STANDARD DISCLAIMER:

Fushigi Yuugi, the series and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Yuu Watase-sensei and I am not attempting any copyright infringement by writing this fic. Also, the song On My Own belongs to its creator, whoever (s)he is, and was derived from the Broadway classic, Les Miserables. Please don't sue me… At least, not until I get a Law degree… That would be… oh, I don't know… About TEN years from now…

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

For everyone's information, this is my first attempt at writing a songfic. I am not really quite familiar with the guidelines in writing such fanfiction so I'm winging it. It's quite long compared to other songfics out there but I just can't help myself. This songfic explores the relationship (not necessarily romantic) of two of the most powerful Seiryuu Shichiseishi, Tomo and Soi, with respect to the central figure in their lives, Nakago. I have no degree in psychology, being in high school still as of the moment, so I'm not sure if this will turn out alright. Tomo is one of the most obscure characters in FY and that, together with his elusiveness persuaded me to write fics about him.

Please excuse me if the characters are out-of-character…

ON MY OWN

A Tomo/Soi Songfic

By: Ryuuen

            Twilight… that period of transition between light and dark, when the silvery moon begins its journey across that velvet canopy above and the golden sun momentarily lays to rest, bringing with it the thoughts of the day; that short fleeting moment seldom noticed but often alluded to in many a poem, song, or painting; that special instant during which both the yin and yang are present in the heavens. And then very slowly, tiny glittering specks of light begin to appear across the heavens, some seemingly belonging to another, others, stray pinpoints in the distance, before it fully becomes night. Seiryuu's stars seem to glow a little bit brighter as a chilly wind blows throughout the region of Kutou, heralding the approach of what would prove to be yet another cruel winter, as the country is famous, or rather, infamous for.

            Haku Kaen, otherwise known a Seiryuu seishi Soi, pulled the thin robe around her more closely as she hurriedly made her way down an all-too-familiar corridor. She was late! Clutching a candle in one hand with the other trying to protect the flickering flame, her only source of illumination, she tried to ignore the playful wind that captured her burning auburn tresses and flung it in all sorts of directions. She hadn't bothered securing her hair in her usual style at night, knowing that it would have to be undone sooner or later.

            Turning at a corner, she nearly bumped into a random servant in her rush. The servant seemed rather irate at first upon being disturbed but, upon seeing who caused the disturbance, the flustered handmaiden quickly bowed and muttered a meek, "Gomen nasai, Soi-sama," before stalking off into the opposite corridor to accomplish whatever tasks she needed to. A small sad smile appeared across Soi's face in spite of herself as she nodded to the girl in acknowledgement. There was a time in her life when she had been in that poor handmaiden's shoes… or maybe even worse. Shaking her head, she continued on… It wouldn't do to think of such things right now…

            Stopping before the threshold of one of the more extravagant chambers in that wing of the palace, she straightened her robe before raising a thin hand to knock. However, that hand stops midway as two distinctly familiar voices waft throughout the otherwise silent corridor. Curious as to who would have chosen to speak to the general of Kutou at such an untimely hour, she stepped in closer in order to understand what each was saying.

            "So, they have found their Miko," a sternly calm and confident voice began, pausing to await his companion's answer.

            "Hai, Nakago-sama," another voice, though rather subdued, responded in the same manner.

            "I see…" The sound of footsteps pacing to and fro across the room filled the air for a tense moment.

            "How did you know?" Nakago queried, as though deep in thought.

            "I have my sources, Nakago-sama," came the reply.

            A sound of shuffling came as the shogun took his seat. "I understand. I'll trust you on this one, Tomo. You know how much I dislike causing unwanted concern over the matter."

            "Hai, Nakago-sama. I am confident in my liaisons."

            "Good. You may leave now. Oh, and by the way… if you happen to come across Soi, tell her that I am in no need of her aid tonight. Nonetheless, I shall be expecting her here tomorrow night…"

            "As you wish, Nakago-sama."

            The sound of footsteps approaching distracted Soi's attention. Realizing that being caught eavesdropping would be rather humiliating for her, she turned and began to walk away when the door suddenly opened.

            "Well, well, well," a caustic voice began. "What do we have here?"

            Strengthening her resolve not to give in to his taunting, Soi faced her fellow seishi and replied in an all-too-innocent voice. "Oh, it's just you, Tomo. I have been wondering who in the world Nakago-sama must be conversing with at this hour."

            He let out a soft cackle. "What's the matter, Queen Soi? Jealous?"

            Closing her eyes as though she hadn't heard anything, she began to walk towards the slightly ajar door only to be blocked by an elaborately decorated sleeve and a pale hand.

