The Disclaimer: YST/RW is not my property but belongs to Sunrise productions. This story takes place after the first O.V.A. and before the second O.V.A
Friends In Need.
Part 1. Friends Made and Friendly Good-bye’s
We all knew it would happen sooner or later. After the fall of the evil Dynasty we all returned to Mia Koji’s Estate (also referred to as Ronin Manor) vowing we would live together until we graduated from Han’a High school. From that point, we would go our separate ways, but still keep in touch with each other. We all believed that Cye would be the first to leave us, since he was in a higher grade than everyone else. We were wrong.
One peaceful day. I was seated on a window seat as the rays of the afternoon sun streamed through the window and glistened in my hair. The sun also shimmered across the pages of the poetry anthology I had been reading. Rowen Hashiba, my best friend, was seated at my feet on the floor reading a book on astronomy. Ryo Sanata was outside with Yuli attempting to give Ryo’s pet tiger Whiteblaze, a bath. Cye Mouri and Kento Ray Fahn were in front of the Playstation game console, performing a computer animated reenactment of the Nagano, Japan; Winter Olympic games. I just smiled as I watched the people that I considered as friends and brothers to me.
I recalled sending my mother a photo of the seven of us. In it Ryo and Mia were standing next to each other on right side of the photo. Mia was leaning on Ryo’s shoulder and one of Ryo’s arms was around her waist, Whiteblaze was lying on his stomach at Ryo’s feet with Yuli kneeling next to him scratching the tigers head. Rowen and I were standing in the center of it; Rowen in his blue jacket with the yellow-green collar and faded blue jeans. While I was wearing a pair of Khakis with a pale yellow T-shirt and a pine green blazer. My spun gold hair, as usual, was hanging in front of my right eye. Rowen and I each had a hand in a pocket of our pants and an elbow jabbed into Kento’s stomach. Kento had thought it would be funny to give Rowen and me a pair of bunny ears. However , he ended up giving a rather weird expression on his face. Cye just stood on the left of the photo with arms folded over his chest.
My mother had commented that we look like a representation of the lost boys from Peter Pan. I laughed at this discription. Because in a way we were all misfits that belonged no where else except with each other. For instance, one time Kento went back to Yokohama for a month to visit his family, but three days later he came back saying he felt so empty with out us. I had a similar story. I went back to the Miyagi province, for a week-long family reunion at the Dojo, (Rowen could have come as well since he is family, sort of. But he declined, saying that this was my affair and he didn’t want that to be spoiled. Even though that was not the case I understood what he meant.) But, after my first day back home I suddenly felt so out of place. I told my parents, grandparents, and sisters that I was sorry but I just couldn’t stay. Out of all my family my mother understood me the most.
"Sage, you don’t need to apologize for your leaving," she had said to me on the way to the train station. "You have good friends and you feel they need you, true they can be uncouth and rude. Yet that’s how they act around each other. Like Rowen, for instance, is sweet, kind, polite, and an intelligent young man. Yet those ten years he had living with an abusive father and neglectful mother are almost enough to spoil milk. The only thing that gives him, any balance in life is that he has caring friends like you. It’s just like I always say ju nin toiro (different strokes for different folks); after all were only human.
Humans, are we even so, anymore? Ushiroyubi (Outcast) seemed more like it. Out of all the other warriors and I had survived things that normal men would have perished going through. Lived through tortures that went beyond human imagination, felt pain that made you wish death would come swift and mercifully, and evil so dense that its like a smothering darkness that yielded no light.
It was times like this that I needed my friends the most. One time I remember clearly but hate reminiscing over. I was invited to come to New York city for a seminar on Japanese weaponry. On my way there I was kidnapped by a evil spirit named Shikisen and his Mad Scientist subordinate. When I was finally rescued and brought back to Toyama, the nightmares came, horrible traumatizing ones. The kind that make you wake up screaming. I just kept seeing the faces of those Shikisen killed with my armor. My armor was so much a part of me, so I was able to feel everything my armor did. I was not at fault, but yet I saw my hands stained with innocent blood. From that point Rowen was always there by my side like he was paying me back for being his friend and every act of kindness I showed him. Staying awake all night so he would be ready to calm me down in case I woke up suddenly, keeping the others at bay when I started feeling I did not deserve the armor of Halo. He was there to comfort me when I burst into tears, and to talk to me when others had given up.
