Pheonix Ashes

A Fushigi Yuugi universe deathfic written by otaku-no-miko

Length-no longer than maybe 20 chapters, I hope.

Pairings- None so far... ;)

Rating- PG-13, overall; G for this chapter.

Disclaimer: Still don't own Fushigi Yuugi; all rights, creative and otherwise, belong to Yuu Watase and her companies.


((Updated December 2013))
More fixing of formatting, as well as any minor quibbles with characterization/continuity. Original notes below!

Wow, two chapters in a month? Is it even possible? Crazy, I know, but it's actually happened - Kristen is getting her butt down to work on her fanfic! ((Actually, I wanna get as much done for you guys before I go away to boot camp...))

This chapter was a little weird to work with, because I did cut out meeting Chiriko (you'll meet him later, he's a delightful little guy) and have them go straight to meeting Chosei. But no worries, it worked out well, although it's a little shorter than the other chapters. It's very character-intensive and not very big on action, I'm afraid - I can't have a bandit attack every chapter after all, that'd get boring after a while. Next chapter will start getting more action again, though!

As always, there's more at the bottom, so see ya there!


::Chokou::

Chichiri had been unrolling his blankets when Yui had started to talk; when she mentioned the symbol in the globe, though, he froze, a strange mixture of apprehension and happiness fluttering in his heart.

Chariot...that's Mitsukake-kun! Does that mean that young boy...?

Yui was waiting silently behind him - she knew her own seishi and their symbols well, but very little about the Suzaku seven beyond names. When Chichiri didn't make a move after a minute or so, she cleared her throat, and the mage jumped a little before responding, shaking his head as if to rid it of something.

"Chariot was Mitsukake's symbol no da. He must be in this village somewhere."

Now they were getting somewhere! Yui closed her eyes, thinking back to Miaka's descriptions of her seishi. Mitsukake...Miaka had said he was very tall and very quiet - the kind of guy that stood out in a crowd without meaning to. She'd said he was kind and selfless, and his power was the amazing ability to heal anybody to near-perfect health.

"Mitsukake? The healer? He'd be useful to have around. So what do we do now? Just go around the village asking if people have weird tattoos anywhere on them?"

Chichiri broke out of his internal reverie, amused at the idea; it sounded like something Miaka would have suggested.

"We certainly could do that, I suppose, but you forget that I have seishi powers myself."

"Right." Yui said, feeling a little dumb. She had forgotten about his seishi powers, actually; she'd gotten a little over-excited at finding a second seishi so quickly. "Well, then, where is he? Or she, I suppose..."

"He no da." Chichiri corrected automatically, closing his mind and concentrating on the thin line that had always connected him to his seishi brethren. Finding seishi was much easier than finding regular people - he already had a link of some sort to them - but it still wasn't easy work. One had to wade through the other ki signatures of other minds and concentrate hard on one, solitary point of light that often was hard to see...

There! Mitsukake was very close by - his ki burned hot and bright in Chichiri's mind, and he focused a little harder, forcing the details surrounding the sixth seishi to come into view. A small, hard pallet, in a room that was fairly nondescript...the scent of stale air and old musty blankets...a long, tall mirror that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, through which Chichiri could 'see' a boy of twelve or thirteen. He concentrated a little harder, and could almost make out a face -

"Chichiri?"

Yui shook him, and Chichiri jolted back, blinking a couple times. Yui's face was much closer now, and she looked pale and worried.

"I kept trying to get your attention, and you didn't respond. What were you doing?"

He had to take a couple seconds to calm himself down - he'd almost seen the person they were looking for! - before speaking.

"I was following Mitsukake-kun's ki signature, no da. He's very close by - possibly even in this building or the next. He's in a room with a large mirror."

Yui looked thoughtful. "Well, this is an inn, so most of the nicer rooms have mirrors...but I'm sure that if we went to the innkeeper she could tell us who's in those rooms."

Dusting off her hands, as if to finalize things, Yui stood and headed towards the door, stopping to look back when Chichiri didn't follow her immediately. "Well?"


"A seishi? In my inn?" The innkeeper, a slight young woman with a clear, plain face and bright blue eyes, looked amused. "Why, that would be quite the honor, but I'm afraid not. Other than yourself, Chichiri-sama, there aren't any seishi that I know of around this area -"

"Mother, what are you saying?!"

