Disclaimer: Ronin Warriors is property of Bandai. Deacon is property of GunpowderBlue.
Authors Note: Alternate Universe supposedly set after Season One. Creative liberties have been greatly taken.

Zorra Reed here, the new year of 2012 brings with it many changes, both with the writing content and the authors. Introducing a new talent from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Universe: the fabulous GunpowderBlue! She joins us this year in her first official Ronin Warrior fanfiction and you can look forward to seeing more co-authored fics with her in the future; all of which will possess a similar short of twist as this one, following an AU timeline. Next, a brilliant author whose best known for her Gundam Wing fiction, and specializing in the YST universe: the famous…Valandra! Whose own profile can be viewed on ff.n. It is my honor to work with such two fine authors, and bring together these three unique writing styles as I play the 'editor' blending them all together.


"When Worlds Collide"

Co-Authored:
Zorra Reed, GunpowderBlue, and Valandra
Editor: Zorra Reed
Beta: Valandra

Moonrise Inn Publications
©copyright 2012
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Chapter One

Expect the Unexpected

Mud splattered at his heals as he sloshed through the dirty streets of Downtown Shinjuku; torn tennis shoes slipping across the snow as he slid from one alleyway to another in an attempt to lose his pursuer and arrive at a relatively safe and populated area. Given the lateness of the hour, finding a suitable, safe place narrowed the list down to a stream of unfavorable bars and clubs that lined the outskirts of the unfamiliar part of the city, all of which would turn away a scrawny boy of a mere fifteen years.

For a single moment though, he'd thought about turning into one of the more active bars. Acting on a slim possibility that if he could just slip past the bouncer and into the crowd someone might take pity, they might express concern for one so young being out so late on his own, and in such an obvious state of distress. But if he'd come to learn anything about the "City Life," it was that expectations were high and human kindness overrated. Instead, he veered away from a group congested together in drunken song and merriment outside one of the larger tavern establishments. The sound of R&B music grew stronger as the door was opened from within, and two heavy-busted prostitutes in shimmer-silk mini-skirts stepped out to join the fray.

As he passed, the bitter stench of fried foods assaulted him, doing nothing pleasant for his empty stomach; its nauseating musk mingling with the acidic aroma of cheap cigarettes and whisky. Pressing a hand to his lips to fight back the rising bile, he was all too aware of the leering looks of older men who lustfully traced his retreating form to the next alley. Their intentions left him raw, with a strong scene of unease and extreme vulnerability. The mixture of fear and discontent left him with a deep yearning for more familiar streets and friendlier faces. He wondered if his new-found freedom was destined to end in something more fatal.

Feeling another set of eyes turn their malice upon him (these more dangerous and bearing the promise of retribution), and with nowhere to run and even less places to hide, his attention was drawn upward to the bucolic fire escape and the roof tops above. It was risky, seeing as his pursuer was still in flight overhead, but it was his last chance to slip away unharmed. Eyes skimming the shadows self-consciously, he made a valiant leap upward and managed to snag the ladder, pulling it down with a loud scrapping of metal on metal. Visibly wincing at the sharp sound, he quickly scampered upward, sensitive ears trying to block out the thrumming of his heart beat long enough to listen for sounds of pursuit.

Reaching the roof top, he didn't pause as he dashed across the span of space only to leap across the wide gap onto the next roof. And then the next, bearing himself as far away as possible, while digging in the inner pocket of his ratty cloak for the cell phone he'd stolen from a passer-by in the streets earlier that evening.