Ryo moved in to the room Rowen and I shared two weeks after I returned to Toyama, partially by Mia’s directive and mostly Ryo’s. I knew Ryo was worried about me, everyone was. My friends, family, everyone. However, Ryo was also worried about Rowen as well. It had been a noticed fact that, Rowen’s, concern was causing some unneeded effects. For instance, once Rowen fell asleep in his math class. The teacher was not pleased that his star student had chosen to catch up on a few winks in his class of all things, and gave Rowen a detention after school.
When Rowen, reluctantly reported to Mia and the others about, why he had been late returning home. Mia asked him to go directly to bed and then had a private talk with the rest of us. It was then that Ryo, suggested that he move in with Rowen and Me.
The front door opened and a thoroughly bathed Ryo entered the house, completely pulling me out of my reverie . I tried to stifle a laugh as he went to our room to change clothes.
Minutes later a soaked dark haired and chest naked little boy of 10 years entered. I lowered my eyes at this. We had first met Yuli after the Dynasty had captured his parents as well as everyone else in Toyama. We were not able to recover his parents after the first war upon the Dynasty, after we had promised many times that we would. He had often gone back to his house, hoping beyond all hope that they had some how survived and returned home. Only to find it as empty as it was when the Dynasty first came to town. Mia practically adopted the child once I had informed everyone about an incident in which I had run into my father while he was on his beat. He informed me that there had been some strange occurrences with in the last month or so, and several missing persons to boot. I had replied that I had not seen anything strange, but I would keep a sharp eye out. It was then I remembered Rowen and Ryo telling the rest of us that Talpa had been absorbing the life-forces of all those people. Maybe the missing ones were the ones that were drained completely.
Not long after Mia Koji returned home from her job at the newly rebuilt Shinsha University, with a completely dry Whiteblaze traipsing behind her. It was then that a fateful chain of events started to happen.
Only one letter was in the mail that day. The letter was from Rowen’s Mother, and said saying she quit her job as an international journalist and wanted Rowen to move to New York so they could be a family again.
A family, she should have thought of that nine years ago, when Rowen needed a family most. I suppose I should be happy for him, but yet the rest of us just didn’t seem whole with out him.
That was four months ago. Mrs. Hashiba had generously let Rowen stay with us until summer vacation started.
I normally woke up before dawn to meditate by the lake, but today things were different. I found myself sitting up in bed staring at Rowen as he slept on his side. He was so wrapped in his blankets that he looked more like a caterpillar then the warrior of life that he was known as. I couldn’t help but smile at how peaceful he seemed even though his life was anything but. I lay down again, closed my eyes, and let my mind wonder to when I had met Rowen for the first time.
The noon day sun streamed lazily through the window and into the crowded class room. I sat quietly feigning interest in Mr. Ichinaga’s lecture on the proper way to conjugate verbs. When suddenly the class room door opened, and In walked Mrs. Ito, the school secretary, with a young boy. The boy was about my age at the time which was ten. He had pale skin, not as pale as mine but close enough. His scrawny body made him look like he was half starved. The only thing about him that was strange was his hair. It was cut like it was cut with a shaving razor. His bangs were the longest part of his hair, especially this one forelock that fell to the bridge of his nose. He wore the normal Boys uniform with a deep blue head band that just barely kept his hair from covering his Night sky blue eyes. What was weird was the fact his hair color was dark azure.
Mr. Ichinaga paused, to nod to Mrs. Ito, then told the boy to take the vacant seat next to me. After he sat down, I felt a need to talk with him. I quickly wrote ‘Is your hair naturally colored blue?’ on a slip of note book paper and placed it on his desk. He gave me a look that would freeze my blood if it could. Was that what my fellow schoolmates feel whenever they saw both my eyes? The boy looked at the note, then writing a quick response tossed the note back at me. ‘If blond is your natural color, then I guess you know the answer to your own question’ it said. I was naturally offended by the way he had answered, but yet I could feel that he never meant it in offensive manner. I never really told anyone that I was empathic, but at that moment I felt a dark disturbance within the boy. Like a force had wounded his gentle soul, and left discolored spots and abrasions in its wake.
