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Ficlet: Never Look Back - Yaone, gen

Title: Never Look Back
Author: opalmatrix
Warnings: worksafe; angst and misery
Pairing(s): n/a
Spoilers: Yaone's history, through vol. 2
Notes: Challenge: Rebirth; time allowed for this challenge is 30 minutes.
Actual time: just under that. Written for meganbmoore and redbrunja. Spoilers for Yaone's history, through Saiyuki vol. 2. Concrit welcome....
Summary: When your past has already given you up, there's no point in clinging to it.

The guards were all around her, most armed with nothing more than their own gods-given claws, but that was more than enough. She remembered her parents' words as she pleaded with them that morning:

"We have no choice. Hyakugan-maoh's folk will destroy us all if we don't cooperate. We love you, but how can we sacrifice everyone in the town?"

"Father ... ! Mother, don't do this, don't let them! Don't! They say the women he takes can be months dying! Please ... ."

It was like a child's nightmare, as though her parents had been replaced with statues of stone. She had fallen to her knees, thrown her arms around her mother. Her father had pulled her off, held her still while his wife fled the room. But Yaone could hear her crying at last. She did care ... but she's not stopping this ... .

They couldn't. They still can't. No one can. Can I blame them for choosing my life over theirs?

She had cried until her nose and eyes had run dry, until she felt completely disgusting and ill. He father had dispassionately wiped off her face with warm, damp towels before handing her over. "Be strong," he had said.

Why? What is the point? A strong woman would only last longer and have to endure her captor's torments for weeks instead of days. Or maybe even months - merciful goddess, great Kannon, help me ...

There was no help. She moved as if in a dream. Do I look dignified? It's only terror ... I keep thinking this can't be real, but it is! I'm going to die, die horribly ... .

They had stopped on the edge of town. Someone was speaking quietly to the guards, and one of them was saying "... but her beauty caught the eye of Hyakugan-maoh."

Beauty. She remembered her father calling her "my pretty little blossom." She would have torn her own face to shreds if she'd known what it was going to buy her. She doubted that she looked beautiful now - but it was too late.

A man was gazing at her, a youkai. He was handsome, she thought distantly - not tall, but with a bright copper skin flushed with vitality, deep crimson hair, and dark eyes. She felt her burned-out eyes fill again: there was no point in admiring him, she was promised to her murderer's bed. He looked shocked - why? Everyone knew of Hyakugan-maoh's habits, and she was just the latest of a long line of sad victims.

"Forget your orders," he said to the guards. "I want her. How much?"

So I am dreaming ... this is a dream of escape, born of my delirium of terror.

But ... it continued. There was negotiation. He paid the guards. They went off, no doubt trying to figure how to square this with their king, He took her to an inn in the next village, and paid for separate rooms, and told her to rest in hers. She tried to thank him.

"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I didn't save you. Starting today, you work for me ... as my alchemist."

She took a deep breath. The air that came into her lungs was clear, and her head felt light - and empty. She deliberately put aside her memories - family, parents, childhood - as best she could. She had her life, her calling, and her lord. The past was only dust.

"Yes, Kougaigi-sama. I am your alchemist." Now and always.

 

Comments

( 19 comments — leave a comment )
meganbmoore
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
Well aaaaccccttttuuuuuaaalllllyyyyyy, my favorite is Kougaiji, though I 100% agree w/ Red that Yaone(and, for that matter, Lirin) is woefully underrepresented.

Very, very nice.
opalmatrix
Mar. 23rd, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)

> facepalm <

> tears hair <

It's not been a good evening sense-wise for cho-nee-chan, megan-san! But I'm glad you liked the story, anyway! (I have to get Kou some other time around here ... if I keep up here, I'll be doing one per week, which I think will be vry helpful. And you might like some of the rest of these, too ... there are some very good ones.)

meganbmoore
Mar. 23rd, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
*nods*

I joined so I can browse through it next week.
acantabloom
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
Kougaiji is so awesome! XD
I like how you show Yaone's despair, sense of betrayal, and then how that turns into determination. It's a very original choice for the rebirth prompt, and you make it work really well!
opalmatrix
Mar. 23rd, 2008 03:45 am (UTC)

As I said to meganb, I'll have to give Kou his own story sometime soon. I'm trying to get to understand Yaone a little better - it's odd, but she's not as easy for me as the boys, esp. Gojyo and Hakkai. But I'm glad you liked it!

