For Better or For Worse

Note: A continuation of "My Funny Valentine". The Holy Student Council is still operational and does exorcisms for a token fee, sometimes for free for those who cannot afford them. Haruna is expecting a child and is going into labor. By the time Yume is born she is taken from Haruna and an unconscious Haruto (he passed out during the viewing of his newborn daughter) by an unknown force. Why would such a force want to kidnap an innocent newborn ? Will the group be able to find the source that took her and be able to safely return her to her rightful parents' arms ?

Chapter 1—Where's the Baby ?

Haruna had been pregnant for 9-months now and was expecting to deliver her first child at any given moment. Haruto, the nervous, anxious father, took her to the nearest hospital once she began having labor pains. Haruna was calm and collected as usual, while Haruto was so tense that he was practically drenched in his own sweat.

"Haruto, are you going to be ok ? You might have to see the doctor more than I do !", Haruna said, chuckling before she had another labor pain. Haruto began to panic and hoisted Haruna into his arms. "I'm going to be fine, Haruna darling. But, I'm taking you to the hospital straight away. Hold on tightly, this ride might get a little rocky.", Haruto said, gently placing her into their car, fastened her seat belt, and fastened his own after getting in. Without any further ado, the expectant couple was off like a shot to the local hospital.

Haruna had called Haruto's friends via cell phone to witness the birth of her first child. She was perfectly collected and cool over the phone while Haruto was driving like a maniac to get her to the maternity ward. He could barely even breathe properly.

"Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Relax ! Goosfraba !", one of the OB doctors said to him while holding his hand. The words helped, somewhat. It became a little easier once his friends were there rooting for him, but as Haruna came closer to delivering their baby, he started to get a serious case of the jitters.

"Push, honey !", another OB doctor said as Haruna let out a delicate grunt before the baby made her entrance. Upon seeing how adorable the wee girl was, he had fainted. Kasumi, Mutsuki and some nurses helped him up and tried to rouse him as they began to introduce Yume to her excited parents. Before this could happen, the lights unexpectedly went out. Startled, everyone began to wonder what was going on.

There was an ominous feeling in the maternity ward and suddenly Yume's terrified wails as she was mysteriously whisked away by an unknown force.

"Something's wrong ! An evil spirit was just here !", Mutsuki said, her ruby eyes narrowing and nose wrinkling in disgust.

"Come on, Kaisho ! Wake up ! Wakey, wakey !", Kasumi said, gently patting Haruto on the cheek. Houjo's eyes fluttered as he came back into consciousness. Haruna was no longer on the bed and was by his side. Haruto was already very confused and didn't know what was going on.

"Honey, Yume's gone. Someone, or something has taken her from us.", Haruna said, helping him onto his feet. Haruto was still dazed but the words were sinking in.

"Don't worry, we're going to look for the creature who kidnapped her !", Mutsuki said, patting Haruna's back in consolation. The Saitoh spirits, who were also there, had vowed to do their best as well to retrieve Yume. The whole team together would do whatever it took to get Yume back to her rightful parents. Still, the whole mystery they were trying to solve is why any force would want Yume to begin with. They would discover the reason in time as they began their search for being that pilfered Yume.

Chapter 2—The Portal Opens to the Demon World

Distracted by being possessed by an animal spirit (this time it was a porcupine of all things), Mutsuki had literally knocked some sense back into Kasumi.

"Hey, I'm sorry ! I never know what kind of spirit will possess me !

I can't help that ! Don't look at me like that, guys !", Kasumi said, with sad, puppy-dog eyes. Mutsuki rolled her eyes and shook her head left and right. Haruna had caught onto the trail of the source that took Yume.

"It went this way. I know it, I can see the blackness it left behind.", she said, her ice-blue eyes slanting in anger. The others could sense the evil spirit that had escaped with Yume had already fled into the Demon World. They would have to open a door into the world of the cursed. The Saitoh spirits, with the help of Tatsugoro (the Chairman himself) had been able to allow them all entry into the realm of the damned.

It wasn't very pleasant, the realm of the damned. Shivers ran up and down everyone's spines, but the team remained collected as they continued to use Haruna's "vision" to follow whatever being had taken Yume. In time, the team came upon a locale that was hellish indeed. The rocks were jagged, there was little light and the terrible odor of sulfur, and brimstone was potent. There was dimness at the end of the long tunnel, and the terrified cries of Yume could be heard. Haruto and Haruna almost began running in the direction of the faint glow but knew that this wouldn't be the most logical course of action.

Haruto and his team finally reached the end of the tunnel and found a demon cradling their daughter in its arms. Unlike most demons, this one was quite adorable.

