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20 June 2003 @ 06:29 pm
Turnabout (extended): Juuni Kokuki, PG, yaoi  
Title: Turnabout

Author: unedited
Fandom: Juuni Kokuki (Record of the Twelve Kingdoms, also called the Twelve Kingdoms or Juuni Kokki)

Type: yaoi

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Juuni Kokuki is a masterpiece in world-building and does not in any way, shape, or form belong to me. I have merely hijacked the characters to go into a nearly-sacrilegious fic on one of its imperial pairs. I repeat: they're not mine, and this is probably a crime in more ways than just copyright infringement.

Notes: The time limit actually made me write this more than ONCE, because I didn't like the results the first time and didn't make the time anyway. The second time I thought it through better before starting the fic, and made this in JUST a little over the time limit. I don't like it compared to the full version I intend to write, and I'm not wild about the ending at all, but it'll do for the challenge. The full version will certainly take more than an hour. ^_^ Don't think I'm not WISE to your plot to make me right more of this, BTW. XD




Series Summary: This series is a unique new entry into the girl-winds-up-in-a-fantasy-world genre anime. There are, in this world, twelve kingdoms; each kingdom has a kirin (Chinese holy creature or god-beast) which, when he/she matures, chooses an emperor to rule his/her kingdom, and they rule together for all of eternity or until Heaven decides they suck -- whichever comes first. When a kirin finds his way to Japan and decides that a "normal" Japanese schoolgirl will become his new empress, he brings her to her new world... only to promptly vanish, leaving Youko and her "friends" from Japan to flounder about without any clue of what's going on. Oops?

Series Notes: Lady Shoshun is a sage of Mt. Hou, and the one who particularly raised Enki from his early childhood onward. Although it sounds quite bizarre out of context like this, I really think she and Enki could've had that conversation. What sort of power DO the immortal sages of Houzan have anyway? We're told that they HAVE powers with which they could hurt you, but we never see them using it (although we DO see them in harassing situations, like three times, and failing to use these powers). I assume that we're talking some basic stuff and heavenly leverage. Kenrou Shinkun is a once-human god, who watches over the seas and protects travelers.




Turnabout



"Your Majesty," murmured Itan, prostrating himself. "Every apology for interrupting your eminences, but I believe that an important missive has arrived for your perusal."

Shoryu eyed his minister with amusement, and then his two guests. Itan was a terrible busybody, loud and obnoxious and free-thinking, and he had never yet failed to speak his mind with a bluntness that a stricter emperor might've claimed his head for... but when there were visitors, he had an appearance to maintain. "I trust I have your pardon, Your Majesty?" he asked with a great show of courtesy.

Youko fidgeted at the honorific, but smiled faintly. "Of course," she was quick to answer. "I'll keep myself busy somehow."

With a mischievous grin spared for Itan, Shoryu murmured, "I imagine Rakushun can keep you entertained -- he'd make a poor imperial consort otherwise."

He was rewarded immediately with a powerful blush from the redhead, and Rakushun muttered embarrassed disclaimers under his breath. Shoryu pretended not to notice as he took the scroll from Itan, who was glaring at him for such a flagrant breach of dignity.

It took almost three full readings before the contents of the scroll made anything even vaguely resembling sense. He looked up with a frown, and the quiet conversation between Youko and Rakushun ceased immediately. They turned to him with curious expressions, and he handed the missive to Youko.

"It's from Lady Shoshun," he said, "one of the sages at Houzan. She practically raised Enki while he was there, and they were quite close."

"Why would she send you a letter?" Rakushun asked, puzzled. "The sages are famous for being reclusive; they traditionally don't have contact with the outside world."

Shoryu shook his head. "Apparently, she and Enki have kept in touch. They correspond every few years, and in the latest relay, Enki seems to have said something that... upset Lady Shoshun."

Upset was putting it mildly, judging from what she'd said about condemning him hastily and telling him in fury that she hoped the Heavens showed him the error of his ways. His only response had been to accuse her of cursing him. Her letter to Shoryu had been hastily thrown-together, and sounded quite desperate in tone.

