Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, ain't making any money.
Author's Note: C&C Welcome
(BTW Tori Kijutsu=Magic Bird. I couldn't find the Japanese word for phoenix)
Archiver's Note: Minor time shifts are denoted by a horizontal rule; Major time shifts by the bar divider.
Chapter 3: Seriyuu's triumph, Suzaku's tears - Part 3
The seven year old slept peacefully. He was sprawled out on the bed, covers jumbled about him. The sunlight shafted in and splashed across his face. Suzaku kneeled beside the bed, rested his chin on his arms and watched him sleep. A small smile tilted the seishi's mouth.
He was probably a pleasant boy. Good mannered and gentle. He should be after growing up with all those girls. The seishi was getting a bit too old to believe however so Suzaku knew he would be invisible unless he decided to change it.
The boys eye opened and the sunlight sparkled in the sleepy amber. Then both eyes shot open and he sat up.
"OH SH--!" Tasuki yelled, " What the hell are ya doin' Shun'u?! Their probably already up! Damn, damn, damn." The boy jumped out of bed and began frantically pulling on his clothes. Suzaku blinked. Well…so much for the good mannered idea.
The eighteen year old god followed Tasuki as the boy bolted from his room at top speed.
"Shun'u!" a woman's voice called, " I know you're awake! Come into my room dear." The fiery haired boy cursed and went to where the voice was. Six females were in the room; gathered about the bed. The phoenix whistled as he saw Tasuki's mother. It wasn't that she was exactly attractive. But the fact that she could stand up without falling over impressed him. He didn't know women came that top heavy.
"Whaddya want Ma?"
"Don't be rude Shun'u. Come here and give your mother a good morning hug."
"Do I hafta?"
"Hai." When he was near enough she reached out and crushed him to her ample chest.
"Good morning my darling little son!" The girls snickered and Suzaku tried to keep the smile from his face. The poor kid. Tasuki muffled something.
"I love you too."
"I CAN'T #)$(# BREATHE!" he shouted finally. His mother let him go and his oldest sister cuffed him in the ear.
"Don't curse in front of Ma Shun'u! That's #)$#( rude!"
"You should talk!"
"Hai, I can talk too. I'm older."
"Hai…older. Ya got the brains of a cow…but you're older. In fact all of ya are so old and ugly the only husbands you're gonna get are desperate ones!"
"You little @ )#()#!" the oldest snapped whacking the boy on the head. Suzaku watched as the girls ganged up on the seishi. Why didn't he do anything? They were just girls. Rather…violent ones…but just girls.
Tasuki finally managed to slip away from his sisters and dashed outside. Suzaku shifted into his mortal form and youthened himself to Tasuki's age. He met the seishi at the edge of the village. The fiery haired boy was sitting, with his back against a tree, gazing up at a mountain.
"Can I join you?" Suzaku asked. Tasuki looked back at him.
"Who are you? Haven't seen you around the village."
"Oh, I'm from another village. I was just passing through."
"Well you can sit down if ya want." Suzaku settled himself next to the seishi and stared at the mountain towering into the air.
"Someday I'm gonna go there."
"Where? The mountain?"
"Hai. Mount. Reikaku, I'm gonna join the bandits."
"'Cause I don't wanna stay here."
"My family is evil…specially my sisters. The sooner I get away from them the better." Maybe making an all girl family for him had been a mistake. Well, he couldn't change it now. They continued to watch the mountain for a while.
"Have you ever heard of the legend?"
"The legend of Suzaku? Hai. Who hasn’t?"
"Supposing you were a seishi…" The fiery haired boy snorted.
"Seishi. That's funny. I hope not."
"If they think I'm gonna go around protectin' some girl they gotta be out of their minds. The less girls the better."
"But this will be a special girl…"
"Hai, hai. She will gain the power of Suzaku and bring peace to the kingdom blah, blah, blah. She's still a (#(#) girl. Do you have any sisters?"
