Through the Fire and the Flames

BY : Gyaku_no_Sekai
Category: Rurouni Kenshin > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 2195
Disclaimer: I, in NO way, shape, or form, own Rurouni Kenshin, the song Through the Fire and the Flames, or anything contained therein or make any money from it / this fanfiction. I have the utmost respect for Nobuhiro Watsuki.


Title: Through the Fire and the Flames

Author: Gyaku no Sekai

Rating: T – M

Warnings: human sacrifice, yaoi / slash

Pairing: Hiko x Kenshin, background Saitou x Sano, Aoshi x Misao, Megumi x Kaoru, Yahiko x Tsubame

Summary: We carry on. Fantasy AU, Hiko x Kenshin.



A/N: Because I woke up on day and realized the universe needs more Hiko/Kenshin. Got this idea from watching a History Channel documentary about the Yellowstone hotspot, based on the “procession” scene with the vampire bats where Shiori was taken by her grandfather in Inuyasha. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



 



No one was quite sure how the village at the foot of the Haunted Mountain came into being, or why they kept coming back after every subsequent eruption, but they did. Perhaps it was the fact that the lava flows made the land more fertile than seemed possible, making people believe that the eruptions were the gods blessing the land. Perhaps it was the fact that there were always numerous earthquakes of increasing frequency and intensity before the eruptions, enabling the villagers to get out of the way and prevent casualties. Whatever the reason, people would not stay away from the area – or stop trying to quiet the spirit of the volcano with sacrifices.



Legends of the area say that many millennia ago, a girl cast herself into the volcano to save her family from the impending eruption, and her flesh and blood mixing with the magma stopped the escape of the viscous liquid rock, although gases continued to vent from the volcano for many months afterward. After that day, a villager would be sacrificed to the spirit of the mountain to halt the eruption, though it would not stop all of them; the village shaman explained to them that the spirit had said if the pressure was continuously held in, the mountain would eventually explode and kill every living thing within a certain radius of itself – which would, obviously, put a teeny bit of a damper on their lives and livelihood. Through the spirit-walker, the villagers negotiated with the spirit of the mountain for specific times when the volcano would erupt so they could get out of the way.



However, the spirit of the mountain is not what gave the Haunted Mountain its name, no; the source is rumors, whispers of the ghosts of the sacrifices wandering the slopes bemoaning their fate and dragging others down into the caldera, into the crater where lava bubbled and glowed. People went missing if they ventured up onto the mountain at night or on certain holy days, old or young, male or female, local or foreign; some said that they fell into concealed vents that the spirit used to claim more victims than the village offered, dissatisfied by the small number. As a result, if the volcano showed even the slightest activity, a villager was chosen by the headman…



 



Kenshin gulped softly and tugged at the white shift wrapped around his slight figure, resettling the cloth around his waist to fit better, his hands shaking in sadness and fear. The Haunted Mountain had begun showing signs of waking through recent earth-shakings and a handful of flows of liquid earth – the strange, red-hot earth that froze again over time. Out of all the people in the village living in the shadow of the mountain, he had been chosen to be the sacrifice to placate the spirit of the volcano.



That made no sense to him; why a male? Wouldn’t a female be more suited to the task? It had always been women in the past, but apparently his appearance was unique enough with his red hair and violet eyes to make up for the fact that he was not a woman. He worried his lower lip with his teeth, fists curling in the cloth of his attire, form automatically flinching away when his mother knocked on the shouji to alert him to her presence. “Kenshin?” she asked gently, “Are you ready?”



“Yes.” No.



She slid the rice-paper door back and beheld her only son as he hesitantly pulled on the thin slippers that would do absolutely nothing to protect him from the extreme heat of the volcano he was going to be cast into. His sisters stood behind her, watching him with the same sad eyes; no one in their family wanted this to happen, but the headman had spoken, and none dared to oppose him. Even the shaman, who spoke to the spirit of the mountain, had said nothing in disapproval, only sighed sadly and walked away.



Kenshin’s mother, sisters, and father escorted him to the open-topped litter that would convey him to the summit of the mountain, where he would throw himself into the lava pit (or be pushed if he had a change of heart). He hesitantly sank down onto the white cloth draping the litter and stabilized himself as four of the strongest villagers picked up the platform. The shaman stood at the head of the procession holding several burning sticks of incense, some of which he passed to the redheaded sacrifice. Kenshin held them as a bride would a bouquet of flowers, letting the faint scent of burning herbs fill his lungs as the procession began.



