Shattered

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
It has been four years since our Priestess, Akane, summoned the eight guardians and defeated the king of demons, Akuram, with our help, restoring balance to our homeland. However, not everything is perfect in the world.

Submitted: April 13, 2017

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Submitted: April 13, 2017

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Shattered

It has been four years since our Priestess, Akane, summoned the eight guardians, Yorihisa, Shimon, Tenma, Me, Yasuaki, Takamichi, Eisen, and finally Tomomasa who were all given pearls and then tasked to defend Akane and support her. Because of this connection, all guardians have a mental link to one another and can speak telepathically to each other, including Akane. In the beginning it was very different then it is now, with all of the guardians trying to keep secrets from one another and staying away from our metal link unless it was absolutely necessary. But after some fails, Akane defeated the king of demons, Akuram with our help, and restored balance to our home. However the defeat of Akuram was something us guardians had been slightly dreading, for the truth was our beloved Priestess wasn’t of this world but another, and when Akuram was vanquished she was given the opportunity to go back to her own world. Because of this, we all tearfully thought we would have to say goodbye to Akane as well as our fellow guardians Tenma and Shimon, who, along with Tenma’s sister Ran, were also part of Akane’s world. They had come with her when she was kidnaped by Akuram and forcibly dragged here, to another world so different from her own. But to everyone’s great relief and joy Akane desired to stay here, making Tenma and Shimon stay as well. Tenma’s sister, however, went back to her own world and I believe she is living happily there. Now we are constantly together, wanting to be with one another and that is where our pairs comes into play. When we were first chosen as guardians, our selective god had also chosen a partner for us, another guardian who balanced us. Between the two partners nothing is hidden, for we are not only telepathic, but can also feel each other’s emotions. There is nothing like being able to have a Brother who you can hide nothing from, and who hides nothing from you. When one of the pair is in pain or is sad, then the other is right there to help or comfort if wanted. We can never be fully separated for ever since Akuram, the king of demons, left this world distance doesn’t effect our metal link. Thanks to that, we can communicate through vast distance with not only our chosen partner, but all of the Guardians. However, not everything is perfect in the world. As of late, more and more demons have started appearing and attacking people, ravaging villages and going on rampages through forests and lands that were normally peaceful and full of thriving life. Naturally it’s our job to defeat these monsters and, with the help of my fellow guardians and Akane, I feel that we are steadily working toward the peace and quiet we all thought would come with the defeat of Akuram.

****

The day was warm and sunny so Akane and I were relaxing in the warm summer heat, letting our bodies tan. Suddenly, I feel a blast of fear followed by anger through my mental link and worried I bolt up and run towards where I know the other guardians would be, back at the main house.

“Just another rouge demon.” I mutter to myself. “A quick one person job since we have gotten stronger.”

As I get closer to the main garden I see Eisen also running towards the garden with an excited look on his face. Reaching the garden where I felt the others, I enter to see everyone already there, my partner Shimon saying something.

“It’s just a small squabble at the town. Nothing too dangerous. I can take this one by myself.” Simon says, taking a few steps towards the house for his spare blade.

“Shimon, you are still healing from the side wound you got the last time you fought on your own. It could slow you down in battle and you could get hurt.” I calmly say, my hand shooting out to grab our youngest brother by his shoulder. “Besides you know how the villagers act around you.” I whisper under my breath, Shimon’s eyes filling with shame.

“True. It would be in everyone’s interests if you stayed and watched over Akane instead.” Eisen adds, his face full of sympathy.

“Wait a moment Eisen. I am not letting anyone go without me.” Akane interrupts, crossing her arms over her chest. “What if more than a few demons are there? You know not one of you is strong enough to fight more than two demons on your own.”

“I know. But you should rest. You can’t overwork yourself.” Eisen says, looking lovingly at Akane.  I roll my eyes, wondering why they were acting like a pair of lovebirds now, when Eisen had been pining after our Priestess for ages.

