Guardian Souls

By: Ghost of the Dawn


The bus ride to the airport was loud and full--even at this early hour in the morning. But to Robyn, it was lonely. She sat there quietly, clutching her large travel bag to her and gazing ruefully out the window. She watched as the city flashed by her; people bustling this way and that. Each with their own fears and decisions to make.

However, Robyn was sure none of them had ever feared like she had. And none of them had to deal with the kind of decision she would have to make. One that ripped her from the places and the people she had grown to love. It hadn't even been a full year and already it felt like home--again. Now here she was, leaving it and the people that meant the most to her once more.

As the bus pushed on, Robyn began to feel the familiar pangs of doubt in the pit of her stomach. She found a part of her wishing that, somehow, someone would be able to catch her before she got on that plane. But at the same time, she knew that no one would ever see her note until she was long out of the country.

Robyn sighed as she leaned her head on the cool glass window. It was still early in the morning and the coldness of the atmosphere did nothing to warm her already chilled spirit. In doing this, she felt like she was leaving a part of herself behind. But she also felt it was something she had to do. She thought of the five individuals she had come to love dearly. Her presence among them had almost cost them their lives. She could not bear to continue to mess it up any further. That was why she was going back. It was the only way she knew how to protect them.

The young redhead shifted in her seat and idly inspected her surroundings. The bus was slowly filling with people. It hardly mattered to her though, she was almost to her destination. Robyn turned her gaze back out the window and her thoughts turned back to those she was leaving behind. It was hard thinking about them. She missed them so much already. How would she be able to get on that plane with them in her thoughts? Yet, as he mind drifted off to each in dividual, it helped to remind her what she was fighting for and the thought of them gave her courage as each one flashed in her mind like a treasured memory.

First, there was Kento. When Robyn had first arrived in Japan, she never imagined she would have made any friends there. At least none who had been such a friend to her. He always tried to act like such a tough guy in public. Keeping up the "stupid jock" stereotype that people always thought of him as. But Robyn knew better. Behind that surly, macho guy routine was nothing but a teddy bear. Her big, huggable teddy bear. She saw past what the world could not. She saw his heart and his intelligence. His great talent for reading people and understanding.

Those young, deep blue eyes of his Robyn could never forget. His voice that always seemed to hold a ring of laughter when he was happy and underlaying tenderness when she needed to be comforted. That boyish grin of his was so contagious, it made Robyn grin just thinking about it. She had fallen in love with that smile. Kento had been the first one to accept her completely. To stick up for her; to call her his friend. He always seemed to know exactly what she needed, be it a silly, lame joke or an understanding embrace.

The night she and Kento had gone to that haunted house flashed in her mind. It had been such a stupid bet. Nevertheless, he had followed her willingly. Both knew they could have been killed that night, but Kento still trusted her afterwards. She knew beyond a doubt that he would still follow her anywhere she asked. Even here, on this lonely, early morning bus ride, thinking about Kento made her feel not so alone. As if a bit of him was still with her on this difficult journey.

At the thought of difficulty, Robyn's mind switched to another face. It was Rowen's. She remembered that silly smirk he would plaster on from time to time whenever he aggravated someone. Why he ever appointed himself to be the team pest, Robyn would never know. But she tolerated his mind games, perhaps even more so than some of his friends. In the end, especially at this point, she would almost miss them. In all honesty, he really did intrigue her. It was amazing how someone so intelligent could act so stupid at times. His lack of common sense versus his IQ was almost staggering. His antics amused Robyn, almost as much as she amused him, she surmised. And when all was said and done, Rowen really was a good companion to have when one was lonely; and a good friend.

She loved his eyes the most. Crystalline and clear. Always brimming with intelligence and curiosity and mischief. Robyn had thought his eyes were so gorgeous since the first day she saw them, but she never told him that. When she returned to Japan--if she ever returned--she decided she would let him know.

The brightening sky above made Robyn recall that night Rowen took her star gazing. He did it because she was worried about him. He could have spent that last night before his operation with anyone in the world, and he chose to spend it with her. Thinking of him made Robyn look down at the empty seat beside her. She already missed his company.

There was no turning back now, however. Robyn shifted in her seat as her thoughts turned over to yet another.

It was Sage that next came to mind. The walking, talking mystery all wrapped up in a beautiful, blonde package. Try as she might, Robyn could never find a way to fully understand him. He looked so placid and dead on the outside, but he had a presence to him that suggested emotional unsettlement brewing on the inside. Those sharp features of his with those fairy tale violet irises. The few times when he would pause to look her in the face, Robyn would swear he could look into the very depths of her soul with the powers held in those eyes.

