Chapter 1: Resurface
The bleak and dark October night concealed everything within the path the woman was taking as the air hit her face whenever the wind fluctuated with its speed. She hadn't anticipated to lose track of time whilst finishing her last errands off at her night shift at work and yet, her scatter brained nature got the best of her.
Now, with barely any sound other than the wind and the occasional hoot of an owl to keep her company, she hurriedly picked up the pace to get home as her eyes frantically travelled in all directions to make sure she was aware of her surroundings. Her glasses kept fogging up given how hard she was breathing but it didn't deter her, not until she accidently crashed into someone who seemed to have come out of the small street enclosed at the side.
"I'm sorry!" she quickly said, her heart pounding at wondering who it was when she took her glasses off to clean them but the voice of a woman calmed her down instantly.
"Don't worry about it, I came at you out of nowhere".
Just as she had placed her glasses on her face and dropped her guard, she felt a grip on her hand as she was dragged away by the woman into the abandoned street.
"H-hey! Let me go! Let me go now-umph!".
Her already timid voice was blocked as the woman shoved her hand over her lips and pushed her to the floor. The weight of the woman's leg on her stomach was making it difficult for her to breath as she pressed down whilst grabbing her sandy coloured, short hair and whacking it onto the cold cement with a sickening thud.
It was enough to subdue the victim, making her disorientated and groan out in agony at the impact.
"Stop! Some-somebody help me..".
She feebly tried to bat at the woman who had moved her hand and trailed her fingers upwards to her temple, her thumbs resting on it.
"Please, don't!" she sobbed as she tried to identify the woman but the darkness and disorientation wasn't helping.
Only her silhouette could be made out along with the outline of a sharp grin that her mouth was forming.
Before the victim could realise what was happening, the woman had moved her thumbs over her glasses and pressed down into them, a squelching sound emitting along with a piercing shriek as the slender thumbs concealed in gloves continued to slide into the sockets with ease.
She was flailing around in pure agony, shards of glass filleting the outside of the skin around the eyes open as the optic nerve heads snapped, the soft tissue of the vitreous body melding into the shape of the thumbs till it hit the sclera.
It didn't stop the woman's thumbs from slowing down, at least not until her other fingers could wrap around the victim's head.
Making sure she had a firm grip on the now deceased young woman's skull, she repeated her earlier movements of slamming her head down onto the floor.
Just as an extra precaution of course.
She repeated it again.
And again until the sound of the skull cracking and flesh melding in with the pavement was all that could be heard, the head becoming limp from the neck up from the impact.
The woman gave it a quick shake just to make sure before retracting her slick and bloodied thumbs from the sockets whilst a trail of the ligaments that connected the eyes to brain tumbled out after. It was one of her more messier 'occasions' but she didn't mind that,
"A bit of variety never killed anyone" she chuckled quietly to herself at the applicable pun whilst stepping back from the body.
Her vivid blue eyes took one more glance at the body whilst removing her gloves and depositing them into her side bag. Content with her work she could leave the scene feeling refreshed and invigorated once again.
Freedom, even in small doses was more than enough for her.
At least for the time being.
"The 23 year old woman was last seen leaving the office complex that she worked at and failed to show up the next day. It wasn't until this jogging duo had the unfortunate luck on stumbling up at the crime scene that the police had figured the link to the missing persons report that was filed. Please describe to us what your initial thoughts were".
"Oh it was dreadful! The poor woman and what she had to experience".
"It was like something out of a horror movie, I feel nauseated just thinking about it".
"Indeed, Koizumi Hanayo had suffered a gruesome death at the hands of an assailant that remains unidentified. She's been dubbed as Friday's victim, following the deaths of Hoshizora Rin on Monday, Toudou Nozomi on Tuesday, Minami Kotori on Wednesday, Yazawa Nico on Thursday by a culprit now known as The Seven Day Spree Killer. With the neighbouring areas under constant surveillance and the public now aware of the threat, will tomorrow be another puzzle found via another victim or will it be end of this senseless killing. Who's to say".
The news report continued to go on, another reporter at the scene of Hanayo's home interviewing her grief stricken parents, Yamato's eyes glued to the screen whilst she drank her coffee.
"5 murders this week..this is ridiculous".
"Babe, you're going to be late for work".
Shiena's voice snapped her out of her musing and she turned from where she was stood in the living room as the brunette walked up to her.
"Have you seen this?" she pointed back to the TV whilst Shiena passed her blazer and then adjusted the black tie, "I'm getting a serial killer vibe now".
The brunette nodded and put her own jacket on, "They're adding more patrols in the area and warning people to be home before sunset and stay in groups if necessary when going out. Which reminds me, you finish late today".
"I'll be fine" Yamato smiled and dipped her head down and lightly bumped her forehead against Shiena's, "You take the car today, I got a message from Shou about the buddy system being implemented given how close to the recent crime our office is located. That includes drop off and pick ups".
Shiena rested her hands on the taller woman's cheek and kissed her gently before speaking, "Okay, that does put my mind at ease".
"Just a bit?".
"Just a bit" the brunette laughed at Yamato's teasing look, "Did you get enough sleep?".
Her thumbs trailed beneath Yamato's eyelids that seemed slightly raised, her purple eyes seemingly closing instantly the moment Shiena touched her there. The tossing and turning was a giveaway along with the late night wonder around their apartment routine when Yamato's insomnia kicked in again.
"More than the usual so nothing to worry about. Mind you, since it's a day that is mostly comprised up of meetings, my willpower to stay way will truly be tested" she grinned as Shiena shook her head and dropped her hands to the woman's shoulder.
"Take it easy, okay?".
"Likewise" she smiled and hoped it'd be enough to sooth the brunette's worries, "Let me know when you get there".
She hugged her again as Shiena lingered on a little longer before pulling back, "I'll see later, Yamato".
"I love you".
"I love you too" she waved before heading to the door.
As Yamato watched her leave, she quickly drank the remaining contents of her cup and sighed whilst giving her head a quick shake to edge the fatigue down. Her sleeping pattern had been returning to its original mess of a routine and she couldn't work out why. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened, she wasn't stressed at work and she was happily in love with Shiena.
Everything seemed at ease after the hurdles of her younger days as a teen and child so it was strange that a routine she had back then was rearing its ugly head, both in her nightmares and waking moments.
"The Seven Day Spree Killer huh?" she repeated as she sifted through her thoughts of a time in the distant past where something similar struck her hometown.
Something that horrified the small town and her parents enough that they relocated once they realised the police force had no idea who the culprit was. They were crimes that stuck with the town, the deaths of 7 teenagers, all random & all grotesquely carried out with a killer that was never caught.
"Maybe it's a copycat?".
Shiena wasn't aware of this detail from Yamato's past life as the woman preferred to leave that away from her life now. It was the whole reason her parents had moved them away so there was no reason for her to discuss it especially since she herself had no actual involvement as they weren't the only family to leave.
She went around their home and made sure everything was locked up and that the alarms were set as Zui had texted her to say she'd arrived and was waiting.
"It's probably just a coincidence".
Sonoda Umi had heard of the killings going on around the area but that didn't deter her from her late night moments of recollection in the safety and comfort of her garden. It was well lit and there were neighbours around, even if they were asleep it would still be difficult to not hear any commotion.
So Umi sat there on a mat in deep thought, enjoying the silence and serenity despite the dropping temperatures. All of the day's stress and discomforts eased out of her body as she breathed in deeply and then exhaled out slowly.
Of course the topic of talk wherever she went and as well as from her archery students revolved around the crimes. She was more the aware of the panic being caused around the otherwise peaceful town which is why she had taken it upon herself to change the lesson plans for the students. She delivered a lesson on self defence techniques and precautions just in case. It was better to be prepared if her students found themselves in a predicament with whoever was out there committing these crimes and anybody else that might cause them harm.
