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|Title: Other Nights
Author: Eleanor K.
Fandom: Blade of the Immortal
Posted: 29 Jan 2004
Spoilers: Cry of the Worm
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiroaki Samura and not in any way to me.
Notes: Chrissy gets pie for being so kind as to beta. *pie*
Written for Dani's Tree Sex Challenge.
Magatsu hit the floor shoulder first and skidded across it. The ache in his cheekbone was sharp and hot. He looked up at his father.
"I'm leaving." He stood. "If you hit me again, I'll hit you back."
His parents were silent as he walked out. He heard his mother crying softly before he shut the door. He rubbed his cheek and looked up at the stars, feeling drained and saddened and unsurprised. It had all gone just the way he'd thought it would.
His father had shouted and gotten red in the face. His mother had started crying as soon as he'd brought up Haya's name. It was better he was leaving.
He should have left in time to reach civilization, but at least his father wouldn't have to worry about the chores until tomorrow. The air was warm and damp. He could sleep out tonight. He knew just the place.
Moonlight covered the leaves and bark and grass with a silver frost. It did the same to his skin. It made him look like the ghost he already felt he was.
No one gave a damn about her. Not her own parents, and they should have cared. They should have *done* something. They should have said it was wrong, at least to each other. At least to him. *This is the world we live in* his father had said. And his mother... *Why couldn't you have kept her off the road.*
It was easy enough to find the place. It wasn't far from where they'd cut her down. He had to walk over that spot--or around it, since he wouldn't walk over it. He knew where the blood stain had been. He wished it had lasted longer, but the next day's rain had washed it away. He was the only one now who knew exactly where it was.
His parents had never seen it. He'd carried her body home and stopped at the well to wash her face clean. Then her body, because he couldn't bear the contrast between the serenity of her face and the crusted wound that covered half her torso. They'd never seen her blood. Maybe that was why they didn't care.
He closed his eyes. No. They did care. Of course they cared. She was their only daughter. They'd just reacted differently than he had. And that was why it was better to leave.
He opened his eyes and found his feet had taken him where he needed to go.
The tree rose in front of him, looking sheer and unclimbable as a cliff face. He ran the last ten feet over the underground river, feeling mud sucking at his feet. An easy leap took him a few feet up the trunk, high enough to reach the first set of handholds.
It was an easy enough climb after that. The bark was rough and weathered, cracked in places. He'd been climbing it since he was a child. He'd tried to teach Haya how to climb it, but she just didn't have the strength to pull herself up. He'd carried her a few times when she was still small.
Now she'd never be strong enough.
He pulled himself at last into the crux of four thick branches where the trunk split. He sat still, cradled in living wood, and refused to cry.
There was no danger of falling. He'd slept here many times before. Invisible from the road, safe from predators--human or animal. Sometimes he'd come up here and wished he'd never have to leave. He was afraid this was going to be one of those times.
He had the clothes on his back, a little food, his sword, and no idea what he was going to do in the morning.
It was easier not to think about it right now. At least he could start whatever life he was going to have now with a good night's sleep. He leaned back against one branch and closed his eyes.
And failed utterly to fall asleep. He twitched and tossed his body into a more comfortable position against the wood, but it didn't help.
It was almost a relief to hear the footsteps below.
Almost, because he couldn't imagine who would be tramping around the forest at this time of night with any good intent. Also because they were all too likely to stumble into the mire of the underground river, which meant he'd have to either save them or not. Neither choice appealed right now.
He curled himself around the curve of a branch and looked down.
A figure stood in the moonlight. Magatsu wasn't immediately sure whether it was a man or a woman. Then he saw the sword tucked into the binding of the man's kimono.
Samurai, was his first certain and irrational thought. The man had no retainers, no horse. He was alone and on and foot, and his clothes were hardly what one might expect from a samurai. Still, there was something about the way the man stood. Some surety in himself that was almost arrogance, but not quite.
When he looked up to the sky, it was in his face as well.
