title: All That You Can't Leave Behind
fandom: Fushigi Yuugi
characters/pairings: reincarnation: Nuriko/Hotohori, Nuriko/Nakago, Miaka/Tamahome, one-sided Tasuki/Kouji, Tasuki/Chichiri, Chiriko/Kourin, Mitsukake, one-sided Tomo/Nakago, Yui, Amiboshi/Suboshi, Nakago/Soi, Yui/Tetsuya, Keisuke
rating: Teen/Mature
warnings: mentioned underaged sex, mentioned rape of an underaged boy, drinking, swearing, sex, angst, incestual implication, some bloodshed, crossdressing, and a happy ending
summary: The seishi have been reincarnated, and are coming together... and living in the same house.
notes: see notes

Part 9 - The slightly better stuff part

Saihitei woke up to find himself in Ryuen's bed, naked together and wrapped up in each other, their hair in a tangled mess over the sweaty bodies.

Saihitei's left arm was asleep, but he didn't care.

He got to watch Ryuen sleep, his beautiful face calm, his tiny nose wriggling from time to time, his lips pursing adorably occasionally.

He was so happy.

He got to watch Ryuen wake up, his delicate arms and legs stretching, his thin torso twisting as his eyelashes fluttered open.

He never imagined that he could be so happy.

"Morning." Ryuen smiled, a dozy kind of grin.

"Morning." Saihitei leaned in to kiss Ryuen gently, hyper aware of each and every point of contact between them.

Ryuen propped himself up on one elbow to look at Saihitei, his fingers coming up to play with his hair. "Sleep well?"

"Very." Saihitei leaned in to kiss him again, emboldened by Ryuen's ease.

Ryuen stopped the kiss, leaving Saihitei disappointed. Smiling, the fey former seishi spoke in his best bedroom voice, "Most people don't like to kiss first thing in the morning, Sai. Morning breath and all."

"Oh." Saihitei blushed, feeling like the virgin he was yesterday morning. He'd had sex last night... "Do you... do you mind?"

Ryuen held his smile in check, Saihitei's bright amber eyes filled with so much longing and hope cracking his reserve. Leaning in, he kissed Saihitei long and deep, feeling drunk with the raw taste of him. "You are a kinky beast deep down, aren't you Sai-chan?" he whispered, he voice drenched in husky, teasing want.

Saihitei pulled Ryuen closer, desperate, kissing him again. And again. He wanted so badly...

"Would this... Is this a bad time to talk about, um, you know, what this means and junk?" Saihitei couldn't look at Ryuen when he asked. He didn't really want to know.

Ryuen tipped Saihitei's chin up gently. "This is actually the perfect time to discuss that. But since you have to be in class in 40 minutes, we should probably discuss it later." At Saihitei's frightened reaction, he added, "Don't worry, Sai. I knew what I was doing last night, knew what the consequences were. I wouldn't have taken it so far if I hadn't been ready to... let our relationship evolve."

Saihitei thought his mind would burst. He was so full of so much. Impulsively, he grabbed Ryuen closer and closer to himself, kissing him and letting his hands settle over skin that he had dreamed of for so long. "You don't know..." his voice was coming from deep in his belly "what a gift this is to me. To be able to touch you, to kiss you, to... I'm so honored, Ryuen. I... I love you, and I'm so honored to have this chance to make you happy."

Ryuen clutched the back of Saihitei's head, gathering himself together. "I... I'm honored." Glancing at the clock, "This is going to be quite an adventure, isn't it?"

Saihitei grinned at Ryuen letting his finger trace the smooth cheek before him, circling around the enticing mole beneath his eye. "I certainly hope so! Please tell me you were joking about that class in 40 minutes thing..."

"'Fraid not, lover." Ryuen winked, saucily.

Saihitei groaned, both at the thought of getting to class so quickly, and at the endearment. "And I never did finish my reading..."

