Angel of Death

Chapter 25

The space between life and death is not a pleasant one but the reaper doesn't care. She lies there muttering to her self in a strange song-like voice. Corpses pile up around her, the scent is foul and toxic, but she ignores it, completely unaffected by it, and enjoying the desperation in the atmosphere. She sings each letter of the alphabet and the name of the one killed for it. She stops when she reaches the M. "M is for Michiru, or was it Momoka? M is for..."

The reaper returns to Earth floating above a beach city. There is some kind of bonfire going on and people look like they are enjoying it. "Marco..." The reaper finally decides, she knows that Michiru survived and doesn't count her death.

With a strange, inexplicable power, the reaper affects the bonfire. The flames grow out of control and people start running away. No matter how much water is thrown at the flames, the fire continues to grow.

"Marco, death by burning!" The reaper flies down and appears visible to her prey. She cuts off his legs at the knees.

Marco screams in pain and falls. He desperately clutches what's left of his legs, unable to comprehend what just happened. The fire grows and he tries to crawl away but is too slow. Sparks fly and land on his right arm, setting him on fire. He rolls on the ground desperately, but the fire only grows and spreads.

With a sadistic look on her face, the reaper laughs evilly and enjoys the sounds of his screams of pain. "N is for Nick." She chooses her next victim and spots him in the panicking crowds. "Death, being crushed by a stampede of panicked mortals." The reaper swings her scythe connecting with the victim's spine.

Nick screams in pain, becoming paralyzed when his spinal cord is suddenly cut. He falls on the ground and in their panic to get away from the fire, people kick him, step on him and finish him off after causing him much pain. No one stops to help either victim as they are too worried about their own lives.

This time the reaper is not directly killing the humans but causing their death by leaving them in a hopeless situation. "O is for Oscar."

Oscar is a fire fighter, who has arrived to try to put out the growing flames. The fire fighters back away and continue to spray water on the flames, but they continue to grow.

"Death by suffocation..." By an unknown force, the mask Oscar wears to protect himself from the smoke, is knocked off. Abruptly, a large amount of smoke is thrown at him by a sudden wind. He is effulged in the black smoke and cannot be seen by the other fire fighters.

The leader screams for them back away, but Oscar is confused and disoriented, he doesn't known which way to go because the heat feels like it's all around him. He continues to breathe too much smoke, the hose suddenly going dead, not a drop of water coming from it, it wraps itself around his feet and causes him to trip and fall.

With an echoing eerie laugh, and a sadistic look in her eyes, the reaper disappears. She leaves Spain and reapers in Mexico after going through the space between life and death where the desperate corpses wait. "Pedro, murdered by his jealous lover."

A scandalously clad woman appears at Pedro's house, the reaper's new chosen form. Though he is loyal to his girlfriend, she is quite jealous and possessive. The human woman arrives and finds the woman in the revealing red dress sitting on her bed, while her lover is asleep. "Who are you?" The scream wakes Pedro who is shocked to see a strange woman in his house.

"I don't know her, I swear!" Pedro tries to explain. He is telling the truth but the situation is too suspicious.

The reaper chuckles, redish-brown curls pouring over her shoulders to her chest, down to the low cut red dress, reaching just bellow her slim waist. She crosses her legs, the slit of her tight dress revealing her soft, slender legs. Her red lips form a cruel smile and the human woman runs away.

"Maria!" Pedro runs after her following her to the kitchen. She holds a knife to her chest as if she were to commit suicide, but when he tries to take it away she takes him by surprise and stabs him through the heart.

Maria watches as her lover collapses, she grabs another knife and goes in search of the woman in the red dress, but she is no where to be found, she had traveled to England.

"Queen is a lucky girl, rich and pretty, but because of that she is envied. Her parents are, to be honest, the biggest snobs this side of the planet. They went as far as to give their little girl the name Queen. How unfortunate, not many names start with a Q and I am in a hurry."