His mind raced, watching as the trees leading to the summit of the mountain slowly fell away to either side of the path on which he was carried; as many humans did, he contemplated his impending demise. He was only seventeen, still a virgin, and hadn’t done anything significant in his life at all, but now there was no time for him to change that. He inhaled deeply, heartbeat and breathing rate slowing; there was clearly some kind of mind-altering drug in the incense, because his body relaxed and pacified bit by bit as the procession slowly made its way up the mountain. He was only semi-aware as the shaman and his father helped him down from the litter at the lip of the crater, but only the shaman let him to the edge.



“Kenshin,” he said gently, voice sounding distorted and slurred to the drugged teen’s ears, “Listen to me. The Spirit of the Mountain has been watching the village for a long time; he knows you and will take care of you. You’ll be alright, understand? He won’t let you get hurt.”



The redhead sluggishly realized that a response was expected and nodded drunkenly, wobbling slightly as his balance changed with the action.



“Be well,” the shaman said, and pushed him off the edge into the volcano.



 



For what felt like years, Kenshin floated in a haze of warmth and light, feeling the magma curling around his form but not burning him as he sank below the red-hot “skin” on the surface. His eyes drooped closed automatically against the increasingly bright glow of the magma around him as he sank down, down, down into the core of the volcano, the heat feeling nothing like the massive burning sensation he expected. Instead, he felt as if he had just woken up on a cold winter morning, wrapped in blankets warmed by his body heat overnight, and he sighed and relaxed, slipping into a kind of drowsy half-sleep.



Finally, the motion changed from downward to forward in a slow curve, the magma seeming to cool around him and take on a gentle rocking motion. He felt air on his face; ‘a bubble of gas,’ his mind thought sluggishly, and to him, it felt akin to the times the sea carried him to shore when he had swum out to escape the stares of the foreign visitors to his village. He breathed. His heart beat. He slept. He dreamed.



The redhead dreamed that he washed up on a shore made of diamond-like sand – “quartz,” the shaman had called it – but it seemed to glow faintly as if lit from within. He dreamed that he could hear the crashing of the surf, feel the water swirling around his lower body even as his upper half rested on damp sand. He dreamed that he could see a magnificent forest and a distant curve in the beach through blurry vision, and he dreamed that even though the sky was a calm ultramarine speckled with fluffy, pure white clouds, there was no increase in heat from the sun. He could not feel it beating down on his back, but the air was pleasantly warm despite that. Even after the sky slowly went dark and the moon rose and the stars appeared, the air remained warm, as did the water, preventing him from feeling cold with his wet skin and soaked clothes.



He dreamed that when the light from the star returned, a small group of people came into view in the distance, walking along the beach and talking amongst themselves. As they got closer, they became clearer; there was one old man, three tall adult men, two adult men of average height, three adult women, one teenaged man, two teenaged women, and a young boy who was walking ahead of the rest. All of them appeared to be wearing armor of some kind or kimonos made of fine silk, and all carried a weapon, though one of the women held a medicine cabinet instead.



He dreamed that it was the boy who reached him first and stopped about two feet from him, kneeling and checking his pulse before turning to the others and calling, “Hey, Seijuurou-san! Looks like that village sent another one! She’s pretty cute, too!”



“You dumbass,” the tall, dark-haired swordsman named “Seijuurou” said bluntly, “He’s a guy.”



“AAAHH!” The boy leapt away from him, drawing his shinai and pointing it at the near-comatose human, trying to simultaneously wash out his eyes and mutter, “I did not just think a guy was cute, I did not just think a guy was cute…”



“Don’t be so melodramatic,” another tall swordsman said, taking a drag from the cigarette in his hand, “He can’t hurt a fly right now, and just because you like Tsubame-chan doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t swing the other way.” As if to prove his point, the tall brunette male with a zanbatou chuckled as the swordsman turned his head to accept the offered kiss from the bird-headed fighter.



He dreamed that Seijuurou dropped to one knee next to him and gently pressed his fingers along the length of his limbs. He recognized the action as one the shaman did regularly to check for small breaks in the bone or bruises that had not yet formed, and when the swordsman ascertained that he was unharmed, he found himself picked up by the bear-like male. “We should probably turn back now,” Seijuurou said, the vibrations from his deep baritone traveling through Kenshin’s frame, “He could use to get out of these wet clothes and be looked over by Megumi-san.”



