Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, ain't makin' any money, yadda yadda yadda.

Author's Note: The idea that the world is round ( isn't that the silliest thing?) was inspired by none other then Chiriko! Chiriko of the Suzaku Seishi Fanfiction Review that is.   He's sooo kawaiii! *huggle* No I don't have a soft spot for Chiriko. What makes you say that? *grin*

Also with the Wo ai ni thing. Well someone said it was for romantic type of love but someone else said it was used loosely…so I dunno. 0_o. I'm confuzed. If I have it wrong just label me an ignorant American and leave it at that ne?

Archiver's Note: Minor time shifts are denoted by a horizontal rule; Major time shifts by the bar divider.


Heavenly Playground

Chapter 3: Seriyuu's triumph, Suzaku's tears - Part 5

By Night~Mare


Suzaku woke with a start and looked out over his lands. He had been taking a nap in the warm sun when he sensed something. Something was wrong, drastically wrong. He stood in phoenix form and shook out his wings, then glided down. A hushing noise filled his ears, like the sound of a waterfall. It was coming from the mountains.

He flew down closer. Nothing seemed to be out of place. The sense was still there though. He came to a cliff and perched there. A waterfall was gushing over the edge forming a huge river that crashed its way to the forest.

It would have been normal except for the fact that no river had been there for a while. There used to be one years back, but the villagers had dammed it and turned it into a fishing lake. Now it was back with a vengeance.

He flew above the river, saddened at the loss of lives. So many villages had been destroyed. Nothing was left of them but seething water. There was something else bothering him too. He wasn't sure what it was, but it gave him a cold feeling in his heart.

He saw two boys fighting by the side of the raging river. He glared down at them. How dare they fight like that? Especially after so many people had died. As he came closer he saw it was more of a one sided fight. One boy was trying to attack the other while he tried to keep out of the way.

Suzaku landed close beside them. The first boy slashed out at the other with a sharp knife. The other jumped away.

"Stop!" the second boy shouted, "have you gone insane?!"

"It's your fault! She was mine!" The first swung the knife again. Suzaku changed into his man form, determined to stop this. It was a ridiculous fight and it wasn't a fair one either.

"Houjun calm down! We were friends once!" the second boy yelled.

" Not anymore." The name stopped Suzaku from going into his mortal form. Houjun…he knew that name. He looked closely at the first boy. He had light blue hair and flashing brown eyes, filled with hate. Suzaku backed up a bit, eyes widening. No…it couldn't be, but it was. Chichiri.

~Chichiri stop! You can't kill a friend!~

"No!" The phoenix closed his eyes and turned away. He couldn't interfere with this. Not when it was his seishi. He couldn't bring himself to leave either. He folded his arms and bowed his head, listening to the fighting going on behind him. How could it have happened this way? He hadn't wanted his seishi to be like that.

No…Chichiri wasn't like that. The soul he had held wasn't like that. He couldn't turn to watch. He wouldn't be able to stand there without doing something. Instead he tried to sense what was going on, using his seishi as the focal point.

The fight was still going on, he was angry. Kouran had been his. Now she was gone. Hikou would have to go too. Would have to die for taking her. Hikou was saying something but he paid no attention. Only one thought ran through his mind. Revenge.

Hikou was on the edge. The ground crumbling underneath his feet into the roaring water below. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Hikou himself fell. He came back to himself, his mind flaring to life. Hikou was going to die if he didn't save him. He dropped the knife and reached out for his friends hand, catching it in time.

Hikou may have taken his fiancée. But he was still a friend. He was the only thing he had left.

Suzaku went back to his own mind and smiled. He was proud of his seishi. He was glad he hadn't got involved. His smile faded as he sensed something else. Something was going to happen. He couldn't stop it either, no matter how horrible it was. It was fate. If he stopped, or even changed it…it would forever change the soul. Change it for better or for worse he didn't know. It wasn't worth the risk.

He winced as he heard his seishi's scream. His friends soul was strong at first, struggling to survive…then weakened and died. Suzaku turned back toward his seishi. He was sitting beside the water, his arms wrapped around his legs and his head bowed. He cried broken heartedly.

Chichiri had nothing left now. His village was now under water, his fiancée dead and his friend gone because of his inability to hold on. He was alone. Suzaku had to help him some way. He had to do something. He refused to let his seishi be like this, alone. He kneeled beside him and gently touched his knee. Chichiri looked up, sensing someone. The phoenix knew the seishi couldn't see him.

He looked into the mortals face. Blood streamed down his face like tears. Suzaku wouldn't heal the wound. He wasn’t sure if he could and besides, it wasn't his place to decide. Instead he closed his eyes and gently put his seishi to sleep. He lifted him carefully and pushed himself into the air, heading for Mount. Taikyoku.

He went to the main room, where Taiitsukun-sama usually was. He laid Chichiri on the ground and kneeled beside him, keeping his head bowed.

