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Title: Flames of Love, Flames of Hate, Flames of Sorrow
Chapter: Standalone.
Author: Boots
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Supernatural AU, romance, smut, some horror
Warnings: Descriptions of murder, cruel and unusual punishment and suicide presented as nightmares and as events in the past – I tried to keep the violence as inexplicit as possible, but fair warning. (If you've seen the PV I'm basing this on, you know what you're in for.) Male/male sex, shower sex
Pairing: Junji x Mahiro (Kiryu)
Disclaimer: Kiryu belongs to B.P. Records, I own the story only.
Summary: For nearly all his life, Mahiro has been plagued by nightmares of a grisly murder and a horrific execution. Then, one day, he meets a psychic who claims to have the answers to what has been troubling him – and the key to ending the horror may be closer than he realizes.
Comments: My entry for the Summer Contest at jrockyaoi and for my Wild Card square on my Season of Kink card, for which I'm using the Washing/Cleaning kink. The prompt for the jrockyaoi contest was to take a PV and let it inspire you, so here's some sub-notes for this fic . . .
PV Used: Kiryu, Aien Kien
How It Inspired Me: The challenge said to take your favorite or least favorite PV as inspiration . . . well, Aien Kien is a PV that I normally have a very hard time watching. It's one of Kiryu's most bloody and disturbing videos, filled with images of torture, murder and suicide. But I had to wonder about the story behind the onscreen horror – just what drove Mahiro's character to commit such a heinous act? Is it just an act committed by a psychopath, or is there more to it? Which dovetailed with another half-formed idea I'd had about reincarnation and nightmares, and it just took off from there. The story and its title were also influenced by the four kanji used in the title of the song, which according to the Hip Hop Vomit blog are as follows:
愛 ai = love
怨 en = grudge/resentment/hate
忌 ki = sorrow/unhappiness
焔 en = flame/blaze

He was trapped. He could not move. His hands and feet were tied, and then, there were the two boards clamped around his neck that were anchored to the ground . . .

And then, the blade cut into his flesh. Pressing into the right side of his neck, and moving back and forth, agonizingly slowly. He screamed, as much in rage as in pain and terror, but nothing could stop it, the blade kept moving, cutting . . .

Sawing his head off, slowly.

He could see and feel the blood running, running, no way to stop it, no way to stop anything, and yet, he kept screaming, he was going to scream until they succeeded in killing him . . .


Mahiro woke up suddenly, gasping. He leaned forward, one hand on his head, one on his pounding heart.

Again. Again, that nightmare. The one that had haunted him ever since he could remember. Even when he was a child. His mother used to hold him when he’d wake up screaming and tell him it was only a dream, that nothing bad had happened to him, that he was safe and whole and very much loved.

How could it be JUST a dream, though, when it kept coming back?

He got out of bed, slowly, and made his way to the kitchen. There were always low lights on throughout his apartment, to help with his vision issues. It made it easy for him to navigate to the bottle of whiskey he always kept on the kitchen counter.

His friends and bandmates thought it was for entertaining. They had no idea it was to keep the horrors at bay.

He poured himself a glass and took a big swallow. He had to at least try to get back to sleep. The band was leaving early in the morning for Kyoto, they had a photoshoot there. Being an angura kei band, they spent a lot of time being photographed and filmed in the old capital, since it provided just the right backdrop for their traditional Japanese-inspired outfits.

At least when the nightmare happened, it usually didn’t come back the same night. He’d fall into a deep, dreamless sleep, but still feel uneasy the next day.

Of course, this might be one of those rare occasions when the OTHER recurring nightmare also surfaced . . .

He drained the glass, put it back in the sink and lay down on the couch. A change of venue usually helped him get back to sleep after the terrors.

If only there was some way to exorcise it, he thought. If only I could make it go away. If only I knew WHY . . .

* * *

“You look tired,” Junji said as he sat next to Mahiro on the shinkansen.

“Kind of a rough night,” Mahiro replied.

“Oh, yeah? Something on your mind?”

“Not really,” Mahiro lied.

“You know you can tell me anything, right? I’m good at keeping secrets. Really. I may talk a lot, but I know when it’s best not to talk.”

“I know,” Mahiro said. “Believe me, I trust you.” (But this sort of thing wasn’t easily talked about. He was afraid he’d come off sounding foolish for being so utterly spooked by what was, after all, just a dream.)

“It’s not that you like someone, is it?” Junji said, teasingly.

“What?” Mahiro nearly jumped out of his seat.

“Well, y’know, there’s that cute stylist who’s been working with you lately,” Junji said. “I know she’s been giving you the eye. Maybe you’re giving it right back?”

“I haven’t been giving her the eye!” Mahiro said.

“Or maybe it’s one of the guys in Royz or Codomo Dragon, hmm? You and Subaru HAVE looked rather snuggly together when you’ve taken pictures.”

“It’s not that I like ANYONE!” Mahiro nearly spluttered. Junji knew very well that Mahiro was bisexual – it was one of the things the two of them had in common.

“We’ll see,” Junji said. “But you know, if you like someone, you can talk to me about that as well, right?”

“I know,” Mahiro sighed.

He turned and looked out the window. He’d always liked Junji. Trusted him. Had more of a bond with him than he did with any of his other bandmates. He should be able to talk to him about what was wrong.

Why couldn’t he?

* * *

The stylists had done their work, and the photographers had done the majority of the group shots. They were taking individual members now, and Mahiro, being the vocalist, had gone first. (They always did everything in the same order – himself first, Junji last. You’d think that Takemasa, being Leader-san, would want to go first sometimes.)

