Don't Let Go...
By SakuraWorshiper

Disclaimer: I own only my own ideas...everything else belongs to someone else.

It was just a normal sunny day at the Konan palace. Well, as normal as the days were to begin with. He walked along the inner pond gazing into it's depths. Tell me? Why am I here? What is my purpose? The pool did nothing in response. He sighed. The days were so much longer now... But he didn't mind, Miaka was there. And he enjoyed spending time with their energetic priestess.
"Aha ha!"
He looked up in surprise. That was, a child's voice! Laughing! Why was a child in the palace? He heard it again. And someone calling his name. His REAL name.
"Ryuen! Ryuen come play with me!"
It couldn't be! But it was! Every time he heard it, the voice sounded more and more like Korin. Korin? Is that you? What are you doing here?
"Come play with me Ryuen! I'm waiting for you to find me!"
He turned in the direction the voice was coming from. He saw a brief shimmer in the air and followed it. He followed the sound of her laugh to the Imperial Gardens. There she was waiting for him. Korin? Tears filled his eyes. This can't be!
"But it is, Ryuen! I'm here and I'm very real! Here! Let me show you!"
He took a step backwards, as the girl before him morphed into a hideous monster spirit. What?! What's happening?! Korin?!
"Hah! You were so easy to manipulate! Take this!"
He threw up his arms in an attempt to block the attack, but was thrown backwards. The spirit was laughing at him.
"You're powerless! Give up now!"
No! Why is this thing attacking me? And how did it know about Korin?! Questions he wouldn't know the answers to if he didn't do something fast. He stood and lunged but was forced away from the being. Behind him, he heard a scream.
"Nuriko! What's going on?!"
Miaka! The spirit would hurt her! Miaka, get out of the way!! Get away from here! The spirit let loose another wave of energy, this time directed at his priestess. Miaka!!! He dived to push her out of the way and was hit full force. He flew into a tree and heard the terrible cracking of his bones. Dimly he could hear Miaka screaming, and could sense rather than see his fellow seishi arriving. He stood and lunged at the spirit again. This time, when he was hit he lost consciousness.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Nuriko?"
That voice. It always penetrates me. Why? Why do I feel compelled to tell that voice everything? It's laughing at me. SHE'S laughing at me. Why? I don't understand.
"Nuriko?"
I open my eyes, and instantly am blinded by white light. I close them again. The voice is gone.
"Thank goodness your ok, Nuriko."
"Miaka?" I open my eyes again. Yes, she's there watching me, making sure I'm ok. She is smiling. I love her smile. /But you'll never tell her, will you?/

"Nuriko, the others were really worried. After you passed out, Mitsukake immediately healed your wounds. That spirit was really strong wasn't it?"
I find the strength to sit up. I flex my left arm muscle and the muscles in my hand. /You broke it remember? Don't you remember? Protecting your precious Priestess./ I remember, remember being slammed into a tree. The horrible cracking of my bones. Remembered Miaka scream, her tears..... tears....... Miaka was crying! Was crying for him! /Of course you idiot! You're one of her warriors! She needs you to summon Suzaku! Don't you understand? You're just a tool to her! Just a tool!/ The voice is laughing again. I want it to leave. I look at Miaka. She is trying to hide her tears. I am not just a tool! The voice is wrong! Miaka cares about me!
"Nuriko? Please.... I know you're supposed to protect me, but..... next time don't push yourself too hard, alright? I'm sure Chichiri and the others could have finished without you. You were injured. Please, promise me you won't push yourself too far anymore? Please?"
I laugh, "Miaka, you stupid girl! I'm fine! I'll be just fine! Don't worry!"
"Nuriko! Please! Promise me!"
