Standard disclaimers apply.
ANGELS NEVER SAY GOODBYE
By Cassandra's Destiny
Chapter 2: According to HER, angels never say goodbye.
Sitting next to him, I was placing gentle kisses on his fingertips. He lets his free hand run through my hair, the slightest touch of his palm sending shivers to my spine. As I looked up into his eyes, I knew this man was my one true love. I was sure. And I would give up all eternity just to be with him, give up anything and everything I once held dear. I offered him a warm smile as he retrieved his hand from my grasp, allowing both his arms to hold me close to him, protectively and lovingly. I would really trade anything to make this moment last, for this moment is everything I ever dreamed of and more. Smiling to myself, I knew what this moment was.
Perfect – that was what everything is.
Until I woke up.
"Not again." My face was etched with pain, I knew. My breathing was significantly painful, I knew… I knew I had to be strong, but I'm not. As soon as signs of tears appeared, I knew I could not fight them. I dare not fight them.
So I cried myself to sleep.
"Are you sure you want this?"
I stood straight and held my chin up. Koenma was my superior, the highest of all angels. He oversaw everything here in heaven, and heaven always answered to him. He was above me in the ladder but I need not be rude. I know that if I wanted him to feel how much of a serious angel I am with my request, I have to look the part.
Koenma finally looked up from his paperwork. I panicked. He looked doubtful, and his stern gaze was burning a hole in head. When he spoke, his voice held a firm authoritative tone. "Do you realize the consequences of your request?"
Do I realize the consequences? To be honest, no.
"Yes, I do."
His expression hardened. If a minute ago, he was staring at me like I had a bad virus he had to get away from, now, he was staring at me like I was a mad woman who has to get away from the vicinity pronto.
"Botan, should I ever fulfill your request, you do know you can never be immortal again?"
"Moreover, if and when you die, you cannotbe admitted to heaven even if you live a life of a saint on earth, and you will forever be in limbo?"
For a second time, I nodded.
"Lastly, you are aware that once we begin the process, there is no turning back, and the effects are clearly irreversible, let alone with a seven-day warranty?"
And for the last time today, I hope, I nodded.
Koenma rubbed his temples. I guess he doesn't understand what I'm going through. I guess he doesn't know how it feels to have the one you love so near yet so far. I guess he just doesn't know.
"Botan, I am not going to ask you why you are doing this. I know why. I am not going to ask you what you are giving up, I know what. I am not going to ask you how you're going to make it there. I know how. But is it worth it, Botan? Is he worth it?"
Koenma was concerned about me; I see that now. "Yes, he is worth it." I knew deep inside my heart I was not the one he wanted, not the one he needed. But I at least had to give it a try, right?
"Then let's go."
Looking at Koenma, I saw he had a solemn expression on his face. Maybe he thought I was a mad woman. Maybe I really am a mad woman, but I definitely am a mad woman in love. Ever since I have been given the task to guard him, I knew he was the one, and now, I am about to give up everything I once held close to my heart, everything I once held dear – all this, for him, for I knew I loved him even before we met… Kurama.
I can't believe I fell on a park bench, a park bench near the dumpster, no less! Why couldn't have Koenma let me fall to earth on a bed of roses or on a nice soft… someone's coming. Wait, is that a banana peel on my shoulder?
I felt the stranger's presence get close, really close. I knew he was standing in front of me, and I didn't want to be rude so I offered an explanation right away. "I'm sort of lost and…"
Looking up was probably the best and worst thing I could have done right this moment.
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
No words came out of my mouth. To top all that, I squeaked. Yes, I squeaked like a helpless mouse on a run. Shifting uncomfortably and biting my lower lip, I tried my best to say something. "I… well, you see, there is this one thing…" When I saw his eyes, I had to look away, albeit a rude gesture to him. But I just can't believe it. Someone pinch me, please. This has to be a dream. I know. I know, I'm going to wake up soon and realize I've been fantasizing about being with him again. Then I'd realize all of it wasn't real and it never will be so I'll cry myself to sleep just like I do every night, then wake up in the morning to scold myself for falling in love with someone not like me and for being stupid enough to think we could ever be, and…
"Is there any place you can stay for tonight?"
I think I've gone insane, settled on being an awestruck dizzy girl whose long-time love is standing before her, whose long-time love is actually fingering her chin.
"I really don't have anywhere to go." Point for me. I said something coherent for once.
"Okay, then let's get going." He offered me his hand, and at that moment, I think my heart jumped out my chest. I panicked. What should I do now? Should I ask him to wait while I run after that heart of mine that suddenly decided to leave a hopeless romantic girl like me? Or should I take his hand? Or…
"Oh, sorry, I forgot. My name is Kurama."
I bit my lip and fidgeted slightly. Of course I knew his name; it's the most wonderful name in the world. Just hearing him utter it makes my heart, if it ever came back, flutter and my insides turn to goo. "My name is Botan." I only hope he doesn't find my name to be something derived from a late night circus crew show.
