Chapter 24:

Not So Divine


The classic cliche of time slowing down, life passing before your eyes, blissfully seeing the ghosts of the departed as they greet you into your new home, none of that applied here. At least for Yuki that is, the onlookers, they definitely were going through some well worn tropes. However, clarity filled Yuki, not resolve or determination, just a sight through everything.

To everyone’s surprise, the arm stopped and Yuki remained unmoved. It wasn’t immediately clear why, until Yuki’s hand could be seen stopping the fist. Everyone took a step back trying to figure out how the school’s punching bag caught a fist.

A darkened shadow hung over Yuki with the hand up near his face. The heavy tone etched into his features snapped like a balloon though when Yuki pulled up his head. “Is that… you? Seiji!” The tall teen retracted his fist, satisfied with the results. Yuki leapt forward grabbing onto Seiji’s waist making him spin around.

Ayumi narrowed her eyes on the moments of happiness from Yuki. ‘For an instant he had the look of a wild animal… What was that? I’ve never seen Yuki look like that before.’ She held back to the outside of the group still trying to sort through what she had seen a moment ago.

Saki had nearly the same expression on her face that Ayumi did, but for a different reason. ‘No… I thought he was gone for good… I haven’t seen that look on Yuki in a while…dammit Seiji!’ She quickly changed her look into a half scowl as Seiji stepped closer to her. “Hey, Seiji…”


“What are you doing here, Seiji?” Her words ran cold as she stared at him.

“Yeah! I haven’t seen you in like a year, Seiji! What have you been doing?” Yuki was almost clinging on to Seiji with the excitement of an eight year old getting a present. It left all of his friends staring still in shock at the whole thing.

None of them knew what to make of the very tall stranger from another school, judging by his traditional white and black uniform. Seiji stood much taller than Yuki or anyone else around and had his shoulder length dark brown hair tied back in a short ponytail. His uniform jacket was left open with the dress shirt underneath showing. He had a wild look in his eyes while his face seemed to have a calm stoic appearance.

Hiroshi recovered first stepping around on the other side, keeping his distance from Saki. “Judging from Yuki, you seem to know each other. Did you go to the same junior high together?”

“Hell no, if you can believe it! We’re old friends! Though damn, if it hasn’t been quite some time!” Seiji seemed to gain a softer expression and a smile like he was recalling fond memories. It still left everyone a little confused.

“What’s with the fist then?”

“Oh that? It’s just something between us.”

“Yeah, Seiji likes to kid around like that. Sorry for the scare guys.” Yuki stood up on his own looking a little embarrassed about what had happened before. Seiji apologized for his misunderstanding earlier, smoothing out things, but the uncertainty did not leave the air. Saki remained staring cautiously at Seiji the entire time that they were talking.

“I was actually hoping to catch up on old time with Yuki, but I didn’t mean to interrupt you and your friends.”

“Interrupt, you nearly dropped Yuki to the ground with your interruption.”

Seiji rubbed the back of his head trying to brush it off. “Damn, I said I was sorry already, Saki. Old habits.”

“Old habits?” Her expression became tight and thin, no longer as intense, but still holding a commanding presence. Arms crossed and standing undaunted to a boy built nearly twice the size of her. “What do you want?”

Yuki remained hanging on to Seiji, though his cheerful expression dropped a little from seeing Saki glaring eyes at the two of them. Seiji held his calm demeanor in front of Saki not fearing her like the others normally would when she entered defense mode. “I told you before that I'm hoping to catch the hell up on old times with Yuki. I’m not planning on stealing him away from all of his friends.”

Despite the positive energy coming out of Seiji, the tension remained in the air. The bystanders started to look a little nervous about where things were going. Yuki stepped in between the two finally. “Don’t you trust Seiji, Saki? We’ve known him since junior high.” He turned to face her trying, though failing to obscure Seiji’s form from sight. “Besides, he’s a Shinto Priest. How can you not trust that?”

“Shinto Priest?!” the bystanders all asked with varying levels of shock.

“The hell, man?! I thought I told you to keep that to yourself. You’ll ruin my image!” He quickly hurried in, putting a hand over Yuki’s mouth to attempt to cut off the damage.

Chapter 24 – Not so Divine

“A-are you really?” The confusion on Ayumi’s face came from genuine curiosity. She glanced around the group gauging the others.

Saki stepped in between Seiji and Ayumi looking over at her. “No, he’s not. Yuki’s overstating things. He’s in training, his family runs one of the shrines in town. The one on the hill up in the north.”

“Aw… Come on, Saki.” Yuki tried one last time to get Saki to see his side including sorrowful eyes to add to the pressure, but it did not work. She tried to nudge in towards Hiroshi, but he resisted. “Saki!”

“Let’s go, Yuki. We already had plans today.” Saki continued to push on Yuki. She hoped that Hiroshi or someone would help her, but they remained confused or stunned. They didn’t understand. ‘I can’t risk it! I won’t let you turn him back!’ As Yuki put up more resistance, she used her strength no longer being polite. “He’s been gone for more than a year. That’s not a friend for you.”

“No, Saki!” He sidestepped away from Saki, moving towards Seiji once more. Her odd behavior fueled him to drop his usual smile. ‘Why is she acting so strangely?’ Part of it he understood well enough. The length and intensity she went painted everything with a completely different tone than he expected. This wasn’t the Saki he knew. “What’s the matter with you, Saki? Seiji’s a friend.”