OooOOooO

Rowen Hashiba found himself sprawled like a dead fish on the couch in his mother's living room. The literature textbook he'd been reading (and which had been sprawled across his torso) now lay with its pages bent in awkward directions upon the carpeted floor. The thick "thud" sound it'd made upon impacted was drowned by the incisive ring of the phone in the foyer. Rolling over as he rubbed the grit from his eyes, Rowen absently reached down to fold his book close, grunting as sore muscles proved uncooperative and protested the movement in lue of the abnormal position he'd slept in. His gaze came to rest on the neon green light of the VCR, its glowing digital numbers blinking as the minute turned from one twenty-nine to one thirty.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," he muttered, his tone promising death to the late night caller for waking him, even as he counted his blessings that his mother was out for the night. "Who the hell would be calling at this hour?" Running his fingers through his tousled blue hair, Rowen pulled himself to his feet with no small amount of effort, and crossed the room to the hall; his eyes skimmed the caller ID even as he reached for the receiver. "What is it?" he answered the unknown number gruffly, not bothering with proper formalities or courtesy.

"Rowen?" a familiar voice stirred Rowen and he gazed at the caller ID once more, trying to place the caller. "Who is this?" he wanted to question the caller further, already having a suspicion, but was interrupted. "Please Rowen, I need help. I'm downtown at Masterminds Bakery on 60th and Grover. I need you to come get me."

"What?" The voice was so familiar though it'd been a while since he'd last heard it. "Ryo?" he breathed with uncertainty. "What's going on? Where have you been all this…?"

"Just hurry, Rowen!" Ryo cut the archer off with an alarmed wail. Rowen was now able to hear the note of urgency in his comrades' voice that he'd failed to notice before. "Please," Ryo urged; the sound a plea for hope where the hopeless had none. "I need you."

"I'm-" Rowen broke off his words and pulled the phone from his ear, glaring down darkly at the receiver as he listened to the beeps signifying the end of the call. Ryo had hung up on him without waiting for his reply or answering any of his questions. 'That, or contact had been broken another way.' Unwilling to let his thoughts wonder down a path of what-ifs that lead to various dark possibilities, he shook his head firmly to clear his mind, already formulating a course of action. Pressing the receiver dial twice to reset the call, he dialed Cye's cell phone number, knowing they'd need backup.

OooO

Ryo gazed dismally at the Signal Lost icon flashing across the illuminated screen of the cell, his fingers going numb as the realization of being utterly alone sunk in. Sinking down to the stoop outside the shop's door, he wrapped his arms around his knees with a sense of loss and insecurity. He'd lost his pursuer back in the alleys, the rooftops having proven a good idea after all, and they put him back into familiar territory. But now he was on edge and found himself jumping at every shadow. "Calm down," he told himself firmly, a bitter laugh following the reprimand. "Nothing is going to happen to you. Rowen will be here soon. He's never let you down before."

OooOOooO

A deep, animalistic growl vibrated in the back of his throat, watching the youth run from him. It was a wonder why the little thing wasn't trying harder, jumping and twisting around to every shadow and sound that came around him. Especially since he could easily be tracked and caught with as much noise as he was making.

With a near sensuous roll of muscle, the heavy wings that adorned the creature's back were felled and smoothed out against the tattered remains of the shirt they had burst through. He launched into the chilled night air, similar to the giant condor of old as he glided effortlessly over the area in which his coming dinner awaited. The youth would soon enough be his; he could afford a touch of patience before downing and devouring him.

He swooped up on an air pocket, coming to land on the edge of a roof, like some horrible gargoyle representation on the rooftops of old cathedrals. Eyes the color of blood rubies swept over the cross-streets below, before coming to rest on the small form of his prey sitting on a stoop to a closed down shop. The creature's mouth curled into a sadistic grin, baring sharp teeth at the tangible triumph as his talons lightly clicked against the gutter of the building in preparation of swooping down on the boy. "Death has come for you, little one."

OooO

Ryo stood nervously as headlights flashed across the pavement and washed over him. He stepped forward, away from the shelter of the building and towards the open street, only to feel his heart drop into his stomach with disappointment and fear as the car continued onward, the driver wary of a teenager alone in the late night. With a bitter sigh and a lot of apprehension, Ryo swiftly made his way back to the bakery's steps beneath the small green awning to wait for Rowen. 'Please hurry,' he thought to himself, fingers twisting nervously around the cell phone in his pocket; a continuous beeping warning of a low battery sounding from the small device. 'I can feel it drawing nearer.'

