Fandom: Avatar: the Last Airbender
Characters: Kouji, Torako (OCs)
Summary: When one of the criminal element's district lords goes too far, it falls to Kouji to discipline the man and save the girl.
Notes: I blame tigerkat24 for this. She put the idea in my head, and then enabled me. Vengeance is hers.
Both Ichiro and Kouji looked up as their sister came running into the room, wide-eyed. "There's a problem," she said.
It wasn't her words that drew the men's attention -- they were all part of a fairly large business collective, after all. Problems came up often in their line of work. No, it was her fear they noticed.
"What is it?" Kouji asked, laying down his brush.
"It's Keitaro," she said. "He's taken one of Daimyo General Torao's daughters."
"....please tell me you mean they eloped," Ichiro said, paling.
Yui shook her head, braid flying. "To pressure him."
"Gods all damn it, he was told no!"
Kouji raised an eyebrow at his brother. "I told you Keitaro was overstepping," he said.
Ichiro sighed. "Which means it'll fall to us to discipline him."
"Nobody else will," Yui pointed out. "He's too powerful -- even the other district lords tread carefully around him."
"Good thing I've never much cared for politics," said Ichiro. "We're going to get her back where she belongs."
"And by 'we' you mean 'me,'" Kouji muttered.
Ichiro grinned. "You're nicer than I am."
"And by 'nicer' you mean 'crueller'?" asked Yui.
"More practical," Kouji objected.
"More polite," Ichiro clarified. "I don't get on well with nobles. You two at least can pretend, and I need Yui with me."
Kouji sighed. "Fine. I'll use the business account to pay for the airship ticket."
"Good," Ichiro said. He leaned back in his seat and put his feet up on the desk. "And, Kouji? Make sure this won't happen again."
The young man hesitated. "Limits?"
Golden eyes glittered. "None."
Her cell was cold.
Torako had been colder, however.
If that bastard thought being slightly uncomfortable would weaken her spirit, he was badly mistaken.
There were voices outside her cell.
Reflexively, she tried to move closer to hear, but she had been chained to the wall in order to keep her from waterbending. Still, if she strained her ears, she could make out two different voices, both male.
One of them was angry.
"...no right... lead to trouble... General will..."
Torako's eyes narrowed. She knew they had taken her to use against Father, but this... This sounded bad.
"What are--?" The voice cried out, and suddenly stopped.
Silence fell, then a key turned in the lock.
Torako readied herself to fight.
The door opened partway, but nobody entered. Instead, a voice -- the one that had previously been so angry -- said, "Miss?"
She did not relax, no matter how uncertain that voice sounded now. Uncertain or not, Torako was fairly sure he had killed the other man. She said nothing.
"Miss -- My name is Kouji. I'm here to rescue you."
That was far too easy to be true.
The door opened further, and a face appeared around it.
He looked young, younger than her, even, for all he was very tall and wore glasses. His black hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, though short whisps of hair had fallen free to frame his face. His expression was surprisingly uncertain for a man -- a boy? -- who had likely just killed someone.
"Like I said-- I've come to rescue you."
He entered the room, and she could see that he was leanly built at first glance. A second look, however, showed the compact muscles in his arms, thanks to the summer-style Fire Nation garb he wore.
Whatever this Kouji was, he wasn't as harmless as he tried to appear.
"I got the key off the guard. Can-- may I unchain you?"
He was also kind of weird. "Yes," she said.
He made his way over and produced the key, unlocking her with care not to touch her. "Can you walk?" he asked as he freed her ankle, looking up at her with an oddly worried expression. Torako was reminded of a hedgepuppy.
She nodded, and he smiled. "Good." He got to his feet and stepped out of arm's reach -- his arms. "Follow me, miss."
Well, at least he would take the first hits. And wasn't behind her.
He lead her out into the hallway, but there was no sign of the other man, not even blood.
Torako nearly bolted then, but common sense took hold of her. Kouji was obviously a very dangerous young man, who had decided for some reason to rescue her. She wasn't sure if she believed his excuse, but he'd made no attempt to hurt her yet -- in fact, he was keeping his distance from her.
If he was telling the truth, he would probably escort her home.