"Suzakuseikun, didn't we just go through this?" the old woman said, a trifle annoyed.

"Hai, but he's different Taiitsukun-sama. He doesn't have anyone left. He's all alone." He looked into the creators eyes, hoping she would understand, "please."

"Byakko was right…you do care too much."

"So will you take him in?"

"What would you have me do?"

"Train him. Teach him to develop his powers."

"What about Seriyuu?" The phoenix dropped his head. She had a point. Once his brother found out that his seishi were here, he would make it hell for Chichiri. He wouldn't kill him, but he would probably come close. Suzaku couldn't always be there to monitor him and even if he was…he couldn't stop him. Chichiri would just have to go back, alone. A tear slipped from his eye and burned down his cheek.

"Suzakuseikun gomen nasai," Taiitsukun-sama said, her voice gentle, "Genbu and Byakko are never here anymore…and I could close off this mountain to Seriyuu…but it wouldn't be fair." The redhead stood and straightened his shoulders.

"Then ban me from the mountain as well," he said levelly.

"Are you sure? If I do that, then you could never come inside again. You can rest on the top, but that is as much as you are allowed."

"Hai. I'm sure Taiitsukun-sama."

"As much as you don't think about it…this is your home. You've loved this mountain more then any of your brothers combined. Especially the Nyan-nyan. Are you willing to give up your home?"

"It was my home Taiitsukun-sama, it's his now." Sadness tightened her features, as fast as it had shown it was gone, leaving her usual expression.

"I will allow you to stay here to watch your seishi, but you must leave before the day is out, and when you do…you can never come back."

"Hai Taiitsukun-sama. Arigatou."


Taiitsukun smiled, ignoring the sadness inside. It had seemed like they had been with her forever. The four gods of the earth and sky…her children, but now they were grown, and maturing. Although she doubted in Suzaku's case he would ever completely mature. It wasn't like she wouldn't be able to see them again. She would be able to visit them any time she liked. It was just that they were leaving.

She shook her head, concentrating on the task at hand. Suzaku's seishi was waking up. The young man slowly sat up, putting a hand to his head. Then he looked up at Taiitsukun and his eye widened.

"AHH! MONSTER NO DA!" he yelled, scrambling backwards. Taiitsukun sweat dropped. She didn't look that bad.

"I'm not a monster. I'm an old woman. Didn't anyone ever tell you to be respectful to your elders?"

"Gomen nasai, you just startled me no da. How…did I get here?" Taiitsukun waved her hand.

"It doesn't matter. The question is, do you want to stay here?"


"Stay here. Become a monk. I could teach you magic and perhaps help you find peace with yourself, the decision is yours." Chichiri's face twisted into a scowl.

"I don't want to find peace with myself. I let him go, I let them both go. All I want is to die, like I should have done."

"It wasn't time for you to die. You are special to Suzaku."

"If I was so special then why did he let this happen to me?" Taiitsukun saw the phoenix wince and had to forcefully refrain herself from whacking his seishi upside the head.

" He couldn't control it any more then you could. You can either live with it and go on or…" she trailed off and shook her head. The blue haired man was silent for a moment.

"Why should I go on?"

"You're one of the Suzaku shichi seishi."

"How do you know?"

"I know you can sense that you are. Look on your knee." He did, but there was nothing there. Suzaku came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder and the bright red kanji for well sparked to life.

"Why me?" The oracle shrugged.

"I can't tell you that, but you have a responsibility. Do you accept it?" He didn't answer. She mentally sent out an order to a Nyan-nyan. A few minutes later the girl came in with a wide brimmed hat in her small hands. Chichiri smiled a little.

"Who are you no da?"

"We Nyan-nyan! You have bloody face. We fix wound yes? We cure wound?"

"No. I'd rather keep it no da."

"It make biiig ugly scar. We fix so no scar. We make eye like new." The seishi shook his head. The girl pouted.

"You want look like Taiitsukun-sama?" Suzaku put a hand over his mouth to muffle his laughter.

"Put down the hat," Taiitsukun said. As soon as the Nyan-nyan did so Taiitsukun chi blasted her into the next room.

"Take that," she told him. Chichiri lifted it and stared at it curiously.

"It's a kasa no da."

"Hai. If you want to take me up on my offer, put it on and concentrate and it will send you here."

"Arigatou…but I don't think I will no da."

"What do you plan to do?" He fell silent again and shrugged slowly. " You realize you have a responsibility to the miko don't you?" He remained silent. "Don't you?"

"Hai…I guess I do no da." She didn't say anymore, just looked at Suzaku.

~Make him sleep,~ she told him. He did so.

"Put him back where he was Suzaku and leave the kasa with him."

"Hai." She floated over to him, leaned down and kissed his forehead. He smiled. "Goodbye Mother."

She watched him leave, and sighed heavily.

"Goodbye for now my son."

