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-Part One: Transform-One: Encounter-Kaeru-Sasuke-Two: Reunion-Kaeru-Sasuke-Three: Travel-Kaeru-Sasuke-Four: Discovery-Kaeru-Sasuke-Part Two: New Life-Five: Capture-Kaeru-Sasuke-Six: Training-Kaeru-Sasuke-Seven: Ancestors-Kaeru-Sasuke-Eight: Continue-Kaeru-Sasuke-Nine: Tolerance-Kaeru-Sasuke-Ten:

Shine-Kaeru-Sasuke-Part Three: Amor Omnia Vincit-Eleven: Search-Kaeru-Sasuke-Twelve: Gates1-Kaeru-Sasuke-Thirteen: Gates2-Kaeru-Sasuke-Fourteen: Trance-Kaeru-Sasuke-

-Fifteen: Back-Kaeru-Sasuke-Bonus: Just Be Friends SongFic-Bonus: Kiss Goodbye SongFic-Bonus: Hua Tian Cuo SongFic-Bonus: Shoujo S SongFic-

-Part One: Transform-One: Encounter-KaeruMy first day of school. Why was I being forced to do this? "Kaeru, we live in the High Ring, and can get you the best education in the world. Don't pass up this opportunity!" I really wanted to pass up the opportunity. Oh, I bet you're wondering how we know that we have the best education in the world. Well... that's pretty easy. You see... we live in the High Ring in The Metropolis. The Metropolis is the most advanced place in our society, and in The Metropolis, the High Ring is the most high class, high tech area of the place. So why am I not happy with this huge education? I'm treated like total crap. Yup... I've been in the school system since kindergarten and they either don't know me at all... or they just tease me to no end. Hopefully today was a new year. It's finally high school. I'm finally older. I'm hoping the other kids/teens all matured. Of course, I had to get into my uniform. The school administration sent me an email telling me to go and buy one, since 'It's high school! Time for change, so time for a uniform!' of course, as soon as I got that email, mom ran out and got a uniform for me. It was a style that screamed 'Japanese School Girl', but it was administration, so I didn't want to argue. Strangely, it was also the summer version. Because it was a day after my birthday, (January 1) It was absolutely no time to be wearing it. Oh well, the school was able to change its climate, so I guess they felt like summer in winter. I slowly tied back my jet black hair, it went down to my shoulder, and it felt too short. Next, I put the shirt on. The sleeves were short, they only went a little higher than my elbow, and it wasn't my favorite color. (I don't look good in white.) At least the skirt was blue, but it was all pleated and higher than my knees. (To me, this is one of the most skimpy things I've ever worn. I'm beyond modest.) "Kaeru! Get to school! The teleport is ready!" believe it or not, this time is not super-far into the future. It's only 2013! (Yes, 2012 is a myth... but a fun myth!) "Yes, mom! Getting there!" I grabbed my bag with all my books and my lunch. School was in 5 minutes, and the teleport had a weird 5 minute lag, so I was JUST going to make it. "Wait! You forgot the tie!" I ran back, thankful that my mom reminded me, put it on, and mentally prepared for a scolding at school. "OK, I'm going now!" I stepped in, and turned into a silvery mass. "Have fun!" The only fun part about school was coming and going. During the teleportation, you could see the entire city as you whizzed past buildings and people. It was pretty much flying around without wings. During this time, I thought about my schedule. Science first, then math, English, history, culture, technology, and physical education. All my classes were AP except for science, which I had to share with the annoying populars. After contemplating my goals for the year other than 'Don't

get beat up', I saw the school, which meant my trip was over. Of course, everything must come to an end eventually, and I got down to the school teleport, materialized, and ran into the room. "I'm so sorry I'm late! I forgot about my uniform, and I didn't set my alarm-" "Miss... Ranawa? I'm sorry, but there's no excuse for being late in my class. Please take a seat." I sat in one of the two seats they left in front for me."Also... what's this about uniforms? This is a public high school for the High Ring. We don't have uniforms!" She looked at me like I was crazy, and I finally found out why I got that email. Some of the populars looked at me and giggled. Apparently one of them hacked into the school system (who knew they had the mental capacity? Oh wait, they must've bribed a nerd.) and got an administrator email, then used it against me. Not that I was surprised. At all."I'll repeat for Kaeru, we have a new student this year. He came from the world below," Which is likely your home now. to study here." She motioned towards the mystery boy, who was nonchalantly gazing out of the window."Why don't you introduce yourself?" He snapped back into reality, and walked to the board, grabbed a marker on our compboard, (It's basically our main classroom board projected onto the wall l that you could interact with.) and wrote his name in English and another language... that certainly was NOT English. He sounded out his name as he wrote. "Sa-su-ke Sa-ru-to-bi." He placed the marker on the ledge provided, and started his intro."My name is Sasuke Sarutobi. I'm named after a famous ninja, but I don't expect myself to live up to my name." He had a unique look, his hair was all messy, but it looked cool at the same time."I don't like much, but I don't hate much." His clothes were the same style as mine, but a boys' uniform version, and somehow looking messier and more formal at the same time."I'm not here for a better education or because I was kicked out of my former school." His deep voice rang and reverberated through the classroom."I'm here to complete a simple mission." He looked straight at me. He looked at me with clear black eyes, full of resolve that could pierce your soul."I'm looking..." Eyes full of resolve, insight, and... loneliness and sadness?"for my Destined One." Laughter burst from the boys side, and from the other side, the application of lip gloss. I, being in the middle, just put my head down to avoid the chaos. The teacher attempted to quiet us down with a shout, but her voice was swallowed in the craziness. The new kid who was more popular and well know than me called out for silence, and the teacher assigned him a seat. The only free seat. That seat was next to me. "Okay class, now that you've met Sasuke, please show him around the school and answer any questions he may have. On another note," She erased Sasuke's name and opened syllabus for the quarter. "For this first quarter, we will be studying far east culture and legends." Everyone groaned. "This is Freshman History!" She paused to make sure everyone was quiet. "A legend we will be looking at carefully is the Legend of the Guardians. Since we have a little time left, we will have a quick intro on tomorrows lesson." She pulled up a power point and started the lesson preview. "The Legend of the Guardians emerged in a small village in China called Heibai." She advanced the slide. "These Guardians were said to have magic powers from something called 'Saineng', or, energy. To use these powers, they've been said to use 'Kima', or actual words, and 'Zhooyuu', or magic stones that could change shape in any way." She advanced the slide. "These warriors could use a maximum of 15 spells, since they were aligned to a special element." She advanced the slide to reveal the picture of an octagonal chart with lines that were complete and incomplete. What the heck was that? "This is the chart they used to track who had which power. We don't know how they knew, but they did somehow!" She looked at the clock. "Since periods are shortened today, this is all the time we have. Class dismissed!" Needless to say, everyone swarmed around the new guy, so I made a quick escape to the door. When I got to math class, I got the same surprise. "We have a new student today!" Sasuke repeated his same intro with the same reaction, and the same sort of seat next to me. During the teacher's explanation of this-is-this and that-is-that, I decided to pass him a note.

'Hi, my name is Kaeru. Are you in all my classes?' I slid it to his desk, and he looked at it, and took his pencil out to write a reply. 'No clue. Are you one of those quiet types?' 'I guess. People tease me a lot, so I don't bother talking. Anything you say can be turned against you.' 'Smart, but you forgot the part about whatever you do as well.' 'Yeah, you're right.' 'Are you a nerd of sorts?' 'Why would you say that!?' 'There's no problem with it. You just write notes with such correct grammar and spelling.' 'No problem? Where are you from? And you do too!' The teacher stopped the class, it was time to switch. Like last time, the crowd swarmed Sasuke while I shrinked away. I ran to history. This same rinse-wash-repeat continued until lunch, where I sat in the usual area: alone. But not this year. A bunch of populars rushed to my table immediately as I sat down. what were they going to tease me about this time? The fact I don't know my real parents? The fact that I've been searching for several years but have turned up empty every time? The fact that I'm an outsider from The Metropolis (I'm only here because my adoptive parents lived here.)? "Hey, Ranawa. Heard you're with that new kid." They kept chiming in. It wasn't the usual... but it was still hurtful. "Why bother with him? He's out of your league!" "Just leave him with us, okay honey?" I just sat there and ate my ramen. Ignore. That's my game. Unfortunately, they didn't like it. "Hey! Listen to us!" I ignored. "You..." I ignored. "Ugh... how do you like THIS?" A foot that was originally connected with the floor connected to my stomach, and despite coming from a girly-girl, it actually hurt. I felt the need to throw up, but I held it in. If I got up, I'd get another foot. But if I stayed down, I would lose more of the honor I didn't have. So, I struck back with a witty comment. "It was a great gift..." I stood up."Thank you." She lunged forward, attempting to punch me. I tried to step back, but my stomach pain prevented me from doing so."Urk..." At that moment, I felt an arm behind my back, gently keeping me off the floor. When I opened my eyes, I could see Sasuke's messybut-cool hair and the populars fist in Sasuke's hand. "Pick on someone else." His deep voice made him that much more intimidating. When he delivered the message, he let go of her hand, and the populars all ran away. He then picked me up, and carried me to the nurse's office."Miss Ranawa... don't worry." The pain faded, I felt like my mind was fading with it, while words were feeding, ringing into my mind. 'We are Destined.' This was the last time I saw him for a long time. The one who started everything, Sasuke Sarutobi.

-SasukeAn obligation. Haven't I had enough already? "Sasuke, after Hio left, you have no one as a partner. You can't continue like this." "I can and will." They narrowed their eyes, and proposed an idea. "We know a solution. Just go there for one day and see if you can find anyone. If not, you may continue solo. But if you lie to us... you already know the consequences." It was a fair deal. I wouldn't find anyone like Hio. She was my Destined. I would find no other. It was set, tomorrow I'd go to that dimension again to find a new partner in my father's 'Metropolis'.

--I woke up, and got dressed in my usual school outfit. "Transport: Metropolis." I imagined the school I was to go to, and used my saineng to get there, much easier than those silly teleports. The next instant, I opened my eyes and stood before the school. I hate this city. Nothing is different, it's all perfected tech to rot the brain. I looked around to see if anything changed since I went here to find Hio, all that was different was the age. I stepped in, hearing my feet echo in the dusty hallway. Clearly, the front door had long since been devoid of purpose. After stopping in the main office and picking up my schedule, I went to find my first classroom, science. I entered the room, and found everyone, including the teacher, enter by teleports. She looked at me, and then suddenly seemed to remember an email from staff. "Oh! You must be the new student! Welcome, please stand right there," she pointed to a spot next to the window."And we'll figure out where you sit later." I stared outside. To the place with an artificial sky. Nature had been driven out, only to let the flow of 'knowledge' in. The whole class seemed to be in now, with the exception of two seats. One was probably for me. But the other?"It looks like we're missing a student, so class, please welcome the new student-" She was cut off by the teleporter and a girl wearing a sailor fuku came running in. "I'm so sorry I'm late! I forgot about my uniform, and I didn't set my alarm-" "Miss... Ranawa? I'm sorry, but there's no excuse for being late in my class. Please take a seat." She sat in the right-most seat that was empty, and looked in the crowd behind her, then puffed her cheeks and stared at the front while fidgeting."I'll repeat for Kaeru, we have a new student this year. He came from the world below to study here." She motioned towards me, so I quickly snapped back into reality."Why don't you introduce yourself?" I walked to the board, grabbed a marker on the compboard, and wrote my name in English and Japanese, the country I'm from. I sounded out his name as I wrote. "Sa-su-ke Sa-ru-to-bi." I placed my marker on a ledge, and started on the intro I kinda prepared."My name is Sasuke Sarutobi. I'm named after a famous ninja, but I don't expect myself to live up to my name." I saw everyone in the class looking at me."I don't like much, but I don't hate much." Boys, out of envy?"I'm not here for a better education or because I was kicked out of my former school." Girls, out of physical attraction?"I'm here to complete a simple mission." Somehow, I looked at that girl, who was the latecomer."I'm looking..." Her eyes were full of loneliness, longing, want for purpose, and... love?"for my Destined One." The instant I finished and put the marker down, I heard stifled laughter and the rustle of papers in bags. I turned around, and the boys burst in laughter while the girls were busy putting on lip gloss. Ew. For one thing, my first impressions were telling me my Destined was not one of these girls. But that one in the front, the one taking cover from chaos, actually looked a bit promising. "Okay, class. Calm down!" Nobody heard her. So I decided to help out. "QUIET PLEASE!" It worked. "Thank you, Sasuke. Now for your seat..." She looked at the only seat available."You may sit next to Kaeru. Kaeru, please raise your hand so Sasuke knows where to sit." The girl who did nothing before did as told. I sat in the last empty seat in the classroom, the empty seat next to her. "Okay class, now that you've met Sasuke, please show him around the school and answer any questions he may have. On another note," She erased my name and found the syllabus for the quarter. "For this first quarter, we will be studying far east culture and legends." Everyone groaned. I was intrigued. "This is Freshman History!" She paused to make sure everyone was quiet. "A legend we will be looking at carefully is the Legend of the Guardians. Since we have a little time left, we will have a quick intro on tomorrows lesson." She pulled up a power point and started the lesson preview. My only question, how were they going to screw this up? "The Legend of the Guardians emerged in a small village in China called Heibai." She advanced the slide. She passed this part. "These Guardians were

said to have magic powers from something called 'Saineng', or, energy. To use these powers, they've been said to use 'Kima', or actual words, and 'Zhooyuu', or magic stones that could change shape in any way." She advanced the slide. I heard too much 'been said to' do this or that, did she know this enough to teach or not? "These warriors could use a maximum of 15 spells, since they were aligned to a special element." She was wrong. The slide revealed the picture of an octagonal chart with lines that were complete and incomplete. The Early Heaven Ba Gua. "This is the chart they used to track who had which power. We don't know how they knew, but they did somehow!" She looked at the clock. My question? How the hell was she going to teach this and teach it the right way!? "Due to the shortened periods of the first day, class is dismissed. Please go to your next class, and see you tomorrow!" Random chimes of 'thank you' and 'goodbye' were said, and I was suddenly swarmed with the jealousy of those boys and the curiosity of those girls. But the other one, the one I was sitting next to, was gone. After 2 minutes of kicking, screaming, and attempted escaping, I got out of the crowd. I was named after a ninja, but I certainly never felt like one. My next class was math, so I followed the map they had to take half-an-hour to find to get to the room. The map was a bit out dated, but that was only expected. Luckily, I'm an expert navigator, and got to the class just as the bell rang. Surprisingly, the girl was there too. she looked at me, and blushed. Then puffed her cheeks. Was it a habit? I decided to sit next to her, since she was the only one I knew. The teacher noticed me, and I gave my same intro, like this place, it was the same. Each time. No difference. Same with the reactions. No difference what-so-ever. After 5 minutes into the teacher's this-that rant, I found a small post-it on my desk. The handwriting on it was elaborate, yet simple. Easy to read, too. 'Hi, my name is Kaeru. Are you in all my classes?'I saw it, and wrote a reply. 'No clue. Are you one of those quiet types?' 'I guess. People tease me a lot, so I don't bother talking. Anything you say can be turned against you.' 'Smart, but you forgot the part about whatever you do as well.' 'Yeah, you're right.' 'Are you a nerd of sorts?' 'Why would you say that!?' 'There's no problem with it. You just write notes with such correct grammar and spelling.' 'No problem? Where are you from? And you do too!' She shouldn't... she never should know where I'm from. She would get sucked into the war. I mean, if I told her, I could be her Destined, she could be my Destined, but is it worth it? No... it wouldn't be. Luckily, the class bell rang, she escaped, and I got swarmed. Again. This process of escaping, running, meeting, and passing went on. At least, until lunch. I ran to the bathroom, splashed water in my face, and thought. Was she my Destined? What about Hio? Was this all... real? My mind wandered until I heard a scream from the lunchroom. It activated something in me, something I never knew I had. And I used it. Running faster than I ever have, I spotted Kaeru being bullied by some popular girls and rushed to the spot, grabbing Kaeru while she fell, and stopping the girl's fist in the process. "Pick on someone else." Was my simple message. I let go of her hand, and she ran away. Kaeru saw me. I couldn't let her know my secret, let her know my world. I saw her begin to mouth my name and I ran with her. To the one place I knew about, her home (which I had seen her come out of earlier). I saw it, snuck in,and placed her on her bed."Heal." I waved my hand over her, and she looked more at ease. Her peaceful face was something worth fighting for, something I could fight for. After admiring her for another chunk of time, I whispered into her ear,"We are Destined." and left her room. To my surprise, her mom was waiting right outside."A-ah! I'm..." she put her finger to her lips, 'silence' and motioned for me to follow her. "You're finally here!" Did her mother know anything about me? "W-what do you mean?" "You're Kaeru's Guardian, right?" She knew.

"H-how could you say that? I'm not a guardian, I can't even live up to my name!" She narrowed her eyes. "Don't even think about lying. I knew a girl who was a guardian once. What are you planning to do with my daughter?" "I'm not planning anything other than planning to go away." "So you plan on just leaving her?" I didn't think of it like that, but I guess I was. "I... am." "How irresponsible. A man isn't a man if he leaves his woman by herself." Was she telling me I wasn't mature enough!? Well... "You're right." There was an awkward pause. "Well how are you going to man up to this?" "...I'll return." If I wanted to protect her, maybe I'd do it by staying away from her for now."On her sixteenth birthday, I'll come back. I swear..." I put my hands in a Guardian Seal formation,"I will return to this very spot on Kaeru Kawazu Ranawa's sixteenth birthday." Her mom smiled slightly. "What was all that for?" I started to go outside, so I could return to the other world. This Destiny... could I ever change it? I stopped outside once I could face the house and see it all. The outside... it was a bit cold. And it was... snowing. In a 'perfect' world where nothing changed. "It was... a promise." I raised my hand,"Transport: Heibai." and disappeared. Flickering from this world, I saw my last glance of Kaeru, who was waking up and rubbing her eyes. I smiled. Someday... I'll see her again.

-Two: Reunion-KaeruI'm going to be in 11th grade tomorrow, so that means today is January 1. I don't see the point in making a wish on my birthday. Every time it doesn't come true, so why would it be any different now? "I wish..." My last words were a mumble, I said them while blowing the candle out. As the lights flickered, I thought about my dream from last night. Actually, the dream has been in my mind for several weeks now. They say reoccurring dreams have a special meaning. Mine was merely a blank world with me reaching for a strange figure that oddly, was also reaching for me. Each day, me and the figure would get a little closer before I'd wake up. Was I trying to find the one person my age who showed me no signs of hostility? If I was... there was only one person who came to mind. He who disappeared almost two years ago, Sasuke Sarutobi. "Kaeru, don't forget, never tell anyone your wish, or it won't come true!" My mom always knew these tricks, so I followed them, of course. "OK, mom! My lips are sealed!" I motioned my hands over my mouth, ziiip! Suddenly, a clash of lightning appeared out of nowhere, as well a mysterious figure. No, not A mysterious figure, THE mysterious figure... from my dream! I ran outside, where what you know as 'snow' fell for the first time in my life."Sasuke!" I ran towards him, and he greeted me with open arms. "I missed you so much." There I stayed, hugging the one who never once hurt me, the one who protected me, the one who almost seemed like my guardian."Kaeru... I have a question to ask you... can we talk in private?" I was caught off guard. Was he... really? I mean, we only knew each other for half a school day, so... "S-sure!" He beamed, and the snow slowly disappeared. We walked from the front to my room, where we both sat down chairs on I had set up. "So... what did you want to know?" "Um.... so... there's this thing..." He looked like he had something important to tell me. "Yeah?" "Do you think it's a good idea to transfer into your school?" His voice didn't change from the way I remember. "Yeah!" "Have the people acted any nicer to you?" Nope. Still crap. But I could see them all getting even more worked up. "Not really." "Sounds like I could be of assistance." He wasn't my bodyguard! But him hanging around me... not a bad idea. "It's fine! Really!" He continued looking at me, then asked something else. "Are you always wearing that uniform?" Change of subject. "No... I haven't worn it since we last saw each other." I saw the outfit he was wearing wasn't much different, either. Or his hair. "Really? What made you think of wearing it today?" No reason. "I don't know. I just did." He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, and then asked another question. "One more thing..." What else? "Yeah?" "Do you want to go... and see a movie tomorrow? Just you and me." He asked me on a date! "Yeah!" "Okay, I'll meet you at Metropolis Cinemas tomorrow. 6 PM, okay?" A date! A real date! "Ok! Is... that it?"

"Yeah. See you tomorrow!" He stood up, and left my room. There was something in the back of my head telling me that he wasn't telling me everything. But... whatever it was, it must've been important to him, so I didn't bother going up to ask. Instead, I just went and closed my door, and turned in early for tomorrow. I felt unusually sleepy, even though it was 8:30. Oh well. Sleep is very good! ----It was time to go to the movie. Getting ready and picking things out is easy for me, I don't have anything thats too fancy, and I hate/never wear make up. So all I had to do was teleport to the movie. I set it up, calibrated, and went to the movie. It was a large building, perfect for seating a bunch of people. The design was very modern, and you could see inside to the people wearing their simulators. Oh, simulators haven't been invented for you yet? Well they're movies, but full 3D. Like you're actually standing in the movie. So much better this way! I hoped Sasuke liked them and didn't start going on about how old theaters were better. Thinking of which, messy hair was here now! "Oh, hi Sasuke!" He was all casual today, jeans, normal jacket, white shirt, something I never thought he could actually do."You're dressing surprisingly casual today!" He blushed a little and managed to add a compliment. "Hey, Kaeru. You look... really cute." I smiled. Probably the best compliment anyone's ever gotten from Sasuke. "Shall we go in?" I took his hand and led him inside. "Whoah..." He was admiring the theater, then he looked at me, cleared his throat, and continued on with his stoic attitude."By the way... what are those things people are wearing?" Sasuke didn't know what a simulator was. I explained. "So basically, it's the thing we use to watch movies." "This isn't a normal theater?" He looked ten times more disappointed. "Yeah." "Yuck. Do you want to do anything else?" He clearly wasn't open to this idea, so how about something else? "Yeah. How about..." I thought hard."I know! We can go to the beach!" Sasuke agreed very quickly to this idea, so we went home to change. The problem was that I didn't have many swim suits, but the ones I did have were the type that covered almost your entire body up. I put that on, then ran to the beach. Sasuke was already there, with chairs, and umbrella, and great looking sun glasses, and... a swarm of people. They knew where we were now, so this was gonna be tough. "Sasuke! I'm here!" He scrambled to get out of his chair and ran up to me. But instead of a nice greeting, I got a scolding. "Where were you!? While you were getting into your bathing suit, a bunch of girls almost jumped me!" "Ah! I'm sorry!" "You should be." What were those familiar, unkind words? From Sasuke? "What?" "Why did you take me to this electronic fake?" "What does that mean!?" "It means that this whole beach is a simulation." "So!? It's completely realistic!" "No! It's not!" He was leaning forward with anger. "Um... we could just ignore that and have a fun day... right?" "No. I can't." His unusually stoic face got unusual scowls."I can't have fun knowing it's all the same." He pointed to the waves."See those? They're the same. Every one of them." "What's the problem with that?"

"No variety! That's the problem! How can you stand surfing on a wave, knowing it's virtually the same wave you were just on!?" "I don't surf." "Do you get my point?" "No. Variety sounds dangerous." "So!? It's better than complete monotony!" We glared at each other, and he turned away."I'm going to go now." "Sasuke!" "NO! Whatever 'us' there was isn't here anymore!" He started walking away."Just... leave me alone." "Sasuke." I grabbed his shoulders before he could run away."What were those words, the words you told me many moons ago... 'We are Destined'. What do they mean?" He broke through my grip and left me alone. I didn't do anything else but head home and avoid all human contact. Tomorrow was school. Time for another early sleep time.

-SasukeToday is Kaeru's birthday. Not just any birthday of hers, even though they're all special, it's her sixteenth birthday. The time I finally see her again. "I'm going to fulfill my promise, and no one is going to stop me." I went to the best place for teleportation to her dimension, and raised my arm."Transport: Metropolis." The clouds came out with thunder, and a cloud full of snow fell upon the area as well. Today was the day I choose my Destiny. Would I tell her about her identity? Or... would I just let it be? Perhaps... to avoid it all, I'd just not tell her. Yeah. It was best that she didn't know anything at all. I disappeared in a flash of light, and traveled to the other world. The next time I opened my eyes, I saw Kaeru running towards me, in the same thing she wore when we first met. I spread out my arms to greet her, after all, it's hard, no, impossible to not miss your Destined One. "I missed you so much..." She hugged me back. Yeah... she actually did like me too. Maybe... I would have to tell her."Kaeru... I have a question to ask you... can we talk in private?" She blushed, puffed her cheeks a little, (a habit she still hasn't gotten rid of. But I think it's cute.) and just led me into her house. "S-sure!" I hope she hadn't gotten the wrong idea. Once we got up to her room, she pulled out chairs to sit on, so we did. It felt really awkward. Like, REALLY awkward. But after not seeing someone for 2 years, what do you expect?"So... what did you want to know?" "Um.... so... there's this thing..." She puffed her cheeks in anticipation. What was she thinking? "Yeah?" I couldn't tell her the truth about me... and my disappearance in her world after all. Change of thoughts. "Do you think it's a good idea to transfer into your school?" "Yeah!" Even though it wasn't my original idea, it was still nice to see she liked me. But enough about me. How was she with other people? "Have the people acted any nicer to you?" "Not really." Her face fell when she answered that. I could see she was telling the truth. "Sounds like I could be of assistance." "It's fine! Really!" Oh come on, she knew she wanted it! Suddenly, my eyes fell onto her outfit. No, not for some stupid perverse reason, I noticed that it was the outfit she wore the exact same day we met. How did I know? It just looked... familiar. Did she wear it all the time... for memories? "Are you always wearing that uniform?" "No... I haven't worn it since we last saw each other." Oh. Did she know I was coming today? "Really? What made you think of wearing it today?"

"I don't know. I just did." Sign of a Guardian's Destined. Funny how these things worked out. I wore the same outfit from almost two years ago without knowing it too. But enough reminiscing... it was time to set my cruel but necessary plan into motion. "One more thing..." "Yeah?" She leaned in, looking anxious to know what was happening. I was sorry... I truly regret what I was about to say. "Do you want to go... and see a movie tomorrow? Just you and me." "Yeah!" Her eyes lit up. Her face lit up. Her entire existence lit up... and I was prepared to black it out in one day. "Okay, I'll meet you at Metropolis Cinemas tomorrow. 6 PM, okay?" "Ok! Is... that it?" Was she expecting more? "Yeah. See you tomorrow!" I stood up and left her room. I didn't tell her the truth... her parents would be mad. I walked down the stairs to the ground level, trembling, thinking about what I was preparing myself to do. Oh, and preparing a speech for her parents. In midst of thought, I let my guard down and allowed myself to get hit in the head with a... frying pan!?"Oh, come on! This isn't a TV show or anything!" Her mom and dad looked at me with angry looks. Sure, it was scary when the monks at the temple were angry... but when the angry parents of your seemingly girlfriend but actually Guardian partner are looking at you... thats just pure terror. I composed myself, struck a smart-looking pose, and asked,"So... what's up?" They continued scowling until her dad spoke. "You know what you're supposed to do... SO WHY DIDN'T YOU DO IT!?" Her mom also added a comment. "What are you planning, Sarutobi?" Yes... your last name can be very intimidating when used against you. I decided to stop the interrogation by admitting my entire plan. Yes, the entire plan... at least how I know it now. "I'm planning something to protect her. We all know that if she awakens as a Guardian, her life will be in constant danger. I, who have already lost someone precious, will not allow it to happen again." "We all know you're a hero of legend, and you're expected to do so much... how will you make this happen?" "Simple. I'll break her heart." 'Simple'? Kaeru's heart... was nothing simple. From the half a school day I knew her, I knew it was a Guardian's. Hidden by a mask, but bright as a sun. A hidden jewel in a pile (and when I say pile, I mean a mountain) of coal. They stared, astonished. "You have the emotional capacity to do that?" "No. I'll just grit my teeth and bear it for her." Even thinking about it made me almost tear up. Yeah, I'm such a man."After she hates me, she won't have anything to do with the Guardians. I'll make her life better and more normal from behind the scenes, and then disappear completely." "The monks won't like this at all." Did they think I didn't know that? "Of course. They have me labeled as a troublemaker anyway. This won't change a thing." "Not just the monks, you're challenging Destiny." That was the hard part. "That's the fun part. Just sit back. I'll take care of everything." They nodded, and let me through. Of course, they'd report to the monks my behavior, but that didn't matter. The important part now was to mentally prepare myself. To get ready for tomorrow. After all, everything counted on one moment tomorrow, and I couldn't blow it. ----I was finally prepared, ran several scenarios in my head... the true test was today. First thing was first, go to Metropolis Cinemas. I arrived in casual clothes, to show something like trust that I could show her my 'inner self'. "Oh, hi Sasuke!" She glowed, that heart was truly of a Guardian's.

