It was chilly when Saya awoke, and she gathered the thin blanket around her in an attempt to stave off the wind that was coming in from the outside. Her russet eyes were wide with confusion as she remembered all that had occurred since...well, she didn't know how long since.
"Saya." Haji was sitting patiently on the floor in the corner. His cello was across his lap as if it had just been cleaned.
"Haji, what happened? Where are we?" Their current location appeared to be some sort of abandoned barn. Straw littered the floor and moonlight peeked through the cracks of the wooden walls. The aforementioned wind created a haunting tune as it swathed across the roof, whistling and creaking.
"The southern tip of Scotland. It was somewhat close to the location of the ship. After the ship exploded, I traveled while you slept."
That seemed to make sense. At the moment, not much else did. "How long?"
"Just less than a day."
"Oh," she looked down, still tired.
Already aware of his queen's exhaustion, he asked, "Saya, are you all right?"
"I...I'm fine," she lied, struggling to stand.
As always, he caught her before she fell. "You need to rest. Are you hungry?"
Not sure whether he was talking about blood or human food, she shook her head. Almost on cue, her stomach growled.
Haji's arms relaxed around her, slowly easing her back into the self-made bed.
"I will find you something to eat. Please, stay still and rest for now." Before he disappeared, Saya heard the click of her katana next to her. Just in case, she thought. Her head had barely made it to the cloth-covered pile of straw before she had blacked out again into a peaceful oblivion. If only she could remain there forever.
When she next awoke, daylight greeted her. The wind had long since dissipated, replaced by a pleasant early morning breeze that swept across the floor, gently prodding the askew bits of hay. Once again, Haji was at her side, a small box of what looked to be bread, eggs, and a few apples in front of him, plus a canteen full of water.
Looking at the food with needling hunger, she apologized, "I'm sorry I fell asleep again. How long was it this time?"
His midnight blue eyes bored into hers he replied, "There is no need to apologize, Saya. You need sleep, even for a few hours." He handed her the container with a small fork.
The smell of the boiled eggs made her stomach growl again, reacting to its favored food. Saya dug in, wondering where Haji had managed to procure all of it.
Her chevalier seemed to pick up on her private musings. "There is a farm nearby. They will not notice very much."
Unsure of how to reply, Saya continued to chew on her food. As she ate, she could feel her strength returning, as well as her memories just before the explosion. She shut her eyes as she swallowed, as if trying to rid herself of the bitterness.
"Riku..." she whispered. Feeling the tears come, she set the half-eaten food aside.
In an instant, Haji's arms were around her in a consoling embrace. Painful sobs accompanied by faint wailing fell onto his chest, and she clung to his jacket in an effort not to break down completely. His eyes closed momentarily, his own form of mourning.
It felt like hours before she loosened her grip, although it had only been a few agonized minutes. She stared at him, her eyes still welling with moisture.
"W-why Riku? Why did she have to...?" The tears leaked out again, but were prevented from running all the way down her face by his bandaged hand.
There were so few answers he could really give her, but he tried his best to make sense of it. After all, Saya was not the only one who had lost a brother. His blood-bond with Riku had somehow allowed him to sense the younger chevalier's crystallization. The sensation was disorienting at best, but the sight was far, far worse.
As Haji would often recount in silence, Riku had been far too innocent for the travesties of their world. While so much of a child, he had also been a mature and kind spirit that, despite everything, saw good in everyone.
Admittedly, their blood-bond was not what made Riku Haji's younger brother. Instead, it was because Riku almost reminded Haji of himself. Or rather, what Haji never had the opportunity to be. It was no use to dwell on what could no longer be, but that didn't mean he couldn't mourn.
"It is what chiropterans call a marriage. Brides and grooms are between queens and their sister chevaliers. It is a part of chiropteran reproduction."
Shocked, Saya broke from him completely. "What?"
His eyebrows rose infinitesimally, perhaps surprised at her sudden movement or just from lack of a good answer.
"I cannot tell you very much."
The chevalier nodded slightly. "It is believed that chiropteran queens may only conceive with the chevaliers of another queen."
Saya's russet eyes narrowed. "Believed?"
He did one of his almost-nods again. "Deduced by the Red Shield and Diva's chevaliers."
Holding her head in her hands, the chiropteran queen sighed heavily. There was just too much to take in, all at once. Time passed blandly as they just sat on the bed. Haji was still as ever, his quiet, yet intense eyes staring vaguely in her direction. If she had taken the time to look, she might have found more than just concern in his dark blue orbs.
Instead, she held one side of his face in her hand, bringing them closer. "Thank you, Haji." Although she had expected his skin to be freezing with the cold, his cheek was perfectly warm. As her hand lingered, she felt a strange sensation in her stomach; for once, it wasn't hunger.
His eyes widened at the sensation of her touch, but he responded by bringing his own hand, his human one, to hers. "Of course, Saya."
Saya had continued to recover the rest of the day, and finally, she was ready to move on. Yet, the loss of Riku had left her without an idea of what moving on would really be. At first, she thought that the only place to go would be the Red Shield. Since the headquarters had exploded, however, was there any Red Shield to return to?
The second thing that had sprung to her mind was Kai, now essentially all alone. Her brain seemed to scream in protest of that idea. How could she go back to him, when she had been the one who had caused his brother's death? Kai, with his headstrong ways, would never forgive her for that. How could he, when she couldn't even forgive herself?
Haji was adjusting the cello case over his shoulder when she spoke, voice quavering.
"I don't know... I don't know if I can go back."
He gazed at her, waiting for her the rest of her thoughts to come. "Riku...is gone. And it's all my fault! If I hadn't ever-If I had just...just fought harder, I-"
Her chevalier stepped forward, so close that she could almost hear his heart beating an inch away. He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Saya. If it is your wish to fight, I will always be at your side."
For the second time that day, she thanked him. And in complete silence, he tried to make her understand that there was no need.
But as usual, she never heard him until it was too late.