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 12 - The Part with Yui

Another morning, only now classes were over, and so the occupants of the house were sitting around the table listlessly, still recovering from finals.

Except for Saihitei, who was whistling as he made breakfast.

Do-kun wondered what could possibly make Saihitei so chipper so early so soon after finals. Then he decided not to think about it.

Taka decided that Saihitei had gotten marginally less annoying since he and Ryuen first got together, but only marginally. Now, Taka only wanted to beat him bloody, not actually kill him.

Ryuen came running into the kitchen, grabbing a nutrition bar. He had promised Kourin he'd take her shopping and spend the day with her as soon as finals were over so he had to be at home soon.

Saihitei managed to catch him and give him a quick kiss, which quickly became a longer kiss as Ryuen sat down in Saihitei's lap for a moment.

Myojuan grinned at them as he moved his breakfast down a little to give them more room.

"I'll call you about dinner, 'kay?" Ryuen kissed Saihitei's cheek as he stood up.

"All right. I love you, Ry." Sai watched his love with shining amber eyes.

Pausing, Ryuen wavered, and then went back to Saihitei to kiss him again. "I'll see you later, darling."

Miaka bounced in her seat, wakened by the food and the cuteness of her favorite gay couple.

"Awwww! Saihitei, you and Ryuen are soooooo cute!" She giggled as she shoved a pile of rice into her mouth.

He blushed slightly, feeling light and happy. "We are." Then Saihitei almost giggled, which worried him. Finishing his breakfast, he decided to go up and clean up his and Ry's rooms. They had gotten terribly messy during finals week.

Smacking Houjun in the arm with her usual style, Miaka smiled. "See! I told you, they are a great couple! Nothing to worry about! Didja see how Saihitei said he loved Ryuen? C'mon, admit it, they are perfect together!"

Houjun picked himself up off the floor, deciding not to point out that Ryuen didn't say 'I love you' in return. "Miaka-kun, I didn't mean to imply that I didn't think that they would work together, you know, simply that it wasn't going to be as easy as it might seem. Ryuen-kun is very fragile, you know, more than he lets on, and I just don't think that they are in the same place, you know?"

"Love is fuckin' complicated for us normal folk," Genrou added, gazing intently into his juice.

"You guys! But, this is destiny! Like, Taka and I, they loved each other then, but were torn apart, and now they can be together and be happy! Why wouldn't you believe in that?" Miaka had gone into passionate speech mode, complete with dramatic poses. When she caught sight of Myojuan, she verily glowed with triumph. "Like Myojuan and Shouka! Their love, which was doomed in the last life, thrives now!" Grinning, she nodded, thinking she had won over the pessimists.

Myojuan shook his head. "Miaka-kun... Just because Shouka and I loved each other then, doesn't mean that everything is perfect now. In fact, we're always on the verge of breaking up. Being in medical school is a lot of stress in a relationship if it is only one person, and with both of us in school, there isn't really any time left over for a relationship. Even if we both had perfect memories of the past, that wouldn't mean that everything was going to be perfect now. As Genrou so elegantly phrased it, Love is complicated. A relationship requires work and commitment. And, I think it is a little... worrying that Saihitei seems ready to settle down, and Ryuen seems... less confident. Until they are both on the same page in their relationship, it's only natural that their friends would worry for them. It doesn't mean that we don't have faith in them, only that we want them to be happy, and we are worried about what would happen if they broke up. Most relationships don't work, you know."

Miaka deflated, as no one wanted to meet her eyes. Finally, Taka decided that he would have to be the one to face his girlfriend.

"Miaka-love, don't get so down. We're not giving up, and certainly don't think that they are doomed. Think of everything that we endured to be together, and all the time and pain that we invested... We're together now because we never gave up, and no one gave up on us. Why would it be any different for them?"

"But... it is them. I just... just want them both to be happy, together. Don't you see, Taka? They... they belong together. I could just feel it, the first time I saw them together. Well, this time around. Didn't we all suffer enough in the last life, that we have to endure this too?" Her brown eyes were nearly dripping with wetness.

Taka's heart broke to see his love near tears. Gathering her close to him, he kissed her temple gently. "It isn't about how much they suffered, love. We just... have to have faith in them. Not in fate, or destiny, or alien gods, or anything else... but they will make it work. I know they will."

She clung to her boyfriend, believing him.

In the pale, almost too clear light of the morning, Sai wound a lock of purple hair around his finger, admiring the figure of his love. Ry was so pure in his sleep that it reminded Sai of when they were seishi together, and they were only friends. His soft, thick eyelashes rested against his smooth cheek, the delicate arch of his relaxed brow accenting the gently curve of his eye. The small mole in the corner of his eye was almost begging to be kissed, and the round mouth was almost as tasty to the eye as it was to the tongue.

His body was all smooth, straight lines, pale, soft skin, and toned muscle barely seen underneath. His chest was Sai's favorite part, being so touchable in its silk, the small ring of metal hooped through his nipple a reminder of sexiness.

To watch Ry sleeping in the pale early morning light was probably the reason Sai had been born an early riser.

With mewing noises and snuffs of air pushed out his tiny nose, Ry began to break into consciousness as Sai watched him, one elbow propping him up so that his body sheltered Ry's as he lay on his side beside him, one hand touching Ry's hipbone.

When those stunning brown-rose eyes fluttered open, Sai knew that his love was not yet awake, but was cognizant.

"Morning, love."

"Mm... why are we awake?"

"We aren't. I am, because I always wake up a little before now. You are, I expect, because I can't keep my hands off of you."

"Ah. I like your hands on me. Let's stay in bed all day."

"I think we'll have to get up eventually."

"Ok, but getting up doesn't involve getting out of bed."

Sai chuckled. "Yes, love, but I meant that we will probably want to get out of bed, get dressed, eat something..."

"We can eat each other. It won't be long 'til we are back in classes and busy with final year stuff, and we will wish we had taken advantage of having a free day to be in bed together naked."

Sai pondered. "I do like being naked with you. And kissing you, naked. And other stuff, naked."

Ry curled up against Sai. "See? I'm very smart. Now, grab the breath mints off the nightstand..."

"You're closer."

"You have longer arms."

"But I don't mind kissing you with morning breath."

"That's because you are a kinky bastard. Now, get the mints."

Ry stood against the window, his forehead resting lightly against the pane of glass. The view from his therapist's was fairly routine, just many people swarming like insects seen from high above...

