Well, it's finally here, the last chapter! I hope you have all enjoyed this story and I certainly hope you enjoy the ending, it will definitely leave you thinking a bit. :)
It was a chilly autumn day, the fresh, green leaves of summer having since been tinted red, the forest stained with the blood of a life ended by cold blooded murder.
Gene closed his eyes tightly, wearing a dark tux and sighing as he rubbed his temples. He looked down at his hand, a key to the penthouse resting in his palm. He then looked up at the wall, the only thing left in the apartment being the painting Kira had made of him. His emotionless stare from his four faces in the painting sent a chill down his spine, and he took his things, heading out of the apartment; as he did, the door to his bedroom creaked open a bit, and one could barely just see a giant, gaping hole torn in the wall of his room, one of many that now plagued the building.
Mary furrowed her brows, exhaling as she gazed upon the picture of her, Gene, his wife and a few of their friends as younger adults, a teardrop splattering on the photo. She had wanted Gene so badly... but not like this. She exhaled shakily, looking at the diamond ring on her finger, and it had become a curse rather than a symbol of joy.
Felix took a deep breath as he stood at the edge of the forest, gazing up at the reddish brown trees as he slowly dared to enter. These woods once filled with life now left a thick silence, no longer did the birds sing or the small woodland animals skitter about. Felix stopped when he heard something break the silence, the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. A creature shrouded in shadows came forth until the low light revealed it to be Ralph, narrowing his eyes a bit when he saw Felix standing there.
"I... I came to say goodbye..." Felix said softly, answering Ralph's unasked question. "We're all staying in the city until the penthouse is fixed up... I'll be coming here each day by train to work..." He looked up at Ralph, furrowing his brows. "Ralph... I also want to thank you. You... you gave Kira happiness I couldn't, and... I won't ever forget that."
Ralph took a few steps forward, observing Felix. "I know you meant well in your actions... I have no ill feelings toward you. However, you belong out there, and I here. We cannot be allies, at least in this life. You must keep to your home as I must keep the forest. We all must carry this heavy burden until what was taken from us is restored."
Felix nodded, biting his lip. "I understand." He glanced back before looking up at Ralph. "I... I should be going now... but... I hope there's some hope for both of us out there." As he turned to leave, Ralph spoke one last thing to him.
"There is nothing left here in this life. I had learned to love, and now I have learned to hate. Until a better time comes, I will never stop. Even when you return and your home is new again, I will come again. I will always remind the humans of the pain forever in my heart. The space that is empty where Kira once was. It will not matter how many times you fix it, I will always return to destroy for that human what he destroyed for me."
Felix glanced back at Ralph sadly, exhaling. "I didn't want it to be this way..."
"But this is what it has come to. Sometimes, it takes more than one life to overcome the harm one without a heart causes." Ralph said.
Felix gave a small nod. "I hope that day comes, Ralph, for both of us. Farewell." He turned, slowly heading out of the forest.
Ralph watched Felix as he walked away, he himself venturing further into the forest, the two walking in opposite directions. Ralph exhaled lightly, furrowing his brows lightly as he approached a small clearing in the forest where a small glimpse of light shone upon a tree unlike all the others. It swayed gently in the breeze, the light, pink blossoms grazing lightly against Ralph's face, some branches still bearing cherries. A saddened smile graced Ralph's features.
"Hello, Kira." He whispered, taking some cherries into his hands and munching on them. At the base of the tree on a small branch hung a necklace, its charms of a key, a seashell and a wooden carved heart stained with dried blood. He went over to plop down beside the tree, embracing it gently. The branches swayed a bit, brushing lightly along his back and side as a few pink petals gently fluttered down upon him.
When the humans returned, Ralph would continue to wreck their home of cold, lifeless stone by day, and reside by his Kira by night.
Where Gene had lost, Ralph had kept.
It was 1984, and Mr. Litwak whistled lightly, closing up after his first day of opening his arcade. He smiled lightly as he checked around the place, stopping when he looked at one of the arcades sitting in the back of the room. He sighed lightly, gently patting the arcade console. "You all be good and get along in there, you hear?" He said to himself as he went to the door, locking it up and heading out to his car. Once inside, he whistled as he drove along, turning onto a side road and pulling into a parking lot, parking the car and getting out. As he shut the door, he looked over at the building behind him; a nursing home. He whistled lightly as he headed over, opening the door and entering. He went up to the front desk, clearing his throat to get the receptionist's attention.
"Oh, good afternoon, Mr. Litwak... here to see your nana again?" She smiled.
"Sure am... how's she doing today?" He asked.
"Well, she ate pretty well today, no indigestion... she's really a miracle, sir. Almost a hundred years old. Well, you can go see her if you like, she just woke up from a nap. We've sat her up and got her all ready for you."
"Thanks." Mr. Litwak smiled, heading into the room where and old woman sat up in bed against some pillows stared out a window. "Nana? Nana, you hear me?"
The old woman looked over, squinting her eyes a bit before smiling. "Oh, hello dear... look at what a beautiful day it is outside..."
"Sure is, nana. Just got out of work. I can't believe I've been working at the arcade over a year now..."
"At the what now, dear?"
"Never mind... how are you feeling, nana? Do you need me to get you anything?" Mr. Litwak asked.
"Oh... hm... well, I could use some water... look around, I think I have a glass somewhere or other..."
"Sure thing." He smiled, getting up and looking around in the cabinets and drawers, rummaging around a bit. As he did, he saw a piece of paper sticking out of a book she had, the ends frayed. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was a photo. He opened the book, tilting his head as he took the photo out, looking at it. "Hey... nana...?"
"Isn't this you...?" He handed the photo to her, and she took it gently, reaching for her glasses as she blinked a bit, taking a closer look.
"Oh... it's so faded now... yes... I was a young girl in this photo... uh... maybe in my twenties... oh, it was a happy time, then..."
Mr. Litwak smiled, finding a glass and pouring some water for her. "Who's that your with...?"
"Oh, some old friends... we stayed close for a long time..." Her expression saddened a bit then.
"Here's some water... why don't you tell me about them, nana? I love when you told me stories as a youngster."
She smiled a bit at him. "Yes... let me tell you a story... it happened so long ago... it's not the happiest of stories..."
"That's okay, nana. Sometimes sad stories are just a start to a happier one."
"I suppose that's true..."
A nurse walked in then, smiling at the old woman as she carried a food tray with a slice of pie. "Well, looking good today, Mary! Here's your afternoon snack!"
The old woman looked to the nurse, smiling when the slice was placed down before her. "Oh... pie was always my favorite..."
Mr. Litwak chuckled. "I'll never forget how she used to make pies every summer when we went out to visit her as kids. No one on this planet Earth made it better."
"So I've heard!" The nurse giggled a bit. "Well, if you guys need anything, just holler." The nurse said before walking out.
Mary smiled as she ate a piece, savoring the taste. "Oh... where was I... oh, yes. It all started one summer in the 1920s... yes."
As Mary told her grandson the story, a light breeze came in, gently blowing the frayed edges of the photo a bit as it rested on the bed. It was worn and faded, but one could barely make out Mary as a young woman standing beside the man she thought she loved more than anything.
She had kept the photo so that she could keep the story that was carried with it, passing it on now to her grandson. The Keeper of the Forest would live on anew, as would the hope of restoring the love he and Felix had lost.
Well, who would have thought, huh? :) Thank you to everyone who supported this fic with such encouraging reviews, and I hope this was an entertaining read. See you around! *waves*