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Cave of Memories

Chapter Text

It was very early in the morning when I woke up. Touji and Narushige were still sleeping on the floor of the empty house in which we had stayed for the night, but I couldn't see Chigusa anywhere. I tiptoed out as silently as I could so as not to wake them up.

The morning was grey, as they always were here. I yawned and stretched myself a bit, then picked a juicy fruit from a tree I had grown the night before. Kuro was asleep underneath the tree, and I patted her lightly. She rewarded me with a content growl-like sound but didn't wake up. Then I spotted Chigusa on the edge of the cliff, looking at the great grey wastelands ahead of us. I glanced back a bit, and the contrast between the way we had come and the way we were going still amazed me.

I knew he had noticed me but he didn't turn his head before I was beside him. Only then did he look at me and smile a bit. His goggles rested on his forehead, so he must have been using his eyes' special powers.

"Rakan," he said. "Good morning."

"Morning," I said, stifling another yawn. "What are you looking at?"

"Just at the route ahead," he said, turning his eyes back towards the desolate landscape. "Can you see that small rocky hill over there?" He pointed, and I nodded. It didn't look that different from the rest of the geography.

"It's full of holes," he continued. "They seem like they're man-made, there are several rooms and corridors on many levels. The whole thing looks like a cross between a home and a labyrinth. I can't see any signs of life, though."

"You're eyes are amazing! Maybe we should stop there to explore on our way, I bet you could guide us through the labyrinth."

He looked at me expectantly, and I patted his head. He seemed satisfied with that. Then an idea struck me. I tried to banish it from my head but was unsuccessful.

"Chigusa, can you see through clothes?" I asked.

He looked at me, then moved his eyes slowly up and down my body, all the way from head to toe and back. I shivered almost as if I could feel his gaze on my skin, softly caressing every surface even under my clothes. Especially under my clothes. Then his eyes returned to mine.

"Well, I do have very good eyes."

Before I could say anything (not that I even knew how to answer), the others came out of the house. I must have been blushing quite a lot, since Kou's sword form appeared out of nowhere and was promptly pointed at Chigusa.

"Good morning, you two," Narushige said quite chilly, and that was that.

Later, when we were riding on Kuro's back, I could feel Chigusa's gaze on me every now and then. It hadn't bothered me at all before, but now it was as if he was undressing me with his eyes all the time. He sat right behind me, and my skin prickled with each inadvertent touch and glance.

I sighed with relief when Kuro finally landed on the hill we had been looking at before. It felt like the ride had lasted an eternity when in fact it had only taken a couple of hours. I jumped to the ground as fast as I could, refusing Chigusa's attempts to assist me with the landing. I felt a small prick in my conscience when I saw his concerned look. He wasn't used to me being so forbidding. It wasn't exactly his fault, after all, that I felt a bit uncomfortable around him at that time. Or maybe it was partly his fault, but that was just because of his personality and unique physiology, and it wasn't as if he could do anything to change them. Main thing was that everything was just in my imagination. No, wait, maybe I had actually been affected by everyone's insistence on Chigusa's pervertedness.

I tried to act as normal as I could when Chigusa led us towards the entrance to the caves. It was easier like this, him being in front of me. I didn't have to imagine his glances from behind me or suffer from neither frequent shivers down my back nor hair standing up constantly at the nape of my neck.

We found the entrance half-blocked with small stones which we quickly threw away. Chigusa said there was a way through for us, although it seemed to be a bit twisty. Even so, it shouldn't take us too long to reach the other side of the hill, we should be there before nightfall even if we stopped several times. The doorway was too small for Kuro, so we told her to meet us on the other side. Chigusa gave Kuro some landmarks so she could find the other doorway, and I gave her some seeds after touching them so she would have something to eat as well while she waited for us. We watched her trot off towards the top of the hill. She seemed to enjoy the sudden bit of freedom.

I planted some light flowers beside the entrance and we each picked one. Then the four of us plus one snake entered the darkness inside the rocks.

Chapter Text

It wasn't long before we reached the first room-like cave. It was round and about three or four metres in diameter. The walls were incredibly smooth and painted full with images depicting many kinds of animals. The strange thing was that they all seemed familiar to me while the others only recognized some. There were whales, dolphins, frogs, snakes, crabs, seals and all kinds of fish – in fact, I think most of the animals had some association with water. I named some of the animals for the others. The images were very detailed and beautiful, but somehow lifeless, like the one who had painted them hadn't really known what he was painting.

