To Live My Life

By nightelfcrawler

Warnings: None

Okay so... in chatting with an rp partner, we ended up discovering that we had been a part of the same fandoms some 10+ years ago. She ran a website that hosted some of my old fics... which made me drag out some old dvds that I'd saved my webpages on... and lo and behold, I found these old fics hanging around still and decided heck why not bring them back. So here they are, a trip down memory lane! These were written in the late 90's and early 2000's when I went by too many psudonyms to remember. I actually forgot who I was until I physically saw the fics listed and went 'oh crap I remember those!'. Ahh memories.

Be warned... these were my first attempts at writing and are likely riddled with grammar, spelling and other noted errors. I've read through them, blushed furiously that I used to write like this, and decided to put them up anyway as-is with no revisions. So please enjoy, but don't bother correcting or whining, they shall be ignored!

Standard disclaimer: These characters aren't mine they're created by the wonderful Watase Yuu, although I wish they were, Houjun-chan is such a hottie! So don't sue me, I need o-ka-ne right now...

Amiboshi couldn't sleep…..he couldn't think, he couldn't concentrate, he couldn't eat. He felt like a leaden weight had sunk into his chest and was firmly gouged in there, keeping his soul from feeling anything.

No matter which angle he looked at it, it was his fault.

It had been a full day, and the rain continued to pour down in torrents. He'd been too shocked to think straight after the incident, but he knew by now that he was under a kind of house arrest. He had been politely asked to remain in his room, and a guard had been posted outside of the door to keep watch.

But the door hadn't been locked.

That confused him. They trusted him enough not to lock the door, but still posted a guard to keep an eye on him. Not that he wanted to go anywhere at the time. His brother had been less lucky, he had guessed. He probably was imprisoned down beside Tamahome for all that he knew.

He sighed and lay back down on the bed. He couldn't forgive himself for what happened. It was all his fault…..he should have listened to the monk earlier and said something, then none of this would have happened…if they had already known, they might have helped him…..It was too late now.

A tear slid down his cheek and dropped onto the bed making a small stain. Why hadn't he understood it earlier? He should have said something….anything…..

There was some movement at the door, and he heard a voice talking to the guard. He sat up slowly as there was a soft knock, then the door opened and Mitsukake stepped into the room. He closed the door quietly behind him, as not to wake any of the others so early in the morning. "Hello."

Amiboshi looked down, holding his flute listlessly in his hands. "Hi."

Mitsukake slowly walked over to the bed and sat down beside him, and Tama-neko jumped off of the giant's shoulder and rubbed Amiboshi's hand for attention. The boy managed a small smile, and stroked the cat. "I thought you might be awake." Mitsukake said in a soft voice.

Amiboshi nodded. "I couldn't sleep if my life depended on it…."

Mitsukake nodded in understanding. "I know how you feel."

At that, Amiboshi felt an inner rage build up inside of him, and he looked up angrily. "How can you understand how I feel? I KILLED HIM! IT'S ALL MY FAULT!"

Mitsukake studied him calmly, sadness in his eyes, but a firm chiding there that made Amiboshi look away in shame. "You didn't kill him."

He laughed tartly. "Yes I did….if I had said something sooner….."

"The same thing would have happened."

He looked up startled. "What are you talking about? There's no way of knowing what would have happened if…"

Mitsukake sighed. "Think about it Amiboshi….you've told us that Chichiri already knew about your secret. He knew when he faced your brother, which is most likely why he recognized that Suboshi wasn't yourself. But it didn't make a difference. Even if everyone had known, there would have been no way to have prevented it. No one was expecting him to appear, and that's something we can't defend against." He stopped talking and looked away. "If it's anyone's fault, it's my own."

Amiboshi was shocked. "What are you saying? You tried to save him! It's not your fault."

"I tried….and failed."

Amiboshi shook his head. "But you had healed Tasuki before… did the best you could…." He trailed off, suddenly seeing things from Mitsukake's perspective.

Mitsukake sighed. "It's another person on my conscionce…another whom I couldn't save, despite my healing power." He looked down at his hand in slight anger, gazing at his symbol with a slight amount of disgust. "What good am I if I can't save people with my power?"

