Wings of Desire

A Pita Ten Fanfiction

By KazunaPikachu

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Lesson 5: How to Love and Let Go

-x-

He loved her.

And that was a solid fact.

He didn't know why it took him so long to figure out. He was happiest when she was around; he felt saddest when he was alone. He realized he actually liked the fact that Misha only had eyes for him, although he acted annoyed at times - it was his secret, guilty pleasure. When Misha hugged Takashi all those weeks ago - it seemed like an eternity now - he now understood why his heart suddenly twisted. He also knew why he was so annoyed with Toya, so resentful of him and his interactions with Misha - deep down, he thought he was going to take her away from him.

And he was right. Toya did take her away. The thought made him angry, hateful, and Kotarou found himself cursing the very existence of that angel. He couldn't help it. He knew that Toya only did it to protect Misha from himself, that it was only in his best interests for her, but Kotarou still couldn't resist hating that indigo-haired, green-eyed angel. He couldn't stop. Because no matter the circumstances, Toya had taken Misha away from him - and in the same process, ripped out his heart.

Kotarou continued with his dark thoughts for awhile, not noticing how the time went by. The day before, he'd woken up in Shia's apartment, on a futon, after he blacked out after his fight with Nya - Klaus, as he said. When he woke, Shia explained that although she and Klaus had looked all over town for them, they couldn't find either Misha or Toya, not even Sasha. When he heard this, Kotarou had put on a strained smile and left them, retiring to his own apartment. He'd been in his room, with the curtains closed and bathed his darkness, ever since.

For once, Kotarou was glad that he was alone, glad that his dad was away on a business conference a couple of states away. If he was alone, he could brood and sulk and glower all he liked without people around him to frighten or be annoyed with. He liked it. He liked being alone.

And it was such an awful lie.

Kotarou sat up, the blankets falling down to his waist. He wore a single T-shirt, white, and it was slightly drenched with his sweat. Although it was autumn and the weather outside was cool, inside his room with all his windows closed and curtains drawn, it felt both suffocating and bleak. Kotarou liked it. He didn't want to feel any warmth, he didn't want to be happy.

Another lie.

Frustrated with himself, he stood up, kicking his pillow and his blankets and his futon. He wanted to hit something, anything - he wanted to let all his energy out. But there would be no point. It wouldn't bring Misha back to him - it'd probably make Toya think she had to stay away from him even more.

Toya, he seethed, his being filled with hate once more. Everything began to go wrong ever since he arrived. Why was that? He never had random blackouts, never attacked Misha in his sleep, never tried to kill her when he wasn't around. Toya, it seemed, was the source of all his problems.

They tried to take her away,the voice in his head said. They did take her away. They took her away from me.

I need to get out, Kotarou thought, taking in a deep breath in order to calm himself, to ignore that voice he hated more than anything, more than Toya. It didn't work. I need to get out. I need to get out and find her. He figured he'd stalled it for long enough. Before, he was too heartbroken and scared to even try and find her - what would happen if he did? Would he go beserk again? Would he try to hurt her? But he wanted to see her - badly - and nothing else seemed to matter anymore. If Misha was with him, then everything would be fine again. These dark thoughts swirling inside his mind would disappear. If she could hold him, if he could touch her, then he knew, he knew - he'd be safe.

(But would she?)

He put on his pants and shirt, and after a brief argument with himself, he snatched his coat from the coat rack and slipped it on, buttoning it up. He walked out of his apartment, careful not to alert his neighbour of his movements, and hastily made his way downstairs. But where would he search first? If Shia and Klaus couldn't find her, how was he supposed to? Where would Toya hide her? Where would Sasha go?

Away from him. That's where they would've taken her. Away from him.

Kotarou clenched his hands and gritted his teeth but continued to march on, eyes set and steely.