We stopped to admire the beautiful detailing of the paintings, and the vivid colours, before continuing on. There were seven corridors leading out of the room, and Chigusa picked one that led us on a slightly downward path further inside the hill.

I still hadn't gotten over the earlier embarrassment, and I avoided Chigusa's eyes every time they were turned to my direction. Luckily he was still walking in front of us, so that didn't happen too often.

This time the corridor was much longer, and all the time it was descending a bit. Chigusa walked at the front of the queue, then Touji, me and finally Narushige at the end. Several times the way forked into two, three or even four corridors, and each time Chigusa picked one without even pausing to think.

I tried to remember the twists and turns we took, but after a while I was completely lost. If I were left there all alone, I would probably never find out. This made me think of old legends, like the Minotaur. I wondered if I would find a creature like that here, and I felt a little cold. I had to remind myself that Chigusa hadn't seen anything suspicious in the caves with his extraordinary eyes.

We walked on in silence. The walls seemed to be as smooth as in that room earlier, but somehow glittery. The light from our flowers was reflected everywhere around us, creating a soft circle of light that moved in pace with our steps. There was darkness ahead and behind, and I could almost feel the weight of the rocks on me.

A few times we passed other similar rooms, with paintings all over the walls. All the images reminded me of the other world. There was one cave filled with pictures of normal plants that were more familiar to me than the strange kind of vegetation that grew from seeds found in this world. The next cave was like stepping into a jungle, full of plants and life. I could even spot a tiger hiding in the grass. In yet another room the walls were painted full with images of shelves filled with all kinds of stuff, like what you'd see in a supermarket. One room was like seeing the night-time view from a skyscraper in Tokyo. And yet everything was somehow almost, but not quite, as it should be. The others had seen some bits of the other world during their brief visit, but not this much. They were amazed with the world shown in the walls, and I tried explaining some parts to them.

The images made me feel nostalgic. I had to admit to myself that I missed some things. That world had, after all, been my home for the greater part of my life. There were lost sights, lost feelings and lost friends, although none of them very close. The feeling of a normal life was something I would probably never again have. I didn't hold any hopes of ever returning to the other world, but I still missed it a bit. Yet I didn't regret my decision. I knew it to be the right one, and the memories of the other life in the other world were just that: memories.

I had sunk deep in thought and didn't notice that the others had stopped until I almost crashed with Touji's back.

"What?" I asked and peeked over Touji's shoulder. Then I saw why they had stopped. We had come to a door, and more than that, a wooden door.

It opened with an almost silent creak, and we went in. We found a succession of similar round caves inside, but these didn't have paintings on the walls. Instead, they were furnished with wooden furniture. There were also some metal and plastic objects, and even white-papered books. It was a little weird seeing all the things familiar from the other world in here, not just as paintings but really here.

These rooms seemed to have been someone's home. There was a kitchen, three bedrooms, a study, a living room and some other rooms I couldn't name. There was dust everywhere, and we figured whoever had lived here had vacated his home a long time ago. Luckily he hadn't left his skeleton there. I shivered at the thought.

There was an antique writing desk in the study, and from one drawer I found a used notebook. I opened it and realized it was a diary, or maybe more like a logbook. I started reading from page one.

Chapter Text

Monday, 22nd of July

First day behind us in this world. Landing successful. No contact made yet.

 

Wednesday, 24th of July

Landscape rocky. The sky constantly behind grey clouds. Maybe some catastrophe? Unable to examine further with the equipment at hand. The probes sent. No contact yet.

 

Thursday, 25th of July

Caves ready. The electrical mole digger functioning without defects. The crates unpacked and the caves furnished. Everything ready for living. No contact.

 

Sunday, 28th of July

The probes returned. Examining the data expected to take about a day. No contact.

 

Tuesday, 30th of July

Finally: contact. A small village found in the east. People friendly and helpful. Presented ourselves as travelling merchants. Changed some books for strange plants. Have to wait for return for closer examination.