He now had to wait until the others were finished, in case the photographer wanted to shoot them in smaller groups afterward, or do more full-group shots. He looked around . . . this shrine was only a few blocks from, well, THAT spot.

There was a park in Kyoto that Mahiro found himself drawn to like a magnet every time he was in the city. Particularly a section that had a koi pond over a little footbridge.

He put a long coat on over his costume, fastened a face mask over his makeup, and slipped away. That would at least minimize the risk of being recognized by fangirls, which wasn’t something he felt like dealing with right now.

When he reached the spot, he sat down and just stared at it. He really didn’t know why he was drawn here. They had nicer koi ponds at some places in Tokyo. But there was just a feeling that when he was here, he, well . . . belonged.

“You’re here again,” said a female voice above him. Mahiro nearly fell in the koi pond. He looked up, and saw an older woman on the bridge, with a severe, craggy face, her still-black hair drawn in an equally severe bun, wearing a traditional kimono.

“How do you recognize me?” he said. He always came here at least somewhat in disguise – how could anyone know who he was?

“Your aura,” she said. “I can see it clearly. It’s unique. A shade of purple like no other aura. I can read who you are – or rather who you were – thanks to it. And I know why you’re drawn here.”

Mahiro leapt to his feet. Was this woman mentally disturbed? “Who are you?” he said. “And how do you know about me?”

“Me?” the woman said. “I’m called Mari-san. You might call me a fortuneteller. A seer. One who sees things others can’t.”

A psychic, Mahiro thought. “Tell me,” he said. “Tell me what you know!”

“You’d best make sure you really want to hear it,” she said. “The last man who bore that aura . . . when he heard its secrets, it didn’t end well for him. Best you just get on with your present life.”

“Wait!” he said. “What do you mean by that?”

But he didn’t get an answer. The woman just walked away.

* * *

Since the staff figured the shoot would be running kind of late, they’d booked hotel rooms for the band. And being a band, the first place they went as soon as they were settled into their rooms was the hotel bar.

“Hey, roomie!” Junji called to Mahiro as soon as Mahiro walked in. Indeed, Mahiro and Junji were sharing a room – Mitsuki was with Hiyori, Takemasa got the “Leader-san privilege” of having his own. “Come sit down with me over there.”

Mahiro let Junji lead him to a table. It was times like this that he wished that he were the leader. As much as he liked Junji – and he liked him a lot – he could really use his own room tonight. The experience with the woman had him rattled.

“I’m amazed you’re not tired,” Mahiro said when they were settled with their drinks at a table to the side of the room. “That was a long shoot.”

“Tired?” said Junji. “Not me. I have boundless energy. Plus, I drank a couple of Red Bulls, so I should be up for days. You’re the one who I think is tired.”

“I’ll be all right for now,” Mahiro said. “It was just . . . a long day.”

“Mahiro, what’s bugging you, really?” Junji said. “You looked unhappy this morning, and after you snuck out during the photoshoot? You looked worse. What is it? Whatever it is, I’ll listen. I don’t judge, really.”

Mahiro looked down at his drink. Junji was persistent. He had to tell him at least something, or his friend wouldn’t let him be.

“I . . . I met a strange lady when I was out,” he said. “There’s this place I go when we’re in Kyoto, a park with a koi pond . . .”

He described the encounter. Junji frowned throughout. When Mahiro was done, Junji said, “Okay, I can see why you were freaked out about that. But she’s probably a harmless crackpot.”

“She didn’t sound like a crackpot,” Mahiro said. “She sounded like she knew what she was talking about.”

“How would she know why you’re drawn to a pond, anyway?” Junji said. “I mean, it’s a pond. Lots of people like them, Japan wouldn’t be covered with the things otherwise. This particular pond just happens to speak to you. No reason why, it just does. Look, put the creepy lady out of your mind and have another drink. We’re here to blow off steam for a few hours, right?”

He raised his glass toward Mahiro in a toast. Mahiro clinked his against it with a smile.

If only he could tell Junji the full reason that woman freaked him out . . .

* * *

He looked at the woman suspended from the ceiling in a white cloth, trapped like a spider in a web – like she deserved to be.

His brush moved across the paper, capturing the image of her suspended like that. Because the whole world needed to see this, to see her brought down and humbled. To see the state she was in right before her end.

And then he stood up and grabbed his sword, a broad smile on his face. He began to stab, and slice, and hack. The more her blood splattered on him, the faster he moved. He wasn’t going to stop until she was hacked to pieces.


Mahiro sat up, letting out a cry. Oh, fuck. Oh, fuck, the OTHER nightmare.

“Mahiro!” said a voice next to him. “What happened? Are you all right?”

And it just HAD to happen with Junji in the room. He couldn’t hide it anymore.

“A nightmare,” he gasped. “Just a nightmare, go back to sleep . . .”

“That’s not just a nightmare,” Junji said. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He went over to the other bed and sat next to Mahiro, putting an arm around him and pulling him close. “Maybe it would help to talk about it?”

Mahiro was going to tell him no, to tell him to just go back to his own bed, it was nothing . . . except Junji’s touch felt very good. Like it was spreading a warmth inside him . . .

“It’s a nightmare I’ve had a lot,” he said. “It . . . it’s about me killing someone. Or, rather, witnessing a murder through the killer’s eyes.”

“Holy fuck,” Junji said.

