-1Thanks to all of the reviews for this fic!
For those that noted that my writing style has 'worsened', there is a reason for that. "Hearts of the Valkyrie" was proof-read/co-written by an author that, at least when it comes to grammar and style, was a LOT better than me. While I hope to get as good to that someday, well, that day isn't today.
And why he isn't here doing it for this fic? Let's just say he quit being my proof-reader. We're still friends in a way, but it's clear that I have to go about this on my own. :-P
This also makes an update for "Hearts of the Valkyrie" much harder. Trying to emulate a style that I have yet to achieve myself in terms of quality is… well, hard to say the least. While I'm still learning and still getting better, since I know my own limitations, I'm forced to scale back some of my planning.
-Without further ado…
Niflheim (Hell) Hild's Chambers
Keiichi sat up and rolled away from Hild on the massive cushy bed till he fell off and hit the ground. "What, what, what?!" Keiichi let out exasperated as he backed up to a decretive wall that appeared to be painted to look like tortured souls. Whether it was really a painting or not was of no concern to Keiichi at the moment. What was a concern was the sudden shock to the system. One second, he was lying on the ground, feeling the warmth leave his body as he slipped into unconsciousness. The next minute, he's in an elaborate woman's chamber. And not just any woman's chamber, but the one he recently discovered to be the Daimakaicho. The Lord of Hell. And that same Lord of Hell that was wearing a rather skimpy and revealing clothing. Something he secretly dreamed the love of his life, Belldandy, wore. "What's going on here?"
"Don't you remember Keiichi?" Hild said in a semi-hurt tone as she began to crawl towards Keiichi. "You died. And now you're in Hell."
"Hell?" Keiichi quivered as he scanned the room. "So I'm really… dead?" Keiichi felt for a pulse on his neck. And then at the wrist. Sure enough, there was no pulse. "So I'm really am dead." Keiichi conceded to reality as he once again examined his new home. "And… this is Hell?" From the looks of it, besides the painting behind him, or the occasional gargoyle head that protruded from the rafters, it almost seemed like any, rich noble bedroom to him. The bed in particular had long red drapes that reached up to the upper railings, the bed was huge with what appeared to have black satin sheets, and even the pillows appeared to be big and fluffy. Not to mention heart shaped. The rest of the room was decorated with what appeared to be a massive dresser drawer, with a Victorian black and red patterns on it. Paintings were hung all over the walls of the room. And instead of paintings of torture or suffering, were paintings of, demons he assumed. But not demons like you see in the old Hollywood movies with horns and scaly skin. Instead, demons that looked almost human like Marller. And even more shocking to Keiichi, on the nightstand next to the bed, there was a picture of Hild and what appeared to be a young Urd. This alone made the whole scene even more surreal and bizarre for Keiichi.
"Yeah." Hild leaned forward towards Keiichi without leaving the boundaries of the bed. "Why? What were you expecting?"
"Um, well…" Keiichi scratched the back of his head. "I was thinking more along the lines of fire, brimstone, and demons with pitchforks."
Hild giggled a bit. "How silly. You apparently watch a little too much TV Mister Morisato. You think I would want to make Hell unattractive to those that might sign their souls away?" Hild rolled onto her back and stared up at Keiichi. "Not saying that this is a place where souls that deserve to be punished go Scot free. But for those willing to sacrifice a little something for me, I could make it worth your while." Hild winked at K1.
"I guess so." Keiichi tentatively chuckled. He was still scared given that he was in Hild's chambers. And the idea that he was now dead had yet to sink in. That's when he noticed something he had failed to notice earlier. "Um…" He glanced down at his body and now realized why it was so cold. "AH!" Keiichi covered his privates. "What happened to my clothes?"
"You're dead Keiichi." Hild again rolled over to her stomach and raised her head with her arms. "Remember the old saying of 'you can't take it with you' when it concerns material goods?"
Keiichi gulped and nodded.
"Besides, I think it makes you look cuter being, all natural and all." Hild grinned as she crawled closer to Keiichi.
Keiichi in turned, made a strategic scoot to the side, all the while holding his privates in the hope of maintaining onto some modesty. "Wait wait. But, but, what about the System Force? Wouldn't something bad happen if you um…"
"Oh that silly thing?" Hild said as she stopped chasing after Keiichi and stood up. "Keiichi, remember when Yggdrasil went down? What happened to the System Force then?"
"…it went down as well." Keiichi conceded. Realization suddenly struck him by what she just said. "Wait, you knew about it? But when it…"
"Of course I knew about it. I am the Lord of Hell after all. Yes, it was prime time for us to play around. A time which Marller wasted but that's another issue entirely. And that's not all." Hild said as she crossed her arms. "You see, the reason why the System Force is in place is, to keep the agreement Heaven has to the mortal that it granted it's wish to. And yes, it's a force greater than even the gods, goddesses, and my own demons can get around."
"If that's the case, than um, why even try?" Keiichi reluctantly asked. While he was curious about what Hild's answer was, he also was not sure he should be questioning the Daimakaicho in her territory either.
"To cause trouble of course." Hild answered in a deceptively short and easy to understand answer. "After all, the world would be boring if I simply allowed that wish not to go unchallenged. However…"
"However?" Keiichi repeated, again, afraid of the answer she was about to give.
"I myself can take on the System Force without much of a problem. Of course that would require causing a much greater predicament that neither I nor the Lord would want, hence why I myself do not go there. Besides, it's more fun looking for loopholes. And there are loopholes with the System Force." Hild explained with a dark grin.
"Loopholes?" Keiichi repeated. "There are loopholes with the System Force?"
