It's my birthday again, which means only one thing… A fanfic for you guys! Whoo! Sadly this is another angsty friendship/hurt/comfort story, which for some reason seems to be all I write on my birthday. Why is that? I really have no idea. XD I've had the idea for this story for years now and decided to finally write it. :3 I'm also writing this after donating blood (I know, who donates blood on their birthday? XD) so some of this may make no sense. Sorry! X3

Note: This takes place after the episode "Eve's Night" in Season 2.

Disclaimer: I don't claim to own Monster Rancher or the characters. I'm just a huge fan. Tecmo owns everything. I just own the plot.

Cold Shoulder

Snow.

So much snow.

Why couldn't it just go away? To melt into oblivion?

The cold made coming to terms with it so much more difficult. Would they ever have known had they not stumbled upon that dainty tundra village that led them to fighting their greatest enemy? Would the words of their attacker not been heard if that little girl hadn't been captured? Would their friend have ever told them about their darkest secret? Their already difficult quest had just become that much more confusing, and suddenly the big picture wasn't just in black and white. Silence that hung over the group only proved to make them think harder about the situation, which only made it more puzzling. There was no going back and forgetting the knowledge they had acquired that night, and the world seemed a little more corrupt because of it.

"…I think that's good. We should get a fire going and make something warm to eat so we don't freeze out here." Hare was the first to speak up after the completion of a new igloo. The snow was packed hard into a large dome thanks to the power of Golem and Big Blue, one in which all the Searchers could fit into. Outside the large dome of snow, an area of the slushy substance had been cleared away so the group would have a place to sit and have a fire. The frigid air was less than refreshing and the entire group stayed close to one another to retain heat, excluding one member who sat on the opposite side of the clearing.

"We already got some firewood to get the fire going, but we'll have to dry it all out before we can use it, though. What a pain…" Suezo sighed softly, though his complaining stopped there. He really wasn't in the mood for any complaining or arguing for once, for the truth that he had learned about that night had caused a great amount of grief to bubble up into his mind.

"Pixie and I can use our fire based attacks to dry the wood out. You guys just sit and rest up," Hare spoke up with a tired smile, one in which the Pixie purebred returned with a nod of her head before they went to work on making the wood usable.

"Thanks guys," Genki gave the duo a smile of his own before sitting on one of the cold logs they had gathered from the arctic forest. The group looked beyond worn out, both mentally and physically. Mocchi was leaning up against Suezo and for once, the eyeball monster didn't yell at him or shake him off. Golem and Big Blue sat quietly behind the group and kept to their own thoughts. Tiger sat near Genki with a tired, yet alert expression while keeping his eyes glued to the dead grass under his paws. The young boy felt his heart drop as he looked over to the last member of their group who sat alone across from him, and he felt guilty for flinching as their gazes met.

Holly looked as though her entire world had been destroyed which, in a way, it had. Her shoulders were slumped with fatigue and her once confident eyes looked dim and emotionless. He half expected her to cry, but she didn't. Instead, she kept up a strong front as she continued to try and interact with the rest of the group as she normally would, but things could never go back to the way they had been. Before they had set up camp, Genki had watched Holly carefully after their encounter with Moo. He watched as she occasionally tried to make idle conversations with the other group members and, with every heart breaking moment, he watched as the other group members subconsciously avoided her.

They were afraid of her.

At first he had been angry. How couldn't he be? Holly had been the first friend he had met in the world of the monsters and suddenly everyone was backing away from her like she had the plague. What made him feel more sick, though, was that he was doing the same thing. Whenever Holly would try to walk next to Genki like she normally did, he would have the sudden urge to run up to Hare and start a conversation with the rabbit monster even if he didn't care about the subject. Whenever Holly would trip and fall from the harsh snow, he wouldn't run to her side to help her up like he normally would have. And whenever she would flash him a smile, he would look the other way.

He was afraid of her, too.

Of all the people he had ever met in his life, Holly was the last person he would have ever expected to feel afraid of. Yet, here he was, averting his gaze away from her once again and he could picture in his head the hurt expression that was present on her face. He almost wanted to laugh at the horrible irony that had been unleashed upon the group, but laughter was the last thing he wanted to hear. He wanted to yell, to punch the igloo they had made, to march up to Holly and demand answers, to cry, and to just wish it all away. But he couldn't. He couldn't undo the conversation they had with Moo earlier and it angered him to no end. The truth that had been revealed that was now lingering in everyone's head and that was breaking the Searchers apart.

