Saturday, July 29, 2017

Akuma No Imouto Chapter Eight

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Your name is Ryoji Masaomi, and you hold in your hands an axe which is the physical embodiment of Sayaka Yamaguchi’s darkest secret.  However, you immediately throw it aside when you see the state that your twin brother is in.  You’ve only just discovered that, although it’s not supposed to be that way, Nagi can remember the details of what happens within a patron’s mind when collecting the secret, something which you can only do if you’re close friends with the person whose secret you’re collecting.  Otherwise, all you remember is problems which can be remedied for next time by learning a new skill.

Nagi’s lying on the ground, curled up in fetal position, trembling, whimpering.  Vicente looks over from behind the bar, then jumps into action as he realizes that in that state, any demon would lose control over their disguise, and scoops Nagi up to put him in the kitchen with Koren again before returning to work.  By the time he’s finished this, you’ve got your thoughts together, and you turn on Sayaka, grabbing the front of her shirt with a harsh scowl on your face, “How do you know Kiyoteru Tanaka!?”

“W-What!?” Sayaka questions, “I thought you didn’t remember the secrets!”

“I don’t,” You hiss, staring into her eyes, overtaken by anger, “But I know my brother, and I know that the only thing he could ever see in someone’s mind that would put him into that condition is Kiyoteru Tanaka.  This is the worst condition he’s ever been in after secret collecting, and it has to have been a result of that man being involved.  So tell me.  How do you know him?”

“I killed him,” Sayaka answers, pushing against your shoulders, “I killed him fourteen years ago.”

“Nonsense,” You growl back, but you do let go of her, taking a step backwards, “I killed him five years ago.  When Nagi and I first arrived in the human world.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.  I really made sure that he was dead,” Sayaka mutters, holding her hands to her chest with a worried frown, “Maybe you killed somebody else with the same name?”

“I really don’t think that’s likely,”  You groan, then grab Sayaka’s wrist, stop by the bar to grab another serving of the potion, then drag her back to the kitchen, “And I’ll prove it.  Neptune remembered, Nagi remembers, so I’m betting you’ll remember too.  I’m going to show you Nagi’s secret, and then you’ll understand,” Your grip on her wrist gets even tighter, “You’ll understand why I had to kill him, and why there’s no way I got the wrong guy.”

“I really don’t think that’s necessary-” She starts to protest, but you throw her to the ground next to Nagi as you crouch down and pour the potion into his mouth, locking eyes with Sayaka as you do so.  She seems terrified, and you don’t care.  You want her to be afraid.  Maybe it is unnecessary, but when she’s intent on confusing you on your revenge, you’re bound to be a little bit petty.


“Wow.  I’m surprised that worked,” A man’s voice broke through the darkness of the room, filling it with a sound which the secret onlookers found familiar and unsettling, but this was the first time that the target of his words was hearing it, “Perfect.  Give me my options, Nagito-kun.”

Nagi looked up, finding himself somewhere entirely different than he expected.  Last he knew he was walking to school, but next thing, he was here.  The room had barely any lighting to it, and he could tell what was happening as soon as he took a look at the floor and discovered that he was sitting in the middle of a pentacle.  He’d… been summoned?  Well, that was okay.  He did go to school, he knew what to do in this situation.  He slowly stood up, then turned to face the one who’d summoned him.

“Your options…” Nagi mumbled, flexing his fingers.  This was strange; by being summoned, he’d been forced into a human shape.  That didn’t usually happen… Well, he blinked a few times, “Uh, I need to know what you want, first.”

“I did write what I wanted in the circle,” The man frowned as he said this, checking it, “But I suppose that’s just to send a certain type of demon, and is useless if summoning someone by their name?  Or maybe eleven is just too young for you to be able to figure that out yourself,” He rubbed his fingers together, “What I’m looking for is sex.  With you, not with some succubus.  You know what that is, right, Nagito-kun?”

“Uh…” Nagi frowned, crossing his arms over his chest, “Y-You summoned me specifically?  How did you know who I was?”

