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posted by [personal profile] blackwidow at 11:30pm on 29/03/2011 under , , , , , ,
Title: Ash
Rating: R
Warnings: Non-con, violence, horses
Fandom: YYH (AU)
Pairing: Karasu/Kurama
Summary: Kurama’s world ended when outlaws came to town.
Notes: For the prompt of the [profile] yyh_kinkmeme . It’s since turned into a planned Multiple chaptered fic rather than a oneshot.
Also: OH MY GOD IT'S A WESTERN. Yes, it's blink and miss at the moment but I'm getting so much inspiration from Hang 'Em High it's not funny.

ANYWAY. Enjoy.


-

Ash

One

-

He’d always thought the world would end at dusk for some reason, not high noon.

Seeing smoke that colour on the horizon, coming from the village, was never good. The smoke was a demon, curling through the sky, sinking claws of fear and dread into his chest and heart as it stuttered. He thought of his mother, his young step brother not long off helping them in the fields. He dropped his pick and turned to his father, wide-eyed. The man was standing, hand half-raised to his straw hat.

“It couldn’t be...” he breathed, old eyes suddenly drawn and hurt. His years in the sun, working a man’s job to put the food on the table, hadn’t been kind to him. Yet Kurama’s mother loved him, saw fit to move on after being widowed.

Kurama turned back to look at the rising pillar of black, his stomach turning to lead. The other men close-by began to murmur, for a moment confused. It was near the end of their working day after all, and they were all tired and thirsty, the sun having been almost too much for them that day, making Kurama’s hair stick to his neck and his loose cotton shirt cling to his skin like a shivering kitten.

There was a faint deep rumble of thunder, though the sky was clear and light in its midday blue.

“There have been rumours—”

“Maybe one of the women burnt—”

“Samhain—”

“Raiders from the capital...”

“...Karasu.”

There was a moment of silence. There had been rumours. Rumours of the outlaw making his way through the countryside alarmingly close to them. The gossip of the odd travelling merchant that passed through the village by mistake could hardly be trusted, but one thing was certain; Karasu was bad news. Not just him, but the gang with him, seven riders in all.

But they’d ignored the gossip. It was of no concern to other villagers. They were poor and known only by word of mouth, if at all. They were secretive, happy in their isolation.

The sound of a shot rung out, and they could see the embers now, the pillar of smoke widening and rising like a thick black monster. Faint screams mixed with the rumble of hooves against the dry soil of the other side of the hill.

“SHIORI!”

Katanaka rushed passed Kurama, and he had to shake himself from his petrified state, dread freezing him in his place. “Father!” he cried, turning to take his pick in hand before he took off after his step-father.

The hill was steep, soil hard and unforgiving beneath his feet. He’s never had boots, never thought he’d need them. Too expensive and hard to get. He wished he had some now; running after his father and seeing the village come into view as they reached the top of the hill and scaled the wooden beams that made up the paddock’s fencing. The thatching on most of houses was on fire, the smoke obscuring most of the village from view. Vegetable gardens and the trees of the forest nearby were roaring along with the rest of the fire too, the flames crawling up the trees high until it looked like the flames were licking at the sky.

But the women were easily seen, taking the children and not-yet-men into their arms and pulling them away as they ran or stood before the outlaws, shaking but so very determined to see them safely through to the next day.

Kurama slowed to a stop alongside his father, staring in shock for a moment. Pandemonium, that was what it was. People he’d known since birth were lying in the street with arms and heads punctured with holes and strewn metres away from their bodies.

“Find your mother!” Katanaka shouted suddenly, rushing down the hill to the church, voice full of rage.

It was then Kurama noticed them.

The horses hardly looked like horses at all; angry, silver armour covered things, their legs were mechanical unlike the rest of them, faster and stronger than the average unmodified workhorse Kurama was used to. His father was rushing right towards one, howling in rage and pulling his pick back, up above his head, clearly intending to put a hole in that expensive creature that advanced on him.

