A/N: First time writing for Samurai Deeper Kyo so please bear with me and my potential character OOC-ness. (sweatdrop)
Disclaimer: SDK (c) Akimine Kamijyo. (or is it Kamijyo Akimine...?)
"Look at that store over there! And over there!"
"Uwaah… fresh meat buns and just fried yakisoba! Ne, do we have any more money for an early dinner?"
"You think of nothing but food, don't you?"
"At least I have a personality, Numb Brain!"
"Names like that make you unworthy of your title, Red Tiger!"
"Hah! You're just saying that because you can't come up with a good insult!"
"Why you dishonourable little-"
"Kyo, Kyo, do you think I look pretty with this shade of powder?"
"Kyaaa, Kyo said I'm pretty!"
"That's not the POINT, Hotaru! I could see it his EYES!"
"I don't see how you could considering how he's got them closed."
"Huh! For your information, ordinary people like you will never understand the subtle communication between lovers, right Kyo?"
"…whatever. I'm going to go get somethin' to eat…"
"Wait for me, Bontenmaru!"
Benitora hurried after the large man while Akari dragged Akira and Hotaru along to go look around at the stalls along a different path. Yuya was too busy jumping from one stall to another, marveling at the various wares for sale to pay attention.
A festival was going on in the small town they happened to pass through and as always, there were stalls being set up to make money out of the occasion. The villagers were crowding the streets and stall owners called out to come and look at what they had to sell. There weren't only Japanese there but foreign traders from Japan's surrounding neighbours like China and Korea. Taking in the fact that they were extremely close to the large city of Edo, it wasn't unusual to see such non-Japanese faces. Besides, earning a living was universal, not just a Japanese trait.
Kyo on the other hand, slipped away, silent as a ghost. His companions (or servants if you wanted it his way) could get lost in the crowd without a single shred of worry on his part. They'd meet up again, if they knew what was best for them. Heaven forbid that Onime no Kyo would chase after the six tag-a-longs like a mother after her rambunctious children. Right now, he'd like to enjoy what little alone time he had.
Starting first of course, thought Kyo with a little smirk as he spotted a welcome sight, with a little sake… (1)
Too much sake's not good for the body you know, reminded the other soul inside his body.
No one asked for your opinion.
But that's MY body and MY liver you're destroying!
If I have to be stuck in your pathetic shell, then I've the right to do whatever the hell I want with it. Including drinking as much as I want. Now shut up.
Kyoshiro caught the inflected tone in Kyo's sharp thoughts and kept mum, although Kyo did hear his faint grumbling and muttering. Then again, it wasn't like he cared. The samurai with the three-foot sword and red eyes sauntered over to the sake stall, parting the crowd like a katana blade though enemies.
Yuya looked around the sea of dark hair and realized that she had lost her companions in her enthusiasm to go look at the stalls. Amidst the sounds and shouts, she looked around, a little anxious at not spotting any familiar faces.
Now where could they be- Yuya raised an eyebrow, reading a wooden sign to the right.
Of course. Where ELSE would His Majesty of Arrogant, Murderous Creeps be?
Making a beeline for the store, she "sumimasen"-ed through the sea of people and if that didn't work, elbowed her way to the store. True enough, a dark figure sat alone (one reason why would be the three foot sword resting in its sheath at his waist) at a wooden table, four large bottles of sake already consumed with the fifth being half drained, all in the space of fifteen minutes. And there wasn't even a tinge of crimson on his face.
"Where're the others?"
He took a connoisseur-like sip of his sake, not even looking up. "How should I know, dog face?"
Kyo merely took another sip as the feminine aura of burning rage singed the ends of his hair. "QUIT calling me that!"
"Pig face then if you prefer."
"WHAT did you just call me!"
Yuya had learned long ago that her guns, no matter how lethal they were, could never threaten this man and therefore were useless in these kinds of situations. She had also learned that any killing attempt on Kyo would just result in humiliating herself one way or another. Scraping the second chair back, she violently sat down while slamming the table with a fist.
"YOU are the most IRRITATING man I've ever met in my entire life!"
"Get your hands off the table, wench. You're spilling my sake."
The waiter who came up to ask what the young miss wanted to drink was tossed a sharp "One full bottle of sake! And make it snappy!" He hurried away with the thought that perhaps his suggestion of something lighter wouldn't be appreciated right at the moment.
"You're paying by the way," Kyo deigned to remind her.
Yuya ground her teeth together, glaring at him. "Considering I'm the only one here with any MONEY!"
Searing glares were also ineffective, evident by Kyo noticing he was out of alcohol and swiping Yuya's order still without bothering to look up at her. What could the blonde bounty huntress do except…
"That's MY sake you're drinking!"
"Like hell it is."
Rage anyway against the unfair logic that was Kyo.
"Can we go look at the stalls now?" pleaded Yuya after the eighth bottle of sake. Afternoon had slowly changed to early evening. The rest were obviously having a good time since they hadn't made an appearance in the last few hours.
"Go by yourself, stupid woman. You were doing that earlier anyway."
