Categories > Anime/Manga > Princess Tutu > Princess Tutu and the Secret Six


by paladin313 0 reviews


Category: Princess Tutu - Rating: PG - Genres: Crossover - Published: 2009-05-29 - Updated: 2009-05-30 - 13894 words - Complete


The alarm sounded, and dutifully awoke Ahiru for her tasks that morning. The first one was already manifesting itself outside her window. The birds that she always fed each morning had already gathered either floating outside the window or perched on the ledge. Ahiru wrapped her comforter around her, still trying to get the sleep out of her eyes, and then poured the bowl of seed for her bird friends. As soon as she opened the window, she was mobbed by a ball of wings and twittering. “Okay, okay!” she said, semi-whispering, as not to awaken her roommates, “It’s nice to see you again, too!”
An arm arose out of the feather ball, and set the bowl on the counter that sat before the window. The mass moved from her to the bowl. She sat and contentedly watched her friends eat for about 10 minutes, and then began to prepare herself for her practice, and whatever else it was that Billy wanted to teach her. As she finished putting on her yellow bodysuit and grey leotard, and just as she was braiding her hair, she heard a voice walking below her. It was rich and melodic. She looked out the window as her bird friends were leaving, after having been well foddered, and saw Billy walking along the mall towards the ballet hall. He was wearing a blue tee shirt, black tights, sandals, and something else on his feet that she thought she recognized, but couldn’t tell from her vantage point. She quickly put her sneakers on, grabbed her sack with her slippers and changes of clothes, and went to meet him. She came out the doors just as he was passing by. He stopped singing and said, “Well, good morning, Baby Duck!” Billy said, quite warmly.
“Baby Duck!” she asked.
“Well, considering your name and behavior, it fits you!” he said, smiling. She didn’t know how to take it, because it wasn’t said in a mean way, but it was a bit of a slight. The awkward reputation was something she was trying to fight, but was something with which she was making no headway. Trying to change the subject, she noticed that he was wearing what could best be described as a pair of black, old fashioned, Japanese house shoes. They had a slightly padded bottom, a separate compartment for the big toe, and were actually quite comfortable. She asked, “Where did you get those?”
“Get what?” he asked.
“Where did you get those house shoes?”
“Oh, these? These were a gift from a visiting Japanese reporter to WHIZ. I later found that they make for great ballet slippers. I can do demi-Pointe in these better.”
“Well, whatever works best, I guess.”
“Oh, and, where did you learn how to sing like that. It was so different from what I heard yesterday,” asked Ahiru.
“That was the operatic style,” answered Billy, “If all singers learned that style, or at least the mechanics behind it, it would improve all their styles of singing. It is the ultimate in vocal control and technique. It is what I call ‘vocal ballet.’ You literally dance with your voice. What the ballet is to dance, opera is to voice.”
“What were you singing?”
“Nessun Dorma, from the opera Turnadot.”
“That means ‘no one is sleeping’.”
“No one is sleeping: that’s correct! How did you know that?” answered Billy.
“I’m Italian by heritage. Daddy taught me the language at a young age. What’s the story about?”
Billy then began to tell the story behind the opera. Now she was beginning to gain an appreciation for that art as well as her own. Whether or not she realized it, Billy was trying to expand her knowledge in the arts. He believed that, the more that she knew about the other classic forms, it might end up enhancing her love for her mainstay: ballet.

They arrived at the ballet room, and they both entered, each one going into their exercises. However, Billy, instead of going to the bar, and limbering up, grabbed a chair, pulled a laptop computer from his pack, extended a plug to an outlet, booted it up, went into his music files, and picked a file entitled “warm-ups.” He then went to the middle of the floor to begin. Ahiru stopped what she was doing to see what he was up to, and it looked to her like he was getting ready to dance: something that was not always wise without proper limbering up. He stood with his feet at shoulder width, his two hands lowered together on his belly, middle fingers touching. It looked like a ballet position, as if he were going to dance. However, she wondered what kind of a dance it would be, considering the music was quite slow. Instead, he slowly inhaled as he lifted the two cupped hands straight up his torso to his chest, turned his hands over, and then exhaled as he pushed his hands downward. He repeated this, and then, when his hands were almost to the bottom, he tilted them sideways, thumb to thumb, and began a pushing motion to the right as he bent his knee towards that direction. He then faced his hands, thumb to thumb the opposite way, rocked his upper body the same direction as he straightened his right leg and bent his left leg at the same time. When it was bent, he lifted his right leg, stepped forward as he turned his hands back the way they were before, and pushed again. He then pivoted his feet, flipped his hand again, and did the same thing on the other side. He went into two other similar exercises, keeping the same rhythmic breathing going as he did. By the fourth movement, Ahiru was already standing in front of him, very curious to what she was seeing, and she was somewhat certain as to what he was doing. Billy then noticed her staring, knowing that she would eventually come over and ask what the deal was. “Do you recognize what this is?” Billy asked. “Is it Tai Chi?” she said.
“Yep, that’s right,” he said, “This is how I limber up.”
“Is this what you wanted to show me?”
“Actually, yes it is. An old Chinese fellow spent two years teaching me this when I was homeless. He figured it would help teach me balance—both spiritual and physical—as well as teach me how to fight.”
“You can fight with this?”
“This is a martial art. It is taught at this pace so that the pupil can learn how to be precise with blocks and strikes, and be able to make a quick work of things when brought to full speed.”
“It almost looks like a ballet.”
“Well, it’s sort of a dance. I believe the Japanese would call it a Kata. How would you like to learn?”
“This could be useful if you ever find yourself with some pervert who wants to do something unsavory with you.”
“What do I do?”
“Just stand in front of me, and mirror my moves. If you do this with me every morning before class, I will teach you five sequences, and you will do them so often that they will be instinctive to you. You will memorize them to the point where you can stand beside me instead of in front of me, and we can do it in sync. Plus, if you are ever in that dangerous situation, you will be surprised how quickly and naturally you will go into this to protect yourself.”
With that, Billy went to the laptop, started the music over, and they began. As he went, he told her to make her breathing as rhythmic, and talked her through each move, in a low, steady tone. She wasn’t as smooth, as she was just beginning to learn, but she began to feel a balance in her heart, and it almost felt as if Tutu was right behind her, talking her through the moves, “Slowly, breath deliberately: when you do this, I will help you,” she envisioned Tutu saying. She didn’t feel like she was Ahiru as much anymore as she literally felt like she was Tutu. Considering the night before, this made her feel great.

