DISCLAIMER: I don't claim any characters at all unless they give it willingly to me.
Ive been away for too long haven't I?-dodges soda cans- Okay, okay. You're mad, I can understand that and as a matter of fact, I don't have any excuse except the board exam and my lazy ass. But anyway, to compensate with my bad attitude (for not submitting the epilogue of THE ESCAPE and not continuing CHIBIFIED) I decided to finally give you the first installment of my AU fic. This story had been going on inside my mind eversince I started being a member of fanficnet and even before I made my debut story (Can I Keep You?) and finally, I decided to get this into paper.
When I say AU, I definitely mean its 100% fiction/self-made and may not be at all connected much to Recca no Honou (ninja stuff). You might find some things here that are totally altered and you cannot accept it because it is not what it is from the real anime show. If you have complains, you can review and say it to me but before that, please make sure you understand what Altered Universe means. Thank you! n_n;
The Escape- you guys are totally awesome and marvelous and great and almighty and..and…hehe, thanks for the kind reviews. I appreciated the people who even went through the effort of reviewing every chapter and I was amazed at your dedication and patience. Be aware that the epilogue is still in the making and I am not in the right position to leave you hanging like that. I love you guys so much, I am willing to spoil you.
Chibified- I still have to force and talk to Vanni (obsessed dreamer) about the next chapter..sigh. But like what I said before, I am not abandoning the story as I can still remember the plot very well. Tehee.
"I don't think this is a very good idea," he sighed in exasperation, the veins of his temples popping out and weary. "I don't think this is a very good idea at all," he muttered as his hands reluctantly swung the saddle over his horse's backbone and slowly fitted it snugly, as though his tardiness will buy more time for his companion to change her mind.
"Stop whining like a kid and hurry up, Recca. We don't have the time of the world," she looked down at him from her horse. "When my father's men come back here and see us stealing their horses, I'll have your head on my platter for breakfast."
She knew she heard him cursed something inside his throat but she had no time deciphering what he had said. Recca had already called her in every ridiculous term possible since they were inside their mothers' womb and his latest one was not something to be bothered about. She had a more important matter in hand and she wanted it done as fast as possible.
"Look, if you don't want to go with me, I am more than willing to concur. I didn't ask for your assistance in the first place as I know your stubborn luxury-seeking ass will just slow me down, but you insisted and even—"
She fell silent when he glared at her, his eyes fearless and fiery like all the rest of the people of his clan. But this didn't intimidate her at the least as she answered him with a silent quirk of one eyebrow as though challenging him to try angering her more, her face red with desperation and even getting redder with impatience.
"And here I thought I am being kind, chivalrous and even acting like a gentleman by helping you out with this absurd plan of yours then you dare accuse me of being slow when I was the one who fetched these horses to spare your amateur wings from flying the wilderness or getting hit by some lightning!" he spat at her face and swiftly mounted his horse with ease and expertise.
Fuuko scowled. When it comes to her newly acquired wings, Fuuko was highly offended. "There is definitely nothing gentlemanly about you and judging from the way you ridicule your own father, the king of your kingdom, you have certainly no 'kind' bone in that scrawny form of yours." She rolled her eyes and paused, studying her childhood friend as though she had seen him for the first time. "And chivalrous? You can die hoping," she flashed him what she knew was her proudest smirk that never failed to irritate him before she galloped and was swallowed by the darkness.
"You wench!" he followed her, loud thumps of his horse's feet echoing through the silent midnight. "I'll get you for that one!" he screamed and accelerated when he saw her horse jumping over some fallen logs on their roadway, then he too, followed her lead.
Fuuko took one second to glance at Recca, making sure he's following her. She knew she acted indifferent but she was actually happy that despite his clear objections, he still went with her and made sure she's unharmed. Though he might not have known it, she was always thankful for having him on her side. It is in times like these that she always appreciated harboring Recca's loyalty and although she should be very thankful, she decided to save her gratitude for later, whether she's still alive after the outcome of this action.
In a few seconds, Recca was running beside her but she didn't slow down, she gripped on her horse more aggressively as her face battled with the cold night wind, her eyes narrowed as though it was aiming something, or somewhere.
"Fuuko, I know you're desperate to rescue your lover but believe me, piercing icicle glares to the westbound wont kill a hair of Raiha's captor. We need to detour and pass through the neutral land before we could get through any kingdom!" Recca reminded her, his voice nearly shouting in competition of the loud sounds their horses were making.
