Author's Note: (1-12-12) It has been brought to my attention that this story has lost it's proper formatting somewhere through all the updates on this site. I will attempt to update the chapters one at a time so they won't look like massive blobs of text any more. I do not know how long that will take. In the mean time, this story can always be found on my Ronin Warrior site in the proper, readable format. You can find the link in my profile page.

Demons in the Doorway, Monsters Down the Hall

By: Ghost of the Dawn

Chapter One: Returning Home

"Kento, slow down! Kento! Please Kento! Kento, watch out for that-AHH!" The seat belt he wore was the only thing that kept Cye from hitting his head on the roof of the old jeep as Kento made it speed over a large bump. The strap stubbornly held his thin body in place as they were jerked and jounced around.

"You're going to get us killed you MORON!" Cye screamed before his face came inches away from smacking into the dashboard. But once again, the seat belt caught him in time, biting into the skin of his shoulder and leaving a small bruise there.

"Geez Cye, you're such a bawl baby. Where's your sense of fun?" Kento jeered as he flew over another nasty bump.

"Somewhere back there with my breakfast," Cye whimpered as he held onto the door for dear life. "And I am NOT a bawl baby," he added weakly.

Kento glanced as his best friend. He did look a little sickly. Reluctantly, Kento slowed the old vehicle down-but not much. He screeched back onto the main road which led up to their high school.

Ryo Sanada was sitting casually on top of one of the lunch tables outside. The warm morning breeze teased his thick, raven hair as the early rays of the sun danced in his burning blue eyes. He gazed around sullenly at the few students who were beginning to migrate to the school building. He hadn't meant to get there so early. His first hour teacher, Mrs. Tomiichi had called his grandmother the other night, expressing her "concern" for Ryo's constant tardiness to her class. Teachers were so nosy. And leave it up to Gram to turn ahead every clock in the house by twenty minutes to teach him a lesson. Ryo frowned, she was always doing sneaky things like that. If only once, he could beat her at her own game.

The heavy sound of a roaring engine made Ryo look up from his thoughts. He watched as the other students winced at the approaching sound. But Ryo just grinned, he knew what that noise meant. The ever increasing roaring was accompanied with high pitched squeals as a beat up old jeep pulled into the student parking lot. The sigh of relief from the student body as the engine was killed was almost too loud to ignore. Ryo picked up his bag and walked toward it.

Kento's jeep was an abused old piece of junk-grey green in color. The whole outside of the thing was filthy dirty. It was a wonder he could even see out of all the grunge that caked his windshield. Ryo had ridden in it before. The whole thing squeaked and whined like a tired child whenever you got in or tried to make it do anything. It looked so old and beat up it wouldn't have come as a surprise if the whole thing just suddenly fell apart one day.

But, ugly or not, it was Kento's baby. He had saved up money from working at his parents restaurant and from other jobs to afford it. Kento didn't care if the beast was missing a muffler (and about a hundred other things). None of his other friends owned a set of wheels, so somehow, he figured that made it special.

The passenger side door creaked open, spilling a few discarded pieces of garbage from inside along with a very shaken looking Cye. He crawled weakly out of the vehicle, making little puppy noises and clutching his bag. Kento, on the other hand, jumped out proudly, slamming the door back in place and making the jeep whine again at the treatment.

"Cye, are you okay?" Ryo asked with concern. He was looking a little more pale than usual.

"I am NOT riding with that MANIAC again as long as I live!" he bawled. "I thought we were going to die!"

Ryo looked at Kento with question in his eyes. The huskier boy just dismissed Cye's hysterics with a wave of his hand.

"We just took a short cut is all," he grumbled. "You'd think the little fish boy here could handle a few bumps."

"WHAT? Why I outta..."

"Hey, if it isn't the terror of the town!" Rowen called from a distance, which momentarily made Cye forget his current anger. The blue haired young man was walking with Sage like they did every morning, since they lived fairly close to each other.

"We could hear you coming clear down the block!"

"Honestly Kento," Sage then added. "Must you really insist on parading around in that thing? The noise pollution alone is bad enough. But that junk heap looks like it will fall apart any minute and it's such an eye sore."

" guys are just jealous because you don't have any wheels of your own," Kento huffed.

"If they're wheels like that, you can keep them," Rowen retorted.

"Shhh..." Kento berated, petting the jeep lovingly as if it could hear what was being said about it. "Keep it down guys, my baby's sensitive."

"Yeah, and it's also loud, dirty, dangerous..." Cye grinned.

"Hey!" Kento shot. "Watch it or I won't pick you up for school any more."

"Is that a promise," Cye snorted. "You wouldn't catch me dead in that horrible thing ever again."

The brown haired boy turned his back to Kento and sniffed indignantly. But what he couldn't see was that Kento was looking like he was going to wring his Cye's twig-like little neck. But the larger boy paused as a better idea dawned on him. Cye squeaked with protest as Kento suddenly grabbed his best friend by the back of the neck and shoved his face up his armpit. The smaller boy struggled the best he could to get away but he was no match for Kento's iron hard grip. Kento just laughed as he then moved his arm around the circumference of Cye's head and proceeded to bury his knuckles roughly into the brown-haired boy's scalp.

"Kento! Owe! Leggo!" Cye cried as his efforts to free himself proved in vain.

