It was Aras turn to watch as the brothers slept so he was the one Ryoko was striding angrily towords. He almsot couldn’t believe his eyes for a moment “Ryoko?” she sighed angrily once she was standing before him “Hello Aras, don’t worry my anger is not at you. Truly I;m grateful to you. Thank you for not leaving me in the dark. For having enough faith in my abilities to know you could tell me…for…” he didn’t know if she wanted to scream or cry, maybe it was both “anyway, I’ll stop talking. I’m bitter so I could ramble for hours and this is too grave of a situation for that. I knwo at first I said fuck Donat and a couple other nasty things but I…well….I have never stopped loving him. I hate him but I love him and I don’t know if you understand how sick it makes me inside. I couldn’t just keep living my life knowing what he was up against so I got to work gathering valuable information for you guys. Weakness’s what not…you know…that stuff I could have done from day one if given the chance…if given a choice in my own damn life”
Aras pulled her into a hug. He knew he might get stabbed but he didn’t care. He didn’t want to imagine her pain and he still loved her like a sister. “I’m sorry Ryoko, it was the truth when I told you he’s been hurting since he left you” She gently pushed Aras away after letting him hug her a few moments “I really don’t care. Screw him hurting. We didn’t have to break up. Thats what he wanted and decided for us without talking to me about it. He obviously never loved me the way I thought he did and I wont hear you defend him”
Aras nodded “I also still stick by he was a moron Ryoko. You deserved honesty from him”
“Damn right I did”
“This information, what is it?”
“I know their whole schedule for the next two months so we can plan on an oppotune time to strike against them and yes we. I’m helping weather he wants it or not. I don’t even care if he’s found another girlfriend and shes here with him I’m helping because I love him and I couldn’t live with myself if he died and I had done nothing to help him in this situation. I will help and then he’ll never see me again. I’m going to move to another world, one where I’ll be sure I never cross Donat again. One of my friends is going to help me get set up there”
“I understand Ryoko. I’m glad you’re here. We could have probably gotten much further into ending this or even have been done with it by now if he would have let you help”
“I’m glad you have a brain Aras”
“Ryoko, I swear he loved you” she rolled her eyes and pointed to a tree “I’ll be sleeping there. “wake me when they wake so I can explain everything I know”
“Aras…seriously…thank you. i really liked you and missed you when Donat left me. You and your other siblings are the brothers I never had”
“we feel the same about you, though replace brothers with sister” She gave a sad, worn down smile. It ached him to see in her face all the pain she had been in. Before all this she had been such a happy spirit. It almost made him want to cry to see her so far from what she had been. Ryoko climbed in the tree and saw a glimpse of the sleeping Donat. He looked so peaceful, so fine without her. She sighed, feeling like an idiot. Nobody had fooled her until Donat and she would never let it happen again.
Donat jerked awake the moment the sun touched the horizon. It was out of habit and he sat up, blinking the sleep from his eyes. He knew something was off when he saw the look on Aras’s face. Something had happened. His immediate thought was of Ryoko. If something had happened to her even after all he had done, he would hate himself even more than he already did.
“Aras.” He said. “Are you alright, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Aras pointed to the tree Ryoko was in and Donat stood up, his eyes wide and mouth open. “sit down Donat”
“why is she here?” he whispered urgently. “remember last year when I took a small break from this to visit the grave of my wife and child. I did honestly go but after I tracked her down and did what you should have done. I told Ryoko the truth about why you left her. She is a strong and smart woman Donat. She is an aide to us and even if she wasn’t I think almost sixty two years of a relationship gave her a right to actually know why you left her so suddenly. Donat you ripped apart her heart. When I was told where she was I found her just sitting by a lake bawling her eyes out. I know you’ve missed her and you did what you did out of love but be understanding because she is angry and hurt. I wouldn’t go over there and bother her. She’s going to talk to us anyway when shes up about all she’s figured out. Just from what she told me last night she has very valuable information. She has their entire schedule for two months.”
Donat just stared at her, his beautiful Ryoko resting in the tree. His bottom lip trembled as his heart twisted. He suddenly felt Aras rest a hand on his shoulder “I hope you’re not mad at me brother but I think you’ll come to accept I did the right thing in telling her. These are dangerous men but Ryoko, she’s a dangerous woman. A dangerous woman who will always love you”
Ryoko woke to the smell of food and soft chatter. She sat up, stretching and looked over at the men who were sitting around the fire eating. Her eyes were instantly drawn to Donat and he must have felt her gaze because he glanced at her. She quickly looked away and climbed down, her heart beating furiously in her chest. After all this time, he still had the same effect on her. She did and didn’t want to speak to him, but she knew this had to be done. Aras gave her a nervous smile as he held out a bowl with eggs and ham.
“Good morning.” He said. “You should eat, you’ll need the energy.”
Ryoko quickly ate her food then said ” I got here really late last night so I figured it would be best to give you my information In the morning. Are you all up to speed on Aras telling me what’s going on a few months back?” Hideki looked a bit nervously at Donat “well everyone knew but Donat that he was going to tell you. We all thought from the start you should know Ryoko”
“Yeah so please don’t hit us” another one of his brothers added. “I was just wanting to see if I needed to catch anybody up. Anyways, all this time I’ve been doing what I do best, gathering information.” She started going on and on, giving them every bit of information she knew no matter how small so they could plan as strategically as possible. “Damn Ryoko, you never stop surprising me” Hideki said in aw.