Queen screams in fear because no only is there a tiger in her room, but a talking tiger with sharp claws and fangs about to pounce on her. The reaper in her tiger form chases after Queen. The girl calls for her home's security team, for a maid, a butler, her parents whom she knows are on a cruise and can't possibly answer. She is desperate and screams for anyone to help her, but the sound is somehow lost. It's as if only she can hear herself scream; only she can see the tiger chasing her.

In her desperation to get away, queen runs into the banister, the wood comes lose somehow and she falls. Three floors bellow the majestic inner staircase, lined with gold, there is a fountain, with a marble statue in the center. Queen falls, harshly pulled by gravity, her head collides with the sword the marble statue holds on her way and knocks her unconscious as she lands in the fountain.

By the power of the reaper no one hears her screams, no one hears the hit, no one hears the splash. "Later they will argue, did she die of the blunt hit, or was she simply knocked out then drowned because she was unconscious and unable to get out of the water? They will blame so many, but no one will blame me, they'll steal my credit but I don't care!" The reaper fades away once again, taking the shortcut through the space of darkness, corpses and death, and reappearing in a new location, America.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 26

"M is for Marco, N is for Nick, O is for Oscar, P is for Pedro, Q is for Queen. The game isn't over yet, but when it ends I'll start a new one and Chika will be the first to play. Chika Akatsuki, your time is about to end. I can win my own game and kill you; there is nothing you can do. Make it challenging, I'll still win, I'll make it a challenge too and I'll still win!" She intends to mend her broken pride, to make up for the incident of Michiru's revival, she wants to end this but at the same time, the reaper wants to take her time. "The last few were fast, the next one slow..."

It's night, the reaper watches as a young man gets in his car. She passes through the car and sits at the back sit. She becomes visible in the shape of a rotting zombie, impossible to identify. "R is for Ricky."

Ricky looks through the rearview mirror and slams on the breaks. His car goes out of control and he hits a tree in the lonely dark road. He looks back at the creature but it is gone. He feels like an idiot imagining things and crashing his car. "Damn it!" He faces forward and there is the creature again, the rotting zombie, hardly resembling a human at all. Discolored flesh clings to the bones, bathed in dry blood, a strange mold found all over the creature. Grotesque insects crawl on the zombie, eating the leftover skin.

Ricky backs away against his car seat. "What the hell is this?" He does not want to stay and find out. He tries to back away from the tree but his car won't start. He doesn't want to exit the car either, and fishes for his cell phone. For an unknown reason, the cell phone cannot catch a signal. The screen suddenly goes blank, even if Ricky is sure the battery is charged. "Don't die out now!" He yells at the cell phone.

The cell phone's screen lights up again, emitting a strong red light that it should not have. Ricky presses random buttons trying to get the device to respond. Suddenly he drops it, a sharp pain coming from his knees. The rotted zombie is emitting some kind of glowing green goo that melts through the car and falls on his legs, burning like acid.

Ricky moved to the passenger seat, enduring the pain on his legs. He then climbs over the back seats and finds an umbrella. The zombie breaks through the glass window and reaches for him, insects and acid covering her bony hand. "Get away from me!" Ricky hits the rotted zombie, the reaper's current form, with the umbrella.

The umbrella breaks, half of it stuck in the reaper's rib case. Ricky gets out of the car, the sharp pain on his knees causing him to fall. He looks at his legs; the knees have been consumed to the bones, leaving two bloody craters. The acid crawls up and down his legs. He yells in pain and tries to brush it off but his fingers mysteriously catch aflame and his hand burns.

The reaper, approaches, her chosen form this time one of the most unpleasant possibilities. In an act of desperation, Ricky punches the rotted zombie reaper, hoping to burn it. The rotting corpse catches on fire but is not consumed by the flames. The agonizing human tries to crawl away, unable to stand while the reaper summons her scythe and slashes his chest repeatedly, blood flowing out abundantly.