Amiboshi bit his lip. "But think of all the other people you've saved….I mean, Tasuki, Miaka…..and I'm sure there's more people out there that owe their lives to you….."

Mitsukake shook his head. "True…however…."

Amiboshi laid a hand on his shoulder. "You can't save everyone in the whole world…." He thought it odd that he had turned from being the one receiving advice and comfort, to the one who gave it. "It's not your fault….you didn't cause this."

Mitsukake looked up at him. "If I'm not to fault, then you aren't either."

Amiboshi nodded slightly in agreement. He understood where the Suzaku Seishi was getting at, and resolved to try to incorperate it.

Mituskake stood up slowly. "I was going to ask you if you cared to come with me. I have some work to do now that my power has been renewed."

Amiboshi looked surprised. "They'll let me out of this room?"

"You're not a prisoner….Miaka told us that you'd explained everything to her before it happened, and so Hotohori-sama trusts you. The guard is mostly to make sure that no one comes to attack you and your brother."

Amiboshi winced at the mention of his brother. "Where is he?"

"He's been given a room next door."

Amiboshi's eyes widened in surprise. "He's not in the dungeon?"

Mitsukake shook his head. "Hotohori-sama understood his point of view, and told him as long as he doesn't try to escape the palace, he would be allowed to remain there. He is however, not allowed to leave."

Amiboshi nodded in understanding. He stood up slowly. "I guess I'll go with you….what work did you mean?"

They both exited the room, and the guard nodded brisquely to them both, keeping a wary eye on Amiboshi. "I need to repair his body and make him presentable."

Tears sprung to Amiboshi's eyes again at that thought, but he nodded and they walked towards the funeral room in silence.

When they'd come about halfway, Mitsukake broke the silence. "You were close to him werent' you?"

He shrugged. "I guess…he listened to me. He was always so open to me, he said he'd be willing to talk anytime I needed to." Amiboshi sighed. "He reminded me of my father a bit I suppose…..and I've missed my mother and father a lot."

Mitsukake nodded. "Did he ever mention anything about his personal life?"

Amiboshi looked up in confusion, then shook his head. "No, he never mentioned much about himself….why?"

Mitsukake sighed as the entered the funeral room. "I wanted to find out if there was any family or friends of his that should be notified is all."

Amiboshi nodded slowly, feeling sadness flood over him because of that. The monk had always been the type to keep to himself about personal issues…he didn't think that Chichiri had ever disclosed anything to anyone that he knew of. That only made him wonder why the monk was so secretive.

They entered the room, and Amiboshi took time to stop and take in the scene. Chichiri lay on the dressing table on his back where apparently Mitsukake and the other doctors had dressed his wounds so they would be ready for Mitsukake to heal in the morning, and so blood wouldn't seep everywhere. Amiboshi found himself cursing himself for the monk's death again, but caught himself in time remembering Mitsukake's words. So instead, he walked over to the table, and glanced down at him, taking the monk's hand as Mitsukake readied some of the things he needed.

Amiboshi looked sadly down at Chichiri. He almost looked like he was peacefully sleeping, if it weren't for the look of pain that was written on his face. Amiboshi found himself wondering if his conception of what a person in death looked like was completely skewed. He'd thought that the person would become stiff, their face would be blue, and their hands cold…"Ne…..Mitsukake-san…..?"

The seishi looked over. "Nani?"

Amiboshi glanced back at him with a small frown. "Are his hands supposed to be warm and clammy? I always thought that-" His words were cut off abruptly by Mitsukake jumping up and rushing wildly over to the table, snatching Chichiri's hand out of Amiboshi's own, and putting his ear on the inert seishi's chest. Amiboshi's heart fluttered wildly with a faint shred of hope.

"Kami-sama….." Mitsukake whispered in awe. Then his demeanor changed instantly. He stood up and yanked the cloth over his left hand off, and positioned it over Chichiri's chest with a look of determination and sweat beaded on his forehead. "Amiboshi." He said in a low rough voice. "If you value this man's life, you might send him some of your ki to keep him alive."

