DISCLAIMER: I don't own Doulin-chan and Lanva-kun! Don't I wish I did though!
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Ahh, the poor Byakko. Some of the most popular characters of the entire series and they get written about the least. It's a grave injustice I tell you! This is my first Byakko fic (starring Subaru!) and hopefully it won't be my last. I like these guys too much to abandon them.
Technical stuff now. I don't know Subaru's maiden name, or her family situation. I made them up for this story. However, that IS her real first name, and Tokaki's entire name is the real deal. Rated for mild violence, mild language (two or three curses), and of course, Lanva's favorite past time.
And a "lech" is a woman-chaser.
Note to new readers (which I don't think there are many): this chapter and several of the ones following it are going to be rewritten when I find the time/energy/inspiration. Going back and looking at them, I am not happy with what's posted. So I'm going to change it ^_^ Not the plot and incidents, but the pacing is going to be slowed, there's going to be more description and emotion, all the usual things. It might take awhile, but I WILL fix these things. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd like to hear them. (Note added August 18, 2002)
I was shopping in the market the day it all began. Well, the day it all began for me; I found out later that it all began much earlier. But at that point I had no idea what was coming.
I had gone into the market to buy some fresh fruit for dinner and privately ogle the cloth on display at Hiroya's stand. He always had the best fabric, and I needed a new dress. Unfortunately, my little fruiting expedition had become something more akin to restocking the entire kitchen, and I was more conspicuous than usual. I paused at his stand, hoping to set down my purchases before I attracted his attention, but luck was not with me. The little man bustled over to me even as I hid a groan. "Doulin-san! How nice to see you again so soon!"
I smiled back at him. "Konnichi wa, Hiroya-san." I had nothing personal against him; in fact he was a very kind man. But he was such a salesman that even I would walk away from bargaining with him carrying more than I needed. I was privately proud of the fact that most of the time I came away with only enough fabric for two dresses; most women bought enough for four or more.
Hiroya was about to open the bargain when I caught a glint out of the corner of my eye. I turned in its direction and saw an unusual-looking young man leaning against the corner support of Hiroya's stand, smirking at me. Unusual-looking because he had the eyes of a hawk, or possibly a cat, and hair as white as mine, even though he couldn't possibly be older than twenty-five. The glare had been the sun's reflection off of one of his large, gold hoop earrings. His smirk widened as our eyes met and he nodded at me in a seemingly congenial manner, but I knew what was up. I'd gotten this before, several times, and simply glared at him before returning to Hiroya. No lech, young or old, would get me that easily.
"Now then, what do you require today, Doulin-san?" Hiroya opened the bargain in our typical manner. I explained what I wanted, and he in turn took out several bolts of cloth that fit my needs. I examined them closely, checking the tightness of the weave and the weight and texture of the fabric before choosing a light blue linen. Hiroya cut off the required amount, and the real bargain began.
A few minutes later Hiroya and I bowed to each other, sealing the bargain, and I handed him his money, which vanished even as I watched. I turned away from the booth and began tracing my way through the crowds to my home on the edge of town, feeling very pleased with myself. I had come off better than usual today, only buying enough of a creamy pink wool fabric to make an extra skirt.
"You drive a pretty hard bargain," a voice behind me said.
I spun, coming face-to-face with the lech from earlier. Admittedly, he was very easy on the eyes, but a lech is a lech is a lech no matter what the looks. "How would you know? Or care?" I glared at him again.
He simply grinned wider. "I was at that stand for awhile, you're the only one who didn't buy enough to make a whole new wardrobe. I like that in a girl."
Was he insane? "Why would you spend the day hanging around a cloth stand?"
He tried to look innocent, but it wasn't working too well. "It's a good place to meet girls."
Yep, definitely a lech.
He took a casual step forward, bringing himself up next to me. "Ne, I was thinking." Suddenly his arm snaked around my shoulder and I stared at it in horror and contempt. "How about you and me stop in at a tavern for a drink?"
