The first few days went as expected. Miko and Zekel fought like wild dogs. You could hear them yelling at each other constantly from the temple courtyard... Eventually, the two of them gave up, having exhausted themselves. Zekel had every rite to be mad. His daughter was permanently injured in the care of her so-called guardian. Miko, in her own stubbornness, couldn't see that Zekel really cared about her and that she was a lot like him.

After that, Miko settled in and it was like she never left. She spent a lot of her time telling and retelling her siblings, and their friends, stories of her adventures with Xion. She left out some of the really bad parts, like her dying and she didn't mention Mora's passing. That was still too hard to talk about. Even though Miko didn't know Mora that well, and they didn't quite get along, the little bit of time she did know her seemed like a lifetime. Death was a hard for anyone. It's not something you can prepare for, like an exam.

Miko worried about Xion a lot. She wrote him letters, sent him a few of Kish's drawings. After the twins', Mana and Go, birthday party in mid summer, the rainy season started. It rained all day, every day. Three weeks of rain. The rivers and the fields flooded. The kids had to be cooped up inside. Antsy to enjoy a hot sunny day. Every year for about a month the rain came down as it did. It helped the rice fields and prevented draughts. A feat her father dedicated to Rizui.

Finally, only a few weeks before Miko had to return to school, it stopped raining. Kish begged Miko for three days before she let him play outside. The outside world needed time to dry out. The fields were still flooded and the rivers were swollen. Racing like angry beasts. Three days and finally Miko relented to the young child's whining and begging. While Mana and Go were in the temple with their father, doing Ruzui knows what, Miko took Kish to play.

Miko walked with Kish outside. She warned him to be careful as he splashed in puddles and chased frogs outside. The young child was filthy and wet, covered in mud, Miko wanted him to come back with her inside. The boy would catch a cold soon. The temperature was still cool at 70 degrees and overcast. He was having so much fun and every time she talked about dragging him back in, Kish would pout and cry. He had her wrapped around his finger. Kish had always been her baby.  He was her shadow. When he was an infant, he would cry if Miko or Asuna wasn't holding him or within eye sight. The boy was spoiled.

Miko and Kish were walking down by the river. "Stay away from the edge. It's dangerous" She warned as the boy splashed in puddles. "One... Two... Tree... Fur..." He counted in a sweet sing-songy voice as he hopped along puddle to puddle. Miko stopped to glance up at the sky. She heard rumbling in the distance, was it going to rain again? She also couldn't tell what time it was. She was sure it was getting late and it was time to head back. Maybe she could trick him into a race and think it's a game... Miko was gazing up at the sky, looking at the darker grey clouds in the distance. It was only for a moment she had taken her eyes off of Kish. When she turned back, he was gone.



Fear and panic rose up in Miko. "Kish? Kish where are you?" He was just there. Away from the edge. Without hesitation Miko ran to the water's edge. The river was still swollen and raging. Her heart skipped beats and she began hyper ventilating as she screamed for Kish, desperately searching for signs of the boy.

What seemed like hours but only a mere thirty seconds, she saw the blur of his red jacket in the water down river. Miko jumped in the rushing, cold river, flailing her arms about as the river swept them both downstream.  She could barely keep her head above water, spitting out the dirty water as she kept trying to get closer to the red jacket. She couldn't see if he was in it.

"Kish! Kish!"Miko screamed every time her head bobbed out of the water. Finally, she was able to grab ahold of him. She had struggled to get to him, how she managed, it didn't matter. She clung desperately to the boy trying to keep them both afloat as they tumbled over the small waterfall.

When Miko awoke on the banks of the calmer part of the river, it was nightfall. The moon was the only light as she quickly vomited up river water upon her awakening. A few feet to her left was a red blob. It was Kish. Miko crawled to the boy and shook him. He had a coughing a spasm after a moment of being unresponsive. He, too, vomited up some river water. "Mi...Mi..." He said weakly. She quickly hushed him, sitting him up in her arms. "Hush... Shh... It's okay. We're okay..." Miko desperately tried to cover the fear in her voice. She had no idea where they were or how they would get home. It was now cooler out and they were both wet. She had to decide if they stayed there and waited for someone to find them, or morning light... Or should she try to carry him back? Back where? It was too dark to see. Kish coughed and made a gurgling sound. His breathing was shallow and it sounded rough. There probably still was water in his lungs. Even though they were both cold and wet, she had to get him out of there. Miko picked up the shivering small child in her arms and began walking. She thought about making a torch but she couldn't hold her baby brother and a torch. What if he moved his hand and burned himself? Miko held the child tight against her, bridal style, but he was far heavier than he used to be. Miko awkwardly put him down for a moment. The boy barely could stand as he had another gurgling coughing fit. Miko placed him on her back and gave him a piggyback ride. "Momma... Momma..cold..." Little Kish said, whimpering. Miko hushed him and tried to make him feel better. She could feel his little arms wrap tighter around her as she began to sing a song to sooth him. She just made it up as she went. Listening to his bubbly breathing. "We're on an adventure... Walking through the woods... We're going home now... But Mama said we could... We're on an adventure... Don't cry on me now... We'll see some dinosaurs but don't make a sound..." her song was stupid but she just kept singing as Kish's grip loosened on her. His whimpering quieted down and Miko kept singing. After some time, Miko stopped. She stopped moving, stopped singing.