“That’s not important, but if you must know, I saw you when I stumbled into Ura town and asked somebody for your name.  It’s unlucky for you that the first demon I asked knew it and was willing to give it up to me,” He put a hand out toward him, “I thought you were cute.  Now can you please give me my contracting options?”

Nagi brought his hands up to cover his face, confused and afraid.  He’d heard that being summoned was something which was easy to deal with, that the contracts would usually be dealt with by other people.  He couldn’t do anything but offer the contracts, of course.  Maybe he could make them so ridiculous that they’d all be refused; then he’d fall into ‘summoned by an idiot’ territory and be trapped in the human world for a while, but at least he wouldn’t have to give in to this man’s wishes.  He brought three contracts up in front of him.

  1. One night in exchange for the summoner’s soul upon death
  2. One hour in exchange for blood donations from the summoner until death
  3. One night in exchange for indentured work to the demon populace from the summoner until death.

“Huh.  I guess you’re giving me the absolute worst offers that you’re allowed to give.  Hoping I’ll give up?” He questioned, then lifted a pen and signed ‘Kiyoteru Tanaka’ on the first contract, smirking as he watched Nagi’s surprise, “That’ll just make this more fun.”


“What… What year was this?” Sayaka turns away from the scene, which seems in this case to be playinhg out on a television screen and asks you when this happened.  It’s a strange question, but you’ll answer it nonetheless.

“What year?  Uh, 2005,” You answer, glad for an excuse to look away from the scene anyway, crossing your arms in response to Sayaka, “Why, though?”

“Ughh…” She closes her eyes and turns to lean her back against the screen, covering her mouth with both hands as she shakes her head, her reaction seeming more dramatic than you would have expected, “So that’s what he meant, Oh my God…”

“Eh?” You question, taking up a similar position to her as the sounds on the other side of the screen grow more and more unsettling, and you don’t want to see that, “What are you talking about, Yamaguchi-san?”

“When he kidnapped me in 2006,” She explains, curling in on herself, “He said that he’s once ‘broken an eleven year old boy in just one day’.  If the chance has happened that I ended up meeting that boy he was referring to, then doesn’t that mean that he has to have hurt a whole lot of people?  It can’t be pure coincidence.  Statistically speaking,” She takes a deep breath and straightens up again, looking up at the ceiling with her voice unsteady, still shaking her head slightly, “And if he didn’t actually die when I killed him, how many people has he hurt since then?”

“I don’t know,” You shake your head, and the screen seems to be able to tell that you’re willfully looking away, and instead cuts to a moment that you remember full well, just as you can hear it.  When Nagi got back.  He didn’t want to leave the house for about a month, and you’d talk to him through the door of his room, and he’d want to hear your complaints every time you had a bad day, even though you were ten and he was eleven and his problems were so much bigger than yours.  He still stuck it out for you.  Maybe it was to avoid telling you what happened.

He only told you when you asked, years later.  Maybe he felt that he’d be pretty awful too, if he told his little sister about all of that before you’d be able to handle it.  He did end up telling you, though, and you never forgot, and that’s what left you with the decision, upon arriving in the human world, to track down Kiyoteru Tanaka and kill him yourself.  And you did.  You destroyed his whole home, and that was when you met Arthur.

Arthur had been providing magic for him in exchange for two things; being left alone, and collecting the secrets of Kiyoteru’s victims.  He was very glad to make a deal with you instead, to stop being an accessory to that man; though he could never explain to you why he wasn’t just able to use his magic to get out of there.  You do have to wonder about that, but Arthur’s proven time and time again that you can trust him.

“Sorry…” Sayaka speaks up again, breaking you from your thought after a while of listening through Nagi’s teenagerhood stretching out from that singular incident, “Look, it’s obvious that’s the same Kiyoteru Tanaka, the same person.  I just don’t understand how we could have both killed him…”

“I don’t get it either,” You sigh, biting your lip, “I mean, there’s always one possibility, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” You think about it a little more, then just shake your head, “Nevermind.  Let’s try and find the item for Nagi’s secret, and get back to the real world.  Sorry I overreacted.  I just… After what he did to my brother, I was pretty brutal towards him.  It was really unsettling to hear you say you killed him.  But… Now that I’m thinking straight, you’d have no reason to lie about what you thought you did.”

