Prompt: MS/Fox-mask man; tell me a secret
Rating: G/PG

Smoke pours from the Medicine Seller's lips, sweet and luminous, billowing like silk. Swirls of shadow and light suggest images, memories, forgotten things.

The mask is the first thing to take shape.

The Medicine Seller regards it curiously. "You are an illusion which has overstayed its welcome."

Its teeth snap together, and it chuckles softly. The curtain of smoke is swept aside, and the man in the fox-mask steps out from behind it. Smoke combs into shining white hair in his wake.

"Why," the Medicine Seller asks him, "are you still here?"

The man gives a derisive grunt. "You're in no position to ask me that."

The Medicine Seller breathes out another thoughtful cloud of smoke. Snarls float through the thin walls, chasing after a woman who is no longer there.

"Well then," says the Medicine Seller, rising to his feet. "Why don't you tell me a secret?" He lifts his hand, runs his fingertips over smooth lacquer, tracing the contours of teeth and muzzle. "If I pull this mask aside, what will I find underneath?"

"You already know the answer."

"I might. But perhaps you might tell me yourself."

"Well then," says the man in the mask, slipping the pipe from the Medicine Seller's hand. "Perhaps you'll tell me a secret."

"Oh?" The Medicine Seller tilts his head, waiting. Clouds of smoke boil up from the pipe, wrapping around them and veiling the world in white. From the next room angry cries still filter through, muffled and distant.

"If Ochou did not murder those people beyond the door, then where was her jail cell?"

"Bound up in her own illusion," the Medicine Seller says.

"Then why," the man in the mask demands, leaning closer, "did you try to keep her there?"

The Medicine Seller lowers his head and smiles softly; and then he pulls the mask away.

---

Prompt: Kayo, MS; Kayo watches MS sleep and sees things in him she does not expect.
Rating: PG

She's often wondered if he sleeps. She's not sure getting beaten to exhaustion counts.

His head is pillowed in her lap, his face smooth and peaceful despite all the blood. His lips are curled just slightly - almost a smile. Though as subtle as any other smile she's seen flicker over his face, it is utterly different from all the others; it hides no secrets, shapes no artifice. Not even the impish flick of purple paint at the corners of his mouth can lend it a hint of mockery. It is so unlike any expression she's ever seen in him that she stares, fascinated.

What could evoke such a smile from him? To face such horror, to learn the awful truth of it - after looking into the depths of mankind's depravity so frankly, how could he be at peace?

She looks over to the mononoke's remains: two skeletons intertwined, now as at peace as they would ever be. After a moment, her mouth falls open in surprise.

"Just who did he save?" she had once wondered of him, after the Sakai family had all fallen to the bakeneko's claws. But he had not come to save the Sakai family, had he? No. He hadn't even come to save Kayo or Odajima-sama, though he'd done his best to protect them along the way.

Just who had he saved? Of course. Of course. He'd saved the mononoke.

"Stupid," she mutters as she turns back to his sleeping face. "You can't save the whole world like that! It's impossible!"

But looking at him now, she knows that he will keep trying for a long, long time.

---

Prompt: MS; cyberpunk AU "ghost in the shell"
Rating: PG
Notes: Just... don't ask. I have no idea what the hell I was thinking, okay. I was half asleep when I wrote it, and am merely relieved it contains no flying walruses. (This was also supposed to contain Otherself, but somehow I completely failed in that regard. On the upside, it also fits the "ghost in the machine" prompt from the last 'thon, though I have no idea if it's at all Gibson-ish.)

This modern age has made of him a strange and flickering thing. With each movement his edges smear around him, color leaking from his sleeves and soaking into this illusory landscape. Butterflies trail in his wake.

Fingers point as he passes, shadowy figures clustering and whispering over private communication lines. There is laughter, a few catcalls and jeers.

"Hey hey, nice dress you got there, man!"

"What kinda fetish party you headed for?"

