Satsujin no Kokoro (A Killer’s Heart)
Author's Note: I wrote this tale nearly a year ago after inspiration came in the form of the video game "KILLER is DEAD". I decided that a twist was needed instead of the old cookie-cutter revenge tale, and thus came the choice to spin a yarn about what a man would do for love.
"Satsujin no Kokoro (A Killer's Heart)"
Every breath I take, every cup of tea I drink, every life that I take... it is all in the way of the warrior. That is Bushido. The doctrine of the Samurai.
The way of the Samurai is discovered in embracing death. The anticipation of imminent death is a daily routine. Every day without fail, one should consider oneself as dead. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai.
If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a samurai is, its basis lies first in seriously devoting one's body and soul to his master.
I serve a lord. He's been more than I can ask for in an employer. I was... misguided once upon a time and my lord showed me a way. He first put the sword in my hand, directing its blade against his enemies.
He asked, he directed, and I obeyed. I became Samurai under him.
In Bushido, one is considered constantly marching to his death. Nothing was to come between that, nor was there anything to impede the alliance and dependence of a samurai to his lord.
But there was one thing. One person. One woman. Her.
Women have proved to be more of a hindrance throughout my life. Working for my lord, I've found that the more people you love, the weaker you'll become. You'll do things for them that you know you shouldn't do. You'll act the fool to make them happy, to keep them safe.
I once played the fool. I strayed from my path. I betrayed my lord. All for a woman.
Her name was Mitsuru, and I was in love with her.
********************************************************"Hello?" Souichirou answered his cell. The blood on his blade was still fresh and his target's carcass was spurting his life essence.
"Is it done?" The voice asked, calm but firm.
"Any problems at all?" the voice of Sato exhaled as if he was blowing out cigarette smoke.
"My suit got some blood on it; that's all."
Sato, Souichirou's boss, laughed over the phone line. Souichirou himself cracked a smile, a rare occurrence due to his self-imposed stoicism. In his mind, Samurai barely laughed.
"Get yourself cleaned up and have a drink on me. Tomorrow, we'll settle up. Once again, good job."
"Hai." Souichirou ended the call and slid the phone into his pant pocket. He stepped out of the hotel room that once was white, now stained crimson as Souichirou departed without a second thought.
Kyoto was busier than usual this night. Heading into the Hanamachi Gion Kobu, Souichirou was met with a row of cars trying to get into Ichiriki Chaya, one of the most popular ochaya in Kyoto. The street was too crowded; parking his car, Souichirou walked the rest of the distance down Shijo Street and Hanami Lane, the heart of the Gion district.
On the outside of the Ichiriki Ochaya, the line to get in was substantially longer than he originally thought. They were mostly men, with a small number of women interspaced throughout the crowd.
They were all there to see her. A popular Geisha performer. Souichirou came to see her too, and due to his "standing", he had a better chance of seeing her a lot faster than these people did.
Souichirou walked up to the door, right past the people waiting in line, and stepped up to the doorman. Ignoring the growing complaints of the line, he pulled out a couple of cash notes and pressed it into the doorman's hand.
"Boss Sato wishes to compensate you for getting me a table expediently." Souichirou leaned in and uttered just loud enough for the doorman to hear him. As soon as the doorman heard Sato's name he immediately paid attention and politely accepted the money. Souichirou patted the doorman on the shoulder and went inside.
Immediately contrasting with the busy street sounds of Kyoto was a sultry slow music beat, giving Souichirou an alleviation to all the noise.
He tied a tuft into his shoulder length hair and continued into the house, which was standing room only. Despite this, there was a seat prepared for him near the center, giving him the right line of sight to see her.
She was finally here. A lovely young woman was on stage, one of Kyoto's more sensational Geisha, getting into one of her more well-known songs. As Souichirou listened to the lyrics, he felt as if they were directed at him.
The song continued; he locked eyes with the Geisha across the room, and Souichirou's heart instantly raced.
Another quiet tear, streaks down my face
Another night of desolation and solitude
Just accept me for what I am,
Don't make promises that you'll later refuse
Who needs dreams when we have each other?
