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

Author's Comments: Special thanks to Moonsong-neesan. Without her, this story would have never happened. She has been my beta and my friend and a source of insperation. Arigatou…. Oh…and Gerald-chan? When's he next chapter of Fate coming out? Huh? Huh?

Also…Ryu Toso means war dragon…. That's about it for now.


Heavenly Playground

Chapter 4: The Choice of a Lifetime - Part 2

By Night~Mare


Suzaku rested his chin on his fist and stared out the window of the ice cream shop. Miaka had just left, after eating enough ice cream to fill an army. He didn't mind, he found her appetite endearing. Then again, he found nearly everything about her endearing. Sometimes she just made his heart melt.

Besides that, she was a very generous girl. Very open, loving and caring…even if she was a bit thoughtless at times. He couldn't hold it against her. After all, she was only human, but what a human. He didn't know they made little girls so cute. Now if only Byakko could see it that way.

~Have I mentioned that I don't like her?~ the tiger asked, the tip of his tail twitching. The redhead frowned.

"Hai…many times. Why? I mean…sure she's not the smartest in the world but…"

~She's annoying! She almost always speaks in a whine, she eats more than a young elephant and her taste for hairstyle is appalling.~

"Aww…I think her buns make her cute."

~You think everything about her is cute.~

"So? It is."

The tiger sighed in annoyance and stood to leave, Suzaku got up as well. He waved goodbye to Yarou-san and they stepped out onto the street.

~What I'm saying is, you can't choose a miko because of her looks.~

"But doesn't beauty reflect well on the god?" Suzaku said, as innocently as he could. Byakko started to say something, stopped, started again, stopped and laid his ears back.

~Shut up.~

The phoenix laughed at his older brother’s annoyance. It was interesting to see the tiger speechless for once. Interesting and fun. He had to do this more often. Byakko stopped suddenly and came to stand in front of him.

~Suzaku, she's only two.~

"She's four."

~Two, four, it doesn't make a difference. How much of a personality do you think she has right now?~


~That won't change as she grows?~

Suzaku thought for a while, then sighed. " Hai. You're right."

~Of course I am.~

"So what do I do now Byakko? I can wait until she grows up! I'll just stay here and watch her grow."

~No! That is…I mean…uh. What if she turns out to be someone different than you wanted?~

"Why don't you want to stay around her?"

~She stepped on my tail, pulled my fur and tried to see how big my mouth was. You should be grateful I didn't bite her head off. That's not the point though and you know it.~

"So you think I should try and look for another miko?"


"All right Byakkie-kun, but I doubt I'll find one better than her."

~I hope so,~ the tiger said as they resumed walking.


Byakko was seriously thinking of switching back to Seiryuu. Sure, Suzaku was more interesting, but Seiryuu talked less. They had been roaming for a while, trying to find a miko. The red head had even passed over that one Tsukino girl who had called Byakko beautiful.

There was that…and the fact Suzaku simply wouldn't shut up about Miaka. Everything kept leading back to her. Wondering how she'd grown, comparing other girls to her, looking into food shops and saying; Miaka would like that. He didn't think he could take much more.

"Hey Byakkie-kun?" Suzaku asked, pulling him out of his reverie.


"Look at that girl over there. You know if she was shorter with darker hair she'd could be Miaka's sister or something."

~Can't you think about anything but her?~ the tiger growled.

The phoenix blinked. " No."

That was it. He'd had it. If he heard Miaka mentioned one more time, feathers would fly and they were going to be red. Without a word he turned and jumped into the air. He caught a passing cloud and rode it for a while; grateful he wasn't mortal like the other two. Byakko sighed, as uninteresting as he was; Seriyuu at least had some sense in his head.

He saw the dragon walking down a country road. Byakko jumped down and joined him without a word. Cherry blossoms swirled around them and the tiger breathed in their scent gratefully. The only sound was the soft breeze, and it was a welcome sound indeed.

~Have you found anyone?~ he asked, when it had gotten too silent.

"Not at all. I wish my miko didn't have to be human."

~Maybe if you ask Taiitsukun-sama nicely, she'll let you have a Nyan-nyan.~

Seiryuu winced. " That's even worse. What about the brat?"

~He thinks he's found someone. Yuuki Miaka.~ Byakko twitched at the name. ~According to him she's so compassionate and caring and just so cute. Ugh.~

"Compassionate?" Seiryuu said thoughtfully, " Maybe that's what I need." Byakko had a sudden, sinking feeling.

