Fushigi Yuugi

Life As It Is

" sigh I am so-o bored! Isn't there anything to do around here? I mean, we are in a palace, for pete's sake."

"Well Tasuki, if you're so-o bored, why don't you go for a walk, you know? That way you can get a breath of fresh air and you might find something that interest you, you know?"

"That's my problem, Chichiri! I have walked around this empire so many times, I know every single person by name and their pets'! I need some adventure! Some excitement! Ever since Tamahome and…Miaka left, this place has been a dump! Even ask the emperor!"

"Well, I guess I'm out of ideas. You might have to create your own adventure, you know? Try making some friends in town and ask if any are willing to go on a journey with you, you know? Maybe you could even go back to Mt. Reikaku, you know?"

"Are you saying that you don't want me around anymore, monk?"

"No no. I'm just saying that without your sparring partner, it would benefit you to find a new one, you know?"

"Ugh…fine! But not Nuriko! That guy is the worst to train with! He doesn't even need to try to kick my ass because he can break my arm like a twig! We actually were sparring partners for two days, before Mitsukake got mad at me for losing and needing his healing powers every hour on the hour. But there is no one else up to my standards."

"What about the emperor, you know?"

"I don't fence or sword-fight! I am a martial artist! And so was Tamahome. Not a single person in the district is as skilled as me now."

"Not even Mitsukake?"

"The guy heals people, not beat them to a pulp! Oh, this isn't helping! Sorry Chichiri, but I gotta go for a walk or I might just have to go find Nuriko and sneak attack him just to have some fun! Later!""

"Bu-bye!"

Tasuki, one of the Suzaku Seven…er, Six, walked away from his optimistic friend with a dark cloud looming over his head. It was true what he said. Ever since 'homie' left after Miaka, he had nothing to do. Everyone else seemed to get along fine but him! Example:

Hotohori: went back to ruling his empire.

Nuriko: stayed in the palace to tend to 'his majesty's' every beck and call.

Mitsukake: became the most famous physician in all of Konan.

Chiriko: took that exam of his and was now in government business, but still remained in the palace walls.

Chichiri: he assisted people everyday by roaming through the city and stopping or fixing any trouble he saw. He also watched children for extra cash, who all loved his shape-shifting and the funny way he talked.

But (Genro) Tasuki had nothing! He was a mountain wolf, he didn't belong in any city, let alone the one he was currently in. He was leader of his pack back home, yet gave all that up to join the Priestess of Suzaku on her quest to summon the great phoenix that represented the land. He gave up his title to his best friend Kouji and there was no way he was getting it back. And he would never do that to such a friend. So, he decided to stay out of Kouji's way and not threaten his leadership by staying in the palace. Plus, he got all the free food he could stomach!

It sounded like a good idea in theory, but he realized a little too late how wrong he was. He was now sort of a palace guard, nothing special. After the war between Konan and Kotou ceased, nothing ever attacked. So, really, there was nothing to defend. Plus, Miaka only asked that Konan stayed peaceful and safe, and she got her wish. But if the job of guarding was taken away, many men would be out of a job. The emperor, being so kind-hearted, decided to keep their position for and minor danger that would occur. And shockingly, there was none! Sounds exciting, eh?

As the trend setting comedian strolled through the city, he could not help but feel like he was in the wrong place. He glanced around at all the happy people, smiling and laughing, and he felt sick just looking at it. How could they enjoy leading such an uneventful life? It was driving him mad! There was nothing to do except draw with a stick in the dirt. Or maybe eat. But how would he be able to defend himself if he ate so much, he was the same width as the empire? Nothing seemed to interest him anymore.

Life was passing him by. He was now an adult, old enough to live on his own and have his own business, but his main skill was martial arts! He wasn't a chef or a tailor. He fought his way through life and that was how he knew and liked it. Changing everything now would be pointless or just erase everything he used to know. And he didn't want to give any of that up. Oh, if only there was some action in this empire! Something, anything, who had the guts to fight him. But by now, everyone knew him and what he was capable of. Every single person! Not one living being did not recognize hi--

That was when an idea hit the red-head in the face. Maybe everyone, but not everything.

He once remembered Miaka telling him about a forest she had once stumbled into. He wasn't sure if she said she encountered a lion, tiger or bear (oh my!), but any one of the three would be a fun fight. A smirk appeared on his face as a glint in his eyes began to shine like the stars. It may not be the greatest challenge, but it was better than nothing. And at least these things posed as a threat and were willing to fight to the death if necessary. It might be disturbing their peace, but if they wanted, they could have his. Because he rather be bloody and beaten then safe and bored.