Umi herself found some comfort in knowing that and as the breeze whipped passed her hair, she felt the air getting colder and considered it enough meditation for one night.
Unfortunately, not even the sharpness and awareness of Umi's character would've been enough to spot the shadow in the corner of the garden creeping its way towards her.
A shadow that had easily picked up Umi's routine and knew where to seek cover and when to attack.
Before she knew it, her amber eyes shot open as a strangled gurgle came out of Umi's mouth. The shadow simply remained behind her as the reality sunk it at what had happened when Umi lifted a shaky hand up to her throat and felt the liquid running down like a blood red waterfall against her pale neck. She tried to take one last go at shouting out though she knew it was hopeless whilst she gripped her throat.
Because how loud could one scream after their throat had be slit with ease like a hot knife sliding through a block of chocolate.
A hand gripped her blue hair and pulled her head back which increased the size of the slit as it wasn't too wide to begin with. The individual wanted to keep Umi alive for a bit, just to savour in the sounds of her coming death and weak spurts of coughing from her mouth. They could see the glistening varieties of muscles that were peeking out beneath the cut skin, the laryngeal artery and omohyoid muscle in particular and it excited them that much more so they got to work.
To finish Umi off, the shadow retrieved a pair of sharpened scissors from their pocket whilst tucking the knife they started with away and positioned the edge of the blade over the external carotid artery and the internal jugular vein. With one relishing movement, they pressed down and severed both components that unleashed a burst of blood vessels that splattered out over everything with reaching distance. They pulled the deceased woman's head back again with more pressure and easily snapped the spiral chord to leave the head hanging lose from Umi's back, staring up at the shadow with blank and dead eyes.
Content with this angle, they got to work and fiddled around with the other parts of the throat, like ripping out the thyroid cartilage and sternohyoid muscles to leave it hanging down Umi's chest, as if it had been mauled out.
They were on a time limit tonight, that they knew so they simply did what they could to give themselves enough satisfaction that'll last till the next kill as they had other places to be.
Once again, the blue eyes surveyed up the scene they had made and was already looking forward to their version of dessert.
It was one of those nights again that she found herself in the bathroom, staring hard at the mirror as she washed her hands and made herself presentable after waking up in a panic. She sighed at the routine, something in her soul making her feel light and fulfilled despite the lack of sleep. There was no point dwelling on it and all she wanted to do was get back into the warm bed Shiena.
It always felt good whenever she got Shiena to herself at moments like this, she could never tire of making the most out of the opportunities in being with her. Be it when she was asleep in her arms and talking about the day's events whilst snuggled up against her chest on when they were in the midst of making love; she made it count.
She switched the bathroom light off and made her way to their bedroom, still too alert and active to even think about falling asleep while she got into the bed and pressed against Shiena's body, tucking the shorter woman in her arms before rolling her on her back.
"Where'd you go? You are cold" she murmured sleepily and rubbed her hands up and down Yamato's arms when she replied to the bathroom.
She felt Yamato's lips press against her neck as she held Shiena's wondering arms and pressed them down on the pillow. The darkness of the room didn't mask the look in Yamato's eyes though she couldn't see her face and even without her glasses, the brunette could feel the sudden urgency in her lover's body when she lifted her head up.
"Can't go back to sleep?".
Yamato sighed in response whilst silencing Shiena's response with a deep kiss, her fingers on the brunette's arms sliding down with the intent of digging her nails into the soft skin.
Shiena moaned into Yamato's mouth at the unusual roughness in her touches but she liked it and urged the woman to continue her tactile exploration down her body and beneath her clothes. If it helped to tire Yamato out, she was more than happy to give into her desires regardless of the time and not only that, Shiena herself wanted it just as much.
So she divulged herself into Yamato's actions and followed the pace the woman was setting, each kiss and touch against her skin setting off every nerve in Shiena's body as her hands twirled into the long purple hair that was out of its usual ponytail. Yamato's breathlessness and slight aggression only fuelled the passion between them more when her fingers found what they were searching for beneath the brunette's shorts; Shiena reacting instantly and clutching onto the taller woman.
The mood had been set as they tousled and threw off their nightwear in the comforting darkness of their bedroom, locked with each other and drawing the night out with pleasurable exhaustion.
Given that it was the weekend, Yamato's eyes opened with much less annoyance than on the weekday as the light from the morning sun tried to get past the blinds on their windows.
She yawned out gently to not wake Shiena up and looked down to see the sleeping woman resting on her chest contently.
"Was she in the mood for it or was I?" she thought to herself when she realised they were both naked.
She could've sworn they both went to sleep quite quickly as they'd had a long day at work but apparently not. The woman smiled and trailed her fingers over Shiena's shoulder and then her back, enjoying the way the skin reacted to her fingers.
"I probably woke you up didn't I" she mused whilst continuing her light touches against her girlfriend's body.
Her sleeping pattern was a disruption to herself as it was and she felt terrible that Shiena had to endure it to though she knew the brunette would tell her off for thinking that. Still, she couldn't help it as the nightmares of her past weren't subsiding, the isolation and the taunts ringing around her head like she was back in her old life once again.
"I'll pick up some sleeping pills, see if they work" Yamato decided, her index finger on the side of Shiena's neck now to see the flesh red and sore and she grimaced at the site.
"What the..I don't recall doing this" she wondered as similar bite marks followed at the crook of Shiena's neck, "Get it together, Yamato. You're so tired you don't even remember doing anything last night" she chided herself and kissed Shiena's temple in an apology.
She really did need to pull herself together as being careless, especially now was dangerous.
The woman stretched out slightly and picked her phone up from the bedside table to check up on any messages and replied to usual. Everyone wanted to unwind that weekend so plans were on the go for Shiena and herself to get out and enjoy some time having fun.
Not making any definite plans till Shiena woke up, Yamato scanned the news feeds that she was signed up to and browsed through them, intending to enjoy their free morning lazily and warmly as possible.
That was until her eyes ran across a headline that made her blood run cold and body stiffen.
LOCAL ARCHERY TUTOR VICTIM NUMBER 6!
Yamato felt the tears well in her eyes as the image of the woman was placed next to the article. She was an old friend and lived not too far from them in one of safest areas. Not only that, Umi was skilled at numerous fighting techniques as well as self defence so to read what she was reading made Yamato queasy.
"Found by neighbours dog... decapitated.. no witness.. oh, Umi, I'm so sorry".
"Yamato, what is it?".
Shiena had woken up but Yamato was immersed into whatever she was reading. The look of horror on the woman's face startled Shiena as she got up and cupped her cheeks, "Baby, what's wrong?".
She snapped out of it and looked into Shiena's eyes, "Shiena..".
Passing the brunette the phone, Yamato sat upright so that Shiena was on her lap and wrapped her arms around her tight. It still wasn't sinking in & she hoped it was some twisted joke, a grave mistake though the reality seemed evident. Shiena shook her head and repeated "No" several times while holding Yamato's shoulder and looking up at her.
"I don't..how did this happen!" she cried out at the news of their friend, "She couldn't have..".
Yamato just held her protectively against her whilst they both let their grief out. The killings were barbaric enough and they felt for the victims and now, their own had become one of them which dug in the sadness much deeper.
It was daring to attempt this, it was not her usual setting so this would be a testament to see how much control she had garnered over the week of her moments of freedom.
The woman dancing against her in the room full of intoxicated people in a house provided the perfect cover, the perfect alibi. That was to say if she needed one which she was rather confident that she wouldn't. It was definitely going to be fun, even more appealing than last night's victims she thought to herself.
Yuuki Anju, the brunette woman that had captured her attention for the night was happily swaying against her body along with the music. She wasn't quite as drunk as the other individuals but she was much more loose with her mouth and hands that latched onto her body. Her dark eyes were hazy with a flirtatious tint to them and she accentuated that further with a sway of her hips provocatively against the woman's body.
