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27 July 2008 @ 01:20 am
[Fic] "The Transient and the Eternal: Fluffy things" -- Angel Sanctuary  
I'm doing thirtyforthree again, this time for Kira Sakuya/Mudo Setsuna/Mudo Sara from Kaori Yuki's Angel Sanctuary. There will be spoilers in nearly every theme -- given the characters, it's nearly impossible to avoid them! -- and a lot of potentially objectionable content. This is because the source manga has a lot of potentially objectionable content. If incest squicks you, or you know you'll be bothered by some extremely strange and often negative interpretations of Judeo-Christian theology, you probably won't want to read any of these stories.

With that said...

Theme: #27 - Fluffy things
Warnings: spoilers!
Notes: This ficlet is set post-manga -- in 2008, actually -- with all the attendant spoilers.

For the curious, the mortal post-manga timeline goes Remembering, Hidden, Surprise, Talking over distance, "Snowfall," "Looking," "Dreaming," Fluffy things, "Clouds," "Babies," and "If only." This story is fairly heavy on internal continuity -- it references the Sailor Pluto joke from "Surprise," Sara and Setsuna's conversation from "Hidden," and, of course, Kira and Setsuna's 'experiment' from Kisses, a mortal pre-manga ficlet.

Belial is referred to as Mad Hatter, and 'he,' since that's how Setsuna first met hir. (There's another reason as well, but that explanation is for another ficlet. *grin*)

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The Transient and the Eternal: Fluffy things
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Tendo Setsuna and his wife Sara moved into an apartment complex in Nagasaki with as little fanfare as possible. Neighbors were somewhat taken aback by their friends -- a tall, dark man with a tattoo over his eye; a peculiarly androgynous person with face paint, flaming red hair, and an extravagant top hat; and a cute young woman with prematurely silver hair and cat-pupiled contact lenses -- but Setsuna explained that they were part of the Tokyo punk rock scene, which he had also belonged to in the past, and weren't likely to visit often.

"At least not if they have half the sense I think they do," he added over his shoulder to the people in question.

"Fine, whatever -- but you'd better visit us instead!" Kurai shot back as she carried a box labeled 'kitchen stuff' toward the elevator.

Setsuna gamely turned a pained grimace into a polite smile as he turned back to his new neighbors. "You see? I promise they won't be any trouble. Sara and I moved away from Tokyo to avoid some family problems -- I was a bit wild in school, so her mother never approved of me, and she caused some trouble with my employer. We're not looking for any more excitement, just peace and quiet and a chance to start over in a good neighborhood."

"Oh, the curse of the crazy mother-in-law," a solidly-built man said with a wink. "That reminds me of my own relatives. Welcome to Nagasaki, Tendo-san. If you want to get a good feel for the building, there's a tenants' association meeting next week; I'll drop by with more information tomorrow. I'm Harada Daisuke."

"Thank you," Setsuna said. He bowed, shook hands all around, and fled to help finish the unpacking.

"If I might inquire, how did you explain us to your neighbors?" Mad Hatter asked several hours later after most of the furniture had been arranged to Sara's satisfaction. Kurai was sprawled belly-down on the new couch, half asleep; Hatter perched on the sofa arm by her feet, sipping a glass of red wine that had mysteriously appeared from thin air.

"I told them that you were punk rock fans and I was crazy in high school," Setsuna said dryly. "Maybe I should have added masochistic to that."

Hatter tipped his head and swirled the burgundy liquid in his glass. "Mmm. One does have to be a bit unbalanced to challenge the forces of heaven and the creator of the universe. Of course, victory lends a superficial aura of rationality to things after the fact." He smiled.

"Belial, sheathe your claws," Lucifer said, emerging from the kitchen with a bottle of water and three cans of beer. He threw one to Setsuna and pressed a second against the back of Kurai's neck.

"Cold!" Kurai squealed, jerking upright and slapping at Lucifer's arm. "Don't do that!"

"Think of it as cheap climate control," Lucifer said, tossing the water bottle into her lap. "Where's Sara?"

Setsuna checked his watch. "She ducked out while we were putting the bed frame together -- about half an hour ago, now. She said she wanted to check the walking time to the local shops and get a feel for the neighborhood, but I'm pretty sure she was lying." He shrugged. "She'll be back. In the meantime, who wants what kind of takeout for lunch?"

This sparked a minor skirmish between Hatter and Kurai over the relative virtues of udon and okonomiyaki. Setsuna traded a wry look with Lucifer -- it was hard to believe those two were thousands of years old and among the most powerful figures in hell's hierarchy. Of course, he probably wouldn't be any better in their place. What was the point of living forever if you couldn't have fun with it?