Holly was Moo's daughter.

Of all the things in the world, that was the last thing anyone had ever expected. Holly, the most sweet, caring, and innocent person in existence was related to the most horrifying beast the world had ever known. It was too much to comprehend and try to understand. What made it more confusing was how Holly had known this. She didn't deny Moo's implications and had admitted the truth, even showing the dagger she had been carrying around was actually her father's. Why hadn't she told them? She had even left Suezo, her closest friend, out of the loop. Did she not trust them? Was she protecting her father? Whose side was she really on? Was she working for Moo because he was her father? There were so many questions that lingered in Genki's head, but he couldn't find the courage to ask the girl herself. He knew, however, he wasn't the only one. The other rebels would constantly send the Wielder of the Magic Stone looks of curiosity, all of them unsure of what was to come now.

"The fire's ready! See? I knew we could do it!"

Hare's voice once again broke the silence of the group and the rebels were quick to trudge over to the roaring flames before sitting down close to one another, their bodies sandwiched together for added warmth. On a normal day, Hare would have complained about being squished up next to Tiger, but he just wasn't up for it. The group stayed in silence with their gazes looking over at Holly, who hadn't gone over to the source of heat and, instead, sat by herself in the cold. Guilt bubbled up in each of the Searchers' hearts, but other thoughts caused them further stress and uncertainty.

'She's related to the monster who stole my brother! The monster that turned my little brother against me and forced me to kill him! How can I look past that?'

'How long has she really know about her relation to Moo? She didn't tell us sooner, so maybe she's been working for him the whole time. It would explain how Moo's Baddies seemed to always know where we are…'

'Why did… she keep that… a secret? Was she… trying to help us… or was she trying… to hide it? Why… hide it, though? Did she… fear us… rejecting her… or did she fear us… interfering with… her father's plans…?'

'Holly can't be evil, right, chi? But she can control the Magic Stone like Moo, chi. Maybe she's been leading us into traps on purpose. Why, chi? Does she like Moo better then us?'

'I wish we never ran into Moo like we did. I liked it better when I didn't know my best friend was related to the beast that destroyed our village. Is that why we were spared? Were Moo and Holly working together from the start? Is that why she tried to save Naga? Oh, Phoenix… This can't be happening…'

'I don't understand why Holly didn't tell us sooner. She only keeps secrets when she thinks it'll help the group. I just can't believe that she would work for Moo, even if he is her father. She's just not that kind of person… right? How much do I really know about her?'

The rebels stayed quiet while Pixie and Big Blue talked quietly among each other, most likely about their next plan of action. This new road bump was not one anyone could have expected, but it was certainly taking its toll on the group. The person they trusted most was related to their greatest enemy. Genki felt a sigh exit his mouth while his eyes watched the dancing flames of the fire. It reminded him of his first day in the world of the monsters and when he first had a real conversation with Holly. He remembered how he annoyed the brunette and how surprised she was when she saw the CD-ROM inside his game console. Back then, she was more witty and proud, her eyes always holding a fire in them that matched the one he was currently looking at. Now, she looked broken. He remembered when she was more of a spitfire and when she had suddenly become more reserved. Looking back, that transition occurred after Holly had been abducted from Moo. It was after she found out she was Moo's daughter.

'Is she dangerous?'

'Can we trust her?'

'How will this effect finding the Phoenix?'

'In the end, will she side with the Phoenix or with her father?'

More questions that only the daughter of Moo herself could answer filled the mind of the Searchers, but no one willed themselves to go ask her. She was different now, no longer seen as the sweet young girl of the group, but now seen as Moo's daughter. She went from being the gentlest human alive to being a possible threat in a matter of seconds, and no one knew how to approach the situation. Genki, however, was sick of it. The more he thought about it, the more he became angry with himself for doubting Holly. She was the heart of their group and the one anyone could go to for advice. She loved everyone and he couldn't imagine life without her. When he really looked at the situation, he didn't know why he was afraid. Was he afraid of being deceived by Moo, or was he afraid of Holly breaking his trust? Then again, besides not telling them about being Moo's daughter, when had she ever hid secrets from them before?

The sound of crunching snow snapped Genki out of his trance, and he was surprised to see Holly dusting stray snow off her pants before wordlessly trudging away from the rebels. The Searchers watched in confusion at the young girl's sudden move, and each of them were quick to glance at one another.

