Dragons will be Dragons

Well, we're in the home stretch. Welcome to the last, final chapter! Here's where I address the Raimundo's-last-name problem. I just love being tricky… :D


Note: I warn, for the greater good, that one does not say "I own Xiaolin Showdown", unless you want a lawsuit… or if you have the word "Don't" somewhere in there.

"I don't own Xiaolin Showdown."


Ch. 10: a place to call home

It took a few days to get everything back in order. After the storm, Skye called in a doctor to check Zeik, David and Rai for any injuries. Raimundo slept for a long time, while David and Zeik only got up periodically.

Clay and Kimiko helped put the house back to order after the hurricane hit, even if they were exhausted themselves. Skye and Master Fung did even more; after putting the house back together, they ordered the children to sleep while going to the market and helping the community put their belongings in order, and to help those who were injured.

Finally the activity slowed after a few days, and the last bit of normalcy came in the morning on the fourth day, as they were eating breakfast in Skye's overly-large kitchen.

Mai looked in on them shyly from the doorway. She still wasn't used to the visitors, but she had something odd in her eye. When Skye beckoned her over, she didn't move, instead hugging her trademark teddy bear tightly. "Rai's not in his room," she said quietly.

Skye took a deep breath, trying to let it out with control. "That kid…" he muttered, standing. "I'll be back." He informed them, then left.

-


-

Skye had a sneaking suspicion that Raimundo would be outside, and he was right. It had taken a few minutes to spot him, but once he did, he was happy enough just to watch the boy.

Raimundo had picked himself a nice, sunny spot overlooking the cliff. The cliff that he had fallen off of only three days ago, to be exact. Rai sat with his back to a tree, staring out into the nearby ocean that the cliff overlooked. He seemed at peace, and all the worry from before was gone from his face.

Finally, Skye had to approach him. Although Rai looked content, the boy would still be tired from flying. And, the fact that he'd come out here proved that there was clearly something bothering him. Reluctantly, the adult approached.

"You should be in bed," he said, giving Rai a start. The boy jumped in his place, looking over to his caretaker with a surprised glare. The adult gave an apologetic smile, coming over and sitting on the grass nearby. "Sorry for scaring you, but it's true. You really shouldn't be out here alone. Mai was worried."

Rai didn't say anything. He watched Skye for a few minutes, then turned his head to look out to the sea once more. The wind picked up, plucking at the boy's white cotton shirt. Skye sighed. "Something wrong?"

"I'm going to be leaving, aren't I?" he asked.

The adult ran his squarish fingers through his dark hair. "I won't make you if you don't want to go," he said truthfully. "Master Fung isn't one to push unnecessary responsibility on children. It's your choice to stay or go."

"And if I go," Rai plucked out a stray blade of grass that was tickling his leg. "Then I get control of these stupid powers."

Skye nodded. "You would be able to control them much better than you do now."

Rai remained silent, plucking another shred of grass from the ground beneath him. He looked out to the sea.

"Something wrong?" Skye asked kindly, hoping that Rai would tell him. He hated seeing the boy struggle like this.

With a slight hesitation, Rai looked back at his mentor. "My family." he managed after a moment. It wasn't a full sentence, but it was enough.

Skye gave him a kind smile. "It's all right." he said. "So you're worried about leaving them behind. But I'm sure that they'd just want what was best for you." He stopped for a moment, looking out over the sea. "Are you afraid of leaving them? Of being homesick?"

Rai struggled with the reason, trying to explain. "I just… I just don't want to leave them, you know?" Raimundo sighed, looking out towards the horizon. "I'm afraid that the moment I leave, you'll… I don't know, ditch them."

The unexpected insecurity made Sky laugh aloud. "Ditch them? Why would I 'ditch' your family?" he asked. A look into the kid's eyes made him frown, though, and a mild shock replaced his laughter. "You can't seriously believe that I would," he stated.

Raimundo shrugged. It DID sound stupid now that he said it aloud. "It's just… my parents had no trouble just LEAVING us like that. Why would you?"

There was a moment of silence as Skye blinked at him. "Because I consider you, and your siblings, to be my family." the man stated slowly.

"But…" Rai trailed off.

