Trials of the Junsuikaoni: The Lament of the Dead (Book 3)

Noah has finally embraced his role as leader of the Elite Junsui Hunter Force and together with his team, they've been cleaning up the streets of Hokkaido City and eliminating rogue Bakemon. They've become quite acclaimed and popular, but due to the dangers they faced just six months ago, which resulted in the destruction of much of the Wakaba Prefecture, they've become very exclusive and private, not letting outsiders enter their circle. As they help get the city back on it's feet, their newly accepted ally, Ouran, is hard at work helping Lady Simone build a nation for the newly liberated Reapers all while trying to balance normal life and newfound existence as the Reaper God. The Reapers are finally free of heaven's command, but now the protection they had is gone. This causes unrest in the underworld and once again Noah and his team find themselves facing danger as they help Ouran defeat a new enemy and answer the Lament of the Dead. This is the third chapter of Noah's journey.

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11. Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow...

            Noah feels a warm sensation against his cheek and slowly he starts to open his eyes. His eyes burn from the rays of sunlight that shine into them, making him squint, but he rapidly blinks until they finally adjust. As he sits up, he realizes he’s on the ground and looking around, he can see familiar surroundings. He’s sitting in the grass in front of a small house, nothing lavish, but not a dump either. Other similar houses surround this one, but only this one stirs up his emotions. “This is….” Noah stands and faces this house, noticing the door slightly ajar. “Could it be…?” He runs inside the house, through the living room, past the kitchen and down the hall; the all too familiar path, despite not having used it in many years. He stops in front of a wooden door and for a moment just stares, excited and fearful of what he’ll find when he opens the door. As his heart races he wants to run away, but he knows this is the only chance he’s got to make things right. So taking a deep breath, he grips the doorknob and swings it open as he shouts, “Caleb!”

            A young teen, with brown hair and a slight athletic build, lies on his bed with his legs crossed and one hand behind his head as the other tosses a ball up and down. Upon hearing his name, he catches the ball and then slowly turns his head to face Noah, his brown eyes looking very serious. However, that is soon replaced by a gentler expression and with a playful smile he says, “Well it’s about time little brother, how long were you going to make me wait?”

            Noah looks at Caleb, his big brother, looking not a day older than he did eight years ago, and looking like himself, unlike the broken, bloodied mess of a boy he was on that night. Like a shock to his system, all the emotions he could never realize, all the pain he could never truly feel, everything he’d been missing comes flooding in and he starts to tremble. He wobbles over to the front of Caleb’s bed and with tears in his eyes, he falls to his knees, bows down to the ground and with intensity like never before he cries. “I’m…I’m…I’m so-rry Caleb.” He stutters.

            Caleb looks at his brother. He may have grown, but he’s still a big baby. He sits up and pegs the ball at his head, making Noah stop his blubbering and look up. “I don’t remember leaving you as such a crybaby. Be a man. Isn’t that what I always told you?”

            Sniffling Noah says, “you, you did but…but I can’t help it! I got to live and you died. However, the worst part is you didn’t even die properly because of the jealousy I triggered in you. It’s all my fault you’ve been suffering all this time. I’m really sorry Caleb. Really-.”

            “That’s what you’re all broken up about? Come on, I thought it’d be a better reason than that. Look Noah, I’ll admit that I was jealous of you, honestly from the moment mom said we were going to take you in. I was so envious of you and the fact that mom clearly favored you over me, her blood and damn right I resented you for it.” Noah looks down in shame. “But….” Caleb places his hand on Noah’s head, and he flinches, thinking he’s going to hit him, but he doesn’t. Instead, he starts rubbing his head like he used to back then as he continues. “I hated you Noah, but I loved you more.”

            Noah looks up at Caleb with a sparkle in his eye and a shocked expression. “You-, you loved me Caleb? You weren’t just putting up with me because of mom’s wishes?”

