Disclaimer: I own Isaiah, Anne and Locke. No one else.
Anne woke up the next morning, still feeling a bit afraid. Two people had appeared during daddy's Trial that looked like her daddy, but they were different. There was a big boy, a few years older than her, and a man. She didn't like the man. He was as mean to Daddy as the Masks were. Why had Daddy been taking a Trial? She didn't like that either. There wasn't anything good about graveyards, much less that one.
There was a knock on the door. "Anne? Time for breakfast," Margarete called.
"I'm coming!" Anne rolled out of bed and chose jeans and a green shirt to wear. She walked out of her room, just as Locke was coming down the stairs. She smiled at him, remembering her mom's advice to be nice to him. "Good morning Locke."
Locke gave her a dirty look before turning away, heading to breakfast. Anne stuck her tongue out to his back. Why did he have to be so rude? She hadn't meant to hurt him…
Breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes. Anne took two for starters. Isaiah was already at the table, his small legs swinging back and forth as his large blue eyes watched Locke.
"Hello," the other boy muttered. Margarete sighed.
"You're lucky your father's a late sleeper. Come on, at least give me a smile. You're getting pancakes." The result was a grimace. "Come on. Oh fine, here's your pancake."
The children ate. The pancakes were hot, and the chocolate was soft and gooey. Anne was taking her third and Locke quickly followed. Keith soon after stumbled into the room, yawning loudly.
"I need something to wake me up."
"Well, we've got tons of sugar, but these kids might just eat it all up," Margarete said as she served Isaiah another pancake. She straightened up and grinned at her husband. "Did you forget we have company? Why are you walking around in those?"
This of course made Anne and Isaiah look at their uncle Keith. He was rubbing his eyes sleepily, wearing nothing but purple boxers.
"Don't do this dear, it's too early."
"It's too early." He sat down at the table and rested his head on his arm. Margarete served him two pancakes.
"There you go, sugar fix." When Keith didn't respond, she poked him in the head with the spatula. "Keith? I don't believe it."
Anne leaned over and tapped him on the arm. "Uncle Keith. Don't you want your pancakes?"
"Hold on, I'll wake him up." Margarete knelt next to her husband and grinned. She was about six inches from his ear when she yelled, "SOREH!"
Keith jumped out of his chair by a fair foot and ended up on the floor. "Where's the grenade?!"
Margarete walked away laughing as the vampire realized there were no explosives in the kitchen. The children giggled, even Locke. Keith muttered crossly as he sat back on the chair and started eating. The blue-eyed spy returned with her own dish, two pancakes topped with whipped cream and a strawberry. "I knew that would wake you up."
"That wasn't funny," Keith said, shoveling a piece into his mouth. Margarete whacked him in the back of the head.
"You're ruder than your brother when you're crabby."
The blonde shook her head and then surveyed the table. Isaiah was asking Anne a question, but the seven-year-old was looking at Keith. Her brown eyes shifted to Margarete but then dropped down when she realized she was also being watched.
"What is it?"
"Um…I was wondering…if you and Uncle Keith have ever been to the Graveyard."
She had even Locke's attention now. "Now, we haven't. Why, did you dream about it?"
"Yeah…did Daddy ever tell you about Trials?"
Margarete was completely baffled. She glanced at her husband and he chose to answer the question.
"We don't know that much about the Graveyard, but Yuri did tell us a harmonixer takes their Trial after the first fusion."
"Do you know if the Trials can hurt people…?"
"Hurt them how?" When Anne didn't answer, Margarete became a little worried. Anne's Trial had been over a month ago, but could it be affecting her now? "Are you feeling alright?"
The little girl quickly nodded. "I'm fine. I was just wondering."
"Can we go to Bistritz today?" Isaiah asked. "Please?"
"Where do you want to go?" Keith asked. His wife was still watching Anne, but she turned away when the young boy smiled.
"I want to go to the store and see Nina! Wouldn't that be fun?" Isaiah looked around the table for support.
"Yeah, let's go see Nina and Michelle!"
"I don't want to."
