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 maybe they ought to embellish that story a little bit. You know, make it more interesting and such. 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 be fancier? 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, and some people out there aren't going to like it, but that's how it's going to be. If there was romance, then there was romance, and that's how it was; it there was a battle, or a dramatic moment, or even tragedy, then that's how it happened. It won't always be fantastic, and it won't always have that killer "bang!" like those 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. She knew how to spin a tale like no one else. As a matter of fact, she spun a tale out of my great-great-aunt's true tale – 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 as far away as America who knew about her, and that has to account for something.
But like I was saying, she spun this great story out of my Oba-san's story, a true story, about how my relative 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 wonderful friends, and she was supposed to summon a god to bring peace to a kingdom. It all sounds very 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 great-great-aunt's biggest fan, and the biggest fan of her friend, Watase-san – have you heard of her? She's the one who turned the true story into manga, and she did a bang-up job of it, too. I'm an otaku of my own history, I guess you could say; they even tell me that my great-grandmother was a priestess, for a little while, but I don't believe any of that. Sounds like one of those embellishments that authors like to use, if you ask me.
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, at least, 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 suppose 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 take it to be a fabrication, at least they'll know the story. I owe it to everyone to give the world that much, at least. So, that's what I'm going to do. For their sakes, and for my own, that's what I'm going to do.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. A real story has to start at the beginning, not halfway through it or rambling around towards the end. 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 with one of her classic tales, 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 very 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 our key visual, and the Chiriko doll added "kawaii," or cute, points.
And naturally, my dearest friend in the world forgot it.
"You know, I really don't ask for much," I remarked as we marched to history missing 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 book-bag onto her other shoulder, making a great show of studying her nails for some speck of invisible dirt. "I'm half-American. Therefore, I'm only half-obligated to take responsibility for these actions. So let me repeat: 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 of making almost anything sound logical. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times. I smacked her over the back of the head with our rolled-up poster board and oh-so-eloquently suggested that she throw her foreigner excuses out the window – or perhaps roll them up into bombs and toss them onto the heads of south-Asian citizens, since that's where most of them went anyway. She laughed and told me that the Great American Empire would see me hanged for this offense. So I hit her with the poster board one last time.
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 tall blue-eyed stranger walking through downtown Tokyo was something to stare at; that was before the Alliances though, and the creation of "Market Lingo." Dad likes to say that nowadays an alien could march through the shopping mall and people would barely bat an eyelid. He says it's almost unnatural – I say it's about time. If history class taught me anything (besides that Hoshi should never be in charge of anything!), it's that problems come when people spend too much time worrying about how they're different than about how they're the same.
The word "foreigner" is nearly extinct, but Hoshi and I still enjoy it for our little jokes. In true American fashion, we blame her mother for our strange sense of humor – she loves to joke about how she was exiled from the states as a college student because of her "wild liberal ideas." Thanks to her, I know more about the early-21st century Presidents than I ever wanted to know – and most of it isn't very positive. That's what happens when you meet a blameless American, though.
But back to the story.
"Look, you must have some sort of back-up UFO doll in that sack you call a book-bag," 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." Hoshi giggled and glanced away innocently. "I know that sleeping without a UFO doll in your arms is almost blasphemy for you, Miko-chan."
My full name is Kasumiya Mikako, but Hoshi loves shortening it to Miko since I'm such a nut about Fushigi Yuugi. 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…?"
Hoshi stifled a giggle. "Maybe Ueda-kun will be up for a little hug…"
I smacked her with my ten-pound book-bag (better known as "the brick") 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 dark-haired bishounen, 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 black lashes and grinned. "And speak of the devil…"
I followed her emerald gaze towards the young man hurrying down the hall in our direction. My cheeks turned bright pink. 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 Murakami Edward.
I am not a stalker.
"Ohayou, 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.
And I wonder why I'm still single.
Ueda-kun chuckled. "Ohayou, Kasumiya-san, McKinsley-san. Are you ready to present your project today?"
While I tried to oh-so-smoothly 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 this simply marvelous series of skits to the presentation. Yukita-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 not everything is perfectly ready..."
"Our most adorable prop in the world happens to be 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 this ridiculous look on her face – her eyes all scrunched up and her mouth puckered, like she'd swallowed a lemon or something. I tried out my fiercest glare, though it never seems to work much on anyone. "Stop treating this like a joke! That was the best visual in the entire project! It's practically an antique!"
"Ano..." we both glanced up to face Ueda-kun, who was smiling nervously at us. "You know, school doesn't start for another twenty minutes, and Yukita-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. Well, not really, but I like to pretend I live in the anime world from time to time. "Hontou ni?" I practically screamed, and it took every ounce of self-control I possessed not to hug-tackle him right there. "Oh Ueda-kun, thank you so, so much! You're an absolute genius!"
"Oh, it was nothing..."
I ignored him and whirled on Hoshi, snatching up her arm and dragging her back down the hallway. I chanced a glance over my shoulder and noticed Ueda-kun still standing where we'd left him, looking a bit surprised and maybe a little insulted. Okay, so I'd just completely ditched him for UFO doll. So 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 being reincarnated 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-8 East for short), 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 my Hall (I'm in Orenji, if you were curious). The school was pretty close, all things considered, but we were still flirting with tardies and angry teachers, two things that Hoshi tried to avoid as much as possible. I could practically smell the frustration dripping off her body. Finally, I remarked innocently, "If you hadn't forgotten it..."
