Chapter 3: Mermaid Princess

"What the f**k is this?!?!?!" A loud voice comes from inside headquarters.

"Hyoubu-sama, what's the matter?" Mio comes out of her room.

"Where… Is my princess?!" He slams a vase of flowers against the wall, and the girl flinches.

"Princess? You mean the queen?"

"She doesn't mean anything to me anymore." He snorts, "My woman, where is she?!"

"You mean… Mai?" She asks.

"Yes, of course Mai! I need to see her!!! Now!!!" He yells.

"She might have been kidnapped." One of the subordinates tells him, "After all, if BABEL finds out that she's the one you love, then they'll target her."

"Mio!"

"Yes sir!"

"Go and find her, bring her to me! Now!!!" He barks at the small girl.

"I-I got it." She runs off.

"Poor Hyoubu-sama. He really loves that girl, and even had an interest in her when he thought she was human." A woman in black told the man with long hair.

"Indeed. He's been so much more calm and kind when she's around. But now, deep in his mind, he has a thought that she might have betrayed him."

"She was very against the idea of killing. She's not fit to be Hyoubu-sama's lover."

"Don't say that, you two!" Mio jumped up from nowhere.

"Mio…!"

"If Hyoubu-sama chose her, then she must be good. And also… I spent some time with her. She's not a bad person…"

"Hmph, you don't know anything!" The woman twirls away, angry as hell.

"She's mostly jealous." The man with black hair assured Mio, "But because she doesn't like violence, I kind of see her point."

"…If we bring her back, then maybe he'll be OK!"

"Maybe. So do your best."

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Mio flies off to where the Zettai Karen Children are. Kaoru, Shiho and Aoi are getting out of school, and start to walk home.

"I can't wait to see Mai!" Kaoru puts her hands in the air.

"Me too. She's an interesting person. She never grew up as an esper, so she really has a Normal's feel around her."

"Hey!" Mio appears in front of them.

"Mio!"

"Where's Mai?!" She glares. Oh yeah, they think to themselves, Mai had run away without saying a thing, so it would look like they took her hostage.

"We took her. She's no good with you." Aoi says calmly.

"What are you doing?!" Kaoru whispers.

"Kaoru, Mai is still in love with Hyoubu, right? Then we don't want to tarnish her reputation."

"Yeah… You're right." Shiho nods with her other friend.

"We won't give her up!" Kaoru yells.

"You…!" Mio takes her hand and teleports it behind the three girls. She strangles them, limiting their powers.

"Damn it…!" Kaoru whispers in pain.

Shine, bright morning light

Now in the air, the spring is coming

Sweet loving wind

Flow across the hills and valleys

Save your love for me

Now we're at the edge of hell

Dear my love

Bright morning light

Wait for me, you've gone much farther, too far.

Mio's powers weaken and she lets them go. Her ears hurt from my song.

"Kaoru, Shiho, Aoi!" I take them in my arms.

"Why are you here?!" Shiho yells at me.

"Huh?"

"We just told Mio we kidnapped you! You don't want to lose face with Hyoubu, do you?!"

"You guys…!" I hug them close, "It's all right. I don't want to lie." I stand up and confront Mio, "I can't come back. Don't you see, Mio? Hyoubu wants blood from the humans!"

"You fool! He does such good things!"

"I know, Mio, and I still love him with all of my heart. I love him so much, that I would take his stead for death."

"Ah…!"

"I am going to fight against PANDRA, but I will not attack Hyoubu. I refuse."

"Mai…!" Kaoru looks at me shocked.

"As promised, I will heal you all and boost you with song, but I will not touch the one I love. That will just bring more hatred to his heart."

"We understand." Aoi nods.

"I'll report this to him, do you understand?! I can say whatever you say to me!"

"Go right ahead, Mio. I know you want the best for him too. The one who saved us from hatred. You're like a little sister to me." Mio blushes and teleports away silently.

"Is this OK?"

"Yeah, don't worry." I nod to them and help them up.

"But-!"

"I think Hyoubu will still love me, even after this." I start to walk home with the girls.

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"So… She's left to make sure I don't do so much bloodshed anymore…" Hyoubu lifts his hand to his face.

"What are my orders?" The long-haired Magi stands beside Mio.

"…Don't touch her. Don't hurt her. Nothing."

