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Praying to the Lonely Star
Of the Fencers of Kemui Koyama

Ethan didn't dream about Umi that night.

For that matter, he didn't dream about any of the three girls he had the night before he met Umi. He didn't even dream about Geo or Zazu or Lantis.

Instead, there was another man. His hair was growing grayish tints, but there were still blonde strands visible. There were only the tiniest wrinkles on his cheeks, but his eyes were calm, serene, and amber. And when he spoke to Ethan--er, Eagle--it was like a rumbling of thunder only just started: strong yet quiet.

People around him called him "sir" or "Mister President".

Eagle had called him "Father".

Ethan only found out tonight that his father--or rather, Eagle's father--had been the president of Autozam.

The president, the ruler of the country, was Eagle's father.

Ethan initially had been amazed, but when he woke up, he remembered the conversation Eagle and his father had had.

Autozam had a pollution problem. Ethan had known this for nearly a year. He berated himself for not thinking about it sooner--Eagle had wanted to invade Cephiro to figure it out to hopefully cure the problems in Autozam's atmosphere.

The president--Eagle's father--had rejected it at first. Everything else had failed thus far; how would this help?

And Eagle explained everything to his father about how the Pillar System worked. Everything except for one "minor" detail: whoever became Pillar could only love Cephiro, nothing else, nobody else.

Finally, the president agreed to the invasion of Cephiro.

Ethan sat up in his bed and held his forehead in the palm of his hand.

"Oh, man," he muttered. "That's why they invaded Cephiro? But what about Lantis? And why couldn't Geo have known it if he had been second in command?"

Things must be more complicated than they really are.

"Ethan! You're up!" called Goro, sticking his head through Ethan's bedroom door. "Great. Do you need help with your uniform again or have you figured it out?"

Ethan grinned. "Maybe you could teach me out to handle the necktie so we don't have to go through this everyday."

"It's only your second day of school," said Goro, "but you're right. We have plenty of time so I can teach you. Why hasn't anybody taught you before?"

"They did," said Ethan, "but since I didn't have to do it every single day, it always slipped my mind."

Goro stared at Ethan for a moment. "I see. Oh, I have to go to fencing practice today since I didn't go yesterday. Takuya will only chew off my head for one day, but he's going to tar and feather me if I skip two days. You should come. You've got nothing better to do. Maybe you could really get acquainted with Takao. She's not on the fencing team."

"Takao is..." Ethan trailed off, looking at Goro helplessly.

"Oh, sheesh, you are forgetful," said Goro as he rolled his eyes. "The black-haired girl? Takuya's sister? Aphrodite?"

"Oh."

"Partially my fault, I admit that," said Goro, waving his hand. "You only really saw her once, and that was in the morning. I wouldn't be surprised if you forgot who Masahiro was, but damn it, you should know who Umi is."

Ethan laughed. "How could I forget her?"

Goro narrowed his eyes. "That had better not be confessing love."

"We only just met," said Ethan. "You know I don't believe in love at first sight."

Goro walked into the room and opened Ethan's closet. "Good. As if she doesn't have enough admirers already. Now come on. I need to teach you this now so that we aren't late today. Maybe Takuya would get off my case if I'm early."

***

Ever since she returned home from school the night before, Umi had been glancing worriedly at the telephone. Her parents thought she was expecting a call from an admirer. It was completely the opposite. Umi kept wondering if she should call Hikaru or Fuu about Ethan. It would be better to talk to them about him rather than Takao or Takuya simply because they knew Eagle. Umi could speak freely about her suspicions and wouldn't have to lie.

Even in the morning, she kept walking by the telephone in the hallway. Should she call Hikaru and tell her that she think she found the reincarnation of Eagle? Should she call Fuu and tell her the same?

But what if Ethan wasn't the reincarnation of Eagle? What would happen then?

She heard Takuya's car horn beeping at her to hurry up. As she grabbed her schoolbag and rushed to the door, she passed the telephone again.

This time she didn't hesitate. She just kept right on walking.

She would find another time to tell them. Right now, she didn't know Ethan well enough to do anything drastic like that. If she got right down to it, she didn't know anything about Ethan, just like she didn't know anything about Eagle.