“Yeah, I want to go home,” Sayaka nods, pushing off from the wall to stand up straight and look around, “This was definitely a weird day.  I wouldn’t say it’s been a bad one… But I want to get some sleep.  I am just a human, you know.  All of this is pretty bizarre, pretty beyond me.”

“You’re handling it quite well, for a human,” You note, looking for an item as well, your back still to the screen.  The room you and Sayaka ended up in to ‘watch’ the secret through is really quite small, so it doesn’t take long for you to notice the ballpoint pen sitting on the floor.  You crouch down and pick it up, then Sayaka walks over and leans down as well, looking over your shoulder at the mysterious office supply.

“That pen… Isn’t that what he used to sign that contract with Nagi-kun?” Sayaka questions as she squints at it, then stands up again.  You stand up as well and take a closer look at the pen, and while you’re examining it, you find yourself back in the real world again.  Time resumes, and Koren slithers over to investigate the problem.

“What’s going on?” She questions, then freezes as she sees the pen in your hand, taking a long look at it before she snatches it and holds it up above her own head with a scrutinous squint, “Where did you get this??”

“That?” You ask, stepping closer to her, “That’s the embodiment of Nagi’s secret.”

“Oh my,” Koren returns the pen, frowning, “Well, you really should hand that over to Arthur as soon as you can, dear.  Somebody might get the wrong idea if you carry around a pen like that.”

“Why?” You question, looking it over, “It seems like an ordinary pen to me.”

“Well, I suppose it does, if you don’t know what it means.  A ballpoint pen with three aqua stripes and one yellow stripe at the bottom, though, is supposed to be a subtle way for members of the Order of the Felinus to reveal themselves to their comrades,” Koren explains, then turns to Sayaka, “Say, you’re the one who was asking if I had anything gamier than beef, right?”

“I am,” Sayaka nods as Koren returns the pen to you, “I knew… the person who hurt Nagi-kun was in The Order, but how did you know about the pen?”

“I’m smart, and I get around,” Koren answers, holding finger to her chin, “So a friend of mine warned me about it.”

“I see,” You nod, then pull your phone out and call Arthur, asking him to come by immediately to pick up the three secrets you’ve collected today.  You have to hope that Nagi doesn’t mind too much, that you went ahead and collected his… If he even finds out, that is.  You’ll only tell him if he asks.  That seems to be a consistent theme between the two of you; you don’t keep secrets, but you aren’t upfront either.  That’s just how it is.

While you wait for Arthur to arrive, you return to the bar and send Vicente back to handle the tables.  Koren continues cooking while she keeps an eye on Nagi, and you give Sayaka and the rest of her group your blessing to leave as soon as they’re ready.  Sayaka doesn’t need to keep being involved just because you dragged her into it, and she’s earned Akuma Spirits the title of yakuza hangout… if she still wants it.  You can imagine that she might have changed her mind after a day like today.  When Vicente’s got his tables sorted out, he comes to have a chat with you, leaning on the counter, “So, you gonna explain to me what this’s all been about?”

“No,” You answer immediately, cleaning out a glass.  The place is technically already closed at this point, so everyone’s finishing up.  It’s been a busy evening, “You don’t need to know.  Everyone who I’ve explained it to has suffered for it, so you’re much better off in blissful ignorance, capiche?”

“Eh, I’m fine with that,” He shrugs, and doesn’t press the matter anymore, “But you know, I can’t help but worry about that kid.  He’s your little brother, right?”

“Older brother, actually,” You correct him, “I don’t have any other siblings,” You notice the surprise on his face, and chuckle, “Look, he’s only older by a year, so it’s not like there’s some automatic guarantee that he’ll have his shit together more than I do.  Don’t they also say that boys mature at a slower rate than girls?  I guess that kind of doesn’t mean anything when it comes to trans folks, though,” Your laugh fades into a wistful sigh as you look back towards the kitchen, “I don’t know if he’ll ever be okay.”