"Hmm, I like the tall and silent type" she giggled into her dance partner's ear and slung her arms over her shoulders, "All action and no talk, I like that a lot".
The woman responded with a chuckle, "We'll see how silent you can be".
"Oh aren't we feisty!" Anju giggled and blew into her ear before trailing a hand down her chest, "I'm definitely going to enjoy my night with you aren't I?".
"I'll make it worth your while sweetheart".
The alluring blue eyes had Anju weak at the knees when she pulled back, grabbing the woman's hand and weaving their way out of the crowded living room and up the stairs that had its fair share of passed out individuals scattered on it as well as some amorous ones. With the intent of not wanting to be disturbed, she took the woman up to the third floor and looked back with a wink when the woman smirked.
Her victim to be was laying it all out beautifully. It almost seemed too easy to enjoy but she would do regardless.
As soon as they reached their destination, Anju had spun around in the woman's arms and kissed her with vigour whilst her free had slammed the door shut. The woman picked her up, the kisses becoming all tongue and no breathing, her hand tugging the brunette's dress up and then she climbed onto the bed with her. She placed her down gently without parting from the kiss and spread her legs as her lips slid down Anju's throat.
The woman knew this was going to be messy as she stood up on her knees for a moment to take her black jacket off as an eager Anju bit her own lip, watching with eagerness. The firm body was concealed in a black buttoned down top and she couldn't wait to rip it off and feel her skin but waiting for the woman to do it herself made for wonderful foreplay.
"Don't keep me waiting".
"As I said.." the woman replied with a neutral smile and lifted the jacket up to get something from her pocket, "It'll be worth it".
Anju quirked an eyebrow up and wrapped her legs around the woman's waist, "If it's protection you're looking for, I don't believe we will need it" she chuckled and the woman did the same.
"Oh I don't know about that" she replied and dropped that jacket to reveal a gleaming pair of scissors in her palms, "You might need it".
"What is th-" her words died out into a scream as the woman plunged the scissors so deep into her stomach that when she pulled it back, it refused to come out a first.
Anju screamed again whilst trying to reach for the woman's face but the wound on her stomach was bleeding out profusely and it was made worse when she stabbed her in the gut just as hard. Another splutter of blood hit the woman's face and she was grinning maniacally, opening the wound up further by twisting it around till bits of veins and arteries spilled out.
The brunette's screams were decreasing as tears slid down her face, coughing and spluttering at the sensation of her body by shredded apart when the woman lunged the scissors back into her stomach again.
"You can scream all you want, nobody will hear you. That is why your brought us up here after all isn't it?" she laughed, Anju's bloodied hand collapsing down when her eyes rolled shut forever as the woman opened the scissors up and began to cut a hole in the stomach, the outline first so that she could peel the skin off, "Aw you've gone quiet now, what a shame".
And as she got to work with leaving a decorative piece using Anju's organs, the booming music reverberated around the house that concealed the horror of the occurrence that had taken place.
The last victim had been decided after taking out Anju and now it was time for her to assume full control and do what she needed to do. She knew she could. She had done it before and she would do it again. Except this time she wouldn't be stopped.
The final victim was one she was familiar with and eradicating her would be much more simple yet gratifying than her other targets.
She was her way out.
The Seven Day Spree was only the beginning.
"I'll escape that prison, just watch me".
After the news of Umi's death, Shiena and Yamato had spent the day sorting out the funeral arrangements with the woman's family and consoling them. It was a emotionally and mentally draining day that left the two woman exhausted by the time they got home that night.
After spending a bit of time to unwind and talk out what was going through their mind, they opted to have an early night and get some rest.
So when Shiena opened her eyes to see and feel that Yamato wasn't by her side, it broke her sleep and she started to get up. The most likely scenario was that Yamato was pacing again due to her insomnia and it made more sense when saw the bathroom light switch off and a figure come out.
She said nothing as she stood there at the edge off the bed, frozen into place almost at hearing Shiena's voice.
"Hey, what going on?" the brunette asked whilst climbing out of the bed after switching the bedside light on.
She turned around to face the woman again when Yamato revealed something in her hand, something that reflected the light from the lamp into Shiena's eyes and made her become more alert.
"Yamato, hey" she said gently and then froze when she saw the item in her hand, "What are you doing with that?".
As her face was slightly hidden away by the dimly lit room, Shiena couldn't make out the woman's expression but the knife in her hand was unmistakable. Even more so when she twirled it around in her palm and stepped forward. Shiena's initial thought was that Yamato must be trying to tease her but she knew that wasn't her girlfriend's kind of humour not to mention what had just happened so she was unsure as to what to make of it.
But she had no time to dwell on it as Yamato ran forward, jumped on the bed and lunged at Shiena with the knife, just barely missing as the brunette thrust herself forward which made Yamato slam into the wall.
"Yamato, stop!!" she scrambled away but the woman was fast and recovered quick from her collision and ran after Shiena.
"Don't you wanna give me hug babe? Don't be like that!".
The voice, it was too sharp to be Yamato's and it put Shiena off for a moment just as she made it towards the door to the living space only to have Yamato drag her back by her hair and slam her into the ground.
"C'mon, I only want a hug...and to cut you up!" she snickered as Shiena tried to fight back.
With her legs pinned down and one arm tucked under Yamato's body, Shiena lashed out with what remaining movement she could execute before Yamato grabbed her head and slammed it to the floor and then punched her.
The air was knocked out of her and Shiena couldn't believe what was happening, that Yamato, her girlfriend was trying to kill her.
"Please stop, Yamato! Listen to me!".
The woman kept a hold of her knife and pinned down Shiena's flailing arm. She grinned as the brunette got her first good look at her face, confusion and terror running through her features.
It was definitely her, Shiena could see that but her eyes..they were blue. Her usual soft expression looked insane, especially with the wide smile covering her face. It was definitely Yamato but at the same time, it couldn't be her.
"Cat got your tongue, babe?".
"Who.. what the hell is going on?" Shiena could only stammer out as Yamato, if she could even call her that anymore raised the knife above her.
"You'll find out soon enough".
Just as she was about to drag the knife down into Shiena's skull, Yamato's expression faltered and she dropped the knife. Her hands went to her head and she groaned out in agony, her teeth and eyes clenched together.
"Oh no you fucking don't! Get back in here!".
Shiena was breathing heavy and wide eyed at the scene before her. She knew she should take this opportunity and run but her body was stuck as she watched Yamato hit her head with her palms.
"Sh-shiena! Get out of here please!".
That was Yamato's voice without a doubt and the woman pulled herself away from Shiena whilst fighting with whatever was going on in her head. She was on the ground now and managed to turn her head slightly to the side to see Shiena's face.
The brunette gasped and stumbled forward to try and help Yamato when she noticed that her eyes went back to purple but her girlfriend put a hand out to halt her.
"No please don't come near me! I'll hurt you, just go!" Yamato yelled out.
Shiena was so confused at what to do, Yamato was herself again but it looked like she was straining herself to stay there and as she glimpsed the blue eyes coming through, the purple fading beneath the new colour, it only made her perplexed at what to do.
"Ig-ignore her Shiena, you wouldn't leave me like this would you?".
The other voice, it was said in a sneering tone as the blue eyes locked with hers.
Again, Yamato shook her head and faced away from Shiena, "Shiena, go now!".
The brunette slowly stood up as Yamato continued grabbing her head and grunting with so much effort to keep it normal. She had no idea what was happening to Yamato but she knew she couldn't leave her, she had seen this before. She realised that she was in danger if Yamato's other side showed up so as a safety precaution, Shiena quickly glanced around the room and found her briefcase laying at the side and grabbed it.
