Okay, I really have no excuse for what's taken me so long other than I have just had a bad case of writers block coupled with depression, so I haven't actually done much work on this fic. I'm not giving up though, and I hope none of you have either… I love this story and I think it has so many possibilities… I promise I'm going to get down to the heart of it all soon, and I hope this chapter doesn't mess up everything… but please bear with me, I love all of my readers and thank you for your support and patience! 3

Chapter 25


"You are all going to play an integral part in all of this." Ame looked directly at Haji as she said, "You don't have time to interrogate me right now, and you don't have time to play games with me until you trust me. You need to decide right now if you want my help or not because… damn."

The group looked from her to each other confused, and then both Haji and Kaori's eyes went wide as Ame voiced their thoughts.

"He's here."

The group went quiet after Ame spoke. Haji gripped the strap of his cello case and then looked down to his left arm where Saya's lifeline was still attached.

"How much longer does she need my blood?" He asked Julia as Kaori decided to put herself between Haji and the door. She couldn't explain what she thought she could do, but she had a strong urge to protect Saya and Haji coursing through her veins.

"Honestly, this is the first time, so I'm not entirely sure… I was just going to wait until she woke up…"

Haji steeled his eyes and looked at Kaori's back. Her instincts were kicking in, but she still didn't know anything… he had to prepare her for what was coming, even if it was only a little.


She turned her head slightly toward him to indicate she was listening, but still kept her focus at the door.

"You are Saya's Chevalier, now. You can do everything I can do, and maybe some things I can't in terms of physical ability, and you are now immortal. I cannot fight, so you will have to wing it. Let it come naturally to you, and don't think too hard. Believe in what you want to do, and you will do it. Let your body guide you, and make strategic movements. Be willing to die for your queen, and you will not lose."

"I've been willing to die for Saya since the day I met her."

That was Kaori's only response as they heard quick footsteps approaching down the hall. It was as if she somehow had known, but only realized it as Haji spoke. She did not show shock or fear or uncertainty in her body language; she was ready, and she would not let anyone touch Saya.

Ame was on guard and as Haji spoke, she slid a small revolver from a concealed holster on her right calf. She aimed at the door, waiting for what she knew would happen. She was beginning to regret getting herself involved in all this. She wasn't prepared to die for this girl just yet, but she had to resolve her mind to it in order to fight for her. Thoughts of Maka flooded through her, and she had to push them away as she filled her thoughts with Saya and the group around her, and her determination to help them succeed.

The footsteps suddenly stopped just before the doorway, and everyone's breath hitched. Julia had crouched down behind some wheeled carts, her back facing the door and her arms closed tightly around her huge baby bump, as if she was protecting her unborn child from seeing or hearing anything too graphic.

"I come in peace. I mean you no harm. I'm only here to see my queen."

Solomon's voice sounded from the hall and echoed slightly as no one in the room even dared to breathe. That is, until Haji spoke up.

"She is not your queen, you traitorous bastard!" Hate and disgust were dripping from his words as he clenched his fists, but quickly unclenched them because he couldn't afford to block the flow of blood from his arm to Saya's. How he wished that she would awaken so he could tear the bastard apart himself, and not leave the fate of his queen in the hands of two people he did not trust.

Solomon took two steps forward, hands up, completely unarmed. His eyes searched the room till he found Saya's collapsed form, and his eyes followed the red-stained tube from her arm to Haji's. Ame fired a warning shot next to the blond Chevalier's head, but he did not flinch. He focused on Haji's eyes, and the two shared a look so full of hate and contempt, it filled the room with tangible tension.

Kaori put herself in the way of their locked gaze. Her mind was racing, but her heart was calm, clear and full of purpose. Solomon focused on her, and smiled.

"Welcome to the club."

Kaori responded by smirking. She had turned into a whole different person, it seemed, on the drop of a dime.

"If you don't leave on your own, I'll make you leave. You'll be sorry." Her voice was back to being cold and bitter, like someone had flipped a switch inside her.

Solomon took a step toward them, and this time, Ame shot at his right shoulder. He dodged, but the bullet grazed his arm, causing him to stop. He heard a faint cracking sound as his arm began to crystalize and crumble. With a quick motion, his left arm became a sharp blade, and he proceeded to slice his limb off to prevent further crystallization.

The eyes of Saya's two Chevaliers nearly popped out of their sockets. Solomon glared at her as the hallway was filled with the sound of large crystals shattering and crashing down onto the hard tile.

