This is my first Flame of Recca fanfic. I've written a lot of Gundam Wing and DBZ fics, with a couple of Yu Yu Hakusho fics as well, but I've never been brave enough to write a FoR fic before now. It may suck and it may seem stupid, but please go easy on me. This fic does in imply some Recca/Fuuko ideas, but that doesn't mean that I actually prefer that pairing over Fuuko/Raiha or Fuuko/Mikagami (I like both of those). While I'm not a fan of Yanagi, I do like the Recca/Yanagi pairing. This is just a little idea that hit me suddenly and I thought I'd try it. Enjoy.
I was the first to discover the body, probably because it was laying neatly on my doorstep, as if someone had carried her to that spot and posed her just perfectly. Her body was still slightly warm and there were no marks to be found, not even a tiny scratch. She looked so beautiful that day, laying in deadly silence in front of me. I remember noticing that before even noticing that she was dead.
The feeling that struck me when I realized Fuuko was dead was a painful, vampiric sensation that felt as if it were swallowing me whole. Fuuko was my friend, my rival, and my enemy all rolled into one. She was beautiful and ugly at the same time. Tougher than any man I know yet still the ideal image of a sexy woman. She was powerful, passionate, and possessed a rageful strength that none of us dared provoke. She was our wind goddess. So when I saw our goddess dead, I was stunned. All I could do was stand there in the doorway, staring down at her lifeless form.
It would be long minutes later that I would call the rest of them, to let them know that one among us was dead. The reactions were all different. I called Domon first, as I thought he would be the one to be most affected. Denial made up the biggest part of his reaction, as he screamed (using every curse he could think of) that Fuuko wasn't dead. That I was lying or playing a prank. "She's too strong!" he yelled, his rough voice breaking, "She'll never die!". But after ten minutes of my silence, he finally accepted it and sobbed loudly as he slammed the phone down.
Next was Hime, who immediately broke into tears and soft murmurs of sorrow. It hurt me to listen to her pain so I told her I had to go, so I could call the rest of them. She mumbled a broken "Hai." before hanging up.
Mikagami's reaction was just what I expected. "Are you sure?" he asked, his voice perfectly intact. I told him I was. "I see." he said before the connection went dead. For once, his coldness didn't really bother me.
Koganei may have been crying, but I couldn't really tell over the phone. His voice was shaking as he asked how it had happened. I didn't have an answer for him so the conversation was short. Ka-chan was next to be notified and her reaction was not unlike a stronger version of Hime's.
They all knew now. And word would soon get out. I'm sure Kurei will hear, as well as Kurei's people. Raiha will probably be upset, not that he's much of my concern. I was most worried about Domon. He had loved Fuuko as more than a friend. His love for her went deeper than mine, it went deeper than Hime's. It perhaps went even deeper than Raiha's. So my mind began racing. What should I do when I see him? Should I hug him? Tell him I'm sorry for what happened? Tell him I know Fuuko loved him too, in her own way? Give him the old shirt she left at my house when she was thirteen and never bothered to retrieve? He was one of my very best friends, yet I had no idea what to do.
Two days passed and after an examination by the coroner, the cause of death was still unknown. We were all too hurt and confused to begin looking for the answers we would someday ache for. We just wanted everything to be over with. We didn't want to bother with the so-called "grieving process". What is the "grieving process" anyway? How can you out-line a person's pain? A person's emotions? We didn't know and we didn't care. The five of us, Domon, Hime, Mikagami, Koganei, and I, would hang around at my house after school. We would sit in my bedroom, looking at the floor instead of each other, usually not uttering a word. We were the only ones who completely understood. Us and Ka-chan. No one else, including Fuuko's mom and even Ganko, could understand what we felt. They didn't know Fuuko like we did. They didn't see her fight in the tournament or against Mori Kouran with the spirit of the mightiest warrior. They didn't see her have mercy on enemies she could've easily murdered, ones that had only moments before tried to murder her. The just didn't know her.
