I do not own the characters involved in this story. Sorcerer/Bakuretsu Hunters are property of Satoru Akahori and involved parties. I am using the without permission, and I make no profit form these ventures.
Song written by Ben Folds and performed by Ben Folds Five. Copyright 1997 Sony/ATV Music Publishing. I stake no claim. The song can be found on the Whatever and Ever Amen album. Go buy it, it's great.
OK, juts a little about this story. I know it's pretty angsty, it doesn't seem very up-liftinf, but... Well, it's not like a little angst ever hurt anyone. (If you, uhm, disagree with that, hit me or something.) Anyway, the deal is tha this is something I've been rolling around in my head since I went to Italy this spring, and was listening to this song non-stop on the plane. I just kept seeing Gateau walking down this red dirt road, having left Marron alone after, achem, "consummating" their relationship... Well, the red dirt road became the road to the ocean, and things changed. My original drafts of this were rather terrible, but I got going on a fresh draft late one night, and I really couldn't stop writing it. I finally had to get some sleep, but right after work the nex day, I ran back and finished it. I'm rather proud of how well this turned out. It's my first songfic, and it's kinda poetic.
I have only one this to say to justify this: I don't know, maybe he flew. You'll understand when you're done reading.
Everything was different. He'd not expected it to be this way, but somewhere between falling asleep and waking, the entire world had shifted.
Looking at the body of his lover, he realized how much he had been missing. No, not missing... He realized how much he hadn't seen.
His lover's milky skin was no longer as perfect as it had been even less than a day ago. Looking at the long, slender legs, he saw stretch marks, from when his lover had finally outgrown the shortness of youth. Still young,' he corrected in his mind. The marks had not yet faded, meaning that the pale skin had been stretched across lengthening muscle not so long ago.
He was horrified by his thoughts. Trying to distract himself, he looked at the younger man's long, slender fingers. No luck. All he could see were the ragged edges on the nails, which had a healthy rim of dirt beneath them, from several weeks of neglect. It was hardly surprising. Looking at his own hand, he saw the same state of hygienic decay. It was born of a life wherein they slept on the dirt, walked from dawn until dusk, and did such things as gutting fish with nothing separating them from blood but a small bone knife.
He knew his lover was still the same. But he found he could not longer stand to look at the face, which was soft as his lover slept. Now could he even think to touch the boy's slightly grimy skin. Brushing has hand across his taut side had shown him as much. The sweat of life, work, heat, and sex had conspired with the lack of a bath to create a rather grimy, although invisible, film across the young man's skin.
He ran his tongue through his own mouth. He tasted like decay, and the last night's dinner, and something, somewhere, that was damp and sweet and that disappeared the moment he sensed it.
He stood up, careful not to jostle the sleeping boy, and shuffled into the bedroom. He felt dead. Not only was he tired, with his own layer of grime settled on his darker skin, but he had the feeling that something absolutely wrong had conspired during the night. Not only the change that had occurred while he slept, but... Something else, something darker and weirder, maybe, even, more horrific. He stopped on the middle of the rough wooden floor, and stood still, trying to discern whether this change was pushing out of pushing in. Had the world changed? Or had he?
Almost as an impulse, he turned his head to look at the form sleeping on the blankets. Perhaps he thought his lover would hold the answer. But, no. Instead, looking at his lover only increased the sense that he had done something very terrible. Bile rose in his throat, bitter and hot, and he staggered into the bathroom to spit it out into the sink.
He stood on the wooden floor for several minutes, staring at himself in the brass mirror, thinking, with a good amount of horror and disgust, that he did not look different in the least.
The world then... The world had changed, and he had not, in fact, metamorphosed during the dark hours...
What I've kept with me
And what I've thrown away
And where the hell I've ended up
On this glarey random day
Were the things I've really cared about
Just left along the way
For being too pent up and proud
After a quick shower, he had dressed and stole back into the cabin's main room. He picked up the discarded white robe from the wooden planks and searched for the small pocket that he knew was sewn somewhere inside. He marveled, with morbid interest, how the inside collar of the garment had become brownish with sweat and residual dirt. He finally found what he was searching for, a rectangular pocket with a stash of thing white papers. He withdrew one of the decorated wards and slid it into his own pocket.
Then, dropping the piece of clothing, he turned and walked quietly from the cabin into the surrounding wood. He trudged, like the living corpse he seemed to be, through the dark, clean-smelling forest. He walked past tall, old trees, saplings dying from lack of sunlight beneath the older growth, not noticing any of it. He walked down the moss-lined trail, not noticing the small wildflowers that grew in the encroaching underbrush. He simply kept his eyes ahead of him, and told himself not to look back. The truth was, although he wouldn't admit it to himself, that he was afraid that if he looked back, he wouldn't be able to stop himself form returning to that cabin, and returning to his dark-haired lover. No, he kept his eyes forward, reminding himself that his lover's hair had been greasy, and his back slightly pockmarked from childhood sickness.
An hour's walk found him out of the forest and in more windswept, heightless land. He was the tallest thing he could see, except for the forest, which was now a good ways behind him. He stood out starkly against the thinning, dried out fields.
