Gazing at the bright, afternoon sky, she wanted nothing more than to be out in the open warmth of the world. Her small hands gently pressed against the patio window as she balanced herself on the tip of her toes. She caught sight of an older girl running across the yard and around towards the garden. She lightly bit her bottom lip as she envied the girl. She felt a tear roll down her cheeks and wiped it away.

She didn't understand why she was treated differently than everyone else. Wasn't she the same as them? She was a child who was eager to experience the world and life like anyone else. So why? Why?

"Kagami-chan," called a sweet voice. The little girl turned around and saw a woman standing a few meters behind her. The woman was in her late thirties but her beauty and elegance kept her young and attractive. Her long, black hair was braided back, swaying behind her. She wore a white blouse beneath her creamy-yellow vest and a pair of pants to match it. She knelt down to Kagami and placed a floral hat on her head. Her mysterious, green eyes tenderly gazed at the little girl. "I want you to be happy, Kagami-chan."

Kagami nodded and hugged her mother, "Thank you, mama!" She loved her mother very much, but that was only natural.

Unlike with her other children, Kaoru Seigawa had a deeper bond with Kagami. She helped the little girl adjust the hat so her adorable pigtails would be comfortable. "Am I pretty, mama?!" she asked excitedly.

Kaoru gently stroked the girl's face, noting the familiar features. "Like an angel," she answered quietly. Kagami looked exactly like herself, reminding her of the innocent childhood she lost. It seemed Fate gave her a second chance through her daughter, but this time, she would do all she could to keep that innocence from being tainted. Not only for Kagami, but her other children as well. She stood up and held her hand out to Kagami, "Now let's go for a walk."

The girl nodded and took her mother's hand.



Endless Game

created & written by K-chan

Prologue



Kagami started to wander around the huge backyard after her mother left for a phone call. She looked back and could still see her mother standing by the patio table with a young woman. Her attention focused on some voices in the distant. They sounded so much like her sister and brother. She walked around, searching for them, wanting to play with them. She went farther away from the house, losing sight of the older women, and came upon a small hill that overlooked a pond. The breeze picked up slightly as she secured her hat with both hands.

Her face lit up as she recognized the place her family would enjoy time together. The big tree they would have picnics under was there. She carefully descended the hill with her hands against the grassy surface like it was a mountain. The breeze suddenly blew her hat off her head and down towards the lake. "No!" she cried as she reached her hand out too late. She watched as her hat intertwined within the branches of the huge tree.

She tried to hurry down the hill. Nearing the bottom, her hands slipped, letting her body slide to the level ground. She immediately got up and ran towards the tree. She tripped and fell on all four limbs, breathing heavily. She sat and rested a bit, feeling very tired. She put her right hand to her heart and felt how fast it was beating. At moments, it would hurt, and she would start to cry from the pain in her chest. She laid down on the grass, curling herself into a ball. She closed her eyes, hoping to be in her mother's arms instead of the lonely scenery, "Mama..."

It wasn't too long when she felt arms around her small body, and she was lifted into the air. Knowing her mother would come, Kagami buried her face into her mother's chest, but then she opened her teary eyes again, realizing there was something different about her mother. She looked up and gasped at an unfamiliar face.

The young man smiled warmly at her and wiped her tears away. She noticed that he looked different than anyone she had seen before. His light-colored hair sparkled like the sun, and his eyes were blue like the skies. She thought he was beautiful. In a kind, deep voice, he consoled her, "Everything's all right now, so don't cry." His arms held her close, keeping her safe. She didn't know what it was, but it wasn't like how her mother would hold her, but she didn't mind. She liked the different feeling and soon closed her eyes again, slowly drifting into dreams in the arms of the beautiful stranger.

His hand slowly caressed the girl's face, brushing her bangs aside. She was only a child, but from the look in her eyes, she had potential. Fate had a great future for this girl, and he would be the one to guide her to it -- even if it was for his own goal.



