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[KinKi AU] The Painter and The Carpenter

Hmm, definitely didn't plan to have so many AUs out and about. =P

This is sort of a side product: started it long ago while I was grasping for something the feel of what would later become Light's End Water's Edge, and now pulled out to completion to exercise my angst muscles for the long-owed shinigami!KinKi AU.


Disclaimer: This writing is fictional and has no commercial purpose. Characters are real persons belonging to themselves.
Pairing: Very loosely KinKi
Genre: Atmospheric old-time-ish AU
Rating: G

Summary: The painter comes to a valley where the carpenter lives.


---


This is a place like many others, the painter says, a stopover in his search for beautiful sights across the land. This is going to be added to his repertoire, like those others.

And then he will leave.

It is important to leave. It is important to move on, to other places he has not seen, to see if perhaps there is a place unlike those he has seen.

The carpenter listens as all these are explained to him. The introduction has stretched longer than he thinks really necessary, but perhaps the painter has sensed his uneasiness about sharing this side of the mountain with a stranger.

He doesn't usually have anything much to worry about. Many visitors have passed through this secluded valley, mostly straying by accident from the mountain path leading to the prosperous South where they hope to find better livelihood. They have no intention nor reason to stay here longer than a week. This place has nothing much to offer them.

He's been enjoying a life of solitude for many years. He always will, even with company. Solitude is a state of mind.


--


The wave of a hand catches his eye.

"I caught some fish," the painter tells him. "Would you join me for the evening meal?"

The carpenter looks at the pile of firewood.

"I feel like having a grill," the painter explains cheerfully. "But that's a lot of effort to spend on just myself. If you'd join me, that'd solve the problem."

It's been years since he last had to decline an offer. He hopes he isn't being rude. "Thanks, but I'm not hungry."

"Oh." The painter looks disappointed. "Next time, then?"

The carpenter gives him an uncertain smile, then walks off towards his workshop.

A few steps after, he turns back. "Ah."

The painter's smile returns hopefully. "Yes?"

"Please be careful with the fire."

"Oh. Sure."

The crackling of flame igniting is cut off as he closes the door, and for a brief moment the indoor air feels a little colder.


--


The carpenter looks out the window in the morning, and is pleased to see no trace of firewood.

The field is quiet. The carpenter looks around. It's been four days; has he left?

But at the riverside sits the painter, blank canvass set up, brushes and paint tubes unemployed on the grass.

The carpenter cannot make out his expression, but his lips are moving, as if talking to the wind; though from the wind the carpenter hears only the rustling of the overhead leaves.

He returns to applying sandpaper on the rim of his wheel, absently waving off a bird who's flown in to perch on his toolbox while he wasn't looking.


--


He doesn't understand paintings.

"What is this?" he asks, holding the framed canvass gingerly.

"The sky," replies the painter.

"But it's brown."

"Yes, the colour of wood." The painter inhales, a fond smile on his lips. "Wood surrounds this place."

The carpenter looks around. Distant trees line the mountain, more green than brown. Anything wooden around here is what he is working on.

"Er," he says after a confused pause. "Well, thanks for this."

The painter gives him a glance, then gently takes the painting back from him. "Perhaps you should have this instead."

The carpenter holds up the substituted gift. "Ah," he says, happy to recognize the depicted objects.

The painter chuckles. "In case you don't come out enough to admire your own workshop from the outside."


--


"A boat?"

"To reach the South without having to cross the mountains," the painter explains.

The carpenter shakes his head. "I don't build boats."

The painter studies his face for a moment. "But you live by the river."

"So...?"

"Don't you travel by water sometimes? Say, to get food and supplies."

"No. There are the roads."

"...Ah."

The painter turns to contemplate the waterway snaking along the hilly landscape.

"Mountain and water," he murmurs.

There he goes again, talking to the wind.

The painter probably sees him straining to hear. "They call brush-and-ink painting 'mountain-water' in the East," he explains. "There's this waterfall painting I saw once, it's magnificent."

The pale autumn sun glistens on his half-smile. "They say it was painted of the falls by the Southern cliffs."

For a brief moment, the carpenter's mind conjures up images of a boat's parts. He knows the basics, and he can bring in the materials in a day or two. A simple one doesn't need any complex machinery to operate.

Then he shakes his head again, albeit more apologetically. "I don't make things that don't move on wheels."


--


As he stands by the river, he senses the painter watching him, probably wondering. He rarely comes out here in the mornings.

He knows the boat is coming because he's been expecting it, but he notes with a tinge of respect that the painter has approached the riverbank at the first sign of disturbance in the water. Keen observation is a skill he can appreciate.

The boat's navigator, who is also its sole occupier, waves at him as he moors.

"How have you been?" the carpenter asks, smiling.

"It's good to see you again." The boatman clasps his arm with a well-muscled hand. "I got your message. You have a passenger for me?"


