By Royda


Note: This is more a Sage and Mira fic than a Mia and Anubis fic, but they're there, and we all know how you love Royda's writing, soooo...on with the show!

"So, any plans for New Year's?" Cye asked Reva.

"How about try to keep her mouth shut?" Kala suggested. "Or better yet, don't talk at all!"

"Kala!" Reva lunged at the girl and had her hands around her throat. The other girl had hers wrapped around her throat, too.

"Does anybody want to help me with this?" Cye asked around. Reva and Kala were rolling on the floor, chocking each other.

"Don't worry about it buddy," Kento said. "They'll make each other pass out and there's less damage that way."

"Okay. This has happen enough times to become routine." He sat on the couch and watched his girlfriend, making sure they didn't bump into anything.

"Don't those two ever quit?" Rowen asked Kishin.

"What? Reva and Kala? They've been at it for 400 years. No sense in stopping now."

"Who stops them?"

"Royda mostly but other than that, they do it themselves."

"Reva?" Mira called out as she came down the stairs. "Has anyone seen Reva...? Nevermind." She spotted two struggling forms on the floor. "Would the two of you stop for a second?"

"Can't you see that we're a little busy, Mira?" Reva said. "Kala here's almost gone."

"Oh yeah? You might as well sit down little sister. Reva's not going anywhere!"

"I don't care what you guys do. Mia wants Reva in the kitchen now." Both girls stopped.

"Why didn't you say so?" Reva said, getting up. "We'll finish this later."

"I'll be waiting Water Lily."

"You bet Match Light." Reva disappeared to the kitchen.

"Gosh, and I thought I was suppose to be the youngest." Mira shook her head and went outside.

It was the end of December, nearing New Year's Eve. Almost two months after Mia and Anubis' wedding. The ground was covered with snow now and everybody was inside to warm up. It had been a quiet two months. Too quiet. Not even a word from Kayura and the Warlords. But even Mira wasn't worried. She knew everything was okay.

"Talk about childish!" She stepped up to the railing and looked down.

"Those two at it again?" a voice said not far away. She quickly turned around and almost slipped when she recognized it was Sage, wrapped in a blanket not far from her.

"Halo? What are you doing here? It's freezing out here."

"I think the same thing you were going to be doing but I was a little bit more prepared. Here." He held out another blanket towards her. "We wouldn't want your sister finding you frozen like a popsicle, right?"

"I guess. How long have you been out here?"

"Just a couple of minutes. Didn't mean to startle you."

"Well, not like everybody else doesn't." She wrapped the blanket around her. "Why are you out here?"

"I wanted to get away from everybody. You?"

"Same. I think my sister was going to go insane if they started again."

They smiled at the image. The two months that had passed were rather nice for everybody. Winter vacation had been a much needed rest for them. Especially Mia since her stomach had grown. Everybody was subject to her demand for unusual food. They went to the doctor regularly and found that the baby was doing fine and right on schedule. The little bundle of joy was due to come out in May, some four months away.

"How is everything in there?" he asked.

"Dare I say as normal as it's going to get?"

"Hah!" he blurted out. "Nothing is normal around here anymore."

"I noticed. They are getting a bit more aggressive, aren't they? Maybe because they're all inside."

"I don't think so. The guys have always acted like that. Usually it would be Kento and Cye wrestling then Ryo and Rowen would jump in."

"I don't think my sister would like that much."

"We sound like a how-to video. 'I don't think...' 'I don't...' 'I...' We need new material."

"Agreed." A pause. "What do we talk about?"

"Don't know." They looked at each other and started to laugh.

Their laughter reached out there. The still night carried it far and was heard across the lake. They didn't seem to notice that there was one thing out there that was really interested in their position. It heard where they were and quickly and silently made its way there. The two on the deck continued to laugh, oblivious to its presence.

"What are the two of you laughing out here for?" Mia's voice called out. They both turned and say her standing at the door to the kitchen from the deck. "Get in here before you catch something."

The two looked at each other and nodded. No need to worry Mia when she only wanted them inside. They slowly made their way to the door, careful that they didn't slip. The warmth of the kitchen was very comforting and they didn't need a lot of convincing to stay.

