Disclaimer: However much I wish it, I do not own the Tales of the Otori or any characters in them. They belong to Lian Hearn.

The girl lay in her mother's arms, tears running down her face. Her heart aching from grief but also her relief at the fact that even if all else was lost she had her mother to comfort her and take care of her while she needed. Otori Miki had been through so much, she had grown strong but there was so much that was still missing in her life.

Miki was the younger twin. The second. The one that was often overlooked, but did not mind. The one that would have been killed had not her father intervened. She was lucky. She had survived.

Her sister and father had both perished and now she had an elder brother to become accustomed to. Maya had told her about his existence and she accepted this, but never had she even guessed that he would be a constant factor throughout her stay at Terayama temple. It was awkward, knowing that he shared some of the same blood as her but also knowing that he was one of the reasons she was in so much pain. She and Hisao had spoken little and would not for a long while. There were so many things to still keep them apart.

However, she did not spend as much time dwelling on her newfound brother than grieving over her father and sister.

She missed her father incredibly. For his protection, for his love, for his guidance and simply for his presence – as the person who would protect and comfort her and her sister throughout everything. He had been her safety net, something she could always turn to, and now he was gone leaving her vulnerable and uncertain. He was the certain parent; her mother had loved her, yes, but her love had always been marred by uneasiness of her twin daughters. Takeo had been so much to her and she missed him greatly, but he was still the lesser – if only slightly – of her two great losses.


Maya was her superior. But her equal at the same time. The leader but the follower. She had been everything to Miki. Someone to confide in, someone who would never disappoint her. A constant.

The relationship between the twins had been so strong. There was the knowledge that only the other could understand what one was going through – because they each were in the same circumstance. They had their own psychic link through which they could sense each other, they thought together, they laughed together, they were ill together. And in a way they died together.

Miki was unsure how to act without her sister. Maya had always been the one in charge as the elder. The one who made most of the decisions. The one who got most of the attention whether it was bad or good; while Miki was in the shadows, noticed but not nearly so much. She was able to escape this arrangement when she and Maya were separate; she was able to flourish and gain confidence in herself on her own. But even though her confidence had grown she had still relied on Maya a great deal and now felt even more unsteady without both her and their father.

In some ways she was angry at Maya. Angry at her for leaving, angry at her for taking in the cat spirit which drew them apart, angry that Maya had not considered her trust in the ghost woman Yutsetsu who's, motives turned out to be wrong. But Maya was her twin and there was nothing that could overcome that however much people might try.

Of course now Maya was gone Miki may no longer be feared because of being a twin. There were no longer two of them who looked them same, just the one. She could be thought of as Shigeko was; the daughter of the late Lord Otori and his wife. But these things did not matter to Miki. She had grown used to the constant fear and mistrust of her and her sister, and even if she had not, she would much rather have had Maya alive and be feared than have Maya dead and not.

Maya was her other half.

Her father was her guidance.

At first she had thought the pain of losing her father and sister would cause her to go insane or die herself, but as the weeks went by she found that she was still alive and with her mind intact. She had grown strong over the weeks of not knowing where her sister and father were – when Takeo was visiting the Emperor and when Maya had run away back to Hisao – and her spirit had hardened and refined to give her an opinion that was both wise and uncertain. She could survive but not with confidence.

She needed someone else.

And her mother was now here.

All these things filled her mind as she embraced her mother in the spot where her losses had occurred, and as Kaede whispered in her ear that she loved her and would be there to take care of her no matter what happened, she felt her grief – not leave her, no it would always be there – but lessen slightly; enough to whisper back to her mother:

"I love you too. We will weather this together."

Okay that's my second one. Many thanks to all who read and reveiwed the first and I hope you will do the same for this. This one is the one I feel particularly strongly for as I am a younger twin myself and therefore - although my twin is alive and well - I was able to relate to a lot of what Miki may have been feeling.

I hope you will enjoy it.

Plz R&R