These lands,' he said to himself, were good once. Parsonners farmed here, lived here. Now it's dry.' He wondered at how different it was from the forest, and wondered in the back of his mind whose bright magic protected that beautiful forest from the world that locked at its edges.
He stopped. At the cry of a hawk circling somewhere above its prey deep in the forest, he stopped walked. He became aware that his hand was lodged in his pocket, stroking the smooth paper of the ward he'd stolen.
Suddenly angry with himself, he drew it out of his pocket and held it up to the slight wind. A heavier breeze came by, and he allowed the wind to steal the ward from him, and carry it backwards, towards the forest, like a white-and-black leaf.
Before he began to walk once more, he wondered whether he had done the right thing. He had nothing anymore. Nothing to remind him of anything, nothing to tell him where he was going, nothing to remind him to breathe.
The noon sun beat down harshly on his back, as he stopped in the middle of the dirt road. Putting a hand to his eyes, he scanned the ever-thinning landscape. He was headed towards the sea. At least, that's what he thought. The dirt had become less red, and more the yellow colour of his hair. The brush had thinned and become for scraggly. The wildlife had not decreased, only changed. Small, brown birds flitted around between the bushes, and cicadas hummed everywhere.
His arms stung form the sun, and he just gave up. He stat down in the smooth, pliant dirt and just rested his head in his hands. He felt so dead.
He gave up. He wasn't, he realized, headed towards the sea. He wasn't headed anywhere. He was just... He was just going.
Woke up way too late
Feeling hung over and old
And the sun was shining bright
And I walked barefoot down the road
Started thinking about my old man
Want to get into a car and go anywhere
He was stupid. Stupid for being afraid, and stupid for being ugly on the inside. His lover was not ugly. He was beautiful. He was radiant. He was, despite the pock marks and scars and grease, perfect.
Yet he'd let himself slip away in the early morning, feeling as though a thousand years had passed as he slept. He'd been wrong, so wrong.
But he'd gone, and there was no going back. He could return now. It was hopeless even to wish it could be possible. There was simply no turning back from the fact that he had broken the most important thing in his life.
So, he kept walking. He couldn't go back. He didn't know where he was going, but kept walking. Maybe he would reach the sea, and walk into the cool, lapping waves. Maybe he would walk into the water, and it would put out the flame his lover had planted deep within his heart.
But no, he realized it would not happen that way. If he walked into the ocean, he could not turn back after the fire was extinguished. He could never, it seemed, turn back. He imagined himself drowning, using the last of his life to think that he did not want to die.
Shivering despite the stifflingly hot weather, he kept walking.
He wished that there could be a way to put the sun back on the horizon and relive the morning. He wished that he had been wise enough to waken his lover. He knew that if he had allowed himself to look into his lover's molten eyes just once, his fears would have been quelled and he could have sunk back onto the blanketed floor with his lover and never looked back. It would have been the sort of eyes-forward living that he could love.
This, however, this desperate aversion of the past was not something he could love. He hated himself. He could only think how many other, both men and women, had repeated this very same mistake.
Drifting was in his blood, he feared. He knew it was. Somewhere in his heart, he desired an absolute freedom wherein nothing held him down and nothing reminded him he was human. But if that freedom and immortality required this hideous hiding, he didn't think he could do it. He didn't think that he could run from things forever, no matter what. They had always said between them that the evil ones never escaped goodness. He wonder if it were possible to drain himself of his blood, to evaporate all his fears and all his ingrained misery.
He wasn't going anywhere. He was dead, and his soul was floating in between everything else that existed, floating inexorably further and further away from love, as ghosts are wont to do.
Here I stand, sad and free
I can't cry, I can't see
What I've done
God, what have I done
Once again, he stopped, and watched the sky, wondering if he could ever save himself, and reverse his actions. He knew it was hopeless to even think it.
He feared the sea, with its changeless blue that was the colour of his eyes. He longed, instead, for the air, which kindled fire and would carry him back towards the deep forest. He longed to kiss between his lover's pale, strong shoulder blades and run his hands down the backs of his long, sinuous arms.
His mother, in her most bitter hours, had theorized that there was no drifter blood in him. Instead, he recalled, she had said that his father had been some shape-shifting demon, terrible in his heart, but beautiful of face. He could believe it.
It was fitting, in light of all that had recently conspired. A demon, a drifting soul of one of the damned. Perhaps it had been he that had changed, and not the world at all.
Don't you know I'm numb, man?
I can't feel a thing at all
Now it's all smiles and business these days
I'm indifferent to the loss
I have faith that there's a soul somewhere
That's leading me around
I wonder if she knows
Which way is up and which is down
If he were, in fact, part-demon, it would explain the death he felt touching every inch of his skin and invading his heart with each passing step.
He felt dead, and alone, and cold despite the heat, as though he were at the bottom of the sea. There were only two sensations has was aware of any longer. One was the coldness washing over him, making him feel as though he were being turned around and around underneath a forward-moving wave. The other was the gripping undertow, threatening to draw him back out to sea, deeper and deeper. He could no longer decide which was which, and where he really wanted to go.
