"Shards of Reality"
By Jinx&Jedi

Chapter Four

December 8.

      Snow falls on the silent forest, while the moon shines through a break in the clouds. The world sleeps as the silent snow falls delicately on the countryside.
      The Former Warlord of Corruption, Cale, nervously presses himself into the deep shadows. Since the assault had succeeded, his enemies had been making hit and fade attacks.
      Maybe they had given up after he’d made it to the Mortal World, though it’s very unlikely.
      His left arm is beginning to tire. Cale shifts his burden a little, trying not to wake the child. He pulls his cape up and tucks it around the child to keep him warm. The little boy murmurs in his sleep, but otherwise doesn’t stir.
      Cale shakes his head in mute wonderment. The child had only been a few months old when he’d last been around Cale, but he still remembered the Warlord.
      Good thing for telepathically enhanced memories, Cale thinks, stroking the child’s dark red hair with his fingertips.
      He leaves the safety of the shadows and sets off again. His armor makes no footprints in the snow, nor does it make as much noise as the other armors did as he moved.
      Finally the lights of the mansion become visible. Cale sprints and quickly closes the distance between forest and house.
      He sheds his armor, except for his cape, and pounds on the door to the kitchen.
      There’s the subtle noise of movement inside, then Mia Koji is looking out the window in the door at him. She reaches up to turn the porch light on.
      "No!" Cale whispers harshly, shaking his head emphatically.
      Mia’s hand drops from the switch and she opens the door for him. He rushes inside and pulls the curtain on the door closed.
      "Turn the lights out!" Cale orders, turning the light over the sink out.
      "Cale?" Mia demands, insulted at his gall. "What are you doing?! You come into my house-!"
      Cale shrugs off his cape, revealing his burden. Mia gasps.
      "If they find him they’ll take him back!" Cale says gruffly, holding the little boy closer to him. The little boy begins to stir.
      "I - Is that...?!"
      "Unca Cale?" a small voice asks drowsily. "Are we there yet...?"
      Cale rests his face in the child’s hair, kissing the top of the child’s head a little awkwardly. "Yes, Saen. We’re there... we’re safe."
      The little boy looks up, his features pale from lack of sleep. He looks at Mia and blinks his dark green eyes.
      Cale puts him down, and kneels so he can look the little boy in the face. "Now, I’m going to leave you here, Saen. Those bad people are looking for you. You be good for Miss. Koji, she’s going to take care of you."
      Mia doesn’t even register that Cale had essentially dumped Anubis’s youngest child with her. She finds herself kneeling down to his level. Oh my God, he looks like his father!
      Saen looks at her, his small features softer than his father’s, and possessed of a strange beauty. Otherwise, his face was Anubis’s. He has the same slanted eyes, the nose smaller and not quite as sharp. He yawns sleepily, turning right into her with a hug; resting his head on her chest.
      Mia stares at him in shock for a moment and then wraps her arms around him. His small hands grip her nightgown lightly as she picks him up. "Cale, how old is he?" Mia asks softly, settling Saen on her hip. Saen was well on his way back to sleep, trusting her unconditionally.
      Cale gets to his feet and leans against the doorjamb. "Five, I think. I could be wrong."
      Mia pulls the boots off Saen’s feet and carefully shucks his coat. Cale had found some child-sized clothes over in Netherworld warm enough to get him here.
      Saen murmurs softly and sighs as he falls asleep. Cale smiles once more and brushes the child’s downy hair with his hand, then teleports back to Netherworld.

       It was warm. She could feel warm sunlight falling on her cheek, and a cool breeze from an open window stirring her hair.
      An ancient traditional melody rises to her mind. She hums it, somehow not surprised she can remember the sound of humming and the right notes. She opens her eyes and smiles up at the ceiling.
      "Good morning."
      She sits up and looks at the red-haired man at the foot of her bed, not quite realizing that she heard his words.
      "Hi," Rahne greets. She stretches luxuriously, and runs her hands through her hair.
      "I hope you had a good night’s sleep."
      She smiles at him, and nods. "It was good sleeping weather last night."
      The man returns her smile, then his expression turns sad. "I came to say good-bye."
      "Good-bye?" she asks, feeling confusion setting in.
      The man nods and sits on the edge of her bed. "I can’t hold out any longer. My spirit is slowly being pulled away. Even now, this is the only way I could find to talk to you..."
      She blinks and looks to her nightstand. Her armor crystal gleams back at her the kanji of Hope. But now she realizes what’s going on... "Guardian?"
      He smiles and brushes the hair away from her face. "Yes, Rahne. I was hoping you’d recognize me."
      Rahne looks at him in disbelief. "You’re Anubis! Mia has a picture of you in her room!!"
      "I’m glad she’s still..." Anubis smiles at her and sighs wistfully, letting the thought trail off. "Rahne, please. Can you find my daughter?"
      Rahne nods, "I’ll try."
      Anubis reaches out and brushes a hand down her cheek once more. "That’s all I can ask. You have a brave soul, like your brother. Be strong for me."
      "I’ll try... Anubis, Thank you." She whispers, as the dream slowly breaks apart like clouds after a rainstorm.
      Rahne awakens and pulls into a fetal position in the airplane seat. She cries silently into the seat.
      Yet again, someone had been taken from her. With a pang almost physical, she realizes that it’s incredibly shallow of her to think like that... Especially since he gave up his beloved.
      "(Rahne? Cye? Zat you?)"
      Cye sits up with a yawn, and pats her shoulder with a gentle hand. "Yeah, Alex," he murmurs, buttoning his jacket.

