Hi, everyone. My name is dani's random fox, or dani, and this is Echigo. I hope you will all enjoy and review.

This is Au-ish, meaning that it is Alternate Universe-ish. Ammy and Issun will be in here, but the desperation of getting the gods' techniques won't be as great.

It is also OOC-ish. Out Of Character-ness. We don't really see too much of the everyday life of Himiko, Waka, or Abe so I hope you don't mind what I made up. Same thing for their looks.

Abe is in this story, if you don't recall who he is in the game, he's the guy who lost his mask and promised to tell you a secret about Waka if you get it back. I've never found out the secret. •.• perhaps someone will be kind enough to share?

Summary: Can't think of one at the moment, maybe someone can help? WakaxOCxAbexOC love quadriplifrangle (word I made up, IT IS MINE, but you can borrow it). OOC-ness and AU-ish.

Rating: T for sexual suggestions, crude humor, language.

Genre: Romance/ Humor

Speech guide:

'Thoughts.'

"Talking."

Emphasized words will be italicized

Flashbacks will be italicized and not introduced.

---

I suggest you read the following guides before you read the story.

Japanese word guide:

Suffixes

-san- (sahn)(Abe-san) Mr., Mrs., Ms., or a polite way to address someone whom you do not know well.

-chan- (not like Jackie Chan, chahn)(Rao-chan) A term of endearment for children or female friends. When at the end of a male's name, it is taken as an insult. Often used to tease male friends. (Girly-man.)

-kun- (coon)(Waka-kun) Said to someone who is close to you. Mainly for male friends, but can be used at the end of female names to be more personal.

-sama- (sa-ma) (Himiko-sama) Lord, Lady.

-None- (Issun) ((Iss-soon)) An insult unless you know the person very well. Sometimes men don't add suffixes.

Name meanings

Fukai (foo-kuh-eye((not key)))- Forest

Yuki (You-key)-Snow or lucky

Mizu (Me-zoo)-Water

Haru (Ha-roo)-Spring

Hiro (Hero)-A light on the path

Echigo (Like they 'ay' in gay, ay-che-go)- Behind the mountains

Clothes and sayings

Hakama- the pants that Waka wear

Haori- a short coat, but I refer to it as the shirts.

Geta- wooded clogs. (The shoes that Waka wear)

Katana- sword

Yukata- Single layered cotton kimono. Worn after taking a bath or during the summer (I have Yuki wear one as pajamas)

Stuff

I have a lot of bowing. Bowing is how the Japanese show respect and since they're in a palace, there's lots of it. Uh, bowing. Respect, too, but I meant bowing.

I pronounce 'Abe' like 'Ah-bay'. You don't have to, but I think that's the proper way to say it.

In Japanese aah, eay, ie, oo (like in 'go') uoo (like in 'moo')

I refer to Himiko as Himiko-sama and Lady Himiko. If you want to stick with one, please say so.

Itadakimasu- Let's eat!

French words and sayings:

Oui (wee) - Yes

Non (no) - No . simple enough

Ma chèrie (mah- Cher (like the singer)-e) - Term of endearment like, dear, sweetheart, etc

Pardon moi (not quite sure how to pronounce) - Pardon me, excuse me

Cela ne vaut rien- (dunno how to pronounce either) – That's no good

C'est bonne- (same as above) –That's okay/good/better

Au revior- (Know how to say it, dunno how to explain it) – Good bye


Echigo: Behind the Mountains

Chapter One

The Travelers

"Himiko-sama…"

Waka glanced out the window, using his flute to move the shade aside, "The ambassadors from Echigo are here."

"Thank you, Waka-san…please inform the maids to escort them to the banquet hall."

"Oui," he said and disappeared.


Yukiko eyed the guards wearily as they checked her bags for the second time.

She was tired and hungry. The journey from Echigo to Sei-an was not an easy one. The road was treacherous, overrun with weeds and lumpy rocks and monsters. She wanted nothing more than to eat and take a bath. Her dark brown hair was a frizzed, tangled mess and it smelled.

She glanced at the rest of the group. They all looked exhausted, too.

They had reached in Sei-an at midday. They got lost five times in the big city and it was evening by the time they finally arrived to the Imperial Palace. The entrance staircase looked like another journey in itself; it was long and intimidating. Four maids waited quietly at the top, ready to welcome the weary travelers.

"Well, at least we get to sleep on proper beds this time, Yukiko." The oldest of the group, the leader and her grandfather, smiled wearily.