The oldest Valentine glanced at the excited Hyuga children, then at his own sullen son. "We're going, so you have to come too," Keith said. The child frowned, the combination of his glittering blue eyes and small pout evidence of his mother. "Don't argue with me, Locke."
Locke instead stormed from the kitchen the way only a six-year-old-going-on-seven could: noisily but with his head held high. Margarete chuckled.
"Don't encourage him."
"I'm not. It's just too funny."
Keith's head sunk down again in his exasperation.
"Oh dear, it's not that late, is it?"
Yuri opened one unfocused eye and followed Alice. She was panicking as she changed, stuffing her hair into some semblance of a ponytail. Someone was pounding on the door. "Whasit?"
"We've got a customer!"
"I don't know. Oh, why did I sleep in! It wasn't that late-come on Yuri, you'd better wake up too." When his eyelids slid down, she leaned down and shook his shoulder. In response his arm wrapped around her waist. "Yuri..."
"Honey..." His almond eyes were slits of brown and amber as he pulled her in, lower to the bed.
"We have a customer."
"Just a kiss." She obliged him with a kiss on the cheek before pulling away. "That wasn't a kiss, that was a peck."
"If I let you determine when it was a kiss it'd be an hour long affair," she said as she walked downstairs. "Coming!"
"But you'd like it," Yuri murmured. The curtains were open and the light was pouring in. It felt very warm. The bed still had Alice's heat and scent trapped in the blankets. He could sleep here all day. Except Alice was shaking him.
"Come on, I've given you fifteen minutes. Now up, sleepyhead."
"Five more minutes."
He heard Alice sigh in exasperation. "Alright, but then you're getting up." She started to pull away again, but this time Yuri moved faster, pulling her onto the bed and next to him.
"With you." He rubbed his cheek against her hair, feeling her relax. She liked this too. Eight years of marriage had made her body familiar to Yuri. His hand roamed up and down freely, lingering over the ticklish thighs. He frowned as he realized she was wearing a longer skirt. "Why'd you have to get changed?"
"There was a customer. I had to look somewhat decent."
"Should've ignored him." The familiarity was a comfort. This was how Alice would always be, warm and reassuring. Was it weak to have to depend on a woman? Screw Fox Face. He was just jealous. But would Alice be mad at him for messing up again? What if she had to come to the Graveyard again? She didn't like the Graveyard. It was too dead and cold. Cold with nothingness. His arms tightened around Alice's body. "You're so warm," he whispered.
Alice heard a small tremor in his voice. He was holding her a little too tight. It was almost uncomfortable. "Are you alright?" she asked. "Did you have a nightmare?"
"I just don't feel well. Maybe I'm getting sick."
"Oh no," she murmured. "Would a kiss make you feel better?"
"Yes. But it has to be a real kiss."
She touched her lips to his and felt his weight shift off the bed and over her. His right elbow came down on the bed as he trapped her between his arms. "Yuri," she breathed, a bit annoyed. They were already an hour behind in opening shop. Yuri was still as irresponsible as he had been nine years ago, when they'd first met and his initial reaction had been to hit on her.
"Sh. Another kiss? Or two, or three, or four?" With each request he planted a kiss on her neck, steadily moving downwards. He paused at the dress's collar and fingered the first button. "An hour?"
"What happened to five minutes?"
Alice smiled. Yuri certainly was in an amorous mood. She didn't know how anyone could be after a nightmare-he certainly was not ill-but it would be a nice way to spend the morning. Might as well enjoy herself. "An hour. But if a customer comes, we stop then."
"They wouldn't dare."
Anne was laughing, happy at the prospect of seeing Nina and Michelle. At least, she was until she opened the door to the shop. To her horror, the brunette teenager was leaning on the counter, lips locked with a sandy-haired boy.
Nina quickly broke away from the boy on hearing Anne. The younger girl looked disgusted.
"Nina, now you have boy cooties!"
"Well, um…what are you doing here?" she asked, flustered. She was blushing as she looked from Anne to the curious Isaiah to a smiling Margarete and frowning Keith.
"I take it Michelle's out," Margarete said. It was clear from Keith's expression that he was not approving.
