When a Master summons, a Shikigami must obey.
DEDICATED TO: Manon. She knows why^_~
by Ariss Tenoh
I feel the summons and the power inherent in it before I can even hear the words themselves.
It's fortunate that I am always alone and left alone. It makes these summonses easier. No one notices them.
Except perhaps the annoying Palace itself. But even he.. No, IT knows its function and duties as a Shikigami and a place of residence well enough to remain silent.
Its silence is further ensured by the fact that we serve the same Master.
As the last words of the summoning fade away, I feel the power behind them attempting to swallow my being whole.
Black flames erupt from the ground and slither toward me, snaking up my legs and arms and enveloping me completely.
The last thing I see before the flames reach my face is the moon's light falling on one particularly large blooming lilly at the water's edge.
I cannot help but think how the light turns the lilly's pink colour into a dark shade of red.
Almost like blood.
Darkness, painful sensual heat, and a rushing sound of displaced air assault me before I disappear from the stone path near the lilly pond where I was standing just moments ago......
....... Coils of black flames slide away from my body and dwindle into small wisps which gradually melt into the darkness of the room.
I am kneeling on the floor of a private suite of chambers in the Palace. My head is lowered in respect and my eyes downcast.
I do not worry about being in such a vulnerable position because I know who these chambers belong to. They are always sealed unless their owner has come to stay in them.
The word is at once a name, an invitation, and a command that warns of the consequences of disobedience.
There is only one reply to such a word and I utter it in a clear firm but deferential tone.
There is a time when familiarities are allowed, and even encouraged, by the man sitting before me. Now is not the time for them.
I lift my eyes to look at him.
He is seated in an armchair. One leg delicately poised over another, body set in a languid manner, head tilted slightly back and so exposing the long column of his neck, chin resting on the back of one hand, a small smile on his lips.
His entire posture screams of dignified debauchery and predatory grace.
I take in the little details that tell me he has been waiting for my arrival.
The high collar of his outer robe is open. Three buttons are freed from their holes. The heavily brocaded silk of his robe nearly slides off one shoulder, revealing an expanse of white skin that stretches across his shoulder, neck, and chest. All that skin seemingly made paler by the light of the paper lamp which stands tall near his armchair.
It is the only light in the room. The faint light pools around his figure in a malformed circle. His eyes catch the light and they glitter like the sharp facets of cold amethysts.
Those violet eyes are very.. arresting.
I am broken out of this spell by the hand extended to me. The smooth expanse of that palm ignites an acute need in me for its touch.
I rise to my feet and glide silently toward him. Just before I reach him, I slip gracefully to my knees in the same instant that my hand touches his.
He gazes at me for an endless moment.
Why? He always does this when he comes. Does he think my appearance would change with time? The way it is with humans? I may have a human form, but it is only that. A form.
I will always remain in the prime of my strength, youth, and beauty. Time has no hold over ME. A Shikigami, a Spirit God.
Neither will it ever affect my Master.
His hands move slowly to the sides of my face. A subtle burst of power..
And the restraining visor falls to the hard floor, a mere echoing sound in the room.
Another clink as my "hand-guards" are dropped on the floor.
I wonder if the Golden Emperor knows that they can be removed by a person other than himself. Seemingly a human at that. I resist the urge to let out hysterical laughter. Whatever my Master may be, I KNOW he isn't a mere pathetic human.
He leans back into his armchair and fixes me with an intent look.
He is waiting, and patience was never a virtue of his.
Suddenly, I gasp.
Through my narrowed eyes, I can see expectation roiling behind his calm eyes, making them dark and somehow volatile.
The unrestricted flow of my power as it rushes back through me, like a river long held behind a dam, renders me weak and I slump on the floor on my hands and knees.
A strong hand grips my jaw and forces me to look up.
Tsuzuki's smile is wide and predatory.
I am immediately reminded of the powerful being that my Master is.
"You have such beautiful eyes, Touda. Like bloodied rubies." His low deep voice sounds very loud in the dark room.
A wry chuckle. "I can almost understand Muraki's obsession with my eyes."
Muraki. The human doctor who is not quite human.
The only other being my Master has shown his true self to besides myself.
I am not jealous. I don't believe it's an emotion I'm capable of.
But I... dislike sharing.
