked Yoji to stick his nose in Aya's affairs. Aya certainly hadn't wanted it. He was offended that Yoji thought he was that needy. That he thought Aya needed him looking out for him. His protection. He stood there for a second, wavering under the realization that nobody since that dreadful first funeral had had interest enough to want to look out for him or protect him. At least not personally. Not as anything more than an asset to cultivate.

That was overwhelming in its own pitiful way. That realization of aloneness - - then not being alone - - then thrust back into it. And Yoji had done it to him when he'd been just fine, alone and protected within the confines of his own self-constructed shell.

"You son of a bitch." He hissed softly, furiously, hands shaking of a sudden and the ability to stop them beyond his control.

The leg was starting to complain. Understandable, it being barely over two weeks since a bullet had gone through it, but it hadn't really bothered Yoji today until he'd started his little venture down the road towards the beach. It had stopped raining today. He'd been told by one of the kitchen staff that it had been storming, to one degree or another for the last two weeks. He didn't recall all of that time himself. He'd been asleep a good deal of it.

Sleeping in had became more than a luxury, but an escape. There wasn't much else to do, but lie abed and let the hours pass in the embrace of insensibility. Besides, there hadn't been much choice. Between the bullet wound in his leg and the resultant infection that Raymond's chophouse doctor hadn't been quick enough to take account of, and the drugs that big brother was just a little too free with, Yoji had spent a good deal of two weeks in a very restless oblivion. He had quite a few very disturbing memories from that time. Quite a few lurid recollections of a dark figure at the edge of his bed, and disembodied hands on his body. It could have been nightmare, it might have been reality. He bitterly hoped for the latter. He rather doubted it though. The looks brother Raymond gave him were all too possessive and filled with too much wary speculation for anything but unease. It was the look of a blossoming serial killer who hadn't worked the nerve up yet for that first kill. Who's sick mind was taking the process one slow stride at a time, getting bolder and bolder with each step down the path to darkness.

It was scary as hell being the focus of that and not being able to do anything about it. It got worse when Raymond let him out into the house. Oh, there were warnings aplenty and very obvious guards for his person. Raymond flat out told him he had to earn back the trust they'd once shared. Yoji had kept his mouth shut on the comment that vile suggestion prompted. He was still sore from the last time he'd mouthed off. It was better to keep his silence and agree to everything and then go and do what he damn well pleased. At least in theory. He generally wasn't so good at carrying it out. Keeping his mouth shut had never been a strong point with him. Just ask Aya.

So, as long as he sat down and was mannerly at lunch and supper and didn't glare too blatantly at Raymond when they shared a table, the door to his room got unlocked, and they didn't force feed him sedatives. He wondered dismally, when Raymond tried to bring up the past, just how long he could get by on the excuse of it being too long ago to remember, or the more probable one of 'I must have blocked it out', which annoyed big brother to no ends. This charade had it limits and at some point, somebody was going to come up to him - - probably Raymond - - and put a bullet in his head when the lie was discovered.

But for the time being, he was allowed a small bit of freedom and it gave him the opportunity to try that road as soon as the rain stopped up and his watchdogs had let up just a little in their surveillance of him. Stealing the truck or any of the other vehicles was out of the question. They'd put everything with wheels in the large garage attached to the house and there was always someone there with a gun and an attitude that Yoji wasn't feeling up to trying.

So he figured, a mile down the road to the dock and maybe he'd have better luck. He was half way there when they caught him. He might have avoided it if there'd have been the sound of a car to alert him. He wasn't used to listening out for men on horseback. Two of them, with shades and straw hats and shoulder holsters on over more casual wear than the house security usually wore.

"Hey. Nice day for a walk." No reason to act guilty. "Didn't know you had horses here. There's a stable?"

They weren't up for small talk. One of them got on a walkie talkie and tattled. Yoji grimaced and cursed under his breath, wondering how in hell he was gonna talk his way out of this. Wondering briefly if he couldn't pull one of those bastards off his horse, manage to grab a gun and shoot the other and make good his escape. On horseback to boot. Yoji had never ridden a horse. He'd never touched one. They looked surly. He doubted he could climb up onto one of the things with his leg protesting the way it was. Which brought to mind the lamentable fact that the very same leg would probably prevent him from gaining the leverage to succeed in any sort of attack. Which meant standing there like a runaway kid while the guards reported the fact to big brother.