            Caleb laughs. “Noah, come on dude, you know me. When did I ever do something just because mom wanted me to? Trust me, if I didn’t want to be nice to you, I wouldn’t have been nice to you. Despite the fact that I hated you, I couldn’t help but love you that much more, to the point my hatred didn’t even matter. You were such a cute and innocent boy, so passive and naïve and so I thought, “how could I seriously hate this kid?” it’d be wasted on such a pure soul. I understood why mom could come to love you more, because I fell victim to your charms too. That’s why I decided that if you had to stick around, then I was going to at least toughen you up, make you lose at least a fraction of all that riotousness and bring you back down to a human level. I thought that I could taint you just a bit with some sin, so you wouldn’t be such a holy existence, but I can see now that the joke was on me, because you are literally a god.”

            Noah smiles slightly, but doesn’t lose his sad expression. “Well, I guess you can be happy to know that it worked then. I’m not that pure and innocent little boy anymore. I’ve killed many Bakemon and I can’t say I felt any compassion for them when I did. Honestly I came to dislike everything about this world, Bakemon and humans alike. I don’t really care about the world or saving it, I just want to destroy the Junsui so I can get my revenge. If I can just do that, then I could care less if I live or die. My team are the only ones I can even call friends…loosely.”

            Caleb smacks Noah on the side of his head gently. “Idiot! You think that makes you some sort of delinquent? Of course you want revenge against those who took away your happiness and killed your family. No normal human would be immune to that, not even the holiest of people deep down, if they say otherwise they’re just lying. The fact that you live just to avenge us rather than destroy all the Junsui to see them suffer just goes to show your innocence.”

            “You really believe that? Killing others for any reason is a sin isn’t it?”

            “Eh, depends on who you ask. Personally I believe that if it’s in the name of justice it’s alright and the fact that you don’t even care if you live or die shows your selflessness. As for your friends, you may not believe it, but you like them a lot more than you think. The way you scolded Ouran for being willing to sacrifice his best friend shows that you do value them as your true friends. I don’t think you could go through all you’ve been through and connect in such a significant way without becoming close. You all make each other better and stronger and that’s a great thing. That’s really all I wanted for you Noah, was to become strong and be able to face the world without crumbling or needing your big brother to save you.” He grabs Noah and pulls him into a headlock as he plays around with him, making Noah laugh. Soon they both laugh and after settling down Caleb hugs him. “I was always saving you, but now here you are saving me in the end.” He chuckles. “I’m glad I could see you one more time though Noah, really I am. Letting my inner darkness overcome me was my own fault and so I’m the only one to blame for getting caught down here, not you, so you’d better stop feeling guilty for it. However, I do feel that things happened just as they were meant to, because now I can say goodbye properly and we can both find closure between us. I have no hatred for you anymore and you can finally rest easy knowing that both mom and I are no longer suffering.”

            Noah jumps. “Oh yea mom, she isn’t….” He looks up to see Caleb’s smile.

            “No, mom was never suffering. She went on peacefully that night. She reached her hand out for me too, but I was the fool who rejected it. But even then, she never stopped holding it out to me and never lost her smile. Just before I got engulfed by the darkness, she whispered to me, “I’ll be waiting here for you when you’re ready.” She didn’t seem to have any regrets and she wasn’t even sad to be losing you. I realize now it’s because she could probably see your strength and she knew that somehow you’d be ok even without her. She knew that you’d one day find people you could rely on and you would find happiness. Now I can see that she was right all along and now I also share in her belief that you’ll find the happiness she envisioned for you.”

            “I’m glad you can have so much faith in me Caleb, but I’m not sure my ending will be happy. I’ve still got something I need to do and although I’m happy that you will finally be at peace with mom, I can’t rest until the Judas and the Junsui are gone forever. Only then can I rest.” Noah puts on an expression of determination and Caleb smiles at him, proud of his resolve.

            “So you’re still going to do it? Even after hearing what pursuing the prophecy will mean for you and your friends, you’re still going to do it? You’re going to face the trials?”