I dug into the basket in which I was carrying my purchases, scrambling for something to get him away. The cloth came into my hand. I dropped the basket and swung, connecting with the side of his head with a satisfying crack.
The cloth was wrapped around a nice, hard, short plank and I was a strong girl. The weight on my shoulder was gone, and the lech was sprawled in the middle of the street, looking dazed. I shot him a contemptuous glare, retrieved my basket, and made my way through the crowd that had gathered to stare.
I was a couple of streets away when I heard that same voice again. "Don't you know it's not polite to hit people upside the head?"
"Don't you know it's not polite to hit on women who clearly don't like you?" I turned and again glared into those hawkish eyes.
And again he grinned, although not wolfishly as he had before. "We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot, let's start over. My name's Hahm Lanva. What's yours?"
I openly studied him for a moment, then against my better judgement, said "Tamure Doulin."
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it? Need any help?"
My refusal was cut off by a nearby scream. I spun, looking for the trouble, and caught sight of a man racing away from a jeweler's stand, knocking several people over. I heard a muffled curse beside me, but when I looked, Lanva was gone. The people around me were beginning to surge in the direction of the thief, and I was pushed along with them, back the way I had come, shouts of "Matte! Thief! Robbery!" ringing in my ears. Then came the second scream. The one that was abruptly cut off. The one that sounded familiar.
I pushed my way through the crowd in the direction of the sound and screamed myself when I arrived at the source. Hiroya was lying on the ground outside his stall, bleeding freely from a hole in his stomach. Two people were trying to make the bleeding stop, but most of them were standing well away, the fear evident on their faces. I fell to the ground next to the little merchant, my purchases scattering over the road. "Nani?! Nani, Hiroya-san, what happened?!"
The man trying to get the torn shirt off paused briefly to look at me. "Damn fool tried to stop that thief."
A woman was tearing off some strips of her sleeve to make bandages and didn't pause in her work. "The thief had a knife. Hiroya-san didn't know what happened until it was hilt-deep in his gut."
"Baka! Ahou!" I shouted at him, feeling tears gather in my eyes. "Why did you do that?!"
He simply smiled tiredly at me. "I couldn't let him get away, Doulin-san."
"BAKA! You might die!!" I knew from grave experience that gut wounds were the deadliest. That was how I'd lost my brother, in the war. Instead of the kindly merchant, I saw my aniki in front of me. The aniki who used to take me playing in the forest, and sneaking off for a couple of days to visit the white-hot desert. Who snuck me little extra treats at mealtimes, and had watched over me almost from my birth. Who, not even a year before, had joined the army in the war against Kutou. I had secretly watched him wearing his brand-new company armor, giggling as he posed in front of his mirror, thinking whoever he married would not be good enough for him because he was so wonderful. My aniki, who had slowly died on the battlefield, not a friend or relative to comfort him among the corpses.
"I've got him!" Lanva's voice cut through my sobs as the crowd parted ways, revealing Lanva dragging an unconscious man who was bleeding at the temple. He was undoubtedly the thief.
All my logic was gone. I launched myself at him and grabbed his shirt, tearing him from Lanva's grip and shaking him mercilessly. "FIX HIM! FIX HIM! IF YOU DON'T MAKE HIM RIGHT I'LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!" One small portion of my mind knew the thief was unconscious and could do nothing, but I didn't care. "FIIIX HIIIM!!!"
"Doulin-san!" Lanva yanked the thief away from me and pushed him into the crowd, where several people were waiting to restrain him even though he could do nothing. Lanva grabbed my wrists, holding them in front of me in a strong grip. "Calm down, do you hear me?!"
My eyes were still streaming tears. "YOU DID THIS! YOU FIX HIM!!" I yelled at the thief, my voice ragged and harsh.
And time seemed to stop.
I was suddenly filled with what I could only think of as white fire, coursing through my nerves and my muscles and every inch of my body, filling me more completely than even I myself did, concentrating at a point on the left side of my chest. Light exploded out from that point, brilliant white light brighter than the noontime sun, making everyone but Lanva and myself cover their eyes. I looked down, and plainly shining through my dress, in a place I knew would embarrass me later, was the character "rise".
