A/N: Yay! New chappy! Fast! Umm, Otou-sama means Father. Chase-nee is like saying "Sister Chase" b/c Mari is Chase's younger sister. Not exactly one big happy family, ne? Please review.

Chapter Sixteen: Love Again

"Beautiful," Anna whispered. "It is. Beautiful." It was as if she were tasting the words in her mouth.

"Yes," Ryuujin answered, though no quite sure how to respond.

"And what is 'beauty'?"

Ryuujin chuckled at this. "I guess I've learned a lot about that lately," he mused. "If you'd asked me that a few years ago, I couldn't have told you. Chase always talks about beauty, though. Simple beauties that no one else would have paid any attention to, you know? 'Beauty catches your eye,' she always told me. I guess that's what it is."

Anna nodded solemnly. "Then you are beautiful." She paused. "Beautiful things don't belong here. Beware, Sasaki Ryuujin, evil things lurk ahead in your future. Unbeautiful things. Frightening things. Beware."

"I'll be okay," he answered her slowly. "If Chase is by my side."

A small, sad smile crossed the tall girl's face. "She's very lucky."

The light surrounded Ryuujin before he knew what was happening, and he saw Anna wink and flash the peace sign and she hollered something about a brief stop as he faded out of her realm.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"You had your father quite worried," a voice boomed.

Ryuujin blinked. He was home again? How in all the worlds..?

His father stepped out into the room. "A brief stop, as Ms. Maxwell stated. For a gift."

"A gift?"

"I believe your Priestess has become attached to your katana," his father said with a smile. "She should have a way of protecting herself when you're not there, Ryuujin, and you should have something more suited for the prince of this world."

Ryuujin's eyes widened as his father produced a long blade from under his cloak. The sheath was ebony black and the hilt gold, with a red jewel on the end and a blue and green on either side that protruded from the main hilt. He pulled the sword from its sheath and gasped as he saw the writing in the blade. "This is."

"The Dragon's Blade," his father answered. "Please save your love's world, for everyone's sake."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Drizzik-sama!"

Drizzik slowly stirred out of his not - so - peaceful doze. "What is it, Umeko?"

The small Dragon woman had panic stricken eyes. "He's not there, Drizzik-sama!"

"What?"

"Ryuujin!"

The bulkier Dragon sighed. "He died, Umeko-chan."

She shook her head. "He's not there! His body's not there!"

"WHAT?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"You have been kind to stay," Chase managed as politely as she could to her stepmother, who did not have the courtesy to respond.

"We have been more a burden to you, I'm sure," Ryoichi responded to his daughter. He touched the teenager's cheek. "I wish you the best of luck and blessing. If there is anything you need, I am a phone call away, you know that, right?"

"Yes, Father."

Ryoichi smiled. "Good luck to all of you."

"Ryoichi!"

The man turned his gaze back to his exasperated wife. "Go out to the car and I'll meet you there in a moment."

Tairanos bristled a bit as Rika brushed past him and Yuki held tightly to his arm. "No, Tairanos, there will be other times," she whispered.

"I want to stay with Chase-nee!" Mari giggled as she pulled away from her mother, the dark atmosphere that had been hovering since their arrival not affecting her child-like innocents.

Chase gave her sister a small smile and patted her on the head. "I'll send you a painting for your birthday, how's that?" she offered.

"The one of the blue haired man that hangs in your room?" Mari begged.

Chase went white as a sheet and Ryoichi nudged his youngest child toward the car. "Go on, Mari. I'll be along in a moment." He turned back to Chase. "I'm sorry."

Chase shook her head. "No, it's all right. I'm going to need to move one sooner or later."

Ryoichi nodded. "You were always strong. You always will be."

Chase watched her father walk to the car and slide into it. It drove away, leaving her to wipe her own tears away and shiver in the cold. Her friends let her be, sensing her need to be alone.

"You promised," she whispered. "You promised he'd never hurt me again and you lied. You lied, Ryuujin." She sobbed into her mitten- covered palms until she felt arms encircle her. Her tears stopped, but somehow the presence was familiar.

"I'm sorry," came a deep voice that was burned into her memory. "I never meant to lie to you. Will you ever forgive me?"

Chase turned quickly, emerald eyes locking with sapphire. "Ryu..."

He gave her a lopsided grin that faded into a simple smile as she buried her face into his shirt, crying and repeating his name over and over again. "Shh, Chase-chan," he soothed. "It's okay, I'm here. I'm not sure quite how, but I'm here."

"I love you so much," she whispered. "Don't ever leave me again."

He pulled her closer. "It's okay, I won't. This time I mean it."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Are you sure we shouldn't go check on her?" Tairanos asked as he shifted his weight from foot to foot.

"You've sure gotten protective of Chase," Yuki muttered.

Tairanos' eyes turned sad for a moment. "Ryuujin was my best friend, Yuki, I owe him. Chase was his most valued treasure in this world - or any for that matter - and she need someone to take care of her, and Ookami has his hands full as it is, so.." He blinked, noticing her change in expression. "Awe, c'mon, Yuki-chan, it's not that I don't love you." He pulled her into his arms. "I just feel responsible to Ryu, that's all."

She smiled. "I understand, Tairanos. Let's go check on Chase."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Yuki and Tairanos walked outside to see Chase being held by Ryuujin. The Dragon turned to see them and flashed a grin and the peace sign. "Yo!"

"What the. HA! RYUUJIN!" Tairanos hollered as he nearly tackled the taller man.

Yuki pulled Chase out of the way of the excited blond General, tears in her eyes. "He came back to you," she whispered.

"Yeah, he did," Chase managed, a smile on her face.

A/N: Sorry for the length of this. I know it's short, but I only wanted so much out of this chapter. Ryu's back! Yay! *glomps Ryu* Oh, and by the way, I have a new painting of Chase posted up on DeviantArt at http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/5872417/