H U M A N F E E L I N G S
A/N: I read through this and decided to edit it somewhat. Oh, and this isn't a yaoi story. It's about three different stories sort of branching off from each other about Rikugou's past, Seiryuu's past and Guren/Touda's (not so distant) past with three different OC's.
The early morning sun shone shining upon the dew drops causing them to sparkle like precious gems in the light. A light mist had descended upon medieval Japan but the sun would soon be able to disperse the fog with its bright rays. It was a new day, a new start. A time to look towards the future, yet one person in particular was still living in the past.
Yes, that person was I, Rikugou of the 12 Shinshou. Sitting at the bank of the pond in the noble house of Abe no Seimei, I gazed of into space, musing about my past. The other Shinshou were careful not to disturb me in my time of silence. A silence filled with bitter remorse and regret.
The day it all happened was just as beautiful as this one...
Passing by in the early morning were Seimei's grandson, Masahiro, and Touda who was in the current form of what seemed to be a mutated rabbit with a red gem studded necklace. I always wondered why he wouldn't remain in his godlike form which resembled the rest of us. Maybe it was because he wanted to be distinguishable amongst the rest of us. Or maybe it was because he wanted to show his loyalty towards his new master, Masahiro, by taking whatever form that would please him the best. Oh well. Whatever that red head wanted to do was his own choice. Though… The pet name that Seimei's grandson continues to call him keeps escaping me.
What a laugh...
Masahiro who had noticed me sitting in complete silence wondered what I was doing alone, gazing off into space. He could obviously make out the look of bitterness coupled with pain etched onto my features. Touda watched me with his crimson red eyes as he thought to himself, 'So it's that time again huh...' A momentary look of anguish crossed his face, but it quickly disappeared when his master turned to look at him. In a lowered voice, hoping that I wouldn't be able to catch wind of what he was talking about, the boy spoke to his loyal Shinshou, "Hey Mokun..."
So that's it, Mokun...
"What's Rikugou doing here?" he asked inquisitively as he motioned to where I was at. This caused Touda to flinch slightly before averting his gaze. "I don't know what you're talking about," he responded in that manner just to avoid the question. Masahiro couldn't help but give Touda a confused expression. Usually his friend would just tell him anything he asked. Maybe it just wasn't his place to say. Simply rolling his shoulders, the young boy made his way towards my still figure, deciding to ask me what was wrong. "H-hey! Come back!" hissed Touda, but it was too late. Masahiro was standing beside me.
"Hey, Rikugou, what are you doing here?" he asked, leaning forward slightly only to notice that I wasn't paying any attention to him for I was too deep in thought. If it were possible, the water would have evaporated under my intense gaze by now. Subconsciously, I let out a sigh and Masahiro could've sworn he heard the words 'Miyuki' escape my lips.
Now feeling more befuddled than before, Masahiro asked a question that struck up some unwanted emotions. Just by uttering a name which hadn't been spoken in this household for almost ten years now, caused my heart to bleed.
"Rikugou, who is Miyuki?"
The name immediately snapped me out of my thoughts and I glared mercilessly upon Seimei's successor. But my glare did not move him in the slightest. How strange. Finally, I spoke in a strained tone, "It's none of your business... Seimei's grandson." I added the last bit for I knew it would definitely tick Masahiro off. "Don't call me that," he said in slight annoyance as he turned to leave.
It seems the boy has gotten slightly used to the nickname now... how sad...
Just as Masahiro was about to reach a rather sullen Touda, he stopped walking causing the Shinshou to flinch slightly. Masahiro then spoke in a much softer, gentler tone, "There are some things in life that people just can't talk about. But there are also other some things in life that no matter how painful and hard to discuss, will lift the weight off your shoulders if you do so." Neither one of us turned to face the other while Touda continued to watch from the side lines, worried about the outcome of Masahiro's words.
Finally, the young master decided it was time to leave. I didn't bother to turn and watch the boy leave with his companion to find that princess of his.
Ah yes, I too used to have someone I called princess. She should be twenty-four years old by now, if she's still alive that is... So I guess it has been ten years since I'd last saw her. 'Ten years... has it really been that long...?' I wondered to myself as memories started to flood back. Back ten years, a few days before what happened, happened. I can still remember every detail of that day, very vividly. How she looked like, what she wore, where she even stood, every minor detail I didn't notice before were all burnt into my mind like an irremovable tattoo. I shook my head a few times. I didn't want to remember the past. I didn't want to remember the pain of losing her. And yet, I did. And yet, no matter how hard I tried to fight back, it all came flooding back to my mind as if it only happened yesterday.
Ten years ago...
As I leaned casually on one of the walls in the living room, I waited patiently for my mistress to enter the sliding door. The sunlight which streamed through the open windows, bouncing off random materials caused the room to light up in a dazzling array of colors. The smell of the fresh air was worth to kill for and the songs of the tropical birds would have been the first things a dying man would wish to hear.
"Good morning Princess, you look lovely today," I complimented my fourteen year old princess with a kind smile as she gracefully strolled into the room wearing a floral patterned kimono. Her long, chocolate brown hair was let down, reaching her waist while her fringe had been pushed behind her ears. At the end of her hair was clasped together by a silver hair accessory-- Her hair style was similar to my current one except in the past I wore nothing in my short hair.