Lunch came, I entered the courtyard with my classmates and sat down with my back against the trunk of a cherry tree that stood in the center of the yard. The wind playfully snowed Sakura petals around me as took out my lunch of inari and teriyaki and sesame seed chicken strips on rice. I glanced around for the new boy, it was not long before I had spotted him; after all, a boy with dark blue hair would stand out. He sat in a corner of the yard under a gnarled old ginkgo that looked like it would fall over at a moments notice, nibbling on some rice crackers. I was so intent on watching the boy, I had failed to notice my two friends Cye and Kento, come up behind me until I felt someone tentatively tap me on the shoulder.
I turned around to see a scrawny boy with mousy rust colored hair and sea green eyes, and a stocky boy with ash blue hair that was held back with a gold head band, indigo colored eyes, and a goofy grin on his face. Cye and Kento were not close friends with me but we were friends all the same.
"So what are you looking at?" asked Cye as he sat next to me and followed my line of vision to where the blue hared boy was. "Oh the new student."
"What new student?" asked Kento though one of his mom’s Beef and Broccoli lunches.
"The boy that arrived this morning," answered Cye "I’ve seen him once or twice in the office today. He doesn’t seem very social though." Kento having inhaled his beef and broccoli (minus the broccoli part)started to reach for the round box that sat unopened on Cye’s lap. As if Cye expected Kento to try to take his lunch. Cye slapped Kento’s hand away like he had caught a toddler reaching for the cookie jar before dinner. "Hands off ‘fatty’ you had your lunch already."
"But Cye, I’m still starving," whimpered Kento as he rubbed the hand that Cye hand slapped. "Couldn’t I have just one of your Sushi rolls, yours are the best in Japan."
"Considering I choose not to use seafood, yes, but flattery will get you nowhere." Said Cye. Then turning to me. "Sage, if he interests you that much then go talk to him, he may appreciate having a friend."
"Maybe I will," I said, giving a trademark smirk that was typical among the Date family.
I made my across the yard, as I walked closer to the boy, I saw some bruises on his face I had not noticed before. They stood out on his skin like motor oil on snow. I knelt down near him. He glanced at me, not coldly like before, but unsure about my presence. I knelt down and held my hand out in greeting.
"Konichiwa Onamiwa Date Saiji desu," I said "but my friends call me Sage." I brought my hand back as though he had burned it with out touching me. Fear almost radiated from every pore of his being, I guessed that maybe every hand he had been offered came in the form of a fist or a slap across the face as I carefully thought about the bruises on the boys face. I sighed after five minutes past and got up. No use in trying to talk to someone who isn’t ready to talk you yet. I turned around and was heading back to the Sakura tree, where Cye and Kento were busy arguing. Cye was at the point where he was sitting on top of his Sushi Box like, a mother hen sits on her eggs in order to protect them. I was shaking my head in amusement at their antics. That’s when I heard a soft voice from behind me.
"Onamiwa Hashiba Touma desu, but everyone calls me Rowen." I turned and looked at the blue haired boy that I had tried to talk to before.
"I am pleased to meet you, Rowen." I said. Again silence ruled, until a growling sound could be heard, emanating from Rowen’s stomach. He looked up at me with an embarrassed expression.
"Sorry, I didn’t pack my self much of a lunch, today." he said. I gazed down at my still uneaten lunch. "My dad’s always too busy drinking at the local tavern or messing with me to think about things like food ." I looked up at this statement. Did this boy just admit to another kid that he barely even knew that his father abused him? If his father mistreated him like this , where was his mother to intervene?"
"What about your mother?" I asked. This question must have struck a nerve with in Rowen because, I saw his deep sapphire eyes start to well up with tears
"My mama divorced, my dad a year ago." He said his voice cracking "I mostly have to make my lunch on my own. Only I can’t cook all that well, and a large portion our finances are devoted to dads drinking."
I glanced back at my uneaten lunch, I just didn’t feel hungry anymore. I looked back at Rowen and knew what I had to do.
"Maybe you need this more than I do." I said as I handed him my lunch. Rowen looked at me with gratitude mixed with confusion.
"Your lunch, but why?" he asked
"I am letting you have it because, I want to be your friend," I said.
"My friend?" Rowen asked in confusion, almost like he had never heard of the word ‘Friend’ before. "But I only met you ten-fifteen minutes ago."