            “I am. I know that Ouran could just as easily kill Judas and end the terror he’s looking to incite, but I can’t let them do that. Judas is my brother, my enemy, my burden and it’s one that I must face alone. He’s taken too much from me to get off so easily. However, I won’t bring my friends down with me. I believe that I can defeat Judas without a stupid sword and so that’s what I’ll do. Using that sword will be the worst case scenario, but even then, I’ll only use it if the others agree. If even one of them says they don’t want to die for the cause, then I’d rather let the world be destroyed then to sacrifice them against their will. Of course I understand that we will probably still be killed or maybe even enslaved by Judas, but to me that’s a better option than betraying my friends. This is my final decision, no matter what Tahno or anyone else thinks.”

            Caleb smiles and hugs him tighter. “Like I said, you haven’t changed at all, Wonderboy.”

            They laugh together and get lost in the moment, but then a voice interrupts them. “So that’s your final answer then Noah?” They both turn and look at the image before them, that has just begun to take shape. A figure with black hair in a long braid and bangs that slightly obscure their red left eye, a turquoise right eye and with skull earrings and necklaces stands before them, their black robe draped across them, falling down to their feet and a tall, sharp scythe resting at their side. They look at Noah with intensity and say, “you’re sure you’ll take this path?”

            Noah looks at Ouran in their new form and it all comes back. He remembers Ouran’s final goodbye just before they plunged that sword into their chest and it all went black. “Ouran!” Noah jumps up and swiftly runs up to Ouran and punches them in the face. Noah clenched his fists, which sting from the impact, but he doesn’t show the pain. Glaring at Ouran he continues, “you idiot! How could you do that? How could you throw away your future just to save us? You wanted to save Simone didn’t you? Isn’t she the woman you love? Didn’t you want to live out your days with her? So why…why would you sacrifice that for me? Or do you plan to keep her down here with you as Queen of the Underworld? Even if that’s the case you’re still an idiot!”

            Ouran straightens their neck, which had been turned to the right by Noah’s punch. With a gentle smile they respond with, “I understand your anger Noah, but I didn’t do this for you, I did this for everyone. Thanks to you and Simone’s scolding’s, I did some quick self-reflection and I realized that I’ve always been thinking of just myself. Even when I’d help others or say I’m doing something for others, it’s really always been for myself. It made me feel like I was important, that I had a purpose, that I was needed. All the things I’d never really felt since I’d been forced out on my own. I’ve always wanted to feel like I could be of use to others, but in a non-selfish way. I wanted to be a real superhero, but I could never figure out how to do so. However, all at once it hit me, if I took on that burden, if I took on all the pain and suffering of the lost souls and liberated them, then I’d be doing something truly selfless and meaningful. I originally had only planned to threaten Hades with it, make him think I was going to destroy him if he didn’t do as I say and kill Judas, but I ultimately realized that just bluffing was still being selfish. If he’d done as I asked, Judas would be dead, the world would be saved and therefore you’d be saved from a pointless death and I’d still get to be with Simone. However, she was right when she said I didn’t love her enough. If I did, I’d have known from the start doing something like that would only torture her conscious and I still would’ve lost her. I would have betrayed your loyalty to after getting your team imprisoned here and so I’d have lost your friendship too. All of that hit me in that moment and I realized how stupid I’d been. So it was directly after in that moment that I had made my choice. I was still going to lose you two regardless, but I’d rather lose you on a good note and without any bad blood between us. So I stabbed myself through my chest, where a heart would be normally. Of course it did nothing to me, but because I was Hades’ heart, you could think of that spot as an invisible link between us. Causing damage to it even in the absence of physical pain is still equivalent to stabbing his heart. As you already know, stabbing Hades’ heart doesn’t kill him as a god, but rather the one who took up the title. So by stabbing my heart, I effectively killed Benjamin and because there always has to be a Hades, I took his place, just as he had done with the Hades before him, the true Hades. Taking his place and condemning myself to an eternity of ruling the underworld is due trade for my sins and likely my destiny. I told you before I was starting to think things were happening for a reason and now I can say that I think this reason is it. I believe this was always my fate. Like I told you Noah, fate isn’t such an easy thing to run from, so I decided to stop fighting it. I will take over the duty of guiding lost souls and judging them fairly. I will right all of Hades’ wrongs and I’m starting with all of you. I’m freeing you all and your loved ones. Consider it my penance. I wish you’d reconsider the prophecy, but I’ll accept your choice and wish you the best. Now, I’m afraid it’s time to say goodbye you two, as it’s time for Caleb to move on from here.”