Magatsu kept quiet as the man neared the underground river. Right up to the moment he was about to step in it.
The man hesitated, foot raised above his own death. Magatsu found he couldn't let him walk into it. Besides, he would probably start yelling when he found out he was caught in the mud, and that could go on for hours.
"You there," he called. "Samurai."
The man took a step back, but didn't lay a hand on his sword. "Why do you call me that?"
"You are, aren't you?"
"With a weapon like this?" The man held up a wrapped bundle that Magatsu never would have taken for a weapon of any sort. "Or was it my grand retinue that led you astray?" He swept an arm out to encompass the empty forest on either side.
"You're funny," Magatsu said flatly. "If you want to keep being funny, pick another direction to walk in."
"There's a river that flows under there. The ground's not solid. It'll swallow you whole."
"I see." He paused, looking at the ground in front of him. "I'm in your debt." He crossed his arms. "And you're in a tree. In the middle of the night. May I ask why?"
"You're in a forest in the middle of the night. I could ask you the same question."
"I couldn't find an inn. The last building I passed was a farmhouse, and nothing before that for miles."
"Well, I'm broke, so I wouldn't be able to pay even if there was an inn around here, which there isn't. Keep walking, you'll hit one by morning. Have fun."
From a dead stop, the man was halfway up the tree before Magatsu even started to move toward his sword. He had the hilt in his hand and was bringing it around when the man's head appeared between two branches.
"I'd rather not walk all night," he said. "Maybe I could convince you to share your tree?"
"Find your own damn tree!"
"I like yours. Are you going to behead me?"
Magatsu's sword was steady against the man's neck, but there was no fear in his eyes.
"What are you?"
The man pushed his sword aside gently. Magatsu didn't try to stop him.
"Anotsu Kagehisa. And you?"
There was something about him. Something in his face, or in his eyes. Something less than sane and more awake than anyone Magatsu had ever seen before. Something that made him hold out his hand in invitation.
Anotsu took his hand and let himself be pulled up into the cradle of the branches. It was clear from the way he moved that he didn't need the help.
Magatsu sat down where he had been before. Anotsu stood over him, looking up into the branches overhead.
"That farmhouse must have been yours," he said.
Magatsu stared at him. "What?"
"The farmhouse. The one I passed. Yours, yes?"
"My parents'. How did you know?"
A little flourish of Anotsu's hand took in the tree and their place in it. "You don't discover something like this by chance. You must have lived around here for a while, and that house was the only building I've passed for hours. And the middle of nowhere is a dumb place to go if you're broke, and you don't strike me as dumb." He smiled slightly. "So why are you running away from home?"
"None of your business. And I'm not running away."
"You're just leaving calmly and rationally in the middle of the night with no money, no extra clothes, and no food."
Magatsu glared at him for as long as he could manage. It wasn't long. Anotsu was absolutely right. He'd been an idiot. He sighed.
"I've got food."
"I don't. I do have some money. A trade, perhaps?"
Magatsu shrugged. "Don't worry about it." He set the bundle of rice balls between them. "It's not much anyway."
They were too big for one bite, and he managed to spill bits of rice down his front. Naturally, he thought. Anotsu was looking at him. He still hadn't touched the rice balls.
"What? They're not poisoned."
"You've got nothing in the world but the clothes you stand up in, and you're turning down money? Maybe you're stupid after all."
"Oh, shut up. It's my tree. I'm being hospitable. Eat the damn rice balls."
He looked pointedly away, but saw a hand reaching for the food out of the corner of his eye.
"They're good," Anotsu said. The tone was conciliatory. "Your mother made them?"
"I made them."
He looked at Anotsu, daring him to say something, but the other man didn't even blink.
"They're very good." He took another.
Crickets chirped. An owl hooted somewhere nearby. The two of them added to the night sounds, munching and shifting in the small space.
When Anotsu spoke again, his voice was pitched low and soft. It hardly broke the silence that had settled around them.
