Author: Natsuya PM
YAOI/BOYS LOVE. Nevermind the adolescent karate black-belts, impossibly powerful student council, cross-dressing maids and warring ninja clans: this is really just another love story at the heart of it all.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 3 - Words: 4,291 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 12-26-10 - Published: 11-23-10 - id: 2867136
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Kaname Ōtomo & Tamaki Ōtomo
In the cool of the dojo, were heavily-armoured men fought with wooden swords as if for their lives, Kaname felt himself getting nostalgic. His mind wandered back to that snowy, desperate childhood day; a seven-year old him kneeling next to the futon-bound remnants of his dying grandfather. The doctor had said that Jii-san would not live to see the new year and somehow Kaname hadn't been too surprised by these news. He was a little too smart, too hardboiled for his age; born into a fatherless world that had disappointed him from the get go, Kaname had never really known the unblemished joy of being a child. His grandfather had had to initiate him into Way of the Sword at an impossibly tender age.
Quietly, as if afraid to break the silence, Kaname sat, listening to the flurrying snow. It made soft, wet noises against the screen doors; his Jii-san had once called them the gentle whispers of a house ghost, but Kaname had never believed in the superstitions of the Shinto occult. He was a bookish kind of creature, a rationalist in the making.
"Kaname", the old man began at last, in a voice that seemed to have coagulated, like syrup, with sheer disuse, "Please forgive us, but this is the only way we could protect you...."
Kaname peered down at his Jii-san. His eyes conveyed no warmth, no sympathy. He found it hard to believe that this coughing, writhing carcass of a man used to be the master of this facility. This was the person Kaname had looked up to all his life. Now, he was looking down at him.
"Kaname....please, say something...."
"I am sorry....but you are not the grandfather I know anymore. You are weak. You used to tell me that weak people were a disgrace."
His grandfather chuckled. It was an unpleasant sound, a rumbling in a chest lined thickly with blood and mucous. "I did, and I stand by that. I am a weak man, and I know I have disappointed you, but there comes a time when the greatest warrior of all will also fall from grace. That is the curse of being human. We all shall die and return to the earth we had risen from...."
"So, is that what you wanted to tell me. That everyone will die one day? I knew that already."
His Jii-san laughed again, and this time, Kaname could not bear it. He averted his eyes.
"You remind me of your father. Always so serious. I don't think I ever saw him smiling or laughing."
"My father was a strong man", retorted the little one defiantly. "He didn't have the time for laughter."
There was an immediate pause for silence, before his grandfather readdressed him in the harsh, assertive tone of a dojo master. "Look at me, Kaname."
Demurely, the little one turned to face his grandfather. No matter how much respect for him he might have lost, it was not within the boy's nature to disobey his elder. "Your father never laughed because he was troubled...he never saw the bright side of life...I don't want you to end up the same. I don't want you to live your life in unhappiness." A strange, watery glint appeared in Jii-san's eyes, and immediately, Kaname understood that this what an old man's tears looked like. Feeling terribly squeamish now, he tried to pretend that he was somewhere else, somewhere far away from this melancholy dojo and its vanquished master. "I regret the fact that I have to give away everything you had trained so hard for, but I believe that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps you are meant for other things, greater things, than inheriting this dojo ....the Way of the Sword is not the only way, Kaname. Never forget that."
These were the last words his grandfather had uttered to him. The Way of the Sword is not the only way. The snowfall had endured for the rest of that despondent week, as did the frostiness between Kaname and his grandfather. By the time the young boy had come around to some sort of reconciliatory effort, Grandfather Sōjiro had already passed away, dying a blissful kind of death in the solitude of his self-imposed exile.
Now, at the unforgiving age of seventeen, standing in the Hanagata Dojo just on the edge of Mahoroba's campus, Kaname remembered those dying words as if he had heard them just yesterday. He was in Kendo-gear, a heavy men* mask weighing down his shoulders, a dô making up for his scarce frame and a shinai clasped in those very, talented hands of his. He was not going to lose, he told himself. He would succeed and reclaim his family's dojo. He would, under no circumstances, let it all be taken away from him. Yes, for Kaname, right now, the Way of the Sword was the only way.
"You look like you really want to kill me", said the other, laughingly.
Kaname humphed and muttered, "Death would be too kind a fate for you..."
"What was that?"
"I said get ready to be defeated!"
Kaname leapt into action, choosing to ignore the conventional preamble that the kendo rulebooks insisted upon. He didn't have the time nor patience for all that stiff-arsed formality. Seconds later, the steady, repetitive thwack of wood meeting wood echoed throughout the room, cutting through the air in short gusts of momentum, then connecting again in a clash of bamboo blades. Kaname snarled, pushing his weight into his weapon. Nevertheless, with his sword simply held across his chest, his opponent thwarted every single attack.
