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Elastic Heart

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She looked terrifying covered in blue paint.

It was thick and melting slightly in the summer heat , the red streaks on her face molding into a deep purple by her lips. The blue was supposed to symbolize coolness, collectedness, and a clear mind, and the look in her azure eyes definitely agreed with the color of her wedding paint. Yet her expression made it look more like warpaint.

I’m always down for a fight, but this one makes me want to flee.

And another one bites the dust

Oh why can I not conquer love?

I know our whole clan finds it ridiculous that I married her of all people; after all, Yuugi and I are and always have been the closest. But I didn’t have a choice. It was purely political. And I’d be lying if I said I never liked her a little bit, but we were the most ill-matched couple ever made.

The Council thought it would be best to match the smartest and the strongest of the Ooeyama clan, and I still find both Kasen and my positions to be debatable. Kasen is smart, yes, but she is cunning in a way unlike any oni I have ever met. Oni aren’t cunning. We’re upfront. And sure, I’m physically strong, but Yuugi is much stronger than me, and I cry at the drop of a hat. My emotions aren’t where my muscles are.

But no matter how much I protested, the decision was not mine to make. It was agreed among all youkai in the Kyoto area, many of which whom have no place deciding oni affairs. Kasen is probably the best liar of all oni. To her own species and other youkai, she’s a put-together, ingenious woman skilled in weapon design and blessed with the ability to talk to animals. But to everyone who actually knows her, she’s violent, condescending, and temperamental with a power complex. She’s scarily competitive and quite dangerous when angered. And nobody is better at angering her than me.

I might have thought that we were one

Wanted to fight this war without weapons

Our eyes met, and I felt a deep nausea settle in my gut. My lunch threatened to spill on the rug I kneeled on, but I swallowed hard. My nausea came out in tears and beads of sweat, making my red paint run down my face. I tried to rub the trails of water away, but the wedding’s host-the khala, or keeper-pushed my hand away.

“You’ll mess up each other’s paint, Ibuki-douji,” the khala said

Gross. The last paint I ever wanted to mess up was hers.

How can I be remembering that day at a time like this? She stands over me, that smirk of hers playing on her lips, flirting with the fangs beneath them. Her hand is still raised, palm red from where it smacked me. “Have you given up yet, little oni? Repeat what you just fucking said.”

My cheek still stings from the slap, but her words sting my heart more.

And I want it and I wanted it bad

But there were so many red flags

Kasen kneeled across from me, folding her hands in her lap elegantly. She smirked. “I guess we’re finally seeing eye-to-eye, little oni.”

I glared at her. “We’re off to a great start, ain’t we.”

The khala began her speech, some bullshit about “joining forces” and “how blue and red complete each other” while Kasen and I competed in an intense glaring match. I knew she hated me as much as I hated her. I did want to get along with her; she did have an interesting mindset and way of looking at things that would indeed complete me well in the right context.

Especially if she’d stop threatening me with the dilation of her pupils.

They still do that, the little flicker between small and big that tells me when she’s upset. “Why don’t you.” She steps closer. “Repeat.” Another step. “What you just fucking said.”

Now another one bites the dust

And let’s be clear, I trust no one

“And now the two souls shall blend their colors and become one,” the khala was saying.

And I guess a blending happened. She lunged at me atop the wedding rug, pinning me to the ground and smearing my red against her blue.

“Where’s my kiss, little oni?”

“Well! Answer me!” Her voice is raised. I hate it when she yells at me.

Goosebumps run up and down my arms. I swallow. “I said no.”

You did not break me

I’m still fighting for peace

“I don’t want to!” I screamed, trying to scoot away from her, even though her hands pinned me against the rug. Purple paint had spread across the rug, red streaks prominent above the blue, the blood of an oni’s dignity standing out atop violation.

“She doesn’t want to! Let her go!” Yuugi was getting involved now. She pushed the wedding-goes aside, her robes falling down her shoulder.

The khala approached Yuugi, which under any other circumstance would be funny, since Yuugi was decently taller than her. “This wedding has been ordered by the High Council. These two are destined to be.”

I close my eyes and brace myself for another slap. “Are you allowed to say no to me, little oni?”

I shake my head, not daring to say no again, but bold enough to argue, “I’m not your little oni!”

Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart

But your blade it might be too sharp

“Kasen is probably destined to fucking kill Suika!” I could hear Yuugi yell. “Look at them!”

I was still struggling, still fighting the blue oni, until finally Kasen landed her kiss. Her lips pressed hard against mine, not in the way I had ever seen oni lovers share affection. This was violent and forceful. Tears streamed down my cheeks and onto my lips, further spreading the explosion of violent purple between us.

“There’s nothing we can do now,” the khala said over the ruckus.

My ears rang in anger, but I couldn’t get up. I was somehow the strongest, yet Kasen was definitely stronger.

“We are married, you inconsiderate piece of shit!” Another slap. “You’re supposed to do what I say!”

I clutch my bruised cheek gingerly. “What happened to us being a power couple? Leading the Ooeyama clan together? If we’re in this together, we can’t be like this!”

I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard

But I may snap and I move fast

Somehow, sometime, the wedding eventually finished, and I run to my nearest barrel of sake to wash the taste of Kasen out of my mouth.

“I tried.”

I jumped at the sound of someone’s voice. It was Yuugi. She was clutching her dish in a very un-Yuugi-like way, almost forlorn.

“It’s alright. There’s nothing that could be done.” I take the biggest swig of sake of my life.

“I’ve seen you fight, Suika. This isn’t like you. You’ve been able to pin me down. What’s different about her?”

I gave her an uneasy shrug. “I just can’t.”

Yuugi grabs me by the shoulders. “You need to stand up for yourself, Suika. I won’t see her bully you like this.”

But she does bully me. Every damn day, when I’m done with my duties as leader, when I’m done drinking with friends and sparring with Yuugi, I come to my house to this. I’m not safe even in my own sanctum.

But you won’t see me fall apart

‘Cause I’ve got an elastic heart

I know she wants me to get upset, to snap at her, but I won’t. I won’t ever let her see me cry. At night, after she passes out after screaming and fighting with me, I sneak off to Yuugi’s house and fall asleep in her arms instead. Yuugi and I are definitely soul mates, there’s never been any denying that, and Kasen can’t do anything to stop us from being together. We’re Ooeyama’s worst kept secret.

She always holds me, ices my wounds and covers them with gentle kisses. Every time I come to her crying, she threatens to kill Kasen, to just get rid of the problem, but we both know it won’t solve anything. It would cause a civil war in Ooeyama, between followers of Kasen and followers of me. Blue versus red. And it’s taken so long for Ooeyama to even fall together, to be a unit, I’ll do anything to keep it together, though we’re anything but homogenous.

And I will stay up through the night

Let’s be clear, I won’t close my eyes

We had to consummate our marriage somehow. I didn’t want to touch her at all. I didn’t even want her to see my body, and I had never been shy about it before. But the way her eyes burned into me with hate made me ashamed, a feeling I always swore I was incapable of having.

We did have sex that night, she reassured me, but it didn’t feel like sex to me. I had sex with Yuugi all the time, and it was raw and passionate and intimate. But this felt violent. I felt gross afterward, like slime was covering my insides. Slime coating a burn.

She’s looking at me with those eyes again, the eyes she gives me whenever we’d “consummate our marriage,” as she puts it. “The High Council gave me this position so I could be in charge, little oni. You’re just the plaything it came with.”

“I’m not a plaything!” I argue, tears filling my eyes. “You’re not in charge of me. I’m in charge of me!”

“Oh, you poor thing.” She kneels to my level and touches my bruised cheek lovingly, though her eyes bore into my skull in the least loving expression I have ever seen. “You seem to forget your last punishment when you said that. I didn’t realize the so-called leader of Ooeyama had such a terrible memory.”

And I know that I can survive

I walked through fire to save my life

“I can’t take this anymore, Yuugi,” I sobbed between her breasts as she rubbed my back. “She’s fucking awful!”

“Why don’t you just beat the shit out of her already? You know you’re capable.”

“I don’t wanna sink to her level.”

“It’s self-defense, love. Why are you so afraid of hurting her?”

I still couldn’t find the answer to that. And the longer I took to think about it, the more she hurt me.

I’m remembering all that Yuugi has told me. I can’t keep being her doormat anymore. “Then fight me,” I say.