"But sir-!"

"I'll win her back, you'll see." Hyoubu smirks, "She still loves me, I still love her. I'll make sure it works out."

"Hyoubu-sama…" Mio whispers, "She said she'll fight against PANDRA, but won't hurt you…"

"Hm." Hyoubu smiles and lifts his hand, "You're dismissed."

"Yes sir." They salute and exit the room.

"Can't you see that I need you by my side… Mermaid Princess." He looks at a picture of me on the wall with him. I'm holding my arms around his shoulders, my head above his left. He smiles in the photo, and I do too. I do want to see Hyoubu. So much I could cry. But I know I can't. I have to bring him to his senses.

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"Good morning…" I walk in my baggy pajamas into the kitchen, where Minamoto is cooking breakfast.

"Good morning-! Whoa-" He sees my night shirt without a bra. I look at him.

"Sorry, I'll get changed after breakfast-"

"Good morning, Mai!" Kaoru hugs me from behind. She flies, and her hands land on my breasts.

"Kya!"

"Ooh, they're soft today too!" She squeezes them in her hands, and the big things almost engulf her hands.

"Kaoru! Let her go, you're scaring her!" Minamoto yells at the girl, and she lets down.

"Che, how boring…" Kaoru pouts and sits at the chair, ready for breakfast.

"Come on, let's not freak her out, OK?" He smiles and places an egg on her plate.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I can't eat eggs plain." I tell him and start to go to my room to get dressed.

"Why?"

"I get sick."

"Would you like something else?"

"Oh, no, really, I'm fine." I smile. A slightly tired, sad look is on my face.

"What's up with Mai…?" Kaoru says softly and takes a bite of toast.

"She might be homesick."

"She's been away from her home for over a year."

"But now she's separated from her lover. How do you think she feels?" Kaoru sits there.

"She's probably hurt. The one she loves thinks she betrayed them."

"Right."

"…Hey, Minamoto… Can I take a day off of school?"

"What?! Why?!"

"I wanna see what Mai does during school. I think this goes deeper than just homesickness."

"Hm…"

"C'mon, pleeeease? It can be a mission!"

"…If you three will do it together, then fine."

"Yay, thank you Minamoto!" Kaoru hugs him tight. He blushes and lets her down.

"O-OK, wake up Shiho and Aoi. AND KEEP THIS A SECRET FROM MAI."

"Ye~s" She skips down the hallway.

"God… Soon she'll grow up to be a beautiful woman." He thinks to himself.

"All right, I'm going now." I smile and run out the door, my lunch box in hand, made by Minamoto.

"All right, to the van." He whispers to the girls.

"Right." The three children nod.

I arrive at my school, and everything is normal. No one looks at me as I enter the door. I'm early to class, and I take out some manga to read. I smile, and sometimes take the expressions of the characters.

"She's an otaku?" Kaoru looks at me from a bush. I flip through the pages. Three girls start to come in. They look at me, smirk, and then walk to their seats.

"All right class, who can answer this problem?" The English teacher points to a sentence in English. I raise my hand.

"All right, Ms. Nellaki." He nods. I guess he doesn't know that I'm American. It's a new semester, after all.

"The beautiful maiden walks down the hallway, her heart beating. What is the truth? Although she wants to be with her lover, she knows she must save him from himself." I pause, and wait for further instructions.

"How…?"

"I come from America, sir." I bow, "May I please take my seat?"

"Y-Yes, go ahead." He nods and I sit.

"What a stuck-up girl, a total know-it all." A girl behind me whispers to another.

"We'll beat her in Japanese class, at least." I ignore them and put my eyes forward. They probably will. Although I speak Japanese pretty well, I can't write to save my life. Next class is fitness, where we are going to swim. My talent.

"All right, first relay." A woman teacher holds her whistle to her lips. Phweet! And off we go. I dive and glide against the water, then flap my arms and legs to swim. I look like a water bug, stroking the water hard, letting my body cut through the pool.

"Good!" The teacher clicked my time, then the girl behind me, "Nellaki wins. Next!" The next two girls lined up, and they glared at me intensely.

I sit alone at lunch, away from everyone else. I open my bento, and munch down an eggroll. Yummy. I don't care if I'm alone. I'm used to it… Right.

After school, I walk out the door, and five girls approach me.