Ryuen snickered, hiding his face. "Well, if the prof calls on you, just tell him that you and Do-kun were discussing that exact issue earlier, and you found yourself getting confused by all the different possible perceptions. Do-kun can go off on anything, I'm sure."

Laughing, Saihitei reluctantly pulled himself from the bed with Ryuen. "I'll have to try that!" He picked up his clothes, the ones that were nearby, and slipped on his boxers. "Um, maybe, maybe we could have dinner tonight?"

Ryuen stretched out on his stomach, putting his face on his folded arms. Saihitei didn't bother to resist the urge to run his hand down Ryuen's pale, perfect back. "Sounds good, as long as it's just the two of us. No more inquisitions over dinner."

Saihitei smiled, feeling lightheaded. "Just the two of us. Sounds perfect. How about seven? We can meet here."

Ryuen smiled in response.

Saihitei took one last kiss before exiting. Ryuen watched him go, appreciatively. He lay on the bed for a little longer, remembering the night as he buried his face in the pillow where Saihitei had slept, and rubbed his body against the sheets.

He measured the time, weighing it against his responsibilities. He had twenty minutes before his darkroom time, which was going to last four hours. He could take a quick shower, gather his things, pick up some bagels, go talk to Ayuru, and still have three hours of darkroom time.

Washing himself down in the shower, he cataloged every touch and every sensation, memorizing it, and then going over it again and again, so that he would always be able to feel Saihitei's hands on him, and taste his kisses, long after they both were gone.

Ayuru opened his door at an ungodly early hour to find Ryuen standing there with a bag from the bagel shop.

"I brought breakfast," Ryuen sounded serious but not unhappy.

"It's too damn early for breakfast. Come back in three hours."

Ryuen rolled his eyes. "I have to be in the darkroom, like, now. I need to talk to you. Now get out of my way." Moving past the disgruntled blonde, Ryuen headed straight for the bedroom.

Perking up, Ayuru followed.

Ryuen slipped into the room and flung himself on Ayuru's unmade bed, covering his face with his arms.

"So, what is it anyway? All sane people arrange their schedules so they can be asleep at this time. Did you get a cinnamon bagel?"

Ryuen tossed him the bag. "I slept with Saihitei last night."

Ayuru groaned and dropped the bag on the bed, stretching out next to Ryuen. Whining, "You said you weren't going to do that!"

"I know. It kinda just happened."

"Was he any good?" Ayuru started to pick at the bagel.

Ryuen sighed. "It was... unbelievable. Amazing. Beautiful. I mean, it was basically just simultaneous masturbation, but it was... Gods!"

Ayuru snorted. "C'mon, the virgin can't have been that great..."

Ryuen rolled up on his side, curling up. "Remember in the last life, when we had sex, and you did that kinky spell to steal my soul energy? It was like that, only it was two way, like we were feeding off each other, like we were touching each other everywhere, even in our souls, and every act was totally reciprocated..."

"Please stop. You are making me gag on my bagel."

Ryuen groaned. "I didn't mean to do this! I tried not to! But damn, he was so fine, and willing..."

"Of course he was willing, he's a 21, gay, and a virgin. What's for him to resist?" Ayuru smiled at the bagel chunk before he swallowed it, licking his fingers clean.

"I didn't expect him to be so... perfect." Ryuen sighed.

"Fuck. You're in love with him. Dammit, Ryuen! Don't your promises mean anything?!"

"I'm not in love with him!" Ryuen sat up, in protest. "I'm not! I can't be, it's not right, I just..."

Ayuru raised an eyebrow, suggestively.

Ryuen groaned, and turned to the pillow.

Smiling, Ayuru set the bagel aside. Running his hand down Ryuen's back, filtering his fingers through that silky moss of hair, he was about to say something encouraging and sexy when he felt Ryuen tense up like his body had been transformed into stone. "What's wrong?"

"Don't." Ayuru knew that tone of Ryuen's voice. He pulled away, disgusted. "I'm sorry, Ayuru, but..."