Yukiko nodded tiredly at her grandpa. The journey had certainly taken its toll on him; he looked older than ever.

She watched the maids at the entrance. A man suddenly appeared and began to speak to the maids. Yukiko's mouth dropped. The maids didn't seem surprised by his unexpected entrance. They nodded their heads and bowed.

He vanished.

"Did you see that?"

She turned and looked at her younger cousin Mizuki, "Maybe, depends on what you saw."

Mizuki shook his head in amazement, "A man just appeared and vanished out of thin air."

"Yes, I saw. I'm not sure anyone else did, though. Did you see his face?"

"Hey, are you kids coming or do you want to stay here?"

Yuki and Mizuki quickly glanced around, everyone was gone. The group had already started up the stairs, the guards following with their belongings. One guard had called out to them, interrupting Mizuki and Yuki's conversation.

Mizuki started forward.

Yuki grabbed his shoulder, "Wait!"

Mizuki looked at her in confusion.

Yuki pointed, "Look!"

Mizuki turned around, his eyes wide. Nothing was there.

Yuki smirked and ran up the stairs, competitiveness overpowering fatigue. Her green eyes twinkled mischievously. She was already halfway up the stairs when Mizuki caught up, "Heh, you may have gotten a head start, cousin, but you're still slow!"

He passed her easily.


By the time Yuki made it up the stairs, she was gasping for air. Everyone had been waiting for her impatiently, some giving her small, disapproving shakes of their heads, others hiding smiles. Mizuki stood off in the back, a proud smirk on his face.

She grinned sheepishly, her face red and sweaty from her run. Her long dark brown hair had come loose from the bun she put it in. She quickly put it back in a bun.

"Welcome to Sei-an City Imperial Palace," greeted a maid. "Queen Himiko was getting worried when you didn't arrive at the time expected."

"Thank you. The journey was treacherous," replied Yuki's grandfather, Haru.

The maid smiled and bowed her head, "Please follow me."

The group followed the maids, Mizuki and Yuki stayed in the back. They stared in awe at the immenseness of the palace. It was as huge on the inside as it was on the outside. The ceiling was high above their heads. There were many giant pillars to help support the weight of the great palace, each a beautiful dark maroon-red color.

Everyone looked around in amazement. The hallway was full of doors of all sizes, maids scuttling in and out of them like busy ants. The guards carrying the luggage broke away, disappearing behind a large door.

"Where do you think they're going, cousin?" Yuki whispered to Mizuki.

"That door leads to the guests' wing," said a voice behind them. The cousins turned around quickly.

One guard had stayed behind, his katana on his shoulder. He looked to be no more than twenty years old. He had ear length brown hair and brown eyes and a crooked smile. He loomed over them on his geta shoes, causing Yuki to step back in alarm.

'I didn't know he was there…!'

"Who are you?" Mizuki asked.

"Oh, pardon me, my name's Abe. I am a pupil of Captain Waka."

"Who's Waka?"

Abe dropped his sword, "Y-you don't know who Captain Waka is?!"

Yuki picked up his katana and offered it out to him, "No, otherwise we wouldn't ask."

Abe took the katana and got a passionate look in his eye, "Captain Waka is a Tao master! He's amazing! He defeats foes faster than a frog catches a fly!"

Yuki and Mizuki stepped back from him, "Okay…um…"

"I'd be lucky to even be a fourth of what he is!"

The cousins stared at him.

Abe caught himself and blushed, "I apologize. Just thinking of Captain Waka makes my blood flow ardently!"

"Oh, um, okay. I mean, it's okay to love a man," said Yuki uneasily.

Abe fell over, "No! I don't love Captain Waka--I admire him greatly! He is a wonderful swordsman and captain! He cares for the well being of his team above all! He is a great man."

Yuki stepped forward and held out her hand. Abe took it with a small smile and stood up; brushing off any dirt on his clothes, "Thank you…um…"

"Forgive me, please, I am Yukiko Fukai, and this is my cousin, Mizuki Fukai."

Mizuki put two fingers to his head and saluted.

Abe smiled his crooked smile, "It is a pleasure to meet you both, Yukiko-san and Mizuki-san."

"Oh, please call me Yuki."

"Call me Mizu," said Mizuki with a grin.

They all stood there, smiling at each other for about a minute. Yuki looked around and noticed that they were alone.

"Um…Abe-san…where is everyone?"

Abe looked around frantically, "They must have gone to the banquet hall without us!"

He started to walk away quickly. "Please follow me," he called over his shoulder.

