"It all happened when we went on that mission. For the assignment, Lord Death had called in Kami especially for her skills, and it was so important that he sent Spirit, myself, and Marie along with her. Your father was paired up with your mother, which already made things awkward enough. Our mission was to take out the bat witch, Mesa. She had been raising an army of special Kishin. They were so special because, not only did they eat human souls, they ate the souls of their fellow kishin for extra power. We were searching for her in the South American jungles..."

The trek through the jungle was, aside from the constant sounds of the native wildlife, rather quiet for the group of four. Marie and Spirit, wanting to be prepared for anything, had transformed into weapon mode and were being carried by their respective meisters. Kami took the lead, Stein being just a few steps behind her. As Spirit was being held over his ex-wife's shoulder, the silence between the four was rather awkward for him. His friends could see his nervousness and self-doubt from his reflection in the blade of the scythe. Finally, unable to take the silence, he attempted to speak.

"Um, so... Kami... How're things?" He could have slapped himself. After all this time, that was all he could think of to say? How brilliant.

"Fine," Kami responded shortly. When he tried to say something else, she stopped him before he could even begin. "Look Spirit, I know you want to try to speak, but can we please save it until the mission is over?"

"Y-yeah," he mumbled in response. He turned so his back was to Kami in the reflection, and Marie felt a bit of pity for the redhead.

"Poor guy," she whispered to Stein. "Kami seems so cold, I hope she doesn't treat him too badly. I know she's still mad at him, but he really is sorry." Stein made no verbal response, he only grunted. Suddenly, Spirit, having seen something from his position, shot up into a standing position within the scythe and called out.

"Guys! Watch out behind us!" Stein whipped around and pulled up Marie just in time to hit away something that had lunged at him. The blow was solid, sending the attacking creature a good ten feet away from them. It quickly recovered its' footing, though, and made another lunge as soon as it had a solid launch point. Kami intervened in the nick of time and sliced whatever it was cleanly in two pieces. The pieces separated, turned black, and faded to reveal the glowing red soul within.

"You alright, Franken?" Kami asked. Stein nodded, still annoyed at the use of his first name. "Good. Because whatever that thing was, I doubt it was messing around." She snatched up the kishin soul and pushed it into the side of the scythe blade. Spirit looked up as the red, glowing object entered the black domain within his weapon form. "Eat up, Spirit." The redhead obliged and quickly consumed the soul, storing it away for later. "Come on, if we've run into one of these guys, then the witch shouldn't be too far away." She closed her eyes and focused on the soul. Finally, she opened them and turned in a direction. "This way, follow me." Stein narrowed his eyes, but followed her.

"We found the witch's lair in a cave that was embedded in the side of a cliff. Kami led the way in, Spirit was still quiet. We didn't have far to go before we found who we were looking for."

"Well, looks like this is it." The two meisters stood at the entrance to the cave, weapons clutched tightly in their hands. "You ready to face the witch, Franken? Marie?" Stein nodded, and Marie gave an 'okay'. However, the white-haired meister noted how she pointedly didn't include Spirit in the question. His former weapon was unusually quiet, and it made him tense. "Well then, let's go in." Kami led the way in, and Stein followed not far behind. The walls were covered with some sort of phosphorous fungus, so the way was lit clearly enough. Eventually, the tunnel led to a large, cavernous area within the cave. It was fairly empty, save for numerous magical circles dug into the ground and symbols painted on the walls.

"Well, well, well. Look who's finally decided to show up." A thin figure made an appearance on a ledge a ways above them. She was clad all in black, and a large cloak covered most of her. A large hat with two rounded shapes like ears gave a further allusion to her bat symbol. "Don't look so surprised, meisters. I could hear you coming a mile away. And you've already killed one of my precious babies. Poor baby, he only wanted to play." Kami scowled and stepped up, just in front of one of the circles on the ground.

"You're going down, witch!" She yelled up. Mesa grinned with sharp teeth and held her arms out wide.

"Well now, if you feel that way, why don't I just let my babies play with you? They've been so bored for so long. Oh babies~." The magic circles around their feet glowed, and shapes rose up from them. They were twisted and fleshy, but their appendages were sharp as blades. They hunched over and hissed, staring hungrily at them. But all four knew that they weren't hungering for their flesh, but for their souls. "Time to play!" With a domino-like wave of roars, the forefront of the creatures charged. There were only ten in all, but they all looked menacing.

"Franken! You take the left four, I'll take the right. Whoever finishes first gets the witch," Kami said easily. She twirled Spirit in a circle to show off before grabbing him in a tight grip. "You'd better be ready, Spirit, because we're going."