About ten minutes from the top of the hour, Rue, Mytho, and Fakir came in. That’s when they saw the pair mirroring each other, going through the moves again. There was a good spirit present, and they waited until they were done: they didn’t want to disrupt the magic that they were seeing being cast before them. Rue saw the prima ballerina that Ahiru was destined to be. Fakir saw what it was that had defeated him the night before. He then began to remind himself that underestimating one’s opponents are what lead to defeat. He now knew Billy was a tough customer, and could be handy in a fight. Mytho, in his mind’s eye, and by his gifts, saw three there: Billy, Ahiru, and Tutu. He muttered, “Tutu,” to himself quietly: “You haven’t left us: you are still here!”
As the two finished, a few other ballet students entered the room, and all went to one place or another to limber up, and work on their fundamentals, or whatever else they needed to work on. Billy and Ahiru greeted their friends, and then they began to get to work. They all sat on the floor, discussing the variations. Billy already had the framework for something, and he was discussing it with the other two boys. Rue asked Ahiru if she settled on the music. That caught Billy’s attention, especially when she said she didn’t know a whole lot of music to which she could dance. She had always just danced to whatever was played, and paid no attention to what it was that was played. Billy piped up, and said, “Have you considered taking any basic music appreciation classes? It may help give you an idea of the repertoire out there, and help you with practicing.”
Rue seemed to agree, and said that they would have to look into that at registration that afternoon. In the meantime, Billy offered some suggestions, and Billy played Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, by Bach, and said that may be a good rhythm to which to dance. Rue thought it great, and then pulled her aside to begin working on a routine. Meanwhile, Billy went over his with the boys, everyone hitching some ideas into the routine. They worked for a good two hours, went to breakfast, and then went back to work some more. By this time, they were almost alone, and Billy brought back a music player for his routine, so that Ahiru could use his laptop for her work. They went to opposite sides of the room, and rehearsed. Billy was dancing to Bach’s Little Fugue in G minor. Ahiru began to watch him while she took five minutes to catch her breath. Rue had helped her string a routine together, beginning with basic moves, and then stringing a sensible order of steps, from easy to harder and harder as things progressed. Now she was watching the other three boys working, but she paid special attention to Billy. He seemed to bringing the Tutu side of her out all right, but… There was a warm feeling she began to get whenever he was around. He was open, not judgmental, really wanted to show her the world, and he seemed to have an enjoyment for everything that he did, even in the smallest of things. There was something attractive about him in a way that she had never felt in a boy before. It wasn’t just that he was physically attractive, but it was that he seemed to have a genuine care in his heart for people, was tender, and yet showed strength beyond his years. At first, she just wanted to consider him just a friend. However, he now seemed more than just that. Was she moving too fast? She wanted to get to know him better, and this was something within which he was willing to help. “Ahiru, let’s go over it one more time: you seem to have it, I just…” Rue said, and then stopped herself, noticing the way she was staring. “Ahiru,” Rue said, in a singsong kind of way, and snapped her fingers before her eyes. Ahiru shook, and shook her head in shock. “Welcome back,” said Rue, “You two can flirt at lunch! Meanwhile, let’s get back to it.”
“I’m sorry, Rue-chan,” said Ahiru, now quite red-faced, and she began the routine again. It was about this time that Mr. Katt came in. At that moment, the other four suddenly remembered that they had not warned Billy about Mr. Katt. No one knows quite how or why, but Mr. Katt was Anthropomorphism. He was a cat, but the size of a human, and stood on his hind legs…most of the time. He wore a green shirt, grey tights, and white dance slippers. He had come in to work himself, and did not know that there were still students in the room. However, he was quite pleased to see that it was Ahiru doing most of the dancing. He had hoped that she would advance, and he was very happy to see that she was doing what she could to make it happen. “Ah, very good, Ahiru,” he said, “If you can do that tomorrow before the board, I know you will go the advanced level. If not…YOU WILL HAVE TO MARRY ME!”
Ahiru stood stiff, and then Rue said, “Don’t worry sir: she’ll be ready.”
He quickly composed himself, and then turned his attention to Billy. What surprised the others was that Billy didn’t seemed put off by the appearance of Mr. Katt. That was something they would have to find out later. Billy extended a hand to his paw, and Mr. Katt said, “And you are which student?”
“Billy Batson, sir,” answered Billy.
“I see you are working on a variation as well.”
“Yes, sir: I’m trying for the intermediate level as well.”
“I also hear your choice of music—an excellent choice.”
“I was kind of hoping I could use something contemporary, but I heard that this was frowned upon here.”
“Not necessarily, Mr. Batson,” Mr. Katt corrected, “It’s just that we believe that we have to learn it in the classical sense first, so that our skills will be honed by the time we leave here and learn things like that.”
“So, what you are saying is that the contemporary form is lazy?”
“Well, the music doesn’t lend to…” but Billy interrupted, “I’m going to prove you wrong!”
With that, Billy went over to his laptop, and brought up a different rack of music. Everyone was shocked. No one had ever challenged Mr. Katt like that before. Now, they were all worried that he was about to get himself thrown out of school. The music was by Queen—a song entitled Rock it, (Prime Jive.) Once the music started, he began to go into a variation that almost seemed like a tryout for the intermediate level itself. It was a very lively routine, full of spins and jumps, but not one move was sloppy or loose. It was all tight, as if he were dancing to Mozart. When he had finished, there was silence. No one knew how to react, because Mr. Katt just stood there, watching. However, Ahiru was mesmerized. She didn’t know that that style of music could be danced to like that. She loved it, but wondered if it would seem out of place for Tutu to dance to something like that. She could not help herself, and began to applaud. The others hesitated at first, and then applauded as well. Mr. Katt surprised everyone as well, and began to applaud. “So, you liked it?” asked Billy, “I did this for my dance class before I came here.”
“Billy, I would have to say that you have proven me wrong, however, the general board would take some more convincing,” said Mr. Katt, “However, I would say that, if you dance to the classic style tomorrow just as well, entering the intermediate class would be no problem for you.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, sir,” said Billy. Mr. Katt then said, “Well, it is getting late, and you need to get ready for lunch and registration, so, if you could please take your leave, because now I need to practice. I may be your teacher, but that means I have to do this that much more: I cannot have any of you surpassing me.”
He chuckled, as did the rest, and they went off to their respective locker rooms to shower and change.

After lunch, they registered, and went to the bookstore to pick up their text. At this time, Ahiru had caught up with Billy, and they talked as they sought out their books. “Wow! I never saw dancing like that before,” she said, “How were you able to learn that?”
“My old instructor felt that we needed a variety,” answered Billy, “He felt that, the more we were exposed to, the more interested in the dance we would be.”
“That’s sure not the way they think here,” she sighed.
“I think that this is because I was going to a private dance studio, paying for lessons. I guess they have to keep their students interested, or else they will lose their business. Here, we are kind of a captive audience: we have to be there.”
Ahiru reasoned that this was logical, and then asked, “So, why were you not surprised at the way Mr. Katt looked?”
“I have a friend named Mr. Tawny,” said Billy, “He is a tiger. Whatever it was that caused him to be like Mr. Katt is what caused Mr. Katt to be what he is. Believe me; I have seen enough strange things in my time to the point where not much surprises me.”
At this, Billy went into the clothing section, because the school was a uniformed school. The girls wore short, gray skirts, white blouses with string ties, and a gray women’s topcoat. The boys wore white shoes, trousers, a blue sports jacket with white shirt, and tie. Billy wasn’t too fond of the concept of uniforms, but he took it in stride, figuring that he didn’t want to upset the boat too much. After they left, they chatted about some general things as they passed by a work site. It was a paint crew on some rickety looking scaffolding, working on the fourth story ledges of the main education building. However, one of the support beams gave way, and the four gentlemen on top grabbed onto the falling scaffolding, and they were dangling at the top, with the portion they were holding onto bent a 45-degree angle, and it looked like it was ready to give way. Girls screamed, as people scrambled to get out of the way. Ahiru suddenly wished that she could be Tutu now, but Billy shouted, “I know where there is help!” and he took off. When he was out of sight, he ducked into an alley and shouted, “SHAZAM!”
Lightning came out of nowhere and struck Billy squarely. However, it did not harm him. Instead, and incredible transformation took place. People heard the clap, but did not investigate because of what was in front of them. There was a panic in what to do, because no one dared climb on the scaffolding, lest anyone cause it to crash down. Before anyone could go further, though, a reddish streak flew in out of nowhere, and in a blur, began to pluck the workers off the scaffolding. The stranger asked, “Is everyone okay?” but in that second, the tilted portion of scaffolding broke off, and began to fall. However, the stranger quickly flew up, caught it, and set it down out of harm’s way.”
Everyone was now applauding the stranger, who was now turning his attention back to the workers, seeing if they were all right. He wore a red, side-button shirt, with a golden lightning bolt on the front, red tights, a golden sash around his waist, gold swashbuckler styled boots that folded down to below his mid-calf, golden bracers, and a high collar and waist long white cloak, trimmed in gold, with flower patterns formed by gold string just inside the gold trim. He was about 6’ 2”, looked like he weighed 275 lbs., all pure muscle, with black, wavy hair slicked back, and prominent, though not bushy, thick eyebrows. He looked ruggedly handsome. She approached, and heard some of the conversation, “Thank God you showed up when you did, Captain Marvel,” said one worker.
“Yeah, we would have been sunk for sure if you hadn’t of showed up,” said another.
“Well, I’m just glad I could help, fellas,” said Captain Marvel, in a rich, baritone voice. With that, he shook their hands, and then spied Ahiru watching the whole scene, smiled at her, and winked, as he flew away. Ahiru then started to head back to her dorm shaken by all that had happened. She knew she could have helped, if only Tutu had not been taken from her. If it had not been for this “Captain Marvel,” (whom she had heard stories about, but had never seen,) she would have seen four men become badly hurt, or worse. She never felt so helpless in her life then what she felt at that moment. She was sad at first, but then, became enraged. She wanted to do something, and could not, and then here comes someone who was what she had been—a superhero—and saves the day. What if he had not shown up? It was just too much to take. She heard another thunderclap, and began to wonder if it was now going to rain on her. “Fitting,” she said, enraged, “Wouldn’t it be just fitting to get caught in the rain now?”
She threw everything down on the ground and tore off. Billy was just showing up when he saw this, and said, “Baby duck, wait!”
Something was terribly wrong. He quickly collected all her school supplies, and started to look for the others. They needed to find her before she got hurt.

