All That You Can't Leave Behind, part 6
Part 6 - The interlude part
Ayuru fell onto the bed. He hadn't bothered turning on any of the lights as he came into his apartment. Dawn would be coming soon, and so it was too late to get any sleep, and too soon to get anything done.
There was a lot to do today.
He let his thoughts linger on Ryuen's professor, and Saihitei. His rage, his focus, his cunning, this night, he had abandoned himself to these key strengths to defend his best friend; his only friend, sometimes. Turning, he flicked on the light and opened the drawer next to his bed, pulling out from the bottom his three photographs. Being a friend of Ryuen meant that he had lots of photos all over the house, but these were his three, the three that actually meant something to him, the three that he would never display.
The first was a picture of him and Ryuen, taken when they were graduating from high school. He smiled, looking at the moment trapped on the paper between his fingers. His arms had been around Ryuen's waist, and he had his eyes closed. Ryuen was looking straight at the camera, his beautiful brown-rose eyes sparkling and dancing, his smile bright and free.
Smiling, Ayuru traced the slim lines of Ryuen's body slowly, letting his mind play over the memory of that skin and flesh and hair. He wasn't afraid to admit it to himself; he was seriously in lust with Ryuen.
Always had been, since the first moment he had met him.
He pulled the second photo out, setting it next to the first. It was a picture of Ryuen between the twins, their arms linked behind each other's backs. Ayuru loved this photo for the look on Ryuen's face. A little drunk, a lot horny, he had that heat in his cheeks that spoke of despoiled innocence.
As if every time was his first time, as if he recovered his innocence when he recovered his breath.
Ayuru knew that wasn't true. It didn't even seem true when Ryuen was laughing and happy. But it was true when excitement first colored his pale, fine-boned cheeks, and touched his eyes.
It made the lust nearly unbearable sometimes.
Sighing, Ayuru forced his mind away from the image of that slimy professor begging for mercy as he coughed up blood. That bastard had tried to put his hands on Ryuen against his will.
Instead, Ayuru thought of the first time that he met Ryuen.
Of course, he didn't remember the first time he met Ryuen in this life, since he was an infant when it happened. But he could remember with blinding clarity the first time he met him in the last life.
He had been 18, and given command of men for the first time. His mission had been one of simple reconnaissance. Konan and Kotou had not had any open aggression between each other for a few years, but the potential was always there beneath the surface. So, he had been ordered to take 15 men out to review the Konan empire.
Konan was ridiculously open, so even though the foreign soldiers wore their colors and seals, and marched through the countryside, they met with almost no resistance, and when they were questioned, they were given leave with little difficulty. It was a boring mission.
But it did get him away from the emperor of Kotou.
He hated the emperor with more passion than he could stomach. He had sworn that he would one day depose the dirty freak, and pay him back for all the pain he and his army had caused him and his tribe.
As a seishi of Seiyruu, he had the power to do so, but only if he honed his talents and practiced his intrigues. When the priestess came, he would have to make sure that she depended on only him, relied on only him, and if possible, loved only him.
Then, she would give him all that he desired.
*He* would become the emperor, and he would bring peace to his lands, and restore his tribe.
And make that perverse cretin of an emperor suffer as no man had suffered in all of time.
It was while contemplating the many joyous forms of torture that he would inflict upon the emperor that he first caught sight of Ryuen.
He saw a girl, young and exotically beautiful, running from a group of slavers. They were dirty and despicable men, and the girl was resilient and resourceful. But their numbers were too great and the outcome was little in question. They pinned her into a dead end cavern, which he could still see well from his vantage point on the hill. She had her back against the wall and the men were advancing upon her.
He had resigned himself to chasing to her defense, knowing that he would be too late, when he saw something amazing.
She picked up the man closest to her and flung him, as if he was nothing, into the three men behind him. Then, she picked up a boulder and flung it at the rest of the men.
Her strength was truly inspiring.
But their numbers were still too great, and she was too enticing and desirable. They cornered her and trapped her arms, holding her against the rock with three men on each arm. Then, the leader, who had stayed far to the back, came to examine her and run a finger down the line of her dress to her waist. She screamed, a feral sound, and Nakago kicked his horse and sent it flying into the slavers.
