Disclaimer: I don't own Fushigi Yuugi, but I do own Mikako, Hoshi, and a few other characters that might pop up here and there. Oh, and of course I own the story.
Author's Note: Hello all! This is my first fanfic on this account, and I'm trying out some new things with it, so I'm incredibly interested in hearing what everyone thinks. So whether you like it or not, I cannot stress enough that I really want to hear some reviews. I want to improve as a writer, both of regular fiction and fanfiction, so every piece of advice, every critique, and every scrap of opinion helps me to do just that! Thank you so much!
Oh, and By the Way... THIS IS NOT A SELF-INSERTION! If I ever write one of those, I want someone to stab me with a pitchfork. It's written in first-person, but that's only because Mikako wanted it that way. Mikako does not equal Tangerine Infinity.
I hope that makes you feel better. :-) Please enjoy "Broken Wings"! Talk to you later!
/ Broken Wings /
Soaring from the Ashes, However Many Times
Chapter One: The Miko's Niece (Great-Great Niece, in Fact)
Sometimes, when a person sits down to write a story, they figure that should embellish that story a bit. But when you think about it, that's kind of stupid, isn't it? Because if the story was worth writing in the first place, then why do you need it to make more dramatic stuff up? Doesn't make much sense to me, anyway. That's why this isn't going to be one of those stories. I'm going to tell it like it happened, or the way I remember it happening at least, and hopefully that'll be enough. Maybe it won't always have the most thrilling battles or the fluffiest romances, and maybe the people in it won't be the larger-than-life epic heroes like in other stories, but this isn't one of those other stories.
If you want a story like that, then you ought to go talk to my great-great-aunt's old friend. Now there's a storyteller for you. As a matter of fact, she turned my great-great-aunt's true story into a fiction—and she told the truth, or mostly the truth, because like I said all the real writers embellish a little bit—and it made her a little bit famous. I say a little bit because she was only really popular in one country, and only a little popular in some of the others, but there were still people all over the world who knew about her, and that has to count for something.
In that story, she documented how my great-great-aunt went into a book, only it wasn't a book but a real world. And in that world, she met the man of her dreams and these great friends, and she summoned a god to bring peace to a kingdom. It all sounds crazy-romantic, I know, which I guess is why I grew up hanging on every word of the old stories, though I never believed them, not really. Still, I was my own relative's biggest fan, and the biggest fan of her writer friend, Watase-san. I'm an otaku of my own history, I guess you could say.
This isn't my old aunt's story. That's already been told, and there's no reason for me to tell it again, not when Watase-san did it so well the first time. This is my story, if you want to call it that. It's the story I was in, anyway, though it was hardly my story—it belonged to everyone, to all of them, from Joumi-senpai to my pal Hoshi, and all the way to Natsuyuki-san. Especially to Natsuyuki-san, because without her I guess there wouldn't have been any story at all. But none of them wanted to do the telling, and some of them couldn't do the telling, and I feel like people need to know about it, even if they think it's all made-up, at least they'll know the story. I owe it to everyone to do that much, at least.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. A real story can't just ramble around like this. It's got to have a proper starting place.
Mine starts with a UFO doll.
My best friend Hoshi McKinsley was famous at our high school for two things: her great ability to tell stories, and her even greater ability to forget everything except those stories. She could keep an entire class on the edge of their seats, but when Nakamura-sensei handed out a math assignment the papers were almost immediately lost within the chaos of her book bag, sometimes never to be seen again.
Which is why I wasn't too surprised when she left my Chiriko UFO doll at her house instead of bringing it to school for our "Entertainment Timeline" project for Japanese History. We were supposed to go through history, looking at the different mediums of art and entertainment, and anime was going to be one of our later showcases. My huge collection of Fushigi Yuugi (that's what Watase-san called my great-aunt's story) was a key visual, and the Chiriko doll was gonna earn us some serious Cute Points.
And my dearest friend in the world had forgotten it.
"You know, I really don't ask for much," I said as we marched to history minus one required visual. "A kind word or two when I'm having a bad day, maybe a free cookie when I come over for study sessions…"
"Must we go over this again?" Hoshi shifted her satchel onto her other shoulder, making a great show of studying her nails. "I'm half-American, therefore I can only be held half-responsible for my actions. So, to reiterate: It's my sister's fault for rushing me through breakfast this morning."
