Samurai Troopers are not mine. Pity.
I gave Ryo just about the hardest life I could think of. I really do love Ryo, it's just that I can see him coming from a hard luck back ground.

Warning, I'm not nice to Ryo or anyone else for that matter.

For everyone who doesn't know the YST version of Ronin Warriors here are the names:

Ryo- Sanada Ryo
Sage- Date Seiji
Cye- Mouri Shin
Rowen- Hashiba Touma
Kento- Rei Faun Shu/Xiu (most people use Shu, but I like Xiu better)

Anubis- Sh'ten
Cale- Anubis (weird, ne?)
Sekhmet- Naaza
Dais- Rajura


Chapter one: Make me proud

Cousin D

'Make me proud, Ryo.' Her words echoed in Ryo's mind as he walked. He wasn't in any hurry, except that he wanted to get out of the cold. School would be warmer, at least that he could be sure of.

Ryo shivered in the cold, biting wind of January and sniffed against the cold he refused to catch. 'I hate the cold!' He thought savagely and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. Ryo tugged his thin jacket tighter around himself and pulled the brown woolen cap down to cover his ears. He tried to ignore the stares of the other students as he walked slowly through the school yard of Hana High to the front door of his new school, but it wasn't easy. Most everyone was wearing heavy winter coats and carried full bags, bulging with books and other school supplies, whereas Ryo had only his thin coat.

Ryo tried to convince himself that he had a perfect right to be here, just because he didn't have a uniform and his clothes were a little more worn than theirs was, didn't mean they had to stare. Just plain rude, really. Ryo wasn't used to having so many people look at him, he kept his eyes on the ground and hoped they'd find something else interesting to look at.

"Is he new here?"

It wasn't safe to have people curious about you. Ryo knew it was far safer to live out one's life nameless and in the shadows. If people were curious about you, they started getting involved with your business and they might make trouble.

He had nothing to be ashamed of! Still, Ryo was sad to see that everyone was wearing uniforms, the traditional blue for Japanese high school boys and a softer green for the girls. All his money had been used up to buy food, so he would have to work tonight if he wanted a uniform. The thought no longer repulsed him as it used to, he'd been working for so long. Just as long as no one here found out exactly what he did for a job, and so long as Granma never found out. It would break her heart if she ever learned that he was a talented thief.

Still, Ryo couldn't help but to shrink down into the collar of his jacket when he heard someone whisper, "Why isn't he wearing a proper coat? It's freezing today." Ryo felt his face start to burn at the comment.

"He's filthy! Can't he even wash?"

Ryo started to walk faster, the front door of the school seemed to far away. Anyway, he knew that even then, he wouldn't be safe from the stares and comments.

A girl's unladylike laugh and loud voice practically shouted, "Just hope you don't have to sit next to him, all that hair looks like he has fleas!"

Ryo cringed. 'I don't!' He insisted to himself, though he just walked by the tittering students as if he hadn't heard a thing. Yes, his hair was longer than most everyone else's was and it badly needed a cut, but it was clean. He'd just splurged on a trip to the public baths last week and made sure to wash it, even though the shampoo cost extra. He wouldn't be able to afford to go again until Saturday, and that was only if nothing unexpected happened.

Still, this was his first day of school and he'd wished to start it better than this. Literally, this was his first day of school, he'd never gone to school before. His grandmother had taught him to read a little when he was younger, but that was before they'd fallen on hard times. Before mom had died and then dad had just disappeared. Before they'd lost the house and been forced out on to the streets.

Now there was far more important things to worry about than reading, or at least that was what Ryo had thought before granma had started insisting he start school two weeks ago. Ryo would never find out exactly what had gotten her onto this idea after so long, but he thought it was foolish. Really, he should be with her and taking care of her rather than wasting his time in school!

"Make me proud. Remember," His grandmother had said a few hours earlier before he'd left for school, "You are a Sanada! From a proud and honorable family line. Despite what our circumstances now, you are still a Sanada, Ryo, you must remember that and bring honor to your family name."

She wanted so badly to be proud of him, and Ryo had never done anything to let her know that he was anything but totally honorable. If there were one thing that Ryo couldn't bear the thought of, it would be to have his granma disappointed in him. She'd done so much for him after mom had died, how could he refuse her anything? It would break her heart if she found out how he really earned money. True, he did get odd jobs to earn a few bucks for them, but that would never be enough for them to survive on.