At that moment, the other three were walking up, and saw Billy picking up some things off the ground. He then turned to look at them, and said, “Thank God you’re here! Its Ahiru: when I was walking up, I saw her scream, throw all her things, and run off!”
“Oh God,” said Rue, “this is not good! There is no telling what is wrong. When did this happen?”
“It was not long after Captain Marvel saved those four men, and took off,” answered Billy. To Rue, that only meant one thing: it had something to do with Tutu, and her inability to be her one-time alter ego once again. Fakir said, “Okay, Mytho and I will start searching the back woods area of the school. Rue, you take her things back to her room and then catch up.”
Billy then said, “I think I can flag Captain Marvel down: he may not have gotten far. If I find him, I will send him to you. Then I will wait for you guys. If she doesn’t show back up after a certain time, I will tell the school officials, so we can form a search party.”
“Sounds like a good idea, Billy,” said Fakir, “Then let’s get to it!”
With that, they all broke up, and went to do their tasks. However, Billy went into a place where he could do his change again, thinking, “Looks like Captain Marvel isn’t done for today.”
He then shouted, “SHAZAM!” and made the change. He was then off like a shot to the woods, to find Ahiru before it got dark, and find out what was wrong with his Baby Duck.

The back woods behind the school were often used by the art students for landscape panting and sketching, so there were several trails through the woods. However, Ahiru was quite enraged, so she was not really paying attention to the trails, or to where she was going. She only really went back there to blow off some steam, but did not realize how lost she was making herself. She was throwing rocks and picking up fallen limbs, smashing them against trees and boulders. The whole time she was screaming at the top of her lungs and crying. “This isn’t fair! I wanted to do something! I wanted to help! I do not want to be Tutu for me; I want to be Tutu for everyone else! Why were you taken from me! Waah!”
She finally collapsed into a fetal position, completely spent, and lay there in a fetal position, weeping and repeating over and over again, “Why? Why? Why did this have to happen? It’s not fair! It’s not fair! Ahhh!”
Captain Marvel was already airborne, soaring over the woods, hoping to catch sight of her. His hearing was not as good as Superman’s was, but it was much better then the average mortal. This is how he noticed the crying that he was hearing. She was quite off the trail, and, if they had not set out to search for her, they may never have found her. In truth, they were not far from school, but they were situated in such a fashion that one could become quickly disoriented, and lost, though help only sat about a mile away. He circled once, and then found the others. He landed in front of them, startling the group. “Oops, sorry kids,” said Captain Marvel in an assuring way, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“So, you’re the famous Captain Marvel,” said Fakir, “I must say that this is a pleasure. I did not know that you would have time for this kind of thing.”
“That’s what I do: if anyone is in trouble, and I know about it, I will bend over backwards to insure a good outcome if I can. As a member of the Justice League, I am obligated to help anyone in need—even if it is a cat caught up a tree!” At this, he flashed his characteristic Pepsident grin, which set everyone at ease. This superhero was quite approachable. “Anyway, I came down to say that I have found her,” he said, getting back to business, “and I would say that she is not exactly in the best state of mind. She’s laying in a fetal position, crying her eyes out.”
Rue closed her eyes, looked down, and shuddered. “She just hasn’t gotten over it,” she thought, “I don’t know if she ever will.”
“Just follow me, kids, and I will fly overhead and guide you,” said Captain Marvel. With that, he took off, and the others followed.