The bell rang and Kento finally loosened his grip enough for Cye to squirm out. Cye, in return, gave Kento a sour stare, his messed up brownish hair now sticking up all over the place.

Rowen tried hard to choke back a laugh. "Cye, you might want to check out a mirror before you head to class."

"Great," Cye mumbled as he hurried out of the parking lot and into the school, one hand on his head.

"I'll go help!" Kento volunteered as he started after his friend.

"You," Sage said, grabbing his collar. "Are coming to class with me."

"Ma-an! You guys never let me have any fun!" Kento whined has he was dragged away by his blonde haired companion.

"See ya later Rowen," Ryo called to the last member off the group. "I gotta go or I'll be sent up for being tardy again."

"Later," Rowen waved as he continued into the school at a more relaxed pace.

Ryo burst through the door of his first hour class just as the bell rang.

"Thank you for getting here on time, Mr. Sanada," Mrs. Tomiichi, his teacher, told him sternly.

Ryo shrugged weakly as some of the other students snickered. Even when arriving to school twenty minutes early he still had trouble making it on time. The fiery young man took his seat with a heavy sigh and ran his fingers through his wild, raven hair. What a way to start the morning.

"Now," Mrs. Tomiichi announced. "If you'll all follow me to the lab we'll begin with today's lesson."

All the students got up and moved to the back of the room to the lab which was actually composed of several large tables with sinks in the middle stationed on the title floor. The students, who had been assigned their lab partners the day previous, sat at their respective stations and got to work reading the instructions for their assignment.

Nothing too hard, Ryo thought. They were merely supposed to light the Bunsen burners and determine the boiling points of a few different liquids placed on the tables to use at their disposal. Piece of cake. Ryo donned the required protective eye gear and he and his lab partner got to work.

All was going well so far. Kami, a soft spoken girl with glasses and short dark hair was working with Ryo. They has set the first liquid, a yellowish syrupy substance, into the beaker and were now letting it heat over the burner. Kami turned her attention to the work sheet and was writing down all their data while Ryo stirred the thermometer in the beaker with little interest.

But Ryo's attention was soon captured when he noticed the principal walk in. He was accompanied by a teenage girl Ryo had never seen before. She had light skin and thin, unkept red hair sprouting from her head. Thin strands of it fell haphazardly over large, green eyes and the rest hung lifelessly down her back. She wore loose jeans, dirty grey sneakers and a purple top. A dark blue sweater was tied loosely around her hips which matched the color of the worn, blue book bag she had hanging from her shoulder.

The girl didn't seem particularly thrilled to be there as she stood her distance from the adults. As the two authority figures talked, she took the time to let her eyes wander around the room. She watched all the other students doing their assignments, her eyes not stopping to settle on anyone in particular. Ryo noticed then just how pale her complexion really was. She was quite thin, her clothes all but hanging off her- almost malnourished. Her pasty white face looked as if she was still recuperating from some kind of illness. To sum up, she didn't look at all as healthy as a normal teenager should.

Ryo tried to make it seem like he wasn't looking at her by only stealing quick glances and watching from the corner of his eye. She stood and fidgeted while the principal talked with his teacher. The girl was a new student no doubt. Possibly even an exchange student at that, since she didn't look like she came from any place local.

"Ryo, did you bring a calculator?" Kami asked softly.

"Huh?" Ryo asked as he was brought from his thoughts. "Oh yeah, hold on."

He went to retrieve his backpack, only to forget that he was still stirring the now bubbling liquid. The sudden movement of his hand caught on the protruding thermometer and dumped the beaker and its contents over. It seemed like from then on, everything was moving in fast forward. Ryo couldn't really explain what had happened, except that suddenly everything was on fire.

Kami screamed and grabbed her precious books before retreating from the blaze where flames were now lapping at the ceiling. Mrs. Tomiichi screamed as well and ran for the fire extinguisher at the back of the room. The rest of the students were watching the fire dumbly, including Ryo. The flames danced seductively over his face, as if inviting him to come join in their fun. He did not even realize how close to the inferno he was standing until his teacher pulled him away.

"Ryo! Get back!" she ordered as she quickly put the flames out.

The room went dead silent as everyone stared at the foam covered mess that used to be a chemistry lab.

"Mr. Sanada," the booming voice of the principal's broke the quiet. "Come with me please."

Ryo groaned inwardly. He turned, knowing all eyes were on him now and, with a feeling of dread, followed the principal out the door. Nice going Wildfire! Now how am I going to get out of this one?

The bell sounded at noon for lunch and all the students rushed out of class to eat. Cye and Ryo were walking together out the door, lunch bags hanging from their hands. The sun was shining warm and bright as they stepped out onto the grass. It was too nice a day to eat inside.

"Aw man, Gram packed me the same 'ol thing again," Ryo whined as he pulled out a soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "Doesn't she ever get tired of making these? I sure get tired of eating them."

"If you're so tired of it, then why don't you start making your own lunch in the morning Ryo?" Cye questioned pragmatically.

"Because ...I've got better things to do," Ryo defended.

"Plus you're lazy," Cye muttered.


The loud and excited female voice calling his name was as unmistakable as it was unfamiliar. The brown haired teen turned around, wondering who had called when he was plowed over by some unknown, but still very solid force.