"Kish? Kish?" She asked softly, shaking the boy. He was unresponsive. Miko squatted down and slid him off her back and cradled him in her arms as She sat down. She called him again, shaking him. Her voice cracking as she kept calling him. But his lips were blue and his eyes were closed.

Miko felt hot tears down her face as she whimpered then screamed for help, just holding her brother, until her lungs were raw and she was sobbing. "-Ko? Kuniko?!" A voice in the distance called. Miko looked up and she saw lights in the distance. Somebody was looking for her! "Here! We're over here! Hey!" She screamed as the lights came closer. Soon her father and several others appeared. "Kuniko! Kish!" Zekel nearly shouted with joy but he stopped when he saw the two of them.


"Papa. Papa help me. Kish is sleeping. He won't wake up. He was gurgling and whimpering earlier. Papa. Help." Miko pleaded with her father as she tried to stand, her legs unable to support her. Zekel and another man knelt in front of the children and Zekel placed a hand on Miko and then it slid down to Kish's head and face.

Kish was soon pulled from Miko's arms by the men and whisked away back towards the direction they came from. Everyone frantically chatting and whispering amongst themselves. Miko didn't understand what was going on and looked to Zekel as he wrapped a blanket around her and scooped her up. His face stern, like always, but stone cold. Emotionless. That wasn't normal."Papa... He'll be okay... Right?" She asked weakly, as he walked her back. He kept pace with the group but behind enough he was alone with Miko. Several of the searchers kept looking back but Zekel did nothing but stare dead ahead. She swore she heard him call her little one and tell her to Hush as she became lightheaded and passed out in his arms. Not a moment too soon, for tears fell down his face.

Back at the temple a distraught family awaited their return. Zekel handed Miko off to an awaiting servant who took her to her room. Zekel pulled Asuna into the room where Kish was brought to. A doctor was there for him and within moments of the door shutting, you could hear Asuna scream.

Miko was in a coma for the next few days. When she awoke, it was midday. The house was quiet and asleep in a chair beside her was Zekel. As she stirred, he awoke as well. "Kuniko?" He asked placing a hand on her head. She had a fever and her cheeks were flushed."Papa? Papa where's Kish?" She asked softly. Zekel's eyes soften as she looked weakly around the room. Before he could answer, Mana and Go came into the room. They were tired and emotionally destroyed. Seeing Miko awake put a small smile on their face. Mana crawled into bed with Miko, sobbing and hugging her sister. Go stood at the end of her bed, trying to be manly and strong but Miko motioned for him to come to her and he broke down as well, falling in her arms. She asked where their mother and Kish were. She could feel the intensity in the room as the children tensed up in Her arms.

Zekel tried to wave it off, telling the children to let her rest but Miko wasnt having it. She demanded to know and Zekel stood there, facing off against his stubborn daughter again. But his voice was soft when all he said was "I'm sorry, Kuniko."

Miko's eyes went wide as she sprung out of bed and scrambled down the hall. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. "Kuniko!" Zekel called after her as he followed. She was quick and made it to Kish's room before he did. As she swung open his door, there in the rocking chair was Asuna. She looked up in surprise but her eyes showed that she had been crying. "My dear daughter... My sweet girl..." Asuna rose as Miko collapsed to her knees. She shook her head, repeating No over and over again. Asuna pulled Miko towards her and cried softly, telling her oldest daughter that she was so sorry and that there was nothing they could do.

Xion. Xion could fix it! He can fix anything! Miko began spouting about calling Xion. She hysterically cried out for someone to call her teacher. He could make Kish better. He could make a potion or do a spell. Her cries broke everyone's heart. Several servants had gathered when they heard a commotion. Miko couldn't breathe. She shook violently then threw up next to herself. She felt dizzy and couldn't think. Zekel stepped in and scooped her up, wiping her mouth with a handkerchief he had in his pocket. Leaving it on the ground as he scooped up his eldest daughter and carried her hysterically crying body away....


Kish's funeral was a few days later. Miko spent every waking moment alone in her room. She didn't eat at all. She was just tinkering away at something after asking a servant for some craft supplies and wood. She told her mother she wouldn't be returning to school and to send a letter to Xion just saying that. Asuna confided in her husband who went to have a talk with Miko. A gentle one, Asuna pleaded.

Miko was carving something, her hands with minor burns and bandaids on them. Several scorch marks on her desk under the supplies peaked out. The conversation went about as one suspected:
"You're going back"
"No."
"Yes"
"Make me."
"I will end you"
"Fight me, IRL."

Zekel sighed and before he left in defeat, he asked what she was doing. "Kish liked the foxes running in a circle Xion made for him out of magic. I can't do it. I'vee tried. So I'm making him one by hand." She said chiseling away at the wood. Her work was crude and sloppy. But it all made sense now. Zekel stepped up behind her and placed his hand over hers, taking the wood and knife. As She turned to protest, he began to smooth out her work and make it look like a better fox.

Together, they made a little mobile with foxes that could be staked in the ground. They then planted it together on Kish's gravesite. "You cannot give up on life, Miko."
"I know..."
"I will take you tomorrow."
"I'm scared to face him. I can't tell him I..." Her voice cracked.
"If anyone understands, it's that damned wizard."