Bridge Over the Abyss by roku kyu
Disclaimer: The characters from Fushigi Yuugi are the creations and property of Yuu Watase and related enterprises. The character of Doctor Who is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). I do not own them and do not make any profit from this fiction except for my own enjoyment in spending time with them.
However, all original characters in this story DO belong to me and may not be used elsewhere without my permission.
This story begins approximately six years before Miaka's appearance in the Universe of the Four Gods and is a prequel to the story "White Stones in the Moonlight." This storyline ignores the events laid out in Chichiri's Gaiden novel Shouryuu Den, and so may be considered "Alternate Universe"... although it will join up again with canon Fushigi Yuugi as depicted in the anime series. This is also a crossover with the science fiction series "Doctor Who." I have taken care to clearly draw and define the character of the Doctor so that one need not be familiar with Doctor Who to understand this story. Oh, and it's also unnecessary to be familiar with "White Stones" either.
This story is rated M for language, adult themes and violence, and sexual content.
Musical selection: "Awakening" by Secret Garden from their CD "Once in a Red Moon," copyright 2002, Universal Music AS, Norway.
Chapter 1. The storm.
Chapter 1. The storm.
The rain beat down upon him, sluicing through his hair, running down his face like endless streams of tears. Let it rain. He had no more tears left to cry, so let the dark and weeping skies grieve in his stead. Let the heavens open, let them release their raging sorrow at the bitterness of the world below, as they had scant days ago. Let the skies and the winds and the waters drown him in their fury, finishing the job they had left half-done.
Let them take his life. Let them snuff out the pathetic, guttering flame of his existence, granting him the dignity of death instead of this mockery of a half-life which he now endured.
Half-life. Half-death. Half-man, half-boy with only half of a face, a bloody bandage covering the area where once his left eye had gazed out at the world with trust and joy, he was now sitting half-naked in the blackened ruins of his home, his knees drawn up to his bare chest. One of the few survivors left in this ruin of the little village that sat on the banks of the Kouga river in northern Konan.
Survivor. What bitter irony in that word. What bitterness in this great celestial joke, that he should survive, he who had nothing to live for. All around him lay the bodies of people who had every reason to live--husbands, wives, children, lovers--all dead, their hopes and dreams dead beside them whilst he, with no hope and no reason for living, still drew breath. Still breathing, still feeling, still shivering with cold as the rain fell upon him, gentler now that the monsoon had passed. Only half a storm left to rain down on his pathetic half-life.
What dark humor drove the gods to allow him to survive? A murderer like him left living and breathing, while better men than he floated by the score in the still raging waters of the river, tumbled over and over by the swirling current, seeming to wave their hands in macabre cheerfulness as they passed the shores of the ruined village. Murderer was almost too romantic and masculine a word for the likes of him.
A half-man for so long...and he never even knew it. She must have been so sickened by him, all those months of their betrothal. She must have ground her teeth in revulsion as he took her hand, showered her with flowers and little gifts, pressed her close to his eager body…she must have closed her eyes in disgust as he seized her lips, all the time dreaming of the one she truly loved. No, wait; that wasn't right. Even in the depths of his bitterness, he knew that he was being unfair to her. She wasn't like that, his Kouran. She was the sweetest, gentlest of girls; he knew her, he had known her for practically all of their lives. At least, he thought that he'd known her. He thought that she felt the same towards him as he had towards her, those gentle feelings of friendship blossoming over the years into passionate love. He thought she'd been as joyful as he when their parents finally negotiated the terms of their betrothal. He thought her heart had beaten as rapidly as his that one day in the woods, when he'd turned to her and suddenly taken her in his arms…
He had thought wrong. He had believed the words that she had spoken to him over the years, believing them to be her true and honest feelings, when all along, she was merely being kind and pitying. That was her nature. She could no more deliberately hurt him than she could pull the wings off a butterfly. He could still see tears dropping onto mat beneath her as she bowed before him, stammering out the truth at last: that she could no longer go through with their betrothal. Those were tears of real sorrow that she had cried, aching for the heartbreak she knew she was bringing to him. She had called herself unworthy of him, all the while pitying him in his stunned disbelief, in his blind confusion. She had pitied him… and in so doing, she had unmanned him.
He'd burst into tears like a child, burst into tears at her rejection of him and his love, broken down sobbing when he found out that her rejection had to do with the man who had been best friend to them both. He had seen her lift her stricken face from the mat at the sound of his grief--and he'd fled in humiliation, unable to bear the pity in her eyes. He'd heard her call his name, but he couldn't stop running and weeping, running into the torrential downpour of the violent storm, running as if he could flee all his heartbreak if only he could run fast enough and far enough. He'd run, not knowing where he was going, not caring, only needing to get away. And as he ran, the cold hand of rage began to grip his aching heart.
