It was dark out. Of course, it was night. Fue-chan’s eyes wandered over the dark trees, rising high in the dark, the snow covered branches glistening in the moonlight. She tilted her head a little to see if she could see the moon, but the trees blocked her view.
She didn’t even look to the room behind her. Why bother? She knew what what was in it. Nothing. Seibrum, Jaydrian gone, Zei, Gabriel, Kirei and Katana in their rooms, Harlequin in Ruu’s room, Inova and Arkerial always gone. A sigh escaped her lips. It was so quiet in here...
Silently, Fue-chan turned away from the window, now gazing around, taking in all her thoughts. There was a heavy, unspoken loneliness, a feeling of failure, a deep depression setting in. The hatred for her self-pity, for her selfishness in everything, a saddness and anger for those lost.. Bleak eyes stared across the room. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. The only things they were surrounded in were saddness, anxiety, pain, didn’t seem right. Even the happy events like a birth or a marriage were pushed aside or overshadowed by a death or a rape. As her shoulders sank, Fue-chan found herself thinking more and more that the problems were stagnent, like a thick pool of quicksand in which they all sunk into further and further. Everytime they were offered a hand to get pulled out, the waters and sand pulled them farther in, leaving them with no hope, no belief of escape. I’m trapped in this world, she realized. Sadly, she wondered if she’d lost her faith somewhere along the way. Do I still really believe that humans are overall good? That no one is really evil? Shuddering, it was so hard....Murder in cold blood, ruthless rape, shouting and fighting all never stops. She felt her head hurt. Closing her eyes, Fue-chan thought, I really can’t take this... No wonder Seibrum left. A tear slipped from her eye and she tried to swallow the others that would soon follow, her hand going up to cover her heart, resting on the silky, irredescent material of her robe. My heart can’t take it.... she let out a soft sob, making a fist with her other hand and slamming it into the wall. A quick cry of pain was the reaction, and she opened her eyes, cheeks tear stained, shaking out her aching hand. But....there was relief in it. The hatred for herself rushed to the pain, found it home, found it right. Staring at her hand, red and possibly to be bruised, Fue-chan swallowed. Her thoughts flashed back to the bathroom of the school, leaning against the cool metal of the door, sobbing and trying her hardest to stop. She recalled her thoughts, /”Stop it! Stop crying!!”/ and she’d ripped at her hair, threatened to yank it out unless she stopped crying. But she deserved it. Scornfully, she remembered how her tears had made it out before she could, and Macy and Jadrian worriedly watching her as she tried to get out of the room, tears running down her face, asking her what was wrong. Crying in front of all of them. Gritting her teeth, she hated herself. She hated her self pity. Her decisions. Her selfishness. Looking around hasitly, seeking to quench the feeling balling up in her stomach, she found a vase, filled with fake flowers. Removing the flowers and setting them aside, she grasped the vase by the rim and swung it to smash into the wall, shattering the ceramic into thousands of pieces. Dropping the jagged rim, she knelt to pick up a long, sharp piece. Gazing at it, she almost seemed curious as she held out one arm and drew the sharp edge over her fair skin, a small cut near the elbow. She winced. But with the pain came a relief. It felt good. It felt right. Another cut along her arm, this one long, and she cringed at the pain, felt naesous at the blood, but reveled in the absolute comfort that it treated her sorrow with. I deserve this, she told herself, delievering another cut to the other arm.
Suddenly, she seemed to break from her revirie of the pain-lust. The ceramic edge dropped from her bloody hand to the dark carpet to join the rest of it’s shattered brothers. Fue-chan stared down at her arms, breathing heavily, her chest heaving in and out, she viewed her arms, now covered in many cuts, most shallow, a few deep, almost all of them bleeding, all of them stinging. Swallowing and shaking, she stared at the cuts a long time. Swallowing again, she got to her feet and headed to her room. Once there, she slipped the see-through robe off over her thin shoulders, letting it slip to the ground. I’d better put a sweatshirt on, she thought softly, pulling the warm green sweatshirt over her head, pulling her bloody arms though it. It gets awfully cold around here.


Seibrum let out a frustrated sigh, visibly shaking. She....she just didn’t understand. She was 17, very young, and still had a lot to learn. She didn’t understand, and he didn’t expect her to. He’d recieved some interesting looks from the people around him as he’d talked to Inomi through telepathy. Of course, his expressions hadn’t been usual: a furrowed brow, a frustrated look, pain-filled eyes, his whole body very still, very tense. But he was okay now, and the bar patrons turned back to focus on something else.
