AN: I don't own the Ronin Warriors and have no clue if Kento's siblings are a product of someone's imagination or if they are canon, but I'm claiming them. This is set about a year after Message. Kento is 19 in this story.


Kento's mind was racing as he went through the motions of his usual three-hour workout. He'd gotten up at five o'clock as usual and, after a few stretches, had gone on his usual hour long run; but instead of doing his weights and cardio workout like he usually did on this day of the week-a Tuesday-he skipped it and did the Tai Chi exercises that he usually did at night as a relaxant. Normally this would help him calm down, but today it was useless. No matter what he did, he couldn't seem to push the sorrow away. Instead of feeling his body relax and and his mind still, he felt his muscles get more and more tense as his thoughts spun wildly out of control.

How could this happen? How could over half his family be gone in one day? Had it all really happened just a mere three days ago? He'd known something bad was going to happen! Those dreams! Now he understood! The fire, the burning, the water, the screams, the sensation of burning and drowning at the same time, and the horrible smell of burning jet fuel and hot, twisted metal, and that...other...smell...Kento shook his head furiously in an effort to dispel that train of thought. He didn't want to figure out what that smell was, though deep down he knew. Instead, he attempted to focus on his form and the fluid change from one form to another; after a few minutes he was surprised to see that he'd gradually switched from Tai Chi to Kung Fu. Well, that was just as well. His grandfather had taught him Kung Fu and now the old man was gone as well.

How could something so simple as miscalculating the weight of the plane against how much fuel was needed to make the routine flight from Hong Kong to Okinawa completely destroy his family? How could twenty three members of his family-his grandfather, his father and mother, all but one of his uncles, four of his aunts, and all ten of his older cousins all be gone in less than twenty minutes? It'd taken about that long for the engines to stall from lack of fuel and cause the plane to fall out of they sky from 30,000 ft and crash into the ocean just 20 miles off the coast of Japan. Out of the 314 passengers on that flight, only five were recovered and none of them had been alive or even in one piece. None of them had been one of his family members.

Kento used the palm of his hand to wipe away a tear that was trickling down his cheek. It'd been hard breaking the news to his siblings, especially eight year-old Chunhua. Surprisingly enough, though, it was Chunhua who'd handled it the best; 11 year-old Mingyu, however...Kento shook his head sadly and took his t-shirt off as he walked over to the punching bag. He dropped his shirt carelessly on the floor before wrapping his hands in bandages. His youngest brother had screamed at him, saying that Kento was lying. When Kento had said that, no, it was true, that Mom and Dad were not coming back, the boy had balled his fist up, pulled it back, and nailed his eldest brother in the jaw before running to his room and slamming the door. Kento could've blocked the hit, but hadn't had the energy to do so. Frankly, he'd wanted to hit something too when he'd found out and couldn't fault the kid for taking a swing at the bearer of bad news. Kento was just glad that it's been him breaking the news rather then someone else, like a police officer. 14 year-old Yun had been dead silent at the news. He'd seemed frozen in place for a few minutes while Kento had been explaining what had happened. Kento had been so focused on Mingyu that he didn't immediately notice when the eldest of his younger brothers slipped off his chair and hit the floor in a dead faint. Apparently Yun had been so shocked at the news that he said he'd actually forgotten to breathe. What had finally made Kento notice was when 16 year-old Qi Lin started screaming hysterically at their brother to wake up, tears streaming down her face. Through it all, Chunhua had just stared at Kento for a few moments before calmly getting up from her seat, going to the bathroom, and retrieving a box of kleenex, some smelling salts, and an ice pack for her eldest brother's jaw.

