What was happening? Toma’s grip on her hand was painful and she felt a small slime on her skin, probably from the blisters on Shige’s arm and a part of her resisted throwing up. The wind slapped her hair against her face but at the speed they were walking at she barely had time to keep up with her thoughts.
Mukai wouldn’t be able to talk to her, he couldn’t. She was sure her chief would want her even more isolated than usual when it came to her fiancé.
The chief had not wanted her to know who her guardians were watching over her...but at the same time. All she wanted was to sit down with him and find out what was happening...why members of another yakuza clan were the ones taking care of her safety? Did he know that these people he had trusted had tried to shoot her? Had he allowed it? Was he behind the shooting? Who was behind the shooting? Was it really this Takuya?
Ikuta let go of her hand as they reached the car and she got in quickly. They were speeding down the highway and she was really starting to get scared when she saw the back of a white truck a little too close to the windshield.
Still she stayed silent because she knew that whatever she was feeling. That would be multiplied by ten for the man beside her.
After all Christol- no Christine had left. “I’m sorry she left.” She muttered out softly unable to hold herself back.
The grip he held over the steering wheel tightened as he shook his head. “JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP LILLITH." His loud words caught her off guard as she gripped seat belt to steel herself from any further words. The rest of his speech was considerably calmer. "That’s not what I care about right now. I'm more concerned about how I explain your existence to Takuya. Obviously Jun won’t fucking own up to wanting you as a part of the team…” He switched lanes cutting off a black car whose driver flipped him off. “We’re going there now and remember to only say what I tell you to say. If I don’t clear this up he-“ He shook his head. What on earth could he possibly tell her to say anyways? There was no way to prepare for this. They'd just have to go in headfirst. “On second thought, just be honest.”
Be honest. It was a simple enough instruction.
But nothing about her situation here was honest. “Toma-“
“Please Lillith. Just don’t talk okay? The less we talk about this, the more secure I’ll feel.” She agreed looking down at her lap playing with the frayed edge of her denim shorts sighing.
A few more minutes went by but they stayed in the right most lane, speeding far more than their counterparts in the other four lanes. Her eyes slid to where Toma gripped the wheel and held his bottom lip between his teeth. She’d never seen him so frustrated. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get us in trouble with Takuya. I honestly just wanted to help you guys out.” She turned to look at him and bent her head down in apology. She saw his eyes flicker towards hers for a second.
“You’re the only person you got into trouble Lillith.” He whispered softly, his tone melancholic. He switched gears and sped up as he looked at her arm. She saw the way his throat bobbled up and down as if the guilt from what had happened to her was choking him. It was barely visible under her black leather jacket but there was a chunky sort of feel to her left arm where the bandage was wrapped tightly. “He thinks that we’re together, I can tell because of the way Shige spoke. Takuya'd barely tolerated Christine...how could he tolerate anyone else? On top of that you’ve been brought into our plans. You’re close to Jun. For all we know Talia could have been the one who pushed this. Maybe even Mao but she's not that insane. Talia is though. Otherwise Takuya would have definitely brought it up with me at our meetings.”
“Talia?” It was a name that was unfamiliar to her...but yet sounded as if she had heard it before. For a brief moment she was brought back to her first night at Tryst but she couldn't remember meeting a Talia that day.
He winced as he spoke the next words. “She’s my fiancé. She has to be if I’m supposed to contend to take over after Takuya. She didn’t want the business, neither did Mao…but if they didn’t get the business, their husbands had to. Takuya wanted his blood to remain in the lineage.”
What a bizarre arrangement she'd gotten herself involved with. He was Talia's fiancé, the love of Christine's life, and her equal in all things criminal. She didn't have time to reply to his revelation though. The anxious Ikuta beside her fretted over words she hadn't yet said. “Please understand that everything you say to him can be used against you, one wrong word and he won’t think twice about-” His eyes raked her outfit, but there was nothing lustful about his once-over. If anything he looked worried as he looked at her bare legs and groaned.
“Why are you so scared of him?” She pulled on her shorts, trying to lengthen their reach to no fruition.
“Because he needs a new victim Lillith and I'm sorry to say this but you're the perfect target.” He looked down at her and grumbled further as he rolled his eyes. "Button up all the buttons on your shirt. We have to make you look as unattractive as possible. If you piss him off enough he won't just kill you but place you in the human trafficking department."
