|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote in no_true_pair,|
@ 2008-06-01 00:04:00
|Entry tags:||! 2008 twelve characters challenge, author: chibirisuchan, crossover: bleach/vagrant story, pairing: sydney/yoruichi|
VS/Bleach, Yoruichi & Sydney, "Lost and Found"
well, it's 12:04 a.m. here! XD
Title: Lost and Found
Fandom: Bleach and Vagrant Story (with a cameo from another series)
Pairing/characters: Yoruichi, Sydney, and, er, someone else
Warnings: Yoruichi's attitude toward clothing
Prompt/challenge you're answering: "Yoruichi and Sydney with the title, 'Lost and Found.'"
By the fourth or fifth time the cat had twined itself through his ankles and then trotted away and yowled her impatience at him, Sydney turned the other direction simply for the amusement value. She heaved an enormous sigh, trotted back over, and shoved her face against his ankle hard, making a noise caught somewhere between a roar and a warble. Then she took a half-step back and looked up at him with the most pathetically heartbreaking little mew he'd ever heard.
"You're not fooling me, my lady," he said mildly, and crouched on his heels to be closer to the cat's eye level. "Why don't you simply admit that this would go much faster if you try honesty, not to mention conversation, instead?"
The cat shoved her head hard against his knee, then turned her back on him and sat down in the road with a huff. The other shoppers in the marketplace saw nothing out of place -- a fair-haired young man holding an amusedly one-sided conversation with a stray begging for scraps, nothing more. He stroked the back of his hand lightly over her fur, and said, "Yes, it's quite a charming facade, but I of all people am not one to be taken in by shapechanging."
The cat looked up over her shoulder at him, eyes narrowed, and bit at his hand -- the scratch of fangs on steel rang clearer than he'd have liked, despite the illusion of flesh that he wore to avoid the stares and whispers of the marketgoers. Sydney narrowed his eyes right back at her.
"Uncanny as the resemblance may be, you are not my Goddess. A mere handful of centuries? You're not nearly old enough. And I'm more than tired of being coaxed into mage-wrought traps baited by something innocent-looking. Let me see why it is you're so determined to lure me away. Let me see your soul, not your seeming."
Behind the golden eyes, underneath the cat-thoughts of stretching and tail-flicks and sunbeams, there was an exasperated goddess -- dark-haired, dark-skinned, as vivid as his own Lady but still not his,and so there was no compulsion she could bind him with.
She was naked in her own mind, and if she expected the sight of her physical graces to rattle him, Sydney thought wryly, then she was due for a few more surprises.
Where am I supposed to put clothes under the fur? she said, rolling eyes that were just as vivid a gold as the cat's. And since you're walking around cloaked in demon-art, I doubt you want the entire marketplace to come to a screaming stop while they stare at us either.
Granted, Sydney replied with a slight bow. But if you came in search of the Rood-bearer of Lea Monde, with power enough to see through my illusion of humanity, then surely you knew that this would be a much more discreet way to hold the conversation.
Her quick, sharp laugh was half a cat-sneeze. I don't know anything about roodbearers, she replied, and it rang true in her soul. All I know is that your little brother misses you, and that he's nice to cats.
Joshua? Sydney asked, startled. Joshua's here? In this world?
He didn't mention his name, Yoruichi said, with a shrug that should have ended with a flip of a tail. But the description he gave the fishmonger was pretty unmistakable. A slightly-built young man with hair as golden as his own, steel-handed, with a black sigil like an ornate cross on his back -- what are the chances there would be two of you wandering around? And no wonder the poor boy couldn't find you, if you wear that piece of demon-art all the time.
I wear the 'demon-art' so that those who would like to steal it from my very flesh are less likely to find me and skin me alive again, Sydney replied acerbically, even as the less-controlled part of his mind spun through ah hells, of course Joshua couldn't see through the glamour-- but it's too convenient that he didn't give his name. Any fair-haired young man could have been sent by the Cardinal's men-- and given what the VKP did to Ashley's memories, their plant might even believe the story himself, all struggling against but if it is him...
Skinned alive 'again'? the goddess asked him just as dryly. The two of us should trade stories, one of these days. Probably over alcohol.
Only half pushed-back in her mind, there was the reason she'd bothered to look through his illusion to begin with: another charming, wry, dangerously-talented heretic in exile, with golden hair hidden under a ridiculous hat and centuries of calculation hidden under a languid smile and laughing distractions. Sydney averted his mind's eye from what else she brought with that memory, because even if this 'brother' was a fraud, the goddess herself wasn't complicit in the planning behind it; he had no need now to invade her privacy any more than he already had.
One of these days, my lady, Sydney agreed, and released his hold on her mind.
The cat shook herself all over, giving him a thoroughly nonplussed glare, and yowled as she head-butted his knee again.
"Yes, yes, I understand," Sydney said, and pulled his cloak-illusion forward enough to hide how his features blurred and his hands stretched into claws as he followed her winding path through the marketplace. There was no greater risk in being recognized than there already was in following her, after all -- if the Cardinal or the VKP had sent a plant, they clearly knew whom they sought. And if it was Joshua, after all this time...