"Do you guys want hot chocolate?" They both nodded as they sat down. "Then why were you outside?"

"We just wanted to get away from everybody, that's all," Mira answered, getting up to help.

"By freezing?" Mia shooed her away from the counter. "That's a little extreme, isn't it?"

"One way to get privacy in this house," Sage answered.

"Okay, I get it." She returned to the table with two mugs. They took it and silently drank. Mia slowly eased herself down to a chair. "Oh!"

"What's wrong?" both of them said in unison. They looked at her to see what was wrong.

"Nothing," she answered between giggles. "I think the baby just wants a little attention."

"Why don't you just go to bed already so you can pay attention to the little thing?" Anubis said from the door.

"Not a bad idea." She slowly got up and Anubis helped her up the stairs.

"I haven't seen him do that in a long time," Mira said thoughtfully.

"What do you mean? He does that almost everyday." Sage looked at her from the top of his mug.

"No, I'm talking about letting his emotions flow freely. He hasn't done that for a long time. Didn't you feel it?"

"Sorry. I might be sensitive but not that deep. Besides, I don't know him like you do."

"That is true. I've never even seen him show half that much emotion towards Nasuti. Freely, of course."

"Things do change. He's changed a lot. I'm still trying to comprehend what has happened."

"It will take time to get used to."

They sat in silence. The commotion in the other room was unmistakable and could be heard in the quiet kitchen. Everybody was watching a New Year's special on TV but it was mostly drowned out by argument. Mira and Sage could only guess on who was doing the arguing.

A strong wind blew open the deck doors, startling both of them. The cold immediately started to come in and they quickly scrambled to close the door. Mira stopped when she caught scent of evil in the air. Sage securely closed the door and turned to the girl. She was looking through the glass of the door, out into the darkness, searching. He was compelled to look out there too, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. Suddenly, there was movement in the shadows. He stepped back and looked at her.

"Did you see that?" he hesitantly asked.

"Something's out there," she answered, never looking away from the dark. "We've got to do something."

"Like what? We could tell the others."

"No. They'll probably think it was my imagination. When it runs wild, it runs wild. We gotta go check it out ourselves." She moved to open the door.

"Hold on. What do you mean 'we'? You're not seriously thinking of going out there again, are you?"

"I'm very serious. If what we find is a threat, the others will come running."

"How are you so sure?"

"Because I know them. Are you coming or not?" The door flew open as she nudged it.

"What? In just that?"

"Of course not. We're changing."

"Into what?"

"What else? Subarmor of course." She closed her eyes and her civilian clothes disappeared, being replaced with her brown subarmor. "I'm not that crazy."

"Could have fooled me." He didn't move to follow her when she stepped outside.

"Well?" She poked her head back in. "I thought I said we?"

"I'm not going to be part of this."

"Fine by me." Her head disappeared from the door.

"Hey!!" He quickly got to the door and only had time to see her disappear in the darkness. "Doesn't she ever think? What would her sister say?" He thought for a moment and all of the images in his head ended with his head on a stake. "Great! I'm going to have to go after her."

His clothes disappeared and were replaced by his green subarmor. The cold didn't seem that bad at all with just that on. Either way, he was still concerned if he's going to find her at all out there. He made sure that the door was tightly shut and jumped down from the deck.

Anubis entered the kitchen a few seconds later after Sage closed the door. Mia had complained a little about there being a draft. When he entered the kitchen, there was a chilling air then the heat settled in. He walked over the door and made sure it was locked before looking around. There were little puddles on the floor which indicated that the door was opened but that could have been when Sage and Mira got in, tracking snow with them. The mugs they had used were half full and still warm. He shook his head slightly and headed for the living room.

"Do you guys know where Sage and Mira went?" Anubis asked the remaining Warriors.

"I thought they already went to bed," Reva answered. She was the only one that answered before getting distracted by the TV.

"Okay." He didn't think anybody heard that. After coming back for almost three months now, he has still to experience what was so great about the TV. He would either be busy or one of the Warriors would be watching it. Mia had tried to let him watch that one time before Kayura's wedding but that was quickly forgotten since he watched her all night. He decided that he might as well take their word and leave them alone.

"What happened?" Mia asked as he came back in the room.

