Skull felt like crap.
"It looks like he's waking up. What about her?" asked a voice. It was young, and it sounded female.
"She's still out cold, though if we're any indication it'll be at least a day before she's awake. I'm surprised the Lackey is," said an annoyed voice.
Skull nearly shot up hearing it. He knew that voice...except he hadn't heard it in decades and it was much older!
He felt something steady him when his body nearly gave out. He felt like an overcooked noodle.
"Easy. For some reason whenever you show up here in your original form, you experience a major drain on your Flames. You're going to need a few days before you're able to move normally."
Skull winced as he felt pain shooting through his body. He barely had any energy to sit up with. Feeling a gentle hand on his forehead, he looked at the one who was being so nice to him properly.
It was a girl, a teenager really, with a small white dragon on her shoulder in boy's clothes. He could see Oodako sitting calmly in a decent sized bowl with some fresh water...his partner looked pretty pleased with their spot, because they were sleeping.
She looked really familiar too. It wasn't until he spotted the familiar white oval peeking out of her hoodie that it hit him.
"Ah! You're Ryuu!" he said.
Ryuu blinked, before she grinned. She pulled out the familiar dragon mask and Skull was grinning himself. He had liked Ryuu from the first time he saw one of her matches. She had style and she would always protect the little guy, even the really annoying ones.
Reborn rolled his eyes.
"Where are we?"
"We're in Rikyuu. Somehow you were transported here and ended up half-drowning in one of the fountains four days ago. Fortunately we already knew that you would be comatose for a few days since it happened to Fon and the others as well," said Ryuu.
"Fon and Colonello are here too?"
"Colonello is with the woman you were with. I think there was some history there from the look on his face."
"He's been in love with her for years," said Reborn snorting. "The idiot jumped in and took the curse for her, and she's never once indicated she likes him despite all the attempts he's made. The woman is a Tsundere through and through, though I think her affection is more in line with a teacher and her errant student than anything romantic."
Ryuu winced at the implications of that.
Skull is confused at how nice Reborn is being, though he's distracted by the hug from the girl.
"Just get some rest, Skull-san. You'll be right as rain in a few days," she said.
He leaned back on the bed. That hug had been really nice.
How long had it been since someone was genuinely nice to him like that?
With Lal Mirch...
The first thing Lal Mirch saw when she woke was a familiar blue-eyed blond with a worried look on his face.
"You're awake, kora! We were starting to get worried... everyone else woke up in about four or five days... you were out cold for a week!"
"Colonello?" she said, too tired to properly sit up. Suddenly annoyance filled her and she managed to get enough energy to try and punch him. She barely was able to do more than lightly tap his arm before her energy almost gave out. "You idiot! What the hell were you thinking?!"
"What are you talking about, kora?" he said confused. He couldn't get why she was so pissed.
"You disappeared without any warning! Do you have any idea how worried I was?!"
"I had nothing to do with it, kora! The one who sent the summoning was an amateur who grabbed everyone who was in that area! We were just lucky we landed close together, because we were unconscious for four days when we arrived here!" said Colonello in protest. Then he grinned. "I always knew you cared!"
She growled at him.
"Where are we?"
"Rikyuu. It's a parallel Earth, though it seems there is a temporary path back home. Unfortunately it's too sporadic for us to find."
Lal was not happy.
"How long am I going to be like this?"
"Well it generally takes a week at least, but you'll be able to move in a few days. For some reason whenever one of us gets transported here, our pacifiers do this massive drain to our Flames like it's trying to suck us completely dry," said Colonello. "On the plus side, none of us have returned to being toddlers since we got here."
She grumbled and rolled over to take a nap. She could barely move at all.
While Skull found himself welcomed by the group, Lal Mirch soon proved to be a total thorn.
For one thing, she wasn't nearly as accepting about the idea of 'staying' when she still had things to do back on Earth. The second Lal figured out who's daughter "Mira-chan" was, Kiseki disliked her.
She kept comparing her to Iemitsu, which pissed her off to no end considering how little her 'father' cared about her and seemed to deliberately do things that made her life worse.
Lal was just irritable that a teenager was convincing the men to stay on another world rather than work towards getting home.
Finally after a week of this, Kiseki had enough.
"What exactly is your problem? You dismiss Colonello's feelings like they're nothing and you are deliberately pissing me off by comparing me to a man who barely rates as my genetic donor!"
Lal's tsundere temper flared.
"My problem is that you are deliberately keeping us here, rather than trying to find a way back! We don't belong in this world and you know it! As for Colonello, that's nothing a child should concern herself with!"
"It seems to me that the only child here is you," said Reborn. "You never even asked why Mira-chan and the others could care less if they were stuck here, or why they haven't bothered to look for a way back. You just assumed they were being lazy and enjoying their little adventure rather than asking."
Lal glared at him.
"I would think she would know better than to put her petty teenage tantrums against her parents above getting home."
"Petty teenage..." said Reborn in disbelief.
"That would imply I had parents to begin with," said Kiseki with such bitterness that Lal looked at her oddly. "My father might as well be dead with how little he cares about me, and my mother was there in body only... she was far too apathetic to the fact I felt endangered enough around my peers to the point I openly pretended I was a boy to avoid the risk of being assaulted the second I realized the danger of being a girl in a school where no one thought twice about the level of harassment I lived with every single day. She didn't even think twice about the fact she was leaving a daughter she believed to be 'no good' all alone in a house with absolutely no support save for the half-assed deposits in the bank for me to get groceries and other essentials with every other week, just because that dead beat asshole decided to take her on a year-long second honeymoon."