Somehow, without even knowing it, a sage of Houzan had cursed the god-beast kirin of En.

Youko looked up from the missive, alarmed. "What's happened to Enki?"

"I don't know," Shoryu confessed, getting to his feet. "It's not at all uncommon for him to disappear for days at a time. The messenger who came with this letter was Kenrou Shinkun himself, so this whole matter can't be more than a day old. Are you up for a jaunt into the palace, Your Majesty?"

She was already standing up, and said matter-of-factly, "Hopefully we'll move faster than that."

They did manage to move at a decent speed, considering the immense formal robes hampering the two monarchs and their three-feet-tall half-beast companion, and within five minutes, Shoryu was knocking on the door to Enki's private chambers.

It was a long, tense minute before a low, hoarse voice from within demanded, "What is it?"

"It's me, Rokuta. Youko and Rakushun are here, too. We'd like to come in."

It seemed like the moment he spoke, the air all around him prickled with hostility or alarm. A heartbeat later, Enki's voice rose in a panicked, "NO!"

The warrior blinked, taken aback. "What's wrong? Enki -- open the door. We're here to help you."

No response this time at all; Rakushun murmured something with concern to Youko. Frustrated, Shoryu pounded on the door relentlessly. "Enki!" he growled. "Open up right now."

There was the sound of tearing fabric -- of fabric being torn? -- and then a soft whisper of silk hitting the wall and sliding to the floor. "What part of no don't you understand?" came the snide rejoinder. "I'm not coming out!"

Shoryu and Youko exchanged concerned looks. It wasn't like Enki, even Youko knew from her short acquaintance with him; Shoryu certainly knew that in their five-hundred years together, the kirin had never done anything like this. Temper-tantrums, shredded clothes, shockingly disrespectful behavior... those things were almost commonplace. But Enki was an honest and a confrontational creature, and had never before refused to face his friends, even when angry at them.

So the fact that he wouldn't even let them into the room indicated that the newly-acquired curse on his shoulders had taken sudden, and dramatic, effect.

"What could the curse possibly have done to him?" Youko whispered, leaning in close.

Shoryu scowled. "I don't know." The only mystical aspects of his kingdom that had ever caused trouble for him were too-violent youma, too-selfish immortals, and a certain too-arrogant kirin. He'd never even heard about people being cursed before, outside the usual superstitious rumors explaining bad luck.

"You could order him to come out," Rakushun said, fidgeting with his whiskers, uncomfortable at the idea. "A kirin must obey a direct order from his Emperor."

The suggestion was practical, but it could do a great deal of damage to five hundred years of trust. Shoryu shook his head, but before he could explain a low growl from inside the room warned, "I don't think any of you would be happy with the result."

He was such a brat, Shoryu thought. He tried to say coaxingly, "Whatever's wrong, you can trust us, Rokuta. Just let me in, and leave everything to me, and I promise--"

"Take your promises and go away! What does it take before you realize you're not wanted?!"

That was the final straw; Shoryu reared up with his eyes narrowed angrily and reached for the sword at his side. Clicking footsteps against the floor made him turn warily; Enki's nyoukai, his Kanmei, padded up to the emperors before her master's door and beyond them. She held in her feathered arms a simple robe that Shoryu instantly recognized as one of his own.

"Hey," he said suspiciously. "Hold on -- what are you--" She melted through the door before he could say another word. Youko sighed with exasperation no less than Shoryu's own, and Rakushun took her hand and patted it consolingly. As if she was the one with the problems. Why his clothes? Didn't Enki's fit him anymore?

After a long moment, the door clicked open.

Shoryu was very fond of women, but he had never minded men either, and every now and again one would come along that captured his attention. His councilor, You Shukou (or Mubou, as he had been affectionately dubbed), was one such; he was quite pretty and searingly intelligent and often downright disrespectful, and Shoryu enjoyed those who were independent enough to not fall mindlessly before him. But Mubou had always been the one who said, almost thoughtfully, that it was really quite a shame that their never-married Emperor's kirin should be only thirteen years old in appearance.