"Well see, you don't know how girls can be. Their mean, vicious and got claws like a @ )$(# tigers, specially when you get in their way."
"What would you do if you were a seishi though?"
"You mean you'd do it anyway?"
"Hell no. I'd stay out of the way until everything was all over."
"But you need all seven seishi to summon Suzaku."
"So what? We don't need peace that badly, there's no way I'm gonna do it."
"But Suzaku chose you…"
"Suzaku can take his ) @ #(# seishi idea and shove it. I ain't gonna do it and he can't make me."
"He could so…if he wanted to."
"Sure…whatever. Just what kind of god is a chicken anyway?"
"That's just what they tell ya. I bet he's just a giant chicken."
"He's a phoenix!"
"Chicken! And so are you! So you're both bird brains!" The eighteen year old god folded his arms. He did not like this seishi. Tasuki was rude, foul mouthed and…and…annoying.
"Hai? Well at least he doesn't get beaten up by girls. Maybe your a girl, I mean after five girls a boy has got to be a mistake."
"Take that back!"
"What are you gonna do if I don’t? Face it, you can't do anything, girly boy." Fire flashed in Tasuki's amber eyes. Then with an angry yell the mortal attacked the god.
"Pinch me will you?!"
"GET OFF MY #%)#(% HAIR! YA FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!"
"LEGGO OF MY LEG!"
"STOP BITING! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? A VAMPIRE?!"
"IF YA BREAK MY @ )$(# ARM I'LL KILL YA!"
"HA! YOU CAN TRY GIRLY BOY!"
"I AIN'T A )#(%)# GIRLY BOY!"
"YOU'RE SO GIRLY YOU'D PROBABLY USE A FAN AS A WEAPON!"
"ITAI! IF I LOSE ANY FEATHERS BECAUSE OF THIS I'M GONNA FRY YOU!"
" FEATHERS?!" The boy collapsed to the ground in a fit of laughter. Suzaku blinked down at him, then realized how stupid that must have sounded and began to chuckle as well. Soon they were both laughing together.
Tasuki stood again, his eyes sparkling.
"Ah…you ain't that bad. Just a little weird. I'm Kou Shun'u."
"Tori Kijutsu. Gomen about the girl thing."
"That's ok. Gomen about the chicken thing. Suzaku is the god of this land so he should be able to kick @ $$."
"Hai. He can."
"I know I ain't a seishi. Maybe you are."
"I know I'm not, but I have the feeling you are."
"Even if I am, I'm not gonna join up with them." The phoenix smiled.
"Hai…maybe so. Remember, even if you don't seek destiny, destiny is going to seek you."
"So what if it seeks me! It's not gonna find me! I'm not gonna do it!"
"If you say so Shun'u. I'd better be going."
"There you are you little )($)#!" Suzaku turned and saw Tasuki's sisters not to far from them. The youngest seemed to be carrying a log. He wondered what she could possibly do with that.
She threw it, with amazing accuracy. It was heading straight for Tasuki's head. Suzaku jumped in the way and caught it. Then he dropped the wood and dusted off his hands.
"See you later," Suzaku said, grinning at the boys shocked expression. Then he walked away.
He wandered through the forest in mortal form for a while, enjoying the sights and sounds. It was fun doing things in mortal form. Sometimes he wished he'd been mortal instead of a god.
On the other side of the mountain were some boys playing in the forest. He could just see the village through the trees. He came closer to watch them and noticed a dark haired boy resting against a tree and watching them. There was a longing look in his eyes.
"Why don't you join them?" Suzaku asked. The boy jumped and looked up.
"Nani? Ano…I'm…I'm new to the village. They don't know me…and they ignore me. So I can't."
" Well you have to announce yourself. Make it so they can't ignore you and invite yourself to join them."
"Do you think it'll work?" The redhead shrugged.
"It couldn't hurt to try." The dark haired boy approached the group.