Who needs tomorrow when we have today?
Let's indulge in bliss as long as it lasts
Let's get intoxicated...
The song soon ended, the crowd clapped, and the Geisha bowed before leaving the stage. The crowd was satisfied; waiting half of the entire night to hear her perform was worth it. Peeking back out into the crowd, the Geisha searched for the man whose eyes danced with her during her last song.
He was nowhere to be seen.
The Geisha continued into her dressing room, a frown that she was trying to hide present on her face. She sat in her chair to undo her hair and suddenly jumped as the figure of Souichirou stepped into view.
"Hello, Mitsuru." His voice was calm and unthreatening, but still, Mitsuru jumped.
"Souichirou! Don't sneak up on me like that; it's creepy!"
"Apologies, as well as for being late. I was... wrapped up in something."
She already knew who and what he is, as well as who he worked for. "Sato has you doing a lot more jobs lately." She sighed as she began to brush her hair.
"He's making a lot of moves, both here and in the States. He mentioned going to Indigo City for some business."
"Good. I need a vacation from him; I'll just tell him I got to work those days. More time for us." Mitsuru rubbed the back of her neck to relieve the tension from performing. She looked like she could use a healthy dose of TLC.
Souichirou cracked a smile and immediately corrected himself as Mitsuru stood and approached him. Slender, delicate arms wrapped around his neck, and a petite body pressed against his own. She noticed something slightly damp on his person as she embraced Souichirou; Mitsuru drew upon his suit jacket and saw the splotches of blood on his white buttoned shirt.
"What in the hell?" Mitsuru blurted out, suddenly surprised at the sight.
"Apologies once again. I was in such a hurry to see you, I overlooked changing my shirt." Souichirou placated himself while slightly bowing his head. Typical behavior, as he perceived it, of a Samurai.
Mitsuru sighed heavily. "I should've considered all the particulars when we started doing this."
Souichirou ignored her comment and reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a small black box. "I bought this for you earlier today."
Souichirou handed the box to Mitsuru and she opened it, her eyes lighting up when she saw the contents inside.
It was a ring with a medium sized diamond in it. "I want you to come away with me."
"Souichirou-kun, you know I can't. Sato is my Danna. He owns me." A Danna was the traditional patron of a Geisha, but Sato took it a few steps further in this case.
"If that is the case, then why are we doing this? Over and over again." Souichirou's voice grew a tone of distress as he pondered her reasons for beginning this affair. "Why do you tell me to come see you so much if you cared about Sato being your Danna?"
"Souichirou, you don't know how it is to be with Sato. He's controlling to say the least."
Mitsuru pulled down her kimono at the shoulder and Souichirou saw a long snaking scar that continued, hidden, into her clothing.
"When did he do this?" Souichirou questioned. He had no idea his lord was committing these acts of violence against the woman he loves.
"The last time we saw each other, last month. I told him that I thought about retiring from performing, and he did this. He didn't want to lose any money."
"I don't want you to get hurt anymore. Come away with me." Souichirou gently placed his hand on her shoulder and Mitsuru saw a look in his eyes that was new to her: one of genuine concern.
"Sato would track us down."
Souichirou paused before he spoke again; he didn't want to risk losing this woman. Right now, she was the only other thing he cared for, other than his way of life. "If...I took care of him, would you come away with me? If I made sure you were safe, then would you be my wife?" Souichirou knew exactly what this meant, what he was saying: he was going against everything that he has known for years. He'd willingly throw away his code of honor and betray his master for the sake of this woman.
"Do you know what you're proposing? Going after Sato, that's a steep price to pay just for me."
Souichirou turned to leave. Before reaching the door, he stopped briefly. "If it's such a price to pay, then I'll pay it gladly."
********************************************************Souichirou made it to the hotel with time to spare. Sato's flight to Indigo City wasn't for another hour. It'd be a flight he wouldn't make.
Two bodyguards were stationed on opposite sides of Sato's room door. He knew these two; he trained them, as well as the rest of the bodyguard detail. They were his most trusted men.
"Makihara-san! We didn't expect you to be back so soon!" One guard remarked as he let down his guard at the sight of his superior.
