stirred at the sound of the voice. She didn't open her eyes
but let out a low moan.
Her movements were lost in the bustle of the little hospital room. Seven beds lined the wall, each with a resting occupant. One of them, however, just had an encounter with the ever popular alcohol and is trying very hard to bare it.
"That's it! I've had enough!" Kale tried to grab the bottle and cotton away from the nurse. Kayura caught his wrist.
"Please excuse us," she said warmly and watched the nurse leave before turning to Kale. "What are you doing? She was trying to help you."
"Help?!" He tired to sit up and cringed from the pain on his side. "What I need is to get out of this room!"
"You can barely keep conscious for more than half an hour. What are you going to do out there?"
"More than we're doing now," answered Dais. Kayura glared at him.
"I think they're feeling a lot better," Anubis said as he entered the room. It had been hours after the fight and night had masked the damage it had caused to the village. "Wouldn't you say?" He put an arm around Mia.
"They certainly sound like it," she answered.
"What is really between you two?" Sekhmet asked from the bed next to Dais. "I mean, we've been hearing small stuff from Kayura, in between arguments, of course." He got glares from Kale and her.
"There's not much to tell, is there?" Anubis asked Mia. "I came back to help Mia, got attacked by you guys, and got my armor back." Mia nudged him and pointed to her stomach. "Oh, did I also mention that I'm going to be a father?"
"A what?!" the trio blurted out.
They were interrupted by Royda, still under the Protector's control. She had tapped Kayura's shoulder and pointed to Kala's bed across from Kale's. They could see that the girl was almost awake.
"I understand," Kayura answered the unspoken question. "We would know where to get you when the time comes."
Royda nodded and walked up to Mia. The three in bed were closely watching this still- armored warrior. They were still pretty weary about her since she hadn't said a word since she said her name. Her aura was slowly diminishing but somehow that didn't make her any less intimidating.
She took Mia's and Anubis' hands and held them together. Her dark blue eyes traveled from hers to his then back. She held her gaze for a few seconds then gave her a small smile. Her gaze turned to Anubis and gave him a nod. She let go off their hands and slowly walked to the far wall.
The girls were stirring in their beds. The Warlords were watching the four across from them and wondered how they had been beaten. They couldn't remember much of what happened in the past few days but knew that they were ordered to capture Mia. They didn't even remember the battle with the Protector.
As each girl slowly woke, the Protector's hold on Royda was lessening. Royda's passive eyes were returning to normal as well as her aura. The armor she wore was fading in and out, releasing some of its energy. The energy accumulated at her side and started to form a shape. Each girl sat up and the Protector completely vanished from Royda's face. A growling yawn came form her side as Red appeared again.
"Man," Kala said first, "I am never agreeing to another 'new' strategy." She held her throbbing head in her hands.
"Me either," agreed Reva. She leaned her head against the headboard.
"It saved you form that Warlord, didn't it?" Kishin said. Her ears were ringing and one of her legs had fallen asleep under her weight.
"Sure it did," agreed Kala. "But did we really have to give up that much to make her?"
"Can we please change the subject?" pleaded Mira.
"They're not doing bad either," Anubis said, startling the girls. They didn't notice that they had an audience.
Kayura quickly went to Mira and checked on her besides her protests. Nurses started to come in and check on them as soon as they learned they were awake. The girls were surprised and a little reluctant to accept their help.
"Where's Royda?" Mira asked her oldest sister. She couldn't quite see where everyone was. Kayura turned and only had time to catch a glimpse of long blue hair going out the door.
"She's back to normal," assured Kayura.
"Who could tell?" Kale asked Dais. He hadn't noticed the girl and didn't hear her talk. To him, that was still the Protector. Dais suppressed a laugh.
"And what are the two of you snickering about?" Kayura turned from her sister to the two men. They quickly hushed up which prompted the others to laugh. Mira just stared at the door.
