Categories > Anime/Manga > Yami no Matsuei


by Macx_Larabee 0 reviews

part of the Darkness Unleashed series. Just how did Tsuzuki find Byakko and win against him? This is our take on it. Rating for violence and Tsuzuki and Byakko ouchies...

Category: Yami no Matsuei - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Byakko, Tsuzuki - Published: 2006-11-05 - Updated: 2006-11-05 - 3808 words - Complete

West West
by Macx

The canyon was deep, but not too deep to keep out the sun. It still reached down to where the river meandered, continuing its eternal task of forging its path deeper into the rock. Grass grew in abandon, trees loomed high overhead, and there were all kinds of flowers, bushes and whatnot. Insects buzzed around, there was the sound of birds, and the quiet noise of the water in the background made for a relaxing scene.
Tsuzuki Asato, while appreciating the setting, had no patience or eye for the serenity. Part of him enjoyed the place, but another, much bigger part was on a mission. What he was aware of was his 'baby-sitter' and impartial judge. The white-robed shikigami following him with a respectful distance between them, was silent. He was a Divine Commander, one of the highest shikigami, as had been explained to Tsuzuki upon his arrival, and he would be watching and make sure that any challenge would be executed the correct way.
Tsuzuki sighed. As if there was a wrong way to challenge a shikigami. Well, first of all he had to find one, which was proving to be difficult. He had spent a day at the huge observatory and the adjoining palace in the company of a shikigami called Rikugo, getting his 'type matched'. Wakaba had explained the procedure to him and he understood that to gain a matching guardian spirit he needed to know what kind suited him.
The result had been a bit strange. Rikugo had done it twice and the expression in the astrologer's face had been... perplexion.
"The oracle tells me you are suited for all four kinds of elements," the blond had told him and Tsuzuki hadn't understood the confusion.
He was a match to them all. So what? Sounded great to him. He didn't really have to worry then.
"But your primary types are wind and earth shikigami, the protective ones," Rikugo had gone on.
Wind and earth. Good. Something to work with. So Tsuzuki had gone out onto his quest to find a suitable shikigami. And the faceless Divine Commander following him would make sure everything was done correctly.
Taimo, Tsuzuki reminded himself. He was called Taimo and was a magician. Like Rikugo he was an earth type, but Tsuzuki could hardly challenge either of the two.
Stopping at a clearing, Tsuzuki's eyes fell on something moving lazily in the sun. He narrowed his eyes and suddenly felt a trickle of elation.
A shikigami! Yes!
White glinted in the sunlight and there were dark stripes running through the silvery whiteness. The shape became clearer and he looked at a tiger. A white tiger with red eyes. Tsuzuki's smile grew as he watched the cat lazily bathe in the warmth of the sun.
Cool. A tiger. A shikigami tiger.
His first challenge.
He would get a shikigami.
Tsuzuki stepped out onto the clearing before Taimo had reached him.
Red eyes in a feline face met violet ones. The tiger flicked an ear and stood.
Tsuzuki felt something inside of him vibrate with the coming challenge.
"My name is Tsuzuki Asato," he introduced himself. "You're a shikigami, right?"
The tiger looked left, then right, then at Tsuzuki again. "You're talking to me?" he asked, the voice a pleasant dark tone.
"Yes. You're a shikigami?"
"Eh, yes."
"Then I challenge you!"
The tiger froze, his eyes widened, then swiveled to meet the invisible eyes of Taimo who had just arrived.
"Uh, what?" he blurted.
"I challenge you. You fight against me and if I win you become my shikigami!"
Taimo made a strangled noise and stepped closer. "Tsuzuki..."
"What? What's wrong?"
Tsuzuki couldn't see anything in the blackness that was Taimo's face, but somehow he had the image of a rather dumbstruck Taimo looking at him.
"You challenged him?" Taimo clarified.
"Yes. He's a shikigami and it's what I came here for."
The tiger had sat down on his haunches, clearly baffled. "Taimo?"
"Has he challenged you, Byakko?"
"He did, but..."
"Then it is a challenge," the magician announced.
"But..." the white tiger tried again.
"Byakko, those are the rules."
Tsuzuki watched the conversation, not clear why this was such a problem.
"But... I can beat him with a paw behind my back!" Byakko protested.
Tsuzuki felt something inside of him sizzle. Affronted, he stepped forward, violet eyes narrowing.
"I'm not weak!" he said, voice hard.
He had died and become a shinigami about a year ago and while his death had solved some problems, it hadn't solved all. Working as an angel of death had taken his mind off some of his old problems, but things kept coming back and he fought hard not to cling to the nightmarish memories of his existence before. His partner had been understanding, had shown him the ropes, and he was trying to fit in, but... something was missing. Something in his undead life was wrong.