Yoruichi led him into an alley, turned around, and sat on his foot, giving him a sharply yellow-eyed stare; he laughed despite himself and sketched a bow.
"Your wish is my command," he said, and stood obediently still as she trotted through the marketplace in search of the one who might be his brother.
Joshua always had been the less cautious of the pair of them; it was only a matter of minutes before Sydney heard a familiar meow, followed by the unfamiliarly deeper note of a young man's laughter.
"All right, kitty, I'm coming," the boy said -- still in his teens, his voice not yet settled, but still, older than the flute-sweet child-pitch he'd last heard from his brother's throat.
Sydney pushed down hard on regret; regret was utterly futile, utterly a waste of energy and of strength, in the face of cold fact -- his choice had been made years earlier, and regret was not allowed.
The cat stopped the young man in his tracks by the expedient of twining herself around his ankles until he nearly tripped over himself trying not to step on her. As he cheerfully scolded her about the dangers clunky old boots offered to little cat paws, Sydney fought silently with himself.
He wouldn't make his first reintroduction to Joshua an invasion of his mind. He wouldn't. But if this was a plant, they'd chosen well -- his hair was longer than Sydney remembered, bound back in a tail, but it would have been more suspicious to present an identical semblance to too-old memories. His eyes were the same golden-gray that Sydney faced in the mirror each morning, and--
Sydney only realized his error when the boy looked up, and the instant's wild flare in those familiar hazel eyes faded a breath later.
"You're not my brother," the boy said, blunt with the blend of shock and disappointment, and Sydney cursed himself for a fool in a dozen long-dead languages. While he'd been so busy fighting back regret, he'd forgotten that hope was even more dangerous. And he hadn't anticipated a young man who wouldn't even pretend to Joshua's name, a young man who had nothing to do with his hunters -- with his home -- at all...
"He's not?" a suddenly tall, slender, and still-quite-naked goddess demanded, both hands on her hips. "But -- metal hands, and magic, and that mark on his back, and -- don't tell me there are two of them?"
When the boy spun on his heel at the unexpected new voice, the fierce rush of scarlet into his cheeks must have been precisely what the goddess had hoped for from Sydney; blushing fit to burn himself, the boy clamped both hands over his eyes and squeaked, "Clothes! No c-clothes--!"
But his attempts to wriggle out of his red jacket were doomed to futility while both hands were still pressed over his eyes. Sydney sighed, and forced back the bitter aftertaste of the thwarted hope he'd never meant to let himself feel in the first place.
"Down, girl," he said firmly to Yoruichi, who stuck out her tongue at him.
"You were the one wanting to hold a conversation, you know."
"I was braced for you," Sydney said, and held out the illusion of a cloak. "And for all that that implies. This poor boy clearly wasn't."
"No wonder you're no fun," Yoruichi said, and wrapped herself in the pretense of fabric before she looped an arm around the boy's twitching shoulders. "It's okay," she said. "I'm just the cat -- the one who likes salmon, remember?"
"Thank you, I'm sure that narrows the list of cats he's met quite helpfully," Sydney murmured.
With a sweet smile, Yoruichi made a gesture that he was certain must have been obscene in her culture.
"Uh. P-p-pleased to meet you?" the boy managed, still hiding behind both hands.
"It's safe to look now," Yoruichi assured him, even as she gestured far too casually with one of the arms the cloak draped over. Quickly adjusting the spill and flow of his illusion, Sydney thought to himself that if his own darkly sensual, flame-dancing Goddess hadn't recruited this one yet, there was no justice in any of the worlds.
The boy peeked out through two fingers, then gave a nervous laugh and shook her hand. "My name's Alphonse Elric," he said, and offered his hand to Sydney, then blinked at the sight of two sets of steel claws. "Um," he said. "I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. Ed can change his hand, you see, and... um." He looked more closely at Sydney's face, and offered with an utterly unexpected compassion, "I'm sorry I'm not the brother you're looking for, too."
Even as Yoruichi was muttering something incredulous about how could there be two of them, Sydney found a smile to offer. He closed his fingers carefully about Al's hand, not really surprised that the boy didn't flinch but still reassured, somehow, by the steady gold-gray gaze and the unquestioning, fearless trust.
"You're not the little brother I lost," Sydney agreed. "But, in the meantime, you're the brother that I've found. Perhaps I can help you look for the brother you've lost, as well. My name is Sydney Losstarot, by the way; it's a delight to make your acquaintance, regardless of the circumstances."
Al tipped his head a bit to one side. "We're going to look for your little brother too," he said, in the voice of someone who was far too accustomed to having to hold that type of argument with overprotective siblings.
"By now, I'm not so certain he's my little brother anymore," Sydney demurred, and Al's eyes widened for a moment.
"You don't mind that you're... er..." The surface of his mind was frantically scrabbling for a subtle synonym for the term short. "Wow. That is -- I mean, Ed is going to kill me for getting taller than he w--... is. Taller than he is."
"Oh, just have him kill me instead," Sydney offered, all indulgent charm. "Don't worry; I'm more than used to it by now."
