Susumu sat in the meeting room with the ambassador’s assistants; his elbows on the table and fingers laced underneath his chin. He knew the ambassador was not irresponsible, and his absence from the meeting had roused the ninja’s suspicions. But Souji had left the room with such a determined look that Susumu fully expected him to return with the ambassador in tow. He wasn’t the type to take excuses, even from someone of status.
...Though maybe waiting patiently was not best. The office door flew open and a young woman entered, frantic and out of breath. It looked as if she’d been crying during her sprint to the room, and the words bubbling from her mouth weren’t coherent.
"What's happened?" Susumu asked, shooting up from his chair.
She couldn't compose herself well enough to explain, so instead she urged him to follow her with shaky hand gestures. They rushed back through the door and down the hall, soon making the turn toward the politicians wing. It wasn’t hard to guess the destination.
Thanking the young woman he broke away and ran the remainder of the distance to the ambassador’s quarters. From the demeanor of maids and others nearby, he could tell the former Shinsengumi captain had already forced his way through; and from their attention on a particular closed door he knew where the cause of this commotion must be. He turned the handle and entered slowly.
Souji waited, eyes hard and arms crossed as he watched the Ambassador scramble inelegantly. He did not like this. He did not like to see a grown man reduced to this state. It was not good. He knew that was an understatement. The Ambassador was the most important man in the building, and easily the most important japanese in the country, and although Souji did not like him, or the government, he was the man who would represent them all here. When the door opened again, Souji turned to Susumu who had just burst through, finally having received his summons.
“Yamazaki-san.” He said, the formality called by the situation. They were not friends or companions at the moment. They were soldiers of rank, in a crisis.
“We have something of a problem on our hands.”
He was silent, turning to watch the Ambassador, letting Susumu see the situation for himself.
“You’re smarter than I am. What do we do?”
For his part, the Ambassador was curled into a near-fetal position, trembling nervously on the floor as one, widened eye peeked out fearfully from behind a hand-made mask,
"My guards! Where are my guards?! They're already here!!"
His eyes found Souji first, then slowly drifted to the floor and the Ambassador. He watched for a moment in shock at the man’s actions, then the expression fell from his face and like Souji became a soldier.
“Have someone capable go to the house and retrieve the flat black box from the top dresser drawer in my bedroom. They should bring it quickly, and they should know there will be severe consequences if I find anything is broken.” He mentally reviewed which medications he had put in which boxes. Everything he needed would be in the black one.
“If he gets any worse I may have to sedate him.” Susumu concluded, at a slightly lower volume. He moved slowly toward the cowering man and knelt next to him. He doubted he would be able to talk him back into a normal state of mind, but at the very least he might discover more about his ailment.
“Taishi-Sensei, who is here?”
"The enemy...", his wide eye surveyed the room from behind his hands as his voice trembled, "We killed them in the war, and yet they're here!"
Then, in a flash, the man sprung up and pointed at a table in the corner of the room, then a plant, and then a plaque hanging on the wall, "Surely, you can see them for yourselves?! The Ronin of Ikedaya have returned for my head!"
Souji’s eyes glanced to the plant and the plaque on the wall and then to Susumu who was trying to attend to the Ambassador. His features were hard and unhappy.
“This is ridiculous.”
There were no other words for the situation he thought. He had killed Yoshida himself, and he’d seen Miyabe’s corpse after he’d committed suicide.
“Do what you can for him, Yamazaki…” He said quietly, knowing Susumu would understand all of the nuances of that comment. Susumu would do what he could, and what was needed. He was reliable.
“I’ll find Crow and send him for your box immediately. Will you need anything else?”
He was already turning to leave the room and glanced over his shoulder at the Ninja.
“Lock the door from the inside and kill anyone else who comes into this room while I’m away.” He told him.
Not the answer he was expecting. Demons perhaps, but the deceased ronin of Ikedaya?
“I am not a dishonest man; and I can tell you that there are no other people in this room beside yourself, Okita-San, and I.” he said, regarding the man seriously and taking care to enunciate.
He pivoted on his heel to face Souji again.
“No, that will be all.” He wasn’t sure he wanted to entrust such a task to Crow, but this was not the time to be picky about the deliverer, so long as the delivery arrived undamaged.
Susumu nodded -and after the former captain had left- locked the door securely.
"It does seem impossible", ::the Ambassador noted, his fearful eyes darting about the room::, "And yet, I see them clear as day..."
Backing cautiously toward a wall, he seems to have regained a semblance of composure, "I see now. I am the only one that can."
::Looking back at Susumu, his face is a stoic mask once more.:: "I hear something, just now. Tell the guards that in his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. Yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Earth. These are the final orders of a failed lord."