“Just doing my job.”
“And you’ve always been good at it, we’re glad to have you aboard.” Aras added.
Ryoko glanced at Donat who was steadily watching her. “I’m happy to hear it. We can move anytime.”
“Well we know we can’t hit them head on, that would be too obvious.” Hideki said. “What do you think Donat?”
He cleared his throat, needed a moment to decide what to say. Having Ryoko around made him nervous. He missed her so much and felt bad over breaking up with her but he had no idea how he should even begin with her now that she was back in his life. He pushed those thoughts to the side for a moment, now he really needed to get this problem he had unintentionally caused himself. Now Ryoko could get hurt and he’d rather die a long torturous death than have her harmed. “I think the best time to try and attack is when he gets his liquor delivery to his mansion. He gets some delivered twice a month without fail right Ryoko?”
“To that location yeah”
“we could steal the trucks so we can get by his guards. If this has really gone on for years I doubt they pay much mind to the trucks.”
“Seems logical but we are pretty far from the mansion that gets those deliveries and if we don;t make it by next shipment the other is long off. That gives them a lot of time to find us instead of us finding them”
“True, I mean, you” he shuffled nervously talking to her which made him feel even weirder. Until he was a complete dumb ass nobody made him more comfortable than Ryoko. “You and I have pulled off some serious hustle when we’ve needed to Ryoko. No time crunch has ever been too much for you and I”
‘well good to know you remember something of my skill. I’ll go for this plan if you think your brothers can keep up with us”
‘we can, our brothers life is in danger. We’ll force our bodies along if we need to Ryoko”
“Well lets get going boys.I know a good way we can take from here.”
The path was old and looked like it hadn’t been used in quite some time. The ground was muddy and their boots stuck in it every couple of steps, but the roundabout route kept them from being detected. Donat watched Ryoko as they walked, wanting to talk to her, to apologize, to say anything at all. He forced himself forward where she lead his brothers and she didn’t even bother to look at him. “Ryoko?”
“What is it?” Her voice was cold.
“Could we talk?”
“Unless it has something to do with this mission, then no.”
Donat looked at his feet. “No it doesn’t, sorry for bothering you.”
He dropped back behind his brothers and Ryoko took a deep breath. She didn’t know why he was bothering to try now in the middle of all this. She didn’t think he had the right to look sad, but he did and she had been somewhere between hitting him and hugging him. It wasn’t fair the feeling she still had for him, the way her heart betrayed her the moment she was faced with him again.
They followed Ryoko without complaint when she didn’t bother to stop for lunch. Donat had expected it but his brothers weren’t used to doing that. Either way they didn’t complain and diligently followed her. They had just turned on to an even rougher looking path than they started on and Ryoko warned “Donat and I have been this way before so he is aware but this area is loaded with snakes. There’s other creatures too but you only need to worry about the snakes. Please be careful, we don’t have the time for one of us to get bitten”
“we’ll be careful”
“Where we will come out is plentiful with fruit. I promise we’re going to eat in max two hours. I know how hard it is on you to be hungry Hideki.” She sounded honestly apologetic in the end and it made Aras laugh while Hideki said with crossed arms “I haven’t whined once”
“But you do look like you’re near death. You’ve been pitiful ever since you noticed she wasn’t going to stop earlier” Donat pointed out and Hideki glared at his brother. Ryoko half smiled, she had missed this so much. It was hard not only losing Donat but loseing the men she felt were her brothers. She cleared her head and focused back on the mission. She would be leaving this world after she helped Donat and that meant never seeing them again either. “Just keep in mind we’ll be walking and eating”
Hideki was so happy when they made it to the fruit, that he didn’t thank Ryoko until he had a mouthful of it. It made her laugh and he blushed in embarrassment. They all took a couple of minutes to gather some and then they were off again. “Where does this path end?” Aras asked.
“Before the first checkpoint. The trucks have to hit three of them so we’ll ambush them before they get to the first one.”
“Three? Are you sure they won’t notice?” Hideki asked after he swallowed.
“They won’t notice, I promise. All they need is to recognize the trucks, not the drivers.”
“You and I can take point in the first truck, Hideki and Aras can follow in the second. Less questions will be asked if we take the lead.” Donat said. He was trying to be business like in his approach with her, but even he could hear the depression in his voice. “If you don’t mind that is.”
“Sounds like a good plan.”
Donat felt a little hopeful. They’d be in a car alone and maybe he could use that time to get her to hear his apology. He didn’t deserve her forgiveness but regardless she deserved an apology from him. They discussed his two other brothers just going home once they obtained the trucks. If they bothered to check the backs they knew two extra men hiding would alert them. Ryoko assured them that this would be the end, she’d make sure of it no matter what she had to do. Bartosz, worried if he’d see her again and now knowing his time with her was very limited he went ahead and asked “What’re you doing after this Ryoko? You know…just because you aren’t with our brother doesn’t mean you can’t see us”
“well, I was planning on moving to another world. One of my friends is going to help me get set up there. I can come back and visit though. I promise I will if you guys do really want to see me still”
“Please do, make sure I know where you end up living please”
“I will” Emeryk joined the conversation and Donats heart sunk. She was planning on moving to another world and the thought about destroyed him as they walked along.
The trail took a sudden slope downward and and they all managed to stay on their feet as they slid to the bottom, coming to a stop in some thick underbrush. “They should come right here.” Ryoko said as she gestured for them to duck down.
“Are you sure you want us leaving?” Emeryk asked. “We can still find a way to get us in.”