When faced with a warrior brandishing a broadsword, they scattered like mice, thinking that he was part of a larger contingent. It took almost no effort to scare off all of them, leaving him alone in the canyon with the girl.
The beautiful, young, enticing girl with waves of silky purple hair, fine, lovely skin, and an endearing beauty mark coyly placed beneath one eye.
Nakago grinned to himself.
Dismounting, he walked carefully closer to the trembling beauty, making himself appear as non-threatening as possible.
"Are you all right, miss?"
She looked up at him, still terrified, and he fell madly into lust. Her eyes were brown-rose, and vibrant, sparkling with emotion and passion.
She would be sweet to taste.
"Don't worry, they are all gone. You have nothing to fear from me, I am not an enemy. My name is Nakago, and I am a true soldier. Can I escort you home?"
"Home?" Even in fear, her voice was sparkling and light. "I have no home. Please..."
Did she even know what she was asking for? She clutched at her dress, holding it closed and keeping her arms tight around her body. Nakago reminded himself that he still had to learn to conceal his smile. "It isn't safe for you to be out here alone. You are far too pretty to walk safely through this terrain. Please, allow me to escort you someplace safer. I promise you, you have nothing to fear from me. If I wished you ill, I would not be talking to you now."
His soft voice and gentle smile calmed her quivering, as she mentally weighed the possibilities. Faltering, she leaned closer to him, lowering her head in acceptance.
He swept her up and carried her to his horse. As he did so, her hands loosened, and he got a quick glance at her smooth, pale chest.
And the bright red glowing symbol of the willow over her heart.
Her panicked eyes met his, and he smiled, willing his cold blue eyes to soften and warm. "You are quite gifted with strength, are you not? Even still, alone, you would face much danger. I am honored with your trust."
She sighed, and leaned ever so lightly into him.
He was careful in his seduction. It would be perfect practice for when the priestess came. He could not be so daring in his hopes as to think that he could met the priestess by sparing her from some danger, but he could pretend that this girl was the priestess, and he would make her trust him, and love him.
He would make it so that she would give him anything he asked.
Leaning his face into her soft purple tresses, he smiled.
He brought her back to the camp, and led her to his tent. He carefully suggested to her that she not fraternize too closely with his men, because even though they were soldiers, they were also men who had been away from home for a long time. She shyly leaned closer to him, blushing.
He anticipated the time when her cheeks would flush with passion.
He couldn't take the priestess, since she had to be a virgin sacrifice for the beast god, but he could take this gentle girl.
He suggested that she might like to clean up, keeping his eyes cast down and his voice light, as if he were embarrassed to suggest such a thing. He brought her a pitcher of water and a bowl, along with some soft towels. He ignored the catcalls of the men, not quieting them so as to reinforce her impression that she wasn't safe with anyone but him.
He left her alone in his tent, so that she could wash up, surreptitiously heading to the back of his tent, where he knew he could watch her from the gap in the fabric. He smiled gently as he watched her carefully let down her hair and brush it out with her fingers, the silky mass glinting in the light. She slowly and carefully separated the masses of fabric of her dress, washing the dust of traveling off herself quickly and shyly.
He frowned slightly at her shyness, as if she were afraid to see her own body.
He understood much better a moment later when she opened her dress more and let it slip further down, keeping her eyes down and her face covered in the veil of her hair.
No breasts. She had no breasts. Not even the small breasts of a girl just entered puberty.
She was totally flat.
She... was a boy.
He almost laughed out loud. Those slavers would have killed him. They would have fucked him raw until he bled, and then killed him and left his naked, used body for scavengers.
It didn't really alter his plans, though. It only made the prospect all the more appealing. To get someone so deeply entrenched in secrecy and self-delusion to open themselves up, emotionally and physically, would be a true test of his skills.
An appropriate lesson for his future.
He was not unfamiliar with the pleasures one man could offer another. The emperor had never given him pleasure, that was for sure, but there were other boys, from time to time, that caught the emperor's eye. He was forced to have sex with those soulless whores, for the emperor's and his concubines' mirth.