I didn't question the words that came to my mind, words that seemed to float out of the white fire and land gently on my tongue. "Time turn back on the body of Hiroya to this point of yesterday!" My voice was clear and strong as I called out the words, my tears abated. The hole in Hiroya's stomach suddenly disappeared, as did the blood, and he sat up, blinking in confusion. I turned at a movement from the thief and saw him looking at me in horror, no longer unconscious nor wounded. He immediately tried to run away in terror, but was prevented by the sheer number of people that had gathered.
The light faded, the fire flooded out of my now empty shell of a body, as Lanva began to talk again, almost complaining. "I went through all that trouble to knock him out and you undo it all in an instant." He walked over to the frantic thief and calmly wrapped one hand around the back of his neck. The thief's eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the ground, again unconscious.
"Now that that's taken care of – DOULIN-SAN!" Lanva rushed forward to catch me as I started to follow the thief's example, feeling more entirely depleted and drained than I ever had in my seventeen years of life.
"I'm fine… just a bit… woozy." The world was beginning to tilt rhythmically in front of me. It felt right to be held by Lanva.
I knew there was something seriously wrong with me.
"Damn baka woman, you used too much power at once. And uncontrolled, too!" He glanced around warily, pulling me to my feet again. The crowd was starting to close in around us, buzzing with the news of a woman who shone with white light. "We've got to get you out of here."
I shook my head slightly to clear it and vaguely reached out a hand. "My things…"
The handle of my basket was pushed into my hand and my fingers instinctively closed around it. I looked down hazily into Hiroya's smiling face. "It's all here, Doulin-chan." I didn't really register the change in term. "I got everything back for you. And from now on your money is no good at my stand."
He smiled again. "It's the least I can do to thank you."
I only managed to smile at him before I was suddenly… not there.
I looked around in confusion, noting an inn I'd gone to before for drinks with my friends, realizing I wasn't too far from my house. I also realized that not only was Lanva still there, he was still holding on to me. "Let go. Now."
Amazingly, he complied. "Whatever you say Doulin-san. Or, should I say, Byakko no shichiseishi Subaru."
I dropped the basket, nearly on my foot. "NANI?!" Clearly I was better now. And I had the satisfaction of seeing Lanva shrink back in fright.
"Now I know what that thief felt," he muttered. I glared. He cleared his throat and straightened up again. "You've heard the legend of Byakko no Miko, ne?"
Hadn't everyone? "'When the Sairou Empire is in great peril, there will appear in the land a girl from another world, who shall gather the Seven Stars of Byakko and gain the beast god's power,'" I intoned. With the war recently, the legend had surfaced and resurfaced until everyone knew it verbatim.
"Hai. Well, she's here."
"Uso… you mean the legend's real?"
He grinned and swept an elaborate bow, then pointed at his cheek. A flash of light similar to the flood I had produced earlier, except much smaller, illuminated the character "stride". "Byakko no shichiseishi Tokaki at your service, Subaru-sama. Teleportation a specialty. Of course it's real, the symbol wouldn't have appeared unless it were and you were one of the seishi." His own symbol flashed again and faded, leaving his unusually handsome face normal again.
"Tokaki…" I turned the name over in my mouth. It seemed to fit him better than Lanva. "Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"
He shrugged. "I wasn't sure." Out of his shirt he produced a pure white scroll that looked very old and cracked at the edges. I was amazed that there wasn't a speck of dirt on it. He untied the strings and unrolled the scroll, searching it for a minute before handing it to me and pointing at two characters: "time" and "market". "That was all I had to go on, so for the past few days I've hanging around the market and waiting."
"How'd you know it was me?" I glanced up from the scroll in time to see a half-guilty, half-wolfishly admiring look cross his face and frowned. "Or did you just follow me for my bust line?"
"Well I was bored, what do you expect?" I pulled out the cloth threateningly. "A-Although y-your hair first caught my eye," he stammered.
