Perspective Problems

“Don’t you realize what Ichinomiya-sensei actually wants from you? Oni-Eater?”

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Breakfast was a strange and uncomfortable affair, with the bad mood radiating from Haruka with a near-visible intensity. Youko attempted a few times to start a conversation, only to have it trail back off into stony black silence. Kantarou met her bewildered look with one of his own, and shrugged: don’t ask me.

Haruka finished first, not quite slamming his bowl down. He muttered something that might have been thanks, still not quite looking at either of them, and got to his feet.

“Ah, Haruka-chan! Where are you going, it’s –”

“A walk,” he said shortly, and pushed the doors open. Kantarou half-rose, opening his mouth to say something, and was cut off as Haruka’s wings unfurled, shedding feathers, and he took off. Youko scrambled over, leaning outside to peer after him. Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 18. kaze [a cold]

“I thought youkai didn’t get colds,” Kantarou said, with no small amount of exasperation. “Youko-chan –”

“We don’t get human colds,” Youko sniffled, though she was little more than a pair of red, bleary eyes over the edge of her blankets. “I think maybe I’ve been living with you for too long.” Her fingers curled hard and she sneezed. Through her hair, her ears peeked out, then flattened back. “Ah, I don’t like this, my head hurts and my throat hurts and I feel gross.”

Kantarou sighed and leaned back, wringing out a damp cloth before putting it on her forehead. “You’ll just need to rest and take it easy,” he said. “I’ve already called the teahouse; they know you won’t be coming in for a while.” Continue reading

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withered spring

.first.

sometimes, late at night, he finds himself crying and cannot say why.

.second.

Watanabe disapproves, of course, but Watanabe is actually a lot softer than his craggy face gives away. He will not say anything, though: a man like Watanabe will take death before dishonor, and there is no greater shame than to betray his master.

Ibaragi just smiles as she plucks notes from her koto, and never says a thing. He thinks he will have to deal with her soon: an oni is always dangerous, no matter how short her tether, and her purpose has been fulfilled. Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 17. tsukimizake [moon-watching sake]

Actually, he really doesn’t like the taste of sake, but it’s sort of like a habit: it never really occurs him to refuse until it’s already been poured and he’s had a drink. Kantarou laughs at his face, says something about how ah, Haruka is such a lightweight! and pours more for them both. The clearing is secluded; even if others are out moon-watching, it feels as though they are alone in the world.

Haruka tips his head back to the moon, and this is an old friend; even if he can’t remember specific things about his life before he was sealed, he still has vague impressions, like the night wind through his wings, and how the moonlight turns an oni’s blood black — though he has almost forgotten its taste, especially with sake on his tongue and the night smelling like fresh earth. Winter has come and gone, but spring has not yet unfurled: the branches of the cherry trees have dozens of tiny silver-green buds, but no blossoms yet. Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 16. ichigoame [strawberry candy]

Kantarou comes home smelling like strawberries. Even on the roof, Haruka can taste them in the back of his throat with every breath he takes.

“Ah, Kan-chan, you’ve been snacking!” he hears Youko say, accusingly. “No fair, you didn’t bring any home for us!”

“I did too,” Kantarou protests. “Youko-chan, I’d never forget you two!”

“Liar! Ahhh, after all the hard work I do, trying to keep this house running, and you just run off and stuff your face –”

“Youko-chan, look! Strawberries!”

“– and I — Kan-chan! You did bring us some!”

“I said I did, didn’t I?”

“Yay! Kan-chan, you’re the best!” Continue reading

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Confessional

There is no time to stay at the church, no time to stop and kneel in a narrow confessional and speak her sins; everything is coming together so quickly now. Father Doyle is dead, Cardinal Simon is missing, Bacon is always two steps ahead and the road is growing thinner every day. In her chest, her heart beats now, now, now and she begs no, just a little longer, let me stay with him until this is finished.

She doesn’t dream, but sometimes in her sleep she hears them laughing.

What she doesn’t tell him, as they run through London’s narrow streets, is that I was so afraid when my father died, so certain I’d be ripped apart like he was, and then you came and I was afraid I would be raped and now I’m afraid again but Yuri, Yuri, I’m not sorry for what I’ve done. Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 15. kega [injury]

“Wait a moment, Haruka! She’s still inside, she –”

“Kantarou, I’m going to drop you if you don’t stop squirming –”

“She’s still inside! She’s going to die!”

“Kantarou, there’s no way you can get through that fire! We have to leave!”

“Haruka, let go of me!”

“KANTAROU — !” Continue reading

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In the Cold

“Cold.”

Zaraki glanced up, and found huge eyes staring back at him. There was snow in Yachiru’s pale hair, and the tips of her lashes. Under the ratty blanket he’d cut up from some poor frozen bastard’s jacket, she was shivering.

