This is the last chapter of the story. I hope you enjoy the burial, flashback, weird song and not so ordinary ending. ^_^
At the beach, Takuya was holding a vase where Zoe's body is cremated and placed in a container for burial.
It was dim, starlit. Nighttime. There were so many stars. Takuya wondered why he wanted to bury Zoe's bones at the beach. There were no black obstructions. Just stars and stars and stars. . .
Zoe friends were there: Koji and Koichi, Ashley and her high school friends. Even their parents. They stood in a ragged line on the salted water.
Thank you, Takuya recognized the sweet voice of Zoe as the wind fanned his face.
Then the priest started talking:
"Let us turn our slick blacks
To the wind. Close our ears
To the funereal din. Someone
Muffle please the clapper, let this
Toll be one of silence.
We've no want of joy today.
"Let the flowers not bloom,
Nor the moon wax heavy.
Let the skies stay mauve grey
Let the rain be our baptism.
Please let's not speak of heaven
There is no comfort to be found.
Permit us to believe that it is not he
We lowered to the course and heavy
soil. Let us know his soul took flight.
Put away the polished silver
Pack up the fine china.
Leave the clocks unwound
Remove the ribbons from your hair.
One of us has died.
"Who would like to leave Zoe a message, anything just to take it with her."
Koji stepped forward.
"Zoe is a cheerful person. I miss her delivering about our appearances and our inner qualities behind us. She's a good person that no one has ever had."
They watched Koji toss a handful of Zoe's ashes into the ocean. Ash scattered from his fingers, falling to the sea.
He went back to stand beside Koichi. Koichi moved away from him, stepped forward.
"I remembered when somebody comes up to her walks away validated as a worthwhile human being. And then I realized that day, she's made of so many wonderful things." Koichi threw his handful of ash.
Ashley stepped forward.
"I was very lucky I met Zoe as my best friend. She is one of a kind." She threw her ash.
Takuya walked forward, and Ash smiled peacefully once as they passed each other.
" Zoe not only saved my life — she taught me everything about life, hope and the long journey ahead. I may not see her, but I can feel her." He threw his handful.
After the cremation
Takuya, Koji, Koichi and Ashley decided to stay at the beach after Zoe's burial.
Takuya stared at the shining and twinkling stars.
"I feel like an idiot as I could not grant Zoe's ambition to witness a miracle before she died," Takuya cursed under his breath.
Koji put his hand on Takuya's shoulder. "You finished college."
"And saved Zoe's life," Koichi added. "If it weren't for you, Zoe wouldn't be able to rest in peace."
"At least you get to see Zoe one last time."
"Zoe did see a miracle," Ash remarked.
Takuya glanced at Ash.
"It. Was. You." She smiled with a friendly smile.
Takuya glanced at his friends from the corner of his eye and thanked them.
"Take care, Takuya," Koji said indifferently, nodding at Koichi.
"See ya," Koichi waved a goodbye.
"I know Zoe's very proud of you," Ash whispered as she hugged Takuya.
Takuya closed his eyes. Feeling the cool air brushed his skin.
In the starlight, he looked at his side, he remembered how he developed his feeling toward Zoe when they were sixteen:
Smart of Takuya to have a place like this. Sure, it wasn't going to be fun to sit in a cave all day. Takuya kept going through a narrow crevice in the rocks. It was black as ink in there. Safe. The cave was no more than a small hole, burrow about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, though not as tall as that. Zoe could taste the fresh air coming.
"Nice place," Zoe said.
Takuya smiled. "Better than the meadow you took me with."
"I can't argue with that. Um. Thanks."
They looked at each other in the dark for a minute. His face was smooth and calm.
There was an awkward silence for a minute, and then he made a subject.
"You've done really well since you got here," he said, his eyes sweeping across her crossed arms, her folded legs. "You've survived—avoided the wrong kind of attention, kept intact."
She shrugged and then yanked her left t-shirt sleeve up to her shoulder so he could see the thin, ragged line that circled her arm.
"Got this from those bullies three months ago," she admitted.
Takuya smiled wryly and touched his right knee with one finger. His dark jeans covered the scar that must have been there. "It happens to everybody."
"Ouch," she said.
He nodded. "Seriously. But like I was saying before, you're pretty decent vampire."
"Am I supposed to say thanks?"
"I'm just thinking out loud. You're the kind that I should be looking for—the smart ones—not just these stupid gang-bangers that Kevin keeps bringing in."
"Hah!" she laughed. "I remembered when you helped on my first day of school. Then you treat me a burger, 'Want a burger, kid?'"
Takuya laughed at the burger line. "You act like a kid."
"Damn, as if you're not immature."
They laughed together again. Weird.
"I don't think I've laughed like this before with anybody since I met you," he said, echoing her thoughts. "This is nice. You're nice. Not like the others except for Koji, Koichi and Ashley."
"What happens when we graduate?"
