Going back to the office had been all but a mistake. Yes almost everyone had left but those who hadn't wanted answers. Momiji tried her best to answer without breaking into tears but without Kusanagi fielding the harder questions she might not have made it. She had hoped that they might then get to the matter at hand but instead they locked her in a room with Matsudera and her needles since she no longer had a good excuse to avoid it.
My the time that was over with Momiji could have hated the woman, but it wasn't in her nature to hate anyone. She was then told that all of her new belongings had been taken from the apartment and moved to her house. That had been started and completed while she was the guinea pig of the year. The government would no longer be housing her although she could keep what was left on the card they'd given her as an apology for them doing this to her.
Home, she hadn't been there in so long even standing outside it was hard to believe that she was allowed to go back to her own home. She didn't feel as though she belonged here anymore. Well if she did or didn't that wasn't an issue really. She was tired, emotionally drained, and all she wanted was to fall into bed and sleep. Taking the stairs two at a time she turned the handle on the front door and peered inside. The lights were all off except for a glow that was coming from the dining area. Shutting the door as quietly as she could Momiji walked through the kitchen and looked through the door.
On the dining table dinner was laid out with a fabulous display and even two white candles in the center making the room glow. The only thing that marred the picture was Kusanagi with his back to her talking on the phone. Momiji listened quietly.
"Yes i have everything just like you said. Yes, yes, I know Akiko, okay. Thanks for the advice." He hung up the phone and turned around to face Momiji who had her hands covering her mouth while she fought a giggle. She knew better than to think that he'd be able to pull this off himself but it was a wonderful thought. Composing her face she lowered her hands and smiled.
"Kusanagi, you didn't have to." She told him stepping into the candlelight. He had the classic dear in the headlights look but it was rather endearing. Momiji went over to him and placed a gentle hand on his muscled arm.
"Yeah, but it's your first night home. Akiko said it should be special or something." He was trying really hard to act like he'd had no part in it whatsoever but she knew better and gave him a playful punch before going to her seat.
"So what do we have here?" The attention was shifted off him and she knew he felt better that way. Kusanagi listed the dishes making sure she knew they were delivered before they sat down to eat together in their home for the first time in months.
Belly full and even more tired than before Momiji stepped out of the shower and toweled off. She had picked out her old favorite pair of pajamas but when she put them on they practically swamped her. She had to tighten the strings at the waist and cuffs to feel even remotely comfortable. Running a comb through her hair she decided to let it grow out again and not ever use the dye. There was a soft knock on the door and Momiji went over to unlock it. Kusanagi poked his head in and gave her a wry grin.
"I think those are the most concealing clothes I've seen you in for three months." He told her trying not to laugh.
"Pervert." She replied playfully."What's going on?" She opened the door and let him in. His presence sent her into shivers as usual but he didn't come in just stood in the doorway leaning against the frame and looking awkward.
"I guess I just wanted to make sure you were actually still here. I've known that you were okay but you were never actually with me. Ick I sound like a love sick fool." He shook his head trying to make some sense of what he was saying but that tossed his hair into his eyes. Momiji reached up and tucked it out of the way.
"What's so wrong with being a love sick fool?" She asked peering up at him through her lashes. She so wanted to know that all she had been through over the last few months was not in vain.
"I've been one for years but never knew it." He whispered lowering his face to hers and placing a kiss on her nose.
"I love you too Kusanagi." She whispered back.
Kusanagi claimed that he couldn't sleep without being absolutely sure that she was still there so he lay on the floor next to her bed. Every so often he would lift his head and look up at her, she would look back down at him and smile, then he would lay back down and pretend to go to sleep. She couldn't even pretend and as such it took her a very long time to fall asleep. When she did the dream was so startlingly clear that Momiji felt she was reliving a memory.
"It's time for me to rest now until Lord Susano-oh and I are needed again." Kadee's soft musical voice faded as she and the baby Lord Susano-oh disappeared into the light surrounding Momiji and Kusanagi. Those words echoed in Momiji's head until, with a sharp jolt, she realized their meaning.