“Now who is going to take care of the demon? It could have eaten plenty of people already.” I snap, irritated.

“Why don’t you and Tenma go?” Tomomasa says out of nowhere.

“Gahh! Don’t startle me like that Tomomasa!” I spit, even more annoyed that I didn’t hear or feel him come into the clearing.

“That sounds fine. Then you and the others can watch Akane and the house right?” Tenma asks, turning to Tomomasa.

“Sure.” Tomomasa responds, shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t mind.”

“Good. Let's get going, Inori. I want to get back here for dinner.” Tenma says, already walking away.

“Oh, so my opinion doesn’t matter?” I mutter under my breath, following Tenma anyway.

The village was on fire by the time we get there, but thankfully all of the surviving villagers were able to escape. I followed Tenma, both of us not sensing the demon till it attacks us, giving Tenma a good blow to his side.

"Tenma!" I shout, reaching out my hand. "You'll pay for hurting my Brother demon!" I send a blast of fire at it, causing the demon to fly a few feet in the air, landing onto a house. "You ok, brother?" I ask, bending down.

"Yeah. He missed my heart. I think."

"You would be dead if he didn't. Moron."

"Hey! You didn't sense it either.” Tenma shouts, giving me a playful glare.

"True, but you're my elder aren't you? You're supposed to be stronger than I am." I tease, a playful smile and glint in my eyes.

"Please. Besides I'm hurt. Help me up." Tenma reaches up, his hands extended like a child. I sigh and pick him up, letting him lean on my shoulder. But he gently pushes me away, a small grunt escaping his clenched teeth.

"Tenma, let me see the wound. I need to know whether to call Yasuaki or not."

"Don't. I'm fine." He turns away, hiding his wounded side. I narrow my eyes, knowing full well from the blood staining the ground and me that he wasn’t. Sighing, I reach out to forcibly see his wound when I hear a roar, the black demon having recovered and now it pounces, it’s deadly claws reaching for Tenma.

“No you don’t!” I shout, quickly intercepting it and send it rolling from a blast of my fire. But it quickly gets up and splits into three, all four demons letting out shivery hisses. With a snarl I charge them, Tenma right by my side as we attack it together, our minds connected so we could each deliver just the right blow at the right time. Flipping back, I gather all of my energy in the palms of my hands, releasing it in the form of a mighty phonics that engulfs the demons in a sea of fire till they disappear, retreating back to their rightful realm.

“Tenma are you alright?” I ask, turning around to see my Brother hobbled over, his face ash white and blood dripping down his side.

“Tenma!” I shout, running forward and catching him before he could fall. “Tenma…if you were this injured you should have told me!” I hiss, struggling to get his arm over my shoulder.

“I…didn’t want to..worry you. It’s nothing…” Tenma gasps, his face scrunched up in pain.

I just glare at him, letting him know from my enraged eyes just what I thought of that. Making sure I had a good hold on him we begin the slow walk back to the main house.

Yasuaki. Tenma’s badly hurt. Meet us at the gate.

A moment later I feel the gentle brush of my brother’s mind, his words slightly weak. Very well. Yorihisa will meet you on the way. It’s better if Tenma’s partner is there after all.

I inwardly flinch, knowing full well Tenma might not have gotten hurt if he had fought with his partner, the one the eastern God Seiryu had chosen along with him.

 

Eventually we reach the main gate, Yorihisa having caught up with us halfway and now carrying Tenma over his shoulder muttering how idiotic he was. I snicker under my breath, watching the great warrior being carried like a child as we walk over to where Yasuaki is waiting, his usual scowl on his face.

“Lay him on the ground. It’s best if I treat him right away.” He snaps, helping Yorihisa lay Tenma down onto the cold stone. Taking a breath, Yasuaki rests his hands on Tenma’s injured side and as he closes his eyes his hands begin to glow with a golden light, making me smile as I feel the warmth of my brother’s energy. A few minutes later it stops, Yasuaki removing his hands and opening his eyes, his green and orange orbs flicking to Tenma’s orange ones, waiting. With a grown Tenma opes them, sitting up and even getting up with some help from me.