“If you want to help, then follow the trucks on foot, maybe take out the middle check point. You can wear their uniforms to blend in. It’ll make our escape easier if we have you monitoring things from there.”
“How do you want to play this?” Donat asked.
“I’ll just run out there and pretend like they hit me with the truck, they’ll be confused.”
“Just be careful, they may not stop in time.”
“I’m not a dainty flower Donat. I’ll be fine” He sighed “Ryoko, I know you’re not and I know you’re angry and I’m not saying you don’t have a right to be but I can’t help but worry about you in situations like these”
“how did you manage to date me for so long with what I do for a living? I piss plenty of people off. Not this level of bad people but still.” He groaned “I worried all the time”
“but I always came back and in one piece ”
“I know but you’re my world Ryoko”
“don’t you say that. You left me”
“save it Donat. We need to lay low and be quiet.. I don’t want to fight about this in front of your brothers anyway and they can’t really leave us right now. I’m sure they feel awkward already”
“It’s fine Ryoko, please, talk it out as much as you two want.” Aras said and Donat responded “No, she’s right, we need to be concentrating..” He looked so heartbroken again which also had her wanting to both punch him and kiss his sadness away. It was so much easier to hate him before spending time with him again.
The sound of the trucks soon broke the silence and Ryoko prepared herself. “They’re getting close, just turned the corner.” Hideki whispered. Ryoko shifted her feet a little. “Now.”
She jumped out and the lead truck slammed on his brakes, the tires sliding in the mud as he came to a stop an inch from her. The men inside did just what she knew they would, the exited, looking bewildered and concerned.
The five brothers waited until they were consumed in seeing if Ryoko was okay to take them by surprise. While killing them would ensure the men wouldn’t inform anybody about what happened none of the brothers killed unless it was absolutely necessary. They knocked them out cold and stole their clothing before dragging them into the underbrush. Emeryk chanted a spell to keep them sleeping long enough for this stunt to work then they all loaded into the delivery trucks. “are you okay?” Donat asked as soon as they started moving “It didn’t hit me”
“can we talk more about us?”
“after this check point coming up I guess. It seems to be unavoidable.” Her tone was angry and still held that pain that was twisting his heart. He would feel bad no matter what she was sad about but it was him that hurt her and it had been weighing on his soul since the day he broke up with her. At the first check point one of the inspectors said “First time I’ve seen a female in these trucks”
“I told them to hire me or I’d kill them.” The inspector laughed “You have spunk, I’m sure this guy doesn’t mind riding with a hottie anyway. Either way I’m going to need some verification you’re supposed to be on this delivery, you two sir. I don’t know you either” They took these guys out just like the others, hid their bodies and had Emeryk make sure they stayed asleep.
“I was surprised they asked.” Donat said as they drove away.
“Hopefully they won’t make a fuss over us at the others.”
“I doubt it, we’ve made it through one, they probably won’t question us again.” He sighed then turned to her. “Ryoko, I’m sorry for hurting you.”
“How can you even begin to say that?” Her voice was already shaking.
“Because it’s the truth. Hurting you, I didn’t want to, but I knew if these monsters got a hold of you, it wouldn’t just be you dying, it would mean they would rape and torture you and it would be my fault. I wasn’t going to let them take you because of me.”
“You mean you had so little faith in me you would have rather seen me broken and hurt by you.”
“I know what you can do Ryoko, but these men, they’re not like others. They show no hesitation, no mercy. It was hard for me to…”
She wasn’t sure how she managed to hold the steering wheel and slap him, but she did it. She was shaking and angry and wanted to hit him again. He waited, giving her time to decide, but she couldn’t do it. She clenched the steering wheel, her eyes focusing ahead again. “It was hard for you? What about me, what about the tears I shed over you, what about the sick twisting in my stomach and the rage? What about that? What about the years we spent together just thrown away because you wouldn’t trust me?” She felt herself choke up and she quickly wiped at the tears filling her eyes.
“I’m sorry, so sorry for everything, sorry for betraying everything that we were. I need you to know that you are and will always be the love of my life, that no matter what, there will be no other. I’ll live with this shame forever.”
Ryoko wanted to say so many thing but couldn’t speak. She was gripped by her heartbreak and anger. She was less angry but it was still there. She managed to dry it up and look normal through the next checkpoints but Donat knew her too well not to still see the inner turmoil. Ryoko suddenly stopped just a few miles out from the house “Donat” she said with a long pause falling after. He just looked at her, waiting patiently for whatever she had to say to him. After a shakey inhale and exhale she said “I love you..I…I have hated so much that I still love you but it won’t go away. I love you and I’ve missed you so much” silence fell again as she struggled to talk. Donat continued to say nothing, knowing she was just struggling to speak.
“I…before we go in here I just need you to know incase I do die that I don’t want you to be alone forever…thats…thats ridiculous…. I don’t want to die thinking you’d do that to yourself. You’re a man of your word Donat. I know if you tell me you’ll be alone forever you’ll be alone forever…don’t do that…”
“Without you, I will always be alone, don’t you know that? I could never give my heart to another woman.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I do because if you die, then I die.” Feeling brave, he took her hand. “I love you, Ryoko, forever. Even if I never see your face again, I will love you and only you.” He let her go, not wanting to linger too long in case she pulled away. “We should go before they get suspicious.”
“You know me, once I make up my mind, it’s hard to make me change it.”