She had to be careful about how she would do this, precision being the key between life and death. She hoisted the case up in her hands and stepped towards the struggling woman, picked out the area that wouldn't cause much damage on Yamato's head and hit her with the briefcase.
Yamato instantly collapsed with a groan and Shiena dropped it and rushed to her side, grabbing a pillow to make sure her head was supported.
She was panicking but tried to keep a hold of herself as she checked her girlfriend's pulse and breathed a sigh of relief to feel it strongly.
"I'm so sorry" she muttered and stroked back the purple hair whilst grabbing her phone, "I'm never going to leave you when you need me. I don't know what's going on but we'll fix it, I promise. Just hang in there baby".
Shiena already had a few theories about what she had witnessed happening to Yamato. She had seen the same with a friend of hers and she knew she was the only one that could help her.
As her shaky hand dialled the number whilst her other hand rested on Yamato's cheek, she wondered what was her girlfriend keeping from her.
"Shinya? I, I need your help!".
Chapter 2: Refrain
Yamato's eyes slowly blinked away the sleep as the sun hit her face, at least she presumed it was the sun until her vision cleared and she stared up to see lights.
Her head was pounding and she groaned when putting her hand to the back of her head to find a lump there. She slowly sat up and realised she was on a bed once she had managed to sit back against the wall. Her eyes were still heavy with sleep so it took her a moment to get her bearings together, trying to recall the last thing she could remember.
And when she did, all the sleep from her had dissipated in a instant.
Yamato leaped out of the bed and finally looked around to see herself in a small, padded room that was all white. Her clothing consisted of her own grey sweatpants and a white t-shirt, she definitely didn't recall wearing that. Her panic returned as she noticed that in front of her was a window of glass, she was trapped in this room with no way out. Her vision frantically searched the inside of her room to find nothing and when she looked back out of the glass, she noticed computers and all sorts of technology scattered around the room.
"Where am I?".
Shiena kept running around in her mind as Yamato tried to piece together what happened. She steadied herself, her hands on her knees and took a deep breath, "I can't remember..".
Just then, the door outside of the room opened and Shiena came striding in with 3 other women behind her, one she remembered as Shiena's friend.
The brunette pressed her hands against the glass whilst Yamato did the same, her eyes taking in the woman to make sure she was okay.
Yamato however noticed the bruise on the brunette's face and tried to touch it before the glass blocked her path.
"What happen, Shiena?! Are you okay?!".
"I'm fine" she gulped out and felt like crying at seeing Yamato's face of anxiety and confusion and fear.
She was usually the pinnacle of being steady and secure, always knowing what to do and being able to remain calm if things got hectic. But seeing her lover like this, so vulnerable and exposed made the brunette's heart ache.
"Open the seal, please!" Shiena urged when she turned to face the other two women that Yamato didn't recognise.
"For your safety, I don't recommend that, Shiena" the tall blonde replied and stepped up closer to greet Yamato.
"Safety" Yamato repeated as flickers of her memory jolted to life.
"I'm Ayase Eli and this is Nishikino Maki" she introduced as the redhead next to her nodded and looked at Yamato with intrigue, "You are currently at the NAP headquarters, that's Nishikino/Ayase Pharmaceuticals. Yamato, can you remember anything from the last 24 hours?" Eli said gently.
Shiena was watching her intently and hadn't stepped away. She looked exhausted, the bruise on her cheek looking painful and the concern in her eyes so palpable.
Shinya was stood behind her and offered a sympathetic smile whilst Yamato tried hard to remember what had happened.
Out of all the people, why was Shinya with them? And why was she locked up in a pharmaceutical company.
Her hands clenched against the glass, "Last night..".
Shiena's brown eyes never left her gaze, a strike of fear coming through them but only for a brief moment. That's when Yamato noticed her knuckles on the glass, they were red as if she'd delivered a punch to something with all her might and her eyes trailed back to Shiena's cheek.
"Oh no.." she whispered as it all started to come back, "Shiena, I'm..".
"It's okay, Yamato, it's okay. What can you remember?".
"I was asleep next to you and then..when I woke up I was standing in our room but I couldn't move. You were asleep and I was watching you but it wasn't me".
"Were you alone when you realised you were awake in your room?" Maki questioned.
"I don't know. I don't know where I was but somebody was there with me".
"Where was this person?".
Yamato's eyes locked with Maki's when she was about to answer.
"She..she was in my head. Or rather, it felt like I was in my body but in her head" she said quietly when the connotations behind Shinya's presence there made sense, "She wanted to kill Shiena and kept fighting me for control" Yamato continued and shook her head and looked apologetically at the brunette, tears flowing down now, "She came back".
Yamato dropped to the floor, Shiena following her, "Open the seal, now!" she demanded at Eli.
She needed to hold her, to tell her that it was going to be okay, that she wasn't alone and that she will fix this. She wanted to wipe away her tears and guilt that she was feeling, she wanted to unleash whatever was inside Yamato's head and make it disappear forever, she wanted to give her peace.
There was so much Shiena wanted to do but to have her in her arms was a start.
"I said open the goddamn seal!".
"No, Shiena no!" Yamato quickly said and wiped her eyes and looked at the other women, "I can't control her so please don't do that. That's why Shinya is here, right? Because she knows what is happening?".
"I would've hoped we'd have a catch up on pleasanter terms but it's alright, we can sort this" the woman smiled and picked Shiena up when Yamato stood up, "Ya have an idea as to what's going on don't ya?".
Yamato nodded though she was unsure as to how much she herself was aware of.
The woman couldn't escape what her parents had tried to shield her from and that in turn had almost resulted in ending Shiena's life. But since last night was the first time she was aware of the other presence in her head, Yamato had no clue as to when she took over and what she had done.
Eli and Maki looked at each other before the latter spoke up.
"Yamato, this isn't the first time that your MPD has occurred has it?".
Multiple Personality Disorder.
Shiena already guess that it was mentally inclined, her discussion with Shinya confirming that but MPD was a whole different level of mental health disturbances. What Shiena didn't know was what had triggered it in Yamato. There was no mention of anything of a strenuous nature whenever they talked about problems in their lives, including the past but Yamato had obviously kept a few things in the dark, be it with intent or unintentionally.
She couldn't blame her for not wanting to tell her.
"No. But this is the first time I've had awareness of it".
"I see. Well, we'll get into the discussion of this as soon as possible but before that, if it's okay, we'd like to carry out a CAT scan and MRI as well as a few other basic medical tests. That way we can rule out anything else and also get a better ruling as to the condition. Determining any mental health related diagnostics can be difficult and ambiguous so we'd like to be as thorough as possible".
"Okay" she replied and looked back at Shiena, "Can we have a moment alone please".
"Of course" Eli said and started to head towards the door with the others, "Shiena can notify us when you're ready. Ideally, we'd like to start as soon as possible as I have a feeling your alias may be biding her time".
The thought of that woman made Shiena shudder, even more so that she was in Yamato's head and trying to take over. She might not be aware of how she came to be but the brunette knew that whatever Yamato's past consisted of and if it was anything like Shinya's, then this wouldn't be smooth sailing to amend. Anything regarding the mind never was.
Yamato rested her head against the glass and closed her eyes, "I'm so sorry, Shiena".
"Please don't, this..this isn't your doing" Shiena said instantly and knocked on the glass gently to get the woman to look at her, "I can't even begin to imagine what you are feeling right now".
"I can't see this being easy for you. To wake up in the middle of the night to find..her, me, trying to hurt you. To know that there are things that I haven't told you" Yamato sighed, "Lying to you wasn't my intention, please believe me when I say that. I thought it was gone, I thought she was gone".
Shiena reassured her with a soft smile that spoke everything she wanted to say, that she believed her no matter what, "Yamato, who..is she?".
"You know how Mahiru's alter ego was Shinya?".