"Hey, Kaeru. You look... really cute." She smiled. It was hard to say that. I mean, it was true... but I was completely going out of my comfort zone! Self expression is certainly not my thing. "Shall we go in?" She took my hand and led me in. "Whoah..." This was actually genuine. I mean, the architecture was very well done, and the design was very advanced. I decided to finally take the lead."By the way... what are those things people are wearing?" "So basically, it's the thing we use to watch movies." "This isn't a normal theater?" That sucked. I wanted to share a normal experience with her at the movies. But... this definitely turned out a little more in my favor. "Yeah." "Yuck. Do you want to do anything else?" The favor? Controversy. She thought hard for a bit, and then revealed her answer. "Yeah. How about..." More thinking."I know! We can go to the beach!" Yes! That was an idea! It was... uh... I mean... it was pretty cute that she thought of that. I agreed, and we went our separate ways to change. I put on some normal swim trunks, just threw them on. It didn't matter what they looked like. I got some beach chairs, an umbrella, and some sunglasses that I thought would look impressive. When I got to the beach, I was the first of us both there. This place was despicable. All fake, not a thing real. Not even the sand was real. As soon as I sat down, a bunch of people swarmed me. It was actually annoying. I mean, you'd think 'Lucky Sasuke, you stud!' but no. I just wanted to get this Kaeru thing over with. Thankfully, she got here after 5 minutes of torture. "Sasuke! I'm here!" She was so cute, even if she was wearing some full-coverage bathing suit. Time to go all annoying and jerk-like. For her sake. "Where were you!? While you were getting into your bathing suit, a bunch of girls almost jumped me!" "Ah! I'm sorry!" "You should be." This. Was. A. Stretch. But to get her to hate me... I'd have to be really harsh... and impolite. "What?" "Why did you take me to this electronic fake?" This part was true. "What does that mean!?" "It means that this whole beach is a simulation." Which it was. "So!? It's completely realistic!" "No! It's not!" I leaned forward for effect. "Um... we could just ignore that and have a fun day... right?" She was trying so hard to make this a perfect date... but I had to stop it. "No. I can't." I scowled. Yes, I used an emotion."I can't have fun knowing it's all the same." I pointed to the fake waves."See those? They're the same. Every one of them." "What's the problem with that?" She was raised here, so she saw no issues. "No variety! That's the problem! How can you stand surfing on a wave, knowing it's virtually the same wave you were just on!?" "I don't surf." "Do you get my point?" "No. Variety sounds dangerous." Wow. Something that sounded shallow. From Kaeru! "So!? It's better than complete monotony!" We glared at each other, and I turned away. Not for effect this time. But to hide my tears."I'm going to go now." "Sasuke!" I couldn't look at her without feeling pain. "NO! Whatever 'us' there was isn't here anymore!" I started walking away."Just... leave me alone." She had to. I was about to break out crying, but I guess it was karma. I broke Kaeru Ranawa's heart.

"Sasuke." She firmly grasped my shoulders, temporarily stopping escape."What were those words, the words you told me many moons ago... 'We are Destined'. What do they mean?" She could never know. For her protection. It was impossible to tell her. I went back to my apartment, plopped on my bed, cried, and thought of how to protect her in school.

-Three: Travel-KaeruIt has been one week since Sasuke and I 'broke up'. School wasn't bad, but it wasn't spectacular either. For some reason, all the populars have left me alone completely. No taunts, no teases, no nothing. I've been free to do what I want to do. Of course, what I want to do wasn't something I could do. Besides that, some kids who saw me and Sasuke the other day were asking me questions. "Aren't you two together?" "What happened with you and that other guy?" "Are you and Sasuke together?" I answer no, nothing, and no with visible ease, but in my heart, strokes of pain. I dealt with these a lot now, but the pain never faded. Not one bit. He also kept wearing the outfit he wore the first day. And I... was an idiot. I kept wearing the school girl outfit. Yes, I actually started to like it. What was so bad about it? It reminded me of Sasuke. Since he had the boys' uniform, and I had the girls' uniform. For some reason, I was still thinking a lot about Sasuke. Especially what he had pointed out, my days did have a level of the same old. Prep for school, go to school, follow schedule, leave school, do homework, sleep, and repeat. One day, however, was quite different. After the usual school routine, I got a call from the world below. "Kaeru! You got a phone call!" I had just returned from school, so my mind was still a jumbled mess and I physically was a bit worn out from the teleporter. Even so, I ran over to get the phone and listen to what whoever wanted to say. "Hello?" "Hello, Ranawa Kaeru-San. " This was very sketchy. Who was this person? "I'm sorry, but I'm Kaeru Ranawa. Who are you?" "Someone who holds the key to your future." Again. Sketchy. "Just give me a direct answer and I won't hang up!" they chuckled, and finally started talking. "Fine, I'll cut to the chase." They paused for a moment."I know where your birth parents are." I stood there. Shocked. I had done so much research after I found out I was adopted. That I was different. That I didn't know my real parents."I know this comes at a shock. Don't worry, you can meet them. I'll drop off airplane tickets so you may see them. The plane leaves tomorrow, nine o' clock in the morning. Be there, otherwise you may never have this opportunity again." The other line was quiet, and I still held the phone in shock. I stood there for what seemed to be hours, then I realized she hung up. Mom came in with the mail, and commented on the plane ticket. "Kaeru, these plane tickets are for you. Are you going?" I thought. I really wanted to go, get this whole thing straightened out. I wanted to see my real parents. I wanted to know the truth. "Yes, mom. I'm going." I made my decision. I packed my bags, figured out where the airport was. Tomorrow was going to be a day of answers. ----The airplane was perfect. Seats were wide, and foot space was great. Also... I was the only one there! The doors were just about to close, I was about to find out the truth... until someone ran onto the plane and stopped the take off process. Really!? Who had that authority!? "Sasuke-sama, you may go on any seat. However, please be aware that someone else is in the cabin today traveling to the same destination. Do you need your coat?" It was the voice of the stewardess.

Who was she talking to? I heard Sasuke, but who was Sasukesama? The mystery person was finally unveiled when he came into view! It was...! Sasuke Sarutobi!? "Y-y-you!" He looked just as surprised, maybe even scared that I was here. "Kaeru-ch- Kaeru!?" He put everything he had on a spare seat and ran over to me. "There's still some time to leave! Go! Just go!" He was trying to pry me out of my seat. But I wasn't going to budge. "No way! The answers I've been trying to find for myself are just a few hours away here, and you're trying to wreck it!" He looked confused. "What answers!? That's what your High Ring education is for!" Education can't give you every answer. "So!? Is it my fault I don't know where I'm from!?" "That's not-" Because I don't know. "Is it my fault I don't know my real parents!?" "Kaeru, you-" Because I don't know. "No! Don't act like you know me!" "I didn't mean-" Because he doesn't. "You don't! You-" "Kaeru! Listen to what I have to say!" As he took a breath, the airplane started to run. He figured this out and quickly sat in the seat next to me. I think we both had a very frustrated look on our faces, and it wasn't just the legally required safety video. Once it was finished, though, Sasuke and I continued our... heated discussion."Kaeru. Do those things you're worried about really matter?" I answered without thinking. "Of course they do! My life has been based on these things!" Any free time I had was put into research of these questions. If I didn't have these, what else would I have? "So what if you don't know where you're from? It's only a location." "It's not a question of simply knowing where I'm from. It's a question of who am I!" "What does location have to do with that?" He had a point... but I wasn't going to admit defeat. "Everything." He smirked. Did he know I thought he was... right? "Next question." Oh, great."Why do you think your real parents aren't your real parents?" "What kind of question is that!? My real parents are living in China right now!" "So you know where you were born?" "I at least know the country." "Progress. Anyway, just because you're not genetically their kid doesn't mean you're not!" "So!? It does for everyone else! All the normal people!" "But you're not like them!" He paused. Did he still like me?"I guess it's natural for some stupid frog like you to not understand this." "Stupid frog!? Why frog!?" He looked very surprised. "You don't even know what your name means?" "Of course I do!" I realized then, that I didn't."It means... Kaeru! It's just an unusual name!" "It doesn't mean kaeru, Kaeru." "So are you going to tell me!?" "No. Instead, how about another question?" "I hate your questions." "From the previous ones, I'll bet you can guess it's another thing about self discovery!" "It's not self discovery if I haven't discovered anything about myself." "Then let me ask you something, stupid frog. Who are the people who raise you? "My current parents." "So what are parents?" "The people who raise you."

"Then who raised you!?" Long silence. I knew he was right. I unbuckled, got up, and moved to another seat in the way back. I had too much pride to admit defeat. He called from the front of the plane."If I don't know you, how was I able to do that?" I wondered what he was referring to, until I saw the front of my seat. There was a piece of paper sticking out of the fold out tray. I took it out, and read it. "To Kaeru: I knew you'd sit here. See? I told you I knew you! Anyway, when the flight's over, I need to tell you something. Meet up with me sometime later, okay? Sasuke Sarutobi" I don't believe in those sorts of romances. Also, who did he think he was!? A telepath? I looked towards his seat. He was looking back at my seat, waving! Some timing he had. I sarcastically waved back, sarcastically smiled, and sat back in my seat. This trip... why was he here? Why was he the only other person on this plane? Why did he seem to know so much about me? It didn't matter, right now, at least. My goal was to enjoy the trip, and catch some sleep before the flight was over. ----The plane finally landed. I saw Sasuke was sleeping, so I ran off before anyone woke him up. When I got off the plane, all I saw was farmland. Was this really where I was from? Not anyplace more... exciting? Oh well, time to step off, and find my parents. Before I got too far, a kind looking elderly woman greeted me. "Hello, miss. There's only one reason people come here. Follow me." She spoke in English? Don't ask me how, it was just with a heavy accent. We walked for several miles, plenty of time to think, plenty of time to talk. So after a long time walking, I finally mustered up the courage to ask, "So, do you know of any children given up for adoption around the area in the last 16 years?" I wanted to be direct. Indirect never walks for people who don't speak your language normally. "Sorry, miss. There's too many of those things that happen. Are you asking for anyone in particular?" "Yes, were any Kaeru Ranawa put up for adoption?" "No, that name doesn't even seem like it's from the area. Sorry. We'll be there in a few minutes, don't worry." She seemed to notice my foot pain. I guess it wasn't hard, I was really not physically fit at all. But it was all paying off. In the distance, I could see some complicated, Asian looking structure, probably a temple. I kept walking, and noticed the woman was gone. Out of sight. Poof, like she went out in thin air. Another woman greeted me here. "Ranawa-sama, welcome home." Weird... who was Ranawasama? I looked around, there was no one else here but us. "Who's Ranawasama? I'm just Kaeru Ranawa." She looked disappointed. "Yes, Ranawa Kaeru-sama." Who was I? Ranawasama or Kaerusama... and what was with this sama thing? I somehow sensed a presence behind me and turned around. Guess who? "Hime, I return humbly to my roots." I saw Sasuke! Bowing to this girl who looked a little older than both of us! "S-Sasuke! What are you doing!? I thought you were interested in me!" Wait... did I care? "I thought you hated me." I hated that smirk. "I thought you had something to tell me!" That Hime girl interrupted us. "I can help you find out what you want. Please follow me." She walked forward to the front of a pond, and we followed. She put her right hand forward, decorated with an amazing amount of henna and jewelry. Was she royalty or something?"Gate Open." The pool water glowed an eerie gold, and Sasuke jumped right into it. Me? I stared, until it started moving closer at an amazingly fast rate. I had been pushed! I didn't know back then, but I just got into a situation where there was absolutely no return.

-SasukeIt had been a week since I talked to Kaeru. The transition into that school was easy. I was instantly invited into the popular clique, something most people would find as a reward. Me? Get. Me. Out. The girly girls gave me more attention than I ever wanted. The guys? They surprised me everyday with their wide vocabulary. In a horrible way. The reason why I was still there? To protect Kaeru. If I stayed here, I could stop these people from harassing her. Little by little, I could take her problems away. Little by little, she could have a normal life away from Heibai. "Yo, Sasuke! I thought you were with that Ranawa girl, right?" "Sasuke! Party starts at 7, okay?" "Dude! You going to that party!?" I answered no, yeah, and yup. No one asked about Kaeru. It was like she didn't exist. It was like I couldn't disappear. My mind was always flickering between 'normal' life and my 'secret' life. What was tonight's homework? Where was Kaeru? Did she still hate me? Which party did I agree to go to? Why was Kaeru often wearing her sailor fuku? Did she want to match with my 'school uniform'? My life was still really bad. The same rinse, wash, repeat of The Metropolis. The boring part was every part. Even the parties sucked. Nothing was good without Kaeru, and everything would stop with her. Lose lose situations... my favorite. I did the usual before actually turning in for sleep. The next day, however, I didn't have any chance to make an important decision. I was barely awake on that Saturday morning when I got that phone call. I knew who it was on the other end, and yet that didn't change my choice to pick up the phone. "Sasuke-sama, get back to Heibai right now. We know where you ran off to, so don't even try to escape." That definitely didn't sound sketchy or stalkerish. "Can't this wait? I'm busy." "You know that it can't. Grab that girl of yours and get back." Not. An. Option. "I can't do that." "And why not?" "Because this shouldn't be her Destiny." "You know it will, Sarutobi. We knew this would happen." "So what're you doing about it?" "You won't know until you get on the plane." I hung up on that ominous note, knowing this would cost something once I did return. I had a guess as to what they were planning, but they couldn't possibly do that, right? Ugh, they knew me too well. I had to find out what they were doing to Kaeru. I got dressed in the usual for Heibai, and set out to the airport, where a private jet would be waiting to go to that town deep in the farmlands of China. ----I just barely made it onto the plane. A second later and it would've been closed permanently. The stewardess, or, a disguised resident of Heibai greeted me when I was officially on.."Sasuke-sama, you may go on any seat. However, please be aware that someone else is in the cabin today traveling to the same destination. Do you need your coat?" It was the voice of the stewardess. Who was she talking to? I heard Sasuke, but who was Sasukesama? The mystery person was finally unveiled when he came into view! It was...! Sasuke Sarutobi!? "Y-y-you!" No... I always liked to be right... but now!? Kaeru could never go to Heibai if she wanted a normal life.

"Kaeru-ch- Kaeru!?" How embarrassing, I almost called her Kaeru-chan. Even if she didn't know what that meant, the stewardess would. That would only prove to them that I did actually like her. If I hid my liking for her, they might even let her go. It was worth a shot, and my last hope. "There's still some time to leave! Go! Just go!" "No way! The answers I've been trying to find for myself are just a few hours away here, and you're trying to wreck it!" How did they bait her? "What answers!? That's what your High Ring education is for!" "So!? Is it my fault I don't know where I'm from!?" "That's not-" your fault. "Is it my fault I don't know my real parents!?" "Kaeru, you-" do know them. "No! Don't act like you know me!" "I didn't mean-" I know you. "You don't! You-" "Kaeru! Listen to what I have to say!" I took a deep breath, and the airplane began the taxi phase of takeoff. Quickly, I ran to the seat next to Kaeru to continue our argument... after the stupid safety video. When it was over, I continued the interrogation."Kaeru. Do those things you're worried about really matter?" After all this, I remember seeing on her profile that she was adopted after the Fall in the area around Heibai. I didn't memorize this because I had a crush, I just wanted to perform my job to it's highest possible performance. "Of course they do! My life has been based on these things!" How do you base your life on the variable of X? "So what if you don't know where you're from? It's only a location." "It's not a question of simply knowing where I'm from. It's a question of who am I!" Yeah. So it definitely matters if you're Chinese being raised in, I don't know... Jamaica! "What does location have to do with that?" "Everything." Or nothing. "Next question. Why do you think your real parents aren't your real parents?" "What kind of question is that!? My real parents are living in China right now!" So she defines real as in biological. "So you know where you were born?" "I at least know the country." I thought she said she didn't know where the heck she was from. "Progress. Anyway, just because you're not genetically their kid doesn't mean you're not!" "So!? It does for everyone else! All the normal people!" 'Normal'? What the hell is 'normal'? "But you're not like them!" Oops. What happened to my 'act like you're not interested in her' goal?"I guess it's natural for some stupid frog like you to not understand this." "Stupid frog!? Why frog!?" Why frog? "You don't even know what your name means?" You don't know your name means 'frog' in Japanese? "Of course I do!" She was bluffing."It means... Kaeru! It's just an unusual name!" Exactly. "It doesn't mean kaeru, Kaeru." "So are you going to tell me!?" Find out yourself. "No. Instead, how about another question?" "I hate your questions." But they shed light on intelligent issues! "From the previous ones, I'll bet you can guess it's another thing about self discovery!" "It's not self discovery if I haven't discovered anything about myself." Oh, you know you have. "Then let me ask you something, stupid frog. Who are the people who raise you? "My current parents." "So what are parents?"

"The people who raise you." "Then who raised you!?" Game. Match. Point. She knew I was right. She unbuckled, got out of her seat, and went to the back of the plane. Just before she sat down in her seat, I activated a kima."Pause." As soon as the words passed my lips, time stopped. Surprised? It's not the first time this happened. I did this quite often, actually. I've been trained to do so since I Awakened at age 10. During the pause in time, I wrote a quick letter, ran over to the seat Kaeru was about to sit in, and before she noticed, I put the letter into the fold out tray. I ran back to my seat, and,"Play." Stopped the effect of my saineng. Saineng is the energy in the body that amplifies spell working energy in a Guardian and allows us to actually use these spells. This particular spell always took a lot out of me, so when I stopped it, I was in a state of slight confusion and dizziness. To make sure she didn't suspect anything, I yelled from the front,"If I don't know you, how was I able to do that?" looked to see her reaction, and slumped in my seat to regenerate the saineng I had lost. Oh, and in case you wanted to know, the letter was this, "To Kaeru: I knew you'd sit here. See? I told you I knew you! Anyway, when the flight's over, I need to tell you something. Meet up with me sometime later, okay? Sasuke Sarutobi" The cabin was spinning, I had no idea that spell would take so much out of me. Of course, my spells always are pretty serious, I was a master and keeper of the Ancient Arts. ----I woke up. The plane was done flying, and Kaeru was nowhere to be found. I collected my bags and coat from the stewardess, said thank you to the pilot, and stepped off the plane. I decided to take an alternate route to my destination, as it was better for exercise and I've been missing out on my daily ten miles. The weight of these bags would definitely make up for all of it. During this training time, I also had time to think. At this point, Kaeru has already stepped over to the process of Awakening. She's seen me, gone here... and the next step is stepping into the portal. If she did that, there was absolutely no turning back. I followed the rough trail and eventually got to the portal shrine. Guess what? Yup, my luck was awesome. Kaeru was already there even though I ran all the way from the plane. However, there was some else to greet as well. "Hime, I return humbly to my roots." I bowed, she was the leader of our Order. Kaeru looked a bit uncomfortable when I did that. "S-Sasuke! What are you doing!? I thought you were interested in me!" You're... right? But I can't admit defeat. "I thought you hated me." "I thought you had something to tell me!" Hime figured out that I didn't complete my mission, so she interrupted and led us closer to the shrine. "I can help you find out what you want. Please follow me." We walked. The shrine was to honor the Guardians who protected this sacred bridge. The Hime extended her decorated hand and used her spell to open the portal. The fact that she could do this was clear sign that she was the heir to the Treasures."Gate Open." The pool water glowed a welcoming gold color. I couldn't wait to get back home, I jumped in immediately. The gold color turned silver, the silver turned clear. The clear turned cloudy. I could sense Kaeru and her strong saineng, even though she kinda... passed out during this. A sign of Awakening. We were falling from the sky into the dimension I call"Home". To avoid injury to her, I embraced her as we fell."Transport, Heibai." We teleported before a deathly fall, and I prepared for the hours and days yet to come when Kaeru discovered her powers.

-Four: Discovery-KaeruI woke up in a dark room, on a mattress that felt like straw. I knew one thing: This wasn't a dream, I wasn't in The Metropolis. The door opened into the room, and I saw Sasuke wearing a black kimonothing and holding a candle. Oh, and a lot of light, too. I shielded my eyes, and began the interrogation. "Sarutobi! Where am I!?" I don't call out last names as a sign of respect. It's a sign of irritation! "Unfortunately, Heibai." "What's with that candle?" Heibai's the city I was in before, right? "Power's out." He put it down on a side table and grabbed for something he had in another bag. "Isn't that great." Power outages never happened in The Metropolis. "Put these clothes on, then go outside." He placed them on the floor, and then left the room. "H-hey! You didn't tell me why I'm here!" He stepped back inside for a second and answered my question... "You'll figure this all out when you're done." ...in a really vague way. I put this whole situation in my mental list of 'Grudges against Sasuke' and did what he told me to do. Not because he told me, of course, but because I wanted to figure out what was happening. I quickly stepped out of the room to make sure there was no one in sight, and slipped back in. I took off my current set of clothes, and took several minutes figuring out how to put the clothes he gave me on. When I finally put it on and looked in the mirror... I couldn't see. The candle light wouldn't reach that far. I decided to go outside, from what I could tell, this thing was on correctly. When I stepped outside, I could see the light shinning, or blazing. When I could finally see, I started walking around. I also figured out that I was wearing a kimono. It was actually very pretty, black with lily pads and some blue streams running through it. It looked really personal, though. Was this just a spare I was allowed, or were they expecting me? As pretty as it was, this outfit was too tight, so I had to get used to it. After a few minutes of wandering, I met up with the girl from last night. Or yesterday. I couldn't tell, I was knocked out! She was running and twirling in a garment quite similar to mine, how could she be able to do that? Soon after my arrival, she noticed me. "Ah! Hello, Ranawa-san! Have you seen our beautiful gardens?" What was so great about her? "Who are you?" She kept twirling. "Me? I'm usually known as the Hime, but you can just call me Mei." "What's a hime?" "A princess!" A monarchy? "So Sasuke likes you over me!?" Scandalous? Her face glowed red. "N-no! It's not like that!" She was frantically waving her arms 'no!'. "Then why was he bowing to you!?" "I'm the leader of the Order of the Guardians! It's etiquette!" Now it made sense. "Oh. Okay. Sorry for accusing you!" "It's no problem! Besides, I don't blame you." She leaned in closer and whispered into my ear."He IS very handsome!" "Yeah... I guess." "You're lucky." "Why?" "You're Sasuke-sama's partner!" Partner!? "F-for what!? And why do you call him Sasukesama instead of just Sasuke?" More blushing. "Ack! Why would I call him Sasuke!? I don't know him that well!" What did she mean? "What do you mean?" Stared at me blankly, then remembered something.

"Oh! That's right! You're from the Metropolis, right?" "Yeah." "In Heibai, we've been striving to keep our traditions from long ago. One of these traditions is the use of Japanese honorifics." "Honor-what?" "Honorifics! There's quite a few. It's easy to use them, you just stick 'em to the end of a name! -san is for people you just met or people you respect. -sama is for people who are higher than you or people you just respect more. Got all that?" "Yeah... it seems so tedious." "It can be, but it's pretty fun! -chan is used for people you know, -kun is usually for boys, and -sempai is for people that are higher than you, like an upper class men in school. Oh, and -sensei is for people who are your teachers." "Again, tedious. But thanks for the explanation, Mei-sama." "Oh! Don't call me Mei-sama! Just call me Mei! Or Mei-chan!" "But didn't we just meet?" "Yeah, but I feel like we've known each other forever by now!" I had one remaining question about this. "Yeah! Same! One more question. Why do you call Sasuke-san Sasuke-sama?" Blush. "Oh, uh... I kinda have a crush on him?" That explained it."B-but you should just call him Sasuke!" "I thought you said that no honorific is for knowing someone well. Oh, and you can have him." "Oh, you're his Destined, so you don't call him by honorific. And I can't take him! He's your Destined!" "But I hate him! He's so annoying! What's all this Destined stuff, anyway?" She paused. "Trust me. I've known Sasuke since he was ten. HE doesn't hate you. You're his Destined." On this note, she ran away to the far side of the garden, paused, and disappeared into thin air. Was she real? I couldn't tell now. I kept on walking, but to the spot where she was. Maybe there was someone there. This garden was relaxing. Not as decorative as the ones in The Metropolis, but somehow more serene. What was that feeling? After an hour of walking around, I got to what seemed like the border of the gardens, and the edge of some woods. What was I to do? Go back, or continue? A strange part of my mind didn't give me much option, other than, 'Go'. So I followed that strange part. As I continued further into the woods, the trees grew taller. Vines grew thicker. I didn't meet any animals, but I could somehow sense their presence. After for another hour, I stumbled upon a ruined shrine. Well, maybe not stumbled upon, I found a ruined shrine at the deepest, thickest, wildest part of those woods. That strange part of my mind kept telling me to go in. So I continued further, and got to the entrance of the shrine. "Don't go any further." I recognized that voice, it was none other than Sasuke Sarutobi. For some reason, he was in his school uniform now."I mean it!" When was he going to understand that I didn't take orders from him? I said nothing, and ran into the ruins. He ran after me, and was surprisingly fast."Kaeru! Don't do it!" I ran faster. "Leave me alone!" I ran into where the light did not reach. I couldn't let him win. My pride would not let me lose. Unfortunately, my hot head didn't prevent me from slipping and falling into a deeper part of the ruins. The stones felt even older, and I smelled a musky odor. The ground was also wet from the subterranean water that had managed to leak through the surface. My kimono was completely ruined. There were no sounds other than the sound the plotter platter of that water. I saw in the distance, a glow. I found the walls, and followed them. During this time, I had more think time. Why did Sasuke want to stop me from doing everything I wanted to do? What was with this place? It was a polar opposite from The Metropolis. There was no technology. There was actual nature. People were nice to me. I guess... I liked it here. Except for the fact that Sasuke was here. That ruined everything. But still, I felt drawn to it.

Deeper into the ruins, I got to a part that looked like a crypt. The passage was small at first, but it rapidly grew wider, and the walls more elaborate and illuminated by something that felt like the energy I felt emanating from Mei-chan and Sasuke. What were these ruins? It seemed like nothing at first, but I realized that the ruins held a secret, a history, and I needed to find out what it was. As I continued through the eerily lit passage, reliefs began to line the wall. The pictures weren't worn out at all, they were very well preserved. My guess was more magic. I kept walking. The pictures were hard to interpret. The text near them looked like a mixed bag. There was no way I could interpret them. However, I could read some things further up. I stepped into a large chamber and found nine pedestals. One was in the center with the other eight surrounding it. Each had two lines of words on the top face. I could read this, it was in English. Well, some of them. Some were worn out, or had thick vines covering them. The ones I could read? They were arranged in a pattern surrounding a compass. The one in the south was too worn down to read. The one in the south-west read, 'Shizuka - Xun - Wind'. The one in the west was also too worn down to read. The one in the north-west read, 'Sasuke - Gen - Mountain'. Was this Sasuke as in Sasuke Sarutobi? The one in the north read, 'Mei - Kun - Earth'. Was this the Mei-chan I had met today? The one in the north-east read, 'Satoshi - Zhen - Thunder'. The one in the east read, 'Hio - Li - Fire'. The one in the south-east read, 'Kaeru - Dui - Lake'. Wait, why was I here? I could understand why Sasuke and Mei-chan were here, but not me! The light was beginning to grow stronger. "Get out of here!" Guess who it was this time? "Sarutobi!? Is that you!?" He arrived, all gross and sweaty. "Get out. You shouldn't be here." "What about you!? And why are you all sweaty? The walk wasn't that bad!" "I'm forbidden to be here." Forbidden? Well, it was a ruin. That might have explained part of it, but I was still angry at him for barging in. "Why are you stalking me!? Telling me not to do everything I want to!? I have a life I want to live!" "That life is exactly why I'm following you." What was he saying?"If you stay here, you will lose any normal part of your life you ever had. You'll never be able to return." "What do you mean!?" He started to stumble, almost falling down. Was his 'forbidden' status messing with his ability to stand? "Just trust me. Get out NOW." "NO! I need a good reason! You've been following me, giving me orders, and you haven't told me why!" "I can't tell you, just do it!" "What If I told you crazy things!? Would you do it for a reason!?" "Yes." What? I know he wouldn't. No one would."Kaeru, remember I told you that we were Destined? I trust you. Those words are true. So please, trust me." I stood still. By two people now I've been told that he was my Destined. What did that mean? He was on the verge of passing out. "Sasuke-san!" I ran over to him, but suddenly felt light headed. As I got closer to him, I could see him left leg was cut up badly, definitely vulnerable to a possible infection. "Ignore me. Just leave!" "Why!? You could die if you stayed here!" "I know. It's a price I must pay." "For running in here after me!?" "For breaking forbidden rules. Kaeru, you're a Guardian like me. We're Destined. We're made for each other. Please just listen to me and get out!" What was this? The guy who hates me... telling me I was made for him? Or vice versa? Made no sense. Plus, I couldn't get anything due to my own headache.

"Sasuke!" My headache flared. The subtle light in the chamber wasn't subtle anymore. It shone on me, and I felt a flood of energy. What was happening? Is this what he was talking about? "Damn... it started early." He lost conscious. My brain felt like exploding. Were we both going to die in here? An erethal voice went into my head. 'Kaeru-hime, don't worry. You and Sasuke-kimi will survive.' With that as a last thought, I lost conscious as well.

-SasukeI had gotten Kaeru safely into her room after surviving the portal into Heibai. I never believed things would go this far. If I had tried harder, Kaeru would still be in school. Before she woke up, I had to talk to the Council. Since it was lead by Hime-sama, I knew my punishment would be less harsh. But what I did and what I planned to do was definitely something they'd be angry about. I waited outside of the building where the council met. If I convinced them to let Kaeru out, then I could succeed in my personal mission. The door opened, and I stepped in. "Sasuke Sarutobi, welcome back to Heibai. Do you know why we called you here?" The council elder, Rojinsei-sama was the first to speak. "I know perfectly. I'm trying to help a poor girl from suffering her tragic fate by shielding her from the will of your Council." "Artfully said, Sarutobi-san. However, your artful speaking will not help you. Her fate is of importance to the balance of this dimension. You alone simply cannot change it." "I can change it if I want." He laughed at me. Mocked me."You don't understand my position! Already once I've seen someone I truly cared about fall. Do you think I want to see it again!?" "I understand you've been through a lot, Sarutobi-san. But this matter isn't for you to decide. It's a matter of if the Meikai want to rest, and as you know, they won't. They will never rest." "Neither will I. I won't fail my mission. I never do." "You're such a problem. Whenever you disagree with something I say, you won't stop trying to prove me wrong." "If I didn't exist, you wouldn't at this point either." "How arrogant." "You know everything would be destroyed if I didn't sacrifice what I did." The old geezer just sat there, pondering what to say next. "Sarutobi-sama... here's the thing about you... you're a very dynamic asset to our Council and Order. If something happens and you want it to not happen, you put everything in you to stop it. If you want something to happen, you'll put every ounce of yourself into it." I knew it was true."For once, please realize this is something you cannot stop." That was wrong. "If I work for something, I will never fail it." He knew I was stronger than him. He knew I could kill him if I wanted to. He knew he shouldn't mess with me. So why did he continue? "Stop being an arrogant little kid and focus on your job." I wasn't a kid. I was more adult than he was. "I'm not a kid." "Then prove it to me! Go and do something useful!" That was it. I ran up to his stand and pulled my katana out of it's sheath. "You bastard! Does what I've sacrificed mean nothing!? Does Kaeru's future mean nothing!? Did Hio mean nothing to you!? Did you kill the one who loved you for 'the sake of duty'!?" Some of the council members got out of their seat to try and constrain me."All of you sit down!" They hesitated. That showed clear weakness."None of you realize how hard this is! I'm only 16 and a half and yet you expect so much out of me! I'd like to see you try what I've done! I'd like to see how many of you surrender to the fear! If you criticize what I do, do it yourself!" I put my katana back, and started out the doors, until another, more gentle voice talked.