“He’ll have to be eventually,” Vicente assures you, running a hand through his hair, “I used to think I’d never be okay, but here I am now, way more than okay.  It’s just a matter of time, and you know, demons have all the time in the world.  I think you really are doing what’s best for him.  I mean, I could be wrong, but I recovered thanks to normalcy.  Supportive friends, a regular routine, more good days than bad days.”

“I’d love to know what you recovered from,” You note as you set a glass down in front of him.  Red wine, any sort from a mid-cost-branch.  You’ve got his order memorized, “But I won’t be asking, especially not today.  Enough’s happened today.  I don’t need to hear the sob story of an incubus on top of that.”

“Rude,” Vicente raises an eyebrow as he takes the drink from you, “But good too, because I have no intention of telling my incubus sob story.  Not today, anyway.  All I can say is that maybe it’ll take a decade, maybe it’ll even take a century, but your brother’s gonna be fine eventually.  Humans have that disadvantage.  No matter what they do, they might die before they ever feel okay again.  Demons can just keep on keeping on until eventually, someday, everything awful fades away.  Maybe that’s why humans are so much worse.  Demons know that any negative impact they cause will wear off.  Sadistic humans, though… They can see the end of a life before the end of their influence.”

“I guess that’s a good point,” You nod, watching as the last patron files out of the bar, suppressing a yawn as you speak again, “I don’t really know… what to make of the universe, but I guess that’s because I’m still just twenty-five.  I may be an adult, but by demon lifespan standards, I’m still just bound to be clueless.  Maybe I shouldn’t be the one carrying this burden…” You’re not really talking to Vicente anymore, but to yourself.  Should you be looking at people’s deepest secrets when you’re still learning about the world?  You don’t have much more time to think on it, though, because that’s when Arthur arrives.

“So,” Arthur starts as he walks in, but you hold up a hand to stop him from continuing and turn to Vicente again.

“You really don’t want to be involved in all of this, Vicente,” You raise your eyebrows, “So you can head on out.”

“Hm?  Oh, well, okay,” He stands up, giving Arthur a wink as he goes past.  Once he’s gone, you walk towards Arthur, bringing the three secrets along with you.

“Thanks for coming, Arthur.  I know it’s weird to do something like this, but apparently this pen is something which I shouldn’t hold onto for too long,” You hold it and the buckle out in one hand, and you’re holding onto the axe with the other, “All three of these should be pretty strong, too.”

“You’re lucky I was available to travel here normally,” He mutters as he inspects the items, “If I’d been busy, then I would have had to get Jela to port me here, and you know if two of us go somewhere, it’s really all four of us,” He’s referring to his three roommates.  You don’t know much about them except that apparently they don’t like going anywhere together if it’s not all together.  You’ve not yet had the pleasure, or as Arthur seems to think you’d find it, displeasure of meeting them.

“Yeah, I guess so.  Anyway, are these things as strong as I’m expecting?  I’ve been ending up with a lot of good ones lately, you know,” You shake your hand, trying to get his attention back to the items that you’re holding in it.

“Huh?” He questions, then actually takes a closer look at the secrets, “Oh yeah, wow.  All three of these are seriously strong… You know, I’m running out of spells to cast at this point,” He chuckles, straightening out his back, “Well, I’ll use one of these to give you some more space in the building of course!  I’d say this is about the ceiling of how strong a secret can get, so using one of these for a bigger on the inside spell will be just about the biggest bigger on the inside I can accomplish… Better than the small charm I was intending, if you’d want that,” He blinks slowly, “I’m just trying to think… what other big spells can be useful to you,” He mumbles.

“Why not just hold on to the magic for a while?” You offer, raising a finger in the air, “You were saying that you can’t figure out how to use anything more than charms, so why don’t you just hold onto the power for a while until you can learn to use it on something even more interesting?”

