A/N: Right, so after seeing that my favorite slash pairing of all time didn't get a lot of fan attention as far as fiction, I decided that if you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself. Well… I don't know if it's done right. (hehe.) That's for you to decide. Part two is honestly more erm… "active"…but for now, just bear with me.
Perhaps it was because Tasuki never liked women. Or perhaps it was the fact that he had never given the other sex a try and was, to say in the least, a bit homophobic. At any rate, the red-haired bandits lack of sexual preference intrigued the fellow Suzaku Seishi, Tamahome.
It started when the two had to room together in the imperial palace. They were already known to 'get along famously', so everyone assumed that placing them together would help them get over their rather rocky places. The first two weeks, so to speak, was hell for them both, with Tasuki making wise-ass cracks at Tamahome and flaming him whenever he could make it look like an 'accident'. Tamahome, trying to practice self control, would usually lose it and push Tasuki out of the window into the river running by Hotohori's palace two or three times a day. Consequently, their room was dripping wet half the time, and the other half, it smelled of smoke and burnt flesh from Tasuki's little escapades on Tamahome. It was like an unspoken contempt between the two, who found that the other stretched his willpower to the limits. For the next week or so, the grudge between them deepened somewhat, and they didn't talk to each other at all except when they had to.
Even through his thick disgust for Tamahome (and rather thick skull), Tasuki couldn't help but notice that his roommate never slept much. Often times he would roll over and yawn only to find Tamahome standing at the window that looked out to the trickling river, seemingly deep in thought, his lavender eyes narrowed. 'The smell of the river is probably getting to what little brain he has,' thought Tasuki, after three consecutive nights. Then he would roll over again and fall asleep again.
Then came the night when Tasuki went on his little weekly sake experience. He didn't get too drunk—just a bit tipsy—but he ended up losing his way to his room and traipsing through half the palace until a rather scared servant pointed him in the right direction. Then, after trying to ram his way into a closet, Tasuki finally staggered into his room. It was rather late at night, now, and after his midnight tirade, Tasuki was ready to drop dead on his bed and sleep till the next coming.
After having some difficultly closing the door, Tasuki wearily stripped down to his faded pair of sleeping pants and more or less made his way into the bathroom, meaning to splash his face with a little water to clear his head. But something went wrong, his hands didn't work properly, and he ended up dunking his whole upper half in the washbasin.
Tasuki hurriedly dried his face and hair with Tamahome's clothes after silently counting to ten. Coming out, he was going to throw himself on his bed that was looking mighty comfortable right then when he saw Tamahome.
His roommate was tossing to and fro, and was broken out in sweat. Not the kind after a good workout, but the cold, clammy perspiration when faced with a traumatizing occurrence. Tamahome was breathing undecipherable words and seemed to be in a great deal of pain. Tasuki stood over his roommate for a moment or two, watching him and unsure of if he should wake him up—and cause Tamahome's insomnia to start up again—when two droplets of water fell from Tasuki's damp hair and onto Tamahome's face. It broke the nightmare. Tamahome's eyelids fluttered open and he found himself staring up at Tasuki's gold eyes.
The next moment was needless for the ears. After Tamahome got over the brief shock of waking up to see someone stare straight at him, he wearily sat up as Tasuki tried to sit down on his own bed and ended up dropping onto it.
"What were you doing?" Tamahome asked indignantly, unsure of what Tasuki's intentions were. Tasuki shrugged, trying to work out the words in his head that were coming very sluggishly before speaking them. "Watching you freak out."
Tasuki tried to hold consciousness as the after-effects of sake seemed to be pulling him into oblivion. "Freak out. You were twitching and muttering stuff. It sounded bad."
Tamahome eyed him suspiciously. "It sounded bad? How do you know I wasn't dreaming about fluffy bunnies and running through a field of daisies singing happy songs?"
Tasuki scoffed. "Personally, I woulda been freakin' out too if I was dreaming about that. But c'mon, Tama, how many times d'you honestly dream about bunnies and daisies? Please say never, cuz if yah do, I'm switchin' rooms."
Tamahome laughed shortly, filling the room, but the laughter died quickly as he lowered his eyes and hugged himself from a cold wind that Tasuki couldn't feel. "Do I…do that a lot, Tasuki? Freak out, I mean."
Tasuki shrugged as he replayed the words Tamahome said for them to sink into his mud-filled brain at the moment. It was nice, really, to have a civil conversation with Tama-boy, but not at the moment when he felt like his head was being filled with sacks full of cement. It took awhile for Tasuki to answer, party because he wasn't good in these situations, and partly because—obviously—he was drunk. "I dunno; actually this is the first time I've seen it. But eh… I've seen you stand at the window plenty a-times."
Tamahome gave Tasuki a clearly forced smile. "I just can't fall asleep. And I like watching the stars, and… such."
Tasuki stared at Tamahome. "Yea, and I guess that explains the trash bags under your eyes."
The room seemed to get colder, then, as Tamahome lowered his eyes again, staring hard at the floor. "Okay, then… maybe I'm afraid to sleep."