As Kento began to obliterate the punching bag, he wondered if Chunhua's reaction was really the best out of all of them; at least the others had showed emotion, Chunhua just continued with her usual schedule and made no deviations from it. Out of all the siblings, Chunhua was the only one who had insisted on continuing to go to school and going to her gymnastics class. Kento wondered if Chunhua thought that by keeping things as close to normal as possible that things would actually return to normal. He supposed that that was her way of coping, but he wasn't sure. He wasn't sure about anything anymore. He wasn't even sure if HE could cope with what had happened! In a period of 24 hours he'd been named, according to his parents' will, the legal guardian of all four of his siblings, and because his grandfather, father, and uncles were all dead, he'd also been named the owner of all six of the Xiu Family Restaurants. He was now the CEO of a chain of restaurants.

Kento tried to push all of those thoughts out of his mind and only focus on the rhythm of his punches but, like with everything else, it wasn't working. He kept at it for about fifteen minutes before disgustedly turning away. He glanced up at the gym clock. It read 6:45. This wasn't working. He unwrapped his hands and sat down heavily on the bench press, dropping the bandages on the floor. All emotions he'd been holding back for the past three days surged forth all at once. For the next thirty minutes Kento just sat in his gym and cried. In his grief and anger at this turn of events, he wasn't aware that he was being watched.

Sage gazed at his friend sadly. He couldn't begin to imagine what Kento was going through right now. Sure, the deaths of Mama and Papa Xiu had hit Sage and the others (especially Rowen and Ryo) pretty hard, but there was no comparing their grief to Kento's. None of them had just lost 3/4 of their family, become the legal guardian of four kids, or suddenly become the CEO of an entire company in the span of three days. This was a lot of pressure and responsibility for a 19 year-old boy to have placed on him all at once. Sage wanted to go comfort his friend but had no clue what to say. He desperately wished that Cye were here instead of visiting relatives in England. Cye was great when it came to talking about how you were feeling; he had a way of calming people and getting to the root of the problem. Sage was pretty inept when it came to discussing one's feelings or comforting someone. Yayoi, his older sister, would've said that he was 'emotionally constipated'. Sage would have to say that was an accurate description.

Sage watched Kento for a few minutes. He wanted to say something, but what could he possibly say? 'I'm sorry' didn't sound right, and neither did the usual 'It'll be okay' or 'They're in a better place now'. They all sounded like the empty platitudes they were, having no real meaning to them except as some half-assed attempt to sound wise, concerned, and comforting. Sage was pretty sure Kento had had enough of that crap to last a life time.

Sage was still watching Kento, helplessly wondering what to do next, when the Hardrock bearer suddenly shot up from the bench press and quickly looked over to where he was standing, rapidly wiping away tears. Both boys just stared at each other wordlessly. The expression on Kento's face turned from surprised embarrassment at being caught in a weak moment, to a kind of puzzled shyness, as if he wasn't sure what to do next, which in turn gave way to a look of such pleading sadness that Sage completely forgot about all of his misgivings as he ran to embrace his friend.

It wasn't right to see that expression on Kento's face! It didn't belong there and Sage wanted to make it disappear! He may not be Cye, but he'd do his best! Anything to get his happy-go-lucky friend back! Sage wrapped his arms around the bigger boy's bare shoulders and was a little surprised when the Hardrock bearer immediately dissolved into tears again and leaned into him. Sage slowly allowed the two of them to sink to the floor. He rocked his usually so strong friend back and forth and murmured reassuringly, though if either were asked what was said, neither would've had a clue. Kento just buried his face in his friend's shirt and allowed the other to comfort him. He knew that this would be one of those awkward moments that neither would acknowledge or speak about without feeling and acute sense of embarrassment, but at the moment it felt nice just to let it all out.

Not a word passed between them, but when Kento regained his composure and attempted to pull away in embarrassment, Sage let him and stood up, offering his friend a hand. Kento gratefully took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. He was startled when Sage then leaned forward and used the edge of his sleeve to dry his friend's face. Again both boys just stared at each other. Kento blinked at the swordsman, unsure of what to say. He opened his mouth but Sage simply shook his head. Kento gave his friend a tentative smile and a nod. What did you say in a situation like this? Absolutely nothing.

Fin.