I do not own Saiunkoku Monogatari.

It belongs to Yura Kairi.

Pairing: Sakuju/Shuu, Ryuuki/Shuu

Genre: Angst! Character death!

Three For Memory

She loves me...

She loves me not...

She loves me...

"Waka-sama!" Shuurei gasped at the sight of her indolent employer slouched against the bridge's railing.

Lin Senya, who she had long ago labelled as the world's laziest man, was idly plucking the petals off a bouquet of flowers. Her eyes, automatically calculating the size (and price) of the bouquet, widened in horror.

What does he think he's doing, wasting it like that?

"Waka-sama!!!" She frowned, stomping over to his side. "What are you doing? Wasting flowers like that?"

He didn't seem startled, but chuckled softly to himself - as if he knew a joke she did not.

Annoying...

"Kou-rin..." He said thoughtfully. "These petals that fall beneath us into the river - where do they go?"

"Welll," Shuurei blinked. "This river eventually reaches the sea, does it not? So I guess - eh... why are you asking anyway?"

"Hmmm... I was just thinking about how much life is like this river - the only constant is change - and we are blind to where we ought to be. Because that is what life is - a perpetual, neverending, puzzling... journey..."

"Ehhhhhh..." Shuurei's eyebrow twitched in irritation. "If you have the time to philosophize like this - don't you have the time to be doing some of your paperwork?"

"I got bored... and I don't feel too good..."

I missed you - you and your erhu - and your attention...

"Hmmmm..." leaning forward, Shuurei peered at her employer.

Is he drunk? At one o'clock in the afternoon he better not be!

"Good heavens!" Her cool hand drew back at the heat radiating from his forehead. "You're burning up! And improperly dressed too! What will people think! If you died of something so trivial - what would your family think? How will they feel then? Come - let's get back to the house!"

Sakujun's brow wrinkled at the word.

Family.

What is that... really?

Merely two pests - and a foolish old bastard...

"They wouldn't care, I think -" he said coolly. "Would you care, Kourin? Would you miss me?"

"Waka-sama! What a way to talk! Do you have a death wish?" Her eyes were large with worry.

Sakujun nodded tiredly.

Perhaps it wasn't wise for me to push myself so much...

-

"I'm sure..." she sighed as they made their way slowly to their lodginings. "That they would miss you. So would I!"

How else would I get into Kinka?

"I see."

"Besides," she shook a finger at her thoughtful partner. "If you were more diligent -"

"Diligent -"

"Hmmm... that word has probably been absent from your vocabulary since the day of your birth -"

"... um..."

"But if you made yourself useful - made the world a better place, tried to make the ones you love happier, you'd be missed for sure."

"The ones you love," he repeated thoughtfully.

Sakujun smiled.

"I love you, Kourin!"

"I'm sure..." Shuurei sighed. "Then make life easier by staying put!"

When he kissed her that night, as she installed him in bed, she turned red and shoved him away.

"W-w-w-waka-sama! What are you thinking - kissing a servant like that! A shame to you - and - and sexual harassment besides!"

He laughed.

"I like you, Kou-rin! I really like you when you get angry. You're just like a mother!"

"Rea-lly..." She stomped out the room. "Sado-masochist!"

-

That night, in her bed, Shuurei touched her lip, remembering the taste of green tea and rice. The soft feel of his tongue sliding over her mouth. Quick, experienced, sure - and -

She blushed at the unbidden realization -

Exhilerating.

She didn't know what to do about the feeling.

-

The next time he kissed her - the light of the candles in his bedroom were blotted out by his wide shoulders and shadowed face - His curling, silky hair drifting down to mix with hers - and the last thing she saw was his glimmering brilliant eyes. Shuurei thought she understood - but the language they spoke was foreign to her. The young girl's eyebrows knit together as the impact of her sitation hit her. Already her face was burning a bright red. And although she had protested - here she was - on her back, in an empty house - on a bed with Waka-sama -

No.

Sa Sakujun.

The monster.

The monster who woke a heat in her belly that she never knew existed inside her.

I can't read him -

But any panic seemed to disappate with his warm breath on her cheek, his flower scent - the taste of sake - And his tongue once again seeking entrance - a subtle form of plea and pressure mixed into one.