“Thanks Yasuaki. Your magic does wonders.” Tenma breathes, looking at his now perfectly healed side.

“No problem. Rest a day.” With that Yasuaki turns around and disappears, heading in the direction of his personal hot spring.

“He isn’t a man of many words.” I mutter, walking with Yorihisa and Tenma, who were walking hand in hand together.

“Touching your chosen partner helps us heal.” Tenma explains, noticing my quizzical look at their intertwined hands. Huh. So that’s why I feel stronger when Shimon is touching me.

“I find no pleasure in holding hands with an Idiot who not only got himself hurt, but also didn’t tell his fighting partner until he collapsed.” Yorihisa coldly says, but I could see his hand tighten around Tenma’s. Letting out a snicker I run ahead of the two, eager to see my own partner, Shimon, and our Priestess. Reaching the main doors I slip inside and am greeted by Shimon, his warm smile making me smile in return.

“Welcome back. I heard that Tenma was injured. Will he be alright?” Shimon asks, coming over.

“Yeah, that idiot will be fine. Yasuaki said he just needs a day of rest.” I respond, letting Shimon intertwine our hands, finding comfort in his touch.  

“Good. Akane is furious. She keeps saying that if we had let her go, Tenma wouldn’t have been hurt.” Shimon reports calmly, walking with me toward where we could hear arguing voices. “The other’s are trying to calm her down.”

I give a quick nod before opening the door to chaos, nearly getting hit by a flying bowl.

“What is going on in here?” I snap, glaring at my fellow guardians who were all hovering over Akane, their hands holding her arms tight.

“The other’s won’t let me go and help defend my own homeland.” Akane shouts, turning to glare at me. “I am sick and tired of the people I care about getting hurt because of them. If you let me go, I can summon the Golden Dragon and erase all of them!”

“Priestess please try and calm down. If you do that it will put too much of a strain on your body.” Eisen says, trying to calm her. “Please just leave this kind of thing to us.”

“Yeah Priestess. Leave it to the ones who were made to fight.” I say, walking over to her and resting my hand on her shoulder, a confident smile on my face. Akane sighs, looking away.

“Fine. But go before Tenma realizes you’re gone. I don’t want him to fight.”

I nod, fully agreeing with her. “Alright. We’ll go as soon as Yasuaki is far enough from Tenma for him not to suspect anything.”

Akane closes her eyes, defeat clearly written all over her face.

“Hey. Today was a small mistake that won’t happen again.” Eisen soothes, trying to comfort our Priestess while the others let go of her, most saying they would be in the main room, waiting. “Don’t worry so much.”

Akane nods, letting Eisen comfort her.

“Inori, come sit with me.”

I turn my head at my partner’s voice, turning to see him on a tatami mat with his legs crossed, his usual warm and kind smile on his face. I nod, walking over to Shimon and sitting down, laying my head in his lap and letting him gently brush my hair.

“Why do you always carry that brush around with you?” I ask, looking up into Shimon perfect sea blue eyes, his golden hair falling into them.

“Since I can’t really fight, I have to stay here most of the time and I know I am a big hinderance on you and the others. So,” He says, almost a motherly look on his face as he pulls the hairbrush through my red locks, “I try to do everything I can to be of help here, and if that means always smiling and carrying around a hair brush for you, then I’ll gladly do it. Does that answer your question?” Shimon ends, looking deep into my scarlet eyes.

“Yeah. Thanks.” I mutter, unable to stop myself from blushing. Shimon lightly laughs, returning to brushing my hair till Takamichi enters the room, saying that there was a group of about ten demons terrorizing a forest about ten miles from here. Nodding I get up, Shimon standing up as well and following me to the main door where all the other guardian’s were waiting, Tenma standing next to Yorihisa with a pissed expression on his face.