At least this school thing had one good effect. Ryo had refused to go unless his granma agreed to stay in the local homeless shelter. It was getting far to cold for her to be out in the streets. Luckily, it had been a relatively warm winter, but Ryo still worried. At least now he knew his granma was warm and had a little food available.

A short while later-

The classroom was filled almost to the brink with uniformed students all sitting silently in perfectly still rows. To normal students, this was no big deal, but Ryo thought it unnatural how still everyone was while the teacher sorted her papers on the desk. Ryo's eyes traveled the room, taking in everything while he was forced to stand at the front of the room until the teacher was ready to introduce him. There were many students, almost thirty, but the room was big so it didn't feel over crowded, and every row of desks were on a tier, higher than the one in front of it. There were two sets of steps that led to the highest row in the back of the room.

Ryo swallowed nervously while everyone stared at him and couldn't help shifting from foot to foot. Some were giggling and others looked at Ryo as if he were beneath their notice, with haughty expression and upturned noses. He held his thin coat and woolen hat in his hands and they seemed to be getting heavier and heavier.

Finally, the teacher, a stern looking older woman with large glasses, stood up. The entire class stood at attention with her and Ryo wondered if this was how it was every day. She bowed to her class and they bowed back, chorusing a greeting of 'Ohayo' (good morning).

"Class, we have a new student, as you've obviously noticed. He's going to be with us for the rest of the year so I want you to all make him feel welcome and give him any help he may need. Please, welcome Mr. Sanada Ryo." Her voice, despite her appearance, was warm and gentle when she gestured to him as though everyone hadn't been staring at him for the past five minutes.

The class obediently chorused a welcome and bowed as they had to the teacher. Ryo blushed and bowed back. He'd seen people, mostly businessmen, in the streets do this, but had never met anyone important enough to bow to before. The teacher smiled kindly at him. "Sanada-San, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?"

Ryo paled slightly and hoped he didn't look at panicked as he suddenly felt. Silently, Ryo shook his head. 'Please, don't make me talk!' He thought desperately. He would if forced to, but he really didn't want to.

The teacher shrugged, probably dismissing it as shyness. "As you like. There's a free seat in the back, which will be your assigned seat until further notice. You can go to the office at lunch break to see about a uniform and getting all your books." Ryo saw the empty seat she'd pointed to and made his way back. Every watched him as he walked up the stairs until he finally sat and they turned their attentions back to the teacher where it belonged.

Ryo sat next to a window and next to a boy with auburn hair and a sweet expression. The boy smiled at him and spoke in a thick foreign accent. "Hello. I Shin Mouri, er, Mouri Shin." He corrected himself, seeming to remember that family names came first and stuck out his hand. Ryo took the other boy's hand cautiously. He normally had a hard time trusting people, but Shin was different for some reason. There was just something about Shin's wide blue eyes and smile. "Nice meet someone else new. I moved from England," Shin gave a bit of a blush. "I don't speak Japanese good. Later you meet my..." Here, Shin struggled to find a word and his eyes lit up when he remembered. "Ah, friends. You'll like them."

Just then the teacher interrupted, "Mouri-San, Sanada-San, do you have anything to share with the class?" She sounded irritated at having caught them talking and gave them both pointed glares. Apparently, she was just as strict as her appearance had led Ryo to believe.

Both shook their heads and looked equally embarrassed.

"Mouri-San, you don't speak so well, so I'll let you off this once. Since you want to talk so badly, Sanada-San, please answer the question on the black board." She pointed to the math question she'd just written with her chalk.

Ryo paled visibly before standing up slowly. He licked his lips and looked at the board where the teacher had indicated. It was math, he was sure of that, but he really didn't understand it as he'd never done anything harder than adding and subtracting. Why were there letters in the problem? Well, the teacher was waiting impatiently for an answer. "Well?" She demanded.

"I d-d-don't k-k-know." Ryo stuttered, spraying spit. Everyone was starring at him. Even Shin was starring.

The teacher blinked, surprised, and a terrible silence filled the room.

Ryo blushed, raising a shaking hand to wipe the dribble of spit off the corner of his lips while everyone stared at him and he wanted to sink into the floor. 'I hate talking,' Ryo thought. It wasn't his fault he couldn't talk right!

"Oh." The teacher said, looking a bit embarrassed herself. "Please sit down, Sanada-San."

