Title: That Which Cuts
Fandom: Mononoke
Rating: PG-13
Note: Written for Yuletide '08


If a sword were to fall in love, the observer might wonder: Should not the sword most desire to cut the object in its sight?

---

The Yuki-onna was a creature transformed by sorrow: skin frosted to perfect white, grief frozen in silvery tracks down her cheeks. She had not been beautiful, before; had been brown and small-nosed and common, like Kayo. This was what grief and stifled rage had made of her.

Her truth: her mistress, most beloved one, had sought to escape marriage to a cruel and tyrannical man. She was her mistress's servant in more than words. She would have done anything to make her lady happy. They would run away together; find a new life somewhere far away.

She waited for her lady at their secret place, and waited, and waited, unwilling to accept that her mistress's courage had failed. The hours piled into white snow around her feet, and she died there, waiting in the cold.

Her regret: a hatred, cold and calculating, for the men that ruled their world. If it was man that stood in her way, then the solution was simple - lure man in, one by one, and suck the warmth of life from his bones.

Kayo could almost envy her, her metamorphosis, her beauty, her power - almost. But she envied in truth the way the woman had captured the Medicine Seller's singular attention. That intensity transformed into the golden other, a fire that melted away all illusion, released the young woman's spirit from her prison of ice.

He would never look at Kayo that way. She knew she should be thankful for this; but it was not so.

---

With their limbs tangled, his painted lips on her neck, still it was not the same. His hands were cool on her heated skin, his pale eyes merely curious, watchful. He gasped softly when she touched him this way or that, but it wasn't the same. That intensity wasn't there.

"I want to see you," she said, and of course he didn't understand. She didn't even understand.

"But Kayo-san," he murmured. (Even now, he wouldn't drop the honorific, or even tell her his own name.) "I'm right here."

She supposed what she meant was, "I want to see him," but obviously, she couldn't say that.

---

For one whose entire purpose is to cut souls free from their tethers, what does it even mean to want to hold on to something? Two minds which are one, at cross-purposes; is that not the fate of every human on earth?

It is not that their hearts are different. They are the same heart, split into two; both know the pathos of human suffering. Both know far too well that to possess is not the same thing as to love.

But only one knows the meaning of restraint.

---

A young man courted her for a short while. He was nice enough; he wasn't unhandsome; he had a little money, was heir to a small but popular restaurant. He was precisely the kind of man she had hoped to fall in love with.

He suggested they marry. She gently but firmly refused him.

What was it she was hoping for? She was getting older. Perhaps this had been her last chance.

Such a stupid, stupid thing to have done.

---

The thing which he cuts is obsession given form; but what if the human shell were cut instead? Would obsession fly free of all restraints? Or would both perish into the void?

---

When they met again, a man's desire for a woman who had left him was nearly the end of them both.

The creature imprinted upon Kayo the woman of his memory - any woman would have done for his purposes. He would hold on to her as he couldn't hold on to his lost one, his precious possession.

In a way, Kayo understood; there had been moments when she wished there were some way to hold on to him.

The Medicine Seller's charms held, kept her out of the creature's reach, but his own body did not fare so well. Kayo saw him crushed against the ground, heard the sounds of bones popping, thought: Surely, he'll die. We'll both die.

But he did not.

---

She had acted before she'd even known what she was doing; had launched herself at him, at that golden other, before he could slip away into the unknown. And now they were here, face to face, her wrist trapped in his terrible grip and his eyes burning down at her.

She could not stop trembling.

He tilted his head like a bird, curious. "You're afraid," he said. "Of me."

"Yes," she answered honestly.

"Then why?"

His fingers were hot on her wrist, so hot. "I just wanted... I wanted to see you," she said helplessly. "I wanted you to look at me."

A long moment passed before he would answer. "I can see you," he said carefully. "I have always seen you."

Though she sensed the meaning beneath the words, it still wasn't the meaning she was looking for. "No," she said, shaking her head. "I wanted you to look at me like you look at them."

His eyes widened, and his grip tightened around her wrist to the point of pain. She winced, but he took no notice.

"Why?" he said, his voice very low. "Why would you say such a thing?"