"Fuck. You guys jerk each other off, and suddenly, he's your boyfriend? Shit, Ryuen, two days ago you were listing for me all the reasons why this exact thing would never happen, and now you are letting it happen because he dropped his pants for you? I hope he comes imperial-sized to make it worth your while..."

"Ayuru... it's not about sex, really. It's... He's so kind, and gentle, and sweet, and he's so fresh and pure..."

"You don't deflower virgins much, do you? That 'freshness' won't seem so appealing when you are trying to restrain him to keep him from pounding in you without enough lube, or proper prep, or..."

"Ayuru!" Ryuen sat up and looked him in the eye, his own brown-rose eyes blazing. "I didn't come here for this!"

"Why did you come here, Ry-chan? Did you want me to pet you and sympathize over being saddled with a moderately attractive, rich boyfriend? Did you want me to pat you on the back in congratulations? What were you expecting, exactly?"

Ryuen's eyes filled with tears, and he leaned closer to Ayuru, just putting his hand around Ayuru's arm. "It was so... I felt so... Like I was full, complete, and every other stupid cliché... I... I... It would have been so much better to have not known, I would have been so much better off not knowing... It'll be so much harder to live without now that I know..." With each shuddering breath, he came closer and closer to Ayuru, until his head was bent and touching the other man's chest.

Ayuru sighed, and ran his hand over Ryuen's neck, soothing him. "Ry-chan... Don't be so morbid. You've just begun, now is not the time to think of the end. Enjoy these moments. Maybe they will last a month, a year, maybe longer. Just enjoy it. Haven't you told me the same a million times? Haven't you told the twins that, Kaen that? Live in the now. Forget the past, forget the future, enjoy the now. It's good advice, Ry-chan, you should take it. And if things don't work out, and the spoiled brat hurts you, I'll be here for you, ready to take advantage of your weakness for my own personal pleasure. And for no extra cost, I will gladly kick his ass six days a week and twice on Sundays in that unfortunate circumstance."

Ryuen was now giggling, making a pleasant vibration up Ayuru's arm. "Thanks, Ayuru-chan. You always know just what to say to cheer me up."

Kissing the top of Ryuen's soft, purple head, Ayuru grinned. Then he swore. "Fuck! This means I have to get back together with Kaen, doesn't it!?"

Ryuen tipped his head up, still giggling. "Like you weren't going to be doing that soon, anyway!"

Sighing as if put out, Ayuru pouted. "Yes, but I wanted to do it on my own schedule."

Shrugging, "Well, if your schedule is so important, you could always just wait."

"But I won't have you to satisfy my cravings when I beck and call." Ayuru was in full mock-pout. He was as close to being cute as he ever is.

Giggling, Ryuen tweaked his nipple through his t-shirt. "Hey! I'm not some sex slave waiting on your booty call!"

"Hey! Watch it! And no, you aren't any more, are you?"

Laughing, they both fell down onto the bed, their foreheads together.

"Dating Saihitei."

"I know."

"Well, you should get a bunch of fancy dinners out of it..."

"There's the bright side..."

"If you want to give him some kind of instructional lessons on proper techniques, remember I'm willing to help out as an example guy, or as a demonstration device..."

"I'll make sure to mention that to him."

"I doubt he'd agree."

"I sincerely doubt it."

Leaning up to run a finger down Ryuen's face, "I meant what I said, Ryuen. I'll be here for you, like I always have been, and if he hurts you, I'll hurt him."

Ryuen shook his head. "I don't know what to make of you when you are being evil and good at the same time."

Ayuru half-shrugged. "Me neither. Wanna do it one last time?"

Groaning, Ryuen stood up to leave. "Tempting, tempting, but... eh. Give Kaen my best, 'kay?"

Ryuen laughed, leaving a grunting and complaining Ayuru in his wake.