Soon enough came the sound of a jeep rattling down the road. Raymond was riding shotgun. He had his shades on, and a loose khaki shirt. He could have passed for one of his hired guns. He had that cold, dangerous look about him.. the one he'd worn before he'd had the extended family butchered. Fuck.

But, he smiled when the jeep pulled up and beckoned. "Out for a walk, Sonny? You ought not with that leg. You'll tear the wound open."

Yoji never knew what to say to him that wouldn't provoke some reaction that he didn't want. He wasn't feeling particularly mouthy at the moment, so he ran a hand through his hair, and shrugged.

"Get in."

Yoji didn't think it was a suggestion, so he climbed into the back seat and performed the mental practices necessary to get his nerves back under control on the way back to the house. Raymond didn't say a word the whole way. He noticed Yoji's worsening limp on the way up the front porch steps and commented just inside the stoop.

"I gave you a cane. Why don't you use it?"

"Dunno. Just stupid, I guess." Yoji muttered that last, rather feeling that way. Stupid and unfortunate and just damned jinxed if his life of late were any indication. Raymond paused and plucked a fine lacquered walking stick out of the receptacle inside the door that held an array of canes and umbrellas. He tossed at Yoji and Yoji reflexively snatched it out of the air.

"Use it. Go upstairs and wait in my office. I'll be up to talk with you shortly."

"Its been a long morning, maybe I'll just - - -"

Raymond turned on him, mouth gone tight and eyes flashing suddenly with controlled anger. "You will do what I say or I'll use that cane to break both your legs, then we won't have to worry about your use of it or lack thereof. Understand, Sonny?"

With two silent, impassive guards standing in the foyer behind him, artillery clearly visible, the idea of using the cane to smash in Raymond's face was only a fleeting one. Yoji smiled, jaw twitching from the effort and inclined his head.

"Sure. To your office it is."

"I thought I could trust you. I thought family meant something to you, Sonny. But your mother's taint is just too strong to wash away that easily."

Raymond sat behind what had been his fathers desk, his father's books behind him, the keys to his father's empire locked within the hard drive of the computer terminal in front of him. Yoji sat in the window seat, back against the broad cill, injured leg sprawled out before him. There was a guard right outside that door. God knew whether Raymond had a gun in the desk. He didn't have one on his person at least. If he'd had his wire, Yoji mused, he could have killed him quickly and silently. But there still would have been the guards to deal with . . .

"She did what she had to do." Yoji said carefully, trying not to make assumptions of what Sonny's mother had or hadn't done in her flight from Tanaka or from Tanaka's oldest son.

"When she took you away, Sonny, she dealt a blow to this family that could not be forgiven. If she weren't dead, I'd have hunted her down for that crime myself."

"Why didn't you, then?"

Raymond smiled. Yoji hated it when he smiled. "My father prevented such efforts. My father was a selfish old bastard."

"Yeah, well, to be honest, I wish I'd never come here. Damned trust isn't worth this much grief." Oh, and wasn't that the God's honest truth.

"You'd have come. One way or another."

"Why? If you wanted family so bad, you should have left a relative or two alive to keep your company. I was happy where I was. Somebody could have dropped me a note saying Daddy had died and left me whatever and I'd have been just fine."

"Don't - -" Raymond pushed back from the desk and rose, "call him that."

"What?" Yoji didn't get it. Not until Raymond to stalk towards him with that damned crazy look in his eyes. "Don't call him 'daddy'. Don't call him 'father'. He doesn't deserve it. If he marries a whore, then he gets what he deserves of her."

My father prevented such efforts. My father was a selfish old bastard. Son of a bitch. Or worse yet, son of the son and the old man's brand new wife. Sicker and sicker.

"You're not seriously saying what I think you're saying?" Yoji edged back as Raymond leaned closer, he latched onto Yoji's face, staring point blank into Yoji's dark contacts, searching his face for what - - familial warmth?

"You were mine! I loved you so much and that bitch took you away and my father let her. He covered her tracks so I couldn't find you. Fifteen years lost. Fifteen years of her ruining you. Do you even remember how close we were?"