"Can you use that?" He nodded to Magatsu's sword.
"You're very sure of yourself."
There was a pause and some more thoughtful munching.
"I might have a proposition for you. If you're good enough."
Anotsu laughed. It was short and clear and surprised. "All right. I'll want to test that for myself, but I won't argue the point tonight."
Magatsu shrugged. This was one thing he could depend on. His skill with a sword was unaffected by the pile of shit his life had suddenly turned into.
"I'm getting some sleep," he said. "Especially if I have to kick your ass in the morning."
That got him another laugh. "We'll see."
He bundled up the remains of the rice balls and stuck them in the crook of a branch. He did the same with his sword. With Anotsu's weapons already tucked away somewhere, there was enough room for both of them to lie down, but they'd be close. Magatsu was finding that he didn't consider that a bad thing. He lay down and closed his eyes.
There were a few minutes of quiet, which gave Magatsu time to remember why he was up this tree in the first place. He lay still, seeing moonlight filtered red through his eyelids, and thought of blood. He kept dreaming about her. Almost every night since it had happened. He wondered if he'd ever stop, and if he did, if that would mean he'd forgotten her.
He dug his nails into his palms. He needed to sleep. Thinking like this wasn't going to help.
He could feel Anotsu moving nearby. The scrape of his feet on the bark, the rustle of his clothes, the heat of his body as he sat down next to Magatsu. Something about him. Distracting.
Distracting was good.
A hand brushed down his arm, and he opened his eyes. Anotsu was lying on his side next to him. There was a question in his eyes.
Magatsu raised his eyebrows. Anotsu smiled slowly at him, and he felt heat bloom in his stomach--and lower.
A distraction was exactly what he needed right now.
"Is this one of the perks for this job you're offering me?"
"Maybe it's part of the job description."
Anotsu watched him with cool eyes, but his thumb was marking little circles on Magatsu's bare skin, stroking lightly at the inside of his elbow.
He was almost sure Anotsu was joking.
He felt a hand smooth over his hair. Leaning over him now, Anotsu was only waiting for his answer.
"Hey, I can think of worse jobs."
Anotsu laughed quietly. "Good answer."
He bent low. The ends of his hair swept across Magatsu's collar bone. They tickled, cool and soft. Anotsu kissed the hollow of his throat and pulled back. Swept a hand down Magatsu's chest to the binding of his kimono.
"Take this off."
Not a request. But that was all right, since Anotsu was busy stripping off his own clothes. Kneeling, peeling off his kimono, skin pale and glowing in the moonlight. Hair so dark it looked like it was made of shadows.
Anotsu rested his hands on his bare thighs, kimono piled around him. He raised an eyebrow.
Oh. Right. He'd gotten a little too distracted there.
He set to work getting his own clothes off, feeling Anotsu's eyes on him the whole time. He fumbled with the knot and glanced up again and again to see if he was still being watched. He always was.
Naked now, with his kimono between his back and rough bark. Firm hands stroked over his chest, down his stomach, and spread his thighs. Half-hard just from thinking about this, the first touch made his cock jump.
Anotsu smiled at that and looked a little too much like he wanted to laugh. Magatsu reached for him and found his hands pushed aside.
"Hey, don't you want..." He trailed off as his wrists were caught and pushed above his head.
"This is what I want."
He hesitated, arching against the hold. Anotsu's eyes were steady on his, demanding. Magatsu gave in.
"Okay. For now."
Anotsu nodded acknowledgement and let go of his wrists.
Lips pressed against his throat again, almost cool compared to his heated skin. They moved downward, and Anotsu's tongue flicked across the ridges of his breast bone to where it was lost in the muscle of his stomach. Sharp wetness digging into his belly button, strange and almost uncomfortable, making him want more. Fingers rolled his nipples until they hardened and then flicked lightly over the tips, gauging perfectly how sensitive he was.
He'd expected something faster, something less personal and less controlled. He hadn't expected this. In a tree, for god's sake.