The first night of the funeral was probably the hardest. Fuuko was laying in the coffin, looking as beautiful and cheerful as she had while she was alive. Hime took one look at the pale pink, frilly dress on Fuuko's body and made a small gasping sound. She looked to me nervously and grasped my arm. "Recca-kun.... that dress." was all she could get out.
That's when the memory came back. I'll never forget the day before we entered the tournament. We had all gathered at my house for what we thought could be the final time. Hime was holding a tablet and pen, going around to all of them and asking them questions. I forgot which one of us came up with the idea. It was probably me or Fuuko herself. We decided to make our decisions about death then, because we knew all of us had a chance of dying in the tournament, of being robbed of the chance to make these decisions later on.
I remember joking that day, laughing and pretending that we were having a good time. We tried to act like it was nothing more than a prank we were pulling on ourselves. Domon, Hime, Fuuko, and I all laughed and poked fun at each other. Mikagami acted serious as usual, and even commented that it was a stupid idea. Ka-chan stood in the background, watching us with an uneasy smile.
"Domon-san," Hime chirped, squatting down beside him on the floor. "Do you want to be buried or cremated?"
"Buried." he answered enthusiastically.
"Any particular place?"
"Right beside Fuuko!"
Fuuko rolled her eyes playfully, but I knew she was a bit flattered by the joke.
Hime smiled. "Now, now, this is serious."
"I don't care. Just put me anywhere."
"Open or closed casket?"
"Anything you want to be buried with?"
Domon was quiet for a moment before he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. He dug through it to find a small photo. He showed it to Hime. "I want this to be put in my pocket." Hime smiled and jotted something down in the tablet.
"Anything you want to be buried in?"
"Just casual clothes, I guess." he said, folding his wallet and returning it to it's place.
"All right. It's all down. Just sign it." she said, handing him the tablet. He complied and reached it back to her. She walked over to me and smiled. "Recca-kun, do you want to be buried or cremated?"
"Cremated." I said flatly.
Fuuko had just took a drink of her soda, which she suddenly spewed out. "Cremated?!"
Mikagami finally spoke up. "Flame masters can't be burned, can they?" he asked, looking to Ka-chan.
"They're not easily burned." she said gently, clearly not very happy with the thought.
I grinned, my signal that I was joking. "Just bury me. No particular place either, as long as it's somewhere near Hime."
Hime blushed and moved on. "Open or closed casket?"
"Closed. If I die, you can bet it'll be messy. I don't really want you guys looking at my mutilated face."
Hime started to frown, but instead went to the next question. "Do you want to be buried with anything?"
"I don't know. Some of my dad's fireworks I guess. A picture of you, a picture of the group. Maybe some of my ninja stuff."
"What do you want to be buried in?"
"My ninja outfit!" I yelled happily.
The rest of them just rolled their eyes but Hime smiled and wrote it down. She reached it to me and told me to sign. I wrote my name as neatly as possible and passed the tablet back to her.
She suddenly grinned and jotted down her own answers to the questions before moving on to Mikagami. If it had been anyone but her asking the questions, he never would've answered them. But it was her, and he couldn't be cold to her.
"Mikagami-sempai, buried or cremated?"
"Cremated." he said with finality, his voice warning us not to question his decision.
Hime wrote it down and looked back up at him. "What do you want done with your ashes?"
He thought for a moment before answering. "I want them scattered over my sister's grave." he said, taking the pen and writing down directions to it. Then he looked at Hime intensely. "I also want Ensui to be given to you. I want you to keep it until you find someone who is worthy of it."
Hime nodded with a smile and jotted the information down. After signing it, he returned it to her. Finally, she went to Fuuko. "Fuuko-san, buried or cremated?"
"Where would you like to be buried?"
"Somewhere peaceful and windy. Maybe under a cherry tree." Fuuko answered thoughtfully.