He feels them all like a distant buzzing of insects. Their edges are vague, their colors faded. There is hardly anything left of them. No wonder they stare: he bleeds out paint into their world even as the machine eats them, turns them gray as ghosts.

He continues straight down the path to the steps of the golden temple. It rises up, up, almost touches the sky; but perhaps this is not such an impressive feat, when the sky looms so close to the ground. His geta sound crisply against each gilded step as he begins his ascension.

"Hey!" he hears someone calling behind him. "Hey!" The shadow-man catches up to him, falling in step on his right. "You new here or something?" he asks. "You can't just go in here, man. You have to have admin privileges."

The Medicine Seller says nothing; he only smiles and continues to climb.

"What, are you tripping on something?" the man asks. "Well, whatever. It's not like the doors are gonna open anyway."

The reach the top. The red-lacquered doors rise up before them, seem to stretch themselves taller as they look up. There is a loud clank, and then the doors begin to open of their own accord, hinges groaning under the immense weight.

"They - they opened..." says the man. He stares, open-mouthed.

"They opened," the Medicine Seller repeats, and enters.

"Hey - hey wait!" the man calls after him. As the Medicine Seller passes through, the hinges give a horrible shriek, and the doors begin to close. After a moment's hesitation, the shadow-man runs in, close at the Medicine Seller's heels.

The doors shut behind them with a resounding clank, shutting out the light.

"It would have been better," the Medicine Seller murmurs, and the man starts at the sound of his voice, "if you had stayed outside." He sets his pack down on the floor beside him. "Well, it's fine this way, too. Isn't it?" He looks up, and the shadow-man follows his gaze, seeing nothing. It is too dark to make anything out clearly; he sees only vague shapes, glints of light reflecting off of gold paint on the distant walls.

A deep, androgynous voice booms out from the darkness: "Who has entered without my leave? Who dares enter this sacred space?"

The shadow-man makes a funny little sound in his throat, as though he is thinking better of his decision to come.

A soft light begins to suffuse the chamber, emanating from the space before them. Something begins to take shape within the light, as though forming out of the darkness itself. A figure several stories tall, a golden giant, carved silks wrapped about supple hips, bare breasts resplendent with jewels and pearls: a monstrous thing with a multitude of arms, all reaching out like rays from the sun. Above it all an exquisitely beautiful face gazes down, wise as eons, implacable as the ocean.

"Answer me," says the statue. "Who has entered my temple?"

"Merely... a simple medicine seller," said the Medicine Seller with a quirk of his lips. Beside him the man had thrown himself to the floor and prostrated himself.

"Why do you trespass here? Know you not the punishment for your actions?"

"Actually..." said the Medicine Seller, slipping his sword from his sleeve. "I was hoping you might teach me... Kannon-sama."

A soft clink echoes through the chamber, light flashing off of the Medicine Seller's small, sharp teeth.

---

Prompt: female!MS/OS; with hands tied
Rating: R/NC-17
Notes: I turned MS into a chick and it's rated NC-17, that should be warning enough. Also, I realized belatedly that this is incredibly similar to some non-genderswitch porn I wrote for the two a while back.

It is not always so easy; he is not always so agreeable. She pulls him back, bars his way the same as she does with the sword that ties them together: plasters him with charms, makes a rope of them around his wrists to hold him in place. She brings him struggling to his knees.

"Did you think you could fly from me so easily?" she asks. Blood drips from her temple down the side of her face, trickles lazily down her neck, over her shoulder, between her breasts. Her concentration had faltered but for a moment - but it had only taken that brief moment, that one small slip, and he was a mere beast fighting to break free.

She swings one leg over him and lowers herself, straddling his hips. The muscles in his shoulders and arms quiver, straining uselessly against their bonds. He growls, his head dipping forward, teeth sinking into her shoulder. She winces, hisses through her teeth.

"Enough," she commands, winding her fingers through his hair. She pulls his head back with a vicious yank. His eyes blaze up at her, his bared teeth glistening with her blood. She licks it off with delicate little laps of her tongue.

