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Title: Tale as Old as Time, 1/3
Chapter: 1 of 3
Author: Boots
Rating: THIS CHAPTER: PG-13. FIC AS A WHOLE: NC-17
Genre: Romance, smut, semi-fairy tale AU
Warnings: : FOR THIS CHAPTER: Non-explicit attempted rape. FIC AS A WHOLE: Male/male sex
Pairing: Yo-ka (DIAURA) x MiA (Mejibray)
Disclaimer: Mejibray belongs to White Side Group, DIAURA belongs to Ains, D=OUT formerly belonged to PS Company and are now free agents, X Japan is property of Warner Music Japan. Based on the 1992 Walt Disney Pictures film Beauty and the Beast, written by Linda Woolverton (there are quotes from the film throughout the fic; if you see something you recognize from your childhood, the words are most likely hers, not mine). Also contains elements from the original story written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and the 1946 film La Belle et La Bete, written and directed by Jean Cocteau.
Summary: Once upon a time, there was an island nation that had been ruled for years by three generations of brutal dictators, the latest and youngest of whom was known as The Beast. And then, a beautiful young man became a prisoner in his palace. Was he the one who could finally find the humanity within The Beast?
Comments: Cut in three pieces because of LJ’s post limits, there is a link to the next part at the end of each one. For the Power Play square of my Season of Kink card. Inspired by the DIAURA vs. Mejibray layout in Shoxx 282, with Yo-ka dressed as a dictator in a fancy military uniform and MiA dressed as a fairy tale princess.

Once upon a time, there was an island nation situated off the coast of Japan. It had always considered its neighbor an ally and trade partner, but it remained independent. For many centuries, it was a peaceful, happy place, governed by its own emperor, rich in abundant agriculture.

Then came darker times.

It started during World War 2, during which this country decided to take up arms and fight alongside Japan. Among the armies were all of the emperor's sons – who fell in battle. At the close of the war, the emperor, too, became a war casualty, felled by a bomb while visiting Tokyo.

The nation was left leaderless and decimated. Many of their crops had been destroyed in battle. Their economy was failing. And unlike Japan, there were no occupying Americans to at least help rebuild. There was turmoil and infighting as the country struggled to find a new government, a new ruler.

The general of the country's military took advantage of the chaos and seized control. He imposed martial law throughout the island. He cut them off from the rest of the world. And he installed himself as an absolute dictator.

His people began to live in fear of him. There was talk of all that happened to all who opposed him – the people who disappeared in the night, to be held in dungeons and repeatedly tortured, or simply killed. People reported seeing dead bodies placed outside the dictator's palace – the former palace of the emperor – as a reminder to the public what would happen if they did not obey.

They called their new leader The Ogre.

Years passed, and the country became even more cut off and isolated. Nobody was allowed to leave the island upon penalty of death, save for a few trade boats that brought agricultural goods to Japan and returned with cargos of things the island's residents needed – paper products, medicines and the like. No technology was allowed for years – lest the residents intercept radio and TV broadcasts from Japan, and find out how free people lived.

Eventually, The Ogre passed away, and his son took over – but he was just as bad, if not worse. A few rebellions sprang up – and the leaders were publicly executed in the streets. Attractive young women were kidnapped and brought to the palace to sate the new dictator's lusts – and if they refused, they were killed, and their bodies displayed in public as a warning to other women.

The second generation dictator was known as The Monster.

During The Monster's tenure, the country did get a limited mass media of its own – a couple of television stations, fed to residents' homes by cable (since broadcasts were prohibited), showing homegrown, government-approved programming – mostly dramas depicting traditional legends. There were also a few fashion designers who created clothes to be displayed in the island's shops, for men and women – which created the need for models to show those clothes at public fashion shows, one of the few true forms of entertainment allowed.

Stories of life prior to this hideous family taking over were relayed from the oldest to the youngest in secret – but they began to feel more and more like legends, fairy tales. However, they did inspire some residents to start a group called the Liberation Front and stage more rebellions – and those were usually put down quickly, as before. Most people resigned themselves to having to live under The Monster forever.

They did not take into account that even a brutal dictator is not immune to disease. And so it was that The Monster died when his son was still young, in his early-to-mid 20s. The son, of course, took over the country immediately – and the public didn't even wait to see what he would do before they came up with a name for him. They knew he'd be just like his father and grandfather.

They called him The Beast.

