“Whatever,” the latter sighed, lifting a hand to fluff up his unruly hair, “when he comes back,” he added as he shrugged and leaned back, “do me a favor,” he tilted his head, cracking his neck as he fell into the bed he'd more or less destroyed, “and tell him not to bring me out so carelessly like this. I can protect Tomohisa from his past, his enemies, his life, his father even-,” eyes glittering wild and free lifted from beneath a cocoa fringe to clash with hazel, “but I can’t protect him from Jin.”
Kazuya blinked, brow rising.
“I created ‘Tomohisa’ specifically so that I wouldn’t have to deal with Jin – that is his purpose as my second persona. Remind him of that, Kazuya.” He dropped the younger’s gaze then, letting his chin settle back against his chest, as he sat back up and slumped forward to press his forehead into the younger's stomach, “everything else but Jin, I will protect him from. Just not Jin himself. That’s too much,” he paused there, breathed deep for a moment before murmuring into the younger's shirt, “even for me.” And with that he went silent.
Exactly a minute later, he lifted his head away from Kazuya once more, and when he began looking around – appearing to be vaguely confused with everything Kazuya sighed in relief, settling with a bit more ease when he noted that Yamashita Tomohisa was, once again, the person before him. “You’re back,” he murmured, tilting his head with a weary smile as Yamapi’s eyes popped incredulously.
“Aoki came out-?!” He wheezed, seemingly having made sense of what had just happened as he took in the concentrated chaos littered around them.
“You forced him out,” Kazuya shrugged, “so he said,” he sighed again as he shook his head and shut his eyes, “he sends his regards by the way: your only purpose is to deal with Jin so that he doesn’t have to-.”
“Jin,” Yamapi interrupted, sitting up immediately when he remembered what had triggered his sudden switch of personalities, “he was asking about that, about why I fucked up,” he curled into himself, eyes wide as he slid his hands obsessively into his locks and just pulled, “about why I was so messed up a-and about- a-about m-my f-fa-.”
“Stop,” the younger murmured, quickly crouching and reaching forward to tug at his hands which were close to ripping out his hair. “Don’t worry about him,” he added as Yamapi just continued shaking his head frantically, hands dislodging so that he could shove his face into them, “you asked me to deal with him, I’ll deal with him – end of story-.”
“I don’t want him to hate me,” Yamapi whispered, voice watery and breaking as tears he seemed to be unaware of, dripped through his fingers as they trekked down his cheeks. “I don’t want him to hate me – Kazuya, I don’t want him to hate me-,” over and over again-, “please don’t let him hate, please don’t let him-.”
“Yamapi, he knows what’s been done to me and he still cares about me – why would he stop caring about you-?”
“It was my father,” the elder breathed horrifically, staring at a nightmare through his fingers with wide, dead eyes, “Kazuya – it was my father. My own father-.”
“Don’t think about it,” the younger whispered back, tightening his hold on Yamapi’s wrist – like in doing so, everything would somehow get better when in reality, it was only getting worse and worse. “Don’t remember, Aoki will come out again – don’t try to remember. Yamapi,” he shuffled closer, shutting his eyes and he slipped a hand up into his hair, pushing the elder’s face into the hollow of his neck as he cradled him against his chest and murmured, “breathe. Just breathe.”
But Yamapi didn’t. Of course, he didn’t. He more or less deaf to anything but his own racing heartbeat, he hyperventilated ‘till his eyes rolled back into his head and he finally fainted, falling slack into Kazuya’s chest minutes later when reality seemed to overwhelm him. “Oh, come on,” the younger rolled his eyes as he glanced down to find the latter peacefully out of it. “Yamapi,” he shook him, “Yamapi – Pi… tsk,” he sighed, pulling away from the elder and pushing him back so that he could prop him up against the wall, near the corner, all the while muttering irritably: “you worry too much about these little things, melodramatic idiot-.”
Kazuya flinched. He snapped from sleep like he’d been awake all along.