Tasuki was too simple minded and didn't understand these things. "Why the hell wouldja be afraid ta sleep?"
The moment the words were out, they lingered like a cold front and Tasuki wished he hadn't said them, but instead of pushing Tasuki out the window, Tamahome was laughing. "Yea, pretty stupid, right?"
Tasuki bit his lip, the sleep in his head ebbing away a little. "I didn't mean that."
"Of course you did," Tamahome's brow was furrowed very deeply, now, as he went on. "It's just that… I always have nightmares about my mom… how she died. I was so young, and so confused, and I didn't know what was going on," Tamahome's voice quavered, and Tasuki felt like he was doing his best for it not to break.
Even so, a single tear dripped out of Tamahome's eye and landed on his forearm. "I didn't even say goodbye to her…"
Tasuki stood up, walking over to Tamahome's bed. "Tama, I'm sorry."
Tamahome shook his head. "I probably should let go, but I can't. She told me to take care of dad and the others… and I just looked at her like she was crazy… I was only eight years old, but that was the last look I gave her… I didn't even tell her bye… and now I'm afraid to what's going to happen to what's left of my family…"
Tamahome's voice had finally broken, and the next thing he knew, Tasuki was sitting down on the bed next to him, with a strong arm around Tamahome's shoulders.
"I'm sorry, Tama, I'm sorry," was all Tasuki could think of to say.
Tamahome, who was also barebacked and only dressed in a similar pair of sleeping pants, stiffened a bit, but then he relaxed. He hadn't felt a comforting touch of anyone since Miaka said she wasn't allowed to touch him, and now it felt his immense burden was being relieved, if even just a little bit.
The tears were out now, and they felt like they'd been pent up for a long time, for they kept on coming. Tamahome buried his face in Tasuki's neck, and Tasuki held him. He could smell Tasuki: a mixture of alcohol, smoke from his tessen, pine trees, and something else that he couldn't identify. The least likely person of the seven Seishi seemed to reveal a soft side Tamahome had never seen before—it was something that Tasuki hadn't shown to him or any of the others. Was it possible that Tasuki covered a soft interior under macho bravado?
"Maybe I should go join the bandits and live a happy life like yours," Tamahome commented after awhile. Tasuki laughed, his voice full of anguish to Tamahome's surprise. It seemed so out of place with Tasuki's character. "You think I live a happy life?"
Tasuki looked away, staring at the perfectly full moon outside of the window. "Naw, it's… it's more like I choose to forget what's happened."
He sighed, shaking his head as he laughed, unaware of the grief that embellished it.
"Anyway, it's nothin' like you've had to live through… my mom's still here, but she was like a dictator, tellin' me how to live…and my dad, well, he wasn't really much of a father, the way he let himself get pushed around like that. My sisters, 'specially Aidou, used to taunt me in front of everyone, and call me sissy and mama's boy."
Tamahome dared to look up, and Tasuki's eyes were closed. Maybe it was because he didn't want Tamahome to see his eyes that would be even more of a giveaway than his laugh.
"I couldn't take it anymore! So I ran off to be a bandit." Tasuki shrugged now. "It wasn't much of a better life the first few years…I was the underdog. But I lived through that, and Rei-Rei's death, and Leader's death…"
Tamahome had heard of Rei-Rei, Tasuki's adopted little sister who'd died trying to protect him. "Is that why… you went away by yourself when Miaka showed up?"
Tasuki opened his eyes again after a moment. "Yea," He said, his voice carefully guarded now. "I just had to… sort some stuff out. Find myself again."
Tasuki swallowed hard, and Tamahome thought he saw his eyes grow brighter than they usually were.
Then, his arms were around Tasuki, skin prickling where it touched his. Tasuki seemed to bring out a much more different reaction in Tamahome's body than it did when he was with Miaka… and this seemed much, much more right. But maybe that was just because he hadn't held her for a long time. "I didn't know… I'm sorry."
Tasuki looked back at him. "Anyway, Tama, you don't have to go on worrying about the family. They'll be okay with the thought that you still care about them."
That phrase had caught Tamahome off-guard. Could Tasuki, the blunt, boastful typical bandit have said that? Tasuki felt like he had to make up for that statement as well, because he added after a beat, "'Sides, worrying is stupid."
Anyone looking in on them would have thought that they were lovers, but in both of their minds, it was what friends would have done in this situation. Both of them were vulnerable, and both were wounded by the past… and as Tamahome slowly drifted off to sleep, he thought that maybe Tasuki wasn't the happy-go-lucky bandit he portrayed himself to be. Perhaps the show was just to cover up his sensitive nature on the inside that he wanted to hide. They'll be okay with the thought that you still care about them. Maybe that was true. And that was when Tamahome fell asleep.
A/N: Oooh, setting up for Part Two (which I'm in the middle of writing. It's even giving me stomach butterflies. In a good way. And I'm not even involved. Whee.) Please R&R with what you think. Muchly appreciated. Give and you shall receive. You get the idea. Thanks. ) x Belles