With a sigh, Skye reached into his back pocket. "I didn't want to show you this, I wanted it to be a surprise." He said, more to himself than to Rai. "But… here." He handed the kid a bunch of folded up papers.

Slowly, Rai took it and unfolded them. They appeared to be forms, and each had his sibling's names on them. He shuffled through them until he saw one with his own name scrawled on it. Curiously, he looked at it, and then to Skye. "What's this?"

"Adoption papers." Replied the man, making Raimundo's jaw drop.

"But… but how?!" Raimundo's eyes snapped back to the papers, giving them another look-over.

Skye shrugged. "I took your parents to court." He answered. "For Child abuse and neglect. I won. And then, I filed in to be your adoptive father. For you and your brothers and sisters. Your parents can't come back and 'claim' you, you are no longer part of the Sanchez family. You are now "Raimundo Pedrosa"." He looked over to Raimundo. "Is that ok?"

"Is it Ok? Is it OK?" Rai repeated. He nearly hugged the guy. "Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

"I was going to give it out as a birthday present," He shrugged.

Raimundo inspected the papers for a few more minutes, then looked up in wonder. "Pedrosa." He said, as if he were trying the word out in his ears. It sounded… good. "Raimundo Pedrosa."

Skye stretched with a groan. "Of course, now I'm going to have to give the rest of the family—your brothers and sisters—their papers, too. I wonder how they will react?" He said, more to himself than to Rai. He gave the green-eyed boy a glance. "I can have more copies made, if you want to keep the paper," he offered.

Raimundo studied him for a few seconds, then nodded. He looked towards the horizon, the ocean glinting in his eyes. "You really are taking care of us, aren't you?" he asked quietly.

"I promised," Skye said with a shrug. "And besides… it's a pleasure."

"Except for that time when Matt broke your entire "Glass animals" collection when he hit that golf ball in the basement," he muttered with a smirk tickling his face. "I can't assume that experience was a 'pleasure'."

Skye laughed. "Actually, looking back on it, that was pretty funny." He admitted. "Except for the part where he tried to clean it up and got cuts all over his hand. THAT part, I still don't like."

Rai studied his mentor; he'd been studying since Skye had first come out here. Raimundo was always a very perceptive child, and he wanted to see if he could detect anything off about his teacher. Over the past year, Skye had earned his trust, but this was really a final test. To see if obligation would carry on even if Rai wasn't there to remind him.

But to heck with obligation. Right now, it seemed that Skye was acting less on responsibility and more on the fact that he actually… cared. Skye cared about Rai and his family.

So he didn't have anything to worry about, after all.

Finally, he broke the silence. "So, anyway, about this Xi-… lin… temple thing." Rai started again, struggling with the name.

"Xiaolin." Skye corrected. "What about it?"

"I was thinking I'd go. But… I have a question. The old man mentioned something about dragons…" Raimundo trailed off, his green eyes lighting on his 'stepfather'. Under the Brazilian boy's gaze, Skye shifted uncomfortably.

"I'm sorry," the man apologized. "I should've mentioned it to you sooner."

Rai studied him. "What… isa dragon, anyway? Not a creature, a dragon."

Skye sighed, and began explaining things to his student.

-


-

They were finally ready to go. It had taken about a week for Raimundo to get back up to full strength—or, at least well enough for Skye to let him go. The stay had been a rather long one, compared to the Japan and America visits, but it was welcomed.

The house was nice, and Kimiko and Clay got to experience some more of the Brazilian culture—particularly the day after Rai woke up, when Skye had given the rest of the kids their adoption papers. Everyone had been surprised (and extremely happy,) and so they'd thrown a party. The atmosphere was quite different, as was the food; Kimiko took a particular liking to one candy that the quiet little girl Mai had told her was called "Paçoca" which was a peanut-based hard candy. When Kim told her that she wished she could have more, but was afraid she'd eat too much and get fat (it was a really good candy, after all,) Mai had actually laughed.

After the party, the travelers learned that Raimundo was indeed coming with them, but Skye wouldn't let him go until he was fully recovered. That's why they'd waited a full week; holding up for the green-eyed boy to get better. Over that week, they'd all become close and made good friends, and when Skye finally announced that Rai was well enough to not only walk on his own, but well enough to actually start training again, they almost wished they didn't have to leave.

