I felt as if I had fallen down a bottomless pit... Headfirst down a chasm with no end, just hoping I would fall and die. After what seemed to be an eternity, I saw Minako's face when I closed my eyes.

She told me to wake up. Then, I felt something soft and vaguely familiar brush past my lips.

I opened my eyes. The first thing I see is a blinding light, followed by a gradual adjustment of my vision.

Minako was looking at me incredulously. I stared back at her. Then, I stared back at everyone in the room.

She recovered first, and wrapped her arms around me in a crushing hug, "Minato!" Looking tenderly into my eyes, she clasped my face and kissed me.

"Oh!" I groaned as she nearly cracked my ribs, "Minako..." I patted her in the back. Everyone else roared in amazement. Junpei declared it a miracle of miracles. Lee punched me in the face for scaring him. Kenji professed his undying love for Rio, for some odd reason.

"Chill out. You guys act like I just died or something." I said jokingly, inciting a wave of angry replies.

After calling a Doctor, she asked me what happened.

"I was dreaming about falling down a pit, when something soft brushed my lips." I said.

"I didn't see anything!" Minako said as she blushed, "Did anyone see anything? A-Anyway, is he going to be fine, Doc?" Minako stammered quickly before anyone could reply.

The Doctor looked at her clipboard and shook her head, "No, I'm afraid not."

Minako gasped, "How bad is it?"

"Well, he's suffering from a rare disease that will leave him in pure pain, so much that he would wish he were dead, and in five days, at most, his heart would be lacerated by his broken ribs and he will drown in his blood and die painfully..."

"Oh my God! That's horrible!" Minako cried.

"Yes, I know..." The Doctor said.

Then, a nurse entered, "Doctor, you're in the wrong room. Your patient died twenty five seconds ago. Here's Arisato-san's clipboard."

The Doctor gave a surprised look, and read it, "Well, looks like you'll live after all!"

Everyone sighed with relief and immediately burst into a cheer. But amidst the loud, raucous din, time slowed down, and their faces blurred. Only Minako's bright, shimmering face was visible to my eyes as I stared at her hungrily, wishing that time would stop as I gaze upon her.

She smiled, and held my face. I puckered up, thinking she would kiss me, but she instead punched me in the jaw so hard that it nearly blew me away. Everyone gasped.

"That's for scaring me." She muttered, rubbing her knuckles.

I rubbed my jaw and laughed. After a few tests, the Doctors were astonished to find me in perfect health. They insisted I stay for a few days, but I was adamant about getting back on the grid. After a few odd minutes arguing and debating, I was finally discharged from the Hosipital, at Mitsuru's intervention.

I grabbed Minako and headed to the ruins of the Astronomy Tower. I just wanted to be with her. After lighting incense sticks for Johei and the Fallen and spend the entire afternoon talking about our future. We were so engrossed in our conversation, I quickly lost track of time, as the sun began to set.

As we watched the various shades of orange and red dissolve into night, I realized it was mere few days from our JS Prom. We were seated at the shattered bluffs of the Astronomy Tower, when I suddenly blurted out, "Say I invite you to prom... what would you say?"

Surprised, she said, "I was actually wondering when you would ask me."

I just died on the spot, like a dream I never thought would happen. It took me awhile to answer her.

"No?" She said meekly.

"No!" I cried, "I thought there were so many dudes who would die for you to be their partner... I was just surprised no one asked."

"Well, every boy who wanted to ask were kinda afraid what you'd do to them with your sword if they asked." She mumbled. Then, she turned away and quietly said, "Anyway, I just thought that I'd like to spend Prom night with my best friend. That isn't so bad, is it?" Then she dropped her tone to a whisper, so I could barely hear, "Don't you want to die just like them to be my partner?"

"I already did." I said bemusedly.

She didn't seem impressed, "I'm serious, Minato. I really, really like you. More than words can describe..." She sighed, not daring to meet my eyes.

I was too stunned to speak for it came close for me to blurt my feelings for her. On the other hand, knowing my luck, Something would probably happen to me if I hesitated any longer.

We were silent for a while. I sat in agonizing contemplation, until I finally whispered, "I would be happy to be your partner, Minako. "

Then, she smiled, suddenly kissing my cheek and hugging me. I could hardly contain the joy and cadence I felt in my heart that time. I saw her turned red and bowed her head shyly, trying to conceal her smile.

She stood up and ran towards Le Pinque Cafe, "Last one to reach the cafe treats frappe!"

"Real mature, Minako!" I panted as I ran up to catch up with her, "Ease up! I just got out of the hospital!"

I kept up pace with her so that I wouldn't lose, also so I could spend more time with her. But I knew, deep in my heart, that I have forever to be with her.

A few days later, our Prom night came. I bought a new suit and bowtie, while pouring an entire bottle of perfume over myself. I probably smelled like half of France, but I needed to be sure I smelled like perfection.

Junpei, wearing a silk suit, grinned at my appearance, "Looking sexy, bro! I almost be became gay looking at ya!"

"Very funny. Where are the ladies?" I asked mirthlessly.

