The Unforgivable Sin
After her vanquishing of James, Alenia took to the roof of her school. In one of her hands was the Sword of Hell, in the other was the Sword of Heaven. “It’s time for you to come out and play,” she announced.
Alenia then drove the Sword of Hell into the roof, wedging it tightly into the concrete. “Now, Hikaru,” she said, holding the Sword of Heaven before her body, “we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way. It’s your choice.” There was no response. “Very well. We’ll do it the hard way.”
A bright blue light surrounded Alenia, and when it did, the Sword of Heaven turned into Hikaru. “Now, you stubborn little bitch,” said Alenia, gripping her prey tightly, “it’s time for you to fulfill your true destiny!”
Hikaru tried frantically to free herself, but struggling did nothing more than tire her out and prompt a boisterous laugh to burst from Alenia.
“Do you understand now?” asked Alenia as she absorbed Hikaru into her body. “I always get what I want. For I am my own master!”
Once Hikaru had completely been consumed, Alenia let out a horrendous scream. But the pain she was experiencing would be well worth it as Alenia’s black wings changed to gray. Upon seeing the magnificent metamorphosis, Alenia let out another boisterous laugh.
A week had passed since James’ death and every one of those school days had been missed by Jaycee. Sage and Aiko, on the other hand, continued to attend. Had the choice been left up to Sage, he would have passed the days away alone at home, but Aiko insisted the two continue attending school.
Sage and Aiko’s teacher stood at the front of the class and called out roll. “Miss Annadale,” he said. “Please tell me Miss Annadale is here today.”
“She’s still sick,” said Aiko. “But she’ll be back soon. I promise.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t waste my breath calling the new students’ names, either,” said Sage and Aiko’s teacher. What the teacher was referring to was both Hikaru and Daisuke had also been absent for the past week.
“But why are we still here?” whispered Sage, gripping his pencil so tightly that it began to crack. Sage had unknowingly whispered loudly enough to where Aiko could hear.
Vice Principal Takagi was seated at her desk in her unusually bright office when there was a knock on the door. “Come in,” she said.
A man entered. “These documents just need your looking over and your signature, Ms. Vice Principal,” said the man, handing over a folder.
“Thank you,” said the vice principal.
After the man exited, Vice Principal Takagi began scanning the files. “It’s true what they say, a woman’s work is never done,” she said. Shortly after those words had been spoken, a trickle of blood began to run from the vice principal’s nose. “What is this?” she asked, dabbing at the blood with her finger.
A demon had entered its master’s chamber to report to the king. As usual only the demon king’s immense red eyes were visible within the smothering darkness. In a series of growls, the demon reported extremely unsatisfactory news.
The demon king let out a few growls of his own before unleashing a roar so ferocious that it shook the chamber walls. So violent was the shaking that large chunks of debris began falling from the ceiling, forcing the king’s subordinate to flee.
The school day had come to its end and students were on their way home.
“It took some serious convincing, but Jaycee agreed to meet us tonight,” said Aiko, who was gazing out a second floor window.
“When did she agree to that?” asked Sage.
“I called her this afternoon,” replied Aiko. “I needed something to do while I was skipping all my classes.”
“Why were you skipping all of your classes?” asked Sage. “It was your idea to keep coming to school. Have you changed your mind?”
“I don’t know,” said Aiko. “The only reason I wanted to be here was because I was afraid if we stopped living our lives, then we would disappear, too. But the more I think about it, the more I think that not disappearing might be even worse.”
“It shows how different we are from everyone else,” said Sage. “Recent events have only made that all the more clear.”
“You’re right,” said Aiko. “We are different from everyone else. So what does that make us? Are we nothing more than empty vessels like Hikaru and Daisuke? Just a bunch of weapons? Used only when the time calls for us?”
Vice Principal Takagi arrived. Rather than announcing her arrival, she grabbed Aiko by the shoulder, prompting her student to turn and face her. Seeing who it was, Aiko violently pulled away. “Don’t touch me,” she exclaimed.
The students in the hallway stopped to see what was happening.
“What the hell do you want from us now!” exclaimed Aiko. “Haven’t you done enough already to ruin our lives?”
“Well, Miss Nakamura,” said Vice Principal Takagi, “I merely wanted to inform you that the roll sheets have you as absent from your afternoon classes, yet here you are. Would you care to explain to me why that is?”
“I had more important things to take care of.”
“Is that so?” asked the vice principal.
“Yeah, so what are you gonna do about it?”
“Well, I thought I would have you stay after school and do some cleaning. If you have time in that busy schedule of yours, that is.”
“Yeah,” said Aiko. “I’ll stay after school.”
“So will I,” said Sage.
“I’m sorry,” said Vice Principal Takagi, “but we’re going to be locking the school up once all the students leave. No one’s allowed in or out unless I say so.”
“It’s alright, Sage,” said Aiko. “Go to Jaycee. She needs you more than I do.” As Aiko spoke, she kept her glare on the vice principal.
“Don’t worry, Sage, I’m not going to hurt her,” said Vice Principal Takagi. “So be on your way. And that goes for the rest of you. We’re locking the school up in five minutes. So I suggest you not be in here when that happens.”
For the next hour Aiko was locked inside the gymnasium. She had been told to put away sports equipment, but she had done nothing. Aiko knew she would be receiving a visit soon, so she decided to refrain from burning any energy.
Not at all to Aiko’s surprise, when the doors opened it was Vice Principal Takagi who entered. “I can’t say that I’m surprised to find you haven’t started the task assigned to you,” she said. “You’ve always been one of my worst students.”
“Cut the act,” said Aiko. “We both know why I’m here.”