It was difficult to tell, his eyes were so strange, he was so strange, but she thought he might be angry. Her heart hammered so hard she thought it might fly to pieces in her chest. And yet... And yet it made some small part of her happy that she could make him angry.

"You say that you see me," she explained, "but you don't. You only see them. No matter how you feel about anything else, you only want them. I - I know I can't change that. But I can't help wanting to."

He stared at her for a long moment; then pulled her closer, close enough that she could feel the touch of his breath on her face.

"I..." he said. "Want you."

Her breath caught in her throat. She couldn't find words to say; couldn't find breath to speak them, even if she could.

"Enough," came the same voice from behind her, stripped raw and haggard.

She spun around with a start, her wrist jerking out of the golden man's hand. There stood the Medicine Seller, the ever-present markings gone from his face; it was instead painted with a sheet of red blood. He stumbled forward, and, with a little squeak of dismay, Kayo caught him, sinking to the ground under his weight.

She looked back at the golden man; but he was gone.

"You," said the Medicine Seller, his lungs rattling oddly, "say dangerous things, Kayo-san." The markings had returned, Kayo saw, though the blood nearly obscured them. She didn't know what it meant, exactly, but she felt relieved.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I just -"

"You must not," he said sharply.

She jerked as if slapped; her eyes stung, vision blurring.

"You mustn't, Kayo-san," he repeated more gently. "You mustn't say those things again."

"I understand. I won't." She sniffed. He felt strangely small and fragile in her arms, now that she had been so close to his other; how could such a slight man endure this kind of injury? "Will you be all right?"

"Yes," he said, though his voice was growing fainter.

"Will I... Will I still see you again, after this?"

"Do you wish to see me again?" he asked.

"Of course I do!"

"Then it is likely that you will."

Kayo's brow knitted in confusion. "What - what do you mean?" she asked.

But he did not answer. Alarmed, she checked for his breath; but he was only unconscious.

She puffed a little sigh and dried her eyes on her sleeve, and then she held his battered body close for the little while that she could.

---

Mind and desire: a false dichotomy. Desire blows mind as wisps of incense smoke in a draft, scattered this way and that, true scent dissipated into memory. Mononoke are no different; they are, in fact, the ghost of scent blown away long ago.


-----


Pairing: MS/Kayo
Prompt: Ropework/Shibari
Rating: NC-17
Date: 08/12/08


He looks like a butterfly, she thinks idly as she comes to, caught up in a spider's web. And then she notices that she cannot move.

She shrieks.

"It would be best," comes his voice, calm and quiet as it ever is, "if you did not struggle, Kayo-san. You will only further entangle yourself."

Her hair is a mess, falling in dark streaks across her vision. She puffs at it, trying to get a better look at him. He hangs just a little above, facing her, close enough to touch were their arms not bound; his limbs are spread and arranged in a fashion almost artful, his long sleeves furled out like wings. The web sparkles all about them like facets of a crystal, catching a soft, white light that emanates from some unseen source.

She looks down at herself, and shrieks again. "Why are my clothes falling off?" she shrills, feeling the blood rising to her cheeks. Her obi and tabi are both entirely absent (and that obi was brand-new! she thinks ridiculously; how am I supposed to replace it?) and her yukata hangs open, fanning out over the glittering white ropes that streak away from her body. The web wraps around her bare flesh, around her arms, her waist, her thighs and ankles, holding her stretched out and immobile; she has never felt so naked in her whole life.

The Medicine Seller's eyes flick over her impassively, and her face burns even hotter. She shouldn't be so embarassed, she thinks; she bathes in public all the time. But this - this is different.

"Why do these things always happen whenever you show up!" she blusters, irritated at herself. "Just what exactly is going on here?"

"The mononoke," he says, with a curl of his lips, "has revealed its form." A paper charm appears in his hand, cutting through the web that binds his wrist. As his arm comes free, his sword slips from his sleeve, its face ever-fierce.

"Jorogumo."

The sword's teeth snap at the air with a resounding clank.

"Never-mind the form right now!" Kayo wriggles agitatedly in her bonds, but they only tighten around her, squeezing her to the point of not-quite pain. She squeaks in dismay and falls still. "If you can do that, then get us out of this stuff!"

