THIS IS IT!! THE LAST CHAPTER!! Will these two ever get together? You'll just have to wait and see!

I do not own Senkaiden Houshin Engi or Soul Hunter, it belongs to the guy who made the manga, Ryu Fujisaki. If only I could meet him…

Year of Love
By DayDreamer9

Standing before the door that he'd stood before many times before, Taikoubou took a deep breath as he glanced down at the small bag that he held. He was nervous, but also very hopeful at the same time, perhaps he was even excited. For a solid month and a half, things had been…different, but he was hoping that things would get back to normal today…he was praying for it.

He hasn't talked to me at all since that day, the green-eyed doushi thought with sadness, his grip on the bag increasing, and I've wanted to talk to him so badly…

Taking a deep breath, he reached out and took hold of the door, his heart pounding in his chest.

Here goes nothing…no, here goes everything

-+-

It had started back a month and a half ago.

First of that month was the day that he realized what the strange feeling he'd been getting lately was, the day he knew why his face kept heating up whenever the two of them drew close, the day he understood the strange sense of peace that was around him whenever the other was nearby, the day that he found himself wondering what to do…and ultimately waiting weeks before he finally had to say something. He'd gotten Taikoubou out someplace private, away from his parents (who didn't know anything about the way that he felt), and had…attempted to tell him how he felt. But then he found himself unable to say the words; he didn't understand why it was so hard to say, why he kept stumbling over his words that he wanted to say so badly, why he couldn't breath or even swallow as he tried to tell the other how he felt.

And then when he came closer…even now he didn't really understand what happened…but for at least a few moments, he felt as though he was in heaven. He didn't want that moment to end, but when he realized what he'd done, he couldn't stop the ice cold fear he felt from taking over and he flew away from there before the other could say a word. He was afraid to hear what he would say…afraid…afraid of what he himself had just done. He couldn't even bare to look at him or be near him, he was so ashamed: all he wanted to do was talk, that was all, and instead…he just made everything more complicated.

So, for nearly three weeks, Nataku had been avoiding Taikoubou like the plague…and was beyond miserable because of it.

He'd always make sure that the other wasn't in the hall or even the house before he left his room, he wouldn't even answer his door unless it was his mother, and refused to go out into the garden or even atop the wall for fear of running into him. His mother, to say the least, was worried sick and thought that he himself was becoming ill while his father assumed it was due to his 'winter episodes', but the redhead knew that he couldn't go with that excuse for long. His mother was beginning to suspect and he knew that he couldn't stay cooped up in his room forever…or could he? Maybe he could, anything to keep him and Taikoubou out of the same room, to keep the other from talking to him.

And telling him the thing that Nataku was afraid to hear.

How did this happen to me? he found himself thinking again for the thousandth time that month, sitting beside his window on the floor, looking idly out the window with the glummest expression on his face, I don't understand…I'm hurting inside, but I'm not injured. And why…why am I so afraid? I thought that I wanted this…or at least, I thought I did…

The answers didn't come as he sat there, day after day, looking up at the cold winter sky, at the thick clouds that cried snowy tears, like he'd done that night when he'd 'returned'. It marked the second time in his life that he'd ever cried and, for some reason, this time just seemed worse than the first. The dull ache in his chest wouldn't go away and it would just flare up whenever he caught sight of the dark-haired doushi, making him short of breath, but he didn't dare go near him. What if the other doushi hated him now?

He has every right to hate me, the redhead though, hugging his knees closer to his chest.

He heard the door slide open behind him, but he didn't even blink; it was probably his mother, she'd been worried sick about him for two weeks, making him feel guilty. Still, he wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone right now. After a few seconds passed and there was nothing but silence, save for the sound of the door closing, and quiet footfalls, Nataku heaved a heavy sigh and buried his face in his drawn knees and folded arms.

"I don't want to talk about it," he murmured, feeling a chill in the air as the weather outside proceeded to suck up all the heat inside the room, let alone the whole entire house.

Silence reigned again, then-

"I think we should."

Something inside of Nataku's chest seized up and he looked up, eyes wide as the footfalls came closer until they were right beside him. Then a rustle of movement and a blur of color in his peripheral let him know that there was somebody sitting besides him. Somebody that he'd been trying his hardest to avoid…

"Hey," Taikoubou said, gently, from besides him, "door was open. Figured I'd come in the check on ya." A pause as the other looked out the window and watched the snowflakes silently fall from the sky. "You've been like a ghost, lately. I hardly see you anymore."

Nataku finally managed to start breathing again as he looked away, suddenly feeling more colder than he had been a few minutes ago.

"I've missed seeing you around. The house just feels so empty…"

The redhead buried his face in his drawn arms and knees.

"And you know…your mother's really worri-"

"Taikoubou."

The dark-haired doushi stopped talking as he turned to the other, a little surprised: he sounded like he was ready to cry…

"You…you don't have to pretend that…that everything's okay," the redhead said, his voice a near whisper, "I know that…that you're just trying to make me feel better…"

There was a long silence after that, a silence so thick that it was capable of being cut with a knife. There was a shift in movement beside him and he was sure that the other was getting up to leave…until he felt someone tap him on his shoulder. Cringing a bit, he reluctantly looked up after a few seconds…and found himself staring at a small, brown, sweet-smelling confection that he'd seen his mother eat a few times in the past.