"Don't forget," she says, reaching down to free his straining cock. She strokes it once, twice, and he growls again. "I am all that holds you back." Slowly she lowers herself down, drawing him inside, sucking in a breath as she feels him filling her, pressing up deep within.

His mouth opens in a silent cry, his head falling back to bare the long brown line of his throat, his pulse jumping just beneath the skin.

"Yess..." she hisses. "I'm all that makes of you a thinking thing. Without me, you'd only burn down the world."

He arches, struggling against his bonds again, groaning at the feel of her surrounding him, enveloping him.

"Though perhaps..." she smiles, "that's what you want... Isn't it?"

He can only thrust against her helplessly as he succumbs.

---

Title: Anima
Pairing: MS/Kayo/genderswitch!Otherself (m/f/f)
Rating: NC-17
Words: 523

It was embarrassing; she kept dreaming about not him but her.

It had started when they had first lain together, his cool hands spreading like white lotuses against her skin. He was infuriating; he made her jerk, twist, gasp, all with easy flicks of his fingers and tongue, but she could hardly elicit so much as a hitched breath out of him. The paint on his lips did not even smear.

Then slowly, like a bright shadow glimpsed at the corner of her eye, she had felt another presence there at the edge of her awareness. At first it was only a strange heat where there should be none - pure heat rolling all the way down the curve of her back. Gradually it became the ghost of a breath against her ear; the brush of a hand along her side; the press of another body against her and a hard thigh sliding between her legs.

It was odd, but she was not afraid; somehow she knew before she even asked that to lay with him was also to lay with her. It seemed such a logical conclusion.

"It's her, isn't it?" Kayo whispered.

"Yesss," said the Medicine Seller, turning the word into a hiss as his fingers sought their way between her thighs. Kayo gasped and arched into the touch.

She was so different from him, this ghost of the golden woman; she burned. His body was so cool against her over-heated skin, but this ghostly presence was like fire, brooking no such relief. She felt the press of breasts against her back; thought, though she could hear nothing, that she felt the rumble of a growl as fangs scraped over her neck. The woman's touch was forceful and demanding next to the light and teasing pale fingers before her. There was a sense of devastating strength only barely restrained.

Kayo was not frightened, but she was glad the Medicine Seller was here, all the same.

Kayo turned toward her, curious for the feel of soft breasts against her own. She closed her eyes, and imagined she glimpsed a flash of black-gold eyes, a ticklish trail of white hair over the dusk of her skin as the woman's head moved down -

Oh. Oh.

The Medicine Seller swallowed her scream as she writhed beneath them, his tongue coaxing her mouth open wide as the golden woman's delved deep within her.

Afterward she could not stop dreaming about her. Every time she closed her eyes, there the woman was like an afterimage burned into her mind, a long lean body with heavy breasts and hips like a soft contradiction. Sleep brought the touch of hands as brown as her own, the scrape of fangs against her throat, her breasts, the juncture of thigh and hip: a tongue that would not stop no matter how long she shuddered and twisted and writhed.

Nearly every morning for weeks now she had woken with damp thighs and a delicious ache that would not go away. This is ridiculous, she thought. This is just silly.

Even so, she couldn't bring herself to wish for it to stop.

---

Fandom: Mononoke
Characters: MS, OS, Kayo
Prompt: Grief
Rating: G/PG
Date: 8/8/08
Originally written for the Mononoke 'thon on [profile] mononoke_anime.

An old woman becomes young again, right before his eyes. The wrinkles of skin melt into a smooth surface, supple and dark; her voice changes, stretches, the cracks and infirmities washed away from the vibrance it once held.

"I guess I just couldn't forget, huh?" she says, looking almost embarassed. "I didn't mean to cling on like that. I just - I wanted to say, just once, 'let me go with you.'"

"I thought you wanted love," he says. "A husband. Children."

"Yes. Yes, I did. And I had them. But you weren't there."

"I could not have given you those things."