“I’d love to do that, but…” He sighs, scratching the back of his neck, “The reason I can’t figure out how to use anything more powerful is that there’s no resources for me to use.  There’s nobody who can teach me, and it’s dumb luck that I even found the one book of charms that I did.  Secrets magic really predates the internet, and I can’t exactly go looking through demon libraries right now…”

“I’m not saying there’s any rush,” You insist, “I’m saying that you don’t need to worry about paying it back to me quickly, just keep the magic until you find something interesting worth using it on.  Doesn’t even have to be relevant to Akuma Spirits, honestly.  We’ve been doing pretty great from a business standpoint, even if we’re dealing with some weird things around here emotionally lately.”

“You have?” Arthur questions as he takes the secret-items from you, maintaining eye contact.

“Well, today especially.  That buckle was from a creature which isn’t a demon, it used to be a human but… isn’t,” You explain, “The axe is from a girl in the yakuza named Sayaka, she was also involved with Tanaka, and apparently Nagi remembers what happens in the process of secret collection even if he isn’t close to the person whose secret it is…”

“Huh?” Arthur pauses, blinking at you, “You’ve been sending him in?”

“Sending?  No, bringing,” You shake your head, “Anyway, he had a breakdown because Tanaka was in that secret, so I got his secret too.  That pen.  I was kind of petty I guess, I made Sayaka-chan come with me because she said that she killed him in 2006.  That’s nonsense, though.  I killed him just a few years ago.”

“Well, that would explain why he remembers, the potion’s only made to wipe one infiltrator’s memory,” Arthur notes, then freezes when he realizes your entire sentence, “This pen is… Nagi-san’s secret?”

“Yeah, it is,” You nod, “I figured I’d collect it eventually, anyway, but I ended up with it today because I was overreacting.  Anyway, you spent some time with Tanaka, right?  Do you have any idea how she could believe that she killed him a good decade before I did?”

“Of course I know how,” He answers, slipping the pen into his pocket and the other items into his bag.  You’re getting worried; his voice is flat, but with how upset his expression is, you can tell that’s just an attempt to mask his emotion, “Kiyoteru Tanaka isn’t human, after all.  He can’t be killed that easily.  In fact, as far as I know, he can’t be killed at all.”

“You mean…” You take a step backwards at this new information, “He regenerated…?  He’s seriously not human?  But what demon would be so horrible?”

“It’s naive to think that just because there’s so many bad humans per each bad demon… you won’t encounter a bad demon.  You know as well as I that demons in the human world for non-summoned reasons can summon demons themselves, and it’s much easier to get away with crime in the human world, so of course he’d be here,” Arthur continues, staring at you as his voice cracks with this speech, “Tanaka… I don’t know what other names he’s gone by, but I do know his title.  The Gentleman Devil.  Like the fallen angels, he’s a permanent being.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” You question, grabbing for his shoulders, but he steps out of the way and you fall onto the floor.  For the first time, he actually looks intimidating when you look up at him.

“I didn’t remember this information.  I’m telling you now because I can.  Tanaka brainwashed me into helping him.  I’d only remember after I got Nagito Masaomi’s secret.  I have no choice but to bring this back to him, but at least I can inform you of the situation.  I really am sincerely sorry for this.  I can imagine… you won’t want to see me again,” He pushes his hair back behind his ear, then turns and leaves.  You’re not sure what the significance of the situation is, but you do know that Kiyoteru Tanaka is alive after all.  You get to your feet, shakily, and run into the kitchen.  Koren’s holding onto Nagi, and he seems to have fallen asleep as a defense mechanism, to stop panicking.

“Koren,” You start, getting her to look up, and she frowns to see how distressed you are, “I’m scared.”


You are Nagito Masaomi, a Gashadokuro who arrived in the human world at age 21, in December of the year 2015.  You’ve been living in the mortal world ever since.  This wasn’t the first time you’d ever been in the human world, but you don’t want to think about that.  That was only twelve hours.  Twelve hours which ruined your life.

When you arrived in the mortal world, you and your sister agreed to split up, to try and find your own way, because you were old enough that you would have been doing that soon in the demon world anyway.  She bought a bar in Tokyo and carved herself a piece in the world, you got a job at a gas station along the highway which led towards Kobe.  Shin Orihara, your manager, was not the only man you’d been with since arriving in the human world, but he was the one you dated longest.  It was also the relationship which ended the worst, since he fired you, and the noise complaint your argument prompted was enough to get you evicted.