The shadows clung to his frame, just inching away at the edges, washed in too much light. His arms were wrapped tightly around his body, and his legs were close together. His small mouth formed a line, and the edges were crinkled in slightly broken lines. His eyes were half-closed as he watched the swarming masses, watching the patterns rather than individuals in the swarm.

He felt cold.

Karen had patients that she had been working with for over ten years that she still needed to get a fresh cup of ginger spice tea before starting a session with, but she had know Ryuen for so long, that he was like a little brother to her, in some ways.

She kept her notebook in her lap, her pen poised, as she counted the minutes, waiting until she knew that she had waited long enough and he wouldn't answer her.

She decided that she would forgo the question about how he felt when Miss Hanari had been looking at his pictures, and move onto the main question.


"Why do you feel that you should use the pictures? They are private, Ryuen-kun. There's no reason to feel ashamed of wanting to keep your private life private."

He shifted, gracefully, tightening his grip on himself, his lips flickering. Working his throat for a moment before he formed words, "Because... she was right. They are the best pictures I have ever taken. They are far better than I could hope to repeat. They are perfect, I mean, I just shot them to fill up the roll, but the lighting, the angles, the focus... And... I should do my best work. I should show my best work."

"So... why don't you? Or, more to the point, why do you feel that you need to protect these pictures?"

Ryuen felt himself collapsing, but he held on as tightly as he could. "Because... Because... They... They're all... all that I'm going to have.... When... when he's gone..." Ryuen felt his knees weaken, so he folded them up and sat on his bum, leaning against the window frame.

Karen put down her pad and pen and went to sit with him.

Manfully, she resisted the urge to take him by his shoulders, give him a good shake, and scream, 'Why can't you see how wonderful you are?! Why can't you see how lucky he is?!?!' She did this because she was a trained professional, and because she could take out her frustrations later in kick boxing class.

Not all transference was a bad thing.

"Ryuen... Why are you so sure that he will leave you?"

He nearly laughed, except he knew that would make him cry. "It isn't a question of why he should leave me. It's a question of what was he thinking to be with me in the first place! He's so... pure. Kind. Gentle. He's nothing like me, I'm so... used."


"Don't. Don't say that it wasn't my fault, because almost all of it was. And don't say that it doesn't make me less worthy or whatever because it does. And don't tell me that everything could work out, because it can't. He can't love me. Why would he? What am I, that I deserve his love? If nothing else were true, it's still true that I'm petty. I couldn't forgive him for the past and I made him suffer for it. And now... it's only a matter of time. And whenever I hold him, I think that I should enjoy each moment to the fullest, because there are only so many times that I'm going to get to have the chance to be with him, and when it's over, I'll only have the memory, and so I need to make the most of it, but it's so oppressive! I feel like I'm drowning, trying to hard to make it all mean something, and every time he says he loves me, I try not to pretend that it's true, but I can't help it, because I've wanted to believe it for so long that a part of me does, and each time he says it a little more of me does, and that's going to make it so much harder when he's gone, and all I can think about is how it's going to be when he's gone, and how am I going to go on when he's gone, because I don't know, and I don't know, and I'm scared, because... because... because it's going to hurt so much and I won't have anything left, so I have to horde everything, absolutely everything, because who knows how much longer I've got? And I... I don't know. He's so much everything I've ever, ever wanted... I wish I could be the one he loves forever instead of for right now."

"Ryuen." Karen couldn't keep all her anguish out of her voice. "Do you love him?"

He felt the pressure that was choking him tighten, and he burst, his tears spilling from his face to her breast, and he hadn't known if she took him to her arms or if he fell into her embrace, but it didn't matter, because he couldn't stop.

He felt demolished.

Sai wasn't expecting his love to return home so early, so when Ry walked in the front door, he almost didn't get up until Ry was at the stairs.

"Ry! How was... Weren't you going to your parent's for dinner?"

Ry barely turned to look at him. "I... had to call and postpone." He started up the stairs, Sai trailing after him. "I couldn't... pretend that everything was ok. So, they'll be worried, but less worried than if they saw me."

Sai wondered how many times in the past life Nuriko had hidden himself away so he wouldn't burden his friends with his pain. The thought made Sai's heart hurt. "Should I grab the Ben and Jerry's?"

Ry fell onto his bed. "I'm way past ice cream."

Sai knelt before the bed, gently fingering the hair that surrounded his love's face. He hated Ry's therapist for perfectly irrational reasons right then. "Can I do anything?"

Ry tried to smile, but it nearly hurt. "Oh, darling, I'm sorry, I'm wiped out. I need to sleep a bit, I think. I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. You can be sad. That's ok. Do... do you want to sleep alone, or can I nap with you?" Sai's amber eyes shimmered brightly, accentuating the emotion.

Ry did smile, a very small smile, then. "Please. I always prefer to sleep with you than alone."

Sai climbed in, and wrapped himself around his love. Helpless, "Should I tell you a bedtime story?"

"A story?"

"Yeah. Something to help bring the pleasant dreams."

Ry didn't want to tell Sai that he was hoping not to dream. "Ok. Tell me a story."

"Ok. Well, let's see, once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a faraway place, or maybe not so far away, in China, who knows, there lived a handsome Emperor."

"Isn't it supposed to be prince?"

"No, he was much more than a prince. He was an Emperor, and not only was he handsome, but he was the most beautiful man in all the lands."

Ry felt like snickering.

"But the handsome Emperor was lonely. You see, all his life, he had been isolated from everyone else, because he was to be the ruler, so he had to learn how to do that. He had much schooling, but also most people were afraid of him. Partially because his beauty blinded some. Anyway, when he was little, he was told a fairy tale about this priestess from another world who would come and save his kingdom, and when he thought about her, he was happy, because he was sure that she would save him as well. She would not be afraid of him, and she would be his friend, and she would love him and they would get married and live happily ever after. Because he was the handsome Emperor and she was the heroine. So, naturally, they would end up together. Right? So, he fantasized about her. She would be lithe, and graceful," Ry snickered, thinking of Miaka, "and she would be exotically beautiful, with hair of some... unnaturally beautiful hue," Sai picked up Ry's hair and kissed it, "and delicate features, wide, expressive eyes, also unnaturally shaded, and she would have perhaps a single flaw that would perfect her beauty." Sai kissed Ry's mole.

Ry sighed, and snuggled closer to Sai.

"And so the Emperor was happy, because he knew that his priestess was coming. So, he didn't have to go to his seraglio, which frightened him anyway, since his priestess was coming. And if he enjoyed training with his tutors and the guards, and washing in the river with them, all muscular, naked men... well, that was ok because his priestess was coming and he was going to love her."