And so, the military continued to run rampant over the island, creating all kinds of havoc. The Beast himself, though, was never seen. It was said he never left his palace complex.

One member of his staff, however, kept a close watch on him. He knew this boy had the potential to be more than a Beast.

Minister Yoshiki had been forced into The Monster's service at an early age, because he was deemed to be intelligent and quick to learn – so he was allowed to be schooled in subjects the country forbid the public to learn, like history and the higher sciences. And he was an advisor to the dictator, trying to help him run his government in the most humane way possible – which wasn't very effective, given the Monster's tenure.

Something gave Minister Yoshiki hope, however – and that was the Monster's only surviving son. He lived in the west wing of the palace with his mother, who had been kidnapped at an early age to be the Monster's permanent concubine – a lovely woman who gave the boy a sense of, well, humanity.

His mother called him Yo-ka. That was the name Minister Yoshiki called the boy by, too.

She vanished all of a sudden one day. Whether the Monster killed her, or if he tired of her and sent her back to the city, keeping the boy, nobody was certain. But it was believed that he got rid of her, one way or another, because she was too good an influence.

And so The Monster brought the boy under his complete control, and taught him the ways of dictatorship. But Yoshiki still held out hope that Yo-ka was still there, somewhere inside The Beast.

All he needs, he thought, is to meet someone special . . . to fall in love. If he could love someone else, the way he loved his mother, that person could bring out the compassion in him, make him turn away from the ways of The Ogre and The Monster, make him human again.

Except time continued to pass, and The Beast continued to hide himself away from the public, except for his inner circle, his generals and advisors. And Yoshiki began to lose hope, and believe that he would never meet that person. Because even if an outside person came into his orbit, would he or she be too frightened of the dictator to even try to gain his love?

Who could ever love a Beast?


* * *

MiA left his house in the early morning, looking around him. Little town. By the standards of the island, a peaceful village. Each day like the one before.

People were calling out hello to each other. He just kind of walked between them. He was, after all, considered . . . rather odd. Beautiful, they said, but odd.

Maybe it was because he had his head in dreams so often. Because why think about living on this island when he knew there was a world out there . . . and other worlds above them, in outer space. He knew this because of his frequent visits to the bookseller.

There were only certain books that were legally allowed to be printed on the island, of course – mostly collections of traditional legends and histories that abundantly sang the praises of The Ogre and The Monster. But the bookseller also had special books, forbidden ones – books that were secretly smuggled in from Japan by the traders. Books that were filled with fantastic stories of other worlds.

MiA's favorites were the series of books called Star Wars, which took place in outer space and featured Jedi knights and droids and spaceships and all manner of wonderful things. He always seemed to have his nose stuck in one of them – even if it was concealed in the dust jacket of a “legal” book.

His destination today was his place of employment – the boutique of Avenant de Gaston, one of the island's fashion designers. Gaston was one of the few people on the island with foreign blood in him – he had a French ancestor who had come to the island long before the dark times, whom he was named after – and he never let people forget that, since it made him oh-so-special.

“Well, good morning, MiA,” the designer said as the young man walked in. “I have an exciting offer for you.”

“You have a new design for me to model in the next show?” MiA said.

“Well, yes, but that's not the offer. The offer . . . is dinner with me tonight.”

Oh, crap, MiA thought. Here we go again. “That's an offer I'm going to have to turn down, Gaston-san.”

“Why? What could be better than spending an evening in my company?” The designer ran into MiA's field of view, so that the model could fully see his employer's highly gelled dyed blond hair, his three-piece suit with a cravat tie – who else on the island wore a CRAVAT? – and the flash of jewelry on his hands. If there was any kind of beauty luxury available on the island at all, Avenant de Gaston made sure to grab it. “I am a splendid conversationalist. I am a magnificent dancer. And I am a lover like no other. Think of it, MiA. I could make your life a paradise on earth.”

“No thanks,” MiA said. “I like earth just as it is.”

“What are you going to do – sit home all evening with your nose stuck in a book like you usually do? How could those books be more entertaining than me? They don't talk!”

“Some people use their imagination,” MiA said. “Sorry, Gaston-san, but you're going to have to content yourself with one of your swarms of admirers. Because I'm not among them. Now, what are we actually going to do today, work-wise?”

There was the sound of drums in the street. The two of them turned to the window to see a battalion of soldiers marching past the boutique.

“All day long,” Gaston said. “All day long, they have to come in front of my store! It drives away customers!”

