Disclaimer: No, Gravitation doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Maki Murakami-sama/sensei and if it belonged to me, it would be one big, crazy story nobody would love…
A/N: And this is a fic my muses begged for me to write after watching The Last Samurai. It’s long, AU and a What If? to boot. This basically uses the idea for an AU that’s been playing in my mind for a while now, where Shuichi is a prince of a country, a summoner/fighter/performer and all that. Yes, just an AU. You’ll see that after I finish Yuki – which won’t be in quite a while. Warning, this story is angsty… and I don’t think this thing has a happy-ending, but think of it as a prologue to that… AU fic playing in my mind. Finally, this fic is what’s been preventing me from working on Chapter 12 of Yuki so I am glad I finally got this over with. And I’m dividing it into two parts, the second part I’ll be posting tomorrow or so : 3
Was listening to Idyll’s End, Ronin, A Way of Life, A hard teacher, To know my Enemy, Red Warrior and the rest of the Last Samurai soundtrack. Wee!
The Last Song
There was something in the air the boy simply could not identify. Something sad, something longing, something that reminded him very much of how he felt at that moment and he felt… nothing. A song lingered in the air, floating aimlessly, whispering into his ears, and slipping past before his slender fingers before he could grasp it, fading, sad. He took a deep breath and held it within him as he stared at the abandoned house before him, solemn and crumbling, its walls crying of its decadence. He heard all of these and shared their sorrow. There were things only he alone and a select few would understand.
He released the breath he’d been holding, eyelids slowly falling over his amethyst eyes until they covered them fully, and spoke in a quiet whisper.
"I’m going in. Wait for me here."
He opened his eyes and looked over his shoulder, meeting the gaze of his brown-haired aide, and best friend. A silence, thick and pregnant with meaning, came between them as words were exchanged with mere gazes. Finally, his aide nodded in understanding. His best friend turned to the tall blonde beside him, passing a message through the mental bond made between them, before turning to him once more. Together, the brunette and the blonde gave him a low bow as a sign of their acknowledgement of his order and the boy turned away before beginning to take small, light steps towards the dark house.
The metal handle was cold against his skin and quietly, he tried to remember why he was here, so far away from the warm confines of his home. Far away, he knew, there was a feast going on in honor of him; a coronation ceremony where he was needed more than anything. And yet, here he was, standing in the porch of an old, perhaps even ancient, house, long abandoned and falling into pieces each and every day.
"Yuki Eiri…" he whispered softly, allowing the thought to float aimlessly into the cold, dying house, hoping it would find the lonely soul he had been in search of for months if he were there. "Yuki…. are you here…?"
He ground his teeth and turned the knob, before entering in. There was no use in waiting for a response before entering. Even if nobody answered his lonely call, he knew he had to see it for his own eyes, search every aging nook of the abandoned house before he accepted the fact that, yes, Yuki Eiri was, indeed, not in this house.
Before the sound of creaking wood reached his ears as he took a step forward into the house, a different, yet familiar, sound entered his mind, invading his senses.
"Go away, brat. Leave me alone…" the voice in his mind was gruff and anything but grateful but his lips curved into a smile that displayed relief and pure joy.
"Yuki…!" he answered back mentally before breaking into a run, ignoring the way the wooden floor creaked and gave out tiny, threatening cracks as he ran in search of the voice’s owner. The last thing in his mind was falling into a hole in the floor and injuring himself, what came first was being reunited with his lover. His lover who had run away and left him months ago without a word of warning, leaving him both distressed and worried, not for his welfare, but for his beloved.
"I said go away!" The voice lashed out but there was something familiar, and normal, with the way it was said that urged the boy to go faster, to find his lover sooner. Eyes screwed shut, tears began to form and fall off from the edge of his eyes in large beads and he shook his head.
"No!" he yelled back adamantly both mentally and out loud, not caring if he sounded like a child. "I am not leaving you alone! Not now… now that I’ve found you!"
A door swung open for him, its wood slamming against the nearby wall with a loud crash and he came to a stop, chest rising and falling rapidly as he struggled to catch his breath. In front of him, the blonde writer and historian, Yuki Eiri, sat on the floor, a shadow of the arrogant nobleman that walked the halls of Sen and captured his attention months ago. Still, the boy felt no change in his feeling for the man, and he found himself moved to find the ordinarily strong and emotionless blonde like this; weak and defenseless.