"Ah, so I should blame her student government meeting for our lost presentation points?"
Eloquence is essential for a good storyteller, and Hoshi has that in full. She has the ability to make anything sound exotic. She also has an uncanny knack for making almost anything sound logical. This was not one of those times. I smacked her over the back of the head with our rolled-up poster board and told her responsible half to start picking up the slack for the rest of her.
We have an ongoing joke about Hoshi's nationality, though most people barely notice things like that anymore. My parents like to talk about days when seeing a six-foot blue-eyed stranger walking through downtown Tokyo was something to stare at, but that was before the Munich Treaty and the streamlined citizenship system. Dad likes to say that nowadays an alien could march through the shopping mall and people would barely bat an eyelid. About time, you ask me. If history classes had taught me one thing, it's that problems come when people spend too much time freaking out about how they're different than making connections over how they're the same.
Well, okay, I guess history classes had taught me something else, now: Never trust Hoshi with anything.
"Come now, Miko-chan, you must have a back-up UFO doll in The Brick," Hoshi insisted, pointing towards the bulging blue knapsack dangling from my aching shoulder. "I thought you always carted those things around, just in case you wanted to take a nap in dear Nakamura-sensei's class."
My full name is Kasumiya Mikako, but Hoshi loves shortening it to Miko—"Priestess"—since I'm such an FY nut. And she never misses an opportunity to tease me for my obsession, though she's just as in love with the manga and anime as I am. I glared at her across the small hallway. "I left them all at home because I thought you'd be bringing Chiriko for me, thank you very much." I sniffed and looked away, feeling particularly betrayed. "Now what am I supposed to snuggle when I pass out in science…?"
"Maybe Ueda-kun will be up for a little cuddle…"
I popped her with the poster board again and stomped down the hall, cheeks bright red. As I reached the end of the hallway, I glanced back over my shoulder and shouted mutinously: "Shows what you know! My dream man happens to be a noble gentleman, and his name is—"
"Hotohori-samaaaa!" Hoshi squealed teasingly, scurrying down the hall to catch up with me. "Well, if I meet an emperor running around the streets of Tokyo, I'll be sure to give him your number, but until that day comes…" she glanced up through her long lashes and grinned. "And speak of the devil…"
I followed her eyes to the young man hurrying down the hall in our direction. Ueda Eiri. High school junior, blood type AB, height 5'9", hair color dark black with a slight hint of dyed green, eye color brown and covered by black-framed glasses. Favorite band: Black Lace. Favorite singer: Yuuko Ichido. Favorite manga: Anything by Kareem Murakami.
I am not a stalker.
"Good morning, Ueda-kun," I called casually down the hallway, raising my hand in the coolest greeting I could muster. I offered him a tiny, coy smile, as if we shared some special secret, and gracefully, ever so gracefully... tripped on Hoshi's foot and nearly fell on my face. That's me, queen of the suave.
Ueda-kun chuckled. "Morning, Kasumiya-san, McKinsley-san. You ready for the presentation?"
While I tried to regain my composure, Hoshi nodded and jerked up the bag with our supplies in it. "Mm! We've got all of our visuals right in here, and we even added a simply marvelous series of skits to the presentation. Yamamoto-san will, I do believe, be showering us in flowers by the end of the production." I glared at her, and she winced visibly. "Well... perhaps it isn't perfect, but..."
"Our cutest prop is missing," I explained. "Because someone was in a hurry to get to school this morning." I glanced over and noticed that Hoshi was mouthing my words with her mouth all puckered, like she'd swallowed a lemon. I tried out my fiercest glare, not that it ever seems to work on her. "Stop treating this like a joke! That was the best visual in the entire project! It's practically an antique!"
"Well..." We both looked to Ueda, who was smiling nervously at us. "You know, school doesn't start for another twenty minutes, and Yamamoto-san is pretty relaxed about people being late. If you hurried, you could probably make the train back to McKinsley-san's Sector, and..."