Life was simple for Shoryu. He knew he was a ruler at heart, a samurai and a king, and he needed a people and a land to care for in that respect. He knew how to have fun, gambling and feasting and bedding frequently. And he knew that a man only fell in love once, and that the person he fell in love with would be the other half of his soul, completing him.

No kirin was whole without his Emperor. Sometimes, that also worked in reverse.

It had made things simple, then, when Enki had been thirteen for century upon century. Shoryu never married, and never strayed far from the side of the stubborn and insulting boy who had given him everything he had thought lost forever, and contented himself with the promise of eternity.

Enki emerged slowly from the room, wrapped in the robe that Kanmei had brought him, and another man might not have recognized him. Tall and golden and slender and achingly beautiful -- as all kirin were, but somehow, his Rokuta seemed so much more so -- it could be no one else in that too-big robe of Shoryu's who stepped into the hallway, expression carefully neutral. With the studied lack of emotion that Shoryu knew could only hide fear or uncertainty, Enki sank to the floor and bowed low to touch his lips to his Emperor's foot: a silent apology as he waited for his reaction.

"Oh," Youko said, with vast relief. "Is that all? You've just gotten older, Enki."

But as the golden head lifted and he met that serious lavender regard, Shoryu could see that he and Enki were both well aware that there was nothing simple about this situation. Everything was about to change.

"Youko, Rakushun," Shoryu said distinctly. "Would you excuse us?"

Rakushun told him sympathetically, "Take your time." Turning to Youko, he added, "I can show you the local college. It's great, Youko, they have the biggest library I've ever seen..."

Enki drew back slowly, and rose to his feet as they left. His head was tilted somewhat, facing away and to the floor; he didn't look at Shoryu.

The display of respect didn't suit him, even though only discomfort drove him to it. Shoryu firmly suppressed the urge to shake the kirin until he got angry, insulted him, started acting more like himself. Instead, he stepped forward and gestured back to the room.

Without argument, Enki turned and paced into his chambers. "I apologize for the mess," he murmured, stepping over a pile of clothes. Shoryu observed the mess with raised eyebrows; Enki wasn't exactly compulsively neat, but he was far from sloppy or lazy, and the hurricane of fabric thrown all over the room seemed almost as unlikely as the rest of this situation.

Speaking of which. "What's going on here, Rokuta?" Shoryu asked, keeping his tone firm and unthreatening -- Enki sometimes took things too hard when he was uncertain about his position. "I got a letter from Lady Shoshun."

Enki bowed his head, shoulders curling inward. Standing, he was close to Shoryu's height, but he appeared to be trying to make himself smaller by hunching in on himself. Gestures that were barely noticeable on the four-foot Enki were suddenly much more pronounced in this older version.

"She was just saying," he murmured, "that she had met someone at the Spring Equinox, when the people of Kou came, hoping to be chosen by Kouki. She couldn't help feeling silly because she was so much younger in form than he was, and said it must be even worse for me, and I told her that I didn't mind -- I preferred it. It... makes things a lot simpler."

After another moment, he turned around and straightened his shoulders, looking Shoryu in the eye, almost defiant. "She told me that she thought I was running away," Enki said. There was anger in his tone, which was a great relief; Shoryu had begun to wonder if he'd ever stop the timid routine. "That I was using my child's form to escape responsibility and maturity and... and living. She wanted the Heavens to punish me for my cowardice -- can you believe that?" He stomped a foot. "Me! I am the will of the Heavens!"

Shoryu fought back a smile. "And then this happened?"

"Yes! Then I woke up and I was like this." The kirin folded his arms and looked at him expectantly. "What do we do about this?"

"Well," Shoryu said thoughtfully, studying the room. "First we'll need to get you a new wardrobe. You can't wear my clothes, because I need them. They don't even fit you."

