|So Far, So Good
Author: Heleentje PM
Juudai travels a world that is quickly losing its balance. This time, however, the Herald of Darkness will not be able to restore that balance on his own.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Supernatural - Jaden Y./Jūdai Y. & Johan A./Jesse A. - Chapters: 20 - Words: 136,744 - Reviews: 141 - Favs: 124 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 11-06-10 - Published: 10-24-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5464058
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Look at me starting a new multichaptered fanfic!
For this chapter, I owe many, many thanks to Blueglaceon, who let me bug her with the most stupid questions, shared her experiences with me, and listened to me justifying myself, probably rolling her eyes all the while ;) Thanks!
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh GX.
Disclaimer 2: I will be making use of many religions, mythological pantheons and philosophies in this story. None of the opinions expressed are mine (I'm agnostic), but I promise to treat everything with the utmost respect and to portray it to the best of my abilities.
Part I: America
Chapter 1: USA, New York City
Juudai stumbled as he hit the pavement, then lost his balance and fell down hard on one knee. His bag, with Pharaoh in it, landed a few feet away from him and the cat jumped out and hissed indignantly. Juudai got up carefully, rolled up his right trouser leg to inspect the damage, and winced when he saw the bruised skin.
"Nothing serious," he told Yubel, who was anxiously hovering beside him. "Just a scrape. I really have got to get this under control."
Pharaoh slowly walked back to them, clearly showing his indignation in every step he took. Juudai retrieved his bag and started digging through it to find the cat treats, only to frown when he noticed he was down to his last few.
"We need to get more," he announced as he fed two to Pharaoh, whose mood instantly improved.
"What we need is for you to get this teleporting thing down," Yubel replied.
"I'm getting better!" Juudai protested, though without any heat. This kind of bantering was normal for them.
"At least we didn't end up in the middle of a swamp this time. Or a desert."
"You know the desert wasn't intentional! I didn't even know I could do this, I was just dueling Yugi and we ended up there." He pocketed the cat treats again, let Pharaoh back into the bag and hoisted it over his shoulder. "Anyway, where are we now?"
"A city, by the looks of it. A big one."
Juudai left the alley they'd appeared in and followed Yubel out onto a busy street. Traffic was moving at a snail's pace and there were cars as far as he could see. One or two pedestrians bumped into Juudai as he tried to walk towards a big display in a nearby shop. The shop was littered with postcards, little statues and T-shirts loudly proclaiming that they loved NY.
"NY? Does that mean we're in New York?" Juudai wondered, looking around at the people in the street, the cars driving by and the many, many shops. "Wow, that's so cool! I've always wanted to go to New York!"
He bent down to examine one of the little statues, a five-inch replica of the Statue of Liberty, and the owner of the shop approached him. He was a rather small, heavy-set man, who looked like he'd found a potential goldmine in Juudai. Understandable, Juudai thought. No native New Yorker would be caught examining the souvenirs, let alone buy them.
"Mister, is there anything I can help you with?" the man asked.
Juudai shook his head. "Just looking, thank you."
"Oh, where are you from? Your English is pretty great!"
"Japan," Juudai said, shrugging a little guiltily. In reality, he wasn't speaking English at all. It was one of the first things he'd discovered when he'd arrived in America; his Darkness powers enabled him to speak and understand any language as if it were his own. Yubel and Daitokuji-sensei had theorized that some low-level telepathy and thought-broadcasting were involved. Whatever it was, it was useful, but it made him feel guilty when people complimented him on his grasp of the language.
"Japan? My son's been to Japan! Hey, do you know…" the man continued. Juudai tuned him out and surreptitiously looked around. Why had he ended up in New York? He didn't think it was a coincidence.
"So, what do you think?"
Juudai looked up into the expectant eyes of the shop owner. He was holding a small snow globe. "That's so last December," Yubel whispered in his ear and Juudai stifled his laughter.
