A/N: Blah. Sorry for the wait. It's just that...ON JUNE 2ND, 2010, I HAVE OFFICIALLY GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL! Party, peoples. Party.

We get a little something on what Darkness is doing and a little something on Chris. Yes, background information on Chris. He needs some Character Development, man. But he's so hard to write~! /headdesk/

And I'm understating the 'little' parts, especially for the first thing on the list. I got...carried away, since I had written that in class when I was bored. /sweatdrops/

David seems out of character in this chapter, but I suppose I can take a little artistic license and say that it's because he's in front of someone he cares about. /sticks tongue out/

Oh god, the immense Ho Yay in this story... I just fully realized it. /wide eyes/

AND THERE'S EXPOSITION! You will finally get a brief explanation on how Chris is the reincarnation of Eddie when they're the same age should Eddie have survived. LOL

And this is the longest chapter to date. 8300 words. Holy s—!

Warnings: Slight boyxboy...but it's just a peck on the lips. Seriously. And there's text speak in this one. Sorry! Believe me, I don't like it either.

Chapter Cover- Chris kneeling on the floor with a broken mirror before him, the glass shards scattered all around.


Yellow Rose

A Second Chance


Chapter Thirteen - Recollection


There was a sort of unnatural silence hovering around the night. It had been there for a while, for nearly a week. Ever since Kouyou had been 'dead'. The animals weren't making a sound, knowing there was something dark arriving at the horizon. The drizzling rain only added to the bad feeling the people in the neighborhood were living with. It was centered around the area of Mulberry Garden and it was all because of what was happening at the basement of his house.

David watched the glowing ritual circle with boredom. His arms crossed, he leaned against the doorway, far away from the action. He'd rather they didn't summon in his basement, but after that attack on Headquarters, his house was the next best thing. Alexis was near the circle, pouring her magic into it to summon more demons, while off to the side was Slyvian, observing with a pleased look in his eyes.

No one talked, unless one counted Alexis's low chanting 'talking'. If it was anyone else, the silence might have been awkward. But it wasn't, because there was always silence whenever the three were together in the same room. One got used to it.

After several (long) minutes, the light had begun turning a deep red and he knew that—

"It won't be long now," someone whispered into his ear from behind.

Whipping around, he was about to hit the culprit but his arm was caught by the wrist and he was pulled up close to the other until his forehead almost touched the other's. His grey eyes narrowed when he recognized who those red eyes belonged to.

"Let me go, Ehran," he ordered, feeling the stare of a certain headmaster at the back of his head. He didn't need Slyvian suspecting of something.

However, the man just smiled in amusement. "Why? Does it matter what he thinks?"

As always, the other knew exactly what he was thinking. It was sort of...refreshing, because it meant that he didn't have to explain himself.

David let out a small breath that would have been a heavy sigh from anyone else. Being an immortal vampire, time tended to blur personal boundaries...and it didn't help that Ehran did not care for social norms either. While true that it didn't matter what Corovus Slyvian thought of the relationship between them, he'd rather the headmaster stop watching him in suspicion every time he was with the vampire. Did the man believe he was trying to raise a coup? It was a ridiculous idea, though to be expected from a ridiculous man.

The halfling pulled away (surprisingly easily) and a glance saw that his headmaster had returned his attention back to the ritual at hand. David took a step back, tone steady. "What are you doing here?"

Despite his young appearance and easygoing exterior, Ehran was a commander of Darkness and in charge of at least a quarter of their squadrons. The past few weeks had him leading a few of their forces in battles that were near Venia and from what he knew, they had been having some trouble lately. David didn't know what sort of trouble, but he knew that it had to be something serious; Ehran had a good record and was a tactical genius (mainly because the man hated losing).

"I missed you~" the vampire stated with one of those smiles that made him want to hit him. Or kiss him, but the halfling suspected that that reaction might have something to do with the vampire charm the other was always emitting. Those goddamn pheromones...

He gave him a raised eyebrow but said nothing. Instead, he turned around to watch Alexis finishing up with the demon summoning. Was it always this long? Arms were then wrapped around his waist and a head rested on his right shoulder. He could practically feel the pout that was forming on the vampire's lips.

"Aww, don't be like that, Davy," the older male whined softly. "I'll tell you, okay?"

"So tell me," he said coolly.

"Your dear sister told me to come back so I can keep you company," he answered, pulling him so that his back met the vampire's chest. David didn't bother struggling or protesting; it wasn't like he wasn't used to such displays of affection from him anyway. However, what he heard caused him to frown.

