~*~Afterthoughts of an Adventure~*~

~*~Lily and Chichiri~*~

Lily stared out the window of her and Chichiri's home. The sun was setting quickly. She smiled. Her life turned out very different than what she though. People claimed to have their lives changed by a book, but never in the way hers was.

She turned away from the window and went to the living room where her twin sons sat in their playpen. Toru had a rubber ball while Toshiro built a tower of blocks. She smiled at them.

One adventure changed my life…

I was on my own a lot when I was young. Even before my parents died, I preferred to fend for myself…I didn't like having people around. Jason was the only one who ever got much out of me. We were sorta alone together.

Then along came Kei and Taki. I've never met anyone like them to this day. They're both so different from everyone else. I liked it.

I called Taki a wuss a lot when we were younger, but I never gave her enough credit. She can defend herself as well as I can. I always asked her where she learned…she would just smile and say there was no way she could grow up with people like Jason, Kei and me and not learn something.

Kei was…I don't know what to call her…she's incredible, an amazing survivor. I wish I dealt with life as well as she did. Okay…so maybe she didn't deal with problems well, but it was better than me.

I lashed out at people after my parents died. I hated the world. I hated myself. I blamed myself. I thought no one understood. I was with people, but I was still alone. I separated myself from everyone. I couldn't stand to be truly close to anyone. I knew no one would believe me if I told them what I saw in the fire. Saying I saw my parents dead would have landed me in therapy for the rest of my life…saying I saw a giant phoenix would have landed me in the asylum for the rest of my life…

And then Konan came along. I never believed in real magic growing up. It was a shock for me to be told something like that existed. A world in a book? No way…I didn't believe it till I saw it. Then I saw it. I had to believe it. The people I met there were too strange to be real. But they were. That eventually got proved to me when we came back…

I was in shock when I found out Taka was a seishi like he claimed. And Miaka was a priestess? Whatever… Nuriko nearly had me think he was a woman, but when you live in the real world you learn to tell the difference. Hotohori was strange. I never met royalty before, but he wasn't what I envisioned royalty to be like. Tasuki was like a male version of Kei. He was just as loud and obnoxious as Kei could be, but he did, surprisingly enough, have a sensitive side too.

Chichiri was even more unbelievable. I thought he was always smiling. He looked like it any way. His height ranged from almost 6 feet to around 3…it was kinda funny.

I never would have guess he understood how I felt. I remember seeing his scar for the first time. He was like me. He lived with a mistake he made in the past.

He was the first one I told. I dunno why I didn't think I could trust anyone. Did I not think they'd understand? Did I worry they'd think less of me? Did I prefer to remain stoic and never break down in front of them? Did I not want them to see the real me? Yes, yes, yes and yes…

Then Chichiri…it felt right to tell him my problems and Good Lord did I have a lot. I wasn't afraid to cry in front of him. He trusted me too. He told me about the hell he'd gone through when he was younger. He was more like me than I thought. I let all my pent up anguish out on him. He stayed quiet and listened and comforted me.

He went from my emotional punching bag to the man I fell in love with. It really happened when Jason came. He said I had to come back to the United States…funny…when did I stop calling it home? My biological family was there, so wasn't that the place I should have called home? But I suppose I stopped caring what they felt about me and only concerned myself with the new family I had.

Painful memories flooded back to me that day. It wasn't anything I wanted to remember, but I had to. I had to see the people and the life I ran away from. I found solace in the blue haired monk. Then more I did, the more I realized he was more than a friend to me.

I wonder when he fell in love with me. It couldn't have been in Konan, could it? He was a monk. He shouldn't have had interest in women, right? Then again, I should never underestimate the power of male hormones…

I remember the night we told each other we loved each other. I felt so much lighter. The burdens of my past weren't so heavy anymore. There was someone who cared…someone to help me. I was never really alone, I just felt like it. Though now I could see everything I missed before.

I'm not really one to get emotional about things…or even talk about things that could get like that, but I guess I can't deny how much I'm in love with my monk. I know…it seems ridiculous…a regional martial arts champ and a monk from China? Doesn't that sound like the most unlikely couple? But then again, stranger things have happened.