I had taken care of Miyuki ever since her mother had passed away after giving birth to both Miyuki, and her twin sister, Kiyoko. She was the very first granddaughter of Abe no Seimei. Her only flaw was the fact that she was visually impaired. So much so, that she felt like she was looking through a straw. And so, I was her eyes; describing everything down to the very last detail. Despite this flaw, she was treasured just as much as her younger twin, maybe, even more for her life held much more promise than that of her sister's for Kiyoko's life was coming to an end soon.
Miyuki would soon be turning fourteen, the proper marital age, and was betrothed to the Mikado's eldest son who was a whole ten years older than her.
I could see her force a smile onto her face as she greeted me with a good morning and thanked me for the compliment. Seimei and her father were out readying the preparations for the wedding. Her younger sister was fast sleeping in her room, watching over her was her guardian Shinshou, Seiryuu. Knowing he was the one taking care of her, everyone could relax.
"What's wrong, Princess?" I asked as I walked over to her. She then looked up at me with those beautiful amber eyes which seemed to sparkle in the light and asked with all her innocence, "Do you think I should get married, Saiki?" The fact that she called me by the name given to me by Seimei caused me to stiffen slightly. I had told her my name once, but that was when she was a mere babe. It shocked me that she actually remembered it.
I was silent for a moment as if in thought. But there wasn't much to think about. It wasn't a hard question actually. My answer was no. I didn't want her to get married to the Mikado's son. I didn't want to let my princess leave my protection at all. If I could, I would protect her for as long as her mortal life allowed her to live. It was a silly little desire of mine ever since I saw how fragile and small her inner self really was. What I was seeing now was her outer character, a strong, elegant and brave young woman. I then realized I was silent for too long before I coughed into my closed fist.
As I returned her gaze, I then said, "Well, you are almost to come of age soon. It's only right for you to get married." For a second, I could have sworn I saw a glint of sadness in her eyes as the sparkle in them seemed to die slightly.
Did I say something wrong?
"Is something the matter, Princess?" I asked as I reached out to touch her silky soft cheek, but I held back. She was going to get married soon, such contact was strictly forbidden. Just like it was strictly forbidden for me, a Shinshou, to fall in love with the girl I was sworn to protect.
She simply shook her head gently and smiled up at me. Although she was tall for a female her age, she was only up till my shoulder. "I'm fine Rikugou, really," as she spoke she gave me a reassuring smile. Although I wanted to hold her, to tell her I loved her like so many times I had wished to do so before, I didn't. It was against all my teachings as a Shinshou.
At the corner of the room a figure started to shimmer into being. It was Kouchin, one of the three female Shinshou who was ranked second strongest amongst the twelve in attack power. "Miyuki, your grandfather, Seimei, had asked me to bring you to the palace to meet with the Mikado's son," she said, bowing slightly as an apology for her sudden intrusion. "Oh! Ok, I'll ask Tenitsu to help me prepare. I'll be back in a minute!" Miyuki then bowed politely towards Kouchin and me before she disappeared from the room to prepare.
I simply watched her leave with Tenitsu guiding her by the hand and stared at the door for awhile, not moving from my spot. That was until I realized Kouchin had been watching my actions the entire time, especially, where I was staring at. I quickly averted my gaze from the door towards her and showed her my usual deadpan stare which I had spent decades to perfect. In a blizzard cold tone I asked, "What are you looking at Kouchin?"
She couldn't help but smile slightly, as if she were very much amused by my behavior. But finally, the raven haired female shook her head before saying, "Oh, nothing.... You know Rikugou; you should stop calling her 'Princess'. Just call her Miyuki like the rest of us."
"It's a habit," I simply stated as if it were fact, not fiction. Truthfully, I did want to call her Miyuki like everyone else, but I have been calling her 'Princess' all my life. The sudden change of name would be strange in my mouth and it would most probably make others think about what was not true, right? Kouchin simply smirked and shrugged before walking past me. "You should really tell her..." she whispered softly in my ear. Before I could ask her what she meant, she had disappeared back to the realm of the 12 Shinshou.
That was... weird....
Later that night, Miyuki was scribbling Japanese characters on a parchment paper only to shake her head, rip it to shreds or roll it into a ball before tossing it to the floor. It was almost midnight and her only source of light --even though she could hardly see-- was the candle which was starting to flicker. Darkness would soon consume the last bits of flame. Hot wax rolled down from the edges of the candle and a single droplet landed on one of Miyuki's trembling hands. Wincing slightly, she tried to shake the pain from her hand before peeling off the now dried wax.
I had rested my back on the wall behind Miyuki, shimmering in existence the moment I sensed her pain. With folded arms I asked her in a casual tone, trying not to sound too curious, "Princess, what are you writing? Calligraphy? At such a late hour?"