"The truth, Ehran," he commanded coldly.

"That is the truth." The vampire's arms squeezed his waist. "She was worried about where you went off to at night after school."

"I'm not planning anything."

"I don't doubt that," and David believed him because there was no way he would lie to him. "But she thinks it would be best if I come back for a while."

"To watch me."

"To hang out with you," he corrected.

"Same matter." The halfling then blinked. "Who's taking over your position?"

"I'll still be relaying orders to them over the phone and whatnot, so don't be jealous if I sometimes have to leave you to talk deep secret plans with my minions." That last part was said with a grin, David was sure of it.

"Hm." Anything he had to say was silenced by the fact that Alexis had reached the final part of the ritual and was shouting out the last lines to the summoning in English.

"Arise, great demons of Makai! Escape from your eternal prison and wreck havoc and disorder in the human world once more! Oh makers of chaos, creators of destruction, I summon you onto this plane!"

Wind whipped around the large basement, carrying papers in the air and causing their clothes and hair to flutter in the wind. The ritual circle brightened at its highest before dimming, revealing twenty or so different creatures in the middle. Some had horns. One or two had wings. Some had extra limbs and eyes. They were looking around the room in confusion and anger. David knew that even though the demons had been banished to Makai, the newer generations only saw the place known as Hell home. He had never been present during a demon summoning so he had no idea how Alexis convinced them to obey her and he didn't want to find out, mainly because he was getting bored and also because he wanted to get as far as possible from Slyvian.

No sooner did he have that thought that Ehran released him from his hold, causing David to turn halfway around to see why. The vampire only gripped his right hand and tugged him towards the stairs that would lead them back up. "Let's go do something else."

The halfling allowed himself to be lead up to the hallway and was slightly confused when they began walking to the kitchen.

"Are you hungry?"

He received no verbal response from the vampire and was pushed gently into one of the chairs instead. He watched the older man take out a mixing bowl and a whisk before opening the refrigerator and taking out a few eggs and a carton of milk.

He barely even opened his mouth when Ehran finally decided to enlighten him on what he was doing.

"Pancakes alright with you?"

David stared as the other cracked the eggs. "It's night."

"So?" The vampire began mixing the bowl.

"Pancakes are for breakfast."

"So?"

"...never mind."

"That's what I thought, Davy." The halfling was then rewarded with an award-winning smile.

"Don't call me that," he said, merely out of habit than anything else.

"Why not? Either I call you 'Davy' or I call you 'Addy', after your middle name." Another grin, and David was about to retort when a sudden twinge in his head cut him off. He gripped his head, gritting his teeth as he waited for the pain to subside. He dreaded these attacks and they seemed to be happening more frequently. As far as he could remember, these random bursts of headaches were always there. Shaking his head slightly, he looked up to see that Ehran had knelt down next to him, the bowl set down on the table forgotten.

"Is it those headaches again?" His voice was uncharacteristically soft and worried.

"I'm fine."

The vampire stared at him, not saying a word, but eventually stood up straight. He then pulled him against his chest in a hug that mocked a lover's embrace, startling the halfling by this sudden action. He opened his mouth to protest but closed it again when Ehran rested a cheek on top of his head softly.

"I worry about you, you know."

"I know."

"I wish I knew why they keep happening."

"I know." He wished to know as well. It was as if they were triggered by something and the fact that he didn't know, the fact that this was out of his control, was maddening.

"Let me help you."

"Don't worry about it." He already was anyway, because just by caring about him, by standing by him, he was helping.

David was really tired of being alone.

An image then flashed in his mind, where there were four teenagers—three girls and one boy. The black-haired girl was waving wildly, as if telling him to hurry up, while the orange-haired girl was leaning against a wooden staff as tall as her, eyes looking far away. The blue-haired girl had her arms crossed, watching with a small smile. The boy, red-haired and freckled, was grinning and had a hand extended towards him.

Then he blinked and the picture was gone. A feeling of emptiness swelled within him for a split second before disappearing completely, and he wondered just what that vision was.

So familiar...

Ehran letting go of him brought him back to the present and the vampire looked him seriously in the eye. "I'll always be here."

David allowed a small smile to cross his lips. Only this man could cause these unorthodox feelings and actions to appear. But it was nice to know that he could trust one person in this world. "I know."