Amiboshi's flute was to his lips in a mere instant without hesitation or a question asked, and he was playing a strong tune as loudly and strongly as he coujld possibly conjure. Meanwhile, Mitsukake's hand was glowing with a vibrant red hue, bathing the whole room in bright red light, mostly centered on Chichiri's body. As Amiboshi watched, the hole in the seishi's chest closed together as good as new. His ki was being drained severely by this, but he kept at it, determined to give something back to what he'd taken away.

After what seemed to be an eternety, Mitsukake lowered his hand and the glow faded, and Amiboshi stopped playing, on the verge of collapsing from loss of ki. He looked anxiously down at Chichiri then back to Mitsukake. Mitsukake looked like he was ready to pass out, but was smiling a quiet smile. "He's alive…we caught it just in time….."

And with that, he started to collapse, and Amiboshi rushed to his side and caught him with a strangled cry. "Mitsukake!"

Just then he heard feet running from outside and Hotohori burst into the room, shortly followed by Nuriko, both looking alarmed. "What's going on? I heard a flute and felt ki…." He trailed off at seeing Amiboshi staggaring to hold up Mitsukake, and immidiately Nuriko rushed to aid the boy by picking the unconscious seishi up before Amiboshi collapsed. "What happened?" Hotohori said again soflty, walking into the room.

Amiboshi swallowed and glanced over at Chichiri with shining eyes. "He's alive."

"WHAT?" They both bellowed together.

Amiboshi swayed weakly, drained from exhasting his ki, and Hotohori quickly gripped his shoulder to steady him. "We….came in here and found out he was barely still alive…..Mitsukake healed him….."

Nuriko had gone over to Chichiri and was feeling for a pulse in the seishi's neck while still holding Mitsukake. He looked over at Hotohori, a smile and hope shining in his eyes. "He is alive!"

Hotohori felt a surge of sudden hope and joy flow through him. "How…can that be?" He adked, not wanting to believe it. "We all felt him die."

Nuriko glanced down at the monk. "I don't know….but he's alive now, though I can barely sense his ki….." Nuriko glanced at Amiboshi. "You gave him some of yours didn't you?"

Amiboshi nodded. "I had to…" But he was smilng slightly and there was a happy look in his eyes.

Hotohori smiled and squeezed the boy's shoulder. "Why don't you lie down and get some rest. I know giving him you ki must be exhausting." Amiboshi nodded, but looked hesitantly back to Chichiri his eyes worried. "Don't worry," Hotohori said warmly. "We'll take care of him." Amiboshi nodded and headed back to his room slowly, a smile still on his face.

Hotohori quickly joined Nuriko at Chichiri's side, looking awed. "However this is possible, we shouldn't push our luck."

"I agree Hotohori-sama," Nuriko said. "We should put him in bed."

Hotohori nodded and gently picked Chichiri up into his arms. "I'll take care of him then tell Miaka….."

Nuriko nodded. "Hai Heika!"

Amiboshi opened his eyes and felt slightly disoriented. His head was a bit fuzzy, and he felt weak, but not as bad as he had before. He'd overgiven his ki just a bit, he thought tartly to himself, but then smiled in rememberance of what cause it was for. He tried to sit up, and a voice stopped him. "Don't get up yet. You're still weak."

He lay back down at Nuriko's command, feeling slightly nausious from the sudden effort anyway. "How….how is he?"

"Do you mean Chichiri or Mitsukake?" the purple-haired Seishi asked.


Nuriko smiled. "Mitsukake is still sleeping, recovering. As for Chichiri, he's looking better and better. You two are the workers of an incredible miracle."

Amiboshi shook his head negatively. "No….we just helped him…it's the miracle that he was still alive."

Nuriko nodded slightly. "Yes, but if you two hadn't discovered that, he might not have been later on." He smiled. "I think you've restored faith in Hotohori-sama. I know that I trust you."

Amiboshi smiled greatfully at the purple-haired seishi. "Arigatou Nuriko-sama…"

Nuriko snorted. "Don't act all formal with me. You know perfectly well I hate all those formalities. Besides, you and I are equals."

Amiboshi was yet again surprised by the generousness of the other Seishi who were supposed to be his enimies. He smiled again, thankfullness shimmering in his eyes. "Arigatou….."