"And then what, Kayo-san?"

"'Then what'? What do you mean, 'then wha -'" She falls silent as she happens to look down, her jaw dropping in horror. Glancing up above her, she finds the same: nothing but web crossed over web, for as far as her eyes could see. "Ahhh, just get us out of here! And why am I the only one who's naked, anyway?"

There is a flicker of amusement in his eyes. "Do you wish me to be naked?"

She makes an incoherent sound of frustration. "You know that's not it! Is this Jorougumo some kind of pervert?"

"Perhaps," he says. She hears a soft jingle, and notices suddenly that there are scales everywhere around them, balanced right there on the ropes of web, though she is sure they weren't there a moment ago. "However... Considering her nature, I would say that she has confounded me with another man. Or, perhaps I should say, with all men."

"With another man... What?"

"She likely wishes to prove and to punish the inconstancy of men."

"I don't understand what you mean."

"I mean," he says, "that you," and he lifts his sword up, runs the hilt over her neck and over her shoulder, "are bait." And at the sword's prodding her yukata slips entirely off one shoulder.

"What do you think you're doing!" she demands - (it isn't as though he's exposed anything that wasn't already bare, but it's the principle of the thing) - and then: "Bait for you?"

"Yes," he said, drawing the word out in a way that made her spine shiver. The sword traces the curve of her ribcage, her waist, her hips, and makes its way back up. Suddenly she is painfully aware of the silken ropes pressing against the inside of her thighs, of the air so cool against the warmth of her skin between her legs.

"This - This isn't the time or place for that kind of thing!" she manages to make her mouth say, though her tongue seems thick and it is hard to form words.

"Then how else should we lure her out, Kayo-san?"

"What?" she exclaims, horrified. "No! Why would we want to lure her out? I want her to stay away!"

"Then you wish to remain caught here in her web until you become a part of her?"

"No! Of course I don't want that!" Kayo huffs in exasperation. "Ah, you're impossible! Isn't there some other way?"

"Do you believe I would suggest an unnecessary measure?"

And that, she thinks, does not even deserve an answer, and she tries to tell him so with her glare; but then she gasps as the tuft of fur on the hilt of his sword grazes the side of her breast, soft and ticklish, which rather ruins the effect. He chuckles infuriatingly.

"Stop laughing!"

He acquiesces, drawing his sword back and slipping it beneath his obi, and Kayo feels a tiny, irrational pang of disappointment. "My apologies," he says, amusement still creasing the corners of his eyes. "I will find another way." Another charm appears in his hand, slices through the ropes wrapped around his chest - and he drops down toward her alarmingly. She lets out a little "eek" before he stops just as abruptly, caught by the web still wrapped around his other wrist.

"If you wish," he murmurs, face a mere breath from her own.

Kayo's heart pounds so hard the thrumming of blood starts to hurt her ears. She feels light-headed, her skin pulsing too-tight over muscle and bone. His face is so close; she could just... This is ridiculous, she thinks. I am tangled up naked in a giant spider's web. I can't possibly -

She tilts her face up to his.

His lips curve into a smile as he kisses her. The distance is too far and the angle to awkward for it to be anything more than a faint brush of lips, ghostly, fleeting; the tip of his tongue darts out and traces over the contour of her mouth. She trembles, feels a fang graze the corner of her mouth, and makes a small, plaintive sound.

His hand lifts, his thumb tracing her jaw, fingernails skimming down her neck, over the hollow of her throat and then down her side to stroke the underside of her breast. Kayo's breath hitches, her body arching, straining to get closer, but the web holds her fast, constricting ever-so-slightly tighter around her. Palm flat against her skin, he runs his hand down over the soft swell of her belly, down, down to press warm against the nest of curls between her legs, his fingertips just brushing across the folds beneath.

There is a whimpering sound, and she is embarassed to realize it's her own; she tries to move herself against him, needing him to press deeper, oh please, inside, but she can't move. A vibration surges through the ropes against her, tremulous, and she can feel it right down in her bones; she hears a soft ringing; she needs - she needs -

"Kayo-san," he says. She moans incoherently in response. "Kayo-san," he says more insistantly, removing his hand, and she very nearly growls at him. Then she forces open her eyes, sees his lips pulled back in a terrifying grin.