“Sorry. When I tried to leave he woke up and refused to stay.” Yorihisa explains, a defeated look on his face and in his tone.

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing, all of the others blinking in surprise and a few even stepping away from me.

“Ah-ah so funny.” I gasp, wiping away the tears pooling in my eyes. “Of course you can’t hide anything from your partner. It was going to end in failure from the beginning.” I snicker, my eyes full of mirth.

“Well, as soon as you are done laughing we should go. Preferably as soon as possible.” Yasuaki says, lightly tapping his foot.

“Ok. Sorry.” I apologize, waving the others forward. “Go ahead of me. I’ll catch up in a minute.”

Nodding they all head out, Tenma and Takamichi giving me and Shimon sympathetic looks as they passed us. Ignoring them I crush my partner to my chest, giving him a good squeeze before letting go, gently touching our foreheads together.

“I’ll be back. I promise. ” I whisper, touching the side of Shimon’s face tenderly before backing up, giving him a quick wave as I run off, wanting to catch up with the other’s and finish as quickly as possible so Shimon wouldn’t have that sad look on his face for very long.

A few hours later we arrive atop a small hill overlooking the forest where the demons were spotted. As we start to descend I could smell smoke, the sky darkening and making our path more dangerous. Reaching the entrance of the forest we pause, our senses overwhelmed with the stench of miasma and smoke.

“We should split into pairs and search, we’ll find the demons faster that way.” I suggest, turning to my companions who nod, Tenma and Yorihisa stepping closer to me.

“Very well. Tomomasa, Yasuaki and I will search the west part of the forest.” Takamichi says, pointing to the thickest part of the forest. “You, Tenma and Yorihisa will search the south part. Alright?”

Tenma, Yorihisa and I nod in agreement, heading off in the direction Takamichi had pointed in. Entering the forest I was immediately unnerved by the silence, the feeling of the place unnatural and creepy.

“Be careful everyone. We are at a disadvantage when we can’t see our foe.” Yorihisa calls, his voice already sounding distant. Blinking I realize I am surrounded by smoke, my companions shapes lost in the gray.

Narrowing my eyes I plunge forward, letting a blast of my fire light my way through the growing smoke.

“Yorihisa! Tenma!” I call, trying to use my mind link only to be strongly blocked. What is with this forest? I think, my heart starting to beat faster as I realize I am completely alone. Suddenly I hear the snapping of twigs and I freeze, my eyes darting around but unable to see much of anything in the thick smoke. A few seconds later I hear footsteps heading in my direction and warily step back, getting down into a defensive crouch. Building up my energy I wait till I think the noise maker is right in front of me before I pounce, letting my fire burst through my hands and surround my foe in blazing ropes of flame.

“Ahh! Let me go!”

A female voice screams, letting out a few girly cries. Stepping closer I gaze upon the person my fire had trapped, looking into the scarlet eyes of a young girl.

***

Back at the main house, the peaceful atmosphere is interrupted by the shattering of glass, Akane and Eisen running toward where they heard the noise. Slipping through the main room and out into the servants hallway they find Shimon collapsed on the ground, shards of sharp glass scattered around him.

“Shimon! Shimon, what’s wrong?” Akane cries, walking quickly but carefully over to her friend, bending down and gently shaking his side. “Wake up!”

But Shimon stays unresponsive, his eyes closed and face pale. Without warning Eisen stagers, his hand shooting out, bracing himself on the wall to keep from falling.

“Eisen?” Akane tentatively asks, fear making her voice shake. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Inori…” Eisen breathes, the blood drained from his face. “He…Inori’s dying.”

***

The Priestess guardians think to regroup, all running toward where they thought the entrance to be, the smoke oddly not touching outside of the trees.

“Is everyone here?” Takamichi calls, running over to his fellow guardians.