"I know but you haven’t made any friend yet, for if you had you would be sitting with them now." I said "Please allow me to be the first." The reaction I got I completely didn’t expect. Rowen just sat there quietly for several seconds digesting what I had said. Then without warning threw his arms around me and sobbed on my shoulder. No one outside my family had ever had the nerve to touch me before. Mostly it was my eyes that were the most unnerving, their unnatural silvery lavender color made them seem hard, and inhuman. When I was in kindergarten, my classmates often called me ‘Otokonoko Kappa’( Demon boy).When any of my fellow classmates looked me in the eyes they would suddenly burst out in tears of fright. Even Cye and Kento could barely talk to me without looking away as they spoke.
I wrapped my arms around the sobbing child not exactly knowing what to do. Then it hit me. The entire time I was speaking with Rowen, he was looking me in the eyes without fear. I felt something from that point on like, destiny had made us friends for a reason. From that day on a strong chain of friendship had formed between us. As time progressed forward the chain grew stronger. When we became Ronin Warriors our friendship was reborn sending it self in five deferent directions. Foraged on the twin anvils of victory and defeat, tempered with the blood and tears that were shed on the battle grounds of the Dynasty. We all became as close if not closer then brothers could be. Rowen and I were to close to be friends, even best friends was not close enough to describe the bond between us.
A sudden movement in the room startled me. I sat up in bed to see Rowen walk to the closet and get a blue sweat shirt. He looked over at me almost like he expected me to be here.
"Hay Sage, I was just going out to watch the sunrise." He said. I saw Ryo starting to stir in the early morning darkness.
"Do you mind if we join you?" Ryo asked as he sat up in bed.
"Sure, and the other guys to if their up to it." Said Rowen as he walked out the door, "see you on the hill."
During the spring brake Rowen and Yuli had made plans on an overnight star watching trip. To their surprise everyone asked to come along. Rowen was glad the rest of us choose to make an effort at seeing something that Rowen enjoyed. But inwardly I could see that he knew we were only coming because our time left together was getting shorter. It was a solemn walk through the forest to a hill that was exposed to the whole sky. It was so beautiful, you could see for miles around. The most fascinating part was when Rowen was pointing out stars, and constellations as if he knew every star, planet, and nebula by heart. Or was it the meteor shower I forget which.
Ryo and I pulled on a warm sweaters, Ryo went to invite Mia, leaving me with the ‘joy’ of waking Cye and Kento.
I opened the door carefully, though I wondered what the point was after all with the way Kento snored at night it was enough to drown out World War 2. This morning was no exception. Kento had draped himself spread-eagle on his bed happily snoring like a asthmatic lumber-jack. How Cye, could sleep with the racket Kento was making, I would never know. I walked over to where Cye, slept near the window curled up in his blankets and as peaceful as a baby. That’s when I saw some filmy pale blue things in his ears. Ear plugs how could I not have guessed that.
Kento, at this point, seemed easier to wake up. After all Cye probably wouldn’t have heard me over the noise.
"Kento," I whispered gently shaking his shoulder "Wake up." I started shaking his shoulder harder, still nothing. "Kento," I hissed into his ear. "Talpa’s back." Kento stirred for a moment then rolled over and merrily went back to sawing wood. I suddenly remembered Kento’s Passion for food. "Hm" I said aloud hoping that Kento would hear me. "I wonder if there is still a slice of Cye’s ‘Triple Decker Fudge’ Cake left. Bingo. Kento bolted up in bed.
"Oh, why’d ya have to wake me Sage?" Kento moaned "I was having this great dream."
"Everyone’s going to watch the sunrise." I said "I woke you to see if you and Cye wanted to come along." Kento glared at me as if saying ‘You woke me up for that.’
"The Sun rises every day," Said Kento "Why bother watching something that you can see any day of the week."
"It’s true the sun will be back tomorrow," I said nodding my head at the truth of Kento’s statement. "But, Rowen won’t be." Kento looked at me like I had officially been declared insane.
"Rowen? You mean the dude’s leaving today?" Gasped Kento. I nodded.
"Look, you go join the others," said Kento as he looked over at Cye’s peacefully slumbering form. "I’ll be right behind you with Cye, even if I have to sling his sleeping carcass over my shoulder and drag him up there."
The stars sparkled their good-byes to their brother as they started to wink-out one by one. The light of the drowsing moon had cast the green grass in silver. A soft breeze drifted over the hillside causing the blades to glisten like a great silver treasure. Yuli was sitting in Rowen’s lap, just like he did on the star watching trip. I sadly lowered my head. This was the last time we would all be together.