"Sasuke-sama, please wait." It was Hime-sama."I know that I will never go through what you're going through. I know it must be hard. But please give Kaeru her kimono and some light. She must be waking up now. You want to see how she's doing, correct?" She was right. Our princess knew what to do, all the time. She even knew me personally. I've told her all my problems. She knows why I'm the way I am nowadays. "I will." I gave that simple answer and went out of that cursed hall. The next thing to do was find Kaeru's kimono and a fresh candle for her. We didn't have electricity here, and she didn't have a window in her room, so she needed a candle. Sure enough, I found her kimono in the spot with her name on it. Literally. Her kimono was a beautiful black with veins of blue and lily pads. Perfect for a frog. I left the closet and went to get a candle. We had a wide variety, including one that smelled like pond water after being infused with Satoshi-kun's sensory magic. It seemed appropriate, but I chose a normal candle and saved the other for later. After all these choices, I decided to go and just get it to her already. I had perfect timing, too. Kaeru had just woken up. I opened the door, and she saw me. And the light. "Sarutobi! Where am I!?" Why was I suddenly Sarutobi? "Unfortunately, Heibai." "What's with that candle?" She didn't know about our lack of electricity yet. To not freak her out, I made up an excuse. "Power's out." I put the candle down on a side table close to the door. "Isn't that great." "Put these clothes on, then go outside." I put the kimono neatly on the ground and was about to leave her to dress. "H-hey! You didn't tell me why I'm here!" She was here because my hesitation and lack of discipline let it happen. I failed as her guardian. "You'll figure this all out when you're done." I left her room and went into the garden to find Meichan. Knowing here, she was probably twirling around in the garden. I have to admit, I missed this place so much. But when I think back, it brought more pain than naturalistic healing. My normal life left me at age ten, the age I Awakened as a Guardian. That was when intense training began, and when my life turned for the worse. I still do this because I need to protect Kaeru. No other reason. To be honest, my past after ten was quite violent. I found out that I was Guardian of the Ancient Arts, and was expected to excel as such. None of the elders respected me, even after my fourteenth birthday. The darkest day of my life, and the day I saved our world. It was the day I killed my 'Destined'. ----"Sasuke-sama!" I had been wandering around in the gardens for awhile now, and I had finally found her. We greeted each other with a hug. No, we weren't together. We've just been friends since I Awakened. "Mei-chan! How many times have I told you to call me Sasuke-kun?" "Um, a lot. Sorry, formalities, I'm just... used to it." We were required to hide our friendship and just be Princess and Guardian. "Yeah, I get it. How's life, anyway?" "Excellent! Well, other than the elders being total morons." We could always be honest to each other. "When are they not?" "I know!" We stood there. Kinda awkwardly. "Mei-chan, what did they say about Kaeru?" She wasn't allowed to tell me, but that doesn't mean that she couldn't. "I'm not supposed to say, but they're not sympathizing with you. At all." I knew it. "Why do they not appreciate me?"

"They don't appreciate anything. Don't worry about it." She looked closer at me. Was there something else she wanted? "Are you... sweating?" Uh oh. She was going to figure out that I was thinking about that day. "No, I'm not. You must be twirling too much." She frowned. "No, I didn't. You were thinking about the day of the Fall, weren't you?" "Please don't worry about it. It's my problem, and mine alone." I couldn't let anyone else share my troubles. "It's not! Don't make something into something that's your own burden! Thats what your friends are for! That's what your Destined is for!" "Mei-chan, I don't want Kaeru to get involved. I still have a small chance of stopping her from Awakening. I need to seize that chance and stop her from finding out about herself." "The struggle of two equally stubborn minds won't turn out well." "I know. But I'll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal." "Sasuke-kun, I know you. Calm down, this type of stressing isn't good for your health. You're going to be 17 in half a year! You're too young for all this stressing!" "Mei-chan, I'm not a kid. Please just leave me to my business." She sighed. "I know you're not a kid, Sasuke-kun. You're just... too adult." With that, she ended our conversation by twirling off into thicker parts of the garden. I decided to go back and check on Kaeru. From the unclosed door, I was guessing she left her room. If destiny was the dictator of the day, she was probably going to meet Mei-chan about now. I went off there to go and see how things were, but was stopped my a mission informer. "Sasuke Sarutobi-sama, we have a major situation. Your acceptance of this mission is imperative." "What happened that's so important?" "Shizuka Suiren and Satoshi Suiren have been captured." No way. They were the best team in the Order after Hio and I. "How did that happen?" "We don't know. The only thing we know is that they're in the Shan mountains." I had to accept, but if they were defeated, I needed to work with someone else. I couldn't risk Kaeru, and there was no one else left besides Mei-chan, and she wasn't allowed on missions. "I accept my mission. But please be aware that I'll go tomorrow." "Thank you, Sarutobi-sama." He handed me my mission brief, basically a quickie on all the mission requirements they could provide me with. Which wasn't a lot in this case. "No problem." Of course it was a problem! To make use of my extra day, I decided to ensure that Kaeru didn't Awaken. I searched for her saineng signature, but came up empty handed. Either it was her lack of release due to not have been Awakened, or... she was headed to the ruins. Why was she there already? Her Awakening day was supposed to be tomorrow. Whatever happened, I had to get there before she did, or violate ancient laws. I changed into my fighting/mission clothes, (which looked exactly like my school uniform) and broke out in a sprint aided by magic, and tried to remember the direction of the ruins. The tricky part is when they call to you, you get there easily, but in a trance-like state. Finding them was the impossible part. You couldn't fly up and find it, the trees were too thick in the canopy to see. You couldn't always judge by how old the trees were, their ages were scrambled by magic. I kept strategically wandering, until I saw old rocks and a beautiful girl in a kimono. I was at the ruins. I could see Kaeru. I called out to her. "Don't go any further." She turned to face me, and I noticed something. Green hi-lights were flickering, almost, on her hair. A light green tint was taking over her normally brown iris's. It was beginning, her Awakening. I had to stop this. "I mean it!" She was being influenced by the ruins, and turned away from me, and began to run. "Kaeru! Don't do it!" She ran faster, being influenced by the ruins to get angrier at the one trying to stop her. Me. Of course, all it was doing was influencing her personality. In her case, amplifying her current hatred (or irritation if you prefer less strong words) towards me. What I said had no effect on her now.

"Leave me alone!" She was in the ruins, and I heard shoes slipping. She was in now, and there wasn't anything I could do about that. I had to stop right here. Not to quit, but to prepare myself for the ruin's punishment. It was forbidden to come back here after Awakening, even for Mei-chan. "Kami-sama, please allow me to pass through here without harm to my mind, body, or soul." I chanted and prayed, feeling some extra magic gave me more strength. After fifteen minutes, I was finally able to enter, feeling confident about my mission. I ran into the ruins, jumped off into the lower chamber, and fell, accidentally cutting my left leg on a sharp rock at the bottom. Even though, I wasn't going to let a small scratch stop me. I had a mission, and I was going to see it to the end. I half ran half limped to the ending of the passage, seeing the old reliefs and paintings on the walls. Something seemed different about them. Was it just me going crazy, or me seeing things out of the trance? It didn't matter, because my wound was hurting more, feeling more numb, and Kaeru wasn't going to be saved by anyone else. At last, I reached the final chamber, where the ritual of Awakening had already began. "Get out of here!" I got her attention, but I couldn't break her trance. It was an effect of the ruin's powerful magic, in sudden excess. "Sarutobi!? Is that you!?" "Get out. You shouldn't be here." "What about you!? And why are you all sweaty? The walk wasn't that bad!" I probably looked disgusting, but why was she only focusing on that? "I'm forbidden to be here." "Why are you stalking me!? Telling me not to do everything I want to!? I have a life I want to live!" "That life is exactly why I'm following you." Was I making any sense to her? "If you stay here, you will lose any normal part of your life you ever had. You'll never be able to return." "What do you mean!?" My conscious was flickering back and forth. I didn't have much time left... "Just trust me. Get out NOW." "NO! I need a good reason! You've been following me, giving me orders, and you haven't told me why!" "I can't tell you, just do it!" Why was she being so difficult? "What If I told you crazy things!? Would you do it for a reason!?" "Yes." Kaeru was my Destined, I had to trust her. "Kaeru, remember I told you that we were Destined? I trust you. Those words are true. So please, trust me." "Sasuke-san!" I was falling over, and she saw it. She caught me before I fell, but she had to do something else. "Ignore me. Just leave!" "Why!? You could die if you stayed here!" "I know. It's a price I must pay." I had no idea the ancient taboos punished you like this. "For running in here after me!?" "For breaking forbidden rules. Kaeru, you're a Guardian like me. We're Destined. We're made for each other. Please just listen to me and get out!" "Sasuke!" The light suddenly flared. It shone on Kaeru. Her green hi-lights and green eyes were now permanent. She was a Guardian. "Damn... it started early." I lost conscious, but not before a voice rang in my head. 'Sasuke-kimi, don't worry. You and Kaeru-hime will survive.' It didn't make sense, there was no prince, and Kaeru wasn't our princess.

-Part Two: New Life-Five: Capture-KaeruI woke up, semi-confused, but also semi-aware. What happened? I saw a bright light, and had a long and strange dream. It was vivid at the time, but now a blur. I decided to laze in beg and figure things out, but I couldn't think of anything. After several attempts at remembering and failing, I found the door and left the room. Once again, the sun hurt my eyes, and I set out in what I already had on, which was the kimono from yesterday. And yes, it was all muddy and gross. I traveled through the gardens and found myself near Mei-chan again. "Hey, Mei-chan! What's up?" Her twirling today was slower and heavier for some reason. Did something happen? She noticed me, and ran over. I noticed something about her, too. She was crying. "What happened!?" I hugged her to comfort her, and she collapsed in my arms. "It's Sasuke-sa... Sasuke-kun." "What happened!?" "He went off on a mission! I couldn't stop him!" He what!? "Is his leg still all, crushed!?" "He tried to heal it with his magic, but I think it was only temporary. You have to go and help him!" Me? Help him? But I had no training... "But Mei-chan! I don't know how to help!" "Just get to the Shan mountains. They're north of here, past the forest. It'll be really cold, but if you hang in there, all Sasuke-kun needs is your presence." "How do you know that?" "Believe me, if you have the support of your Destined, you feel like anything is possible. Or at least, that's what he's told me." Did she not have a Destined? "Okay. So I just have to get there?" "Yeah. Don't forget, you also need to find Sasuke-kun. But that should be easy. Just try to sense his saineng. Since he's 'Gen', his chakra should be as steady and stubborn as a rock." "Okay. You can count on me!" I went back into my room and found a sailor fuku with a note on it. 'Best of luck, wear this! Don't worry about the temperature, it's been infused with magic. -Mei' I took off my kimono and put on the other outfit on. It was a lot more free, and just like the one back at home. I had some quick nostalgetic feeling, but shook it off. Right now was time to go and rescue Sasuke, then train to help and support him. If I was strong enough, he could stop worrying about me and do something for himself for once. Of course, I still didn't like him, but I had to rescue him. It was purely out of sense of duty. When I finished dressing and got my 'mission kit' from the Guardian center, (It's a supply of provisional items and a first-aid kit. They have it pre-made for convenience.) I put on my best running shoes and hurried to the Shan mountains. I was about an hour into my run, but I didn't feel tired at all. Was it the will to go and finish my current mission? Or the magic infused clothes? Or both? Probably both. I kept running, feeling the press for time, and saw the mountains between the trees. The weather felt colder all of the sudden, and I remembered that I forgot a jacket. But the closer I got to those snow capped mountains, the warmer I felt. This must be the magic Mei-chan was talking about. I stopped once I felt I was in the mountainous region, put my bag down, and stood still to try and find Sasuke's saineng. I concentrated, for looming peaks. I concentrated, for intimidating mounds. I concentrated, for ancient wonders. I concentrated, for

Sasuke. At last, I felt his saineng, tucked away deeper into the mountains. I read the manga, the deeper you went, the more hazards. So I was very careful, kept my guard up, and proceeded in the direction. Once I got close enough, it wasn't hard to find the direction of where Sasuke was. There were fresher prints in the snow, and more blood. Was it from Sasuke? Or was it from someone else? I didn't want to figure it out, I wanted to see for myself. I ran up the mountain, stumbling and nearly falling sometimes, but I made it, and saw a wide open cave. "Bastard! Let me go!" It was Sasuke's voice. I ran in, forgetting to conceal myself. "She's here." A rough voice responded to my enterance, and a rush of wind on my right side greeted me. They had aimed, but missed. "Don't you dare hurt her!" "It won't hurt if it's quick. Besides, I never miss my target, escpecially a small girl like her." I wasn't small!... for a seventh grader. It was my turn to call out. "Sasuke! I'm here!" I moved in an erratic zig zag to avoid being attacked. "What should I do!?" Sasuke heard me and yelled out. "Kaeru! Watch out! This guy's dangerous! Repeat after me and focus,' Kima, Dui, Xun!" I did as he told me to. I focused, and attacked. "Kima! Dui! Xun!" The instant I did, I could see further into the cave, and the one who opposed me. I could see his next move, and I could see how to plan accordingly. The same instant, I could see Sasuke, all beaten up with his leg still cut open. Wide. Still the same instant, I felt a chunk of my energy was taken out. Had I used magic? "Good! Take him out, yell 'Kima, Dui, Kan!" Take him out? I know he was someone dangerous, someone who could and would hurt me, but could I hurt him? I hesitated, and got an arrow graze my right side. It drew blood. "Kaeru! Why did you hesitate!? Take him out!" I couldn't. "Sasuke! I can't! Give me something that won't hurt him!" "Kaeru! Don't be difficult! You can do this!" I couldn't hurt someone. "No! I can't!" I could see him give me a bad look. "Yell, 'Kima, Gen Dui!" I trusted that it wouldn't hurt him badly. "Kima! Gen! Dui!" It sent him flying backwards into a pair of statues. The statues weren't damaged in anyway. Thank goodness, they were great works of art. After that observation, I went to help Sasuke. I took out a pocket knife to cut the ropes around him and then words flew into my head. "Kima! Heal!" Sasuke's cut healed, but again, temporarily. "Thanks. Kaeru, don't look. Kima. Gen, Gen." I suddenly couldn't move. I watched as he took out his katana and drew a finishing blow. "I'm sorry, Kaeru. It had to be done." Did he, kill him? "I didn't kill him, just knocked him out cold." But I knew it wasn't true. He wasn't moving, and his saineng was completely dormant. Sasuke went towards the statues, and bowed to them. "Shizuka-chan, Satoshi-kun, we're here to help you. Kima. Zhen, gen." With that, the statues began to move, and I could feel my arms, legs, and everything again. The girl had completely blue hair, but her outfit was with a purple and green scheme. It was a plain green T-shirt with normal jeans that had purple thread and purple sequins. She also had a small water lily on a headband for decoration and a silver key on her neck. The guy had lots of green in his outfit, and it was annoyingly similar to hers. The girl introduced them both. "Thank you, Sasuke-kun. I see you found your new Destined." "Not new Destined, my Destined." He kept the stoic look on his face still. She looked at me. "Hey, my name is Shizuka Suiren, and he's Satoshi Suiren." The short blonde haired boy waved and smiled at me. "Hey, when I heard there was going to be a new Guardian, I had no idea someone like you would be filling in! I hope that we all have a chance to work together sometime. Also," She ran up to me and added a comment. "Don't worry if anti-emotion doesn't talk to you, he's quite boring. I was thinking of getting him tested for lack of involvement!"

"I heard that." I laughed. These people must've been friends before I got here, and I already felt like a part of their group. "We should get going now. Sun will set quickly." We all agreed, and started down the mountain. After a few minutes, we somehow automatically split into two groups. One which had Shizuka-san and I, and the other with Sasuke and Satoshi-san. Shizuka-san went over to me to talk. "Hey, so you're Kaeru-san, right?" "Yeah." How did she know my name? "Aren't you the lucky one? I mean, you've got THE Sasuke Sarutobi as your partner!" Why was this guy so popular? I guess he was good looking, but his attitude was something else. "I guess." "Let ME guess... you hate his attitude." Psychic? "Yup. With a passion." "Ah well, that's okay. He can be annoying, but he always means well." Something was still bothering me, though. "Shizuka-san..." "Just call me Shizu-chan! We're both Guardians, so why not?" She was really nice... someone I could trust, right? "Well, there's this thing I saw..." She looked all serious for a second. "What did Sasuke-kun do?" "Did he... kill that guy?" She looked away from me. "Kaeru-chan, the first thing you should know about Sasuke-kun is that his past is very different from yours." "Yeah, he didn't live in the Metropolis." "It's a lot more complicated than that. Tell you what, I'll get him to tell you when we get back, okay? It's not right for anyone to reveal the past of another, even if they have partially lived it themselves." With that, we traveled in silence back to Heibai, with me wondering what were the dark secrets of Sasuke's past.

-SasukeI woke up before dawn, borrowed a mission kit without asking, (I didn't want to actually say, 'steal', okay?) and attempted to heal my leg. "Kima, Yang! Gen, kan!" I waved my arm over my leg, and it was healed. But this was only temporary. Magic didn't heal everything, or we'd still be seeing our great great great great great great great you get the picture. I stood up, felt minor pain, and felt there was someone behind me. I used my incredible speed to get behind them, and held my katana at their throat."Who are you?" Then I realized. "Geez, Sasuke! Always so worried, huh?" It was Hio. I put my katana down and apologized. "Sorry, I didn't recognize your saineng for a second." That was weird. We shared the same element, so it was nearly impossible to trace one with the same element affiliation. But... this had been happening quite often now. "Sasuke, are you sure you can recognize your own?" "What do you mean?" "Even though you've always been really stubborn, I think you've been trying to change yourself. Are you pushing yourself too hard?" "No. I'm still the same Sasuke. Been this way since I was ten." "You haven't! Before you were fourteen, you were the most emotional kid I knew, who also always knew what he was standing for!" "Hio!" She looked shocked."Hio. You know that year was cursed. I never want to remember it again. If you know what's good for me, you'll let me go on my mission. My fellow Guardians are counting on me." She knew I wasn't going to stop, so she didn't stop me."Hio, if you want to help, send Kaeru after

me when she wakes up. I think she can handle it." She nodded, and I ran through the woods, and felt the earth squish between my toes. I'm affiliated with the element earth, so I don't like to wear shoes if I have an option. No, I don't necessarily like having feet that have lots of mud on them, I always make sure to wash them off before going in a house. Of course, I could also just control the earth to move off of my foot, and that always felt like a more effective way of doing it. I felt a small pain in my leg. The wound was slowly reopening. How was that happening? The magic was supposed to last for several hours, not several minutes. This only meant that the mission wouldn't be getting the time I dediacted to it. Who cares, being the strongest Guardian in history, this would be a piece of cake. In only a matter of time, I got to the mountains. They were really cold for some reason, so they were snowy almost all year. I dug into the snow so I could sense any disturbances in the mountain. I put my feet on the cold earth, and sensed a mountain due north west that seemed suspicious. I put my boots on, and ran in that general direction. The quick temperature change wasn't good for the cut, it was opening faster, actually dripping blood. Was I going to make it? I scaled the mountain, desperate to achieve my goal. At last, I got to the site of the disturbance in the earth, and my fellow Guardians and friends, Shizuka-chan and Satoshi-kun. As far as I could tell, there was nobody in the cave, so I got inside to where the snow stopped and took the boots off. Sweet, sweet earth. Something else I got was some chocolate from my bag. I always ate some when I was worried, it seemed to wipe away some pressure. I walked over to the statues, and examined them. Shizuka-chan was in a pose where she was prepping for a death blow with her 'Kima, Xun, Dui!' attack. A deathly blow, and I know. I've experienced it with the internal bleeding after I teased her a bit when she was new. Just as I finished looking at the statues, I felt a presence on my left side, and I backed away from it, snapping into a tiger style kung fu position, hands inti claws, leaned back stance, ready to overcome the opposing force. To my surprise, it wasn't a rogue Guardian, but a lowly looking henchmen of sorts. He spoke in a rough, unrefined voice. "Hey, what you doin' here? This place, restricted. " "Hey, what're you doing here? Those are my best friends. " He finally realized who I was. "You're dat Sarutobi kid! Boss told me ta give ya da boot. " "Who's your boss?" I lunged forward, making the first move. He moved surprisingly fast, like the wind. "Ha! Wouldn't you like ta know! Yin kima, xun! Dui!" My legs suddenly felt heavier. How was this guy able to use saineng? "If you won't talk, I'll kick the answer out of you! Zhooyuu! Henshin!" My bear tooth necklace glowed and grew warm, then transformed itself into a glob of mud. "Zhooyuu, kan, gen!" I raised my arm, telling the zhooyuu stone the enemy could be anywhere. The attack I used was Meng, the unpradictable strikes attack. I matter where this guy went, my zhooyuu stone would sense it and attack him. If that wasn't enough, I wanted to attack more. "Kima, gen, kun!" I channeled my saineng into the zhooyuu stone, and I could finally see that guy without his wind speed. "Heh, you know a lot, don't ya, show off? Where's yer partner, huh Guardian?" Kaeru... she was back at the village resting. Unless she woke up, then coming this way. "Kima, gen, dui!" I aimed my hand at him and he flew back into the wall, giving me a chance to go and figure out how to free Satoshi-kun and Shizuka-chan. He recovered quickly, much to my displeasure. "Try as hard as ya can, kid. We both know yer almost done with yer saineng." He was right, I had done too much. My Zhooyuu stone was having trouble keeping it's shape, so I returned it to my neck. How was this happening? If I had the ability to defeat Hio, I definately had the capacity to get this guy. Was I... getting weaker? "Wood Crushing Fist!" He ran to me, his fist glowing green, the color of wood. He was supossedly a Xun, or Wind type 'Guardian', so he had the Wood element also on his side. Too bad for me, wood element is stronger over my element, earth. (This is where having Gen, or Mountain, as your Ba Gua alignment is a bad thing.) If I could, I'd use a spell that had metal

involvement, but seeing as I had just enough saineng to move around, that wasn't a good idea. I ran as fast as I could, but according to his speed, that wasn't an option either. What else was I going to do? I. Was. Weak. From defeating Hio, to trying to defeat this guy, that was a huge decline. I couldn't stop Kaeru from becoming a Guardian, and I couldn't convince the elders to do anything about it. When I was gone, Shizuka-chan and Satoshi-kun were captured. Why couln't I stop these bad things from happening!? I felt a sudden burst of saineng, like it was a container all filled up again, so I took a crack at a spell. I aimed my palms at his face, then yelled. "Kima, dui, gen!" expecting his face to explode, but nothing happened. Why wasn't anything happening? I used a spell with a metal affinity, so that should've stopped him. Instead, he was gaining on me, this six foot five giant versus me, a five foot eight shrimp. Well, I wasn't a shrimp, but I felt like one. "What 'appened, powers failed ya?" His fist, now dimly green, returned to it's former green. I was in a corner. I was screwed. ----I woke up, all tied up. "Sorry, kid. Da boss would want 'ya for da nex batch." What did he mean by 'next batch'? I was angry, why was I THIS weak!? "Bastard! Let me go!" When I yelled that, I heard a sound. "She's here." He gathered a bunch of wind in his palm, and refined it into the shape of a dart. When finished with the shaping, he grabbed and threw it. He barely missed. Kaeru's long hair blew back in the wind, her now green eyes wide open with sprise. More anger. "Don't you dare hurt her!" He smiled a terrible smile. Pure evil. "It won't hurt if it's quick. Besides, I never miss my target, escpecially a small girl like her." Her eyes showed complete fear, then some inner strength. "Sasuke! I'm here!" She began to run in a random zig zag, likely to out run and out smart the daggars. "What should I do!?" I needed to be able to tell Kaeru how to manipulate her saineng without her having to train. "Kaeru! Watch out! This guy's dangerous! Repeat after me and focus,' Kima, Dui, Xun!" She tried to concentrate, and succeeded. "Kima! Dui! Xun!" What happened? She didn't activate the right spell? Maybe it was just the weird beginner phase. That used to happen to me all the time. "Good! Take him out, yell 'Kima, Dui, Kan!" she hesitated, and a dagger got her right side and drew blood. what was she doing!? "Kaeru! Why did you hesitate!? Take him out!" "Sasuke! I can't! Give me something that won't hurt him!" Was she out of her mind? "Kaeru! Don't be difficult! You can do this!" She could... right? "No! I can't!" I couldn't believe it. She's a pacifist!? Well, there was one thing I could do. "Yell, 'Kima, Dui, Li!" She aimed her hands at him. "Kima! Dui! Li!" She sent him flying backwards, then she ran over to me and cut the ropes. Then she used her powers again to heal me once more. "Kima! Dui! Dui!" I was healed, for now. "Thanks. Kaeru, don't look. Kima. Gen, Gen." I used some back up saineng I stored in my sword. Since it was made specially to conduct saineng, it could be stored. I couldn't show her I didn't have my powers, it would prove my weakness. I channeled more saineng from the blade, and plunged it down. When done with that, I wiped the blade. "I'm sorry, Kaeru. It had to be done." I knew what she was thinking, I had to convince her otherwise. "I didn't kill him, just knocked him out cold." She knew it wasn't true, so I just went to the statues, and bowed to them."Shizuka-chan, Satoshi-kun, we're here to

help you." I gripped my blade to take a little more magic. "Kima. Zhen, gen." The statues began to move, Kaeru too. Shizuka-chan and Satoshi-kun were looking great as ever. Minus the part where they had just got transformed back from the rock. "Thank you, Sasuke-kun. I see you found your new Destined." "Not new Destined, my Destined." I tried to show no change in behavior, but I'd tell them about my loss eventually. Shizuka-chan introduced herself to Kaeru. "Hey, my name is Shizuka Suiren, and he's Satoshi Suiren." Satoshi waved and smiled."Hey, when I heard there was going to be a new Guardian, I had no idea someone like you would be filling in! I hope that we all have a chance to work together sometime. Also," She ran up to me and added a comment."Don't worry if anti-emotion doesn't talk to you, he's quite boring. I was thinking of getting him tested for lack of involvement!" Why did she always pick on me? "I heard that." She laughed. I hope she felt included. I decided to get us all moving. "We should get going now. Sun will set quickly." We started down the mountain, and I pulled Satoshi-kun over and motioned Shizuka-chan over to Kaeru. If I needed to tell someone something, Satoshi-kun was the guy. "Satoshi-kun, I need to tell you something." "Let me guess... you lost your powers." How did he know? "Yeah." "I could tell by your constant sword holding. You store saineng in there, right?" "Yeah." "And you can say something other than 'yeah', right?" "Yeah." Wait! "Hey!" We both laughed. "Dude, there's only one reason for a loss of powers in a Guardian, and you know it." Yeah... did I really lose myself that much? "I guess... I'll have to go and do something special?" "Yeah." He thought for a minute. "I know! You should do the saineng training with Kaeru. It would be a great bonding experience, and you might figure something else!" MORE training? It was enough already. But if it was to regain my powers and protect Kaeru... (it sounds a little cliche now, doesn't it?) it was worth it. "OK. I'll do it." It was silent from there on. We were approaching Heibai, and I had something to tell the elders. ----We arrived, I said 'good night' to Kaeru, and I was heading to the elders. "Sasuke! I heard what happened!" It was Mei-chan. "Yeah. It really sucks." "Don't worry, you'll figure it out!" "I know." "You should go to the elders now, they get really impatient." "Yeah, I know. See you tomorrow." "Okay! Bye!" I ran from there to the elder's chamber and heard laughter. "That kid lost his powers!" "How rich!" "I know!" "And he said we were weak! Look at him now!" Either they were genuinely happy or just drunk oldies. I decided to run into the place. "Hey, I'm here to report my official loss of powers." They were genuinely happy.

"It's about time. So are you leaving or what? Can we wipe your memories now?" What were they aiming at? "No!" I pulled out my katana, and went up to the same guy I went up to last time. "It doesn't matter whether I have my powers or not, I still have my katana, my friends, and Kaeru. You can't get me out just because I lost something 'important'. I'm here, and I'm going to protect Heibai whether you like it or not!" I made my point, and left to go to sleep. Wake up would be early tomorrow, so I needed some sleep.