She laughs, her eyes glistening. "Oh, I know that. Even then, I knew that. It's why I never said it. What girl wants to go traipsing about the country looking for murderous spirits?" She laughs again, sniffs, wipes a tear from her cheek. A smell of burnt cinnamon - she knows without looking what stands behind her. If she closes her eyes but a moment, she fancies she feels a brown hand glowing with gold, reaching out to touch her hair, gently, so gently; but it is probably only a fancy.

"It hasn't been a bad life," she says. "I wasn't unhappy. I just... couldn't forget."

"You could not die."

"Not until I saw you again." She smiles. "It's all right. I'm sorry I had to trouble you over such a little thing."

"Not little," he says, reaching out to touch her cheek as the sword falls, silently. "Not little."

An old woman frees her last breath as his painted lips press to her brow, the creases like a map of time beneath them. Slowly, he straightens, lifts his medicine box onto his back, and leaves.

---

Pairing: MS/Otherself
Prompt: Fangs
Rating: NC-17
Date: Apr. 7th, 2008

Sometimes, it is like this: his other bound and growling, straining to break free.

He smiles, a baring of sharp, neat little teeth. "No..." he murmurs. "Your part is done here... for now."

Sometimes, his other comes to him willingly, remembering their purpose, their one desire. Sometimes, it is like this.

By the time he is guiding his other's cock inside him, sliding down onto it with a hissing breath, his other's fangs are sinking into his flesh; he jerks, grimacing as his skin tears, as his other laps at the blood that flows forth. To maintain balance (in retaliation, he admits to himself with a smirk,) he winds his hand in that silvery hair and yanks his other's head back, scrapes his own fangs down the long, brown line of his other's throat. The blood that trickles between his lips is incidental; the same blood runs through both of their veins.

His other gasps, jerking up with a strangled groan, thrusting deep inside. The resistance never lasts for very long.

---

Pairing: MS/Kayo
Prompt: Masturbation as ritual
Rating: NC-17
Date: Apr. 4th, 2008

At first it is merely a sharp tugging, as if on a string. He can almost feel it tightening around his little finger, cutting into his flesh, insistent.

"Ho...?" he murmurs. Curious now, he tugs back, follows that glowing red line to its source.

He finds it in the form of dusky skin shining with sweat, cherry-stained lips parted and gasping, dark hair in glistening disarray. He crooks one brow, the corner of his mouth quirking upward.

"How dangerous... Kayo-san."

She does not hear him, of course; does not see him there, watching from above. Nor can she know just what it is she's doing, calling out to him in heated whispers like that, one hand moving between her legs, the other moving up her body to cup the heavy spill of one breast. Her eyes squeezed shut, her brows knitted with feverish intensity, she calls for him again and again, each another sharp tug on the line between them. Suddenly she throws her head back, and her body arches up, shuddering; she muffles her cry with the back of her fist.

Her eyes flutter open as her body relaxes, looking straight at him. Slowly, they widen, and he can see the beginnings of some sort of realization dawning there. He has been seen - or perhaps she only senses and knows by the prickling at the back of her neck, the sudden chill over her sweat-dampened body.

In her shock she has dropped the string, and he is returned abruptly to himself.

"You mustn't, Kayo-san," he says softly. "You mustn't meddle in such dangerous things."

He will admonish her when next they meet - as they surely soon will, after what she has done. He imagines that her cheeks will flush hotly, rose-pink even through the darkness of her skin; imagines her horrified stammering, her panicked embarrassment. A dull ache curls warm and pleasant through his loins. "It seems... it can't be helped," he says, lips curling.

He cannot bring himself to be sorry.

---

Prompt: Mononoke, "Medicine Seller/Kayo: the more things change, the more they stay the same"
Rating: PG/PG-13
Date: Jan 07, '08

The aging seamstress once told him: "It's so strange - I keep having this feeling, like we've met before."

"Of course, Kayo-san," he had replied, his lips quirking. "We have met on several occasions. Had you forgotten?"