The beast's eyes flared wide with excitement at the down trodden look on his prey's face. Grinning widely again as the chance was realized, aluminum gutters were crushed underneath strong hands in preparation of downing the boy. Leaping from the tall ledge of the present building over to the low roof of the bakery shop, stalking close to the edge, the boy wouldn't be able to tell he was there until it was too late; the thought of it was making his mouth water in want. Flicking his tail against one of the cooling vents as he passed, knocking the bulbous top of it off without so much as a care to look back at the noise, he relished in the startled exclamation that came from the sought one below.

Eyes flicked upward at the sound, Ryo's expression paled as he tightened his fingers around the cell phone and silently begged Rowen to appear. "Please, leave me alone!" He pleaded with the darkness above, even as he backed away from the steps of the building, knowing it no longer offered protection for him. Twisting on his heel to dart down the street like a spooked rabbit, he tried to avoid the light of the lampposts as if his very life might depend on it…and it very well could.

A flash of deeper darkness against the night caught the creature's eye as his prey moved, attempting to flee again. He growled deep and dark, excitement coiling in his belly as he leapt out after the boy. Landing on the lamp post the teen had just passed, then the next one in front of him a few yards away. Leaping down to the ground, his large feet made impressions in the snow bank as he watched the child twist about in uncertainty.

He didn't wait for Ryo to turn back before making himself known, approaching to stand up tall and proud behind him; waiting until the slim youth bumped into his chest before making any sort of move. His hot breath bore down against the teen's neck, keen eyes watching the baby hairs there stand up on end as Ryo stiffened and slowly began to turn to him; he himself, not bothering to dart out of view when Ryo came fully about. Blazing and angry red eyes (eyes that seemed to be the only feature that stood out against the inky black) were fixated on the boy. "Did you think you could evade me so easily?" The voice was dark, but the vocal wasn't yelled, more of a sooth scolding as he stalked forward, the boy daring to back up from him.

"Get away from me," Ryo commanded, eyes narrowing angrily at the creature standing only a few inches taller them himself; its body more massive and built then Ryo's own. His eyes skirted towards the creature's left side, to the pouch hugging against his hip; that was where Ryo knew his armor orb to be, the creature having taken it from him days before. 'If ever there was a time to be like the warlords, it's now,' he thought with disgust, wishing he knew the secrets of teleportation.

Realizing there was little more he could do, and no where left for him to run, Ryo planted his feet as best he could on the snow covered ground and crouched into a defensive stance. "I'm not afraid to fight you," he warned. "I've learned a lot since becoming a Ronin."

An impatient sound came from the creature's throat, having regained the sense that he wasn't actually going to kill the boy before him. Though, that didn't diminish the fact that he was being disobedient. "You are truly ignorant." Lashing a hand out to grab the thin wrist held up in offense, he yanked the boy in with a jerk and snarled in his face. Canines (teeth long and pointed) were bared to him menacingly, a threat to be sure. "Do not make this harder then it needs to be, boy. Mark me that I will not hesitate to punish you."

Unfazed, Ryo growled back, expression contorting with rage as it darkened. "I warned you." Leg coming up in a sharp kick, Ryo caught the demon in the groin and twisted his wrist free of the weakened hold as the beast doubled over with a vicious hiss. He swung his other hand up with the same motion, as he aimed to deck the creature in the temple before he would dart free.

But he wasn't so lucky; fate was being a cruel bitch, and Ryo only made it a few yards before the creature was upon him. Its weight bearing down on his back, forcing him down to the asphalt of the street, scrapping his palms and forearms as the two slid with the momentum gained from the snow and ice underneath Ryo's belly. "Little bitch, you are not escaping me again!" Anger was very real now in the voice that breathed into his ear from above. It wasn't shouted, wasn't screamed at him in frustration; no, in fact, the creature almost seemed calm…and it was that calm that was perhaps the most frightening. One black, claw-laden hand sunk into the thick hair, yanking the boy's head back to a painful angle. "You are mine!"