"The door to the deck was probably pushed opened by a gust of wind," Anubis answered. "Sage probably closed the door before he went to bed."

"That's good." He climbed into bed next to her. "How about the others?"

"They're busy watching that box downstairs. I still don't get how that thing can hold their attention." He settled next to her and wrapped an arm around her.

"They're teenagers. What did you expect?" She laid her head on his shoulders.

"I expected that of the Ronins but not from the girls. Even Royda was downstairs and tolerating the noise level."

"It's New Year's Eve. I think me, you, and Sage are the only ones that have decided to turn in."

"Mira's done the same thing."


"Well, add her to the list. All I wanted for Christmas was already given to me and are here with me to ring in the new year. Why would I need to have a TV tell me it's going to be a happy one when I already know that?"

"And somehow, this coming year for me is something I'm going to remember. Thank you for wanting me back." He kissed her forehead and tightened his hold on her.

"You're welcome."


"Mira!! Mira!!" Sage shouted. He could barely see the tracks that she left but he trekked on. "Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you're in?! Not to mention the danger of this little adventure to my health?!"

Something rustled behind him and he turned. Leaves met him as they swayed with the wind. He shook his head as he slowly turned back around. Just then, something landed behind him, placed a hand over his mouth, and dragged him back. After a few seconds of struggling and a few steps back, the figure released him and he turned on it, ready to fight. He stopped when he saw that it was her.

"Sorry about that," Mira apologized. "I needed you to be quiet."

"So, there was something out here?"


"What's that suppose to mean? We're going back and warning the others." He moved to go back.

"No don't!" She stopped him with her hand on his arm. "I want to handle this myself."


"From what I can tell, it's one of the sprites. Wind I think. Anyway, think we can take it."

"There goes that we again. You're not seriously thinking of doing this, are you?"

"Yes I am. If you're not going to help, then go back and tell the others." She looked up defiantly at him.

"I..." He looked down at her light blue eyes. She looked back at him with an intensity that made him think of his sister. Sara had a way of looking at him that made him think about what consequences would result from this.

His thoughts went back to Royda. If he went back now to warn everybody, big sister might think that he abandoned Mira and have a grudge against him for a long time. Or just kill him on the spot for leaving her. Either way, he didn't like both scenarios.

"I don't have much of a choice, do I? I'm screwed both ways. I still end up dead by your sister's hands. That's not very comforting."

"I know it isn't but it's the only way. She would never let me do something alone. This is my chance to prove that I can do it."

Her eyes turned to pleading and he froze. She looked exactly like Sara when she did that. Who was this girl? Was she reading his mind and pulling out his biggest weakness?

"Don't do that!" He turned away from her.

"Do what?"

"You're acting exactly like my sister. Can you stop that?"

"I don't know what I'm doing that's creeping you out but I won't stop until you help me."

"Okay fine! I'll help. Just don't abuse it."

"Great!!" She wrapped her arms around his neck from behind.

"Now what do we do?"

"Be nice girl handed over." They both turned around and didn't find anybody.

"Was that the sprite?" Sage whispered.

"I think so."

"What are you talking about? You don't know?"

"I'm not sure. I don't know what they all look like, or sound like for that matter."

"Then how are we going to stop it?"

"If it is Wind, I don't know."

"This is just great."

"I'm beginning to see why Royda never lets me fight alone."

"Let's just forget about that and get away from here!" The wind started to pick up and he could feel something coming their way. He grabbed her waist and jumped out of the way as icicles whizzed by their heads and imbedded themselves in a tree.

"Wind or Water," Mira said.

"What?" He stopped and looked at her.

"It's either Wind or Water. But since we've already met Water, that had to be Wind."

"Okay. We've identified the enemy, now what?"

"Like I said, I don't know how to deal with Wind. I'm Earth oriented. If it flies, I can't do anything to it."

"Why didn't you tell me that before? Can we go call the others now?"

"Calling friends no need," the sprite said as she appeared before them. "Right now you I need." It held up its hands and from behind, frozen icicles came out of the dark and headed their way.

Sage was about to cover Mira when the girl stepped in front of him. She held up her hands in front of her and a stone wall and quickly came up from the ground. The icicles shattered against it but the wind still howled by them. They pressed against the wall, using it as a shield.