The reaper picks him up with the blade of the scythe, making a deep cut on his back, the pain too intense for him to even move. She tosses Ricky towards his car and the vehicles catches fire. "Ricky, suspected to be drunk, lost control of his car and impacted a tree. The hit cause a chain reaction in the engine which made the vehicle come ablaze. In reality he was very much sober and wide awake during his death..."

The reaper fades away; she changes her appearance to an innocent little girl, and passes through the place where the corpses remain trapped. They tug at her long platinum pigtails, and her navy blue sailor skirt to match her white and navy sailor shirt with a big red bow on it the same, color as the bows on her hair. "Aren't you lucky, I'll let you out to play."

Each corpse trapped in the space in-between life and death, falls through the dark ground as if it was not even there. They come raining down into a secret location underground and a howl is heard. "Pochi, no! Let's leave this place, we will return when we're ready.

"Too close, keeper of the key, too close..." The reaper mutters to herself, she disappears again returning to Earth to seek out her next victim.

"It seems that you could use some assistance. If it will break the cycle established long ago then I can provide it." Carmella arrives in the secret location, of the door Kuze had been searching for. A door that the reaper did not want found, but is confident that it can't be opened.

"Carmella, they must be guided but they have been in such painful forms for so long that they resist it even if what they truly want is rest." Kuze holds Pochi back and tries to calm him.

"Of course, I know of someone who can solve this... Zarame has been spending a lot of time in the Wheel of Fate headquarters lately, even if he is a being of the underworld." As Carmella speaks, Zarame comes into view stepping out of the shadows.

The only light in the room comes from the pale blue carvings on the black door behind Kuze. The rest of the room drowned in darkness and sorrow. Zarame holds his scythe ready and summons the power of his core to finally guide those who were lost for so long.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 27

One by one, Zarame guides each zombie, until they are all gone and Zarame is exhausted.

"We must find the keepers of hope and bring them here. I think it's finally time, this time the door will open, I know it." Kuze places her hand on the door with the glowing blue carvings.

"It has been tried before and it didn't work. If it fails you will be defenseless, your keepers of hope as well" Carmella warns.

"I will protect them," Zarame offers.

Carmella shakes her head. "Why do you think the reaper retreated? She's just playing, she's confident this won't work, as it had also failed to work in the past. Zarame, even if you try to protect them, when the keepers of hope fail to help the keeper of the key open the door, they will inevitably be filled with hopelessness and she will kill them all. She's not an ordinary reaper." She reminds them.

"She's not a reaper at all," Zarame clarifies. "She goes under the guise of a reaper but she isn't."

Kuze nods, "Yes... and I know that many brave keepers of hope had failed to open this door in the past. This time it will be different. This time I'm sure we'll win and rid the world of her for some time."

"She never dies," Carmella speaks the truth.

"Neither does hope," Kuze voices.

Carmella sighs. "The Wheel of Fate will try to minimize the casualties should this plan fail." She fears it will though she wishes for it to succeed.

"I thank you, but I'm sure we'll make it this time," Kuze looks towards Zarame. "You care for her don't you? For Michiru..."

"It is forbidden for reapers to care about humans." Zarame does not answer the question.

A reply is not needed, Kuze already knows. "That's why you hid yourself at the Wheel of Fate headquarters and cut off all contact with Michiru."

"Because of that she was in danger," Zarame admits. Regret is not something that a reaper should feel. Zarame knows this, it goes against his nature.

"Michiru herself is a forbidden being, descendant of both humans and reapers, though mostly of human blood. She still has the eyes of a reaper and is able to understand the ancient language of the reapers." Kuze shakes her head. "No, she's not a forbidden being at all. All those who are alive have the right to continue living, and all those who might not be alive but exist, have the right to continue existing. Just as our enemy will continue to exist no matter what we do, our hero will also continue to exist no matter what our enemy does. It's up to us to choose which side will win."

Zarame remains quiet as Kuze and Carmella watch. Pochi looks a bit confused; he doesn't fully understand what is going on. Zarame closes his eyes and reflects for a moment. "I will keep Michiru safe," he finally decides.

xoxox xox xoxox

A little girl shows up at the door to a major mafia hide out. Toho gives the child an odd look as he opens the door. "I assume you are no child if you came this far."

