Betwixt and Between
"I don't understand what you see in that annoying brother of mine", Itsuki says.
Originally written for Kaleidoscope Fanwork Exchange (A multifandom, chromatic exchange) for Sententiae.
"I don't understand what you see in that annoying brother of mine", Itsuki says as he then goes off in his ridiculously over doting manner over Hisame.
But that's because, while he might not of lived the over-privileged life that Shion originally thought, he's always had much more than Shion.
Itsuki's monkshood is proof of this. Even though Shion is sure that they both had equal amounts of potential to begin with and were both brought up in orphanages run by monks, Itsuki was the one to be accepted as an apprentice to become a monk.
Itsuki is the one that had the opportunity to have his powers nurtured and trained, unlike Shion who until adulthood only had instinct and Jam to refine his powers. It rankles to know that he's been left behind, to see Itsuki's mocking smile about his dependency on Jam and bullets, when he knows that he could of been capable of so much more. If only people had just given him the chance.
Shion in his childhood only ever had Jam who he could depend on. And while there is no one as wonderful as Jam, she still isn't human and can't talk back to defend him against naysayers, like Hisame obviously can and does.
Yakumo is the first person to speak normally to Shion, the first person to call out to Shion, to look with what could be concern, the first person who genuinely wants to know his opinion on things as small as a comb or hairpin, or as large as the best smuggling route to ship rare youkai to profitable markets in China.
Shion knows how special Jam is, the moment he sets eyes on her - a blur of tails weaving behind her as she dashes past him to hide beneath the twisted roots of the tree where he is leaning against, catching a breath of air before carrying the next set of buckets from the well to the bathhouse.
He doesn't lie, but he refuses to tell the boys following where she went. Eventually they get bored punching him and eventually head off. He groans as he holds his side, but fishes out of his pocket the smoked fish he had pocketed after clearing the guests breakfast and breaks it in half - half for himself as he'll need all the energy he can gather to finish filling the tubs and half for her.
She comes out hesitantly and eats from his fingertips, butting her head against his hand when she's finished.
It's the start of a beautiful friendship.
Shion dotes on Yakumo and longs for Yakumo to acknowledge him, but it's somewhat of a relief to know that Yakumo is more interested in power an demons than in Shion himself. Any word of praise Yakumo gives is for work that Shion and Jam have done themselves and isn't due to cursed good looks that Shion has been granted with.
Shion wishes that Yakumo would slow down, speak up, pay attention to him instead of doting on Sayuri but he doesn't want Yakumo's hand to stay too long on his and he doesn't want Yakumo to remember the naive boy he once was.
Shion doesn't ever want to remember the days when being called a good boy, he thought was a good thing.
Yakumo sometimes makes a perverted joke, but it's clear that there is no real interest. Yakumo calls himself an ex-monk, but he still follows a twisted eight fold path of his own.
Yakumo wants to change the world regardless of the cost and Shion can't see any reason not to.
Shion smiled when his new master called him pretty, praising his unusual features. It was the first time he had been complimented. Perhaps this meant that life was looking up for himself? Perhaps the world was changing to become a better kinder place, where people could talk to him normally and praise him for being who he was. Shion knew he was pretty, he loved seeing his reflection sparkle with his soft bright hair. It was his best feature and it always calmed him, when he tugged upon it, remembering that while he was different, he was also special.
Still, it would be odd if things changed around too soon, the servants were not enthused with the newcomer, with the girls usually saying something about him, just out of earshot and the guards smirked as they bullied him around.
Still, as the maid lead him to his room and sniffed that this is where he would be staying, he was full of awe.
'All of this is mine!' was his first thought on seeing his room. This was an previously undreamed of level of luxury, to have a small room with a comfortable futon and thick warm blanket just to himself. Sure he was expected to run a lot of odd jobs for his up keep, but this was amazing. And master was so kind when welcomed Shion to the house and showed him his room.
Jam didn't seem comfortable though, running away as the master reached towards her, only venturing to find Shion when he was alone.
Unfortunately it would prove to be quite difficult at times to find Shion alone, although he was the only person allocated to that room.
Sayuri can't understand why Shion doesn't realise the special treatment he receives or appreciate it. He's always trailing after her brother like a lost puppy, never looking past the appalling western artwork her brother collects because it reminds him of Shion, never bothering to realise that her brother doesn't touch him, because he's seen how Shion flinches when people press into his personal space.
The idiot's always so focused on the useless trinkets that Yakumo picks out for her, never bothering to notice that at least Yakumo asks for his opinion on the matter.
Still her brother is capable of great things, and he needs loyal allies to assist with this. That's a task larger than Sayuri can accomplish on her own, so she's willing to delegate a little.
The housekeeper, Natsuko, grumbles as she mutters about another mouth to feed and Yakumo's generosity. She tells Shion that he had better be greatful and help Yakumo with his work, or there won't be any meat served with his portion of dinner!
At first Shion quietly accepts this posturing, not knowing his place in the household. Eventually though, Sayuri makes a deadpan comment about his capabilities and "how does he expect to serve Yakumo? As a capable servant or a door mat?"
That he finds, not only can he talk back, but it's quite fun to do so.
He always knew, that women were jealous of his good looks, that his long lashes were wasted on a man, and it feels so good to prove it by watching the creative ways he can make their faces twitch in reaction to his words.
It feels so good to be able to redistribute the casual cruelty and harsh words that womankind had always inflicted upon himself. He's come such a long way from the little boy that would flinch as his mistress said "such a stupid boy, the only thing good about you is your looks."
"Hisame's going to get cranky at your infidelity again." Shion says in a bored manner, thinking it just one more regular evening, with the sun hidden behind the mountains and Itsuki preparing for his nightly activities.
"I told you! Hisame approves of my going to the red district!" is the sharp refutation.
"I don't understand why your so enfused with going there all the time. It seems rather barbaric to be bound to the needs of the flesh, as a monk shouldn't you be above all that?" Shion complains. Sex is too hot, too sticky and uncomfortable. Full of pain, humiliation and feelings ripped out against your will.
"But don't you ever wish, for a small moment of comfort, where you can forget the reality and dream a little more?" Itsuki says as he slides smoothly forward, suddenly exuding the charm he reserves for charming girls away from Hisame. "Where the one you love, looks your way and only your way, returning your feelings for just one night.", as his hand sensually leans out to cup Shion's face.
Shion breaths deeply once in shock, imagining so very similar features looking at him like that, with the left side of the face covered with shadows, accentuating the bright sharpness of his right eye and whispers, "No.", before regaining his composure and smacking Itsuki away.
"I don't want things, I'm incapable of accomplishing." And he smirks at Itsuki's confusion.
Shion wants to change the world, to earn Yakumo's respect, to have a warm meal and a comfortable place to sleep at night curled with Jam. He wants to be needed and valued - anything else is just risking getting thrown away or made the butt of someone else's joke. And who would want that?