Author's Note: Hey people, sorry for being a week overdue, but this chapter just didn't seem right. I changed my ideas a couple bazillion times before I got this one. Because of complaints of how all of my chapters seemed to have the same beat, I wanted this to be different. It may seem like a filler chapter to most; it may as well be. But it has its reasons. Remember to keep R&Ring. My wall of totally awesome people is growing steadily on my profile page. Updates on my progress are kept there as well.--xxAwesomeLucyxx

The next morning, I didn't even bother to go downstairs. Rain always seemed to get worse before it got better and that was what the weather was like. God damned rain poured from the heavens as if the Merciful Goddess herself had decided to throw our world into the "Noah's Ark" sort of situation that Christians believe in. Other than that, there was nothing. No laughter or talking floated up the stairs to creep under my door. Just the pitter-patter of water splashing against the glass and the smell of Gojyo's disgusting cigarettes seeping into my nostrils.

The yawn I let escape from my lips was involuntary. I was exhausted from trying to read into what had happened the night before. For once, I was actually happy for the excuse to lounge around and do absolutely nothing. Lei didn't try to get me out of my room. However, when I left to use the bathroom, I almost tripped on a plate of sweet cakes and fruit she had obviously left for me.

That little act showed me that the youkai woman was angry but willing to forgive. I just had to make the first move. And I hated it. It had been years since I had to truly think about how to fix the stupid mistake of hurting someone's feelings. I have never given a damn about what Gojyo thought, but the look on Goku or Hakkai's faces sometimes made a hand clench around my heart. With them, though, all I had to do was ruffle some hair or offer to do the grocery shopping.

Lei was a completely different matter.

For one, she had never been easy to deal with. One minute she was a little girl crying over a dog she had seen village boys beating to death and the next a fiery youkai blazing with an unquenchable thirst for justice. The woman now was a walking enigma. Lei seemed to have some of the same habits like unconsciously tugging and twirling her hair or quietly singing (quite badly) when she thought she was alone. But I had noticed new things about her too, things that I'd rather Lei not have the need to do. She clicked her teeth together when asked a question she'd prefer to not answer and her yellows eyes darted around constantly, looking for something lurking behind every shadow.

The worst thing had to be the silence. From what I'd learned from my own limited experience and listening to Gojyo, most women would have jumped on the opportunity to tell their life story. The youkai definitely didn't fit in to the 'most women' category, but she still was a lot less talkative than I remembered her to be. And to be honest, I missed listening to her drone on and on about random things like she had done when we were younger. I'd realized long ago that she only did it because she too hated the soul consuming silence. It must have engulfed her every day while at home with her horrible family, and speaking to herself eased the dull roar that comes with being alone. When she didn't try to sing, Lei's voice could be one of the most soothing things in the world.

So the fact that she had yet to tell me what had happened to her during the time we were separated worried me more than if she would come crying to me. Tears could be dealt with one way or another. But there is no way to break the silence without doing it yourself. It might be good for you to talk. You never say anything to us. Maybe it will be easier with someone that is from your past. The two of you should catch up. Hakkai's voice floated into my mind. His unusually choppy sentences made sure that I understood everything. No confusion about the point he was trying to get across. The healer wanted me to open up about my past to Lei.

And I was too scared to do it.

No, I thought, too scarred. If she knew what I did to people, human and youkai alike, she'd probably never look at me the same way again.

"Hold nothing," I murmured to myself, pulling out a cigarette. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't let go of the guilt and the memories. And most of all, I couldn't let go of her. I'd finally started getting over my past, or at least ignoring it, when we showed up in town. Now that I knew Lei was still alive, I was permanently anchored to the earth.

My existence seemed to rest solely on the people in my life that I had grabbed on to so tightly. The three guys had accepted me for the cranky, hypocritical, murderous monk that I am because they too had their deadly flaws. Lei might not take so kindly to the new me. After all, the boy she knew, however stubborn and mean, was still just an innocent boy, unstained by blood and real hatred.

I let out a stream of smoke.

These past two days had changed something inside me and I couldn't deny it. It was strange to contemplate life as everyone thought I should being a Buddhist Sanzo. "Hold nothing." I repeated.