Rie bit her tongue as she curled over herself buttoning her shirt up all the way. “He wouldn’t.”
"He's a yakuza...a true yakuza. Who doesn't give a shit about anything. If he's interested he'll take you and toss you aside. He's not as nice as Jun or I." He switched lanes riskily. At least she was still alive but apparently it wouldn’t be for long. “And he would, especially if you’ve angered Talia. It won't be about his satisfaction...but your punishment.”
“Why would I have done that?! I haven’t even met the girl!” They would come to save her right? Mukai and her-
She couldn’t be sure of anything. Not after what Shige and Keii had become to her. God knew what she was doing here.
“She’s been to the club a few times. If she saw you with Jun and I- that would be it. It must have been Jun. He should have known better than to be so openly affectionate with you. I'm never with you out in the open.” Finally they were slowing down and heading off the ramp on the highway. It was a large open town, they were outside of Tokyo but not by far. Still the greenery showed that this area had yet to be tainted by the metropolis.
“I have a question Toma.”
“Since I seem to be in a mood to respond you can ask.”
“Why were you sleeping with Christine even if she’s married and you’re engaged? Why wouldn’t Talia kill her but feel like she had the power to kill me if she so wanted to?” She had no illusions about the nature of Toma and Christine’s relationship now. They were obviously meant for each other and yet the fact they couldn’t be together both pleased her and hurt her.
“If Talia asked Takuya to kill Christine, he probably would except Christine is the wife of the Yamashita clan." She nodded her understanding but it was short lived as Toma continued. "There’s one other factor that largely separates Christine and you.”
He gulped, the silence in their car making both their heads pound until finally Toma decided that she could know. “Christine is Takuya’s illegitimate daughter.”
They moved quickly past the empty hallways of the traditional styled Japanese house, wooden floors creaked beneath their bare feet. Rie felt as if her heart started beating faster every single time she heard them creak almost prophetically.
Eventually they stopped by large doors guarded by five men. One in front and two each flanking each side. One of them she recognized from the club but he’d never been to any meetings inside. He gave Toma look noticing who was behind him but moved aside nevertheless opening the door. Toma nodded and they stepped through and Rie felt a strange sort of aura hit her.
The room felt dangerous like there would be weapons and arms all over but yet there was nothing of the sort. Instead it was quite beautifully arranged without arms or any products of warfare.
Outside a private screen door, there lay a lush scenery of green plants, flowers, and trees. Each side of that entry way was flanked by two bonsai. Indeed the only thing that let her know this room was dangerous was the people in it, most noticeably a man laughing with Jun and two other girls.
At the sight of Toma’s harried appearance and her own though, all smiles disappeared. Jun actually turned away from the sight of her completely as if ashamed of something. He was acting strange, he'd ignored her last night too. She felt her eyes probe his but he didn't return her gaze or her look. Just remained frozen holding onto the hand of the younger girl with a death grip.
“This is her then.” The older looking girl spoke out. Her limbs were folded over themselves while she sat but Rie could tell she was tall and shapely. Her mouth was stretched into a smile that instilled fear to those who were unlucky enough to see it. “She’s not bad Toma…I can see why you were unfaithful. She’s got a body like an assassin. Grrr.” She jokingly lifted her hand in a claw and at Rie's blank expression simply frowned. "No sense of humor though. Like a block of unfeeling ice. You could have done better there."
Rie saw Toma’s hands tense as his eyes narrowed at the girl who insinuated something. It was only for a second though as he turned his attention to the older man. The man held the smallest of smiles on his face as he took in Rie’s fear “Takuya…there is nothing going on between this girl here and I. Despite what Talia may be trying to insinuate.”
So that was Talia. The infamous fiancé.
“Didn’t you kiss her?” Rie’s eyes widened. It was Jun who said this. Why was he doing this? She looked at him helpless and he only offered her a snarky smile. He didn't speak to her in the past 48 hours and the first thing he said was this. What was he trying to do?
Still despite herself under the stiff collar of her shirt, she felt her neck get hot. “That was to prove a point, Jun. To get her to leave. Like you haven’t insinuated things with Lillith." His anger was starting to show.
How much longer till Ikuta Toma snapped like he had in the hospital room?