It was a bitter laugh but she laughed “you know…that was one of my favorite things about you when we were together”
“Ryoko…if you’ll ever have me again. I’m yours. I don’t deserve you but that does nothing to quell my need for you. I have missed you every moment of every day since I broke up with you.”
“No more of this Donat. I came here to kill these men so they wont kill you”
“Thank you” They were welcomed in the gate and pulled up to where she knew the cars were supposed to park. This was it, they were here. Dead in the middle of the worst group of people this world hosted. She was determined not to fail, they all were. The place was heavily guarded so they started bringing the stuff in like they were supposed to, getting some of them inside and the ones that would start outside spread out. Emeryk would stay outside. He was the only one with powerful magic and his magic would be the best at taking out more targets at once. They knew they would be overwhelmed if they didn’t take care of all the men outside first.
Bartosz and Hideki were the ones who started attacking from the inside while the other two brothers and Ryoko began their fight outside. “Eeryk began chanting and moving his hands and arms in fast, definitive movements. Instantly nature began bending to his will adn he was taking out man by man while simultaneously protecting his family from bullets. Ryoko knew that he had even said a protective spell on Batosz and Hideki before they entered to keep them safe while they fought.
Donat wanted their leader and that was what he focused on as he cut through the enemy. Some of them recognized him and didn’t hesitate to attack him. He wanted to check that Ryoko was okay, but he made himself go forward. She had wanted him to trust her, so he would. He knew she wasn’t weak. Ryoko’s daggers blocked and slashed as her body twisted away from enraged men. She could tell that they had skill and that they fought to kill, not to disarm. She could also tell that they were far more interested in her than was appropriate and that if she did fail to block an attack and survived, she would be shown no mercy. She wondered how many victims they had had, if any of them were still on the premises and if they would be willing escape.
When they had defeated everyone outside they went inside to help Bartosz and Hideki who were to all their relief still fighting and looking relatively unharmed. Hideki had a shoulder wound but from what they could see it wasn’t that bad. Ryoko was surprised that even with all the magic Emeryk had used outside his spells had lost none of their power and he didn’t look the least bit tired. His magic was amazing before but it had seemed to grow even more in these little over three years. As Ryoko took out another man she looked around for Donat and couldn’t find him in the room with her. She wondered if he had been forced away or if he was actually trusting her to take care of herself.
She didn’t have much time to ponder it before she was fighting again. Aras came running past the room she ended up in “you okay Ryoko?” he yelled “Yeah” she answered and he took off. Donat had now found the boss and was staring him down “You have the nerve to come here?”
“You’ve been trying to kill me”
“You cost me millions”
“I saved a womans life. I didn’t take millions from you I took a human being and let her go home”
“You know we killed her anyhow right?”
“it’s part of why I’m here to kill you. You and your men, you’re sick assholes”
“I won’t be the one dieing today Donat Bryga and even if you DO win today, we’re just supposing. I have sons under me in different locations. Even if they don’t care about the money you lost me they’ll care you killed me, a price will still be on your head”
“I’m sure Ryoko has a plan to handle that when this is over”
“she’s none of your concern unless she enters this room, then she might gut you before I can” He laughed “a woman, gut me?’ Donat took his laughing fit as an opportunity to attack. He knew it wasn’t fair fighting but this man didn’t deserve a fair fight.
Another man fell before Ryoko and she was off again, her eyes still searching for Donat. “Where is Donat?” She asked Hideki when she came upon him.
“He ran ahead, probably looking for their leader. Be careful, he’s more dangerous than these guys.”
Ryoko trusted Donat, but he didn’t have to face the leader alone. He had made it a point to let her know how dangerous these men were. The sound of clashing blades hit her ears as she drew closer to the room where Donat was fighting against a man who was probably much tougher than the ones she had helped dispatch. The door was open and she rushed in, sliding to a stop. Both of them were covered in blood, their clothes torn. Donat had been stabbed in the side while the gang leader was bleeding from his thigh.
She caught the attention of the leader who licked his lips lustfully despite whatever pain he was in “Is that your Ryoko” Donat took another cheap shot while he was distracted by her. “You fucker!” the man cursed and Donat spat angrily “don’t you fucking lick your lips at her!”
“What, she’s not yours, she can’t be. In all our clashes I’ve never seen her”
“We used to be together dick head” Ryoko retorted, getting ready to help Donat fight. “why are you here then if you two aren’t dating now”
“None of your business” she yelled as she ran to attack him. She wanted to end this quickly before Donat lost too much blood.Donats adrenaline was pumping even harder now that Ryoko was in the room. There was no way in hell he’d let this monster spill any of Ryoko’s blood.
She was fast, but he was faster and he interceded, blocking a blow from the leader’s blade. He shoved him back, giving him a look of death. “I don’t care how mad it makes you Ryoko, but I’m not letting you fight him. Not because I don’t trust your skill, but because I know his.”
“I love you Ryoko, really and truly love you and I would rather die than let him harm a single hair on your head.”
Ryoko felt that old fluttering in her chest and choked up. “I…I can’t lose you.”
“You won’t, I promise. Just be ready to haul me out of here once he’s dead.”
“Oh how cute, you think you two are going to get out of here. Wrong, I won’t even kill you, I’ll just make you watch while I torture her.”
Donat fought ferociously, he had more to lose now than he had in the past four years, now Ryoko was at risk. It made him smarter and faster as he would attack and defend. The match before her was hard to watch, there was far too much blood.
