Hello my adored readers one and all! Now I know most of you are anticipating either a Giver or Words update, but this idea couldn't leave my mind! And so, I gathered several writers, Chanou-Chan and Useful Oxymoron, to join me upon writing a fanfic that deals with the question:
What if Megumi Shimizu and Ritsuko Kunihiro were saved by two brothers?
And so begins our tale, of life itself, of happiness, of sadness, of acceptance, of fear, of love.
In a collaberation with ChanouChan, Useful Oxymoron, and Zaru, we bring you:
Second Life, Second Chance, Second Love.
We do not own Shiki. It belongs to Fuyumi Ono, Fuji TV, and Funimation. We do however, own Kenta and Tsubasa Yamamoto.
The road ahead seemed to be endless, almost completely bathed in darkness save for a lamppost every few yards.
The road ahead seemed to be endless, bathed in darkness save for a lamppost every few yards.
Even though he had been driving for the better part of the day, Kenta was far from tired. His brother, riding shotgun, was a different story altogether. When he wasn't constantly fighting against nodding off, he looked outside the window into the darkness beyond with a bored expression on his face.
"Kenta," he started, the tiredness evident in his voice.
"If you're going to say 'are we there yet?', the answer is still no," Kenta replied with amusement in his voice. Tsubasa grumbled slightly and resumed looking outside the window.
"Look," Kenta tried. "You're just upset because you've been sitting in the car for so long. And you're right, it was my fault I took a wrong turn."
"Kenta takes a wrong turn. So what's new?" Tsubasa chuckled. "You get lost on the way to work!"
"I do not!" Kenta frowned. "Well... except for that one time, but that only because there was a roadblock for construction and I had to drive differently."
"We'll get to the ryokan soon and the onsen are open all night." Kenta turned to his younger brother. "From there it's relaxation, nature hikes, and good clean country air. Isn't it nice to get out of the city for a while?"
"Yay," Tsubasa sighed, his voice thick with sarcasm. "My heart pounds with anticipation. But it's still better than seeing you drowning yourself in liquor."
Kenta sighed. His brother was brooding again. And he had to admit the comment stung. His brother didn't like him drinking at all.
The road curved slightly as it cut through a couple of hills, and Kenta's eye caught a road sign which told him he was still heading in the right direction.
"I just thought it would be nice. Us having fun together as brothers," Kenta tried. "It's been almost a year since we went on vacation."
Tsubasa grumbled some more. "Oh, come on. We both know that you're only doing this to get Miho out of your head."
An uncomfortable tension hung in the air as Kenta closed his eyes. "You're being mister Tact today, aren't you?"
Tsubasa didn't meet Kenta's eyes. "Sorry," he said truthfully. "I shouldn't have brought it up."
Despite his apology, Tsubasa continued to look dour and bored. "Like a teenager who's been sitting in a car for 8 hours should", Kenta thought. Almost against his will, his thoughts drifted back to Miho.
"It's not your fault she left you," he forced himself to think again. About a month ago, Miho had semi-suddenly left him for much richer man twice his age. And the past couple of weeks, he had been wracking his brains trying to think what he had done wrong and what he could have done to avoid having Miho leave him.
"I'm sorry, Kenta," he still heard Miho say. "I do love you, but it's me and not you. I mean, I am accustomed to a certain standard of living and needs." She might as well have ripped out his heart and thrust it on a wooden pike.
In the end, it had taken Tsubasa's usual unforgiving bluntness to force Kenta to move on. Tsubasa had found him sitting on the couch, ripped the bottle out of his hands and hurled it against the wall.
"It's all about the money! Why don't you realize she loves shopping for clothes more than she loves you! Miho doesn't deserve you! Get that through your damn head!" his brother had literally shouted in his face.
Quite literally, an eye-opener. It didn't make him hurt any less, though. But as they say, time heals all wounds.
"Kenta?" sounded Tsubasa. "You just took a turn. Are you sure that turn was the right turn?"
"There was a turn?"
"Yes, just now!" Kenta heard the anger rise in Tsubasa's voice.
"Oh," Kenta blinked. "They really shouldn't hide forks in the road."
"God, do you even know where we are?" Tsubasa grumbled a little more.
Kenta parked the car at the side of the road and reached for a crumpled road map which was on the backseat.
"Uh, yes, I, uh, just past..." he said as he studied the map. "Just past this yellow road and this red line and...the turnpike and… uhm… Right, yes, I have no idea where we are."
"Honestly, have you ever printed out the directions at least once in your life" groaned Tsubasa, face still in his palm. Kenta continued to observe the map, sometimes even flipping it over to get a different view point.
"Look Tsubasa, I know it's my fault and I'll make it up to you once we arrive at the onsen. If there's a will, there's a way, right?" smiled the elder brother, giving his usual trademark smiles. Tsubasa rolled his eyes.