Ryo stood aside as he watched his friend get tackled. Before either of them knew it, Cye was laying in the grass on his back with a light skinned, red haired girl sitting on his chest. Before the boys could react, the intruder began talking up a whirl wind in an excited voice.

"Cye, did you miss me? Say yes! Why wouldn't you miss me? I mean, we only haven't seen each other for years and years and it took me forever to find you again and I just barely got here and I've been hunting for you all day and I was beginning to think I was at the wrong school but here you are and here I am and were back together again and it's unbelievable!"

She paused to take a breath and added in a slower, calmer voice. "So, how have you been?"

Cye looked at her for a long time before shaking his head, looking very lost. "Who are you?" he asked.

"WHAT?" the girl climbed off him and stood up. "I can't believe you don't remember me even though I can still pick you out of a crowd by the back of your head."

She grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. "Cye, it's me. Remember when we were kids?"

Cye studied her hopeful face hard. That scraggly red hair, those high cheek bones, that pointed chin and nose. Nothing, but perhaps a small tickle at the back of his memory. It was her large green eyes, like two limpid pools, that brought everything back in a heartbeat.

"Robyn?" he asked with a not so steady voice.

The girl nodded and bit her lip, trying to tame the grand smile that threatened to over come her face.

"Wow Robyn, is it really you?" Cye breathed in awe. "How on Earth did you-"

"Uh, uh, uh," Robyn wagged a finger at him, cutting him off. "No asking questions until I get a hug." She promptly flung her arms around his neck.

Cye seemed more than happy to return the embrace as he put his arms around her and hugged her tightly. After a moment, he pulled away from her and held her at arms length to get a good look at this once familiar stranger.

"Wow Robyn, I-I can't believe it's you!" Cye stumbled for words. "Look at you! You're...old!"

Robyn snorted. "Gee, thanks a bunch Cye."

"No, I didn't mean that! I mean, you're so different from the way I remembered you."

"Well, you look different, too. Still need a haircut, though," Robyn added playfully as she mussed up his thick mane of hair.

Ryo, who had been watching all this patiently, now wanted to know what was going on. He cleared his throat to get their attention. Cye, who only now seemed to notice him for the first time, finally let go of his female companion and addressed his friend.

"Ryo, this is Robyn, an old friend of mine. We were kids together. Robyn, this is my friend Ryo Sanada."

The girl now established as Robyn took a step towards Ryo to inspect this new friend. He had a gentle face with deep, almost animalistic blue eyes. His wild, black hair was combed, yet still looked untamed. "Right, Pyro-Boy," she grinned at him.

Ryo rubbed the back of his neck as embarrassment suddenly rushed through him. "You saw that, huh?"

"Saw what? What happened?" Cye wanted to know.

"You're friend here attempted to burn down the chemistry lab," Robyn explained with a laugh. But she sobered a little as she turned back to Ryo. "You didn't get burned or anything did you? It looked like you were standing really close to that fire."

"Nah, I'm okay. At least until my grandma finds out what happened."

Robyn gave him a sympathetic look.

"Hey, there you guys are," Kento called loudly as he approached. "I've been looking all over for you. Why didn't you tell me you were going to eat outside?"

Robyn turned as the new boy approached. He was totally opposite what Ryo was. He had a round, boyish face with dark eyes that sparkled with youth. His greyish blue hair was swept out of his face by a head band. He was bulkier than the other two boys. But from what Robyn could see with the thick arms protruding from his T-shirt, a lot of it was muscle.

"We thought you were smart enough to figure it out on your own, guess I was wrong," Cye quipped without even stopping to think of the consequences. By now, belittling everything Kento said was more of a second nature to him.

Before he knew it, Cye was hanging by the front of his shirt like he often did after making similar comments.

"Hey, you wanna repeat of this morning, Fish Boy?"

Robyn was looking more than a little alarmed as the larger boy brandished his fist threateningly in Cye's face. Ryo touched her shoulder to calm her anxiety.

"Don't worry, they're like this all the time."

Kento, at last, noticed the girl Ryo was talking to and dropped Cye, his anger suddenly forgotten. He turned to look at her as a bright smile appeared on his face.

"And who is this?"

Robyn was beginning to understand Kento and Cye's antics and stepped forward smiling. "Hi, I'm Robyn. I'm an old friend of Cye's."

Kento grinned and shook her hand energetically. "I'm Cye's best friend Kento. I hope ya know I'd never hurt the guy. He just needs to be ruffed up every now and again."

"I can see that," Robyn laughed. He looked like he could crush her hand without even a thought, but his grip was gentle. "So this is nice, old best friend meets new best friend."

Cye was giving Kento a crooked frown as he straightened up his shirt and tucked it back in. Kento was still heartily shaking Robyn's hand as if he had never touched a girl in his life.

"Ahem," Cye said, turning the attention back over to himself. "Do you guys mind going on without me? Robyn and I have got some catching up to do."

Robyn snorted. "Now there's the understatement of the week."

Kento looked at Robyn, reluctantly releasing her hand, and then at Cye. "Gee, I dunno. I'd kinda like to-"

"Sure we could," Ryo cut in, grabbing Kento by the arm. "We'll catch ya later, okay Cye? It was nice meeting you Robyn." Kento resisted only slightly as he was pulled away.