Yes, he had nowhere to run--because they had left him nowhere to go. They were his only friends, and now he had no one. How they must have pitied him, concealing their love affair until they could find the right time to let him know about the two of them. And beneath that pity lurked their contempt for him: for his blindness, his innocence, his stupid happy trust in their love for him. How they'd played him for the fool he was! He clenched his fists and shouted his rage into the thundering skies; he shrieked his betrayal into the whistling wind. He howled like a madman, soaked to the skin and battered by the storm, the wind driving him until he ended up standing before an all-too-familiar door.
The door that led into the house where he had spent so many happy times, first as a child playing, then as a young man chatting, laughing, dreaming dreams of the world which opened before them. This, the home of his best friend, Hikou, in whom he had confided all his hopes for the future, with whom he had made plans for the happy life that lay ahead of the three of them. Friends forever, he'd declared, vowing that not even marriage would come between the closeness they all shared. Just recently, seeing the shadows that darkened his friend's eyes, he'd announced that he and Kouran must find a wife for Hikou, so that they could all raise their children to play and laugh and love together, just as the three of them had loved.
He let out a bark of bitter laughter at the memory of his gullibility, a laugh that sounded more like a sob. How painfully stupid he had been. How laughable, how pathetic. In that storm, he raised his fists and beat them against the door in helpless rage, in seething fury at how they had humiliated him. And then, the door had swung open.
There he stood, his best friend, eyes reddened, a flask of sake in his grip. He stood there as if he had been waiting all this time for that furious pounding on his door, as if he had anticipated this moment for years. In his memory, he lunged at his former friend, screaming his betrayal. "How could you take her from me? How could you lie to me, day after day, about the two of you? You liar, you bastard! You only pretended to be my friend while you took her love for yourself!"
He had seen Hikou's eyes widen in disbelief before narrowing in resentment. "Why shouldn't she be mine?" Hikou had howled back at him. "I've known her just as long as you have--and loved her first!"
That had stopped him, silenced him in shock. Hikou and Kouran…first? Then why had she ever agreed to marry him, Ri Houjun, a poor fatherless boy? What had possessed her to raise his hopes, to pretend to return his shy and hesitant affection? His mouth turned down in bitterness. What did it matter in the end? In the end, she couldn't bring herself to go through with the lie, and so here he stood, bitter and betrayed and made to look every inch the fool he was. The rage took hold of him as he took hold of Hikou, and the next thing he knew, they were both out in the storm, screaming and striking at one another, their wild blows connecting only occasionally.
They fought past the houses until they ended up at the outskirts of the village, the muddy waters of the river roaring and swirling as they rose above the confines of the riverbank. The two young men grappled near the edge, then pulled apart, their former love for one another now eclipsed by their mutual fury, as they panted and glared at one another through the downpour.
Houjun screamed out his betrayal and rage and confusion once more. "Why? Why did you have to take her from me? You could've had any girl you wanted! She was mine, mine by right and by law!"
Hikou's eyes at first flashed with pain but then narrowed in anger. "Why should she belong to you? You're not even a real man! You, with your soft words and gentle ways, with your gathering of flowers and herbs--you're more of a woman than a man! How could you know how to be a man, with no father to guide you? All you know are your conjuring tricks, your pointless little magical illusions, useful only for entertaining children. Why shouldn't she choose a real man like me? I could bring her everything you never could! How could a half-man like you even protect her?"
That was it. The last of his reason deserted Houjun, as he drew the dagger that he always carried on his belt. The dagger he used to cut clusters of mushrooms from mossy logs, to peel back medicinal barks, to sever the woody stems of wild roses--this dagger he now used to slash at the man he once loved as a brother.
Hikou had jumped back in shock, his dark eyes widening in disbelief at the murderous intent of his former friend. One foot slipped back over the edge of the bank of the raging river. Time seemed to stand still as he teetered on the edge of the world, balanced precariously between life and death--and then...
Enough! snarled Houjun mentally, the chill rain bringing him back to the present. Enough with the damn memories! he raged silently at the gods he once respected and revered. Kill me now, or show me why you keep me breathing...but I will no longer be your plaything! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't just walk down to that hell-driven river and join in the dead men's dance in its depths. Give me just one reason why I should fall in with your plans!