"You didn't tell me you could do that."

"I did the same thing to stop Royda and Hardrock's fight. Besides, this is about the only thing I can do against a Wind sprite."

"What else can you tell me about it?"

"It's been ages since I fought one and that was against the Fire sprite with my sister."

"Just tell me everything you know about it. Strengths, weaknesses, anything." The wall swayed a little and the top started to crumble down on them. He instinctively covered her head as they pressed closer to the wall.

"It's very weak on the ground. As long as it touches the ground, it'll grow weaker. In the air, it's unstoppable. It won't be a pretty sight if you challenge it while it hovers. The very air around you can betray you. One minute you're breathing air then the next you're out with carbon monoxide poisoning."

"How do I know when that's happening?" Something hard rammed into the wall.

"The sprite will become transparent for a fleeting second before it releases or takes away necessary components for breathing. With armor on, breathing wouldn't matter since you're protected."

"That's good to know." He changed into his armor as something rammed against the wall again. "Is that all?"

"I think so. If Kishin was here, she'll tell you all about it."

"Oh yeah, aren't the others supposed to be coming for us now?"

"I've been trying. I can't even get my sister. The sprite must be doing something."

Right then, the stone wall fell apart and came down around them. He pulled her away from under it and stood in front of her. The sprite looked down at them, a smug look in its face.

"No calling friends I said. Quietly you will come now!!" The green sprite's eyes glowed and the wind around them picked up.

"I don't like the looks of this," Sage said.

A tree behind it uprooted and floated. Snow was mixed with the wind as the tree was stripped of branches and leaves. The top of the tree pointed at Sage's chest. He would have moved but the snow that blew by them accumulated around their ankles, freezing them.

"Ronin my Empress does not need. Eliminate you I must."

The stripped tree floated higher and back to make sure it had momentum to skewer Halo. Sage used the pointed hilt of his sword to get Mira freed first. He didn't see the tree come but felt the rush.

"What are you...?" Mira started to say when she felt the air rush around them. Her feet were almost free but there was no time to free himself. At the last second, she pushed him back, moving him away from the line of the tree but her momentum carried her into its path. She tried hard to stop by leaning back as the tree's edges passed between them. the tree and her fell at the same time, lifeless.

"Mira!!" Sage scrambled for the girl. His feet stuck and he quickly started to chip away at the ice. He could see her not far from him. Her subarmor was gone but he couldn't tell if she was breathing or not.

"Earth Warrior dead is not. Tactic is stupid Ronin's. You die NOW!!" It landed, hand still raised, eyes still glowing.

Sage watched the sprite advance on their position. She was alive and that was a relief. The sprite almost disappeared from his view then came back. It did it again and he began to worry. What was it she said about sprites being transparent? Then it came rushing to him. He was being protected by his armor from whatever disaster the little thing could be doing. Concern clouded his eyes again as he wondered how this would affect Mira.

He reached for her hand as the space in front of him started to swim. A red stain had started to show on the shirt of her stomach but he had difficulty trying to focus on it. He shook his head to clear it before touching her. At the contact, time seemed to have stopped for Sage. Everything stopped or slowed down considerably, even the sprite but he was okay. He moved normally and slowly looked around him.

Everything was bright and alive to him all of a sudden. Trees glowed around him and he could hear things he couldn't before. The woods were alive with new sensations. As he looked at the sprite, its aura was nothing. He turned to Mira and found her aura slowly fading. Suddenly, he could hear her voice in his head.

Take it down, her voice said. Before I'm really weak to help you.

He nodded once, let go of her hand, and reached for his sword. His surroundings turned back into normal time and the sprite was almost on top of him before he could block. The heavy tree was across his sword but that didn't bother him. He pushed it back and it almost hit the sprite.

"Guts you have. You still will die!"

They clashed, him using his sword and her using an invisible shield. The sword bounced off the shield but he kept on. The sprite flipped backwards, catching his chin with her feet. He staggered back a little but caught himself. The sprite grew transparent again and wobbled uneasily on its legs. Sage looked back at Mira and turned on it.

"I've had enough of this." He held his sword straight up. "We'll finish this now! Thunder Bolt Cut!!"