It's been days since that battle
had been fought and everybody in the village had
somewhat settled down. With the Warlords' help, the buildings that took damage from
the fight were quickly repaired. The whole village was so grateful to them for their help
that they had put together a kind of going away party for them tonight.
I had called the guys and found
that they had been keeping track of me through the news.
They somehow thought that with Anubis back from the dead, enemies would come a
knocking. They were right, of course.
There were so many things to
tell them, I didn't know where to start. Anubis and I finally
decided that we would both tell them when we get back. They were still a little worried
for me but trusted Anubis to protect me. I do, too.
The girls that have been my
lifesavers had recovered from the battle quite well. Their
store was barely damaged and they were kind enough to house four more people at their
apartment. The Warlords had warmed up to them somewhat when they shared a few
stories. Most of them couldn't remember where or when they had met them before.
The red tiger had come back.
From the moment the Warlords attacked, I had wondered
where she had gone to. Kayura later explained that Red wasn't just a companion to the
girls' white armor. She was the armor. That's the reason why she was missing during the
During all of these events,
people seemed to have overlooked that I am pregnant. Even
sometimes forget but Anubis always reminds me that I am. Almost two and a half
months now. My nausea during the morning is less frequent and I do find myself loosing
energy quicker. I still take my morning runs, sometimes with him or not but always with
somebody. They're more protective of me now that they know who it is I'm carrying.
Some nights I'd lie awake near
Anubis and think back to that house and to that short time
between us. I often wonder of what would have happened had we not taken each other. I
know that I would have lost the love of my life and that this child in me would have been
fathered by another. Somehow I couldn't picture myself doing anything different, except
maybe tell him then that I love him.
After all the hardships that
we had gone through, we always seem to find each other.
You'd think the Fates were telling us something. Maybe they are at that.
"Mia?" Anubis opened the door as he knocked. He saw her writing on a book. "Ready?"
She finished the last sentence then closed the book. Her eyes locked with his as she looked up to the mirror. He smiled as he walked up behind her.
"I would hope so," she answered. He helped her up and turned her around.
"You look beautiful."
She blushed. There was nothing special with what she was wearing. It was the same yellow jacket and pants she wore when she and Sage went to look for Kento Her hair was up in a ponytail but that was it. There wasn't even a touch of make up on her face.
"I know you're just saying that," she teased. He pulled her gently towards him.
"But it's the truth." He slowly led her through a waltz. "Are you ready to do some dancing?"
"That depends on who my partner is. Is Gene Kelly still available?"
"No, I'm afraid not. Last time I checked, he was busy dancing with Lady Death. I guess you're just going to be stuck with me."
"Is that a bad thing?" They had stopped dancing and their heads were coming closer.
"To some, maybe."
Their lips met and the whole world started to float away. Mia's hands went around his neck while his went around her waist. He lifted her and laid her down on the bed.
"I think we're going to be a little late," Anubis said, kissing her neck now.
"I don't think so," she said, rolling away from under him.
"And why?" He rested his head on the bed, clearly disappointed.
"We're being expected. We have to be there on time. Besides, we'll have time for this later." He lifted his head. "Okay?"
He reluctantly nodded and got up with her. They walked to the door and Anubis hoped that this wouldn't last long.
They entered the ballroom and started to look for their friends. Kayura and the three Warlords were a little bit apart from the group. They talked among themselves.
"Why aren't you guys enjoying this?" Anubis asked as he and Mia got near them. "This is your party."
"How are we suppose to enjoy this?" hissed Sekhmet. "Don't these people know that we were the ones that destroyed their village?"
"They know. It's just that they saw you help them, too. In their minds, that evens the score."
"Are you serious?" Dais asked. "They can't be that naive."
"And you give them even less credit." A slow song was played and Anubis turned to Mia. "What about that dance?"
She nodded and they excused themselves. They moved carefully at first then gradually relaxed and began to move with the music. Their heads were together and he held her close.
"Would you like to dance?" an urgent voice asked Kayura. She looked up and found Kale looking at her.