Gritting his teeth against the cold and the pain in his shoulder as talons dug deeply in to the spoiled flesh, Ryo arched against the hold in his hair in hopes to alleviate some of the pain the position had brought on him, rolling lupus blue eyes skyward to gaze into the livid face of the irked demon. "Beast!" he snarled all sense of self preservation gone. "I'll tear you apart when I get free, you bastard!"

"Oh, you think you stand a chance against me, little one?" The pressure on his head was dropped, the talons removed from his shoulder. The position of the demonic presence changed as some of the weight was taken from Ryo's back so that he wasn't being pushed deeper into the snow. A slithering appendage moved over his side then, underneath and wrapping around his waist to turn the black haired youth over onto his back, so that he was staring up into those red eyes that he'd known for far to long now. "I do believe you are quite out of order." Those mesmerizing eyes flared for a moment before settling again, focusing on the boy beneath him, letting the blue be absorbed in the red. "It's time that you stopped this foolishness, Ryo." His voice drifting away in the boy's ears the longer he stared into those bottomless rubies.

"No," Ryo moaned in denial, unable to tear his eyes away from the spell that seduced his free will and drew him in. 'After everything I've fought for, I can't loose now.' Lids growing heavy, Ryo felt the sensation of falling as his ears filled with a rushing sound, a sound that was broken by what could only be the warning of a cars' horn. Body unable to move as he tensed in fear, knowing what was to come next as headlights rolled over them, announced by the sharp squeal of wet brakes. 'It won't stop in time!'

OooOOooO

"HOLY SHIT!" The car wheel was jerked to the right but it was useless, they were too close to the couple in the street and veering only sent them further out of control. Rowen squeezed his eyes shut as he felt Cye beside him brace himself against the dashboard, both bowing their heads to protect their faces.

With a violent jolt, they impacted with the creature first, its body flying up over the hood and glancing off the windshield with a splatter of blood, spider-webbing the glass. It rolled up over the top of the car and was thrown clear of the road as the car continued to swerve sideways, the back spinning into a cookie.

"Rowen, look out!" Cye screamed in warning, his eyes falling on a second figure lying unmoving in the road.

Ryo's eyes widened with fear, seeing the low riding car moving towards him. Unable to act as the hypnotic spell still held his body, he struggled to rise…to twist…anything! The impact was breathtaking, the car striking; then flipping onto its side as it somersaulted in the air and rolled back on its wheels to settle against a metal lamp post.

Cye leaned back from bracing against the dash, though by now, he was more in Rowen's lap then in his own seat, having been thrown over with the impact of the car against the post. His hands were shaking as he touched the point on his head that ached, fingers coming back with a smear of blood. He slid back into his own seat, getting his bearings before the moment caught up with him, causing him to try to open the jeep door, swearing when the cursed thing refused to open. "Rowen…Rowen…damn door! Rowen! Wake up!"

"Don't wanna," Rowen muttered as he struggled to release his grip on the steering wheel. The cold wave of fear that had gripped his heart with the initial crash still lingered, giving him a hollowed, chilled feeling that numbed him to the beating of his own heart. It was in those moments, as his mind was doing a mental check of his body that he realized Cye was moving about beside him, the boy's fingers working to pry his white knuckled grip free while speaking calming words to him. "Cye, are you alright?"

"I'm alright," Cye replied once he'd freed Rowen's fingers. He returned his attentions to his door, grunting as he continually pushed his weight against it in effort to open the stubborn thing. "I can't get the door open; we have to get to Ryo." Rubbing at his shoulder as it ached from the repeated attempts, he finally just grabbed a hold of the "Oh Shit" bar up above the door and swung himself out of the seat and through the busted back window to drop down in the snow, sliding a bit as he landed. The sight of Ryo sprawled in the street with a growing pool of crimson seeping from beneath him, gave cause for panic to rise again. "Rowen, get out here and help me. Ryo's injured!"