"Yes Keiichi, loopholes." Hild replied grinning. "While my underling Marller was obviously not smart enough to find or exploit them, those loopholes are there. If for example, something major tried to tear you and Belldandy apart, the counter reaction to prevent that, might actually cause that very scenario to happen. Like for example, say if a girl were to kidnap you and chain you to a bed. The end result could be that said girl would be killed, accidentally or otherwise, and well, maybe you'd decide that the wish was not worth it."
Keiichi grimaced at the thought that this could happen due to the System Force. As far as he knew, the System Force only prevented the other party from taking him away from Belldandy, not out right kill them to prevent it. In Keiichi's mind, this had to be a lie. The System Force could not go that far could it? Still, he wanted to know more about this. And certainly, without calling Hild a flat out liar. "And um, how does this stop the System Force?"
"The System Force can and will be suspended under extreme circumstances." Hild gave a dark malicious smile. "One, if the mortal, that's you Keiichi, were to no longer want the wish to be honored. After all, The Lord doesn't want the mortal to suffer if he or she changed their mind. Like again, if Belldandy's rival were to be offed. If you felt it was due to that wish, you have every right to nullify it."
"But I didn't want the wish to end." Keiichi confessed in a way. While he, and he was certain Belldandy as well, knew that all along, it was still embarrassing to admit that to anyone. Even to each other. Much less, to the Daimakaicho. "I mean, in the example you gave um, yeah I would have. But that didn't happen so…"
"Let me finish." Hild took a few steps closer to Keiichi, which resulted in said man backing up again. "The other way would be if the Lord himself nullified the wish altogether. Now, being the all loving and caring Lord that he is, it'll take something truly extraordinary to break a contract. He almost did it when the Lord of Terror was in you, and then he finally did it when this incident occurred."
"…" Keiichi remained silent after Hild's explanation. As much as it pained him to admit it, but of what could have happened, a silly wish between him wanting Belldandy to be by his side forever should not take precedent over the lives of millions, maybe billions, of others. Which reminded him of her. "Belldandy…" He accidentally blurted out.
"Hmm." Hild glanced at the door as a thought popped into her mind. "For a goddess that is so full of life and love, and seemingly the symbol of perfection, she seemed to be quite… possessive."
Keiichi raised an eyebrow at that statement. "What do you mean?"
'He must be blind to not notice.' Hild mentally noted of the boy. "Oh, just musing about something. Though I wonder, if it is possible to beef up my ranks a bit with a new edition."
"New edition?" Keiichi repeated still confused about what Hild was thinking. "I'm still not following."
'Blind as a bat.' Hild thought as she stared back at him. She then went on to explain what exactly was on her mind. "Well it's clear that Belldandy is one of The Lord's prized goddesses. That fact that she, along with her sisters, were able to overcome not only threats from my forces, but from the Lord of Terror himself, clearly showed that she would be an asset I'd like to have."
Keiichi was quickly disturbed by this plan. "Belldandy?"
"Don't you want to see her again Keiichi?" Hild darkly teased. "This is one way that could happen."
Keiichi was about to say yes, but quickly stopped himself from doing so. While it was true he wanted to see her again, the idea that she would have to join Hild for that to happen did not sit well with him. "But, that's not something she would do. She would never agree to it! Belldandy… she would never betray her father. And besides, doesn't that, hurt the balance?"
"Oh?" Hild began to stroll towards the door. "Who said I cared about keeping everything perfectly 'balanced'? And if it was by her own volition, what would The Lord do?" Hild waved back as she ordered one of the demon guards to get Keiichi some clothes. She then turned back to Keiichi and smiled. "Enjoy the rest of your stay here Keiichi. You're not just a guest. But a new resident."
"A new resident." Keiichi repeated, still not believing any of this. After all, just a few days ago, well, maybe a week ago before the whole Welsper incident, he thought he was in Heaven.
Fate it seemed, was a cruel mistress.
That was the only sensation that Chihiro was feeling right now. She looked up into the sky and saw what a beautiful day today could have been. The sun was shinning, and there was not a single cloud in the sky. But this was not a day she will ever enjoy. It seemed as if the Heavens have betrayed the emotions she, and everyone around her were feeling.
Just beyond the fence, a man and a woman in standard police uniform were questioning the drivers of the two vehicles. The fence that ringed the perimeter of the area had been intertwined by strips of wood in order to block the view from onlookers. In turn, made the area a bit more 'private'. Though now, one of those strips of wood contained a sinister hole in it. It's edges roughed with splinters and woodchips. A few steps in front of her, in the grounds of her pride and joy, her one and only employee lay motionless on the loose dirt ground. The normally brown colored dirt around him turning into a dark shade of crimson. That man was surrounded by paramedics. They were men in uniform, grey dress shirts, slightly darker grey pants, and a white helmet with Nekomi Medical on it. They all stood there examining him. However, none of them bothered to move him onto the stretcher that they had brought out from the ambulance. For they believed that was now unnecessary.
Because Keiichi Morisato was no longer in this world.
One of the paramedics apologized to a woman that can only be said to be a symbol of beauty and perfection. Chihiro admitted to being a little jealous of this woman. But yet, being in her presence ever since Keiichi introduced her to Belldandy, she found herself unable to hate her even once. She was just, such a wonderful person that no one would ever want to hate her. Much less see her harmed in anyway, or her faced streaked with tears. That very image, staring back in front of her.
Chihiro was struggling not to let any of her own tears fall. For she knew that once they started, they would not stop. Everything she remembered about Keiichi now, it always involved Belldandy in one way or the other. They just seemed so, perfect together. Yeah, Keiichi had his flaws. Like the fact that he was a little short for most girls liking. And he was not exactly the most sociable person out there. Still, none of that mattered to Belldandy. She was unsure how they met, but it was clear that the love they shared, was truly genuine. It was a couple that, seemed to be able to weather any storm. A couple that gave off the feeling that nothing would ever go wrong between them. That nothing in this world would separate them. Of course it was clear that, they had yet to admit what was blatantly obvious to everyone else. After that, Chihiro thought, nothing would have stood in their way of finally affirming their love for each other.
