Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Laura Joh Rowland's books, 'The Perfumed Sleeve' (set during the last part)
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Laura Joh, nothing to me. I just express my love in this twisted way.
Summary: Once Yanagisawa and Hoshina were lovers. Then a betrayal turned them into enemies. When Yanagisawa loses a war against his political rival, Hoshina has a chance to take revenge.
This story is a horribly belated birthday present for my dear friend Amothea. I'm actually not sure that she is familiar with the fandom. But I was told one doesn't need to know the fandom for this story to make sense. Anyway, it is bloody and gory - the best I can offer :-)
This story is a birthday present for Amothea
He loses with grace. His face is a model of composure, void of any expression, like a mask still not painted by an artist. And just as pale. The black eyes seem dully lustrous onyxes and also give away nothing. The brush is frozen in his hand over a sheet of paper. Damned performer. Pretender.
For a moment when Hoshina just comes in, he hopes that in Yanagisawa's gaze something will flicker - some vulnerability, as it has happened before - unnoticed by others, just for him. But it doesn't happen, and disappointment is like a personal defeat for Hoshina.
Even though he actually did win.
"What are you writing, Honorable Chamberlain? Don't you know the shogun doesn't read your letters?"
Yanagisawa doesn't answer. He looks up, then lowers his gaze back to the paper dispassionately - as if something he's going to write means infinitely more than Hoshina, and his words, and his people filling the room.
Which isn't a room really but a cell. And Yanagisawa can pretend all he wants that he's just a guest here - in his luxurious kimono, blue silk and embroidered waves, with his careless, calm attitude. It won't help him. He's a prisoner here.
And Hoshina won't let him forget it - won't let him ignore them. He steps forward and backhands him, with force. For a moment sensations overwhelm him - the warm cheek and soft lips and hard teeth under his knuckles. It has always been like that between them - every touch like a lightning, sparkles running over the skin.
And at this moment he wants more - wants to grab Yanagisawa, jerk him up, tear off this bright kimono, touch his chest, down to the groin, feel his smell - tobacco and wintergreen oil - kiss him, hold him...
Yanagisawa flinches with the blow, a strand of hair falls out of his hairdo and falls across his cheek. His lip is split, and blood adds red to the white of his face and black of his eyes and hair.
Coal-black eyes light up with fury.
"How dare you?"
And at the next moment Yanagisawa is on his feet - surging at Hoshina. His calm has vanished. Yes, it's more like Yanagisawa - he never lets anyone get away with anything, always ready to strike back - or strike first, preferably.
Their sex also was like that... a fight, a battle. And Hoshina always lost.
But this time Yanagisawa has forgotten who has the upper hand. A fool... He doesn't have time to make a step, he is grabbed, his arms are twisted behind his back, held - his head is yanked back by the hair. He's strong - there are four men holding him but even like that it is not easy, and for a few moments they shift in place, silently, only hoarse breath is heard - until they manage to overpower him.
Hoshina looks at his face - furious, full of hatred - the face of a revengeful demon. Give him a chance, and he'll make Hoshina pay. It's always like that with him, Hoshina thinks - one moment Yanagisawa seems so close that it is impossible to separate him, only push him away with a part of your own soul. And next moment he's a stranger and a hostile one - he rejects, and then Hoshina feels deceived and chokes with hatred.
Just like it was then, when they parted... Hoshina reminds himself that he made a right choice: look, Yanagisawa has lost. And Hoshina hopes that in the downfall of his former lover here was his merit as well.
"You'll answer for that." Yanagisawa's voice trembles with anger.
His split lip bleeds and Hoshina suddenly thinks, with dizziness, how much he wants to lean and touch it with his tongue, feel the salty taste. But he can't. He has an assignment here.
"Oh, you suppose we will, Yanagisawa-san? Lord Matsudaira swore that you would pay with your blood for the death of his nephew. The time to pay has come."
"Do you think it is over?" The words are like a spit in his face.
"I think you don't understand. The shogun doesn't want to hear about you." And after a pause Hoshina adds. "You're all alone, Yoshiyasu."
His name on Hoshina's lips is like honey and poison at once.
