Blood in Siberia
Chapter 34: Sohma House
I should have known better than to think that what Otto told me was the long and short of it.
First of all, Sohma House was not a house at all; it was damn near its own city. In typical Japanese style, it had a wooden fence that enclosed the property with a large sliding wooden door that acted as the front entrance. As we entered and navigated the streets, I was able to see all that entailed Sohma House. There were the homes which were flats, townhouses, condos and everything in between. There was a small farm, a pond, a park, offices, a skating rink, a hot spring, an arcade, a movie theater, an ice cream shop... it went on and on! Men, women and children went back and forth with their activities. They talked on the street, laughed, argued, jogged, played with their children... I was blown away by how normal they were. This almost could have been a neighborhood in Texas. Almost. I should have picked up on it the day before when Otto said that he met them when they were being attacked by Hunters. After all, Hunters wouldn’t attack a group of humans.
They would attack a group of Pixies, though.
I was pissed at this realization too. The Pixies, each and every one of them, were absolutely adorable. Even the adults. Everyone had those big, watery eyes in so many colors. So far I’ve seen all sorts of blues, greens, golds, purples, browns and reds. Same with the hair. Their hair came in various colors and lengths, giving everyone a pretty yet distinctive look. I also had an inexplicable urge to hug them.
Trowa and Otto didn’t rest as long as I thought they would. They were barely able to sleep a full hour before they were rearing to go. I thought we all felt that way. Being so close to the end of all of this made it hard to take our time. So we didn’t. We arrived at Sohma House right before dusk, and were soon pulling up in front of a very wide, beautiful, Japanese-styled home.
Leaning against the wall of the house was the coolest looking dude I have ever seen in my entire life. The top half of his hair was white, the rest black. He wore all black with a white trench that had white fur along the collar. He had earrings for days, boots that would stomp the hell out of Alex’s entire family, and enough zippers and hardware on his clothing to set off every alarm in an airport from the front door.
I liked him immediately.
“Hatsuharu,” Otto greeted, as we all exited the van. “It has been a while. How are you?”
“Better than you apparently. What a piece of shit vehicle. I’m surprised it made it here from your place. Are the Siberians hard up for money or something?” His beautiful, piercing gray eyes did not miss a thing. His gaze quickly dissected Trowa and Heero before it focused on me. His assessment of me was longer and ended in confusion. “Since when are you buddy-buddy with the Shenlong?”
“Since we are all trying to kill the same mother fucker.” He held his hand out, gesturing to the teenaged-looking Pixie. “This is Sohma Hatsuharu, the Ox of the Zodiac.” Otto didn’t leave any room to say ‘hello,’ or for me to ask what the hell an Ox or the Zodiac were. He immediately switched to Trowa. “This fucker here is Trowa Barton, Alphagué to Chang Wufei, Packmaster of the LaGrange Five Shenlong Werewolves. This is Yuy Heero, Special of the LaGrange Five Shenlong Werewolves.” Hatsuharu was suitably impressed. “With great respect,” he began, his voice changing from hostile to calm, “I introduce Duo Maxwell, Primus to Chang Wufei, Packmaster of the LaGrange Five Shenlong Werewolves.”
There was silence as Hatsuharu stood there. His expression was of one completely floored by the information received. Then he cleared his throat in an attempt to recover. Bowing deeply with a hand over his heart, he greeted, “A pleasure to meet such distinguished individuals.”
Poor guy, being sprung with such a thing. Well, if he was willing to try, so was I. I bowed just as deeply, hoping to return his greeting with as much sincerity as I felt from him. “The pleasure is ours. It is a treasure to be in such a beautiful place.”
I straightened to see Hatsuharu staring at me. After a moment, he shook his head. “The Shenlong have a true prize with you as Primus.” He turned to Otto. I stood there, shocked still at such a compliment. “He’s a true asset to them Otto, unlike that selfish half-breed--”
Otto growled, the universal signal from werewolves to shut the hell up. Hatsuharu did, apparently used to such behavior. “Go on in then.” He waved a lazy hand. “Akito’s waiting.”
