I'd sort of hoped, after yesterday's events, that things would go back to normal. But no, apparently life seemed to love throwing curve balls at me. Because the next afternoon, after calling a meeting with my warriors and the Byakko warriors I had, I sat on my couch with my lap top, looking up plane tickets for the Suzaku and Seriyu warriors and their priestesses while waiting for my warriors to arrive. Crin, who as usual, showed up with Tomite early—with poor Tian tagging along although he looked exhausted—was sitting on the other couch, ignoring poor Tian as he sat in a chair on the opposite side of the coffee table, half asleep with boredom.

That's when the doorbell rang.

"OH, I'LL GET IT!" Crin cried, jumping up and running for the door before either of us could say anything. When she reached the door she stopped, running a hand over her dress—which Tian was eyeing warily—and opened the door. "Why, hello…OH MY CRUD IT'S STUPID FACE!" She suddenly shouted, lunging back from the door and crouching in a defensive position.

Instantly I had pushed my lap top onto the table and stood, ready to run to the hallway closet where I kept my gun if needed. But Tian didn't seem to get the message. "Must you call everyone either stupid face or idiot?"

Crin slightly glanced over her shoulder, "If they deserve it, yes—and this guy definitely deserves it."

"Hey look, Crin," A familiar, heart-stopping, ice cold voice drifted from the door, making me freeze in place—Hagus. "There's candy behind you."

Crin psh-ed, "Like I'd ever fall for that,"

At that moment Tomite, who'd been in the kitchen with my husband, walked in, a tray of cookies on a plate, "Crin, I made you some morning…" He stopped, seeing who was at the door, his jaw dropping in shock. For a moment he stood there, gaping at Hagus before he frowned and set the cookies on the coffee table. "Great, it's stupid face." Tomite grumbled, crossing his arms.

Hagus ignored the reactions of Crin and Tomite and proceeded to step into my house, closing the door behind him. "I love the manners of your," he eyed Crin warily, "Friends, priestess."

Crin snorted, "We're not the one's barging in uninvited," she pointed out—I refrained from pointing out the fact that she actually did do that all the time.

It was then that the kitchen door opened and in came Limdo, the cherry that would top off this big mess. "Takiko, who's at the door—Takiko, why in the WORLD is Hagus here?" Limdo was instantly by Crin's side, and had changed into his woman form, ready to defend if Hagus made a threatening move.

I watched as Hagus rolled his eyes and Tian, who had never seen Limdo in his woman form, do a double take. "It's a personal quirk," I told him, trying to throw on a smile.

Tian shook his head, "I think it's more than a personal quirk," he mumbled. For once I agreed with him.

Obviously the situation was getting out of hand quickly, so I cleared my throat, drawing the attention to myself—except for Limdo and Crin, who were still in defense mode. Instantly everyone's attention snapped to me, including Hagus' frightening, cold, blue-eyed stare. I suddenly didn't feel so confident anymore—I looked down at my toes for a brief second before I looked back up at the others. "What, may I ask, are you doing here?" I asked my voice quiet with no trace of negative emotion in my voice.

Hagus looked at me for a long time before he answered, "My brother—where is my brother?"

At first his question surprised me, but then I remembered that we'd rescued him recently. "He's coming over right now; he's living with the guys."

"You have two houses?" Hagus scoffed.

"The boys are living in my old apartment. I'm a married woman now—I couldn't have all of my warriors living at my house, otherwise we'd never get some peace and quiet." Hagus smiled the smallest smile and nodded his head.

"Well then. Has he decided whether or not to join your group?" I nodded and watched as Hagus registered that, his expression becoming contemplative.

"And what do you plan to do about it?" I asked, my heart beating loudly in my chest. Hagus was the only warrior I needed; once I had him, I would have all of my warriors and we'd be another step closer to ending this madness.

Hagus was silent for a long moment before he sighed. "There is no choice; I will not fight against my brother. I will join you, only because he joins you…"

"You could be grateful you know," Crin snapped angrily, "She put her life in danger in order to save your brother, you should not only be thanking her but you should be pledging your absolute loyalty to her!"

