Rating: PG -> PG-13
Warnings: [language] [violence] [shounen-ai] [het]
Pairings: Takeru/Ken, Ruki/Legolas, Daisuke/Juri, Lee/Takato, Ryo/Hikari & Iori/Shuichon
Notes (for Eevee): Yup yup. I know it's Lee Jenrya. ^-^ When I started "Digital" I hadn't seen much of the Japanese version of Tamers, though; I knew that some of the characters called him "Lee" and some of them called him "Jen" but I didn't know which did which, you know? ^^;; So basically, everyone in "Digital" calls him "Lee", except for Shuichon, who calls him either "Jenrya" or "Jen". (I was just too lazy to go back and change it once I'd seen more of the Japanese Tamers... ^.^;;)
Disclaimer: Don't own New Zealand. Don't own The X-Files or The X-Men. Don't own Sailor Moon. Don't own Microsoft. Don't own Scott McNeil. *sniffle* lol. And I certainly don't own Digimon or Lord Of The Rings.
Chapter Twenty: Jiyu (Freedom)
He had strayed out of conscious thought shortly after the Orcs crushed the bones in the index and middle fingers of his left hand. The world was dark and, through the agony that had become his consciousness, not quite clear anymore.
<Can't they just kill me and get it over with?>
Not that it was something he expected to happen any time soon; they had been given free reign with him, an Elf, and were having too much fun. Takeru could just imagine the kind of twisted things that were going through their heads.
Truthfully, he hadn't felt what they were doing to him in hours.
The whip struck, the chains clanks, knives nicked his skin and brands seared into his flesh, but though he was, on some level, aware of what they were doing, the pain no longer penetrated his mind.
And he knew that wasn't right, not that he was complaining.
Since the snapping of his fingers he had only managed to drag himself back into the world of the living once, and that was when they had picked Ken up from the corner and dragged the other boy from the room. At the point he had lifted his head and attempted to struggle free of his bonds...
Needless to say he was less than successful, and it had only earned him another stinging lash across his face.
Blood dripped from where they had him chained to the wall, pooling and congealing on the ground beneath his feet.
Takeru wondered vaguely if Gennai would be able to ‘fix his data' again, assuming he got out. (Which was beginning to become a remote possibility at best.) He also wondered where they had taken Ken.
Shortly after the bluenette had been removed from the room he thought he had heard screaming coming through the thick stone walls, but in his state he couldn't tell if it was real or just a product of the torture he was undergoing.
"You told me you would be more careful." Gandalf chided gently.
"Tried." He responded, without raising his eyes or moving his lips.
"Then how did you find yourself in this position, Child of Hope?"
Damn the Wizard. "You told me I needed to get Ken back before Saruman did something to him."
He was speaking without speaking. He was seeing Gandalf without opening his eyes.
"I told you Saruman had taken him." He corrected, "and I will admit that I wished you to stop him before Ken could be hurt-"
"But he didn't want you to get your stupid ass caught and tortured to death!" Daisuke interrupted, earning a Look from Gandalf. The redhead made an annoyed gesture with one of his hands. "How did you expect to get Ken out of here if you were chained to a damn wall? Hm?"
"Shut up." Takeru responded, "like I wanted this to happen?"
Daisuke clasped his hands in front of himself and made puppy eyes at the other boy. "Oh, please Mr. Saruman, sir! I came here all on my own to face your whole army of Orcs and Uruk-hai against the advice of the future King and all of my friends, so please just throw me to the Orcs and let them torture me while my boyfriend is passed out in the corner! Please!"
Takeru had never glared more venomously in his life as he grated out; "Daisuke. Shut. Up."
"Or what?" The other boy taunted, "you'll bleed on me?"
Finally the blonde raised his head to look at them, his eyes focusing spitefully on his friend and fellow Chosen Child. "You're a bastard, Motomiya."
"It got you moving, didn't it?" He looked supremely pleased with himself. "And I may be a bastard, but at least I'm not chained up in a dungeon, ne? Besides," he added with a wink, "I could probably give your chains a nudge, if you catch my drift. But only if you ask nicely..."
