Disclaimer: I should be writing my résumé because I'm temporarily unemployed. The logical conclusion would be since I do not have a résumé, I don't have a job, and therefore I do not own Fushigi Yuugi.

Summary: A series of crashes, a scream, and Tamahome is dead. All the Suzaku seishi deny involvement. It's up to Houki to break their alibis and figure out who done it.

Chapter One: Miaka

By: omni82

Midnight was settling in comfortably in the imperial palace of Konan. Every other torch burned dully in empty corridors that smelled faintly of the lemon wax used on the floors. No light shone in any room as the residents slept peacefully. Well, nearly peacefully…

BAM! CRASH!

The ruckus was followed by an unearthly moan and dead silence. Hesitating moments passed as the Suzaku seishi began to crowd into the hallways. Anxious queries bounced off the once-silent walls as bleary-eyed seishi gathered together in various states of awareness.

A high-pitched shriek followed by intense sobbing soon answered all questions.

"Tamahome is dead!" Miaka fled her expired lover's room in hysterics. Nuriko caught her up in his arms as people ran to investigate.

Houki, empress of Konan and wife to Hotohori, was one of them. Indeed, Miaka was right. Tamahome was dead as dead could be. Kneeling by the corpse's side, Houki stared at the shocked expression Tamahome wore now in death. If he knew who had done it, he wasn't talking.

"Very suspicious," she muttered as she poked at the head injury done by blunt force trauma. A burglar didn't do this; piles of coins lay neatly around Tamahome's sprawled body. In fact, they lay a little too neatly…

A guard rushed up to Hotohori's side. "Sire, the area checks out. No one has been seen leaving or entering the premises in the past few hours."

"Who could have possibly done it?" The young emperor asked to the air. Who could have done it indeed?

"It had to be someone who is here right now." Houki told them darkly. Gazing into the face of the seven people gathered, she tried to observe any signs of visible guilt. Everyone looked pale faced and tight lipped, whether from guilt or shock Houki did not know.

"Sequester everyone in separate rooms," she ordered a guard. "I wish to speak to them individually." As the guards began pushing people into their quarters, Houki turned to look over her shoulder. "Not you, Priestess of Suzaku. You're coming with me." Without looking backwards, the empress marched into her private boudoir.

Houki sat gracefully down onto a chaise lounge, her back perfectly straight. She had a knack for intimidation that was carefully nourished during her days in the harem. So she managed to watch with a cool eye as the Priestess of Suzaku stumbled clumsily into a chair before her. The girl's eyes were red from crying and her nose was running. Miaka seemed to be very distraught over the loss of her beloved Tamahome. 'Seemed' being the operative word of course.

"Miaka-sama, you seem to be very upset." Houki observed calmly. Miaka burst into a fresh batch of tears.

"Of course I'm upset," she sobbed. "Tamahome is dead. I found him dead, just lying there dead." Houki offered her a handkerchief into which the girl blew her nose noisily.

"You found Tamahome's body," Houki agreed with her. "Why did you go into Tamahome's room?"

"I didn't see him when I went into the hall and I thought he was asleep. I wanted to see if he was alright…" Her voice wavered again and Houki patted her on the shoulder.

"I know this is hard for you but I need to know. Did you see or hear anything before going into the hall?"

"I heard a crash, like something falling," Miaka said slowly. "Then I heard a groan. After that, I got up and went into Tamahome's room. And, and…" She broke down again.

Houki fought back the urge to smack some semblance of calm into her detainee. Was this a possible ruse Miaka was using to throw suspicion off herself? True, she had the least reason to want Tamahome dead but that didn't make her innocent.

"There, there." Houki comforted impatiently. "Now, Miaka, I only have one more question for you. Whose room is next to yours?"

Miaka looked puzzled at the question. "Nuriko is on my left and Tasuki on my right. Next to Tasuki's room is Tamahome's."

"Thank you very much. You may go now," Houki told her gently. A guard came and escorted the quietly weeping priestess back to her room.

So far, the evidence didn't indicate that Miaka was guilty but then again, the final expression on Tamahome's was suggested he was very surprised about the identity of his killer. Who would be more of shock than his beloved Miaka? And yet still the same would o for any of the Suzaku seishi. Miaka's testimony hadn't revealed anything. Houki would have to see another witness. Leaning out the door, Houki called down the hall.

"Bring me Nuriko."

TBC…

Preview of Chapter Two:

"No, no!" Nuriko protested. "Mitsukake couldn't have done it!"

"Calm yourself, Nuriko-sama. Sometimes you just don't know someone like you think you do…" Houki explained, trying to reason with the distraught seishi.

"But he doesn't have the reasons that Tasuki does!" Nuriko burst out…