Robyn waved as they left. "Well, it's nice to know you've finally made *some* friends," she laughed and elbowed him playfully in the side. "They seem really nice, too. Not too bad looking either," she added as an after thought.

Cye laughed. "Did you come looking for me or looking for a date?"

"Hey, as long as I'm here, I might as well check out the scenery."

"In that case, you'll want to meet my friend Sage. All the girls in this school worship him."

"You mean Sage Date?" Robyn asked.

"Yeah, that's him. Have you met him already?"

"No, but there was all these girls talking about him last hour like he was their personal gift from the gods." Robyn batted her eye lashes and raised the pitch of her voice in mock infatuation. "Oh, Sage Date." She paused to give a high, girlish sigh. "He's so fine. Sage is so sexy. I just want him in that shirt he's wearing you know. I wish Sage would-"

She paused when she noticed the odd look Cye was giving her.

"The guy's standing right behind me, huh?"

Cye gave a tight, apologetic smile and nodded.

"Oh boy," Robyn breathed as she turned around to face her fate. "Hi there." She smiled sweet but guiltily at the young man standing behind her. He was at least a head taller than she with thick, blonde hair that fell over his right eye while the other eye, Robyn noticed, was an unnatural shade of grey violet. "I hope you weren't offended by my little melodrama there."

Sage regarded her placidly. A tight, not completely sincere smile on his face. "Not at all. In fact, I found it quite entertaining."

Robyn laughed nervously and fidgeted under his gaze.

"Oh, in case you're wondering, I'm Cye's friend Robyn." She held out her hand to him in a form of greeting.

Sage only nodded in her direction and addressed Cye. "Have you seen Ryo?"

"Over there," Cye jerked a thumb to where Ryo and Kento were eating lunch under a tree. Sage nodded again and walked away.

"Well, that was nice," Robyn commented as she watched him leave. "I can see why all the girls are ga-ga over him. He's cute. Needs a personality though. But still," She cocked her head to the side. "He's got a nice butt."

Cye made a sound of disapproval and covered her eyes with one hand.

"Cye, what are you doing?" the now blind Robyn heard a new voice ask.

"Hello disembodied voice," she chirped.

"Hey Rowen," Cye greeted.

"Otherwise known as Rowen."

Cye removed his hand so Robyn could see the owner of this new voice known as Rowen. He was the tallest of boys Robyn had met. He had these amazing crystalline blue eyes with, oddly enough, blue hair to match which fell carelessly over his eyes. His face looked calm and collected. It wasn't detached like Sage, but more thoughtful.

"Rowen, this is Robyn. We were friends growing up."

Rowen regarded the fair skinned girl curiously. "Wh-"

"Look, can you just go eat with the others and we'll answer questions later?" Cye pleaded.

Rowen looked from one to the other as he mulled over the proposition. "Yeah, I can do that. I'll see you later."

Cye gave out a long, flustered breath.

"So, was that _The Gang_?" Robyn asked playfully. "Aren't you glad this kind of thing doesn't happen every day?"

"I'd never get anything done," Cye shook his head. Already he was beginning to dread the flood of questions he would be asked later on. "So fill me in Robyn, just how exactly did you manage to get here and, more importantly, how did you find me?"

"Lunch first," Robyn stated. She walked over to the nearest empty table and sat down. Cye sat across from her. "So where's your lunch?" she asked as she started digging through her backpack.

"Well, I used to have one. But I lost it when this large truck with the license plate R-O-B-Y-N hit me." Cye gazed ruefully at the spilled lunch scattered on the grass.

"Oh, sorry," Robyn said guiltily. "I'll share my lunch with you then." She produced a sandwich wrapped in plastic. "Want half? It's tuna fish."

Cye winced. "No thanks. I've got this...thing about sea food."

"You sure? It's dolphin friendly even." She waved it under his nose as if that would change his mind but it only seemed to make Cye's face go pale.

"I'm positive," Cye swallowed as he pushed the sandwich away from him. "Do you have anything else?"

"Let's see..." Robyn rooted around in her backpack some more and produced two more objects. "Just an apple and a Snickers bar. You want?"

"Sold," Cye agreed as he took them and bit into the apple. He chewed the bite and swallowed before talking. "Okay Robyn, now that there are no more interruptions, tell me what's going on."

Robyn chewed on her sandwich thoughtfully, gathering her thoughts. She swallowed and ran her tongue over her front teeth. "I really don't know where to start," she admitted.

"Well, how'd you get here?" Cye offered.


"When did you get here?"

"Just this morning. I was a little late to first hour."

"So you're actually going to school here now?" Cye asked.

"Yeah," Robyn grinned. "Kinda hard to believe, huh?"

"I've been finding this who ordeal pretty unbelievable," Cye admitted.

"Same here. It was your mom you got me all set up, actually." Robyn shook her head. "That woman is amazing. Just when I think I've seen it all, I run into some guy back in the States who says he knows her and that she's been looking for me. And before I know it, I'm saving up for a plane ride to Japan."

Cye took another bite and chewed slowly, letting it all sink in. He had to smile at the persistence of his mother. She was, indeed, quite amazing. He remembered when Robyn had moved away. She had been like part of the family then. It tore them both up to loose her. He should have known that his mother would have never considered the family whole again until they had gotten Robyn back.