The touch on his nipples was light but constant. Little prickles of sensation brushed across his skin. A flush traveled down the length of his body. He could almost feel the first gathering drops of pre-come spill over the head of his cock.
His arms lay on his kimono, but his hands were high enough up to touch the bark of the tree and feel where it curved into the branch behind them. His nails dug in as he tried to keep still. It came to him that there was no real reason to keep trying.
He grasped Anotsu's shoulders, pulling the other man to him as he sat up. There was none of the resistance he'd expected. Anotsu leaned against him and let him control the kiss. Deep, rough heat, their tongues moving together, hands roaming across his skin.
Anotsu was smiling faintly when he pulled back, in a way that made Magatsu wary.
"You don't follow orders very well," Anotsu said.
"You haven't hired me yet."
"You're not giving me much of a reason to."
"You...are joking. Aren't you?"
Anotsu just smiled at him again. It was not a reassuring expression.
Magatsu gave up on getting an answer and pulled Anotsu down to kiss him again.
The kisses made him glad Anotsu wasn't in a hurry. An arm came around his shoulders, and a hand cradled the back of his head as he was laid back down. Anotsu's mouth slipped against his, down to kiss his jaw, back again to lick across his lips, the corner of his mouth. He opened his mouth and strained to catch Anotsu's, wanting the taste of him again, deep inside.
He arched up, chest against Anotsu's bare chest, feeling muscle and heat and breath. The arm supporting him tightened and held him up. Hot mouth slicked over his chin and down his throat. Hand rubbing slowly at his inner thigh, so close. He found himself trying to twist toward it and made himself stop.
"Don't," Anotsu murmured against his throat. "I don't want your control."
"Then what-- Oh-- What do you want? Feels like a fucking test."
He felt Anotsu laugh. "You're thinking too much. I thought you were looking for a distraction."
"I never said--"
"You didn't have to."
A glancing touch to the side of his cock made him moan.
Anotsu chuckled. "Very eloquent."
"Fuck you." Another touch to his cock turned the last word into a gasp.
"That wasn't quite what I had in mind."
Anotsu flipped him onto his stomach in an easy move that he failed to follow. Hands at his waist pulled him up and back until he was on his hands and knees. Anotsu's breath was warm on his back. Fingers traced curving lines up and down his spine. Anotsu's cock was hot and hard, pressed against the cleft of his ass, rubbing up and down with short stokes.
He bit his lip and pressed back. He *wanted* this.
Teasing touches floated across his hip, under his body, down his stomach. Over and over and over the tip of his leaking cock, just fingertips, until he wanted to scream.
He grabbed Anotsu's wrist and found he couldn't say anything at all. Making demands was hopeless.
Anotsu's free hand smoothed across his back.
"All right. Just a minute."
He wasn't left alone for long. It was only seconds before Anotsu's hand was back, spreading something slick and cool down the cleft of his ass and over his opening. Over and around and around until his body warmed it.
Shuddering breaths and the drag of fingers up and down his back. The tease of fingertips pushing into him. Stretching muscle, burning like his cock burned, fire all though him.
Now there was heat at his entrance to match his own, blunt and thick and slippery. Forcing itself past initial resistance and holding, waiting, pulsing inside him. Too much too soon, but he wanted it anyway.
Forced to open inch by inch, his body resisted. Stung. Cried out in complaint to him until his mouth opened against his will. He expected to hear a plea, but there was more pleasure than protest in his wordless groan.
Taking it as encouragement or simply not caring either way, Anotsu pushed forward until Magatsu felt their bodies meet, hips pressed against his ass. Hands stroked over his sides. He tried to calm his breathing.
"Easy," Anotsu said. "I won't hurt you."
"You are hurting me." It was a gasp of a sentence, so run together it was barely words at all.
"I won't hurt you more than you want me to."