There was an odd cli-chik and then the loudest bang Kurama had ever heard. It made him flinch and jump a little all at once. Smoke curled and drifted from the long barrel of the gun as it was raised up and set across a shoulder of the largest man Kurama had ever seen before. The horse reared its head back and shifted a little, moving in place and yet staying right where its rider wished him to be, trampling the garden beneath hard hooves.

His father fell, the dirt and sweat coloured white cotton spotting with red and bleeding into a dark almost purple. The brown of his braces could barely be seen against the darkness of his blood.

“N-no!” he screamed, the hard wood of his pick’s handle slipping from his limp hand and falling to the ground by his feet as his hands came up to his face, hovering for a moment.

The men on those horrible horses were everywhere, crawling through the lanes of the village like ants, shooting anything they could, swinging at the workmen with long swords as they poured down the hill to defend their village and their families from the outlaws. There were being slaughtered, as simple as that. Blood ran in rivers, turned the soil to sludge.

He stood numb for a moment, staring at his father as the man on the horse yanked on the reins of his mount and pulled away with a moody flick of a quicksilver tail.

Katanaka rolled onto his side, and then looked up at Kurama. “Shiori,” he gasped, but Kurama couldn’t hear him. He could tell what he said though, as he pleaded, looking off to the other side of the town square as another rider neared, this one smaller than the last, but no less dangerous looking. “Hurry!”

Another cli-chik and Kurama turned and ran down one of the back paths to the village, his heart thundering in his chest as he did. The roar of fire and the thunder of hooves did nothing to cover the sound of the shot that surely ended his father’s life.

Stumbling a little, Kurama swallowed the lump in his throat and thought back to the days when he was young, and he played games by himself rather than with the other children. He snuck between buildings and used the cover of the chaos surrounding him to make his way to his home unseen. Stepping over bodies and ignoring cries for help, Kurama made his way to his house, laid a hand against the still smouldering blackness of the corner of the house.

“Mother?” he called, searching for her. All he had in his mind for the moment was to get her out and away. Shiori had done so much for him. Been more than a mother, she’d been his hero.

Seeing her slaughtered in her own home, his home, made him fall to his knees though. The back door to their small, three roomed house was open, and there she lay like a ragdoll on the dirt floor, embers drifting around her like falling stars. He clutched at his chest, spun on his heel to stare at the carnage befalling what had once been his whole life. Stolen from him in a second.

Something angry boiled up in him, stirred like an old soul tired of mistreatment. He walked over to the pile of wood by the back door to his house and yanked the axe free of the chopping block, gripped it tight in his hands. Desolate, with little to lose, he set off to the front of the house, glaring at the outlaws as they rode by. They hadn’t seemed to have noticed him yet, one of the few left standing amongst the mostly still village. They were regrouping in the centre of town, and two were coming his way, one slower than the other.

Still they hadn’t noticed him, and Kurama looked down at the axe for a moment, then up at the nearing horse. He’d been far from an innocent man, even when he was a boy he’d been light fingered and quick witted. He prayed he would succeed were Katanaka had failed.

Pulling the axe back over his shoulder, he swung as the horse neared, and was wholly unprepared for the clang and jolt of the axe as the horse’s leg bent backwards and it gave a distressed neigh, stumbling to its side as its leg sparked and fizzed. The rider cursed and shifted on her, but wasn’t able to keep her standing. She went down, and the rider with it.

Pain and disorientation flared. The world span and rushed up to meet Kurama’s face, dirt sprayed at him from a hoof and Kurama cursed blindly, spitting as much vitriol at the murderous outlaws as he could. The dirt stuck to his sweat ridden skin even as he pushed himself up and found him pushed back to the ground with the tip of something round and cold. He froze.

It was the tip of one of their guns. Only the wealthy could afford the gunpowder needed for them, and here they were shooting their guns for fun. To slaughter innocent people.

