'Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You'll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I'll be safe and sound'
There was breeze, there was silence. The singing; it stopped, but that song… her voice – it still lingered in the air. Raimundo had almost forgotten the feel of having someone else sing it: It felt like home.
She reached out. Holograms? Unlikely. Insanity finally set in? Perhaps. But the skin beneath her fingertips found flesh – soft, warm, existing flesh. And that was enough. Just that was enough…
She traced the define edge of his jaw, then his nose. Her touch lingered on his cheek, ticklish against his skin, but he didn't mind. Just because it was Kimiko, he wouldn't mind. She grabbed him, arms going tight around his neck. Desperate, frantic, longing. But she didn't speak. Not a word. Just hard breathing that sounded just about close to sobs.
Cherry blossoms. She smelled faintly of cherry blossoms. He'd never noticed that about her. She was warm, just like the burning flame that she was; it felt familiar somehow. He liked it – he liked it a lot.
That voice… Damn him. She found comfort in it. But at the same time, she hated it... so much.
Damn you, Pedrosa…
The dagger dug deep into his torso. But it wasn't enough. He wrenched it out, driving it back into flesh with the same amount of hate as the first – again, again, again. And yet, the boy survived. He'd survived, even if it was only for a few short moments. And utterly helpless, she could only watch him bleed; bleed until he could barely speak, bleed till his heart had stopped pumping all together.
She kept wishing though; begging, pleading for just a little more time – he did too – but destiny had it all planned out. The planned future didn't include his existence, so he died.
It was that simple.
Omi, right up till then, was on the verge of being completely forgotten. At some point, he'd crossed the shallow stream on his own. Now he simply knelt down on dry, withered grass; his back to the two, his front to a wall of stone.
It had obviously been smoothed by human hands; the rock. Rows after rows of names had been carefully carved into its hard surface, names of previous temple masters – dead masters. And the name on the far end of the line was one that they were all too familiar with. It unnerved them.
Other names consisted of a first name and a last - his had but one. Eighty-six years in the living and then, gone without so much as a last name. Kimiko would've felt sorry for him, but... "As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well-lived brings happy death." She touched her master's honourable name with but two fingers. "Master Fung used to love that phrase most of all."
The river's rushing waters brought peace within her. It was inviting, it was mesmerising.
It rained that day, but he'd left with a smile. There wasn't much to cry about. People come, people go – Fung understood. He'd fulfilled his role well. Fine young dragons he'd trained them to be - if he left, he left in peace. A good part of her wished he wasn't truly gone though. Every day of her life, Kimiko wished he were still silently protecting them from above. Only then, would another pair of eyes be watching over them as well.
The wind danced around them, but oddly enough, it remained silent to its wielder. Raimundo didn't hear it, couldn't feel it. He swore. And then it happened. As if from far, far away, there came its faint whispers.
You don't belong here...
And that was all that was said. Raimundo tried summoning it to his fingertips - nothing happened. He snapped his fingers, but nothing stirred.
The wind no longer took orders from him. It was wild, unpredictable. Free.
"Shit." This lack of connection with his element brought about vulnerability – vulnerability of which he absolutely hated. Call it a sixth sense of some sort, but instincts hinted at him to leave. Omi thought otherwise.
"This is not my handwriting."
He seemed quite upset. Raimundo could imagine why.
All this time, he'd thought it'd be him in the end. That as long as he worked hard enough – as long as he did his absolute best – it'd be him. All those hours spent perfecting his lotus stance, all those hours of hard training… The one to gain the honour of carving his master's name into stone was the one to earn the right to his position; Master Fung's successor, and it wasn't him. "This is Raimundo's handwriting. Isn't it..?"
Kimiko didn't nod – didn't speak, just stared on. The hanging vines of the lone tree swayed with the wind and she watched as it flowed in all of its peaceful grace.
She cursed the man. She cursed him for leaving and then, she cursed him for coming back. For years, he'd been the Dragon of the Wind, Master Fung's chosen successor – and yet, the man gave that all up for a place in the next world.
"My friend, is something wrong?"
Tequila, vodka, dirt cheap beer – anything. Reality was drowning her, and for god's sake, Kimiko did not want to drown. She ran a hand through her hair – and that's when they saw it; a ring. On the fourth finger of her left hand was a silver band of simple design – nothing special – but she wore it anyways.
