Disclaimer: Fushigi Yugi is not mine-wish it was-if it was everyone would end up happy with the one they loved:) Also, this is after they tried to summon Suzaku and Chiriko first came-but right before they go off to Genbu lands.

"Come on! Hurry up and twirl him!" Tasuki yelled, bouncing up and down with as much excitement as a three year old in a candy store.

Miaka and Chiriko exchanged an amused glance as they continued to spin the man before them. Tomahome and Mitsukake stood together on the edge of the allowed area, covertly fidgeting with anticipation as well. Chichiri was laughing at the faces Nuriko was making as Miaka and Chiriko continued to spin Hotohori.

It was a rainy day outside but inside there was enough happiness to overcome the dreadful weather. They had already finalized the plans for the journey into Genbu lands and now they only waited for a clear enough day to travel. Earlier everyone had moped about the palace, faces drawn in boredom and depression. Seeing this and hoping to cheer everyone, Miaka had suggested playing blind man's bluff. After a few minutes of explaining the rules and marking a set area to play in, Miaka chose Hotohori to be the first "blind man." His advisers objected to his playing childish games but Hotohori resisted them, somehow knowing that they all needed this.

"Alright," Miaka spoke near Hotohori's ear once they stopped spinning him, "Give Chiriko and I a few seconds before you start going anywhere."

With that, Miaka and Chiriko sprinted away, hiding behind the pillars. Hotohori smiled as he took a tentative step forward. He had never played this game before and so had no idea how to cheat and find people. He heard shuffling feet off to his right. Grinning he lunged across the room but ended up tackling a pillar.

"I think I like this game!" Hotohori heard Tasuki laugh, "It's not everyday you get to see an emperor attack a pillar!"

Hotohori growled and threw himself towards Tasuki but missed when Tasuki jumped over him and skidded to a halt right beside a pillar. Tomahome and Miaka both started talking as they moved about the room, causing Hotohori to move in circles trying to find them. Hotohori suddenly heard someone chuckle right beside him. With a sly grin, he turned and threw his arms about the form. Feeling long hair and soft skin Hotohori felt that he knew who it was.

"Miaka!" He exclaimed as he tore off his mask.

Hotohori blushed slightly with embarrassment when he found himself embracing Chichiri instead of Miaka. Tasuki fell on the floor laughing, as did Tomahome, but Mitsukake and Chiriko were polite enough to remain standing as they laughed. Miaka giggled with delight as she embraced both Chichiri and Hotohori, making the original embrace a little more uncomfortable.

Chichiri shrugged and smiled at Hotohori, "A common mistake, na da."

"Common my ass!" Tasuki managed to gasp between fits of laughter. "He just molested you!"

Nuriko suddenly appeared and whacked Tasuki firmly upside the head, sending him tumbling across the room. He smoothed out his garments and smiled at Hotohori, all the while ignoring Tasuki's heated insults. When chaos seemed on the brink of exploding Miaka stepped forward and cleared her throat, calling for silence.

"Since he didn't guess right he has to go again," Miaka smiled as she helped Hotohori put the mask back on, "Hope you don't mind."

Hotohori smiled as Chichiri and Miaka began to spin him, "I'm actually enjoying myself, thank you Miaka."

This round no one spoke, leaving Hotohori with the silence as his guide. He almost caught hold of Miaka and Chiriko but Tasuki tripped and cursed loudly, breaking Hotohori's concentration. It went on like this for some time until Hotohori was so accustomed to silence that whenever someone did make a noise he immediately headed in that direction with pristine accuracy.

"It's hot in here!" Tasuki complained a little later, "Mitsukake, help me open these windows." Tasuki and Mitsukake disappeared behind the heavy drapes that hid the windows and Hotohori could hear them slowly make their way down the row. When he felt a large burst of wind against his face, Hotohori jumped a little in surprise. He heard Tasuki swear and smiled. "Wow, would you look at those trees bending in the wind. It's pretty fierce out here, almost like dinner time back home."