The devil beckoning.

It was impossible to say his name - but as the kiss deepened and he pressed down, Shuurei tried to remember -

The mon-

Waka-sa-

Sa Sakujun...

Sakujun -

Somewhere, faintly - a person was - Seiran burst in yelling her name. And an hour later, after a short reconnaisance with her compatriorts, Shuurei found the comfort of bed. But sleep seemed... impossible. When she shut her eyes, she could hear his voice - soft, gentle, husky and mysterious -

"My name -"

He bent down, hands on her shoulders - pulling her close - unabashedly intimate. Mouth so close to her ear - her heart jumped.

"Sa Sakujun..."

"I love you -"

"I look forward to seeing you -"

The fragments of his voice resounded in her head - even there in the darkness...

That night, in her dreams, she tended Waka-sama and played the erhu for him.

And he kissed her.

Then, Seiran came in with a sword, raising it - a teacup crashed, as the sword fell pinning the two to the mattress. She could only gasp - blood streaking Waka-sama's face, as it fell still. And her hands were sticky from his warm blood...

She woke up - gasping - and looked down frantically. But her hands weren't blood-stained -and there was no hole in her heart -

Was there?

-

The last time he kissed her - he was dying. And her blind eyes were opened, as his shut.

Those jokes that were not jokes -

That, oh, so serious game -

It wasn't as pleasing, ironic that now she knew what she missed - would miss... So when his mouth touched hers, she let him take his time - and tried to find meaning in this foreign dance. His tongue sliding past her lips to find her taste. It was a bitter kiss - the iron taste of blood and the strong sake mixing with together in her mouth. Shutting her eyes, she focussed on the moment - trying to imprint the memory - his hand in her hair - and his warm lips on hers. Ignoring his blood now staining her hands as they rested against his chest, Shuurei pulled away reluctantly, with a blush.

"It's not your fault but... since I have the chance, I will give you 'Sa Sakujun'."

Memories flashed through her mind. The intricate puzzle pieces fitting together...

"It can't be... my fault?" she gasped, her fingers dug into her pink robe.

His perfect eyebrows drew together in a slight frown.

"Hm. Don't they say that beauty and a happy life rarely go together... but a deadly illness always strikes the ideal man."

There was a silence where he seemed to be thinking - and then into the silence:

"I love you. Your erhu playing... the tea you brewed for me and everything about you."

Tipping her head and gritting her teeth, Shuurei quaked with sudden sharp anger. She slapped him, yelling, "I won't let you dodge the subject by saying that! I won't allow you to say that and then die! I won't call your name! What should I have called you? I knew you only as Waka-sama. You've never called me by my real name either! Just wait here!"

She left him sitting there -

Sa Sakujun.

I don't want you to die -

I want justice -

I want -

What do you want?

Sa Sakujun... I want...

I want to understand...

-

He was gone. They looked for him high and low - but there was no sign of the body.

"He was dying from poison," Seiran sighed.

Shuurei blinked at his firm agreement with her statement.

"He can't have gone far. Spread out," ordered Ensei. "Tell us when you've found him," he told the guards.

But they never did find him - that night or the next. And Shuurei went to her room late - too scared to shut her eyes.

Sa Sakujun...

You got your wish...

Tears leaked out as the memory of blood and sake filled her mouth - His pale face, baggy eyes - the blood trickling down from the corners of his mouth sluggishly...

Why?

"If you don't make me Gan Lu tea... I will die."

"Play the erhu for me..."

"You haven't called me by my real name even once."

"To you, what place do I rank as a person?"

I can't understand...

Why does the monster of the Sa clan - how can he make me feel this regret and longing?

That night, in her dreams, he came to her -

The kiss lasted forever - and his hands drew her close - She woke to the sun lighting her room feebly up - But she could still feel his body on hers - the sight of her erhu brought back the memories - and the dreams -

And she broke down crying.

-

When she next saw Ryuuki, she wondered how she ever saw Sakujun in him.

He was so different. He didn't kiss her or touch her - even in her dreams. And when he drew close to her, she wondered where that fire went - perhaps back where it belonged - dormant inside her -

"I'll wait for you - forever," he said.

And then, she remembered why.

I'll love you forever.