"Before you go accusing people of being traitors," Solomon's eyes left Ame's to find Kaori's. "You should be sure you know who's on your side." His gaze shifted yet again, to the raven-haired woman. " Ame, old friend, why don't you tell your new pals more about how we know each other."

Ame looked down and away, keeping her revolver pointed at Solomon's head. Her gaze met Haji's and then Kaori's, and it did not go unnoticed that Kaori shifted her stance ever so slightly so that she could defend not only from a frontal attack, but from Ame's side as well. Haji had his cello case in a tight grasp, glaring from Solomon to Ame, not sure which was a bigger threat.

Ame glared at Solomon again, resolved to the side of the battlefield she was currently on. She was about to speak when the sound of a groaning Saya took everyone's attention off the fight, and all eyes were trained on the awakening Chiropteran queen.

As her eyes opened, she squinted and focused slowly, seeing only blurs of color and light. She looked up at Haji and smiled, and then looked to her surroundings, taking in the people around them, and how they were positioned.

"Haji… What's going on?" Her eyes landed on the blond and a small smile graced her features. "Solomon!? Wait, why are you here… and we're at the clinic…" She looked down at her arm finally, and saw the familiar sight of dark red blood flowing through a tube. She felt like she was reliving her innocent years, before she knew what she was, or remembered any of her past… all the transfusions and the unknown. Her head spun.

"Saya." Haji spoke her name in that way, the way only he could. "You passed out. You needed your first transfusion…"

Mid-sentence, Haji was in front of Saya, cello case between himself and Solomon's blade. Kaori reacted quickly, taking advantage of the fact that Solomon's arm had not completely regenerated yet and slashed at his back. Ame shot two bullets directly targeted to Solomon's heart, causing him to retreat. It did not take much longer for his arm to regenerate fully, and he dodged Ame's array of bullets with ease while fending off Kaori and her calculated physical attacks with his bladed arm. He dodged a kick aimed at his abdomen, and sliced Kaori's leg from thigh to knee. Kaori watched as blood trickled down her leg for a few seconds before the deep cut sealed itself. Without the blood evidence, it would've looked as though she'd never been cut at all. She was awestruck, and within seconds she was forcefully impaled through the chest by Solomon's sword like appendage, and sent flying backward into a glass cabinet full of medications along the wall. Glass shattered and Kaori's limp body crumpled to the ground as Saya's eyes widened in horror. In an instant she was up, and faster than Haji could stop her, she ripped the tube from her arm, splattering the bed and the floor with blood as it continued to flow from Haji's arm, draining his veins uselessly onto the floor.

Haji grabbed her wrist as he saw her intent. She was about to overexert herself and try to help Kaori, or else try to get to Solomon. With his other hand he removed the tube and let it fall to the floor with a muted, wet thud.

"You can't do anything now, you need to recover. I'll handle him. Trust me, Saya." Haji glanced down at her. Her world was clearly in turmoil as she stared at Kaori's unmoving body. She wanted… she needed to help her. She didn't want to be helpless and protected, she wanted to fight.

"Haji, give me my sword." It was not a request. Saya was going to pull rank, and Haji could tell by her tone that she wouldn't have any objections.

"Saya, please." Haji's eyes were full of fear as he begged her to reconsider. Her sword required her blood. Her blood was not her own anymore. If she used it in battle now, no one could tell if she would live to see tomorrow. And yet here she was, asking him to allow her to risk her life. No, she wasn't asking. She was demanding it.

"Haji." She snapped her hand from his grasp and held it out, waiting for him to pull her sword from his cello case. She wasn't looking at him, only at Solomon, and briefly at Ame.

Haji knew he couldn't let her go through with this. He swallowed hard, hating terribly to deny her anything at all. But he couldn't let her do this. He wasn't going to let her throw her life away… not to protect people who were only trying to hurt her, in the end.

"I can't. Saya, I love you too much… I am selfish. Forgive me."

Haji launched himself at Solomon, who was watching the exchange with a smile. Haji hit the fair-haired Chevalier with such a forceful uppercut it sent him up through the roof of the building. Haji followed the trajectory, grabbing Solomon's head mid-fall and slamming it into the street. A car-sized crater formed in the street where Solomon landed, and as he picked himself up, he flew at the raven-haired Chevalier with all his might, smirking at the thrill.