I promise her because I don't want to see her tears. /Is that the only reason? Or are you so selfish that you would do anything to get her attention?/ I shake my head, leave me alone! /Why? Don't you want to make your Priestess happy? Or do you want to hurt her? Yes that's it! You want to hurt her, for all the times she's hurt you! You can't escape it Ryuen! You can't escape any of it! But don't worry. It will all be over soon...../ I can feel the voice taking over. It takes my hands, then my arms. I watch silently as they stretch out. They grasp Miaka, pull her to me. The voice is strangling Miaka! Strangling the one I fought so hard to protect! With my own hands! In a matter of seconds she'll stop breathing. Then with my Seishi power, my hands will crush her, snap her neck in half! She's screaming. I'm screaming. Why does no one come? I can't stop this! I have no control..... The Priestess will die, at my hands! A flash of red! Someone's fist! A burst of pain, and then I am lost. Lost to darkness. I am grateful. Now the voice can't hurt her....
But here, it can hurt me..................
~~~~~~~~
"Miaka!? Miaka!! Come one! Open your eyes!! MIAKA!!!!!!!!!!"
"W-what?"
"Miaka......" She blinked. What happened? One minute she was talking to Nuriko and the next hands on her throat and then black. She looked up to see them all staring at her.
"Toma- home? What happened?"
He paled, "you, you don't remember?"
She reached to her throat and winced, there was pain. "I remember hands, on my throat. And screaming and then I- I think I passed out....."
"Thank Suzaku you're alright! Dammit, if Chichiri hadn't stopped him, you'd, we'd, I'd....."
He wrapped her in his arms, and cried. She just stared blankly. The others were pale, too pale.
"What happened? Somebody tell me! Please? Please!?"
Chichiri stepped forward, "I believe that during that fight Nuriko came into close contact with the spirit. It is also to this believe that I think the spirit entered Nuriko's mind and is now trying to merge with him by eating away at his memories and subconscious desires. He is gaining control at an alarming rate. By forcing Nuriko into a state of unconsciousness the spirit won't be able to hurt others but Nurik-" the monk faltered, "it won't be able to hurt others, but in Nuriko's vulnerable state, I'm afraid his mind will be torn to pieces. When he awakens Nuriko will be no more. His memories and emotions will be warped and transfigured into distortions of reality, turning against him, and he will go insane."

"Shut up! What are you saying?! Isn't there some way to stop it?! To make the spirit leave?!" She was trembling, grasping at Tomahome. Chichiri was looking away from her. "Chichiri! There is a way, isn't there?!! Isn't there?!" She wanted to stand but Tomahome wouldn't let her. The others were carefully avoiding her eyes. "Chichiri, please! Tell me how! I want to save Nuriko! Why won't you tell me!? Why?!!" She was sobbing.
"Miaka..... There is a way. But, it might not work. And even if it did work, it would be a horrible experience. It would require a great deal of effort, and something....."
"Something?"
"Something I don't think anyone can handle."
"What do you mean?"
"Someone would have to go into Nuriko's mind and force the spirit out. They would have to witness all the horrors of the mind, and then they would have to help Nuriko to put it back together. It would not be an easy task."
She swallowed, "I can do it. I swear I can bring Nuriko back! Please let me!"
"Don't be naive!! The person who goes, will also have to protect themselves, or fall subject to the spirits will. It will try to merge with the intruder as well!! We can't let that happen to you!!"
"I won't let it! I'll protect myself! I need to help Nuriko! Please!"
Chichiri fixed her with a level stare, "you could go insane. Do you want that?"
"If I have the chance to save Nuriko, I don't care what happens to me."
"Fine. I can get you inside, and then cast a small protection barrier around you, but after that you'll be on your own. I won't be able to get you out once your in."
"I understand."
"Miaka! You can't do this! What if-"
"It's alright Tomahome. I'll be ok. I promise to get Nuriko back." I have to!
"Fine, but be careful."
"Let us begin immediately."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The blackness is horrible. I hate the dark. It always brings back the worst memories. /Yes! Feed me your memories! I want to know all about you! Ah, here's a good place to start. With your family....../
I'm surrounded in an image. It is familiar. The busy street, all the happy people. She calls me, and I turn. How like me she is. Everything is the same. She waves at me, but she doesn't see the oncoming danger. I see it all in perfect clarity. Again. The blood, the screams. People rushing. But I feel frozen. The whole world is rushing around me, but I am frozen in this spot. Someone is picking up her limp body. Korin......
"Your sister is dead, Ryuen. She's never coming back, just forget her."