Ryo quickly sat, staring down at his hands on the desk. 'Great, first day of school and now everyone thinks I'm an idiot.' In the small, repressed corner of his mind, Ryo felt a flame grow brighter. The fire in his mind was fed by his anger at himself and embarrassment. It wanted to grow, but fortunately, Ryo saw it in time and squashed it. Firmly, he pushed the fire back into place. The fire never completely vanished, but Ryo usually managed to keep it quiet.

There was a splattering of mutterings before the teacher called everyone to attention to start the lesson again, trying to act as if Ryo hadn't just made a complete fool of himself. Ryo sunk into his chair. He just knew they were talking about him.

Ryo cast a look at Shin, who looked at him curiously, but not with pity and Ryo was thankful. He just couldn't stand pity. Well, at least Shin probably wouldn't make fun of him, what with the fact that Shin didn't speak well, either.

It was in the halls, just before lunch, when Ryo was trying to figure out the combination lock on his locker, that Shin came back with one of his friends. Ryo stared at the combination angrily. It just wasn't working!

"Ryo!" He turned to see Shin walking toward him with another boy at his side. The boy had bright blue hair and a bandanna to hold it back away from his face. They both stopped at his locker and Shin smiled. "My number one friend, Hashiba Touma. Touma, this is Sanada Ryo, new in school." Shin's accent was hard to understand, but he seemed to be working hard on it and Touma didn't even make any notice of it. Touma, Ryo saw, was almost as skinny as Ryo, himself, was. Touma also had a fading bruise on his forehead and a Band-Aid on the back of one hand.

Touma held out his hand genially. "Nice to meet you."

Ryo shook his hand, but didn't speak in return. To this Touma raised an eyebrow. "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"

Shin elbowed his friend and said sternly, "Touma, be polite!" His scowl was actually cute and he didn't look as if he could get angry easily.

Ryo breathed a sign of relief, thankful that Shin was sensitive enough to spare him embarrassment of having to explain his stuttering problem. It was bad enough to have it, worse to have to talk about having it.

Touma gave Shin a slight, friendly push. "If you want polite, you should be hanging out with Seiji!" Touma suddenly grabbed the arm of a passing blond and pulled him into the conversation. "Right, Seiji?"

The tall blond boy raised an eyebrow. "Let go of me, Touma." He stated quietly. Ryo took a good look at this new guy and it was quite the sight. It wasn't every day that Ryo saw a blonde, let alone such a...well...pretty blonde. Seiji had wild hair, done up in an almost impossible fashion that seemed to go every-which-way, but was obviously done on purpose. He was tall and slender, not skinny like Ryo, but built like he had muscles under his clothes. Seiji was dressed in the school uniform, but around his neck he wore a silver chain with a wooden pentacle. It seemed like such an odd, out of place, decoration that Ryo found himself staring at it before he realized what he was doing. Seiji looked as much like a foreigner as Shin sounded, but his Japanese was flawless and smooth.

Touma, however, just wrapped his arm through Seiji's arm, like a sweetheart would. "But, Seiji, darling," Touma said in a falsetto voice and fluttering his eyes. "Don't you love me anymore?"

Seiji turned a little pink. "Touma, take your arm off me, before you lose it, please."

Touma, doing as he was asked, looked at Ryo. "Told you he was polite. Even when he's threatening to maim me, he says please." Touma giggled at his own comment. "Ryo, this is Date Seiji, another friend of ours. Seiji, this is Ryo, but he doesn't talk."

Another, large figure walked up behind Seiji and smiled broadly. "MORNING!" He practically yelled, slapping the serious looking Seiji on the back. Seiji eyes widened and he fell forward slightly before the stranger grabbed him by the arm and saved him from his fall. Seiji did, however, drop all his books, and the sour expression on his face was enough to make even Ryo smile.

Touma gasped. "Dear God! He can smile!" He pointed at Ryo in mock disbelief. Ryo's smile instantly disappeared and Touma groaned. "I was only teasing, Ryo. Lighten up, pal. This is Rei Faun Xiu." He indicated the larger guy helping Seiji to his feet. "He's big and kinda loud, but usually, he's OK."

"Hey!" Xiu protested once Seiji was firmly upright. "Sorry, Sei-kun. Didn't mean to be so rough." He laughed pleasantly, even while Seiji fixed a half-hearted glare on him. "I won't do it again."

Seiji turned away, as if he were insulted, with his arms crossed over his chest.

"Awww, come on, Sei-kun!" Xiu whined. "Don't be mad!"

Seiji pointed sharply at his pile of books on the floor, but didn't say a word. Xiu didn't need any more instruction and knelt down to pick them up, all the while muttering, "People are gonna think I'm your damned slave if you keep doing this to me, Sei-kun." When he'd gathered all the books, Xiu stood with his arms full. "Am I forgiven now?"