"Where does she live?"

~In a place they call Tokyo.~

"I'm going to find her."

Byakko sat dead still in the road. He closed his eyes and felt his fur ruffle of its own accord. Why him? Why always him? Now he knew why Genbu had been so vehement to get out of the job. With a frustrated growl the tiger followed the dragon; right back to the place he had come from. Well if Seiryuu made Miaka his miko…it wouldn’t be so bad. He’d probably tone her down a bit. Byakko could only hope.


Suzaku wandered aimlessly. No matter where he looked, he couldn't seem to find the right one. He remembered what Byakko had said, but for some reason he felt like he knew Miaka. Like he knew what kind of person she would grow up to be. She would be a lively, bubbly person who cared for everyone. Who cared if she would be a little naïve? That only added to the charm.

He found he just couldn't stop thinking about her. She rested in his mind like a lead weight. His heart was telling him he would never find another. Still…he should listen to Byakko and try. After all, the tiger was older and maybe he knew something that Suzaku didn't.


Seiryuu watched the young girl waiting outside the school. She had short blond hair and light blue eyes and seemed to be a fairly good student. She would be a good miko for him, except there was one better.

Suddenly a brown haired teenager darted out of the school, tripping over the steps.

"Yui-chan!" she yelled, " don't leave! I'm here! Wait up!"

"I’m not going anywhere you baka," the blond said, rolling her eyes.

"Lets stop by the ice cream shop on the way home! I'm starving."

"Well that's a surprise."

"Is it really?"

A large sweatdrop rolled down Yui's head. " Miaka I was being sarcastic."

"Oh. I knew that. Come on!" The dragon sighed. That was Miaka, she was what he wanted to bring his seishi together. She was everything he needed for that. If only she wasn't so…so…hungry.

"I want double scoops of fudge and sushi twist!" He'd watched her for years. He knew that because she'd grown, although it hadn't seemed like years to him. She was the right age…fifteen. Soon he would take the step to make her his miko. He just had to psyche himself up for it first.

It wasn't that he was frightened, hardly that, it was just that he had to control himself from whacking her across the head. Sometimes she was too stupid. Well…now would be a good time to start the process. He couldn't wait forever…and unfortunately he couldn't force her to be the miko.

He followed them and went into the ice cream shop. They were sitting on stools, Yui calmly eating some ice cream in a bowl, Miaka with an ice cream cone in each hand. He stared at them, expecting them to notice him. They didn't. He folded his arms and glared at them. It was still as if he weren't there.

~You know Seiryuu…if your going to get anywhere with anyone…your going to need to know how to act human.~

"What am I supposed to do?" he murmured to Byakko, without looking down.

~Try to be polite. Ask if you can sit next to them.~ Before he could say anything, both girls turned to him, stars sparkling in their eyes. He smirked; obviously they knew a god when they saw one. He didn't even have to do anything.

"Is that who I think it is?" Yui asked.

"It sure is!" Miaka squealed. He was taken aback. They knew him? Suddenly they ran right past him, trampling over Byakko in the process. He turned and saw them ogling a picture of a singing man.

"Tokyo pop star Garasu Yagi!" they squealed.

"Isn't he cute?" Yui asked.

"He sure is! And famous too!"

"Of course he is dummy. Oh if only we could get tickets," Yui said, sighing a little.


"I can get you some tickets," Seiryuu said. As one the girls turned to him.

"Arigatouuuuu!" Miaka squealed, launching herself at him. The dragon tensed, preparing for an attack. Instead the girl wrapped her arms around him in a forceful hug that sent him stumbling back.

~Watch it!~ Byakko growled, switching his tail out of the way just in time. The blond blushed and tapped the brunette's shoulder.

"Miaka-chan. You don't even know him."

"Oh! That's right," Miaka said, pulling away. She smiled up at Seiryuu.

"Konnichiwa, I'm Yuuki Miaka, pleased to meet you…um…"

Seiryuu thought fast.

"Ryu Toso."

"Pleased to meet you Ryu-san. That's my best friend Hongo Yui."

"Konnichiwa Ryu-san," she said politely…but Seiryuu could tell she was embarrassed. She took Miaka's arm.

"Comon' let's go. You can have dinner at my house."

"But my ice cream!"