Hips tilted, hands holding him in place, Anotsu found that place inside him. Pleasure like a gathering storm, sizzling sparks gathering inside him. He could only hang his head and wait for more.
Burn and flex and slide, easy casual invasion. It shouldn't leave him stiff and leaking and out of breath, heart beating like something caged inside him, but it did. He lost track of everything but that pulse of pleasure inside him and missed the moment when what pain there was turned into something else. Something hot and full and bloody.
"Oh," was the word coming soundlessly from his mouth, over and over as Anotsu moved in him with a force that rocked his whole body.
His hands slipped off the edge of his kimono, and he dug his nails in. Bark pressed hard and sharp against his knees, scraping with every thrust. There would be bruises, maybe blood. But there would be bruises anyway from Anotsu's use of him, and maybe blood as well.
He didn't care. It wasn't that he didn't feel it. He felt everything. Every movement inside him and hiss of Anotsu's breath over his back. Every repeated dig against that spot inside him and drag of a rough hand over his cock. Heat spread over his thighs and back.
Silent but for his breath, Anotsu dragged his pleasure from him in bursts and spikes and drawn out sighs. Smooth cheek against his back, hair tickling his side, nails on his shoulder. Anotsu stiffening and filling him, still thrusting and jerking his cock almost to the point of pain.
Magatsu came with his mouth open and his body feeling battered and used and so satisfied that he wanted to collapse where he was and sleep for a week. Once Anotsu eased out of him, he tried to do just that. Hands caught his waist and pulled him up and back until he leaned against Anotsu's chest.
Anotsu cleaned him off, but didn't release him. Magatsu let his head fall back to rest on Anotsu's shoulder. Lips brushed the taut skin of his throat.
He felt wrung out. His arms were shaking as he touched Anotsu’s hand where it lay across his stomach. The silence was expectant. He had no idea what to say.
"If it was a test," Anotsu said dryly. "You passed."
Magatsu didn't mean to laugh at that. It didn't sound like it was supposed to be a joke, despite the hint of a smile in Anotsu's voice. He couldn't help it. It started out as smothered chuckles, but in seconds he was taken over and shaking with it. Anotsu said nothing. Simply held him.
Finally, he got himself under control and craned his neck to see what effect he'd had on Anotsu. He expected anger and was hoping for amusement.
Anotsu only looked confused. And, unexpectedly, as tired as Magatsu felt. His face was drawn, and there were heavy shadows under his eyes. Magatsu wondered for the first time exactly what Anotsu was doing here. Couldn't find an inn? What was he doing on this path in the first place? Not like there was anything out here to interest someone like him. He was walking away from the city center, not towards it.
He almost asked. Almost, but Anotsu must have seen the question coming. He didn't flinch away from it. Rather the opposite. His face closed up, and his eyes chilled.
Fine. He didn't need to know that badly.
Magatsu smiled at him. "You look as dead as I feel. Let's get some sleep before morning, yeah?"
He got the pleasure of seeing surprise knock the chill off Anotsu’s face.
"Yes." Anotsu sounded like he was looking for the catch. "Sounds like a wise idea."
"You'll probably have to let go of me first."
Anotsu did, suddenly enough that Magatsu tipped forward and had to catch himself. A hand smoothed over his shoulder in what he chose to take as apology.
Now for the collapsing. He rested his head on his crossed arms and let his body go limp. Anotsu pulled his kimono over both of them and turned on his side, facing away.
Magatsu looked down the curve of Anotsu's back. He'd rather have him closer. He shrugged a little and closed his eyes. There would be time for that another night.
He caught that thought and turned it over in his mind. Yes, he decided. There would be other nights. Maybe it wasn't a great idea to sleep with the boss, assuming he got the job, but tonight probably proved he wasn't exactly hot stuff in the great idea department.
There would be other nights. If Anotsu still wanted him. He smiled to himself. He thought he could manage to make sure Anotsu still wanted him.
He ran one finger down Anotsu's back and watched it stiffen. Other nights, then. He could wait.
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