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Tokyo Demons Book 2: Chapter 8, Part 1

A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #008 back issue.

Mitsuko didn’t get out of the fight unscathed. By the time two of her girls dragged her to the emergency room, her shirt was saturated with blood; she leaked a trail of fat droplets that she smeared with her stumbling sneakers. She was so lightheaded that she felt nonsense words dribbling from her mouth. Someone in the ER screamed.

She drifted in and out of consciousness as nurses rushed her somewhere, pricked her, washed her. Someone stitched into the skin of her stomach, someone else peeled away the flesh of her breast. Through the hazy white halo around the edges of her vision, she saw a dark bag of blood dangling over her bed.

She was in the hospital for several days, although she slept through most of it. She missed the majority of her visitors. Every time she woke up, more gifts decorated her bedside, until every flat surface of the room was crammed full of flowers and cards and precariously placed toys. Even the nurses brought her presents. One of the male doctors apparently fell for her, based on his conflicted face the afternoon she went home.

Her parents were silent on the drive to their house. They helped her up the stairs to her neatly made bed and ordered the maids to bring her fluids. Mitsuko insisted on changing into real clothes, though they insisted she still lie down. She grumbled about it until her mother lost her temper.

“Mitsuko!” she cried, her eyes wet with tears. “Stop fighting us! We almost lost you!”

Mitsuko pursed her lips, recognizing the familiar panic in the quaking voice. Her mother burst into tears as her father tried to console her.

He shook his head, his mouth a thin line. “How many times do we have to have this conversation, Mitsuko? Why can’t you understand that you’re destroying your future?”

Mitsuko didn’t agree with that assessment, considering the police hadn’t even come to question her this time. But instead of stoking her father’s frustration, she sat back on her bed and flashed her most sympathetic frown.

“I understand, Daddy.”

“No, you don’t. You don’t, Mitsuko!” Her mother wailed. “Because you just keep doing this! Do you hate us?! Are you trying to prove something?!”

“No!” Mitsuko replied honestly, spreading her hands in supplication. “It has nothing to do with you!”

“We’ve provided everything for you and you’re throwing it all away! Is there something we’re missing?!”

“Is this Miki-kun’s influence?” her father asked darkly.

“What? Of course not. This was a women’s issue, Daddy.”

“What kind women’s issue involves a knife fight?!”

Mitsuko sighed and shifted her legs on the bed. “It’s over now,” she offered.

Her mother buried her face in her father’s shoulder. “Mitsuko,” she sobbed weakly. “Why do you do these things?”

Mitsuko swallowed. She felt that tingle in her chest, the first signs of the slow pressure that would build up inside her, like loving fingers massaging her heart.

She thought back to the fight. Of the pleasurable thud in her chest, pounding blood and fire through her veins. Of the rush of air as the other girl’s knife slashed past her neck, a hair’s breadth from Mitsuko’s jugular. The adrenaline. The fear. The thrill. The ecstasy.

Her mind would narrow and her senses would sharpen, but her body would turn to fluid, perfect power. She would wind up and loosen and wind up and loosen, like the bliss of foreplay without the let-down of orgasm.

Danger was like a drug to her. And she would chase that high to the ends of the earth.

“I didn’t mean to get involved in this,” Mitsuko lied. “I’ll be more careful next time, Mama.”

Her mother didn’t seem convinced, so Mitsuko made a show of crawling under her covers. She smiled weakly and pulled the sheets up to her chin.

“I’m sorry, Mama.”

Her father led her mother out of the room, closing the door behind them. Her mother’s sobs quieted with their retreating footsteps.

Mitsuko waited a full minute–then dug her phone out of her pocket and rapidly typed out a text. She jumped out of bed, retrieved her emergency shoes from the closet, and scraped open her window. She crawled out onto the fire escape as quietly as she could.

The wounds in her torso strained against the stitches. She winced as she climbed down, hunched over like an old woman.

Akiko was waiting around the corner, leaning against a lamppost and smoking a cigarette. She raised an eyebrow in approval as Mitsuko jogged up.

“Running around already, you feisty bitch?”

Mitsuko shifted her shirt and frowned at the spots of blood leaking through. “Damn. I liked this shirt.”

“Kurokawa got you better than you got her. You broke her nose, but she carved you up bad.”

“She was desperate. And sloppy.” Mitsuko shrugged. “Whatever–as long as I won.”

“Yeah, she said she won’t challenge you again.” Akiko flicked her cigarette away. “You’re head Riot Girl now.”

Mitsuko chuckled, a tug of adrenaline pulling her lips. She clenched and unclenched her hands as pleasure bubbled up inside her.

“How’d you get out tonight, anyway? I figured your parents would’ve tied your ass to the bed.”

“Nah. But I let them give me their speech before I snuck out–it was the least I could do. They’re good to me.”