            Noah still isn’t satisfied with Ouran’s choice, but he realizes he’s got no choice but to accept that it’s what they decided, just as they have accepted that he’s made his choice to carry out the prophecy. So rather than argue any further, he turns to Caleb and hugs him. It’s a hug like he’s never given before and Caleb returns his embrace. They hug for a full minute until Ouran steps towards them and they both understand that time is up. “I guess this is goodbye Caleb. You’d better die for real this time you understand? I’m not coming back down here to save your ass again.” They laugh and Noah finishes by saying, “give my love to mom for me, ok?”

            “Yea, I’m really going this time dude. Can’t have my little brother saving me again, my pride would be shattered. I’ll give her your love, but you make sure to be happy, ok? Prophecies and stuff are whatever, but when it’s all over I expect you to either come join us or if you somehow make it out, I want you to live a life full of happiness with your friends and your girl.” Noah blushes. “Yea, don’t think I didn’t notice. You got yourself quite the catch there little brother, I might just be a bit jealous still after all. Enjoy it enough for us both ok?”

            “Don’t be ridiculous, I’m sure you’ll have the girls in heaven all over you in no time.”

            “Here’s to hoping.” They laugh again and then finally let go. “I love you Noah, really.”

            Although he’d wanted to hold back, he feels tears fall down his cheeks as he says, “yea, love you too Caleb, always. Rest well now.”  Caleb smiles and slowly starts to fade away. Noah watches as his brother, the only one he has only ever truly loved with sincerity as a brother, fade from existence, until nothing is left but sparkles, that fly away and at once are gone. “Goodbye.”

            Noah continues to cry, not even trying to stop the tears anymore. Ouran places a hand on his shoulder. “I know it’s painful to say goodbye to your loved ones, but you should know that he’s gone to a much better place than here. He, along with your mother will finally be able to rest in the due peace they deserve and it’s thanks to you, so let that be your comfort.”

            Noah wipes away his tears. “Yea, I know. I’m still just trying to get a hang on this having a heart and emotions thing.” They chuckle. “So what about you? Is Simone going to be staying?”

            Ouran adamantly shakes their head. “No, not a chance. I’d never subject her to an eternity down here. As much as it’s going to pain us both, we will have to say goodbye as well. So now, for just the day, I permit you and the others to enjoy yourselves here and explore while you can.”

            “While we can? You make it sound like we’ll never see this place again.”

            “You won’t.” Noah looks at Ouran in surprise. “I told you before, this is not a place for the living. Every second you stay down here, the less of a chance you’ll have to leave. That’s just the natural laws of the underworld, not my desire. Like I said before, to even pass through these gates you have to be “dead” and even for us gods, we can only enter this domain if Hades invites us, but at great risk to us. So being that I am now Hades and this is my domain, I have no intention on inviting you back. When I say goodbye to you, the others and even Simone, it’ll be forever.” Noah looks horrified. “Oh come now, don’t look so devastated. I know you won’t miss me that much. Besides, as fellow gods, I’m sure our paths will cross again, just not in this realm. I can also make very brief visits to the overworld, so if you get that lonely maybe I’ll pop in once in a while for a few minutes. As for myself, I’m used to being alone, so I’ll be ok, not lonely.”

            “I know all of that, but it’s still too sad! You did all of this just to save us and the woman you love and now you won’t even get to be with her. That’s such a cruel fate. Fuck fate!”

            Ouran feels touched that Noah is shedding real tears for them and hugs him tight. “I really appreciate it Noah, truly…you’ve been such a good friend. I’ll never forget you.”

