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Only Time: Deja Vu

Chapter Thirteen

By J. Marie

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Warning!! This is a lemon yaoi fanfiction starring Nakago and Tasuki from Fushigi Yugi. It is rated NC-17. Wanna here something amusing? My best friend, Kasmira, who doesn't like yaoi stands with me on Fushigi Yugi. Even she likes Tasuki and Tamahome together, and especially if it means Tamahome doesn't wind up with IT (Miaka). I mean, they're so cute! :) Even she agrees. I think that says a lot when a non-yaoi fan likes a male/male couple better than a male/female couple. And I even got her to like Seifer and Squall together, too. ^_^

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Who can say
where the road goes
where the day flows
- only time
And who can say
If your love grows
as your heart chose
- only time

Who can say
why your heart sighs
as your love flies
- only time
And who can say
why your heart cries
when your love lies
- only time

Who can say
when the roads meet
that love might be
in your heart
And who can say
when the day sleeps
If the night keeps
all your heart

Night keeps all your heart

And who can say
If your love grows
as your heart chose
- only time
Who can say
where the road goes
where the day flows
- only time

Who knows - only time

Who knows - only time

-- "Only Time" by Enya

 

Tasuki jumped at his sister's scream. Nakago tightened his grip on his reins, riding up to the strange young man who identified himself as Tomite.

Junko screamed again, and spurred her horse, taking off at full speed.

Before Tasuki and Nakago could react, Tomite was after her, riding as fast as he could. "Wait! Please wait, miss!! I want to talk to you!!" he cried, sounding desperate.

Tasuki and Nakago rode after, confused, frightened. What was going on? Why was Junko screaming? What did this strange boy want?

Junko ran deep into the woods, until the horses refused to ride anymore. She jumped off, falling on her knees as she did so, lacking the grace she always possessed on horses. Tasuki gave a cry, seeing how his sister's knees bled, watching her run like a frightened child deeper into the woods. Tomite, who was ahead of them, jumped off as well, chasing after Tasuki's sister. Tasuki wondered if the boy meant to brutalize his own sister, and jumped off as well, but he was far behind.

Tasuki couldn't let his sister get hurt. He loved her so much... She was the mother he never had. He couldn't let some asshole pop up and hurt his sister. He wouldn't let it happen!

Nakago kept riding, but his eyes caught on Tasuki, who was now horseless, yet now surpassing Nakago's stallion in speed. Nakago gaped. The redhead's right arm was glowing brightly with a red Chinese character. And he was running so fast.

So fast, he was past Nakago's racing horse in seconds and disappearing into the woods after his sister, a blur of red. He left track marks on the ground behind him.

Nakago nearly fell off his horse.

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The book seemed to explode in red brilliance in Chiriko's hands.

Miboshi and Keisuke cried out, and only Chiriko could look at the book.

Suzaku. Suzaku was reaching out to one of the unawakened seishi, giving him a burst of power he didn't have before. Suzaku was granting the use of powers temporarily, just as Seiryu had done for Nakago to save Yuiren from the train.

But to which Suzaku seishi?

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Junko was huddled underneath a tree when Tasuki reached her. Tomite stood in front of her, bent over her, his hand reaching out. Junko sobbed like a frightened child.

"Oh, please go away. It's all your fault, all of you. All seven of you can go to hell!! I hate you all!" she cried. Tomite blinked.

"Miss, I'm not going to hurt you... I just want to talk to you...." Tomite whispered, her words so strange, yet they rang so true in his ears.

"Hey!! You fucking bastard, you get away from my sister!!" Tasuki screamed, and pounced on the youth, pummeling him with fierce blows. Junko continued to sob, and Tomite cried out in pain as his body suffered from Tasuki's fierce attack.

"Stop..." Junko sobbed, watching her brother beat on Tomite, who put up no resistance, just lay there and took the blows, his face full of shock and betrayal, his eyes staring imploringly at the black-haired woman.

Nakago was running so fast, he felt his lungs would burst. How could Tasuki, how could any human being, outrun a horse? He could hear what was going on, but not see. He could hear Tasuki scream in protective rage, hear Junko sob for her brother to stop, could hear the gasps of pain from the strange boy.

