I've been dying ever since I saw Epic a second time to write an Epic fanfic! :D Especially a NodxM.K. one. ;3 This should just be a two-shot.

Disclaimer: I do not own Epic nor any of its characters, etc, etc. Enjoy!

The slow, high-pitched sound that blasted out of the tiny speakers rattled M.K's brain. She quickly covered them with her hands, looking up at the black mass blocking the full moon and its light. To her father, the reaction must have seemed to have taken mere seconds, but to M.K it felt like eons. Desperation marred her face and clung to her body; her plan was the only way she knew to help. She had seen the odds of the Leafmen against the Boggans, how the swarm of bats and Boggans rose above the small cloud of hummingbirds and threatened to swallow them whole.

Finally, the bats were driving down, straight at her father. He stumbled a bit, then began running back into the forest, swatting bats away and exclaiming something about bats flying into his hair. M.K let out the breath she didn't know she was holding and took the reins in her hands once more. Turning her borrowed hummingbird, the teen faced Moonhaven and noticed the small glow that was growing as the moon's light bathed the pod generously.

'I've gotta hurry. Queen Tara said to be with the pod when it bloomed.'

Nudging her flying steed encouragingly, M.K narrowed her eyes, hands ready to steer the hummingbird around the bats that still followed her father into the forest. Even though she was no expert on flying, M.K had picked up some of Nod's daredevil tricks. Two bats rushed towards her head on, screeching loudly as their Boggan riders fought to turn them around. Smirking, M.K twisted the reins and brought the bird into a sharp dip and then into a barrel role in order to avoid more bats.

'Not too bad for a Stomper huh?' She thought with a smirk. Oh God how she wished Nod were there to see her.

Just then, as the bats began to thin out and M.K was about to fly over the water, something flew at her, barely visible, and struck her in the abdomen.

At first the pain didn't surface. Then the teen began to notice a couple things had gone completely wrong. Why were the reins no longer in her hands? Why was she suddenly facing towards the moon? Why was her hummingbird flying ahead without her?

Then, a few slow moments before she hit the ground, sharp, piercing pain burst from her abdomen. That's when she realized.

Seeing Ronin, albeit beaten, bruised, and completely exhausted, was like his father returning from that fateful battle so many years ago, except instead of being a body covered in a silk sheet, he was alive.

Nod shook his head and watched as Mandrake held down his father. No. It wasn't his father. It was Ronin. He watched as Mandrake raised his rotten staff, the end hissing and steaming eagerly, impatient to claim another Leafman. That was when Nod realized he had been running the whole time. He had never stopped running ever since he fell from the sky, his mission to protect the pod at all cost. Seeing Ronin, seemingly defeated, looked wrong, terribly wrong, and it made Nod sick.

'No. Not again.' He thought defiantly, 'This time I can do something. I won't lose another father!'

Just as Mandrake brought down his staff, Nod unsheathed his blade and halted the rot-infested weapon. Shock and utter irritation dominated Mandrake's face, angry that someone had yet again stopped him from destroying his nemesis.

A smirk spread across Nod's face, his eyes gleaming as he faced the King of Rot. "No one is alone." He shrugged toward Ronin, "Not even him."

Getting up, Ronin raised his blade and crossed it with Nod's, pushing Mandrake backwards and away from the blooming pod. With a snarl, Mandrake lunged and swung his staff down on the two Leafmen, only to be stopped again by the crossed swords. Slowly, Ronin and Nod began physically pushing Mandrake back towards the entrance, the large Boggan pushing against them with all his strength, but to no avail. Behind the duo, the other Leafmen who had been brushed aside by Mandrake formed a defensive line, shields in front and swords at the ready.

Mandrake looked over the two shorter Leafmen and watched with despair as the pod bloomed in a bright burst of light. A wave of light sped towards him, pushing, then pulling him away. Clawing at the air angrily, Mandrake let out a shout of protest before he was smacked into a black goo. It was sticky like honey and pulled him into the tree branch. The king of the Boggans disappeared as a large knot closed over the hole permanently.

Nod and Ronin lowered their swords and exchanged tired smiles. Nim Galuu appeared, followed by a large crowd of Jinn of all kinds. The other Leafmen lowered their shields and circled the pod from a distance, their backs only a space away from the growing crowd. Mub and Grub pushed their way through the crowd and joined the bruised duo.