“I agree,” the medicine cabinet-carrier said, no doubt the “Megumi” of whom the swordsman spoke, “He’s still human; he might catch a cold or get a fever.”



“Aw, man,” the boy whined, “But this is the first time we’ve all been able to get together in weeks!”



“It’s okay, Yahiko,” said a bokken-wielding girl in a sky blue kimono that brought out her eyes, “There’s always another chance.”



“But who knows how long that’s going to be!”



“It looks like its going to rain, anyway,” one of the women in the onmitsu uniforms said, peering skyward and nudging the other shinobi woman. As if her words were prophetic, there was a boom of thunder in the distance, clouds forming too swiftly to be natural on the slope of a mountain on the horizon.



“I hate you, Okon,” the boy called Yahiko growled at the woman who had been nudged, “You too, Omasu,” who was the woman who had done the nudging.



He dreamed that Seijuurou turned and began walking back in the direction the group had come from, carrying the redhead who slowly curled his fingers into the soft yet strong cloth of the swordsman’s gi. He felt the muscles shift beneath his hand, indicating that the taller male’s gaze was now on him. “Hmm… Not so out of it as you seem, huh? Sleep… Kenshin. You are safe now.”



 



It was so comfortable, so peaceful.



Kenshin stretched and sighed, relaxing once again. The sheets he lay between were silk-soft and comfortably cool, just the right temperature to drift back to sleep in, but his body informed him (in a rather snide tone) that he had slept enough and he needed to get up to use the facilities, you idiot. He slipped out of the western style bed and staggered over to the in-house bathroom, relieving himself before slipping back out into the room at large and looking around. Aside from the bed, most of the room’s furniture and knick-knacks were typical of what one would expect from Japanese royalty: gilded furniture, intricate carving and detailwork, stunning wall hangings and ink paintings, rich fabrics and bright colors. Even the yukata he now wore was of quality beyond anything he had ever seen. The redhead felt so tiny, so inadequate in the face of so much extravagant splendor after living with so little for so long that he was unable to do anything but cower in a corner and stare at the magnificence that surrounded him.



It was so overpowering that for a long moment he failed to realize that he was no longer alone. The boy, Yahiko, had come in and appeared to be searching for him, but his flame-colored hair, violet eyes, and the brilliant yukata he wore blended in with the extravagant colors of the room. “Ano…” Kenshin said quietly, catching the younger male’s attention.



“Ah, there you are! I know; it’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?” The other male meandered over and sat down next to him, looking around at the room. “It was the same for me, when I first came here.” He pulled his legs up to his chest and squeezed them slightly as if it was still overwhelming.



“You weren’t…?”



“Born here? No. My village drowned me in the ocean after a tsunami swept through, destroyed everything, and took half the people with it.” He frowned at the memory. “They said that I had to avert further disaster by surrendering myself to the kami.”



“Some things are universal, it seems,” Kenshin whispered.



“Yeah. But, both of us are really lucky. Kaoru doesn’t let anyone just pass into nonexistence when they drown in her current, and Seijuurou-san may act like an asshole, but he cares, too. Both of them are kind at heart, unlike some of the other kami.”



Sou ka…” Kenshin took in that information, then blinked. “‘Her current…?’”



“Mmhmm. She’s a Lady of Water, one of the most powerful kami of water in the world. She’s the embodiment of the Kuroshio Current, just off the coast of Japan. Seijuurou’s a Lord of Fire – there are only seven of them in the world.” Yahiko picked at an imaginary loose thread in his yukata. “There are thousands of different types of kami – general spirits that roam the earth, the ancestors, sprites, fairies, etcetera… but it’s the elementals and anima that are the important ones; they keep the world in balance. Lightning, which electrifies the water; Water, which cools the fire; Fire, which heats the air; Air, which wears down the earth; and Earth, which blocks the lightning. There are also hybrid elemental kami: earth and water to make wood or plant or forest, earth and fire for lava or magma, air and water for storm, water and fire for steam and onsen… they fall under the element which makes them work. Forest kami go under the water which makes them grow, lava/magma and steam under the fire which keeps it in motion, and so on.



