AUTHOR'S NOTE: I think I should have made myself clearer on the who-have-we-still-got-to-hear-from person. It's not Anubis or Kaosu. But I'll give you a hint: there is a problem between this person and Ryo.

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The Test of Strength

Chapter 11: Fast Recoveries and Goodbyes

Ryo released the Inferno, sending the powers back to the others, and powered out of his Wildfire armor. He kept his subarmor, knowing his clothes were covered with blood. A wave of pain suddenly flooded his body and he fell to his hands and knees, crying out in pain.

The others ran towards him, but came to a halt as Ryo began to glow dark green. They watched silently as the glow separated from his body and evaporated. Ryo released another groan and fell to the ground, shedding his subarmor. He just didn't have the strength to keep it with him anymore.

Whiteblaze was the first one to his side. The large cat nuzzled his friend's face, pleading for him to wake up. The others powered down to their regular clothes as they finished running to their fallen friend's side. Their leader stirred and turned over onto his back. The group quickly noticed Ryo's left side, from the wound down, was soaked in blood.

Ryo sat up, with great effort, and hugged the tiger that insisted upon it. Whiteblaze wrapped his arm around the boy's back, returning the embrace, as well as helping to hold him up.

"You okay, Ryo?" Sai asked as he knelt down and put a hand on his friends shoulder.

Ryo turned his head away from the tiger's neck and gave them a small smile. "Yeah. Just an overload, that's all."

"What was that green light?" Dais asked.

"Ky's gone. I guess so is his 'no healing' power. It was that way with Soylaberst, when he blocked my armor. Once he died, the first time, I could call upon my armor again. So maybe that was it," Ryo suggested slowly.

Sage gently moved Sai away from Ryo then knelt down next to his friend. He didn't say anything as he placed one hand on Ryo's bruised cheek and the other on the wound in his left side. Pale violet eyes locked on tiger blue ones as a soft green glow surrounded Ryo. A few seconds passed, no one saying anything, just watching what was going on. They knew Sage was using his healing power, and they were ecstatic when Ryo didn't cry out in pain like he had at the hospital.

The glow stopped but the blond didn't remove his hands from Ryo's body. He sat there waiting for some reaction from the raven headed boy.

"Arigato, Sage," Ryo whispered and placed his own hand over Sage's and closed his eyes.

"No need, Ryo," Sage smiled.

Yuli ran over to Ryo and threw his arms around his hero's neck. Sage stepped back, letting Ryo greet the little boy as well. The eight year old didn't cry. He just wanted to let his hero know he was glad that he was alive. Ryo patted Yuli's arm to show he acknowledged the younger boy. Whiteblaze released his embrace and backed away; Yuli did the same.

"Are you alright, Wildfire?" Kale asked.

"…Yeah. I just…feel a little funny," Ryo shrugged.

Before he could object, Sage and Kento gently pulled Ryo off the ground. They put his arms around each of their necks. Kento was careful with where his arm went. He was on Ryo's right, so his arm was going around to the left side. Sage was careful not to bump up against his side; for even though he had healed all of Ryo's wounds, internal and external, he knew that Ryo's body was still swore and weak from what it was put through.

Ryo looked at the Warlords. "Thanks for the help."

"It was our honor," Kayura smiled.

"Now just imagine if you had been at full strength," Dais said.

"He wouldn't have lasted two seconds. And talk about a fire show!" Kale laughed.

"And not to mention the new wings," Dais reminded.

"Now those were cool," Sai agreed.

"Forget cool, they were awesome!" Kento exclaimed.

"Ah wish Ah had a pa'ah."

"You can fly without them, Rowen," Sage replied.

"Ah know. But they'd look great wif my arm'ah!" Rowen whined.

"Hey, we beat them. That's all that matters," Ryo reminded them. He didn't really know what the armor looked like with the added power, but it didn't really matter to him if he did or not.

"What's with the 'we'? You're the one who took them down," Sekhmet said harshly.

Ryo shook his head. "I couldn't have done it without you guys. I may wear the Inferno, but it takes all of us to make it."

The others smiled at his modesty. Not very many people had that quality nowadays. Ryo would shoulder the blame for mistakes, but he would share the praise for victories.

"Okay, Ryo," Rowen said as he walked over. "Let's go get ya cleaned up and int' bed."

Sage and Kento helped him to the house and up the stairs. All Ryo wanted to do was pass out, but he saved it for later. He wanted to take a shower on his own. All the other times he had been out of it and he wasn't comfortable with people seeing him naked; not to mention touching him while he was naked. Luckily, the Warlords hadn't said anything to him about it. They had dropped it, so Ryo decided he would do the same.

