"A Token of the Past"
It had been hand-written, and was addressed to an orphanage that I’d left so long ago that it was only a vague feeling of recollection - like deja vu, except the scar on my chin where I’d fallen down the stairs when I was six proved I was there. Plastered on every space that the post office could find was address correction stickers. Finally it’d found it’s way to America where one of Rahne’s friends had forwarded it to the Koji estate. I dug around in my pockets, searching for the hunting knife I hadn’t bothered to return to my sister yet, and slit the packing tape that was holding it closed. Damn, I’d thought, as I’d looked in the envelope, filled with yellowed paper and other everyday stuff that could be found in the back of someone’s musty file cabinet. I was already in a funk, since I found out a part of my past was going to be destroyed soon, and this had made my day worse. Just a bunch of stupid papers. I reached into the envelope to see what insult had been passed my sister’s and my way. All my hand encountered was the cool, slick feeling that only photos - Oops! - My bad - make that Professional, glossy photos - have. I pulled out a picture I could only assume was myself, moments after I was born. I’d seen enough copies of my father’s work to know from the composition and style of the photo, that it was one of his. What was written in the back had confirmed it: Sanada Ryo. 15 August, 1983. I dug around inside the envelope and was able to find a matching picture of my twin sister. Sanada Rahne. 15 August, 1983. +8minR. I could only assume that meant the amount of time between myself and Rahne. (What the fuck!? "Assume?" I am eight minutes older than she is! Get with the picture, Ryo!) Anyway, I must’ve looked like I’d seen a ghost, ‘cause Sage Date looked at me strangely and asked me if I was okay. I ignored him; kinda brushed past him in a major hurry. Rahne had to know about this. I found her in the living room, snuggled up against Rowen Hashiba and reading one of her Star Wars books. Kento Rei-Faun and Cye Mouri are sprawled in the middle of the floor playing one of their fighting games madly. She glances up at me kinda disinterestedly and submerges herself back into her book. Then she must’ve realized that something was up. She has this kinda emotional radar that picks up what I’m feeling like even if I’m outside and she’s inside. Okay, I admit it, I do the same thing with her. More now than I’ve ever been able to. I guess it’s because we’re linked better, like we’d gotten a better edition of The Weird Twin Thing for fraternal twins when I got the Armor of Wildfire and she’d gotten the Armor of Blizzard. ~ Ryo? ~ she’d asked me in Sign Language. Looking up at me like she knew something was up already. ~ Dad. ~ was all I could manage with my suddenly shaking hands. She took my hands, her book and her boyfriend forgotten, and we’d run upstairs and to her room. Since she’s the only female besides Mia, she didn’t share a room with anyone. It was the room we automatically went to when we needed privacy. Rahne shut the door as I sat down on her bed. I couldn’t stop shaking, and I was getting afraid that if I didn’t get into a better position, I’d come around to find myself on the floor. ~ Ryo? What is it? ~ Rahne asks again, sitting close to me on the bed. I took a deep breath and proceeded to dump the contents of the envelope onto the puffy, plaid quilt Cye had gotten her for her fifteenth birthday. She lays on her side and stared at the pile for a long time. I laid back, my legs hanging off the bed, getting up my nerve and not wanting to look yet. Not yet. My nerves had been jangled but good by those first two. With a tentative hand she picks up a photo of herself when she was a small kid - maybe four - hooked up to all sorts of life-support equipment. Absently she rubs her ears, as if remembering the pain she’d felt before she’d lost her hearing. Finally, my courage up, I roll over to face her and begin to look through the pile. A man’s wallet. Dog Tags with our fathers ID on them. Newborn sized hospital bracelets. A locket with two locks of fine, black hair inside. Pictures our father took of us before he was killed... - "Ryo - !" Rahne gasped, pulling a picture out. It was a picture of a pregnant woman - our mother. She’d died of an inoperable brain tumor a couple of years after we were born, so the amount of pictures we’d seen of her could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I pulled out another, and immediately began to figure out ways to keep the guys from finding that one. Rahne puts her hand on my wrist so she could see. She laughs and points her thumb over at her dresser. In that picture, he’d snuck into the bathroom while Rahne and I were getting a bath. I’d gotten mad at something, stood up, and - oops - instant blackmail picture. We sorted through things that finally linked us to the first few years of our lives. The past became alive and vivid before our eyes, in the form of our father’s old possessions. There was one of Rahne and I playing in a sandbox; old enough that we knew that she couldn’t hear and had forgotten how to speak. It didn’t look like it bothered us all that much. I stare at the one she had been looking at before. The one where she’s barely alive and hooked up to machines to live. I find myself feeling faint and slightly sick at the memory of that room...