Taking in a deep breath, Seibrum turned back to his drink, vodka and tonic. He never drank. Not much, at least. And he wasn’t getting drunk here. He had no interest in getting himself drunk to forget his problems.
“Hey, gourgeous!”
Seibrum jumped a little as an arm wrapped around his neck gently from behind. Red locks of hair fell forward on his chest as a pretty, young face tilted to smile at him. He got over his startlement and smiled back at her, raising a hand to her hair, “Hey, Autumn...”
Her was a bright red.... She looked like Daruma. She was a lot bubblier, but her personality had that bright flare to it, the clear need for independence, yet a yearning for affection, all the quality’s he’d found in Daruma. How odd for him to be doing this now, but from the first time he’d met Autumn, she’d reminded him of Daruma. Not a feminist herself, Autumn never had her defenses up, and loved men on the contrary. Especially Seibrum. They’d met a little less than a week ago, and she’d quickly made it clear she wanted to get to know him better. Seibrum had become friends with her older brother, Jethro, soon after. Everything seemed to be falling into place. This was a nice town, a bar town, centered on the large, castle-like tavern in which everyone in the town seemed to “hang out.” It was very easy to meet people, especially if you’re friendly. A nice life.
Autumn smiled again and circled around him to kiss his lips warmly, placing herself in his lap gingerly. He kissed her back, his hand going to rest on her hips, pulling her a little closer to him. Pulling away lingerly, she smiled brightly, “You seemed off in throught, hon. Something the matter?”
He lied very well. “No, not at all,” he smiled cheerfully, raising a hand to run through her hair. Red. Like both Ketsu and Daruma’s. Was it a coinscidence? Nah. He’d always liked redheads best, and he’d always known that.
Autumn smiled satasfiedly and settled against him comfortably, watching some bar commotion off a ways.
Like holding Daruma....Seibrum swallowed the pain that rose in him. Shifting his eyes away from Autumn, looking so much like her, he focused on his vodka and tonic. With troubled eyes, his thoughts drifted back to her for what seemed like the billionth time. ......Are you angry somewhere, Daruma...? Are you angry at the world? Swallowing, he fought his tears well, keeping them locked up far away. Good with his pain, as always. Winding his fingers around Autumn’s hair, he found himself looking at Daruma’s hair. If I could put you at peace....he swallowed. Daruma....can you know what am impact you had on my life? Can you ever know? Even if I had you right here in front of me, I’d be at a loss for words. I never knew quite what to say to you..... pumpkin.
The tears came close this time, actually watering his eyes, but he blinked it away, his gaze still lost. Was it painful, Daruma? Did you have time to think before you.....died.....? Did you life flash before your eyes, as they say it always does...? To die and believe you’ve never been loved.... What a fate. He swallowed again. It was getting harder and harder every day to keep them in. To keep them in while he held Daruma in his arms, entwined his fingers in her red hair, saw her beautiful smile. You believed you were never loved, didn’t you, Daruma? And to think....I was falling in love with you more each day. I didn’t even see you, and it was still strong. To think of that. I was falling in love with you and you were murdered.
Ketsu. What would he think of all this? Seibrum couldn’t see Ketsu being jealous...he could see him being hurt, but not jealous. What would he think to see Daruma in Seibrum’s arms, watch him kiss her gently, smile at her? Inomi had said she felt bad for Ketsu, and Seibrum did too. But now Ketsu was free. Even if he did love Seibrum, it would pass, and he could happy with someone he could choose, someone who wouldn’t leave him when the going got too rough. Someone a hell of a lot stronger. Did he love both Daruma and Ketsu? Had he all a long? What would he have done then? Be in the same position Zei was in? Wryly, he knew he wouldn’t /do/ as Zei had, keeping his relationship with both of them, sleeping with both of him. But he had a belief that if you believe yourself to be in love with two people, it means you aren’t really in true love with either of them. What of that now? Daruma is dead, and I’ve left Ketsu. And I hold Autumn in my arms now. Autumn, who looks just like Daruma.
He watched her face, watching it transform into Daruma’s in his head. Her eyes...her eyes had always been sad. Were your eyes sad as you died, Daruma? Were they sad for all the things you didn’t get to do or have been you left us? Were you confused? He swallowed. Do you think of us now....?
Are you angry somewhere, Daruma?


Zei opened his eyes slowly. Had he passed out again...? Damn, this was getting annoying. Stupid, weak human body. Gritting his teeth in disgust and frustration, he felt his anger towards Jerome boil up again. Some ally.