And with Keiichi Morisato gone, they will never be able to get that chance.
Chihiro glanced back at 'Wirlwind'. The bike shop she opened close to Nekomi Tech. It all suddenly seemed meaningless now. She remembered having a dream of wanting to build any bike she wanted, and how this lead to her opening a store at this location. She, after all, started the Motor Club at Nekomi Tech in the hopes that others shared the same dream. And after seeing the enthusiasm of people like Keiichi towards bike building join her club, once she finally graduated from Nekomi Tech, she knew that she wanted to continue helping others that were following a similar dream. It was a logical step for her to hire someone who loved bikes as much as she did. She admitted, that it was a joy watching him come to work, and helping out around the shop. Of course it did not hurt that Belldandy was there as his assistant. It was like there was no place that those two would not go. Even if it meant working at her little shop.
Now, Chihiro had no idea what to do or where to go from here. She was not even sure if she should keep the Wirlwind open.
"Sempei!" A girl wearing glasses, brown hair, and often confused as a grade school student, ran up next to her. "Chihiro, what happened?"
Chihiro continued to stand motionless. Unaware of the girl standing beside her.
"Chihiro!" Sora yelled a little louder. Hoping to get her senior's attention.
Chihiro felt herself being startled back to reality. A reality she wished did not exist. She then glanced at the source. "Sora?" Chihiro quietly replied.
"What… what happened? Why is an ambulance here? Why are there paramedics and… and… why is Belldandy crying?!" Sora cried out.
Chihiro opened and closed her mouth. Almost unable to respond to the newly minted director of the Motor Club. The successor to the one now lying on the ground in front of her. "It's… it's Keiichi." Chihiro stammered out as she tried to hold back the tears, and failing. "He… there… there was an accident."
"No." Sora said, shocked at Chihiro's answer. "But, but, he's going to be okay right? I mean the paramedics are there right?" She then looked at the men in uniform who seemed to be spending more time consoling Belldandy than helping the man on the ground. A man she now believed to be that of her Sempai. "But why, why aren't they helping him?! If he is hurt, shouldn't they be going to a hospital by now?"
"They…" Chihiro could no longer hold them back. The tears were now pouring freely down her cheeks now. Each word she spoke was a struggle to get out between the sobs. "They're… they, they're waiting for the coroner!" Chihiro began wailing.
Sora took a few steps back after hearing the last word. She must have been hearing things. Chihiro never said that right? Because if she did… "No. I, I must've heard wrong. I mean, Sempai, Keiichi isn't…"
Chihiro broke down. Her sobs were now uncontrollable.
That alone told Sora the whole truth. Sora's knees suddenly felt weak. It was surreal. A man full of life, a man that had his whole future to look forward to with one of the world's most beautiful woman was… she refused to think it. She continued to deny it. Even as her heart knew better. "No, he, he can't be… gone. He, he had so much life left to do. I, I need him to help me run the club. He, he, he…" Sora's legs finally collapsed as a single tear fell from her eye.
"Keiichi! Belldandy!" A dark skinned woman came rushing past the two girls. She was sprinting as fast as she can. Each step was a desperate act in trying to reach whatever destination she was heading just a bit faster. But as she came across the scene in front of her…
It was obviously too late to do anything.
Her steps slowed as she came across the image in front of her. An image she could have never imagined ever happening. "Bell."
Right behind her, a younger and shorter girl began pushing her way through the crowd of onlookers that had gathered. She looked at her two older sisters. One, the dark skinned one had stopped in her tracks. As she leaned to the side to see what was in front of her, that was when the girl saw the other sister sitting. Her idol. The one she aspired to…
"This… this can't be what Father wanted!" Skuld angrily cried out as tears formed in her eyes. The undeniable truth staring in front of her.
Urd could barely believe what she was seeing. While there was many times when either his life, or even their own existence was placed into jeopardy by one incident or another (usually involved the demons. Mainly Marller), they were still able to get out of those crisis unharmed. Part of it might be because of the System Force. The other part? Both sheer luck and determination by not only Keiichi, but Belldandy to get out of any crisis, no matter how dire they appeared to be. And each of them, they were able to go back to the happy normal life they had since that fateful day when Keiichi wished for Bell to be by his side.
Urd was shaking. Because this time, there was simply no way that normal life could ever return.
Belldandy saw her two sisters behind her through the tears that had yet to fall. "Urd, Skuld! Keiichi, he's… he's…"
"I tried to get here as fast as I can!" Urd said quickly as if she needed to explain her absence to Belldandy. "But not only did we not know where he was, we…"
"We couldn't move!" Skuld stomped her foot in frustration. "Why?! How could Father do this to us!"
Urd glanced at Belldandy expecting her to calm Skuld down. Or at least explain to Skuld that Father had his reasons. What she heard Belldandy say next was anything but what she had expected.
"I don't know." Belldandy quietly said as she continued to stroke Keiichi's hair. His eyes closed as if he was in a slumber. "I don't know why Father would do this! Father, this, this is too much!"
Urd could only lower her head in both understanding and agreement. Though she still could not believe that Belldandy would be saying this about her Father. Who, up until this point, had almost pure reverence towards him. Even when she stood against him during the Lord of Terror incident, she never questioned The Lord's intentions either. After all, then, as it was now, the whole world was at stake. Though, the aftermath of this incident was vastly different than it was then. Still, if anyone would be questioning Father's reasoning, it would be herself. Not Belldandy.