"The madam," he says, "is here."

The world descends into chaos, and Kayo utters something very unladylike.


-----


Title: Art of Spring
Pairing: MS/Kayo
Words: 808
Rating: PG-13


He had promised to show her something good. She had nearly forgotten, it seemed so long ago; but before the Sorarisu-maru reached Edo, finally, he did.

"Is that an octopus?!" Kayo shrieked with glee. "Who would do that with an octopus?!"

"I'm sure it appeals to certain more... exotic interests," said the Medicine Seller. They sat shoulder to shoulder, hunched over the stacks of colorful books, their heads inclined toward one another's almost conspiratorially. Kayo flipped through the books one by one, and almost every page elicited a new delighted squeal.

"Wah, look, they're both girls! And what's that - that thing she's holding - is that a sea cucumber?!"

"I believe so," said the Medicine Seller, unperturbed.

When she came to a book full of kagema she wailed in despair. "They're all prettier than I am!"

"Surely not, Kayo-san."

"Oh, stop it," she said. "Don't pretend you understand. Men don't even have to be pretty, and then you have the nerve to go and be pretty anyway. You already know you're prettier than everybody else."

"Even so," he insisted.

She glared at him sidelong. "You're supposed to disagree, you know."

"Ah," he said, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "My apologies."

Though she heaved an exasperated sigh, her mouth twitched and she couldn't suppress a giggle. At random, she picked up another book. "Ahh!" she exclaimed almost as soon as she opened it. "But that - how is this even possible?!"

The Medicine Seller leaned in closer, his lips nearly brushing her ear. His sleeve drifted across her arm. "I could show you..." he murmured softly, "if you wish."

Kayo blinked, the shape of the words slowly clarifying. She stiffened, her eyes going wide. "Wh-wha-what-"

The Medicine Seller stood and bowed low. "Forgive me, but I am tired," he said, his voice just loud enough to carry. "I think I must retire for the evening. Good night, Kayo-san." Then he bowed again and turned and walked away, leaving her just sitting there in the middle of that pile of books. She gaped after him slack-jawed, and the eye on the back of his kimono stared back at her until he disappeared.

How - how absurd! Her heart was pounding in her chest, and the inside of her ears felt strangely compressed. How absurd to even suggest it!

...But no one would know.

The minstrel and the ship's proprietor had both drank themselves silly and fallen asleep more than an hour ago; the samurai seemed incapable of doing anything but rocking back and forth on his little corner of the deck, giggling madly from time to time and muttering to himself; the monks were shut away in their quarters and whatever they were up to was their business, and she preferred not to think too deeply on that anyway. No one would know, and even if they did, it was unlikely that they would remember or care.

Kayo swallowed.

But it was too ridiculous to contemplate. She was going to be a bride! Brides were certainly not the kind of women who followed strange men to their quarters on ships in the middle of the sea.

Kayo swallowed again.

She put the down the book that had still been hanging limply from her hands. Slowly, feeling like her body belonged to someone else, she stood up, and followed after that brightly painted grin.

---

In this, she found, he was just as hypnotic, as graceful, and as absolutely terrifying as he was in everything else.

---

"Should you really leave your medicine box out on the deck with all those books scattered around?" she asked later, as she combed his hair. (It turned out to be quite long and infuriatingly silky. She found herself wanting to pin it up and decorate it like a woman's.) "They might get rained on."

"What do you mean?" he said. "All of my belongings are..." He gestured at the far end of the futon, where his medicine box undeniably sat. "...right here."

"Ahh!" Unable to restrain herself, she leaned over and opened one of the drawers; all the books were packed away neatly inside. Righting herself, she reached out and gave his hair a good yank. He winced. "Stop being creepy," she admonished. "It's not going to impress girls."

His lips curled subtly. "No, I suppose not," he conceded, and pulled her mouth down to his.

---

It wasn't until several days after they had docked in Edo that Kayo realized: somehow, inexplicably, even after all that, she had still forgotten to ask his name.

"I said to stop being creepy!" she blurted, and when the whole of the street turned to stare at her she slinked on her way, embarrassed.