He searched all around town, at the parks and at the restaurants. He didn't bother checking at Koboshi's or Takashi's places - Misha wouldn't be taken there. He searched and he searched, searched until his feet were aching and his stomach grumbled. But he wouldn't stop. He ignored the weary way his eyes drooped, ignored how, every time he looked at his reflection in a window, there would be dark bags beneath his eyes; he ignored the ache in his heart, ignored the pounding in his brain. He ignored the buzz of noise in his ear, that dark, dark voice that whispered, Misha… Misha… Misha… He continued because he knew, once he found her, only then would he be able to truly rest. Only with her.

Only with Misha, the girl who loved him with her entire heart. Only with Misha, the angel who would always, always watch over him and keep him safe. Only with Misha, the one he loved yet tried to kill.

Kotarou stopped. He stopped and looked up, realizing that he was in front of a shrine in a deserted area of the street. Numbly, he thought, what was love?

He couldn't stop thinking about her. He was happiest when he was with her but he was also saddest when she wasn't around him. Love was bittersweet and he didn't know whether or not the despair and misery he was feeling was worth it - was Misha worth it?

Misha is worth it,the voice sneered at him, intensifying his headache. Kotarou winced. Misha is worth more than anything breathing in heaven, earth and hell.

Kotarou continued to ignore it. Instead, he remembered her eyes, so wide and innocent and full of love. He remembered her smile, so full and open and delicate - so vulnerable. He remembered her touch, her embraces, the tender way she always acted whenever she was around him. He remembered how every time he felt down, every time he felt like he was utterly and completely alone, she was there - she was always there.

And then something cleared. As he gazed at the shrine, the dark thoughts that haunted him suddenly began to lighten. He smiled sadly. What am I doing?

Why was he searching for her? Why was he out here, seeking her out? Why was he trying to find her?

Because he loved her.

And because of that, he had to stop.

He needed to. Because he would hurt her if she was near, would try to harm her if she got too close. Misha was always there, in the background, waiting for him and smiling. If he found her, he might… might… Kotarou closed his eyes. He might do the unthinkable and because of him, because of his selfish need to see her, to touch her, she would disappear from the background - her smile would disappear. And that, more than anything else, would wound him to the point of no return.

He needed to stop.

Misha is safer away from me, he thought with growing clarity. If I try to find her, I'm only being selfish and putting her in danger. I need to go back home… and try to forget about her.

He knew that would be impossible. Yet he had no choice. He either suffered by himself or endangered her life - he couldn't do the latter again. Never again. He never wanted to hurt her again.

Because she was more important to him than anything, even himself.

No!the voice in his head hissed. No! You need her! We need her! Go! Find her! Find her and keep her! Don't let her get away!

Kotarou pinched the bridge of his nose. Suddenly, all the hatred he felt for Toya disappeared, all his blame and all his jealousy and all his rage went away. Because he knew that Misha loved him, he knew it, so why would he feel insecure? He realized it then. It's you. All these thoughts, all this anger and possessiveness… It's all you, isn't it? It had to be. Because love wasn't a negative emotion, wouldn't provoke a negative emotion. The things he'd been feeling… it couldn't have been his feelings. Maybe slightly but not so intense, not so drowning. He disliked Toya for taking Misha away from him but he understood why he had to. The hatred he felt towards him wasn't his own. From the very beginning, even before he met Toya, the random feelings of negativity weren't his. The hostility he felt towards Misha before wasn't even his own. You're… he realized. Even though you claim to need her… You're the one who wants to hurt her.

And it was in that moment of pure clarity that he felt that special presence standing behind him.

"Kotarou-kun…!"

He immediately stiffened and the voice in his head suddenly silenced. He turned around and there she was, wearing her usual black and purple dress. She looked unharmed - Sasha must have healed her - and there was such a bright and happy smile on her face that it broke his heart to see it.

"Kotarou-kun!" she yelled, jumping up and hugging him tightly. "Kotarou-kun! Kotarou-kun!"

Kotarou didn't return her hug, didn't allow himself to feel her warmth and the happiness he suddenly felt. Instead he focused his eyes on Toya, who had stood behind her, and his eyes grew colder. "Why did you bring her back?"