Seriyuu watched as his brother laid his seishi on the ground and put the kasa beside him. He had come into the southern territory to see what the birdbrain was up to…and also to check up on the rival seishi. He smiled to himself, he didn't need to check up on them, they were weak. It would be so easy.

"He's not going to survive long," the dragon said, half to himself, " he breaks down just because he lost a few friends." Suzaku turned to him, eyes heated.

"He lost everything." Seriyuu waved his hand dismissively.

"That's such a relative term. He still has his life doesn't he? His health. What else matters?"

"His heart."

"Real seishi don't have hearts. Come, I will show you what true power is." He changed into dragon form and started back toward his country, the phoenix reluctantly following him.

The east…it was easy to see who was on the winning side…who was powerful. Villages were either decrepit or bountiful. Crops were either healthy or charred black from the passing armies. In the middle of it all was a great palace. A large city surrounded it. The houses close to it were mansions where the nobles lived. The further out of the city the worse the houses were until they were nothing more then crumbling huts, it's occupants struggling to survive.

He flew into the palace and into a small room a few doors down from the emperors bed chambers. He landed and changed into man form. A young blond man laid face down on the bed, shivering slightly.

"What happened to him?" Suzaku asked, landing beside his brother.

"What does it look happened to him?"

"He is your seishi?"

"Hai, Nakago."

"How could you let him be used like that?"

"I didn't let him, he let himself." Suzaku was about to say something but voices drifting in from the hall silenced him. Curious, the two gods listened in.

"How was it Your Majesty?" said a woman's voice, flat and distant. There was a heavy sigh.

"He's just not as fun anymore," the emperor said, "you'd think I have to promote him to general just to get him to do anything." A scowl broke across the redheads face.

"Hentai," he muttered. Nakago sat up and wrapped the blankets around him. He bowed his head, his blond hair falling over his shoulders and masking his face.

"I can't do this anymore," he said to himself, "it gets worse each time."

~It's your emotions that are holding you back, let them go.~

"My mother said…"

~Your mother is dead. You killed her. You could have all the power at your fingertips if you forget her and let it go.~


~You are a Seriyuu shichi seishi…all the power you could hope for, will be yours. Unless you want to be weak and hindered as such a thing as emotion.~

"With power…I could get revenge."

~Hai, revenge. You can destroy everything that is his, you could even have this kingdom.~ Nakago lifted his hand and blue chi formed around his fingers. He stared at it thoughtfully.

"He's not going to survive," Suzaku said. Seriyuu looked at the phoenix.

"What do you mean by that?" the dragon hissed, slightly annoyed.

"He will get revenge, shut out all of his emotions. Hiding his heart so he's not even sure he can find it anymore."

"That won't destroy him you idiot, that will make him strong."

"Strong? In order to survive you need everything. You need wits, judgement, power," he returned his brothers gaze, " and love."

"You don't need everything." The dragon wished those words didn't sound so hollow. His brother didn't know what he was talking about. Seriyuu folded his arms and concentrated on his seishi.

"When you're building a house one stone can make all the difference. With it…it's strong…without it…something eventually is going to blow it down."

"Humph. Poetry. You have always been the naïve one Birdbrain. You don't know what you're talking about."

"As you say Seriyuu. I've had enough of this place."

The phoenix left. The dragon shook his head again. No…Suzaku didn't know what he was talking about, he never did. So why did a little part of him doubt? He watched Nakago a bit longer, then turned and left.


Nakago could feel the power in him. He had never considered using it for revenge before, until now. He got out of the bed and got dressed. Then looked at his hand again and closed it into a fist, willing his chi to close around it. The emperor wasn’t going to be the only one to suffer.

"You have never been there for me Seriyuu. I will use this power to destroy you…" he closed his eyes for a brief moment and leaned against the wall, "Just as you have destroyed me."


It was so boring, yet he had to pay attention to every single face. Every single endless title that came pouring out of their mouths. All the while keeping on a face of polite dignity. The fourteen year old resisted the urge to shift in the large throne that was much too big for him, and focused his concentration on the noble who was currently speaking.

"I pledge you my entire loyalty heika-sama ," the lord concluded.

" Arigatou Li-san. Your loyalty shall not be questioned." The lord bowed and moved out of the way for the next noble to pledge.

He looked over the sea of faces for someone he knew. Someone who had said he'd be here. Of course that incident had been years back, but it was an event that stuck clearly in Hotohori's mind. He couldn't see the redhead anywhere. He allowed himself a small sigh, he'd probably forgotten.

"Maybe you'd see me better if you looked down," a teasing voice said. A familiar red head was kneeling before the throne, eyes sparkling. Hotohori gasped and started to rise.

"Kijutsu," he murmured. Then he remembered where he was and sat back down again. "It is good to see you again Tori-san."

"Hai. You as well heika-sama. I told you didn't I?" Hotohori smiled.

"You did. Are you planning to stay?"


"Oh," the young emperor dropped his eyes. He had hoped Kijutsu would stay…he didn't want to be alone.