Ry snickered.

"And then... then the priestess came. And the Emperor didn't say so, but he couldn't help but feel a little cheated. She was bright and sunny, and she certainly wasn't afraid of him, but she was also short, and young, and plain. But she was his priestess, and so he loved her. And at the same time... he met this boy. And the boy, well, he looked like a girl. A stunningly beautiful girl. He was dressed as a girl, actually, and he was a member of the seraglio, but he was a boy. And he had beautiful, purple hair, and delicate features, and a slight, lithe body, and wide, brown-rose eyes... And he had a sweet smile ready for any occasion, and he never thought of himself, only of the happiness of others, the happiness of his friends, and though he was deferential to the Emperor, as was fitting to the Emperor's position, he was also the Emperor's friend.

"And, he was a boy. The Emperor had to admit, that was probably the boy's most appealing feature."

Ry became very quiet.

"And the boy loved the Emperor, and while he wanted the Emperor to love him too, he never said anything to the Emperor directly, and when the Emperor was sad because the priestess didn't love him back, the boy was there to comfort and cheer the Emperor.

"But the Emperor was thinking more and more about the boy. And when dark forces contrived to make the priestess think that her love would never return to her, she turned to the Emperor. And the Emperor thought, he didn't really love her like that. He would give his life for her, and he wanted more than anything for her to be happy, but the idea of being with her...

"She wasn't the priestess that he dreamed of. So, he had to realize, he was never really in love with her, he had been in love with the idea of her.

"He loved the boy. But, he wouldn't admit that, because he had to marry and produce and heir, and the kingdom was in danger, so an heir was needed as soon as possible so that the line would be maintained.

"It was his duty.

"And so, he pretended not to love the boy, even when the boy and the priestess and their friends were leaving on a dangerous mission, and he feared that he might never see the boy again. Still, he refused to admit that he loved him. And he was so lonely, without the boy, but he pretended it was the priestess and their friends that he missed.

"And then the boy died. And he couldn't deny it anymore, because of his grief.

"He was so sad, he felt that he might die as well. And when he was grieving for the boy, he met a girl from the seraglio that was also grieving. She looked almost like the boy's feminine mirror, although the boy was already fairly feminine. She loved the boy, too, and so she understood how the Emperor felt. That's why the Emperor made that girl his Empress."

Ry perked up. "You mean... Houki?"


"Wow. Really? I didn't know that." Ry pondered. Nuriko had been friends with Houki, as much as two members of the harem could be friends. Houki was quiet and sweet, and the other girls had made fun of her for it, calling her the Lady Kourin's shadow. Nuriko had protected her, because she reminded Nuriko of Kourin. That she became the Empress and mother of the future Emperor... It felt good, in a strange way, like he and Kourin had won the Emperor.

"Yes. Houki comforted the Emperor and made no demands of him. She was a good Empress. And while the Emperor did his duty by her," Sai shuddered slightly, "he never stopped loving the boy.

"When war came to the Emperor's lands, he didn't even think it sad or strange. During the major battle, he joined his army, leading the forces into the fray. His Empress was far along in her pregnancy, and the Emperor longed more than anything to be with his love again. So, despite his advisor's pleas, he put on his battle armor and went into the fray. He met the general of the opposing army, a man who was gifted with power from a foreign god, while the Emperor was cut off from the power of his god. He knew he couldn't win, but he would fight against him, even though it meant that he would never see his child, or be able to defend his priestess. The Emperor was at peace, because he knew that he would be returning to his love."

Ry cuddled up to Sai, bending his head down.

Sai continued, speaking softly into the top of Ry's head. "Eventually, the evil was destroyed and the Emperor's lands were saved, and all was as well as it could be. Then, something miraculous happened. The Emperor and all of his friends were given a second chance. A chance to join the priestess in her world, in her time, and be together again. No one knew how it had happened, but it didn't matter.

"The Emperor and the boy were reunited. The boy was, if anything, even more beautiful than he ever was before. He was free, no longer forced to pretend to be a girl to pursue his love.

"He took the Emperor's breath away.

"And, well, after some time passed for them to get used to the idea of being together, the Emperor was able to woo the boy, and win his affections. And they were both very, very happy."

"What happened next?" Ry's quiet voice sounded like a child's.

Sai shrugged. Somehow, he knew 'they lived happily ever after' wasn't the right answer. "I don't know. I guess we'll find out, together." He kissed Ry's head, rubbing his cheek against the soft hair.

Ry snuggled in until it was hard to tell where one of them ended and the next began, and fell into a dreamless sleep.

Ryuen slipped into Genrou's room, carefully balancing the tray he held. He didn't want to wake his friend, but as it was nearly evening, he figured it wouldn't be too bad.

Genrou was face down on the bed, a small dark spot betraying his drooling ways. The young man was still in the same clothes he wore last night, and the whole room smelled like alcohol mixed with sweat, among other bodily odors.

Setting the tray down gently on the table near the bed, Ryuen sat down and began to pet the hair into order. His heart broke to see Genrou like this, and while he mainly just wanted to comfort his friend and help him, he knew that he would have to be a lot more confrontational if he wanted to do any real good.

"Gen-chan?" Gently rubbing the stubbly cheek as he spoke in his singsong voice. "Gen-chan. I brought you tea to help settle your stomach, and some plain rice. How are you feeling?"

"Howrdya think I fucnkin' feel, man?" Genrou didn't open his eyes to speak.

"Hm." Ryuen poured out some tea, letting the aroma drift towards Genrou. "Well, that's not too surprising, is it? You've been out binging every night this week."

"Finalsr ov'r, man. Whaddya expect?"

"And before that, you were going out three or four nights a week, coming home unconscious or close to it. You keep this up, and no pyrotechnics firm in the world will hire you. Then, you'll have to join a 12-step program, and you won't be able to drink for the rest of your life. Somehow, I don't think that's what you want."

Genrou grunted, pulling the pillow around his head. "Wha wud you kno' 'bout wha I want?"

Ryuen sighed. "I know you want to be with Kouji, and he doesn't want to be with you."

"Fuck you." At least Genrou was speaking clearly now.

"I know all about self-destructive behavior, Gen-chan. When I was in high school, I actually knew streetwalkers who were more discriminating than I was. Literally. I'm not judging you, not by a long shot. But... I'm afraid. I'm afraid that there's only so many times that you can do this to yourself before you end up dead. And I don't want to go to any funerals. The only black I look good in is leather."