“Then I suppose you would rather deal with me in my other form,” said the vice principal. She was then consumed by a swirl of black smoke. When it cleared, Alenia was left behind. “Sorry it took so long, but I had to be sure we were really alone. It makes for a much fairer fight when there’s not a group to get involved.”
“I’m glad it’s just us,” said Aiko. “I would hate for the others to see what I’m capable of doing when someone really gets me mad.”
Alenia began laughing. “Is that supposed to scare me?”
“No, but this is,” exclaimed a now charging Aiko. She was successful in landing a number of blows to her opponent’s face before being shoved away.
“You brazen little bitch,” exclaimed Alenia, holding her now throbbing cheek. “I would have thought someone like you would have more honor than that. Attacking an opponent when they’re completely off guard, how low can a person get?”
“You’re one to talk,” said Aiko.
“I suppose you’re right. After all, I wasn’t really playing by the rules when I was killing that friend of yours, was I?”
Alenia’s taunt provoked Aiko to charge again. Alenia, however, was ready this time. She blocked Aiko’s attacks, then wrapped her arms around her foe. “Let’s see you smart-ass your way out of this one,” exclaimed Alenia, tightening her grip.
As hard as Aiko tried she could do nothing to break Alenia’s hold.
“How does this feel?” asked Alenia. “Does it hurt?”
“Let me go,” said Aiko through clenched teeth.
“Why don’t you make me?” asked Alenia, further tightening her hold.
Having no other option, Aiko sunk her teeth into Alenia’s shoulder. So deep did Aiko bite that she drew blood. A scream burst from Alenia and she threw Aiko away. “You bitch,” exclaimed Alenia. “How dare you!”
“I gave you fair warning,” said Aiko, wiping Alenia’s blood from her mouth.
“You are going to regret that,” said Alenia. She then spread her gray wings.
“Your wings, they’re gray,” said a wide-eyed Aiko.
“That’s right,” said Alenia. “And that means I’m twice as powerful as before.” She then darted through the air and drove her fist into Aiko’s stomach. When the girl slumped over, Alenia kicked her in the face, sending Aiko crashing to her knees.
Aiko was battered from the attack but she managed to get back to her feet. “You’re not through with me yet,” she said. “I’ve taken worse.”
Rather than continue the fight, Alenia put separation between she and Aiko.
“What are you waiting for?” asked Aiko. “I thought you were twice as powerful as before. Why don’t you prove it to me?”
“You’re free to go,” said Alenia, turning her back.
“What?” asked Aiko. “Is this another trick?”
“I said you were free to go,” said Alenia. “What more do you want?”
Aiko took a few cautious steps back, making sure to keep Alenia in her sights as she did. When she believed it to be safe, Aiko ran from the building.
“If I know you creatures,” said Alenia through clenched teeth, “then I have already done irreparable damage. We’ll just save our fight for another time. But for the time being, suffer. Suffer like you’ve never suffered before.” Alenia then crashed to her knees and coughed out several mouthfuls of blood.
Jaycee and Sage had met up at their favorite café and were sitting in silence across from each other. They had intended to talk about what had happened to James, but without Aiko there to initiate the conversation, it took some time before either spoke.
“If you don’t talk about this, then it’s going to be harder to get over,” said Sage.
“It’s hard to talk about,” said Jaycee.
“I know it is,” said Sage. “You lost someone you loved. I don’t know how long it’s going to take before you start feeling better, but Aiko and I want to be there for you.”
“It still doesn’t seem real that James is gone. I keep expecting to see him again, like none of this ever happened.”
“It’s natural to feel that way. It came as a shock to all of us.”
“It’s my fault,” said Jaycee, tears welling in her eyes. “It should have been me.”
“Don’t say that,” said Sage.
“I can’t stop thinking that all this happened because of me. If only I had done things differently in the past, then none of you would be suffering now. None of you would be here if not for me. I’m the one to blame for all this.”
“It isn’t your fault, Jaycee,” said Sage. “None of us is to blame for this.”
“There’s nothing you can say that can change the way I feel. I’m supposed to be alone. You’ve seen what happens when someone gets too close to me. I couldn’t live with myself if something like that were to happen to you or Aiko.”
“What are you saying?” asked Sage.
“You two should stay away from me. You’ll die if you don’t.”
Sage immediately took hold of Jaycee’s hands. “You’re not alone, Jaycee,” he told her. “No matter what happens, Aiko and I will never abandon you.”
Aiko ran as fast as she could to meet up with her friends. Night had fallen and a steady rain was falling, making her journey all the more difficult, but Aiko would let nothing stop her. During her journey Aiko cradled a flower of a deep shade of purple in her hands.
“Sage, I . . .” said Jaycee, staring deeply into his eyes. “I shouldn’t have come here.” And with that, Jaycee sprinted out of the café.
“Jaycee, wait,” exclaimed Sage, immediately giving chase.
Just steps from the café Sage caught up to Jaycee. He grabbed onto her and looked deeply into her eyes. “Listen to me,” he said. “You’re not alone in all this. You have Aiko, you have me. We care about you. Please don’t push us away. You’ll never be able to get through this on your own. You know that.”
“I don’t want to push you away,” said Jaycee, tears streaming down her cheeks. “But I have to. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Nothing’s going to happen. I swear it. I will be strong for you. I give you my word, Jaycee. I will protect you with my life.”
Aiko emerged from the alley across the street. There were no lights in her vicinity, making her virtually invisible. And it was from that vantage point where she witnessed Jaycee and Sage embrace and engage in a short but tender kiss.
The flower of a deep shade of purple slipped out of Aiko’s weakened grasp and fell to the ground. Unable to bear such a sight any longer, Aiko fled from the scene, inadvertently crushing the flower beneath her foot as she did so.
When Jaycee and Sage separated, neither was able to look the other in the eye.