“What have I been doing, idiot?” she snaps. She tries to smack me again, but I duck out of the way.

“It’s not fighting if only one person is doing the hitting.”

And I want it, I want my life so bad

And I’m doing everything I can

All the bitter hatred, all the anger I’ve held pent up in my chest is let go in that moment. I stand, ignoring my shaking, bruised knees, and raise my fists. My mind isn’t slipping to our wartorn past anymore. It’s somehow crystal clear and very much in the present. “If you really think that you’re in charge, then-”

This isn’t a slap this time. It’s a full-on punch to the nose. I feel it crack, blood streaming down my face.

“This is stupid, little oni. I’m much more powerful than you because I have intellect. Isn’t that something I’m supposed to complete in you?”

Then another one bites the dust

It’s hard to lose a chosen one

I swing back, a direct hit to her jaw. She spits, teeth clattering on the ground. “You have a lot of nerve, little oni,” she hisses, spitting out blood with every word.

“I’m done being your little oni!” I say, the words coming out somehow a lot braver than I feel. “I am Ibuki Suika, and this is my clan. You can’t hurt me or my people any longer!”

We’re a blend of limbs now, making purple once again. When I spar with Yuugi, we wrestle a lot, yet she always makes sure no important parts of me get hurt. In fact, she doesn’t want to hurt me at all. Since Yuugi is the last person I fought, it takes a moment to adjust to a different person.

A person with no restraint.

You did not break me

I’m still fighting for peace

She slams my head down against the floor, and I hear a sickening crack. A concussion? Worse. Extreme pain floods my system, red flowing before my eyes, and I’m howling in pain. I’ve never been in pain worse than this. I spit blood in Kasen’s face, tears spreading the crimson down my battered cheeks.

A grin spreads across Kasen’s face, and she winces as she opens her split lip even more. “Try fighting me with a broken horn, little oni.”

Of course Kasen knows that horns are the source of an oni’s strength. The longer and thicker an oni’s horns are, the more powerful she is. And she has cracked my right one, the one on my dominant side. I can hardly move, the pain is so excruciating. All I can do is scream.

Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart

But your blade it might be too sharp

Today was a casual day around Ooeyama, so I was wearing my favorite loincloth, in good oni spirit. And she’s tearing it off me now, exposing my blood-coated skin, a new kind of red paint.

I have no fear of saying no anymore. It comes out like a reflex, like a knee jerk when you’re hit just right in the leg. I can feel her aggressively touching more sensitive areas, and I squirm as much as the pain will let me.

“I think we’ve just proven who the true leader is, haven’t we, little oni? In the end, you’re just some broken, drunken child. And you always will be.”

I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard

But I may snap and I move fast

She pushes further, and my mind is slipping, consciousness slipping, blood hardening by my eyes. I can’t see right, and somehow the pain of my broken horn is numbing pain in other areas. All I can do is sit there and take it.

I hear a loud crash behind my head, and Kasen freezes, her wet hand paused against my thigh. I can’t see what’s happening, but I smell something really familiar.

“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER OR I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU, IBARAKI KASEN.”

“Yuugi!” I cry out, but she doesn’t respond. In my blurry vision, I see Kasen fall back against the wall, vomiting blood against my gut.

Did Yuugi punch her in the stomach? I wasn’t sure, but I felt her warm and calloused hands caress my body as she picks me up and holds me close.

But you won’t see me fall apart

'Cause I’ve got an elastic heart

Hundreds of years have passed since then, and I still remember the pain like it was yesterday. Yuugi and I have been a de facto couple for god knows how long, leading the clan until we went underground. She supported my decision to go above ground, and now we’re in between Gensokyo and the Ancient City, wreaking havoc wherever we go, just as things should be.

And Kasen is rumored to be somewhere in Gensokyo as well. I’ve tried to find her. Somehow I still need closure on what happened. I wonder if she’s calmed down with her power complex. I wonder if she regrets what she’s done.

I just wish we could be okay. Not a couple. Not even friends. Just…coexisting. Yuugi tells me it’s a terrible idea, it’ll just bring up bad past shit, so I haven’t tried very hard. But now, I’m finally happy. Finally safe. Finally free.