A/N: The result of watching Rent for the first time starting at 1am. That's about it. Italics seem to be messed up a little every other time I save, so if you notice them acting weird, sorry.

I Can't Believe this is Goodbye

Mia jiggled the keys into the door. Dammit, she was tired. Why had she asked for Maya to show up at nine? Oh yes. That damn pretrial meeting. If she wore these heels for a second longer her ankles would probably just snap off. Two hours of sleep because of working on a case was not conducive to a good mood.

Phoenix was coming to dinner today, and there was no telling what kind of reaction Maya would get out of him. It would be good for those two to meet each other, though, Mia was sure of that much. Phoenix needed to loosen up, and having a friend outside of Kurain--well, a friend at all, really--couldn't hurt Maya at all. Damn, heels hurt like hell. Why on earth did she wear them? Oh yes. She was a defense attorney. Hah. Spirit mediums wore clogs. Nice, flat clogs. Female defense attorneys wore heels. Of course.

It wasn't until Mia had walked well past the entrance that she saw the man leaning against her desk.

"Now, Miss Fey, I'll take what's mine... the papers." Redd White said and casually blocked the exit.

"I'm sorry, but I can't give you what I don't have." She said, and clenched her hands into fists. Diego had insisted on her carrying mace with her. She had dropped the habit, now. That was a mistake.

"Miss Fey, you are a poor liar. Why, I see it right over there... That must be 'The Thinker' that swallowed those papers."

So he knew where it was already. "How could you know...?" And why wait for me to show up before stealing it?

Redd White chuckled. The sound made her shudder. "You are not cogniferous of my background? Gathering information is my business, you see."

A high feminine voice screamed somewhere on the very edges of Mia's hearing, almost like an echo behind her eardrums. "Mia Feeeeeeeey!!" She could--almost--see the red hair and copper eyes that went with it, over the man's shoulder.

"My dear Miss Fey... I am so very sorry. But I am afraid I must ask you for one more thing."

The man picked up the clock and hefted it onto one shoulder. His eyes were wide, and a ghost of a smile flitted around the edges of his mouth.

I am going to die. Mia realized.

"Your eternal silence…"

"Sis? Where's Mommy?"

She scooped up the child and clutched her, tight. Mom, I'm only twelve. Mia thought and rocked the black haired little girl back and forth. You were going to take me on a trip to Tokyo today, Mom. The girl was heavy. She clutched at Mia's shirt and buried her face in the folds of the acolyte robe. I don't—Mom, don't make me do this for you…

"Mia, I hate Auntie Morgan. When is Mommy coming home?" Mia didn't answer. "Sis? When is Auntie Morgan going to move out so Mommy can come back?"

Mia looked down at her sister's expression. She memorized the way Maya's eyes were wide and how her sister was absently sucking on her thumb. It was an infinitely valuable expression, and Mia ripped it apart in one breath. "Mommy's never coming home, Maya."

Maya froze. The eyes narrowed. The mouth dropped open. The little wisps of her eyebrows shot downward and something like terror flared across her face.

"Mommy wouldn't leave us!" Maya gripped Mia's robe. Not like Daddy. Maya didn't say. The words hung in the air anyways.

"Mommy already did."

Maya kicked out and shoved herself out of Mia's grasp. She fell flat on her behind onto the wood paneling. "No!!" She screamed. "You're a liar!"

"Farewell, Miss Fey."

He was blocking the exit. If she was in a superhero movie, Mia could've jumped backwards out of the glass window, grabbed a protruding flagpole, and dropped safely into a garbage bin. But Mia couldn't jump high enough to clear the sill fast enough, and the only thing that she could use to break glass in the room was in the murderer's hand.

Maya was going to be the one to find the body.

The thought made Mia's stomach lurch. No. She couldn't let that happen. She couldn't leave Maya alone, too. She couldn't, she wouldn't—just the thought of Maya's expression when she walked through the door was too horrific to consider. Mia screamed and ducked to the side. But it wasn't a scream of fear. That man was going to damn pay, for her sister's sake.

Mia dashed down the steps three at a time and jumped the last flight. In four-inch heels. "Some lawyer has gotten himself poisoned." They said. "In the cafeteria. We're all being held for investigation."

"DIEGO." Every bit of her screamed. Her ankle gave out when she hit the floor and white fire shot up her leg. She said a word that she had definitely not learned in Kurain and ripped the heels off. She pounded against the pain all the way down the hallway and shoved open the doors to the cafeteria. A police officer told her to stop. She didn't care.

He was sprawled across the table in one ugly puddle of black coffee that looked like blood. He was as still as death.

The lamp stand crashed over and shattered on the floor. She saw it, a brief opening that would let her get to the door. She took it and ran for all she was worth.