The following moments were a bit awkward. He had an almost smile on his face, like he was thinking of something. Was he thinking my name sounded like something from a toilet humor book? I had to distract him!
"Where are we going, Kurama?"
His eyes were on me again. "We're going back to my place to get you dinner." He offered me his hand. This time, I took it gracefully, not wanting to let go, but fighting the urge to hold on too tightly. I felt my face turn hot as soon as the skin on my hand touched his. It was a refreshing sensation – better than anything I've ever dreamed of.
As soon as we arrived at his house, he signaled me to follow him to the kitchen. "What do you want to eat?"
I bobbed my head to the side. "Eat?"
"Yes, what do you want to eat? If you've been lost and have nowhere to go, I'm sure you haven't had a bite."
"A bite?" Heaven was paradise. Angels never get hungry or thirsty. Heaven is absolute perfection. Why would we ever want to bite, or was it a bite?
"A bite. Are you hungry?" There was a slight tone of irritation in his voice. Maybe I said something wrong.
I shook my head before replying. "Should I be?" His face softened as he gave it some thought, I suppose. "No, not really. You better get yourself cleaned up and go to bed. There's a spare room upstairs, second door from the corner."
Clean up. Go to bed. Spare room. Upstairs. Second from corner. "Okay!"
Before I entered the shower, I raided a few of the cabinets to get myself a towel. It's invasion of privacy, I know. But as an angel, I was never given a time-out for peeping into someone else's everyday life, so what harm can getting a towel do?
Finally spotting a neatly folded towel on a drawer, I picked it up. Soon enough, I found myself staring at an old photograph placed on a bedside table.
It was a picture of Kurama's mother.
I remember the day I have been asked to be Kurama's guardian angel. Koenma said since the mother next door had delivered a child first, the angel in line had to guard that baby. So Kurama needed someone new to watch over him. I always saw him with this woman, his mother. Before he walks to school, he'd give her a kiss on the cheek and mutter a few farewells and take care's before shutting the door behind him. It was sweet, really. She'd give her a glass of warm milk and a small plate of cookies whenever he wakes up from a nightmare – something I have no control over, just to be clear. She'd also bring him a cup of coffee on nights he spends working on his reports and presentations for school. She'd read to him a book about friendly monsters and giants when he starts his monsters are creepy speech. Kurama and his mother have always had a special relationship. She does everything for him as he does everything for her. Honestly, I find it admirable. But amidst all those good memories I allegedly shared with them, since I've seen it all like I was really there, I couldn't fight back my recollection of the turning point of Kurama's life – his mother's death.
I felt a tear trickle down my cheek. I was sniffing like a two-year old, I know. But I couldn't help it. It was a bitter memory for me, and of course, for Kurama. He changed so much after the accident: shunned himself from the world, devoted his entire life to his work, became absolutely rude to anyone and everyone, and sadly for me, stopped believing in angels. He says we were useless. He says we were supposed to guard. He says we don't care about people. He says we weren't there when his mom needed help.
Yea… nowhere – that's where we were.
Sitting next to him, I was placing gentle kisses on his fingertips. He lets his free hand run through my hair, the slightest touch of his palm sending shivers to my spine. As I closed the distance between us, he pressed his lips against my own. I moaned. This just feels so right. I opened my eyes, preparing to tell him again how much I love him and…
"What are you doing here?" Actually, the question is, what are you doing outside my dream?
"My sentiments exactly." He replied, but I don't think I follow.
No, really, what is he doing outside my dream?
I did the natural thing to do; I offered an explanation, which cannot be closer to the truth. "Well, you said I should go sleep in the room whose door is second from the corner and…" I trailed off, unsure of what to say next.
"Don't worry. I'll just escort you to your room and we can both get some shut eyes." Kurama stood from the bed, and I followed suit. The next thing I know, he was staring at me like I've grown an extra head or something. Is there a bug on my face?
"Botan, where are your clothes?"
I smiled. Well, what else happened to my clothes? They didn't fade away for sure. Kurama can be so funny at times, cracking jokes when he feels like it.
"I did what you told me! I got myself cleaned up and since my clothes were really dirty from the park, I took it all off."
He violently pulled out the sheets from the bed and handed them to me. Was I supposed to wash these like his mom does? "What do you want me to do with the bed sheets, Kurama?"
"Go, uh, wrap them around yourself… like a dress of some sort."
Wrap sheets around self. Got it. Or was that a joke too?
I woke up early the next morning to prepare Kurama a nice breakfast. I knew his mother always made these wonderful oatmeal cookies for him so I had to make them too! Yes, that would make him happy, right?
Gathering the tools I needed, I grabbed the recipe from the kitchen counter. Before I left heaven, I made sure I watched all those baking shows on earth so I'd have a know-how on what to do. Also, I made sure I knew where Kurama's mother kept the recipe so I'd know exactly how to make the cookies.
"Good morning, Kurama!" I pulled on the curtains, allowing the sun's rays to shine through his huge windows. "It's already 7 AM and I got you some coffee and oatmeal cookies in the kitchen so you better come down soon!"
