801rabu: (fic)
[personal profile] 801rabu
The Lurker

Title: MONSTER
Pairing: Ohno/Nino
Rating: PG-13.
Genre: Taisho Era AU. Drama, horror, angst, romance.
Chapter: 2/4
Word Count: 4200~
Disclaimer: Don’t own them; apparently, old fart Jani does.
Summary: Better alone that in bad company, some would say. Kazunari thinks otherwise.

Notes: This could be called a songfic, even if there are only some phrases of the song at the beginning of each chapter. Lyrics translation taken from yarukizero.




CHAPTER II

It’s not about outward appearances
Embrace what’s in my heart


*

A creaky truck stopped on the outskirts of Minamata town, where Kazunari had been idly waiting for nearly an hour. It was the builder crew from Kumamoto, ready to be lead towards their working place in order to install a new door. Windows should be fixed within a week, and thus, no one would come in without his permission.

He thought of ways to use this on his behalf, a trick to make his guest confront him. He would not close the door and leave the guy out. Neither did he consider welcoming him by opening it as if he were the man’s butler, mainly because he would run away again. Instead, he opted for leaving it ajar.

It had been three hours since sunset when the front door opened so very slowly. Kazunari had been sitting on the stairs for a while, and waited until the man was on his way to the kitchen to speak.

Why are you avoiding me?” He obviously was, because he jumped as soon as he heard the other’s voice. They couldn't see each other clearly, the night too dark to illuminate such a wide hall, but Kazunari could make out the oddly shape in which the guy's hair was styled, combed backwards and pointing up. He looked like a chestnut.

He still had his doubts about the connection this strange man might have with the darkest of his secrets, but even if that were the case, wouldn't it be futile for any of the affected ones to be haunting this house with their misery?

Told you. I don’t belong within humans.”

Humans? Aren’t you human too?” He was half joking, being rather cocky even. His crooked grin died at the stranger’s curt response.

Guess so” he said, resuming his stroll. Unwilling to leave him part, Kazunari forced the unproductive interrogation a bit further.

Where do you belong then?”

The forest, I suppose.” The guy was certainly ambiguous.

You live in the wildness… then how come you’re schooled?” During his inspection of the basement, he had found a pile of frayed books next to the lousy futon. He had possibly ventured too far when assuming the owner knew how to read though.

I’m not a beast. Not now at least.” Kazunari didn’t know what to make of those words. “My kindred… they taught me everything I know.”

Then… why do you live alone?”

There’s no one left.”

Wha… what do you mean by-” The question never left his mouth… for he needed no more information. The mistrust he felt towards people, the fear… Someone had hurt him, and presumably done even worse to his family. He just hoped they weren’t taken away by the sin his own family had committed.


By the time he was back from his remorseful reverie, the man was already on his way to the basement.

*

He had left a pair of pants and a shirt in the basement, aware the man had no spare clothes. When Kazunari went down next day, he found them there, neatly folded over the dirty sheets. They had been used though, for he could catch the man's scent in them, which was not exactly pleasant. They were stained with blood as well.

What the heck had happened in there the previous night? And why would he change again? He doubted his usual clothes were any cleaner, so wherever he went by day, why don't use those instead? Something about it made him feel rather uneasy.

He retired to bed early, not willing to discuss the issue with the weird man.

Hours later, the clock waked him once again. He was definitely throwing it away. His bladder full to overflowing, he got up to take a pee when his eyes landed on something outside the window.

It was him, the man living in the cellar, crossing the garden stark naked.

It was almost dawn, the faint peripheral glow of the sun illuminating the landscape. The orb would rise in few seconds.

He seemed to be heading to the woods, and looked rough and primitive, his steps raw, ungraceful. But then, why was he hunching that way? What was… wha-

The small body trembled, and under dislocating shakes, his limbs changed, growing impossibly. Before he could be hidden by the impenetrable forest, Kazunari plainly behold tan skin being covered by bronze hair.

The dreadful image left him rooted in front of the window, feeling utterly devastated, repulsed, terrified. A brutal shiver rocked his whole being, and he had to make a huge effort not to wet himself due to the sudden limpness his body was suffering.