Donat finally landed a blow in the perfect place on the leaders neck. Blood spewed everywhere, even all over Ryoko. Ryoko didn’t give a damn, she barely even noticed. All she cared about right now was if Donat was okay. She ran to him and screamed for his brothers.
They came running and Ryoko gave him a brief kiss on the lips ” don’t you dare die! Live and I’ll kiss you again”
“I love you too.” He managed a little half smile as his legs gave out and she helped him lay down. “Damn I’m tired.”
“You’re going to be okay.”
“I know, I’ve got you, that’s better than okay.” His brothers came running in, all of them covered in blood.
“We have to get him out of here.” Aras said as he and Hideki pulled him up.
“He’s bleeding out, we’ll take one of the trucks.” Hideki replied.
“I’ll drive, Hideki can ride up front with me just in case.” Bartosz said.
“We have to stop his bleeding.” Ryoko’s heart felt like it was being twisted.
“We will as soon as we’re on the road.” Eeryk said. “I’ll close his wounds as quickly as possible.”
They got him to the truck as quickly as they could manage. Once driving away from that horrible mans mansion Emeryk tended the wounds as Ryoko held one of Donats hands between hers. Donat struggled to keep his eyes open. The only reason he was honestly able to hold on at all was that Ryoko was there. She was there and it seemed like he might have a chance with her again if he just held on and thats all he needed to cling to his life. “Emeryk” Ryoko said through her tears “I’m trying Ryoko, his body is so weak it’s not responding well to my healing magic. Bartosz cursed at the uneven rode. It was undoubtedly making Donat hurt worse and the jerking movement couldn’t be helping his condition. By the time they arrived in a civilized area Emeryk had managed to stop the bleeding but Donat was still in rough shape and now passed out.
As drenched as they all were in blood the inn keeper was afraid of the men. They didn’t know if they could get a room or not until he recognized Ryoko. “Ryoko?”
“Hey Tyson, please, we need a room and a medical professional”
“Yes, right away” he gave them keys then promised Ryoko he’d be right back. The brothers carried Donat to the room they had been given and laid him on a bed. Ryoko snuggled up to him, tears streaming down again. “who is the keeper of this Inn Ryoko?”
“I’ve done two jobs for him. The last one I took a considerably smaller payment than normal. I felt for his situation. I tried to do it for free but he insisted on paying me something”
“so we can trust him?”
“I’m sure we can. I am aware this isn’t fully over and we have to be weary. He’s a good man, he’s really gone to get a medical professional” The brothers just watched them with heavy hearts, glad to soon hear the frantic pounding of the owner. He and who they assumed was here to take care of Donat came in.
“How much blood has he lost?”
“Who are you?” Aras asked.
“Kaiden, now answer me.”
“We don’t know.” Ryoko answered. “He was bleeding pretty bad on the way here, Emeryk barely managed to close his wounds.”
“We’ll just say almost all of it then.” Kaiden opened the bag he had brought with him and pulled out a tube with needles on either end. “If we don’t give him blood then he will die.” He rolled up his sleeve and stuck a needle in his own arm then did the same to Donat.
“Wait, isn’t that dangerous? You could make him sick or kill him.” Bartosz said in protest.
“Not for me, it’s one of my gifts.” He opened the tube and his blood started flowing toward Donat.
“What do you mean?” Hideki asked worriedly.
“My blood always matches that of my patient no matter who they are or where they come from.” He raised his eyes, looking at Emeryk. “You know magic right?” Emeryk nodded. “Good, he’s going to have a fever. I’m guessing you know how to mix up something that will keep it under control. He’ll need help drinking it, he’ll be weak for a few days.”
“Thank you Kaiden” Ryoko said emotionally. When the medic left the room the inn owner asked ” did you all want to stay in one room? I still owe Ryoko a lot. Another would be free of charge”
” We’d only stay in another room if a room right by this one was available” Aras answered. ” Only the one to the left is open”
“Then leave Ryoko and Donat to themselves and us four will share the second room. Ryoko, be sure to scream at the top of your lungs if anything happens. We cleared that mansion out but still, be on alert” Bartosz said. ” I think I should stay and help Ryoko keep an eye on Donat.” Emeryk interjected.
” He’s right guys, I know you were trying to give us privacy but Emeryk knows more than me when it comes to stuff like this” Ryoko answered.
Everyone said goodnight and Emeryk made himself a bed on the floor. Ryoko was too worried to sleep so she stayed awake, running her fingers through Donat’s hair and talking softly to him. “He’ll pull through, try to rest.” Emeryk said.
“I’m terrified of losing him.”
“He feels the same and he does hate he hurt you, it’s all he’s thought about.” He then chuckled. “Though if I were you, I’d milk that sorry as far as I could.”
“Emeryk, he’s sick.”
“I know, but I have to poke fun at him, it’s my job as his brother. Get some sleep okay, I’m right here.”
“Thank you.” She snuggled as close to Donat as she could.”I love you, you fool, I really do, so wake up soon.”
He woke around three am, the slight movement waking Ryoko. “Donat?” she asked in concern and he answered “Where are my brothers?”
“Emeryk is on the floor and your other brothers are in the room beside us”
“I was hoping we were alone”
“I’m just here to give you medicine. Don’t mind me”
“How’re you feeling?” Ryoko immediately asked. He gave her a warm smile “I couldn’t feel better…..you stayed in here with me”
“well if you lived I did promise to kiss you again”
“No sex guys!” Emeryk said louder than he intended. Donat laughed. It sounded so weak it didn’t give her the normal joy it had always stirred in her before now.l
“You know, I will get up and toss you out.”
