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 16 - The Part after that part

Kourin straightened her skirt for the thousandth time. Her school uniform was perfectly neat and in place, but her hands still moved constantly to put every fold and line in place.

Do-kun reached out to take her hands in his.

Kourin's eyes couldn't be lifted up. She tried, again and again, but it wouldn't happen.

Do-kun's last words to her Valentine's Day echoed in her ears. He had kissed her goodnight outside on the corner, and then he had leaned in and whispered, 'You don't have to pretend for me. I know you love him. It's ok.'

They sat outside, the sunshine bleeding out some of the color as they had to squint slightly to see easily.

Do-kun raised Kourin's hands and kissed her knuckles with such care, she nearly fell off the bench with shock.

Choking, she managed to sputter, "Why?"

Do-kun's forehead wrinkled adorably. "I don't understand."

The cynical portion of her brain wondered how many times in his life he had had to say that. "Why... are you still being nice to me? You... you know."

Do-kun shook his head, thoughtfully. "I know. I've given it some thought. I'm not a psychologist, but I did some light reading on the topic for a project in grade school. Would... would you mind if I shared my thoughts?"

Numbly, she just shook her head.

He smiled, squeezing her hands. "See, I think that you and Ryuen shared a perfectly normal sibling relationship. He was your next older sibling, and you naturally idolized him as someone with more power and authority than you, who was still accessible. That's quite normal, of course. And then... after his assault, he identified himself as being used, equating emotional validation with physical expressions of pleasure, a natural result of being prematurely sexualized. Since you still required his validation for your own sense of self-worth, when he started to associate validation with sexual relations, you began to view him as a sexual object as well, almost as if you were prematurely sexualized as a result of contact with your brother's premature sexualization.

"Therefore, your feelings for him are a product of your desire to gain his approval coupled with his and your association of physical approval and emotional approval. I think that, over time, you have come to accept your role in your brother's heart, but with a perceived rival to his affections who he can relate to physically as well as emotionally, your self-worth was threatened.

"It's all perfectly understandable, given the proper perspective on the psychological issues at hand."

Kourin stared at the boy across from her, her little mouth in an 'o' and her eyes wide. Just when he started to fidget under her gaze, she suddenly leapt at him, throwing her arms around him, hugging him tightly. It took him a moment to realize that she was shaking with tears.

Stroking her back, confused, Do-kun tried to make calming noises.

Finally, Kourin pulled back, her wet eyes shining gratefully at him. "I always thought... that if anyone knew... they would hate me, think I was a freak... I never even hoped that anyone would try to understand me! You are the most wonderful, sweet boy in the whole world, Oh Do-kun, and I am so lucky to have you in my life!"

Do-kun blushed, shielding his face with his shaggy cinnamon hair, but Kourin wouldn't have it. She lifted his face with her hands and kissed him. When her mouth opened up, he was too surprised to even think to react, just mimicking her motions, letting her tongue creep out and touch his in a quaintly innocent fashion.

"I am so lucky." She repeated in a whisper as she rested her head on his shoulder.

His head was spinning, and tragically, the only thing he could think was, he hoped Ryuen never found out about that kiss. He was sure Kourin's protective older brother would have thoughts on the subject.

It was late afternoon. Sai breathed deeply, sucking in the fragrance of his love's sweat as if it were healing vapors. He paused only a moment longer to fully appreciate the moment. Ry's wild brown-rose eyes darted over his body with heady need. Their bodies were still wet from the bath they had shared, and the sheets were wet and the floor was wet and there were heavy wet towels in pools scattered around.

Sai's arms were crooked as he held his love and prepared to pound into him, waiting and waiting some more still to elongate this wonderful moment and to torture the fey young man panting beneath.

Ry's hands were grasping, marking white tracks through Sai's flesh like afterburns trailing behind the path of those long, elegant digits. His breathing was moist and rapid, his tiny nose flaring as he exhaled and sucked back in as he inhaled. Streaks of purple trailed over his face, wet strands sticking to his sweaty cheeks.

Sai pushed in, heaving with the effort. It was so hot, like they could burst into flames, the heat pulsing through them as they groaned and clung to each other. Each painfully slow movement seethed through their blood and their flesh and their bones like liquid fire, stoking the flames higher and higher.

