This second musing in the mind of Nuriko came about after just a simple thought that I had to write down. So I had to add onto the first fanfiction I had written in five years, posted last summer.

Disclaimer: Penpaninu does not claim to own Fushigi Yuugi nor the character of Nuriko, Miaka or mentions of other FY people. They belong to Watase Yu and not to me.

"Duty Fulfilled" chapter two

Memories of a Celestial Shade

They thought I was gay. Everybody did. My slender arms and hands, the delicate way I carried myself like a courtesan, the way I even talked and grew my hair past my shoulders. It's funny how the world will label you something you just wind up not being.

When I noticed HER, I felt all of my masculinity, wrapped in silk and perfume, come back to existence. I wanted her, I wanted to protect her like a soldier protected a woman, and I wanted to keep her safe in my arms. How could one bubbly happy and beautiful woman turn me so? I was so certain I must be gay, that I would be happy in the arms of a much stronger man. Maybe I can still be this way.

But when I am near her, I can't be anything but a man. She inspires me to be so. After I started dressing like my sex proclaimed, and I became her friend, I became more of myself, I was certain. Her eyes, they were so sad when I cut my braid off. In essence one could say I cut off an avatar of my manhood, but I didn't see it that way. I was blessed with a woman's heart, so I knew I could still be strong without a warrior's braid.

I remember well the last night I had been alive, drinking in the inn's tavern with Tamahome. The poor kid who I called my younger brother in jest was angsting as usual over his rocky relationship with our Suzaku no Miko. Poor Miaka could only wallow in the mistakes he committed unconsciously while trying to be true to her and our celestial god. So I took my so-called celestial brother in arms to have a drink and talk some confidence and sense into him.

How Tamahome had choked on the special concoction I had made up. Apparently a 'Nuriko special' didn't agree with him, for Tamahome had not the constitution to handle the strong drink as I did. He could strike the strong general Nakago a blow to the face, but he could not handle heavy alcohol. I found this amusing, but talk to my confused celestial brother I did.

I confessed casually my feelings toward Miaka and Tamahome took it well. I said I would not steal her, and I never did, however made known my love for her I did. I was content that Tamahome knew the truth, and that when I departed from him and Miaka the next morning, I knew that she herself knew. For she looked extra worried that I stay safe until we all joined up at the mountain's top.

That sad look in her eyes and her bright smile was in my mind as I fought the wild Seiryu seishi Ashitare. Even as he had his claws in me, shredding my chest open, I thought of Miaka, and her shy smile. And I wanted to be the man in her life, oh how I wanted her in those last moments in my life.

The other woman I longed for greeted me as I died from my wounds. My sister, Kourin, how long it had been. I had been a young man for my sister's protection, and once again I was a man for a woman I loved.

Yuki Miaka, I long to watch over you still. But Suzaku says it's almost time to be reborn. I falter, my shade wandering over Suzaku's broad shoulder, worried and fearful of what was to come. Hotohori drifted close and touched my shoulder with an ethereal hand. And I knew he would be sent close to me, so I would not be alone. I smile and close my eyes, entering a woman's womb. I am tiny and hunched over my knees, surrounded by my mother's nurturing waters. I feel the memories of my last life and the others before drift away softly, and I ready for my new life with an open mind.

It would be when I met up with the others who shared a common quest that my old memories would trigger and I would remember. Remember who? I'm not quite sure now… For now, I am warm and protected within my new mother. The memories fade, and I concentrate on my food intake through the cord in my middle. I had a new beginning.

End for now

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Most sincerely yours penpaninu

4/16/06