 

I leafed through the notebook. It seemed to be full of similar entries, all written in that same neat style. It seemed that I wasn't the first to discover the existence of this world. The notebook didn't explain who these strange explorers had been, or why they had come here. All I could gather was that their aim seemed to have been just to explore this world and that they seemed to have come from a world quite similar to the one I had left behind some time ago. I turned to the last page to see how their quest had ended.

"What are you reading?" Chigusa's voice said from behind me. It made me jump a bit, partly because I hadn't realized he was there and partly because, once again, I could feel his eyes on me. He peered over my shoulder, and I froze.

"Wednesday, 27th of November," he read. "Returning to home-world tomorrow. All specimen already sent. A native followed us here today. Seems to regard us as gods or messengers from heaven. Leaving this log behind as info for possible later exploration." He paused to look at me, and I tried to avoid his gaze.

"So the people who lived here were from another world," he said. "Maybe yours?"

"Seems so," I answered.

"And they have returned to their own world. This possible later exploration never happened, at least not yet, and these caves were just abandoned."

At that moment Narushige and Touji entered the room. Seeing Chigusa so near me made Narushige's face turn into a murderous mask, but Chigusa was strangely passive. He just withdrew from me without a word. That wasn't like him at all, but I didn't have time to think about it at that time. I showed Narushige and Touji the diary I had found and told them what I had learned from it.

Narushige was silent for a little while before speaking. "Maybe the native they wrote of turned the caves into some sort of temple, painting the walls with images he or she saw in their books. I was just about to show you this book I found, it's full of landscape pictures, just like the jungle and the cityscape we saw. Maybe that's why you thought the paintings were a little weird: they were painted from images, not from experience."

We were all hungry, so we used the kitchen cave to cook us a meal. I liked using familiar equipment, made of wood or metal or plastic. I had had to learn to cook with the things they used in this world, but I had so much more experience with these otherworldly tools. Plus I still had some misgivings about everything made of bone.

We ate and then got ready to leave, taking a few books and other light objects with us. I looked at the room one more time, thinking that this might and probably would be the last time I saw anything like this. This was my last chance to say goodbye to the other world.

We walked on for a while, then came to another cave, bigger than the ones we had seen so far, and not completely round but more like a stretched oval. This time it was a landscape of sea and tropical islands that surrounded us in the room. I could almost feel the water on my face, so vivid was the image. The painter of these caves had been a master to be able to paint this kind of beauty, maybe even never having seen it in reality.

I was admiring the palm trees on an island when Chigusa spoke sharply.

"Don't touch that rock!"

But it was too late. As I turned, I saw that Touji's hand was already on a round rock that jutted from the wall right were the horizon was. There hadn't been anything like that in the other rooms, their walls had been very smooth, even unnaturally so.

The ceiling collapsed in a rocky landslide.

Chapter Text

A big pile of rocks had fallen in the middle of the room, forming a barricade. Luckily I had been near the wall in one end of the oval cave so I was safe even if Chigusa, who had been near me, hadn't covered me with his body.

"What happened?" I asked.

"The ceiling fell down," he said simply, then withdrew from me. Again, I wondered about that briefly, but there were more urgent matters to attend to.

"What about Narushige and Touji?" I asked but was answered even before I had finished.

"Rakan?" a shout came from the other side of the rocks. The voice was a bit muffled but otherwise completely understandable.

"Narushige? Are you okay?" I shouted back.

"Yes, I'm fine. So is Touji. And you?"

"Still alive, and not even hurt. Chigusa too," I said while trying to look if there was a way through to the other side of the rocks or if there were smaller rocks we would be able to move. I couldn't find either. The new rock barricade had completely blocked our way.

"Yes, I would imagine so," came from the other side. Narushige's voice sounded kind of dry and chilly. "And why did he not inform us of the trap?"

"Ah, you didn't ask," Chigusa said, answering the question in his simplistic manner.

"Chigusa," I said, "what do we do now?"

He took off his goggles and looked around for a while.

"You two are quite near the exit," he said to the ones on the other side. "There are three corridors leading from your side, right? Take the middle one, then in the next room take the left corridor, that's the one going upwards, then right, and that should lead you out. Even if you get lost I can see where you are and we'll come find you later. Oh, I can see Kuro's already waiting there."

"And what about us?"

"Well, we'll have to take a longer route. Don't worry, there are several ways out of here. It'll take us a bit longer and we might even have to sleep in the caves tonight since it's already quite late, but eventually we'll get out."