NO!!!!!!! I won't forget her! It is because of me that she is dead! I was frozen, and couldn't save her! It's my fault, my strength was useless. It couldn't save her, it was useless!!! I didn't deserve to exist! Ryuen, Nuriko, they weren't worthy of living! Korin....... She was going to live! He would make up for her loss.
"Ryuen! Cho Ryuen! Take off that dress right now!"
No!! Ryuen doesn't exist! I'm Korin!
"You'll get a beating for this!!" A whip. Someone was whipping her. It didn't matter. She didn't feel pain anymore. Not like this.
"Cross-dresser!"

"Gay-boy!"
"Why don't you go home to play with your dolls! Ryuen!"
I'm not Ryuen! They don't understand. Ryuen died. The voices. They're crushing me. Suffocating me. I want them to stop! Why can't they understand? How can I make them understand? They hurt me, they hurt my brother. I know he is ashamed of me, but why? My brother is yelling at me. Telling me to start being a man. He wants me to cut my hair. Why? I am a girl. Why should I cut my hair?
/So you were why she died? You were the one to blame for her death, your family's shame? You have dishonored them. They don't want you! No one wants you!/
No! You're wrong! I am wanted!
/By who? Hotohori? He doesn't want you! You embarrass him! You do and you know it!/ Another image. The palace. Hotohori? Miaka? What are you doing? Why? /They don't need you. They have each other. Miaka is wrapping all the boys around her little finger. No one wants a cross-dresser like you around! /
"Nuriko, stop this. You're embarrassing me. I don't love you. Please leave me alone."
"You're a man Nuriko! Men don't love other men! Now if you'll excuse us."
NO!!!! Miaka wouldn't say that! She wouldn't! /But she did! You remember don't you? She was the one who told your secret. Your horrible terrible secret. You can only blame her! She's responsible for your pain! You know she is! /
It's true! I hated Miaka! Right from the beginning. She was my rival! She had Tomahome! Why did she need Hotohori?!
/That's right! She wanted to make you unhappy! She wanted to take them all away from you!/
No, it's different now! Now, I don't hate her, I love her! I love Miaka!
/Feelings that will never be returned! You may as well give up! She is the one who keeps denying you love! And the others don't want you either!/
"Better weird than gay no da!"
Chichiri!
"Look out!"
"Hey you could at least have protected me too, you guys!"
"Miaka are you alright?"
/Miaka! It was always Miaka! They couldn't have cared less about you! The same with the time you were attacked by bandits. Miaka was more concerned about Hotohori than you!/
Hotohori was injured!
/It doesn't matter! She never asked once how you were! She didn't! She doesn't care about you! None of them do!/
"Nuriko! You're going to live with your uncle and aunt. You're a disgrace to this household!"
Yes! Now I can finally let Ryuen die!
"Get out of here! And don't ever come back!"
/You were happy to leave, weren't you? You wanted to leave that hateful family behind! Your relatives thought it was Ryuen who had died and they would accept you as Korin. That's what you wanted, wasn't it? Wasn't it?/
Yes!! I wanted everyone to forget about Ryuen! I wanted to be Korin! I wanted to be rid of my Celestial duties! I wanted to be happy!
/Were you happy? Are you happy now? Tell me, Nuriko. Tell me everything./

Yes! I was happy! I liked being a girl but, but..... when she died... When Byakuren died, it was like losing Korin again!
/Another person your strength couldn't save! You remember the cold, the bitter wind! Byakuren's limp, bloodless, half-frozen body as you carried it back down from that Hellish snow-covered mountain! You felt guilty, didn't you? Another limp body, another sister dead! You thought it should have been you in the first place! What would that have accomplished? But it didn't matter did it? Because she died anyway! And you couldn't stop it! Face it Nuriko! You can't save people who are fated to die! You don't have the power! Only Gods have that power! What do you think of Suzaku? Hmm? The "God of Love"?! How loving is a god who lets his own people die mercilessly?! Gods are no better than people! That's why Byakuren died! Because she was only a pawn in this great Celestial game of chess! If she hadn't died you never would have ended up here, in the Imperial Harem! Face it! You're all just pawns, just tools!/
NOO!!!! That isn't true! Suzaku wouldn't play with his followers like that! Byakuren wanted to become the Empress..... And she really did become like a little sister to me.... So I swore to live on in her place as well! She wanted to become the Empress, so I swore to become the Empress for her! When I came here, I didn't know what to expect. But when I saw the Emperor..... I ..... I fell in love with him! But I wasn't happy! It was like being trapped in a cage! I couldn't go anywhere! I hated it! But then, Miaka came and brightened up my world! Her and the others...... I was Nuriko, and I was happy!