"Should we let her leave camp alone like this?" Pixie spoke up with concern. "This area is probably crawling with Baddies."

"If that's the case then there's no problem. I mean, her father is Moo so the Baddies won't hurt her. For all we know she's going to meet Moo for tea and cookies right now," Hare replied bitterly, still unsure of how to feel about the situation. A swift punch in the arm caused the rabbit monster to yelp, and he gritted his teeth when he eyes connected with a pair of clear ones. "Genki! What the heck was that for?"

"For saying that! Holly wouldn't betray us!" Genki felt his fists automatically clench in preparation for a fight, but he relaxed when Golem grabbed onto Hare before the rabbit monster could lunge at him.

"You talk a good story, Genki, but you're just as nervous as the rest of us about the situation! Holly is Moo's daughter and there's no changing that! I, for one, can't just be all accepting of this because if we let our guard down, then it could be the end for us!" Hare spat back angrily.

"She wouldn't sell us out to Moo! She's not that kind of person!"

"What kind of person is she? The kind that's related to Moo?"

"Shut up!"

"I don't know if you've noticed, Genki, but this is war. To you this may be some game, but to the rest of us this is life and death! We thought we knew Holly, but we really didn't! Do you really want to risk the lives of everyone on this team just so Holly can travel with us? No matter how you look at it, she's still Moo's daughter!"

Genki wanted to shout something back, but nothing came to mind. Hare was right; Holly was Moo's daughter regardless of how he looked at it. Nothing could change that, even if he wished he could. He felt his shoulders shake slightly while his breathing became heavy, but he didn't care. Hare was right about everything he had said, from putting the group at risk all the way to saying how he was just as scared as the rest of the team. Him, the boy most known for his outstanding courage, was scared of a fourteen year old girl. It made him feel ill. It was true, he was scared to see how things would play out, where him and Holly's paths would end up, but he felt a sudden burst of courage as his mind began to wander to the past.

"…Holly isn't a Baddie. She may be related to Moo, but she's not our enemy," Genki's voice trailed off into the still air, and the rest of the group slowly leaned in to hear the boy out.

"How do you know?" Tiger asked with interest for he, too, was unsure of the situation.

"Look back to times after Holly was abducted by Moo, which is when she said is when she found out about her relation to Moo. If Holly was working for Moo, why would she have pushed Tiger out of the way of that Black Worm's attack and got poisoned instead?" Genki looked over to the wolf monster with a look of desperation, though he felt relief when Tiger nodded his head in agreement.

"I suppose it would have been easier to just let me get poisoned if she were working for Moo," Tiger admitted with a shrug.

"And Golem! On Horn's ship when you were feeling sick, if she was working for Moo, it would have been better to not comfort you because then you would have been too weak to fight Gooji! But she went up to help you and to keep you company to make you feel better!" Genki exclaimed while Golem thought back to that horrible boat ride.

"That is… true. Holly helped… me overcome… my fears…" Golem nodded softly.

"Suezo, if Holly was working for Moo, why would she have defended you about having a specialty attack? She's the one who convinced you that you were still a great member to our team regardless of your fighting ability. How would convincing you to stay in the group help Moo in any way? And she's your best friend! If she was working for Moo, I'm sure you would have known."

"You've got a good point, kid," Suezo smiled weakly to himself as a bit of his inner doubt melted away.

"Mocchi, Holly is always defending you and is always acting like a mother figure to you. I know her well enough to know Holly would never want to hurt you! Without her you wouldn't have even been unlocked!"

"Yeah, chi! Holly's always good to me, chi!"

"And Hare. I know you have the most doubt because you always look out for the team, but she's always trusted you and cared about you, too. When you got into that fight with Tiger in the underground cavern and you ran off, Holly was the first one to follow me in order to find you. She didn't think twice about it. She always asks for your opinion of things because she trusts you and even though this is a difficult situation, I think we need to trust her, too."

Hare didn't speak for awhile, his eyes staying downcast and his fists staying clenched. He was a monster not use to trusting anyone, especially humans, much like Tiger and it hurt him finding out the human he trusted most was related to their enemy. Yet, even with his past of being a thief and even conning the group at first, Holly had welcomed him into their group with open arms without question.

"…you're right, Genki. It's just… hard to take in all at once," Hare spoke softly, his ears drooping as he spoke. "Every time I look at her, I don't know what to think anymore. I don't know how to trust her."