"You came." Eiri’s whisper was cold and harsh and the boy took a step closer. The only light in the room came from the broken window above Eiri and through it moonlight shone, showering the blonde with its enchanting rays. The boy thought Eiri looked breathtaking with his pale skin glowing ethereally, turning porcelain-like, in the moonlight and his golden-blonde hair taking a platinum hue. Maybe it was just him and his longing for the man that turned Eiri so... perfect and serene and godlike, but it didn’t really matter to him. Eiri was Eiri and that was that.
"Yes, I came." The boy said, coming to a stop a mere few steps away from his lover. "You know, wherever you go I’ll find you…. another country, another continent.. it doesn’t matter. I’ll do whatever it takes."
"Shut up." Eiri whispered slowly, turning his head away from him and shutting those amber eyes from him. Eiri was shunning him and the boy felt a tiny tinge of hurt in his chest. Was this how he was to be treated after all that he’d done for the man?
"Can’t you see? I love you…" he wanted to project mentally but before it could leave the confines of his mind, he held it back, knowing it was futile and it would only serve to feed the hatred burning within Eiri. As much as he hated to admit it, Eiri… didn’t feel the same way for him. The writer had said, on countless occasions, how much he’d hated him but none of those utterances ever held such strong hatred beneath them… though… though… if he said it now… with so much conviction, so much truth…
…The boy didn’t know what he would do.
"Shuichi… why—" The boy’s breath caught when Eiri spoke finally, filling the painful silence with his solemn voice."…. why are you here?"
The boy’s lips curved into a soft smile as he crouched down to his lover’s level. He spoke in a quiet voice, soft and solemn, pained, "…because I looked for you."
Eiri’s eyelids fluttered open in a slow and deliberate movement, but he kept his gaze away from Shuichi as he spoke. "I didn’t want to be found." He told him abruptly. Suddenly, Shuichi became aware of the dagger that was in the older man’s hands. His amethyst eyes widened in realization and he let out a tiny gasp. He lifted one delicate hand to his mouth and he gazed down at the deadly blade in disbelief before finally staring at Eiri’s face questioningly.
"Why…?" he let the question slip without expecting an answer to that.
"Leave me alone." Eiri breathed before blinking and meeting his gaze. "I didn’t want you to come, I wasn’t hoping for you to come."
Shuichi bit his lower lip and his eyebrows furrowed as he struggled to keep the tears at bay. "Why?" he began, his voice trembling, "What is it with me that you hate so much? Why couldn’t you hope I could come? Why did you want to die? I would die if you did…." He closed his eyes as he rose up and balled his hands into fists. "Why?! I’d find you… either way… whenever…. however… where you hoping I’d find you dead, Yuki?"
"It’s not fair!" Shuichi cried, opening his eyes and glaring at Eiri accusingly. "I love you. I would look for you anywhere. I missed you… I was worried sick…. why…. why can’t you be for me, for once? Why did you leave me like that? Why?"
The blonde writer shot him a hard look which made him stop abruptly and swallow hard. Silence came between them and Eiri rose from his position, brushing the dust off his midnight black clothes. "You want to know the answer…?" Eiri whispered quietly, amber eyes turned away from him, fixed on the cold wooden flooring, caked with dust.
"Because I never loved you in the first place." Eiri told him, allowing contact between his amber eyes and Shuichi’s amethyst ones, finally. Shuichi’s mouth opened in a gasp. "Because…. I wish, more than anything, to have never met you… you… you barged into my life, you opened old wounds, you brought up things I’d rather forget…. How… how can I love you?"
Shuichi was silent, amethyst eyes searching within those amber orbs for the truth, for proof of what the man had just said and fell into a state of disbelief. Why hadn’t he noticed? Why hadn’t he noticed the hatred? Why had he chosen to wait for until everything became hard to shrug off and ignore? Why had he waited until it was right in front of him, screaming to be noticed? The hatred, the pain, the disgust was clear in the writer’s eyes and… he hated himself for it.
All those nights together, the times when he believed there was love in the man’s gestures… It had been only him — Him and his prestigious status; Prince of Sen indeed. Why hadn’t he listened to Eiri’s elder sister? Why?