"Kadee!" She said sitting strait up in the dark. Kusanagi was by her side in an instant looking concerned. Momiji hoped that the information she was about to give him didn't hurt to much.
"I have to call them, Lord Susano-oh and Kadee. If I call them they can help. Only some of the Aragami woke up so they couldn't do anything." She explained poorly while climbing out of bed and rummaging through her clothes to find something suitable and it had to be white.
"So how do you call them, not the Rite of Matsuri?" He asked watching her with that same concerned look.
"No of course not. I can do it using the cleansing rite but I have to go to an Iwatto and the only one repaired so far is the one in Izumo." She finally found her only white strapless shirt and biker shorts. She would have to make the call as a full Aragami not as the Kushinada. She practically threw the clothes on in the bathroom and grabbed her jacket. Kusanagi was fitting his shoes on as she strode to the window.
"What no door?" He asked from behind her with a chuckle. She didn't have a real reason other than convenience.
"Just for you Mamoru." She said throwing up the window and diving out. Honestly she didn't know if she would have the ability to go out the window after this and kind of wanted to do it one last time. The people of Japan were going to need her to be the Kushinada again which most likely meant no matamas.
Flying across the country for what was probably also the last time, Momiji followed Kusanagi in the near dark. The houses and people below her zoomed by but at each spark of light she felt her heart fill with warmth. Despite what she'd been through or maybe because of it she realized that she still loved Japan, it's people and places. If it still came down to dying for them she would be willing to do it in a heartbeat.
As the sun rose over the horizon Momiji recognized the snow covered trees and mountains of her hometown. Izumo looked no different than it had the last time she'd been here but it sure was cold. She shivered in her jacket. The Iwatto drew her like a magnet and she was sure that even without Kusanagi leading the way she would have found it.
The steps to the Iwatto were covered with fresh fallen snow although the skies were clear. They touched down in the clear semi circle just outside and paused. For Momiji it was so she could gather the courage to go inside. Kusanagi was just hoping that he wouldn't lose another Kushinada to the Aragami Lord.
With a deep breath that fogged in the cold air Momiji took that first step and headed down the cold earthen steps into the gloom of below. Kusanagi followed making so little noise that she stopped at the bottom to make sure he was still there. He had an awfully closed expression on his face which, made her want to touch him so she could discover what he was really feeling. HE didn't know that she had that particular talent but she didn't want to invade his privacy.
Once she'd turned the mirror so it would catch the sunlight she took a long hard look at the Iwatto. It was just as she'd remembered it from the cool pool of water to the jagged outcroppings of rock on the walls. The whole thing had been recreated perfectly.
"Well this is it." She whispered to herself hands unfastening her coat almost on their own.
"Are you sure this is something you have to do?" Asked Kusanagi taking the coat from her and placing it near the sun mirror. Momiji turned to face him arms wrapped around herself for warmth.
"If we want the Aragami to go away, yes. Only a few are awake but they can someone others which will be devastating. Even the two of us would be hard pressed to dispatch them all." She looked up at him her voice echoing through the chamber making her words not only louder but more real. Kusanagi raised a gloved hand to cradle her cheek as he looked down on her softly.
"I know I never should have asked. Just promise me, Momiji, promise me that you'll come back to me this time." He whispered lowering his face so that their noses were touching and he could look directly into her eyes.
"Oh Mamoru." She cried throwing her arms around him. She couldn't promise.
The Tokyo Dome was almost complete. At the construction site workers were just beginning to arrive when the ground began to shake violently. At first only light things were effected, coffee cups, hats, keys. But then the cars and trucks were nearly jumping and the extra beams set on the top of semi's were falling off the beds. The men scrambled away as fast as possible. Few realized that the source was not an earthquake but a living tree growing underground twisting up like a snake.