::Pulling a tanto concealed in his obi, the ambassador hastily kneels and makes a skillful slash across his abdomen in about the time it would take to reach him without wounding him further. Seppuku, and an ill-advised one at that. Whatever his honorary reasons, there could be now doubt that, bleeding profusely on the floor, was the corpse of a madman.
Susumu relaxed a little when the ambassador appeared to be understanding the situation, but regretted it instantly. His breath caught in his throat as the man pulled out a knife and plunged it into his own stomach; and there was a moment of stunned silence before he could find his voice again.
“Y- YOU IDIOT!” He roared, quickly closing the distance between himself and the ambassador. He took the bloodied tanto from where it had been dropped and hastily cut down a portion of the curtains. Lying the man out properly, he bunched the fabric and pressed it against the hemorrhaging wound.
“You stupid stupid man, you have a wife! Don’t you know that?! You have a wife and a station here to uphold!” he knew his efforts were futile. There was no possible way the ambassador could survive this type of injury without a miracle. The blood oozed through the cloth and between his fingers and the man grew less responsive, despite his yelling.
A few minutes later, after a soft exhale of breath, he was dead.
Susumu moved away from the body but didn’t take his eyes off it. He loosened his tie and shirt collar, needlessly staining them red and walked back to the curtains. With his own knife he cut down a much smaller portion and placed it over the ambassadors face before sitting down in a nearby armchair and cursing himself for allowing this to happen. For not being attentive or quick enough to stop the man before he had killed himself.
The doctor glanced to the door and gave a small sigh of gratitude that the walls were thick, and at the very least the women in the hall would not have heard what went on in the room. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped off his hands, deciding to wait in the room until Souji returned. A second person would be necessary to help him convince the ambassadors wife of what had just occurred.
It was officially no fun being human.
The boy called Crow could feel a very human pounding in his chest as he trotted down the hall, away from whatever it was he'd just encountered. It hadn't been Johnny Walker, he told himself repeatedly; he'd seen Kafka's father die, had read the article about it in the papers and helped rinse the blood from the soaked shirt. His claws had ripped the old man's face, wings beating vainly but Kafka was safe and it was all going to be different now. Johnny Walker didn't have power here.
Unfortunately, if the angry vibe shivering through the air was any indication, whatever it was that did have power here was much, much worse.
Rounding another corner, he caught sight of the man he was looking for. He didn't burst into running down the hall like a child; that wasn't to say he didn't pick up the pace a little as he half-trotted toward Souji. "Nii-san!"
Souji could feel fire rushing through his body, familiar and reliable fire that would keep him from feeling drained and tired until they settled matters. He didn't have confidence however. He had been good at following orders. The executioner. He doubted, somewhat, if he could take on the demon commander role. He wanted someone else to do it, and have that responsibility.
But he had Susumu here. He needed Susumu more than he could say, especially now that something like this had happened.
He rounded a corner walking with purpose, but quickly, and felt a sense of relief when he saw Crow. He'd taken to the boy, trusting him perhaps too quickly.
The child--he wasn't really a child tho, was he? No more than he himself had been--flew at him, keeping a wildness in check.
He wrapped an arm around the boy's shoulder as he drew close. Comfort and for privacy.
"Something's happened." he said quietly.
Apart from the instinctive wave of relief that rolled over his shoulders (there must be children living nearby, clouding his cool with little ticks like that), the contact brought with it a hard black feeling like a slug slinking from Souji. Something burning and ready for the fight, but tempered with a dark doubt and sticky desire for a crutch.
Poor bastard. It got a slight grimace tugging the boy named Crow's lips back in what was hopefully the gesture of a normal person confronted with this sort of situation. Tilting his head slightly, he tried to tough it off, eyes sharp and avian again for a second as he examined the older man's face.
"Tell me about it. All kinds of creeps running around here and women screaming like someone's dead."
Souji could understand the irritation at the screaming. It took time to be able to put it behind you and push it to to the backround. "I have something I need you to do." Souji said, drawing the boy into one of the empty rooms. Oh to have a copetant, well trained group at his disposal... Well. He had one boy, perhaps that could be enough for now.
Before he could relay Susumu's request, he realized Crow's words sat uneasay with him. "What do you mean creeps running around?" He asked carefully. Perhaps the boy simply meant some of the officials who worked here. Maybe he had a run in a secretary or minor diplomat... but he would be sure, before he sent the boy off.
He should say anything. He should say (he had to reach out to the tendrils of the other's mind for a minute) the other diplomats or some of the lesser personnel. There was no reason to stress his adoptive older brother any more than he already was. With a light shrug, he rifled through pre-sets of emotions and pulled a tired, confused look onto his face.
"...I'm not sure, niisama," he shrugged. "You know how it is when people are panicked. Don't worry so much." Straightening his shoulders again, Crow flicked the hair back out of his eyes and tilted his head to the side. "What did you say you needed me to do?"