Chapter 2:

Marissa felt herself moving, then being set down on something soft and comfortable.

Something hurts. She tried to move, but nothing would respond to her efforts.

Everything hurts.

Something cold was put on her forehead and she tried desperately to open her eyes. They felt so heavy though and all she could make out was a low light through her closed eyelids. Suddenly the pain was unbearable and she could feel her leg being moved. She moaned loudly and tried to cry out in protest.

However a voice came through to her, deep and comforting. "Shhh no da. Daijobu no da."

No da? were her last thoughts as she drifted off back into unconsciousness.

* * * * * * *

Chichiri opened his eyes and squinted at the early morning sunlight that filtered through the single, small window in the room. Sitting up from the slouched position he had slept he arched his back, stretching his stiff body. He had slept in a chair next to the bed all night, keeping a constant vigil on the young girl that now slept peacefully in his bed. Chichiri slowly got up from the chair and stood next to the sleeping girl, looking down at her face as she slept peacefully.

It had been a rough day yesterday. After he had gotten them both back to the house he had immediately put her in the bed and attempted to tend to the wound on her leg. He'd silently thanked Mitsukake for all the time he had spent with him and for the small amount of medicine he had learned. The wound had been deep, but nothing critical was damaged, and Chichiri had done a decent job of stitching it up and bandaging it. His biggest worry though was that the girl might not be able to walk on that leg. Some of the muscle had been ripped, and he hoped, not beyond repair. But most of all he was grateful that there had been no infection. All that mattered now was keeping the wound clean and bandaged.

Chichiri placed his hand on her forehead and showed the faintest smile when he felt no sign of a fever. He knelt down and picked up a small cloth that had been sitting in a bowl of water at the side of the bed. Dabbing the cloth gently on her face he tried to clean away some of blood that had dried on her cheek. With only a few small scratches still evident, Chichiri sat back and studied her face for the first time. She was actually quite pretty, her reddish purple, shoulder length hair falling around her face in soft curls, and her skin was creamy and smooth. She had full, pink lips, a small, sharp nose, with bangs that fell carelessly over her forehead.

Deciding to finish up what he had started he pulled down the sheet that had been tucked under her chin and carefully set about to cleaning her up as best he could. She was wearing a loose fitting, light colored wool shirt that Chichiri had painstakingly put on her the evening before. Her original shirt had been ripped almost to shreds and he had ended up taking it off of her, all the while remaining as modest as possible.

After he had discarded her clothing and put one of his spare shirts on her he had finally noticed the strange material that her clothes had been made out of. Her shirt was made of a lightweight, tightly woven material that seemed to be made of cotton but in a style he had never seen before. However her pants were the most unusual article of clothing. Where there wasn't blood soaked material Chichiri could see that they were dark blue and made of something totally foreign to him. Later he had even fingered the dark blue piece of material he had taken with them, and he had found that it was a jacket made of a very soft, fuzzy, and light material, which was surprisingly very effective at retaining warmth. All this had confused him greatly, but he was so exhausted that he pushed it to the back of his mind and set about to taking care of this strange girl instead.

She was laying on his bed now, his white shirt fitting loosely around her body, and her leg wrapped tightly with white stripes of bandage, a small dark stain of red apparent beneath the material. He took the arm closest to him in his hand, pulled up the long sleeve, and began to clean the scratches of dried blood that were still there. Discovering that the girl had no broken bones had made him happy. Setting a broken limb wasn't something he had been looking forward to.

Chichiri looked up at her face as he gently set her arm back down on the bed. She winced slightly at the movement, muttering something inaudible in her sleep. Rising silently he went into an adjoining room, then returned with several clean strips of fabric.

Kneeling down at the bedside once more he carefully began to remove the bands around her leg. The girl began to wince and her eyes suddenly fluttered open at the pain. Stopping his work he looked up concerned at her face, but her eyes shut themselves again as she drifted back off to sleep.

Breathing a sigh of relief he finished unwrapping the wound and wiped away some fresh blood, making sure not to disturb the stitches he had put there. He rewrapped the injury with the clean bandages and when he had finished, pulled the sheet back up under the girl's chin. Without a sound he picked up the bowl of water and dirty bandages and walked back into the next room.

* * * * * * *

Marissa slowly opened her eyes, the great effort it took surprising her, and looked around herself.

Where am I?

She tried to sit up, finding with some pain and a slight dizziness in her head that she could. Looking down at herself she curiously fingered the sleeve of the shirt she was wearing. It was a creamy white color and seemed to be made of wool, with the front of the shirt clasping together with two small pins on her right shoulder.

She looked up, noticing for the first time the room she was in. It was fairly small, with one window on the wall opposite the bed and a wooden chair standing next to it. Her eyes spotted a closed door on the wall between the bed and the window, and she could hear low sounds coming from the other side. Trying to turn her body in the bed, she cried out silently in pain when her leg extremely protested against any movement. She pulled the covers down and her eyes opened wide in astonishment at her bandaged leg.