Akiko straightened from the lamppost. “Speech?” she repeated.

“You know the one.” Mitsuko brushed a hand through the air. “About how one of these days, I’m gonna get myself killed.”

 

Hot, angry tears welled in Ayase’s eyes. The look of shock on Sachi’s face blurred in her veiled vision, blending his hunched form and Kadoyuki’s trembling body with the tall, dark shadow of Touya’s looming presence.

I’ll kill you.

The fragments of her body pushed against the casing of her skin, desperate to burst free. Her cells merged and split inside her veins.

I’ll kill you.

Her one bug–the single, tiny piece of her she’d hidden from Touya’s vision–clung to Kadoyuki’s ankle underneath the ragged end of his jeans.

Sachi breathed something Ayase couldn’t hear. Touya called out to Jo, ignoring her entirely.

“Handcuff him,” Touya ordered. “Nice and slow, Jo-kun.”

The blood rushed in Ayase’s ears as Jo slowly walked over. But the sound split and sputtered as her body fragmented and reformed inside her. She didn’t want to force herself into one piece. She didn’t want to be human. As Jo shakily retrieved the handcuffs from Touya’s belt and pulled Sachi’s wrists behind his back, her left hand started to melt into its true, buzzing form.

Touya’s head snapped to her. He flipped the gun up in his hand and jammed the barrel up under the base of Jo’s skull. Jo went rigid and dropped Sachi’s cuffed wrists.

“Try me,” Touya said darkly. “I’ve seen the welts on our men. You’re just a pest. If you think making me itchy is worth the lives of three boys, then go right ahead and sting me.”

Ayase ground her teeth together until her jaw popped. She reformed her left hand into weak, useless flesh.

“T-Touya-senpai,” Jo said, his voice shaking slightly. “You said you…wanted to walk away. And you can, but…not like this.”

Touya dragged the gun along Jo’s jaw, tipping the barrel under Jo’s chin and dragging his face back to Touya’s own. One edge of Touya’s mouth curled up.

Jo’s eyes hardened. “If you take hostages, we’ll come after you.”

Touya chuckled. “I’m not afraid of the Church.”

“It’s not just the Church anymore. You know that.” Jo hesitated. “You…you planned that.”

Touya hummed his response.

“No one would risk chasing you for some Pitch and whatever else you got from Nick. This is your chance to get away from Core, from everyone.” Jo reached up and gently, carefully, touched Touya’s gun arm. When Touya didn’t react, Jo gripped the fabric.

“But you have to leave Sachi and Kado behind. Please. Don’t…don’t do this.”

Touya’s mouth twisted into a leer. He leaned his face closer to Jo’s, dragging Kadoyuki with him by the neck; Kadoyuki choked.

“You had a choice,” Touya drawled. “And you chose them over me, Jo Oda. So forgive me if I couldn’t care less about your opinion right now.”

Jo opened his mouth, then closed it. He glanced at Kadoyuki.

Touya suddenly wrapped his gun arm around Jo’s shoulders, dragging Jo closer. He hissed in Jo’s face.

“Kado-kun already told me that you figured out his mind-reading trick.” He shoved Jo back hard enough that Jo stumbled and fell backwards. “You honestly think there’s a way out of this. There isn’t. Back off and lick your wounds.” He jerked his head at Sachi. “Get in the car.”

Panic fanned the flames of Ayase’s anger. Sachi glanced over at her, something unreadable in his dark eyes, before Touya elbowed him hard enough to ram against the side of the police car.

A scream of rage died in Ayase’s throat as she sucked in her pulsing cells. Her left hand solidified. Flesh and bone and blood hardened in a racing track–like weak human armor along her left arm, her shoulder, her torso–as she literally shoved the fragmenting reaction to the back of her body.

She felt the skin of her back peel away into a plane of insects, clinging to her human body like a shield from Touya’s eyes.

Touya kicked the door shut behind Sachi. He dragged Kadoyuki to the far side of the car, threw him in the backseat, and ducked into the driver’s door.

Now!

Ayase’s insects raced along the floor of the parking garage. The furious, low-flying trackers zipped around a surprised Jo and after the car as it squealed out of the lot.

She clung to the bumper, the license plate, the trunk. She sent a piece of her into the exhaust pipe, but a rush of gas flushed her out to buzz crazily as the car screeched away. She climbed up under the bottom of the car, her spindly legs sizzling as they touched burning metal.

She dropped to her human knees, her mind barely registering the scrape of pain on her bare skin. She curled into a ball–blocking her ears, closing her eyes, and sending every corner of her mind to the desperately clinging insects on Touya’s car.

KADOYUKI! she screamed in her mind. I WON’T LET HIM TAKE YOU!

Inside the car, the ankle under her one bug twitched. She heard Kadoyuki pray as the clouds rumbled outside.

Proceed to Chapter 8, page 2–>

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