"Mira-chan's homelife was rather appalling by the time I was alerted to her existence completely by accident," said Fon, interjecting. He put a soothing hand on her shoulder. "She was surrounded by all sides by people who were only destroying her self-confidence and who were openly mocking her character and not a single person would bother to speak up in her defense. The only reason it improved was because she accidentally managed to get one of Verde's dragon boxes and he sent people to try and find out who had it. If it wasn't for that game, her life wouldn't be one I would consider worth living."
Lal wanted to deny their claims.
Except she knew personally how little Iemitsu cared about his civilian family, and even when he did show any interest in them, it was usually aimed more to his wife than his child. There was barely any protection towards them, and he rarely considered his child except as an afterthought at best.
Like he barely considered his own flesh and blood worth the effort of putting them first. He was a narcissistic, obnoxious pain in her ass that she had to deal with every day.
Kiseki looked Lal Mirch dead in the eye. There was something in them that told Lal volumes of the hell her life had been before this.
"Lal Mirch... I have almost no reason whatsoever to ever go back to Namimori, much less Earth. At least here, I have Sora and the others and I don't have to hide what I can do. For the first time in years, I don't have to hide my gender or my face from others. So excuse me for not looking into a way back to that place," said Kiseki flatly.
"What about the others? The kids?" asked Lal, trying to come up with an excuse.
"Lambo's family literally dumped on me the second Hayato told them I was willing to take him in. They paid me to take him off their hands. Hayato... his relationship with his father is almost as bad as mine and his sister poisoned him so often that he can't even look at her face without having some kind of adverse reaction and stomach cramps from the memory of it," said Kiseki.
"I-Pin will go wherever I am, though she would be happiest around her 'big sister'," said Fon. "The only thing tying me down is Kyouya, and while the thought of giving up his territory irritates him, if he had to chose between his Sky or the town he would pick her."
"Really, the only one who had reason to go back was Colonello, and that was mostly because of you," said Reborn. "And that was a toss up even after we made that particular revelation. It's not like you've given him much reason to return."
Lal stared at them all. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"None of you even tried to find a way back?"
"For the first week we were too busy worrying if Fon, Colonello and Reborn would wake up, and how long it would take for them to be at fighting strength. After that, we might have looked into it if we heard anything, but for the most part we were content to leave things as they were," said Kiseki, drinking her tea. "I've had plans to leave Namimori in the dust since I was left behind by that bastard who calls himself my genetic donor and I realized that my home felt just as empty as it did even with my mother still there. I was just waiting to be old enough to be considered an adult before I left and never came back."
There was nothing Lal could say to that.
"But...if we do find a way back to Earth, we'll let you be the first to return through it since you have something actually waiting for you on the other side," said Kiseki. "Just don't expect us to join you."
"Thank you," said Lal with relief.
"And please, for the love of god quit comparing me to that idiot. He is not my father and never has been and if I see him again it's a toss up exactly how badly I will maim him," said Kiseki.
"I'll try to quit comparing you two. It helps you look and act nothing like him."
"Thank god for that," muttered Reborn, with Fon nodded emphatically.
A few hours later, Colonello and Lal had a very serious talk about their very one-sided relationship. The blond came out of that looking beyond depressed that Lal felt nothing for him save for the fondness a teacher has for a favorite student that had done well for themselves.
None of them really commented about the fact the man ended up dog-piled by the kids or Kiseki that night, or the fact the older girl was using him as a giant pillow so he had something comforting to hug to get him through his depression.
Reborn was enjoying the sunset when he sensed Fon coming into the room.
"I take it you've noticed it too," he commented to the Sun.
"It's hard to miss, especially when we so easily took her side over Lal's. Or the way Colonello has been acting lately."
Their Flames were almost the same level as they were before the curse, and during that time both of them had tried to ignore something that was all but obvious now.
Kiseki was more than their unofficial leader of the group. She was their Sky.
At first Reborn had dismissed it, thinking his mind was playing tricks on him. But when she confronted Lal Mirch about her behavior and he felt his instincts all but demand he side with the younger girl, he realized what was going on.
Fon had realized it a bit earlier, but was reluctant to speak up about it since it mattered little at the moment.
But seeing Colonello lean on Kiseki so soon after Lal finally made her feelings towards him clear only cemented the fact that he had clearly fallen under the same Sky they had.
And the thing was that they didn't regret it at all. Kiseki honestly cared about them and listened to them seriously. She treated them as treasured friends and family. And they took a great deal of pleasure in getting her to blush and seeing her act like the girl she should have been, rather than the child that was lost because of the stupidity of the people around her.
The light of her innocence that had almost been lost entirely was now beginning to flourish properly.
Reborn inclined his head, hiding half his face with his hat.
"What are your feelings towards her?" asked Fon seriously.
"While I'll admit seeing her blush is beyond cute, I'm far too jaded and she's much too young and innocent for my tastes. I'd rather fill the role Iemitsu failed so spectacularly at than try to pursue her," said Reborn easily. It was the same role he had played in Dino's life when he was forced to become the Chaivarone's Decimo. Romance was something he played with, but never took seriously.
Even if it was becoming very obvious that the girl was showing a distinct preference for older men than those her own age. The way she acted around Colonello and Fon made that clear. With Reborn, she didn't seem too sure how to react.
Considering she had felt so threatened by her own peers and got more affection and encouragement from those older than her, it wasn't too surprising. And it was better for her to attach herself that way around them than someone who would only use her to their advantage.
Fon nodded in silent agreement. He had noticed it as well, though she seemed to latch onto Skull as an older brother/favored cousin than any romantic inclination. There was some possibility of her latching onto Kyouya, but not much.