"Um…" The boy scratched the back of his had awkwardly. "I guess I better go now…"
Nina sighed. "I guess." The brown-eyed boy leaned across the counter once more and gave her a light peck on the cheek before walking out. "Are you here to buy something?"
The girl turned a bright red at Margarete's question. "T-that's none of your business!"
"You're not going to tell my mother, are you?"
"No, we won't." Margarete looked down at Anne. "Will you?"
Anne shook her head. "I'm really good at keeping secrets," she said. "So don't worry!"
Nina laughed. "Thanks. Mom doesn't really like him, but he's nice." She noticed Locke, who was sulking by his mother. "What's wrong, Locke?"
"We made him come," Margarete said lightly. "Come on, stop being such a grouch."
Her son reluctantly unfolded his arms. "This isn't any fun."
"Then why don't we play a game?" Nina suggested. "You want to play…um…hide-and-go-seek?"
"Okay," Locke said. Keith smiled, happier now that his son was being somewhat civil. By the end of the afternoon, perhaps he would be friends with Anne and Isaiah again.
"I'll play with them if you watch the shop for a little while," Nina said to Margarete and Keith. This was agreeable with the adults; after all, how hard could keeping a shop be?
Now that the children were gone, Alice faced the daunting task of repainting the store.
"We stopped for this?" Yuri complained, looking at the paint cans with disdain.
Alice sighed. The daunting part would actually be getting Yuri to agree to repaint the store. This way she would be free to clean. "I did what you wanted to do, so would you please do this for me?"
"But you enjoyed what I wanted to do."
"There's a time for work and a time for play. You had your time to play, now work."
Yuri grumbled some more. He glanced in the can and went off again. "Blue? We always paint the store blue!"
"Blue's a very nice color," Alice said. Especially this blue; it was a light, almost faded blue. "Besides, what color would you choose?"
"I want to do a mural."
"A mural?" Alice echoed, surprised. This would be interesting.
"Yeah. With the Seraphic Radiance and Amon duking it out, and…" He noticed his wife's glare. "What are you looking at me like that for?"
"I am not going to let you deface our house with monsters!" Alice pointed at the can of point and declared, "The store stays blue. Now would you please paint the store so I could clean?"
Yuri pouted before taking the paintbrush and can outside. Alice shook her head. As soon as the children were gone, Yuri's penchant for the flamboyant and impractical returned. Of all things, a mural—and he probably would have spent the time needed to turn their home into a nightmare.
As she soaked the rag in soapy water, Alice glanced at Yuri. He was standing just outside the large window, deftly prying open the can. He still hadn't told her about his nightmare. Perhaps he'd forgotten all about it. She was probably worrying too much. It was just that, ever since Anne's Trial, she had been worried about both of them. The power of fusion was more complex than she had originally thought. A double-edged sword indeed.
Alice realized with a start that the rag was dripping over her skirt and quickly began scrubbing the counters. If she had stared at Yuri any longer he would have come back in to try and persuade her of a second hour in bed. One of them needed to remember to use their time and resources wisely, as tempting as the alternatives were. Alice shook her head, though she was smiling.
Isaiah was counting loudly as he faced the store wall. "One…two…"
"Alright, time to hide," Nina said. Isaiah was only five, so she figured she should choose an easy spot. She hid behind a barrel.
Anne wasn't sure where to go. She started towards the church. But she had already hidden there once, when Nina had been it. The small girl turned back, scanning the entire village.
"Twenty-eight, twenty-nine…um…" There was a long pause as Isaiah thought hard. "Thirty…"
There was a minute and a half left to hide, unless Isaiah lost count. Anne looked around and then saw the East gate swing open.
That was odd. There was a wind, but it was nowhere near strong enough to push open the gate. The forest gate creaked a little more, very slowly—it was almost like someone was pushing it open. Anne's brown eyes widened and she dashed towards the now-closing gate. Her hands pushed against the bars, but the gate held.
"Locke," she whispered, "Locke, what are you doing? We can't hide in the woods."
"I'm going home," Locke's voice responded.
"You can't, you'll get in trouble!"
"I don't care," he said stubbornly.
