Demons in a Flower Shop


sf_asami2_icon.gif sf_yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Demons in a Flower Shop
Synopsis A woman Yi-Min once knew enters her shop, and after a violent encounter, is made to leave.
Date March 1, 2021


Asami trails nearly to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk, knowing well that the flow of traffic around her isn't going to abide it. But up ahead she's seen the black caps of several police officers heading this way. And her, without a single way to walk past and hide her identity. Her hands slide out of the pockets of her borrowed red jacket. Time was running out if she didn't want to chance her face being noted; for that and worse to possibly happen.

A storefront— a flower shop— is to her immediate left, and without hesitation she reaches for the door and quickly lets herself inside.

Rose and Trellis


A bell over the door chimes softly as Asami lets herself into the otherwise empty flower shop. A look over her shoulder spurns her further away from the front windows just in case, heading further inside. She passes between two rows of displays and settles there, clearly not looking— at least not at the flowers. The fugitive glances twice for the door, and only after does she bother looking to see if any store employees are nearby.

Just as Asami might have suspected, the flower shop isn't empty. At the suddenness of the chime, Yi-Min straightens up from where she had been crouched at the shelves at the back of the shop, rearranging a large display of Indian mallows with gentle, gloved hands. The entrances of her usual customers tend to be pleasant, somewhat sedate affairs— and so the manner of this particular entrance leaves her peering towards the door more closely than usual.

"Excuse me. Can I help you…"

As Yi-Min finds herself staring at the features of her fencing instructor, most of the passive-aggressive primness of her tone fades into unmitigated surprise. "…Asami?"

The look the other woman in the shop gives its owner is one just as surprised, but overall more familiar than it should be.

"Yeh?" Asami asks, her brow knitting, a hardened expression unlike herself coming over her. "How— what are you doing h…?" Her steps take her away from the door with even greater purpose than before, looking Yi-Min up and down like she expects her to be anything but the proprietor of this place. As soon as she nears, though, she comes to a counter-realization— that Yi-Min is exactly who she's supposed to be.

For a moment, Asami visibly struggles with herself. Apart from thinking apparently that Yi-Min should be someone both perfectly her and not, there's something else she can see in her. The look Asami wore that appeared to belong to someone else entirely fades to something more like the woman Yi-Min knows.

She looks over her shoulder and then back. One hand lifts in the premise of providing an explanation. "I need to talk to you. Do… Do you have a back room or something we could go to?"

"Well. I run the place," Yi-Min notes calmly with one eyebrow raised, even as Asami breaks off the sentence to instead look her up and down as though they weren't perfectly familiar with one another. Upon noticing this, the line of the florist's brow pokes up slightly higher yet, but she tips her head over in the direction of the suggested back room. "Yes, come this way."

The store wouldn't be too busy at this hour of the morning, and at any rate, Yi-Min is well-accustomed to catching the faint, telltale chimes of the opening door even from the back.

As Yi-Min delicately peels off one of her gardening gloves, absorbed in a thought, she bites back the urge to ask a question rising to the forefront of her mind. The truth was about to come out on its own, she was sure.

"Is everything alright?" is a query she does ask with genuine concern as she leads Asami into the little room beyond the register, closing the door behind them for privacy. Her lips are pursed as she turns back around to glance at the face of the other woman.

"No," Asami replies straightaway in a rush, an edge of anxiety to it. She takes in a breath to steady herself and it helps— being out of sight of others helps. With a languid blink she looks back to Yi-Min, her shoulders settling. Squaring.

"Yi-Min, I—" Momentarily overcome with not even knowing where at this to begin picking away, her brow begins to furrow. She unbuttons the coat she wears. "Something happened," Asami explains, her eyes distant as she rolls down a list of ways to demonstrate. A moment later, her hand lifts again, hand flexing and balling as though she's trying to grasp something out of the air. Perhaps a thought.