Sure, they looked and sounded the same. Their personalities were nearly identical.

Umi slowly began to believe that it was a coincidence. She was making a big deal out of nothing.

And either way, who cared if Ethan was the reincarnation of Eagle or not?

***

"One more class period to go, one more class period to go..."

"You seem really anxious today, Takuya."

"One more class period to go... hurry up, you stupid teacher! Let's get this class over with!"

"You only have practice after school today."

"I know."

"So why--"

"Goro is coming today. I'm so going to kill him."

"He apologized over and over again, Takuya. Give it a break."

"You don't know anything, Takao!"

"I was there."

"So?"

"So I do know."

"Know what?"

"That does it. You're not going to get the chance to kill Goro."

"How's that?"

"Because I'm going to kill you now!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Takao! I was just kidding! Put down that thing down! ... What's so funny?"

"You really thought that I'd be able to kill you with a pencil?"

"It's a mechanical pencil."

"So?"

"You can quit laughing now!"

"Why?"

"Because! Oh, I don't know. Did you get anything on Ethan during lunch?"

"I thought you were against all this?"

"I am. But I'm also curious about that aura. It was kind of strong today."

"You're right. But no, I didn't find out too much about him. I think the only clue is that he originally came from, where was it? Someplace in California."

"That's a clue?"

"You never know. We were talking about how things were in his high school compared to Kemui Koyama."

"Ah."

"Did you know he used to be a percussionist in the band there?"

"Oh really? So why isn't he in the band or orchestra here?"

"He told me it was merely a hobby. He has no real interest in it. He was in the pit of the marching band, though."

"The pit?"

"Percussionists who don't march."

"Oh."

"But I don't think that's too important to know."

"So why did you tell me?"

"Felt like it. Hopefully I'll find out more about him during fencing practice. There's no rehearsal today, and Ethan told me that Goro was bringing him to practice."

"Good. Now, if Goro isn't late, maybe I'll spare a little bit of mercy..."

"I see now why you and Masahiro are such good friends."

"How's that?"

"You both hold grudges too easily for too long."

"Have I ever told you I hated you?"

"Yes."

"Damn it."

***

3.1: Revenge (4:10 P.M.)

Umi drew back her sword and threw it at her opponent. He skittered back a few steps to avoid her onslaught before he made his assault. With her rapier, she parried it and pushed him back. While he stumbled to regain his balance, Umi finally plunged his suit with the sword.

Umi, again, defeated Masahiro in a critical spar.

Masahiro threw his helmet off in disgust. "Why can I never beat you nowadays?" he growled. "I'm always giving it my best shot."

"Because you don't treat me like you treat boys," said Umi. She pulled off her helmet and walked away from the center of the gym. She heard Masahiro follow her, grumbling things she didn't care to hear. He always had the same attitude when it came to challenges.

She grabbed a set on the bench as the next pair of teammates took the floor. Fridays were always days for one of two things: games or challenges. The games ranged from trivial things--when Takuya was in a good mood--to mock tournaments, which was normally what happened on Fridays. Every once in a while Takuya would announce a Challenge Day. Team members challenged somebody who had a higher standing than they had, but the captain and second in command--Takuya and Umi--could not challenge.

Masahiro always was the first to challenge; ever since the last term, Umi never had any other opponent during challenges than Masahiro.

He was obsessed to get "his" position of second in command back.

Umi had grown tired of it over the months.

"What do you mean, I don't face you like I fence against boys?" Masahiro growled. He sat down next to her.

"You don't go easy on them," said Umi.

"You think I go easy on you?"

"You drop your guard."

"I do not!"

"Takuya thinks so."

Masahiro fell silent at that. Takuya was an expert for his age at fencing, albeit very competitive. He could easily pick out the weaknesses of each team member. The down side? He used it against everybody during practices. If anybody disagreed, Takuya would make even the tiniest mistakes seem like the apocalypse is drawing nearer by the second.

"You still don't deserve the title," he spat.

Umi shrugged and grabbed a bottle of water that was sitting near the bench.

"Whatever you say, Masahiro," she said with sarcasm. "Whatever you say."