Skuld's lower jaw began to quiver. "Maybe, this… this isn't over. There has to be a way to bring, Keiichi back," she said through the sniffles.
As much as it pained her to do this, Urd was unable to let Skuld's statement stand. She lightly shook her head before she spoke, "No Skuld. Death is… more or less permanent. Even if you somehow turned Keiichi's body into one of those half-machine beings like you see in those Sci-Fi movies, it would still not be the same." Urd placed a comforting hand on Skuld shoulder. "His soul is no longer in this realm."
"I know! But… but…" Skuld continued to sniffle. "This, this, this can't be the end!"
Urd dropped her shoulders. She honestly did not know what else to do. The only thing she could think of would be, to go back 'home'. Not to the temple that they had called home since she came down to Midgard causing problems for Belldandy and K1, but to the place that they came from. But that prospect did not sit well with her. Certainly not this sudden.
And what would happen when Belldandy sees Father? The very thought scared her.
"Um…" A small, almost mousy voice spoke next to her.
Urd and Skuld both turned to the girl next to her. Who was not really a girl given how successful she had been. And certainly a grad of Nokimi Tech does not hurt either.
"Who… is going to tell… Keiichi's family?" Chihiro softly said. Her voice barely audible from the commotion that was happening around her. "What about… Megumi?"
Urd's mouth dropped open. She had almost forgotten about the people closest to Keiichi. Closest besides Belldandy. Urd simply frowned as her lower lip quivered. She turned to Belldandy, but it was clear that she could not be the one to tell her. Not in that state at least. She then glanced at Skuld who, herself was bawling over his death. No matter how hard she tried, and despite her real age being something that would make even the oldest mortal seem young, Skuld was still a child at heart.
The other possibility was herself. But even she was not sure she could be the one to break it to his little sister. She felt like a coward. His family will have to know eventually, but she could not bring herself up to volunteer. The thought that she would be spreading the grief gnawed at her insides.
"If… if none of you can do it now then I… I…" Chihiro gave one last sniffle before continuing. "I… can do it."
"You think you can do it… Sempai?" Sora quietly said next to her. Her face stained with tears. She herself was struggling to comprehend what happened. She was not sure how the former club leader and shop owner was taking it. Much worst she imagined.
"I have to. She has to know before…" Chihiro watched as a News van was coming around the street corner. The crowd of onlookers began to grow with each passing second. As much as she hated it, and as much as it tore herself on the inside, she could not let his younger sister, of all people, from finding out from some secondary source. She deserved better than this.
Lion's Saber Café
It was the morning rush. The crowd, mostly made of students from nearby Nekomi Tech, were all seated as they waited for their breakfast orders to be filled. The smell of Miso soup and grilled salmon filled the air. While this was a new 'Westernized' café with its sit down booths, shiny counter tops, and metal rimmed tables reminiscent of old 50s diners in America, they also served more traditional Japanese affairs.
Of course the woman sitting at one of the booths next to the window had different plans as she was sucking down a strawberry milkshake. She was wearing a blue leather biker's jacket with a black sweater under it. The short haired woman, hair that reached down to just above her neckline, peered outside the clear glass window and onto the bustling street. One thing in particular that she envied was all of the couples that passed by her. Her bright brown eyes narrowed as she saw another couple holding hands and whispering words of endearment to each other's ear. Despite the fact that she was one of the most desired woman on campus, she also had a difficult time holding a relationship with anyone.
And the reason was the fact that she was the most desired woman on campus. A double edged sword being 'The Queen' of bike racing. It was an honor she honestly could do without after being branded it by the previous queen. A woman she did not even get the name of. Only knew her by her title, which now belonged to her. After all, what good does it do being gawked at by guys, when the 'lucky' one, the one brave enough to ask her out, gets death threats by the 'unlucky' ones? The hopeless dreamers too afraid to ask, or have no hope of being with one like herself, and now spend their time making sure no one else would have her. Making sure others wallowed in their grief of loneness.
This on top of the fact that her older brother, who had even less girlfriends than she had boyfriends, finally found the perfect woman. To an extent, it was something she herself wanted. To be with a guy as perfect to herself, as Belldandy was to her brother.
'The world can be so cruel.' Megumi thought bitterly as her milkshake was now halfway empty.
Then, she heard a familiar song. It was the song that made up the ring tone of her cell phone. Even with the constant chatter, the sound of food being served, eaten, waiters giving orders, and so forth, it was not hard to figure out where the ringing was coming from. This startled her back to reality. 'Who would be calling me at this hour?' She wondered as she reached into her jacket's pocket and pulled out the pink cell phone and flipped it open. The display read Wirlwind. She raised an eyebrow at the source of the call. She then placed the phone to her ear began to speak. "Keiichi? I didn't know you worked this early."
"It's… not Keiichi." A quiet, reserved voice spoke.
"Oh, sorry Chihiro." Megumi corrected as she subconsciously smiled at her mistake. While it certainly was not the tone she was used to from the former club leader, especially since she almost missed it given the ambient sounds behind her nearly drowned her out, she could still easily make out who it was. "I didn't expect you to call me this early. When I saw Wirlwind, I thought it would be Keiichi. So… what's up? He didn't call in sick did he?"
"…" The woman on the other side did not respond immediately to Megumi's question.
Which gave Megumi some pause. Maybe it was a bad connection and she did not hear her question. Though if it was a bad connection, it was one sided given that she could hear some sort of commotion happening in the background. "Hello?"
"Megumi… about Keiichi…" Chihiro said between pauses.
Megumi's smile faded instantly. Something in her voice disturbed her greatly. "What about Keiichi?"
"He's…" Chihiro again paused. Megumi could hear was Chihiro taking a deep breath before she continued. "He's…"
"He's what?" Megumi said, a sinking feeling was coming over her as she bit her lip. The longer this dragged out, the worse her premonition.