Otto immediately stepped into the house with his shoes on. Even in America, we knew that you didn’t do that. Wincing at the mistake, I pulled my boots off. So did Trowa, Heero and G. We were about to enter when Hatsuharu held his hand up, stalling us. “I would wait a moment, if I were you.”
Confused but not willing to question, Trowa, Heero and I waited. Satisfied, Hatsuharu turned to G. “Hey G. How’s your necrophilia--I mean--necromancy going?” A shit-eating grin spread across his face.
G didn’t appear to be amused. “At least I get laid you fucking Pixie cow. You probably get lost trying to find your dick with both hands and a GPS.”
I took a step back... as did the werewolves.
They traded a few more stunning insults before Hatsuharu seemed to... change. He was no longer the polite gentleman that was first introduced to us. He became a dark, hostile character. I could even see the change mentally. His aura was no longer calm and soothing; it was now angry and volatile.
Soon enough, the first punch was thrown and a full-out fistfight began. They were beating the hell out of each other in a way that made me wonder if I should call the Pixie police.
All five of us froze at the gunshots. It sounded as if things were being turned over and thrown. Not knowing what to do (after all, bulletproof I was not), I only stood there in confusion.
“Don’t worry,” Hatsuharu grunted. G had him in a headlock. “They’ll be done in a minute.”
As soon as those words left his mouth, the door slammed opened. Otto ran past me so fast my hair blew out of its braid. He made it across the street and was standing on the roof of a house. “God damnit Akito!” he yelled. “You almost shot me!”
“That’s because I was trying to shoot you,” a calm, almost cold voice answered. I turned around to see a young man step out.
Akito did not look how I imagined. His hair was dark purple. His eyes were large and a chilly slate gray or slate blue, I couldn’t really tell. His face was narrow, with his hair cut where the front was longer than the back, the front reaching his chin. His tight jeans and black shirt accentuated his tall, slim and effeminate frame... which made the M16A1 assault rifle with red-dot scope he was holding look huge. “There is an animated, tainted Air Wizard roaming free through our territory in an attempt to reach the Unseelie Court. Rin and Shigure have run themselves ragged trying to find him. Kyo and Haru have nearly driven themselves insane trying to protect everyone in Sohma House. It is hard to keep that under wraps when Hunters and a Plant have been sighted, rumors of the Shenlong slaughtering those under your Packmaster have been verified, and now the Shenlong and Siberian are at war.” He raised the gun up and sighted Otto with the scope. I could see the red dot alight on his forehead. “Yet you tell me it is Siberian business and to mind my own.”
I winced again. Yeah, that would totally have me shooting at Otto too. “Forgive the interruption,” I said, bowing deeply at the waist. I had a feeling that Akito would take pop shots all night at Otto if we let him. “I am Duo Maxwell, Primus to Chang Wufei, Packmaster of the LaGrange Five Shenlong Werewolves.” I remained bowed a second more before rising.
Akito was stunned. His expression was neutral, but he mentally shouted his astonishment. Just like Hatsuharu, he quickly regained his composure. “I am Sohma Akito,” he bowed, “Head of Sohma House.” He rose. “You are no werewolf.”
He didn’t hesitate. “You are in enemy territory.”
My diplomacy was getting better and better. “Our presence was requested by the Packmaster of Packmasters to assist in retrieving his missing Alphagué.” ‘Semantics,’ Akito thought. I completely agreed with him. “Many things have come to light since our arrival, and unfortunately a compromise could not be reached.” I paused. “You are correct in that the Siberians and Shenlong have gone to war, but I can assure you that the Hunters are dead and the Plant has gone back to LaGrange Four.” I had the Pixies, G’s and Otto’s attention with that last statement. Trowa and Heero already knew the truth.
“How do you know this?” Akito asked, lowering his gun.