That confused me. "My hair?"
He nodded again. "Byakko white, like mine." He cautiously reached forward and touched a long strand that had escaped its twisted loop. "It's a better idea than what I was given to work with."
"Oh." I looked at the ground for a minute, thinking, then glanced up again. "Other than 'What happens now' I have one more question."
"How come I didn't know this before?"
He smirked slightly, leaning against the wall of the inn and folding his arms over his chest. "Come on, you mean to tell me that time's never acted strangely around you?"
"I-" I fell silent. There had been times, especially during the monotony of house cleaning, when I had been daydreaming of trying a new recipe with the ingredients I'd just purchased or sneaking off to the market, the chores hadn't seemed to take long. And there were more… "I guess I never noticed." I sighed. "So what does happen now?"
"Well," he said, pushing himself off the wall with his hands and taking the scroll back, tying it up again, "first we go tell your family that you're Subaru, the legendary Byakko no shichiseishi who can control time."
I winced and looked at the ground. "I honestly don't know how mother and father will react to that… They've already lost one child for their country, they probably don't want to lose another." An unbidden tear formed in my eye at the thought of my aniki, and I hoped he hadn't noticed the tremor in my voice.
His hand, unexpectedly gentle, slipped under my chin and tilted my head up, his normally sarcastic eyes now filled with concern. "Was that why the merchant's wound was such a big deal to you?"
"H-Hai… my aniki died that way, in the war. Just a few months ago." I closed my eyes since I couldn't move my head. The tear fell and I silently cursed it.
Strong arms suddenly wrapped themselves around me. I opened my eyes to find myself looking at a blue shirt. "Don't worry Subaru. I can tell 'em I'll watch over you. If there's too much trouble I can get you out of there in the blink of an eye." He pulled back and winked at me.
I had to smile. He was a real person after all, not just a womanizer. "I think they'd appreciate that. So… what after that?"
"Then you get used to being called Subaru and calling me Tokaki."
I had to laugh. Lanva – no, Tokaki had a sense of humor, too. "And then?"
He looked at me seriously. "Then you go with me to the palace."
"Hai, the emperor's invited us all to stay at the palace with the miko. Typically it works better that way, having the miko and the seishi in the same place and all."
"Oh," I replied meekly.
He took one look at me and burst out laughing. "It's not as bad as all that. We get the royal treatment and the emperor's a pretty good guy. Tatara, another seishi, is already there, as is the miko, Suzuno." A slightly sour look passed across his face.
I raised my eyebrows and grinned. "Suzuno not interested?"
"Iya! And what's worse, she's stuck on Tatara! I mean, he's a good guy and all, but come on. Where's the competition? Which way is your house, and can I stay there tonight, I'm out of money." I blinked at the very abrupt change of topic, then smirked, knowing he was doing it on purpose to make me forget that at least one other woman rejected him. I picked up my basket and began walking in the direction of my home, Tokaki catching up quickly.
The two of us walked in silence for awhile before his voice split the air. "Ne, Subaru, before that guy got better, what did you say?"
I blinked again; he was good at throwing me off balance. "You didn't understand it?"
"Iya, you were talking in some funny language."
"Strange… it sounded normal to me. I just sort of knew what to say."
He frowned slightly in thought. "Hmm… well, it must have something to do with your seishi powers then."
"Hai, probably." The silence returned to us for a few moments.
"Subaru, can I ask you one more thing?" Tokaki asked absently.
"Can I see your seishi mark?"
"You know very well what!!"
I was starting to think this might be fun.
AUTHOR'S NOTES II: I think I had too much fun writing this. How can you not have fun with Tokaki and Subaru? Imagine how they must have gotten along (him being the lech he is) before they decided to get married! I wouldn't be surprised if Subaru really DID hit him once in awhile.
Hmm… I wasn't going to make this story into a multi-parter (I've got at least two of those in progress right now), but it seems I can if I want to. What do you guys think? Should I keep going? Remember (this IS Tokaki here) that the rating is likely to go up if I do. Arigato!