So warm. And my body… It feels so light, so strong, and so easy to move in. But… Where am I? The world is so clear and bright, now… It's beautiful. The color around me is like nothing I've ever seen, almost like it's not quite real. Oh… I was with my friends a moment ago…
Then I understood. My last thoughts had been "I can't wait to see you again, Ageha-kun." And finally, my wish had come true. I was at the Pearly Gates, so to speak. Although the feeling coursing through my body was like nothing I had ever felt, at the same time, I was terrified. I remembered how weak I had been for most of my life… How cowardly and honorless.
"Hey, Saku-chan…" Came a gentle voice from behind me. It was the voice that I had longed to hear for fifty-five years, the voice of my beloved.
"Ageha-kun…" I said, standing up and turning around. He looked just like he did so many, many years ago… He looked like a man of maybe 20 years rather than a man of 35 years as he was when he died. I didn't know. Did all souls look as though they were in their prime after they died? He seemed to sense my question.
"Take a look for yourself, Saku-chan…" He said gently, pulling a mirror out of his pocket, and handing it to me. I looked in it and saw that I, too, was 20 years old again, as I had been back when I first started working for Asuka as an intern, back when Psyren was still fresh in my mind, rather than a distant memory.
"Unfortunately, I was sent here to judge you, Saku-chan. I've been given pretty strict instructions not to show you any leniency just because you're so damn beautiful. Let's see…" Ageha said to me, looking serious all of a sudden, and pulling out a clipboard.
"Sakurako Yoshina… Daughter to Akira and Momo Amamiya… Psionicist human… Main Psi, Trance Type, Mind Jack. Mother to Miroku and Nana Yoshina, wife of some douchebag named Ageha Yoshina… I hear he went and died on you… Give him a good beating for me, too." Ageha continued, winking slightly at me. This made me laugh. He still had that sense of humor that I loved about him. "Let's see. Lived to age 90… Hm… Long life… Determined to be a good parent, though you had some major problems after your husband died. I feel for you, but slapping your baby girl around in a drunken, semi-suicidal rage is a big no-no all the same. I see you changed your life around after that. You never remarried… Why not?" Now, instead of looking businesslike, he seemed inquisitive. His eyes were filled with curiosity, but more than that, with sympathy.
"I-I couldn't bear the thought of being unfaithful to Ageha-kun…" I replied, tears filling my eyes. "I owed him my life. If he hadn't come and saved me in that wasteland, I would have died that day, all alone, with nobody even to mourn my passing."
"I'm sure he would have understood…"
"No! I always have loved, and always will love only Ageha!" I said firmly. At this, Ageha smiled brightly, and blushed slightly.
"Such flattery from such a beautiful woman… He should feel very lucky… Well, I've pretty much gone over your life. I guess I just have one question I'm supposed to ask." Ageha said gently, cupping my cheek. Even all these years later, his gentle touch sent a tidal wave of sensation through my body. It was like I was in the embrace of an angel.
"I promise I'll answer as best I can…"
"I'm sure you will. Do you feel that you deserve to be allowed into Heaven?" He asked. It was such a blunt and straightforward question. I wasn't entirely sure how to answer it. Had I lived a good enough life? No. Did I feel that I had lived a good enough life… The honest answer was no.
"I don't." I replied simply. At this, Ageha looked surprised.
"Really?" He asked. "You're certainly allowed to say that you should be. Nobody would hold it against you."
"No. I haven't lived a good life. Everything I am, everything I was, was a lie."
"What do you mean?" Ageha asked, looking at me with the sympathy that one would show a crying child. I felt so small before him, and yet, I wanted him to hold me again, and make me forget all of my pains, all of my fears, as only he could.
"I'm so weak, Ageha-kun… From the time I was 11 years old, I started to realize that my parents didn't feel anything for me. I allowed myself to sink into despair. That despair didn't really change much for years after that, and once you came along, I became lazy. I saw no need to affect a change. You were my strength, and that was all that I needed. It wasn't until you died that I realized how truly weak and pathetic I had become. All of the weight that you had been holding up all those years came crashing down on me, and I tried desperately, struggling day in and day out to hold up that weight. It crushed me, and I ended up becoming the worst sort of person. What kind of parent would ever hurt their own child like I did? After that, I managed to gain some of my own strength, but I never was as strong or as confident as you were. I always envied you. Even as I loved you with all my heart, I wished that even once you would show even a tiny bit of the hesitance that I felt… I was never a good person. I only pretended to be so that you wouldn't hate me. I really am the worst…"
For a long time, Ageha said nothing to me. But then, slowly, a smile came to his face, and I saw small tears forming in the corners of his eyes, those crystal clear eyes that reflected the whole world as it really was. He was a man with the power to see through deception, and for that, I loved him more than anything. He had already seen that weakness in me, and loved me in spite of it. I was indescribably content in that moment. Even if my answer had damned me to Hell for eternity, I was happy.