The hallway’s a disgusting color, as if someone had just decided to pick through the colors of illness and spread it across the walls to remind everyone that people died in here. Ryo holds onto his father’s hand, tightly clutching the gift he got for his twin with his entire savings. He knew his sister was sick, he could feel it. It hurt. His ears constantly hurt, and he never felt warm enough, and he felt like he couldn’t breathe at night sometimes, and his throat and the edge of his mouth felt funny all the time. Like something hard and corrugated was rubbing it with every breath he took. Everyone told him he was wrong, that he couldn’t feel those things. Rainbow was the one who was sick, not him. He was just imagining things. He wasn’t though. Ryo sometimes feel asleep and could feel something cool and nasty smelling whooshing up and down his throat... Rahney felt it though, and so did he. Finally they reach her room. Ryo dashes up to the bed and climbs up. He looks into his sister’s washed out, blue eyes and smiles. She can’t smile, but he can feel her happiness. Ryo holds her present up and rips it open for her without saying a word. He’s soon holding a pretty butterfly necklace up so she can see. Her eyes seem to brighten in color and sparkle in thank you... He fumbles the catch and puts it on for her. This nice, old man with long white hair had told him that butterflies would help her get better faster... The wind whistles past my ears as White Blaze runs faster. Rahne’s arms tighten around my waist to keep from falling off, her head resting on my shoulder. I reach out to feel her emotions like we used to be able to do without armor and feel her sadness. The image of our father dying rises to the front of my mind. I blink back the tears that threaten to flow from my eyes, but find my lower lip trembling instead. Rahne’s arms tightened around my waist, bringing me out of my temporary funk. She looked over my shoulder at the rising slope of the mountain. I took her to the volcano. The one where I often go to recharge and meditate. It’s funny actually. All I have to do is say: "I’m going to the volcano" and nobody cares anymore that I’m going. "Ryo? I know you gave me the basic story about what happened, but you haven’t told me much about Inferno," Rahne called from behind me. I decided not to answer her until we got up to the top. And it came a little faster than I would’ve liked. I sighed and found a comfortable seat on some boulders. Rahne and White Blaze vaulted up to sit by me. "I really didn’t want to get into it. It wasn’t exactly my greatest moment, if you know what I mean." "So." My sister said, leaning against White Blaze. She ran a hand over the smooth surface of her sub-armor, and yawned sleepily. "Well, after I beat Talpa that first time, I went up against goon after goon until Saberstryke and Black Blaze. He not only broke my Wildfire swords, but White Blaze almost died. No, - White Blaze did die. Saberstryke was honorable enough that when I defeated him, that he made Black Blaze bring White Blaze back to life." Rahne sat up and shifted her legs so she was sitting cross-legged. "I wondered what was up. First time I saw White Blaze with the Soul Swords, I didn’t realize it was him until he came up and greeted me." I nodded and picked up a piece of obsidian, turning it over so I could see the light reflecting off it. I wanted just to go quiet, but both of us needed this. "Then Talpa went after you guys again..." Rahne finished quietly. I stood up and helped her to her feet. Together, we hiked over to the wider part of the rim. We started to loosen up and finally ended up practicing on each other. "So," I said, after finally working myself out of my funk. "How’s it going with Rowen?" Rahne rolled her eyes and threw a crescent kick my way, aiming for the arm guards of my sub-armor. I blocked it and threw a gentle palm strike at her. She blocked it in turn and reversed it so she did it next. "Typical. His idea of a date was exactly what we were doing." "Ouch. Talk to Kento. He’ll rock some sense into him." Side-kick. She screwed her face and grinned. "Yeah, with real rocks." Elbow-strike. Blocked by a large margin. "Nah. Just the Iron Rock Crusher." "Y’know," She said, throwing a punch. "We’re on the verge of some pretty bad puns here." "Really?" I’d replied, hoping she could catch the sarcasm. "I just thought we were talking ‘bout Rowen’s performance-" >Wham< I found myself flipped to the ground and staring up at my sister faster than I could react. How long has it been since she’s been fast enough and strong enough to take me down? I’m guessing the last time was when we were seven, and we were evenly matched. ~ Wow, ~ is all could think of to sign to her. She’d grinned and helped me up.
