Author: Seraphim Grace
Feedback: Always appreciated and replied to.
Series: Gundam Wing
Pairings: 1x2, suggested 13x6
The boy sits at the breakfast table. He had found the school's beds comfortable and didn't mind that he was expected to share. The other bed was empty but he likes the idea that he won't always have to be alone. The Lady Relena had hobbled down to join them for supper last night and although her ankle had broken and she was on a stick she was full of rare humour with her man-servants flittering about her like determined butterflies.
"You're Stephen." The man says sitting next to him, he has a sunny expression and eyes the colour of twilight, and the boy knows with the same certainty that Relena had based the monk on Yuy that this is the fox, or he had been the fox before many years separated the boy of the story with this man. His hair is greying in places and he has comfortable creases at the corner of his eyes and mouth from a life happily lived. "I'm Duo," he says offering his hand to shake, "I'm sorry I've been just too busy to meet you before this, but give a boy a job and he wants to do it to the best of his ability. I manage the War Museum in town," he says with a grin, "wanna come see?"
The War museum is an imposing old building with an austere concrete front. He knew it well because it is open late and always warm so he had often found shelter against the weather there. It is different, he thinks to himself, wandering around it with someone who knows more than the plaques tell. "That's a Leo," he says pointing out the gigantic metal man, "there were lots of types of them, all named for the zodiac, we've just got a Cancer, but we're yet to get a Pisces." Maxwell's eyes twinkle with mischief. He points to a picture, "And that was General Treize Kushrenada," the boy recognises him from the story as the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming. "And that," Maxwell says stepping over the canvas rope up to a much smaller picture that he lifts down from the wall, "is the five of us, and Lena, when we were your age."
The museum abuts a small café that smells of freshly cooked bacon, "I suppose you want to know how the story ends." Maxwell says putting down two tall glasses of frothy pink milk, "When Lena told it to me, well she told it to Ro when he was in hospital I just happened to be there, god it was a long time ago, I was still convinced that they were going to marry, I thought I'd go out of my head wanting to know what happened to the fox and what he did."
"But the monk told him not to seek revenge." The boy protests.
Maxwell's grin is cold and manipulative. "Ah, but foxes," he says, "are cunning and quick."
The Mikado of all Night's dreaming left them alone for what might have been an hour or an eternity. Perhaps in that time the fox and the monk simply talked, perhaps they made love or perhaps they just sat in the mirror and stared at each other, looking for the words to say. The Mikado of All Night's dreaming left them their privacy and so must we.
Eventually the fox reached out and took from the monk the token which the old man on the path had given him and the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming returned and he looked at them. "It is time," he said.
"Can you free him?" asked the fox.
"I cannot, if you could break the metal of this mirror then you could, but I cannot intrude upon the dreams of men or foxes, even when the dream is unjust." And the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming looked like he might be sad but his face was mercurial and it was hard to tell.
"Take him back outside the land of dreams," the monk said, "that is my decision."
"It's not fair," protested the fox.
"No, it is not" the Mikado said, "but it is his decision, this is his dream that you stole from him, and it is his life that is his to choose."
"I would have you live." The Monk said, "I am a simple man with simple hopes and dreams and love, and you, you are a fox and you are beautiful and cunning and quick. I only ask that when I am gone you seek happiness and not revenge for revenge is an empty path."
The fox wept but the Mikado had his hand on his shoulder pulling him away from where he would have clung. "Can I not stay also? Why must it be only one of us who remains trapped in dreams?"
"Because it is his choice." The Mikado said calmly, "come, your body awaits you in a small temple on the side of a mountain where men never go." As he was led away the canary that was sometimes a wolf and sometimes a man wrapped his arms about the fox and held him tight for long moments but he said nothing.
"Will you do as he asked?" The Mikado asked looking into the fox's twilight eyes.
"Yes," said the fox, "I will seek happiness, for that is what he wanted, but first," and when the fox smiled he showed his sharp white teeth, "I will seek revenge."
The Fox awoke in the small temple of the side of the mountain where men do not go, curled in his fox form in the wild brown hair of the monk, and he sat with him, and he told him all the stories he had ever learned, and all the songs he had ever sung, and on the third day when the monk finally died the fox died inside with him.
In the city of Kyoto, in a house not far outside the emperor's compound an Onmyoji watched the moon wax and wane and found that he did not die. He felt the death of his fear and knew that his spell to kill the monk in the temple on the side of the mountain where men never went had been successful and he amused himself with his teenage concubine whose flesh was as sweet as peaches.
One night when there was a terrible storm and it seemed that the gods warred across the sky and lightning ripped through the clouds a young man knocked on the door to the fifth finest house in Kyoto. The boy was bedraggled and his fine clothes ruined by the weather and the Onmyoji's wife, recognising his obvious nobility invited him in.
They bathed him in the finest oils and layered the finest incenses about him, they gave him robes of the finest silk and the Onmyoji's wife and concubine clucked together to see how lovely he was, how his hair was the colour of burnished oak and his eyes, which were heavy lashed as if by some great sorrow, were the colour of twilight.
When the Onmyoji saw the boy he was overcome with lust, he dreamt at night of the boy's soft limbs and rounded joints, of the curve of his neck and the black line of his lashes against his peach cheek.
