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Bringing Life to the Underworld

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Sawamura stopped his trek and turned around in the mostly clear field he was in.  The grass, if it could be called that for there was no sun and therefore no earthly vegetation in the Underworld, was short and a sickly yellow color.  Most of the color in the Underworld came from those who inhabited it, the landscape was mostly bleached in monotone of gray. Sawamura had always noted it absently but never thought about it too hard.  Olympus itself wasn’t too colorful, mostly done in whites and golds to appease the Gods and Goddesses who liked that. It was Earth that came in vibrant colors, more than Sawamura could name.

 

As a being who could walk all three worlds Sawamura never gave much thought about how ones dreary surroundings could affect them.  He never considered the inability to leave a place if it began weighing too heavily on his soul.

 

“Inuoka?”  Sawamura turned towards where the Hellhound was trying to hide, saw him flinch before slowly making his way towards Sawamura with a lowered head and long tail tucked between his legs.  Sawamura shook his head with a small sigh. He didn’t mind the guards who followed him around the Underworld when his husband was too busy, or as of right now too moody, to assist him. Many of the Gods tended to forget Sawamura was one too, even if they considered him a minor one but it eased his husbands mind so Sawamura never said a word about it.  There were nasty things hidden away in the Underworld though Sawamura never tended to wander far from the castle proper.

 

“Yes my lord?”  Inuoka was a rather pathetic sight.  He was twice the size of Sawamura, pitch black except for the exoskeleton that existed on his skull and back like armor made of bones.  His eyes glowed with the dim light of the Underworld fires, his paws bigger than Sawamura’s torso yet he cowered around the God. Sawamura did not blame him, most didn’t fear him for what he could do but for the God they thought he was forced to marry.

 

Sawamura had never been forced to do anything he didn’t want to do in his very long life.  People tended to forget that or outright ignore it for he was just a lowly God of Spring. None of that mattered right now, though it was an old wound.

 

“Is this land used for anything?”  Sawamura asked as he motioned around to the empty space.  Inuoka’s pointed ears flickered up, no long flat against his head as he looked around.

 

“I don’t think so my lord.”  Inuoka trotted around the field, nose held close to the ground.  “It doesn’t smell of anyone.” The Hellhound reported after stopped in front of Sawamura once more, some of his nerves disappearing when he began to realize he wasn’t about to get yelled at for following Sawamura around.

 

“Good then this will be my land.”  Sawamura smiled as he glanced down at Inuoka’s large paws.  “Can you dig with this?” Inuoka lifted one paw, looking at it as if seeing it for the first time.

 

“Yes?  I think so?”  Inuoka put the paw down and Sawamura crossed his arms over his chest.

 

“Well which is it?”  Sawamura asked, watching in amusement as the Hellhound stood up straight in attention.

 

“Yes I can dig anything my lord needs! Do you need me to hide a body?”  Inuoka’s tail wagged behind him. Sawamura couldn’t tell if the Hellhound was just happy to be of use or if the idea of hiding bodies truly made him happy but he shrugged those thoughts away.

 

“No, no bodies.”  Sawamura looked thoughtfully around.  Plants did tend to grow larger and lusher when fed with remains.  “Not yet.” He amended softly because he wasn’t sure if what he had planned would work, or if it did would it help his surly husband?  “Inuoka, this will be between just you and me. Unless Kuroo asks you about it directly, tell no one.” Sawamura wouldn’t make the Hellhound swear a secret to him when they both knew his allegiance, his very existence belonged to the God of the Underworld.

 

Inuoka looked scared once more but he nodded his agreement easily enough.

 

They began to work.  It turned out that Hellhounds, or at least Inuoka, were excellent diggers.  He tore up the field in no time at all and Sawamura was left with black soil that felt rough and heavily textured in his hand.

 

Sawamura had been married to Kuroo for centuries now and he thought he was attuned to his husband quite well but something had been off the past couple visits.  It had started a century or so ago. Kuroo had greeted Sawamura with his usual enthusiasm when he came down to the Underworld but near the end something changed.  Slowly, so gradually that Sawamura hadn’t noticed it until it had gotten completely out of control, Kuroo began to spend less time with him. He all but disappeared completely the closer it came to Sawamura having to leave once more.

