I don't own Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle. Everything belongs to CLAMP. "Sleeping With Ghosts" is sung by Placebo.
I apologize to my somewhat abrupt postage and lack of comments for last chapter.
So welcome to the second chapter of Forbidden Fruit. As in the comments, this is for the KuroFai LJ community. And I'm very happy I joined! It's a lot of fun to do.
I'll be drawing art, too, but I post my stories here.
Last chapter, about "Forever"--what I was trying to convey was a sense of...perhaps the forbidden feeling was Fai trying to debate in his heart what he'd so long denied himself. It's about Fai discovering a piece of himself he'd hidden for so long and it seems so very tragically like Fai'--that he'd stopped himself from feeling, and so returning to it when he'd closed himself off so long was kind of a "forbidden feeling."
...And I have a feeling I didn't justify that at all. :le sweat:
This chapter I also like! It's also an entry for a contest on LJ. Please enjoy it!
By Javelin the Silent One
Fruit Second: Remember
She watched him standing at the edge of the room, naked down to the waist, sharp red eyes looking out into somewhere, something he couldn't explain, tan brow creased as though he were in some sort of backbreaking labor.
He did this almost every night, and Tomoyo wasn't quite sure why.
She suspected it had something to do with the fact that every touch, whisper and caress he gave her seemed feigned, distant; that when they kissed his lips were cold and unreceptive, barely there for but a second after they touched; and even though the two had never been intimate, she suspected that on their wedding night their consummation would be passionless, empty, as he focused his thoughts on someone else.
He blinked, the only sign of startlement he ever gave; then he turned back to the window. "Shouldn't you be asleep, Tomoyo?"
"…you sleep, too," she said, walking up and splaying her hands across his chest, dusky pink resting against startling tan. "You've been unwell, Kurogane. I'm worried about you.
He paused. He took her shoulders and pressed a kiss to her forehead, sweeping her bangs aside. It was gentle, sweet, caring….
But it was not love.
There was once a man who had a sweetheart, a mage of great power and beauty, beholden to nobody except one man.
He was a king of great power and beauty, and the mage the man loved was his right-hand man, almost a Queen, except queen would be too polite a word, something that denoted dignity, pride.
The mage was merely a prostitute, soiled, unclean, an excuse for a good lay when Taishakuten was out earning glory in war. Such was his view on himself, a pile of sinews and bones underneath layers of glistening, white, rich-appearing tallow.
His sweetheart convinced him otherwise, with sweet words and passionate promises and gentle, gentle lovemaking in secret under the moon where he'd kiss the column of the mage's throat, move slowly, so slowly, waiting and waiting until they both cried out in ecstasy.
And one night, the man asked the mage to escape with him.
Sorata knew that man wasn't happy here.
It wasn't good to ask him why; he just knew. Knew that the man that sprang from a flower all that time ago went about his work with a half-assed smile and a laugh that sounded more like some sort of sob, when he laughed at all. Knew that there was something more behind the smile, the faint whisper of a grin he once had.
"I'm done setting the table, Sorata-san."
"Ah. Thanks—say, Fai, are you ever going to take Chii up on her proposal—"
"No." Said lightly and casually, as though it took no thought at all.
"I've already said so, Sorata-san. Sure. It would be convenient. But it wouldn't be love. Now please, stop asking me. Is there anything else you want me to do?"
The man would not take no for an answer. The mage would not say yes.
The man grew desperate.
So one night, when the three were curled up in their beds, warm and asleep and safe from the cold—well, two of them anyway, one curled on his back and crying and bleeding—the man snuck in, sword in hand, and slew Taishakuten.
The mage woke when he heard the King's lover cry out and, being a dutiful servant, walked into the room and found him dead.
Standing over him was the man, sword bathed in blood. He paused and looked at the mage with long, cold eyes.
"I am a murderer," he said, "and I shall have to leave. Will you come with me?" No sweet words spoken—just the plain, cold, hard truth that the mage had cherished him for in the first place.
Souma could see just what Tomoyo had meant.
She pulled a satiny robe around her body to clothe her nakedness; the man didn't even bother, just turned away and exposed his hard, strong back. And Souma wasn't sure whether to be insulted or indifferent; after all, she was just a whore and a method of release for frustrated men who had nowhere else to rest their weary bones except inside the body of an equally tired prostitute.
But shewas also a friend of Tomoyo's family, was on a little more than good terms with her sister (though she didn't know of Souma's rather sordid profession and, really, that was all right because maybe Kendappa wouldn't want her otherwise, and Souma wants that less) and has known Kurogane for a little more than two years.