He didn’t know a full minute had passed when he spoke finally, but it didn’t really care anymore. "I understand." He said in a quiet voice, drained of life, hurt, unwanted. He closed his eyes and bowed his head in defeat. A small, bitter smile formed on his lips then, a mockery of all those cheerful smiles he made in their times together.
The statement seemed to have been echoed by the weeping walls of the abandoned house.
"I’m sorry… for forcing you into this. For… for taking you for granted." He tilted his head up and locked gazes with the blonde writer, a genuine smile on his lips. "But… it would still hurt me if you died. Please, don’t kill yourself."
Amber eyes widened but he continued in the same, determined voice. Shuichi tried his hardest not to show his weakness, tried to prevent the tremble in his voice and so far he was succeeding. For how long he would last like this, he did not know, but hoped he would last for long enough. He breathed in sharply and allowed his eyes to show the pain he felt, if only for a few brief seconds.
"Live, please? Just live." Shuichi told him quietly, a silent plea, before placing a hand over his chest, where the small pendant-charm the great Sakuma Ryuichi gave him, as a ward against the demons which roamed the land freely, rested between his collarbones. Eiri watched in a stunned silence as the younger of the two proceeded to take off his necklace. It was a fact; if there was anything Shuichi cherished more than anything, next to him of course, it was the great Sakuma Ryuichi and from the legend.
With the necklace in his hand, Shuichi stretched his hand forth towards the blonde writer. "Take it," he breathed, "Your sister, her highness, is worried sick, you know? Go back to her… just give it back to me next time I visit. You need this more than I do."
Shuichi watched as the pendant, with the jewels encrusted on it shining in the moonlight, fell onto Eiri’s outstretched hand. The way its silver chain slipped from his fingers towards his beloved’s hands reminded him bitterly of what he let go of today. He was hurt but he would heal, at least he hoped he would.
Depriving himself of a last look, he spun on his heels, his long black hair whipping about in the moonlight like black silk, and headed towards the door. "I’m leaving." He breathed once he was at the doorway, "I’m needed at the crowning ceremony. They can’t go on without their crown prince, can they?"
His lips curved into a small smile as he felt the first signs of the mental connection he built between him and Eiri crumbling. No, the connection would no longer be needed. "No…" he answered himself, "they can’t, can they?" He closed his eyes and took the first step forward, his first step into the unknown without anyone once more.
He was about to take another step when he remembered something. Eiri had once told him, after getting tired of his incessant pestering for a formal declaration of love, that he did like something of him after all. It was his hair, soft and perfect like black silk. Eiri wouldn’t tell him he loved him because he never did and his hair….
"One last thing…" Shuichi whispered, coming into a stop. He lifted a hand up to grab a fistful of those soft black tresses and closed his eyes once more. "This hair… is nothing." He tugged hard at his hair and it fell away, falling onto the dusty floor with a dull thud. Long strands of unnatural magenta hair fell away, replacing the silken black hair and suddenly his eyes didn’t look so out of place. Amethyst and magenta – a fitting combination.
Everything was a lie.
Without saying anything, he continued on, knowing the blonde writer understood the meaning of the action. With the walls of the house seemingly wailing and crying for him to stop, he took each and every stepped with a determination, each time ignoring the pain eating at his heart and the crying child within him.
No, he would be strong. If Eiri did not love him, then he would learn to stop loving the man and move on because that…. That was the right thing to do, right? Hadn’t he tried enough?
Yes, he agreed silently, he had tried enough, so much and it all had been for the naught.
He took in the worried looks his aides gave him as he stepped out of the abandoned house, allowing the door to slam behind him. He tilted his head up and took on a more regal posture, making himself look every bit the crown prince of Sen.
Before his best friend could say anything, he spoke in a soft yet commanding voice which silenced them completely.
"Let’s go back. We have a crowning ceremony to attend."
His blonde aide nodded before placing to fingers into his mouth and whistling while his best friend could only stare at him in shock and understanding.
"He didn’t want me." Shuichi told him mentally when his gaze met his, "Hiro, he didn’t want me."
Before he could break down in tears, their carriage arrived and Shuichi found himself climbing into it in pure silence. Hiro sat beside him and placed a hand over his shoulder as a sign of sympathy and he made no move to bat it away.
He needed it. It was going to be a long ride home.
Amber eyes narrowed as they fell upon the silver pendant in his hand. His knees buckled and moments later he found himself on the floor once more, this time out of his will. But he didn’t care and he kept his eyes on the small trinket, wondering why he was here alone again and what it was that he had just done.