Gandalf was shaking his head and looking as if he regretted bringing Daisuke with him.
Takeru glared a moment longer. "Daisuke-"
"What do you say?" The Child of Courage and Friendship prompted.
"Just do it, you son of a bitch!"
Daisuke pouted. "Jeez. Have a heart attack, why don't you?" And when Takeru's eyes narrowed even more, he sighed. "Fine, fine. You know Gandalf, I'm very underappreciated around here..."
"I can imagine." Gandalf snorted dryly. "Would you be a model of patience, Daisuke, were you in his place?"
A grin. "I'm always a model of patience. I should have a monument or a temple or something built for it."
The Magician rolled his eyes and gestured to Takeru, whose head had dropped down again, his energy spent, and guilt flashed through Daisuke's eyes for a split second as he actually looked at the blonde. Bloody and battered, his skin was marred with lashes where the whip had struck. Ugly patterns spread across the side of his chest, having been burned into him by the Orcs, and a circle-based design had been traced along his right arm with what was probably a knife, but could have been any number of sharp implements.
Biting his lip, Dai flexed his hands nervously. "We can't do anything for him, can we?"
"The chains," Gandalf said, "and nothing more. You, my friend, are no longer bound to this world and have no physical force here. Even your ‘nudging' of the chains will be an entirely mental act."
"I was afraid of that." He heaved another sigh, "well, Takaishi-"
The chains clanked, and Takeru opened his eyes at the noise.
He couldn't have fallen asleep, could he? With what the Orcs were doing to him... impossible. It was, though, entirely possible that he had passed out. He had done it already, he thought, several times. But he couldn't remember them so he couldn't really be sure.
His head came up slowly, dull pain flaring in his shoulders at the movement, the muscles stretching even more than they had been with his arms bound above his head. He looked toward the corner where Ken had been when he had -- ahem -- arrived.
Takeru shifted his gaze around the room, and was surprised to discover that he was alone. His captors were gone, possibly having scurried off while he was dreaming... or hallucinating... about dead people.
<The only thing that could make this day worse would be Devimon walking through the door right about now...>
It was his own fault and he knew it. Dream-Daisuke had been right, at least about that part. Dream-Daisuke was also, he decided, just as obnoxious as Real-Daisuke had been. Why would he dream like that? The obnoxiousness was the part of Dai that he hadn't liked.
Annoyed, he decided he deserved to have twisted dreams, considering.
He twisted his wrists, which were numb and had been for some time.
The chains shifted, clanking again, and then gave the shriek of metal rubbing against metal before abruptly snapping open. Surprised at the sudden release of his hands, Takeru could do nothing to stop himself from falling, and went straight down toward the stone floor, landing with a muffled whump, accompanied by a pained gasp.
Groaning, he cursed his own slow reaction time for a moment, then attempted to raise himself up on his elbows. His shoulders ached at the pressure and it felt as if fire was searing through his veins as the circulation returned to his limbs. Still, gritting his teeth all the while, he forced himself up and propped himself against the wall, half-stretching his legs out in front of him.
Then, having apparently used all of his remaining energy, he had to pause and concentrate on simply breathing. While doing so, he managed to dredge up the strength to begin rubbing the feeling back into his hands and wrists.
<Shit... freaking OW!>
He was angry, of course. Partially with himself, partially with Saruman, partially with Dream-Daisuke and partially with the entire world in general. He couldn't really decide which one took priority, but he suspected it was either himself. Well, himself or Dream-Daisuke...
It seemed to take forever but eventually the pain receded, as did the numbness, and he decided it was time for him to try standing up again. His jaw clenched against the pain that shot up his arm from the shattered fingers of his left hand, he pushed himself up, slowly but surely (with help from the wall) getting to his feet.
For a moment, he stared blankly at the chains that had held him.