Something inside him turned sour. What was this? Disappointment? Why? Because she was married? Because he'd once thought of taking her hand? He'd travelled twenty years into the future, what exactly had he expected to see?
Then, introduced from afar, there came a new voice, loud, excited, young. The voice of a child. "Leo!"
And of course… she had kids too.
A little boy, no older than five, headed their way. Stubby little legs carried him forward. And as if his presence wasn't enough proof of how incredibly real he was, he wrapped his chubby little arms around the wind dragon's legs. "Leo!"
The boy smiled up at him, and indeed, he was her son. The dark mop of hair on his head was a dead giveaway. But there was something… something in those beady little eyes that didn't resemble his mother's at all.
"Sweetie," Kimiko had bent down to the young boy's level, "look closely, that's not Leo."
His smile had faded. The young boy starred up at Raimundo with such a blank, innocent look on his face and even Raimundo had to admit; he was cute, really cute. Give the boy a teddy bear and teach him to pout; he could persuade anyone into anything.
Omi starred, then pointed at the kid like some form of a foreign object. "Is that..?"
"Davi. My son."
Then, in just pure wonder, the young monk poked the kid in right the cheek. Davi merely wrinkled his nose. He didn't complain. Instead, he giggled.
"Mommy! Tiny Uncle Omi!"
"Yes," she smiled, "tiny Uncle Omi."
Both were in smiles, and yet, stark differences could be seen. One – so ignorantly innocent, and the other – though gentle – sad. The look in those eyes… always so sad.
"Do you love him?"
Kimiko seemed genuinely shocked by the sudden question.
"Your husband." Raimundo repeated, "do you love him?"
She thought back.
Juan. That was to be the name of their second son. They'd spent week arguing between names, but Raimundo had insisted. He'd won, but what was the point; Juan was never born; miscarried in the fifth month. After that, Kimiko just sat at the kitchen table and cried. She drank out of her secret stash – tequila – and Raimundo? He did nothing to stop her.
He sat next to her the whole time but didn't take her hand, didn't speak comforting lies. He was disappointed. He was mad. He didn't deny it. Instead, he put his feet up on the table top, leaned back in his seat and drank straight out of the bottle.
Boy was he a pillar of strength.
Raimundo had his flaws; many, many flaws. He was no prince charming, he was imperfect. And for that, she loved him. She loved every fibre of his being.
"Yeah," she said, "I do."
There was a slight edge to his tone. "Then why cry here alone?"
She paused. What did he know anyway? What could a kid from the past possibly know about the future? And even if he knew, he wouldn't understand. "There are things that are better left unknown, Raimundo. Knowing wouldn't do you any good. Trust me, you'd be better off not knowing."
"We didn't come twenty years into the future to hear that. Kim, Chase is getting stronger, heck even Jack's dumb robots are becoming waterproof now."
She sighed. He was determined – a bad trait at this point.
"Davi," Kimiko swept his bangs from his eyes. "I have a special mission for you. Go keep Uncle Omi busy will you? I'm counting on you; this is a very important mission that only you can accomplish."
"Really?" The little boy's eyes practically sparkled. Kids… they were so easy to please.
"Yes, sweetie. I can count on you can't I?"
He smiled, tiny teeth showing, then nodded. Davi spread his arms out to resemble that of the broad wings of a plane and sprinted off. His attempts at replicating the sound of plane engines could be heard.
"Chase is no longer a problem, Rai." Kimiko still watched the boy, but they all knew; her mind was elsewhere. "Needless to say about Jack, but we've dealt with Chase too. For good," she added.
Raimundo swallowed. "For good? You mean…"
"Dead. Omi did him in."
"No. Nonono the dude can't even swat a fly-"
"When people are desperate, Raimundo, there's nothing they're incapable of."
A quick glance was all the wind dragon needed to notice how stiff the younger monk had become – he practically froze.
"That's why the both of you need to leave. Many things have happened – things that you'd never have imagined." She said, "Please. You can't toy with fate, Rai. Leave."
"Why? Chase is gone, what are you so afraid of?" He didn't get it. He didn't understand. "Just what are you hiding from us?"
She opened her mouth to speak. Closed it. Reopened it, reconsidered.
"Look, I've done things I'm not proud of." Raimundo noticed she'd swallowed hard on that line. "I ruined the life of someone – someone I loved. I ruined his life so utterly and completely and… and I couldn't reverse it," she said. "I was stupid. The Chronos Clock seemed like the only way out at the time. I tried; over and over but…"
"But didn't go the way you wanted?"
