Spellbound * (1/6) By Sakata Ri Houjun

Warning: Chichiri may seem a little OOC, but it'll be explained.


It was raining when he landed at the airport. He'd slept nearly all the way across the Pacific. And the dreams had chased him. He went through customs, rented a car, changed money. As he completed the tasks, he tried not to dwell on the idea that he might be having some kind of breakdown.

He climbed behind the wheel, and then simply sat wondering what to do, where to go. Suddenly an odd chill raced through him, and he thought, for just a moment, that he heard the cry of a strange bird.

Just stress, he told himself. But why would he be stressed when his career was advancing by leaps and bounds? He was still in his early twenties, a successful photographer who could name his price, call his own shots. And it liked it that way.

If he was having a breakdown, it could only be cured by relaxation, and a change of scene. That's what he'd come to China for. He started the car and began to drive aimlessly.

He'd had dreams before, when he was a boy. Temples and palaces, bandits and a man with hair the color of the sky. He'd spoken to him sometimes with a strange high-pitched voice. And sometimes he's spoken in a language he didn't know-but had understood nonetheless.

His parents had been concerned when he seemed to see things, to speak of places and people he couldn't have had knowledge of. They'd worried over him when his sleep was disturbed night after night. As he grew older, feelings and needs for the man that weren't innocent had begun to stir.

He was here only to prove to himself that he was an ordinary man suffering from overwork. He would soak up the atmosphere if China, take the pictures that pleased him.

He drove along the storm-battered road. Rain pattered the windshield, and fog slithered over the ground. It was hardly a warm welcome, yet he felt at home. As if something, or someone, was waiting to take him in from the storm.

He would eventually find some bar or inn and get some sake to warm him up, but for now he had to see more of this haunting landscape. His ancestors had roamed these spearing cliffs, these rolling hills. They had to have been great warriors, he thought.

The scene that burst into his mind was viciously clear. The flash of swords clashing, the screams of battle in full power, the burn as metal pierced flesh. Looking down, he saw blood welling on his thigh.

Genrou found he stopped on the side of the road. Had he blacked out? Was he losing his mind? Trembling, re reached down and ran his hands over his jeans. There was no wound.

Jet lag, he decided. Jet lag and stress, that was all. He needed to find a place to stay. He needed a drink. He would find some quiet place where he could rest his mind. And when the storm had passed, he would get his camera and go for a long walk.

He continued along the winding road.


The ruins came into view as he rounded the curve. Perched on a hilltop, it shimmered with power and defiance despite its tumbled rocks.

Out of the boiling sky, one lance of lightning speared and exploded with light. He swung onto the narrow dirt road that led up. He wanted a picture of the temple, and then he'd be on his way.

So intent was he on the light and shadows that played on stone that he didn't see the dwelling until he was nearly upon it. It was so charming, so unexpected. It was white and smoke trailed out of the chimney. A sleek white cat napped beside a wooden chair on the little covered porch. Someone made a home here, he thought, and tended it.

Suddenly he was there standing in the lashing rain, the wind swirling around him. Though Genrou hadn't heard the approach, he was halfway between the cottage and the old temple.

His hair was wet, transformed into a deep cerulean that was tied away from a face that might have been carved out of ivory by a master. His mouth was soft and seemed to tremble as it curved into a smile of welcome. His eyes were burgundy and powerful. "I knew you would come, no da. I've waited for you." He raced the distance between them, his voice lilting with the high-pitched squeak before his mouth crushed Genrou's.

There was a moment of blinding, searing joy. Another of dark, primal lust. The other man's taste, sharp, potent, soaked into his system as the rain soaked his skin. Genrou was helpless to do anything but absorb it. His arms were chained around his neck, his slim body pressed intimately to his, the heat from it seeping through his sodden shirt and into his bones.

His mouth was as wild and edgy as the sky thundering above them. It was all terrifyingly familiar.

He brought his hands to the smaller man's shoulders, then eased back and held him at arm's length. He was beautiful. He was aroused. And they were, he assured himself, strangers.

The cerulean-haired man gave Genrou a smile and let his fingers linger in his fiery-red hair. "Welcome to China and the Temple of Suzaku, no da."

Genrou's gaze shifted towards the ruins. "Is that what this place is called?"

"That's its name, no da." He offered a hand, as he would any wayward traveler. "You've had a long journey. Come, sit by the fire and have some sake, na no da."

"You don't fucking know me." He made it a statement rather than a question.

"Won't you come inside, Kou Genrou, and get out of the rain, no da?"

He felt his body tremble. "How did you know my name?"

"The same way you knew to come here, no da."

Genrou pushed the front door of the small house open, and the warmth struck him instantly.

"Make yourself at home, na no da."

Genrou stepped near to the fire and studied the room with the sharp eye of an artist. Quiet colors, he thought. Absently he crouched to pet the cat who had followed them inside. The creamy white fur was warm and damp. Real. He had some important questions to ask his host-and he wasn't going anywhere until he had answers.

"Won't you have a drink, Genrou?"

"How the fuck you know my name?" he asked while downing the offered cup of alcohol.

"Daaa. I'll explain what I can." His eyes were turbulent with emotion. "Do you have no memory of me at all, no da?"

"I don't know you," he said defensively.

"I am Ri Houjun, guardian of this holy place, no da. You're welcome in my home, Kou Genrou."

"You said you knew I would come, you knew my name. How?"

He couldn't lie to the young red-head-honesty was part of his pledge. "I've waited for you all my life," he said quietly. "And a millennium before it began." Raising his hands, he laid them on Genrou's face. "The memory of your touch has haunted me every night of my life."

"That's bullshit."

"I can't lie to you, no da. It's not in my power. You're not ready to hear, to believe." His eyes softened a little, fingertips stroking his temples. "Genrou, you're tired and confused, no da. It's rest you're needing now and ease for you mind. I can help you, na no da."

Genrou's vision grayed, and the room swam. He could see nothing but Houjun's eyes, deep burgundy, utterly focused. His scent swam into his senses like a drug.

"Rest now, koi."

He felt Houjun's lips brush his before he slid blissfully into the dark.