Seiji smiled at him slightly. Xiu smiled back. For a brief moment they were in a world of their own. Then, they turned back to the others, pretending nothing had happened. Touma and Shin said nothing, so Ryo kept his thoughts to himself, though it was pretty obvious what was going on between the two.

Ryo wasn't sure how he felt about this new situation. All four boys stood around him talking and laughing. Seiji and Shin didn't laugh as loudly as Xiu or Touma, but they were obviously friendly and Shin didn't let his accent stop him talking. Ryo didn't want to get to close and making friends, as it would just hurt in the end. Still, none of them seemed to be bothered by the fact that he just listened and didn't add to the conversation. It was nice to meet people who didn't expect him to talk all the time.

Xiu, the large boy who'd surprised Seiji, was loud and boisterous and Ryo was sure his voice could be heard all the way down the loud hallway. Xiu seemed to be the kind of person anyone could like. Seiji spoke up at one point, "Xiu, my family needs someone to do light cleaning and maintenance around the dojo. It's only a couple of hours a week. Are you interested?"

Ryo instantly came to attention at the mention of a job.

Xiu shook his head. "Sorry, man. My folks keep me pretty busy in the restaurant and dad would be plenty ticked if I took time off to hang out with you, even if it was work. He thinks you're ruining my work ethic as it is."

Seiji just shrugged. "It's all right. We'll find someone else. I just wanted to offer it to you first."

Ryo started to smile again. This was it! A job! Granma could be proud of him for this, especially if he could make enough to get them some proper food again.

"Come on," Xiu said, giving Seiji a gentle push. "I'm starved! Let's go eat!"

"You're always hungry." Seiji muttered before he and Xiu vanished into the thick crowd of students.

Touma watched them go, fondly, and then gave Ryo a very serious look. "I presume you saw something between the two of them?"

Ryo nodded.

Touma's voice took on a hard edge and he leaned so no one else, but Shin and Ryo, could hear what he said. "Keep it to yourself, Ryo. We," He nodded toward Shin. "Don't want any trouble for them. They're both great guys, but if folks around school started getting wind that they like each other, they're lives might get rough."

Ryo understood. It would be hard for the two to have a life in this school if anyone found out they were gay. He wouldn't want to cause any trouble, anyway, so Ryo nodded in agreement.

"Thanks." Touma said, relieved. "Not that it's a huge secret, anyone who takes the time to look would see. I just don't want anything to hurt either of them."

Ryo tugged at the sleeves of his uniform. It was just too small. The sleeves left his wrists hanging out in the open and his ankles were completely uncovered. The white shirt was about three sizes to big, but that was mainly hidden under the jacket. The waist of the pants, thankfully, was only loose, so Ryo could fix it with a belt or something. It wasn't really all that bad. Really.

"I'm sorry, but it's the only spare we have on hand, Ryo." The secretary told him after he'd put on the uniform. "Until you have the money to buy yourself one, you'll have to make do with the spare." They were both in the school's office where Ryo had to go to get most of his books and the uniform. At least they'd had a uniform so he wouldn't look totally out of place. Now, he just looked silly.

Ryo nodded. There was no use fighting, he'd realized that long ago, but it would be terribly embarrassing to go around school like this. On the other hand, if he worked hard, he could probably save enough money to buy a suit in a couple of weeks, all he had to do was be patient. So, with his pile of books and new uniform on, Ryo went on to his next class.

He tried to talk to Seiji, but only caught glimpses of him in the halls and they didn't seem to have any classes together. He did, though, have one class with Xiu who advised Ryo to have Shin take a look at his uniform.

"Honest," Xiu told Ryo during home ec. "Shin's really good with that sort of thing. I bet he can fix it for you so you don't look so, um, mismatched." It was at that moment that Xiu and Ryo saw smoke pouring from the oven they were working at and both ran to rescue the cake.

Xiu wasn't the only one who'd seen Ryo's ill fitting clothes and Ryo didn't have to ask Shin to do anything. Later that day, Shin caught Ryo's arm during a break and took him into the bathroom and told him to take off his clothes. Ryo stared at Shin for a moment in utter shock. "W-w-what?" Maybe Shin was just getting his words mixed up again.