If and when Rowen finally would come home to Japan, we would no longer be what we were. We will have gone off with our lives and lived as people once again. Our armor was hardly used anymore. So we would mostly meet for coffee and talk about how life was treating us.
My thoughts fled as the rustle of leaves and a long string of cursing announced the arrival of Kento and Cye. They sat down next to me. The moon sank behind us and the sky above started to lighten, heralding the great golden ball that rose from behind the mountains, announcing the birth of the new day.
We all solemnly walked down the hill, together. When we got home we all did various chores and things. Rowen set the table, I went upstairs to take my morning shower, Yuli and Kento were watching TV, Ryo was standing near the kitchen in order to keep Kento from pestering Cye and Mia from the light breakfast they were making.
After a small breakfast(we were having a big farewell dinner at Kento’s family restaurant later), Ryo went upstairs to help Rowen pack his things. Mia, Cye, Kento, and Yuli were off to get somethings setup for the dinner. I sat alone quietly in the living room. The shadows of the past seemed to walk through the room like ghosts.
Cye and Kento, walked over cautiously to see what was going on. I heard their foot steps over Rowen’s sniveling. Looking over my shoulder I saw the concerned looks on their faces.
"Is he okay?" asked Cye
"You didn’t scare him, did you?." Kento joked about my eyes. I gave him a poisonous glare that had many a time sent my school mates running for the hills.
"He’s fine," I said. "He’s, he’s just had a hard life." Rowen looked up and noticed the two boys that had moved up on us. He pushed himself away from me looking slightly embarrassed for being caught as well as dragging me into an awkward situation. He also looked at me apologetically for using me as a snot rag.
"Ohio, Mouri Shin desu," said Cye "But I am more commonly known as Cye."
"I am Ray Fahn Shu," Kento jovially announced. "But I like being called Kento. And you are?"
"This is Hashiba Touma," I said. "But he is mostly called Rowen."
At that moment the bell rang, all the children that had been playing were shepherded into the school building like sheep into the pen. Each one reluctantly abandoning the play structures, the hula-hoops, jump ropes and lunch trays to return to there classrooms.
As soon as school was out for the day, I started my walk home. It was then I saw a familiar face. Rowen was sitting alone under a Sakura tree near the gate.
"Hey Sage," he said. "Would you or your family mind if I came over for a little while."
"Sure," I said. Mom had been asking me for the past month when was I going to start bringing friends home. Thank Kami-Sama (God) it was the weekend.
We walked silently down the street for a moment, then turned into the park. I like to walk here because for one, it was peaceful, so it was a good way to get your mind off school. There were also a lot of people around at that time of day, so I didn’t have to worry about anything happening to me. Second because my house was only a mile away from the other side of the park.
"Sage," Rowen said. "Sorry I started crying on shoulder without permission."
"That’s okay I didn’t mind" I said
"It’s just that no one’s really asked to be my friend and if anyone did they only wanted me to do their home work for them. But when you offered you meant it. That’s why I started crying because I was so happy."
"Hay you need anything just ask," I said. "Just don’t expect me to do your home work for you." Rowen smiled at that remark.
"Sage," Rowen asked. "Can I ask you a question?"
"What do you need to know?" I asked. Rowen hesitated at first.
"Why does your hair cover your eye like that?" Rowen asked. I sighed I some how knew that question was going to come up.
"Do, you remember when Kento asked if I had scared you?" I asked Rowen nodded "When I was younger, my classmates would often start crying when they saw both my eyes. So my older sister suggested I brush my hair over one of my eyes so I won’t look so intimidating." Rowen suddenly stopped and turned to face me. Carefully, he lifted the hair that covered my left eye.
"I don’t think your scary," He said "Your eyes make you seem more mature then you actually are."
"One would say the same about you." I said referring to him that his eyes were also too serious to be the eyes of a child. We walked the rest of the way home in silence.
When we had reached the steps that lead to my house, I could hear my 15 year-old sister Yayoi caterwauling to Speeds ‘Go Go Heaven.’ My younger sister Satsuki was waiting for me at the top of the stairs.
"Ni-chan," she yelled as she ran down the stairs. It was fortunate that Rowen and I stood on a landing, or otherwise I would have been bowled down the stairs, when she playfully threw her arms around me.