“The Plant and I were present when the last Hunter was killed,” I said, not admitting or admitting to killing her. G immediately caught on to my wording. “He revealed that the rest of the group were already dead. His objective was complete.”
“I see.” Akito tossed the gun over his shoulder. Hatsuharu, freed from G’s grip, snatched it out of the air. “We will discuss the details inside. Please enter.” I stepped in first, followed by Trowa, Heero and G. There was another man inside waiting for us with tea. He had short black hair, brown eyes and a very friendly disposition. His introduced himself as Shigure. I liked him right away too, although I could sense that he was a pervert.
As Otto brought up the rear, I heard Akito say, “You are lucky you brought the Primus with you.” I heard a smacking sound, and then another, and blushed when I realized they were kissing. “You really pissed me off this time, Otto.”
“You owe me for this.”
“You can start by giving me a blowjob after dinner.”
Otto sighed. “If I must.”
“Yes, you must. And take off your god damn shoes.”
It was during dinner that we were joined by Sohma Hatori, the Seahorse of the Zodiac. Hatori was tall and slim, with short black hair and vivid green eyes. His humor was dry and his observations blunt. He didn’t seem the type to bullshit or beat around the bush. I liked him right off the bat.
After we finished dinner, we got down to business. Otto laid everything out that happened to the Pixies, from when he was looking for me in the States to when he had to jumpstart the van on the drive here. They remained silent, interjecting every once in a while to have Otto clarify a point. I was astonished at seeing this side of the Alphagué. At the castle, he was the one running things and barking orders. I never noticed it before, but he always seemed tense around his Pack. Here, he was relaxed. Even playful. I didn’t know if it was because he and Akito used to be together, or if he was around those whom he didn’t feel the need to dominate. From what I knew of the werewolf, I couldn’t see anyone shooting at him and not having their hearts ripped out. Akito not only did that, but wrangled a... favor out of it too. Glancing at the Pixie, I took in his features and demeanor. The more I studied him, the more I could see he and Otto together. He was the cool to Otto’s heat. He was able to lead as well as follow, just like the Alphagué. In a bizarre way, they suited each other.
“When I got your call yesterday, I changed our plans,” Akito was saying, sipping at a cup of tea. “For tonight’s rave, we’ve made it a costume party. I figured it would make it easier for the necrophiliac to blend in--”
“--You bastards quit calling me that!--”
“--and more tempting for Oburi to come as he is. If he--”
“--I will fuck each of you up!--”
“--disguised himself, we may have a harder time finding him.”
Shigure was doing his best not to laugh. Hatori looked bored to tears, as did Heero and Trowa. I wanted to grab Hatsuharu and go to the rave. “Is there a theme?”
When Akito looked at me, he smiled. It was genuine. I didn’t know what I said that made him react that way. “Everyone has to wear a boa,” he said.
I raised an eyebrow. “A... boa?”
“You mean, those feathery things that chicks wear in burlesque?”
I was puzzled, but then I shrugged it off. Hell, who cared. I wanted to go to the rave!
Otto smacked his hand against the table, looking disgusted. “Who the hell came up with--wait. Was it Ayame?”
Akito snorted. “Who else?”
“Honestly? To piss you off. He knows you have an allergy to feathers.”
Otto grumbled underneath his breath. Akito chuckled before turning to me. “Primus--”
Akito smiled again. “Duo.” He nodded his head in concession. “Shigure will help you find the appropriate attire for this evening, and will go over the particulars of tonight. Hatsuharu and Kyo will be your bodyguards for the duration of your stay here.”
I was startled by that but didn’t push the issue. “Ah.” Shit, what do I say to that? “Thank you for the consideration of my safety.” I paused, decided ‘what the hell,’ then went for it. “I am also capable of defending myself and others. Do you have any ammunition for Brownings?”
“I’m sure we do. I’ll have Haru check the armory.” He took a delicate sip of tea, placing the cup back in its saucer with a quiet clink. “I’m afraid I am at a loss, Duo,” Akito said, easily accepting the use of my name. “Your glow is unlike any I have ever seen. What are you?”