My eyes grew to about the size of dinner plates. (Okay, not really, but I like to pretend I live in an anime sometimes.) It took every ounce of self-control I possessed not to hug-tackle Ueda right there. "That's brilliant! You're a genius!"
"All I did was read the train schedule..."
I ignored him and whirled on Hoshi, snatching her arm and dragging her back down the hallway. I chanced a glance over my shoulder and noticed Ueda still standing where we'd left him, looking a bit surprised and maybe a little insulted. Okay, so I'd just ditched him for UFO doll. Maybe I'm not the most attentive stalker in the world. But let's not forget this was a life or death situation, and my "A" could very well hang in the balance of a required visual in my project. Love always comes second to life, at least in my world. I'll leave the martyr stuff to TV. At least in the shows you have the chance of mysteriously reappearing twelve episodes later, or meeting each other in your next reincarnation or something.
Hoshi stared out the window as the shop fronts of Tokyo zipped past the train. We both live and go to school in Sector Eight of the Tokyo East Tower (S-8E Pride!), and we also live on the fifth story of the residential section together. Hoshi's in Sakura Hall, which is about five minutes closer to the school than mine. The school wasn't far, all things considered, but we were still flirting with tardies and angry teachers, two things Hoshi tried to avoid as much as possible. I could practically smell the frustration dripping off her body. Finally, I remarked, "If you hadn't forgotten it..."
"If I am late for class, I shall likely receive a detention and, therefore, a weeks' punishment from my dearest mother. And if such a punishment is dealt, I shall miss the new episode of Hayaku Gaki, after which I shall be forced to murder you, your family, and possibly your pet hamster."
"Once you're off restriction you can just—"
"Irrelevant!" Hoshi cried with a flourish. "By Thursday morning I will have overheard everyone in class discussing the plot at least seven times, and everything will be spoiled for me! Everything, Miko-dono, and all for your precious UFO doll!"
I stared at her. "I'm going to the bathroom, and I'm not coming out until you stop acting like an idiot."
"You can't run from your guilt, Kasumiya Mikako!"
I grumbled a curse and slammed the W.C.'s door. Hoshi may be my best friend, but sometimes... but then again, she probably says the same thing about me. I guess that's why we work together so well (or poorly, as the case may be).
I didn't really need the facilities, so I took a seat on the plush couch and reached for a mirror on the nearby counter. I swear, these new trains are like miniature houses. As I snatched a comb out of my purse and started to stick the little bag under the couch, my hand thumped against something hard, with lots of nice, sharp edges.
"Ow!" I yelped, pulling my hand back and grabbing my aching fingers. "Stupid passengers, always forgetting their stuff..." One time some moron left his entire book bag on one of the upper shelves of the train, and when our car rumbled to a halt the bloody thing tipped over the edge and—wham!—popped me right in the head. I'd thought I had a concussion, and I know I had a lump for about five days, even if Mom did smooth out the bump with some Med... but I digress. The point is, people are too forgetful! "What'd they leave behind to try and assassinate me this time?"
I leaned under the couch and attacked, ready to give said offending object a good wallop... and found myself staring at the shadowy image of an old book. And no one gets between me and a good book, not even my aching fingers. "Mine now!" I crowed, snatching it up from under the sofa. I held the ancient text up to the light, brushing a thick layer of dust off the cover. I squinted hard at the faded gold lettering, working out each old-fashioned kanji character with great pain. "The... Universe... Of..."
And then I realized what the rest of the symbols were, and why they looked so familiar, and I almost passed out. I certainly fell off the sofa, because the next thing I remember I was scrambling up from the floor, grabbing my purse, and dashing for the exit.
"Hoshi! Hoshi!" I squealed, throwing open the bathroom door and skittering back across the empty train. I clutched the book to my chest like I'd just found the Holy Grail – which, as far as I was concerned, I had. "I found it! It!" I shoved the book in front of her, its lettering barely readable to her as well... but that "barely" was enough.
"Oh Sweet Buddha in his Temple!" she screamed, which translated from Hoshi-speak into something along the lines of "OMFG!" She snatched the book from my hands, turning it over and over again. She was so excited that she even reverted back to normal speaking patterns, which is when you really know she's surprised. "You're kidding! You're kidding! This thing is actually—can it really—and it still—how could it possibly—how did it get here?"