 

Gods were fickle creatures, often thoughtlessly hurtful in their actions.  They were considered with themselves first and foremost. Sawamura, as a minor God, had been at the mercy of them for his entire existence.  He didn’t enjoy it but he had gotten very good at getting what he wanted out of them, which was mostly to be left alone. Sawamura had thought Kuroo wasn’t like those Gods who so enjoyed toying with others.

 

Kuroo never strayed, he didn’t flirt or woo anyone who wasn’t his husband.  From what Sawamura understood Kuroo did not care much for the other gods and he hardly had time to run around amongst the mortals when he was ruling over the Underworld.  But there had been a moment, a short hurtful moment where Sawamura questioned his husband.

 

Had Kuroo simply grown bored as the other Gods and Goddesses so often did?  Did he regret his marriage to Sawamura? It certainly seemed as if he didn’t want to spend even the six months with Sawamura.  Perhaps Sawamura had been naive to think Kuroo was different from the others.

 

Yet despite what others might think of their union, Sawamura knew his husband.  Knew Kuroo well enough to know that if the other many no longer wanted a relationship he would just say so.  Then why the sudden distance? Why the horrible, moody attitude? It wasn’t just towards Sawamura, the others in the castle darted out of Kuroo’s path when he stomped through.

 

Sawamura thought he knew the answer and it made him love the silly God all the more for it.

 

Something had to be done about Kuroo’s bad attitude though so Sawamura had hatched a plan.  All he needed was a cleared area and his own brand of power that was uniquely fitted to this situation.  Except it wasn’t going to plan.

 

“It died.”  Inuoka gave a soft, pitiful whine as they both stared down at the clearly dead little tree.  Sawamura touched one of the withered leaves, watching as it broke off and drifted to the newly tilled soil.

 

“I need-” A noise pulled Sawamura’s attention off to the side.  He saw skinny limbs try to hide in almost the exact same spot Inuoka had tried to hide the day before.  “Inuoka.” Sawamura said with disapproval, watched as the Hellhound hunched in on himself to try and appear smaller.

 

“I’m sorry they must have followed me.”  Inuoka apologized, another whine coming out of him.

 

“You might as well come out!”  Sawamura yelled over to the side.  He could put them to work too.

 

Three figures stumbled out from behind their hiding spot looking varying degrees of ashamed and worried.  The tallest of the bunch, a reed thing creature with long silver hair and arms so long they nearly brushed the ground strode forward first.  Sawamura knew many of the Gods found the creatures of the Underworld distasteful. Creatures such as sires and nymphs were always stunningly beautiful, centaurs and satyrs were graceful and majestic.  The creatures of the underworld could never be considered beautiful or majestic.

 

“What are you doing?”  Lev ambled over, slowly sinking into the soft ground with each step.  This went unnoticed by him until he was buried up to his waist and could no longer move forward.  Lev had a habit of hovering over Sawamura and trying to intimidate him into answering questions. Sawamura was in no mood to deal with that nonsense.

 

“Lev.”  Inuoka’s voice was pained as he laid flat on his belly on the ground.  Lev looked down at himself before trying to use his pale, long stick arms to push himself out.  Shibayama worriedly hovered around him, black cape hiding his ghastly form. Tentacles appeared from the cape, trying to pull Lev out of the black soil.

 

“Please stop, you might pull off his arm and Lord Kuroo isn’t in any mood to put him back together.”  Teshiro requested, spectral form fading in and out of focus.

 

Unlike the creatures the other Gods had made, Kuroo had turned the deceased mortals into the creatures of the underworld.  There were a few like Kozume who were made differently but for the most part they were former mortals. The other Gods found this distasteful but Sawamura had always found the occupants of the castle quite interesting.  These were the newest additions and Sawamura found it funny how they all managed to find their way to him.

 

“Are you finished?”  Sawamura asked, head tilting as Lev splayed his long limbs over the soil, trying to reach for Sawmaura but failing miserably.  Sawamura wasn’t even sure what Lev thought he could do if he did manage to get ahold of Sawamura. Sawamura was a God and while this land refused to grow things and keep them living-

 

Sawamura turned towards the little dead tree as his thoughts came crashing into him.  He ignored Levs whines as he thought things through. This was the Underworld, there was no sun or rain to sustain any vegetation but Sawamura had seen things growing.  Only the dead flourished here, which was why Kuroo had decided to build his army out of the deceased.