The little girl giggles. "T is for Toho!" A scythe appears in her hands.

Toho quickly recites an incantation, his fingers moving rapidly with a bright glow. The seal he drew reaches the reaper who is not a reaper at all, but has no effect. "You're an evil creature," Toho speaks in surprise. "How can it be that this doesn't work?"

"Try it again," the evil being playfully says. "Try it over and over, throw everything you have at me and show me how hopeless you are." She looks amused, laughing and giggling insanely.

A few members of the mafia approach to see what's going on at their hideout's door. "Toho," one of them inquires, "what is happening?"

"Don't get in my way," Toho half growls, the others back away. Using a white spell paper with complex symbols hand drawn on it with black ink, Toho starts to chant. The paper glows iridescent and he throws it at the creature.

The piece of paper sticks to her forehead and smoke starts coming out as if it were acid. Her skin burns and melts until the paper slowly dissolves into dust and the center of her face from the forehead to the nose is left at the skull, both sides around it left with burns. "It didn't work," she laughs. "It didn't work! It didn't work!" She keeps repeating it mockingly.

Toho looks back at the men behind him. "She is who we thought," they look surprised; as if they cannot believe such a creature exists in such an apparently harmless form. "Get everything ready, quickly!" They run, Toho knows he's being followed, he knows the true identity of that little monster, he knows of her power, and he's leading her to a trap.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 28

The reaper lets Toho run and follows him confidently. In the basement of the mafia hide out, there is a circle carved on the stone floor. Water flows through the carvings, and Toho stands in the center. From the outside it has a ring, a circle within a circle, with many Chinese symbols representing incantations and spells. After that, another ring within it, the symbols are names of creatures, guardians that can be controlled. Finally, there is a star at the very center, the shape carved deeper than any other.

"T is for Toho..." the reaper giggles in a voice that does fit in with the image of a little girl, but her expression is that of a cold blooded killer, one with no soul.

"Then come, false reaper, your other gave her power to me," what Toho truly means is that her other, the opposite of the being who calls herself a reaper, but truly isn't, has entrusted her power to humans and continues to live within them.

"My other?" The reaper's appearance changes with her raising anger, though she does not turn into a grotesque creature this time, but instead takes the form of a scandalously dressed young woman with seductive curves, icy eyes, dark hair and red lips. "My other is dead, dear Toho," her tone is sly and seductive. "I killed her, shattered her very soul. She did not pass on, she simply ceased to exist."

"You're wrong," confidently, Toho reaches for a rustic looking pendant in his shirt. He takes it off its chain and holds it above the star shape on the floor. "Your other self is more powerful than you'll ever be."

The evil one laughs, mocking the stubbornness of the man before her. "She was so easily trapped; she stayed behind when all of us ran rampant. She escaped somehow, to fight me, and I destroyed her."

Toho knows the creature is paying little mind to the piece of wood he holds. She most likely thinks of it as a rustic pendant, maybe a piece of enchanted wood, but it is so much more. It is a shard of the imprisonment that held her and her opposite, as well as many others, captive long ago. He did not break off the piece and does not know who did, but it is most likely through that hole that her opposite escaped that day long ago to fight the evil one.

Be it by chance or destiny, the piece ended up in his hands. "Farewell," Toho drops the small piece of wood into the star shape. When it comes in contact with the water, the room is filled with a bright light. Toho steps into the star; the power the good creature had given all humans becomes vastly amplified with the enchanted chard of prison.

The radiant waves hit the evil one; she shields herself with her arms, but the memories of the battle return either way. That day, during that fight, she was being true to her real name, and she was losing. But it was humans who kept her alive, and as much as she loathed the beings because they favored her opposite; they also kept her alive that time, or rather than alive, they kept her in existence.

xoxox xox xoxox

"As long as they exist, so will I," the good being spoke.