"It's already melted."

"I'm hungry for ice cream, but I don't have any money to buy another cone."

"I'll buy you one," Seiryuu offered. All he had to do was get her complete attention for a few minutes; then she would be his. If he had to give her everything she wanted to get her to that stage, he would.

"Arigatou again! You sure are nice Ryu-san!" She went over to the display case, stepping on Byakko's tail in the process, and peered down through the glass. Seiryuu chuckled at the angry look in the tigers eyes.

~Did I mention I hate her?~ Byakko said, casting a scathing look at the girl.

"I want a scoop of chocolate swirl, cheesecake, sushi twist, cherry jubilee and marshmallow fudge!" she said happily. Seiryuu sweatdropped.

"A bottomless miko…."

~No kidding…I wonder if she bleeds or she's just hollow,~ Byakko said thoughtfully.

The ice cream came up and Seiryuu paid for it. The tiger grinned, crept up to Miaka and opened his mouth as if to bite her leg.

"Whoops," Miaka said. A large blob of ice cream slipped off the cone and smacked the white tiger right in the face. Seiryuu laughed as Byakko roared in fury and tried to get the sticky stuff off his furry face. He could get to like this girl.


Suzaku sighed and stared out onto the water of the lake. He was in a park, and children played happily not to far from him. He felt lonely. Byakko had stayed with Seiryuu so long. Suzaku missed his company.

He didn't like this world much. It was too crowded and noisy and the air smelled terrible. He longed to go back home to the south. He wanted to go high up to the mountains with the thin, clean air where he could fly for hours. Or he could visit the capitol, with crowds of people…and a glorious palace towering over them. Or perhaps he could follow the river to the border of Byakko's country and lay in the lush green grass to watch the minnows swim.

Or maybe he could go back to Tokyo. The place where the one bright spot shone in this world. The bright spot with russet hair and hazel eyes, sparkling with happiness. The home of Yuuki Miaka….

He hadn't seen her grow up…but he'd felt it. He'd known, without even knowing how he knew, how she had developed. How her heart was full of love…even if her brain was rather empty. She would learn, she would grow, he knew she would.

He made up his mind. Byakko would just have to suffer. Suzaku would never find another girl like Miaka. There was no one else suitable enough to be his miko. There was no one else he wanted.

He stood and headed toward Tokyo. Only to find out that he wasn't very far from it. Somehow he'd wandered back to this place, as if he'd been drawn. He let his instincts guide him. He knew it must have been years since he'd last visited, but he remembered it all.

He saw a teenager standing in her yard, idly watering a flower patch growing near the house. She had long dark hair, wearing overalls and chewing on a pixie stick. She looked back at him and double-taked.

"Konban wa Tuskino-san," the phoenix said. Tuskino took the pixie stick out of her mouth.

"Do I…know you?"

Suzaku grinned and waved then walked on without answering her.

The day finished and a night passed. The afternoon of the second day, he had gotten a ride in one of the mortal’s cars. By evening he was in Tokyo, outside a familiar ice cream shop. He smiled. He wondered if Yarou-san still worked there.

He started to walk toward it, but stopped as someone came out. A young girl, fifteen at least. Her russet brown hair was pulled into two buns on either side of her head, tied with red ribbons and when she looked at him he saw her eyes were a beautiful hazel and sparkling. His heart stilled in his chest and a numb feeling swept through him. Miaka….

"Konban wa…I'm looking for a tall cute guy with blue hair. His name is Ryu Toso…have you seen him?" Her voice was clear and high and sweet, almost like a mountain stream.

For some reason, the red head found himself at loss for words.

"Wh…who me? Well…I don't think…I hadn't been paying attention…but he might have come…uh…konban wa….do you remember me?"

Before she could answer, someone brushed past Suzaku, pushing him aside.

"Toso!" Miaka said, her face brightening.

"Miaka," the blue haired man said. He took Miaka's hands and looked deeply into her eyes. Suzaku's eyes narrowed as he realized who it was. Seiryuu…. A fire flared to life around the phoenix's heart and he clenched his hands into fists.


Now was the time, Seiryuu decided. He'd been with her for two months now. He'd catered to her every desire…and he'd had fun watching Byakko get injured because of Miaka's clumsiness, which was why the tiger was currently in search of Suzaku

Now was the time to make her his miko. He looked into her eyes, trying to find her soul.