“You dare unseat me from my horse!?” the outlaw shouted, fisting a hand in his hair and pulling him up, the barrel of that gun shifting to his neck and then beneath his chin. Pulled back against a chest covered with blackened leather and dust, Kurama shook and refused to beg for his life.

He wouldn’t give this man the pleasure of it.

So he struggled. “Let me go!”

Swearing the large man—the one who had killed his father, he realised—caught him around his waist and lifted him up until he dangled in the air like a struggling cat. Still he fought uselessly, pushing at the man’s arm around him and trying to wriggle free even as he was carried over to the fallen horse.

He stilled a little as the barrel of the gun was lowered to the whimpering horse’s temple. The shot made him flinch, and the blood made him slightly queasy. He was unprepared for the way the great beast began to kick and twitch even after its death.

“You owe me now, boy,” the man said, setting him down and taking his elbow before he could struggle free. It was then Kurama got his first decent look at the tall man.

There was a scar on his forehead, like an X between his eyes, disappearing behind the black cloth that covered his mouth and arched over his nose. His hat hid the rest of his face; the brim obstructing what his hair might have looked like but for light in colour and turned a faint orange from the flames, and his eyes were cast in shadow.

Kurama stared up at him and felt that numbness creep over him again.

“You killed my father,” he breathed, staring up at him.

“Did I now?” He tilted his head and Kurama could see the amusement in his eyes.

They stared at each other for a moment until the man gave a slight grunt and pulled on his arm, tugging him along as he turned and walked away from the town square.

“Where—”

“If you know what’s good for you, kid, you’ll stay quiet.”

Kurama did.

He was taken to the village’s small tavern, walking through a sea of bodies and crying children to get there. Everyone was dead, and he stumbled as he looked around in horror. The fires still raged, though they had calmed for the most part. The tavern was the only unharmed building, but also the one which had a river of blood flowing from the wooden steps before the entrance.

Those horrible horses were tied to the posts at the bars before the veranda, and it was to them Kurama was taken, pulled against and made to stand with his back facing the pole and his arms hooked over it so that he was forced in an awkward half-kneel. Bui untied the reins from the horse beside him and tied him there like that, forcing his body weight on his shoulders.

“Wait here.”

And he was gone, stepping through the puddles of blood and walking into the tavern with an odd sort of familiarity. Like this happened every day. Like having to step over bodies to get through a doorway was normal.

The horse beside him had jaws that belonged on a lion, teeth long and sharp, and eyes red as Kurama’s own hair, and he stared at it with morbid fascination to pass the time. There were jeers within the tavern, shouts and roars. There was, of course, the occasional feminine scream of terrified barmaids. Kurama shook with revulsion and rage. He should be helped them, not here, shaking in his skin.

But Bui had taken his gun with him, and Kurama was tied to the pole so awkwardly he couldn’t have hoped to reach for the pack tied onto the horse beside him, much less have ridden the thing to the next town over, which was a two day trip anyway. When the horse turned its head his way and snorted, he looked away, to the floor.

There was blood beneath his feet, mixing with the sand and turning his skin a deep brown that made him want to throw up. He’d never seen so much destruction in his life.

Then came the weak voice. “Kurama?”

He looked up, eyes flying wide. “Shuuichi?”

His little brother was across the street, huddled by one of the crates before the grocery store. Cowering and clutching himself, the boy was covered with blood and ash, looking at him with a stricken expression. It was a situation he never wanted to see his little brother in.

“Kurama—Mama is...”

His heart broke a little. “I know. I know Shuuichi.... But—listen to me Shuuichi, you need to get out of here. Take one of the horses and go to the next town. Get help.”

His brother broke into sobs. “Brother... Brother I can’t...”

“No, no listen to me. You can. I know you can, you’re a strong kid.”

He shook a little more and disappeared behind the charred crate. Kurama stared across the barren street, listening to his kid brother cry. There was the faint jeers from within the bar too, and the lingering roar of flames, the collapse of the town halls roof down the street, but all he could hear, all he was focused on, was Shuuichi.

“Come with me.”