“The anima are the animal kami, and they usually group themselves by whatever family they’re closest to: horses, cats, dogs, birds, rodents, monkeys, bears, fish, whales, insects, and ‘other,’ which is pretty much everything else.



“Each kami is the embodiment of a particular place or entity, the way Kaoru is the Kuroshio Current and Seijuurou is the volcanic Haunted Mountain. Saitou-teme – er, Saitou is the okami kami, Sanosuke is the tori, and Megumi is the kitsune, but she also is one of the medicine kami.” Kenshin listened silently as Yahiko explained that even individual forests, onsen, and waterfalls had their own representative with power proportional to the size of the thing they represented. The most powerful of the kami were called “Lords” or “Ladies” to signal that they had higher status than the other, ordinary deities; they were the megacaldera, the “supervolcanoes,” for fire; the major oceanic currents for water; the tectonic plates and largest of mountains and mountain ranges for earth; and the major atmospheric currents for air. The hurricane elementals, who were of both air and water, were permitted to choose which of the two elements they wanted to be part of for their short tenure as Lords or Ladies; as the hurricane on Earth broke up, so did they.



“That’s… a lot to take in.”



“Yeah, well… the others have been beating it into me for the past half-century or so.”



“Well, in that case – wait, what? ‘Half-century?’



“Yep. Everyone here is older than they look. We stop aging pretty much the moment we arrive.”



“Even the others? The ones who were cast into the Haunted Mountain before me?”



“Yeah. Most of them have kind of become assistants to some of the more powerful kami. I think they’re pretty happy here.”



“I thought that the whole point of the sacrifices was to keep the mountain from erupting, but it still does anyway. Why?” Kenshin looked over at Yahiko, who opened his mouth to answer before he was interrupted by a familiar baritone.



“The energy of the sacrifices helps the volcano erupt sooner. If I left it alone, it would erupt every half a million years – and devastate the whole planet.” Seijuurou stepped into the room, his powerful ki repressed so as not to frighten the newcomer. “The village – no, the whole island on which you and yours lived would sink into the sea, and a lot of the world would go dark. In addition, it would get very cold for at least a century if not longer, making the world suffer. The sacrifices release the pressure of the magma before it gets even remotely close to critical.”



The swordsman cut a striking figure in his red-edged white cloak, the armor underneath it hybridization between samurai and European armor, colored the numerous hues of an active volcano: yellow, orange, red, black, and all the shades in between. His long hair was the smooth, glossy black of obsidian glass left behind after an eruption spun into thin strands, and his skin was bronzed as if by the heat of the volcano he represented, though not unattractively so. The only thing that broke from the volcanic trend was his exotic blue eyes, all the colors of the sky during the day. Kenshin found himself blushing profusely under the intense gaze, unable to meet the eyes of the other.



“Your name is Kenshin?”



The redhead kept his head down. “Yes, Himura Kenshin, kami-sama.”



The volcanic spirit snorted. “The name’s Seijuurou, Kenshin, Hiko Seijuurou, not ‘kami-sama.’ You’re a guest here, not a servant.” He poked the human’s forehead gently, making the redhead blink in shock, then smile.



 



“He’s cute.”



Hiko glanced down at the Lady of Water next to him, raising an eyebrow at her as they both watched the tiny human slowly practice the swings Hiko had him doing; he had noticed how… uncomfortable… the flame-haired male seemed when there was nothing for him to do and so set him to work learning how to wield a sword. There was nothing to help him gain some confidence like knowing exactly what he was capable of, and with the evil spirits lurking in the shadows, he could use to be able to protect himself.



“I thought you and Megumi were together,” he grunted at Kaoru, who smirked.



“I didn’t say that for me.”



Kamiya…



“You were thinking it,” she said firmly, crossing her arms and scowling up at him, “I could tell. I’ve known you since we were children, Hiko; you can’t hide anything from me.” Her stance was unyielding, her stubbornness apparent.



“And it’s times like this that I wish you didn’t know me so well,” he rumbled, frowning.



“Don’t change the subject, aniki; are you going to do something, or do the rest of us have to force you to act?”



Hiko growled at her; it sounded like his volcano ready to erupt. She hissed right back; that sounded like a flashing sea, and the siblings sized one another up as if preparing for a fight. The swordsman would win, no doubt about that, but Kaoru refused to give up without determining her brother’s intent. She must have found what she was looking for because she relaxed her stance and turned away. “You asked for him.”