            “You better not! Or I swear I’ll find my way back here even if I have to kill myself and beat your ass! You’d better show Simone the best time of her life too, before you go and break her heart. I don’t know her well, but I can tell she really loves you Ouran. She’s got to be hurt.”

            Ouran laughs. “Don’t worry Noah, I’ll be sure to leave a mark on her heart that will last a lifetime, so don’t worry about that. You should just go enjoy the day, see everything you wanted to see down here. You’re not in any danger now, so do whatever you wish. Just be sure to stay away from the river of lost souls. I’m afraid that’s the one place even I can’t save you from if you fall in. You might want to find Mia first though, losing her dad, despite the scum he was is sure to be hard on her. I’m sure she could use your support. I’ll find you when time is up.”

            “Ok. Catch you later then.” He runs towards the door, but just before making his exit, Noah turns to Ouran again. “By the way, you may be Hades or whatever now, but regardless of that you’re still an honorary Junsui Hunter. That title sticks with you for life, so don’t you dare forget it. I believe that the day will come where we all meet again and you’ll fight with us once more. Until then, treasure it.” Noah flashes a cheeky smile and Ouran just simply smiles back.

###

            “Papa….” Mia lies against her father’s chest as the tears fall from her eyes and drench his cotton shirt. He no longer wears his cloak, but a simple pair of jeans and shirt, looking like the humble human he used to be all those years ago. His body is slowly losing heat, becoming colder by the second, but he still manages enough strength to embrace Mia against his chest.

            “Mia, I’m so sorry I failed you. I’m sorry I wasn’t the kind of man I wished I could’ve been, that your mother wanted me to be. Most of all, I’m sorry that I let my selfishness take her away from you. She loved you very much and was such a good person. I didn’t deserve her and I don’t deserve you. I’m sorry I tried to keep you locked away from the world, away from true happiness. I hope you’ll forgive me one day and that you’ll live a long life of happiness with the man that you love. I finally can see that Noah is a much better man than I, he deserves you.”

            Mia can feel his grip weakening and knows she’s almost out of time. “Papa! I forgive you now! I’m still hurt that you’d kill my mother and that you’d try to imprison me, and I’ll always resent you for those things, but even still, I forgive you. Despite the terrible things you’ve done, you’re still my Papa and I love you. I’ll always love you. So please…just go in peace now.”

            “Mia…my Mia…. I’m so…happy. I know where I’m going will not be a peaceful place, but knowing you’ve forgiven me will make it all the more bearable. Thank you, thanks so….”

            His words trail off as the last bit of heat and the final breath leaves his body. He’s gone. “Papa!” Mia continues to cry against his chest, until she feels someone’s hand on her shoulder. She looks up startled, but when she sees Noah’s face looking back at her in remorse, she begins to cry harder and falls into his chest. He holds her close as she cries, feeling as though he’s feeling true sympathy for the first time. He watches as Hades…no Benjamin begins to crumble, leaving behind nothing but dust. He doesn’t know Mia well yet, but holding her like this feels as though he’s been doing it for a lifetime. He’s not sure he can say he loves her just yet, even if she is his heart, but he can at least say for sure that he’s eager to learn more about her. He wants to know everything and he wants to become a man who she’s right to love. However, he’s also conscious of the fact that getting to close may not be a good idea right now anyway, since very soon, he could very well be dying. Then again, if that happens, then she would have to die too. All at once, Noah feels that everything has just become that much more complicated.

###

            “I think we need to talk, to clear up the foul air between us. What do you say?” Lili sits with her back against Gunther’s and looks to the side, trying to catch a glimpse of his face.

            He sighs and then turns his head as well. “You’re right, so I’ll start. I still love you.”

            “I know. I still love you too.”

            “I still love you, but I can’t handle your crazy. I’m not as strong as Mai.”

            “I know; I won’t ask you to. Just knowing that you love me is enough.”