What happened to me? I was in the woods, then I stopped in a clearing... but that was as far as she could remember. It was a little scary that she couldn't recall how she had gotten hurt so badly, but right now all she could think of was getting out of bed.

Pushing her right leg towards the edge of the bed with her left, she eventually managed to get both feet on the ground. Rising up off the bed she stood unsteadily on the floor, the shirt falling to just above her knees. She tried to take a step forward with her right foot, but her leg suddenly collapsed underneath her when she applied pressure to her leg.

Marissa quickly grabbed onto the bed to keep herself from falling down completely and with a deep breath slowly stood up again. This time she kept her right foot off the floor and instead of walking took a small hop towards the closed door.

Stretching her left arm out she took one more hop and her hand made contact with the wall, allowing it to steady herself. The door only stood closed and grabbing it gently, she found that it pulled inward, swinging towards the wall with the window. The door opened noiselessly under her hands and Marissa stood in the doorway, silently staring at what was before here.

The room was still small, but almost twice as big as the one she had just come from. A large wooden door stood on the wall to her right and a rectangular table stood in the middle of the room with two low benches on either side of it. Another chair sat in the opposite left corner, along with a few crates and barrels. At the head of the room, opposite the door, there was a little hearth where a pot sat stewing over a fire, and Marissa realized just how hungry she was when the aroma of soup reached her nose. However she drew in a sharp breath and gripped the doorframe tighter when she saw the last thing in the room.

A young man stood hunched over the stewing pot, his back to her. He wore a light colored shirt similar in size and length to the one she was wearing. A red sash was tied around his waist and he wore forest green pants that ended right below his knees. White leggings with dark laces crisscrossed from his shins down to his ankles and his attire ended in black, flat bottomed shoes. His blue hair was shaved close to his head, save for a long, thin piece of hair tied into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. Marissa could see a green globe resting at the top of each shoulder which were subsequently attached to smaller red beads, and tall blue bangs peeking over the top of his head.

Her attention was suddenly drawn away from his back and she almost fainted on the spot when he turned around and she saw a cheerful, smiling face meet her own. Her mouth had suddenly gone dry and she gripped the doorframe tighter to keep herself from falling over. This...this can't be happening!

"Ohaiyo no da! Omai wa asa gohan ka no da?"

She brought her right hand up to cover her open mouth and swallowed heavily, trying to return some moisture to her throat.

"Chichiri?" Her voice came out barely above a whisper, and without realizing it her left hand slackened slightly, suddenly causing her to lose her grip on the doorframe. Trying to take a step forward to regain her balance her right foot came down by mistake and caused her to collapse all together.

Chichiri ran forward and caught Marissa right before her head hit the floor. How did she know my name?

Marissa was biting her lower lip, turning it blood red as she tried not to cry out, the pain in her leg becoming unbearable. Chichiri looked down at the bandage and saw that it was slowly turning red as fresh blood seeped out of her wound.

"Shimatta no da," he muttered, turning back to look at the girl in his arms. She was staring up at the ceiling, her black pupils wide with the intensity of the pain. Her eyes slowly came down to meet his and he saw surprise and wonder in her deep brown irises. Her mouth moved, muttering whispered words he couldn't understand, then her head fell heavily against his chest, her eyes closing as she lost consciousness.

Chichiri stood up and carried Marissa into the bedroom, setting her gently on the unmade bed. The morning light was thankfully brighter now and offered him better light to see by in the small room. He quickly undid the bandages, applying pressure to the injury with a cloth he had picked up on the way to the room. In about a minute the bleeding had stopped and Chichiri let out a sigh of relief. Yochata, she didn't lose that much blood.

He checked the stitches again to make sure they were still intact, then left the room to get clean bandages. After Marissa's leg had been freshly bandaged a third time Chichiri took his place at the chair next to the bed and waited patiently for her to wake up.

He didn't have wait very long, for in about five minutes Marissa's eyes fluttered open, looking around herself with a dazed and confused appearance to them. She slowly pushed herself up, then let out a small squeak of surprise at the sight of someone sitting next to her. Her eyes grew wide and the look of wonder and astonishment was apparent in them once more.

"Gomen," he said, "I didn't mean to startle you like that earlier. I guess you're going to have to stay off that leg from now on no da." Chichiri was surprised to see puzzlement and incomprehension imprinted across her face. Shifting somewhat in his chair he felt himself growing uncomfortable under the girl's gaze.

"What's you're name no da?" he asked after a minute, attempting to somehow get through to her. She only stared back at him blankly, as though his words were falling on deaf ears.

"Doshitano no da?" He moved closer to her, now very concerned and afraid that something was wrong. She had spoken his name earlier, but now she wasn't saying anything.

Doshitano? I know what that means! she thought excitedly. "Um, daijobu?" she asked quietly, staring hopefully into his face and praying that she had given the correct response. Chichiri sat back a little, relaxing slightly since something he said had gotten through to her.