Maybe they would be staying longer, they found, when Skye did a head-count. As the adult's eyes took roll of all the people coming to the airport, he slowly turned white. "We have ten children and two adults." He said, his eye twitching slightly.

"And a dragon," Kimiko added under her breath in a whisper, making Clay smirk.

"Minivans only hold eight people, nine people tops!" Skye said throwing his arms up in frustration. "We are not going to shove everyone into one car! Fung, tell me you can drive!"

"Drive." The martial arts master repeated. He gave Skye a look that was so disbelieving that Skye actually recoiled for a second.

"Okay, fine, never mind," the other adult muttered. "You know, friend, you could get with the times a bit…"

Vince, Raimundo's eldest brother, stepped forward. He caught Skye by the shoulder just as his stepfather was turning around. "Have you forgotten that I can drive?" he asked quietly.

David, hearing him, hooked his arm around Vince's neck. Vince, who was much quieter than David, looked kind of unsure of the contact, but David just flashed Skye a huge smile. "Yeah, Skye, c'mon," he said, his heavy Brazilian accent making his words sound even more playful than they should've. "Let Vince 'n me take the guests. I wanna have some elbow room, for once!"

"Yeah, we're always so crowded when we go somewhere together!" Matt, who was the second youngest male in the family, chipped in. he hung on Skye's arm. "Pleezzeee?"

Skye heaved a heavy sigh. "All right, all right. Vince, you take the green van," he said, digging into his pocket for the keys. He tossed them to the oldest boy, who caught them clumsily, surprised that the man had thrown the keys to him. "Take our guests, too…" Skye frowned, looking at David. "And, oh, what the heck. Take David and Matt, too, since they're arguing about elbow room."

Matt whined for a moment, but David gave a huge victory grin. "Yesssss!" he curled his fist and made a pulling motion, clearly delighted. "I call shotgun!"

"Shot…gun?" Kimiko repeated, unsure.

"It means "I call the front seat"," Clay clarified for her. He took a second to blink at her, still surprised at what she was wearing; today, she'd decked herself out in a red-white-and-blue outfit that reminded him of the American Flag. She also wore gloves to the elbow, and her hair was dyed blonde and framed her face. The long black hairs were pulled back into a wrap of some sort. Now, how the heck had she done all that in one night…?

Kimiko blinked at Clay's explanation of the word Shotgun. "Oh." She said. She'd never heard the term before. Cars weren't incredibly widespread in Japan, since they were so expensive. People preferred to take the bullet train instead, or the subway. Kim was used to riding in cars, but still…

David gave Skye a thumbs-up, taking Matt by the arm. "We'll get in the car," he said happily, and then gave a look to Vince. Something passed between them in that gaze, something that Kimiko couldn't place. But then it was gone, and he turned to leave.

Vince sighed, turning his attention on his guests. "The car is this way. Are you ready to go?" he asked, pointing towards the garage.

"I sure am," Clay said, picking up his bag. "Where's Raimundo?"

"Being slow, I'm sure." Vince said, giving a little smile.

"Actually, I'm ready to go," a voice said from behind, making them all jump. They turned to see Rai leaning against the house, eyeing them. "I've been ready since yesterday. But our dearest Stepfather seems to think that I should stay in bed, so I had nothing to do but pack yesterday." He sniffed in disdain. "Are we ever going to leave…?"

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Rachel's voice came from the nearby door. Finally she stepped out, and Rai rolled his eyes. "What?"

"Doing your makeup?"

"No! I was just…"

"Doing your makeup."

"I was not!"

Rai opened his mouth to say something else, but Skye grabbed him by the arm. "C'mere, Rai, we've gotta get going," he said, breaking up the almost-fight. "We're going to miss the plane—we've still got to get through security, and…" he started ranting off, leading Rai by the arm down the path to the car that was waiting. Rachel followed, looking slightly guilty.

As she passed the travelers, she slowed. "Vince?" she said, spotting him with the foreigners.

"I'm taking a separate car, with them and David and hyper-boy," he said, calling Matt by his nickname, "Hyper-boy". Apparently, it was some inside joke that no one else understood.

