Hikari felt warm and opened her eyes. She was standing in a wide field, just like her dream. The girl looked around. Faint chirping of birds could be heard in the distance.
"Where am I?" wondered the grey-eyed girl.
"You're at the afterlife." answered a man's voice. Hikari spun around. Standing behind her was a couple, a tall man with glasses and a petite woman with a bright smile. They looked like they were in their 30-s. The couple looked really familiar to the girl.
"...Mum... and Dad..?"
The couple nodded and held out their hands. "That was an honorable thing to do, Hikari... "
The girl tackled her parents and buried her head in their chests. Tears streamed down her face.
"There, there my girl... Don't cry... You did the right thing..." said her mother, caressing her hair.
"B-But..." sobbed Hikari. "I won't be able to see them again...!"
"Hikari... do you really miss them so much... that you won't be able to move on?"' asked her father.
The grey-eyed girl looked at him with tearful eyes and nodded hesitantly. "..Yes.."
"Then you better get going!" Her parents said cheerfully and stepped aside. Behind them, a door appeared and opened by itself.
"Huh?" Hikari muttered as she dried her eyes.
"Go, Hikari! Go and meet your two friends before you pass on!"
"Just go! One hour here is one year at the living world. Hurry, before its too late!"
Still confused, the girl did as her parents told her too. Before she stepped into the door, she turned around and faced the couple.
"Thanks, Mom, Dad! I'll be right back!"
23th March, 1 year later.
Two boys met at the park entrance, each carrying some goods with them. The younger one carried a small box of cake with him while the older one carried a bag containing some plastic cups and a bottle of fruit juice. Miharu, now 15, and Yoite, now 17, headed to a place that became very special to them. Together, they went to the sakura tree at the riverside, the place where Hikari died.
The wind blew slowly as they walked, scattering the pink petals all over. Before long, they reached the riverside. There was only one huge sakura tree along the whole stretch of road and that was where the boys were intending to go. The place bared bittersweet memories to Miharu and Yoite for they had laughed and cried there.
After some time, they reached the tree. There was a grave located right under it. Hikari's grave. The boys knelt down in front of it and proceeded to take out the things they brought with them. A small cake and a cup of fruit juice was gingerly placed and arranged before the tombstone.
When it was all done, the two boys clapped their hands together and said a silent prayer.
"Hikari.." mumbled Miharu to himself when he was done. It was then, a blast of wind hit them.
"Did someone call me?" said a familiar voice. The boys looked around at once.
"Oi~! Up here!" They immediately glanced up. Sitting there on a tree branch, was Hikari, smiling away. She had a strange glow around her.
Miharu and Yoite stared at her in disbelief. The girl giggled and jumped down, landing softly on the ground in front of them.
"Aww c'mon...I come back after a year and this is how you guys greet me?" she said jokingly.
"H-Hikari?" Miharu finally managed to blurt out. "Is that really you?"
"Of course I'm me!" she replied, still smiling. The boys studied the girl standing before him. Messy brown hair and grey eyes, that's Hikari alright.
"But...aren't you-" He stopped, trying to find the right word.
"Dead? Yeah, I am..." Hikari said and showed him the palm of her seemed almost translucent. "I just came back to get some things done."
"...And those things are..?" Yoite spoke suddenly.
"Hmm..." The grey-eyed girl pretended to think. "I came back... to do some visiting, I guess.."
The girl smiled and sat down. She picked up a piece of cake and began eating it.
"Would you two care to join me?" she asked between bites and patted on the ground next to her. "We've got alot to talk about."
Miharu and Yoite sat down in front of the girl.
"Here, have some." said Hikari, passing each of them a piece of cake. The boys accepted her offer and enjoyed themselves with the food.
"..So... anything happened after I went?" asked the girl suddenly.
"Your grandparents..." he wanted to say but stopped.
"...They didn't take it too well, huh?" The grey-eyed girl said with a sigh. The younger boy shook his head.
"Anyway... how 'bout you guys? Anything new?"