Tsuzuki wasn't the person to lay out his emotional and personal problems on a silver platter. He bottled them up and he hid behind a persona people could more easily relate to. So, on the outside he was a happy, easy-going nature, always ready to go on a case, able to relate to the tortured souls who hadn't found their way into Meifu on their own or who had been caught by devils. Inside, he was closing his true self off from the pain he carried, refusing to let anyone see a glimpse.
The assessment of the tiger shikigami that he was weak and wouldn't last in a fight had triggered that hidden part.
Red eyes now looked him up and down. "So you stand to your challenge?" Byakko asked.
A shrug. "Okay then." The tiger rose on all four paws. "I'm ready. Don't say I didn't warn you."
Tsuzuki's lips became a thin white line and he readied himself.
Taimo stepped back, hands stuck into the folds of his sleeves. He nodded once.
The challenge was on.
The area looked like a tornado had struck it. Well, a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami and maybe a mild volcanic eruption. Not to mention an avalanche. Trees had been uprooted, flung around, scorched, burned or turned into splinters. The ground was both cracked open, sunken in and scorched like the trees, and for a moment throughout the fight the water of the river had boiled and actually evaporated.
There was nothing left of the quiet valley but... ruins.
Taimo gazed at the site, dumbstruck, frozen to the spot, actually. He couldn't believe his own eyes. He couldn't understand what he had just witnessed.
There was movement among the debris and Tsuzuki stumbled to his feet. The shinigami looked bad. One arm hung uselessly by his side, clearly broken, he was bleeding from multiple wounds, with blood streaming down his face from a gash across his temple. Supporting his ribs that had to be broken as well with his good arm, the young shinigami limped across the debris, stumbling, gasping in agony.
How he could still walk was anyone's guess. The wooden stake sticking out his right thigh had to be painful.
Things had happened so suddenly.
The challenge had started out like any other Taimo had ever been an impartial judge to. Byakko had tested the waters, had struck out at his opponent, circling him, assessing the strength of the just recently reborn human. Tsuzuki had countered the attacks with either evasion or an ofuda that had harmlessly dispersed against the tiger's aura.
And then everything had heated up. It had happened so fast, Taimo was still a bit unclear about when the whole forest had suddenly evaporated or what had come first, the screeching energy ball the tiger had sent toward the shinigami or the sharply hissing magic that had met it half way.
He only knew that the moment Tsuzuki had picked himself up, things had been different. The aura had changed, had radiated a... a darkness Taimo had never felt before.
And then things had really blown off scale.
The result was this...
Taimo was truly speechless.
By now Tsuzuki had limped across the burned field and sunk down next to the prone form of the white tiger. Byakko had been knocked out by the last blast, something Taimo had difficulties to explain. It had been massive, had been a force he had never felt before, and it had... hurt. Even him, as a watcher. Tsuzuki had wielded a power Taimo had never seen in a shinigami; never. The aura... so incredible strong and razor sharp, had once again turned back into the soft waves the young shinigami always radiated. Gentle, easy, harmless...
What was he?
Taimo shook himself and did what he had to do. He called for help, for servants to assist the two fighters because neither of the two was able to go anywhere anytime soon.

Tsuzuki's world consisted of pain. Pain radiating from his arm, from his leg, from his ribs, from his lungs and from his head. There was hardly a place on his body that didn't hurt, but all that faded into nothingness when he looked at the white tiger.
Byakko was unconscious, his white fur singed and burned in places, and there was blood.
"No," he breathed, sinking to his knees.
New spikes of agony traveled through his abused body. As a shinigami he could heal and regenerate, but that would take time and energy, and at the moment he had neither. Each move he made undid what his healing powers were trying to accomplish.
"Byakko?" he stammered.
There was no reply. The red eyes remained closed and there wasn't even the slightest twitch.
Tsuzuki touched the dirty fur with one shaking had. He sagged a little in relief when he felt the warmth, the life still in the unconscious form.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "Enma's name, I'm so sorry. I didn't want that. I never wanted to hurt you..."
Tears began tracking down his soot covered face. Tsuzuki didn't know what had happened. He had only felt this incredible amount of power surging up inside him, overriding his senses, screeching through his mind and soul, and it had... hurt Byakko. He had flung something at the shikigami and had hurt him.
"I didn't want to," he breathed, feeling his head swim. "Please forgive me. Please..."
The world was blurring all around him and when he heard steps, booted feet crunching over the burned earth, he couldn't seem to focus on the approaching shadow.
Taimo. It was Taimo. Tearing eyes looked up and Tsuzuki's breathing hitched painfully as his lungs and ribs screamed agony at him.
"I didn't want this, Taimo," he whispered roughly. "Never. Please... he has to be all right. I didn't want to hurt him."
Taimo's voice was close, but he couldn't make out the words as the world turned inside out, as the pain became too overwhelming. Tsuzuki slid forward, collapsing against the tiger, and everything sank into darkness.