“Miss,” he heard Jin’s voice next as he quickly made sense of his surroundings – remembered that this wasn’t his house, this wasn’t his room; that Yamapi had lost consciousness on the bed his alter ego had ripped up, and that he’d fallen asleep beside him at some point earlier that night. “Please," Jin's voice was low and desperately placating, "we’ll clean it up – I promise, we’ll pay all the reparation charges-.”
He was at the bedroom entrance when Kazuya looked. His back to them, he seemed to be talking to the owner of the house, keeping her out of the room, away from Kazuya and Yamapi. She’d come home to check on three men she’d rescued earlier that day, Kazuya gathered as he shuffled out and off the bed, while Yamapi began waking up as well. He could only imagine her surprise, considering that she’d given them their privacy in her own home while they’d done nothing but threaten her and tear apart her furniture.
“NO!” He heard her screaming as he walked up beside Jin, and found their furious hostess in tears and pointing into the hall of her house. “Get out!” She yelled at Jin, eyes flickering momentarily to Kazuya as he came up, “I helped you! Treated your wounds! Gave you a place a stay – and privacy! And-,” Jin glanced helplessly at his bandleader as Kazuya leaned against the doorframe beside him, “-this is how you repay my kindness?!”
“Calm down, Miss,” the younger sighed when he was up to speed and yawning as he raked a hand through his hair, "just take a breath-."
“No! Get out!” The lady yelled at him, “this instant! Leave! I’ve given you enough and I've had enough of you!”
“Are your children here yet?” The idol retorted calmly, while Jin glanced incredulously at him, stunned at some level at his brazenness, though at this point in their lives, he knew he really shouldn't be. Raw as a burn, Kazuya could be at time. “You said they’d be coming by with a car this afternoon, no?”
The lady sniffed, cheeks full of fury and life as she rubbed down her tears and turned to her house door. “They’ll be here in an hour,” she snapped stiffly. “Please wait for them outside,” she pointed to the door this time as she turned black, angry eyes onto Kazuya, “I don’t want any more trouble with you three, you’ve done enough-.”
“We’ll clean up-,” Jin started.
“LEAVE.” She spat at him, “now. Please.”
“I-,” Jin flinched, about to apologize.
“We’ll wait outside then,” Yamapi interrupted from behind the two, “thanks for your hospitality,” he yawned, wide and lazy, as he strode shamelessly past the idols and their hostess and out into the hallway.
“We’ll be leaving then,” Kazuya finished, tugging Jin’s shirt as he followed in Yamapi’s step, offering a quick bow to the woman as he too headed out.
She just sniffled, turning away from the two idols, and ignoring the third when he apologized quietly, bowed low to make up for his wholly rude idiots before hurrying out after them.
“What is wrong with you two?” He hissed when he found them lounging around just past the picket fence of the cabin, “she hasn’t done anything to us – at least give her the benefit of the doubt-!”
Jin blinked. He’d been selectively staring at Kazuya as to avoid looking at his best friend up until then, so he reluctantly turned. “What?” He mumbled, quieter than he would’ve liked to have been.
“She’s lying,” Yamapi repeated, staring out into the expanse of the forest in front of them for a moment, before turning and sizing Jin up and down, “I can tell.”
"I just can. It feels like she's like lying-."
"But she hasn't-?"
"She's a liar."
Kazuya cast the two a side glance as they bickered, noting Yamapi’s bright eyes for only a second he turned back to the forest.
When their awkward moment had run its toll on the two exhausted idols and ended with Jin throwing his hands in the air, and stalking off moodily, he asked in a low voice as the younger of the two retreated to his side instead of chasing after his best friend like he normally would have: “Why’re you here? Hn?" Kazuya turned over his shoulder to eye the elder as he lowered his voice and added, “Aoki?”
“Who knows?” The man sighed as he turned around, leaning against the fence beside the latter, staring back into the cabin he'd turned to face. “Yamapi’s too scared to face Jin for a while, he switched with me the minute we woke up,” he murmured quietly into the wind as it picked up around them and set the leaves rustling so loud, the sound could have rivaled a summer storm’s thunder.