His tone, so harsh and angry, surprised both angels. Misha stepped back, letting her arms fall by her sides. She noticed the way Kotarou looked at her so icily. "What's… What's the matter…?" Misha stammered, extremely confused and hurt. She shook her head and grinned, opening up her arms to him. "It's alright now, Kotarou-kun! It's okay, su! See? I'm perfectly finey wine! We have nothin' to worry about anymores!" She stared at him tenderly, adoringly, like he had done nothing wrong. "We can be together again… su."

The sudden glee Kotarou felt inside of him was not his own. He continued to stare at Toya, completely avoiding Misha's loving gaze. "Why did you bring her back?" he asked again. It took all he had to keep on standing. The roaring of the voice in his head and just the thought of intentionally pushing Misha away threatened to make him buckle. "You know it isn't safe for her to be around me. Take her away. Take her away and don't ever come back."

"Kotarou-kun!" Kotarou tried to ignore the broken look Misha was suddenly giving him. "What are you saying? Kotarou-kun, what's the matter with you?"

Finally, Kotarou faced her, and when he did, he almost caved. She was so perfect, so good. Too good for someone like him. "Nothing's the matter with me," he forced himself to say. "I just grew up, that's all. We can't keep fantasizing about this, Misha-san; we can't keep ignoring it. You're in danger if you hang around me so it's best if you stay away." He mustered the coldest look he ever gave anyone. "Besides, I don't need you anymore."

And when she heard him, she looked absolutely shattered.

They stood there in tense silence, Misha beginning to cry silently in shock and disbelief, while Kotarou wanted to cry himself. Toya, glancing between the two, finally locked eyes with Kotarou. The warrior angel, his heart filled with grief and sadness, nodded slightly in understanding. "Let's go…" he whispered, reaching out to grab Misha's shoulder. "Let's get going, Misha-chan."

Too numb with pain to react, Misha didn't notice as Toya placed a firm but gentle hand on her shoulder.

But, apparently, the voice in Kotarou did.

NO!

Kotarou recoiled, as if struck, and he fell to the ground with a painful groan.

"Kotarou-kun!" Forgetting her initial hurt and washed with concern, Misha moved forwards, reaching out towards him. If it weren't for Toya's firm grip on her shoulder, she would've reached him. "Let me go!" she screeched, glaring at him tearfully. "Kotarou-kun needs me! He needs me!"

Toya's lips were pressed together grimly. "No, Misha-chan… I think he needs you."

Misha turned to look towards Kotarou again but he wasn't groaning in pain anymore. Instead, he was standing, his eyes shadowed by the fringe of his lavender hair. "Kotarou-kun?" she asked worriedly.

Kotarou lifted his head and captured Misha's eyes. "Hello, Misha," he whispered eerily, voice darker than she remembered. He gave a sort of smile that she couldn't decipher. "Misha, my angel… Would you like to go out with me?"

The angel-in-training gasped, covering her mouth with her hands. Her tears fell down more rapidly as she shook her head. "N-No…" she muttered, staring at him with tormented eyes. "I-It can't be…" She recognized that quirk of a smile, that angry yet passionate look in his eyes. "Ko… Kotaroh-kun…?"

"Kotaroh?" Toya repeated sharply, glaring heatedly at Kotarou.

Kotaroh laughed mirthlessly and waved his hand. "Yes, it's me, Misha." He smiled warmly but it didn't reach his eyes. "Aren't you glad to see me?"

Misha was so twisted up inside she wondered whether or not she'd faint. "K-Kotaroh-kun, you shouldn't… you shouldn't be here," she said, letting her hands drop by her sides. "Where is Kotarou-kun? Please, Kotaroh-kun, please bring him back. You don't… You're not meant to be here."

"Not meant to be here?" Kotaroh repeated bitterly, narrowing his eyes and losing his smile entirely. "Not meant to be here? Misha, I thought you'd be happy to see me! I thought you'd be flying with joy! Aren't you glad that I'm alive?" He gave her what almost seemed to be a tortured look. "Aren't you glad that we can be together again?"