***

"He'll never learn."

Ethan glanced at Takao curiously. "What do you mean?"

Takao waved her hand towards the center of the gym although Umi and Masahiro, who Ethan presumed Takao was talking about, had walked off the floor a few moments ago.

"There's a story behind each of the team members and everybody they're associated with. You ask, I'll tell," said Takao. "Last term, Masahiro was the second in command. Well, he was the second in command last term. Even though he was a junior at the time, there were only two seniors on the team. Takuya and Masahiro were better, much better, than both.

"I've told you about Challenge Days already. Well, Takuya announced that they were going to have one. One of the seniors challenged him. It was futile. Takuya beat him. No surprise to us, really. But nobody honestly expected Umi to rise up and challenge Masahiro. Normally, she was the first person to be challenged. The sophomores then adored her. The juniors were her friends. But she took the initiative and was the first to challenge.

"Masahiro thought it would be best to go easy on her. The match lasted not even three seconds. Masahiro was killed."

"Is that possible?" asked Ethan, bewildered. Was Umi really that good? "For a match to take place in a matter of seconds."

"Watch."

Ethan saw two other fencers march to the middle of the gym. With a shout, the match began, and the fencers dueled. Before Ethan was able to breathe a second breath, one of the fencers had pushed her rapier onto her opponent's chest. The match was over.

"Mitsuko Nakai and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi," said Takao. "Mitsuko is a sophomore, and Tsuyoshi is a junior. You'll meet Mitsuko sometime in the future, I'm sure. She's Masahiro's little sister. Tsuyoshi is probably one of the worst fencers on the team, but he made the cut, according to Takuya. Honestly, I think Takuya felt pity on the guy."

Ethan frowned.

"If Umi was able to defeat Masahiro in a very short amount of time, why didn't she go for captain?" he asked. "Why didn't she challenge Takuya?"

"Takuya deserves his spot as captain, despite his strict nature to get the team in order before a meet," said Takao. "Everybody knows this. He is the best leader in the school.

"Anyway, Masahiro still goes easy on girls. That's why he loses most of the time he duels against them--especially Sakura Kawa. So we're all worried that he'll lose the meet next week. But he fools himself into thinking he's doing his best against Umi. He isn't. There is something holding him back."

"I see."

"Takuya doesn't know what it is, though," Takao continued. "He just sees him leaving wide open spaces for Umi to purge through."

Ethan nodded. A reminder from what Goro had told him yesterday about Takuya and Takao returned to him. He knew that Goro wasn't normally the type to tell even small fibs, but he wasn't asking out of mistrust. He thought it would be best if Takao knew that he knew.

"Is it true, then, that you and Takuya are reincarnations?" he asked, almost surprised at his bluntness.

Takao looked at Ethan, wide-eyed, but smiled before Ethan could read anything.

"Yes. Of Aphrodite and Ares. Did Goro tell you?" Ethan nodded. "I figured he would. And no, we are not incestuous! I'm going out with Masahiro and Takuya is in love with Umi, thank you for your time."

Ethan laughed. "That's not why I asked. From the sounds of it, Takuya seemed to be the kind of person who would be the reincarnation of a god of war."

"Ethan?"

"Yeah?"

He looked at Takao. She was eyeing him curiously but with a solemn shimmer in the center.

"Do you believe in reincarnation?"

***

3.2 A Friendship Gone Rotten (4:25 P.M.)

Goro and Takuya played a little game of thrust-and-pull-back when it came time for them to spar.

"You bastard," hissed Goro through the screen of his helmet. "You planned this all out, didn't you?"

"The only way to get you back for being late to our meeting yesterday, not showing up at lunch, and being absent during practice yesterday."

"Damn you."

"Don't pull a Masahiro on me."

"This is just a game to you, isn't it?"

"A hell of a fun one."

Takuya drove his rapier straight for Goro's gut, but Goro managed to step back and pull his sword to parry it.

"Not bad," said Takuya.

"You could have easily defeated me by now," said Goro.

"Didn't feel like it yet."

"Shouldn't you be doing this to Shingo?"

