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I. Before

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On days like these, Omi remembers the first time they'd come to the temple.

Sort of like memories, because that's what they are - foggy, dreamlike, and sometimes Omi wonders if they'd really happened. If there was a time before when they hadn't been in his life.

He does remember practices alone, in the rain, learning how to balance and climb on walls. To be nimble when situations required it.

Now he learns how to surround himself with others, to - work in together, to see himself as someone more than himself.

On days like these, Omi wishes he'd blow away into the wind.

*

Two weeks. It's been two weeks since time had started at two weeks, and -

There'd been a time when Chase Young had been his friend. Except, it hadn't been a time. It'd been in another place, another universe.

Omi recalls faint memories of him, of Chase teaching him Giant Stepping on Lemur and Dog Chasing Truck. Chase laughing and bending down, patting Omi on the head and saying things like, "You'll get it young monk," and, "You're not there yet," and, "But one day you'll be as good as me. Maybe even better."

Omi wishes to go back -

*

No. No, he doesn't. Because in that other world, Master Fung is trapped in the Ying Yang world and it'd just been him and Kimiko and Clay and Raimundo, him and Raimundo -

There's another memory. Omi can't remember if it'd happened.

He remembers Raimundo crying.

Pinned against a wall. A giant water hand. Omi - Omi not feeling right in the head, looking at Raimundo, Raimundo with his head down, crying - 

- Omi's heart breaking -

No. No, that can't have happened. Raimundo doesn't cry.

*

He asks Raimundo about it on the two weeks and four days.

"Raimundo," he says; Raimundo is meditating in training to be Shoku Warrior. Knowing Raimundo, he's probably trying to focus on meditating but has his mind constantly drift toward more worldly things like the new Goo Zombies game, and the FIFA World Cup that's coming up. Omi doesn't blame him.

Raimundo cracks an eye open and smiles a little when he sees Omi. Maybe he knows it's been two weeks and four days too.

"Hey," he says, uncrossing his legs. "What's up? Something wrong?"

Omi thinks about how Raimundo's grown. He remembers Raimundo's smirk the first day he'd been here - still, like a dream, but not unbelievable. Omi resists the urge to smile like an idiot because Raimundo's smile looks genuine and he can still see the smirk on him.

"No, nothing is wrong," says Omi. "I was just - wondering, if you could tell me something."

"Yeah?" says Raimundo. "Like how to get a girl? I knew you'd go through puberty some day."

"What's - no, not that," says Omi shaking his head. "I was - Did I turn to the dark side? Before?"

"Yeah, Omi, don't you remember?" says Raimundo. "And then we turned you back and Chase turned you into a cat. It was pretty messed up."

"Oh," says Omi, and something inside him turns and twists. Raimundo looks too calm to be answering something like this. Omi turns away. "Thank you," he mutters, mostly to his hands.

He feels Raimundo touch his shoulder. "Omi, what's - " Raimundo starts, but Omi leaves his cubicle.

*

He remembers Kimiko, too. Kimiko, with her hugs and - Omi doesn't know why he should think Kimiko is any more different from the rest of them, just because she's a girl. He remembers her and the Tangled Web Comb and fire and wonders if that's happened too.

But of course that's happened, he thinks, because the Tangled Web Comb is currently safe in their Shen Gong Wu vault and if Kimiko hadn't gotten it, how else would it be there? Kimiko is too - Omi doesn't know the right word for it, but something against his stomach burns to see Kimiko do that, do whatevershe wants - Omi hardly sees her as a girl, but just as one of them.

Kimiko is training with her Arrow Sparrows in the courtyard.

"Hey Omi," she says when Omi approaches her. "Not practicing, are you? I don't blame you, it's still weird adjusting to everything all."

"Indeed it is," murmurs Omi, nodding. He watches as she fires the Arrow Sparrows into the targets set up around her. "Sometimes I don't know what's happened and what hasn't."

"Well technically everything's happened, hasn't it?" Kimiko pulls out three more and shoots them off without even needing to say the Shen Gong Wu's name. She's probably the most skilled out of all of them, right now. "We've seen everything, it's all in our memories - just 'cause the world doesn't record it doesn't mean we haven't."

"But," says Omi, and wishes he could be like her. Could take the world like a wildfire and burn everything in its path and still be able to go on. He runs beneath the history of the earth. 