Of course, then again there's the matter of the Golden Man.
At least, that's what she calls him. Souma can hear whispers of him in Kurogane's voice when his mind is heavy with alcohol. She sees it in his eyes before he comes, his eyes looking at her but not really seeing her, but someone else, looking as though he's about to call someone else's name but changing at the last minute and whispering either hers or Tomoyo's into the sex-scented air.
Souma knows Kurogane won't be happy. Not here, not with Souma, not with Tomoyo.
"Kurogane, lighten up. You're getting married in two day's time," she huffed, tossing his shirt at his head. "Chrissake, what's you problem?"
Kurogane looks angry, always looks angry, but at the last minute softens, looks thoughtful.
"…I don't know."
And he looked so lost that Souma didn't know what else to do but lay a hand on his shoulder and kiss his mouth and guide his body back on top of hers.
So the mage took three drops of the man's blood—one for the kitchen, one for the stairs, and one finally for the foot of the bed. And they fled.
And the next morning, Ashura woke and called for his lover. And the drop of blood called "I am here, in the kitchen." But Ashura did not find him in the kitchen, so once again he called out for him. The second drop of blood responded "I am here, on the stairs." But upon his arrival, Ashura did not find his lover on the stairs. So once again he called out, and the third drop of blood answered "I am up here in the bedroom, waiting for you."
Ashura walked in, only to find the corpse of his lover, long cold.
In a rage, he flew after the fleeing man and mage, blood hot in his veins and intent to kill at the forefront of his anger-clouded mind.
Chii didn't really feel all that sad. And she wasn't sure why.
Sure, she had resented Fai as he refused her, she could even remember the looks that crossed his face—shock, then something akin to sorrow, then resentment, and then the words that tumbled from his lips.
They had barely exchanged words after that.
Chii had felt something in her heart burning, angry, almost consuming. Her adoptive mother Chitose might have called it jealousy. Chii just called it "hurting here" and placed a hand over her heart.
Somehow Chii had known she wasn't the "someone special" that Mama had always talked about for Fai. Chii had wanted him—he was beautiful, who wouldn't want him, with those light fluffy strands of cornsilk, that pale skin with a hint of light sandy tan, those sparkling blue eyes that were impossible to look into for more than a second.
Nearly two years later now, Chii was beginning to understand, and accept, and heal.
Right now she watched him from the other side of the hill, sitting with his hands behind him, whistling a jaunty tune that really wasn't a tune at all but rather trilling notes, bright and sweet like the first sip of milk fresh out of one of Papa's goats.
She walked to him.
"Whatcha doin', Fai?" I'm not mad anymore, Fai. I think I understand
"Watching your mother's sheep." You don't know how much that means to me, child.
"…can I help you?" Please forgive Chii?
"Of course, sweetheart." Always, little one.
And one night, while the mage was going out to gather firewood, the King found him.
The mage had sensed his coming, and so changed himself into a bird to fly away. But the king was clever, and thus changed himself into a bush of thorns, snagging the sensitive wings and flesh. And try as the bird might, he could not escape the thorns as he struggled, and they dug into his skin, his tired body, tighter and tighter, and the mage began to bleed.
The mage was near death when his lover found him, having grown worried about his paramour. He realized what was happening and in his fury he drew his sword and cut the thorns, slicing, making the snaring, evil thing no more than a pile of toothpicks. And with that the King was no more.
When he had sliced it down to the very core, only a rose remained, a dark dusky damask thing with a sweet heavy scent that reminded him of the apples on his mother's farm and shiny dark green leaves.
He plucked the rose and gave it to his lover, paying no attention to the prick the thorns had given him.
Kurogane should have been happy. No, was happy.
At least that's what he told himself.
Here he was, on the cusp of a fabulous marriage to a wonderful girl, with the love and support of a wonderful friend. He'd brought himself to a very well-to-do level of society due to hard work and endless tireless nights on his behalf.
Now if only he could banish these images from his head.
Images of spun sunlight, each strand near discernable from the rest, something soft and full that he grew aroused just running his hands through. Porcelain skin with a hint of dusky peach, flawless save the occasional lovebite. Eyes—what color had they been?—that glittered and glistened and laughed.
He dreamed of being entranced by those eyes, moving with that flesh, embedding his hands softly into that hair, tightening slowly as their pleasure mounted and mounted and shattered, and a voice crying out in his mind except he couldn't remember what it sounded like, only that it was the sweetest thing he'd ever heard.