            Soi frowned. Trying to restrain her irritation, she replied scathingly, "I'd have you know, Tomo, that I have important business to discuss with Nakago-sama so would you be civil enough so as to get your freaky little self out of my way?"

            Tomo cackled, louder this time as he drew in closer so that they were nearly face-to-face.

            Soi glared at him.

            "Discuss indeed, Kaen!" he sneered.

            His fellow seishi glared at him even more. "My name is Soi, Tomo. You have no right to address me with my given name." Coolly sidestepping him, she proceeded towards Nakago's chamber only to be stopped this time as he laid a detaining hand on her arm.

            "I shall call you whatever damn pleases me, woman," he scoffed.  "And as for your business with the shogun, he ordered me to inform you that he doesn't require your services for the night." And with that, he released her arm and quickly walked off towards his own chambers.

And now I'm all alone again,

Nowhere to go, no one to turn to…

            Soi scowled at his retreating figure before turning and retracing her steps down the corridor. She hated him! That painted freak who acted as though he knew and owned everything… The way he looked at everyone as though he was superior over them… especially her… Seiryuu help her, she hated him! She didn't even know why Nakago put up with him! Sure, he was one of Nakago's best subordinates but still…

            Nakago… somehow, everything and everyone she knew in life all led back to him. She loved him, she knew it, he knew it, heck, even that painted trollop knew it! But why did it seem that… She shook her head this time, as though the mere gesture could drive away all the fears and worries that plagued her mind. So submerged in thought was she that she almost passed her chambers. Noticing just in time, she entered with a forlorn sigh. She was always like this when Nakago didn't need her… alone.

            After taking a quick bath, she began preparing herself for bed. Brushing her hair in front of a mirror, she stopped as a certain thing caught her eye…

I don't want your money, sir,

I came out here 'cause I was told to…

            Releasing her brush, her fingers found their way into an elaborately decorated box. Opening it, she discovers an intricately designed comb coated with brass, several precious stones outlining the surface. She sighed as memories flooded back to her…

            Oniichan…

            That article belonged to one of the sisters she once had. Fingering it, she wondered where her sister was now, whether she had suffered the same fate as she. Sometimes she wondered why Seiryuu had been so cruel so as to deprive her of her childhood. Out of necessity, she had been sold by her parent to a brothel at the tender age of nine. At first, she had been assigned as a handmaiden for the elderly whores but as time passed, she found herself slowly becoming one of them. A crystal clear teardrop fell and she was surprised to find herself crying. All those seemingly endless nights of cold passion during which she stared unseeingly up at the bare ceiling as a patron did with her as he wished were a nightmare… a horrible, terrible nightmare… how she wished that that nightmare had just remained a dream…

And now, the night is near,

Now, I can make believe he's here…

            Strong, sturdy arms suddenly wrapped around her and when she looked up, she found herself staring into once emotionless sapphire orbs that were now filled with genuine concern, elegant brows creased into a frown, golden tresses framing that familiar face.

            Nakago…

            Not daring to believe her eyes, she reached out to touch his cheek and saddened when her hand came into contact with thin air. She sighed. She should have known it was just an illusion.

            Picking up her brush, she continued the task of brushing her hair. It seemed so long ago when she wouldn't have been allowed such liberty… until Nakago came and took her away, like a valiant knight. That was what he was to her, a knight in shining armor who would always be there to save the maiden fair. But then again, knights in shining armor usually fell in love with their maidens … why couldn't it be like that in their case?

Sometimes I walk alone at night,

When everybody else is sleeping…

            Setting the brush down, she slowly padded towards her bed, noticing how mush useless that piece of furniture had been to her. She wondered why servants even bothered attending to it when she, more often than not, hardly even slept on it. Seating herself at its edge, she put out her lamp before lying down. After several moments of tossing and turning, she found herself standing up and walking towards the door. She couldn't sleep.

            Pulling a thicker robe over her nightgown, she stepped outside and shivered instinctively at the draft. Closing the door to her room quietly so as not to disturb the twins who were just right next door, she began her stroll. Passing different chambers, she made her way towards the gazebo, that deserted structure in one of the more isolated parts of the imperial garden. Palace occupants seldom went there, the fact attributed to some lore of it being haunted by a former empress who was charged of treason and penalized with capital punishment. Soi scoffed at the legend, some tale probably woven by the servants out of sheer boredom. Haunted or not, it still was a perfect place to go when one wanted to be alone and think… and isn't that what she wanted just now?