"I will always exist in them, you can be broken, shattered, abandoned, but not I. When you are gone only I shall remain, unbreakable, invincible!" The evil one growled. She held her black scythe ready, silver blade stained with blood.

Her opposite held her white weapon, an elegant scythe with a golden blade; silvery strings reaching from the blade to the handle forming a strange combination between harp and scythe. If those strings broke, the weapon would be unleashed, a symbolic meaning to her next words. "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could ever imagine."

The evil one griped a skeletal hand around her weapon, black ragged cloak blowing in the wind. "Do you not see what surrounds you?" The background was dark and gloomy. The world was surrounded in that darkness as humanity lost hope. "I do, I am all over this world, I invaded their hearts and I am choking the life out of then with each passing second."

"It will only make them stronger, because as they had dictated, I will always win," the good one stood fearless, majestic golden hair and white robes blowing softly as if the harsh winds were a soft breeze, silver eyes full of calmness and peace, but also a strong fighting spirit.

xoxox xox xoxox

The evil one screams, she backs away from the circle. How could a single human carry such power? No, it's not just that, the other weaken her. She can feel them scorching her very soul with their lives. Those others must not live; those others had dared to challenge her and would not be permitted to continue to exist. "Game over!" She disappears.

A storm brews in the sky, black clouds spinning like a cyclone and acid rain falls, burning those unfortunate enough to be outside. Humans run for cover, they are perplexed and frightened by the sudden change in weather and they hope it will end soon, they still dare to hope. Lightning crashes, unnatural sparks extending around the radius. The evil one feels the keepers of hope heading towards the door; she feels them planning to approach the incomplete prison. She intends to kill them, no games, no torture, no delays; she wants to kill them now. "Chika Akatsuki..." he is the worse one by far, "Die!"

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 29

Chika, Shito, Michiru, Yuuri, Momoka, Sotetsu, Koyomi, Yuuta, Ohtsu and Zarame are gathered at the office trying to figure out Bekko's riddles. "I can't say it any more clear than that," the ferryman insists. "Beyond the hopeless door, lies hope." He pauses noting that no one understands. "That is how I was told it went."

The office door opens and Kuze, Pochi and Carmella arrive. "We must go to the door," the chairperson sounds like it is urgent.

Bekko pushes up his glasses; he looks more interested than usual and far less bored, "indeed, one more time."

xoxox xox xoxox

"Kill! Kill! Kill!" People drop dead without explanation. Some see the skeleton with snake hair like a medusa swing a scythe; other see a blur and others are just confused. That confusion doesn't last long, for soon after they realize that their friends are not fainted but dead, their lives are taken as well. The evil being is furious.

xoxox xox xoxox

The Z-Loan group stands in front of the closed door to their office. The chair person chants an incantation and holds up a glowing key. She uses it to open the door, but instead of it leading to the office as logic would dictate, the place beyond the door is different. Kuze crosses the door, followed by everyone else. She takes note of everyone being ready for a battle, many with new weapons; some had recovered the weapons they had lost, Chika and Shito. They will go back to zombie hunting after this is over, to protect the world. "You had fought for long enough. You survived this long and held on to your hopes. If you hope, you will achieve."

The dark room is filled with questions; the glowing blue carvings of a locked door at the opposite end of the room are the only source of light. "Will it really work this time?" Bekko wonders, more as if he's talking to himself then anyone else.

"Many times before, the evil being's opposite was gathered, but it was never enough. However, all of that was not in vain," Carmella explained, "she was weakened, with what they have now, and if we give them a little of our own, this can be won."

"But the missing piece is..." Bekko does not finish.

Carmella nods acknowledging his point, but the confidence doesn't leave her eyes. "It is no longer needed."

"In deed, it is not," Kuze agrees.

Chika is becoming impatient. "What's everyone talking about?" He didn't like not understanding, and he wasn't the only one bothered by it.

"Shito, have you heard about Pandora's shard?" Kuze asks.

Shito thinks about it for a moment, the name sounds familiar. "Yes, a piece of wood Toho carries with him everywhere. I know not of its use."