I was really beginning to hate that question. “I’m human.”
Akito snorted, picking up his cup again. “No offense Primus,” he started with a smile, “but you are about as human as I am.”
This. Was. Fucking. Awesome.
I didn’t know if I was wearing a costume so much as just being sexy. The guys decided to dress me up like a boxer. I wore yellow satin pants with a white stripe down the side and yellow sneakers. I was shirtless, but these last few weeks of running around and fighting had really given me a toned, defined upper body. Hatsuharu (call me Haru) had a brilliant idea for hiding my guns. They were loosely taped to my hands with red boxing gloves worn over them. I had to swap out my Brownings for two small twenty-two calibers, but it was necessary. My hair was left down in waves and a matching fluffy yellow boa was wrapped around my neck. The entire look was fun. I couldn’t wait to get out there.
I was introduced to several other members of the family as my hands were being taped up. Kyo, the Cat of the Zodiac, was a teenager a year older than Haru with orange hair and red eyes. Very defensive, but deep down a sweet guy. Yuki, the Rat of the Zodiac, was another cousin. He was the same age as Kyo with purple hair and eyes. He was very soft-spoken, very polite. Really, really liked them.
“That’s fuckin’ hot!” Kyo announced, high-fiving Haru. “He’s definitely going to be the center of the party. Oh yeah!”
I didn’t know about that. Kyo was dressed in a tight-fitting SWAT uniform, complete with handcuffs, billy club and helmet. Super, super sexy, although the sparkly pink boa made things strange. Haru was dressed all in black and buckles like some rock star of the Jared Leto variety, complete with black eyeliner. His boa actually looked like it belonged. Yuki had already left, but he was dressed as a ninja. He tied his boa up his arm and stuck plastic shuriken to it, which actually looked cool.
Heero and Trowa refused to go to the rave, stating that they would surround and monitor the perimeter. (They also refused to dress up, the party poopers). I thought it strange that they would trust my safety to the Pixies, but Otto explained that that wasn’t unusual. “Pixies will either like you or not. If they like you, they will defend you to the death. If they do not, you would know.” Otto flicked his eyes in G’s direction, and smiled a shit-eating smile. “So far, they like you very much. Your packmates know they have nothing to worry about.” He patted me on the shoulder. “Sorry. Have to go.” Without another word he stood and trotted off. I was curious about what he was up to when I remembered that he still had to have his private... ‘talk’ with Akito. That got me time alone with Haru, where I was able to place an... order. And ask a very important favor.
The plan was for us to be at the rave acting as rave-goers would. Haru and Kyo would make sure I didn’t end up getting kidnapped or killed, since Oburi has tried to do both. Otto and Akito would be ‘around’ to keep an eye out for our target. The party poopers were going to be outside, scouring the perimeter for any sign or scent of Oburi. G would be in a building or two over, lying in wait to avoid detection from Oburi. The rest of the Zodiac were also acting as eyes and ears for our guest.
Haru, Kyo and I walked to the club from the main house. I was between them, chatting with the Pixies as if we’ve been friends forever. The night air was cold but thankfully it wasn’t a long walk, and Haru had me wear his white trench to keep from becoming too chilled. The last few yards we ended up running, laughing the entire way.
When we entered, I handed the coat back to Haru who handed it to someone else. We entered three across, immediately heading to the bar to get a drink. Since we had a job to do, we didn’t get anything alcoholic. I got fruit bunch and the guys got lemonade. We stood there and sipped our drinks, glancing around to get a vibe of the scene.
All of the members of Sohma House were either born a Sohma, married to one or were an outsider that had been proven invaluable and were therefore allowed to live with them. All Sohma’s were Pixies, but there was an outsider named Honda Tohru and her friends who were human. I wasnt sure I’d be able to meet them tonight. Kyo explained to me that everyone was in on the family businesses, as they all worked together to prosper. He told me a few more things, but they weren’t as interesting as what I’ve already learned.