He had abruptly woken up from his stupid enthusiasm. He deserved it, for he had been naive, reckless. Full of false hope.

And that same pathetic dream of forming a bond, any kind of bond, had led him to live under the same roof with none other than a monster.

*

Next night, the monstrous creature was back in his room, and Kazunari was again caged by the same terror he had felt when he had first arrived there, only now it was way more acute, the danger much more real.

But again, the guy, who was apparently as human as he had been on preceding nights, did nothing but stare. He was more than aware of the terrible consequences having him around might cause, but after minutes waiting for any kind of reaction from him, he guessed he was safe for the time being.

Besides, curiosity always played against his better judgment. It might be due to his merciful nature that he had spent half the day pitying this unearthly being, because after all, he knew what being cursed meant. But how was this guy even possible?

His prudent self once again deterred, he dared speak to him.

I saw you this morning.”

Only silence ensued the straightforward assertion. “I know.” The man behind the door said nothing, but his presence seemed to evanesce momentarily.

That’s why you live here, alone. That’s why the clock sounds each morning just before dawn, you set it so that-” He was still somewhat in denial, the long years of scientific education impeding him from believing such fabrications, but he asked anyway.

Are you the Mujina they talk about?” He shifted under the blankets to face the door. He saw no clear features once again.

I’ve been called different names. None of them amiable.” Should he feel afraid when this guy inspired nothing but compassion? “Not that I ever felt like befriending anyone.”

Don’t you get bored?” That was certainly a stupid question to ask in such a conversation, but Kazunari couldn't stop from feeling nagged by it. He seemed okay with his circumstances, didn’t want people’s company nor the unreachable warmth he had yearned for since he was a kid. He wondered if this guy could help him learn how to live so detached from emotion.

Not really.”

And what do you do when you're nor-… when you're like this?”

Nothing” he said matter-of-factly, as if it were the normal thing to do. Kazunari finallyS grasped why this man stared at him forever. He must have been his best and only entertainment in years.

So… how long have you been here? ...Living in that pit.”

Pit?”

The basement. That place is a nightmare.”

Oh… it’s fine. I don’t need more.” The obstinate humbleness of the guy was starting to irk him.

Whatever suits you best” he said half annoyed, turning around in an overdramatic antic.

“It’s been- won't be accurate... but it’s been about twenty years since I found this place.”

“Twenty? Only few years after baachan left this place then…”

“You own this place?”

“Sort of. I inherited it. Want to… wish to rebuild it.”

“In that case, I won’t be a problem. I’ll find a new place tomorrow night.”

“What?” That was so drastic. Maybe he had misunderstood Kazunari’s actual mood? Had he been too theatrical when he turned his back to him? Truth was, he didn’t feel threaten each time they spoke. Instead, he felt his interest growing each day, as if the man were a riddle he needed to resolve.

“You can stay, if you want.” In fact, is mere egoism what made him say that. It was reassuring, not being alone in such a huge and deserted house, and maybe he could persuade the intruder help him with the reform in exchange for shelter.

Either way, the man had said nothing before leaving his spot on the doorstep. Kazunari figured the unlikely companion might not be as civilized as he had foreseen, for he really had no ability when it came to communication.

*

A few days later the man proved him wrong.

Roaming the manor with his sketch book in hands, Kazunari had finally decided on each and every little detail he wanted to change. When he tried to check on the notes for the hall design though, the notebook was nowhere to be seen. He gave up searching for it once he inspected the whole house, and spent the rest of the day in a remarkable foul mood. That object was extremely important to him.

His worries ended that very night.

“Ka-kazu… Kazu-naaari” the man’s vacillating voice echoed from the corridor. His stealthy arm left the notebook on a shelf next to the door. So he actually did know how to read. Sort of.

His mother’s beautiful handwriting adorned the leather cover. He could still remember how she would write his given name on it right after he opened the gift, so many years ago.

“Did you steal it for me?” There was no recrimination, just perplexity in Kazunari’s words.