When they arrived, she now laid quiet, softly sobbing, and weeping, now too spent even to cry anymore. Captain Marvel didn’t even know what to say at this sight. Rue softly approached, talking quietly, “Ahiru, it’s us. We’ve come to take you back. You’ll be all right. We are going to stay with you as long as you need. Look, even Captain Marvel was concerned enough to come.”
At this, Ahiru slowly began to rise up, with hair and dirt matted to spots on her face by her tears. She herself was now covered with the debris on the forest floor. She saw her friends, and then turned her head to see Captain Marvel kneeling about five feet away from her, with a gentle grin on his face. Despite her state of mind, it struck her as interesting that the look on his face and in those gentle eyes were quite familiar. “You…you actually came to find me?” Ahiru said, still sobbing a little.
“Your friends were concerned. They really do care about you,” answered Captain Marvel.
“Where’s Billy,” she then asked.
“He’s back at the school, waiting for you to return. He wanted to be there in case you came back,” said Captain Marvel. He then thought, and said, “What’s wrong? Why did you run away?”
She tried to speak, but then, she just started another fit of weeping. Only this time, her friends got her in a group hug, and they all tried to reassure her, trying to show as much love as they could. She kept repeating, “I want her back. I want another chance.”
“Another chance at what?” asked Captain Marvel.
“Billy, this nice boy at school,” she managed to choke out, “he makes me believe in myself, and makes me see something as more than a clumsy girl with few friends.”
“Wow,” thought Captain Marvel, “I didn’t know that she was that taken with me!”
She continued, “But I had something great once, something which I used to help people, and it brought me so much peace and joy. It’s gone, but I want it again…I WANT IT AGAIN.”
At this, she buried her head into the chest of Rue, and started to bawl again. Rue felt she owed the Captain some kind of an explanation, but she was also careful not to reveal more than necessary. Rue said, “You see, there was,” she paused, searching for the right words, “…a situation—I guess you could call it that—where she was granted some…some endowments to where she was able to put herself out on a limb for some people, and rescued a few people from some grave danger. Unfortunately, to do this, she had to sacrifice those endowments. She wants to have them again, and she has been trying to put it behind her, and go on. However…please forgive me if this sounds like I am blaming you for anything, but I know that this was not your fault. When she saw you in action, I think it opened up some pent up frustration.”
Captain Marvel put some thought to it, and said, “You almost make it sound like she was acting as a superhero.”
“Well, in the great lengths that she went for some people and for us three here, she might as well have been,” answered Rue.
“You know, I think I might know how she feels,” responded Captain Marvel.
At that, Ahiru looked up in surprise at that response, and then said, “But how could you know? You’re Captain Marvel.”
“That’s right, but, I am also called the world’s mightiest mortal—emphasis on the “mortal” part. That means that, though I have been blessed with great power, it does not mean that I can help everyone. There have been many times where me, and my colleagues, have had situations where we could do nothing but just stand and watch the situation unfold. The end for some people was not pretty, and there are times a feel a pang in my heart for those I wished I could have helped, and could not.”
“How do you deal with it?” she asked, now genuinely interested.
“You just have to turn it into something else,” he answered, “What I do is make sure that I learn from what happened, and try that much harder the next time, so that it doesn’t happen again. You can’t help them all, but you help who you can.”
This seemed to help calm her. However, she did reason, “Well, okay, but,” she paused, and bit her lip, and then continued, “But at least you stay Captain Marvel. I can’t be who I was anymore, and help again as I did. Oh, I whish I could have it back!”
Her face then dropped, and she looked down on the ground. It was then Captain Marvel heard a familiar voice—one only he could hear. “My son,” it said, “Bring them home, and then come to me. I think I need to make it clear what is going on here, since they are not sure if they can trust you with the whole truth. I will then tell you what I would like to do, not just for the young girl, but for all four of them.”
It was the spirit of the old wizard Shazam. If he wanted to see Captain Marvel, this had to be important. With that, he said, “Say, Ahiru, how would you like me to fly you back! Wouldn’t that be neat?”
She brightened up a bit, “Really?”
“Sure,” he said, “I’d do it for any superhero like you!”
“Superhero?” said Ahiru, “I’m not a superhero.”
“Apparently you were enough to these people that they loved you enough to find you,” assured Captain Marvel, “And if you have made their lives better that much, you’re one in my book! You don’t have to be me, Superman, or a Wonder Woman to be a superhero. Just be enough of one to the people around you, and you can make a difference.”
At that, he extended his hand to her, and she took it. The others told her that they would meet her back at the dorms, and Captain Marvel told her that he would send Billy to her as soon as he could. He then cradled her, and gently took off, flying towards the school.

Once back at the school, he landed directly on the steps so as not to draw too much attention. However, the Resident Director saw her condition, and came out to ask what the problem was. Before she could speak, the captain said, “Its okay, she just went for a walk, got a little lost, panicked a bit, and then fell asleep in the woods. That is why she looks the way she does. She just wants to shower now, and get a rest: you know, get her things ready for class tomorrow.”
At this, the RD sighed a sigh of relief, and then chuckled a bit, and said, “Come on, honey: let’s get you inside and cleaned up! You’ve got to stay on the trail, because you can get so easily disorientated…”
The conversation trailed off as they went inside and the door closed. Then, Captain Marvel remembered what Shazam had told him, and he immediately took off like a bolt of lightning to the Rock of Eternity. It did not matter if any time were taken to get there. Once there, he could return just moments after he left, as if he had never gone. The Rock itself sat beyond our dimension, and could only be reached by an act of Shazam, or physically only by Captain Marvel or Black Adam. When he arrived, Shazam was very pleased to see his protégé, and welcomed him warmly. Once done, Captain Marvel wasted no time in getting down to business. “Well, if you called me here, it must be important,” reasoned Marvel, “Does it involve the new friends that I have made at the school?”
“Very much so,” said Shazam, “I have been watching your interactions since you started going to this school, and it is amazing how fate plays her hand.”
“I don’t think I understand,” said Marvel.
“Well, I must tell you now that your new friends all bear certain secrets that have been affecting them since their adventures only the year before. There is nothing bad, really, but, in truth, what had happened to them truly left its mark upon them.”
“What happened, then?”
Shazam then began to spell out the story to him in every detail. He even provided visuals as the story progressed. Once the wizard was done, Marvel could not believe it. When Ahiru spoke of being a super heroine, she meant it quite literally. Shazam then said, “So, I think you can see what has been tormenting Ahiru, yes?”
Saddened, he said, “I sure can.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think that I might have reacted the same way if I had been allowed to be Captain Marvel for only a few months, and then had it stripped away from me.”
“Now, compound that with Ahiru being a 13-year old girl, just coming of age, and trying to find her place in the world.”
“Ouch!” said Marvel, not knowing what else to say. After thinking for a second, he then asked, “So, why isn’t Rue acting the same way?”
“That,” answered Shazam, “Is due to pure unadulterated fear. She covers it well, but she fears what she once was. Unlike Ahiru, who had to sacrifice her alter ego to save the day, so to speak, she gave things up voluntarily. She felt that her power was evil; however, she did not stay that way. In fact, what Black Adam was to you before he turned, Princess Kraehe was to Princess Tutu. Also similar was her turn to good. However, it is sad that she gave things up, because she could have done the world some good. Furthermore, if Tutu had ever remained, or were ever to return, having an older sister would be beneficial to her. Tutu has enough about her that she could lead, but good sisterly advice is always good to have, kind of, like how Superman is to you. The problem is that she fears that she may become evil again, and she does not want to risk everything she now holds dear on that. With that, let me give you a rundown on all their abilities. Let us start with Tutu.

