Chapter 16:

Day 595: Today, I Shall Return To My Ex-Girlfriends

Death by Ex-Girlfriend: War Cloud

Yoko's electric lanterns flickered for a moment. The batteries were going to die soon. As Yoko and Hidetaka wrapped up their meeting, Akatsuki played with Omagatoki's hair, twirling and braiding it for her to pass the time. They were like two kids waiting for their parents to finish talking to someone at the grocery store.Bookmark here

"Overthrow the god of war? Osamu is in on this?" Yoko questioned.Bookmark here

"He's devoted to it just as much as I am." Hidetaka replied. "So, I suppose even though he's back, his life is still at risk. But for now, he's alive and well."Bookmark here

Hidetaka stood up and stretched his arms. "You can breathe now, Yoko."Bookmark here

Yoko was still overwhelmed with emotion. She stopped herself from crying again, but bowed to Hidetaka in a show of appreciation. "Thank you so much for bringing him back. I can never repay you for your deed. Of course, I'll be thanking Izanami as well."Bookmark here

"Come now. There's no need for you to repay me. Akatsuki, Omagatoki, let's go."Bookmark here

The twins got up from their seats and held hands with Hidetaka, who prepared to use them to teleport out of the area.Bookmark here

"Oh, I almost forgot. Osamu will visit you soon." Hidetaka said.Bookmark here

"He will?! When?" Yoko panicked. "I-I have to make sure my hair is right and my best dress is clean! Should I wear make up? No, no! Osamu prefers natural beauty! I wonder what I should cook for him! Steak? Chicken? Maybe a soup?"Bookmark here

Akatsuki pinched Omagatoki's haori as she spoke "If I may offer some advice, I wouldn't worry about appearances or meals. Knowing Osamu, he wants to see you as you are, because the truth is, you are Yoko Akiyama. You don't need to do anything else than be yourself to mean something to him."Bookmark here

Hearing those words, Yoko sighed away her anxiety and collected her thoughts. "You know, you really are smarter than you let on, Akatsuki. Or can I call you Nini now?"Bookmark here

Omagatoki blushed. "Nini?! That's a cute nickname!"Bookmark here

Akatsuki remained straightfaced, but her face was as pink as a rose. "Nini? As in 'Sun' twice? I quite like it."Bookmark here

"Alright then!" Yoko smiled. "From now on, I'll call you Nini and your sister Oma. It's my thanks for taking care of Osamu and Gekko."Bookmark here

Hidetaka softly chuckled. "Don't be rude. Say thank you."Bookmark here

Akatsuki bowed, unable to look Yoko in the eyes. "T-thank you for your hospitality, and for the nickname."Bookmark here

"Bye-bye! See you soon!" Omagatoki sang.Bookmark here

"Farewell, Yoko." Hidetaka said with a wave.Bookmark here

Yoko waved goodbye to the twins as they vanished with their master in an instant. Though she was beyond elated to know that Osamu was alive, she couldn't help but shake her head at him. Somehow, the man had gotten himself embroiled in a fight against a god of war, and was being aided by three other deities and a pair of time-controlling twins.Bookmark here

(That night was magical for me. I believe I was able to hold my excitement until I got home, then it all just sort of leaked out. Or maybe I should say spilled out. Oh my, I hope you aren't misinterpreting my words and had some gross sexual image in your head. My apologies, that's my fault. What I meant was that I paraded around the house in joyous tears and screamed like I was still a high school girl. How could I not? My husband was coming back. The very next day, I went over to Isabella's house, eager to inform her of the great news. I politely knocked on her door like the cordial friend and law-abiding, well-behaved citizen I am.)Bookmark here

Isabella sat on her living room sofa, the rising sun piercing through her easternmost windows when she received a barrage of violent bangs upon her front door.Bookmark here

"Izzy! Open up, you beautiful, blonde slut! I have great news!"Bookmark here

Isabella, barely awake, opened the door and stared at Yoko with a mix of apathy and anger. "Can't you knock on people's doors like a normal human being? What do you want?"Bookmark here