“Found it thrown in the garden.” Oh right. He had been taking care of the vegetable patch on the previous day. He was such a moron.

“Thank you.” At least, it had not rained before the man found it. He was highly grateful to him. “And what’s your name?”

“My name? …Satoshi.”

“What else?”

“What do you mean what else?”

“Your surname… I’m just being nosy.”

“Ah… I have none. What’s yours?” Kazunari hesitated.

“You neither have one?”

“Nah… no, just- Noguchi. It is, it was Noguchi, but I changed it to Ninomiya. I rather like you to call me Ninomiya.”

“I’ll call you Kazunari. You’ll call me Satoshi.” That seemed rather fair. He left right away, never hearing Kazunari’s hushed goodnight.

*

He had left a note telling his guest to come upstairs to sleep. It had some sort of unintentional double meaning, and he wondered if the guy could tell when someone was teasing him. He was certain that if told directly, he would manage nothing, so he set some kind of trap.

As expected, Satoshi ignored the note, but once he reached the cellar, there was no sign of his ratty belongings. He felt seriously affronted, certain that the snob owner was trying to boss him around.

Kazunari woke up to find the other’s clothes scattered over the bed of the first room upstairs, just where he had left them the previous evening. Yet the bed was unmade, the sheets tousled.

He had won this battle.

Later on, if he ever got the chance giving his evasive behavior, he would use the reform as a pretext, telling Satoshi how he had been forced to take the stinky futon out of there, not fancying the idea of the workers thinking he had kidnaped someone. But for the time being, he had managed to drag the man out of that dump.

That very night he waited for him, and this time he wouldn’t run away. When Satoshi entered into his new room, he found Kazunari sitting in the bed, the candle light illuminating his back. He came to a halt, about to flee again, but the man inside the room spoke faster.

Why would you sleep in that hole… All this big house was yours alone and yet you chose that putrid pigsty?”

“You’re wrong. It was never mine.” He didn’t seem keen on sticking with the conversation.

Well, now that it belongs to me, please don’t act as if you were an indigent while you’re my guest. Consider it yours too for the time being.” He was facing the window and hence couldn’t make out any of Satoshi’s gestures, but he heard a small nod, or something of the sorts, you never know with the guy.

Kazunari stood up and walked past him on his way out. He didn’t dare look his way, it would be too insolent to do so when he had just returned from the forest and was still so overtly naked.

*

On the following night, Kazunari allowed the other man time to dress up before he attempted to approach his room.

You can come have a bite in the kitchen… if you want”. He was embarrassed to invite the stranger, as if he were desperate for a bit of company.

I’m not hungry. I never am when I’m back.”

The phrase gave him goosebumps. Right, so he was more than sated by the time night arrived and he changed back. He really hoped it was just animals what he ate. He was not going to ask anyway. While he retraced his steps down the stairs, he kicked himself for his choice of words… come have a bite.

Was he saying those things unconsciously? It would be really worrisome if he were somehow being tempted by the latent threat.

*

He was done eating dinner when the front door opened. This time he had taken much longer to come back. Kazunari, who pretended to be doodling in his notebook when he actually was doing nothing but waiting impatiently for the other man, stepped out from the kitchen to see the naked man’s back walking up the stairs.

Hey…” Satoshi halted. Kazunari felt insecure again, afraid the other might deem his constant offers annoying.

I bought a strawberry cake. You can take a piece. If you want. If you like that kind of… food.” Ow God, he was so stupid.

I never said I don’t eat human food.” He used a fake offended tone. So the guy got some wit. He continued his way to the second floor though, and Kazunari sighed, thinking of what an idiot he had made of himself.

But to his surprise, Satoshi was back minutes later, nicely dressed in Kazunari’s clothes, which seemed quite baggy for his small frame. He sat at the table, cut a huge piece of cake and proceeded to eat it as if he were starving. He didn’t say a word, too busy munching and pushing more bites into his already full mouth, not bothering to clean the cream from his lips while he swallowed with loud gulps.