Ry put his hands on Sai's face, fingertips touching cheekbones and chin and lips and nose. Sai dipped down and arched, reaching to kiss his love, fleeting touches of lip to lip to lip to lip, their bodies heaving away from each other.

Sai's chocolate-dark wet hair fell in ribbons, teasing as they dipped to touch. Ry threw his head back and opened his mouth wide, like he would scream but the air was gone. His hands reached out, just reaching, just touching, just grasping.

Ry felt the heat roil inside of him, tightening and threatening. He let the sensations spill through him, just letting them pass by and pass by again.

The door flung open, and a teary eyed Miaka burst in. "Ry-chan! Sai-kun! I need your help, please! Taka is being so unreasonable! I didn't mean to break his mp3 player, but he never told me that I shouldn't take it to class with me, and he should know better than to let me use his special stuff! And then he was lecturing me, and I'm so damned sick of him lecturing me about money and junk, and I told him, and then he got all defensive, and I didn't mean to knock him through the wall, I just forget sometimes that the walls are thinner up there! And he got all hurt, and said some stuff..."

Ryuen and Saihitei stared at the interloper, then at each other, then at the interloper again. Saihitei hastily pulled a sheet over them.

"Miaka..." Ryuen began, stupefied and short of breath.

"I don't know why he gets so mad at me over such stupid things! I think he bottles stuff in, but jeesh! When I told him I didn't like the taste, I said I would probably get over it! He doesn't need to be so sensitive all the time!"

"Miaka..." Ryuen tried again.

"And when I ruined his sweaters, it was only because I had never had to wash delicates before! I don't own any delicates, so how was I supposed to know he did?! He just never listens to me, he just thinks that I'm still the young girl he fell in love with. Just because I don't know everything doesn't mean I'm stupid!"

"MIAKA!" Ryuen finally got her attention. "Sai and I are in bed." She continued to stare at him, blankly. "And we're naked." More blank staring. "This isn't a good time. Why don't you try Houjun? He's really good with personal problems. He should be home now."

Miaka's face immediately brightened. "Thanks, Ry-chan! I'll do that."

She continued to stand there, staring at them, until Saihitei dropped his head onto Ryuen's shoulder. "Please leave now, Miaka-chan." Saihitei mumbled from his hiding place.

"Oh!" She exclaimed. "Heh, sorry! Um, have fun!" With a lingering backwards glance, she inched out and closed the door behind her.

Sai groaned, embarrassment flushing through him. And still he was hard, deep inside his love, although not nearly as hard as he was before. "I can't believe we both used to be in love with her!"

Ry sighed a laugh, smoothing Sai's hair back. "Well. In our defense, you were in denial. And I was really confused."

Sai couldn't help laughing, the mirth effervescing within him, spilling out as he started to belly laugh on top of his love.

Ry grinned up, and thrust his hips down hard. "Hey, now, big boy, you still have some work to do down here..."

Sai just laughed harder, but he managed to give Ry a sloppy kiss, and roll over, holding Ry's hips. "You do the work. I'm exhausted with embarrassment."

"You're embarrassed!? Now everyone is going to know that I'm a bottom! It'll ruin my reputation!" Ry punctuated his concern with a tight roll of his hips.

Sai just laughed until he was gasping too hard to laugh anymore.

Ryuen was stretched out on the couch with Saihitei, who was rubbing his belly as if he were a large, purple-haired cat. On the floor, Genrou and Do-kun were playing video games, Genrou swearing nearly constantly while Do-kun focused on the game with an intensity that was more than just a little frightening.

The knock at the door didn't cause any of them to move an inch.

"Hey, get the door."

"You do it."

"Someone get the fuckin' door!"


Finally, Miaka came stomping in from the kitchen. "Honestly! You boys are all so friggin' lazy!" With a disgruntled snort, she swung open the door.

No one heard her startled squeak because they were too busy giggling over her use of the word 'friggin''.

But when Ayuru sauntered in, they could understand why Miaka meekly shifted into the background. Smiling down at Ryuen's exposed belly, he tossed back his blonde mane. "I don't suppose I could pet the kitty, hm?"

