Disclaimer: I don't own Weiss Kreuz or Gluhen.
CHAPTER FIVE: EPILOGUE
In the end, Aya managed to get hold of Sister Mary by phone and secure a place for the boy, Robert, and the three sisters in the orphanage. They dressed the girls in Yohji's grey sweater, his matching grey shirt, and Aya's blue sweater, then shepherded them to the car and drove to the church where Sister Mary was waiting for them.
In the bustle of getting the children situated, the nun found a few minutes to talk to him.
"I hope this wasn't too much of an inconvenience, Sister."
"Children are never an inconvenience," she answered serenely, then fixed him with those wise eyes of hers that saw too much. "Are you well?"
The wound in his gut was trickling blood again, but it was nothing compared to the weariness of his soul. It oozed out of his eyes, and he was too tired to mask it.
"I'll be fine," he lied to her.
They both knew it was a lie, but she nodded. "You know, there's a job opening up in September. We're starting a school to go with our day-care center. The orphanage is big enough to need one now, and many Catholic families would prefer to send their children to a safer place than public schools. The position wouldn't pay much, but…"
"Are you offering me a job?" Aya raised an eyebrow. He'd taught before. It was one of the few undercover positions he'd actually enjoyed for its own sake. "I don't have the proper credentials." Omi had provided him with forged ones for his position at Kowa Academy, but they were in Japanese.
"You're an intelligent man, and you love children. What other credentials could you possibly need? And besides, I'd be right there overseeing." Sister Mary countered. She stared at him calmly for a moment, then her eyes softened and her voice lowered.
"Caring for children has a very healing affect on people. No matter what you've done," the nun gave a pointed look to the side he was favoring, the one with the re-opened wound. "I know that your heart is redeemable. There is nothing that God cannot forgive. Redemption is what He offers, and once this gift is accepted, everything changes. Children know this instinctively. They don't care about what you've done; they only care about what you do now. Please think about it," she commanded, and glided away to discuss the placement of the children with a staff member.
The girl's mother would be found, and if she was still alive she'd be eligible for a place in the church's women's shelter. The shelter also had a pro-bono counselor for Sara, who'd need it after her ordeal. Robert would join the orphanage where he'd be safe from predators. He'd seemed happy, and a little relieved when Aya told him that Bandini and his men were dead. It gave Aya hope for the boy. Without a target to fixate on, perhaps the kid's desire for revenge would fade away to die a natural death. Perhaps he'd grow up to have a normal life, like the one Yohji had built for himself.
Aya never wanted to drag him back into this. He wouldn't have asked his former teammate along if he hadn't seen one of Bandini's men on the sidewalk outside of Gretchen's apartment yesterday.
Yohji saw the way Aya's shirt stuck to him when he took off his blue sweater to give to Sara to wear. It was why Yohji was still with him, helping him up the stairs to Gretchen's apartment.
She wasn't going to be happy when she saw that he'd popped a few stitches.
"I'm sorry," he said, as they rested on the first floor landing.
Yohji propped Aya up against the wall and stepped back. "For what?"
"For getting you into this."
A smile flashed across Yohji's face, the familiar devil-may-care expression that Aya had seen on it so many times before. For a minute, he thought the old Yohji was back, but then the smile faded.
"You didn't get me into anything. I volunteered, remember?"
Aya nodded, and Yohji went on.
"I had to know what my old life was like if I was going to choose between them. Maybe I'll never remember anything more than bits and pieces. I needed to do this. I needed to know what it felt like being Weiss."
"And now that you know?"
Yohji smiled again, blindingly, a smile of pure happiness that had Aya catch his breath in amazement.
"I know that my place is with Asuka. I choose my new life. I'm sorry, Aya. I won't be going back to Weiss."
Aya closed his eyes, and nodded. It was what he'd expected.
Yohji slipped his shoulder under Aya's and helped him up the rest of the stairs. As they got to Gretchen's door, it opened.
There she stood, with a smudge of flour on her nose and the smell of fresh baked cookies wafting out of the apartment. Her phone was in the crook of her neck and mitten-like potholders covered her hands.
"Yes, they just came in, Mr. Omi. Yes, my phone actually does have a speakerphone button. Oh no, it's no trouble at all. I'm sure it must be very important business for you to be calling all the way from Japan. I'll just go and borrow some coffee from my downstairs neighbor. I'm almost out anyway. OK, hold on."
She took the phone carefully in her be-mittened hand and gave it to Yohji as she whirled away and grabbed a plate of cookies from off the tiny kitchenette table, shedding the oven mitts as she went.
Flashing them both a smile, she brushed past them to the door.
