The forest was quiet.

The leaves overhead cast a shifting web of shadows upon the forest floor, yet the stone at the center of the clearing always seemed to be in a ray of sunlight. The black visor placed on top of it reflected the trees' stirrings, winking in the light.

A boy knelt before the stone, eyes closed and head bowed. Aside from the rustling of the leaves and his near-silent breathing, there wasn't a sound.

And then, his communicator started vibrating on his wrist.

Xiao quietly mourned the death of the tranquility for a moment before he tapped on the communicator and the image of a boy with messy red hair was projected into the air. "Hey Xiao! Where are you?" the redhead asked. Judging from the background, Kai was probably somewhere in the airspace above the city. In response, Xiao tilted his wrist slightly to allow Kai a view of the forest.

"A forest? ...Oh," Kai said, realizing exactly which forest Xiao was in. "...Give me a second, then." The projection cut off, and Xiao hugged his knees to his chest as he waited.

Xiao counted thirty-seven seconds before he heard the rustle of leaves and Kai landing with a thump behind him. He decided not to turn around as Kai climbed to his feet, saying nothing until Kai finally broke the rather tense silence with a cough and a "Um... hi."

Kai, unsure of himself. That was new. As usual, however, Xiao continued to remain silent until Kai took a breath and said, "Happy birthday, Xiao."

That got Xiao to turn around. That was right, he realized - November 13, the day he was revived from the Black Stone. With the others having all been revived on July 8th, however, he celebrated his birthday with them on that day. Not having a day dedicated to just him suited him just fine. So why was Kai...

"I know this is probably really weird but I have a gift for you," Kai said. "Not from me," he added hurriedly. "It's from Kalo."

Xiao took the proffered package, but it wasn't until Kai had already flown away before he fully processed the words.

Kalo...

Xiao carefully opened the box, removing the note within and unfolding it, smoothing out the creases as best as he could. The neat, precise handwriting as well as the signature at the bottom assured him that it had, indeed, been Kalo who had penned the note. Having no idea what to think or feel, he began to read.


Xiao,

If you are reading this, then I am not there to celebrate your birthday with you. For that, I am truly sorry.

...Wow, what a depressing opening.

I did know that this would come. With you and the rest of the Heroes being nigh-immortal for various reasons, and me, as you probably know by now, having to burn my life away to fight or do almost anything except the simplest of tasks, this result was inevitable. (By the way, don't you dare blame yourself. I knew the risks and potential outcomes. I chose to fight for this planet out of my own free will.) (I do hope I went out with a bang, at least.)

As arrogant as this statement probably sounds, I know you still mourn me. That's fine. (If you don't mourn me, that's fine too, really. Might even be better, all things considered.) But please, please do not lose yourself in grief for me. Remember that there are many, many people looking up to you, and you still have Doctor and the other Heroes with you. Consider this my final wish - remember me, but continue your life, continue fighting for your - our, perhaps - planet.

I could go on, reminisce about shared moments, but that would make this even more pointless and cheesy than it already is. Therefore, I shall end this here.

I will be watching over you from among the stars. Make me proud to be able to say that I was once your partner in battle.

~Kalo, TC9527
63rd General of Planet Adria

P.S. I got you a gift, hope you like it. You need more of a challenge. :)


Kai returned just as the sun was beginning to set, approaching so quietly that Xiao didn't notice his presence until he was standing right over him. "...Are you okay?" Kai asked, biting his lip slightly as he anxiously studied Xiao's face.

Xiao nodded. The note was safely tucked away in his pocket, though the gift had to be put in one of Doctor's virtual storage spaces. The 9x9 looked more like a mosaic than a Rubik's cube, but he knew he would figure it out soon enough. He had time, after all.

"...Race you home?" Kai tentatively suggested.

Xiao shrugged slightly, but teleported away nonetheless. Kai couldn't help but grin, and he flew up out of the trees.


A/N: Hm. Could be worse, I suppose.

Based off an idea I got after reading a scenario on the Happy Heroes forums. Sadly, I don't remember who posted the thing I read, but this here is mostly my idea. This is also different from that (pretty awful) thing that I've written before under the same title, that some of you might know. (Though if you're reading this, you've probably figured that out by now.)

Feel free to leave a comment/suggestion/review!