"This reminds me of last time… only now you've got some fight in you. I think Saya would be happy with or without you… especially because you left her with that vile woman without a second thought."

Solomon grabbed Haji by the shirt and plunged his blade into his right shoulder. Haji dropped the cello case as he lost feeling in his right arm, and hit the ground with such force that he felt his spine crack. He began to heal, but Solomon was faster. He kicked Haji in the ribs, causing him to roll to his left side and cough up blood. Haji's blood was boiling, but he felt weakened. He supposed it was from the transfusion he had given to Saya. He began to feel light-headed, but as Solomon spoke, his ears rung and his mind sputtered. He had left Saya and Julia alone with Ame, and he still wasn't sure if she was friend or foe.

He willed his body upright, only to be knocked down again by a kick to the head. He had to get back to Saya, no matter what it took. He got up for a second time, and as he watched Solomon's blade near his chest, he closed his eyes, ready to take the blow.

But it never came. Instead, he heard a crashing sound about 5 feet away, and when his eyes opened, he saw Ame standing where Solomon was, Kaori in her arms and Saya standing a few feet behind her.

"Haji!" Saya screamed, running to his side and kneeling in front of him to support his weight. His body was healing so slowly, and she knew it was her fault. If he hadn't had to give her so much blood… her eyes teared up as she watched him labor to breathe, his cracked, bruised ribs unable to fully heal.

"I'm… alright… Saya…" Haji made an effort to stand, but Ame put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him gently back down. She placed Kaori gently on her back on the ground, careful not to bang her head on the pavement.

"Let me show you which side I'm on." Haji and Saya looked up at her as Solomon approached again, seemingly un-phased by her attack. "I'm going to kill him." Saya's eyes grew wide, and she opened her mouth and made a noise of protest, when Ame silenced her with one gesture. She pointed to Kaori's healing form, laid out on the ground.

Saya's eyes welled up with tears. Why did more people she loved have to be hurt and die? Why couldn't this whole thing be over with? Why couldn't anyone just let them have the peace they had been fighting centuries to obtain…?

Ame smiled down at her, as if she could read her thoughts. Solomon approached slowly, giving Ame time to utter a quick sentence more. "I will protect you, and I will cure you. You will have your happiness. I will give you your life back, Saya Otonashi."

As Ame walked away, she blinked the tears that had formed back into her eyes. She would not be weakened by her sentimentality now. She had a job to do, and she would not fail. Not for herself, not for Maka… but for Saya.

As Ame approached, Solomon readied himself. He had fought Ame many times before, and knew he could not take her lightly. He wasn't sure still, which side she truly stood on. But the work she'd done for Corynne was brilliant, and if it was true that she had switched sides now… he knew he had to eliminate her, or Corynne's plan would go down in flames.

"Ame, I don't want to do this. Tell me that you're just playing them. That Corynne sent you to be a double agent. I don't want to kill you."

Ame laughed. "That would be easy. It would get rid of you for now, and you'd go running back to that witch to ask her if it was true. It would buy me some time. But I can't lie to myself… I really want to kill you. Your thoughts and actions taint the concept of love, which is the most sacred and pure human emotion… I won't let you have Saya. Because she doesn't love you, and you think you can make her… love can't be forced Solomon. If you want Saya to be happy, you should help us destroy Corynne and let her be happy with the one she loves… accept that it is not you!"

"But it could be me! Corynne made Haji love her. She could make Saya love me the same way! It wouldn't be natural, but it would still be love! We could make it work! Corynne has great spell-casting powers that can be rivalled by none, and she has proved it to me! This is the only way to get my happily ever after, even if it's a lie!"

Ame lifted the revolver, still held in her right hand, level with Solomon's eyes.

"You make me sick."

She fired a shot and Solomon disappeared. He moved quickly, but Ame's keen eyes were able to follow him. She fired another shot, but that missed as well as she lifted her left arm to block Solomon's blade from slicing her jugular. Her arm was unscathed as he pushed off of it with his blade and jumped back in front of her. This was her weakness. She was a brilliant long-range fighter, but hand-to-hand combat she could only block and dodge… her weapons of choice usually required bullets.

He grunted, seeming to disappear again, but this time when Ame fired, she took into account his speed and trajectory and managed to shoot him in his left shin. She heard the crackling of the crystallizing blood and watched as Solomon stopped, once again swiftly slicing off the affected limb to prevent himself from complete crystallization.