“Princess Tutu, as you saw, is a magical ballerina princess—a swan princess. All her physical capabilities are enhanced beyond normal. I would say that she has double the strength, agility, and endurance of the average person. By her dance, she can affect plant life, for which she can use to create nets, walls, ropes to climb, thick beds of flowers to cushion falls, and traps. She does not like to fight, and more uses these things as defensive things: for herself, and for others. She also has the ability to tap into people’s hearts. In other words, if she can entice them into dancing with her, she can calm even the most savage of hearts, and find the source of their rage to help them cope with it, and gain a victory over it. This is her most effective weapon, in that; some villains may end up surrendering their lives of evil by this. Princess Kraehe, however, is the same in physical attributes, yet, quite offensive in her skills. She can affect the wind around her to create a whirlwind, create the same things in plant life as Tutu, but often uses them more offensively. She can also conjure up black feathers whenever she needs them, and use them like darts. She does fight, and uses ballet in much the same way that you use Tai Chi. However, because this represented a side of Rue that does not exist any longer, I wish to change that a bit. Instead of a raven princess, I am going to replace that with a swan princess: from Kraehe to Claire, the Black Swan.”
“What do you mean, ‘replace’?” interjected Marvel.
“I shall state that in a moment,” He answered, “However, I wish to deal with the boys as well. Mytho is an empath: he can sense feelings and emotions. He gained this when he had his heart restored, lent some of his healing power to Ahiru long enough to be Princess Tutu once more, and escape the hand of their foe. He can heal as well, although it is limited. He cannot bring someone back to life, although he can do enough to a mortal wound to prevent it from being mortal. That is the limit to his healing ability. In addition, he is an expert swordsman, and he is very good in a fight. His hand-to-hand skills lack a bit, though, and maybe you could do something about it. The same goes for Fakir. He is like a ‘Batman,’ in that, he has no powers, but he is a physical specimen and a great fighter. He also lacks a bit in hand-to hand, yet, he has enough athleticism to make up for any lack. However, I am sure you could help with that as well. He is also quite alert and observant: a great detective.”
“So…now that you have shown me this, what is your intent, if I may ask?” said Marvel. As soon as he said that, a panel opened up in a wall, revealing two mannequins, each one wearing some kind of late medieval\early renaissance outfit, with the addition of a pair of cowls that opened up just above the nose. One had a white cowl, a blue tunic with gold trim, white tights, and blue Robin Hood-style shoes, with a matching waist cloak of blue, with a white underside. The other was a black cowl, with a black tunic with gold trim, gray tights, and black riding boots, with matching black waist cloak, and a gray underside. Shazam then spoke, and said, “My intent is to give all of them the same kind of chance that I presented you. They are in torment about how things could have been, some more than others, and that bothered me, especially Ahiru. If something is not done, she just might go insane! This is something Rue cannot understand, because she acts as if she does not want to be what she was again, yet truly desires it. She tries to stifle the feelings in Ahiru, because she wants to stifle what she feels in herself. There is something else there, but I cannot make it out. I am not a mind reader, you know. Of course, if I offer the girls something, then I want to also have the boys involved, because there is safety in numbers.”
With that, two jewel cases came out of another wall panel—one black and one dark pink. Shazam indicated that he wanted Captain Marvel to open them and take out the pendants. The dark pink case held an oval shaped dark pink jewel, with a gold trim, and two gold swan wings. It looked exactly like the pendant she had before, except that one had white wings, and was carbuncle in color. The other was a black jewel in gold trim. Then Shazam said, “Now, what I would like you to do is hold up the pendants aloft and speak my name. Then, with your super speed, release them and move out of the way of the bolt. Once they have passed, catch them, and put them back in the cases, please.”
Captain Marvel did as he was bidden, and, after he caught them, he noticed something different about both. When they twisted in the light, one could barely detect the glint off a lighting bolt shaped like the one on Marvel’s chest set inside each pendant. Once they were back in the box, Shazam then said, “Take the uniforms and package them up individually, and take the four parchment letters and put them with the items. The black suit is Fakir’s, so that you will know which letter to put with what costume. I want you to arrive about 20 to 25 minutes after you returned, first present Ahiru with her pendant, and then present the others with the other items. Do so as Billy in the name of Captain Marvel, so, hopefully, they will not grow suspicious. They should be returning about the time Ahiru has gone back into her room.”
“Please pardon my asking, but, why the rigmarole?” asked Marvel.
“I want Ahiru to be the first to receive her pendant, because Rue may instantly grow suspicious, and prevent Ahiru from taking the pendant. Ahiru will be the quickest to trust, and put on the pendant. She will be an influence on those that may not be so quick to accept things.”
“Okay, I get how you want to do all this for them, and why. However, what is the ultimate goal?” inquired Marvel.
“To make them a team, of course!” Shazam said, happily.
“Where do I play in all this?”
“Join them!”
“I’m already a member of the Justice League.”
“Yes, that is true. Yet, you are in that school right now, and they already know that your activities with the league are going to be limited. However, that does not mean that you cannot be part of a team where you are. Furthermore, I do not think the league would have a problem with some more allies. Thus, if this team should form, then you need to tell the league as soon as you can. When the first chance comes along, you need to have them meet the league, in order that the senior heroes may be able to impart some assistance in their growths as heroes. There is no end to the possibilities. Finally, if things work as I have been seeing them, there may even be further help coming, that is, if things work out. Remember, my affairs with your world are limited, and I can only act myself in rare cases, and I can act through you. It is only in rare cases that I can act myself. Therefore, I cannot orchestrate events. I would not wish to. Yet, I do like being able to help where I can. Remember: I was like you once! Thus, to be a hero through you to someone else from time to time is quite enjoyable. Now, hurry on: there are great events to come, great dangers to face, and a world to help make a better place to live.”
With that, Captain Marvel took his leave, and returned to the school.

The other three were nearing the front gate of the wall that enclosed the school, and they were discussing what had just happened. “I cannot stop her from wanting to be Tutu,” said Rue, frustrated.
“Why would you want to stop that?” said Mytho, “I sense much conflict in you.”
“Oh, thank you for your insight, O great Jedi master,” mocked Rue.
“Enough, you two,” said Fakir, “I think that there could be some serious problems here. I am wondering just how scarred the poor girl is by the whole affair. All it took was for her to see a situation where she could have helped, but then be able to do nothing, to set her off.”
“That, I think, was compounded by the sight of Captain Marvel,” interjected Mytho.
“Yes, that is a bit of a problem,” added Rue.
“How do we stop that?” queried Fakir, “Consider the fact that Captain Marvel patrols Fawcett City, and that place sits only 20 miles from here. It would not be hard for him to come here from time to time. That will keep happening and happening.”
“Well, short of her becoming Princess Tutu again, there is not much that we can do,” said Mytho, “I fear for her sanity.”
As if an answer to this, this was about the time Captain Marvel returned with the care package, returned to being Billy, and went to the girl’s dorm where Ahiru stayed. He entered the building, and went to the desk where the Resident Director was sitting. “Excuse me,” he said, “I am looking for Ahiru Arima.”
“Why would you like to see her?” she said.
“Tell her that I have a package for her,” he said, raising the jewel case. The RD smiled, and said, “How sweet of you: school has barely begun, and she already has a sweetheart.”
Billy turned red at this, and said, “Well…um…could you please get her?” all embarrassed.
She said, “Well, I don’t think that would be a good thing at this time. She just got back, and she was lost in the woods, and was quite upset.”
“Well, could you at least give her this and this letter?” Billy said, setting the two on the desk. She smiled again, and said, “That, I can do. I will take it up to her right now. Maybe it will bring up her spirits. And from whom should I say that this is from?”
“Billy Batson,” said Billy, “and I do hope it does cheer her up. Have a good day, now!”
With that, he took his leave. The RD then opened up the jewel case, just to be sure that there was nothing in there that should not be, and saw the pendant. “Oh, that is a pretty pendant; I’m sure that this will cheer her up,” she said, and took it, and the letter, up to her room.

