stupid glitches. :P

True. Which begs the question, how the hell did Medrien, Palla, Phoenix, and Hayden get here without me in the first place?

Well, Selian sent me in here to get updated. I guess I'll find out in the next few minutes.

Hopefully that question and others, like how the hell we're going to save the Spirit World, will be answered.

It's like three hours later, and I still don't feel like I'm getting any useful information. Calum was wrong though. It took Medrien a full hour to realize that he couldn't get to the human world without me. Stupid.

I lean back in my seat, arms crossed. I'm tempted to put my feet on the table. So I do. And no one stops me because they're all still freakin arguing over the black ice and what to do about it. Apparently no one really knows anything but they're all pretending to know something so they can feel like they're accomplishing something. I'm starting to feel like I'm not going to get updated at all and Selian just sent me in here to get babysat. He's probably off doing Something Important with Phoenix and Palla or whatever. I know he didn't take Medrien because he's asleep on my shoulder. Drooling. I AM kind of grossed out, thanks for asking.

I kick his chair. He snorts a little and then settles back down. I kick his chair harder. His forehead wrinkles a little but nothing else happens. So finally I just plug his nose and cover his mouth patiently until he wakes up, gasping.

"What the fuck, Sym?" Medrien says, blue eyes wide.

"Where's Selian?" I say coolly. Medrien just shrugs, but he's not really looking me in the eyes. "Medrien, tell me right now. Where. The. Fuck. Is. Selian." I give my best glare. I'm getting really pissed off now. No one's telling me anything, they just abandon me to do who the hell knows what, and you know what, I'm fucking exhausted and in pain.

I guess Medrien sees that because he sighs and looks really guilty. But he still doesn't say anyting. Okay, you know what, fine. They won't tell me a fucking thing, I'm going home to the human world. To sleep. And I want a bath, goddammit, I feel like I'm covered in half the forest.

I stand up and start to walk out. Medrien tries to stop me, but I just give him The Look, and he sits back down, resigned. I feel a bit bad about using it cause Medrien's just following orders, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm almost by the door when I feel someone stuff something into my pocket. I glance back just in time to see Medrien sitting back down. I walk out of the door and out of the inn before I look to see what he gave me. It's a green pebble. It seems to be from the same sort of rock that my pendant had come from (before it melted and Bad Stuff Happened). Well, I'll be damned. That's pretty damn useful seeing's how I'm pretty much at the end of my rope, energy wise. This would give me enough energy to get myself home without even collapsing at the end. I wonder where he got it. Ah well.

I go to the edge of the forest and focus on getting home.


Well, that was hellish. I look down at my hand. The pebble's a little warped now but still good. I look up to see where I've landed myself. I'm outside of a small gray house with a dead-looking lawn. Gah. My dad's house. Well, it makes sense, I guess. I focused on getting home, but the apartment building's burned down. I guess this was next best thing. Dammit.

I…don't really want to go in. I'd rather just sleep on the lawn or something. But. I want a shower. And…he's probably lonely without me. Maybe. I don't presume to know a drunk man's mind. Actually, I try not to think about him too much.

I walk a little closer. That shrubber looks kinda comfortable. Maybe. Not really. Okay, it doesn't, but I'm desperate. This is probably the only lawn I can sleep on without the police getting called on me. I probably should have just stayed in the Spirit World. But they're jerks and obnoxious and mean (except for Medrien). Hmph.

I'm right by the window when my ears perk up. Voices inside the house. That's really weird. The last time my dad had someone over was never. I wipe some dirt off the window so I can see in. And then I blink. I'm way beyond pissed now. More like in a rage.

I go up to the door and turn the doorknob. It's unlocked like usual. I walk in and there they are. My dad, Phoenix, Selian, and Palla.

"How nice," I say sweetly though my voice wavers. "A family reunion. I'm so glad I was invited."

"Sym," Selian says warningly. I can actually feel my eyes flash.

"No, Selian," I say and my voice is harder than I've ever heard it. "Don't you fucking dare. Explain what the fuck you're doing here. Right now."

"We are talking to your father," he answers. Well, obviously.

I make a sound like a buzzer. "Wrong answer, Selian. Try again."

"It is not something you need to know," Selian says, his eyes going darker.

"Oh no, you lose. Please come back again next time when you're not such a jerk," I hiss. I think the game metaphor's gone over Selian's head, but he still gets angrier.

"Why can you not just do what you are told?" Selian demands. "We do this for your own protection!"

"Well, if you'd tell me what the hell was going on, maybe I would!" I yell back.