It seemed sad that the young man continued to insist on existing in a continued state of detachment from the emotional world. Robyn wished she had been able to know him better before she decided to leave. But she might have stayed a year or even ten years more and he may have never changed. There was a fear there; most likely built up since childhood. Was it a fear of getting close to others, or a fear of facing himself? Robyn couldn't be sure. One thing she was sure of, however, that there was a caring human being beneath that cold outward appearance. She had seen and felt his heart over the little things he did. Perhaps done as a small token to remind himself of his humanity. Or perhaps, done because of a powerful heart that refused to be ignored forever.

Prom night replayed itself in Robyn's head. When she had fallen victim to Hiroshi and Miniko's ambush. When the night felt it had gotten its darkest, that's when he arrived. He had stood there before her like a knight in shining armor or an angel of salvation--an angel in a really nice tuxedo. Like any good hero, Sage's mere presence single handedly saved the day. Though Robyn was still perplexed to this moment as to why he had been there in the first place.

But that was the way this warrior of light worked. Even more a master of mind games than the intellectual Strata, he seemed to exist only to catch the world off guard and prove the rule every time. Just how he had repeatedly proved that inside he wasn't as unreachable as he appeared to be. That night he had held her so close while they danced so no one would see her ruined dress. Even afterwards, Sage had kept his jacket over Robyn's shoulders so she could continue to hide it. In a moment of carelessness on her part, however, Ryo had noticed. But the look he got from Sage, Robyn remembered, was enough to convince Wildfire to keep his mouth shut. To this day, Robyn still wasn't sure whether Ryo had told anyone about it.

Ryo. Robyn knew she could live a hundred different lifetimes and never forget about him. The quiet, easy going, fiery, commanding one. Similar to Sage, there were two different sides to this warrior. One was the happy-go-lucky teenager that his classmates all knew. The other was the temper ridden ronin as he sliced down his enemies with all his fury. As she had grown to know this young man, she had seen both his unbridled anger and his undying heart.

She smiled, recalling that gorgeous black hair of his she could never resist playing with. Also his eyes were like no other's. Eyes that always burned with something; be it curiosity, anger, or even love. Everything Ryo did seemed to be done with a fire and passion that came from a deep inferno that forever burned brightly in his spirit.

There was a time when the young man's fiery passion had frightened her. When she had fully witnessed the extent of his temper and when she had seen the damage his power could do. But then, she had witnessed the sadness in those eyes when Ryo had seen her fear. Had she seen regret there, too? Regret that his friends feared what he was?

When she had seen that regret, she knew beyond a doubt that stronger than his temper was his heart. That he would be there for her where ever and however he could. They all would. And even as she was leaving them, Robyn felt comforted in knowing that.

Thinking of everything comfortable and safe brought one certain vestige to her mind. Cye; the big brother she never had. The one she had kissed. The one she trusted everything in and owed her entire existence to. She couldn't imagine her life without him. She wouldn't have one. Growing up, even though they were so far apart, he had been the one to keep her alive and keep her going. That thought of seeing him again; showing him that she had made it. Just knowing he was out there somewhere gave her the strength to carry on through all the hardships.

The two of them almost looked related; yet they still looked so different. His rusty hair was thick and soft, always looking teased by the wind. Hers was just thin and flat and misplaced. Both their eyes were green, but his were deep and beautiful and held a hidden strength behind a clam facade. Like his beloved sea right before a dark storm. He kept the best times of her youth and her happiest memories. He had saved her life a thousand times over and Robyn knew she would gladly give her life for him in a heart beat. For any of them. Even Mia, she suddenly decided.

Robyn cracked a grin when Mia came to mind. Here she was mooning over the wonderful young men in her life when this woman entered her thoughts. She still didn't know that much about the beautiful brunette. What she had gathered was that Mia had taken care of and mothered her friends during that trying time with Talpa. She had helped them through their hardships with all her strength at a time when Robyn could not. And perhaps even played a part in molding the five warriors into the fine young men they were now. Even if the two females never truly became friends, Robyn was still very grateful to Mia for helping her five angels survive so they, in turn, could be there for her.

The lonely girl was thrown from her thoughts as the bus came to its destination; the airport. With a heavy sigh, Robyn gathered up what little belongings she had and clamored off the noisy bus into the just as noisy station. Even in the early hours of the day, people were bustling to and fro with seeming important places to be. Robyn wondered how many of them were heading home.

I wonder if they know how lucky they are, Robyn thought. What a relief it is to know you're going home. Where you can rest and be at peace. A place where you belong. And those who are traveling away from home, it must be nice to know you already have a set date of when you'll be coming back.

She didn't know if she ever would.

As she wandered on to her exit, Robyn paused to watch a large group of people who were seeing off a young man on a flight. An older woman, most likely his mother, was crying. Everyone was hugging each other and laughing. Some were crying. But they all were there for him and each other.

