Disclaimer: I don't own anything I didn't create. I DO own everything I did.
A/N: A reviewer! Oh yay! This is for you!
A lonely breeze ruffled my hair as it blew past 'Our Place' at Tenjuin's Root. I sat at the edge of the room where the wall had been knocked out, leg dangling over the side of the floor, eyes cast downwards toward the barren ground several stories below, distant in thought.
I was thinking about that girl again. Never did find out her name. People would've thought I'd forget her after 11 years, but the truth was that I could still remember her perfectly. That 8-year-old girl who marked a turning point in my life. I wondered what she looked like now… probably wouldn't recognize her. If she was still alive. I sighed and looked up at the sky, thin beams of sunlight bravely managing to filter themselves through the membrane that now covered the earth.
Ageha and his friends had come and gone already, that gazelle-like kid Kabuto having recovered under Van's care after having nearly died from taking a direct hit by Explosia while shielding Ageha. They were a tight-knit group, and Ageha would never have left Kabuto or Amamiya behind as they went back to the past. Noble kid. I smirked absent-mindedly towards the grey membrane. That was probably where I'd picked it up from. I'd never leave anyone behind either. Not if I could help it. The smirk faded, and I stared emptily up at the sky, leaning back on one hand, resting the other arm on my propped-up knee. That girl though…I'd never been able to find her. Not that'd I'd looked too hard, since I hadn't wanted to deviate from Granny and the guys, but…
Where was she?
A breeze blew past me into the room, and I heard Frederica and Shao shift as it brushed their skin, Marie pushing some hair out of her face, Van still asleep back in the Root. That was when I heard the sound of a child crying, and I blinked, sitting up properly and frowning, the faint sound fading on the wind. I twisted and looked back at the others, who were frowning back at me in concern. My brows furrowed as I frowned and stood, turning to face them and ready for action.
"Did you hear that?"
"Yes." Shao responded, shutting his book and putting it to the side as he stood up from the couch, copying my stance. Marie frowned worriedly, her eyes soft in concern.
"Was that-?" She was cut off as another wail pushed through the air, still faint from distance, but louder as if it was nearer- clearer. This time I could hear what it said as the little girl wailed, and I spun around, eyes sharpening as I listened.
" -Mami! Somebody save-" It was cut off by another wail, and presumably a break for air as the voice seemed ragged, trying to breathe. "-Mami! She's hurt! Waaaah…" I didn't even stop to look at the others. I just ran forward and jumped off the side of the building, having pinpointed the sound of the voice, and where it was going- straight into Tavoo territory.
Material High got me down safely, Rise got me down there quickly, and I spotted the crying, black-haired Japanese girl just as she stopped before a Tavoo, looking up at it and trembling, hands held to her chest. Mindlessly, I saw the priority just as the huge, centipede-like monster reared its head back, and I had wrapped my arm around the seven or eight-year-old's waist throwing her over my shoulder and dodging just as the creature lunged. I jumped into the sky, as Shao jumped past to take care of the creature, and I caught him at his speed making sure he came to no harm as he descended. The little girl had rolled onto her stomach on my shoulder, and was holding on for dear life as she cried, legs trying to find a grip on me.
I had gotten her back to others and was kneeling to help her come off my shoulder in no time, but she seemed reluctant to let go, Marie coming over to help. I released the little one, trying to look at her, but she clung to my shoulder with everything she had, hair covering the one side of her face that wasn't pressed to my arm as she held her own weight by standing in front of me. I awkwardly rubbed her back and waited for Marie to say something. I wasn't good with girls. Never had been. Marie stood behind me and began to croon.
"Hey, hey, little one…" She crooned, and as I felt the little girl holding onto me start to relax, I almost fell under the spell of Marie's voice as well, but thankfully I'd heard the tone she was using before. "Are you ok? You're not hurt are you?" The little girl shook her head wildly, loosening up on me, but not letting go. She tried to speak through her tears, but I couldn't understand anything except 'Mami'. I could practically feel Marie frown, and I definitely did feel it when Shao came back in behind me.
'Taken care of it?' I thought at him, and I could almost feel Shao smirk.
'Of course. Seems the little girl is still clinging to her hero though.' Oh he was definitely smirking. God. I closed my eyes. How embarrassing.
"-th-there's five of us, including Mami." The little girl was explaining now, having calmed down but still loosely holding onto my arm. Marie was paying her rapt attention, and I gave her my ear. The little thing was still shaking though. "There's me-"
"What's your name?" Marie interjected gently. The little girl blinked in surprise.
"Yumiko." Yumiko waited, looking at Marie curiously, and Marie nodded, telling the little girl to go on. "There's Alex- 11, Mikan- 8 and Yuki, he's 5." My eyes widened in surprise. A five-year-old? I heard Marie's mouth drop open in surprise, and I subconsciously half-hugged Yumiko. That was a shock. Sounded like they had all just been thrown together. "Mami's been looking after us all, she's 18." My eyebrow shot up. That was a year younger than me. "She's been fighting those monsters out there, and her eye's been hurt," Yumiko lifted a hand up to cover her left eye. I frowned, feeling sorry for the poor woman. "-she can't see through it any more." I winced in sympathy. Yikes. "-and Mami doesn't carry us anywhere any more, so I think her back's been hurt too. She needs to be saved NOW!" She had been calm as she spoke quickly, but that last sentence had unrestrained urgency in it, mature for a seven-year-old.
I heard the guys shift as they looked at each other, the little girl looking up at them with urgent, pleading eyes. I could tell what they were thinking without even tapping into the telepathy. Granny. Yumiko's hold on my arm tightened anxiously. She was definitely shaking, and I hugged her to try and get her to calm down. She released my arm to put her arms around my neck like a little monkey, and I stiffened awkwardly. Marie stood up behind me nervously. Yumiko looked up at her over my shoulder.