Suddenly another large burst of wind assaulted the room, blowing out all sources of light. Miaka squealed and began to move about the room searching for Tomahome, who in turn moved in the opposite direction looking for her. Mitsukake, Chiriko, and Chichiri left to go get something to relight the candles while Tasuki fumbled about the room, marking where he was with harsh curses. Hotohori smiled as he pulled the mask from his face and moved slowly in the darkness towards where he thought the windows would be. He made it to a pillar and was just moving around it when a hand suddenly caught hold of his arm.

"Who is it?" He asked curiosity and excitement lacing his voice as he turned to face the faintly outlined form.

Hotohori gasped when a soft finger pressed against his lips, "Shh," a husky voice silenced him.

Hotohori reached down and touched the hand holding onto his arm, amazed at how soft the skin was. He closed his hand around the small one and gently pulled the form forward. He heard a few steps and almost held the form in his arms but Tasuki suddenly bumped into a nearby pillar and swore. The form stiffened and jerked away, pulling Hotohori around the pillar until they were both sheltered from the room and all its occupants by the waving drapes that now encased them in warm darkness.

Hotohori tried to pull the form into his arms again but both hands splayed on his chest and resisted. Hotohori sighed and reached out, tracing his fingers across a soft cheek, down a smooth neck, to soft shoulders. He felt a shiver ripple through the form in his arms and he smiled, reaching out with his other hand to caress a small back. He moved his hand back up to cup a cheek and smooth his fingers across soft skin. Hotohori knew his caresses were working when the hands pushing against his chest relaxed and instead gripped his robe, pulling him closer. Hotohori felt warm breath against his neck and shivered when small hands began to knead the muscles in his chest then move up to his shoulders and wound around his neck.

Slowly, tentatively, Hotohori pulled up against the form, relishing the feeling of having the warm body pressed so close to his own. Fingers began to play with the string holding his hair and soon, when he hair was free of the small hindrance, dove deep into his hair, pulling Hotohori's head down closer. Warm breath now fanned his cheeks and he could feel their chests rising and falling in rhythm, as well as their heartbeats.

"Who are you?" He questioned softly, their faces slowly traveling towards each other.

Soft lips brushed across his cheek, close to his own lips, "Shh," the huskiness of the voice worked its magic on Hotohori and before he could stop himself, he lowered his head and pressed his lips against soft lips that felt like wet satin.

Hotohori lost all connection with reality as he kissed the person in his arms. A tongue touched his lip, tasting him in a soft caress, he returned the favor, letting himself indulge on these kisses, with a mouth so wet, and warm and lush pressed against his own. When he breathed in he smelled a faint alluring scent, one that was vaguely familiar but he could not grasp where he had smelled it before. The kiss tasted sweet and held such longing that Hotohori pulled the figure even tighter against himself. He moved his lips to a forehead, and then to cheeks, and finally the mouth again, opening his mouth and sliding his tongue in. Their tongues met and moved together, sliding back and forth in a natural rhythm. Hotohori tightened his hold, bending the form over his arm ever so slightly so he could have more access. He felt the hands in his hair tighten, moving across the nape of his neck and up toward the top of his skull, holding him for the kiss. The form softened even more against him, melting and conforming to his own body, he opened his moth wider and shifted angles, so he could have more—more access, more tongue in his mouth, because it was driving him crazy in the most exquisite way.

He broke the kiss only long enough to trail a long line of hot kisses down an exposed throat to the spot above a wildly beating pulse. He licked the skin here, relishing the feel of the soft body enfolded in his arms and the shivers he caused to run through it. He licked again and smiled when hands pulled his face up and insistent lips met his once more. Hotohori was forced to take a step back, his body now pressed between the pillar and the form, not that he minded. They kissed like this, deep and insistent, their bodies pressed and moved against each other, for how long Hotohori did not know. He only knew these kisses, this form in his arms, and this moment in time. He was absorbed into this person in his arms, he was one and at peace, with himself and with the world around him.

"Shit that hurt!" Tasuki swore nearby, making Hotohori break off the kiss.

He was breathing hard, as was the figure in his arms. He leaned his forehead against theirs and didn't move for a moment, memorizing the feel and scent of them. He kissed the top of their head then kissed his way down to lips again. He pressed a soft, lingering kiss against theirs then broke off when they were both tempted to deepen it again.