When her palm opens a second time, it's on fire, flames licking away from her skin. It starts in the valley between her thumb and palm as she tents her fingers up, the flames dancing their way up to three fingertips. She lets them stay aflame, light reflecting off of her dark eyes as she looks to Yi-Min. "People can do things like this," Asami explains with no small awe about it, even as a part of her rails against the concept of superpowers being abnormal. "The reason everything started falling apart was because… someone found out I could do this before I even knew."

Wrapping her fingers back to her palm, the flames extinguish. Asami's brow knits again before she looks back up. "It's not just me. There's others. These powers are there in them; negated, waiting to be reawakened. Waiting for what was broken to be fixed."

There's more she's not saying, too, but she bites her lower lip to avoid saying too much at once. This is… this is already a lot.

"Get out. This must be a joke. Some… magic trick. I did not know you were an expert at swords and parlor tricks. Are you even listening to yourself right now?"

Still, Yi-Min's expression does not quite match the heft of her words. There is no mistaking it. She looks troubled in the flickering profile cast by the flames, as though her doubts had settled themselves into a visible, dismal pall upon the empty rows of flowerpots that surround them. It is a look that does not vanish even after Asami terminates the display of power.

In the silence that follows, Yi-Min squints suspiciously. Without warning, she pokes Asami squarely in the shoulder with one pointer finger almost as though she is expecting it to pass right through.

But when Yi-Min then sways her head slightly from side to side, eyes still narrowed as though she expects to see some highly disappointing apparition standing there, the other woman does not waver or disappear.

Asami even takes a step back from the poke, a faint huff of a laugh escaping her. "You're so… different here," she observes, once again sounding distant. "Then again," she notes more quietly, "so am I."

Whatever reverie she's slipped into, she pulls herself from it. "I wish I were kidding. I wish… all this were just a joke. But it's not. This and so much more… isn't."

Reluctantly, she lifts her head again, meeting Yi-Min's eyes. "Have you had any strange visions the last few months? Things happen to you you couldn't explain?" The intensity of her look only increases, as though she were looking right through her to an answer she already knows.

The fact that Asami feels solid enough seems to dampen Yi-Min's pointed mood somewhat, but only for a moment. Her visions, after all, had evolved in persuasiveness and complexity over time.

Perhaps this is merely the final step in the chain.

"Gan1," the proprietor mutters beneath the curved crook of her fingertips, gazing not at Asami for those few seconds, but down at the immaculately swept floor. "This is it, then. I am finally hallucinating to myself an actual answer as to why I am hallucinating. I have reached the limit. I am completely, and utterly, insane."

There cannot possibly be more after this. Dear god, there couldn't possibly be any more. Letting her hand drop from her nose back down to her side, she fixes Asami with a level, gimlet stare. "Go on, then. Suppose I say to you: 'yes.' Everything you just said has, in fact, been happening to me. What explanation will you give me as to what is going on? Hm? What on earth is this here, there business?"

Asami smiles, but it's a grim thing. "You're one of the number— one of us who had our abilities taken from us. Each person has a different power. The here and there… someone had an ability which enhanced their memory. Gave them abilities of an entire other life; of an alternate world that must exist out there somewhere— and I absorbed that same understanding from her."

"That's what I do. I intuit how to fix others, and when I do it, I learn their power like it were my own…" Asami's eyes begin to fog over strangely, the look she gives Yi-Min deeper than before. Absently, her right hand begins to lift as if to touch the other woman's cheek. "I remember a different version of you now. A fearlessly brave woman who would have given her own life to take down a corrupt organization that abused others, destroying it from the inside out… a woman who could secrete toxins from her being as her superpower."

Faintly, Asami marvels to herself as she slides a half-step forward, "I wonder what ability you'll have here."

"Who? Took our… what? Asami. Please."

Even as Asami sidles towards her, Yi-Min takes a step directly back in reaction, her doubts re-encasing themselves in armor born of nervous tension. "You are aware of how you sound, no?" she repeats with greater insistence but also less hope, her gaze latching all the more tenaciously onto that of the other woman with even-keeled concern.

