I do not Fushigi Yugi or any of the connected characters. Those belong to Yu Watase and not me. The only character I won is the OC that I made. Everything else is not mine so don't even try to get me sued for it. You won't get a penny out of me. I doubt you'd even make it to court.

Fushugi Yugi: Dansei Tsure

By Ten-Faced Paladin

Chapter 11: Catching Up

The mood in Hotohori's throne room was grim. The future was looking bleak for the people of Hong-Nan. Even the weather outside seemed somewhat cloudy as the mood of depression filled the room. In front of Hotohori were his advisors. Each of them had their own gim expression which mirrored their king. Each one of them knew what the future was going to bring and they did not like it. Finally, Hotohori sighed deeply before speaking to his advisors.

"What were they thinking?" he asked. "The situation should never have become this grave."

"Your Majesty," one of the advisors suddenly spoke. "I am surprised that the peace has lasted this long. During these years, Hong-Nan has almost been too quiet."

"I know," Hotohori nodded before bringing a hand to his face. "However..."

Before he could finish his sentance, a bright flash ofred light erupted from above. Before he could turn to see what it was, a large weight came crashing down on him. Despite his appearance, Hotohori was a rather strong young man. Despite this, the surprise of this sudden impact caused him to crumple underneath it.

"Your Majesty!!" the advisors and guards cried in shock.

"Oops," a female voice mumbled from above Hotohori.

The sound of the voice suddenly caused Hotohri to snap to attention. He craned his neck slightly to see just who had landed on him and he gasped in surprise. The face he was looking at was none other than the Priestess of Suzaku Miaka! She was slightly red from the embarassing entrance but she was still smiling.

"Ah ha ha ha," she laughed nervously. "Sorry, Hotohori."

Miaka got off the young emperor feeling a great sense of relief at being back in Hong-Nan. She had made it home without any kind of trouble, but she had discovered that she had only been gone for a couple of hours. Her mother and Keisuke were worried sick about her. Despite the stern talking to she had recieved, Miaka had recovered from her illness very quickly. She had even gone to school the next day. Desite trying to get back to her own life, she couldn't get her mind off the adventures she had been through while inside the book. She especially couldn't get her mind away from Tamahome. The final point was driven home when she saw that Yui and Matthew were gone. Mrs. Hongo had even come to her demanding to know where Yui had vanished. Miaka already knew. She was in The Universe of the Four Gods. With her destination set, Miaka had packed and dashed to the library with her brother Keisuke in tow. She knew he could keep the book safe while she was in it.

"It's the Priestess of Suzaku!" cried one of the guards, snapping Miaka back to reality. "She's back!"

"Uh," Miaka blinked, slightly nervous at the attention. "Miaka Yuki reporting for duty."

She turned back to talk to Hotohori, but soon found herself swwept up in his arms. She couldn't help but blush at the intimacy of the action. She could even hear the young emperor's heart beating in his chest since she was so close to him.

"How I've missed you Miaka," Hotohori whispered in a mix ofrelief and happiness.

'Hotohori,' Miaka gasped in her thoughts.'He really missed me this much?'

Hotohori held her for a moment longer before releasing her. Miaka likewise took a moment to catch her breath. When she was properly free from Hotohori's embrace, she decided to see just what was going on.

"I missed you too Hotohori," Miaka smiled brightly.

"Yes," Hotohori nodded. "It has been some time hasn't it? The three months we had to endure without you were just not the same as when you were here."

"What?!" Miaka gasped. "Three months have passed already?!" She had only been gone for a day!

"Yes," Hotohori nodded. "Could you please come with me? There are some things we need to discuss."

Grabbing her overstuffed backpack, Miaka quickly followed the young emperor to the halls. She didn't like the grim look that was on his face. She could tell that something really bad had happened. Her heart started to hurt, fearing that something had happened to Yui, Tamahome, or Matthew.

"Miaka," Hotohori finally spoke. "There has been some trouble in the time that you have been gone. I must ask you a favor as the Priestess of Suzaku."

"What is it?" Miaka asked. "I'll do anything to help!"

"You must find the other Constellations of Suzaku as quickly as possible!" Hotohori spoke gravely.

"Huh?" Miaka blinked. "Why the hurry? What's wrong?"

"Relations with our neighboring country of Qu-Dong have deteriorated. Every year we send ambassadors with peace treaties but something went wrong," Hotohori explained.

"What happened?" asked Miaka.

"Our ambassadors were attacked!" Hotohori sighed. "They were killed by men in armor similar to Qu-Dong soldiers. We tried to tell the ministers but they refused to listen and even went so far as to accuse us of not even sending the treaties in the first place. They were outraged by all this and declared war on us. They have sought our lands since antiquity!"

"W-war?!" Miaka cried in shock. A terribe thought then came to her mind. 'Yui! If there's war then Yui might get caught in the middle!'

Looking into Hotohori's eyes urgently, she grasped him by the arms, "Hotohori! Did you see Yui?! She's a girl who's dressed like me except she has short hair!"