Slowed by the friction of his bare feet, Kaname sidestepped and tried hit him from the side, but the other appeared to have seen this move coming. Kaname tried to spin away; he made a futile attempt at a forward thrust, then jumped and lifted his sword for a downward assault. Unwittingly, during that split-second, when he had raised his arms for what would have been a blow to the other's head, his abdomen presented a perfect opening. An amateur would have been knocked to the ground by Kaname' downward slash. His opponent was anything but an amateur, however. Within seconds, Kaname, a five-dan kendōka**, was subjected to the full brunt of his opponent's sideways hit. He lost his ground as if it had been pulled right from underneath him and toppled into a wall with a definitive, KO-ed thud. Once again, a decisive victory.
"Sheesh, and we were just getting started", Tamaki groaned, removing his men mask to unveil a broad, lackadaisical smile. His white hair, a stark silvery froth, glistened in the afternoon sunlight — the hair of an oni, as many a defeated challenger had spitefully designated him. "Are you ok?"
Kaname would not let himself be helped upright. With one shoulder braced against the wall, he managed to come to a shaky stand. His vision swam, his head locked in quick, short circles of vertigo. Another hit like that might actually have knocked him unconscious."How did you do that?", he protested. "How can you....how can you be so quick? I had you! I had you right there!"
Tamaki shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry, brother, but you needed be a little bit more careful next time."
Brother. This elicited the most corrosive of scowls from Kaname. "Don't you dare call me that. I am not your brother!"
Just because we had take your family name.
Shortly before his grandfather had died, Kaname's mother had decided to marry into the Ōtomo clan. It was a marriage of convenience, a business transaction of sorts. By selling herself to the Ōtomos, a rival clan of kendōka, Yukimi Tōdō had saved her family from bankruptcy. Grandfather Sōjiro had incurred an insurmountable mass of debts during his management of the dojo and as they common saying went, the sins of the forefathers were being visited upon the children. Kaname had looked upon his Jii-san's bedridden death as a cowardly act, an escape from the troubles he had caused. It sickened him to think that the kendo school his ancestors had built and for centuries guarded as fiercely as a family heirloom now belonged to them.
A piece of paper might have bound them like the judicial shackles of the law, but to Kaname, these people were anything but family. Least of all that unsophisticated ogre, Tamaki Ōtomo.
Kaname was a few months older than his step-brother and that alone seemed to have put him way ahead in terms of intellect. It came as no surprise when almost unanimously, the student body of Mahoroba chose to elect him as Student Council Treasurer. The real shocker was the fact that meat-headed, good-for-nothing Tamaki was made the Student Council Secretary by almost as high a percentage of voters.
"Don't take it to heart, Kaname. Maybe next time", Tamaki said, as if to add insult to injury.
Kaname pretended not to have heard him. After all, Tamaki was never one to engage in cerebral action before opening that large, apish mouth of his. Kaname knew better than to waste his energy getting all worked up over another one of his step-brother's throwaway remarks.
"And you are getting taller", Tamaki went on happily. "Maybe, if you start drinking some more milk, you might actually get taller than me."
The trigger word was "taller". The Ōtomo step-brothers weren't only separated by their IQs. Whenever they stood next to each other, rarely as that might happen, witnesses could not help but marvel at the difference in height between these two. Tamaki, taller even than the Student Council Vice President, reached a mammoth 6 foot 2; Kaname was about three heads shorter, lingering underneath him like a garden gnome.
Kaname pounced."What did you say?!" Fists were flung, but barely made an impact against the other's firm, rippled stomach. "You take that back! Take that back you stupid, oversized moron!"
Tamaki put a hand on the shorter one's disgruntled, brunet head and watched him wrestle with the air. "Hahahaha, I was just being nice, lil' bro! Look how tall you've gotten!"
"Firstly, I am not your brother! Secondly, I am older than you, you birdbrain!"
"Calm down, nii-san! I was just kidding!"
"Shut, shut, shut up! Take back what you said, NOW! —"
*A men is a protective helmet worn during kendo; dô is the chest armour and a shinai is the wooden blade.
**Kendōka is the japanese word for a person who practices kendo; dan is a form of grading akin to the belt system. A five-dan is a very high grade, especially for Kaname's age.
Author's Note: Wow, a review! Thank you very much, TheKatsPajamas! You literally made my day! And you are right. This story should not be taken too seriously. It's mostly just a creative exercise, which I hope I won't get bored of! I am writing more complex things on the side, but I am not certain Fictionpress would be the ideal place for me to submit them...Thank you very much for anyone who has been reading this and please tell me what you think. I would love to hear (or read, whatever) your honest opinion!