-----


Request: Mononoke, "Other self/Medicine Seller, from Kayo's point of view"
Words: 941
Rating: PG/PG-13

"I've seen all of it now," he said, his voice gone strange and thin and papery, the chink of his sword's teeth still trembling on the air.  The grin that stretched across his bloodied face was stripped down to the gleaming sharp curve of a blade.  "Your truth.  Your regret.  I've seen it."

It was fortunate, he thought.  Fortunate, because it was conceivable that he would not have survived for much longer.  Had he died here, the mononoke would not have been scourged from this place.  The eagerness burned hot within him, and he lifted the yoke, unleashed it into the world.

"Release."

He danced on puppet strings as his other slid out of him, and it was a relief to give himself over to the killing, to the purpose of his existence.


Kayo crept her way near to him, her eyes wide and stinging with horror as she watched, watched him continue to move as though the swipe of the thing's claws had not just nearly disemboweled him, as though blood were not pouring from his lips.  The blade passed from his hand to the golden creature that spoke with his voice, breathed with his breath, and then the mirror, as they danced.  And surely it was a dance; it couldn't be called anything else.  Even as he bled his life out onto the floor, still he danced.

And even now, even as she crouched in terror for her life, and for his, she couldn't look at that creature and his blade arcing through the air without her chest aching at the beauty of it.

Finally the thing succumbed, its glittering remains falling through the air like confetti.  The Medicine Seller swayed; Kayo rushed up behind him, and he fell into her arms with a soft grunt.  He was far heavier than he looked.  She sank down to her knees, cradling his head in her lap. 

Her heart panged against her ribs as she saw his face - it was still bare of its colorful markings.  She had watched him before, watched his face wiped clean whenever his strange partner emerged; she wasn't quite certain, had been too distracted to pay close enough attention before - but hadn't they reappeared immediately those other times, as soon as the mononoke had been destroyed? 

Was he breathing?  She wasn't sure he was breathing.

She glanced up, looking for the other one.  Then she let out a squeak of surprise; the shining man was right there, towering over them.  Her breath strangled off in her throat, and she suppressed the ridiculous urge to cover her eyes against the heartbreaking, terrifying brilliance of him.  A god, she thought.  He must be a god.  Perhaps this man in her arms was merely his earthly shell. 

Well.  Even if he was a god, she had more immediate things to worry about right now than bowing in supplication.  But she couldn't seem to tear her gaze away no matter how she tried; those alien eyes of his held her trapped like a rabbit. 

The creature knelt down, his snowy hair falling like a cloak around all three of them, brushing against Kayo's cheeks as it swept forward.  He smelled of scorched earth and cinders.  His face bent down toward her, and she was possessed of the sudden, insane notion that he was going to kiss her; but his lips just quirked into a faint smile, and the golden markings bled out of his dark skin. 

And then he was gone. 

She blinked, startled.  It wasn't that he had disappeared before her eyes; it seemed more like time had just escaped through a crack somewhere, and the moment in which he had left her presence had simply been lost. 

"My apologies, Kayo-san," came the Medicine Seller's voice, faint but steady.  Kayo jolted, and looked down.  His face was painted again, a sweep of garish color across his grayed skin.  His eyes were closed.  "He has never had much... restraint."  She felt the muscles of his shoulders tighten, his arms moving as if to push himself up; but she didn't even have to try and stop him before he gave up, his face twisting in pain.  He did not open his eyes.

"You -" Her hands clenched in the fabric of his kimono.  "You stupid man!"

"Kayo-san," he said, "you're crying."

"I'm not -" she started, but then her breath hitched and she saw her own tears dripping down onto his cheek.  She sniffed, and angrily wiped her eyes with a fist, smearing his blood across her face.  "But you're not even looking," she snapped pettishly.

His mouth curled infuriatingly; even with his chin a mask of red, he managed to look satisfied with himself.  She'd hit him, if she wasn't afraid it would be enough to kill him.

"I will not die," he said. 

"I know that," she snapped, sniffing again.  "But you might have."

"It's possible, yes."  His eyes slit open a fraction, and he took a deep, rattling breath.  "I am done here.  I must leave."