“And there’s another one I keep having, one where I’m being killed in a horrible way . . .”

It spilled out of him. He described both nightmares in detail, and Junji listened, cringing. “My God, Mahiro, to have that happen all the time . . .”

“I don’t know why,” Mahiro said. “There’s nothing in particular that seems to trigger it. It just . . . happens. And when it does, it won’t stop. I can’t make myself wake up until . . . until the dream wants me to.”

“They used to execute people like that in Kyoto a long time ago, you know,” Junji said, quietly. “It was called death by sawing. It was reserved for criminals who’d committed really heinous crimes. I wonder . . .”

“Wonder . . . what?”

“Just a hunch, but . . . what if we switched our train tickets to a later time tomorrow and went back to where you saw that lady? If she’s a psychic, then maybe she knows the secrets as to why you’re having the dreams.”

“Junji, you’re the one who called her a crackpot.”

“But that was before I knew about you and the dreams. I mean, what if you’re dreaming about a past life? Or about how people you knew in a past life died?”

Mahiro thought about what the woman said, about him being really ready to hear what she had to say, and he shuddered. What if she knew about his dreams, knew the truth behind them . . .

“How do we know we’re going to see her when we go back?” Mahiro said.

“If she’s truly psychic? She’ll know you're coming. She’ll be there.”

“You don’t have to go with me, Junji,” Mahiro said, softly.

“Yes, I do,” Junji said. “You don’t want to go through this alone, do you?”

Mahiro leaned his head on his friend’s shoulder. “Thank you,” he said.

And he drifted off to sleep with Junji holding him, feeling more warm, inside and out, than he ever had in his life.

His sleep was free of nightmares.

* * *

They headed into the park the next day, both in the visual kei civilian uniform – casual clothes, face masks, sunglasses, hats. Mahiro led the way to the koi pond.

“Right here,” he said. “This is where I was standing yesterday when . . .”

“So you do want to know,” said a voice above him.

Mahiro looked up, and bowed. “Good morning, Mari-san,” he said.

“You do know that what I am going to tell you is not going to be pleasant,” she said. “Not in the least. You should consider whether your friend should be hearing this – it might affect his image of you.”

“You couldn’t affect my image of him no matter what you told me,” Junji said.

“Very well, then,” Mari-san said. “Psychics have talked for generations about a restless spirit that might try incarnating again. He was said to have an aura of a unique shade of purple, one no other person had. I saw you, saw that aura, and instantly, I read it. I knew you were that incarnated spirit.”

“Who was he?” Mahiro said.

“Does the name Okuda Tatsuya mean anything to either of you?”

The two looked at each other. “No,” said Mahiro.

“He was one of the most notorious murderers of the Tokugawa era,” Mari-san said. “He started out as a respectable man, a samurai. He was to marry a noblewoman, a very beautiful young lady. But then, all of a sudden, he hacked her to bits days before the ceremony. They said he strung her up from . . .”

“. . . the ceiling with a white cloth,” said Mahiro, in a dull voice, as if he were in a trance. “And then he took his sword and cut her up.”

“You do know the story, then,” Mari-san said.

“I’ve . . . I’ve seen it.” Mahiro suddenly sank to his knees on the ground, feeling queasy. “In my nightmares.”

“Then the spirit is as restless as he seems,” Mari-san said, quietly.

“Why?” Junji said. “I mean, why did he do it?”

“Nobody knows,” Mari-san said. “If he ever gave an explanation, it was never recorded. He did not live long after the murder. He was sentenced to . . .”

Mahiro suddenly whimpered and curled into a fetal ball on the ground, his hand coming up to cover the right side of his neck. Junji quickly knelt next to him, pulling him into his arms. “It’s okay,” he said, soothingly. “It’s okay, you’re safe, it’s not happening now.”

“You’ve had nightmares about his execution, too,” Mari-san said.

“Can you exorcise this spirit?” Junji said. “Can you end this thing? This Okuda has put him through hell.”

“Unfortunately, I cannot exorcise an incarnate spirit,” Mari-san said. “if he were haunting a house, that would be one thing. The house where he lived no longer stands. This park was built on this spot. There were reports of his spirit being in other buildings in Kyoto, but he didn’t stay there long. The reason he is restless is not tied to a particular place. No, he has to incarnate in a person to achieve his purpose.”

“Isn’t there anything you can do?” Junji said, holding the still-trembling Mahiro tighter. “Anything at all?”

“He’s already luckier than the last person Okuda incarnated into,” Mari-san said. “It was in the early 20th century. When he found out Okuda’s story, who he’d been in his last life, the man immediately committed ritual seppuku. The locals ended up blaming it on possession by a fox demon.”

She walked off the footbridge, came over to Mahiro and Junji, and knelt next to them. “The fact that this man . . .”

“Mahiro,” Junji said. “His name is Kurosaki Mahiro.”

“The fact that Kurosaki-san had these nightmares means that Okuda is attempting to communicate with him. He can’t fully assimilate into Kurosaki-san’s soul until he’s at peace – but given that they’re on two levels of his consciousness, that makes it difficult.”

“So he’s just going to have these nightmares forever?” Junji said.

“Not necessarily,” Mari-san said. “There is one thing we can do.” She paused. “Kurosaki-san, I’m going to hypnotize you.”

Mahiro raised his head. “Why?” he said.

“Because then I can guide you to him. You will come face to face with him within your own consciousness, and you will let him tell his full story himself. And when he does, you will know what he came back for, and why you have these nightmares.”