Aoki chuckled as Kazuya glanced up into a sky that was beginning to cloud out the sun. “Well that’s a premonition if any.”
“Did you see?” He continued, turning to the younger who kept staring at the sky, like he’d see heaven if he peered hard enough. “Three of the largest knives were missing from the knife block in her kitchen.”
Kazuya didn’t answer.
“The fire picks in the fire place were also missing – they were there yesterday,” the man added, “I checked last night.”
“Hm…,” the younger hummed quietly as the wind began to howl and the trees began to thrash and the gathering clouds above them began to groan. The sun which had been shining down prettily into their refuge's front garden dimmed as electricity zipped through the air around them - so thick, one could almost taste the danger in the air if they tried hard enough.
“She...," he mumbled as he observed it all, "... smelt like gunpowder…,” he said softly after a minute; a little bit thoughtlessly. Eyes now wandering the canopy of the forest before them aimlessly. "That lady... smelt like gunpowder-."
“Burnt… gunpowder…,” Aoki muttered, staring into the cabin.
“Like she’d just shot someone.” Kazuya whispered without thinking.
"Like she'd just shot someone," Aoki echoed with a strange smile as he slipped his hands into his pockets and stared ahead.
“Hello~,” he laughed low and amused a moment later when Kazuya turned slowly over his shoulder and they both took a moment watch their hostess through her kitchen windows.
“Oh Hunter, Ms. Hunter.”
Tatsuya damn near fainted when he read the cryptic text off his phone at some odd hour of the day, three days into the disappearance of Kazuya, Jin, and Yamapi.
In the Southwest region of the forest, I’ll go pick him up. The next text read, we got Yamapi’s satellite signal back online, Kazuya’s signal is weaker than his.
At some hunter’s cabin in the woods – the following text pinged when Tatsuya asked for the specifics – it’s farther away from the cove they shipwrecked in.
Tatsuya tensed. They were heading the wrong way?
It’s not like Kazuya and Yamapi to mess up with something like that, Tatsuya frowned as he texted furiously, they should’ve been coming back towards the estate if their phones weren’t working.
He waited then. For two silent minutes until the message: then we have a problem, came in.
About a half hour into hanging outside the cottage gates doing nothing but stall and wait, Jin flinched when the minimal sunshine that was already shining through the thick clouds was blocked out. Opening an eye, he scowled when he found Kazuya and Yamapi standing in front of him.
“What?” He sighed, unsure of how much more of this he could take, “what it is it now?" He shut his eyes, as he lifted his face to the darkening skies. "What do you want?”
Kazuya swayed in his spot, eyes wandering God knew where as he all but avoided Jin. “We have to tell you something.”
Jin glanced down and between the two of them warily. “You two have been telling me a lot of thing recently.” He grimaced, “You couldn’t have told me,” he gestured to the way were standing now in front of him, “ … whatever this is, earlier?”
The younger cocked a skeptic brow, eyes drifting up to the cabin behind the fence they were gathered in front of, “because those walls had ears.”
Jin glanced up at him before casting a glance over his own shoulder as well. His eyes immediately fell to the woman framed into the kitchen window. “Her…?”
“Bitch,” Aoki muttered, surprisingly distasteful.
“The hunter who was following us…?” Jin glanced back at the two of them.
“Probably,” Kazuya shrugged.
Jin quieted. That the two of them hadn’t done anything about the fact meant that something was holding them back from doing it. “You aren’t worried about her having heard that entire spiel about the Keys and Seals?”
“Not if she’s a hunter.”
“Oh…,” the latter glanced down, “like an actual hunter…? Of this Hunt stuff and everything…?”
Kazuya nodded wordlessly.
Jin watched; waited a moment before he added, “why did you tell me?” His bandmate glanced up as he continued, “about this entire thing - what’s all this have to do with what’s happening right now though? What’s this got to do with me?”
“The 2nd Hunt just started.”
“Wha – now?” Jin blanched.
“Technically no,” the younger returned, before turning back down, “you remember how when we got real crazy sick a few days before we came here?”