“I didn’t act on anything. Mao knows I enjoy flirting with the new girls and she’s completely fine with that.” Mao, the other girl here.
Rie noticed that at the statement, Talia looked to the plainer looking female. She looked very young, probably younger than she actually was. Her hair was brushed back into a simple pony tail and unlike Talia she did not dress glamorously or indeed look like a supermodel. Where Talia wore a well pressed chiffon cream skirt under which a stark black button up was tucked in, Mao wore faded denim with cut outs and a graphic tee. Talia's shoes of choice were scarily high brass strappy stilettos, and Mao's feet were snugly happy in home booties inlaid with fur.
Rie didn't need some sort of confirmation to understand that Mao must have been Takuya's daughter from a second marriage. Other than affection the two sisters seemed to share nothing.
Mao's expression was tight at Jun's words, her knuckles a pale white as if controlling her anger. Mao was the type of girl who could never be okay with Jun's words but Jun was not the type of man who would listen calmly to her desires, Rie was sure. He was forceful and if she argued he would yell. If she fought, he would scream. If she cried, he would simply leave.
“It’s not like I would have a problem with it if you two were doing things together." Talia corrected holding a manicured hand out. "To be fair though Toma, it's not my heart any of us were worried about it. Rather the heart of my dear sister, Christine. I refuse to let you take her for a fool.” Talia leaned back and examined her perfectly manicured nails then running them through her luscious brown locks.
If any of the three sisters that Rie had the inconvenience of knowing looked like Takuya it was Talia. Her eyes flashed with the same amount of ferocity. She was the most nonchalant of them all. She used humor as a tool of terror, and not to mention she was dangerously beautiful when she smiled.
Toma started laughing and clapped his hands as he dashed forward. In seconds he had grabbed the girl by the fabric of her shirt and was holding her up on her perfectly poised toes. He stared at her so intently that Rie felt goosebumps for her.
Talia wasn't fazed the slightest though as he snarled in her face, his teeth like a wolf that looked ready to bite out her jugular and toss it aside. “Then why the fuck are you still marrying me if you’re determined to help your sister out Talia?” Rie looked between them all, how could they all let themselves get this way? With their relations so horribly contorted?
Takuya had enough of this drama when he saw his daughter's life in Toma's hands. Not that Toma would have been foolish enough to do anything. He banged his fist against the table and everyone silenced as they looked at the man at the head of the room.
“Come here.” He ordered as he looked directly at Rie and now Rie saw Jun flinch as if he did want to protect her from Takuya.
After all, he had never intended on having her land here in front of Takuya. He’d just wanted to use her to get Toma out of the competition for the clan and boy had Toma fallen for the bait entirely too easily.
Rie slowly stepped forward trying to keep her hands from shaking but she knew it wasn’t working when she heard Talia snicker behind her palm.
Toma gave the beauty a dirty look and immediately his fiancé was silenced but the smile never left her lips, acting as a safe guard until she could laugh openly. Rie slowly sat down beside the yakuza as Toma trudged over loudly and took his spot beside Talia. It was a horrible sight seeing the two couples as all four of them were forced into this, none of them really wanting the other.
Rie was positively sure Mao was forced into this arrangement so Jun could garner the power he really required to snatch the title from Toma. He did nothing to respect her position, and she seemed to detest looking at him completely. Her eyes continuously transfixed on her thighs. Talia didn’t mind being linked to Toma but at the same time it seemed only because she had some other plan up her sleeve, or maybe it was because she was waiting for Toma to do something stupid enough to fuck up their engagement.
After all, he hated her too much to go through with it and loved Christine too much for it ever to be a real marriage. No, Rie realized, Talia already had a plan and she wasn’t going to let the world know and she wasn't going to rely on chance either.
And then there was her. Rie, who really didn’t know what she was doing as she looked into the eyes of Takuya. Even in Akihabara she hadn’t been this scared. There was something positively snake-like about his eyes that made you sure if you made one false move, venom would course through your veins in an instant. “Maguri Lillith desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” She bowed her head only to hear the sound of laughter come through the chest before her.
