Warnings: Spoilers for the entire Fushigi Yuugi series. Serious Angst. Incest. Character death.
Disclaimer: Fushigi Yuugi belongs to Yuu Watase. I’m just playing. Archive: Ask me first!
Summary: A take on Amiboshi and Suboshi’s relationship Feedback: Constructive criticism much appreciated at Feedback
Many thanks to Jeanne for a thoughtful, thorough and speedy beta! This story is dedicated to the hope of seeing your next column soon.
Glossary: Suzaku/ Seiryuu no Miko = Priestess of Suzaku/Seiryuu Suzaku/ Seiryuu Shichiseishi/ seishi = Suzaku/ Seiryuu’s guardian
Aniki = Elder brother
Suboshi was almost always on top. Amiboshi didn’t mind. How could he? At the moment he had his legs wrapped around his brother’s waist as Suboshi pushed into him. He was making the most wanton noises in response to the slow half-pain-half-pleasure of being split open in this manner. Amiboshi knew his twin loved the soft moans and sighs warm against his ear and the feeling of Amiboshi’s nails on his back.
How many times had they done this? Suboshi couldn’t remember. It felt as natural as breathing to him. Even the first time…neither of them had been surprised. He felt his aniki push against him, an unspoken signal to begin, and started moving. In this, as in so many other things, they never needed words. Muscles flexed and shifted under moon-dappled skin as the twins rocked, the zebra stripes of light and shadow blurring as they moved faster, closer and closer to the edge.
Suboshi caressed his brother’s length firmly; one long stroke from base to crown and Amiboshi arched, crying out helplessly. The younger boy held still as his aniki shuddered his way through release, then began to move again. Short, hard movements and suddenly he was coming too. He collapsed onto Amiboshi and lay still, panting hard. Their warm breath mixed with the sultry, fragrant air of a summer night in Kutou and swirled out through the open window. They had been sleeping in the room for over a month. Both boys, perpetual nomads, were getting itchy feet.
Suboshi said what they were both thinking.
“Why hasn’t he called us yet?”
“Nakago-sama will tell us what to do when the time comes,” Amiboshi replied, even though he was beginning to wonder as well.
“We’ve been twiddling our thumbs for weeks now. What is he waiting for?” Suboshi twitched irritably.
An exasperated sigh. “You know what. We need Seiryuu no Miko before we can do anything. Get off me, it’s too hot.”
“I don’t trust these people. They look at us like we’re some kind of freakshow,” muttered Suboshi.
“You don’t trust anybody. We have the signs, Suboshi. It’s dangerous to ignore signs from the gods.”
Amiboshi could feel Suboshi’s frustration in his skin. It was difficult to tell it apart from his own complex broth of emotions. Their feelings often leaked through like that. It was giving him a headache but he could understand even though he didn’t feel the same. He was apprehensive of the future, unsure of their roles in Nakago’s grand plan, just like Suboshi. But there was something else. At the bottom of his little brother’s heart was the need to start moving again. Suboshi had always been like that.
Aniki, I’m bo-o-o-o-ored!
Wait, you’ll see it soon.
Aw, I bet it isn’t that great. Let’s go on - I heard there’s a miracle worker in the next village.
Sometimes Suboshi got frustrated with him. Why don’t you ever want to try anything new? he would say. The truth was, Amiboshi really didn’t care, as long as they were together. When their village burned down he had realized, cowering in the forest with Suboshi, that the only thing he had was the dirty, frightened little boy in his arms. A gust of wind disturbed the air in the room. Suboshi shivered a little, the sweat drying on his skin, and Amiboshi reached down and pulled the cotton sheet over them. They lay touching at random points, Suboshi’s leg flung over one of his brother’s ankles and Amiboshi’s hand stroking his little brother’s hair. Suboshi nestled closer, his head on his twin’s chest, the steady heartbeat under his ear lulling him to sleep.
Weeks passed in the palace of Kutou and the weather grew steadily hotter. Finally, the boys were summoned into the presence of the shogun Nakago. The next day a brown-haired boy was seen leaving the palace. Another youth remained.
Some tribes in Hokkan country believe that twins are the physical manifestation of a single soul split in half. What would you do if half of you was suddenly taken away?
Seiryuu no Miko was the most beautiful girl Suboshi had ever seen. In the moment they were given to take each other’s measure he had time enough to marvel at her smooth, butter-yellow hair, her small elegant features and the soft white skin of her indecently exposed legs. Then she opened her mouth.
