*Looks around curiously, holding a spork for protection* BACK!! *Glares playfully* I know!! I haven't updated in forever plus three! I'm sorry!! *Throws and spork down and glomps the reader* FORGIVE ME!! *Cries melodramatically*

Uhm . . . anyway! ^_^;; I'd like to sincerely thank anyone who continues to read this, I really don't deserve it, leaving you guys hanging for soooooo long. _;; I adore everyone of my reviewers and I would like to thank those in particular who e-mailed and hastled me. Without your threats . .. errrhm . . . . words of encouragement I probably would have never continued. THANK YOU!! *Gives doughnuts* (( I'm on a Trigun kick, can you tell? ^_^ ))

Anyway, thank you for your patience and as always, all reviews, comments, flames, marriage proposals, death threats, etc. are welcomed. ^_^

Chapter 3


"HOW MUCH FURTHER DO WE HAVE TO GO?!" Tasuki blurted out loudly while flaring his arms like a child.

Chichiri grinned and stopped abruptly, allowing Tasuki to run in to him with a soft thud. "All that fussing isn't helping us, you know."

Tasuki frowned deeply and pouted. "But I'm tired . . ."

Chichiri shrugged as he took in the beautiful scenery. The gentle glow from the falling sun set a blanket of cascading colors over the surroundings. It was very calming; gazing at the fiery trail of kisses the sun placed on the sky. "I'm tired to, you know, but we have to keep going." When Chichiri noted the look of despair his chuckled softly. "Alright, we can stop here but only for a few moments, you know."

Tasuki's eyes widened as relief settled over him. "THANK YOU!" He laughed as he flopped down on the ground and instantly fell back in to the soft grass. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," he sung happily as he snuggled deeper in to the thicket flora.

Chichiri stared at Tasuki with an amused smile but behind the smile was a painful realization of hurt for his friend. It hadn't taken as much effort as he thought it would to convince Tasuki to tell him what was really wrong with him. Apparently, from what he could tell, Tasuki had managed to cross worlds without the use of a certain connection or help from any outside powers. How though? That was the question that haunted him and made him uneasy. How had Tasuki done it?

He had describe the feeling of power from Suzaku but still . . . that didn't help him much. If it was a doing of Suzaku's then why hadn't he felt it?

"You gonna stand there all day or are ya' gonna take a load off?"

Chichiri brought his head up and stared at the fiery bandit. Apparently he was further lost in contemplation than he realized. He didn't want to worry his friend, not when there was still much to figure out himself. "Because unlike most people, I'm used to traveling for days at a time and I don't need to, you know."

Tasuki wrinkled his nose and gave him a fine, 'humph!'.


Miaka tilted her head to the side and stared at the reflection in the mirror. When she had passed the clock on her way to the bathroom again she had caught a glimpse of the time. An hour. Nothing more than an hour had passed since she crawled in to the bath. A small smile crossed her lips as she silently recognized the irony of how little it took to turn her world around. Not like she wasn't used to it . . . but it didn't make things easier.

Tasuki . . .

Her gaze slowly turned from a brave smile to a light frown. He was here, wasn't he? She hadn't dreamt the whole thing up did she? Her expression fell even deeper. He was gone . . . it didn't matter if it were a dream or not.

"It'll be alright Mi-chan. When I'm gone you just pretend it was all a dream . . or a nightmare, which ever you prefer."

Miaka choked back a violent sob and hung her head miserably, running her small fingers through the clumps of half damp hair.. But she didn't want to pretend . . . she didn't want . . . she wanted . . .

She muttered a curse and raised her head to meet the reflection of her tear stained eyes. What was she thinking - what was her problem? Didn't she even know what she wanted?!

With a heavy sigh a few tears fell to caress her cheek as she reached out her hand to gently touch the cool glass of her bathroom mirror. She stared at herself for a few minutes then ran her fingers down the slick surface.

She didn't even know what she wanted . . . all she knew was she didn't want Tasuki gone. She didn't want him to go again.

The gently echo drip-drop vibrated through the bathroom as the faucet dripped from her bathtub. No other sounds reverberated through the house. Miaka dropped her fingers from the mirror to hug herself tight. Things seemed cold and lonely in her silent home. Keiske wasn't with them anymore. He had moved in to a dorm to be closer to his school and her mom wasn't in town this week. She had left to visit a dear old friend. That left Miaka alone.

Not even Taka had bothered to visit her yet. He had been so busy lately and she didn't want to impose . . . all she asked was for him to whisk her away for one last magical night. Sure, it couldn't compare to the magic of the book or the profound fantasy that was their withstanding love but it was something she had dreamt of for a while now. One last night of carefree dancing and romance with the one she love.