The boy stayed in the fifth finest house in Kyoto for two days before he moved into his own house, which was on the other side of the area in which the Onmyoji lived. The Onmyoji was driven mad with lust for the boy, for the line of his back and the soft strength of his hands where he folded them in his lap. So he sent word to the boy that he would like to visit and the boy sent word that he accepted the invitation and he was welcome to call two days from now.
Those two nights the Onmyoji could not sleep nor eat nor find pleasure in either his beautiful wife or his teenage concubine.
He visited his three witches in their small house to see if his suit would be favourably received and when he asked them the youngest of them with her white blonde hair and pale blue eyes, the one who frightened him most because he thought she might be dead, laughed and laughed. "The one he loved," said the eldest with her corn brown hair, "he is dead, there are none who will stand in your way." And the youngest with her dead fish skin and cruel lips laughed and laughed and laughed.
When the time came to go to the house of the boy he was beside himself with nerves and wrung his hands and tugged on his beard as he pulled up to the great house, which it seemed might be finer than his own. "How fine your house," said the Onmyoji to the boy.
The boy smiled his secretive smile, "but if you were not here," he said, "then perhaps this house would be empty and ruined, just beams open to the sky."
Although he did not understand the joke the Onmyoji laughed.
He sat down to a great feast with sake and beer and fish and meat on dishes of fine porcelain and pewter. "Such fine food," the onmyoji told the boy, "you spoil me."
"Ah," said the boy, "but if you were not here perhaps we would be dining upon mice and spiders and the slime that grows on the walls." And then he laughed and the Onmyoji laughed with him though again he did not quite get the joke.
When the time came for the Onmyoji to leave he made his intentions clear that he wished to stay the night and enjoy the boy's favours. "Ah," said the boy, "but the man I loved is dead and I would not share my love with another unless," he paused because the Onmyoji was hanging on his every word, "I knew that I alone was prime in their heart."
"But you are." The onmyoji said as the boy turned to reveal a dusky pink nipple on skin the colour of sweetened cream and the Onmyoji was nearly insane with lust.
"But once you have had my favours you would return to your fine house," said the boy.
"I would not." Protested the onmyoji.
"And you would dream of your beautiful wife and your teenage courtesan when you had left my futon," said the boy.
"I would not," protested the onmyoji.
"Then you would find me fickle and with your great magics you would send oni to torment me or turn me into a bird that you would keep in a cage."
"I would not," protested the onmyoji.
"Come back to me," said the boy, "when you would love only me, and I will give you my body, and my heart and my soul, for I promised I would seek happiness."
That night there were two great fires in the city of Kyoto, one was the fifth finest house, the house of a great and powerful Onmyoji, which destroyed his wealth and killed his beautiful wife and teenaged concubine. The second was in a small house that belonged to three witches on the outskirts of the city. Their bodies were not found there, just those of small children with their skulls smashed in.
The next day the Onmyoji appeared before the house of the boy with hair like burnished oak and eyes like twilight and drew behind him a great cart full of magic scrolls and talismans. "I have burnt down my house," he said, "that I could not return, and I have killed my beautiful wife and my teenaged courtesan that I would not dream of them when I am with you, and I have brought you all my magics that I could not send Oni to torment you, now, will you love me and only me."
"Come to me," said the boy, unbinding long oak coloured hair, "and remove your robe and your jewels and your hat so that I am all that you have." And driven on by lust and madness the onmyoji did so standing before the boy with eyes the colour of twilight naked as the day he was born.
The boy took two steps to him and reached up as if to kiss him on the eye, "he wouldn't have wanted me to kill you." The Boy said and took his revenge for the teeth of foxes are quick and sharp.
Then with a flick of his tail he was gone.
The onmyoji was found days later in the ruins of a house which had burned down many years before, he was naked and one of his eyes had been plucked out and he dined upon the meat of mice and of spiders. They said he had been driven mad by the loss of his house and his wealth but there were others that said that he had fooled around with foxes and was taught the error of his ways.
"And that," Maxwell says with a grin, "is how the story ends," he looks mischievous as he stares into his milkshake, the third he has had since they came here.
"No," says the boy angrily, "it's not, the monk and the fox were supposed to be together."
"and who says that they weren't." Maxwell answers, "there is a terrible gap between a man and a fox, and surely the Mikado of All Night's Dreaming who had taken pity on them would see them together in the dreaming."
"but the fox wanted to be happy, he couldn't be happy without the monk."
Maxwell smiles and looks at the ring on his finger, "and in some corner of the dreaming, away from the prying of men there is a man who is sometimes a monk and sometimes a fox, and a kit who is sometimes a fox and sometimes a man, and they made a pact that they would be together forever." He wipes his mouth with the napkin and throws it on the table with some money. "It is a happy ending, because without the Onmyoji the fox and the monk would never have met and he was punished for what he did."
"But," the boy protests.
"They are together," Maxwell grins, looking at his ring again, "and they thwarted the onmyoji and perhaps the fox spent an eternity to find a way to free his lost love, by having none of those endings," he is twisting the ring on his finger, "we all have all of them. They're together," he says, "somewhere. Now come on, I'll walk you around the museum, it's not everyday one gets escorted by the head of operations and the former pilot of Deathscythe."