Title: Crystal Ring
Author: Sybil Rowan
Summary: Yukito sees a murdered ghost and gets implicated in setting up a popular Kingdom Clow war hero. Touya does his best to defend and protect his best friend in spite of the popular outrage, and King Clow's insistence the prince stay neutral.
Warnings: yaoi, drama, this work may get more violent and I may have to increase the rating.
Author's Notes: This takes place when Touya is a prince and Yukito is still a journeyman priest (mid-teens) I put Yue in the role of the high priest. It helps to be familiar with the story in xxxHolic about the girl that develops wings only Watanuki can see and gets her soul stolen by Fei Wang Reed. Named after a Nosferatu song. And here I am again torturing poor Yuki-Usagi :)
Disclaimer: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles and xxxHolic belongs to CLAMP.
Beta Reader: WingedPanther73
Date: October 18, 2013, 6:00 pm
Word Count: on going
Yukito watched Touya lower his sword. The prince looked hot and sweaty from practice, in spite of it being a cool morning. Yukito drew closer to the shadows of the date trees so he could admire Touya but still keep his distance. He was shirtless so the morning sun revealed a few scars visible over taut muscles. Yukito always worried over each injury Touya got and wondered if Touya trained too hard.
Touya's trainer, Captain Goro, looked over the prince's shoulder and nodded towards Yukito. The priest felt his face grow blazing hot at being caught staring at Touya. The seasoned solider was now smiling at the priest. "Looks like you have an admirer, Prince Touya."
Touya looked over to see Yukito hanging back in the shadows. The prince sheathed his sword and headed towards a water basin at the edge of the practice circle. Yukito didn't miss the hint of a smirk playing at Touya's lips as he cleaned up at the basin and put a shirt back on. Touya asked, "It's pretty early for you to be outside of the chapter house. Morning prayers are still going on, so what brings you here?"
"I was on my way to town in my official capacity, Highness. I was asking your father for some advice about wards."
"Really? So you're going to go exorcise a ghost?" Touya asked, pointing at the ornate ceremonial staff in Yukito's hand.
Yukito forced a smile on his face, not wishing to discuss the details in front of Captain Goro. This task wouldn't make him popular among King Clow's soldiers. There was more to his visit with King Clow than asking advice on casting wards.
He had reported his upcoming task to the king. High Priest Yue approved of it and asked Yukito to go. King Clow wasn't happy to hear the news from the chapter house, but he gave the young priest his consent to carry out the exorcism, since there were children at risk.
"I'm checking on a parishioner, but I wanted to go prepared in case what she reported to the High Priest is true."
"Captain, am I through training today? I want to escort the priest on his trip to town."
"Sure. You've been practicing well above the requirements. Tomorrow morning, meet me here before breakfast," Captain Goro said. Touya nodded before following Yukito out of the courtyard. They walked in silence until they had left the palace grounds. "Why the frown, Yuki? That look on your face doesn't doesn't suit you in the least. I don't like seeing it."
"Hun? Frown?" Yukito asked. He now was unable to repress the smile that came to his face at hearing Sakura's pet nickname for him. She was really fond of bestowing them. He admitted to himself he was extremely fond of hearing it on Touya's lips. Yukito now wished he would have declined Touya's company. "You know, casting wards is a pretty boring task. It's not like watching a duel."
"Yeah, but I'm curious about it. Besides, we haven't had a chance to spend time together since my birthday. My father has been keeping me busy, but I want to make time for your birthday next week. I know Sakura wants to personally make you a cake and some decorations." Touya scowled. "She's been teasing me for the last few day how you're older. It's only by a few month, for goodness sake. But she's acting like it's years."
Yukito chuckled while he remembered the elaborate celebration held for Touya's last birthday a while ago. It was the time King Clow declared Touya to be his official successor, and High Priest Yue blessed the decision.
It was the point in Touya's life when more responsibilities were being put on him. Yukito admitted Yue kept him very busy lately, too. Yue had cast lots, and it felt to Yukito that he was destined to be the next high priest. His schedule was extremely busy with his own training on running the chapter house in the future.
Right now, walking with Touya down the path to town, made him realize what kept him up at nights sometimes. He was worrying so much over Touya.
Touya's success at ruling was going to be critical for so many people in Clow Country. And yes, on a personal level, he missed the free time they used to have. He felt a little selfish wanting to take up any of Touya's time. Touya's time was no longer Yukito's to have. He now had to share Touya with the citizens of Clow Country.
