Disclaimer: Yuu Watase owns everything. :-)
Note: By the bye, if you havent gotten to Evil Tamahome yet, rid further only at risk of spoilers. Tell me what you think of this baby, eh? :-)
She kneeled next to the barred door, her head cupped in her bleeding hands.
"I can't forgive you for this, Hoto- I mean, Emperor. I wish I could, but I can't," she whispered, her head raising just long enough to see the blood tracks running down wooden door's face- a testament to the priestess's struggle to break out of her makeshift prison.
The time for tears was over, Miaka decided as she slowly rose to her feet, the dagger he had left her for protection long forgotten. Her brown eyes filled with a stubborn determination, Miaka took a quiet step back from the storage-room door.
The worst thing of all, she thought as she flung herself against the door, only to cry out in agony as she felt her dislocated shoulder crack again.
"The worst thing of all is knowing I could have loved you, you bastard. I could have loved you," she grimaced as she pulled herself back up to her feet. I was better off, she thought as she braced herself for the pain of another attempt to break the door down, when my entire life revolved around school and making Mom happy.
With a snarl of rage, she charged towards the solid wood, only to trip and stumble into a strong pair of arms as the door swung open.
"You killed him," Miaka whispered, her heart dropping towards the floor as she found she didn't have the strength to look at the man. The overwhelming stench of blood flooded her senses, leaving her fighting every instinct to gag.
"Yes," Tamahome smirked, his eyes lighting up with pleasure as he watched the girl's face darken then pale with shock and confusion. "I most certainly did."
Have you ever felt as though time just stopped? Run, but you won't go anywhere. Scream, but the sounds won't leave your throat. You can see so clearly for everything just came together. For once, you understand.
But it's not worth a damn. It's just not enough.
It could never be.
I could smell the blood on his hands. It's almost funny in a way. I wouldn't have even needed to have my eyes open, although my senses have never really been particularly sharp.
But, you see, he reeked of it.
I looked into the gloating eyes of the man I thought I had loved, only to find that I had to bite back a scream. I can't explain it, but I knew he told the truth.
He had killed Hotohori.
Funny, really. It was as if he had killed Time as well.
I don't know how long I stood there, trying not to throw up as that terrible odour assaulted my senses.
Hotohori was dead?
There was just no way it could be possible.
Not him. Oh, god. Hotohori?
Hotohori: the same man who smiled so brightly when I told him I was from another world. I can't get that smile out of my head. It was such a beautiful smile, full and real, as if I had given him the greatest treasure in the world. When, in truth, I had only just handed him his death warrant.
This is the same man who guarded me, who protected me, who did everything he could to make sure that not only I'd be okay, but that I'd be happy. Even at the cost of his own heart, he took care of me.
And this man, the one I had thought I loved… no, this bastard just killed him.
I don't care. Not Hotohori. I close my eyes and I see his generous smiles. Or that sweet way he'd just tilt his head as he listened to my nonsense.
I can't believe I wasted what little time I had with his spouting that junk.
What the hell was I thinking.
"You should have seen it, Priestess," Tamahome gloated, his face so twisted and disturbing that try as hard as I might, I couldn't turn my head away. "He fell so easily."
He wasn't, though. But I didn't want to hear it. No, no, no, NO! Hotohori isn't dead. He was just holding my hand.
Don't you understand? He was just holding my fucking hand just a few minutes ago.
"Am I, Priestess?" Tamahome's teal eyes seemed to flare with interest. Once again, my dumb face showed too much emotion. "You should have seen it! He didn't even make a noise, you know. Oh, wait. Yeah, he did."
"Shut up," I whispered as I backed away, a part of me on the verge of vomiting as I knew what was coming up. "Shut up."
"He said your name."
I couldn't cry, you know. He'd win if I did.
How could I not cry? What do I do? Forget he existed? Push Hotohori out of my head because it hurts too much to think about him?
It hurts too much.
Tamahome smiled, his eyes content and amused as if he were some large tomcat who had just found a particularly lively mouse to toy with. Quietly, silently, he stalked around me, the stench of blood overwhelming my senses until I couldn't help it.
I knelt on the floor, my torso still convulsing even as a part of me was pleased that the foul liquid had splashed up on his cloth shoes.