“Yes…?” Jin frowned uncertainly.
“The 2nd Hunt opened then,” Kazuya nodded, “the 1st Seal of the 128th Lock is one of our senators, Kitahara-.”
“Gorou,” Jin’s eyes widened in surprise.
Kazuya nodded, “he was just killed or interrogated of his code yesterday,” Jin flinched, “so in reality it started exactly yesterday.”
“And this,” the elder grimaced, the worst sort of feeling coursing through his gut, “concerns me why?”
Kazuya quieted. But Jin didn’t miss the way his eyes flickered reluctantly to the cabin behind them once more. The air between them seemed to settle into an abnormal chill as he glanced back, gaze purposely avoidant as he just shrugged like he would seriously get away with not answering this terribly crucial question.
Jin’s brow bent into a worried wrinkle. “Kazuya, why.” He leaned towards the two in front of him, “you wouldn’t have told me something that important if it had nothing to do with me –,” Kazuya was starting to look uncomfortable, “why did you tell me about the Keys and Seals-hey,” he grabbed the younger’s shirt, “what haven’t you told me?”
“The truth,” he added when Kazuya opened his mouth a moment later. And something seemed to close up in the younger’s throat.
Eyes falling even lower, he waited an entire minute before clearing his throat and mumbling, “you’re a Seal.” He dropped that bomb on Jin like in leading up to that particular phrase with everything he’d already been primed with, he’d somehow prepared him for this.
“I’m a what.” Evidently he hadn’t.
“You’re…,” Kazuya’s chest rose hesitantly like he was having trouble breathing. He swallowed, shaking his head abruptly before glancing up, “you’re a Seal,” he repeated clearly, “you’re the 22nd and last Seal of the 128th Lock,” he lifted his chin higher as he continued, “this current Hunt is for the release of the 128th War Key trigger, and as soon as the hunters have gotten through Seals two through twenty-one, they’ll come for you.”
Jin’s brows rose. “But I don’t know any code,” he stated quietly. He paused, waiting for the fact of the matter to actually settle, “you said that Seals carry parts of a trigger’s code –,” his voice began to rise in panic, “I don’t know any part of any code.”
“We…,” the younger avoided him, glancing sheepishly at anything that wasn’t living, “know that…”
Then?! Jin wanted to snap, but knew better than to try. They’d explained this to him – an alternative to obtaining code pieces from Seals via interrogation was to simply kill them. Killing a Seal out of order carried consequences, but he doubted Hunters would be so careless as to try. Either way, a hunter could kill him if he didn’t give up his code. And so his grip on Kazuya’s shirt loosened.
His eyes flickered away – back to the lady in the cabin instead, instead.
“You said she’s a hunter?” He asked quietly.
“We think she is.”
“Why aren’t you sure?”
“She hasn’t hurt us yet – hasn’t done anything to try an obtain your code-.”
“Which I don’t have.”
Kazuya didn’t answer. Jin hadn’t expected him to.
“You and Yamapi haven’t done anything to her yet.” He observed after a moment’s worth of still.
“Did you expect us to?” – there was some degree of hurt in that.
“Yes.” Jin replied carelessly nonetheless.
Kazuya sighed, cracking his knuckles while Aoki replied for him, “she might be a civilian,” he muttered.
“So,” Jin cocked a brow at him, “killing her,” Kazuya groaned out loud, dropping his head back exasperatedly, “is wrong. But destroying an entire country full of civilians is-.”
“It’s out of our hands,” the younger wrinkled his nose “stop blaming us for what we can’t control.” Jin immediately flipped out a hand because he was so clearly avoiding the question by answering far too generically. “That’s it?” He made a face, “she’s a civ-.”
“This is something we can control,” Aoki interrupted, seeming to have blurted that out without thinking, “she isn’t spilled milk yet – we can afford to save her life. The lives of the countries in this Hunt…,” he swallowed as he trailed off.