If he was lying, running away would only anger him.
Well, she could always rip out his blood if he tried anything.
If her kidnapper had any real sense of drama he would have stashed her in a labyrinth or a palace of some kind, or at the very least, a warehouse. As it was, she had been stored in a small house, so it took less than a minute for Kouji to lead her to the door.
He was reaching for the handle when he stopped. Confused, Torako stopped as well, taking a step to the side when he turned, a frown on his face.
"Stay behind me," he said quietly, his grey eyes narrowing.
"Don't bother," crowed her captor, appearing suddenly in another doorway. "It's far too soon to hurt the hostage." He glared at Kouji. "And you are becoming--"
The earth buckled beneath his feet, and he fell into a hole that hadn't been there a second before. Kouji shook his head. "Idiot."
Torako stared at him. Of all the potential rescuers she'd considered, an earthbender hadn't been high on the list. Who was he?
As she watched, Kouji approached the hole. "This is how it's going to work," he said. "I am going to pull you out of there, and you are going to behave."
"Why not just kill me and get it done with?" taunted the older man.
"I'm not going to kill you, Keitaro," said Kouji, sounding surprised. "That would be nice. I'm going to give you to the Daimyo General."
Torako gave him a startled glance. That was... actually pretty smart of him. Daddy was unlikely to be happy with anyone criminal right now -- or any male in her company, really. In bringing Daddy the bastard behind her kidnapping, Kouji was ensuring that he probably wouldn't be killed.
"You wouldn't dare!" snarled Keitaro. "The syndicate--"
"Has washed its hands of you," Kouji said cheerfully. "You went too far. The boss doesn't want us fiddling in politics, remember?"
"Are you mad?" the older man demanded. "Do you have any idea what the measure he's supporting will do to us!?"
"And you've given him even more reason to support it," Kouji replied. "Good going on that, by the way."
Fire streamed out of the hole, but Kouji sidestepped to avoid it. "Idiot," he said again, and moved into an unfamiliar bending stance. He moved through a series of stances that reminded Torako vaguely of waterbending, then stamped his foot.
Keitaro was thrown from the hole, this time bound in rock, with a strip of it wrapped around his mouth.
Torako smiled. She could almost like this Kouji.
The young man leaned down and hauled Keitaro to his feet. "Time for walkies," he said, then glanced at Torako. "As you might have gathered, I'm taking you home."
"I'd noticed," she said, and smiled at him.
The young man blushed a deep red. "W-well then," he stammered. "L-let's get m-moving."
It was a long journey to Daimyo General Torao's home in Three Volcanoes Bay. Or rather, it was expensive. Kouji had no intention of sharing his seasickness with Keitaro or Lady Torako. Fortunately, Ichi-ni had already agreed to help him foot the bill, so getting to Three Volcanoes Bay wasn't an issue.
Getting to the Daimyo General with an unwilling prisoner was however.
Keitaro was a wriggler, and Kouji found himself having to focus most of his attention on the bastard. Still, tying a bow around the gag had been particularly inspired, he thought. At least Torako was co-operative. He doubted she trusted him as far as she could throw him, but it was nice to not need to wrangle her.
His brain supplied a helpful image of "wrangling" the lady, and he groaned. Now he remembered why he usually stayed behind with his numbers.
He was not surprised when, on crossing onto the lands owned by the Daimyo General, a guard appeared to stop them. He was also not surprised when that guard tried to arrest him.
Lady Torako, however, drew herself up to her full height and gave the guard a chilling glare. "Stop that," she ordered.
To his surprise, the guard did stop, bowing deeply before her. "Apologies, my lady," he said. "Your father left instructions..."
"I'm sure he did," she replied. "However, my rescuer and I have a gift for my Lord Father."
The guard blinked. "Your... rescuer?"
Kouji bowed politely.
"Yes," the lady said, then ordered, "Escort us to the house."
"At once, my lady." The guard led the way to the manor, allowing Kouji to devote his full attention on the desperate Keitaro. The three of them were deposited in a room, with the guard taking a station by the door. Kouji thought he spied a servant dart off, presumably to inform the Daimyo General of their arrival.
This would be fun.