Anne bit her lip as her hold on the bars tightened. Why did Locke have to be like this? Couldn't he even try to be friends? "If you go, I'll—I'll—"
"No, I'll…" She looked for the word her father had used once after losing his temper. "I'll kick your ass." Her mother would have hated it, but she had to show Locke she was serious.
Locke laughed. "If you can catch me. You can't even see me!" The gates were suddenly pushed back at her as new footprints appeared in the forest soil.
Anne followed as fast as she could, not bothering to close the gate behind her. "Don't be such an idiot!" she yelled at the invisible boy. "Ooh…Locke, you're really making me mad!"
The sounds of boots pounding on the ground continued, only fading as Locke continued running into the forest. Anne pursued him. She had given him fair warning. Now it was time to knock him down a few pegs.
"One-fifteen, one-sixteen, one-seventeen, one-eighteen, one-nineteen, one-twenty! Ready or not, here I come!" Isaiah turned away from the store wall and looked around. It took him three minutes to find Nina. "You're it now!" he said happily.
"Yep," Nina agreed. "But first you have to find Anne and Locke." Shouldn't be too hard, Nina thought, I heard Anne's voice coming from over there… Nina looked towards the East gate and saw it swinging back and forth. She gasped, realizing what had happened. "Oh, my god. She went in the forest. Locke!" she yelled. They needed to at least know where the other child was. "Where are you? Come on out, the game's over!"
There was silence for a moment. "Did he go in the forest too?" Isaiah asked, looking at the large steel gate.
"Locke, come on out, you've won!" Nina continued. When that failed to bring the boy out she realized Isaiah was right. They were both in the forest. "Okay, Isaiah, you go tell Keith and Margarete what happened, I'll go after them!"
"Locke!" Anne continued to run, breathing hard as she tried to keep up. It was hard keeping track of an invisible boy, though his footprints helped a lot, and the thrashing bushes. Occasionally she would have to pause and listen, or stop and look around, and then she'd have to run even faster to catch up.
There was a sharp crack of wood as she burst into another clearing. This was where they'd walked earlier. Dozens of boot prints trampled the grass. She couldn't tell which was Locke's.
She groaned, knowing she might have lost Locke. She listened hard for any noises, but there was nothing.
"Eenie Meenie Minie Mo," she said, spinning slowly around. "Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go. Eenie Meenie Mine…" Her finger had come to rest on a bush with blackberries, but the pine tree two meters away from it suddenly caught her eye. "Mo," she said, shrugging. One random choice was as good as another.
She passed on the tree's right and continued deeper into the woods. After two minutes of running, though, she was ready to give up. She couldn't see Locke anywhere. He must have gone another way, and by now he was long gone. The small girl sighed and turned back. She only took two steps before she heard a moan of pain. Anne whirled around, searching for the source.
Locke had stumbled over a log, hidden by it from view. As Anne got closer, she could see his ankle was twisted. It didn't look like he could stand. He kept trying to, but even moving it seemed painful. The boy's face was paler than usual.
Anne bit her lip worriedly. Injuries were usually no problem, but her mother wasn't around, and neither of Locke's parents were healers. And Locke could only heal himself with blood—but she sure wasn't going to let him bite her. Then she remembered her newest fusion and smiled. Heaven's Fiend should be able to heal him.
"Go ahead and laugh," Locke said sullenly, misreading her expression.
"No, I think I have an idea!" Anne said. If she healed Locke with her fusion, he'd see she wasn't so bad…and then maybe he'd be friends with her again! "Just hold on for a minute," she told him, and closed her eyes.
The young vampire's eyes widened as the brunette was replaced by a white monster. "W-wait, Anne…" he whispered. Not this again…
Alice cut open a loaf of French bread and filled it was ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. She then divided it in two—one piece for her and a piece nearly twice as large for Yuri. This piece she carried outside.
"Lunchtime!" Alice called to her husband as she pushed open the door. It was a late lunch, in fact—she had lost track of time. To her surprise, she found Yuri on the side of the house, the paintbrush dripping blue on the grass as he held it to the wall. And continued holding it there. He seemed fascinated by the small streak of paint on the wall. "Yuri?"