"We're all feeling the same way. It'll take some time, but I know we'll be okay in the end. We just need to… understand where Holly is coming from." Genki stood up slowly while tightening his black cloak around his body. "I'm gonna go look for her. We'll find a way to recover from this."


'What if she attacks me?'

'What if she's using me?'

'What if she kills me?'

Genki shook the terrible thoughts out of his head as he did his best to maneuver in the deep snow that clung to his cloak and legs. He hated the thoughts that kept subconsciously making their way into his mind, but he knew there was no stopping them just yet. The young boy felt a shiver go up his spine and he was quick to grasp the cloak closer to his body. Holly's footsteps were still imprinted in the snow and he followed them closely through the icy forest. He could only imagine how awful she felt, the feeling of isolation and abandonment that she was suffering from. He felt horribly guilty. Here they were, the group meant to save the world, and they had exiled one of their own. He knew, deep down, that Holly understood their feelings of uncertainty, but that didn't make his nerves feel at ease. She was alone in the world, both physically and mentally, with no one to turn to. There was no one there to comfort her. To make her feel safe. To make her feel wanted. She walked a path on the verge of emptiness and destruction.

"…Holly?" Genki felt himself whisper the girl's name without thinking twice about it. The young girl was sitting quietly at the base of a large tree, her body huddled in her cloak and her knees brought securely up to cover her face. He couldn't see her face, but he could tell from the way her arms shook that she was surprised at his sudden presence.

"…Genki?" Holly replied softly as she lifted her head to face the young boy, though her expression of surprise changed to disheartened as she caught Genki flinch at her voice.

"You… you should come back to camp. It's dangerous being out here," the clear-eyed boy spoke while fidgeting nervously with his cloak.

"…I'm not coming back." Holly's replied sent a wave of chills down Genki's spine, and he could only gawk at her in surprise.

"W-what? But, why not?"

"…you and I both know why. You heard it yourself; I'm Moo's daughter. How ironic would it be if Moo's daughter traveled with the Searchers destined to find the Phoenix and destroy Moo? It's better if I don't travel with you anymore."

"It's impossible for us to find the Phoenix without you! Only you have a Magic Stone!"

"Yes, that's true. That's why I'm giving it to you," Holly spoke while tossing the pendant into Genki's unsuspecting hands. He could only gape at her. "You're bound to find someone who can use it and when you do, you'll be able to find the Phoenix."

"You can't be serious! You're just gonna give away the Magic Stone like this?"

"I trust you. I know you'll take care of it."

Genki felt like fainting from mental overload, but he took a few deep breaths to keep his calm. Never in a million years would he have expected Holly to give him her most precious possession, and that horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach surfaced again.

"Holly, you can't be for real right now! Do you know how the rest of the group will react?"

"Yes, they'll be happy," Holly spoke while flashing Genki a smile, and Genki felt the pit in his stomach only grow. "You don't need to cover up anything, Genki. I know everyone's afraid of me now that they know what I really am. I would be scared, too, if I were in your shoes."

"I… I'm not afraid of you!"

"Really? Then why is it that you're clutching that stick and keeping a fifteen feet radius away from me?"

Genki hadn't even noticed he had grabbed that branch or that he was clutching it so hard his knuckles were white. He hadn't noticed the distance he had kept from the young girl or the defensive position he was in. It hit him like a ton of bricks. Regardless of how he wanted to be unafraid of his friend, the fear was still there. He really was scared of her, just like everyone else was.

"I…"

"There's no need to say anything, Genki. I understand, honestly. I should have told you guys the truth, then maybe things wouldn't have ended up like this. It'll be much better if I don't travel with you anymore, otherwise Moo could use my relation to him as a weakness to the group," Holly flashed Genki another smile that almost caused his knees to buckle. "Just… can you promise me one thing?"

"P-promise?"

"Yes. Promise me that… you won't forget about me, okay? I won't forget about you, either."

Everything was happening so fast, Genki wasn't even sure what was going on. One minute he was walking through the woods looking for his companion, and the next he was finding out that she was leaving the group with no intentions of returning. Why would she voluntarily leave the group like this? Why would she give him the Magic Stone? Suddenly, it hit him; she was afraid of herself. Holly had put up a strong front, using warm smiles and a calm voice to throw him off, but the fear in her eyes couldn't be masked. Genki felt his eyes widen at the realization and, to Holly's surprise, he dropped the branch he had been holding.

"Genki what-"

"You're not dangerous, Holly. I… I'm just sorry it took me this long to realize that."