It wasn’t a question.



“So what if I did?”



“We aren’t supposed to show favoritism.”



“And how is asking that he become dead to his village and family favoritism?”



“Mmm…”



“HEY!”



Both of the elementals glanced out of the open shouji just in time to see Yahiko leap at Sanosuke, much to Kenshin’s amusement as he continued to practice the swings. The tori kami easily caught the kick directed at him and tossed the smaller male away, saying something that provoked an even more indignant reaction and quickly degenerated into a scuffle that forced Kenshin to leave the training yard or be dragged into the fight. He headed in Seijuurou’s direction, as Kaoru had taken the distraction as an opportunity to slip away, and came to a stop in front of him, raising an eyebrow at his expression. “It’s nothing,” Hiko grunted in response to the human’s unspoken question, “The tori-atama and gaki interrupting you?”



Kenshin huffed quietly. “Not really. I was almost done.” He was indeed vastly amused at their antics and chuckled as Yahiko was tossed about by the bird spirit. “Is this normal?”



“Very. I’d be worried if they weren’t jerking around like this.” He rolled his eyes and waved for the human to follow him, leading him to the kitchen for their lunch. The vast majority of the kami in the castle ate on their own times; the spirits of cooking always had something ready, although one never really knew what it was. Today it was relatively tame: honey-glazed grilled squid, rice, and something called a “fried Oreo,” which Kenshin declared to be “damn delicious.”



The group of spirits gradually accepted the human into their society, and as he mastered the style the volcanic spirit was teaching him, he took to sparring with the wolf Saitou to test his skills and improvement. Megumi taught him how to tend to any injuries he received, Sano give him hand-to-hand combat skills, Kaoru showed him better methods of reading the sea and sailing, and Omasu and Okon gave him experience with flying and storms. Misao, Aoshi, Shiro, and Kuro helped him interact with animals, as did Megumi and Sano, while Hiko watched him grow in leaps and bounds. The redhead still was not strong enough to wander the spirit world on his own; there still were plenty of nasty things out there that were bigger and stronger than he was – and there were rodents larger than the human, he swore. It always amused him to see Kenshin lose a match only because of his inferior weight, and though the kitchen staff was trying to “put some meat on dem bones” as Head Cook Mitsushi stated, he was still under five and a half feet in height and weighed about one hundred and twenty pounds.



What Kaoru had never realized was that there was a reason behind Hiko’s picking Kenshin as the sacrifice; the boy was touched by Fire. His hair color alone was indicative of that. When he was a child, Kenshin had accidentally fallen into one of the vents of the Haunted Mountain and breathed in gases that would have been poisonous to any other human without any sign of trouble. If anything, the toxic clouds made him healthier but changed his hair color.



‘Touched by Fire…’



“Hiko-san?”



“Just Seijuurou, Kenshin,” the spirit said, turning to look at the human, “There’s no need t – what are you wearing?”



Kenshin turned the same color as his hair and tugged at the juunihitoe that Kaoru and the other girls had forced on him in hopes of roping him into visiting the onsen with them. “Yeah… can you help me? I’m worried that they might try again, and they know all my usual hiding places…”



Hiko blinked and raised an eyebrow before leading Kenshin into his wing of the castle, sliding open the shouji to the section and entering, the redhead following close behind and cursing under his breath as he wrestled with the ornate kimono. It was near impossible for him to walk without tripping on the hem, thoroughly amusing the swordsman before he picked the other up bridal-style and carried him down the hall to his room. Kenshin squeaked at the sudden change and threw his arms around the taller male’s neck, clinging tightly to him. The swordsman set the tiny male down on his bed, chuckling as the smaller male began wrestling with his clothes, growling. “I take it,” he rumbled, swatting Kenshin’s hands away and beginning to properly remove the robe, “that you’ve never had a bunch of crazy women stick you into their clothes before.”



“No. Have you?”



“A few times,” he replied, laying each of the layers on the bed next to the redhead, “Beating them black and blue the next day in the name of sparring put them off it pretty quickly.”