Rachel eyed him for a second, then looked down. "Look, don't harass them or anything," she said quietly. When Vince paused, she gave him a look. "You're not going to—! Geezus, I knew I heard you and David talking last night!" she snapped.

"Why do you say 'geezus' all the time? You sound like David when you do." Vince said quietly, changing the subject.

Rachel shook her head, not answering the question. "Whatever. Just… just please watch your words," she warned, trotting to catch up to Raimundo and Skye.

Clay paused, considering what he'd just heard. What was that all about? Meanwhile, Vince turned back to Master Fung. "Are you ready to go?" he asked again. When the martial arts master nodded, he led them towards the garage, where David had disappeared off to. The Texan hooked a thumb into his belt loop, taking care as he followed them, so he wouldn't upset the earth. Part of him was apprehensive of the flight; he'd finally be seeing where he'd live for the next year or two. But now, that little conversation had added to it—what was going to happen? In the back of his mind, though, he knew that whatever Vince and Rachel were talking about, it wasn't going to be bad.

We'll see, he told himself. We'll see what's up.

-


-

In the car ride over, Vince kept his eyes on the road, both hands secured to the wheel. He seemed to be considering something, but he didn't say what. Kimiko studied the older boy, silently admiring how reserved he seemed. Back in Japan, most boys seemed rude and would make racist comments, since the gender gap in her own country was bigger than it was in America. And yes, Kimiko would deck any boy who said any rude, lecherous, or biased comments to her.

This boy, however, was polite and mild, looking intelligent behind his glasses. He hardly seemed rude at all. In the back of her mind, Kimiko wondered if that was why Vince looked so thoughtful at the moment; he was considering saying something but didn't want to be rude about it?

She was right, of course. David, sitting next to him, was completely different. He had a dark look about him, his skin was tan and his hair jet-black. He crossed his legs and set them on the dashboard, a defiant look on his face. Only five minutes into the drive, he spoke up. "Well, Geezus, Vince, if you aint gonna say anything, I'll have to," he scolded his older brother, his black eyes glancing sideways over to where Master Fung was sitting.

This was the only thing that could've possibly made Vince snap out of it. He sighed, slowing the car a little bit. "Then tell him, I don't care." He said, his voice quiet, as though he didn't want to say such abrasive words, even mild ones like "I don't care".

David gave a scowl to his brother, then turned to their passengers. "Yes?" Master Fung asked, looking back calmly to that defiant eighteen-year-old's face.

"So anyway, my oh-so-stupid elder brother and I were talking last night." He began, jerking his head in Vince's direction, his eyes hard. "And for once, he was finally making sense. But now he doesn't want to say a thing," he shot Vince a glare. "I can assure you that he believes this, too, so listen here."

"I'm listening," Fung said.

Kimiko narrowed her eyes at the younger of the two boys. She didn't like where this seemed to be going, but in the back, she heard Matt singing quietly; "ooh, bro's gonna give it to you now… you're gonna get it, you're gonna get it…"

She wanted to hit the little kid, even though she knew it would be impolite and

stupid. She also wanted to hit David, for being a jerk. But what came out of the jerk's mouth the next moment actually shocked the Japanese girl for a moment.

"My younger brother may be an impulsive, overconfident idiot," he began, "But I can assure you, he can get in over his head. If I hear anything about you sending him into battle while he's injured, confused, or simply not ready to fight whatever this "Heylin" thing is, then you'll be hearing from us." he pointed to himself and the driver. "I know that Rai made this choice himself, so I can't expect you not to put him in danger, but there are limits. And no one, no one, touches mi familia." He gave the man a cold look. "Understand?"

There was a moment of silence. "Completely."

David seemed slightly shocked at Master Fung's answer, but he just shrugged after a moment, slouching back down into the car seat. He sulked, putting his feet back up on the dashboard. "Geezus, Vince, help me out here. I can't yell at him when he's being so… agreeable." He muttered.

"Maybe that's a good thing?" Vince gave him a cold reply. "Listen, I'm sorry for his behavior. It's just that Raimundo is our brother, and family must look out for family, you know?" he said, hoping that the martial arts master in the back would understand. "We're all we've got, or we were. Before Skye picked us up, we were starving to death. And Rai took a real big hit for us, and… well, now it's time for us to take one for him."