Chosei, the boy they'd met earlier, had long neglected his work and now spun to face them, astonished. "You know that's not true! I -"

"Chosei, that's quite enough out of you." She responded sharply, a little harsher than she probably needed to be. "You're incredibly out-of-line, speaking to your own mother that way."

Chastised, the boy turned back to his work.

"...father would have told the truth."

He said it quietly, but his voice carried, and Yui and Chichiri watched the innkeeper's face go from anger to despair to anger again. What was going on here?

"I'm sorry; my son is still grieving for his father." She said off-handedly, as if that could explain their strange exchange. "We both have had it rough ever since - well, I'll not bore you with my life's story. I wish I knew where this seishi you're sensing was; you may have better luck speaking with the local doctor. He knows everyone in this village quite well."

Yui opened her mouth to disagree - it was so obvious the innkeeper was lying through her teeth, or at least not telling the full truth! - but Chichiri nudged her, shaking his head ever-so-slightly. It's not worth it, he seemed to be saying.

"Thank you for your help, Myano-san. We'll go ask him right away."

With one last look at the young boy behind the innkeep (who was studiously ignoring them), Chichiri and Yui left.


::Tokyo::

"What?!"

Tetsuya's cry was incredibly loud for 5am, and his companions shushed him violently. He calmed a little, but still looked confused.

"Why didn't they ask about that boy, Chosei? He's gotta be Mitsukake!"

Both Taka and Keisuke stopped for a second to think about it, but it was Miaka who answered the question immediately.

"Didn't you hear how upset his mother was? She already lost her husband, and her son is a seishi - that means one day he'll leave her too, and go off and do dangerous things that could lead to his death as well. And now some strangers come up asking about seishi in the area? She probably panicked. They'll need to get confirmation from the village doctor that Chosei is the seishi so they can confront her and try to resolve the issue."

Tetsuya blinked, thinking about Miaka's words. They were logical, concise...and completely out of character for the normally-flighty young woman. Where did Miaka come up with that?

Almost as if she knew what he was thinking, she smiled sheepishly.

"I know that's how I'd react, at least. Anyway, is it my turn to read, or is it Keisuke's?"


::Chokou::

Yui, in the book, had almost the exact same reaction as Tetsuya. As soon as they were out of the innkeeper's hearing range, she rounded on Chichiri.

"That woman was lying to us. Or hiding something. And her son knows something - heck, her son might even be Mitsukake, that would explain your weird feeling earlier!"

Chichiri nodded his agreement, but continued walking towards the doctor's home. Yui ran a couple steps to catch up.

"Why are we still going to the doctor, then?"

Chichiri shrugged. "The innkeep suggested we visit him na no da. It may not be a bad idea."

Yui frowned. That made no sense. They knew who the seishi was, and where he was - logic dictated that they needed to go to the seishi, not away from him! For all they knew, Chosei's mother was already whisking Chosei away to some far-off place where they wouldn't be able to find him.

Seeing Yui's confusion, Chichiri continued. "Myano-san doesn't want to tell us all she knows right now. We need to regroup and find out why no da. Once we know a little more about why she was upset, we can figure out a way to have Chosei come with us."

They'd reached the home by this point, and Yui rapped softly on the door. A teenaged girl opened it, poking her head out.

"I'm really sorry, but otou-san just closed up the clinic a few minutes ago."

"That's okay, we're not sick." Yui assured the girl. "We just want to talk to your otou-san for a few minutes, if that's okay."

"Oh!" The girl looked surprised. "Um, okay, that's no problem. Would you like to come in while I get him?"


"Mother, you're being unreasonable!"

Myano Ai crossed her arms over her chest defensively. "I didn't raise you to talk that way to your elders, Chosei, especially not to me."

Chosei looked sullen and uncompromising, blue eyes flashing. "I'm not being disrespectful, I'm being honest. They wanted to know where the seishi was, and you lied to them! You taught me that lies and deceit are wrong, mother. How is what you just did not wrong?"

"They want to take you away from me! They're strangers - "

"One of them is Suzaku no Chichiri, mother! He's no stranger, he's one of the greatest living heroes in Konan!"