            “I can’t handle your crazy, so I won’t try, but don’t think I’m giving up. One day, I know that you’re going to be healed, probably by Mai and whenever that day comes, no matter how long it takes, just know that I’m coming for you. I’ll find you wherever you are, steal you back from Mai or whoever else and will make you my wife. It’s a promise, do you understand Lili?!”

            “Please do. I’ll be waiting.” They continue to face away, with their backs against each other’s so that neither can see the other crying. Although they both wish to share one last kiss, neither can bring themselves to make a move. However, they both reach back their hands, eventually finding the other’s and they grip it tightly. This embrace says everything they desire to say without having to utter another word. They sit like that for quite a long time, smiling.

###

            “Are we really just going to stay in bed all day Nik? Not that I’m not enjoying it but….”

            Nik stops kissing Jove’s neck just long enough to say, “is there something better you have in mind? Because I don’t. I just want to spend whatever time we have left here in this bed, together, doing all sorts of fun things. I don’t know what’s going to happen now that Ouran is trapped here and you and Simone must return to your nation. I know that I can’t go with you and you can’t stay with me, so where will that leave us? I’m not ready to let you go just yet. I mean I just found you and so now to have to let you go, it’s too cruel.” Nik embraces him tenderly.

            “I know; I feel the same way. I’m not sure what’s going to happen yet either, but I do know I don’t want to lose you. So somehow we’ll find a way. Not sure how yet, but we will.”

            “I really hope so, but for now, let’s not waste a single second.” They continue kissing.

###

            “I’m so happy we can do this again, especially since out first picnic got epically ruined.”

            Mai watches as Eve laughs and she feels a strange sensation in her stomach. “Well who’s fault do you think that was? I hope your learned your lesson now.” They laugh.

            “Oh trust me, I’ll never be making a deal with Hades again that’s for sure, though I hope this new one isn’t going to be as much of a jerk.”

            “Well Ouran is a lot of things, probably even a bit of a jerk at times, but I can honestly say that they are a hundred times better than Benjamin was as Hades. If nothing else, you can rest easy knowing they won’t intentionally make you suffer. I’m sure they’re going to change things down here for the better. But maybe it won’t matter in your case, can’t you move on yet? I mean now that you’ve gotten to see me again, can’t you finally go in peace?”

            “I’d love that Mai, I really would, but I’ve done too many wrongs in my life to move on to a better place. If anything, I’ll end up right in hell with the others, it’s probably where I belong anyway. I killed so many people, including your father Mai. You can’t possible say that I’m worth forgiveness. You should be the first one lining up to push me straight down to hell.”

            “Hmm, you’re probably right.” Eve looks pained. “However….” Mai leans forward and takes Eve’s chin in her hand, pushing her head up towards her. “I’ve recently learned a bit about what it means to forgive and maybe it’s true what they say.” She kisses Eve with a passion Eve’s only ever dreamed of receiving from Mai and it sends her floating on air.

            After she pulls away and she catches her breath, Eve asks, “and what do they say?”

            “That we only hurt the ones we love the most and you did. You hurt me in the worst possible way you could just as you said, but now I think I’m really starting to believe that you do really love me that much. Want to know the craziest part?” Eve nods. “Well, I think I just might love you too and that’s why I had to kill you with my own two hands. Now that I have, I think I’m ready to forgive you. So now that I have, I want you to move on from here, and be free.”

            Eve stares into Mai’s eyes, not quite sure if she can believe that this is actually happening now, but looking into Mai’s eyes, she can see her honesty, for the first time ever shine through. Tears start to form and then steadily fall from her eyes. “I’m going to miss you though.”

            “I know, I’m going to miss you too, but it’s time to move on now. You deserve peace.”

            They embrace and coming just at the appropriate time, Ouran arrives. “She’s right Eve.”

            They turn to see Ouran standing beside them. “Ouran…so this is you as Hades now?”

            “Yes Mai, this is my new and final form. What do you think?”

            “I think you’re finally starting to look like a real reaper god.” They chuckle.