"Ni-chan, who’s that?" Satsuki asked.
"That’s a friend…"I had started to say.
Suddenly I felt my power flare. My power didn’t surface often but when it did it came in the form of a migraine, my head was pounding as if it had a jack hammer going off in it I could see Rowen look at me with a concerned expression on his face. Then I blacked out.
I found myself in a dark bedroom I looked around the room. It was mainly bare only the outline of a dresser, bookcase, desk, and bed remained on the dust covered walls. Rowen was sleeping fitfully in a restless sleep on a futon in the corner of the room. The futon was one of the only remaining pieces of furniture that remained in the room. The rest was sold no doubt to support Rowen’s fathers drinking problem. I walked over to the bundle on the futon. I placed my hand on his shoulder in an attempt to wake him up, to my surprise my hand went though him like he was a illusion or was it just me.
Just then the door to the room burst open and a man stood in the empty door way brandishing a leather belt. The man (no doubt Rowen’s father) was clad in a pair of dark Mediterranean blue boxers and a white tank top that was stained so much that it was gray with yellow spots. His cerulean blue hair was matted and unkempt and his eyes were blank with anger and self-loathing.
"GET UP YOU LAZY, GOOD FOR NOTHING, MAGGOT!!" Yelled the man. Rowen slowly started to sit up in bed, groaning and favoring his stiff muscles. Suddenly a loud crack caused Rowen to cry out in pain. Mr. Hashiba has struck his belt across Rowen’s back leaving a fresh open cut, that would become a future scar on the patch work of scars, slowly fading bruises, and other marks and abrasions on Rowen’s back.
"I’M PROMISING THIS TO YOU BOY," roared Mr. Hashiba as he struck Rowen across the back with the belt again and again. "THIS WILL SEEM LIKE A PICNIC COMPAIRED TO WHAT YOU WILL GET TO NIGHT. YOUR THE REASON YOUR MOTHER LEFT. SHE NEVER WANTED YOU. YOU WERE AND ACCSIDENT, IF SHE HADEN’T BEEN OVER 6 MONTHS WITH YOU I GLAD WOULD HAVE FILLED FOR AN ABORTION. YOU RUINED MY LIFE."
I couldn’t take it anymore, How could anyone say such things to their child. I was suddenly crying out in distress at watching my friend getting beaten in front of me, and yet being powerless to stop it. I didn’t care if anyone heard me or not, I wanted out of this nightmare. I wanted to live like a normal boy not be cursed with the so called ‘blessing’ of empathy. I could hear someone calling me, and the feel of something damp and cool against my forehead. "Saiji" the voice called "Saiji, please calm down pumpkin."
I slowly opened my eyes and found my mothers blue eyes gazing back with a mixture of worry and relief. "Saiji, honey, are you okay." Her golden hair pulled back into a lose pony tail. She was dabbing a damp washcloth against my for head. Mother always had a habit of using my Japanese name when she was either upset with my behavior or worried. I looked around and found myself back in my own bedroom. The cat who had been curled next to my head yawned and started a round of purring in an attempt at calming me down. Yayoi flounced into the room followed by Satsuki. Mother was already getting me into a sitting position.
"What happened?" I said as I placed a hand to my head in an attempt to still the throbbing.
"You were about to introduce your little friend to Satsuki, when you suddenly you got a migraine and fainted, little brother. I swear Rowen nearly had a heart attack. Then a few minuets ago you started screaming like a banshee " Yayoi explained. Satsuki crawled on to my bed and pulled me into a hug. I looked around again, suddenly I remembered, Rowen had come over today.
"Where’s…?" I started but mother cut me off.
"Where’s Rowen, your fathers taking him home." Mother said . I couldn’t believe it, they were sending him back home. Given, what I’ve seen his father does to him, was not something I would wish on anyone.
"It’s time you got some rest." Mother said as she ruffled my hair. She gathered my sisters and left the room leaving the door open enough for the cat to come in or out of the room. I lay back my body was saying "sleep", but my mind said "stay awake". Sleep concord, but not before I vowed on going over to Rowen’s house the next day. Little did I know something was about to happen that would change both my life as well as Rowen’s completely.
"Sage, hay Sage, ya home in there buddy?" I heard Ryo ask from the doorway of the living room. I glanced up at him. "You had me worried there, for a minute you had me thinking you were trapped in there." I shook my head an amusement then looked back up at him.