"No, I am dangerous. You should keep your distance," Holly spoke with wide eyes when she noticed Genki take a small step forward.

"You may be related to Moo, but you aren't him."

"His power hunger flows through my veins and I use the Magic Stone just like him. We're more similar than you think."

"You may use the Magic Stone, but you use it for good, not evil like him! You're nothing like him! If you were, you would have killed us all by now! Come on, I'll show you you're not a threat!" Genki didn't wait for a response as he lunged forward and pulled Holly's dagger from its sheath. For a moment, Holly feared he was going to stab her with it but, instead, he placed the hilt of the weapon in her hand before resting the tip of the blade against his chest.

"G-Genki?"

"Go on, stab me."

"W-w-w-what? Have you-"

"If you're just like Moo, then you'll stab me right now! Come on! This is the perfect chance to get rid of one of Moo's greatest threats! What are you waiting for?" Genki didn't need to close his eyes and wait for impact, because he knew there wouldn't be one. After a moment of silence, the blade fell from Holly's hands and imbedded itself in the cold snow below. With a soft whimper, the young girl slumped to her knees before burying her face into her hands and Genki felt his heart sink at the sight. At seeing the brunette so distraught, his fear of her vanished and was replaced with concern, and he slowly got into his knees before bringing the sobbing girl into his arms. It was the first time anyone had tried to associate with her since her secret had been revealed.

"…G-Genki…?"

"It's alright, I'm here."

"…I'm sorry I never told you," Holly whispered softly while doing her best to control her emotions, but to no avail. "I know I should have, but I wasn't sure how…"

"It's okay, Holly."

"No, it's not. I should have told you, but I didn't want to believe it was true. I could have put us all at risk because of my selfishness and now I've lost everyone's trust."

"That's not true, Holly. It was… a shock to find out, but we'll make it through this. I'm not gonna desert you, okay?" Genki could feel Holly's body relax against his own and regardless of what had happened earlier, he would never abandon her again. "Do you trust me?"

"Genki, I …I trust you. What about the others, though? I mean, my father has ruined their lives! How can I ever face them again?" Holly felt fresh tears threaten to fall from her eyes, but she was quick to wipe them away with a piece of her cloak.

"It'll take some time, but they'll adjust. We were just nervous that… well… you would side with your father in the end. You still want to find the Phoenix, right?"

"I would never side with my father after all the horrible deeds he has done. I'm still determined to find the Phoenix. I'm worried that I'll become like him, though, or what if he comes looking for me?"

"I won't let that happen."

"But I could become a threat to you. I'm related to Moo! I'm a horrible evil creature!"

"No you're not! If you were evil then we wouldn't be having this conversation! You wouldn't feel bad about this if you were evil! And if you were truely evil, you would have killed me when you had the chance." Genki looked down at the trembling girl in his arms, a girl who was more frightened of herself than anything else. "You just have to trust yourself, and we'll trust you, too. You... We'll make it through this."

Holly felt a sudden rush of relief overcome her body and she hugged the boy who was still embracing her a little tighter. After a moment, she felt something cold pressed up against the palm of her hand and when she pulled away to look, she smiled at the sight of the Magic Stone. She didn't even realize she was smiling as the meaning behind his action flashed into her mind: acceptance. No matter what, she would still have Genki to turn to. Carefully, the young girl put the pendant back around her neck before she watched Genki stand up and extend his hand for her to take, which she did. Moo was her father and nothing could change that. It didn't mean she would lose everyone she held dear to her because regardless of her lineage, Holly was still the heart of their group. Even though it would take time to heal from the heart ache, they would overcome this obstacle eventually. As long as she had Genki by her side, nothing was impossible.


Sorry this ended up being so long and had a kind of sudden ending, but you can imagine after some time the group came to accept Holly was the same girl they had always known and being related to Moo wouldn't change that. The lame ass title is based off everyone giving Holly the cold shoulder after finding out her secret and, well, because the weather was cold. XD I wrote this after giving blood, so sorry for the errors and randomness! Last year was about Holly comforting Genki and this year it's reversed. I was always curious how the rebels came to terms with Holly's secret because it couldn't have been easy. I'm sorry, but if I found out my friend was really the child of the scariest person in the world, I would fear them for awhile. I know that sounds bad, but it's the truth. XD Thanks so much for reading and reviewing guys! :3

RockyRoadSmith: Signing off! :3