Before Fuuko could control it, her infamous Harrisen Fan had flown instantly from her bag and had plummeled successfully over Recca's hard skull. "I know you idiot! As a matter of fact, I was the one who told you that!" She made her horse run faster, almost flying, and Recca knew that if he doesn't keep up with her, she'll soon be gone from his sight.
He clenched his jaw and hurried before Fuuko's wings springs out from her back. It's a beautiful sight, but definitely not in the neutral land. They'll get killed before she can attempt to fly a feet.
Recca had his eyes on Fuuko as he recalled the happenings of the previous few days.
"Fuuko?" it was his fifth knock on her door and the umpteenth time he called her name from behind her thick oak door. "Fuuko, may I come in?"
He was answered by a thump on the door, obviously a pillow thrown at it, and a frustrated voice from inside the room. "I want to be alone, Recca! Please!" He heard her sniffed and knew she was bawling her heart out over the lost of her fiancé.
"I am not going anywhere unless you let me see your ugly face," he exclaimed insolently. "Kami, help me Fuuko but if you don't open the damn door, I will be pleased to burn it and stick the remaining charcoal in your mouth." He clicked his thumb and index finger and a small blue fire came out from his hand. There was a loud groan from his bestfriend and he produced a very wide grin when the door swung open, revealing a red-eyed Fuuko glaring hard at his smiling face. She was squatted at one side of her bed, her green plaid soaked with tears and her arms crossed over the mattress, also wet with fresh tears.
She was trying desperately to regain her face as she wiped the tears from her crimson cheeks. "There, you happy? You see me already. Now, please, get the hell out of here," she sniffed and twisted her face somewhere so Recca wouldn't see how she looked. But she knew there was no use talking her friend out. Recca is not Recca if he is but a ball of stubbornness and defiance.
Recca saw the humiliation and sorrow in her eyes and in an instant, he was kneeling behind her, his arms around her shoulders, protective and comforting. "Cry it all out, Fuuko. Cry it all out," his voice was surprisingly soft and soothing, almost like a warm sunshine on your face and before Fuuko could do anything, she found herself crying like a little girl again.
"Recca-kun…Raiha, he's gone. He's gone…" she sobbed, the agony and heartache were evident in her voice. Recca tightened his embrace and stayed silent until her cries began to soften and degenerate. A last whisper of her lover's name was all he heard before Fuuko drifted herself to slumber.
When Recca entered the spacious conference room, he was greeted with three pairs of inquiring gazes. The king of Fuu Kingdom, Fuuko's father, was looking at him with dreadful eyes as though he was expecting the worse condition for her daughter and the remaining two, his father and older brother, was staring at him as though they expected him to say something that will kill Fuuko's father with heart attack. But then he cannot blame them, judging from Fuuko's face when she heard the news of her fiance's captive, all of them thought she was going to collapse then and there. It was surprising that she managed to run to her room before she broke down completely.
"How is she?" It was Kurei, his oldest brother, who managed to utter something and broke the silence.
"She's worse than I thought but she's sleeping now. Her highness and Ganko-chan are in her room, looking out on her in case she wakes up and needs something," Recca settled himself on one of the chairs around the round table in between his father and Kurei.
A loud bang was heard and the fire lords glanced up on Fuuko's father, his hands slammed on the table and his face scarier than they ever saw before. Obviously, his highness was trying very hard to control his anger but after the news about his daughter, he had gone insane with hatred. "This is too much! I say we plan for war against that savages! They took not just my daughter's fiancé but also her happiness. I cannot just stand here and see my daughter eventually lose her sanity as well!" As he shouted, the wind changed speed and the ceiling-to-floor curtains around the room were threatening to pluck out from their posts. If this goes on, Recca would not be surprised to see damaging hurricanes around the castle.
Recca was astonished to see the king of Fuu furious with rage. Fuuko's father had always struck him as a soft-spoken, kind-hearted, wise gentle man. A complete opposite of his daughter. But now he could see the resemblance. His father had always warned him never to anger the king of Fuu everytime he and Fuuko plan something dangerous, and now he could very much understand why. King Fuujin has one wicked temper.
"Fuujin, calm down and brace yourself." Recca's father instructed, and it was the first time Recca saw his father acting civilized. Shigeo might be the king of their kingdom but Recca well-knew how crazy he's father really was. He almost rolled his eyes in amusement.
King Fuujin clenched his fist and took a deep calming breath, and Recca was again amazed at how the wind seemed to go with the king's feelings. In a few minutes, he was relaxed and slowly sat back on his elegant chair, then he looked at the people around him as though he was very surprised at how they reacted. "Did I go insane again?" he asked Shigeo innocently, his eyes wide in question.
