"Wake up Lan. Its time for breakfast."
After briefly wrestling with his mom for the blanket, Lan finally accepted his fate and sat up.
He looked around, neither Rock or Rush seemed to be around...
He sighed. "I guess he's already gone, wish I could have said goodbye..."
"Well sweetie, he did." She slipped off a post-it from his forehead.
Dear Lan, I'm sorry that U had to leave while you were still sleeping. I'll call you later when I have time and your out of school. Love you, and good morning, or as they say in Russia, Доброе утро!
Lan couldn't help but smile and get a good morning feeling. Thanks Rock.
He looked around, Solomon else was missing. "Where's Roll?"
"Roll is back at the Lab's helping your Grandpa and Auto."
He hummed a little as he walked out his house to the bus stop. "Ooooooh sometimes, I get a good feeling.."
Maylu was already there, munching on a bagel. "Oh hey Lan, where's Rock?"
"Rock is off to Russia."
"He needs to find some scientist named Cossack. He should be there by now."
"Oh, Okay then. A superhero's work is never done I guess." As the bus came up and sat down, Maylu spoke again.
"Did you start Ms. Mari's homework yesterday?"
"WHAT?" This was news to Lan, who was starting to go into panic. "What homework was due today?"
"Not today, its due Monday. Its the review for our test on Tuesday."
Lan exhaled again. "Oh thank God."
"Me and Roll worked on like a quarter of it, your can come over to my house later to get the answers and help us out."
"Okay, then, thanks!"
As the bus pulled up to Echo Ridge Elementary, they met Roll Caskett as walked off and headed toward the classroom. "MAYLU!" Roll just about tackled her. "Grandpa's home! He woke me up and made me pancakes and he's picking me up and he's going to my soccer practice andthenwearegoingforarideontheflutterandtomorrow-"
"O-Okay Roll, slow down." Maylu was a more than a little discombobulated after all of that.
"Grandpa says he came home from Europe early just to spend time with me! Isn't that great?"
"Yeah, that's wonderful! How long is he staying?"
"For like, 2 weeks!"
"That's great!" Maylu looked at her cell phone. "C'mon, guys, we gotta get inside, the bell is about to ring."
"Okay, wait... where's Lan?"
Maylu look around. "He was just here.."
She turned, and saw Lan at the bottom steps of the entrance.
"Lan, what are you doing?"
"... I'm waiting for Geo."
"Maybe's he in the classroom already! C'mon, lets gooooooo!" As she dragged him into class, Lan turned one last look around.
Something was wrong, he could feel it.
For miles upon miles, thick white snow and icy winds blanketed the Earth.
And he couldn't even see it all, for the sun had gone out for some time now.
But he could feel it in every part of his body.
Many men have lost their lives to General Snow, and he didn't want to join them.
He wore a thick blue parka and goggles, for it would be foolish to go against the Russian winter with bare skin, even if you were a robot.
Rock Hikari settled down in the tundra, his robotic dog with a parka of his own, laid by his side.
It was about 7PM back in California. Time to call in back to the Labs.
"Hey Roll, how's it going?"
"Not so good, I went to the Stravinsky Science research facilities, along with its academy. I bugged all of those place. A got a few mentions of Cossack, but nothing of where he's gone to. I'll try his house tomorrow."
"Well... good luck and stay warm! Its raining here, so we are all inside too. Dr. Light is finishing work upstairs, and Lan is probably off playing video games or sleeping."
"Well let me call Lan myself. Talk to you later Roll." "WOOF!"
"Bye guys, love you both."
Rock called Lan's cell phone, just waiting for his brother's excited voice.
Why aren't you picking up..
Tracking Lan's phone and the GPS in his watch, Rock surmised that he was at a baseball field.
Wait, didn't Roll just say it was raining?
He tried calling again,
just more voicemail.
Rock dialed another number, he knew who to call for this...
Her cell phone started vibrating.
It was Rock, calling from international: Russia.
"Maylu, can you hear me?"
"Yeah Rock. What's up? How is your mission going?"
"Not too good. Anyways, is it raining outside?"
"Yeah, its coming down-"
SCKADOOOOOUSSHHH! Lighting crackled outside
" -pretty badly."
"So what are you doing?"
"Just watching Wreck-It-Ralph."
"So there is nothing going on at the baseball field right?"
"No, of course not, why would there be?"
"Lan is at the baseball field, I-"
"WHAT?" Maylu jumped up. "Why would he be there right now?" Lan's been messed up all day. He broke 3 pencils today in class. I know that was about Geo, and that Lan took off for Geo's house today,he would have messaged me if anything important happened. But this? This doesn't make any sense.
"Could you go down there and get him for me?"
"Of course." She said, going the closet for her raincoat.
"Thanks Maylu, I appreciate it."