Misha shook her head, feeling her heart breaking. "Kotaroh-kun… please understand," she pleaded. "You're dead. Su. You committed suicide. You don't belong in this world anymore - you're not alive. Kotarou-kun… Kotarou-kun is meant to be here… not you. I'm… I'm sorry."

"You should be sorry!" he screeched. He took a threatening step closer. "You were going to leave me, Misha! You were going to leave me all alone in a village that hated me! Alone with people who wanted me gone, who wanted me dead! How could you, Misha? How could you?"

The angel-in-training continued to shake her head. She quickly reached up and grabbed her ears, not wanting to hear him. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she repeated, crying heavily. "I didn't want to, Kotaroh-kun! I didn't want to. But they ordered me to stop, 'cause humans and angels weren't meant to-"

"I didn't care!" Kotaroh interrupted bitterly. "I loved you enough not to care about those stupid rules! Obviously, Misha, you didn't - don't - feel the same way!"

"Stop it," Toya cut in before Misha could apologize again or try to explain herself. His tone was cold and his eyes were narrowed. "If you really are Kotaroh, then you're not meant to exist. By reincarnating into Kotarou Higuchi, all memories of your past life should have been erased. The fact that you remember, the fact that you still live inside of Higuchi's soul as a separate entity, means you've materialized into a dark being, a demonized ghost." He opened up his palm and his spear materialized in front of him. "And my duty as a warrior angel… is to destroy you."

Misha's eyes widened. "No, Toya-chan-"

"As if you can," Kotaroh snarled. Suddenly, he advanced forward, his eyes narrowed viciously with dark intent. Toya shoved Misha out of harm's way and pointed his spear forward, the sharpened end glowing red with angelic energy. But before it could pierce straight through Kotaroh's heart, the young boy narrowly stepped to the side and reached forward, grabbing Toya around the neck. Using his forward momentum, Kotaroh slammed Toya down onto the cemented ground, hands beginning to choke him.

"W-What-?" Toya gasped, clawing at Kotaroh's hands, his spear dropped uselessly away from him.

"Surprised I can touch you?" Kotaroh grinned maliciously. He leaned forward and hissed into Toya's ear, "Didn't you know? Even though I possess a human body, my soul is no longer human. You, being an angel, have no physical body, and so is just a mass of energy, just a soul. Your soul and mine…" He smirked darkly. "Because neither of us are human, our souls can kill each other."

Toya rasped, feeling himself dimming out, seeing black spots obscuring his vision. Misha, realizing what was happening, gave out a horrified cry and ran forward. Without hesitation, she grabbed Kotaroh's shoulders and tried to pull him back.

"Stop it!" she cried. "Stop it, Kotaroh-kun! This isn't you! This isn't you!"

Abruptly, Kotaroh let go of Toya and spun around, catching Misha by surprise. He now held her in an embrace and, although Kotarou was usually shorter than Misha, she felt as if he towered over her. "How do you know…"he whispered quietly into her ear, pulling her closer. "How do you know… That this isn't who I really am?"

Misha sobbed, finding that she couldn't push him away. "I know because my Kotaroh-kun wouldn't wanna hurt another person. Never, ever, ever." She gasped in surprise when she felt his lips brush against the underside of her jaw. "B-Because he was gentle and kind. I know 'cause in his heart, I saw that he was full of good things."

Kotaroh tightened his arms around her and Misha squirmed in discomfort. She wasn't returning his embrace for once. "Misha…" he whispered softly, adoringly. "… The only one… who didn't see me as a monster." Then the tenderness left him and he suddenly grabbed Misha's jaw, making her look at him square in his eyes. "But you tried to leave me anyway."

"I'm sorry," Misha whispered. "I'm sorry."

"Sshh, it's alright," Kotaroh hushed, wiping away her tears with a thumb. He smiled at her. "It's okay now, because you're with me. They tried to take you away, Misha. But they can't, you see? We're meant to be together, just you and I. They can't separate us, not ever." There was a mad gleam in his eyes and they hazed over until Misha could no longer predict what he'd do even if she tried. "Because you're my world, Misha. Even though you were going to leave me, I forgive you. Even though you couldn't save me, I forgive you. Why? Because, Misha, I love you. I loved you then and I love you now… and we can be together, forever, I know it. This time… it'll work."