-Six: Training-Kaeru"Wake up! Training begins now! Get up!" I slowly awoke from my dream and saw Sasuke standing there with another kimono. "Kaeru, please wake up. This training is essesntial if you want to defend yourself from someone like the guy from yesterday, you need this." "Oh, so if I wanna attack someone, follow your instructions, huh?" "It isn't like that. Really." "So what is it for?" "Keeping the world safe." "Uh huh." "Just please go and do it." "Fine." I took the clothes and put them on a side table. I then looked at myself in the mirror. I noticed my eyes were green. When did that happen? My eyes were always blue. My hair! It had streaks of orange and purple! Not many streaks, but when your hair and eye color suddenly changes, either you're drunk, crazy, or your life just got ten times weirder (Which is not saying much, my life's always been weird). I decided to ignore for now, but ask Sasuke about it later. I then finished undressing and redressing and then going outside. "Think fast!" I looked in the direction of the yell, then saw a fireball hurled towards me! But then before touching me, it dissappeared. What happened? "Kyaa! Are you trying to kill me!?" I saw Sasuke, arms crossed, leaning against the wall, looking dissappointed. "Kaeru, how do you expect to fight with those reflexes?" "Sasuke! I keep telling you! I don't want to fight!" He motioned somewhere, then I saw Mei-chan. "Kaeru-chan, I know you don't want to fight. I hate fighting too, but please hear me out." She paused, waiting for me to say something. I just nodded. "You don't need to fight, but you must learn how to manipulate your saineng. It's imperitive, since your Guardian skills have been completely activated, you'll lose control of your Meikai within a week." "What's a Meikai?" "A demon that lays mostly dormant within us all. In Guardians, it's more active, generates more saineng, and does so unlessone loses their powers to manipulate their saineng." "There's a demon inside me!?" "Well, yeah. but don't worry. It's mostly metaphorical, but if you don't learn how to control your saineng, it'll take you over. Being a Guardian is a huge honor, and a huge responsibility." This was too weird. "I have another question." "And what's that? How does a Guardian lose their ability to maipulate saineng?" She and Sasuke both looked sad for some reason. Did one of them lose their powers? No, they couldn't have! Sasuke was yesterday, and Mei-chan was just now! "Something I don't want to get into right now. But don't worry, it won't happen. Please, follow me." She led us into the woods, the exact same way I went when going to those ruins that activated my powers. "Hey, weren't these off limits?" She smiled, Sasuke looked worried. "Yes, but not to training the ones who have to learn how to use their powers. Or..." Sasuke ran up to her, like he was desperate for something. "Any one who has lost their powers." "So why can Sasuke come in? And you?" Sasuke attempted to cover her mouth, but she froze him. I decided to go to them.

"The one who is training is allowed. Sasuke? He lost his powers last night." Sasuke? Lost his powers? How!? Was it me? It couldn't be the cause for his pain like that. He may have lost to my stubborness, but was that a reason to lose his powers? Did the ruins take his powers away? How did he use his saineng last night? "I can imagine how many questions are streaming around in your head right now, but please. Be patient, Kaeru. We're almost at the ruins." She unfroze Sasuke, who looked completely blown away with a 'How can you be so freakin' cruel?' look. I needed to comfort him. I mean, he still was a stupid idiot, but why not? I was his Guardian, after all. "Hey, Sasuke, you okay?" He looked at me, then looked away. "No. And it's none of your business." "But- but! I'm your Guardian!" "So!? No one needs to know what I'm thinking!" While refusing to look at me (and look straight ahead for that matter), he slammed into a tree. "Sasuke! Are you okay!?" He wasn't. His right cheek had gotten a bit cut, something I just couldn't accept as a little scratch. In essence, it was caused by me. "Do you need a tissue!?" "no. I'm fine." He's too stubborn, but what could I do about it? We kept running for another ten minutes, then approached the ruins. "Everyone, prepare yourselves. This will be an intense few days of training, and all of us will discover something new. Perhaps about ourselves, or about others here, or perhaps about the Guardians as a whole." Mei prepared us for a hard week of training with her words, and we went into the enterance. "Stop." I was about to jump into the hole that I jumped into the last time I was here. "What's the problem?" "You need to pray for safe passage. This is very sacred ground we're on." I kneeled down, and prayed for safe passage, but also for Sasuke. If he wasn't so stubborn, if he asked for help, maybe his life would be just a little better. After some time in silence, Mei-chan stood up. "When you're done, we can jump. Sasuke, due to your knee, please don't be so reckless." He grunted in frustration, then jumped down. Soon after that, Mei-chan and I, who hadn't yet jumped, heard a crash and a curse. "Shiiit! That damn rock got my knee again!" "SASUKE! Don't say that here! You'll get punished even more! Kaeru-chan and I are coming down for you, just wait!" She turned to me. "Kaeru-chan, take this." She handed me a wrapped sphere. "Give it to Sasuke, it's his favorite chocolate." Chocolate? "Belgian chocolate?" "Yeah, he has this weird thing I still haven't figured out. He mellows out with chocolate. Well, maybe not mellows out, but calms down." "Okay!" I jumped, but didn't feel afraid. I prayed enough to feel protected. Soon enough, I was on the ground unharmed. "Sasuke? Where are you?" "Here." I crawled in the direction Sasuke replied, careful not to hit anything. When I felt some fabric, I knew I found Sasuke. "I have some chocolate for you!" "Oh, you do? Thanks." He took the chocolate from my hand and unwrapped it, then put it into his mouth. "Hm. Great quality. Let's find our way outta here, right?" "Yeah!" How was he going to stand up? "Uh, I can help you stand..." "It's fine, I don't need anything. Just lead the way, I'll follow." I did as was told and we found our way into the lit area of the ruins. Mei-chan was there too, waiting for us. "Looks like you're both here. Kaeru-chan... unharmed... Sasuke... how do you keep getting this bad luck?" He didn't answer, and just sat down. I did too, right next to him. We both faced Mei-chan, and she explained the secrets of the universe. Or... just being a Guardian. "First thing's first, learning about where your powers come from. There are five parts to this. Kima, or spoken word, represents the part of you that 'speaks for itself'. Get it!?" I laughed. Sasuke? Nothing. I awkwardly stopped. "Mifuu, or stationary actions, prevents your Meikai from overtaking you." Great, so those demons could posess you now? "Zhooyuu, or active action, increases the range and efficiency of your spells." Active action?

Sounded funny. "Unmeijia, or your heart, represents... well... your heart." That's a given right there, huh? "And finally, Mengyo, which represents your soul." Soul. Scary. "You only use kima and zhooyuu actively in battle at first glance, but it's actually much more complex. Unmeijia, mengyo, and your mifuu stone also help, but they're more passive and protect your from evils in addition to refining yor power. Together, these all represent yourself, your image to yourself, and the inage to others." Okay, kima, zhooyuu, mifuu, unmeijia, and mengyo. That sounded easy enough, right? Oh, and the image... I gotta work on that one. "Mei, when does Kaeru get her Zhooyuu stone and her Mifuu stone?" Wait, there were stones? I don't wear jewlery. "When she's done with basic training and using kima effectively. Kaeru, before you actually use these things, I need to tell you how people lose their powers." I looked at Sasuke, he just shyed away. "Since saineng represents yourself, you need to keep yourself in check to use your powers. If you lose your pride, or you just become a bit unstable, you'll lose your powers. Sasuke," She turned to him. "Would you care to share your exciting story?" He blushed, pulled a chocolate from his bag, and declined. "Come on, either you tell, or I tell." He looked at her in an angry way. "I thought you were supposed to be a princess!" "So?" "Mind your P's and Q's and butt out of anyone else's business!" "Just tell her, you'll feel better when you do." "No." I decided to cut in. "Sasuke, if you don't want to share, then you don't have to. Just tell me when you're comfortable!" Sure I was dying to know what happened, I figured that it wasn't worth it. Besides, adding stress to stress doesn't make anything better. "You should learn from her, Mei." She got angry and decided to continue her lesson. "Tsk, but when you feel comfortable enough, you really should tell her. Secrets aren't good for anyone." What was Sasuke not telling me? "Anyway, loss of powers is a result of a loss of self. Although it's possible to regain powers, it would take a long time to return to former glory." I could see why he was angry, Sasuke had a somewhat blown up image of himself. Was his bruised pride a result of his loss? "This talk isn't your training, by the way. It's a crash course in how to handle my next illusion." Illusion!? Was this a trap!? "You two will spend time in the age of the first Guardians, nothing to start with except the clothes on your back. That doesn't include chocolate, by the way. At the end of this, if you survive, Kaeru, you will be considered a Full Guardian. Sasuke, you will hopefully have your powers back. Now Kaeru," She stood up, and pointed to a stick figure on the ground. "Lie down here." I did. "Sasuke," He got up, and lay down on the other figure. "You know what to do. Now hold hands, Kaeru, your right, Sasuke, your left." We were lying right next to each other, in the way that only our heads touched. We raised our hands, and gripped the other's tightly. "Kaeru, good luck." Was he... being a bit social? "Thanks, good luck to you too, Sasuke." I took out a chocolate from my pack, and gave it to him. "I hope you regain your powers." "...thanks." Mei-chan raised her hands, and her unicorn necklace melted into a ball of earth. "By order of the Guardian's Princess, let the training begin! Zhooyuu! Li, kun! Ming Yi! Brightness hiding, the spell of illusion!" The ground covered us in a hollow globe, and we both fell asleep.

-SasukeToday was the day of training. I worked it out with Mei so that my loss wasn't revealed. I mean, if it was, Kaeru would think I was weak. She wouldn't trust me to protect her. The once pinnacle was now all the way at the bottom. I was walking over to her room in the south east edge of the housing block to give her the training kimono. I couldn't believe she was a pacifist. Whatever happened, though, she was

going to have to fight. This was not something you just got out of. Never take it lightly. I got to her door, and yelled. How else was I going to wake her? "Wake up! Training begins now! Get up!" She slowly woke up then looked at me liikee I was an alien. "Kaeru, please wake up. This training is essesntial if you want to defend yourself from someone like the guy from yesterday, you need this." I had to phrase it so it didn't sound like she had to attack anyone. Otherwise she'd be even more unwilling than she already is. "Oh, so if I wanna attack someone, follow your instructions, huh?" She was taking it the wrong way. Well, technically that was the answer. So it was right. But not the way I wanted her to interpret it. "It isn't like that. Really." "So what is it for?" I needed an honest answer. "Keeping the world safe." "Uh huh."She wasn't looking very happy. "Just please go and do it." "Fine." She'd finally notice her appearance change today. It usually kicks in around this time. I heard her door open after five minutes, then told Mei to get the illusion ready. When she stepped out, I yelled. "Think fast!" She freaked out, Mei said the illusion was a giant fireball, but I think she took it a little too far. "Kyaa! Are you trying to kill me!?" I didn't expect her to do anything, but I had to act. So I shook my head in dissappointment. "Kaeru, how do you expect to fight with those reflexes?" Oops. I said the f word. No, not that f word, I said the fight word. "Sasuke! I keep telling you! I don't want to fight!" I motioned for Mei-chan to come forward. "Kaeru-chan, I know you don't want to fight. I hate fighting too, but please hear me out." she paused, Kaeru nodded. "You don't need to fight, but you must learn how to manipulate your saineng. It's imperitive, since your Guardian skills have been completely activated, you'll lose control of your Meikai within a week." If that was to happen to her, what about me? "What's a Meikai?" "A demon that lays mostly dormant within us all. In Guardians, it's more active, generates more saineng, and does so unlessone loses their powers to manipulate their saineng." "There's a demon inside me!?" Her scared face was actually quite adorable. In a scared kind of way. "Well, yeah. but don't worry. It's mostly metaphorical, but if you don't learn how to control your saineng, it'll take you over. Being a Guardian is a huge honor, and a huge responsibility." She wouldn't get why. She only heard the legend at school. What was inauthenticy supposed to teach her? "I have another question." "And what's that? How does a Guardian lose their ability to maipulate saineng?" That was something I didn't want to talk about. I looked at Mei, making sure she didn't do anything that would reveal my loss. "Something I don't want to get into right now. But don't worry, it won't happen. Please, follow me." She led us into the woods, to the ruins. Why did she tell Kaeru that power loss wouldn't happen? It was sure to. I was positive it would. "Hey, weren't these off limits?" Mei-chan smiled. I looked away. "Yes, but not to training the ones who have to learn how to use their powers. Or..." She wasn't going to say it, was she!? I ran up to her, fixated on hiding the truth. "Any one who has lost their powers." "So why can Sasuke come in? And you?" I was about to cover her mouth, but she used a freezing spell on me. "The one who is training is allowed. Sasuke? He lost his powers last night." She blew it. I thought we had an agreement1 She never breaks her promises1 Why would she now, of all times!? It was cruel, why did this happen? Kaeru was going to abandon me. Leave me in the dirt. "Hey, Sasuke, you okay?" She had come here? I couldn't look at her. I turned away completely.

"No. And it's none of your business." "But- but! I'm your Guardian!" My Guardian? No, she was my partner. Was I so weak she though she was my partner? "So!? No one needs to know what I'm thinking!" I still refused to look at her, but in the process, I face firsted into a tree. It was quite unpleaseant. "Sasuke! Are you okay!?" I wasn't but I just shook my head. Why was being with her a sign of weakness? She was too kind, but I couldn't go near her. "Do you need a tissue!?" "no. I'm fine." We kept running for what, ten minutes? Once we were done, we all got to the ruins. Mei-chan gave the same speech she gave me, even when we were both ten years old. "Everyone, prepare yourselves. This will be an intense few days of training, and all of us will discover something new. Perhaps about ourselves, or about others here, or perhaps about the Guardians as a whole." I absorbed the speech once again, and knelt on the ground. Kaeru didn't know, she kept walking.. "Stop." "What's the problem?" "You need to pray for safe passage. This is very sacred ground we're on." I prayed that Kaeru would be protected, and that I got some chocolate. Just something to ease the pain. When finsihed, I just dived down, but still with worry. Then felt something sharp puncture my shin. Yes, the one that I hurt last time that still hadn't finished healing. "Shiiit! That damn rock got my knee again!" Oops. "SASUKE! Don't say that here! You'll get punished even more! Kaeru-chan and I are coming down for you, just wait!" Why was I always the one falling? "Sasuke? Where are you?" "Here." I crawled in the direction Sasuke replied, careful not to hit anything. When I felt some fabric, I knew I found Sasuke. "I have some chocolate for you!" "Oh, you do? Thanks." He took the chocolate from my hand and unwrapped it, then put it into his mouth. "Hm. Great quality. Let's find our way outta here, right?" "Yeah!" How was he going to stand up? "Uh, I can help you stand..." "It's fine, I don't need anything. Just lead the way, I'll follow." I did as was told and we found our way into the lit area of the ruins. Mei-chan was there too, waiting for us. "Looks like you're both here. Kaeru-chan... unharmed... Sasuke... how do you keep getting this bad luck?" He didn't answer, and just sat down. I did too, right next to him. We both faced Mei-chan, and she explained the secrets of the universe. Or... just being a Guardian. "First thing's first, learning about where your powers come from. There are five parts to this. Kima, or spoken word, represents the part of you that 'speaks for itself'. Get it!?" I laughed. Sasuke? Nothing. I awkwardly stopped. "Mifuu, or stationary actions, prevents your Meikai from overtaking you." Great, so those demons could posess you now? "Zhooyuu, or active action, increases the range and efficiency of your spells." Active action? Sounded funny. "Unmeijia, or your heart, represents... well... your heart." That's a given right there, huh? "And finally, mengyo, which represents your soul." Soul. Scary. "You only use kima and zhooyuu actively in battle at first glance, but it's actually much more complex. Unmeijia, mengyo, and your mifuu stone also help, but they're more passive and protect your from evils in addition to refining yor power. Together, these all represent yourself, your image to yourself, and the inage to others." Okay, kima, zhooyuu, mifuu, unmeijia, and mengyo. That sounded easy enough, right? Oh, and the image... I gotta work on that one. "Mei, when does Kaeru get her Zhooyuu stone and her Mifuu stone?" Wait, there were stones? I don't wear jewlery. "When she's done with basic training and using kima effectively. Kaeru, before you actually use these things, I need to tell you how people lose their powers." I looked at Sasuke, he just shyed away. "Since saineng represents yourself, you need to keep yourself in check to use your powers. If you lose your pride, or you just become a bit unstable, you'll lose your powers. Sasuke," She turned to him. "Would

you care to share your exciting story?" He blushed, pulled a chocolate from his bag, and declined. "Come on, either you tell, or I tell." He looked at her in an angry way. "I thought you were supposed to be a princess!" "So?" "Mind your P's and Q's and butt out of anyone else's business!" "Just tell her, you'll feel better when you do." "No." I decided to cut in. "Sasuke, if you don't want to share, then you don't have to. Just tell me when you're comfortable!" Sure I was dying to know what happened, I figured that it wasn't worth it. Besides, adding stress to stress doesn't make anything better. "You should learn from her, Mei." She got angry and decided to continue her lesson. "Tsk, but when you feel comfortable enough, you really should tell her. Secrets aren't good for anyone." What was Sasuke not telling me? "Anyway, loss of powers is a result of a loss of self. Although it's possible to regain powers, it would take a long time to return to former glory." I could see why he was angry, Sasuke had a somewhat blown up image of himself. Was his bruised pride a result of his loss? "This talk isn't your training, by the way. It's a crash course in how to handle my next illusion." Illusion!? Was this a trap!? "You two will spend time in the age of the first Guardians, nothing to start with except the clothes on your back. That doesn't include chocolate, by the way. At the end of this, if you survive, Kaeru, you will be considered a Full Guardian. Sasuke, you will hopefully have your powers back. Now Kaeru," She stood up, and pointed to a stick figure on the ground. "Lie down here." I did. "Sasuke," He got up, and lay down on the other figure. "You know what to do. Now hold hands, Kaeru, your right, Sasuke, your left." We were lying right next to each other, in the way that only our heads touched. We raised our hands, and gripped the other's tightly. "Kaeru, good luck." Was he... being a bit social? "Thanks, good luck to you too, Sasuke." I took out a chocolate from my pack, and gave it to him. "I hope you regain your powers." "...thanks." Mei-chan raised her hands, and her unicorn necklace melted into a ball of earth. "By order of the Guardian's Princess, let the training begin! Zhooyuu! Li, kun! Ming Yi! Brightness hiding, the spell of illusion!" The ground covered us in a hollow globe, and we both fell asleep.

-Seven: Ancestors-KaeruI woke up. alone. In the illusion created for training. It was nice, I was on a grassy hill overlooking a stream. I couldn't sense Sasuke anywhere, so I decided that he wasn't here. I stood up, and noticed I was in the same kimono as before, but other than that, there was nothing. My hand didn't even feel warm from where I was holding Sasuke's in the real world. I was alone. "Hello? Anyone here?" I heard sounds in the distance. "There's a survivor!" Horses ran in the distance, suddenly growing louder. What did they mean by survivor? "Are you human or Meikai!?" I wasn't a meikai, so human? "I'm a human!" The galloping was getting closer. "Ready, men! We have a escaped war prisoner!" Wait, war prisoner!? What did I do!? One thing I knew I should do, run. I ran up the hill with all the strength in my legs, and still heard the whistles of arrows wizzing past me. The gallops weren't getting any slower, or any further. When I got to the top and heard the gallops stop, I thought I was out of the attack risk. But before I knew it, I was under a weighted net. "Why are you here in our territory?" Territory? I don't know! I just appeared here! "I just got here!" He frowned, and tied my hands behind my back from outside the net. When he was done with that, he took the net off. "We're going to take you to the prince and make sure you're not a spy." They were nice enough to let me ride my own horse to their city. Either that, or they didn't want to waste time. We went from those hills, (which turned out to be a very large oasis) to a desert, and to a larger group of mountains. As far as I could see, these mountains were so tightly clenched together, there was only one pass through them, and from that pass, an overwhelming defense system. The guard stopped, and announced his identity. "It's Shuai! I'm here with a war prisoner!" The atmosphere got less heavy, and the less hidden archers aimed away from us to the deeper part of the pass. With time, we made it to a grand, snow covered fort. Well, maybe not fort. It was an entire city. The walls were all guarded, the road was paved, and the highest part was on a hill. Apparently the message from before was passed on, and the gates were already opened for us. Inside, I could see many people. It was snowing, so everyone wore something to keep them warm. Not too many children on the streets, only children running with something, likely playing the messenger game. The guards led me to the highest, most decorated part, and to a shrine. On the steps was a guy who looked just like Sasuke! "Sasuke! It's-" a hand covered my mouth, and the guard whispered into my ear. "Don't you dare address the prince like that. You will address him as Sasuke-dono, and that's it. You have no right to call him anything else." I nodded, and walked up with only the head guard to... Sasukedono. "Sasuke-dono, we've re-captured a prisoner. Shall we do a background test on her?" He looked up from his meditation. Close up, he looked less like Sasuke though. His hair was much shorter, and he didn't even do anything with it. It was plain, like the usual guy at school. Also, his eyes were pure black. Sasuke's were slightly more brown. But other that and the elaborate kimono, he could've been his clone! "I see. Leave her with me, I'll decide to do with her." The guard bowed, and left. When he was closer to the bottom of the hill, I was invited to go inside the shrine. It was decorated lavishly, as any shrine would be if it were funded well. The paint was rich, there was flora covering the walls, and the floors looked very well maintained and cleaned. "What's your name?" He spoke clearly, and with a great sense of seriousness. "M-my name is Kaeru." "Why are you here?" "It's... a long story."

"You'll be less trusted the less details you give." "Well... the details are fuzzy for me, so I wouldn't be able to give you a great description." He was leading me up a tall spiral staircase. "Where are you from?" "The village Heibai." He froze. "I see." He continued up. "Let me ask you, are you from here?" "No. I have no idea where I am right now." "I see." We got to the top of the shrine, and stopped before we got to the tower exit. "what's your opinion on meikai?" "I don't know. All I've heard about them is that they're inside... special people." "Did you know that they can actually manifest themselves as things on the earth?" Wait... did that mean that demons walked the same ground as I did? "N-no." Was this true? It was a terrifying prospect. "I didn't." "You know, this city has been here for ages. Long before me, it belonged to my ancestors. It's served as a stronghold for our kind." He stepped up the final stairs. I followed. From there, a glorious vista unfolded before us. We could see this city, a distant city, and then an ominous construction project that looked both far away, and alarmingly close. "The ones over there," he pointed to the construction project. "Are trying to exterminate us. The ones over there," he pointed to the city. "are also trying to exterminate us. Now please tell me, which group is human, and which group is meikai?" "Trick question! They're both meikai! One's just obviously putting up a nicer front!" He didn't like my answer. "Sadly, incorrect. The ones over there," He pointed to the city. "are the humans. The ones over there," he pointed to the construction project. "Are rogue meikai, trying to kill their own kind." Own kind? He couldn't mean... "So who're the meikai they're trying to kill?" "The meikai here." He did. He was a meikai. The village was full of meikai. The tower was full of meikai. I needed to escape... to my own people. I attempted to run. He grabbed my arm and stopped me. "What's wrong? You fine with me before." "I was told... meikai can possess you if you're not yourself. I was told that they can hurt you. I'm not going to put myself at risk!" He smiled. What was he planning? "We look like all you humans. How are we different?" "You're all bloodthirsty!" "I could say the same thing about all you humans." "How!?" We're much better than those demons. Much better. "You all discriminate against anything. And everything." "Prove it!" "Country. Race. Religion. Peers. Yourself. Anything different." He was right. But I couldn't lose. "Well, you guys possess others! How can you feel right about that!?" "We don't. It's something that happens. Some of us can't do it at all. You're talking about a small percentage." Small percentage? But he was a demon! He... he was supposed to be eating children! Torturing the remainder! "I can see you're not willing to open your mind. Trust me. I would never attack that village. There's someone I know there. someone special. Tell me, do you have a special someone?" Did I? I mean, Sasuke was my Destined, but I didn't really have a huge crush on him. "I guess so. I'm good friends with this one guy." "Is he your Destined? You seem like the type who'd be a Guardian." How did he know!? Was I that obvious!? "Heh. No one ever is in that oasis alone. You're too naive. You think I wouldn't guess magic got you here? A meikai can detect the magic influxes in the air. You think I didn't know something happened?" Great. My secret was blown to this demon. "You! W-why do you know!? That's a secret!"

"Ha!" He suddenly got quieter. "There are many secrets in this world. Some are meant to be kept. Some are poisonous to keep. Some are darker than others. Any of yours? Lighter and somewhat inconsquencial." My secret inconsequencial!? How dare he! "Hey! I'm full of good secrets!" "Let me guess one of them... 'I'm Kaeru and I'm in love with Sarutobi Sasuke!" How could he! Also, why was his last name before his first!? "Y-you!? How do you know him!?" He looked at me, and laughed. "Heh. I know lots of things." He paused. "What would you do if the one you loved is a meikai?" When he said that, the world got all blurry.

-SasukeI woke up in a extremely well decorated bedroom. This wasn't mine, and it looked nothing like Heibai's kind of interior decorating. I laid down on the bed and thought. Was that a 'moment' that Kaeru and I just had? If so, did that make me her boyfriend or something? If not, did she think we were more 'together'? Ugh... girls. so hard to figure out. Escpecially if you were isolated from usual society for all of your teenage years. Whatever, if she started going all girlfriend on me, I could totally stop it. Although... mybe that wasn't a bad thing? My train of thought was interupted when I heard a knock on the door and a small girl's voice on the other side. "Sir, are you awake yet?" It wasn't Kaeru. "I am, what do you want?" "When you are decent, please go and wait in the main hall for our prince. He wishes to see you." I heard footsteps, so I knew she left. Who was this prince? I've never been through this training exercise before, so I didn't know what the heck was going on. Once I was, as she said, decent, I exited my room and found myself in a long hallway. There probably wasn't a hall bigger than this, so I assumed it was the main hall. I waited. And waited. And waited. When was this guy going to show up? Still waiting. And more. "Ah, you must be that weary traveler we found knocked out on the desert! How are you? Good? Good!" I didn't look at myself in the mirror too much, but I could tell this guy looked a lot like me. Except with shorter, non hilighted hair. He was also more... eccentric. "Was there a girl anywhere by the place where you found me?" "Hm... nope. Only you. Is this your girlfriend?" Ack! "N-no. Just a friend." "Uh huh. Why did you ask for her?" "She's my travel companion." "I see. You know... I sensed an imbalence of magic when the guards found you. That imbalence is currently headed this way. Perhaps it's her?" Kaeru? Magic balance? Was she so powerful that someone could sense her? "Hey, how can you sense her?" "I have my ways. How about this..." He pulled something out from his kimono. It was a small flask with silvery liquid. "Drink this. It'll turn you invisible. You want to see Kaeru-san and hear what she has to say about you, right?" How did he know her name? "Your answers will be answered. Just take it." He held out his hand with the flask. I was too curious, so I took it, opened it, and drank it. "I don't feel any different. How did you get this, anyway?"

"You shouldn't feel different, and you don't need to know that. I'm going to go to the porch and wait. You can come too, if you want." What else was I to do? I followed him, and found out that this shrine was on a hill overlooking an entire village. the village seemed peaceful, but a little solumn. Some horses were coming up a hill, and they had a girl on a horse in the center. It was Kaeru. When they reached the gate of the shrine and entered it, I heard her. "Sasuke! It's-" She seemed to be interrupted by a guard, and they started walking up. What was the problem? Did she see me? "My name is also Sasuke, if you were wondering." The prince who gave me the invisibility potion explained, and all was clear. "Sasuke-dono, we've re-captured a prisoner. Shall we do a background test on her?" The guard obviously didn't like her. Good. She was too good for him. "I see. Leave her with me, I'll decide to do with her." The guard bowed, and left. Once he got to the bottom of the hill, Sasuke-san invited Kaeru inside. She had a worried expression on her face, and it was actually really cute. It had been that moment where I realized how much I really did want to see her. If I wasn't invisible and if I didn't have a purpose for being invisible, I'd go and talk to her right now. Of course, having thin air talking to you is definately weird too. "What's your name?" He spoke a lot more seriously. Like he meant business. Was it a front? He was totally friendly to me. (Minus that arrogant like air, but other than that...) "M-my name is Kaeru." She was stuttering, and again, it was pretty cute. She was also fidgetting. That meant either A, she liked him. B, he reminded her of me who she likes. Or C, she was nervous. I hope it was C. "Why are you here?" "It's... a long story." "You'll be less trusted the less details you give." He's good with the interrogation. "Well... the details are fuzzy for me, so I wouldn't be able to give you a great description." He started walking up a spirl staircase, and Kaeru followed. I did too. "Where are you from?" "The village Heibai." He froze. Why? "I see." He continued up. "Let me ask you, are you from here?" "No. I have no idea where I am right now." "I see." We almost got to the top of the shrine, the exit of this tower. "what's your opinion on meikai?" The question was sudden, and out of the blue. "I don't know. All I've heard about them is that they're inside... special people." Guardians. "Did you know that they can actually manifest themselves as things on the earth?" So that meant demons could lead a life like ours. "N-no. I didn't." She stuttered. Where was he going with this? "You know, this city has been here for ages. Long before me, it belonged to my ancestors. It's served as a stronghold for our kind." What did he mean by 'our kind'? As I wondered, he went up the final steps, showing us a wonderful sight, along with a cute city around the west and a scary construction project to the west. "The ones over there," He pointed to the project. "Are trying to exterminate us. The ones over there," he pointed to the city. "are also trying to exterminate us. Now please tell me, which group is human, and which group is meikai?" Meikai lived here? If they did, we were all in trouble. They hated us "Trick question! They're both meikai! One's just obviously putting up a nicer front!" He didn't like my answer. "Sadly, incorrect. The ones over there," He pointed to the city. "are the humans. The ones over there," he pointed to the construction project. "Are rogue meikai, trying to kill their own kind." Own kind? Did he mean... "So who're the meikai they're trying to kill?"