"Toso…" Miaka whispered. He didn’t answer. He finally found the light which connected her soul with her body and followed it mentally. He was almost there.

Suddenly someone tapped him on the shoulder, interrupting his concentration. The light vanished. He let go of Miaka and whirled around, roaring. He'd kill whoever had distracted him.

All he saw was a glimpse of red hair before a hard fist connected just under his right eye. Seiryuu fell back, snarling. The unexpected pain shot sparks into his head.

"You jerk!" a familiar voice snapped. Seiryuu looked up and narrowed his eyes.

"Suzaku…" he said. He retaliated the punch his brother had given him, sending the red head sprawling. The phoenix jumped to his feet again and struck a fighting pose.

"Stay away from her!" Suzaku demanded.

"Why should I? You're the one who left her behind."

"You know I wanted her!"

"Did I?" the dragon said softly, an edge to his voice, "it doesn't matter if you wanted her or not. You didn't claim her…so she's mine."

"No!" his younger brother yelled, and charged him. Suzaku didn't have a chance. He never had…not against him. But again the phoenix stood, panting…disgusting mortal blood dribbling out the corner of his mouth. Still he stood, ready to fight…and be beaten. The fool.

Seiryuu moved to attack him again, but a white shape flashed in front of his path.

~STOP!~ Byakko roared. The dragon found, to his annoyance, that he couldn't move.

"Byakkie-kun," Suzaku said.

~Shut up baka!~

Seiryuu snickered at the hurt look on the redheads face.

~You too big mouth. Come with me.~ The tiger stalked away. The dragon was forced to follow him. He couldn't make his mortal body do otherwise. Suzaku walked beside him, head bowed.

Seiryuu gritted his teeth; he hated being mortal.


Miaka blinked as she watched the two men walk away. Could it possibly be…that they were fighting over her? Oh wow! That had never happened before!


Byakko stalked back and forth between the two, ears laid back and tail slashing angrily.

~What you did back there was inappropriate,~ he growled, ~fighting before mortals…have you sunk that low?~

Seiryuu folded his arms and looked away.

"But…but he was about to make Miaka his miko and he knew I wanted her."

The tiger shot a glare at him and Suzaku shrunk back a little. He probably shouldn't have fought.

~You didn't claim her Suzaku. That's not the point. Fighting over her won't make any of you two closer to her becoming your miko.~

He was right. As usual. The phoenix wasn't even sure why he'd fought. His heart was just torn over the thought of her being with someone else. Especially with him. He looked up and glared at his brother. Seriyuu would use her. He would make her 'strong'. He would take away everything dear to her and leave her an empty shell like he'd done with Nakago and Tomo.

~I'll do you a favor,~ Byakko was saying, ~I'll take away her memories of the fight and give you another chance at her. Otherwise she'll be frightened to see either of you. This is the only favor I intend to do for you.~

"Arigatou Byakkie-kun."

"Arigatou," Seiryuu said reluctantly.

~What did I ever do to Taiitsukun-sama to deserve this?~ Byakko muttered as he padded off. The dragon and the phoenix shared a glance. Then Seiryuu turned and walked away. Suzaku watched after him, then turned as well.


It was later that night. Suzaku had washed the blood from his face and cleaned himself in a goldfish pond in the garden of one of the richer mortals. He laid in the star light until he'd somewhat dried. Then he got dressed and ran a hand through his still damp hair to put it in some semblance of order.

A network of rose bushes crawled up a latticed arch at the entrance to the garden. As he was walking under it, a thin beam of moonlight hit one of the roses directly above him. It was a crimson rose and seemed different from the others. He touched it and the petals felt like silk.

The phoenix pulled it from the bush, careful not to prick his fingers on the sharp thorns. It was beautiful, something Miaka would like. She didn't live that far from here. He could sense it. He walked without really knowing where he was going until he came upon a tallish building with many windows. Most of the windows were lit with the strange candlelight that existed in this word.

He looked up at a balcony. A light wind ruffled his hair. Miaka lived there. He wanted to see her. He wanted to hear her voice again and look into her eyes. His heart seemed to be calling out for her. If only she would come down.

"Do…do you need to see someone?" someone asked. Suzaku looked down and jumped. Miaka was standing just outside the doors, looking at him a bit nervously. The red head suddenly found himself speechless again.

