Title: Love After Life
Note: Don't own Mai-Hime. I'll let Sunrise take the credit.
Rating: R for death.
Word count: 1697
Summary: Can the love between Shizuru and Natsuki survive death?
A/N: This fic is totally inspired by Friday the 13th. Did you know that 2+0+0+6+1+0+1+3 is13? Sounds creepy to me. This is my first attempt at writing something that is not pure fluff. Reviews are greatly appreciated since I wasn't sure about what I was doing. I wanted many different feelings to come out of this fic. Hopefully my story telling style isn't too confusing.
I'm in love …
When I woke up this morning, I could feel a tingling sensation on my cheeks. She was here, that I know.
She likes caressing my face. Sometimes she will hold me from behind as I lay on my side. Other times she will just stare at my body on the bed from a distance. I'm not afraid of her heated gaze because it always makes me feel warm and safe. I know that she will never hurt me.
For some reason she only likes being close to me at night. She is hardly around during the day. The only time she will attempt to get closer to me when the sun is out is when I order my salad with mayonnaise. Could it be that she likes eating mayonnaise?
I'm in love … with a presence.
Whenever I turned down my business associates' date offers, I would always tell them that I was already in love. Those morons never believed me.
"How can you be in love when you haven't even gone out with anyone?"
"Fujino-san, if you are really in love, then where is your knight in shining armor?"
"If whoever you are in love with indeed exists, then I'll back off. Give me a name so that I can track this person down."
My responses were always the same. I would smile and wish these men luck on meeting the right person. If they insisted on being relentless, I let my guards take care of the problem. I'm Fujino Shizuru, the president of the multinational conglomerate Fujino Corporation. My words were final. Who did these men think they were?
When I fell in love, I was twenty. I remember because I first felt her presence on my twentieth birthday. My father had passed me the president seat of Fujino Corporation just weeks before. At my birthday party, everyone was congratulating me on my incredibly bright future. I smiled and nodded out of courtesy. In truth, I didn't care. Success, fame, money, none of those things held any importance to me. Up till that day, the deepest part of me was untouchable. That part of me that was waiting for something, or someone, I'm not sure. … I thought I was just naturally cold-blooded and detached. That was, until I felt her.
Miraculously I managed to have a moment of peace alone on the balcony, stripped of all the annoying brownnosers who were eager to get to know me. I decided to lock the sliding doors behind me to retain my solitude. As I stared at the stars in the sky, envious of their simple and uncomplicated state of being, the chilling December wind blew my curls slightly out of place. Then … she was there. With me.
Goosebumps that previously spread along my arms due to the low temperature went away little by little. A familiar sense of warmth enveloped me. When my naughty tresses were carefully placed behind my ears, I could feel her love pouring into me. For the first time in my life, I let out an honest smile that came from the bottom of my heart.
It's funny how I always imagine that I'm in love with a woman when I have no proof whether she is in fact a she, let alone an actual person. Call it a woman's intuition. I just hope that one day I will be able to call out her name …
This is the story of a stubborn young girl who chose love over life. Do you know what it's like to love someone in your afterlife? I do …
I didn't need to open my eyes to figure out where I was. I could smell its stench.
The yellow beams shining in from the window were assaulting my rest. Morning came. For the past year, I was sleeping so much that days and nights started blurring into the same thing. No more work during the day and sleep during the night. Everyday was the same. So was every night.
I grudgingly opened my eyes.
Shizuru stared back at me with a mixture of gratitude and sorrow. I wanted to bring up my hand to caress her face, to feel the warmth emanating from underneath her silky smooth skin, but ...
One ... Two ... Three ...
Three seconds later, my hand slid across the hospital bed and managed to move an inch closer to her body. I hated how weak I had become.
The doctors told me that I needed a new heart. For what reason, I didn't really remember. I guess hearing about my impending death was enough to distract me from catching all their words. I still remembered that Shizuru's first reaction was to get me a black market heart. I kissed her and refused.