Kimiko went quiet for a second and then, she shook her head. A humourless smile marked her face. "He died."
"That day, three years ago… I still dream of it. Every day."
Raimundo hesitated, but wasn't just him who was curious. "What happened?"
I left my kids without a father… that's what happened.
She turned away. She was watching; watching her little boy. For a kid, Davi sure knew how to run; already he was almost out of sight. Surely he suffered because of her mistake. She knew: all three of her kids did. And that innocent, ignorant smile just made it hurt that much more.
"Come. There's something you both need to see."
They passed through the door. Raimundo noticed a lock. A padlock with a latch.
A staircase led the way down. It was dark. It was cold. Between the boys from the past, neither one recalled the presence of such a passageway twenty years ago. Fact was; there hadn't been one. It was personally built by the Dragon of Earth years into the future for one specific reason and whatever that reason was, they were just one long flight of stairs away from finding out.
Kimiko stopped, blocking the narrow path down.
"You boys sure you want to do this?"
"You're not going to like it."
"Kimiko, we're halfway down the stairs. The least we can do is see it."
She sighed. The flame hovering above their heads flickered for a second, but it didn't weaken. Kimiko kept walking. The crest of the Dragon of Fire on her robe said it all and the heat from that tiny flame served as a reminder; water beats fire, but if she turned against them, they'd fry.
There was a light at the base of these stairs, a faint light with a blue accent. And as the light fell upon her, Kimiko took a left. Omi made to follow but what he saw caused his knees to go rigid. He stopped in his tracks. Raimundo walked straight into him.
"Raimundo, I do not think we should be down here."
Omi attempted to push him back up the stairs. "Master Fung was correct; the secrets of the future should never be brought back to the past. Let us go."
Yeah right. Raimundo pushed the younger monk aside by his round yellow head. "Alright now this I gotta see."
He strut down the last couple steps with Omi clinging hard onto his leg and froze.
"Jesus Christ…" he muttered. "Jesus H. Chri-"
"Don't swear." Kimiko never even glanced his way.
They stood in the midst of a tiny, empty room. Empty, with the exception of that huge wooden box which sat right in the heart of it – a huge wooden box the size of a full grown man.
But that was no box and they all knew it. It was a coffin.
A big wooden coffin.
Its lid was missing. Easily, they could all see the man who lay peacefully within. Raimundo. Raimundo Pedrosa lay within, looking as peaceful as ever in deep, eternal sleep. Kimiko stood next to the man, bent over and pressed her lips to one closed eye. Right there and then, everything made sense.
That silver band came as a pair. Side by side, her ring had found its partner – around a dead man's finger.
"Hey Rai," she whispered. One strand of hair had fallen out of place and ever so gently, she swept it out of his eyes. "Look who I brought with me today."
Even in death, he looked handsome, very very handsome. His body looked just the way it did before; Chronos Clock in hand, his body was preserved for all of time. It never aged, never decayed and certainly, never did rot.
Raimundo could feel his stomach churning with an intense desire to hurl.
Naturally, he did not.
"Take a good long look, Raimundo. Don't look away," she said. "You wanted to know what it was I had to hide. This is it. So don't you look away."
There was no mistaking it. The man who lay so still in his little wooden box was him. Only older, stronger, paler. And as he approached, the truth only became all the more undeniable. He hadn't noticed himself, but he'd reached out on his own. One fingertip came in contact with cold, lifeless skin and in that moment, he saw everything. In those short few seconds, he saw everything.
A fire; lighting the skies – dancing, spreading, burning. A lake; glistening – clam surface concealing the murky waters below; dark, cold. Then a blade, its tip curved into a hook – probably forged to kill.
And in all scenarios, he felt his own body dying slowly. Burning, drowning, bleeding.
I wish to dedicate this chapter to a great friend of mine, PhoenixForce101 for being such a huge help!:D The chapter wouldn't have turned out this way without your help:))
I'm soooooo sorry for not updating in like what - half a year? Really really sorry!
I love reading all your reviews, it really drives me to do my best with the next chapter, so I'd really appreciate it if you guys could drop me one:) I'm open to criticism and I'd like to give a BIG HUGE thank you to you all for those awesome reviews!:D I honestly hadn't expected that much support!
I'll try my best to update more often and regularly. I have tons planned out for this story:))