It was dark. Was it night, or early morning? He could no longer tell, like he could when he was a mazoku. The room---Seibrum’s room---was dim, the shapes around him vaugely made out. He hadn’t figured out why he was in Seibrum’s room yet. He’d only been awake a couple of days, and everyone seemed more worried about feeding him then telling him what the hell was going on. If he was in Seibrum’s room, where the hell was Seibrum?
He sat up tiredly, the thin sheets sliding down his bare chest to gather at his waist. Still in the stupid fucking loin cloth. He narrowed his eyes further. Aza and Grey had said something about beings--fairies--in his region taking them, and his clothes probably were back in there. Another annoyance of not knowing what the hell had happened. It wasn’t that he was shy or modest about walking around in a loin cloth, but his stupid, weak human body had gotten noticably thin. Even Aza remarked about being able to see his ribs. He didn’t want to be seen like this. It just made him look all the weaker. Besides, his stupid, weak human body let him feel temperatures, and he found it surprisingly cold in this thing. Frustratedly, he thought back to his cape. Damnit! Whoever took it from me is gonna pay!
There was a soft sound, and as Zei’s eyes became more adjusted to the darkness, he saw Grey. Grey was asleep in a chair by his bed. Zei’s eyes softened a little. He hadn’t left ever since Zei had woken up. And apparently, according to Fue-chan, he’d been with Zei ever since they’d brought him back. With a scolding scoff, she’d remarked that Aza appearing yesterday was the first time Aza had come to see Zei ever since he’d been brought back. Zei didn’t know how to feel about that, but it didn’t bother him as if might have bothered others. Good for Aza, he thought sincerely. Maybe the fool will leave me yet.
He turned his legs to slide off the bed, standing silently from the covers, and actually not tripping in them this time. He went over to Grey, quietly. As a mazoku, he’d been still and silent as a statue when he wanted to be, but in his stupid, weak human body, he found he was rather clumsy and loud with his movements. It’d taken him a long time to be able to walk quietly in this body, and even now he could hear the scuffle of his bare feet over the carpet, the sound of his cloth loin cloth against his thighs. Now standing before the sleeping Grey, he gazed over him. Hate and love. Love and hate. Up till now he’d only felt these emotions seperately. Now he loved Grey more than anything, and he hated him fiercely. Raising a heavy hand to brush against Grey’s hair, he found himself confused once again. Should I just be alone...? Go back to my old ways and leave before anyone gets attatched? And if one gets attatched, it’s their own damn fault? His thoughts went quieter. ...What if I get attatched? Can I watch Grey day after day, knowing I can’t be with him, knowing everyone is against me being with him, knowing it will hurt others for me to be with him. Damnit. This is why I wanted to die. I’m free if I die. I’m free from everything, from my pain, from my love,from my hatred, from my existence if I die. As a mazoku, it’d be very hard to rid myself of existen ce, but as a human... he smiled mockingly. It’s easier than anything else. I could stab myself, take my gun and shoot myself, offer myself as a sacrifice to Cojin, throw myself off one of the cliffs in that Godforsaken Jackiland, anything. It’d be so easy. But to die in my region....Zei smiled peacefully. That’s what is right. That’s how it should be. Damn them for stopping me.
He touched Grey’s face softly. He looked very peaceful, deep in that lull of sleep. It couldn’t be very comfortable though, asleep sitting up in a chair. As a mazoku, Zei’d marvelled in sleeping in different, unusual positions and places, but he just couldn’t do it now, and he didn’t think it’d be very good for Grey either. Gently, he leaned down to slip and arm under Grey’s knees, his other arms slipping around Grey’s back underneth the wings. Slowly and gently, he lifted Grey up, careful not to wake him, and carried him over to the bed. He set Grey down gently, carefully arranging his wings so they wouldn’t be hurt by laying down. There, he lifted some of the covers and tucked Grey in. With a soft sigh, he watched the wing boy a moment before going over to the wall and settling down against it on the floor. He felt too tired and weak to walk around the hall and such. Resting his head against the wall behind him, he wondered what to do now. Maybe just....think.


Gabriel looked around him, his large, slit eyes reflecting most of what he felt. Confusion, pain, self-pity..... Mostly confusion. Did he really want to do it? Deep within the open plains of Jackiland, it did feel peaceful, quiet, reassuring. Taking in a deep breath, he closed his eyes, focusing on his transformation. Transforming into his half-state form wasn’t difficult at all, just a sprouting of wings, a growth of ears, but this was totally different. He was changing his whole body.
