This is the first of my three-part Chichiri story-it will probably be the most depressing. It includes Chichiri's tragic history and information from the second OAV-just to warn you if you don't want spoilers or anything. Fushigi Yuugi isn't mine-if it was…guess what? Everyone would end up happy-or with justice on their side! Hikari is original though!
"You're really starting to piss me off."
Chichiri glanced up from the river to his red-haired companion, a brow raised in puzzlement. He hadn't done anything, lately, that would merit such a response out of Tasuki…at least he thought so. As of now, he had kept to himself and hadn't said anything unless questioned, and even then he answered directly and became silent again.
"What have I done?" He quested as he pulled the fishing line out of the river then cast it out once more.
Tasuki growled his frustration, "It's not what you've done but what you haven't done. You are so freakin' quiet and you always keep things to yourself. I never know what the hell you're thinking and half the time I don't think I want to know cause it would be so damned depressing!" Tasuki flopped down on the flat rock beside Chichiri and looked him straight in the eye, Chichiri's good one. "What's done is done and no matter what you think, nothings going to change what's happened."
Chichiri turned back to the river, barely acknowledging the fact that Tasuki had just lectured him, and that he deserved it. Lately he had been quiet, and very reserved. He had resorted to wearing his mask off more than on, and that in itself was uncharacteristic of him. He just couldn't seem to help himself. The memories were coming back stronger than ever, and his meeting with HER had not helped.
"I understand what you're trying to say, Tasuki." Chichiri lazily tugged on the line. "But I haven't been able to keep the memories or nightmares at bay, no da."
Tasuki growled and slapped Chichiri on the back, "You know I'm here for ya man; why don't you just talk about it. I won't judge, too harshly at least, and I promise to keep my fat mouth shut for as long as I can stand to."
Chichiri smiled at his friend despite his discomfort. He really did not want to talk about it, but from the stubborn look on Tasuki's face, he figured talking to him would be the best way to keep him off his back. That stubbornness also reminded him of HER, and that in itself was probably what got him talking. He could not keep it inside anymore, and whether Tasuki liked it or not, it was all coming out now.
"You know about Hikou and Kouran, no da." Chichiri sighed and leaned forward as he spoke. "Well, we're close by the village where all that happened."
Tasuki nodded, keeping his mouth closed and his face as expressionless as possible. Not too long after Miaka had gone back to her world, Chichiri and Tasuki had taken to traveling together, and in those travels, he had opened up more until the whole tragic history of Kouran and Hikou had been confessed. Tasuki could not blame Chichiri for jumping to conclusions like he had, hell Tasuki probably would've done the same thing with Kouji if something like that had happened. However, thankfully, he wasn't really into women. He had had enough of them growing up; he certainly did not want to be entangled with them again.
"Yesterday, while you were still asleep, I went to where the village used to be. Now it is a swampy area, I don't think the place ever recovered from that flood. But in the middle of where the village used to be there's a house on stilts built on a small hill." Chichiri closed his eyes, picturing the quaint building. "Curious, I went up to the house and looked around. There were hundreds of stones circling the house and on each stone was a name, names of the people who used to live in the village. I found my family's names," Chichiri opened his eyes and sighed, "and I found Kouran's and Hikou's names as well, no da."
Tasuki turned and watched the passing river. He didn't know what to think about what Chichiri was telling him. So far, he could completely understand why Chichiri was so depressed and wracked with guilt-ridden nightmares. Just being in the general vicinity of the area would have have made Tasuki go bonkers if it had been him. He had to admire Chichiri for his strength.
Chichiri continued, "While I was circling the house, reading all the names, the owner came out and watched me without my knowledge. When I looked up," Chichiri closed his eyes and tensed, "I thought I was staring into the eyes of Hikou, no da."
Tasuki sat up straighter, suddenly very alert.
"I didn't know what to say, I just stood there staring as if rooted to the spot. The owner gave me a half smile and disappeared inside the house. When the owner turned I saw a long braid," Tasuki's eyes widened and Chichiri nodded, "The owner was a woman, and obviously a relative to Hikou. When she came back out, she had a bundle clutched to her chest. She did not say anything as she descended the stairs, but she never took her eyes off my face. I don't think Hikou's eyes were as striking as this woman's, I couldn't seem to speak or move because I was so stunned, no da."