“It’s out of our hands,” Kazuya glanced momentarily at him, before turning back to Jin, “have some faith in us,” he asked in that way of his that made Jin’s heart fold in on itself, much like the way his stomach did, “we’re not complete monsters,” Kazuya finished quietly.
The latter just stared at him skeptically, heart weak but resolve strong. He turned down, scuffing the ground with his feet as he curled his fists loosely in his pockets. “Could've fooled me,” he muttered just loud enough for Kazuya to audibly grit his teeth.
“Don’t do this right now, we don’t have time to fight,” he muttered quickly under his breath, eyes flickering for nth time over Jin’s shoulder and the elder glanced back as well, following his gaze.
Their hostess had left from where she’d been standing behind her sink.
“I take it she has no children coming to pick us up after all?” Jin murmured just as quietly as they all watched the door of the cabin ease open to reveal the woman standing at her entrance now instead.
“You think?” Aoki asked back skeptically as she came out onto her doorstep.
“What’re you going to do to her?” Jin continued, without looking away from her.
“Don’t just assume-,” Kazuya started.
“What’re you going to do to her?”
“Nothing unless she does anything first,” Aoki answered this time as the woman started walking out onto the footpath that stretched out before her.
She was walking towards them now. And step by step Jin could feel the two in front of him tense more and more without having to look. “Like…?” He asked, eyes glued cautiously to her form.
“Like that…,” Kazuya replied under his breath as they all watched her reach down towards her skirt.
Aoki noticed the gesture immediately as well. Hackles rising and eyes narrowing, he casually slipped a hand into his left pocket.
“Miss,” Kazuya stepped up to greet her just as she came up a few feet behind them, fingers flexing while Jin hung back, making note of every little change in the atmosphere. “It’s getting late, where might those children of yours be?”
“On their way boy, have some patience.”
Her eyes glinted strangely as she spoke those words into the eerily chilling air of that summer afternoon. The silence that then settled over the four of them became slowly but surely deafening – an abnormal sort of still that didn’t match the ever-moving life of the jungle they were in.
As subtle as she’d been, the hand she’d tucked behind herself at some point had not gone unmissed. And so Kazuya stepped aside. “Tomo,” he murmured as he did while the click of a cocked gun rang loud through the air.
Jin drew his breath and his blood rang cold at the familiar sound. Feet rooted to the ground, he watched in an oddly still silence as his best friend lunged at that supposedly innocent woman as she put a black gun into his face – all in the space of what had to be half a second.
“Animal-!” She growled as she nearly fell to the ground, but managed to save face and keep her stance, her gun barrel pressed tight to Aoki’s forehead as the grinned at her like the animal she’d named him.
“Hunter,” he returned in kind, pressing the switchblade he’d pulled out of his pocket at some point, to her neck as he eyed her haughtily. “You put up quite an act in there, Miss,” he said through a smile that was spectacularly horrific, “two days’ worth of it too. May I ask which talent agency you work for-?”
She shoved the gun in his mouth just as he finished. “Pi-!” Jin yelped, lunging forward, only to have one of Kazuya’s hands catching him sharply in the chest to hold him back.
Scorn was running wild in the woman’s eyes as she pushed it deeper into the idol’s mouth hissing, “shut up,” while glancing up.
Jin flinched when her eyes landed on him and Kazuya and narrowed. “You can’t leave,” she stated matter-of-factly.
“I figured. What with-,” Kazuya waved around vaguely at the frozen situation in front of them, “… that.”
“Who do you work for?” He continued with a sigh, stunningly calm given that Yamapi was on his knees and had mouthful of lethal metal. “You don’t look like mafia,” he added as he stepped forward and tilted his head, “that gun too – it’s military-grade. I’m guessing-.”
“American,” Kazuya cocked his brow, shuffling closer to his bandmate as he leaned over the picket fence. “And your mission is?” He continued, “to kill him?” He jerked his chin up at Aoki who’d gone cross-eyed staring at the piece past his lips, “ambitious, I’ll give you that-.”