Shizuru would try her best to hide her sadness whenever she was around me. She made taking care of me sound like a piece of cake so that I wouldn't feel guilty. But I knew the sacrifices she made. Because of me, she had stopped going to her university courses. Because of me, she got into a fight with her family in Kyoto and subsequently moved into my hospital room. I could see the circles underneath her eyes getting darker by the day. My vulnerability angered me. There was nothing I could do as my consciousness drifted in and out at odd times of the day.
The next time I woke up, the taste of blood lingered in my mouth. The clock on the wall let me know that it was three in the morning. Something was in my room.
Deep down, I know why there was something in my room. With a calm voice, I asked, "May I help you?" Somehow I knew that Shizuru would no longer be able to hear my voice.
From the corner of my room, an old man's voice appeared. "Heaven has decided to open its doors to you, Kuga Natsuki. Any last words before we start our journey?"
"Yea, I do have something to say. I'm not going with you. Let me stay."
"I hope you realize that this is a one-time offer. If your spirit stays here, you lose your chance to enter into the reincarnation cycle. Your wandering spirit will be trapped in the human world for eternity."
"I have made my decision. Long ago, I made a promise to her. I will never abandon her, not now, not ever."
"Very well. Your decision to reject heaven's gates requires me to grant you a wish. Though I do not have the power to bring you back to life, I will try my best to satisfy your demand. Kuga Natsuki, what do you wish for?"
"Erase the memory of Shizuru and all those who know me. Knowing that silly girl, she will probably end her life as soon as she realizes that I'm gone. This is probably selfish of me, but I wish to see her happy and alive."
"Wish granted. I hope you will be happy with the choice you made. Farewell." I watched the shadow on the wall move across my room and out the door.
Shizuru, thank you for giving meaning to my life. I have no regrets. In the eighteen years of my life, we have laughed, we have cried, and most importantly, we have loved. Shizuru, you are and always will be, my one and only, in life ... and afterlife.
I glanced at the reason for my being one last time. Her sleeping figure rested comfortably on a bed adjacent to mine. "Good night, Shizuru. Happy birthday."
Whether the words were stuck in my throat or had come out as a coarse whisper I did not know. Suddenly a wave of drowsiness overwhelmed my senses. I realized that time had finally run out.
Don't be afraid when you wake up, Shizuru. I'll always be with you.
Taking in my last breath, I closed my eyes.
Being the president of Fujino Corporation has its pros and cons. With the increase of my wealth came the insane working hours. By the time I walked out of the office today, it was already eleven o'clock at night.
I decided to take a walk in a nearby park before taking a taxi home. Now that it is summer time, the weather is actually quite nice at night. I'm happy to see that the park is deserted at this hour. Being around people all day already tired me out. Right now, seclusion tastes like a cup of thirst quenching hot green tea.
"Hey, missy. You're looking good. Why don't you come closer so that I can take a better look at you?"
I turn around and find a muscular man about seven feet tall leering at me. Great, just what I need to spoil my mood. "Back off or I'm calling the cops."
He knocks away the cellphone in my hand and uses his humongous hands to grab onto my shoulders. The stink of beer from his breath nauseates me.
Warm ruby red liquid drips down the front of my shirt. The world is once again filled with a comforting silence.
I look down at the immobile body at my feet with his throat slit. Ho ho, someone is jealous ...
Something is calling me to walk towards the center of the park. Soon I come face to face with a huge tree that has to be at least two hundred years old. I trace the patterns on the bark with my index finger and put my forehead on the dark brown trunk.
You can come out. Don't be shy. I know you are around. That disgusting man didn't just drop dead by himself, you know.
Hmmm ... Much better. I love it when you hold me.
I want to remember this moment forever. You hugging me underneath this big tree in a warm summer night. May I call you 'Natsuki'?
Ara, did I just sense a rise in temperature from you? Kawaii!
I love you, Natsuki. Thank you for always being with me. Promise me you won't abandon me?
A/N 2: In an official Mai-Hime novel, Natsuki's name was translated into 'summer princess'. But since "ki" can also mean "tree", I chose to interpret her name as 'summer tree'.