"STOP!!!" Junko screamed, and Tasuki paused, looking at his sister in shock. Her eyes were green.

Nakago reached them, panting heavily.

Tomite sat up and punched Tasuki in the face, knocking the redhead to the ground. Nakago rushed over, his fists balled up, but Junko stopped him. Tomite came to his feet, shaking.

"Don't hurt him!!" Junko cried, throwing herself in front of Tomite's battered stance. "Please!! It's not his fault!!"

Nakago was confused. Why was Junko protecting someone who frightened her? Tasuki came to his feet, brushing the blood off his lip, his golden eyes burning in anger. His hair almost seemed to come alive, looking like fire, in his rage. Nakago had never seen the redhead so angry.

"What the fuck is going on?? He was going to hurt you!! Why are you acting like this, Junko?" Tasuki cried, feeling Nakago's hand on his shoulder, his fists clenched.

"Junko? Who's Junko? My name is Takiko. Takiko Okuda," Junko said through her tears.

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"Green...." Miboshi whispered, staring anxiously at Chiriko. "Why is it glowing green now?"

Chiriko turned to the first page, to the mysterious line that was always different. The sentence changed and reformed before his very eyes. The red light had abruptly disappeared, replaced by an intense green glare.

Death must be tempered by life.

"Miboshi...." Chiriko whispered. "We need to learn more of the Genbu and Byakko seishi."

"Yes."

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"Tomite would never hurt me," Junko went on in a voice that wasn't hers. "He was drawn to me, as you two are drawn to your own Priestesses."

"Junko.....?" Tasuki whispered, afraid. Afraid that he was losing his sister.

Junko blinked, and her eyes were no longer green. They were the warm brown Tasuki had grown up with. "Tasuki?" she whispered. "Oh, Tasuki, I think I'm losing my mind!"

Tasuki held out his arms, and his petite sister dove into them. Now it was his turn to comfort her. The tables were turned and the son gave strength to the mother. Nakago stood in front of them, protecting them from the silent youth. He glared evenly at Tomite.

"I wasn't going to hurt her. I don't know who she is, or who this Takiko person is, but all I know is that I wanted to talk to her. That was all," he said through gritted teeth.

Junko was crying. Tasuki felt lost. Never in his sixteen years had he seen his tough sister cry. Not ever. She shook like a leaf, seeming almost a completely different person. "Tasuki.... Please don't let him near me. It was his fault the tortoise ate me. All seven of them. They lied to me...." she whispered in her own voice.

"Leave. Now," Nakago commanded. It certainly sounded like Junko was losing her mind. But Nakago actually believed her mad ravings. It reminded him of a young girl.... A young girl that he saved from being raped, only so she could be devoured by a blue dragon. All his fault. That had been all his fault, he could feel it.

Tomite hung his head. "Take care of her.... Please," he whispered and slunk off. Tasuki paid no attention to the boy's retreat, his attention focused on his sister.

Nakago turned to Tasuki slowly, helping the redhead take Junko back home. And Nakago couldn't decide what disturbed him more from the day's events.

Junko's nervous breakdown, or Tasuki's unnatural speed.

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Tomo happily browsed through all the books on acting he could find.

The handsome boy had a dream. His dream was to go to America and become a famous actor. His passion was the Chinese Opera, and he hoped to bring some of that style to American theaters. He had talent; he knew that. All he needed was a ticket out of Japan...

"Oh, hello, Tomo!"

Tomo turned, and found himself staring down at Nuriko. The pretty boy was dressed in a blue and green dress, and his lips shone with purple lipstick. Tomo nodded to the boy, having little contact with him. "Hello, Nuriko," he said in his even, nasal voice.

"What are you reading there? I came to buy my manga!" Nuriko bubbled happily, and in his hands was a collection of shoujo manga. Tomo wrinkled his nose. How he loathed shoujo manga.

"Books on acting. I even found this on the history of the Chinese Opera," Tomo shrugged, expecting the boy to disappear quickly. Tomo looked around to see if he could spot Hotohori, but caught no glimpse of the beautiful young man.