Misha shook her head, this time trying to get away from him. He wouldn't budge. "No, stop, please," she said. "Let me go. I don't want this." She stared at him tearfully. "… I want Kotarou-kun back… Please… Give him back."

A stormy rage ignited inside of him. "Kotarou is me and I am him!" he yelled at her. "We're part of the same soul, Misha! Deep down, he wants this too. He wants to be together with you, no matter what the cost." He finally let go of her and started taking off his coat. "You're not going to leave me this time, Misha,"he swore. "This time, it'll work. It'll work."

Misha backed away from him when he suddenly stepped towards her. "Give him back…" she whispered. She shook her head and yelled, "Give me back my Kotarou-kun!" She continued to step away from him, retreating further towards the shrine. "No matter what you say, you're not Kotaroh-kun anymore! Kotaroh-kun is dead - and turned into Kotarou-kun, who's so sweet and kind and warm. You… You're not him! You're not him because you want to hurt me!"

Kotaroh's gaze blackened. Something inside him twitched. "Sometimes…" he said slowly, "Love can be harsh, Misha. I'm only doing this so we can be together freely, without anyone trying to take you away from me."

"No! You don't love me! Love is pure and full of warmth!" She continued to cry heavily as she retreated. "I feel none of that from you!"

Another twinge.

"If we both die like this," Kotaroh continued coldly, "We'll have to be reborn as humans. You, not being a full fledged angel yet, means that you can die." He grinned bitterly in memory. "And those who die don't necessarily go to heaven or hell, now do they?"

(… Stop it…)

"As for me," Kotaroh said, "Well, this boy, Kotarou, hasn't really done anything wrong, has he? Only me, and I'm only a 'separate entity' as that stupid angel called it. So if I - we - die, Kotarou won't go to hell and certainly he won't go into heaven. So he'll be reborn into a human again - and wherever his soul is, I am, because we are one and the same, our will is one and the same."

Misha took another step back and tripped on the shrine's steps. She landed on her back and stared fearfully as Kotaroh neared her, holding out his coat.

(… You… Stay away from her…)

Kotaroh laughed. "And so, when we're reborn again as humans, there won't be anything anyone can do to stop us from being together. You won't have to leave me anymore." He stared at her with unreadable eyes. "And I won't have to be alone."

It must have been something he said, or something in his gaze, but suddenly, Misha was staring at him with wide eyes, as if she was just seeing something new, as if she'd just realized something important. Suddenly, she slumped, no longer tensed, and she stopped trying to move away from him. She looked up at him with such a sad resolution that Kotaroh hesitated.

"… I'm so stupid…" she muttered. She smiled up at him, although it didn't reach her eyes. "I yelled at Sa-chan before… that she wasn't actin' like a full-fledged angel cuz she was trying to keep me from saving you… I said that what she was doing was selfish, because she was stopping me from going to you 'cause she was scared of losing me. I'm a hypocrite, Kotaroh-kun… I'm a hypocrite."

Kotaroh stared at her in pure confusion and slight wariness. He didn't say anything, waiting for her to finish before he finally ended her life.

(…. Keep away from her…!)

"But an angel wangel's job is to make a human happy, right?" She grinned at him. "And you were once a human too, Kotaroh-kun, and I failed at my jobby wob. But now I can redo it again, actually make you happy this time. Because an angel's job is to save a human in crisis, no matter what the cost." She opened up her arms to him in welcoming warmth and acceptance. She smiled at him - actually smiled at him - and said, "I'll make you happy, Kotaroh-kun… even if it means that I have to die." She closed her eyes and tried to look like she was fine with it - obviously though, she wasn't, and it was written all over her face despite her efforts to hide it. "Because it's my job as an angel. Su."

Kotaroh blinked. A moment passed in silence before he smiled serenely. "… I knew you would understand… That's my Misha."

