Paper Lanterns

Author: IceShadow/SadisticSaint/Shade (whatever you know me as)

Disclaimer: I don't own them...nope, definitely don't own them.

Summary: This is a historical fiction based on ancient brothels. They are taken completely out of their universe and are different ages. AU. So if you don't like that kind of thing, this isn't the fiction for you. The main focus will be on Yukimura, but I will be moving back and forth between pairings and giving each their deserved time. Also, this is very much Yaoi and will become more so as the chapters develop. This is a brothel people, of course they are going to have sex.

Pairings: SanaYuki, YanaKiri, KuwaKiri, InuKai, MomoKai, Oshitari/Gakuto, KamIbu, Tachibana/Kamio/Shinji, Tachibana/Kamio, Tachibana/Shinji, Niou/Yagyuu, TezuFuji, TakaFuji, AkutsuDan (Now these are either coming, implied or already in the fic. So give it some time and they will show. I'm a very busy woman.)

Have a good read.


The smell of incense was thick and heavy in the air. The scent was lavender tonight, rich and flowery, floating in wistful clouds along the candlelit hallway. Yukimura looked up from his journal, his calligraphy brush pausing as he glanced towards a shadow that was making it's way down the hallway. The rice paper that covered the walls let the residents of the rooms know who was coming, the lights from the hall leaving shadows play along the opaque off white paper. By the shape it was more than likely one of the attendants, hurrying about to get the courtesans ready for the night. It stopped in front of his door, kneeling and sliding it open.

"Here's some hot water and new kohl stick, desu," the small boy, dressed in a green headband and dark blue yukata, smiled amiably.

"Thank you, Dan," a gentle smile passed over Yukimura's lips as he set down the ink brush and stood. The heavy over-kimono fell in thick folds along the ground, dragging in a train behind the slight man. He knelt down with skilled grace and gathered the items from the young attendant who rushed off with arms full to the next doorway.

Not bothering to close his door, as most of them didn't when the brothel was operating, Yukimura glanced across the hall and into the equally open doorway. Muscled shoulders stood out in a perfect line as the occupant of the other room began to pull on the many layers of kimono that he dressed in every night. Kaoru dressed himself more than anyone else in the brothel, he also kept to himself, unlike most of them who enjoyed speaking with each other to forget the loneliness of this place. Yukimura took in the huge tattoo that sprawled across the other mans shoulders and back, slithering along his sinewy muscles and disappearing into hidden places. A huge snake representing the Shinto God Susa-no-wo (1) that Kaidoh Kaoru hid under the many layers of kimono and wraps that covered his arms.

The man remained an enigma, no one really knew the reasons he was there. What circumstances he was brought underneath the roof of the Pink Kappa (2) Brothel were hidden behind silk and sandalwood.

Yukimura sighed softly and cradled the bowl of water in his arms, walking carefully back to his stool to set the container down and kneel in front of it. He dipped a cotton cloth into the water and began washing his face with gentle movements, cleansing away the sleep of day. Night was beginning to fall, the fireflies danced along the dark streets and those who wished to be entertained were walking out into the night for their pleasures.

Night manager, Fuji Syusuke quietly ushered his consort Tezuka Kunimitsu to bed. Relieving the owner of his daytime duties to take over for the night shift, he kissed his 'husband' on the cheek gently before finishing his makeup and hurrying off to the front desk. The delicate, pretty and untouchable night manager began to place the wooden tags of the graveyard shift workers onto their pegs. Each carefully wood-burned tag would be removed from the peg when they were busy, hidden behind the counter until the customer was finished and then replaced when their caller left. The regular customers wouldn't begin to stream in until the night enveloped the sky like a blanket of black velvet and the sake had begun to pour like water at the teahouses that surrounded the water trade(3) buildings of the town.

Yukimura looked up as he heard someone walking past his door, setting down the cloth on the lip of the bowl. Kamio Akira, from the room next to his, went padding past in nothing but an under-kimono that was tied gracelessly around his waist. The pale boy skidded to a halt before passing Yukimura's door and turned, his shock of red hair hiding his missing eye, leaving the other displayed, seductively lined with kohl and heavy shadow. He wore a discreet eye patch over the other, covering the hole that was left after an accident in a gambling streak before he had come to the brothel.

"Do you have an extra comb, Seiichi?" Akira smiled, eye crinkling slightly. Yukimura couldn't help but smile back, the boy was an absolute angel most of the time, though he did have an explosive temper if someone was unjust to his roommate.

"Of course," Yukimura stood, pausing to cough quietly into his sleeve, before walking over to his small vanity. He pulled a drawer open and sifted through his hairpieces before finding a small ivory comb. "This should do."

Akira walked across the room, blatantly not caring if he looked graceless and masculine. He was never one to pretend too much, never falling too far that he viewed himself as more female then male. His unique red hair and pale skin drew people to him like moths to a flame and those who got to close were burned with his energy. Akira had a love for life and a sense of self even in a place that was meant to break spirits and condemn souls.