“Everyone but Inori.” Tomomasa responds, his eyes searching for their red-haired companion.

Just as Takamichi opens his mouth to question Tenma and Yorihisa a blood curling scream echoes through the forest, all recognizing the voice.

“Inori!” Tenma shouts, running back into the trees with his companions right behind him. “Inori!”

“Inori answer us!”

The guardians call, all five searching desperately for their friend for hours till they are exhausted, their voices hoarse from yelling.

“It’s impossible to see anything through his damn smoke, and for some strange reason I can’t get through to Inori at all!” Tenma snarls, breathing heavily.

“This place is very dense with dark miasma, so it’s only natural only chosen partners can mind speak.” Yasuaki responds, his usual perfect face shining with sweat, his green hair covered in twigs and leaves.

“Can’t you do anything Yasuaki? You're stronger than all of us when it comes to magic.” Takamichi asks, his eyes slightly begging his younger companion. Sighing Yasuaki closes his eyes and holds up his hands. Muttering a few words he moves his arms around, seeming to search for something. Finally his arms stop, and opening his eyes he points south.

“Thanks.” Tenma says over his shoulder as he runs off, heading in the southern direction Yasuaki had pointed in. After a few minutes of walking through dense forest Tenma comes to a small space with a tall tree. Seeing a figure laying by the tree he picks up his pace, calling out Inori’s name as he gets closer.

“Inori you moron you had everyone so worried-“ Tenma abruptly cuts off,his orange eyes going wide in horror as he screams, falling back onto his butt.

“What is it Tenma? What’s wr-“ Yasuaki calls, hurrying over but closing his mouth in shock as he lays his eyes on what had scared his fellow guardian so badly. For there laid Inori but with his form twisted, his chest barring horrifying gashes and his arms nearly torn all the way off with a few of his fingers missing.

“Is that…Inori?” Yorihisa breathes, his hand shaking as he touches his brother’s cheek, now stained with dark blood.

“How horrible.” Tomomasa whispers, looking over his brother’s fallen body. “What would do such a terrible…” He pauses,  his head shooting up as he hisses, his eyes narrowing into slits.

“It’s still here.” He mutters, drawing his blade with a flash. With a slash of his blade something falls, hitting the ground with a thump. Before it could even move there is a dagger in it’s neck, a dark look in the usual peaceful eyes of Takamichi as he severs its head, the vile thing disintegrating before it even touched the ground.

“What was that?” Yorihisa asks, Takamichi just shaking his head.

“I don’t know and don’t really care. The only point was that it killed our brother, and that sin alone can never be forgiven. Now-“ He breathes, his eyes filling with tears, “We should take Inori’s body back. Yasuaki, could you do a spell that would keep In…his body from decaying? Just until we can bury him.” Takamichi asks, unable to keep his tears from dripping down his face.

“No problem. But I can’t guarantee it will last until we return home. I don’t have much strength without Eisen.” He responds, bending down over Inori’s body and after saying a few words, gently picking him up, cradling him like a child.

“Come now. It’s time to go home, Brother.” Tenma breathes, walking along side Yasuaki as the five guardians retrace their original path, their steps heavy and tears full of grief all the way back.

 

Four hours later the guardians return home exhausted and are welcomed back by their Priestess Akane and fellow guardians Eisen and Shimon, Eisen having to hold his brother up he was trembling so. Upon sight of Inori’s body Eisen goes white, his hands loosening their hold on Shimon who falls to the ground, his whole body shaking. Akane bursts into tears at the sight of her dead friend, throwing herself at Tenma who wraps her up in a warm hug, murmuring soothing words in her ear. Walking over to Shimon Tomomasa scoops up the young boy and carries him inside. Shimon’s eyes never leave his partner’s dead form until the door closes behind them, symbolizing to the grieving boy the great gates of death, his partner’s soul entering the world of the dead and leaving him behind. All alone, in a world that discriminated against him because of his golden hair which was the same color as a demon’s. But if I close my eyes, Shimon thinks, barely recognizing that Tomomasa was setting him down in his bed, then this nightmare will be over and Inori will be here, by my side with his warmth and laughing face, asking why I am so sad. Tears flow down Simon’s face, his eyes seeing his other half, his partner in so many ways. Yes…if I just close my eyes, I won’t be left behind. I’ll be right by his side, just like I was meant to be ever since we were both chosen by the great Southern God Suzaku all those years ago…