He pulls me up and into his lap. A sharp awareness of my claws enters my foggy mind as I grasp his shoulders to straddle him, along with the knowledge of the cascade of black trailing down my back that my hair has become.
The kiss is bruising, passionate, deep, and as close as two beings can become without joining bodies. It's followed by sharp bites, soothing licks, and an unspoken demand for more.
"Bed," Tsuzuki says a bit breathlessly.
Now that is a command I am always pleased to hear from him.....
...... My Master takes great delight in undressing me. I am not vain, but I like feeling like a precious item being unwrapped for his admiration.
I lie on my stomach and watch him. My elbows and the backs of my hands support my head, my hair flows around me in sharp contrast to the white silken sheets, my legs and bare body sprawled along the length of the bed in a pose that is anything but artless.
After all, pleasure comes in many forms.
He's admiring my profile as he undresses standing beside the bed. There is an unconscious grace in his fluid movements, a casual air.
I must admit.. I like watching him too.
He turns to face me and climbs into the large bed... And the world melts away in a maelstrom of sensations.....
...... I raise myself to look into his eyes, my hands on either side of his face... His violet eyes are almost black with desire, a silent command in them...
Power. The greatest mark of it is to hand it to another. Because one is secure in the knowledge that one has more. Trust. The greatest gift one can bestow on another. Because it is often earned, not given. Desire. The greatest compliment one can give one's lover. Because one gaze has more weight, is more eloquent, than any empty words of love.
My lover. My Master.
His hand slips into mine and our fingers intertwine.
I lean down to kiss him deeply before I move and prepare to take him as he has taken me many times before, knowing how much he loves to be given pleasure than being the one giving it.... A third kiss and... Soon, the world seems to spin off its axis again......
..... I am slowly brought back to consciousness by the sensation of a hand running through my hair. I look and see my Master sitting, with a straight back and stiff shoulders, and staring into nothingness. The sheets pool around his waist and I wonder if he isn't cold.
"Tsuzuki," I prompt him knowing it's acceptable to call him by name after we have spent a night together. I can still recall what happened when I did so without his permission.
It was not.. pleasant.
He turns to me. His brown bangs falling slightly forward and obscuring his face. The colour reminds me of that sweet from the human world he is so fond of. But then Tsuzuki is fond of everything with a sweet flavour. Even if it was honeyed poison.
Tsuzuki smiles and tugs me gently over to him. I place my head in his lap and let him continue stroking my hair. I like to be petted, I suspect that is why I get along so well with the Palace's cats since I treat them in a similar way.
Not that I would ever admit to liking it to any living or dead being.
"You are upset," I state.
"I'm not really upset."
I make a disbelieving sound and I hear a chuckle from above.
Silence, then he begins to speak.
"Hisoka is here to find a Shikigami." There is no hint of amusement in his tone.
Ah yes, the human boy who managed to make Sohryu hate him upon first sight. A feat even I have not accomplished.
"You're afraid he'll seek out Kurikara," I say without preamble.
He laughs a bit at my forwardness. "Yes, I don't think there's anything I can do to stop him either."
"He'll learn his lesson if it doesn't kill him first."
The hand in my hair clenches. It hurts a little.
"You know I can't let him die."
He shrugs that disturbing cloud from his thoughts and strokes my hair again. The pain is quickly swept away by his gentle caresses.
I peer at him from the corner of one eye. His face is solemn and he has an air of resigned peace about him.
It is easy to be deceived by Tsuzuki's youthful looks and ever present smile. He carries a burden of other people's expectations, their fear of him, his guilt, and the weight of possessing powers so great that both Enma-Daioh in Meifu and the Golden Emperor in Gensoukai are rumoured to be watching his every move. That is without mentioning the demons who think they can steal his power for themselves. It's not unexpected that he would find a disguise and a means of protecting himself against his enemies, who always seem to be in considerable numbers.
What is unexpected perhaps is how good he is at the illusion he presents to the outer world.
The only flaw in that mask is that he doesn't deceive himself in the process. That is as much a blessing as it is a curse.
I like to believe that is what I am here for.
"It will be all right," I tell him in a quiet voice. Not because I believe it, but because I know that is what needs to be said. And there are too few who can say that to him honestly while still knowing the reality of the situation. Even the Shadow Master doesn't understand the being that is my Master and has chosen to leave him and watch over him from afar.