"Don't worry about it," says Kimiko, giving him one of her little smiles. They're like her hugs, and he wants another from her endless supply of brightness. "We're still here now, aren't we? And either way, we're doing what we're supposed to be doing - protecting the world from evil and all that."

She uses her Cat's Eye Draco without saying its name either and Omi watches her, amazed. In the beginning, she'd been nothing but out there, shooting off sparks in billions of directions - now she's a little bit more than they'd hoped for.

*

At least we're still alive.

It's two weeks and six days. Almost three weeks.

Omi doesn't know why he's been counting.

He supposes, in all, he's been a number person. Number of Shen Gong Wu, number of Wu he's mastered, number of years he's been living at the Xiaolin Temple - forever, really. 

At least we're still here.

He remembers, in a dream vaguer than all the others, where he's not here. Not anyone's here. All had been empty and grey and desecrated, and Omi -

- he'd been alone.

When he sees Clay out behind the temple, just resting, Omi sees an image of Clay older - of him fighting over some awful mush with Kimiko, Clay with Kimiko and not - Clay wrinkled, forgotten under layers of dirt. 

Did I ever tell you that I've seen you die?

The words that don't come from his lips, however; instead Omi says, "Clay? Are you awake?" and Clay peeks out at him from under the brim of his hat.

"Oh, hey there little feller. Yeah, I am." He lets Omi sit on the chair with him; Omi wonders if he's disturbing him.

"You were Shoku leader in the other universe, right?" he says to Clay.

"What other uni - oh yeah, right, I was," says Clay. "Nearly forgot. Sorry there," he says, and chuckles.

He sounds like he's chuckling because he doesn't have any other choice. Omi doesn't want him to. "There was a second universe I was in," he tells Clay. "When it was the future. And Kimiko was Shoku leader in that one."

"Really," says Clay. He's tilted his hat back now, looking at Omi curiously.

"Am I just," Omi looks down at his hands. "Am I just not destined to be leader?"

"Oh, Omi," says Clay, putting a hand on his back. Clay hasn't changed, and Omi likes that about him - time weathers the earth, but it's still the same. "You'll be leader in your own way, partner," says Clay. "I'm sure of it."

*

Omi still hasn't returned to training and Master Fung doesn't bother him about it. Evil has retreated into its own corner, and all Good can do is practice.

But Good will win, somehow.

He is alone in his own cubicle. On his head, glowing, and - he doesn't know if he wants to clear his mind, or fill it with all the things that he's seen and not seen and - everything runs like a river rushing past him.

He hears two gentle knocks at the wall of his cubicle.

"Yes?" He opens an eye.

Raimundo is watching him with a faint smile on his face.

"Can I come in?" he says, and Omi rolls onto his side and then sits up.

"Sure."

Raimundo sits across from him. "Do you want to be Shoku Warrior?" he asks quietly, and Omi's eyebrows instantly fly up.

"I..." he says, and then pauses. Shakes his head. "No."

"Because you don't want the responsibility, or because you don't want to take the position away from me?" Raimundo looks like he's begging all of a sudden. 

"What has brought upon this?" says Omi, and Raimundo sighs.

"Nothing," he says. "You just - look like you're not happy with anything that's been happening right now. And I was wondering if it was because Master Fung made me leader, or - something else."

His words hit Omi like a tornado and Omi remembers him, really remembers him. Remembers Raimundo and Wuya and that storm, remembers - jail cells, and more time traveling, and - Raimundo begging, not letting, and Omi being the only one who believed him him -

Omi remembers.

"It is not - I am okay, Raimundo," says Omi, and Raimundo looks doubtful. "Well," Omi continues, "I'm not sure if 'okay' is the correct word for this. I am - Do you remember Chase Young?"

Raimundo nods.

"I mean the old Chase Young. Not the real one," says Omi. "Not the evil, lizard one - the one from the other life, who trained us, who was our guardian - "

"Yeah, and I remember evil Master Monk Guan and that awful Chi Monster taking Master Fung away," says Raimundo. "But none of that really happened, Omi."

"A lot of things did not really happen," Omi mutters.

Raimundo moves himself closer to Omi. Omi thinks that maybe he will hug him. "We're still here, you know," he says. "Now."

And it shouldn't mean anything, but Raimundo's earnest face sends a breeze of hope through his body.

*

On days like these, Omi remembers how they had began. Wonders how they'll end.

But, of course, this is better.