He finally reached her and kneeled down, wrapping his coat around her neck tenderly. He kissed her softly on her forehead. He ignored the way her body slightly trembled, how he could actually smell her fear and sadness and grief, and promised to her quietly, "Soon, Misha… Soon."

And as he was just about to tighten the coat around her neck and suffocate her, Kotaroh was suddenly hit with a massive headache. He stumbled back and growled, gripping his head madly. STAY AWAY FROM HER! a voice inside him screamed. STAY AWAY FROM MISHA-SAN!

"K-Kotarou…" he snarled, stepping away from Misha and hunching over in pain.

"Kotarou-kun?" Misha asked, surprised. She hastily stood up, throwing the coat to the floor. "Kotarou-kun!"

You stay away from her, Kotarou demanded furiously. You monster! Stay away from Misha-san or I'll pulverize you!

Who do you think has the most power here? Kotaroh snapped back. Although he was in dire pain, he knew that Kotarou must also be hurting too. It was always a two-way thing, the communications between their soul. You're weaker than I am!

I don't think so! Kotarou said. I understand it all now! Everything! Whenever I truly felt happy around Misha-san, and she left, you'd always try to control me, because you were scared of her leaving you again! You wanted to stop her, because you missed the warmth she gave to us, didn't want her to leave! But it never worked, did it? You could only control me when I was unconscious! That's why you always waited until I passed out from the pain before you took over and tried to hurt her!

So what?the ghost retorted. I'm stronger now, can't you see? I took over even when you were conscious.

But I'm taking my body back now, Kotarou declared firmly. Because I won't allow you - me - to hurt Misha-san anymore.

But WHY? You want to be with her just as much as I do! I can see it! If you let me do it - kill her - then we'll be together with her!

That's not guaranteed, and you know it. And I won't ever risk her life for a gamble. I won't risk her life for anything. You… Kotaroh… If you really did love her, you'd understand what I'm talking about. But you don't, do you? You're only obsessed with her because she was the only one outside your family who didn't treat you like a freak. You don't love her, Kotaroh. I do.

Kotaroh snarled viciously. LIAR!

And Misha did love you, Kotaroh. She must have. But you're not the Kotaroh she remembers anymore. You're something dark and twisted, so unlike the Kotaroh that she knew and loved. You're not him. You're only that part of him, that desperate part of him, who wanted to be with Misha so much that he did the forbidden - he killed himself, even when he knew Misha would suffer for it. How could that be called love?

Shut up! You're nothing but a dirty, filthy liar!

"Kotarou-kun?" Misha asked. Tears continued to stream down her face but her eyes were full of hope. "Kotarou-kun, are you there? Please, Kotarou-kun, come back to me!" She reached her hands out, as if wanting to hold him, even in his conflicted state. "Please…"

See? Kotarou whispered. She's suffering even now. Just let her go. Learn to let her go, for her own good… Because I have to learn how too.

"No!" Kotaroh roared. His crazed eyes focused on Misha and she flinched back from the intensity of his gaze. "I'm not letting you go! Not ever!" To her shock, a tear slipped from his eye. "Misha… You're my world."

And then he violently reached out, as if to grab her neck, and she gave out a cry of surprise. However, some force inside of Kotaroh made it so that he only roughly grabbed her shoulder, jarring her harshly. "Please, Kotaroh-kun…" she said, staring imploringly into his eyes, searching for him. "Kotarou-kun… I'm scared."

And it was that look, that look of fear and desperate searching, that made him shatter. Because beneath all that negativity, all that fear and terror, was that unending love, that full devotion and adoration and complete compliance. Despite everything that was happening, her eyes played witness to the emotions of her heart - that, no matter what happened, even if they wronged her, she would always love them, unconditionally and without doubt. She'd do anything - anything - if it really made him happy.

Because that was what Misha was. An angel so full of love that she was willing to give up her life in order to make the one she loved happy.

And that's all she ever wanted, wasn't it?

A selfish angel… who just loved too much for her own damn good.