"What? Does that offend you, Priestess?" the soft tenor taunted. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you how he hit his head upon the stone … well, you know that stone staircase in the front? Please take care should you walk down there. You may slip on his blood and we couldn't have that happen."
I closed my eyes, my hands silently seeking the dagger I knew lay around here somewhere.
"And what do you plan to do with that toothpick, Priestess?" Tamahome chuckled as he stood above me. His amusement seemed to thunder in my ears and he knew it. Still laughing softly at my weakness, he kneeled next to me and cupped my face with his bloody hands.
He didn't need to tell me whose blood it was that now stained my face.
Enough was enough.
I didn't even cringe as the dagger plowed into his heart, but yeah, I guess my eyes did tear up.
Quietly, I pulled my bloody hands from my first love's wound.
I couldn't stop laughing. It's weird, but all I could see was the blood. Mine. Tamahome's. Hotohori's. You know what the most incredibly weird thing was?
It all looked the same.
You'd think you could tell it apart, as stupid as it sounds. That evil blood had no fucking right to look like Hotohori's. It had no right.
I forced myself to look into Tamahome's shocked eyes as he slowly collapsed to his knees, the blood flowing like water from the wound I inflicted on him.
"Miaka?" he asked, his eyes dilated as he raised his bloody hand to his face. Fuck. I knew it. I betrayed him. I betrayed them both. But, for god's sake, I would not look away.
I will NOT look away.
"You really did it," Tamahome whispered, his voice full of awe as his life drained away. He laughed suddenly, a sour sound accompanied by a spray of blood that frothed at his mouth.
I held his head in my lap as his lifeforce slowly leaked from his body. His eyes, now sightless, stared up at me even as I tried to calm his shivering body.
"Maybe," I started, my mouth moving even as my eyes watched the light slowly fade from his teal ones, "Maybe there is a part of you that is still Tamahome … the one I know. The one I love. But it doesn't matter anymore. Whatever happened, whatever they did to you, the Tamahome I love is gone. Silenced. God, Tama. Don't you see? I'd rather cut out my own heart than hurt you. But… this was more than just you and me. This is about rescuing Yui. This is about saving Hong-Nan and its people. This is about doing what I have to do…"
I can't stand it.
I don't know how long I sat among the blood and vomit and wept as the warmth ebbing from the corpse in my arms.
"Kill me," I prayed suddenly, my heart full as I was convinced Suzaku heard. "Kill me, please. I can't take this. Find a new priestess to lead your people. I don't want it. Oh, god. I don't want this."
He looked so peaceful, I decided as I gently laid Tamahome upon the floor.
I don't want this.
Please. There are so many other girls out there, and all of them could do a better job than me. I can't do this.
I forced myself to my feet, laughing slightly as the pain from my shoulder crashed through my body.
I wanted it. I wanted it all.
Leaning against the door, I faced the terrible room and forced myself to look upon what I had done. The lives I had destroyed. All the way, biting my lower lip as I wouldn't allow myself to cry out in pain.
I had lost him.
I didn't even get a chance to tell him I loved him.
It had been so easy to tell Tamahome I loved him. It was as if the words had just spilled out of me, even after I killed him.
But I could never tell Hotohori. Why? I couldn't even tell him I loved him as a friend? Oh, why didn't I even tell him once? He would have understood. God, I can still see his eyes. He would have understood.
"Because I loved you. Because I loved you with my entire soul," I whispered, only to feel foolish.
The dead don't gossip, after all.
I smiled suddenly as I felt more than heard the person standing behind me. Undoubtedly one of Tamahome's minions sent to finish the job.
"What? Do you enjoy hearing your victim's confessions right before you kill them?" I asked, turning around to see if maybe (Suzaku willing) I could glare my soon-to-be murderer to death.
I slipped on the blood, only to fall upon my injured shoulder as I looked at my intruder. But, honest to god, that was nothing compared to the pain I felt in my heart at that ghastly visage.
"Miaka," Hotohori breathed, his face deathly white as he clung to the doorframe. His hand, red with blood, pressed against his heart determinedly.
I couldn't take my eyes from the blood that stained his beautiful clothes, the ones he took such pride in.
The bastard. The fucking bastard.