"Right," her ex-husband barely managed to say before they took off. Kami spun and slashed left and right as she dove into her 'half' of the kishin. She was making good progress, but one managed to sneak up on her while her back was turned. Spirit spotted it and yelled out to warn her.

"Kami! Behind you!" The blond meister whipped around and brought Spirit up to block the blow. The claws struck the staff of the cross and sent her flying back. When the claws struck, Kami was surprised when she heard Spirit cry out in pain. Stein and Marie heard it as well, and Stein took a moment away from his own fight to see if he was alright.

"Spirit! Are you okay?! What happened?!" Kami caught a glimpse of Spirit in the scythe's reflection, and she was surprised to see him clutching his arm, which was dripping a bit of blood down it.

"I'm fine, just a scratch. Stein, Marie, be careful. There's something about these things that lets them cut people who are in weapon form." Just as he said this, another one of the kishin came up behind Stein and swung its claws sideways. Stein, catching the movement in his peripheral, jumped aside just in time and, rather than blocking, used the slight angle of Marie's hammer form to catch it by the wrist and used the momentum to toss it to the other side of the cavern. The thing hit the wall with a sickening crunch, but it got back up, though with a bit of a limp this time around. Stein took a moment to call out to Kami.

"Kami! Don't use Spirit to block their attacks, try to redirect them instead!" Kami nodded and turned just in time to shove the flat of Spirit's blade into the stomach of one of the creatures, and flipped it into the air where she dispatched it with a quick slice through the jutting ribcage. Behind her, Stein had just taken out one in a similar manner, though he had crushed its' head with Marie rather than sliced cleanly through it. They were down to the last three, but the witch Mesa didn't even seem fazed.

"Time to let out my big baby to play." She snapped her fingers, and the biggest pentagram flashed light. Kami turned, just in time to see a monsterous, hulking creature as big as four of the previous ones combined. It already had claws ready to swing down to slice her to pieces. Acting purely on instinct, no thought whatsoever, she swung Spirit up to block just as the claws came down. Inside the scythe, the redhead's eyes widened as he saw the steely talons coming towards him. Marie saw and tried to yell out to her.

"KAMI! DON'T!" It was too late. The claws made a solid hit, knocking Spirit cleanly from Kami's hands and hurling him across the room. The clash of metal was joined by a scream of pain as Spirit could feel the kishin slicing into his back inside the blackness of his weapon form. He instinctively changed back from weapon form as he hit the ground, making him roll in the dirt until he lost momentum. He finally stopped on his front, groaning and half curling up as the searing pain in his back ripped up and down his nervous system. Blood was seeping into his shirt and blazer from the wounds in his back and on his arm.

"Damn it, Kami! I told you to redirect!" Stein shouted as Kami dodged a second blow from the monster and leaped out of its reach.

"Stein!" Marie called out from inside her hammer form. "What happened to Spirit? Is he okay?!" Stein narrowed his eyes seriously.

"No, he's not. Not if we don't get him any medical attention." He reached into his pocket and tossed Kami a small white box. "I have some bandages, needles, and thread in there. Take care of Spirit's injuries, Marie and I will deal with the last of them." With no more said, he took Marie and ran off to take care of the last of the kishin. Kami seemed angry for some reason, but she still did as Stein said. Quickly, though not all too neatly, she pulled out the needle and thread and stitched up the gash in Spirit's back. For good measure, she propped up her ex-husband and tied a thin layer of gauze and bandages against him. When she set him back down, she glanced over her shoulder. Stein and Marie were going up against all three of the remaining kishin at once, including the extra powerful one that had injured Spirit.

"Ka... Kami." She looked down and saw Spirit reaching up to her weakly. It was obvious he was in great pain, but he managed to prop himself up on his elbow nonetheless. He was reaching for her hand, obviously wanting to hold it. She stared at it for a moment, then moved her hand. But instead of grabbing his hand, her grip went to his wrist. Spirit's eyes widened in confusion for a moment, but he soon felt her soul against his, and he could feel his body shifting and turning to metal. He grunted as a pain shot up his chest through his already-strained nerve lines. "Kami, no... I-I can't..." Kami gripped his wrist and looked him straight in the eye.

"Spirit, look at that." She pointed at Stein and Marie, who were holding their own, though just barely, against the remaining three kishin. "Marie and Franken are both fighting their fullest because they think you're out of commission. Are you just going to let them fight on their own?" Spirit looked away from her eyes and down at the ground. "Come on Spirit! If you can't or won't do it for me, then at least do it for them!" Spirit closed his eyes tightly, and Kami smiled when he went full scythe mode. She gripped the staff part tightly and swung him around once for good measure. "That's it! Come on, let's get that witch!" Inside the reflection, Spirit was grimacing with pain, but he still looked as determined as his ex wife.