Kazunari just stared, amused, and since the man wouldn’t tear his eyes from the plate, he took his time scrutinizing his unusual looks. Satoshi was indeed short and rather slim, his face round and notably tanned. Just a regular Japanese. His hair though… it was sort of copper-colored, resembling that of blond foreigners, yet it didn’t seem dyed. Was he born like that? Was he maybe a half gaijin? He recalled those ultranationalist doctrines that warned against interracial marriages, and the aberrant breed they would give birth to. Fallacious propaganda for ignorant people.

Then he remembered. Identically colored fur had covered his body on that morning. It was just the natural color of a Mujina, he presumed.

Once he had finished, Satoshi muttered an awkward thank you and headed upstairs again. Kazunari was too absorbed in the new finding to stop him.

*

You can come have dessert tonight as well” Kazunari invited from outside Satoshi’s room.

He tried to offer him sweets every night, had even started baking them himself, since it seemed the only thing that lured his guest into spending some time with him. Not that it was any quality time; Satoshi eating nonstop while Nino tried to dig in a bit deeper, to take their still flimsy bond further. He had not found any intimidating attribute in him so far, in fact, his character seemed pretty conventional, if not a bit absentminded.

He wasn’t able to coax a single word from him most of times, the guy apparently capable of spending hours in complete silence. His prodding served no purpose, but neither did it seem to bother the other man as long as he had something to gulp down. So he dared take a step further one night, caging Satoshi when he was about to leave the table.

Why don’t you stay a while longer?”

Satoshi eyed him briefly, then took some steps back, uncertainty displayed in his movements. Was he becoming defensive all of a sudden? Was he nervous perhaps?

You could sit and relax with me for a while” Kazunari offered while standing up, leading the way to a small living room next to the lobby.

He kept delivering those ambiguous messages, not that his interlocutor caught any of the innuendo-laced jokes. He frequently wondered if the man had ever had a partner.

Satoshi looked lost, of course, but followed him either way. He sat in one of the new and confortable armchairs while Kazunari opened a book. He was far from feeling confortable, his back crouching and his gaze cast down, giving the other man the chance to study him as if he were his personal guinea pig. He only snapped out of his reclusion once Kazunari stood up and told him goodnight. He didn’t move an inch nor greet him back.

Minutes later Kazunari heard the familiar footsteps drawing near his threshold. The bizarre guy would lurk forever while he feigned to be asleep once again, wondering why the heck both of them behaved in such a laughable manner. Strange as it might seem, Kazunari enjoyed the eerie attention, but sometimes, only sometimes, he still feared that Satoshi would go nuts one day, for the behavior towards him was totally contradictory. Maybe the animal inside him was waiting to take the wheel and eat him alive just as the old lady had presaged.

And wasn’t that an agreeable kind of horror. Under his vigilant gaze, Kazunari was engulfed by slumber, and as in previous nights, the quiet sentry prevented him from having any hideous nightmare.

*

Kazunari had just entered the village shop when he was addressed with vicious animosity.

“Get the fuck outta here bastard” a middle aged man hissed, looking at him with cold eyes. An older woman standing next to him assented, her gesture just as hostile.

“Don’t harass the kid… he’s not a menace but the one in danger.”

“You’re too indulgent Nobuko-san, have you forgotten who this scoundrel is? He retorted, malicious disdain tainting his words.

“No. Of couse not. That’s why young man… he’s a Noguchi, wherever he goes, darkness will follow him.”

“Back to your stories mother? Didn’t I tell you to leave the matter alone?” The shopkeeper had reappeared in the middle of the fuss.

“Well, tell this customer of yours the same, always bad-mouthing the poor Noguchi boy.”

So that was how the elder woman had identified him weeks ago. He was the infamous newcomer everyone was talking shit about. Not willing to be bullied any longer, he left the place without the food supplies he had come for.

He was still fuming mad when his eccentric guest arrived home that night. He was sitting on the entrance stairs this time and Satoshi neared the building rather shyly, his naked body not the best of presentations.

“Don’t you worry… not going stare at your wee wee.”