***

“I am worried about Shimon. He hasn’t even moved much for the past two weeks.” Akane says sadly, nearly dropping the plate she was washing.

“I know, but Akane dear you have to understand how much pain that boy is in.” Tomomasa explains gently, helping Akane with the dishes since the maids were taking some time off to grieve. “Losing your chosen partner is like losing half of yourself, and those two were especially close. Right now Shimon just needs time.”

“Time, and a whole lot of affection from those around him.” Takamichi interjects, walking into the kitchen and over to his companion and Priestess, taking the dish from her with a look. Sighing the girl steps away, allowing her guardians to take over the cleaning. Humming she goes over to the room not far from the kitten, peeking into the room to see her friend lying on his bed, motionless as usual. Sighing remorsefully she steps away from the door, going to the main room where Yasuaki was deep in prayer. Setting down next to him she joins him in his praying, wishing with all of her heart the same thing all of the guardians and maids were wishing: that Shimon would wake up soon and be like he used to be, smiling with all of the brightness of the world they were living in.

***

Blinking Shimon opens his eyes to harsh brightness, groaning as it hurts his weak eyes. Rolling over he thinks as to why he’s in his bed, trying to remember. With a gasp he recalls everything, collapsing in the hallway after feeling his soul split, the sight of his partner’s torn and broken body in Yasuaki’s arms. The pain and anguish he had felt as he was carried away, separated from his other half. Gasping he curls into a ball, waves of agony pulsing through him from his center, the missing pieces of his body aching. Shimon screams and cries, banging his fists against the wall like a child having a tantrum.  At the sound the other guardians come running, their companion’s screams slashing their own hearts like daggers, their own grief pushing the blades even deeper.

“Shimon. Shimon please calm down. You’re hurting yourself!” Akane cries, running over to her friend and trying to hold his hands down, getting blood on her hands from the small cuts on his palms. With a small cry Akane lets Shimon go, falling back a few steps with light burns on her hands. Murmuring soothingly Eisen leads Akane out of the room, Yasuaki taking her place by Shimon’s side.

Hold Shimon down on his back so that he’s facing me. Yasuaki mind speaks, Tomomasa and Yorihisa quickly obeying. After a small struggle that left scratches on Tomomasa’s face the two men manage to get Shimon on his back, his blue eyes wild and unfocused, letting out occasional screams. Stepping up to Shimon’s bed Yasuaki murmurs a few words before gently touching the withering boy’s right hand and forehead, pressing down while seeming to chant something the others couldn’t understand. A few seconds latter Shimon’s eyes close, his body going limp. Smiling in relief Tomomasa  steps back and grabs Takamichi’s hand, gently squeezing it. Turning to Yorihisa Yasuaki whispers to watch Shimon and to call for him if he woke up. Nodding Yorihisa pulls up a chair next to Shimon’s bed, Tenma doing the same, the two seasoned warriors eyes never leaving their brother’s sleeping form.

Days pass all with darkness and fear, the guardians taking turns watching their brother’s bedside and calling for Yasuaki whenever he woke up, always screaming and thrashing about in his bed like something was attacking him. Akane wasn’t aloud in Shimon’s room and only could watch from a distance with Eisen by her side, both their gazes filled with overwhelming concern.