"Such an honest answer. Your honesty is admirable, Saku-chan. That was exactly what I was hoping for. I should see if I can find everyone. That way, I can tell them you passed."
"What! But I just said…" Sakurako began. Ageha cut her off, though.
"I know. The point of the question was to see if you were honest enough to admit your weaknesses, not to see if you had any. Humans by their very nature are weak. It's only in admitting our weakness that we become strong. You did your best, and that's all we could ask of you."
"We?" I asked curiously, looking around to see if maybe God was there, or some other person.
"Oh, right! There's some people who want to see you! Hey, guys! You can stop hiding now! She already passed!" Ageha shouted, and one by one, Ageha's sister and her husband, Matsuri-sensei, and Kagetora, Tenjuin Elmore, and a person who must have been Koper Elmore, all came out and smiled cheerfully at me. I couldn't believe it. Everyone had come to greet me. I could feel my eyes stinging with tears and my nose twitching… That is, until Matsuri-sensei rapped me playfully on the head.
"Don't cry!" She told me with a loud laugh, taking a swig of booze as she did so. Apparently, she was even an alcoholic in heaven. I couldn't help but laugh at this.
"Just smile and say 'nice to see you again!' That's all you have to do!" Matsuri said to me. I sputtered for a moment. I couldn't help it. I was so shocked to see everyone again, and more than that, surprised that they all had forgiven me so easily.
"S-so… You're not angry at me?"
"Angry?" Matsuri asked, blinking a few times as though she had no idea what I was talking about. "For what?"
"For being so weak!" I yelled. I had already explained this to Ageha. Surely Matsuri-sensei, the one who knew me better than anyone, the one who had seen Abyss inside of me, knew how very weak and pathetic I was.
"Goddamn! You're still going on about that! You know, as much as I love you, Sakurako, I still get tired of that. That was what? Fifty years ago? Sixty? It's time you moved on… Come on, let's go inside, and I'll play the piano for you again. It's been really far too long since you've had the honor of hearing the great Matsuri-sama play." Matsuri-sensei said with a loud laugh, putting her arm around my shoulder and pulling me in through the gates of Heaven.
Heaven was beautiful. All of the buildings were perfect, and everyone seemed to be happy. There was no pain or crying, and all around me, people were laughing, and getting along, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. I heard people speaking dozens of languages, and though sometimes one person was speaking one language, and the other was speaking a completely different language, they seemed to understand each other perfectly. It was beautiful to see, and I found myself in tears. This was what life should have been like on Earth. Humans were so pathetic, fighting over such petty differences as the color of their skin, or the God that they worship. Arguments over territory… Really, humans were like animals… No, we're worse than animals. Even animals don't kill their own kind for no reason. Now that I was in heaven and looking at how perfect it was, I realized once more why I used to hate humanity so much. As I grew up, I learned to see the good in the world as well… But it no longer surprised me that at one time I couldn't see any good left.
"Don't flip out when you get there, Sakurako-chan. There's one more person that wanted to wait to meet you. You'll understand when you see him…" Matsuri said kindly to me, putting a hand on my shoulder.
I still admired Matsuri-sensei. Back when I was younger, it was an obsessive, worshipful admiration, maybe a little bit unhealthy, but now, I consider her one of my best friends, and I wouldn't replace her for anything. As we walked into the concert hall, I finally saw what Matsuri-sensei had been talking about. My face fell, and my throat went dry. That man was sitting in the audience before me… That red haired man from all those years ago. I never suspected that I would see him here of all places. He turned to us and smiled, waving and standing up, jumping from his seat and descending slowly before landing gently on the ground before us.
"Hello, Sakurako Yoshina. I apologized to your husband many years ago, and I've been waiting for the chance to do the same to you. I suppose I should first say that I'm flattered that you would think to name your son after me…" He said politely, laughing as though he was slightly embarrassed. Now that he was before me, talking like this, I could see the real Amagi Miroku. He wasn't evil. He was just angry, and underneath that, he seemed almost like being with other people was unnatural for him. I knew what I had to do. I walked toward him and embraced him. He gasped as I did this, and almost seemed ready to try to squirm out, but he stopped himself.
