dedication: to all the himikos of the world.
notes: i have nothing to say for myself. don't look at me.
notes2: anyway here have a bunch of dumb oneshots with the same titles as the challenges bc lmao i am uncreative but i also really wanted to write about himiko ssoooo
title: sun killer
summary: You were more than anger, once. — Himiko, Lara/Sam.
You were more than anger, once.
Once, you were a vast, sweeping thing. A whole country, a people, the power beneath your fingertips wide and deep as the oceans around your island. You were soft, and small, and human; determined and bitter and far too smart for your own good. Once, you loved your Stormguard, your general, your priestesses.
Gods, but did you love your priestesses. You loved them so much you died of it.
(And you remember it like this:
You are more than halfway through this body's life, your hair so long that when unbound, it drags behind you like an endless river of ink. The sun shines through the window, hits the mirror and shatters, scatters across your face. For a moment, you catch sight of the sheen of silver-grey at your temples. This body is getting old, but you learned a long time ago that bodies do that. Bodies get old. They decay. They age. They die.
You, however, have far too much to do, to get old. Yamatai will die without you to hold it upright. The Three Kingdoms are very close, now, have eaten each other alive and they will be a monolith given half a chance. You stand between them and utter destruction. There is no one else but you.
You allow Wei's ambassador to leave with his life, and then you send out your Stormguard to find you a new priestess because the body must be one unseen and your Sun sisters have all grown old as you yourself. There are no young ones left except for a few, and they—they are not the one that you need. You see it when you look at them; they are all beautiful, but there is no light inside of them.
But you trust your Stormguard.
And they do not fail you.
A fortnight goes by. The clouds sail across the moon like a widow shadowing her face, but the guard returns in the morning with a gift. A girl. Her name is Hoshi. She is all gawky limbs, wide eyes, teeth-bitten lip, and there is a tremble to her that makes you want to croon.
She is young. She is alive.
You look at her and you think: yes.
"Welcome," you tell her from behind the gold silk splay of your fan. You smile with your eyes when she shifts. She is the one, you can taste it in the air. Amaterasu favours you again, but in this you are not surprised; she is the Sun, and so are you. Like always favours like. "Welcome, Sister."
And following the others, she folds into you like the tide. Bodies are all the same, even yours.)
Hoshi. Star. You loved her, too. A perfect name for a perfect face, a face that should have been yours. She was such a little thing; at the time, you'd wondered if the ceremony wouldn't have broken her—it wouldn't have been the first time, after all—but there had been strength in her hollow-bird bones. Her eyes were bright and quick, and she smiled so nervously out of the corner of her mouth. She was daughter and sister and friend, and you loved her, you did.
But that was a very long time ago.
And dying was such an uncomfortable affair.
Madness crept up on you. You were not always mad, as you were not always angry. The dying planted the seed of it, the white-hot burn of Hoshi's knife sliding in between the ribs that were hers-and-yours. Because you see, parts of you were already inside of her. That was the way of the ritual: burn out the old to let in the new. Parts of you had already settled, begun to wind her body to your will, and the dying cleaved those parts away.
Some of you is dead but most of you is not. Perhaps that is what madness is.
But that cleaving was the start. A tear, a rip, a hole in the world. You unbecame, unbecome, your existence unravelling like a broken spool of thread and your mind right along with it. Centuries you have lost to the rage, centuries more to the sleep. You watched your empire crumble as your priestesses buried you, and your fury shook the world.
And Yamatai died.
Gods, forgive me.
You could not move. You could not breathe. Your beautiful Sun Sisters, so brilliant in mourning white as they laid you to rest. The skies had been dark for days, and they would be dark for days still, for months and years until your fury waned and the madness set in. But you did not know, in that first little while, what the future would hold. You knew only that your body was dead with you trapped inside, and Hoshi's body was dead, and that you had been abandoned. Your priestesses prayed every day for respite.
The gods did not answer. The storms raged on, and so did you.
Your people left when your rage did not abate, your court soon after. Fans closed, kimono glinting in a rare break in the weather, their black teeth so stark in their white faces, oshiroi already beginning to trickle off with their sweat, and the village was empty. The shutters clacking against each other was so loud in your ears. They would leave you, you who had protected and sacrificed and destroyed?
The madness took you, then.
You lost your own name. You lost your name and your reason and your temper, lost it to the seething vicious thing inside of you, smiling meanly up at the dead innards of your eyeballs, swearing that as long as you were dead and trapped and unable to leave, so would be everyone else.
(Two thousand years later, you have only begun to recover it; the island is what you have left. It is part of you, now, the shell of your body long since abandoned for the sand and the sea. It is a tether, but an unwanted one. Life is fleeting. Death is even moreso.)
But you were angry.
You do not remember the killing time, but you know it must have happened. Their bodies littered the beaches, their kimono sun-orange in the morning light. Your Sun sisters. Beautiful and dead, as they always should have been. The crack of their skulls against the rocks was the lullaby you sang yourself for the next hundred years.
Only your Stormguard remained. They would leave you for nothing, and that was good. You had been left enough.
And now, two millennia later, there is this:
She does not look like Hoshi. This is what strikes you first. The girl that your general brings before you does not look like the body you crave. But it is a warm soft thing, the pound of a heart and a brain in tandem, the pulse in her throat so visible. You still cannot move, cannot breathe, and for a moment anger manifests as a red haze across your vision. The wind howls a flurry of ice. You want to feel it against your skin.
The girl shakes with cold. Weakness, you think. She will not survive the ritual. You want a body but not this body, and yet any body is better than no body. The rage rises, crests, falls. You will find something better soon. Soon.
From very far away, you think you hear fireworks as your general screams into the night.
Here is what you learn, in the long split-seconds that you share a body with another. It is a peculiar thing, taking one's body without their express permission. Simpler in some ways, harder in others; it requires brute force of will to take someone's body from them which you have in spades, but it comes at the cost of experiencing everything that they have ever experienced. It is a defense mechanism, you learned this long ago, as the soul does whatever it can to remain in control.
Darkness, first. And then: her name is Sam. You try it out, Sah-ahm, but the word is foreign and does not roll from your tongue. Nishimura is easier, closer to a language you understand. She is bright-eyed and laughing, always, a clever girl with clever fingers. There is a woman with an empty smile burning in the dark sticky place inside of her, a tall spindly man wearing round glass circles on his face, long periods of waiting in sickly off-white halls full of ugly chairs. There are endless lectures in unfamiliar words, the cloying scent of jasmine incense, and a small dark knot of want and fear and adoration wrapped around a pale ghost of a girl called Lara.
The feelings are easiest, as they always are. Feelings are universal, and though you have not felt anything but anger in a very long time, you know what it is to love a woman.
Kuchidome, chīsana ichi, you tell her, merciless in your kindness. Kurō shimasen. Sore wa nagaiai kizutsukeru koto wa arimasen.
The girl makes a dying sound. This does not sway you, because you are not a child.
You hold her soul down by the throat, smile with your black teeth, and begin to strip her away.
notes3: who isn't gay i ask you
*****Kuchidome, chīsana ichi. Kurō shimasen. Sore wa nagaiai kizutsukeru koto wa arimasen, translates to Hush, little one. Do not struggle. It will not hurt for long, ACCORDING TO GOOGLE ANYWAY LMAO if anyone actually speaks japanese could check that for me, that'd be great and also i'll kiss you