Title: In A Lonely Place- Death and the Condor
Author: Sybil Rowan
Pairing(s)/Characters: No pairings, just an Asakura family fiction
Summary: Joe goes back to Purgatory after he has freed his parents, however, they realize that Joe is doomed to stay in Purgatory. Joe lets out his anger and bitterness towards them before they are parted once again. Takes place right after Joe dies in the first series. Sequel to "Love Will Tear Us Apart," but can be read separately.
Warnings: Angst, a lot of religious themes.
Author's Notes: Edited on January 13, 2009. This is an old story of mine; it's actually the second part of a trilogy about Joe dealing with his afterlife and reconciling with his parents. I've decided to post everything and get my old stuff off my hard drive. Most of my Gatchaman fan-fictions revolve around Asakura family angst. I hope to post a lot more.
Disclaimer: Gatchaman and everything related with it belongs to Tatsunoko. Named after a Joy Division song.
Beta Reader: My totally awesome, and totally picky, husband WingedPanther73!
June 21, 1991(2:30AM)/ Word Count= 2,998
Rewritten January 13, 2008
"So. This is it?" Joe asked a seagull circling above his head. He wrapped his arms around his chest and walked over the small sand dune as the sun began to rise.
"Perhaps. Things are still being balanced," a voice thought back towards him. Joe looked over to the lapping waves, before turning his full attention to the small patio where a Sicilian couple sat under an umbrella. They turned towards him and rose; both had stunned expressions. They both ran towards Joe as he began to jog towards them.
"Jogi! Mio figlio," the woman cried out, wrapping her arms around Joe. Joe felt his father sweep them both up in a fierce embrace. "You're safe. Thank you so very much, Dear Lord!" Joe started to laugh as they covered his face with thousands of kisses.
"I love you both, but there is something....," Joe said, letting the tension slide from his shoulders.
"We don't understand how, Jogi, but you did it. Your father and I are free. The three of us will be in Heaven," Katrina interrupted through tears of joy.
"Let's go on," Giuseppe said, guiding his family down the beach with his left arm over his wife's shoulders and his right arm over his son's shoulders. Joe had a troubled expression that matched the churning in his stomach. He hadn't had time to confront them. Now they were all on their way to Heaven.
He heaved a large sigh as a wave of relief swept through him. He hoped the wrath he now harbored towards his parents would stay in Purgatory. Joe was going to fake it until the wrath fell away; he forced a smile on his face that didn't quite meet his eyes. Their smiles disappeared suddenly as a giant wave crashed in front of their pathway.
"Why?" Joe growled towards the sky. "Let us go!"
"No. Things are still in motion in Earth. You must wait a little while longer. Judgment is still being passed on you, Jogori Asakura," a voice intoned in their heads.
"What do you mean? Our son did as he was told," Katrina screamed in outrage. "He comes with us!"
"No. He must wait. You both may stay until sun fall, but you may not stay any longer," telepathy whispered through their heads.
"Then we stay," Giuseppe said simply with calm. The trio sat on the sand. His father turned to him and asked, "Jogi, did something happen before you died? Some reason why you must stay?"
"No," Joe said after looking away from Giuseppe's warm eyes. "I thought that I was still under Grace."
"Yes, but did you commit any type of sin that could keep you in Purgatory? One of the Seven Deadly Sins? If you were under Grace it will keep you from Hell, but if the sin was large enough you may be trapped, Jogi," Giuseppe said with calm while his eyes searched his son's profile. "Did you commit a sin? Think hard."
"Yes," Joe murmured, he still was unable to meet his father's eyes. "I willingly committed suicide. I though I was dying and my friends... it seemed like the only way to end the Galactor threat. You see, didn't remember being in Purgatory before. I had no memory of what really happened to you both up until a week or so before I died. Maybe there was a sin... Not the suicide mission. I had a great sense of clarity and peace about that, but there was something else that troubled me."
"What was it, Jogi? If not suicide than what? If your soul feels burdened, you may have to stay here," Katrina said, clenching Joe's hands in hers. "What do you feel? Didn't you die with a clear conscious?"
"Not exactly, Madre. It's so heard for me to talk about. I wanted to stay to make sure the rest of my teammates were fine, but I couldn't. It's over for me and now it's time for me to be with you. It's time for me to live out my afterlife, whatever it may be," Joe said.
"We can't go without you," Katrina said, gripping his hands tighter. "We won't leave you because of everything you sacrificed for us. How can we? Especially since you found it in your heart to forgive us."
Joe placed his hand on his mother's cheek and forced a smile. Allen and he had talked about what could happen to someone if they didn't go to Heaven after they were released from Purgatory's grip. Hell awaited for those souls that tried to stay behind; he didn't commit himself so totally to avenging his parents for that. He cherished them in spite of the anger boiling inside. His parents had to ascend into Heaven even if he were doomed to linger in Purgatory.