"I understand." Master Fung assured them. "I would never send a student of mine into danger."

They rode in silence for a while, Kimiko thinking. So, David wasn't being rude after all—ok, yes he was, but he had a reason. It was weird, hearing about their family ties. Having no siblings of her own, the girl had to wonder…

David was the only one who said anything else the entire ride, as he slumped into the seat. "Geezus, the old man's like a living duplicate of Skye! How dare he be so… honest? Honestly!" he pouted. "…though I suppose if we're leaving him with a Skye-clone, we won't have to worry…" he muttered, making Vince laugh.

-


-

When they got back to the airport, the group greeted them at the area in front of security check. Raimundo turned to address his older brothers, but he stopped short. "Wait, Vince and David were riding in the same car? With the people I'm going to be spending the rest of my teenage years with?" he demanded. "Who's stupid idea was THAT?"

"It was Skye's. Why?" David asked, giving the boy a grin.

Rai stopped short, then hid his face in his hands. "Just please tell me that you didn't go all over-protective-big-brother on them, right?" he begged.

In response, David grabbed Raimundo by the shoulders and proceeded to give him a noogie, messing up his brown hair even further. "Oh, come now, why would we be worried about you? Your head is so hard, nothing could hurt you!"

"H-hey! David! Vince, make David stop!" he begged, but Vince was laughing so hard that he couldn't manage it.

Instead, it was Skye who intervened. "Kids, come on. He's got a flight in an hour," he reminded David. "We do have to get through security yet."

David sighed, letting go of his younger brother. Rai rubbed his sore head, looking at Skye. "So I'm guessing you all can't come through Security, huh?" he asked, eyeing the line.

"That's a 'no'," Skye told him with a grin.

Kimiko felt a tug on her arm, and turned to see Clay standing over her. "Let's let 'em say their goodbyes in peace," he said, gently pulling her away.

Kim followed, mildly curious. "I don't have any siblings of my own," she admitted, looking at the group. She was too far away to hear what they were talking about, though she doubted she'd understand even if they were closer; the seven other children seemed to be all talking at once to Raimundo. "Do you?"

"Ahh… a sister," Clay admitted quietly, looking away. He didn't seem to want to talk about it, though, so Kimiko didn't ask. She turned her face back to the group that was gathered nearby.

"It was hard enough to say goodbye to my father," she said quietly. "And he was just one person. I can't imagine saying goodbye to eight different people."

Clay looked over to her, remembering in the back of his mind that he hadn't met Kimiko's mother when he'd gone to her place. And they'd been there for a few days while Kimiko got ready to leave! He was about to ask where Kimiko's mother was when something caught his eye; over by the group, the kids had finally started to back off, and Raimundo turned towards them. The Brazilian kid stopped short, though, when his younger sister Mai tugged on his shirt.

Raimundo turned back to his sis and knelt down. He was close enough so that the two other elementalists could hear him speak. "Yeah, Mai?" he asked quietly.

The young girl paused for a moment, looking bashfully at her brother from behind her stuffed animal bear, then held out her teddy bear that she'd been carrying around since Kimiko first saw her.

The boy stopped for a moment. "You're giving me Ninja Fred? But he's your good luck charm, Mai!" Raimundo said kindly, looking at his sister.

The girl blushed earnestly holding the toy out. "But I want you to have good luck!" she insisted quietly, her Brazilian accent making her voice sound almost unreal as she whispered the words.

Rai studied her for a moment, then accepted the present. He studied it for a moment, then reached out "Oh, Come here, you," he ordered, and grabbed Mai up in a hug. "I'll come back, I promise!"

"I know," whispered the girl, hugging him. Finally, she let go and retreated to her other siblings as Raimundo stood. Skye, who had watched the whole interaction from a distance as Clay, Kimiko, and Master Fung had, approached the boy.

"Are you ready to go?" Skye asked Rai quietly.

The boy looked down to the bear in his hands, then to his family. "As ready as I'll ever be," he informed his stepfather.

Skye laughed. "Well, then, good," he said with a chuckle. He clapped the boy's shoulder in his hand. "Just… make sure you don't forget about us when you get there, all right?"