A light began to grow around Gabriel, a beautiful white light, surrounding his body, and he began to change. He felt his teeth suddenly grow sharp and pointed, fangs, his arms growing larger and more muscular, long, sharp claws protruding from his fingernails. As he grew larger, his clothes ripped completely and fell to the ground, shredded. In replacement, a thick, rough silver skin covered his body. His whole bone structure drastically changed, and rapidly. He was suddenly huge, his skull elonging and his silver skin with it. Large, skin wings shot from his silver back, flapping against the wind, creating a powerful current. Everything about him changed now, he stood a huge, beautiful, silver dragon. Taller than most of the trees in Jackiland, he could see far across the naturistic world. It was good he was in a plain area, or else many trees would have met their death.
Immediately, he felt relief. He felt normal again. His dragon form was the most normal thing for him, what he’d be born in and lived a lot of his life in. It was wonderful. And he couldn’t cry in this form.
With only a couple flaps of his giantic wings, he was off the ground, and with a couple more, he was high in the air, and he began to soar. This was so blissful, peaceful. He always loved this, always would. He could barely even think of his troubles when he was like this. To get away from it all...
But even now, high above the majestic world, the night wind rushing past him, everything still nagged at him. Because he kept thinking back to it. This place...these people...he’d never felt so emotionally attatched before, and for being a very emotional guy, this was odd. He couldn’t take his mind off everything. his father hated him. How he loved them, all of them. Eran and Aza...they were both so wonderful to him, and he still felt contempt towards them because /they were loved/. What kind of a person did that make him? He was awful, selfish. But the look on his father’s face...that look with Zei had told him to get out. Zei didn’t care. Zei just hated him.
I have to...change, he knew. I have to do something...become something that oto-san wants me to be. I /have/ to. He knew everyone like Fue-chan and Inomi and Eran and Aza would flip and tell him no, tell him he was fine the way he was, that he didn’t need to change for Zei, or anyone. But he knew they were wrong. He wasn’t....he couldn’t be like this. He’d never cared or been bothered before by him timidness....but he knew it wasn’t okay now. He had to become a real man. And if it meant this, he would do it. Oto-san would be impressed with him. Just a few more rounds around here, and then he would go back. He glanced down below him. A thick wood. Fue-chan’s wood. She’d created all this....sighing softly in his mind, a nagging feeling over took him. G...gomen, Fue-chan....he thought softly. Gomen, Inomi, Eran, Aza,....Kate... His mind lingered on her. Gods, how he liked her. He’d never had too much of an interest in girls before, and even if he ever did, he was never brave enough to do anything about it. Kate, his girlfriend.... She probably wouldn’t want to go out with him after this, but...perhaps Zei would love him. Perhaps.
Swooping around to head back, he tried not to look at Fue-chan’s wood. Gomen, minna....


For about the billionth time, Harlequin rested his eyes on his hand tiredly. He hadn’t slept. Ruu would wake up tomorrow. Jerome had told him to go back to his room, because it would seem odd to Ruu for him to be there, and everything had to be as normal as possible. Taking in a deep, shaky breath, he closed his eyes. Please, God, let me have done the right thing.
Taking away her seemed wrong. It just didn’t seem right. But Ruu had wanted it. And what she wanted was the most important thing right now.
He sat on his bed, hunched over a little, his elbow resting on his knee. Everything was going to go back to normal, he tried to reassure himself, but somehow, deep inside, he knew it wouldn’t. There were a million factors that made this different. Even if she may not remember it, Ruu was not a virgin anymore. Her purity was gone. She’d been handled by another man. If...if he could find out who’d done it... Harlequin gritted his teeth slightly. He’d kill the bastard. To touch Ruu like do /that/ to was unforgivable. He really should be searching for the man, but suddenly, it was different. Ruu would have no clue why Harlequin was hunting down and killing a man she’d....never seen before. She’d think him a murderer. And now, she couldn’t point him out. Pretty sure that the man had moved on to another place, Harlequin’s fear now was that this man lurked amoung them still, that he would seek other young ladies. That filth. Harlequin hated him, whoever he was, just as he hated the men that had hurt Arimi. But this was fresh hatred, not buried under 7 years of quiet loathing. This was fresh, and unforgivable. If he ever found him....shaking his head quietly, he thought, he wouldn’t live a minute more after meeting me.