At that moment, he felt it. Forceful, dark, more powerful than any he had ever felt before, this ki was also shielded nearly to the point of being undetectable--but that was one of his own useless little powers: the power to detect the weakest or most carefully hidden life force. His face creased in grief, the image hitting him like a blow. That was how he knew they were dead when he found them clinging to one another, appearing to sleep in each other's arms... Once more, he forced back the bitter memories. He wanted to retreat back into his semi-conscious state, he wanted only to die, but his endless curiosity would not allow him to rest. He lifted his face and sent out a quiet search for that powerful ki--and found it heading straight towards him, as if homing in on his own particular ki.
Houjun felt a sudden impulse to hide, to shield his own ki while skittering away, circling around to spy in turn on this being who seemed to seek him out. But why bother? If this creature meant him harm, if it meant to kill him, why not just let it happen? Isn't that what he craved, his own death? And if it was bloody and painful, wasn't that what he deserved? No, he wasn't going to hide from this dark force. If nothing else, he would finally assuage the endless curiosity that drove him throughout his existence, both in his happy past and now in his dark despair.
The creature with the powerful life force paused, detecting Houjun's own questing ki. Houjun detected a faint feeling of surprise in the creature before it moved towards him again, more determined than ever to find him. Houjun squinted through the falling rain, trying to see it with his one remaining eye, his vision blurred from the infection raging in the remains of his shattered left eye. He could only make out a dark shape that loomed up before him, towering above him. Houjun blinked, his vision clearing momentarily, long enough to show him that the creature had the shape of a man, a tall man wrapped in a long hooded cloak--yet he could see no face within the hood, only blackness. His heart leapt up in fear, but he again suppressed it, calming his ki into a passive acceptance of his impending death at the hands of this demon.
The demon tilted his head as he regarded the bedraggled form of the young, disfigured man, then suddenly spoke.
"Ri Houjun?" he inquired, his deep voice melodious, almost caressing.
Houjun jumped, startled that the demon would know his name. At that moment, he realized he was facing a man, not a creature of the night. He saw the man's lips curve into a smile below the darkness within the hood, and recognized that the darkness was merely a black mask which covered the man's face from his forehead down to his mouth. Houjun was momentarily ashamed at his fear of a mere mortal but remembered the dark ki emanating from this man. No, this man was no ordinary human, and Houjun would be wise to take care in dealing with him. Not realizing that his survival instincts had manifested themselves again, Houjun gave only a brief nod in acknowledgement of the man's query.
The man smiled again in appreciation of his quarry's wariness, then stooped to look into Houjun's eye. Houjun noted that the eyes behind the mask were strangely pale, a light blue color that shone almost silver, their shifting light compelling him to gaze almost hypnotically into their depths. Houjun recognized that the power sought to dominate him, so he shifted his own ki force slightly, just enough to slip past the stranger's ki in a move reminiscent of the most skilled martial artists. The silvery blue eyes widened again in surprise, then narrowed in amusement.
"Yes," the stranger rumbled in a velvety growl, "you are well worth the time I've spent seeking you out. Your talents are raw and unrefined, but your power is unmistakable. To think that you have achieved such skill with no training, on pure instinct alone...impressive," he breathed. "You are definitely the one."
Houjun's curiosity overcame his wariness. "The one...what?"
The man smiled to see that he had ensnared Houjun's attention. "The one I've been seeking. The one with the potential to make a real and lasting difference in this world. The one to lead an army of magicians against the darkness in this universe."
Houjun's heart leaped up in sudden fierce joy. He knew that his powers had a purpose, he knew that his gifts were leading him to a higher path! He must tell Hikou, he must tease his friend for all the gentle mockery he had suffered through the years...
His mouth suddenly turned down in bitterness. "You have the wrong man," he informed the stranger softly. "I do not fight the darkness; I am part of it. I am nothing more than a common murderer and a half-blind and disfigured one at that. I am not worthy of leading anyone...I am nobody."
He suddenly felt soft hypnotic waves of comfort wafting towards him from the stranger. "Terrible things happen," the melodious voice soothed. "And sometimes we do terrible things, things that we regret. There is not a man worthy of the name who reaches full adulthood without harboring some bitter memories, some secret shame. Should we all then lie down and wait to die? Or should we turn our energies towards atoning for our sins in the most honorable way--by risking our lives and perhaps even our souls for a higher cause?
"What do you think, Ri Houjun? Do you wish to leave this world with your only contribution the taking of another's life? Or do you wish to make a difference in the future of all the people of this world? I warn you, this path is neither easy nor safe, and you may well die in the attempt. You may suffer a painful and lonely death in this war against the forces of Darkness. At the very least, you must leave behind all that you have loved, all that you know--even your own identity, your very self. The choice must be yours, Ri Houjun, and you must make it freely from the heart."