It wouldn't be right to absorb all of Touya's time with so much need in their county. Therefore, Yukito had now drifted into a more formal relationship with the prince, in spite of Touya's annoyance over that. It was better for Touya, so he could concentrate on his duties. But Touya, in spite of his limited time, kept seeking out Yukito when he could. And Touya's attention made Yukito warm inside.
In spite of craving more time with Touya, he was still reluctant to have the prince come along on this unpleasant task. "Highness, there is something I should tell you about where we're going."
"Call me Touya until we get to town. So what is it about this task that's given you such a glum expression?"
"You know General Loa?"
"Of course. He's a hero of epic proportions," Touya said.
"Well, you know how his wife committed suicide several months ago?"
"Yes. It was horrible. She had three young children. I guess her ghost isn't at rest?"
"It would seem. The children's nanny talked to High Priest Yue. The nanny says that the children are seeing their mother's ghost. She begged us not to tell General Loa. She says that the general has had extreme outbursts of violent anger since then.
"If I can exorcise her ghost, it may alleviate his discomfort. Still... I'm not exactly comfortable to be entering his home without permission. The only reason Yue agreed with this is that there are children involved. I told your father; he was agreeable for that reason."
"General Loa has a stellar reputation and is very popular among the soldiers. They're fiercely loyal to him. They'd want to know if something tragic is happening to his family."
"I know," Yukito said numbly. "That's why I'm hoping to help quickly and discreetly." Yukito then steered the topic off this task and on to Sakura and Syaoran. They had the same back and forth about Syaoran's merits and faults; it did provide a nice distraction.
Yukito had had a vision about Syaoran and Sakura; Touya so desperately wanted to change it. However, Yukito's visions were always very accurate.
Finally, they arrived at the back of General Loa's town home. Yukito looked up at the three story, stucco house. There did seem to be a grim atmosphere covering the building. He studied it intently. He was told the woman had thrown herself from the top of the roof and landed in the courtyard by the fountain they stood next to.
He flinched when Touya laid a hand on his shoulder and gave it a firm squeeze. "Yuki? Are you okay? You seemed to go into one of your trances."
"I'm fine. It's just... there is something really terrible about this place. I sense something more happened than a suicide. But what could be worse? Something doesn't make sense to my eyes."
A young woman opened the door and she beckoned them in, glancing around in fear. Yukito lead Touya towards the door and they entered the home.
"Your Highness, I wasn't expecting you," the woman said with a bowed head towards Touya.
"Just treat me as a regular solider right now. Your business is with Priest Yukito," Touya said, nodding his head slightly towards his friend.
"You must be from the chapter house?" she asked, her grim expression still turned to the floor.
"Yes. I'm the priest sent to cast wards on the house and exorcise the ghost, if need be. However, this really has a strange feel. I assume you're the nanny?"
"Yes, I sent the children to their grandmother's house. General Loa said he won't be home until the evening."
"You haven't seen the ghost? Just the children have seen her?" Yukito asked.
"The children have certainly seen her, but I haven't, of course. I don't see spirits," the nanny said.
"Children are much more likely to see ghosts than adults, especially if it was a loved one that died under tragic circumstances." Yukito explained. "Where did they mainly see her?"
"On the third floor in their nursery and down in the courtyard," she said.
Yukito nodded and walked upstairs, carefully exploring each room. Touya closely followed, making Yukito a little more at ease. Ghosts from suicide victims tended towards the vengeful and had horribly mangled features. That's what he was prepared for.
When he got to the third floor he felt the familiar tingle of a ghost's presence in his stomach. He glanced at Touya, who gave him a nod of encouragement. He shut his eyes and could tell the ghost was in the third room on the right. He then walked towards the room and pushed opened the door.
Instead of seeing a mangled, suicide ghost, it was a lovely, sobbing lady. The translucent ghost lady was kneeling on the ground while her phantom tears flowed. "Lady Loa? My name is Yukito. I've come here to help you."
She looked up, a haggard expression on her face. "No one can help me now... but my children! You must rescue my children!"
"Your children are with their grandmother right now. They're fine. You, My Lady, no longer belong here. You harmed yourself." Yukito suddenly had a horrible feeling. Why would she be so utterly concerned for her children if she were at the point of committing suicide? That wasn't typical ghost behavior.
There was a loud crashing noise downstairs. The lady's ghost bolted to her feet, now looking fearful. There were the angry voices of the nanny and a man. The nanny was sounding more afraid, while the man sounded more angry. The sound of someone getting struck startled Yukito.
Yukito gave Touya a worried glance, but his friend shook his head and said, "You talk to her, and I'll go downstairs and handle whatever it is."