--


The painting isn't accurate: the wooden cart peeking through the door was unfinished, but already he painted it bright red.

The carpenter looks up from the now-completed cart to the painting hanging on the wall by the window.

His gaze strays to the horizon in the distance, the field empty of wandering artists. The river glistens as it always does, the clear sky is not brown in colour, and the wind is silent in his ears.

Moments later, he stands up to fetch his can of red paint.


--


The gush of waves is concealed in the hard rain, and he hears the visitors only when they knock on his door.

He takes one look at the drenched men, then ushers them in: a longtime friend, and a recent acquaintance.

In front of the fireplace, the painter hands him a rectangular object, thickly wrapped in white canvass.

"I thought I'd show you what 'mountain-water' is like," he says.

"Pity about those others," the boatman says, toweling his hair with a sigh. "The rain came too suddenly."

"It's alright," the painter tells him. "The memory will keep. I can always paint them again."

The carpenter's fingers unwrap the object slowly.

"It's ink, so the edges get smudged a little," the painter says apologetically. "This is the only one I manage to save."

Elegant lines of a waterfall flow and curl among black-and-white cliffs. He sees not the smudges.

The carpenter puts it down carefully. He still doesn't understand paintings, but some meanings are universal.

He says, "Thank you."


--


The boatman stays a day, then looks at the calendar and announces that he has to go.

The painter bids him a safe journey and makes no mention of hitching a ride.

"I didn't know you intended to come back," the carpenter says, when the boat has vanished from view.

The painter doesn't look away from the rippling water. "Do you mind?" he asks.


--


Curiosity wins one day, and the carpenter wants to know what he finds special about this place.

"No one place is just like another," says the painter.

"That's not what you said the first time," says the carpenter.

The painter laughs. "I didn't expect you'd remember that!"

His laughter is bright and free. The carpenter thinks of the flapping wings of the bird who sometimes comes to perch on his workshop window.

The painter catches his gaze.

"What I want to say," he says, "is that no one encounter is just like another, either."


--


They are idling by the river after the grilled fish, contemplating the brown sky.

"You know," the painter says, "I always thought there was some depressing reason for you to live alone here."

The carpenter laughs.

"An incurable illness, maybe. Or a dead fiancee."

The carpenter shakes his head. "You artists have such romantic imaginations."

"But you never seem to gain weight despite all the fish I gave you, either."

The carpenter huffs. "It's how I've always been."

The painter smiles. "Anyway, I'm glad you're not in any sort of predicament. Would you be keen to travel with me come spring?"

The invitation is out of nowhere, and the carpenter is baffled. "What for?"

The painter looks taken aback by that response; he blinks once, then turns away.

The carpenter opens his mouth to apologize, but the painter has spoken up again, and he doesn't sound offended.

"I want to show you the beautiful things I know," he says.


--


He can't find it in him to travel at every turning of the seasons, so the carpenter stays, content in his solitude, and learns to converse with the wind.

The painter leaves. It is important for him to leave, to keep his sights bright and his laughter free, to see things beautiful and ugly to record in his ink, paint, or charcoal.

And every time he returns, to exchange a painting with a promise.

"You'll love the place," the painter says.

And the carpenter says, "Then perhaps I'll go with you in spring."


---


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Comments

faiee
Nov. 22nd, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
OOh, there was so much I loved about this. You beautifully painted the scenes in my head, and I loved how the whole story is just an analogy of their real lives. How one never really leaves, and the other goes out - only to return <3
kireira
Nov. 22nd, 2012 09:46 am (UTC)
Wow, thanks for inferring the analogy! It didn't occur to me before. =P Was just thinking of how their personality difference will play out, and how the encounter doesn't change who they are but sort of adapting and anchoring them to each other. But what you said is a lot deeper. <3
faiee
Nov. 22nd, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
Oh! But that's interesting because it came through anyway! <3

Was just thinking the other day about how even though Koichi does solo stuff, it's really very Kinki-like and he's always stuck to the Johnny's label. Everything is arranged by Kinki's FC etc whereas with Tsuyoshi, his solo stuff aren't promoted by Kinki's FC etc. I know this might be a management issue, but I think it's also because Koichi's solo image is not super far away from the basic JE image whereas Tsuyoshi ventures out a lot further.

But you put all of that in a way that's so much more romantic and pretty and I love you for it <3 I'm glad they're having their real life reunion soon.
kireira
Nov. 22nd, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
Glad it came through! I had it mind something mildly classical.

Your reasoning makes a lot of sense. <3 Kouichi seems to me a very consistent person, he is one core and he's him anywhere and whatever he does (with some amusing results). Tsuyoshi's core is probably much deeper and he's got many layers and facets that are nevertheless all him and his elements. And so I love all the more how they are still so compatible when they come together.