Title: Echoes
Author: Celyia (ladycelyia@aol.com)
Genre: Angst / Romance
Rating: PG-13 (Loooots of bad language but nothing else really offensive)
Disclaimer: Yuu Watase and minions own it all. I am only borrowing them for a couple minutes.
Distribution: Feel free. Just drop me a line so I know where it's going!
Feedback: Please. It keeps me going and keeps me writing
Notes: Naaaah, I don't hate Tama-kins. In fact, I adore him but I love writing unconventional couple pairings more. Oh, and I was feeling weird when I wrote this so my writing style is way different than usual. Sorry about that!



It came out of nowhere and crashed into the night, the clanging sound echoing through the beautifully manicured garden that lined the inner walls of the palatial estate.

"What the hell was that for?"

"You tell me," the soft voice, reverberating with hard hostility as she heard the shuffling of feet just beyond the bushes. The girl pulled her knees tightly to her chest, too emotionally weary to move even as the person who had caused her distress tonight stood just feet away.

"Butt out, you damn drama queen."

"Butt out? I will the second you stop acting like a spoiled little boy and start being a man…"

"A man? Heh. You are really one to tell me this…"

"Grow up, Tamahome. What the fuck is wrong with you? Don't you see what you are doing to her?"

Quietly, she sat in the shadows, her breaths coming harder and faster as she listened to the two men… men she considered in her heart to be a part of her family… argue over her.

"Guys…" Miaka whispered weakly, but they seemed to be oblivious to her soft voice. They'll stop in a minute anyway, she rationalised hopefully as she realised that she wanted neither to see her crying in the dark. Miaka was at a loss why, but it seemed so incredibly important that neither saw her in her weakness. No, she would get herself together first and then…

"Don't see how that is any of your business…"

"This is Miaka. That makes it my business, damn you."

"Fuck off. I don't have time to deal with this…"

"Then make time. You keep hurting her like this, Tamahome. It seems to happen every fucking night. Every night we all see her in tears because of something you said or you did and every morning we see her forgive you."

"Nuriko, I'm warning you…"

"What are you going to do, Tama-kins? What? Break my heart too?"

"No, I'll just leave that to Hotohori."

"Oooo. Was that supposed to hurt me?"

"Shut up."

Silence now.

"You are killing her. Look at her, Tama. Look how pale she is. Look how often she cries. What happened to her optimism? Her cheerfulness? I mean, how fucked up is her life, Tama. And it still hasn't broken her. Throw obstacle after bloody obstacle at her and the girl would hurdle them with a smile. But now, it's all changing. It's almost as if her very life is being sucked out from her. "

"What the fuck is your problem, girlie-boy? Why…"

"I'll tell you what my fucking problem is. You. You are breaking her. Better than Yui or Nakago ever could. You are hurting her so badly every day that sooner or later, that girl isn't going to bounce back like you expect. What the hell is going on with you? Why are you pushing her away? Tamahome, what is going on in that thick head of yours?"

"I don't want this, Nuriko," Tamahome sighed, the very softness of his voice burning a hole through the girl's heart.

"What? What don't you want?"

"To be with her… No, don't look at me like that. You know I love her. I love her more than life itself. But…it's not enough. It will never be fucking enough. I'm not in love with her, Nuriko. I love her so goddamn much but I'm not in love with her. I don't think I ever have been."

"Coward."

"What the fuck…?"

"You heard me. You fucking coward. You aren't in love with her. Hey, that happens. But you don't even have the balls to tell her? So instead, you push and you pull until Miaka is dizzy with confusion and the tears. You hurt her so bad so you don't have to deal. How can you actually claim to love her? How dare you?"

"This from the guy who has repeatedly made Miaka's life a living hell because she had the unfortunate experience of having the guy you like fall for her? This is fucking priceless…"

"This isn't about me and Miaka. This is about your own cowardliness. This is about you not wanting to be a man and take responsibility for your actions. This is about you, Tamahome. This whole thing isn't because she's doing anything to upset you, it's because you are too weak to tell her the truth so you hurt her over and over again until the point where even she will give up. But at that point, you would have killed something infinitely special, infinitely precious, infinitely beautiful and all Miaka. All this because…"

"So when did it happen, Nuriko?"

Silence.

"Not going to answer me, are you? And you call me the coward."

"I'm…"

"Save it, girlie-boy. Just save it. Can't you even admit it? Or are you too stupid to even realise it yourself?"

Long silence.

"I think it started the night I sent her out to find the missing earring. Do you remember that, Tamahome?"

"The night you nearly got her killed? Oh, no. I had completely forgotten about your attempt to humiliate her by sending her, in the dark, to find an earring that didn't even exist."

"I knew she'd fall in, Tama, but I never thought… not for a moment… she'd be in danger. I would have never…I was jealous of her, but I…"

Choked breath.

"Hey, hey. Girlie-boy… Nuriko… I know. It's… Man…"

"Sorry."

"Don't have a handkerchief on me…"

"It's okay. Look, Tama, it sounds so flippant to say now, but I really… I really…"

"I know. And even more importantly, she knows it too. She even knew it then."

Soft chuckle.

"She did, didn't she? It was amazing. She was amazing. I mean, I had thought she was this little spoiled brat with absolutely no backbone. It killed me inside to look at her and realise that this was the creature He had chosen. But that night… I saw it. I saw it for the very first time. You know… "

"Yeah."