"Don't worry. You have something to look forward too."

"I do?" The redhead chuckled.

"The arrival of the miko."

"Hai! Right! The miko!" A little bit of hope flickered in his heart. The miko. The one he was supposed to protect. She would be the one to take away his loneliness. He wondered what she would look like.

Well…the miko was likely to be better then her seishi. So she would look better then him. Although he couldn't imagine how someone could look better then perfection.

"I have to leave now," Kijutsu said, cutting into this thoughts.

"So soon?"


"Will I see you again?"

"Nothing is certain…but I think you will." Hotohori watched him leave. He was disappointed. Then his thoughts returned to the miko and a smile tilted his features. Even if he was young now, he would eventually have to marry. What better wife then a miko? He would do everything for her and love her completely, just as she would him. Suddenly it didn't seem so boring after all. He had a bright future to look forward too.

Seriyuu paced back and forth in his dragon form. His anger growing with each step. With a roar he lashed out at the mountain with his claws. A few rocks tumbled loose but it otherwise remained intact.

He snarled and began to pace again. Taiitsukun-sama had banned him from the mountain! Taikyoku was the only place he could get refuge from those annoying humans. He wasn't even allowed to remain in heaven until his miko came.

His only consolation was he could at least go to the top of the mountain. He flew to the peak. Genbu was sitting on the edge, his dark hair lifting in a slight breeze. It was strange to see him here. The turtle was usually sleeping under Mount. Black, to be close to his power.

"Join me Seriyuu." Out of respect for the eldest, the dragon changed into his man form and sat beside his brother. The turtle was silent for a long while.

"You have the most power of us now. Perhaps even if I did retain my powers you would be stronger then me." Seriyuu didn't comment, he could sense his brother wasn't done talking.

"But I think Suzaku's power is the strongest."

"What do you mean by that? How can his power be strong."

"Don't let your bias interfere with your words, it makes you appear foolish." The dragon dropped his head a little, glowering out over the northern country.

"His power spreads everywhere, to everyone. Even our seishi are affected by it. Hikutsu and my miko, Subaru and Tokaki, Byakko's miko and Tatara, each were in love."

"Hai, maybe so. But my seishi aren't affected. I made sure of that."

"Not even Soi? Or the twins?"

"That's different! Soi was a child then, children never know what they are feeling, and with Amiboshi and Suboshi it's a different kind of love!"

"Suzaku embodies all forms of love. At some point in their lives every mortal loves; whether it be a guardian, a friend or a mate. It's the one thing that’s inescapable." The dragon wished he could argue with that. But what Genbu said made sense.

"Which is why it's not fair."

"What's not?"

"That Suzaku could ban us from Taikyoku. He could convince Taiitsukun-sama to ban us all, where-as I could not even convince her to let me go and talk with my seishi." A bitter tone edged Genbu's words and Seriyuu didn't blame him.

"Why didn't you just go down anyway?"

"It is my duty as the eldest to set an example, for all it's worth…" It was then Genbu's remark from before sunk in.

" Suzaku had us banned? Why? To keep the mountain all to himself?"

"To ensure his seishi's safety while Taiitsukun-sama trains him. He is not permitted to return either."

"He would give up his home for a mortal? What an idiot." Silence fell again. Well at least he'd be away from those damned Nyan-nyan.

"Have you been watching your twins lately?"

"I've seen them recently, why?"

"Have you noticed anything…different about them?" The dragon scowled.

"Hai, Suboshi hasn't changed all that much…but Amiboshi," he shook his head, " all he can think of is peace. No matter how much I try to convince him otherwise his mind is still set on it. He was supposed to want to get revenge. Together they would become a powerful force."

"Maybe if Suzaku hadn't interfered he would have wanted revenge."

"Suzaku? But I placed a barrier around them…"

"Since when has a barrier stopped the brat? It's not just focused on Amiboshi either. He will someday influence Suboshi into following him in peace."


"Think brother. Amiboshi is the only family he has. He is dependent on his older brother and will eventually succumb to his influences."

"How do you know anyway?"

"I do not sleep as often as you think I do." With that said the eldest god left. Seriyuu watched him disappear into the night. He dug his fingers into the rock. Genbu was right. Suzaku had crossed the line, it was time to make sure he paid for it.


The older boy looked at the seven year old with a raised eyebrow.

"Are you sure you haven't been drinking lately?" The little boy giggled.

"No. Don't be silly. I'm serious, the world is round."

"Don't be a baka Doukun. The world can't be round."

"Hai it can!" the young seishi said, nodding his head enthusiastically. " If you swing a bucket with a ball in it fast enough, even when it goes upside down the ball won't fall out." The little boy sighed inwardly as he saw the glazed look in his brothers eyes.

"You don't care…do you?"

"Of course I care," the older boy said, "I'm not quite sure what your talking about but…"

"It's alright. Really. It's not really complete anyway, I still have to do some more research."