Yuki and Mizu caught up to him, "So, tell us about this 'Waka' guy," Mizuki said. "What does he look like? I bet he's all brawny…"

Yuki glanced thoughtfully at her cousin, "Maybe he's scary looking. Maybe he has huge muscles and a bald head and a really, really deep voice."

Abe snorted, "Captain Waka is none of those. He is beautiful."

"You don't love him, yet you think he's beautiful?" Yuki asked.

Abe gave her a look. "You'll understand when you see him."

Mizu and Yuki exchanged glances, "Are we going to?"

"Yes, of course. He is Himiko-sama's bodyguard. Whenever Himiko-sama has to meet new people, he tags along to protect her from possible bodily harm."

"You make him sound like a child, Abe-san," Yuki said.

Abe smiled over his shoulder, "Sometimes he acts like one."

"Ah," replied Yuki. "How old are you? If you don't mind my asking."

"Not at all, I'm nineteen."

"Cool!" said Mizu, "I'm fifteen and Yuki's seventeen."

"You're a bit young to be a guard," Yuki observed.

"I am not a guard; I am going to be part of the Tao Force. I have to do guard duty until Captain Waka is able to train me," Abe explained. "I train under Captain Waka whenever he has the free time. He is a very busy man. We rarely see him at headquarters."

"Where's headquarters?" asked Mizu innocently.

"Mizuki!" said Yuki sharply, "that's none of our business!"

"Oh, it's okay," Abe said with a smile. "It's in the Commoners Quarters."

Yuki's eyes lost focus for a few seconds, "…I didn't see anything that could have been a proper headquarters while we were there, and we got lost five times so we saw pretty much the whole place."

"Ah, but did you look up?"

Yuki and Mizu gave him blank looks.

Abe smiled wider, "Our HQ is located in the sky. Don't ask me how it got there," he said quickly, noticing their perplexed faces, "that's Captain Waka's doing. Maybe you can come and see it sometime."

They reached an elevator and got inside. It jerked upwards and Yuki and Mizu fell.

"We've not had much experience with elevators," Yuki explained as Abe helped them up. "Our Imperial Palace is wide, not tall."

"What's Echigo like?"

Yuki smiled, "Echigo is big, almost bigger than Sei-an, I daresay. Its location isn't that far from Sei-an, about a two weeks journey on foot, but only because the path is covered with weeds and monsters. Rocks and broken trees make it impossible for us to travel by horse. It actually took us two weeks and three days because of all the monsters."

"But Echigo itself is beautiful," Mizuki said. "We have many temples and shrines dedicated to the gods and sakura trees everywhere. 'Aristocrats and Commoners' don't separate us, everyone pretty much lives together. We have a large, crystal clear lake full of fish, with wild flowers along the edge."

"That sounds beautiful."

"Sei-an isn't as beautiful as Echigo," said Mizuki proudly.

"It's close," Yuki said politely. "But we are here as ambassadors on behalf of Atamatchi-sama, not as sight-seers. We have many things to offer Sei-an and Sei-an has many things to offer us. We specialize in making kimono and lacquerware and Arita ware. We're hoping to convince Himiko-sama to help us clear the path. It would be beneficial for both of our cities. We brought some of our finest kimono in hopes that they will help persuade her…"

"Himiko-sama does not worry about her looks. She cares more about the people. And we already have a kimono maker who makes fine kimono."

Mizuki gave Yuki a worried look. She reassured him with a smile, "Well, I can promise you that you haven't seen anything like ours," she said confidently to Abe.

The elevator stopped suddenly and the doors opened. Yuki frowned and turned a little green, "That was not pleasant. I hope we don't have to ride this in the future."

Mizuki smiled wide, "What are you talking about? That was fun! And besides, cousin," he leaned forward, "we have to go back down in order to get to our rooms."

Yuki paled, "The gods forbid."

Mizuki and Abe laughed as Abe led them down another long hallway. Mizuki moaned, "Will we ever get to eat?"

"I am glad to see that you have brought an appetite, young man," said a feminine voice behind them.

Abe turned around quickly and threw himself on the floor, "Himiko-sama!"

Yuki and Mizuki both turned around. A beautiful young woman was smiling cordially at them. She wore her long black hair in a style that accented her elegant kimono well. She had warm brown eyes and a soft, regal face that bore no make-up but it wasn't necessary because she was so stunning.

Four guards stood behind her, watching the trio vigilantly. Yuki quickly bowed, putting her hand on Mizuki to force him to bow with her.

"It is an honor to meet you, Himiko-sama." Yuki said, trying not to let her nervousness show in her voice.