"Excuse me," he tried, a boy brushed him aside as he ran from another. " Can I…?" He tried asking another boy.
"Hey Boru! Can't catch me!" the boy interrupted. The dark haired boy narrowed his eyes. Then he stalked up to them.
"MOSHI MOSHI!" he shouted. The boys turned to stare at him. " Who are you? I'm Kouji! Kouji! Come join us! Really? Hai! We'd be honored! Well so would I. What are we playin'? Tag. Well then, I'm it!" With that Kouji tagged the nearest boy and ran.
The boys looked at each other, shrugged, and scattered. Suzaku blinked, well…it wasn't exactly what he'd expected. But whatever worked. He'd better be going back before Taiitsukun-sama got suspicious. He went a distance from where the boys were, changed into a phoenix and flew home.
A thin melody rolled through the air. As rough and scratchy as it was, it still had the potential to be beautiful. The five year old sat on the rock, cross legged, his chubby fingers slowly moving along the wooden flute. A nearly identical boy turned cartwheels in the grass.
What a beautiful pair they made. He wasn't sure about their strength yet. He would just have to wait and see. Seriyuu bided his time and watched the two. The song of the flute finally died down. The boy in the grass wrinkled his nose.
"Ugh. That was terrible aniki."
"I'm working on it," the older twin said defensively, " do you know how hard it is to learn this?"
"Are you done learning yet?" Amiboshi sighed heavily.
"Hai. I suppose I am." He slid off the rock and stuck the flute in his belt.
"It's time to fight!" Suboshi said, getting in a defensive posture. Amiboshi matched it and brought his own fists up.
"I get to be the west sanction!"
"You got to be the west sanction last time. It's my turn."
"No, I was the north raiders last time. You were the emperors troops. So it's my turn to be on the good side." Amiboshi frowned in slight confusion.
"But…I thought that the west sanction was the enemy."
"Hai…they were, but Papa said that they went back to the emperor."
"So who's the enemy now?"
"I don't know. I'll be the good guy and you can be the bad ok?" The two boys began to wrestle. The dragon smiled a little, for mortals they were…kind of cute. They were young yet, so it was hard to determine just how strong they were going to be. Although playing war games was a good sign.
The door to a house opened and a woman leaned out.
"Koutoku! Shunkaku! Come in now." she called.
"Coming Mother," Amiboshi said, helping the younger twin to his feet. They raced to the house. Seriyuu followed them, making sure to stay out of their sight.
The twins sat at a table and their mother set bowls of rice before them.
"Guess what Mother, we were playing war an' aniki was the bad guy an' I was winning!"
"That's only 'cause you had more arrows." The woman sighed, shaking her head. "I wish you boys wouldn't play like that."
"Why not?" the twins said together.
"War is horrible and cruel."
"I know!" Amiboshi said with a bright smile.
"It's great Mother. When I grow up I'm gonna be a soldier!"
"We'll be the great warlords of Seriyuu!"
"Hai! Leaving behind a wake of destruction!" The boys laughed and Seriyuu smiled. These would be great warriors without much help. Their mother however, needed to be taken care of. That would be coming along soon. It would make the twins even stronger then they were now.
He could feel a presence behind him, practically breathing down his neck. He rolled his eyes.
"I know you're here Suzaku, you might as well come beside me." There was a soft sound, then his redheaded brother stepped up beside him. " What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to see what Genbu meant. What are you doing with your seishi?"
"For now." Seriyuu grinned at his brother.
"What do you expect me to do birdbrain?" Suzaku didn't answer and instead watched the boys. They were playing beside the table now. The small meal forgotten.
"I am a Seriyuu shichi seishi and you’re a Suzaku shichi seishi," Suboshi said, wielding a chopstick.
"Fine. But next time I want to be the strong one," Amiboshi said, grabbing a chopstick from his bowl. The younger nodded and the two faced off.