Recca's jaw dropped and it took him a full minute to realize that Fuuko's father doesn't have any control of his temper. After it pops out, he'll turn back to his soft self and not realize he made a whole lot of damage like he had some sort of amnesia. Now, Recca wondered what will happen if that happens to Fuuko too. She could probably destroy a kingdom and blame it on him afterwards.
"For a few scary seconds," King Shigeo answered casually. "But you really have to learn to control those temper tantrums, Fuujin, or you'll end up killing all of us," he paused to chuckle. "Anyway, I received news from the men I stationed at the Umi Kingdom. I have them disguised as Umis and they sent me this message," he flapped a delicate paper out from his red silk jacket and read it to everyone. "It says, 'Lord Raiha is still alive and was last seen at the west wing of the castle but immediate rescue is impossible at the moment. The cellar is guarded with two of King Tokiya's commander and the young lord is being confined inside a huge bubble with disarming spell. He cannot use his power and a midget attempt of escape will cause him his life. As of now, we are still waiting for any commands from you, Your Majesty'," King Shigeo folded the message and handed it to King Fuujin. "I know you're aching to declare war against King Tokiya, Fuujin, but Raiha's life is still at stake in here. He may just be my nephew but I love the child like my own son and I don't want to compromise his safety by declaring a war. We need to retrieve him discreetly and without trace," Shigeo said and the wisdom behind those statements made Recca gawk, surprise at his own father's thoughts.
After reading the message personally, King Fuujin rubbed his temples and sighed, his shoulders held dejectedly. "You're right, Shigeo. I cannot possibly declare an all-out-war. Raiha's still alive but my daughter is almost breaking down, how much more if the lad is dead? We need a clear smooth plan."
Shigeo nodded. "No, we need more than that. We need to outsmart King Tokiya himself. If the reports I have about him is half the truth, he cannot easily be moved. I've heard how the man ruthlessly attacked the three lairds of the highlands of the west and made them bow down to him forcibly. You know how proud and strong the highlanders are, we used to have problems dealing with them in our own land. My own kingdom had twenty years of non-stop battle with them before we defeated Laird Shen and formed an alliance through Kurei and Shen Kurenai's marriage. What we need is not force but wits if we ought to rescue Raiha," Shigeo contemplated and stared at his friend, who returned his gaze with a nod of agreement.
"The Kingdom of Umi has been in feud with our kingdom so long as I can remember. It might have been centuries ago. And neither one of us bowed down to the other or made any attempt for reconciliation. I don't have plans of changing that now. If I need to sacrifice every Umi to take my daughter's fiancé back, I would," King Fuujin sneered and Recca was again on alert for another bursting of his temper. "We need to plan something that will catch them in surprise. Something that dog Tokiya would not and never expect, something—"
"A woman," it was the second time Recca heard Kurei say something and they all stared at him in wonder. "Behind every man's success is a woman," he explained, and Recca could see how Kurei relates himself so much with whatever he's saying now. He knew how lovesick his steel-face, stone-hearted brother was with his wife, Kurenai. "And behind every man's suffering is a woman's cause," he stated calmly.
Recca saw how the kings' faces lightened as though hearing the simplest, most rational idea of all but never thought that themselves. Fuuko's father chuckled and Shigeo laughed like a fool fooled by another fool. Recca witnessed his father patted Kurei's shoulder heartily and he grimaced, glaring at Kurei. "Show off," he muttered to himself but instead of smirking in triumph, Kurei merely raised one eyebrow at him. Recca ignored Kurei's grace of innocence and continued snubbing his brother.
An entire afternoon was spent in modeling strategic plans and Recca was bored to hell. He never liked participating in these kinds of meeting but he was curious enough to want to know what the three great warriors have in mind. Ah, erase that, one great warrior and two pompous asses in the form of his father and brother.
He heard them getting a woman as bait, a pawn, for the King of Umi, and all of their brilliant ideas were fused into one creating an undeniably smooth and cultured plan. The plan was set from the pretenses of the woman, acts she should do, how she should be able to lure the king to show her Raiha's cell, etcetera, to the death of the water king. Recca had to admit it was one hell of an outsmarting plan but the idiots are missing a tiny winy small detail.
"So who is the woman you have in mind?" he asked and smiled smugly when the three paused from their blueprint and stared at him with guilty faces. Obviously, they had the stage and choreograph set without even finding the main star of the show. Recca grinned more at his brother's gaping face. Haha, caught you on that one onii-bou!