A smile broke through the tears and for a moment she forgot the image of Tasuki and the creator. The only scene that filled her mind was her in her new dress and Taka dressed up in his fine tuxedo and to two of them dancing marvelously through the sea of people. There would be dancing, and dining ( her personal favorite ), and so much fun to behold. Then afterward they would leave and be together. It didn't matter where as long as she was in Taka's arms. A memory that would last a lifetime. A memory that she would always hold dear. A memory . . . just a hopeless memory . . .

Her thoughts suddenly fell as did the look on her face. She then remember that her night of dancing and romancing would never happen. Taka wasn't -


Miaka's heart jumped at the sound of the doorbell ringing. Who was it? She quickly swore then threw her messy hair in to a ponytail and wiped at the wet spots on her cheek violently. Then, like a mad man, she mad a rush at the door, tripping over a various number of things and landing on her face a few times. "C-Coming!" she hollered from the ground and jumped up to grab the doorknob.

Before opening the door she straightened out her shirt and then frowned at her shorts. Not exactly the most appropriate of apparels but it would have to do.

She pasted a smile on her face and swung the door open. "HEL- ACK!" She yelled out as she slammed the door in her face. A sweatdrop hung from her bangs as she peeled the door off her face and rubbed her head. Great! Now whoever it was standing there was going to think she was an idiot!

"Owww," she whined and opened her eyes slowly, Expecting to see some punk laughing at her but that isn't who she saw. "TAKA?!"

Taka gave her a brilliant smile and took a step in to her house, his hands behind his back. Of course, that sparked her curiosity and all thoughts of the bump on her crown faded. "Hi there," he said coolly and smirked, noting the look of suspicion on her face.

"Whatcha' got?" she chirped. Yeah, she was smiling from ear to ear but somewhere deep inside she was crying. She shouldn't be happy he was here. She should kick him out on his sorry ass for making her feel bad . . . she should . . . but she didn't, wouldn't, couldn't.

Taka laughed a little and removed one of his hand, revealing nothing to her. She threw her hands up on her hips and gave him a teasing smile. "Fine, I didn't want to know anyway," she pouted and stuck out her tongue.

Taka just stared at her for a moment then revealed his other hand, holding a small handful of flowers. Miaka's heart instantly melted and any intentions of yelling at him faded. "Oh! Taka!" she exclaimed as he handed them to her.

"For you, Lady Miaka," he said in a charming voice.

Oh how those words hit hard against her breast. They shouldn't have but they did all the same. That's what the people had called her. Suzaku no Miko . . . Lady Miaka . . .

She bit back her bottom lip but still smiled at him. No, she couldn't start crying again. Not in front of Taka. She should be concentrating on thank him, kissing him, telling him how much she adored him - not remembering things better left behind.

Taka blinked a few times as a thick silence fell upon them. Alright . . . what was wrong with Miaka? After a good fifteen minutes of seething he jumped up, got in his car, and hurried over to her place, picking up a small helping of flowers along the way. He expected her to throw herself on him and laugh happily; not stand there and look . . .

Taka frowned deeply. He couldn't even read the expression on her face. Hurt? Pain? Lost? . . . a combination? He felt himself become a little irritated with her lack of enthusiasm but it was soon overcome with a feeling of concern and worry. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and kissed her forehead. "Miaka, are you alright? What's wrong?"

Miaka's eyes shifted from staring at the innocent flowers to gaze in to his bright, soft eyes. He was worried about her. Damn! What was her problem? Sure. She had been depressed before but this took it to a new extreme. However, those words kept bothering her.

"Do you believe in Suzaku's power?"

What had she been talking about? Taka's eyes burned deeply in to her and she suddenly felt breathless. This was power of great Phoenix God. Slowly she brought her hand up and cradled Taka's cheek in it's small possession and smiled slowly.

"Miaka," he breathed huskily and wrapped his arms around her after noticing the color return to her cheeks and a fresh batch of tears brewing in her green depths. He held her tightly against him and she laid her head on his chest, encircling her arms around his waist.

His fingers brushed under her chin and lifted her head up to look at him. "Miaka," he whispered and bent down to lightly skim his lips over hers. Miaka shuttered instantly, but not because she was caught in a whirlwind of heat and desire. She shivered because something didn't feel right . . . something was missing.

However, Taka took her reaction as a sign of passion and tilted her head back to kiss her deeper. Miaka, in return, instantly tightened up and pulled away. "Taka. . . no." Taka heard her words but took them as a game of encouragement. Never before had Miaka told him no and he didn't believe she would start now. Not after all the kisses they had shared.