Just as Billy exited the building, he encountered the other three, and said, “Great, I found you guys.”
“I assume you went to see Ahiru,” said Mytho, “Is she okay?”
“The RD said that she was a bit shook up,” said Billy, “but she should be okay. Besides that, I have something for all three of you from Captain Marvel.”
All three looked askance at this, and then approached as Billy descended the stoop before the girl’s dorm. He handed a box to each male, and then handed a jewel case with a parchment letter to Rue. “He told me that there were specific things that you need to do,” said Billy, “You were to go back to your rooms, and open the letters privately. The letters for you two, (referring to Mytho and Fakir,) are on the top of the boxes. He said that there were good things coming with this, depending on how you respond to the letters…whatever that means. Anyway, there you go. My job is done here, I must move along: I am only the messenger.”
After they said their good-byes, the three boys went to their dorm, and Rue went up to her room. Rue, Mytho, and Fakir were all not sure where this was going, but Mytho figured that, if it came from Captain Marvel, then it must be something good. Meanwhile, the RD was at Ahiru’s door, just as she had exited the shower. She, in her bathrobe, opened the door, and said, “Hi, ma’am, can I help you?”
“Yes,” she said, “A young man just gave me this letter and jewel case: one Billy Batson, I believe. Do you know him?”
Ahiru’s face brightened a bit, and said, “Yes, he is a friend of mine. What is it?”
“Well, if I told you that, it might ruin the surprise,” said the RD brightly, “Go on in now, and tell me later what happens.”
With that, she took her leave. Of course, her two roommates were on her quickly, begging to know what the whole thing was about. “Oh, let me see,” said Yuma.
“Is it from that boy you talked to?” asked Mai.
“Quit mobbing me!” demanded Ahiru, “I’ll show you here in a second.”
She set down the letter, and opened the case. The other two gushed over the pretty pendant in the case, but Ahiru was a bit shook by what she saw. It looked almost exactly like the pendant Edel had given her, except for the color and trim. She set down the case and went to the letter, upon the envelope of which was written, “To be read in private.”
She then set the letter back down, realizing that the other two were looking over her shoulder, hoping to find out what was in the letter. Ahiru said, “Do you mind?” and then smiled curtly, and said, “It says, ‘To be read in private.’”
“Aw, no fair!” they both said, “Tell us!”
“Look, I’ll tell you later,” said Ahiru, “Can I just get a little privacy?”
“Well, love, you can at least tell us about this Billy,” said Yuma, “What do you know about him? Do you like him?”
Ahiru did not know what to answer. She said, “I just met him. Give me a chance to get to know him better. I’ll tell you when I get more.”
“C’mon, Yuma,” said Mai, “Let’s go to the student union, so old ‘lover girl’ here can have her little fantasy,” in a teasing way. Ahiru then stuck out her tongue, smiled, and said, “You’re just jealous because a boy is already talking to me, and you’re still looking.”
“Not for long, if I have my way, love,” said Yuma coquettishly. They all laughed, as the other two headed out. With that, Ahiru turned to the jewel case, and pulled out the pendant. It was pretty. However, this was the first time she noticed what was inside. Depending on how one turned the jewel in the light, one could notice a barely detectable golden lightning bolt inside the jewel, much like the one Captain Marvel had on his chest. She then nonchalantly put it on, thinking nothing of it, and then proceeded to open the letter. When she did, it was not from Billy, as she expected. It said, “Greetings, Ahiru. This is your great day of fortune.”
“That’s odd,” she thought, “This is definitely not Billy.”
She continued to read, “I am the spirit of the great wizard Shazam. I am the mentor of Captain Marvel, and the one who bestowed upon him his fantastic abilities. Because of your association with him, I have been able to see your plight, and have been able to research your history. I have seen your tears, and I now understand your distress over the matter. You were settled in your mind to go back to what you were when you succeeded in your mission as Princess Tutu…”
She stopped, startled over what she just read. How did he know about Tutu? Well, he had just said that he researched her case. Yet, how was he able to find out that much? She shook her head, and continued to read, “…and did not seek any further. You said, ‘If I could just return his smile to him, (referring to Mytho,) then I would be happy, and not need anything else.’
The problem with that is this: what you became was far more powerful than you realize, and something that affected you beyond your perception. This was something you could not walk away from, because what you became was only yourself quite enhanced. All the previous pendant did was bring out your deepest desires to help people, and be a prima ballerina, and added some gifts with it to aid you in your mission. You are Tutu, and Tutu is you: this has always been. However, now, Tutu has been locked back inside you, and she begs for release. Once one has tasted of such things, it is hard to return to a ‘normal’ life. Besides all this, there is a universal law that applies to all people and all nations: the law of sowing and reaping. Some call it kismet, some call it karma, some say, ‘What goes around comes around,’ but it all means the same thing. Whatever you do comes back to you in spades. If one sows bad things, then worse returns to you. If you sow good things, you reap a great reward. You made quite a noble sacrifice, in that; you were quite willing to cease being Tutu if it meant the safety of others. You did not even see your own life as valuable compared to the safety of your friends. Such a noble heart does not deserve to go back into obscurity. A heart like that is needed in this world sick with evil. Cinderella was content with going back to the way things were after the ball, because she received all that she had asked for, and sought for nothing more. However, by this simple attitude, she showed she was worthy of, and deserved, far greater than that for which she settled. As a result, she became a princess, married her handsome prince, and those that sought to do her evil reaped their rewards by having their eyes poked out by the birds. You have shown that you are worthy, and deserve, more than you got. I wish to rectify this. Billy once spoke to you of having that one chance, and I shall provide it here. The pendant has the ability for you to become your alter ego once again…”
Her hands began to tremble, and she found it hard to read further. Was it true? Was this some cruel joke? It could not be, because Billy has no clue about any of this. She took a couple of deep breaths to calm herself down, and continued to read, “…if you should choose to accept this. It is, of course, all your choice. You do not have to accept this. If you care not to, then just return the case to Billy, and he will know what to do with it. Yet, I would ponder long and hard before refusing this chance. Remember, (as I do believe the saying goes,) when opportunity knocks, you had better be at home. To activate, all you have to do is hold the pendant to your heart with your right hand, and imagine yourself as Princess Tutu. The rest will take care of itself. To go back, just do the same, except see you as Ahiru. I hope that you do accept this, for I know that you can do this world some good. Yours in the service of justice, Shazam.”
She folded the letter, not sure what to do next. Was this a dream? She pinched herself, and she indeed was not dreaming. She then walked over to the full-length mirror that was in all the rooms, and looked at her self. Her hand went slowly, and trembling, to the pendant. Her hand hovered over it for a brief moment, as she swallowed hard, not sure if she should even try this. Then, with the attitude of, “What do I have to lose,” she snatched it quickly, and thumped her fist to her heart as she concentrated hard on Tutu. With that, her body began to glow with a golden color as she lifted off the floor. Yellow feathers surrounded her, forming a golden egg, which was not so much an egg as it was a chrysalis: for it turned clear revealing Tutu in a fetal position. It dissolved from top to bottom, much like a soap bubble. When it did, Princess Tutu emerged, fully erect, feet in the first position, arms straight above her head, one hand over another. She then settled on the floor, and brought her arms down to her side. No longer was the awkward 13-year old girl standing there, but a beautiful 19-year old woman: more than likely what she would look like at that age. Everything had been the same as before, except for a couple of changes. She now wore a drop-shoulder tutu, with the same puffy sleeves. In addition to this, there was a dark pink half-face mask, reminiscent of something out of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, complete with three white feathers that fanned out of the top. She wondered over the changes, and then remembered that she had toyed with the idea of altering the outfit a bit, but then balked at it, not knowing how to make the changes, and then have them stick later when she changed again. However, this was just right for her, and she loved it. Remembering what Shazam had said about Ahiru envisioning herself as a prima one day, she then realized that this was indeed what she may look like later on in life, and thus, the mask made sense. Along with the change, she also felt in her mind the maturity that would accompany that age, just as she had before. She did a couple of pirouettes and grand fouettes with ease, and knew that this was for real. She did a quick cabriolet with glee, and went to find Rue. She opened the door, looked around to ensure no one was looking, and went to find Rue.