"At Rio's." Junpei shrugged, "Quan and Lee are en route with Kenji. They should be here in..."

The doorbell rang.

"Speak o' the Devil." Junpei said as Lee, Kenji, and Quan entered. Quan's mom held a camera and started taking pictures. Leah joined in as well.

"Nice shot! Whacky shot now!" Quan's mother said.

We did the whackiest poses we could do. At one point, Lee and Quan did a can-can.

"One more. Quan, take that lampshade and put it on your head. Lee-" Leah began.

"Nee! We'll be late for the prom!" Junpei complained.

"Oh... Okay..." Leah said, slightly hurt, "They grow up so fast..." She said, tearing up.

"They always do..." Quan's mom sniffled.

"Mom!" Quan cried, "Let's go now, please."

Quan's mom delivered us to the war-torn Gekkoukan High. Although most parts of it was broken and destroyed, the gym, which was protected, remained relatively untouched, leaving it a suitable place to hold the prom.

I broke off from the group and went to fetch Minako. I walked to the faculty room, where Kamina greeted me seductively.

Before Kamina could ensnare me further, I heard a voice say, "How do I look?"

I turned around and saw her exquisitely beautiful than ever. It was Minako. But it didn't look like Minako at all. She had done something with her hair; it was no longer in a tight ponytail but sleek and shiny, and twisted up into an elegant knot at the back of her head. She was wearing a glittering gown made of a floaty, blood-red material, and she was holding herself differently, somehow-or maybe it was merely the absence of food in her hands or mouth. She was also smiling, rather nervously, it was true... she looked truly magnificent.

I stood up and opened my mouth but found out I could not find my voice, but I forced something to come out, "YOU LOOK LOVELY!" I said, accidentally shouting and causing Minako to recoil.

Then I got her hand shakily fastened the corsage around her wrist and whispered, "To my Queen of the Night."

She then asked, "Is that true?"

I nodded sheepishly and she smiled. I turned to open the door for her as we walked down the halls. When we arrived at the gymnasium we hardly recognized our classmates.

Gone were the slacks and shirts and coats. They were replaced with tuxedos and gowns. Then I led her to the dance floor. It was like a dream coming true, a moment of enchantment and wondrous joy. There I was, dancing with the girl I loved! How foolish was I to believe, scarcely a year ago, that I had no chance with her!

She was smiling at me, as we were slowly moving in a smooth gliding motion. I found myself lost as I stared down to her sparklingly red eyes. The curls of her hair were like waves of eternal flames enhancing her beautiful face. There were just so many things I wanted to tell her that moment. I wanted to tell that she was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. I wanted to tell her that she would always be the eternal light to my darkness, but what I wanted to tell her the most was that I love her. I drew up all my courage and bent to whisper it in her ear but suddenly the music stopped as everyone looked at us. Everything was silent.

The screen turned on as the auditorium darkened. A clip of Cato and me fighting played with the dub '2010 JS PROM'. People who were transmogrified during the events assumed it to be choreographed and applauded. It then played a clip of most of everyone, but Minako and I had a part there too, dubbed as Best Friends and Best Potential Lovers.

And then:

"WHAT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU THIS YEAR?"

The slideshow started with Lee holding his scholarship papers with Mitsuru. Then, Junpei jumping up and down, pointing his name in the Top 10, Fuuka and Lee holding hands, Yukari winning Archery Nationals first place, Rio instructing Kenji and motivating him to go exercising, Rio spoonfeeding Kenji, Pinky and Quan dying Pink's hair pink (that still puzzles me to this day) and Quan wearing a bikini from the Miss Gay pageant.

"Hey! Who put that there?!" Quan cried as Lee, Junpei and Kenji laughed and high-fived each other. "Well, you Coven of hags can't deny that I did looked fabulous there!" Quan said pompously as he threw his hair back.

Then, it was my slideshow...

It showed the serene, sleeping face of Minako. It was all of the pictures I took of her asleep. Her lips, her hair and her closed eyes. With the title: The Best Friend I fell hopelessly in love with.

Minako stood there, transfixed as she watched the video.

"You know, you're even more beautiful in person." I said behind her.

"Do you really love me?" She whispered as she turned around.

"Yes." I breathed, "And now, I have my entire life to show you."

"What if you make me cry again?" She asked.

"I'll dry your tears and comfort you." I replied.

"What if we don't live happily ever after?" She asked.

"Then I'll do it again and again until I get it right."

"Even if... I eat too much?" She said.

"I'll eat as much as you from now on." I said.

"Even if I'm wierd?" She asked.

"You've always been wierd." I said, chuckling slightly, "But you're just as sane as I am if you think we're meant to be together."

"Even if-" She began, but I cut her off with a quick, passionate kiss. She smiled as we looked into each other's eyes.

"Minako, I really love you." I said as I held her warm, trembling hands.

Her eyes shone as her lips quivered, "I... I love you too, Minato."

We kissed. The auditorium erupted with applause. Yukari smiled wistfully and clapped as well.

"You don't think it was stalker-ish of me to take pictures of you while you were asleep?" I asked after we kissed.

