AN: So, new fic that's been floating around for a while. It wasn't until the recent developments in both XXXholic and Naruto that I felt, "OMG. I have to write this story now." XD.
But yeah. This entire fic is largely experimental because it's a whole new writing style (lots of interjecting thoughts/hyphens and it's PRESENT tense) and I've never dealt with a fandom (XXXholic) that is so chock full of historical folklore. So yeah. Bear with me, please?
And I'd really like readers input (especially if you're readers of both fandoms).
Title: When All the World Is Silent
Category: XXXholic x Naruto
Pairing: Undecided (possible slash between Watanuki/Doumeki, but perhaps not)
Beta: (on this site) subtextual and Split Persona; (LJ) sub_textual and sp_kathrine
Disclaimer: Obviously, nothing except the plot belongs to me.
Summary: Something very beautiful and terrible can result from the wrong or right wish. In this case, it may just be the very thing a young boy needs. A mother, a family, a destiny. But everything has a price.
When All the World Is Silent
By: Falling Right Side-Up
"Wishes…Surely, if you keep wishing, they'll come true. That's how strong the power of people's wishing is. But for everything you desire, you have to pay an equal price in return. You can't get more nor give more. Can't be more or less…all must be in balance. Or else, they'll be 'mishaps.' Whether it's to a person's physical self, or the hidden fates, or spirits from another world."
He's a hero, but it's not something he's proud of, because a hero's existence speaks of the climate from which he emerges -- it says that the situation is dire enough to need one; a savior who can do what no one else can.
Only this time, he's not sure if he can be the savior the village needs. But he tries anyways, because he loves his village and it's his duty to love and protect, so he's standing over his dark mahogany desk with scroll after scroll rolled out before him -- esoteric scriptures and outlandish theories no sane man will consider. It's been three days of useless searching, and his eyesight is failing from strain, his mind dangerously sluggish -- it's working at speeds that barely complete a thought before moving onto another, until one is two and threefoursixthirteen.
Everything he's tried has been thwarted -- of course they would be, he's only a man fighting against a demon, a goddemon -- and now he's left cobbling together his greatest masterpiece in the last hours of darkness, right before the break of dawn, of red across the sky that will mark the turn the end of an age of life.
He is leader and protector - the first and last line of defense for all the monsters that plague his people; only, this time, his last defense will not be enough, because the real danger isn't the fiery, blazing creature crushing his village under rampaging feet -- but the man behind it, directing it; the humangodvillain who is the hero's greatest opponent.
Only this time, the hero will be the one to die. It's a sacrifice he's more than willing to make, even though a ball of lead falls into his gut at all the thingspeopleloversonstudent he'll be leaving behind to bear the aftermath of his masterpiece, his last coup de grace of genius and insanity.
It will give his peopleson the chance to succeed where he will fail -- a measure of darkness to fight darkness. He only hopes that the precious boy he blessesdamns with the double-edged failsafe will be hailed a hero. He doesn't like what being a hero implies, it's ugly and desperate, but it's better than being scorned as a demon. Yet he knows his hopes are for naught because humans are more inclined to hate than love.
It's why this -- all of this -- is happening in the first place.
Holding this office, wielding so much power, has never been his dream. But he doesn't think twice of doing all the things required of him because he's a shinobi. Even if he's the sacrifice, the Atlas that must bear the weight of the village's hopes, dreams, desires, fears, and hate.
The expression on his face is grim, taut, hardened like aged rubber that's dried and about to crack. Leaning back from the desk, he rubs his face with his hands, but the motion does nothing to soothe away his apprehension. He walks rigidly towards the window where the entire village sprawls out before it. Towards the edge of the horizon, the sky is crimson, its color so vivid, its glare reaches even to the window in which he is standing, and bathes his office in an angry crimson light that taints and distorts his shadow across the floor.
It's not the moon. And it's not the dawn. Nothing natural would ever shine so malevolently.
It's so ugly. And he wants fervently for something beautiful and good to come of this, because he will be gone once this is through and his village, his student, his sensei, his lover, and his son, his precious son… They should not have to suffer for his inability to be their hero.