"Hey!" he said, clapping his hands to interrupt the argument. "It's my apartment. If you guys can't agree, I get to choose the menu. I vote for that hamburger place around the corner."

Kurai made a gagging gesture -- "Hamburgers are a waste of perfectly good meat, and who wants to eat charcoal anyway?" she said -- but Setsuna pried orders out of the three demons without much trouble and escaped into the hallway.

"It's my damn apartment," he muttered as he hurried down six flights of stairs. "Why am I the one who has to get the food?" It was a rhetorical question. He had to go because Kurai would get distracted, Hatter would start trouble for the fun of it, and there was no way he was going to sit in the same room as those two without Lucifer there to keep them under control -- they tended to forget about things like discretion and common sense when they got into arguments, and he couldn't survive stepping between them once they started throwing spells around.

Setsuna pushed open the door to the street and stopped dead.

"What are you carrying?"

Sara attempted to look innocent. "A cat." The small bundle of off-white fur shifted in her arms, narrowed its green-gold eyes at Setsuna, and hissed.

His hand tightened on the door handle. "A cat."

"That's what I said. Are you going to let me inside?" Sara ventured a smile, coupled with a sheen of potential tears in her eyes.

"You know what?" Setsuna said as he grabbed Sara's shoulder and stepped through the doorway. "I'm not. You're going to come with me while I get takeout, and you're going to explain why you have a cat." He didn't dare look sideways; he was still a sucker for Sara's puppy-dog eyes, and he wanted to make a point before he inevitably gave in.

"I have a cat because it's our new pet," Sara said as he steered her along the street. "That should be obvious. I don't see why you're objecting. You don't mind cats, and we finally have enough space and money to keep a pet, so..." She shrugged. The cat clawed at her sleeve.

Setsuna threw up his hands. "I'm not objecting. I just want an explanation. Just once in my life, I'd like people to tell me beforehand when they decide to make drastic changes. I'd like to have people ask my opinion. Is that too hard for all of you?" He wrapped iron bands around his heart -- they wouldn't hold long, not against Sara, but all he needed was a minute -- and turned to face her again.

Fortunately, Sara looked sheepish, not hurt. "I'm sorry, Setsuna," she said as she shifted the cat in the crook of her arms. "I meant to ask you first, but this was the last kitten in the shop, and there was a terrible old woman -- like a bundle of sticks and barbed wire -- who was talking to the owner about how she needed a cat today because her ex-husband was visiting and he's allergic, and she hoped he'd choke and die. So I had to buy the cat. I couldn't leave the poor thing to a person like that! You understand, right?"

She met Setsuna's eyes with her most earnest stare, the one that really shouldn't have worked for any woman out of her teens, but that never failed to dance up and down Setsuna's heartstrings with steel-toed boots.

He sighed. So much for iron bands.

"Yeah, okay, I understand. We have a cat. Fine. We also have three demons waiting for me to get takeout. Tell me what you want so we can get back before Kurai and Hatter blow up our new apartment."

"You're the best!" Sara said, and smiled up at him. "And I bet you forgot your wallet and your phone again," -- Setsuna hastily checked his pockets, and realized she was right -- "so you take the cat while I get the food."

She dumped the kitten into his arms.

The cat yowled, squirmed, and dug its claws into his shoulder. Grimly, Setsuna hung on. "I think you and that old lady would've deserved each other," he muttered, trying to trap its paws in a harmless position.

The cat bit his thumb.

Fifteen minutes later, several shallow wounds richer, and the price of two hamburgers, three cheeseburgers, one tossed salad, and three chocolate milkshakes poorer, Setsuna and Sara ventured back into their new apartment. Mad Hatter and Kurai were busy hooking up Setsuna's computer and bickering about the relative merits of Warcraft and Second Life, while Lucifer shelved Sara's rather schizophrenic collection of classic literature and girly manga.

"Aw, look at the cute little demons, being all domestic," Setsuna said to Sara as he set the bags on the kitchen counter and started taking out the sandwiches. "Don't you just want to hug them and kiss them and--"

"Finish that sentence and someone bleeds," Kurai snapped, and Hatter tipped back his head in raucous laughter. "You shut up, too," Kurai told him, and stomped over to grab her cheeseburger.

"The third milkshake is for you, Kurai," Sara said as she searched one-handed through the cupboards. The cat hissed when she adjusted its legs. "Where did you put the cheap plastic bowls? I want to cut up the extra hamburger and feed the cat."

Hatter and Kurai stopped halfway through unwrapping their sandwiches and blinked. "Since when do you have a cat?" Kurai ventured after a moment.

"Since now, apparently," Lucifer said, hoisting the kitten from Sara's arms. He held it at arm's length, letting its legs dangle awkwardly in midair.