“At least you have manners. Very well. If you’re going to behave with class as shall I.” Then the yakuza boss did something unexpected and lowered his head. “Kimura Takuya desu. Yoroshiku Lillith.” The silence was unnerving as they all waited for Takuya to do something to Lillith. Anything at all really - hit her, scream at her, whip out his gun and shoot her in the head, throw her out…but they remained silent. “Lillith, you saved Toma did you not?”
“Hai.” She kept her gaze downwards and heard Jun scoff. Despite the trouble that decision had brought her she couldn’t regret it because right now he was the only person in the room who would fight Takuya if she was killed.
Or at least so she hoped.
Shockingly understanding, she felt the man’s hands came to caress her cheek. From the corner of her eyes she saw Toma jolt forward as Talia grabbed his arm and pulled him back to his seat. “You can look at me you know…I won’t hurt you if you answer me correctly. If you don’t I’ll be forced to kill you or worse." She didn't need to put much imagination to that. Toma had already told her what was awaiting her. She was no Christine but still she hoped he wouldn't let that happen.
"However, if you’re willing to work with me. I’ll work with you Lillith! Won't that be nice?” She slowly brought her gaze upwards unable to stop her breathing from growing erratic. What a fucking wimp she truly was in the end. Placing her hopes for survival on Ikuta Toma. “Why did you do that Lillith? What on earth made you want to save this man? Can you tell me?” She couldn’t cry and yet her chest constricted. She didn’t even know herself what made her jump in front of him but how did this look? “If you don’t tell me soon I’ll call in the men with the guns outside Lillith…now come on we don’t want that.”
She felt a tear leak out of her eyes and Takuya’s hand moved it away. Toma lunged forward despite Talia’s move to hold him back and he looked Takuya straight in the eye removing the older man's hands from Lillith’s face. “You think if you stopped intimidating her she’d fucking speak up yeah?”
Jun hissed in pain as Takuya started laughing.Obviously that wasn't a good sign. “You want to be disrespectful Toma when I’m giving you a chance to keep this girl alive if she can fucking open her mouth?!” He yelled out and Toma flinched. He knew he shouldn’t have dashed forward but Rie understood that she must have looked so helpless he had no option. Even now as she couldn't control her breathing she felt his eyes on her, his own breaths at an even pace as if he was trying to influence her own so she'd calm down.
Takuya nodded as if understanding he dynamic between Rie and Toma. He brought both hands over Rie’s face and came close to her as if he was about to kiss her but he wouldn’t. She gulped softly unable to look away as all of the sudden she saw his hands move away and he punched Toma in the face so hard she saw blood rise to his mouth almost instantly. She moved back to look at it apologetically. What was she doing? She was never this cowardly.
That seemed to be the push she needed. Immediately, she turned back to Takuya, a strength building her body as she straightened her spine. No longer was she shivering or on the verge of tears. “I wanted to get his trust Kimura-san, plain and simple. It’s no fun working for a yakuza group if you don’t actually know what they’re doing half the time and Toma was making me translate all the boring things. Stuff that would make you yawn really…I mean think about it. The whole reason I volunteered was to become a dangerous femme fatale who was FINALLY doing something bad for the first time in her life and then this guy locks her out. I’m sorry that’s not living out my fantasy.” She shrugged as she moved back and hissed looking at Toma.
If Talia could make jokes, she could attempt to look just as confident. “You really didn’t need to hurt him that bad though…I admit we’re not doing anything you, Talia or Christine would be ashamed of. I couldn’t. I’m very much in love with my boyfriend; he’s far more perfect than the conflicted emotionally psychotic Ikuta Toma. So whatever motive you guys thought I had behind this you’re all sorely mistaken. It was a purely selfish act.”
With a final swoop she leaned back on her arms arrogantly as she saw Takuya’s eyebrows raised at her swagger. “If you’d like to kill me now please go for it. Though honestly you know it’s a mistake don’t you? You know that I could be of more use to you than Oliver ever could…because Oliver’s not me and I’m the best Kimura Takuya-san. I promise you that.”
It was a lot of lip to give to a yakuza leader but at least he hadn’t pulled out his gun yet which made her speech something of a success. She took a moment to look around the room and saw Jun smiling at her. She couldn’t forgive him and yet she felt happy seeing him smile. It was horrible but she still thought of the guy as her friend. Mao calmly spoke out for the first time. “I don’t think she’s lying.”