"Forget you? Yeah right," Raimundo teased back.

"All right, then," Skye stood back. "Go and take on the world. Just… be careful, all right?"

Raimundo looked over to the three people waiting for him, then back to Skye. "I will," he assured. "I promise I'll be careful… dad." He added.

Skye stopped short, then smiled at his kid. "That's all I'm asking for."

-


-

Eventually, the four humans found themselves on a plane bound for China. They were all situated comfortably among the seats as the aircraft got ready to take off. Raimundo had never traveled before, so everything seemed new to him. Sure, he'd read books, magazines, and seen TV shows about other countries, but he'd never actually thought about going anywhere. Even the airport terminal was a change of pace for him. He didn't mind, since he was always open to new ideas, but the Brazilian kid had a feeling that the weirdness was just beginning.

At the moment, the boy was busy inspecting another oddity: his plane ticket. He examined the paper, holding it up to the light to better see what was written on it.

"It's odd!" He exclaimed, rubbing the name on the airplane ticket. "R-A-I-M-U-N-D-O P-E-D-R-O-S-A." he read, his face perplexed.

"You can read, congratulations." Kimiko answered flatly.

"Hey!" Rai shot back. "You've never changed names, so you have no room to talk. I've been Raimundo Sanchez my entire life, and… and it's just odd!"he exclaimed.

"Is it a bad 'odd'?" Kimiko asked, looking over Clay's body to him.

He paused for a moment, as the plane started up, lifting into the air. He didn't answer for so long that Kimiko nearly forgot that she'd asked him. Finally he turned to look at her. "No, I guess not." He said softly.

Master Fung smiled at him. "Raimundo, why don't you look out the window? I'm sure that you'd want to see this."

Rai looked around. "Window? You mean this thing?" he pointed to an oblong shape set beside him on the wall of the airplane. Master Fung nodded, and Rai hesitated, but pulled the flap up. What he saw made him gasp.

"NO WAY!" he exclaimed with glee, pressing his face to the plastic-glass that separated him from open air. "We're on top of the clouds! This is unreal! Even Ican't fly this high!" he paused, then coughed suspiciously. "Not that I can fly or anything…"

"But we saw you do it earlier…" Clay said, slightly confused.

"You… did?"

"We did."

Rai blinked at them, then sat back. "Oh," he stated simply, smoothing a crease in his green cargo pants. He opened his mouth to say something, but the only thing that came out was "Oh," again.

"Something wrong, partner?" Clay asked.

Suddenly the boy sat up with a start. "I can totally explain," Rai started. "The flying thing was just—you know—a… a thingthat happened, once, not ever again, so you don't have to pay any attention to it," he explained nervously.

"Well, shoot, I thought that was yer power," Clay said, scratching his head.

"Yeah, it was totally rad the way you saved your brother and everything," Kimiko added.

Rai's green eyes shifted sideways. "You don't think it's weird that I can levitate?"

"Fly." Corrected Master Fung, sitting beside him.

"Right. What did I say?"

Kimiko blinked at the boy, then sighed and sat back in her chair. "You know, you don't have to worry about faking it." she informed him coolly. "We all have powers, so if you don't judge, we won't."

Rai looked at her, his eyes penetrating her skin. He was trying to detect a lie, a false promise, something from her. He picked up on nothing, though. And since he could almost always detect rejection, it either meant that this girl, Kimiko, was an extremely good liar, or that she wasn't a liar at all.

Sighing, he sat back in his chair as well, eyes returning to the clouds. "Amazing…" he mumbled after a bit of time had passed. His face may have been turned towards the clouds, but his eyes were looking beyond them.

"Just amazing."

-


-

They arrived in the night. The children were beginning to feel the odd effects of the jetlag, hoping that they'd have a chance to sleep it off later. They arrived in a relatively small town, where some of the buildings were more like huts than actual houses, and an outdoor market was almost completely closed for the night.

The group found a path out of the city, leading upwards to the mountains. Kimiko, having the sharpest eyes of the group, could just barely see the stone walls of a temple peeking out from behind the grey rocks.