"Don't mention it. I'll call you when I have Lan back inside, hopefully without a cold. Later Rock."
It was coming down on the streets of DenTech City tonight.
Droplets of water came down fierce and heavy.
I must be the one idiot walking through this in a mile. All for that stupidboy. She slowed down her pace, cursing Lan.
A terrible thought ran through her mind. What if Lan got in a fight? Images flashed through her mind of Lan getting beat up by some older boys.
She quickened her pace, turning into a full-on sprint in the rain. SPLEESH! SPLEESH! SPLEESH!
Lan had probably been left there, lying in a pool of his own blood...
I'm coming Lan!
As she was nearing the field, she could hear noises coming from inside. THOCK! THOCK! THOCK!
A baseball bat against Lan's ribs. THOCK!
She rounded the corner, past the wooden gate at an entrance, and she saw...
Lan, vest gone, was on the mound, looking at a piece of wood with a strike zone painted on it, his back to Maylu.
He winded up a pitch, throwing a curve-ball with all of his might. It hit the middle of the strike zone. THOCK!
It was then Maylu realized just how many baseball littered home plate. About a dozen, maybe more.
Lan reached down into a bucket, and apparently there was none left, for he picked it up and started walking back to home plate.
He picked them all up, but as he picked up the bucket, he grabbed his arm.
He's strained it. He can't keep it up. He's going to leave soon.
And when he does,
that ass is mine.
Damn you Lan Hikari,
making me come out here for this,
thinking something is wrong with you,
It just fully occurred to Maylu that her best friend was pitching in the rain all alone.
What on Earth on your doing?
Just as Lan was turning around back to the pitchers mound, Maylu hid behind the wooden gate.
THOCK! He hadn't noticed her, already pitching again.
Maylu turned around to watch him some more, still not ready to confront him. She still didn't have a clue on what was going on, what it was all about.
THOCK! He pitched a fastball.
THOCK! Fastball again.
THOCK! Another one.
THOCK! Another. Each one was faster and more fierce than the last.
THOCK! THOCK! THOCK! THOCK!
"IIIIIYYAAAAAH!" Lan roared as he threw this one, and it rocketed toward the plate. She had never seen Lan like this, so furious, so angry...
THOOOOOCK! Maylu thought the impact could be heard for a mile.
"GAAAAAAAAHHH!" Lan collapsed in pain, holding his shoulder.
Oh my God.
His screaming and cries of pain tore at her heart.
Her best friend was laying there, helpless, hurt. Alone.
She couldn't take it anymore.
She rushed towards him.
Hey Lan, wanna ride bikes later?
Lan! I just got the new Ratchet and Clank game, wanna come over to my house later and play?
Lan, check out my cool new Beyblades! Let's play with them now!
You were always there for me Geo...
WHY CANT I EVER BE THERE FOR YOU?
The tears were coming hot down Lan's cheeks.
Sprinting to Geo's house today, Lan was mortified of what he found of his best friend.
He was hurt... so badly...
He should have check on him yesterday, but instead he was gushing all about Rock fighting Bomb Man.
Throwing in all of his fury, Lan hurled the ball square in the center.
THOOOOOCK! He could see fresh cracks in the wood.
Why couldn't he help Geo, after all that Geo did for him?..."
He felt it exploding and splitting apart.
He fell to the ground, screaming.
He was a pitiful sight to behold.
Lying in the dirt, all alone in the rain. With one good arm, screaming like a baby.
He was pathetic.
How can I ever possibly help Geo? I can barely survive to be to take care of myself.
I'm a loser...
He looked up in surprise. "M-Maylu?"
"Its okay, Lan. I'm going to help you get out of this." First step, getting to someplace dry.
The dugouts. "C'mon Lan, just get up and HNNNNG! Yeah, that's it, keep moving, d-d-d-don't fall down..."
Part carrying, part dragging Lan over to the dugouts, seemingly an inch at a time, resting him on the bench, Maylu
Oh...my...God...my heart... is going... to explode.
Now, what was I going to do again. Step one: get out of the rain. Check
Oh wait that's right: Call someone to pick us up.
Getting out her cell phone, she called the person that was most likely not to get them in trouble.
"Mrs. Stelar? Yeah hi, its me Maylu." She added a little nervous laughter, just wincing at what she was about to ask.
"Well, hello to you to! Geo is still sleeping-"
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you!" Maylu said. More nervous laughter. "You see, Lan and I are in a bit of a jam..."
The light bulb in Hope's head went off. She knew exactly what this was about.
She should have seen this coming. Damnit, not again Lan...
"Your at the baseball field right?"
A stunned silence..
"Y-Y-Yeah, but how did you know that?"
"Just sit tight. I'll be there in about 20 minutes."
"O-Okay, see you when you get here..."