Kurama’s eyes widened and he was sure it was the black smoke that blew through the street that made his eyes sting and water a little just then. “No, I can’t put you in that kind of danger, Shuuichi—”

“Come with me, Kurama! I can’t—can’t leave you like this. What am I going to do? They’re—they’re all dead...” The tone of his voice broke Kurama’s heart, but then Shuuichi moved so that he could see him more clearly, peaking out from behind the crate, begging Kurama with his eyes.

A long moment passed, and then Kurama sighed. “Okay—”

BOOM!

Shuuichi jerked and his eyes flew wide, terrified for the split second it took for the hole in his heart to congeal, for death to register. He slumped down to the ground, and Kurama realised that pained scream ringing in his ears was his own. He dropped his head, hung by his arms no matter how much it hurt his shoulders and back.

The horses didn’t even flinch at the sound of the gunshot, but the whole street had gone silent, and even the tavern too.

There were footsteps along the wooden veranda to the tavern’s entrance behind him, two pairs.

“Do you know what killed him?” a voice said. Kurama heard the male voice through his sobs, couldn’t bear to respond. His eyes were tightly clenched and jaw locked, great shudders passing through him, shaking him like he was being thrown around beneath the swell of a wave—rolling and rolling. “Your decision to leave after being given to me, of course. One doesn’t walk away from us.”

A boot sole pressed against the back of his head, warm steel pressed against his cheek.

Two horses down there was a snort and stomping hooves, the grind and shift of metal armour and small bells. It was the decorated horse that lead the outlaws, the mount of their leader. The horse was responding to its owner, no doubt. Kurama remained silent.

“Nothing to say?” The boot and barrel of the gun left the back of his head, and the footsteps moved away, only to descend the stairs by his left.

Kurama didn’t want to look at him, even though he knew what he would see. He’d seen that face before on the wanted posters about the town, and in the city many years ago when his mother had taken him in to register him after the new laws had been passed. Registration for every male in the country, in case war came calling.

This man was worth more money dead than alive. This man captured hearts and imaginations like wildfire spreading through dead brush.

He looked up.

The lower half of his face was covered with a black cloth, dark hair falling either side of his face in dead straight silky strands. He was covered in dirt, soot and blood. Held in the hook of one arm was the solid metal gun, the barrel almost as long as Kurama’s own arm. There were intricate, almost demonic carvings on it that would have been beautiful if it hadn’t been held by Karasu himself. Indeed the man cut an impressive, imposing image. But he took beauty and gnarled it into something beastly.

Something in Kurama burned deep and angry even though he was piteously broken inside. He glared up at the man who had caused the death of his village, his family--his life. “Why did you attack us?” he demanded, snapping his jaw shut as the barrel snapped up and pressed against his jaw, forcing his head up and back until Kurama grunted a little and bit his cheek.

A finger brushed along his temple, down across his cheekbone. Gentle, caressing, ultimately shaming and degrading. It was a soft, appreciative touch. Looking up at Karasu, Kurama could see something dangerous turning behind the other mans eyes.

“I thought him something you might enjoy.” It was the man from before, descending the steps to stand by Karasu. Bui. He was on some of the posters too, Kurama realised.

Karasu laughed at that, cold and heartless, yet pleased. It was the most disconcerting sound Kurama thought he’d ever heard, next to the sound of the fire still raging around them. It had calmed of course, but black smoke still rose from the cinders and the scent of burnt flesh and the aftermath of rape was still thick in his nostrils. “Really?” Karasu tilted his head and his hair fell over one of his eyes as they narrowed in what must have been a sick smile.

Bui made a positive sound. “Fit for a whorehouse, but I thought you might want him instead.”

Another laugh, this one deep and slow. It made Kurama want to crawl right out of his skin.

“And what did he do to you to have him pushed into my care oh so soon, Bui?” Karasu asked, raising a thin, dark eyebrow and looking over to the other man.

Bui shifted a little and gestured across the way, towards the direction they had come from. “He knocked me from my horse. I had to put Sachiko down. She was lame.”