"Right, let's go. After the witch. We take her out, the kishin should go with her. Now let's go!" Kami leaped up the rock ledges one by one until they reached Mesa's ledge. The witch looked shocked that they were up there.

"Wha?! How did you-" She never got to finish, as Kami immediately swung Spirit directly at her. With a yelp, Mesa jumped back and off her ledge. She didn't fall very far, though, as a cloud of bats swooped in and stopped her descent. The black swarm carried her up to the cavern's ceiling, and Kami looked down at Spirit.

"She's getting too far out of reach. We're going to have to use witch hunter if we even want to hope of stopping her. Spirit grunted, but then grimaced with a strained look on his face.

"Kami, I don't know if I can. It's taking most of my concentration to keep in weapon form. If we try a soul resonance, then I might-"

"If you can't do something simple like this, then why did I even bother making you into a Death Scythe!?" Kami yelled brutally. "Now are you going to do this, or will you make yourself as useless to me as you are to our daughter?!" Spirit jerked as if he had been struck, eyes wide that she could have said something like that. However, he looked down to the darkness of the area at his feet, his long bangs hung over his eyes and didn't let Kami read his expression. Her face softened, and she bit her lip, realizing the volume of what she had just said to him. "Spirit, I..."

"...Let's do it, Kami." Kami smiled, and touched her forehead to the cross portion of Spirit's staff.

"Thank you Spirit... And... I'm sorry." Regaining her determined expression, Kami twirled Spirit expertly before gripping him tightly. They shouted out in unison, catching Stein's attention just as he was about to go after the biggest Kishin.

"LET'S GO! SOUL RESONANCE!" Spirit took hold of Kami's wavelength and held it, giving it strength and a form to go along with it. He channeled Kami's wavelength through him, magnifying it to exponential rates. Stein could see what was happening, and tried to call out to them.

"Kami! Don't! Spirit won't be able to handle the strain from a soul resonance!" But it was too late. The double edged scythe of energy covered the blade of Spirit's normal scythe mode, and his eyes were narrowed in concentration as Kami shouted out.

"WITCH HUNTER!" She swung Spirit with great precision, and the energy went right for Mesa. The bat witch's eyes widened, and she tried desperately to move her bat cloud out of its' path.

"No!" She cried out. "No no no no no!" It was too late for her, though. The witch hunter tore through her, slicing cleanly through her abdomen. The witch's body collapsed and left nothing behind but a purple soul. Kami cried out with joy as the soul floated gently to ground level where Stein and Marie were.

"Yeah! We did it! Nice job, Spirit!" She cheered. She looked into Spirit's reflection, and saw him with a hand over his chest. Blood had started to leak through his bandages, and he was breathing heavily. "Hey, are you okay? You don't look so hot."

"What are you talking about? I'm always hot," he joked weakly. He tried to look up at her with a reassuring smile, but it quickly disappeared and was replaced by a look of fear. "Kami! Watch out!" Kami turned only just in time to see the largest Kishin behind her. In the confusion, it had escaped from Stein and had gone to them. It must have realized how vulnerable they would be after an attack like that.

It all happened so fast. Kami could only stare as ready claws swiped towards her, intent on ripping her soul from her flesh. A flash of white light, a glimpse of red hair, and then all she could see was blood. Spirit's eyes were wide as he went flying over Kami's head. He struck the wall with a sickening thud, then sunk down limply. The Kishin advanced on Kami, who was prepared to fight back with all her might. Then, suddenly, it was gone. Stein had snuck up behind the Kishin and rammed it in the back of its' head, with Marie going straight through it. The creature could only stand there in shock as it collapsed in on itself, leaving behind its glowing, red soul. Kami was breathing heavily, but she looked over her shoulder at Spirit.

"Franken, we need to help Spirit. He's really hurt and-" Stein ignored her and walked right past her without saying a word. He released his grip on Marie, and the blond woman only followed him over to where Spirit was lying. Stein knelt down next to Spirit and narrowed his eyes at the injury. It was a deep gash across his chest, and his suit was being soaked with blood. He quickly removed some bandages from his labcoat pocket and wasted no time in wrapping him up.

"Urrgh, Stein?" Stein's head shot up as Spirit whispered weakly. Spirit's blue eyes were a bit glassy, he only had them open a bit, but that was enough for Marie to sigh with relief.