 

So perhaps Sawamura just needed to approach this not as the God of Harvest but the God who married the Lord of the Underworld.  This world did not listen to Sawamura in the same way it did to its true master, but it didn’t ignore Sawamura either.

 

“Unless you want to spend the rest of eternity being stuck there then I suggest you stop speaking and do as I say.”  Sawamura waited a moment before urging the ground to release Lev. It seemed reluctant to do so but did as it was asked.  Lev shook the dirt off himself and clamored to his full height, swirling green eyes looking down at Sawamura warily.

 

“What do you want us to do?”  Lev asked.

 

It took a while to figure out the best way to go about doing things.  It didn’t help that everytime Lev got a little annoying the ground decided to swallow him up, radiating a pleased sense as if it was doing them all a favor.  Sawamura could feel his time slowly draining away. It worried him that Kuroo never sought him out, they hadn’t seen each other in many days and Sawamura would have to go leave the Underworld in less than a month.

 

The truth was Sawamura wasn’t sure what to do if his plan failed or if he didn’t know Kuroo as well as he thought he did.  He never had to question Kuroo’s motives or behavior before, always knew in the back of his head that the other God was doing what he thought best even if he did it in a rather roundabout way.  Kuroo had never done anything that would harm Sawamura in anyway, even at the beginning of their forced union he had always kept a respectful distance. He never pushed even though many would believe it was well within his right.

 

Sawamura had to push his insecurities aside and had to believe in his initial instinct.  If his instincts were wrong and his plan did fail then Sawamura would deal with it but there was no use panicking about something that hadn’t happened.

 

“Wow.”  Inuoka sat beside Sawamura, fiery eyes wide as he looked around.  Teshiro was floating around and Shibayama was carefully touching things with a small tentacle.

 

“It doesn’t really look like it belongs in the Underworld.”  Lev stated, which was true enough.

 

They had made a garden.  Lush and spreading and beautiful.  Nothing looked as if it had come from either the mortal realm or Olympus, they were all uniquely made to flourish in the Underworld.  It had taken Sawamura a long time to figure out what suited the climate here, what would not only survive but thrive. There were no white and golden colors of Olympus, no soft blues or hints of pink but it was still beautiful.  The trees grew on thick gray trunks with a sprawling canopy made of black leaves. The flowers came in vibrant blood reds, bright blues, and bone whites. The grass beneath their feet grew in thick and soft, a dark blue color that was nearly black.

 

“You should go.”  Sawamura said when they all turned as they felt a creeping coldness approach.  Teshiro climbed onto Inuoka, who bowed politely to Sawamura before ushering Lev away.

 

“Good luck.”  Shibayama whispered before following the other Underworld creatures away from the new garden and out of the path of a wrathful god.

 

Sawamura brushed nervous hands over his tunic before turning to face the approaching Lord of the Underworld.  He had grown up on horror stories of that God, the one who tortured and lived amongst the dead. He had always been tall, pale, and ugly in the stories.  He certainly was tall and the pale part was true too but Sawamura had never found him ugly, even when they first met and he appeared arrogant and obnoxious.

 

“Took you long enough.”  Sawamura had left a demanding message for Kuroo hours ago.  He had begun to worry that Kuroo might ignore it, but the other God had never before ignored a request from his husband.

 

“I am-” Kuroo stopped mid-sentence, left speechless for probably what was the first time in his long life.  His eyes widened as they took in the lush garden that had not been there a month prior. “What is this?”

 

“Do you like it?”  Sawamura asked, his tone holding none of the worry that was tightening his stomach.  “I’m thinking of making the entire outside of the castle like this.” He hadn’t at first, not until he saw the look on Kuroo’s face.

 

“It’ll die when you leave.”  Kuroo’s expression shut off completely, amber eyes turning black as he looked away from the garden and Sawamura.

 

“No it won’t, I’ve made sure of it.”  Sawamura stepped closer to Kuroo and like a moth to a flame Kuroo could no easier resist looking at his husband.  Sawamura smiled carefully, fingers reaching up to gently caress Kuroo’s sharp jaw. “So you can look at me without scowling, good to know.”

 

“Sawamura-” Kuroo started and Sawamura could see the other God already pulling away, distancing himself once more but now that Sawamura had him he wasn’t going to let him slip out of his grasp so easily.