Hagus' eyebrows furrowed as his gaze narrowed at her. "I'm joining your team, aren't I?" he snapped.

"Like that fixes everything you've done to my wife," Limdo snarled.

"Let it go you two," I finally snapped, growing impatient with the conversation. "If he wants to join, he can; in fact all of us know that it's preferable." My gaze hardened as I looked each of the warriors (and priestess) in the eye. "And all of you will treat each other civilly…that means you Crin."

Crin looked slightly offended, "So that means that I can't throw an axe at his head?" She questioned, making all of us stare at her incredulously.

"No Crin, that isn't civil." I reminded her patiently.

"How about a brick?"

"No."

"A flaming pillow?"

"No,"

"Candy?"

"Crin, I said no!" I said firmly, indicating that the discussion was over. Crin sighed in defeat, but the spark of mischievousness didn't leave her eyes. Better make sure she doesn't try anything, I mentally noted before turning back to the discussion at hand.

But Hagus was already continuing on as though no one had said anything. "But just because I'm joining you does not mean I'm going to be hanging around here all the time."

I nodded my head in understanding. "Understood," I said, "I don't expect you too, as long as you're here when I need you to be."

Hagus nodded, "I'll give you my cell number and apartment address before I leave. Which brings me to another matter," I tensed, waiting for what he was about to say. "Where does Tegu stay?"

I blinked in surprise; I hadn't expected him to ask that question. I had sort of expected to give Tegu one of the spare rooms at the apartment, only to realize that the apartment was now filled to capacity. "Well, he could stay in the mansion I guess…" that earned me a hiss of protest from Limdo.

"I don't think your husband wants to give up any more 'alone time' with you than he already has to." Hagus mused in what I supposed was his form of amusement—if Hagus was capable of feeling such an emotion.

"Well we already need to discuss future living arrangements today in our meeting," I grumbled, shooting him a glare, "He knows as well as I do that there's nothing we can do about it."

"I'm not sure I want Tegu to be in a place filled with a bunch of strangers," Hagus started, but I interrupted.

"But we're not strangers, if you'll recall you two were with us for the last part of our journey in the world of the book…"

"He doesn't know Crin," Hagus pointed out, "or…that man," he said, pointing to Tian, "Or any of the other warriors of the other Priestesses. You know as well as I do that he doesn't do well with strangers, especially so many at a time."

I scowled, knowing he was right. It didn't help that once again most of his life he'd once again been captured by the crazy wakos in the Roun clan. "So what, he stays with you? I highly doubt your apartment is a place for children. How many lethal weapons do you have in there?"

"I do not leave my weapons lying out on the counter priestess," Hagus snapped, rolling his eyes, "they're locked up in a hidden safe." I still wasn't convinced; even though Hagus and Tegu were brothers, I still wasn't comfortable leaving Tegu in his care. Seeing my uncertainty, Hagus sighed. "What if I took him to your apartment every morning at nine? That way I can have him with me at night and you can make sure I'm not scaring him for life or something during the day."

I considered that, glancing at Limdo to see what he thought. By the look in his silver eyes, I could tell that he didn't see anything wrong with it. But instead of agreeing, I shook my head. "I guess it would be fine, but I would like to hear what Tegu wants." As I said that, we listened as a car pulled up in the driveway. "Well speak of the devil," I mumbled, ignoring Limdo's and Crin's warning looks and shoving past Hagus to get to the front door.

I opened it and walked out into the front yard where Hikitsu was getting out of the car, the other doors opening. "Tegu, where's Tegu?" I demanded before he was even fully out off the car.

"Uh, he's right here…" Hikitsu started and a moment later Tegu stepped out of the back of the car, peering at me curiously.

"What is the matter Lady Priestess?" Tegu asked as I approached him, kneeling so that I was face to face with him.

"Tegu remember that you don't have to call me that," I whispered, ruffling his hair with my hand. By his request we'd gotten it cut for him and it was now short and spiked.