It took a while for the two boys to tell her everything that happened during the year. The girl's grandparents were still grieving from her death but they are now trying hard to remain cheerful. Miharu was now a third year at Banten Middle School and will be taking his entrance exams soon. Yoite, on the other hand was accepted to study at Banten High School as a second year. The older boy was also working part-time at the okonomiyaki restaurant owned by the Rokujous.
"Uwaa... so many things happened while I was gone..." Hikari gasped.
"...Hikari?" Yoite said softly.
"What... was the real reason you came back?"
The girl was surprised by his question. She stood up and squatted at the edge of the river. She dipped her hand into the slow moving water.
"...What's the real reason huh?" she mumbled and turned to the boys. They were waiting for her answer.
"Promise me you guys won't laugh?"
"We promise.." said the boys together.
"Well...I... really, really missed the two of you... Just the thought of not seeing you guys ever again... I can't bear it..." Hikari turned away to hide her face, afraid she would burst into tears in front of them. "That's why... I came back..."
A faint smile appeared on Miharu's face.
"To tell you the truth," said the green-eyed boy. "We really missed you too..."
The girl turned her gaze towards them. "What?"
"We missed you a lot, Hikari..." said the two boys and went closer to the girl. Miharu hugged her first, followed by Yoite, who's arms were long enough to wrap around the girl and the younger boy. Despite being slightly translucent, Hikari was solid.
"Miharu...Yoite..." the grey-eyed girl sniffled and hugged them back.
"Its nice to see you again..." said Yoite. Even the boys had tears in their eyes and they blinked hard.
After a few minutes of embrace, the three pulled away. They stared at each other in silence, not knowing what to say.
"Ah! I almost forgot!" exclaimed the girl, breaking the silence. She then felt her pockets for something. Finally, she took out a key and handed it to Miharu.
"What's this?" asked the younger boy, studying the key.
"Its the key to my bedside drawer. I want you guys to have what's inside."
It was then, a strong wind blew.
"Eh? My time's already up?" pouted Hikari. The boys gave her a confused look. The girl sighed.
"I guess I need to go back now..." mumbled the girl and stood up.
"Back? Where?" Miharu asked.
"The afterlife..." answered the girl. "But... before that.." she paused and knelt down in front of the boys.
She gave them each a kiss, full on the lips and pulled back.
"I love you, Miharu, Yoite!" she smiled and ruffled their hair.
The boys stared at her wide-eyed. Their faces were red. Then, they too smiled.
"Yeah... I love you too, Hikari.." replied the boys in unison. Hikari blushed. She then stood up once again and headed to the sakura tree.
"Next time... I wanna eat Miharu and Yoite's okonomiyaki!" she said.
"Ah.." The boys nodded.
"Well... I guess I'll see you guys again next time..."
Hikari smiled. And with a final gust of wind, she vanished into the blue sky. The boys looked at each other.
"Had that really happened?"
Only two slices were cut from the cake they laid on the ground. Only two cups were used. Had Hikari actually returned? Or was it just their imagination?
Miharu suddenly remembered that he was holding something in his hand. He opened his fist and found a key in his hands. It was true, the girl did came back.
"Yoite?" the younger boy said, standing up.
"Lets go to Andou Fruitstores... we have an item to retrieve."
The older boy left no questions and followed his companion. After a five-minute walk, the boys reached the place where Hikari called home. They were greeted by the girl's grandmother. They told her what had happened and asked for her permission to enter Hikari's room.
"I see... Hikari came back..." she muttered to herself, dabbing her wet eyes. "Alright, go ahead."
The boys thanked her and headed to the room. They opened the door and proceeded to step inside. The room was still messy as usual. Scrolls and books were scattered everywhere. The two made their way to the bedside drawer. Miharu inserted the key and unlocked it.
Inside was nothing but a thin book. It turned out to be a photo album. They opened the book and studied its contents. There were pictures the three of them stuck on almost every page. They turned to the last page and a piece of paper fell out. It was a picture of them during last year's New Years Eve taken by Hikari. Written at the back of the photo were the words; 'Ichiban no Takaramono'.
Epilogue done! Actually I don't really feel like ending the story yet but...*sighs* -3-
Anyway, thank you for reading! *bows* Hope you guys enjoyed it~