“You try telling The Beast that,” MiA said as he headed back into the workroom. He not only was one of the models for Gaston's line, he helped put the clothes together. Anything to get the money to put food on the table for him and his brother.

Well, almost anything. Dating – or anything beyond that – his employer was out of the question. And no matter how much his boss persisted, he would never give in.

* * *

MiA poked his head into the room at the back of the house – the one that was his brother's workshop. He knew enough to enter with caution – because you never knew when something in there might be smoking, or blowing up, or just shooting off sparks in all directions.

“Kouki?” he called. “Are you in there?”

His brother suddenly shot out from under the cart-like contraption that was on the floor. “Oh, hi, MiA,” he said. “It's that time already? How was your day?”

“Same old same old,” MiA said. “Sewed some outfits, took some orders, got hit on by the jerk. What about you?”

“Oh, I've had a grand success of a day,” Kouki said. “It's ready, MiA! I'm going to take this to the patent office tomorrow. They won't be able to turn me down this time! I mean, this country needs a compact wheat thresher – which can also be used as road transportation! Harvest your crops, then take your special someone on a date!”

“I'm sure they'll love it,” MiA said – but he had doubts. After all, none of his brother's other inventions had been accepted by the government – since gadgets, like anything else, needed approval. If even one of Kouki's contraptions sold, and went into production . . . well, MiA wouldn't have to put up with constant sexual harassment, would he?

“I know we haven't had good luck before,” Kouki said, putting his arm around his brother's shoulders. “But this one will do it! This is the one that will allow us to make a living – and would have made Mom and Dad proud. We're going to be celebrating tomorrow for sure!”

“I'm sure we will.” MiA felt a sudden wave of melancholy at the mention of their parents. Their father had participated in one of the failed uprisings against The Monster – he'd died when MiA was only five. Their mother had succumbed to disease two years ago. The two young adults had been on their own ever since.

If we lived somewhere else, MiA thought, if we were in one of the countries out there that isn't ruled by a Beast . . . would our parents still be alive?

“Come on,” Kouki said. “Let's make a nice dinner and then turn in – because I need to leave bright and early!”

“You'll take a map, won't you?” MiA said. “You got lost last time, remember?”

“Don't worry,” Kouki said. “I've got it down pat this time! Really! Come on, trust your brother – I'll find that patent office, no matter what!”

* * *

Kouki found himself literally lost in the woods.

Okay, so he'd taken a wrong turn somewhere. He was supposed to go left at the brook, right at the big boulder – or was it the other way around? Never mind, he'd make his way back where he came from and try again.

He turned his contraption around and started driving it. Well, he didn't remember seeing that clump of bushes before. Okay, he'd make another turn, and try going this way . . .

He didn't realize he was passing a sign that said, “RESTRICTED AREA, DO NOT ENTER.”

In the palace of The Beast, a guard picked up something on one of the monitors that showed the woods surrounding the complex. He turned and headed down a corridor, pausing at the door of an office.

“Sir,” he said, “there is a trespasser in the woods. What should we do?”

“Is he armed?” said the figure who was sitting in an office chair, his back to the door.

“We don't think so – but he's driving some sort of odd vehicle.”

“Bring him and the vehicle back in here,” the man in the chair said. “I will question him myself.”

“Yes, sir,” the guard said, and left the room.

The figure in the chair stood up, and stared out the window for a moment. Then, he reached beside him, to where garments were hanging on a coatrack. He put a cloak over his head, so it covered most of his hair, then fastened a veil across the lower part of his face.

This trespasser probably had no idea he was about to come face to face with The Beast.

* * *

MiA paced around the living room, feeling frantic.

His brother hadn't arrived home. He hadn't called – the island had wired phone service, although the common populace was not permitted cell phones.

He knew that Kouki had a thing for getting lost – but this was beyond anything his brother had ever done before.

There was no choice but to venture out and ask around – although it was getting dark, and not very many of the people dared to go out at night. Darkness was, after all, when people tended to disappear and never be seen again.

He noticed a light still on in Gaston's shop. His employer might be the last person in the world he wanted to see right now, but if he'd heard anything . . .

MiA burst into the store. “Gaston-san! Have you seen my brother?”

The designer looked up from his ledger books. “Well, no. Why?”

“He's missing. He went to the patent office with his latest invention, and he hasn't come back, and . . .”