"The meikai here." He was a meikai. I could see the shock on her face and only imagine the shock on mine. "What's wrong? You fine with me before." It's sad... knowing what someone is can sometimes shatter an opinion. "I was told... meikai can possess you if you're not yourself. I was told that they can hurt you. I'm not going to put myself at risk!" She was reinforcing her mind to prevent attack. He smiled. That manipulative creep, what was he thinking? "We look like all you humans. How are we different?" "You're all bloodthirsty!" Geez, she was really pretty, but good at generalizing and stereotyping. Of course, it was hard not to in our situation. "I could say the same thing about all you humans." "How!?" Her pride was showing. "You all discriminate against anything. And everything." Maybe not everything, but many things. "Prove it!" "Country. Race. Religion. Peers. Yourself. Anything different." He was very right. "Well, you guys possess others! How can you feel right about that!?" "We don't. It's something that happens. Some of us can't do it at all. You're talking about a small percentage." She had this look of pure terror on her face. "I can see you're not willing to open your mind. Trust me. I would never attack that village. There's someone I know there. someone special. Tell me, do you have a special someone?" Did I? I mean, Sasuke was my Destined, but I didn't really have a huge crush on him. "I guess so. I'm good friends with this one guy." "Is he your Destined? You seem like the type who'd be a Guardian." If he knew she was a Guardian, did he know about me? "Heh. No one ever is in that oasis alone. You're too naive. You think I wouldn't guess magic got you here? A meikai can detect the magic influxes in the air. You think I didn't know something happened?" Was that how he found me? "You! W-why do you know!? That's a secret!" "Ha!" He suddenly got quieter. "There are many secrets in this world. Some are meant to be kept. Some are poisonous to keep. Some are darker than others. Any of yours? Lighter and somewhat inconsquencial." My secret inconsequencial!? How dare he! "Hey! I'm full of good secrets!" "Let me guess one of them... 'I'm Kaeru and I'm in love with Sarutobi Sasuke!" she blushed. He was right. She did have a crush on me. "Y-you!? How do you know him!?" He looked at her, then laughed. "Heh. I know lots of things." He paused. "Wat would you do if the one you loved is a meikai?" He said that, and her knees started wobbling, she fell, he caught her. "I knocked her out before she went crazy. And yes. I'm a meikai. You're not that different from me, you know." What did her mean? "Oh, and the potion wore off." He was right. I could see myself. And why was I not different from him? "What do you mean?" "The name Sasuke is an exclusive name to the meikai nobility. That legendary ninja, Sasuke Sarutobi, is an exception. Think about that... and your magic." The world blurred. My knees buckled.

-Eight: Continue-KaeruI was on the hill again. What was this? "You up there! Identify yourself! human or meikai!?" Play along. Always be honest. "I'm a human!" Horses stampede in the distance. a weighted net was over my head again. A warrior got off their horse, and got up to talk to me. "You're honestly not in the know." what did they mean? "You never reveal if you're a human or meikai or not. Escpecially in this society..." The net was suddenly lifted and I could move. "I'm confused." The person who seemed to be the leader got off their horse. They were dressed in what looked like Japanese feudal era armor. "Are you not from here?" "No... why?" "You don't seem to be aware of what's happening." They took off their helmet, and introduced themself. "My name is Eruka. You?" She seemed very nice. "My name is Kaeru Ranawa. Nice to meet you, Eruka-san!" We shook hands. "Come with us, we're going back to the village right now." I agreed, and we ran through very young looking trees to a marvelous fort. "I thought you said we were going to a village!" "Well, I do admit that this is quite large for one, but it's still good to be modest." She then turned to the large gates and yelled. "It is I, Eruka returning to my home! I bring a guest from the outside, thoroughly checked and cleared!" The gates opened, and I followed Eruka-san inside. The inside was even better. The houses were all stylized as pan asian, and some things were cut out of rock that formed naturally in the area. "This place is amazing!" "It is, right? As host to you, the guest, I'm totally obligated to give you a tour!" Obligated!? "Ack! Don't feel obligated! I'm only here because-" She interuppted me. "Never tell people your personal business unless specifically asked. You'll get in less trouble that way." We started on our tour. I met the village's most important people, as well as the least important. Everything was seen. Towards the end, the more interesting things were seen. "So, now that you've seen our city, what's your favorite part?" "I liked..." It was hard to decide. This city was quite charming in it's own ways. The way everyone was so kind to each other, the way everything worked so well. "The whole thing!" She frowned and said, "Wrong answer." What? "Be more descisive. Otherwise nothing will happen. Now tell me, what was your favorite part?" "My favorite part was the temple." she raised her eyebrows. "Really? Why?" "I don't know, It might sound weird, but I think I felt something from it." "Interesting. Want to go back?" "Sure!" We went up the path into the highest part of the mountain until we got to a cave in the rock. This wasn't the temple she showed me before. "Hey... where are we?" "We're at the real temple." Real? "The other one is just for display for the public. But for special people, this is your place." Special? "Aw, thanks! But I'm not really that special. I'm the least popular in school..." "No, I didn't mean like that. You're a different special." She paused for effect. "You're a Guardian too, right?" She knew? And what did she mean by 'too'?

"What? Uh... I don't get what you're saying..." "I know you do. The saineng exerting from you is on par with that of a meikai. Not on par, really. It's even higher than one." "Me? Power? What do you mean?" Me!? Higher than a meikai!? No one had ever given me an idea of how strong my magic was. "I know what you're doing here. You need your zhooyuu stone and your mifuu stone. I know where to get them." We heard yelling in the distance. And lots of horses. A voice sounded off in the distance. "Princess of the Clan of Humans! Come out and show yourself! We have captured your village, and intend to take all of the power in it!" I recognized the voice. It was that guy who captured me earlier, Shuai. Eruka-san seemed to know, too. "Shuai! Get out of there!" She then turned to me. "Listen, enter to temple, say a prayer, and take a leap of faith. You will find what you need there. Don't come back up. Just wait. Your questions will be answered soon." Everyone thought they were the boss of me. Why? I had enough common sense to do what made sense! I decided to go and follow her instructions, since a bunch of the horses from the enemy were approaching. I ran in, and prayed for answers and a way out of here. When I was done with that, I ran, and took the leap of faith. When I landed, there wasn't any darkness, everything was completely illuminated. I continued through the hallway, and discovered some new looking reliefs carved into the wall. The first relief depicted a single light illuminating the panel. The second relief depicted the light shining on eight blurry figures. The third relief depicted the light enveloping the eight figures. The fourth relief depicted the eight figures with different arm positions seeming to control different things. From here on, the relief subjects changed from events, to people. The fifth relief depicted a girl with long, flowing hair in beautiful, yet simple clothing. There was a guy next to her with short hair, and elegant armour. She had a necklace shaped like a unicorn, shining, as she held her arms up controlling an earthy substance. Behind her, there was a slight trace of a dragon. He had a necklace shaped like a lion, glowing, as he held a sword ready to slice. Behind him was a slight trace of a tiger. The sixth relief depicted a girl, also with long hair, but not as long as the previous. Her clothes were simple and flowy. A guy next to her had short hair and a flashy (pattern wise) outfit. She had a necklace shaped like a phoenix, glowing, and a quiver filled with arrows and a bow. She was pulling back on the bowstring with an arrow ready here. He had a necklace shaped like a dragon, shining, as he held one of his hands up to the air and another pointing to the side of the panel, they seemed to be redirecting lightning. Behind both of them was a trace of a dragon. The seventh relief depicted a girl with hair down to her waist wearing a traditional kimono. she had a hawk necklace, shining brightly as she controlled something that looked like fire. A large bird was behind her. Beside her, a blur. There was magic blocking it. The eighth relief depicted a girl with long hair who was wearing a sailor fuku. The guy next to her wore a guy's Japanese uniform and had spikey, chin length hair. She was controlling a metallic substance with ease, her monkey necklace shining. On her hip she also had a case of daggars. His bear necklace glowed as he wielded his katana, the blade full of ancient looking symbols. A trace of a dragon was behind him, a trace of a tiger behind her. I studied these reliefs, trying to figure out what they meant. After several minutes, I heard mumbling from outside the temple, and then a loud crash. "Shiit! Again!" I should've run away, but where was a place to run? This place was a straight hallway. Nowhere to escape to or run to other than the other side. Besides, that voice was very familier. "Hello? Who's there?" a familiar voice sounded back. "Kaeru? Is that you?" It was Sasuke. I ran towards the darkness, then saw him, holding his arms out wide. I hugged him. His leg that still hadn't healed before was all cut up again. "Sasuke! I missed you so much!" Suddenly, the last thing the other Sasuke flashed through my mind.

"Me too." He wasn't emotional, but that was normal for him. Even so... that thought had infected and corrupted anything else I was thinking. I broke the hug. "Is there a problem?" "No, not really." I turned away from him and started down the passage. I had lied to him. We walked on for some time until we got to the reliefs. At that point, I went to study them again, he did too. This time I couldn't focus on the reliefs. I could only focus on the thought. Was he a meikai, or did the other just say that to bother me? He couldn't be. He was too nice to be one. Although... he did seem to lack emotion. That was a sign, right? I shouldn't care. Sasuke is my Destined, right? I should be able to trust him. But... I didn't feel completely convinced about this. "What's down this hall?" "A bunch of reliefs." "Okay. Maybe there's a hint to the solution of this issue." I started walking down with him. It was weird. I felt like I was walking with an enemy. I felt like I was walking with a friend. I felt like I was walking with conflict. Conflict in myself. It is not a comfortable feeling. He looked at the reliefs, didn't say anything. "Do you see anything interesting?" Maybe he could see something I couldn't. "The people here look very eerily similar to people I know. Did you notice? In the fifth panel, the girl looks like Mei. The guy there, who you wouldn't know, looks like my old friend Shuai. In the sixth panel, the people look like Satoshi and Shizuka. In the seventh panel, it looks like my former partner, Hio. In the eighth panel, the people look like you and me." He paused. What did this mean? "So does that mean... we're special?" "It probably isn't just us. Might be reincarnations. Maybe there'll be more clues further down this hall." We started walking. What did this mean? We were in those reliefs. Either the people who carved these had incredible foresight, or they were just good guessers. As we headed further, the floor began to slant. The light began to fade, bit by bit. That was a problem. I was afriad of the dark. But being near Sasuke, there was a small feeling of relief deep inside. But the feeling of fear was more forward, disturbing that happiness and security. We walked for a very long time. In that time, it keep getting darker and colder. The cave made me feel more at ease. Maybe I could give Sasuke more of a chance? It was unfair I was treating him upon something unconfirmed. "Sasuke, I'm cold." "So?" He didn't wanna take a hint, huh? "Sasuke, I'm scared of the dark." "OK then." Again? The darkness and coolness was actually starting to get to me. "Hey, I think I see something." There was a small shine ahead. Like metal, only not. The shine seemed to be coming from a self powered source. "What's that?" "We won't find out until we get there!" He started to run ahead. "Sasuke! Wait, please!" I crouched down on the ground. This place felt like it was full of spirits. A crypt of sorts. It was creepy. "Kaeru, get up!" "I can't! I-I don't like this place!" "I don't care if you don't like it, we didn't come here for nothing!" "I can't!" The pressure of this place was wearing me down. Well, the mere pressure of all the spirits. Plus the pressure of my fear. "You're hopeless." He came up to me and took my hand. Not really lovingly, but more annoyed. Still, it was pretty nice! "What's it say?" The slab of metal was large, and has several symbols on it. They were in an octagonal pattern, in groups of three. and consisted of broken and unbroken lines. "Find yourself. That's it." "Do you know anything about this?"

"Yeah. Each Guardian is represented by one of these symbols. I guess you need to find which symbol is yours." "You know what you're Guardian of, right?" "Yeah. I'm the Guardian representing mountains. If I remember correctly, you're the Guardian representing lakes." "Okay. Know which is which?" "I know we're not on the direct top, bottom, left or right. Also, we're on opposite sides." "Why opposite sides?" "Guardians work well because they balance each other out." I ran my fingers along the ridges of the slab's carvings. I felt nothing. "I feel nothing. Maybe... since we're partners, we hold each other's hand?" It was cheesy, but it could work, right? He said nothing, but still gripped my hand. We traced the borders of the carvings agan, but they felt different. Hot, warm, cool, cold. It changed from symbol to symbol. I was guessing it was a clue, guiding me to the place where I'd be able to unlock it's secrets. "Kaeru, I found mine." His hand was on the lower right symbol. So I must be on the upper left symbol. The instant I touched it, there was an overwhelming sensation on my spine. The slab started glowing brighter, and finally dissappeared. We were in a room full of light, and... gymnastics equipment? A familiar voice called to us. "Welcome, Guardians, to your training room."

-SasukeI woke up. When I realized I was in the same room as before, I dashed out of the bed, out of the room, looking for that other Sasuke. Why was he butting into my business? He had no reason. That, and I needed to make sure Kaeru didn't hate me. After a few minutes of searching, I came up with nothing. "Looking for someone?" It was him. "YOU! What did you do to Kaeru!?" "Just what I did to you. I dropped her off where I found her. What, do you want to see her?" "Yeah. I want to make sure you didn't destroy my reputation with her." "Of course. I'll go with you to that city." "What do you mean?" "We've been planning an invasion of that other city for quite some time. Dropping you off is a perfect excuse." "You're invading a city just to get me into it!?" "Why of course!" What a monster. But I needed to see Kaeru. "Ugh. Just tell me what I have to do." "Simple! When we get to the forest, you take a different route. Try to find the temple on the mountains. By the time we get there, Kaeru will probably be underground. You can find her there." "How will I know?" "Just trust your powers. Think of lakes and swamps." Lakes and swamps? They must be Kaeru's power symbols. "Any personal things you're getting out of the way?" "Why yes! I need to see my friend, Eruka. She'll be overjoyed to see I'm alive and well." He said that with a sarcastic tone. What was the plan within a plan here? "So please get dressed in your usual Guardian wear. It's more respectful that way." He dismissed me, and I went back to my room. To my surprise, my school uniform slash Guardian uniform was there waiting for me. I took off my kimono and put that on instead. This outfit brought back memories. It keeps raking them in, too. When I was done with my nostalgia, I looked out of my room and saw a crowd of people outside the temple. Were

they cheering the war effort? I decided to stop asking and start doing. When I got to the main hall, I saw a sudan chair and a parade of people in armour equipped with a multitude of weapons. That reminded me to get my katana, the only thing I could use at the moment. "Sasuke! Over here!" There was the sudan with it's open curtain. I ran inside it, and found myself in a four person sudan with the other Sasuke. "So great you could join me." "Why am I in here? I'm fine with walking." "Not with that gash in your knee." He pointed to my still healing cut made from numerous impacts into the rocks of the ruins. "If you haven't noticed, I'm fine with it." "I'm sure you are. But this is very important. You can't open the possibility of you being hurt. You're particularly important in this mission." I accepted that rather beautiful speech, and just shut up. There was no turning back. ----It was time. We entered the woods, and expected an assault at any time. I was dropped off at the edge of the forest and ran as fast as my leg allowed me. Since I heard the temple was on the highest hill, I looked for shorter trees as I ran. It took awhile, but I finally found it. This temple... looked like the ruins if they were restored. Was this the old Heibai? Were we back in time? I knew the drill. Approach, pray, leap, puncture. It was simple, and a normal procedure. I prayed for answers, and Kaerus safety. I also prayed for my powers. When finished with that, I went into the darkness and jumped. I caught some major wind, then felt the reopening of my wound. "Shiit! Again!" That probably blew my cover, to anyone above ground or under it. It did. I heard a voice. "Hello? Who's there?" It was Kaeru. "Kaeru? Is that you?"I saw her running towards me from the lit part of the temple, and I walked forward a bit and held out my arms. Perhaps a way of convincing her I wasn't bad was a hug and explanation. "Sasuke! I missed you so much!" She hugged really tightly. It hurt and was kinda cute at the same time. "Me too." I answered in my normal voice, just so she knew it was me. I mean, if I hugged her back with an extremely tight grip and said, 'Kaeru! I miss and love you sooooo much!' that would be a bit out of character. Suddenly, she broke our hug. "Is there a problem?" She turned away from me. "No, not really." We walked in silence down the halls. They were gold plated, and the floor was a normal stone. The gold plates hugged each edge they were on, and the gold itself added an extra illumination to it all. "What's down this hall?" "A bunch of reliefs." This sounded like our usual temple. "Okay. Maybe there's a hint to the solution of this issue." I could sense her saineng. She was very confused. I wasn't bad! Was I? No, even if I was a meikai, I knew I'd still try to protect her. "Do you see anything interesting?" She pointed to the reliefs, and I studied them. "The people here look very eerily similar to people I know. Did you notice? In the fifth panel, the girl looks like Mei. The guy there, who you wouldn't know, looks like my old friend Shuai. In the sixth panel, the people look like Satoshi and Shizuka. In the seventh panel, it looks like my former partner, Hio. In the eighth panel, the people look like you and me." These panels were no doubt pictures of us. But we were in the past, so it didn't make sense. How would they know what we looked like? "So does that mean... we're special?" She's definately special.

"It probably isn't just us. Might be reincarnations. Maybe there'll be more clues further down this hall." We started walking. The floor was slanting now. I thought about our situation and time. I had traveled around the world once before. There was no construction project that looked like that in any way. There was no village or ruins in the place of the meikai city. Heibai... well I hadn't seen it in here, but this temple's architecture was definately similar to the temple we had. However, the hall definately wasn't as long, and the floor never slanted down like this. Kaeru was both keeping her distance from me and clinging to me, if that made sense. "Sasuke, I'm cold." "So?" I wasn't going to hug her. It would cause her some conflict again, and I didn't want her to go through that. Self confliction... "Sasuke, I'm scared of the dark." "OK then." She did start trembling. And if you're wondering, yes. I definately got what she was hinting at. "Hey, I think I see something." There was a glow coming from ahead. And since there was no electricity in this time I assume, the light needed to be self powered. "What's that?" "We won't find out until we get there!" I ran ahead. Hopefully she'd get the guts to go ahead. "Sasuke! Wait, please!" I couldn't hear any footsteps, she wasn't moving. I head loud gasps and pants, and the sound of cloth tapping the floor. Yeah, she crouched on the floor hyperventilating. Part of me felt bad for her, and another part just thought, 'pathetic'. But it was her fear, not my place to criticize. "Kaeru, get up!" I needed to be in character. "I can't! I-I don't like this place!" No room for weaklings, being the toughest of the tough, that's my character. "I don't care if you don't like it, we didn't come here for nothing!" Not wasting anything, that's my character. "I can't!" Ignoring and denying the one I love. Was this my character? "You're hopeless." I walked towards her and took her hand. The slab of glowing rock destroyed my night vision, but the glow reached far enough where I could see her. Plus, I could hear her trembling. I took her hand, and led her up to the slab. "What's it say?" The slab was large and had a combination of Japanese and Chinese characters on it. I could read them prefectly. "Find yourself. That's it." "Do you know anything about this?" I examined the slab further. The carvings were the ba gua, or the chart that our power sources are stemmed from. "Yeah. Each Guardian is represented by one of these symbols. I guess you need to find which symbol is yours." "You know what you're Guardian of, right?" Yes. I didn't go through six years of my life not knowing my power! "Yeah. I'm the Guardian representing mountains. If I remember correctly, you're the Guardian representing lakes." Lakes were supposed to be my opposing element. "Okay. Know which is which?" I didn't really take the time to memorize it. Which was lame. "I know we're not on the direct top, bottom, left or right. Also, we're on opposite sides." "Why opposite sides?" She didn't know these things, but questions are tiring. "Guardians work well because they balance each other out." I ran my fingers over the symbols, but nothing happened. Was it my lack of power? "I feel nothing. Maybe... since we're partners, we hold each other's hand?" I said nothing. It was a great idea. Guardians are unity, escpecially teams. I ran my hand over the symbols again, and felt different heat sensations coming from each. Warm or cold, it was a guide. When I got to my symbol, I felt not a burn, but not temperature at all.

"Kaeru, I found mine." The slab started glowing brighter, and finally dissappeared. We were in a room full of light, equipment for training. In other words, stuff for gymnastics. A familiar voice called to us. "Welcome, Guardians, to your training room."

-Nine: Tolerance-KaeruTraining room? What the heck!? We went all the way down that hole for TRAINING!? Plus, the people in that room were the two I had no idea I'd see. Eruka and the other Sasuke. I spoke. "Eruka, Sasuke, what are you two doing here?" Eruka spoke first. "We're here to train you in the ways of the Guardians!" Then Sasuke. The one who's my partner. "I went down the hole with you." Then the other. "She means me, kiddo." Sasuke got angry. "Who're you calling 'kiddo'!? I'm sixteen and a half!" I decided to stop the fight before it happened. "Sasuke! Stop!" The other Sasuke spoke. "Which one?" "Both of you!" There was a small silence. Eruka spoke. "Obviously, we're not going to survive on both of these Sasukes being called Sasuke. So how about this... younger Sasuke will be called Sasu-kun or Suke-kun by Kaeru, and the other will just be the usual Sasuke! Sasuke the younger one, you choose your new nickname." He was blushing now and when he answered. "I don't care, Kaeru should just be happy with it." Yay! I get to pick! "So, Kaeru, which one?" I thought. "Suke-kun!" He looked more embaressed. Was that the wrong one? "Ah! Sasuke! Do you not like that one!?" He looked at me, and answered. "No, I'm just thinking of the harassment from Shizuka-san I'll have to put up with." I laughed. For once in a while since being in The Metropolis. It was such a good feeling, I went so far as to cling to Sasuke's, or Suke-kun's arm. He didn't really seem to mind, but knowing him, it was better to back off. "You okay?" I smiled back at him. Eruka took the floor again. "As you know, we're going to be training. There are six factors in this training. Knowing your kima, controlling your zhooyuu stone, maintaining your mifuu stone, facing your Destined, physical well being, and cleansing your mengyo. This will take some time, but if you want to be a good Guardian, you should follow our guidelines and then practice when you get home." It sounded like some work, but how else would we be able to control our powers? "One question, Eruka-sensei," She beamed with that comment. "what's the importance of these things?" "Easy! And thanks for the -sensei there! Kima are spoken words, you know and can control some to an extent, but they're much more vast than you think. Your zhooyuu stone usually is just a necklace, but when activated, it can increase the range and effectiveness of your attacks. Your mifuu stone surpresses your inner meikai. Something also good for preventing possesion by a meikai. Facing your Destined is basically... facing your Destined. A heart to heart, you could call it. Physical well being is basically the gymnastics skill and fighting power for battles." Battles? I don't want to fight. "Mengyo is your honor and soul. Cleanse and refine those things, and they improve small things in your ability that you don't notice." I nodded. "Good! Now Kaeru will go with me and Suke-san will go with Sasuke. Kima, zhooyuu, mifuu, and physical training should be done individually." Suke-kun went with Sasuke. I went with Eruka. "Good luck." Suke-kun whispered into my ear that phrase. Kya! It was so cool and nice! He had emotions! Eruka took me to the other side of the room, and a partition went down. "We don't need to see what they're doing. they don't need to see what we're doing. Now focus. Before you get your mifuu stone and zhooyuu stone, your body needs to take the strain of all that magic. They each use a chunk of saineng to operate, so you need to train a lot to get the strain." I did many

exercises. Running, it hurt my legs, and it was easy to get out of breath. You think your coach is mean, try Eruka. Total slave driver for this thing. Jumping, it sounds easy, but if you're a little afraid of heights and you're on a really big trampoline, it's not a nice equation. Weight lifting, I remember a sign in my old gym, 'There is no SUBSTITUTE for STRENGTH and no EXCUSE for the LACK of it!' in that exact lettering. After doing all this, I thought of something. Substitue? Knowledge. Super nerd who knows about pressure points will beat muscle man anytime. No excuse? Pfft. I had so many. Flipping, it's hard when you're no good at it in the first place. Balance beaming, I'm a bit of a klutz. I hated physical education, so this wasn't much different. By the end, I was so tired, all my bones and muscles were on fire. "I see you don't have any more strength to go on, so I'll tell you more about kima." I nodded. I was all ears. "You need to understand your element, lakes and swamps more before you do more with this. Lakes and swamps, also known as Dui, resonate with the element metal." "I though metal wasn't an element." "In this culture, the elements are fire, water, earth, wood, and metal. Five elements, no air. Each element has one or two other people that resonate with it. For you, the Lost Prince Shuai is the fellow resonatee." "Why is he the Lost Prince?" "We don't know why. That's for you to figure out. Anyway, your zhooyuu stone resonates with that element so much that it actually can transform itself into your element and actively create it. All Guardians can directly control their element, so all you need is earth and your zhooyuu stone will refine it and provide you with metal. The material you use to create your element will also determine it's quality. Your zhooyuu stone is the finest quality, so you'll always have that with you wherever you are." "Okay, what about mifuu stones?" "Again, they protect you. They're also necklaces, usually made out of green jade. Your personal colors are important for safe guarding, too. That's why your Guardian uniform has some orange and purple in it. Also, both of your personal animals will be carved into it." "Personal animals?" "Yours are the monkey and white tiger. The white tiger is shared as a guardian animal for those with the metal element, the monkey is for dui type only. You can summon these animals, and if you call upon your mifuu stone, you can change physical and mental traits with the animal." Share traits? A picture of me, a monkey, and a tiger mix together. Ugh. NOT a pretty picture. "Uh... that's... pleasant." She took some time to figure out what I meant and then figured it out. "Oh! Don't worry! You can select the traits! It's not like you'd be some hybrid! Heh... that's just weird. Instead, you could, lets say... grow some claws for better attacks." Attacks. "Attacks?" "Yeah." "What if I'm say... a pacifist?" She stared at me. "Kaeru. You don't have to kill people. Just injure them enough to accomplish a mission." To accomplish a mission? "But that's not morally correct." "Kaeru, you will never get a mission to kill someone. Sometimes being a guardian is this sort of work, but it mostly isn't. I'll move onto mengyo refining and cleansing. This is hard. The base of a Guardians powers is self confidence. Not like those with bigger egos are stronger, but if you trust in your powers, they'll be stronger. Also, you need to have a purpose for your powers. Losing yourself is also a problem in power loss. Take your partner Sasuke, for an example. He's been basing his strength off of the will to protect people he loves. Lately, he's been suffering lots of losses. He couldn't stop you from gaining your powers, so he saw that as a major loss to your protection. Something else that happened was his not being able to protect you against the one who captured Shizuka-san and Satoshi-

san. He lost his sense of self because he didn't see the point of himself being there if he couldn't protect you. It sounds cheesy, but he's very driven by these things. Do you get it?" I nodded. "So he lost faith in his power which made him lose it? Or did he lose himself? Or both?" "Both would be correct." The partition was shaking. "Looks like they're both almost done. One last thing I'll tell you in this special session. In the near future, you'll witness something that will change your vision of in your life forever. Get a more open mind. If you do that, you can avoid a major catastrophy." I bowed to her, thanked her, and the partition dissappeared. So did Eruka and the other Sasuke. It was time for that 'heart to heart' as Eruka called it. Maybe now was the time I'd learn all of his secrets. "So..." Why was I always the first to speak? I was still unsure about Sasuke possibly being a meikai. That disturbed me a lot. "Kaeru, I'm sorry I've been a jerk to you since the beginning of this year. I just..." "You really wanted to protect me, right? It's fine!" Not really, it was a bit overprotective. "Okay then. There's something else I have to tell you." Was this the meikai part? "Kaeru... I don't want you to judge me too harshly." It was. "But, I'm actually a meikai." An arrow shot through my chest. No, not literally, but metaphorically. "Sasuke... I..." Suddenly, an earthquake shook through the room. Nothing really happened other than dramatic shaking, but it made a clear impact. Eruka ran up to us. "Guys, watch out! we feel nothing, but you do. This means that something is happening in your world! Be careful, you will wake up, be ready to fight." I prepared myself, felt a rush of air, felt Sasuke's hand and the melted chocolate seeping from it onto mine. I opened my eyes, and saw we were in complete darkness. "Get away from this sacred temple, demons!" and felt a rush of energy. The darkness was penetrated by cracks of light, and then the light shattered. My eyes burned from the sudden light, and I felt pressure of a special kind on my chest. What was happening?

-SasukeTraining room? I thought we were training right now. Oh well, Kaeru needed this, so I'd stick through it. She was the first to talk. "Eruka, Sasuke, what are you two doing here?" The one I guessed who was Eruka spoke first. She definately looked like an older version of Kaeru, just... older. (like, twentys older.) "We're here to train you in the ways of the Guardians!" What was I doing here!? "I went down the hole with you." The one who escorted me here part of the way spoke now. "She means me, kiddo." Kiddo!? "Who're you calling 'kiddo'!? I'm sixteen and a half!" Kaeru stepped forward and stopped both of us before we destroyed the place. "Sasuke! Stop!" The not me Sasuke answered. Obnoxiously. "Which one?" "Both of you!" There was a small silence. Eruka spoke. "Obviously, we're not going to survive on both of these Sasukes being called Sasuke. So how about this... younger Sasuke will be called Sasu-kun or Suke-kun by Kaeru, and the other will just be the usual Sasuke! Sasuke the younger one, you choose your new nickname." Oh great. Yeah, the one thing I needed to complete Shizuka-san's list of 'what to harass Sasuke about' was a cutesy nickname. I couldn't choose. I'd let Kaeru. But if I let her, then she'd pick the cuter one. Descisions, descisions. "I don't care, Kaeru should just be happy with it." She beamed. Good sign? "So, Kaeru, which one?" "Suke-kun!" Yup. It was the cuter one. "Ah! Sasuke! Do you not like that one!?"