"I am a Seriyuu shichi seishi! The god of war! I will destroy you and con…con…take over your land!"
"I am a Suzaku shichi seishi! The god of love! I won't let you! I'll love you to death!" They began to play using the chopsticks as swords. Seriyuu looked at his brothers somewhat annoyed expression and chuckled to himself. He loved these twins.
"I call upon the divine power of Seriyuu to strike you down!" Amiboshi fell to the ground, gasping.
"Oh no. You've…killed me. Suzaku help!" The five year old clambered to his feet, flapping his arms like wings. " I am Suzaku," he said in a deeper voice, " how dare you hurt my seishi!"
"I'm Seriyuu then!"
"You can't do that!"
"Well how come you got to be Suzaku?"
"Cause I died!"
"Fine." Suboshi whacked a hand to his chest and fell. Then he stood again, " I killed myself. There. I can be Seriyuu now."
"Nuh-uh, that's cheating. You have to have one of the Suzaku seishi kill you!"
"But they can't…their weak. Everyone knows that." Amiboshi blinked a bit.
"Hai…but…this is pretend. So pretend one got really really strong all of a sudden and killed you and now you're Seriyuu."
"Ok. I forgot their names though."
"Make one up."
"The Suzaku shichi seishi Doodyhead killed me." The twins giggled.
"Doodyhead," Suzaku muttered, " humph. Real insulting."
"Not insulting birdbrain, accurate."
"Shut up lizard breath. "
Suddenly a man burst into the door. His hair was wild and his breath came out in short, ragged gasps.
"Papa!" the twins cried in one voice. They ran to hug their father who quickly returned it then stood.
"Soldiers," he gasped out, " soldiers are coming near the village."
"Soldiers?" the woman repeated, frightened, " are they…?"
"I don't know."
"Oh soldiers! Can we see? Can we?" Amiboshi asked.
"We'll be good!" Suboshi promised.
"No," the mother said, " you stay in here where it's safe." The adults left the room and shut the door firmly behind them. The twins sighed and went back to their meal.
"They never let us have any fun," Amiboshi said, poking at his cold rice with a chopstick.
"It's too bad," Suzaku said, " I have a feeling there's going to be lot's of death around here soon. If only we could change it. Maybe together…" Seriyuu laughed and shook his head.
"No…I don't think so brother."
"I'm serious. We could combine our powers to do something to turn the soldiers around!"
"Not after I took this much effort to bring them here."
"What? But…but why?" Seriyuu didn't answer. His brother would never understand. He didn't feel up to explaining his logic to the stubborn phoenix. Instead he listened to the world outside.
He could hear the thunder of hoof beats and the clinking of the armor. The scent of blood was on the air. But the real attack hadn't started, not yet. They had just taken out some guards a few miles away.
"Seriyuu, you can't do this. All those innocents…." The dragon snorted and turned to face his younger brother.
"Innocents? They're not innocents. Innocents are people who have been killed and aren't affected by the outcome. But this is for the seishi and they affect the entire land of Kutou because they protect the miko. So no ones innocent…their casualties."
"Casualties? How can you say that?"
"Very easily." Seriyuu ignored his brother and turned his attention outside again. They were coming into the village. He could hear the screams, the soft hiss of metal as it slid through flesh. The twins heard the noise too. Instead of being afraid however, they were curious. They leaned against the door, pressing their ears against it. Seriyuu lifted his hand. Suzaku grabbed his wrist.
"What are you doing?"
"Unlocking the door," he said simply.
"If you unlock it, they'll go outside!"
"But if they go outside, they'll be killed."
"No they won't. I won't let them."
"They'll see it though. All the…the death that's happening. Even…even maybe their own family.
"What are you trying to do to them?"
"Make them strong." The dragon jerked his wrist out of his brothers grip and used his chi to unlock the door.
~You can open it now~ he told them.
"I think it's open! Do you want to go out?" Suboshi asked.