"So, you're staying with...?" Cye wondered.

"You guys, of course," Robyn grinned. "Sorry you weren't let in on the plans earlier, but your mom wanted it to be a surprise. So...surprise!"

Cye laughed. "The best surprise I've had in a while, that's for sure."

Robyn just grinned that large, childish grin of hers with eyes squinted and her nose scrunched up. Cye couldn't help but grin back. Now that was a smile he remembered. Robyn had finished her sandwich and Cye was now moving onto the candy bar when the bell rang.

"Torture time again," Robyn sighed as she watched the other students get up and start heading for their classes.

"Your day hasn't been that bad, has it?" Cye asked as he got up.

Robyn shrugged. "Nah, not really. But school can only get so good, ya know?" She gathered up her book bag as they started off for the school building.

"Cye, hold up," Kento called as he jogged up to them. He and Cye shared their fifth period class so they always walked together after lunch. "Hi again," he waved to Robyn.

"Hey," she grinned back and then turned to Cye. "I'd better go. My next class is clear on the other side of campus."

"Okay. If I don't see you again, wait for me in front after school."

"Will do," Robyn called as she headed off at a quickened pace.

Kento watched her retreating backside intently as she skittered off. This day was getting more interesting by the minute.

"So..." Kento said slyly when the girl was out of sight.

"So what?" Cye asked, a bit annoyed at the look on his friend's face.

"Who's this girl you were talking to? What's her story? Where'd she come from?"

Cye could instantly tell what kind of information Kento was probing for. He chose his words very carefully as he explained.

"She's an old friend of the family. Apparently she's moving in with us and going to school here."

Kento frowned, that wasn't exactly the kind of reply he was looking for. He tried again.

"So what's the story between you guys then? Do you like her or what?"

Cye opened his mouth to belt out some loud protest but then shut it again. "I don't have to tell you. Besides, that's none of your business."

Kento paused for a moment as Cye picked up the pace. "We'll see about that," Kento smirked before following after him.

Robyn found herself getting along pretty good in her new school as the day dragged on. But by seventh hour, she was feeling the affects of the single sandwich lunch she had. With stomach growling, she took the short break before the last period to hunt down a vending machine. She was so hungry, Robyn thought she was going to cry when the snack food of her choice decided to get stuck.

"Ah man!" she whined as she hit her head on the glass. "I just wanted some chips! Is that so much to ask?"

"Apparently," came a male voice subtly laced with humor.

Robyn looked up to see the blonde young man with the violet eyes she had momentarily met earlier. He had his hands shoved in his pockets and a small smile on his face. Robyn returned it with her own crooked grin.

"So, ya going to offer me a little assistance then?"

Sage calmly placed both hands on the side of the vending machine and gave it a shove. It was strong enough to push the thing back on two legs before letting it fall back down again. That was enough to jerk the small bag of chips loose and it fell to the bottom of the machine.

"Woo hoo!" Robyn whooped as she bent over to retrieve her prize. "Yes! Chips chips chips chips! Food of the gods. Thanks!" She then tore the bag open and stuffed a whole chip in her mouth.

"Anytime," Sage nodded and continued down the hall at a leisurely pace, hands shoved back into his pockets.

Robyn grinned at his retreating backside before turning and heading to her own class. Maybe this Sage wasn't that bad after all. And she still thought he had a nice butt. The young redhead hadn't gotten far when a group of about four girls suddenly appeared in front of her, blocking her path.

"Hey, we saw what you were doing," growled the tallest girl who was obviously the ring leader of the bunch. She had long, straight black hair and dark, slanted eyes. Her beautiful, flawless face was marred by a hateful sneer.

"What?" Robyn wondered innocently. "What was I doing?"

"Don't act cute with me!" The girl shoved her shoulder to show she wasn't kidding around. "I saw you at lunch and just barely down the hall. You stay away from Sage, he's mine!"

"Oh, he's your boyfriend then?" Robyn asked.

The girl was silent for a moment, as well as her friends. Sage wasn't, in all actuality, anyone's boyfriend. But he had taken her out once before and she had made sure the whole school knew it. She was sure it would only be a matter of time before they would make their relationship official.

"Just stay away from him!" the girl spat. "Not that I'm intimidated by some little foreigner like you. But you'd just better watch your back."

Robyn gave them an odd look as the girls swaggered off, laughing.

"Okaaaayyyy..." Robyn said to herself as she continued off to class.

The rest of her journey remained unprovoked as she reached the desired room and plopped heavily in her chair. She mildly nibbled on a chip as the earlier scene played in her head. She didn't even notice the black haired boy sit down next to her until he tapped her on the shoulder.

"Hey," the boy greeted her when she finally noticed him.

"Oh hi," Robyn grinned at the familiar face. "Ryo, right?"

"Yep. Looks like we have a class together."

"Cool. Wanna chip?" she offered the half eaten bag to him.

"Sure!" Ryo eagerly reached for the bag.

"Hey you two, no food in the classrooms," the teacher warned.

Robyn hid the bag under her desk lightning quick and the two tried their best to look innocent.