Ryuen was home at ten to seven, feeling only a little tense. Saihitei had called him five times in the course of the day, making sure that they were still going to have dinner, and that everything was all right.

He wondered if they could skip the emotional crap and jump right back into bed again. That had worked really well last night.

"Hello!" The house seemed really quiet. And dark. That was unusual.

"Hi, Ryuen." Saihitei was standing in the door to the kitchen, in fine black pants and a v-neck silk sweater. "I, um, thought it might be nice to have dinner at home, so..."

Ryuen stepping into the kitchen, smiling. The lights were dimmed, there were candles, a tablecloth on the table, and nice dishes and cutlery, and stacks of boxes from one of the fancier restaurants in town on the counter. "You made me a catered dinner?"

Saihitei blushed. "Um, well, I wanted to make something special but I've never cooked something special before..."

Ryuen had to resist the urge to laugh. He didn't want to hurt his boyfriend with his boisterous humor before they had settled some things. "Well, we'll have to eat before Miaka smells this, because this is one fabulous dinner."

Saihitei blushed again, even deeper. Clearing his throat, "I, er, got everyone else to leave for a few hours. Sent them to dinner and movie, actually. So, well, so we could be alone... You wanted that, right?" He anxiously looked to Ryuen, feeling like he was wandering through a minefield.

Ryuen leaned up and kissed Saihitei's mouth, letting his hands graze the taller man's arms gently. "It's perfect, Sai." He was practically purring. "Thank you so much for all your work and effort. Let me get dressed for dinner and we can eat, all right?"

Saihitei was only able to nod as Ryuen sashayed his way out of the room. Swallowing down the lump of nervous energy swelling his throat, he busied himself getting all the food arranged on the plates and pouring the perfectly chilled wine. He sent up several thousand quick prayers to all the gods he could name, and another several thousand to Suzaku, that tonight would go well. This morning, Ryuen had said... But that was in the morning, right after. Maybe he changed his mind, or thought of some reason why it wasn't a good idea... Saihitei had managed to psyche himself into hoping that he and Ryuen could still be friends, but somewhere he knew he was still hoping for much more.

Were damned men allowed to sleep with angels?

Taking a sip of wine, he turned to make sure everything was perfect again, when he saw Ryuen coming down the stairs. Shakily, he put down the glass.

Ryuen was barefoot, in loose leather pants that appeared to be hugging his legs and waist, and a nearly sheer red silk shirt that flowed around his body as he moved. His thick purple hair hung around him, falling straight down his back and over his shoulders, with only the portions at his temples pulled back to a loose tail in the middle.

He was so beautiful, like a creature of myth made flesh.

Saihitei was suddenly so overcome with raw desire that he nearly choked on it, his heart beating hard in his chest and his blood gushing through his veins.

Ryuen just smiled, maybe because he knew what Saihitei was thinking and maybe not. Leaning up, he kissed Saihitei again, taking his time and letting Saihitei pull him closer and run his hands over him.

Breaking away, he coyly led Saihitei to sit at the table for dinner.

Forcing himself to control his reactions, Saihitei picked up the wine glass and motioned for Ryuen to do the same. Gathering his wits, he made the toast. "To... to wonderful friends."

Ryuen tipped his glass to Saihitei's, quirking his lips. "Who become beautiful lovers."

Saihitei gasped as Ryuen took one long, lingering sip of the wine. Maintaining eye contact, he flowed from his seat to Saihitei's lap, putting his arms around Saihitei's neck and leaning in to kiss him deeply, sharing his wine.

Saihitei was dreaming. He felt somehow he must be, as his hands smoothed over soft silk and luscious leather, being so close to the one he'd loved and lusted for, so much time devoted to fantasizing about this exact scenario, that this must just be another dream, another useless dream.

He had never dreamed that Ryuen would taste so sweet, like his lips were some exotic flower, or that his fingers would push into his flesh so demandingly, or that he would make a noise like that...

"Am I dreaming?" Saihitei's voice was hushed.

