Day Three: Blood-stained Hands

Masaki tried to open his eyes but the bright sunrays blinded him that he closed them again. The noontime heat even caused shivers all throughout his body as it adjusted to the temperature. There was an unexplainable heaviness in his head, and it felt like he had been hit by a truck. Nevertheless, he tried to make sense of the first images he saw when first tried to open his eyes. He seemed disoriented; it even took him a long moment to remember that he was kidnapped.

HE WAS KIDNAPPED. The thought still seemed hard to shake yet harder to understand.

"You have a death wish?" A familiar voice startled him. He had to see the speaker, so he widely opened his eyes despite the burning sunlight.

"Look, if you really have a death wish… let me tell you that I'm too disappointed I can't make it quicker for you." When his vision returned, Masaki saw the girl's face looking down on him in the same cold expression.

He felt his free hands hanging limply from his sides. "Why did you untie me?" He could not help asking her.

"Look at yourself. I'll bet a million you'll pass out just trying to stand up."

He tried to sit up, and immediately he realized she was damn right. When he managed to straighten his back, all of his energy was drained that he felt like sleeping again. The girl twitched her lip at the sight of the boy's minor suffering. "Eat this," she said as she pushed a piece of bread onto his free hand. "If you want to starve yourself to death, be my guest. But I assure you there are BETTER ways to suffer."

He attempted to return the bread she forced into his hand but he was met by an evil stare. "Playing macho doesn't suit you. But you'll need all your strength after this is over, trust me."

As Masaki forced himself to take a bite, three loud knocks disturbed the quiet atmosphere. The girl, suddenly startled, kept her knife in one hand and approached the door. "Boss!" A yell came from outside. Recognizing the call, the girl stuffed her knife back in her pocket and opened the door of the shed to find a two hundred-pound man at her command. "Boss," the huge disheveled man said, "I have the supplies you asked for."

Yuri hastily grabbed the plastic bags from the man and proceeded back to her corner. "Tetsuya, you may go."

"Boss," he called out again. "My daughter wants to see you. She likes you very much."

Yuri turned around in total shock which almost caused the supplies to be dropped violently. And there, in the form of a silhouette against the bright backdrop, is a little girl peering out of her father's overweight figure. She was of short stature, had fair skin, long curly hair reaching up to her waist, and a pair of innocent eyes… that were looking back at Yuri with anticipation. "Boss…" the child softly uttered. The older girl was alarmed when she heard the kid imitate her father's address.

Blood rose from Yuri's veins and went boiling to her head at that instant. She grabbed the child violently that it almost seemed she was going to throw her down; but instead, she led her gently inside the shed. Then she shut the door stridently leaving her and Tetsuya in the hot outdoors.

Outside, the sun baked the huge man and the girl; both of them immediately beginning to sweat profusely. Tetsuya smiled sincerely at his boss, obviously not noticing the indignant stare she cast upon him. With the glare of excessive radiation, he didn't even notice the quick hard fist that went flying straight to his face! TETSUYA HAS UNLEASHED THE MONSTER. The next thing he knew was how he fell down on the ground and then wiped a trickle of blood at the corner of his lips. A tooth felt dislodged from the gum and his mouth was filled with the rusty taste of blood.

Yuri winced in pain as well and rubbed her attacking fist to ease it. She threw herself to the ground, right above the man who still found it hard to stand up. She violently grabbed the huge man's shirt that it almost tore itself apart. "What the hell are you doing?!" She bellowed furiously.

"Boss, I'm sorry. I do not understand." Tetsuya's voice was filled with both pain and wonder.

She raised her fist and threw a punch that made the man's nose bleed as well. "What did I say about visitors?!!" She yelled angrily while pulling on his shirt more.

"My daughter's just eight. She's no threat to us, boss." He managed to explain before coughing out another mouthful of saliva and blood. With trembling hands, she punched him again with a force enough to cause another black-eye. And then all of a sudden, she let go of him, returning to her usual stoic manner. The monster she had been earlier was gone.

"If you do this again…" she began calmly. "I'll make you go home in a stretcher. You don't want your daughter to see that." Then she returned to the shed where the captive and the child remained.

"Boss." The little girl called to her again.

Yuri approached her slowly and knelt until she was about the child's height. She spoke in a soft, feminine voice that surprised Masaki who watched nearby. "Don't call me 'boss'…" she said.