"You are still such a child," Selian says disgustedly. I can't even breathe I'm so angry. Phoenix and Palla are just standing off to the side with their blank faces on.

"Just fucking tell me and I'll go away," I proclaim. Selian doesn't answer.

But my dad does.

"We were discussing your mother," he says, strangely lucid. "They think she has something to do with the problems that they're dealing with."

I feel like I was just punched in the stomach. My…mother…

"Why?" is all I can gasp out. His face goes bitter and closed, mouth tightening.

"She was the last Guardian. Before you. And she's still alive."

Still…alive…My whole world is reeling. I think I'm gonna pass out soon.

"Enough," Selian barks out. "Do not say anymore."

"But…you said she was dead…" I can't figure out the tone of my voice. Everything's too jumbled. My emotions are going haywire.

He starts to laugh, long and hard. It makes me shudder, like he's scraping his nails on a chalkboard. It's dark all around him, like he covered himself in shadows. And it's growing, like it's trying to take over the entire room. His aura…

"She left," he says, still laughing. "She left because she just couldn't take it anymore. The baby was always crying, it always had diapers to be changed, I was out of a job…And then she was gone. Gone." He stops laughing, his jaw working. A film descends over his eyes, lucidity disappearing. I can't see the floor, it's so black. I feel like I'm sinking in quicksand. I can't move. I don't have the will to move. Maybe…I'll just stay right here…I'll just go to sleep…

And then the blackness swallows everything up.

Even me.


I wake up in a dim room. There are windows but those are covered by sheer swamp colored drapes. Blocks of gray stone make up the walls and floor. They give off a faint silvery sheen, like moonlight. Little whispers of silvery light float through the air, continually revealing and enshrouding the room. It feels like I'm at the bottom of a well. The bed covers are thin and match the drapes. They are edged with lace and somehow that adds to the underwater effect. The bed itself is huge with four posts and there's some sort of drape-type thing over my head. A canopy, is that what it's called? I don't know.

I sit up slowly. I feel hot and pleasantly foggy. I reach up to move my hair out of my eyes, and my hand shakes. My hair is damp with sweat. And to my surprise, it's loose. I look down and see that I'm not wearing my own clothes anymore. I'm wearing a sleep shirt and pants that are slightly too big for me. They're silk and white. The color of purity.

There's the low sound of a door being opened. Feeling like I'm moving in slow motion, I look up just in time to see Selian close the door behind him. He has a somber look on his face as he walks closer to me. His steps are loud in the utter silence of the room. He stops at the foot of the bed.

"How are you feeling?" he asks quietly.

"Okay," I say hoarsely.

"Do you remember anything that happened…" he trailed off hesitantly. For once, he seemed unsure of himself.

"Yes," I answer. "I remember."

"You do not sound shocked or…upset."

"I'm not," I say simply. I couldn't find it in myself to get angry or be surprised.

"What do you feel then?" he asks. He has a look on his face like he didn't want to ask that but couldn't stop himself.

"I'm…tired," I say slowly. He doesn't say anything for a moment.

"Do you think you are ready for some food?"

"I guess." I shrug. He thinks for a moment and then motions to me to follow him. I swing my legs over to the side of the bed and stand up. The stone blocks are cool beneath my feet. He opens the door, waiting patiently for me before shutting it.

Oh, whoa. One step outside the room and all of a sudden the fogginess just evaporates. The feelings of timelessness and surrealism that the room gave were gone. I don't…I don't feel calm anymore. I think I'm more close to panic now.

"Sym, are you alright?" Selian asks. I take a deep breath and make an effort to stop shivering.

"Fine," I say brusquely. Just peachy keen.

"Your body is in a state of shock from the earlier events and from leaving that room," Selian explains almost gently.

"Why would leaving that room put me in a state of s-shock," I say, biting my lip because the damn shivering was making me stutter.

"We put you in that room as sort of a…balm. It would give you a feeling of calm until you were more ready to deal with the…revelations."

"Well, then, I'm really not ready, can I go back in there?" I try to joke. Ugh. I know. It doesn't even classify as a joke.

"Unfortunately, we do not have the time that we would like. The black ice is spreading to the oceans now." Selian's mouth tightens minutely. He looks drained.

I give an inward sigh. That room was kinda creepy anyway. Eerie.

"Let us go the kitchens. You can eat, and I will talk," Selian suggests. I give him a weird look. Now he wants to talk?

"O-kay," I say doubtfully.

"Medrien had a…talk with me," is all Selian says.

Ah. Heh. Medrien probably felt guilty as hell about all the secret-keeping and finally just snapped. Poor Medrien.