They continued to dangle from the bolts that held them to the wall of the dungeon, steel gleaming in the light of the torches that were strewn around the room to give the Orcs enough light to work by.
They had suddenly just... opened...
<I'm being ridiculous.> He stopped the thought before it could work its way around to the dreams -- hallucinations? -- he had just experienced. Instead, he chalked it up to plain good luck and the universe having decided it owed his a break.
Now, he had to go and find Ken.
<Deja fucking vu.> The Child of Hope thought sarcastically as he began a search for something he could use as a weapon and eventually settled on a heavy metal branding iron. <I do believe that's how this entire thing started in the first place...>
He was talking to himself. He knew that. He also knew he was glad he wasn't getting answers. And that was about the only thing he had to be glad about at that point. That and for the fact that he didn't appear to be freely bleeding any more.
Indeed, the wounds that the Orcs had inflicted on him had stopped bleeding, apparently some time ago, as they were stiff and starting to bruise around the edges. The design that had been cut into his skin stung an insane amount and the chunk of what would in the future be scar-tissue on his chest still burned slightly, but he didn't appear to be in any danger from either of those...
What his biggest issue would be his fingers, he decided, as he shifted the branding iron in his hands and cautiously leaned against the doors to push them open. His left hand was badly enough mangled that he wasn't sure he could effectively use it in a fight. Which meant he was down to just his right hand.
Of course, had he been left-handed to begin with, it would have been an even bigger problem. As he currently stood, the crushed digits were an inconvenience -- albeit a painful one -- and nothing more.
<One thing to be thankful of... well, here goes nothing->
His eyes, Elven that they may be, hadn't picked up anything from the gloom beyond the dungeon doors. In his current condition he hadn't sure if they meant there wasn't anything out there, or if he had just been tortured to the point of being unable to see it... or them... whatever.
For once, luck seemed to be on his side.
When he stepped out into the shadows of the hall he wasn't immediately brained with something hard and dehabilitating, which probably would have not only knocked him out, but also killed him, as he wasn't really up to defending himself yet.
Still, he paused to listen on the off chance there was something lurking, unseen and waiting to grab him from behind.
Takeru allowed himself to breathe again.
Slowly but surely he made his way along the rock corridor, which he had to assume was under the tower of Isengard itself, stopping every few yards both to listen for approaching enemies and to rest, as he was quickly running out of steam again.
He hoped he could make it to an exit before he died of exhaustion or blood loss.
"But first," the blonde chided himself softly, "I need to find Ken so we can both get out of here..."
His voice sounded rough, like he'd been eating sandpaper or something similar, and he grimaced at the dryness in his throat.
<My Kingdom for a glass of water.>
The thought was sarcastic, and he knew he had more important things to think about... but the tang of blood on his lips and the gravelly feeling in his mouth were hard to ignore, even given that he was crawling around in Saruman's basement.
His mind was wandering. He wondered for a split second if he was in shock.
Around a corner. Straight for about twenty meters. Left. Right. Stright. Left.
Takeru was beginning to feel edgy. Damp corridor after damp corridor and he hadn't encountered a single Orc. It was almost as if they had all scuttled out of the dungeon at the same time, even leaving forges running in their haste to escape. It almost reminded him of when the fire alarm rang at his school, when hundreds of students filed out of the building in a single momentous movement, leaving everything behind.
He assumed there were no such thing as fire drills where Saruman was from.
So he stared up the dimly-lit and winding staircase, wondering what Fate awaited him should he decide to chance going up.
Then again, he wasn't going to escape by standing there completely spaced out.
But wasn't he relatively safe? Maybe he should rest a moment. He was barely keeping himself upright, after all...
And give them a chance to come back? Besides, Ken hadn't been in the dungeon. He had checked as he went, and had decided that the Child of Kindness was most likely being held in a higher part of Isengard.
He thought maybe with Saruman; likely, the Wizard had wanted to deal with Ken himself after having his minions beat some sense into him...