I saw a lot of change in my friends too. Taki understood that there was someone out there for her now that Hotohori was in her life, Kei worked though her life with Tasuki's help and Jason…I saw Jason in a new light because of his time with Nuriko. I hate to admit it, but I always thought Jason was a little shallow. It didn't seem like he'd ever settle with one person. But Nuriko…I knew the truth about Nuriko and of course I couldn't tell him…all I could do was watch as they became such a devoted couple.

I honestly thought once we were back in Konan there would be no more Jason and Nuriko. Why would my womanizer of a cousin still love someone who wasn't a woman? But Jason sees things deeper than I thought. Jason fell in love with Nuriko for who he was, not what. And they're still together now.

I've asked myself time and again why people get into wars. Power, revenge, money, religion? I guess they're all strong reasons, but I just have to wonder. Power and money can be achieved on your own, so can revenge…it doesn't need to involve thousands of people. And religion? Well, I've never been a spiritual person. I don't know if I believe in a higher power. To me, fighting over religion is like fighting over who has the better imaginary friend. I know it's important to people, but my beliefs aren't strong enough to help me understand it. Maybe I should ask Chichiri about it. He did devote his life to Suzaku after all.

I hate war. I hate the people who think it's the only way to get things done. But…it still happens…people die. Kei died. I was losing my family all over again…I was in denial for a couple of days. I'd ask Chichiri to find her for me. He wouldn't know what to say. I did accept that she was gone later. Then she popped up again. I don't get it. Kei survives everything. Nothing will ever hold her back. I should learn from her. She's quite an example to have.

She looked at her sons one more time before going into the kitchen. Chichiri would be home from work soon. He was a doctor in a clinic downtown. Lily took a bottle of aspirin out of a cabinet. She knew he'd come home with a headache.

She filled a glass with water and took the glass and painkillers to a table near the door. Unhappy cries drew her attention. She sighed when she saw what had happened.

Toshiro was upset because Toru threw the ball and hit his block tower. Toru wanted his ball back.

"What am I gonna do with you two?" She handed Toru the ball back and made him happy. Toshiro wouldn't quiet down until she picked him up. "Shhh…it's okay sweetie…" The tiny boy looked down at his brother from his mother's arms and glared at him, well as much as a 1 year old could glare… "You two are impossible…"

A quiet click of the door lock was drowned out by Toshiro's slight crying. "Boys being troublesome again, no da?" Lily turned to see her husband in his work clothes with the glass in his hand, drained of water. She smiled. Even out of Konan, he still spoke with his interesting accent.

"They're just being themselves." They sat on the couch together. "Headache again?"

Chichiri leaned his head on her free shoulder. "Is there ever a day I've said no to that, no da?" He looked exhausted.

"I guess not." She moved Toshiro into one arm and wrapped the other around him. "Care to share?"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chichiri silently thanked his gods for his wife. She stood by him through everything. She was the one who understood how he felt about his past. She'd been through the same. He sighed deeply. "Long day, no da…"

"You had to give a kid a shot didn't you? I know you hate it when they cry." She giggled.

"I don't understand why they have to scream so loud, no da…"

"They're kids…it's what they do." She shook her head. "Should we find another doctor for the boys, since I'm assuming you don't want to make them scream?"

"Couldn't hurt…" He closed his eyes as Toshiro stopped crying.

One adventure changed my life…

I practiced magic under Tai Itsukun…I understood the destiny I had because of being a seishi…I retained the scars of my past as my own way of dealing with it…I thought I was okay with my self…it took me a while to understand love again though…

Because Yui and Miaka were the only girls, well people, I'd ever seen from the miko's world, I was under the impression that they were typical people. Turned out neither one was really normal. Then again, there is no real normal. Kei, Taki and Lily certainly changed my perception of miko's world people. I knew there was something different about them from the moment I saw them. Their spirits seemed tired, as if they'd been through a lot but refused to show it…

Kei had an aura of power that wasn't even human. Turned out it wasn't. To the trained eye, she always seemed to be fighting with an unknown power. She couldn't tell anyone either. At least, that was the way she felt. She almost took her secret to the grave…

Taki had a painful past that she dealt with by closing herself off to people. No…I shouldn't say that…she was somewhat open, she had friends who knew her troubles…I suppose it wasn't until Hotohori came that she opened herself up to a level beyond friendship…

And Lily…even now, I can't describe what I thought of her at first. First impressions said that she was a rebel but she maybe had some unresolved issues. She was close to her friends, but something kept her from being completely open and honest about her past. I just didn't buy having the glove as simply fashion. Fashion takes a break once in a while, but I never saw her take it off. She even slept with it on. I couldn't even begin to fathom what she hid.