Again she shakes her head, recalcitrant. Her lower jaw is set as though it were made of steel. "Please. You are living in a dream. These are the kind of stupid science-fiction movies that Yi-Shan loves to watch. I would never have expected to hear these fantasies drop out of your mouth. You need help. At least… at least, tell me what happened to you."

Or more accurately, as far as Yi-Min's suspicions are concerned, what substances Asami had happened to get into just before coming.

Asami's disappointment mixes with Asi's confusion, both bringing her to outwardly frown as Yi-Min shies back.

"What happened to me, Yi-Min, is that I broke free of whatever was keeping me negated before." She seems to rise, now, posture righting. "What happened to me I woke up." Internally, she fights with herself— with the powerful piece of herself that doesn't want to talk anymore, the part that would prefer to just show Yi-Min how wrong she is.

With two sets of lived experiences fighting back against it, she has better luck than she otherwise would have. At least for a little longer.

And she also hovers higher off the ground, feet no longer touching the ground, hands touching nothing that would allow her to support herself. She's flying, for better or for worse. "Do you believe me now?" Asami asks with a knit of her brow. "I need you go let go of how insane this is and focus on the irrefutability of it. Your eyes aren't tricking you— your mind is, for telling you that these things should be impossible."

"They aren't. They're so very real, Yi-Min," she stresses with something like sadness.

The gleam that materializes in Yi-Min's eyes as she gazes upward at Asami, drinking in the absurd sight, is as dark as the length of the shadow now elongating over her.

There is no small amount of fear building up in that gradient. She has spent years around drug addicts, but even that experience isn't necessary for her to recognize the danger lurking in the rawness of Asami's convictions.

And that's without taking into account what is even happening here—

What is happening?

"Why did you come into my shop, Asami?" is the next question that Yi-Min chooses very carefully, from out of the nearly endless tide of questions opening up before her. It is spoken with a force of deadly calm, deployed with all the tranquility she can muster, but the fringes of her voice curdle with tension. "You are not a person for flowers, unless I am as wrong about this as I was everything else about you. You were running from something else."

Ah, she's got her there.

Asami's feet come to the ground again, her breath escaping her in a quiet sigh. There's no way around it, is there? No way around fear. No way around that other uncomfortable truth, either.

Her gaze drops, mouth drawing into a tight line. "Oh, Yi-Min," Asami murmurs with regret. Somewhere inside, she screams against the compulsion that begins to slip into the front seat. It responds by letting her say as much as, "I didn't want it to come to this."

"I just was looking for a place to hide. But then I saw you. And now…" The corner of her mouth twinges, lips parting to bare teeth in a humorless smile. The laugh she gives off, though, is filled with the knowledge of some kind of inside joke. Asami's eyes lift back up to the florist.

"I have to help you, Yi-Min."

"I do not want your help. In fact I think that, of the two of us, you are the one who needs help." Faced with the stirrings of a strange peril that Yi-Min can sense somehow rather than see, she compels herself to stay still. She does not back away again, though all her instincts— raking through her nerves like claws— are exhorting her to do so in a howl of warning.

The next expression of hers is one that Asi has seen numerous times before, but never Asami. There is a flash of implacability lining that look, as though for a moment a reflection of cool, shadowy stone, despite the accessory of the florist's fear.

"English is not my native tongue, but I know that to 'fix' something implies there is something wrong with it," Yi-Min continues on, though even she is unsure what she hopes to achieve by doing so. The sheer sound of her voice might be useless as a barrier between them, at least for much longer, but the words themselves feel necessary. "I am not broken, Asami. I am happy with my life precisely as it is, believe it or not. I can give you money, if this is what will get you to move on. I am willing to be generous for… the memory of a friend. But you stay away from me and mine."

If she were more acutely listening to herself and her instincts, Asami might notice how Yi-Min is wrapping her fear into resolve, and her resolve into a weapon. Everything Asi is being denied actively, and the rest of her has given in.

"That's not what I want," Asami says to any and all of it. Money, to stay away. Pick. "What I have for you is a gift, Yi-Min, even if you don't know it." The look in her eyes begins to change. "Even if you can't yet appreciate it."