He grabbed a new pair of boxers and his bed clothes. With some help from Kento, he made his way to the bathroom.

"You know the rules," Sage said before Ryo walked through the door with Whiteblaze.

"Door goes unlocked. If I need help, call. You'll be right outside. I got it," Ryo said as if he had heard it a thousand times. "Can I go in now?"

Sage nodded, stepping to the side. Whiteblaze entered and settled down on the rug. Ryo was right behind him and closed the door. He could hear his two friends lean against the wall; one on each side of the door. He couldn't help but smile at the thought of them folding their arms over their chest, while looking serious.

Ryo made his way over to the shower and turned on the hot water. When it got too hot, he added the cold to it to make it the right temperature. He removed his clothing and got in. He wanted to fall asleep under the warm water but decided against it. He washed his hair first, for it only made since to do so. Then he got all the blood off, and washed the rest of his body.

He could only imagine how he would feel if he had been at full strength when he'd asked the Warlords to help. It would have been way too much. His muscles already hurt enough; they were basically demanding for him to go to bed. He promised he would but first he wanted to find out what the Warlords were going to do now that the threat was over.

Whiteblaze had turned away when Ryo was getting undressed and stayed that way as the boy had climbed into the shower. Then he turned so he would be in a position to help if he was needed. When the water was turned off, he watched as Ryo's arm came out from behind the curtain, only to retreat once it had two towels in hand. The tiger, then, watched as Ryo exited the shower, a towel around his waist, and another draped over his damp hair.

Ryo made his way to the sink. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and quickly noted how exhausted he appeared. His armor had given him some strength back, but the overload took most of it away. He figured he'd sleep for two or three weeks at the most. One week wouldn't get it. He finished toweling his hair and threw the towel into the hamper. Then he removed the towel from his waist, threw it into the hamper, put on his clothes, and brushed the tangles out of his hair.

"Come on, Blaze," he said as he made his way to the door.

Ryo opened the door and stepped out. He leaned on Whiteblaze as they headed for his room. Kento and Sage joined him, following only a few feet behind him.

When Ryo entered his room, he found Sai and Rowen, who were talking, sitting on the unused bed; Mia on the floor by the said bed; Yuli sitting beside her. Kento took Ryo from Whiteblaze and helped him into the bed. The tiger curled up on the floor in its usual spot and began to watch the others in the room.

"Ya like you'ah bath, Buddy?" Rowen asked.

"Yeah. I wanted to fall asleep, though," Ryo answered truthfully. He noticed all the worried looks the others were sending each other and decided to put a stop to those thoughts. "I'm fine you guys; just tired."

"Well, you've earned it," Sage said as he sat down on the bed next to him. "Besides, your body still needs to gain its strength back. I just closed and healed the wounds."

"I know. Arigato."

"You've said that already," a voice came from the door.

The eight occupants of the room turned towards the door as one. All four Warlords were present, and each had a duffle bag in hand.

"You're leaving?" Ryo asked with a bit of disappointment.

"Yes, Wildfire. We need to be getting back," Kayura replied. "But we'll see you again."

"Great," Kento sarcastically said. "Well, Dais, I guess I'll just have to wait till next time to see if you can beat me at that video game."

"I don't think so, Hardrock. After getting my ass kicked for three weeks? No thank you. Next time, you can play with Kale," Dais answered.

"Don't go offering me to play his silly games. I still have to beat Strata at chess," Kale snapped.

"Never happen, Kale. Rowen always wins," Sage informed him.

"He can't win all the time!"

"Try telling him that," Sai chuckled.

"Can Ah help it if ya guys suck?" Rowen teased.

"One day, Strata. One day," Kale warned playfully.

Sekhmet stepped over to Ryo and extended his hand. Ryo took it without hesitation and smiled. "It was an honor, Wildfire. If you ever need our help, just let us know," he said. "And don't forget your promise; try to take it easy."

"Take care of yourselves. And let us know if you need anything," Ryo said and released the other's hand.

"We will," Kayura answered. "And thank you for trusting us."

"Think nothin' of it, Kayura," Rowen said.

"You guys turned out to be very useful," Sai added.

"Maybe next time you can paint the house," Kento laughed.

"You wish, Hardrock," Sekhmet hissed.

"Thanks again, Ronins," Kale said.

The Ronin Warriors nodded and watched as the Warlords disappeared.

"I'm gonna miss them," Kento sighed.

"Why?" Sai asked incredulously, not believing his best friend would ever say such a thing.

"Dais was so easy to beat on that game. It was fun watching him throw a fit."

