Pride: The Sanada's were a proud clan. Ryo would never impede on his friends just to feel better… Even if it is killing him. [one-shot] Part of the 7 Arc.

Disclaimer: I don't own Ronin Warriors (or Samurai Troopers).

Warnings: Deathfic, Angst

Author's note: Wanted to try a little different style and layout for this piece. Enjoy!

7: Pride
By: Lost-Remembrance (Red Tail)

'Time stops for no man.'

The Ronin Warriors had decided to go their separate ways about a year ago. A year ago, Sage went back to train at his dojo and help his mother and grandfather. The Ronins had helped him move his few possessions back into his old room. They greeted his teary eyed mother and stayed for a happy dinner. Ryo left with a heavy weight in his chest. The other Ronins looked at one another, with a longing in their eyes.

A year ago, Kento had moved back with his family to help with their restaurant and finish his schooling. Rowen, Sai, and Ryo went with him. His ecstatic siblings greeted them and they also enjoyed a happy meal before bidding their goodbyes. Kento thumped his friends heartily on their backs, telling them to stay in touch with him and he would do the same. Six weeks had passed and they hadn't received a single letter.

A year ago, Rowen left the five after being accepted into an accredited university. It came in the mail. Ryo looked curiously at the letter, a sick feeling climbing up his throat. Rowen came down the stairs, saw the mail in his hand and proceeded to take the letter from him. Tearing it open, his face transformed before Ryo's eyes. True happiness bloomed on his face. The bearer of Wildfire couldn't help but feel as if he was holding his friends back. Rowen didn't ask the remaining two Ronins to escort him. He merely packed his bags and called a cab. Ryo bit his tongue and held in the words his heart longed to scream as he watched the cab disappear around the large trees lining Mia's property. If the others could live without him, then so could he.

A year ago, Sai was fourth to leave and go off towards the coast to study marine biology at a small college. He had left his armor orb behind on his dresser. Mia stood with Ryo and they looked into the empty room. Ryo walked in and sat on the bed, looking at the dresser. He pulled open the drawer and saw a framed photo of all the Ronins together. Happy and smiling. He felt Mia's eyes on him—could feel the pity emitting from her gaze. He squared his shoulders and raised his chin. His eyes were burning—both with the fire of Sanada pride in his soul and the unshed tears. He closed the door with a snap and stood, taking his leave. He felt Mia's eyes on him until he closed the door to his room. She never once said anything.

Eleven months ago, Ryo and Whiteblaze left Mia after the former leader felt he imposed on her kindness for far too long. It had taken him a bit to work out his course of action. He had lived in the cabin his mother owned before, with only Whiteblaze to keep him company after his mother died. His father was probably off somewhere—not that he knew for certain as his father rarely let him know his work plans. Luckily, he had taken odd jobs here and there. He went to the store, bought supplies and then loaded up his backpack with his meager belongs, hopped on Whiteblaze and bid Mia goodbye.

Six months ago, Ryo found blood on his pillow and woke with dizzying pain in his head. Whiteblaze brought him water and a towel. He didn't move for the entire day other than to grab another pillow and toss the other one to the side. He felt Whiteblaze nuzzle him in concern. The white tiger gently hopped up onto the bed, curling his body around Ryo's. Ryo shifted, making room for his friend, let out a sudden shiver and curled up next to the tiger and his warmth.

Four months ago, Ryo threw out the mirror when he couldn't stand to look at his reflection anymore. The image of himself in his mind kept his soul at ease more than the stark reality. He made friends with a nearby woman who also lived on the mountain. After her daughter and grandchildren had died in a fire, she had escaped the world to forget her sorrows through the simplicity of nature. Ryo paid her to get his groceries. She had understood him at once, sensing his character. She never once looked at him with pity. She offered motherly love and fed him soup when he was too weak to get out of bed. Ryo gave her the only other key to his cabin after Whiteblaze clawed the backdoor's handle off to let her in when Ryo couldn't open the door.

One month ago, Ryo started getting better. He felt his strength returning. He didn't chance any training, but holding his armor orb boosted his morale and eased the tension and worries from his body. Sylvia had taken to giving him herbs in his soup. He suspected they, and her tender care, were partially due to her faithful care. Like Whiteblaze, she had slowly needled her way into his closed heart as she became a constant in his life.

Three days ago, Ryo collapsed in pain, clutching his stomach as he writhed in agony. Whiteblaze rushed to get Sylvia, clawing at her door. Frantically, the two ran to Ryo's abode. With Blaze's help, she shouldered Ryo into his bed, petting his hair and wiping down his forehead. He rubbed his back when he vomited, coughing up blood. In his agony-induced delirium, he called her mother more than once. He didn't see the tears he brought to her eyes and, when he finally fell unconscious, he would never know the prayer she pleaded out to the starry sky.

Two days ago, Sylvia locked up Ryo's cabin for the last time. Her fingers were dirty, her eyes red-rimmed, and her clothes crusted with grass stains and mud. Whiteblaze was beside her, looking solemnly at the nearby Ash tree and the rocks peppering the turned soil's surface. Walking over to the fresh earth, Sylvia scooped up some dirt, digging down a bit and placed a red orb into the cavity she created. She covered it back up with soil and patted it down gently. She turned her head to Blaze, gently taking the wild flowers from his mouth and placing them down with just as much love. She closed her eyes in brief prayer and then stood, leaving behind a trail of tears for the kind soul that warmed her crippled heart.

Seven minutes ago, a group of young men stood at her doorstep, confusion evident on their face, one clutching a worn piece of paper in his hands. Sylvia noticed them from the picture by Ryo's bed. He rarely spoke of them, but when he did she tuned in to his underlying happiness and longing at thinking of them. Whiteblaze crept up behind her and turned his body around, flicking his tail at them as if they were pests. He walked away, his behavior clearly stating he was ignoring them. She grudgingly invited the group in to her small home. On her mantel, next to the picture of her deceased family, was a smiling picture of Ryo, before he had succumbed to his illness.

Two minutes ago, the group had broken down crying after being stunned into silence at the fate of their friend. Whiteblaze laid his head on Sylvia's lap, feeling the tremble in her fingers as she relayed the news and resurrected heartbreak and sorrowful memories with each word.

One minute ago, the four remaining Ronins realized that they were simply too late.