But he tries anyways, because that's who he is, and he won't let himself compromise in this. He's prepared for the inevitable, but it is so unbearably cruel for the ones left behind, so he wishes that someone, something can change it, please.
~ oooooOOOOOOOOOOooooo ~
She's a blood-red warrior with passion -- for life, death, love and hate -- as great as her skill. But she's a secret, and that's why she's alone in the white, bleached room in the far east corner of the hospital.
She's uncharacteristically still while lying in the hard ashen bed. One hand gently glides over her rounded stomach and the other twists tightly in the sheets -- pallid, sterilized and starched, so harsh against her skin. It's early morning, but she doesn't have to look outside the window beside her to know that it's not the sun that's shining.
Biting her lower lip and hunching over, she stifles a pained gasp and whispers to the little life within her to please, please just wait a little longer. Just a little longer, because she knows that once she's given birth, she won't ever see that precious child again.
A premonition perhaps, triggered by the intense shroud of danger hovering over the village and the future of her family.
She knows that childbirth comes with a certain amount of pain. Tomboy she may be, but she's a shinobi and well prepared for any trial she may face -- as a killer, a lover, a woman, and a mother.
But somehow, no amount of preparation has given her any idea of what to do now. What do you do when your duty requires you to damn those most precious to you? In battle, certainly, the answer is clear. But now?
It all seems so unfair. To survive the destruction of her birthland, to overcome the trials of war and prejudice, only to succumb to this strange, colossal force of murderous nature, razing countless lives down in its path. Is life really this cruel, she wonders, because she knows no mere human can put up a fight against this approaching herald of death.
It's even more unfair, becauise she knows she won't die out there defending her home with her lover. And her last consolation will be hearing the echoing scream of her child, announcing his entry into the world and the anguish he will soon face without the protection of his mother and father.
Shinobi rely on skills, on facts and logical possibilities. Luck, prayer, and superstition will get you killed, but she allows herself this momentary weakness to plead to anything, anyone, anywhere.
Please, please protect my child.
It's futile, she thinks, because if higher powers did exist she wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.
~ oooooOOOOOOOOOOooooo ~
He's a scion of his village, the last of three. The others are gone -- one lost to insanity and the other to wretchedness -- leaving him alone to bear the weight of glory, and it's been crushing him for years.
They had told him it would ruin him -- that he would fail -- long before they had left, but he hadn't listened and now it's not just him suffering for it. He'd been young and stupid, so he aimed high, fell hard, then ran away from his failure with the boisterous half-crazed laugh of someone who had yet to learn the lesson.
Now he is older, but still stupid, and it's too late to fix his mistakes -- or himself -- because he's already too broken.
But he's stupid, so he tries anyways.
That's why he's here, running, running, running in a forest that looks like it's burning -- feels like it, too -- even though the danger is miles and miles away. But he ignores the phantom heat as he races through it, trying to outpace time and fate, which have always been too cruel.
He had been touring the countries as was his habit, an ear to the ground for new whispers of plots, conspiracies, and hidden dangers. But sensei and his brat called him back. Back to the place he's supposed to love, but recently can't help feeling burdened with -- the thought makes him feel shameful and disgusted -- he tells himself to bear it because he deserves far worse.
The light of the last outpost to the village proper is just ahead, so he slows down for security's sake to identify himself to the nin on duty. Most of them – chuunin – are outside gazing at the sky with expressions of dread and apprehension, instead of at their posts or behind their desks.
He lands with a purposefully loud thump on a balcony to announce his presence, and one of the chuunin gives a small start of surprise. He resists the urge to shift uncomfortably under the gaze of dawning awe and hope upon the faces of the younger nin, and tells them with a grim face to radio ahead that he's almost home. When they scurry away to do his bidding, he launches off the balcony and continues on his way; he doesn't want to bear their expectations any longer than he has to -- he knows he's going to fail.
But he's still stupid, so he tries anyways.
He's tried a lot of things, just thinks if he tries something will turn out right eventually -- statistically, it has to, right? -- even if it's only one thing he's tried out of a thousand. Some things people know about and some things he keeps close to the chest, doesn't want anyone else to know those particular failures because they're personal -- they wouldn't understand, the little things to others that equal the world to him. And even though he tells himself that one success is still better than none at all, sometimes he can't see past the failure -- it stretches on and on, as if there were no successes at all -- and he shuts himself off from others, nurses his self-hatred alone.