"Can you still run away with one leg, Solomon? My bullets are filled with the blood of my queen's sister. The red twin, the one she killed… Miku. You are weak to the blood of the red queens, and so my bullets will destroy you."

Solomon's leg began to regenerate, but he only watched calmly as Ame approached, her weapon aimed right between his eyes. He couldn't run. He couldn't budge. He could try to hop, but Ame was sure he knew it was useless. Was she really going to kill someone? Could she go through with taking a life, after all this time?

Ame stopped a few inches away and pressed the revolver directly to his forehead. She cleared her mind, and took a deep breath. Solomon's calm expression had not changed. He showed no fear in the face of death.

"Goodbye, Solomon."

Without hesitation, Ame closed her eyes and pulled the trigger. She was resolved to Saya's cause. To the love she shared with Haji. To the protectiveness she showed to her friends. To the heart she knew was aching to just be at peace. Because this girl was special, and she had to protect her. Everything her late queen had stood for was present in Saya's eyes, her voice, her actions, her reactions. This war was all for love, and she would kill to protect it. Just like her fearless queen, she would even lay down her own life to protect true love. Maka had died for her sake, and it was high time she made that sacrifice worth something.

She did not hear a single sound after she had fired her revolver, and when she opened her eyes, no one was there in front of her. She looked down, but there was no pile of crystallized chevalier pieces to be seen. Ame turned around to see Kaori supporting Solomon while his leg finished fully regenerating. Ame's eyes widened and her face contorted… she had him. She had him, and that girl… that girl saved him. Her enemy. The one who was responsible for all Saya's misery, all her unrest… even Kaori's own injuries. Still, she went and saved his life.

Kaori looked up at Ame with an emotionless expression. She said nothing, she just looked at her. A strong gust of wind passed, and still neither woman even breathed.

"But, why?" Ame's voice was shaky as she forced the two words from her vocal chords.

"Are you stupid!? Without him alive, Saya's life won't be spared!"

Realization hit Ame like a ton of bricks. She was right. But how could this girl have known that Solomon made Corynne promise to keep Saya alive if he killed Haji?

"I'll bet Solomon is the only reason Corynne hasn't killed Saya yet! Why else would Solomon work with her!? If you kill him, Corynne won't even blink. She'll just have someone kill Saya! Solomon is Saya's only shield right now, even if he is an enemy!"

Solomon finally cleared his throat as he was able to stand on his own two feet again.

"I told you all, I've come in peace."

He cast a glance over his shoulder to where Saya had stepped in front of Haji's weakened form, holding her sword tightly in hand. She had not yet cut her finger to allow her blood to run through the blade, but she was poised to do so if necessary.

Kaori let go of the blonde Chevalier and stepped away from him.

"How do we know that's true unless you show us!?" Kaori shouted.

"Didn't I do just that, though?"

Ame thought back to when Solomon arrived. He hadn't taken any offensive measures until he was forced to, and even when he fought her, he didn't try very hard to take her down… and when he was about to die, he looked like he knew he wouldn't. He didn't try to run, or defend himself. He hadn't fatally wounded Kaori, although he could have. Was he… was he not really on Corynne's side after all?

Saya's sword clattered to the ground and she turned her attention back to Haji. He was breathing heavily and she knew he needed blood. She held up her arm to him.

"Haji… please…"

He turned his head away. He wouldn't take blood from her, because he knew she needed it far more than he did. But he felt pathetic. How would he be able to help her if she were to need another transfusion? He didn't even have the strength to heal himself correctly. He was going to have to drink more. He had to prepare himself to fight while fatigued. He had a lot of work to do. But he still wasn't sure if he trusted anyone in the group he found himself surrounded by… and yet he couldn't protect her, so he had no choice. He ground his teeth together in frustration and closed his eyes. There was nothing to do but wait and watch. And… trust them.

Saya sighed in frustration as she stood again. She walked up to Solomon and hugged him, shocking everyone.

"I know you're not going to hurt me. I also know that you're not going to hurt Haji. You're just trying to find a way to stop Corynne… at least that's what I choose to believe. I know you, Solomon. I know you're not going to do anything that makes me unhappy."

Solomon looked away quickly, not wanting to look into Saya's eyes. His guilt was overwhelming, but he couldn't let Saya know his true intentions.

"I just wanted to see that you were alright, my queen. I'll be going now."

And with that, Solomon disappeared in a flash of blue light, leaving the group of four in complete shock and confusion, to deal with the aftermath.