"No, silly." Ryuen laughed almost soundlessly. "We should probably talk about some things, but you need to understand the most important thing first." Another kiss. "I don't regret anything last night." Another kiss. "In fact, I thought it was pretty amazing." Another. "And I'd like to have more nights like last night." Another. "I'd like our relationship to... evolve."

"Evolve?" Ryuen had said that this morning, too, hadn't he? Saihitei decided that he loved evolution.

"Yeah. We both knew that we were attracted to one another." He ran his fingers through Saihitei's soft hair. "I was uncertain about being friends, with that unresolved sexual tension. So, we've resolved the tension thing. And now..."

"Now?" Saihitei was so hopeful, it was almost sad.

"Well, we sort of skipped the polite dates part of dating, and went right to the sex part, but I'd like to be with you, if you wanted me to." Ryuen ducked his face so that Saihitei couldn't see his blush.

Saihitei blinked a few times, giving his brain a chance to catch up and review their conversation. Not wanting, really, to ask, he cleared his throat anyway and barreled on ahead. "So, does that meant that we are... are... boyfriends? That we are involved? Exclusively?"

Ryuen smiled. "Well... if you want, then yes."

Saihitei didn't let his arms loosen their grip on his... boyfriend. "Um, so then, we would... we would... only together, not..."

"Yes, Saihitei! A relationship, partners, lovers, boyfriends, exclusive, monogamous, whatever!"

"And that includes Ayuru, right?" Saihitei kept his eyes averted.

"Why, were you hoping to get a chance with him?" Ryuen kept a straight face.

"No! Ryuen! You know what I mean..."

Ryuen kissed him, taking his time and letting the contact mellow the man he was using as a chair. "I already told him this morning that we were back to being strictly platonic friends."

"Really?" Saihitei's voice was tender with wonder.

"Really." Ryuen soothed him.

"Oh." Saihitei felt suddenly weak, acutely aware that he now was exactly where he wanted to be, and he had no idea what to do next.

"Hungry?" Ryuen reached behind, grabbing some tasty morsels with his fingers, then bringing them forward to offer Saihitei. His brown-rose eyes sparkled with devilish joy.

Saihitei grinned. Remembering something else his boyfriend had said that morning, "This really is going to be a wonderful adventure, isn't it?"

Ryuen's smile twinkled merrily as he watched his fingers slowly encased in Saihitei's mouth. "Mm, I think it will be that and more..."

They started to feed one another, using their fingers, with Ryuen sitting in Saihitei's lap, face forward, his legs straddling Saihitei's thighs, their growing bulges rubbing against one another slowly as they moved to get food and drink.

Saihitei was both deliriously happy and hopelessly confused at once. He was overwhelmed, by the idea of being with Ryuen after so much dreaming and waiting, and about... well, sex.

Being a virgin seemed really foolish now that he had a delicious young man in his lap that he wanted to ravish, but he didn't know how.

His hands moved clumsily and awkwardly, while Ryuen's hands moved surely, his hips rolling gently as he turned, his body stretching and enticing with grace of practice and skill.

Saihitei felt childish and small.

His hand slipped up, catching the sliver of metal in Ryuen's nipple through the thin silk of his shirt. Uncertain, he tugged, thinking that was probably what it was there for.

"Hey! Watch that!"

"Is it... I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" Saihitei would have kicked himself if Ryuen wasn't in his lap, preventing him from even trying.

"Noooo. But, no fair teasing if you aren't going to finish..." Ryuen's voice deepened and had a catch to it.

Saihitei realized that he still had Ryuen's ring under his hand.

"Finish?" Saihitei had to admit, he was confused, dropping his hands to his sides quickly, totally out of his depth.

Ryuen sighed. He guessed they couldn't quite jump straight to the sex. "It's just that I'm really sensitive there, which is why I got the ring. No fair making me all hot and bothered in the middle of dinner, is all I meant." To illustrate his point, Ryuen brought Saihitei's hand to his own crotch, holding his fingers down over the nearly painful bulge of hot leather.