“No shit,” he said. The storm outside showed no signs of abating any time soon, and his own breath hung around his head like a cloud.

“Ken-chan,” she lisped, frowning at him. “Cold.”

“The hell d’you want me to do about it?” Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 11. I want to protect something

There is blood on Kantarou’s robes, blood dripping down the side of his face and down his arm. One of his eyes is squeezed shut, and he leans heavily on his good shoulder, his breathing loud and harsh. The oni chuckles at him, her mouth hidden behind one long kimono sleeve.

“You are nothing,” she croons. “You’re nothing but a pathetic human. You should let it go and give up — there’s nothing you can do to hurt me.”

Kantarou’s fingers clench around the bloody ofuda he holds. “Let the children go,” he rasps. “They’re innocent, they have nothing to do with this.” Continue reading

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Trick Or Treat — 2005

i. tea philosophy [FMA, Roy/Ed]
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Ed doesn’t like tea, where the flavor is a only little bitterness after he swallows. He prefers coffee, though usually his half-cup goes cold by his elbow as he reads. If he remembers to drink, the taste is direct and unquestioning, which he prefers.

When the Colonel kisses him for the first time it’s more a mistake than anything else, a comedy of errors that’s not funny yet. It leaves a phantom taste, like tea or a bad memory. The second time they kiss Ed bites until he tastes blood.

That, he says later, is what makes it real.

Violence? Roy asks, with red on his lips. I’m not sure I expected that of you.

Ed shakes his head. Not violence, he says, and puts his left hand on Roy’s throat, feeling the pulse there. Life. Continue reading

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puzzle pieces

Ginji thinks that people are puzzle pieces, just like knowledge, or understanding. Each one has its own unique place to settle into, unique to themselves.

When Ban touches him just so, featherlight and burning hot, bright eyes wholly focused on him, he feels them snapping together, coming into focus. Ban is a tactical genius, he has heard time and again, but when they are like this, he does not assault so much as coax, using charm over battle skill to find his way inside. Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 14. kioku [memory]

“It’s amazing,” Youko said, “what humans can do, given a few hundred years.”

Haruka leaned back in his chair and squinted around the little coffee shop. The place was far too brightly plastic and edged for his tastes, but there was still a certain aesthetic appeal to the lines and angles. “I guess,” he said, and nudged his paper cup with the backs of his knuckles listlessly. It was still full; he still couldn’t quite make himself drink from other cups, half the time.

Youko made a face at him. “Ahh, Haruka-chan is stoic as ever,” she sighed. She was wearing a dark red T-shirt with a flower print reminiscent of her favorite kimono, from years ago, and she’d grown her hair out long enough to braid down her back. “Have you been taking care of yourself?”

“I do all right,” he said. “I work in a bookstore now.” Continue reading

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HaruKan 20 :: 09. kotodama [the power of words]

“Haruka,” Kantarou says.

He hates that name — he hates having a name, and the restrictions it’s placed on him. He hates how three syllables can completely enslave him: his will is no longer his own.

Sometimes, he thinks, being sealed away was better than this servitude.

“Haruka,” Kantarou says again. “Sit down, let’s talk a bit.”

The name is a paradox he can’t stand. If he’s the tengu stronger than any oni, then having a name is ridiculous: any youkai with a name is less, is weak, and Kantarou thinks he’s so damn clever and —

“Harukaaaaaa,” Kantarou whines, now. “We live together and don’t talk at all, come on!” He pats the ground beside him, pouting. “Sit down and talk with me!” Continue reading

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Weighted

Kantarou is by no means heavy: he eats well when food is available, but he will be the first to skip a meal if money gets too low, and this inconsistency means that he is bony wrists and angles. Even at the best of times, he’s a little underweight and a little soft. Haruka can — and has — lifted him with one arm before, without second thought.

But when he puts his hands on Haruka’s shoulders and pushes, when it’s dark and the light catches strangely in his huge red eyes, Haruka remembers: ah, Kantarou carries the weight of his name, as well. Every time he says it, he gets a little heavier, like he’s chaining them together. Kantarou can be curled on his chest and be scarcely noticed, but the name contract pulses like a tangible thing with its own heartbeat.

Haruka can’t say he prefers it, but at least he no longer hates it. Continue reading

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In the Night

He wakes to weight and pressure on his chest.

Normally, the first instinct would be to struggle, to lash out and fight off whatever dares come close enough when one is vulnerable and asleep. What he has taught himself, however, is to observe and to wait; he has seen panic and careless planning destroy men in the field, and is determined to never be like that.

Archer opens his eyes.

“This is highly inappropriate,” he says. Continue reading

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