The owner of the flame-fan found his way into the forest outside the gates of Konan and into the 'dangerous forest'. He just needed to get away. He abandoned his old home, he disliked his new home. What was he to do? With as fast as he feet could carry him, he had ran through the city toward the forest. At least the name sounded interesting enough. It apparently had 'danger'. And he could go for some risk taking, life threatening paroles. And he felt adrenaline pump from his heart into every part of his body. It enticed him.

Upon arrival, he met 'Stripy', as he called him, the tiger. It didn't frighten or challenge him, but it was an okay start to a new fun day. Something he had totally forgotten about. Next came a 'Honey Buns', the bear and 'Koo-koo' the owl. His appearance in the woods sent a buzz by the animals. "What? Is this illegal?" he teased as a group of squirrels started barring their teeth to him. He played 'hop-scotch' around them for a while, laughing the whole time. This was actually fun for him. He wasn't killing or taking lives, but it was still fun. And no human being was even there with him. He wasn't sure if that was something to be proud of, but oh well. That meant more fun for him.

Rows and rows of animals, each fiercer than before, attacked him as he went deeper into the forest. He only thought, 'If the deeper I go, the strong they fight, I can't wait to see what's in the center of it all.' So, he kept going. No matter what the animals did, he just carried on. He was so shocked to see so much excitement happen just by stepping into these woods. Maybe he found his new playground.

Suddenly, once a chipmunk had bitten his ankle, he heard humming. And a flute. "You guys have your own personal rodent band? That sings 'human'? Maybe I should move out here." As if they understood, and weren't happy about it, every single living being, even trees and leaves in the wind, began to cry out in protest. "Man, sorry. Guess I won't. What a nice welcome committee. You know, you don't own the land! The—WOAH!" Before he could even begin his sentence, he was caught in a foot trap and was stuck in a tree. "Ow ow ow ow ow! That's where the mini-monkey bit me! You rude bunch o' midgets. AHHHH!" A bear began to swing at him with a sharpened claw while standing on its back legs and leaning against the tree.

"OKAY OKAY! I'M SORRY! I JUST WANTED TO HAVE SOME FUN! I PROMISE I'LL LEAVE IF YOU LEAVE ME ALO-ONE!"

"Good answer." A voice echoed through the trees.

"Hu—UMPH!" Tasuki's rope was cut and he landed head first on 'Honey Buns'. "AHHHHH!" he screamed as he raced back up into the tree. He held onto the main branch like a child holding on to a toy they want but can't have. He shakily pulled out his trusty flame-entrusted fan and started swatting back at the angered bear.

"L-look, pal!" he fought back, "I don't know w-who your leader is, but maybe you should consult them before whacking off a guy! I don't think any gang hired a bear!"

A light laughter filled the area and drowned out all other sounds. The animals seemed to calm down at the gentleness in the voice they heard, while Tasuki just held the tree even closer. Suddenly, a calm strong breeze blew from all directions and began to gather some leaves from the surrounding trees. The small amount of leaves gathered began to swarm in the middle of the clearing 'everyone' was gathered in.

"Don't worry," the voice from before managed to reassure while laughter was still evident in their voice. The leaves swirled slightly faster, then froze in mid air and floated calmly to the ground. Tasuki couldn't believe eyes, the sight of the young woman emerging from the tornado was too complicated to understand, "You will not be murdered. My little friend here was just teasing you."

The sight of the young female's tongue allowed Tasuki to regain control of his body and defend himself, "Little? That thing was an inch away from hittin' me and I'm all the way up here!"

"Well can you blame him? You are trespassing."

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"I suggest you leave my forest immediately. Otherwise, I might offer you to Tsumeato here."

The bear roared with notification. Then he proceeded to stand beside the girl, assuming she was his master. But Tasuki could still not get over the sight of her.

She had long sandy brown hair tied back with a mint green bow in a braid that reached the top of her hips. Her bangs, which were parted to the side, rested over her shiny hazel eyes. Her outfit was a one piece battle costume. It was a plain green fabric that darkened to an evergreen shade in every fold of her outfit. Her sleeves were obviously rolled up so her tattoo was visible; a raindrop-shape life with a semi-circle line around it and her arm. A combat belt hung slanted over her hips, complete with ninja stars and throwing needles. Her pant legs were rolled up too, to make shorts, to make it easier to run he Tasuki supposed. And her shoes were padded brown boots that slid on like another layer of skin. She also had some sort of pocket gear attached to her upper left thigh. If he were into girls, she might intrigue him.