"Madre, don't say that. No matter what happens to me, I want you both to go on. Everything I've done will be pointless if you don't go on to Heaven. I can wait here. My love for you both will sustain me," Joe said, taking his father's hand as well as his mother's. Resentment rose around the edges.
It struck him how he was forever paying for their sins. Taking their place in Purgatory was only an extension of that. He could stay here for the rest of Eternity and not have a way out. This was a place for tormented hearts that hadn't quite finished paying for their sins. He could have been in Heaven; he'd had two chances before now and had refused both to free his parents. Now, when he was free to enter the afterlife, he was bound to Purgatory and separated from them and Heaven anyway.
"Mio figlio, we've put you through enough," Giuseppe said softly, letting the surf drowned out most of his words. Joe stood up and walked a few steps away from them. A line from Voltaire entered his head, 'One owes respect to the living. To the dead one owes only the truth.'
"What's wrong?" his mother asked.
"I need to be alone for a while," Joe said, walking towards the edge of the lapping waves. The icy water washed over his feet; it did nothing to quench the fire erupting in his chest.
He couldn't look at them; he was so consumed with anger. How could they have destroyed his life and claim to love him? He shivered suddenly when he realized what was keeping him in Purgatory. He turned back around and watched them stand with beseeching looks.
"I did commit a sin outside of Grace. When I was here last I started to resent you both for this situation and hold you in contempt for your arrogant ways. I am in the middle of committing one of the Seven Deadly Sins, wrath," Joe said flatly, crossing his arms.
"What are you saying, Jogi?" Katrina asked.
"My conscious is clear about the way I've lived the bloody existence your despicable ways cast me in. The one thing I've never confessed is the fact that I resent every minute of agony that your genius minds put me through. How could you have done that too me?" Joe shouted at them through clenched teeth. "I loved you so much and you were thoughtless with me! I was just a child and you were supposed to care for my well-being first!"
"Jogi, we are so sorry. We didn't think about it until it was too late. You were the reason we were leaving the Galactor. We tried to make it up to you," Giuseppe said numbly. His parents both wore shocked expressions.
"You didn't care about anyone except yourselves! Now you want to apologize for ruining my life and afterlife? It doesn't work that way! Someone has to pay for the sins you committed against humanity! I hate what you did to me! Leave me alone and go on to Heaven because I'll find my own way without you. I don't need you any more. The picture I had in my heart contrasted sharply with what you really are; I finally can accept that," Joe shouted, glaring at his parents.
"Jogi..." his mother breathed, her hands fluttered to her throat.
"Shut up," he screamed at Katrine. His parents halted as they moved towards him. "I never want to think of you two for all eternity. I hate you!"
"Lets talk this out and..." Giuseppe started it.
"I have something you never will have. I have faith in my friends. You never knew what it was like to release your heart in total blind faith. I know my friends will succeed. I know what true love is, and I do love them without having to pay for their sins," Joe said.
They let Joe walk back to the replica of the family home. Joe kicked every slight pile of sand on the way, screaming and cursing. He allowed eleven years of resentment to flow out of him.
Allan had told him once that it was a sin to disrespect your parents, but this was not disrespect to Giuseppe and Katrina. Ken was down on Earth trying hard to finish the work Joe had started with destroying Galactor. Joe couldn't disrespect his friends by risking damnation. He had to make peace with his parents.
He sunk to his knees and fell forward on his palms. The sand was cool and moist to his fingers as they dug in. His burning eyes watered; he no longer fought the tears as they fell to the sand. He drew a large breath and screamed. He clenched his right fist and slammed it against the ground. He wept, sinking flat to the sandy ground.
"Please don't do this," Katrina begged. She took his shoulders and pulled him into her arms. He was unable to do anything except go limp in her arms as his weeping gradually subsided. He swiped his right hand across his face. He sat up; his parents now sat on either side of him. They both wore expressions of shame and guilt.
"I'm still angry with you, but I do love you. I can't just forgive you and go on with my afterlife. Forgiveness is a long term processes. If I stay here in Purgatory, then I can heal myself of this wrath I feel." he said to them.
"How can we go on and leave you when we've caused you so much pain?" Katrina asked.
"You must. It's mine to deal with, not yours. You've suffered for what you've done. Please honor me by going on to Heaven. I could never endure the thought of you going to Hell," Joe said.
There was only the crashing waves and cries of the seagulls as his parents drew closer and embraced him. Joe slowly wrapped his arms around their shoulders and hugged them. Joe drew a deep breath and drew back slightly so he could see their faces, both moist from tears.