Saihitei melted.

Ryuen sizzled.

"There are some other things that we need to talk about, I guess," Ryuen spoke in a bedroom whisper. "But if you don't mind, I'm really hungry right now."

Saihitei nodded, senseless, not even knowing what they might have to discuss.

"You don't mind?" Ryuen caught Saihitei's gaze mischievously, his fingers kneading the neck and shoulders before him. "Because I've been hungry for a while now, and I'd really like to eat if you really don't mind."

"No, fine..." Saihitei was confused. Did Ryuen skip lunch today? Were they supposed to be doing something else now?

"Ok, well, if you are sure..." Ryuen nodded, seriously. Then he slid down onto the floor, putting his face into Saihitei's crotch.

Saihitei had to grip the edge of the chair to keep from falling off.

Ryuen pushed Saihitei's sweater up with his cute little nose, kissing the stomach he found underneath. His nimble fingers slipped down the zipper of Saihitei's pants, urging him to lift his hips so that he could lower all the fabric barriers between his lips and Saihitei's cock.

At this point, Saihitei decided that thinking was bad and Ryuen was good, very very good.

Ryuen thought he was pretty good, too, kissing and licking his way up Saihitei's length expertly, making the young former emperor moan and wail like a bagpipe in heat. He eyed the appendage greedily, already aching to think what it would be like to have that inside of him, filling him, splitting him.

Imagining himself being fucked by Saihitei made Ryuen impossibly hot, no longer able to control his need, he wanted. He wanted to taste, and to eat.

Sucking on the tip, he moved his hands up Saihitei's sides, until he reached the nipples under the sweater. Pinching hard, he took more and more of Saihitei into his mouth humming lightly to drive Saihitei wild.

From the way the nearly orgasmic man was ripping at his hair, he figured it was working pretty well.

Deep throating for a moment, he pulled up, griped the base of Sai's erection with his hands, and sucked hard and rapidly.

Saihitei wanted to scream, to warn Ryuen somehow, but he was unfamiliar enough with the process that he didn't have enough warning himself. Pouring himself into Ryuen's waiting mouth, he felt unmade, undone.

Complete, almost.

Ryuen giggled as he raised himself up, straightening Sai's clothes as he snuggled up against him, curling himself in his new lover's lap again.

Coming back to his senses, Saihitei wondered how often a day they could do that, and when he would be able to ask Ryuen that. Sheepishly, "Um..." He made a finger motion at the corner of his lips, trying to indicate to Ryuen that there was some overflow.

Nearly laughing out loud with pleasure and contentment, Ryuen used his thumb to scoop up the last drop, sucking on this thumb like he had sucked on Sai, pulling the digit out with a resounding pop.

Saihitei's eyes nearly popped out of his head.

"What?" Ryuen asked, smiling innocently. He loved being with Sai already. He was able to experience the wonder and amazement of just beginning in a way that he never had in his own life.

"I can't believe you just... I mean, I would have let you know if I could have... But you, but you... You swallowed it?" At Ryuen's delighted nod, he gulped. "Isn't that... I mean, isn't it, well, gross?" Saihitei paled at the thought. "It came from..."

"You! It came from you! And why don't you tell me if it is gross..." Ryuen took Saihitei's face in his hands and kissed him, deep and hard.

Saihitei nearly swooned. Ryuen tasted like Ryuen, sweet and musky, but there was another flavor, salty and strong.

That was... that was... Him, his...

He was tasting his own...

"So? Do you think that's gross?" Ryuen raised an eyebrow, his mouth twitched in a smile.

Saihitei was stunned. He decided to just tighten his grip on Ryuen instead.