Aya put his arm across the doorway and stopped her, her frenetic good cheer not fooling him. "I'm sorry we're kicking you out of your apartment again," he said, making sure that his trench coat hid the bloodstain on his shirt.
"It's OK. I was, um, going to take a plate of cookies to Mrs. Andiamo – she lives here, er, I mean lives downstairs anyway."
Gretchen always became tongue tied when embarrassed. She knew Aya and Yohji weren't gay, that left… of course. What would be the only other reason why one man would have to help another home? She thought he was drunk.
He leaned forward, letting her smell the lack of alcohol on his breath, and kissed her cheek.
"I promise I'll make it up to you," he said, and then stepped aside to let her pass.
"Oh, right. OK," she said dazedly and nearly walked into the wall, righted herself, and made it out the doorway safely.
Meanwhile Yohji had found the speakerphone button on the phone and pressed it. Aya sank down on the sofa next to him.
"Aya? Yohji? Are you there?" came Omi's voice from the phone.
Yohji glanced questioningly at Aya, who answered for the both of them. "We're here, Omi."
"Yohji?" Omi's voice sounded almost wistful.
"I'm here." Yohji answered reluctantly.
"He still doesn't remember." Aya told Omi.
"Ah. Then I guess it would be useless to ask you if you wanted to return to Weiss, wouldn't it, Yohji?" Omi asked, and just like that, the tension Aya'd felt in his former teammate since the phone call began, was gone.
"Yes," answered Yohji warmly. "It would."
"And what about you, Aya?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you still want to return to Weiss?"
Aya froze. Did he want to return? He remembered so clearly just wanting to give up when he was bleeding by the mailbox, knifed by a child. Robert, the boy he'd rescued today, could easily have become a child like that – a pint sized killer with dead eyes and no remorse. The guilty or the innocent, revenge or justice, it was like flipping a coin and waiting to see which side ended upright.
"No," he answered slowly. "I don't. I've been offered a teaching job. I think I'm going to take it."
He liked children, liked the thought of influencing their development, of making a difference. If he could help children like Robert to make the right decisions, if he could keep them from becoming hardened killers like him, then maybe there was hope for the world after all.
There was a silence.
"Then I guess it's official. The old Weiss Kreuz team is disbanded."
Fear shot through Aya. "What about Ken?" He'd left Ken at the airport, hurting but unable to talk about it. Heartsick himself, with a flight about to leave, Aya had simply walked away. He regretted it now.
"Oh! Ken is fine. He spent some time in jail, his choice, but now he's got a job as assistant coach to a soccer team."
Aya breathed a sigh of relief. "And you, Omi?"
A memory came to Aya of a day in a clearing where they'd stopped the flower shop van, just to watch the clouds passing over a meadow.
"Do you still want to just get in a van and travel around selling flowers?" he asked.
"Ah." A world of regret was in that syllable, and Aya knew Omi remembered that day as well.
"Yellow." Yohji said unexpectedly.
Aya looked over and saw the fair-haired man's eyes light up.
"The meadow had yellow flowers, and Omi said that we should pick them and load them in the van and just drive around selling them. I'm right, aren't I?" he asked Aya.
Yohji laughed softly. "That's the longest memory I've had yet."
"Then I'm glad it's a good one," came Omi's voice from the phone. "There were some good memories, you know."
He lost his wistful tone and his voice became brisk as he went on. "I'm sorry, Aya. I can't pick up and just leave. I have a duty to fulfill. As long as the remains of Esset are out there, my place is here, fighting them. Besides, I promised a friend of ours I'd help him find a girl."
"A girl?" Yohji burst out incredulously.
Aya allowed himself a small smile. Trust the mention of a female to get Yohji's attention.
Omi laughed. "I promised Nagi that in exchange for joining our side, I'd help him find Tot."
Aya flashed back to a moonlit forest, sneaking through it and coming upon the very young couple, Nagi – a member of Weiss's arch rival group, Schwarz, and Tot – the pink haired junior member of Schreient. He'd accidentally witnessed their first, awkward kiss.
They were his enemies at the time, but something stayed his hand from striking them. Now he was glad he'd spared them, for without Nagi's help in the last battle against Esset, they probably wouldn't have made it out alive. All of the members of the Schreient group's bodies had been found after a previous battle, all except Tot's.
"I wish you success." Aya told Omi.
"Hey, who's Nagi?" asked Yohji interestedly.
Aya looked over at him. "It's a long story. Maybe I'll tell you one day." He turned back to the phone. "Omi, promise me something."
"If I can," came Omi's voice.
"Once Esset is finished, and you've found Tot, promise me that you'll do it. That you'll take a van and just travel to places you've never been." Aya's side was aching. He wanted to get to bed, but this was important, no matter how stupid it sounded.
