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"Hey, you with the big fish ears, I got a bone to pick with you. How does a dead guy win!?"
--Yusuke

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On the Line

by Ryoko

Chapter Four: "Two Shots"

The man lifted Keiko up the flight of stairs. Apparently she had been in the basement of wherever she was. As the doors to the floor below loomed farther away she wished she was still down there. There it was safer; much safer than the unknown place she was being carried off to. The stairs flowed into panels of wood flooring. Before her capturer reached it, though, he stumbled on the last step, but swiftly regained his balance.

Good, thought Keiko. Trip and break your neck! She thought about the idea of escaping now. She would quickly slam up her hands into his head and hope that it knocked him out and hope he would stay unconscious long enough for her to crawl out the door. But what if she failed? She’d just make death come a-knocking even sooner.

Keiko sighed and tears began swelling up once again in her eyes. Please, Yusuke, save me…and hurry. The floor diverged into several rooms and the next thing Keiko knew she was being tossed upon a bed in one of the rooms. She felt the soft cushions and sheets collide with her body and she bounced up and hit them again. She turned her gaze the best she could with her position on the bed and being held in bonds. She was laying flat on her stomach with her head at the head of the bed. She saw her capturer advantaging toward her with a malevolent grin on his face. Keiko could read his thoughts. His expression said it all and that deeply scared her. Please! she shouted in her mind. Someone help me! Yusuke! Yusuke!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“So she’s in here?” asked Yusuke. He was staring at a shabby old house. Its once white paint had chipped and faded away. The front yard held a forest of thousands of thriving weeds. There was trash scattered about. It diffidently hadn’t seen a woman’s touch in some time. He glanced quickly at his companions, Kurama and Kuwabara, who also stared at the house with wonder.

“Yes,” answered Kurama slowly. “The scent leads here.”

“Then I’m going in.” Yusuke’s features hardened. “Alone.” He stepped towards the door.

“What?” exclaimed Kuwabara. “Why do you want to go in alone?”

Yusuke stopped without turning around, clenching his fists at his sides. “I never asked for your guys’ help, but thanks. I couldn’t have gotten here without you. But I need- no- I have to go in alone.” His voice lightened as he continued. “I don’t know what lies in there and to tell the truth I’m scared…Please, Kuwabara, don’t follow me. Just go home, you guys. I can beat a human by myself so I really don’t need your help and if something…” He tried to hide the sorrow in his tone. “If something did happen to her, to Keiko, I don’t want you to see it.”

Kuwabara opened his mouth to protest and began to step forward, toward his best friend, but he was stopped by a firm grip on his shoulder. He turned around to see Kurama shaking his head.

Kurama put a smile on and looked toward Yusuke, whose back was facing him. “Very well,” he said and turned his gaze back to Kuwabara. “Come now. Let’s be going.” He pushed on Kuwabara’s shoulder slightly.

Kuwabara was going to object, but gave in when he heard Yusuke whisper, “Please just go,” in the calmest voice the young man could muster. He gazed at Yusuke in sympathy for a moment and then, with Kurama, turned around and headed back in the direction of which they came; headed back home, which may never be the same again.

Yusuke watched them go until they were completely out of sight. Only then did he ascent up the steps to the front door. He turned the handle and to his surprise it was unlocked. He turned it, creaked the door open, and slipped inside.

He dared not make a sound, for then, his arrival might be known.

The old house had wooden flooring and white painted walls. In the almost empty living room, Yusuke saw to his left the stairs to the upper floor. All there was in the bare room in currently stood in was a covered couch. In the room over lay a kitchen and to Yusuke’s right was a door, which probably led to a bathroom. The first floor was obviously deserted, so he made his way over to the oak, or whatever type of wood it was, staircase, and began to creep up it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keiko’s captor advanced toward her. She felt the tears fall down her cheeks like a river and then she choked on her scream. His face was full of malice and he brought a pocket knife out from his jean pocket. Its blade glistened. Keiko’s eyes widened in horror and she struggled to crawl out of the bed and away from him. But she couldn’t. He grabbed her and threw her over unto her back, landing on her hands. She screamed, but the sound was muffled by the gag in her mouth. He brought the knife over her chest, and cut her blouse down the middle.

Keiko closed her eyes and prayed that this was just a nightmare; a really horrible and sick nightmare. This wasn’t happening. It wasn’t! That’s what she told herself. But she knew better than that. She was more mature than that. No matter how much she hoped otherwise; told herself otherwise, this was happening.