"Yeah. Well?" Though Kale's rough exterior could be taken as being rude, he had an expectant look in his eyes.
"Why not?" She shrugged and smiled.
"If you don't want to, I....Did you just agree with me?" A surprised look replaced the expectant one. She grabbed his arm and before he could say more and dragged him to the dance floor. Dais and Sekhmet stared after them.
"First they fight, then they get really weird," Sekhmet told him.
"We've seen this happen too many times," Dais answered. "You'd think we'd expect this from them."
"They do get creative."
They shrugged and started to look for somebody to dance with too. The Warlords had become rather famous with their help on the rebuilding of the village so it didn't take long for the other two to get dance partners. They danced the night away and savored every minute of it. Who knew when they would be able to experience the Mortal World again. They were leaving for the good old Netherworld tomorrow.
Friends leave today. At
least, we could now call them friends. The boys don't even
to know about what really happened.
I have one more day in Paradise
then I head home. Home. Wow. That place seems
a thousand years ago and a million miles away. So many things have happened to me
since I got here almost two weeks ago that my house seems like the dream. The life I've
experienced here has really somehow prepared me for life. The Ronins have been great
friends but even they can't teach you about life.
They're all outside now.
The Warlords, Kayura, the girls, and Anubis. I'm supposed
be resting because of last night but I couldn't miss seeing the guys off.
They've changed a lot, the Warlords.
Ever since we told them what they don't remember,
they've tried very much to forget about it. They've even tried ushering it along by talking
about it. Imagine them talking about it and discussing it. I wouldn't expect to get that
from them but then again, I haven't seen them in awhile.
Dais and Sekhmet met a couple
of girls last night. I hope their night was made.
stuck with Kayura most of the night. The girl seemed to have grown a few inches as well
as a few years over the last couple of days. The other men at the party seemed to
appreciate it. Kale, however, insisted that he keep an eye on her. You might even have
thought that he was worried about her. Of course, he always denied it.
They're saying good-bye now.
They each great Reva first. The most outgoing of the
girls, she looks like she could do this everyday. But that is misleading in that she seems
to be the most distrustful of the group. I was hard pressed to get on her good side.
Kala came next. If the
battle was any indication, it only amplified her anger.
temper flared up a few times over the past few days because of their guests. She
reminded me of how Cye and Kento act. Her counterpart in that would be Reva, of
course. Those two seem to fight all the time and you can't really say that they're best
friends because of that.
Kishin was next in line.
Maybe she would have been the biggest surprise if not for
Royda. She had shown her prowess as a second in command but that wasn't all. Though
with just one eye, her intelligence had made up for it. I had asked why she covers her
right eye but she only smiles and tells me that there would be time for that.
Next came the youngest, Mira.
She hugs her sister like that was no tomorrow. I for one
know that they could never lose touch of each other. The baby of the group, she almost
has this air of wonder around her, until you look at her eyes. She has this light behind
those eyes that betrays her true age. Many people mistake her for being a kid, but I have
never doubted that she does have more maturity than most of the kids I teach.
Perhaps the biggest surprise
to me is Royda. I had thought at first that her straight-
forward manner was just something she did to not frighten me about what was to come. I
didn't know that she lived like that. Not only was her bluntness a surprise but her attitude
as well. All throughout this ordeal, her emotions have always been in check. I always
thought that she did it to keep her team's focus. I didn't know that she lived like that.
Kayura gives her a hearty hug like before and still doesn't evoke any emotion of action
Then to Anubis. The Warlords
clasp his hand while Kayura hugs him. They seemed to
have taken the news of my pregnancy in stride. Somehow, they had always thought that
we would end up with each other. They said that I looked too much like Nasuti that it
was almost inevitable.
The Warlords took it quite well.