It wasn't a very long walk to the temple. Once they got up into the mountains, they could see it wasn't too shabby a place at all. Blue tiles slept on the roofs, while little waterfalls trickled sleepily in miniature gardens that decorated the grounds. Fireflies began their nighttime dance, speckling the grounds with soft orbs of light that shone brighter than the paper torches situated at the entrances of the various buildings.

"Wow," Kimiko breathed, her voice soft.

Clay's piercing blue eyes blinked through his blonde hair to take in his surroundings as they walked. "It aint home, but it aint bad, neither," he said quietly to himself.

Raimundo rubbed the carefully laid tiles below him with his foot, taking all the sights in. He'd never actually been away from Brazil, so this was a complete culture shock to him. But, as Clay had said, it wasn't home, but he still liked it. Quietly, he studied his surroundings. The air was almost… peaceful here. For the first time in a long time, the wind was being silent, sleeping like the rest of the temple was. It was quiet, there were no rude voices from the wind nagging him, and…

Woah. Wait a second…

The boy turned his face upwards, straining his ears for any speck of conversation that the winds might've picked up. He felt a slight disconnection with the air, though, even though he still felt he belonged with it. The realization was a quick one, and he had to comment on it.

"Do you guys feel different, or is it just me?" he asked.

The other two stopped abruptly, and Raimundo (walking behind them,) nearly broke his nose on the back of their skulls. He stepped back, raising an eyebrow, but he didn't snap at them for stopping so quickly. Instead, he waited.

Clay looked down at his hands, then up to the sky. He paused, then looked at the ground. Nervous, he lifted a foot, then warily tapped the ground with it. When nothing happened, he tried harder, and the third time, he stomped his foot on the ground.

Not even a pebble moved. The realization made the cowboy's eyes kick up in surprise, and he knelt down to the earth to inspect it. What happened? Usually, even jogging across a dirt field was enough to make the earth crack under him. Was he actually in control now?

Kimiko and Raimundo watched as Clay did this, and then She took a deep breath. She turned her attention to a nearby lamp, pointing to it.

"Burn," she ordered.

As with Clay, her flame ignored her. The torch burned as it had before, not any more or less bright than when they'd arrived. She waved her arm rapidly, hoping that the fast motion might prick the flame's interest, but it just sat quietly, humming warmth and light to its surroundings.

And for some reason, the air of this place just couldn't let her get angry. She felt calm, at peace… even though she was a little uneasy at the lack of people, of activity, she also felt like everything was completely, totally right.

"This is really weird," she admitted, letting her arm fall to her side again. Clay and Raimundo nodded in agreement.

From the pathway, Master Fung had stopped and watched them, his eyes glittering knowingly. He waited for them to catch up, and when they did, he gave them a comforting smile.

"So do you like your new home?" he asked, leading them into a nearby building.

The three looked around, then simultaneously nodded.

The old man chuckled. It was going to be a good year.

-


-

"This is the main hall," the man informed the children, opening the door to them. They stepped inside, scattering to different places as they looked at the various objects mounted up on pedestals or tapestries on the walls. On the far side of the room, a simple window decorated the wall, and the floor had a mosaic design of two fish swimming around each other in a yin-yang pattern.

Kimiko turned just in time to see Dojo crawl out of the man's coat, and whisper something in his ear. After the old man nodded, the lizard like creature slid off his shoulder down to the floor, going out the door into the darkness again.

Master Fung smiled at her, and the two boys. "This is where we eat in the mornings, and occasionally have indoor studies when the weather outside is less than perfect," he informed them, stepping forward. "Your bags have arrived a few hours ago, and were put into your rooms. I will show them to you shortly, but first I must check up on another monk who resides here at the temple."

"You mean the Dragon of Water kid?" Rai asked.

Master Fung nodded. "Yes, that is who I am talking about," he agreed, turning away. "Excuse me while I go find him… please make yourselves at home, in the meantime." He bid, and left.

The three exchanged nervous glances. A few seconds passed, as no one said anything. Kimiko tugged at a strand of her blonde-dyed hair uneasily. Raimundo shifted on his feet, and Clay stuffed his hands into his pockets. Now that the old man was gone, it seemed sort of uncomfortable. Kimiko was the first to break the silence.

"So we live here now." She stated.

"I guess." Clay replied.