"Sai... This is important. I don't want to do anything to you or with you that you are uncomfortable with. That is so important to me. I need to know that if you are feeling uncertain, that you will tell me. There is no need to feel embarrassed or awkward about anything. Last night, we slept naked, pressed up against each other. I just had your dick in my mouth. There shouldn't be anything hidden between us. I know that this is new to you, and I want to be sensitive about it, but you have to remember that I'm... experienced. I can't take back anything I've done, and with a few exceptions, I wouldn't want to. But if I move too fast or do something that makes you uncomfortable, you need to tell me right away, ok?"

Ryuen was being so sincere, his brown-rose eyes just brimming with compassion and concern.

Just like Nuriko to be so concerned for others...

Saihitei smiled. "I... I will. I will try."

Tugging strands of chestnut hair through his fingers, Ryuen grinned. "Saihitei. Let me make something crystal clear. I wanted to swallow your spunk, to lick and kiss your dick, and I want to do a lot more than that. It wasn't gross or disgusting at all, it was wonderful. You taste wonderful. And I hope to do that a lot more. There isn't any part of your body I don't want to touch, and taste, and kiss... I want to suck on your cock 'til you go mad, I want to have you inside of me, driving me mad, I want to be inside of you, I want to eat your ass out, and spend days in bed with you naked, until I know every part of you and every touch of you and every scent of you and every taste of you completely. Is that all right?"

"Oh. Yeah. I guess. Eat... my ass? What does that..." Saihitei's amber eyes were wide with shock. And need?

Ryuen kissed Sai's forehead. "That's a topic in advances sexual techniques, darling. We'll get there eventually."

Sai pulled Ryuen closer to him, kissing his neck gently. "Ry?"


"Do you really want to do all those things?"


"Do you need to do all those things?"

"Sai, none of those things are necessary for life. They are just fun, plus they help to express feelings. Usually, feelings of pleasure and desire. Sometimes, rarely, more. But they aren't necessary. Why?"

"I... I think I may be a little, well, uneasy, I guess, about... um, you know... anal. Stuff."

Ry tucked locks of hair behind Sai's ear. "That's ok, darling. It may take time, but I think once you get a little more comfortable with our skin, you might get more comfortable with that. I'm patient. I certainly wasn't expecting to have anal intercourse tonight, and I can wait for as long as you need."



"You really don't have any trouble talking about this stuff bluntly, do you?"

"No. But then, my best friend is Ayuru, and I've been in therapy for nearly eight years for a sexual assault when I was thirteen, so... I guess I wouldn't be."

Sai hid his face in Ry's shoulder, embarrassingly happy. "I... will try to be brutally honest as well, but my best friend growing up was my nanny. Unless you get off on nursery rhymes..."

"Oooh, sing me bad songs about the dish and the spoon..."

Sai laughed so hard, he thought he might drop Ry. So he grabbed a handful of soft, silky hair, to be safe.

And to fondle.

"Your hair is straight today." This seemed funny to Sai, even though it clearly wasn't. He rubbed the locks between two fingers, trying not to be overwhelmed with the number of times he'd imagined doing this exact thing, and now here he was, touching Ry's hair and holding him... Needing to say something, do something, "Um, so what do you want to do now?"

"That's a loaded question." Ry's eyes sparkled as he stood, grabbing the food and the wine, and blowing out candles. "You don't have class in the morning, right?"

Sai felt unimaginably happy, knowing that Ry knew his schedule. Again.

"Nope." He grabbed the remaining plates, and followed Ry upstairs.

Ry tossed his hair behind him. "Ok then. Let's go to your room, finish our dinner, and... whatever. Maybe I can start to teach you some things... Sound good?"

"Sounds great."

The next morning, Saihitei bounded down the stairs, whistling. He even smiled at Genrou.

Everyone figured those bumping noises they heard were good things, after all.

Although, once the smoke cleared, everyone also figured that no matter how happy Saihitei was, they shouldn't let him make breakfast.

Settling for cereal, Saihitei sat down next to Miaka, bumping her lightly on the elbow.

"Hey, guess what?"

"What?" She responded, even though she knew what.