"He's… he's… HE PASSED AWAY!" Chihiro screamed out the last part. Apparently afraid that if she did not say it quickly, she would not have been able to say it all.
"What?!" Megumi blinked as the words had not sunk in yet. "Chihiro, I don't think I heard you right."
"He's… he's dead Megumi." Chihiro said, her voice quivering as she spoke those words.
"Stop… stop joking around. Nothing bad can happen to my big brother!" Megumi said as her lower lip began to quiver. She then made a tentative scowl of anger at the joke that was being played on her. "I mean, this is serious. Who put you up to this? Tamiya and Otaki? I knew they can sink low but…"
Only the sound of uncontrollable sobbing can be heard on the side.
Megumi's hand began to shake. 'It's all a joke. Just a sick joke. It has to be.' However, the crying she was hearing sounded genuine. Unless Chihiro was a great actress, in which case she should deserve a reward for this. "It's a joke, isn't it?"
"I… I saw it." Chihiro replied as she tried to contain her sobs. "I'm sorry Megumi!"
'I'm… not hearing this. Yeah, this… this…' However, Megumi could not keep denying this. If it was a joke, someone will be on the other side of her wraith. But her wish that this was just that was slowly fading. "Where… is he?"
More crying can be heard on the other side.
"Where is he?!" Megumi screamed at her cell phone. Causing the rest of the patrons of the café to quiet down and stare at the source of the outburst.
Coroner's Waiting Room
Megumi had yet to contact her parents, their parents, about what just happened in the oft chance that this truly was a joke taken too far. Yet as she sat on her bike in front of the relatively non-descript brick building, any hope that this was all for some sick amusement began to fade. It was on a street few people wander down. A quiet eeriness surrounded the place. Especially for a city as crowded and bustling as Nekomi was. Granted, get far enough away from the main corridor, it was possible to come to someplace that was secluded and quiet. Like the temple that Keiichi Morisato, Belldandy and her sisters called home.
But this was a different kind of quiet.
As she pushed the metallic handle, opening the metal and glass door, she peered into what looked like a small waiting room of sorts. The air was cold and stale. In front of her was a counter with a middle aged man sitting beside it. He had black coarse hair, pale skin, wore a heavy lab coat with a white button down shirt under it, and thick rimmed glasses peered up at her. As she turned her head to the left wall, she noted that there were a line of seats built into it. And on those seats, were Chihiro, Sora, and Belldandy. Each one had their heads dropped down and their hands on their lap. Chihiro dressed in a red biker jacket, currently zipped up, and blue jeans. Sora wore a suit jacket, a white dress shirt, and a plaid dress. A style that most people often confuse as a grade school uniform. And Belldandy, wearing a unique blue and gold dress that opened up in the center. Underneath was a thin flowingly white cloth dress that appeared to seemingly be more akin to a Greek toga than a regular dress. It too, like the blue covering most of it, was open in the front in order to let show off Bell's legs a bit more. It was certainly a unique dress in more ways than one, one that Megumi has not seen her wear much beyond the Temple's group. All three women's faces were clearly stained by dry tears.
Which further put a nail into the idea that this was an early April Fool's joke being played on her. After all, Belldandy would never be a part of something like this.
"Miss Megumi Morisato I presume?" The man at the counter said as he got up and walked towards her.
Megumi gaze shifted from the woman sitting near the wall, to the man talking to her. It took a few seconds before she responded. "That… that is I. Yes."
The man's gaze dropped a bit. While he had done this before many times, breaking the news of ones death to a family member and then led them to the body, it did not make this any easier. "I'm the Medical Examiner, Ito Aoshi. I'm, I'm truly sorry for what had happened to Keiichi Morisato."
Megumi took in each word like a stab to the heart. It was all so sudden. Too sudden. Certainly not this early in the morning. Her mind still denied it. And yet, here she was. "What… did happen?" Megumi said with trepidation. She forced herself not to cry until she saw him. Saw his… body.
Ito peered to the side and saw the woman he was about to refer to. Her head was still downcast, emotionally drained from the morning's events. This also meant it was up to him to give her, the sister of the victim, the details. "According to the, owner of the shop near where this happened… there was an, accident."
"Accidents alone don't… kill someone." Megumi carefully crafted. Her body shaking slightly. Though she knew this was not always true, her mind still refused to accept what was quickly becoming the truth.
Ito sighed quietly. Nothing he was about to be reveal was any secret since the police concluded long ago that this was an accident. Still, even though he did not know the victim personally, it still pained him to relay this. He also knew, if it was not for him, it would be from the three people that were sitting in the waiting room. And he was sure it was a lot worse for them. "According to the police reports, a truck carrying metal pipes made a sudden stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian. One of the pipes came loose and fell to the road surface, where it was caught by the vehicle behind it. And it… the pipe struck Mister Morisato." Ito closed his eyes for a second before responding. "I… haven't done the autopsy yet. But the report seemed to concur with what happened."
Megumi gritted her teeth. It sounded all too detailed. All too, real. A single tear dropped from her eye as she forced herself to continue questioning. "Can I… can I see him?"
Ito lightly nodded. There was no reason why she could not. "Right this way." He gestured towards the non-descript blue painted metal door.
Megumi took a few steps towards the door when she noted the women sitting near the wall remained in their stationary position. "What about them?"
"They…" Ito said as he stared back to the women Megumi were referring to. "They, already seen the body. His girlfriend was the most distraught when they brought him in. It took a while for the others to get her calmed down." Ito took a deep breath. He was actually surprised that the other two could get her to calm down given what had happened. He could not blame her though, after all, he could see the love she had for the victim. Much like the love he shared with his own wife. To have that love taken away was, something even he could not imagine. "And they believe, that it would be better if you saw him alone."