The violet-haired man ruffled his hair with a pleased look and returned to his bowl. The younger leaned back and watched him cook with slight fascination. He had never been a good cook so he tended to order takeout or buy microwaveable meals. However, whenever Ehran was in the area, the vampire would always come and cook him a meal, for which the halfling was deeply grateful for.

The sudden appearance of a familiar youne in the hallway told him that Alexis had finished with whatever she was doing downstairs. He turned slightly to see her standing in the doorway, the bottom of her robe dirtied with chalk and dried blood. Her long hair was braided and then wrapped in a neat bun so that it wouldn't get in the way.

To David, the hairstyle was too...fancy. It matched the aura of the seductive and manipulative leader of Darkness, but it didn't match the body that belonged to Alexis Wong. There was a reason he did not see this person in front of him as his sister.

His sister had been a modest yet cheerful girl, always smiling no matter what. She was afraid of hurting others and hadn't even let him kill a spider that had crept into their house. His sister did not order a group of people dead, did not summon demons to cause destruction, and did not want to be the leader of the most evil organization in the world.

This was why he denied this girl as his sister, because the leader of Darkness was not the sweet younger sister he'd loved and adored.

His face went blank again and he hoped none of his thoughts showed. He shifted in his seat to a more comfortable position.

She was watching them with a bit of nostalgia and he briefly wondered why. However, the look was gone a second later and she leaned against the doorway, face as cool as one could please.

"Ehran, David, we will be launching a worldwide attack soon."

"How soon?" the vampire asked, looking rather happy as he flipped the pancake over. The halfling knew that half of the expression was because of the pancake and the other half was because of what the Leader just said; he was always happy to spill blood regardless of the reasons.

"In four days."

Ehran blinked and turned his head around slightly. "Isn't that on Halloween?"

The smirk on her face was all the answer they needed. David drummed his fingers over the pocket that held his cell phone, debating if he should tell this fact to a certain angel. After all, he wanted to mess up all of the Leader's plans. If the ones who'd ruined Darkness's plans last time were notified, then they would predictably try to stop them because that was what they would do. However, there was a chance the Angel might not believe him... and yet there was a chance she would.

Hm. His head was beginning to hurt from his thoughts going around in circles.

A hand fell on his head and began massaging it. He glanced up to see that Ehran had finished cooking and was standing next to him, eyes locked on the Darkness leader.

"Are we splitting the forces evenly?" he asked, head cocked to the side. If someone didn't know better, they would think he couldn't hurt a fly... either that, or they would jump him completely. David had seen it happen a few times before when he'd gone with him shopping. Never again.

"We will focus mainly on the areas where the powerful live," she replied. "The ones we know who would not come with us."

Ehran raised an eyebrow, still not stopping his head massage. David wondered if he was going to stop soon. "We're attacking them where it hurts? Why not try to recruit them?"

He earned a heated glare and a scowl. "You do not think I haven't tried that? I gave them plenty of time to reply."

"What about the Five Houses of Nobility?"

Ehran and Alexis turned to him, surprised that he had actually spoken. He met their stares coolly. "I am certain they are among the ones who are not on your side."

"Our side, Davy," the vampire corrected. "You keep forgetting that."

The halfling only stared at him some more. "That does not matter at hand. If we are to attack even one of them, then the other three would retaliate."

"Oh, yeah. They have that treaty thingy from Goddess-knows how long ago," the centuries-old creature commented. "That's a bit of a problem, ol' fearless leader."

Having dealt with his personality after all these years, the girl didn't even react to the title she'd been called. Instead, she drummed her fingers on her forearm thoughtfully as she pondered what to do. "We cannot risk a war with the Five Houses. They aren't the Five Houses of Nobility for nothing, after all. We were lucky that the Ikeda clan didn't call us out when we killed their Head."

"And the Tanaka clan," Ehran added with a chirp.

"Well, we are indeed lucky. Best not to press it. We'll leave the Five Houses alone." With that said, she nodded at them as a farewell before walking out. A soft slam was heard as the front door closed and David turned to look at Ehran. The vampire took a seat across from him and proceeded to eat the probably-now-cold pancakes.

"If we had attacked the Linfords, on the other hand, then we really would have been screwed." The violet-haired vampire received a confused look so he took another bite and explained, "Each House has a distinct way of dealing with affairs. The Linfords are upfront and trigger-happy. The Yaos are subtle. The Tanakas are peaceful unless provoked. The Ikedas would be friendly before stabbing you in the back if they feel they don't benefit much from the deal. The Sempres are neutral in almost every matter, no matter what."