"Never mind," Sydney said, waving a claw airily. "That's why they call it black humor." With a wry quirk to his grin, he addressed the salmon-scented cloud of gloom hovering over Yoruichi's thoughts: "I think she's earned the promised reward, hasn't she? She has found you a short, blond, sigil-marked, steel-handed elder brother, after all, even if it wasn't the same one that you lost."
Yoruichi gave him a dour, assessing look; Sydney spread both hands and smiled, though he knew full well the gesture looked far less harmless with that much lethally sharp-edged steel involved.
"Oh," Al said, guiltily remembering. "That's right! But -- you're not really a cat, are you? Do you really want salmon that much?"
Yoruichi immediately collapsed into herself, and a startlingly deep-voiced black cat said, "Of course I want salmon that much!"
Al blinked, shook his head, and gamely bent over to address the cat-shape that had just spoken to him in a raspy human baritone. "I think it might be easier to talk if we were all, er, people-shaped."
"Who cares about talking when there's fish?" the cat said, and shoved her hip against his shin bone.
"And the fish is proportionally ten times larger when she's ten times smaller," Sydney noted, rolling his eyes.
"Exactly," the cat rumbled, already vibrating with purrs.
Al's giggles were just as delightful as Joshua's had been, even if softer and lower in pitch. "All right, then," he said, and scooped her up -- and realized halfway through the gesture approximately where and what his hands were pressing against, and he froze motionless, his face hastily climbing through the spectrum toward scarlet again. "I'm sorry! I'm-so-sorry-I-wasn't-thinking-I'm-sorry-I-d
Caught unbalanced halfway through the gesture, Yoruichi yowled and sank all her claws into his jacket for purchase, and Al yelped again, trapped between supporting her fragile little cat-shape and not daring to put his hands anywhere near what had just been an attractive and extremely naked woman. Squalling in indignation, Yoruichi scrambled up his chest to perch on his shoulder, and Al doubled over with hands on his knees trying not to react to the claws sunk into his back, and Sydney sighed and stepped forward and held his hands out.
Her claws found no purchase on the steel of his hands, but then he didn't flinch away from her claws either; once she'd scrambled into his hands, he folded his arms around her carefully, one for support and one for steadying. She was startlingly warm and soft as she pushed her shoulder against his bare chest for balance.
Wincing, Al stood up and rubbed behind his ear sheepishly, then hesitated over whether to offer his fingers for sniffing or not.
"I. Uh. Sorry about that. I mean -- um -- you're not really a cat, but you are a cat, but I guess that doesn't mean I should just... uh." He looked helplessly at Sydney for a cue.
Yoruichi took the decision out of Al's hands; she snagged a pawful of claws in the fabric of his jacket and tugged, and then when he dutifully stepped closer, she shoved her head under his hand. His fingers found the good spot behind her ears through pure blind reflex; when she redoubled her purr, Al blinked, and then giggled in an oddly self-conscious delight.
"Whether or not she's just a cat, she certainly is a cat," Sydney observed, and didn't flinch when she flattened her ears back and swatted at his bare chest.
"Salmon," she reminded them firmly.
"Yes, ma'am," Al said, and then glanced at Sydney. "Um. Your hands -- I mean -- Ed used to wear gloves, because people would stare, and--"
He stopped short when Sydney blurred into his human guise, with his jaw hanging open in astonishment. And then, like little brothers the worlds over, all the questions came spilling out at once.
"How did you do that? You didn't even -- that is, of course you wouldn't need an alchemical circle, not if you -- I mean -- that's why Ed and I lost -- uh, at least, that's why we lost -- not that I ought to be assuming anything about you, but if you haven't performed human transmutation, why can you -- um -- Mr. Losstarot, what happened to your arms?"
"That's rather a long story," Sydney said, "and likely best told over salmon, in the interest of avoiding further bloodshed."
"Damn straight," Yoruichi rumbled, still pushing her head against Al's obediently scratching fingertips.
"You wouldn't mind?" the boy asked, shy but still so trusting, and it took conscious effort not to let the Dark reach out and wrap him in its rich, drowsily seductive allure. Sometimes what the Dark thought of as a reward was ...not precisely in a human's best interests.
"Shall we make a bargain?" he offered instead. "A story for a story, so that it's--" equivalent exchange, the boy's mind echoed to him, tangled into old guilt and resolution and fear and blood and fierce-gripped determination, and Sydney said instead, "fair."
"Fair," Al agreed, and nodded softly. "I miss him so much. There's so much to tell."
Sydney nodded, and carefully didn't mention I know; you're telling me so much already. Instead, following the path of Al's memories back toward the fishmonger's stall, he said, "Then I'm glad I'm here to listen. Brothers are for sharing with, after all."
"As long as you share the salmon," Yoruichi grumbled under her breath.
Really, Sydney thought to himself, it was no surprise there were so many cat gods among the pantheons, when cats themselves never grasped that occasionally they weren't gods.
"Yes, we promise," Al told her, laughing. And even if it wasn't quite the same laugh, wasn't quite Joshua -- still, the note of delight ringing from a lost little brother's voice was a comfort all its own.