"Open or closed casket?"
"Unless my face is messed up, open."
"Would you like to be buried with anything?"
Fuuko looked down at the elemental weapon on her arm. "I'd like to be buried with my Fuujin, but I know it'd be selfish to keep others from using it's power." she said, eyes drifting back to Hime. "Just stick a picture of the group in there with me." she finally said.
"And would you like to be buried in anything particularly?"
"I don't mind that, as long as it's not a frilly dress. Those are so annoying. Just jeans and a T-shirt would be fine with me, but if mom insists, a casual dress is ok. Just please don't let me be buried in something super frilly and lacy." she said with a slight groan.
Hime finished writing and reached it to Fuuko. Fuuko signed it and handed it back, looking slightly annoyed with the idea for the first time. "Well, we've made our wills. I guess our final wishes are safe, ne?"
The rest of us just looked nervously at each other then began to laugh as Hime tucked the tablet between my mattress and box-springs. "There. Now we'll all know where to find it if something happens." We all nodded and changed the subject.
But now that Fuuko was dead, that day somehow seemed so much more significant. It was no longer a joke, no longer an irrational precaution that we would someday look back on and laugh at. And as Hime and I stared at that horrid dress, I felt the flames burning in my soul.
"What's this shit?!" I screamed, louder than I had intended. The other people in the funeral home looked up at me with shocked expressions. I gestured toward Fuuko's body. "Fuuko would never want to be buried in something like that! You damn well know that!" I yelled, pointing at her mother.
Hime tugged at my arm. "Recca-kun, calm down. They're grieving!" she whispered.
For the first time, I shrugged her off. I'd never been rude to Hime. I'd never said an unkind word to her. But this was different. It was so very different. I don't even remember exactly what was going on in my head when I reached into the coffin and pulled out Fuuko's body. I ignored the gasps and screams from the rest of the people. I didn't care about them. Like I said, they didn't know Fuuko. Domon, Koganei, Mikagami, and even Hime understood what I was doing. They were all that mattered, and they didn't lift a finger to stop me, because they knew it was right. I pulled the dress off her body, sighing in relief at the modest slip beneath. I then carefully placed the body back where it was and wadded the dress up. I tossed it to her mother. "I'm sorry, but you know Fuuko wouldn't want this. Bring something else."
With that, I walked out of the funeral home, and the others followed me. The five of us went back to my house, where we sat for the rest of the night. Hime leaned her head on my shoulder, already forgiving my earlier behavior. She knew how I felt. The others just stood solemnly around the house. My dad didn't mind the company. He never really did. He had an idea of what we felt, even though he didn't really understand, so he stayed out of our way and pretended to be busy with the fireworks.
The next night was different. Fuuko's body wore a plainer dress, one that would be more to her preference and I was glad that I'd protected her wishes, as we all promised we would do. Domon refused to go up to the casket and look at her body. He sat in the back of the funeral home, arms crossed over his chest and eyes down-cast. Koganei stayed in the parlor, snacking on egg-salad sandwiches and trying to cheer up Ganko, ignoring his own pain.
Mikagami lingered near the coffin, looking at Fuuko indifferently, but he would wear that same expression even if it were Hime laying there, and we all know how he felt about Hime. Mikagami's eyes told a different story though, as did his non-moving state from the coffin's side. None of us know exactly how he felt about Fuuko. We only remember all the times we laughed as she beat up on him and called him "Mi-chan", none of us bold enough to tease him about his tolerance for it. If it were anyone else doing those things, it's possible that he would've killed us. But for some strange reason, Mikagami never said a word against Fuuko's behavior. Whether it was out of fear or something else entirely, we'll never really know.