The brunette nodded when she thought back to the time where Shinya was the part of Mahiru that remained dormant unless she needed her. Mahiru was the main resident and Shinya was the persona she created when she felt fear and in danger. Shinya surfaced when situations like that arose, like Mahiru's defender. Enduring an abusive and traumatic past at the hands of her uncle and having no parents or anyone to help her, Shinya was born in the confines of the basement where she was kept captive. Shinya saved Mahiru from her uncle, she killed him.
But from what both Mahiru and Shinya have confirmed, neither sought to harm anyone like Yamato's alter ego had attempted without reason.
"Otoya was mine".
A name to the vicious face helped to separate her from Yamato.
"I mentioned that I moved from my home town when I finished school. It was because I was targeted by bullies since a young age due to my quiet nature. These bullies, were not like the usual.." Yamato trailed off as her locked up memories started to unravel as she mentioned to Shiena what they were capable off.
Their antics were borderline psychotic and death inducing, dragging her to abandoned buildings and throwing her off the edge whilst she was tied around the waist with a rope. Keeping her head down in the pools whenever they visited there till she passed out. Severally beating her when the teachers had to leave. Cruel and callous pranks that left her unable to move due to fear. Humiliated on a daily basis. The list was endless and Yamato took it all.
Her parents were oblivious to most of it until she became completely withdraw and refused to communicate with anyone, shutting herself out .
What they hadn't known was that Yamato's only company was within her own head, with Otoya who she relied on whilst enduring what she had. She shut off completely, alone with Otoya in her head whilst those that tortured her did as they pleased and only once was it over she would come out of her trance to face whatever was done.
Otoya comforted her, held her and told her to stay strong and not give in. She told her that she was never alone, that she would always remain by her side. Nobody else had to know about their relationship. If they knew they'd take her away and Yamato didn't want that so she welcomed the presence of Otoya filtering into her brain. It was noticeable at first, the change was instant and Yamato didn't mind having a break to forget about what was going on.
But unconsciously, Otoya had gained enough leverage in Yamato's head that she had enough of a presence to shut Yamato down and take control. She did it without leaving a trace that she had been the one operating.
That was until 7 individuals, 7 teens started to die in horrific ways.
It was only by sheer luck that Yamato's parents had found her in the act of sawing the final victim in half in an abandoned stretch of land that they owned, just as Otoya had switched back to Yamato. They pulled her away from the body before she could see what she had done and given the fact that she seemed unaware of what had happened, her parents covered up the murder and kept all the details hidden from the girl. Soon after they kept a close eye on her till they moved and nobody in the town, not even Yamato was aware of what had happened.
She still didn't know of her actions right at that moment.
They'd completed the medical check up throughout the day which left Yamato drained so she was asleep for the evening. Maki and Eli kept an eye on her whilst telling Shiena to get some rest at the overnight facilities that were located in the living areas for the staff. The brunette only agreed on the basis that she was to be notified as soon as her girlfriend was awake.
Eli was sat at the computer and sifting through the scans with Maki and their senior neurologists Kouko and Fusou. Fusou was checking Yamato's stats whilst monitoring the woman as she slept. Her blood pressure and brainwaves seemed to be steady as she was in the 3rd stage of NREM sleep though she had to be given a supplement to induce her sleep due to her insomnia.
"What do you think, Maki?".
"It's hard to tell but the prognosis for determining anything was a hindrance. Between PTSD, BPD and the other variations of mental dissonance, Yamato's brain scans show substantial change in the region that controls memory. Given her PTSD, insomnia and severe depression, her condition could've escalated to what it is now".
"She managed to tuck away her memories, her mind's natural defence to the trauma she endured as a child and teen but not without the aftermath already taking place" Kouko stated whilst reading the notes, "Her alter ego had already named itself so it's safe to assume that she had been festering within her subconscious. Not only that, Yamato went undiagnosed and received no counselling or therapy as she grew older".
"Do we think her parents have something to do with that?" Eli questioned, "What do we know about them? Any hereditary or psychological conditions?".
"The parents became estranged from Yamato as soon as the headed to university. Shiena hasn't met them & they've been together for 4 years. From what Yamato said, all she recalls was that they worked a lot and usually left her to her own vices when growing up, more so after they moved" Fusou said and went back to the desks, "It doesn't seem like a hostile environment but it was apparent that there was no connection between her and her parents".
"If they had a small presence in her life and didn't notice the abuse Yamato was enduring, who's to say what else they missed" Maki added, "Which makes me wonder that the only reason Yamato couldn't seal away the memories of the actual bullying is because of Otoya".
Eli considered her partner and lover's words, "You think she would have achieved that much of an overtake?".
"I wouldn't rule it out" Kouko answered grimly, "She tried to murder her girlfriend less than, 15 hours ago".
"Fair point" Eli said, "MPD patients suffer heavy memory loss and for Yamato that is prevalent which begs the question, why was she aware of the persona of Otoya last night and not the times when Otoya was merely a figment of escapism from her ordeal?".
"One was in her head and the other was her, is her should I say. Traumatic experiences inadvertently come back as memories but for Yamato, what triggered it?" the redhead questioned.
"We're coming up with more questions than answers" Fusou sighed and felt helpless, "Would it be safe to say that in Yamato's case, it can be maintained as was the case for Shinya".
"Shinya and Yamato's circumstances differ greatly to second guess that" Maki replied, "Not to mention that the procedure that we used was actually the fourth trial".
"That worked" Eli said, "We've been researching this for the last 7 years, Maki and we finally had a breakthrough with Mahiru's case. At least we can offer them that if worst comes to worst, it is why Shinya contacted us after all".
"True, though it's best if we try and find other solutions first. Otoya is obviously a threat but since we have her contained, we have time. That aside, it's hard to know when she has been active".
"Maybe a CBT session will allow us more insight into Yamato's state of mind at this given moment".
"Or maybe, you let me the fuck out of here!" a voice suddenly said with the slam of a palm against the glass.
The four women jumped up , unaware that Yamato, or more so Otoya had awoken.
They surrounded the door and watched the woman closely, noticing the stark difference between Yamato and Otoya's facial expressions and personalities.
"How many cases of MPD showed this much of a change, Eli?".
The blonde was too stunned to answer, the silence being an answer enough.
"It's rude to stare" Otoya feigned with indignation and slammed her closed fist against the glass again, "Now, who do we have to strangle to let us out of this fucking hell hole".
"You say 'we', are you implying that this is something Yamato wants?" Kouko asked.
"Yamato? She doesn't know what she wants, that's why I am here duh" the alter ego replied and folded her arms against her chest, "To think, I was so close last night..".
"Close to what, Otoya?".
She grinned at Fusou, her teeth showing as she pressed her palms over the glass where the neurologist was.
"Why don't you come a little closer so that I can whisper it in your ear? You're pretty cute. Perhaps not Yamato's type but I'm certainly flexible".
Perhaps not Yamato's type but I'm certainly flexible".
Fusou remained unfazed at Otoya's advances, her red eyes remaining on the woman's startling blue ones.
"You seem to be under the impression that it is you who owns Yamato's body" she replied as Eli motioned for them all to step back whilst Kouko went out of the room to retrieve Shiena.
"Hah, she's merely a vessel for me. If it wasn't for me, she would've been dead a long time ago".
"So you think she owes you?".
Otoya looked at Maki, "She is me Doc, I thought you'd figure that out. You know, being cooped up in that loser's head really takes its toll. The last time I had this much fun, we were teens and I was doing her a favour".
"What do you mean?".
Just then, Shiena stormed in with Shinya and Kouko but instantly froze when she saw Otoya's features instead of Yamato's.
"Aw look who has joined us, say, how's your face?" she snickered and stepped back from the glass, "Why don't you be a darling and let me out of here. Is this anyway to treat your girlfriend?".