Megumi stared back at the three women. None of them made eye contact except for Chihiro. For a split second, Chihiro peered back at her, before quickly turning her head away. Shutting her eyes as a few more tears threatened to fall. Megumi nodded then peered back at the doorway in front of her and knew she had to see him. She made her first few steps towards the door.
The main wall was covered with small metal doors. Each one big enough to fit one man or woman, if they were laying flat and rolled inside head first. To the side of the room were a number of gurneys, currently empty. Next to it was a plastic board of sorts, one with a light behind it so that when they pin x-rays on it, the pathologist could see what happened to the body before they cut it open. Under it was a tray full of medical tools. Scalpel, saw, scissors, stuff Megumi had seen only in serial medical or crime dramas.
Jutting from the metal counter that lined one of the walls, were two long stainless steel trays in front of a sink, and a weight station similar to the ones she'd seen at super markets. They were remarkably clean considering what usually goes on in this room.
In the still chilly air, the only sound that emitted was from the whirling air conditioning fan above them, and the sound of Ito's shoes hitting the tiled floor as he approached one of the small metallic doors that lined the main wall.
Megumi followed suit, matching her steps with his. When he stopped in front of one of uniformly and indistinguishable metal doors, Megumi stopped as well. Ito grabbed the door's handle, but then glanced back at her as if waiting for permission.
Megumi took a deep breath, and lightly nodded. Ito rotated the handle, causing a light click sound, and swung the door open. He grabbed the metal tray and pulled it out.
On top of the metal tray, lay a long black plastic body bag. One that was obviously currently occupied by something, or someone. Megumi let out the breath she held, before taking another one in and holding it.
Ito grabbed the zipper slider. The zipper itself ran the length of the black body bag. Before he made his move, he once again peered back at Megumi.
Megumi, seeing as she knew this anticipation had to end, gave her final nod.
Ito shut his eyes for a second, as he knew, in part what was going to happen. He slowly began to unzip the body bag, though just enough to expose the head. As the teeth began to separate, a face appeared through black plastic.
Megumi was not sure of the first emotions that she felt when she saw him. Relief? No, it was not relief. Sadness? Pain? Denial? She was sure it was the last since, when she saw him, the one coherent thought was, he looked like he was sleeping. Something he needed given the hectic life he must have been through.
However, she was not sure she completely felt that last one either given that a part of her mind, a part of her soul knew the truth in front of her.
"Hey big brother." Megumi reached out for him and caressed his face. "You can wake up now. Hahaha. It was a really good prank you played."
Ito stepped back as the only thing he could do, was watch this play out.
Cold was the first sensation Megumi felt when she touched his face. "Come on Keiichi wake up." Tears fell and landed on Keiichi's face. "Come on. Don't you ever listen to your younger sister? Keiichi?" Her lower lip quivered. Her tears fell freely now. She dropped down and tightly hugged him. "Keiichi? If you don't wake up, what am I going to tell mom and dad? Keiichi? Keiichiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!"
Ito closed his eyes. He's seen it many times. But it never gets easier.
Coroner's Waiting Room
Belldandy bit her lower lip as she heard Megumi's wailing. To the side, she saw both Chihiro and Sora cringe as they heard Megumi. She herself could not help but follow suit as Megumi was not the only one suffering. The amount of tears she shed was not enough to wash away the pain she felt, the same pain Keiichi's sister was feeling now. She also knew this was a pain that will never go away. No one can replace her Keiichi. And she certainly will not try.
"I will not let this stand." Belldandy said as her eyes narrowed.
"And if you ever needed to grab a bite to eat, you can always head to Hell's Kitchen!" Marller proudly proclaimed as she pointed towards the black walled building in front of her.
"We can still eat?" Keiichi said, now sporting a single piece black and yellow leotard. A style he was not exactly fond of. But then again, he was dead, and in Hell. It was not exactly his place to complain about it.
"Just because we're demons, doesn't mean we can't enjoy the finer points of living." Marller grinned. "Well, in your case, um, the afterlife. And well, that should finish the tour of the wonderful place I call home!" Back home… Hell, something that was not possible before Hild acquired the Demon CD. Marller was not sure how she reacquired the CD that was, taken by the goddesses, but she had it, right in her hand. Ignoring the fact that it was eaten by one of Urd's monster and presumed lost forever. With the Demon CD firmly in her hand, Marller could return to Hell without the fear of the goddesses using the God CD against her. Since without both, the power to seal up Marller for the next 500 years could not go into effect.
"Hmm." Keiichi sounded. It was clear Hell, was not like any Hell he came to expect. Then again, in many ways, it was everything he expected it to be. Since it also meant he was separated from her. This brought up his curiosity a bit. "Did you know?"
"Eh?" The blond haired demon stared blankly at Keiichi for a moment. Taken by surprise at the question. "What do you mean?"
"Did you know Hild planned to, have me sent to Hell?" Keiichi quietly said. He frowned and looked away from Marller.
"Eh, um…" Marller shifted her eyes at the unusual question. Before answering it with complete honesty. "No." She lowered her head. Though she was not sure why at the moment since, this was all beneficial to their side and all… "It was, all the Daimakaicho's doing. I had no part in this!" Marller waved frantically at him in embarrassment. Again, unsure the reason why she felt that way.
"Was this something you approve of anyway?" Keiichi asked, seemingly unafraid that the one he was questioning was a demon.
"I um…" Marller began. The more she thought about it, the more unsure she became. "I… don't know to be honest. It wasn't like the Daimakaicho consulted me on this or anything. Of course, she's the Daimakaicho! What she says, goes!" She again waved frantically in front of him. Again, embarrassed, and a little afraid this time since, if Hild found out what she said, she was not sure she would like the consequences.