"Sorry, just a second," he said instead. Pharaoh was trying to get out of the bag, so Juudai quickly put the bag on the ground and helped the cat out. Pharaoh jumped in his arms, eyeing the shop owner a bit warily, before looking out at the busy street.
"You have a cat with you?" the man asked, surprised.
"He followed me, "Juudai said. He smiled beatifically, hoping it would stop the man from asking further questions. He didn't have any legal documents, and while the police couldn't possibly keep him detained for long, he didn't want to draw too much attention.
He shifted Pharaoh, so the cat's front paws were on his shoulder and Juudai could support him with one arm, then turned to look at the American flag the show owner was showing him now.
Several car horns blared at once, and a car drove onto the pavement with dazzling speed, closely followed by several police cars. Juudai and many of the other pedestrians jumped back in shock and one of them crashed into the souvenir stand Juudai was looking in, sending the various statues, snow globes and flags crashing to the ground.
Pharaoh clawed his way out of Juudai's arms and disappeared between the mass of people trying to get a glimpse of the car chase. Juudai picked up his bag in one fluid movement and tried to run after him.
"Pharaoh, get back here! It's dangerous!" he had to stop abruptly when the people in front of him refused to move, and just managed to see a glimpse of a bushy tail disappearing around a corner.
"Pharaoh!" Juudai tried again. He made his way through the people, but when he rounded the corner, the cat was nowhere to be seen. He bit off a curse.
"We need to get him back," he told Yubel. "It's too dangerous!"
"Daitokuji-sensei is with him," Yubel soothed. "He'll keep him safe until we find him. Calm down, sit down for a few minutes."
She guided him to a nearby bench and forced him to sit down. Juudai tapped one foot anxiously against the other one. How were they going to find one cat in such a huge city?
"Can you track him?" he asked.
"Why don't you try?" Yubel replied. "You have both my powers and your own. Your vision will reach much further."
"Close your eyes, I'll help you." Yubel placed one see-through hand on his forehead, as Juudai closed his eyes and tried to drown out the noise of the nearby traffic.
"Pharaoh's signature will be too weak for you to sense, so try to focus on Daitokuji's. It will feel strange, like it's not entirely there. That's normal. Try not to reach too far, they can't be far from here."
Juudai obeyed and tried to focus. It took him a few minutes, but he slowly began to sense the people around him. Their signatures were powerful, but hurried and anxious. Was this the life of people in this city? Always this busy? He tried to find the signature Yubel had described.
"There!" His eyes snapped open. "Two streets from here. Let's go!" He was up and running before Yubel had the time to react, weaving his way between people and crossing the busy street without looking. The cars on the road had to swerve to avoid him, causing two near-collisions.
"Juudai, have you gone crazy?" Yubel shouted as soon as she'd caught up with him. Behind her, several drivers were swearing at Juudai. "We're trying to find the cat, not to get you killed!"
"Nearly there!" Juudai shouted back at her. He rounded another corner and stopped near the entrance of a small alleyway.
"He's here." Juudai stepped forward, but Yubel stopped him.
"Wait. Do you hear that?"
Juudai listened. Someone was crying.
"That's not Pharaoh, is it?" he whispered dejectedly, but he walked into the alley anyway. If someone was in trouble, it was his duty to help. Even if, judging by their signature, that someone wasn't entirely alive anymore.
"Hello?" he half-shouted. "Is anyone here?"
"Over here," a small voice replied between sobs, and Juudai carefully stepped deeper into the alley, letting his eyes get used to the darkness as he walked. Being the person he was, he only needed a few seconds before he could see as clearly as in broad daylight. He could now see a small figure huddled in a corner. And as he'd suspected, the person wasn't alive anymore. They looked slightly see-through.
"Can I help you?" he asked, kneeling down a few feet away. He didn't think the spirit was hostile, but he didn't want to take any risks. Yubel was a comforting presence near his left shoulder.