"Ah, nothing to thank for. It's really you we have to thank, Amiboshi." He looked surprised at that. "After all, it was you that stopped Tasuki and your brother, and you who helped us when you were still thinking as our enemy, and you who helped us when you and Mitsukake found out about Chichiri being alive." Nuriko smiled. "You are our saviour after all."

Amiboshi felt tears spring to his eyes, and happiness well up inside of him. "Nuriko…that means so much to me…..honto…"

The strong seishi put a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Daijoubu. How are you feeling now?"

Ambiboshi slowly sat up and was relieved to find out that he wasn't dizzy and nasuious anymore. He nodded. "Much better…"

Nuriko nodded and stood up. "Feeling well enough to eat? I'm famished!" He grinned at the young Seriyuu Seishi.

Amiboshi smiled in reponse. "Hai!"

Miaka stared at Hotohori in disbelief. "What did you just say?"

His gentle smile widened. "You heard me correctly Miaka."

She stared at her hands for a long time in slight disbelief. She'd been keeping herself secluded in her room since it had happened, the stress over Tamahome, then Chichiri being too much for her. She slowly looked back up. "Are you sure? I mean….I felt…."

"We all felt it Miaka….however, apparently he managed to come back to us." Hothori smiled and stood up again. "I just thought you'd like to know."

She nodded barely, then some odd look crossed her face. "Have you told Tasuki yet?"

Hotohori turned around surprised from his position by the door. "No, I haven't seen him around anywhere…..why do you ask?"

She looked up worried. "He was….talking strange…."

Hotohori's eyes narrowed. "Strange? How do you mean?"

Miaka slowly stood up from the chair she'd been sitting in and walked over to him. "He….kept saying something about how pointless anything was anymore…he was really depressed and upset…." She bit her lip uncertainly. "I don't know what to do."

Hotohori looked worried. "Do you know where he is now?"

"Yeah, he said he was going to the guardens for some air."

Hotohori nodded. "I think I should go find him before something happens."

Miaka nodded. "I'm going to go see Chichiri."

Hotohori smiled and they both headed in opposite directions. Hotohori frowned as he walked towards the gardens. Tasuki, he'd realized, was an emotional one though he didn't show it on the outside. The death of a seishi had truly hit him hard, especially since he'd been part of the battle himself…. Hotohori wondered if he didn't blame himself partially.

He saw the bandit over by the bridge hanging on it limply. Hotohori walked over slowly, hands behind his back thoughtfully. Tasuki heard him coming, but didn' turn his head. "What do you want?"

Hothori felt saddened by the seishi's behaviour. "I wanted to talk to you."

Tasuki snorted. "Feh…"

Hotohori sighed and leaned on the railing next to the bandit. "Tasuki…"

"Look…..I don't want no fucking sympathy speech or no shit over 'it's not your fault' or nothin like that." He spat out bitterly. "So if you don't have anything good to say, then beat it."

Hotohori sighed internally. He knew the kind of grief the bandit was facing, and decided there wasn't much he could do about it. He sat up and turned away, heading back towards the palace. "Then I guess you wont' want to know that Chichiri's not dead."

He heard Tasuki stiffen behind him, then laugh bitterly. "Nice try Emperor-sama….." He continued to laugh dryly as Hotohori walked away.

Hotohori shook his head in confusion. He guessed that time would prove the bandit wrong to his beliefs…He headed back towards Chichiri's room, and entered finding Miaka sitting by his side holding his hand. He approached and put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed lightly, wishing that he could convey his feelings to her.

She smiled brightly up at him, a strange emotion in her eyes sparkling back at him. He was taken slightly aback by that. He'd seen that look before…..but for someone else…. His heart nearly stopped beating as he gazed longingly down at her, wishing, hoping, yet reluctant. Was that gaze for him? Or was it merely a result of her finding things were better than they thought?

She glanced back down at Chichiri. "How could he have lived through the entire night like that?"

Hotohori shook his head in confusion. "I have no idea…..we'll have to see if he remembers anything when he wakes up."

She nodded then spoke softer. "Hotohori…..I've been doing some thinking…" He looked down at her not daring to breath as she spoke. "And…..I've decided to accept your offer….." Her face turned back to him, and her eyes watched him dead serious.

He swallowed nervously and took a chair beside her and took her hand looking into her eyes. "Are you sure? I mean…I don't want to rush you after all…I don't want you to rush into it if you still ….if you're not ready."