I'm sorry, he thought over and over again. I'm sorry.
And then even that was no more.
Tsuzuki woke to a world of discomfort. Healing powers or no healing powers, turning one's body into pulp was never a walk in the park. He had only once before been seriously injured and that had taken half a day to stop smarting after the bones had mended. Now more than a few ribs had been broken and he knew what shape he was in.
A bad one.
Blinking his eyes open, trying to focus on something, his mind was slowly firing up.
The challenge.
The fight.
He gasped softly and tried to sit up.
Byakko... he had to see how the tiger was... had to see him... had to find out how badly he had injured the shikigami...
Hands pushed him back and he looked into a pair of dark eyes in a female face.
"Stay," the woman said. "You're not yet well enough."
"Byakko," he stammered, mouth so dry. "How is... Byakko? Is he okay?"
Please, please, please... Byakko had to be okay. He couldn't have seriously harmed the powerful shikigami. He couldn't have...
Tsuzuki felt his eyes tear again.
"Please..." he begged.
The woman's face showed a strange kind of confusion. "The young lord is resting," she finally told the upset shinigami.
"He's okay?" Tsuzuki managed, his mind already shutting down again. The energy drain on his recovering body was too great.
"Yes, he's fine. He's strong, my lord."
Thank you, Tsuzuki thought gratefully and managed a smile.
"I'm no lord."
"My lord?" she asked, baffled.
"Tsuzuki. My name. Tsuzuki..."
He was drifting off again.
The woman smiled a little, stroking over his cheek.
"Sleep," she whispered.
And he did, sliding off into that place where there was no pain.
When he woke the second time, Tsuzuki was alone. He felt very little pain, only the discomfort of healing muscles and recently mended and still tender bones. Sitting up, looking around, he got his bearings. He was in a room, in a bed, and it looked like it was late in the evening. Lamps had been lit to counter the growing darkness from outside.
Tsuzuki slipped out of bed, testing his legs and found he was capable to walking without falling flat on his face. Clothes had been laid out for him, a traditional garb that fit GensouKai but not his own style. He dressed and opened the door, finding no guards and no servants.
The shinigami slowly made his way down the deserted corridor, confused as to where everyone was and where he should go. Still, he just walked on, almost as if drawn by some unheard signal. He didn't know why, but he went down the next corridor on the right and came to stop in front of a large, ornate door. Tsuzuki hesitated only for a moment, then pushed it open and peered inside.
It was another bedroom.
Larger than his, more ornate and with a balcony, it looked like a master bedroom. The huge bed that dominated the left wall had one occupant and Tsuzuki frowned as he sensed the aura. It felt like...
... Byakko?
Slipping inside, the sudden need to check on his shikigami overpowering his caution, he snuck to the bed.
Tsuzuki wasn't too surprised to see a person instead of a tiger lying there. He knew some shikigami had alternate forms, human forms, but he hadn't really thought about it at the time of the battle. Now he looked into a young face of a man who appeared to be about his age, at least on the outside. He had silvery-white hair that was tousled and stuck out in every direction. There were no visible wounds and no bandages.
Tsuzuki breathed a little sigh of relief.
He still recalled the blood on the white fur, the roar of pain as his last strike had hit the tiger, and he remembered kneeling next to the unconscious form.
He's okay, he thought, faint with relief. He's fine. He's not...
Tsuzuki swallowed hard.
Byakko was okay, he told himself again and again. And he was sleeping. He should leave him alone.
But he felt like rooted to the spot. Something inside of him protested the thought to go back to the other room.
Tsuzuki never made the conscious decision to curl up on the large bed, eyes on his shikigami, watching the slow rise and fall of the slender man's chest. He lay there for a long time, his body relaxing in the presence of the gentle aura of the wind shikigami.
Yes, wind.
He smiled.
He knew what and who this shikigami was. While part of him had almost frozen throughout the battle the moment he had discovered who he was fighting against, another hard simply doubled his efforts.
Byakko, the Protector of the West. A God.
Tsuzuki's smile grew prouder, then fainter as muscles relaxed and his recovering body slipped into sleep.
Byakko looked at the sleeping young man, curled up under the covers of his bed. Tsuzuki looked incredibly young and innocent, the harsh lines of the battle erased, the wounds healed, and that strange power that had nearly torn Byakko apart dormant inside the gentle aura he emitted.
The Wind God sat carefully down on the mattress and couldn't help but push back a few rogue strands. He continued the caress, stroking over the dark hair, smiling to himself.
So this was his new master now.
The smile didn't falter.
Byakko had woken to a presence in his bed, to a soft aura enveloping him even while that aura in question was still regenerating itself, and he had opened his eyes to the slender man who had challenged and beaten him.
He had a master now.
A shinigami master.