"Where’s Rowen?" I ask noticing that my blue haired brother-in-arms was absent.
"He’s resting up for the party tonight," Ryo said. "You know how wild Kento’s parties can get."
"Sound’s like a good idea," I said. "Kento’s last party was for my 19th birthday. I felt so tired afterward I almost started following Rowen’s sleeping habits." Ryo laughed at my statement. Low blood pressure or not, it was a known fact that Rowen, slept the most out of the five of us. Often, he stayed up late either reading or writing. Then, when he finally got to sleep, he would be practically comatose until noon at least.
I quietly climbed the stairs and down the hall to the room Rowen and I shared. Rowen was curled up in his bed, a small book bag hung on the knob of the door. The bag held a couple of books in it already. I walked my night-stand and opened the drawer, and pulled out several letters all of them were written by the other Ronin Warriors, Yuli and Mia. Mainly saying things that they couldn’t have said without bursting into tears. Then, I pulled out a foldable picture frame. The top of it said Best Friends Forever in brass letters on the top of the frame. The first picture was of Rowen and Me when we were 12. Both of us sitting on a hill in the park on a sunny day. Rowen was wearing a dark blue tank top and a pair of black denim shorts. I was wearing a light green T-shirt and a light pair of white cotton pants. The frame held a picture somewhat like the other one, except we were around 16 and the other three Ronin Warriors, Whiteblaze, Yuli and Mia were sitting around us. This I folded and put in the book bag along with the letters. The others must have picked out some photos as well, because I could feel them through the envelopes.
After I place the letters and photos in the bag where Rowen would find them I turned glanced at Rowen. He had long since healed from his ordeal with his father. There are times I still see that disturbing vision that I had so long ago, and every time, I am about as troubled by it as I was the first time. I don’t wake up screaming anymore, but I can’t really go back to sleep afterwards either.
One such night I awoke drenched in my own sweat. I glanced over at Rowen, and found him sleeping calmly, perfectly unaware of what was going on. Sighing, I got out of bed, threw on my bathrobe, and walked downstairs. Cye came down sometime later.
"Sage?" I heard him ask from the living room doorway. "I know you’re an early riser, but 1:30 in the morning is a bit ridiculous." I glanced up at him, he must have seen the troubled look on my face. Because soon he was sitting on the couch next to me. "So why are you down here anyway? I may sleep in the same room as Kento, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know when something is going on in the house." I sighed, debating whether to tell Cye everything about the visions, after all he was the warrior of trust. His name, Shin, practically meant trust. All the Ronin Warriors rarely kept secrets from one another but when we needed advise we went to Cye, because he understood the differences among each of us. I finally gave in and told him everything from that first day until now. Cye was shocked that Rowen’s father could even say such things to his own son like that. It was a small wonder Rowen had such a low self-esteem so many years ago.
It will be difficult to wake up in the morning and find Rowen not on the opposite side of the room. The hours seemed to pass all too quickly. Before I knew it, Cye and Ryo were waking us up and piling us into Mia’s car for the hour long drive to Yokohama.
When we got there Kento’s parents and siblings and my parents and sisters were waiting for us at Kento’s families restaurant. One would say that my older sister Yayoi is an even bigger snob then I am. I could see her from Mia’s car looking around the restaurant in disgust. In fact with the exception of Rowen, she never really liked any of my friends. Whenever Cye and Kento came over as a study group she would give me this look that said ‘Little brother, you can do better.’
The Ray Fhan and Date Families greeted their wayward children with open arms. We were ushered in to one of the banquet rooms where the meal went smoothly. Most of the dishes were Rowen’s favorites, such as green onion beef and garlic chicken. Cye, also let a couple of shrimp dishes be served without complaint. Mostly it was hard to order any seafood dishes when we were altogether because Cye, would always give a baleful look at who ever was ordering as if saying ‘must you’. The only thing that disturbed me was the fact Rowen was uncharacteristically silent.
After dinner Rowen and I bid farewell to my family. My mother told Rowen she had always thought of him as one of her children, and that he was welcome at our house anytime. The same went for Kento’s family as well.