"Why don't you get your nose out of the scroll and go to the village to play with some boys your own age? You can't study all the time."

"Oh but I like to!" the seven year old chirped, then he bowed his head, " besides, the other boys don't like me playing with them. Their too fast and strong and I only hold them back."

"I could tell them…."

"Forcing them won't help matters at all Oniisan, but arigatou for the offer."

"Well I need to gather kindling for a cooking fire."

"I'll stay out here until dinner is ready." The older boy nodded and left in another direction. As soon as he had gone from sight, Seriyuu knew it was time to make his move.

"Chiriko," he called. The seven year old looked up sharply.

"Who's there?"

"Come closer Chiriko."

"Who are you?"

"Don't ask questions, just come closer." After a minute or so of hesitation, the boy slowly approached the place where the dragon was. It was getting dark so the trees provided ample shade in which to hide his features. " Stop," he said when the boy had come close enough.

"Who are you?" he asked again.

"Suzakuseikun." " Nani?!"

"Can't you feel the presence of your own god?" he let a small amount chi form around him, powerful enough to know that he was not a mortal…but weak enough so it wouldn't show it's color.

"Suzakuseikun-sama! Gomen nasai!" Chiriko cried, dropping to his knees, " I wasn't sure! Forgive me."

"You should learn to know me."

"Gomen nasai…are…are you angry with me?"

"I suppose not."

"To what do I owe this honor my lord? Surely I haven't done anything to be graced by your presence."

"No you haven't. That's the point. You’re a disgrace as a seishi."


"You are. So small and weak. You wouldn't be able to fend off an enemy attack even if you tried."

"I…I'll grow…." His voice sounded on the verge of tears. It was so easy. Almost too easy. The dragon grinned, this was the ultimate revenge for Suzaku's meddling.

"No you won't. You'll always be small…. Useless. The seishi would have to spend their time protecting you as well."

"No…that's not true…I know it's not."

"Do you dare argue with me?"

"N…no, but then why did you choose me?" the small boy was openly crying now.

"I don't know. Perhaps I should destroy you. You would never help me anyway."

"Oh please no! I'll try! I'll do my best! Don't kill me! Oh please! Please Suzakuseikun-sama!"

"You're best isn't good enough."

The phoenix grinned and dove through the clouds. His heart was light. Today he was visiting his last seishi. His little Chiriko. He wondered how the boy was faring. He had been waiting for this day ever since he had held the poor little stretched soul in his hands.

He heard the sound of crying. Curious he landed and followed it.

"Stop crying. What kind of a man are you anyway?" Suzaku cocked his head. Seriyuu? What was he doing in the southern kingdom? He came to a clearing and saw his brother, a small boy was huddled on the ground before him.

"Don't kill me," the boy whimpered. Suzaku recognized him in a flash.

"Chiriko?" he murmured, not quite comprehending what he was seeing. Seriyuu looked up and a cold smile lifted his face as he noticed his brother.

"If you want to live," he told the boy, " run." Chiriko stood and ran away, stumbling occasionally over his long robes. Suzaku saw the tears on the boys face.

"What did you do to him?"

"I told him the truth. He is weak…a failure as a seishi."

"Why would he listen to you?"

"He didn't listen to me, he listened to you." Rage ignited in Suzaku's heart as he realized what his brother had done. He clenched his hands into fists, his chi flaring up around him, expressing his anger.

" How could you do that you bastard?! He was my seishi!"

"Hai! You're seishi!" Seriyuu snapped, stepping into the light, his chi was around him as well, but much more brighter, " Amiboshi was mine. You destroyed him!"

"I gave him hope!"

"You made him weak! Just as I made yours weak! Not that it was much of a challenge. " Suzaku screamed and flew at him; he gathered his chi into his hands, then shot it at his brother. The dragon side stepped it and snapped his hand back. The dragons blue chi caught him in the chest, searing him. He yelped and went flying backwards, landing roughly. He climbed to his feet and attacked again.

Seriyuu roared and blasted his brother again. He could release all of his anger on the phoenix, since he couldn't release it anywhere else. It wasn't as if the bird brain didn't deserve it after all.

Banning him from Mount Taikyoku, interfering with his seishi, then having the audacity to attack him, it was just too much. He attacked again and again, each time Suzaku rose fueled his anger. It wasn't right. Suzaku got everything! Taiitsukun-sama always listened to him. He couldn't kill Suzaku…that was impossible…but he could come very close.

The tiger watched the man tidy up the shrine. After all these years he still retained the beauty he'd had when he'd first become a seishi. All thanks to Subaru of course. His movements were graceful and young.

Tatara went to a flowering vine crawling up the walls and fingered its leaves.

"In each of these petals I see you Suzano," he whispered to the plant, " and in these I will never forget you." The beauty of his voice as he said those words made Byakko purr. His voice was so melodic.