The others in the room laughed at the memory. Dais was so easily angered by that game. His little tantrums were fun to watch, and the best part was that even though he said he quit, he would still reach for the controller, and go at it again.

Rowen looked over at Ryo and noticed his friend's head was turned away from them, facing the wall. His chest was slowly rising and falling, indicating that he was fast asleep. "Hey guys, looks like our fe'ahless lead'ah's decided t' take a nap."

The others grew quiet and looked over to the occupant of the bed. Sage stood up from the bed and pulled the covers up to Ryo's chest. "Let's leave him alone so he can rest," he whispered softly. The others nodded and they all left the room.

stststst

At twelve o'clock that night, Sage went to check on Ryo. The blond smiled at the scene laid out before him. Ryo was on his stomach, his shirt was on the floor, his arms were under his pillow, and his face was turned towards the wall. The blanket was bunched up around his waist, and his right leg was exposed. Ryo looked to be tense as Sage moved closer. Every now-and-then Ryo would move like he had a swore muscle. It pained the blond to see his friend like this and he quickly made a decision.

First, he unbent the boy's right leg, and covered it up again. Then he sat down on the bed and began to massage the copper colored back. He found the knots and gently smoothed them out. He smiled when Ryo let out a soft moan of relief.

"I'm glad you're enjoying this, Ryo," he whispered.

"Sounds like it t' me," came a voice from the door.

Sage's hands stilled as he turned and saw Rowen lent up against the doorframe with his arms crossed over his chest. The blue-haired boy smiled and walked over to the other bed and took a seat on it. Sage returned the smile and continued massaging Ryo's back. The two friends almost laughed when Ryo shifted, turning his head away from the wall and bending his right leg again and released a loud moan.

"Ah'd say ya'ah doin' somethin' right, Sage. He looks more relaxed now."

"He has quit a few knots, but I'm working them out."

Rowen chuckled, making the blond give him a questioning look. "It's a good thin' Ryo taught ya how t' do that," he said, gesturing to the massaging.

Sage just nodded in response, and continued to work his hands over Ryo's back.

stststst

Knock. Knock

The five teenagers looked at each other from their places on the couch. They knew Mia was in town getting dinner and dropping Yuli off, and that she wouldn't be back for a few hours, since she'd left only thirty-six minutes ago. Besides, she had a key; why would she knock?

Rowen got up from his spot on the couch, where he'd been using Ryo for a pillow, while Ryo was using Sage's shoulder for a pillow. It had been a few days since the defeat of the three armors, and the guys had finally let Ryo out of bed; only to be placed on the couch, watching a movie.

The others turned back to the television, letting Rowen handle the person at the door. When they heard voices moving towards their room, Kento turned off the movie and put the television on mute. Sage glared at the larger boy, but Kento ignored it.

"Yeah, he's he'ah," Rowen's voice filtered through the door.

"Can I see him?" At the sound of the voice, Ryo sat up and looked at the door. "If Ryo's here, I need to see him." Ryo stood up and made his way to the door. Sage, Whiteblaze, and the other two boys followed; their curiosity getting the better of them. Ryo opened the door and stepped out. The man Rowen was talking to looked up and stopped before he could voice his next sentence.

"Dad?"

"Ryo," Aoi said as he walked passed the blue-haired boy. "I'm so sorry I couldn't get here sooner. It took them forever just to contact me. Then I couldn't get a flight to get here. Then when I did, the stupid plane had problems and we had to wait for it to be repaired. And then, when I finally got here I had to find the hospital you were placed in. There I was told you were staying with a Mia Kojo, and I had to find her address. I got lost on the way, and –"

"It's okay, Dad," Ryo smiled. He stepped forward so the boys behind him could file out. As he hugged his father, he remembered what Soylaberst had tried to make him believe. If his father didn't love him, he wouldn't have been here now. He would have just paid the bill and sent a letter. But he was here, and it proved that he did care.

Aoi gathered his son in his arms, holding him tight. Then he pushed the boy back a ways and looked him over. "You don't look too bad. The way they sounded over the phone, I thought you were near death!"

"I'm fine. Besides, the guys have helped out a lot," Ryo smiled at his father. It wasn't a lie; it was just avoiding the answer. There was no point in telling his father that he'd died, several times. Or what really happened, because he didn't know about the Dynasty; or anything related to it.

"Thank you, boys. I don't know what I would've done if you hadn't been here for him."

"Don't worry about. You might not think that once you see our bill."

"KENTO!" the other boys shouted in unison before they started laughing.

Owari

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I hope you guys liked it. I had a lot of fun writing it…Even though it took a long time to get it out. Ja'ne!