"Chinese Opera? You like that?" Nuriko asked. None of their conversations had ever lasted this long, which surprised Tomo. He had once made a pass at Nuriko when he discovered the purple-haired boy was gay, but Nuriko was far too absorbed in Hotohori, and had declined.

"I adore it. It's a passion of mine," Tomo explained, finding himself trailing off into a long discussion about the Chinese Opera. Much to his surprise, Nuriko listened, and was actually paying attention. Tomo wasn't used to people his age listening to him. Other than Nakago, who saw the cleverness in the quiet boy, no one his age understood him. He was more mature than most of them.

"Wow! It sounds really interesting!! Do they still do anything like that here?" Nuriko asked brightly, flashing Tomo a charming smile. Tomo blinked. Nuriko seemed so... interested in him. Why?

"Well.... I was going to a rendition in classic style tonight. I do have an extra ticket, if you would like to come," Tomo said carefully. Other than Nakago, all his lovers had been far older than himself. No one his age expressed much interest in him.

"Oh, I would love to!!" Nuriko gushed, clasping his hands excitedly.

Tomo smiled pleasantly. Perhaps his luck with his own age group was looking up. "Wonderful! However.... If you don't mind... Could you dress as a man? I really don't like being seen with women," Tomo said carefully.

"You... want me to be dressed as a man....?" Nuriko asked in surprise.

"Of course. I like you as a man. I mean, crossdressing is fine, but I really don't care for it, unless you're acting, of course...." Tomo shrugged.

Nuriko flashed Tomo a real grin. Liked as a man.... Nuriko had never been liked as a man before. "I'll be there. In male clothing. Won't my mother be shocked," Nuriko giggled.

Tomo smiled. "Meet me at the train station at 7pm," he said.

What a surprising turn of events...

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Ashitare gave a strangled growl when he gashed his arm.

He was at the gym, and had caught his arm on the edge of his locker, slicing the tough flesh open. The boorish boy whimpered mournfully over the wound, clasping his hand over the laceration, trying to prevent it from bleeding.

The noise caught Mitsukake's attention. He had just got done with his shower, and heard Ashitare whimpering. Mitsukake frowned when he realized blood was seeping out of Ashitare's arm. Mitsukake couldn't stand for people to be hurt.

"Ashitare?" Mitsukake called. He had never really spoken to the boy in his entire life. He'd seen him, but Mitsukake was quiet by nature, and Ashitare only spoke in words to a chosen few. Ashitare never spoke to any of Mitsukake's friends.

Ashitare looked up at the young medical student, blinking rapidly. A look of instant distrust crept across his ugly features. He made a low growl in the back of his throat, like an animal.

"Ashitare..." Mitsukake said carefully, and reached inside his locker, pulling out a first aid kit. "Come here, Ashitare, and I'll treat your wound. I won't hurt you. I promise."

Ashitare blinked, and he found himself trusting the calm young man before him. Mitsukake reminded Ashitare of Nakago, in an odd sort of way. The cool, calm, self-control, and the stolid appearance. Yet, in Mitsukake, there was warmth, and a great degree of compassion. Ashitare tentatively walked over in front of Mitsukake, watching the tall man carefully.

"Have a seat, Ashitare. I'll have you patched up in a couple minutes," Mitsukake said with a small smile, feeling as if he had won a small victory. He wondered if anyone except Miboshi had ever pierced Ashitare's bestial appearance to discover if he was a real person or not. A certain sort of sympathy leaked out of Mitsukake for Ashitare. Ashitareís appearance made him seem like a stupid, ugly brute. People judged him as such. How hard would it be for Ashitare to be anything but the animal people thought he was.

Yet, as Mitsukake treated the wound, and bandaged Ashitare's hairy arm, the boy smiled up at Mitsukake, and his face suddenly looked gentle. Mitsukake blinked in surprise.

"Thank you," Ashitare said carefully, his deep voice sounding like the grumble of a wolf.

"You're welcome," Mitsukake replied, a smile spreading across his square features.

There was more to Ashitare then met the eye, it seemed.

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Hotohori frowned as he hung up the phone.

Nuriko's mother had said Nuriko had gone on a date with Tomo, that night. Hotohori had expected Nuriko to come over to his house tonight. He and Nuriko were suppose to go swimming. The past couple days, Nuriko had not returned his calls, nor even visited him. It was like Nuriko was suddenly ignoring him.

