Hello, everyone! It's been a very long time, I know. But school is back on track… Well, you guys have been so nice waiting for me that after this (really short… sorry! ') update… 82 reviews and 303 hits? Wow! You guys are the best! You've made me so happy, I'll even throw in another chapter of Dried Tears III before continuing with Dried Tears II. Now how do you like that? Lol Well, anyway, sit back and enjoy the ride!
P.S. Here are some brownies Rei-Rei and I baked for my wonderful reviewers! (wink) (Hands brownies to everyone who reviewed) Thanks!
Haunted by Darkness
With a quirked eyebrow, the raven-haired teen picked up the letter. Looking over the envelope, he noticed it was indeed addressed to him but, curiously, had no return address.
"That's weird… Lee and Mariah normally write their names when they send me a letter… I guess it's not from them…"
Using his finger, he carefully separated the flap from the rest of the envelope, producing a cream-colored paper delicately embedded with Chinese characters.
Tyson looked up from his breakfast in curiosity. "What's it say?"
Ray's golden orbs skimmed over the characters as he took a sip of his tea. As he kept reading, his eyes started to widen more and more…
Tyson and Kai looked up alarmed at the sound of a shattering cup against the floor. Ray's hand was shaking, and his normally tanned skin was extremely pale.
"Ray, what's wrong?" Kai voiced worriedly as he stood up in a hurry. Placing both his arms on Ray's shaking arm, he tried to settle his teammate down. "Ray…"
"No… they… they want me to go back…"
"No!" Ray cried out distressed, dropping the paper as if it was on fire, snapping out of Kai's grip in the process, before turning on his heel and dashing madly out of the kitchen. Tyson and Max were wide-eyed and paralyzed with fear, but the phoenix immediately jumped into action.
"Ray!" Kai called out before racing out the door behind the neko-jin. Tyson was about to follow them too, but Max stopped him, gripping the dragon blader's shoulders tightly.
"Ty, no." he said sharply, causing the navy-haired boy to look at him as if he were crazy.
"Max, didn't you just see that? Something's horribly wrong. Ray needs us." He argued, but the fair-haired boy merely shook his head.
"No… let Kai go alone… I don't think we should interfere… Whatever it is… it doesn't concern us."
Tyson began to stutter. "But… but…"
"No buts, Ty." Max said stridently, giving Tyson The Look. There was no way the Dragon could say no.
"Ok…" the Dragoon master submitted, before turning to look at the door through which Ray had left only a few seconds ago. "Ray… buddy… what's wrong…?"
"They can't do this to me… It's not fair…"
The neko-jin came to stop at the dojo's yard, close to the koi pond. Sitting on top of a flat stone, the boy put a hand to his feverish forehead. Not only was his head splitting in half, but also his hands were still shivering harshly.
That letter had brought so much to him… much despair… anguish… helplessness… and the feeling that something was not quite right.
"What is the purpose of Elder Yin summoning me back to the village after all these years, and coinciding with my dream, no less? It makes no sense to me. Something is wrong… something is horribly wrong."
"Care to explain what happened back there?"
The neko-jin jumped at hearing the other's voice. Turning around with a start, he saw Kai standing a few feet away from him, his crimson orbs scrutinizing him, searching for answers. It felt as if Kai could somehow see right through him. Unable to bear it, Ray turned away.
"That wasn't nothing. It has to do with them, doesn't it?"
Ray took a minute before answering.
"They want me to go back to the village, Kai. I don't know why, but Elder Yin wants me back… either with my consent or by force." The boy worded out, even so not turning to face his team captain.
"Don't ask me why… I don't even know myself." He cut Kai off before he could finish. With a sigh, he brushed his raven bangs from his eyes. "I just don't know."
Both teens remained in thoughtful silence for a moment, before Kai came to sit next to the other.
"What are you going to do?" he asked finally. The question had been playing in his head for some time now. Ray took a bit of time to think.
"I have to go." Ray muttered darkly, pulling his knees closer towards his body. "I have no choice. If I don't go, Yin will send for me. I don't think I could live with the shame of being dragged back to China like some scared kitten."
Kai felt a bit uneasy. Why was that elder so hung up on getting Ray back at the village? They shouldn't force the neko-jin to go back if he didn't want to. Something was up. And he wasn't about to let the gorgeous angel tackle it on his own.
The slate-haired Russian placed his hand over Ray's, squeezing it gently, causing the Chinese boy to look at him flustered, a slight blush over his cheeks.
"Kai…?" He wavered.
"I'm going with you."
Ray looked at him surprised. "What?"
"I'm going to China with you. And don't even try to dissuade me, because nothing you say or do will make me change my mind." Kai looked at Ray with a determined smirk appearing at the corner of his lips. Ray looked at Kai with confused golden orbs.
"Kai, why are you doing this? You don't have to…"
"I want to." Kai cut him short, gripping the other's hand reassuringly once more. "This is something I want to do, Ray."
For a moment, the neko-jin remained stunned, just gazing into his captain's deep scarlet eyes. A faint blush had now returned to his cheeks, and he felt his heart beating wildly in his chest.
"What's wrong with me? Why do I feel this way? … Kai… he… I…"
A gentle smile played across Kai's lips. "Let's go get your things ready."
The Chinese blader couldn't help himself. Throwing his arms around Kai's chest, he hugged him tightly.
"Kai… thank you."
"Mariah, is the house clean?"
"Did Kevin fix Rei's room?"
"Lee, Lee! Calm down! You're too anxious!" Mariah cut in Lee's rambling, pulling him to sit at the couch next to her.
Letting out a sigh, the older neko-jin ran a calloused hand through his thick black hair. "I can't help it. I'm just… so eager to see him… It's been such a long time."
"Yeah… absence does make the heart grow fonder, doesn't it?" the pink-haired girl replied, looking at her brother. "Don't think you can hide it from me!" She suddenly burst out mock-accusingly.
"HUH?" he burst out, trying to sound as clueless as possible. A little TOO clueless.
Mariah rolled her eyes. "Oh, never mind."
The dark-haired boy looked at his pink-haired sister. "What?"
Mariah looked pensive for a moment, before speaking up. "Aren't you curious as to why Rei is coming back, NOW of all times?"
Lee didn't answer. True, he did find it odd that Rei was coming back at this time. It was around the time of his parents' death anniversary, and Rei disliked these days with a passion. So why was he coming now? It was a very good question indeed.
To Be Continued…
Sorry for the short update, but I hope I can bring more to you guys soon! Thank you for all your support! Love you! Until next time!
Ruby Hiwatari aka Neko Phoenix Girl
P.S. Review, please! Make my lonely Valentine's Day a happier one!