She started to protest again but when she did he slipped his tongue in to her mouth and she closed her eyes, lost in a wave of lust. She moaned a little and began to kiss him back against her better judgement. Her previous thoughts of things wrong washed away as his mouth crashed down on hers again. She didn't want to dwell on things that didn't feel right and she decided that if they didn't feel right then she'd make them.

A few moments later she found herself breathless from his kisses and dug her fingers in his hair. They still hadn't moved from the door but he had her leaning against the frame, trailing his kisses from her mouth to her neck. She giggled at the tickling feeling. Even with that nagging feeling pulling against her she ignored it. She needed to be with Taka. He was her life . . .

With a cocky chuckle he kissed her lips again and rested his forehead against hers. Miaka opened her eyes slowly and sighed when he returned his assault on her lips. This was how it was supposed to be. Him with her forever. "Oh," she whispered, ". . . Tamahome."

Instantly his kisses stopped and Miaka's eye closed tightly, recalling the name she let slip through her lips. 'No!' she screamed at herself. She awaited the onslaught of curses but they never came. Nothing did. Everything was still and quiet and for a moment Miaka questioned if Taka was even there. Of course, he was though.

"What did you say?" Taka said a little to softly. Miaka hung her head and opened her eyes to stare at the floor, to scared to say anything. What could she say? Taka HATED it when she slipped and called him by the wrong name. He wasn't Tama. He never would be Tama. He was Taka . . . and she loved him. Didn't she? 'If you did then why do you always by the wrong name,' she mocked herself bitterly.

When she finally braved enough courage to look up he was looking away, examining the floor with a silent glare. A few minutes rolled by and Miaka coughed a little. That seemed to catch his attention and he stared at her. "Taka, I -" She was cut of by his growl.

"Miaka. I came over here to apologize for my behavior . . . I even brought you flowers . . ." he tightened his hands in to fists and closed his eyes tightly, leaving wrinkles along his flawless cheeks. "I - I - I don't even know what to say."

"Taka I'm sorry. I didn't mean to . . "

"You never mean to but it happens all the same, doesn't it?!"

Miaka winced at his words and clutched the fabric that hung over her chest. "I said I was sorry."

Taka ran a frustrated hand through his hair and let out a long sigh. "Let me make this perfectly clear. I'm not Tamahome. I am Taka and I love you but I can and will never be Tamahome!" Miaka bit her bottom lip hard, trying to control the sobs that threatened to escape.

"I know that," she said softly after he didn't offer anymore words.


Miaka held her head as he yelled, trying to drown out the sounds. "Look Taka, I can't take this now, I've had a pretty hard day and I don't think that your yelling is helping me-"

"Helping YOU?"

Miaka felt her anger build up. He wasn't even listening to what she said! He didn't understand and worse than that, he apparently did care to understand! "Get out," she whispered softly.

"Excuse me?"

"I said, GET OUT!" she yelled and threw him a scolding stare that would have frightening any mortal man. Apparently, Taka proved to be no mortal man.

Taka furrowed his eyebrows and returned her expression. "Fine, but don't expect me to come back," he fumed. When she didn't bother to answer and threw his hands up in exasperation left, slamming the door behind him.

The brute force he applied caused the door to creak open after it had closed. Miaka calmly placed her hands on the soft wood and pushed it closed, trying desperately to ignore the sounds of Taka's car revving up.

She stood there for a second, a million things running through her head. Different scenarios, the results, the rewards, the consequences . . . Oh! What did it matter!? This was a nightmare!!

"Is it really?"


"A nightmare? Seeing me again, is it really a nightmare?"

She stammered through a few incoherent words quietly through the cries that fled her lips; a desperate attempt to shush the violent tremors that raked through her small body and poured from her eyes.

She lay her head against the door and closed her eyes. 'No Tasuki,' she finally answered him in her mind, 'Seeing you isn't the nightmare . . . but everything else has been.' With another jerky sob she fell to her knees and silenced her screams of sorrow in her hands.


o_O! Wow!! That was really angsty, wasn't it? Heh. ^_^;; Poor Miaka. I hope I didn't make Taka that much of an asshole. I mean, I would have been mad too, wouldn't you have? I still think he was an asshole though . . . I guess I was just desperate to get him outta the way for the moment. Hehe. *Kicks a chibi Tamahome and laughs evilly* ~_~;; No I'm not alright, I'm demented and cynical and . . . stuff.

*Laughs* Oh well, I updated at least, right? 1_^-

Oh! And don't worry. I had to put the angst in to build up for later. *Shrugs* I promise not all my chapters will be like this. There is plenty of fluff and lime to go around. Sooooo . . . uhm . . . there! ^_^;;

Love and PEACE!

LadySteph - Stephanie