"Miaka!" he breathed, his body cringing as I beat my fists against his chest. The bastard. He dared talk to me. "Miaka!"
"How could you?" I asked, knowing all the while my nose had to be red and huge and my eyes were swollen from the tears. Now ask me if I cared. Okay, fine. Maybe I cared a little. "You never let me tell you.... I hate you. Oh, god. Why the hell did you do that? He could have killed you, Hotohori. He could have killed you before I got to tell you…"
He hugged me tight then, pressing me firmly against his wounded body until I could no longer hit him. All I could do is hang on for dear life and hope to god that he was really here.
Please, Suzaku. Let him be really here.
"I hate you! I hate you so much!"
He cooed in my ear, words I never heard but the tone was nice even as his arms refused to let go of me.
"Don't you hear me, Hotohori? I hate you!"
Suddenly, it hit me.
He was here. Hotohori… my Hotohori was holding me. He was kissing my forehead. My god. I had another chance.
A minute ago, I would have given anything for another chance. And here I was telling him I hate him?
"I hate me," I whispered, refusing to look him in the eyes. I did, you know. I hate me. I hate me. I hate me.
"Miaka," Hotohori sighed as he slowly pulled me from that Hell. "Please, Miaka. I'm so sorry about Tama…"
"Don't you dare say his name," I growled as I looked at the empty shell of my lover on the ground. "That wasn't him."
And the bastard had the audacity to look at me with sorrow in his beautiful eyes.
"Tamahome died before they sent him here," I explained, choking my way past the damnable tears that insisted on falling. "He died when he left Hong-Nan."
Hotohori just looked down, his arms tightening around my waist as if he could hold me into sanity.
I let my head fall back into the air as I concentrated on slowing my breathing, as I concentrated on remembering that the man I loved was holding me in his arms instead of lying dead on the rain-kissed stone.
I loved him. I looked up, my eyes seeking his and finding the desolation in his normally bright, golden eyes.
I loved him. Admit it, Miaka. Tell him before you lose this chance.
"Hotohori," I started, grimacing as I felt the wetness of the tears that insisted on racing down my cheeks. "I love…"
His eyes flared with sadness as he covered my mouth with his hands.
"Miaka, please?" he asked and I could hear the sorrow choking his voice. "I can't…"
What? You can't love me? I wondered.
No, the smarter part of myself admitted as I looked at the longing in his eyes. He thinks its because of the trauma. He thinks I don't mean it. He doesn't think he can... So I bit him.
Not that hard, but enough to make him remove his hand from my mouth fast.
"I love you, Hotohori," I whispered, my voice strangely strong even though I spoke low.
He winced, the corners of his mouth twitching as his eyes roamed to Tamahome's unseeing ones.
"I've loved you, Hotohori," I started, pulling his body around until I was facing both the loves in my life. One was lost. I'd be damned before I lost the one whom I had given my soul. "I've loved you for as long as I can remember. No. Don't talk. Please? Just let me?"
"I love you, dammit. But how could you ever love me? Here I am, nothing. Just a dumb school girl who can't even manage to get okay grades no matter how hard I study. But you never accepted that, Hotohori. You never understood that. How could I be good enough for an emperor. Oh, hell. Not just an emperor, but you. You could have any woman you wanted. And how long until you decided you didn't want me?"
"How long, Hotohori?" I asked, searching his startled face for the truth.
He shook his head, his lips pinched together even as he rubbed his thumb across my chin.
"I wish," he started, his beautiful eyes filled with pain as they trapped my own in their absorbing stare. "I wish I could give you the happy ending you are so longing for, Miaka. I wish I could tell you what will happen in the future. I wish…" His soft voice stopped suddenly as his hand quickly brushed against his face.
"I cannot tell you what the future holds, Miaka. I cannot tell you what decisions we will be forced to make. But I can tell you that I will be here, by your side, for as long as you allow me to be. If you allow me to be."
He looked so earnest, his eyes so bright from unshed tears.
"I love you, Miaka."
I felt his arms close possessively about me, his demeanour changing instaneously from that of a concerned friend to that of a lover.
I closed my eyes and burned this moment into my heart, knowing that no matter what the future would be, this one blessed moment I spent lost in time would be good enough for me.