DISCLAIMER: I do not own Toriko

Warning: May contain yaoi or shounen-ai.

Author's Note.

A bunch of little bits from important characters. This happens around the same time as Dream. Enjoy it, because I'm mostly going to use the Four Heavenly Kings and Komatsu for the POV's. Personally, I think it's more interesting that way.

I considered putting Ootake in here, but I decided against it.

Lament For A Missing Destiny

/\ Shards /\

Ichiryuu notices things.

It's what he is good at, because all the students of Acacia specialized in one thing other than monstrous strength. He notices things, and makes connections, and knows things. Secrets, conspiracies, recipes, plots- it doesn't matter what, he either knows about it or wants to know. It's partly how he became who he is today, President of the IGO.

So if, for example, when Toriko is called in to collect the Rainbow Fruit (Partly because Ichiryuu wants to see how Toriko has grown since he has last seen him and partly to give the youngest of his boys a present- he hasn't seen him in so long after all.), if Toriko looked pale, or tired, or worried, Ichiryuu would know about it. If he was drawn, with shadows under his eyes and a tight, almost fake smile on his face, the president of the IGO would have learned about it. If Toriko seemed conflicted, hurt, or painfully nostalgic, then he would find out, somehow.

And Ichiryuu notices.

But why? Why is the happiest of his boys unhappy? (Because it works like this: Toriko forgets and forgets and pretends when he cannot forget any longer, cannot forget anymore.)

Why has Zebra started acting up? (Boredom perhaps- but Ichiryuu knows better. Zebra has been bored for a long, long time, alone, separated from the others.)

Why has Coco started moving? (The one who attempted to stay in the past, hide in the past, is finally moving towards the future. He wonders whether this is a good thing.)

And where has Sunny, the fragile one, the beautiful one, the youngest, gone? (If Coco and Sunny meet it will be disastrous- hopefully IGO's resources can circumvent that catastrophe before it happens- if it is going to happen.)

It doesn't make sense- He's missing a piece of the puzzle, he knows it.

He closes his eyes and remembers the day it all broke apart. And Ichiryuu remembers the four boys from his memories, so young, so fragile, and sees within those pain-filled eyes the remnants of their shattered future.

Where did I go wrong? He wonders. Where did I go wrong...

But there's no use dwelling on past mistakes and broken dreams and hearts and happiness, for there's work to be done, plans to make. Everything for the new generation, the children, his boys. Their paths may not be smoothed over, their travels, their training dangerous, and their hearts unguarded (for now, he hopes. For now.), but that does not mean that he doesn't watch them. It doesn't mean he never aids them from the sidelines. It doesn't mean that he doesn't care.

So whatever catastrophic wrong has been wrought to the four, to his boys, (because he knows something's wrong, and it what happens to one affects the others) he will fix it.

Because that's what he owes them as a parent.

(What Ichiryuu doesn't realize is that this has much farther-reaching consequences than just the Four Heavenly Kings. The good thing is, no-one else quite realizes this either.)

Far away, searching for ingredients in the wilderness, another man contemplates another piece of the puzzle.

He has nothing to do with the Four Heavenly Kings nor the cook that affects them so- yet. But still he notices, still he wonders at this strange occurrence.

The man stops hunting, taking a break after bringing down the beast he came to the forest for. While he prepares it, he considers the phenomenon he has observed. How curious, that slight flickering light. Those four beacons, meant to lead, are lost themselves- irony indeed. Five lost flames, five confused people. Interesting... How bright the beacons, how warm the light. Vaguely he wonders as to what they must be feeling.

As he absently allows the fire to burn higher, bringing out the full flavour of the ingredients he has gathered, his mind is far away, checking up on the five spirits.

