A/N – Even though it has not been titled as such, to me, this fic shall always be known as "The Review Junkie Fic", b/c I'm writing it simply for you all's reviews. I had a LOT of requests for more in the Riya/Graham saga, but sadly, I have no more long drawn out ideas. I did, however, decide that, just you my wonderful reviewers (I love you guys sooooooooo much!! ^_^ ) to do a one-shot special on my two original characters, Lucifer and Mai (Riya and Graham's newly named daughter – pronounced 'my').

So, just for you, I present Late Bloomer.

Disclaimer – Me no own the world of Shamanic Princess, but I own all the characters in this story save Graham! Yea!

~*~

Mai was certain she was a failure.

 She and her partner, Lucifer, had been going on various missions for nearly a year, and never once, in all his time of service, had anyone heard him speak. He would hide behind his curtain of raven hair and watch the world suspiciously with unsure chocolate eyes. Despite all attempts of coaxing from Mai, he remained shut tightly in his shell, unwilling to let even the slightest emotion show. This had greatly upset Mai, who, convinced she was doing something wrong, had cried herself to sleep on numerous occasions. It must have hurt them to watch, but her parents had refrained from interfering, knowing that, had she wanted help, she would have asked for it. So for a year, Mai sadly watched her lonely bud that refused to blossom, believing she would wait forever in vain. And now, with his contraction of this horribly persistent cold, she was doubly sure of her failure in caring for him.

In her mind, it was all her fault he had fallen ill. On their last mission, while lying in wait for their target to come to the trap they had set, they had endured the constant heavy downpour that soaked them both to the bone. No sooner had they returned home than Lucifer had begun sneezing and coughing with no end in sight. He had lain in bed for a week, awakening occasionally to eat the various soups she brought him. His health during this time had not worsened, but it had only just begun to improve. Mai had lately begun to wonder if dying would be more pleasant than this emotional torture. With each rasping breath that issued from his mouth, she felt the guilt eat away at her a little more.

During the length of his sickness, she sat with him, reading, thinking, or, more often than she would readily admit, watch him sleep. Her mother had told her, on the first night of Lucifer's arrival, that one of the most calm and heartwarming things in life was to watch your partner sleep. Mai was, by this time, thoroughly convinced this was a shamefaced lie. Watching Lucifer sleep was like watch someone die; it filled her with the most unbearable heartache. As his chest rose and fell with his quiet breathing, she would take the time to become depressed by remembering that yet another silent day had passed. If she had to endure this disappointment any longer, Mai was certain she would go insane.

When she felt especially down, she would go wandering off in the nearby woods, alone, and sing. It had been, for as long as she could remember, her greatest joy. She possessed a vast collection of songbooks, from both her own world and the ones she had visited. No matter how bad she felt, singing had a certain something about it that always made the bad things seem less imposing. Often, it was a way to release her tension, cracking her voice while singing something angry and dark. When her tears ran freely down her cheeks, the melodies of sorrowful love songs became all the more haunting, as her grief left her throat on the notes and disappeared in the sky. Despite the talent she knew she possessed, she was deathly afraid of singing in front of anyone. Occasionally, her parents would request a song or two, which she would gladly do, but in front of anyone else she would rather die than sing.

'I'd sing every song I know if it would get you to say something,' Mai thought despairingly, beginning another nighttime vigil over her sick partner. 'It doesn't have to be much… I'd be happy if you'd just smile for me, just once. Tell me what I'm doing wrong, and I'll change. I just want you to be happy…' Again, Mai felt herself beginning to cry. It didn't matter. After biding her goodnight, her parents had gone to bed, and Lucifer was too ill to be wakened by something as pathetically quiet as her tears. So she cried over him, the way she did every night.

"I wish you knew how much I want to see you smile… how much I want to hear you speak," she whispered softly. "Just once. I want to see you smile and hear you say my name… I want to know what it sounds like when you laugh, or cry. I want so much for you to know that I…" She stopped, unable to say anything more.

Seconds ticked by, counted slowly by the tall clock she could hear from the hall. Mai continued to watch Lucifer sleep, his face closed off and suspicious even in complete unconsciousness.

'How can you distrust me so much? I've barely known you a year, and somehow I think I trust you with my life. What have I done to make you wary of me? What?!'

The tears started up in earnest again, only this time tinted with fear. What if he never spoke, and the Guardian took him away from her, thinking she wasn't ready for the full responsibility of having a partner? And what would they do with him? She was quite sure they couldn't send him back to where he came from. That would permanently disfigure him, his mind, and his soul, to be ripped from, then sent back to another world.

What if they had to eliminate him?

'I don't want that to happen. I want him to be my partner forever, my friend forever. He's a part of me, and it would hurt so much if they took him away.' She looked at his impassive pleadingly. 'Please don't make them take you away!'

"Please don't make them take you away…" she whispered.

Without thinking, she began humming, a soft but full sound that quickly became a whispered song that was sung like a desperate prayer.

Sing me to sleep, the shadows fall.

Let me forget the world and all.

Tired is my heart, the day is long.

Let it soon come to even song…

Sing me to sleep, and let me rest,

Of all the world, I love you best.

Nothing is faithful, nothing true.

On heaven or earth, but God and you…

Mai stopped then, overcome with silent sobbing. What happened next made her completely forget her tears.

"Please…"

She turned, startled, to look at Lucifer, who was looking intently at her with his beautiful eyes, his soft lips parting as he moved them around his words.

"Please… please don't stop… please sing more…"

Mai stared at him, frozen in shock even as her ears drunk up the sound of his voice. It was rich and dark, like the chocolate his eyes reminded her of. But at the same time it was clear, strong, and tinted with a masculine flavor that almost made her blush.

He continued to gaze at her, waiting for her response.

Smiling with gratitude and an infinite depth of emotion, Mai wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve.

"Of course. Of course I'll keep singing."

~*~

So… how was it? I took a chance with this… series, I guess I could call it, and changed the writing style from present progressive to past perfect. And now I sound like I'm in Spanish class. Ah, sweet foreign words…

Drop me a line, tell me how you REALLY feel!! This is, after all, a REVIEW-JUNKIE fic, so you have to review. It's required. *nods sagely*