<Wonderful. I'm talking to myself.>
Snorting in contempt at his own idiocy, he gripped the branding iron tightly in his good hand and quickly pulled himself up the steps, taking them as quickly and as silently as possible, despite the pain that radiated from every part of him at even the idea of climbing stairs.
At the top, he stopped once more to catch his breath. Somewhere during his ascent into the tower itself he had managed to break open some of the previously closed lash marks that crossed both his back and chest, and blood was already trailing down his skin and soaking into what was left of his already ruined tunic.
He ignored it completely, instead focusing his attention on the platform between staircases. He was exhausted. He was bleeding. He was in pain. But since the next flight of stairs was his destination on his way to finding Ken and getting the hell out of there, he needed to continue upward, despite how much his body was complaining.
Strange as it was, he found himself counting the stairs as he made his way up toward the spires of Isengard (and what was possibly his own death, assuming he came face-to-face with Saruman again). Maybe he just needed something to keep his mind occupied...
A hundred and twenty...
A hundred and ninety five...
He lost count at two hundred and seventy seven, mostly because he just couldn't take the monotony of the numbers droning on and on in his head and banished the counting idea from his thoughts.
<I think I'm going to pass out.>
Even the mental counting was draining him, and he fought against an encroaching blackness, clutching the branding iron as if it were a lifeline and staggering to a stop only a few steps from the end of the staircases to lean heavily against the wall.
He breathed deeply, though the smell of the forges below made him grimace, sucking in air and squeezing his eyes shut. He was lightheaded, now. He had overworked himself with the stair-climbing, and his body was (in no uncertain terms) telling him it needed a good long sleep. It was also telling him, apparently, that it intended to get that sleep whether he was a willing participant or not...
<Not yet! Not now! I just have to hold out a little longer and then...>
And then what? He stumbled into Saruman's quarters to threaten the most powerful Wizard in existence with a branding iron? What was he, stupid or something?
He was talking to himself again.
Takeru shook his head, forcing the blackness to fade out, though it still lingered at the edge of his consciousness. He had no doubt that, as soon as he allowed exhaustion to win over stubbornness, he would drop like a rock and stay unconscious who knew how long. It seemed to be a new trend he was developing.
The blonde set his jaw determinedly and continued on to the top of the stairs, then paused to stare at the huge set of double doors that awaited him. Him and his branding iron. God, he was an idiot...
The single word echoed faintly, muffled by the wall that stood between Takeru and the room in front of him, but it was distinctly recognizable as Ken's voice. The scream that the Child of Kindness uttered was followed by another, wordless shriek, seemingly torn from a raw and tortured throat, and Takeru's lightheadedness fled him immediately as he threw himself forward, slamming into the doors and forcing them open with a high pitched creak which echoed in a piercing harmony with Ken's screams.
The blonde stumbled through the entrance, his legs giving out momentarily under the added pressure of pushing the doors inward, and he tripped on the threshold to land on the floor just inside.
The branding iron fell from his grasp and skittered across the floor, gone in an instant.
And Saruman smiled as he raised his head to glare in the Wizard's direction. "I see you've made it all the way here by yourself. I must admit, I do admire your tenacity."
Takeru only snarled in response as he attempted to build up the energy to stand. Meanwhile, his eyes were locked on Ken, who was sprawled on the marble floor at Saruman's feet. The bluenette's eyes were squeezed tightly closed and his hands were clenches into fists and pressed against his temples...
"I suppose you wondered about where my soldiers are?" His attention went back to Saruman, and the Wizard waved a hand dismissively, "they are currently on their way to that Village your friends are at..."
He must have shown a reaction of some kind, though he couldn't be sure what it was. Saruman gave him a half-smirk and then raised both of his hands, brushing aside his robes to get them out of the way.
"Would you care to watch me extract the remainder of the Dark Spore from your friend?"
Takeru was on his feet instantly, his exhaustion forgotten, and leaped forward-
-only to slam into an invisible barrier and bounce painfully backward, colliding with the wall behind him and then falling back down. Blinding pain spiked through his skull and dizziness washed over him for a moment, forcing him to close his eyes.