“This boy is a Seiryuu Seishi?”
Her comments became steadily more insulting till Nakago cut in:
“Suboshi, Lady Yui is in a foul mood.”
Nakago explained the plan in his deep, calm voice: one of the twins was infiltrating the Konan camp by claiming to be the seventh Suzaku Shichiseishi, Chiriko. He would gain their trust, remaining in constant communication with Kutou through his link with his twin, and then sabotage the Konan ruler’s attempt to call their god.
Suboshi was secretly in awe of Nakago; it was the shogun’s respectful treatment of the girl that convinced Suboshi to keep a tight rein on his temper. Aniki would have been proud of him. He demonstrated the way his bond with his brother worked, pulling up his sleeve to show them the characters that suddenly appeared on his arm, manifesting themselves as his brother wrote on his own arm many miles away.
Now he lay on his bed in his suddenly too-large room as shadows crawled up the walls, and wondered what his brother was doing. He wondered why Nakago had picked Amiboshi to go instead of him. Suboshi was by far the more adventurous of the two. His brother had accepted his orders with the calm that was his trademark. Suboshi would have been trembling with excitement in his place. Ah well…
A sly smile spread over his face and he closed his eyes, focussing his mind intently. There was more than one advantage to having a psychic link with your brother. He pulled his tunic up with one hand and stroked the soft skin between his navel and groin with the other. Miles away, in Konan country, Amiboshi yelped and excused himself hastily from Suzaku no Miko’s puzzled presence. He hurried back to his room, torn between laughter and exasperation at his younger brother. Idiot. You never could wait for anything.
Suboshi licked his lips and rubbed the aching flesh between his legs with the palm of his hand. It was almost too easy to imagine that it was Amiboshi doing this to him. They were identical almost to the calluses on their hands, the way their hair fell over their eyes. A phantom touch ghosted over his nipples and he smiled. Took you long enough, aniki.
He raised his hips and pushed his trousers down and off. With a sigh of relief he drew his legs up and spread them wide. He stroked and caressed himself with experienced fingers, not hard and fast, as he preferred, but in the languid manner that usually pleased his brother. Amiboshi panted and gasped, running his hands feverishly over his chest, content to let Suboshi pleasure both of them. He tensed, his body as taut as a bowstring, and then relaxed, reveling in the boneless satiation that came with climax. He could sense Suboshi’s contentment at the back of his mind.
He really should rouse himself to pick up brush and ink and give Suboshi something to tell Nakago. Amiboshi didn’t want to. It was easy to justify it by telling himself that there wasn’t anything new to report but-
When he and Suboshi had first come to the court of Kutou, he had been hard-pressed not to spoil his brother’s joy at the opulence and splendor surrounding them. The sudden luxury had been a pleasant surprise but it could not compensate for the decay Amiboshi saw all about him. The sickly-sweet smell of perversion seemed to permeate the entire palace. Everywhere, expensively perfumed courtiers in silk performed little dances of treason and flattery lifelessly, as though jerked about by strings. Nakago shone in that setting – hard and cold like a sharp knife among rotting fruit. He seemed the only hope for Kutou and Amiboshi had been only too happy to admire him, obey him, believe him when he said the defeat of Konan was essential to their country’s welfare.
And now he was at another court. It came with the usual self-serving nobles and fawning courtesans and yet… He liked Miaka and the Suzaku Shichiseishi, naïve and occasionally foolish though they were. He was trying his best to resist affection for the woolly-headed Suzaku no Miko, muddling along as well as she could, trying her best to do what was right. Hotohori was certainly a damn sight more regal than the emperor of Kutou was. A lot more well intentioned as well. It was a novelty, seeing a ruler whose subjects were not afraid to approach him to ask for justice. Just the day before, watching Hotohori hold open court with plaintiffs, he had caught himself wishing for such an atmosphere in his own country.
In short, he was coming to doubt everything Nakago had told him.
The day for the ceremony to summon Suzaku came closer and closer. Preparations reached a feverish pitch in Konan court. In Kutou a priestess and her general were pleased. They might not have been nearly so sanguine had they known of their spy’s doubts.
Suboshi could feel his brother suppressing some strong emotion constantly. It worried him but he had faith in his brother. With justification it seemed– the trait of loyalty ran strongly in the twins. Despite his misgivings Amiboshi carried out his part flawlessly, sabotaging the ritual and crippling Miaka’s guardians. Of course, neither he nor Nakago had counted on the real seventh Shichiseishi turning up.