I could almost feel the ice spreading from the other side as Chigusa said this.

"Chigusa," Narushige said, "in this situation I have no choice but to comply, but if I find you've done anything that might be considered even remotely suspicious you will never see another day. Do you understand?"

"Right you are," Chigusa said cheerfully, almost mockingly, and even though Narushige must have known he was only teasing him, I could hear a snap as Kou turned into a sword on the other side.

We said our goodbyes for what would hopefully only be a little while and went our way. Chigusa picked one of the two ways out of our part of the room. The other was the one we had come from.

He was walking ahead, not saying anything, and I followed behind, just as silent. We carried on like this for what seemed like hours until we came to another round cave, one with a fairytale forest of majestic trees.

Chigusa stopped and turned to look at me, and I pretended to be suddenly very interested on the painted walls, examining them closely. I tried to concentrate on the two-dimensional tree trunks in front of me, but my mind kept guiding my thoughts elsewhere. The skin on my back prickled as I felt his stare. I almost expected him to hug me from behind, but that never happened. I turned to meet his eyes and found they wore a troubled expression.

"Are you angry with me?" he asked, his voice trembling barely noticeably.

"Why would I be?"

"For bringing you to this desolate world. For forcing you to live like this. For so many things I've made you give up, like everything wonderful we've seen in these caves. There might be a way back, one those explorers knew about. I'll find it for you, if you want to return." He looked like a lost wet puppy, so desperate was his expression.

"How many times must I say that this was my decision?" I asked, a bit angry. "You didn't force me to do anything. And, although I might miss some things, I've never really regretted my decision. The other world, the one I grew up in, is now just a memory to me. Thinking about it, I feel a little sad, but that's just nostalgia. I have learned to like this world, too. I like the fact that Touji and Narushige and Kuro and Kou are all here with me, but most of all I love you being here. I'll always treasure my childhood memories, but the memories I've made with you are even more important to me."

Chigusa almost collapsed. His forehead sank on my shoulder and he sighed with obvious relief. For a while, he just stood there.

"Then why were you avoiding me?" he breathed against my shoulder. I could feel him tensing, bracing himself to hear the worst, and it was then that I finally realized how much I had hurt him with my actions.

"Well, it's a bit embarrassing," I said, blushing. I knew I had to tell him, otherwise he would worry, but it wasn't easy. He waited for me to continue.

"Um, it's because of what we talked about this morning. You know, if you can see through clothes."

"What about it?"

"Well, after that, every time you look at me I keep thinking that you're undressing me with your eyes."

"Yes?" He still didn't get the point.

"It's embarrassing, okay? It makes me blush and my skin tingle in all the places it usually wouldn't or shouldn't and my hair rise and..." I knew that by now I was red like a tomato, and I couldn't finish what I was about to say.

"I don't quite get it but maybe you'd be more comfortable if you, too, could see me naked," Chigusa said.

So shocked was I with this complete lack of common sense that I didn't manage to stop him until his upper torso was already totally unclothed. I grabbed his hands just when they were about to proceed to the bottom part and realized too late that this move had brought my face quite near his chest.

For a while we were like frozen in time. One part of me kept admiring his chest quite freely, the rhythm of his breathing (how fascinating it was how his muscles moved with every breath) and the nipples that I could see between the dark bandages he still wore, while another part of me was panicking. I could feel all kinds of arousal that I didn't quite understand, and that made me feel uneasy.

"Ah, I think I understand," he said. "Although I kind of like this feeling, having you stare at my naked skin so intently."

I blushed even more furiously, if that was possible, and quickly backed away until my back met with the wall.

He closed on me with a predator's grin pasted on his face. That expression made me at the same time a bit scared and quite a bit weak at the knees.

He was so close but we weren't touching. I could feel his breathing on my skin, and his eyes behind the lenses were observing me intently, and his hair as black as night almost brushed my chin softly. I was tense and burning all over, part of me wanting to touch him and another part wanting to escape. I couldn't decide which to do and we stood like that, almost touching, for quite a while. Before I could make my mind up, he spoke.

"I was so scared that you'd have regrets about following me, that you'd want to go back to the other world after seeing all this," he murmured.