            Eve stands and faces Ouran. “So this is really it? I really get to move on now?”

            “Not just move on actually. You see Eve, by being selfless and trying to stand against Hades for Mai’s sake, you found redemption. It’s rare, but if a lost spirit manages to redeem themselves somehow before they move on from here, they are allowed to pass through the gate of rebirth. In other words, you don’t just get to move on to heaven, you get to live again.”

            Both Mai and Eve are equally surprised, but Eve says, “I can’t believe it, for real?”

            “Yes for real. I told you it’s rare, but it can happen. You’re one of the lucky ones.”

            Eve becomes overjoyed and turns to Mai, who is actually smiling herself. “Oh Mai, isn’t that wonderful? We’ll get to be together again! I never thought this would be possible!”

            “That’s really great Eve. I’m truly happy for you, you can finally have a nice life.”

            “It’s a great thing, but there is a catch.” Ouran interrupts their joy, ruining the mood.

            “A catch, what is it?” Eve looks at Ouran with anticipation.

            Ouran feels a bit bad, but also believes they’ll find a way to work it out. “Well the truth is, you do get to be reborn, but you will return as a human and more importantly, you will not remember anything from your past life. It’s like reincarnation, but rather than being born again as a baby, you will be reborn as you are now, but you will remember nothing of your past and instead will have a whole new life and persona. You can also end up anywhere in the world.”

            “What a cheap shot!” Mai is upset. “I know you don’t make those rules Ouran, but isn’t that just too cruel? There’s really no other way for her to be reborn and keep her memories?”

            “I’m sorry Mai, but there isn’t. I hate this too, but it’s the only option.”

            Eve turns to Mai and looks at her with a heartbroken expression and tears in her eyes. Mai feels real pain in her chest and quickly hugs Eve. “It’ll be ok Eve, so don’t cry.”

            “How, how will it be ok Mai? I’ll end up somewhere on the other side of the earth or something and remember nothing about you. How can I not cry knowing that Mai?”

            “Don’t cry because I’m going to find you again. No matter what it takes or how long, I will find you again and make you fall for me. I’ll make you love me even more than now.”

            Eve cries even harder, but also smiles. “I’ll hold you to that then. You better find me.”

            “I will. I’ll find you and I’ll never let you get away from me again. I swear on my life.”

            They embrace for several more minutes until finally Ouran speaks. “It’s time Eve.” Ouran slashes their scythe through the air and a door appears and opens up. “This is the gate of rebirth. Once you walk through it, your new life will begin. I wish you all the best, good luck.”

            Eve looks back to Mai and she nudges her forward. “Get going, I’ll catch up soon.”

            Eve kisses Mai once more, before turning and facing the door, which has appeared right on the edge of the river. Ouran gives her a final reassuring nod and after looking back at Mai once more, she begins to walk towards the gate. Just as she lifts her floor to step through, she hears a shout and then all at once, she’s falling straight towards the river, unable to react at all.

            “Lili no!” Gunther shouts as loud as he can and continues to run after Lili, but he acted too late. He knew he shouldn’t have let her hear all of that, but his own interest distracted him.

            Lili appeared next to Eve with impressive speed, even without being able to use her abilities and shoved her towards the river, thinking about neither action nor consequence, blinded by her jealousy. She watches as Eve drops down to the river, their eyes connecting briefly. Eve has never seen eyes filled with such malice and hatred and is so shell shocked that she can’t even scream. Just before plunging into the deepest depths of the river, she can just barely hear Lili say, “I told you she was mine.”

            As she makes contact with the water, she gets one final glance at Mai, who to her surprise looks completely devastated. She thinks she even sees a tear. Eve smiles as she sinks deeper down, happy that if nothing else, she finally got to see Mai’s true feelings and that she could even shed a tear for a person like her. She thinks to herself, I’m sorry Mai, looks like I don’t deserve redemption after all. But thank you for crying over me. I’m happy…so happy….” She fades away and then there is nothing but darkness and despair as her soul becomes damned.

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