"He's my boyfriend." Saihitei was actually gleeful.

Suddenly, Taka understood why he and Miaka had been so unbearable when they had first gotten together.

"I'm so happy for you guys, Sai!" Miaka hugged him briefly. She wanted to cuddle him, but she was in the middle of breakfast.

Ryuen came down in a hurry, still tying off his ponytail while arranging the contents of his bag. Chanting softly to himself, he spun around the kitchen, picking up something to have for breakfast, "Late late late late long night long morning now I'm late late late late..."

Saihitei just beamed as he watched his boyfriend flit around the kitchen. Before he left, Ryuen stopped by Saihitei and kissed him, making everyone cheer. And Genrou let out some catcalls. But they ignored them. Mostly.

"Meet for lunch, right?" Saihitei beamed even brighter in response. "Ok, gotta dash, late late late late long night long morning now I'm late late late late..." He managed to thwack the back of Genrou's head as he left.

Saihitei barely noticed himself eating, he was so lost in happiness. Once and a while, he would pause, his spoon dangling in midair, to turn to someone and say, "He's my boyfriend."

It would have been cute if it weren't so damned annoying.

At least, everyone but Miaka thought that. She was alone in cooing along with Saihitei, tugging on Taka's elbow to say, "They're together!"

Taka was understanding. He knew how important her seishi's happiness was to Miaka. But he was still annoyed. How was it that no one had killed him and Miaka when they had gotten together? If anything, they had been worse than Saihitei.

Saihitei eventually finished his cereal and went upstairs to shower, singing softly under his breath.

Genrou pantomimed gagging, while Miaka hugged Taka's arm so tight, he thought she might rip it off.

"They're together! They're finally together! After so long, and now they can be happy!"

Genrou snorted. "What? You think this was destined, like from the past life? I don't remember much about all that shit, but I do remember that Nuriko died alone."

"That wasn't Hotohori's fault, Gen-kun! He had to stay behind, for his empire!" Miaka protested quickly.

Genrou shrugged off confusion. "I dunno know about any of that, but that's not what I meant. I meant, Nuriko died alone. I remember his death. Don't remember much else. I remember thinkin', he was the best of us, and he was alone." Genrou rubbed his nose as the others, besides Miaka looked away. Nuriko's death had hit them all hard. No one forgot it, or what they were thinking at the time. "Anyway, don't expect fuckin' wedding bells and flowers and crap. Real life, love is a lot more complicated than that."

And with that wisdom, he left the table, scratching himself.

Miaka humphed. "Why would he be like that? This is wonderful! They are together, finally! Isn't it wonderful?" She looked to Taka, who was smiling down on her. She turned to Houjun, who was thoughtfully looking up the stairs that Saihitei had gone up. "Ooooh, no! Houjun! Why are you looking like that?!"

"Like that, you know?" He turned his mildly confused eyes to her.

"That face! That, I've seen more summers than any of you, so I know what's going on and you'll all be unpleasantly surprised but I can't do anything about it look!" Miaka glared at him, accusingly.

He almost laughed out loud, which would only have made her madder. "Miaka-chan! I don't have a face like that, you know!"

"Yes you do, you've got it right now. Stop it! They're together! We should all be happy!"

"I know, you know, but..."

"No buts! Only happy!" She had her fist on her hip and was wiggling a finger in his face.

Houjun smiled. Miaka was as she always was. It was comforting, in a really strange, discomforting kind of way. "Happy, yes, Miaka. They deserve to be happy."

Miaka grunted her acceptance, and turned back to the remaining scraps of food left on the table.

He met Taka's eyes.

At least he wasn't the only one who could see this wasn't the happily ever after part yet.

notesPart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart Eight • Part Nine • Part TenPart ElevenPart TwelvePart ThirteenPart FourteenPart FifteenPart SixteenPart SeventeenPart EighteenPart NineteenPart TwentyPart Twenty-OneEpilogue