"No, I'm just thinking of the harassment from Shizuka-san I'll have to put up with." She laughed a lot and clung to my arm. The laughing didn't bother me, and neither did the clinging. It was nice, I never had heard her laugh before. "You okay?" She gave me a bright smile back, and Eruka-san spoke again. "As you know, we're going to be training. There are six factors in this training. Knowing your kima, controlling your zhooyuu stone, maintaining your mifuu stone, facing your Destined, physical well being, and cleansing your mengyo. This will take some time, but if you want to be a good Guardian, you should follow our guidelines and then practice when you get home." When the heck would we get home? "One question, Eruka-sensei," What a suck up. "what's the importance of these things?" "Easy! And thanks for the -sensei there! Kima are spoken words, you know and can control some to an extent, but they're much more vast than you think. Your zhooyuu stone usually is just a necklace, but when activated, it can increase the range and effectiveness of your attacks. Your mifuu stone surpresses your inner meikai. Something also good for preventing possesion by a meikai. Facing your Destined is basically... facing your Destined. A heart to heart, you could call it. Physical well being is basically the gymnastics skill and fighting power for battles." Uh oh. She said battles. "Mengyo is your honor and soul. Cleanse and refine those things, and they improve small things in your ability that you don't notice." Kaeru nodded. "Good! Now Kaeru will go with me and Suke-san will go with Sasuke. Kima, zhooyuu, mifuu, and physical training should be done individually." I went with Sasuke. Kaeru went with Eruka. To be supportive of her, "Good luck." I hope she heard me. When we were both on our sides, a partition appeared, blocking our view of the other side. The other Sasuke smiled devilishly. "So... what am I going to review?" "You're going to learn about your heritage. You're learning about the history of meikai." So I really was one. "How can you still be joking about that?" "I'm not joking! You're judging us all at face value! Look deeper! This is your heritage, something you can never let go of!" Instead of convincing stubborn me to actually listen, he tied me up so I wouldn't be able to escape. "The meikai were the original people of this land. We always have been able to use magic. It's in our blood. Our specialty is the ability to temporarily split our souls from our bodies, not striaght possession. This means we could do things like spying easier. Souls can't be seen under normal circumstances, and possesion was also possible as a side effect." "Okay, so it's suddenly just a little thing, this possession. If they're all as innocent as you claim, then why do they have such a bad reputation?" "It all started on that day. When the humans came, they brought upon a reaction from the earth. Where their temple is, here, a source of energy suddenly erupted. It was the Sacred Treasures. They gave people power, amplified good and bad. But since our race already much of their amplified powers, we weren't affected. We coexisted with them for a long time, until something happened that stirred the balance." He paused dramatically. "It was the birth of the first meikai Guardian. Someone was born a Guardian, and the Treasures slowly began to grow more unstable. Because of it's power, it created a major imbalance. Slowly, meikai were corrupted and started flocking north to that construction project. They aim to control the world, wiping out humans and meikai, keeping an ideal world for themselves. They never had enough power they needed, however. There were either seven or eight human Guardians who had more power than them. since they were corrupted by the Treasures, it was a clear sign they were weak already.Over the years, the meikai continued an every other generation is a Guardian tradition, until you were born. Your dad was a Guardian, and you were a Guardian. This sped up the process of the Treasures unstabilization, until that incident the on the day of your tenth birthday. Yes, the Fall." So I was a main driving force of the decay of this destructive power? "No one was really the start, it's on the shoulders of everyone. No one's really guilty, it just happened. So, don't blame yourself. This whole thing just unfairly collapsed on you." "So what's with those renegade meikai?"

"They're still being influenced. They last longer, their magic is stronger, but all in all, they're afraid." "Afraid of what? They have all the power in the world, so why afraid?" "Losing power. They're cowards, they'll never fight you directly or one on one if they can help it. They're all influenced by those Treasures." "what exactly are the Treasures, anyway?" "No one really knows. They've never been seen, just referanced as said." "I see. the next thing on the agenda is trying to get your powers back." "I like where this is going. Please continue." "The solution is simple. Stop trying to be someone else, get a life goal." "I'm not pretending. I've been like this my whole life. My life goal is to support Kaeru in any way I can." "Not pretending? You've been faking your entire persona when you met Kaeru again this year. You justified it by saying it was your goal! If you know anything, you know it's great to just let her do what she wants! She's not a little girl!" "I know, but..." "What!?" "Kaeru's my Destined. It's my duty to protect her." "You think it's all one sided? Do you think that Shizuka-san and Satoshi-san are trying to protect each other left and right? No! They support each other, draw on each other's strengths and weaknesses, and fight together as one!" "But Kaeru's not experienced enough!" "She will be if you give her some breathing space. Calm down. She's just one girl, and she was barely Awakened last week. You expect too much of people." "So how will this help me get my powers back?" "Be nicer to her. She's been really nice to you, right?" "Yeah, but-" "So don't be such a jerk! Does it make you feel better, to be so mean to her!?" "No, it doesn't!" "Then stop being so self centered and think about how you can help her!" His words started to sink in. "So, to help her... what should I do?" "Talk about yourself more. Maybe about your past. Maybe about some legends. Who knows, this could work." I genuinely believed it would, and felt a small chunk of energy had been taken out of me. That must have been my mifuu stone adjusting to a new saineng flow. That meant I got some power back. But it was too early to celebrate. This felt nothing like my old power. "As a meikai, the amount of spells you can use is definately increased. You also have your soul splitting ability. Trust me, it'll come in handy. I know you're against it, but if you use it responsibly, you have nothing to worry about." "One last question." "Shoot." "Why are meikai called demons?" "Because of the ones who attacked Heibai changed their look due to the influence of the Treasures." The screen shook. "Time for you to have what Eruka calls a 'heart to heart' with Kaeru." He and the screen dissappeared, leaving me with Kaeru. "So..." She still looked worried. I decided to apologize for my actions here and now, there really wasn't a better opportunity. "Kaeru, I'm sorry I've been a jerk to you since the beginning of this year. I just..." "You really wanted to protect me, right? It's fine!" At least she was okay with it, but I still needed to stop.

"Okay then. There's something else I have to tell you. Kaeru... I don't want you to judge me too harshly. But, I'm actually a meikai." Her expression was of either sheer dissappointment, shock, or sadness. She slowly talked. "Sasuke... I..." Suddenly, the room shook dramatically. To answer the questions in our mind, Eruka came running up to us. "Guys, watch out! we feel nothing, but you do. This means that something is happening in your world! Be careful, you will wake up, be ready to fight." I felt a rush of air, and the chocolate I was holding before we got there in that other place. Was it the past? A simulation? The real deal? Either way, the events that went on in there forever would change Kaeru's perspective on me, and it would forever change my perspective on me. I opened my eyes, saw the darkness, and heard Mei from outside of it. "Get away from this sacred temple, demons!" and felt a rush of saineng. Demons, were there meikai? The dark was disturbed by streams of light, and finally shattering. I felt a warm light from Kaeru's direction. What was this feeling?

-Ten: Shine-KaeruI sat up, and saw Mei. She was fighting one on one with another girl, except the other had long, pure white hair and a kimono with a cloud pattern. These clouds weren't white, though. Not fluffy either. Pitch black. She spoke. "Oh, my Sasuke! Can you come over here now? Playtime is over." I looked towards Sasuke. He wasn't smiling. "Hio! Don't you dare touch her!" So this was Hio? "I wouldn't want to. Her presence does disgust me. You, however, light." "Hio, how did you come back to life? I thought I... you know, stopped you!" I could hear the stumble in his voice. He was still unsure of this. "The dark master helped. Please just understand me, now. I had no choices." Her speech pattern was funny. "Why are you all here?" "Answer is simple! I was ordered to be here. Ordered to bring you." She was speaking in haiku. "Fat chance, I'm with Kaeru." "Then to force you now, I'll go take her! You'll go then, am I not correct?" I saw a spirl of cherry blossom petals, and Sasuke run towards me. "Kaeru! Don't fall for the illusion!" Then, the pressure on my chest reappeared, and I lifted my arm. A chunk of the wall was missing, and I noticed a silvery mass above my head. Yes, I was Kaeru. Guardian of Dui, master of metal. I had my zhooyuu stone and my mifuu stone from that training, and I could finally use them. "Hio-san, leave this place." I got a small 'eep!' from her, and she teleported out. "She's scary?" "Trust me, she gets worse." Mei ran up to me and hugged. Tight. "Thank goodness you two woke up! Hio can be scary when she wants to! I was here, guarding all of you! When we were suddenly attacked! I don't know about the village, but it was probably attacked as well. I have no idea how they found this place!" There was something I needed to know. "Mei, did you know Sasuke is a meikai?" "Yes. I knew the day he got here. Even before he had been Awakened, he had tremendous energy. Energy on par with a typical meikai's. When we got him checked, the elders told us he was one, we never told him. Anyway, we have to go and meet with the elders. Kaeru, since you have your zhooyuu stone and your mifuu stone, you're now an official member of the Guardians." "Who else will be at that meeting?" "Shizuka and Satoshi, and they don't know about Sasuke's heritage. Sasuke, is it okay to tell them?" He nodded. "Well, let's get going!" It sounded exciting being part of a council thing, but Sasuke and Mei didn't look excited. We got out of the ruins, Mei healed Sasuke's leg, and we dashed down. ----We were in front of the building. Sasuke and Mei told me things about what it'd be like. Here's what I heard: One: The elders are harsh. Two: The elders are pains in the you know what. Three: The elders think they own the place, but they don't. Four: We still consult the elders because of ancient law.

Five: The elders are probably going to verbally abuse you as much as they do for Sasuke. Six: The elders always verbally abuse Sasuke to the point of an instigated rampage. Seven: They hate you. No reason. Eight: There are seven of them. Nine: If you want to kick them around, don't do it without me. (This was Sasuke's comment, not Mei's.) Ten: They're not actually old, just fourty. Eleven: Feel free to call the old geezers. (Again, Sasuke's comment.) Twelve: The main one is really the only one who talks. After going over all of the guidelines in my head multiple times, I was ready to go in. We were all standing at the front, waiting for the 'Okay' to go in. Suddenly, the doors opened wide by themself, and we were in an amazing, gold courtroom. There were many people there, not just those seven elders. Mei whispered into my ears. "It's the entire village. They might know Sasuke figured out who he was, and he wants the village to know." Those tricky... morons. "The Guardians are all here! I trust the training went well?" Mei was chosen as our default spokesperson since she was the princess. "Better than expected. However, we were attacked by meikai midway and were forced to quit." "Thank you for the report. Did Sarutobi cause any problems?" "No. He cooperated completely like he ALWAYS does. So please stop asking that." I looked at Sasuke. His fist was clenched. He was angry. "And what of Ranawa?" "She received her zhooyo and mifuu stones after the training. She was even able to repel one of Hio's look alikes." "Promising, I guess." I guess!? "Satoshi and Shizuka, what the heck have you two been doing?" Wow, I didn't even notice they came in! Shizuka was their spokesperson since Mei didn't know what happened to them. "We were repelling meikai from the village. Just us. Do you know how freaking hard that is!? There were hundreds!" "Ha! We're just 'geezers'. What do you expect us to do!?" They all laughed. We all glared. I noticed Sasuke had stood up and was walking to the center of the room. Was he going to announce? "Hey, listen up!" The room was silent. "The training was a success. Not just because I regained my powers, or Kaeru can now more accurately use hers, it's because I found out where I came from." They all glared and gasped. Was this supposed to be a huge secret? "Yes. I found out that I'm a..." he gulped, this must have been super hard for him. "Over the past few days, I have learned a lot about myself. Maybe that's the reason I lost my powers, I needed to find a way. I was a jerk to my Destined, and there was something in my head saying that I needed to get an attitude check. I went through the training, and I found the solution and challenge to my problems. I found out where I was from. I found out my heritage. Please don't judge me. I didn't choose this. I am... a meikai." There were a million gasps in the room. I knew Sasuke, he wasn't the type to like public speaking. He was one of those who liked closed lids. "I'm not one of those meikai that attacked the village. I didn't even know I was a meikai until a few hours ago. But know this. You've all treated me with respect, will that change knowing I'm a meikai? Knowing one change? I've always dedicated myself to the village and my duties. Don't think I'll stop now." Some people were getting out of their seats, others were glaring at him. Finally, one person stood up and said one word. "Traitor!" Sasuke snapped. Not at the crowd or the elders, he ran out the door into the training grounds and started pulverizing the dummies. I ran outside and followed him.

"Sasuke! Stop!" I still didn't like the idea of him being a meikai. But how could ignore him now? I was his Destined, supposed to be at his side. I was at the training grounds, no sight of him. Instead, an angry mob with a bunch of torches. "He's not here, search somewhere else!" I hid from them, and came out when they were away. Where would I go if I were Sasuke? The answer hit me. Away. Sasuke could be running from this place. Back to a place where he was just 'Sasuke', not a newly labeled monster. I ran to any place here connected to him that I knew. I checked the portal, no list of incoming or outcoming activity since we got here. I checked the gardens, nothing. I checked the council room. Sasuke wasn't there. Not in any of those places. Finally, I checked his room. On his bed, there was an envelope that said, 'To my fellow Guardians'. I waited for the meeting to end, and then when the other Guardians came outside, I flagged them over. "Everyone! I-I couldn't find Sasuke! He ran away!" They all looked surprised, and I showed them the envelope. Mei was the one to talk. "Kaeru, do you want to open it? You're his Destined." So I did. There were several papers to different people. "There's a letter for each of us. Mei, Shizuka, Satoshi, and me." I gave each person their letter. We each read our own, and we all ended up crying. Even Satoshi. "Kaeru, Please don't go chasing after me. I love you, and I hope you love me, but after the reaction from everyone else today, I don't think I should be in Heibai. With my leave, the Guardians will still be stable, and the people won't start a rebellion. It's hard being this brand of 'different' and not having the ability to change it at all! Anyway, please remember that I'll always love you. The day I met you, I was supposed to be looking for a replacement for Hio, but I found you, a new Guardian. That instant, I didn't want you to suffer our crushing fate, so I left you and returned when the elders spoke of needing you. I made sure to avoid all contact from Heibai, but then you got that plane ticket from the person claiming to know your 'real' parents. You went on the plane, and I did too. That was the major starting point here, I guess. Thinking back, it seems like I was a fool to try and stop fate. But it was a great purpose to go for. You. Don't think for a second I was a fool. After all, I was just acting like any guy who'd do anything for a girl. The day you became a Guardian, it was very scary for me, however, you showed me something I hadn't seen in a long time. A new Guardian, ready to take on the world. Full of promise, power, and of course, open eyes. Again, don't chase me. I'll be gone. Don't chase me. Carve your own Destiny, and farewell." I finished the letter, and cried. Sorry Sasuke, but I was going to use whatever I had to find you. No matter what it took, I would one day.

-SasukeI sat up and saw something I haven't seen in years. Hio. She saw me, and tried to coax me to her. "Oh, my Sasuke! Can you come over here now? Playtime is over." She was looking towards Kaeru a bit, with a malevolent smile. "Hio! Don't you dare touch her!" "I wouldn't want to. Her presence does disgust me. You, however, light." I remembered her speech. she talked in haiku. Why? I used to be her Destined and I don't even know. But something didn't make sense. Her presence made no sense. Was my act of 'valor' for nothing? I thought I... killed her. "Hio, how did you come back to life? I thought I... you know, stopped you!" this made no sense. My sacrifice was for nothing?

"The dark master helped. Please just understand me, now. I had no choices." 'Dark Master'? Was that the high up in the Renegade meikai the other Sasuke was talking about? "Why are you all here?" "Answer is simple! I was ordered to be here. Ordered to bring you." What would he want with me? Either way, my job was to protect Kaeru until she was strong enough to stand a chance against Hio. "Fat chance, I'm with Kaeru." "Then to force you now, I'll go take her! You'll go then, am I not correct?" Kaeru had a look like she was in an illusion, and I ran towards her. "Kaeru! Don't fall for the illusion!" There was a light. A very warm light, and Kaeru snapped back to reality. She had her zhooyuu and mifuu stones. The training was a success. "Hio-san, leave this place." She was a coward, Hio. She ran when Kaeru said that. This wasn't Hio, only a look alike. "She's scary?" "Trust me, she gets worse." Mei ran up to her and gave her a hug. "Thank goodness you two woke up! Hio can be scary when she wants to! I was here, guarding all of you! When we were suddenly attacked! I don't know about the village, but it was probably attacked as well. I have no idea how they found this place!" Kaeru then narrowed her eyes. "Mei, did you know Sasuke is a meikai?" She didn't. No one did. It was a new find, a poisonous artifact dug up from digging too deep. "Yes. I knew the day he got here. Even before he had been Awakened, he had tremendous energy. Energy on par with a typical meikai's. When we got him checked, the elders told us he was one, we never told him." She knew? Never told me? That explained why the elders totally hated me. They had a reason I couldn't control. "Anyway, we have to go and meet with the elders. Kaeru, since you have your zhooyuu stone and your mifuu stone, you're now an official member of the Guardians." "Who else will be at that meeting?" "Shizuka and Satoshi, and they don't know about Sasuke's heritage. Sasuke, is it okay to tell them?" I nodded. I didn't like it, but everyone needed to know. anyother time would be bad, escpecially if it were during a war. "Well, let's get going!" I got my leg healed, once again, and we dashed down to Heibai. I knew why I got hurt everytime I went there. It wasn't because I was praying wrong or anything, the temple got a negative reaction from me being a meikai. Even it didn't like me. ----On the way down, Mei and I covered the basics for meeting with those bastards. She understood them, and I made my final descision to announce the news at the meeting. "Meikai Art: Time Stop." Time froze. I ran back down the mountain, and wrote letters. I had to say goodbye, the public reaction wouldn't be good from this. "To Satoshi, Sorry I have to go like this, sneaking away. We've been friends since you got to this vilage, and we still will be. You've always given me advice whether it was attack strategy or just girl advice. So here's my advice to you. Don't look for me. You won't get anywhere. Please help protect Kaeru in my place. I know she'll be in capable hands. Also, don't go after me. I need you guys to still look cool and not be tarnished from my being there. It's not fair. Don't go after me, and sorry I can't say more. -Sasuke" "To Shizuka, Sorry you can't be here to see me go. A taunt or tease would be appreciated right about now. I know it was always weird between us, I always went to talk to Satoshi for advice, you'd hear somehow, (maybe it wasn't an idea to invest my secrets in sir looselips) and then tease me for the longest time,

never forgetting a detail to rub in. Anyway, as much as I love the old times and the now times, the times need to end. My secret has ended up tearing the village apart, and I don't want anymore trouble. Don't go searching for me. Really. -Sasuke" "To Mei, Thank you for always caring about me. You were the first to help me on my journey as a Guardian, and always will for anyone else. You're truely something! Always donating your time for other people. So please, keep your time invested in other people. Don't look for me. I know you've had a crush on me for the longest time, but give up on the idea that you'll find me. I know you all well enough to know where you'll look, how you'll look, and what you'll do when you find me. So please, don't. -Sasuke" The hardest letter to write was Kaeru's. It wasn't just because my time for freezing time was running out, it wasn't because my time with her was shorter therefore having less experiences with her, it was because I loved her. You'd think the words would be flowing out, but it was too hard. I wrote the hardest letter I've written, sealed it with all the others in an envelope, and put the envelope on my bed. I rushed up the hill, and started time again, getting ready to prepare for my speech. We were in front of the doors. When they sensed it was us, they opened. When we were inside that cursed room, I saw not just the elders, but the entire village in front of us. Did they know? "The Guardians are all here! I trust the training went well?" Mei was our speaker so she did her job and, well, spoke. "Better than expected. However, we were attacked by meikai midway and were forced to quit." "Thank you for the report. Did Sarutobi cause any problems?" Why me!? He always asked that. Bastard... "No. He cooperated completely like he ALWAYS does. So please stop asking that." Thanks for the defend, Mei, but we both know they won't stop at that. "And what of Ranawa?" Kaeru's not just a last name. "She received her zhooyo and mifuu stones after the training. She was even able to repel one of Hio's look alikes." "Promising, I guess." What did he mean by 'I guess'!? They don't know what we went through! "Satoshi and Shizuka, what the heck have you two been doing?" Since when were they here? Shizuka was their default spokesperson. "We were repelling meikai from the village. Just us. Do you know how freaking hard that is!? There were hundreds!" "Ha! We're just 'geezers'. What do you expect us to do!?" That was it. They're supposed to be 'elders'! Advising us! Guiding us! Really!? Now was the time to make my announcement. I just hope I wouldn't have to use those letters. "Hey, listen up!" The room was silent. "The training was a success. Not just because I regained my powers, or Kaeru can now more accurately use hers, it's because I found out where I came from." They all glared and gasped. Was it because of the suspense... or the news I had just stated? "Yes. I found out that I'm a..." I could avert. I didn't have to say. But something inside me told me that I had to. "Over the past few days, I have learned a lot about myself. Maybe that's the reason I lost my powers, I needed to find a way. I was a jerk to my Destined, and there was something in my head saying that I needed to get an attitude check. I went through the training, and I found the solution and challenge to my problems. I found out where I was from. I found out my heritage. Please don't judge me. I didn't choose this. I am... a meikai." Millions of gasps. This was or wasn't a good response. I still couldn't tell. "I'm

not one of those meikai that attacked the village. I didn't even know I was a meikai until a few hours ago. But know this. You've all treated me with respect, will that change knowing I'm a meikai? Knowing one change? I've always dedicated myself to the village and my duties. Don't think I'll stop now." People were leaving. One guy stood up. "Traitor!" I snapped, but couldn't attack him, or threaten the elders. It would prove that I'm a monster. I ran out of that cursed room, beat things up in the training grounds, then got the bag I had stashed away in case this ever happened. "Sasuke! Stop!" I heard her voice. Sorry, Kaeru. I can't return. It may sound stalkerish, but I followed her. she went everywhere I could have been, but she didn't find me. Finally, she went to my room and found the envelope. She picked it up, and her hand started shaking. It was official. I was still a huge jerk. There was no room for justification. She ran out, and met with everyone outside of the cursed room. "Everyone! I-I couldn't find Sasuke! He ran away!" They all looked surprised, and she showed them the envelope. Mei was in tears. I knew she's always had a crush on me, even though I was her Destined. She didn't even know her Destined. The day he came here, he was whipped away and betrayed us the day of the fall. "Kaeru, do you want to open it? You're his Destined." She did, still with shaking hands. She got the different papers, and handed them to the appropriate people. "There's a letter for each of us. Mei, Shizuka, Satoshi, and me." While reading, they were all in tears. Even Satoshi. Well, he always was really emotional. I remembered the one that took the longest time and hardest though to write. "Kaeru, Please don't go chasing after me. I love you, and I hope you love me, but after the reaction from everyone else today, I don't think I should be in Heibai." I didn't know for sure if she loved me, right? She still seemed on the fence about the last minute we were training. "With my leave, the Guardians will still be stable, and the people won't start a rebellion." If they had any scope of doubt, they could abandon the Guardians. They have forgotten the reason we were here a long time ago. They just know we're important. "It's hard being this brand of 'different' and not having the ability to change it at all!" I was a meikai. I could never change that. Not unless I died and got reborn, but that didn't sound like a good option at the moment. "Anyway, please remember that I'll always love you." I needed to reiterate, or I at least had the feeling to. "The day I met you, I was supposed to be looking for a replacement for Hio, but I found you, a new Guardian." It was true. It started as a mission, but turned into a longing to see you again. "That instant, I didn't want you to suffer our crushing fate, so I left you and returned when the elders spoke of needing you." I couldn't let her know about any part of me. "I made sure to avoid all contact from Heibai, but then you got that plane ticket from the person claiming to know your 'real' parents." It was an excellent idea, of course. Very misleading. I think she forgot all about it. "You went on the plane, and I did too. That was the major starting point here, I guess." the plane was the thing that made the change really official. "Thinking back, it seems like I was a fool to try and stop fate. But it was a great purpose to go for. You. Don't think for a second I was a fool. After all, I was just acting like any guy who'd do anything for a girl." It's what happens, right? "The day you became a Guardian, it was very scary for me, however, you showed me something I hadn't seen in a long time. A new Guardian, ready to take on the world. Full of promise, power, and of course, open eyes. Again, don't chase me. I'll be gone. Don't chase me. Carve your own Destiny, and farewell." I assumed she finished, because she was crying buckets. With that, I used my own power to open a portal. Back to Earth. Back to where I was normal.

-Part Three: Amor Omnia Vincit-Eleven: Search-KaeruIt's been one month since Sasuke left us. We've been trying to cope, I've been training my butt off, got a bit stronger, and moreacrobatic, but there was one serious problem. The other day, three weeks after Sasuke left, we got a messenger from the bad meikai telling us of an impending attack. We knew then and there. If Sasuke wasn't there, we wouldn't be able to win. So, we decided to go to Earth and search for Sasuke. Yeah, he told all of us to stay away, but I couldn't help it. We gathered a list of places he might be, and reviewed. One- The Metropolis. (His father actually is the CEO.) Two- Tokyo, Japan. (He has an apartment there.) Three- My house. (It was a good hiding spot, right?) With these ideas, we didn't just sneak out, we decided to go and tell everyone why we were temporarily abandoning them. "We have called all of you, the citizens of Heibai together for a specific reason. We are going to use our vacation time to go and find Sasuke." there were a dozen gasps. "Don't worry, Mei is going to stay behind to guard you all. But the reason we need to find Sasuke isn't because we need to capture a rogue meikai, we need to go and find our friend. I know what you're thinking, we shouldn't let a demon in our ancient and sacred order, but Sasuke has served this village faithfully for six and a half years! You all treated him well before, why not treat him well now? Because he announced something about himself that can't change!?" I paused, time to stop yelling and time to act on the sentimental level. "When I found out that Sasuke was a meikai, I was shocked. Scared. I didn't know what to think. But when I thought back, I thought that sasuke definately isn't the one to do what those bad meikai do to our village. I know I'm just a newbie here, but I feel as if I've always been here! So please support us in finding Sasuke, for our future, and yours as well." I finished my speech, and we went to leave. Around half the audience wished us luck, the other half still looked inclined to throw tomatoes at us. At least we swayed half the population. We left Mei behind because she was definately capable of defending the village by herself, and she was the princess so she couldn't be on Earth too long. We went to the portal to Earth, said goodbye for now to everybody, and teleported out. ----"So... does anyone know where to go now?" Shizuka had some ideas on what to do. "Maybe you can scan for Sasuke's saineng signature? It's one of those things that's resistent to cloaking, as long as he has his powers. Even if he doesn't have powers and lost them again, there will be a small trace." So that was our only official lead beyond speculation. I concentrated, but didn't find anything. "Nothing." Wait. I felt a small tug. "Wait, there's something!" I ran in the direction of the tug. I kept running. I ran faster. Where was this hunch taking me? I ran out from the parking garage we were in, then out on the crowded streets. I figured it out once I saw the huge Coca Cola display. I was in New York City. Why was I here? Was there a reason? Did that hunch get me out here? I guess so. I needed to ask someone on the street. Fortunately, there seemed to be some nice people passing me.

"Hello, excuse me!" They ignored. "Sorry to bother you, I don't want your money, just some advice!" There were four people. They weren't over six feet tall and the youngest didn't look over four feet five inches tall. She was the first to talk. "What do you want?" "If I were someone who liked old things and good sights, where would I go?" The second kid, who seemed like the older sibling said, "Top of the Rock. Or if you wanted to get into the sciences of stuff, the Natural History Museum. What are you doing, finding some lost love?" She was right. "Ah! Well, that's..." "Good luck!" The family went ahead, leaving me to find out where to go. I decided to go to the top of the rock first. Maybe my 'reception' would be better. "Hey, we're going to the top of the rock!" No response. I looked around. None of my friends were here. No problem, they'd find me, right? I decided to go again. I asked for directions, and someone told me where to go. I guess it was around valentines day since all of the windows had at least red or pink. Valentines day. Wasn't Sasuke supposed to be with me? As a couple? Well, I had to find him first. I was at the top. The top of the rock. I stood on the railing, and focused. I emptied my mind, forgot my surroundings. I forgot everything except my original goal. finding Sasuke. I put all my concentration into finding Sasuke. Just Sasuke. So much concentration, I started falling. I fell off of that building, but felt his saineng so close by. I can't believe it. Was I going to die here? A Guardian, died because of falling from a building? No. I needed to survive for Sasuke's sake. I saw the building, it definately wasn't too far away. "Zhooyuu, dui! kun!" My zhooyuu stone detached from my neck, and turned into it's pure metal form, it coated my hands, and attached itself to the building. That's right. I wasn't something weak to be watching. I had to prove myself to Sasuke. And there was one fool proof way of proving: Not dying. I was stuck on this building, so I found something to stand on, detached my zhooyuu, and then formed it into a sort of hoverboard. I got off of the building, then got some of the stone's substance to coat my feet so I wouldn't fall off. The stone substance supported my weight, and carefully carried me down. What I forgot about is that a newstation is based there and they totally saw me. I was being mobbed. That was one thing I forgot about. But you can't have everything. Life loss vs. mob... I'll take the mob, please. "Who are you? How could you do that?" "Are you an extra terrestrial?" "Are you a super hero?" I got some breathing space and answered simply. "I'm just Kaeru!" I took that opportunity to run. I didn't want to attract more crowds. New York City... quite an interesting place! Of course, the next thing on my to do list was to check the museum, but on my run, I spotted a beautiful park. Knowing Sasuke, he was probably walking around barefoot there, enjoying the untouched nature! I checked there, nothing but happy couples and walking dogs, plus a few runners. I finally looked at the sky. It was getting dark, still no sign of Sasuke. Of course, what was expecting, something from a manga? The lost runaway never returns instantly. The problem with me is that I was short on funds. I couldn't sleep out in the open, that's just asking for trouble. suddenly, I felt really tired. It's not even funny, a minute ago I was wide awake, but now, I couldn't keep my eyes open. I fell onto the ground, surrounded by cherry blossom petals, fast asleep. ----I was in complete blackness. A dream? A voice called out. "There's a way to find him, you know." That voice sounded eerily familiar. Suddenly, a figure popped out of nowhere. "Hello, Kaeru! It's me, Hio, remember? I was the one who attacked you and Sasuke a month ago!" No duh. "What do you want?"

"I want to help you find him! I used to be his Destined. We have something in common... let's help each other." She extended her hand. What would Sasuke do in this situation? I had no idea. All I knew was that he didn't respond to her well last time he saw her, so that meant I had to... "I have to reject your offer." "Why." "I need to find Sasuke by myself. It's... a test." "I see. Well I guess I'll see you some other time, Kaeru Ranawa." She snapped her fingers, but I couldn't wake up. Next thing I knew, I was on a battlefield. Unarmed. Just me. Let me tell you this, I had no chance of survival. But no matter what, I had to win and find Sasuke.