"But… Father said—"

"Never mind. Call me Yuri, and I will call you whatever name you want, how's that?" She said with a forced smile.

The little girl looked slightly delighted. "My name's Keiko." She replied shyly.

"Alright, Keiko-chan. Is it true that you like me?" Yuri finally asked although her tone seemed hesitant.

Keiko's eyes grew wide and even sparkled. She seemed to have lost her shyness and spoke in a more excited voice. "Yes! Father always said that you're a strong woman and that I should be like you in the future. Ah, and Father even looks like he's afraid of you… it's so cool!"

"It's not cool." Yuri suddenly interrupted. "If you really like me, listen to what I have to tell you. Okay, Keiko-chan?"

"Yes, boss." The child absent-mindedly responded.

Yuri felt her blood boil again at the sound of the call. "I told you not to call me that!" She yelled violently. The little girl was frightened and stepped back. She even looked like she was about to run.

Yuri sensed the girl's fright; and adjusted to her voice to a softer tone. "Listen," she began serenely, "you don't have to be like me in the future. You can be whoever you want to be… do you hear me?"

The child simply stood there; her face showed no reaction.

"Do you see this?" Yuri whispered to the child. She raised her trembling palms in mid-air and showed her hands stained with Tetsuya's drying blood. "THIS IS BLOOD." She stated curtly in front of the frightened child.

Seeing the child's face wince at this, she put her hands down and spoke in a low but serious voice. "You don't want this in your hands, Keiko-chan. Promise me you won't ever make your hands dirty like this, will you?" She asked in a pleading tone.

"Promise!" Keiko chirped in the most childish tone.

Yuri smiled a bit and made her voice sound more cheerful. However, what came out of her lips was a mere monotone. "Okay now. Your father is outside and he is injured. Take him home now and tell your mother to patch him up, okay?"

"Yes! Thank you, Yuri-san!" The child bellowed excitedly and left the shed while hopping.

The girl sighed heavily upon hearing the child and her limping father leave the area. She went back to her corner and slumped for a while before reaching for a towel, a water bottle and some pain relievers. She fiercely placed two pills in her hand drank it together with the water. The pain relievers were the same fever pills she had asked Tetsuya to bring over for the captive's fever. Meanwhile, the captive merely observed as she hurriedly went to the small bathroom sink. Even with the broken door blocking his view, Masaki saw the kidnapper wash her hands aggressively. She came back with her hands no longer blood-stained but still trembling uncontrollably. For a few hours, Yuri can be seen nursing her hands which couldn't stop shaking even when she tried to plaster them or squeeze them together.

"Does it hurt?" Masaki inquired suddenly.

The girl did not react but shot a furious stare at him.

"I've never punched anyone before…" he continued stubbornly, "… but I bet your hand hurts right now."

A male teenager who's never punched anyone before? Yuri found that very funny. Boys tend to get in brawls and fistfights especially in school, and then her captive, as able as he appeared to be hasn't punched anyone before. She even thought he must be kidding. Yuri knew and understood combat as a child. She learned and saw revenge at an even younger age. Likewise, she already realized her life wasn't normal from the very beginning.

"Each time you punch someone… it hurts, right?" He remarked, referring to the girl's dirty and aching fists. There was no reply from her other than a grunt of annoyance.

"Violence is a double-edged sword. And so is revenge." The boy then stated out of the blue. His voice sounded stiff but his vision was blurred and he still felt dizzy from the fever.

"You don't even know what real revenge is like." Yuri fired back.

Masaki steadied himself even through his failing vision and consciousness. He sensed the depth of the girl's hatred, and how the word 'revenge' seemed heavy when she spoke of it. "I KNOW." He said with unusual gravity.

"What?" She seemed surprised.

"It's about my father, right? If I'm serving your revenge against my father… forget it. You're wasting your time."

For the first time since he got in Yuri's custody, the captive looked like he knew something. The kidnapper approached him anxiously in an attempt to force out of him whatever he knew. But before he could spill anything of importance to the kidnapper, he collapsed in Yuri's bosom.

A/N: Thank you to all those who read and reviewed. And also to those who had read my other stories. Again I apologize for the slow updates, but I'm trying to make this one of my better fics. Cheers.