Kenshin lifted a hand to cover his giggle, making Seijuurou’s lips quirk up in reply as he helped Kenshin out of the last layer. The women had clearly simply forced it on overtop of his training clothes, as his dark blue gi and off-white hakama were rumpled and creased in ways they were not supposed to be, and their intent seemed to have been to make him sweat in the thick clothes to force him to take a bath. Hiko was about to offer Kenshin the use of his furo



- when a simply massive “crack – KOOM!”  split the silence, making Kenshin jump and squeak, flinging himself at Seijuurou and cowering against him. Both men moved over to open the shouji leading to the outside, only to see a storm looming in the distance, seeming to stretch from horizon to horizon. “Ah,” Seijuurou said, sliding the shouji shut to block the steadily increasing wind, “Hurricane Tsuzuki. I was wondering when he would make his way here.”



“Will we be alright?”



“Yes. This may look like an ordinary castle, but it’s made of sterner stuff; hurricanes aren’t a problem, though this explains why the ladies were so eager to leave. They wanted to get out of the way.”



“That makes certain sense,” Kenshin said around a yawn as he stretched; he had been training hard all day, and it was now approaching nightfall, meaning that the hurricane would likely rage through the night and into the morning. He was a light sleeper as a result of Misao giving him a bit of onmitsu training in the form of attacking him in the middle of the night; no doubt the storm would keep him up despite his exhaustion.



Hiko raised an eyebrow, then sighed. He picked Kenshin up again (he would fervently deny that he liked carrying the little shrimp to any who asked), who squeaked and clung to him, and carried the teen into the connected bathhouse, telling him to bathe. “It’s too late for you to head back to your wing of the complex; you look like one good gust of wind could carry you away.” As if to put a period to his statement, there was another “crack – KOOM!” overhead as the storm bore down on them, the wind beginning to tear through the complex with a loud whistling noise, though the walls stood firm in the face of it.



Kenshin flinched at the boom of the thunder but turned away and began to strip out of the remainder of his clothes, the elder swordsman leaving him to it to find some of the outfits he used to wear when he was younger. Even they would be huge on the other, but it was better than nothing. He left the bundle of cloth outside the door to the bath and headed back down the short hall to his room to fold the juunihitoe for when it was given back to whomever it belonged to; most of the female kami had one.



As the volcanic deity suspected, his clothes were overly large on the other male; he had been forced to wrap the yukata once completely around himself before he could tie it off without there being too much excess fabric, and the obi had also been wrapped around his waist a few extra times. He looked… comfortable, and in fact Kenshin was; though it had faded a little through the years it had not been worn, the yukata still faintly smelled of flames and ash, the scent of the spirit of the mountain and the mountain itself. He inhaled briefly, smoke-and-fire-and-warmth filling his lungs, before he stepped fully into the room, eyes locked on the elder swordsman. He had taken off his mantle and loosened the armor under it to enable better air circulation over his skin; the plates may have been light and strong, but they were hot.



In more than one way.



Kenshin padded across the lacquered wooden floor to touch the large back plate. Hiko paused in his actions, and the smaller male lightly ran a hand over the armor; it was warm, not hot, to the touch, emanating a heat of its own. Though he expected it to be smooth like the metal armor of Europe, it was rough, covered in microscopic pits like pumice, which would create friction to stop slashes or catch faint chips on blades to give openings for the kami to attack. Said kami did not stop the human from removing the plate, examining the thin mail underneath, lying between the armor and the hunter green gi used to shield his skin from pinching by the mail. Trace metals found in the magma in the chamber at the core of the Haunted Mountain made up the steel that protected him from attacks by evil spirits; Kenshin could see the gleam of the new metals where one had gotten a lucky shot in and cut him down to the bone, though its dagger had gotten caught on the armor and enabled Seijuurou to kill it.



Hiko silently watched as the redhead removed one plate after another, finally convincing him to sit so he could slide off the chain mail. It was not much thicker than the yukata he wore, but an experimental tug proved that it was by no means as weak as it looked. He draped the metal tunic over a nearby chair – and flinched and shrank closer to Seijuurou’s side when there was another massive roll of thunder overhead. Other sounds of the world returned; the rain was now pounding down on the roof, along with the faint popping noise of hail, and the wind was even louder. Hiko wrapped his arms around Kenshin, who turned his head into the swordsman’s chest, fingers curling in the fabric of his gi.