"He's downstairs. You can go get him if you want." Saihitei glared daggers right into Ayuru's smirking face as he pulled his love into his arms, concealing him.

"Stand down, your highness," Ayuru admonished with a patronizing smirk. "I'm here to do you a favor. I've got two tickets for the opening of the Poorbodies' new play tonight." Pulling out the tickets with a flourish, he winked at Ryuen, hoping to get a wink back.

Ryuen frowned. "Why are you giving us the tickets?"

Ayuru shrugged, still smiling, but it was obvious to his oldest friend that he was on the run now. "I got a couple, nice tickets too, tenth row orchestra, but Kaen wants to go to the beach this weekend. You know how much she loves the beach, right Ry-chan?"

Ryuen ignored the rub, still frowning. "And how did you get these tickets, Ayuru-chan? I thought the opening night was for special guests only."

Now Ayuru knew he had had it. Shrugging nonchalantly, "Chuin gave them to me. He's in it."

Groaning, Ryuen flopped back. "No. Way! I'm not going in your place to one of Chuin's plays! He probably gave you those tickets as a special gift, expecting you to be there, so that you could spend the night with him! And now you want me to go in your place, with only a few hours before curtain! And try to explain to him why you are spending time with Kaen instead of with him, again!"

"That's it!" Ayuru replied cheerfully.

"No. Way! Damn it, Ayuru, he hates me! And in case you forgot, I hate him too!!" Ryuen glared at his friend.

Ayuru sighed. "Ryuen... I promised him I would go! His parent's could care less about him, he doesn't exactly have many friends..."

"Well, if he didn't take naked pictures of people and post them on the internet, he might have more friends." Ryuen crossed his arms over his chest, like a petulant child.

"He's depending on me to be there. He's the star of the show, and I'm the only person he can dredge up to go see him!"

"Am I supposed to be feeling sorry for the little creep? Because if I am, then you must be on drugs."

"It's supposed to be a really great play." Ayuru switched tactics. "Chuin may be a horrid little weasel, but he's a superb actor. The seats are great. And you would only have to stay behind a little and explain that I'm gonna go next week instead. Please, Ryuen. I don't often ask you for favors. And I hardly see you anymore, now that you are so busy with Sai-san..."

"Oh, for the love of... The last thing I need right now is to feel guilty because I'm neglecting someone else for Sai!" Ryuen rolled his eyes and threw up his arms. Ayuru couldn't repress that tiny evil smirk that always cropped up when he got his way. Saihitei narrowed his eyes, but said nothing, just put his arm around his love's shoulder. "What do you think, Sai? Would you like to go to the play?" Ryuen's brown-rose eyes shimmered as he turned to his lover for advice.

Saihitei felt torn. Shrugging, "I've heard that the play should be incredible. I was thinking of maybe taking you sometime..."

"All right then!" Ayuru stood up, beaming. "It's settled, then! Have a good time, boys, remember to tell Chuin that I'm sorry and that I'll catch it next week..."

"You really are a bastard, Ayuru." Ryuen sulked, resting his chin on his elbow as he glared at his friend.

Ayuru made a kissy face and smiled. "But that's what you love about me, right, Ry-chan?"

Ryuen rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at him. "I guess we'd better get dressed, huh?"

The play had been miraculous. The theater was cozy and comfortable, filled to capacity with an awed audience. The standing ovation had lasted more than five minutes. Chuin, under his makeup and costume, was blushing madly as people stood and cheered for him.

Only Ryuen noticed how his eyes darted over the tenth row, searching, and then turned back, stilled.

He had enjoyed getting dressed up and going out with Saihitei, but now the part that he didn't want was coming.

In the lobby, there was wine and cheese, and everyone was milling about, anxious to congratulate the cast and crew. Eventually, after the crowd had thinned measurably and Ryuen and Saihitei had had a long discussion about whether or not they should leave, a very sullen Chuin showed up.

Instantly swarmed by effusive admirers, the pale silvery-black haired boy seemed to be outnumbered, his panic clearly evident. Fortunately, his costar took pity on him, taking his arm and answering some questions, leading him to the bar and discretely weeding out some of his following.