And he opened them again in time to see Saruman gesture sharply.
Vague shadows formed from the magician's own body, lancing down toward the Child of Kindness, who opened his mouth to scream again -- and was silenced when the shadows sprang down his throat, choking him...
"No!" Takeru's own words were no more than a whisper...
Ken writhed, screaming silently.
His back arched and his fingers spasmed.
He clawed at his throat, gasping to breath.
This time, Takeru's shout wasn't silent, and echoed through the room, reverberating off the walls and making Saruman jerk his attention toward the blonde. His eyes widened in surprise when a strong light flashed-
The Child of Hope, somehow, had managed to dredge up enough energy to activate his Crest.
Takeru pushed himself to his feet, livid and growling angrily under his breath, and stepped forward.
This time, when his body came into contact with the invisible wall Saruman had set in place, the barrier crumbled with an almost silent hiss, like water against flame, and he stepped through with no trouble whatsoever.
The Wizard stifled a gasp and the shadows withdrew from Ken, leaving the blue-haired boy limp on the floor.
Takeru's eyes trained on him for a moment, then movement made him turn toward Saruman, who was raising his hands again and reaching for his staff. And despite his anger, the blonde knew he was no match for Saruman if he had his staff...
Without a moment's thought he jumped forward, skidding to a stop beside Ken, grabbed the other boy, and headed for the nearest exit, which happened to be a balcony. He wasn't sure what he was going to do, but he was to get outside and away from-
He set Ken down once he was out on the balcony itself and quickly shut and bolted the doors; he was running on adrenaline now, and the light from the Crest of Hope had faded to a dull glow, which throbbed along with his racing heartbeat.
A blow connected with the other side of the door, and Takeru stepped back.
Now he had Ken (who was still unconscious), and had (sort of) managed to escape. Except he had escaped to the balcony of Saruman's private chambers. And while it was technically outside of the tower, it was also at least forty stories off the ground...
"What-?" Spinning, he searched the horizon frantically until his eyes landed on the source of the familiar voice. He could barely contain a hysterical giggle of relief, and he waved an arm, ignoring the searing pain that came with the motion; "Angemon!"
The digimon was only a dot in the distance, but was rapidly growing-
Another blow and this time and wood creaked, splinters flying outward from the already cracking doors. The blonde's attention jerked from Angemon to the door and back, and though his mind was clambering with questions, he was too happy to see his partner to bother with most of them.
<Shit! We have to get off of this balcony!>
Angemon was still a way off...
...but not that far.
He made a decision, trusting his long-time friend with not only his life but Ken's, and, picking the Child of Kindness up again, he stepped up onto the railing and took a deep breath. Angemon looked confused for a moment, but Takeru met his gaze and nodded, and the digimon noddedin return.
Behind him, the doors few open, chunks of wood showering around him as he fell, still holding tightly to Ken-
-and was scooped up by Angemon before he could reach the ground.
His heart was in his throat as the digimon wheeled in midair and took off away from Isengard as fast as his wings could take him. Takeru turned around long enough to see Saruman standing on the balcony, his eyes cold and angry, before turning his attention to Ken, who was slumped limply in Angemon's grasp.
He decided not to tell the bluenette about their little fall...
<It's just another thing he doesn't need to worry about.>
"Takeru, are you alright?"
The blonde nodded vaguely, despite the blackness that was invading his vision again.
And he passed out.
Me: Yay. ^^;; I really don't have much to say about this chapter...
Takeru: It's a freaking miracle.
Me: -_-;; ... anyway, I'll share my good news with you all, then! =^.^= I'm now officially playing both Ruki Makino and Renamon for FETKun's Digimon Fandubs. ^^ We're dubbing the 6th movie, Runaway Digimon Express, next. I'm excited!
Ruki: I'm disturbed.
Renamon: I'm worried.
Me: Daijobu yo! *jumps up and down* I'll do you both justice, I swear! ^^