Meanwhile, in the boy’s dorm, Mytho, Billy, and Fakir entered their rooms, and Billy went over to the organ, and put on his headphones. However, Mytho said, “No, Billy, it is okay; I would like to hear some music.”
“Okay,” Billy said, and proceeded to play something relaxing. The other two were curious about the whole thing, and did not hesitate to open the letters. Mytho’s went like this, “Greetings Mytho, the great knight prince.”
He immediately started to look for Charon’s name or signature, considering that it had been written in German. Only he knew about such a name. When he could not find it, he pondered how this was possible that whoever wrote the letter knew. He then continued, “I am the spirit of the great wizard Shazam, mentor to Captain Marvel, and the one who bestowed upon him his great powers. If you have not already looked in the box, I would ask you to do so now.”
With that, he opened the box, and saw the outfit inside. He pulled out the tunic, examined it briefly, and put it back. He then continued, “Because of the association you have had with Captain Marvel, and because of the situation that cause this, I have researched your past, and the past of your three friends, and I see that there is great potential for all of you to do some great good to the evil sick world. I am making similar offers to your friends, in hopes that, what they were, or are, would be brought to the fore, and you would be able to find it in yourselves to aid this world against evil and injustice. You are a healer, and empath, as well as an excellent fighter and swordsman. Your skills could come in handy, especially if your friends accept the offers that I have made, and you all work together. You, and your brother, are to me like two chess knights: one white and one black. You are the white knight. However, you are not obligated to accept this offer. If you do not, then merely return the package to Billy, and he will know what to do with it. However, please consider this: if your friends do take their respective offers, they would be greatly aided by your gifts and expertise. Please ponder this long and hard, and know that you can do the world some good. Yours in the service of justice, Shazam”
At the same time, Fakir was examining the contents of his package, and read, “I am the spirit of the great wizard Shazam, mentor to Captain Marvel, and the one who bestowed upon him his great powers. If you have not already looked in the box, I would ask you to do so now.”
At this, he looked in to see the riding boots, tunic, and other items pertaining to what the wizard had given Marvel. The letter read the same as Mytho’s, up to the point where Shazam dealt directly with Mytho. Here is where the message for Fakir begins, “You are a brave fighter, clever, and you never back down, no matter what dangers may face you. Such courage under fire would make you a great asset to your friends endeavors to fight evil and injustice wherever they may find it. You and your brother are like to chess knights to me. For me, you represent the black knight, and the two of you together would be a formidable pair for most villainy that walks the face of the earth. However, with you teamed up with your friends, and possibly Captain Marvel, you could this world a great amount of good. The uniforms that I have given you and your brother shall aid in this, as concealing your identities would be beneficial to you, (in that your private lives may be assaulted,) and those you love who would be attacked by vanquished foes who sought revenge. There is a grave danger that you have to face yet, that would fall under these lines. I have not yet told the others, as I feel it best to tell you, because you have the best ability to handle such news, and break it to the others without causing panic and irrational action. I think you know of what I speak. Therefore, there is safety in numbers, and your banding together at this time, with the right tools made available to you, may be able to vanquish this foe once and for all. However, you are under no obligation to accept this, and if you choose not this path, merely return this package to Billy. He will know what to do with it. Yet, know this: if your friends take the offer, they would be greatly aided by you. If they do not, know grave danger lies ahead, and Captain Marvel may not be able to do anything for you, for he is only one person, and he cannot be everywhere at once. Please think on this matter with the gravity it deserves, for your friends need you, and you can do this world some good. Yours in the service of justice, Shazam.”
Both of them seemed to finish reading at the same time, and looked at each other, not knowing what to say. They then both looked a Billy. Even though his back was to them, and he was engrossed in his playing, Billy still felt the sensation like unto four eyes boring a hole through his back. He stopped playing, slowly came about, and saw the two of them staring at him. “Er…what’s up, guys?” he asked.
“What do you know about this?” asked Fakir.
“I am not at liberty to say,” answered Billy. Fakir narrowed his eyes, and asked, “Just what do you mean by that?”
“What I mean is, even if I wanted to say, I am not permitted,” said Billy, “The old wizard that sent these has told me not to reveal anything that I may know until the right time. There are consequences to this for me.”
“What consequences,” asked Fakir, now sounding frustrated.
“Consequences.” said Billy firmly.
“Fakir,” Mytho interjected, “He is not being defiant. Billy, why are you feeling so much fear right now?”
“Let’s just say that something of value may be taken away from me if I disobey,” he answered.
“Well, then,” said Mytho, “You are going to tell us eventually, yes?”
“Eventually,” answered Billy.
“Well, if he is going to tell us,” Reasoned Mytho, “Then we must be patient, and await the right time. Right now, we must ponder if we would take this route. Tell us, Billy: how do we play into this?”
“I can say,” answered Billy, “that Ahiru and Rue are being given a chance to be something they were, and could be aided by you.”
“Tutu,” Fakir said quietly, and under his breath, so as not to let Billy hear. However, Mytho was taking the outfit out of the package, and putting it on, saying, “Well, at least we can try them on. There is no harm in that is there?”
“I’m not sure about that, Mytho,” said Fakir, “We don’t know what could happen.”
“Stop being so stoic,” said Mytho, putting on the final touches, “Let me get the final piece.”
Mytho took down the swan sword, and strapped it on. He then began to figure out what the slit on the cowl was for, and pulled his hair though it. It made his hair look like the shaggy mane of a horse. He then wheeled around, and looked at Fakir. “What do you think?” asked Mytho. Fakir answered, “You actually look a bit intimidating, for the first time in your life.”
“Then, put yours on.”
Seeing that nothing happened to Mytho, he put on his, and they looked at each other in the mirror. Fakir looked even more intimidating. The two of them together, however, looked like they could walk down any city street, and not worry about anyone saying anything about them, no matter how out of place they looked. Even if one tried, a good scowl from Fakir would have backed that one off. Billy added, “And, if you two did want to do this, me teaching you some Tai Chi wouldn’t hurt.”
“What do you think?” asked Mytho.
“Well,” said Fakir, pulling off the cowl, “Let us wait and see what the girls have to say. I would say that, if they accepted, then, for their sakes, we should join them.”
With that, they removed the costumes, and put them back into the box. They would wait until the next day to find out what happened with the girls.

At this point, Rue was picking up the jewel case and the letter to examine what she had been given. She set down the letter, and opened the case. She took one look at the contents, and then thrust the box down as if she were holding something quite hot. It looked exactly like the pendant Edel had given her. When she had originally lost it, she actually threw it away. This was during a time when she was making a play for Mytho’s heart, when Tutu’s feelings for Mytho were not quite settled. She loved him, but later realized that she did not love him in quite that way. Yet, at that moment, she was acting out of a strong love for Mytho. However, Rue also loved him, and in that way, and did not want to see him hurt. As Kraehe, she tried to prevent the heart shards from being returned, because she figured that, if they were not, then there would be no way that Edel, or the Raven would want to sacrifice him. Indeed, Rue had, at this point figured out what Edel’s intentions were, and did what she could to resist. In the process, she had bewitched Mytho into saying that he hated Tutu, because she had convinced him that, to gain back his heart was not such a good thing, though he had said so to Tutu earlier. In this way, Rue could keep him to herself. At first, Tutu thought that she had done wrong. However, Fakir made it clear that she had been doing the right thing, and that, though he had not trusted her intentions at first, he now wanted her to succeed. She could not fail. When Tutu figured out what was happening, she knew the only way to break the spell was to show Mytho in a way greater than words that she needed him, and he needed his heart fully restored. She did this by performing a pas de deux—by herself! It was her increased strength as Tutu, (twice that of normal people,) that permitted her the ability to do such a task. Despite the strength, it was still quite difficult to do. Yet, she did it, in order to demonstrate that she needed him to support her, to strengthen her, and to guide her. Only someone with a heart like Mytho’s could do her any justice. Seeing this display brought him around, and he went to her, apologizing for his harsh words. This was quickly forgiven, considering that he had said these things under duress. Rue now realized that, if she were going to win the heart of Mytho, there were better ways than hurting those that only had her best interest at heart: those who wanted to be her friends and love her. She had hurt them, and wished not to anymore. If she was to win the heart of Mytho, it was going to be because she had earned it, and shown love by her actions. It was then that she cast aside the pendant. Her demonstration started when she feigned a sprained ankle, and gave Ahiru the lead in Swan Lake for the fall festival. In time, the two were rivals for the heart of Mytho. However, Ahiru realized that she really did not love him in that way. The first thing was the age difference. At that time, she had just turned 13, and he was now 17: quite a difference in all actuality. There was not much that they had in common in that way, though they were both teenagers of the same generation. For certain, they were solid friends because of what they, and the others, had been through together. Yet, yet, the chemistry was not there for more, and she was then content with that. She even confided in Rue about the situation, telling her that she would be happier if the two of them were together: they made a great couple. Rue, for one instant, felt the feeling of conquest, but then stopped herself, in that, Ahiru had done so because she loved Rue and Mytho, and wanted to see them happy. Tutu may have been gone, but her spirit lingered. She had tried to put Kraehe behind her, because she had no real motivation to be her again. Why be someone that hurts people. On the other hand, she had only done so thinking she was helping, and not hurting. She and Tutu had both wanted the same things, but they had just gone about it in their own ways. The difficulty in putting away Kraehe was compounded by Ahiru constantly making comment about Tutu, saying, “If I were Tutu, I would…” in many of her decisions. There was still something within her that desired to be Tutu again; because she knew that she could do people good better as Tutu. She was trying to be Tutu, but it was not quite working out. Because she was behaving like this, (throughout the school year, and later on during summer break in dance classes,) Rue found herself slipping, and making the occasional decision in the same manner as Ahiru. She could not understand why this was happening: she was not Kraehe, that is, this was not who she truly was. She had almost had the thing licked, and then this. This was not right. Maybe the letter could tell her something.