With his assassination attempt foiled, Amiboshi had no choice but to run. If he had been able to get away cleanly, he might have been able to retreat and lick his wounds, let his resentment fester till it overpowered any other feelings he might have had for Suzaku’s warriors. Instead, trapped between a swollen river and Tamahome and Tasuki, he had to hear Miaka out:
“Stop it! You don't need to hurt anyone! Your tunes are lovely, aren't they? You can use them to cheer and comfort! You don't have to play the flute in cruelty!”
As he was swept away down the river, he heard Miaka call his name despairingly. The chaos of the monsoon induced floods pushed him under the surface of the water and he knew nothing more.
In Kutou, Suboshi screamed as half of his soul was suddenly excised.
Alchemists know only too well that phosphorus explodes when not kept in water. Many natural substances are dangerous without the calming influence of their complements. It is sometimes that way with people as well.
Suboshi jumped off his horse. This must be the place. He could hear the high voices of children, slightly muffled by the thick mud walls. He gripped his weapon more firmly and walked towards the open door.
Most of Tamahome’s siblings were playing on the floor. One was chopping vegetables to throw in a steaming pot of water. Young faces looked up in surprise, laughter dying on their lips. In the corner, an elderly man started to rise from his bed with a politely puzzled expression on his face.
“Can I help you?”
A humorless smile stretched Suboshi’s lips and exposed his sharp teeth. Something in his expression must have warned them – the oldest boy raised his knife defensively and moved in front of his brothers and sisters.
A noble gesture. Amiboshi would have been touched and ashamed. His aniki would have killed himself before doing this. His aniki was dead because he would have killed himself before doing this. Only Suboshi was left and he didn’t intend to let his brother die unavenged. By killing small children and an invalid? The thought was easily pushed aside by the blue haze of revenge and anger that had dominated him since his twin’s death. He raised his weapon and moved forward.
It took surprisingly little time. The eldest boy first, the one with Tamahome’s grey eyes. He broke his wrist with one hand and snapped his neck with the other. The other children began to scream in high, mindless voices. Tamahome’s father lunged at him. The old man was even easier to kill. Then he disposed of the other children, quickly and painlessly. He wasn’t a complete monster.
In Sailo country, a young boy named Kaika finished his evening meal and wished his parents good night. It had been a good day. He and his father had managed to sell almost all their produce at the local market. They were planning to use their profits to plant even more varieties of herbs the next season. He opened the window in his room and the warm air brushing his face caused a tide of memory to wash the shores of his consciousness and then recede, frustratingly, before he could quite remember.
There was really no reason for him to feel this unease, this sinking feeling of guilt in his stomach. It almost seemed at times that he was feeling the emotions of two different people. Kaika was sure it had to do with his past. If he could only remember what he had been, what he had done before washing up on the shores of this village and being taken in by his foster parents.
The music sometimes helped. Kaika raised his flute to his lips and played softly, so as not to wake his “parents.” Glimpses of another life flickered behind his eyelids and disappeared before he could make sense of them. Even more disturbing were some of the dreams he had. He saw himself making love to…himself. What kind of sickness was in him that he would imagine something like that? What kind of pervert had a dream lover who was a mirror image of himself?
He played until his fingers trembled with fatigue and he could no longer avoid falling asleep. Falling with a sense of relief into the arms of his phantom lover.
The saga of the two gods and their respective warriors continued without Amiboshi, ranging over many months across the entire continent, from Konan to Kutou to Hokkan. And finally to Sailo, where Miaka came across a boy with a familiar face.
The name sent a jolt through Kaika.
Suboshi? The word breached the walls of his forgetfulness and he was inundated with images and memories. I am Amiboshi, Seiryuu Shichiseishi. Suboshi…brother!
It was a struggle to remain impassive, to not betray the fact that he remembered, but he managed it. He had already once been forced into a battle he didn’t want to fight. If pretending not to remember would give him more options this time, he had no compunctions about lying. Even though he so desperately wanted to beg Miaka for news of his brother. The emotions at the back of his mind worried him. What had happened to Suboshi after Amiboshi had disappeared? So much hate… Amiboshi watched her as she lay in bed, recovering from…whatever had happened to her. He had a fairly good idea what that was but if she didn’t want to talk about it then it was only fair that he honor that unspoken request. Besides…he had a nasty feeling that Nakago and the Seiryuu Seishi were involved. He didn’t know if he could handle the knowledge that a man he had once admired so greatly had caused the changes he saw in Miaka. And he didn’t want to give substance to the queasy fear that his brother had been involved somehow.