"Hey Ryo," Robyn whispered after a moment. "Do you know of a girl in this school with straight dark hair, kinda tall, bossy. Walks around with a buncha little wannabes following her around?"

"Miniko Hino," Ryo nodded. "You already had a run in with her, huh?"

Robyn frowned crookedly and nodded.

"She thinks she owns the school but she's really nothing but a snob."

"I think she's got it in for me," Robyn confided as she slipped Ryo a chip under the desk.

Ryo just shrugged as he popped the chip in his mouth. "I wouldn't worry about her, she's all talk."

"I said no food!"

Robyn finally put her chips away as she looked up at the teacher with awe. The thin old woman in the front sitting at her desk wasn't even looking at them.

"How does she do that?" she marveled.

Ryo just shrugged his shoulders and grinned.

At long last, the final bell rang, signaling the end of the day. Cye, Kento, and Sage were already waiting outside when Ryo and Robyn walked out together.

"Hey guys," Kento waved as they approached.

"Hey," Robyn replied as she covered a huge yawn.

"Tired?" Cye grinned.

"I think the jet lag's getting to me," she admitted as she rubbed her face in a gesture of fatigue. "Are we ready to go yet? I'm about to crash."

"Not yet, we're still waiting for Rowen," Ryo said.

"Mmm, then wake me when we're leaving," Robyn mumbled. She leaned her forehead against Cye's shoulder and tried to go to sleep.

"And there's the little book worm now," Kento grinned as Rowen, true to the title, walked up with his nose stuck in a book.

Robyn made a small whine of protest as Cye started to move.

"Come on sleepy head," he said as he put and arm around her shoulders and pulled her with him.

"So, ya want a ride home Cye?" Kento asked as he twirled his keys around his finger.

"Hey, I'd like t-"

Cye quickly put his hand over Robyn's mouth. "No thanks Kento. I've had my life flash before my eyes enough for one day. We'll take the subway home."

"The subway!" Robyn whined. "I don't wanna take no stinking subway! Come on Cye!"

"Yeah, come on Cye," Kento said, mimicking Robyn's tone.

Cye just shook his head and looked to the sky as if asking the heavens what he had done that was so bad to deserve this. He looked back down at both their hopeful faces.

"Puh-lease?" Robyn begged as she tugged at his arm.

Cye looked into her eyes and his will melted. Somehow he just couldn't say no to that look.

"Fine," he grumbled.

"Oh! Hey Cye," Ryo suddenly called as they started off for the parking lot. "I just remembered, you left your jacket at my place the other night. You wanna go get it real quick or can it wait until tomorrow?"

Cye paused as he remembered the forgotten item. He had received quite a tongue lashing from his mother the previous night for forgetting it. It was a new jacket and a very expensive one at that. He had to go get it sometime. He knew from experience that he could never count on Ryo to remember to bring it to school with him. Not if he wanted to see his jacket within the next month.

"I should probably go get it," he decided.

" no ride then?" Robyn asked.

"I wish I could wait for you guys," Kento lamented. "But I promised Ma I'd help out at the restaurant right after school. And you know how she gets when I'm late for something like that."

Cye nodded with a grin. "Well, at least we'll be able to live for another day."

"Not if you stay on the sidewalks," Rowen suddenly spoke up. "I've seen how this guy drives. It's scary."

Robyn laughed as Kento suddenly turned on the blue haired youth.

"Just keep pushing it twinkle toes and you'll be making those comments out of the other side of your face!"

"Oh grow up you two," Sage admonished as he tugged on Rowen's sleeve. "Come on or we'll miss our ride as well." He motioned with his head to the car parked outside the school. It was Sage's dad. He usually picked the two boys up every Tuesday on his way to the family dojo where the two boys had their martial arts lessons taught by Mr. Date himself.

"Later guys," Rowen called as he and Sage trotted off to the car.

"I had better head out, too," Kento announced as they drove away. "Good luck with the subway, see if I offer you a ride again."

Cye just smirked at his retreating friend. He knew all this threats were in good nature. Kento would be in front of his house the next morning, ready to give him another terrifying ride to school.

Robyn's expression was just the opposite as she glared at her long time friend. "We have to take the subway now, don't we?"

"You'll live," Cye grinned.

The remaining three walked to Ryo's house. He was the only one who lived within walking distance of the school. Robyn moved with slow, heavy steps as she fought to stay awake while the boys' foot steps were faster and more alert. The Sanada residence was a small, cheerful two story house with a little yard in the front and a white fence surrounding it. What was not apparent at first sight was that the back yard of the place was much, much larger than the front. Perfect for boys to play in-especially those who owned the kind of pet Ryo did.

The trio passed through the tiny gate and up the walkway to the porch.

"Stay right here and I'll get it," Ryo called as he dashed into the house.

Cye and Robyn stayed by the front door and waited. The later yawned again and leaned tiredly against the wall of the house. Cye rocked back on his heels, hands in his pockets as he waited. Neither of them noticed the large white tiger as it calmly strolled up to them from the back yard.

Ryo was digging through his room, wondering where he had put that jacket of Cye's. He was sure he saw it somewhere. But his room was so messy it was impossible to find anything. And Ryo flinging his stuff around was only making the mess even worse. He stood up straight after he had thoroughly combed the room. Where could it be? Ryo mentally slapped himself when he finally saw the jacket hanging neatly on the doorknob. He had put it there that morning it hopes he wouldn't forget it. Ryo snatched up the jacket and jumped when he heard a shrill cry from somewhere outside.