"Hmph." Keiichi snorted, before sighing. For some reason, Marller was, different than Hild. True, she was a demon. And yes, she tried many times to cause trouble with him and Belldandy. And Urd and Skuld he later added. Still, even in those instances, she was nothing like Hild. "So, you didn't approve this?"
"Um, I didn't say that…" Marller shifted her eyes from side to side, making sure no one else was listening. "But, my job was to, increase market share for the demons. I never imagined this could have happened."
"I see." Keiichi said as he dropped his head a bit.
For a moment, neither he, nor Marller spoke. Marller shifted her eyes from side to side as she was unsure how to break this silence that was becoming quite uncomfortable.
Finally, she settled on changing the subject. "Say! We should head back to the residences. Maybe I can show you my, um, new mirror Hild gave me!" Besides the new markings on her face, indicating her recent promotion in Hild's eyes, something she was not sure she deserved given how little she actually did in this recent incident, Hild also gave her a new shiny mirror. How this would placate the recently deceased man was a mystery even to her. But it was the only thing she could think of at the moment.
"Sure. Why not?" Keiichi said, though not exactly enthusiastic about it.
"Alright!" Marller said as she began to march up the street in a semi-cheery voice. "It's just down this block and…"
"Say…" Keiichi said, interrupting the blond demon. "You and Urd were friends, a long time ago right?"
"Uh…" Marller face contorted by the question. "Uh… well…"
"Do you mind… telling me about it?" Keiichi asked. "It, isn't like I don't have time on my hands."
Marller mentally grumbled. Those were memories she did not wish to delve into much. They were not necessarily unpleasant memories. Just that, now she and Urd were on opposite sides now. Something she still felt quite bitter about. But as she looked at Keiichi who seemed, eager to find out about their past, her expression soften a bit. Hild gave her a job to 'entertain' the new resident while she had other business to attend to. And even all the times she was opposed to their little 'family', she did find herself sympathizing with the human. "Sure. First, let's get back to my place and then we can talk!"
Morisato Residence - Main Room
"…I talked to my mother." Megumi said to the somber crowd that gathered back at the temple. The crowd, made up of Sora, Chihiro, and Belldandy. "She plans to be on the next plane here tomorrow." She paused for a moment to recollect her thoughts, before she continued. "I'm not sure about my father… I mean, Keima. Though I see no reason why he would not show up. For this at least."
"And the school is planning a memorial service for Keiichi." Sora added. Her hands together at the base of her dress. "They won't go forward unless Mister and Misses Morisato gives the okay of course."
"I… see no reason why they wouldn't." Megumi added. "Keiichi touched, a lot of people. It would be unfair if they simply kept it, private."
"Even Sayoko said she wanted to pay for funeral services." Chihiro said, seated at the small table. "It seems even she was affected by his sudden passing. And she, didn't want your family to worry about paying for funeral arrangements."
Megumi sighed. It was only a few hours since his passing. And already, people were coming out of the woodworks to help her family through this tragedy. As well as honor a man that, even with his flaws and his seemingly 'plainness', touched more lives than she could have imagined. It was not something people thought about, until they were gone Megumi surmised. It was certainly something she wished she did not think about for that very reason. Though speaking of people that he touched, Megumi noted who was not in the room at the moment. "Um… Belldandy?"
Belldandy sat quietly throughout the proceedings. Besides serving tea to everyone, she was seemingly lost in her own thoughts. Megumi's question brought her back to reality. "Huh? Megumi?"
"Where are Skuld and Urd?" Megumi asked as she shifted her head from side to side. The quiet and serene atmosphere of the temple was not the same as it had been the last time she was there.
"Oh… they…" Belldandy cast her eyes down. "They are in… Keiichi's room. Discussing something."
"Oh." Megumi said, her eyes cast down as well. "I'll, leave them alone then." She did not want to venture into his room. Not now. It was too soon for her to be, there. Filled with his possession and memories.
Urd picked up a picture frame that contained a picture of the whole group, Keiichi, Belldandy, Skuld, and even Peorth, standing and posing happily at the camera. Tears fell to the glass surface. "Why? Why does it have to be like this?"
"Even if the paramedics made it in time…" Skuld huffed. "The three nearest hospitals were full and were turning people away even during emergencies. The deck was stacked against him."
Urd frowned. More tears fell. "It still didn't have to be like this."
"Maybe you should have done something about that, HALF-demon!" Skuld spat at Urd.
Urd's fist reflexively contracted, cracking and bending the picture frame in her hand. "What did you say?"
"It was that demon's fault." Skuld narrowed her eyes. "That monster killed Keiichi! And that monster's blood is in you."
Urd threw the damaged frame to the side and glared at Skuld. "I am not my mother!"
"I'm not so sure." Skuld shot back. Her hands made a tight fist.
Urd's right hand began to sparkle as lightning danced around it. "You've gone too far Skuld. Prepare to…"
At that moment, a loud knocking sound boomed throughout the temple.
This brought both Skuld and Urd out of their tussle. At least long enough as they try to figure out what exactly was going on.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Three loud knocking sounds permeated the air. Megumi, Chihiro, and Sora looked all over the room. Megumi than settled on the source, the front door that was currently shut. Each knock caused the door to vibrate. Any harder, and the poor door would break and fall to the ground.
