[identity profile] melle-mal.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: Something Like Normal (The Burnt Offerings Overdub)
Author: Phoebe Zeitgeist ([livejournal.com profile] p_zeitgeist)
Summary: Hisoka’s okay with things. Really.
Rating: R
Fandom: Yami no Matsuei
Warnings: angst, dead people, BDSM if you don't blink and miss it.
Spoilers: for the Kyoto Arc
Title, Author and URL of original story: Something Normal by Ria ([livejournal.com profile] kessie)

A/N: My beta, [livejournal.com profile] wordsofastory, has my deep and abiding gratitude, for the beta itself, which is no small thing, but also for handholding above and beyond the call of duty.

Something Like Normal (The Burnt Offerings Overdub)

It’s almost a routine, now.

It might have been a fluke, those first few times. Stress, insomnia, two people who’ve gone through fire together and come out the other end with bad dreams and demons they can’t quite shake: who’d be surprised if they found each other on one or two of those sleepless nights? Or feel entitled to question the ways they might have found to comfort each other? Twice in three months, while late fall froze to deep winter and lightened toward spring, that’s nothing. But twice in a month, then three times, then every week: that’s something different, something like a relationship, something like normal.

Tsuzuki knows to expect me on these nights. I don’t think he knows why or how, that it’s I who wake him, that the quality of his desire is my harbinger. But he knows to trust the message. He waits for me always, now, at the head of his staircase, so that I’ll have to climb up to him: it’s a ritual. “Coward,” he says when I reach him, and strikes me hard across my face.

I could stop him, but why should I? True, if I were a mortal man this would be dangerous. The blow could knock me down those stairs, to land at the bottom with back and neck broken. But I won’t fall. And I owe him this much. Live for me, I said, and refused him his rest; he did as I bid him, and I know enough now of what that has cost him. After all, I live with it too. People think I can shut it out, but that’s not how it works. It leaks through the surface of his skin, soaks the air around him. He suffers now because I required it of him: because I lacked the courage to face this second life without him. He can call me coward if he likes.

It’s the sanest thing he’ll say between now and morning. “Yes,” I tell him. “I am.” And I call on the weapon within me, and reach, and feel the moon go red.

There’s always a moment, then, where he almost hesitates. It would be surprising if he didn’t: he’s spent a century protecting people from himself, for reasons I know and for reasons he still won’t let himself think about. His desires frighten him. It’s a stupid time for him to remember that he loves me; but that’s Tsuzuki for you.

Fortunately, I’m good at managing Tsuzuki’s various lurches into stupidity. And we can’t have him hesitating now. I slam into him, close my hands hard around his wrists and shove him back, through his bedroom door and back up against a wall so that I can let go his wrists, pull his head down and kiss him.

That’s all he ever needs, that reminder of how strong I really am. There’s still some self-loathing flavoring his thoughts, but there’s no more reluctance: not while we claw each others’ clothes off, not while I let him slap my hands away, catch my wrists and pin them behind my back, not when he sprawls back onto his bed and watches me kneel between his legs.

I could draw this out, bring him close to the peak and keep him there, make it as close to perfection as not-quite-mortal flesh allows. I’ve got access to all the technical skills now, and this close, with my mouth wrapped around his cock, there’s nothing he can hide from me, no flicker of sensation that escapes me. But the blowjob of the century’s not what he wants, or not what he thinks he wants. He wants to fuck my mouth, to feel my throat spasm around his cock, to have the flavor of violence and control in the act. Just as later he’ll want to see me get myself off, to endure his eyes on me and to come at his command; and after that, to fuck me at his own pace, me on my knees for him again, able to move only as he allows.

If he’s the one who wants it. I wonder about that, sometimes.

I’m good with it, why not? I’m fucking Tsuzuki Asato, it’s not exactly a hardship. He always makes it good for me on the physical level: he cares about that, and he’s good at it. For the rest, it works for me. I said we were close: close enough, from the beginning, for our spirits to join in one body, close enough for me to use his power as though it were my own, and closer now. I can see through his eyes, feel through his hands and mouth and mind, take my share in all the pleasures of power and dominion. It could even be that he craves this because I do; with so many boundaries down, the backwash of my power makes him feel through me, even as I feel through him. If I’m the one who likes the power and the cruelty, if I’m riding his mind these nights and taking it where I will, that would explain the confusion I feel in him sometimes afterward, the way he tells himself over and over that it’s this way between us because he wants it, however much he hates himself for it later and however little the thought of it stirs him on nights when he sleeps alone.

There are even things I’ve come to understand this way. To my own eyes I’m nothing to look at. Repellent, even, a scrawny kid with fungus-white skin that says you don’t want to catch what I’ve got. The murder made sense, but the rape? Why would anyone bother? Well, I get it now. Through his eyes I am beautiful, absolutely and inarguably; beautiful, and sickeningly desirable. My body makes a toy to burn cities for. Seeing myself like this, and in the frenzy of the act, there are moments when I can almost forgive what was done to me, and how I came to be here.