They walked closer, and all the while Nod searched the crowd, looking for the familiar red ponytail and bright green eyes that made him warm inside. The shimmering gold magic that rose from the pod caught his attention. A hush befell the crowd as everyone watched in anticipation for their new Queen. Nod wished M.K were there to see it, forgetting about the rule for the girl to return home.

The gold magic flew gracefully above the crowd swooping down gently to wrap around Ronin's neck briefly. The usually stoic and determined general relaxed, for just a moment, and relished in the feel of Tara's presence one last time. Nod wondered if it had whispered something in the old badger's ear, but if it had Ronin didn't show it. The magic rose once more and circled the crowd, searching for its chosen heir. Finally, Tara's magic swirled around a young flower girl Jinn, her eyes nearly popping out of her head as the image of Tara appeared beside her.

The former Queen smiled as she faced the young girl, her chosen heir. "Take care of them for me," she said.

Tara turned to face Ronin, who had the most heartbreaking, but also heartwarming smile on his face. A smile of pure love and happiness at having the chance to see his beloved one last time. Nod had never seen that look on his second-father's face before, but it made him smile.

"There's that smile," Tara whispered.

The flower girl closed her eyes as Tara kissed her forehead and her magic engulfed her heir in bright light. When the light disappeared, the new Queen wore a pure white petal dress, her head petals now pure white as well. Everyone kneeled to their new Queen as her eyes were wide with amazement and her face had a look that read, 'oh-my-gosh-this-is-so-cool!' After everyone rose and began to congratulate the Queen and her mother and Nim Galuu announced a celebration at his tree, Ronin and Nod sat and leaned against the pod pedestal.

"Hey, you don't look so good," Nod joked, taking in the many bruises and scars that covered his second-father.

Ronin smirked. "Really? I learned it from you," he threw back. They both chuckled and sat in a comfortable silence, finally resting after all they had been through.

While Ronin closed his eyes for a moment, Nod continued to sweep his brown eyes across the crowd, but still he did not see M.K. Worry crept up his spine and chilled him, his mind desperately wanting to know what had happened to his favorite Stomper. Glancing over at Mub and Grub, who were telling the tale of how they 'single-handedly saved the forest,' Nod concluded she was not in the room.

"Something troubling you?" Nod met Ronin's questioning gaze.

"It's M.K, I haven't seen her yet. She should have been here by now."

Realization sparkled in Ronin's eyes as he stood and swept the crowd, suddenly noticing that the young Stomper was missing. Nod stood behind him, worry plain across his face. "C'mon, let's go find her."

The Leafman General could see the pain and mental torture his friend's son was feeling. He had noticed Nod and M.K seemed to have grown close, but now it was perfectly clear, at least from Nod's side. Ronin's heart clenched, remembering that exact feeling when he had watched Tara falling from his bird, arrow in her stomach, reaching for him desperately.

Ronin placed a hand on the younger Leafman's shoulder. "Hey, we will find her and she will be okay," he assured. "She's a tough girl and wouldn't go down without a fight."

Nod held Ronin's gaze, determination twinkling in his eyes, before he nodded in agreement. As the Leafman General took the lead, Nod allowed hope to fill a part of his heart.

'She has to be okay. She just has to be...'

Everything had become oddly muffled and silent. Her vision had become blurry too, she realized, as the full moon sharpened and blurred again. She squinted, but that didn't help at all. She wanted to move her arms, her legs, but it was difficult, as if there were bricks tied to each of her limbs. She then tried to remember how she had ended up on the cold, damp ground in the first place. She remembered a lot of bats, flying, and then looking up at the moon, as she had been doing for quite a long time now.

M.K began to slowly notice how cold she felt, despite her wearing a hoodie. In fact, the air felt cold too, as if winter had hit, but even in the darkness she could tell the leaves were a bright and healthy green, and firmly latched onto their respective branches.

'Maybe this is one of those weird dreams where nothing makes sense?' She thought.

Suddenly, a ring of bright light streaked across the sky, pulling a dark, bulking figure and slamming it into a tree before disappearing.

M.K blinked a few times and stared at the spot where the figure had disappeared. Her blurring vision wasn't helping, which frustrated the teen greatly. Then something flickered into her mind, the image of Mandrake reaching for her back in the Boggan wasteland. The name floated around her head before she connected it with the figure in the tree. That meant the Leafmen had won, the forest was safe at last!