The spirit looked up, and Juudai stared into the face of a young girl, no older than ten. She wore a tattered dress in a style that hadn't been worn in several decennia, and her face was wet from tears.
"I'm lost," she said quietly. "I can't find my sister."
Juudai inched closer. "When was the last time you saw her?"
"Three days ago," The girl replied. "Why can you see me? I'm dead, only Sissy can see me."
So she did know she was dead. Juudai was relieved. He'd been afraid he would have to explain to her that she wasn't alive anymore. He didn't think that revelation would've gone over well.
He briefly let his eyes change color. "I have special powers, see? I can see things most people don't." He shifted closer to the girl. "I am Juudai. What's your name?"
"Betty," she sniffled.
"Nice to meet you, Betty. Can you stand up? Maybe we can look for your sister together."
The little girl got up slowly. She was even smaller than Juudai had expected; her head only barely reached his chest.
"Can you really help me, mister Djuudai?"
"Juudai," Juudai corrected, carefully pronouncing the name. "And I will try my very best. I am also looking for someone."
"Juudai," Betty tried, and Juudai nodded approvingly. "Who are you looking for?"
"My cat. And my teacher. They got scared and they wanted to hide."
Unexpectedly, Betty started crying again. "I knew everything! I knew where I lived, and where Sissy lived, and now I don't know anything anymore! I'm lost!"
"Hey, it's okay." Juudai kneeled down again so he could look her in the eye. "How about I help you find your sister, and you help me find my friends. Is that good?"
Betty nodded slowly, and started walking towards the main street. Juudai and Yubel followed her.
"Do you really think you can help her?" Yubel asked.
"I have to try, she deserves help as much as anyone else does. And besides, she might help us find Pharaoh and Daitokuji-sensei." He walked closer to Betty. "Can you remember where your sister lived?"
"She…" Betty hesitated and concentrated deeply. "She lived in this very tall building. The building wasn't there when I was alive."
Juudai looked around. There were skyscrapers everywhere.
"When were you alive, Betty?" he asked. He wasn't prepared to look for the right building yet.
She frowned. "I don't know. Daddy talked about war. And Mommy was always saying that she didn't want it to happen again."
"The World Wars," Yubel whispered, and Juudai nodded in agreement. "She must've lived around 1940."
"Sissy didn't want to tell me," Betty whispered sadly. "She always said I was too young. But she's only two years older than me!"
"What's your sister's name, Betty?" Juudai asked, crossing the street together with the girl. This time, he took care to use the pedestrian crossing and he saw Yubel nodding approvingly. But Betty was frowning deeply, and they had already turned two corners before she finally replied.
"Margaret!" she exclaimed triumphantly, but she immediately saddened again. "I almost didn't remember. Why am I forgetting everything?"
"It doesn't matter," Juudai said soothingly. "We'll find her soon!"
"You said you were looking for your cat," Betty said slowly. "Cats like chasing birds, right?"
Juudai sincerely doubted that Pharaoh was the type to chase birds, but he nodded anyway. "Do you know a place with many birds?"
"Yes!" Betty said, suddenly looking a lot happier. "I can still remember. Sissy always took me to this very big park. There were many birds, and sometimes there were cats chasing them! And Sissy said she liked to go there even when I didn't come. Maybe she's there! And maybe your cat is there too!"
"Sounds like a plan!" Juudai smiled. "Do you know the way to this park?"
Betty nodded resolutely, and turned left at the very next corner. "It's a very big park," she told them. "And it's in the middle of the city, so it's called Central Park! It's really very pretty. Right now, there are so many people and animals, but I like it best when it's winter. All the leaves are gone, and sometimes, when it's snowed, the branches and the grass are all white."
It never snowed at Duel Academia, so Juudai was looking forward to one day seeing real snow. Maybe he should go to Europe. Johan had told him there was lots of snow where he lived and that his town was really pretty during the winter. Of course, now was not the right time. Barely a month had passed since he'd graduated, and they were now experiencing the hottest days of the summer.