Lightning struck around him as he jumped. Light energized the sword and he brought it down on the Wind sprite. She was paralyzed by the light and didn't have time to move out of the way. The energized sword came down on her and a scream was heard in the woods.


Royda and Kishin simultaneously looked up. There was lightning but no thunder. They had been up for most of the night, watching TV. Everybody would start to yell all at once and it was a miracle that neither Mia nor Anubis had gone downstairs to yell at them. It was even more of a miracle that the two girls had heard anything at all since they had let out a good whoop just then.

"Did you hear that?" Kishin asked as she turned to Royda.

"Yeah, what was that?"

"What was what?" Rowen asked.

"Did you hear anything? Outside of their yelling or course." Kishin turned to Rowen who was sitting on the floor.

"I could barely hear what you're saying." He turned to look at her. "What makes you think I heard anything?"

"I thought you did."

"That's enough." Both Kishin and Rowen looked at Royda. "Has anybody else noticed there's lightning going on outside?"

"Maybe not since they're counting down already." Rowen got up and helped Kishin to join everybody else near the front of the TV.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...Happy New Year!!"

The celebration was a bit more subdued that they would have wanted. The room was suddenly covered with confetti when Kento and Ryo threw it at the stroke of midnight. Cye would have joined in but Reva grabbed him and kissed him. Rowen and Kishin had kissed too but without much incident. The rest of them just looked and then started celebrating again. But for one, there was suddenly something very wrong.

"Everybody quiet!!" Royda demanded. The others fell silent and looked at her. She had her eyes closed and a hand on her forehead.

"Royda?" Kala asked. "Your headache worse?"

"Yes but that's not all. There's something else wrong." She shook her head.

"Look, why don't you go to sleep already?" Kishin suggested. "Maybe that's all you need."

Royda still sat there, holding her head and not looking at them. Ryo moved to turn the TV off and the whole house fell silent. The howling of the wind outside was all they could hear. Suddenly, Royda's head jerked up and her eyes flew open. Her head turned to the deck as if she saw something there.

"Mira?!" she shouted as she bolted off the couch and out the door. Her red subarmor appeared around her as she jumped off the deck.

"What the...?!" Kishin quickly followed her out there, calling on her dark-blue subarmor.

"No use in staying here," Reva told Kala as they called their subarmor, too.

With those two gone, the Ronins looked at each other. They all nodded and decided to follow along. There was something in the air that they couldn't place. Besides, where was Sage anyway?


The trees were turning dark again, just like right before he touched her. His sword fell from his hand into the snow and he soon followed. Slowly, he lifted his head as his armor disappeared. The sprite was lifeless just a few yards in front of him. He turned his hand and found Mira just as lifeless as before.

Cautiously, he started to make his way towards the girl. He couldn't figure out why he was so drained all of a sudden. The attack was a quick one and shouldn't have taken that much out of him. When he was facing off against the sprite, his power was okay if not greater than what it usually was. He shook his head to focus it and finally realized that it was freezing out there without a subarmor.

He reached Mira and found her barely breathing. She was pale against her blue-black hair and her lips had turned blue from the cold. The red stain on her stomach had already soaked it and was making the white snow crimson. He got to her head and held it in his hands.

"Mira?" he asked softly. "Answer me. Please?"

She moaned a little which made her cough. He quickly placed his hands on her stomach to steady her. She slowly opened her eyes and looked up at him. A small smile touched her blue lips.

"Did you get her?" she quietly asked.

"Yeah, I got her. But don't talk. You need to keep your strength."

"I know how the drill goes, Halo. I've been through this before."

"Yeah, right. You've had your stomach sliced open by a tree before."

"Maybe not a tree but I've had my stomach sliced before. Not an experience you'd want to go through once let alone twice. My sister got so mad at me when that happened, she couldn't see straight." Mira began to laugh as she recalled the image but ended up coughing again.

"Would you stop that?" Sage placed her hands on her stomach.

"Stop what?"

"This charade you're playing. You're trying to imitate your sister so much that you don't recognize the danger it's done to you. You're attempt to be like her is not working."

"So? At least I helped you destroy that sprite. She'll see that as something."

"What? You're not planning on staying or something?"