Saki's eyes widened almost immediately at the rejection. “But Yuki! He’s… How can…” She tried to grab for Yuki once more, but he stepped back before she had a chance to even get close to him. “Yuki?”

“I’m staying. I know you have your problems with Seiji, but you need to be more understanding. This isn’t like you, Saki. I’m allowed to spend time with who I want. Please respect that.”

Witnessing such a serious and well spoken version of Yuki brought more rounds of shock. That quickly dampened as the string that bound the two started to unravel before them. The wisest action they all made kept them as bystanders and taking an extra step back.

It hit Saki hard. Harder than she expected. Was that it came from Yuki? Perhaps because it was true? Emotions started to drown the uncertainty. Her body did the only thing it could see as a solution.

Saki ran away.

Seiji stepped forward with a long face stopping at Yuki’s side looking down at him. The emotions packed into the air weren’t missed on him. “Hey, don’t worry about it, man. I’m not trying to step in the middle of anything.” He placed his hand on Yuki’s shoulder for reassurance.

“But still… She shouldn’t have said that to you.”

“Hell, I’ve heard much worse! It’s fine.”

“I’m sorry, Seiji.”

“Hey, don’t apologize to me, man! That’s not like the Yuki I know.”

“The Yuki you know is gone…” Yuki stepped forward from Seiji’s reach, keeping his back to him. He was certainly happy to see Seiji again, but Seiji was a part of his past that he buried away. He didn’t know how to process the myriad emotions that suddenly came over him.

“I know…” Seiji walked around to the side of Yuki staring forward with him. “Well as much as I like the gloomy air this should be a pleasant time. Where the hell do you wanna go?” Yuki looked over at Seiji, a little surprised to be hearing those words from him.

Hiroshi and Ayumi, followed distantly by Tatsuya and Kazuhiro, chased after Saki, who was being difficult to catch due to her natural talents. “I thought… sprinters… were only supposed… to be… good at short… distances…” He was a little surprised that the frail Ayumi was keeping up with him, but Hiroshi was hardly an athlete.

“Do-do-do you… think we…sh-should go after…her?” Ayumi stared over at Hiroshi at a loss to what occurred. It was the problem with the lie she made. Each day, she learned how much history she technically should know.

“Yeah… I don’t want to leave her alone like that.” Making a quick nod to his friends, Hiroshi gave her an inviting motion as they ran off after Saki. About a block into it, the realization hit that they were chasing after someone on the track team. Gloom fell over them while forcing themselves forward.

All they could hope to do was not lose sight of her. Dodging around strangers and panting on burning lungs, they struggled forward a second block. They were going to have to chase her over the whole city. At least that was the fear in their oxygen starved mind.

To their bodies' relief, Saki stopped a few blocks ahead. The third and fourth block, they pretended to keep up pace, but stamina gave out long ago. But Saki remained still, slouched over a little as they slowly approached.

Ayumi approached while the others recovered their voices. She reached out for Saki. Upon contact, she stepped away and turned to the wall of the nearby building. Saki dropped her back against the wall half sliding down, but propped up enough not to collapse. “...Yuki…”

Once he had recovered enough to speak without pausing, Hiroshi leaned in to Saki trying to get a better look at her. He was surprised to see such emotions painted so deeply into her face for someone that was always so tough. “Saki, what’s going on? Why did you run away?”

Saki remained quiet with her head held down while Ayumi moved to help Hiroshi. “S-saki? You can talk to us. If-if you don’t want to say it to Yuki.” It didn’t seem like much was getting through to her, but Yuki’s name widened her eyes once more like it was a trigger within her.

Saki stood up and tried to start running, but Hiroshi was able to grab a hold of her arm. Quickly, he stepped in front of her to keep her from leaving. “We’ll listen…”

Hiroshi felt the weight of Saki on him, though it was less like she was trying to knock him down and closer to needing the support to stay on her feet. He pulled Saki back by the shoulders and arms away from him to look at her. An empty almost soulless eyes made Hiroshi question more closely what was going on. It only continued to make him confused by what was spinning around in Saki’s mind. ‘Did Yuki’s words hurt her that seriously?’

He looked over to Ayumi for some help, but saw that she was becoming affected by the mood pouring out from Saki. “Why don’t we go over there and take a break.” A restaurant across the street presented itself as a comfortable environment. “Everyone could use some rest.”

“Yeah, definitely,” Tatsuya said, finally recovering his breath to speak.

A soft whisper of voices filled the restaurant as they found a seat. Silence hung around everyone until the waitress arrived for their order. It signaled enough courage to break the atmosphere.

Once they were alone again, Hiroshi made the first effort. “So Saki, you going to let us in on who Seiji is and why he’s got you so upset?” Tatsuya and Kazuhiro both looked over at Hiroshi’s brave move and left uncertain about how Saki would end up reacting to Hiroshi. They knew Saki to be more violent and willing to throw her fists than talk about personal things, but today was much different for her.

Saki remained quiet still for some time. It was not until their drinks and food arrived that Saki even looked up from staring at the table. ‘What’s the matter with you, Saki? Seiji’s a friend.’ Yuki’s voice echoed in her mind, stunning her again as it had before.

She gripped her hands together tightly as they rested against her skirt. ‘I’m staying.’ The events from before were repeatedly playing through her mind. “…Yuki…”


Ayumi slapped her hand over Saki’s face, shocking everyone. “Get a hold of yourself, Saki! This isn’t like you to be depressed like this! Snap out of it!”