Finally, Ryuen and Saihitei were able to reach him to talk to him.

Saihitei watched the former seishi with deep distrust. He protectively slid an arm around Ryuen's waist.

Ryuen privately grinned at Saihitei's gesture as he offered Chuin the lilies they had bought on the way to the theater. "It was a really great show, Chuin. You really are a gifted actor."

Pouting, Chuin took the lilies with detached appreciation. "So, where's Ayuru? With his girlfriend?"

Ryuen sighed. He hated getting in the middle of his friend's affairs. Not for the first time in his life, he thanked the four gods that he had been born under Suzaku's sky, instead of Seiyruu's. "He went away for the weekend with Kaen, yeah. But he promised that he would come next weekend."

Chuin looked down at his shoes, his lip quivering. "He's always doing this. I bet she suggested that they go away specifically so he wouldn't be here for me. But I just don't understand why he lets her do stuff like this! He knows he's my only real friend..."

Saihitei looked away, unexpected sympathy for Chuin bubbling up. If Ayuru was his only friend...

"Why don't we go out to celebrate?" Ryuen was kicking himself, but he couldn't let someone be miserable on a night when they should be proud of themselves. Even if it was Chuin. "I know this great piano bar. We can have a martini and toast your wonderful success!"

Chuin looked up distrustfully. He really wished that he and Ryuen could be friends, if only because the young man was so popular, but Ayuru's preference for him made that nearly impossible. Chuin was always choked with jealousy whenever Ryuen was around. No matter what people said about his past, Ryuen was just too attractive and too friendly and too well liked to be endured. "Really? You want to go out with me?"

Well, no, not at all, Ryuen thought, but he caught Saihitei's eye to make sure the invite was ok. "Sure! We really did love the play, Chuin. You were so vulnerable and tender, I was almost in tears at the end of the third act."

"It was an amazing performance," Saihitei added. "Just the scene where your father died alone took my breath away."

Casting his eyes from one man to the other, Chuin shrugged his shoulders in defeat. "All right. Let's go."

The bar was dark, lit only by colored mood lights. Only the bar itself was properly illuminated. Someone was playing at the grand piano in the corner, artfully working her way through something that could have been a European classical work or could have been improvisational or could have been a combination of the two.

Ryuen and Saihitei sipped their drinks, catching each other's eye from time to time. It was amazing how lewd they could be with just little twitches of eyebrow and lip.

Chuin took deep sips of his wine, holding it between his fingers, cupping the glass in his palm, looking completely bored. He talked about Ayuru exclusively.

How good looking Ayuru was, and how smart he was, and how he always knew the best places to go, and how much fun he was to be with.

It was sickening.

Finally, ready to smash Chuin's face in, Saihitei could not take it anymore. "Do you really love Ayuru, Chuin-san?"

Chuin looked up, startled from his soliloquy, and looked at Saihitei as if he had grown seven heads. "Of course I do, Saihitei-san. Why would you even ask me that?"

Saihitei shrugged. "I just don't see why you would. He obviously doesn't care for you at all. I would think that you would be sick of him, blowing you off all the time for whoever he would rather be with."

Chuin flinched as if hit. "He's my only real friend. I-I know he doesn't seem very nice, but..."

"He's Ayuru." Ryuen's warm brown-rose eyes were on Chuin, completely sympathetic. "He gets under your skin. He makes you feel special."

"You don't have any trouble walking away from him." Chuin couldn't help but be a little bitter. He wished he had half of Ryuen's charm and self-confidence, false as it might be.

Ryuen just shrugged, noncommittal. "Yes, but I've known him longer. I don't know, I guess when you grow up with someone, you don't worry so much about losing them. But..." Ryuen examined his fingernails intently. "You know that Ayuru doesn't love you the way you love him, Chuin. Saihitei is right. It's time to cut him loose. It's pathetic. You had a whole theater full of people eating out of your hands, and you get all depressed because one self-involved jackass wasn't there to see it."

Saihitei smiled encouragingly. "If you feel like he's your only friend, then it's simply a matter of meeting new people."