And the girl/boy was still lovely. In truth, he would have an easier time passing himself off as a girl than as boy. His body still inspired lust.
This would still be a delight as well as a challenge.
And there was the matter of the mark on his chest, and his remarkable strength. Clearly, this boy was a seishi of Suzaku. It was something to ponder. There was no reason, really, for them to be enemies. The summoning of one beast god did not interfere with the summoning of another. But, the emperor would want to use the priestess against his rival. And, if they were both seishi, it made sense that both priestesses would come at about the same time. It made sense that the priestess would come when the seishi were at their peak. So, if both their priestesses arrived at almost the same time, they might be at odds with one another.
Having an ally in the other camp wouldn't hurt.
When he had waited an appropriate amount of time, he re-entered his tent, carrying a tray of food and a pitcher of wine. Smiling with what he surmised would be perceived as shyness, he offered her dinner and poured her a glass of wine.
She barely spoke her thanks, keeping her eyes down, her blush as enticing now as it was before. She would make an excellent lady, if she were a girl.
"You may stay with us until we reach a safe town, or for as long as you wish. My tent will be yours, as well, for your safety. May I ask your name?"
She blushed a deep red, her cheeks seeming to bloom with embarrassment. With her head down, she spoke softly and musically. "You are so brave and kind, to save me and to assist me without even knowing my name. I am shamed to not have trusted you more fully. My name is Kourin."
He smiled, reaching out gently to raise her chin so that she could see his smile. Her skin was soft and smooth. "Kourin. What a lovely name. And how old are you?"
"I'm... I'm 15." She blushed again. Despite her hesitation, he could feel the truth of it. She had considered lying to him, but decided against it. Perhaps she realized that she could barely pass for 15.
"Are you tired?" He spoke gently and quietly, to match her tone and demeanor. "It must have been a very stressful day for you."
She blushed again, but whether she was embarrassed by how stressful the day had been or because the day had not taxed her as he thought it had, there was no way to know. "I... thank you, Nakago-sama. Please, do not burden yourself on my account. A soldier's needs must outweigh my own."
He tilted his head to the side, trying to understand. "You do realize that we are from a foreign army?"
She turned her head away. "I know. But you are kind and chivalrous. And... I have no home, here. I may as well be a foreigner myself." She actually sounded bitter there.
Of course, it wasn't difficult to sense the source of her bitterness. Her parents can't have felt happy to find out that their son had decided to become their daughter one day. But, since he shouldn't know that, he just smiled with incomplete understanding and quiet acceptance. "I didn't mean to pry, or remind you of painful things. I'm simply confused by this country. People seem to take little notice of a potentially dangerous army wandering through their backyards."
Kourin laughed, a delightful noise that brightened the space she filled. "It's the heat, Nakago-sama! We can't work up the energy to be too concerned about anything in this humidity."
He chuckled at her whimsical view of politics. Her animated brown-rose eyes charmed him. He had to restrain himself from acting on his lust. It wouldn't do to scare the poor creature too soon.
She watched him from underneath her eyelashes, carefully viewing him. "Tell me of your home, Nakago-sama."
It was such an innocent question. But there was no innocent answer. So, he passed the evening by spinning tales for her of life in the capital of Kotou, and with the army. She would tell him stories of her land, though he noticed that she carefully avoided any details of location or position.
He imagined her to be a princess. She would be a lovely princess.
They finally fell asleep late into the night, after he had insisted upon taking the ground, which he justified since there were enough skins and bedding to supply for both of them.
It had been an auspicious beginning.
Over the next three weeks, Nakago subtly seduced Kourin, bringing her fine silk dresses and combs for her hair, preparing meals for her and hunting fresh meat that he shared only with her. He pretended to share his secrets with her, and pretended to wonder about her interests and hobbies.
One the third day that she was with him, he brought her fresh flowers from the valley, and declared that her beauty shamed these flowers into becoming weeds. She pinked appropriately, and he dubbed her his little flower.
She spent most of her time hovering in the vicinity of his tent, never straying far from where she knew he would be, or, if he was to be far from camp, she would stay in the tent, repairing his clothes, shining his armor, and doing other small errands for him.