Now she is a seamstress with lean and calloused hands; now she is the wife of a samurai, well-cared for and stifled; now she is a whore in Shimabara, coy and sophisticated; now she is the son of a potter, earnest and gentle. She dies of old age, of small pox, the victim of a murder, trampled by a horse in the street. Sometimes she is a man, but usually a woman; sometimes she is a noble, but usually a peasant. The same woman looks out of a myriad different eyes.

Occasionally they lie together, their hair tangling like the threads that bind them. Her flesh always tastes of sweet spice on his tongue.

This actress is a different woman; this actress is the same woman.

The actress tells him: "It's so strange - I keep having this feeling, like we've met before."

"Of course, Chiyo-san," he replies, his lips quirking. The film crew is gone; the set is empty and hollow; the mononoke has been destroyed. She may yet achieve her dream, but not in this place, not at this time. He can see by the tightness in her eyes that she blames him, just a little. "We met on a train, not half a year ago. Had you forgotten?"

"No," she says, shaking her head impatiently. "That's not what I mean. I mean - before that."

"Well," he murmurs, drawing the word out. "Perhaps we have met... sometime before."

Her lips purse and she stares at him intently, as if to see through to all the things he does not say. He bows low to her before turning to leave; he is done here.

"Until next time," he says.

---

Request: Mononoke, "MS about +-12 years old"
Words: 189
Rating: G
Date: Jan 07, '08

It is nearly impossible, now, to remember a time before.

There must have been, he thinks. There is a memory, vague as a windswept reflection, of a child's face staring back out of the water at him. He peers at this face in his memory, trying to discern: was it always so pale? Did this painted grin always grace his lips? He cannot remember himself any other way.

The sky above reflects beneath, broken by pebbles plunking one-by-one through the white clouds. As the ripples coil outward, the child's face twists and shifts, and a different face, golden-brown and shining, glints through. Their fingertips touch along the surface of the water. They are one and the same, now and always.

There was never a time before.

This singular purpose has rippled outward; has shifted his reflection; has defined his entire existence. If there was a time before, it is no longer. It has been rewritten. He has always been two, as long as the moon and the sun have shone in the sky. This is the way of things - now, then, forever.

Until the world has been cleansed.

---

Prompt: Mononoke, "The Medicine Seller and the passing of time"
Words: 368
Rating: G
Date: Dec 31, '07

It is not linear; nothing about it is linear. A circle is closer to the proper shape, but what is a circle but a line connected end to end? It is not a circle either.

The closest one might come to understanding is the spiral of a snail's shell, coil encircling endless coil. But one does not travel as a single point around and around. All coils exist simultaneously; otherwise, it would not be a spiral. There are no single points of reference, but for the relative singularity of perception.

And in whichever direction one's perception might travel, outward or inward, it will always arrive back at the center.

Mortal lives are so very short. A mortal has not the frame of reference to feel its own existence coiling around upon itself. It dies and is reborn, never sensing the repetition of its own actions. Mortals know only how to look in front or behind; side-to-side escapes their notice entirely. People reflect each other like mirrors winking in and out within a sea of life and death, growth and decay. Everything changes; nothing changes.

His reflection shines out of their eyes, always the same.

It is not hard for him to stretch out his arms and brush his fingertips against his own; it is not hard for him to slide between the thin walls, to look out from a different (the same, only a little smaller, a little larger) coil. He feels time coursing through him, and he flows. Always, one arrives back at the center.

The country has opened its borders. It was inevitable. Borders can never really remain closed, not a man's, nor a country's. There is no outside to close them against. The invisible threads of fate tangle across all time, across all borders, inescapable by the smallest fish in the sea, by the highest god in the heavens. He is as tangled up as the rest of them. The black ships have sailed into the nation's collective memory; have always been there in memory, tall and dark and ambiguous.

Resentment festers. Man's inherent nature will never change. He has much work to do, in these turbulent times.

Always, one arrives back at the center.

---
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lim⋅i⋅nal ho⋅ri⋅zon

–noun
a place only seen through a green door.

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