"Yui?" Hotohori blinked. "Yes. She is here. She hasn't left the side of the lone survivor of the ambassadors. He was the one who saved her and brought her back."

"Really?" Miaka gasped in delight. "Where is she?"

"Follow me," Hotohori smiled slightly. It was least a small blessing the help the woman he was falling for.

The two walked down the halls of the palace until they reached the guest wing where important guests slept. Hotohori remained silrnt and stepped carefully. He stopped in front of one of the closed doors and tapped on it slightly.

"I don't want to talk to anyone," a familiar female voice came from inside the room. Miaka gasped as she recognised it. It was Yui!

"It's Hotohori," the young emperor spoke. "There's someone out here who's very eager to see you again."

There was a silence for a moment before footsteps could be heard coming closer to the door. The door then slid open to reveal none other than Miaka's missing friend Yui. She looked a little ruffled and was wearing her unifrom. Her face had sadness pouring out of her eyes and dried tear streaks running down her face. The second her eyes landed on Miaka, she gasped in surprise.

"Miaka?" she asked, not quite believing her eyes.

"Yui!" Miaka smiled brightly before she wrapped her best friend in a hug. "Oh Yui! I was so worried about you! When I found out you were missing I came straight here!"

"But..but I was sucked in three months ago," Yui commented confusedly as she held Miaka.

"Time goes faster back home," Miaka explained quickly as she stepped back. "I'm so glad you're safe! Now we just need to find Matthew and we can find the other Celestial Warriors!"

At the mention of the foreign boy's name, Miaka's two friends quickly took on dark looks. Hotohori's expresion had turned grim again while Yui started tearing up and sniffling. It looked as if she was going to break out in tears at any minute. Miaka was a little confused by their reactions.

"Yui? Hotohori?" she asked. "What's wrong? What happened to Matthew?"

"It's all my fault!" Yui sobbed loudly before putting her face in her hands.

"Miaka," Hotohori sighed. "Matthew was the only survivor of the ambassadors. He had come back with Yui and he was..."

"Hey," A voice groaned from inside the room. "Can't a guy get a little shuteye around here?"

Miaka turned to see who had spoken and stepped into the room past Yui. What she saw made her gasp. Matthew was leaning back on a bed with only his pants on. His chest was wrapped in tight bandages. His right shoulder was likewise wrapped in bandages. He even had some wrapping over his left eye, which cut his vision in half. Judging from his voice he had been hurt pretty bad. His looks only proved that fact. Other than that, his hair had gotten a little longer and his body looked like it was developing some nice muscle in the right places.

"Matthew!" Miaka cried. "What happened to you?!"

Matthew shrugged before he saw Yui continuing to cry into her hands. Heaving a sigh, he began to speak again, "Yui, how many times do I have to say that this wasn't your fault? I knew the risks when I took that guy on. As long as you were safe I don't care."

"But Matthew!" Yui sobbed as she kneeled next to his bed. "The doctor said you could have died if you didn't get help when you did."

"What?!" Miaka shouted in shock. "Matthew, what did you do?!"

"I guess you do deserve an explanation, don't you?" Matthew grinned. "Okay then. Believe it or not, this all happened about a week or so after we sent you home."

------Flashback-------------------

Hong-Nan had been on edge for the last few days. Hotohori and his advisors had been busy drawing up the newest peace treaties that they would send to Qu-Dong so that the uneasy peace that they held could continue for another year. It hadn't been easy for the young emperor. He found that after Miaka left he felt a sudden emptiness open inside of him. It was an emptiness that Tamahome and Nuriko (to a certain extent) could feel. Nuriko had been continuing his ways of cross-dressing to keep occupied while Tamahome had started training Matthew in martial arts (for a price) so he could concentrate on something besides Miaka.

"The treaties are finished," Hotohori spoke to his court while handing the scrolls which held the treaties to a group of men. "It will be up to you to ensure that they get to Qu-Dong and secure another year of peace for our contries."

"It will be done your Majesty," the ambassadors bowed as they took the scrolls.

"Also," Hotohori continued. "I would like for you take the usual contingent of guards with you. We cannot risk failing this mission."

"Your Majesty," one of the ambassadors spoke. "I think my fellow ambassadors can agree with me when we say that we would feel much safer if one of the three Celestial Warriors besides yourself would come with us."

"Which one?" Hotahori asked, slightly confused. There were only two warriors besides himself: Tamahome and Nuriko.

"It does not matter to us," the ambassador replied. "Be it Tamahome, Nuriko, or Matthew. We would feel safer if one of them would accompany us."

Hotohori looked over to where his three friends were sitting. Their faces were all he needed to know how they felt about this. Nuriko wasn't looking very pleased at the thought of travelling after their little trek to see Tai Yi-Jun. Tamahome's eyes were clouded, showing that he wasn't paying attention. His mind was on Miaka again. Matthew was the only one who seemed to be paying attention. He was also showing some resignation on his face. He was expecting to be the one chosen for this job. Hotohori knew that he couldn't let the Celestial Warriors go far from Hong-Nan or else they could take a bigger risk of losing them. In the end, Hotohori knew his hand was forced.