"Yeah, but I don't see what the point is. I mean, we're supposed to be fighting 'evil'?" Raimundo sighed, rolling his eyes. "That makes no sense whatsoever."

"It sorta does, when ya think a'bout it…" Clay said quietly.

Silence.

"Why did we come here, anyway?" Raimundo muttered.

"To control our powers, duh." Kimiko replied in a matter-of-fact voice.

"No, I mean, why did… oh, never mind." The Brazilian sighed in annoyance.

Clay blinked slowly. After a moment, he spoke up. "It's true, you know. We all came here because we wanted to have our powers settle. Because…" he paused. "Because we wanted to live relatively normal lives."

"We're going to live relatively normal lives by going to monk school halfway around the world with two—sorry, three—other elementals, fighting evil and gathering magic items?" Raimundo scoffed.

"No…" Clay said slowly. "No… we're going to live relatively normal lives by living here and not being judged because of our unique abilities."

Rai froze, and Clay looked at him sideways. "That IS what you wanted, right?" he asked.

"Well, I…" Raimundo began, but fell silent.

"That's… I guess that's what I want, too." Kimiko put in.

Raimundo found himself nodding. "I guess you're right…" he said, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "I'd like to be able to walk somewhere without people pointing at me in fear… I'd like to be somebody's equal… I'd like… I'd like a place to call… home."

"Home…" Kimiko hummed lightly, an odd look in her eyes.

"This is our home now." Clay nodded, putting his hand on the wall.

There was another silence, but it was more comfortable than the last one. The gentle sound of rain began outside, water falling from the clouds to cleanse the dark earth. It was a very peaceful noise. Finally Rai plopped his backpack on the ground and went over to look out the window, viewing the dark terrain with interest. "I could get used to calling this place home." He stated.

"You took the words right outta my mouth, partner." Clay agreed.

"No kidding. I think I'm going to like it here, with you two." Kimiko nodded. "Even if there's no internet access. Two guys might be enough of a distraction from that fact."

"Three." Rai reminded her.

"By the way," Clay glanced around. "Where's that 'Dragon of the Water' character anyhow?"

As if on cue, Master Fung's voice came through the air to their ears. "Speaking of surprises Omi," the voice called. "There's some people I want you to meet…."

-


-

yes, I know that's not quite what he says, but I needed an ending!

Btw, CONGRADULATIONS! You and I have reached the end of the story! Hip hip, hooray!

Story Stats:

Dates: 1-16-07 to 5-24-08
Number of Chapters: 10
Number of Pages: 94 in WORD
Number of Words: 50,908 (with Author's notes)
Number of Reviews (currently): 50

Reviewer Dedication:

I'd like to give a Thank You to:
mel, SharadaGirl, Terra Young, windbabe4eva93, EAPshadows, Numbuh 734, Shadow Saber Knight, Rena 26, De-Irish-Waffle, Kloogy, desdemona, XiaolinFireGirl, …., Loki DeZia, lizzyguurl, sugarmakesmeangry, Anatonia Barcelona, Cursed Destiny, lapse in judgement (aka smallvilleshowdown), Koji Shindou, Luiz4200, xxFireWarriorxx, nishikaze and Evil Midgit Turtle and I don't have an account
for all reviewing my story!

Special thanks to:
Loki DeZia, lizzyguurl, sugarmakesmeangry, Anatonia Barcelona, Cursed Destiny, lapse in judgement (aka smallvilleshowdown), Koji Shindou, Luiz4200, xxFireWarriorxx, nishikaze and Evil Midgit Turtle
For all reviewing my story multiple times!

And finally, thanks to
Loki DeZia, Lapse In Judgement, Shadow Sabre Knight, nishikaze, …., mel, and Evil Midgit Turtle
For their insightful reviews, in which I learned something about my writing or where I learned about an error in my story that needed to be fixed … that's how a review is supposed to be. Thank you!

Anyway, beyond that, this story is finis. :waves: thank you for reading the story to the end! I intend to make another XS story, someday, after I finish what I've got out now. Three stories to finish… yikes. Keep your eyes peeled just in case I throw one out there. So, this was an overall fun experience… and I finished a story! Thanks to those who read, reviewed, faved, or subscribed to a story alert! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have!

Adios!