He grinned that boyish grin of his, reminding me just how young, innocent and fragile he was. It still made me angry to think of what Temdan had done to him all those years before I'd rescued him again. "But I like calling you Priestess,"

"Okay then, you can call me whatever you like." I ruffled his hair again and then continued onto the matter at hand. "Your brother is inside waiting for you," I hardly had the words out and he had instantly pulled away, a huge smile on his face as he rushed past me and in through the open door behind us.

I sighed and shook my head. Typical. Abandoning me for his stupid older brother.

"What was that all about?" Hikitsu asked, approaching me, "Oh and by the way I think Crin and Tomite are here already, you might want to check your rooms…"

"They are. Crin and Limdo almost killed Hagus and Tomite already made breakfast cookies." I replied tiredly.

"Hagus is here? Has he joined?" I nodded my head.

"He won't be staying with us and won't meet with us until the actual battle, however." I told him solemnly.

"Good," Hikitsu grumbled just as the other car with the girls pulled into the long drive way. "I never really liked him anyways."

I stood back up and, after waiting for the girls to get out of the car we turned and headed back into the house, where Tegu was sitting on the couch talking to his brother in hushed tones.

The rest of the room stood in complete awkward silence.

"If all of you will make your way to the meeting room, it would very much be appreciated." I ordered, startling four other warriors in the room. For a moment everyone stood there, glancing from me to the two brothers on the couch to me again before hesitantly they began to make their way up the stairs.

Except for Crin and Limdo, and because they stayed Tomite and Tian stayed as well, both of them inching closer to Crin's side. Crin didn't seem to notice their presence until, in an effort to be as close to her as possible, they were on either side of her. "Um, do either of you know the meaning of the words 'personal space'?" Crin snapped and hesitantly they backed up, but only a few paces.

"I meant all of you." I sighed, but once again none of them listened. Instead Limdo came to my side, wrapping one arm protectively around me. In other words, "There is no way I'm leaving you down here alone with Hagus". Probably a wise decision, but if I needed to I knew I could have gone and fetched my gun from the near by closet.

We all waited there, all of us uncomfortable and tense before finally Tegu got up and came to stand before me, a serious look in his eyes. "I promise, Priestess, that I will serve you diligently, but my place is with my brother. It has always been with my brother." I knew that. Of course I knew that. It just made me uncomfortable to think of Tegu in such a bland environment.

But there was nothing I could do about that if it was what he wanted. If I were to take it up in a court of law, I would lose because Hagus was his brother and could technically take care of him.

"Alright," I found myself saying through numb lips before I turned my attention back to Hagus who was standing, a smug look in his eyes. "I want a phone call from him at least once a night and if he sounds the least bit upset, I will drag him from the apartment myself. Don't think I won't!"

"After the past few months, I do not doubt you when you say you'll do something." Hagus said, and Limdo tensed beside me. I quickly put a comforting hand on his chest.

"If you try to run, I will help her by tracking you down." Crin added as an afterthought and I threw a grateful glance her way…which she missed because she was still glaring daggers at Hagus, who paid her no mind.

"I know you will Crin, but I have pledged my loyalty to Takiko and I mean to keep it. Here's my cell number." He pulled a card from his pocket and flipped it onto the coffee table before turning and heading out the door.

Tegu stood there for a moment, staring after his brother before looking back up at me. "Please do not be angry Priestess; I wish for this."

"I know you do, and I'm not angry as long as you're happy." I leaned down and gave him a hug, "You call me if he's being stupid, do you hear?"

"Of course," He hugged me back before he too pulled away, turned and ran out the door after his brother.

Takiko wanted children. That much was obvious after viewing the situation between Hagus and his brother Tegu. Crin had seen that look in many women's eyes throughout the years as they looked upon other mother's and their children. Although Hagus was hardly the mother type, he still had his brother and raised him practically like a father.

And Takiko, whether she'd admit it or not, wanted to experience that feeling. Perhaps that was the real reason she wanted Tegu to stay with her.