/But were you truly happy? Did the others truly accept you? Did you fit in with them? Did you? Really?/
Of course! They are my fellow warriors! My brothers! They all accept me!
"Cross-dresser!"
"Go home to your dolls!"
No! The others weren't like the children from back then!
"Better weird then gay!"
"You- you're a man?!"
"I can't stand you!"
"You would have stayed underwater!"
No!!!!!! That isn't everything! Those are just the little things! Stop twisting their words! Another scene. Tomahome and me, when we first met.
"I don't like th-"
"You don't like me?!"
"No that's not it! I like you! But-"
"Oh! Toma-kins likes me!"
"No I don't! I can't stand you!"
"Nuriko stop hanging off Tomahome!"
No, that's not what happened!
/Yes it is! It's exactly what happened! You always wanted what they have! You wanted someone to love you! To hold you! You're selfish! So selfish you would tear them apart to get what you wanted! You're disgusting, and that's why no one wants you! It's true!/
NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The voice is getting stronger! It's crushing me!
"Take off that dress!"
"Fag!"
"You're a Dominatrix! You only care about yourself!"
"Please leave me alone."

"Your scream sounds like a homo being strangled!"
They're crushing me. Faceless shadows of my past and present. They are pushing me down, forcing me. I can't push back. My strength is gone! The voice is laughing at me! She's laughing at me!
/What's wrong, Ryuen? I thought you didn't want your Seishi strength! Isn't that what you said? Hmm? Ryuen? Why did you do it? Why? Don't you want these shadows to crush you? Force you into oblivion? You wouldn't let me go! You never let me die! I wanted to rest! I wanted you to go on! But you were too stupid! I hate you! I hate you Ryuen!/
Korin? Is that you? What are you talking about? What are you doing here?
/You swore to continue my life! My life! I died! It would never be my life! You never let me rest! I was forced to wonder this Hell on earth! Because of you! But, now that I've found you, I'll kill you! I'll kill you and then I'll finally be able to rest!/
I can see her now. She's still just like me. But she looks evil now. Her natural beauty is gone. She is laughing at me! She's laughing as these shadows continue to devour me! This isn't Korin! It isn't! Korin stop this now!
/Why should I? I want you, big brother! I want you to join me in my suffering! I want-/
She stops and looks away. I see a red light, engulfing me and erasing the shadows. A figure appears, Miaka!
/How did YOU get here?! You have no business here! Leave!/
"Stop hurting Nuriko! How could you do this to your brother?!"
Miaka is crying! Did she- Did she see all of my memories? No! I don't want her to know! But the shadows are gone now. Miaka is erasing them. She's fixing them, healing me. She hugs me, still facing Korin.
"You have no right to do this! Nuriko isn't you anymore! He is himself! He is part of you and part himself! Don't you see? You've only helped him to find who he really is! Leave him alone!"
/No! He's the reason I was forced to wander alone, all these years! He wouldn't let me rest!/
"He wouldn't, or you wouldn't let yourself? What's the real reason you can't rest?"
I can feel my memories returning. Korin is losing her control.
/Ryuen was always better than me! He was a Seishi, and I wanted to be with him all the time! I was only a girl child! I had little importance to my family! But then when I died, Nuriko was stupid! He threw away everything I had always wanted to become me! A worthless daughter! The child that had once brought our family great pride, was now the cause of shame and dishonor!! He was so stupid! I couldn't rest because I was filled with a new hatred towards him! He has no honor!!!/
The shadows and distorted memories are returning. She is going to overpower Miaka! The shadows are surrounding us. But, something is wrong. There are more this time! Miaka is holding me tighter. Her eyes are shut in concentration. Korin is trying to turn her memories too! I can't let this happen! But, the voices inside my head are getting louder drowning out my reason. I can't help her..... I'm helpless......