She simply shook her head in response, and showed me a weak smile. "It's nothing important," she said with a tired smile as she felt around for another paper which I handed to her. "Well, if it's nothing, then you should really be getting to bed now. It's late. It'll be bad if you get sick before your wedding rehearsal the day after tomorrow," I said with a sigh. Two days from now would be her wedding rehearsal and a week from then, her real wedding. I could see sadness in her eyes as she nodded, "Alright, I'll go to sleep now. You may go now." I nodded slowly, not really wanting to leave her, but feeling compelled to comply with her wishes, I soon shimmered out of existence, back to the heavenly realm of the 12 Shinshou.
Once I was gone, Miyuki turned her head back to the next empty parchment of paper. Her trembling hand dropped the expensive, gold leaf brush, staining the beautifully decorated bamboo table with the finest black ink the merchants could sell. Tears started to fill her eyes and soon, they overflowed onto the bone white paper which soaked up the tears like a starving dog. Burrying her head into her hands, she wept silently.
And the flame went out.
It was early the next morning and the pleasant songs of birds could be heard sung throughout Abe no Seimei's household. Grasshoppers hopped from leaf to leaf, careful to avoid any of the early morning dew. Butterflies fluttered freely in the air, seems like spring would soon arrive. The early morning rays of light broke through the upper atmosphere, lighting the low hanging clouds in a dazzling range of colors ranging from the darkest of reds to the lightest pinks.
Miyuki leisurely stepped out onto the patio, her skirt brushing the tips of each blade of grass which had been expertly cut to be no longer than the tips of her fingers. Seimei had even set up some spells to keep the grass from growing any longer for it was a hassle to cut it and it was too expensive to hire someone to cut all the grass. Miyuki took in a deep breath of the fresh morning air, enjoying a moment of peaceful serenity before calling for me.
The moment Miyuki uttered my name, I was right beside her. My time was getting better and better. All I had to do was drop everything I was doing in the other realm to appear by her side. "You called, princess?" I asked, bowing slightly as if to wish her good morning. It wasn't usual that she'd call me to her, especially so early in the morning. I'd usually come to her on my own free will.
I couldn't help but feel a nagging suspicion in my head that told me something was wrong when she didn't respond for a few moments. Finally, she turned to face me with a smile and spoke, "I... just wanted to spend some time with you, that's all. Just like old times when we used to sit by the pond with each other."
I couldn't help but smile slightly, recollecting the times when I would keep her company when she was all alone while her sister was busy being taken care of. Truth be told, I'm not the best person when it comes to entertainment, but with Miyuki, it was different. She wouldn't run around like the hyperactive five year old kid she should've been, but instead, she would sit here, on my lap in complete silence as I described to her the scenery in detail.
"Of course, princess," I smiled. She showed me a look of slight irritation which I rarely get to see. "Miyuki," she stated firmly with her lips pressed together into a demanding pout as she placed both her hands on her slender waist line. This was surprising for she had never asked me to call her by her given name before. "Y-Yes, Pr- Miyuki," I had to quickly correct myself. Her name tasted like honey on my tongue. I had been longing to say her name for ages, but never got round to saying it, until now.
Man this feels good.
Now, Miyuki was sitting comfortably in between my legs as she rested her head on my chest while I had my arms wrapped protectively around her waist. Her slender hands were place on top of mine which made me relax. I gently breathed in her scent. She smelt just like fresh roses with a fruity twist in it. I didn't want this moment to end. I didn't want her to leave me. Not now, not ever.
A long time had passed in complete silence and soon I found myself starting to doze off with her still in my arms. Although I tried to fight the urge to sleep, I couldn't. Just having her beside me, with me in my arms was the greatest blessing in the world. I didn't want the moment to slip away while I slept. But soon, I fell into a state of unconsciousness.
Miyuki who had been awake the entire time felt my heart rate slow and my breathing even out meaning I had fallen asleep. She remained in her position for a few more moments before gently prying my hands from her waist, placing them back onto my lap as she got up. I stirred slightly but did not awaken when she pressed a cold, hard, metallic object into the palm of my hand.
She slowly turned to me with a sad expression on her face as she bent down to give me a soft kiss on the forehead. "Good bye... Rikugou..." was all she said before she turned and walked off, never to be found again, gone, as if she were wiped off the face of the earth.
My vision was suddenly blurred by tears which were thought to have dried up along time ago, after remembering the last time I had seen her. The pain in my heart flared up once again as I clutched a hand over it. The only memoir she left with me was her favorite metal hair tie which she always wore-- The only reminder that she ever existed in the first place. It was then when I decided to grow my hair out just to wear it. It was a sign that I hadn't forgotten her and that she would always remain with me no matter how far apart we were.
So it seems like the old scars hadn't faded, not even by a bit.
Heh... so it seems even the Shinshou are affected by human feelings...
Suddenly, a familiar voice called my name. The single voice was soft and gentle but still rang loud and clear, like a wind chime. The voice did not call for Rikugou, but for Saiki. Only three people knew of my true name. The first was the one who gave it to me, the second was already decomposing under the earth, and the final person had been missing for ten years. This caused me to look up at a figure of a woman, the light of the sun shining brightly behind her. Her outline was vaguely familiar; from her defined posture, her slender outline to her beautifully long brunette hair.
I couldn't be... could it? The one who had left all those years ago?