Misha's eyes widened. "… Kotarou-kun…?"

Kotarou stared back at her, eyes tender and mild, a sad, sad smile on his face. "Oh, Misha-san…"

Her eyes widened even further and her lips began arching up in a smile. "Kotarou-ku-!"

But then Kotarou's head jerked upwards, as if struck from behind. They both glanced down and saw the tip of a glowing red spear protruding from his heart. He looked at Misha, watched as the pure horror crossed through her face, and he dropped his eyes. Without another word, he collapsed to the ground, the pain so great that he felt numb.

The last thing he heard before he felt as if his soul was tearing apart, a searing pain that drowned out absolutely everything and made his sight go black, was the loud, shattering cry of, "KOTAROU-KUN!"

-x-

Kotarou blinked his eyes open. He was in his room, at his own apartment, on his futon. The curtains were drawn and the light spilled into his room gently, softly, casting a tender light that chased away the darkness from before. The clock by the wall was ticking noisily in the otherwise silent apartment. Effortlessly, Kotarou sat up and touched his chest, above the skin where his heart was. He didn't feel anything, didn't feel any pain. There wasn't even a bandage covering it.

Was that… he thought, rubbing his eyes, a dream?

If it was, he couldn't remember much of it. What was it about again? He let his hand drop and looked around, the room completely bare of anything living other than him. He felt quite numb. What am I…?

He shook his head and stood up, letting the dizziness he felt disappear slowly. Once he determined that he was okay to move, he began to slowly stumble towards the door. Why did he feel so mentally and physically drained? He reached the door and stepped out of his apartment, the outside just as silent and empty as it was inside. Puzzled and nostalgic, Kotarou made his way next door and lifted his hand to knock on its surface.

But before he could do so, he stilled.

Who lived here?

He remembered tender eyes, light lavender in colour. He remembered pink hair and a gentle smile. Frowning, Kotarou touched his head, rubbing it slightly. Where… he thought, Where is Misha-san?

Misha-san?

He felt so out of it, as if he wasn't really quite there. But why? Why were his thoughts so unclear? Misha-san would know, he hummed to himself. She would fix it. She always fixes it.

So he knocked.

"Higuchi-san, what are you doing?"

Kotarou slowly turned and stared at the indigo-haired youth in front of him. His name… His name is… "Toya-san?"

Toya stood there calmly, regarding the young preteen with unreadable eyes. "… What are you doing?" he asked again.

"I'm going to see…" Kotarou hesitated and touched his head again, feeling a mild ache of confusion. "I… I want to see Misha-san."

"Why?" If Kotarou noticed how Toya's eyes darkened, he didn't show it.

"Because…" He looked at the transparent angel with an expression of perplexity. In his state of drowsiness and absence, he answered, "… Because Misha-san is a… special friend of mine. I want to see Misha-san because… I wonder… if she's alright." He smiled slightly. "I want to see her because it makes me happy when I can see her smile."

Toya observed him for a few more seconds and Kotarou suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if he was trying to look into his very soul. Finally, Toya's gaze softened and that soft smile he was familiar with was suddenly on his face. "Misha-chan is inside," he informed Kotarou softly. He placed a hand on Kotarou's shoulder firmly. "You're a good boy, Kotarou. A very good boy."

And then he vanished, just like that, without another word.

Too confused by the angel's behavior to really react, Kotarou turned and opened the door. "Misha-san…?"

"Kotarou-kun!"

And when he gazed upon her smile, her serene expression and glowing eyes, everything became clear and everything came back to him, all in a single, exhilarating rush.

"Misha-san!" Kotarou launched himself forward and into Misha's awaiting arms. He couldn't help the tears that cascaded heavily down his face. "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! I'm glad you're okay, Misha-san! I'm glad you're okay!" He closed his eyes and simply held her. Softly, he whispered, "So glad…"

"Tee hee hee," the angel giggled, returning his embrace eagerly. "I'm glad you're okays too, Kotarou-kun! You had me really worried there, and I thought I was gonna have a heart attack! Su!"