Or at least, he runs away from the ones he knows care about him into the midst of those he knows will reject him, because their rejection doesn't hurt -- because they don't matter.
He has always hated himself just a little bit, but at this moment he is overwhelmed by angry thoughts and recriminations. He knows that he's going to fail again, and again it's not him who's going to pay the price, but his loved ones.
It's not fair. He knows nothing in life is fair -- he's a shinobi and shinobi are professional cheaters -- but the knowledge makes him inconsolable right now.
Even now, as he races through the forest, trying to beat the wave of crimson destruction, he knows he's too late and that the heavy weight of the scroll on his back is mere luggage -- it doesn't have the information that he needs to make the situation right.
By the time he gets there, the only good he'll be for is to help his student die.
So he prays that somehow a hero will appear and save the day -- like in his dreams and his books -- but wants desperately for the hero not to be his student or anyone else he knows. If there needs to be a hero, it should be him, for heroes have the cruelest of fates.
But even as he prays he knows it's useless. Because he is fate's toy and there is no god that will listen to his prayers.
~ oooooOOOOOOOOOOooooo ~
He's been a man since he was five. At least, that's what he believes. It's taken a while for everyone else to think so, too. But the difference between a boy and a man hardly matters right now, because both are good-for-nothing in the face of the mass of hate and evil prowling towards the village.
He's an elite ninja. A genius since birth, but his accelerated growth is bedded on fertile soil nourished by the dead bodies of his loved ones. And soon the body count is going to rise, and he wonders if this will make him even stronger, if he will finally grow too strong, too fast --
He scoffs at the irony -- he's strong and worse off because of it.
Standing on the roof of the administrative building with his squad behind him, he feels the gulf acutely -- between his comrades, his village, his duty, himself. Everything is so surreal, and he's heard stories of awesome and terrible creatures that periodically terrorize the world, but never thought he'd actually see one. Feel one.
He wonders where they came from. Why this particular one has come here. But these questions are pointless because they do nothing to deter the fact that it is here and many people are going to suffer for it, die because of it. If he were superstitious, he would believe that the gods are punishing Konoha for some terrible crime, because nothing else can justify what's happening.
And he doesn't want to even consider the fact that it's all a coincidence -- that opens up a lot of 'what ifs' -- there's the possibility that someone else's home, not his, would have been under attack. It makes him feel guilty and wistful, but he's man enough to take it.
He's not superstitious, so it's all a moot point. There are no gods watching over them, because if there were, he wouldn't have been a man since the age of five. So he places his trust and faith in things more tangible -- in himself, his comrades, his village, his sensei, in the fact that life and death are immutable, constant, and natural.
But trust and faith are fragile, like the things he invests them in.
And the one man who he wants to look up to is shuttered away in the round office below him, trying so desperately hard to live up to his people's expectations. But he knows this story won't end well. His sensei is a hero, a great man, but not a god.
The ending is already clear -- it's only a question of who will live to tell the tale.
There's a feeling in his chest right then, so expansive -- yet it leaves him hollow, as if his chest will collapse in on itself. His eyes sting and memories, so useless, flood his mind -- the tears of the man whose death made a boy a man at the age of eightfive. And the past blends with the present -- he can taste his brother's tears, leaking from the eye that is but muted copper against the burning crimson of the sky.
Everything is so very wrong. He doesn't just think this -- he knows this with a sureness that he doesn't often feel. And he wonders if anything can ever be right again after this night.
He doesn't know what to feel anymore, except resignation--
But that leads only to death for shinobi, so he resists and just pauses -- to want desperately for something he can't name but knows he needs, like a child who knows it can't do anything alone.
Sometimes, wanting is enough.
to be continued...
AN: Wow. It's finally up. XD If you read the other version called "The Wish" that I posted in Candle, you can tell, this is wildly edited. And much better, no? It's different from my usual writing.
So, can you guess who the four people were???
And is anyone else like, OMG, about the recent developments in XXXholic and Naruto?
So, likes, dislikes? Advice? Should I continue?