I smiled gently. I knew there was next to nothing I could say to completely assure him, so I tried to think of something else. And there it was, crystal clear in my mind. I did it before I could stop myself.

With my hands I brought his head a bit lower so I could reach his lips with mine.

Chapter Text

I locked his shocked eyes with mine, not letting them go while my lips held his. The touch was soft and oh so sweet after that tense moment when not one part of him had touched with any part of me. It didn't last for long, but it felt like all the world to me. Then I finally released him.

"Now do you understand that my place is beside you, just as your place is beside me," I said.

He took off his goggles and looked at me with his gorgeous clear eyes, no lenses obscuring them. I could feel their gaze travelling on my skin under the clothes, and my breathing quickened. Just as well my eyes were following every curve of his body, of his naked chest, and he was breathing in rhythm with me. Again, there was no touching, no sounds, and I could feel the tension. It was like the air between us was cracking with electricity.

I tried to say something, just to release the tension, but he stopped me with one slender finger placed on my lips. His smile was soft and gentle, and oh gods, how much I loved that smile. I wanted him to always have an expression like that on his face.

His hand moved gently along my cheek, barely touching my skin. His fingers buried themselves deep in my hair, and his smile deepened as I rubbed my head against them. I lifted my own hand and placed it on his chest. I could feel his heart thumping rapidly, almost as rapidly as my own.

"I want you," I breathed out, shocking myself with these words. And yet at the same time I knew them to be true. Never in my life had I ever wanted anything more than I now wanted this man standing in front of me. But it wasn't just lust, most of it was love. I just wasn't ready to say that out loud yet.

"I'm all yours, Rakan, body and soul such as they are," he said, and his purr of a voice caused shivers run down my back.

He lowered his head slowly, almost too slowly, and kissed me. This wasn't like the earlier soft brush of lips, this was a delicious mingle of tongues, lips, teeth and saliva. He tasted like freshly cut grass and all things green. I closed my eyes to enjoy just the touch and taste for a moment.

Then he pulled back, a worried look on his face. I could see a question forming in his mind: is this really okay?

"It's okay, Chigusa," I said. "I want this too." I slid my fingers in his silky dark hair and brought his mouth back to mine.

His hand reached tentatively for the collar of my school uniform and began fumbling with the buttons, opening them one by one. He was slow, the buttons were new to his fingers, but I relished the time it took. He freed my upper body of all clothing, and we had to break the kiss for a while.

I surprised even myself with the boldness of my fingers as they managed to open the front of his trousers before gently touching that part of him that was already standing in attention. I got more courage from the shiver that ran along his whole body with that one soft touch, and grabbed him more firmly. He was bigger than me, but I had expected that. What I hadn't expected was the soft growl that escaped his throat when I stroked his length slowly up and down.

"Touch me too," I whispered, looking deep into his eyes.

His hand that was still holding my shirt dropped it to the floor and rose to my chest. From there it started its glide downwards, gently caressing one of my nipples on the way, making it just as hard as some other parts of me. Finally his fingers made their way to their destination, opening the zipper with ease before reaching for the part of me that was throbbing with anticipation. With his touch my knees gave up and I dropped to the floor, my back sliding along the wall behind me. Since I still had a hold of him, he didn't have any choice but to come down with me.

We sat on the floor, our legs entwining like vines, my hand in his pants and his in mine. We weren't kissing, but our faces were close to each other, our eyes locked. His every breath on my skin came just as fast, just as ragged, just as hot as each of mine. Every now and then a lock of his hair softly brushed my face, leaving ripples of shivers in its wake.

Behind him I could see the greenness of the fairytale forest with its mossy floor and blue sky, and hazily I thought that I'd like to show him landscapes like this in reality, not just in paintings. Then my mind was forced away from the forest as his hand made me moan a little.

Oh gods, his hand.

It was moving in time with mine, and his fingers were doing something extraordinary down there. I wanted to see them at work but couldn't break my eyes from his. The feeling of his hand working me was the most delicious I had ever known.

Without a word we both quickened our mutual rhythm at the same time. That sweet rhythm down there and in my hand made me unable to think about anything else, all of me living to that rhythm for the moment, my breathing, my pulse, my movements, my senses. In his eyes I could see that he was the same.