"We're going to have to ask Granny if we can leave-"
"You have to come!" The girl suddenly shouted, and I winced as her mouth was right next to my ear. Her shaking intensified, and I felt awkward as teardrops hit my shoulder. "Mami's relying on me! I need to find a white-haired boy older than her called Magic!" I froze, eyes wide, and everyone else stiffened in surprise. They'd heard that story many times. The name 'Magic'.
"What was that?" I asked softly, voice strained. I could hardly believe it. I didn't want to hope only to be disappointed. I held Yumiko in my arms in front of me, still crouched down. I was holding her too close for her to pull back and look at me, but I felt her turn in my arms to look at me. Her voice was sharp with urgency, yet trembling with the strain of trying to be soft.
"You're him, aren't you?" She asked. "You're Magic." I didn't respond, and after a pause, Yumiko began describing her, rushing. "Brunette hair and blue eyes. Foreign, but I never got a straight answer out of her, she's either American or British, although she claims to be both." Dual Citizen. I thought numbly. "She never asked us about ourselves. If she hugged us, she'd just know, and she'd help us if we were having problems, even if we didn't tell her about them." I was slowly being convinced. "She said that the last time she saw you was when she was Mikan's age, that back then, you were like a monkey."
"It's her." I straightened up, pulling Yumiko's arms from around my neck, and I turned to look at the others with determined eyes. They all looked back at me seriously. "Can't be anyone else but her with that description. I'm going to find her, but I need Van to come with me."
"You need me for what?" Van walked into the room, eyes serious and ready to go. We all looked at him in surprise, and he shrugged. "You were all thinking so intensely, I just woke up." I nodded, eyes sharp and serious.
"The girl who calls me 'Magic' is in danger." Van's eyes sharpened, and dropped to the little Japanese girl standing at my elbow height. Yumiko returned the look with one just as intense, practically glaring in urgency.
"She's sick." She added, voice sharp. Van's eyebrow rose at her tone, and he looked back at me, with an expression asking who she was.
"This is Yumiko, she's one of the kids she's looking after." Van's other eyebrow met the first in a gesture of confusion. I blinked.
"The…" I paused, blinking. That was right. I couldn't keep calling her 'the girl who calls me Magic'. What did Yumiko call her? I looked down at the girl to see her half-glaring up at me urgently. She looked impatient.
"Her name is Mami. Ma-mi! Get it in there!" She pointed to my head, and I frowned. I heard Shao muffle a laugh and Fredrica choke on hers. I nearly rolled my eyes. "She's dying! Hurry up!"
The next thing I knew, I had Yumiko sitting on my shoulder, pointing the way while securely trapped in place with my left arm as I hauled Van along by the scruff of his neck with my other hand. Van in question was just hanging there limply, eyes wide in surprise as the wind made him flap like a flag. Suddenly, Yumiko swung her hand so it was pointing straight down, and I skidded to a stop on my Material High, lifting Van higher instinctively so he wouldn't slam into it like a battering ram.
I searched for where Yumiko was pointing, and saw a little cave near the base of the cliff we were standing over, and Yumiko was staring at it unblinkingly desperately, her lower lip trembling as her eyes started to water. My eyes widened fractionally at the sight. Oh no. Tears. I couldn't handle tears. I looked back to the cave, and wordlessly, jumped lower from block to block, leaping towards the cave as soon as we were close enough to the ground not to jar anyone.
"Stop." Yumiko whispered into my ear, and I did, looking at her like she was crazy. She saw it but ignored it. "Let me down." I let Van regain his feet, and I did so. "Alex will boil you alive if I don't go in first." She warned, and I nodded, frowning as I watched her move towards the mouth of the cave. She paused near the mouth of the cave. "Alex?" She called timidly, eyes huge. "You in there?" In response, I heard the sound of a held breath being shakily released before a choking inhale. My eyes narrowed sharply. That was the sound of a boy crying.
"D-don't come in here Yu…" Alex said, voice echoing faintly inside. Yumiko stiffened, eyes widening in fright at the sadness in the boy's voice. "I-it's not…" the boy paused to take a shaky breath. "It's not good." Yumiko gasped, and started forward. "I said don't come in here, Yumiko!" The same voice reprimanded sharply, trembling at the end, and Yumiko froze mid-step, eyes wide and trembling, eyes watering anxiously. She had one arm extended out in front of her, as if trying to reach inside.
"Wha-what happened?" Yumiko asked fearfully, on the verge of tears, and there was a moment of silence, only sniffles to be heard. "What happened?" She asked again.
"She stopped breathing…" The voice of a much younger boy wailed softly, airily, and my eyes widened, hands clenching unnoticed.
"What?" I whispered tensely. We were too late? All this time, and we were too late? I heard a young girl inside the cave let out a sob- must've been Mikan- and shush the boy, as Alex let a rouge sob escape him.
"When?" Van asked sharply, stepping up beside me, and I glanced at him sharply, doing a double-take. Van! Van could fix this! I looked back towards the cave again, only to notice that it had fallen eerily silent. Van blinked, and repeated himself. "When did she stop breathing?"
Yumiko looked back at us, crying, yet managing to look at us questioningly. I blinked and answered her unspoken question.
"Van's a healer. He can help her." Yumiko's eyes widened hopefully, and she looked back towards the cave before she froze in surprise.
"But she's DEAD!" A young boy with flame red hair shouted, standing at the entrance to the cave, face tear-stained and glaring, holding onto the side of the cave. My lips thinned as my eyes narrowed, looking at Alex. He glared back at me. I spoke.
"Not for long."