"The will of the gods," I said, feeling like I'd never stop smiling. I held the opposite end of the book and stared at her across the cover. "Hoshi McKinsley... we're going in."
"Yes. Both of us. Right now."
"Do you... I mean, can we? Now that the gods have been summoned—"
"That didn't stop Mayo, did it?" I slipped my thumb between the cover and the first page. "The book only shows up when it needs a priestess, and I don't plan on ignoring a divine command. This is my dream, Hoshi, and I know it's yours too."
"My dream...?" Hoshi looked about ready to open the book with me, but then that starry look left her eyes and she frowned, pushing the page down again. "But it's a fairytale, Miko, and a dangerous one too. Are you sure it would be all right for us to mess with it? I mean, all we know about that world is what some author romanticized in fiction. We don't really know what'll be in there..."
"Hotohori will be in there. And Tamahome. Chichiri. Tasuki. Everyone!"
Hoshi grinned, that happy little glaze coming back to her face. "Even Amiboshi and Soi...?"
"Whichever one you're crushing on this week, they'll be there."
I started slipping it open again, but she stopped me once more. "Wait. Miko... we can't do it now. Not here. It's too public. What if someone found the book while we were still inside? There's no knowing where we might end up. And besides, we have that project, remember? For class—"
"Who cares about that project anymore, Hoshi? The Universe of the Four Gods is in our hands!"
"And it'll still be there when school ends. But you know what won't be there? Our passing grade." Hoshi pulled the book gently from my hands, setting it on the bench beside her. "Regardless of our old games and beloved manga, we have lives here as well. I'm not going to ignore that for the sake of a childhood fancy."
I sat down beside her, making no effort to hide my pout. Sometimes Hoshi could be so annoyingly reasonable. "I'd have thought that you of all people would've jumped at the chance to live in a fantasy story instead of just tell it," I murmured, glaring rebelliously at the ancient book.
"The trick to a fantasy story," Hoshi said with a smile, "is knowing that it's a story."
I opened my mouth to argue, or maybe I reached forward to grab the book back, but the train decided to slide to a halt right in front of Hoshi's residence Hall. "Level Eight, Residential Section, Sakura Hall," the mechanical driver announced in his usual sugary-polite tone. For the first time in my life I was annoyed by that robo-voice. Would it have killed us to have real people working these jobs?
"This world is too real," I grumbled as Hoshi grabbed the book and moved to the exit. "Gimme a 'childhood fancy' any day."
"Don't be so dramatic," Hoshi said with a teasing smile.
"You're telling me to cool the drama?" I cried, throwing a hand to my forehead in shock and hurrying after her. "At least I talk like a normal human being!"
Hoshi shot something back at me and I said something in return, but I don't really remember what we were joking about. I couldn't get my mind off that book. The seishi and Konan—or Sairou, or Hokkan, or even Kutou—were just a few pages away, just inches from my fingertips, and yet, and yet... I mean, I knew Hoshi was right. We really didn't know anything about the Universe of the Four Gods, except for some dramatized books and a few family stories passed down over the years, and we did still have things in this world to think about. There was Ueda-kun back at school, and our history project, and my parents and friends. Hoshi was right.
I just wished she wasn't right more than anything in the world.
We slipped into Hoshi's home with little trouble—we even managed to avoid her work-at-home dad, who would've lectured us on forgetfulness for five hours if he'd even sensed our presences in the house. Chiriko in all his plushiness sat perched on Hoshi's desk, smiling like he'd been waiting for us. Hoshi snatched him up and headed for the door. "Ta-da! Now, my obsessed friend, may we return to our educations, or shall we..." She trailed off, probably because I was rummaging around in her closet. Even with my back turned to her, I could still feel the frustration shooting out of her body. "Now what?"
"I just remembered that I left the first two volumes of Gyokuran High over here last weekend. I want 'em back so I can loan them to Ueda-kun."
Hoshi sighed, and I imagined a little sweatdrop popping out on her forehead. "That figures." I ruffled around unsuccessfully through her Lolita-style clothes, tarot cards, mythology books, and vintage anime disks until finally Hoshi groaned and shoved me out of the way. "For Demeter's sake, Miko, you're annihilating my entire system!"