 

Four months after Inori’s death and the main shrine is as dark and depressing as it was when Inori had just died, a menacing cloud seeming to always be above the old home. Inside it was no different, all of the guardians on edge, waiting for the heartbreaking howls that signaled the awakening of their friend. Akane too was unusually quiet, her bright and cheerful smile gone and her forest green eyes always seeming to be red and puffy or full of tears. And time passes like that, the future seeming to hold nothing but sadness and misery for those that were chosen by the Gods, their days bleak and exhausting. But one night when the moon was full, on the exact date that Inori and Shimon were chosen by Suzaku to help defend Akane and save their home, Yasuaki feels a pull in his mind. The sorcerer had been meditating in his hot spring, the water’s magic always helping him connect to the stars way above. Now a fiery presence enters his mind, brushing against his subconsciousness and pulling him out toward his house. Getting out of the water Yasuaki follows the mystical pull, past the front gates and into the house, past the many rooms and even through the main room where most of the guardians were sleeping, wanting to be as close to Shimon as was allowed. There the pull stops, right outside Shimon’s room. Sliding open the door Yasuaki enters, seeing his companion asleep as always, his chest moving from his weak breaths.

Call him. A powerful voice echoes in Yasuaki’s mind, the creature’s will wanting him to touch the sleeping boy. Call to him.

ObeyingYasuaki raises his arms and lightly rests them on Shimon’s forehead and right hand, calling to him through the bond all those chosen by the four gods had.

***

Inori…I am all alone now, abandoned in this hostile world, a place I was never meant to be in. Without Inori, what is my purpose in life? I can’t fight or use my powers without him, and while I love Akane and everyone, they do not need me. They have their own partners, and Akane has Tenma. I was always just following behind, acting as their shadow while they were the people. I was always a burden, I am only a hindrance to them. And now, I don’t have Inori anymore…my other half, my opposite in almost every way. It hurts…I don’t want to exist without him, I don’t want to live without his presence by my side. Let me die…Let me die…

Shimon.

Die…I only want to die…

Shimon!

I blink, light starting to appear around my vision. I thought I could hear…

Shimon!

Inori! Inori.. I call, unable to move, but longing to see him with all my heart. Inori…where are you? I can hear your voice, but I cannot see you. Where are you?

Here. Over here!

Where? There is only a little light, everything else is dark.

I am right here, you idiot. You do not need light to see me. Just as I don’t need light to see you.

I gasp, gentle fingers brushing my cheek, a  soft hand lightly squeezing my own.

How? I cannot see without light. I am not like you, I can’t summon fire.

I know. That isn’t what I am asking. You gift has always been with the earth, your senses strong. Use that. Feel me, and you will realize I have been right beside you all this time.

I obey, closing my eyes and reaching out with my mind, searching for the slight touch of another. Finding it I grab hold of it, ensnaring it in my mind and pulling it in. Only to remember him, his touch, the way he laughed wholeheartedly when amused, how his hair felt under my fingers. The glow of his fire, warm and protective, how he made me feel complete in my heart and soul. And just how much I loved him, how much time I had wanted us to be together, forever together like we were meant to be.

But Shimon that’s just it. I never left you, I was and will always be right beside you forever if you would just let go. Realize that while my physical form may not be with you, my spirit, our soul is forever inside you. After all, we are two half of the same whole, never apart. Just like all of the other guardians. I love you, Shimon.

I could feel the tender touch of his kiss on my forehead before he’s gone, disappearing in a flash of red.

***

Yasuaki groans, his strength starting to reach its limit. Finally he can hold up the spell no longer and lets it go, the God’s connection with Shimon snapped. A few seconds later a small phoenix lands on Yasuaki’s shoulder, the fire red bird gazing down at Shimon.

Were you able to speak with him? Yasuaki’s asks, connecting his mind with the Southern God’s.

Yes, thank you. The boy was so worried about him, always pestering me to see him. I never got any rest these past few months. The Southern God Suzaku says, seeming to sigh.  He’s satisfied now though, so I think I shall go back. I don’t like to stay too long.