 

“I had thought you’d grown bored of me.”  That knocked the expressionless look right off of Kuroo’s face.

 

“How could you think that?”  Kuroo asked, stepping closer to Sawamura unconsciously, wanting to give comfort instinctually.  It gave Sawamura the courage he needed to continue on.

 

“I’ve seen it often enough amongst the other Gods, it’s common with mortals too.”  Sawamura stated his fear, tried not to joke on his own words. “This marriage was not your idea.”  They had barely known each other when they were forced to marry, no more than a few shallow words had been exchanged between them.  Sawamura knew himself to be opinionated and stubborn, an immovable object when he chose it.

 

“There is no one else for me.”  Kuroo stated strongly, flecks of amber coming back to his cold eyes.

 

“So then your behavior is due to missing me?”  Sawamura asked with a growing smile. “You are sulking because you don’t wish for me to leave?”  Kuroo scowled but there was no hiding the truth now.

 

“If we are to live another ten thousand years I will have only spent five thousand with you.”  Kuroo spoke sharply but none of that ire was aimed at Sawamura.

 

“You then thought to spend that limited time being surly and ignoring me?”  Kuroo’s mouth opened and closed a few times, trying to defend himself but coming up empty handed.  Sawamura touched the end of his long hair, noting the knotted mess it had become. Usually they spent their first night in the bath, Sawamura would spend a great amount of time washing and combing out every knot.  It felt as if it had been years since they last did that and Kuroo’s hair showed the clear neglect.

 

“I’ve upset you.”  Kuroo said gravely, finally realizing the full spectrum of what he had done.

 

“Just a small hurt.”  Sawamura pulled on the caught strand of hair, yanking Kuroo down so they were eye to eye.  “But if you do it again I will not be so forgiving.”

 

“Yes you will.”  Kuroo’s grin was slow to start but it bloomed fully as Sawamura continued to glare at him.  “You will because you love me and you wish for me to be happy. You built an entire garden to keep me company while you are away.  You will always be so forgiving.”

 

“Maybe I should go back a little earlier this time, hmm?”  Sawamura said, an empty threat but he had too much pride to admit Kuroo was right.

 

“I would bring Olympus crashing down if that were to happen.”  Kuroo promised, nowhere near as empty as Sawamura’s threat. His eyes were liquid amber, he wasn’t hiding anything any longer.  “Now my love, please show me this beautiful garden you built for me.” Kuroo’s nose grazed Sawamura’s before he stood up straight.

 

“I made it for me, I was tired of staring at this barren wasteland.”  Sawamura said dismissively but he started to walk, pointing out things he was particularly proud of along the way.  “After we will take a bath and I will see to your hair.”

 

“Yes my dear husband,” Kuroo teased gently, his fingers ghosting down Sawamura’s arm until entwining their hands together.  “Your wish is my command.” It was more than likely that Kuroo would grow surly and moody when Sawamura left and he’d have to coax his husband into smiling and laughing again but Sawamura had never disliked the prospect of that.  He would bring light and life into his husbands realm, he would leave bits of himself behind so Kuroo would not be so lonely.

 

“Then I would like a Cereberus of my own.”  Sawamura said, leaning just slightly against his husband.  “A smaller one, of course.” Cereberus guarded the gates of the Underworld, she was bigger than the castle.

 

“You will fill my castle with flowers and puppies.”  Sawamura gave Kuroo a hard look and the other god put his free hand up defensively.  “Flowers and puppies it is then, please just don’t bury my body in the garden.”

 

“But think of how large and beautiful it would grow if it fed on the remains of a God.”  Sawamura reached up for a low hanging branch which shivered gently as Sawamura touched it gently.

 

“We’ll talk about it during our bath.”  Kuroo said, leaning down to brush his lips against Sawamura’s temple.  “Thank you for building me a garden.” There were so much more in those softly spoken words.  Thank you for staying, thank you for loving me, a thousand different thank yous. Sawamura turned his head, kissed the tip of his husbands long nose.

 

“Come, I might have to just cut it all off this time.”  Sawamura said without mercy as he pulled his husband along.  He was afraid his softness was already too obvious and that he would, if he had to, spend hours carefully combing out every knot and enjoying every moment of it.