Emeryk rolled his eyes. “You’re about as threatening as a box full of kittens.”
“They have…claws and teeth.”
“Stop arguing with your brother, you need rest.”
“Can you help him set up?”
Ryoko gently lifted him into a setting position while Emerk mixed up a potion for pain and fever. He helped his brother drink it then Ryoko laid him back down. “The others alright?”
“Yeah, not a scratch that I saw.”
“Good and you?”
“Can I have that kiss now? I think that asshole gave me a sedative.”
“Damn right I did, you need sleep.” Emeryk said as he settled back down.
“yeah” Ryoko answered and moved in to kiss him. She felt a slight tremble in his lips as he began to kiss her which tugged at her heart. He really had missed her as much as his brothers claimed. Emotion almost had her crying as their lips moved against eachothers and he began to hold her to him. They weren’t married so she didn’t know what he was feeling but she could tell anyway that he was kissing her like he might not get another chance. She could feel his sadness, could feel how sorry he was and how much it hurt him to think she might never fully forgive him and take him back. “damn it” he said sadly as he finally parted their lips “what?” Ryoko asked “I..ha..hate you Emeryk” he had barely managed to get the words out before he was sleeping again.
“I can’t believe he stayed awake as long as he did. I knew it would take quite a bit of sedative to get him down but damn, he really hung in there” Emeryk said to Ryoko in a sleepy voice.
Ryoko gave a small smile and kissed Donat’s cheek before settling into bed. She watched him until her eyes grew too heavy to keep open and she fell asleep. It was ten in the morning when she was woke by knocking on her door and she sat up, her hand going to her dagger. Emeryk was in a crouching position, ready to cast spells. “Who is it?” She called.
She breathed a sigh of relief. “Come in.” The door pushed open and Aras stepped in then closed it. He had a tray with food and drinks on it.
“I brought you breakfast. Man he’s out cold.”
“I might have sedated him.” Emeryk said as he helped his brother with the food. He handed Ryoko a plate of pancakes and a cup of coffee then took his own.
“He woke up?”
“Yeah, you know how he is, stubborn as an ox.”
“He made sure we were all okay.” Ryoko sighed. “I wish we could clean him up, all that dry blood, it looks awful.”
“When he wakes again, I’ll help you get him in the tub.” Emeryk said. “How is everyone else?”
“Good, worried as am I. If he ever does something like that again, I’ll strangle him.”
Ryoko ate her breakfast then Emeryk convinced her to take a shower. She knew she looked pretty bad herself with all that dry blood on her so it wasn’t very hard to get her in there. “so they kissed a pretty long time” Emeryk commented when he heard the shower start ‘They’ll get back together. They love eachother too much not to. They were a pretty enviable couple those sixty plus years. ” Aras answered. Aras collected their dirty dishes then left the room again. They ended up having to stay a few more days for Donat to be back to his normal self but once he was completely better they gathered in Ryoko’s room to discuss their next move. Ryoko and Donat sat close together though they still weren’t a couple again. Things were rekindling but it was still hard for Ryoko to start that fire again. It had hurt too much when he extinguished it the first time.
“So we need to take out his youngest son first. From the intel I gathered he doesn’t want to do the work he does. His fther didn’t give him a choice. It was family business or death. Now I know everybody always has a choice but imagine growing up with an evil dad THAT powerful. He wants to be a good man and I really think we can sway him to turn on his family.” Ryoko said and it was clear fast Donat didn’t like the plan. “Ryoko, that’s too much of a risk.”
“Donat, we’ve never killed anybody unless we had to. We don’t have to kill the youngest son. I won’t kill him unless we can’t persuade him.” He sighed “and I bet you want to be the one to talk to him”
“I know more about what he’s been through. I need to be the one to talk to him”
“we will surround her Donat. You know none of us would let Ryoko get hurt. We all love her” Bartosz said causing Donat to run his fingers through his hair in frustration “okay but if he tries to harm you it’s over” Donat said, looking over at Ryoko. “I know I he wants to be good Donat. He hates the life his father has forced him to lead.” Donat nodded “well lets check out and get this part done.”
“we’ll check out, you and Ryoko make sure we didn’t forget to pack anything” The brothers left leaving Ryoko and Donat alone in their room. She took his hand “Donat, let me talk to him okay. Don’t get paranoid and ruin everything when I try. I’ll be okay” He surprised her when he tugged her into a hug “I just can’t see you hurt Ryoko. Your safety is everything…I love you so much..I’m sorry about how I went about protecting you at first, I really am but I can’t take it back….I will do my best to be patient when we face the youngest son but be patient with me too…I’m only the way I m because of how much I adore you. Nothing is more precious than your life”
She hugged him back. Most of her anger had died out, especially after seeing him so close to death. It reminded her of how much her heart needed him. “I forgive you Donat..I do…I just” He kissed her head “will you kiss me again…I need it,…please” She couldn’t resist the desperation in his voice and let him kiss her. The kiss was passionate and she lost herself in it. The brothers came back while they were still kissing but just waited outside the door, knowing one of them would sense their presence and come out when they were back to reality. They were both breathless when they stopped. That same electricity and amazing sensation had rushed through them just like they were them again, like if he had kissed her the day before the break up. They were and would always be soulmates and Ryoko threw away what was left of her inhibition.