“When I was four,” the redhead muffled into his broad pectorals, “my uncle took me out fishing for the first time. It was the middle of hurricane season, but the skies had been clear for days, the seas calm, the winds slow but steady. It was deemed safe enough, I old enough, so out we went with a handful of other men, hoping to catch something before that changed.” He shivered slightly. “The storm came out of nowhere. It seemed far worse than this-” He made a vague gesture toward the outdoors, where Tsuzuki raged. “-and it sank the boat, killing everyone except me. I spent four days on the open sea, the storm dragging me along, before it pulled me to shore.” He bit his lip, body visibly quaking. “I got over my fear enough to go back out into the ocean on clear days, but I hate hurricanes. I can barely stand thunderstorms.”



“I remember that one. Hurricane Enishi.” Hiko paused, then embraced the redhead, soothingly stroking the flame-colored locks. “He was a nasty one, almost turned into an evil spirit.” Kenshin relaxed in his arms, sighing faintly and seemingly nuzzling the kami, who shifted them both further onto the bed. The human drowsed lightly, listening to the strong heart beat under his head, and though he flinched back to full awareness at every rumble of thunder, he remained lax against the spirit.



Finally, he spoke again. “Hiko-sa – er, Seijuurou?”



“Hm?”



“May... may I ask you something?”



“You just did.” But the faint curl of the swordsman’s lips told him to continue.



“May I kiss you?”



Hiko glanced down at the human; even though his face was hidden, he could see that he had turned pink. “I see no reason why not.”



Kenshin’s head jerked up, and he blinked in surprise.



“What? You thought I’d say no to someone as attractive as you?”



His gaze dropped, face turning the same color as his hair. Hiko smirked and cupped the other’s cheek, touching their lips together in a chaste kiss. It was his turn to be surprised when Kenshin moaned in relief and pushed himself closer, the chaste kiss quickly becoming anything but, tongues dueling, the smaller male’s fingers tightening in his gi as he nearly crushed him against his upper body. Tiny hands released their grip to snake down between their bodies, fumbling with the knots in their obis, and Hiko pulled back to let them both pant for air, going straight for Kenshin’s neck and kissing his way down one side, sliding the yukata off his shoulder as he did so. The smaller tilted his head to give more access as he successfully undid the knots and let Seijuurou’s gi gape open; his hands seemed even smaller than usual against the firm muscle of Hiko’s chest, slender fingers tracing scar tissue as he helped the elder shrug off the garment.



The black-haired male pulled him in for another fierce kiss, Kenshin whimpering in simultaneous pleasure and dissatisfaction as their bodies rubbed together, still separated by their remaining clothes. He struggled to unwrap the obi around his waist, panting heavily, but Hiko rolled them over so that he was kneeling above the redhead and easily slipped it off, sliding a finger into the V at the neck of the yukata and running it down Kenshin’s body to part the fabric. The moment Kenshin was mostly bare, he lifted his legs, used his feet to push Seijuurou’s hakama off his hips and down to his knees, whole body arching when the action unintentionally rubbed their erections together. It took every ounce of self-control Hiko had to prevent himself from slamming home into Kenshin, but he managed it, though he would probably have a sore jaw for the next several days; instead, he pushed his hakama the rest of the way off, two sets of tabi joining them on the floor, closely followed by the overlarge yukata when he lifted the smaller male to slide it off.



Kenshin’s skin was smooth and pale, only marred in a handful of places by thin, white scars, and Hiko dropped his head to trace his way down the other’s body with a wet tongue and hot breath, strong hands holding the smaller male still no matter how he writhed and tossed beneath him. Nipples were licked, breathed on; Kenshin moaned and bucked up against him, fighting to free himself so he could reciprocate, but Hiko still held him tight. As he moved further down, the swordsman’s long black hair brushed over the human’s skin, making him shiver at the slight chill; it really was like spun obsidian.



A teasing lick to a leaking tip; the redhead bucked up, but the elder moved to the side and exhaled to make him whimper and bite his lip. “Onegai, shishou…”



Hiko raised an eyebrow. “Master?” he purred, purposely speaking right over Kenshin’s length, “Hm. While interesting, I’d much rather hear you screaming my name.” And then he obliged the other, licking him from base to tip before sliding Kenshin’s erection into his mouth and giving a teasing suck.