"No shit," Rowen drawled sarcastically, struggling to free himself from his seatbelt. "You would be too if your best friends just ran you over." Once freed, he drew in several deep breaths to ensure his calmness before pushing open the door and stepping into the ankle deep slush. 'My mother's going to kill me when she sees this mess,' he thought grimly as he quickly took in the damage of the car, ensuring that it was still drivable. "Don't move him, Cye. I'll be right there," he called. In an afterthought he leaned back inside the car, unlocking the back door then reaching around the steering wheel to turn on the brights, knowing the light would be needed. 'Mother always told me to keep a first aid kit with me. Why didn't I listen?' Reaching into the backseat again, he withdrew a micro-fiber blanket and carried it over his shoulder as he joined Cye, eyes darting about for the mysterious creature they'd struck first.

"It's gone," Cye spoke softly as he caught Rowen's movement from the corner of his eye, his own trailing towards the drift where they figured it had landed. Taking the blanket from Rowen as he knelt at Ryo's side, Cye draped it over the injured teen, tucking it as tightly as he dared to conform to Ryo's body and preserve what body heat it could.

Ryo's eyes focused on Rowen as the blue haired teen knelt next to him, Cye at his side. "It's good to have you back, Ryo," Rowen spoke calmly, voice providing an anchor for the injured teen. He tried to smile but when he saw Ryo's eyes glisten with unshed tears, his trembling lips parting soundlessly, unable to speak, Rowen's heart clenched, eyes bright with his own unshed tears. "It's alright, Ryo. Just relax and let us help you. I am so sorry."

Sitting back on his knees, he reached into his back pocket and withdrew the cell he'd grabbed on the way out the door (again, as an afterthought). 'I seem to be having a lot of those tonight.' Turning it around in his hand, he thumbed the emergency numbers before pressing the TALK button. "Yes, I need an ambulance at the corner of 64th and Grover. There's been an accident."

OooOOooO

It didn't take long of the ambulance to get to where the three of them were. The paramedics jumped out of the back of the van, ready with their gear and a gurney. "Cye," Rowen pulled the brunette aside as the paramedics shifted Ryo onto a backboard and lifted him up. "They're going to take him to the hospital. We need to follow them. They'll need Ryo's information so they can contact his family. In the meantime, we need to give out statements to the police then head over to Sage's place." He pointed towards the officers that had arrived and were currently inspecting his vehicle.

The brunette looked back from over Ryo's prone form, having been worrying a bit of his thumbnail bed as he'd been watching. "Right…right..."

Sighing with an exasperated shake of his head, Rowen reached out to Cye and snared his upper arm, drawing him back and turning them towards the car. "Come over this way, Cye." Near the car stood two uniformed officers carrying clipboards and notepads, while a third officer circled the vehicle with a flash camera, taking photos of the wreak. Further down the road they could see a patrol car, its lights flashing in warning to oncoming vehicles. Working as a bearer to block the road until the area could be cleared of wreckage and injured.

"Morning boys," the taller of the two greeted them, his gruff voice leaving no doubt in Rowen's mind that he wasn't pleased about the late night call. "Were you both in the vehicle at the time of the accident?"

Rowen shared a look with Cye which said Rowen would take full responsibility for everything before they turned their attention back to the officer. After all, it was his fault they were in such a jam in the first place. He shouldn't have asked Cye to tag along. "Yes sir, we were."

Not missing the look, the officer nodded, having known as much. "Mind telling me which one of you this car belongs too?"

"It's my mother's, sir." Rowen answered again, his eyes drifting to the damaged vehicle with dismay.

"Does she know you have it out this late?"

"No sir." Rowen bit his lip nervously as the officer nodded to his partner, a stout man with a thick mustache curving down the sides of his mouth.

"Come with me, young man," the second of the two said as he tapped Cye's shoulder and led him out of ear shot. Rowen followed them with his gaze for only a moment before his attention was demanded front and center.

"What's your name, kid?" The officer asked.

"Rowen Hashiba, Sir," he answered with a touch of humility.

"Do you have a license, Mr. Hashiba?" the officer asked, giving Rowen a disapproving look as he placed the boy's age.