Hotohori's frown deepened as he paced his bedroom, feeling lonely. He needed someone to talk to. Someone to listen to his troubles. He was having such a hard time trying to learn his father's business. Nuriko calmed his worries, and boosted his confidence in his abilities. But now, Nuriko had abandoned him to go off on a date with Tomo, of all people!

Who was suppose to comfort Hotohori now? Who was going to calm him, and keep him company? None of Hotohori's friends were as comforting as Nuriko. Mitsukake was far too reserved, Chiriko too wrapped up in his studies, Tamahome was far too flighty, Tasuki far too obnoxious, and Chichiri far too mature. Hotohori loved all his friends, but none of them gave him what he needed.

If only he realized that what they couldn't give him, and Nuriko could, was love.

But Hotohori was still too self-absorbed, and hardened his heart. He didn't need Nuriko's pleading, and whining. He didn't Nuriko for anything. He could do it all himself! Let Nuriko have his gay lovers. Hotohori needed none of it.

After all, he had himself. That had to be enough, right?

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Chichiri was trying desperately not to notice Suboshi and Amiboshi.

The twins were in the same mask shop he was in, trying on masks, and flirting with each other. It wasn't the homosexuality of their actions, so much as the fact that they were brothers that made Chichiri want to scream. It made him ill.

They petted each other when they thought no one looked. Or stole kisses. Even the way they spoke to each other screamed of a relationship closer than brotherís should be, in Chichiri's opinion. He didn't understand the Kajiwara twins at all. Why were they so wrapped up in each other? What was the attraction? The obsession?

Chichiri sighed and looked at the masks before him, trying to pick one for his mother's birthday. He decidedly ignored Amiboshi's giggling, and the fact that Amiboshi's hand was slipping into Suboshi's pants. Chichiri almost wished someone would notice what they were doing and embarrass the pair. Maybe then they would stop.

But suddenly, all irritation with the incestuous twin boys was lost, as Chichiri's long, tapered fingers came to rest on a particular mask. It was old, but of good quality. It was molded to resemble a real face, but frozen in a permanent foolish smile, in an expression of happiness and cheer. A symbol of optimism.

Chichiri put it on his face calmly, staring blankly at the world.

"Houjun.... my friend.... I won't lose another, as I lost you," he said firmly, and set the mask down. He made a decision.

Chichiri was going to go tell Tasuki of his dreams.

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Tamahome walked along the bridge quietly.

It was dark out, and he felt he needed to be alone with himself. He still felt horrible about how badly he had hurt Tasuki's feelings, even though it had been inadvertent. But even still, there was still a level of irritation with Tasuki for going away and absorbing himself with Nakago.

Nakago.

There was an interesting conundrum. Tamahome disliked the blonde immensely, always had. Their personalities clashed, and Nakago had gone out of his way to make Tasuki's life miserable many a time. Yet, Nakago had saved the life of his sister, almost at the cost of his own. And somehow, Nakago had gotten himself mixed up with Tasuki now. Tamahome wished Nakago would go away, but at the same time.... Tasuki had been lonely, even Tamahome knew that. Nakago kept Tasuki company now.

Tamahome sighed, and wished things could have stayed the same. Wished his life could remain simple.

Just before he turned back to go home, the sound of crying caught on Tamahome's ears. He turned slightly, his lavender eyes searching out for the source of the crying. His eyes rested on the shadowy form of a girl, sobbing into her drawn-up knees.

Tamahome, like his mother, was soft-hearted, and crept up to girl, wondering what made her so sad. "Hey... Are you alright, miss?" he asked softly.

The girl looked up, and Tamahome realized he was looking into Soi's deep blue eyes. She blinked slowly, wiping her tears off her face. "Tamahome," she said flatly. "I'm fine."

Tamahome drew back slightly, but the look of pain in Soi's eyes made him stay. "Liar. What's wrong?" he asked again. He didnít really know Soi, but part of him yearned to comfort the girl, relieving her of her pain.