"You - you can't even move!  You need treatment!"

"That won't be necessary," he said, sounding amused.  "But I suppose you may... treat me, if you like.  I have many excellent salves.  I could tell you how to prepare them, and how they are... applied."

"Stupid," she said again; but her cheeks flushed, and the corners of her mouth twitched traitorously.

"I would not mind resting here for a moment.  You are a very soft pillow, Kayo-san."

"Be quiet and rest then," she said, but there was no heat in it. 

His eyes drifted closed, and he smiled.



-----


Title: Sheath
Pairing: MS/Otherself
Rating: NC-17


In that moment -

When he splits in two -

That is when he walks the razor-fine edge between agony and ecstasy.

It burns within him always, the desire to be unsheathed, to unlock those secrets that will release his sword and so release the blade within himself. It is the desire to cut, to kill. That is the ultimate purpose of every sword, is it not?

But somehow, he is never quite prepared for the emptiness that follows.

Even as his blood thrums with the killing lust, with the fierce joy of his other's freedom, his bones ring so hollow that the very marrow might have been scraped from their core. It aches, this emptiness. His face feels so bare. The pain nevertheless does not detract from this thrill; the contrast even heightens it.

It is like a dance. It is a dance.

The perfectly choreographed movements of two that are one.

Their fingertips brush as he passes the mirror to his reflection - no, no, it is he that is the reflection, isn't he? Yes, he is a reflection. A reflection of the sun. There is only the hiss of the sword's power and his other's battle cry ringing in his ears. He feels the hilt in his other's hands as if they were his own, feels the substance of the creature before them give way beneath the blade.

It is dead.

It is free.

He is satisfied.

The part that comes after is always the most difficult. There is always the slight resistance, the part of his other which is not a part of him, which is truly other, which does not wish to return, does not wish to be bound and controlled. His other approaches, the darkness of the endless void in those black eyes. It is a terrible pull; every time he sees them, there is the compulsion to allow himself to fall in, to be absorbed. But that would not suit his - their - purpose. He must contain his other. His other must not contain him. This is as they both wish.

And yet -

Painful. It is painful.

He sees himself through his other's eyes, feels his own flesh beneath his other's hand. The fingers upon his cheek are fever hot. Someday, he ponders, he will be burned to cinders by this touch, and that will be that.

He smiles, slow and sly, and lays his white hands on either side of his other's face, pulling it down to his. Their lips touch.

"Return," he says. "To me."

His other's face twists with the strain of being pulled in two directions.

"No."

"Yesss..."

Their tongues twist together. A press of fangs; blood passes between them, bright and sharp.

Abruptly his other clutches at his waist with force enough to bruise, pulling him closer. He allows this, welcomes it, and slips his arms over his other's shoulders. They are broader, stronger than his own - it has always been a subject of fascination to him, that a container might so easily contain something larger than itself.

Their bodies come together in a long, warm line. They are aroused already, their nerves ablaze with the rush of the hunt, the kill. The cock pressing into the crook of his hip is rigid and insistent; he twists to rub his own up against it. The sensation reaches through his own flesh, and through his other's flesh - and then through his own flesh again in turn, a closed circle of sensation, a reflection thrown back and forth into infinity. The magnitude of it steals his breath away, hissing through his teeth.

His other's face burrows into the curve of his neck, growling.

"Touch me," he demands, running his own hand over his other's bronzed skin, over folds of golden cloth, and down to cup the throbbing there beneath. "Here."

His other mimics his motions, suckling at his white throat. He feels the scrape of his other's fangs and bares his own in pleasure, arching against the hand that teases him.

"Ah..."

Cloth is ripping. He feels his obi slipping off, his robes falling open, his leggings torn away. He cannot help but curl his lips in amusement; one day, he always thinks, one day this will all be reflected into the material world, and he will be left half-dressed and wanton-eyed before his bemused onlookers. Such an awkward situation that would be.

But he does not complain. He only clutches the front of his other's robes, pulling, carrying them both down...

down...