What Goro thought would be the magic words to get Takuya to end the duel and send everybody home five minutes early ended up having Takuya loosen his grip on his rapier.

"I've got other plans in mind for Shingo."

"You've never told me about Shingo. What did he ever do to you? Who is he? You can leave out that he's a bastard and you hate him."

"Two weeks after you moved to America back in the sixth grade, when seventh grade started, Masahiro and I met Shingo at the Taka Monshou campus--the all boys' school. His father is the Prime Minister."

"I wondered why Katori sounded familiar..."

"Anyway, we were good friends all the way up until ninth grade. Almost three years. We were both on the fencing team, and during ninth grade, we were both trying to get the title of captain. Meanwhile, Kemui Koyama had won the national championships for the tenth year in a row."

"Damn. We used to be good."

"We're better than we were the past two years. Anyway. Kemui Koyama was losing some of the best fencers in their team since nearly half the squad was full of seniors. There weren't many middle school fencers in Kemui Koyama, and they barely were qualified to run for the junior high competitions. They needed willing fencers from Taka Monshou and Sakura Kawa to get in."

"Let me guess," said Goro. "You got the title of captain for the team and into Kemui Koyama?"

"Not quite. See, the coach at Taka Monshou didn't want to give us up," said Takuya. "So he said that the captain and second in command of the team would not be able to try out for Kemui Koyama's team. I basically gave up the title of captain for it. To make a long story short, Shingo thought I betrayed him."

Goro sighed. Now the two were only aiming at each other's swords instead of bodies.

"That's not the end, is it?"

"No," said Takuya. "Shingo began to do the worst kinds of things possible to do to a fifteen year old at the time. Spread nasty rumors. Humiliating me. Shingo was popular at Taka Monshou. He could have this sort of influence."

"You don't want to give me details?"

"Too embarrassing."

"What about Masahiro?"

"Masahiro got in, obviously, but nobody had known this at the time. He stood up for me, actually, even though I didn't need it. He got on Shingo's bad side when he pointed out that we were better than Shingo at fencing. That's why we got into Kemui Koyama. That's why we tried out."

"You guys pulled pranks on each other ever since, haven't you?"

"That's a given."

Takuya had become aggressive once again. The discussion was over.

"There's no chance for forgiveness, is there?" asked Goro.

"None--"

Goro kept stepping backwards, dodging Takuya's attacks. Finally, Takuya slipped the rapier underneath Goro's arm. The ball at the very tip bent at Goro's abdomen.

"--at all," growled Takuya. He straightened himself and pulled off his helmet. Turning to the rest of the team, he called, "Practice is over. Remember, next week is the match against Sakura Kawa. Go home and rest yourselves."

***

3.3 The Love Triangle (4:30 P.M.)

"It's a wonder how well Takuya and Goro get along," said Takao.

"Why's that?"

"Can you keep a secret?"

Ethan nodded.

"Have you ever imagined a couple of senior high school students being in a serious love triangle? I mean, not just crushes or momentary things... or even just having the prettiest girl on the campus. The real thing. Love."

Ethan caught Takao's drift. "Takuya and Goro are both in love with the same girl?"

"They kid each other, you know," said Takao, "about it really being a crush and not love. But it is love. They don't blush frantically when she's around or send her love notes or anything. Last I checked, neither of them daydreamed about her. Only those who crush on somebody else does that. From my experience, a crush is not love. Crushes are, well, lust. It's really hard to explain."

"Love is complicated," agreed Ethan. "So, they do know about each other's--wait. Do you mean to tell me that Goro is in love with Umi?"

Takao laughed. "It's not obvious from first glance. It takes some time. But, yes, Goro does love Umi."

Ethan shook his head. "I guess I should have picked up the hint sometime after I came to Japan..."

"Like I said, it's not obvious until you get to know them better," said Takao. "But Umi has feelings for neither of them. I swear, she had a crush on someone at one point, maybe it was really love since she said that she's been separated from him, but she seemed to gotten over him."

Takao stood up and started walking down the bleachers. Ethan followed.

"She didn't want to talk to me about it, that's for sure," she said a little remorsefully.