A smile played on the teen's lips, her heart feeling light and happy. Then that feeling ebbed and was replaced with the sense that something was wrong. Why couldn't she move her arms? Why was her vision blurry? Finally, why had she not tried to sit up?

'Nothing is wrong. I'm perfectly fine.' She told herself. M.K struggled to force her arms to bend at the elbows, propping herself up to look over her body at the water's edge and the beautiful glade that was Moonhaven.

But there was something in the way. It was thin and dark, a little splayed at the end, and standing vertical and very close to her. As her vision continued to change focus, she shook her head and it became clear. A choked gasp escaped her lips and she froze, staring at the object with absolute horror. She knew what it was, because she had seen it up close on Queen Tara, but the truth was too much. Her vision began to darken, her head swaying, and the last thing she saw before she passed out was the small dark spot on her stomach.

Nod and Ronin circled above Moonhaven on their loyal hummingbirds, scanning the glade for any sign of their Stomper friend. Ronin suggested flying lower, in case she was walking through the tall grass. They flew lower and circled again, the hope in Nod's heart fighting to stay alive.

'She's fine. She just...got lost is all.' Nod shook his head as he tried to think of any reason why M.K had not been at the pod's blooming.

He tugged gently on the reins, stopping for a moment as he hovered above the shimmering water. Nod closed his eyes and took a few calming breaths, thinking of all the techniques he'd used after his father died.

'But she's not dead,' he reminded himself.

Opening his eyes again, Nod began searching closer to the water's edge, his mind wandering to those precious moments he had spent riding a deer with M.K. It had been so magical, the setting sun filtering through the forest canopy had created a golden glow. Dandelions floated past, disturbed by the passing deer. M.K had snatched one and explained to him how in the Stomper world, they would pick dandelions and blow the white tufts off and make a wish. He remembered laughing and she sticking her tongue out childishly. He'd then suggested they hold the seed attached to the tuft and make a wish together.

At first, the Stomper girl had looked at him skeptically, but then she got a weird look in her eyes and agreed. They promised not to tell anyone what they wished for, until it came true. When they opened their eyes and released the tuft, Nod had caught her as she followed the dandelion floating away. The golden light seemed to set her hair aflame, making her skin glow and her eyes bright and twinkling. Her lashes made her eyes even more beautiful, and the smile on her face set his heart racing. He realized at that moment he wanted her to look at him like that. He wanted to take her in his arms and simply hold her close to him. He wanted to bury his nose in her hair and breathe in the scent of flowers and leaves. M.K had began to turn and her lips became a soft golden pink, completing the look of pure perfection. Right then, all he wanted was to kiss her. To feel her gentle lips on his and to feel the love exchanged between that one kiss.

Ronin's call abruptly interrupted Nod's peaceful memory. "Nod! Over here!"

Heart pounding, the younger Leafman steered his bird towards the silver-haired General. "Have you found her?" He asked hurriedly.

Ronin's jaw set, but his eyes held no anger, instead it was something Nod couldn't place. He nodded, "Follow me."

Silence reigned, other than the usually calming hum of their bird's wings. Nod flew behind the older Leafman, noticing how close to the tree where Mandrake was trapped they were getting. Ronin stopped beneath said tree and didn't meet Nod's gaze, but rather began to land his bird. Nod followed suit, eyes searching but still no sign of M.K. Before the brunette could ask, Ronin motioned for Nod to follow, his eyes sad and tired.

They walked through tall blades of grass for only a minute before the two Leafmen entered a tiny clearing in view of Moonhaven and the water surrounding it. Nod froze in his tracks, the sight before him nearly stopping his heart and almost crushing his soul. He looked to Ronin, who had somehow failed to keep the twin tears from escaping his eyes.

'Queen Tara...' Nod realized.

He looked at the Stomper girl lying on the ground before him, his eyes wide with complete shock and horror. Her eyes were closed, and her bright hair seemed dull and flat in the darkness. Nod forced himself not to look away from the Boggan arrow buried in her abdomen. With tears brimming, the younger Leafman approached the girl and fell to his knees beside her. Leaning forward, he cupped his hands on both sides of her face and simply stared at her closed eyes.

"Wake up...please," he sobbed. "M.K wake up! Please open your eyes! Look at me!"