They have moved- are moving once again, but he had expected that. One seems to be in about the same spot as they have been for the entire time he has been keeping tabs on them. Said location strikes a chord in his memory- but he cannot quite seem to remember where he knows it from. Another, one that has stayed put for a while, is moving- he cannot tell where, but their path, though somewhat random, seems about to collide with another, one who has been constantly moving. The hunter notes that he has been able to name almost all the places the latter flame has been to- this is another fighter, another hunter. A Bishokuya. A fourth is moving around seemingly randomly, but their destination, coincidentally, is the same place that the flickering light has been for the past week or so. Unfortunately for them, the flickering light, however small a flame it may have been, has grown, stopped flickering (as much), and started to move, and that beacon will arrive to find that the area has been vacated. He is half sure that the last beacon, the one that travels randomly, purposelessly, is also a Bishokuya- but he cannot quite tell.

The hunter finds himself surprised by the amount of interest he holds towards these flames- they are small, nothing next to him or other members of his organization, but still... How odd it is that they can capture his attention for so long, he who is always bored. This world of endless ennui... He has finally found something to occupy his time.

Why can he feel their emotions, their resolves, their existences, from so far away? Such a strange thing, such strange people. He wants to meet one of them- and he is not one to wait for 'somedays' and 'eventually'. But for now, he has other things to do, other work. His gaze briefly flickers over the food he is preparing, before refocusing on the five lights.

Staajyun watches the flames, their flickering light entertaining him. Perhaps one day they may burn hotter, burn higher, become strong enough to challenge him. They have potential...

He wonders what will happen when they finally meet.

A thousand flames are reflected within his eyes, but these five interest him. Behind him, the forgotten fire burns, tiny men of fire challenging demons of white flame, endless battles twisting through the burning pyre.

(He is flame, the one who burns and destroys. But what does that mean for those who catch his interest?)

Far away, a long time ago, there was a girl on a mountaintop, all alone.

Her master had left her, hade gone down into the canyon to find 'Melk Stardust', a grindstone that supposedly had no equal. He left with only a smile and a wave, like always. And she, like always, had trusted in his strength and waited for him to come home. Waited for him to come back to her.

It's been years now, and she has grown into a young woman. He still hasn't returned. And she is terrified.

She doesn't know where he is, although she knows that he should be in Heavy Hole still. But she remembers several times when he had become sidetracked, moving on to other places and materials quickly, heedless of his original task. Worse, she does not know how he is doing. Whether he is alive or dead or injured, why he has not returned, why he has not come back to her like he always has!

This is what she worries about. But heedless of her worry, there is work to be done. So she calls herself Melk the Second, if only in her mind, her original name forgotten many years ago, and tries to continue her master's work. Even if this is a falsehood, even if he never acknowledged her as a true knife-sharpener or his successor, she has to do this. Because the orders for knives are still pouring in, regardless of her master's presence, and she cannot allow his reputation to be tarnished by his absence.

She works tirelessly on improving her skills by examining her master's knives, their flawless edges and perfectly sharp blades captivating her. Her knives are toys compared to his, the knives she sharpens hopelessly blunt. But- but... She still trains, and works.

And one day, something odd happens.

She wakes up early in order to check up on the new knives and orders that should be coming in today. By early, she means extremely early, as she normally wakes early in order to start work early as well.

She walks down the huge stairs, designed by her master for himself, and pauses. Something is calling her, demanding her attention. Somehow, with a strange certainty, she knows what it is. She grabs a knife from the wall as she passes, one specifically created for its ability to create thin slices. This is a blade of her own design, made for this single purpose despite its usefulness in cooking.

She bends down and carefully cuts along the thin outline of a square on the ground. After finishing her last, precise cut, she lifts up the square of rock to reveal the box underneath.

Inside the box is one of her master's greatest treasures. A shard of the fang of Derous, the dragon that ruled the entire world once upon a time.

And it is calling to her.

She wonders why as she carries it over to her work area. She tests how hard it is on one of her best grindstones- nothing happens. As she suspected. As she looks around the room wondering if she has anything that will stand up to the fang, she wonders: What, then, is she supposed to do with the fang if she has nothing to sharpen it with-

Her gaze lands on a glittering golden stone in the back corner. Her eyes widen- she remembers this, she remembers when she got it. Her master had given it to her shortly before he left to search for...

"Melk's Stardust..." She whispers in awe as she approaches it. This... Maybe this will work!

For the first time, she thinks that she may be able to do this.

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