He got his scream, and several more. Seijuurou transferred both of Kenshin’s wrists to one hand and used the freed limb to pin down his hips and stroke his thigh, watching as the teen beneath him tossed his head, body convulsing in pleasure. “Seijuurou,” he panted, “Seijuurou, please…” An amused smirk around a mouthful of hardened flesh; Hiko slid his tongue along the vein running up the underside, ever-so-lightly scraping his teeth against the sensitive skin, and Kenshin arched with a scream before he slackened into the sheets, breath coming hard and fast as the last vestiges of his orgasm swept through his nervous system.



The volcanic spirit groped for the small bottle of oil he used to polish WinterMoon and quickly slicked up a few fingers, murmuring, “Breathe in.” When Kenshin exhaled, he slipped the first in, easing it further with every breath the uke took. Even so, the younger winced in pain at the unfamiliar stretch but kept his body still, relaxing slowly; it helped that Hiko was stroking his reawakening erection with every advance. He barely noticed the faint burn of a second finger sliding into him – although he could hardly miss the moment the elder found his prostate.



His whole body seized, then arched into the touch. His mouth dropped open, sharp gasps escaping his throat. The gasps turned to screams when the elder prodded the bundle of nerves.



Short nails scrabbled across his back, fighting for purchase to pull him closer. Hiko hummed and shifted up between the redhead’s legs, scissoring his fingers and adding a third. Kenshin growled at him when he slowed his pace, eyes sparking with golden fire, and Hiko hissed back, finally removing his fingers and sliding home. A shaking sigh of relief escaped the smaller male before he hissed, “Move!” at the spirit looming over him.



A grunted “Make me,” and a sharp thrust was his reply, making him wrap his legs around the spirit’s waist.  He exhaled every time Hiko thrust into him, setting a languid pace that made the redhead’s teeth grind. He snaked his arms under Hiko’s and up his back to dig his nails into the elder swordsman’s broad shoulders. Kenshin sank his teeth into the volcano god’s collar bone – he was too short to reach the trapezius muscle he had been going for.



Hiko hissed and unwrapped Kenshin’s legs, pressing the human’s thighs to the mattress. He pulled back, then let gravity drop his full length back inside the human; Kenshin screamed and arched, almost crying at the pleasure. Subsequent thrusts provoked similar reactions, including near-incoherent cries of the spirit’s name. Said spirit fisted the bedding, then lifted a shaking hand to cup Kenshin’s cheek.



Hazy violet eyes focused on him. “Come for me,” he breathed, and Kenshin did just that, yelling Hiko’s name and arching so violently that it seemed he’d break his spine. His walls convulsed around the swordsman’s length, and the spirit gritted his teeth, giving several sharp thrusts before he, too, came with a sigh of his lover’s name. He managed to lower himself down on top of the younger male without hurting him, and dropped his head into the hollow of his shoulder, panting.



“Stay with me,” Hiko murmured into Kenshin’s silk soft skin, planting kisses along his collarbone. The tiny male seemed not to mind his weight.



“You need to ask?” the redhead replied, wrapping himself around his partner.



 



Glossary

aniki: elder brother, in this case

ano: an expression, roughly the equivalent of “um” or “er”

bokken: a wooden sword used for training

furo: a Japanese bathhouse

gaki: brat

gi: shortened form of dougi, a traditional Japanese training uniform

hakama: a form of pants worn with kimono

juunihitoe: a twelve-layer kimono, usually seen on princesses and other female royalty

kami: gods, powerful spirits

kenki: aura or spiritual pressure of a trained swordsman

ki: aura or spiritual pressure

kitsune: fox

obi: a cloth belt used with yukata and kimono

okami: wolf

onegai: please

onmitsu: ninja, shinobi

onsen: hot springs

-sama: a respectful title meaning “lord”

-san: a respectful title meaning “Mr.” or “Mrs.”

seme: from the word semeru, “to give;” the dominant partner in a homosexual relationship

shishou: (swords)master, usually used in one-teacher-one-student styles

shinai: a bamboo sword used in kendo and kenjutsu in place of a real sword

shouji: a room divider made of paper, usually a door

tabi: socks with divided toes

tori: bird

tori-atama: literally bird head

uke: from the word ukeru, “to receive;” the submissive partner in a homosexual relationship

yukata: a casual summer kimono usually worn after bathing and/or for sleeping

zanbatou: the largest of all katana, it was meant to take out both a horse and its rider in one swing during the Sengoku Jidai, the Era of Warring States



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