When they had to travel, moving camp, she rode with him. When his captain of arms approached her to offer her wine, his boisterous, booming voice sent her scuttling back to him, fear shaking her limbs as she clung to him.
He didn't disabuse her of the notion that she had been threatened. It pleased him that she trusted no one in the whole of the universe but him.
It made everything so easy. He had decided that she was a great enough treasure to keep. Like Soi, Nuriko (her seishi name, he determined) would be loyal to him, so that even when he was romancing the priestess, they would be at his beck and call. And the added bonus was, if the priestess of Suzaku did arrive, one of her seishi would be with him, the last place that she would ever look, effectively defusing the threat she posed.
But forefront in his mind was the lust. He was getting tired of waiting for her to overcome her shyness. He wanted her.
So, he 'accidentally' came upon her as she bathed by the shores of the river, very early one morning. She had been nearly hysterical with terror, but he had used his seishi power to calm her, taking her into his arms and quietly soothing her fear. He told her that she was just as lovely as she had always been, and that he didn't care about the unusual attributes she had.
He had already determined that she definitively thought of herself as a girl, and that she was somewhat ashamed of, and sometimes surprised by, her body. Kissing her gently on the forehead, he called her his little flower, and brushed the damp hair out of her eyes.
He nearly laughed at the pure love that shone from those brown-rose orbs.
It was four nights later, after subtly telling her the significance of a soldier removing his armor before her, that she succumbed.
He sat next to her on the bed, feeling very desirable in a loose shirt and tight pants. She was trembling with anticipation in her short robe. He could feel it in her, the determination she had made earlier in the day. She was going to offer herself to him tonight.
He gave her every opportunity. He made her feel like she had initiated.
He pulled open her robe as he laid her down flat on the bed. As the slim body below him was revealed, he had to repress his desire to chuckle. The boy beneath him was quivering and ready to be taken.
"You are so beautiful, my little flower." That was all he needed to say to calm the boy. All he needed to do to bring excitement and energy to him was kiss his pale, perfect skin.
Their first night together, and Nakago gently held back, not wanting to overload the sweet boy who would share his bed now.
He would take his little flower two more times before he let loose. During the day, it seemed that nothing had changed. But at night, Kourin became his wife, tending to him as a woman tends to her husband. Nakago even flirted with the idea of marrying her when he returned to Kotou. It would certainly get the emperor off his back for good if he did.
On their fourth night together, Nakago let his seishi power work, opening the chi of the boy to him, using magic and power from the god to touch Kourin in the last place left to be touched. He had done this before, a simple spell that made it possible for him to 'feed' off the energy of his lover and sustain and heal himself with their life energy. It was always a more intimate association, and more powerful.
But it had never been like this.
When he tapped into Kourin's chi, the boy's seishi symbol began to glow, and when he began to tap into the energy, he found that there was an inexhaustible well in that slim body. Suzaku's strength became his strength as he plundered the body and soul of the boy who loved him so selflessly that he gave him everything.
And it *was* a giving. Kourin could feel Nakago inside him, in his body and his soul, and he opened himself to his lover fully. No matter how much Nakago took, there was always more the next night. In the morning, he would jump out of bed, feeling stronger and stronger each day; and each day, Kourin would sleep longer and longer, until she was only getting up to prepare dinner.
And each night, she opened herself to him again and again, never holding anything back and offering him everything she had, no matter how much he had taken the night before.
It was heady. It was exciting. It was exhilarating, like fucking Suzaku himself. Like tasting the power of a god. And each taste left him hungering for more.
It was addictive. Which was why he had to stop.
He couldn't become dependent on anyone, no matter how sweet, or giving, or trusting.
Feelings could change. He could not let himself be tied down.
And so, he made arrangements.
It was a pity, though. Fucking his little flower made him feel like he was a god. He liked that feeling.
It made him rethink a few things about the future.
They were near the capital of Konan, which seemed to make Kourin nervous, but they were planning on returning to Kotou soon. Nakago spent the day making plans, setting up the future for his little flower, and preparing himself for the evening.