“Donat…prove to me you trust me…let me talk to him without you intervening and I’ll be with you again” His eyes almost instantly grew damp “damn it woman”
“Is that a yes?”
“Of course…I just need you back Ryoko” She hugged him again “all I need is for you to let me do this”
“My brothers are waiting and now I’m in even more of a hurry” she nodded, smiling up at him before walking out of the room. They bought a few horses and hurried on their way. Cars weren’t a common form of transportation so they’d need horses for a few of the ways they’d need to go to get there. They ate and rested only when the horses needed rest up until they were mere hours from the youngest sons mansion. They stopped and took a long break, all resting up and eating well so they’d be on the top of their game.
“So we’ll take out the guards, we know they can’t be reasoned with.” Hideki said. “Aras and I will head around back while you four go through the front door.”
“I’ll make sure to put protective spells on all of us.” Emeryk added.
“Ryoko and I will go straight for the son, Emeryk, Bartosz, you stay right behind us at all times.” He sighed. “And don’t hurt the son.” His brothers nodded. “Ryoko, please stay by my side. I know you want to talk to him, but just don’t run off.”
“I won’t, I promise.”
“Thank you, I’m trying, I really am.”
“I know baby, just trust me.”
He held her face with his left hand and stroked her cheek, admiring her for just a moment before they all finished getting ready and completed their journey to the mansion. Donats heart pounded as they put their plan to action. He hoped Ryoko was right about this son, that he could be saved and Ryoko wouldn’t end up hurt by him. Almost all the brothers sustained injury here but none were bad enough to worry over. When Ryoko and Donat broke into the sons room he was ready, sword drawn but there was something about his stance. It was protective, like he was more interested in keeping the collared girl on his bed safe than anything else. Ryoko knew at least one of the rumors was true. The girl on the bed was a present to Jedreck about five years back but he wasn’t abusing her like his father thought, he just made it look like he did. From the information she gathered any bruising or marks were all just make up and that collar she wore that attached to the chain on his bed she could remove herself.
“Jedrick, please, I just want to talk”
“Yeah fucking right. My fathers been trying to kill that man”
“But not you, I’m Ryoko, do you know what I do for a living”
“You are an intel person. I think my dad tried to hire you once”
“Yeah, I am…I know about everything. When I was gathering information to help Donat I learned you aren’t like the rest of your family… Minka…stand up…I know you can” She looked at Jedrick, obviously not sure what to do” he seemed to relax but he still held tight to his sword “go ahead Minka” she took her collar off and stood just behind Jedrick. Donat was wide eyed, doing his best not to let his mouth gape. “I know you’re good and we don’t want to kill you. We want to save you Jedrick”
“But my brothers, it wasn’t just him making me live this way”
“we’re taking care of them next. Please, put your sword in its’ sheath. We want you and Minka to come with us and start real life once we get rid of your family” A long silence hung and he looked at Minka “do you want to trust them?”
“I think it’s worth a try” He nodded “we’ll come if you promise me that no matter what happens you’ll keep Minka safe and make sure she actually gets to have a life…she’s been stuck here with me for five years and it’s not fair to her…make sure she ends up free and happy” They all ran out, leaving dead bodies scattered through the house. Minka felt like hurling as she ran with Jedrick. They rode the horses as far as they could push them before resting again, all the brothers shocked that Ryoko had been correct about the son. As they enjoyed their dinner Ryoko asked Minka “are you cold? I can give you some of my clothes to wear”
“we’ll go bathe and change together after we eat” She looked at Jedrick who frowned “don’t ask me, you’re free Minka. You know I never wanted to make you stay with me. I’m sorry you had to for so long. Please, don’t ask me to do anything any more…just be happy. It’s the only thing I ask of you” She hugged him and he held her in return.After they ate she walked off with Ryoko who was carrying two changes of clothes. As they bathed Ryoko saw for herself the make up wash off and reveal perfect, unharmed skin. She smiled at Ryoko “yeah, he’s never hurt me or forced me into anything…The only time I was ever beaten was by his father or brothers and he always apologized for days after. He has a good heart and I’m glad you saw that”
“I couldn’t figure out who applies the make up”
“Me in the mirror. I used to do womens make up and teach them tricks for a living”
“Thank you..I guess that’s what I’ll end up doing again for money”
“And Jedrick, he wants you free, we can find you a place.”
“Not without him, I know he feels upset and that I should live my own life, but he’s so kind and gentle.”
“You love him.”
She gave a soft laugh. “Why wouldn’t I? He had so many chances to abuse me, but he didn’t and he made sure I was well fed and protected. He’s the one who doesn’t know how he feels.”
“You could talk to him.” Ryoko said as they stepped out of the water and dried.
“I’m afraid he’d think he had done something to force me. He’s not like his brothers, he’s got such a big heart and pretending to be like them weighs heavily on him. I just want him to be happy, to smile and not be scared of his siblings.”
“He won’t have to be forever, I promise both of you will be free.”
“I know you mean it, you have that look about you.”
They dressed and hurried back to the men. Minka caught Jedricks attention right away just as Ryoko caught Donat’s. They both smiled at them, taking their seats at their sides. That night Donat waited for everyone to fall asleep before asking Ryoko “so we’re together now? I trusted you and didn’t interfere”
“Of course we are honey. I missed you so much. I didn’t think I’d ever stop crying the day you left me” He pulled her into a crushingly tight hug “I’ll never be that stupid again Ryoko. I promise” They talked happily, exchanging little touches and affectionate kisses. Neither were able to sleep at all. Towards the end of the night, when they could tell the sun would be returning soon Ryoko whispered to Donat “Minka loves Jedrick by the way. We were talking about him as we bathed”
“yeah, he’s never treated her as his possession.”