It was dark yet when Ryo opens his eyes. Instinctively, he knows it’s time. He climbs out of bed and was dismayed to see himself glowing. He puts on some of his old, grubby clothes; knowing they wouldn’t last through the week. He hopes that no one noticed that he’s glowing like foxfire. Ryo opens the window; it was a good three story drop to the pavement below. He jumps down, lightly landing on his feet. He starts running, not looking back. No one would honestly miss the rebellious fourteen year old, they would say it, but it was basically a lie. The one person he cared about was already half a world away in America. So long as his sister was safe, he could handle the fight he knows is coming... If she wasn’t safe, he couldn’t fight. Ryo hopes that the others his sensei talked about are ready. I steered sister down the busy street, both of us trying to ignore how cold it had gotten since the sun had gone down. Rahne pulled her coat a little closer and tried once again to keep up. My stride equals about two of hers when I’m in a hurry. I had a hold of her hand, so she was kinda committed to keep up, though. She wasn’t gonna complain, ‘cause she knew what the rush was. The local government of Toyama was going to have one of our old orphanages demolished. Rahne suddenly jerked free of my arm and dashed down an alley. I followed, wondering what plan she’d concocted as we were running. Now, I can keep up with my sister. It’s not hard, but she has the habit of catching even me flat-footed. And then I have trouble. She jumps and pulls herself up onto a fire-escape. Now I understood. She was taking us around the high road. We ran along the roofs and then down a spiral fire-escape to a landing halfway up an old high-rise office building. The climb down on the ladder’s was little shaky, due to the rust that coated it pretty generously. Finally we stood in front of the former orphanage. The cracked red brick building looked just like Rahne had always called it: "Arkham Asylum" like the place in the Batman comic. It had always felt like it was closing in around you; and was always dark and unfriendly. The cold wind tugs on our coats and send our hair flying around our faces. "Hard to believe we used to live there..." Rahne commented softly, while she brushed her long hair away from her face. I just ignored mine, I do that all the time. "But we did." Rahne tossed her hair away, then imprisoned it with a rubber band she found in her pocket. "How could they put kids in there? It was living hell." I sighed, and moved closer to her. "Same reason they could dump shit into the river and sea. Get the filth, human or otherwise away from them so it doesn’t pollute their environment. No thought as to what it does in reality . . ." She nodded and turned away, facing the way we came to get here. Facing the general direction of the Koji Estate. It was time to go home. The guys were waiting for us, and we couldn’t continue this. We had to face our futures and try to let go of our pasts. "Are you ready to go home?" I asked as I took her hand to lead us away from this specter from our past. " ‘Home’," she’d repeated, squeezing my hand. "Home. I love that word, Ryo." So do I, Sis. So do I.
Note from the Author and Editor Hope you enjoyed reading this. This was my first solo attempt at writing with Jedi (who was originally THE Jinx&Jedi) editing for me. After jumping in to help with "Dark Dreams", which was about halfway through, I wanted to try my luck. Feel free to mail us, we want to know what you think! Thanks, Jinx and Jedi