"See you Maylu, bye."
Putting down her phone, Maylu felt a little terrified. HOW DID SHE KNOW WE WERE HERE?
Wait, calm down brain. Lan must've told Mrs. Stelar before he left.
Speaking of Lan...
She turned back to him, remembering just how furious she was at him.
How he made her come in freaking ankle deep water.
How he made her drag his ass to shelter.
How they are alone and its dark as hell out here.
how messed up was?
Just looking at him, the anger flowed out of her...
He wasn't the same Lan.
Lan was bright, happy, energetic, outgoing.
Always able to crack a smile or a joke.
No matter what bad thing came is way, he managed to shrug it off and bounce right back.
With that attitude, he could really pick up someone else's day.
Sometimes including her's.
This was like meeting a whole different person.
He was just staring depressingly at the ground, still holding his arm.
Looking beat up, depressed, and defeated.
Starting at him like that, she couldn't get angry at him anymore.
She didn't want to punch his face in anymore.
She wanted to hold his hand, and tell him everything was going to be okay.
She scooted up to his side. "Lan, tell me what wrong, please.
Silence. He didn't even take his eyes off the ground.
"Lan! Please tell me, what is going on, why are are you doing this?"
"Its because," Lan said, look up at here. Tears still flowing his face,
"I'm a terrible best friend."
Terrible best friend?
This isn't the Lan I know.
What is wrong with him..
"Lan, what are you talking about? Your a great best friend."
*sniff "I went over to Geo's house today, and the reason, he wasn't at school today was,
*sniff "he, he,
he," another tear streamed down his cheek. He could barley get the words out.
"he crashed his bike."
"What?" Maylu was shocked. A friend of hers had been injured and she hadn't even known? "H-H-How bad?"
"He got hurt really, really
"And it was because,
because he was up all night finishing that homework packet."
"Wait, FINISHING?" Maylu couldn't believe it. No way could Geo be done that that packet in one night.
"Yeah, he did the whole thing overnight, and because of that, he was tired this morning, and woke up late."
"And because of that, he was rushing to school on his bike, andcrashed into a tree." "And now..."
"Now he's all cut and beat up." *Sniff.
Lan clenched his fist. "And I'M to blame for that! I should have call him yesterday, or SOMETHING."
"I SHOULDN'T HAVE IGNORED HIM!"
Maylu didn't want to see him re-aggravate his arm. "Lan, Lan, Lan! Calm down! There is still something I don't do you feel you feel so responsible for him? Why are you beating yourself up like this?"
"Because, every time I look at Geo,
all I can see is ME!"
"What I used to be like!"
"And then all I could think of is what Geo used to do for me, how he was always around for me. How much I could depend on him for support, know matter what."
"And now, when he's there for me,
I can't do the same!"
Again, this was all new territory to Maylu. She couldn't imagine Lan ever acting like Geo. "Lan, you were like him one time? But how?"
"I used to be really.."
Lan was starting to get tired out.
"Geo would come to the hospital and check on me, call me at the house. That's how we became best friends."
He started sneezing. "ECCHOOO! ECHKCHOO! ECHOOO!" He sat back on the bench, emotionally and physically drained.
He was so tired...
Drooping his head to Maylu's shoulders, Lan passed out and fell asleep.
She started to blush as Lan slept on her. Part of her wanted to push him off.
let him rest...
For what seemed to be an eternity, Maylu just sat there.
Watching the harsh rain settle down to a drizzle.
She glanced at Lan, who was nodding off alongside her.
She thought she knew everything about him.
His family, his personality.
Now she felt that she didn't know him at all.
Lan Hikari, just who are you...
Headlights illuminated the dark field.
Mrs. Stelar came rushing out, in full rain gear with a coat and umbrella.
"Where are you kids?!"
Maylu ran out of the dugout, waving her arms. "Over here! Over here!"
"Shhhh. He's sleeping..."
"Here, take the umbrella, and the car is unlocked, I'll get Lan."
"Listen Maylu," Hope started as they drove down the road, Lan still asleep. "I am so thankful for you coming out and getting Lan. That boy could use a guardian angel.
Shoot, my boy could use one even more." She looked back from here rear-view mirror. Maylu was silent, looking at the floor, like she was still trying to process this whole ordeal.
Hope sighed, she could sympathize with Maylu on that. "Those boys have known each other since they were potty-trained. They got a strong friendship between them. And just knowing those two boys, they gonna do some crazy stunts every now and then."
She looked again, nothing.
Maybe she should try to pick a lighter angle about the subject.
"The boys, they used to run down to the baseball field and watch the older kids play. They would pitch to each other all day, they both said they were gonna be MLB superstars someday."
She chuckled. "I still have pictures of them as toddlers in cute little uniforms."