Karasu hummed and turned his blue eyes back to Kurama. They were an odd shade of blue that seemed to reflect all the colours of the world around him, to the point of seeming almost violet at times. The fires though, made them seem a deep shade of orange that edged on red.

Why?” Kurama demanded, shaking as he glared and tried to keep himself from becoming hysterical. It wouldn’t have helped him any. He wasn’t quite sure where he was getting the courage to face up to them from. Rage and a broken heart, perhaps. He wanted to break into sobs, cry his heart out.

But most of all, he wanted to wring their necks, to take those guns of which he’d only ever heard stories of, pry their mouths open and place the metal between their teeth. Pull the trigger.

“Why?” Karasu repeated, eyebrows rising. A short, quick laugh. “You work in fields all day,” he said, gesturing with a leather gloved hand around the remains of the town. “I work in your towns and villages, taking what you work so hard to build. I destroy your life’s work because it pleases me; and most of all because it pays for my soft beds and warm bodies.”

Kurama stared, wide eyed. His face was covered in dirt and soot and the barrel of Karasu’s gun was pressed against his jaw, digging into his neck almost painfully. Red hair tangled at his neck and spilled over his shoulders in dirty, blood soaked strands. Tears gathered at the corner of his eyes, spilled over to run down his cheek, clearing a path in the soot and dirt.

His mouth worked uselessly, trying to come up with a way to respond besides utter speechlessness at Karasu’s inhumanity. His pure disregard for others around him except for those who he considered his own; his gang of outlaws. None of them were human. Couldn’t be.

Karasu made a small, amused sound and turned to look at Bui. “You know my tastes all too well Bui.”

Bui bowed his head a little in thanks. “I had thought that if you found him disagreeable we could dress him as a woman and sell him to a whorehouse or slavery next town over. They rarely check to confirm sex. We’d be gone before they thought to check.” He seemed to take a moment to observe Kurama. “But then again, the popularity of catamites is rising.”

Karasu sighed and turned his eyes back to Kurama. “Yes, and it is such a shame that male whores aren’t in as much demand as they should be. Regardless, Bui, I think I’ll keep this one.” The gun dropped from Kurama’s throat and Karasu stepped forward, in one long fluid step that seemed like liquid, like he simply poured down to the ground as he took a knee. It was inhumanly graceful. Terrifyingly so.

Kurama’s eyes widened and he turned his head away but soft, worn leather fingers took his chin in hand and yanked his face back and up. Karasu leaned forward, long hair falling from his shoulders and hanging between them as he pulled his bandana down to bare smooth, clean shaven skin and pale lips as he breathed in deeply, as if he was trying to suck Kurama’s despair into himself, revel in it. He hummed lightly and Kurama could feel his lips against his jaw as he worked it lightly to test Karasu’s grip. It hurt, made him wince.

Lips pressed against Kurama’s jaw, cheek. “You and I are going to have a lot of fun,” he purred.

Finally, Kurama’s tongue unglued itself from the roof of his mouth. “Your kind disgust me,” he ground out, his voice shaking almost violently.

“Yes, I hear that a lot. But no one disgusts you more than me, correct?” he asked, tilting his head and bringing his lips to Kurama’s ear, speaking in a low, quiet tone that promised all sorts of debauched and painful things.

“I don’t think anyone could ever manage to be as inhuman and fucked up as you,” he replied automatically.

Karasu shifted against him. It felt like he was crouching down, or perhaps shifting to prop himself up by both knees. The gun traded hands, and Bui cocked it and held it up, fit the butt of the gun against his shoulder and tilted his head to aim at Kurama. A warning if there ever was one.

“Yes, but that is what I want,” Karasu replied as Kurama paled. “I want you to see me as the most vile, hated thing ever.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I do,” he spat, flinching at the touch of soft leather at his neck, drifting down to his collarbones. He felt a tug on his shirt, and felt the material being dragged from his breeches, his halters unclipped and pushed aside.

