|volte_face (volte_face) wrote in het_challenge,|
@ 2008-08-30 16:18:00
|Entry tags:||a: volte_face, f: mononoke, r: promptbuilding|
Mononoke, Medicine Seller/Kayo, "A Life in Ink"
Title: A Life in Ink
Pairing: Medicine Seller/Kayo
30. Body calligraphy/painting
77. it's like love, only not
Warnings: I have an inability to be sexy for more than two paragraphs at a time
The ink stone was hard and cold atop her bare shoulder. It pressed and lifted as the medicine seller steadily rubbed the ink stick back and forth, back and forth. Kayo settled her head into the crook of her arm; if she strained, she could just barely see the line of his cheek, the dark curve of his lowered lashes beneath a spray of hair.
“Hold still,” he said quietly, the pace of his work never changing. She hmphed and turned her face back into the pile of pillows.
“If you ruin my reputation and make it so I can never marry, I will never forgive you,” she grumbled to an embroidered flower.
“Is that so?” the medicine seller said. “And if the mononoke ruins it first?”
Kayo gasped. The medicine seller’s rhythm broke—light, quick strokes tickling her shoulder—and she realized that he was laughing at her. “It’s not funny.”
“Of course not,” the medicine seller soothed. He paused in his work. Kayo heard the soft clatter of the ink block knocking against the tray of brushes.
“Your arm,” he said, lowering her kimono so she could slip her arm free of its sleeve. He guided her hand until her arm was stretched out straight, wrist resting on a pillow. Kayo felt vaguely like a princess.
He ran his hands down her arm, smoothing the skin until she no longer jumped at his touch. She turned and admired the way his pale hands looked against her dark skin, the way his rings flashed, the rose trails left by the press of his orchid’s heart nails.
He lifted a brush, inspected it carefully, and rolled it in the ink. He pressed it to her skin, deftly tracing characters down her arm. Kayo went cross-eyed trying to read it.
“What does it say? Is it some kind of protection sutra?” Kayo asked.
“The cherry tree’s limbs jealousy guard its buds against the storm, but yield its fruit to the gentlest pressure of a questing hand,” the medicine seller recited.
Kayo blushed. “What does that mean?”
“Mononoke are simple,” the medicine seller said, rolling the brush in the ink. “There are those who understand that arms may give, and others that arms may guard, but few understand that arms may do both.”
“So now the mononoke will look like me, only without arms?” Kayo seemed horrified.
The medicine seller pressed the end of his brush to his lower lip. “Who knows?” He pulled gently on her kimono, bright silk slipping across her smooth back.
“Be still,” he said, but she still twitched at the first touch of cold ink on her overheated skin. “Shhh...” he whispered. His free hand thumbed against her side, tracing her ribs in a way that was both soothing and caused the heat to pool in her stomach. The brush worked its way down her skin, pausing slightly between each character; her breath caught in her throat every time the brush lifted, anticipating and dreading and wondering when and where it would land next.
The medicine seller leaned back, giving a slightly pleased “hm.”
“What does it say?” Kayo asked, flushed and breathless.
“The hard cliff’s face grows warm and red under the gaze of the morning sun,” the medicine seller said impassively, and Kayo’s blush grew deeper.
“That’s not true!” Kayo squealed, squirming nearly enough to knock the inkstone from her shoulder.
“It is charming,” the medicine seller said, and shifted her robe until she was bare from her nape to the back of her knee. “Some might say,” he added.
“I am never. Ever. Getting married,” Kayo groaned. “If that thing with my face doesn’t make Shinji hate me, this--“
“Hush,” the medicine seller said. “This is the last of it.”
He rolled the brush in the ink again. Slowly, but without hesitation, he wrote his poetry down the canvas of her skin. The brush touched the small of her back and chills raced a track up her spine to pool and swirl at the base of her neck. She bit her lip to keep from shivering and ruining the medicine seller’s calligraphy.
The poetry traveled over the smooth curve of her buttock, and she bit her lip harder, imagining how his eyes must be focusing on her right there. She could see it, him and his pale, unreadable eyes and his funny, painted smile and all that otherworldly power focused just on her, right there.
He worked his way to the top of her thigh, and she thought, if he touches me there I’m going to die, and if he doesn’t touch me there I’m really going to die. He dotted the final character on the curve of her inner thigh, the heat from his hands brushing too close to where she wanted them, and she cried out.
“It’s done,” the medicine seller said, setting his brush back on the tray. He leaned over Kayo, retrieving the inkstone from her shoulder.
“What does it say?” Kayo asked.
The medicine seller leaned in close, his breath tickling the back of her neck, and whispered, “That’s a secret.” She shivered despite herself.
“Hey!” she yelled a moment later. “That’s not fair! You can’t just do that and not say anything!”
“Lie still until it dries,” the medicine seller said, carefully cleaning and storing his tools.
“Ohhh,” she moaned. She looked up at him with big, teary eyes. “You’ll promise to marry me after this, won’t you?”
The medicine seller froze. “...what?”
He had the same blank look of panic Shinji always got whenever she mentioned her parents. Kayo nearly giggled. “Since you’re the horrible beast who has stolen my virtue, after all. It’s only fair.”
The medicine seller went back to packing his tools. “Kayo. You wish to have children one day?” he asked.
“Yes?” She blinked her eyes.
“Then you would not be happy marrying me,” he said, and stood up, hoisting his medicine box to his back.
“What?” Kayo said. Then, “Oh!” Then, “Ohhhh...” Then, “Wait. What?”
The medicine seller smiled, though perhaps that was just the way the light hit his painted lips. “Take care, Kayo,” he said, and left, leaving her alone with the prickle of drying paint.