And what about me? Crin wondered as she sat down that night in Takiko's back yard by the pool, looking into the lit up water. What do I want? She loved Tomite, but with Tian here she knew he wasn't going to make it easy for her to be with Tomite. He was going to fight for her love, and now that he'd sort of adjusted to this group's strange ways, he was probably comfortable enough to start.

She groaned and rubbed her forehead. Tomite, on the other hand, had been making it clear that she was his fiancée with the way he talked to her, the way he touched her and the way he treated her. He had not yet said much about Tian's arrival, but she knew that it was soon to come.

The meeting had become quite uncomfortable because, as Crin and Takiko purchased tickets for the warriors and the two other priestesses, as a group they discussed the living arrangements until the final battle was over with. When Takiko pointed out that there was no more room in the apartments and that she wasn't about to have them sleep on the floor since they were sacrificing a lot to come and fight (apparently Miaka had children and Yui was engaged), the atmosphere immediately intensified when she proposed that they open up their house to their guests. Limdo almost had a heart attack and Takiko had to pull him out into the hall to have a 'husband and wife' talk. It was both cute and uncomfortable at the same time.

Right now most of the warriors had gone home to go to bed, but Tian and Tomite were inside with Takiko and Limdo, watching Live Free or Die Hard. An epic movie, one that Crin had started to watch, but when she'd sat down on the couch, Tomite and Tian had sat on either side of her, both of them shoulder to shoulder with her, making her feel like she was losing air. When Tomite reached over to take her hand, Tian tried to take her other hand, and she immediately claimed she needed to pee and instead bolted out the back door.

She didn't know how much longer she could take this. She only hoped they could find the last three warriors quickly.

Suddenly the back door opened, bringing Crin out of her thoughts as she whirled around, her face white as a sheet. She didn't know who to expect; an enemy, Tian, or even Takiko (she sort of hoped it was Takiko) but instead it was Tomite.

They stared at one another for a while, neither one of them saying anything. Finally when the silence became too uncomfortable to bear, Crin cleared her throat. "Is the movie done with?" she asked quietly.

"No, not even close." Tomite replied with a smile, but the expression didn't touch his eyes. He sighed and walked over to the pool side, where he crouched and looked into the depths of the water. Takiko had a pretty deep pool.

"What are you doing?" Crin asked, "Did you need some air or something?"

Tomite shrugged. "Something like that." And before Crin could respond, he reached his fingertips into the water until just the tips were immersed and before her very eyes he began to freeze the pool.

"What in the world...you can't freeze Takiko's pool!" Crin hissed, wondering what had gotten into Tomite; maybe he'd gone crazy after all….

"And you're not supposed to fill her pool with pudding either. Do you know how much money it takes to fix that?"

"Yes, because she makes me pay for it."

"Exactly. This will melt by tomorrow; it is August you know." Crin bit her lip nervously as he continued to freeze the pool until it was completely solid and smooth, looking almost like a mini ice rink. He drew his finger tips away and looked up at her, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Come here."

"What?" Crin squeaked, a blush rising onto her face.

"Come here; I'm not going to bite." Hesitating, Crin inched her way towards him and as soon as she was close enough Tomite reached out and picked up one of her boots, making her yelp as she tried to catch her balance.

"What in the world are you DOING?" Crin cried, trying to look down to see what it was he was doing to her boot.

"You know how to skate, right?" he asked instead, and when he let go of her boot she could feel that no longer was her boot just a shoe; he'd used ice to create a blade that attached onto her shoe.

Realizing what he was doing, Crin blushed furiously, "Tomite…Takiko's going to kill you…"

"And when has that ever stopped you before?" He asked, reaching out to take her other boot and repeat the process. Crin let him, despite the nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach, something she had not felt around Tomite since the very first time she'd laid eyes on him. "Besides," he grumbled as he finished up her other boot/skate, "You would have gladly taken me up on his offer before Tian came around."

Crin's face flushed but this time with anger as she pulled her foot out of his grasp. It was a good thing he'd finished; otherwise she might have been lopsided. "Don't talk that way Tomite, you know it's not that way! Besides, it's not like Tian ever did anything to you…"

"Except try to steal my fiancée."