" - and I don't care how many Kutounese he killed in the war, he's still a stranger and for all we know he wants to hurt you! I forbid you to talk to them."

"Mother!" Chosei was too shocked to put any sort of venom into the word. "You...but you can't..."

"Oh yes I can. Until you can support yourself and maintain your own household, you live in my house by my rules and that's final. If I hear that you've decided to go against my wishes, I'll talk with Shouka's parents about the two of you spending so much time together. It's really not proper; she's of marrying age now, and can't afford to have her reputation sullied."

The shock Chosei had been feeling quickly turned to anger, and he had to bite back some words he would really regret. His mother knew that he and Shouka were incredibly close, and...well, he was planning on asking to court her soon. He didn't want to hurt Shouka's reputation, especially since he knew that if Shouka's father thought that Chosei were hurting Shouka's chances of marrying well he'd prevent them from ever seeing each other again - he really didn't like Chosei at all. But at the same time, he abhorred lying; it was wrong to lie, and he wanted to make sure those two strangers knew the truth.

This was so confusing.


"So as far as you know, there is no seishi here in Chokou?"

The doctor nodded his assent. "I've been the village physician for fifteen years, now. I know most all of it's inhabitants well, and I've never seen any sort of glowing symbol on any of them."

Chichiri looked thoughtful. "The seishi symbols don't always glow, no da; they usually look like a scar or a tattoo. Are you sure none of the children of this village have a strangely-shaped scar? Perhaps in the form of the word 'chariot'?"

"Chosei does." The doctor's daughter piped up immediately. "On his left palm - I always wondered how it got there. It's really light, so it's hard to see."

Her father gave her a stern look. "I'm sure that he cut himself doing some work around his mother's inn, Shouka. You, young lady, know better than to cut in on an adult's conversation."

Shouka ducked her head and apologized, not sounding sorry in the least. At her father's glance, she bid the group goodnight, heading up towards her bedroom as he sighed heavily.

"My daughter is close friends with that young man. She's rather flighty and imaginative at times, I'm afraid; please, don't mind her remarks."

"We weren't offended, sir; she's nearly an adult herself, after all." Chichiri responded, standing. "Thank you for speaking with us, no da."

"Yes, thank you sir. We're sorry to have bothered you." Yui repeated, bowing.

"It was no trouble at all; I only wish I could have been more help. It's gotten rather dark, are you sure you two don't want to stay?"

"No, we should be okay no da." Chichiri supplied, picking up his shakujou from it's position beside the door. "Thank you for your hospitality, though."

Yui wanted to stay and ask more questions, but Chichiri was already holding the door open for her, so she instead ducked into another quick bow and left, her companion close behind.


"And Chichiri-sama asked...about me?"

Shouka nodded. "It was really weird, Chosei. He asked specifically about the symbol on your hand too." She grabbed for the younger teen's left hand, inspecting the scar there in the moonlight. "Yeah, see, it's "chariot", and that's the one he asked about. D'you think he already knew?"

Chosei pulled his hand away a little more quickly than was possibly necessary, face burning. "W-well, um...Chichiri-sama didn't say anything to me about it..."

"You don't have to call him "sama" you know." Shouka pointed out, flopping back against the grass to look up at the sky. She pointed to the stars. "Look, there's Mitsukake and there's Chichiri. They're right next to each other. You two are like equals practically!"

"Yeah, I suppose, but he's my elder. Isn't that disrespectful?"

The fifteen-year-old gave Chosei a Look. "You're almost too respectful sometimes Chosei. I mean, you used to call me Shouka-sempai all the time, and we've been best friends since we were little."

"It feels a little strange not to call you Shouka-sempai." He admitted sheepishly. "But father always said that the people we lo-care about deserve the most respect because they put up with us no matter what."

Shouka rolled over to face him, a little surprised, before smiling gently. She hugged him, holding the twelve-year-old close. "Oh, Chosei. You really miss him, don't you...?"

Chosei tried to pull away half-heartedly, stammering about propriety and reputation and their parents, but Shouka shushed him. "I don't care what anybody else thinks, you know that. We're best friends, and anyway, who's going to see?"

He relaxed a little, leaning back so they could look at the stars together. "Shouka, if Chichiri-sa...Chichiri is asking about me, I might have to go away."

"Then go. You're one of Suzaku's chosen; taking care of an inn isn't in the cards for your future. Besides", she tapped his nose playfully, "I'll still be here when you get back. And I expect to hear everything."

They were silent for a few minutes, holding each other and just watching the night sky. Shouka shifted, sitting up and adjusting...something. Chosei watched curiously as she messed with something around her neck.

"Shouka, what are you -"

"Ah!" She finally said, triumphant. "Here."

The necklace she was holding was expensive and fine, a thin silver medallion hanging on a gossamer-fine thread. Chosei knew it was one of Shouka's most valued possessions - she never took it off for anybody or anything. At his confused look, she sighed, looking a little sad.

"It...it belonged to Kasumi. My older sister, remember? She gave it to me the day before she died. She said that this necklace would keep me safe as I got older, 'cause she'd be able to watch over me through it. I want you to have it."

"S-shouka, I couldn't, I mean, it's really important to you and..."

She shushed him. "Not for keeps! I want it back someday. But...until you get home. That way you'll always have me with you, and you'll always remember I'm back here waiting for you."

He nodded, accepting the fragile silver chain with some trepidation, looking over the beautifully-carved medallion before carefully clasping it around his neck. The necklace fell to hide under his tunic, near his heart.

"...thank you, Shouka. I'll wear it always."


The next morning dawned far too early for Yui's liking, Chichiri shaking her awake before the sun had even thought of rising. She moaned, muscles she didn't realize she had protesting. Apparently she and horses got along even worse than she'd thought - her entire body hurt from yesterday's ride and fall.

"D'we have to get up now?"

She couldn't see Chichiri's smile, but it was audible. "Yes no da. You need to get up and get yourself moving; it won't hurt as much that way. After a couple days you'll be used to riding."

"But in the meantime, I'll be miserable." She finished for him, sitting up with an exaggerated grimace. "Okay, okay, tou-san, I'm up."

"Good. We need to get going as soon as possible, no da. I know I said we should go to the capitol first, but I think we should head for Reikaku-zan instead na no da. Tasuki's there, and it would be good to have him with us."

"Well, you know this area a little better than I do, so Reikaku-zan it is then. How long should it take?"

"Without stops, on horseback? We can make it in a day no da."

Yui groaned again. "On horseback?"

Chichiri didn't reply, and she followed him downstairs to breakfast, complaining good-naturedly a little longer about pains and evils of an equine nature.


::Tokyo::

The sun had just risen in Tokyo, and the Sukunami household was silent, save for the occasional snore. The four adults had all finally fallen asleep, leaning against one another, the book loosely secured in Taka's hands.

Hikari tilted her head to one side, inspecting the quiet scene in front of her. Why were Uncle Keisuke and Uncle Tetsuya here? And why were kaa-san and tou-san reading the Bad Book? Momma had said she wasn't allowed to even touch it!

It was probably a grown-up thing. She put her hands on her hips, little face screwed up in a pout. She was almost 2 now! Didn't that count as a grown-up?

She glanced at the clock behind her - almost 0700. Hikari had a playdate for today! They couldn't sleep all day; somebody had to take her to obaa-san's house!

"Kaa-san? Kaa-san, tou-san, wake up, wake up!"

With a groan, Taka opened one eye, blearily looking at his little daughter. "...Hikari, what are you doin' up, sweetie?"

"I'm goin' to baa-san's today, amember?" She said, using much the same tone one would use to explain a concept to someone particularly dense. Taka bit back a groan, poking his wife in the shoulder.

"Beloved, naptime's over, we're on parent duty for the next hour."

Miaka groaned, muttering darkly under her breath about babies and small children and sleep. She didn't do well on little sleep, neverminding it was her fault she hadn't gotten to bed on time.

"Alright, alright...you wanna get her bathed and dressed, I'll make breakfast?"


::Chokou::

Chosei looked at the small pile of clothes and assorted belongings. It wasn't much - then again, he didn't have much, not really. They were a poor working-class family, so he didn't have many niceties.

After spending most of the night in the field with Shouka, he'd helped her home, returning to the inn to think. Her words kept echoing in his head.

"You're one of Suzaku's chosen; taking care of an inn isn't in the cards for your future."

He hadn't slept at all last night, those words running over and over themselves in his head. He'd known he was a seishi since he was quite small; one of his first clear memories was his power appearing for the first time, actually. And chichi had been so, so proud...but okaa-san was always a little apprehensive. She didn't like the fact he was a seishi - she said that seishi died, and she didn't want him to die.

But he couldn't live here forever! Even if he wanted to just stay at home and run the inn and live with Shouka (Chosei blushed mightily at the thought)...he couldn't. Okaa-san didn't like the fact that he was a seishi, but that didn't change the symbol on his left palm. He had to fulfill his destiny, and that meant leaving.

Still...Chosei hesitated as he picked up the satchel. Chichiri-sama and Yui-sama hadn't approached him today. They probably wouldn't, either; okaa-san had done a good job of scaring them off, after all. He could just -

No, Chosei. You know Shouka wants you to fulfill whatever destiny being Mitsukake leads to, not run from it. For Shouka's sake, you have to do it!

With new resolve, Chosei pushed open his bedroom door...and came face-to-face with his mother. His eyes widened and he backpedaled, but she didn't look angry. She looked sad...

"Cho - Mitsukake. My son. You're leaving, aren't you...?"

She trailed off, looking down, and sighed. "I guess it's unavoidable. I just - wanted to protect you. After your father passed, I tried my best to be a good mother, but it's so hard...you were always closer to Kenji than me. I didn't know what to do. I already lost Kenji, and then those two came and were asking about you and that meant you were going to leave. I - I panicked."

Chosei watched his mother, a quiet sort of understanding passing between the two of them as she shook with the effort of keeping back tears. His okaa-san was really quite young, wasn't she? He'd never thought about it before, but she was much younger than most of his friends' moms, and widowed at that. It must have been hard, to be in the prime of her life with a teenager to raise and a business to run without any help.

"Okaa-san, it's okay. Really." He hugged his mother, letting the bag drop to the ground. "I promise I'll come back home. I won't leave you alone, okay? I know chichi's gone, but...you don't have to be sad anymore. I'm here."

She shook a little longer, her breathing ragged, before pulling away with a watery smile. "...hey. Who's the adult here, huh? Don't worry about your ol' okaa-san, she'll be fine. You, young man, need to get going. You'd better not give Chichiri-sama any trouble, or you'll be in big trouble when you get home."

Chosei nodded, swinging the bag over his shoulder. "I won't, okaa-san, I promise!"


Yui looked back at the village, just starting to stir in the early morning light. "Are you sure there's nothing else we can do, Chichiri?"

Chichiri nodded with a sigh. "I'm afraid so no da."

Yui frowned. "But...we really need all the seishi. We can't summon the gods without them -"

"Wait!"

A small figure was running towards them, a bag swinging at his hip and banging against him as he ran. As he got closer, Yui could make out the brilliant blue eyes and messy black hair of the innkeeper's son.

"Wait, you can't leave yet! You...you haven't found Mitsukake!"

"Oh?" Chichiri asked the teenager, who was doubled over and gasping for air. "How do you know we haven't no da?"

He reddened, looking embarrassed to be actually addressing the Suzaku no Chichiri in casual conversation.

"Um...well...because I'm Mitsukake."


And chapter 4 is a wrap! It's a little shorter than the others, but I would've felt like I was dragging it out had I continued it.

Hope you guys like Chosei - he's a little shy and insecure, but I promise, once you get to know him, he's really quite a neat guy. He's a little tough to write, since I am definitely not a shy person by any stretch, and I hope I did okay and it didn't come off too hokey.

Oh, Japanese! There's a slight difference in tone and formality between addressing a family member by the full word (okaa, otou) or it's abbreviated form (kaa, tou). The former is much, much more polite. Kaa or tou-san are polite-familiar, and haha and chichi are informal and very familiar - you'd only use them when addressing your own parents in private. That's the only real Japanese I used this chapter, I think. Basically, think of the difference in "mother" and "mom" - that's the jist of the difference in "okaa" and "kaa" and so on.

I'll be e-mailing review responses as soon as this is posted. Yet again, thank you guys for the thoughtful, kind reviews. They're really wonderful and (among other things) are what motivate me to keep writing, so thank you! Review if you'd like, and until next chapter, I remain

otaku