I took it with a mild surprise. I wonder how the Ronins
are going to take to my growing stomach. I was thinking of just letting them guess as to
why I'm getting bigger, but no. They deserve more than that. They also deserve to go
home. Now that the girls are coming with Anubis and me, I figured their house-sitting
days are over. They don't need to stay at my house anymore. I don't think their parents
are going to be too thrilled about their homecoming though. Just kidding.
They're off now. Gone
with a flash of light. The girls stand around there
and just stare
out to space. Anubis looks up here and smiles. With that, all the problems that had been
going through my head seemed to have taken a backseat to this man. A man that had
been a part of my life for so short a time yet with such lasting impressions. I wish to
never go back to my old life.
Something brushed against Mia's leg and she almost dropped her pen. She looked down and saw two emerald eyes looking back at her. They almost had an understanding feel to them.
"You'll miss them too, I'll bet," she told it. Red buried her face into her hands and nuzzled it. "But you'll meet new ones very soon."
She lead the tiger out of the room and down the stairs. The store had already been packed into boxes and crates, ready to be shipped tomorrow. The truck was outside and was being prepared to be loaded.
"What are you doing down here?" Anubis asked. He stood at the front door, looking at her.
"Walking," she said coyly. "Did they leave okay?"
"Mira said that she could sense them in the Netherworld."
"That's good." She walked up to the door and looked out the window.
"Are you okay?" He looked at her with worry written all over his face.
"Why? I feel fine." She touched her cheek.
"You're a little red." He touched her forehead. "And a little hot."
"You're just saying that."
Mia wrapped an arm around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close.
"I am worried about you."
"What for? There's nothing to worry about."
"I'm worried about how you're going to react when we go down the mountain."
"Me reacting to altitude changes or you reacting to the Ronins?" She poked his side.
"Maybe both." His voice remained grave.
"You worry too much, do you know that? They'll love you."
"Are you sure about that?"
"What's not to love? You died for them, twice. You've helped them defeat Talpa, twice. You've come back to life, twice."
"But that was all because you were the main goal. You didn't think I did all of that because I liked the Ronins, did you?"
"Well, pretend that you like them and maybe they'll pretend to like you."
"The girls are coming with us, right?"
"Uh huh." She started to walk back and up the stairs. He followed. "They can't stay here after what happened."
"At least they like me, and I didn't even have to die for them."
"They almost died for you."
"It was you they almost died for, not me. Something to be said about your charisma?"
"Funny." She entered the kitchen.
"What's funny?" Mira asked. She was sitting at the table drinking tea while Kishin made it.
"Nothing." Mia looked around and didn't see the other three girls. "When did the two of you get here?"
"Just a couple of seconds ago," answered Kishin.
"And the others?" Anubis asked.
"They're all downstairs, trying to load that truck," answered Mira. "Tea?"
"Thanks." Mia sat down opposite her.
"Come here Red," coaxed Kishin. She knelt down and patted her lap. "You want something to eat?" The tiger nodded.
While Kishin fed Red, Anubis sat down next to Mia and accepted the tea Mira offered. They were later joined by Kishin and got engaged into a conversation.
"Where exactly do you live Mia?" asked the one-eyed girl.
"That mansion is just outside of Toyama," answered Mia, drinking more of the tea. "It sits almost on a hill that overlooks a lake."
"And what do the Ronins do there?" asked Mira.
"They occasionally visit me since most of them live in Toyama. They were the ones that suggested I go here so I could relax. Who would have thought this would happen."
"You also said that they were house-sitting for you?"
"That's right. Which reminds me, I have to call them and tell them that I'm gong to be coming home tomorrow." She excused herself and went to the phone.
"Well, I better go see if the others need help downstairs," offered Anubis.
"I'll go, too," volunteered Mira.
When the two went down the back stairs, Kishin looked up from the empty kitchen and sighed.
"Oh, well, I guess I'll do the dishes," she said sarcastically. She went ahead with her chore.
Sage answered the phone this time. Mia heard a lot of struggling before she could hear his voice.
"You guys better not be destroying my house," warned Mia.
