We come to the end of this little story. Thanks a lot for reading it, and thanks for indulging an incurable Heihachi fan in her delusion. I know this isn't some of my best work, and this is indeed a rush job. This is the story I finished over the one-week semester break (yes, only one week) this school year. But I was happy to have this story running in my head. I was happy trying to analyze the gearhead's brain for a short while. Thanks again for indulging me.

The idea for this story comes from the observation that while we do see the teruteru, we don't see a body at episode 26 after the events in episode 25, unlike for Kyuzo and Kikuchiyo.

Disclaimer: I don't own S7 or the gearhead, and this is the end of a what-if story, by a fan who refuses to believe the obvious.

………………………..

"You don't have a sword anymore……"

"Yeah….."

"And even if you did, you won't be able to use it well."

"Yeah…."

She bows her head for a moment and looks away. "You can never threat anyone with death for treason again."

"That, too," I sigh.

I never liked remembering what I did to her, but I do, every once in a while. When she admitted to being a spy for the capital, everyone else wanted to either give her a second chance, or at least let her live. I drew a sword at her and wanted her dead. My blood was boiling with as much pent-up anger I had with myself, for once being an informant for the enemy. The part I could never forgive myself for is this: she was forced to do it. She did not deserve that.

I know, whenever she looks at me, that she remembers that time, too. And it hurts her, too. In the same way I want to apologize through everything I do, to prove I am not what she thinks I am, she keeps trying to prove that she is not what I think she is. In the process, we have both found out things about each other….that we have both liked.

She waves it off. "Sorry. Back to my point. You have to think over a way of defeating them that does not need a sword and close contact, because you can no longer do that."

But the mention of that awful time, does give me a good idea.

"A spy, a traitor, will act like all of its kind, but silently take down its kind." I look at my communicator at the workbench, and grin.

"What do you mean?" she asks.

I keep smiling at her, and point to a corner. "Honoka, could you please hand over the electrical tools there? Then that metal box at the other corner. Hmmm…..something to keep it stuck…….ah…can you possibly manage to get me a large magnet from the scrap yard later, before we go?"

"I'm not understanding what you're getting at, Heihachi," she says as she gives the toolbox.

"What best to finish off the Nobuseri, but another Nobuseri? And who best to think like a traitor…..than another traitor?"

She gives me a sad smile. "Now, I understand." She pats my hand again. "Remember to get some rest, alright? It is a battle you're going to."

I promise.

………………………………

If this were not a battle day, I would be really happy for the nice spring day that greets us. As it is, there's not a cloud in the sky, so any attack will be really really easy, oh, dear.

"Tenshi-sama? Tenshi-sama? The men are ready and armed. We're waiting for you," Shino reports to my communicator in the flyer.

"I'm on my way. Women and children?"

"They're safe at the priestess' house. I'm the only one who isn't there, because I'm with Gisaku."

"Brave lady. I salute you."

"Just get over here quickly, please, Hei-sama."

I chuckle. "Sure, sure." I look sheepishly at Honoka, sitting beside me at the transport ship the Shikimoribito lent me. "Stop worrying! Shino said there's a farmer she's starting to admire."

She tosses her head. "Who said I was worrying?"

As I said before, there's no reckoning with women.

I circle Kanna village once we get there. All the towers are manned, guns and bows and arrows are ready. Kanbei-sama taught them well. I make a quick survey of the other villages as well. No one has attacked them yet, thankfully.

I do tell Shino that I have arrived at Kanna, but I don't show myself. I fly up to the graves on the cliff.

"Hi, guys, I'm back," I greet my fallen comrades. "Remember Honoka-san? She's here, too."

It's a good vantage point, so I wait here. In the meantime, Honoka takes her time praying before each sword. It's the first time she has been here.

When lunch time arrives and nothing still happens, Honoka takes out a little basket that she brought along, and opens it. Two covered boxes of rice and toppings, and packets of juice. Nice and thoughtful of her, yes? I thank the heavens that I know her.

"You said you liked Shino-san's cooking better," she sighs.

"I like the way she cooks Kanna's rice," I admit. "But on the whole, you're the best cook I've met."