Takuya turned to look at his daughter with a smile on his face. “That’s why you’re my favourite Mao… you’re actually of use.” He laughed when he saw his other daughter fume as she stood up on her heels and made a move to leave in anger but then just rushed back to sit in her seat.
“Who am I kidding? This is the best entertainment I’ve had in this house since you announced Mao and Jun’s arrangement.” Being shockingly kind Talia pulled her future husband, who had been lying down beside Rie and Takuya, by the arm and sat him down beside her. Takuya must have really hurt him or so she hoped when she saw Toma wasn't struggling as Talia made him lean his head back so he was lying on the ground with his head in her lap.
For a second Rie saw the cruel girl's eyes fade to a more apologetic expression. As if this wasn’t what she wanted to happen.
They had never wanted Toma hurt in all this, just safe and sound and away.
Jun wanted to use the fake relationship he was promoting in front of Takuya to kick Toma out. Talia had wanted to kill her but never hurt Toma in her quest. Rie was supposed to die, and Toma was supposed to live on but never be a part of this clan.
She didn’t have time to focus on her theory though because Takuya turned her attention back towards him. “You can translate for us as long as you promise you will not be on the front of the lines when the shipment comes in. If you keep that promise…I’ll look into promoting you. Maybe even to human trafficking. You can manage some of my girls.” Rie’s eyes grew wide again as she remembered Toma's words. No way-
“You fucking put her in your brothels and I’ll burn them down Tak-“ Talia clapped a hand over Toma’s mouth as he grumbled and Takuya looked at Toma his eyes flaring up in anger again.
“I understand I’ve given you the liberty to do a lot of things but the next time you speak out may be your last Toma. Fine. She won’t go into human trafficking. You can stay right under Toma where he wants you.” He started laughing when he head Toma huff as Talia laughed and pinched his cheeks.
Rie's eyes widened. That was not the same Ikuta Toma she knew, he would never let her pinch his cheeks. “I told you there’s nothing going on between me and her.”
“Then stop being so protective of Lillith!” Talia teased laughing as she ran her hands through his hair. Toma slapped her hands away and sat up by himself again. If anything the two were more like brother and sister and Rie understood now. That was what Takuya saw Toma and Jun like…sons, which was why he allowed Toma to back answer him so freely to an extent.
She turned to look at Takuya who smiled at her and pressed a soft kiss on her cheek. “I look forward to your work, Rie. Don’t disappoint me. Or I’ll have to reconsider my decision to keep you alive even if you are too pretty to let go to waste.”
As if having had enough Toma grabbed her hand and lifted her up with such force she felt like she was flying in the air. They were just making a move to leave when the youngest of the daughters spoke out softly.
"Toma-" Mao blinked as she looked at her future brother-in-law. "She hasn't left yet you know? They're picking her up later tonight. She’s waiting to say goodbye.”
Rie's hand was immediately let go of and as she looked down at it she felt her throat close up. Toma moved towards Mao purposefully but it was Talia who spoke next.
“She’s not coming back this time. It's time she learned you won't always come back to save her. That he's a fate she simply must accept.” Talia uttered softly.
"Shut up Talia." Toma couldn't say it outloud but Rie heard it in her head. His words meant that no matter what they said to him...he would never let her go.
It was as if her presence was completely erased as Toma ran out of the room past her, his feet making loud noises on the wood.
Only when the area became completely silent again Rie realized that she was still here...with no way to get back, and no way to understand what it was she did next. Wait till Toma and Christine were done their good byes? That could take some time...and she wasn't sure she wanted to be privy to that yet.
Jun must have pitied her because he cleared his throat, directing all the attention towards him. “Is it all right if I drive her home?” He looked to Mao and Takuya both garnering their approval as he stood up smiling and Rie shook her head. “Now now…I promised you a ride that time! Remember! Outside the warehouse?”
He'd thrown her under the bus but mere minutes ago, no way she was going home with him. “Fuck off Jun.” Jun’s good humor immediately disappeared as he grabbed her hand and dragged her out of the room as she struggled against him and Takuya laughed openly and Mao muttered something about wanting to go paint.
She was a toy. She was a freaking toy in their world, someone who could be thrashed around and pulled when wanted closer or thrown away.
She still wasn't any surer which side was the side of justice.
But it definitely wasn't by Matsumoto Jun's side.