"Very well," Hotohori nodded. "Matthew will accompany you to Qu-Dong."

"Thank-you your Majesty," the ambassador nodded.

A short while later, Matthew was in new travelling clothes while on horseback with the ambassadors on their way to Qu-Dong. He was in a pair of green pants with a red shirt. A yellow sash was on his waist. He was carrying his backpack on the side of his horse. No point in travelling with unnecessary weight on his back. The guards were all as stiff as bricks while the ambassadors remained calm and were even chatting to each other. Matthew just kept to hmself. He wasn't a real fighter yet (but Tamahome said that he was going at a pretty good pace) or a politician. He was just a guy who was mistaken for a Celestial Wrrior.

"Excuse me Lord Matthew," one of the younger politicians spoke. He was a man who looked like he was in his early twenties.

"Yes?" Matthew asked, turning to him asto pay his full attention.

"Um," the man began, unsure of what to say. "I was just wondering. What constellation are you? I mean, some of us feel that it's rude to call you by name rather than your title."

"My constellation?" Matthew blinked. He wondered if he should tell the truth at the moment but decided against it. The ambassadors and soldiers seem to have some high morale when a Celestial Warrior was with them. He then smiled slightly. "Well, that's a secret for now. I prefer to be called by my birthname."

"I see," the ambassador smiled. "So be it. We'll find out eventually though."

"Of that I have no doubt," Matthew grinned in response.

Matthew and the ambassador chatted on and off even after they had crossed the Hong-Nan/Qu-Dong border. The scenery hadn't changed that much but everyone could just tell that they were in the eastern country. The climate was a little cooler and you could just feel it in the air. It felt completely different from Hong-Nan. The group of ambassadors and soldiers decided to travel a little more before they spied an upcoming village. It seemed a little dingy but it was better than nothing. It was a neutral place since the soldiers of Qu-Dong didn't really travel through often and the people didn't care if people came from Hong-Nan. It had a decent inn so no one could really complain.

After the others had checked in, Matthew left to try and find a quiet place to train. He had only been able to train a little since they had gotten back to the palace, but his body was still shaping up. Tamahome had been able to show him a couple of moves so things had progressed nicely in Matthew's opinion. Now all he had to do was get in shape and perfect the moves.

"Can't a guy get a little privacy around here?" Matthew groaned as he saw some shifty characters hanging out in an alley. He didn't like the look they had in their eyes. It seemed that they were keeping an eye out for something. That, or being lookouts in general.

"MIAKA! MATTHEW!" a female voice shrieked in terror and desperation. "SOMEONE HELP ME!"

"Yui?!" Matthew gasped in shock. He started to turn to the source of the voice. "YUI!!"

Matthew ran in the direction he was sure that he had heard Yui in, but it was down the alley that the two goon swere keeping watch in. When he tried to step closer, the two men stepped in front of him. Both of them tried to look intimidating.

"Sorry kid," the first one smirked. "Private get together is down here. You need an invite."

"But-," Matthe tried to argue. He was hoping that he didn't have to result to his fists. He wanted to save them for whoever made Yui scream.

"Scram kid," the other goon growled.

"HELP ME!!!" Yui's voice screamed again

That did it for Matthew. A growl echoed out of his throat as his eyes turned gold. Both of the goons saw the sudden change and couldn't help but flinch at the sight. How did the kid do that?

"GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Matthew roared before he planted a punch in the first goon's face. The second goon was caught by surprise by the sudden outburst and couldn't react in time before Matthew lodged a kick into his temple and put him to the ground. With both goons either out cold or in too much pain to do much, Matthew dashed off down the alley.

It hadn't taken him long to get to the source of the screams. He was right about it being Yui as well. There were two more thugs who had caught her and were holding her down. One was holding her arms while the other was sitting on her legs and was in the process of removing her shirt. Both thugs had frozen at being caught while Yui's teary eyes were gazing at Matthew with hope mixed in with fear. Matthew just felt his own anger building at seeing what was happening to one of his only friends. As the rage built, his breath could be seen leaving his mouth despite the evening being warm. Matthew had only remained still for a moment before growling again.

"GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HER!" Matthew bellowed as he dashed towards Yui and the thugs.

Matthew's speed seemed to have increased slightly since the thugs could barely move before Matthew had caught up with them. The one sitting on Yui had a kick planted on his face. The force of which had sent him to the dirt with a bloody face. He didn't feel any pain since he had been knocked out on impact. The second goon had been shocked by the brutality before he decided to make a smart decision and ran off screaming. Matthew heaved a few steaming breaths before his eyes returned to their normal shade. He turned back to see Yui, who was sitting upright. Her shirt was wide open with her bra showing but the foreign boy didn't care about that at the moment.

