"When you walk on by

Will you call my name?"

-Simple Minds, "Don't You Forget About Me"

It was only the first week of May, but already summer heat was starting to gather in the small suburb of Washimiya, Saitama Prefecture. Haze tinted the sky into a milky grayish-blue as two girls walked through the cemetery. Once past the gates and away from the busy streets, the only sounds were of chirping birds, wind through the tree branches, and the girls' shoes crunching over the dirt paths.

"So this is Kagamin's grave? Wasn't she cremated?" asked Konata, as they paused in front of a simple granite monument. Tsukasa bent down to water the flowers planted in front of it.

"Yes, but we still wanted a stone for our family plot," said Tsukasa, lighting a stick of incense. "Her name is out here for anyone who notices, and her urn is on our living room shrine with us."

"Convenient for you and her," answered Konata. She noticed the flowers. "Violets and lilacs. Just like her…and you."

"Thanks," answered Tsukasa, smiling. "They were my idea. Did Onee-chan ever tell you violets were our favorite flower?" She then knelt down, closed her eyes, and said a prayer for her twin.

"No, I don't think she ever did…" began Konata. She then let out a gasp at the sight of her newfound girlfriend. Tsukasa didn't look physically different, but…perhaps it was something in her posture, or tone of voice, but she now seemed less like an 11-year-old in a 17-year-old's body. In terms of poise and ability in dealing with the world, she now seemed much more mature than she had been about two weeks ago. Almost as mature in Kagami in some ways.

But was that entirely a good thing? Had Tsukasa's maturity required Kagami's death? Could the advancement of one person only come through the…removal of another who was dearest to that person, like how Kagura had to kill her adopted sister Yomi in Ga-Rei Zero in order to advance as an exorcist? Not necessarily; but for a youngest sister who had shared her entire life with a more self-confident twin and had come to rely on her as a guide, aide, and confidante… Matsuri Hiiragi had been right; it just wasn't right. Or at least not fair. Not one bit.

And it was at that point, pondering this and watching Tsukasa lovingly tend her sister's memorial stone like a true shrine priestess, that Konata fully realized that Kagami was gone. It hadn't entirely sunken in until now. "Tsuka-chan…" she sniffed as Tsukasa finished up. "Tsuka-chan!"

Tsukasa held Konata tightly to her as she sobbed into her chest, running her hands through Konata's long cobalt hair. It wasn't long before she started crying herself.

When their tears abated, the two sat there silently, watching the tendrils of incense curling up toward the heavens.

Konata's irrepressible smile returned. "Welp, the train and the movie aren't gonna wait for us, you know."

"Okay!" answered Tsukasa, taking Konata's hand as they left. A small bird soon landed next to the stone and said, "Poo-tee-weet?"

"…the Diet is expected to vote on this today. In other news, Bin Ohyama, CEO of OBinCo Fuel Refineries, was found guilty by a unanimous verdict this morning of embezzlement and insider trading after a five-month trial. Strangely, his financial misdeeds were revealed during an undercover investigation on extremely faulty management procedures. The investigation was launched following a string of fatal accidents involving company trucks and an explosion at a refinery in Yokohama which killed five workers. Allegations of financial dealings between Ohyama and convicted American lobbyist Jack Abramoff remain uncon…"

In the back of the Hiiragi family's car, on the way to Tsukasa's graduation ceremony, Tsukasa and her sisters cheered the news they had awaited for over a year. Tadao and Miki smiled and looked at each other, but kept their stoic composure. Someone had gone to prison for his misdeeds, but it wouldn't reverse all that had happened. As Tsukasa had told them, fun was fun and done was done.

"The system works," Tadao said. "Thank the gods."

"And now, will the members of Nanako Kuroi-sensei's homeroom class please step forward," announced the principal of Ryooh High School to the families and students gathered in the auditorium.

Tsukasa still couldn't entirely believe it. Not just the fact that she had passed all her classes with flying colors, but that high school was over, and adulthood just around the corner. The perils and the possibilities of college and careers looked like a stormy ocean now, but she had already weathered a rather fierce emotional storm the previous year.

And at least she had someone to share the journey with.

As Tsukasa and her classmates walked down the aisle, she noticed the voices of her family calling out to her from the seats. She smiled and turned toward them to wave back.

Her eyes popped when she noticed, at the end of the aisle, Kagami standing there, smiling and waving in her old school uniform. Next to her was a small, blue-haired woman who could have been Konata's twin sister, flashing a peace sign.

"K-Kona-chan!" gasped Tsukasa, tugging at Konata's robe. "Did you see that?"

"See what?" asked Konata, looking in the direction of Tsukasa's finger. Of course the two figures were gone.

"I'll tell you later," answered Tsukasa. She couldn't say "nothing", of course, because she hadn't only seen nothing.

"Dammit!" groaned Matsuri afterwards, looking at the picture on her cellphone. "I tried to take a picture of you coming down the aisle, but there's this brown blur off to the side! Must've gotten a fingerprint on the lens or something."

"I'd still like a copy, if you don't mind," replied Tsukasa.

And that's it. A bit dark for Lucky Star, but dark is usually my thing. Like I said, I wrote this partially under the influence of Pet Sematary, and also of an excellent Azumanga story called "Control", which is in my favorites if anyone's interested. Yes, I highly recommend it. Warning: it's long, and pretty graphic (lots of sex and drugs, but not really and rock and roll), but taut, meticulous, and witty. I'm big on writing style and one thing I can say is the style of that story is something I usually try to aim for (I don't think I quite make it). Anyway, I thank you for reading and hope to see you again sometime in the future, whether in reviews of your stories, PM's to those of you who really impressed me and whom I'd just like to communicate with, and perhaps future stories. I may even put out some independent creations on Fictionpress. Ciao for now!