“Yuki Johnson.” She snapped back stoically, ripping her gun out of Aoki’s mouth and aiming it specifically at Jin, “I am under direct orders to delay the unlocking of the War Key by any means necessary,” she cocked her gun, eyes narrowed at Jin, “even if that means eliminating a higher-digit Seal and destroying the sequential order of the Second Hunt.”
“He’s a civilian,” Kazuya countered from beside his bandmate, “an idol. A father. An innocent. If you kill him before his time in this Hunt - you will have to kill the remaining the 18 Seals of the 128th Lock to ensure complete disarmament of the Lock-.”
“I will do as is necessary, sir,” the woman retaliated, “now kindly leave him behind and I’ll get you a ride out of here, like you want.”
Kazuya huffed, smiling amusedly as he grinned at the woman and tilted his head. “You know I can’t do that, Ms. Johnson.”
“If you try to leave here with that Seal, I’ll kill him.”
“No, you won’t,” Kazuya returned easily.
“One life for the lives of thousands. I’ll kill him if you insist on leaving with that Seal.”
“If killing an innocent is the cost of peace in this world, I’d much rather live in a time of war,” Kazuya replied calmly, “now step back before I decide you’re an enemy, woman.”
“Your perception of me does not matter-.”
“I have allies nearby,” Kazuya interrupted, “you will be gunned down within the minute if I perceive you a threat-.”
“You’re lying,” she called him out, “the cell and satellite signals are scrambled in this area, no one knows you’re he…,” she trailed off when Kazuya dug into one of pockets to pull out a phone.
The idol grinned. “Did you think he-,” he nodded at Yamapi who was now backing away on his knees now that the gun’s focus wasn’t on him, “only had that one phone?”
Yuki stilled. Visible frustration seemed to take her over as red fury flushed into her cheeks.
“Superstars,” Kazuya preened, running his finger down his cheek as he turned on the device, “usually have multiple phones,” he reached into his pocket to pull out the phone of Yamapi’s that had died early yesterday morning, “one for work,” he tapped it as he pulled it out, “about ten for play,” he jiggled the functioning phone.
“It’s a timed system, isn’t it?” Kazuya continued as he shoved Yamapi’s dead phone back into pants, while he scrolled around on the other one. “This signal scrambler-,” he twirled a free finger around in the air above his head, “of yours? Let me guess-,” he smiled wide as he opened his mouth and tapped on part of his cheek just outside the tooth in which his tracker was in, “36 hours exactly?”
“Newbie agent?” He cocked his brow, interrupting her as she stepped back, “this your first time in the field? This is sloppy work you know? You should’ve hired a better tech guy-.”
“Look,” Kazuya held out the phone in his hand, “we have service, Ms. Johnson – our trackers,” he poked his tongue into his cheek, and he pointed back and forth between himself and Yamapi, “they’re working again – listen,” he cupped his ear, “hear that?”
“H… Hear what?” She prompted back cautiously, sliding back another step as Yamapi slowly rose to his feet, flipping his switchblade around and over his knuckles.
“Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh~,” Kazuya hummed, spinning his finger around in a circle over his head, pointing overhead, “goes the helicopter in the sky~.”
“My master’s coming, Miss,” Kazuya grinned wide and shiny.
A tremor immediately raced through her for only a moment before she steadied her aim at Jin, who Kazuya stepped in front of, "step. Back. Woman.”
“Call them off,” she snapped back at him, “CALL THEM OFF,” she demanded, “so help me God, I will bury a bullet in him now-.”
“Shut her up,” Kazuya spat. As if the knife-happy persona living in Yamapi’s body even needed a reason to lift his blade up anyway.
“Drop dead,” she snarled warningly at him, whipping out her own knife and clashing it up against Aoki’s own before he could plunge it into her.
“Ah,” the idol mumbled, bearing down heavily with his own knife against her own as he laughed, “forgot about that-.”
“Call them off-!” She demanded, turning back to Kazuya, “I’ll shoot-.”