Very well. Thank you for coming. Yasuaki responds, gently walking out of Shimon’s room and out into the guardian. Gently taking the phoenix from his shoulder he whispers “Take care of our friend.” in it’s ear before throwing it, the bird quickly taking to the skies and with a call, it disappears.

***

The next morning Simon wakes up and is quiet, his golden eyes full of tears and his thin form shaking but not a word comes out. Instead he struggles to get up, extremely weak from the months of doing nothing but sleeping.

Everyone. Help me get up. Shimon mind speaks, his voice very faint and seeming to take a lot of effort. In seconds Tenma and Yorihisa run into the room, having just returned from a small attack on a nearby forest. Tenma carefully helps his friend sit up while Yorihisa fluffs his pillows and puts them behind him, allowing Shimon to be able to sit up without much effort. Nodding his thanks, Shimon notices that all of the others are outside his door, their anxious eyes watching his every move.

“Do you want anything? I could get some food for you.” Tenma offers, trying not to stare at Shimon’s dangerously thin form.

No…not hungry. He responds, shaking his head.

“Are you sure? You haven’t eaten anything in a long time and…”

“Tenma.” Yorihisa interrupts, giving his partner a look. “Just call us if you need anything.” Yorihisa says softly, giving Shimon a warm smile before turning around, shooing everyone away from his door.

 

A few days later Yasuaki examines Shimon, the young boy looking up at him as the golden glow surrounds his body. His ocean blue eyes rest on Eisen, just a few steps away from Yasuaki and they fill with such grief and envy that Yasuaki stops, covering Shimon’s eyes with his hand.

“Don’t let what you don’t have control you. He is gone, and you need to accept that and move on. It’s what Inori would have wanted.”

Shimon nods, his tears hidden by Yasuaki’s hand and his mind flicking back to what Inori had said in his dream.  Realize that while my physical form may not be with you, my spirit, our soul is forever inside you. After all, we are two half of the same whole, never apart. Now I realize what he was trying to say. Shimon thinks, feeling the heat of Yasuaki’s magic. Live. He wants me to live.

 

Later the sorcerer returns to the main room where everyone was, Akane running over to Eisen who pulls her over to some cushions and sits down with Akane on his lap.

“Shimon can no longer speak, and I doubt that he ever will again. Yasuaki explains, sitting down next to Eisen. “The scars he has obtained will take a long time to heal, but since he has awoken and can speak through his mind he should be able to recover.”

“So what you're saying is that Shimon just has to want to live?” Akane asks, turning to look the guardian in his orange and green eyes.

“Yes.”

At this everyone takes a relieved breath, all thinking that with time, Shimon would heal. Five months of tense waiting and worrying slowly fading as little by little Shimon returns. He starts to eat two weeks after awakening and could get up and walk around a month later. Three months later he was given the ok by Yasuaki to even be able to go outside and help vanquish demons though always with more than one fellow guardian by his side.

A year after Inori’s death Shimon was the same as he had been before his partner’s death, though he never seemed to be able to speak again, and his eyes still always carried a small sadness in them. But what mattered most was that he was alive and well, enjoying the rest of his life with his close friends who became something like family. But every spring, when the moon was full Shimon would go out into the night and bathe in Yasuaki’s hot spring, the sorcerer strangely allowing it. He would slip into the warm water and think of nothing but Inori, his fiery red hair and bright scarlet eyes, his stubbornness and quick temper, his loud laughter whenever something amused him. Finally he thought about how much he loved and missed him, but also how much he was thankful to Inori for showing him the brightness of this new world he had suddenly found himself into. And as he gazed up at the glistening stars he remembered that he was never alone, for in truth Inori and him were one and the same, two halves of the same whole. Perhaps they couldn’t see each other when the sky was bright and the sun shining but under the full moon and glistening stars they were together, enjoying their memories as one.


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