"It is a piece of the box that imprisoned many beings, representing many things," Kuze explains. "Long ago Hope and Hopeless fought to the end. Hopeless thought the battle had been one, that Hope was destroyed. But when Hopeless is at its strongest, Hope will shine the brightest." Kuze looks towards Bekko and Carmella.

Carmella continues, "eventually the box was lost, we knew of the location of the missing piece but that was no where near enough. The Wheel of Fate had thought the Underworld held the box hidden to preserve order, that is, to preserve the manifestation of Hopeless as a part of the natural order. They denied it but we did not believe them."

"After the negotiations were finally over, the Wheel of Fate stopped insisting that the Underworld had the box and just in time for a new search to start without being clouded by the doubt of thinking the box was not lost but hidden, Hopeless manifested again," Kuze looked towards Bekko. "I'm sure you must have heard this part before.

"Then you want me to tell the story? Very well," Bekko continues, "Hopeless comes when a certain amount of hopelessness is accumulated. That wasn't hard with all the illegal zombie attacks recently and the rivalry between the Underworld and the Wheel of Fate. The negotiations are still being implemented. Right now it's time to face Hopeless with Hope."

"Where is the being of Hope?" Michiru asks.

"Humans..." Ohtsu finally speaks, "zombies who are human at heart as well." He heard the story of how Hopeless thought Hope was destroyed, but the being of light was in fact divided into many small pieces that reside in the hearts of people so that Hope may always stay within them.

"Yes, and now..." Kuze stops, a dark presence is felt.

"Game over, you all die. I'll rip your souls away. There's no escape, it's no use," Hopeless, the true identity of the being who had masked itself as a reaper has finally been revealed.

"Do not fear," Kuze calmly approaches the door. "I apologize for not telling you this right away, but if you hope, if you don't doubt that you will survive, then she cannot kill you. I had to allow you to discover that hope on your own for the purpose of opening this door." Kuze holds up her key, collecting energy from everyone.

Hopeless goes on a rampage, but is much weaker now. "There's no way to escape me, I am death, I am a reaper, humans will end up dying, they can't hope for anything else!" The words of Hopeless have no effect; if anything they show the being's desperation and create more hope.

The door opens and Kuze retrieves the box with the missing peace. She opens it and Hopeless is drawn towards it, then she closes it and puts it back. I will close this door of hopelessness. It will be hard for Hopeless to escape again..."

"Isn't there a hole in that box?" Sotetsu asks.

"Yes, if too much pressure is kept inside it will break again. It is best this way. Hope and Hopeless cannot be destroyed, they depend on the living beings of this world." Kuze closes the door and pets Pochi on the head. "It is up to us for how long the peace will last; it is up to us when things will reach a point where the manifestation of Hopeless escapes again, and it is up to us when and if Hopeless will once again be sealed."

They return to the Z-Loan office, with many hopes and no fears. Kuze asks Michiru and Koyomi to stay back for a moment. Chihiro and Leon return from the next world for just a few minutes, for one last goodbye, or rather one last 'see you later.'

xoxox xox xoxox

At the Z-loan office everyone is thinking about celebrating. Sotetsu even got a nice bonus, and is actually going to try to revive.

Everyone is very cheerful, and Chika has returned to being himself, aggravating Shito more and more, for all the time he couldn't bother him while he was in China.

"Shito, what are you doing?" Chika sees his friend bent over, hands around his ankle.

"With all of this... my socks bunched up..." Shito pulls his socks up and everyone just stares at him. "It's annoying!" He insists, "it's very annoying when socks bunch up..." and they all laugh.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 30

Yuuta, is quite cheerful, running around talking to everyone and spreading a rain of confetti all over the place. Ohtsu is half listening to Yuuri's chatter about his little squirrels and how happy he is they're safe.

While half listening to Yuuri, Ohtsu catches a glance at the look Bekko is giving him as if saying that as his only current full time employee, Ohtsu will inevitably receive the task of cleaning the confetti off the mansion floor. Bekko thinks he has done his share of work allowing for his house to be used for the party.