He followed Betty as she turned another corner and crossed a busy road. They'd been walking for several minutes now, and Juudai wondered how far Central Park really was.
"Do you know how much further we have to go?" he asked the girl.
"Not far now," Betty said happily. "We're almost there!"
As if on cue, they turned yet another corner, and Juudai saw the Central Park at the end of the street. He and Betty were now walking through a long avenue. Traffic was less busy here, but Juudai still kept a wary eye on the cars. He didn't want a repeat of what happened with Pharaoh.
"Here we are!" Betty announced triumphantly. She crossed the road with Juudai and ran into the park. Juudai followed her a bit more slowly, while tentatively trying to look for Daitokuji-sensei's signature again. He frowned.
"Betty, how big is this park?"
"Oh, it's really really big!"
"Trouble?" Yubel whispered in Juudai's ear.
Juudai nodded. "It's too big. I can't find them," he paused as an idea hit him. "Yubel, can't you look for them? Or Hane Kuriboh?"
Summoned by his name, the tiny monster appeared next to Juudai, flapping his wings enthusiastically. He perched on Juudai's shoulder, letting out a soft Kurii
"No, too dangerous" Yubel said, and Hane Kuriboh disappeared again, looking disappointed. "I'd prefer it if we didn't split up. We've already lost two of our group. I don't want to lose more."
Don't want to lose you, she didn't say, but through their shared soul Juudai could hear it as clearly as his own thoughts. He sent a wave of affection in her direction.
"Mister Juudai, who are you talking to?" Betty asked, appearing at his left. Juudai was surprised at the sudden appearance. Apparently his senses weren't yet developed enough to sense her approach him.
He bent down again, so he could look her in the eye. A few passers-by, who'd been eyeing him strangely for apparently talking to thin air, abruptly turned away, convinced that he wasn't entirely sane.
"She's a very special person," he told her. "And she's always with me."
Juudai shook his head, feeling the love radiate through his bond with Yubel. It made him feel safe. "It's not entirely like that. But I love her very much, like you love your sister very much."
Betty squinted, trying to see Yubel. "Can I say hi to her?"
"Of course you can," Juudai said, reaching out to take her hand. It wasn't quite there, but he could still feel it, much like he could feel Yubel or Hane Kuriboh even when they hadn't materialized. "Close your eyes."
He wasn't sure what he was doing, but he could now feel both Betty's presence and Yubel's (and somewhere, buried a bit deeper, he felt the spirits of his other monsters). He fully opened the link between him and Yubel, then tried to extend it to Betty. Since she was a spirit too, albeit of a slightly different kind, it went easier.
"Can you feel her?" he whispered. Betty had her eyes closed and her eyebrows frowned in concentration. She nodded once.
"She really loves you very much," she said, and Juudai smiled.
"I know," he said. "I love her very much too."
Something that wasn't Yubel's or Betty's signature was pushing against his mind, and when Betty tried to let go of his hand, he held it tighter.
"Just a second," he whispered. "There's something… Right, there!" he got up quickly, letting go of Betty and heading deeper into the park.
"Did you find your cat?" Betty asked, once again appearing next to him. This time he'd felt her coming.
"Maybe, I think so," Juudai said, looking for the cat. "Pharaoh, Daitokuji-sensei, are you over here?"
"There," Yubel nudged him, and Juudai turned around in time to see a familiar brown cat appear. Pharaoh came out of the bushes, walking with the air of a cat who felt perfectly at ease. Juudai sighed in relief.
"Pharaoh! Thank goodness you're safe," he held his arms out and Pharaoh lazily walked over to him. He threw a glance at Betty, then seemed to dismiss her and jumped in Juudai's arms. Juudai scratched him under the chin and he started purring.
"Daitokuji-sensei? Are you there?"