“I wouldn’t turn away if I were you,” the younger pulled off mock concern as Aoki managed swung his leg out and kicked Yuki’s feet out from under her and she fell forward and into his waiting knif – “… wait…,” Jin gasped when he realized what was going to happen in exactly one second, “wait… wait – WAIT! YAMAPI, DON’T!” He ended up screaming as he lunged forward and managed to buy Yuki thirty seconds when his best friend glanced up at him incredulously and the woman he’d been about to kill for no particular reason at all, save for the minimal threat she posed, steadied her stance before she could fall into the man’s blade.
“Ji-?” Aoki started.
But not before the sound of gun firing rang loud in the air; a sharp noise it was, something that rhymed with the crack of thunder in the sky and the flash of lightning that followed after it.
“Wh…?” Jin breathed, vision smearing when air suddenly began to rush in his ears and he began to fall back and into the ground a moment after the passing of the noise.
“Jin-?! He heard Kazuya gasp as he glanced down at his arm and found that his sleeve was a strange sort of red instead of its typical smudged, frayed gray -, “JIN!” He heard Kazuya scream this time as he felt something collide into his right shoulder.
The ground, he assumed rather thoughtlessly when his vision cleared eventually a few moments later to reveal that he was at eye level with grass.
“Jin-! Jin, oh my God, Jin-,” – his field of vision changed from a lawn to the sky as he was rolled onto his back, and Kazuya’s tear-filled eyes blocked out the last bits of sun. “Your arm-,” his sense of touch returned to him in pieces at the same time his hearing began to recover and he felt shaking hands working quickly to wrap something ragged and white around what felt like his left arm.
Also to his left, he could hear muted yelling – a woman screaming furiously, more gunshots and sickening crack that sounded like bone against stone.
“Jin, Jin!” Kazuya was shaking him now, appearing to finished with whatever fuss he’d been cooking up at Jin’s arm, “that bitch!” He heard him gasp spitefully a moment later, whipping his head in another direction as Jin glanced slowly down at his arm and stared at the frayed mix of gauze and cloth that was now knotted around red bloom on his bicep.
Pain – something sharp and foreign struck him like lightning a moment later as he felt warmth leave his side, and turned his head just enough to see Kazuya’s form storming off into the front yard of Yuki’s cabin multiple knives fanned out in both hands.
Jin’s reality sped back up into the chaotic current time frame, and his hearing instantly recovered as sense crashed into skull like a bus. Yuki had shot him. Kazuya had pushed him out of the way, but Jin’s left arm had been grazed by the bullet all the same.
In the time it had taken him to recover from the shock, Yamapi had wrestled Jin’s attacker to the gun, confiscated her gun and moved aside to let Kazuya shove his foot into her head, burying it in cobblestone as he sat on her stomach to keep her still while he raised what appeared to be ten scalpels above his head with the intent to plunge them down into Yuki.
They were going to kill her – Jin realized when the reality of the situation made itself known to him like alcohol to an open wound. They were seriously going to kill her.
“NO!” He screamed in a sudden adrenaline rush that had him racing to their sides and precariously grabbing their wrists before they could do anything they’d regret. Or wouldn’t, considering the state of their deteriorated minds.
“Don’t – don’t do it. Don’t kill her!” He gasped breathlessly.
And the looks Kazuya and Aoki gave him for that statement, matched. From the fiery glint snapping the seven little darkly-colored spindles in each of their irises to the dilation of the pupils to the empty blackness that ran forever into the center of their eyes – they looked at Jin with a tainted innocence that no one in the world but Jin could even begin to understand.
Jin distinctly remembered the Supernatural episode in which a zombie child had looked up innocently at his mother when she’d found him snacking on his father’s intestines; blood smeared over his face, smile sweetly childish as he’d declared, “I was hungry, mommy.”
“But she hurt you,” Kazuya tilted his head, like that was the end of the argument. How dare the woman hurt Jin, Jin could see the accusation in his eyes, how dare she. She deserved to die.
“She didn’t,” he pleaded with him and his one-track, sane-free mind. “The bullet just grazed me – I’m fine-.”
“Yeah, but-,” his band leader looked at him, disturbingly confused as to why he was being stopped, “she’s evil. She hurt you. She was going to kill you.”