"Whatever you say..."as he dozed out into the woods, his eyes narrowed as he looked on.
"Yes?" Kenta looked towards him.
"I see someone" said the younger. He rubbed his eyes to see if his eyes were not playing tricks on him. From his seat, he could see a figure in white stagger towards the road from the woods. Tsubasa got out of the car to get a better look.
His eyes widened as the figure gave away and collapsed.
Tsubasa dashed into the woods, hurrying towards the figure.
"Tsubasa! Where are you going?" yelled Kenta as he put down the map and ran after his brother. But the younger was a track and field runner, while he was a manager at a Government-owned blood bank in Nagasaki. Miho had always said he should do some cardio. He should have listened.
"Are you alright!" shouted Tsubasa as he reached the figure. In the glow of the headlights he made out a woman in dirty white robes and old traditional sandals, of around Kenta's age. She was very beautiful, with the curves of an American Playboy model. Her green hair was long and messy, straggling down her back like a mountain trail. Tsubasa saw dry tear stains upon her face as she began breathing faintly. Tsubasa cradled the woman.
"Are you okay? Speak to me! Come on!" The woman's eyes opened a little, revealing red and black, as opposed to Tsubasa's green. She was pale, ashen-faced, and very light in Tsubasa's arms, as if she had neither eaten nor drank in several days. The woman's lips twitched, as if to speak.
"Stay...away...from..." The woman fainted and Tsubasa's heart quickened.
"Kenta! This woman needs help!" Kenta finally arrived, winded. He looked her over, wheezing from the mad dash.
"We need to get to a hospital then," he said. "She looks very weak." He helped his brother lift the woman and carry her to the car. They placed her in the back seat, Tsubasa climbing in with her.
"What do we do?" said Tsubasa, starting to panic.
"Find the nearest hospital that's what" replied Kenta, his tone hard with a determination he had not felt since Miho left him. He slammed his foot on the gas, and the car sped down the road.
"What if it's too far?" he thought desperately. "We may never make it in time!"
But as if to answer a prayer sent from heaven, a road sign appeared and Kenta smirked.
"Alright! Don't you worry miss! Just stay strong! We'll make it!" The car zoomed past the road sign.
Sotoba Village, 15 km
Silence was killing the two boys on their way to this Sotoba Village. Even though Tsubasa was in the back, holding the strange girl's hand, Kenta couldn't keep his eyes from the rear-view mirror. Something about her just…
Tsubasa's eyes widened as the girl came to. Broken grumbles slipped out of the girl's mouth, a pained look on her face.
"She's awake, but she must be feeling something." The elder brother nodded as he looked in the mirror.
Inertia pressed Tsubasa against the back seat as the car accelerated. All was silent again, until they were only 5 kilometres away from Sotoba.
"Do you hear that too?" the younger male asked. Kenta felt the urge to snap, the stress eroding his self-control. Then he thought of the woman behind him, and decided to slow down. He glanced through the right-hand window.
And his face went pale.
"Look at that!" Kenta exclaimed. Tsubasa looked to see.
Beside the road was a field, in which several tractors were parked in a circle, headlights shining inward. There were people clustered around, and more hurrying from the village.
From within the circle there came a terrible scream, the cry of a young girl in intolerable pain. The brothers watched, appalled at how the villagers stood around, some of them cheering at the unseen girl's suffering.
A murder was being committed. Kenta gritted his teeth.
"Two in one night, huh? Stay strong there, Tsubasa"
"How do you plan on coming there in to-ack!"
Tsubasa jolted as the car suddenly accelerated. Kenta turned onto the field, bumping and bouncing across it, startling the assembled citizens from their gruesome entertainment. Kenta's face bore a dark and determined grimace.
"You stay here, watch the girl!" he ordered, before climbing out and going to the trunk. From it he took something that Tsubasa couldn't see, then strode to the circle of tractors.
"Oi,you!" he shouted at the nearest tractor, under the wheel of which the girl's arm was trapped. "Let go of her right now!" The men around the tractor looked up at their unexpected challenger. They were clad in religious garb, armed with wooden stakes, hammers, bladed hoes, and shovels. The driver did not let go of the wheel.
Tsubasa climbed quickly out, his eyes widening as he saw what his older brother was carrying.
A hunting rifle.
"Why isn't that rifle in the locker back home? Why'd you bring that thing along on our holiday?"
"I forgot to put it back! Be glad I did!"
Tsubasa narrowed his eyes in disbelief. How could his brother be so stupid to do such a thing? But at least he was using it for a decent reason.
"Now do what I said or I'll shoot! Let go of the girl!" he yelled even harder at the man on the tractor, aiming his rifle.
"Don't listen to him! He's with those monsters!" bellowed one of the villagers. The man leapt onto a nearby tractor.
Kenta fired, the shot plucking him from the tractor's frame and dropping to the ground. Before anyone he could react he fired again, his second target the driver he had challenged a moment earlier. The driver fell off and thumped to the ground, screaming in pain.