"Hai…but she's here…I mean you're here. I mean…here," he said, holding out the rose to her. She cautiously came up to him and took it. A blush darkened her cheeks.

"Why are you giving this to me?"

"I…I picked it for you."

"Wow. You mean a real boy is giving me flowers?! It's the first time it's ever happened! I'm finally starting to attract boys!" she chirped, hugging the flower to her.

"You attracted me, Yuuki-san." he said, smiling at her. Miaka blushed harder and opened her mouth to say something.

"Miaka," a voice said.

"Toso!" she squealed. Again, Seiryuu brushed past him, more violently this time. Suzaku glared at him, but the dragon pretended he wasn’t there. Seiryuu held out a bouquet of blue flowers to her.

"I picked these for you…."

"You too? It must be my lucky day! At this rate I'll have to hire someone to keep the boys away!"

Seiryuu sweatdropped but Suzaku smiled. She was so optimistic…and cute.

"Do you want to go for a walk in the park with me?" the dragon asked, offering her his arm.

"Hai!" Miaka took his arm, holding the blue flowers close. The rose slipped out of her hands and fell to the ground. Suzaku watched her go, his heart aching to follow her. He picked up the rose and touched it with the tips of his fingers. A few red petals fell off and fluttered hopelessly to the ground. Why was he feeling like someone had stepped on him? What was happening to him? He had to ask someone…and there was only one person to ask.


Byakko laid comfortably on the railing. He was on a high structure the mortals called Tokyo tower and he could see the entire city laid out before him, glittering like fireflies. He liked it up here, away from the crowd…the noise…Miaka…. He twitched at the thought.

He didn't know what the other two saw in her. She was whiny, loud, clutzy and had no more intelligence than a feather pillow. He still liked that Tuskino girl…and if not her…Yui. He liked Yui. She was quiet and reserved. She had a quiet sort of beauty and a quick mind that was both shrewd and intelligent. She didn't move with grace exactly, but her movements were measured. She thought before she acted. She would be a good miko. Of course she would be nowhere near the caliber that Suzano had been…but then…no one could be.

He looked lazily at a few couples who had gathered at the top of the tower. He loved to observe humans when they couldn't see him. Unfortunately they weren't doing anything interesting…just cuddling close and whispering to each other. Byakko looked back out on the city and watched the tiny red and white lights zoom around on the streets below.

"I need help Byakkie-kun."

The tiger jumped in surprise at the sudden voice and nearly fell off his perch.

~Suzaku don't do that!~ the tiger hissed. His youngest brother seemed to ignore him and stared out over the city.

"How did you get Suzano?" he asked finally.

~I found her, told her I wanted her and made her my miko.~

"She didn't resist?"

~Of course not. Don't be ridiculous.~

"Why not?"

Byakko sighed. Sometimes the youngest could be so blind.

~It was me. Of course she didn't resist.~

The phoenix face faulted. Byakko narrowed his eyes.

~What was that for?~

"Nothing. Nothing. You know Byakkie-kun...sometimes you are no help."

~Well next time don't ask,~ the tiger growled.

A few silent minutes passed. When Byakko looked for his brother. He saw him standing near a kissing couple, watching them with a smile on his face. The tiger couldn't help the smile that crept into his mind.

Kissing drew Suzaku like a magnet. In fact…anything related to love drew him. It was just so typical.

The couple broke apart and looked at the red head.

"Do you mind?" the man snapped.

"No," Suzaku said, " you can go on. I like to watch."

"Hentai," the woman snapped. They stalked away from him. Suzaku's face fell and he went back over to his brother.

"What did I do?"

~I don't know little one,~ Byakko said, casting a glare at the couples retreating back.

"I've been feeling strange lately. Around Miaka…I don't know what's happening. I can't seem to speak right…she takes my breath away…and even after I've just seen her I want to see her again. I feel warm when she smiles and every time she blushes my heart melts. I want to touch her Byakko…like that man just did to that woman…I want to kiss her…. I've never felt this way before…. What's wrong?"

Byakko rolled his eyes. How ironic.

~You're in love little one.~

"I am?"

~You are.~

"I am?"

~You are.~

"You sure?"


"I am! " he began to spin around in circles, " that's it Byakkie-kun! I can't believe it!" He laughed, drawing frightened looks from the other mortals in the tower. "WAIII! I am! Happy happy! Lucky lucky! Genki genki! Nyan-nyan! I aaaaam!" He jumped onto the railing, crowing his triumph to the stars.