Kagami woke up from what seemed like a dream and realized she was in her bedroom. She rubbed her eyes and sat up in her bed, now wearing a different dress. She recalled the stranger's gentle face and the warm embrace that she liked. Was it all a dream? But it felt so real.

From outside the window, she saw the day was about to end with the orange sun disappearing behind the trees. She climbed out of bed and headed for the ajar door, wondering where everyone was.

When she stepped into the hall, she heard her mother's voice angrily shouting something. Worried, Kagami ran to the end of the hallway where the brightness of the house originated. She stood at the banister to see her brother and sister already at the bottom of the stairway watching the situation. Kagami slowly placed her foot on the first step down as she held to the rail tightly.

"YOU CAN'T TAKE HER AWAY!! YOU CAN'T!!" Kaoru shouted with her anger becoming sadness, "Another 'game'! I'll play another 'game'! Just don't take her away!"

Kagami felt her body tremble as her parents came into view. Not only were her parents there, but her older brother as well. And there was the blonde stranger. His expression was calm and serious as he watched her mother continued. Kaoru turned to her husband for support, but as much as it pained him, he could not go back on his words. He should've realized the 'game' was over before it even began. There was something peculiar about the stranger before them, but he couldn't figure it out. Even if he did, it was too late. He had lost, and even if his wife had challenged him again, she would have lost too.

The blonde man looked up towards the banister, and his eyes locked on Kagami's figure as she came down the stairs, uncertain with the situation.

Her brother and sister at the bottom of the stairway looked up at her, and Kagami saw a frown on her sister's face as her brother ran up to her, pulling her back from the rail. He whispered to her, "Don't come down, Kagami!" She wanted to ask why, but he continued, "Just don't!!" He tried to take her back upstairs.

"Kagami," the man called.

She stopped and looked back. There was something different in his eyes compared to moments ago. It was the same warm feeling when they first met. Kagami turned to her mother, who sadly looked away.

Her father said, "Kagami, come down here." She obeyed his words and let go of her unwilling brother's hand. Kaoru wanted to run to her daughter and embrace her, but her husband held her back. "Kaoru, you know very well we must keep our word." He glanced at the outsider, sensing an ominous aura about him. He embraced his heartbroken wife, whispering in her ear, "And I doubt if either of us could have won this game."

When Kagami came near them, the blonde man knelt down and extended his hand to her, "Would you like to take a trip, Kagami?" The suggestion intrigued her, so she nodded and took his hand. He didn't seem like a bad person since everyone knew him, but she didn't understand why her mother was upset and crying.

Kagami asked him, innocently, "Are mama and papa and everyone coming too?" He shook his head and stood up, still holding her hand. For some reason, his answer didn't frightened. She was about to leave with a stranger, but it seemed like a normal situation in her mind. No one could understand why, and least of all, Kagami.

He walked towards the exit with the little girl, who looked over her shoulders at her parents with calmness and curiosity in her green eyes. Her mother didn't even look at her, trembling with fear and worry, but her father warned their visitor, "Teijou, remember what you promised us."

Without looking back, he replied, "Don't worry, I will protect her..."

Her two other siblings stood by the front doors, seeing the foreigner leave with their baby sister. "Kagami-chan," her brother called, trying not to cry, but her sister on the other hand held a firm, expressionless face. Kagami looked away, not understanding why everyone was acting strange. She was going to return because it was only a trip. Her father and uncle always returned whenever they went on trips, so why wouldn't she return too?

The only thing the Seigawas could do was watch the young man leave with the precious treasure of the family. When Kagami would returning was unknown, but her mother could only pray that her sweet daughter would be safe and come back to her soon. She clasped her hands together with tears flowing down her face. "Kagami..." she cried, pressed against her husband for comfort, and the tears didn't stop, even years later. Twelve years later...



TO BE CONTINUED... Chapter One: Winter Blossoms