Kurama realised with startling clarity just what Karasu intended to do.

“Good,” Karasu crooned, splaying his hand on Kurama’s stomach and sliding it up to his chest. “Because then I will be burned, scarred into your mind. We will have a connection, you and I, if you’re good enough. I think you are.”

Fingertips rubbed over Kurama’s nipple and Karasu leaned back to watch. Horrified, Kurama struggled as well as he could. His arms were tied so well and the position so damn awkward that he found he could do little, however. He brought one of his legs up, indenting to strike at Karasu with his knee and his leg and whatever he managed. That touch was revolting. Made him feel sick to his stomach.

“Don’t touch me!” he shouted, voice uneven and trembling.

Karasu laughed and leaned a little closer. “No? Kurama, haven’t you been listening?” Fingertips pinched at his nipple and a good deal of his skin, pulling. Kurama was sure that, if it hadn’t been for Karasu’s gloves, there would have been blood from his nails and all manner of hurt.

“Ah!”

“Oh, and what a pretty little scream,” Karasu crooned, his lips kissing at Kurama’s jaw and the corner of his lips. “Again,” he demanded. He moved back just a little as Kurama shook his head, trying to dislodge Karasu’s hand from holding his head still, and then he returned to part his lips and bite at his jaw, catching the skin between his teeth and gnawing.

That hurt too, and Kurama cried out again, his legs sliding along the gravel as he panted and struggled uselessly.

He’d never suffered anything like this before; unwelcome attentions. He’d always been left alone by the school yard bullies back in the days before he’d grown enough to decide that, no, he would rather work on the farm. He could read and write now, yes, but he would rather work with his father in the fields while his mother tended to the house and his little brother.

Karasu let the skin slip from between his teeth and hummed lightly.

There passed a moment of silence between them where Karasu simply pulled back and stared and Kurama sobbed lightly, hating himself for his weakness and his utter uselessness and inability to escape, to cross the road and mourn for his brother, his family. Fires crackled and smouldered and the smoke still stung at Kurama’s eyes. The tears were full of hatred.

A beat longer and Karasu shifted, reached behind him. There was a soft sound of metal of leather and Karasu brought his arm around from behind him, wielding an utterly sadistic looking butterfly knife. For a second he thought the savage would take it to his skin, put the clean, reflective blade went to work on his ties instead, and Kurama found himself released first one arm, then the next. Freed from his binds he collapsed and fell into Karasu’s arms.

Immediately he began to struggle, and yet the single thin arm that coiled around his waist like a snake was stronger than he would have thought and that held him relatively still as Karasu replaced his blade in its holster on his belt. He kicked at the ground and pushed at Karasu, fisted his hands and did his best to strike at Karasu in manners that would let him go because more than he wanted vengeance, the sensation creeping up his spine told him that he just purely wanted to get away for the moment. It was what he needed more than to crush the man skull.

Kurama did not disagree with this impulse. It was a primal warning, something that whispered to him about the sickness in Karasu’s eyes more than the wanted posters and rumour did.

There was a mechanical sound of Bui shifting his gun and Kurama stilled completely.

“It’s alright, Bui. It’s no fun if they don’t struggle, after all,” Karasu purred and Kurama made a distressed sound, but a snort of disgust caught in his throat and turned it into something else. Hate filled him, gave him strength. The tears that dried on his cheeks and cleared paths through soot and blood were forgotten, and he knew he’d never shed a tear for them again, his family. Not today, not until he’d avenged them and the rest of his town.

To spite him Kurama went still and pliant in Karasu’s hands, became a doll for him to move about as he wished. Only that seemed to annoy him, and odd eyes narrowed as lips pulled down in a grimace.

“Compliance, however, is not something I want from you,” he said slowly, his voice level and almost devoid of anything, of any emotion or care in the world but for Kurama and causing fear in him. His eyes were empty, hollow, blank and void. The strange blue that reflected the light around them, turned them an almost violet colour made them look inhuman, and then so did the light of the flames.