"Spirit! You're okay!" She knelt beside Stein and reached forward for him. "Don't worry, Stein is going to patch you up here, and then we're going to take you back to the Academy and get you some proper medical attention. You're going to be just-" she was going to say fine, but stopped when she had tried to lift Spirit's head up a bit. Her eye widened, and she looked over to Stein. "Stein..." She still propped Spirit up with one hand, but she showed the other hand, the one that had been against the back of Spirit's head, to Stein. It was covered in blood. Stein grimaced and looked down to Spirit's face. His former weapon was starting to close his eyes, and his head was starting to lean to one side. With hurried movements, he took hold of his labcoat and tore a piece off at the places where the stitches held it together. He spoke completely without emotion, not an edge in his voice as he wrapped the white cloth around Spirit's head.

"Spirit, I need you to listen to me. I need you to stay awake for me right now. You're going to want to fall asleep, but no matter what happened, you can't. Do you understand?" When he received no answer, he gave the redhead a little shake. "Spirit, answer me. Say something. Anything."

"Mmm... Maka..." Stein let himself release a little breath as his former partner spoke that one word.

"Good. Now, I'm going to carry you out of here, and get you properly set up." When Kami tried to say something, he only glared at her coldly. "Kami," he said with an edge of ice in his voice, "you stay here with Marie and collect the souls. I think you've done enough damage for today." Kami's face fell, but she nodded. Stein hurriedly left the cave, carrying Spirit on his back. When he heard nothing from his partner for a few minutes, he began to worry on some level. But the worry relieved when Spirit spoke again.

"Stein..." Spirit whispered, "... is Kami okay? Did she get hurt?" Stein scowled and bit his tongue, holding back all of the things he could have said. However, he opted to go with the one that would least upset his injured former partner.

"Yes, she's fine. Thanks to you." Spirit let out a satisfied sound, and Stein could feel him relax.

Maka had her eyes trained directly on Stein the whole time he told his story. She looked away only a few times, and those times she did she was looking at her father. Stein sighed and took off his glasses so he could rub his eyes.

"We managed to get him back in time before his wounds became life-threatening. Trust me, he looks a lot worse than he actually is." Maka still stared at him, still intent on something.

"But, professor... I don't understand. Why would my mom-" she stopped mid-sentence when the door clicked open as someone turned the handle. When it opened, Kami was standing there in the doorway. The meister froze when she saw Maka and company standing around Spirit. For a minute, there was silence, nothing but Spirit's oxygen machine was making a sound. Finally, though, Kami took a step inwards.

"Maka..." she said softly. The other adults in the room caught on to the mood, and they quickly made their exit, dragging Crona and Soul with them. The only ones left were Maka, Kami, and the silent Spirit. "Maka, sweetie-" Kami started.

"Why Mama?" Maka's fists shook as her voice trembled. "Why did you do that to Papa?" Kami looked down, shame in the creases of her features. Tears began to leak out of Maka's eyes as she spoke to her mother. "Why did you let Papa get hurt like that, Mama? Why didn't you do anything?" Kami tried to go to Maka, arms open for a hug, but Maka stepped back until she was bumping against Spirit's bed.

"Maka... I was being stupid. I was so caught up in the fight, I wasn't thinking-"

"You weren't thinking that Papa could die?! Is that it?! I always hated Papa for cheating on you, but I never wanted him to die!" Maka wiped away the tears with her right hand, shoulders shaking. "I love you... you and Papa. Why... Why..." Kami tactfully didn't say anything and let Maka vent and cry. Then, as Maka cried, she felt a hand enclose her own. She turned, startled, and her face broke out in a smile when she saw who it was. "Papa!" Spirit winced and let out a grunt as Maka glomped him and buried her face in his chest. "Papa! I'm so glad you're alright!"

"Grmph... of course. Your papa is tough. Something like this is nothing. Heh.. heh..." Maka could feel him wincing as he feebly attempted to laugh. But she didn't care, she was able to hold him.

"Oh, Papa," Maka whispered. Spirit moved his head as he felt something wet drip onto his cheek.

"Hey now, no need to cry, sweetie. Papa's not going anywhere, not as long as you don't want me to." He glanced up, and his smile didn't falter a bit, even when he laid eyes on Kami.

"Hey there Kami... You okay? You didn't get hurt, right." Kami looked frozen, she was just staring at him with wide eyes. "I thought I remembered Stein told me that you weren't, but you know him. You could have your chest cut open and he's just call it-" he never got to say what Stein would call it, as Kami joined her daughter in hugging him. Her arms wrapped around both her ex husband and her daughter.

"I'm so sorry Spirit. I don't know what I was thinking. I just... I wasn't..." Spirit smiled gently, though he knew they couldn't see it.

"Hey.. it's okay. You don't need to apologize. You were just trying to help Marie and Stein, you're not at fault. I love you and Maka, and I'd do anything to protect you both... Even give up my life. No matter what, I'll always be there to protect you both." Maka sobbed and buried her face into her father's chest again, making him wince. But he quickly composed himself once more.

He just kept smiling for his family.