Setsuna waited for the beast to attack.

It purred.

"Female," Lucifer announced after a moment's study. "Have you named her?" He tucked his left arm under the cat's hind legs and let it rest on his shoulder. Improbably, it purred louder, snuggling against his coat.

"No, but I thought Yuki might be nice, because of the white hair," Sara said as she sprinkled ginger dressing on her salad.

"Abominable Snow Beast would be more accurate," Setsuna muttered, jabbing a straw into his milkshake. The cat was a demon in disguise, obviously. There was no other reason for it to pick Lucifer over both him and Sara.

Lucifer glanced at the still-oozing scratches on Setsuna's hands and wrists. "Snow can be deadly as well as beautiful, Setsuna, but I'm sure you and Yuki will learn to get along. In the meantime, you should take care of those scratches. Cats' claws can carry diseases."

"Perfect," Setsuna grumbled. "Anyone know where the hydrogen peroxide got to?"

"The bathroom, obviously," said Sara. "I'm not sure about the large bandages, though. Can you manage with just band-aids?"

Lucifer caught Setsuna's right hand in his own and prodded lightly at the bite marks on his thumb. "I suspect band-aids will be fine, Sara, so long as you go with him and kiss everything better. It makes cuts heal faster... or so I've always heard." He raised one eyebrow at Setsuna. "Did you ever prove that one way or the other?"

Setsuna blinked, racked his memory for what Lucifer might be referring to, and then yanked his hand back in sudden, scorching embarrassment. The ghostly sensation of Kira's lips on his knuckles burned, and the mocking grin lurking behind Lucifer's eyes was exactly the same now as then. "No! No, I didn't. That never happened and if you ever bring it up again, I'll kill you."

"Changing the timeline, are we?" Hatter murmured, sliding up behind Setsuna and draping his arms over Setsuna's shoulders. "Isn't that an abuse of your position, Meioh-san? What would Queen Serenity say?"

"It's Tendo now, not Meioh -- that joke doesn't work anymore," Setsuna growled. "Right, Sara?"

Sara looked from him to Mad Hatter (who smirked), to Kurai (who shrugged, obviously lost), to Lucifer (who stared back impassively and scratched the cat behind its ears), and back to Setsuna. Her eyes narrowed.

"You owe me an explanation," she said.

Setsuna glared at Lucifer. "It's not my fault."

"You still owe me an explanation," Sara insisted.

Inspiration struck. "Well, you owe me for getting a cat without telling me first! So we're even, and I have to go wash my hands. If you're really curious, ask Lucifer." Setsuna ducked out from under Hatter's arms, dropped a kiss on Sara's cheek, and slammed the bathroom door behind himself. A brilliant escape!

Of course, Lucifer might actually explain. And while Sara might laugh the whole thing off, she might equally well decide to be retroactively angry that he'd never told her about that weird moment of tension between him and Kira.

On the other hand, she'd said that she didn't mind if he loved Kira too...

"Argh." Setsuna banged his head on the sink, gently, and let the chill of the porcelain seep into his skin. Then he washed his hands, dabbed at them with hydrogen peroxide, and stuck a band-aid on his thumb. A few of the deeper scratches still oozed a bit, but they'd scab over soon enough.

He shoved the hydrogen peroxide back into the medicine cabinet and stared at himself in the mirror. "You're a complete idiot," he told his reflection. "You know they love you, even if I'll never in a million years figure out why I got so lucky." And if Sara -- or, be honest, even Lucifer -- wanted to kiss his hands better... he'd be utterly goopy inside.

And hideously embarrassed, of course, but nobody ever said love solved all your problems.

"So go out and face the teasing like a man," Setsuna told his reflection. "You're twenty-five years old. You're married. You're going to be a foreman at the new construction firm. It's way past time to grow up."

He offered his reflection a careless salute and ventured back into the main apartment. Kurai and Mad Hatter had reclaimed the sofa, leaving Sara in an armchair and Lucifer leaning against the kitchen doorframe, the white kitten cradled incongruously in his arms.

"The valiant hero returns!" Mad Hatter called, raising his wine glass in mocking tribute. "How fare your deathly wounds?"

Setsuna grinned, shrugged, and grabbed his cheeseburger from the coffee table. "Much less dire than they seemed, but thanks for your concern. Would you have mourned terribly if I'd died?" He sat on the arm of Sara's chair; she rested her head against his side.

Hatter tilted his head, considering. "No. You're fun, but all in all, I preferred Alexiel. I just love pretty girls!" He smiled, red lips over sharp teeth. Beside him, Kurai twitched.

Lucifer's hand fell heavily on Hatter's shoulder, his face unreadable. "Belial. Mind your manners." The cat hissed, swiping a needle-tipped paw through Hatter's scarlet hair.