"Considering the fact that Nakago's all but forgotten me for your little redheaded friend, I thought even you should be able to figure it out," the girl said bitterly.

Tamahome smiled bitterly. "I see. If it makes you feel any better, I really laid into Tasuki the other day about that...." he said quietly.

"Not really. When you hurt Tasuki, you hurt Nakago, and vice versa now. And Nakago doesn't deserve to be hurt. He's been hurt enough...." Soi sighed.

"I don't understand."

"Never mind. It's none of your business anyways. But... Nakago cares about Tasuki. I can tell. Leave them alone. Maybe Nakago will find happiness. He couldn't find it with me," Soi said with venom.

"Couldn't imagine why. You're so cheerful and pleasant," Tamahome said in sarcastic reflex.

Soi hit him so hard he flew three feet before landing.

Tamahome sat up, rubbing his jaw and grinning ruefully. "Sorry. Wasn't thinking," he said, as the girl stood up, fuming now.

"You are an asshole! How dare you speak to me that way!" she cried, her fists balled beside her.

Tamahome blinked. Soi was so complacent and submissive around Nakago, he never realized she had a temper. Her long, magenta hair fluttered in the wind, and her blue eyes glittered in anger from her sculpted face. Tamahome realized Soi was very beautiful.

"Temper, temper. You let Nakago walk all over you," Tamahome accused.

"You're not Nakago, you bastard. I don't love you. You don't deserve to speak to me in such a way," Soi fumed.

"And what did Nakago ever do to deserve your love, Soi?" Tamahome asked, a little hotly.

Soi blinked. And she blinked again, her anger draining.

What did Nakago ever do to deserve her love?

What did he do?

What?

"Nothing in this life...." she said after a few minutes.

"Huh?" Tamahome asked in confusion.

"It's.... an old love..... for his past incarnation..." Soi said in an odd voice.

Tamahome fell silent. It should have sounded crazy, but it didnít. Tamahome believed her, and even understood what she said. A deep, hidden part of him. A part that wasnít really him, but his father.

Soi blinked.

Tamahome stared at the girl.

She turned away from the lavender orbs, surprised that there was concern and compassion in them, even for her. Soi started to walk away, saying nothing to Tamahome. She felt oddly, her mind racing.

"You lost the man you loved, but I lost my best friend," Tamahome called out to her. He was trying to call her back to him, but he didnít know why. He understood her. And she understood him, he could tell.

Soi paused and turned her face. "Wrong. I lost the man I used to love, and you lost the man who used to love you," she said with a bitter smile.

Tamahome stared at Soi's retreating form, frowning deeply. Best not to explore her statement. He preferred not to know. But as he stood up, and headed back home, he realized that he felt an odd sort connection to Soi now.

Pleasant little bitch, isn't she? he thought to himself, with a sardonic smile.

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Junko slept peacefully in her bed, under heavy medication.

Tasuki sat beside her on the bed, stroking his sister's hair. Junko didn't even stir, and only clutched her pillow tighter. She seemed childish to Tasuki, lying there like that. She was always so tough, and self-sufficient. His sister had taught him to fight, and he had seen the small woman take down a man twice her size. She never took anyone's shit, and always spoke her piece.

And watching Junko fall apart was like watching the rock you built your house on crumble.

Nakago sat nearby, silent and ever watchful. Junko's hysterics had been so bad that Tasuki had forced her take a strong dose of heavy medication. Tasuki didn't even look at Nakago, having eyes only for his sister.

"This is some pretty powerful medication. I had no idea she took all this," Nakago said, gesturing to the pill bottles filled with psychological medication.

"She... hasn't had to take them in years..." Tasuki sighed.

"It sounds like there's a story in there," Nakago gently probed. Part of him had come to care for the motherly and impish Junko, just as he had for Tasuki, though he refused to admit any of this, even to himself.

Tasuki looked over at the blonde, a deep frown on his sultry lips. "Having your mother abandon you as a child is never good for your mental well-being.... When she was fourteen, she got mixed up with some a guy. A real piece of work. He not only took her virginity, but a portion of her sanity. Junko wound up in a mental hospital for a year, after trying to kill herself and lapsing into a coma. She was just starting to get better when she found out about me. It was funny, but she always told me I was better than medication. She said I made her better. She hasn't had to take it in so long," Tasuki told Nakago.

