White Space

SPOILERS FOR THE FINALES OF DOGU-CHAN AND DOGOON V AHEAD!

I actually thought of this story around the first of the new year, but I decided to delay publishing it until now.

The story takes place two years after Shouta and Doji-chan are separated, and one year after the very last scene of Dogoon V. Here, Shouta holds a unique and bittersweet White Day celebration. White Day is a Japanese holiday which falls on March 14. On that day, men give gifts to women who had previously given them chocolate the previous month, on Valentine's Day. One of my previous stories, "White Day Blues," has a more detailed explanation of the holiday.

Takeru Kobayashi is one of the most renowned competitive eaters in the world. Among his most storied accomplishments is his string of six consecutive wins at the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championships held annually in New York City.

A magatama is a curved, often comma-shaped, bead, first appearing in the Jomon period of Japan and remaining popular with the ruling elite for centuries afterwards. Doji-chan wore a necklace with three white magatama for most of the run of Dogoon V; when she powered up into her ultimate form in the finale, her necklace had four magatama, each one a different color to represent the other members of the Dogoon Five. A torii is a traditional Japanese gate found either at the entrance of, or within, a Shinto shrine.

Kodai Shoujo Dogu-chan, Kodai Shoujotai Dogoon V, all characters, and references therein are the property of the Mainichi Broadcasting System. No infringement is intended or implied.

Under the star-sprinkled night sky, Shouta crouched in the courtyard of the townhouse with a trowel in his hand and stared at the mini-shrine that had been set up there. Can't believe it's been two years, he thought. Two years since my heart went to the end of the universe with her. He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a small white box. He opened it to take one last look at the contents, a silver chain from which dangled a small silver puffed heart pendant. Shouta smiled. He knew that a lot of people would think that what he was going to do with the pendant was a waste of time and money, but he didn't care. Yuzou would probably have understood, but Shouta still decided to wait until after his father had gone to bed before slipping outside. Putting the lid back on the box, he set it on one of the nearby large rocks and began to dig a small hole in the dirt in front of him, the very spot where he had first encountered Doji-chan.

The day Shouta met Doji-chan had completely turned his life upside down. It was already more than he had bargained for to have a ridiculously adorable and clingy apprentice youkai hunter latch onto him his very first day in the townhouse, but to have four more apprentice youkai hunters, namely tough girl Doro-chan, voracious strong girl Doka-chan, nurse Dore-chan, and hippie dreamer Dori-chan, enter the picture was beyond ridiculous, and it definitely didn't help matters when Dogu-chan, who the others addressed as Sensei, showed up soon after. The idea of six cute girls in bikinis taking up residence in the same house with him would have been a dream for many young men, but for Shouta, it seemed to be the beginning of a nightmare when Doji-chan and the others moved into the altar room in the back of the townhouse. The first few days with the sextet had been extremely trying; Doji-chan nearly burned down the kitchen trying to cook the pink substance that apparently passed for the group's sustenance, Doka-chan had gone through the entire weekly budget on additional food faster than Takeru Kobayashi through a pile of hot dogs, and Doro-chan's training sessions for the girls were exhausting for everyone in the immediate vicinity. At least Dogu-chan was eager, if not overly so, to bring the Hot Pants down on the Dogoon Five if things got a bit too lively.

Life did eventually mellow out somewhat, and Shouta found that he cared for the six youkai hunters, particularly Doji-chan, much more than he thought he would. It wasn't completely a surprise about Doji-chan, considering that he was more or less bonded to her from the start, but what he hadn't seen coming was his falling in love with her. He couldn't remember when it started, but he had begun to daydream about her regularly. The musings about what it would feel like to hold her hadn't fazed him much, but it was when he'd begun to catch himself lying awake in bed fantasizing about sharing his first kiss with her and about making love to her that Shouta realized that he had fallen hard. Despite Doji-chan's fervent attachment to him, however, Shouta found himself silenced by the fear of rejection, unable to reveal his feelings to her. Even on the day that, in order to save the world, he had no choice but to send Doji-chan, Dogu-chan, and their new friend Magu-chan to the farthest reaches of the universe, he was still unable to muster the courage to tell Doji-chan how he truly felt. All he was able to tell her was that living with her and the others had been the highlight of his life. When, with tears rolling down her face, she told him that they would be back, the closest he could come to declaring his love was, "Let's live together… together forever and ever." The look on Doji-chan's face, however, seemed to indicate that she understood the sentiment behind his words, as she nodded and thanked him… and then she, Dogu-chan, and Magu-chan were gone, sucked into deep space.