Michiru, Momoka and Kuze are playing a cellphone RPG, a new game that all three of them like. Kuze and Michiru had played similar games before but not on a cell phone and Momoka has the fastest fingers. Pochi is very much enjoying the party food.

"Is this truly needed?" Shito looks at the festive atmosphere. He can appreciate some of the decorations consisting of multiple figures and signs, things that one would not normally use to decorate a party.

"Lighten up, Shito!" For the first time in a long time Chika is in a good mood. He is filled with hope.

Shito glances at the ferryman who is idly standing around drinking fantan, at least Koyomi isn't the one drinking it, as she is too busy happily preparing more food to satisfy Sotetsu's insatiable appetite.

This is a celebration of their victory, of their survival and a late welcoming party for Sotetsu and Shito. Sotetsu is quite happy eating every dish Koyomi cooks and she is happy that Sotetsu is eating her cooking and likes it. She blushes every time he compliments her cooking skills and even overcomes her shyness and offers small responses in their own special way of flirting.

Though Yomi isn't too fond of men, she had learned to tolerate Sotetsu, however she will not come out when Koyomi is with him, which Koyomi prefers that way anyway. They still need a little practice to control being awake at the same time and it has not happened again since that time.

"Sit down Shito, and enjoy the party!" Shito isn't sure if he should sit down or not, but he knows Chika won't leave him alone. Chika is quite stubborn or it can be seen as being determined.

"Fine," Shito sits down, in a similar way to Chika. He feels a bit silly sitting in a toy horse like the kind that move and play a cowboy song when someone inserts a coin. He likes to collect such things, not sit on them, but Chika is sitting around, slice of cake in hand, eating as if he's sitting on a normal chair.

"That wasn't so hard," Chika grins amused.

Shito decides to turn his attention towards his slice of cake and takes a bite. The cake is sweet; Sotetsu is enjoying a rather large slice of the same cake at the table, Koyomi's smile becoming happier as he watches him enjoy the cake she baked.

"Now call me Chika," Cheerful golden eyes meet with glaring red ones.

Shito is tempted to push Chika off the horse, or smash the cake on his face, but that would be a waste. He would shoot if it didn't actually kill Chika who is alive now. "Akatsuki..." Shito warns him.

"Chika, Chi-ka, is that really so hard?" Chika voices his own name slowly as if trying to get a child who is learning to speak to repeat it, or maybe more in the way one would say a name when trying to teach it to a parrot.

"Don't push your luck, I'm still armed," Shito warns him.

Chika doesn't take the warning, as Shito should have guessed. "Don't kill me Mr. Yakuza," Chika sticks out his tongue if names are all the same then let them be the same.

Then Shito proceeds to waste a perfectly good slice of cake by using it to attack Chika. Chika opens his mouth as if to speak and Shito warns him, "don't say it."

Chika does not listen, "food fight!"

Koyomi tosses her cookies into the air at the sudden announcement of a food fight. Sotetsu catches most of them and mourns the loss of the cookies that were sacrificed so early in battle. Sotetsu is known for his ability to end food fights by eating all the available ammunition.

Michiru, Momoka and Kuze run for cover and hide under a table; they reach out for the food on top of it and launch a counter attack. Pochi is quite happy jumping around and catching thrown food in his mouth. He looks like he's having lots of fun. Yuuta is quite fast in throwing food.

Yuuri cheers and blissfully joins the food fight. Ohtsu glances at Bekko who sips his fantan as if nothing at all is happening, calm expression still present. Then a flying cupcake hits the ferryman on the forehead leaving an imprint of frosting and bouncing off to be caught by Pochi.

"Must we make a mess?" Bekko removes the frosting from his forehead with his finger and eats it, still looking pretty calm in the middle of the chaos. If anyone knows him well enough then it would be possible to notice that the ferryman is actually amused, even if he doesn't make it obvious.