Miaka’s round face had thinned slightly and her cheekbones seemed more pronounced. She was quieter. But the biggest change was not physical. She was not bitter; she could never be that but… She’s tragic, somehow. As though someone has forcefully pushed her face into the ugliness of the world. Please, let it not be the Seiryuu Seishi who did this to her.
Inside his head thoughts whirled and spun and chased themselves as he kept his silence. On the second day, Miaka said she felt better and went out into the herb garden at the back of the house. Amiboshi decided to join her some time later. She didn’t hear him walking to the tree under which she was sitting. He could see her profile as she stared vaguely over the gate. The wind blew strands of brown hair across her face and she pushed them back absently.
If he hadn’t been watching her so closely, he would have missed it. In the space of a moment, her back tensed and her shoulders hunched as if she were preparing to face an attacker. In the next minute, she recognized his voice and calmed, turning with the patented genki-
“Are you ok?”
“Yes…how could I not be with your mother stuffing me with such good food?”
“Let’s go in then.”
They walked back to the house.
It was the flinch that decided Amiboshi. Miaka had reacted instinctively like a scared animal that’s been hurt before. If she’s here alone and the Suzaku Seishi aren’t beating the door down yet, it must mean she doesn’t want to go back. Or can’t. In any case, I don’t want to let her go. She’ll only get hurt again and I couldn’t bear that. And maybe without the Suzaku no Miko, there won’t be a war after all.
So he made his offer to her. “Drink this and you will forget,” he said. “Stay here with me.” I care about you. She stared at the bowl in his hands and he could see she was tempted.
“Forget? About Nuriko and everyone and Yui and…forget about the man that still loves me after all that's happened... forget about Tamahome!”
There was a light in her face again. She refused, shaking her head, moving back and away from him. He broke down; he was so tired of pretending to her.
“Why?” he asked her. “Why?”
She listened to his half-incoherent questions and her eyes widened. “You've remembered! But why did you pretend that you forgot everything?”
He flushed slightly as he explained.
“I tried to kill myself that time.”
He told her more than he had ever told anyone about himself. About the civil war that had killed his parents and left him and his brother to fend for themselves. That Nakago had said that Konan intended to summon Suzaku to conquer the world. How he didn’t want any more wars and so had to fight against Miaka and her warriors. How at the river’s edge he had realized his mistake:
“When I was cornered at the river... I thought that if I died, it would be impossible to summon Seiryuu. If that happened, no big wars would be fought. No one would get caught in the battles. No child would feel the same loneliness my brother and I experienced.” He demanded fiercely, “Don't you think all battles are pointless, Miaka? Don't you think so?!”
She hesitated and he pressed his advantage.
“If so, stay here! That way, there'll be no battles...and nobody will gain the power that lies in Seiryuu and Suzaku.”
Amiboshi was panting slightly by now; his chest seemed squeezed in a vice that would only loosen if she agreed.
Miaka wouldn’t listen. Battered and beaten down as she was, she had no intention of giving up.
“I don't want to live as a coward who ran away from her responsibilities just because a task seemed improbable, or impossible.”
The pain in his chest throbbed fiercely as he looked at her. She was focussed on his face, her brown eyes steady and her mouth firm. Miaka, I’m such a coward. I have been hiding from my own duty. Suboshi, forgive me. I promised to take care of you and instead I forgot you.
Suboshi watched Yui from the shelter of leafy branches. She was sitting at the edge of the river and idly tossing pebbles into the water, unaware that he was watching her from a tree. They were only a few metres away from the rest of the Seiryuu warriors but the thick forest behind them made the spot seem completely isolated from the camp.
Yui was brooding again. Probably thinking up creative ways to hurt Suzaku no Miko. An activity of which he approved entirely. Though he did wish she’d think of other things once in a while – like him.
Pull the other one, Suboshi. She’s hardly even aware you exist. And yet he loved her now, with the same blind devotion he had shown only to Amiboshi. The way she sat, shoulders hunched, head bent and her nape exposed…It made him want to jump down and comfort her, stroke her back and assure her that he would never betray her.
He knew exactly when he had begun feeling this way. After his brother’s death she had been the only person to comfort him. The trait of loyalty ran strongly in the twins. Suddenly his head snapped up. He could feel…Aniki? It can’t be!
He slipped down silently from the tree and began to run.