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Love and Sacrifice: When the war is over, where do the soldiers go?

--------------- One month later ---------------

"Maybe you shouldn't come?" Blade said, handing Merideth her missing shoe. "I mean, it's just another one of those awful ceremonies that accomplish nothing and are a waste of money that should be used to re-build towns."

Merideth shook her head, putting on the shoe and standing up from her place in front of the dresser. She checked her hair one last time, then turned to Blade. It hurt to look at her. The pain and loss she felt rolled off her in strong waves that even a non-empath could sense. "I'll be fine," she finally said, ready to go. "Thank you for letting me share your hotel room."

Blade shook his head. "No need to thank me. I'm glad to have you with me." He offered his arm, and she linked hers with him, sticking close at all times. She had no idea how she would ever be able to thank the other hybrids for the support they gave her. Even Shadow and Indenki could be found at her side, helping her out with little things.

They arrived at the mansion only a little late, and slipped in relatively un-noticed. At first, Merideth continued to latch onto Blade, having only been to one of these ceremonies, the one where dead soldiers had been honored, and she had cried herself to sleep that night.

Tevix walked over and she smiled, glad to see another familiar face. Devin and Xeth popped up, never far away from Tevix, and the three of them managed to ferret Merideth away from Blade.

Blade watched them for a little while, and when he was sure that she would be fine in their care, he began to roam around, greeting various important people like Jarith Oak. He wondered how they were going to fix the damage left behind from the war, but that was out of his hands now.

Donari ran up to Blade, somehow managing to move quickly in her high heels. She greeted him with a warm hug, then started to go on about her island become a recognized nation. He tried to keep up with her, but he could not help noticing Indenki keeping his eye on Donari. Well, at least one hybrid might find a job after the war. Guarding Donari would be an important task.

"You have to come visit me someday," Donari was saying as Blade returned to the conversation.

"Of course I will." He smiled, placing a hand on her shoulder but then turning as someone said his name. "Excuse me." He slinked away from Donari and found Shadow sitting at a table, his tail swishing agitatedly. Ever since the war Shadow had tried to be more outwardly emotional, but so far he only let his emotions visible through his movements. "What's wrong?"

Shadow shook his head, then looked around. "Nothing. I just..." He trailed off, and both his ears twitched at the same time. "I don't like people."

Blade nearly laughed, but he bit his lip and settled with just smiling. "They just take getting used to. Haven't you been to a lot of these already?"

Shadow nodded.

"Still not used to them?"

He shook his head.

"Yeah, well... Not everyone can put up with these." Blade sat down next to Shadow. "Xeth has a private party planned for after this. You want to come?"

Shadow thought it over, and his tail stopped swishing. Blade had a calming effect on him, which was why he had called the steel hybrid over. Indenki and Siana knew how to deal with him too, but they were busy. "Hai."

Kenji walked by, in the middle of a heated discussion with Erian. As they passed the two, Erian turned to look at them and wave, but Kenji tapped her shoulder and directed her attention back to what he said. Shadow watched them, wondering if the two of them might ever enter a relationship. He blinked, then looked around, searching past the humans and finding the hybrids. Hali and Jorvis, definitely an item. The human, Elliot, and Corvet, maybe not in a relationship, but definitely close friends. He had taken care of her during the war. Strange that anyone could find love in war.

Blade sat back in his chair, wondering what Shadow was thinking about. A whole month since that eventful battle, and the many little ones as they completely squashed the Y-Faction. That month had been filled with so much traveling, traveling that had now brought all the hybrids to Corse for a few last functions.

Xeth walked over, leaning on the table in-between Blade and Shadow. "So, you two coming along?"

"Yup," Blade said, hoping that they would be leaving soon.

"Alright, well, first we're gonna go with Merideth and set-up, then about... half an hour later, the rest of you guys can come along. Sound like a plan?"

Blade nodded, grinning. "So where are we going?"

"Siana'll show you. She knows the way and she needs a ride."


"See ya there! Oh, and you might want to change." Xeth saluted then left with the rest of his trio and Merideth.

The next half hour passed uneventfully, and the hybrids set about leaving in shifts, organized by Kaor, so as not to raise any suspicion. Not only the hybrids came, but Elliot and Donari, and a few young soldiers that had become friends of some hybrids.

They had all changed into casual clothes, jeans, t-shirts and the like, and by ten at night, a group of nearly thirty young souls, veterans of the war, gathered in Xeth's apartment, ready to party.