"But..." Chuin's eyes quivered as he looked at Saihitei. "It's more than that. I remember... you know, in the past. Our last life. Nakago was... everything. I can't remember everything, but I remember enough to know... he's the one. I know he is."

"In my last life," Saihitei spoke softly, "I was married to a woman. I spent most of my efforts chasing a girl. I lived my life exactly as my mother had wanted me to. Perhaps it is a good thing that we don't have to do things as we did in the last life."

Ryuen beamed at his lover, while Chuin chewed his on his lip. "Saihitei is right, Chuin. Forget the past, live for today! And today, your asshole friend has ditched you for some girl. So, forget him!"

"But it's not that simple!" Chuin glared at Ryuen. "I'm not like you! People... don't necessarily like me when they meet me."

Ryuen stiffened. "Maybe if you didn't take naked pictures and post them on the internet, people would like you more!"

"Oh, would you shut up about that!" Chuin rolled his eyes. "You've been whining about that for years, now!"

Ryuen's eyes narrowed, but it was Saihitei who responded. "Why did you do that, anyway?" The former emperor's voice sounded cold and deadly.

Chuin shivered. "I... I... I'm sorry, I was just..."

"Jealous?" Saihitei's eyes bore into Chuin.

Chuin sagged.

Ryuen quickly changed the subject. "Anyway, Chuin, that's not important. Meeting new people, making new friends, that's never easy. You just need to..." Ryuen looked at Chuin, concentrating, trying to figure it out. "You need to be yourself. You're always hiding behind some kind of artifice. You are always acting. Just... be yourself. And if people hate you, well, fuck them. They don't have to like you. Better to know that people like you or dislike for you who are then to have to constantly be 'on' for people."

Chuin stared at Ryuen, disconcerted. "Well... but who would I make friends with? Where would I meet them? At a bar?" He made a quiet derisive noise with his nose.

Ryuen grinned. "Sure. For instance... There's that guy at the bar. The one with the playbill. The one who's been staring at you since we got here. You could go over to him, strike up a conversation... See where it takes you."

Chuin's eyes widened with fear. "You are kidding, aren't you?" One quick look to the bar did nothing to calm his pounding heart. "That guy?!? He looks like an underwear model! He wouldn't want anything to do with me..."

Ryuen shrugged, sipping his drink artfully. "Ayuru could model if he wanted to. Doesn't hurt to try."

"Wouldn't hurt you to try." Chuin muttered under his breath. "You've been whoring yourself since you were a kid."

"Chuin!" Saihitei yelled under his breath, frightening Chuin, who thought the other man was going to bash his face in. "That is a completely inappropriate thing to say!"

"Ya know what?" Ryuen grinned, easily. "You're right. It would be easier for me." With a dangerous smile, Ryuen stood up and walked over to the bar.

Chuin watched with horror as Ryuen gracefully introduced himself to the man at the bar, smiling and making small jokes. A few times, Ryuen gestured towards their table with a nod of his head. Never once did his bright smile falter.

Saihitei watched, wistful. If he and Ryuen hadn't known each other as children, that might have been how they would have met. He imagined what it would be like to be picked up in a bar by Ryuen.

Chuin honestly thought his heart was going to leap out of his chest. He would have gotten up and ran, but his body seemed to be made of stone.

Soon enough, Ryuen was leading the trembling young man to the table. After a quick introduction, the young man sat down next to Chuin, gushing about how wonderful the performance had been.

Gushing about how beautiful Chuin looked.

Ryuen and Saihitei scooted over to the adjoining table to give Chuin all the privacy he needed. They became engrossed in their own conversation, their heads bent together over their joined fingers, smiles both flirtatious and real speckled throughout to enliven their hushed whispers.

Saihitei was giving Ryuen a breathy description of how he wanted to spend the remainder of the evening when Chuin elbowed Ryuen to get his attention.


Giving Chuin a scathing look, "Where's your boy? You haven't chased him off already, have you?"

Chuin blushed. "He's in the bathroom. Quick! I need a lesson on how to be slutty!"

Ryuen narrowed his eyes.

"Please!" Chuin was all but on his knees. "I need advice! I think... I think he might really like me! He asked about seeing something in my apartment... Does he want to come over for sex? Do I just strip after he gets in the door? How do I do this?"