"Yui?" he asked as he kneeled down to look at her. "Yui, it's me. Matthew. Did those guys hurt you?"

"Matthew?" Yui blinked. She was still for a moment before she started to cry. She then glomped onto the foreign boy with all her might. "MATTHEW!"

Matthew just wrapped his arms around his friend and held her while she shed her tears. It was understandable since she had almost been raped. Anyone would be traumatised by such an experience.

-----End Flashback---------

"Oh my gosh," Miaka gasped as she held her hands to her mouth. Yui had remained silent the whole time while shivering. Matthew had genty taken her hand to support her through the bad memory. Hotohori had respectfully kept his silence while Matthew and Yui had told their story.

"Yeah," Matthew nodded. "Those thugs were lucky I wasn't armed. Otherwise I would have killed them for what they tried to do."

"But that doesn't explain why you're a mummy right now," Miaka spoke up.

"I'm getting to that," Matthew sighed. "I'm not exactly eager to share how I got my ass royally kicked.

------Flashback--------------

Matthew brought Yui out of the alley as he continued to support her. She was walking slowy and she still had tear streaks running down her face. She was also shivering very fiercely.

"Yui," Matthew spoke, unsure of how to begin. "How long have you been here?"

"I...I just got here," Yui sniffed. "The last thing I remember is being in the library. I was trying to bring Miaka back. I just wanted to bring you both back home."

"Well, it worked," Matthew replied gently. The only thing that confused him was the fact that Miaka had been sent home close to a week ago. "Miaka got back home safely."

"But why didn't you come home?" Yui asked while gazing into Matthew's eyes.

"Simple," Matthew sighed. "I didn't fufill either of the requirements needed to come home. I didn't have anything on me that was the same back home. I didn't have anyone with strong feelings concerning me either."

"That's not true," Yui mumbled while leaning on Matthew. "Our watches. The one you gave me for my birthday. I may not have known you as long as I do Miaka, but you're still a very good friend. My feelings would have been enough to bring you home."

"You kept that thing?" Matthew blinked. "Wow. With all the other presents those other boys in class got you I thought you would have forgotten about it."

"No," Yui denied, shaking her head. "I wear it everyday. I only take it off when I take a bath."

Matthew smiled but still couldn't help but blush slightly at the confession, "Heh. I don't take mine off either."

"I know," Yui smiled. "When you got hurt protecting Miaka with Tamahome, blood was coming off of it. Just like it did with my skirt."

"Really?" Matthew blinked. "I guess that's how you knew what to use to bring Miaka back home."

Yui nodded before the two of them fell back into silence. Matthew wasn't sure what else to say while Yui didn't have much else to say at the moment. She was beginning to fell exhausted after her terrible experience. Matthew just continued to help her stand as they continued back towards the inn.

"Hey, Yui," Matthew spoke up. "I'm here with some men from Hong-Nan. We're going to give some peace treaties to the emperor of Qu-Dong so you can come with us and once we're done we can bring back to the palace and wait for Miaka there. Then we can collect the other members of the Suzaku Seven and find a way home. How does that sound?"

Yui was quiet for a moment before she started talking again, "Okay. Just, don't leave me alone."

"Promise," Matthew snickered. "You'll like it in Hong-Nan. Hotohori and Tamahome are pretty cool guys. They're nuts over Miaka so you won't have to worry about some other obnoxious guy trying to bug you for a date like you do back home. Nuriko plays for the other team so you won't have to worry about him either. Hell, he's a drag queen to boot!"

"What about you?" Yui asked, a slight smile on her face. "Are you going to make a move on me?"

"Urk!" Matthew blanched. His face turned into a grand impression of a tomato. "Well, uh, I...Um."

Yui smiled a little as she let out a small giggle, "You're funny when you get flustered. Did you know that?"

Matthew sighed and began to grumble inhocerently. If it was one thing that he hated, it was looking stupid in front of someone that he knew. This was a special case since Yui was one of the few friends that he had in the east. The upside was that the number fo friends had increased to include Hotohori, Tamahome, and Nuriko.

The two youths rounded a corner, expecting to see the inn that the men from Hong-Nan were staying at, but found something else entirely. The entire building was on fire as a few dead bodies that Matthew defitely recognised as the ambassadors from Hong-Nan. Men dressed in armor that had depictions of dragons on them surrounded the building. If what Matthew remembered of the descriptions were right, then these men were soldiers of Qu-Dong!

"What the hell are they doing?" Matthew gaped. Yui's face was immobilised in shock and terror.

"We are cleaning out some trash," A deep voice replied from behind the two.

Matthew's eyes widened as he turned around to face whoever had spoke. Who he saw was not someone who he would consider friendly. He was donned in the uniform of the Qu-Dong soldiers but he was concealing his face with a length of cloth that was wrapped along his torso. Matthew could see blonde hair sticking out of his helmet but his icy blue eyes caught the majority of his attention. The man was also making Matthew feel a deep sense of forboding as he gazed at him.