Genrou actually sort of chuckled. "What do you want me to do, man? I'm not in charge of this. If I were, I would be at home with Kouji every night, banging our ways inta oblivion. So, what am I supposed to do?"

Ryuen sighed, and looked at his hands. "Well, I'm not the best person to get relationship advice from, maybe, but I think that you can't keep going on like this, taking whatever scraps of his affections he feels all right about handing out at the moment, retracting them the next..." Ryuen couldn't keep the bitterness out of his voice. "I don't know what it's like to deny your sexuality, but I know that if you keep trying to play his game, you'll end up killing yourself."

Genrou sat up, so he could look Ryuen in the eye. "So, how do I make him love me back? Can I make him see that being gay isn't the end of the world?"

Ryuen sighed. "Gen-chan, you can't make him be ok with this anymore that you can make yourself stop loving him. But, you can stop letting him tear you apart. I think... I think you need to make him see what he's doing to you. I think you need to be honest with him."

"What does that mean?" Genrou's face screwed up into the cutest expression of confusion.

"I think... you need to tell him that you love him."

Genrou paled. It wasn't so bad, because so did Ryuen.

"But...! I never said that I...!"

"Gen-chan, don't lie to yourself. You know that you do. You love him. It's ok."

"No it's not! I can't tell him that! Fuck, Ry-chan, he'd probably fuckin' kill me! How could I do that to him?"

"I don't know how you can keep going on, not letting yourself or him know the truth. We'll be here for you, Gen-chan, we will. You won't be alone."

Genrou snorted. "Maybe not, but I might as well be. Fuck. I've known Kouji since we were kids, we grew up together, we've been best friends since before I remember! I can't do something that will make us not be friends anymore! He's too important to me, Ry-chan!"

Ryuen looked away. "You love him too much to lose him, but if you don't risk losing him, then you will never get the chance to be with him. Don't you see, Gen-chan? You lose him either way. If you say nothing, then things continue the way they are, and you end up in the hospital or in rehab or worse, and he'll be with you, but as your friend, the one that gets privileges, but never tells you he loves you. If you do, maybe he'll leave you forever, but you'll have your friends here to help you cope. Maybe he'll be as afraid of losing you as you are of him. Maybe that fear will be what he needs to face the truth." Ryuen didn't think so, but it was possible.

Genrou snarled. "Are you talking about me or you there? It gets a little confusing in places. Damn it, Ryuen, how can you tell me that I need ta 'fess up and tell him the truth when you can't even tell the guy you're sleeping with that you love him? How do ya think Sai-san feels when he tells you that he loves you and gets nothing in return? How can you tell me what I gotta do when you can't be a man and tell your lover how you really feel either?"

Ryuen recoiled in horror, not having expected that.

Genrou sighed, and looked away. He sure as hell didn't mean to hurt his friend. "I'm sorry, Ry-chan. I didn't mean to say that. Shit. Look, I'll make a deal with ya. You tell Sai-san that you love him, and I'll tell Kouji that I love him. How's that sound?"

Ryuen stared at Genrou's outstretched hand like it was the plague. He couldn't... But wasn't Genrou right? Wasn't he being a hypocrite, telling him one thing and then doing the opposite himself?

Reaching out with a trembling hand, he took Genrou's. "All right, Gen-chan. But, please, promise me you'll try to take it easy with the binging. I worry. You want to put wrinkles on this beautiful face?"

Genrou actually laughed, ruffling Ryuen hair and initiating a light wrestling match.

He felt sick to his stomach, but he knew it wasn't last night. He had a lot to think about now.

Ryuen and Saihitei were at the kitchen table making decorations for the New Year's Party as they listened to Miaka and Taka argue about the food, bumping their knees together every other moment or two, accidentally. Miaka and Ryuen had gotten Saihitei to agree to another party once they promised to keep it small. Ryuen had even promised not to invite the national soccer team, although Saihitei suspected that that was more because he knew that he couldn't play with them this time around anyway.

Ryuen and Saihitei were in charge of decorations and invitations, which they made super sparkly, to annoy Taka. Miaka and Taka were in charge of food, which was why they were arguing, as Taka didn't relish paying for what Miaka considered to be an appropriate amount of food for a party. Genrou was in charge of the pyrotechnics, which scared Saihitei silly, but Ryuen reminded him that Tasuki was always very good at blowing stuff up back in the days, and only Tamahome ever got singed, so everything would be all right. That did not reassure Taka. Houjun was going to take care of the beverages, which surprised everyone, but Genrou had taken his conversation with Ryuen to heart. Somewhat. He'd only come home falling down drunk twice since then, which he considered to be an improvement.

Myojuan and Do-kun were in charge of showing up, and cleaning up. They didn't mind, since they knew that Saihitei would end up helping out anyway. He didn't trust anyone with a vacuum except himself.

Ryuen was so busy trying to get his leg intertwined with Sai's that he almost missed it.

"But Taka! We have to get the pad thai noodles!"

"Miaka, we're already ordering Chinese and Japanese and American and getting six different kinds of desserts plus candy and chips!"

"But it's Yui-chan's favorite!"

"Well, something has to give, Miaka! We can't buy all the food that you want, it's a party, not an army!"

"Taka, don't be so rude, I just want everyone to be happy, and as anyone knows, the stomach is that way to happiness."

"Hey, did you say..." Ryuen tried to interject.

"To your happiness, and yes, you've mentioned it a few million times..."

"Is Yui-san..." Ryuen tried to catch Miaka's eye.

"Oh, are you complaining about how much I eat? You think I'm fat, don't you?! Well, tough luck, 'cause you are stuck with me now, so deal with it! You knew what you were getting into when this all started!"

"Miaka! Taka!" Ryuen waited until the echo of his yell died out. "Did you say that Yui-san was coming to the party?"

"Yes!" Miaka bounced happily. "She and Tetsuya and Keisuke are all coming! Isn't that great, Ry-chan?"

"Um, yeah, that's super, but... I didn't know that... And I invited a few friends of my own..." Ryuen paled and actually looked sheepish, his toes tracing patterns on the floor.

Everyone stared at him for a moment before little light bulbs went on over their heads.

When Miaka finally got it, she wailed and clutched Taka's waist.

"But I'm sure it will be all right!" Ryuen piped in before anyone could say anything. "Kaen will keep Ayuru in line. I'm sure. And if he gets out of line, I can always kick him out. But I'm sure he'll behave himself. Likely. And the twins are fun, ask Sai. So everything will be fine. I'm sure."

