|Will you look at the time...
||[Aug. 28th, 2005|04:09 am]
The All-Holy Shrine to Flut!
|||||johnny rzeznik - i'm still here||]|
Poor community has been neglected. *pets it* Rem-chan proposed a challenge to me the other day - using the title "The Brightest Star", each of us had to write a fic revolving around that. Didn't matter who it was about. I was clueless for a while but this idea came to me in the shower and I couldn't resist. So...
Nothing scary or explicit. Random Z/R fluffiness. Some Zack!insanity, >.>
Apologies to Starry; I recycled a reference we've used before. You'll know. *bows low*
The Brightest Star
His master was making some sort of strange noise.
Rem could hear it from the balcony, where he stood stoically watching the city around him. The sun was beginning to set, crimson rays of light flickering through the giant shadows of the skyscrapers. He felt above it all; they had claimed one of the highest apartments they could find, the view not mattering nearly as much as the breeze that made its way to their windows from across the sea. Because he'd always loved to fly, Zack had told him, and this was the closest he could get while on the ground. The closest to heaven.
Closing his eyes, he listened to the world around him, the domestic noises of the people below, the dim shouts and the roaring vehicles and the blazing sirens, the gentle whistle of the wind, and finally, quietest of all but still so clear in his ears, that... noise, coming from the kitchen.
It was baffling, really. So achingly familiar, a word on the back of his mind and the very tip of his tongue, waiting desperately to be remembered. He wanted to. Remembering things on his own prevented him from asking, and that was often embarrassing. He had chosen an infuriatingly humourous master, one who never hesitated to tease.
Though, he had to admit, it was never in a cruel manner, and the answer he received was usually worth a little embarrassment. Usually.
The memory wouldn't come, however, and finally he gave in, surrendering his position and stepping back inside the apartment to see what his master and companion was up to.
Cooking, of course. They hadn't been in the apartment very long, and Rem had yet to master the art of preparing meals, despite the fact that he had no need of them. But his master kept him well fed; there was no reason why he shouldn't learn how to return the favour.
"Master?" he called faintly from the doorway, peering in as the man tossed vegetables into some sort of sizzling mixture.
Zack glanced back, not missing a beat - he remembered that term, at least, and felt a little proud of himself for it - and smiled to see him standing there. "Yo, Rem. I was wondering when you'd come see what's for dinner. You almost missed the show."
Rem blinked, utterly baffled, which only made his master laugh. "What... was that noise?"
"Eh?" Zack raised an eyebrow, tossing another vegetable into the pot. The mix sizzled, nearly bubbling over. "That?"
Shaking his head, Rem took another step forward, studying him carefully. "It was... from you, master."
There was a moment's silence, and then Zack pursed his lips. Suddenly the sound returned. At Rem's affirmation, another grin crossed Zack's lips. "It's called humming, silly. Didn't your world have any of that?"
"... Humming." Rem mulled over the word a few times, then nodded again. "It has been a long time since I heard it, master."
"I'll bet. Demons don't seem like the musical type." Shaking his head in amusement, Zack returned to the food. "You caught me at my worst. I'm not too good at it."
"I would not know."
There was yet another pause, both standing in silence, the faint hiss of the stew - Rem remembered again, or at least he thought he remembered - their only interruption. And then Zack began to hum again.
Rem listened this time, more curious than anything, wondering what it was or what it meant, why his master was doing it and why he even cared. But most of the things his master did were beyond his understanding.
So, as always, he asked.
"What is it that you are... humming?"
Zack halted again, curving his head back, surprised. "Oh, that? It's just a kid's song. No idea why... ah, maybe. Mom used to sing all kinds of stuff when she was cooking. She was cheerful like that, y'know?" At Rem's blank look, he continued blithely. "Anyway, this one's... uh... Sunshine or something. Pretty cheerful stuff, if a little lame."
Rem's brow furrowed. "I am unfamiliar with the name... are there words, then?"
Zack smirked. "'Course there are. But I wouldn't subject you or the song to my voice."
"... But I do not know it."
Silence again. Zack stared at him. "You want to learn how to sing?"
Inwardly, Rem cursed, his cheeks faintly pink. "No!" he blurted out, then composed himself a scant moment later. "... No. I simply wish to know what it is you are singing."
"Humming," Zack corrected mildly.
Zack started humming again, and Rem felt like sulking. He wasn't exactly sure why.
".... are my sunshine..."
Rem's head shot up then, eyes widening a little. His master's back was still turned away, but the words were distinct now, replacing the humming sound with a voice carrying a more musical lilt, a quiet, steady baritone that was unmistakably Zack's.
"You make me happy, when skies are grey. You'll never know, dear..."
"Don't interrupt!" Zack quipped playfully, spinning around to face him, body swaying in a decidedly strange way. His master, he decided, had some very odd cooking methods. What made it all the more strange was when Zack swung an arm around his waist and dragged him closer, trying to get him to move along.
"Master!" Rem protested somewhat helplessly, eyes wide in confusion. "What are you doing?"
"Aww," Zack's smile wilted a little, "Will I ever get you to do anything without whining about it?"