Xeth and Devin, currently male, hauled in a cooler, likely full of alcohol. Shadow eyed them warily, and for a moment, debated getting rid of it. But then, why not let them have a little fun? They could suffer the hangovers on their own tomorrow.

A little unsure of what to do, Shadow started to look for someone that he could trust not to push him into doing something crazy. He spied Kenji standing in a corner, keeping an eye out for Erian, and he started to walk over to him when someone touched his arm.

He turned toward the touch and saw Siana, dressed like a 'normal teenager'. He tilted his head to one side, a little surprised to see her smiling happily. She had been more open after the war, but rarely did she smile so completely. "Siana," he said in acknowledgement of her presence.

"Wanna dance?" She asked, now grinning. For a moment Shadow wondered if she had been drinking, but no, alcohol would limit her ability to function as a psychic.

He hesitated, looking around and noticing that some people had started dancing to the music playing on Xeth's stereo. Maybe they should turn it down a little? Shadow frowned slightly, hoping that they would not wake up anyone in the apartment complex.

"Don't worry about it," Siana said, gently taking one of his furry hands. "I know you can dance. You move like a dancer." She placed his hands on her waist, then clasped her hands behind his neck. Just as she had thought, he did know how to dance, and he moved in perfect time to the music with her.

At one point he twirled her around, then caught and dipped her. She found herself giggling, completely surprised not only by what he did, but by the smile on his face. As he stood her upright, he winked, and she realised that she had a lot to learn about the dark hybrid.

"Dear Mew, what are Xeth and Devin doing?" Shadow heard Aita saying, and he searched the room to find the normal and fire hybrids. He raised his eyebrows a little, watching as Xeth and female Devin 'danced', or so some might like to call it. Vair, noticing Aita's disproving look, found Kaor and decided to out-do Xeth and Devin.

After three songs, Donari cut in on Shadow and Siana, wanting to dance with her brother, and the dark hybrid ended up being passed from girl to girl. No one had really expected Shadow to show up, let alone be able to dance.

Blade danced a little, but found himself enjoying the company of a bottle a little more. Scanning the room for someone to talk to, he noticed Merideth sitting on the bed and watching everyone. Sensing her uneasiness, he made his way to her, amazed at how such a small group of people seemed so large in the tight space.

"Hey Blade," she said quietly as he sat down. She turned to look at him, spied the bottle, and relieved him of it. "Thanks," she said with a wry smile.

Blade blinked as she finished it and handed it back to him. "Thirsty?"

She shrugged, leaning back on the bed, propping herself up on her elbows. "Damn that war..." She muttered, looking around the room. "They do a good job of acting, don't they?"

"Heh, yeah," Blade agreed. "Although in a way, they're not really acting. I mean, most of them probably still have nightmares, or flashes of the war, but they're trying."

She smiled bitterly. "Think we're going to make it?"

He shrugged, turning a little to the side so he could look at her. "I think so."

She sat up and looked around. "Want to get something else to drink?"

"Why not?"

Shadow watched out of the corner of his eye as Blade and Merideth sought comfort through alcohol. He would have to have a talk with them about that later on. Not a good habit to start.

The current song ended and Shadow decided to take that opportunity to escape the 'dance floor'. Cutting through the crowd, he found a corner that he could watch everyone from. He had to admit, it was comforting seeing the hybrids adjusting to life out of the battlefield somewhat. He knew that soon, most of them would leave Corse to see what they could do to help their homes and their own lives.

Shadow had not meant to outlive the war. He had meant to die, so he would not have to worry about life after, about whether people would accept him. Right now, they treated the hybrids somewhat as heroes, but more like trophy pokemon to put in a cage and have people come and gawk at... Did they realised that those trophy pokemon are a part of their society now?

He had a feeling that was going to pose a problem... All the trained for war women and men in their teens and early to mid twenties. They were a generation trained to fight; that was all they knew. Many of them had pokemon genes, though some in small, barely traceable doses.

Tevix materialized in front of Shadow, a look of amused concern on his face. "I think you should drive Blade and Merideth back to their hotel room," he said, gesturing with his head over to where they sat together, talking about something with lots of animated gestures.

Shadow shook his head slightly, then walked over to them, tapping Blade on the shoulder. The steel hybrid looked up at Shadow from where he sat on the carpet, blinking glazed over mercury eyes. "Hey Shadow," he slurred, smiling. "We were jusht talkin' abou' th' war."