"Well maybe I won't go ice skating with you…" Crin started but Tomite grasped her hand firmly and yet gently.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, "I didn't mean…" he sighed and shook his head, letting go of her hand to begin his own shoes, and Crin watched in silence as he used ice to form a blade on the bottom of his own shoes. "I don't want….I just want to be with you right now."

She couldn't help it; she wanted to stay mad at him, but when he talked like that, her heart melted. So instead of leaving she stepped onto the ice, trying to look comfortable with the situation when inside she knew that if Tian were to look out the window he'd…well, she didn't know what he'd think.

She twirled around in circles for a while until Tomite finished and got up to join her. At first they skated in silence, but eventually Tomite stopped and reached into the pocket of his jeans. "It's a little quiet for my taste, don't you think?" Crin stopped as well, her orange eyes (for suspicion) studying him as he pulled out Takiko's universal remote and pressed a button. Immediately Takiko's speakers that were disguised cleverly as rocks began to softly play Norah Jones' "Don't know why".

And then Tomite turned his gaze to meet hers and the world seemed to melt away. No longer were her thoughts on Tian, only on the man who stood before her; the man, she realized, who she still loved, even if Tian was there, trying to steal her heart away. She was different now, she realized, and though she didn't know this man like she knew Tian, she loved him nevertheless.

So she didn't say anything in objection when he skated forward until they were toe to toe, their bodies so close she could feel his aura surround her. Her breathing accelerated with her heart beat as he leaned even closer until his forehead pressed against hers. "I love you," he whispered, taking her hand in his as his other hand went to her waist.

They skated slowly to the music in a small circle, neither one of them breaking eye contact, their faces so close that Crin knew if she just leaned forward her lips would touch his. But she didn't attempt it; she instead let him lead and when he finally leaned in and brushed his lips against hers, the desire she'd held back for so long released and she was kissing him deeper, passionately, as though letting him go would make him disappear. And she couldn't handle that, not now. Now she knew that Tian, though he was back and though she loved him for so long, those feelings didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was that this man, the man she kissed now, was all hers, and that she loved him and he loved her back.

When they broke for air, Crin leaned her forehead against Tomite's, their labored breathing mingling together. "I love you too, more than you'll ever know."

"I trust you Crin," and Crin knew why he said that. There was no need to discuss it further. Whatever worries they'd had about their relationship when Tian had come into the picture, they were gone now. She wasn't worried about falling out of love with Tomite and he wasn't worried that he'd lose her to Tian. "No matter what happens, I will always trust you."

"Will you?" Crin whispered back, and was answered by Tomite's kiss. She kissed him back, her lips melting with his…

"Tomite," the horribly familiar voice caused both of them to pull away, and Crin whirled to find Tian standing there, face expressionless, hands dug deep into his pockets. Realization of how this looked (and how it was) dawned on her and she tried to put a little physical distance between she and Tomite, but Tomite's grasp on her was firm, making it clear that he didn't care about hurting Tian's feelings as much as she did. And though, in some way, that angered her, she knew it was understandable.

But Tian certainly didn't seem to see it that way.

"It's time to go." And with that, without another word, Tian whirled and headed back into the house.

LOL in other words; "It's on."

Sorry its taken me so long. I got writer's block for a while and then...welll, honestly the begining of this chapter bored me. I did enjoy Crin and Tomite's little 'moment'; I needed a good romance moment.

In other news, I FINISHED ANOTHER NOVEL! :D It took me four years to write it since it's set in Medieval Ireland so a lot of research had to be put into it. So that also occupied much of my attention.

I now know how I'm going to end this thing. I think I'm going to knock out the last three warriors in one scene just because otherwise it would take forever and I'm sort of...well, I've sort of moved on from this story, though I love it. I've already started writing a 'next generation' story that's pretty epic, and I'm debating on whether or not to publish it on this website. I have big plans for it and its going to be amazingly epic.

And I'm waiting for Ch. 32 of the original story! D: HURRY UP YUU WATASE!

Love always,

Alice

P.S. Ari finally updated her story, Reborn, so GO READ IT! D: