This story is a Naoe-centered vignette that takes place during the first
episode/book of Mirage of Blaze (Honoo no Mirage) after Naoe had seen
Takaya and Yuzuru for the first time, but before he has given the bracelet
to him. For the sake of clarity, I am assuming a day has passed between
these events.Tachibana Yoshiaki, if you haven't seen far enough in the
anime, is the name of Naoe's current incarnation, though he rarely uses the
Um, it's mostly based on the anime, but might make a few vague references
to info from the books, not that much though because I'm still inching my
way through the first one myself (with the help of my meager Japanese and
two kanji dictionaries :-P). This is my first actual fanfic however, so
any comments/criticism would be most appreciated.
Disclaimer: Mirage of Blaze (Honoo no Mirage) is the property of Kuwabara
Mizuna, published in Cobalt Books by Shuseisha. I'm just borrowing the
characters/plot for my own amusement.
The young man leaned against the elegant green sedan, taking a deep drag
from the cigarette loosely held between his fingers, watching as the orange
glow slowly consumed the paper and leaves from within. As thick tendrils
of smoke wafted up from his cigarette, he very deliberately cleared his
mind of all thoughts. Nothing mattered at this moment, nothing but the
heat of the cigarette against his fingers, the chill of the car metal
against his legs, palpable even through his expensive suit, the sharp taste
of the nicotine as it burned his throat. Only these sensations registered-
certainly not the memory of dark, furious eyes-Stop that.
For this moment he didn't have to be Naoe Nobutsuna, relic, warrior,
revenant; he did not even have to be Tachibana Yoshiaki, respectful and
responsible temple priest. Right now he was just a man enjoying a
cigarette in the night air.
A breeze brushed past his face, gently mussing sandy-hair and creating
lovely abstract images in the rising smoke. Sensibility would demand he
retire for the night, it was getting late and he would need all of his
strength for the upcoming battle. Takeda Shingen was a formidable enemy
even with the Yashashu at full strength, and he was alone. Still, Naoe
remained where he was, sleep would not come tonight, he knew. Not after
the desecration of the Takeda tombstone, not after seeing him.
It had been sheer luck that he had been close enough to feel the flare of
that unfortunate young woman's power, the same power that had destroyed the
seal and freed his enemy, as it raged out of control. The scene played
itself out in his mind once more, the staring crowd, the woman screaming,
enveloped in blue-violet flame, the fair-haired young man watching with
horror. It was that one who had caught his attention first, the aura of
the Takeda flaring out from behind those cherubic features. It was a new
possession, weak for all of the ghost's power, it would be some time before
Takeda would exert full control. The other young man, taller, thinner,
darker than the first, had barely registered on his consciousness.
It shocked him now that he could have overlooked that presence, as powerful
as Takeda's if much more deeply submerged, and one that Naoe knew as well
as well, or better, than his own. Perhaps it was that familiarity that had
deceived him, he theorized, tapping his finger against the cigarette
causing ash to fall free. That all encompassing presence slipping through
barriers as though they had never existed, barriers that of course had
never been meant to keep him out, filling the void that had been empty for
all of Yoshiaki's lifetime. It settled in as though it had never been gone
and even now Naoe could still feel the heat of it down in the marrow of his
bones, but at the time, he had not even noticed it. He might have
overlooked it entirely if the boy had not shouted to his friend,
distracting him from his scrutiny.
An odd picture had met his eyes, the dark-haired boy frantically trying to
smother the blue-violet flames with his coat of all things. Naoe had been
mildly impressed, most would not be able to see the manifestation at all,
but faced with the impossible, the boy had not frozen in place as Takeda's
host had done but rather leapt into action, as futile as it was. That
thought had cut short however, when the boy's furious glare pierced the
gaping crowd and locked on to his own, and behind his sunglasses, Naoe felt
the jolt down to his soul.
There was no recognition in that deceptively delicate visage but it had not
mattered. This was Kagetora, and the draught of his presence was stronger
and headier than any cigarette and it burned. He had feared, truly feared,
that he would never feel such again. The tragedy thirty years before and
the recollection of his own role in it had left Naoe floundering, drowning
in guilt and despair. Then all these years had passed, without even a
trace! He had at least felt the others, though he had only bothered
contacting Haruie, but of their leader, there had been no sign. Uesugi
Kagetora, leader of the Uesugi Yashashu might as well have never existed.
The despair had drove Naoe once to attempt suicide, and it was only the
monastery and a shred, a mere shred, of hope that kept him tethered to this
mortal life. Now his hopes were realized, and he felt almost lightheaded
with that realization.
Kagetora was alive and apparently whole, though it seemed that the memory
of the Yashashu leader had been lost. A Kagetora in full possession of his
facilities would have certainly reacted differently to the woman than
trying to smother the flames with his coat, and the reaction would have
been undoubtedly more effective, and more destructive. Memories were a
small sacrifice to pay for the chance to see that spirit in the boy's
fierce gaze, stripped down to the basic underlying, undeniable essence. In
a strange way, Naoe mused, this boy was so much more of Uesugi Kagetora
than any of his past incarnations, freed from the burdens carried through
multiple lifetimes, purified as though cast into ritual flame. He was a
phoenix rising from the ashes to soar into the sky.
Takeda ceased to matter in the face of this discovery, though he would need
to be dealt with soon it was not important. What was important was that
here was a Kagetora with whom he could start fresh, doing everything right
this time. Here was a Kagetora that was unburdened by the past, giving
Naoe the opportunity to atone.
This was a Kagetora who would be his equal. Naoe took a deep breath, smoke
filling his lungs, even as the full realization of it filled his mind.
This boy was everything Kagetora was, beautiful, powerful, fierce, but he
was also young, lacking experience, innocent. He could teach the boy,
guide him, he was not foolish enough to think he could ever be Kagetora's
superior, but this time, for the first time ever, they would be on equal
footing. Kagetora's raw power matched by Naoe's experience, brash action
countered by calm contemplation, fire and ice. They would be well-matched,
and this time, when Kagetora came into his own, regained what was lost-Naoe
had no doubt that he would, Naoe would be not only lieutenant and servant,
but teacher and partner. For the first time, Kagetora would need Naoe as
much as Naoe needed him. The thought hit like a jolt of pure nicotine
through his blood. Kagetora would need him.
Naoe pushed himself off of the car, glancing down at the burned remnant of
his cigarette, glowing faintly with a last defiant spark. With a casual
motion he discarded it, grounding it out with his shoe. Sleep was a good
idea, he mused, climbing into his car. Tomorrow he would pay a visit to
Narita Yuzuru, a bit of research had unearthed name,
residence.acquaintances of Takeda's host. Takeda's hold on the boy was
still weak enough to be blocked, and Ougi Takaya was Narita's best friend.
After that, one would have to see.
As the car drove away, leaving a small cigarette stump forgotten in its
wake. Faint wisps of smoke rose into the night air and were gone.
Um, explanation, right. Well, I find the relationship between Naoe and
Takaya/Kagetora particularly fascinating with a complexity rarely seen in
canon couples (though occasionally explored in fanfiction), and I wanted to
try to revisit the very beginning from Naoe's perspective. I hope I
managed to convey at least a part of the love/hate obsession that defines
the character. Thanks!