His younger brother’s words echoed in his mind, warning and worried: "He’ll get tired of it someday, if you keep pushing him away like this. He loves you, but no matter how much if you keep on hurting him like this he’ll just have to give up…. And when he does, you’ll regret it, Uesugu Eiri. You’ll regret it."
"I am regretting it…" he whispered softly, his vision blurring suddenly of unshed tears. Shuichi was gone, he had pushed him away one time to many, hurt him so bad. Hurt him so bad – he remembered the way the boy’s voice had sounded, so filled with bitterness, as he tugged at his hair and revealed his natural hair. Shuichi must think he finds it disgusting…
"No… it wasn’t a lie.." Eiri told the pendant quietly, wondering if Shuichi was still around and if could hear him. The link between him and the boy was gone, totally and he felt nothing but a cold empty space where the connection was in his mind. He would not admit it to anyone, but that link’s presence was his solace in his many months away from them, from anyone.
Maybe, he had been hoping for Shuichi to come… maybe…
He buried his face into his hands and let the tears fall freely, not caring if the pendant was bruising his face as he pressed his skin against it. It was Shuichi. It was what little was left of Shuichi.
And for the first time in many years, he cried, not because of one Kitazawa Yuki, but because of someone else… because of someone he truly loved and was now gone.
"Shuichi…" he called out mentally, not caring if the link between him and the boy was gone, hoping that somehow it would reach his beloved.
The walls of the abandoned house shared what little warmth was left in them with him and listened to his quiet sobs.
Rivets of blood, crimson in color flowed freely, like a river, on the pristine white marble floors as the bodies seemed to pile up. Maiko edged away from the crazed prince at the center of the hall, her silver and gold robes stained with red. Deep blue eyes widened as the dark-haired prince closed in on her, eyes blazing with insanity and hatred.
"Tachi….. get away from me! Get away! Get away!" she screamed, wrapping her arms about her as if to cover herself. The prince merely smirked, before bringing his sword’s blade up to his lips and licking at the excess blood on it quietly. Tears began to roll down her soiled cheeks and she shut her eyes before screaming at the top of her lungs, "Get away! GET AWAY! GET AWAY!"
She began flailing her arms about wildly, hoping to ward off the crazed man and keep him, and his blade, as far away from her as she could. She continued crawling backwards with each and every step from the man, ignoring the corpses that littered the place, trying to ignore the fact that the body behind her might just be her parents’.
"Please… go awa—" Her breath caught when she her back pressed against the smooth marble of the wall and more tears came. A gasp escaped her lips instead then and she he breathing became irregular when she felt the sword’s shadow upon her, poised to strike, to kill.
The sound of blade singing as it sliced through thin air sent alarms sounding in Maiko’s mind and she gritted her teeth, preventing those sobs from escaping, in an attempt to make one last defiant stand. The blade was a mere millimeter from her head when it stopped and she creaked an eye open to see what had happened only to find Tachi staring down at her silently, his face blank.
Her breathing evened as she found herself staring into those unnaturally blackened eyes and without even thinking, she stretched a hand out, wanting to reach for that blank face.
"Tachi…?" she whispered shakily, no longer afraid suddenly. Slowly and carefully, she rose to her two feet, avoiding the sharp edge of the blade and then continued to reach for the lost prince’s face, wondering morbidly if the prince knew what he had just done. Tachi watched her every movement, those blackened eyes never wavering as they assessed her each and ever movement.
She breathed out slowly, resisting the urge to shiver, when her fingers came into contact with the dark-haired man’s warm flesh. This was the man who single-handedly wiped the whole Shindou clan without problem. This was the man who killed her parents in front of her without blinking an eye, all the while wearing a crazed, satisfied smirk on his lips. This was the man….
She let out a tiny yelp when Tachi grabbed her wrist roughly and pulled it away from him. Blackened eyes fixed on hers and she bit her lower lip in her bid to stop herself from screaming out in both pain and fear.
"Your brother, where is he?" Tachi spoke slowly, in a clear, hauntingly monotonous voice.
Maiko’s eyes widened in horrifying realization but before she could say anything she was thrown down the floor in one strong yank. Everything became deathly silent and her world was thrown into darkness after that. She wondered, with grim fascination, if this was death and found herself worrying, more than anything, for her older brother.