"Hmmm," The man pondered as his eyes narrowed. "I can tell by your clothes that you come from Hong-Nan. I guess we've missed one. Though it has been a long time since I have seen someoen who is foreign to these lands as much as I am." His eyes then turned to look at Yui, who had flinched under his gaze. "A girl who wears odd clothing. I wonder."

"Wonder what?" asked Matthew despite the fear he was feeling at being in this man's sight.

"Is this girl the Priestess of Seiryu?" the man asked, his tone hinting towards a sense that he was answering a small child's curiosity for amusement.

Matthew's breath caught in his throat. He hadn't considered the ramifications of finding Yui in Qu-Dong. Since she had been found in the eastern country then she might be filling the role of the Priestess of Seiryu. He also knew that if Yui was forced to take on such a role then she would be forced to fight against Miaka and the Suzaku Warriors. Matthew didn't want to even consider what might happen if that came to pass. It might mean death for a lot of people and possibly the friendship that the two girls shared. Matthew knew that he couldn't let this guy get his hands of Yui.

"No, she isn't," Matthew lied. "She appeared in Hong-Nan. I would think that the Priestess of Seiryu would appear in her own country."

The man's eyes narrowed slightly, as if considering his words. He then spoke again, "Heh. Your words may lie but your eyes make it all plain. This girl did appear in our country and is the Priestess fo Seiryu. Take her."

Yui let out a scream as a soldier grabbed her from behind when neiter she nor Matthew were paying attention. The foreign boy immediately turned around to see the soldier handling her roughly as he tried to pull her away. Matthew quickly turned to face the soldier, and for the second time that night his eyes turned a golden color. The soldier was too busy to notice, but the blonde man's eyes widened ever so slightly as he witnessed the color change.

"KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!" Matthew roared before he planted his fist into the soldier's face and put him to the ground. Yui stimbled slightly as she was freed. She looked up to Mattew only to see him breathing slightly heavier. He turned to look at her and she was caught slightly off guard by the shade his eyes had turned.

"Run Yui!" He cried as he turned back to face the blonde man. Despite thee approaching soldiers, the didn't want to get too close after seeing their comrade being put down so easily. "You need to get out of here! Get to Hong-Nan! They'll protect you there!"

Yui had wanted to protest, but seeing they way he was looking at her had silenced those protests. Gulping a little, Yui immediately ran as if her life was in danger, which it very well might have been. The blonde soldier only watched he rgo in passing interest.

"General Nakago?" asked one of the solders, almost nervously.

"Find the girl," the man now known as Nakago ordered. He then turned to look at Matthew. "I will deal with this one myself."

"Yes sir!" the soldiers nodded before giving chase in the direction Yui had went.

"Yui!" Matthew cried as he tried to gice chase, but he was suddenly cut off as Nakago appeared in front of him. Matthew was caught by surprise as he had not been expecting Nakago to be so fast. Of course, he hadn't even seen the punch Nakago had sent until it plowed straight into his stomach.

"Bragh!" Matthew groaned as he stumbled backward. The man hit as hard as a mountain!

"I can't help but feel some surprise that a constellation of Suzaku would travel into our lands," Nakago spoke as he waited for Matthew to recover. "I am also curious as to what powers your golden eyes give you."

"G-golden eyes?" Matthew gasped as he tried to stand up straight.

"Hmm," Nakago seemed to smirk behind his scarf. "So, you don't know about your power yet you can use it at such a level. Such potential."

Nakago unleashed his speed again and vanished. Matthew didn't even get a moment more to recover before he felt a big and painful impact on his spine that sent him crashing down to the dirt again.Nakago had moved behind him before planting another mighty punch into him.

"It shall be my pleasure to snuff that potential out," Nakago finished coldly.

Matthew now realised that he was now up the river without a paddle. Probably without a boat too. Nakago was playing for keeps. Tamahome had first talked to him about choosing his battles, but Matthew knew that this was not one he could walk away from. Nakago was way too fast for him to run away from unless he wanted him to run. Planting his feet, Matthew decided to try a speed attack that Tamahome had used on him a few times. As he did, steam began to flow from his mouth again. Nakago spotted the change and kept his gaze on the foreign boy.

"Eat this!" Matthew shouted as he gave a leap at his opponent.

Nakago's eyes narrowed slightly as the assault came closer. Matthew wasn't paying that much attention to his face as he took aim for a kidney shot that he was sure could at least stun Nakago for long enough to get away. Matthew sent the punch, and for a short second, felt like he had hit something before actually reaching Nakago. The feeling was only for a split second before his fist continued and collided with Nakago's side. Matthew continued with his lunge and rolled to his feet before turning to face Nakago again.

"Nng!" Nakago grunted as he felt pain run through his side. 'My guard?!'