~Byakkoseikun!~ a voice snapped inside his head. The tigers head shot up.

~Hai Taiitsukun-sama?~

~Seriyuu and Suzaku are warring with their chi in the southern lands…can you feel it?~ The white tiger opened his mind and closed his eyes.

~Hai. Do you want me to mediate?~

~Not this time, I want you to try and stop them. Enough chi could scar the land, as well as it's inhabitants.~

~I'll do my best Taiitsukun-sama.~ He cast a wistful glance at his seishi, then bounded from the shrine.

Suzaku struggled to his feet. He had some chi left, but not much in excess. He turned to his brother again. A bright ball of chi was hovering over the dragons hand, his blue eyes narrowed in concentration.

Suzaku stood unsteadily and closed his eyes, willing his chi to come into his hands, determined to give his brother at least a bruise.

How dare he tell Chiriko… Chiriko… The phoenix put his hands to his head. What was he doing?! How could he be using the chi for something so trivial when his seishi needed it more? He stumbled away, focusing on finding his seishi.

"NO! Don't run you coward!" A blast of energy caught him in the back and sent him stumbling forward. He caught himself before he could fall completely. He could sense his seishi's chi not to far from him.

Chiriko was hiding behind a rock, curled up in a ball, shaking and crying. Suzaku kneeled beside the seishi and touched his foot. The rock was big enough to shield the small boy, but not nearly enough for him. He hoped that he had enough energy to filter Seriyuu's chi and sooth Chiriko's mind.

The fool. He was leaving himself wide open for attacks. Seriyuu smiled. Oh well, the phoenix's loss would be his gain. He gathered his chi for a massive attack. One that would send the annoying bird well into the stages of unconsciousness and out of his way for awhile.

Suddenly something slammed into him from behind, knocking him to the ground. The dragon cursed and tried to squirm around to face his unseen adversary. As soon as he did so he got a ringing cuff to the face with a sheathed paw.

~Will you GROW UP?!~ Byakko hissed, bearing his fangs. ~Do you have any IDEA how immature this is?~

"It's not immature! It's revenge!"

~Same thing!~

"Even if it is 'almighty' Byakko…." He quickly changed into his dragon form and kicked the tiger off of him. Then he rolled and went into god form. " You can't stop me!" Byakko landed gracefully and ran up again.

~Suzaku you baka! Stop concentrating on fixing your damned seishi!~ Seriyuu grinned at his older brothers efforts. The phoenix wouldn't listen. All he'd have to do was recharge his chi and the annoying youngest would be out of commission for a long time.

Suzaku heard Byakko's warning and knew he had to work fast. If he was blasted while still connected with Chiriko, it would be fatal for the young boy. He entered his mind as gently as possible. He gently took out the memories of Seriyuu with a memory of a peaceful sleep, not having the energy to give him a dream.

He double checked to make sure he had it all…then found something even worse. Chiriko's self confidence had been shattered. It wasn't permanently broken, because the boy was young. But it would take a long time for it to regenerate again. Suzaku focused the remainder of his excess chi to try and start putting the pieces back together.

~SUZAKU!~ Byakko roared. He didn't have enough time! He put the boy into a deep sleep, then broke the connection and jumped to his feet. A blue surge of chi enveloped him in it's bright light.

Byakko hissed as his youngest brother shrieked in pain. He flew back through the trees and slammed to the ground, changing into his phoenix form. Suzaku was still for a moment, then moved feebly, trying to get to his feet.

~Stay down you idiot!~ Byakko told him.

"It still wasn't powerful enough?" Seriyuu said, "well that can be fixed."

~Seriyuu no! He's already down, nearly powerless! Can't you leave him alone?!~

"No. Not until he learns his lesson," the dragon said, brushing past him. Byakko snarled in frustration. In this form he couldn't use his chi to effectively stop Seriyuu. But this fight was too one sided. If Suzaku was beat powerless…the four lands and the heavens would become unbalanced.

The tiger felt his chi writhing inside him, building with his anger and his desire for justice.

~SERIYUU!~ he roared.

The blue haired man rolled his eyes and turned to face his brother. He was getting tired of Byakko's meddling. What he saw made him pause. The tigers symbol was glowing piercingly white and his chi seethed around him. There was flash of white. Seriyuu's eyes widened as he saw Byakko in human form crouched on the ground.

Then the white haired man rose gracefully and pointed to him.

YOU HAVE UPSET THE BALANCES UNFORGIVABLY SERIYUU! AS BYAKKOSEIKUN I WILL NOT ALLOW IT! Seriyuu backed up. Byakko wasn't supposed to have the chi to return to his man form. The dragon knew he had more then enough to cause some damage.

He changed into his beast form and clawed into the air. Before he could get far enough white chi snapped around him, sending him spinning. It was draining his chi! He was angry that it was weakening him…but he knew that it wouldn't weaken him as bad as he had Suzaku. If two of the four were that weakened the balances would be even more upset.