Her arms ached from the weight of her body on top of them. The position enabled her to move. She opened her eyes to see the man directly over her. His blade was pointed right at the flesh covering her sternum. Soon she felt the cold metal against her flesh, then pain as the knife made a trail of blood along her chest. She screamed, but the yells only came out as moans and groans. She looked up at him. His lips were stretched from one side of his face to the other in a venomous smile.

He sliced her again. Faster, deeper this time. And again. More pain and the deepest cut yet. Tears swelled up in her eyes from the agony. She knew she had to get away or he’d tear her to pieces. She began to squirm. She threw her body this way and that way; left and right. Somehow she had to get away. He continued to slash at her; never stopping for it didn’t matter to him where the blade cut, only that it did cut. Her sleeves ripped and her skin was dotted with gushing wounds. She’d endure it, however. She needed to escape….somehow…

As she struggled to get away there came a loud “thump!” as something impacted with another object. Followed by a slightly softer, “Crack.” Keiko looked up in shock and wonder. Tears flooded down her cheeks. Her heart filled with relief. For there he was; there was Yusuke! His hand was raised from just slamming into her kidnapper’s face, which had sent him flying off her. Yusuke stared at the man, Yamato Miyazaki, the serial killer. The hate and anger he had been feeling all day was present in his stare.

But that anger would have to be relieved later. Right now there were more important matters to deal with. He turned to Keiko, losing his aggressive expression and replaced it with a look mixed with pity, shock, relief, and pain.

Keiko’s heart stopped as she looked upon him. He had came. He had really came! Her Knight in Shining Armor had really arrived to save her. She wanted to embrace him so much as she laid there. She forgot about the burning that the pocket knife left. The pain seemed to go away for now and the embarrassment she‘d normally feel from Yusuke seeing her top half gone wasn‘t there. It didn’t matter right now. All that was important was that he was here.

He pulled her up and broke the ropes around her ankles and wrists effortlessly. He untied the cloth that was in her mouth that went around her head and enabled her to speak.

As soon as he was done she leapt at him, onto her feet, and hugged him as tight as she could. The tears flooded down her cheeks as if the events and pain of the day were flowing away. Yusuke wrapped his arms around her and put his head upon her shoulder. He wasn’t ever going to lose her again. Never ever again. He let her weep in his arms, not bothering to say soothing words like, “It’s okay” or “It will be all right.” He didn’t need to say it, because deep down he knew Keiko didn’t need to hear them. He was right. Keiko only needed him to be with her to know that everything would be fine; she was safe with him.

“Yusuke…Yusuke…” she wept. She couldn’t think of anything else to say. It all seemed so meaningless. Words did not need to be exchanged to express how grateful she was that he was here with her now.

He held her out and wiped the tears from her tear-stained eyes while giving her a small reassuring smile. She just stared at him, still in a bit of shock from the whole predicament. His smile faded soon after as he examined the bleeding cuts along her collar bone and chest and arms. He blamed himself for her pain and blood lost. If he had gotten to her faster it could have been avoided. He pulled her back into his arms and held her tighter, ashamed. It could have been avoided. “I knew you’d come,” he heard her say. “I knew it.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and placed her head on his chest and closed her eyes, comforted.

Then two sounds echoed in the air. It was the spurring sound of a gun releasing its bullets and them soaring through the air. Keiko’s heart beat quickened and she opened her eyes. She looked at Yusuke and saw his eyes wide and teeth gritted; a face twisted with pain and shock. A groan of agony escaped his lips. A surge of pain and fear hit deep inside Keiko’s heart. “Yusuke…” she whispered.

There was terrible pain in Yusuke’s back. Burning pain. As if his back was on fire. It was doubled, too. In two places the pain roared. Blood filled his mouth and dripped slowly from the edge of his lips. He felt the liquid seep heavily down his back. He felt a weakness loom around him. He slumped forward, falling down to his knees, causing Keiko to fall with him. She stayed on her feet with her knees bent to be the same height as him. They still held each other. Only now it was a loose grip.

They both slowly turned their heads to look at where the bullets had originated. Yamato Miyazaki was starring at the two wickedly from a crouching position. He was in the exact spot of where he had landed when Yusuke had sent him flying. His grin was big and spread wide across his face. His eyes glittered with malice. In his hand was a gun. Its barrel was still smoking. He cocked the gun, ready to shoot again.

To be continued….


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