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|Lineage Part Two: From The Tree|
Nikki paced back and forth in the waiting room while she waited for the doctors to finish with her mother. Fortunately the doctors here have had plenty of experience treating burns of all sizes.
"The burn is pretty bad, but nothing we haven't seen before from the occasional Agni Kai. Your mother should be fine." The doctor had reassured her. After a few hours she was finally let in to see Miku. When Nikki entered the room Miku was sitting up on the bed seemingly asleep with a large bandage wrapped around her shoulder. She turned to Nikki and flashed her a quick smile.
"Are you alright Mom?" Nikki asked rushing over to Miku's bedside.
"I'm fine honey, just a little sore that's all." Miku said placing a hand on her daughter's face. Then her face got serious. "Nikki, do you remember your father's name?"
Nikki looked at her mother confused before answering, "Yeah wasn't it Suteru."
"Yeah him." Miku said with a subtle hint of anger, "That man wasn't your father."
"What?" Nikki asked as she squeezed her mother's hand.
"Suteru wasn't your father." Miku repeated. Miku then told Nikki about her old boyfriend, a shy young man whom she had started dating when they were thirteen. She told Nikki about the times they went out to harass the local small time gangs. About how one thing led to another and that led to Nikki. Then she told her about how a large gang murdered his family and how he disappeared for five years, until he came to their house and made peace with Miku before disappearing again.
"What was his name?" Nikki asked when she'd finished.
Miku paused before answering. "Nero."
Heart of the Issue
For the next few hours Miku told Nikki all about Nero, she even pulled out a picture of him. When the girl looked at it, suddenly her mind flashed back ten years prior.
She was playing with Suteru when someone knocked on the door. When the two went to answer the door and were met with a young man, the same one in the picture, who asked for her mother. Her mother called to the stranger from the back and called him Nero. Suteru took her in the back to play some more. She took one last lingering glance at the man, burning his image into her mind for some reason.
As she looked at the picture she couldn't help but think, 'Damn, no wonder you went out with him.' The thought also brought a slight blush to her cheeks. It didn't go unnoticed.
"You realize he's a lot older than you and is your biological father right?" Miku joked, causing Nikki to blush more.
"If he didn't come back to get together with you again then why did Suteru leave?" Nikki asked desperate to change the subject.
Miku's face went serious again, "I'm afraid that's actually my fault." She admitted. "Before he left Nero gave a note that said 'My heart will always be yours.' After that two things happened. One I stopped loving Suteru the way I used to. And two, he found the note and thought I was cheating on him. After that one thing led to another and he left."
Nikki thought for a moment before saying, "So it's because of him that our family broke apart?"
"No it was my fault." Miku reaffirmed, "He just came by to say good bye." At that moment the doctor came in and told Nikki that she should go home. "Don't worry I'll be home in a few days." Miku told her as she left.
Nikki walked out of the hospital trying to process everything that her mother told her.
"My real father's name was Nero?' she asked herself. As she walked she failed to notice Lian approach her. "What happened to him?"
"I can answer that." Lian said, causing Nikki to spin around. "I knew your father quite well."
"Who are you? The woman he disappeared for?" Nikki asked slightly hostile.
Lian just chuckled as she answered, "Not exactly. My name's Lian and I worked with father."
"What did he do?" Nikki asked, her curiosity rising.
"Come with me and I'll show you." Lian said before she turned and lead Nikki to a ruined building. The entire place was a wreck, pieces of debris lay all around, the pieces of wall that were still standing were charred black. All in all it looked like a dragon decided to use the place as target practice. "This is where your father lived." Lian explained as she picked through pieces of debris, looking for something.
"My father lived in this dump?" Nikki asked as she tapped her knuckle against a burned wall that crumbled to dust at her touch.
"Looks like that on the surface doesn't it?' Lian agreed as she found what she was looking for. "How would you like to see the "basement"?" she asked as she opened a hatch in the floor. Lian then led Nikki down a large tunnel into a large underground chamber.
"What's going on here?" Nikki asked as several people filed into the room.
"These are all people your father worked with." Lian explained.
"You still haven't told me what he did." Nikki pointed out, "Or where he is for that matter."
"He's dead." One of the men in the room said gruffly.
"Huh?" Nikki grunted unable to believe it. 'I finally learn who my real father is and he's dead? Typical.'
"Your father was one of the greatest assassins in the world." Lian declared, "He was killed by Fire Lord Zuko."
There was a moment of silence before Nikki spoke. "You expect me to believe that my father left my mother to become an assassin?" she almost laughed out, "You're joking right?"
"Believe it or not it's true." Lian said looking around, "He died in this very room actually."
"Prove it." Nikki said, "Prove to me right now that you're telling the truth." Without a word Lian reached into her coat a pulled out a small folded up piece of paper and handed it to Nikki.
Nikki looked up from the picture at Lian who nodded.
"Okay, say I believed you." Nikki said. "What do you want from me?"
"To join us." Lian said with open arms, "And avenge your father."
Suteru is Japanese for abandon, a common theme when it come's to Nero's family.
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