"Come on Halo, look at me. Do you seriously think I'll survive in this cold with this injury?" Her light blue eyes searched his gray ones.

"There you go again, trying to do the noble thing by dying. Do you have any idea what that would do to everybody?"

"It doesn't really matter does it? All I've ever wanted to do was make my sister proud. This is it. Tell her I left without at complaint."

"I said stop it." He grabbed her shoulder and pulled her up. "You are not your sister. You would never be her. You can actually feel and express emotion. She had a long way to get there."

"How would you know Halo?" Her eyes grew moist as he yelled at her. "I've always looked up to her. This is what she would have wanted."

"Is this what you wanted? To just conform to her? I'm not saying that your sister is wrong to think that way but do you have to follow?"

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I don't want you to end up like my sister." He gently placed her head on his shoulder. "She started to follow a friend a lot just a few weeks before Talpa attacked. Like you, she wanted to impress the other girl. She looked up to her too and would do anything she did. The last thing they did together was the last time my sister walked. I don't remember what happened and I don't care to remember but the other girl died and left Sara paralyzed from the waist down. Don't you see? There is a worst thing than dying if you follow this."

"That's why I stop now."

"Who said anything about letting you die? You're living so you can live your own life, not under your sister's shadow. I've had to deal with the after effects of that kind of relationship. I don't want to see another."

"You don't even know me Halo!" she shouted as she tried to pull away. "My sister is all I've got. There is nobody else!"

"You'll have me," he answered her quietly. She stopped struggling at what he said. "My sister had the same spirit that you have. She was so full of life and warmth but when that girl came along, she changed. Now, she's trying to get back to her old self. That was the thing that I liked about you. You embraced life but around your sister, you changed. You've changed so much that you're willing to die now to get her approval. She doesn't have to be the only person to care for you. There are others."

Snow started to fall around them and he sheltered her as much as he could. She had him even paler and he could tell that she was slipping. Her breathing had gotten weaker and he held her closer.

"My only memory of my parents were when I was around a year old." Her voice was barely audible to him. "We were camping in the woods with Kayura and Royda. Earlier that day, I had slipped on the ice and scrapped my knee. Okasan took care of it and held me in her warm embrace. The night went on and a blizzard was coming our way. The cave we had used was comfortable but still cold. We all huddled together, us three kids sandwiched between our parents. I remember Tousan telling us to not be afraid and that there are always people outside of family that would care for us. I guess he was right about that."

She grew quiet after that. After a few moments of silence, he pulled back from her a little and found her out. She was breathing, albeit very weakly, but she was alive. He tried called on his armor but couldn't quite do it. Suddenly, a sound off to his side made him look up. Flashes of red sent relief through Sage as help arrived.

Royda came out of the foliage and spotted Halo with her sister. She quickly got over to them and checked Mira. Her eyes got down to her stomach and found it redder than before. She looked up to the Ronin with questioning eyes.

"What happened here?"

"A sprite attacked us," Sage said as he released Mira. "I think it's dead."

She never looked away from him as she gathered her sister in her arms. There was no other foreign presence around them and that made her believe him more. What she couldn't understand was how come Mira and injured at all. That shouldn't have happened.

"Well, that's one less sprite to worry about," Kishin said as she appeared where they were. She knelt next to the heap not far away.

The others followed momentarily and stopped when they saw what was in front of them. Ryo and Kento went over to help Sage up. Rowen, Cye, and Reva looked at the remains of the fallen sprite. Kala went over to Royda and held one of Mira's hands.

Heat started to rise and melt the snow around them. Everybody turned to look at the three people still on the ground. Snow around them had already melted and you could see the ground. Steam was rising as everybody looked at the fallen girl.

"Kishin," Royda called out, not looking away from her sister. "Stop the snow."

The girl nodded then bowed her head. She concentrated for a few minutes then it seemed to take affect. The snow stopped and the sky cleared. A silent thank you rang through her head.

Slowly, color came back up to Mira's face and Sage was relieved. Kala let go of her hand as Royda carefully lifted her. They all made their way back to the house.


Mira slowly opened her eyes. There were a lot of people in her room and it was getting crowded. She raised her head and a sharp pain went up her side. Most everybody turned to her and found her awake.