She looked again, Maylu still wasn't responding at all. Hopefully, she was just trying to fend off the Sandman too.
"Don't worry about getting in trouble. I'll call your parents and tell them something."
"Thank you Mrs. Stelar."
Hope raised here eyebrows. So she was still awake, and just in a melancholy about the whole damn thing.
I wish I could say it gets any easier,
but I guess time doesn't heal all wounds.
She sat back on the couch, looking for something good on late night TV. There were a few things on, like Z-Nation,but nothing she really wanted to watch.
Maylu was just about ready for bed. After calling their parents and telling them that they were going to spend the night at her place, Mrs. Stelar had dropped off Lan in the family guest room. Maylu had check on Lan, he looked a little sick...
He'll be fine Maylu, better go text Rock.
After sending him a quick message, she found herself yawning.
Lan'll be fine in a few days, especially when Rock gets back. He had a little psycho moment today, but haven't we all?
I don't mind picking up the slack, and tomorrow, I'll find out just what was wrong with Lan as a baby.
I mean, other than him being dropped on his head.
Well, time for some shut-eye girl. You earned it after tonight.
So she laid her head on the pillow, drifting off...
Maylu sat up. "Geo?"
"Maylu, what are you doing here?"
"Well I was out getting Lan because-"
It took Maylu a moment to remember.
But once she did, she could feel herself boiling...
That Lan was out there.
Because of GEO!
Getting up to actually face him, Maylu could actually see that Lan wasn't exaggerating. Geo had a busted lip, a bandage over his eye, and cuts and scratches littered his face. Even though he was wearing full pajamas, Maylu could see a few spots that should NOT have been there...
But Geo brought that on himself. She couldn't care less about him.
All she could think about was Lan.
"Because assclown, Lan was at the baseball field, trying to cool off after looking at you today! And since one of us actually needs to be a good friend to him, I was able to find him and call your mom, who let us stay the night?"
"Wait what? Where's Lan? Is he in the guest room?"
"Dont you go NEAR him!" She practically threw him against the wall and then pinned him.
"ACK! Get, off!" Geo was trying to push her away, but Maylu was furious, and he was in no condition for a fight.
"Do you, even care, an IOTA of amount for Lan that he does for you? He drags your ass out of the house. He rages over you, he cries over you. And all you do is just go around being super emo and make Lan feel so guilty! DO YOU APPRECIATE HIM AT ALL?"
Like lightning, Geo reversed it and slammed her back into the wall.
Turning away from the shocked Maylu, Geo opened the door.
There he was, sleeping away in the bed, resting and recovering.
Geo could hear a slight cough in Lan's breathing. Hearing it made his heart sink.
Sitting at the edge of the bed, Geo just watched him for a few minutes, not saying a word.
I'm taking him down with me...
Maylu slowly walked in, half ready to drag Geo out and beat him to death,
when she noticed that,
Geo was crying. "Lan, I'm sorry..."
H-H-He really does care?"
A rush a guilt went through Maylu. Geo was already going through a lot, but now I make him feel bad?
Oh my gosh...
"Its okay. Sometimes I feel like yelling at myself. Listen, Maylu..."
Geo held up the blanket, revealing Lan's right arm. Pulling back Lan's sleeve, Geo showed Maylu a blue watch that Maylu never saw before.
"Maylu, Lan needs to wear this at all times. Got it?"
"Yeah but-" Maylu was breathless. Was she about the learn the mystery of Lan Hikari? "-why does he wear a watch if he always checks his cell phone for time?"
"Because," Geo paused, looking at Maylu, giving her a look. "If Lan hasn't told you, I don't think I should..."
"Tell me! Please!" Maylu couldn't take it anymore, she just HAD to know!"
Geo look at Lan, then back to Maylu, unsure of what to do.
I'd rather Lan tell you himself. But back to the watch. All you really need to know is that Lan needs to always wear this. So promise me-"
But Maylu was still bummed about not getting the secret. "C'mon Geo, we both care about Lan a lot..."
"Maylu, FOCUS!." Geo grabbed her arm, she snapped back to attention.
"Maylu, PROMISE ME, that you'll always check to make sure Lan has this, okay?"
"What happens if he doesn't-"
"Just promise me!" Hot tears were coming down his face.
Maylu had never seen Geo this, this,
scared wasn't the word.
"I-I-I promise Geo."
Geo gave her a long look. Finally satisfied with her answer, he released his grip on her.
Putting Lan's arm back under the blanket and re-tucking him in, Geo walked out of the room.
"Good night Maylu."
Getting back onto the couch, Malyu's body felt exhausted.
But her mind was on full throttle. Just thinking of all the possibilities of her friend Lan and what that watch is supposed to do for her."
On, and on and on...
But eventually, like all explosions do, her mind fizzed out, into sleep.