            Adjusting the robe that had fallen slightly off her shoulder unnoticed, she turned at a corner and entered the gate that led to the garden. Approaching the gazebo, she was surprised to find someone else there. Though in the shadows, she distinctly identified long raven hair trailing behind a lithe frame. Frowning at having someone discover her secret place, she stepped in just before a lone raindrop fell, followed by another, and another. The mysterious figure, seeming to have sensed another's presence, turned around and regarded her with eagle-like amber eyes… Soi frowned.

            "Tomo?"

I think of him and then I'm happy,

With the company I'm keeping…

            Her fellow seishi turned around and regarded her haughtily. In spite of the darkness, she could tell that he had been wearing no make-up.

            "Oh, it's you, Queen Soi… To what do I owe the pleasure of this audience?"

            His tone was sarcastic as usual but Soi sensed a slight indication of discomfort. He probably doesn't want me to see how ugly he is behind the make-up…she thought with venom. Smirking slightly, she replied, "Nothing, Tomo-san. I just couldn't sleep. What are you doing here?"

            Tomo turned his back on her and resumed his previous position, arms crossed in front of him, eyes mapping something in the distance before caustically remarking, "Tsk. Tsk. Can't sleep without a big, strong man beside you, ne? I never knew you were that type."

            Soi ignored him, staring off into the distance as well. Was that the reason why she couldn't sleep?

The city goes to bed,

And I can live inside my head;

On my own, pretending he's beside me,
All alone, I walk with him 'til morning.

Without him, I feel his arms around me,

And when I lose my way, I close my eyes and he has found me.

            Unconsciously, her gaze drifted off and landed on a certain window where the flame of a lamp began to waver before dying out entirely. It had been the only lighted room in the entire palace and now, everything seemed to sleep. The rain fell more steadily now and Soi cursed it since, had it not been for the drizzle, she would have walked off just then and there to find another secluded place to think. She couldn't bear being within five feet from her fellow seishi especially when… especially when…

            Sighing, her eyes once again drift to the said window. Nakago's chambers. She had spent many a night in it, content in his arms, his even breathing matching hers. They would stay that way until sleep dawned upon each. Being with him was like a dream come true… a dream cut abrupt by reality when she wakes up to find herself alone in his bed. She wished it could have gone on forever. Her eyes transferred this time to Tomo who had inadvertedly followed her gaze. Realization dawned upon her. Was this how he would usually spend his night?

In the rain, the pavement shines like silver,

All the lights, are misty in the river;

In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight,

And all I see is him and me, forever and forever.

            Tomo seemed to notice her gaze and turned to face her, a small sad smile appearing upon his pale features. Soi blinked as he stepped out of the shadows and as though reading her mind, he replied, "Yes, Queen Soi. I have spent my nights just like this, watching from the shadows while you and your lover spend a steamy time together. Mock me if you will but…"

            "No," Soi muttered in surprise. "No… I have no intention of mocking you… it's just that… your face…"

            Tomo frowned when he realized that she had not seen him without his make-up before. Turning away once again, he replied absently, "Oh yes… my face…"

            "Tomo…" she began, recovering from her shock. He was beautiful… she had to accept that. Heck, he could even send Nakago and the Emperor of Konan with that face. Why did he hide all these?

            "I love him, you know that. And I am willing to do anything for him."

            Soi was thoughtful. Whatever she had expected to hear him say, this was not it. Why was he telling her this?

            "Tomo, I…"

            He laughed bitterly. "I know it is rather foolish of me to wish for something I cannot have… But you wouldn't understand that, would you, Queen Soi? You would never understand the pains of unrequited love…"

            There was a tense silence during which Tomo moved to face her and was taken aback by what he saw…

And I know, it's only in my mind,

That I am talking to myself and not to him;

And although, I know that he is blind,

Still I say, there's a way for us.

            "You're wrong," Soi began, unmindful of the tears that began flowing down her cheeks in spite of herself. There was a time when she would have rather died rather than have anyone, let alone Tomo, see her in such a pathetic state but she didn't care now. It hurt too much for her to care. It hurt too much, the way he bluntly put into words the emotion that she herself had been feeling.

            Tomo's golden orbs widened in surprise. Soi wasn't the type to break down in front of anyone, let alone him. Involuntarily, his eyes began to soften but he caught himself, mentally shaking his head. Was he really feeling sympathy for someone he had long considered a rival?