Touya couldn't see what he was seeing, but the prince always had faith in his visions. It always bolstered Yukito, because there were times when he was an orphan at the chapter house that the other children had mocked him for his visions. Touya was the first one that had had faith in him and hadn't teased him.
Yukito turned back to the ghost. "Lady Loa. You didn't harm yourself, did you?"
"No! I swear. It was my husband. He threw me off the roof because I wouldn't let him strike my son unjustly. He was in a rage when I insisted the nanny remove the children from the house. Please believe me, I would never leave my children. That's why I'm still here. That nanny suspects the truth but does nothing to protect my children. I beg your help!"
Yukito nodded and went back downstairs where Touya was standing protectively in front of the cowering nanny on the floor. The famous General Loa faced Touya with a confused look on his face. "I still don't understand what you're doing here, Highness."
Yukito was confused by something he saw. The back of General Loa's uniform looked as if it had a set of white wings embroidered on the back. There was something about them that made Yukito shiver. He wondered if he had just seen them move.
"Prince Touya," Yukito said, stiffly, getting uneasy by this man's aura. "I talked with Lady Loa's ghost. She was actually pushed off the roof by the general. It wasn't suicide."
"What? Who are you to accuse me? Some priest? Who put you up to this, child? Yue? Figures," Loa snarled. "This is a setup to get rid of me!"
"No, it's the truth," Yukito insisted.
"You little bastard," the man snarled and launched himself at Yukito. The man punched Yukito's cheek. He fell backwards onto the staircase, dizzy and in pain. The man's large, calloused hands wrapped tightly around Yukito's tender throat. Yukito couldn't draw breath. He pushed franticly, but the man was so much larger than him. His vision started blacking out as he gasped and panicked.
"Stop! You're under arrest by the authority of King Clow!" Touya shouted, drawing his sword. The man stopped his assault, but hadn't moved off of Yukito's body. Yukito shuddered, watching Touya's face grow dark as he pointed the sword at Loa. "Get off him now or else!"
"Fine... Highness. I'll let this little lap dog of Yue's go." Loa's voice was mocking. He gave Yukito a light, threatening slap on the cheek. The man's breath was pungent with alcohol and his eyes were burning with animosity, but he got off of Yukito.
Yukito was shocked the man harshly dug his knee in to his abdomen on his way up. It was just enough where the man couldn't be called on anything, but made his contempt known.
"Go get some city guards," Touya ordered the nanny. She ran from the house and returned a few minutes latter. "Arrest this man and take him to King Clow on suspicion of murder." Two guards eyed Touya as if were talking crazy. "Do it!"
They complied, reluctantly, and took the general into custody. When they and the nanny left, Touya rushed to Yukito's side. Yukito let Touya help him sit up. He held still as Touya gently took Yukito's chin and examined his face.
"I'm so sorry. I should have waited and told High Priest Yue or your father so you wouldn't be put this position. I wasn't thinking."
"I should apologize to you. I should have never let that man lay a finger on you, and I swear I'll never let that happen to you again. Let me get you to the palace, so I can fix you up. I'm sure my father will have some questions."
"I'll come back and exorcise her later," Yukito agree, letting Touya help him to his feet after he fixed his glasses.
Sure enough, one of his father's pages was looking for them the minute he and Yukito stepped into the palace. He went directly to the throne room, wishing he had time to take care of Yukito's face. His father wasn't the type to pace or be fidgety, but he noticed the king's fingers were drumming gently against a window sill.
"It seems you two had an eventful morning. Care to explain what happened, Yukito?"
"Yes, Majesty. It was all related to what we discussed this morning. I was able to find the ghost of Lady Loa, but she told me she hadn't committed suicide, but had been murdered. She told me General Loa had pushed her off the rooftop. It was true because her ghost showed no signs of a person that had killed herself."
"This is troubling along with Touya acting too hasty," Clow said, frowning.
"Please don't hold your son accountable for any of this trouble. It was my fault that I wasn't more circumspect. Please lay all blame on me."
"I will hold Touya accountable for his part."
"But, Father, the man is a murderer. He needs to be brought to justice," Touya protested.
"Of course, and he will be brought to a trial. But as far as your actions, I'm not pleased. Give me your sword." Touya felt uneasy, but he handed it over to his father. Clow took a red cord from a table beside his throne. He had a feeling his father had already planned this punishment out.
He took the red cord and tied the sword firmly in its sheath. He knew the cord would be enchanted so that only his father could untie it. "You'll carry it like this for the next month. I won't have you drawing your weapon on any citizen of our kingdom in a fit of passion."