She smiled mischievously, "Not really."

I looked at the projector and saw Minako's slideshow, with me sleeping as well. Exactly like my pictures, except it was me.

"Haha! Man, we sure are cute, for two ugly people..." I said.

"Yes..." She breathed, "I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend..." Minako said quietly as she hugged me.

After looking into her eyes, I said, "I want to end our friendship."

She seemed surprised, "W-Why?!"

I placed a finger on her lips, "So we can begin our romance."

She smiled and hugged me.

I held her close to me, "Watashi wa hijō ni anata o aishite, Hamuko." I said, "I really, truly love you, Minako."

She smiled, tears in her eyes, "Watashi mo anata o aishite, Minato..." She sobbed, "I love you too..."

I kissed her forehead, "Eien ni, tsuneni."

She nodded, "Forever and always."

Looking into her eyes, I kissed her passionately.

She stopped kissing me, "I just wish I knew who wrote me this letter from New York..." She pulls out a piece of paper with a torn lower end, "So I can tell him about us."

I smiled and pulled something out of my pocket.

Her eyes widened as we pieced together the fragments. It was finally complete.

"Love Minato" read the fragment.

Minako smiled, "I always knew it was you."

"Yeah..." I whispered, "right," I said as I kissed her.

She kissed me back, "B-But... Replacing me for Yukari... That's like replacing gold for silver!" Minako's voice shook, "And replacing a diamond for a rock!"

I put a finger to her lip, "Not all that glitters is gold. Not all who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither." I said, "I'd rather have glitter if it was you. And all diamonds were once rocks."

She smiled and slow danced with me. Time stood still. The world didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was that they were together now. We smiled and danced the night away.

8 years later...

What can I say about a girl I loved since highschool? The way she laughs at me when I commit mistakes, the way she fusses over just about everything and even the way she cries over some cheesy silly late night show...

Who is she? She's my best friend and I have known her since we were teenagers. She practically knew everything about me, even my bloodline.

As a result, that alone should reveal my feelings for her, that I love her not only because she's stunningly gorgeous and smart but also the way she laughs at everything and the way she sees life...

I'm pleased to say that we've been together for nearly eight and a half years now. While most relationships would burn out by this time, our love has only burned brighter with each passing day.

One day, 21st of October, 2019, I invited her to go up to the Astronomy Ruins, where we fought years ago. She agreed. So we took our bikes and rode up to the hill. She took time off from her job as a Medical Technician and I took a day off as a Psychologist just to spend time with each other.

We stopped by the cliff and sat under the Persimmon Tree, where years ago I carved our initials, "MM+MM". We set up the picnic and ate the sandwiches we packed.

"Hehehe... Look at that." I pointed at the carving, "I carved that at our fourth anniversary, didn't I?"

Minako laughed, and nodded, "Yup!"

"After four long years... Its still there." I smiled, "You remember it?"

"Of course I do." Minako said lovingly, "We carved- well, you carved it there. You even cut your finger up badly."

"In the process, yeah." I said with a smile, "You had to make a band-aid for me back then."

"Hehehe, you call yourself a Doctor?" Minako teased.

"Well, yeah, bur I'm not THAT kind of Doctor..." I said good-naturedly, "But its finished now. Its done. But you know what makes this tree so special to me?"

Minako raised her eyebrow and smiled slightly.

"Because we're gonna tell our kids someday that this is the same tree where Mommy and Daddy fought great evil and won. How lovely is that?"

Minako smiled and hugged me.

"How cool is that, eh?" I said, "It's special. But you know what will be more special? Look at the carving closely..." I said, pointing to it, "It's gonna stay there for all of eternity, just like our love. Are you looking?"

She looked, "Yes, I'm looking..."

"We can tell our kids, we can tell them that this place that Daddy..." I took out a ring from my pocket and knelt down on one knee, "Proposed to Mommy."

Minako's eyes widened and she placed her hands on her mouth in shock, "Oh my God...!"

Still smiling I continued, "Minako Arisato, I want you to be my eternity. Will you marry me?"

Minako, still overcome with emotion, couldn't regain her composure, "Oh my God! Oh my God! Shut the fuck up! Oh my God!"

"Hahahaha, will you marry m- Aw, come here..." I hugged her, "Will you marry me?"

She was still emotional and gasping.

"Hahahaha, will you marry me or not?" I laughed, enjoying her reaction.

"*sniff* Yes!" Minako choked, "Yes. A thousand times, yes." She said and kissed me passionately.

I shakily took her hand and slid the ring at her finger. She then hugged me and smiled the rest of the day.

My life may not be the easiest. I was beaten, assaulted, poisoned, shot, tortured and humiliated. I made friends and lost some. I died, came back to life and died again. But ask me, just ask, if I would do it all over again? Yes. I would. Forever and always.

My Days of Autumn will live on forevermore.


A/N: Finally finished. Please do leave a review, especially those who favorited the story.

Should I do a wedding chapter? Just state so.

Thanks for staying til the bitter end. CipherPrinceofDreams, sighing out.