Ryuen considered suggesting to Chuin that he insist that his friend take his clothes off in the elevator up to the apartment, but reconsidered. "Ok, look, it's simple. He goes over, you show him the whatever, you offer him some sake or wine or whatever you have... you talk, you sit close to him, try to touch him, let him touch you... see where things go. An attractive man like yourself should not have so much trouble getting laid."

Chuin looked momentarily startled. "You... think I'm attractive?" A tiny blush crept across his pale cheek.

Ryuen rolled his eyes. "He's back. Now, remember what I said... take it slow and let it happen. After all, you want to be able to talk to him next week, right?"

Chuin smiled, his face beatified by the expression. "Thanks, Ry-kun!"

Ryuen shook his head after him. Turning to Saihitei, he smiled at his lover's muddled expression. "Remind me to tell Ayuru that he owes me big time for this."

"Won't that just lead to offers of sex?"

"That's a problem, isn't it?"

"Maybe we could just leave some fire ants in his bed."

"It's something to think about..."

Ry pulled on the sleeves of his shirt, arranging it under the suit coat. His little nose was wrinkled in distaste. "Why do I have to go?" He was trying not to whine, but he really didn't want to go. "Can't you go by yourself? Or better yet, blow him off and we'll go to a club. We can have sex in the bathroom..."

Sai sighed as he clipped on the last of his cufflinks. "Bathroom sex not withstanding, we have to go. Father specifically said that you should be there."

Sighing, "Well, then, maybe you can explain to me why we are jumping to his call, then? I mean, so what if he ordered you to be there tonight?"

"Ry-love, you don't understand... It's my father." Sai straightened his love's tie, pressing his palm on Ry's chest. "If I don't show up, he'll just follow us to wherever we are and drag us there. He'll wander into the bathroom stall, tell us to pull up our pants, the car is waiting, and where have we been, he specifically said eight o'clock, and walk away. He doesn't take no for an answer."

Sticking out his lower lip in an obvious pout, Ry's devilish eyes twinkled. "Well, maybe he should learn how to..."

Kissing his love, Sai smiled gently. "It's not so bad, is it? He doesn't do this very often, and it won't take too long. The food will be good."

Ry leaned forward and put his arms around Sai's waist. "Ok, but if he says anything out of line, I may forget my manners."

Sai laughed quietly, thinking of when Ry had met his mother. "Fine by me, my love."

The door opened to Seishuku Ebizo's private rooms, where Saihitei's father and his new fiancee were waiting. Ebizo came to the door immediately, grinning widely. "My son! You look well! My dear, isn't my son handsome? And so this is your boy, eh? Why, Saihitei, if this is the sort of boy you wanted, you could have gotten a girl instead and no one would have been able to tell the difference!"

Saihitei just stood there, horrified, unable to react.

Ryuen just decided to laugh his ass off. "Ah, well, Mr. Seishuku, that may be true, but I think it's safe to say that Saihitei would have been able to tell the difference, if you catch my drift."

Ebizo's laughter boomed out, and he slapped Ryuen on the back so hard, he nearly fell on his face. "Ha! I like this boy, Saihitei! He has spirit! Now, let me introduce you to my newest wife. Delia, come here, my dear. This is my son, Saihitei. Isn't he handsome? And this is his lover, Chou Ryuen."

Delia was a small girl with tanned skin and bleach blonde hair. He vacant blue eyes crinkled as she smiled, her bright red lips pulling into a beauty contest smile. Her breasts pushed at her low-cut dress, trying to pop out of the opening. Her top didn't quite reach her skirt, baring her ringed belly button. She draped herself extravagantly against Ebizo.

Her Japanese was atrocious.

"Ooh, son? Nice! You two are sleeping?"

Saihitei felt ill.

Ryuen repressed his giggles. It wouldn't do to laugh at his lover's father's future wife right to her face.

Even if she wouldn't understand.

Switching to English to spare them all the problem of trying not to laugh at Delia, Ryuen smiled sweetly. "Miss Delia, how delightful to meet you. Where are you from?"

Delia blinked several times at Ryuen, as if she was confused at the sound of her native language.

