Chapter 15 Tenshi no shi
"Hey guys are you all ready to practice today!" Yui said bouncing into the club-room.
Ritsu yawned "Practicing is really tiring, I think we should skip it today."
"Ritsu!" Mio scolded "you need to stop being so lazy."
"Well at least I don't hide in the corner every time some one mentions barnacles," she teased.
"Hey that was only because you said you were going to put one on my head!" Mio retorted.
"I have some lovely cakes today," Mugi said with a serene smile, breaking up Mio and Ritsu's argument.
"Ooh which ones?" Yui said with unrivalled interest.
"Battenberg and banana cupcakes."
"Wow those do sound lovely!" Yui said enthusiastically.
"Wait," Azusa protested "We can't just waste our time eating cakes again."
"But Azu-nyan these are really nice cakes."
Azusa shook her head "No cake is more important that band practise."
As she said that Yui shoved a cupcake into her mouth and her eyes glazed over with happiness "well okay maybe we can have a couple of cakes," she admitted.
Yui smiled widely as they resigned themselves to another peaceful happy day of youth. Everything was the way it was supposed to be.
"Yui, wake up."
She could hear the desperation in Ritsu's voice as she felt her hand shaking her.
"Come on, Yui you've got to get up."
Yui could feel pain all over her body, a stream of fresh blood trickling down her legs. Slowly she opened her eyes to see Ritsu crouched next to her. She was crying.
"She's alive!" Mio exclaimed as her eyes opened "Thank goodness Yui we thought you were gone."
Mio hugged Yui and wept into her shoulder "Please don't scare us like that again Yui."
"I can't feel my legs," Yui moaned.
Ritsu glanced down at them, it was not a pleasant sight, a little bit of bone was visible through all the red mess. "Yui can you walk?"
Yui didn't answer, instead she attempted to raise her head and look around only to fail out of fatigue "Where's Azu-nyan?" she croaked.
Ritsu went still; she couldn't bring her self to say it "Yui, she's... she ..."
"She's over there Yui," Mio said grimly.
Yui slowly raised her head to see Azusa's small frail body lying several meters away. She wasn't moving.
"Azu-nyan!" Yui shouted, scrambling through the dirt to get to her. Azusa was laying face down in the field, completely still.
Yui shook her "Azu-nyan get up it's me."
There was no response.
"Come on Azusa please get up, please."
Ritsu appeared behind her "I'm sorry Yui Azusa..."
"No she can't!" Yui shouted shaking her more violently "Wake up Azu-nyan! You've got to"
Tears began to fall from Yui's face as she realized the situation. Slowly she rolled Azusa onto her back. A large bit of shrapnel had become embedded in her chest leaking blood every where. There was no chance of recovering from a wound like that. Her vital organs were far too damaged. Slowly Yui felt all energy leave her body as she took it in. "Come on Azu-nyan you've got to wake," she whimpered.
Ritsu put a hand on her shoulder "Yui she's gone."
"NO!" Yui shouted, violently throwing Ritsu off and grabbing her body with both hands "she can't be, she can't be dead, she's my friend!"
"There's nothing we can do about it Yui," Mio said softly, failing to hold back tears "we can't bring her back."
Slowly Yui reached into Azusa's pocket and pulled out a small brown envelope. "This is all my fault, I killed her."
Yui poured the black capsule into her hand and brought it to her mouth. All too slowly Ritsu realized what she was doing.
"NO YUI!" Ritsu dived at her, sending the pill flying. The already injured Yui crumbled under the impact.
"Ow" Yui said weakly.
"I'm sorry Yui; we can't lose you as well."
Ritsu sagged onto the ground in defeat, Azusa was dead and Mugi was gone. They hadn't been able to find her earlier and after seeing Azusa she was almost too scared to search lest she find another of her friends dead. She'd been so scared that Yui had died as well; it had taken fifteen minutes of shaking before she'd woken. She'd thought they were both dead at first, after seeing Azusa she'd almost given up hope, but Yui had live. That was something though Ritsu knew this would be a lot harder for her than the rest of them. Yui had loved Azusa in a way, they all had, but Yui had always been especially affectionate for her. She wouldn't be able to get over this quickly. Ritsu looked over at her, crumpled and defeated still lying by her dead Kohai's body. There was nothing she could say to make it better, they couldn't recover from this, she couldn't pretend everything was alright any longer. Tears resurfaced in her eyes as she thought about how she'd never see Azusa's small figure again. She wiped them with her sleeves "I've got to be strong," she told herself "I've got to be a leader."
Mio was in no better shape, she was shaking in fear hugging her knees tightly and rocking back and forwards. She looked like she'd seen the worst thing imaginable. The explosions brought back horrible memories for her as they created a new one. The tanks had long since gone but they'd left the corpses in their wake rotting in the sun. They'd had to abandon Yui and Azusa momentarily to flee from the tank. When they finally managed to get away they'd returned to see the tanks gone and their two friend's bodies thrown to the floor. Mio had broken down immediately whereas Ritsu had rushed towards them to check their pulses after Yui's came out positive she'd gotten hope that everything would be okay then it was mercilessly destroyed.
It was after a seemingly endless silence Ritsu spoke "We should bury her."
Mio nodded in agreement, none of them wanted to leave her but they had no choice. There was no point dragging a corpse around with them.