"Hai! We could go out and kill the soldiers!" Amiboshi said.
"It will be our first great victory!"
"The warlords of Seriyuu ride agai…" the twins stopped their battle cry as the door swung open. Bodies already littered the streets. Fires leapt and danced in the air, bathing the twins in a bright orange glow. Soldiers on horseback plowed through the screaming villagers, stabbing into the crowd and blue feathered arrows whizzed through the air.
Their mother turned to them.
"Koutoku, Shunkaku…get back inside!" The black tip of an arrow, blossoming through her chest cut off anything else she was going to say. She collapsed to her knees, then fell, head lolling uselessly to the side.
"Why are you letting them see this?!" Suzaku yelled, there were tears in his voice. Seriyuu sighed, what a cry baby.
"To make them stronger you idiot."
"Their just children."
"Their not children, their Seriyuu shichi seishi."
"They were children. Why did you have to take it from them?"
"Sacrifice brother. In order to be strong they can't be children."
"Sacrifice isn't necessary."
"Don't give me that! Everything requires sacrifice. Even you're precious love!"
"No! Love isn't like that! You wouldn't know!"
"Hai, maybe I wouldn't. But what about when we have to give our powers to the miko? What's that?"
"I see no difference."
"Taiitsukun-sama said you couldn't interfere with them!"
"I'm not doing a thing. I'm having their own do it for me."
"Well…like you said…she said you couldn't interfere with them! She said nothing about me." The dragon scowled at having his own words thrown back at him. He stomped up behind the twins and arched his hands over them. He closed his eyes and concentrated.
He felt energy leave him. He dropped his hands and stepped back.
"What did you do to them?"
"I've infused them with chi so powerful that if you even touch them you'll be blown back to Mount. Taikyoku." It was a temporary power and would soon drain off. It would also help protect them from any stray soldiers and his idiot brother.
A cold rain had begun to fall, killing the fires. The streets were silent. The only sound was the tap of the rain. So many were dead. The entire village had been wiped out. Including a few of the soldiers as well.
Seriyuu smiled. That's what he loved about the emperor of Kutou. So easy to control. Just take away a few of his pleasures. A woman here, gold there and he was as easy to lead as a child.
"A…aniki," Suboshi's quiet voice drifted through the rain.
"Do you think we should wake Mother and Papa up? They're going to be cold in the rain."
"I think we should let them rest." Amiboshi started to leave but Suboshi didn't budge. Instead he looked at his brother through the rain. His blue gray eyes watering.
"But they'll be all alone aniki. We can't…we can't leave them all alone," his voice was high pitched and his lower lip trembled.
"No…see? They're together. They're lying side by side. They'll never be alone since they have each other."
"Who do I have?"
"Wo ai ni, aniki," the younger cried, burying his face in his brothers shoulder.
"Wo ai ni," Amiboshi whispered. A single tear that could have easily been rain, rolled down his face and landed on his brothers hair. They were entirely dependent on each other now, they needed no one else. The dragon changed into his beast form and headed back to Mount. Taikyoku.
The melody lifted in the air despite the rain. It was a slow sad tune, and nearly flawless. The five year old sat in the shelter of an abandoned hut a few miles from the village. His brother was sleeping inside, wrapped up in a moth eaten blanket.
Suzaku watched the boys fingers pick out the tune. He was crying with his music. Tears streamed down his young face, but the tune was unbroken. The music slowly faded out and Amiboshi looked over his shoulder at the younger twin.
"Shunkaku? Are you asleep?" he asked quietly. When no answer was forthcoming, the five year old stood up, put the flute in his belt and went out in the rain. Suzaku followed him. The boy looked around, as if he was lost. Then stumbled blindly in the direction of the village. He wiped at his eyes.