What surprised most of us was Raiha's appearance at the funeral. Clad in a black suit and carrying a single red rose, he walked straight up to the coffin and placed the rose in Fuuko's hands. His lips moved as he whispered something inaudible, and I could swear that I saw water in his dark eyes as he turned and walked away from the coffin. "I'm sorry for your loss." he said meekly as he passed me by. When he walked past Domon, he stopped and looked at him strangely. I expected Domon to jump up and attack, because even he knew about Raiha's flirting with Fuuko. Domon's nerves were undoubtedly on edge, and a violent rage against the one who may or may not have kept him from a romance with Fuuko would not have surprised us. Instead, Domon looked up at him peacefully and simply nodded. Raiha smiled weakly and nodded back, then left the funeral home for the last time. I suppose those who felt nearly the same for her could come to their own private understanding.
All of us had agreed that we wouldn't come to the burial. It would simply be too much for us to handle. We couldn't watch the invincible Fuuko being thrown into the ground and covered with dirt. It just seemed so wrong. So we told her mother of Fuuko's wish to be buried under a cherry tree where the wind was strong, a request to which she nodded sadly. Since this would be the last night we would see Fuuko, we decided to make our good-byes. Mikagami had been at the coffin for so long that his goodbye had probably been made hours ago. He stepped away to allow the rest of us our turn.
Koganei simply looked at the body sadly for a few moments before darting back off to the parlor. Hime walked up and pulled a medium-sized photo from her purse. She slid it under the closed half of the coffin and clasped her hands together. She said a silent prayer before clapping twice. In the back of my mind, I remember thinking that she looked like a shrine maiden. Domon still refused to go up, and none of us attempted to convince him otherwise. We all had our different ways of dealing with it.
When my turn came, I slowly walked up to the casket and stared at her soft face. She still looked alive and vibrant, only now she was polished, like a porcelain doll. Suddenly a memory from our childhood came bursting into my mind. It was a golden fall day and we had been fighting in the playground again. Only this time it had ended in laughs instead of tears and blood. We were both twelve, and we both thought we had many years ahead of us. We were sitting on the swings, talking about this and that. It was rare that we got along enough to have a decent conversation, so I cherished these moments. Suddenly, out of the blue she asked me a question. "Recca.... will you kiss me?"
I remember my initial shock, and then the laughter that escaped my mouth. "Kiss you? Why?" I asked, honestly not sure why she would want me to.
"I don't know!" she said hatefully, her cheeks getting a bit red, "It's just that all the other girls are talking about being kissed and no one's ever kissed me!"
"Since when do you care about all the other girls?"
She turned even redder at that remark and stood up. "You'll never understand girls, Recca! You're so stupid!"
I remember watching her back as she ran off toward her home, and regretting my response to her question. It wasn't until this day, as I stood over her dead body, that I really understood why she had asked. Fuuko didn't care about the other girls at school. She didn't care when they had new dresses and high-heeled shoes. She was just Fuuko. But that was her excuse. She had liked me, and wanted me to kiss her just because it was me. There was no other reason. Over time, I suppose she stopped liking me, because she had done nothing but support the relationship between Hime and I. I could tell by her eyes that she sincerely wanted things to work out for us. Whatever she felt for me then had faded with time, and I found myself glad that she was able to move on and be happy without me.
But... I still felt regret over that day, over my rejection of her one request. I looked at her pale lips. Had they gone untouched all these years? Were they still untouched by another's lips? That thought frightened me. I felt like I had let her down, and that action had doomed her. So I did what I thought was right, the only thing that could possibly begin to make up for what I had denied her. I bent down and touched my lips to hers. It was nothing passionate or deep, just my lips against hers for endless minutes. When I raised back up, I looked to Hime, who just smiled knowingly. She knew me better than I thought.
After that, the five of us walked out together and to my house, where would meet time after time and openly discuss the events surrounding her death. It was the place that we would ultimately decide that there was no explanation, that Fuuko had just died and that was it. And together, we moved on, just like Fuuko had done when I had rejected her feelings. We had closure, and that was enough for us. Fuuko was still our friend, she was still our goddess.