"Only a learner's permit, Sir," Rowen replied, trying to be as polite as possible to earn himself some brownie points.

"I see." The officer scribbled something in his notebook before looking up again. "I'm Officer Seaborg. You realize there's a curfew?" The boy nodded, so he continued. "Mind explaining to me what happened here tonight, and why you were out so late?"

Rowen swallowed nervously and shifted his weight from foot to foot, his gaze again going to the car only to be drawn away as the ambulance doors were closed, Ryo concealed within. 'Hang in there Ryo. We'll be along soon…I hope."

OooOOooO

"Stop bellyaching, Rowen, and be happy they didn't ticket you or impound the car." Cye sighed, massaging away the beginnings of a headache while being mindful of the bandage the paramedics had tapped to his temple. He was more worried over the fact that the creature that had been chasing Ryo had disappeared sometime in between getting hit and the time it took them to get out of the vehicle. The police had deterred Rowen and himself long enough that neither of them had gotten a chance to inspect the area that the creature had landed in. 'What was it?' he wondered. What had it wanted with Ryo? 'Was it after the armor? Was it sent by the warlords?' More importantly, 'Will it be back?' He didn't have the answers to those questions and it bothered him more then he was willing to admit.

"Aside from the fact that my mother is going to kill me when I get home later," Rowen frowned and lowered his head into his bandaged hands, the smell of blood and anesthetic strong in his nostrils. "I can't believe I hit him, Cye. He calls me for help and I run him over! Some friend I am. What if I had killed him?"

"Rowen, don't say such things." Cye wasn't certain what he should say to help ease Rowen's guilt. There didn't seem to be any words appropriate for such a situation, not when the same questions and fear had been eating away inside himself as well. "The important thing is that he's going to be alright. You got him the help he needed and well…this is Ryo. He always bounces back."

"That's not funny, Cye," Rowen snapped, finding the teen's attempt at hummer inappropriate and unwelcomed.

"Don't snap at me because you're feeling lousy!" Cye growled back, eyes flashing in the darkness as he sent an angry glance the other's way. "It was an accident, get the fuck over it."

Rowen frowned and pressed back into his seat, folding his arms like a pouting child as he sulked. "Sorry," he said eventually, noting their surroundings as Cye turned the car down a residential street. "I just worry about him."

There was a moment's pause in which Rowen thought Cye wouldn't acknowledge him, but then the burette spoke, his voice soft. "We all do."

"Kento said he disappeared on Halloween, almost two months ago. Then suddenly, out of no where, I get a call from him pleading for help. What am I suppose to think?" Rowen explained, gazing down at his feet as he shifted them against the black floor mat. "He's in some sort of trouble. Why couldn't we find him?"

"Rowen," Cye pulled into a familiar driveway and parked. Turning the engine off, he undid his seatbelt and twisted in his seat to face the archer. "Look at me," he urged, lifting Rowen's chin so that concerned blue met unsteady midnight. "What's important is that Ryo's back and we're here, all of us, to help and protect him so that whatever took him before doesn't get him again. He's our brother and we won't let him be hurt, this incident aside. He'll forgive you."

Rowen found himself unable to accept such a truth, feeling responsible for having let Ryo down. "Do you really think so?" he chocked on a sob and instantly found himself embraced in Cye's arms, the teen patting his back lightly to reassure him.

"I have no doubt he will," Cye whispered. "Ryo's heart is a forgiving one. He'll understand." Rowen nodded, closing his eyes against a sudden onslaught of tears. "Let's get Sage and head to the hospital. I want to be there when Ryo wakes."

Sighing, Cye held Rowen close for a moment longer before releasing him and waiting for the teen to compose himself before opening the car door, the interior light blinding them both after sitting in the dark for so long. "Ready?"