Yanagisawa's face whitens with shock. He resists but the chances are unequal. They pull off his upper kimono, and the under one - and Hoshina steps back, his mouth goes dry, all his body seems to be made of tight strings, and his groin pulses with hot arousal. He watches...
He watches as they undress his former lover - and can't help remembering. He remembers every detail of this body, naked in front of him - the long strong legs, and flat abdomen, and smooth chest - he remembers how their bodies twined in passion. How he misses all that... His throat constricts at this thought. And no women or boys Hoshina beds can make him forget.
But does it change anything? Yanagisawa used him. Yes, and he used Yanagisawa. But if there were only that, would it hurt so much?
Hoshina looks how they tie Yanagisawa's wrists and yank his hands up, pull the rope over a beam - and Yanagisawa can't resist any more, his body stretches, raised - and only his toes touch the floor now. His gaze is wild, his hair messed up.
And Hoshina wants him - more than ever before.
"You had to pay one day. I think it's the right time for it."
Yanagisawa doesn't answer. His limbs tremble with strain and his eyes are half-crazed with rage... and fear?
He *is* afraid. He's finally realized that he lost - and what exactly his defeat implies.
How long has passed since someone touched his body against his will, Hoshina wonders. He remembers Yanagisawa telling him - about his past, his childhood spent as a toy for his patron. He told Hoshina about it one of those nights of full honesty, when sex alternated with conversation and it seemed there was no place for secrets. Hoshina remembers a thin trail of sake on Yanagisawa's chest - sweetness of wine and salt of his skin. And Yanagisawa's face was peaceful, softer than usual.
How many nights were like that, when they - who didn't trust anyone - trusted each other fully? Two nights? More than Yanagisawa should have afforded. Didn't he know that every bit of information you gave others was a weapon they could use against you?
He gave Hoshina this weapon. And Hoshina will use it.
Because Yanagisawa betrayed him. And didn't try to make up to him for it. Or did he try - but not enough, not like Hoshina wanted him to?
He will pay for everything. Hoshina makes a sign, and they yank off Yanagisawa's loincloth. Even sentenced to death are not stripped fully naked. But Hoshina wants to hurt him - as much as possible, humiliate him.
As Yanagisawa humiliated him - with his fake mysteriousness, his arrogance, his condescending ways, his puzzles Hoshina had to guess like a child. They were of the same age, and yet Yanagisawa rose so much higher than Hoshina, achieved everything possible, had enough authority to raise Hoshina as well.
And now he's fallen.
How long will it take to make him scream? Hoshina knows Yanagisawa will try to keep silent - exactly because Hoshina is here. The whip tears the skin, leaving bloody welts.
These traces will stay for a while, some of them forever. Until now, everyone who'd used his body was careful with Yanagisawa, tried not to damage his main value - his looks. But now there's no point of sparing him. Did he know before it could hurt so much? His head dangles, his lips are bitten thought with pain and his very black eyes get misty.
Hoshina remembers one of the winter nights, spent together; a brazier covered with a quilt, and them together under this quilt. And one moment they are too hot with closeness and sex and push the blanket away, and next moment the cold of the room makes them shudder. And they get back under the quilt and laugh, sputtering lukewarm tea, and feed each other sugared fruit on the sticks - and Yanagisawa looks so young and cozy, like a boy with disheveled hair and mirth in his eyes.
But even then his eyes stay impenetrable dark. And Hoshina goes still, looking at him.
"What strange eyes you have."
"Yes, I got them as a present. An evil spirit gave them to me, together with all that." Yanagisawa shows around with his hand, meaning everything at once: his quarters in the Edo Castle, his position of the Chamberlain, his power.
And for a moment it seems to Hoshina that he is serious. They both go quiet. And then Yanagisawa laughs, and Hoshina gets angry with himself for buying this trick.
But it is all in the past... Yes, they felt good together - but Yanagisawa ruined it all. And now he pays for it.
The instructions were not to damage him permanently. Oh, Matsudaira would happily damage Yanagisawa to death - but the shogun, whimsical and stubborn, didn't allow to execute his former favorite - and he will be angry if something happens to Yanagisawa.
But if Hoshina could - would he... would he cut his throat and watch him bleed to death?
However, he can do without it. He can hurt Yanagisawa enough to quench his hatred - without maiming him, without killing him. He can.