"You've got to stop Koutoku," he murmured to himself, " you can't cry now. You have to find some food. Shunkaku can't live without food and neither can you. But…but where is it?" The seishi went on through the rain, tripping over unseen rocks and exposed roots. He fell, hands and knees into the mud. He pushed himself into a sitting position and sniffled, wiping at his nose.
"I don't know where to go. How do I find food? Oh great Seriyuu help me," he whimpered, then burst into tears. Suzaku could do nothing. As much as he wanted to help him…or at least comfort him…he could do nothing. He spread his wings over the young seishi, protecting him from the pounding rain.
He didn't care if he was one of Seriyuu's seishi. It didn't matter. He was so young. Too young. The boys sobs died as the rain did. Suzaku folded his wings. The small boy brought his knees up to his chin and wrapped his arms around them. The look in his eyes much too old for his face.
Suzaku came in front of him and knelt so he was level with him. Amiboshi's eyes widened and he scooted back.
"Wh…who are you?!"
"Shhh. It's all right. Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you." The boy eyed him suspiciously a moment. Suzaku calmly watched him. Relaxing himself as to appear non threatening.
"I'm Tori Kijutsu. Who are you?
"I saw what happened to your village." The boy wrapped his arms around himself again and looked at Suzaku.
"Why'd they do that?"
"It's war," the phoenix answered simply.
"War did this to us?"
"I don't like war then! Not anymore. It's mean and bad and ugly. Everyone should stop it 'cause it hurts families like us."
"It doesn't work that way."
"Why not?" The redhead shrugged.
"Human nature I guess."
"Well I'm going to stop. I hate it!"
"Hai…so do I. But you might have to fight again."
"No! I won't!"
"Even against a Suzaku seishi? Your enemy?"
"I won't fight!"
"Not even for what you believe in?" The boy was silent for a long moment. Then he sniffled.
"No. 'Cause no one would listen anyway."
"You can't think that. You can't give up hope."
"How can I have hope? My mother isn't even here to hug me anymore…." Amiboshi began to cry again. Suzaku winced. He wished he could help him. He wished he could hold him. But if he did…Seriyuu's chi would…would what? It would hurt…but it wouldn't kill him. He didn't care. Pain was a part of life.
He wrapped his arms around the boy and pulled him close. Blue chi flared around the small seishi and pushed painfully against him. Suzaku refused to let go. The chi enveloped him then. Surrounding him in it's blue light, tearing inside of him, painfully stealing his own energy. He let it.
The boy soon quieted in his arms and his deep, gentle breathing told that he was asleep. Suzaku lifted him from the mud and half stumbling carried him back to the hut. He set Amiboshi beside his brother, as if sensing each other's presence the twins snuggled up to each other, Suboshi reaching out to drape the blanket over his aniki.
The phoenix was weak. His wings hung limply and he could barely stumble out the door. That had hurt, and the blue chi still seethed around him. He walked away as best he could. Soon the energy that kept him in man form was gone and he collapsed to the ground as a phoenix. He wouldn't be able to make it back to Taikyoku. Not for a day or two at least. But he couldn't stay out here, in his present form, anyone could see him…and it hurt too much to be alone.
~Help. Please?~ he called to Byakko. There was nothing for a long while and Suzaku was a little afraid that his brother wouldn't answer. Then he felt gentle teeth in the back of his neck and the ground fell from him. He felt ashamed. He couldn't even fly he was so weak. Byakko sent him gently on a cloud then lay down beside him.
~What did you do to yourself little one? You're a mess.~
~I was just trying to help,~ Suzaku whispered. The tiger curled around him. Then reached over and licked the top of his head affectionately.
~You care too much little one.~
~You won't tell Seriyuu will you?~
~Of course not.~
~Gomen nasai Byakkie-kun, I just….~
~Sh. You need rest. Sleep now and I'll get…I'll get…the…bra…Nyan-nyan in the morning.~ Suzaku rested his head against his brothers flank.
~Wo ai ni, Byakkie-kun.~
~Wo ai ni, you moron, wo ai ni.~
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