Miaka smiled sadly. "Hotohori, I've realized that I've gotten over him…I know there's nothing we can do to return him to normal….he won't love me again. And I'm not sure I could ever love him again even if he did recover." Her face was seriuous, and Hotohori realized she'd grown up quite a bit in the past few days.

He bit his lip in wonder. It was almost too good to be true. "I see…..well then, I would be most willing to re-extend the offer, however, I want you to be sure about this Miaka…." He gazed longingly into her eyes. "I want you to be happy."

He was rewarded by a smile from her. "Hai."

Just then, they heard a soft movement, and both their eyes snapped to the bedside where Chichiri was stirring slightly. Hotohori leaned over cautiously as the monk slowly opened his eye and bllinked once. "Chichiri…." He siad softly.

The monk turned his eye in the direcion of the voice, and saw Miaka and Hotohori looking down at him worriedly. He managed a small smile and looked disoriented. "What….happened?"

Miaka nearly cried in joy at seeing him awake and threw her arms around him, startling the seishi. Hotohori smiled fondly. "Yokatta…we were worried about you."

Chichiri seemed disoriented as Miaka released him with tears in her eyes. "I'm afraid I don't remember much no da…" He closed his eye. "I feel so drained…"

Hothori put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Daijoubu….don't push yourself now… were injured, so why don't you rest for a time to recover and we'll explain it later, ne?"

The monk nodded slightly in aquiscence, and Hothori took Miaka's hand and stood up. "We'll let you sleep now. We just wanted to make sure you were alright." And with that, he herded Miaka out the door as Chichiri closed his eye and fell back asleep.

Hotohori closed the door behind him as the two exited, and smiled at Miaka, matching her bright sunny expression.

"Everything's going to be ok, isn't it Hotohori?"

"Hai, it is."

There was a knock on his door. Suboshi looked up surprised. No one had visited him for over a day now, and he didn't expect them to be knocking when they finally did…He wasn't sure what to say, so he swallowed. "Uh, come in."

The door opened and the purpled-haired Suzaku seishi with the super strength walked in and shut the door behind him. Suboshi kept mistaking this one for a woman, he looked far to feminine, but seeing as how Nuriko wore a loose top half opened exposing his chest, Suboshi couldn't argue with the truth.

"How are you?" The seishi spoke, actually sounding cheerful and friendly to him.

He looked down at his hands not speaking. How could they ask that of him? He was their enemy.

The purpled-haired one didn't seem to notice his silence, and instead drew up a chair and plopped comfortably down in it, crossing his arms leasurely. "Been a rough day?"

Suboshi looked up uncetainty on his face. "Why are you asking me this?"

The Suzaku seishi shrugged. "I'm just concerned about how your mental state is."

He blinked. "Why?"

The Seishi raised an eyebrow. "Why not?"

Suboshi was startled. Why was he being nice? "You're my enemy. I killed one of you….. you probably want to kill me now for ruining your chances of summoning your god."

"You didn't ruin them."

He looked up startled. "What?"

"I'm Nuriko….your name is Suboshi, right?" He seemed to purposely avoid his question with a mischivious gleam in his eye.

Suboshi swallowed nervously. "Ara….hai….."

"Your brother's told me some bits about you." He said good naturedly. "You don't seem to be a bad person."

Suboshi looked down. He didn't understand this. These were people who were on the opposite side….they should be throwing him in a dungeon and torturing or killing him, not conversatiojnally striking up a chat and letting him have a lavish room.

"You were only doing what you were told right? And you were worried about your brother."

He looked up surprised.

Nuriko smiled warmly at him. "I can't blame you actaully. I know how much love for your sibling can drive you to the brink of insanity if you think you're going to lose them."

Suboshi frowned. "Why are you treating me so nice here?"

Nuriko shrugged. "Your brother explained to us the reasons you and he were sent here. And you aren't being violent or endangering anyone, so what need is there for the dungeon?"

Suboshi slowly began to understand….Aniki said he couldn't let him kill his friends…..he must have made friends with these people then…. Suboshi began to realize that Amiboshi must have told them the truth before he'd even arrived….he wasn't being held prisoner, he was staying of his own free will. "I'm sorry…I didn't understand…you all must hate me now because I killed that man."