When Chichiri suddenly grew silent, Tasuki nudged him in the ribs. Chichiri jerked a little, as if he had been lost for a moment, then continued.
"When she reached me she gave another half smile," Chichiri suddenly chuckled, "she has a dimple in her right cheek, no da."
Tasuki nodded his head but didn't say anything.
"She handed me the bundle and finally spoke." Chichiri closed his eyes again. "Her voice wasn't like Hikou's in the sense that it wasn't deep, and it didn't hold the half amused rumble that Hikou always had. However, her voice was husky and it seemed vaguely familiar to me. At first I couldn't understand what she was saying, I was too focused on her voice to really recognize the words, but then she smiled fully and I was suddenly very alert." Chichiri opened his eyes and stared at Tasuki, "She has a very warm smile, no da."
Tasuki nodded but again didn't say anything. So far, he did not know what to make of Chichiri's story, but he knew that he was a little uncomfortable with where it was going.
"She told me her name was Hikari and she was Hikou's little sister." Tasuki's eyes grew wide as saucers, making Chichiri smile. "My reaction exactly, no da. I had completely forgotten about her; in fact, while growing up, I vaguely remember Hikou introducing me to her. She was always trying to come with us to fish or play, but Hikou would tell her to leave us alone. I remember once, when I was having dinner with his family, she came and sat in my lap. She told me that I was handsome that she wanted to marry someone like me." Tasuki chuckled then coughed, trying to hide his reactions. "That's all I remember of her though; her family sent her off to live with aunts in the city long before any of what happened between Hikou and Kouran, and I occurred, no da."
Tasuki fidgeted where he sat. He seriously wished Chichiri would hurry up and get to the conclusion of his story. He wanted to know why Chichiri was still so messed up with his nightmares, and why he was so quiet. He knew that it was partly due to Hikou and Kouran, but there was something more. And Tasuki would bet that it had to do with Hikari.
Chichiri noticed Tasuki's movements and smiled, "Don't worry I'm coming close to the end, no da." He pulled the fishing line out and recast. "She told me that when she'd heard about the flooding and Hikou's death, she left her aunts, and her fiancé, to come back here. When she got here, everything was already gone, the people, the cattle, the crops, the homes. All that was left were some graves here and there, among the ruins of the village. Hikari said that the bundle that I was holding was all that was left of the village and that I should have it."
Tasuki tilted his head the side, "Why the hell would she want you to have the village spoils?"
Chichiri sighed, "She told me that when Hikou was reborn and before he came after us seishi, he came to this village. Hikari was the only one here and when she saw her brother she tried to embrace him, but he told her he was not the same and that she couldn't touch him because he was evil. Hikari asked how he was evil and she said that he merely smiled and told her that he had made a deal with the devil so that he could come back and kill me, no da." Tasuki stiffened but said nothing. "Hikari said that he disappeared after that. Until that moment, she had always thought I was dead, so when Hikou told her about his plan to kill me she said that she felt an odd mixture of sadness and hope. She was glad that I had survived, but she was sad that Hikou felt the need to kill me."
"Does she even know the history between the two of you?" Tasuki questioned, interrupting Chichiri before he could go on.
Chichiri nodded, "One of the villagers that had survived wrote to her aunts and told them all that they knew. He said that Kouran and I had been engaged, then after Hikou kissed her, that she broke off the engagement. Hikari put all the facts together and came up with the correct conclusion; that I had confronted Hikou on the banks of the river during the flood."
Tasuki chewed on his lower lip, "Does she blame you?"
"She told me that although she missed her brother, she didn't blame me for his death. The way she put it was, 'he probably would've died in the flood like everyone else anyway.'" Tasuki grimaced; that was harsh thinking. "She said that if I had survived the flood then there was obviously a reason why I was supposed to live. Just like since she'd been sent away before the tragedy, there was a reason why she was supposed to live as well."