Since that day, Shouta threw himself full-bore into his studies, working towards his Bachelor's degree in archaeology. When he wasn't studying or going on trips to dig sites all over Japan, both to fulfill degree requirements and to help Yuzou with his own research, Shouta tried to escape the quiet that now permeated the townhouse by attempting to participate in more social activities around campus, and even allowed his friends to set him up a few times with girls that they knew. Despite all that, however, his frequent thoughts of his days with Doji-chan, Dogu-chan, and the rest of the Dogoon Five caused him to rapidly lose interest in the campus activities, resulting in his dropping out from them, and the dates his friends had arranged were ultimately fruitless, because although the girls he had been introduced to were nice, Shouta didn't feel a connection with any of them. In fact, he soon realized that the only reason that he went on those dates was to imagine that he was going on a date with Doji-chan. Knowing that doing so was unfair to the young women he had been set up with, he would politely end the dates early to avoid raising their hopes that they would have any sort of future with him.

Having dug a hole in the dirt to his liking, Shouta picked the box up from the rock, wrapped it carefully in a faded blue washcloth, and placed the bundle in the hole. Taking care not to disturb the bundle too much, he spooned dirt around it with the trowel until it was completely covered. Shouta finished burying the tiny parcel and smoothed out the dirt. Still crouching next to the patch of dirt, Shouta whispered, "Happy White Day, Doji-chan." He felt a lump in his throat render him speechless, and he felt tears forming in his eyes. He sniffed before he spoke again, "I suppose White Day doesn't mean anything to you, and I shouldn't expect it to. It's something we celebrate in these times. I think it's kind of silly… or used to think it was. White Day is when guys give presents to girls who gave them chocolate for Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day is another one of those silly holidays that we celebrate; girls give chocolate to guys that they like, and on White Day, the guys give them presents back.

"I know you didn't give me any chocolate, and that's okay. I wasn't expecting any, for obvious reasons. Do you even have chocolate where you are? Anyway, I…" Shouta shifted his glance skyward in a vain attempt to stem the tears that were now flowing freely from his eyes. "I haven't stopped thinking about you since that day. I don't know what I was so scared of then; why I couldn't just say it. So I kind of hope that this makes it up to you. It's not much, and I don't even think you'll actually get it, but I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say here. I… love you, Doji-chan. I always will." Shouta stood up and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. Smiling as he looked at the spot where he had buried the necklace, he turned to go back into the townhouse.

o-o-o-o-o

The following evening, Shouta sat on the steps of the altar and took his harmonica out of his pocket. The instrument was identical to his old one, which was now wrapped in a cloth, along with Doji-chan's copy of My House magazine, and sitting on the shelf in his bedroom. Ever since that day two years ago, he found himself unable to play his old harmonica, since Doji-chan had been the last person to touch it before he picked it up again. Cloudy spots on the chrome marked where her tears had fallen as she had played it, and Shouta's refusal to wipe away or otherwise disturb those spots was the impetus for him to purchase the new instrument.