"Uh oh, sounds like Robyn just met White Blaze," he said to himself as he hurried out of the room.

He dashed down the hall and out the door to come to her aid. But instead of seeing a fear stricken girl like he expected, he saw a calm looking Cye still waiting for him in the doorway. Ryo hastily handed him his jacket and looked around.

"Where's Robyn? White Blaze didn't scare her did he?"

Cye grinned and tossed his head off to the side.

"Oh, you're just a handsome boy, yes you are," Robyn was baby talking the large animal as she rubbed the base of his ears roughly. "I could just hug you all day long. You're just so beautiful. I want to take you home with me, yes I do."

White Blaze purred at the praise and attention. He butted his massive head affectionately against Robyn's shoulder whose small weight was easily pushed over by the tiger's heavier one. She laughed as she fell on the grass and scratched White Blaze around the neck.

"Ryo, you are so lucky! What do you call him?"

"This is White Blaze," Ryo grinned. "I was worried he might have scared you."

"Him scare me? Nah! He's just a big pussy cat." Robyn buried her face in White Blaze's chest fur and happily listened to the dull, deep thrumming of the tiger's purr.

Cye shook his head. "She's always had a thing for cats ever since I've known her."

"And how long is that?" Ryo asked.

"A long time," Cye responded quietly. For the moment he had a far off look in his eyes, but he quickly shook himself back to reality. "I'm going to have a heck of a time pulling her away."

They both glanced back at Robyn who was snuggled against White Blade's side and trying to go to sleep. Cye smiled and shook his head as he approached her.

"Come on Robyn, time to go home," he called sweetly to her.

Robyn moaned and snuggled closer to the warm tiger fur. "Just a few more minutes," she mumbled.

"Get up," Cye said relentlessly as he grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet.

Robyn whined in protest but tiredly stood up.

"Come on, I'll give you a ride to the subway station."

Robyn perked up momentarily to jump on Cye's back. Ryo waved to them as they left with Robyn riding Cye piggy-back style down the sidewalk.

Later that evening, Cye found himself in the kitchen with the phone to his ear. Kento was on the other line.

"Right now?" Cye was asking the phone. "Yeah, I can come...Bring Robyn? No, she can't make it. Yeah, she crashed the second we got home." Cye smiled as he peeked in on the sleeping girl who was sprawled out on the couch in the other room. "Yeah, I'll be there in a little while. Bye Kento."

Cye put down the phone and turned to his mother who was cleaning up from dinner.

"Kento's inviting the guys over to his house. Knowing him it's probably just to eat junk food and play video games."

"Alright," Mrs. Mouri replied calmly. "Just be back before it gets too late."

"Okay, bye," Cye grinned and ran out the door.

True to Cye's estimates, eating junk food and playing video games was exactly what the team ended up doing. Ryo and Cye were sitting on the floor and duking it out on an old ninja fighting game Kento had. Sage was sitting on the couch and idly watching the death match on the screen. Rowen sat next to him, skimming through his school notes while he waited his turn. Kento came in with a tray holding a bowl of chips and drinks for everyone.

"Don't forget, I play the winner," he announced as he set the tray down on the small coffee table.

Sage and Rowen both started on the chips while Cye and Ryo, still engulfed in their fight, hardly noticed it was there. Both pairs of eyes were glued to the TV as their choice warriors spun and jumped and kicked all over the screen. Ryo's warrior was a well muscled shirtless ninja wearing only black gui pants, brandishing two long katanas and several scars over his broad chest. Cye's player was a scantily clad woman dressed in deep purples and a mask over her face. She ducked and jumped elegantly as Cye made her retaliate with the long, metal claws she had on her knuckles. The battle was heated and close. But in the end, Cye won.

"HA!" Cye called in triumph. "I guess all those late night slug fests at Kento's are paying off."

"Hey Ryo, you just got beat by a girl," Rowen snickered.

Ryo gave him a dirty look as he gave up his seat in front of the controller for the next opponent.

"Speaking of girls," Sage suddenly spoke. "Just who was that girl you were hanging around with today Cye?"

"You'd like to know, wouldn't you Sage?" Kento grumbled as he fished out a handful of chips for himself. "You won't rest until every girl in school is following you around like a dog on a leash."

Sage stared coldly at him with his one visible eye. It wasn't his fault girls swooned over him where ever he went. And he wasn't proud about it either. If only Kento understood. There were so many days he wished that, just once, he could walk down the halls in peace without being mobbed by Miniko and her friends or any other group of the usual giggling air heads. But like everyone else, he had learned to deal with what he'd been given and be tolerant of his "gifts".

"I was kind of curious about her myself," Rowen spoke up in Sage's defense. "You've never mentioned her before. Who is she? Where did she come from?"

Cye didn't look at them and just kept staring at the TV. "Well, she was born here. But she had to move away."

It was such a simple answer. But the others could tell right away that the story behind it was far more complex. Cye shifted a little and the other warriors could feel then tension slowly starting to rise from the subject. It seemed that Cye was wrestling with emotions from within himself as what to say next.

