Chapter Twenty-Four: Oto:

Daisuke looked at the pills in his hand as he sat in his home office. He played back everything Tai-sensei told him before he left the doctor’s office…

“In order for this to be effective, you must take one pill every six hours each day. These pills will not taste good. They will be completely bitter at first, but you will get used to the taste.”

“Alright,” Daisuke replied.

“Also, one of the biggest side effects is lightheadedness. If you are not careful these will knock you right out worse than any alcoholic drink could.”

“How long will I be out?”

“A couple of hours’ tops, but it won’t be anything too serious. Trust me, these pills are really effective. However, I must warn you. This is only a temporary fix; there is no telling if and when your body will start to reject them.”

Daisuke’s eyes widened in panic. “When could that be?”

Tai-sensei pushed up his glasses. “In most cases, it would take years for that to happen. It depends on how strong the kitsune’s hunger builds back up over time.” He noticed the color drained from his patient’s face. He gave Daisuke a calm smile. “There, there. You’re in good health, so it would probably be a long take before it hits. Come back and see me in six months, okay?”

Daisuke nodded rather uneasy. “Alright.”

The man placed the pill bottle in his hand back at desk. Take one every six hours for every day. Seems easy enough to remember, anything to keep Jin in check until I figure out a better plan to make this work. He opened the bottle and dumped a pill in the palm of his hand. He looked at the dark green oval-shaped capsule that seemingly stared back at him. Well here goes nothing, he closed his eyes and popped it into his mouth. The man shuddered at the taste.

Yuck! Daisuke reached over for a bottle of juice that he bought earlier in the day and washed down the vile pill. It took him about a minute to get over the taste. The man forced himself to smile. I have to do this, he thought, I am not a killer! He closed his eyes and drew in a long heavy breath. The lightheadedness didn’t waste any time, striking him only seconds later. My head hurts, Daisuke thought. The man felt like passing out. He had to struggle to get out of his chair. Daisuke felt the blood rushing to his head from the sudden movement.

Okay, maybe I should slow down here, the man thought. He walked over to his futon and collapsed into the sheets. The darkness was the last thing that he could remember swallowing him up.

Hours later, Daisuke drew open his eyes when he heard pounding on the front door from his office. Huh? He sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. The man wandered down to the front door.

“Who’s there?” he asked as he peeked out of the peep hole. He froze when he recognized an old eye from his past peeping in. An old lady dressed in black stood on the porch looking into the peep hole of the door. Alarm spread through Daisuke’s brain.

“Mother?” he asked. The old lady grinned and waved at him on the other side of the door.

“Hello, Daisuke,” Haruka replied through the closed door. Daisuke formed a quick shield with his fingers.

“What do you want?!?” he snapped as he pressed it against the door. “How the hell did you find me?!”

The old lady laughed at him on his porch. “You sad little fool! Did you really think that you could hide from me forever?”

“Yes!” her son yelled.

“I will always find you,” she hissed. “As long as you have my blood in your body, we are all connected until death. Though I must admit that was rather clever of you to hide out in that village on consummated ground like that. I didn’t expect to find you through your kitsune like that again.”

“I have nothing to do with you people!” Daisuke shouted. “I am not a murderer!”

“But you have to!” Haruka snapped. “How long before you have to feed that kitsune of yours?”

“That’s none of your business!” her son yelled with anger flaring in his eyes. His anger pushed him beyond his limits, forming a much stronger magical shield in front of him. Haruka all but laughed at his efforts.

“Oh, but it is,” she said. “You are my son after all.” The man hissed at her as he put more power into his shield.

“What do you want with me?” Daisuke asked as sweat formed on his brow. Haruka put up her hands and shrugged.

 “I just wanted to see my granddaughter,” she said ever so simply. Daisuke gritted his teeth while pushing even more magic into the shield in front of him.

“She is nothing to you!” he yelled. “Go away! Why can’t you just leave us alone?!?”

By this time, Anna was woken up by shouting at the front door from her room. She sat up in her bed and looked around in the darkness.

“What is going on out there?” she mumbled to herself. The thirteen-year-old girl climbed out of bed and wandered down the half-asleep. She came to the doorway of the living room and peeked out through squinted eyes. Daisuke was yelling at somebody at the front door, but she couldn’t see who it was. All she noticed that there was a blue light coming from his hands as he pressed them against the wooden door whilst yelling at someone on the outside. Her tired mind couldn’t grasp what she was witnessing before her.

“Papa?” she mumbled half-asleep.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” Haruka said on the outside. Something about the tone in her voice sent a chill up his spine as it dug up old memories of the pain that he endured for seventeen years. He shook his head of such misery.

I mustn’t break down, he thought. I have to stay strong! “And why is that?!?” the man yelled at his mother.

“Oh, don’t you know?” the old lady asked.

“Know what?!?” her son snapped.

“Your little baby’s soul is dragging us towards her,” Haruka said in ice-chilled tone. “There is no guarantee that we won’t keep coming back for her.”

“You’re lying!” Daisuke yelled.

“Oh, what?” his mother asked. “Did you really think that little sealing spell of yours would really hold up?”

Daisuke felt that shock in his very soul, but tried not to show it. “Go away! You have nothing to do with us anymore! If you don’t I will call the police and have you arrested for harassment!” The blue light of the shield completely coved the door by this point. Daisuke didn’t know how much longer his body could take all of this. Haruka simply put up her hands.

“Fine, fine,” she said, “I only wanted to pass that little message along away.” The old lady turned to leave, but then glanced over her shoulder. “This isn’t over yet, my disobedient son.” Daisuke listened for her footsteps as she left the porch. Once he was sure that she was gone, he drew back his shield and collapsed onto the floor panting.

“Damn it,” he muttered. “I hadn’t counted on using that much power like that.” He paused when he heard someone cry out for him. The man was horrified to see Anna running over to him.

“Papa? Are you alright?” she cried. Daisuke gave off a weak chuckle as he closed his eyes. Perfect, he thought. On top of all of this, my daughter just witnessed everything. He opened his eyes and shook his head.

“Yes,” he replied. “I’m sorry to have worried you like this.” He struggled to sit up, but Anna stopped him.

“Don’t get up,” she insisted. “Please just stay down.”

Her father pushed her hands away. “I’ll be fine.”

The look on his daughter’s face told him that she didn’t believe him. “What was that all about? You woke me up with all of the shouting. Who was that, Papa?”

"No one," he lied trying to put up his best smile for her. “I’m so sorry to have woken you up, honey.”

“What was that weird blue light coming from your hands?” she asked. Her father stopped her before she could ask any more questions.

“I’ll explain everything in the morning,” he brushed off. “Just help me, and take me back to bed please.”

“Okay…” Anna said uneasily. “Give me your hand.”

“I might not be able to stand too well,” he explained. “I might have to lean on you for a bit.”

“Just don’t crush me,” his daughter said.

“Alright on the count of three,” Daisuke told her once he put his arm around her shoulders, “Ready? One… Two… Three.” He felt wobbly-legged as he tried to stand back up. Anna did her best to keep from toppling over.

“Careful,” he told her.

“Yes,” she said in a low voice. As he walked down the hall to his room, that old sinking feeling came to Daisuke again. Anna was drawing his family to her. No, that couldn’t be right, could it? Was the shield that he placed inside of his daughter starting to break already? He knew it wouldn’t be that strong to begin with, but still. All of this reminded him that there were still some things that he needed to do to prepare Anna for the Hell approaching them.