Rowen nodded, not trusting his voice just yet as he mirrored Cye's actions and stepped out of the car. They closed the doors as quietly as possible, not wishing to wake any of the nearby residents; Cye had the foresight to park the vehicle at the end of the driveway, rather then pulling up to the garage door. "His room should be the corner window on the left." Rowen pointed in said direction as they strayed from the paved path into the recently cut grass. Seeing the faint glow of light through the blinds from what he could only assume was a small desk lamp, Rowen reached out and rapped his knuckles on the glass. "I hope he's awake."

"It's three in the morning, Ro, I don't think Sage is going to be awake, nor do I think that he's going to be in a good mood when we do wake him." Sighing out loud as he rapped his own knuckled against the glass a little harder then Rowen had. His patience was wearing thin, not to mention that he felt as if they were running out of time.

The curtain was pulled back and the blinds parted enough for them to glimpse a pair of pale blue eyes before they disappeared again, the blinds rising with the pull of a string. "He's awake alright," Rowen moaned, feeling more uneasy now then he had been a moment ago.

The window opened and instantly Sage leaned out, already dressed in a thick sweater and defining designer jeans that Rowen would have to give three months of allowance to pay for. "I felt the pull through the armor," Sage stated before either of the two had a chance to speak. "What the Hell happened?"

"It's Ryo," Cye replied, a touch of urgency creeping into his tone as he stepped back from the blond and those disapproving eyes, unused to both being visible. "He's back."

"What!" Sage's eyes widened in surprise; some unnamed emotion drifting through their orbs before he blinked and hid it behind an emotionless mask. "Where is he now?"

Rowen and Cye shared a look, which only served to aggravate the Halo warrior. "There was an accident shortly after he reappeared," Cye began to explain. "We accidentally ran him over and are heading to the hospital now to wait for news." He raised his hand to stave off interruption. "We'll explain later, just hurry."

"Meet me at the front door. I'll be out in a minute." Sage didn't wait for a response, reaching up to close the window before dropping the blinds back into place and covering them with a curtain. He moved to his desk once alone and scribbled a short note for his mother before turning out the light and leaving his room. Pinning his note to the refrigerator where his mother was sure to see it and promising to call in the morning, he retrieved his coat from the forayer and joined his friends outside, closing the front door quietly and locking it.

Cye and Rowen were waiting for him at the car, Cye at the driving side and Rowen leaning against the passenger door, gnawing at his thumbnail. It was the usual way the two dealt with things; Cye with a level head while Rowen, of course, worried himself into a rut when stressed. Though the two were notorious for their role-reversals, depending on whose company they kept.

Opening the backdoor of the car without so much as a glance towards the others, Sage led by action and took his seat behind Cye's. The other two following suit a moment later. When everyone's seatbelts were firmly set in place and he'd brushed some of the glass from the busted passenger side windows off his seat, Cye started the car and backed onto the street.

"Were either of you hurt?" He saw both of his companions jump at the sound of his voice, Rowen glancing back at him from the front with a questioning look. "The windows," Sage pointed out. "There's blood on the inside."

"Nothing to serious but Rowen..." Cye trailed off, sparing a look over to the blue haired archer for a moment as they pulled out onto the street. "He hit his head on the steering wheel...Ro?"

"I'm fine," Rowen replied, soft voice almost distant as he turned away. His attention was drawn to the windshield as he glimpsed the cracked glass and was drawn back into his memories. "I lost control of the car. Ryo...he was in the street, something inhuman attacking him. We hit them and the car rolled."

The blond's expression transformed into a mask of horror as he gazed at his friend's profile, his heart leaping painfully in his chest as it went out to them both. "What are the police telling his family?" he asked, knowing that the things he wanted to say were best left for another time and a more private place.

"We don't know..." Cye exhaled, idling at a red street light, the hospital easily seen in the distance against the night sky. "I didn't even know that Ryo had family that lived in town."

Sage's brow furrowed at the brunette, but a glance to Rowen showed the archer was just as unknowledgeable about Ryo's home life and such a thing deeply concerned him. "He's mentioned an elder brother that cares for him. I believe his name was Deacon and he lives outside the city, somewhere in the woods not far from the Koji property."

~TBC~