When he got back to his tent, he found Kourin tidying up and preparing for the journey by packing his things. Her hair was in a loose tail that trailed over her back like a paint spill. Her dress was loosely tied and inelegantly arranged, speaking to her exhaustion. She beamed when he came into the tent.
"Nakago-sama... you've been gone for so long!"
"I'm sorry, my little flower, but I had some arrangements to make. You know that our coffers have been somewhat bare of late?" He paused to drink in her sudden shame. He had let her believe that it was because she had been added to their camp that they were short on funds. "I had to make some deals to assure that we would be returning to my emperor with sufficient resources."
"What did you have to do?" Her eyes were guileless and still a little ashamed.
"I sold one of our members." He smiled, slightly. He really needed to work on hiding his smile... "Oh, don't be concerned, my little flower. I made sure that the buyer was trustworthy. I've engaged a few spies so that I will be able to keep tabs here, after I am home. It really is the only way."
Kourin shuddered, not really understanding. Nakago had saved her from slavers not too long ago, and now he was dealing with them? And saying he was a trustworthy man? She didn't want to dwell on it. "Well... if it was for the best... How long will it take us to reach the capital of Kotou? Do you think that I will have a hard time adapting to life there?"
Nakago sat down next to her, not bothering to hide his smile anymore. It just hurt trying to suppress it. "Oh, my adorable little flower... I'm afraid that you don't understand. You see, *you* are the member that I sold."
Horrified, she stiffened, her eyes nearly bursting out of their sockets and her face suddenly washing clear of color. But she didn't recoil. Nakago felt that he had completely succeeded with her. Although he longed to keep her by him at all times and drink from her well nightly, it wasn't wise. "But... but... me?!? I thought..."
He ran his hand through her hair, loving the feel of it. "Who else could I have sold? I have to return with all my men. Please don't worry. This is a much better fate than that which was slated for you had we not met. I have sold you to, well, a brothel. But don't tremble. It is more than a simple brothel. The proprietor has signed an agreement that you are not to be touched until you are 18. In the next three years, you will be taught all the skills that a proper lady should know. And then, your marriage will be arranged. By that time, I'm sure you will be able to work out a solution for your... unusual circumstances. And your strength will always be there for you to rely on. Trust me, my sweet little flower, I would not leave you in a dangerous situation."
Her eyes filled with tears that he gently shooed away. She leaned on him, her chest trembling. "I thought... I thought... you loved me..."
"And I do." Nakago was pleased that she believed him entirely. "But what can I do? I can't, realistically, take you home. Certain things are expected of a soldier's wife. Things you aren't equipped for. And I can't keep you with me forever. A soldier's life is not a safe one. This is the best that I can do for you. Forgive me, my little flower. I tried my best."
And that was how Nakago had tricked Nuriko into forgiving him for selling her as a prostitute. That night was the last time he got to taste her sweet flesh and drink from the well of her strength. He made sure that he didn't tax her overmuch, as he had to take her to the brothel first thing in the morning. He left her there with tears in her eyes, as the delighted proprietor eyed his latest acquisition with glee.
Ayuru smiled to himself as he fingered the photograph in his hand. Poor Ryuen, always so giving and trusting, and so abused in his love and trust.
And so sweet, and sexy.
Gods, he couldn't drink from the boy's soul anymore, and he was *still* addicted to the lust he inspired.
Saihitei could ruin everything for him, the spoiled aristocrat finally opening his eyes and seeing what Ryuen was offering him, but Ayuru put it out of his mind.
He had been best friends with Ryuen since they were infants. He had been there for Ryuen when his grief and shame left him mute for four months. He had helped Ryuen heal by being the first to make love to him with his consent.
Some bonds were unbreakable. When Saihitei fucked up, and it was impossible to think that the immature brat wouldn't, he would be there for Ryuen to put the pieces back together again.
He finally looked at the last picture. It was of Kaen and him, just as they had turned to look at each other. Of course, Ryuen had captured the moment perfectly.
Looking here, it was hard to deny to himself that he did love her.
Naturally, he had made Ryuen destroy the negative, but he kept the print.
It was easier with Ryuen, he could handle lust.
When he watched Soi die...
Lust was much easier.
He glanced at the clock.
Things to do.
end part 6
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