And he wraps his legs around his other's hips, purring low in his throat as his other's hand encircles his cock, milking him firmly. His eyes drift closed, letting his other see for him:

A wanton image indeed, head thrown back and lips parted invitingly, robes slipping low on his shoulders;

His own white chest beneath his other's wet tongue;

A glimpse of pale pink nipple before his other's teeth close around it, sharp and immediate -

There is a sudden twang, like the plucking of a koto string, down low in his belly. It pulls his body into an arc, taut and quivering, startles a strangled groan from his throat. He curses softly, his nimble fingers finding their way beneath those golden robes and working their way inside his other's leggings.

(He tears nothing. He has always been the more patient and precise of the two.)

He frees his other's arousal from its confines, stroking the length of it, and his other surges forward, clutching at his hips, as if to plunge inside him then and there.

"Wait," he says. When there is no response (nor, indeed, any suggestion his other has even heard him,) he grabs hold of all that silvery hair and yanks his other's head back viciously.

"Wait," he repeats, scolding.

His other growls, pulse jumping in the long brown line of his throat, fingernails digging into the flesh beneath them.

"Do you think," he smirks, "I'll let you so blithely hurt this body?" He reaches inside his loose robes for the oil, pulling the cork from the small bottle with his teeth; then he upends it over his other's cock, spreading it over the length - slowly, slowly.

Satisfaction unfurls within him as he watches his other's dark eyes glazing over, mouth falling open in a silent groan. Once again he tangles his free hand in his other's hair, this time to pull the warmth closer.

"Why are you so impatient...?" he wonders. There is no answer; but he had not expected one.

He lifts his knees a bit higher, guiding his other between his legs. "Careful," he says - though he does not truly expect that either.

Nor does he get it. His other's cock forces its way into him in one long, brutally smooth thrust. He lets out a harsh cry, and tightens his legs around his other's hips to hold them still. It's too much, too quickly; he feels like he is coming apart. His eyes squeeze shut and his teeth clench at the burning ache of it, his fingernails cutting half-moons into his other's shoulders.

Through his other's eyes, he sees the brilliant red markings reappear upon his own face, the power now balancing between them. Containing a thing larger than himself, indeed. His lips quirk at the thought, even through the pain.

"You," he gasps after a long moment, "are contrary."

His other's body trembles with the need to move. "It is only my nature."

He laughs - he can't help it. He laughs, and his other shudders at the vibration, and then his own breath catches in turn. "So it is," he murmurs, loosening his grip. "So it is." He plants his hands on the broad chest above him and pushes, flipping them over so that he straddles his other's hips.

"And that is why you..." He takes his other's hands in his own, pins them. "...should lie..." Leaning down, he brushes his lips over the tapered shell of his other's ear. "...beneath me." His tongue flicks out, and his other inhales sharply, hands flexing. "Correct?"

He moves. Slowly, maddeningly. His other makes an inarticulate sound and bucks up beneath him, but he rides the motion, forcing his other to follow his rhythm, smooth and deliberate.

Time is suspended in a single, glistening drop, and they move like that for a small eternity. There is only the awareness of the cock sliding within him, filling him deeper, deeper; only the awareness of his other, surrounded and bound by his tight heat -

Unable to bear it any longer, his other wrenches out of his grasp with a groan, clutching at his waist. He allows this - allows his other to break the rhythm into a furious pounding, each thrust jarring little noises from his throat, his other's breath ragged in his ears.

"I," he says, and then gasps for breath. "I won't last much longer."

His other's only answer is to bite him viciously. He grits his teeth against the inevitable.

"Come," he orders hoarsely. "Return to me."

His other roars, head flinging back and body arching up in a final, shattering thrust. As the golden markings fade from his other's skin, the release bleeds over into him, and his mouth falls open in a silent shout. It catches him by surprise, always, this flowing. His toes curl, fingers clawing, as orgasm takes him in its shuddering hold.

Spent, he slumps over to stare into his other's now strangely bare face. Their chests rise and fall against one another. "It's time," he says.

"Ah."

He is standing upon the table in the center of the room, sheathed sword in hand. Two old women are huddling in the corner, gaping at him.

The mononoke is gone.

And his other is safely sheathed away -

inside.
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lim⋅i⋅nal ho⋅ri⋅zon

–noun
a place only seen through a green door.

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