Kotarou looked up and stared into her eyes. "What happened?"

"Toya-chan speared you, Kotarou-kun." When she said this, her eyes went a bit sad, a bit angry, but the emotions passed on quickly and she was happy again. "But not to worries! It didn't really hurt ya! It just… It just…" Her expression went sad again and she looked away from him. Then she turned back around and beamed at him brightly. "It just allowed Kotaroh to rest in peace, su! Rest in peacey weace. Now Kotaroh-kun won't be hauntin' ya anymore, cuz the memories that attached that part of him to your soul have been erased from your heart!" She hugged him tightly. "So everything's okay now, su. Everything's okay."

"What…" Kotarou frowned, "was Toya-san?"

"A warrior angel… An angel who vanquishes evil spirits and such, su. Let's 'em rest and stuff like that."

Kotarou felt himself sigh with relief. It was over. It was finally over. … No, he thought, removing himself from Misha's embrace. No, it isn't. He wiped away his tears and defiantly glared into Misha's eyes, just like he used to. Misha stared back at him owlishly. "Don't you ever, ever, sacrifice yourself for anything," he heard himself say angrily. "Don't you dare even think about it, Misha-san! No matter what you think, no matter what anyone else says, you can't give yourself up like that! You're worth more than that, more than anything!" He was yelling now, painfully recalling that time when Misha was willing to let herself be killed if it made Kotaroh happy. "Your safety… Your wellbeing… Your happiness… is worth more than mine. So don't ever do that again, Misha-san. If you do, I'll never forgive you. Never."

Misha looked at him and smiled sadly. She drew him closer to her again and hugged him. "Okay, Kotarou-kun. Okay."

But Kotarou knew and Misha knew it too. She would do it again if the situation called for it – she would sacrifice everything, even her life, for him. She would do it – because she knew he would do it too.

"I love you, Misha-san," Kotarou said into her shoulder. "I love you."

"I love you too, Kotarou-kun," she said sincerely in reply, her eyes closed.

Kotarou also squeezed his eyes shut, feeling his tears falling again. He held onto her tighter. "I know."

He understood now, the type of love she had for him – it was pure and bright, complete warmth with no shadows, never flickering. The love an angel would give. His love, however, was different. He loved her, but he craved her touch, wanted her to stay, to be with him forever, even though it would jeopardize her chance of being a true angel, even though it may endanger them both. His love, he realized, was a human-type of love, something that can be as warm as an angel's but unintentionally selfish. If he wanted to love her like she loved him… then he should be able to let her go.

But because he was human, because he was mortal and had his flaws like any other, he didn't want to.

And that was a battle Kotarou would have to face every day.

Kotarou pulled back and smiled at her warmly. "I'll help you, Misha-san. I'll help you become a full fledged angel like you really wanted."

Her eyes widened and she grinned at him widely. "Ah! Ah! Would you really, Kotarou-kun?"

"Of course," he scoffed. He let himself hold her hands tightly. "Because that's what'll make you happy, Misha-san."

She cocked her head to the side and stared at him thoughtfully. "But that's not right, Kotarou-kun. Turnin' into a full fledged angel won't make me happy – making you happy will."

Kotarou smiled. "And I want nothing more than to see you smile, Misha-san. I want nothing more to see your dreams come true."

Misha, after a brief moment, suddenly beamed, happy tears in her eyes as she embraced him again. "Thank you," she whispered in his ear. "You've grown up so much. Thank you, Kotarou-kun."

Kotarou patted her back. "You deserve it, Misha-san. You do."

He knew it would be painful to watch her go - he knew he'd curse himself for helping her leave him. But it was okay. As long as she was happy, he was okay. If he could create that smile she was giving him right now, he could never regret anything. He didn't need anything else from her – didn't want anything else. She would always watch over him in the heavens, always be by his side, he knew it, and that was alright with him.

That was what made him different from Kotaroh. He took into account Misha's own happiness.

Because she was his world – and what a bleak and miserable place it would be, if his world didn't shine like her smile.

-x-

End Lesson

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KazunaPikachu