Nakago stared at the somber redhead for a while before speaking. "But why did she act like a completely different person out there today? Why were her eyes glowing green?" Nakago asked.

Tasuki shrugged. "Why does your forehead glow blue? Why does my arm glow red? Why ask why? All I know is that my sister is coming apart at the seams and I can't let that happen," he said firmly.

"I don't think it's your sister you need to worry about, so much as this Takiko Okuda person she said she was," Nakago said in an even tone.

Before Tasuki could even form a response, he heard his doorbell ring. He sighed and stood up, bringing the quilt around his sister's shoulders. "Watch her for me. I'm gonna go answer the door," Tasuki sighed. Nakago nodded.

It was early evening, the sun setting even as Tasuki opened the door. Chichiri stood before him, wearing a sheepish grin. Tasuki brightened almost immediately. "Chichiri! Hey, buddy!" Tasuki cried, hugging his friend excitedly.

"Hey, Tasuki!" Chichiri greeted, hugging his friend back. "Is something wrong? You look a little down..."

Tasuki gave a nervous smile as he pulled away from his friend. "Well... uh... It's nothing. Junko's just mad at me is all. No big deal," the redhead said quickly. He didn't want anyone else to know his sister was having a nervous breakdown.

Chichiri frowned, knowing Tasuki was lying to him, but wisely decided not to press the issue. "So, uh, how are you? You haven't called me in a week, no da. I'm feeling unloved," Chichiri said tactfully.

Tasuki blinked. He suddenly felt like an ass. Due to his involvement with Nakago, he had all but ignored his friends. "I'm so sorry, Chichiri! I've just been kinda wrapped up.... I didn't mean to ignore anyone, really!" Tasuki said with sincerity.

Nakago could hear Tasuki talking from Junko's room, and quietly crept out, curious as to who was visiting Tasuki. He hid by the doorway to Tasuki's living room, his eyes resting on Chichiri. Nakago felt a certain form of dread all of a sudden.

Chichiri gave Tasuki a guarded smile. "I know you didn't. I guess Nakago must demand a lot of your time, or something," he said, very carefully.

Tasuki blinked. "Not really... Well sorta. We're just.... well... you know...." Tasuki blushed.

"I know," Chichiri said sadly. "It's what I came here to talk about, actually."

"Oh, well, have a seat then. What did you need to talk about? Do you want something to drink or eat?" Tasuki offered, feeling nervous around Chichiri all of a sudden. It was odd. Chichiri had never made him nervous before, but something about the blue-haired boy's expression put Tasuki off.

"No, no. I'm fine, ya know. Thank you, though...." Chichiri said, staring at his hands as he sat on the couch. Tasuki sat on the seat across from him, his body tensed.

"Is he... violent towards you? I know he's mean in school, but..."

"Who? Nakago? No, of course not. Why would you think he was violent?" Tasuki blinked in surprise. He already didn't like the direction of the conversation. Nakago frowned from the shadows, feeling a threat to his relationship with Tasuki from Chichiri, even larger than Tamahome's jealousy.

"Well, not even a few weeks ago, Nakago and you got into a pretty bad fight. Over you calling him an asshole, as I recall. Is he so different all of a sudden?"

Tasuki swallowed, but his throat remained dry. "No. Yes. Maybe. I don't know what you mean, Chichiri. We don't really fight any more," he answered.

"He never acts like he wants to hurt you? He's not cold, or cruel towards you?" Chichiri probed.

Tasuki turned his face. "Well... he has his moments, but for the most part, no, not really. Not anymore. At least with me. Why?"

"Tasuki... I've been having bad dreams about you. About you and Nakago... In my dreams he hurts you, he kills you... I know it sounds stupid, but I have a bad feeling about him. I don't trust him," Chichiri said sadly.

Tasuki was silent for a moment. "Don't trust him? You don't trust him?" Tasuki began to laugh.

Chichiri frowned. "What's so funny?" he asked.

"You don't even know him. How can you say you don't trust him? For the love of Suzaku, he saved Yuiren's life, nearly at the cost of his own. You don't know what his life has been like, what he thinks. And you can say you don't trust him?"