I follow Selian to the kitchen. Once there, some food is placed in front of me. It's not any kind of food I recognize, but I eat it anyway. The food is usually pretty good here. Cept for that one green thing which I now avoid like the plague.

"So, talk," I demand. Selian quirks an eyebrow at me, and I feel like he's rolling his eyes at me. Well nyah to him too. "My mom's alive?" I'm proud of myself for being able to say that without wanting to just gape.

"It's not quite that simple," he says.

Well, you know, I thought it was. You're either dead or alive. There's really not much room for in between unless she was sick or something. Even then, you're technically alive.

"We know that your mother left when you were just a child. But what we don't know is if anything has happened to her in the interim or why she left. We were trying to figure out that information from your father, but he did not know much more than we did." Selian takes a sip of his hot tea.

"What did he say?" I ask, morbidly curious.

"Not much more than what you heard. He just said that she seemed to be more and more unhappy until she finally left. She did not tell him why or even leave a note," he answers.

I think of what my dad said. She was just…gone. Gone where? Gone why? And what does this have to do with the black ice? I say the last question out loud.

"Your mother was the previous Guardian of the Spirit World. We were hoping that she might have been able to shed some light on the situation."

"It was pretty much a shot in the dark, wasn't it," I say dryly. Selian takes another sip of his tea and doesn't deign to answer. After a pause, I ask, "Why didn't you guys tell me?"

"We were hoping to protect you from knowledge you might not be ready for. After all, your father had done enough damage to you," he says bluntly. Well, ouch. And protecting me? How screwed up was their world that they thought what they'd done was protection.

"Way to go, Selian," says Medrien, flopping down in the seat next to Selian. Phoenix and Palla follow in after him and sit across from us.

"Where'd you come from?" I ask.

"I wanted to see how badly Selian was screwing up the explanation," Medrien says with a cheeky grin. "I don't really know why they came." He leans toward Selian and Selian pretends that he doesn't exist. "And really, Selian, you shouldn't be allowed around children. You're evil."

"I'm not a kid," I say indignantly. I glare at the both of them.

"Aww, how cute, he's pouting," Medrien teases. I scowl.

"In comparison to us, you will be a child for a long time," Selian compares almost patiently. "And so we thought it best if we shielded you from some of our investigations. We did not know how you would take it."

At first I can't even speak I'm so angry. But then I find the words.

"Gee, guys, thanks for the protection. I felt so loved when you guys left me lying in the dirt right after the fire was put out," I say, voice loaded with sarcasm. "And honestly, when you yelled at me for coming to my own house, that was just great! Freaking awesome! And all the secret keeping? Wonderful! And acting like you don't give a crap about me? That just puts the fucking icing on the cake!" I'm almost yelling at this point. "Bravo, guys," I choke out. "Bravo."

Medrien winces with every sentence and looks ashamed. Phoenix and Palla exchange glances. Selian is still blank-faced as usual. It makes me grind my teeth.

"What the fuck is wrong with you, Selian? Don't you care? Are you so freaking old and powerful that you've forgotten how to treat someone with respect?" I want to fucking shake him.

"I am…sorry," Selian finally says. He doesn't look that sorry but at least he said it. I feel a little bit of the anger drain out of me.

"Me too," Medrien says woefully. "We didn't mean to leave you, but we had to take care of Hayden. We didn't have the energy to take both you and Hayden with us. We were going to come back for you once we'd gotten some stuff from the Spirit World, but you'd already left. And then Selian found you in the forest."

…Hayden! I'd completely forgotten about him! Wow. But…

"…still. That was kinda careless," I say, making a face. "I mean, aren't I important?" It's mortifying, but I'm trying not to cry. I guess I try not to show it too much, but it really hurt when they treated me like that.

"Of course you're important!" Medrien hastens to reassure me. I guess I don't look totally convinced because he adds, "Not cause you're a Guardian either. 'Cause you're Sym."

Well. That was better. A little.

A little sniffle escapes me.

Then Medrien jumps on me, and my chair topples to the floor. Oww…

"It's pain borne out of my love for you!" Medrien cries. I push him off me. But I don't kick him. I may even smile a little at him. And Medrien gives a grin full of stars. I look up to everyone else.

"What'd you guys do with Hayden?" I ask.

"He's sleeping in a room in the Palace, as you so charmingly put it," Palla answers a little dryly. "We're going to talk to him as soon as he wakes up because obviously his power could be really helpful to us."

"He's a magic snuffer outer," I say knowledgably.