Shin sniffed and pulled at Ryo's jacket. "This very bad. Take off!" There was a hard, insisting tone that Ryo knew better than to argue with, so he took off the jacket. In the mean time, Shin was digging through his school bag and pulled out a small sewing kit. Apparently, Xiu was right when it came to Shin's sewing abilities. For only about ten minutes, Shin sat on the bathroom floor and worked on Ryo's jacket, cheerfully chattering away while he stitched and Ryo listened quietly. Every now and again, he'd break into English, but then bring himself back to Japanese when he realized what he was doing and that Ryo couldn't understand him.

In the end, the jacket was better. Not great, but better and Shin looked at Ryo appraisingly with a critical eye. "I fix trousers later." He announced at last.

Ryo shook his head. "D-d-don't have t-to."

Shin just patted him on the back. "You can't walk school like that. Shameful." He declared, like the happy little bully he was, and then turned to leave.

"Shin?" Ryo started to say. He'd just realized that he'd missed Seiji all day and hadn't had a chance to speak with him about the job.


"S-S-Seiji. Where d-d-does h-he live?" Ryo knew he was spitting again, but he couldn't help it so he held a hand in front of his mouth.


Seiji was busy when he heard the doorbell. He frowned, knowing that he'd have to go answer it, but not really wanting to leave his music. His garden was the perfect place to play, though it was a bit chilly now that the sun was setting. Everything was quiet and covered in frost, a wonderful peace permeated the entire garden. The last thing Seiji wanted to do was leave it for some door-to-door sales man. However, it was the right thing to do, so Seiji left his flute on the porch and went to the front gate that led into the family home. Grandfather was in the dojo and mother was at work, leaving Seiji the responsibility of taking care of the house.

As Seiji was walking to the front door, his eye caught on something odd. Well, not really odd, it had been in the house for months, since mom had brought it home from some yard sale, but it was odd that it caught his attention just now.

It was a small painting of a desert landscape. The desert was far from lifeless and showed all manner of creatures living in it, from the cactus and other plants, to peccaries, birds, fox, and even little scorpions. High over the desert in a perfectly clear blue sky was the sun. Blazing with yellows, oranges, and reds, the sun was the highlight of the painting, drawing one's eye away from the desert and into the burning depths of it. The painting made Seiji hot just looking at it. He paused by the painting for a minute. This had some significance; he just didn't quite know what it was.

He was surprised to see Ryo standing there. Ryo smiled at him, nervously. "H-h-hello, Seiji." He stuttered. "M-m-may I talk to your f-f-father?" Ryo breathed deeply after the unusually long speech and Seiji was a bit surprised. This was more than he'd heard Ryo say all day at school. His stutter might improve if he talked more, but he must get teased a lot.

Seiji repressed the painful sting the mention of his father caused. Ryo didn't know so there was no reason to be angry with him. "My grandfather is teaching at the moment and mother is at work. Can I help you?"

Shin had told them all about Ryo's stutter, when Ryo was not around to be embarrassed, so they could all try to be careful about making him at ease. Seiji understood exactly what Shin wanted, but Touma might go out of his way to tease Ryo. Xiu, Seiji knew, he could trust absolutely with not to make Ryo feel badly. Xiu was, after all, the soul of kindness.

"Please, come in." Seiji invited, always courteous and ignoring the stutter. Ryo came in, with a shy smile after wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, and remembered to take off his shoes, but only after he saw the other shoes near the front door.

Ryo fidgeted, unsure of how to say whatever it was that he wanted to say. Finally, he just opened his mouth. "J-j-job?" He asked.

"What?" Seiji frowned.

Ryo opened his mouth, but really didn't want to talk again. He waved for Seiji to follow him. Seiji did as Ryo asked, curious. Ryo led him to the front wall of the family house where Seiji's grandfather had earlier posted a notice.


"You want the job?" Seiji asked. "It doesn't pay much. Mostly it's just cleaning the dojo after classes and helping around the house if we need it."

Ryo nodded eagerly, a happy smile on his face. He pulled up the sleeve of his oversized sweatshirt and flexed an arm to show off thin, underdeveloped muscles. "You're a hard worker?" Seiji asked, understanding what Ryo was getting at. Again, Ryo nodded.

Seiji thought about it and then shrugged. "I can't see any reason not to hire you. Come back tomorrow after school and you can start."

Seiji was very surprise when Ryo jumped into the air to show how happy he was. Seiji just stood there while Ryo ran down the street, happy as a clam to have a job.

"How very odd." Still, so long as Ryo got the job done Seiji wouldn't question Ryo's willingness to work.