Notes: PSME and the characters thereof are the property of Hakusensha, Victor Entertainment, and the creation of Hiwatari Saki. And it's a great idea...but I really didn't like the way they handled the relationship between Sakura and Issei. It was too abrupt, too not full of emotion and heartbreak. I'm a *girl* dammit - I need those things! So, I rewrote it, sort of. :-) to tell me I got it right.

Point of View

"So that's what happened." Issei looked down at his hands, refusing to meet Sakura's eyes, or see the pity in them.

The girl said nothing, but stood up from her seat upon her bed. Kneeling down in front of Issei, she took his hands in her own.

"I'm so sorry, Issei." Her voice carried none of the expected sting of pity or judgement that he feared. Issei looked up hesitatingly from his
hands, only to see Sakura's eyes closed, her face turned away from his. Tears broke free of her eyelashes, finding their way down her cheeks.
Issei turned his hands over, taking hers into his own.


She turned her face back to his, her eyes opening slowly and he could see the pain in them. Pain, not pity.

"Sakura, what's wrong?" His voice was soft, but his anguish apparent. He had no desire to hurt this girl, his friend, not even through
ignorance. What had he said that upset her so badly?

Their eyes dropped again for a moment, to gaze at their clasped hands. Issei thought of the many times that Enju had confided in Shusulan, the
comfort, the companionship, the support they had offered each other. Shusulan who had held her hands when Gyokuran had rejected her.
Shusulan, who now held his hands…again.

A rush of fear and self-pity almost choked him. That single kiss had been so sweet, his throat constricted at the memory. Issei's eyes closed
against the shrinking horror he felt about that moment. Jinpachi would never speak to him again, he was sure of it.

He pulled his hands away from Sakura to cover his eyes, while his own tears began to flow. He sobbed miserably for a moment, reveling in his
own anger and wretchedness. But he couldn't stay angry for long. Not as Enju, who had been through this so many times, and not as Issei, who
would never be able to go through this again.

Hands touched his shoulders. Issei's head jerked up to find himself mere inches from Sakura. She gripped his shoulders firmly, her face

"Issei, don't do that to me!" Her voice was sharp, reminiscent of Shusulan's. Almost, Issei smiled. He took a deep breath and managed to
pull himself into a semblance of placidity.

"I'm sorry, really. I'm fine." He could almost believe it. He would be fine again, one day.

Sakura's face relaxed, but her hands remained on his shoulders. He gazed at her, trying to read her face for some clue to her own tears.

"Sakura, why were you crying?" He asked simply. He watched as she flushed, then went pale.

"Because I knew… I know exactly what you had gone… what you're going through." Her voice, when she spoke, was barely audible and she wouldn't meet his eyes.

The barest breath of an idea brushed across his mind. It couldn't be…

"You *knew*…what…" Issei's voice faltered.

"Enju…," Sakura began, but the words would not come. She looked into Issei's eyes, pleading with him not to make her continue.

In sudden understanding, Issei could see in Sakura's eyes, what Enju could never read in Shusulan's.

"I am so very sorry…" he began, but Sakura shook her head to quiet him. Her hands gripped his shoulders again, and when she turned her face up
to his, her body leaned forward, pulling them together. Her lips brushed his own, softly, and he felt his arms reach up to enfold her of their own

As if it were a cinematic effect, in that lingering moment, Issei could see Enju reaching out to kiss an unresponsive Gyokuran, layered upon his
own debacle as he kissed Jinpachi. Now as Shusulan, through Sakura, admitted at last her true love for her friend, he resolved not to reject
the offer as he had been rejected.

His arms closed around Sakura's body and he returned the kiss willingly.

Sakura's lips were warm and amazingly soft…and sweet. Issei let one hand trail though Sakura's hair as he pressed his own lips to hers. At first
she tensed, but then her body softened, molding itself against him. She leaned forward once more and he felt himself toppling over, drawing her
on top of him.

When at last they separated, Sakura blushed rather adorably. Issei knew that he too was flushed, he could feel the heat in his cheeks.

Sakura looked away for a moment then turned back, obviously having resolved to say something. She cleared her throat. "Issei, I don't want
you doing this out of pity."

He felt a flush of anger wash through him, but waited until it passed before he spoke. "Are we friends?" he asked quietly.

She looked at him quizzically but nodded.

"Then believe me, as a friend. We have a remarkable set of memories, and experiences and powers from these past lives. But," and he drew her in close once again, "Sakura, we are not the same as Enju and Shusulan. Please, please don't ever think that I can't tell the difference." He pulled her close and they kissed again, this time forgetting their pasts completely, and thinking only about the person next to them.


"Didya hear? Issei and Sakura are getting married!" Jinpachi couldn't help himself. He loved to gossip…especially to Alice. One more moment in
Mokuren's presence…

"Really? That's wonderful! Oh, I am so happy for them!" Alice laughed, as she imagined Issei, happy at last, and Sakura's face lit up with joy. She stopped walking to face her friend, giving him her undivided attention.

"Yeah, I think we should all get together and get them a gift…" Jinpachi nattered on as the two stood together in the street, each one thinking of both their pasts, and their futures.


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