December 10. Toyama High.

      Cye grins and leaps around his opponent. He shoots. The ball sails neatly over Ryo’s head and into the hoop.
      "Damn it," Ryo mutters, grabbing the ball as it rebounds.
      So far the Shirts and Skins game was gong more like a slapstick comedy than a actual basketball game.
      Rowen laughs in a rapid fashion that sounded more like a staccato giggle and scuds after Ryo, trying to pilfer the ball.
      Ryo gives Cye a look of disgust as he flies past. Leave it to the English Brat to bring Rowen back a couple pounds of the homemade sugar-buzz called Mackinaw Island Fudge.
      He had eaten half a pound of it for lunch today! He was acting like he was on drugs, he was so hyper.
      Ryo swings around as he tries to get around Rowen; his elbow colliding solidly with the blue-haired boy’s gut.
      Rowen goes down and starts giggling. It eventually becomes a silent laugh that looked more like a convulsion. He rolls over, and rises into a sort of kneeling position, but lets himself go back down as he sees the look on Ryo’s face.
      "Knock it off, Ro’," the black-haired boy growls, stomping at Rowen. Tears pour from his eyes as he climbs to his feet.
      Alex groans, running his hands through his hair and turning around so as not to see his teammate’s antics.
      From the other side of the gym, Sage shakes his head and rolls his eyes. He looks back to the wrestling mat, absently fidgeting with the ice pack that was resting on his knee. Kento was going up against one of the other guys in school. The other boy was as tall as Kento and not as muscular.
      He knew it too.
      Kento smiled wolfishly, and grabbed him. The other boy struggled madly, but it was over. Kento turns him around, slams him to the mat, and neatly pins him.
      Sage chuckles and winks towards the gym door where a Chinese-looking girl was watching the match. Kento’s girlfriend returns the wink and then points to Sage, her face concerned. He points at the ice pack and shakes his head. He makes a horizontal sliding clap with his hands and then pats his knee.
      The girl shakes her head and then says slowly in sign language. ~ Dummy, you are not supposed to do that! ~
      Sage ducks his head and shouts, "Hai. But it was a nice trip, Danie."
      At the sound of his girlfriend’s name, Kento gets up and crosses the mat to talk to her. Sage carefully gets to his feet and follows.
      "Hey," Kento says softly, bending a little to kiss her. "Like that match?"
      As they break the kiss, Danie gets a funny look on her face, and then says sarcastically. "Oh, yes... spandex looks sooo good on you."
      Kento, in response, snaps the shoulder straps of his American-style wrestling uniform against his chest and strikes a muscle pose.
      Sage snickers and then peels off the knee sized Band-Aid to show her what he did. Danie winces and kneels to look at the scrape.
      "Who’s the Einstein who gave you this?" Danie asks sardonically, thumbing over to the basketball court where the others are playing. At that moment, Rowen starts giggling again as he trips on his own shoe-laces. "Oops. My bad. Rahne’s gonna love that."
      Sage shrugs. "He didn’t mean to." Kento leans over and kisses her again. "Umm, I’ll leave you two alone now."
      He jogs back in and over to the game to relieve Alex, who was getting severely teased at the moment from a gaggle of girls at the door on that side of the gym.
      ">- Awww, getting tired, fire-top? - Wimp-y! - HAHAHA - He’s such a cutie...! - ...wonder if he’s single? *giggles* - Hey, skinny butt! - Red hair! - Soooo kewl!!<"
      "Hey ladies, what part of ‘Boy’s Gym’ don’t you understand? Get a move on," Sage states gruffly, ushering them out and shutting the gym doors. Sage ruffles Alex’s fiery hair and shoves him gently toward the bleachers. He was still healing from the physical injuries and the malnutrition, and thus tired quickly.
      They switch team members so Cye and Sage are on one team and Ryo and Rowen are on another. "Thanks, Sage," Alex murmurs quietly and sits down.
      "No prob, Ogre."
      Alex sighs and draws his slightly scrawny-looking legs up to his chest. "I wish I was."
      Sage sighs and steals the ball from Rowen. Alex didn’t see it yet, but he was slowly developing a dancer’s body, thanks to a certain deaf girl.
      "Hey, Ogre! Sing something from Phantom for us!" Cye shouted, covering Sage as he drives in for the basket.
      "Yeah!!" Ryo agrees, swiping at the ball. Sage rapidly turns out of he way, sticking his tongue out at the black haired boy in jest.
      Alex takes a deep breath and sings. "Bravi, bravi, bravissimi..."
      Ryo grins and chases after Sage. Mia would love to hear him sing like that!! She was nuts about him singing in choir and being in band.
      "HENTAI!!" Sage howls as Rowen yanks his shorts down, revealing bright green briefs. Sage grabs his shorts and yanks them back up, the ball forgotten.
      "Look at your face in the mirror in the mirror - /I am there inside!" Alex sings, ignoring them.
      Ryo laughs and grabs the runaway ball. Alex was singing away, totally ignoring them. So far his voice hadn’t even cracked once.
      "I’M GONNA KILL YOU, YOU HENTAI!!" Sage bellows, charging after Rowen.
      "I am your Angel... /Come to me: Angel of Music..." Alex sings, shutting his eyes to maintain a poker face.
      Rowen laughs and makes it across the gym before Sage can take three steps. Sage, totally oblivious to this fact chases after him with murder on his mind.
      "I guess that’s the game, huh?" Cye asks, catching Ryo’s pass and tucking the ball under his arm.
      Alex shrugs, still singing, and looks up at the ceiling. "Sing once again with me/our strange duet . . ."
      Ryo smirks, "Depends if Sage catches Rowen before the period ends."
      "YOU ASSHOLE!! YOU ARE SICK!!" Sage screams in fury, now wielding a badminton racket to hit Rowen with if he did manage to catch him. "HENTAI!!"
      Alex rolls his eyes and gives up singing, his face a little red.
      "So is that what Rahne looked like when she chased you with the razor?" Ryo asks comically, sitting next to Alex on the bleachers.
      "Nah, she looked downright evil..." Cye answers with a smirk, uncapping his water bottle.

