Chuck: Yo, everyone! After reading some reviews and thinking about it, I've decided to use the alternate (Not to mention original) ending as the story's true finale. I hope you all enjoy this one much more, due to the amount of love I put into it. Enjoy!
There was a shot of numbness as reality rushed back to him. As the room returned he felt himself become nauseated. He quickly clenched his fist, trying to keep his emotions under control.
The man nodded quietly as his wife returned to sight. If his mask had not been present, Keiko would've seen the tears that now streamed down his cheeks.
Hao awoken in a similar fashion, holding his head as he did. Trembling, he lifted his hand from the Tao's cheek. "No wonder there's a grudge. Yoh must've been . . . so mad." He looked to his friends. "We . . . we should go now. The longer this thing's here, the worse. There's no telling who it'll go after next."
Kino looked to the small clock on the end table. 12:59a.m. She sighed. "It's so late."
Horo still sat cradling the limp boy. "We have to do it soon. We have to do it before . . ." He stroked the Tao's forehead, then cringed. "Damn it, why did all of this have to happen?"
With the memories of the vision still in his mind, Mikihisa slowly rose to his feet, then walked to the door. "Are we gonna do this or not?"
The others nodded, and Hao, Anna, Faust, Horo Horo, Ryu, and Tamao joined him.
Ryu looked to Tamao, then shook his head. "Tamao-chan, I want you to stay here. If it doesn't work out at the hotel, we need someone here with Kino-san and Keiko."
The rose shaman was quiet as she nodded, then a hand was placed on her shoulder.
Anna held a soft smile. "Daijoubu, Tamao. I'll stay too."
Mikihisa looked to Hao, then sighed. "I'm not gonna keep you from coming, am I?"
Hao shook his head. "I should probably be there. With Spirit of Fire I could . . . take care of the onsen easily."
The group fell quiet. It was strange to think how quickly things had changed. Just last week, they were all sitting at the dinner table, laughing together. Ren, Manta, Lyserg, Yoh; they had all sat with them too, but now they were gone. It hurt them to think they would be destroying the building that had held them in union for so long. Their deed was sickening, but it had to be done. It was the only logical solution.
As the shamans began to leave, Kino stopped them at the door. "Remember, if you see Yoh there, which you most likely will, you have to remember that it's not really him. As terrible and sad as he looks, it's not him."
The shamans nodded, then with quiet farewells, they departed for the onsen.
The remaining women were as silent as the limp boy on the couch.
Tamao didn't wish to look at her departed friend, but found herself unable to look away. "Anna-sama, why do you think Ren-san died in such a way. I mean, it was relatively simple."
Anna sighed. "Though Ren was in the house, he still was a part of Yoh's murder. I guess the curse didn't feel his death should be dragged out."
Keiko sighed. "So much has happened. I wish it could all just be erased."
Kino sat observing the corpse, when she was suddenly struck by inspiration. "Of coarse!" She lifted to her feet, then began to search through a small bag she had brought.
Keiko stared. "What is it, Okaasan?"
With small hands, the elderly women drew a small burgundy book. "I think I might have the solution right here."
It was 1:30 when the shamans arrived at the onsen. As they looked upon it, they could feel the cold presence inside. It had been here that three deaths had occurred; Yoh, Miano Yoko, and Lyserg. Even without a grudge, the building would have retained a chill of sorrow, but this was different. Much stronger.
Hao looked back to the others. "Before we burn it down . . . do you think we could try and save some stuff?"
The shamans were quiet, then Mikihisa sighed. "It seems pretty risky. We could be attacked."
Horo smiled a little. "We can be attacked just for standing here. There's no sense in losing everything. We just have to be quick about it."
There was a long moment of silence, then the masked man nodded. "I guess it would be alright, but lets not waste any time.""
Faust nodded. "I'll head straight for the basement."
"Horo and I will take the first floor."
Mikihisa looked to Hao. "That leaves you and me with the second."
Hao nodded. "Alright, let's do it."
The shamans were quiet as they entered the onsen. They had never noticed how much the floor creaked, or how the moonlight gave the rooms such an eerie glow. The building had definitely changed. When they reached the living room, Mikihisa sighed. "Alright, we'll split up here," and with a nod, the group nodded, then went their separate ways.
Faust quickly ran down into the basement, and began collecting his materials.
Eliza stood outside the door, keeping a watch for anything mysterious.
The doctor had just about gathered everything, when he noticed a small shimmer from his desk. "Nani?" He slowly approached, then titled his head, when he saw a small ring. It was quite simple. A silver band with a different shades of color on the center piece. He lifted it up, then realized the gem attached was actually a ying yang, composed of onyx and ivory. Observing the ring, he didn't even notice the door close, locking Eliza outside the room. The room began to grow cold, and the doctor felt a strange presence in the room. He knew it wasn't his wife. He spun around, but found nothing. "Eliza!" There was no response. He cringed, then turned back to the desk, when he suddenly received a sharp blow to the head. All was darkening quickly, and as he lost consciousness, he could see a dark figure beneath his desk. It grabbed his legs, then pulled him into the darkness.