Houjun looked into the eyes of the stranger, a fierce purpose shining out from his one remaining eye. He felt waves of fever overtaking him, beginning to burn him in their fire. "I don't know how much time I have left to live," he whispered hoarsely. "But if the gods choose that I survive, then I wish to commit myself to your cause. I have nothing to lose, no one to miss me, so if I'm fated to die for some higher purpose, then that is the path I choose. I am no one, belonging to no one, so I may as well die in the service of strangers..." His voice trailed off as his eye rolled back and he fainted, his body caught by the stranger.
The tall man lifted the slight figure of the youth, carrying him out of his village for the last time. As they passed, an old woman looked up from a group of survivors huddled around a flickering fire; the same kindly old woman who had bound up Houjun's eye and tried to soothe his despair at the loss of his family and friends. "Where are you taking him?" she quavered, frightened of the dark stranger but trying to defend the gentle boy she remembered from happier days.
The tall cloaked figure turned towards her, the pale glittering eyes behind the mask causing her to shrink back in fear.
"To his future," the deep voice rumbled gently in reply.
Author's Note: (7-12-02) The fact that I'm posting this means that this site has recovered from its long illness! At least for awhile! (does the happy dance) I really have to get to work on designing my own web page, so that I'll be able to post chapters of my fics if and when has other break-downs!
A-ny-way, back to this fic… I finally have the chance to chat about my use of the term "ki" to describe the life force which surrounds all living creatures, a common belief in Asian philosophy (not to mention Star Wars!). I meant to address this issue in "White Stones" but kept forgetting; it sucks to have a mind like a Swiss cheese, kids!
I have studied the Chinese practice of Tai Chi as well as the Japanese martial art Aikido, both of which teach the focusing of this force, which emanates from the lower abdomen. However, in spite of incredible similarities that I have noticed between the Chinese "chi" and Japanese "ki," my aikido sensei assures me that they are two quite different forces that are utilized in different ways. She is not only a fourth degree black belt in aikido, but also holds a black belt in kung fu (Chinese martial art). She explains the difference by demonstrating the way one can punch "through" a line of fifteen people using "chi" (and end up knocking down the last person in line) and saying that this is quite different from "ki." Well, being half-gaijin and an absolute beginner on top of that, I still don't get the difference between the two…but I'm going to just take her word for it. So, for the purpose of this fic (and all my other stories), I will use the term "ki" to describe this life force (the Force to all you would-be Jedi's!). Now, since the Universe of the Four Gods is based loosely on Ancient China, you may wonder why I don't use the Chinese term "chi." That's because in the original Japanese Fushigi Yuugi anime, all the characters speak Japanese (ratings in Japan likely to be fairly low if they spoke only Chinese ) and they (especially Chichiri) call this force "ki." So there! Roku goes canonical for a while.
So if I'm on this canon path here, why do I ignore the events in Chichiri's pre-FY novel "Shouryuu Den"? (except for possibly borrowing the title in later chapters...you'll see). 'Cause I just don't agree with the logic (or lack thereof) of the events depicted in that novel, that's why. (Lightning strikes Roku, who subsequently blows out a puff of black smoke.) Look, it just doesn't make sense to me that Chichiri would continue on whatever path he took after the deaths of Kouran and Hikou, then suddenly, three years later, decide to commit suicide in grief over those events. And all those "look-alike" people who could be twins to Kouran and Hikou? Lame, really lame. Especially since he reaches some sort of peace with their memories, a peace that is oddly non-existent at the beginning of OVA 2. I also think that they make Chichiri appear to be somewhat of a dim bulb in having him travel around with Nyan-Nyan for 3 years, and only notice at the end of three years that she hasn't aged from approximately seven to ten years of age. (dodges another lightning bolt) Hey, sorry, folks, but my interpretation of Chichiri doesn't depict him as the least bit stupid…maybe a little passionate and impulsive in his youth, but certainly not dim!!
So to those of you who get incredibly annoyed at my tendency to wander in and out of the canon pathway at my whim (winks at Chao-chan), I can only say…prepare to be hugely annoyed! Or just accept this as an Alternative Universe fic that ties in closely with the Chichiri of "White Stones" and eventually returns to the canon anime. Oh, oh, oh, I forgot to mention: I'm also taking a detour from Nakago's Gaiden novel and changing a few events in that story, too - and I don't even know the plot of Tamahome's Gaiden novel, so it's unlikely that I'm going to stick to canon there, either. (Chao-chan begins tearing at her hair, while Roku grins unrepentantly.)
Now, in the next chapter, prepare to meet…The Doctor! (No, not Mitsukake.) The great majority of you don't know him, but don't be intimidated by this fact; he is utterly charming, and if you don't love him as much as I do by the end of this story, then I will have failed in my attempt to write an absorbing crossover. Time will tell, ne? Until next time…