Wanting to stay in his embrace forever Momiji had to literally peel herself away from him and force herself to remove her shoes and socks. Allowing herself one last look back she stepped into the cool water and walked out to the center and took up the bucket that always seemed to float right there. She focused her mind only on the feeling of the water as she poured the first bucket over her head and felt it find it's way back into the pool. As it ran down her body she imagined all the hurt, pain, anger and evil sluicing down her body until it was washed away by the ever pure pool at her feet. She repeated this step until she felt no impurities within her body.
Dropping the bucket she focused her eyes on an invisible spot on the opposite wall and reached inside to call on her newfound Aragami powers. She could feel her skin part as spikes and plates forced themselves through but she gave into the power rushing into it instead of fighting until her transformation was complete. That done she then centered herself psychically and used her enhanced abilities to express her need for help out into the void. After a few long moments she felt a response.
Somewhere along the line she had closed her eyes and opening them she realized that there was a soft glow coming from the water around her. She looked over her shoulder at Kusanagi, he could see the light as well and was shucking his shoes on his way to the waters edge.
The light brightened right in front of her forming a large sphere of blue light and it levitated there for a long moment before separating into two spheres. Momiji could feel the water shift around her ankles as Kusanagi came up besides her and the spheres moved so one was in front of her and one in front of him. There was a flash of brilliant white light, blinding both of them for a moment and when they could see again they found that Kusanagi had changed into full battle form as a reaction to the supposed danger. Instead of danger they faced Princess Kadee who stood before Kusanagi and Lord Susanno-oh who was the full grown man they'd seen but once. Momiji looked up at him awe and wonder.
After the complete destruction of the dome the Aragami quickly moved on to the shipping area near by. This early in the morning there was not many people but the workers were there preparing for the day and setting up booths. The TAC tried repeatedly to contact Momiji and Kusanagi but their attempts failed. They were on their own.
"You came." Breathed Momiji looking at the two who had tried to kill her for nearly a year. She had tried to come to terms with that and had thought she'd succeeded until faced with them in person.
"Yes. We would have sooner but as all the Aragami have not awoken neither could we." Kadee informed them. Lord Susanno-oh nodded looking as omnipotent as ever.
"So how do I put them back to sleep again? I'm not exactly the Kushinada that I was before. My death will not put them to sleep this time." In earnest she took a step forward raw emotion exposed on her face. Looking back and forth between them she could discern nothing.
"There is a way, but it requires and enormous sacrifice on your part Momiji." Kadee informed them sadly.
A long track of broken concrete exposed vines, shattered glass, and one long green bloodstain ran through what had once been the shopping district. As it laid waste to everything nearby it ignored the chunks and pieces that the defense force and the TAC kept trying to take out. The wounds, terrible and jagged, bled profusely for a few moments then regenerated at amazing speeds despite the ferocity of the bombardment. With every passing moment more forces were pressed into trying to take out the monster as it neared the local school of elementary students.
"NO!" Kusanagi yelled so loudly the echo was nearly as deafening as his roar. He jumped over to shield Momiji from Lord Susanno-oh. "Not again!" He startled everyone including Momiji. "I will not let her die for you two again, not when it was because of you that she was forced to last time." He was shaking with anger, more anger than Momiji had ever seen from him and she was touched.
"We promise she will not die, in fact she will be almost exactly as she is now. The sacrifice is the abilities she has gained and she can never call on us again. There will be a little pain but you are no stranger to pain Momiji." Kadee whispered those last few words wrenching Momiji's heart. Kadee hadn't just meant physical but emotional as well. With a soft sigh Momiji laid a gentle hand on Kusanagi's shoulder pulling him to face her and ignoring the feelings coursing through her. He turned reluctantly until he saw her eyes then his hands went out to cradle her face his thumbs rubbing off the tears she didn't remember crying.
"Kusanagi, no Mamoru I'm going to do this, you know I have to. I just want to know that you'll still be here when it's over, that I'll still be worthy of your love." The tears started flowing in full force and her face filled with all the sorrow and longing she'd felt over the years. Despite the armor they both sported he pulled her to him.