"It's not fun going alone, Kyo… haven't you ever been to a matsuri before?"
There was another gulp of sake taken. "Obviously not, idiot slave."
Yuya stared at him, wide eyed in shock despite the insults.
Never been to a matsuri? Never tried to catch a goldfish with that obviously-aimed-to-cheat-people-out-of-their-money thin paper net? Never eaten takoyaki while walking the streets in a yukata? Never enjoyed the sight of fireworks across the night sky?
Kyo suddenly found his cup of sake sloshed onto the table as Yuya pulled his arm and the rest of him from his chair.
"What the HELL are you doing, wench!"
Yuya slammed down some money for the waiter to pick up and began dragging the samurai back into the crowd. "I'll pay for at least five more bottles of sake after this! You HAVE to enjoy the festival!"
Kyo figured she must be serious considering that she was trying to pull Onime no KYO (slayer of more than a thousand men, dangerous demon etc. etc.) by the arm to where he didn't want to go. He pulled back, trying to wrench his arm away. "Get the HELL off me woman!"
When Yuya was excited about something, she had rather unusual strength. Enough to actually pull Kyo a few steps forwards. "SIX bottles!"
Kyo growled as she pulled him three more steps out. Obviously, this was one of the few times she wasn't going to relent. And since he could gloat about her willingness to pay for his consumption of alcohol later on after her apparent insanity had wore off…
She turned to stare at him in disbelief, her determination that he not miss out on a festival not exactly overriding her money mindedness. "Eight! What kind of- oh never mind! I'll pay! Now come on!"
With yet another growl, Kyo allowed himself to be dragged into the teeming river of people as lantern lights flickered on.
"Uh…sir…? Excuse me? Sir? Th, that's the 37th goldfish you've caught already…"
Kyo had a talent for not listening to trivial things like that as he concentrated on the whirling shapes of orange, white and gold in the wooden tub he was squatting in front of. Grinning, he brought his hand down faster than a blink and brought it up with a flopping goldfish on the barely wet paper net.
"S, sir! I really must insist on you giving the others… a…chance…"
He paled at the glint in the pair of red eyes and immediately held out a new bag to dump the goldfish in. At the back of his mind, the poor guy vowed that next time, it would be only one fish per customer. Letting them have another go if they managed to catch a first fish was just too much of a loss. (Then again, how was he supposed to know there was a person in this town that could potentially catch all forty of his fish with ONE net?)
Behind Kyo, Yuya sweat dropped, five bags full of goldfish in her hands. What she was going to do with all these fish was beyond her. But at least he seemed to be having some kind of fun. Whether due to catching the fish or torturing the stall owner was up for debate.
After the fortieth finned, golden creature was dumped in the bag of water, Kyo and Yuya left the poor, unfortunate, and weeping soul, walking on past lighted stores but rarely stopping. Yuya looked at Kyo resignedly.
"You have issues."
Kyo didn't look at her as he gripped Muramasa's hilt and kept walking, always a step ahead of her. "You owe me eight bottles, wench."
Yuya rolled her eyes and skipped to keep pace with him. She stopped by the bank of a thin river to release the fish he'd caught.
"My brother used to catch only about two last time whenever we went to a matsuri. But he let them go anyway since we couldn't keep pets… and he didn't like to see them cooped up," said Yuya conversationally as she watched the golden figures slip away into the water. Kyo caught the wan, faraway smile on her face but said nothing.
They doubled back from there, walking slower than they had earlier. Along the way, something caught Yuya's eye.
Lazily, he rolled his eyes in the direction where Yuya was pointing and raised an eyebrow.
"Never seen calligraphy before, ugly?"
Yuya scowled at him. "Of course I have!" She approached the stall after making a face at him. Several long scrolls of red paper were displayed along the wooden table, inked characters written over them. The man behind the table was slowly taking his time, painting out the characters in pitch-black ink on a new sheet of red paper. He looked to be in his mid sixties, with a wiry gray, white beard and a thin matching moustache.
Rolling his eyes, Kyo strolled up to Yuya who was looking at the ones ready made.
"It's… it's not in Japanese…"
Kyo, towering over the blonde girl, cast an eye on the paper. He raised an eyebrow again. "It's a Chinese poem."
She looked up at him in surprise. "You know Chinese?"
Kyo ignored her, looking at the old man. He had looked up and seeing Kyo, grinned and began to speak something Kyo recognized as Mandarin.
"Rare to meet a man who can read Chinese in this country."
"Rare to see a Chinese calligrapher who sells his poems in a festival," he replied dryly.
The old man chuckled. "We all have our oddities. Me and my wares… and you and your red eyes."
Kyo narrowed said eyes. "What's that supposed to mean, old man?"
Again, the Chinese man laughed, a little more uproariously than before. "Ah, such suspicion! Nothing at all, sir! Nothing at all! Please, take a look."
Kyo shot a suspicious glare at the calligrapher who merely grinned at him again and bent back to his work, languidly moving his brush. Yuya looked at him in confusion.
"What was all that about?"