"We provoked the Tanakas," David pointed out.

"So we did. They're probably plotting with the Ikedas for revenge...or maybe praying for divine punishment. They're a religious bunch from what I heard, which makes sense since they're descended from Sulania and would obviously have Her protection."

The halfling started eating the pancake on his plate. When the other was finishing up his plate, the glasses-wearing boy decided to speak.

"'That treaty thingy from Goddess-knows how long ago'?"

The vampire choked on his last bite, having not been expecting that, while the other watched in subtle amusement. Once he managed to clear his airway, he spoke with a sheepish grin on his face. "Well, it was a long time ago. I wasn't alive back then and I'm plenty old."

"The Treaty of Telifia. Signed 313 A.D. in the High Temple of the Gods located at Telifia. The signers were Wenri Yao, Lawrence Linford, Charity Sempre, Satoshi Tanaka, and Kyo Ikeda. The witnesses were High Master Priest Merak Alycone, the Voice of the Gods Dorian, the Voice of the Fallen Zeke, and those who occupied the High Temple at the time. The Treaty states their alliance with each other and what is expected of them as the Five Houses of Nobility. It was there they chose their—"

Ehran cleared this throat as he struggled not to laugh. "Okay, Davy, okay. I get it. No need to go Wikipedia on me now."

"How do you know I go on Wikipedia?"

"Wait, seriously?"

David only stared at him with a raised eyebrow. It finally hit the other and his jaw dropped. "Oh Goddess, did you just tell a joke?"

He was beginning to dread that decision because the vampire looked like he was going to jump up and hug him. Instead of answering, David ate the remainder of his pancake while the vampire laughed at the strangeness of it all. Once he was finished, the halfling set his fork on the empty plate. Ehran rested his cheek on his palm as he stared at the black-haired boy, smiling.

The bespectacled boy narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Every time that smile appeared, he was plotting something that could (and normally would) humiliate him. "What?"

A chuckled escaped the other's lips. "Nothing."

"Liar."

"I'm a liar, yes," he agreed.

"Tell me."

"So demanding, Davy~ Well, I was just wondering if you would like to show me around the city tomorrow."

The request was said with a flirtatious smile and his instincts (all of them) were telling him to run the hell away while he still could. David still remembered the last time he agreed (unknowingly) to one of Ehran's request. It ended with him in a dress, them being banned from the arcade, and many teenage boys in the hospital.

"No," he said firmly.

The vampire pouted, causing David to involuntarily twitch. "Why not?"

"You've been here before. You don't need me to show you around."

"But there are tons of places I didn't see last time!"

"I'm going to sleep."

Ehran blinked at the sudden change in topic and turned to the wall clock. "It's three."

He raised an eyebrow. Did he have a point?

"In the morning."

He raised the eyebrow higher.

The vampire rolled his eyes, though there was amusement and exasperation in the movement. "David..."

"I'm skipping school tomorrow."

"You mean, today."

"..." This time, it was David who rolled his eyes. Only the other would focus on such a minor thing that wasn't relevant at hand. He rose from his seat and took his plate to the sink. He carefully set it down and stiffened when Ehran rested his head on top of his. How did he move so fast? And without him sensing it!

"Ehran, get off."

"No."

"Ehran."

"No."

"Ehran."

"Meanie," but the weight was lifted. Relieved, David moved around him and began heading towards the doorway. He barely made two steps when his right wrist was grabbed and he was spun around. Ehran smiled that Cheshire-like smile and before he knew it, he was kissed on the lips.

However, it was for only a second and it was after that second that the halfling punched him in the stomach. Watching impassively as the vampire buckled over, clutching his stomach, David turned and left, though much quicker than he normally would have. Once he was out of view, he touched his lips, confused. Despite all the affection he gave him, Ehran never kissed him. This was new. David wondered about the change but decided it wasn't important. It was probably another way for the vampire to tease him.

Figuring that was the reason, the bespectacled boy went inside his room—practically bare, with only the essentials—and headed to the landline phone. Picking it up, he dialed a number and listened to the ringing. He'd originally planned on calling with his cell phone but that was under his name. If he used his home phone, it couldn't be traced back to him; the name the house and the landline number was registered under was 'Theodore Kingsley', one of his many aliases.

After the tenth ring, the voicemail kicked in.