It didn't take all that long to learn…

The scar on her hand was as bad as the scar on my face. It was her private penance for what she believed had been her fault. She never told anyone because all they would say is that she had nothing to do with it…people don't understand that that doesn't help until you accept it yourself. She trusted me enough to tell me for some reason. Perhaps she knew I understood what it's like to be mad and do things you didn't intend to? Was there a part of her and a part of me that knew we could find comfort in each other? Maybe, maybe not. It could have been a mere coincidence but you must take into account the gods that love to play with the lives of mortals.

Lily's world came crashing down on her when her family appeared here. I know Jason didn't want to hurt her, he tried to be gently about it, but I still wanted to kill him when I saw Lily's pain. I wanted to make her pain leave, but all I could really do was stay by her and wait out the storm with her. So many nights, she would sit in her room and cry. I'd come in and stay with her till it was over. She often told me she wouldn't know what to do without me. I felt a sense of completion knowing someone needed me in a way that didn't involve magic. It was to me as a person she showed her vulnerable side to.

Our relationship quickly moved from simply comforting friendship to more. I was confused though. After a doomed romance and 3 years of Nya-nyas and Tai Itsukun why on earth did I still have a strong attraction to women? Well, I suppose I was a monk, but certain thoughts reminded me I was still a living, breathing man.

I was in love with her and I felt as though I'd go insane soon if I didn't tell her. So eventually we told each other. I thought back to my late fiancée and wondered if things would go better this time…after all, my marriage had been arranged before and we hadn't really been in love. The love had felt for my fiancée was different than what I had for Lily. Don't get me wrong, I loved my fiancée, but it originated from a piece of paper and became stronger. My love for Lily came from the heart. I truly loved her whereas I imagine if I had been married, the love would have come after the marriage.

As a seishi, I had to fight against Kutou…why can't we ever be at peace with them? What made Nakago think everything he did was right and that entailed destroying us? Had we wronged him in a past life? He seemed to think that he was entitled to the power inside Kei when in fact the power belonged to no one in particular. If nothing else, we all belonged to her.

I remember the look on Lily's face when Kei died. She looked like a lost child…I didn't know what to say. She told me later it felt like she was losing her family again. All I could do was sit with her and let her cry. For as much as I loved her, I felt so useless. I was at such a loss to do something for her.

A week later, I felt the strangest sensation during the night. Something happened that I don't think should have. But strange things happen when emotions mix with destiny. Nozomi was deeply affected by Kei's emotions and changed things so they'd be right again. When we woke up, Kei was alive and well. We'll never know what happened that night, but it doesn't matter too much either. The past is past and we're okay.

I'm enjoying life for once…

"Chichiri?" Lily poked her husband lightly. "Are you that sleepy?"

He opened his eyes. "Uh-huh."

"Then get up to bed. I'll put the boys to bed then come join you."

"Okay, no da." He kissed her lightly and went upstairs.

Lily smiled and stood up. She picked up Toru and carried the two upstairs. They went to sleep surprisingly fast. She turned off the light and went to join Chichiri.

He seemed to already asleep on the bed. She shook her head and smiled again. "Didn't even wait, huh?"

He moved a little. "I'm tired, no da. What do you want me to do?"

"Find better hours." She slipped into bed with him. "But we'll talk about that when you aren't half asleep."

"Thanks." He fixed the pillow under his head.

"Good night, Chichiri." She leaned over and kissed his forehead.

"Good night, Lily." He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer.

The fighter turned wife/mother snuggled closer to her monk turned husband/father and fell asleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            How will Toru and Toshiro grow up? Even as twins they still have grow up different, don't they?

            Okay, now I'm really done with this one. I swear I'm not touching it again unless I made some big mistake I need to correct. That's it. I'm done. If you want more, go read the sequel. Hope to see you there!

            ~*~Shadow Hawk~*~

5/11/03