Saihitei and Ebizo were surprised. Neither of them knew that Ryuen spoke such flawless English.

"Oh! I'm from Southern California. The 'burbs, you know? I just came to Tokyo a few years ago with my boyfriend. Then the louse left me and I started working at this bar downtown. I love Tokyo, there are so many weird people here!" She left the shelter of Ebizo's arm and latched onto Ryuen, rubbing against him just a little.

Saihitei started to cough violently.

Ebizo shook his head, mystified but still smiling. "Well, let us have some drinks! Saihitei, you drink red wine, no? Ryuen, would you like a red wine? I have a lovely one here, imported from France!"

Ryuen smiled as he tried to walk while the American girl clung to him.

Saihitei was glaring at everything that fell in the path of his eyes.

They sat down and chatted. Delia was impressed that Ryuen was an artist. She cooed and played with his hair, saying that he was handsome enough to be an artist.

Saihitei growled and pulled Ryuen's hair away from her.

Ebizo told loud, boisterous stories about travels, and business, and meeting Delia and getting her knocked up. He told them about meeting Delia's parents, laughing as he related how they had practically begged him to make her his wife.

Delia smiled vacantly, and laughed at her parents with her future husband.

They ate, Ebizo punctuating the meal with questions to Ryuen. When the fey young man reminded Ebizo that they had met before, when Ryuen and Saihitei were children, Ebizo barked with laughter. "Ah, yes! That's right! You were the tiny boy that my son had a crush on! Oh, I remember Ryoko saying that she didn't want that girly boy in her house again! Do you remember that, my son?"

Saihitei flushed, bending his head down to hide his embarrassment.

Once again, Ryuen surprised him by laughing. "I do, Mr. Seishuku! But we had more fun at my parent's, anyway, right Sai?" Ryuen's wicked eyes were impossible to resist.

Saihitei now found himself choking for more than one reason.

"Aw! That's so cute!" Delia gushed, leaning over so her cleavage stuck out even more. "You boys have been together for that long! Childhood sweethearts..."

Ryuen winked at her. "You'd be surprised how long Saihitei and I have known each other, Delia, but we've only gotten together as a couple fairly recently."

Saihitei grinned, winking at his love. "Ryuen has always been one of my best and dearest friends."

Ebizo looked from one to the other, grinning. "Ah, young love. It's not like it was in my day, let me tell you that, boys. I knew a queer when I was in school, but he was never what you call 'out'. You are lucky that times have changed!"

Ryuen rolled his eyes. "The times aren't as different as one might hope, Mr. Seishuku, but it doesn't really matter. Can't help being who you are!"

"Yes!" Ebizo slammed his hand down on the table, upsetting glasses and diners. "Yes! That's exactly true!" Poking Saihitei in the ribs with his elbow, Ebizo pointed to Ryuen with his chopsticks. "This boy has the right idea, my son. I worked many many years, very hard, and for what? For times like these, hey! For being with people that I love, and being happy! Another drink, I think! Saihitei, join me and we can get the drinks for the table!"

Ebizo leaped to his feet, and Saihitei followed suit with a bitter smile to his love.

While Ryuen watched them go to the bar, Delia leaned over until she was practically in his lap. "Sooooo, Ryuen-chan? Is that right? I've been in your country for nearly two years, and these stupid honorifics still confuse me!"

Ryuen was completely not surprised. "The -chan is typically for girls, only, Delia." He decided not to mention that most people called him that, anyway.

She giggled, and pushed herself further into his personal space. "But you're queer, so you're practically a girl, right? I mean, if I stripped naked right here, you wouldn't even care, right?"

Ryuen's lips twitched. "Perhaps you should. I'm sure Mr. Seishuku would like that."

She giggled, tossing her bleached hair in his face. "Would you like me to, Ryuen-chan?" Her hand slipped into his lap. "I will if you want me to..." She was nearly purring, rubbing his leg gently.

Clearing his throat, Ryuen discreetly pushed her away. "Perhaps we should keep our clothes on, Delia. It might get chilly, otherwise."

When Saihitei and his father got back to the table, Ebizo was laughing raucously, and Saihitei was blushing furiously. Sitting down, Saihitei offered Ryuen his drink, and stole a quick kiss.