“Mahiro . . .” Junji said.

“I’ll do it.” Mahiro raised his head. “I’m willing to do anything to stop the nightmares. And besides . . .” He looked over at Junji. “I need to know. I need to find out why he did it. . . why he killed that woman so horribly. Because I can tell from my nightmares that he hated her, intensely. Until I find out why, I don't think I can be at peace.”

“Very well, then,” Mari-san said. “Come with me.”

“Where are we going?” Mahiro said.

“My place. We need a quiet and undisturbed atmosphere for this. If one thing goes wrong . . . you could end up like Okuda’s last host.”

Mahiro shuddered. He was literally gambling with his life here. If he succeeded, he would be at peace and nightmare-free. If he failed? It could be the end of him.

But he knew he couldn’t live like this any longer. Trying to maintain the façade of the performer who was always in control, while his own mind was out of control at night, was too exhausting.

“Let’s do this,” he said.

* * *

Mari-san led them a few blocks away from the park, to an unremarkable side street, and from there to an unremarkable apartment building. The apartment she led them into, however, was not unremarkable. It was lined with bookshelves on three sides of the room, floor to ceiling – books on the occult and the spirit world to be sure, but also detailed histories of Japan (including some very regional histories).

“It must have taken you years to collect all these,” Junji said, walking around the room slowly.

“It did,” Mari-san said. “But it is necessary. The ultimate power is knowledge, and to effectively link with the next world, you have to have full understanding of this one.”

She rolled a futon out on the floor. “Kurosaki-san,” she said, “I’m going to ask you to lie here and make yourself comfortable.” She put a pillow out for his head.

Mahiro did as she asked, gingerly, lying with his hands on his stomach. “What happens now?” he said.

“The next thing that’s going to happen,” said Mari-san, “is your friend . . .”

“Tokai Junji,” Junji said.

“Tokai-san is going to go over there in the corner and be quiet, because we can’t have any distractions at all.” She reached for her desk, opened a drawer and pulled out several ofuda, which she placed across Mahiro’s forehead, heart and clasped hands. He didn’t know whether they were actually going to do anything or if they were there just for a placebo effect, but he wasn’t going to argue.

She next picked up what looked like a dowsing pendulum – a crystal point hanging from the edge of a chain. “Now,” she said. “I want you to keep your eyes on the crystal. Don’t take them off for anything.” She began to chant in an ancient language, probably Sanskrit, but Mahiro didn’t know or care. All he knew is he was feeling sleepy, more sleepy than he ever had in his life, and he seemed to be sinking, going somewhere in a deep, deep hole . . .

He found himself standing on the bank of a river. There was a bridge across it, the type seen in the older sectors of Kyoto.

“Where am I?” he said.

“You are inside,” said Mari-san’s voice, seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

“Inside . . . where? My mind?”

“In the place where you are going to meet him,” Mari-san said. “Go onto the bridge.”

“Is he on the other side?”

“Just go. You will see.”

Mahiro stepped onto the bridge and began to cross it, and soon, he could make out a figure in the mists ahead of him . . . yes, the bridge was shrouded in mist, why did he not see it until now? It was a man who was short in stature, like him, wearing what seemed to be traditional garb . . . yes, it was a white kimono with a black or dark blue pattern, with an orange drape over it.

As he got closer, he could see the face – and he almost fell off the bridge. The other man looked exactly like him.

Mahiro bowed. “Okuda Tatsuya?” he said.

“Who else would I be?” the other man replied – and Mahiro was shocked to hear his own voice. He was more familiar with how he “really” sounded than most people, having heard himself speaking in countless making-ofs, recordings of emcees during lives, video comments . . .

“I . . . I came here for . . .”

“I know why you came. Because of me. Because I’ve been trying to get to you. Because for once, I want someone to LISTEN, because nobody listened. Nobody. They were all blinded by wealth and power. They saw only one side of the story – and it wasn’t mine.”

“Then . . . what is your story?” Mahiro said.

There was a pause. Okuda was obviously trying to decide how to begin.

“I was a samurai in Kyoto,” he said. “I served a kind master, I was with a reliable unit. We lived in a small cluster of houses – the area you kept visiting when you came to the capital.”

“It isn’t the capital anymore,” Mahiro said, gently. “It moved to Tokyo – Edo – where I’m living now.”

“To me, it will always be the capital,” said Okuda. “But I digress. I lived a happy life – because I had someone in my life that was very dear to me. Someone I loved with all my heart.”

The woman he cut up? Mahiro thought, hoping to all that was holy that wasn’t what he was going to hear next.

“He was a member of my squadron,” Okuda said. “At first, we were friends, comrades. Later, we grew a bit closer. Eventually, I came to see that his heart and mine were cut of the same cloth. We spent more and more time alone together, talking, listening . . . just experiencing each other. And then, our relationship took a physical turn, and it surpassed anything I’d known with a woman. I knew he was my true soul mate.”

A man, Mahiro thought. Well, it should come as no surprise – Mahiro himself was bisexual, and he knew that male-male love was very common among the samurai.

“And then, a noblewoman named Fujiwara Takiko came along,” Okuda said. “She was a younger daughter of a very wealthy government official. I had been hired to be her bodyguard for some public functions. And it seemed that when I was working with her, she fell in love with me. I tried to dissuade her. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Eventually, she found out where I lived, and she’d show up at my doorstep with all kinds of love gifts for me.”

A stalker, Mahiro thought. By modern thought, that was definitely what this woman sounded like.