It was difficult digging with their bare hands but the earth was soft from recent rain so it moved quickly. It took a while to dig it but they were too concerned about their friend to worry about the time. Luckily the grave didn't have to be too big to fit her, another advantage of Azusa's small size. When it was ready Ritsu approached her corpses tiredly, Yui was still holding on to it.
"Yui," she said gently "You have to let her go."
When Yui didn't Ritsu grabbed Azusa and pulled her from Yui's arms. She looked distraught as she reached out her arms for her.
"It's for the best," Ritsu clutched her dead friend and carried her over to the hole they'd dug. It was nothing like a living body, still and cold and bloody. Ritsu hated having it near her. Mio was standing by the hole. Gently Ritsu lowered her in and shut her eyes.
The three of them stared mournfully into the grave, unsure of what to do.
"Anyone want to say something before we bury her?" Ritsu asked. Since Mio didn't say anything and Yui was still crying Ritsu took it upon her self.
"Azusa Nakano was a great friend to all of us," Ritsu began "She was kind, smart and friendly and what's more she was always there for us. I think it say a lot that she would escape the shelter and walk for days just to be with us. She..."
Ritsu choked up, finding in hard to talk without crying "she was the best friend any of us could ever hope for and... and we'll miss you Azusa."
She wiped her eye and looked around to see her friends in tears as well "start burying her."
Yui crawled over to the grave and had one final look in at Azusa's corpse "I'll miss you Azu-nyan."
She watched helplessly as Azusa was slowly covered in dirt then gone for ever. As it happened Yui began to hum, it took Ritsu a while to figure out what it was but soon she caught on. It was Tenshi no Furetayo. Ritsu broke down in tears again.
None of them wanted to leave but night was coming fast and the area was still dangerous. They soon found a suitable campsite at the edge of a river. A little in the distance Ritsu could see the light of an urban area, she didn't know which city it was, she didn't even know where they were anymore.
She halfheartedly prepared a fire while her friends stared at the ground in misery. There would be a lot more room under the blanket now that their group was down to three and there would be more food. Ritsu hated thinking about the advantages of Azusa's death, it had been horrible. She kept thinking over in her mine the things she could have done to prevent it. Not getting lost. Not arguing with Yui. Keeping a closer eye on them. There were a hundred things she could have done differently but she hadn't. Ritsu had failed as a leader. She didn't even know where Mugi was either. She looked at her friends, Mio was still shaking and Yui was staring into the fire silently. Even if she'd failed Ritsu felt the need to say something, anything she could to ease their pain.
"Look," she started "we've been dealt a cruel blow today and I don't think any of us were prepared for it. It's tough to lose a friend, really tough."
"I can't handle it Ritsu," Mio stuttered "what if it happens to more of us?"
"We can overcome this Mio; things will still get better I promise," Ritsu pleaded "after the war's over and we're back home we can just look back at this as an unhappy memory. Until then well I'll... I'll try my best to protect you, no I will protect yo. I'll make sure no one else get's hurt. We're still a team right?"
Ritsu looked desperately at her friends for confirmation; to some how believe her empty promises. No one said anything.
"Yui? We're a team right?"
"I wish it had been me Ritsu."
"Yui it wasn't your fault."
"It was, I wish I had been the one who died, I led her into the minefield," Yui whimpered, breaking into tears once more "but I survived and she died. How is this fair Ritsu!? She was so nice and lovely; I should have been the one!"
"Listen Yui this is not your fault," Ritsu said "I was the one how let you two go off like that, If anything I'm the one to blame."
The tears kept falling as Yui completely broke down in misery; her face was contorted in grief.
Ritsu put an arm round her and brought her close to her.
"Don't worry Yui, we'll be okay, everything is going to be alright."
Azusa was dead, Mugi was missing, Mio was looked terrified, Yui was irreparably broken and Ritsu felt just as scared as the rest of them. Things were never going to be alright again.
Ritsu doubted that things could ever be right again.
A/N: So um I hope you all enjoyed this chapter :) This was going to happen a few chapters earlier but I delayed it. Still it can only get better from here right? Next chapter they are going to bring Azusa back to life then stop the war by being bad ass I promise. Sorry that this chapter is short, I thought it was quite well contained so it didn't to make longer. Still I did add that dream bit at the start to make it a little longer.
Yo: It's not the climax just yet! There's three more chapters after this one. I'm not sure what I'm doing with the next one but after that there is sort of a climax with a fast paced action bit then an extended finale bit. It is nearing the end now though. It keeps getting darker as well as their situation gets more and more hopeless. It makes me bit sad actually. Part of the reason I did the dream in this chapter was because I just wanted to write them being happy again. Oh well the ending of this is sort of happy in a way. Anyway sorry for this chapter and thank you for reading!
Sam: Thank you for saying that. My confidence in my writing ability fluctuates massively so I appreciate it ^^ It can be hard to make time for it when school is on. I've finished now so I don't ever have to worry about it again. I do have university though, if I manage to get in that is. You don't have to write but I can help you if you want to :) Keep reading please!
MiraJane S and Erza S: Thank you for following and raising my review count by about ten. Are you two people?
Next time on Grave of the turtles: Yui uses the magic of friendship to bring Azusa back to life only to die again when the bear from chapter 3 turns up and eats them.