"Yeah, you finished that job in half the time we said you would." The second guard noticed the distraught look Souichirou's eyes tried to hide. "Makihara-san, what's wrong?"
"Didn't I teach you two...to never let down your guard!" Souichirou's hand whipped in and out of his jacket pocket like a shadow, producing a knife with a blade that's half as long as his forearm. Instantly he stabbed the knife deep into the second guard's lung, silencing him as the first guard was still processing what was happening. A kick snapped out to disarm the first guard, followed immediately by a second blow to the jaw that slapped his face violently in the opposite direction and broke the guard's neck.
Both guards dropped to the ground; the second guard was clinging on to life, drowning in his own blood. Gurgling, he managed to sputter, "Why?"
"It's nothing personal; I'm in love."
Souichirou knocked on the door and prepped his blade in a stabbing position. The door opened and immediately he gutted the guard that answered the door and kicked him back into another guard who reacted to the dying yelp. Souichirou moved in, retrieved his knife, and snapped the guard's arm in one deft movement. He took the knife, jammed it into his target's belly, and ripped a line across his sternum while simultaneously snapping the man's neck.
Sato, standing tall as Souichirou, balding, and completely taken off guard, ordered his remaining two guards to charge at the same time.
Souichirou evaded a punch and shoved his elbow into the man's face, breaking his nose before flooring him with a swift punch to the jaw. The second guard managed to connect a hit to Souichirou's back before the assassin switched his position to deliver a spinning back heel kick. The guard spun around once, surprisingly gaining momentum to attempt a roundhouse kick. Souichirou performed a 540' spin to dodge, letting loose a powerful kick at the apex of his spin that broke the guard's neck.
The guards groaned and breathed their last whimpers of life. It was just him and Sato now, and the air seemed to permeate tension that originated from Souichirou's pores.
"Souichirou, what in the hell are you doing?" Sato didn't seem angry at the least; his reaction sounded as one of surprise.
"You've been my lord for many years, Sato-sama. I'd support whatever endeavor you choose to undertake. But I never thought I'd see the day where you hurt a woman...the woman that I love."
"Who are you talking about?" Souichirou threw down a crimson and pink comb; Sato took one long look at the comb and nearly immediately the pieces fell into place. He couldn't mean her!
"I'm talking about Mitsuru. I don't want her involved in all of this. She deserves peace, and I'm willing to throw away everything for her."
"You betray me for a woman...MY WOMAN! I brought you into this life, Souichirou, and taught you everything! You betrayed me...you're no Samurai!" Sato erupted in a volcanic vomit of words laced with rage, pointing at his former student while taking gradual steps towards Souichirou.
This comment dissolved their partnership without question. Sato pulled out a knife of his own as Souichirou moved in, avoiding and defending against stabs and thrusts. Souichirou was fast but Sato, his own teacher, was much faster, connecting several powerful kicks and blows.
Sato moved in to stab Souichirou and the assassin quickly countered, attempting to wrest the knife away from Sato. It turned into a contest of strength as Souichirou fought to keep Sato from ramming the knife into his gut, a contest that Souichirou lost. Souichirou could feel the blood letting loose from his new wound and fought to break free, driving his fist hard into Sato's chest. A right cross to the face forced Sato back, drawing blood from his mouth.
Souichirou groaned; Sato knew exactly where to stab him and he knew he didn't have long before blood loss began to take hold. He charged in, kicking the knife away and quickly following up with a 540' kick. Sato countered with a spinning heel kick and knocked Souichirou into the hotel room wall, leaving a large crack in it.
Souichirou fought to stay up on his feet and bounced off of the wall, landing a flying spinning kick. The kick knocked Sato back and Souichirou quickly swept his leg, bowling the boss over. The boss smacked his head on a nearby desk, letting loose a good amount of blood.
Souichirou quickly moved in to attack as soon as Sato regained his composure, bringing a kick across his face that was quickly followed by a roundhouse kick. Souichirou retrieved his knife and furiously stabbed Sato in the chest, spraying blood everywhere. The walls and floor were stained crimson.