You were better off with your sister than forging on alone.  She did so well for herself, and you did so badly, and you were so lucky that she took you in; so lucky, and it felt like it couldn’t be real.  It was too good to be true; it really was, because it’s ended.  It’s over.  You aren’t there anymore.  Last thing you knew, you were collecting Sayaka Yamaguchi’s secret, and the man who hurt her… Was the same one who’d hurt you, fifteen years ago.  You haven’t gotten over it.  You haven’t moved on.

And where are you now?  You’re in a dark room, you can’t see in front of yourself at all.  There aren’t windows, and it seems the walls have moulding on the top and bottom.  You aren’t bound, you can move around the room, as much as is possible with the claustrophobic scale, and your arms are free to feel around.  There’s tape over the cracks of the door.  You won’t bother removing it, not yet.  That could alert whoever put you here to the fact that you’re awake.  Whoever put you here… You put your back against the door and listen, and you recognize the voices immediately.

“Wait, did it actually work that quickly?” Arthur questions, his voice shaking and seemingly horrified, “It’s that powerful?”

“All I did was bring him here,” Kiyoteru laughs, “I could do plenty more with a tool like this.  Funny, though, that his secret was the pen I used to sign that contract which became his secret… I lost this when Sayaka-hime killed me.  I suppose I should thank you for bringing it back to me, Arthur.  I knew I could count on you.”

“I never would have helped you if you didn’t make me,” Arthur protests, and though you can’t see him, you’re inclined to believe that he’s telling the truth, “If you have power like that, why use it like this?  Why not just use it directly to entertain yourself?”

“It’s no fun to make someone do something with demon powers.  I didn’t control you for fun, though.  I just needed to get him here.  I’d never brainwash somebody I actually intend to do harm upon,” Kiyoteru laughs, and you cover your mouth, taking deep breaths to quell your panic, “Speaking of, I really should reward you for your compliance, yes?” You can hear that he’s standing up, “Take this.  A secrets spellbook.  It’s what you were looking for, right?”

“I…” Arthur hesitates, “I was looking for something exactly like this, but it’s like blood money.  I don’t want it if the price I paid was...”

“Go on and take it.  It isn’t like you’ll be seeing her again anyhow.  You may as well run with… What was it that she said to you at that moment?  Save the magic and learn to do something better than a charm?  That book is your ticket to doing exactly what she wants you to do,” His voice isn’t particularly smooth or silky, but it’s convincing nonetheless.  Arthur doesn’t protest again.

You want to figure out why you’re here; how you ended up in Kiyoteru’s home, when the last thing you remember is being at Ryo’s bar.  It’s not like your whole life since you were eleven was a bad dream; you’re definitely an adult right now, and there’s no way so many memories could be the result of a dream like that.  You know it was real.  All of it was real.  Everything mediocre, and awful, and finally great right up until the moment that you woke up here.  You woke up with Kiyoteru Tanaka.

You know that he’ll want to see if you’ve picked up the pieces by now.  He reveled in breaking you down the first time you met, and his influence on you was so great that you’re still reeling today, still in just as much pain regarding him as you were the day you returned to the demon world back then.  You’ve felt for a long time as if you ought to be over it by now.  You aren’t, though, and he’s bound to taunt you for that fact.  Maybe part of why you wanted to get over it was so he wouldn’t have this ammunition.  Maybe part of why you couldn’t get over it was because you always had that dark feeling that you’d meet him again someday.

If you had recovered, though, you suppose he would have just taken joy in breaking you again.  He told you that night, and you believe it too; you understand him.  You understand his twisted pleasure and the way that he loves to be friendly, be polite, and destroy his targets.  You understand that a ‘strike zone’ he refers to means nothing, because it isn’t like he’ll leave you alone now that you’re an adult.  What you don’t understand is how you got here.

All you can imagine…

Is that you did something to piss off Ryo, just like Neptune did, and she sold you out.

She is your demonic little sister, after all.

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