"...I am not whining! I am... I am confused!"
"Then just move!" his master replied cheerfully. His grip then tightened when Rem tried to escape. "Not what I meant!"
"You'll never know, dear, how much I love you..."
"Please don't taaaake my suuunshine awaaaaay!"
"Master," Rem tried again, looking quite pitiful, "This is very... disconcerting!"
"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping... what? You wanted to know the words!" Zack spun him around, pulling him back before he could skitter out of reach.
"I never said I wished to... do this!"
Zack laughed, and the swaying merely continued. Rem pouted, his lip jutting out in a way that was extremely cute in Zack's mind, and he told him so. This only served to increase said pout, which made him want to kiss it, which, of course, made him do just that.
Rem stopped pouting instantly, and a moment later he stopped protesting, too.
"I'll always love you," came a soft, musical whisper in his ear, a body pressed against his, the movement slowing to a gentle rocking on the balls of his feet, "And make you happy..."
Swallowing hard, Rem opened his mouth, wanting to speak, to find a voice somehow. He couldn't sing - didn't know how anymore. If he ever did. Surely he had once; he'd been human, and was this not a human trait?
Yet his master was not human, and he still...
The stood like that for what seemed like a long time, their easy movements gradually slowing to a halt, until finally Zack pulled back, murmuring a faint apology into his hair. At Rem's questioning look, he shrugged, smiling helplessly. "Told you," he responded, "I'm terrible at it. But in my defense you did ask me to."
Rem fidgeted. "I... did not think it was so terrible..."
Zack's lip quirked up at that. "Says the one who hasn't heard any singing in how many centuries?"
"... Even so."
His master grinned, shaking his head. "Even so. Thanks anyway."
He went back to cooking, while Rem stepped out of the way to sit at the table, watching him add spices and sauces and the gods - or whatever - knew what else. He puzzled over the words; somehow it didn't seem complete, didn't come together the way a song should. He had no idea how he knew this, but the knowledge was there just the same. But his master wasn't continuing, not even humming the song anymore.
He hesitated a moment, then softly spoke up. "Master, am... am I..."
"...Hmm?" Zack didn't look up, stirring the meal dutifully. "What is it?"
More fidgeting, more hesitation. It was infuriating, really, how easily his master could get him so flustered. "Am I... your... sun...?"
His cheeks were pure crimson by then, nearly glowing despite the thin lines of green already shining on his skin. Which, he realized, may have been the whole point of the song.
The blush intensified, as Zack finally turned towards him, studying his expression, his downcast eyes and hunched - obviously embarrassed - posture.
"Are you my sunshine?" his master volunteered, voice somewhat skeptical. Rem seemed to wilt, but nodded reluctantly. And regretted it instantly, wishing he'd had the common sense to shut his mouth and not say a word on the subject.
He heard the spoon make a few more rounds in the pot, somewhat listless, until it stopped, clinking as Zack rested it against the edge. He looked up slowly as Zack crouched in front of him, and was surprised to find not a joke, or a mocking expression, but simply... amusement? A gentle shine in each eye that was deeper than the mako, lighter, somehow.
"I said so, didn't I?" he replied seriously, softly yet firmly tilting Rem's chin up, encouraging the returning smile. "And I don't lie."
Rem finally gave in, lips curving upwards, eyes averting somewhat shyly. "But master," he murmured, "You have lied about plenty of things."
A nod. "Such as how unpleasant your city would be to live in-"
"I told you it was noisy!"
"Or how spicy that dinner was last week-"
"I totally warned you! Not my fault your sense of taste is-"
"Or how mad you really are," Rem finished mildly. Zack bristled slightly, brow furrowed. He couldn't find a suitable response for that one, considering he'd just done a dance routine in the middle of cooking dinner.
"Not the important stuff," he finally muttered, straightening up and scuffing a toe against the floor.
"...Indeed. But everything else is to be treated with a healthy level of skepticism."
"Damn, I like you better when you're embarrassed."
Rem made a face, then quickly recovered his composure before Zack could notice. "Which is, I'm certain, why you continue to find new ways to embarrass me at every opportunity."
Zack snickered. "Sounds about right."
The demi-fiend didn't respond right away, caught up in yet another whirlwind of thoughts, emotions once lost to him and often overwhelming in their abrupt, unexpected return. His master did that all too often; made him think and made him stop thinking, made him live yet want to fall, made him breathe and left him breathless.
Made him love and made him wish that life would stop being so damn complicated. He had forgotten, among so many things, how difficult being human really was.
And yet... here we are. Two non-humans, one living as a human and the other... learning, somehow. Slowly.
I wonder... if someday I will be as comfortable with this half-life as he...?
"If I am sunshine," he murmured, lifting his head once more, "Then what are you...?"
A creature of darkness, one such as I... should not be the one to shine so brightly for the world... so why...
His eyes trailed back towards the balcony, as Zack looked back at him, confused, and suddenly the answer was there, hidden in the city skies and the light of his master's golden gaze.
"Stars," Rem answered for himself, looking forward again with a blank expression that belied the softness of his words. "You are a star."