The expectant stare shifted into a withering glare. "That's not what I meant," he was told in a voice dripping with disdain. "I meant, how do we fix it?"

"Fix it?" Shoryu echoed. "You're not broken. There's nothing to fix."

Enki appeared stunned with disbelief. "You must be faking it, because even you aren't this stupid. You mean you want me to stay this way?"

"I do," he responded without thinking, and then realized that this innocent affirmation could be taken in multiple ways, added, "and you, of all creatures, should know better than to think that anything good can come of defying the Heavens."

Although an automatic retort visibly snapped to his lips, Enki swallowed it. He was possessed of inhuman wisdom, whether he liked it or not; too much so to speak in opposition to a statement that he knew to be true.

There was a pause, and then Enki asked quietly, "Do you think I'll go back when I've... learned whatever lesson they want me to learn?"

"I don't know," Shoryu murmured honestly.

"Well, what do you think?" the kirin asked, studying him with a rare expression of trust that only Shoryu ever saw.

That was harder than the unanswerable question; Shoryu had been very carefully trying to not think ever since Enki had emerged into the light of day as a full-grown, mature, and very very beautiful adult. His opinions on the matter were almost certainly selfish and self-interested, and he didn't want to influence Enki's decisions based on his own petty desires. If there were one trait Shoryu possessed that made him a good leader, it was the drive to constantly put himself aside and consider the needs of others first.

Unfortunately, it made him absolutely terrible when it came to matters of his own heart. Shoryu sighed and said patiently, "I don't know, Rokuta. All I know is that this... 'curse' isn't hurting anybody, including you. So it's all your preference. If you don't think you can get used to this, I agree that we should search for a way to change you back as soon as possible."

Enki was silent, long slender fingers smoothing Shoryu's robe over his arms. He said, "It changes things."

"It does." Shoryu struggled with his conscience, and then said simply, "But does that have to be bad?"

The blond stared at him, visibly not certain if they were talking about the same thing but hoping that they were.

Shoryu's spirit of fairness still gnawed at him, but he had spent five hundred years being fair. Now the scene was optimum for a little selfishness, and so he chucked his conscience out the metaphorical window and grinned. "I can think of a few advantages you have in this state that wouldn't be quite the same if you went back," he suggested, feeling mischievous once more as he stopped thinking like a ruler for a bit.

Enki's eyes widened at the insinuation, and then he smirked. "You never change, you old pervert," he said, laughing.

"Let's not be too hasty in deciding what to do about this new form of yours," Shoryu murmured, moving closer and raising a hand to trail against the curved jaw of his oldest friend. "You can give it a try for a while, can't you?"

After a moment, Enki grinned back up at him, the expression heartbreakingly familiar in that refined face. "I don't see why not. And in the meantime, you're going to think up a few ways to pay me back for making this tremendous sacrifice, right? You're creative."

For a fleeting moment Shoryu thought about Youko and Rakushun, but then he decided that it would be terribly irresponsible of him to run off and see to his friends when his Rokuta obviously needed cheering up after this depressing incident.

-------

Nyar. >_
 
 
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the fragile body of Gaius fucking Baltar!: femslashy spacetart on June 20th, 2003 04:44 pm (UTC)
This is the first Juuni Kokki fic I've ever seen, so I have to thank you for that. And then you managed to age a character in an odd way that didn't seem forced or stupid, and it was well-written and spelled correctly.
Caillen caillen on June 21st, 2003 04:44 pm (UTC)
not finished, not finished *points at it* you still need to finish it!!!

beautiful as always, kay. ^^
MC threewalls on July 6th, 2004 03:25 am (UTC)
Lovely.

(And because there's so little JK fic, and even less this enjoyable to read, if you'd ever consider writing more, I'd love to hear about it.)

You also might want to fix the mark-up on this one.
fujis on August 15th, 2005 06:47 pm (UTC)
Finish this please. Honestly I love the thought of a grown up Enki *cries in happiness* So cute!