On the first floor, Horo and Ryu were searching quietly, unaware of what had become of the doctor. Upstairs, Hao and Mikihisa were slowly going through rooms, looking for anything valuable. Of coarse, everything was valuable, but they had to find something small enough so it could be easily taken out. Hao carried a bag filled with a few of the group's possessions. They had been quiet while doing this, then they finally reached Hao's door. From it ran the strange marks in the floor.
"Should we . . . go in?"
Mikihisa nodded. "Aa. You should have something as well."
The two entered the room, then as Hao searched through his closet, Mikihisa crouched down in front of a corner. He recognized it easily. It was here that Yoh had tried to call him. Here he had been abandoned. The masked man clenched his fist fighting the urge to sob.
Searching through drawers, Hao cringed not being able to find anything satisfactory. "I can't find anything. Huh? Dad?" He poked his head out the door, and found his father standing at another door.
Stroking the wood, the masked man sighed. "He probably had something in here. I'll check it out, while you look in your room."
The boy was about to argue, when he caught the sorrow in his tone. "Alright," and so he returned to his room.
Mikihisa slowly opened the door, then stepped into the dark room. It seemed strange to him now. The sheets were too neat, the clutter was gone, everything was organized; all was wiped clean. It was as if the room was on display somewhere. He had been heading to the closet, when he spotted a dark object on the pillow. "Nani?" As he approached, he sighed recognizing the orange headphones. "Yoh . . ." He lifted the headgear into his hands, and began to stroke them as he became lost in thought. Why hadn't he been able to tell something was wrong that night? Why did he disregard the phone call? He was sure that if he had left the restaurant right after that he could've done something. "I should have been able to recognize you." There was a strange rush of cold, then he heard a strange sound. It was almost like a rattling. "Nani?" He began to look around, when he saw a hand lunge out from under the futon. It was a pale, almost bluish hand. It searched around, then was joined by another as a mass of dark hair slugged out of the covers.
"Dad! Daijoubu!" The younger Asakura ran in, then seeing the sight, stumbled backward. "Come on dad! We have to get out of here!"
"Aa!" The two shot out of the room, heading for the stairs. As Hao ran down them, Mikihisa froze hearing the soft rattling once again. He trembled at first, his natural instinct to survive being shaken, but when he looked to the side to see his son.
He was just sitting there, leaned against the wall. His eyes held a look of sorrow as a tear slowly made it's way down his cheek, yet he didn't move. He was motionless, still as a corpse.
The boy's eyes suddenly looked up, then he lifted to his feet, his body still damaged from the bully's act..
As he continued to stare at his once happy child, Mikihisa felt his eyes go misty. "Yoh . . ."
Hao halted hearing his father's voice. "Nani? Dad! Get away from him!"
The masked-man didn't even hear his living son. He was lost in this moment of agony.
The ghostly boy took a soft step, then lifted his arms up to the man.
It took Mikihisa a moment to realize that he was slowly walking towards him. Once he did, he knew that his son was going to finish him off, just as he did with Lyserg, Ren and the bullies, so rather than run, he merely walked over to is son, and wrapped his arms around him, pulling him into a warm hug.
"Dad, it's not him! Get away from him!"
The words didn't reach him. There was a moment of silence, than he felt his body weakening. "Gomenasi, Yoh," and with that, he was overcome by a feeling of cold, than he slowly fell to the floor.
"It's just, I'm not used to being here alone and . . . well . . . I know I'm a teenager now and I'm supposed to be used to being alone, but . . . I've never really been left alone here without Amidamaru and, it hurts to walk, and . . ."
Bang! After a moment of disorientation, Mikihisa opened his eyes to find himself on the floor of the restaurant they had visited almost a week ago. The phone was still in hand, and turned on.
He slowly rose to his chair, than looked to the group who all looked as stunned as he did. "Uh, yeah Yoh. I'm fine. Just fell out of my chair."
"Fell out of your chair? How did you manage that?"
"I was ,uh, leaning back in it, I guess."
"Yoh, can I let you go?"
Mikihisa flipped the phone shut, than looked to the group. "What's going on?"
Ren stared at his hands as Horo held him. "Whoa, I died. Again."
Lyserg held his throat, still gasping for air. "What the heck happened!"
Hao looked around. "We're back to Saturday night."
The cell phone suddenly rung. "Nani?" Mikihisa lifted it, then flipped the lid. "Hai! Muchi muchi?"
"This is your chance to undo everything."
"I couldn't find a way to get rid of a grudge, so I we did the next best thing. Keiko, Anna, Tamao and I rewound time. This is your one chance to fix things, now get to it," and with that she hung up.