      Danie pulls her sweater tighter and shivers. She’d promised her best friend that she’d wait for her, before heading to the next bus to go meet the new exchange students for this year.
      The bus finally pulls up to the curb, and Rahne gets off. Without her coat.
      "Hey, Danie!" she greets brightly, sweeping her long hair from her face.
      "Hey." Danie says with a shiver. "God, don’t you ever get cold?"
      "Nani?! Of course I do! I was in a hurry and forgot it here!" Rahne retorts a little perturbed.
      "No sense, no feeling..." Danie mutters, her accent stronger with her annoyance, and hauls her friend inside.
      "It runs in the family," Rahne answers simply with her trademark smile.
      Danie sighs, rolling her eyes. "It would for you, wouldn’t it?"
      Rahne beams and stops at her locker and rapidly spins the dial of the combination lock. She opens it, throws her books in, and grabs her coat.
      Together they run out to the waiting bus, and flop down in a seat. They giggle and start talking in sign language about their boyfriends.
      Finally the bus pulls out and they’re on their way to the college.
      It had been a surprise for Rahne to learn that her best friend knew Kento. It had been even an even bigger one when Kento and Danie had started going out together.
      Rahne had known Danie for years, and they’d quickly learned how much fun it was to bug people with her accent. Danie was Scottish on her father’s side, and Chinese by her mother’s. This was going to be interesting to see what the exchange student’s reaction was going to be to hear her speak.
      Soon, the bus pulls up to the curb in front of Toyama University. When Rahne sees what building they’re headed towards, she breaks away from Danie with a grin.
      Danie quickly runs to catch up with the others to distract them from what she knew Rahne was going to do.
      Rahne steps behind an arch, and summons her sub-armor. She catches Danie’s grin and leaps to Mia’s office window. Mia’s inside reading some papers.
      Rahne presses her face to the glass and makes a face against the window.
      Mia turns around and jumps in surprise. Then with a mock angry look, she shakes her fist at the younger girl.
      Rahne backflips down with a grin and banishes her sub-armor.
      It takes her only a decent run to catch up with Danie.
      "You are nuts, Bliz’. You know that? You are nuts!" Danie hisses as Rahne spins a ecstatic pirouette.
      "Sorry! I had to do it!" Rahne giggles.
      The student they were expected to show around was a blonde haired girl. She’s the same age as they are and about Rahne’s height.
      "Sharra Roarke?" Danie asks shoving Rahne playfully.
      "Yep. Hi." The girl stared at them strangely for a moment, then laughed. "I take it she’s the nut you wrote me about?"
      Rahne shoves Danie playfully out of her way and grins, offering her hand for a hand shake. "Hi, I’m Sanada Rahne!!"
      Sharra shakes and then bows. Rahne smiles in delight and returns the bow.
      "This is sooooo cool!" Rahne laughs, ecstatic that she may have another friend. Being deaf set her apart from many of the others at school. And being different meant few friends.
      Together they walk out to the bus.
      Halfway there, Rahne stops and looks over her shoulder.
      Every nerve in her body was screaming that danger was near. It feels as if a dark shroud was hovering just beyond the range of her sight...
      At the same time over at Toyama High School, Ryo turns as a shiver not borne of cold travels down his spine.
      Something was approaching...

To be continued...

Thanks, Warning, and Disclaimer.

Okay, first off, we’d like to Thank She-Ronin for the character Sharra, all the help she’s given us with ideas for this fic, and for solving the boxers vs briefs debate! LOL Next, the warning: DON’T LET JEDI WRITE WHEN SHE’S BUZZED ON CAFFEINE AND CHOCOLATE! Disclaimer: All copyrighted material is property of their respective owners.


The Authoresses:

Jinx & Jedi :-)