Redd White was fast.

She smoothed back his hair. "Diego, I was wondering…"

He grinned up at her, but his eyes were out of focus and the smile could have had nothing to do with her. His eyes were generally as dark as the coffee he was so obsessed with, but every now and then an odd light would change them into something foreign and wild. Now the morning sun streamed in through the windows and refracted over and over again inside his eyes. It lit them the color of melted gold.

Too slow. The murderer dodged in front of her. She jumped backward and found herself pinned against the wall. He lifted up the clock with both hands.

Mia propped herself up on one arm. "Does it bother you? The spirit medium thing?" Diego blinked and took a second to register the question. His eyes focused on her face. "No."

"R—really? Not even a little bit?"

He reached his hand up and played with a strand of her hair. Her blood pressure went through the ceiling.

"No." He said.

It took her a good ten seconds to formulate her next thought into words. "But what if I—my mother may never come back. I may end up having to be the Master. I could always shove it on Maya, but I couldn't do that to my own sister, Diego..."

"Do you want to be the Master?" He asked her.

Mia's hands shook. She just had time to watch his golden eyes widen in shock before she squeezed her own shut to keep water from leaking out of them. Her throat clenched. Damn it, I will not cry again in front of him. She told herself.

Diego let out a quick breath and sat up. "Hey, Kitten, what's wrong?" He asked and caught her in his arms. She buried her face in the crook of his shoulder and concentrated on the bitter smell that wafted around his skin and how smooth it felt against her cheek. She did not think about the gentle way he asked his question, because that just would have made her cry harder.

"Kitten, if your answer is 'yes', then it doesn't bother me." Diego stroked her hair. "Really. Being in Kurain with you is sure as hell better than being anywhere else alone. I'll do all that medium training crap with you, if you want. I could open up a class. Teach the acolytes how to brew a decent cup of Joe."

"I—I'm sorry." She said once she managed to recover her voice. "It's just that nobody ever asked me that before. No. I don't want to be the Master at all." His arm felt so strong against her back, and warm. "I want to be a defense attorney."

"Then you'll be the best damn defense attorney in the world." Diego told her.

"It's not that simple."

"Kitten, I promise you." He murmured in her ear. "Just let me talk to these Branch Family idiots and we'll make it that simple." Mia pushed away and looked up at his face. It had a hint of a smile, but the eyes were glaring hard at somebody Mia couldn't see.

"I believe you." She whispered.

Redd White brought the clock down. She flung up her arms. Pointless. Crack.

"Hey, Charley." Mia said to the green stalk cradled against her chest. "We're going to see someone special today, alright?" She hefted the pot onto her hip and managed to slam the car door shut without taking off one of her fingers.

The secretary barely glanced up at her. She knew the room number, yes, thank you. Any change? I see. Of course, I understand.

Mia slipped into the room and pointedly ignored the way the nurses stared at her. Yes, bringing a potted plant was probably against hospital regulations. No, I will not put it back in the car, I'm just dropping it off here, thank you. No, I don't need anything, yes, I am probably "That girl", thank you, I'm sorry too.

"Hey, Diego. I brought Charley to visit."

His hair was silver, and there were bandages over his eyes. Mia was now one of the few non-doctors in the world who knew exactly what optic neuritis was. Methanol, in high amounts. High enough to kill anything, they said. He was totally motionless, except for the way his hair quivered in the breeze coming through the open window. If he was awake, the bleeping of the machines would have driven him right over the edge. There must have been at least twenty monitors, all connected to tubes and wires, all somehow strapped down to him.

Mia dropped Charley on the table and settled into the metal chair by the edge of the bed."He missed you..."

The world went white. Her head was gone, and in its place there was a fountain of gasoline and fire and thunder. It spread through her body, which may or may not still have existed at the time. She couldn't tell. If her eyes were working, her brain wasn't making any sense out of the input.

Maya, I'm sorry. I'm leaving you, just like everybody else did. Maybe Phoenix, if you ever met… I think you two could be friends…

Everything was ice hot and ice cold. She couldn't feel her head anymore.


Something grabbed her hand. A small spasm shook her. His hand had been rough and strong enough to strangle lions—she could never figure out why she always associated lions with him—while this one was slender and made her fingers twitch in recoil.

I'm sorry.

But if she thought hard enough, she could ignore that and just focus on the pressure against her fingers. It was all she could feel now, besides the flares and the glaciers.

I won't be there…

Diego's eyes widened in concern and he reached out to wrap an arm around her shoulders.

When you wake up.

"Kitten, it's okay." He told her as the world faded into white. "I still love you."

The last thing she saw was his eyes, and the last thing she felt was his lips against hers.

Cliched flashbacks and reusing old ideas is fun, kids! Woo!!