"I knew why he wanted her. And I knew, at that moment, she was actually more worthy of him than I was. To admit that…"

Silence.

"You get the idea."

"I don't wanna, but…"

"You think that this is an easy thing to admit to? You think I want to feel this? Oh, come off of it, Tamahome! I don't know how it happened… I never thought it was even possible…"

"But you managed to fall in love with her anyway. What about Hotohori? What about…" rustle of clothing "…this?"

"What about being gay, you mean?"

Silence.

"I don't know. I am, you know. And I'm not. This is the most messed up thing I've ever felt in my entire life. Since … well, for a while now, I've always thought that I was a woman. Hey! Don't look at me like that. You know what I mean. Gods. Moron. I meant I felt as if I was a woman trapped in a man's body, but now… As stupid as it sounds, I'm not so sure… If I'm truly a woman in a man's body, then why the hell is it that I want her to love me more than anything else I've ever wanted in my life- even Hotohori?"

Silence.

"Yeah, okaaaaay."

"Tama?" Pause. "How did you know?"

"I didn't. Not until right now, anyway."

"You mean…? Damn."

"Yeah. Don't play poker, Nuriko."

"I'll keep that in mind."

Silence.

"So what now?"

"What do you mean, 'What now?' This changes nothing."

"Heh. This changes everything. Way is cleared for you, Nuriko… What I want to know now is what the hell you are going to do with it."

The wind sang through the leaves as the girl sat in the shadows, her face stricken with shock and emotion as she listened to the soft echoes of their breathing.

"Nuriko?"

"Yes?"

"Look, I don't mean to give you a hard time. But dammit, it's Miaka we are talking about. I may not be able to be what she wants me to, but I still love that kid with all my heart and don't want to see her hurt. Not again. Nuriko… you're like my big brother. Um. Sister? Whatever. … I don't want to see you hurt either. I just don't know about this."

"About what?"

"About…"

"Oh, Tamahome. Don't be stupid. You are forgetting one very important thing. You may not love her like that, but Miaka definitely loves you."

"But it's over…"

"Maybe, but she won't forget that easily… And even if she did. Aw, fuck. It doesn't matter."

"Yeah, it does."

Frustrated sigh.

"Look at me, Tamahome. I'm a freak. Hotohori tried his damnedest to get her to fall for him but it didn't work. Hotohori. I mean, a nicer guy never existed! You know that. And here I am- Nuriko the Cross-Dresser. Scratch that. The extraordinarily strong and beautiful Nuriko, but a cross-dresser all the same. I've harassed her. I've hurt her. I've mocked her and teased her. How could I possibly…? It's so stupid. I can't believe I'm stupid enough to even think of it."

"You'd never really hurt her though…"

"…I once told her that love can transcend anything, even differences in sexual orientation. What I would give for that to be true…"

"Um, Nuriko?"

"What?"

"You're a man."

"Oh, yeah. Just kind of used to thinking of myself the other way. Habit, I guess."

Snort.

"Girlie-boy."

"Moron."

Gentle chuckling.

Silence.

"If you hurt her, I'll kill you."

"Funny. I was just about to say the same to you."

"As far as I'm concerned, she'll never know. I'll never tell her, Tamahome…"

"Surprising. You don't seem to be big on noble sacrifice thing."

"I have my moments."

"Uh huh."

"When are you going to tell her?"

"Huh?"

"That you aren't in love with her."

"After this is over, I think."

"Why wait?"

"She has enough things to worry about right now. And… well, maybe things will change."

Disgusted snort.

"What? What's that look for?" Pause. "Oh, come on. You can't expect me to tell her this now?"

Gently.

"Do you think it will hurt less to be told later? Who knows when, if ever, this will be settled, Tamahome. Whether it be two days or two years down the road, she will be just that much fonder of you. There are just some things you can't avoid, no matter how much you wish to Suzaku you could… and this, I think, will end up being one of them."

Deep sigh.

"I'll think about it."

"Do."


***



She leaned against the wall, her hand clutched over her heart in an instinctive bid to keep the pounding that echoed in her ears silent as she listened to them walk away..

Nuriko? Miaka wondered as she leaned her head against the cool marble of the pillar. Trembling, she rubbed at her eyes with the back of her fist, uncertain what to do now.

It was too damn confusing, that's what! she growled silently as she pushed herself to her feet. She didn't know what was more mind-boggling: the fact Tamahome wasn't in love with her or that Nuriko was.

Distractedly, she wandered through the courtyard, uncertain as to whether she were avoiding the two men or seeking them out.

"Miaka?"

Plastering a small smile onto her face, the priestess looked up into the worried visage of the man she had long told herself she loved.

"Tamahome."

"We need to talk," the words just seemed to burst from his mouth.

She closed her eyes for a moment, a sudden flash of acceptance and peace surging through her veins. Unbidden, an image of the violet-eyed seishi wavered before her in the darkness. He really did have the most beautiful eyes.

Nuriko. The tingly warm feeling that had laid hidden so long in her heart echoed throughout until every pore of her body resounded with the knowledge that this is the way it should be. "Yes. We do."






Author's Note: I'm just adding a fic to the Miaka/Nuriko category. Wish I could think of a happier ending, but this seemed to fit best. Oh, well!