"This is Destiny Vaughn's place and I'm either not here or too lazy to pick up the phone right now. You should know what to do after the beep."

The foretold beep came and David's mouth went dry for some reason. He forced his throat to move and began to talk, making sure to change his voice (he had lots of practice with that).

"There will be worldwide attacks on the powerful who opposes Darkness, excluding the Five Houses. I suggest you get ready on Halloween and warn your friends."

Message done, he hung up and started towards his laptop. He took one step before a burst of pain in his head made him see white and he fell limp to the ground.

IIiII

Chris walked through the door, hand on his backpack strap, and surveyed the room. There were several scattered groups around, loud with conversation and gossip, and a few studious students with thick books lying open before them. However, the person he was looking for wasn't there. Puzzled, he took his usual seat in the back of the room and set his backpack down on the table in front of him. He looked around again, hoping that he'd seen wrongly, but no, he was right the first time.

Destiny wasn't here.

His brows furrowed. This was troubling. She hadn't mentioned anything about this the night before. Maybe she suddenly got sick? He took out his cell phone and went through his phone book. Finding her number, he decided it best if he sent a text message instead.

r u ok? y aren't u at school?

Pressing SEND, he let out a sigh and used his free hand to get out his notebook for the class. Turning the pages to a blank one, he rummaged inside his backpack for his pen. The phone vibrated, signaling a response.

sumthing came up. tell teacher im sick, will you?

That made him worry even more. 'Something came up'? What did that mean? Was there trouble?

wat do u mean? r u in trouble?

He tapped his pen impatiently as he waited for an answer. A glance at the clock told him that class would not start for another ten minutes. Good.

no nothing like that. its just rather important and i need to skip skool for it.

How confusing. He frowned. What did that mean? It then dawned on him, and he hesitated for a second before typing out a reply.

does it have 2 do w/ u-know-wat?

It made sense if it did. From what Destiny had told him, skipping school in order to 'battle the forces of darkness' was normal for her and her friends. It shouldn't surprise him that she wouldn't stop just because she was in college. The thought made his eyes soften as he realized just how much was placed on her shoulders.

'u-know-wat'? lol for a min i thought it said 'u-know-who'. lol but yes it does involve magic. sumwat. b/c it concerns nan.

He blinked. Nancy was involved in this? But wasn't she...dead? His hand shook slightly as he remembered the moment that black fire dragon had swallow her up. He hadn't shown it, but he too was grieving inside. Although they only knew each other for a few days at most, Chris had rather enjoyed their conversations because Nancy knew so much more about the magic world and she explained it better than Destiny as well. It was nice to talk with another intellectual type; Destiny was more of a hands-on person and Diana gave him glares and shivers so there was no point in trying to converse with her.

With a heavy breath, he sent the message he'd typed out.

but des, isn't she...dead?

It wasn't long before his girlfriend sent back an answer.

ah! i 4got 2 tell u! shes not dead. just hiding. i'll explain when i c u again. g2g now bai!

That just caused his head to hurt. What? Not dead? Just hiding? What did that mean? Where could Nancy be hiding?

Didn't they see that fire dragon kill her? How could she still be alive from that?

He turned off his cell phone and held his head. He already knew that magic defied logic, but to think that it would defy these types of logic... He now had a headache. He was a very down-to-earth person and thought logically—which was why he was a physics major—so learning about magic really threw him off like hell. He never believed in those types of things. Even when he was little, he never participated in the fantasy games his classmates played. He would sit by himself during free time, reading a book while occasionally peeking up to watch them pretend they were knights slaying a fierce dragon.

It wasn't that he had no imagination.

He just rarely found a reason to use it.

A smile appeared on his face as he remembered how he would still search for fantasy novels to read. It seemed he always gravitated towards them. Stories of fairies and dragons and elves.

Stories of magic.

Maybe the reason he always looked for them was because he was the reincarnation of someone who was deep in the magic kingdom. It made sense to him, that on a subconscious level, he wanted to reconnect with the world he'd lost when he'd died.

Or maybe he was grasping at straws.

Letting out a soft sigh, he looked up just in time to see Mrs. Bell walk into the room. He glanced at the clock and noted with amusement that she was right on time, as per usual. The groups in the classroom dispersed as the members hurried to their seats quickly. There was a flurry of movement as everyone got out their things for the class. Mrs. Bell just watched patiently and when there was silence, she took out a stack of papers and set them on her desk. Everyone knew what they were.

"Your quizzes from last week," she announced. "Come up when I call your name."