Tasuki nodded and kept silent. Chichiri handed him the fishing rod and pulled a small bundle from a pocket in his robe. He placed it in Tasuki's lap then took the fishing rod back. Tasuki raised his eyebrows in confusion but said nothing as he unwrapped the bundle.
"Holy shit!" He exclaimed.
Chichiri nodded his agreement. Tasuki scratched his head then picked up the small rock. It was white, rounded, and smooth, and in striking black letters was written Chichiri's name. Tasuki turned the rock over and nearly dropped it in surprise. In equally striking letters was Hikari's name. He looked up at Chichiri, confusion and surprise written across his face.
"Hikari told me that we were all that was left of the village, all that survived the past. She said because it was her brother that had caused me so much pain, that it was her duty to serve me, no da." Chichiri stopped and tugged on the line, leaving Tasuki in suspense. "She informed me that she will be by my side until death takes her."
Tasuki's mouth fell open, "What the fuck!"
"That's what the rock means. I am on one side while she is on the other; where I go she will follow, no matter where." Chichiri sighed; suddenly looking like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. "She said that although she couldn't take away the painful memories, or the torment Hikou's betrayal caused, she could serve me and be a sort of companion. She told me that she would be ready in one day and then she would accompany me wherever I go."
Tasuki whistled through his teeth. Yep, this was definitely a twisted story. He looked back down at the rock, bringing it closer to inspect. The letters were boldly written, and upon closer inspection, he found small lines connecting the two names together. It wasn't really noticeable upon first glance, but the longer he looked at the rock the clearer the lines became. Tasuki looked up at Chichiri.
"Did you know that your names are connected?"
Chichiri nodded, "She's told me that even though years have separated us, and the past torments us, she still feels about me the same way she did then, and that whether I like it or not we are connected, no da."
Tasuki's eyebrows shot up, "How did she feel about you then?
"She wanted to marry me, remember." Chichiri gave a half smile.
"No," Tasuki scratched his head, "she said she wanted to marry someone like you."
Chichiri shook his head, a smile on his lips, "That was her way of saying she wanted to marry me; believe me, she explained that quite clearly to me."
Tasuki's face paled, "So let me put it all together. You are having recurring nightmares of what ensued between you, Hikou, and Kouran because we are so close to where it all came to pass. Now, Hikou's little sister has pledged her life to you, because of what happened between the three of you and all the pain that it has caused. Oh, I almost forgot. The little sister also happens to have a crush on you. Did I get all that right?"
Chichiri nodded, his face grim. Tasuki let out a long string of curses then fell silent. This was really warped. Although he could see why Hikari felt the way she did, about wanting to make it up to Chichiri and all, he still did not exactly like the idea of having a woman with them all the time, if she did come. Already, he knew a few traits about the girl. She was bold, outspoken, compassionate, responsible, and entirely too honest. If she had been a guy, Tasuki would've liked her, but since she was a woman he didn't exactly trust her.
"What are you going to do?" Tasuki ventured the question, breaking the tense silence.
Chichiri sighed; pulling the line out of the river and slowly began to pack up his gear. He spoke only when he finished, "She's already waiting at our camp. There's not much that I can really do. She told me that even if I ignored her, and did not let her travel with me, she would follow. She told me that it was her responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past, and that by being with me and serving me, she could do so. She is very stubborn, believe me, I could tell from the way she crossed her arms and glared at me as she told me, no da."
Tasuki growled. Just great, add stubbornness to the list of traits. Tasuki was looking forward to meeting this girl. He knew that he would probably come to respect and maybe even like her, just like he had with Miaka. Then it would be painful if she ever did die, or suddenly decided to leave.
"Are you going to accept her?" Tasuki suddenly asked, half-hoping Chichiri would say yes and half-hoping he would refuse.
Chichiri stared across the river and sighed, "I feel that she is my responsibility, just like she feels the responsibility to atone for the sins of her brother. Maybe," Chichiri fell silent and closed his eyes before continuing, "Maybe we can heal each other."
"It would be about bloody time!" Tasuki suddenly slapped Chichiri on the back and turned to go back towards camp. "Well, let's not keep Hikari waiting."
