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House of Five Leaves Fic: Not Simple

Pairing: Heiza/Yaichi (forever writing pairings no one knows or cares about)
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,416

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Heiza - who delights in the company of women and who gambles and who drinks too much -, wakes up late in the day and usually with a headache. He is good with a sword, but - as with many things - he lacks the passion for it, and so he has come to know that it's a simple thing: drinking with strangers. Drinking with Yaichi must be equally so. He doesn't think twice about it, and no one in his own household questions it (or not to his face). 'Heizasama does what he cares to do,' and that is the long and short of it. But he is wrong on at least one account: it is not simple to drink with Yaichi. For example, Yaichi is busy during the day when Heiza has nothing better to do (or responsibilities in want of avoiding), and for example Yaichi drinks much less than the company Heiza is used to - he pours sake and happily fills Heiza's cup when he wants another, but Yaichi sips sparingly and for the first time in a long time, Heiza feels a complicated twinge of something like guilt. It is not the kind guilty that he is aware of, the kind of guilt where men make conscious decisions to change their bad habits, but sometimes instead of the gabling houses or roaming the streets Heiza wastes his afternoons in the shade of Saegusa's maple tree.

Seinoshin is handy enough with his wooden practice sword. He is a serious boy and holds his sword in the same way he does himself: quiet and straight, though shy. Heiza often knocks the practice sword out of his hand. Does it often enough until Seinoshin's grip becomes competent. There's a pleasure in it: Yaichi makes them tea and sits in the shade, one foot tucked beneath his knee and his back very straight. The crack of the wooden swords in loud in the yard. Sei does something particularly good, and Heiza yields accordingly. The boy drops his stance immediately and looks to Yaichi for approval, who smiles. Heiza follows the exchange, pleased with himself - more pleased when Yaichi's soft eyes slide from Sei to him. It is not simple - though it takes Heiza a long time to recognize the difference.

He realizes it some evening as Yaichi shows him out the gate. It is a bright night, the moon full overhead, and Yaichi doesn't bring a lantern. Heiza feels in the shadows for the latch of the gate, his fingers a little clumsy. He finds it already strangely loose, but struggles until Yaichi makes a low pleasant noise and reaches to help him. Heiza's fingers bump against his wrist and knuckles. 'Heizasama does what he cares to do': it should be easy to make his interest known (though Yaichi likely knows already), but he declines the urge and reminds himself there will be more opportune moments when he is feeling more competent with hands and his tongue.

"I think that latch is broken," he says instead, stepping into the street.

Yaichi pays it no mind. He tells Heiza "I know," which is satisfactory in every way. After a brief hesitation, they part ways in the darkness.

Early in the morning Heiza is roused by a nervous servant. Heiza bites back telling him off, only because the he says very quickly and with some confusion "There is a man from with a message from Saegusa who wishes to speak with you." Heiza grudgingly tells him to show the man in and gets dressed in the time it takes from the servant to bring him back. Yaichi is pale and his mouth drawn. Heiza tells the servant to bring tea. The door slides shut.

"Is there something wrong?"

Yaichi is looking at some point beyond his shoulder. "Seinoshin-sama died in the night."

There is no reason to visit Seagusa's home during the day. Yaichi has work to be done during the day and there is no other pretense, but Heiza does anyway - once, very soon after after the death becomes known publicly by one route or another. He goes with his father and brothers and they politely give their condolences. Heiza expects it to be sober and for the house to feel dark and empty, but there is little that is different. The master of the house is cordial. He accepts their sympathy formally, but does little else. On their way out they pass near the yard with the maple tree, and it is simply that: a yard, not a tomb. There is laughter from girls in some unseen hallway, behind some wall or door. Somewhere, there is washing being done and the smell of cooking. Heiza touches his head. His brother asks if he's feeling well. "You spent time with the boy, didn't you? If you feel sick, we'll get a doctor."

"I'm fine."

In the evening he waits in the street like some tomcat lurking in the darkness, tired and sober and in need of a warm drink. When Yaichi finds him, he asks mildly: "Did you win any money tonight?" and Heiza lies "Yes," even though he hasn't been to the gambling houses.

Yaichi has tea made and to be polite (and because it is warm), Heiza drinks a cup before he produces the sake that he brought for the occasion. Yaichi obliges. He finds the glasses and they sit in relative silence, Heiza's arm draped across his knee and his elbow locked open, Yaichi with one leg drawn up to his hollowed chest.

"Seagusa is disgustingly composed," Heiza says.

"Heiza--" Yaichi protests, but mildly. His voice is tired and his mouth and eyes are tight.

"He never seemed sickly," Heiza says, which is met with silence. He looks to Yaichi, finds him contemplating the rim of his sake cup. He takes it as a signal, and changes the subject, deviates sharply and without tact. He asks instead, "Have you been kept busy?"

Yaichi huffs with laughter, an empty quiet sound. He sips the sake and puts the empty cup aside. "Enough," he answers, and clumsily presses the heel of his hand to his temple, to his eye. He makes a sudden choked noise, clears his throat. He says, "Forgive me," and starts to rise.

Heiza catches him by the wrist, by the elbow. He nearly knocks over the sake bottle in the process, but ignores the clink of glass and the rasp of his knee on the tatami. He draws Yaichi's hand down from his face. And he reels him in with rare patience, though Yaichi can't look at him and keeps his head bowed while his breathing rattles and skips. Heiza touches the back of Yaichi's neck while he draws the man's hand to his mouth. He breathes hot on Yaichi's knuckles, kisses his palm and sucks tenderly at the line of his thumb - takes his thumb into his mouth and nips with his teeth until Yaichi stills, until he settles under the weight of Heiza's fingers at his neck.

He makes a sound, a low tired laugh at himself. Heiza lets him pull his hand away though doesn't release his wrist. Yaichi doesn't stray further, but turns his face to Heiza and murmurs near his shoulder: "You're a strange man." Yaichi's skin beneath his collar is warmer than any drink, and he makes a soft noises under Heiza's mouth.

There is no messenger from Saegusa's house to warn him. He learns of it because of some talk on the street - a servant from a vassal's house, a man named Yaichi, fell into a well during the night and it took some engineering to recover the body when it was discovered in the morning. Heiza goes directly to Saegusa and asks what is to be done with him. He had no family. Saegusa is under no obligation.

"Release him to me," Heiza asks without thinking. "I will make the arrangements."

Saegusa studies him, suspicious. His wife, who is sitting nearby with her hair pinned and a pipe in her hand does not look at Heiza. She smokes quietly, gazing out into the cold yard.

Saegusa agrees because he has no reason not to, and Heiza goes to his father who is startled and wary when Heiza kneels before him -- presses his forehead to his knuckles and asks for the money with which to bury someone.

Comments

nekosamuraiyaoi
Dec. 29th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a great backstory for Heiza and Yaichi. Everything makes more sense too as for how Yaichi has a grave when he was only a servant with no family.

Besides some grammar errors and sentence constructions, I love how the story is written.
prosodi
Dec. 29th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes - grammar is by no means my strong point. ORZ But thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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