Shouta raised the harmonica to his lips and began to play "Danny Boy." He had played it many times since Doji-chan had gone, hoping against hope that it could possibly bring her back to him, almost like how Yuzou had returned from being trapped in interstellar space. One time the previous year, he had thought he felt Doji-chan's presence behind him as he sat on the altar steps and played his harmonica. He knew that he shouldn't have expected her to be there, but he had still been crestfallen when he turned to see no one behind him. He continued to play "Danny Boy," letting the tears fall freely until he couldn't concentrate on playing anymore. He pulled the harmonica away and closed his eyes, desperately trying to will the tears away. A sudden gust of wind blew outside, which Shouta found strange, because the breeze seemed to swirl from within the courtyard. He stood up and looked outside. That's weird. How can there be wind in the courtyard? As if in answer to the question he was thinking, the faint sound of what sounded like Doji-chan's giggling seemed to ring in his ears. Shouta, hoping against hope, rushed out of the altar room and into the courtyard. Again, he knew that he was expecting too much, but that didn't lessen the hurt of finding himself alone. Shouta sat on the large rock next to the torii in the courtyard and sighed. Only then did he notice that the earth where he had buried the silver heart pendant had been disturbed. Could Dad have…? No, he doesn't even know that I did that… does he? His curiosity getting the best of him, Shouta dropped to his knees and began to dig with his hands.

Finding that the box that he had buried was gone, Shouta was about to go ask Yuzou if he had dug it up when his fingertips brushed against something soft that wasn't dirt. Shouta dug into the surrounding soil and extracted a packet that looked like it was wrapped in some sort of ancient fabric. His heartbeat sped up as he tried to unwrap the packet as carefully as he could. When the material fell away, Shouta gasped at what lay inside: a carnelian pendant strung on a slender leather cord. His hands shaking, Shouta gently lifted the pendant up and examined it closely. The pendant was made of two magatama fused together facing each other, forming a heart shape. Tears blurred Shouta's vision as he held the pendant to his heart. He looked up at the night sky as he looped the leather cord over his head. The twin magatama pendant rested, appropriately enough, over his heart. The air around him suddenly churned slightly. Shouta's first thought was to shiver, but the air felt warm and comforting, so he instead closed his eyes and let the warmth envelop him. The breeze swirled around him, feeling not like just air, but like a pair of arms wrapping themselves around him, and Shouta's eyes opened with a start. Still seeing no one, he clutched frantically at himself, wishing the embrace was truly as solid as it felt. "Doji-chan?" he whispered. "Doji-chan, are you here?" Shouta was positive that he heard the dulcet tones of Doji-chan's voice. This time, instead of just giggling, however, her voice faintly echoed, "Thank you, Shouta-san. One day… we'll live together forever and ever…" With that, the wind began to decelerate, and Shouta swore that the gentle arms slowly spiraled away from him and soft lips bestowed his with a feather-light kiss before drifting away. "Wait… don't leave yet… Doji-chan, please… please stay with me a bit longer…" he begged. He hung his head and sighed. Instead of feeling despondent, however, he felt strangely buoyed. She came. I don't know how, but she came. Someday, she and the others'll be back for good; I know it. Shouta stood up and dusted off his hands. Looking up at the sky, he gently closed his hand over his carnelian heart pendant, smiled, and whispered, "Thank you, Doji-chan. Yes, one day… we'll be together again… we'll be together forever."

I know; really farfetched, but the idea of ancient youkai hunters slumbering for centuries before being woken up in modern Japan isn't exactly an everyday occurrence either. ^^;;; Not only that, but if Dogu-chan could be resurrected for Dogoon V after she died and crumbled away in Makoto's arms…

Many, many thanks to m'honey's colleague Ishikawa for providing a translation for pertinent parts of the series finale! I so appreciate it. I hope you like the Sculpey chibi. ^_^

This story is dedicated as a birthday present to Shogo Suzuki, the actor who played Shouta in Dogoon V. Tanjoubi omedetou, Shogo-kun! Anata wa watashi no reikan! (Happy birthday, Shogo-kun! You are my inspiration!)

It's also dedicated to anyone who will have to spend Valentine's Day apart from their Valentine. I hope that you will be reunited soon. ^_^