His roommate was another matter all together though.

"How is Shinji?" Yukimura closed the gap between himself and the other, handing him the comb.

"He's awake at least. I'm just getting him dressed now actually. I'll make sure to bring it back, we've seemed to have misplaced our combs today," Kamio kissed the taller on the cheek and strode from the room and back from whence he came.

Yukimura sighed, coughing again into his sleeve, he glanced back over at Kaoru's room and was about to call over a greeting when a crash from down the hall startled him. The shriek that followed could be no other then Kirihara Akaya.

"This is NOT the right kimono! You better find Yanagi-san's favorite one NOW or I swear I'll have your head!!!!"

With that, Dan went running down the hall in distress, probably to find Fuji-san to fix the little mishap. Yukimura was tempted to close his door but thought better of it and leaned his head out instead, fixing his hair. Fingers deftly coiled the shoulder length silvery blue strands into a bun and secured them with a pin, all the while he watched the hallway.

Kirihara, the holy terror, walked out of his room, transparent under kimono barely held closed in the front. He could easily be mistaken for the demons he feared, wild black curls fell around his head like a halo; his wide green eyes were razor sharp and absinthe bright. The candlelight played along the skin of his arm when the silk slipped away as he brushed his hair from his face. The ever-changing light reflected off lines of raised white flesh that criss-crossed like a deranged snowflake along his arms, concentrating on his wrists. Some of the scars were fairly new, raw and pink in color.

They all had their demons, but Akaya's were least in his mind. They manifested themselves in the night and haunted him during the day. Sent away from his home because of his delusions; his parents left him in the street and he ended up here.

Those sharp green eyes met Yukimura's dark ones and Kirihara scowled, turning to go back into his room. There was more banging around but he was sure that most of it would be contained in the room...unless of course Gakuto decided to get involved and then it would become a small living nightmare.

Speaking of the little porcelain devil, Muhaki Gakuto's petite hand pushed his door open. No one looked more like a living doll then Gakuto, his skin was sickly pale and hair a deep maroon that was cut to frame his face, bleeding away any color he had. His lips were painted in classic courtesan style and he just recently stopped blackening his teeth because the trend was growing old. Such classic beauty, such overdressed elegance. Gakuto had gotten his hands on one of the richest caller's that came to the Pink Kappa. Painted nails had dug into the skin and kept him far away from anyone else's favor.

Not that Yukimura minded, he had his own favorite caller and was perfectly happy with him.

Sighing, he frowned and turned to go back into his room. He was getting far too distracted this morning and he hadn't even finished his makeup. Clearing his throat quietly he went to kneel back down in front of his vanity, setting out his meager makeup. His caller didn't like him to wear very much, said that it distracted from his natural beauty. Yukimura far from agreed with the sentiment but it was not his place to tell the customer he was wrong.

"Seiichi-chan?" a soft voice drifted in from the hallway.

Yukimura turned his head, recognizing the voice immediately as Fuji-sans. "Yes?"

"If you could help Akaya for me I would greatly appreciate it. He doesn't seem to want Dan anywhere near him and you know how he gets," Fuji's pleasant smile and gentle demeanor was part of the reason this place was so comfortable. Yukimura was thankful he had ended up in the Pink Kappa and nowhere else, misery was something he didn't need compounded onto his already difficult life.

"Of course," Yukimura nodded and finished the light dusting of powder over his skin and added some rouge to turn the pallor into life. He stood and moved out of the room, the heavy silks dragging behind him, grating softly along the tatami mats. He moved down the hallway and past open doors, all the rooms decorated in the taste of the one who lived within it.

"Yuki! You are looking good today."

Yukimura turned to look into the littered room of Niou. There were papers, clothing, Noh theatre masks and makeup containers scatter all over the place. The pale haired boy stood, legs impossibly long in his barely there outfit. He wore a modified yukata rather then kimono, it was painfully short and sometimes left nothing to the imagination if you happened to be standing at a particular angle. Lengths of expensive silk wrapped around his tiny waist and hung off his arms. Always a trendsetter but never a trend, Niou was all about shocking dress and even more shocking conversation. He could make even the most seasoned brothel goer blush from his words. Which is probably why he attracted the attention of a famous Kabuki actor from Edo.

He walked over on towering clogs, usually only used by Geisha, that he had received as a gift from his main caller. Dragonflies carved along the side and inlaid with precious stones and lacquered for a gorgeous shine that made them seem gilded with gold. He leaned down to offer a kiss to Yukimura's cheek, eyes sparkling with mischief as they always did.

"So, is the great samurai coming tonight?" Niou stood back up, already tall, the shoes made him almost ridiculously so. All limbs, the pale haired whore was intimidating but once you got past looks and first impressions Niou could be somewhat sweet if not a bit too nosy.