"Of course not, Mia," assured Sage. "Why did you call anyway?"
"Nothing. Just making sure that the house is still up. I also called because I'm coming home tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? Has it been two weeks already?"
"Good, then we could plan a welcome home party. Anubis is coming back with you, right?"
"Yeah, along with five girls and a truck full of stuff."
"Just make sure that whatever you get, get it double, okay?"
"Sure, but did I hear you mention girls? Are they cute?"
"Sage, don't go there. They've been a great help to me."
"Okay, I'll drop it. So, that means no more house-sitting, huh?"
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that, but you could still visit us."
"Okay." There was silence on the other line and Mia thought that Sage had hung up. Before she could put it down, his uncertain voice came through the line. "Mia? When you get back, you will explain everything, won't you?"
"Of course Sage. I wouldn't keep you in the dark long."
"That's good because we've been making our own stories and none of them turn out right." She laughed at this. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing could be more right than what happened to me up here. I'll see you by noon Sage. Bye."
"Everybody ready?" asked Anubis.
They were all outside, standing near the entrance, near the van, near the truck. It was just beginning to be dawn and all of them were already ready to leave. The drive down would be a long one.
"Ready as we'll ever be," answered Kishin. She stood next to Royda near the truck. They had agreed that the two would take care of the truck on its trip down despite Mira's protests. The youngest girl had wanted to be paired up with her sister.
"Ready right here," added Reva. She was already going in to the driver's side of the van before anybody could protest. Kala almost stopped her.
"Kala," said Royda. Though the voice sounded casual, even friendly, Kala stopped as she could barely detect the threatening note in it.
"It's going to be a long drive," Anubis told Mia, gravely.
While Kishin and Royda boarded the truck, Anubis, Mia, Kala, and Mira piled in the van with Reva. They slowly started down the street as quiet as they can so as not to wake the village.
Barely ten minutes into the
drive, Anubis and Mia finally figured out why the arrangements
were left as they were. Kala had started to criticize Reva's
driving and Reva had stopped watching the road to reprimand Kala.
Good thing it was early in the
morning and traffic was light.
Subsequently, Mira kept getting in between them and they would back off. However, the peace in the van would only last for a short time then they were back at it. Before long, Anubis was getting worried for the health of his pregnant wife-to-be as well as for his health. If he didn't stop these two, who knows how they were going to get home.
"Would the two of you please leave each other alone?" asked Anubis. They barely avoided another car as the van went to the other lane. "We'd really like to get to the house in one piece." That seemed to have worked.
"Wow," whispered Mira to him. "I didn't know they would listen to that strategy."
The van and the truck continued on for a couple more hours. They stopped for breakfast at a small roadside diner and Mia caught the eye of some early morning drunkards. Anubis quickly dispatched them as they also started harassing the girls.
"Just like in Okinawa," Reva blurted out.
"What happened there?" Mia asked as they left the diner. Reva looked at Royda as if to ask advice.
"Nothing special," she quickly answered.
Mia looked at Anubis and he shrugged. These girls had more secrets to last them a lifetime. They went on their way again, in silence this time.
It was already ten o'clock when they entered the city of Toyama. They didn't stop anywhere but headed straight for their new home. The mansion looked over the horizon as they got nearer.
"You live in that?" asked Mira, child-like awe showed in her eyes. Mia nodded. "When you said you lived in a mansion, you weren't kidding."
For once, Reva couldn't seem to say a word about what she saw. Though she had seen imperial palaces that were more elegant and considerably larger then Mia's mansion, she had never seen anything like it and was fascinated by it.
The van and truck stopped just in front of the house and next to a red and white jeep. Everybody got out and Red materialized next to them again. They looked around them, familiarizing themselves with their new surroundings.
Mia went up to the front door, Anubis intowe. She nervously looked up at him and found reassuring eyes. She smiled and knocked on the door.
"Hey guys!" she exclaimed as the door opened.