/Once again, your strength is useless! Give up Ryuen! I'll destroy you and your precious Priestess! You can't stop me!/
Miaka is being forced down. She can't keep Korin out, she isn't capable of this mental strain. With a scream my priestess collapses and we are plunged into the darkness.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"DAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!" He was thrown against the wall.

"Chichiri! What is it?! What happened?!" His fellow Seishi were looking at him wearing concerned and scared expressions. That power... It was incredible! Whatever it was that was inside Nuriko's mind was powerful... too powerful. He desperately hoped Miaka could fight back.
"Chichiri, tell us what happened!"
"The spirit ripped open my barrier on Miaka. It now has free access to her mind.... There is nothing we can do now, but wait and see what happens."
"What are you saying? We have to wait?!"
"Yes. The spirit obviously didn't like me interfering...." he sighed. He had to make sure he didn't smile, but being forced into a wall by a spirit he had deemed as simple was strangely amusing. I am not as strong as I once thought, or this spirit is a much more formidable opponent than I first presumed. I just hope Miaka and Nuriko will be able to fight it better than I did......
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I'm sorry you feel that way. But I don't love you."
Tomahome! What are you saying? You love me! You've always loved me!
"Oh Toma-kins! Let's go out to dinner and leave HER here to clean!"
No!! That's not right! Nuriko isn't like that! And Tomahome wouldn't leave me.
/But he did Priestess! He never loved you! You were wasting your energy!/
"Don't you ever speak to me like that again you brat!"
"You filthy little bitch!"
"Time to die!"
NO! He was being influenced by the Kodoku! That isn't my Tomahome!
/Yes it is!/
"I hate you Miaka! It's all your fault that this happened to me! You're the one to blame for my suffering!"
Yui-chan! What are you saying? You hate me? No! I remember back home, before this.... We're Best Friends! Yui!
/That doesn't matter now! Those times are in the past! She hates you now! She hates you and you'll never be friends again!/
No! That isn't true! I remember when she helped me get over my first break-up! And she always defended me! She was always there for me! SHE was the one who helped me get out of the book!
/Because she wanted Tomahome for herself! She was never your *friend*! You were the cause of her pain! You are the reason she is suffering!/
"I love Tomahome! So I'm going to take him for myself!"
"It hurts doesn't it Miaka?! Doesn't it?! This is the pain that I felt when I first entered this book! Where were you when those men attacked me?! WHERE MIAKA??!! I thought you were my best friend!"
/See? She called out for you, but you never came! You aren't a person to be depended on! And Yui is smart, unlike you! She saw you for what you *really* are!/
"Miaka. You always seem to need someone to protect you! You're helpless and selfish! I only became your friend because I felt sorry for you! You're pathetic!"
That's not true!! Yui and I have been good friends since childhood!

/Childhood? Is she the one you ran to when your mother yelled at you? When she told you that you weren't smart enough to make it into Jonan? Yui helped you study, even though she knew that you would never make it!/
"Why aren't you studying, Yui-chan?"
"Because I'm a genius and you're not?"
"Are you *really* my best friend?"
/Even you had doubts about your friendship!/
"Guess what mom? Yui and I are both going for Jonan! Isn't that great?"
"NO it is *not*! With every student that applies, your chance of getting in grows smaller! Yui's smarter than you! You'll end up having to fight each other!"
/But that doesn't matter, because you have to fight her now! Don't deny it! You want to fight her! You've always been jealous of her talents! You wish you were as smart as her! But you're not! You're just a dumb little girl!/
"Miaka, grow up!"
"Miaka, you have to take this seriously!"
"Innocent lives will suffer because of your actions! You have to take responsibility!"
Nuriko, Hotohori, Chichiri! Yes, they said those things, but they were only helping me to get stronger!
/Are you sure? How do you know that they don't hate you either? Nuriko admitted to hating you upon first glance! Hotohori only protects you because he wants the power of Suzaku to save his country! And Chichiri still doesn't think very highly of you! You're just a naive little girl who doesn't fully understand all the responsibilities that she has undertaken!/
You're wrong! I'm *much* more mature than when I first came here!