Kenta glared at the remaining villagers, who regarded him with bewildered horror.
"Last warning. I will shoot!" he snarled.
For the first time Kenta felt anger, an emotion uncommon to him, boiling up inside him. The men stayed back, afraid of the man with the rifle. They stood back as Kenta hurried over to the tractor, reversing it off the pink-haired girl.
The screaming finally stopped, and when Kenta finally reached her, he saw the tearstains on her cheeks. His heart pounded in his throat as he levelled his rifle, pointing it from one farmer to the next. They were clearly wary of him, but there were more of them. Shooting two of the drivers had shown them he had meant business, even if the shots had been non-lethal. But if the situation would get uglier, there were more people there then there were bullets in his rifle.
"Thanks, dad," he whispered to himself. Years ago, his father had taken him out duck hunting several times. It was just him, dad and the quiet water. Good memories. Memories he relived by going out hunting with his friend and coworker, old man Keji from the office, every couple of months. And now, it had given him the means to save the poor girl.
The girl was absolutely terrified. He could see it in her beautiful red and black eyes.
"Please," she pleaded. "Please help me. They've gone mad." The girl literally hid behind him as several of the villagers advanced.
"Sir!" shouted one of the peasants. "You... you don't know what you're doing! She's dangerous!"
"Oh" Kenta narrowed his eyes. "Are you telling me you were not running her over with a tractor?" Just then, one of the villagers stepped a little too close. Kenta aimed his rifle and shot the ground at his feet.
"I mean it! Get back!"
Kenta slowly stepped back, making sure the girl was always out of reach of the villagers. He judged the distance to the car and looked over his shoulder to the girl.
"Get in the car," he told her as gently as possible.
"Sir, you have to listen to us!" another villager tried. To which Kenta answered with a raised rifle.
"One more word and you'll get it!" he snarled, teeth bared. It was enough to shut him up.
"KENTA!" shouted Tsubasa from the car. "Get your ass back here already!"
As the girl rushed over to the front seat of the car, Kenta followed. As he reached the car, he put his rifle next to the seat, slammed the door shut, and put the pedal to the metal. The car rushed forward with screeching tired, making a 180 degree turn onto the road from which they had come.
At that moment, Kenta felt as if he could breathe again.
"Oh, my," he closed his eyes as the adrenalin in his veins started to subside. "That just cost me a year of my life."
The girl in the seat next to him regarded him with some curiosity. The odd and revealing clothes she wore were stained with mud and specks of blood. Her pink hair was in twin tails and, like the green haired woman in the back, she had some amazing curves, to say nothing of a bust so large that the elder brother could not help but glance at it. He also noticed that her arm, over which a tractor had been driven, was entirely uninjured. He was surprised, but guessed the heavy wheel might have pushed it into the muddy ground rather than breaking it.
He was glad. He didn't want the girl to be more hurt than she already was.
And for the first time, he saw how beautiful her eyes were.
"Is this the hospitality of the country folk?" Tsubasa asked. "Because if it is, the tourist brochures were all wrong."
Kenta turned to the girl. "Are you alright?" he asked gently. "Are you hurt?" The girl with the beautiful eyes didn't answer, but simply shook her head. She settled in the seat, wrapped her arms around herself, and closed her eyes.
Kenta didn't blame her. She must have been traumatized by the whole ordeal. Kenta himself wasn't feeling at that stable himself now. He took another deep breath to force himself to calm down.
"Kenta," Tsubasa called from the backseat where he had been taking care of their other guest. "This woman. She's so cold."
"She's probably hypothermic," Kenta said. "There's a blanket beneath the hat rack. Try to warm her up a little."
Kenta heard Tsubasa rummage around in the back of the car. It took him a minute or two to find it, but he finally managed to cover the delirious woman with the blanket.
"You might want to clean up this car more often." Tsubasa bit his lip.
"We still need to get her into a doctor's office as quickly as possible. Take a look at the road map to see how far the next town is for me, will you?"
The girl with the beautiful eyes was quiet for a moment, but suddenly sat forward when she noticed a sign next to the road. His curiosity piqued, Kenta read the sign.
"You are now leaving Sotoba" he read aloud.
The girl's demeanor suddenly changed completely. Gone was the fear. Gone was the desperation. The girl with the beautiful eyes cracked a smile. The smile turned into a giggle. The giggle turned into a laugh. Finally, the girl threw her head back and let out a cackle from the depths of her lungs.
The cackle wasn't filled with humor. It was clearly a victory celebration of some sort, with just a hint of malicious rage and a touch of joy. The girl didn't stop cackling for minutes, in fact. Through the read-view mirrors, the brothers shared a look. Kenta was not surprised that Tsubasa was confused and startled by the girl's odd behavior as well.
Kenta concluded that though she may have had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen, this girl was also very, very creepy.