They looked red. Inhuman eyes. Demon’s eyes.

Kurama clenched his jaw and ground his teeth together, pressed chest to chest, held tight to Karasu, he could feel almost every muscle of the other man’s body through the leather he wore and the soft but tattered leather coat he wore. He was thin and yet the man held much more strength than Kurama, who had spent a good deal of his years working in fields. It made little sense, confused him.

Karasu’s other hand, now free of the knife, fisted in his dirty cotton shirt and simply pulled. He cried out as the old material frayed and ripped easily, left him bare to the golden died sun as it shone through the clouds of smoke. That made him struggle and arch, kick and scream in rage. He struck at Karasu, and the hits connected, only he seemed to dodge the most of them, even at these close quarters. It was odd, unnatural, his speed.

And the way he took the hits was unnatural too, the way when Karasu swung his fists and connected with his jaw, the man only turned his head as much as the force of the blow took him, and then simply turned back to face him once more.

That something he’d felt before, that warning creeping up his spine, only grew stronger and stronger the more he struggled. Karasu lips were slowly turning upwards and his eyes closing along with his true hearted smile of sadism and decadence. A moment later he was struck by vertigo and the world spun around him. Pain flared in his shoulders and the back of his skull as he slammed into the blood-soaked sand.

Karasu was on him, and that made his heart almost pound through his ribcage. Karasu was crawling over him and ripping at what remained of his clothes, pulling at his trousers with long, skeletal-like fingers that gripped at his hip and tugged at the material. Quite unable to help himself as instinct rushed forward, Kurama screamed. He shouted and cursed, spat vitriol at the man who meant to rape him after having destroyed everything he’d ever held dear.

Feeling the blood and sand against his bare skin, his back, his shoulders, and then, once Karasu was done with his trousers and he was bear as the day he was born, his thighs and feet too, was sickening. It clumped in his hair and made it stick, and he wondered if any of it was Shuuichi’s. His beloved younger brother’s blood.

It made him sick, but there was too much else going on for him to focus on the oddly placed thought when Karasu was man handling him again and he was twisting and struggling like a wildcat caught in the hands of a poacher, he screamed just as loud, in fury and in sorrow. He would not be raped before the corpse of his brother.

“I won’t let you!”

One strike too many though and Karasu’s eyes narrowed, he grew annoyed with how strong Kurama’s struggles had come with his desperation. An arm raised, then blurred black and Kurama was on the ground a moment later, his head reeling a little. Automatically he pushed himself up, spitting the dirt and blood from his mouth as he felt it dripping from the side of his face and chest. He could hear the soft clink of a belt buckle somewhere and if only he could get his body to respond just a little better he’d be able to get away.

He crawled, on his hands and knees, made to run, but there was a sordid laugh and a hand clamped around his ankle, dragged him back. Screaming, Kurama twisted and kicked, connected with Karasu’s jaw, and that seemed to annoy the outlaw. He grunted, growled and yanked Kurama closer. Again his arm blurred and Kurama’s vision went dark as pain exploded in his cheekbone as he was thrown back a small distance to the ground.

“Ngh...”

His body way being moved, leather-gloved fingers clenching at his thighs and hip, turning him over again from where he’d managed to get on his back to see and defend himself against Karasu. He could do nothing on his stomach. Reeling, he could do nothing but comply. For a second he thought he’d pass out as stars crossed his vision and the world spun around him.

And then came the rich, violating pain as Karasu forced his way inside and pulled him close with hands on his hips and thighs. He planted his knees on Kurama’s own, keeping him painfully still and immobile. Kurama screamed into the thick blood as his eyes threatened to roll back in his head as the pain rose, then fell as Karasu pulled out, It only returned again, quicker and quicker, the pain spiralling into a vicious crescendo of endless pain and humiliation. It was almost surreal.