"Chichiri..." He looked up when he heard his name called again, but her voice trailed off and she looked down at her lap, now at a loss for what else to say to him. Shit, if I only knew more Japanese I could tell him that I don't understand. She looked back up at him, pleading with her eyes and trying to make him see that she didn't speak the same language he did.

"Chichiri, I'm sorry!" She cried out hopelessly and buried her face in her hands, a strangled moan coming out over her frustration with herself.

Chichiri quickly got up and sat next to her on the bed, pulling her close to him as she buried her face in his chest, a few tears soaking the front of his shirt. How does she know my name? I've never seen her before...

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the girl speaking through her sobs, but it was a language he'd never heard before. Pulling the girl away from him he looked into her face, surprised and afraid at hearing such a strange language.

"I'm so sorry, Chichiri. I know I should have studied my Japanese harder. But I never thought that I would actually get pulled into the manga, and now I can't talk to you, and everything is just really bad, and my leg hurts, and you've helped me, and I can't even tell you who I am, and I don't know how to get home, and I'm drawn, and scared, and...and..." Her voice trailed off into more tears and Chichiri pulled her shaking body back to him again.

That must be her language. I've never heard anything like it before. No wonder she couldn't understand me. What am I going to do? He thought desperately, searching his mind for a solution.

Marissa's tears quietly subsided after a minute and the occasional sniff was all that Chichiri could hear coming from her. He pushed her away from him slowly and looked into her eyes, his hands resting on her shoulders.

"Don't worry," he said comfortingly, hoping that she would understand his meaning and trust him. "This might feel a little strange no da."

Chichiri raised his hands to the sides of her head and Marissa only stared back at him puzzled. She shut her eyes suddenly though when she felt a strange sensation happening in her head. It was as though someone was feather brushing her brain, tickling and probing. Then the sensation became concentrated in one area, but subsided as soon as it had begun. She opened her eyes in surprise.

Chichiri's face was only inches from her own, and even though he was wearing his mask Marissa could see that he was concentrating with some difficulty. His brow was knotted and his eyebrows were pushed together, his lips drawn in a tight straight line across his mouth. Then the tension left his face and his hands fell away from the sides of her head.

"That's better. Can you understand me no da?" Marissa gasped in surprise and covered her mouth with both her hands. "Don't tell me it didn't work. After all that it had to work no da."

"No, no, it worked fine..." Marissa said, shocked at hearing her favorite anime character actually speaking to her in English. "How did you do that?"

"Easy no da. I just took copies of your memories of your language and gave them to me no da."

"Oh," Marissa replied, her voice taking on a tone of pure wonder. It seemed a simple enough explanation, almost too easy to be true. "You can do that?"

"Sure no da! Though... I've never really done it before. But it seems to have worked no da. You have a very interesting language, it's actually not that hard no da."

Marissa stifled a giggle and clamped her hands over her mouth again, trying to keep from laughing out loud.

"What is it no da?"

Marissa suddenly burst out laughing, leaving Chichiri with a large sweatdrop on the side of his head.

" kept your no da's!" she said between giggles of laughter. Her laughter calmed after a moment though and she took in a deep breath, her cheeks still red from laughing so hard.

Chichiri looked at her curiously, one eyebrow raised above the other. "Are they that bad... no da?"

"No," Marissa said still smiling. She lowered her voice a little, looking down at her hands. "I've always liked them." Chichiri wasn't sure if he had heard her right, but before he could ask anything she looked back up at him and smiled. "Do you think I can get out of bed now?"

"Nope," Chichiri said, rising from the bed. "You're staying right there. I'll bring you your breakfast in bed no da."

With that Chichiri left the room, returning a minute later with two bowls of steaming liquid. He sat down on the chair next to the bed, handing Marissa one of the bowls. She took the warm bowl in both hands, drawing in a long breath as she smelled the delicious soup.

"Mmmm, smells great!" She was about to put a spoonful into her mouth when the sound of someone clearing their throat diverted her attention. Glancing to her right she saw Chichiri staring at her.

"Ano," he said apologetically, "but what's your name no da?"

"Oh! It's Marissa. But a lot of my friends call me Mari-chan if that easier for you."

"Well, since you seem to already know my name let's eat then, Mari-chan no da!"

With that they both dove into their food, Marissa quickly polishing hers off in a few minutes.

"That was yummy!" she sighed, leaning back against the pillows.

Chichiri took the bowl from her hand, returning both his and her's to the other room. Coming back to the bedside he sat down once more in the chair, crossed his arms and waited patiently.

Marissa looked down at her hands, playing with her fingers on her lap, suddenly realizing how interesting they had become. She was afraid of what was going to happen next.

An uncomfortable silence fell over both of them for several minutes. I have to explain it to him, how I know so much. But how will he take it?

Glancing over at Chichiri, who was gazing off at a corner of the room, Marissa felt a small pang of guilt. His arms were crossed over his chest and an impassive smile was drawn across his face. She knew that underneath that smile he wasn't too happy and was waiting for her to explain herself. She took in a deep breath and prepared to tell him the whole story.


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Chapter 3