"First you won't let me kiss him, now you won't even let me tease? So cruel!" Mad Hatter twisted, pouting, to face Lucifer, and slid his top hat melodramatically over his heart. "My lord, I claim recompense."

"Do I want to know?" Setsuna muttered to Sara, as Kurai began yelling at Hatter and Lucifer alike.

She hid her smile behind an open hand. "Lucifer explained your old experiment. Hatter volunteered to try it again, but Kurai said she was missing the point -- Hatter doesn't love you, so even if there is an effect, Hatter's kisses wouldn't have it. Then Lucifer said Hatter wasn't allowed to kiss you anyway."

"And what did you say?" Setsuna asked. "I'm your husband, you know."

Sara's smile widened and a hint of laughter threaded into her voice. "I'm not reckless enough to stand between the king of hell and his right hand man. That's your job. I'll just take Hatter aside later and set things straight."

Her laughter had shaded to ice, though her smile never changed.

Setsuna pictured Sara confronting Mad Hatter -- a human woman against a lord of hell -- and felt abruptly sorry for the demon. He loved Sara more than life, but when she lost her temper, she was terrifying. Magnificent, true, but best appreciated from a safe distance.

"Were you thinking a carving knife? Magic? Or just words?" he asked, combing his fingers through the waves of her hair. "You know he doesn't mean anything by it... I think."

"Yes, he does," Sara said, serenely. "But I won't touch him or give him orders -- that's infringing on Lucifer's rights, remember?" She tilted her head toward their old friend, who was ignoring Kurai and Hatter's argument in favor of calming the writhing cat. "I have a much better idea. I'll set Yuki on him instead."

Lucifer's hands stilled, as if he'd heard her even across the room and over the bickering demons. Slowly, he raised one eyebrow and tilted his head, as if to say, Well, Setsuna? Should I? He extended one arm over Hatter, ready to drop the cat.

Setsuna leaned down to kiss Sara's temple, and nodded. Yeah.

As Hatter and Kurai scrambled apart in a flurry of yelps and hisses, he thought he might grow to like the cat after all.

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End

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These past few weeks, I've been teetering on the edge of a blue funk. I know how to head them off these days -- no more lost weeks for me! -- but it does mean that my sleep schedule goes all to hell. I start looking for something meaningful to latch onto, something to do. I know that creating something -- writing something, making something new -- is one of the best ways to drag myself back up, but I feel empty and flat and dull, and listless, and it's so hard to make the words come.

I've been reading a lot instead, mostly Highlander fanfiction -- I've noticed that I have a tendency to fall into obsessive behavior when I'm trying to avoid a funk (or when I gave in to a funk, in the old days), and I think it's part of that same scrabble to find a handhold and climb back out of my own head.

...

Bah.

I took a long walk this evening, which is another way I keep myself from falling. I went to Ithaca Falls and watched the water for a while. One reason I love living in Ithaca and do not want to move is that I don't know many other places with such easy access to running water and waterfalls, and I find running water immensely soothing and uplifting. Even in the depths of a funk, I could usually find an hour or two of peace and connection after spending ten to thirty minutes just watching a waterfall.

It's the easiest meditation exercise I know of.
 
 
Current Location: home
Current Mood: listlesslistless
 
 
 
Unknown Hypothetical Alien Species-Otherkin!lanoyee on July 27th, 2008 09:55 am (UTC)
This is undoubtedly the best thing ever to wake up to. Thank you for writing another story for this series. ♥ Loved it as always. Especially Lucifer with a kitten, of course. Makes me want to fanart it. Reminds me oddly of that instance with the dragon in the manga. But, well, the whole interactions are just lovable and cuddly and I want to hug them all.

And I hope you get better soon. ♥ Shoo, funk, shoo.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: ice cream sundaeedenfalling on July 27th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

The second I saw this theme in the context of this pairing, I knew I had to put Lucifer together with a small fuzzy animal of some sort. A cat just seemed slightly more plausible than, say, a dog or a rabbit. :-)
Unknown Hypothetical Alien Species-Otherkin!: awaylanoyee on July 27th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think so, too. Haven't cats been thought to be demonic or magical animals in the past, anyway?
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on July 28th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
Yes. Cats have been worshipped as semi-divine creatures, and killed as craetures of the devil, depending on the culture and the time period. I think they tend to get an otherworldly reputation because they're so much more aloof and independent than other domesticated animals.
Asuka Kureruaskerian on July 27th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
The cute, it kills me. Also d'awww handkissies.

Bwahahaha cat as weapon. ♥
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on July 27th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
Annoyed cats are kind of scary even when they're not falling unexpectedly on your head. :-)