Zack blinked, then his expression shifted to one of amusement again. "A star, eh? What am I starring in?"
"Your life, of course," Rem replied, somewhat confused. "What else is there?"
"... we have got to get a TV in this place." Another blink, another blank stare. Zack sighed. "Okay, so if I'm the star, who's the director?"
"... I... perhaps we are thinking of different things..."
Zack was quiet for a moment, fighting to keep a straight face, then he burst out laughing, reaching out and patting Rem on the back. "I know, you twit," he grinned, shaking his head. The demon blushed again. "It was a joke. But just because you think I'm sexy doesn't mean I'm a heavenly body."
Rem stood straight up, staring at him incredulously, as Zack laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
...I just... cannot win...
"I... was trying to be serious," he lowered his gaze, as Zack wiped at his eyes helplessly. "Trying to... ah... return the... favour. But I do not know any songs... let alone songs about stars."
"You'd sing for me?" Zack asked skeptically.
"I did not say that!"
"I didn- did not!"
"Rem," Zack cut in, his own voice quieting down, laughter fading away as he lifted the spoon to taste the stew, "I appreciate the gesture, I really do. But I don't really get it."
That makes two of us... Of course, Rem wasn't the type to give in so easily - stubborn to a fault, Zack liked to say - so he clenched his fists, set his jaw, and told his master firmly, "We both... shine in our own way, do we not? I am... more obvious than you, more... physical. I do not have a choice; this body was chosen for me, forced upon me. I shine because I lack the ability to change my very nature. Is that... not like the sun?"
Zack didn't reply, letting his hand fall from the spoon, studying him. Encouraged by the attention, Rem continued. "Stars... they are hidden. While the sun shines they are... gone. And even at night," he waved a hand towards the balcony doors, "In the brightness of the city, they are always so dark. I... cannot see the stars here. I cannot see their brightness but... they are still there." His voice lowered, pursing his lips. "They are... always there."
Zack was staring at him. He fidgeted again, uncomfortable, eyes shifting away, even as he spoke a final time. "You are... like that. It seems as if you are hidden, or hiding yourself, and no one can... really see you... yet I know you are here. With me," he added, cheeks reddening again. "Though... though the sun may leave... every day..." Zack flinched a little, looking away for the first time since he'd begun speaking. "It leaves but... the stars remain. And... the sun has... nowhere else to go. So it will... always return."
He took a step forward, hesitant, then touched Zack's cheek, turning his head to face him once more. "It will always return," he said again, his voice a mere whisper, "To be in the sky with the stars..."
He'd never before seen his master caught so... witless, for lack of a better word. He looked as if he'd been slapped, as if someone had taken a gun and shot him through the heart and his body had yet to register the fact that he ought to be dead. It worried Rem a little; had what he said been so shocking? Was it wrong, or bad, in some way? Was his master angry, or would he hate him? Or-
... or would Zack suddenly wrap his arms around him, hugging him close, chin rested in the crook of his shoulder, one hand fisted in his hair...
"Idiot," he murmured, nearly inaudible. "Idiot, you only tell me these things when you have to... not when..."
When you need to hear it, Rem finished silently, wincing imperceptively, slowly lifting his arms to hold him back. When I have disappointed you, upset you, left you... when I fail at the one thing you wish of me...
"Master," he said instead, calmly, eyes closing, cheek rested against the dark mass of Zack's hair, "You are shaking..."
"I'm laughing. Can't you tell?"
"... I cannot..." Liar.
And then they were rocking against each other once more, slowly, almost tenderly, to a song in their hearts, in their souls, the melodies intertwining endlessly in the silence, the faint scent of spices blending with their own.
Rem tried. He really did. The memory was there, trapped within his mind, a rhythm and a tune he couldn't hold, a voice he couldn't recognize as his own. Something human, something achingly mortal, clawing and fighting to rise to life even as the demon within pushed it back, seeking to replace it with hunger instead.
Why dance with a soul meant to be devoured?
Why kill when a song brings so much life?
"You know how," Zack whispered, fingers curving close to his neck, tracing the markings close to his jaw line. "You do..."
"I... do not..." He didn't want to say it. To refuse would be to limit himself, to trap the memory forever, when it was already so close to being free. He didn't want to deny the humanity that lived, still lived, had lived despite all he'd done to free himself of it. He wanted to think and stop thinking, to live and to fall, to be who he was and be human, as well.
He wanted to breathe and wanted that breath taken away, now and always.
"I'll always love you, and make you happy, if you will only say the same..."
And suddenly it was back, in a rush, the melody returned to him, eyes clenching as if to hold it there, keeping it close, arms tightening as Zack gave him the music, gave him the words he needed to hear to find himself again.
"But if you leave me, to love another, you'll regret it all some day..."
Never, Rem vowed silently, shaking his head against Zack's, stroking his hair, as the trembling abated, as the lies of laughter disappeared, as he sang the words he could not sing before, the ones he was too afraid to sing.
"Please don't take my sunshine away..."
Never. And the memory was there, mingling eternally with the vow, as Rem began to hum along, holding the brightest star of his world close, so close to his heart.