From now on, I’ll watch over her, Harlequin vowed silently. I’ve been irresponsible and a horrid gentlemen. Perhaps I can convince her to come live with me in Jackiland. He hoped Fue-chan wouldn’t mind so much. She could always come and see him whenever she came into her land. But that...that also was not a gentlemanly thing to do. Fue-chan was alone now. Even her lover she barely saw. Seibrum, her former protector in the absence of another, was gone now. Harlequin tried not to think about it. Seibrum had been his good friend, probably his best here. Harlequin had had a little trouble making close friends here, and he and Seibrum had shared a same sense of humor, a same calm, cool personality. They got along damn well. And now he was gone. But Harlequin could understand. He, himself, was here wanted to up and leave to live in a peaceful, hate-free enviroment instead of sticking it through with the rest of his comrades. Seibrum still had the guts to actually leave. Or was it the lack of guts for not staying...?
But, no, Harlequin couldn’t leave Fue-chan. With Seibrum gone, Zei confined to his room--and never much help in the first place--, Gabriel locked himself in his room, and Inova-san never around anyway, it would be the most un-gentlemanly thing to do, to leave a 16-year old girl alone. He could see her wearing down, the tiredness and pain in her eyes, and while he had no idea how to comfort her about it, he could at least stay and help her through these troubling times. And Miss Kirei and her baby....he had to stay and help with that. Kirei was up in the middle of the night all the time, and before everything with Ruu, Harlequin had been there, helping her, taking Katana and lulling the baby back to sleep with his soft singing while her mother tiredly--gratefully--went back to bed. He wondered how she was doing now, with Katana, since he’d been gone a couple of days. He figured Fue-chan was helping a lot. But still, that left two 16-year old girls on their own, defenseless and unprepared of how to take care of a newborn baby.
Then there was Gabriel. He knew the young boy held a deep pain within him, his dark eyes filled with the saddness and longing for love. From Zei. Harlequin tried to hold no grudge against Zei, but sometimes, he found it very hard. Harlequin tried to stay with Gabriel Sir also, but with Fue-chan and Kirei and Katana, he often found his hands full and unable to go to the boy. Sometimes, while Kirei and Fue-chan slept, and he rocked Katana, he’d go over to the young dragon’s room, finding the boy crying in his sleep. He’d rub Gabriel’s back to comfort him while gently rocking Katana, singing quietly to both of them. With a soft sound of ammusement, he realized that all of them, Fue-chan, Kirei, and Gabriel were all 16. What an age. Harlequin remembered his 16th year, and what a fun time it had been. But for these young women and man, the times were rough. One already a mother, one on the verge of insanity and emptiness, and one sunk into a deep depression. How sad, he thought, to have such burdens at being so young. It was the most he could do, to stay with these teenagers while the other adults, Inova, Arkerial, and Jaydrian, kept to themselves and never poked their heads out. Harlequin was only 10 years older than them, but he felt responsible for them all, felt it was his duty to act as a responsible figure. Not a parental figure, that was going too far, but definetly a responsible figure, a guardian figure.
He knew Kirei and Gabriel were in their rooms, but he knew Fue-chan liked to stay out in the main room, all by herself. It scared him a little, that she liked to sit in that large empty room, filled with a still silence, and just sit and stare at the walls. On the verge of insanity...Harlequin wondered if she already jumped over the verge and wound up off the deep end. He should check on her. Getting tiredly to his feet, he walked out of his room and headed for the main room, deciding he would make her go to bed, whether she liked it or not. It was late, and just sitting in the silence and hollowness was most likely slowly knawing away at her sanity.
But as he entered the main room, Harlequin stopped. His brow furrowed a little. The room was empty. A relief almost swept through him. Had she gone to bed? Had she actually gotten some sense into her and gone to sleep in her room for once? But something caught his eye. On the floor, there lay the shattered pieces of a vase, the fraud flowers carefully placed aside. Raising an eyebrow in confusion, he headed over and looked at the shattered vase. What the.... He glanced around the room for other signs of what had gone on, but there was nothing. Everything else was as it had been.
Worriedly, he hurried to Fue-chan’s room. God, please let her be there... Normally, he would have nevered opened the door of a lady’s--or anyone’s, for that matter--room, but his worry ate at him, and he swung the door open, his heart pounding.
Fue-chan lay on her bed, her back to Harlequin, a large green sweatshirt over her short, light green dress, her knees bent and pulled up a little. On the floor, her robe lay in a heap. Relief flooded through him again. She was asleep, thank God. Silently, as not to wake her, he closed the door. She must have accidently knocked over the vase and been too tired to pick it up. The vase had been on a thin table, easy to knock over. Reassuring himself, he padded over the carpet floor of the main room, heading back to his own.