And then he'd awake, either with Souma by his side or alone, with a problem or two to take care of.
He guessed a man had to get used to his guilty pleasures. One did not live on bread alone, as the saying went.
But why did they feel so real?
And then he'd remember how he'd felt when he'd seen Tomoyo the first time. So beautiful it was like he'd never ever had life until that moment, something beautiful and dazzling and pure. And he'd found a great friend—no, WIFE—in her.
And he often felt sad when he caught himself thinking about just why he loved her…and finding no reason at all.
And so the man said, "Wait here, and I'll go into the village to arrange our marriage."
And the mage agreed with joyful tears, because now he was free, free to cry and to feel. "Yes," he agreed, "and I shall wait as a red roadsign for you to remember, and then find when you come back to get me."
So the mage used magic to change himself into a roadsign, and the man went on his way down to the village with a light heart.
But what the man didn't know was that the rose he'd pricked his finger on was enchanted, the King's last curse on their beloved relationship, that Kurogane would fall in love with the first woman he saw.
And the man became so enamored with a young lady that she possessed all his thoughts, his soul, and he had nothing to remember, it seemed.
But the mage remembered, and was heartbroken. And he ran away into a meadow and changed himself into a flower. "For surely, no one cares about a little flower," he thought, "and will trample me or let the sheep eat me."
Had Fai known Kurogane's thoughts, he would have told him there HAD been a reason.
But as it was, Fai really had no reason to live anymore. And then he would think about Kurogane, and the love they'd shared—how the warrior would worship every single inch of his body, teasing him slowly, toying with him until they were both ready and reached their climaxes nearly together—and he couldn't find the strength within him to banish hope.
He'd really thought his flower disguise had been clever. But the witch had seen right through him, he thought with a chuckle as he laid out Sorata's good tunic and pulled his own shirt over his head. Saw right through it. Perhaps he shouldn't have played the "innocent house elf" trick. Good ol' Yuuko.
Unfortunately, she hadn't offered Fai a solution to his problem—simply wrote it off as "hitsuzen" this that or the other thing and gone back to coddling her two rabbits. Fai felt cheated, and he felt something inside him die.
"Fai?" Sorata stepped into the room, clean-smelling from the soap and bath Fai had drawn. "Are you almost ready?"
"Actually, yeah. That lamb you're taking to them is a really generous gift."
"What did you get?"
"Huh? But…I'm not going."
"You don't know? Everyone must go for the ceremony and everyone must bring a present for the new couple."
Fai felt the earth fall out beneath him, and there was nothing he could do but dress in his tunic and follow Sorata out, presentless and dreading to see the man he'd loved once again.
But the mage's salvation came from a kind farmer, who one day saw the blossom and thought "What a pretty flower. It reminds me much of my own sweetheart." So he plucked it and took it home.
The farmer's house shortly became the source of a miracle soon after. Everyday the farmer would wake to find his clothes neatly laid out, the floor swept, the bookcases dusted, the table set with decadent food and his tools collected and clean at the front of the door. And when he came home he'd find a roaring fire, dinner laid out and a hot bath drawn for him before he went to bed, finding the covers tucked in and pulled back.
Word soon reached the village's medicine woman, who became intrigued and went to the farmer, asking him questions which he answered with great gusto, claiming that finally perhaps someone had taken mercy on him for his hard work and wifeless status. The witch saw through it instantly. "Sit up through the night," she suggested, "and if anything moves, throw a white cloth over it.
The man did as she said and, as the witch had predicted, the flower climbed out of the vase it was in. The farmer threw a white cloth over it and the mage's charm was broken. In its place stood a beautiful man.
The farmer at first seemed horrified, but was put at ease when he told the village his story. Though the wife of the village chief had offered her daughter in marriage, the mage declined in want of staying loyal to the man he'd lost his heart to. But he remained with the farmer, cleaning and cooking for him.
This went on for two years. At that time, the man and his fiancée were to be married in the next town, a situation in which all the members of the village were to be present. The mage protested—but in the end, he had to go. He went with a heavy heart.
Kurogane was bored already. Why, he had no fucking clue.
Here he was, sitting next to the love of his—his mind stuttered at the thought for some reason—life, watching this person or that present them with a bit of money, some food, some sweetmeats (which Tomoyo adored and Kurogane despised) or a sword for the lucky husband (which Kurogane was considerably more interested in and Tomoyo insisted would NEVER come inside the house).
