Chapter 1


Saya's breath hitched in her throat as she ran down the street, away from Omoro. Her eyes were wide from the shock that still had not worn off, and her torn skirt allowed a breeze to caress her thighs as she ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She still had no idea what had just happened to her. She could not process any of it as quickly as it had happened, and right now the last thing she wanted was to run into someone she knew. She needed to find a quiet place to sort things out in her head, and her feet were automatically carrying her to the family crypt. That was the one place she thought would help her clear this confusion that consumed her.

As she got to the seemingly never ending staircase that led to the crypt, she stopped and placed her hands on her slightly bent knees, trying desperately to catch her breath. After sleeping for 10 years, she guessed it was normal for her to be out of shape. That thought led to her first real source of confusion. How had she woken up 20 years early? And how had she retained all of her memories? These two questions only gave rise to more and more questions, and they completely filled her thoughts as she made her way up the stairs.

Was Haji truly dead? Had he indeed perished in the aftermath of the fight with Diva at the Met? She needed him so badly now. He confessed his love for her that night, and she watched as the rubble encased him, unable to fight the others who were dragging her to safety. She wanted to go back for him, to save him, as he had saved her so many times. She blamed herself, if it really was true. She would never forgive herself.

She felt tears stinging the back of her eyes, as she reached the top of the stairs. She sighed and leaned her back against the wall, sliding down to a crumpled heap on the ground. She felt broken. She felt unnecessary. Her purpose had vanished, and she felt so alone. She thought that Kai would comfort her, and that she would be able to surprise him with her early awakening. But when she went to Omoro to find him… she shook her head and bit back more tears. She knew no one was watching her, so she gave in and allowed her tears to fall. Relentlessly they formed rivers down her cheeks and rained from her chin, falling on her torn skirt and bare legs below. She grabbed her head at the sight of her clothing, and her mind instantly replayed the scene.

Saya walked into Omoro sometime in the middle of the night or early morning, after awakening with her full memory. She looked around a bit, but it seemed no one was there.

"Hey! Anyone home!? Kai!?" She called, but no one answered.

Suddenly she heard a door open from the second floor and barreling footsteps down the stairs. Kai stood in front of her, dumbstruck at the sight of her. She could tell he had gotten older, and he was wearing a white tank top and gray sweats. He had put on a few pounds since she had last seen him. They stood for a moment, looking at one another. Then he closed the distance between them and drew her into a tight hug. She smiled and hugged him back.

"Kai, you really look amazing for someone pushing 50! You may not be dad's blood son, but somehow you inherited his age-defying genes!"

Kai pulled away to look at Saya briefly.

"Saya. It's only been 10 years since you went into your sleep... but it has still been way too long. I… I've missed you so much."

Kai said as he looked her deeply in the eyes, blushing lightly.

"We will have to contact the Red Shield members, and possibly have Julia run some tests to see why you've woken up early." He quickly looked down before he continued. "But there is something I have to tell you now, since you're here. I wish I would have said it 10 years ago, Saya."

Saya gave him a confused look and tilted her head to one side slightly.

"What is it, Kai?" She waited for a few long minutes as he just stared directly at the floor before she got her answer.

"I think that… well, I… Ummm… Jeez, how do I put this?" He was getting flustered and turning beat red all of a sudden. "I know it's weird because we're siblings… but we're not blood siblings, so… Gah…"

He looked up briefly and saw a perplexed look on her face as she tried to understand his rambling.

"I… I… I'm… in love with you, Saya."

His face was now as red as a tomato and he could no longer meet her eyes. He hoped that he hadn't just completely ruined his relationship with his sister forever, and he hoped to whoever was listening that she would say she felt the same way. At least a little bit. Just something.

Saya stood, frozen in place as she started to shake her head.

"Kai… I… you're… you're my big brother… and so…" She let her voice trail off, not knowing what to say, or how to react to his confession.

She did not in any way feel romantic love toward Kai. She loved him, of course. But it was family love. Brother love. Not… not boyfriend/girlfriend love.

"…Kai, I'm sorry. I love you. I really do. It's just… not the same type of love. I love you as my brother…"

Kai felt his world come crashing down. Why had he said anything to her? Why couldn't he just be her brother and be happy with that? He was now sure he had ruined their relationship, but he was convinced that if he would just kiss her, she would understand that it was more than just sibling love she felt for him. He was sure he could see it in her eyes. He had been the one to bring her to the family crypt when she was about to fall into her sleep. So it had to be him she trusted the most. It just had to be.

He looked at her, still blushing furiously, and wrapped his arms around her waist, forcing her closer to him as he closed his eyes, awaiting her lips on his.

Saya stopped the memory, not wanting to push farther than that. She didn't want to think about it anymore. She tried futilely to wipe her tears but for some reason they just kept flowing out. She couldn't see anything but blurs in front of her, so she hugged her knees to her chest and buried her face in them, sobbing almost as much as she had the night Haji died.

Haji. She felt a sharp pain in her heart that radiated outward to the rest of her body. Haji was gone. But she needed him now more than ever. To hear him play the song she had taught him on the cello. To hear him say her name. The way he said it was different than anyone else. She missed him so much, and the thought of never being with him again broke her down even further. He was the only one who could heal this pain inside of her. But he was never coming back.

She cursed herself internally at being so fragile. She slammed her fist into the ground, but was surprised to feel a crunching underneath it that sounded like leaves instead of concrete. She blinked a few times to clear her tears and looked down at where her fist had landed. A dried rose sat under her balled fist, and her eyes widened as she saw what was tied around the stem. Her hands gently untied the small, thin blue ribbon Haji used to tie back his hair from the dried stem of the rose and Saya stared at it for what seemed like hours. She smiled softly at it, as tears once again welled up in her eyes. But this time, they were tears of joy.