"She must be beautiful beyond words," Recca reminded them, liking the way they stared at him in awe. "If you're planning to catch a large fish, you must set the most attractive bait."
"I'm not giving out my Kurenai," Kurei glared at him and said it as though Kurenai is no one else but his'. Which is true in that lifetime since he was her husband.
Recca clicked his tongue, implying that Kurei was definitely missing some point. "Kurenai-neechan is indeed, very beautiful, but she's too gentle, too angelic. We need a woman who is head-strong. Someone who will not be afraid of the water king's tirade. Someone who will equal his temper so she will be able to get his respect. Someone with pride and honor and at the same time, elegance of a queen."
At that, King Fuujin grunted. "I cant have my Ganki do the task, it's too dangerous." He frowned at the grinning Recca.
"Of course not, King Fuujin. Her Highness is strong beyond imagination but she can be, pardon my words, a little bit tactless. She goes off to a war without plans and that could be more dangerous," Recca braced himself for the king's beating but he was surprised when the man slowly nodded, sighing and agreeing with him, then he continued. "Aside from beauty and courage, we need a woman with a great deal of a brain."
With that, Shigeo hit Recca's head with his knuckles and Recca scowled at his father, his eyebrows meeting and his mouth pouting. "What was that for!?" he shouted at his old man and he was answered by another punch over his cranium.
"Don't tell me you're pawning your own mother!" Shigeo pulled Recca's ear and Recca tried biting his father's arm.
"Why would I do that, you old fool!?" Recca barked.
The two of them rolled on the floor and wrestled like there's no tomorrow. Kurei stared at them and shook his head disagreeably. He looked at King Fuujin and bowed slightly, apologizing for his family's childishness. The king smiled at him reassuringly, his expression telling him this is not at all unusual for him. Then his expression grew serious and in deep contemplation. Recca's right, who on earth would be willing to pawn herself to a vile enemy and get Raiha rescued?
Kurei sensed the king's deep thought and in two seconds, his face lit up. "Your majesty," he waited until the king turned to him, his face in question. "I think I know of just the right woman to do the job, but I doubt you'll favor this idea at all."
The wind king nodded, inviting Kurei to continue. "If I need to threaten her to do the job, I would. She can't as well deny her king, that is, if she's a Fuu as well."
Kurei nodded in response. "We need a woman with a strong connection with Raiha, someone who loved him enough to make great sacrifices for him, someone who will not risk falling in love with the enemy and completely blow all our plans." Kurei stated but he can well see that King Fuujin was slowly gaping his mouth in understanding, so he decided to continue. "If we need all our plans to work, it should be—"
The huge door flew open, revealing the purple-head princess with her long green and ivory gown. "I would be more than willing to do the job, father."
Everyone gaped at her, and Recca could only whisper her name and realized that she was indeed, the right one to do it.
They were staying inside an abandoned stables and Recca gathered the remaining hay grasses to make a comfortable bed for both of them. He also provided their horses carrots and bread from their bags before proceeding to where Fuuko was.
Fuuko stared half-heartedly at the starless sky, her face pale with longing and her eyes still red from bawling almost everyday since the news of Raiha's capture. She remembered the last time she saw his handsome face, it was raining like this and they were seated beside each other, holding hands.
"It's a beautiful rain," he breathed with his eyes closed. Fuuko stared at him with a faint blush on her cheek and adoring eyes. Everyday, she had to remind herself how lucky she was for having an incredibly beautiful man as a lover but everytime they spent a time together, she still couldn't believe that she's here alone with him, his hands fitted perfectly with hers. Every minute with him is like a fairy tale come true and she used to blink her eyes faster and seldom in fear that she might lose sight of him.
"Very beautiful," she whispered, knowing she wasn't referring to the rain at all.
Raiha chuckled as he turned to her face and say, "Very beautiful indeed. I don't mind staring at it forever." The grin on his face was lovely and she blushed when she realized what he just said. He just laughed more.
"Stop that," she commanded in mock anger and he flashed her a grin that threatened to slice his face in half.
Looking up at the sky, he sighed in contentment. "It's good not to see lightning and hear thunder once in a while," he said.
Fuuko was startled at his statement and glanced up at him in wonder. "What do you mean?" He couldn't possibly mean what he said. Afterall, lightning and thunder were his sole power.
"Lightning causes fire wherever it strikes, and thunder produces sound waves that destroy a great deal. Unlike your wind, mine is only made for annihilation and so when revival time comes after a great destruction in our land, I am as useless as a twig on the ground."