“She went to her father and proclaimed to him that she wanted to marry me,” Okuda continued. “I thought that would be the end of it – a nobleman would never approve of his daughter marrying into the warrior class. But he wanted to give his little girl whatever she wanted – and besides, he had two other daughters who’d already married wealthy and powerful men. So . . . I was just about forced into an engagement with her at swordpoint.”

Arranged marriage, Mahiro thought. Very common then, if not the norm. Only unlike traditional ones, it was the man who got the short end of the stick, not the woman.

“I was heartsick about it,” Okuda said. “All I wanted was to be with the one I loved, not her. I finally sat her down and told her about him. Told her that she could have me in marriage, but she could never have my heart, because it belonged to another. And I told her that it was best she break this relationship off and find someone who could love her in return. And she . . .”

He paused, putting his head in his hands, as if it were too painful to go on from here. Mahiro had a sick feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach.

“She said that she would have me. That I would come to love her, I just hadn’t realized it yet. That I should put him out of my mind. I told her I couldn’t, and she just ran away. And then, a few days later . . .”

He looked away from Mahiro, his hands gripping the rail of the bridge so hard his knuckles were white. “She contacted him. She sent one of her servants to him, telling him to come to her house that night, that she wanted to discuss me with him. And when he did, she and a group of her male relatives jumped him. They stabbed him over and over. He tried to fight back, but even with his skill, there were too many of them. And she delivered the death blow herself, screaming, ‘Tatsuya is mine!’”

He leaned over and began to sob. Mahiro walked over, slowly, and put his hands on the other man’s shoulders. Yes, he could touch him, he felt warm, and real. As he must have, Mahiro thought, to the man he loved.

“She told the authorities he’d come to kill her,” Okuda said between clenched teeth. “That they’d acted in her defense. And she threw enough money at them that they believed it. They were afraid of what her father would do if she was arrested, anyway. But I found out the truth. One of her younger cousins felt guilty about it, and he came to see me.”

The feeling in Mahiro’s stomach got queasier. He knew what was coming next.

“I flew into a rage. I sobbed, I tore the house apart . . . and then, I went to see her, to confront her. I wanted to hear her denial, because I didn’t want to believe such a thing. But . . . she laughed in my face. She bragged about it! She said I wouldn’t let go of that unnatural love, so she cleared it away for me, and now we could be together. And then . . . I snapped. I grabbed my sword, I hit her with the hilt of it, and I knocked her out.”

“And you carried her back to your place,” Mahiro said. “And hung her from the ceiling.”

“I wanted her to be trapped. I wanted her to be helpless. I wanted to deliver the death she so richly deserved. And before I killed her, I painted her picture. Because I wanted the whole world to see her in that state. I wanted everyone to see the fall of the high and mighty nobleman’s daughter. Then I took my sword, and . . .”

“I know,” Mahiro said. “I’ve seen.”

“I didn’t stop hacking and slashing. I wanted to make her disintegrate entirely, so there wouldn’t be a speck left of her in the world. And then, the authorities arrived.”

“And they sentenced you to death by sawing,” Mahiro said, quietly.

“Her father saw to it,” Okuda said. “He wanted me to have the most painful, agonizing death possible. It was. But I screamed at them the whole time. I screamed about her, and her father, and what was done to my love . . . I screamed until I couldn’t anymore.”

Mahiro’s hands tightened on Okuda’s shoulders again. No wonder he was a restless soul. No wonder he couldn’t find peace.

“Did you come back for revenge on her?” he said, quietly.

“No,” said Okuda. “I had my revenge already. I didn’t come back for her. I came back for him. I want to see him, hold him, one more time. He’s in your world, you know. I can see the color of his aura all the time. All my close associates are around you in this life. They all committed seppuku out of shame after what happened to me – I found that out later.”

“You can tell it’s them by the color of their auras?”

Okuda nodded. “Pink, and green, and red. I can feel the warmth coming from them.”

My bandmates, Mahiro thought. No wonder we were all drawn to each other, no wonder we formed the perfect group.

“And the one that you love? His color?”

Okuda turned away from the bridge, toward Mahiro. He had a smile on his face.

“Blue,” he said.

He should have known it. He knew it in the very bottom of his soul. In a way, he’d always known it, hadn’t he?

“Junji,” he said in a whisper.

“Yes. That is his name now. Go to him, Mahiro. Go to him, and let me see him, touch him, hold him one last time. That is all I want. All I need, now . . .”

Okuda threw his arms around Mahiro, suddenly. There was a feeling of intense warmth, a flash of bright light . . . and then, he was gone.

You don’t have to persuade me, Mahiro thought. I will. I should have, a long time ago.

And then, the bridge was falling away from him, and he was being pulled up, up, up through an endless tunnel . . .

He awoke, lying on the futon, tears streaming down his face.

“He is back,” Mari-san said to Junji. “It is safe to approach him.”

Junji got off the floor and scrambled over toward Mahiro. “How are you?” he said. “How do you feel?”

Mahiro blinked, slowly. “Junji . . .” He held his arms out toward him, tears still streaming.

“It's okay.” Junji leaned over and held him. “It's okay, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere.”

Mahiro leaned his face in Junji's shoulder and inhaled his scent, felt his warmth. It seemed to be sinking into his very bones. Oh, God, he thought, I feel like I've been waiting to do this for over a hundred years.

Of course . . . he had. When Okuda had vanished, Mahiro had assimilated him into his soul, hadn't he?