Her eyes shift rapidly from chocolate to amber, then amber to molten gold.

Inside herself, Asi is screaming, kicking, clawing in her fight against this loss of control. But she doesn't win.

L̸̢̮̜̝̻̩̇e̸̮̿̇̈̑͠ț̸̨̝͇̊̾̉͂̍ ̶̳͍̬̅̒m̵̫͈̙͊̾̅͗ͅé̴͔͚̞̀ ̴̘̗̕f̴͇̫͆̒͒̓į̷̪̋̀̊͠x̶̨̔ ̸̛̲̭̘̞̇̑y̸̯̘̋̉̋ö̵̗͕̘́͋͜ȗ̶͙̠̤͇͇̓.̸̫̝̻̪̑̕

"You stay away from me," Yi-Min reiterates at the increasingly monstrous being before her, her voice shaking more violently by the moment— even she gropes with an open hand at the shelf just behind her to pick out the sharp-edged trowel from a row of gardening implements.

Even so, when Asami lunges at her with the speed and voracity of a wildcat, her reaction comes nearly too late. The florist's scream pierces the air as she thrusts the blade of her trowel blindly up before her, like a warding talisman—

—and from the sickening resistance met by her hand, knows she has carved through flesh.

Between Asami's lean in, and Yi-Min's self-preserving stab, the spade sinks into her gut. But also, those golden eyes peer deeply into Yi-Min's widened own, whose vision begins to cloud at the corners of her eyes. The numb onset of a migraine roars to flaming nerve pain as Asami lays a hand to Yi-Min's brow, the pain in her head incompatible with that frighteningly gentle touch.

And yet she knows the cause can be nothing but.

She fights against the discomfort and its source, letting go of the trowel and scrabbling to push Asami off of her. Fear mounts as the pain becomes excruciating in her head, and her eyes threaten to roll into her head. Yi-Min suddenly shoves with all her might against Asami's chest with the flat of her hand, resulting in a release of the building pressure with an effect like the clearing of sinuses…

and Asami goes flying back away from her across the backroom.

Her back hits the wall, and then her head, golden eyes snapping a mundane brown again as she's knocked senseless. She inexplicably remains there pinned to the wall, long enough it unnerves Yi-Min. As she lowers her hand, shock overridden by confusion, Asami is let fall, crumpling down to her hands and knees.

One of hers, shaking, comes up to remove the bloodied gardening tool from her gut and throw it across the ground in a clatter. Her head still hangs, dazed from being thrown back.

Now on the opposite side of the room from where Asami sprawls, surrounded by upended earthen pots, Yi-Min finds herself busy being overwhelmed by her own loss of control as adrenaline floods her thin frame— reinforcing the surging of nameless power doing the same.

"What have you done to me?" she howls through the agony in her skull, swiping her empty hand up again at nothing, this time with fingers curling wide in a claw-shape. It’s a gesture that flowers from out of a cloud of blindness, performed with minimal awareness and even less in the way of rationalized intent. She only knows that she is praying for all of this to s t o p.

But: here, then, is the hibernating demon that Asami had been so eager to rouse.


The bloody trowel has gone skittering under a nearby shelf and is lost to sight to them both, but now a long garden fork rises into the air from a separate direction as though all on its own. It rotates slowly about to point towards Asami, an accusation written in silent metal letters, its four steel-spiked tines hovering ominously mere inches from the fallen woman's eyes—

Then Yi-Min rents the room with another banshee-like scream, her gaze a glittering miasma of rage and despair. As her arm arcs back to her waist, the garden fork is sent slamming downwards, impaling Asami's hand to the floor like a series of nails through wood.

Behind Asami's eyes and ears, the only noise she hears is a flood of adrenaline of her own, the sights she sees an understanding of the new power that courses through her, too. It's with a smile she looks up to Yi-Min with an unfocused gaze. "I've helped you," she says with wonder and clarity. "Unlock your potent—"

There's that implement, though, that sign of Yi-Min's anger. It's unbreakable, and ends in that injury— the breaking of the bones in her hand, and it being pinned to the floor. Asami tries to pull her hand back to herself, resulting only in more pain.