I said, Almost. Don’t get your hopes up.

Three in the morning is no time for lies. I know you’re there. I know you’re listening.

He always sleeps afterward, as he’s sleeping now: the stunned, drugged sleep of exhaustion and convalescence. He doesn’t dream. I never sleep, though I let him think I do: how could I, with these great energies hurtling through me, lighting my nerves, while my body and mind help work a spell I still don’t fully understand?

He’s as much a coward as I am. He knows something’s wrong, and he won’t look at it, won’t let himself think about it, too frightened of the shape it might assume if ever he let himself see it clearly. His confusion afterward, his exhaustion the next day: these are symptoms. He doesn’t want to know of what.

We’re healing you between us, I know that much. His spiritual energy is rich and sweet, you told him once; lucky for all of us it also seems to be inexhaustible. Or at least, swiftly and easily replenished. He’ll be tired and a little disoriented in the morning, and his emotions will have a grey haze of confusion and anxiety around them. But he’ll be fine by tomorrow night, and overflowing with it again by the day after. A good thing, since your calls on it are becoming more frequent. You’re stronger now, and it must be hard to wait.

I’m stronger too, I think you know that. Maybe you planned it that way, I wouldn’t put it past you. You told me it was a curse that you wrote on my body that night, and Meifu’s records agree, but that’s not dispositive. You always were a persuasive liar. The words on my skin move and change, at your bidding and now also at mine. You made me a weapon and an instrument; that the making killed me was only a side effect.

I could put an end to this, now that I know. I could refuse to go to him, these nights: you’d fight me, and it would be hard, but I could do it. It would kill you, do you know that? I could kill you. As slowly and dreadfully as you killed me. We’re not permitted to take the living before their time, but that’s a technicality, it needn’t concern us. No one could stop me. No one would even know.

But this is the truth: We cannot do without you, he and I.

Are you surprised? But neither of us could have known. He met you on the same day that he met me; neither of us knew him before he had both of us. He’s been better since that day. Happier, stronger, more able to find moments of something not too far removed from peace. Even in Kyoto, even on the night I found him in a snowy alley trying to dash his eyes out, he was stronger than before he met us, and saner; I saw him then through Tatsumi’s eyes and love, and I know now how it was before with him. Meifu gives me all the credit: they’re cowards too.

He’s been worse, since Kyoto. Not as bad as he was before us, but worse than he had been, closer to the way Tatsumi remembers him from years ago, when staying on as his partner was more than even love could endure. The others speak of time, and recovery, but they know. I can feel their fear, shrill and jagged, under their hope; and their hope tastes of desperation.

I can’t hold him together by myself. He needs you. You’ll know about that: you couldn’t keep him sane without me, either, could you? You’re what he believed he was; without you, real and tangible and walking in the solid living world, it won’t be long before he believes it again. Already he thinks what we do together these nights is the same thing that you did to me, the idiot. He needs to find evil somewhere outside himself; he needs to be someone’s prey, and not forever the predator.

Your revenge is over: Saki is dead beyond recall. If you meant to keep him for some more elaborate death, you’ve outsmarted yourself. Or you can say you succeeded, if you want. Tsuzuki was the sword in your hand; it was his despair that called Touda down, Touda whose fires can destroy a shinigami and obliterate a soul. If you say you did it deliberately I won’t contradict you. It’s as true as it needs to be, and it’s good that Saki’s gone. With no revenge to seek, there’s nothing to tempt you to destroy Tsuzuki rather than pursue him, or so your friend in Kyoto believes. He’d better be right. I don’t think you want me to have no reason not to kill you. Not any more.

There’s some symmetry to that, anyway. It only seems right that you sacrifice your revenge, if I have to give up mine. A shared sacrifice, to seal an alliance.

I’m not thrilled, but I can live with it. I even have my own reasons not to mind too much. I took this job to find out how I’d died, and I thought I’d found my answers. If Touda’s fires had killed you, I’d probably still think so. It figures that healing you has showed me that I still don’t know, not really. The weapon inside me is part of me now. How will I know why I died, and what I am now, without you in the world to teach me?

I set a videocamera before I left, tonight. The equations weren’t hard; improbable as it seems, the moon travels the same course over Meifu as it does over the living world. The moon was only a day from full tonight, and the night was cloudless. Madness is a risk for shinigami, and it’s best to be sure. But I don’t doubt myself. I know what the recording will show me, the exact moment when the moon will turn red.

How long, I wonder, before you answer me? Not long, I think.

I think I’m looking forward to it. We have things to talk about, you and I.



(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kessie.livejournal.com
Oh. Oh. I am somewhat incoherent here, and I will reply to this again when I'm more awake, but this was amazing. I was picking up the hints of the twist as I went along, thinking, No, maybe I'm imagining this, but then I wasn't, and you wrote the twist so well. *_* Hisoka was brilliant, recognisable but with a harder edge than usual, and, wow, I just can't do anything else other than stare with wide eyes and a huge grin. Thank you so much for writing this!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 03:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-zeitgeist.livejournal.com
Thanks! I am so glad, and so relieved, that you're happy with it -- as Brigdh can tell you, I had all sorts of angst about whether I was doing horrible violence to your vision, and whether you were going to hate it. (You know how it is. Yes, the challenge is to take somebody else's work and make it your own, but, well, I worried, especially given the extent to which I was changing the dynamic between Tsuzuki and Hisoka.)