Her husband did not respond. His lips were curled slightly in a frown. Curiously, Alice joined him and looked where he was gazing. Light blue paint was drying over lighter blue paint.
"You can't be this bored," Alice said, rolling her eyes. "Come on, stop joking. You want your sandwich?" Yuri still didn't say anything and she poked him lightly. "Yuri."
Finally, out of a curious thought, she cast Wish. Since he was not afflicted by anything, it didn't do anything, but no Dark class could ignore a current of Light magic passing through their body. Yuri started, flicking blue paint on himself. He swore and dropped the paintbrush.
"Are you alright?" Alice asked. Maybe he really was ill, standing in a trance like that…
"Yeah, just got distracted."
"Remind me to ground Anne," he mumbled.
He was silent as he felt a sharp stab of dismay. Anne had realized that Locke was just as afraid of one fusion as another. Through Anne's eyes Yuri could see Locke struggling to get to his feet, to get away from Heaven's Fiend. When the boy realized it was futile, he changed into a bat.
"Anne and Locke went back in the forest."
"How do you know?" Alice asked.
"Anne's fused with Heaven's Fiend."
Yuri shook his head. "I don't know. I can just see what she's doing when she's fused."
"Oh." Alice was puzzled about how this was possible, but at least Yuri was not ill. "They're not in trouble, are they?"
"Locke has a sprained ankle—" His face broke into a wide grin. "She got him." The bat was captured in the fusion's slender white fingers. It squeaked loudly, trying to get free. "Doesn't he know she's trying to help him?"
Alice was trying to follow along with Yuri's disjointed narrative. Locke was injured, Anne was trying to help him and she was fused. And she had him. That last part didn't make any sense. "Are they safe?"
"The wolves are only out at night, right?"
"Well…I suppose." It wasn't something she'd like to risk two lives on. If they accidentally woke one up…oh, she didn't like this at all.
Locke dropped his bat form, making him much too heavy for Anne's grasp. He fell to the ground with an 'oomph' and Anne quickly grabbed his uninjured foot before he could try to move. The sensitive fingers could feel the quickened rush of blood, even in the ankle. He was afraid.
Anne cast the healing spell and then quickly let him go. His wide blue eyes were staring up at her as he cautiously stood. The vampire leaned on his previously injured ankle, testing it. Anne continued to watch him, too nervous to do anything else. Locke looked down at his ankle, then up at Anne, as if he couldn't believe she had really healed it. Finally he smiled, a brilliant grin that would be terrifying to those unaccustomed to vampires. "That's awesome!"
Relieved, Anne released the fusion, ending the vision. Yuri grinned. "Yeah, they're fine Alice. And I think they're going to get along now." It was then he noticed the large sandwich Alice was holding. "Hey, lunch!"
"Yes, lunch," she said, almost laughing. "I was wondering when you'd notice."
"Great, I'm starving—"
"Ah!" she interrupted. She held the sandwich just outside his reach. "Your hands are covered with paint, Yuri."
The Harmonixer raised an eyebrow as he found she was right. His hands were half blue. Grumbling about stupid paint and brushes, he went inside to wash up.
Anne released Heaven's Fiend. She stumbled a bit as she dropped to the ground, but nothing could wipe off her smile. "So you liked it?"
Locke nodded. "Yeah. Um…" He turned red and looked at the fallen leaves as he realized he had to show his gratitude. "Thanks," he mumbled.
The six-year-old was even redder now. "And…I'm sorry. There."
Anne giggled. "Apology accepted."
Both children jumped at the sound of Nina's voice. "Oh, shit," Locke said. It was a word he'd picked up from Leon, and it worked very well at upsetting his father, which made it a favorite of his.
"We're going to be in big trouble," Anne said.
A half-hour later, they were back at the East gate, led by Nina. "I found them," she said to Keith and Margarete.
"Thank you," Keith said. His tone was mostly calm, but anyone who knew him well could tell that he was very mad. "I think you should go back to the store now, Nina."
"Uh, alright," the teenager agreed. She glanced at the smaller children, whose eyes were begging her not to go. She could protect them from the vampire's wrath. "Listen, I'll see you guys around, okay?" With that, she walked off towards the store.