Wonderful, beautiful day. Great music. A beautiful bride, happy people.
Kurogane felt like there was something so very essential he was missing, something his chest wanted him to scream out. But he couldn't. Speech was frozen in his chest, rattling about, untold.
All he could do was wait for the gift-giving to be over, the ceremony performed, and the relationship consummated.
If only the thought didn't make him feel like a revolting scumbag.
"…and so I present to the happy couple this fine sword!"
Sorata watched as Fai smiled—or what could pass for a smile—at the reaction of his lover in the corner of his eye. He couldn't look at the groom directly. Couldn't speak.
Sorata's heart went out to him.
"Fai, you're next."
"A-am I? I-I—it's hot outside. I need a dri—"
Sorata's hand stopped him. The soon-to-be married couple watched; Lady Tomoyo with curiosity, Kurogane with something akin to annoyance. And Sorata was annoyed in turn. If only that bastard knew….
"I…don't have a gift."
"Give what you can."
Each step Fai took was heavier than the last as he inched his way to the podium.
Tomoyo watched with interest the man ascend the stairs.
Oh my, but was he lovely! Beautiful pale skin with a hint of summer peach, golden soft-looking hair, and oh, those EYES! Costume ideas were popping into her head even at that moment.
"Well? What's your present? Out with it," Kurogane said gruffly, angrily. The man instantly looked as though he would cry.
Tomoyo glared at her fiancée. Really, such rudeness! And to a guest!
"Please, ignore my brute husband. What is it you wish to offer?"
"…I…I present to you…a…a song."
"A song?" Kurogane's tone of voice was now very, very angry. "You come here with a stupid SONG? Get off the stage. We can't waste time with your rudeness—"
"…it…was taught t-to me…by s-s-someone I l-loved. And I-I-I hope…it…it will give you two h-h-happiness and…and—" he choked on his words. His eyes watered, his face crumpling.
"Please. Let us hear."
He was silent a moment, and Tomoyo thought that he might not sing at all.
But in a quiet voice, quavering, sad, he began to sing.
Hush, its okay, dry your eyes
dry your eyes
Soulmate dry your eyes
dry your eyes
Soulmate dry your eyes, 'cause soulmates never die
And yes, his voice was entrancing.
But even more so was the change that came over Kurogane's face.
Was this what his mind had tried to push aside…?
Kurogane hadn't heard the man start to sing, and when he did he almost reared on him and snapped to get off the stage, or else he'd have to resort to violence and—
He stopped. And stared. His lips parted, he dared not speak. Couldn't speak.
There was no halo of light around the man, no silky silvery lining or anything cliché. Kurogane would have been disappointed if there had been.
Instead there were tears running down the man's face, his eyes were puffy (how long had they been like that?), his nose was running and he had to interrupt to sniffle and wipe his nose and face. He was sobbing, his voice was choked—and, frankly, at least when he was crying and sobbing, he had the voice of a demented cat on rabies.
Kurogane STILL had never seen anything more beautiful.
His eyes cleared, widening.
He nearly lunged out of the chair and embraced the man and smothered him with kisses. But then he remembered…
He turned his head to her, ignoring the slight sweat beading at the corner of his eyes (it was hot out, after all, and it must have trickled into his eye because it really stung) to look at her. She only looked back.
"….You were never mine. And, as such, I guess I was never yours."
In her eyes, he saw she understood.
"Go, Kurogane. You have my blessing."
He was out of the seat, his feet thinking much faster than his head.
The mage was humiliated, embarrassed, his nose was running and he was sobbing and oh, dear, God, all the people—
A hand reached under his chin, lifted his head. Two sets of eyes met. The man removed a black glove from one hand, reached up to the mage's face, wiped away the trails of silver tears that mapped out his face.
Something that was not quite a smile graced his eyes. He stopped crying.
"You are my sweetheart."
He brought their faces together in not quite a kiss, not quite far away to be discounted as one. His last words were whispered against the mage's lips.
"You are the only one I have ever loved."
The mage threw his arms around the man's shoulders. He crushed their lips together, two years of pain beginning to heal as a wave of applause erupted, first from Tomoyo and rippling out into the city.
It was an end to sorrow, a joy to beginning.
The next day, the mage and the man left the village. No one knew where they'd gone. But last they heard, they were searching for a place the mage just loved and the man hated but really only pretended to hate as he smirked in good-natured teasing.
I like to think they've reached that place.