The girl looked at him for a minute more before returning to the red papers. "What's this poem about?"
Kyo somehow felt good humoured enough to answer. He quietly scanned through for a few minutes, the sounds of the crowd surrounding him and recognized it as a copy of Bai Juyi's 'Lament of Endless Grief'.
"…it's about the concubine Yang Guifei and Emperor Xuanzong. About how the emperor loved Yang Guifei until he neglected his other concubines and his duties. It went on until a war broke out and the emperor was forced by a rebellion to kill Yang Guifei."
Yuya's eyes widened. "Why? Didn't he love her?"
"Didn't you hear me, you idiot? He did. But he loved her too much until he ignored everything else, including his country. Because of his concubine, China went into ruins. What do you think had to happen?"
Yuya grimaced, looking back to the poem. "That's so sad…"
"Heaven," interjected the old man in sudden, rather broken Japanese. "Earth not last forever. But sorrow forever."
Yuya blinked in confusion then looked at Kyo for an explanation. He sighed. "He's quoting the last line of the poem." Using the end of his pipe to point at a row of characters, he recited. "Heaven and Earth may not last forever but this sorrow is eternal."
"Yes, yes," concurred the old man, nodding encouragingly. "Correct."
Yuya, displeased at the sad poem, lifted another piece to the front. "What about this one?"
The old man gave a gentle "Ah…" in recognition of the poem. At Yuya's questioning look, he grinned. "Huang Hun."
Yuya turned back to Kyo who was reading the poem. "He said 'Dusk'. It's the title of the poem."
"Is it a sad one like before?"
Kyo kept silent for a while, his crimson eyes flicking along and reading. Then he spoke. "Judge for yourself."
"Unable to sing an entire song to completion,
Exhaustion has left behind dark eye circles
In the world of feelings, pain is inevitable
However beautiful the dusk may be,
The inevitable darkness will follow.
Still I remember from your lips the goodbye,
A determination strong as steel
The even line of dusk
Draws out a sentence of departure
This love is driven into eternal shadow
Still I remember from your eye
Fell a tear laced with sorrow and longing
The even line of dusk
Cuts off the blissful joy
This love already was
A fantasy extinguished."
Yuya was silent as Kyo finished reciting (or translating if you wanted to get technical) the poem. The sounds of the festival swept around her, louder than she remembered.
"…are they all… always so sad?"
Kyo raised his eyes towards the old man. Smiling sadly, he looked at Yuya.
"Not all. Many. But this one not so sad. Life still go on. Still have hope. Determined although cry."
Yuya looked up at him and had to smile. It seemed to her like this man had plenty of experience before. "How much?"
He gave her a look over. "100 yen."
He chuckled. "Enough for me."
Pulling out her pouch, she duly paid him and took the poem into hand. "Thank you."
"Take care," advised the old Chinese man, gesturing to the paper in her hand as he smiled. "Remember. Still have hope."
"…I will." Bowing, Yuya went on, leaving Kyo to linger behind, giving the old man a look.
"Take care of your young lady, sir. She has a good heart."
"She's not my lady."
The old man only laughed. "Sure seems like it! But you know, it's true. Love isn't always happy. But it always has hope."
He grinned. "Maybe I'm just a sentimental fool… but I am who I am. Have a good evening sir."
Kyo whipped around, the free sleeve of his yukata rustling and spotted Yuya who had found Akari, Akira and Hotaru. Benitaro and Bontenmaru were coming towards them as well, both munching on takoyaki.
The black samurai watched the animated laugh on Yuya's face and he wondered, not for the first time, how he had come to have this sort of feeling for that annoying pest of a girl.
And how possible was it to have her by his side if he regained his original body.
…what if he didn't…?
Yuya turned, feeling someone's eyes on her. Spotting Kyo in the short distance, she smiled and waved at him.
Remember. Still have hope.
He smirked suddenly.
"Senile old man," muttered Kyo as he walked towards Yuya through the crowd of people and sounds of the matsuri.
(1) This was naturally just a figure of speech. 'Little' and 'sake' combined with Kyo was probably a sign of the Apocalypse. Or when the moon actually turned into a nutritious, floating source of calcium from bovines. Also known in some cultures as cheese.
A/N: "Dusk" or "Huang Hun" is actually a Mandarin song sung by Zhou Chuan Xiong or Steve Zhou. So Huang Hun © its writers. The part in this story is really only the chorus and even then, I took out a few lines. (sorry about that to all major fans)I like the song as well although it's rather sad. The translated lyrics were obtained from: blackwinterday. org /huanghun. htm (without the spaces)
Also, information on 16th century Chinese calligraphy for those who're interested, was found from . /english /exhbition /ecal0104 /a /intro. htm (also without the spaces).
Info on the 'Lament of Endless Grief' was from www. wku. edu /yuanh /China /yangguifei. htm (and again, without the spaces) The last line of the poem Kyo recited was taken from this page. If you want, check out the various legends involving women, all of which are pretty interesting reads. Anyway, thanks for reading and have a nice day!