The dragon didn't try to resist and let the chi drain him. He had still gotten his revenge.

Byakko approached his fallen brother and kneeled beside him. Suzaku would recover with time. He touched the young gods feathers softly, enjoying the feel of it under his fingers. It was good to be in man form again. With that much of a chi surge, he could remain in this form for quite some time. Yet in man form, he didn't have the strength to bring Suzaku back to Taikyoku and if he changed into tiger form then he wouldn't have the energy to turn back.

In this form, his brother was invisible to a mortals eye, so he could remain here undetected until he had replenished his chi. While that would have worked for any of his other brothers…it wouldn't work for Suzaku.

The phoenix needed love in order to recover quickly…and he needed to for Byakko sensed that it was almost time for him to chose a miko. As much as the tiger loved him, he could never love him as much as a human could…and that was what Suzaku needed. The tiger sighed.

"Your troublesome, you know that?" The little one didn't answer. Byakko hugged him one last time, then placed his hands on the bird, channeling the chi to him and letting him assume the mortal form he loved so much.

Byakko felt himself reverting to his previous state as he gave up his chi. When he had given all he could he removed his hands, now paws and opened his eyes. Suzaku was lying on the ground, looking weak and vulnerable in his mortal form.

The tiger lifted him gently in his teeth and took him to his favorite place. A shaded glen deeper in the mountains. He set his brother down and watched him for a moment. A warmth coursed through him and a rusty purr grumbled from his throat. He shook his head at the feeling, turned, and padded back into the sky in the direction of his shrine.

Suzaku hurt, his head was pounding and he felt as if he hadn't eaten for days. He opened his eyes to see a dark blur above him. What…what had happened? With a snap he remembered.

"Chiriko!" he yelped, struggling to sit up. Gentle hands pushed him back down.

"Shh. It's all right. You're safe now, but you need to rest." He looked over at the speaker. A woman…almost at any rate. She had long, dark blond hair and she seemed familiar somehow. She kept her hands on him for a minute.

"I'll…I'll stay down," he whispered. He wasn't even sure if he could sit up. The woman smiled and sat back. She dipped a cloth in a bowl of water beside the bed, then wrung it out and laid the damp cloth over his forehead. The gesture warmed him and he smiled.

"What happened to you anyway? You were so weak, but I couldn't find a scratch on you."

"I forgot." She looked as if she didn't believe him, but didn't comment.

"What's your name?"

"Tori Kijutsu…and yours?" Before she could answer the door opened and a tall man entered the room. He lifted the woman into his arms and kissed her passionately. Suzaku smiled…they were in love. The man broke the kiss and looked down at her.

"I'm back," he said.

"I noticed. You're wet and cold too. Did you come all the way here in the rain just to see me?"

"Hai. My clothes will dry and it's up to you to warm me." He kissed her again. The woman gave a muffled giggle and pulled away.

"Juan stop it! I have a visitor." The man looked over at him, then set her down.


"That's all right," Suzaku said, " You can carry on. I don't mind." The woman laughed.

"No. We won't sicken you any more. If only Juan were more observant."

"I am. I just didn't see him."

"How could you not?"

"My eyes were only for you." She smiled again and shook her head.

"To answer your previous question. You may call me Shouka."

"Sh…Shouka?" The redhead couldn't believe it. She was Shouka? The one he had saved? It seemed strange to see her again.

"Hai. This big oaf is Myo Juan." Myo Juan…he was Mitsukake. Mitsukake and Shouka were in love. His smile grew wider at the thought. His seishi was happy.

"What's he doing here?"

"I found him. He was so weak I thought he was dead at first." Mitsukake turned to him, his deep voice serious.

"What caused this?"

"It doesn't appear to be anything physical. Just a draining of his energy."

"A disease perhaps?"

"I think I just overexerted myself. I should be fine in a few days." The seventeen year old seishi looked down at him, slightly surprised. " Tori Kijutsu."

"Gomen again," the healer said with an embarrassed smile, " sometimes I get too wrapped up in things."

"Well, since you’re here, I should go into the village and try to haggle some tea leaves off old lady Dama," Shoka said.

"Tell her if she lets you have it cheaper I'll give her something for her arthritis."

"Hai, I'll do that. I'll be back soon," She pecked him on the cheek then looked down at Suzaku. " and you keep resting. Understand?"

"Hai…I understand."

"Good." They watched her leave. When the door shut, Suzaku looked back at his seishi. Mitsukake was setting his rain soaked cloak on a chair before the fire.

"You love her?" he asked, wanting to know why.

"Hai. After the flood…I lost my family. But she was there for me just as she always has been. With her I have a family again." It made sense now. Kourin's sacrifice had given Mitsukake a chance to love. That still didn't make it fair, that one should have to die for another…but in the end it all evened out for the better.

He closed his eyes and smiled. Perhaps Chiriko would turn out for the better as well. He could only hope. With that thought in mind he dozed off.