Pharaoh yawned widely and a small ball of light flew out of his mouth. The little ball immediately transformed in the familiar shape of Juudai's former teacher.
"Juudai-kun! How great that you have found us! This city is so big and scary." He shuddered dramatically. "I thought we'd never find you again!"
Juudai grinned. "Sensei, I'd like you to meet someone," he beckoned Betty closer. "This is Betty, she helped us find you."
"Ah, little miss!" he bowed before her and Betty giggled. "I am forever grateful to you!"
"Sir, are you dead too?" she asked, surprisingly straightforward. Daitokuji-sensei didn't seem to have expected the question, because he didn't reply for a few seconds.
"I have been dead for a long time, little miss, " he eventually said. Betty frowned slightly but didn't reply.
"Daitokuji-sensei, "Juudai whispered, "can I ask you a few questions?" he led his teacher away from Betty and Pharaoh, and sat down on the grass. Betty looked at them but didn't follow.
"She's looking for her sister," he began. "She used to know where she was but suddenly she got lost. She didn't know anything anymore."
Daitokuji-sensei nodded thoughtfully. "A spirit will never fully disappear as long as someone still remembers it," he paused. "It seems that the little miss has been forgotten."
"But her sister…?" Juudai asked.
"Yes. I can only come up with one explanation. Her sister has died as well. With her last living relative gone, there's nothing tying her here and therefore she got lost. In the end, she will probably fade away."
Juudai frowned, not liking the idea of the little girl disappearing forever. He toyed with the laces of his shoes and looked at Betty and Pharaoh, who had started something vaguely resembling a chase. To everyone passing by, it just seemed like a large cat was chasing something only he could see. They didn't know how right they were.
"But on the way here…" Juudai began, thoughtful. "At first, she could barely remember what her sister's name was. But later on, she led me here without any trouble."
"I believe that to be your influence, Juudai-kun."
Juudai stared at him.
"The little miss was on the verge of disappearing. But when you came, you saw her. And by seeing her you learned who she was and remembered her. You once again tied her to this world. That is why she remembers again."
"That's good, right?"
"Not necessarily," Daitokuji-sensei shook his head. "You are the only person still remembering her. When you leave, she will stay here, still knowing everything but having no one to talk to. No, it would be best if she passed on." He smiled softly when he saw Juudai's frown. "Every spirit passes on eventually, Juudai-kun. Forgetting everything is just the more painful way, a way to force the spirits who don't want to go. It's not nice, but it's how it works. Some will eventually reincarnate, and others will stay with their family…" Daitokuji-sensei looked a bit wistful. "I don't think it's bad."
"I don't want her to disappear just like that, though!" Juudai said. He looked back at where Betty and Pharaoh were still playing. Yubel was keeping an eye on them, while still listening to their conversation.
"Then you can help her find a way to pass on," Daitokuji-sensei said serenely. "Help her find her sister. It might be what she needs."
Juudai nodded thoughtfully. "I think I can do that. Thanks, Daitokuji-sensei!"
He got up and walked over to Betty. She stopped playing with Pharaoh when he approached and looked at him expectantly.
"I think I might know where your sister is," he said, then paused. This might be a painful revelation for her.
"Where is she?"
"I think your sister is dead too," Juudai said slowly, keeping a close eye on her face. To his own surprise, she didn't seem too shocked, only resigned.
"I thought she was," Betty said in a small voice. "I just didn't want to say so. Now I know I won't find her again." Her good mood had completely disappeared.
"Hey, hey, don't worry!" Juudai said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Just because she's dead doesn't mean we can't find her! You're dead too, aren't you?"
He belatedly realized just how tactless his words must've sounded. Yubel gave him the equivalent of a tap on the head through their link, but Betty didn't seem insulted.
"If Sissy is dead, she must be at the graveyard, right?" she said, and Juudai nodded in agreement. "I know where the graveyard is! Mommy and Daddy were buried there too!"