Merideth nodded vigorously, agreeing with Blade. "Uh-huh, and wha' we'd like t' do to Y'ana if she was alive."

Shadow sighed, wondering how he was going to get them home. "You're drunk."

They both giggled, but then Blade stopped, an expression of surprise on his face, as if something had just pricked him. "I don't feel too good..." He said, leaning against the wall.

Shadow knelt down and gently pried Blade's drink from his hand and set it down. He did the same with Merideth's drink, then took both their hands and started to stand. "Get up."

Reluctantly, they obeyed, both leaning on the dark hybrid as he led them out of the apartment. The party could go on without them.

Shadow found his way to the car, then put them both in the backseat, fastening their seatbelts before going to the driver's seat. At first, they attempted to hold a conversation, but the lack of outside noise other than the hum of the car helped them fall asleep.

"Wake up," Shadow said as he pulled up to the building. They didn't seem to hear him, so he parked the car and then shook them.

"Hm?" Blade opened his eyes, still somewhat glazed over, but a little clearer. "Hey, we're home!" He exclaimed, his words a little slurred. "Though this isn't really home..." He said to Shadow as the dark hybrid opened his door then un-did his seatbelt, lifting him out of the car. "I don' really 'ave a home... I 'ave sis'ers, an' houses, bu' nowhere ta call 'ome."

Shadow did not reply as he propped Blade against the car, then woke up Merideth and helped her out. Somehow he managed to maneuver them into the building, listening to the Blade's drunk chatter, but not really concentrating. Merideth seemed very out of it, and Shadow foresaw no problem in getting her to sleep.

"You're lu'y Shadow, you 'ave a great sis'er," Blade concluded after a long little monologue about his family and not having a home.

Shadow arrived at their door and realised he didn't have the key. He leaned Merideth against the wall, then searched Blades pockets for the key, he found it and opened the door. Then he remembered Merideth, and turned to get her and found that she had slumped to the ground. Sighing, he pushed Blade into the room and picked up Merideth.

Blade had found his way over to his own bed and had sprawled out on it, apparently asleep. Shadow smiled a little, wondering if Blade would remember this night. He walked over to the second bed and placed Merideth on it, carefully tucking her in under the sheets.

It was a little stuffy in the room, so he decided to open a window. On his way out, he realised that Blade was not tucked in, and started to walk over to his bed. Having forgotten to turn off the lights, Shadow tripped over a suitcase that he had not noticed, and narrowly avoiding landing with his full weight on top of Blade.

"Ow..." Blade muttered, his eyes refocusing in the dark as he looked up at Shadow's bright green eyes. If he had been sober, he would have noticed that Shadow's eyes were uncertain, uneasy, but Blade was not sober, so the first thing he said was, "Did you trip?"

Shadow felt extremely relieve immediately climbed off Blade. "Go back to sleep."

"That soundsh like a good idea..." Blade replied, trying to get under his covers, but failing miserably.

That being why he had returned, Shadow helped him, tucking him into his bed.

"Thanks..." Blade mumbled before drifting off into his own world, his mercury eyes shut tight, stray locks of platinum blonde hair fallen over his eyes lids. A few minutes later however, as Shadow stood at his window, looking up at the stars, Blade said one more thing, "Y'know what Shadow?" He asked, eyes still shut, yet his voice was somewhat clear.

"Ne?" Shadow replied, tearing his eyes away from the sky.

"The world'sh a scary place... Is big, and so many people... Battlefield was so different. D'you think we're gonna to survive?" Blade asked.

Shadow paused, starring out the window again, in awe at the stars and the moon, and the sheer enormity of the sky. "Yes, it is a big place... But we will survive."

"Really?" And Blade fell back asleep.

Shadow took one last glance at the sky. He still had not gotten used to it... Checking on the two one last time, hoping that they could manage on their own, he decided to go back to the party and make sure there were enough sober people to drive home.

As he drove, the wind blew in through his open window, scattering his hair and mildly distracting him as he watched the city slowly fade into an empty nothingness. All he could see was the road, the sky, and some un-cultivated land... Blade was right, the world was a scary place, and the lives of those like the hybrids were going to be constant struggles. Most of them had no family, few friends outside their soldier circles.

"But they'll survive," Shadow said quietly to himself, reaching civilization again and nearing Xeth's apartment building. "They'll survive...."

But what about him?