"The last time that I checked, something milk and powder-based ingredients don't conflict with your vow of not eating anything plant or meat-oriented," Taikoubou was saying in a tone that implied he was attempting to be casual, "and since your Mom has so much of these about, I figured it wouldn't hurt for you to try some." He gave the redhead a lop-sided smile. "Besides, they say that chocolate is for the lonely. The lonely and the depressed, I should say." He then looked as though he were trying to remember something, though his expression sported an almost comical element. "Or was it the depraved?" He then shrugged almost nonchalantly. "Oh well, either way, fits us both rather well…"

Nataku stared at the confection as he listened to Taikoubou's attempt at lightening the atmosphere, confused as to why he was even trying to be funny. Could he not stand to be in the room with him? After what he did…

"…uh…I-" was all that the young Paopei Human could make out before he found something small and square-shaped being placed inside his mouth, "umph!"

"There we go!" came the cheery response from other doushi, who was now giving him a smile, holding a bag that the younger of the two identified somewhat detachedly was filled with more of the brown sweets, "don't you feel better already?"

Nataku couldn't really reply with the obvious detriment in his mouth; he felt foolish if he spat it out, but he wasn't sure what else to do with it, so he just sat there with a somewhat funny, puckered look on his face as he watched Taikoubou plop one in his own mouth quite casually. At a total loss of what to do, Nataku just sat there with the candy in his mouth, the confection slowly melting away until finally, he was able to swallow it without much of a problem…though the sweet taste did nothing to aid in his confusion.

Why…? was the number one word in Nataku's vocabulary right now as he stared at the green-eyed doushi for a couple of seconds before he decided to grab the bull by the horns.

"What are you doing?" he asked, bluntly, though one could easily tell that he was in somewhat of a daze at what was going on.

Taikoubou glanced over at him once he finished chewing and swallowing the confection that was in his own mouth, the corners of his mouth twitching slightly upwards in a small smile as he suddenly leaned in close.

"Oh look," he pointed out, a bit innocently, "you have some on your lips."

Giving the other an odd look, noting how he avoided the question completely, and opened his mouth to ask again.

"Answer me," he said, starting to get annoyed; why was he doing this? Why was he pretending that everything was all right when it wasn't? "What-"

He didn't have time to finish the question as the bag of sweets fell to the floor as the older doushi who held it leaned forward, reaching out with his right hand to take the younger one's shoulder as they drew close to the point where their noses were nearly touching. Nataku froze, feeling the other's breath against his cheek as his emerald eyes were halfway closed.

"Tai-Taikoubou…?" he managed to stutter out, fighting for breath, "wha-mph!"

A pair of soft lips pressed against his, silencing him as the redhead's senses were sent for a very large loop, eyes widening as his breathing came close to a full stop as the familiar warmth spread across his face. The two remained that way for what felt like an eternity; Nataku eventually felt himself relaxing as his eyes closed part way, enjoying the feeling that spread from his lips to the rest of his body along with sheer happiness as he realized what was happening. Leaning into the kiss more, Nataku raised his right arm and placed it on Taikoubou's shoulder to mimic the other's motion while he felt his other arm go around the other's waist…and the move was mimicked in full. They drew closer together in an awkward form of hug, still kissing, both their eyes closed until it became obvious that they both needed air and, reluctantly, separated.

Their eyes opened and a pair of night blue eyes were looking questioningly into a pair of sad emerald ones.

"I'm sorry," the older of the pair said, softly, his right hand moving up to stroke the other's hair, gently, "I didn't realize how you felt about me till…" He stopped, frowning as his hand trailed down the side of the other's face, causing both of their cheeks to flush with color. "I'm so sorry…it must have driven you crazy all this time, keeping it inside."

Nataku averted his eyes, glancing out the window at the snow-covered roofs beyond his house, at how the snow ceased falling…and the sky appeared to be clearing up as slivers of bright blue could be seen in the sky. It was no longer cold, at least, not to him, and the wintry fear that normally possessed him was oddly absent. He unconsciously drew closer to Taikoubou, head falling against his chest as his eyes wandered again to the floor, falling upon the discarded bag of chocolate as he enjoyed the warmth of the other. He'd planned this whole thing; Nataku never gave him the chance to speak, so he instead chose this method to show how he truly felt.

Something that made Nataku very happy…beyond happy even.

He doubted that a name had been invented for this feeling yet.

"Ah, I see we're eying the chocolate some more."

The singsong tone that the other sported alerted Nataku, causing him to look up to see the sneaky grin that was coming across Taikoubou's face.

"Thinking of getting another cleaning?" he asked with a wink, adding emphasis to the word 'cleaning' with an almost sly undertone.

It didn't take long for Nataku to realize what the other was implying and that made him do something that he never thought that he would ever do for anyone, not even for his mother, in his entire life.

He smiled.

BOOYAH!! I DID IT!! I managed to complete a story! XD And a good one at that ^_^ I sure hope that you all enjoyed this budding relationship of non-stop romance. It may leave room for a sequel and I might just deliver if the idea for one happens to float my way ^^ Well, enjoy the holidays as much as I hope you enjoyed this story, and thanks for reading!