She was trying her best to calm Yume down, but Yume was terrified and wouldn't cease her wailing. Mutsuki pointed her cleansing stick at the creature's chin and began interrogating her.

"Demon, what is your reason for kidnapping this human child ?", she asked.

"Forgive me, but I couldn't help myself. When I saw her from my divination bowl, I had to have her. I cannot have any children of my own, and unlike you humans, demons can't adopt.", the demon said, sadly. Kasmui suddenly broke down into tears.

"That's horrible ! Why is that ?", he questioned.

"I'm not really certain. It's an unwritten rule. I have seen what happens to those who disobey it. It's better if you follow regulations than not, even when it comes to a creature's happiness.", she said, smiling softly. Haruto took his daughter into his arms and she stopped crying.

"Well, perhaps we can make someone believe that you and others that cannot bear their own offspring a chance ?", Haruna said, gently, kissing Yume upon the forehead. The demon wasn't certain at first, but she really wanted to have a child with her husband of 10,000-years (and still going on strong).

"Why not ? I've got all the time in the world. If the Council won't agree to my plea, at least I will give them time to think about it.", she said, confidently.

"That's the spirit !", Haruto said, with a hint of tears in his baby blue eyes. All of them together would try their best to help the demon have her wish.

Chapter 3—Aura's Petition

It took many hours for them to reach the Council, but Aura (the demon they had befriended) had showed them around the cursed realm and to the hidden world that many mortals had never seen. It was still as dismal as before, but there were buildings, roads, and other unusual objects that mirrored the world above ground.

Aura spoke with the leader of the Council and had asked him about the unwritten rule she had told Haruto and his friends about before. Aura's husband, Jag, was working, but she knew he would've stated things similarly to the Magistrate. After much deliberation, whispers of how the rules should be changed could be heard.

Aura's orange eyes began to gleam with tears of joy. The Head of the Council brought everyone to order.

"After discussing this for quite some time, we have come to a decision. So many orphaned children of darkness are left to whither away into nothingness. They deserve parents such as yourself to grow strong and healthy.", the Leader stated.

"Thus is it written. Thus shall it be done.", the Magistrate said in unison.

Aura fell down to her knees and thanked the Leader with gracious sobs. She, with Haruto and his friends, left the Council to return to her home and her husband to tell him the sensational news.

Chapter 4—Return to the Surface

Aura asked for forgiveness once again from Haruto and Haruna. The parents were no longer angered by what Aura had done. In her situation, they might have done the same thing. The team wished her and Jag the best of luck as they searched for a baby to adopt as their own.

Yume was fast asleep even after all of the excitement of the day. More than likely she wouldn't remember what had occurred. Everyone went back to their usual jobs. Haruna and Haruto started anew as first-time parents. Life still wasn't normal for the new parents once they learned what abilities she had. Although Yume's hovering sometimes made Haruto shout "OH MY GOD !" , it was a shout of pride and amusement rather than abject horror as she floated into his loving arms.

"We wouldn't want it any other way, would we ?", Haruna said, gently kissing him upon the neck. Haruto laughed, the sensation tickling him a little.

"No, we certainly wouldn't my love. She's special and wonderful, just like you !", Hartuo said, lifting Yume up and down in his arms while she cooed and giggled joyfully.

Epilogue

One night, Aura and Jag had popped by to thank the Holy Student Council for what they had done and proudly showed off their twin boys, Gorry and Vernon.

"We cannot thank you enough. If it wasn't for your help, we would've never have been able to convince the High Judge that we as living beings have the same rights as you surface dwellers.", Jag said, cuddling Vernon close to his cheek.

It was a cozy picture, the new parents with their beloved children. Of course, many of the spirits were moved to tears, seeing how touching the whole scenario was. At the end of the visit, (after having tea and snacks), the demons left, opened a portal to the realm of the undead.

Sometimes exorcisms kept Haruto and Haruna away from their daughter, but they had a nanny tend to her when they were away cleansing houses and other locales. The young girl soon grew older and was walking and talking by herself. Of course, her abilities scared some of her schoolmates, but others were very accepting of her. She was very popular with other kids and made friends quite easily. In fact, she was only 7-years-old now and getting love notes from boys. Although boys were hitting on her at this tender age, she didn't let the popularity go to her head. She excelled in all of her subjects and was praised daily by her parents. She hoped to join them in the future on their cleansing expeditions, but she wasn't old enough yet. When she was a teenager, she could finally join them and become part of the Holy Student Council. With any luck, she would continue the tradition of keeping spirituality alive and well wherever she went and make the world a better place for living and dead alike.

The End

By: Elizabeth Berndt

December 17, 2004