"Hi guys," she said.

"It's about time you woke up," Kishin said as she walked up to her bed.

"Okay, everybody out," Reva directed. She pushed everybody as Mia went in.

"She awake?" Mia asked as she went to the other side of the bed.

"Yeah, I'm awake." Mira looked from Kishin to Mia. She was worried and a little relieved that her sister wasn't in the room with her. "Where's Royda?"

"She's downstairs," Kishin absently told her as she checked on her bandages. "She actually went to get something to eat, can you imagine that?"

"How long have I been out?"

"A couple of days. Longer if I wasn't helping. Longer still if Mia wasn't helping."

"How are you feeling?" The pregnant woman asked. She took a wrist and checked her pulse.

"Surprisingly good. A little sore though."

"I would imagine since you were out there for a long time freezing to death," Royda said from the door. "What were you doing out there?"

"I thought I saw something. I convinced Halo to come with me. I didn't know I would end up like this." Mira looked away from her sister, avoiding her eyes.

"Then why didn't you call for us?"

"I did, but something was wrong."

"Could have been your headache," Kishin told Royda. She nodded.

"Anything else you want to tell me?"

"No," Mira answered quietly.

Royda turned without another word. Mia looked at Kishin but the other girl could just shrug. She didn't know what was going through her leader's head either.

"Well, you seem okay," Kishin said. She patter Mira's shoulder. "You're healing quite nicely. I've got to do other things but don't hesitate to yell when you need me. Okay?"

"And me, too," Mia added. "We'll be downstairs. And if the others are quiet enough, we might all hear you."

Mira smiled at that and nodded. The meeting with her sister was a lot warmer than what she had expected. She expected her to just glare at her and give her the cold shoulder. Royda had even asked if there was anything else she wanted to tell her. Now that was weird. Mia and Kishin left the room and closed the door. Behind it stood Sage of the Halo.

"What are you doing here?" she asked him as he got closer to the bed.

"This was the only way I could check on you," he answered, looking around him first before sitting on the bed next to her.

"They wouldn't let you in?"

"No, Royda's been secretly hunting me. I had to hide."

"Sounds like something I would do."

"She didn't sound as mad as I thought she'd be."

"That's because she wasn't. Why exactly are you here?"

"I wanted to check on you myself. Why?"

"I don't know. After what I put you through a couple of nights ago, I thought you'd hate me."

"Hate you? Why would I hate you?"

"Come on Halo. I almost got you killed going up against that sprite. I almost got you frozen to death after that. Then I have signed your death warrant and your name is at the top of my sister's hit list. Should I give more reasons?"

"You really should talk to Sara," he said bemusedly.


"My sister. You two would get along great."

"Can you drop that for a second and let's get to the point here?"

"Okay. I did want to check on you. They were acting like that time Reva got hurt. They wouldn't let me in."


"Well, I wanted to talk about what I said out there. About being there for you."

"That's a dangerous promise to live up to Halo." She looked down at her hands.

"First off, call me Sage." He took her hand. "I'm not sure why I said that to you. There is something different about you. Something that makes me want to talk to you."

"You're telling me that you're shy around girls?" She looked up at him. "No way."

"Mia and my sister are about the only girls I talk to. Haven't you noticed that I don't talk to any of you guys?"

"That is true. But you don't strike me as that. Thought you'd have girls flocking you."

"I actually do but they never find me. Had a lot of practice on avoiding."

"Then why talk to me?"

"Like I said, you're different. Maybe it's because you act so much like my sister."

"Thanks but like I said before, that's a dangerous promise to live up to."

"And I'm up for it. I think my sister would be proud of me if I do that."

"Mine wouldn't be."

"Then she'll have to deal with that, right?"

"You're making more and more sense as you talk. If you say that you're up for it, then I'll be there with you."

"That's all I needed to hear." He leaned down and kissed her.

Unknown to them, a person was listening in on them just outside the door. Royda smiled at the exchange between her sister and the Ronin. At last, somebody worthy enough to take up her job. But she will have to play against him.

"This is just the beginning Halo," she whispered. "I'll be testing you from now on. Fail once and you're through. This is my sister we're talking about."

She turned to go downstairs and wait for him. There was no rest for the weary.