"Please rise."

Yuki and Mizuki straightened awkwardly, staring at their feet and not the beautiful woman before them.

"It is an honor to meet you as well. Please, may I know your names?"

Yuki looked Himiko in the eyes, "I am Yukiko Fukai."

"I'm Mizu Fukai," Mizuki mumbled to his feet, his face red.

Himiko smiled again. "Would you mind accompanying me to the banquet hall?"

"O-of course, milady!" said Yuki. 'She's so polite and beautiful. Poor Mizu, he's clumsy around pretty women.'

Abe fell behind with the guards and Yuki and Mizu walked behind Himiko. She turned around after a few seconds, "Please, walk up here with me."

Mizu stumbled and fell at her voice. Yuki sighed inwardly and helped him to his feet and walked next to Himiko.

She felt like a pauper in her dirty and worn hakama and shirt.

'I'm taller…' she groaned as she glanced at the queen. 'I'm always taller…'

Yuki was a tall girl. She was always a few inches taller than other women. She was even sometimes taller than some men. Yuki was not ugly but she wasn't as beautiful as Himiko.

Yuki had the Fukai green eyes and a fair complexion. She wasn't picky about how she looked, though, because she was a fighter. She was part of the group because she was good with a sword, which was unusual for a girl. It also helped that her grandfather was the one leading the group. He had a soft spot for her.

Her favorite features about herself were her nails, which she kept long, sharp, and very clean, her mid-back length hair, and her breasts. She normally kept them bound tightly, like now, and she liked to compare herself to other girls. She was taller but she had bigger breasts so she didn't feel as bad when she stood next to them.

'Mine are bigger.' She confirmed as she peeked at Himiko.

They got closer to the doors and Himiko stopped. One of the guards walked in front of them and opened the door to the most gorgeous room Yuki had ever seen.

It was large and colorful and had a long table in the middle of it. Everyone looked out of place in the large room, as it was meant to accompany a large number of people and not just the ten travelers. Gold and red were the theme colors for the room. Gold and red seating pads, placemats, and décor accented the room perfectly.

"Her Majesty, Himiko-sama," introduced a maid.

All of the travelers and guards bowed before the queen.

"Please, as you were." She requested, bowing her head regally.

Haru Fukai shot Yuki and Mizuki a sharp look before bowing once more in front of Himiko, "Thank you for finding my run amok grandchildren."

"It was nothing at all, Fukai-san. They are a pleasure," she said with a smile. "I am glad to see that you all arrived unharmed."

"Your kindness is too great, Himiko-sama," replied Fukai humbly. "Our trip was long and perilous, but we managed fine."

"I am pleased," said the young queen. "Please sit, you must all be famished from such a treacherous expedition. I hope you don't mind if I join you myself."

"Of course not, Lady Himiko, it would be an honor," replied the old man.

The maids left the room quietly. The guards stood at the door entrance, two on each side. The weary travelers sat down around the end of the table. Only Himiko, Haru, Mizu, Yuki and Abe were left standing. Abe turned around to leave but Yuki grabbed his sleeve.

She bowed in front of Himiko, "Please, Himiko-sama, may Abe-san stay and eat with us?"

"Of course."

Yuki smiled and let go of Abe's sleeve. He gave her a nervous smile before bowing in front of Himiko.

"Where is Master Waka, milady? I was informed that he was to guard you."

"He is occupied at the moment, Abe-san." Himiko walked gracefully over to the head of the table.

"Ah…" said Abe, disappointment in his eyes.

"Sit next to me, Abe-san." Yuki smiled.

Before Abe, Yuki or Mizu could move, Haru grasped her arm. He beckoned Mizu to come closer as well.

"I don't know what you were doing," said the old man in a strict voice, "but you mustn't play around. We are here on serious business and I would like for you two to not mess this up."

"Sorry, grandfather. We got lost." Yuki mumbled.

He let go of her arm and she rubbed it subconsciously, staring at the ground. Mizu murmured an apology.

"Be more careful," Haru told his grandchildren. They nodded mutely. He pat Yuki on the head and smiled vaguely before going over the table and sitting to the left of Himiko.

Yuki followed quietly. Mizu shrugged at the clueless Abe.

Yuki sat next to the old man, looking over at them and patting the cushion beside her.

Mizu sat two cushions away, leaving a space in the middle for Abe. He took the hint and sat between them, giving the two his crooked smile.

Himiko, Haru and Hiro, a trusted advisor of Atamatchi, were engaged in conversation. Yuki ignored them; they were merely exchanging polite babble, and turned to Abe.