It didn't feel bad at all. Sitting at his side, studying this innocent looking creature, Byakko mused on how he had been beaten so completely. He would never have thought that something so powerful and destructive lay underneath the deceptively fragile outside.
"Who are you?" he whispered.
He had never felt power like this before. It was strong, it was dark, and it didn't fit a shinigami. He had met a few in the past, he knew their kind, but no one had ever challenged him. Shinigami didn't go around challenging Gods. They looked for mid-level or low-level shikigami.
"Tsuzuki Asato," Byakko murmured and continued his caresses.
He didn't know why, but he felt strangely drawn to him. Something seemed to call, seemed to want him close, and a part deep down inside him reacted to the call very willingly.
The door opened and he looked up, meeting the eyes of his headwoman. Sunhi hesitated, but when Byakko nodded she quietly walked inside.
"I wondered where he could have gone to," she remarked softly as she looked at the sleeping young man. "I went to bring him something to eat and found the guest room empty."
"He can stay here, Sunhi. Let him sleep."
"Yes, my lord."
Her eyes still strayed to Tsuzuki and she appeared to be drawn between curiosity and mild outrage. Byakko knew that many servants had been shocked to know that their lord had been mastered, but he had made sure that everyone knew that Tsuzuki was their guest, was to be treated with respect, that he was part of the Wind God's household now.
"Everything will be fine, Sunhi," Byakko only said, startling her a little.
She bowed her head. "Yes, my lord."
After a brief glance, she then left the room again.
Rather reluctantly Byakko rose from the bed. He knew he had to show himself, show the servants and everyone else he was fine, especially since the others must have heard about the whole thing from Taimo by now. He didn't want to leave Tsuzuki, strange as it was. He had yet to really meet the shinigami, talk to him, get to know him, but Byakko already felt a strong bond growing.
He would protect Tsuzuki from now on, would be his guardian spirit. It filled him with a never before felt pride and strength.
Smiling, the white tiger made his way into the bathroom to freshen up and change.
His new master woke almost right on time for breakfast. Tsuzuki was completely healed, appeared energetic and healthy, and Byakko watched him as he took in the large breakfast table with the various offerings. Violet eyes, so unlike any human's eyes he had ever seen, seemed to glow from the inside with the sight.
"Oh wow!" Tsuzuki exclaimed with almost child-like glee.
And he dug in. There was no other word for it.
Byakko found himself smiling, almost laughing, as he watched the young shinigami eat. He wondered where he put all of the food because there was hardly any excess fat on him, and he ate for two.
You are such a contradiction, the God thought fondly. It will be a pleasure to get to know you.
Getting to know the true Tsuzuki Asato wasn't something to be done in a day. Or a week. Or a month. In the few days he had spent in GensouKai the two new partners had gotten to know each other, had learned about the other man, and Byakko had been sad to see him go already.
But Tsuzuki came back.
Often, if he could.
And there were times after battles when the tiger remained in the world of the living in his tiger shape, sitting with his young master, and they talked.
It was so natural, so normal, and he enjoyed the company of his human master. A human master who was powerful. Terribly, terribly powerful...
Slowly but surely Byakko discovered the true depth of the unassuming man, caught glimpses of the real Tsuzuki, the tortured soul who hid behind so many barriers. They had long talks about everything and nothing in particular, exchanged little pieces of happy memories, of bad times, of good times, of things that had made them laugh and had made them cry.
Byakko loved Tsuzuki with ever fiber of his being. He couldn't explain why, but he thought of him as a protégé, a friend, a brother, a child, a master... everything in one. Tsuzuki was all and nothing of it.
He smiled.
Yes, Tsuzuki was complex, and somewhere inside this wonderful soul resided the darkness, the incredible power, he had unleashed to defeat a God.
Tsuzuki was frightened of that part, a part he had never known of before. He was horrified of his work, of the destruction, and the pain he had inflicted upon his shikigami.
"This is you," Byakko told him, his breath ruffling the dark strands as Tsuzuki, like so many times, just sat against the white tiger's large body. "Don't be afraid of who and what you are."
Tsuzuki laid his head back against the soft fur, amethyst eyes meeting red ones.
"I always hated what I am. It hurt, Byakko. It still hurts."
He lowered his head, rubbing against his master's cheek, and a hand came up, fingers carding into the longish fur. Tsuzuki's aura rose, encompassed them both and Byakko let it entangle with his own. It didn't hurt, wasn't the power that had bested him.
"It will stop one day," the shikigami whispered, curling his tail closer as if to embrace the young man. "And I love you, no matter who or what you were or are, Tsuzuki Asato."
It got him a weak smile. "Thank you, Byakko."
And it was so heart-felt, Byakko wondered just how much more Tsuzuki kept bottled up inside.
In time he would find out.
He wanted to know.
He wanted to help.
Right now all he could do was be there for his friend.
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