"O-okay, alright, take it easy," Tasuki uttered shakily as he climbed down from the tree, "Can you just tell me why these animals are so defensive about this land? I mean, I now it's there home, but—"

"That should be reason enough!" the girl shouted back, scaring poor Tasuki out of his skin, "If you think tormenting innocent creatures, even if they are 'midgets' as you say, then you have no life or business in my forest. Get out!" She now stood in a fighting position that signaled the creatures in the clearing to get on their guard.

"Whoa whoa there!" Tasuki held up his hands in defense, "Y'all need to relax! I only happened to have strolled in her because…of a friend! She told me a…big scary animal attacked her and I only came here to slay the beast who hurt her," the girl readied a ninja star, "but I can see it was a mix up. Bu-bye!"

"HOLD IT!" the combat ready woman called loudly, halting Tasuki, "I know you are lying. I monitor this forest and anything that happens is either seen by or reported to me. Nothing like that has happened in a long while. You are the first disturbance I have had to endure since that Priestess made her wish."

" gasp You know of Miaka?"

"Who?"

"The Priestess of Suzaku?"

"Only through the animals," At this, the 'mini-monkey' ran up her leg and onto her shoulder while munching on a nut, "They tell me any news I have not heard of yet, to keep informed if anyone is considering moving through these woods. I cannot allow them to…No! Too much has been said. I must leave you now to tend to a threatening matter. If you'll excuse me…"

"Wait!" Tasuki responded instantly, "Threatening? Can I help?"

"Do you know how to treat a broken leg and a smashed nose? With another who has a bruised tailbone and two broken hands?"

"Yeah! See, I get into lots of fights, and---"

"Never mind that!" she interrupted, "I will only allow you to come if you can promise me no one other than yourself will know of the place I am about to bring you to. Understand?"

"Yes, Ma'am!"

"Call me Koa. And you are?"

"Genro, but more familiarly known as Tasuki, of---"

"The Suzaku Seven, which as recently been terminated to Six. So Tasuki, in order for me to accept your help," she approached him, a throwing needle drawn. He backed away, out of fear, but ended up against his good old friend, 'Tree'. She then cut her wrist with the needle, letting the blood flow free.

"What are you doi--…"

"You must prove it to me. Your loyalty." She grabbed his hand in less than a second and traced the same tip of the needle deep into his wrist. He hissed from the pressure, but gasped a moment later when he felt her bloody wrist against his. He looked down at her confused, but was awe struck by the look on her face.

"Swear on the blood that spills from your wrist unto mine that you won't tell a soul anything. Only then can I trust a stranger such as you." Her eyes were filled with such determination, he knew he could never match such ferocity. But something weird was happening. As his blood enter her and hers came in to him, he felt something weird swell through his soul. It was not an emotion, but some sort of wondrous feeling he had never experienced before. Something that calmed his frightened heart and smoothed out his soul. For a moment, he discarded life.

"Answer me!" Koa called him from his lost mind. He snapped back to reality and nodded drowsily. "No, say it! Tell me you will never tell!" "I-I pr-promise!" he answered, still in a daze. She let go of their wrist and licked over his injury, which shocked completely, then over hers. Her saliva sealed their injuries and the blood on their skin just hardened or drifted away. She pulled out a cloth from her pocket gear on her thigh and cleaned up as much of the mess as she possibly could. Then she used her teeth to rip the fabric in half to wrap around the slice on their skin.

Once her task was completed, she let go of his arm, which dropped to his side limply, and smirked at him. He tilted his head in a curious fashion. She answered his gaze with a simple statement,

"Hope you can tree-hop." And she was off. Tasuki started up his friend, 'Tree', and followed her.

"So," he called to the woman he guided him, "where are we headed exactly?"

"To my village," she answered easier than before, "A few of my friends were injured on their last mission and need medical attention."

"Mission?" Tasuki's ears perked up at that.

"Yes. See, we---huh?" Koa sweat dropped when she turned her head to see Tasuki's rubbing his hands together like a fly with a childish grin on his face, "…Uh, Tasuki?"

"Huh? Oh yeah. I'm listening. You guys must have an awesome life style, right?"

"If you think being outcasts and runaways from the emperor of all four nations thrilling."

"Huh?"

"There. We've reached our destination." Koa declared as she placed a hand against the tree she stopped in.

Tasuki followed her actions and her eyes, only to be shocked and moved by his findings.