Sato struggled to stand, but his wounds were too grave. He was on his last legs. Souichirou found himself collapsing due to pain and let loose a loud grunt. He looked at his dying boss and suddenly, tears welled up in his eyes.
What have I done? I dishonored my lord as well as myself. I'm unworthy of being samurai.
Souichirou brought himself to a pained kneeling position and held his knife firmly with both hands. Lifting the knife upwards, he brought it down to further open the cut in his sternum when the weakened voice of his lord stopped him.
"Souichirou...don't. You were...blinded by love. Keep living. My time...is done. I'm...sorry." A death rattle sealed his fate. Souichirou could do nothing but drop his knife and stare at the corpse of his lord. This was his doing.
A new pain introduced itself into his back, reanimating Souichirou with a sudden sharp coldness. He lurched upwards before collapsing again, looking up to see...
...Mitsuru. She stood with Sato's knife in hand, a completely different look about her than her regular artisan gait. She was clad in black and red, her body was wrought with jumpy nerves.
"Souichirou-kun, stay the hell down. Please don't get up."
"Betrayal, Mitsuru. Why?" Souichirou groaned and struggled to stand but his knees turned to jelly.
"From the start, I've had to gently manipulate you, Souichirou-kun. I needed to sow those seeds in you, so when the time is right, you'd act without question. I'm sorry...but I don't love you in that way."
Souichirou froze. Heart break is a horrid thing. "But why?" Souichirou began to feel light-headed. He couldn't fight anymore.
"I don't want the life of a Geisha, nor the life of a Yakuza boss consuming my soul and controlling me. I know I promised a life with you, but in that promise I gave you my freedom, the one thing that I've truly desired this entire time. So now I must take back that promise. I hope you understand..."
Souichirou could feel cold hands welcoming him into the dark abyss. Mitsuru knelt down and planted a long kiss on Souichirou's lips.
"I will truly miss you." Mitsuru said before she fled the room. Souichirou was left there, frozen in pain and confusion.
He finally collapsed and as he felt towards the ground, blood accumulated to greet him as he allowed himself to be whisked away by the cold embrace. Souichirou laid there, motionless, covered in Sato's as well as his own blood.
****************************************Mitsuru had been a fugitive, cooped up inside a lavish hotel for a whole week. She was sure that Sato's associates were going to pursue and question her about the happenings of the night of the killings, so the best choice was to play it safe.
She found herself constantly thinking about Souichirou, how he respected and treated her, and how she betrayed him after the samurai attempted to ensure her safety. Mitsuru was consumed by guilt. Tears streamed freely down her cheek; she took on the persona of a cold and calculating woman who played the victim to get what she wanted and now she's alone. Mitsuru was free at last, but she was all alone as well.
With a bag of her essentials slung around her shoulder, Mitsuru left her apartment and hurried to the street where a taxi waited for her.
As she opened the door, Mitsuru thought she heard the sound of something being forced through compressed air while trying to be quiet, and quickly after, horrible pain struck her back. Her legs went slack and her body from the waist down chilled and numbed itself. Mitsuru looked down at her waist as she fought to stand up; there was a growing red blotch staining her shirt.
Her eyes went dark as she slipped away from the world.
Her body fell; his aim was precise and true. Looking through a rifle scope, Souichirou could see the taxi driver panic, stumbling around to get to a phone. Wincing in pain after having to re-adjust his sitting position, Souichirou proceeded to disassemble his sniper rifle, the stern and cold look from before never leaving his face.
Taking an enemy on the battlefield is like a hawk taking a bird. Even though it enters into the midst of a thousand of them, it gives no attention to any bird other than the one it first marked.
He walked away from the scene. He had a train to catch North and some new people to meet.
**************************************Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty. With martial valor, if one becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die.
I couldn't die just yet. Mitsuru betrayed me and my lord was dead, leaving me with no connection to Sato's coalition. I must regain my honor. I must seek out another master.
In the Kamigata area they have a sort of tiered lunchbox they use for a single day when flower viewing. Upon returning, they throw them away, trampling them underfoot. The end is important in all things.