The amatsu-kami stood in the scooped out basement of an old farm house. Blood was splattered around the walls, on the floors, and pieces of flesh. On the floor dog tracks led out of the basement, bloody paw prints larger than a full-grown man's fist, as well as a set of sandal and another of footprints. No bodies. The two amatsu-kami looked around for a moment before also leaving the basement.
Isano lifted her head as Ichiro and Kouhei came in. "We didn't really do anything. Not after Katsuya pushed us aside with his hairy dog butt and ate them both." Kouhei said. Katsuya came in after them, his head almost touched the roof.
"She needs to stay with us for a while." Isano said. "Touya's whip not only cut the skin, but damaged some of the underlying muscle as well. I don't know how long it will take to heal." Katsuya didn't answer her. His long hands were still covered in Bankotsu and Shinji's blood. He'd shredded them in his fury. His violet eyes were on the bed where she slept, her face had released the pain in her unconsciousness. It had taken her a long time to fall asleep. His nose picked up the clean scent of her skin, as well as the medicine and the clean cloth. There was a plaster cast on her jaw where Isano had found a break. He walked to chair and sat down by the bed, and remained looking down at Momoko. No one spoke to him. 'Does she hate me?'
He looked at Isano finally. "Arigatou."
Isano's tired face lifted, she'd been up with Momoko all night. "Katsuya, stay as long as you want." The boys and Michiko didn't meet her blind eyes, but they didn't say anything to contradict her offer either. Eventually they all left to their respective rooms. Within an hour Katsuya could hear the steady sounds of their breathing through the walls.
He stayed there as the sun set and night fell. When the fire died down he revived it so Momoko wouldn't be cold and wondered again; does she hate me? If she did, he would leave and never return so she could heal without him. He felt as if something precious had been put in his hands and he had carelessly crushed it. He didn't belong in her life, but he had to stay until she woke. His spiked collar that normally sat on his chest as protective gear lay disregarded on the floor.
Momoko's eyes opened. Her wounds felt stiff all over her body, her jaw throbbed and tears leaked out of her eyes. They came wide open, was that Katsuya sama in the corner? She turned her head, and he turned his to meet her gaze. After a moment she slowly pulled herself up and left the bed. He watched her, trying to read the expression on her face. 'What is she doing?' Stiffly she walked across the floor. 'What is she going to tell me?' She looked down at the floor, moving as if each step were painful. If Isano were there she would probably make the girl get back in bed, but she wasn't and Katsuya wanted to see what Momoko meant to do.
She was in front of him, one hand on his knee and the other grabbed his sleeve. She pulled herself onto his lap. When she was settled in, her head resting against his chest, she sighed and closed her eyes again. He felt her body relax and in the safety of his arms she fell asleep again.
In the wee hours of the morning she stirred, her sleep disturbed by dreams. The home where she was born, barely remembered except for wood walls, dirt floor and mother, several noisy kids running around, bigger than she. Boys. A strong, restless wind and angry voices shouting, blood, death. She was behind the house and saw the men enter, felt hands grab her from behind, startling her. She was thrown in the opposite direction shouted instructions her four-year old brain couldn't comprehend, except for one word.
"Run! Run!" She ran towards the woods as her mother went the opposite direction towards the house, where her brothers had been. She'd seen the bad men go in there, the ones she and her mother had watched cut down someone in the street. She was in the forest now, far away from the danger, the shouts and screams, and she put her head down in a pile of ferns. They tickled her face, soft and comforting, and she nestled closer. So warm... she woke with her face in Katsuya's fur overwrap, and turned it up to see him watching her. A wave of affection swept over her and she smiled at him, even as her body ached all over from Touya's torture. In that moment, with the firelight reflecting on his face and casting warm light on his skin, it seemed to her so important that she tell him what he meant to her.
"You've always been special to me. From the very first." Momoko said, thinking of the first time she saw him. When she was destitute, alone, uncared for, and he had been there dying and savage like a beautiful wounded bird. "Special like sunshine on my face." That sounded dumb, but she knew it didn't matter what she said to him. He understood.