"Izzy, listen to me. Osamu is still alive!"Bookmark here

"April Fool's was six days ago, Yoko."Bookmark here

"I'm serious! I ran into a pair of time-bending spirit twins who gave me a letter from a guy named Hidetaka who was actually Tsu—"Bookmark here

(Wait, I shouldn't go blabbing about his true identity.)Bookmark here

"Anyway, I got the letter, met with Hidetaka, and he showed me everything! Osamu and Tsukiakari are both still alive, Izzy! I'm not making this up!"Bookmark here

"Wow, that's great." Isabella sang with a sarcastic, rising tone. "Now leave."Bookmark here

Yoko blocked the door with her foot as Isabella tried to close it. "Isabella! Just stay with me for a few days! Osamu is going to come by very soon! He's coming back! Even if I'm lying, all you lose is a bit of time alone in this house!"Bookmark here

Isabella took a moment to think it over. "Fine. I'll come over. But I think you're full of crap."Bookmark here

"Thank you!" Yoko said, bowing in gratitude.Bookmark here

"Seriously though, don't bang on my door like you're a god damn yakuza." Isabella groaned. "I could've shot you, you know."Bookmark here

(Of course. How could she believe anything I was saying? She had seen the supernatural with her own eyes, but to convince her that someone who died over a year ago was somehow still alive...well, I'd need proof. I also believe that, perhaps, Isabella didn't want to believe what I was saying. She had already gone through the stages of grieving. Believing that Osamu was alive would undo the long and bitter healing process that comes with moving forward after the death of a loved one. Still, she was about to have her world rocked.)Bookmark here

Yoko helped Isabella pack a bag full of her essentials, enough for a three day stay at Yoko's place. In less than an hour, they were both ready to go. Yoko carried Isabella over to her wheelchair and plopped her black backpack onto her lap.Bookmark here

"Here, I'll steer you." Yoko said.Bookmark here

"You're not planning on wheeling me down a flight of stairs, are you?" Isabella asked with a cringe.Bookmark here

Yoko smiled as she folded a few stray strands of blonde hair behind Isabella's ear. "No. I'm planning on bringing my friend home."Bookmark here

Isabella knew Yoko long enough to know when she was being sincere. She could sense the unspoken guilt and yearning from Yoko, just by looking into her ocean-blue eyes. She casted her gaze down at her paralyzed legs, fighting against the tears welling in her eyes.Bookmark here

"Yoko...I don't want to come home to an empty house anymore."Bookmark here

Yoko nodded. "I know. You're home is with me, and that house isn't going to be empty for long."Bookmark here

"You're not lying? He's really coming back?"Bookmark here

"I swear it."Bookmark here

"Okay." Isabella said. "Take us home."Bookmark here

"With pleasure." Yoko whispered.Bookmark here

After a short stroll down the street, they arrived at Yoko's house. Yoko stopped on the sidewalk, allowing Isabella a moment to take in the sight of the house's exterior.Bookmark here

"Wow...this place has kind of gone to shit, huh?" Isabella mocked. "When was the last time you mowed the lawn? The grass is getting way too tall!"Bookmark here

"I was too depressed to mow the lawn! I probably would've flipped it upside down and laid on it!" Yoko protested.Bookmark here

Isabella laughed. "Sorry! I'd mow it for you, but...well, just look at me."Bookmark here

"That's okay. Are you ready to head in? I promise it's clean on the inside." Yoko tittered.Bookmark here

"Yeah. Let's go inside." Isabella agreed.Bookmark here

They entered through the front door, discarding their shoes and hoodies before going down the hall and into the kitchen. Isabella took several deep breaths as she looked around at the kitchen and living room. A frown painted on her face showed just how overwhelmed she was being back in the house after a year. She could remember each day since Osamu returned. The window she had shot through so long ago was still broken to this very day.Bookmark here

"You still haven't fixed this?" Isabella asked.Bookmark here

"You were supposed to fix it, but you moved out." Yoko replied.Bookmark here

"That's right. I'm sorry. I can probably have some people come by and install a new window."Bookmark here

"You're so impersonal." Yoko mocked.Bookmark here

Isabella took a good look around the house. Yoko hadn't changed a thing since Osamu died. "Hey, Yoko. Be honest. Were you joking back there? About Osamu still being alive?"Bookmark here