No one seemed as sure.

"I don't want to seem untrusting, love, but wasn't Suboshi sort of... obsessed with Yui-san?" Saihitei ventured timidly.

Ryuen paused. "Oh, but that won't be a problem because Shun is way more obsessed with his brother than with anyone else, so 'Toku can keep him in line." Ryuen nodded, for emphasis.

"Yui-chan... and Nakago... are going to be in the same house!?!?!? Ryuen, no! Do you know how upset she was, for years!, about how she mistreated me and how she was tricked by that... person?? I'm not going to subject her to that kind of stress! No. She's been my friend since we were in pre-school. No."

Ryuen's lips thinned. "Ayuru's been my friend since we were in diapers."

Miaka stared at him in disbelief. "But... Yui-chan has been with me through everything! And, I haven't seen her in ages!"

Ryuen quirked his lips dangerously. Speaking in a low tone, "Ayuru was with me through everything, too. And we've never not spent New Year's together."

"But, surely, you want to spend New Year's with Sai-kun this year." Miaka pleaded.

"Of course. What does that have to do with anything?"

"But... but... they can't both be here!" Miaka turned to Taka and Saihitei, looking for support.

Saihitei shifted in his seat. Nothing would please him more than denying the blonde bastard access, but he knew that it wasn't that simple. No matter what else he had been to Ryuen, he had always been a friend. Sort of. Even when Saihitei hadn't been a friend, and Ryuen had desperately needed one... "Miaka-kun, there's no reason why they can't both be here. Ryuen's promised that Ayuru will behave, and that he will kick him out if he doesn't. That's got to be enough. Anyway, I don't think that Yui-san is as fragile as you think. I suspect that she won't have any trouble dealing with Ayuru."

"What makes you think that, Sai-kun?" It galled Miaka, but if Saihitei said it was all right, there was nothing she could do. Except warn Yui-chan. After all, it was his house.

Saihitei shrugged. "Seishi thing, I guess. Nakago lost, Miaka-kun, and Ayuru... well, he's not without his redeeming qualities. Few and far between as they might be."

Miaka sighed. She hated losing.

Ryuen watched Saihitei with glittering eyes. As soon as Miaka and Taka went back to discussing the food, which was far more amicable now that Taka knew that Miaka had already lost one argument and she wasn't likely to lose two, Ryuen's foot slid up Saihitei's leg, pulling Saihitei's foot in between Ryuen's legs. When Saihitei turned to give him a quizzical look, Ryuen simply leaned over and kissed his lover gently.

"What was that for?" Sai asked, his amber eyes warm and happy.

"For understanding." Ry smiled that special smile, the one that Sai knew was real.

It didn't bother him that much that Ayuru was coming to the party now.

The party was going to be a sedate one, by most college kid's standards, but no one minded much. Finals were still fresh in everyone's minds, and the next term was going to be starting all too quickly. A quiet evening with close friends, some food, some liquor, and some stuff being blown up was all anyone wanted.

Yui, Tetsuya, and Keisuke arrived shortly after noon. Many introductions were made as Miaka bounced from one housemate to the next, happily showing off her brother and friends.

Keisuke and Taka caught up with each other, as Keisuke informed Taka of how things were going for him at the paper where he worked, and of how his mother was doing.

Miaka's mother did not like Taka, so knowing that her brother did like him meant a lot to Taka, even if it did feel like hero-worship a lot of the time.

Yui had been particularly interested in meeting Ryuen. After hearing all of Miaka's stories, she wasn't sure if anyone could possibly meet up to the legend Miaka had built in Yui's mind.

When Ryuen and Saihitei had come tumbling out of the hall closet, clothes mussed up, Yui decided that he exceeded all expectations.

Miaka had never mentioned what a hot bod the boy had.

Taka just shook his head. "Were you guys 'decorating' the hall closet?"

Ryuen giggled. "Well, Sai-chan did do a little decorating in there, but he's going to clean it up before the party starts!"

As Saihitei, red-faced, went off to find a hot, wet rag to wipe up the closet, Ryuen bowed to Yui and Tetsuya. Winking, he looked Tetsuya up and down. "Nice, Yui-san."

She just grinned. Ryuen was everything she had hoped he would be. "Same, Ryuen-san."

They didn't have much time to chat, then, though, since Ryuen felt the need to drag Saihitei upstairs after he had finished up in the hall closet. Insisting that they needed to get dressed for the party, he wasn't deterred when Miaka had reminded them that the party wasn't for another 9 hours.

Ryuen hoped that they would be ready in time, but told them not to wait for them.

Yui spent most of the afternoon with Miaka, catching up on all the girl talk that just wasn't the same over the phone as it was in person.

They were still in the kitchen catching up when the house began to fill up with guests and the party was getting started.

Ryuen and Saihitei had finally come downstairs, looking fresh as if they had just woken up.

They probably had.

Ryuen had obviously let Saihitei dress him again, as he was wearing the leather pants with the ties running up the legs, and the matching shirt, that he had worn when they went to the club together.

It was a new year, and new memories were being made.

Yui openly admired Ryuen, much to Tetsuya's embarrassment, as he suggestively leaned in to Saihitei to ask him something. Her attention didn't go unnoticed. With a saucy grin, Ryuen turned so that he could see her, asking lightly, "Do you like the view, Yui-san?"

She smiled. "You two are so cute together." Ryuen had Saihitei wear a crimson v-neck silk sweater, and a pair of silk black pants that Ryuen had gotten Saihitei as a Christmas present. Saihitei was also wearing an onyx dewdrop pendant from a choker that Ryuen had bought him. With his long hair swept back and hanging free down his back, and Ryuen in his tight, revealing clothing hanging off of him, the word 'cute' wasn't the first adjective most people would think to use to describe the pair. "I'd say that you were going to have beautiful children, but I guess that doesn't really apply. Still, I bet you two have beautiful reproductive acts."

Ryuen laughed, causing Saihitei to hold his tongue. "Oh, Yui-san, somehow I knew you'd be that kind of girl!" With a wink, he dragged Saihitei off to catch up with Genrou, and make sure that he wasn't prematurely burning anything down.

Yui was still smirking at Ryuen's and Saihitei's retreating rears when that arresting deep voice shocked her.

"Yui-sama. An honor to see you again."

Turning, she found herself the recipient of Ayuru's bow, as his mocking eyes met hers.

Narrowing her eyes, she nearly grinned. "Ayuru-san, isn't it? Please don't mock me."