Byakko sweatdropped and looked away. He was not related to this bird.


Suzaku flung out his arms and stared up into the sky, breathless from laughing. His heart pounded, sending a warm feeling all through him. He was in love! In love with Miaka. The thought of her name echoed through his head and he closed his eyes.

He had to tell her. He had to tell her how he felt. He had to see her. He dove from the tower, stretching his wings out behind him. A split second later he realized that he was mortal now, purely mortal, and had no wings. Oops. He winced as he saw the ground rushing up to meet him. This was going to hurt.

He jerked to a stop, feet from the hard ground. Gentle teeth clamped onto his neck.

~Baka,~ Byakko said in a laughing tone. He set the phoenix gently on the ground. Suzaku grinned, waved a thank you and took off to find Miaka.


Seiryuu looked around to make sure they were alone. Miaka was sitting on a stone bench, clutching the flowers in her hand and looking at the stars.

"I wish I knew the constellations. Yui can find all of them, I can't even find the Big Dripper." She looked back down and set the flowers aside. Her head darted back and forth as if she was looking for something.

"Did you lose something?" Seiryuu asked.

"Hai. That rose that guy gave me. It was pretty. I think I remember that guy from somewhere. When I was a little girl I remembered one who reminded me of him named Tori Kijutsu…. But they couldn't be the same one…Tori-san must be old by now. Maybe he aged really well!"

"The rose doesn't matter," Seiryuu said sitting beside her.

"Toso? Do you think the guy who gave me the flower has a girlfriend."

Seiryuu growled.


"I like him. He's cute."

No. He was not going to let his brother win again. Miaka was going to be his. It didn't matter if she was as stupid as a sheep. It didn't matter that he probably didn't need her as much as he'd originally thought. He would not let his brother win. He would show the bird brain who really conquered all!

He grasped Miaka's chin and lifted her face up.

"Look at me," he growled.


"Look at me!"

She did, her eyes were frightened. He set his jaw and tried to find her soul again. Her eyes flicked away.

"No! I don't want this Toso."

"Don't call me Toso! My name is Seiryuu…and you will look at me."

"No! I won't! Let me go! I mean it!" She began to struggle. The dragon grabbed her wrist and began to twist it.

"If you disobey me I swear I'll break it. Now look!" When she didn't comply immediately, he twisted it harder. She yelped and looked at him. Tears standing out in her eyes.

"Why are you doing this?"

"It doesn't matter. Just shut up." He searched for her soul again. Nothing could distract him this time. She would be his miko. A sharp pain erupted in the back of his head, severing the connection.

He turned. A small pebble whizzed through the air and cut his cheek.

"This time you're going to far!" Suzaku shouted.

"Throwing rocks at people is no way to fight." Seiryuu got to his feet and glared. This time, he would beat him senseless…and when Suzaku woke up…Miaka would be the Seiryuu no Miko.


Byakko closed his eyes. It had been a while. He might as well talk to Taiitsukun-sama and tell her what was going on. He focused all his concentration on calling her. It was difficult and drained a lot of chi…but he didn't think his brothers would need anything right now.

He put more and more of his chi into it as he did he became almost dead to that world. There was an almost audible click in his mind and he knew he was connected.


The tiger winced.

~ Let me talk to Taiitsukun-sama,~ he growled.

"Hai hai! We get Taiitsukun-sama! We get get! We fix fix! We cure cure! We-"



"I've got it!" an old, annoyed voice snapped, " go away."

"We go go. Bye bye Byakko-neko!"

~I really hate them…you know that?~

"So do I sometimes."

~Only sometimes?~

"How has it been going so far?"

~It's a long story.~


Suzaku danced out of the way of his brothers punch. Seriyuu swung again and caught him in the shoulder, making his arm go numb. The dragon kicked him in the stomach, sending him flying backwards. Suzaku landed, the wind knocked out of him. His ribs hurt, his close were torn and he didn't even know humans had so much blood. There wasn't a place of him that didn't ache…but he couldn't let Seiryuu do that to Miaka. She was scared.

He struggled to get to his knees, but the dragon kicked him in the back, sending a blinding pain up his spine. Suzaku fell forward again. His blood mingling with his tears.

