Zephyr clung to Sebastian, trying to hold her balance after the sudden warp. Her head had already been already hurting, now it felt like it was spinning too. Eyes darting from the ground, to the left and right, and then to the sky, she asked, "Wha.... Where are we now...?"
Xavier interrupted her. "Look!" She said, pointing into the distance behind them. Before their eyes was what looked like an ancient Japanese marketplace, filled with warm yellow light and the shouts and laughter that accompanied a festive atmosphere. Glowing lanterns were strung across the road in multiple places, hinting at the sleeplessness of the place; the scent of saltwater and smoke were mixed with a bustling liveliness as men and women wearing Japanese clothing walked to and fro buying and selling goods. No one had noticed the travelers yet.
Zephyr stared in awe at the busy scenery, watching the different figures walking around the bright market. "This... almost looks like Japan from my world!" She exclaimed. "It isn't thought... right?"
Xavier shook her head. "I wouldn't know. I don't think so..."
"Hmm. Guess we should go check it out then? And find a place to rest too, please...."
"Yeah! We've gotta get Onee-chan a place to sleep!" Said John, running ahead. Sebastian supported Zephyr, and Xavier held a sleeping Kai in her arms. He'd fallen asleep in the middle of the conversation, exhausted by the effort he'd expended.
"H-hey John, don't run ahead!" Zephyr yelled after him, not wanting to lose him again. She tried to run, but almost tripped over herself and clung to Sebastian to regain her balance. "Sorry, Sebastian..." She said apologetically.
"That's alright." He turned to Truth. "Keep up with John, please. Can you rein him in a little and stay in one place? I'll find you later and we can look for lodging somewhere."
Zephyr glanced from building to building, a growing frown creasing her forehead as she realized she couldn't read many of the signs. Some of them had a little English written on them, but most of them were written in Japanese. She could speak a little Japanese, but she wasn't very good at reading it. As they walked through the market, people stopped and stared at the odd group, or shot curious glances at them. Zephyr made eye contact with some of them, and nodded slightly in their direction. 'We should pick up some new clothes... We're attracting attention.' she though.
As if he'd read her mind, John came scampering up to them with an armful of cloth. "I talked to the lady over there and she gave me these. She said it's some sort of festival, and that everybody should be dressed for the occasion."
Truth ran up behind him, but didn't say anything. It seemed he was only following John as Sebastian had told him to. It was a little inhuman. Truth never said anything he didn't have to.
Xavier took the clothes from John and nuzzled his hair. "Good job! Now we just have to find a place to stay."
"Wonder what the festival is.... Everyone is dressed up so brightly." Zephyr said, yawning. "Do we need to ask someone where we can stay? I don't mind asking people."
"I could do it!" Said John happily. "I can get anything from anyone with my charms. My big sister taught me." A flash of pain flitted over his face, but he regained his composure quickly, cheerfully skipping away to inquire after an inn or someplace to stay.
"I wonder what happened to her. His sister. He rarely speaks of her." Said Sebastian sadly. Truth was still trailing the green-eyed boy as if a string tied them together.
"...I don't know." Was all Zephyr said. She wondered if John's sister had passed away, for his pained expression was something that she could relate to. Family could be a painful subject.
Sebastian spoke up. "Lady Zephyr... If you don't want to answer my question, I'll respect your decision...but what happened to your family? Are they on your world waiting for you?"
Zephyr lowered her eyes to the ground, not wanting to make eye contact with Sebastian. "They're gone." she said quietly. "My original parents... I don't know what happened to them. One day, they were just gone. No where to be found." Her expression was pained as she though about her other families, and her throat constricted. "I was soon adopted by another family. But.... b-because of me.... they all died.... they were murdered one night." Memories of several dead and bloodied bodies on the floor flashed through her mind. "And then the same thing happened a-again, another family adopted me, and they were all killed...!" Tears now rolled down her cheeks. "Because of their kindness, to t-take me into their homes... they died... be-because of me..."
...'Zephyr...' Hiruma could hear her sobs from the pitch dark of his prison as he rebuilt his strength. Suffering. Everyone underwent some extent of it. He wished with all his heart that Zephyr could've born a smaller share. He'd take it all on himself if he could somehow erase her guilt. He especially hated not being able to offer his comfort. 'Truth... Go back and tell Zephyr...that-' what could he tell her? Words alone didn't heal that kind of hurt. But he had to try.