"Now," Keith began. His voice was still very calm. It was almost too calm, which was more scary for the children than yelling. "You already know what you did wrong, don't you?"
"We went in the forest," Anne said.
"It wasn't her fault," Locke volunteered. "I went in first, she was trying to stop me." He felt like quailing under his father's glare. Keith tapped his fingers on his arm, deciding on an appropriate course of action.
"Very well. My apologies, Anne, for thinking you were at fault. I will deal with you," he said to his son, "when we get back home."
Locke gulped and cast his eyes at Margarete. "Don't give me the puppy dog eyes," Margarete said, "we've told you a thousand times not to go in there. And I know you'll get a fair punishment."
The youngest Valentine grimaced.
Locke's punishment turned out to be two sound spankings, delivered by Keith, and no dinner for the night. Instead he was to stay in his room and write five hundred words on why he was not supposed to go in the forest. He could come out when the writing was done.
Isaiah and Anne were both a bit stunned when they heard the sentence delivered. "I'm sure glad he's not our dad," Anne whispered. Isaiah nodded in agreement. Locke walked up the stairs to his room with a tomato red bottom, but his head held high.
"He's definitely taking after you," Keith commented to Margarete.
The spy laughed quietly. "He better not, or he's going to give you hell when he's a teenager."
Later that night, Anne pulled her blankets over herself as she tried to get some sleep. She quickly fell asleep, exhausted from the events of the day. Her eyes opened as she found herself in the Graveyard, and then widened as she heard a man screaming. Her father was screaming.
"Daddy?!" she called. She stood hastily and ran to the temple, where he'd been last night. Where she knew he must be. But the doors were shut. She pushed on them but they refused to budge. "Daddy!"
The screams were dying down. They were moans now. Her father was hurt, the Masks were hurting him. "Daddy!" she called again.
"Hmph. So you're as much as a crybaby as he is."
Anne froze. It sounded like her father's voice, but it couldn't be…she turned around and saw the man from the previous night. He smirked at her as he stood in a brown trenchcoat, his eyes a glittering red. "What—what are they doing to daddy?"
"They're giving him a Trial," Fox Face said simply. Anne backed up against the large temple doors as he adopted a fighting stance, the same as the one her father used. "Should I give you a Trial of your own?"
Author's Note: Originally the entire two weeks were planned to be one chapter, but I started procrastinating again…and for some reason, I can never tell how long a scene's going to take until I actually start writing it. Hopefully the two weeks will be covered completely in the next chapter…it will mostly be some of the Trials Yuri goes through and how they affect him.
(I really need to stop procrastinating this.)
I've been wondering, how do people see Locke? Especially after this chapter? Is he disliked a lot, liked or simply neutral?
I almost forgot—'soreh' is an approximation of what Margarete says when she does her special abilities.
Jeteagle: Thank you! Next chapter should reveal Anne's class. Bring back the muse? I think Kim's borrowing Yuri right now for a fanfic…^_^
MikoNoNyte: Well, now I do.
Oh, my grammar's horrendous. For some reason I notice the errors when I'm writing, but not when I'm typing. Probably because I trust Word to pick them up. But it didn't.
I don't think I've had the masks lie yet…and I don't remember them ever lying in the game. Oh wait. Fox Face, of course. Although did they ever state, out right, that Fox Face was his father?
His heart was replaced with something else…well, if it has a skull for a face, I don't think it needs a heart. I don't know. I think the other class fusions have hearts, but what need does the Darkness class have of them?
There's no practical use for a partial fusion in the game. Maybe if there had been a benefit, it might have been put in…but there isn't in any of the game's situations. Oh well.
Well, he does know what he's doing…he just doesn't know the consequences until it's too late. And someone's definitely going to be damned here (don't spoil anything! : p ).
Darkness featurin' Kitty: Ah! I'm sorry I didn't answer your review last chapter. I think you might have reviewed after I updated; or maybe it just wasn't showing yet. ^^;;
I had Locke give in much earlier than I had planned, simply because I started thinking it was kind of unrealistic for a six-year-old to hold a grudge for two whole weeks.