"…something like that," Palla says.


"Just quit trying." But she's smiling affectionately.

"Sym, how are you feeling?" Selian asks. Medrien had gotten off the floor, but I am still sitting there. I'm a little too shaky still.

"Kinda tired," I say and punctuate it with a yawn.

"Your regular room is prepared," Selian informs me. "It is right down the hall. We will wake you up when Hayden wakes up."

I nod. I think something over for a minute before deciding just to say it.

"Uh…how is my dad?" I ask a little hesitantly. Selian and Medrien exchange looks.

"He is in a stupor at the moment," Selian answers. "He did not take well to the questioning. He should be fine in a day or two."

I'm surprised that I feel relief. I usually just try to feel indifferently about him.

"Thanks," I say. I slowly stand up, using the table for balance. I walk towards the door and Palla and Medrien follow me. I turn back to see Phoenix and Selian still sitting there. Selian gives me a genuine half-smile which is more than he usually gives anyone besides Medrien. Maybe he really is sorry. Phoenix just stares stonily back. I frown. What had I done to him that deserved him being so mean? Well, fine. Be a bastard. See if I care. I turn up my nose at him and walk down the hall to my room.

Medrien and Palla follow me because they're rooms are usually near mine, so they can protect me if there's any danger. Palla gives me a hug and messes up my hair before going to her own room.

Hah. I knew she cared.

Medrien gives me a hug too though gentler than the one in the kitchen. Thank god, I don't know if I would have survived a second one.

"Don't be too mad at Phoenix," Medrien says with a sad smile. "He's just really bad at relationships."


"I mean friendships," he corrects himself.

"Um. Okay," I say, feeling a little weirded out.

"Really, Sym. He's just bad at showing that he cares and that he was worried and that he's sorry. I know this 'cause I've been friends with him for soooooo long. He really was just worried about you and feeling really guilty for hurting you like that, I could tell by the quirk of his eyebrows," Medrien says, nodding adamantly.

"…you got all that from his eyebrows?"

"Yes!" Medrien says, happy that I apparently understood.

"…right. Goodnight." I turn to go into my room but Medrien puts a hand on my shoulder.

"Honestly, Sym. Believe me," he says earnestly.

"No offense, Medrien, but I'm not gonna believe it til he says it himself."

"…you two are both so stubborn!" he says, frustrated.

"He's the one being such a jackass!" I say incredulously. "I didn't do a damn thing to him but he glares at me like I killed his beloved pet kitten!"

"You don't get it, Sym! You ARE his beloved pet kitten! That's why he's so mad!" Medrien wails.

…was it my imagination or was Medrien on the verge of tears?

"Are you okay?" I say, concerned.

"I'm fine!" he bursts out. "You two are just so--so stupid!" He suddenly gives a deep sigh. "I give up."

I blink. That was so…un-Medrien-like. He never gave up. I reach up and check his forehead for fever. Wait, can Spirits get sick? …hm. That was a question for another day.

"Medrien…" I say a little anxiously.

"Don't worry about it, Sym." He gives a tense smile. I frown. What could I do to cheer him up…

And then it hits me. I brighten and then immediately frown again. But ugh, do I really want to do this? Actually, I can't believe I was even debating this. Medrien is a person meant to be happy and smiley. He shouldn't frown. I nod determinedly. Of course I would do it.

I look up to see Medrien giving me a weird look. It looks like the look I give him sometimes. When I'm trying to understand his thought processes. Heh.

"Hey…you want to sleep in my room tonight?"

Medrien instantly looks like a bunny on crack. "YOU MEAN LIKE A SLEEPOVER?!"

…Okay, I admit it, I suffer a few seconds of regretting my offer. But I swallow and stay strong.

"Uh, yeah. Sure." I back away a little. Oh my god, I think it's possible to look like you swallowed a lightbulb.

"I'm so happyyyyyyyyyy," he says, dancing in place. I smile a little. Because you know, that was the goal. To make him happy. I like it when Medrien's happy.

"But what the fuck was that kitten comment?"

"Awww, you're so cuttee," he says, ruffling my hair. Meh. Fine. Don't tell me.

And no, I don't care if I AM pouting.

We walk into my room, and Medrien stretches and sits down onto one of the twin beds. I think he's about to start chattering about sleepovers, but he just yawns and falls asleep within a few minutes. Sometimes it amazes me how energetic he can be and then right afterward he's dead to the world. I shake my head at him and then collapse onto my own bed.

I dream.

sorry for any grammar/spelling/whatever problems and/or plot holes. tell me if you find one :)