'After all this, she still trusts me?' The mononoke thought. "You would leave with me now if I wanted to?"
"Anywhere." She said instantly. "Even if you asked me to go to the valley of demons. As long as you're there, I'd be happy. I know I'd be safe." 'I just hope you carry me.' She thought, the walk across the floor was painful.
'But that's the problem.' Katsuya thought, 'I can never raise her out of the humanity she was born in, like I thought I could. I can only take her with me to places the yokai go.'
She'd shut her eyes again. "Hmm?"
"I want you to stay here with Isano and Kouhei. They'll take care of you better than anyone else will, better than I can."
"You'll come visit?" She asked drowsily.
She nodded, half asleep. The wind picked up outside and made the house shudder with its intensity. 'He's coming.' Momoko thought, and in her dream-like state remembered something else her mother had said. "My father is here." She murmured.
"What?" Katsuya's hackles rose at her tone. He felt the electricity in the air causing his arm hair to rise, and in the other room heard Isano sit up in bed. She also felt the presence gathering outside the house.She came out into the living room to see Katsuya lay Momoko back down on the bed and went outside. He told her to go back to sleep, and then Isano heard a hint of a growl in his voice as he spoke to her. "It's Nobuya the wind kami. I don't know what business he has here, but I'm going to make him leave."
"Be careful, Katsuya. He has come to destroy you." Isano whispered. Katsuyagrinned, a fierce, bestial grin that turned his face completely demonic, and set his spiked collar back on his shoulders. The wind whipped into the room with invading fury as Katsuya opened the door to leave and slammed it behind him. Outside the trees swirled, whipped around by the wind and the clouds revolved in ominous circles, the beginning of a tornado. Nobuya appeared standing on a hill overlooking the hut, and Katsuya looked up at him.
"I've come for my daughter. I've decided I want her back."
"She was never yours to begin with." Katsuya said calmly. "She belongs to me now."
"You dare challenge the sire of that creature? She is MINE! I visited the village she comes from, caused a woman to give birth to her and the sons were mine as well. I decided their birth, I decided their death, and their lives as well are mine."
"You caused their deaths?"
"I am a yokai. I want my children to share my attributes, to be strong. So I sent a league of rogues to the village where my human wife was to see if any of my brats would survive the bandit's attack. I was disappointed to find none of them were exceptional, that they died like normal humans. The girl child as well is a normal human, besides that one superhuman gift of speed, so of course I didn't want her. I thought she'd died with the rest until it became common knowledge that you, Katsuya sama, one of the most powerful yokai on earth was carrying her around. Obviously you saw something in her I didn't. I will take back what is rightfully mine, and obliterate you in the process so that all will know I AM THE MOST POWERFUL DEMON and revere my name!" Nobuya's voice had increased to a shrieking pitch and his form had begun to change. Above his head two winds clashed together and the tumultuous energy they created descended to a whirling tornado in which sucked Nobuya in and he became part of.
The door opened again and Isano and Kouhei came out to see Katsuya with his head tilted back, his almost crimson eyes closed and his perfect nose wrinkled. He grinned, and smelled the farce. Nobuya was a wind demon, but not the greatest. He had accrued power for centuries by sucking power from other yokai. The tight sphere of power, the one Nobuya hid behind, tightened, and exploded, vomiting out light and swirls of wind. Snarling teeth and wrinkles creased behind a nose that grew into a snout, teeth bared and half transformed Katsuya sprang into the tornado as Nobuya consolidated his power. A half formed Katsuya and the wind demon rolled together and burst into the skies in a lethal fight.
"He wasn't ready." Isano whispered. "He jumped into the whirlwind before he was in his proper form. That's not like him."
Kouhei clapped her shoulder. "He'll survive. His type always does. If he doesn't I'll kill Nobuya for you." He frowned. "Does my older brother's fate concern you that much?"
"No." Isano turned her head towards the house. "But if Katsuya dies he goes to eternal punishment in hell. What will Momoko do if she wakes and finds Katsuya is somewhere from which he can't return?"
Japanese Demons 14Momoko's father.
By yellowpaper 3