At first he thought Omi wouldn't answer, but then…
"Only if everyone else comes too."
Aya looked over at Yohji, a man who didn't remember anything about the team except a conversation in a meadow years ago.
"Count me in," he said lightly.
Aya flashed a look of gratitude at his former teammate. "And me."
"Then it's a promise."
Ten years later, a caravan of motor homes was parked in a ring around a campfire in a broad green meadow.
Children ran around screaming with the joy of being out of doors and unconfined. Wives watched over them indulgently, knowing that the month long vacation in the meadow would end soon, and the kids would be glued to desks in the schoolroom before long.
Aya, Omi, Yohji, and Ken sat on their campstools and watched the clouds pass overhead, leaving patches of shadow and light at play on the grass below. The wives had vetoed the idea of traveling around selling flowers one summer, but had been surprisingly agreeable to camping out. It was an enchanted time of watching their offspring interacting, seeing their parents' qualities coming out in odd ways as they laughed and played together, blonde, brunette, and redheaded children enjoying each others' company in the effortless way children had. It was endlessly fascinating to watch them.
Though sometimes it was nice to get away from the madcap scramble below, to climb the ridge above the campsite where they'd parked the van so many years before, to sit on their campstools and enjoy a drink together before dinner.
"So Esset's finally done for, eh Omi?" asked Ken with a grin, breaking the companionable silence.
The younger man smiled. "The last branch was terminated six months ago."
"That is good." Aya approved.
"Congratulations," said Yohji lightly.
"You still don't remember anything, do you?" asked Ken, eyes alight with curiosity and a slight envy.
"Nope." Yohji took a drink from his glass, and used it to gesture to the caravan below. "Just this. Just being here and talking about the trip we were going to make someday. Everything else is just bits and pieces, like watching a movie about someone else's life." He wrenched his gaze away from the scene below and looked at Ken, to see how he'd take it.
"That's great, man," said Ken, and meant it.
"I think, of all the memories to have left, that one is the best," offered Omi. "Not the battles, and the fighting, but just the four of us, together."
They were silent a moment. Then Aya lifted his glass. "To Weiss Kreuz," he toasted, and one by one the rest of them raised their glasses.
It was the end of an age, an end of fighting, and strife, but the beginning of something new. Their lives would be filled with the fruits of their labors now – real jobs, wives, children, and friendships that wouldn't fade with the passage of time and distance. They'd never thought that they'd survive or that they'd deserved happiness, yet it had happened for each of them.
The finished their drinks and made their way back to their families and their lives.
A/N: Well, that's it. Happy endings all around. After what Weiss Kreuz went through I figured they deserved one! Hope you all enjoyed it!
Notes to Reviewers:
MikaSamu – Hope you don't mind that Yohji doesn't fully regain his memories. I figured he'd be happier without them. As for 'Side B' – I didn't even know the manga continued past the Gluhen anime! If I did, I wouldn't have been so angry at the Gluhen ending!
Carrothien – Sorry nothing much happened in the epilogue, though I did include the other Weiss Kreuz characters at the very end.
Elvengirl10 – Thanks for your kind words! I wanted Yohji's decision to quit Weiss to be a positive thing, a reasoned decision based on a true knowledge of exactly what he was giving up. I've never seen Yohji as a coward, but losing his memory in Gluhen changed him for the better and gave him a chance at a normal life. And he doesn't just have himself to think of anymore, he's got Asuka's happiness to consider as well. I wanted him to weigh his options and responsibilities and choose her, and he did. Hope you liked the ending!
Wolfeyes – Glad to know the manga creators had their heads screwed on straight (unlike the Gluhen creators!) Aya lived on in the manga? I'm a happy camper now! Hugs to Wolfeyes!
BakaBokken – Thanks! You're so sweet! I've never thought of my writing as 'addicting' before! I love your stories too – any chance of an update soon? I'm dying to know what happens next in "Desperation" – particularly since I've been watching the FMP Fumoffo series.
Ayabyssinian – Life is indeed random, and there's lots of senseless violence like Aya getting stabbed at the end of Gluhen. Yet isn't that why we write fiction? To 'fix' things the way we want them to be? We may not be able to control what's happening in life, but we can control what happens in our stories. In fanfiction, as long as we keep characters IN character we can give them the happy endings they deserve, which is what I tried to do in this story. I'm glad you think I did an OK job with Aya. That means a lot coming from a WK expert (and after watching WK 15 times and Gluhen 5, you definitely qualify!). By the way, thanks for the recommendation, I thought 'Haunted' was really cute!
Shadoewhunter – Well there was a tiny bit more interaction between Yohji and the rest of his team-mates this time as you requested, but since the story was ending there wasn't much scope for adding any more. Hope you liked the epilogue anyway.