“But she didn’t!” Jin gasped, laughing desperately as he let go of their wrists to fling out his hands, trying not to grimace when the wound in his bicep felt the strain.
“Jin, I don’t understand-,” Aoki, who Jin still thought was Yamapi, spoke up this time, “she’ll try to kill you again if we don’t kill her now-.”
And for a minute, Jin felt his perception tick out, then back into place. Breath stalling somewhere in his drying mouth, he remembered what Suzuha and Kazuya had told him about Yamapi; that he had dissociative identity disorder, DID – multiple personality disorder. That he had another version of himself, another personality, another Yamapi living inside him that even lesser moral direction than the usual Yamapi, and had killed 50-so people at Kazuya’s auction.
Jin coughed dryly when that thought clawed its way to the surface and he found himself questioning silently, was this not Yamapi then? Was this the other personality? The killer?
“We need to kill her,” Kazuya was agreeing with whoever in the hell was in Yamapi’s body when Jin looked at the two knife-happy freaks crouched over Yuki.
“Stop,” he demanded, like he couldn't believe this was actually happening, "stop-."
“She hurt you-.”
“I’M FINE!” Jin barked.
They had the gall to look at him like he was the crazy one. “What are you saying?” Kazuya frowned after a moment, “Jin, she’s the still enemy, we have to get rid of her before she goes back to her bosses-.”
“Just turn her over to the police!” Jin gasped back desperately, very much aware of Yamapi’s... that person's finger on the gun trigger, “they’ll take care of her! This isn’t OUR job, we’re singers for God’s sake-! Idols!”
“Tsk.” – The person in Yamapi’s body.
Jin flinched. Heart sinking, he glanced at his best friend who’d effectively started ignoring him, “Kazuya,” his friend turned back to the younger, “yes? Or no?”
Kazuya opened his mouth-.
“Kill me,” the woman snarled before anyone could say anything else.
“What-?” Jin breathed despairingly.
“I’ve failed my assignment,” the woman scowled blackly at Kazuya, “I’ll be killed if I return empty-handed anyway. Kill me. I’d rather die than fail any more than I already have.”
Kazuya turned, cocking his brow at Jin he waved the gun at the lady’s head, “hear that?”
“You can’t just kill her!”
“Kill me, you highborn whore.”
Kazuya and Aoki quieted for a moment as they spared the woman a blank glance. Then Kazuya sighed and rolled his eyes, “bitch,” he muttered neutrally to himself, jabbing her in the side sharply with his foot.
“Look,” Aoki spoke up this time, “the police are useless, Jin. They don’t have jurisdiction over the Yakuza or international forces - you should know that better than anyone,” he was talking about Jin’s corrupted police chief of a father.
“Yeah, but this isn’t Ishiyama!” Jin gasped back, “the police here aren’t corrupt! We just need to call them and let them-.”
“Jin.” Kazuya spun the knife in his hands over his knuckles as he tilted his head back when his bandmate glanced at him, panicked. “They won’t. help. us - more than half of them are on Aoi’s payroll as it is-.”
“How could you know that for sure?!” Jin flung his hands in the air, “that detective that came in to question you the day I got sick -.”
“Was a newbie,” Kazuya brushed him off, “idiot didn’t know how the system worked, he’ll be corrupted soon enough,” he gestured down at the lady with his knife then, “if we don’t kill her now, she’ll kill us. You heard her - she’d rather die than fail her boss.”
“She’s not trying to kill us!”
“Not us, you.” Kazuya flipped his knife at him.
Jin quieted, nervously chewing at his lip. Yamapi – or whoever that was - wasn’t listening to him - he only had ears for Kazuya’s commands which was strange and weird and uncomfortable because neither seemed to exactly have a moral code was still at least somewhat intact. “Don’t kill her,” Jin begged helplessly, “please. Just don’t kill her - use her or something. Get her to call her boss and lie-.”
“FBI don’t do that. You should know that, Jin.” Yamapi muttered, without looking away from the woman, “we should just kill her-.”