She lowers her head, and blushes.

But as soon as we're done with lunch, I see a dark cloud, and more and more dark figures, emerge from afar. Here they are. Here we go. I contact Shino to get ready, and we get on the flyer. I fly on to the village, and drop off Honoka with Shino at Gisaku's house.

"There, go and meet Shino-san. You'll see I'm not kidding you," I tell her. "I have to go."

"Promise you'll come back," she begs.

"I'll try."

I take the flyer out to meet the first few Nobuseri head on. I remember what Mizuki said, that the flyer is so quiet and so fast I can move like a ghost, and I use it to my advantage.

I take the flyer up, and up, and up. I manage to get really close to one of them, as blasts come here and there around me. I open the hatch, and throw the modified communicator onto the robot's back, making it stick with the strong magnet Honoka got from the scrap yard.

Whew! Now to get out of the way!

I place the flyer on autopilot, and begin to fiddle with another communication device I have with me. I hunt for the frequency the enemy uses to remotely control all of the Nobuseri, then I go a few notches higher, to control the one I attached the communicator to. That Nobuseri is now mine, and a traitor to its kind.

"Shino-san, report! Are there any attacks on the other villages?"

"Yes, Tenshi-sama, there are, but the ronin at each village has the situation under control," her voice nervously crackles back to me.

"What about you, are you all alright?"

"So far, yes."

"Over and out."

I make my robot get close to each of the others, then hit them discreetly through the core. I make it speed through the others, and 10 Nobuseri in 5 minutes. I check on the debris that falls, catching the core of each robot as I find it. I'm right in my hunch. The cores have the model numbers, unique to each one. Someone will definitely have records of their sale and day of creation. Someone in the towns will know how to deal with this.

I make the robot keep slashing and firing. I make sure that my robot keeps any of the others from attacking or firing at Kanna village. I am also assisted by the missiles from the salvaged guns the village has. Soon the 49 robots sent against Kanna village are down, without the controller at their base knowing what hit them. The fight is over in an hour.

"Shino-san, how are all of you?"

But I hear Honoka's voice over the communicator. "We're fine, how are you, Heihachi?"

"I'm okay, I'm going over to the other villages to check."

"But Heihachi….."

"I'll take care. Over and out."

I know she's worried, but I have to go check. I drive the flyer out of Kanna and into the neighboring villages, my controlled Nobuseri with me.

The ronin guards at each village did not leave when the capital fell, as the arrangement was agreeable to all concerned. But I did notice that the Nobuseri were just plain too large to handle. So I do what I can to help out, making my robot slip into each troop of Nobuseri and slash them without warning. I make the battle at each village shorter because of that, and I'm not sure the ronin guards actually know how that happened, hehe.

As evening falls on the farming villages, almost all the battles are done, and no villages have been destroyed. Thank goodness!

"Heihachi! Heihachi!" a half-panicky Honoka comes in through the communicator again.

"I'm still okay, Honoka, thanks for worrying." I swear I'm still fine. The flyer is well made, well shielded. I'm a little tired from all the maneuvering, but my abdomen doesn't hurt, and nothing is really painful right now.

"Don't lie to me!"

"I'm not, I'm fine!"

And that's when it happens.

I just barely see one of the last Nobuseri as it falls. But as it falls, it fires a shot at my controlled robot, then at my flyer!

So the control center finally noticed the traitor, and shot it down. My robot self-destructs, blasting apart in too many pieces.

The shot to the flyer fries almost all my controls, and I drift the flyer manually back to Kanna as fast as I can.

"I'm going down! I'm going down!"

"Heihachi!"

"Wing Rock! I'm going there! Hurry!"

The flyer crashes in one piece onto the ground around the village monument, all the buttons and even the joystick sparking and crackling too much. I break the hatch with the communicator, and get out slowly, really yelling from the pain my hip bones are giving me again.

I drag myself with my arms just a bit farther from the flyer, as it continues to spark and crackle. But I'm too slow, and I'm still too close when the flyer explodes. I knock my head on something hard, and the world disappears in a blast of light.

