Author's Note

Chapter two is dedicated to Hartanna. I do not know Hartanna, but she was nice enough to review and say "please." Thanks.

Future readers should know that I originally scrapped this story because it did not receive enough attention for me to continue writing it. Since Hartanna requested an update, I re-wrote chapter two and in the process have come up with material for chapter three. After chapter three, I cannot promise that I will continue to write this story… Unless at least a few people display some sort of interest. I know that sounds mean, but I am a full-time college student with a family. However, if you would like to read more, I will happily continue to write. All you have to do is review!

As always, standard disclaimers apply.

Natsuno Yuuki…

Tonight is, without a doubt, the happiest night of my life. Surely, the day I met the Kirishikis was grand. Surely, the day I learned that I had become an okiagari and would live forever… Well, that was a happy day in retrospect. However, every shining memory that I possess pales in comparison to tonight. For tonight, my Natsuno called me by first name; he invited me in. He asked me, me and not Tohru, to take his life.

My Natsuno is dead… For now, anyway.

I lay beside him upon his futon. Though his futon is rather small, I do not mind. I pretend that we are all ready lovers as I rest my head upon his cool chest and embrace him with my left arm.

Perhaps I should be afraid; what if he does not rise again? Yet, I feel not even the slightest of fears. I know he will rise. He will rise; he will call me by my first name and I will call him my lover… And together we will live forever. Because I am not afraid, I know all these things to be true.

However, there is a problem…

I have two options. The first: leave my beloved right this minute and return to Kanemasa. If I do so, Tatsumi will not find out that I killed Natsuno and I will avoid a beating. But, if I leave, Natsuno's father will find him in the morning. He will call the funeral home and they will put my beloved into one of those awful wooden boxes and bury the box in the ground. I woke up in one of those wooden boxes in the ground once. It was so terrible… I do not think I can bear the thought of my precious Natsuno suffering so.

Or, I could slip out the window with my love and carry him back to my room inside the mansion. Doing so would be easy enough, I have the strength and the stealth of the okiagari; I can easily carry him through the woods without being seen. However, I cannot hide my Natsuno in the mansion without Tatsumi finding out. Then he will know that I killed Natsuno, not Tohru, and I will be punished. My punishment will be more severe for bringing Natsuno to the mansion without permission.

I shift my head from my love's chest until my lips brush his ear. "What should I do?" I whisper.

Of course, he does not answer. At the moment, he is very dead.

Please, Natsuno… Wake up…

Tatsumi is beating me. Tatsumi has been beating me for a short eternity now. He's beaten me before, more than once in fact, and while I can still remember the terror I felt that first time… This is much worse. Okiagari are strong and tough, but we can still feel pain. I'm fairly certain Tatsumi has shattered my nose, fractured my left arm, and cracked several of my ribs.

Please, Natsuno… He's hurting me… I'm scared…

My beloved does not move. He does not move because he is still dead, still asleep. A glimpse of his beautiful face would sustain me, but I am too afraid to open my eyes. No, I have learned that it is best to close my eyes while Tatsumi is beating me. Looking at anything will only make him angrier.

Suddenly, the beating stops. I can hear Tatsumi breathing now… He is so strong, so much stronger than any of the okiagari… But he has obviously worn himself out; his breathing is labored and ragged. Footsteps… He's walking away. I hear him sigh as he collapses into the armchair I moved into the corner of the room last week.

His voice is calm as he asks, "Why?"

"You wanted him dead."

"I did. But I ordered Tohru to kill him… Not you. It was important for Tohru to kill him; do you understand?"

"Yes, sir," I manage to choke out, "but…"

"But? What?" I wince as his voice grows edgy and irritated.

I inhale deeply before mumbling, "Tohru wasn't there."

"Interesting… If Tohru wasn't there, then where was he? I know he wasn't here."

"I swear… I don't know."

"Well, damn… Why don't I believe you Shimizu?"

Please don't hit me again. Please don't hit me again. Please don't hit me again…

"I heard," I say slowly, "that he was supposed to kill Na-Yuuki tonight. I admit, I was angry and jealous… b-but… I swear… When I got to the house, he wasn't there. I looked all around before Yuuki invited me in."

A lengthy pause. "Yuuki invited you in?"

"Yes, sir."

I couldn't help myself; I opened my eyes. I watched, half hopeful – half horrified, as Tatsumi rose from the chair he had seated himself in. Casually, he sauntered toward the bed where my beloved lay sleeping.

"This boy was a nuisance while he was living. He knew too much about us. If I'd had my way, I would have hacked off his head and burned his body."

Please… No…

"However, Sunako wishes to see our numbers grow. For the time being, she's prohibited me from disposing of anyone that might become an okiagari."

"What are you going to do with him?"

He turned to look at me then; he smiled and, if I could have vomited, I would have. "Not to worry, little Shimizu. You see, your friend here was a stupid, stubborn ass while he was living… And I'm fairly certain that, if he ever wakes up, he'll still be a stupid, stubborn ass. So, guess what? He's officially your problem now. You will watch him. If he becomes an okiagari, you will immediately report to me. At all times he will be confined to this room. Lock him in, shackle him to the bed, blindfold him; I don't give a fuck. You will be responsible for feeding him until he is able to hunt. And, if you want to live, you will make damn sure that he is able and willing to hunt. Have I made myself clear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Oh, one more thing…"

"Yes, sir?"

"If his body starts to rot, burn it."