"We were just kids then. But she was my best friend. I never thought I'd see her again."

The quietness of his voice left the room sounding dead and hollow. The group sat in an uncomfortable silence before Ryo decided to break it.

"So, who's up next?" he called brightly.

"ME!" Kento pounced on the controller with a piece of licorice hanging out of his mouth. He quickly picked a mean looking, hulk-like bald guy to be his player and the battle was on. The deep feeling in the room seemed to raise instantly as Cye immediately went back to his old, cheerful self and began to play.

The tournament was played best out of three rounds. Cye continued with the same player he had chosen before as they faced off. Both boys were masters of the game and the battle soon erupted into an impressive display of super attacks and blocks at high speeds. Cye had won the first round, but not by much.

I'll throw him for a loop this next time. Kento thought determinedly. He had a plan to disrupt Cye's concentration and he was going to use it.

The second match started and the two players were soon at it again.

"So what's the deal with you and this Robyn girl now?" Kento asked as they played.

"What do you mean?" Cye never moved his eyes from the game as he spoke.

"Well, she pops in suddenly out of nowhere and you just welcome her in with open arms. And don't try to deny it because I saw how you were acting around her-all touchy feely. And you've been acting weird all day. Like something's been getting to ya. Maybe cupid's arrow, hmm?"

Kento could see out of the corner of his eye Cye's face harden as he teased. This only spurned him on in his chiding. His grin grew wider as he went in for the kill.

"So how about it Cye? Are you in loooove?"

That was enough to do it. Cye's expression darkened considerably in an instant. He didn't move or speak as the large words on the screen announced that Kento had won the second match. Kento could sense Cye's mood change but he kept smiling. He looked over at Cye who refused to return his gaze and simply pressed the button to start the last match. Thinking that he had gotten Cye so riled up to play right, Kento only returned about half his attention to the game. But it was over so fast, Kento hardly had the time to realize Cye had beaten him.

Cye made nary a comment about his victory as he snapped his head around to glare at the other three boys on the couch.

"Who's next?" he growled dangerously.

Rowen, Ryo, and Sage didn't answer, for the look on his face suddenly took away any thoughts they had of challenging him.

The house was nearly dark when Cye returned home. He walked in to find his mother sitting on the couch reading. Cye went up and stood behind her and leaned over her shoulder.

"I'm back," he said in a quiet voice.

Mrs. Mouri put down her book and smiled at him. "Have a good time?"

Cye smiled, though this time, it wasn't completely sincere. He wasn't about to mention the way he had uncharacteristically snapped at all his friends and just about scared them to death with his attitude. Cye still wasn't sure why he did it himself.

"Don't I always?" He paused and looked around the room. "Where's Robyn?"

Mrs. Mouri took this time to go back to her book. "I finally got her to stay awake long enough to get off the couch and sleep in the guest room."

Cye stood up straight and headed for the stairs.

"And don't you dare wake her up," his mother warned.

Cye nodded with a smile and continued up to his room. He reached his door but his gazed continued further down the hall to the guestroom whose door was open slightly. He softly crept up to it and peeked inside. The gentle light from the hallway fell on the sleeping form, her face half buried under the thick, colorful quilt.

He stayed momentarily, leaning against the door frame and watching her sleep. He smiled softly as he remembered those times many years ago when they were kids together. The thought brought back many great memories to him, and some that were not so great. He remembered when Robyn had to leave Japan. How guilty he felt, like he was just giving up on her and letting her go. It had left a void in his very soul that could never be filled. He remembered how for weeks, even months, afterwards he had wondered how he would ever get along without her. But now, at long last, he had her back. And this time, he didn't plan on letting her go so easily.

Cye shook himself when he realized how long he had been standing there and how he needed to get to bed himself. One last look at the sleeping girl and he turned to head out.

"Cye?" a soft voice asked from the darkness.

Cye turned around and leaned against the door frame once again. "Yeah?" he asked quietly.

"Are you glad I came?"

Cye gave a small, reminiscent smile. He recognized that hesitant, self doubting voice from the one he heard often long ago. He slowly walked into the room and sat down at the foot of her bed. He looked into her large, green eyes which watched him intently.

"Robyn, we've been apart so long. How could I not be happy to see you?"

"That's just it," her voice was small in reply. "It has been so long. I worried that you had this bigger, better life now. That you had all these plans and that I would just come and mess them up. And I worried..." she paused and added even quieter. "I worried that you would have forgotten."

Cye breathed out and slumped his shoulders, looking down at his shoes. "I would have never forgotten Robyn. And you were always welcome here, no matter when it was you decided to come. We-I've missed you."

"Me, too." Her voice was hardly a whisper now.

The two sat in silence for a moment until Cye spoke again.

"So, what did you think of my friends?"

Robyn shifted under the covers, rolling over onto her side. "They're okay, I guess. I really like your friend Ryo though. He seems to be one of the few people around here who doesn't have a stick shoved permanently up their-"

"Be nice," Cye warned, though he was grinning.

"But I think I'll like it here." Robyn stated.

"I hope you do." Cye got up and headed back out of the room. He paused in the door way and looked back.



"Welcome home."


Robyn's eyes were now closed, but he could see her smile. He turned around and headed for his own room, grateful to have his long lost friend back home with him safe and sound.