"I've got the fire if any of you want to help me light these candles." Chichiri announced his presence.

The form suddenly stiffened and stepped away from Hotohori, though both were reluctant to relinquish their hold. Hotohori suddenly felt cold without the warmth against him but he didn't try to pull the figure back into his arms. He could just make out the outline of the small figure but not any details. He knew it wasn't Miaka, he heard her talking to Tomahome. He was about to question the figure before him but an arm shot out of no where and jerked him back around the pillar into the faint candlelight. The sudden change of environment made Hotohori cringe when the light hit his eyes, making him want to retreat back into the other world, the world that was full of peace and warmth, fervent kisses and soft caresses...

"Here you are," Tasuki patted him firmly on the shoulder, "I thought you wandered off the balcony with that mask on."

Hotohori chuckled and shook his head, "No, I just wanted to see the storm."

Tasuki took in the emperor's slightly disheveled appearance and swollen lips and grinned, "Enjoy yourself?"

"Yes," Hotohori glanced over his shoulder to the waving drapes and hid a soft smile, "I enjoyed myself immensely."

"Immensely what?" Miaka questioned when she appeared at Tasuki's side, followed quickly by Tomahome and Chiriko.

Hotohori smiled a mysterious smile and shrugged at his friends, "Enjoyed myself today, thank you Miaka. But I'm afraid I must get back to my advisers."

"Before they die of a heart attack from excessive worry and stress?" Mitsukake joked, giving Hotohori a brotherly pat.

Hotohori nodded as he tied his hair back up with a different string, the first had probably dropped, and slowly began to move towards the door. As he walked, he glanced at all his friends then stopped. Nuriko was not among them. Hotohori turned on his heel and searched every visible corner of the room, hoping he would spot a flash of violet hair. As he searched, his face flushed with both embarrassment and shame. If that figure had been Nuriko…

"What are you looking for, Hotohori-sama?" Nuriko's husky voice close to his ear nearly made Hotohori jump out of his skin.

Hotohori whirled to face the small man, taking in his appearance as he did so. Nuriko looked like he always did, small and slightly feminine, creamy skin and violet hair, bright eyes filled with humor, and lips curved up in a smile. Hotohori frowned as he looked at Nuriko's lips, suddenly transfixed by the sight of them.

"Hotohori-sama?" Nuriko's voice brought Hotohori out of his thoughts, "Are you alright?"

Hotohori stood straight and nodded, "Yes, just a little tired is all. I will see you later, Nuriko. Goodbye all." Hotohori smiled over his shoulder as he quickly walked past Nuriko and out the door. For a moment there, he had been tempted to pull Nuriko in his arms and kiss him, just to see if it had been him. Hotohori shook his head as he hurried down the hallway, this would do no good.

Nuriko smiled softly as he walked further into the room, heading towards his friends. For a moment there, he thought Hotohori had guessed his secret, but then he had shaken his head and left abruptly. Nuriko sighed and reached inside his pocket to touch the leather string. He was content with life now; even if Hotohori never loved him back the way he loved him, he was content. He had kissed Hotohori and felt him kiss him back just as earnestly. He had been intimate with his love, even though it had been brief, and he had tasted such exquisite love that he couldn't help but smile with pleasure.

"Why are you smiling like that, Nuriko?" Tomahome's question made Tasuki stare in curiosity at his cross-dressing friend.

Tasuki swallowed past a sudden urge to laugh when he saw the same swollen lips as Hotohori had, and a very satisfied and content gleam in Nuriko's eyes. Tasuki chuckled to himself but said nothing, it was not his place to say anything, and for once, he was going to respect that. He tilted his head in thought, since when had HE begun to respect others? Tasuki snorted and looked back to the flame before him with a faint smile spread across his lips. He supposed ever since he had seen the happiness in Nuriko's eyes after he kissed Hotohori.

"No reason," Nuriko replied, "I'm just very happy." He caressed the string again and smiled once more, Tasuki was grinning as well, both knowing and yet not knowing.

I'm writing a three-part storyline involving Hotohori and Nuriko and I'll publish the sequel sometime soon but until then...hope you enjoyed!