Kouji took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, then cuffed Keitaro when he felt heat gathering around the other man. "Stop that."
The older man glared daggers at him.
Kouji was suddenly aware that someone else had entered -- and it wasn't via earthbending. He turned to the door and saw, for the first time, Daimyo General Torao.
Suddenly he understood why Keitaro had tried to control the man -- and why that move would probably be considered suicide by the local authorities.
Before he could do more than blink, Lady Torako approached her father and hugged him tightly. The man hugged her back just as tight, Kouji noticed in the instant before averting his gaze. Keitaro was trying to wiggle loose. How he thought he could, given the tightness of his earthen bonds, Kouji couldn't begin to guess.
"Are you all right?" he heard the Daimyo General ask his daughter.
"Yes, I am," she replied. "I wasn't hurt, and Kouji never laid a hand on me without my permission."
Kouji bowed very deeply -- not quite a kowtow, but exactly as deep convention required from a peasant towards a man of high military and civilian rank -- and said nothing. Politeness and formality was how to get out of this intact. That and the present he'd brought Daimyo General Torao.
"How polite," the daimyo said drily.
Kouji flushed, but remained silent.
Being under the man's gaze was extremely disconcerting. "You are...?" Torao asked.
"Kouji, Daimyo General," the young man replied with another bow.
The daimyo's gaze shifted from Kouji to the gagged Keitaro. The corner of his mouth quirked in amusement, then he looked at Kouji again. "And why shouldn't I have you arrested to face the Firelord's justice, Kouji?"
"I have committed no crime, Daimyo General," Kouji replied.
He smiled. "I'm sure I can find one."
"Daddy!" protested Lady Torako.
Kouji allowed himself a small smile. "My lord, wouldn't it be better to have the man responsible face justice?" He gestured carefully towards Keitaro, not allowing his hand to drift by the bag of sand at his waist.
Keitaro mumbled something, likely curses, around his gag.
"Having the man responsible would be pleasing," admitted Torao.
Kouji bowed. "Keitaro and his people are the only ones responsible for what happened," he said quietly. "His actions were not sanctioned -- he was, in fact, strictly forbidden to do so."
"Is that so?" Torao drawled.
"Yes, my lord," was Kouji's soft answer. "Our... business has no interest in meddling with politics or national policy. Especially not with several bored soldiers still on the Firelord's payroll."
"How wise," commented the Daimyo-General.
Kouji said nothing. The man was clearly trying to bait him.
The silence stretched until Torako said cheerfully, "Perhaps you should put your gift somewhere nice, Father."
"Perhaps," he said. He turned to the guards. "Escort the young man out," he ordered.
"Yes, sir!" said one of them. "This way," he then said to Kouji.
Kouji offered one last deep bow to the Daimyo-General and Lady Torako, then followed the guards out. Well, he'd got out alive, at least. That was the best he could hope for.
He had a sneaking suspicion that Torao would not be so kind if they met again. Especially professionally.
Once he was outside the manor, he headed for the gate, only to be stopped by one of the guards putting a hand on his shoulder. "You seem like a nice young man," he said conversationally. "I suggest you get out of that business before you get killed."
Kouji smiled. The guard, it appeared, had misunderstood politeness for niceness. "I'll take that under consideration."
With a bow of farewell, he made his way towards the gates of the property. He wanted to get home to his siblings and his numbers, and away from pretty girls.
...okay, so Yui was more than pretty, but she was his twin.
He had just stepped beyond the gates when water came splashing down from nowhere, drenching him.
"The hell?" he sputtered, whirling to try and figure out where it had come from.
His earthbending revealed he was alone, which was imposs--
He looked up.
Lady Torako gave him an impish smile from where she sat on top of the gate.
"How did you get here before me?" he demanded.
She giggled and swung down, landing lightly in front of him. "I think I like you better this way," she said.
"Wh-what?" he stammered. Gods, he was probably bright red now.
"Wet," she clarified, her eyes gleaming wickedly.
Current Location: the apartment couch
Current Mood: giggly
Current Music: Project Runway
Tags: au: yakuza, character: kouji, character: torako, fandom: avatar, fanfic, story: overstepping