"Can you show us?" Juudai asked, even though the answer was obvious. Betty was already heading back towards the road from which they'd come. Juudai picked up Pharaoh and let him back into his bag, while Daitokuji-sensei turned back into the little ball of light and was promptly swallowed by Pharaoh.
Betty stopped when they reached the road again, frowning. "The graveyard… I know where it is, but it's really far away. Sissy always used to go there by car and she let me come sometimes. You have to drive really far, and then you have to cross a bridge and then you still have to drive for a long time."
"That's time we don't have," Yubel told Juudai. Juudai agreed. It'd been late morning when they'd arrived, but now it was already evening. He hadn't eaten, Juudai, realised, and the moment he did, his stomach started rumbling. Pharaoh stuck his head out of the bag and meowed pitifully, indicating that he, too, was hungry.
"Ah," Juudai smiled bashfully. "Would you guys mind if I got something to eat first? Then we can discuss how to get to the cemetery."
He put down his bag and got out a sandwich he'd picked up before they'd gone to New York. It wasn't as good as Japanese food, but he had to make do and Juudai wasn't exactly a picky eater. Though fried shrimp would've be nice. Maybe he should learn how to make that himself.
"You could teleport us there," Yubel proposed. Juudai choked on his sandwich.
"Really?" he said, after his coughing had subsided. Betty had tried to hit him on the back, but since she had no corporeal form, it hadn't had any effect. "How can we be sure we'll end up in the right place? For all we know we might end up in Africa! Besides…" he glanced at Betty, "Can I even take her with us?"
"I'm sure you can pull it off," Yubel said serenely. "We always end up in places where our help is needed. We need to go to the graveyard. Therefore we will be able to go there."
"If you think so…" Juudai said carefully. He wasn't too keen on the teleporting yet. It wasn't that it was painful, or weird in any way. All he did was move through the darkness to reach his destination faster. Only he never got to pick that destination. His darkness still seemed to decide for him, and it wasn't too picky. As long as its Herald landed somewhere near the intended place, it seemed happy.
Maybe one day he'd be able to control it. He was working on it.
"Well, we can try," he decided. No use thinking about what-ifs. If Yubel was right, they'd end up where they needed to be. If she wasn't… Well, someone in Africa would certainly need his help as well.
He finished his sandwich, took out a bottle of water and drank deeply before getting up. Pharaoh meowed again, and Juudai fed him the few cat treats he still had left. He'd best pick up new ones as soon as possible.
"Betty, can you come here for a second?" Juudai held out his hand for the little girl to take and led them to the shadow of a nearby tree. "I need you to grab hold of me and don't let go. This might feel a little weird, but you just have to hold my hand and keep walking."
He made sure Pharaoh was safely back in his bag, then concentrated on the Darkness and stepped forward.
The landscape changed immediately. They were surrounded by darkness, but Juudai wasn't troubled. He felt at home here. The Darkness was resolutely pushing him in one direction, and Juudai let it guide him, concentrating on the feel of Betty's hand, much more solid here than in the real world, and the cemetery they had to go to. And he walked.
Moments later, they once again emerged in the shadow of a tree, but they were now in a very different place. Juudai saw tombstones. They'd reached the cemetery.
"Betty? Is this the right place?"
Betty looked a little shaken, but she seemed alright. She looked around carefully, then walked to a nearby tombstone.
"It's here," she said, tracing the names on the stone with one ghostly finger. "This is where Mommy and Daddy are buried."
The names belonged to two people who'd died almost thirty years earlier. But there was no mention of Betty or Betty's sister.
"Do you know where your sister is?" Juudai asked, crouching down so he could take a better look at the tombstone. Why anyone would want bury their family was beyond him; he'd much rather be cremated. But it seemed to be a habit here, however strange it was.