Shaking her head, Fuuko cupped his face and kissed his cheek. "A twig can be use to support a fire so people can cook food. You can never be useless Raiha, in your people's eyes and mine."
Despite the cold rain, Raiha's smile of gratitude was the warmth her heart was seeking. "You do know I love you, don't you?" he raised her hand and bestowed butterfly kisses on her palm, making her ears red with delight.
She nodded meekly even when his kisses made her almost want to squeak.
"Tomorrow I'm gonna bring you the water tribe's life crest and bring victory to your kingdom, would you like that?" he mumbled over her palm but when it turned pallor, he looked at her face in query.
When she didn't answer, he tugged her hand and squeezed it gently. "What is it?" he asked, his voice concerned.
"Raiha, you don't have to do this for me. I am next to the throne and stealing in the Umi Kingdom is a traditional task of the next ruler of our clan. I can't have you sacrifice yourself in my behalf. It's too dangerous a task," she gazed at him with pleading eyes.
"If it's as dangerous as how you claim it to be, then the more that I should be the one to do it instead of you. I'm your future husband and I can't allow my future wife to wander around some strange land where she might never come out. I care for you so much, Fuuko. And whatever happens, I will never regret doing this favor for you," his lips touched her palm once again and it went higher to her arm.
"Still, I want you to be careful, koishi. You know what happened to my brother, the real heir of the throne, when he went there to retrieve the crest. Until now he had never come back and I don't want that to happen to you. I would die if—"
"Hush, Fuuko. I promised you I'll come back and marry you the day after so I want you to stay here and plan the wedding ceremony like a dutiful wife," he enveloped her with his warmth and kissed her gently on the mouth.
That was the last meeting she had with Raiha.
"It's raining terribly," Recca said as he calmly seated himself beside her at the wide door of the stables. "If this continues, we won't be able to reach the neutral land before sunrise."
"The air says this rain is just passing by," Fuuko had her eyes both closed and there was a solemn expression on her face that Recca thought it was not Fuuko beside him.
Recca handed her half of his bread and a slice of cheese. She took it quickly and ate all of it in one gulp. When she acted like she was choking, Recca shook his head and offered her a cup of wine. "You know our fathers will definitely kill us for this." He said, but he knew it was the last of his concern. Fuuko was very determined to go with the plans even when her life was on the line and this was the thing he dreaded the most.
"They won't. You all agreed that I was the perfect one for this job so why would you guys complain?" She answered casually, looking up at the very dark sky.
"We agreed, alright, but it didn't mean we actually wanted you to be the one to do it. A less perfect one would not hurt, as long as its not your life at stake. We already lost Raiha, we couldn't lose you as well. Why cant you understand that?" Recca's voice was that of vexation.
Fuuko faced him with controlled tears on her eyes, the salty water welled up so much it was blurring her vision. "No, its you people who cant understand!" she closed her fists and punched them over Recca's chest. But instead of returning the punches like what she expected him to do, her childhood friend just mutely stared at her with pity in his eyes. And so she turned away and tried covering her flushed face. "Do you think I could just stay there and depend my Raiha's life to someone else? Try considering how I feel Recca. I have the greatest chance to rescue the one I love and I am not gonna stay in one room, praying for his dear life to be saved!"
"Fuuko…" Recca whispered and he tried reaching out for her but she turned away and left. It was a pain on his sight to see her like this, especially after the blitheness she felt when they announced their engagement a week ago.
Fuuko threw herself over the pile of grass Recca had prepared for them and she continued her suspended whimper. Beside her was a puddle of water, increased by the leaking rooftop above her and she grimaced. "I hate water," she grumbled to herself and lifted the lighting-shaped pendant of the necklace Raiha gave her on their engagement. "When I see that water monster, I swear I'll make him pay for capturing you like some animal, koishi."
Fuuko kissed the pendant and held it to her heart as she slept.
Soon, Raiha. I'll see you soon…
A/N: Tada! I know there is still a lot of confusion but if you stay tuned you'll have an answer to all your questions. This is a multi-chaptered fic and I am very much excited to play with ToFuu again. And of course, excited to hear your reviews. ^^,
And I have to ask for apology about my writing skills. I seemed to be degenerating. Probably because I haven't been writing for months now. Or because there's no ToFuu in this chapter but I strongly believe, I'm lacking the needed writing skill at the moment. If I have more time and if more inspiration comes, I might redo this chapter but ill keep you posted about my updates.
Anyway, I'm waiting for your review.