Somewhere in a hotel room in a town in Europe, a phone started to ring. A hand materialized from under the covers and with a muttered curse the boy laying there took the phone, still half asleep. He flipped it open. The calling id showed his sister's home number. Wanting to ignore it, he pushed the green button and said: "It's 4 in the morning you know."

"No, I don't know that. I don't care, anyway." she said, a bit annoyed, he thought.

"Why did you call me then?" he hoped she wouldn't ask him when he came back. She always asked him that, and he was tired of saying 'I don't know'.

It was silent for a time. He almost sighed when she spoke again.

"You should return, Ikuto." He let the sigh out. Just as he expected. Some things don't change, he thought, and he was about to shut the phone and go back to sleep when he heard someone crying on the background.

"Who's crying?" he asked, a bit curious.

"Rima." said Utau. Ikuto thought about it. Wasn't Rima the short blonde that was always clinging to Amu? He recalled seeing her face on the pictures Utau would often send him, pictures that showed Amu and her friends. He didn't asked for them, but every time one came, he would make it his background.
But what was Rima doing with Utau, crying? A boy-problem? But wouldn't Amu be there then too? No, that was not possible. Utau never called him when Amu was around.

"Why is she crying?" he finally asked.

"Because... because Amu told us..." she didn't finish the sentence.

"Amu told you what?" he asked, a sudden feeling in his chest that worried him.

"Just come back. I'm serious this time. And hurry, too, before you are too late."

The line went dead and left Ikuto staring at his phone. Before he was too late?

He dropped the phone on the bed and sat up, rubbing his eyes. The call didn't sat well with him. This was indeed different from other times when she asked him to come back. This time, her voice sounded like she wanted to cry and she said things about Amu. No, she hadn't said anything, she had implied things. That was what worried him most. Utau was not the person to beat around the bush. She liked to be blunt. He was not a person to listen to other people, especially not to his baby sister, but now he couldn't erase the urge in his chest telling him to do as she had said.

He grabbed his laptop from his bag and flipped it open, opening a search page in his browser. Maybe it was time to go back.

***** Japan ****

Utau put the phone down and turned to Rima.

"What did he say?" she asked, her voice cracking from the tears. Nagihiko, who was stoking her back in order to calm her, looked up. From across the room Kukai opened his eyes.

Utau went to the sofa and sat down.

"Nothing much. He was annoyed when I called him, saying it was 4 AM, asked who was crying and why. And when I said that..." her voice trailed off.

"You told him?" asked Nagi.

"No. I... I couldn't say it. I just stopped talking and said that he should come back before it... too late is."

Rima looked down as a new flow of tears rushed from her eyes.

"Shht, Rima-chan, don't cry." Nagi said.

"Do you think he will come?" Kukai asked.

Utau bent her head. "I don't know." she whispered as she also succumed to the threathening tears.

*** Amu's pov ***

I stood behind the door and felt almost guilty. I could hear Rima cry, and someone else. I think it is Utau. I have known her for so many years, and yet I've never seen or heard her cry. She's a strong person. And I made her cry, I'm almost mad at myself when somewhere in my consciousness I hear someone say: 'It's not your fault, Amu.'

'Yeah, you didn't meant to have it, ne Amu!'


'Amu, don't lose your radiance. You'll need it more than ever now.'

'Ran? Miki? Su? Dia? Are you still here?' It definitely feels weird to be talking with others in my own head. But if these voices are really my Shugo Chara, then I'm not alone..

'Of course we are here with you!'

'We said we would never leave, didn't we?'

'You did leave.' I think.

'You're mean, Amu-chan -desu.'

'When you grew up, we just went back. You didn't need us anymore.'

I sighed. Apparently there is more than one thing in my head, but this is quite welcome... I had missed my little guardian characters, ever since they went back into their eggs when I started high school. I had been sad and sorry to see them go, but it was also nice to know I was growing up, growing strong enough to learn to stand on my own. I had gotten many gifts from them, such as my cooking skills from Su, and my athletic and artistic skills from Miki and Ran. Dia had helped me countless times to find the good things within myself and others and I had learned so much from them.

It was, however grown up I had thought myself to be, nice to have them cheering me on again.

I tried to gather all my courage by breathing deep and calming.

The last time I saw my friends, my other family, was when I told them the news, a couple of hours ago. I went away for some time, to think. I had wanted to have some time to think this all over with only myself, so I could come to terms with it... or at least try to. I wasn't so sure if it had worked, but it had given me some clarity.

I lived with Utau in a room she lets me borrow, until I find my own place to stay. I don't live with my parents anymore. Mum got a very important promotion, but for it we had to move to another town, back to the town we came from. I stayed because I wanted to finish school and stay with my friends. I didn't want to leave and build a new life so close to the end of my high school years. I guess I was, kind of, too old for that. Moreover I was a bit afraid to do it. I had been living with Utau for the past half year, and she has said before that I could stay for the rest of my live for all she cared. She had said it in that typical manner of hers, seemingly haughty and uncaring, looking away, but with a blush staining her cheeks.

I had smiled and said that she needn't worry, I wouldn't go anywhere soon.

... So much for that one.

'Just do it, Amu-chan!' cheered four voices in my head and I knocked on the door. It was silent for a moment, but then Kukai called: "Come in!"

I opened the door and went in. Rima ran directly towards me, hugging me tightly as if I would disappear any moment. I patted her head. She is still very small, though Nagi doesn't seemed to mind it at all. "That's Rima-chan for you." he would say and he would smile.

Utau looked at me like she wanted to copy Rima. Even Nagi and Kukai had those 'I want to keep you close in case you disappear' eyes. I sighed, again. This was going to be hard.

"Hey, it's fine, guys." I said. "Okay, easy Rima-chan, I know it's actually not fine, but there is no saying that the surgery will fail. Maybe it will be over in just a couple of weeks, leaving it all a bad memory."

Rima still glared at me, all the while hugging me close.

"Maybe." Nagi said quietly, hitting the spot hard. "Maybe, you say, and we all know it's going to be a risky operation. There is no guarantee that you will survive. There is a chance that you will die."

It was silent. We had all thought about that, but he was the first to speak it out. It stung. How accepting and relaxed I pretended to be, underneath it I knew that in a few weeks I could be dead. All because of a tumor in my head.