He kept walking, knowing that if he stopped, he would be pulled cleanly apart. One half of him would sink into the sea, the other would float up, towards the sun. He knew he'd left for a reason, that there had been some rationale behind his early-morning departure, but he could no longer remember what it was. He just had to trust that there was a force directing him, be it hi blood, or his fate. He wasn't sure, however, despite his strange amnesia, that he could trust anything.
He tried to tell himself that he desired the coldness about him, and that he could accept the numbness. But, looking up at the bright, hot sun and the expansive heavens, he knew he wanted nothing more than to melt.
Recalling the night before as he shuffled along beneath the bright road, he struggled not to cry. He had wept over his lover's shaking chest that night, gasping exultantly for breath through the shine of release. He had not been mistaken, either, when he thought that he saw matching tears in his lover's golden eyes. The long moments they had spent together had been smooth and gentle, yet steel-reinforced by something stronger than either of them could really touch with understanding. That time had been, he thought, his last waking moments before this terrible shift.
Everything around him looked the same. There was no difference in this world. The difference, he realized, was only in how he saw it. It stared at it, not appreciating anything he saw, not hearing the song of the small birds, not tasting the touch of the wind at his face.
Rising in the distance, he could see the swells of the sand dunes, and he became aware that the land he was walking over had before almost totally flat.
Somehow, he just gave up. He let himself break and be carried, as driftwood, towards wherever he was being taken. There was nothing he could do to stop this. He was, despite everything, only human, a weak man encased in a shell of muscle and skin.
I poured my heart out
I poured my heart out
It evaporated ... see?
The sweat rolled down his face, the sign of his exertion, disappearing into the heat even before it reached the collar of his shirt. The sun was past it fiery zenith, and the sky would soon begin to glow with the bright lights of impending night.
He scented the air as he walked, smelling the ocean's clean scent and tasting, a little, the salt of the sea. He watched white ocean birds wheeling high in the air, small specs against the sun and sky. He admired their freedom, but could not stop to let their message sink in. Be free,' they seemed to tell him in their raucous screams. Break free of the things that bind you! Return to all that you love!'
As he walked, he had the strange fantasy that he would reach the beach, and there would be nothing there. All the water, he imagined, had evaporated and lifted into the clouds. There would be nothing beyond the tall sand dunes but crystallized salt and dead aquatic life.
But as he began to mount the lowest dunes, he realized that this dream were an impossible one. He could hear the surf crashing onto the land, and hear the water receding.
What sort of mistake had be made, coming to this place?
Blind man at a canyon's edge
Of a panoramic scene
Or maybe I'm a kite that's flying high and random
Dangling a string
Or slumped over in a vacant room
Head on a stranger's knee
I'm sure back home they think I've lost my mind
At the top of the last dune, he stood, looking at the pale, loose sand and the sparkling teal blue water. The beach was perfectly empty as the sky began to take on the colours of a brilliant sunset. Yet he could appreciate none of it, as he had been unable to appreciate all the scenery thus far in his journey.
Thoughts of a life without his lover filled his mind. He feared, more than any other fears the day had fed him, how empty each day alone would be. He could not imagine finding someone so pure and tactile as his lover. He could not imagine loving another. He could, however, imagine the extreme loneliness of waking up beside someone he did not love, nor even knew. He had done it times before, while he had still been pursuing his love, only to be turned down time and again. He'd sought to drown out everything. In fact, wasn't that what he was doing now, standing before the ocean? But as he stood there, he thought that all he wanted was for all the water to evaporate and allow him to return to the one he loved.
The flickering motions of a white piece of paper caught his attention. The slip or parchment was moving towards him, floating through the air on a breath of wind. He watched for a long time as it slowly neared him atop the dune. As the slip passed him by, he reached out and grabbed it.
In a neat, romantic script in plain, black ink, were very simple characters. he stared at them for some time, appreciating how very much like a dance each one of the strokes were. Only after staring at it for some time did the characters' meaning set it.
I love you', he read.
He looked up. Standing on the beach, mere feet away from the ocean's nearest fingers, stood the tall, pale form of his white-clad lover. He could recognize that spill of straight, black hair anywhere. His lover's back was to the dunes, and he had the posture of one who was observing something.
He felt a deep sigh escape his lips, as he understood that nothing could stop the breaking of those waves, and nothing could stop him from being pulled towards the man standing by the surf.
Here I stand, sad and free
I can't cry, I can't see
What I've done
God, what have I done
He silently approached his lover silently. When he reached the surf, he wrapped him arms gently around his lover's waist. The thin youth leaned his head back to rest on the taller man's strong shoulder.
I'm sorry, he whispered, stroking that soft, black hair.
Don't be, his lover replied.
But I -
Nothing can keep us apart, my love, said the slender man. You are as free as you will ever be, when you are bound to me.
He let out another sigh, and rested his chin against the top of his lover's dark head, and watched the swirling tendrils of the surf slowly back further and further down the sand.