"Close? Close? Let me get this straight." Yoji took Raymond's wrists and pried his hands off his face. "You slept with your father's wife. She had your child and the two of you covered it up - - maybe. Then when she found out how close you were getting with - - me, she took off to parts unknown and her cuckolded husband supported her, probably knowing what a freak you were. And here I thought my big brother was just an incestuous pedifile - - but it's so much worse."

It wasn't the smartest thing to say. But he'd already proved today that stupid was becoming an integral part of his personality. He was reaching the limits of his endurance here and he shouldn't have been. He should have been able to keep up the damned cover regardless. He'd done it in worse situations. Was he that badly out of practice or was it just this damned bizarre predicament?

Raymond snarled and hit him. Yoji had enough warning and fast enough reflexes to avoid the brunt of it. It was not backhanded slap though. It was a clenched fist blow that probably would have broken his nose if it had connected. He didn't have a lot of options for escape though, boxed in as he was in the window seat. He shoved Raymond hard enough to make the larger man stagger a step backwards, and slipped through the space that movement created. His head was spinning a little though and his leg wasn't cooperating. He turned as well as he was able and blocked another blow, then buried his other fist in Raymond's gut, his mind very much on getting out of this room and not much else.

Something that wasn't a fist slammed into the small of his back, then again across his shoulders. Yoji staggered a step, bringing up an arm and the cane crashed into that with bone jarring impact. His hand went numb, his arm almost up to his shoulder did. It caught him across the ribs and stole his breath, spinning him around and against the desk even as the guard rushed in with drawn gun and Raymond screamed for the man to get the hell out. Apparently he wanted to beat his long lost son to a pulp without the benefit of an audience.

Yoji slid down against the side of the desk, toppling pens and paper with him, trying to keep his thoughts together enough to shield his head. Raymond didn't want him dead. Keep that in mind, he told himself. Just survive this fit and you'll make it out of here.

His mouth was filling with blood. He wasn't sure whether he'd bitten the inside of his lip or if he'd received a blow to the mouth. His ears were ringing, the left one horrendiously so after a glancing blow of the cane. The blows let up. He could barely perceive the sound of his own labored breath and maybe Raymond's. The cane hit the floor and big hands reached down and jerked him up by the collar, slamming him backwards against the desk. hurt.

He saw a flash of mad eyes. No eyes filled with need. Raymond's mouth crushed down over his with bruising force, smashing lips against teeth with the brutality of it. Yoji hissed and jerked his head away, smashing Raymond in the nose in the process. Raymond did him one better and grabbed a handful of hair and slammed Yoji's head back against the desk with a resounding thud. His vision went dark and wavery then and his resistance dwindled down to nothing. His lips went slack enough for Raymond to slid his tongue inside his mouth and lap at the blood. A one-sided, invasive kiss that had nothing to do with passion and everything to do with possession.

Raymond's hand skimmed his body, pushing his shirt up and passing over his ribs, fingers pressing against his nipples, wisping across his arm pits, running the length of his thighs - - but avoiding, strangely enough that most sensitive area between his legs. There Raymond shied away from, as if he hadn't yet worked up the nerve to take that step into more serious play.

"Don't you understand, Sonny." Raymond whispered, while Yoji lay there with his eyes closed and blindly endured. "How much I love you?"

Yoji shuddered and Raymond hesitated, pushing himself up to look down.

"Do you understand?" Raymond pulled him up by the collar, demanding an answer of him. Needing one to support his psychosis.

Yoji stared back silently, shaken and sickened, not capable at the moment of playing his part. He hurt and he wanted to vomit.

"Go back to your room." Raymond stepped back, straightening his shirt, pulling the mask of ruthless business man back on over the one of demented father figure. "You and I will take up this conversation later. And, Sonny, even if you had made it down to the docks, you wouldn't have gotten a boat. I've upgraded security. If you try it again, you'll force me to take more drastic measures. Neither of us want that, do we?"

Yoji pushed himself off the desk, wiping a trickle of blood off his chin with the back of one shaky hand. He didn't answer. Just limped for the door and temporary escape.

"Don't forget your cane."



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