She opened the letter, and found it interesting that it was in her native Japanese. It read, “Greetings dearest Rue: I am the spirit of the great wizard Shazam, mentor to Captain Marvel, and he who provided him with his great powers. I am going to try to approach you in a different manner, because I have seen your skepticism towards your former alter ego. Because of your recent involvements with Captain Marvel, and over what they were about, I decided to look into the past to see what the source of the matter was. When it all became clear to me, I saw what kind of pain and distractions, to say the least, which this was causing. Knowing my love for justice, and the want to do good things that exists within your heart, and the hearts of your friends, I felt that there was a chance that the lot of you could work together towards that cause. Yet, I also know of the mistrust that you have towards yourself if you ever became Kraehe again. This is why what I offer you is a bit different from what I have offered the others. There is a good doing princess still within you that is begging for release. However, the evil streak that existed in you, and formed Kraehe, is no longer there. This brings up an important point. All the pendants did for you and Ahiru was to bring out of you two, in quite an enhanced way, what you truly were deep down in your hearts. Kraehe may have come from obsession and jealousy within you, yet, there was still something there that protruded love and care. It is this side of you that I wish to see come out of you. The pendant in the case you have before you now will transform you into something a bit different. No longer would you be Kraehe, the Raven Princess, you would now be Claire—the Black Swan Princess. You would be a compliment to Tutu, in that the each of you would be able to complete one another: each one could do that which the other is not capable. Of course, you are under no obligation to accept this. I can understand your great reluctance to accept jewels from people you do not know, especially because of the way you had been burned before. This is completely understandable. To activate, hold the pendant to your heart with your right hand, and imagine yourself as the Black Swan Princess. To change back, it is the same process. If you care not for this, please just return the case to Billy, and he will know what to do with it. However, please consider this: Ahiru will be far less reluctant to turn this down, and may have already accepted this gift. If you refuse, she will be without a guiding hand in matters that only you know how to provide. You two would be the Swan Sisters and a formidable foe for any villain. Therefore, please think hard before refusing. Yours in the service of justice, Shazam.”
Now she was thoroughly confused as to what to do. This involved a hero like Captain Marvel, and yet, this Shazam wants to dig up something she was trying so hard to bury. She was just about to decide to give it back when there was a knock at the door.

When Rue opened the door, she turned three shades of white and maybe even minty green. There standing before her, although slightly different in dress, was Princess Tutu. There was no mistaking the red hair, and the amulet that now surrounded the pendant. “Ahiru, you didn’t!” Rue exclaimed.
“What is wrong, Rue?” said Tutu, in Ahiru’s voice, but more mature, and quite gentle, “You look like you have seen a ghost.”
“I might as well have!” she said, quite surprised, “What are you doing? Get in here before someone sees you!”
Rue pulled her in quickly, and slammed the door, “What if someone saw you!”
“I am sorry, Rue,” she said, slightly ashamed, “I just could not wait to tell you.”
“You cannot, you just cannot take that thing!” Rue yelled, “Take that thing off and give it back!”
Tutu was shocked. “I do not understand you, Rue!” she said, “I have become what I truly am, and you are sad for me?”
“That’s not the point!” Rue said, frustrated, “How do you know you’re not getting played again?”
“This is from Captain Marvel’s mentor,” reasoned Tutu, “How can it be such a bad thing?”
Rue was very deliberate in her words at this point. She spoke slowly and clearly, “You…have…no…idea…where…that…really…came…from. How…do…you…know…you…can…trust…this?”
“I cannot believe you are acting like this, Rue,” said Tutu, now very saddened, “How can you not understand how I feel about this?”
“The only reason you tried this is because you want to be Tutu so bad that you are willing to do anything. That is dangerous, young lady!”
“That is where you are wrong,” said Tutu, now quite firmly, “The truth is, I have always been Tutu, and Tutu has always been Ahiru. The only difference is the fact that, by this, (pointing to the amulet,) I can now be myself in a fuller way than ever before. I want to do so much for people.”
Tutu pondered for a minute, and then said, “Is it that you do not like this, or is it that you are letting your own fears spill over to others? What are you afraid of?”
That hit home with Rue. Now she did not know what to think. Then Tutu took the fifth position with her feet, extended her hands over her head, spun her hands—palm over back—over her head, and then lowered her right hand extended, palm up, and said, “I dance to guide your heart. Please, open your heart to me, Rue, and let me help you,” Rue knowing that the gesture she just made meant, “Dance with me.”
At this, Rue recoiled in horror, knowing what Tutu intended. She knew that, once their minds were linked, what was deepest in her heart would come forth, and that was something she was not willing to open up whatsoever. “Oh, no you don’t,” she said. With that, to get her point across, she took the ballet position that meant, “No.”
“Rue, what is wrong with you?” asked Tutu, “You have conflicts, and I want to help you with them.”
“Oh, sure you do,” Rue said sarcastically, “And you want to manipulate my mind into putting that thing on. Oh, no you don’t”
Tutu was now genuinely hurt, and said, “I do not believe that you would think that I would hurt you!”
“With our past, and knowing where all this started, I don’t know what to trust,” said Rue.
“Then,” continued Tutu, “Let me help you,” and she extended her palm again. Rue just stood there and stared. Tutu then took the first position, and said, dejectedly, “I shall not give up the pendant. I am who I am, and I shall not cease being that. You cannot make my choices for me. This is what I choose. You must choose for yourself. Yet, I am disappointed in you, Rue.”
“Then get out! Get out, you fool!” snapped Rue, “Go and wreck your life! See how far this gets you! Do not ever look for advice from me again, because you won’t get it! You think you’re so smart now: go make it happen. Get out!”
From underneath the mask came a strong flow of hot tears. “I cannot believe you are acting like this!” said Tutu weeping, “I thought we were friends. I only wanted to help you as you helped me before. I feel so sorry for you.”
With that, she turned about on her toes, opened the door, grabbed the amulet, and changed back to Ahiru before shutting the door. However, after she left, Rue stood there staring at the door for a good five minutes, and then broke down in tears, falling onto her bed wailing aloud over what just happened. She cried for Ahiru, but more for herself, that she could be so cruel to someone who had meant well, though she was misguided. However, things were about to happen that would change all of this.
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