"You're not Yamato. What do you want from her?" the brunette replied as firmly as she could though inside, she was a mess.
Otoya laughed and then sighed in a melodramatic manner, "Just as I was saying to these quacks, she is me. So much for the so called professionals huh".
Shiena wondered if Yamato was in there, if she could hear her speaking, if she was watching them through Otoya's eyes.
"This one's a real a piece of work isn't she" Shinya commented whilst stepping closer, "There's a whole loada crazy in those eyes. I feel bad for
Otoya snarled at her with a smirk, "And who the fuck are you?".
"I'm you, but stronger and less batshit crazy" Shinya chuckled when Otoya kicked the glass in front of her, "Obviously smarter too".
The interaction was something else for the other women in the room. To see a patient that hadn't received any medical help and one that had received it facing off in such a way. Maki and Eli exchanged a knowing glance of bafflement at what they were witnessing.
"We'll see who's a smartass when I rip your throat out" Otoya threatened and paced the space within the room, "Though in order for me to do that, I really need to get out of here so if you would be so damn fucking kind and make that happen. I have places to be and people to have fun with".
"Is this when you decide to override Yamato's conscious, is it a nocturnal time range for you?".
"Ah that would be telling, where's the fun in that. Why would I want to ruin it for Shiena".
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?!" Shiena replied with a raise of her voice, not sure if she truly wanted to know.
"Maybe you don't know your girlfriend as well as you think..or girlfriends should I say as we've spent many nights together" Otoya sneered at her, "That weakling is too gentle don't you think? I'm sure you appreciate the more rougher touches, no?".
"You..no.." Shiena muttered out at what Otoya was referring to. Her face went pale and shook her head, Shinya's hand on her shoulder getting her to look at her.
"She's pushing your buttons Shiena, it was still Yamato, just a sick and deranged side of her that you hook up with. It isn't like she was a stranger which is what this nutter is trying to make you believe. Yamato's body, but her mind, still crazy but not as disturbing as what she is suggesting".
"She's right" Maki stated and looked at a clearly entertained Otoya, "It's a fine line between everything when it comes to MPD patients but ultimately, they are one individual".
"One that she is trying to replace" Kouko added.
"Ooh you catch on fast don't you" the woman sarcastically praised, "I'll give you props for that. You see, getting rid of Shiena would've given me more leverage over Yamato which is why..".
"You tried to kill me".
"Points to the banging brunette" Otoya clapped and winked, "Death can tip people over the edge, especially for one as hopelessly into you as Yamato is. Then again, given her life, you are the most normal person in it which made it fucking difficult to drive Yamato into madness. Truly, you fucked up my plans far too often that it was getting tiresome. Killing the others was merely me biding my time and refreshing old skills. It had been some time after all".
"What others, Otoya?" Eli questioned with worry as she was aware of the killing spree that had been occurring.
The woman bowed in humoured apology, "Oh silly me for forgetting to mention" she smiled slyly when standing upright again, "Me and Yamato have left our handiwork all over your little town. In fact, just before Shiena scuppered my final opportunity to finish her off, Yamato and I had been enjoying some time at a party a few streets away from home. Though you'll hear all about it tomorrow morning".
Shiena's eyes widened in horror, "What have you done..".
Otoya put her hands behind her back and looked up in thinking with an innocent smile on her face before sitting on the bed, Let's see now.. Monday's victims was a wonderful refresher. Rin was she called? Out for a late night jog but 'accidently' fell into the lake and drowned. Her tongue was consumed by the fish apparently but I cut it off and gave it to a cat nearby" she chuckled, "It was so cute!".
The women listened on with horror at the realisation as to what this meant; who they were looking at.
"Hm, Tuesday was the cute psychic, Nozomi. She told me that my future would be dangerous but little did she know that her own wasn't faring any better after I knocked her over the head with her own crystal ball, dragged her over to the circus area and provided her as chow for the lions act. When I say 'dragged', I mean I had to hide her body till later at night where I could use the cleaver to cut through those tough but bones and stuffed her into the lion's lunch for the next day. Honestly, a wink and flirt and I had the zookeeper eating from my hands whilst she ate something else. If you know what I mean".
She didn't give them a chance to let it settle in before describing Wednesday's victim, "Hmm, Kotori I met on Wednesday. She was on her way to the airport to start studying at some University in America but she only made it as far as front door. In her luggage case. It was like a game of Tetris when chopping her up and placing her into the case" she giggled, "Though Thursday's pick would've been the perfect height to fit in it instead. Nico was it? She talked too much for my liking so made it look like she fell off a three story building after breaking her spine. Hanayo was on Friday and she was a lovely pick. Her eyes were to die for, am I right".
Maki had gained access to the records of the victims and listening to Otoya so casually list how she killed them was unnerving. She was the embodiment of narcissistic psychopath, bragging about her crimes as if she was brilliant. The way the neurologist saw it, they were getting a live and recorded confession of everything Otoya was saying so on the unlikely chance that she did erase any traces of Yamato, they'd have the evidence to lock her up for life.
"Which means that you..Umi, you killed her?".
Shiena's earlier apprehension was replaced with anger, her fists clenching at the killer's smirking face.
"Nuh uh, your sweetheart Yamato and I did. I should add, Umi was so well behaved that it almost saddened me to slit her throat like that..almost".
"You twisted fucking psychopath" Shinya voiced out with disgust at what the others were thinking.
"Now now, complimenting me will get you nowhere" Otoya winked coyly, "Ah, Yamato is going to be thrilled to know that she slaughtered her own friend!".
"No! You did this! You can spin this however the help you want but you'd better think again with blaming Yamato!" Shiena yelled out, "She wouldn't hurt a fucking fly, unlike you, you're the fucked up one!".
"You say that now but all those bastards that made Yamato's life a hell were sorted by me" Otoya countered easily, "Ohh you don't know?" she laughed at the confused faces", "To be fair, not even Yamato knows about this. Her old town where they lived saw 7 dead corpses of those who fucked Yamato up. Those who made her suffer, who made her create me to keep her safe. Me who avenged her you could say. We fucked those cretins up, made them experience even half the pain they caused Yamato. Doesn't that justify it, Shiena? You can't hate me for that, I saved your precious girlfriend".
"It.. It doesn't change anything!" Shiena screamed at what Otoya had said. All of it was on overdrive in her head and she felt her legs falter before Kouko and Eli grabbed her, "It changes nothing, changes nothing. Let Yamato go, if you are doing this for her wellbeing then let her free".
Otoya sighed and shook her head, giving a patronising smile at the distraught brunette, "No can do. I still have business with her".
Shiena tears were streaking down her face whilst she hoped that Yamato would come through, that she'd see her comforting eyes again, hear her tender voice and yearn for her mind that was nothing like Otoya's.
But as she was dragged away by the others after they'd call it a day and left a screaming and furious Otoya yelling in her room, Shiena wondered how this knowledge would affect Yamato.
After Otoya has finally succumbed to sleep sometime during the early morning, Yamato had woken up a few hours later, her throat feeling raw and painful due to the alter ego's ranting. She was confronted by Shiena, Maki and Eli after she'd been accompanied by two guards to freshen up and eat.
She was currently back in the enclosure, her bloodshot purple eyes staring at a laptop that was playing the security tape from last night. Yamato wouldn't have believed what she was seeing even after that night Otoya physically tried to shut her out mentally. But as the taunts, the confessions, the threats to Shiena and the cold lack of remorse continued to play, her world continued to fall apart until the neurologists explained a limited tested procedure that could help her.
The one that Shinya had undergone.
As soon as the video recording ended, Yamato had already made up her mind, "Do it, the procedure to get rid of her".