They sat in silence, pondering this. Zoe mostly thought about how much he didn't know. And why hadn't she thought worried about everything she didn't know before now? It was like talking to Takuya had cleared her head. For the first time in three months, school was not the main thing in there.
The silence lasted for a while. The black hole she'd felt funneling fresh air into the cave wasn't black anymore. It was dark gray now and getting infinitesimally lighter with each second. Takuya noticed her eying it nervously.
"What if there are ghosts in here?"
"Don't worry," he said. "It won't hurt." He shrugged.
She scooted close to the hole in the floor, where the water was disappearing as the tide went out.
"Seriously, Zoe. I've been down here before. I told the twins about this cave—and how it was mostly filled with water, and they said it was cool when I needed to get out of the madhouse. Anyways, do I look like I'm lying?"
Zoe hesitated. His eyebrows rose, waiting for answer. "No," she finally said. "But. . ."
"Look," he said impatiently. He walked swiftly to the tunnel. "Nothing."
Zoe nodded once.
"Relax! Do you want to see how far I can go?" As he spoke, he walked farther into the tunnel and darkness ate him.
"Don't Takuya." He was already out of sight. "I'm relaxed, I swear."
He was laughing—she wanted to go after him, to grab his foot and yank him back, but she was frozen with stress. It would be stupid to risk her life to save some total stranger. But she hadn't had anything close to a boy. Already it would be hard to go back to having no one to talk to.
"NO," he called, his tone teasing. "Wait. . .is that. . .? Ow!"
Zoe ran through the tunnel then a hand hugged her shoulders. His face was right there, inches from hers.
She flinched back from his proximity—just a reflex, old habit.
"Funny," she said dryly, moving away as they walked back to where they sat.
"You need to unwind, girl. I've looked into this, okay? There's no such thing as ghosts, goblins and monsters."
"You're probably right. Imaginations."
He hesitated for a minute, as if debating whether or not to tell her something.
Then Takuya—rolled to his knees and started clawing into the limestone above his head. Tiny stone shards filled his hair, but he ignored them.
"What are you doing?"
He dug with both hands until he could stand upright, and then kept going.
"Ah, here we go."
He ducked back down to where she could see his face, with a rose in his hand, white and fresh. She gave it to her.
"I don't know. It's the last one. All I know is that it grows here four days a year only."
Zoe tossed it back. "Not interested."
"I'm not asking you out. I'm just giving it to you as a gift of a friend." He lobbed the rose to her; instead of catching it, she batted it back.
He snagged it out of the air and groaned. "You are so. . .superstitious!"
"C'mon," she said uneasily. "This is silly."
Takuya held the rose in front of Zoe dramatically, arm extended.
"Just take the rose, simple."
Zoe was totally frozen.
"Fine," she grabbed it then she smiled her mysterious smile.
Takuya smiled at her. "I'm really glad you came tonight."
"Don't get all gooey on me now."
"What? You don't want to be"—he widened his eyes and his voice went up an octave—"BFFs?" He laughed at the goofy expression.
Zoe rolled her eyes, not totally sure is he was making fun of the expression or of her.
"C'mon Zoe. Be my bestest bud forever. Please?" Still teasing, but his wide smile was natural and. . .hopeful. He held out his hand.
She went for a high five, not realizing until he caught her hand and held it that he'd intended anything else.
It was shockingly weird to touch another person after a whole life. Like touching a sparking downed power line, only to find out that it felt nice.
The smile on her face left a little lopsided. "Count me in."
"Excellent. Our own private club."
"Very exclusive," she agreed.
He still had her hand. Not shaking it, but not exactly holding it, either. "We need a secret handshake."
"You can be in charge of that one."
"So the super-secret best friends club is called to order, all present, secret hand shake to be devised at a later date," he said. "First mission: Getting Koji a girl friend.
His eyes were on hers as he spoke, wide and sincere. There was no change as he said Koji's name.
"Add this to the list," she said. "Agenda. Why is Koji wears a bandanna?"
"Bulls-eye. That's exactly what we've got to find out. But first, I've got to show you something.
"The word makes me nervous."
"Trust is an essential part of the whole secret club gig."
He stood up in the extra ceiling space he's just carved out and started digging again. In a second, his feet were dangling while he held himself up with one hand and excavated with other.
He pulled himself higher into the hole he was making, and the dirt continued to rain down. He was going to fill in his hidey-hole at this rate.
Zoe slid most of the way into the escape tunnel just her fingertips and eyes above the edge. Takuya had to be close to the surface.
"Please stop, Takuya," she whispered, knowing he would probably laugh, knowing he wouldn't listen.
She waited unmoving.
"Almost. . . ," he muttered. "Okay."
Takuya dropped back down while it was still dark. In his hand he had a long root, a thick snaky thing that was almost as tall as her. He gave her an I-told-you-so kind of look.
"I'm not a completely reckless person," he said. He gestured to the root with his free had. "See-precautions."