"Hey little brother," I heard Yayoi tartly call to me. "Is the ‘Young Master’ going to grace us with his presence at the family dojo this Summer?" It took me a moment to think about it. My family and I had moved to Toyama three years before I met Rowen. So every summer my family and I would return to the Dojo in Miyagi. Grandfather would train me in Kendo and being the only current male heir to the Date clan I was his responsibility.
"Count on it." I said back then climbed into the jeep. I gave Kento a ‘you do you die’ look. The first time the other Ronin warriors(minus Rowen) had heard me being called the ‘Young Master’ Kento started teasing me about it.
When we returned home we had an hour before Rowen had to be taken to the airport. Ryo and Kento started loading Rowen’s bags and things into the Mia’s jeep. Rowen moved to one of the couches and sat down his head face turned toward the floor. Cye sat down next to him and I stood leaning against the wall.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" asked Cye.
"Yes," Rowen snapped. Cye was slightly taken aback, Rowen, had never needed to use that tone of voice before. "Well, actually no," Rowen said immediately regretting what he had said earlier. "Actually I don’t know what I want anymore." I caught sight of a tear rolling down the side of his face. "I mean I always wanted one of my parents to say they wanted to be a family for once. But instead I got a father that enjoyed beating the living daylights out of me and mother who never seemed to care because she was always on assignment. Yet how do I know that some evil force won’t come and attack the mortal realm when I’m away?" Cye wrapped his arms around Rowen and pulled him into a comforting hug.
"It’s hard for the both of us to say good-bye" said Cye tearfully "I will be in college after Summer vacation." It was then that all of us started talking of fond memories and sad moments. I don’t believe a single Kleenex was spared from being soaked in tears. Soon we once again were packed into Mia’s jeep and were on our way to Nareta Airlines. The trip was silent, everyone was looking out the window’s at the scenery as the daylight dimmed and the night arose. The airport was not surprisingly crowded. Just about every terminal was crammed full of tourists, students and people going to America to visit relatives or vise versa. The stewardesses and stewards were announcing that anyone who was willing to give up their seats to someone will get their next trip free of charge to all packed flights. We all waited at the gate G45 until the boarding calls were being made.
"I guess this is good-bye." Rowen said
"Never, we can still write or chat on instant messages ," said Cye "So it’s never good-bye, just So long for now."
"Yha," said Kento. "Who knows, if we are ever in America, we’ll look ya up dude."
"We’ll miss you Rowen" Yuli said, giving Rowen a hug. Farewell hugs were exchanged. Rowen took his armor sphere out of his pocket and handed it to Ryo, then he picked up his book bag bowed farewell and entered the gate. We all gathered at the window to watch the Plane take off. Every so often glancing at the gate just in case Rowen came running out saying he couldn’t leave us behind. This was not to be, because the plane soon moved from the gate and took off with Rowen to the darkening sky. I suddenly felt a familiar sensation that I hadn’t felt in years. To me it was like a piece of my self was suddenly ripped from my body. I could tell the others were feeling it to because Cye suddenly grew pale, Ryo became dizzy and had to sit down, and Kento was not crowding his way to the closest Cinnibon or restaurant with in the terminal. I guess it was the link between the armors that kept me from spacing out completely.
When we got home Ryo placed Rowen’s armor ball next to Rowen’s bed. The room seemed so empty with out Rowen’s books laying about the room. Or without Rowen trying to sleep whenever possible. Ryo noticed I had picked up a picture of the five of us in our Sub-armor holding hands. In every picture, or memory or battle or whatever Rowen and I were always side by side or together one way or another .
"The stars are beautiful tonight," Ryo broke the heavy silence as he gazed out the window. "I wonder if Rowen is enjoying them as well and knows how much we miss him?"
I gazed out the window and caught sight of what I thought to be the rep-tail lights of an airplane.
"I’m sure he does Ryo," I said as tears started to fill my eyes once again and made droplets on the picture frame I was holding. "I’m sure he does."
Authors note: Konichi wa. I know that Cye doesn’t really go to college until the third OAV, but the American version doesn’t specify the ages of the Ronin’s. And many people believe them to be around 16 to 17 years old during the TV series. I understand if some parts in this story are confusing such as what’s going on with Sage and Rowen. This is something I will try and clear up in the next chapter of this story. Look out for Friends In Need Part 2 ‘Life’s Labors Lost.’ Send all flames, questions, story ideas, concepts, or anecdotes to firstname.lastname@example.org.