Her eyes were wide as saucers, she felt sick to her stomach at Otoya's confessions, at her existence, at the fact that this was the person she created in her head to keep her safe. She had the blood of 14 people on her hands because of her, one of which was dear to her. That was something she couldn't live with knowing, knowing that Otoya was still in her head and enjoying every moment whilst waiting for the next opportunity.
Her final opportunity which consisted of finishing Shiena off.
"Shiena, please" Yamato whispered when the brunette moved towards the glass, "If all that wasn't bad enough, talking to you through this, knowing that I can't keep you safe, knowing that it is her who'd harm you is enough to do the procedure. I know it has risks, I know but not trying to fix it has risks in itself. All those people that she killed, even, even those from my past, it's too much. Please, I have to do this".
Eli and Maki had talked Yamato through the procedure that Shinya had trialled.
Whereas Mahiru was shy, reserved and unable to form emotional ties with people, Shinya stepped forward to take her place so between the two, it was decided that Shinya would gain complete full access. Both personalities were in synch unlike Yamato and Otoya which is why it wasn't as disastrous as it could've been. It was why Mahiru had managed to maintain a relatively normal life all things considering, because of Shinya's presence.
In Yamato's case, it'd be the loud and unhinged persona of Otoya that would be cancelled and frozen in her head. Otoya's motives were much more sinister for an alter ego and that was already proven. She was a danger to Yamato after years of being concealed and lack of psychiatric help.
The procedure was quick and non intrusive, an injection containing a newly developed serum that would conceal the part of the brain that held Otoya's presence and formation in it. That being said, whether it worked couldn't be determined right away and there was a high risk that the other memory components might be affected. Other than Shinya, it was tested on three others in the past, two of the patients resulting in brain damage that was irreversible and left them in a vegetative state.
The other patient's results fluctuated too much to determine whether the serum had worked and had to be kept under close observation. They remained on a heavy dose of antidepressants as well as frequent sessions of psychotherapy but still, the results were inclusive.
It'd be 3 years since Shinya's successful trial and the company had been perfecting the serum as much as they could. After identifying which combinations reacted well with the normal flow of the brain's chemicals, they had established a basic mould that would be used as it guaranteed safer results.
"Are you sure about this? Despite Shinya's results, we can't state that it'll be a 100% success rate for yourself, Yamato".
"There is no other choice is there" Yamato said and stood up from the chair, "I'm no expert on the field of treatment for psychological conditions but there is always a slim chance of any method ever working out. The side effects of antidepressants numbing you till you're nothing but an empty body, therapy making things worse, accidental sectioning, progression to more fatal mental conditions, whatever I choose there is always going to be negative" she said and looked at the two neurologists with an apologetic smile, "No offence to your profession of course".
"None taken, that is why we do what we do, to improve and find better solutions" Eli smiled back.
The brunette nodded and wiped her eyes, "If it's what you want to do, then I support you, Yamato".
The woman desperately needed to feel Shiena next to her. Since that night, she had been under lock down and though Yamato knew it was for the best given how uncertain she was about when Otoya decides to show up, it still made her feel weak without being able to even hold her hand. Otoya had literally blocked off the space between them and she couldn't allow that to continue. Just looking into the brunette's tired eyes and pale face was enough to cause the guilt to rack up about what she had unintentionally put her through.
Yamato needed a permanent solution to this and if a procedure with only 1 success was the chance she had, it was one to be taken.
She turned to Maki and Eli, "How soon can you set this up?".
"Within an hour" Maki replied, "Though with the possibility of Otoya listening in and having ideas of her own, we can provide you with an anaesthetic to put you to sleep now so that she can't try and take over".
"That might be for the best" Yamato said.
"Okay, I'll send an anaesthetist down whilst we prep the procedure" Eli stated, "We'll see you both in a few".
The two left the room leaving Shiena and Yamato face to face, "It's going to be okay".
"Isn't it me that is supposed to be comforting you?" Shiena chuckled softly and placed her hand on the glass, Yamato's following suit.
"The fact that you are still here after everything you have seen and heard and felt is..a miracle I guess" Yamato replied and held the brown eyes,
"You certainly would have every right to lea-".
"Don't finish that sentence, dummy" the brunette cut in with a chiding tone though she was smiling slightly, "I love you. I'm not leaving you just because your inner voice is a pain in the ass and a murderer. You are not what she is, she will never be what you are, what I fell in love with and always will be in love with. Is that clear?".
Yamato felt her heart flutter at the sincerity and honesty in her girlfriend's words and eyes. She knew that despite what happened, Shiena would be by her side and it was enough motivation to pull her mind through this. To eradicate the toxic presence of Otoya, to take back her mind and make up for the damage she had caused.
"Crystal clear. I love you" Yamato said warmly, "So very much".
"You'd better prove it by being out here after the procedure".
"Always with the hefty demands, Shiena" the woman laughed, "Hey?".
"What is it?".
Yamato looked away briefly before returning her gaze on Shiena and cleared her throat, a light blush appearing on her face.
"I had something so much more romantic planned but thanks to it, I might not have chance to do this so..".
"Can you go home whilst I'm in the operating room".
"Uh, sure but I'd rather be here waiting for you".
"You can come back as soon as you do this for me" Yamato smiled at the looked of curiosity on Shiena's face.
She continued when Shiena nodded, "At home, behind the first shelf on the bookshelf, which you can't reach" she winked when the brunette pouted but was visibly shaking, "You'll find a black box" she continued and got down on one knee, her hand still where Shiena's was.
"Yamato.. " the brunette whispered and was on the verge of tears.
"If you agree to spending the rest of your life with me and a slightly frozen psychopath.." she chuckled, "You would make the happiest woman alive. Shiena, will you marry me?".
Shiena dropped to her knees and the overwhelming urge to attempt to break the glass between them became strong as she nodded her head,
"Yes, I will marry you".
Yamato laughed in relief as her own tears spilled, if the worst did occur, at least she could die knowing that she'd have married the brunette.
Though her desire to overcome this was strong already, she needed to get though this to make their reality happen, to spend her life with the woman who opened her eyes to what happiness truly is. To spend her life adoring and appreciating the woman who made every torrid memory of her past fade away whilst building new ones.
"I love you" she repeated to Shiena as they both enjoyed the brief moment of happiness and positivity after an agonising few days.
And with luck and hope, they'd have plenty more happiness to look forward to.
Whilst walking to the elevator, Maki stopped Eli from getting on by taking her hand in hers.
"Maki, what is it?".
The younger woman looked pensive, her violet eyes in a slight frown that was laced with worry.
"Are we sure about this?".
Eli pulled her closer by tugging on her shirt and held her, "I wish there was something else we can do but we have a part serial killer in there. One that seems adamant in ruining Yamato and continuing on with her killing spree".
Maki sighed and rested her head on the blonde's shoulder. No matter how many years they had done this, no matter how many patients came through their doors, she could never get used to the uncertainty that their profession was renowned for. It was all experimental and dangerous and risky, things they had to make clear to their patients but it didn't mean they felt good about it.
Especially when it went wrong.
"I guess so".
"We'll do what we can to make sure she gets through this, even if it fails we'll find something else".
Maki allowed the comfort of Eli's voice and words to sooth her inner fears, there was no point in dwelling over details that were staple and couldn't be altered, they just had to focus on the outcome and making it as successful as possible.
Chapter 3: Relapse
Feeling a lot lighter than she had done, Yamato had drifted into a peaceful due to the anaesthesia. She was soon transported to the operation theatre after being prepped for the procedure.
Maki and Eli, along with Fusou and Kouko were present along with a handful of nurses if things didn't go to plan.
A small incision was made on Yamato's head that would allow the serum to be pumped into the medial temporal lobe's bloodstream without needing to operate on her skull with too much intrusive equipment. The needle point itself had a laser like tip that could easily protrude any hard surface and using a small camera to guide the needle in was straightforward but incredibly delicate work past the skull.