Seiryuu looked down at him in disgust and went back to Miaka. She screamed and tried to run from him. He stopped her and forced her to look at him. Suzaku watched as she struggled. Tears streaming down her face, screaming for help. His heart wept with her. There was nothing he could do.

There was one thing, but that would be giving Seiryuu an open opportunity to get Miaka. Maybe that was for the best if he did. She would be the type to bring his seishi together. Surely he would see that and leave her the way she was. Then she would still be the same…just Seiryuu's. He couldn't see her suffer like this. If it meant he had to lose her to save her…then he would.

He climbed shakily to his feet and lifted his arms to the sky. He tossed back his head and began to sing. Not in words, just in music. His chi unlocked itself and swirled around him, lifting him into the air. His wings returned and he propelled himself higher. His strength was returning and pain disappeared. The song changed, into something that wasn't human. It became a warbling cry that echoed off everything. It was his song…the phoenix's song.

He stopped singing and dropped his arms to his sides. Then he glared down at Seiryuu. The dragon was staring up at him, disbelief written across his face.

"Don't hurt Miaka!" Suzaku snapped. The anger boiled in him. He focused his chi on his mortal brother and lifted him into the air with it. He shrieked, feeling the symbol glowing hot on his forehead. He sent a beam of chi into Seiryuu, twisting his anger into it. Seriyuu arched back and screamed, the chi writhing around him.

Suzaku closed his eyes. He was hurting his brother. He couldn't do that, no matter what Seiryuu had done. He let his brother drop gently to the ground and looked away. He had lost his miko…Miaka.

He glided to the ground and reached out a hand to help Seiryuu up. Seiryuu batted his hand away and glared at him. He struggled to his feet and glared at Suzaku coldly.

"That was a stupid thing you did bird brain. Now there's nothing to stop me. You won't be able to choose your miko for another five years."

"I know." He went past his brother and approached Miaka. She looked up a him fearfully.

"No…don't be afraid, please," he said, " I won't hurt you." She seemed to believe him. He came closer and tentatively touched her soft cheek. The touch sent a thrill through him.

"Are you…are you Tori Kijutsu?" she asked,

"Hai…I am…but my real name is Suzaku."

" Suzaku?"

"I wanted you to be my miko…"

She stared up at him blankly. He knew it meant nothing to her. Why should it when she didn't even know what it meant?

"Why did you save me from him? You got hurt."

Suzaku smiled, " It's alright, I'm fine now."

"No it's not! You saved me. Why?"

"It's because…because…I…I love you."

Her eyes widened.

"You don't even know me."

"More than you think.

"What would I do as a miko?" she asked. It hurt him to tell her. But if she was going to be Seiryuu's, she had the right to know.

"You have to gather the seven seishi and bring them together...then you can have any wish you want granted."

"Anything?!" Miaka asked. He smiled.

"Hai...anything. It can all be yours...,"

"Even passing high shcool entrance exams?"

"Even that."

"I'll do it! Consider me your miko!"

He forced a smile to his face. " I'd love to Miaka, but I can't. I don't have the energy."

"I can lend you some of mine!" she said cheerfully, "I'm sure I have enough." His heart melted at her enthusiasm.

"It's a wonderful thought but it won't work."

"Maybe it won't but we have to try. You never know until you try."

"All right."


Seiryuu watched them, contempt boiling through him. It wouldn't work. It would never work. Suzaku was just wasting his time.

He stood shakily to his feet, the effects of the chi still pounding in his brain. Once Suzaku realized he had failed, Seiryuu would take over and make Miaka his.

He wanted to mock his brother, but held himself in check. Suzaku had a quick temper and a definite advantage at the moment. The dragon would bide his time...he would win anyway...taunting was meaningless.


Suzaku grasped Miaka’s hand and looked into her eyes. The light was easy to find. He knew it. It was full of love and compassion. He followed the light to her soul. He gasped when he saw it, it was beautiful…but the job was only half done.

He had to infuse her soul with his own chi in order to make her his miko, but he didn't have enough left. Maybe if he gave all he had.

"I'll give my energy to you willingly" Miaka said, " If only I knew how." Her compassion washed over him. It strengthened him restored his energy. He fed off love…and compassion was a part of love. Miaka's words rose the levels of his chi. He gave it back to her, feeding it into her soul…connecting them. Him with her…her with her seishi. Together they would form an unbreakable bond.