"I hope you don't mind me dragging you into this, Abe-san," she apologized.

"It's nothing at all; I'm glad that you wanted me to stay."

A delicious aroma filled the banquet hall. The servants had arrived with food, and Yuki and Mizu had never smelt anything as tempting as the mouth-watering food that was set in front of them.

The servants placed gold plates on red placemats and red plates on gold placemats. They placed wooden chopsticks next to plates and bowed before leaving the room.

"Please," requested Himiko, "Dig in."

"Don't need to tell me twice," Mizu muttered while breaking his chopsticks in two. He quickly piled up his plate with food.

"Itadakimasu." Yuki whispered as she too broke her chopsticks and gathered food on her plate.

The door opened once again and a beautiful man entered the room. He wore a pink haori with odd puffballs; a flute was loosely tucked in his dark blue hakama. He had a firm jaw line and stunning blue-almost purple-eyes. On his head was a long whitish silver wig that flowed gently as he walked. He was pale, but not an unhealthy pale and he looked very tall on his extra-elevated geta shoes.

He walked over to Himiko, bowed and sat behind her. He leaned forward and whispered something to her. Yuki was only a few feet away but she couldn't hear him. She sighed and took a drink of her tea.

"That's Captain Waka." Abe whispered in her ear.

Yuki spit out her tea and began to cough. She spilled her tea as she tried to set it down on the table and turned red as the man stopped talking and everyone began to stare at her. She couldn't stop coughing and stood up, turning away from the table.

Abe stood up and looked at her helplessly as she coughed. Mizu took another bite of his food and stood up. He slapped her back and she fell, clinging onto his pants and pulling them down. Her hair fell out of its bun and sprawled itself all over her back.

Mizu blushed and yanked up his pants and sat down on his cushion indignantly. Abe helped her up and her coughing began to subside. Haru excused himself and went over to his granddaughter.

"Are you okay, Yukiko?" he asked as he helped her stand. She was wobbling and leaning against Abe.

Yuki wheezed and nodded her head. Her hair stuck to her face. Haru pulled her sleeve and helped her back to her cushion.

"Are you alright, Yukiko-san?" asked Himiko, her brows raised in concern. Everyone continued to stare at her as she nodded, coughing weakly. The beautiful man, Captain Waka, stared at her too.

Yuki blushed furiously. She pushed some of her hair behind her ear and nodded, "Y-yes. Thank you for your concern, Himiko-sama."

Abe sat next to her, "Are you sure?"

Yuki was irritated, "Yes. But I'd feel a lot better if," she raised her voice now, glaring at her traveling companions, "everyone would stop staring at me."

They dropped their gazes quickly and went back to shoveling food in their mouths.

Yuki sighed as a maid cleaned up her spilled tea. She put her head in her hands, her hair concealing her red face.

"Pardon moi, but you dropped this, ma chèrie," said a masculine voice behind her.

Yuki turned her head. Waka was sitting behind her with her hair tie in his hand. He had a small smile on his face. Blond locks peeked from underneath the wig.

"Oh, uh, thanks." She said, turning around on her cushion. She reached out and clasped her fingers around the hair tie in his hand. His was calloused and large and Yuki blushed when her hand brushed against his.

"Thank you," she said again, averting her eyes and coughing softly.

"Are you alright, ma chèrie?" he asked, tilting his head slightly.

'No, I'm not,' Yuki thought. 'I just made a mockery of myself in front of the queen and I've got this sexy beast in front of me. Would anyone be okay in my shoes?'

"Uh, yes. Thank you…" she trailed off, not wanted to be presumptuous and say his name.

"Waka," he introduced. He picked up her hand and kissed her hand lightly. "And who are you, ma chèrie?"

Yuki flushed and felt like putty, "Um, Yuki Fukai. Uh, it's a pleasure to meet you, Waka-sama."

"Please, call me Waka." He requested, letting go of her hand.

"Okay…Waka-san."

"Non, non, cela ne vaut rien, Waka." He corrected, shaking his head.

"W-Waka-kun?" Yuki asked in a quiet voice.

"C'est bonne."

'What the heck is he saying??' Yuki thought uneasily.

"Captain Waka," Waka and Yuki turned to Abe, "Will you be able to train me now?"

"You mustn't be so impatient, Abe." Waka scolded frivolously.

Abe hung his head, "I'm sorry, Captain."

Waka smiled, "But yes, I will be training you soon. In a few days," he assured Abe.