The idea was to isolate the part of the hippocampus, which was a part of the limbic system that controls the attributes of memory. On Yamato's scan, there was section of it that had a higher mass to it, almost like a tumour, so the serum would help to reduced the swelling of the component.
They had Shinya's before and after scan on the monitor to make sure they had the exact location of where the serum would infuse with the regions natural blood flow.
Short term memory and long term memory were stored in different ways and cells, which was something else that had baffled the medical community since research went into it and since it was the repressed long term memory bank that was often linked to MPD, it made it much more of a challenge to find a suitable solution to it. The brain is still considered as one of the least covered organs in terms of research, even the bottom of the sea and space have had more discoveries made.
Thus, it makes it a controversial and often confusing topic of discussion for all involved in the field.
This much Maki and Eli knew before taking over N.A.P that was formed by their families decades ago.
For them, if it all went well it would be another breakthrough which would allow more researchers into testing the serum and improving it to cure a range of mental ailments.
"Alright, that is done" Eli said beneath her face mask to the others, "Patch her up and keep her monitored at all times please".
"Her room has already been set up with what is necessary so please take her there" Maki added after stepping back and giving a nod to Eli.
They had done what they had aimed to do and now, all they could do is wait.
Though for Shiena, the waiting was drilling a hole in her stomach because of the nerves and need to see Yamato.
She and the others waited anxiously outside of Yamato's room, both to keep an eye on her and to see if the procedure worked. The brunette had already paced her way across the floor over 50 times till Shinya blocked her path, placed her hands in her shoulder and told her to breath.
"I'm sorry, I'm just..".
"You've got nothing to apologise for, as soon as she is awake, they'll call for ya" Shinya reassured as Shiena breathed and took a seat on the chair.
She rubbed her face as Fusou brought her a coffee and the brunette thanked her.
"The procedure itself went smoothly and that is always a positive note".
"Thank you, honestly I, I can't say it enough.. and to you, Shinya".
"Ah don't worry about it, you know me and Sumi have got your back. Besides," she grinned when she saw the ring on Shiena's finger, "It's been a while since we teased you two about marriage. Congrats!".
The brunette blushed and showed the ring just as Fusou was called away, "Thank you, it was definitely a proposal and a half".
"All the more reason that she's gonna be fine, Shiena. No way she'd do that only to lose to this thing".
Yamato said the same thing and hearing it again certainly helped. Soon enough, they'd be able to resume their life and put this mess behind them.
Just then, Maki and Eli came out of the room, "She's awake" the blonde smiled.
Shiena took a deep breath and followed them in along with Shinya. Yamato was still behind the glass but the brunette could see her stirring awake whilst she sat up.
She couldn't see her face as she was sat sideways, her palms on the bed. Her hair was masking her face when she took a deep breath and slowly shook her head.
Shiena's breath paused in her throat, her finger twirling the ring on her finger as she waited for Yamato to get a sense of where she was. It'd taken her 5 hours after the procedure to make sure her vitals were steady and now, as she stood up and turned them, Shiena felt her heart swell at the way she was smiling at her.
Maki and Eli shared an approving nod as the former opened the seal and allowed the glass to slide open. Yamato was still there, no essence of Otoya peeking through as she normally showed herself at this time but no, this was definitely Yamato.
She slowly outstretched her hand, Shiena rushing forward to embrace her and the tears were let loose at finally being able to be in her arms again.
Yamato laughed in happiness as she squeezed tighter, afraid that this was all a dream and that Shiena would disappear. The warm body against hers was proof of that, as were the gentle sobs in her chest and the hands wrapped behind her back. She heard her repeat her name over and over, as if she herself wasn't believing that this was happening.
"Hey, it's okay" Yamato softly whispered as she pulled back and cupped the brunette's face, wiping away her tears with her thumbs and then trailing her fingertips down Shiena's neck, "I'm here".
"No!" Eli jumped forward when her sharp vision noticed the flecks of blue coming from Yamato's eyes but it was too late.
A sickening crack was heard, along with a thud when Eli and Shinya had charged into Yamato, or Otoya, and dragged her to the ground.
"No..no.." Maki whispered as she caught Shiena's body before it could drop to the floor, Kouko and Fusou running into the room and by her side, "No, this can't be".
"Maki! Do something!" Shinya screamed after she kneed Otoya in the ribs to calm her down as she and Eli restrained her, "Shiena..she".
"Whoops, my hand slipped" Otoya giggled and revelled in the horror of the faces around her.
"You fucking prick!" Shinya bellowed with tears in her eyes whilst slamming her knee into Otoya's back.
"I don't understand" Eli muttered to herself whilst the shock of what happened settled in, "It should've worked, it had to work".
Spitting blood out of her mouth after Shinya punched her, Otoya laughed again, "It did work".
"What the hell are you fucking saying?!".
Otoya stilled and dropped her face so that she was resting her chin on the floor, Eli's frightening gaze on her along with Maki's.
"Whatever the fuck you did in Yamato's brain is working. I can't grasp as much control. It feels like.. like I'm disappearing from Yamato's mind" she confirmed and struggled under the two women's grips, "She's coming back, for good so I thought it would be nice to leave her with the death of Shiena on her hands" she finished with another deep chuckle, "She didn't plan on snapping Shiena's neck, she was gonna kiss her but I managed to get in there and fucking finish her off.
Maki held the deceased brunette in her arms as the twisted revelation settled into the room.
There was no chance of reviving her, the second Otoya's hands found them around Shiena's neck, she twisted it to the right just before she got tackled.
"How much of a life will Yamato have knowing that it was she who killed her dearest girlfriend, hm?" Otoya said, the cold grin on her face growing wider at Eli's defeated look of anger.
"You sunnuva.." Shinya grit out and squeezed Otoya's arms together before recalling it won't be Otoya for long and let loose slightly.
The killer laughed manically at the look of despair on their faces and the lifeless body on the ground.
"Talk about a parting gift huh, give my best to happy couple, or not. That's me out" she added with a last laugh whilst feeling Yamato's conscious fight through her own thought process for the last time, "Goodbye and good night!".
They knew it was Yamato as her body relaxed completely, the aggression gone and the woman groaning in pain. Eli and Shinya couldn't say anything whilst they picked her up and sat her on the ground.
"What's going on? What happened?".
Yamato's eyes were furrowed with worry and confusion when neither women could reply coherently.
"Yamato, we.. "
The woman looked around to see Maki, Fusou and Kouko staring between her and the ground. They looked ashen and devastated, the redhead's eyes watering.
"Where's Shiena.." she said whilst stumbling up.
"Yamato, you don't want to.. ".
She shook off Shinya's hands, feeling like her mind had been finally released but the atmosphere in the room depicted darkness. As she crawled to where they were, Shiena's lifeless body came into view. The angle of her neck was a giveaway that something was horribly wrong.
"Shiena!" she screamed just as Eli and Shinya held her back, "No, please! Wake up! Shiena!" she cried out, "I, don't understand, how did this happen?!".
"She's gone, I can't feel her in my head anymore, Maki. How could she have done..".
Yamato's words stopped as she realised what had happened just as she was about to kiss Shiena, Otoya breaking her way through her thought process for only a few seconds.
But in those few seconds, she had killed Shiena.
Yamato was shaking and staring at her hands, the hands that had caused it even though it wasn't her mind. She shook her head repeatedly as the consequences of Otoya's last moments sunk in.
Eli and Shinya's words didn't reach her, their words of this not being her fault, her not killing Shiena, telling her to not to blame herself whilst they tried to get her out of her trance.
"I'm sorry... ".
"Yamato! Can you hear us!".
"You are not responsible for this! Don't allow her to control you again!".
It didn't matter what they said now, Otoya won.
Yamato was free of her presence but she would never be free from the guilt of what her alter ego had set up for her.