(Deleted comment)
opalmatrix
Mar. 23rd, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)

I was trying to imagine how betrayed she must have felt - for a girl in that society to be that educated, she must have been very pampered by her parents, especially with having her father teach her so much pharmacy/alchemy. I'm glad you liked it!

freeradical9
Mar. 24th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
for a girl in that society to be that educated, she must have been very pampered by her parents

That's a really good point. I'd never really thought about it that way, but you're right. It makes her situation worse than Kanan's, in a way. Kanan was handed over by people who didn't think much of her anyway because she was an orphan and had no elders to speak for her. Yaone was handed over by people who loved her, and that must have been the worst kind of betrayal.
ginnyvos
Mar. 23rd, 2008 07:10 am (UTC)
This is very well done. I really like the insight in Yaone, she really is neglected isn't she? Than again, that goes for all of the Kougaji ikkou, sadly.
opalmatrix
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)

I'm so glad you liked it! I find her a bit hard to get into, personality-wise, so it's good that it worked for you.

(Deleted comment)
opalmatrix
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)

That was the thing that struck me the most, and yet what could they do? I find myself wondering about youkai tribal structures: had the Centipede tribe subjugated all the others in the area, and this was just one of the ways their King was extracting tribute and keeping the other tribes beaten down and off-balance? (I'm probably thinking too hard, here ... .)

(Deleted comment)
opalmatrix
Mar. 26th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)

No, definitely not nice - I guess they could have tried to flee. We never find out whether she had siblings - it would make more sense if they had other kids, given the Devil's bargains parents in the past sometimes had to make to ensure the survival of the majority of the family.

You know what's interesting - Hyakugan-maoh apparently asked for her specifically, but when it was Kannan, he must have just asked for "a girl," which would have opened the possibility of a volunteer (but apparently there wasn't one - not too surprising, given the king's habits). There's also the issue of why Kannan wasn't dead - he wanted the child? Surely at some other other point, one of the other victims must have become pregnant? (Again, thinking too hard!)

jedishampoo
Mar. 23rd, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
What kispexi2 said about her parents-- that was heartbreaking, her vision of them turned to stone and unable/unwilling to help. Like a nightmare. And this was great: She would have torn her own face to shreds if she'd known what it was going to buy her.

Very nicely done!
opalmatrix
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)

I'm glad you liked it ... it got kind of rushed, at the end there, I think!

freeradical9
Mar. 24th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this fic. I happen to like Yaone a lot, and it was nice to see a story that fleshed out this major turning point in her life. My very favorite part, though, was that very first glimpse of Kougaiji and Yaone's reaction to it. Looking at the manga images, it really fits. Really lovely work!
opalmatrix
Mar. 26th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)

Oho, I didn't realize you were a fan of hers! That actually helps ... I don't know why, but it does. (Somehow, it's something like "the kind of people who like the character give me another handle on the character.") I'm extra glad the story worked for you, then!

redbrunja
Apr. 3rd, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
I loved this, and was bragging about it at Sakura Con.

The tag line is awesome, and sums up so much of her relationships. My favorite is her father washing off her face, it's such a loving gesture, yet it's so warped by the implications.

What's great about this is you totally show how Yaone could become so devoted to Kougaiji - it's clear why she would in the manga/anime, of course, but this just reinforces this so delightufully.
opalmatrix
Apr. 14th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)

I'm so glad you liked it (and sorry it's taken me this long to respond to you ... it's been a little nutty lately). Yes, I think her parents still loved her, but they were conventional people who felt trapped by their community's expectations and the power of the conquerer. And I was very taken by the picture of her in the manga, looking up disoriented and disbelieving as Kougaiji starts talking to the guards. (I sometimes wonder what happened to those guys when they got back without her ... or maybe they just ran off.)

redbrunja
Apr. 14th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
Not a problem.

*nods* Yep, her parents not seeing away way out was abundantly clear. I like how they all feel very human - you can sort-of see how someone could make that choice, and it ties in nicely with what happens to Kanan later.

(And I can only hope that the guards ended up dying horribly.)
purpleicicles
May. 28th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Great job of filling in what we didn't see in the manga! Makes me feel even more sorry for Yaone and love Kou even more! Well done!
( 19 comments — leave a comment )

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