Ethan frowned. "Takao? You said you were going out with Masahiro, right?"

"Yeah."

"Would you consider that true love or just... a fling?"

Takao stopped on the gym floor. She did not turn to look at Ethan.

"I don't know what drove Masahiro to ask me out, but he did. I agreed by Takuya's encouraging. Now, I don't know. But... I am afraid that Masahiro will find someone he likes better. I don't know how he feels, though. Maybe I'm in love with him. Maybe it's just a crush. Maybe what we have is something that is truly special or something that won't last. I'm afraid to find out."

Ethan smiled. "That sounds like love to me."

"Have you ever had a girlfriend?"

His grin wavered. "No," he admitted.

"Then you wouldn't know."

***

"Did you find anything on Ethan?"

"He says that he doesn't know whether or not he believes in reincarnation."

"Did he say anything else?"

"Yes. He used to believe in God and Heaven and Hell and that whole bit. The orphanage he lived at until Goro's family adopted him was a Catholic one."

"Then he's not a reincarnation. Problem solved! Let Ethan live his own life!"

"Takuya, that's not the end of the story."

"Look, reincarnates are reborn, normally, into families or with the belief of reincarnation. That's why they are reincarnates. Right?"

"Takuya--"

"Right? I mean otherwise, that defeats the entire purpose of reincarnation."

"Ethan was in a Catholic orphanage. That doesn't mean that before his parents died, he was a Catholic."

"Then what was he doing--"

"I don't know. But he says he has dreams, Takuya. Dreams about a life that is not his own, but he looks and sounds the same as he does in real life. He's called a different name. He doesn't know anything about it, but ever since Goro told him about us--"

"Goro did that? If he breathed a single word about us--"

"He didn't. I'm sure, at least. Ethan made no comment about us being reincarnations of Greek lovers."

"Good. Because if he did, I would have to really pound on him hard at the next practice."

"Takuya, do you want to know about Ethan or not?"

"Not really. But go on."

"You just want me to waste my breath, don't you?"

"Of course I do! Why wouldn't I?"

"Okay, fine. I won't say anything more if you're not interested. Maybe I should go tell Umi instead..."

"Takao, why should we honestly care about Ethan besides that aura thing? I mean, you've got the aura, so what? That doesn't mean the apocalypse is drawing near."

"Well, you might change your mind after you hear this. If Ethan is a reincarnation, and if his dreams are memories of his past life, then that means that he was from another world."

"Another world? You mean he's an alien? A humaniod alien, well, that changes my--"

"Not another planet, you moron, another world! A world with technology higher than Earth's. Autozam."

"Autozam?"

"That was all I managed from Ethan. But he doesn't know whether or not he's a reincarnation. And he hadn't said a thing about Umi..."

"So maybe he's not a reincarnation and just the bringer of the apocalypse."

"Maybe."

"Oh, I am so not liking this!"

"By the way, Ethan now knows about your little love thing with Umi."

"I do not have a crush on Umi! Goro does, but not me."

"Just because Goro does doesn't mean that you don't. You're in love with Umi and admit it!"

"I am not!"

"Are too!"

"Am not!"

"Eh. Doesn't matter. Ethan now knows. Goro knows. I know. Masahiro and Mitsuko knows. Everybody but Umi."

"And if you tell her, I'll kill you."

"Aha! So you admit it! You do love Umi!"

"I do not!"

"Sure, sure, whatever you say..."

***

Chapter Four: Ethan Villa and Autozam
Chapter Listings

Disclaimer: Magic Knight Rayearth and its characters does not belong to me. It is the creation of CLAMP. Not me. Kodansha, Mixx Manga, Media Blasters, etc., hold the rights to the series. Not me. I have no claims at all to Magic Knight Rayearth. None. Also, I did not come up with the names of four of the original characters--the male original characters' names (Takuya Kimura, Masahiro Nakai, Goro Inagaki, and Shingo Katori) are four of the boys from the J-pop group SMAP. I do not own the boys from SMAP. If I did, I'd have a harem, but I don't. They belong to... themselves. ^^;;

Written on December 23, 2001 by Bearit at grinandbearit@iamnotboring.com.