His tone was slightly scornful, but Satoshi loosened up either way. He had started to understand Kazunari’s cutting words were no more than harmless sarcasm. He approached the doorway and sat one step behind Kazunari, who was hunching and focused his wrinkled frown on the grass.

“Bad day?” This man could mitigate half his infuriation with just two words. His voice had a pleasant, even curing quality to it.

“Bad time.” The chirping crickets filled the silence between their scarce words.

Kazunari remained careful enough not to look his way, but even so, he couldn’t help being distracted by the water droplets running down Satoshi’s bronzed calves. It seemed implausible, but even being inches apart, he could still feel the body heat the other man emanated.

“I’m not welcome either you know? Unlike you, I might have lived within humans all my life, yet I don’t belong anywhere.”

Satoshi told him some of his fellows had lived among humans. But he wasn’t prone to do same. It would be too risky. “I lose conscience of who I am when transforming. Sometimes I come to my senses to find that I’m kilometers away from this house.” Kazunari had to force his eyes to keep looking ahead, for he really wished to see the other’s expression. He rarely spoke about his condition.

“I have no intention of living a lie… no will to try to be something I am not, always fearful of being found and surely annihilated, just like my fellows were before I was forced to move here. There’s no gain for us when playing to be normal.”

Maybe Kazunari should stop pretending, stop trying to fit and do the same. Disappear.

*

He dreamt of his family that night, of how they would cherish and protect him – until they suddenly turned into demons that would restlessly pursue him across the endless corridors of the old manor.

Satoshi was awoken by piercing screams. He was about to break into Kazunari’s room to make sure he was alright, but his feet couldn’t move past the door.

He had easily looked after him each night, watching from the distance when he couldn’t be caught by the sleeping man. But he was not eager to let the other how much he cared, and he would have to wake him, even touch him if he were to enter his room.

He hadn’t been near a human in ages, and it was indeed easier with Kazunari, but he needed to set boundaries. He was afraid of hurting him, terrified of the harm he could cause the delicate man if he lost control, if he turned into the other near him. The delusional man harbored the stupid idea of regarding him as a suitable friend; he probably believed they could happily share this house forever.

If only he knew.

*

Kazunari made another trip to Kumamoto city, this time spending a fair amount of money in the shopping area. He returned to Minamata with lots of bags and a stupid smile on his face. He felt something akin to hysterical anticipation.

Later on, the man he had been waiting for entered the house, and Kazunari silently followed his steps towards the upper floor.

What are these?” Satoshi sometimes gave the impression of being quite obtuse when he was confused.

Well… I bought them for you. Those will suit you better than the clothes I lend you.” Silence ensued. “So… I’ll be downstairs. Come in about ten minutes alright?” The banquet was almost ready, and Kazunari couldn’t repress the excitement any longer.

I’d rather not.” Kazunari’s bright mood was cut off by the dry response.

But… I bought tuna for tonight… and some fancy choco-”

You didn’t have to.” The man by the door shut up at this. Something was definitely wrong.Just… leave me alone okay? Don’t come tailing after me anymore.”

Out of all the qualities he could use to describe Satoshi with, being rude had never been one of them. Until then.

He could spit venom just as easily though.

Sure. You can stalk from outside my door later if you change your mind.”

Satoshi’s head snapped to look at him. Kazunari had always tried to keep some sort of modesty around him on those occasions, never looking at the naked man. But what the heck, they were not being subtle at all that night right? He fixed an acrid look on him, taking his time, examining his body in an insolent and unmoved glance until he managed to tear some sort of reaction from the other.

Was that defiance in Satoshi’s eyes?

The glaring battle was nothing but a futile clash of egos, and Kazunari settled for getting out of there before something worse happened.

Back in the kitchen, he munched the apparently delicious treats in utter apathy.

And that was how Ninomiya Kazunari spent his 26th birthday night.

*



* Some of you asked what a Mujina is. It is more or less described in this chapter, but since I made some changes to it, turning it into a bigger and much more dangerous animal, here are some links that describe the original creature, a shapeshifter from Japanese folklore that resembles a badger.

Ryoan_Mujina







 
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