It was clear someone wanted in. The only thing Megumi hoped was that it was not some strong horrible men that would take advantage of the now all female residents after Keiichi's passing. Not that Keiichi would have been able to stop said men anyway, but that is besides the point. Megumi peered at Belldandy who, simply sat still. Unmoved by the constant knocking. It was not something Megumi expected from Belldandy. But then, Keiichi's passing was not something anyone expected either. Seeing as no one else made an effort to greet whoever was knocking, Megumi took it upon herself to answer the door. She only hoped the people behind her would come to her aid if need be. As she approached the door, she waiting until the next third knock ended. Whoever was knocking seemed to make a short pause after three knocks. Just enough time to open the sliding door and not get accidentally 'knocked' out. Megumi, slid the door wide open and made a curt call. "Who the…"
While it was not some disgusting robber or rapist standing on the other side, given who they were, it might as well have been one.
"Megumi Morisato… we came as soon as we heard!" The big lipped, black haired, unshaven 5'clock shadowed muscleman said. Streams of tears flowed down his face. "It… it was something that can't be true. But is!"
"Yeah." The blond spiky haired, black leather jacket wearing, dark sunglasses wearing man said next to him. He too, had streams of tears pouring down his face. "If there is anything we can do, we will do it."
Both gave Megumi a strong bear hug.
"We know we can never replace Keiichi. He was one in a million!" Tamiya, the big lipped man said. His eyes shut as he obviously could not contain the emotions inside of him.
"Maybe not one in a million since that implies that there are twelve hundred Keiichi's in China." Otaki, the sunglasses wearing man noted. "More like, he's one in six billion!"
"If there is anything you need us to do, we'll do it." Tamiya said, tightening his squeeze on Megumi. "We'll line the streets with statues of Keiichi! We'll run races in his honor!"
"We'll get the school to rename the track in his name!" Otaki added. He too, tighten his squeeze on Megumi.
"Why just the track?" Tamiya asked. "We can have the whole school named after him!"
"We are at your disposal Megumi!" Otaki said, as the tears continued to stream down his face. At any faster rate, the whole temple would be flooded with their tears. "Cleaning? Fixing up your bike? Just say it, and we'll do it!"
"How about letting go for starters." Megumi said, looking away from both of them. Her eyes narrowed as she was continuingly being crushed by the two lugs.
Chihiro walked up to the two, and bashed both of them on of the forehead with her fist. This finally caused both men to stop hugging Megumi. "I don't think killing his sister as well is going to solve anything!"
"We're sorry Sempai!" Both Tamiya and Otaki were on their knees. Begging forgiveness from Chihiro. "All we wanted was to help!"
Urd exited Keiichi's room. Her eyes rolled when she heard the commotion. 'Figures it was those two idiots. Nothing to worry about.'
Then, the phone rang.
Urd watched the phone, her eyes narrowed a bit. She was not sure she wanted to answer it since, there were a few possible callers in her mind that could be on the other side. She then peered back at the living room antics, and noted Belldandy remained still. Not that she would have heard the phone ring over the yelling and the arguing happening behind her anyway. Urd sighed at her luck. 'Can't be helped. Might as well answer it.' Urd picked up the receiver and placed it to her ear. "Morisato residences."
Of course the one that replied, was the last person Urd wanted to hear from.
"Oh, how is my beautiful daughter doing?" The seemingly overly cheery woman said on the other side.
"…" Urd's hand contracted, cracking the plastic cover of the receiver. "Mo… mo… Hild."
"What? No mother this time?" Urd noted with mock disappointment. "I thought we made a lot of progress recently."
"You… you…" Urd gritted her teeth. "Don't you know what you have done?!"
"Oh, I know. It's so sad." Hild sniffled. "Poor Keiichi. He was truly… a great man. Boohoohoo. Waaaawaaawaaa!" Hild seemingly cried.
Urd of course was not buying it. "Don't give me your crocodile tears. It was YOU that caused all this!"
"Yeah." Hild said in her normal tone. "So tragic. And not only for the mortals. But none of you goddesses have any chance to see him again. Especially the ones that grown so close to him."
Urd's chin began quivering. Her eyes, filled with tears again, began to glow lightly with rage. "You… YOU!! She raised the receiver ready to throw it across the room. And if that was not enough, she would probably throw the whole phone if need be.
"Except it's different for you."
Urd's eyes suddenly widen. Her anger dissipated after hearing Hild's word. She placed the receiver back to her ear. "What did you say?"
"I know you Urd." Hild said maliciously. "I know that Belldandy girl was not the only one that had grown close to Keiichi Morisato. You miss him just as much as she does."
"I… I…" Urd stuttered as she tried to find a retort to Hild's probing.
"Your sympathy for him does not solely rest with your half sister." Hild continued.
"But… I… I…" Urd did not like where this was going.
"But like I said, you have a unique opportunity Urd." Hild said. "You have something none of the other goddesses hoped to have."
"I… I… no. I won't." Urd quickly said as she caught on to what Hild was saying. However, her resolve was slowly crumbling.
"Oh, but can you let this chance pass up?" Hild retorted. Her voice dripping with devious intent. "After all, unlike Belldandy, you can see him again. You can see… Keiichi."
Urd was shaking as Hild spoke those words. Of course, she knew her mother. She knew that a price had to be paid.
"All you have to do, is come back."
--End of Chapter 2
And so, another update done and over with. Now, a billion other updates waiting in the wing.
Anyways, a few things to note, I wasn't sure the procedure was in removing the body. How their coroners work, what they call them, etc. So, I just, kind of BSed it in a way and used the American system. Well, at least I did some research and got the uniforms of the paramedics about right. And the Hospital situation? Accurate in so much that, Japan does have a shortage of hospital space. And when a hospital runs out of space, they will turn away people. Even if said person is in dire need of medical treatment.
Anyways, I'll keep this short since I need to work on the other ones. Like "Valiant Shinji", and "Conflicted Hearts" (yes, I have not forgotten that fic. It WILL be updated. Eventually).
-Next Chapter… The proposal. The funeral. The aftermath. Until next time, later!