Ronin felt as if he might crumble to pieces, no matter how strong his resolve. The scene before him reminded him painfully of Tara's death, the aching pain in his heart returning and threatening to break him. He closed his eyes and remembered what Tara had whispered to him before she had chosen the new Queen.

"M.K..." Nod continued to sob as he pulled the girl closer and held her, just as he had wanted earlier that day. Except this wasn't how Nod wanted it. He wanted to see her smile and her beautiful green eyes.

As he cradled her close, tears still flowing, Nod noticed something on his neck. He held his breath and waited, and it wasn't long before he felt it again. It was soft and warm, like the ghost of a kiss. Then he recognized it.

"Ronin! She's breathing!"

The older Leafman opened his eyes and rushed over, hovering his hand over the girl's mouth. A small puff of warm air hit his hand; a sign of life. He quickly stood and instructed Nod to take M.K's body and follow him. The younger Leafman nodded and gently scooped the Stomper's body into his arms and mounted his bird. Nod kept M.K's body in front of his and wrapped one arm around her waist, the other gripping the reins tightly.

"This way," Ronin called, leading the way. "The Queen should be able to help her."

As they flew, Nod whispered nonsense into M.K's ear, hoping she might wake up. She continued to breathe, but didn't open her eyes.

The new Queen stood with her mother in her throne room, a map spread across a clover table, and two Leafmen pointing out key locations. The Queen listened intently, reminding herself that she had to pay attention because she was the Queen now, which meant she had Queenly duties. The first Leafman, Finn, was pointing out points in the forest where security would be increased. Merida wanted to be a good Queen, but listening to locations and military stuff got boring after awhile, so she hoped her mother was remembering everything. She wanted to use her magic, she wanted to help someone or at least do something cool with her magic.

Suddenly, Ronin and Nod burst through the entrance, the younger Leafman carrying an injured M.K.

"Your Majesty, our friend M.K has been injured by a Boggan arrow. She needs your healing abilities, quickly," Ronin announced.

The General's gaze caught Finn's, who's expression held a whole conversation. The last time a Leafman had been hit by a Boggan arrow...Ronin looked at Nod and hoped that fate did not await M.K.

Nod looked at the young queen imploringly, his whole face a torrent of emotions. "Please...help her."

Queen Merida seemed shocked for a moment, but when she saw Nod's face and M.K's condition, she mustered a more mature face. With her mother close behind, the young Queen instructed Nod to set the girl's body down gently. He obeyed and sat on his knees on M.K's opposite side, holding her hand gently in his. As the Queen examined the wound around the arrow, Finn made his way over to Ronin and whispered in his ear.

"You know what comes first. We have to-" Ronin cut his friend off, his jaw clenched.

"I know what we have to do. I just...It's Nod who hasn't seen that. He..." Ronin paused and rubbed his forehead tiredly. "He isn't going to take it well. Neither is the Queen."

Finn nodded in agreement, but they both knew no matter what, the arrow had to come out.

Finn moved over to the Queen's mother and whispered what was going to happen. She paled and whispered the same words to her daughter. The young Queen looked almost frightened, but again composed herself and nodded in understanding. Ronin knelt beside Nod, placed a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder, and whispered what needed to be done.

"WHAT?!" Nod exclaimed, utter shock on his face.

Ronin's grip on the younger Leafman's shoulder tightened. "Listen to me Nod, in order for M.K to heal we have to remove the arrow. We need to do it now before the rot spreads any further into her body. Do you understand?"

The brunette looked at his beloved and turned back to Ronin, pitiful yet determined eyes gleaming. "Yes, I understand. I'll...I'll hold her down."

Those words were difficult to say, it made him feel evil, as if he were about to do something sick, when all he was doing was helping the Stomper he'd fallen in love with. Nod shook the troubling thoughts away and gently lifted M.K's head onto his lap, hands positioned on her shoulders. Finn herded the Queen and her mother out of the room and instructed them to cover their ears. When he returned, he took his place at M.K's legs, prepared to hold them down if she began to kick.

Ronin knelt by the Stomper girl's body, glancing at Nod, who didn't meet his gaze. Taking a deep breath, the Leafman General gripped the arrow shaft tightly and pulled.

Did you like it? Please let me know! 3 I've had this idea bouncing around in my head for quite awhile now, so I'm glad I can finally publish it! :D

Please let me know of any grammatical errors and such so that I can fix them. ^-^