Chuckling, he raised himself up again. "Why ever would you suggest that I would mock you, Yui-sama?"

She could feel that old heat enter her as she watched him through narrowed eyes, his teasing posture infuriating her. She had to remind herself that he no longer held any power over her.

Feeling nervous, the woman at his arm cleared his throat. "Ah, excuse me, but I realize that technically we've met before, but I'm afraid I am still at a loss. Please, let me introduce myself. My name is Haku Kaen. It is a pleasure."

Yui turned her gaze to Kaen, taking in her impeccable wardrobe and stylish hair. Soi had always seemed like an unbearable skank, but even Yui had to admit that she had fared well through reincarnation. "The pleasure's all mine. My name is Hongo Yui, and this is my boyfriend, Kajiwara Tetsuya."

Tetsuya tilted his head, forcing his hands to release the fists that he had made when confronted with Nakago. "Ah, a pleasure, Haku-san."

Kaen smiled warmly. "Please, call me Kaen. Ryuen always has such taste in friends. Well," looking to her boyfriend, "most of the time anyway. I love your skirt, Yui-san. Is that Versace?"

Yui smiled. Soi had definitely reincarnated well. "As a matter of fact, yes, it is. And I love your boots, Prada?"

"Kenneth Cole."

Ayuru looked Tetsuya up and down. "Yui-sama, I'm disappointed. I expected you to do great things." He managed to not emphasize 'do', but he did let his lips twitch.

Yui noticed.

Tetsuya was about to mount a complaint, when he girlfriend silenced him with a gesture.

"Tetsuya, why don't you show Kaen-san to the food and beverages? I'd like to have a word with Ayuru-san, if Kaen-san doesn't mind?"

Kaen just tossed back her hair. "Hey, if you want him, he's yours, but trust me, he's more trouble than he's worth!" With that, she took Tetsuya's arm and led him away, allowing him to think that he was leading.

Ayuru just sighed as his eyes wandered heavenward, his girlfriend trailing off with Yui's boyfriend. "They make a cute couple. Don't suppose you would be interested in a trade?"

Yui grinned. "Well, the offer is interesting, but I don't think that you are Tetsuya's type."

Ayuru smiled, his eyes flashing. There was nothing he loved more than a good challenge. "It is good to see you again, Yui-sama. I must admit, I've wondered about you many times in the past."

Yui resisted the flinch. "Would you mind dropping the -sama? It's really annoying."

He honestly looked surprised. "Why should my respect annoy you, I wonder?"

"If you did respect me, I wouldn't be annoyed!" Yui smiled, so no one else could tell she was losing her temper.

"Oh, Yui-sama. You never did understand me, did you?" He smiled down at her, making her feel like she was a small child.

A bright peal of laughter ripped his attention away, a small scowl entering his face as he saw Ryuen leaning on Saihitei, Saihitei's hand on Ryuen's hip, as they laughed over something with Miaka and Taka.

Yui grinned.

"I may not understand you perfectly, Ayuru-san, but I understand your objectives plainly enough. I can read it in your eyes, you know. I guess I spent enough time with you to see, now, what I couldn't before... If I were you, I would leave them alone." She spoke with all the arrogance she could muster, and with just a snitch of wickedness.

She knew he would appreciate it.

He turned his eyes to her, not pretending to misunderstand. "And why should you care if the former emperor gets his wish granted or not? What's it to you?"

She titled her head, watching him carefully. "I don't, really. I just enjoy denying you. I guess I got a taste for it, and I'd like to try it again."

He chuckled, a low, dangerous sound. "And how do you propose to keep me from my objective, hm? I know them far better than you. It's only a matter of time, I'm afraid, before Ryuen comes crying to me. And if you think I'm going to turn away my oldest and sexiest friend..."

She chuckled herself, now, a kittenish noise compared to his lion's laugh. "Far be it from me to suggest you turn away a friend in need, but if you interfere with them..."

He leaned closer to her, waiting to hear what she was going to say with an almost obscene interest.

"...I'll tell Taka what Nakago did with Tamahome when he had him under his thrall. You know, with the whips, and the chains, and the lube..." She paused, letting the full force of her words sink in.

He very nearly looked startled. "How did you know that Tamahome and I had sex?"

"Well, first of all, I'm not stupid. I saw the way you looked at him." She continued, ignoring his dubious look. "And second of all, you just told me." She smiled, serenely. "Now, I realize that Taka will probably kill you if he finds out, and end up in prison, but, well, that will just mean that I will have Miaka all to myself."

Ayuru had to laugh. It was the only thing he could do. "Ah, Yui-sama, I knew that I was going to be a good influence on you..."

"I picked up a trick or two." Another grin.

"There's no reason for us to be enemies, Yui-sama." Now, when he said it, it wasn't quite so mocking. "Why don't we be friends? After all, you were my priestess, and I was your lead seishi..."

Her eyes narrowed. "You were a great many thing more than that as well, Ayuru, and some of those things, I can't quite forgive. But you are right, there's no reason for us to be enemies. As long as you don't do anything that would make Miaka cry, like break up two of her closest friends."

Ayuru leaned back, amused. Yui had grown up well. "As you say, Yui-sama, no reason for us to be enemies."

Yui felt triumphant, even if a part of her mind was furiously trying to remind her that Nakago could not be trusted. Still, she felt pretty good. She had seen Nakago again, and she hadn't run screaming for the hills.

A triumph like that deserved a drink to celebrate.

As she headed into the common room to get herself something with a kick, she saw the one sight guaranteed to make her hair stand on end and her stomach go queasy.

Coming in the front door were the Boshi twins.

Before she had a chance to turn tail and hide, Miaka was grabbing her arm and pulling her in to meet Myojuan's girlfriend, as if she cared at all.

Ryuen jumped up to meet the twins, giving them both a hug and a quick kiss hello. To Yui's, and most of the room's, surprise, Saihitei also stood up and hugged both of the twins.

Yui was sure that the one that tried to grab Saihitei's ass must be Suboshi, although she really couldn't tell. Both of the boys were dressed to kill, which Yui sincerely hoped was not on the docket for the evening. They both wore tight black vinyl pants, and one wore a tight red mesh shirt, while the other wore a tight blue mesh shirt. Their hairstyles were different, but their haircuts were fairly similar, and they both had the same eye makeup, accentuating their eyes and giving them a slight goth look.

Yui felt her heart leap into her throat, and she furiously tried to signal Tetsuya to come to her side, as Ryuen and Saihitei led the twins to meet her.