"You know I am never sure, Masaharu. He comes when he wishes," Yukimura smiled, nodding his head and continued down the hallway, leaving Niou with no more questions to ask.

The paper lanterns in the hall had all been lit, the lanterns were painted with the characters for their names in black so that it was easy to recognize which door you were to go in. Though most of the men who entered these halls knew them by heart. Pausing to cough into his sleeve, clearing his throat as discreetly as possible, he looked up at the lantern in front of Akaya's door. This one was the only red lantern in the hallway, an auspicious color with a charm to ward away demons dangling from it.

Yukimura slipped into Kirihara's room, shutting the door quickly before Gakuto had a chance to start sniping biting remarks at the other. The wild haired man turned sharply, the kohl stick in his hand snapping, eyes blazing as he opened his mouth the shout at the intruder. It closed with a click of sharp teeth as he noticed it was Yukimura and not Dan, eyes opening from their angry slits.

"What are you doing here...?" his voice turned timid, eyes darkening slightly.

"Just going to help you get dressed for Yanagi-sensei," Yukimura smiled gently and moved over to run soothing hands down the tensed shoulders. They trembled slightly underneath those gentle hands, so tight the muscles quivered.

"Let me help you with your makeup, Akaya...." He removed the shattered kohl stick from the other man's hand, the black marking the pale, scarred skin with smudges. The scars disfigured the once perfect white skin, raked along thin arms and shoulders. The almost transparent under-kimono did little to hide his thin body. The only other thing he wore was a number of Buddhist mala around his neck and demon warding charms around his ankles that clicked together musically when he walked.

Yukimura could see that Kirihara was more stressed then usual tonight, his hands were shaking and there were crescent marks in his flesh where his fingernails had dug into his own skin. He coaxed the other man to kneel and started fixing the too dark lines that Akaya had started along his eyes. He smudged and toned them with delicate, practiced fingers, making that gorgeous, unique green stand out.

Dan poked in to deposit the correct kimono and then disappeared without another word. Yukimura rose and gathered the gold and brown folds in his arms before returning to the still shaking black haired man. He manipulated the other's arms, sliding the dark gold under kimono on and then the expresso brown, heavy over-kimono over that one. The maple leaf pattern of yellows, oranges and reds, floated down the front and gathered in a small pile at the bottom, intricate autumn colors that glittered in the candlelight. The obi was simple gold with no design and was secured in the front for easier removal, the material draping in an oversized bow at the belly.

Yukimura adjusted a few strands of the other mans hair before stepping back. "You look lovely, Akaya.."

Just as he was finishing cleaning the broken pieces of kohl from the ground there was a tap on the wooden frame of the door. He looked up, hands cradling the delicate black stick and immediately bowed.

"Good evening, Yanagi-sensei..." his hair brushed his face as he bent at the waist, honoring the guest. He had not realized how late it had gotten; the customers were beginning to arrive.

Gentle fingers brushed through his bangs, that were left unpinned by the hair sticks and then moved to his chin, coaxing him to look up.

"Good evening to you as well, Yuki," Yanagi Renji smiled genuinely, eyes half closed as always. His hand was warm and kind on Yukimura's cheek, tracing an invisible pattern before letting it drop to his side.

Kirihara stood, like a rabbit waiting for the arrow to pierce it's heart. The tenseness crept back into his tiny form, his fingers gripping his palms until blood began to flow. He bowed quickly, curling his arms around himself and leaving his head facing down, staring into the tatami on the floor.

Renji walked over, his simple full-length cotton yukata was dark brown with gold embroidery, a subdued match to Akaya's. Those gentle, masculine hands slipped around the courtesan's waist and pulled him against him, holding the shaking form in his arms. Akaya's arms reached up to grip the other man's neck, holding on with bloody palms. Yukimura stepped out into the hallway and closed the door, quietly leaving Yanagi to calm the other.


Historical notes:

(1) The serpent God Susa-no-Wo is a very important deity because he is the one who insulted Amaterasu (most important Japanese goddess of the sun, who is worshipped at the famous Ise Shrine) and made her hide away. It is the most significant tale in Japanese Shinto Religion. After she reemerged after coaxing, Susa-no-wo was banished to the outer islands and became non-persona. This tattoo is representation of Kaidoh's banishing to the brothel.

(2)Pink Kappa: Pink, in Japanese society, is an acronym for female genitals but it also can stand for just about anything overtly sexual. Kappa is a water demon who likes to eat cucumbers and we can all guess what cucumber can be viewed as. It seemed an appropriate title for a brothel to me. Good enough.

(3)The water trade is basically a fancy name for prostitution or other sexual businesses.

If you have any questions about something that is in the fic just leave a note in your review and I will clarify in the section starting the new chapter.

heart To all the Reviewers!