Yuki narrowed her eyes, "You mean 'after the new comers have been inspected.'"

Abe and Waka turned to her in surprise, "Well, yes, if you wish to be blunt."

"Can we watch?" Mizu asked thickly, his mouth full of food. He swallowed and scooted closer to the three.

"Mizuki!" Yuki hissed.

"What?" Mizu protested, "Abe promised to show us the headquarters."

"He did no such thing," she whispered vehemently, glaring at him.

"It's quite alright," Waka said, looking back forth between the two cousins. "Who are you?" he asked as his eyes rested on Mizuki.

"Mizu Fukai," Mizu said proudly.

"I'm sorry for my cousin's insolence, Waka-san." Yuki apologized, bowing. "Abe-san merely mentioned, he never promised."

"Waka," he amended. "And it's fine, the boy hasn't offended me."

'Wow, he's got a big ego, talking like that.' Yuki thought.

"'The boy' has a name and it's Mizu!" Mizu snapped.

"Mizuki, that's enough," rumbled Haru, turning to the four. Himiko looked at them curiously from behind the old man. Hiro looked cross, giving them sour looks from across the table.

"Yes, grandfather." Mizuki mumbled.

"Apologize, boy," barked Haru. Mizu flinched at being called 'boy' again and bowed his head to Waka.

"I'm sorry, Waka…sama."

Haru gave Mizu a sharp look as if to say 'we'll speak of this later' and turned back to Himiko and Hiro.

Mizu turned back to his food angrily and ignored them.

"Um, so Abe-san, can you, uh, braid hair?" Yuki asked, trying to break the awkward silence. She blushed; she hadn't meant to ask such an odd question.

"Huh?"

"Um, yeah, being able to braid hair is uh, very important. Especially if you ride horses," Yuki explained quickly, making up an answer, "because, uh, the horse hair could um, get tangled if you don't."

"Uh…" Abe and Waka stared at her.

"And, um, it's very appealing to women if you can braid their hair!" Yuki finished lamely.

"Is it really?" asked Waka.

"Um, yeah, the horses get irritated-"

"No," he interrupted, "about the women?"

'He's just like every other guy. Beautiful or not, it's all about the women.'

"Oh, uh, yeah! Ladies love it! Um, who better to braid your hair than your man?"

"Would you like it if your boyfriend knew how to braid your hair?" Waka questioned.

Yuki colored, "I don't have a boyfriend, but sure, yeah, I mean, it's uh, very sexy." She said feebly.

"You don't?" asked Abe.

"No. I'm too busy. I help train the young boys in Echigo. I'm pretty good with a sword and I'm okay at martial arts and stuff. Not many guys can handle me." Yuki said, rubbing her head with her hand in embarrassment.

"I'm sure I could." Waka commented offhandedly.

Mizu choked on his food. He coughed loudly, his face turning red from the lack of oxygen. He hit his chest loudly and managed to swallow it down haphazardly.

"Waka-san," Himiko called.

"Oui, Himiko-sama?"

"Come here, please."

'Thank you so much, Himiko-sama,' Yuki thought, gratitude filling her body.

Waka stood up, a frown on his face.

"Um, perhaps we will see each other soon, Waka…kun." Yuki said, secretly hoping the opposite.

"Oh, we will, mà cheriè," He said as he walked away.

"Pardon me, but how can you be so sure?"

He turned to look at her, giving her a self-assured smile, "I have seen it. Au revoir."


Waka sat next to Himiko and closed his eyes as she berated him in fevered whispers.

"Do not play with that girl's emotions, Waka. It is cruel for a man such as yourself to lead her on."

"Whatever do you mean?" he asked coolly.

"You know very well what I mean," scolded Himiko. "It is unkind of you to give her such unwarranted attention. You will break her heart."

"Whoever said it was unwarranted? Perhaps I am attracted to her."

Himiko watched him closely for any signs of deceit. Finding none, she sighed, "If you're going to pursue her then be careful. That girl is no fool."

"I know, Lady Himiko," he said, looking at Yuki. "I know."


Mizu snorted after Waka sat down next to Himiko, "What does he mean 'I have seen it'? I don't like that guy; he's got a big head."

Yuki turned back to the table. Some of the travelers were looking at her and whispering to one another. 'It sucks being the only girl.' She thought morosely as she picked at her food.

"Please do not insult Captain Waka in my presence." Abe said quietly, turning back to the table as well.

"It does seem rather…narcissistic to speak in such a way." Yuki pointed out, equally as quiet.

"Maybe, but he has good reason to."