He tunred to face the boy who had dared to attack him and he felt some measure of acknowledgement in the boy's abilities. Not many had been able to get close enough to actually hurt him, but no one had broken through his guard before. How could this one boy, with little training and experience be able to do it?

Matthew was waiting for Nakago to show some measure of pain, but he wasn't even doubling over. He had flinched slightly, but that was it. It then became clear to Matthew that Nakago obviously had a very high pain tolerance to be able to take a shot to the kidney like that and barely even move.

'I'm screwed,' was Matthew's only thought before Nakago began his retalliation.

CRACK!

A fist to the ribs.

WHAM!

A knee to the back.

CRUNCH!

A kick to the side

WHUMP!

An elbow to the left side of the face.

The one-sided beatdown continued as Nakago planted more and more blows on him like rain. Matthew felt like he was in a world of pain. As much as he wanted to retalliate, Nakago would just block the attack and Matthe would feeel some kind of electric charge run through his limb that left it feeling burned. Matthew was sure that Nakago wasn't going to stop until he died from the extreme beating that he was under. As soon as Matthew was reaching his own breaking point, Nakago stopped. He merely stood still as he watched Matthew sway under his own weight and the gravity of his injuries. Nakago almost felt the desire to laugh when Matthew finally fell on his back.

"No doubt you are finding it difficult to even breathe," Nakago spoke as he stupped over to Matthew and looked down on him. "Know this. I could have killed you today but I have decided to let you live for now. I have found you...interesting. I know that you will be a source of entertainment in the future."

Matthew could only let out a growl/gurgle at the Qu-Dong general. It was pretty much all he could do since he was barely able to breathe. Blood was pooling in his mouth and running down his face. He couldn't see out of his left eye. He was also pretty sure that his ribs were cracked, if not broken. Despite the pain, his eyes had remained golden throughout the experience.

"Now, if you'll excuse me," Nakago spoke up. "I have a preistess to find."

With that, Nakago walked away, leaving Matthew to bleed on the ground. The foreign boy couldn't stop him as he vanished into the distance. Matthew just continued to lie on the ground as he struggled to remain concious. He didn't know how much time had passed. He had closed his eyes after a few minutes. No point in staring up into the sky. Maybe if he closed his eyes, dying would be just like going to sleep except that the pain would vanish. The only thing he could do was pray to Suzaku, God, or any other diety that would listen that Yui get to Hong-Nan safely.

"Sniff, sob," someone began to cry. "Matthew."

Matthew felt something wet drop onto his face. His face scrucnhed slightly, despite the pain coming from the left side and his eye. Deciding to see what was going on, Matthew opened his eyes. Everything was blurring at first, but it cleared enough for him to see Yui's face looking down on him. She was crying again.

"So," Matthew smiled,a bit of blood running out of his lips. "Has the angel come to take me away?"

"Don't even joke about that!" Yui cried. "You're hurt real bad! You need help!"

"Probably," Matthew groaned. "Help me get up please."

Yui nodded before reaching behind Matthew's head and helped him sit up. Matthew hadn't really taken time to notice before, but he had to admit that Yui's hands were really soft and warm. She was also being very gentle. After he was up, Yui had gotten him to his feet. Despite being against such an act, Matthew had to spit to get the extra blood out of his mouth.

"Yui," Matthew spoke hoarsely. "We need to get out of here. Hotohori has to be told what happened."

"But how?!" asked Yui.

"The stables," Matthew replied after a struggling breath. "The horses should still be there."

Yui noddedand bgan to lead the wounded boy towards the stables. If they were lucky, the soldiers would not have killed the animals and they would be able to ge to Hong-Nan really quickly.

---------End Flashback-----------------

"Luckily the soldiers hadn't killed the horses," Matthew spoke as he wrapped up his memory. "We managed to avoid the soldiers and get back to Hong-Nan and back to the castle."

"He was certainly a fright when Yui brought him to my throne room," Hotohori supplied. "Many of us thought he was going to die."

"But Yui," Miaka spoke, turning to her friend. "How did you get away from the soldiers?"

"I hid," Yui answered. "They were running because they were expecting me to get as far away as I could. They weren't expecting me to stay close and hide."

"A smart move," Matthew nodded as he sat on the edge of the bed. "Now that Miaka's back, we can find the other Celestial Warriors."

"What do you mean 'we'?" Yui asked sternly with a frown. "You still need rest and I don't want you to get injured by aggrivating those wounds!"

"Aw come on Yui!" Matthew whined almost comically. "I've been in this bed for close to three months now. I'm wigging out here!"

"Well that's too bad!" Yui retorted. "I don't want to see you hurt like that ever again and don't think I'm going to let up either. I'm going to make sure you get your rest until you're healthy again!" her expression then turned down as she seemed to recall the bad memeories. "I owe you at least that."

"Yui," Matthew smiled as he stood up to look at her through his good eye. "You don't owe me anything. I'd take on Nakago again and again if it meant I could keep you safe."

"Mnn," Yui mumbled as she blushed brightly at the proclamation.

