Hotohori’s Angel
By Mushian Heraban

The sun rose into the sky as Hotohori watched the seishis raise from their sleep. It seemed a nice day to everyone, except for Hotohori.
“What has you in a knot, Hotohori-san?”, Tasuki had noticed his darkened face, “Found someone prettier than you?”, he joked. “Don’t make fun of this day, Tasuki.”, ChiChiri said with worry on his face.
“What has everyone by the neck?”, Tasuki growled.
“She died....”, Hotohori said monotonously, “This very day.” Miaka had her face stuffed when she looked up, “Nani?”, she said spraying food all over Tamahome, “Who died today?”
“Aiaki.”, Chichiri said, trying to cheer up the distressed emperor.
A flashback from Hotohori’s childhood flashed through his head as he explained, “I was very young when I met her. I had wondered from the safety of Konan following a butterfly. Hordes of men ganged up around me. They said they were going kill me and take my head back to Konan. I started to cry very loud. She probably heard me crying cause just then men started yelling in pain. Her voice was like an angel’s, ‘Don’t worry kid, nothing’s gonna happen to you while I’m around.’. She had beaten those evil men and was taking me home. When we got there, she was made an honorable guard and my best friend. But...” The beautiful ruler’s eyes flowed with tears, “...on this day several years ago... revenge was taken for those men. They murdered her brutally...they made me watch.” The scene of Aiaki screaming in pain ran through his head over and over, “What hurt most... they laid her in front of me. She told me, ‘I love you, Hoto...’, I watched her eyes close... she died with a smile on her face...”, the deeply burdened Hotohori turned and left. Tasuki nodded, “I guess she really meant a lot to him.”
Miaka watched Tamahome, “My goodness! You’ve saved me dozens of times, Tamahome! And it only took one rescue for that girl to die!”, Tamahome replied, “I’m gonna be brutally murdered!!!!!” They both clutched each other laughing madly.
“It’s not funny, you two.”, Mitsukake said, eating, “Hotohori-san goes on about how he should’ve protected her... its very sad.”
Chiriko looked up from his work, “Maybe you should comfort him. It would make him feel better.”
Tasuki then- in baka-ish manner- laughed, “Maybe we could go a tell him how ‘gorgeous’ he is!”
Foom! ChiChiri rammed Tasuki straight into the floor, “Leave Hotohori alone!!”, Nuriko (who had just woken up, na no da^_^) looked about the room, an angry monk, crushed bandit, insane miko and seishi, and sweat dropped doctor and student, “What’s going on? Has everyone gone mad? And where’s Hotohori-sama?”
Tasuki pulled himself of the floor and grumpily answered, “He’s off putting water on his face.”
And with that Nuriko rushed off yelling, “No! Hotohori-sama! Don’t cry!”
Hotohori sat by an old lake, “Aiaki...”, he cried to himself. Nuriko, exhaustedly, plopped down next to him, “Hoto-san... what’s wrong?”
“Don’t call me Hoto.”
“I was just too tired to say-”
“Don’t call me...”
The cross dresser fell into tears at his words, “Hotohori!”, he screamed, slapping Hotohori with such strength it launched him across the lake, into a tree.
“I don’t know what’s going on but I’ll tell you something, JUST BECAUSE YOUR AN EMPEROR DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN YELL AT YOUR FRIENDS!”, he turned and ran back to the castle, crying madly. “Nuriko!”, Hotohori cringed in pain. The pain of his loss and the pain from the tree against his head made the whole day worser than it was already was. “Oh, Aiaki.... what am I doing wrong?”
Tasuki started his way out of the castle when Nuriko ran him over, “Oi, am I a door mat that says ‘konichiwa’ on it all of a sudden?” Nuriko didn’t hear him but ran straight past the other seishis crying. Chichiri chased after him. “What’s wrong, Nuriko?”
“Betsuni! Betsuni!”, he cried to Chichiri from behind the door. Nuriko felt horrible, but asked Chichiri, “What’s with Hotohori? He’s being so... mean.”
Chichiri sighed and explained it to him.
Later that day, Hotohori walked gloomily back to his castle. He didn’t know what to do with himself.
“Hotohori, are you okay?”, Miaka pondered, “Nuriko came back crying and left Tasuki as flat as a pancake.”
“I just really miss Aiaki, she meant everything to me.”, the emperor clutched his heart, “I didn’t want to lose her... I should’ve protected her.”

That night, Hotohori sat outside on the steps thinking to himself, “Aiaki... why must I be torn between you and my friends?” The wind whistled through the trees when Hotohori heard humming.
“State your business, stranger!”, he yelled.
“Hoto...”, the voice whispered.
“Aiaki?”, Hotohori shook his head. No. It can’t be her. He thought to himself, She’s dead.
“Hoto...”, he didn’t want to fight it, he wanted to run towards the voice and grasp whatever was there but he couldn’t. It was hard, but Hotohori had to tear himself from the voice and return to the security of his room. Yet the voice continued to whisper his name, it wanted him to come, to follow.
“Hotohori left early.”, Miaka said, “He said he was off to find Aiaki.”
Indeed Hotohori had left to hunt down the mysterious voice from the night before. He decided not to return till he found what had attracted him.
The scenery was beautiful but that wasn’t what matter to him. What did matter was that our emerald emperor found his childhood friend. “Aiaki, I will find you.”, he whispered to himself, “No matter what it takes.” The leaves in the tree next to him rustled softly. He turned his head and spotted a pair of silver eyes.
“Aiaki! Its me!”, he shouted, but the eyes slide through tree branches faster than Hotohori could see. “No! Aiaki!” He chased after the rustle of leaves. “Aiaki... please.” The body stopped abruptly right over the spot Hotohori met Aiaki.
“Hoto...”, the voice whispered.
“My Hoto.”, a head appeared through the leaves.
“Suzaku’s gift!”, Hotohori dropped to his knees praising Suzaku.
“Oh, its so wonderful to see you again.”, She dropped from the tree. She had long red-blonde hair and silver eyes, Hotohori thought her eyes complemented her outfit, a red and gold summoning outfit designed for common, everyday people. Aiaki was as beautiful as ever, he couldn’t believe it.
“Aiaki. I don’t know what to say... its just...”, Aiaki covered his mouth with a finger.
“There’s no need for words, Hoto. Just savor the moment...”, then she brought his head closer, kissing him in the silence of the forest. Memories ran through his head, of learning to defend himself, on being a emperor, and such. She released him and our beautiful emperor started to cry.
“Aiaki… I don’t understand…”, Aiaki smiled, shook her head, and hugged Hotohori.
“That explaination is not to be answered at this time.”