"He has a good reason for being an ass?" asked Mizu sourly.

Abe shot Mizu a sharp look, "Captain Waka is a prophet. He can see into the future."

"Like a psychic?"

"Mm, no. More like a clairvoyant," said Abe, shaking his head.

"A what?"

"A seer," clarified Yuki as she took a bite of thinly sliced grilled beef.

"So he can see into the future?"

"Yes, it is very useful when fighting enemies."

"Well then, maybe he can see my foot going right up his-"

"I hope that you have all eaten your fill," Himiko said serenely as she stood. Waka was already standing, his eyes looking unfocused as he looked at the table. He stood almost a foot taller than Himiko.

'I wonder how tall he is without the shoes.' Yuki thought.

"The maids will show you to your sleeping quarters in the guest's wing. Tomorrow I will be going with you on a tour of Sei-an. Please sleep well tonight."

"You too, my lady," said Yuki. Himiko gave her a small but dazzling smile as she walked by. Waka trailed behind her and they left the room together.

Yuki and Mizu yawned as servants took the food and dishes away.

"I don't like him." Mizu said flatly, glaring at the door.

"Um, he's…charismatic," Yuki whispered softly.

"You only say that because you think he's cute," Mizu sneered.

Yuki blushed, "Yeah, well, you think Himiko-sama is cute," she turned her head to the side and muttered loud enough for him to hear her say, "and she saw your underwear, too."

Mizu flushed angrily and stood up, "Maybe next time your precious 'Waka-kun,'" he mocked in falsetto, "Will see yours!"

Yuki stood up as well, "Is that a threat, Mizuki?" she asked loudly.

"Ha! You didn't deny that he was yours! Or that he was precious to you!"

Yuki shook her head forlornly and murmured, "You are such a dumb ass. You're just jealous of him."

"I'm not jealous of that pretty boy!" Mizu shot back hotly.

"Enough! Calm down you two," barked Haru.

"She started it." Mizu muttered, kicking at an invisible rock.

He eyed them, "I don't care who started it, I'm finishing it and now it's done. Quit sulking."

"I'm not sulking," griped Mizu.

"That's enough out of you, boy!" said Hiro.

Yuki and Mizu looked over at him and cringed. He wasn't really a pleasant person to look at. He was a grumpy, tight-assed forty-nine year old man. He had a large mole next to his nose, underneath his right eye, and a lip curl that exposed a rotting tooth.

"If you were my grandson," he continued, frowned, "I'd've beaten your ass a long time ago. You too," he added, looking at Yuki. There was a glint in his eye as he looked her over.

Yuki shivered, 'Yeah and you'd enjoy it, too.'

It was known all over Echigo that Hiro had persistently requested Yuki's hand in marriage. Yuki didn't know why; she was taller than him and had and pointedly ignored him or was crude when he was nearby, spitting and burping like the guys. She sometimes even farted too.

"I like 'em feisty." She recalled him telling her grandfather. He had come over for a 'visit' and talked about how lonely he was since his wife had died ten years ago.

"What are you really here for, Hiro-san? You and I are not friends. We are not acquaintances. What have you come for?" Haru asked flatly.

Hiro's lip curled unpleasantly, "I wish to ask for your granddaughter's hand in marriage." He said as he set down his tea.

Haru refused him point-blank and made him leave. After he was banished from the Fukai clan's grounds, Hiro took his plea to Atamatchi, who wanted to take no part in it.

"It is of little importance to me. Who you wish to marry is your plight, not mine." Atamatchi said in a bored tone, leaning his head on his hand and looking out the window.

"Well, it is a good thing that they are my burden and not yours, Hiro-san," said Haru as he stood up, using his voice to hint that the subject should be dropped.

The old men leered at each other. All was quiet, every one of the travelers had stopped talking and they stared at the two.

The door opened and a maid entered the room. She bowed low to the group, "If you will please follow me, I will take you to your rooms."

One by one, everyone slowly walked over to the door and left with the maid. Yuki, Mizu, and Abe stayed in the room, Yuki and Mizu pretending to stretch and yawn.

"A few more minutes together couldn't hurt." Yuki said to Abe with a smile. "I'll just tell them that I had a sneezing fit that left me a little delirious."

"You know, it's sad. They'd really believe her." Mizu snorted.

Yuki looked over to where Waka sat next to Himiko. She noticed something shiny.

"What's this…?" she asked quietly as she picked up a flute.

Abe pointed to the flute and exclaimed loudly, "That's Captain Waka's flute!"