“Did you talk to him?” Junji said.

“Yes,” said Mahiro. “He . . . he came back to see his lover, he said. His lover had been murdered by the woman he killed – he did it as revenge. He . . . he . . .”

“Sssh, it's okay,” Junji said. “We'll talk about it later, all right?”

Mahiro nodded. He just clung to Junji. He needed him more than air right now.

Junji looked over at Mari-san. “What do we owe you for your services?” he said.

“Nothing,” she said.

“We have to give you something,” Junji said.

“I make my living off desperate young women who are looking for love advice from the spirit world,” the psychic said. “That is my career. That is what puts food on my table. Bringing peace to restless souls? That is my calling. That, sir, is its own reward.”

“How do you know he's truly at peace, though?” Junji said.

“His aura has changed,” Mari-san said. “The purple has shifted.”

“Oh?” said Junji.

“Yes. It now has more blue in it.”

* * *

Mahiro managed to pull himself together enough for them to ride the shinkansen back to Tokyo. Rather than going their separate ways at the station, they took a cab together to Junji's apartment.

“I got the old lady to at least give me a business card,” Junji said. “We'll send her a cake or something.” He went to the fridge, got a couple of beers, and gave one to Mahiro. “How are you feeling?”

“Drained, in a way, but in another? Better than I have in years. I feel like I'm, well, me. The me I was truly supposed to be.”

“So . . . what happened with him, anyway?” Junji sat on the couch. “Come on, sit here and tell me.”

Mahiro perched next to him, sipping the beer. “He said that he was a samurai during the days when Kyoto was still the capital, and . . .”

He relayed the whole story – minus the part that Junji was the reincarnation of Okaya's lover. He watched Junji's face during certain parts of the tale – particularly the ones about his own past murder. Junji flinched visibly then, and reached for Mahiro's hand – which Mahiro grabbed and squeezed, without another word.

When it was over, Junji said, “He told you he came back to find his lover again . . .”

Mahiro nodded. “He said he'd had his revenge on her already – it was finding him again that he was interested in.”

“Did he have any idea where the lover is now? Where he can find him?”

Well, no hiding it now – it was time to drop the bomb. Mahiro took both of Junji's hands in his. “Yes,” he said. “He's sitting right in front of me.”

Junji was silent at first, as if it took a moment to process. “Me?”

“You. Definitely you.”

“Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I . . . I . . .” Junji suddenly grabbed Mahiro in his arms. “Damn,” he said. “I should have known. I should have felt it. So that's why . . . never mind.”

“Why what?”

“I've been attracted to you for a long time, okay? I just didn't want to say anything.”

“Why not?”

“I didn't know how you'd react. If you didn't want me too, then, well . . . I didn't want to be known as the guy who blew up a perfectly good band because he hit on the wrong person.”

“You wouldn't have blown up the band,” Mahiro said, softly. “I've been attracted to you all along, too. And it's not just because of him. It's because of me. I've felt that you and I had, well, a bond. That . . .” He remembered Okuda's words. “That our hearts were cut from the same cloth.”

“I like the sound of that,” Junji said.

“I want . . . I want us to get closer,” Mahiro said. “Not just because of who we were – even though that's a part of both of us that will never go away. But because of who we are.”

“Damn.” Junji pulled Mahiro tight against his body. “I never thought I'd hear that.”

“You're hearing it,” Mahiro said. “And you're going to keep hearing it for a long, long time.”

The two men kissed, gently – which rapidly became a kiss that was fiery, passionate, full of need, their tongues brushing against each other . . .

Mahiro tipped his head back, eyes closed, and Junji moved his head to his neck, slowly kissing a line along the right side . . .

It was as if he were healing the wounds made by the weapon that ended Okuda's life.

“Junji,” Mahiro whispered, closing his eyes, surrendering entirely to the warmth that was stealing over his whole body. “I want . . .”

“What, baby?” Junji moved up and kissed Mahiro's lips. “Anything you want at all.”

“What I really want is . . . a shower.” He reached up and stroked Junji's face. “With both of us, of course.”

“I wouldn't think of letting you in there without me,” Junji said. “Come on.” He reached out his hand, and Mahiro took it, the two of them moving across the apartment.

They were about to make up for lost time. More than a century of it.

* * *

Once Mahiro was naked and standing under the water, the only way he could describe it was it was like being at a shrine and pouring water over your hands to cleanse yourself both physically and spiritually. Except it was his entire body and soul being washed.

He'd said he wanted a shower because, quite frankly, he needed one before being intimate with Junji. He just didn't realize HOW badly he needed it, and that it would feel like this. It felt like he was being washed clean of all the blood that had been shed – Okuda's, his lover's, Fujiwara Takiko's.

Junji's hands were on his body, covered with a musky-scented shower gel, starting to move slowly over his skin. Mahiro leaned into the touch, closing his eyes, thinking it was the first time Junji had caressed his body like this . . . in this life, at least.

It was deliciously intimate, the way Junji spread the soap over his chest and stomach in long strokes, moving up to his shoulders and down his arms, washing him thoroughly . . . removing all remaining traces of anguish and madness. Clearing away the pain and violence of Okuda's life, leaving only the love.

Junji paused to squeeze out more soap, then knelt on the floor, hands starting to move along Mahiro's leg, gently rubbing along the calf, Mahiro closing his eyes, breathing in the scent, feeling the caresses along his skin, feeling like he'd put himself entirely in Junji's hands, entrusting this act of cleansing on all levels to him.