-SasukeI left for New York City. A place of culture, crowds, and people who've seen everything. I could fit in here very well. I managed to push Heibai and my being a Guardian out of my mind, but Kaeru still wouldn't leave it. I was still used to be treated like a total idol. A bunch of girls coming up to you at the mall asking for your phone number doesn't count as idol, by the way. It's just plain annoying. One thing was for sure, I needed to find a job. Surviving a normal life meant working, and not the fighting. It was harder than I thought, however. There weren't any openings for jobs, and when there were openings, I didn't have the qualifications to apply. Here's the disadvantages about being a super hero in another dimension: One- You don't get a full education. Two- You can't give an excuse for that lack of education. "I was a super hero in an aleternate dimension!" People are going to think you're a high school drop out on drugs. Three- Your only skills are not useful for the 'real world'. Four- People seem to all be skeptics. Five- The only people who would believe me are the people I ran away from. The only other option I had was to go to my dad, the guy who runs The Metropolis, but that isn't in the spirit of independence. I decided to keep looking. I had enough money to last me about a month, but that was just food. At night, I used my zhooyuu stone to go to the top of a comfortable looking building and stayed there for awhile. In terms of bathing, I could just jump into a pond, and then coat myself with the zhooyuu stone's substance, therefore removing any dirt and grit, and since I had complete control over it, I could instantly remove any signs of dirt from myself. Brushing teeth? I just got myself some toothpaste and a toothbrush and just went to a public restroom to do that. It wasn't the best, but I had to survive. After a month of this wrince wash repeat stuff, I was finally out of money. Well, I had a small job selling cosmetics, but I absolutely hated it and barely made any money off of it. One day, I was walking around, looking for someone who needed makeup, when I sensed a burst of saineng. I dropped my case of stuff to be sold and ran towards it. I knew it. Kaeru, Shizuka, and Satoshi were here. No one really looked different, except Kaeru. She looked like a real Guardian now, not some human we'd just found, not some bottom of the barrel meikai, but a real Guardian. I almost ran up to hug her, but resisted. I was surprised, they didn't go trying to chase me for a month, new record. "So... does anyone know where to go now?" Kaeru still seemed to not know a lot, so Shizuka assisted her. (Satoshi didn't talk a lot anyway.) "Maybe you can scan for Sasuke's saineng signature? It's one of those things that's resistent to cloaking, as long as he has his powers. Even if he doesn't have powers and lost them again, there will be a small trace." Uh oh. I sped away, hoping that she wouldn't sense me. "Nothing." Good. I could still hear her, and she didn't know where I was. "Wait, there's something!" She ran in my direction, I kept running. She was running away from everyone, her speed was truely

amazing. Me? more impressive. She stopped running, then saw a family and asked them some questions. "Hello, excuse me!" They ignored. "Sorry to bother you, I don't want your money, just some advice!" The youngest of the four began to talk. "What do you want?" "If I were someone who liked old things and good sights, where would I go?" the older sibling, the one with the map, answered in a somewhat monotonistic voice. Seemed like they went here often. "Top of the Rock. Or if you wanted to get into the sciences of stuff, the Natural History Museum. What are you doing, finding some lost love?" Kaeru started blushing like crazy. "Ah! Well, that's..." "Good luck!" The family went ahead, and Kaeru looked towards the Top of the Rock. She then yelled out. "Hey, we're going to the top of the rock!" and looked around. she found out she was all alone. Well, technically she wasn't. I was with her, but she didn't know it. I decided to get there first, so I ran more. Today was a great day for exercise! ----I was on the observation deck, taking in the wonderful sights of the city. But then, the next batch of people came up. This one Kaeru was in. and yes, I paid my last few $21 for this ticket. I saw Kaeru get out of the elevator, and I hid when no one was looking. Kaeru meant business. She went straight ahead, stood on the rail, and concentrated for my saineng. But something was wrong. "What's she doing?" "Security! a girl's going to fall!" "Miss! Get off of there!" It was no use. She couldn't hear anyone. when she opened her eyes, she was already in the air. This moment felt slow motion. I ran, and jumped to save her. She suddenly used her zhooyuu stone to go and grab the building, then sat on the ledge. She then formed the zhooyuu material into something she could easily glide on, and then she caried herself to safety. Me? I teleported away. She wasn't someone I had to worry about anymore. The funny thing? If she wanted to find me, she could just jump off, not make an effort to save herself, and I could just swoop to her rescue. The media was swarming her, and that was something not even I could help her with! I decided to go to the park. I didn't feel like a roof for shut eye, today was good for a park. ----She was close. I sensed it. In this park, there were three Guardians. Me, Kaeru, and Hio. Or at least, I sensed Hio's saineng. It could be a look alike, or Hio. I went to the source of it, fully ready for a fight, but I only saw Kaeru knocked out. I put my hand to her forehead, she didn't have a fever or anything, so that was ruled out from a list of causes of feinting. Insted, there was a large concentration of saineng, saineng which was from Hio. I had to help Kaeru, but from today, I could see she was perfectly capable of handling herself. I went away from there, and made sure I wasn't being followed. Not too hard, I was named after a ninja, right? "Sasuke, how've you been?" I knew that voice. "Shizuka! How did you find me!?" "Easy. We just stalked you staking Kaeru. It gave her a heart attack, but we found you!" "so I'll bet you're going to drag me along with you, huh?" "Nah, that's what Kaeru's for." We waited, but it was clear she wouldn't wake up soon. "What's wrong with her?"

"I don't know, but Hio contacted us through a messenger the other day. She warned us about an attack. That's why we got you. Or, that's what instigated us to get you. We can't fight this alone, we need all of us that can fight." "What if there isn't an attack?" "Doesn't matter, we can't risk it." I felt Kaeru's forehead again. It was hot. She was tossing and turning, must be a nightmare. "Damn, she's been trapped in a dream that Hio changed." That was bad. "You know, there's only one way to rescue people from those." I knew, alright. I had to go in the dream. "I'll do it." I found a hill, propped Kaeru up next to it, and sat against it myself. "Kun, xun, yang!" Shizuka touched both me and Kaeru on the forehead. I was plunged into the dream.

-Twelve: Gates1-KaeruThe battlefield was intense, but suddenly, everything stopped. I saw a light ahead, and I ran towards it. This saineng was so... familiar. "Kaeru, what's happening? Fill me in." Sasuke!? "S-Sasuke!? Where did you come from!?" "Hio trapped you in your dream. I was sent to rescue you." "How do you do that?" "Hio needs to be somewhere in here, it's the only way she can control it still. We just need to find her." I hugged him. Yeah, I just did it. "Sasuke... please don't leave us again. It wasn't fun." He hugged me back. "I won't, Kaeru. I promise." "The villagers, we made a speech to defend you. Most of them get it now. You can come back." "Thanks, Kaeru. When we're done with this, I will." We broke the hug. "I remember Hio's chakra signature. She used to be my Destined, or at least, we thought she was." "What happened?" "The Fall." He paused. "If we continue, Kaeru, I need to tell you something important. It's the Legend of the Fall." "Legend of the Fall?" "A few years ago, when you were nine and a half and I was just turning ten, the Treasures were unbalanced. The Treasures are the things that give Guardians their power. Basically, they were unbalanced. To balance them, the leader of the renegade meikai temporarily took control of them and converted some of the Guardians. They couldn't just take any Guardian, only the ones wekaer in heart and self confidence. Unfortunately, that was two right there, Hio and Shuai. Shuai escaped, but Hio stayed to attack us. She's the strongest illusionist we've ever known, and if I hadn't defeated her in that battle, we would've lost for sure. I froze her, then used a forgotten art that sealed her saineng in different places, which virtually killed her. after that, I was recognized as a hero to the village, but it still doesn't feel right. I killed her, not directly, but I did. That feeling, the one where you know you killed your Destined, even though she wasn't really my Destined, a total curse." "Sasuke... I'm so sorry." I gave him another hug. then I heard... crying? "Kaeru, again, I promise never to leave you. Please promise me you'll always have faith in yourself so I won't have to do that." Most people think that guys who cry are wimps. This guy? Least wimpy guy I know. "I promise." We both stood up. "So how do we find Hio, anyway?" "We have to pass through the Seven Gates. No matter where she is and who she's bothering, this is a standard for her." "Seven Gates?" "Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Each Gate is one of the seven deadly sins." "where would this be?" He pointed towards a forest. "She likes hiding things around forests. We can start there." We started walking. Sasuke was telling me about Hio's illusions. Soon, we were at the Gates. "Watch out. This is where the danger is." He pushed open the doors that had on them, 'Lust'. When the doors were opened, nothing looked different. "I guess we just continue." As we continued in, more and more cherry blossom trees popped up. The more trees, the more thoughts entered my head. "You miss Sasuke, right?" I did. "You're pretty lucky, got him as a partner." How is it luck?

"You two are alone in these woods." Pointing out the obvious, huh? "Just think about what you could do together." Walk around? "you and Sasuke..." are a cute couple! After that, the voices stopped. I looked at Sasuke. He was busy shaking his head and blushing a bit. Geez, I don't know what those voices were saying to him. "Sasuke, are you okay?" He looked at me blankly for a second. "Oh, yeah. Kaeru, are you hearing things in your head?" "Yeah, but they're not bad." "Well... what're they saying?" "Nothing much. I guess the worst it got was when it pointed out we were alone, then asked what we could do beacuse of that." He was staring at me like I was crazy. "What? We're just walking, right? Nothing bad!" He then sighed, and hugged me. "This is why I'm in love with you." Suddenly, a new door appeared. 'Gluttony'. "Ready, Kaeru?" I nodded. He pushed the door open. Inside waiting for us was... a world of sweets! No, not really. It was a small stack of candies scattered around. But if you looked closer, there was much more than that. In fact, further down the path, there was more food. Farther away from the path, even more. "Don't go away from the path. Stay on it. both of us, we'll make sure we stay on the path." "It's a promise." We went in. It seemed that the contents of our stomachs were left at the door. Pretty appropriate, huh? There were donuts. Cakes. Gum. Anything sweet you could possibly crave. As well as things that were personal. Mac and cheese. pasta. stuffing. ramen. It was all too tempting. I looked at Sasuke. He looked like he was almost drooling, and who knew what big steak he was looking at. It was time to distract both of us from the food. "Hey, Sasuke, how're you?" "Hungr-" "Good! I was wondering, what's your opinion on... the auto industry?" "Uh... good, I guess." "then what about education?" "Uh... I don't really have much of one." "Do you like talking to people?" "As long as they don't antagonize me." "Do you like me?" "I love you! Didn't I announce that before?" "Yeah..." We started to get into an arguement over who likes who more. It eventually got our minds off all of the hunger and the food. So much, another gate appeared in front of us. 'Greed'. "Ready?" He nodded. I opened the door. First thing we noticed, there was so much gold. Second thing we noticed, it wasn't just money. Sasuke had that power hungry determined look in his eyes. Me? I focused on the path, trying to distract Sasuke. It didn't work as well. His lingering feelings of wanting to protect me started up again. Just when I thought they were finished. "Sasuke, we need to stay on the path!" "no! There are many dangers beyond the next door, and I need to protect you!" "I don't need it!" "Kaeru, you do!" "SASUKE! STOP IT!" He stood there. "What?" "Sasuke, I didn't need saving when I got off that building. I don't need saving now." "Kaeru, you have no idea how strong Hio is." "Yes, I do! She has me trapped in my own dream right now! That's pretty strong!" "This is only the beginning."

"Sasuke. Stop. If you leave... I'll go on. If I go on, you'll be behind. If you're behind, you may not be able to find me. If you're not able to find me, you can't protect me. If you can't protect me, we both know what'll happen." He stopped and thought. He knew I was right. "fine. I'm convinced. Kaeru, let's keep going." We kept walking. The next door didn't happen instantly, Sasuke was still thinking. After awhile, though, the door finally revealed itself. It called irself, 'Sloth'. I opened the door. The inside was like the nothers, progressively geared towards its subject. There were cushy looking bushes. I mean, beanbag looking bushes. You could just sink into them! But... that would be falling for it. Despite my usual laziness, I couldn't fall to the temptation... "KAERU!" I stopped. I hadn't noticed how far I had strayed. "Get back here!" I did as told. "Sorry, Sasuke." "It's fine. Let's just keep going." Suddenly, where I was just standing, an awkward looking deear appeared out of nowhere! I know what you're thinking, 'How can a deer look awkward?' Well trust me. This one could. It was actually pretty amazing how indescribably awkward it was. "Sasuke?" "Yeah?" "Can we leave? Now?" That deer was staring at me. The awkward was growing. Yeah, pretty impossible. I guess due to the awkward, the next door appeared before us. 'Wrath'. Time to keep going.

-SasukeI saw Kaeru in the battlefield in her dreams. She was beat up badly, her uniform torn some places, bleeding. How did this happen? First thing first. "Ancient Art, Dream Disrupt." I had to make those warriors dissappear. "Kaeru, what's happening? Fill me in." She snapped her head in my direction. "S-Sasuke!? Where did you come from!?" "Hio trapped you in your dream. I was sent to rescue you." "How do you do that?" "Hio needs to be somewhere in here, it's the only way she can control it still. We just need to find her." She hugged me. It was a nice feeling, after being away from her. "Sasuke... please don't leave us again. It wasn't fun." I had to hug her back. That hug made me realize the biggest mistake in my life was leaving the Guardians. "I won't, Kaeru. I promise." "The villagers, we made a speech to defend you. Most of them get it now. You can come back." "Thanks, Kaeru. When we're done with this, I will." I broke the hug. It was now time to use the time I spent with Hio to use. "I remember Hio's chakra signature. She used to be my Destined, or at least, we thought she was." "What happened?" "The Fall." If we went on with this, there needed to be no scope for doubt. Kaeru needed to know why I was so involved in this. "If we continue, Kaeru, I need to tell you something important. It's the Legend of the Fall." "Legend of the Fall?" "A few years ago, when you were nine and a half and I was just turning ten, the Treasures were unbalanced. The Treasures are the things that give Guardians their power. Basically, they were unbalanced. To balance them, the leader of the renegade meikai temporarily took control of them and converted some of the Guardians." This guy was the reason I have a bad name. "They couldn't just take any Guardian, only the ones wekaer in heart and self confidence. Unfortunately, that was two right there, Hio and Shuai. Shuai escaped, but Hio stayed to attack us. She's the strongest illusionist we've ever known, and if I hadn't defeated her in that battle, we would've lost for sure. I froze her, then used a forgotten art that sealed her saineng in different places, which virtually killed her. after that, I was

recognized as a hero to the village, but it still doesn't feel right. I killed her, not directly, but I did. That feeling, the one where you know you killed your Destined, even though she wasn't really my Destined, a total curse." Hero worship, it wasn't good. It was compliments for gaining a curse. "Sasuke... I'm so sorry." I gave him another hug. then I heard... crying? "Kaeru, again, I promise never to leave you. Please promise me you'll always have faith in yourself so I won't have to do that." I really couldn't go through that again. If I had to do that to Kaeru, what would happen? "I promise." We both stood up. "So how do we find Hio, anyway?" "We have to pass through the Seven Gates. No matter where she is and who she's bothering, this is a standard for her." She always made people go through here because she could have the most fun with her illusions. "Seven Gates?" "Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Each Gate is one of the seven deadly sins." "where would this be?" She loved forests for some reason. Maybe because she was a fire aligned, maybe the woods made her stronger. "She likes hiding things around forests. We can start there." We started walking. Soon, we were at the Gates. "Watch out. This is where the danger is." I pushed open the doors, 'Lust'. When the doors were opened, nothing looked different. "I guess we just continue." As we continued in, more and more cherry blossom trees popped up. The more trees, the more thoughts entered my head. Bad thoughts. Awkward thoughts. Thoughts I was supposed to be thinking in two years thoughts. "You regret that descision you made." I did. "You wanna make it up to her, right?" Of course. "You know how to. You know you can." That voice wasn't implying what I thought, right? "Just think about what you could do together." Uh... yeah. We could see a movie. "Check out Kaeru, she's definately worked out those few pounds she barely had from the training." She really did. the voices continued at more explicit levels. Kaeru finally tapped me and I snapped out of it. "Sasuke, are you okay?" "Oh, yeah. Kaeru, are you hearing things in your head?" "Yeah, but they're not bad." "Well... what're they saying?" "Nothing much. I guess the worst it got was when it pointed out we were alone, then asked what we could do beacuse of that." Was she so incredibly innocent thatshe didn't know what had just happened? "What? We're just walking, right? Nothing bad!" I sighed, and hugged her. another reason why I loved her. Always full of surprises. "This is why I'm in love with you." Suddenly, a new door appeared. 'Gluttony'. "Ready, Kaeru?" She nodded. I pushed the door open. Beyond that door was a small stack of candies scattered around. Eventually, there were more candies. In fact, further down the path, there was more food. Farther away from the path, even more. "Don't go away from the path. Stay on it. both of us, we'll make sure we stay on the path." "It's a promise." We went in. It seemed that the contents of our stomachs were left at the door. Pretty appropriate, huh? There were donuts. Cakes. Gum. Lots of yummies. Stuff you liked personally was also there. Dumplings, sushi, wonton soup, hot and spicy soup, rice, rice, more rice, and rice. Kaeru suddenly started talking. "Hey, Sasuke, how're you?" "Hungr-" "Good! I was wondering, what's your opinion on... the auto industry?" "Uh... good, I guess." "then what about education?"

"Uh... I don't really have much of one." "Do you like talking to people?" "As long as they don't antagonize me." "Do you like me?" "I love you! Didn't I announce that before?" "Yeah..." We started to get into an arguement over who likes who more. Suddenly, another gate appeared in front of us. 'Greed'. We had been talking so much that our minds got off of the food. "Ready?" I nodded. She opened the door. First thing we noticed, there was so much gold. Second thing we noticed, it wasn't just money. I just had a thougt. The closer we got in, the closer a fight between us and Hio would happen. I needed to go off and prectice, my skills were a bit... rusty. "Sasuke, we need to stay on the path!" I couldn't. Training was strictly private. "no! There are many dangers beyond the next door, and I need to protect you!" "I don't need it!" "Kaeru, you do!" "SASUKE! STOP IT!" I stood there. "What?" "Sasuke, I didn't need saving when I got off that building. I don't need saving now." that was one thing, and it was just falling off a building. Hio was so much worse. "Kaeru, you have no idea how strong Hio is." "Yes, I do! She has me trapped in my own dream right now! That's pretty strong!" "This is only the beginning." "Sasuke. Stop. If you leave... I'll go on. If I go on, you'll be behind. If you're behind, you may not be able to find me. If you're not able to find me, you can't protect me. If you can't protect me, we both know what'll happen." That was long, very sequenced, and deep. She was right, but there was still a daunting feeling. "fine. I'm convinced. Kaeru, let's keep going." We kept walking. The feeling kept at me, but I eventually convinced myself to stop thinking about it. Soon, the door finally revealed itself. It called irself, 'Sloth'. Kaeru opened the door. For some reason, There were cushy looking bushes. I was never the lazy type, but just sitting would be a good idea. However, I still didn't want to. When I stopped thinking about it, I noticed Kaeru was walking towards one of the bushes. "KAERU!" She stopped and looked back. She was far from the path. "Get back here!" She did. "Sorry, Sasuke." "It's fine. Let's just keep going." To distract her, I created an illusion of an awkward looking deer. Don't ask, just think of the most awkward thing ever and put it into a deer. "Sasuke?" "Yeah?" "Can we leave? Now?" The awkward deer worked, and the next door appeared before us. 'Wrath'. Time to keep going.

-Thirteen: Gates2-KaeruWe entered this next door, but instead of getting to a new area instantly, we were suspended in dark space temporarily. "So... you two think you can pass through my Gates easily, huh?" It was Hio. "The next Gates won't be so easy. Just you wait!" The dark space ended, it was just Sasuke and I standing. but we weren't in the woods anymore. The dream had moved to Heibai. "Sasuke, is this real?" "No. But Hio is hiding the path. Looks like we'll have to find it." "Maybe it's where the most wrath is." We both looked at each other and instantly knew. "The elders!" We made our way down there, and when we opened the doors, they were waiting for us. Standing in front of a gold door, they didn't wait to attack. "You stupid kids! Letting a meikai loose in our village, unexcusable!" This was bad. Sasuke hated these people already, so the effect this place had was going to make him lose it more than usual. What to do... other than help him? His wrath was more individual, so if I assisted, it would stop faster. "You bastards dare insult me more!?" He drew his katana, and got ready to attack. I drew the daggar from it's holder on my right theigh. "Sasuke, don't have all of the fun. I'll join in." I threw the daggar, ran to meet it, but at the same time, I froze the elders and put Sasuke into an illusion. Yes, he and I were taking them out in that illusion, but at the same time, he was losing interest. In 'reality', I was busy knocking them out, so that his illusion looked like reality. When the illusion was finished, he stood up straight and firmly said, "Let's go." I retrieved my daggar, and followed him into the door. In that time, I also analyzed the outcome of the illusion. It was surprising. Sasuke didn't kill or hurt them, he just stunned and lectured them. Funny, right? The next door was 'Envy'. We were back in school. "Sasuke! Can you come with us?" It was a swarm of guys, definately angry at Sasuke. They carried him away, I ran to save him, but then some girls came up to me. "Hey, where're you going? Trying to get to that guy? Well, let me tell you somethin'..." I tried to go for Sasuke, but the swarms wouldn't let us meet. "He's out of your league. Do you know how much pain you caused him?" Pain? Sasuke? Me the cause? "Think about it. He couldn't woo you enough to get you to stay away from the Guardians. He lost. you know how stubborn he is, yet you still think that wasn't a bother to him?" She said that he didn't care about that anymore. I couldn't lose self confidence, Hio would be able to capture my saineng ability, and we'd lose. "Also, he ran away. You weren't so good for him, he ran away. You couldn't satisfy his needs, so he ran away." He didn't run away because of that. Sasuke wasn't that selfish. "He ran away because you couldn't accept that he was one of those demons. You know it, you don't want to admit it. Just think. He ran away because he was tired of you." "Shut... up..." "Excuse me?" "Sasuke didn't run away because of me." "He doesn't need you. We're all better for him." "No, you're not!" "Use your zhooyuu stone. Wipe us all out." "I can't you're all citizens!" "So? You're a coward." "I'm NOT!" They all dissappeared. I ran to Sasuke, into the crowd. Big mistake. The swarm was trying to convince Sasuke that I wasn't for him. Even though Sasuke was very stubborn, there was one thing in particular he wasn't sure about. Me.

"Come on, she doesn't love you!" "Of course she does!" "She only pities you! Doesn't want you to feel rejected after all the foolish things you did for her!" "No, she really loves me!" "Hehe, how do you know? She might just be tricking you." "She would never." "Girls do things to get their way, you know." "Kaeru's not like that." He put on a strong face, but I knew he was slipping, slowly. It was time to end this. "STOP! Sasuke's not that easy to trick!" They all looked at me, and Sasuke saw me. "Sasuke, my boyfriend, knows he must be worthy to date the Guardian of Lakes and Swamps. So me just being around him is an honor!" Conceited? Yes. But it was to boost his confidence. "Of course. He has to be around you because you're his partner." "That means nothing. The fact that I acknowledge him as someone I love... that's what matters." The people dissappeared. Sasuke and I hugged each other again. "You mean it?" "Of course." The last door appeared. 'Pride'. This would be the final challenge before Hio. But unfortunately, we were both pretty prideful. "Kaeru, be careful here." "You too." We stepped inside, and were in a newsroom. "So, you both are pretty amazing!" What were they talking about? "Jumping off that building, and rescuing yourselves! How did you do that? It was incredible! Not to mention you're both an adorable couple." The mic was passed to me. "We just... did it." The mic was passed to Sasuke. "We are an amazing couple, huh?" The mic was passed to the woman. "I just want to know, how do you do it!? You both must be very popular in school!" The mic was passed to me. "Well, I'm not, but you're right. I really should be." The mic was passed to Sasuke. "Heh, If I were in school, I'd totally be the popular one." The mic was passed to the reporter. This continued for awhile, until the subject of our fighting nature came up and Sasuke was reminded of the trouble he's had because of it. "We're done." Why? "This is an attempt to stall us. I won't lose my way!" He grabbed me from the conceitfest, and we went through the door to the next challenge. Before we could, though, something tragic happened.

-SasukeWe entered the next door, but Hio had invited us to her special chambers in Kaeru's dream for a quick 'pep talk'. "So... you two think you can pass through my Gates easily, huh?" I knew it. "The next Gates won't be so easy. Just you wait!" The invitation was cancelled, and we were in Heibai, facing off with 'wrath'. "Sasuke, is this real?" "No. But Hio is hiding the path. Looks like we'll have to find it." Putting this in the real world would have more of an effect on us, and she knew it. "Maybe it's where the most wrath is." We both looked at each other and instantly knew. "The elders!" We got to their room. They didn't waste any time and attacked us. "You stupid kids! Letting a meikai loose in our village, unexcusable!" I don't care if this 'wrath' was affecting me. I needed to punch it into them that I was the boss here. "You bastards dare insult me more!?" I drew my katana and got ready to fight.

"Sasuke, don't have all of the fun. I'll join in." Kaeru threw her daggar, and then the fight began. We both lost ourselves to 'wrath', but as the fight dragged on, I just felt like knocking them out. So I did. "Let's go." Kaeru got her daggar, and we went to the next room. The next door was 'Envy'. We were back in school. "Sasuke! Can you come with us?" It was a swarm of guys, angry at me for some reason. When Kaeru tried to save me, she was swarmed by girls. "You think you're good enough for Kaeru?" Of course I did! "She's too innocent." So? "Think about it, wouldn't we be better for her?" No! "She could have a normal life. A non-Guardian life." That was my aim, but not Kaeru with another guy! "Think about it. You can't be with her and accomplish your goal." I couldn't. "She's too good for you." "I'm NOT!" I heard Kaeru's voice, all of the crowd around her vanished, then she came running to me. This life she had right now... she had it because she loved me. "Come on, she doesn't love you!" "Of course she does!" "She only pities you! Doesn't want you to feel rejected after all the foolish things you did for her!" "No, she really loves me!" "Hehe, how do you know? She might just be tricking you." "She would never." "Girls do things to get their way, you know." "Kaeru's not like that." They were winning, I knew it. "STOP! Sasuke's not that easy to trick!" They looked at Kaeru. I did too. "Sasuke, my boyfriend," Wow. I'm her boyfriend? "knows he must be worthy to date the Guardian of Lakes and Swamps. So me just being around him is an honor!" Heh, her pride here was true. "Of course. He has to be around you because you're his partner." "That means nothing. The fact that I acknowledge him as someone I love... that's what matters." Kaeru has exclusive tastes. I was included. "You mean it?" "Of course." The last door, 'Pride' appeared. Maybe not so good, we were both pretty prideful. "Kaeru, be careful here." "You too." We stepped inside, and were in a newsroom. "So, you both are pretty amazing!" Of course. What way to boost pride than in an interview? "Jumping off that building, and rescuing yourselves! How did you do that? It was incredible! Not to mention you're both an adorable couple." The mic was passed to Kaeru. "We just... did it." The mic was passed to me. "We are an amazing couple, huh?" The mic was passed to the woman. "I just want to know, how do you do it!? You both must be very popular in school!" The mic was passed to Kaeru. "Well, I'm not, but you're right. I really should be." The mic was passed to me. "Heh, If I were in school, I'd totally be the popular one." The mic was passed to the reporter. This kept going on... until they mentioned the source of our power. My meikai power. "We're done." I remembered our mission. "This is an attempt to stall us. I won't lose my way!" I grabbed Kaeru, and we ran out of there waiting for the next door to appear. Before we did, something horrible happened.

-Fourteen: Trance-KaeruSuddenly, my world went black. My breath was knocked out of me, I was falling. "It's rude to get out of an interview, Kaeru." Hio. "What do you have against me!?" "You're with my man." "No, he's mine." "You don't know half the things I do about him." "That's why we're going to have a date when things calm down." "In your next life." "Why are you doing this?" "Because... I need to get him back!" "He's not your Destined." "Then who is!?" "I don't know, but if you give some people a chance, maybe they'll turn out to be awesome!" "I'm a GUARDIAN! I have a Destined One!" "Well, you'll never know if you reject everyone!" Conversation paused. I could see her, sitting on a throne. "What did you do when Sasuke told you he was a meikai?" "I was in disbelief at first. Maybe I shunned him. But I'm going to accept it, he's just one guy, and the meikai I met before weren't mean." "I see. Maybe you are for Sasuke." "You're giving up, just like that!?" "You're weird. I give you a chance to get back with your man and you just sort of reject it?" "No, I'm saying you shouldn't give up easily! Why are you on that side, anyway?" "Sasuke went berserk. It wasn't safe." "He attacked you because you attacked the village." "What!? Me, attack the village!? I would never do such a thing!" Sasuke said she was a master illusionist. I couldn't believe a word she said. "You know, you could come back to the village." "No one would believe me. I killed every ounce of trust they had in me." "I think Sasuke still has some faith in you. Besides, I'll be there to defend you!" "So? What could you do? You're the new one, they'll have you under the most scrutiny." "I'll manage somehow! I always do." "Maybe. I'll see Sasuke's reaction." With that, she snapped her fingers and I returned to the place I was before with Sasuke. I was on the floor, bleeding. There was an immense pain in my chest. Also... Sasuke was doing mouth to mouth! "Oh! Kaeru! Are you okay!?" He was blushing. "Y-yeah. What happened?" "When we were running, someone in the studio shot you. They just missed you heart." "I was hurt in a dream?" "We need to hurry, it'll get worse." "Sasuke..." "I can't forgive Hio. Her scheme here almost got you killed." "Why not forgive her? Can't you see she's like a child? Just wanting attention?" I needed to make an effort to bring peace here.