Robyn drew in a deep breath to help swallow the sob that was rising in her throat. So many people only made her feel even more lonely. She had so far to go all by herself and it was a very long journey. One she didn't want to take but knew she had to--for their sakes. And thus, she finally made it to the desired gateway. Still fifteen minutes until they started boarding.

Robyn sat herself down with a heavy heart. She let her grip on her bags fall as her loneliness consumed her. Why did it have to be so hard? She almost couldn't take the waiting any more. How she wanted to be on that plane now. Past the point of no return. Not out here where her conscience still nagged at her to go back. Why wouldn't it let her be? Robyn pulled her knees up to her chest and buried her face in them as she tried to gain control of herself.

She sat there for several minutes and continued to hide her eyes. She didn't want to see all the people around her. All the happy travelers. Especially the ones who got to go home while she was forced to leave the only one she ever really had. Time ticked on painfully slow as the bodies rushed passed her with their own business to attend to. None of them bothered to notice the pitiful body curled up amidst them all. But from somewhere in the crowd, there was a form that was not rushing around. A single figure stood still among the current of the moving masses and watched silently from a distance.

Robyn paused in her self pity when she felt the presence of someone standing over her. She was almost afraid to look up. One of the strangers in this big, lonely place had noticed her. They would probably want to talk or something. Her pain was none of their business. She just wanted to be left alone. Still, Robyn lifted her head a little to gaze down at a pair of legs. Her eyes traveled up to a dark jacket and then to a familiar face that made her breath catch in her throat. She knew those eyes and that face in an instant. Robyn quickly looked away, almost wishing it was a stranger, but her heart was doing flip flops as he continued to merely stand before her. Robyn slowly got to her feet, though she couldn't bring herself to look at him. She was abandoning them all. She didn't deserve anyone coming after her.

"How did you know I was here?" she asked quietly, keeping her gaze averted.

"I had a feeling," came the calm reply.

"Then you realize why I have to leave. It's best for all of you. I don't want to put any of you in danger ever again. I could never live with myself if something happened..."

Robyn still refused to look at him. She couldn't bare to witness the disappointment, or perhaps even anger, that would be present in those beautiful eyes.

"Why didn't you tell us?" his voice softly questioned.

"I'm not very good at good-byes," Robyn rasped as her emotions began to choke out her voice. "Besides, I'm such a coward. I knew if I said something, I would never be able to do it. I'm not that strong. I had to take the coward's way out. I'm sorry."

With fists trembling at her side, Robyn could feel the hot tears threatening to spill over. She shut her eyes tight to block it out, but they ran down her cheeks anyway. This wasn't fair! She was doing the right thing for once! She was doing it all for them! Why did there have to be so much opposition? Why was it so hard?

Gently, she felt a finger cup her chin and her breath caught again. He slowly turned her face to look up at his. Robyn couldn't believe the deep emotion she saw in his eyes. What was he feeling? What did he want to say?

"Please don't go," he whispered.

Robyn sniffled. She couldn't help but lean into his touch a little. How could he ask this of her when she was so close? She had to be strong, just this one last time. She could break down later when it was all over, but right now, she had to stay strong.

"I can't stay," she rasped. "Please understand. I--I have to leave here now."

There was a small moment suspended in time as Robyn awaited the final argument.

"Then...then this is from us."

His gentle, protective hands reached up to cup her face and Robyn felt her heart flutter as it was lifted up to meet him. She closed her eyes as she felt his lips; warm and tender on hers. They only touched for a brief moment, but it was enough. He pulled away and looked into Robyn's green eyes for her reaction. She chewed on the bottom lip that had just been touching his.

"Are--are you sure that wasn't just from you?" she managed to choke out with a smile.

The young man's eyes sparkled as he smiled back. A smile Robyn knew she would never forget. He opened his mouth to say something, but he was cut off as a voice over the speaker announced the boarding of the next flight.

Robyn momentarily glanced away. That was her flight they were calling. This was it. She silently prayed for the courage to leave him--leave all of them behind. But, when Robyn did turn back to her companion, she found the space he had been occupying was empty. He had vanished like a mist among the crowd.

"I guess you were never good at good-byes either," she whispered ruefully to the air.

Then, with a deep sigh, Robyn picked up her luggage and boarded the plane. Once at her seat, she found herself looking out window; again recalling past memories. This was the first time she ever felt like she was leaving a home behind; and it hurt. In what seemed like no time, the plane was already off the ground and flying over the ocean, far away from a place she would always treasure.

Regretfully, that chapter in her life was over. If she had continued to stay, she knew it would only result in more trouble for them. The ones she cared about so dearly that she would even remove her own self from them to keep them safe. This was all she could do for them for now. But she hoped one day, if she worked hard enough, there would be a time when she would be able to come home to them again.