"Aww," Miaka giggled.

"They're like a married couple!" Hotohori smiled.

"Urk!" Yui and Matthew stiffened while blushing brightly. They both turned to their friends and managed to both cry out at the same time, "IT'S NOT LIKE THAT!"

Hotohori and Miaka both shared a good laugh at the sudden explosion of emotion. When they were finished, Miaka decided to ask a question that had been bugging her ever since she had arrived at the palace.

"Hey, where's Tamahome?" she asked.

"Well," Matthew pondered. "I haven't seen him in a while. I think Nuriko might know. He is the one who sees him the most."

"Okay!" Miaka smiled as she began running from the room. "See you guys later!"

Miaka then ran down the halls trying to find Nuriko. She had an excitement in her chest as she tried to keep calm. She wanted to see Tamahome so badly and nothing was going to stop her. She hadn't been paying too much attention to where she was going until she had almost run into someone wearing a dress.

"Miaka?" the dress wearing person asked. "Oh! It is you!"

"Nuriko?" Miaka blinked at seeing her cross-dressing friend. "Oh, I've been looking for Tamahome. Do you know where he is?"

"Hmm," Nuriko pondered for a moment. "He said he had run into some money. He was going back home. That was a couple of days ago though."

"Oh," Miaka frowned slightly. 'So he wasn't waiting for me after all. Then I guess I'll just have to go find him!'

--------------------------------

"You're going to find Tamahome?" Hotohori asked as he lokked at Miaka who had come into his throne room.

"Yes," Miaka nodded.

Hotohori started to grow worried, "I surely hope you don't intend to search on your own."

"Of course not! Nuriko's coming with me!" Miaka smiled as she turned to face the other Celestial Warrior. "Right?"

Nuriko just frowned slightly as he stood uncomfortably. He was actully wearing mens clothes for a change. They were green and fit to his figure nicely. A lot of women wuld have drooled over the sight. Too bad for them that Nuriko had other tastes.

"See?" Miaka smiled as she stood next to Nuriko. "He's even dressed as a man. Looking good too!"

"It's just easier to protect you in mens clothes," Nuriko sweatdropped. Hotohori was sure that he was beginning to feel ill for some reason.

"Very well," the young emperor sighed. "Just be careful. There are rumors of Qu-Dong spies. I would hate to see anything happen to you two."

"Oooh! Your Majesty!" Nuriko giggled with sparkly eyes. "You do care about me! I'm so happy!"

"Let's go already!" Maiak growled as she pulled Nuriko away from Hotohori. The young emperor was now very sure that he was beginning to feel ill.

Nuriko was soon on horseback with Miaka as the two rode through the rovince toward where Tamahome was. The sun was beginning to set so it was beginning to cool down for the night. All the while Miaka was silent. She was beginning to have her doubts about what Tamahome was feeling at the moment. She had wanted to be in his arms ever since she got back. She also considered that since it was three months, he might have moved on or even forgotten about her.

"I just can't believe you came back," Nuriko spoke, breaking the silence. "Things have been pretty hectic since you left."

"Yeah, I know," Miaka sighed. "Qu-Dong and all that."

"Not just that," Nuriko added. "Your friend Yui has been all over poor Matthew. Don't tell her this but Matthew has been keeping up his training ever since he was well enough to walk properly."

"Huh?" Miaka blinked. "How do you know that?"

"I spotted him one night after everyone went to bed," Nuriko smiled. "If Yui found out then I'd bet that she would chain him to the bed to make sure he rested. You don't think he developed those nice muscles just by sitting there have you?"

"I guess not," Miaka shrugged before a thought came to her. "Hey! Were you checking him out or something?"

"Of course not!" Nuriko snapped angrily. "You know Hotohori is the only one for me! I was just helping Yui care for him during the rough patches of his recovery. You wouldn't believe how messed up he was. The doctors were amazed that he as able to walk, much less ride. Yui was very distraught so I helped calm her down and care for him. She was a little jumpy around Tamahome and Hotohori for a while."

"I'm not surprised," Miaka frowned. She felt absolutely horrible for not being there for Yui when she needed her. She was just happy that Matthew was despite getting the tar beat out of him by that Qu-Dong general.

"Enough about that," Nuriko began to smirk. "I can't wait to see Tama-baby's face when he sees you again. He'll be so happy."

"He will?" Miaka blinked.

"Oh sure," Nuriko grinned. "You should have seen him. While you were gone he was just so out of it. Birds were landing on him since he was standing still for so long and I even saw him eating a plate when he wasn't paying attention at dinner. I wouldn't worry about being apart from him for this long. He's still stuck on you."

"What?"Miaka gasped. "But...he told me that he didn't have any feelings for me!"

"Oh he probably wasn't aware of it at the moment," Nuriko shrugged.

While the two were talking, they rde into a thick patch of forest. Thanks to the fading light of the forest and the density of the trees, everything was engilfed in pure darkness. Neither Miaka or Nuriko could see anything in front of them, much less the path they were on.