It was always alphabetical order, which meant that first was—

"Averia!"

—him. Getting up, he bypassed a few "Good luck" whispers and accepted his quiz from his teacher with a thank you. Making his way back, he sat down and looked at the score written on the top.

A ninety-two. Not bad. He skimmed the paper and counted only four wrong. He took out his Pre-Calculus book and flipped to the chapter that they were on so that he could review and fix what he did incorrect.

'Oh, I forgot to multiply those two...' he noted, scribbling on his quiz the correct way to do the problem. It helped him remember that way.

"Li!"

"Which one?" called out one of the students. There was laughter and even Chris couldn't help but let out a chuckle.

"James Li."

The Chinese boy laughed as he got up to get his quiz. Mrs. Bell gave him a look which he returned with a grin. Chris thought that she should have learned by now, seeing how this always happened whenever she called out the last name that belonged to two students in the class.

"Vincent Li!"

Shaking his head, he went back to his work, but was distracted by the vibration coming from his phone. Puzzled, he took it out as discreetly as possible and looked at the screen.

1 new text message

It wasn't from Destiny, surprisingly. It was from an unknown number and he wondered who sent it to him. Should he view it? Taking a look around to see if anyone was watching him, he bit his lower lip and made a choice.

The message was a question.

What do you want to know about your past life?

He froze, eyes staring at the screen.

And then...

"Ack!" He dropped his phone when a sharp pain cut through his head. Eyes beginning to water, he held his head tightly. It felt like someone was stepping on it and he closed his eyes, trying to figure out why. Was this related to the text message? Did it trigger something in his mind?

"Chris!"

"Hey, man, you alright?"

"Give him some room!"

"What happened?"

"Chris!"

"Oi, Averia!"

He could faintly hear the voices calling out his name. He struggled to keep conscious, but it was getting harder. His breathing was getting erratic and he could feel himself falling from his chair. He braced himself for contact but it never came.

Or rather, he blacked out beforehand.

"Shit! Chris!"

"Someone call a doctor!"

IIiII

The first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was the sky. Or rather, it appeared like the sky. It was the same shade of blue. Confused, he sat up and noticed that he was sitting on a grassy field that overlooked a large lake. This puzzled him a lot, because the last thing he remembered was being in class. How strange.

"So, you're finally awake."

He immediately turned to where the voice had come from. What he saw surprised him.

"Y-you...Nancy? But you... why do you look like that?"

The girl didn't even bother looking up from her book. "Indeed. I look like this because it was at this age that a life-changing event happened to me. Anyway, we were surprise you were here, quite honestly. I suspect They must have planned this out."

"What?" This was all too confusing. There was no way she could be here in front of him. There was no way they could be talking like this unless—"Am I dead?"

"You're unconscious actually, but I guess someone Up there in Tentou has a weird sense of humor," she said, finally looking up. Her tone of voice throughout the entire conversation was one that you would have if you were discussing the weather or something along that line. "You are currently in the dimension that not-quite dead beings roam."

"Eh?"

"It's a section of the Bridge. We're technically in Purgatory," she explained, bookmarking her page with a ribbon. "I think you're here because you're supposed to be here."

"What?"

She frowned. "I thought you were smarter than this, Chris. At least, that was the impression I gathered when I spoke with you."

He rubbed his temples. "It's not everyday you learn about this, Nancy. I apologize if I wasn't raised around this."

A small smile appeared on her face and he smiled back. It was then he realized that she was learning against a tree. It was a fully-bloomed cherry blossom tree and several falling petals landed on her. She did nothing to brush them off, however.

"Why are you here, then?" he asked.

A pained expression flickered across her face for a split second. "It's for a test."

"A test? For what? Are you in trouble or something?"

She blinked before letting out a chuckle. "No, no. It's a test for—you remember Suerlia, yes?"

His mind supplied him with that woman he'd met in Nancy's house when it had been her birthday. "Yes. She's the demon who lives inside your body, right? You turn into her every blue moon."

"Correct. Other than her, I have another demon living inside me. His name is Aisu. You've never met him, mainly because he's only allowed out if I feel angry or stressed out." Her shoulders slumped down and she seemed almost...sad. Chris's arm made a movement like he was going to grip her shoulders but he stopped himself. He knew that she hated being touch; it had been one of the first things Destiny warned him about.

"I see."

"Well, They have decided to give Suerlia and Aisu a test. To see if they have changed their ways."