Chichiri turned and followed, putting his mask back on. He didn't know how he felt about the situation. All that he knew was that with her appearance it just made the situation a whole lot more complicated. Chichiri sighed, his shoulders slumping as if in defeat. He should not feel attracted to her; he should not feel the need to protect her, the desire to keep her far from pain. She was Hikou's little sister; she was innocent; she was beautifully compassionate. That is what made it so very wrong. Not only had he killed her brother, but also he had confronted and destroyed him again after Hikou came back. He should be hit for even thinking about her in any way other than brotherly.
Chichiri clenched his jaw as they came through the trees and into the clearing. There she was, calmly sitting by a fire that she had started, in the middle of their camp, looking like she belonged there. Her hair was braided again, the thick, black braid falling down to her waist. She wore men's clothing, but that did not surprise Chichiri much. She had been the day he met her, and she had often when she was younger. The dark green color of the robes made her skin seem even paler than normal. Suddenly she looked up, and Chichiri was overcome with the urge to run away. Her eyes were so arresting, the dark violet color vibrantly shining out from her oval face. Chichiri couldn't keep himself from staring back at her. She was as tall as Hikou had been, making her about the same height as him. She wasn't broad shouldered like Hikou, she was long and limber, slender but with curves. She was attractive to say the least, but not in an immediate eye-catching way. She was quietly beautiful, even though she was not very quiet herself.
"The good thing about being in the middle of your camp," she spoke once they were close enough to hear, "is knowing that you both can't leave without coming back to get your stuff."
Tasuki grinned, immediately finding her humorous, yet another trait to add to the growing list. Chichiri gave a shrug as he set the few fish that he had caught by the fire. He turned and packed away his gear then sat down near the fire. He reached forward to grab the fish but jerked back when Hikari reached forward and snatched them first. She gave him a smile as she pulled out a large knife, proceeding to gut and skin the fish.
"So you're Hikari," Tasuki remained standing, rocking on his feet as he watched her work.
Hikari paused in her task to glance up at him, "You were expecting someone else?"
Tasuki shrugged, "No."
Hikari suddenly smiled, making Tasuki feel a little uncomfortable because of the open warmth he saw there, "Just trying to make polite conversation?"
"Well, yes I suppose." Tasuki did not know what to say.
Hikari finished her task and stood up, "Don't worry, Tasuki. You don't have to make small talk with me, I don't expect you to welcome me with open arms, or become my friend immediately." Hikari rummaged around until she had a few good sticks and came back to the fire. "I've been living on my own for close to four years now, I think I can handle silence."
Tasuki nodded then spoke again, "Why aren't you married?" Tasuki suddenly wished he could bite his tongue off, either that or take back his question.
Hikari didn't seem to mind the question however, "He didn't understand my need to live here, amidst all the old pain and devastation. He also did not agree with my feelings about the country. He's a city boy, and no amount of love could change that."
"You're not too fond of the city I gather." Chichiri finally spoke, and he noticed that Hikari immediately smiled at him because of it.
"No, I'm not. I have always preferred the country, and I have always loved traveling. Being in the city keeps me from both." Hikari stabbed the fish with the sticks and handed two to Tasuki and Chichiri. "But now, with you, I can have both."
Tasuki kept his eyes averted. She seriously knew how to make a guy feel uncomfortable. He hadn't met anyone so upfront about their feelings before; it was very disconcerting in a refreshing way, if that made any sense what so ever. He found himself speechless again. It was a little odd, his being speechless. It did not happen very often.
"Chichiri," Hikari's voice was suddenly soft, "will you let me stay with you?"
Tasuki had just taken a bite of fish so thankfully his mouth was full, otherwise he might have chuckled. Chichiri looked up from the fire to stare at Hikari. Her eyes were wide now, her emotions clearly showing in their depths. She had a look of hope mixed with the ever present sadness. Chichiri could not bring himself to say no.
"Yes," Hikari immediately smiled after Chichiri spoke, "but you will not have to serve me like a servant. I expect you to walk beside us when we travel and I expect you to act like an equal."
Hikari was silent for a few moments, her face giving away every single emotion that filtered through her mind. She suddenly brightened and nodded, her happiness giving Chichiri a surge of peace. He never knew that a simple smile could do so much, but that simple gesture of hers had him feeling much better than he had. Maybe her presence wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.