When he could give no more chi he closed his eyes for a moment. Relief flooded through him, mingled with joy. Miaka was his miko now. He could watch over her and protect her. Then…one day…he would give her all his powers to do what she would with them. He would truly be one with her then.

He opened his eyes again. They were surrounded by glowing red light. His symbol burned brightly on Miaka's forehead and an unexpected wind whipped the hair from her face.

"No!" Seiryuu roared. Again, Suzaku ignored him. He focused on Miaka…her face…her eyes.

"Miaka…can…can I kiss you?"

"I've never been kissed before…." she said.

"Neither have I." He leaned toward her. Her eyes closed and her lips parted. He would be the first one. The first to kiss her. He came closer, the excitement building in him. No one else would be able to experience this first kiss. Not even…not even the man she fell in love with.

Reality hit Suzaku like a rock. Miaka would never love him. She would feel compassion perhaps, but never truly love him as he wanted it. She would fall in love with a mortal of course, one of her own kind. She wouldn't love a god.

He sighed…he couldn't take that from her. He would let someone else have the privilege. Someone that would be far better then him…someone that had some choice in their fate. He tilted his head up and kissed her forehead instead. Just that kiss ignited a flicker inside of him. Maybe…someday….


Seiryuu stormed away from the scene, his nails digging into his palms. Damn him! How had he managed to do that? Why did he always seem to win? It was unfair. He shouldn't have been able to choose a miko, yet he had. Now the dragon had to find someone else.

He narrowed his eyes. He knew exactly who. Hongo Yui…Miaka's best friend. Like him and Suzaku were enemies, the girls would become enemies as well. He would tear them apart…and see how happy Suzaku's miko would be then. He would win, he was powerful…he would win.


Byakko entered the park where his brothers were and looked between them. Suzaku was perched on a tree limb in man form, his great red wings folded behind him. A silly smile was plastered on his face and his eyes looked distant.

Seiryuu was turned away from him, sulking. His ears had reverted to normal and his eyes and the reptilian stare. Apparently they had both chosen their mikos. Byakko had the feeling he'd missed something.

~Did you erase their memories of you?~ he asked finally.

"Hai," Seiryuu growled.

~What about you little one?~ No response. ~Little one?~ Still nothing. ~SUZAKU!~


~ Did you erase Miaka's memories.~

"Oh…hai…of course. How did you know it was Miaka?"

~Just the look on your face. But at any rate…we must be going home…finally.~

Suzaku nodded and flew up into the air, changing into phoenix form as he went. Seiryuu changed into his dragon form and coiled into the air, going much higher then his brother. Byakko staid behind and looked around. He was to leave this world tonight. He had to do one thing first.

He jumped into the air and padded just above the trees. He could sense where she was. He came upon a rather rich house, with a large garden. He jumped to the ground and entered the silk door.

She was lying on the bed, sleeping deeply. Her white hair tied in a knot behind her head. He laid beside her and watched her sleep. He wished he could see her eyes. They were so beautiful when she was young.

~Suzano, I have missed you,~ he said, even though he knew she couldn't hear him. He licked her cheek affectionately. Even in her old age…he found her beautiful. She shivered as if she was cold. He curled closer to her, warming her with his breath.

Her eyes moved as she slept and she opened her mouth.

"Tatara," she whispered, " Even if I leave…I will love you forever. Don't cry for me…. Goodbye Tatara…I love you…" A tear slipped down her weathered cheek. He licked it away and nuzzled her hair comfortingly.

~Do not worry my Suzano. If Taiitsukun-sama cannot stop love…nothing can. Not even death. I have failed you, gomen nasai…. But you will be happy in the end…. I swear it.~ He sensed his brothers chi behind him.

~Byakkie-kun, we have to leave now.~ He looked up at his youngest brother.

~Is what I told her true?~

The phoenix flicked his tail and spread his wings.

~Death can't stop love…it can only delay it for a while.~

Byakko stood and stretched.

~ Ah little one…I can almost forgive you your choice of mikos.~

~Almost?~ the phoenix flicked his tail again and clicked his beak. ~But she's so cute!~

~Alright…that's it…you're dead.~

~Gotta catch me Byakkie-kun!~ Suzaku sang, jumping into the air.

~I will little one!~ Byakko called back. He leapt into the air and began chasing his brother toward the portal that would lead them home. Laughter bubbled in his heart.


In her sleep. Suzano smiled.



Return to Archive | previous