Chichiri was quiet for a few moments before answering. "Tasuki. He's not good for you. He's going to get you hurt or killed. C'mon, we've known this guy since kindergarten. He always went out of his way to hurt us, to torment us. How long do you think this going to last? How long before he breaks your heart?" he said pointedly. He didn't want Tasuki to be hurt, and brought up the things he worried about.

Tasuki stood up. Everything Chichiri said to him were thoughts he had entertained. A small part of himself still distrusted Nakago, and was slightly afraid of him. Part of him feared the emotional pain that Nakago's abandonment of him would bring. But Tasuki liked having Nakago around. He didn't care if he got hurt, or if his heart broke. He wanted Nakago for as long as he could have him. And he wasn't going to let go. Not even for Chichiri.

"I think you should leave, Chichiri," Tasuki said coldly.

Chichiri blinked. Never in his seventeen years had he ever seen Tasuki act cold, much less to him. But the redhead was positively frosty. Tasuki stood up and went to his door, opening it and looking at Chichiri expectantly. Chichiri stood up, and silently walked towards the door. He had failed. Tasuki wasn't going to listen to him.

"I appreciate your concern, Chichiri. But I don't need to hear any of this right now. I have more important problems to deal with. And as long as you're going to speak badly of Nakago, please don't talk to me. He won't hurt me, and he won't break my heart," Tasuki said with more confidence than he felt.

Chichiri bit his bottom lip, his warm brown eyes studying his best friend. "For your sake, Tasuki, I hope you're right," he said, and quietly left.

Tasuki closed the door, and wiped at the tears forming in his eyes.

Nakago hurried back to Junko's side, feeling almost elated. Tasuki... believed in him? Tasuki defended him? Given Nakago's track record, he was surprised that Tasuki could have such faith in him. If Nakago were in Tasuki's shoes, Nakago doubted he could have the same amount of confidence in himself.

Nakago remained silent when Tasuki entered his sister's bedroom. Tasuki's doubts and fears were eating at his heart, Chichiri's words striking cords in him. Tasuki bit his bottom lip, wondering how much longer he was going to have someone to be with.

Tasuki let his gaze meet Nakago's ocean blue gaze, searching the azure depths for what he wanted to know. There were no promises for the future in Nakago's eyes, but there was comfort for the presence. Tasuki merely went over to where Nakago sat and crawled onto the blonde's lap, wrapping his arms around Nakago's neck, and resting his head on the tall boy's shoulder.

Nakago stroked the fiery red hair, and kissed Tasuki's forehead gently. Though he couldn't put it into words or even cognitive thought, Nakago felt complete with Tasuki, comforted and secure. He felt wanted.

"Will you hold me tonight, Nakago? I don't want to have sex. I'm not in the mood. But I want to be held...." Tasuki whispered, trying to keep the desperation form his tone. Tasuki felt like everyone was going to leave him soon. Junko was acting so oddly, and who knew when Nakago would leave? Tasuki couldn't bear to be alone again.

Being alone would kill him, he knew. What he didnít know was that loneliness had killed him before.

"If that's what you want Tasuki, then I shall hold you tonight, nothing more," Nakago whispered, his arms wrapping around the slender redhead in his lap.

"Thank you," Tasuki whispered, praying Nakago would want to stay with him. Praying Junko would return to normal. Praying Chichiri would forgive him. Praying Tamahome would forgive him.

Tasuki clung to Nakago tightly throughout the night, drawing strength form the blonde. And oddly enough, Nakago drew strength from Tasuki.

And while they slept on the couch in Junko's room, the black-haired woman dreamed of a turtle god, seven celestial warriors, and her own tragic death. It was all very troubling.

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The Four Gods stood before Taiitsukun expectantly.

The old woman smiled. "Not so long now," she said quietly.

And indeed, in one month's time, everyone's life was going to change. It was going to have to, in order to save a world. A world that was slowly disappearing.

The nyan-nyans cried when the first animal faded away, a small insect. Small, but so significant. For even the tiniest life meant something. And it's disappearance left a gaping hole in the Universe of the Four Gods.

Not so long now at all.

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