"This is Miaka's friend, Hongo Yui," Ryuen smiled at Yui, trying to reassure her. "Yui-san, this is Bu Koutoku, or 'Toku, and his brother Shunkaku, or Shun."

'Toku smiled, extending his hand gracefully. Yui accepted it, thinking in the back of her head that she was shaking the hand that had been on Saihitei's ass. "It's a pleasure, Yui-san. Although, I have this feeling that we've met before."

"Wow, you're really pretty." Yui steeled herself as Shun stared at her with wide-eyed wonder. She noticed with a grimace that Tetsuya was finally disengaging himself from Kaen and heading towards her. "Oh, look, Cheez Nips! Yum!!" And with that, Shun was off in search of cheesy treats.

'Toku shook his head with a smile. "Please forgive my brother. He tends to be a bit hyperactive, as well as a touch ADD, with a dash of neurosis. He loves parties."

"I am so not shocked." Yui smiled at 'Toku, feeling like someone had lifted a weight off her shoulders.

He grinned at her. "Well, I suppose not. It is good to see you again, Yui-san, and see that you are well. And I presume this is your boyfriend?" 'Toku nodded to Tetsuya, who had finally arrived to defend his girlfriend from her former stalker. "I take it you never grew out of your older-man thing."

"No, I just grew into it," Yui responded as she squeezed Tetsuya's waist. He reveled for a moment in the attention; Yui was usually rather cold unless she was actually in the mood.

"Good for you!" 'Toku glanced up as he heard something crashing in the vicinity of his brother. "I better catch up with Shun. I hate it when he gets into mischief without me!"

Yui waved as he left, watching as he slipped in behind his brother and put his arms around him, kissing his neck. She continued to watch with wide-eyed amazement as Shun turned and kissed his brother on the mouth.

Turning her eyes away at Tetsuya's attempts to divert her attention by hacking up a lung, she caught Ryuen's grin. "Do they do that a lot?"

He smiled at her, flipping his purple ponytail behind him with a flick of his wrist. "Thankfully, yes. See, aren't you glad you meet the twins again?"

She giggled. "As a matter of fact, yes!"

Taka came up behind Tetsuya and kicked the back of his knee. "Ooh, careful, there, Tetsuya. Hey, Keisuke and I were going to get a soccer ball and play a little in the back. Wanna come?"

"Sure, sure, as long as I get to be on your team. You play dirty, man..." Tetsuya tried to appear coordinated as he used his girlfriend as a crutch to steady himself.

"Sai-san? You up for a game?"

"Uh..." Saihitei looked from Tetsuya to Taka to Ryuen. "Well, I'm not really dressed for it..."

"Oh, that's right, your majesty, wouldn't want to muss up your hair before your royal concubine..." Taka nodded, mock serious.

Saihitei narrowed his eyes.

Ryuen sighed. "Oh, go play. It's not like you'd need to break a sweat beating these guys..."

Taka grinned. "Please! I'm recruiting him for my team! Genrou already has Myojuan and Houjun. I need someone to give me an edge!"

Saihitei smiled. "I'll play, but only because your team would be so pathetically outclassed if I didn't."

"Aw, Sai-kun, you are a prince among men, my friend!" Taka grinned, knowing that Saihitei was one of the only people on the planet who would take that as an insult.

Ryuen grinned, and pinched his lover's side. "He called you a prince."

"I know," Saihitei said, rolling his eyes. "He will be dealt with later."

"You coming, Ryuen-san?" Tetsuya was half-turned, ready to leave with the others.

"Nah. I'm gonna stay here with the girls. It'll be easier to talk about you boys with you out of the way." He winked at Saihitei, giving him a little pat on the bum as he left.

Yui immediately grabbed Ryuen's arm and dragged him to a seat off to the side, ready to assault him with questions. "Ok, I want the dirt. What's with the twins?"

Ryuen smiled, shaking his head. "What you see. They're... close. Closer than brothers ever usually are."

Yui shook her head, stunned. "I don't think I want to know how that got started..."

"Yui-san... I hope Ayuru behaved himself. Miaka told you, I'm sure, that if he didn't, I'd kick him out for you."

Yui smiled, at both what he said and the serious tone in which he said it. "Thanks, Ryuen-kun, but it's all right. I... well, I dealt with him as best I could. He wasn't so bad."

"Good. I didn't want to have to kick his ass. These pants don't have a lot of give..."

Yui giggled as she ogled Ryuen in his pants. "I can see that! Man, those don't leave much to the imagination, do they?"

"They leave enough," he said with a wink. "Plus, they are fun to get into, if you have some help..."

"And I'm sure that Saihitei-san was more than willing to help you out!"

"Yes," he said with a sigh. "Although his help did prove to be counterproductive after a certain point..."

"Depends on what you were trying to produce!"

He shook his head, smiling.

"So, um, Ryuen-kun... you've been with Ayuru, right?" She chewed her lip.

He raised an eyebrow and suppressed a grin. "Yes?"

"What... what is he like? In bed?" Her eyes were nearly shaking.

He smiled. "Well... he's accomplished. Adventurous. Thorough."

"Nice." She stared off into space, dreamy.

"I didn't realize that you had a crush on him!"

She blushed. "Well, I did spend a lot of time with him... and I thought he was my savior...and he's hot..."

Laughing, "True enough!"

"So, um... how big is he?" She watched him intently as he thought over his answer.

"Long enough to notice. Wide enough, when hard, to give you that extra-tight feeling. Pretty well proportioned, actually."

She grinned. "Oh, you are bad. I like you! Ok, what about the twins? Miaka kinda hinted that she thought you might have been with them too..."

"With them, with them both, with all three... yeah."

"Oooh! Details!"

He laughed. "Ok, let's see. 'Toku is really sweet, very big on kissing and taking his time. Shun is all about kinetic energy. When they are together, it's like, they know each other so well, you feel like you are in the middle of some complex Olympic sex event, and they are going for the gold! And with Ayuru... well, surprise surprise, he's very domineering, so it gets to be very kinky and very... carnal."

She watched him with open-mouthed wonder. "Wow. Just... Wow. I feel like such a prude now! I mean, Tetsuya and I... we've done stuff, some interesting stuff... but. Well. I don't know. He's very submissive, which, hello, he's with me," Ryuen managed to squelch his giggle, "but I don't know. It feels like he's either not giving in enough or giving in too much, it's hard to tell."

"Have you ever played dom/sub type games?" Anyone else asking her that would have seen her cheeks turn bright red, but Ryuen was so blasé about it, she didn't even feel nervous.