Sotetsu hugs and untouched cake, trying to save it from becoming a powerful missile, as a result he gets the cake all over himself.

'Too bad it's not Chiru chiru...' Koyomi hears Yomi's voice in her head.

'Get your mind out of the gutter Yomi!' Koyomi mentally replies.

'You're telling me? I got the idea from your thoughts of that man...' Yomi argues.

Koyomi blushes while Sotetsu eats the cake. 'He has a name you know, he's not just that man, his name is Sotetsu."

'Fine, avoid the subject.' Koyomi feels Yomi going back to sleep.

Sotetsu notices her bright red face and asks, "are you alright, Koyomi?"

Koyomi nods energetically, "I'm fine!" When she cheers, arms raised into the air, a cup cake lands on her hand. She looks at it and blinks. "Would you like to have a cupcake?" She finally asks, offering the flying cupcake to Sotetsu, it still looks edible enough, and he would eat it anyway.

"Love to," Sotetsu accepts the cupcake his hand brushing Koyomi's, while Yomi sleeps and Koyomi blushes some more.

"Akatsuki..." Shito wonders how he gets himself into these things, but he is still happy to be with his friends and does not intend to leave again. "Look what you caused."

"And for all of that you still haven't learned my name," Chika laughs, he's having fun in the food fight.

The door bell rings and only Bekko appears to notice. He opens it and Carmella enters. She is about to say something about fireworks and the reason for her lateness but first she has to duck as a slice of pizza flies over her head, followed by a lower flying donut that hits Bekko on the back of the head.

Carmella hands the box full of fireworks to Bekko to be kept safe until later, when it's time to light them. She rolls up her sleeves and looks back once at the ferryman who raises his eyebrow in curiosity. "Life is unpredictable, that's what keeps the Wheel of Fate spinning," and with that said, Carmella also joins the fun.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 31

After such an adventure, Shito stayed in Japan. Toho survived, but had his own things to do and unexpectedly let Shito go, he was no longer a zombie after all. Kuze was still the same Kuze and Pochi was as energetic as ever.

The Z-office was not the same... "Zombie hunting!" Yuuri could often be seen bouncing around energetically.

Chika would follow him telling him to stop being loud. He didn't realize he was being much louder.

Momoka returned to her cell phone addiction, but also joined in the zombie hunts occasionally, with Chika always keeping an eye on her and fussing over her safety, only to cheer about how fast she learned to be an illegal zombie hunter a second later.

Shito thought Chika was too moody, he thought Yuuri was too energetic, and he thought Michiru and Zarame talked too much. He also thought it was incredibly obvious that Zarame liked Michiru, even if she didn't seem to notice.

Yomi was temperamental, and Sotetsu was about to be revived, he would have to watch out for her when he did or she might just turn him into a zombie again. Koyomi was quite happy; those two looked very cute together.

Those are the things I saw, and as I recall them, I know I still live in them. I know I'll never disappear, Hope never dies. I watch the world from my own point of view.

I see how Ohtsu is still the same Ohtsu, some never change. I see how Carmella and Bekko often bicker about business, though they tolerate each other much better now, with Kuze acting as the referee.

Nothing is Hopeless, and all can be turned into Hope. It's the way things are, the way they should be. Yuuta, Kenken and Konkon have been in a great mood, though not by debt, the group has returned to Z-loan.

I like watching them, I like it when they call upon me to give them strength, I am Hope, and I will always be with them, this I know for sure. If you hold on to me, I will not let you go, no matter what. If anything happens, I'll be stronger for you, I'll try my best and you need to try your best too. We're a team after all, it's not all me and not all you, Hope and act, Hope and live, Hope and continue. Then I will stay with you. Even if you push me away, I'll try to come back, for I am Hope.

Seeing people such as them, the keepers of Hope, my beloved friends, makes me happy and I reward them with the promise of another great day, the day they Hope for, and as long as they do, that day shall come. Always with you, in the name of Hope, now and forever.


Disclaimer, I don't own Zombie Loan. Written for Snow's challenge at Plot Whole.