            Soi dabbed at her eyes and continued, "I… I know how it feels… To wish for something that can never happen… Nakago-sama, he… he doesn't love me… he'll never love me… and yet I keep on dreaming, keep on wishing that somehow, he would return my affection…" She let out a bitter laugh. "I guess I'm just as foolish as you are, Tomo…"

            "No…" It was her turn to look up at him, hazy blue meeting amber for a split second before he closed them and continued. "Stop fooling, yourself, woman! He loves you… I do not know why I am telling you this but it is obvious that he cares for you…"

            Soi blinked. Was Tomo openly accepting the fact that Nakago loved her instead of him? Averting her gaze, she replied,  "No, Tomo… It is you who doesn't understand…He… he doesn't love me… He just cares for me because he needs me for my technique… nothing more, nothing less…he… he is not one to fall in love… he can never…"

I love him, but when the night is over,

He is gone, the river's just a river;

Without him, the world around me changes,

The trees are bare and everywhere, the streets are full of strangers…

            She breaks down crying now, the reality that she had tried so hardly to ignore finally settling in. So that was why she couldn't sleep. Without him by her side, she couldn't dream, couldn't pretend that he felt the same way as she did, that the intimate moment they shared meant as much to him as it did to her… coz there in the arms of the shogun, Seiryuu seishi Soi found happiness in an illusion…

            Tomo looked at her with a thoughtful expression. A part of him wanted to scoff at her and knock some sense into her but a part of him wanted to comfort her. Me? Comfort Soi? Now there's something definitely wrong with this picture! he thought incredulously. But then…

            Looking at her shaking form, something he thought he had banished long ago made its presence felt… a vital part of the boy who was once known as Ryou Chuin resurfaced and he was too preoccupied to shove it right back into its prison. Approaching his sworn rival, Seiryuu seishi Tomo did the one thing that he vowed never to do in his entire life and tentatively brought his arms around her in a hug.

I love him, but everyday I'm learning,

All my life, I've only been pretending…

Without me, his world will go on turning,

A world that's full of happiness that I have never known…

            Soi blinked as she felt firm arms draw her close and secure her in a reassuring embrace. It took a whole minute for the feeling to sink in and when she realized who was hugging her, she looked up unwillingly. The rain had stopped and the silvery moon began peeking above the clouds, casting a strange glow on the pavilion. In that light and without his makeup, Soi thought Tomo was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Blushing at the thought, she averted her gaze but when he spoke, she was compelled to look into his eyes.

            "You amaze me, Soi, you know that…" he chuckled lightly. "I have told you what you wanted to hear but you still didn't believe it…"

            Soi averted her gaze once more, "I know reality from illusion, Tomo. Sometimes I wished I never did learn the difference between the two…"

            "Don't all of us?" he muttered absently, more to himself than to her.

I love him…

            Snuggling closer, she replied. "Now that's something I don't hear from you everyday."

            Tomo let out his usual smirk. "I know. Just don't get used to being treated like this, woman. Nothing changes. I still love Nakago and…"

I love him…

            "As much as I do," was her reply. "But Tomo…"

            "Hmm?"

            "Maybe after this… if you don't mind… Maybe we could be friends…"

            He let out a soft cackle. "Now it's my turn to say this. Now that's something I don't hear from you everyday…"

            Soi nodded. "It is… demo…"

            There was silence.

            "Perhaps."

I love him…

            Soi looked up to be met by sparkling golden orbs and a smile… not one of his taunting, holier-than-thou smiles… just a simple smile that she found herself returning. "Perhaps?"

            He nodded. "Perhaps."

But only on my own…

            They remained that way for some time gazing off into the distance, comforted by each other's presence, sharing the same thought. A chilly wind blew sending raven and auburn tresses dancing together in the breeze. Tomoboshi and Soiboshi twinkled serenely next to Nakagoboshi in the eastern sky, hovering over them like some unseen guardian. Beyond them, the whole world slept.

~Owari~

Story Notes:

            You may notice that I made the presence of Tomo's make up such a big deal in the fic. Why did I do it? I dunno, but it seems to me that Tomo with his make up is Seiryuu seishi Tomo, cruel, ruthless, devious. However, Tomo without his make up on would be someone reminiscent of what he was before, the person he was before facing all the trials in his life, someone who knew what it meant to care for others and have friends. Aside from that, I just can't imagine the painted Tomo talking to Soi about such intimate matters. The make up is his mask and things can't be revealed unless the mask is removed. Besides, he looks way cuter without the paint… ^,,,^;

            Anyway, like I said before, I am not hinting at a romantic relationship between these two… at least, not yet. Theirs is some sort of friendship brought about by their primordial understanding of things related to each other.

            That being said, I hope to hear some feedback from you. It was such a struggle writing this so the least you could do is tell me what you think of it. I will graciously accept constructive criticism but flames shall be used to fry tomorrow's breakfast.

                ____

            (((^.^)))

On My Own – a Tomo/Soi Songfic by Ryuuen © 4 May 2002

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