"Well... not specifically, but we've hinted around it. I actually... I think I'd really like to tie him up and make him squeal, but I just don't know how to approach that! It seems so... outer limits."

"Hm." Ryuen pondered. "Well, it's not the sort of thing you can bring up at the breakfast table, out of the blue. Here's what I would suggest. One night, get into your sexiest lingerie, and start out simple, maybe use some silk scarves in foreplay, and tie him up. See how he reacts. If he doesn't blow his mind, then talk to him about playing games. While driving him crazy with pleasure. You'd be surprised, but when you've got a man's dick in your mouth, he'll pretty much agree to anything you say. Then, later, if you bring it up, it won't be so weird, 'cause you will have already talked about it!"

Yui laughed, appreciating the simplicity of the scheme. "Thanks, Ry-kun! You should have a sex advice column, you are so wise!!" She winked at him, grinning.

He winked back, and grinned. "Take note, grasshopper, and I can teach you much."

Laughing, she bumped her head against him. "Soooo... Tell me about Saihitei. He's damn hot. What's he like?"

Ryuen raised his eyebrow and looked down his cute little nose at her. "Excuse me? That's certainly none of your concern, missy."

"Oh, c'mon, you told me other stuff, I told you about Tetsuya. Why won't you tell me about Saihitei?" She poked him, trying to look cute and puppyish.

"No way. Some things are private. Sai's all mine, no sharing, not even of details." Out of the corner of Ryuen's eye, he could see a familiar tall figure attempting to look casual.

"So, you won't even tell me who's bigger, Saihitei or Ayuru?"

"Sorry, Yui-chan, you'll just have to wonder. But not too much, because Saihitei's privates are not for your enjoyment, even in daydreams!" He poked her nose sternly, causing her to sigh.

"Oh well. I tried. Hey... Have Miaka and Taka...?" She looked away, not wanting him to see too much.

He watched her, a small smile playing with his lips. Impulsively, he reached out and hugged her tight, kissing her cheek. "You're a good friend, Yui-chan, you know that?"

She blushed, hugging him back after a moment. "I... haven't always been."

"No, but that's in the past. And you and Miaka are going to be friends all your life. That's really rare and wonderful, if you think about it. Not everyone gets to share a friendship that precious."

She turned her face to look him in the eye. Slowly, she began to smile. "I know, Ry-chan. I just... sometimes, I forget. Thank you for reminding me."

"Anytime, luv."

She kissed his cheek. "All right, I need to go check on Tetsuya. I have to make sure those other mean boys haven't been mistreating my property."

Ryuen smiled. "You definitely need to check into the whips and chains, babe!"

Winking over her shoulder, she set off to check on her boy.

Ryuen waited for the count of three, and then spoke without looking at who he was talking to, "How long have you been listening to us?"

"Long enough to be afraid of her, and long enough to be very happy with you. I'm sorry, Ry-chan, I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but the game was uneven, and I really didn't want to get my clothes dirty, or my hair messed up..."

Ry turned to hold out a hand to his lover. "Please, Sai, I would much rather have you here with me anyway."

Sai smiled as he accepted Ry's hand and sat with him. "Good. I guess you and Yui got along all right..." He leaned in to kiss Ry's neck gently.

"Yeah. She's a little scary, but in a fun way." He arched his neck, giving Sai more room to explore.

"Mm. So..." Sai licked his way up to Ry's ear. "Which one of us is bigger? Me or Ayuru?"

Ry giggled silently. "Weeeeeell... you are slightly longer, I think, but slightly slimmer as well. But you know, I've never really been a size queen." Ry turned so he could hold Sai. "Dimensions aren't as important as who you are. What you do to me has nothing to do with your size."

"So... I'm longer." Sai nodded, satisfied.

Ry laughed, spinning to straddle Sai's lap. "Yes, darling, you are longer. You long, lean, masculine, beauty, you..."

Ry let his mouth touch Sai's, a kiss growing slowly between them, Sai's fingers burrowing into the open spaces in Ry's pants to grasp flesh and pull Ry closer.

They couldn't continue for long, with all the catcalls and whistles, but they promised each other more after the New Year began.

After all, they had to celebrate it properly.

They watched Genrou's pyrotechnics wrapped in each other's embrace, Sai begrudgingly admitting that they were impressive and damn near professional looking. Ry noticed that after the party died down, Kouji went into Genrou's room, to 'crash' for the night. He also noticed Houjun noticing, and going upstairs slowly.

He pressed his lips together, determined to do what he could for his friends in this New Year.

They ended up staying up much later than they intended, chatting with Miaka, Taka, Keisuke, Tetsuya, Yui, Ayuru, and Kaen. It was an odd group, but that made for lively conversation.

When Do-kun came back at 3 am from the party Kourin had invited him to, Ryuen had to delay a bit longer, to grill him about the evening, getting the assurance he needed that his sister's purity was still intact.

Even though it was nearly 4 am before they went up to go to bed, they still made good on their promise from earlier.

After all, no matter how tired they were, they still had to get Ryuen out of his pants, and by the time they managed that feat, they were both aroused and awake.

They made love slowly, stopping four times to hold in all the feelings.

Ryuen's thoughts were in a tailspin, as he went over his conversation with Yui that night, and his conversation with Genrou earlier that week, and his last therapy session...

He grasped Sai close to him and felt, with hyperawareness, every slight sensation his lover's body drew out of him. He felt like they were connected through a hot, fluid channel, and he didn't want it to ever stop.

He didn't want to think about how different everything was with Sai, how being with Sai made him feel so new, like he could wash away his sins in Sai's sweat, like he could fall in Sai's eyes and be made new...

He didn't want to think about what he felt for Sai, even when his whole body screamed it with every touch, and with every thrust, he could feel it bleeding out of him, a gaping flesh wound that surrounded him with heat.

He couldn't deny it in these perfect moments of connection and completion, but he couldn't hold onto it forever.

When Sai fell asleep in his arms, Ry spent the early morning hours combing Sai's hair with his fingers.

He actually managed not to think, not to worry, not to fear, in the breaking light of the first day of this New Year, Ry was actually happy, lying in bed with the perfect man.

He fell asleep, and had pleasant dreams.

notesPart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart EightPart NinePart TenPart Eleven • Part Twelve • Part ThirteenPart FourteenPart FifteenPart SixteenPart SeventeenPart EighteenPart NineteenPart TwentyPart Twenty-OneEpilogue