Her other hand on the ground balls into a fist, flaring with a white flash of energy. No, no, no. Not that. Can't have that. Not here. Not ever.

Gritting her teeth through a struggled sound of pain, Asami picks through herself for a piece that— for all her intuition— she isn't sure what will do to her when she uses it. Still in that process of reaching, her impaled hand becomes an unsolid thing, being drawn back to her through the gardening fork. She looks up toward Yi-Min as it becomes whole again, bloody red holes beginning to close up before their eyes.

"You need to calm down," Asami says sternly, and with the press of those words, any new flying tools clatter dropped. She curls her hand to herself as it stops healing. The remnants of pressure needing released in Yi-Min's head is salved, feeling not at all unlike how she felt before she'd been grabbed by the face.

Including not being able to throw things with her mind.

"I stopped it," she explains haggardly, the pain in her hand— and abdomen— getting to her. "But I needed you to believe. I needed you to not doubt that you're somehow a part of this…" Asami breaks off to cough. "Whether you want to be or not."

Yi-Min Yeh would not consider herself a particularly religious soul, abhorring virtuous living in favor of something more closely resembling her very own cult of self. However, in the long tradition of so many people of Chinese and Taiwanese descent, she is superstitious.

And the impossible feats she continues to witness are not, in all likelihood, leading her toward any conclusion Asami would want her to come to.

The remorse-filled horror that had confounded Yi-Min when she had stopped to see what she had done— really stopped, and really seen— withers away on the vine as she watches the wounds she had just inflicted… fading from existence. She does certainly calm down in accordance with Asami's command, especially as the terrifying mental pressure loosens its claws from her head; her lips press closed from shriek back into a semblance of her primness. Yet for her, the newly settled mood is only a grimmer, transfigured form of horror.

At least it’s a horror that allows a curdling of contempt in her longstanding fear. Above everything, for a fraction of a moment, there is only ice in the boundless-seeming field of Yi-Min's gaze.

Only judgment.

Gingerly, Yi-Min crouches only long enough to pluck the garden fork from the ground (this time with her physical fingers), never taking her eyes from the woman recovering at her feet. Blood trails down the length of the wooden shaft as she rights it one-handed, her knuckles whitening around it. "When you entered through this doorway and showed me all these different things, 'Asami,' I did not know what you were. But now, I know. You should be ashamed, demon, yāomó,2, preying on those with so much less power to fight back. What you have created is only more doubts. What you have unlocked is a fucking mess."

Her index finger jerks, pointing the way over the bloodied, debris-littered floor. "Now, get out of my shop."

The pejorative in Yi-Min's gaze hurts when all Asami had wanted to do was have someone else she trusted, someone she could go to to talk about what's happened to her and others. The name she's bestowed is something worse still. Asami Tetsuzan doesn't know Mandarin, but Asi Tetsuyama does. That twin existence doesn't need to fight to have her wisdom heard now.

And Asami's stomach sinks further knowing that once again, no matter where she exists, someone will always find her existence to be demonic.

Eyes darkening of light, she only nods, head dropping down. Wounded in pride as well as body, she comes to her feet slowly. "When you're less angry…" she trails off with a huff, looking away. "Or maybe while you still have it in spades, you should seek out Isaac Faulkner. He knows better than anyone the way you feel."

"He hates me, too, for this," Asami is all too certain. She turns for the door, and doesn't even reach for the handle. The sensation Yi-Min felt before— the strange intuition of having a new limb— returns to her without the searing pain like a broken bone being set back into place. The pressure is light enough to be noticed, returning at the same time Asami walks through the door back to the front of the shop.

By the time Yi-Min pulls it open, there's no one in the shop at all. No sign of the former instructor who came and went, save for the blood on the ground in the back room…

And the vibrating gardening claw in her hand.

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