Suddenly, a song starting booming out over the speakers. My heart jumped in my chest as a smile split my face. The three of us looked at each other before we yelled, “That’s my song!” and raced out onto the dance floor.
Apparently this was everyone’s song, as the previously vacant floor was now congested with flailing bodies. “I love the Black Eyed Peas!” I screamed. Several dozen voices echoed my sentiment.
“Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be...” Haru sang near my ear as I punched the air and Kyo did something with his hips that had me shake my head to clear it. Then I had to shake it again because Haru did some quasi dance/marital arts move that showed how graciously lean his body was. Bloody hell, these Pixies were going to kill me!
Good thing I was going to enjoy it.
I alternated between despair and forgetfulness as the night wore on. Despair, because I was afraid that Oburi wouldn’t show, or that he already had what he needed and was long gone. Then Kyo would make me laugh or Haru would say something comforting and I would forget and just enjoy myself.
During those times of forgetfulness I danced and talked with many members of the family. Hatori stopped to say hello (dressed like a doctor of course), and we danced a few songs together before he moved on. Shigure, who was supposed to be helping us, was tipsy as hell while dressed like Hugh Hefner. I spotted Otto every now and then, his Viking costume both standing out and fading into the background. The blonde wig damn near had me in tears; they didn’t even try to make it look like real hair. (He refused to wear a boa, not that it mattered with that shitty wig). I saw snatches of Akito as well, dressed as The Godfather. He was sleek and sexy in his suit. But every once in a while, our eyes would meet and he would give me a chilly smile that made me believe he would slit someone’s throat and not think twice about it. Yeah. Will not ever, for never, fuck with him.
The highlight of the evening was meeting Ayame. I have never met a more flamboyant man in my entire life. He was one of the most gorgeous Pixies there was. Long, silver hair went all the way down his back. His eyes were of a color I almost couldn’t define, like a chartreuse. His skin was white, body slim and tall which seemed to be typical of a Pixie. But his behavior was so over-the-top that it distracted from his beauty. He was running around the place in a wedding dress with a boa bouquet. He was loud and grandiose in his gestures, talking to me so fast and exuberantly that I had no idea what he was saying. Yuki, his younger brother, ran away and hid the second Ayame made his entrance. So did several others. (The bastards should have taken me with them).
All of the excitement mixed with the previous hours of dancing damn near had all of us choking on floating feathers. Cries of, “Damnit Ayame!” “This shit was a bad idea!” and, “Ban all boas!” were shouted at irregular intervals. Thankfully, Hatori popped up and dragged him away. As soon as the Snake of the Zodiac left, the party picked back up.
“...I can’t get enough prey,” I sang, grinding against Kyo. “Prey for me...”
“Yeah baby,” Kyo said, hair plastered to his forehead. “I’d prey for you... I’m edible as all hell.”
I had twisted around and brushed against Haru when I spotted him. This was the first time I had seen Oburi look like what I pictured a wizard should. He wore a velvet, black hooded cloak that was so long a few inches dragged on the floor. He had a sack with him that I thought he might be carrying his possessions in. Or skulls. Whichever.
Then I latched onto the baby, and jumped as he wrapped me around himself. He was terrified.
Before I could raise the alarm Haru and Kyo squished me between them. “Not yet,” Haru yelled in my ear. “Wait!”
I growled in frustration, but kept dancing.
He was leaning across the bar, saying something to the girl behind it, Kagura. At first I thought he was playing it cool. She mixed some kind of drink for him that had smoke rising from it, which he drank in a few gulps. When he finished, he leaned across again and said something else. She nodded to him before flashing a signal up at the ceiling. She leaned back across to say something to Oburi, then moved on to the next person. As Oburi waited he gazed around at the crowd, eyes easily passing over me. I continued to act like just another Pixie, getting my groove on without a care.
Akito stepped in and talked to the Air Wizard. He listened intently, nodding sympathetically as if he understood where Oburi was coming from. Then he went behind the bar and picked up the phone, making a call to who I knew to be G. After he finished the call, he stepped out from behind the bar and gestured for Oburi to exit out the back. Once Akito was behind him, he gestured us forward.