"Ah, but you didn't you see."

His head jerked up surprised. "What? But I thought….." He trailed off at seeing the confidant smile on Nuriko's face and feelign an odd sense of relief wash through him. Why was he relieved? Shouldn't he be curisng himself for failing in his duity? He nodded slowly. "I understand why Aniki likes you people so much….."

Nuriko nodded slowly. "Here's the deal, Suboshi. Hotohori-sama asked me to tell you this to see what you say. In these walls, it doesn't matter who you are or what you are. You're welcome to stay here, as long as you remain a friend." Suboshi found his heart beating faster hearing this. They were letting him go? "So long as you don't cause any trouble or start aiding our rivals while you're here, you're welcome to stay."

Suboshi looked up still surprised. "You mean….you're forgiving me and letting me stay here…? Even after what I've done?"

Nuriko shrugged. "That seems to be correct now doesn't it."

Suboshi bit his lip. "Then the man I kil- er…. He's alive?" Nuriko nodded. "Can….can I see him…..and Aniki?"

Nuriko grinned. "Sure. If you agree to the terms that is. You won't be allowed to carry your weapon around either, however. Though if you chose to leave, it will be returned to you."

Suboshi felt gratitude well up. "Domo!" He bowed low before Nuriko. "I….don't know what to say!"

Nuriko just stood up and shook his head. "I'd worry more about apoligizing to Chichiri for killing him….well, nearly killing him anyway." He opened the door and guestured for Suboshi to exit. "He might not feel the same way Hotohori-sama does."

Suboshi nodded faintly, stepping out into the bright sunlight. Waiting by the railing was his brother smiling at him encouragingly. "Ohayo Shunkaku!"

He quickly embraced his brother. "Aniki!" He grinned. "Are you ok?"

Amiboshi laughed soflty. "Of course I am!" He separated from Suboshi. "How about you? Are you doing any better?"

Suboshi looked over at Nuriko who was waitng politely beisde the two. "Hai…..I am I think…..I understand eveything now Aniki, and I'm sorry….." he hung his head. "I should have realized it sooner."

Amiboshi shook his head. "Daijoubu. All's well that ends well…you heard I assume?" He glanced questioningly at Nuriko, and received an affermative nod. "I was going to go and visit him. Do you want to come Shunkaku?"

Suboshi noticed that his brother was using his personal name rather than their seishi names. He replied in like, feeling a sense of comfort from doing so. "Hai, I would Kotoku." He looked at Nuriko for permission, and the Suzaku seishi nodded.

Together, the three walked down the hall, and Nuriko saw a certain red-haired bandit skulking by towards his room with sake cups. He promptly snatched him by the sleeve, despite the bandit's protests. "OI! What the hell?"

"Why don't you come with us Tasuki. Hotohori told me how you behaved this morning."

Tasuki snarled. "What the hell do you care. Lemme go."

The twins watched in astonishment as the purple haired seishi lifted the struggling bandit above his head and began walking non-chalantly down the hall ahead of them. "You should never talk to Hotohori-sama that way again."

Tasuki was screaming and cursing meanwhile, trying to rid himself of the strong arms of his fellow seishi. "LEMME GO AHO!"

Amiboshi laughed softly and tugged his brother's sleeve as the followed. Suboshi found himself laughing inside at the crazy antics. "None of this would have happened back in Kutou…" Suboshi said softly.

"That's why it's so wonderful here."

He nodded and turned into the bedroom that Nuriko had burst into with Tasuki. Nuriko dumped the seishi on the floor and brushed his hands off dismissively. "There… jobs done now." And he closed the door after himself once the twins had entered.

Tasuki cursed profusely, standing up and rubbing his back. "Itaii…aho….."

Of course, through this entire scene, Mitsukake and Chichiri were both watching rather amused from the area of the bed. Mitsukake shook his head and turned back to Chichiri. "Now hold still." And his hand raised and began bathing Chichiri in a light glow.

Chichiri closed his eye and leaned back letting the healing do it's work. Amiboshi came up and sat down on the bed by Chichiri's feet. "Are you ok Chichiri?"