"You know, Miroku-san… I used to hate you. Before I had met you, I told myself that you, as the one who was responsible for Psyren, had ruined my life. But then you brought Ageha and me back together… So thank you. I guess it was a blessing in disguise."
"Thank you, Yoshina-san… I think my sister is here somewhere. She can walk, and talk, now, so I'm never really sure where she is… Ehehe…" Miroku said with an awkward laugh.
"Well, then! Now that we've all caught up! Let's start the show! I dedicate this one to happy reunions!" Matsuri said loudly, walking down to the stage, and sitting down at the most gorgeous piano I had ever seen. It was pure black, and the piano gleamed like ebony, reflecting the entire audience chamber, and was inset with silver. The piano alone was breathtaking, but when she began to play, my heart caught in my throat. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. The kind of sound that could stop the most hateful and angry of fights, that could end wars and bring peace to entire nations. I found myself unable to control my tears. It seemed like crying was a habit for me today. I wasn't afraid of death when it happened, and now that I'm here, I'm happy. I got to see my friends again. An old enemy became a friend, and I got to see everything that I never could in life.
I looked over at Amagi Miroku, and saw that he was also crying, his hands clasped together as if in prayer. It was amazing to see the man that was decried as an irredeemable psychopath crying from listening to a beautiful piece of music. Seeing this gave me an indefinable sense of hope for mankind. After Matsuri-sensei was finished, I turned to Amagi Miroku and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Miroku-san… I have a question… Although you shouldn't feel that you have to answer it…"
"If I am able, I will answer any question you have, Yoshina-san…" Miroku said with a weak smile.
"What made you decide to change like you did. I'm fairly certain that if you remained as you were, you would not be here."
"Oh!" Miroku said to me, laughing as though he were slightly embarrassed again.
"Well you see, I met a woman with whom I fell deeply in love, and she showed me how beautiful this world can be. You see, I think the first time I realized it, I was about 25 or so, and she woke me up an hour before dawn. I was annoyed at first that she would rouse me so early, but then she took me outside and out of the city, and we watched the sunrise together. I was so moved that I found myself crying… After that, I tried my hardest to change who I was. I didn't want to be that angry, evil, hateful person anymore, and she was so patient with me… Far more patient than I deserved. Eventually, I told her my identity. I told her that I was a psionicist, and that I had been the one who had caused all that trouble so many years ago… And she forgave me. She really was an amazing person. I can't wait until I can see her again."
"Wait. You mean she isn't dead yet?"
"Ahaha! No, thank God! She still has time left. I suspect she won't live too much longer, though. She is 98 years old, after all… But she's still as gorgeous as she was the day I met her…"
I looked at Amagi Miroku for a moment in abject shock. I couldn't believe he was speaking so fondly about anyone, speaking as though he loved her with all his heart. I smiled and embraced him again.
"You've really changed, Miroku-san. I'm very happy to have been able to meet you again."
"And I am thrilled that I was able to meet you again. My comrades also wish to see you again. Junas, Grana, Caprico, Shiner… I'm afraid that Dholaki and Vigo were unable to be saved. Their crimes were too great, and they did not repent in time. I do miss them… However, I suppose it is as it was meant to be."
"Everything always turns out as it is meant to be… Miroku-san… Now just listen to Matsuri-sensei…" I said kindly, putting a finger up to silence him, as the music came back into the foreground. The music resounded throughout the music hall, carried on the air by invisible waves of pure perfection and beauty, and slowly, I noticed several others, the ones that Miroku mentioned filling in the seats in the hall, and smiling contentedly. Ageha sat down next to me on the other side, and took my hand, and we simply held hands for a while. It was altogether a beautiful day that I wished would never end. I wanted to sit there with Ageha forever, and holding hands with him was enough. Slowly, he took my cheek, and kissed me again, though, and the fire that I always felt spreading through my lips, and heating up my entire body whenever he kissed me spread rampant.
"I love you, Saku-chan… It's so wonderful to see you again…"
"It's wonderful to see you again, too, Ageha-kun…" I replied.
This takes place directly after the events of Her Final Epitaph. I hope you enjoyed it. It was somewhat corny, and took forever to finish, but I enjoyed writing it. It was kind of fun to do a different fanfic like this. Please read and review. Any constructive criticism will be gratefully received.