Memory 1:

Electric green eyes gleamed menacingly, shining in the half-dark. The sun was nearly setting, what with the fading light filtering dimly through the trees. A lean, black-colored tabby cat lay crouched in the damp, dewy grass. His pointed cat ear twitched, not hearing but sensing movement. Black fur bristled with anticipation, waiting, just waiting, for the perfect moment to strike. Then, expertly timed, he jumped into the air, as graceful as can be, but landed with a disgraceful thud— though checking under his paw confirmed that he'd caught the rodent anyway. He loosened his grip a little more and—yes! Off it went, fleeing, literally, for its life.

He easily caught it again, batting the old, fat mouse around. He was teasing it, letting it think it could escape him until he sent it crashing back to reality with a swipe from his powerful paw. The mouse was terrified and blinded by fear. It was dead meat.

Or so the cat demon believed, at the time.

Someone came stumbling through the forest, drawing Kairo's attention. He quickly transformed back into his human form, knowing he'd lost the mouse that dashed away, escaping while it had the chance. "Ryu! Idiot…" he muttered to himself. Yet still he was kneeling, eyeing the ground for the meal gone by. To Ryu he growled in annoyance, "Could you make any more noise?"

A tall boy, more or less on the thin side, came ambling placidly over. His black hair shined blue in the pale evening light. Crisp, intelligent, curious, and childish sapphire eyes caught sight of the shadow standing near a tall oak tree. "Kairo? There you are!"

Kairo rolled his eyes in reply and stood up. Glaring at his brother he said icily, "I believe you owe me a mouse."

"Oh, so that's what you were doing? Hunting?" Ryu asked brightly. Kairo narrowed his eyes further, reducing his electric green eyes to glowering slits. He disliked his brother's hopeful tone very much.

"What do you want, Ryu." It wasn't a question, just straight to the point. He wasn't one for conversation, and even less, being polite, unless some situation called for it. Kairo didn't care for being nice to his own brother, though they had become closer in recent years. They still hadn't spoken of those years spent apart, however.

Ryu didn't look back at him. "Well," he mumbled uneasily. Glancing at a particularly interesting tree behind Kairo, he said, "You know how Kiume doesn't know us apart yet—right?"

Kairo paused, taking time to change his expression, finally choosing to look like milk gone sour. Black bangs dangled around his eyes, covering them somewhat, but he was still giving his twin brother a withering look. "Yes. Often she has chosen to take her wrath out on myself, wrongly thinking I am you."

"Yeah, about that…I think she really wants to kill me this time. Uh, must've been something I said—or…implied." He sounded casual but Kairo didn't buy it. Ryu had a strange humor—strange to Kairo at least. More than once he'd caught wind of a joke said behind his back. Nothing he'd understood, of course. The punchline was lost to him, unless he understood the gist of it and got to hit someone—which was usually and most likely Ryu. Kairo detested hurting others unless it was required. Or if he was in a terrible mood… The cat demon quickly shoved the thought from his mind. Those days were gone, never to be spoken of again, among many other things.

"And good luck to you," he said curtly, almost coldly. His head tipped to the side as he heard a soft sound, like ice breaking the surface of silence, a sigh. He sensed the irritable, but truly reasonable, demon behind it.

"Here she comes!" Ryu cried suddenly, sprinting away. "Sorry, but I must dash!" Kairo watched his brother disappear into the forest, and turned just in time to see a very bright and pointy object heading fast in his direction. He only stared with a wistful smile upon his face as the spirit arrow pierced his chest, the momentum so great that it came out his back. Then pain enveloped him, making him lose his breath for an instant. Falling to his knees, Kairo spoke the only spell he knew with clenched teeth.

Ignore the pain. It does not exist.

The pain released him and he stood once again, this time on shaky legs. He looked over at the ice-dog demon with icy blue hair, puppy-blue eyes, wearing a feudal era priestess outfit decked out in red and black with blue stitching. He smirked—strange, considering he just got hit. But too late she'd realized which of the twins he was.

"Kairo! I'm so sorry…I wasn't even aiming for Ryu, and you were in the way… I didn't mean to—"

"I think the lady did mean to, or you would not have shot me."

"You interrupted me," Kiume said with a smile, revealing sharp canines. "I didn't mean to shoot you."

Kairo ignored her, glancing down at the wound. He was puzzled, and Kairo was never puzzled easily. "It should have stopped bleeding." Then he noted that Kiume's arrow was not to be seen.

"My spirit arrow can only be removed by me," she said promptly.

When he glanced at her, his gaze hardened. " 'Tis not even here to remove." His voice was flat, emotionless, but she could hear the underlying anger. Sadness.

"Well, let me get it for you," Kiume said, reaching to pull out the arrow.

Kairo grabbed her wrist, which surprised her. She looked up and her breath caught in her throat. His gaze was almost as cold as her ice. And his grip was tightening on her wrist. "Let go!" she shouted angrily, almost using her power to freeze his hand. But she remembered that she'd already injured him and stopped herself.

"Never…ever," he began, "attempt to help me. I do not require your assistance."

"Only I can take the arrow out; you'll bleed to death!"

"In return for my injury, you are not to harm Ryu for whatever imbecilic deed he may have committed," he stated, letting her previous words pass by his ears.

"Thank you, Kairo!" Ryu said happily, coming out from his hiding place. He hadn't been paying attention to the conversation when he'd gone for cover—he was too afraid he'd be discovered—and so he didn't know the extent of the damage just yet, or how serious it may be. But his thanks went unheeded, for Kairo had already retreated into the gloom of the forest.

Kiume turned to him in an instant. She'd forgotten already what he'd done that morning—it was no longer important. "Ryu, you have to get some sense into your brother!" she shouted abruptly, grasping his shoulders and shaking them. He only stared blankly at her, his crystal blue eyes unwavering. She stopped to stare at him; confused that the laughter was gone from his eyes, his usual hint of a prank; it was all she could do until he spoke. His voice was soft, like his gaze, like Kairo's voice, only never cold.

"There is no getting sense into him, Ki," he said gently, letting slip the old nickname. He shrugged out of her grip and swiveled his head around, trying to figure out which way Kairo would have gone. "He does his own thing, follows his own path, does whatever he wants. You know, that whole independence thing, I guess." Ryu was actually talking seriously—she could hardly believe it.

Guilt from giving Kairo the wound washed over her. "But he'll die," she said, her tears making her bright blue eyes sparkle. Ryu put an arm around her and assured her that Kairo would come around eventually, once he realized that he had to

give in or let his life give out.

I hope…he thought. Instead he said loudly, as if drowning out his thoughts, "Come on! We'll make an adventure of hunting this cat down. We can poke his pride when we tell him he must take your aid or die. Let us hope he doesn't choose the latter." He laughed now, but nervously. He knew what his heartless brother was like. The only thing Ryu knew Kairo depended on was the darkness of his heart, the shadows burning into his attitude. Not once had Ryu ever had to help his slightly older twin—unless it counted getting his mind off of…her death. The unspeakable subject around Kairo—or anyone else, for that matter.

Ryu shrugged uncomfortably, as if Kairo would know he'd thought of her after all those years gone by, after it'd taken them so long to find other ways to forget. Kiume seemed to understand the touchiness of it and didn't say anything more except, "Lead the way."