Yuki turned the flute around in her hands, "It's beautiful," she said softly. 'A beautiful instrument and a beautiful man….I wonder if he plays just as beautiful as he looks.'

"I don't know if I'll see him tomorrow…" Abe said uneasily.

Yuki clenched onto the flute, "I think I'll see him tomorrow. Himiko-sama is going on the tour with us, so maybe he will be there too."


"That fraud!" Mizu said angrily as they walked of the banquet room.

"'We will see each other again, I have seen it.' Of course you will! He has to be with Himiko tomorrow!"

Yuki and Abe stared at him as he ranted, "I bet he left that flute on purpose!"

"Captain Waka is not so careless," said Abe coldly as he brushed past them.

Mizu rubbed his arm and looked away, "I'm sorry, Abe. He just makes me so mad."

Abe sighed, "I don't mind if you dislike him. I would just appreciate it if you wouldn't demean him in front of me."

"Demean?" whispered Mizu to Yuki.

"Belittle," she whispered back.

She caught up to Abe and hooked her arm around his. He raised his eyebrows in surprise.

Yuki smiled, "I want to see you again soon, Abe-kun. Are you busy tomorrow?"

Pink tinged his cheeks, "Um, I am busy in the morning. But perhaps we can meet in the evening?"

"Where?"

"Well, there's a small spring to the left of the entrance of the palace. You can see the sun set on the water there. It is a beautiful place."

"Are there fish?" Yuki asked.

"Yes, many. In fact-"

"Can we go fishing?" Yuki pleaded, getting in his face and giving him puppy eyes.

Abe stepped back, his face getting a little redder because of her proximity, "I-if you'd like to."

"I would love to. I love fishing." She replied as the entered the elevator.

"Hey, Yuki, give me the flute." Mizu said, holding out his hand as the elevator doors closed.

'This is so weird,' Yuki thought, beginning to feel green when the elevator went down.

"N-no," she stuttered. 'I shouldn't have eaten so much.'

"Why do you want it anyway?" she asked, recovering a little.

"I'll give it to him. He left it on purpose so you would give it to him," he said, eyeing her calmly and holding out his hand.

'He's right. I think he did it on purpose.'

"I'll give it to you tomorrow," she said slowly, "because I don't trust you with it. And when either of us spot him, I'll give it to you, fair?"

"…Fair," he agreed.

The elevator jerked to a stop and Yuki almost fell, again. "I'm getting the hang of this," she declared with a wobbly grin.

The Fukai cousins followed Abe to the guest wing, where a maid greeted them with a smile.

"Fukai-san said they were missing a few, again," she said with a knowing smile. "Please come with me," She turned around into the long hallway.

"This is where I leave you." Abe stated, stopping at the doors.

Yuki looked disappointed but she gave him a sweet smile. "Until tomorrow, Abe-kun," she reminded as she hugged him.

"See ya around," Mizu grinned with his two-fingered salute.

"Good night Mizu-san, Yuki-san." Abe said as he walked away.

"No, you call me 'Yuki-chan', kay? We're good friends now, Abe-kun." Yuki corrected, walking backwards.

"Good night, Yuki-chan," Abe amended softly.

"'Night," the cousins said in unison and trailed after the maid.


"Well, it was an interesting day, wasn't it?" Yuki yawned.

"Mm," confirmed Mizu.

The maid stopped at a door. "Young mistress, your room is here."

"Thank you," Yuki yawned as she opened the door. "Good night."

"'Night."

"Good night," said the maid as she led Mizu to his room.


Yuki's luggage lay next to her futon. She took off her clothes and bindings and hastily put on a yukata. She blew out the candles that were lit around the room and fell asleep quickly, Waka's flute clenched in her hand.


I'm so sorry! That was terribly long. I hope it wasn't boring. I tried to make it funny. That is the longest chapter I have ever written. I probably won't do it again. I just wanted to hit the 5,000 word mark •.•

If I wrote something that you didn't understand, Japanese, French, or English, please mention it in the review.

If I have grammar mistakes, show me and tell me what they are because people tell me that I have them all the time but I don't know where and what's wrong. I'm not very good at catching my own mistakes.

By the way, PLEASE REVIEW!!! They make my happiness bubble pop. •pop•

Spread the randomness, my friends,

The randomness that blooms in the forever-dark abyss…

-dani

March 11, 2008

Tahoma size 10, 19 pages????? words. (I can never tell. I'll look it up on Word, but then FF tells me something different.)

Oops, almost forgot the disclaimer:

OkAmI iS nOt MiNe.