Chichiri opened his eye and smiled lightly at him. "Hai no da." His voice was soft and hoarse, but it was still there, which warmed Amiboshi's heart.

Of course, Tasuki was less than pleased. "WAHHHHHHHHHHHH!IT'!" And he scrambled up the side of the wall as if trying to escape.

Everyone just stared at him sweatdropping slighlty. Chichiri wore a blank look. "Ano…." He murmered hoarsely, "What is he talking about no da?"

Mitsukake sighed and lowered his hand. "That's enough for today….I can't give you much more ki." Chichiri nodded appreciatively. "He's talking about how we all thought that you'd died…." Mitsukake trailed off. "How did you manage to pull through is what we're interested in."

Chichiri frowned sliglhtly. "I don't really remember much no da…I passed out…..and I remember talking to someone…But I can't recall who it was no da." He said shaking his head.

Suboshi slowly approached the bedside nervously figiting. "Ano….."

Chichiri looked up at him, and smiled fainlty, that seemed to be all he could manage to do anyway at this point. "Don't worry about it…I don't take it as a personal offense no da."

Suboshi blinked. "But….I…"

"You were defending something you had very strong feelings about no da." He chuckled soflty, and winced at the effort it took. "After all, apparently I didn't stay dead no da."

Suboshi was stunned. He had killed this man…..and here he was already telling him to forget it! He couldn't believe what his ears were telling him…reason stated that he should be killed for doing what he'd done, but the Suzaku Seishi had accepted him, welcomed him, and told him that it wasn't a big deal…..he was touched in a way he'd never been touched before….

While these thoughts were running through his head, Amiboshi had walked over to Tasuki and was talking to him softly. The bandit was curled up in a fetal position in the corner, occassionally throwing paranoid glances at Chichiri. Finally, Amiboshi sighed and shrugged, then came back over. "He's weird."

That brought a round of laughter from everyone, and Suboshi felt himself relaxing in the plesant atmosphere…he couldn't believe how kind they were…..and suddenly, he felt a strong devotion in his heart take a hold of him. Why should he be loyal to a country that only instilled fear in his heart when there was a place like this where he was welcomed and it made no difference that he was supposed to be the enemy. He bit his lip and stood suddenly and walked to Chichiri's side. The monk looked quiestioningly up at him.

"Please allow me to be in your debt Chichiri-sama. Would you allow me to protect you in order to make amends for my deeds?" He went down on one knee, bowing his head respectully, his face strong and determined.

Amiboshi was taken aback. "A life debt?" He blinked and caught Chichiri's questioning look and explained. "In our culture, if one person does something to another that he feels was wrong with his heart and soul, or if another person saves his life, he is entitled to ask permission of that person to become their protector to repay that debt." Amiboshi looked down at his younger brother in awe. "It's a very serious thing, and to reject it would be a very strong dishonor, and he would feel inclined to commit seppuku, Chichiri-san."

Chichiri looked at Suboshi appraisingly, obviously holding great respect for the young boy. "Hai…..of course no da…."

Suboshi's face lit up with relief and he bowed to the floor with gratitude. "Domo arigatou gozaimasu Chichiri-sama."

Mitsukake smiled lighlty and stood up. "I'm going to go and rest."

Chichiri smiled greatfully at him. "Domo Mitsukake…."

He nodded, then exited the room. Amiboshi was watching Tasuki who was staring at them from the corner. "Mou….can't we do anything about him?"

Suboshi looked over at him. "Why don't you play your flute to help Chichiri-sama relax, and maybe Tasuki-san will relax too?" he suggested to his brother.

Amiboshi nodded and began playing a sweet melody on the instrament, it's soothing tunes calming the ears and heart. Withing a few minutes, Chichiri's breathing had slowed, and his eye was closed in sleep. Tasuki still sulked in the courner, but he was actually watching them now, which was a semi-good sign. Amiboshi stopped playing when he'd finished the tune, and lowered the flute to his lap. "Mou…..I'm going to go take a nap…." He said standing up and looking at his brother. "Want to come?"

Suboshi shook his head. "I'm going to stay here."

Amiboshi nodded in understanding, then glanced at Tasuki. "You going to be ok with him?" Suboshi nodded. "Ok, ja na."