"What do you mean? Are you defending her?" "I don't think that person was in control. I think she helped keep me alive." "I still don't get it." "Sasuke, I think Hio misses whatever good times she had with you guys. That's why she helped me. She still wants to be with everyone." "I never truely got her. She was always with a metaphorical mask. No one got her. No one." "Can we help her? You'd get it, you've gotten the villager's wrath. You could help her." He thought about it for awhile. "I will." With that, the next door opened up. 'Hio'. We both pushed it open. Instead of just Hio, there was someone else. A guy in exquisite robes, holding a knife to her chest. "Shuai! What are you doing to Hio!?" The guy smiled. "I just heard of the talk she and Kaeru had. She's a traitor. Traitors deserve nothing but death." He made a move to cut her, but she said her last words. "Sasuke, I'm happy to see you. In the end." Sasuke then ran up to them, but Shuai then supersped to me, and held the knife at my chest. "I just thought of something better to kill. Your Destined." I was a hostage. I didn't want to be. I couldn't be helpless. He made a motion to stab me, but I moved slightly so that where the knife stabbed wasn't vital. Don't get me wrong, it hurt like heck. But I couldn't be a hostage. After he stabbed me, I ran my pure saineng into it, something that definately wasn't healthy. "What the hell!? What are you trying to do!?" He was paralyzed, with a mix of two saineng. I carefully took out the knife, and then Hio healed me. "I'm trying to be the best Guardian I can be!" Sasuke then returned from his comforting of Hio. "Dude, you've fallen a lot since I've last seen. Are you really so much weaker?" He turned to Hio. "Hio, please get Kaeru out of here." He trusted her. In a second, we were out of my dream, in the park. Hio was there, too, as well as Shizuka and Satoshi. Of course, Shizuka was the first to talk. "Hey, Hio, what're you doing here?" She hid behind me. I guess I had to talk. "She wants to be one of us again." "that's tricky." "She knows that, but she wants to still help any way she can." "The Guardians have been the subject of a bunch of rumors lately. Can you handle it?" she nodded. "Good. then I guess we just need to wait for Sasuke." This would be a good opportunity for me to ask Hio some things. "So... Hio... what was Sasuke like before I got here? How did you meet? As a Guardian, who are you?" She seemed nervous being under this heavy interrogation, but eventually started talking. "I'll be completely honest with you, Kaeru-san. Sasuke used to be full of emotion, but when I attacked the village, and my consious was still intact before being summoned, I saw that he was being treated as the hero of the village. I guess he was, but not in a way he ever wanted. To be honest, I knew we weren't Destined, but Sasuke seemed to think so, so I went with it. It was fun, I mean, it was like being friends. Sasuke's not one of those perverted idiots, so the most we did was hug. I was fine with that, and I bet you are, too." Pfft, heck yeah I was. "I met him when I Awakened. He was the first Guardian to Awaken after Mei, so he saw all of us Awaken. As a Guardian, I'm the Guardian of fire. I'm an illusion master, too. My illusions come from the smoke of the fire." Hio finished explaining herself, and then Sasuke woke up. "Oh, and the attack won't happen for another few months. At least, that's the latest news since I left." Sasuke got up and got ready to leave. "Sasuke, ready to go so soon?" "Yup. I wanna go back to Heibai." With that, Sasuke, Hio, Shizuka, Satoshi and I opened up the portal to Heibai, and stepped inside.

-Sasuke-

I heard a gunshot. Then I saw Kaeru fall. The person who hit her, hit and ran. This was weird. Hio usually didn't hurt people. Did the renegade meikai twist her that much? Kaeru was still breathing, but I still didn't feel easy. One thing left to do, mouth to mouth. I did this for two minutes, until she woke up. "Oh! Kaeru! Are you okay!?" She was blushing. "Y-yeah. What happened?" "When we were running, someone in the studio shot you. They just missed you heart." "I was hurt in a dream?" Bad sign. "We need to hurry, it'll get worse." "Sasuke..." "I can't forgive Hio. Her scheme here almost got you killed." She frowned. Why? "Why not forgive her? Can't you see she's like a child? Just wanting attention?" She talked to Hio, and Hio somehow revived her. "What do you mean? Are you defending her?" "I don't think that person was in control. I think she helped keep me alive." "I still don't get it." "Sasuke, I think Hio misses whatever good times she had with you guys. That's why she helped me. She still wants to be with everyone." She was one of the most confusing people I've ever known. "I never truely got her. She was always with a metaphorical mask. No one got her. No one." "Can we help her? You'd get it, you've gotten the villager's wrath. You could help her." The villagers were pretty annoying sometimes. "I will." With that, the next door opened up. 'Hio'. We both pushed it open. Inside, was two faces I haven't seen for some time. It was Shuai, holding a knife to Hio's chest. "Shuai! What are you doing to Hio!?" The sicko smiled. "I just heard of the talk she and Kaeru had. She's a traitor. Traitors deserve nothing but death." That was Shuai. The Guardian who stood for the element He motioned to cut her, and Hio said last words. "Sasuke, I'm happy to see you. In the end." I ran up to hio, hoping to save her, but then Shuai ran to Kaeru, putting her in the same hostage position as Hio. "I just thought of something better to kill. Your Destined." I knew it. I still needed to protect Kaeru. But... it was too late. He stabbed her. Wait... I spoke too soon. When he stabbed her, Kaeru moved so that it wasn't at a vital point. She was more amazing than before. She even ran her saineng and ran it through the blade. Where did she learn that? "What the hell!? What are you trying to do!?" His pride was worse than before. He was paralyzed with the conflict of both saineng mixed, then Hio healed Kaeru. "I'm trying to be the best Guardian I can !" I then went back to Shuai. "Dude, you've fallen a lot since I've last seen. Are you really so much weaker?" I turned to Hio. "Hio, please get Kaeru out of here." In a second, she and Kaeru were out, and the dream became unstable. "What do you want?" "I want to know what you did to my memories. Kaeru's memories. Everyone's." "Ha! You knew? Well, I can't tell you a thing. Besides, 'Captain', last thing I remember is you betraying us." "You wish I was with you." "All I can tell you is that we have them locked up. We're probing them for anything we can use against you." "That's dirty." "This is war. Anything goes." The dream began to shatter. "Besides, switching sides constantly, that wouldn't put a good taste in anyone's mouth." "I had no choice." "Then we'll see what happens. You'll be the first, Sasuke Sarutobi." It cracked more. "The first for what?"

"The taste of revolution." "It's bitter." "you don't know anything yet." "that's what this interrogation is for." "You're head over heels for Kaeru, right?" "So what?" "Just wanted to know." "If you hurt her, I'll-" The dream shattered. "sasuke, redy to go soon?" I was back in the real world with my real friends. Still, I was thinking about the conversation. What did they need with our memories? Why did they want us gone? "Yup. I wanna go back to Heibai." With that, we all opened a portal to Heibai, and left.

-Fifteen: Back-KaeruWe were scared at first, but then saw nothing changed. The village was totally the same. So, we went to seek out the elders. This was the painful part. when we got there, they asked the two questions we knew they would ask. "why did you bring that demon back? What's she doing here?" It was my turn to speak. "We brought our friends back because we wanted to. We brought Hio back because she needed a second chance. You guys got a problem with that?" It was a good speech. "Yes, we do. Out job is to protect the citizens of this village. Those two are hazards. They can't be here." Yes they could. I looked at Sasuke, he was angry again. Hio? She was just standing there with a hollow look on her face. "Please understand, us Guardians have done many things for the village, and we will continue to do so! I may be new, but I know what it means to be a Guardian. To defend everything and everyone around you. To keep peace. What's your purpose? If you want to help the village, you should stop causing conflict. You're an order that's been required to be here since the Guardians showed up, so please act like it. If we wish to keep peace, we need to work together." Now THAT was a great speech. Sasuke calmed down a bit, and Hio looked up with eyes that held more emotion. Satoshi and Shizuka both nodded at my idea, too. "Very well. Your speech is true. Your only obstacle is the villagers. Win them, you win this." We left that room, and sure enough, there was a mob waiting for us. It was 75 percent of the village, nothing bad. I gave them the speech, modified more or less, and they all left. "Hey, let's all train! We have that battle to get ready for, so why not?" The others all yelled in unison, more or less. "Yeah!" With that, we ran to the training grounds, had some fun, and forgot about the things that troubled us. "Take this!" "Those damned renegades who gave me a bad name won't be expecting this!" "Let's show 'em what we've got!" "Whew!" We trained until midnight, then went back to sleep after a nice, hot shower. It was something nice to do after all the activity lately. Before we went back to sleep, Sasuke pulled me over. "Hey, Kaeru." "Sup?" "I was wondering if you'd like to go on a date tomorrow?" The second date of my life! "Yeah! What do you want to do?" "We could go to the movies, and then we could go and eat some food!" "Okay. Where? When?" "We'll go to Earth, tomorrow after breakfast, at some movie theater in New York." "You like that place, huh?" "It's pretty fun." "Okay! Let's do it!" We then wished each other good dreams, and I went right to my room. To my surprise, Mei was waiting right outside of it. "Hey how was the mission?" "Complete success!" "I see Hio's with you." "Yeah, you can forgive her, right?"

"I'll have to do a mind scan, and if she clears that, she's fine. Don't worry, I don't doubt her, just to make the villagers less antsy." "That makes sense." "Oh, and I hear you have a date with Sasuke!" "Yeah. I'm really happy about it." "I hope you have fun!" She left, I went in my room, and went to sleep. ----Wake up time, I got a filling breakfast and met Sasuke at the portal. I wore what I wore the day I met him, and the day I saw him again. He did too. "Ready?" "Yup!" We opened the portal, and saw the movie. It was about a girl who discovered she had super powers. At the end, we both agreed on several things. One- It never really ends. Two- It's more violent! Three- We actually have backstories, thank you very much. Four- Our lives aren't perfect. Five- We were so much cooler. We went to go to eat, Sasuke preferred whatever Hard Rock he could get to. Apparently he liked collecting the shirts. We learned lots of things about each other. For one thing, if you get chocolate anything for dessert, give up on the idea of eating it. It's pretty much reserved for Sasuke. Also, Sasuke used to live here for some time. His family moved here right after he was born, but only for about a year. Then they moved to Tokyo, and his dad founded The Metropolis two years later. Funny how those things work, right? The next thing we did was go to an electronics store. Sasuke said we needed cell phones to make communication easier. My thoughts? I didn't need one. But I guess it would He also said that he could rig them so we always had contact with each other through magic. We got a really cute and pink phone for Mei. We got a white cell phone for Hio. For Shizuka, rainbow phone. And for Satoshi? Yellow phone. They all fit. Me? I got a nice, sleek black one imported from The Metropolis. Sasuke? A simple phone. The funny part was when we went to get a smoothie at the end of the day. We got one smoothie and shared it. Kyu! So romantic! Anyway, our foreheads kinda got a bit close, and I'm not good with close distances. So I kinda got all flustered and breathed out quickly in the straw while pulling the straw out. In other words, I got smoothie all over Sasuke's face. It was kinda cute, because it was a strawberry smoothie, so it was pink. Pink doesn't go with Sasuke's wardrobe. At least it matched his cheeks! Sometimes I think back and wonder what would happen if I suddenly continued my normal life. Of course, that would mean no Guardians, no Sasuke, none of my new friends, and no Sasuke. That was the worst part. Now that I knew everyone well, why would I go back? Of course, it wasn't all fun and games, quite the opposite, but it's so much better with the lack of free time. You actually appreciate the free time so much! At the end of the date when we were back in Heibai, I went to Mei, Hio, and Shizuka to brag about my awesome day. Oh, and to give them their cell phones. "IT WAS AMAZING!" Shizuka didn't really think too highly of Sasuke. "That great, eh? What are you so proud about? Sasuke's just... Sasuke." "Pfft. I think he's pretty cool." "Pretty cool? Not an 'Awesome' or 'Terrific' or anything superlative like that?" "You get what I mean!" "Oh, and we got you your cell phones." I passed out the phones. Everyone liked their cell phones. "Hey, do you think our date was successful?" Mei spoke this time.

"You can only tell by what you did. Did you have fun?" "Yeah!" "Then it was a good date!" Hio started tlaking now. "Don't think you're stealing my boyfriend, I know he's not for me now. I need to go around and find someone." "Don't you have a Destined?" "I need to find him." "Don't give up!" I turned to Mei now. "Hey, where's your Destined?" Her face fell. "I'd rather not talk about him. You just need to know that he was taken that day of the Fall." "Are you giving up?" "I don't know what to do. I can't fight him the next day I see him, and I won't let anyone fight him. It's a lose lose situation." "Mei. Don't give up. If there's anything we can do, we'll do it." We kept talking.This day was the best in my life. If only time didn't go so fast and these times could last longer.

-SasukeWe were nervous if the battle had started anyway, but it was totally the same. We then went to the elders room. This was the annoying part. As soon as we went there, they said two things we knew they'd say. "why did you bring that demon back? What's she doing here?" Kaeru decided to speak up. "We brought our friends back because we wanted to. We brought Hio back because she needed a second chance. You guys got a problem with that?" "Yes, we do. Out job is to protect the citizens of this village. Those two are hazards. They can't be here." I was a hazard? What about them? They were always making us feel horrible. They were part of the reason Hio and Shuai went to the darker side. "Please understand, us Guardians have done many things for the village, and we will continue to do so! I may be new, but I know what it means to be a Guardian. To defend everything and everyone around you. To keep peace. What's your purpose? If you want to help the village, you should stop causing conflict. You're an order that's been required to be here since the Guardians showed up, so please act like it. If we wish to keep peace, we need to work together." wow. She actually talked to them and made them think. That took skill. I thought the speech was great, but them? We'd just have to see. "Very well. Your speech is true. Your only obstacle is the villagers. Win them, you win this." We left, and there was a mob outside. Kaeru worked her speech magic again, and we got out of the mob more or less unharmed. "Hey, let's all train! We have that battle to get ready for, so why not?" Kaeru always knew what to do as long as it was involving the words 'calm down' or 'free time'. "Yeah!" We ran to the training grounds, and had lots of fun, just being with each other made us feel great. "Take this!" "Those damned renegades who gave me a bad name won't be expecting this!" "Let's show 'em what we've got!" "Whew!" We trained until midnight, then took a shower and went to sleep. I decided to use the freshness of just getting out of the shower to ask Kaeru something I've wanted to ask for a long time. "Hey, Kaeru." "Sup?" "I was wondering if you'd like to go on a date tomorrow?" Her eyes lit up. It was a great feeling to see them.

"Yeah! What do you want to do?" "We could go to the movies, and then we could go and eat some food!" "Okay. Where? When?" "We'll go to Earth, tomorrow after breakfast, at some movie theater in New York." "You like that place, huh?" "It's pretty fun." "Okay! Let's do it!" We then wished each other good dreams. Kaeru went straight to her room, but I bragged about my accomplishments to Satoshi. I ran to his room, then practically wrenched his door open. He was ready to go to sleep, and just asked, "What could you possibly want this time?" "I got a date with Kaeru!" "Nice job. what'd you bribe her with?" "Nothing! Why would I need to!?" "You never know." "whatever. Got any dating advice?" "Yup. Have enough money." Oops. "Uhh..." "I owe you some for saving my life and Shizuka's life, just don't mooch." "Thanks, dude. I owe you!" "No, we're even now." With that, I left his room, went to mine, and had the best sleep I've had for a long time. ----Wake up time, I got a filling breakfast and met Sasuke at the portal. I wore what I wore the day I met him, and the day I saw him again. He did too. "Ready?" "Yup!" We opened the portal, and saw the movie. It was about a girl who discovered she had super powers. At the end, we both agreed on several things. One- It never really ends. Two- It's more violent! Three- We actually have backstories, thank you very much. Four- Our lives aren't perfect. Five- We were so much cooler. After, we went to go and eat. I like Hard Rock, there's lots of things to stare at. There's also all of the shirts. I have a drawer reserved for them in my room. Kaeru got a chocolate cake for dessert. She obviously forgot my obsession. Oh well, lots more for me! I told her lots of things. Mostly my family's habit for moving around. when I was done telling her, I remembered the conversation I had with Shuai. I remembered that I was hiding things from her. I was still hiding things. Was the revenge he was talking about... guilt? I couldn't let this bother me. This was one leisure day I had with Kaeru, I wasn't going to waste it. The next part was shopping for cell phones, something that Mei had asked us to do. According to her, we could enhance them with magic so communicating would be easier. This mean tmore dates, more going around the world, more dates, more errands, and more dates. Oh, and more dates. What? I was a teenage boy who just figured out officially who his girlfriend was! And if you're out constantly fighting, it's pretty hard to find time for dates when communication is hard. On the other hand, Kaeru definately knew everyone enough to get them perfectly cutsomized cell phones. The best part was when we went to get a smoothie. It was after a long day, so we ordered the cliche 'One Smoothie For One Couple' thing. The funny part? When we were drinking the smoothie, our

foreheads got really close. So Kaeru, being uncomfortable at close distances realized it, she breathed out of the straw really heavily and pulled it out of the drink at the same time! The result? a flustered Kaeru, and me with a line of smoothie in my hair and face. It wasn't bad, though. It was more cute. I guess this is what I was missing out on, having a normal life like this. Of course, if I had a normal life, I never would've met Kaeru. I never would've had a bond like this. I never would've had a girlfriend like this. Who cares about a normal life, I was with Kaeru to stay. When we got back, Kaeru went to go give the girls their cell phones while I went to go to Satoshi. Once again, I had to pry open his door, he's not a night person. "Dude, what is so important?" "My date today! Remember?" "Yeah, because my sleep schedule needs to revolve around you." "Aw, come on. It was awesome." "Finally finding the happiness of dating your Destined?" "Uh, yeah. How do you know a date goes the right way?" "Well, did you and her find it fun? And good?" "Yeah." "So it was a good date!" "Okay! Oh, and here's your cell phone." "Thanks." He yawned. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow!" "See ya!" I closed his door, then walked to my room. Yeah, I hope this free time didn't go away so soon.

-Bonus: Just Be Friends SongFicHio-chan, the one I once thought as my Destined, stood again before me. After the welcome back party was finished, she found a way to get me alone and asked, "Do you remember what you told me that day?" Just be friendsAll we gotta do Just be friendsIt's time to say goodbye Just be friendsAll we gotta do Just be friendsJust be friends... Did she have to ask about matters we already settled? Did she hope some feelings I had for her were still left over? No. We were over. I was with her, but I'm with Kaeru now. Before I knew it, the party was all over, it was time for some sleep. I went to my room after wishing everyone a good night, and stopped myself in front of the mirror. I saw the one who was mismatched with their first Destined. I saw the one who was assaulted by Hio. I saw the one who Mei hid herself from sight.Why was it always me? I never asked for tons of girls crushing on me, but it happened. I didn't want it. I'm Kaeru's boyfriend. Kaeru's, no one else's. I saw the one to protect Kaeru. I guess what Hio was asking was if I thought that I was really meant for her. Well, I couldn't be. I was with Kaeru. But, how could you be sure of anything? This Destined stuff... you never knew until you died, and perhaps, not even afterwards. I finished changing into my usual nightwear and got in my bed, feeling the cool sheets wash over me like the ocean. The cool feeling as well as my usual exhaustion put me to sleep, and started a replay of that horrible day. ukandandakinou no asahayaku ni wareta GURASUkakiatsumeru you na kore ha ittai nan daroukitta yubi kara shitataru shizuku bokura ha konna koto shitakatta no kana [I thought of it yesterday after the dawn had passed] [While I was gathering pieces of a broken glass] [What is going on now with drops that my fingers allow] [Is this really what our hearts decided to be last?] I had woken up on what seemed to be a normal day. Well, it was completely different from normal. But do people usually wake up and think, "Aah, what a great day1 The sun will almost be put out, my girlfriend and I are going to break up over what's good and evil, and I'm going to pretty much kill her!" don't they? Well... I guess my issue set is completely different. Either way, I didn't know of what was to come. I got out of bed, ready to take on the day, like I usually did. As the sun was hidden due to my room being faced towards the west, I thought of my girlfriend at the time, Hio. She represented fire, so her room was directly in the east. I got dressed in my usual outfit, and opened the door. Right in front of my door sat Hio. "Hey, Hio, what're you doing here so early?" I sat right next to her. She always felt so friendly, to me. I also felt cool being near a girl as pretty as she was. Since I was 14 and she was 16, we didn't kiss or do anything beyond that, we just hang out. We've actually been together since I was 10. If you're

wondering why we were even boyfriend and girlfriend at that age, it's the tradition of Destined Ones to be together as long as possible, so we did. "I have to go on a mission today." I was surprised by how unusually direct she was. That should've been a sign something was wrong, but I foolishly dismissed it. "Don't say anything to anyone." She whispered into my ear, "It's a secret~" Her face was so close to mine, I blushed. wakatteta yokokoro no oku soko de ha motto mo tsuraisentaku ga BESUTO sore wo kobamu jiko ai tokekkajika touchaku no kurikaeshi boku ha itsu ni nareba ieru no kana [I had known at the very deepest dephs of my heart] [That the best choice was the hardest from the very start] [It keeps on opposing me, since I know my love cannot be] [Then when can I tell you, if at all, before you depart?] "Y-yeah, no problem!" She hugged me, stood up, and started to walk away. After a minute, I felt the need to talk to her again. I jumped up, and ran towards the direction of her saineng signature. But, it suddenly dissappeared. "Hio, where are you?" I started wandering in the general area. What was so important that she needed to hide her saineng signature? Why did I feel so compelled to tell her what I wanted to? I turned corners, and I could see corners of her kimono. But when I ran up to those fragments, she was nowhere to be seen. I heard voices to the side of me, but it must've been the wind. "Sasuke..." "Can't leave..." "I must..." "But..." "Love." The wind really knew how to talk. Either that or... was she calling out to me? "Hio..." All the sudden, I sensed immense saineng surrounding the village. It was horrible, dark, twisted saineng. Meikai. I fought millions of them before, but not all at a time. How did they manage to hide this? This demented aura, it made me want to throw up. The towns people, however, didn't seem to notice. "Sasuke-sama! Are you okay!?" "He looks so pale..." I needed to gather extra strength to talk. "Everyone, please hide somewhere. In a house, in a celler, anywhere." "What?" I struggled out of the crowd. "Hio... where are you?" I needed to tell her... but the pressure was too great. If she died... what would I do? "Sasuke~ come to me~" Was it her? It couldn't be... it was her voice, but I sensed a strong force in it. Similar to the force of the coming intruders. It was a poison. yuruyaka ni kuchiteyuku kono sekai de agaku boku no yuiitsu no katsuro iroaseta kimi nohohoemi kizande sen wo nuita [In a world where everything is slowly being broken down] [I'm struggling, but I know that it's for you to be around]

[While your engraved smiles are fading away] [I should end it all] I heard her voice, where was it from? "Sasuke! Watch out!" I felt a rush of air by my back, and was propelled to my side. What was that? When I opened my eyes, I saw pink and silver hair almost reaching the ground, and ornate shoes. It was Mei. "Mei! What are you doing!? You're supposed to be inside, right!?" She looked down at me, flashing her pitch black eyes. "Run." What did she mean? I stood up, ready to tell her that I was perfectly capable, but that's when the aura got to the point of being able to suffocate me. "Didn't you hear me? Run." No way. Running was NOT in the job description. I don't care if she was the princess or not, I didn't follow cowardly orders like that. "No, I won't! Mei, why can't I just protect you, the princess, who should be inside, and do my job!?" She grabbed my shoulders, and got angry. Really angry. (How does a person get this angry?) "Listen, you arrogant squirt! I had a vision! Just get inside, okay!?" "But if you were taken as a hostage or died..." "You think I can't manage by myself!?" Was Mei crying? "Sasuke-san... I'm just trying to stop you from seeing something... something that you wouldn't like." I've been seeing horrible things since I was 10, how could anything be worse than what I've already seen? Suddenly, the aura around the village calmed down. "Oh no." Oh no was right. Suddenly, my energy was slowly dissappearing. The gardens were dissolving, buildings were fading. What caused this to happen? "Hey, what're you guys doing? Aren't you supposed to be protecting this place?" It was Hio. "You're okay!" I used some of my dwindling energy to get up and hug her, but she didn't seem fazed at all. I needed to tell her... "Where were you? I was so worried!" she pulled me closer to her, hugged me tighter, but then I felt some sharp object at my back. "I was... preparing." Metal plunged. What... "Hio... but... why?" "Sasuke... I love you." I felt a liquid drip form the point of impact. "Hio... we..." are over. I couldn't finish. What was this? koe wo karashite sakenda hankyouzankyoumunashiku hibiku hazusareta kusari nosono saki ha nani hitotsu nokotte ya shinai kedo [My voice is dry from calling out your name] [Echoing off the walls to reach nobody] [There's nothing left for me to be connected to you] [While I am standing here all by myself, all alone] "Sasuke... you want to protect me, right? Join the meikai. Their power is incredible." Why did she suddely sound like some hero comic stereotype? She hated anything mainstream... This made no sense... "Hio... what happened to you?" "Nothing. But I've never felt better." The metal in me was pulled out. More thick liquid fell from the wound. I heard the sound of licking, and felt some small weight on my shirt. What did she turn into? I got out from her grip, being careful to conserve my saineng, and saw her for the first time... like that. Her kimono had changed from a subtle tuna like red... to a complete blood red. Her eyes were scarlet,

and her katana had too much blood on it... maybe even some of mine. "Hio! What the..." She extended her arm, and an immense aura with it. I flew back, unable to withstand it. My fall was broken by Satoshi-kun, who mustered up strangth to catch me. "Sasuke-kun, what happened to Hio-san?" I couldn't talk. That wasn't Hio. Hio was so much gentler, a nurtering flame, a fire you needed to protect because it kept flickering. The Hio I knew... was not her. He brought me over to Shizuka-san. "His back can be healed." Satoshi turned me over, and I felt a gentle wind on my back. I felt more strength, more saineng, and then a cold touch. "Okay, there's no scar either." I was propped up, and saw Shizuka-san lying down. "Sasuke, listen, you're the only one who can do this." I didn't like the sound of that. "You know Hio better than all of us. You know her strengths, and her weaknesses. If anyone has a chance of fighting her at this point, it's you." Shizuka-san then told me the rest of their plan between gasps. "I gave you... some of my saineng... Satoshi will too... please stop Hio..." "Shizuka, save your breath." Was she dying? "She'll be fine, but Sasuke, you need to win this fight. You don't have to kill Hio, just seal off all of her saineng." But wasn't that the equivalent of death? "Use that spell I taught you last week. It's not a decomposition spell, rather, a saineng seperator and sealer type." I just sat there while satoshi pumped his saineng into me. "Don't worry... we believe in you." He went into the same limp state as Shizuka, and I prepared myself for the hardest fight in my life. futari wo kasaneteta guuzen antendansenhakanaku chiji ni shosen konna mono satsubuyaita kareta hoho ni tsutau dareka no namida [All those things that just happened to happen] [What brought us together is now falling apart] [I said that how life takes us probably be cannot be changed] [After all, someone's tears will still be falling down]

-Bonus: Kiss Goodbye SongFicPlease dont cry, weve been through this already, right? The tight hand holding, the sobbing, its becoming old news. Let me look at your face, the beauty it retains, and can absorb. Im happy to see you again, but we need to part again. I cant give you more love now, so please keep what Ive given you already. Here, the happiness to see you again, and the sorrow of a sudden goodbye intersect, when will this end? Even if I cry, let out my emotions, I can never cry the buckets I should. I dont care about being cool anymore, I want to be with you. I dont want to care about duty anymore, I want to be with you. Mind and heart divided, where am I to go? I know where I want, but should I go where I need? Please dont make this hard for me. Because I know, right now, I feel the only thing good for me is you. ----I need to cry, dont you realize what youre putting me through? I need your hand, your existence, were Destined, right? Why are you leaving me? What was this for? To see me, but leave again? What did I do to you, what did you do to me, what happened to us? Why are you so fickle wait you think love is like a storage container? And if youre so sorry, dont make the decision. Please, stay. Whats causing this rift, and how can we stop it? Were suddenly together, and suddenly apart? Our hearts cant take this, my heart and mind are thinking together, but not. I feel the only thing for me is you.

-Bonus: Hua Tian Cuo SongFicI dont know how we met, was it chance, or fate speeding us unfairly across its course? In a vision, or perhaps a dream, I saw your smiling face. The world blended together, I only saw you. When may I return, if fate allows? I made the fatal mistake of promising to return later, rather than sooner. What is this, a product of quickly set infatuation? Have I forgotten, all my time with Hio? Will I forget? Or will my memory of her stab me in the back? Will I forget? Or will something happen to you to make me remember? In the dark, theres only one thing I see. To drown the vision, I make myself drunk. Drunk with happiness from a previous time, drunk from a time that cant return, perhaps, even drunk with your image. Please dont judge me, I dont want to hurt you, forgive me for being selfish, but when may I see you again? How can I be so intoxicated with your beauty? Your intelligence You? I barely know you now, but have we been known to each other for eons? It seems that way, the background disappears, I miss you. When can I see you again? I dont know if love is fleeting. Would you be able to tell me? I dont know how deep love is. Would you be able to show me? Weve know each other for so short a time, would you know if it was me if I saw you? Would I know you? These questions keep crowding, Im drowning in them. When can I return to you? Are we the lovers who just simply cannot meet? I dont want to be in a story like that, I want to be with you. Let me break the fourth wall and write the story my way, I need to be with you.

-Bonus: Shoujo S SongFicWhy are you telling me things that you were against before? Your sudden change of attitude, Im sorry, we cant work out. Youve changed drastically, toyed with my emotions, I cant trust you anymore. I loved you, but wheres your love for me? Was all this just a game? Im selfish enough to say that I still wish you were here, but you cant be, can you? Havent you been alone too much? Planning something else? It took me only until now to figure this out, what am I to you? You talk smooth, act cool, but beyond that exterior, whats your true self? I dont know anymore, and I dont think I ever will. Beyond that smoke that is the front you put out, what would someone find?"

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