"You call this wasteland a 'system'?"
"Messiness is a sign of genius, you know."
"Then get the Nobel Prize ready, 'cause you must be the next Stephen Hawking."
"Oh, shut up and go play with your stupid UFO doll."
I chuckled. I can always tell when I've pushed Hoshi's buttons because she drops all her flowery language. I plopped down on her bed next to The Universe of the Four Gods and Chiriko. I picked the book up and held it above my head, turning it back and forth and studying the old lettering impatiently. "Oh, end of school, hurry up and get here!" I moaned to the heavens. "I'm so sick of being bored all the time...!"
"Well excuse Ueda-kun and I for our insufferable dullness," Hoshi drawled from within her bottomless closet.
"You know what I mean, Hoshi-chan. Magic and mystery, adventure, romance, prince charming on a white horse... none of that stuff happens anymore, not in this world. Even chivalry died out after the Gender Equality Movement."
"Yes, damn those feminists, why couldn't they have stayed in the kitchen where they belonged."
"You know what I mean!" I said again, snatching a pillow off her bed and hurling it across the room.
She caught the pillow and flung it right back at me. "I do, and that's exactly why I'm worried. I don't know if you forgot, but Konan wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. It happened to be filled with slave traders, rapists, gangs, rapists, enemy warriors, rapists, disease, oh, and did I mention rapists?"
"But it all worked out in the end!"
"Try telling that to your dearly departed Hotohori-sama."
I scowled. "You don't understand at all, do you? And here I thought you felt the same way I did."
"Maybe I will when school is finished, but I can't worry about a dream right now. You might find this hard to believe, Miko-chan, but I actually enjoy my life in this world, and I enjoy it because of its terrible lack of Prince Charmings ready to sweep me away on their white horses. I like fairy tales, but I'd prefer to keep them in their respective realm." She shrugged and returned to her closet hunt. "Neither of us knows how to ride a horse, anyway."
I heaved a sigh and leaned over to stare at the adorable Chiriko UFO doll next to me. "You would've been game, huh, Chiri-kun? You would've thought it was an adventure, not a dumb fairy tale."
"Speaking with dolls, now? Should I alert the school counselor?"
"Hoshi-chan, would you—?"
But right then, something big happened. Something that was about to change everything. Because right when I stared to yell at Hoshi I also sat up and reached over to grab another pillow off her bed. But when I moved my hand to go for the pillow, I lost a good handle on the Universe of the Four Gods with my other hand. The book slipped from my fingers and into my lap, flipping lazily open to the first page. The entire book glowed a brilliant crimson, and a bird cried out somewhere – a horrible cry, as if someone were snapping the great beast's wings in half – and my vision blurred over with feathers and light...
And just like that, I was off.
-san: Mr., Mrs. Miss
-sama: Lord, Lady
-kun: Doesn't translate; it's used on male classmates, mostly
-chan: Term of affection, usually used on female friends and little kids
-dono: Super-polite term (and very old-fashioned)
Mikako (美海子 ): the kanji for Mikako's name means "Beautiful (Mi) Ocean (Ka) Child (Ko)," because she was born by the sea. Her nickname, Miko, means "Priestess."
Hoshi (星): "Star" (a lot simpler, huh?)
Author's Note 11/20/05
I'm Tangerine Infinity, but you can call me Tangerine, or Tai (Tangerine Infinity, get it?) for short. Well, Broken Wings has kicked off, and I'm curious to see what everyone has to say about it, so please let me know what you think! (Even if you don't like it, tell me that, too! I won't be able to improve otherwise) I know it's only just gotten started, but I hope you'll stick with it, because things are going to really pick up in the next couple chapters.
So what did you think of Tokyo in the future? (The year is 2092, by the way) I wanted to make it look like we made some progress in 100 years or so, while at the same time giving it a semi-modern feel. You can pretty much say "good-bye" to it now, though, because Mikako's diving into the book! Next time: A Seishi Will Appear! But which one? You'll have to come back to find out!
See you again soon!
/ Tangerine Infinity /