/Oh really? Is that why you almost let Tasuki die because you were too stubborn to see that Tomahome didn't love you!/
He was being influenced by Kodoku! And I knew that Tasuki wouldn't die that easily!
/Did you ever think that the Kodoku actually *enhanced* feelings that were *already* there? Did you ever consider that?! The Kodoku was increasing his hate for you! Hate that was already there!! And Tasuki almost *did* die! While he was patiently waiting for you to be healed, he spent three nights in agony! You didn't even visit him to see how he was! No! You were too wrapped up in your own little world! You're selfish and disgusting! No one else can break into your little bubble can they?! It's just you and Tomahome!! You don't care about anything else! You think that you can just summon Suzaku, get your best friend back and stay with Tomahome forever!! You *are* naive!/
That isn't true! I care about everyone! Or else why would I be here to save Nuriko from you!? You're the one with the hurtful past! Don't you see?! You're mad at your older brother! You thought of him as your idol! You can't be mad at him for what he did! He loved you! You were the most important person in his life! He couldn't handle the reality that you weren't ever going to be with him again! Don't you get it?!
/Shut up! You don't understand! You came from another world! You can't possibly understand the pain that I feel!/
You're right, Korin. I can't and I don't. But I do understand that you have to stop hurting others. You'll never be able to rest if you keep causing people pain!
/NO!! I'll destroy you! I'll destroy both of you! Then I'll finally rest! Just give in to me, Priestess of Suzaku! Neither you or Nuriko can stop me! You'll both die!/
No! We will stop you! Stop turning our memories against us! We have so many happy ones!

The shadows are forced back as a new scene plays. The Star Gazing Festival! Tasuki, Miaka and Nuriko. We're all having fun! Another scene. Miaka being a pig. Tomahome and Nuriko beating up on Tasuki. Chiriko animatedly asking Hotohori questions. Chichiri watching us to make sure we don't hurt each other. Mitsukake feeding Tama-neko and quietly watching everyone. We're all a big family! Another scene. Hotohori standing alone. Nuriko walks up beside him. He acknowledges him and they stand to watch the night. He slips his hand over Nuriko's! He does care about him!
/Stop this! Stop now!/
"Nuriko! We love you! We love you just the way you are! And you can't ever let anyone tell you different!"
The red light is growing. It's banishing the darkness. Korin is screaming. I can hear her, and my heart breaks. Miaka is facing her. Yelling at her. Telling her that if she forgets her hatred, she'll be able to rest. I stand beside her and face my sister. My beloved sister. Korin! Do you really hate me? Do you hate me so much that you would kill me and Miaka? A girl who's never done anything to hurt anyone else? Are you really that selfish? Tears are welling up in my eyes, but I don't care. She has to leave. I have to get her to rest. I combine my strength with Miaka's. The red light doubles and engulfs her. She is screaming.
/Ryuen!!! This is an outrage!!! You have shamed our family!! You don't deserve to be a Suzaku Shichiseishi!!!! Stop this!/
I surge my strength and when she finally stops screaming and struggling, I approach her. I embrace her and feel her cold tears on me. I look into her eyes. Can you forgive me? She shivers.
/Yes....../
I kiss her cheek. And with all my strength, I push her into me. We become one. At last. She will finally rest. I am crying. Miaka is crying. I can feel her fading, leaving me alone to be with my sister.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Miaka? Are you alright?"
She opened her eyes.
"Thank Suzaku!"
She shook her head, "no.... thank Korin."
Everyone looked at her confused. She looked at Nuriko, still weeping for his sister in his subconscious. Now they can finally be at peace. Nuriko...... I'm sorry. She looked up at her Seishi, "we should let him rest. He needs to be alone with someone right now." She stood and left the room, everyone followed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
/Nuriko....... I'm sorry./
Shh... It's alright. I'm sorry too. But it's over. You can rest now. Oh Korin.... I missed you so much!
/Nuriko?/
Yes?
/I missed you too........../


Fin!