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She remembered the first time she met the first of them; alone, close to death, her blood rushing out of her but still.....
That girl, the one with the piercing eyes and loving smile, had reached out and saved her. No, not a girl, an angel; Alex's guardian angel with the jet black wings that so shone in the flames of hell that had been her home.
She remembered waking up in the silence of the loft, staring up at the ceiling through the bandage over her right eye; she remembered the pain as she'd sat up, her body aching all over, much like she did after she'd been rescued the very last time. She remembered staring blankly ahead as her mind ran to catch up and as she remembered her friends faces, Okami's ever-present ever-goofy grin, Caleb's sad but kind smile, she would always remember the world becoming suddenly blurry, very blurry; so blurry she had to blink and let tears fall from her eyes. But that couldn't be; Alex never cried, she couldn't cry.
And when she found her angel dead, so peaceful, so happy beside the one she loved, she forced herself to keep in her tears.
She also remembered the first time she met the second of them; standing behind her angel, her eyes searching the hotel room around them, her hands playing with the silver cross around her neck, and then......
She looked upon the man. No, not a man; something else, something different. He seemed so strange to her, with his messy hair and sleepless well-like dark eyes; those eyes seemed so deep she could drown in them. She didn't like him at all but he seemed not to care; he never seemed to care. She remembered his voice being a mixture of deep and high that was odd for any human; she remembered he reminded her of a panda and telling him so.
You look like a panda.
Really? How so?
Your eyes. Your sitting stance. The way your hair looks.
Hmmm. That was it; he never seemed annoyed by her comments or anything. Just always questioning then hmm-ing them away. She remembered looking at the angel, saying her name then turning to leave annoyed; she hated where she was and hated he never gave any straight answers.
But he never showed her anything but kindness; when she found the strange panda dead, in the evil ones arms, his deep eyes finally showing her the bottom of its bottomless well, only to close so painfully slowly it had to be a dream, she had to pretend she didn't care and was still angry he never gave straight answers.
She remembered again the first time she met the third of them; a park bench on a cold rainy day, silent, painfully so, and running away from her responsibilities but still......
He'd shown up, the idiot smoker with the goggles he never took off, the one who reminded her so much of her Okami, her lost Okami. No, he wasn't an idiot; he was smart, so smart it made him seem dumb. He held a game in his hands and she'd always remember how he spoke like he didn't understand why she was there. Why else would she sit on a bench if not to escape something? He did; he was always escaping this world for another. She remembered smiling for once, for so many times when she was with him or the other one; she felt at peace, at home, like that was where she most belonged. She remembered a night of star gazing with the smoker, staring at the sky and not thinking of the past or future; his hand felt so warm in hers and made her think of nothing but a present past moment.
And when she found him dead, so many holes in him, his idiot cigarette dropped from his mouth to his reddened striped shirt, she had to force herself not to smile softly and sad.
The last one though, her first memory of him was most precious; alleyways no one knew and a vending machine that ate dollars, her need for chocolate.....
And his too; the boy with the golden hair like hers but eyes of the sea, the boy who resembled a girl but more so like her lost Caleb. No, he wasn't Caleb; he was her beloved and only, the Blondie she taunted, the Count Chocula she revered, the Willy Wonka she annoyed, the boy smarter than any but always behind all.
She remembered laughing at his name, his guts, his gun; she kicked him once, he kicked back. And somehow in that same thought she'd always remember stroking his scarred face, her fingers lightly touching the painful skin, his wince, her kiss, the pain and her ever present need to relieve hers by saving him from his; he was fragile in some way and strong in that same breath. She remembered laughing with him and the smoker over something but never what it was; she remembered crying with him but not the smoker over the loss of the one most dear. She remembered his conversation with someone else and yelling at him for his final choice, and she remembered his leaving and she remembered her hearing of the crash and she remembered wishing harder than anything in all the world that he wasn't gone.
But when she found him, dead, burning, but her picture in his hand, she couldn't hold anything in.
She cried harder than her heart could take and she wished she had gotten to say goodbye and she tried too hard to pretend to forget only to have her memories come rushing in. She cried so hard she fell asleep and in her dreams she swore she felt four hands on her shoulder, saw four faces smile at her reassuringly, heard four voices say goodbye.
She remembered his name, his real name, and whispered it often to herself and the smaller boy who stood beside her now, his hair as golden as the sun but his eyes being the sea. She told the boy her memories and let him remember too; the angel who held her life, the panda who held her mind, the smoker who held her understanding, the boy who held her heart.