"They? Who's they?" he asked.

She gave him a look. "Our deities. The ones who live in Tentou, otherwise known as Heaven."

He gave her a look in return. "You have gods."

"Yes. The Tanaka clan, my mother's family, is descended from Sulania, the head Goddess." She looked rather proud of this fact.

His head hurt. Gods. As in plural. Did this mean Christianity was wrong? He didn't know what to believe anymore.

Perhaps it showed on his face because she gave him a sympathetic look. "Anyway, Suerlia and Aisu were originally sealed in the Tanaka bloodline as a punishment. Suerlia because she was second in command for the Demon Lord, and Aisu because he tried to go back on a deal he made with the God of Death."

His mind clicked together the pieces. "So the test is sort of to see if they're ready for parole?"

She raised an eyebrow. "Yes, to put it simply. The test is to see what exactly they're going to do if I am not there to restrain and restrict them. Of course, naturally, if they do anything They deem dangerous and out of line, then Suerlia and Aisu will cease to exist and I will go back to my body demon free."

"And if the two pass the test?"

"They get their bodies back, but their powers will be limited."

"So I'm guessing you're cheering for them to fail?" he asked.

She blinked before staring at her book. "Ah... I'm not too sure about that."

That surprised him. If he had to live with two demons in his mind, he would be praying for their failure. "Why not?"

"Let's just say they've grown on me." The smile on her face was one that he couldn't place an adjective on. He didn't have long to think about this, because Nancy soon turned around so that she was looking around the tree and said in a slightly annoyed tone, "How long are you going to be standing there listening? Come out already."

"What are you..." The words trailed off when he saw the boy coming out from behind the tree. He was dressed in a similar white outfit like Nancy's but he had a yellow ribbon tied around his upper right arm.

His face was what stuck out the most to him, mainly because he had been seeing it a lot lately.

Nancy watched as the two continued to stare at each other in silence before clearing her throat. The noise brought the newcomer back to the present and he ran a hand through his reddish-blond hair before sticking his other hand out towards Chris.

"Um, hi. I'm Eddie."

The blond stared at the hand before shaking it hesitatingly. "Uh, Chris. Nice to meet you?"

There was a stifled snort from the blunette watching them and they both turned to see her covering her face with her book. She merely just waved her hand, shoulders shaking in silent laughter. "C-carry on."

Eddie rolled his eyes and took a seat down next to her, though he was still facing Chris. "So, how is everything?"

The blond didn't expect that question. Actually, he didn't expect to be conversing with the person he was apparently suppose to be the reincarnation of. How did this work?

"Shini, the God of Death, momentarily split your souls," Nancy answered, giving him the impression that perhaps he said that question out loud. "Christopher Averia had already existed when Eddie died. Inochi, the God of Life and Rebirth, simply placed Eddie's entire being into the body that best matched his reine."

Chris's eyes widened as it dawned to him. "Wait, so you're saying that—"

"You are Christopher Averia, not Edward Feeny-Land. The two of you are being merged, which is why his memories are combining with yours and confusing you. You will also pick up some of his habits." She then set her book down on her lap again. "I wouldn't worry too much about it. You're still you."

"How is that still 'me'?" he asked, glaring at her. "You just said that—"

"I am a small part of your life," Eddie injected, surprising him. He had a rueful expression on his face and it made his anger momentarily subside. "It is to be expected since you're my reincarnation. However, I cannot control what you do. I only influence you subtly, but even then you can ignore my..." He scratched his head as he tried to find a word. "My presence, I suppose you can say."

"Therefore, you do not have to worry about whether you love Destiny just because he did," Nancy said, her fingers playing with the ribbon bookmark. "Your attraction was there and it was merely amplified by whatever feelings Eddie still had for her. Even without Eddie's feelings, you eventually would have asked her out."

"I just, uh, accidentally sped up the process," the deceased boy said sheepishly, scratching his head. "Sorry about that."

And just like that, whatever weight had been on his shoulders was gone and Chris breathed deeply, a smile tugging on his lips. "I'm glad."

"Hm," the blunette hummed, eyes looking up at the sky. "He'll be coming back soon."

Chris blinked. "Who?"

Eddie laughed. "Ah, you see, because of the test, Nan gets daily visits so that she will know what's going on outside."

"By who?"

"Dorian, the Messenger of Tentou," the blunette replied, eyes leaving the sky.

He then yawned. When did he start feeling so sleepy? "What does he do?"