"Right, so when do we start?" She asked, her eyes wide with excitement.
Tasuki spoke through mouthfuls of food, "Why are you so eager to get moving?"
"Well," Hikari jutted her finger over her shoulder, "painful memories haunt that place, and since I've been here for the past four years, I think it's about time for a break."
Tasuki shrugged his agreement, finishing off the last of his food and turned to pack up his gear. Chichiri ate silently, allowing his eyes to wander back to Hikari repeatedly. He could not seem to keep his eyes from traveling her direction. She was so full of life despite the hardships that she had been through; she had a spark of energy that refreshed him. She did not hide her feelings from others; he could always tell what she was feeling from her eyes. He remembered Hikou describing her as one who "wore her heart on her sleeve." Chichiri now understood completely what his friend had been saying.
"Chichiri, do you want to get going now?" Tasuki's voice interrupted Chichiri's thoughts.
Chichiri nodded and immediately gathered up his belongings, keeping his eyes on Hikari as she put out the fire and gathered up a small pack, which she slung onto her back. She picked up a long stick and stood ready within seconds, a look of barely restrained excitement on her face. Chichiri suddenly wondered about her age.
"Hikari, how old are you?"
Hikari laughed, the sound making Chichiri stiffen in surprise, "Old enough, why?"
Tasuki answered for Chichiri, "You just seem very…full of life."
"Is it a bad thing for older people to hold value on life, telling themselves to live each day as if it were their last?" Hikari's change to seriousness was sudden and it nearly caught Tasuki off guard, if she hadn't been smiling softly while she'd spoken it would have. "I'm nineteen."
Chichiri nodded then turned and started towards the road. She was six years younger than he was, and the memories of her trying to follow him and Hikou suddenly filled his mind. She had been so small then, small enough to curl up in his lap and fall asleep during dinner. Chichiri smiled at the memory of her snoring softly against his chest, her arms wrapped around his waist as she snuggled in his lap. He had guessed that she had a crush on him then but never thought much about it, especially since he was so involved with Kouran. Then Hikari left, but not before she had sought him out to give him a goodbye kiss. Even now, he was surprised that she had done it.
He had been fishing near where he had been earlier. She had come out of nowhere so suddenly that he had fallen in. He still remembered her yelling at him, telling him that he couldn't drown because she hadn't told him goodbye yet and that he had to stay alive so he could take care of her family while she was gone. Chichiri glanced over at Hikari and smiled softly, she had not changed much when it came to her opinionated honesty.
When Chichiri had climbed out of the river, Hikari had run up to him and tackled him in a hug that nearly made him fall back into the river. She told him that no matter where she went he would be in her heart, whether he liked it or not. Then without giving him any warning, she had kissed him firmly on the lips then ran back to the village, giggles trailing behind her. Chichiri remembered feeling confused and amused at the same time.
No, it was definitely going to be a good thing to have her around. Just having her near was helping him to remember the good things about his past and not only bad things. The only problem, Chichiri thought after finding her staring at him with an odd look in her eyes, was going to be keeping his distance. And from the look on her face, she wasn't going to allow him much distance.
Tasuki watched the two look at each other then quickly look away. It was very amusing really. He could easily tell that Hikari liked Chichiri, yep that was obvious. But what made it even more amusing was the fact that Chichiri somewhat reciprocated her feelings. At least, he was attracted to her. That in itself made Tasuki want to hoot with laughter. It was very ironic really. Deliciously ironic. He couldn't wait to see what would happen in the next few weeks. There was definitely going to be some major tension between the two of them, but at least he would be there to laugh at them both.
"Yep, I think it will be fun having you with us." Tasuki's smiled at Hikari.
Hikari raised a brow at his words, "Why is that?"
Tasuki just grinned even more, "You'll add some much needed spice to life."
Chichiri gave him an odd look but didn't say anything. Hikari seemed to understand his meaning and blushed a little but smiled back at him. Tasuki suddenly began to whistle. He was having fun.
Review if you liked-or if you didn't-and please check out my other fanfics. Hope you enjoyed this!