He needed the comfort.

Delia cooed as they straightened up, making eyes at the two boys shamelessly.

Saihitei figured that was par for the course for Delia.

As the meal finished up, Delia took all the plates, laughing about how waitressing had given her the amazing mutant ability to carry a whole load of plates at once.

Still, the three men watched her go, anxiously expecting a loud crash as all the fine china came to meet the ground in a rude fashion.

Once she was out of sight, Ebizo turned to his son. "So? What do you think of her, my son?"

"What am I expected to think of her, father?" Saihitei pulled up into his most dignified position.

Ryuen smiled. "I understand, Mr. Seishuku, that you and Delia are expecting?" Ebizo nodded proudly. "Then I would recommend a very tightly worded prenuptial agreement with very clearly written provisions for child custody."

Saihitei gaped at his love. Ryuen didn't just say...?

"Ho ho, you think she will leave me?" Ebizo grinned. "You underestimate my charms, I fear!"

Ryuen smiled kindly. "I think prostitutes are rarely trustworthy."

Now Saihitei couldn't keep his jaw shut. Ryuen didn't just say...

"Prostitute?" Ebizo raised an eyebrow, his voice lowering dangerously. "I can assure you, young man, she is no prostitute."

Ryuen shrugged carelessly. "She's selling you her body for creature comforts and luxury, is she not? I just think that if you want to ensure that your child will be in your care, you should make certain of it legally ahead of time. A woman who would brazenly hit on your gay son's lover at the dinner table may be without wit, but not without wiles. She is quite likely to use your child against you later on. And I'd hate to think of how a child raised by her would turn out..." Ryuen carefully raised his sake to his lips, seemingly unconcerned with what he had just said.

Ebizo had no retort for that.

The night's entertainments wound down, and Ryuen and Saihitei were at the door once again. Ebizo pulled Saihitei away from the door, to have a private word with his son.

"Saihitei, my boy, about this Ryuen... don't fuck this up."

Saihitei's words of defense died in his throat. "E-Excuse me?"

"Don't fuck this up." Ebizo's eyes became wistful. "Your mother was the shining jewel in my life, at one time. She challenged me, and made me laugh. But I was foolish, and I lost her. You are a wiser man than I by far, but even the wisest of men make mistakes. This boy is something special, my son. Not many men would call me a fool at my table while giving me advice for the future. I can tell you love him very much." Ebizo took Saihitei's face in his hands and kissed his son's cheeks. "So don't fuck it up. I want him to be by your side at my funeral, many many years from now, do you hear me?"

Saihitei's throat was catching. The light in his father's eyes was something that he hadn't seen in years, and irrationally, all he could think was, he approves! "Thank you, father. I will endeavor not to 'fuck' this up."

Ebizo laughed, slapping his son on the back. "Good man! Good man! Now, Ryuen, you must take good care of my son!" Ryuen extricated himself from Delia's embrace, and took Ebizo's hand. "He is the finest thing that I have accomplished, so you must take care not to wreck him. Isn't he a lovely boy?"

Ryuen smiled, pumping Ebizo's hand as hard as Ebizo was pumping his own. "I certainly think so, sir. Thank you for a lovely dinner."

"Thank you, my son, thank you!"

Ryuen's eyes widened, unbelieving. A blush and a smile spread across he cheeks as he bowed a farewell.

In the car on the way home, Ry played with Sai's hair, both lost in thought.

"Your father certainly is an enigma, darling. No wonder you have so much trouble with him!"

Sai smiled and sighed. "He's pretty much a jackass, but.... every once and a while, he surprises you."

Ry's lips twitched. "Kinda like Ayuru."

"Yes, but less evil."

"I suppose so, though he is a corporate bigwig." Ryuen spoke thoughtfully. "Youth orientated programming has taught me to believe that they are all evil."

Sai chuckled as he brought Ry's delicate fingers to his lips for a kiss. "There is that..."

notesPart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart EightPart NinePart TenPart ElevenPart TwelvePart ThirteenPart FourteenPart Fifteen • Part Sixteen • Part SeventeenPart EighteenPart NineteenPart TwentyPart Twenty-OneEpilogue