"Bend and Not Break"
By Roby Carr
Prologue - Too Little, Too Late

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"Golden Tiger Claws!" Clay cried, slashing his arm through the air and creating a portal, "I swear I won't let that man die." And with those words, he nodded to his friend, stepped into the portal,and it closed.

Kimiko watching in awe as the large Texan boy reappeared on the highest beam of the Golden Gate Bridge, offering his hands towards the man standing up there as a sign of peace. When the team had broken up, Omi and Rai to chase after the latest Shen-Gong-Wu, while the other two saved the life of this man, she had been more self-assure. Now she was terrified just watching, but Clay looked perfectly balanced.

Until the man jumped and Clay leaned down to grab him, not realizing what he had done until it was too late. His balance was gone and the boy was free-falling. There was hardly enough time for the Japanese girl to gasp and squeeze her eyes closed before she heard the nightmarish thud and tears welled up behind her eyes.

In an instant, Clay's life had been struck away by a cruel twist of fate playing upon his kindness to strangers, his willingness to help. And when Kimiko felt a hand grasp her arm, she broke down into sobs, stumbling away, unable to face Omi with his eyes wide and filled with shock or Rai with his head turned down, hair covering his gaze.

Clay, their rock, was gone.

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A/N: I've always had issues with writing Clay's character when I try to do fics. He doesn't talk much, if at all, and he really just bugs me because he had absolutely nothing fun. I mean, Kimiko's cute and crazy, Rai's a sexy beast, and Omi's a freaking moronic monk for God's sake! But a completely boring cowboy is just that... boring. The only thing I liked about him was his colorful similes.

The thing is, usually, if I dislike a character I'll just deal with it and write him or her in anyway, but Clay continued to grate at my nerves as I wrote this big Xiaolin series I'm working on. So I decided to fix my issues by killing him. I killed Clay.

I know, I know. South Park moment time: "You bastard, you killed Clay!" We've all gotten that off our chests now and we can deal with it. I still enjoy Clay's interactions with Rai, so I'll make sure to add him a lot in flashbacks and if I decide I don't totally hate him - which won't ever happen - I'll bring him back from the dead. Har har. Not gonna happen.

Feliz navidad, fellow Christians. Other peoples, happy holidays. I'll try to post before Christmas though.

- Roby Carr