With that, he stabbed the root upward into his new hole. There was a final avalanche of pebbles and sand as Takuya dropped back onto his knees, getting out of the way. And then a beam of brilliant light—a ray about the thickness of one of Takuya's arms—pierced the darkness cave. The light made a pillar from the ceiling to the floor, shimmering as the drifting dirt sifted through it.
"Amazing," Zoe commented.
"But wait. . .there's more."
Then Takuya was out of the hole, and she was next half a second later. They stood on a small patch of wild grass, only a few feet from the trees that covered the island. Behind them, it was just a couple of yards to a low bluff, and then the water.
"Wow," she muttered.
Takuya grinned at her, his face beautiful, and suddenly, with a deep lurch in his stomach, he realized that the whole BFF thing was way off the mark.
His grin softened a little bit into just the hint of a smile. His eyes were wide like her. He touched her face, the way he'd touched her hand, as if he was trying to understand her light in her eyes.
"So pretty," he said. He left his hand against her cheek.
She's not sure how long they stood there, smiling like total idiots.
Takuya snapped back to life then he realized he was at the cave he and Zoe used to share when they were in high school years.
Nothing change. The cave is still the Super-secret ninja club used to live.
Takuya nodded with a smirk on his face. "Super-secret ninja clubs do sound way definitely cooler and better than the whole BFF thing."
Then Takuya scanned the cave: Zoe left a few books on the floor while Takuya left a few cases of CD's. They also added a few stuffs that came in handy. A few pieces of crumpled paper were scattered which they used to write their problems, procedures, observations and missions.
Takuya noticed an unfamiliar CD. He picked it up and read the writing on it.
To my Takuya.
Takuya quickly drove his way back home and played it inside his room. He was relieved that nobody's home for he likes to be alone for now.
I'm sorry if it took me sooo long to finish our song. This song is about us, if it isn't obvious, Takuya almost laughed on the song part. So here goes nothing.
Takuya recognized Zoe's singing voice playing at the CD:
Your sky seems so cloudy
I can barely see a single star
Your eyes become teary
And find yourself hiding in the dark
You are not alone
Someone's here to play your song
Take my hand
We'll fly to the sky
Close your eyes, I'm at your side
Tomorrow's gonna be just fine
Thanks, Takuya. It's not just you came back as you promised. It's because you gave me the reason to live that I only realized now. I love you. Be happy.
Takuya smiled widely to the last words.
Four Months Later
Takuya, Ashley and the twins were hanging out at a nightclub, celebrating Zoe's birthday.
Ashley says, "This is an amazing day—three cheers for Takuya!"
Takuya is now a very successful engineer at his company.
The four put up a raucous chorus of hurrahs like a bunch of happy drunks.
"Zoe would've been very proud of me, trust me, I know," Koji called to Takuya.
"Okay, let's do the dance people," Koichi said.
"I'm cool. I'll taste the music later," Takuya insisted.
Be happy, Takuya hasn't heard the sweet voice of Zoe's for a while. He simply grins then continued what he was doing.
A few long seconds later, a young woman walked was sitting on a chair, thinking on what to order.
Takuya stood and sat near the blonde woman. He studied the woman's perfect face. Her features were as the same as Zoe's. The eyes, lips, nose, hair.
"Um, can I help you?" Even the voice.
"I'm sorry, you look somebody I know," Takuya quickly apologized. Embarrassed.
She nodded. Then Takuya decided to make a conversation.
"Are you related to the Orimoto's?" he asked hastily.
"Um, no. Why do you ask?"
"You remind me of a friend of mine."
"Are you a newbie?"
"I just moved here two weeks ago."
Takuya laughed at the joke. "What's your name?"
Takuya's heart beat raced. "Weird. Because my friend's name was also Zoe."
"So where is she?"
"She's gone. But don't worry, I know she's where all good people are."
"So it's very nice meeting you. I gotta go," Zoe stood then Takuya caught her hand pulling her back to her seat.
"But wait. . .you just got here."
"I don't feel hungry anymore."
"Is it because of me?"
"Of course not," she chuckled. "I—"
"I would like to walk you home."
"Hmm. . .suit yourself."
"Yes!" Takuya hugged Zoe as if they've known each other for so long.
"Your weird," Zoe grinned her mysterious smile.
"Zoe used to say that to me," Takuya smiled widely. Feeling a new faith and hope.
Hahaha. . .Takuya ditched his friends! I think. . .O_o? This just came in: TAKUYA MET A YOUNG WOMAN WHO LOOKS LIKE ZOE. Well, this is awkward, this happens to me a lot. Many people tells me I look like this and that girl. I hope you enjoyed the last chapter.
I was planning to make a sequel to this story. Okay. . .I'll put it up to a vote. Don't forget to read/review and visit my profile so you can vote. Tell all of your friends okay? HAPPY HOMEWORK-FREE WEEKEND!