The intimacy of it all was making Mahiro as aroused as the touches that were now moving up his inner thigh, stroking intimate flesh. He moved his legs further apart, moaning softly, the moans becoming louder as Junji slid higher, teasing the spaces where the sensitivity was highest.

Junji moved over to the other leg, caressing it as he washed up and down, and Mahiro was completely caught up in the motion of hands on flesh, of the way that Junji caressed faster, harder when he reached a sensitive spot. He could hear the other man's breathing change, becoming heavier . . . yes, Junji was getting turned on by this, too . . .

A pause, and then Mahiro felt those hands on his ass, rubbing the soap bottom to top, squeezing, fingers running in patterns over the skin. Now Mahiro let out a flat-out moan, his whole body feeling like it was burning up, that he was going to turn this water into steam.

“Junji,” he moaned, feeling the cheeks being spread apart, water pouring into the cleft, its caress as intimate as Junji's. And then, there was another pause . . . before a soap-covered hand began slipping along his cock.

“Oh, fuck, you're so hard,” Junji murmured, and the sound made another shudder of lust run through Mahiro's body. He thrust his hips forward into the touch as Junji stroked him up and down, hand moving bottom to top, thumb rubbing back and forth over the tip.

The hand slid downward again, and kept going, until the soap-covered fingers were running over Mahiro's balls, making him lean over, hands braced on the shower wall, ass thrust out, thinking he needed for this man to fuck him, fill him . . .

Junji rinsed the soap away, and then reached for the other tube he'd brought with him. Mahiro just stood under the spray, waiting, trembling in anticipation . . .

Then, the cleft of his ass was parted again, and a finger pushed inside, gently and slowly. Mahiro let out a loud moan. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, Junji . . .”

He braced his hands on the wall and moaned louder as the finger moved in and out of him, and then a second one pushed in, then a third. The water ran over him the whole time, the cleansing an intimate caress, just making him all the hotter, all the more ready for what was to come next.

The fingers slid away, and there was a pause as Junji got himself ready, then applied more lube to Mahiro. He leaned over, pressing against his lover's entrance.

“I love you,” Junji said. “I always have.”

“I love you, too,” Mahiro said. It took this incident, the nightmares and their resolution, for them to realize what they should have seen all along.

Junji pushed forward, and Mahiro felt the cock sliding into his body bit by bit. It was glorious. He didn't even mind the inevitable pain, because this was Junji filling him, Junji making Mahiro his on all levels. And when the pain faded, and was replaced by pleasure, it was sweet and hot and flooded his whole body.

There was a pause before Junji began to thrust, soft and gentle at first, and Mahiro closed his eyes tighter, focusing on the sensation of their joining, the intimacy, the sound of Junji's voice as he murmured, “You feel so good, so goddamn good . . .”

The motions became faster, harder, Junji letting his hands wander over Mahiro's body as they started to move together, Mahiro pushing back against his lover, murmuring his name. When Junji sped up, so did Mahiro, feeling the sensations spread through every part of his body, his very fingertips seeming to tremble with want and heat and desire.

One thrust hit a particularly hot spot inside him, and Mahiro let out a loud cry, which he repeated when Junji's fingers wrapped around his cock again, stroking in rhythm to their motions, moving here and there, exploring . . .

Junji's thumb swept over the tip just as he hit that sweet spot again, and suddenly, Mahiro was letting out an explosive cry, the orgasm rushing through him like a raging flood, the come pouring out of him over the other man's hand. He felt utterly and completely drained – and it was the best feeling of his life.

There were a few more hard thrusts into his body, and then Junji let out his own cry, pushing deep into Mahiro as he released himself with long, intense shudders, finally sagging over against Mahiro, panting.

He kissed Mahiro's neck, tenderly, and then Mahiro turned his head so they could kiss each other's lips. They disentangled just long enough for Mahiro to turn around so he was facing Junji, and they wrapped their arms around one another, leaning on the wall, neither wanting to be separated for long.

Mahiro leaned against Junji, still breathing heavily. He was never going to let him go this time. Nobody, nothing would come between them.

“That was worth the wait,” Junji said. “My God, Mahiro.”

“Mmm,” Mahiro said. “More than worth it.” He raised his head. “Why did we wait so long?”

“Does it matter?” Junji said. “We're together now, right?” He kissed Mahiro, gently. “We're going to have to tell the others that we're together now, you know. It's only fair.”

“What do we tell them?” Mahiro said.

“That something happened while we were in Kyoto. That we got together because of a friend of yours. Someone with whom you go way, way back.”

Mahiro laughed. “That's not entirely a fib,” he said.

“No,” Junji said, wrapping his arms tighter around Mahiro and holding him closer. “It's very, very true.”

Mahiro sighed, feeling his whole body relax. He could never, ever remember feeling more at peace.

Some of it was because Okuda was at peace at last, yes. But some of it was also because his own heart had found what it was looking for – which had been in front of him all along.

He felt Junji guiding him out of the shower, helping him towel off. They shut off the water, went into the bedroom and got under the covers, snuggling up.

Mahiro closed his eyes and fell into a sleep that was filled with nothing but pleasant dreams. He would never have another nightmare again.

* * *

On their first anniversary as a couple, Mahiro and Junji were back in Kyoto, this time for an in-store event and a live.

“We need to go to the park,” Mahiro said. “The one where his house was.”

Junji smiled. “A trip down memory lane, right? If it wasn't for that place, we wouldn't have gotten together.”