Yanagisawa breathes harshly, heavily, his skin glistens with sweat and there is anguish and pain in his eyes. He bites his lips and still cries out when the whip falls onto his back and shoulders, slides over his chest. The man whipping his is a professional; the end of the whip lashes across the groin, making Yanagisawa cry out, then sob.
How long will it take him to get despaired - so that relief sparkles in his eyes when the whipping is over? So that he doesn't resist when they take him off the rope and push him down on the floor?
And then everything starts again. Yanagisawa should have known. But he probably realizes it only with his head and shoulders are pressed to the floor and the first of Hoshina's men thrusts into him brutally. Then Yanagisawa makes that hoarse, choking sound, and his tied hands scrape the floor.
Hoshina's people are experienced at guessing what pleases their chief - and what they can get away with. And under Hoshina's approving gaze they shove the former Chamberlain's face into the floor, splitting his lips again, leaving bloody traces on the wooden planks. Muffling his indistinct words.
But Hoshina knows what he mutters. Damned bastard, he's made a ritual, a cult even from his own past, relieves the same scenario again and again. But now it is not a game. Now he is really hurt - so much as he probably hadn't been since that first time when he was raped as a child.
But he hurt Hoshina as well. And he has to pay.
Yanagisawa starts moaning when the third man takes him, and sobbing when the fourth one slams into him. He is hurt, no doubt. In his rectum everything is wet, even though it takes a while to tear him.
And there are a lot of those who want to please the Police Commissioner this easy way, by participating in this punishment. Hoshina watches how his lover, the former second man in the country is fucked on the floor smeared with blood and shit. How easy it is to break... So difficult to rise - but to throw down is so easy, and there he is, Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, bleeding, and another cock tears his anus, and another hand twists his testicles cruelly.
And Hoshina thinks how scary it is... what can he do not to let something like that happen to *him*?
But it is Yanagisawa's own fault. He should have accepted the truce offered by Matsudaira. Though... Hoshina didn't want Yanagisawa to accept it. They became enemies; he wanted a chance to revenge himself.
Now the vengeance is his.
There are different ways to hurt; a lot of things can be done without crippling. And Yanagisawa will learn it - on his own body. And if there is some minor damage, it doesn't matter; he will get over it.
Yanagisawa screams, in a hoarse, unrecognizable voice when a fist is pushed into him. And he only moans when a huge dog mounts him. Hoshina knows that in Yanagisawa's childhood, there were many things Lord Takai did to him, some of them he didn't want to mention ever again. But even then he hardly was used like that.
There is a threshold that only hatred can cross.
And this hatred is sweet like wine and salty like blood.
It goes on and on, for a while. But Hoshina can't leave - he has to watch, it's his task from Lord Matsudaira, his proof of loyalty to the man he chose over Yanagisawa. Matsudaira has won; Yanagisawa has lost.
He decides to end it with the dog. Continuing might be dangerous; Yanagisawa's breath is already ragged and wheezing. If he dies, Hoshina won't be forgiven. He can't allow Yanagisawa to put him into danger.
And later the former Chamberlain lies on his side, exhausted, his tied hands pressed to his chest and his legs pulled up - and blood trickles between his buttocks, and all his body is covered in welts and scratches, as if he's a wench taken by a couple dozens of soldiers. He shivers, and his wet hair sticks to his face, and his split lips are bluish, and there are dark shadows around his eyes.
"Leave us," Hoshina says.
Everyone leaves, and he kneels next to Yanagisawa.
He's done it - what he was supposed to do. What Lord Matsudaira ordered. What he wanted. Is he satisfied now?
But he hasn't fucked Yanagisawa himself. Yanagisawa never let him. Even when they fought for the upper hand in bed, half-seriously - Hoshina always knew that Yanagisawa wouldn't forgive him a victory. And he always wanted it so much. At first he thought that when Yanagisawa learned to trust him, he would give in. But time passed and Yanagisawa didn't get closer, he grew more distant, and their cozy, warm intimacy that united them with jokes and sake and their plans against Sano - it was only an illusion.
Hoshina never stopped fearing that Yanagisawa would simply toss him away like a dirty rag one day. And it was exactly what happened when Yanagisawa betrayed him.
