Title: swallowed in the sea
Character/Pairing: Japan, Izanami-no-Mikoto, Izanagi-no-Mikoto
Author's note: So, I was working on another piece for Myaru's birthday, but it refused to budge. So then this happened somewhere between attempting to write Abe no Seimei and Japan bromance adventures, Japan's adventures in his desperate attempt to not get laid, and Greek Gods Are Not Amused With Japan's Virginity And Take Action.
Anyways, it's a little late, but here you go, myaru! Here's the piece I started when we were talking into the wee hours of the morning.
He wakes to the feel of salty sea foam on his face. The sand is damp against his face. Grainy. Rough. He opens his eyes and realizes he is alive. Breathes.
She's out in the water, looking into the deep. Her hair is dark, tied in a knot at the base of her neck. The wind has pulled free strands of hair. She turns back. Her face is kind.
She steps in from the sea, her robes held up from the water.
He doesn't reply. The feel of the sea air is wet against his face. He closes his eyes a moment and focuses on the new sensations he barely has words for.
Wet. Grainy. Kind.
"You should come in before you catch cold," she says.
He follows her, staring at the ground as he does. The world is new and everything is of interest around him.
Izanami-no-Mikoto brushes his hair, and murmurs the first name to him: Onogoroshima. She speaks of heavenly spears, and another story of koi. She has so many stories wound up inside her: of the bridge to heaven above they climbed; the look of the stars at night when seen from the skies above; the first taste of sea water, and her marriage.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto is more aloof. He speaks in actions, not words. He shows him the lands, the seas which he was created from. Izanagi-no-Mikoto walks tall, without slouching and he finds himself emulating his steps.
He is their first. For a short time, the world is nothing but catching fish, naming islands of himself and storytelling.
"You're such a quiet child. Just like your father," she says, one day as she's preparing food. There's the murky colored seaweed, and some fish Izanagi caught. It's alive and then it's not in his hands. It still writhed when Izanagi-no-Mikoto brought it back, but soon its fading. Fades.
There's a smooth feel to the scales. They shine. He holds it up to the light. Studies it.
He doesn't talk. Listens. All these words are so new to him. His voice sounds strange when he uses it, but Izanami-no-Mikoto encourages him. Speak, speak she says. And he tries out the language, the taste of the words on his tongue as he asks for more water.
She holds his hand sometime when they walk out to the more wooded areas, where he can see the animals which have come to spring up on his back.
(Can you feel them? she often asks, and tickles his back with a bit of grass. Running all over your back...)
"But where do they go?" he asks.
"Go?" She echoes.
"The fish. The birds. Everything."
He points to the corpse of a baby bird which has fallen out of its nest. It isn't fully fledged yet. It's tiny, with too big eyes and an almost monstrous appearance.
"That I don't know," she says. She becomes more solemn, fiddles with the grass.
"Do you think they fly across the heavens?" He asks.
"When we die, we go to Yomi. But because no one has ever been there, no one knows what it is like," she says finally.
"Is there a path to the heavens through Yomi?" He persists.
She looks at him with such love, and strokes his cheek.
"Perhaps there is," she says.
She rises and he takes her hand, walking over the dirt and grass, to the shores surrounded by the deep blue waters. That night he dreams he is a giant koi, swimming through the sea.
He isn't the only child for long. He's a quiet one, easily overshadowed. He learns to speak up, even to be capricious at times. When her stomach begins to swell, he feels himself being pushed out of the nest by new gods, greater gods to come.
It's hard to gain attention with the beauty of Amaterasu always blinding everyone to anything but her, or Raijin's constant temper tantrums. But she tries to divide herself as best as she can, as if she has become ten goddesses, not merely one. She is always busy, and at times her smile is strained upon her face.
But every so often, there will be a moment alone. She will take a basket and they will pluck up mussels together from the sand.
"You're getting so big, now," she says. Her gaze is far off, to the sea.
He wonders if she dreams of koi like he does.
Her last pregnancy is harsh. Amaterasu has duties, her brightness filling the sky. He learns to make soups, and bring cold compresses. She always feels hot, as if her body is in a constant state of fever. For months she hangs on the balance, until her screams echo through his land, through his very core.
Fire consumes her as her final child emerges. Kagu-Tsuchi; incarnation of fire. With her last breath, he breathes in.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto has always left women's affairs to women. He's the one who sat at her feet, listening to her working songs as she cut the fish and seaweed, and mended their clothes.
In his grief and anger, he grabs a spear and thrusts it into Kagu-Tsuchi's body. He bursts into sparks and ashes. Some sail out the window, floating out the window. Izanagi-no-Mikoto lets out a primal scream. He's never seen his father lose his composure like this. He has always been distant, remote, and strong in his control of himself.
Her skin as turned cold. He touches her wrist for the fleeting pulse which is no longer there.
No one told him gods could die.
The sky turns grey for the burial ceremony. Amaterasu weeps as the dirt covers her once beautiful form.
For the first time in a long time, he wishes to speak but has nothing to say. All that goes in his mind are fractures of thoughts: silvery fish growing still; the look of morning on the sea; the women's songs of working.
"I'll bring her back," is all Izanagi-no-Mikoto mutters before he leaves.
And he holds onto the memories of the times before the brilliance of a sun goddess, the mercurial temperament of a storm god, and the dank fear of a god of death, and finally the fire-child who will be her undoing.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto comes back with nothing but ashes, and a look on his face which tells more than words can. He has seen the depths of Yomi, seen his wife transformed into something hideous and rotten.
He keeps remembering the fish dying in his hands, slowly becoming still. He wants to imagine a world where in death, she transfers her soul to an animal, a silvery dolphin cutting through the waves and swimming into the depths.
But all there is to the end of life is rotting and ugliness.
He looks out to the sea. Life has turned to death. His mother is gone deep into Yomi. He looks out to the sea which surrounds him. Waves crest over the beaches. Foam lingers there for moments. Fades.
He looks out to the sea that will one day swallow him. The sea he came out of. Was formed from. It laps at his heels and he thinks of how cold and dark it must be in Yomi which will one day claim him.
He looks out to the sea.
Izanami-no-Mikoto and Iganazi-no-Mikoto are the creator gods of Japan (well, they were created by other gods, but they're the primary parents of both the islands, and many gods). Izanami-no-Mikoto is both the mother of creation and later, the goddess of destruction.
Technically, the islands were all born one after another and would be considered 'different', but I stuck with Japan being both a mass representation/personification of them, and also the representation of Onogoroshima, the first land that Izanagi-no-Mikoto curdled up from the sea.
There is a variation, that involves a giant carp, though it's harder to find when researching, I know I've run into it. There's also a variation where Izanami-no-Mikoto transferred her soul into an animal or human before she died.