"Of course not. Not even I would tell such a cruel joke. Osamu is alive, and he's coming."Bookmark here

"When?"Bookmark here

"Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. Who knows? I just know it's soon."Bookmark here

Isabella managed to get herself off of the wheelchair and onto the stool by the kitchen counter. Yoko almost worried herself, but Isabella had apparently gained a lot of upper-body strength during her time in the wheelchair. Yoko was caught so off guard by Isabella's small show of strength that she didn't realize she had tears rolling down her cheek. She quickly wiped them away so Isabella wouldn't see them.Bookmark here

"I'll take some peach juice, please!" Isabella sang with a nostalgic grin.Bookmark here

(I never thought I'd be so glad to see that smile again.)Bookmark here

Finally feeling the joy of serving food and drinks to her beloved guests once more, Yoko obliged. "Coming right up, Gaijin"Bookmark here

(Gaijin started out as one of my enemies, another obstacle between me and Osamu. She was the only one deadly enough to fight with me on equal ground. I admit, I've garnered a deep respect and love for her. Rather, for everyone that filled this home and my life. So, I was glad to finally have her back in the house. I could tell it was a bit unsettling for her, but I hope I made it easy. Even if it just starts with the two of us, I want to rebuild the happiness that was in this home. In fact, I will rebuild it. That's just who I am. Yoko Akiyama is always committed to those she loves.)Bookmark here

Yoko and Isabella found themselves on the front lawn at night, drinking sake together and watching the stars flicker in the sky.Bookmark here

"I'm glad you came back, Izzy." Yoko said.Bookmark here

"Is that genuine love I hear in your voice? How unbecoming of you, Yoko." Isabella snickered.Bookmark here

"I'm just committed, not heartless."Bookmark here

"I'm glad I came back too, Yoko. I was scared to ever come back here, but I think that fear has gone away now."Bookmark here

Yoko smiled and planted a soft kiss on Isabella's cheek. "Good. You're always welcome here. Now if you can just fix that window already..."Bookmark here

"I know, I know! Geez..."Bookmark here

A faint, buzzing noise filled their ears. It sounded as if it was coming from the sky, like a plane flying over their heads. The sound got louder and louder, and was accompanied by dazzling lights in the sky. It looked like an asteroid burning through the atmosphere. As the crashing object burned through the sky, an aurora borealis instantly formed above the scattered clouds, painting the darkness in dancing waves of green and purple.Bookmark here

"What is that?!" Isabella exclaimed.Bookmark here

The asteroid-like object flew over their heads and sounded like it crashed near the grave yard ahead, leaving a plume of smoke to lead them to its location.Bookmark here

"Yoko!"Bookmark here

"I know!"Bookmark here

Yoko wheeled Isabella with her as fast as she could towards the crash site. The flickering light of dancing flames illuminated the bottom of the plume of smoke as it continued to rise into the air. Just as they thought, whatever it was, it landed right in the middle of the woodlands between the town and the graveyard. Some of the surrounding trees had the leaves stripped off and were knocked over from the force of the blast. Yoko and Isabella stood before the crash site with their mouths agape in wonder.Bookmark here

"Was it an asteroid?" Isabella asked.Bookmark here

"It would've wiped us all out by now if that was the case." Yoko surmised.Bookmark here

(Wait...)Bookmark here

A young man rose above the mess of upturned soil and broken trees, wearing a black cloak over his body. The sleeves of his cloak were rolled up, revealing his toned arms and a bracelet of beads on his right wrist. He held a golden sword in his right hand, the blade rested across his shoulders. A silver peace sign necklace dangled around his slightly exposed chest, dazzling by the light of the flames. His head of raven hair, once long and girlish, was now a shoulder length lion's mane of curls. On his face was a calm and loving smile, despite the fire and smoke behind him. Isabella covered her mouth as she began to cry, and Yoko couldn't turn her eyes away from the man of the century.Bookmark here

"Welcome home...Osamu." Yoko said, tears rolling down her cheeks.Bookmark here

Indeed, it was Osamu, back in black and fully recovered. "Yoko, Isabella...I'm back!"Bookmark here

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