“There, there, MiA, there's no need to be frantic.” The designer got up and moved toward him. “Let me comfort you.”

“I don't want comfort!” MiA snapped, stepping backward. “I want to find my brother!”

“I can help, I can help. You and I will search for him together, hmm? I know some places where . . .”

Fortunately, a young couple happened to be passing the store at that moment, the woman saying, “ . . . and my uncle said he saw that crazy inventor being arrested.”

“Arrested? No way!”

“He was cutting through the woods, right outside the forbidden area, and he saw them dragging him off – funny contraption and all. It was from a distance, but it was definitely . . .”

MiA's breath caught. Arrested? Dragged off to the palace? That meant her brother was at the mercy of . . .

“I have to go there!” he said.

“MiA, that's no place for a pretty young thing like you, alone,” Gaston said, grabbing for his arm. “Here, let me . . .”

“Don't touch me!” MiA shrugged his employer's touch off. “Just let me go to him!”

“You refuse me now,” Gaston said. “But you will come around, MiA. Being with me is your destiny. The sooner you accept it, the better it will be. Besides – why deny yourself the absolute happiness I can give you?”

“I'd rather find my brother!” MiA shouted, running from the shop. He looked up at the hill, where the palace was. He could use one of his brother's other cart-like inventions. If he did that, he could be there within an hour.

He wasn't thinking about any danger to himself. He just knew he had to get Kouki back – by any means possible.

* * *

MiA pulled up to the palace gates, peering through them. They were imposing, all right, all wrought iron topped with barbed wire, concealing the much more elegant building inside.

There was a loudspeaker built into the gates, with a buzzer. MiA pushed it, and was rewarded with a cold, hard voice saying, “State your business.”

“I need to speak with The Beast,” MiA said.

“Nobody speaks with him,” the voice replied. “Good day.”

“He has my brother!” MiA said. “He was grabbed in the woods this afternoon! It was a mistake, he meant nobody any harm, he just got lost . . . please, let him go!”

A weak voice in the background said, “MiA, is that you?”

“Kouki!” he shouted. “Kouki, it's me, what have they done to you?”

“Just go, MiA,” Kouki said. “Run away from here before they get you, too.”

“I'm not leaving without you!” MiA said. “I will stand here all night and not let them alone until they decide to give you back to me!”

Suddenly, the gates in front of him began to swing open. MiA jumped. What was going on?

“Come in, then,” said a new voice she hadn't heard before. “If you are such a devoted brother, then come in and see what we have done with him. He trespassed, and he is being treated accordingly.”

MiA ran up the path beyond the gates, through a wall of high, high hedges – meticulously trimmed. At least the Beast has an army of gardeners working for him, he thought.

The door of the palace swung open before he got there. Two guards were standing on either side of the doorway, and they immediately grabbed MiA under each arm. “Come with us,” one said.

“Are you taking me to my brother?”

“Just come with us,” the one guard snapped. MiA was led down a corridor, to a flight of stone steps, lit by torches mounted on the walls. He climbed down, and down, and down . . .

Eventually, he ended up in a dark, dank room, lined with holes in the stone walls, each one covered with bars. In one of those holes was his brother, one side of his face cut and bruised.

“Kouki!” MiA said, rushing over to him.

“I told you to run,” Kouki said. “If he comes back, he will . . .”

“I will what?” said a voice from the stairs. A black-cloaked figure descended into the room, eyes peering above a dark veil. All MiA could think of was that, in this dim light, this person resembled the villain of those books he loved – Darth Vader.

“Are you The Beast?” MiA said, trying to keep his voice steady – though he had to admit his legs were shaking. Not for his sake, for Kouki's.

“I have been called that, yes,” the newcomer said in a baritone voice. “You are the brother of this prisoner?”

“He does not deserve to be a prisoner!” MiA said. “He just got lost! I know how he is, he gets lost all the time! He didn't mean to . . .”

“He wandered onto my grounds with some sort of device,” The Beast said. “That means he trespassed, and therefore, he is a prisoner.”

“He is an unjust prisoner!” MiA said. “You have to let him go!”

“I will do no such thing,” The Beast said. “Those who intrude on my grounds have to be dealt with.”

“MiA, please, just leave, go home . . .” Kouki said.

“What if I took his place as your prisoner?”

“MiA, NO!” Kouki cried. “Don't do it!”

“Do you really mean that?” The Beast said.

“Yes,” MiA said. “I will barter my own freedom for his. How's that?”

“MiA, I can't let you do this!” Kouki said.

“Too late,” said The Beast. “The bargain is done.”

“NO!” Kouki said. “Let him go! I will stay here as long as you require!”

“Kouki, it's all right,” MiA said. “I'll be fine. Really. You go home.”

“You heard him,” The Beast said. “Go. Leave these premises, right now. Or I will have BOTH your heads.”

A guard unlocked the cell and roughly shoved Kouki out, then the two that brought MiA down began dragging Kouki upward. “I will come back, MiA!” Kouki shouted. “I will bring help! I will save you!”

“Don't even try if you want to live,” The Beast shouted back.

Quietly, MiA turned and walked into the cell his brother had vacated. The guard started to close the door behind him – when The Beast shot out a hand and grabbed it. “No,” he said.

“No?” said the guard.

“He committed no crime himself,” The Beast said. “He will stay in a regular bedroom. But he will not be permitted to leave these premises.” He turned and looked at MiA, eyes burning above the veil. “Do you understand?”

“I understand,” MiA said. He walked out of the cell and up the stairs, ahead of the two guards. He kept his head high, his vision straight.

If I am to be a prisoner, he thought, I will be a proud one.

Meanwhile, in another office, Minister Yoshiki looked away from the monitor on which he had watched what had happened in the dungeon. He turned and watched MiA being led down the hall.

He knew that his master was bisexual – he'd had physical-pleasure-only dalliances with both male and female members of his military. He could plainly see that this newcomer was strong in character and physically beautiful.

Maybe, he thought, he's the one. He will be the one who finds Yo-ka inside The Beast.

* * *

MiA's room was surprisingly comfortable. There was an old-fashioned queen-sized bed – with a canopy, matching the satiny blue coverlet on the bed. There was a bathing room with a shower and a water closet with a bidet.

If I have to spend the rest of my life here, MiA thought, I suppose it could be worse. I just wish I had some of my books with me. He lay back on the bed, closing his eyes, trying to relax . . . and hoping his brother got home all right.

Outside, Minister Yoshiki walked with The Beast toward MiA's door.

“If you're going to keep the young man here,” Yoshiki said, “be pleasant to him. Invite him to dinner.”

“Do I have to?” The Beast said.

“Well, you should,” Yoshiki said. “He was noble enough to sacrifice himself for his brother – you should grant him some courtesy. And give him the run of the palace, as long as he doesn't go outside alone.”

“Not the entire palace,” Yo-ka said.

“Well, no,” said Yoshiki. “You know and I know where he is forbidden to go.”

They paused outside the door. “Go on,” Yoshiki said. “Invite him.”

The Beast knocked on the door. “Will you come down to dinner?” he said.

MiA sat up. Did . . . did he just hear what he thought he did? He sighed. It was all too reminiscent of the harassment he got from his boss. “No, thank you,” he said.

“You have the run of the palace, by the way. Except for the west wing. You can't go there.”

“Thank you,” MiA said. “Now . . . I want to rest.”

“But will you have dinner with me?”

MiA sighed again. The goddamn dictator was getting persistent. “No,” he said. “I said no, thank you once, and I’m saying it again.”

“Well, then, STARVE!” The Beast said, storming away from the door. “If he doesn't eat with me, he doesn't eat with anyone!”

Minister Yoshiki sighed. “That didn't go very well, did it?” he murmured to himself.

* * *

MiA awoke from his nap a couple of hours later to find he was, indeed, hungry. I should have taken him up on the dinner offer, he thought.

Yawning and stretching, he left his room. The palace was quiet – most of the military had retreated to their barracks, just a few guards were scattered here and there. He went down the stairs, in search of the kitchen – maybe he could find something in the cupboards.

A pleasant-looking man in his 40s was passing down the corridor when he saw MiA wandering around. “Oh, hello,” he said. “You're the boy who . . .”

“Offered himself as a prisoner, yes,” MiA said. “And I'm wondering if it was the right thing to do.”

“If you did it out of love for your brother? Definitely the right thing.” The man bowed. “I'm Hayashi Yoshiki, chief minister of the Master's administration. Most people here call me Minister Yoshiki.”

“The Master is The Beast, correct?”

“Yes. That is what we call him here.”

“Does he have a real name?”

There was a pause. “Why don't you come into the kitchen? I'll have the staff make you dinner.”

“I thought the MASTER forbid it.”

“The master has retreated to his private chambers for the evening. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Go on, into the kitchen with you.”

MiA slowly entered the kitchen, looking around, slowly. It was bigger than the entire house he lived in with his brother, filled with gleaming chrome and ceramic and an array of fancy gadgets. It looked like the kind of thing one would find in a fancy restaurant.

A few servants were in there, putting away utensils and bowls, probably from a dinner served to the staff earlier. “Potsu-san, are there any leftovers you can warm up for this boy?” Minister Yoshiki asked.

“We have a fair amount of the beef with vegetables,” said an older lady with a rounded shape that reminded MiA somewhat of a teapot. “I could put some rice in the steamer and bring it out for him.”

“Excellent,” Yoshiki said. “We'll be at the table over in the corner.”

“I don't want to impose,” MiA said.

“Nonsense, dear,” the lady said. “When you're with us, you're our guest.”

“Thank you.” MiA bowed low, then followed Yoshiki to the table. “You have been with The Bea- with the Master long?”

“I've served his family nearly all my life,” Yoshiki said, sitting down at the table. “Not by my choice, mind you. I was singled out for my intelligence early on, so the powers that be decided I should be trained as an advisor to the previous Master.”

“The Monster,” MiA said.

“And he lived up to the nickname, too,” Yoshiki said. He glanced around, making sure nobody that could get him in trouble was listening, and then leaned over toward MiA, whispering, “He was a truly awful human being. He was obsessed with leading by fear, intimidation and his own sense of self-importance. Oh, and keeping everyone in his country ignorant of the ways of the outer world. He didn't want anyone getting any ideas about, heaven forbid, a free government. He'd execute anyone who he even suspected was a threat – including his own relatives.”

MiA shuddered. “How did you cope with living with a person like that?”

“It's a big palace. I only dealt with the Master directly when I had to. Most of the time, I stayed among the few nice people here – like the household staff. Oh, and the Master's concubine – the mother of the current Master.”

“Concubine?” MiA said – but was interrupted by Potsu-san rolling up a cart covered with dishes.

“There you are, dear,” she said. “The beef stew over rice, some pickles, and some tea. Let us know if you need anything else.”

“Thank you so much,” MiA said. He got his chopsticks and sampled the food. “It's good! Really good!”

“The food has always been magnificent here,” Yoshiki said. “One of the things that makes this place bearable.”

“Now, you were saying about The Monster's . . . concubine? He didn't marry her?”

“Neither he nor his father ever married,” Yoshiki said. “They just used and disposed of partners as they saw fit. They just plain weren't capable of love – and that was half their problem.”

“So why did The Monster keep the concubine here?” MiA said.

“She found favor with him – in a carnal way. So he held on to her. It's not as if she felt anything for him – she was afraid of what he'd do to her family if she tried to escape. Eventually, she gave birth to the previous Master's only child – the current Master.”

“And you said she was nice?” said MiA between bites. The food really was good – restaurant-quality.

“Lovely. Sweet and kind – the whole staff adored her. They called her The Rose. And she was a good mother to Yo-ka, too.”

“Is that the Master's real name?” MiA said.

“Don't ever say it around him,” Yoshiki sighed. “He will deny ever having been that person.”

“What happened to her – to The Rose, I mean?” MiA said.

“Nobody is quite sure,” Yoshiki said. “One day she was just . . . gone. Some people said that the Master killed her and hid the body. Others said he just sent her back to her family, but kept the boy. But everyone agrees on one thing – he considered her a threat to making the boy just like him. Another Monster.”

“So . . . he still carries the influence of his mother with him,” MiA said. Maybe he isn't so horrible after all, he thought.

“Deeply buried,” said Yoshiki. “The darkness of his father is currently obscuring the light of his mother. Although someday . . .” He let his voice trail off. “Never you mind. Once you've finished your dinner, I will take you on a tour of the house.”

MiA nodded – but he was left wondering what Yoshiki was going to say just now.

* * *

He couldn't imagine a place this big could exist in his wildest dreams.

The palace had been modified to be a mix of Western and traditional Japanese styles. Here and there were elegant tatami rooms with beautiful artwork on the screens. They were scattered among European-style ballrooms with grand marble floors, huge meeting rooms with long tables and leather-backed chairs, parlors filled with heavy wooden antiques.

One floor consisted of one bedroom after another. “This is where the staff lives?” MiA said.

“Yes, mostly,” Yoshiki said. “It's said that when the old emperor lived here, those rooms were filled with guests all the time. Now, well . . . nobody has voluntarily enter these premises in years.”

“And what's over there?” MiA said, peeking around a corner. He could see a set of grand double doors. There seemed to be some kind of soft pink light coming under them, as if something in the room was glowing.

“You can't go in there,” Yoshiki said, quickly. “That's the west wing. The Master has forbidden it.”

“I'm just going to look for a second,” MiA said, rushing over to the double doors. “Just to see what's glowing in there!”

He pulled the doors open and walked in . . . to find himself in a space that had a lot more of a feminine sensibility than the rest of the palace. The walls were covered with floral paper, the furniture was painted white and elegant. There was a bed covered in a ruffled pink spread, and on a table . . .

A crystal rose in a glass jar. It was catching the light of the full moon and sparkling. Yes, that must have been what MiA saw. He approached it, slowly . . .

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” roared a voice from the other side of the room.

MiA whirled around. Oh, crap. There was the figure in the black cloak – he was standing in the shadows, but the boy could make out the basic shape enough to know who he was looking at.

“I'm sorry,” MiA said. “I . . . I lost my way, and . . .”

“DIDN'T I SAY YOU WERE FORBIDDEN TO ENTER THE WEST WING?” the Beast shouted. “GET OUT! OUT NOW!” His arm extended from the shadows, and he was holding something in his hand, something that looked like a whip . . .

MiA turned and ran, blundering out the first door he came to and running down the hall. He was breathing hard and shaking – out of both fear and rage.

How dare he? MiA thought. How dare he speak to someone else like that?

It wasn't until he turned a corner that he realized he'd gone out a different door than he came in. He was in a dark hall, and there was no Yoshiki . . . but there was movement. Someone was walking toward him – no, more like stumbling.

“Hey, beautiful,” slurred a drunken voice. “Whatcha doing all alone at night? Don't think I've ever seen you before.”

MiA blinked in the darkness. The drunk was wearing a military uniform. Great, he thought, now I'm facing one of the guards, sloshed to the gills.

“I'll just be going on my way,” he said.

“No you won't,” said the soldier. “Pretty thing like you? It's playtime.”

“I don't think so,” MiA said – but he found himself grabbed in a vicelike grip, his arms twisted behind his back, and then his head shoved roughly into the wall, so he was in a bent-over position. Obviously, this guy might be several sheets to the wind, but his military reflexes were still there.

One hand let go of him, and MiA thought he'd get free – only to feel a knife blade pressed to his throat.

“Now, then, pretty,” the drunk said. “You're going to give me what I want right now, or . . .”

The crack of a gunshot rang out through the hall. MiA's attacker let out a choked sound and dropped the knife. MiA lifted his head and turned it toward his rescuer, expecting to see Minister Yoshiki.

Instead, it was the dark form of The Beast.

“Go on,” the dictator said. “Go around the corner and down the stairs, it will take you back to the main ballroom.”

MiA just stared at him for a moment. Did . . . did he just . . .

“You could have hit ME, you know!” he said.

“Well, if you hadn't run out of there like you did, I wouldn't have had to rescue you at all!” The Beast retorted.

“If YOU hadn't come after me like a ferocious animal, I wouldn't have run!” MiA snapped.

“If YOU hadn't been in the west wing, I wouldn't have gone after you!” yelled The Beast.

“Maybe YOU should just learn to control your temper!” MiA shouted, and started to storm off in the direction The Beast told him to go . . .

And then, he stopped, and turned around. “By the way,” he said, “thanks for saving me.”

“You're welcome,” The Beast replied.

MiA turned to go again, racing down the corridor, toward the ballroom – where he found a worried Minister Yoshiki.

“What happened?” the minister said. “I heard the gunshot.”

“It's a long story,” MiA said. “I'll tell you in the morning.”

* * *

MiA woke up wrapped in satin bedsheets, tossing around. What a dream, he thought. It was awful. My brother being arrested, me taking his place as The Beast's prisoner, The Beast screaming at me in the west wing, the attempted rape by the drunken soldier . . .

He sat straight up. He was in a room a lot bigger than the one at home. Those sheets against his skin? Real satin.

Crap. It wasn't a dream.

He jumped out of bed and headed for the wardrobe at the other side of the room. Was there anything in there that would fit him, he wondered . . .

There were some plain yukatas that seemed to be about his size. That would do for now.

He went into the bathroom, where there was a wrapped toothbrush, toothpaste and soap laid out. He turned on the shower, thinking that he never thought he'd actually miss being in Gaston's shop – until now.

Once he was done, he found indoor slippers that would fit his feet and headed downstairs, wondering if he'd be able to ask the kitchen staff for breakfast. They certainly seemed nice enough . . .

And then he froze as he saw the figure in black, veil across his face, coming toward him. It was HIM again.

“You could say good morning, you know,” The Beast said.

“So could you,” MiA replied.

“Look,” said the dictator, “it seems I owe you an apology for last night.”

MiA blinked. Did he . . . just hear . . . what he thought he did . . .

“You're new. It's easy for you to get lost. There's no way you could have known for sure where the west wing was. So, yes . . I . . . I . . . lost my temper.”

“All right,” MiA said. “Apology accepted.”

“But now that you know where it is, don't go there again!” The Beast said, sternly.

“Okay, okay,” MiA said. He was so overly sensitive about . . .

And then, he remembered what Yoshiki had said – that the west wing had been where his mother, The Rose, had lived. So the crystal rose in there must have been hers.

Does he miss her? MiA thought. Is he in eternal grief for her – and that's why he's so sensitive about those rooms?

“And I'm going to ask you again,” said the dictator. “Will you join me for dinner tonight?”

MiA was about to refuse – but he didn't want to risk another outburst like last night. Besides, he remembered what Yoshiki said about The Beast and his mother, about how she tried to make him more human than his father and grandfather.

Could it be, he thought, that there might be a tiny bit of her influence still there? Something, well, redeemable in him?

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I will.”

To Part 2

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
write_my_dreams
Jul. 2nd, 2016 03:39 am (UTC)
I should save this for the 3 hours I'll be in the car tomorrow, but I have to read now! Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time and I just live the new Shoxx photos. MiA looks so gorgeous and Yo-ka is his usual handsome self.

Kouki as MiA's brother is such a cute visual. And yuck, what an awful place for them to be trapped in... the Ogre, the Monster, and the Beast turning it into a hellhole. MiA's kidnapper would get along well with those three.

I'm curious to see if there's some scarring on Yo-ka's face and that's why he hides beneath his cloak and veil.
puss_nd_boots
Jul. 6th, 2016 05:35 pm (UTC)
Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney films, too - in fact, it's pretty safe to say the only Disney film that has a bigger place in my heart is Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I'm not touching fanfic-wise). That's why I tried to do the story as much justice as I could!

And yes, I agree that your Jin would get along very well with The Ogre and The Monster, because they're true sociopaths like he seems to be! (BTW, your feisty MiA in that fic was an influence on my portrayal of MiA here, who's a lot more forward than the MiA of Camera Eye or my genie fic).
write_my_dreams
Jul. 7th, 2016 03:39 pm (UTC)
I did wind up reading the other two parts in the car so I owe you comments for those. I planned to watch Beauty and the Beast again before I read though because you've put me in the mood to watch it! It's such a classic.

They're all horrible people who delight in pain and suffering. It's a miracle Yo-ka didn't turn out to be just like them. (Omg really? I'm so flattered! I'm glad my MiA could inspire you)
hamhamheaven
Jul. 2nd, 2016 03:54 am (UTC)
Ooo, interesting set-up. I think it actually works better than a supernatural curse, because the brainwashing of a dictatorial father would be so much harder to overcome! Yo-ka's fortunate to have someone like Yoshiki around: someone who has seen the good in him and will nurture it the best he can.

Meanwhile, Gaston is the annoying fop he's supposed to be, and Kouki is so perfectly adorable as the (older?) brother prone to getting lost. I hope his injuries aren't too severe!
puss_nd_boots
Jul. 6th, 2016 05:43 pm (UTC)
When I set out to do this fic, ground rule #1 was "nothing supernatural." Which made some things a challenge (the story had to work without a magical deadline for The Beast to fall in love), but in other ways, was kind of liberating. (No enchanted objects threatening to steal the spotlight from the central two!)

Yoshiki is definitely key to Yo-ka still having humanity buried deep inside. The fact that Yoshiki wasn't corrupted by all the brutality and corruption around him says a lot about his character - and the fact that he was so strong gave Yo-ka at least one positive influence in his life after his mother was gone.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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Kai Fadeless - by ldybastet
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