Mikihisa stared at the phone, then looked up. "You . . . all remember what happened, right?"
The group nodded.
Hao stood up. "We have to get home!"
The group shot out of the restaurant, praying they would return home in time. They couldn't allow it to happen again. Not again. They only had one chance.
The onsen was quiet; the floors clean, and the lights off. Hao had noticed that the door was unlocked as he rushed in. "Yoh! Daijoubu!" Silence. "Come on!" The group could hardly keep up with the panicked boy. He shot up the stairs, then froze seeing the familiar lines in the floor. "No . . ." His parents' door stood partially open, revealing a dark room.
Tamao's eyes became misty. "We're too late, aren't we?"
The group fell quiet. They had been so close, yet even time travel had saved the boy. Perhaps this was the way things were supposed to be. Maybe someone's death was inevitable.
Anna began to clench her beads, her hand shaking. "Yoh . . ."
Keiko slowly slid the door open, then entered the dark room. The closet was sealed, and the phone held the same streak of red as it had before. They were indeed too late. Much too late.
The women turned to her husband. "What do we do . . . now?"
Miki adjusted the mask quietly, trying to hide his emotions, then he looked to the unforgiving door. "We should . . . probably get him down from there." As he began to approach the door, Hao ran in front of him.
"Could I get? Please?" There was only a slow nod, then Hao slid the door open, and pushed his way into the attic. Making a small orb of fire, the shaman began to crawl along the floorboards, trembling as they creaked. It only took a matter of minutes before he could see the boy propped up against the wall. "Ototo . . ." He made his way over, then studied his brother.
Part of the sheet was lowered revealing the scarlet through his hair, and the dark sad eyes. Hao had felt himself becoming nauseated, when he noticed the sheets were stained with hand prints. Some were placed on simply, while others were smeared giving them a demonic appearance. Hao practically cried out recognizing the prints from that morning. He then noticed softer ones slowly appearing on the once white sheet. "Nani!" It took him a moment to realize that these prints were actually sinking though the material. "Did the curse start this soon?" He placed his hand on the newest print, then flinched when he realized he had placed his hand against another; one that was living. "Yoh!"
A tear of rose fell from the limp boy's eye as they partially closed.
"Oh my god. You . . . you woke up after they left you, and you couldn't get up or talk . . ." Nausea returned to the shaman, realizing that the grudge had been formed not from anger, but sorrow.
"Hao, what's going on!"
The shaman looked back hearing his father's voice, then returned to his brother. "Yoh, it's gonna be okay! That was Dad. Mom and everyone else are down there too, and we're gonna make you all better."
Yoh began to tremble as a soft smile formed. He could just barely make out his brother, but he knew it was him. They hadn't left him.
"That's right Yoh. It's me." Hao began to stroke his brother's cheek, when he noticed his brother's smile. "Huh? How can you smile like that?"
The limp shaman silently mouthed something, then closed his eyes.
"No! Yoh, please hold on! Just a little longer!"
"What's going on up there!"
"Dad, Yoh's not dead!"
The Asakura began to shake his brother. "Yoh! Wake up!"He felt the boy's pulse, then feeling it was weakening, he wrapped his arms around him, an lifted him up.
The group was shocked when Hao climbed out of the attic with the shaman.
"Yoh!" Keiko ran to him, but Hao handed him to Faust. "You have to help him! He's barely alive."
The doctor stared dumbstruck for a moment, then quickly regaining consciousness, he shot for the basement. The group followed, and as they did, they preyed that their friend would be alright. He had to get survive; he had to.
They stood on Funbari hill quietly as the flames consumed the once warm flesh. Faust had worked for hours trying to resuscitate the fallen boy, but nothing had worked. Ryu held Tamao and Lyserg close, happy times of the boy playing through their heads. Manta stood with Keiko and Mikihisa, practically hiding behind them. Horo wrapped an arm around Ren's waist, and the boy accepted the gesture warmly.
Behind the group, Hao watched the sight with misty eyes. "It wasn't fair. After all that happened,you still had to suffer." He took a long sigh, when he caught something in the cornor of his eye. He turned his head slightly and fell silent seeing the faded image of his brother walking away. "Yoh?"
The ghostly boy paused, then slowly looked back to his brother. There was a moment of silence, then he mouthed the same words he had before. A soft smile formed on his face, then he slowly turned away from his past and walked into peace.
As he did, Hao felt a new realization form. Though they hadn't saved Yoh's life or body, his soul was now free and able to rest knowing his friends and family loved him. They had tried to save him, and that was eternal. There would be no curse form this death and Hao smiled as he remembered his brother's final message.
Chuck: Ta daa! Much better, don't you think? Though it's sadder I found that this ending suited the story better. Yoh's death proved that not everything can be fixed by going back in time. I dedicate this final chapter to Yumeorb for helping to convince me that this ending was better suited. Well, TTFN!