“...I’ll make you scrounge, in my executive lounge...” Rang in my ears as Kyo, Haru and I followed. I stayed just a bit ahead of the other two, wanting to make sure that no one got in the way and was accidentally hurt by what I was about to do.
We all made it quickly out the back door, but the music was so loud we could hear it clearly after the door closed. That wasn’t the point however.
I didn’t want the other pixies to hear Oburi in case he screamed.
I ran around everyone and got ahead of the wizard. Then I turned to face him, using my forearm to brush the hair out of my face. Oburi’s eyes landed on me and widened in recognition, muscles flexing in preparation to fight. I wasn’t having it.
Just as the music worked its way up to an ear-splitting crescendo, I raised my concealed, gloved guns and fired. The first shot hit him right in the throat, and he dropped like a sack of shit. I didn’t stop there. I alternated my shots from my right hand then left, emptying the chambers into him. Kyo and Haru stood to one side and Akito the other, silently watching as I raged against the wizard in the only way I could.
I emptied the rounds in ten seconds. G, Otto, Heero and Trowa immediately swooped in with machetes. Without hesitation, G swung down and decapitated Oburi. As his head rolled towards me the werewolves made quick work of chopping off his arms and legs, then chopping his arms and legs into several pieces.
Oburi’s head rolled to a stop at my feet. I stared down in angered horror as he glared at me, soundlessly screaming.
“Fucking hell,” I breathed. This son of a bitch was never going to die.
“...I’m a man-eating machine...” Drifting out as the door opened and closed. It was Hatori and Shigure. The latter grimaced, but Hatori was unmoved. “I called the castle. No one answered.”
“That is understandable,” Otto said, standing. He ripped the bloody wig from his head. “We are at war.”
“No one would be handling communications?”
“They may be dead.” Otto shrugged.
Kyo and Haru came over to me then, peeling away the ruined gloves and ripping the tape free from my hands. Kyo stepped too close to the head and Oburi tried to bite him.
“Don’t you fucking dare!” I yelled. Everyone froze, including the Air Wizard. Leaning down so that we were nearly nose to nose, I sneered, “Bite him and I will fuck you up in ways you’ve never imagined.”
The wizard glared, but did nothing more.
Straightening, I stood silent as Kyo and Haru finished freeing my hands. Done, they moved to stand beside Akito. Heero and Trowa came to stand on either side of me, and we all stood silent as G and Otto bagged Oburi’s body in several different garbage bags.
“Yeah, I’m done.” Shigure announced, before turning and going back inside. That was probably for the best. He was looking a little green. Hatori gave everyone a once over, saw no one needed medical attention (no one that mattered anyway), and left to follow Shigure. As the door opened a final time, the sound of Grace Jones devouring something flowed out. Staring down at Oburi’s hateful gaze, I found it appropriate.
Akito had been watching me the entire time. “Remind me never to fuck with you.”
I snorted, but it lacked all humor. How I’ve been feeling lately, that was probably a good idea.
G came over just then with a bag for Oburi’s head. “No,” I snapped, before softening my voice. “No,” I repeated, before gathering my courage. Reaching down, I grabbed Oburi’s head by his hair and picked him up. “Don’t cover his head.” I shrugged. “The baby’s scared.” Without another word I walked towards our van, ready to leave. Heero and Trowa moved to flank me.
“Otto?” I heard Akito call.
“Don’t fuck with him.”
I felt Otto’s gaze on my back. “I have no intention to.”
I smiled. It was as cold as the air.
Musical Notes: 'Imma Be' by Black Eyed Peas and 'Corporate Cannibal' by Grace Jones. Really! Grace Jones was the inspiration for this chapter, actually. Very creepy and very cool song. If you want to hear the song you have to go to YouTube if you're in the US. Her album 'Hurricane' released in 2008 is not available in the US.