Oh, dear, I never told Honoka she's special to me.

Everything goes dark and blank.

………………………

Everyone is a guardian angel to someone else. Unless he fulfills this purpose, he will remain on earth, and will never become a true angel.

What are the requirements for getting to heaven? What do they need out of me, to let me in? Will I ever get to know if heaven has white clouds, people, rice? WHAT do I have to do? How much more do I have to pay back, before I'm allowed to leave this world? Why won't heaven let me in? I am a guardian angel to whom?

I weakly open my eyes. But once again, I'm somewhere that doesn't look anything like heaven. "Where……am I?"

"Home, silly." A face pops into view, one of undisguised relief. It's Honoka.

"Don't tell me. I've been unconscious for a week, and they had to revamp all the work they did on my hip bones and back."

"Just two days," she says simply. "And the rest of you is fine."

I look over my head and my hands, feel my abdomen and my chest, wiggle my toes. I am indeed fine.

But this time, I really am glad to be alive and well. It would've been such a terrible thing if I had to live in heaven and not have Mizuki and Honoka there. Especially the older sister, of course. "So, what did happen?" I drawl this out at them. I'm still tired and aching in many places.

"You were knocked out by the force of the explosion, Heihachi, that's all. I….I……tried to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. See? Aren't you glad I went along?" She ends with a shy little smile.

Yes, I am.

"You were a cat in a past life," Mizuki squeezes my hand and beams at me. "You have more than nine lives!"

"He's not a cat, dear sister," Honoka says beside her. "He's an angel. And angels are immortal."

No, I am not. How many times do I have to convince these people that I'm not even close to being an angel? No more talk like this, even from Honoka. "Kanna village?"

"It's safe, thanks to you."

That is really good to hear. "What about Katsushiro-kun and Shichi-san?"

"We have received reports from Kougakyo. Both samurai are alive and well. They were able to stop the strikes there. And the manager of the town has been arrested for conspiracy."

Mizuki interrupts her sister, "Roji-sama says he's coming over to visit in a few days!"

I don't ask any further about Katsushiro-kun. Now, I suppose, he will wander on to other places, far from Kanna and Kougakyo. It would be actually good for him. I wish him all the best.

"So, I guess there's nothing else left for me to do," I close my eyes and sigh. There is only one question left to answer: if I have fulfilled all my obligations, why am I still here?

"What do you mean, there is nothing else left to do, Heihachi-tenshi-sama?" Honoka smiles at me again. "There's the transport ship that would not start, and the crane at the west end that keeps dropping things……"

"And nee-san wants you to fix the leak in our water tank, once you're better," Mizuki nudges her sister, and gives me a happy grin and the victory sign.

That answers my final question.

Why am I still here? For the little things that makes living on earth still worth it.

Seeing a transport vehicle work well again without a noise. Making schematics for things that will make planting easier for the people here. Eating dinner with two lovely girls. Once in a while having Shino's incredible rice under well-chosen vegetables. Seeing the smile on Honoka's face after a nice evening chat over tea.

So, that's that for me now. My life will continue in this routine I have set for myself. In the mornings I'm a mechanic to all the vehicles and machines that need it. In the afternoons I'm repairman to the farmer tools. In the evenings, I'm just happy to live another day. Every so often, I'm a pilot for the Shikimoribito transport vehicles. And every once in a while, I'm maintenance personnel to the alarm systems and towers in Kanna village, and some of the other villages, too.

I will always be dependent on the flyer and the scooter now, but that's all right. I have friends to help me, don't I? And I have her.

Maybe, who knows? I might get enough nerve to propose to her. The reason I'm being asked to stay alive, to remain an angel on earth, for someone else.

Maybe.

--Owari--

……………………….

I do realize that I did not properly flesh out the relationship I entertained in this story, thus it turned out rather too fast, and for that I'm really sorry. But I hope you liked it and considered it rather feasible.

I thank the reviewers of this little story for reviewing, and making me feel that this was worth it. Thanks to roryheadmav and calreflector for the suggestions that helped for the working concepts. That is all I have left to say.

EK out.