However, Nancy didn't answer. Her eyes were on his face, as if searching for something. How unnerving. "It's almost time for you to leave then."

"Eh?" He didn't want to leave. It was calming here and his spirit felt at rest. Or maybe that was because of his doubts were gone thanks to the conversation he just had with them. Pleadingly, he looked at Eddie who was grinning back at him.

"Don't worry, Chris. It'll be fine."

He yawned again and then blinked, but something seemed to be weighing down his eyelids. He wanted to stay awake, but he just couldn't. He felt so tired...

"Take care of Des for me, okay?"

He opened his mouth to answer Eddie but nothing came out. He felt himself tipping over and then...

"And tell her that I understand."

Darkness.

IIiII

His eyes fluttered open and he squinted up at the white and blinding ceiling. Groaning, he held his head as he got up slowly. He looked down to see that he was on a bed and another look around told him that he was in the infirmary. He rubbed his eyes and faintly noted that his head didn't hurt anymore.

Then it all came back to him.

His eyes widened as he remembered he had met Nancy and—oh my god he actually spoke with him—Eddie in a place the blunette had said was part of 'the Bridge', which was a sort of Purgatory. He began taking deep breaths, just so he didn't start hyperventilating.

"Ah, you're awake now?" He looked up to see the nurse walking over to him.

"Yeah," he answered, managing a meek smile. The nurse clicked her tongue and felt his forehead.

"Well, you aren't very warm and you seem fine now. I suppose you may go." She peered at him over her glasses. "You scared quite a few of your classmates with your fainting, Mr. Averia."

He felt his cheeks turn pink as he slid off the bed. "It wasn't my fault, ma'am."

"I know, dear." She patted him on the arm and handed him his backpack which had apparently been right by his bedside. "Off you go, then."

Muttering a thank you, he took his backpack and slowly walked out of the infirmary. He looked at his watch and noted that his last class was only fifteen minutes away from ending. Deciding that there was no point in going, he began heading towards the exit of the campus. Shifting his backpack, his mind went back to the conversation he'd had when he had been unconscious. A smile subconsciously appeared on his face when he recalled how they had reassured him that his feelings for Destiny were his own.

He then frowned when he remembered the last two sentences Eddie had told him before he blanked out. Or rather, what the other had told him to tell Destiny. What did he understand? Obviously it had something to do with Destiny, but would she realize what the message would be about?

In regards to the sentence before that request, he let out a chuckle. He didn't need his past life to tell him to take care of her. He had already planned to.

Wait. Past life.

He stopped walking and immediately started searching his backpack for his cell phone. Finding it, he went to look at the text message he had read before fainting. The black words seemed almost foreboding.

What do you want to know about your past life?

He frowned at the screen. He should have asked them if they knew who had sent it. After all, it was thanks to this message that caused him to faint and awaken in that place.

The phone vibrated and he nearly dropped it. He hesitated before pressing the buttons necessary to view the new message.

Have your questions been answered?

Or do you still feel doubts?

He froze again and he briefly wondered if he was going to faint again. However, none of that came. Calming down his beating heart, he thought about what he knew.

1. Whoever sent him the messages obviously had connections to the magic...kingdom, as Destiny and the others so put it.

2. They knew he had been sent to the Bridge.

3. They knew he talked to Nancy and Eddie.

4. They knew what they talked about.

5. Which meant that they were watching him.

A thought then crossed his mind. What if...what if the sender was...Them? The Gods who apparently dwell in Tentou, like Nancy had mentioned. It would explain number one to five, that was for sure. Then that meant that the reason he had met Nancy and Eddie was due to 'divine intervention'.

He blinked and couldn't help but feel grateful. After all, the meeting was to ease his mind and answer his questions, apparently. How many people could honestly say that the Gods had arranged it so that their petty problems would be solved? Because even he felt that his doubts weren't that serious. Did this mean he was in Their favor? He had no idea, but perhaps Nancy might know. She did mention how the Tanaka clan was descended from Sulania, the head Goddess, and the blunette was part of that family.

Chuckling, he pressed MENU and was about to put it away when it vibrated again.

1 new message

'Great,' he thought, clicking VIEW. However, he soon changed his mood when he realized who it was from.

i'll be home in a hour or so. can u come so i can explain wat ive been doing?

Chris shook his head, laughing, as he pressed REPLY. "Oh, Des, I have some explaining to do, too. This is going to make an interesting conversation when we meet."