“does he know?”
“she doesn’t know how to tell him and make him understand she really does love him. That it isn’t something he forced her into”
“so she thinks he feels the same”
“Yeah, I mean I can see that and I’ve just met them”
“yeah” When the sun was up they gathered eggs for everyone and began cooking so they could make their way to the next son. When they were a day away Aras asked “are you and Minka coming Jedrick? I have a friend near here, you could wait with her until we’ve taken down this brother. We’ll come back before we head on to the one after”
Maybe I should go.” Jedrick said, but sounded unsure.
“Come with me, I would be afraid without you.” Minka said as she took his hand. “You make me feel so much safer.” It was partially the truth. She also didn’t want him seeing his brother killed. She knew he understood his brothers were evil, but she didn’t want him seeing something like that, it was still his brother.
“Alright, if you need me.”
“I’ll return soon, wait for me.” Aras said as he lead them away.
“Do you think they’ll talk?” Hideki asked when they were out of earshot.
“You noticed too then?” Donat said.
“We all did, he’s clearly attached, as is she.” Emeryk replied.
“I doubt it, but if they haven’t by the time we’ve found all of his brothers, maybe I’ll have a talk with him.” Donat said. “He should be with the woman he loves.”
When Aras returned they went straight for the next mansion and cleared it out. It was at the final one the plans didn’t play out as they had hoped. This son had had enough time to catch word someone took out his father so he had been ready with more men and traps for them.It ended up being the most gory, bloody scene Ryoko, Donat and his brothers had ever been a part of but in the end they killed the final son and drug themselves out of the mansion. Bartosz was by far in the worse shape but they all needed serious medical attention and Emeryk was pretty beat up and bloodied himself. They stole a car out of necessity and drove to the only town they could using it.
They found another Inn and got a couple rooms before having a medic sent for them.In their rough state they hadn’t been able to go back to collect Jedrick and Minka where they had been hidden for the final attack but the first person that could travel would go get them as soon as it was possible. It ended up being Emeryk who was first healed and able to travel again. He got back in the car they stole and drove off to collect them and bring them to this Inn.
It took nearly two weeks but they finally all healed, checked out and set on their way home. Ryoko knew the first thing she would need to do when arriving home was let her friend know she wasn’t going to move now but she wanted her friend to set up Jedrick and Minka in the new world she was previously going to move to. Here Jedrick would always be a mob bosses son. If they took her home in the the new world he and Minka would have a real shot at a normal life together.
“Jedrick, may I speak to you alone.” Donat said once they were home.
“Sure.” He looked to Minka, not wanting to leave her alone even now.
“Go on, I’ll get her settled into the guest room.” Ryoko said and he nodded.
Jedrick followed Donat out back where they stood in silence for a moment. He was nervous, not knowing if he had done something wrong or if he was going to be chased off. “You should tell Minka how you feel.” Donat finally said.
“What do you mean?” Jedrick replied, looking down.
“You know what I mean. It’s in the way you look at her and talk to her.” He faced Jedrick. “Why haven’t you told her you love her?”
Jedrick sighed. “She was supposed to be my slave, my…my toy and if I say something, she might think I’m trying to force something on her. I just want her free and happy, with me, she might not feel that way.”
She loves you too. Everyone sees it Jedrick. From my understanding you’ve never hurt her or so much as demanded a thing from her in the years she was your slave. She fell in love with you just as you fell in love with her. My girlfriend tells me if you just tell her your feelings you could be together.”
“Did Minka say somthing when the girls were alone?”
“Yes” Relief seemed to wash over Jedrick “thank you for letting me know…I really do love her so much”
“go on, don’t waste another second. Ryoko would apparently also like to talk to you two about the house she was going to move in to in another world very similar to ours. Her friend was going to help her get started there. If you two are interested in having a completely blank slate she will talk to her friend about you two taking her place”
“Thank you so much. I’ll talk to Minka first before I answer. I want her to be happy. If she’d like to stay here we’ll make it work here” Donat nodded and the men went inside. Since Donats brothers lived within an hour of Ryoko they all went home, expressing to Ryoko again how happy they were she was back with their brother. She had an extra long and tight hug for Aras “thank you for telling me”
“He needed you Ryoko, he’ll always need you. I was looking out for my kid brother” Ryoko smiled up at him and he smiled back before turning to leave. That night Donat asked “Can I move in with you again?”
“of course you can. Everything is back to how it was. I’m not going to penalize you Donat. You showed you can trust me when you let me talk to Jedrick”
“I just didn’t want to assume anything…I know I hurt you really bad”
“Just promise me you’ll never do something that dumb again Donat”
“I could never. Now that I know how painful life truly is without you I don’t think I could even if I desired to”
“Do you think they’ll take your spot in that other world, Jedrick and Minka?”
“Whatever they do will work out. He;s a good man and it may take awhile but we can clear his name here if he stays. I’m pretty respected in most areas so I can help him with that” He kissed her head “so sweet”
“shut up” He cuddled up to her, feeling blessed to be able to do this again. He knew he didn’t deserve her forgiveness but he was grateful she had given it to him. He loved Ryoko to the point of madness and he planned on spending the coming years making the past four up to her.
~ The End