Truth trotted over, leaned over Zephyr and kissed her on the forehead. Sebastian and Xavier looked at him quizzically. "From ________." He explained.
Zephyr was suddenly taken from her memories by Truth's action, sniffed, and wiped her tears with the back of her hand. "Thank you... and I'm sorry... It's just, everything that happened today, the battle with Finnick... It brought back memories..." She tried to keep the anguish and depression at bay by thinking about the wonderful people she was surrounded by. 'Take your own advice; you just have to face it and accept what happened.' Rangokuen said in her mind.
Xavier looked down pensively, disappointed that that kiss hadn't been for her.
Zephyr cleared her throat, and turned her eyes to the crowd. "John's taking a bit... Should we go find him?"
"Don't worry, Zephyr. We won't let anything happen to him this time." Said Sebastian encouragingly. Then he pointed. "He went in this direction. Let's find him."
"Alright." she said, trudging after him.
Soon, they saw John chatting animatedly with an elderly woman. He saw them and jogged over with a wide smile. "Natsuki -san says we can stay at her house!" He pointed out in the distance. "It's a little bit out of our way, but she says she's not using it since it's a summer home. I can show you the way!"
Zephyr sighed deeply. "Just as long as we have some place to stay, I won't complain. Good job, John!" she said, grinning.
He led them out of the marketplace and onto a small cobbled path that led away from the bright little town. After about a fifteen-minute walk, they came upon a one-floor house surrounded by cherry trees. John grasped a skeleton key in his hand and ran up to the door, opening it and sliding it to the side so that they could all come in. "She said there was a stack of firewood by the stove if we got cold. There's supposed to be two rooms around here somewhere..." He scampered off to explore. Xavier stood in the middle of the living room and turned in a circle with her mouth open.
"It's beautiful." She breathed. Tall vases filled with cherry branches were set around the room, the paper screens decorated in patterns of koi and different plants. Though it was obvious no one had stayed there in a while, it seemed it was regularly taken care of. The mahogany doorframes were polished to brilliance, and the flowers seemed fresh cut.
As Zephyr examined the living room, the smile on her face grew wider and wider. "Wow... This is beautiful!" She exclaimed. Oriental style houses, rooms, or decorations had always been her favorite because of their simple elegance. Yawning, she put a hand over her mouth then asked, "If there's two rooms, how do we want to split them up between all of us?"
"You and Xavier may take one room to yourselves." Said Sebastian. "John and Truth may stay in the other, and I will stay in the living room." In answer to his companion's puzzled looks, he replied, "You can never be too careful in a strange world. We've learned that, have we not? I'll keep watch."
"You're sure you're going to be ok, Sebastian?" Zephyr asked. She almost wanted to ask if he wanted to swap sleeping places with her, not really liking the idea of sharing a room with Xavier. 'It would be a great opportunity for Xavier kill me while I sleep...' Zephyr thought. Rangokuen let out an exasperated sigh in her mind and said, 'Don't be so paranoid. I doubt she would do that.'
"I'll be fine." Sebastian replied. "You go get some rest. I know you're all exhausted."
"I'll stay up with you, Sebastian." John volunteered.
"Thank you, John."
"Well... I guess I'll head to my room. Good night, guys." Zephyr said, walking towards one of the rooms and stopping at the door. "Xavier, you coming?"
"Yeah." They stepped into the room and Xavier rummaged through a few cupboards until she found some bedding. She set them both up an area to sleep and silently slipped under her blanket. After a while, she asked, "Zephyr...will you tell me what's happened to you and ________ since you met? I've caught bits and pieces here and there, but... I want to know what happened. The un-summarized version. If-if you don't mind."
Zephyr slipped under her blankets and lay down on her stomach. "I don't mind. Seems like everyone wants to know something today..." She murmured under her breath. Clearing her throat, she said "Well... the un-summarized version might take a while to explain. Do you really want to hear it all, or just the details that you're missing?"
"I-I want to hear the whole story. I need to know."
"Alright then. Well...." Zephyr started, and began to retell her story.
After Zephyr finished relaying the whole story from the beginning, Xavier lay there for a long time. "Sorry for keeping you awake." She said. Then, though there was a lot on her mind, she covered her face with her blanket and was silent.
Zephyr stared at Xavier for a moment. "Good night, Xavier." She said quietly, then rolled over onto her side and closed her eyes.