"I want you both to go to Heaven now," he said. Katrina looked shocked, but Giuseppe nodded.
"No... no... I don't want to leave you now! There is still time. The sun won't set for three more hours! We'll stay with you until then," Katrina said.
"No, Katrina. We need respect his wishes," Giuseppe said. Joe met his father's eyes and nodded. His father gave Joe a smirk and said, "Your mother doesn't understand what it's like to be a man. She didn't have that time with you during your teenage years where you establish your independence."
"Madre," Joe said. He squeezed her quickly and gave her a smile. "I know we've been cheated out of time. One day I'll be able to spend time with you again. You'll be able to get to know me as a man rather than a little boy. I promise you both, one day I will enter Heaven and I will find you. Today is not that day."
"Please," Katrina pleaded. He shook his head and untangled himself from their embraces. He took their hands and tugged them upwards. He hugged his mother once again. She hugged him back and said, "I love you."
"I love you too, Madre. Please have peace in your heart. You and father made egregious mistakes, but I see how much you regret them. Just give me time, because I thought of you both as perfect. I thought I was avenging the destruction of a pure home. I need time to be angry my revenge was built on a lie. You and Padre were a part of Galactor, not kidnapped and forced into working for them; that can never change. I need to accept that and forgive it. If you love me, you'll go to Heaven and respect everything I've done for you," he said.
"Oh... Jogori... I love you so much," she said, embracing him once again. They parted; Joe turned to his father.
"I will pray you forgive us soon. I want so much for you to find peace," his father said. Giuseppe embraced Joe and then held him out at arm's length by the shoulders. "I love you, figlio. My only regret... our only regret... is not protecting you."
"Please go," Joe said barely above a whisper as he pulled away from his father's hands. He took a few steps back, keeping his eyes on them. He watched them lace their fingers together as their bodies became more and more transparent. Just as they faded away, an incredible flash came from the sky. Then it grew to a normal afternoon. An afternoon on a deserted beach.
Joe turned towards the veranda with a table and umbrella. He sat at the table and looked over the food. It was the same breakfast his mother had made when they were assassinated; the meals were even half eaten. He folded his hands on his lap and leaned back. The gently crashing waves soothed his raw emotions.
His thoughts drifted towards Ken and the rest of the Science Ninja Team. There was no part of him that regretted lying to Ken about his medical condition. He was confident he had made the right decision to attack the Galactor alone. His comfort was knowing he was just in time to stop a worldwide catastrophe by two seconds. The part that nagged at him was not knowing if the rest of the team had made it to safety yet. He lay his forehead on his knuckles and started to pray silently for their safety; it was all that was left to him in this lonely place.
"You will see them again," a voice whispered in his head, interrupting his prayer. His face furrowed as his head jerked up. He looked around. There was no one else on the faux BC Island beach.
"What are you talking about? I died. My body was so full of bullets. Even if I could go back, I only had three more months to live with my tumor. How would it be possible?" Joe said towards the sky.
"It will happen soon. Your love has granted you an early reprieve from Purgatory," the voice intoned in Joe's head.
"My parents," Joe said with assuagement.
"No. For the people you have lived with over the last eleven years," the voice said, startling Joe. "You must vow to serve them for the rest of the life granted to you. During this extra life, you must find forgiveness for your parents. Your incredible faith and love has spared you from an extended torment."
"Thank you. I vow to not waste my time. I will go back and protect Ken, Jun, and the others. I will work on ridding myself of wrath. But why? Why send me back unless Ken and the others will need me in the future?" Joe asked.
"It is true. The Galactor will come again in one year. You must protect humanity," the voice whispered.
"I will do it," Joe said, feeling a resurgence of purpose. This felt different. His new sense of propose was driven by love. His old purpose was for living was revenge and anger.
"You will spend the next forty days and forty nights here. Then you will be released to your new life," the voice said.
Joe rose from his seat and slowly walked towards the waves lapping the shore. He could see the vermilion sun sinking towards the horizon, turning the water a deep crimson. His chest tightened as he remembered seeing his parents' torment the last time he was here.
A slow smoldering sensations started to caress his skin. He noticed he couldn't move any more towards the water or back to the veranda. His throat began to clench shut, depriving him of air. He was able to force out one last scream before his flesh caught fire in the deep black of the Purgatory night.
Joe fell forward on the damp beach as the sun rose above the horizon. His eyes squinted as it brightened his fortieth morning in Purgatory. He clenched sand in his fists as the searing of his skin abated. A smile drifted to his lips as his consciousness faded away into a deep blackness.
His eyes slowly opened when he heard a scraping noise to his right. Stale air started to fill his lungs once again. Joe's blurry vision tracked movement of a person dressed in white.
"Welcome back, Mr. Asakura. My name is Dr. Pandora."