Or didn't he? Was Sano right, and Yanagisawa tried to save him? Maybe in his own way, without risking anything - but he did try?
No, Hoshina won't think about it. He'd better think about the lost opportunity with Yanagisawa. Hoshina could have taken him before all others did. And now, when he's been fucked by everyone, even by an animal?
And the worst thing is that Hoshina still wants it. He would do it gladly - would slam into his bleeding anus, into the hot, wet entrance, would fuck him until he moaned and bit his lips, would fuck him until he passed out, would make him scream with pain if not with pleasure.
But Hoshina won't do it. Not because it would sully him. But it simply won't change anything. It won't change the fact that Yanagisawa had never let him do it.
Maybe then, when he wanted Hoshina to stay, it would have been enough just...
But now it's too late. It's all over. Chamberlain Yanagisawa is over. And it was Hoshina who defeated him.
If Yanagisawa only knew how it would end, then when he took Hoshina from Miyako with him...
When Hoshina thinks about it, he wants to gnaw his lips with pain. Because they both didn't know. And because there was something... The only time in Hoshina's life, there was something. He felt it - the unbearable delight of not caring for his own life, the readiness to throw it to the feet of the other, to live and die for the other. The only time in his thirty-six years. And it will never happen again.
But he will marry, of course, profitably, he will have children. And Yanagisawa... where will he be exiled? To Hachijo? How long will he survive there? Exiles don't live for long.
Hoshina reaches and pushes a strand of hair away from Yanagisawa's face. He knows he shouldn't do it but he can't resist. And again, as always, the touch makes him shiver in almost painful excitement. He thought he got rid of this weakness... but will he ever get rid of it?
Yanagisawa's eyelashes tremble; his eyes dimmed with pain are half-closed. Does he recognize Hoshina?
"Idiot... Do you think it changes anything?"
Oh, he does recognize. His voice is like a rustle of paper but his words sting.
Hoshina looks at him and feels anger - and yet there is something else, his mind is consumed with one thought again, the thought he can't chase away. He needs to ask, even though he doesn't want to, he forbids himself thinking about it...
He is afraid of the answer that can change everything - when it is too late to change something.
"Sano told me that you called for him then on purpose. So that I could claim that debt he owed me - so that he *had to* save my life. Is it true?"
And in Yanagisawa's dark eyes there is triumph flashing for a moment - and Hoshina hates himself for demonstrating his soft spot, letting Yanagisawa hit there, hurt him.
"I did nothing like that," Yanagisawa says.
And Hoshina gets up, his face distorts with fury - and he wants to kill this bastard - just to wipe off this smile full of contempt from his split lips.
But he regains control. He shrugs and calls for his people. And Yanagisawa is stretched on the floor, his hands pinned above his head.
"I'm done with Matsudaira's orders," Hoshina says and takes the knife. "This is personally from me."
The blade flashes, cutting the skin - one cut after another - over the ribs, through the nipple, over the belly - and blood trickles onto the floor. This way lovers cut themselves to prove their love. But Yanagisawa, of course, would have never spoiled his skin for Hoshina.
Well, he'll bear the scars in memory of their love against his will.
At Hoshina's sign Yanagisawa is raised. He's probably too hurt and too tired to torment him more. His head drops, his hair hangs like dead seaweeds.
And two days later Hoshina watches him walk to the ship - as if nothing happened, with his firm, assured steps. And only Hoshina knows what it costs him. As soon as he is in his cabin, he'll probably slumps at the wall, worn out - but so far Yanagisawa plays his role to perfection.
And Hoshina plays his.
They are enemies. Hoshina, mockingly polite, reminds him of his downfall, and his eyes burn with hatred - and Yanagisawa's fathomlessly black eyes answer him with contempt.
And they both remember what happened - the curled body on the floor, blood running on Yanagisawa's legs, and the dog, breathing hotly, climbing onto his shoulders, entering him.
They both remember what had happened even before that - their bodies joining in bed, their lips and hands in the endless, passionate union... their jokes, and their plans, and their touches.
And Hoshina knows that he can find someone who'll replace Yanagisawa in bed. But can he cross him out of his memory? He can destroy his lover's body - but how can he destroy a part of himself?
Yoshiyasu, be damned, he whispers. But the wind distorts the words turning them into - come back.