It was a strange and interesting piece to write (enough so that I'm probably going to go ramble on about it in the traditional after-Remix post). So I'm grateful not merely that you liked the story itself, but for the chance and the permission to play in your universe. And once more, I find myself thinking, Remix is the best challenge ever.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-24 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ranalore.livejournal.com
I love, love, love that twist. It's angry and dark, yes, but also elegant, that twisted symmetry. This is Hisoka grown beyond his anger, into something more calculating and dangerous. It's breathtaking.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 03:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-zeitgeist.livejournal.com
And as I am sure you already know, I am so happy, and so relieved, that you like this. In my perverse way, I am even happier and more relieved that you liked it without knowing it was me -- if you really didn't, and weren't only saying that to soothe my jangled nerves.

This Hisoka was interesting to me in that he's so much bleaker and colder than in other timestreams where I've found him. (Of course, I normally intervene sooner than post-Kyoto, which does have something to do with that.) And yet, this was one of those happy instances where the character practically took over and wrote the thing for himself: that's my Hisoka, all right, every bit as much as the Hisoka of "And Not Your Yellow Hair." So now, if I can block off the time and energy, I'm going to have to do the after-Remix navel-gazing post, and go on and on and on about why I keep dragging Muraki into the middle of relationships between Tsuzuki and Hisoka, and why despite Muraki's undoubted evilness my subconscious remains utterly convinced that this is a Good Thing.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-01 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ranalore.livejournal.com
If pressed, I might have guessed you, but I'm glad I wasn't pressed, because I might not have, as well. *G*

The original story really fascinated me for similar reasons: this is actually a scenario I'd usually find completely unbelievable, but there was something in the setup of the relationship that exactly fit those "very special case" circumstances one puts on such things, with the expectation nobody will ever fill them. "I could believe Hisoka as the sub in an abusive D/s relationship with Tsuzuki, if XYZ." Your addition of Muraki to the mix actually takes it one more step in that direction, for me. Hisoka playing the role as a way to understand what it is Muraki's done, what he himself is now capable of, how Tsuzuki factors into it. I still prefer the aggressive and dominant Hisoka of "And Not Your Yellow Hair," but this one is very compelling and logically drawn.

I really, really hope you do a Remix reflection post. I love to see the thought processes that go into these things (which is why I love the DVD commentary meme, actually, and wish more authors on my flist would do it for more stories).

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
I really love this story. Hisoka's characterization is so excellent and sharp, and it's a fascinating situation; Tsuzuki's needing Muraki as much as Hisoka makes perfect sense, but I adore how you use it here- it's so very dark, Hisoka's realization of that need, and of what it means for him. I particularly like the bits where Hisoka's thinking about whose desires are really in play, and the things he's realized from these nights. Excellent story.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-zeitgeist.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm strangely relieved to know that the messing around I did with it after you saw it didn't wind up wrecking whatever was there that worked. Any fool could see that the beta process is supposed to go, (i)write story; (ii) have story beta-read; (iii) post when beta signs off on it. As opposed to, (i) write story; (ii) have story beta-read; (iii) contemplate posting after beta signs off on it; (iv) mess around with story some more; (v) post story in fit of exasperation with it and self, without so much as asking beta to look at it to see whether the changes were a bad idea. But nooo, I have to be special.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
Not at all! I was trying to be obscure in the previous comment, to avoid giving away that I'd beta'd it, but I do adore the new parts. *laughs* Well, you might be special, but you're certainly not unique, because I've done the exact same thing. Though at least you have the excuse of a deadline and other stories to write; I usually develop paranoia along the lines of, "But I've already asked her to look at it once! Surely I couldn't bother my beta again just because I added a few paragraphs!"

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bladderwrack.livejournal.com

Your Hisoka is /fantastic/, and the way the story elements all fit together to make so much sense is -- uhn, I don't know how to put it, it's like, an exposition of his thought structures - logical, meticulously constructed, intense but one step detached. I wish YnM were like this more often.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-01 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-zeitgeist.livejournal.com
Thank you! It makes me completely happy to be told that what I think must be the characteristic tone of Hisoka's thought actually came through here. It's always struck me that if you had Hisoka's empathy, you'd almost have to learn to distance emotion to cope with the world at all: it would be too unreliable for you to be able to accept it uncritically. And when you add in his intelligence and his backstory, that thought process that has a flavor somewhere between a mathematical proof and a memorandum of law feels almost inevitable.

At least, to me; but my reading can be a little, shall we say, idiosyncratic. So it's a particular pleasure to know that it feels right to you, too.


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May 2007

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