I felt hot and cold and sweet and sour and loud and quiet and soft and hard and so many other things, all at the same time. I swear I could see stars and planets and whole galaxies in those eyes of his that were sharing their deepest secrets with me, with my eyes. For this moment he was my whole world, nothing else existed.

We tried to prolong that sweetness of anticipation for as long as we could, but finally there was no stopping. Almost at the same time we both breathed out sharply, closing our eyes and finally breaking the spell as we came. Wave after wave, and still his hand around me and mine around him. And then we were both spent, panting a little, my head on his shoulder and his on mine.

"This is enough for now," I mouthed into his skin, and I wasn't sure if he heard or just felt it, but I could feel him shiver a bit. Next time, I swore in my mind, I would have him inside me.

A little later, my back moulded perfectly into his chest as he sat against a wall and I against him. My head and heart were in a daze as green as the walls of this cave, and I might have been purring almost inaudibly. His warm hand was gently stroking my head, and his other arm was holding me close against him.

"You do realize that Narushige's going to skin me alive, don't you?" he whispered in my ear.

"I don't want to lie to him," I mumbled, half-asleep. "If it comes to that, I'll tell him you're mine and not the other way around." Chigusa's arms held me even tighter when he heard my words. With that I slowly drifted to sleep.

Chapter Text

I woke up in Chigusa's arms. This wasn't at all unusual but today there was a new tint to the situation. We were both half-naked under Chigusa's long coat.

I blushed a bit when I thought about what had happened last night, but I didn't regret it. I was glad it had happened. As I looked into Chigusa's eyes that were already completely awake, I saw that worry changed to relief in them. He must have been a bit scared that I'd regret or even forget everything, but when he saw my expression he was assured.

I stretched to place a little kiss, more like a peck, on his mouth. He smiled, and I was almost certain that from now on that gentle smile would be on his face more often.

We said only a few words to each other as we got dressed and ate some fruits, but the atmosphere around us was warm and sweet. Then we continued our trek through the caves. I was walking behind Chigusa, since he was the guide and the corridor caves couldn't fit us side by side. I didn't pay much attention to our surroundings as my eyes kept turning towards Chigusa. How his legs moved, how his hair ruffled with the movement, how he would every now and then turn to look at me, each time not really believing that what had happened had really happened.

We walked on for a couple of hours in silence, sometimes passing rooms but mostly just walking along those long corridors. Then Chigusa stopped and turned towards me.

"After that turn over there we'll be out," he said. "They're waiting for us, I can see Narushige's trying to hold his temper."

Without a word I pushed Chigusa against the wall. He looked a bit shocked.

"So this'll probably be our last chance for a while," I murmured, almost to myself, and crashed my mouth with his.

At first he seemed unable to understand my aggressive determination, but then he surrendered to the kiss. Our tongues battled for a while, mixing our saliva, and when our lips parted we were both breathing harder than normal.

"Right," I said, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, "let's go."

After a short walk we came out of the cave and saw Narushige, Touji, Kuro and Kou waiting for us at the exit. Narushige and Touji both hugged me the moment they saw us, and Chigusa joined in as usual. If the two of them noticed anything unusual they didn't show it, and we didn't tell them, at least not yet. We tried to act as normal as we could.

As we were all eating a scrumptious breakfast/brunch/lunch I looked at the exit from the caves. It was very small, almost too small to hold in everything it did.

Those caves of memories had been halls full of reminders from the other world and I had missed some things I had seen there. But even now that I knew there might be some way, some method to return there, I didn't want to. This was where I finally got to properly say goodbye to everything I had left behind.

Yet the caves held a different meaning to me, too. One full of love, new beginnings and new memories. The world I had grown up in was now one part of me, one part of my memories, but the part belonging here, in this strange world, was growing bigger and bigger all the time.

After we had eaten Narushige and Touji began getting ready to leave. Since me and Chigusa had already been walking for quite a while that morning, they let us rest for a while. I placed my head on his shoulder and his hand found its way into my hair.

"You know, you never really answered the question," I said. "Can you actually see through clothes or not?"

"Not really," he said. "When I use my eyes' abilities people usually appear just as creatures of light, and I can't easily separate their skins or their bodies from their clothing. But it doesn't matter since just now I got to see quite a lot of Rakan's skin anyway."

Even without looking I knew that his face was exhibiting that soft smile of his again, and I kind of wanted to hit him.