Some say Mitakihara Memorial Auditorium is haunted. That's probably not so unusual; supposedly every large city throughout the world has at least one ghost, either via the lingering energy generated by the laughter, tears, joy and despair that took place in certain locations or, as more traditional-minded folks would put it, by the actual souls of those who simply couldn't let go of a certain experience or desire in life, and couldn't "move on" after death. Certainly the artistic world, with its charged, rechanneled passions and occasional instances of hedonism among the artists and fanaticism among the audience, would incur both varieties of spirits. Indeed, many theaters and auditoriums throughout the world are also said to be haunted.

Occasionally janitors, maintenance workers, and even some guests have felt the usual cold spot and sensations of static electricity in about the center of the lower deck. Strangely, the sensations seem to intensify during the preparations for and performance of classical concerts. Sure enough, during some performances, the figure of a young-looking girl with short turquoise hair has been seen in the seats, or in the aisle during standing-room only events. Sometimes she is said to be the picture of utter despair, with her cheeks crumpled and tears streaming down her face; sometimes she seems utterly contented.

Nevertheless, other than giving staff and guests slight frights, she does not seem to be a malicious spirit; merely an onlooker. The management has contacted a medium out of curiosity; sure enough, she told them that this ghost seemed to have been an adolescent female who had been in love with some regular performer at this auditorium, and was fatally heartbroken after he turned her down. However, she couldn't say when exactly this poor unfortunate soul died; the auditorium was built in the 1920's Some of the more hardheaded staff members thought consulting a medium was a waste of money and might get them bad press, but the others thought the story at least made sense given the circumstances. In any event, the press was never alerted, so no ghost tours or crews from cable TV ghosthunting shows (or even Halloween specials) have ever asked to stop by, and best of all, the night of October 31 has never been graced with anonymous phone calls asking "Who ya gonna call?" or the like. They still may tell you about it should you happen to notice anything, though.

-O-O-O-

It's a grand evening for Mitakihara. In recognition of the auditorium's 100th anniversary, the city's most famous resident, renowned violinist Kyosuke Kamijou, will be performing in his hometown for the first time since high school, along with the rest of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. His lovely wife Hitomi knows this is one of the happiest nights of his life. It's one thing to perform at the Budokan, Carnegie Hall, or Royal Albert Hall for the first time, but getting to play back in your hometown as a celebrity marks turning a full circle. All great journeys, no matter to which exotic destinations they may bring you, should eventually lead back home, if only for a short while. And to think that a decade ago, he was deathly afraid that he would never be able to play the violin again…

Hitomi wishes it could also be the happiest night in her life. But she too is still haunted by her lost friend. She continually reminds herself that ultimately only Sayaka could've made the decision to most likely commit suicide. She had given her a day to stand up and tell Kyosuke herself how she felt about him (though in retrospect she wondered if 24 measly hours were enough time, or if there ever could be enough time). And since neither Sayaka nor Kyosuke had ever confessed anything to each other, surely she had had the right to fall in love with him, hadn't she? And lastly, perhaps Sayaka should've considered that they had known each other since kindergarten and thus would probably come to see her more as a sister or female cousin figure (especially since he's an only child and has no female cousins) . And Sayaka did always have a tendency to take things a bit too seriously and perseverate.

There was also the fact Kyosuke's first love at that time was his music over almost everything else. Indeed, he hadn't reciprocated Hitomi's feelings toward him until their second year of high school. There was also his slight Asperger's syndrome to consider, which has of course given him communication problems throughout his life, especially when he's frustrated or upset. Even now they still have some petty misunderstandings and arguments. That of course doesn't make him emotionless; she remembers him straining not to cry during Sayaka's wake.

But every time these thoughts pass through Hitomi's head, she feels like she's just making excuses. Even though she had cram school and countless extracurricular classes back then in the traditional arts, she could've taken at least one off and gone to visit Kyosuke while he was stuck in the hospital after that car accident, grimly pondering his future (when the baby comes and if it's a girl, Hitomi will not even strongly convince her eventually to take all those classes in flower arrangement or tea ceremony, let alone force her. Screw "propriety"). Meanwhile Sayaka was at his bedside almost every day, occasionally spending her own allowance to buy him classical CD's even when that reminded him of his limitations. Sayaka was always the determined idealist with an ironclad sense of bringing justice and equality; convinced that people could make the world a better place if they only tried harder. Who could blame her for thinking that those ideals also applied to her, and that she did deserve Kyosuke's love for her devotion to him? (Unfortunately the real world is seldom so fair, as Hitomi's parents have often reminded her.) On some level Hitomi still feels that it should be Sayaka sitting here awaiting his homecoming performance, perhaps even pregnant with his child. And other levels she still feels responsible for her friend's crushing despair the last few times she saw her…and then…

Her eyes still sting at the memories. Saotome-sensei breaking down as she announced the news to her class, her constant tears during the wake, how she looked down from the bridge on the way home and, just for a moment, wondered if the dark water below was the only thing that she deserved… She's spent most of the past decade listening to her family, friends, even a psychiatrist, and of course Kyosuke telling herself that it's not her fault, but she still can't entirely believe them.

I just wish I could've had a chance to apologize…

Just then, as the orchestra is tuning up, she feels something like a warm blanket drape over her shoulders. Her eyes pop all the way open as a familiar voice speaks in her right ear.

It's okay; I forgive you. Just please, keep that smile on his face, and let me hear him play. I just have one favor to ask, in honor of a friend…

While the audience applauds as the conductor walks onstage, Hitomi glances down at her belly.

Madoka. Such a nice name. I don't know why, but it fills me with…hope.

O-O-O

They say Mitakihara Memorial Auditorium is haunted. But whatever walks there does not walk alone.

Just a couple days ago I wrote a story about Kyubey's poo, and now…this. Yeah, that's why I have Gary Busey for my avatar. HOW'M AH DOIN' TODAY?!

This was slightly inspired by ncfan's beautifully poignant Hitomi stories (as well as speculation on Sayaka's ultimate fate; did she get to join Madoka in "yuri heaven"?), so I guess I'll dedicate it to her.

Speaking of that Ghostbusters quote, would anybody ever be willing to collaborate on a Ghostbusters/Madoka crossover?