Betty frowned. "I think I can feel her… But I don't know. There's something over there," she pointed at another part of the cemetery. "It's not very clear."
"Let's go check it out then."
It was almost dark now, but that didn't matter to Juudai. He made his way to the place Betty had pointed at, all the while trying to pick up the signature of someone who'd recently deceased. There were less spirits in the cemetery than he'd suspected, and for a brief moment he stopped to wonder about that, but then Betty ran past him at full speed.
Juudai looked up to see Betty throw herself at an elderly spirit, sitting under a tree next to a new plot.
"Hello Betty," the spirit said. "I'm glad you could make it."
Betty was talking enthusiastically, pulling her sister up from where she was sitting and dragging her over to Juudai.
"Mister Juudai helped me to find you, Sissy! He's really very nice!"
"Nice to meet you then," Betty's sister said. "My name is Margaret. I must thank you for helping my sister, I would've looked for her myself, but I don't seem to be capable of leaving this place yet."
"It's a pleasure, "Juudai said, smiling. Margaret stared at him thoughtfully, before nodding.
"So, you're Chinese? Japanese? Long way from home, aren't you?"
Juudai nodded, wondering how she'd known he wasn't a native New Yorker. "Japanese. I'm traveling."
"Yes, I know," Margaret said, and chuckled when she saw his surprised look. "Don't be so shocked. You are quite famous here, Herald."
Juudai stared, and he felt a sudden wave of protectiveness from Yubel. "You know who I am?"
"Betty wouldn't have heard, the older spirits usually don't talk to the young ones… Even though she's older than most of them. But yes, we know who you are. And you were expected."
"What for?" Juudai asked.
"To help, what else? The spirits are disappearing faster than usual," Margaret looked around. "You might have noticed that it is very empty here."
Juudai had. He concentrated once again and reached the same conclusion. There were a few spirits here and there, but for a cemetery, the place was surprisingly empty.
"Aren't all spirits supposed to pass on, though?" he asked.
"Indeed," Margaret said. "But most linger around for a bit. Watch their own funeral, make sure their family is coping well, wait for a family member…" she patted Betty on the head. "Lately, most spirits just disappear right away."
"How can I help?"
Margaret stared at the setting sun, waiting a long time before she spoke again: "You don't have to do anything special. Keep traveling, keep helping. I don't know much either, but I think you will find out soon enough."
She turned to Betty. "Best say goodbye, sweetheart. Mister Juudai will be leaving soon."
And so would they, Juudai noticed. Betty was becoming less and less clear. She and her sister would move on very soon.
Betty came over to him and threw her arms around his middle. "Thank you, mister Juudai! And you have to be very careful!"
"I will be," Juudai grinned. He patted her on the head, like Margaret had done. His hand almost went straight through her. "And you have to be careful too!"
"Where are you going now?" she asked, her eyes looking a bit tearful. "Are you going to forget me?"
"I don't know where I'm going, but I definitely won't forget you," he kneeled down again, and she hugged him, then tried to pet Pharaoh, who had appeared once again. Pharaoh meowed.
"Besides," he continued, "your sister is here now, and you can go see your parents! Isn't that nice?"
Betty nodded and walked back to her sister, taking her hand.
"I think it is time for you to go, Herald," Margaret said. Juudai nodded and walked over to the tree where they'd found Margaret. Betty and Margaret were standing a few feet away from him, holding hands, and Juudai smiled at the sight. They were together again. They would be happy.
He stepped forward, and the familiar darkness enveloped him once again. But vaguely, far away, he heard Margaret speak one last time.
Beware, Herald. Be very careful. The Balance has already been broken, and you can't fix it alone.
1. For those people who are interested, Betty was born in 1934 and died in 1944 from a disease. Her sister was born in 1932.
2. About Juudai's aversion to being buried: it is traditional in Japan to get cremated. In fact, more than 99% of the population gets cremated.
Concrit, advice, suggestions and questions all very welcome!