"If I am late for class, I shall probably 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' and I shall be forced to murder you, your family, and possibly your pet gerbil."
I rolled my eyes at her little speech. "Oh please, you know I always keep every episode stored on my Digibi. Once you're off restriction, you can just—"
"Irrelevant!" Hoshi cried in that melodramatic tone she loves so much. "By Thursday morning everyone will have told me the entire storyline at least seven times, and I shall have everything spoiled for me! Everything, Miko-dono, and all for your precious UFO doll!"
I stared at her for a few seconds. "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 muttered something rude – something I prefer not to repeat for the sake of younger audiences – 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 this narrative might have you thinking).
Anyway, 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, equally rough edges.
"Ow!" I yelped, pulling my hand back and grabbing my aching fingers. "Stupid train-riding people, 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 that ruddy bag tipped over the edge and – wham! – popped me right in the head. I almost thought I had a concussion, and I know I had a lump for about five days, even if my mother did smooth out the bump with some Med... but I digress. The point is, people are too bloody 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 symbol 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 damn near 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. "Hoshi! Hoshi! I found it! I found it!"
My dearest of friends stared at me blankly. She didn't even bother getting up from her seat. In fact, all she had to say in light of my amazing discovery was, "Ah, and I suppose by 'it' you don't mean your sanity. That's a real shame."
"You don't understand!" I practically shouted in her face. "Look! It's it!"
I shoved the book in front of her, its lettering barely readable to her as well... but that "barely" was just enough.
"Oh Sweet Buddha in his Temple!" she screamed, which translated from Hoshi-speak into something along the lines of "Oh my freaking GOD!" She snatched the book from my hands, turning it over and over again in disbelief. 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'd it possibly get here?"
"The will of the gods," I said, a tiny smile on my bewildered face. 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 – can we? Now that the gods have been summoned—"
"That didn't stop Grandma Mayo, did it?" I slipped my thumb between the cover and the first page, steadily pushing it open. "The book only shows up when it needs a miko, 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 onto paper. 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...?"
"Even Amiboshi, Hoshi-chan."
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!"
Hoshi shot me a look that said 'then why are we getting the stupid UFO doll?' but all she actually said was: "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 our beloved manga, we have lives to maintain as well. And I'm not going to ignore that life for the sake of a childhood fancy, Miko."
I sat down beside her, making no effort to hide my pout. Sometimes Hoshi could be so... so... so bloody reasonable! "I'd have thought that you of all people, with your stories and your fantasy worlds, would've jumped at this chance," I murmured, staring rebelliously at the ancient book.
"The trick to living in my fantasy world," Hoshi said with a smile, "is the ability to acknowledge that it is a fantasy world."
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 realized how much I hated that tone – would it have killed the world to have real people working at 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 can 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 our normal lives to lead. 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 his house. Chiriko in all his adorable plushiness sat perched on Hoshi's desk, smiling at us as if to say, 'What took you so long? I've been waiting for hours!' Hoshi snatched the doll up and headed back to the door. "Tah-dah! Now, my obsessed comrade, may we return to our location of education, or shall we..." she trailed off, probably because I was rummaging around in her closer. 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 Volume 1 & 2 of Gyokuran High over here last weekend. I want 'em back so I can loan them out to Ueda-kun."
Hoshi sighed, and a tiny sweatdrop popped out on her forehead. Okay, not really, but I told you that I like pretending that I live in an anime. "That figures." I ruffled around unsuccessfully through her Lolita-style clothes, tarot cards, mythology books, old anime disks, and stacks of Ribon magazines 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 nuclear wasteland a 'system'?"
"Genius is symbolized by messiness, 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 really pushed Hoshi's buttons because she drops all her extra 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 with supreme reverence. "Oh, end of school, hurry up and get here!" I moaned to the heavens. "I'm so sick of this boring life...!"
"Well excuse Ueda-kun and I for our most terrible 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 really happens anymore, not in this world. Even chivalry died with the Civil Rights Movement."
"Yes, damn those feminists, why couldn't they have stayed in the kitchen where they belonged?"
"Can't you be serious for two seconds?" I cried, snatching a pillow off her bed and hurling it across the room.
"Can't you be smart for two seconds?" she shot back, whirling around, catching the pillow, and flinging it right back at me without missing a beat. "I don't know if you forgot, but Konan wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. It happened to be filled with 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. I thought you'd jump at a once-in-a-lifetime chance like this."
"Maybe I will when school is finished, but I can't worry about a dream right now," she explained, turning back to her closet and continuing her search for the ever-elusive manga. "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 love fairytales, but I'd prefer to keep them in their respective place as fairytales. I'm a terrible horseback rider, 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-chan? You would've thought it was an adventure, not an annoying fairytale."
"Speaking with dolls, now? Should I call Dr. Freud?"
"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.
Oba-san – Aunt
Ohayou – Good morning (informal)
Hontou ni? – Really?
Bishounen – pretty boy
ShiChiJinTessho – Universe of the Four Gods
Sakura – Cherry Blossom
Orenji – Orange (hehe)
Miko – Priestess
-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 /