Yes, I believe that is what I am here for. I meant what I said. No one will harm Tsuzuki while I yet live.
He leans down and kisses my lips softly, gently, as if afraid I would break.
"I really like your eyes." His voice is warm, his expression sincere. He has lost the tension of moments ago.
I feel I should say something. It's an odd sensation. Some inner instinct advises me strongly to say something. And quickly.
"I like yours too." My voice is even lower than usual. Almost a whisper.
Tsuzuki doesn't say anything. He merely looks at me with a blank unreadable expression on his face.
I feel.. vulnerable. Why? It isn't as if I was caught unaware by an enemy. Yet, the sensation is one and the same.
I also have this inexplicable feeling of wanting him to.. to say something. Anything.
What is wrong with me?!
And just as suddenly as my odd feelings emerged, Tsuzuki's face beams with a very happy smile.
"Right! Let's sleep in then. I didn't sleep at all last night and I don't think anyone will mind if I'm a bit late for breakfast," he declares in a voice that is too loud and cheerful for my taste.
Tsuzuki burrows under the covers and snuggles very close to me.
I reach out and hold him in my arms. The action doesn't require thought, it's nearly a reflex.
A part of my mind is disquieted by that observation. I dismiss it. It's only a sign of how physically close I am to my Master, nothing more. Mental and physical responses can be ingrained after repeated exposure to any situation.
That is all it is.
I shift a bit to find a comfortable position on the large bed, I have to do it slowly since Tsuzuki is already asleep. Our naked bodies brush against each other leaving a warm tingling sensation across my body.
I settle back and adjust my hold on him.
Personally, I can think of several people who will be angry, at least annoyed, by Tsuzuki's late awakening.
Sohryu will be angry that Tsuzuki forgot about the meeting at noon, but that isn't anything new. He's always angry for some reason or another. That human boy will be angry too, though more out of concern. And he'll probably get himself into trouble with a keeper as idiotic and childish as Byakko. I wonder if Tsuzuki noticed the way the boy looks at him. The boy doesn't seem to realise it himself. He believes he knows my Master, and it will be a shock when he discovers that he doesn't know Tsuzuki at all. That will be another problem when its time comes. Hopefully, it won't bring more guilt into Tsuzuki's life.
And then there's Suzaku. The fiery Shikigami will think I had murdered Tsuzuki or done something equally sordid to him.
Hmm.. I smirk. Well, perhaps she might be right on that latter assumption. It's extremely satisfying to know that I possess something she will never have. It's fine retribution for the animosity which has only grown from our first meeting decades ago and worsened since the Kyoto incident.
The stupid bird doesn't understand our Master. She only sees what she wants to see. she doesn't see the darkness that is as much a part of his soul as is his irritating willingness to help every person he meets.
If she can't see his darkness, then she can't see his sorrow.
I brush away a strand of brown hair from his face.
I suspect that Rikugou knows about my meetings with Tsuzuki. It's impossible to keep a secret from one who practices the Arts. But he won't say anything, not even to Sohryu. Rikugou understands darkness as he does light, that knowledge is essential to understanding the basis of Yin and Yang and thus to the understanding of the universe as a whole which is what the Arts study and manipulate.
He wouldn't have listened to Tsuzuki's call and agreed to serve him otherwise.
Blood calls to blood, and like calls to like...
I turn to look at the window. The light of false dawn is creeping into the room from beneath the drawn curtains.
My attention returns to Tsuzuki.
I gaze at the being who is my Master. The form of a human, the body of a fast-healing Shinigami, the face of an Angel, the eyes of a Demon, with the powers of twelve Shikigami Gods at his will and command, and a soul so complex it defies definition.
For the first time in eight centuries, I want to sigh.
Because despite it all, I know you simply want to be loved and be able to love in return.
Is it any surprise then that you inspire fervent fascination in me and intense fear in others?
I place a soft kiss on your forehead. A mixture of fondness and exasperation battle for domination in me as I look at you.
You come only occasionally to Gensoukai. The period between each visit stretches longer, and it is only here that we can be together.
Despite what you said...
I fear Tsuzuki, that you will be the one.. to....