"Hey you!" They slam me against a wall in the back, "We're insulting you, right? Then why don't you say something?"

"Because you're like children seeking attention." I lift my bag off of the ground. One of them kicks me in the stomach.

"Mai!" Kaoru almost screams, but Shiho and Aoi cover her mouth.

"You're so damn weird! Your voice and personality always changes, you don't ever talk to anyone anymore, and you've been rumored to have a handsome older boyfriend." She kicks me again, "Why do you get everyone's attention, the teachers too?!"

"…Are you in love with a teacher?" I choke and stand up. She blushes and reaches her fist to my face.

"Shut up!!!" I expected to be punched, and so did the girls in the bushes, but someone stops the fist.

"Who… Who are you…?" One of the girls says in fear.

"H… Hyoubu…?!" I ask in shock. He looks at me with his calm smile, and lifts me like a princess into his arms.

"A-Are you her boyfr-"

"I am. So? What's wrong with that?" He smirks at the girl. I blush. He thinks of me like that…?

"Why would you ever love a monster like that?! Whenever she sings, everyone gets hypnotized, it's not normal!"

"That was before she trained her powers." He smirks again, "Go ahead Mai, sing for them." I look at him softly. I know what he wants me to sing, but I can't. I won't.

Have I felt that this day would once come..?

My heart puzzled with love is swaying, and swaying, 'till it hurts

The deep sorrows no one is aware of

For some reason gets carried on too

Just as if it was like a beloved person

On a little star, that is me,

A single drop of love sprouted

I can't fight my fear of losing people

A prayer to the moon, and a prayer to the stars

Engrave the path I should go with in my heart

The reason why my tears are getting hot

Is a destined Piece of Love,

A Piece of Heart I was able to encounter

This is a love song for you, Hyoubu, I think to myself.

"Pretty…" One of them started to feel sleepy. They all fall to the ground with good dreams.

"You didn't hurt them." He looks at me.

"Because they don't deserve it…"

"Don't say they don't deserve it!" He raises his voice at me for the first time in a while. He holds me close in his arms, "Come back with me."

"I can't."

"You can."

"If you won't kill people, whether they're innocent or guilty. I mean, it's fine to help take custody of the bad, but please don't kill them! Those people have lives too, you know, and only one to live. I can't bear it…" I hold my arms tight around his waist.

"Until this scar disappears, I will never forgive any of the Normals."

"You thought I was a normal when you first met me, right? Don't you love me?"

"You're… Different."

"Other people can be different too. Please…!"

"…I can't forgive the Normal People, or the Black Phantom. You should know that very well. All of those that abandoned you because you were an esper-" I slap him across the face.

"Is that what you want…? For me to return because I'm too corrupted to think for myself…?" Tears fall bitterly from my eyes, "I want to come back to you with a smile…! I don't want to be eaten by my bad memories alive!" I run away from him, so angry. I love him so much, doesn't he see that? Then why can't he take my feelings into consideration?! All he wants is for himself to be happy, for himself to have me by his side. I run to my room and land on my bed, sobbing my eyes out. I know. I know what we both want. We both want to be with each other. We lived lonely lives. We want to feel each other's lips, each other's skin… We want someone there to tell us it's all right, like a small child and their parent.

"Hyoubu…" I sniffle. My eyes start to flicker and slowly, I fall asleep.

"Mai. It's time for dinner." Shiho wakes me up in the evening. I rise from my bed and look at her sleepily.

"What's for dinner?"

"Pork roast."

"No thanks. I'll eat something tomorrow." I lie down on my bed again and fall asleep almost instantly. My head feels so dizzy from crying and deep sleep. Shiho strokes my head and lies down next to me.

"I'll keep you company." She snuggles up to my back.

"…OK…" I say groggily.

"I told him I wasn't hungry. We're one in the same, huh?"

"Yeah…"

"Your heartbeat… It's nice. Like a mother's." She feels warm against my heat. I smile nicely and flip the covers over both of us. "You smell like a nice perfume… Very light-scented."

"I guess… I put some on this morning…" I cover my shoulders with blankets. I like the feeling of being depended on. It feels comforting and nice. I slowly fall asleep.

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Songs of this chapter…

Fake Wings – See-Saw

Piece of Love – Mayumi Asano