They walked down the path to the koi pond, hand in hand, Mahiro carrying a flower in his other hand. “Mahiro,” Junji said, “does it ever bother you that, well, you're the reincarnation of someone who . . .”

“You mean, what he did to Fujiwara Takiko?”

“Yeah,” Junji said.

“I've made my peace with it,” Mahiro said. “I mean, it was inexcusable, but at the same time? She murdered the one he loved, and she would never be brought to justice because of who she was. So, he took justice into his own hands. I don't approve – there's no way that I could. But at least I can understand why it happened.”

They paused in front of the koi pond. Mahiro leaned over and placed his flower at its edge, standing in a meditative pose for a long moment, hands pressed together in front of him.

Then, a voice above him said, “I haven't seen you in a long time.”

He looked, and there was Mari-san on the footbridge. “Mari-san!” Junji said. “Long time no see for us, too!”

“You are happy now,” she said. “I can tell. Your aura is fairly glowing.”

“It's due to you,” Mahiro said. “If you hadn't helped me, I would never have found peace at all.”

“I merely put you under the hypnosis,” she said. “You were the one who spoke to your past self. You were the one who brought peace to his spirit.”

“It's because I found out what he needed,” Mahiro said. “What he was looking for. And I was able to give it to him. Because . . . it was what I needed, too.”

“I'm glad,” the woman said. “On both fronts.” She turned to go back over the bridge. “Your aura looks a lot brighter, too,” she said to Junji. “There is a touch of purple to the blue.”

“That's because it was always meant to be there,” Junji said.

“I believe you. I would stay longer, but I must be off,” she said. “Be happy, both of you.”

“We will – and we are,” Mahiro said. He took Junji's hand once she was gone. “Come on – we have to get ready to go to the live house.”

“We'll have time for a little private fun first, right?” Junji said, nuzzling Mahiro's head.

“We'll make time,” Mahiro said.

As they walked away, a gust of wind picked up a single leaf, which danced gracefully on the breeze before gently settling to the ground, right on the spot where Okuda Tatsuya's house had stood.

It was like a sigh of relief from a soul in torment who'd found comfort at long last.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
hamhamheaven
Jul. 11th, 2016 03:57 am (UTC)
Really interesting premise: nightmares revealing bits of past lives. To lose someone you loved so much in such a horrific way would definitely send someone on a mad quest for revenge. I can't think of a better use for the gruesome imagery from Aien Kien! (Though, I must admit, I'm glad the images of Junji and Mahiro in the shower came afterward to block some of that nastiness out.)
puss_nd_boots
Jul. 11th, 2016 04:40 pm (UTC)
LOL, the shower scene had to be part of the happy ending! (Especially since it served a dual purpose - both a love scene and a sort of cleansing and healing from all the unpleasantness). Believe me, it was a challenge working with a PV like this (the only way I can even watch it is to watch the making-of immediately afterward, where you see Mahiro laughing about the fake wound on his neck and the guys goofing off before filming their suicides, which makes the whole thing easier to stomach). But it definitely lent itself to a story! And I just had to give it an upbeat ending despite everything that went before. (After everything poor Mahiro had gone through with the nightmares, he deserved it!)
write_my_dreams
Jul. 13th, 2016 01:51 am (UTC)
I was going to use Kyoka Suigetsu mixed with Dogma because someone is nagging for the challenge but it grew a lot longer than I'd planned so I went with Diaura's "Enigma" instead. Muses are all glaring at me because I'm 2/3 done with my draft. I think you're the first one to complete the challenge so congrats! Hoping I can get mine done by next weekend.

Sending this one straight to my Kindle so I can read again in the future :) I absolutely love fics like this. The use of dreams and nightmares to tell a story always lures me in, especially when the dreams contain past life memories/horrors. I like Aien Kien but oh it's hard to watch Mahiro die in that PV :( I liked how you included elements of Kyuubi too with another incarnation.

The past lives were so tragic. Forced into marriage with a woman he doesn't love, only to have the one person he does love with all his heart taken from him because he wanted to be honest with her. She definitely deserved punishment but not to such an extent.

I'm definitely not wishing nightmares on poor Mahiro, but it's good he had one when he was rooming with Junji. Otherwise none of this would've happened. I wonder how the rest of their bandmates react to the news that they're a couple now lol. Also liked how their colors represented their auras and how all of them came together.
puss_nd_boots
Jul. 13th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
Actually, one other person (cadkitten) completed the challenge before me! I ended up doing it early because the muses just weren't going to let me sit on the idea. (Especially since my Mahiro muse sat patiently on the sidelines during all the time I took to write the Beauty and the Beast fic!)

Tragedy is definitely the best word to describe the whole situation. Because Okuda decided to be honest with that woman, three people died. Of course, he had no idea when he decided to be that honest that she was as unbalanced as she was - they didn't know about such things back then, and besides, she was considered above the law because of who her father was. It was fortunate that reincarnation gave Okuda another shot at a happy ending - although the first try didn't go so well. (And, yes, what happened to his next incarnation was a reference to Kyuubi!)

I didn't put how the bandmates might have reacted in the fic - though I'm sure it would be along the lines of "We knew all along" and "What took you so long?" I think the attraction between them was apparent to everyone but the two guys involved!
kyoselflove
Aug. 1st, 2016 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for writing! ^^

I really enjoyed the aspects from the PV and the smut was also always a nice bonus xD I'm glad that Mahiro is no longer tormented by awful nightmares!

<3
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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