"Hey!" Miaka cried. "How'd it geet so dark?"

"Hmm," Nuriko shrugged. "We must have taken a wrong path or something."

Nuriko was about to turn the horse around when it suddenly took a tumble, sending both riders into the ground. Nuriko hit hard and rolled slightly while Miaka had tumbled over some grass. Both of them took a minute to recover from the shock and sudden fall.

"Miaka?!" Nuriko asked in a panic. "Are you okay?!"

"I'm fine," Miaka grumbled as she put he rhands on her head to get the stars out. As she held one of the buns in her hair she suddenly felt somethimg missing. Her ribbon was missing.

'Oh no!' She gasped silently. 'My ribbon! Where'd it go? I'll lose my connection to Keisuke if I lose it!'

Back in her own world, Miaka had given one of the ribbons she tied around her hair to her brother to make sure she had a connection to her own world for when she wanted to come back. SHe was instantly on her knees looking for it. Her hands were brushing through the grass. She searched for a couple moments before her fingers touched the familiar fabric.

'I found it!' Miaka cheered inwardly.

THUNK!

Miaka found a sharp blade that belonged to a sickle embedded in the ground near her fingers. She looked straight up to see a darkened figure holding onto the weapon in front of her.

"Wh-what was that for?" Miaka cried loudly, still shockeed that she had almost had her fingers cut off.

"Who are you!" a male voice shouted back.

Miaka suddenly froze as she heard the voice. She began to slightly tremble as she heard it. She didn't have to be a genius like Yui to be able to recognise it. She continued to stare at the figure as more people holding torches got closer to the two of them. Miaka looked up as light bathed the figure in font of her and revealed him to be none other than Tamahome. The cash-hungry warrior blinked as he saw Miaka standing up in front of him.

"Miaka?" he gasped, almost not believing his eyes.

"Tama...home?" Miaka breathed in almost a whisper.

Tamahome released his weapon and brought both of his hands up to Miaka's cheels to feel her warm skin and to check if it was really her. He could only continue to stare, "Is it...really you?" Miaka just nodded as she brought her own hands up to hold his.

"Has it only been three months?" Tamahome asked with a growing smile. "I swear, it's been a thousand years."

Miaka just started to tear up befroe throwing herself into Tamahome's embrace. Despite the two of them being from different worlds, Miaka didn't care. care about that. She just couldn't help herself. She was just so much in love with Tamahome. She was only gone for a day and she found herself practically going crazy without him.

"I missed you," Tamahome smiled as he and Miaka parted. "You look well. DId you talk to your mom?"

"Uh-huh," Miaka smiled while wiping her eyes. "We didn't exactly reach a truce though."

"Hey you guys," Nuriko's voice suddenly broke through the romantic air. "Are you aware that you have an audience?"

Miaka and Tamahome blushed as they did realise that they were being watched. Several villagers holding torches and weapons were around them. Some were a little confused about what was happening while others just seemed content to let them have their moment.

"Hey Tamahome," one villager called. "Do you knwo these two?"

"Oh," Tamahome blinked as he turned to face the villagers. "Well, this is Miaka. She's the Priestess of Suzaku and this guy's queer."

KLUNK! Nuriko had bopped Tamahome over the head with his fist.

"I-I mean this guy's Nuriko. He's a constellation of Suzaku like me." Tamahome corrected himself.

"Tamahome?" asked Miaka. "What are you doing out here?"

"Well, you heard about Qu-Dong right?" Tamahome replied while turning to her. Miaka nodded. "Well, suspicious folks are poppin up all over lately. Gotta admit, guard duty doesn't pay too bad. Besides, with me guarding this village you have nothing to worry about."

Miaka just smiled as se watched Tamahome go on. She felt so happy that she was with him again. Where she was at the moment didn't matter because she just knew that she was going to be safe as long as she was with him.

In the middle of Miaka's reflection, the torches began to lose their light and all went out at the same moment. The villagers began to panic and shout out for new torches as confusion began to run rampant through the ranks.

"What's going on?"

"There's no wind so what happened?"

"Did someone put the torches out?"

"Everyone justy calm down!" Tamahome shouted over the noise. "All we need to do is have someone go back to the village and get some more torches!"

Miaka was just as confused as anyone. She didn't want to get accidentally trampled by the villagers so she had remained still so that she wouldn't get in the way. As she was waiting, she suddenly felt somethiag moving behind her. She was about to turn and face them when a pair of hands suddeny reached behind her and clamped her hands over her mouth. She then felt herself pulled back into the underbrush. Tamahome had turned to see if she was okay and had managed to see her pulled off at the last minute.

"MIAKA?!" he cried.

To Be Continued.

A/N: Whew! Glad to have that done! How do you like the story twist? I know it's a pretty big change but you'll see how it affects the story later. It also got Matthew to meet Nakago himself. Too bad he almsot got himself killed for it.