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31 July 2009 @ 01:22 am
Docked Mirth [Medicine Seller x Kayo]  
Title: Docked Mirth
Pairing: Medicine Seller x Kayo
Fandom: Mononoke
Genre: Supernatural, Romance
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,341

A/N: For tomoeish . Seriously, most awesome girl around for introducing me to this series.

 

Docked Mirth

In 1922, the railways came, hailed from distant lands, and ingrained their sickened roots into holy grounds.

The Medicine Seller strolled in even beats, clad in fine-spun kimono (ostentatious and intrepidly visible, much like a perpetually wrinkled air). Out of place and out of time (anachronism had come far in life) he stood arms folded. Sleeves fluttered against an invisible breeze—evil-warding spells strapped to his back—and a staid, stolid expression was set in place.

The lady waved him goodbye, presented his ticket, and clamped the booth shut immediately. In the post-industrial world of modern technology, he discovered: there was no need for maximum effort exchanged for minimum output.

He eyed the thin paper, so small to cost so much (he had learned the concept of “money” too) and returned it to another attendant. And this was the man who had a ghost for a lover. And that was the man who—

“Sir?” the conductor asked, “Would you please find a seat? The train is starting.”

He sat down and closed his eyes, hearing trap-spells whirring into action (and thought of ways to break their effect—if you don’t believe then they crumble away. Lesson learned, echoing back, from feudal scrolls and inked script.

The train rumbled and roared into life, sending its passengers grasping for the wall, calming their beating hearts with jocund oh-that-was-fun remarks.

The Medicine Seller sat straight through, perfectly immobile and tranquil, barely jostled, firmly planted in beaten, torn leathery covers.

“Hello, excuse me, is this seat taken?”

Glanced up: a young girl, no more than sixteen, dark skinned with a white, white smile reflecting the morning sun. He shook his head, indicated for her to sit. And she gladly took the spot, sighed in exhaustion, and propped open a book (cheap romance novel sold at every magazine stand).

He peered at her sideways, slit-eyed, and tactful (she never noticed). A bell, tucked into the obi, tinkled lightly—useful trinket he picked up around the 1800s, turn of the century and so on.

Silence.

(drip-drip, a leak in the ceiling)

Wait.

The mononoke will show itself; they always did.

-

He followed her off the train and onto a dusty wooden platform. She brushed some lint off her skirt and readjusted her no-nonsense shirt (had been fumbling with the fabric for the last half hour). Curiously, the girl turned back and saw him, but thought nothing of it.

And she continued walking—

…if lifetimes transcended, so did subconscious memories…

He picked up pace, always half a block behind her, watchful and equally curious.

-

By the afternoon, he learned quite a few surprising (and predicted) facts about her.

Name: Kayo (that much had not changed for centuries).

Occupation: Salesgirl at that new department store (now that was something startling).

And the spirit chuckled malevolently that she was marked for death. It had come to claim her, just like it did with her mother and grandmother and great-grandmother, etc., spanning generations back. It had a grudge to settle and would not rest until every last lovely-girl in the family was dead.

(She sang a tune under her breath and chose a small cake from the display window.)

-

Tonight was her father’s birthday, and the Medicine Seller decided it was time he gained employment.

And so, he inquired (falsified documentation—really, the modern world was such a hindrance, such a calamitous inconvenience) for work. The father agreed happily, offered him a job on the spot: ever been in the docking business, mister?

No.

Doesn’t matter, you’ll learn soon enough. Excellent credentials you have here.

(She observed him from beyond the door, hands shaking as she entered with the tea.)

“You’ll start in the morning. And uh…if you don’t mind, please come in more…suitable attire.”

Of course.

Kayo placed a cup in front of him, and he saw an interesting scar circling her wrist.

-

The work was tedious and simple: inspect the boxes as they unloaded, mark them off as “damaged” or “whole”. And this was what the mortals called management.

He smiled to himself and checked off another one.

-

Sometimes, Kayo visited in the evenings, brought him food (“Mom made too much again”) and blushed as he accepted her generosity.

And the blush would bloom and spread, from neck to hairline as he watched her with a dissociated, impersonal (fallaciously impassive) intrigue.

“Something the matter?”

“No.”

Except for the mononoke. It grew in power and madness by the hour. Now, it nearly reached her waist, slippery shadow-hands flickered like candles against the sun’s harsh dying light. And it would almost become real as she shuddered.

“Are you all right, Kayo-san?”

“Yeah. Just…felt my spine tingle for some reason. But I’m fine now.”

She beamed. He frowned.

Tangible was one step away from lethal.

-

Occasionally, they would pass each other on the train. She bowed her head each time, not daring to meet his eye. He greeted her pleasantly, sound rising an octave above the thundering, guttural roars of engines and whistles, nodded good morning or good evening. He strode past her without a second glance.

(Her heart clenched but mouth remained stern and voice mute.)

Even more infrequently, they would sit next to each other (just like the first time, she pictured it clearly) and hold a brief conversation. Her stop was always three before his.

The routine never faltered. (He became more resolute that the mononoke must have a death wish locked inside.)

-

She broke down with a fever in the winter (second month since they met).

Her body shook violently, could not eat, could not sleep, only thirsted an unquenchable—insatiable—thirst. Mouth cotton-dry, arms and legs twisted in agony, belly concave and corpse-gray. Misery followed with each breath.

“Help me.”

He watched her, remorse and taut (suffering was sadness but laments became lackluster after thousands of repeated episodes).

There was nothing he could do. (The mononoke refused to state its purpose and will.)

Gently, he brushed a damp, chilled cloth over her brow, thinking this might alleviate the ravages of heated vengeance. Knowing it was foolish and just wishful thinking.

-

Enough was enough. He was beginning to get annoyed.

So, while she writhed and wriggled in pain and lost sleep, he questioned the mononoke. Poured it sake, some oranges for good luck in the afterlife (an offering it could not reject), and asked it plain and simple:

“Why are you here?”

“What is your intent?”

And how can you be defeated.

All of a sudden, sullen, the sword ignited itself, burst into fire and wild, horrific burnished gold light. And in that split second, the Medicine Seller became two.

Applause from howling spirits.

The mononoke shrieked its final desire as it faded into oblivion.

-

Kayo awoke the next morning restless but healthy. Still slightly ill and bilious and too-too thin but she could stand alone and speak without incandescent mirages alternating in the corner of her eye.

Her father wept rivers of joy, suffocated her in love and doting, and warned her never to play in the rain again because it must have been pneumonia! Kayo promised to be good, filial, and charmed her way beyond his embraces and coddling.

And asked: “What happened to ----san” (some fake name the Medicine Seller gave).

“Ah, he left early, quit his job just like that! Where am I supposed to find someone on such short notice!”

“No word at all?” bewildered, bit down on her lower lip.

“He was suspicious from the start, if you ask me. But no, he didn’t even leave a forwarding address.”

“Oh.”

-

Years passed and before he could count the sorrows and afflictions of humans properly, it was already 1992.

In the year of the—

His mind clouded over, thinking it had to be a joke, a farce, a travesty, anything but reality. But there she stood: in a pink plaid skirt and billowing blouse, giggling and surrounded with friends. Happy and naïve.

He smiled slyly and walked quietly in her direction.

 

 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on July 31st, 2009 11:22 am (UTC)
Couldn't sleep so figured I might as well write fanfic! :D

Hee hee. Thank you, very glad you liked it. :) I wasn't sure if it would work at first but then thought: what the heck, he deserves an "omg, you srs???" moment too.