"Oh Momiji, how could you have ever not been worthy? I always thought that it was I who had to be worthy of you. What fools we are." She hugged him back then looked up at him closely. She was swept up in a searing kiss before she could say a word and breathless but no longer crying he let her go a few minutes later.
"I promise, I will still be here." He put his forehead against hers and ran a thumb gently over her lips while his eyes traced every inch of her face. She smiled faintly.
"It is time Kushinada." A voice that seemed to be the embodiment of male essence spoke directly into her mind. Momiji looked at Lord Susanno-oh knowing that it was his voice. She turned back to Kusanagi one last time before nodding and moving away from him. With Susanno-oh before her Kadee moved behind her and they joined hands forming a circle with Momiji in the middle.. In that circle a blue light formed sealing her inside. Steeling herself for what she knew was going to happen she turned and looked at her sister then nodded.
Red light in a shimmering sphere formed around them generating a warmth that surrounded their hearts. The warmth quickly grew until it was an excruciating pain that moved from her heart to the skin around her matamas. As had happened last time the matamas began falling one by one but this time it was Lord Susanno-oh who caught them.
With all the matamas gone the pain ceased and the red energy escaped the blue shield and began to flow through out the Iwatto. Amplified by the chamber she felt the energy continue on until it had covered Japan but she never noticed that Susanno-oh and Kadee had let go of each other and it was she who carried on the pulse. Any Aragami caught on the surface was immediately gone and those asleep felt the command to fall into an even deeper slumber and obeyed. Once again the Aragami had returned to their slumber and Momiji collapsed into the water not having enough energy to keep upright on her own. Kusanagi lifted her from the water but her head rolled to the side. She was on the brink of death.
Lord Susanno-oh stepped forward now his hands full, not with the eight matamas he'd caught but just one the same soft green as Momiji's eyes. This he placed on her chest in the exact spot of her very first matama. A green light, the energy embodied by the matama, filled her body bringing life back into her cold limbs and breath to her still lungs.
"It worked." She said breathlessly waking up to see Kusanagi's face. She lifted her head a bit and looked at her sister and Lord Susanno-oh.
"Yes indeed it did." Kadee replied. She and Lord Susanno-oh were already fading. "Good luck to both of you and thank you for the help. We slumber yet again and will see you two again in the next lifetime." She reached out a hand as though to wave goodbye and Momiji reached out her own but her fingers slipped through the air where her sisters had been. A tear slipped down her face.
"Goodbye sister." She whispered then leaned back against Kusanagi. "Mamoru, let's go home." She could barely keep her eyes open while he took her jacket and covered her with it. She was asleep before he could finish going up the Iwatto stairs.
The thwap thwap thwap of multiple helicopters filled the air over downtown Tokyo surveying the behemoth of a tree that was the remains of the last Aragami. Permanently lunging towards the elementary school it would stand forever unable to make it's final kill. Cranes were already moving into place to cut it down that way it couldn't cause further damage as the sun rose behind it in a fiery blaze.
The wind whipped the fabric of Momiji's and Kusanagi's coats making them crack in protest while their owners stood in absolute silence looking at the world before and below them. Kusanagi's arm was around Momiji for more than physical support although she had no more energy than a limp noodle and she rested her head on his chest while they watched. Their shared feelings and emotions filled the both of them as though they were one being, an ability she had thought she would lose. It seemed that Kusanagi had gained something as well.
"Amazing how close it always comes." She whispered telepathically into his mind. He pulled her closer so she could rest.
"We never even knew it was happening." He commented the same way. He was just content knowing that she was safe and the Aragami were out of their lives. Now he and Momiji were the same and yet still different, something they both agreed on with a nod. Through their new telepathic bond they could admit that nothing was going to be the same between them, but they did know that they loved each other and that was enough.
The sun continued to rise and the world changed around them but that one thing would always remain the same.
Good will always oppose evil, and there will always be a sacrifice for those who love all and expect nothing in return.