Karasu tore and took and violated, filled Kurama with pain and a strange, choking sense of doom and uselessness. Karasu was laughing, even as the tail ends of his dark hair swept along Kurama’s back and lingered in the blood slicked there. He and Bui were speaking, jeering, together as Kurama grunted and clenched his fists in thick red sand, screamed.

Kurama knew he’d been torn somewhere inside. Blood, fresh blood, his own blood, trailed down his thigh, hot and thick. Karasu cooed sadistic little encouragements on seeing it. “Such perfect blood, just like your hair...” and then he moaned and snapped his hips forward harder, making Kurama jolt with their force, and scream weakly, his voice hoarse and broken from screaming so much.

Even through his tears Kurama held fast to his promise to his family. He would not rest until they could rest in peace and be safe. He’d wait as long as needed to return the favour. Karasu, Bui, all of Karasu’s merry little band of fuck ups needed to die.

That thought alone was all that kept him from breaking, from falling into the pit of agony that knowing that his life up until now, all of it that he’d taken for granted, would never be the same again. His perfect, sheltered life was over. No longer were his worst fears dehydration or the oncoming rainstorm in mid-season. It was whether Karasu would kill him after this, whether he’d be able to get away, how far he could run before bloodloss and shock caught up with him and he passed out in the paddocks that surrounded their village.

Kurama’s shoulders hurt, his knees hurt, his back ached. His nails tore and lifted from their bedding in the almost concrete like layer of dirt beneath the first inch or so of dirt, dry from lack of rain.

There was a moment where Karasu fisted a hand in Kurama’s hair and pulled at it, yanked until Kurama swore that a great deal of the strands had come free. He couldn’t scream anymore. Simply didn’t have it in him. Somewhere that was too close, pushing at his slowly reseeding consciousness, he could hear Karasu crying out in completion, feel the sudden sickening pulse of his cock inside him as he came.

Sharp, blinding pain spread and stole his vision that had already been blurry from the smoke still sweeping through the town and became his whole being. He was unconscious before he hit the blood-slick dirt.

Chuckling almost fondly Karasu stood, his hand trailing down Kurama’s back, slicking itself with blood and dust and ash thickened sweat. Tucking himself back into his riding leathers and doing himself up once more, Karasu looked over to Bui. His lips curved into a small smile, eyes somehow positively glowing with depravity.

“Thank you for the gift, Bui,” he said quietly, laying a hand on said man’s shoulder guard.

Bui nodded, reached up to touch the brim of his hat and nod lightly. “I noticed it had been a while since one had caught your attention,” he mused, voice deep and thoughtful.

“Yes,” Karasu said, looking over his shoulder at the broken heap that Kurama made. He was silent for a moment, then turned back to Bui. He hooked a finger in the edge of his bandanna, pulled it up to cover the lower half of his face once more. “Zero can ride with Shishiwakamaru. Take Zero’s horse until we return to base and can alter one of the horses we captured here for you.”

Nodding solemnly, Bui remained where he was, watching Karasu. He’d known him long enough to know that there was something more coming.

“Find some clothes for Kurama, he’ll be ridding with you until we reach Gehenna.” He patted Bui’s shoulder, then hesitated once more. “A shame that you should lose such a great companion as Sachiko.” With a faint narrowing of his eyes that hinted at a smile, Karasu turned on his heel and headed back for the bar, his hands going to the pockets of his long coat. That coat had once been the colour of desert, only now it was black, smeared with blood and god knows what else. The leather had long since been conditioned to accept the dust and ash, welcoming it, turning its colour into a dark almost burgundy brown.

Bui bent at the waist, slid one large arm beneath Kurama’s small frame and lifted him from the ground. Unconscious as the boy was, he didn’t protest nor move as Bui slung him over his shoulder, keeping a hand on the back of the boy’s knees at his chest to be sure he didn’t slide off his shoulder.

He followed Karasu into the bar, wondering if one of the whore’s dresses would be good enough. Otherwise Bui would just take some clothes from the dead that littered the village.

Well, it needn't matter. Perhaps a coat would do.

-

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