He was humiliated by the symbolism until he looked over to the hurt in Yukito's eyes. He couldn't let Yukito know how embarrassing this was to him, because he didn't want his friend to feel more guilty. He had no choice but to own up to it.
He squared his shoulders, took the tied sword, and fastened it at his waist again. "I accept that, Father, but please understand. I believe in Yukito without question."
"I know, but you can't afford that luxury anymore now that you're my successor. When there are disputes among our citizens, it's of the utmost importance you remain neutral." Clow then walked over and put his hands on Yukito's shoulders. He gave Yukito a compassionate smile. "Even if one party is your closest friend. Though, I will hold General Loa responsible for the assault he committed."
"Majesty, Captain Goro is here to speak on behalf of General Loa," a page said, coming in and giving Clow a stiff bow.
"Bring him in," Clow said. The page left and Clow turned his attention back to Yukito. "Say nothing. Don't let the man goad you into saying anything, no matter how nasty he gets."
"Yes, Majesty," Yukito said as Clow let go of his shoulders. Captain Goro marched in, casting a hateful glare towards Yukito. Touya noticed his friend blushed and looked at the floor. Captain Goro bowed low to the king.
"Captain, please tell me what's on your mind," Clow bid.
"Your Majesty! I'm sure you're aware of the situation with General Loa."
"Yes. I am. I understand your concerns."
"So you're supporting the accusation of that priest... that child? You know as well as I that High Priest Yue has held a grudge against Loa for years. Now he sends this child in after a deep, personal tragedy to spout lies. Yue should be ashamed of himself for this blatant power grab."
The man's strident tone was galling to Touya. How quick the man's attitude had changed towards Yukito from earlier in the morning.
"You're casting some serious aspersions towards my high priest and his chosen successor," Clow said calmly.
"I don't blame the child. He's obviously soft headed and easily manipulated. It's Yue I don't trust."
"I'm aware, but I can't let the accusation go. Yukito is an extremely talented medium. If he heard the ghost of Lady Loa say something, I cannot ignore it."
"He was put up to lying by Yue! If that child persists in this lie, I want him jailed for slander." Touya didn't miss his father's eyes narrow. Clow obviously didn't appreciate this man's blatant attempt at threatening Yukito into recanting right under his nose.
"He takes his vows very seriously, part of which is an adherence to absolute truth. I will make sure General Loa gets a fair trial as soon as possible. Once that trial is done, if Loa is acquitted, then you may bring charges against Yukito. That's the correct order."
"Captain, I promise you Yukito isn't lying," Touya said. The man looked over at Touya with a sneer.
Touya was shocked the man didn't repress the nasty retort on his tongue. "You'd do well to spend tomorrow morning setting your addle-brained, lying friend straight, Prince Touya, because it looks as if you're not permitted to use that sword."
The man gave a brief nod toward King Clow and stormed off. Touya glanced over to see Yukito trembling, his eyes were fastened to the marble floor. "Touya, escort Yukito to the chapter house and tell High Priest Yue I want him to meet with me over dinner." Touya laid a hand on Yukito's shoulder and was about to guide his friend out. "Also, Son, don't leave his side until he's safely in the chapter house. And, Yukito, remember to look towards the future. Have faith."
"Yes, Majesty," Yukito murmured.
As they walked towards the chapter house, they didn't trade many words. Though it was Yukito that said, "I'm so sorry about your sword, Highness."
"Call me Touya, if anything. I hope you didn't let that guy intimidate you."
"No, I just know my testimony at a trial won't hold much weight. It would need to be verified by Lady Loa's children or another medium. I just want to be believed so that the woman can get justice."
"I know. Don't worry, Father will find a way to bring that man to justice."
Yukito smiled at Touya and nodded. "I trust King Clow. Oh..." Yukito reached up and rubbed his cheek with a frown. "I'm not used to the rough and tumble like you, Touya. I think I'll leave it up to you."
"Again, I'm so sorry I wasn't quicker. I hate that it happened to you." Yukito was startled at the dark, thick tone the prince took. He was more startled at the intense gaze he was getting from Touya. They paused outside of the chapter house. The prince grabbed his upper arm and firmly drew him closer. "I never want to see anyone hurt you like that again. You're too..."
Touya's attention was suddenly over Yukito's shoulder. He looked behind him to see two city guards at a distance, both glowering at Yukito. Word always traveled so fast in the Kingdom of Clow. No doubt Yukito was the talk of the town. At that moment, he'd never been more grateful to have Touya right beside him. No one would harass him while he was with the prince.
"Come on," Touya said, gently tugging Yukito along to the interior of chapter house.
To be continued.