Even if he didn't get up right away, I knew he'd be down to the kitchen soon. I knew he'd remember how his mother usually opens the curtains for him. I knew he'd remember that his mother always baked oatmeal cookies in the morning so that he'd be downstairs on cue.
"You made cookies?"
And yes, Kurama's down, staring at the oatmeal cookies I made.
I beamed at him. "Yes, you should go try them!"
Eyeing him, I saw he was still in his boxers. I fought a giggle that dared escape my mouth. What? I'm a girl!
I was so happy when he finally took a bite of a cookie. "Do you like them?"
"How did— how did you make these?"
Ugh, I placed them in the oven? "I got this recipe in the kitchen counter this morning and I thought I would try it."
His eyes narrowed slightly. "And the secret ingredient?"
"Cinnamon." Came my quick reply.
"Cinnamon? How did you know it was cinnamon? Mom never wrote it down."
I bit my lip. That was a wrong move, Botan. I knew his mom never wrote it down. I knew Kurama has always been bitter about the fact she never disclosed the information on the secret ingredient to him. I knew he has been irritated since his mother's death because he can never seem to remake her oatmeal cookies.
I knew I had to make up an excuse.
"Before, I always watched someone I know make oatmeal cookies and she always puts cinnamon. So when I saw that the recipe didn't have cinnamon, I figured the secret ingredient would be, yea, cinnamon!"
It wasn't totally a lie. Sure, his mom wasn't my friend. Sure, I didn't figure things out myself. But hey, I always watched his mom make them. And I really did see her put in cinnamon every time. So yes, I knew it was the secret ingredient.
I was glad he got off my case right away. He munched quietly on the oatmeal cookies I made, perhaps reminiscing of the times when his mother used to make them for him. A happy smile finally graced his face. And with that, I was happy because he was happy.
One morning, Kurama was preparing to go to work after a long weekend. So I didn't bother him or offered an explanation of my whereabouts like always. I simply strolled to the garden to water the plants her mother used to take care of.
Seeing them, I instantly frowned. Kurama has neglected the bushes and the flowers, obviously. I knew this reminded him so much of his mother since she was the one who made him accustomed to plants. I knew he changed completely after her death. I knew he was upset about his mother's death, but did the plants have to suffer too?
"What are you doing?" His voice startled me.
"I'm talking to the plants."
"Talking to the plants?" He gave me a look, a look that says he thinks I'm being stupid.
"Uh-huh. Do you want to try it?" I ignored the look altogether. Of course he'd think I'm going insane. I mean, I was talking to plants. Nevertheless, I was excited that I'd finally have him back to loving these beautiful flowers again, even if they do remind him of his mother.
Squatting beside me, he faced a peony. "Hello, peony, Botan here was talking to you just now. I think she has totally lost it."
"Kurama!" I pouted and swatted his arm playfully. "You're mean."
He laughed. Yes, Kurama openly laughed. I mentally gave myself a pat on the shoulder for getting him out of his shell slash comfort zone which, in my opinion, isn't comfortable at all.
"Come on, Kurama. Tell the plant something nice."
I thought he was going to narrow his eyes at me and scold me for being childish. But his face suddenly softened. "Peony, don't you think Botan is looking lovely today?" So his face suddenly softened, making him look more handsome in the bright sunlight and he just complimented me. Am I blushing? Oh yes.
"Botan." I was snapped out of my cloud nine. "Why talk to plants? It's not like they'll answer back." Wait, rewind and remix. Was that irritation in his voice? Are we back to square one again?
"Well, it's my way to let the plants know I care for them. You know, when I talk to them, at least they'd know I care."
I had to tell him the truth this time. I wouldn't say it's because his mom does it too, so it's a qualified okay thing to do. I really did think it was a way to make them know I am here for them, make them know I'm very happy they're growing so well and, wait, did I just say the exact same thing his mother said to him years ago?
Suddenly, two kids, not older than eight years old, passed the front yard on their bikes, ringing their bells as they race each other, making me completely forget what I was thinking about a while ago. And yes, I know, I easily get distracted. It's what I get for having an attention span of a squirrel.
"Kurama," I slowly tugged at his sleeve. "I've always wanted to learn how to ride a bike. Will you please teach me?"
I have always wanted to ride a bike, always have imagined riding with Kurama on a beachside while watching the sunset. I hope he'd say yes.
"Sure, why not?"
I didn't know what came over me when I immediately hugged him and squealed in delight. I guess I was just too overwhelmed with excitement. I was sure I was overwhelmed with excitement. But hey, you'd be excited too if the man you have always admired from afar, mind you, has agreed to teach you how to ride a bike, one of your long-time dreams!
I turned ten shades of red when I felt his arms circle around me and press my body closer to his, protectively and lovingly… just like in my dreams. It was a good thing my face was buried in his chest, lest he'd see I was red as a tomato and start asking questions that might lead to the revelation of my angel days.
Now that'd be a hassle. I know.
Up and coming sequel: WE WERE GIVEN WINGS TO FLY