Suzaku woke again when he noticed a strange weight on his chest. He opened his eyes and saw a small face peering back at him. The phoenix folded his arms behind his head and stared at the newcomer.

~So there you are you blasted neko.~ He told it. The neko settled himself more comfortably and regarded the redhead calmly. ~What took you so long?~

~Well excuse me. I was just born a year ago.~

~Excuses, excuses. So how long have you been with him?~ The neko was quiet a moment. He licked his paw thoughtfully and washed the brown smudge on his forehead.

~A few weeks,~ he responded, slight embarrassment edging his thoughts.

~Weeks? And you were born how long ago?~

~ Well the directions you gave me weren't entirely clear.~

~They were clear,~ Suzaku said defensively.

~Go toward the mountains? You call those clear?~

~Well how hard can Mitsukake be to find? He is tall.~ The neko sweatdropped.

~Height has nothing to do with it baka immortal. Humans are harder to find when you don't have divine power.~

~I will not be spoken down to by a neko.~

~But I am no mere neko.~

~You are.~

~Oh. So are you saying you created all the hundred other nekos in the world as well as me?~ Suzaku sweat dropped. The creature had him there.

~How is it?~

~Looking after him? Frustrating. You'd think I was just another ordinary dumb beast by the way he treats me. For instance, I tried to tell him for two hours that someone was coming seeking his healing ability, but did he listen to me? No. What do I have to do? Mime?~

~Maybe it's not such a bad idea. Humans aren't always the most intellegent.~

~Like you are.~

~And I suppose nekos are the most intelligent species out there.~

~The feather brain isn't so stupid after all!~ there was a teasing note to the creatures voice.

~Where is Mistukake?~

~The tall one is making some broth to give to you. Perhaps you should leave.~

~No. I can't. I'm not strong enough yet.~

~You are. You know as well as I do that their love was enough to get you back on your feet.~

~But…but I don't want to.~

~You have to grow up eventually Suzakuseikun.~

~Aren't you forgetting something?~

~Like what?~


~Neko-sama? Well I like the sound of that. I don't think I deserve it, but, if you insist.~ Suzaku glared at the neko and sat up. He bounded off his chest and plopped down on the bed gracefully.

~Your right, I suppose I should go. It wouldn't be good if he tried to heal me with his powers.~

~Of course I'm right. I'm always right.~

~You know I could chi blast you out of existence with very little effort.~

~I know. But you wouldn't.~

~You think not?~ The neko suddenly appeared dressed as a Nyan-nyan and gazed up at him cutely. Suzaku couldn't help but smile.

~I know not.~ The phoenix grinned and decided to retaliate another way. He scooped the cross dressing kitty into his arms and squeezed him in a bear hug.

"Aww…you're just so adorable!" The neko squirmed.

~Ack! I get the point! Put me down!~

"Tori-san? Did you say something?" Mitsukake called from the other room.

~I'd better go, you look out for him ok?~


~I'm depending on you.~

~ I know.~ Suzaku left the house, turning into phoenix form in the cooling rain. He wished he could have staid…but…that was impossible. He could heal by himself for the time being, periodically checking up on his seishi. The neko would take good care of Mitsukake until he was united with the miko and Shouka would as well.

With that thought he flew out of the village and into the night.


Seriyuu rested himself. He lay curled on the peak of Taikyoku gazing out over his lands. His seishi were strong…with one exception…and all of Suzaku's seishi were weak. He showed his teeth in a dragon's smile. His seishi were the strongest…the bravest. They would triumph. As would he.

Suzaku flew through the air. He loved the feel of the rain on his feathers. He coasted for a while until he saw a village far below him. He landed on the outskirts, and went up to a small hut.

He wished he could go inside, but his phoenix form was too big and he didn't have the energy to change it. He peered inside the window. Chiriko was lying inside, the covers pulled tightly up to his chin. The phoenix sighed, he looked so frightened.

~Chiriko. I've always loved you, and I always will. You are never useless to me. Gomen nasai that I couldn't save you from my brother.~ He watched his young seishi for a while longer, then turned away.

"Suzaku-sama…" a small voice whispered. The phoenix turned back. Chiriko was sitting up in bed, hands folded and eyes closed, " I know I'm young and weak. But I will protect the miko with all I have. I will make you proud Suzaku-sama. I will make father proud. I will do my best and…and I know we'll win. Even if it feels like we've lost…because…we'll always have you."

Tears rolled from the phoenix's eyes as he looked at the young one. So brave…and so sweet.

~You have already made me very proud Chiriko. Wo ai ni.~ Then he launched himself into the sky again. He needed to find a place to regenerate his chi, but still be close to his humans. Somewhere where that was alive…and where one of his seishi was. He closed his eyes and searched among them. One in particular burned straight into his heart.

The phoenix chuckled to himself, banked and headed towards Mount. Reikaku. Home of the fiery wolf…


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