"Kokuei's gonna be pissed." Dokutoru said, forcing a smile. It didn't last long, he broke moments later, hand on his mouth as he moved from his dear friend's grave.
"Here lies Akiko Megami
Friend, Mother, and Leader
May Inari welcome her in the next life"
The sun was peaking over the horizon, Akiko's wooden tombstone was placed solemnly against a tree. A very, very large tree. Rightfully so. Pools over water reflected the bright sky and leaves that hung above. A sight that Dokutoru may have appreciated on another day. Now he wasn't sure if he'd ever appreciate the sight again.
He shook his head, letting his hand fall from his lips. "Is that all I can say? I've been standing here forever and..." He laughed again, looking back to the writing. "He's gonna come looking for you. And when he finds out what happened... he's gonna come looking for me. He'll want to change history, bring you back. And damn it, I'll do it. I will do it. Just like the last time someone left me." He slumped his shoulders, taking in a deep breath. This wasn't real. "Why did you have to go? This isn't fair. This isn't fair, Akiko! You can't be... we had so much time... went through so much. I... I just..."
A shaky breath brought Dokutoru down to his knees, a few feet from the wooden slab. He ran his fingers down it, feeling the engravings. His arm stopped, biting his cheek. Realizing how close he was now to her body, and how it was the last time he'd be so close, it made the reality of it all the more clear.
"C-come back to me." He whispered, softly crying. "It's not fair. It's not..." He clenched his fist, wanting to hit something. Anything. He wanted to hold onto the anger, and keep it burning in him. It made dealing with her departure so much easier, with a fiery rage that he could use to consume every other terrible emotion he was feeling. Burn it all away and leave nothing but a vengeful husk of the man he used to be. That wouldn't be what she would have wanted. It was so easy, though. Spite the universe for the unfortunate set of circumstances. It was easy just to blame something for what had happened. "Sorry. You never liked my temper, did you?" He swallowed, letting his hand slip down the tombstone.
"I loved you. I never had the chance to say. You knew, though. Didn't you? You had to of known." He smiled, letting his hands rest in his lap after wiping his eyes. "If I had said something to you sooner, if I had been with you more and talked with you more... would that have made a difference? I guess I could go over 'what if's and 'could have been's until I die, too. But what good would that do?" He said it, and he meant it, but it would probably be a long time until Dokutoru stopped thinking about how he could have saved her. That was life though, wasn't it? One day, though, he would finally recover. He'd stop feeling as bad when he woke. Nature would eventually help overcome the chemical imbalances in his brain, and time would ensure the process go to completion. Through nature and time, anything was possible. Right?
He sat in silence for a while, the sun rising higher as he waited. For something else to say. As if there was some... glimmer of hope left. As if something would happen. Maybe she'd come up behind him and hug him like she used to. 'It's okay, Love. I ain't leavin' ya dat soon.' Dokutoru bit his lip, pushing the thought from his head.
"The universe was born, and time passed and nature bloomed. The god of time made sure every second ticked. The goddess of nature ensured that every creature was alive. One moment, in the eternity of the universe, they meet. The passing forces of time and nature, they meet. They want to spend forever together. He wants to stop time for her, and she feels the most alive around him. So, the god of time stops everything. They embrace each other in the stillness of reality where time and nature have come to a halt. But the universe, it must go on. The god without time, and the goddess without nature... they can't live. They separate, fading from each other and back into reality. But, for the briefest of moments... the duo spent forever together. Eternity in a single second.
"I never told you that story. When we first met, in the forest, that's what I was thinking. Maybe I should have told you then. The longer we spent together, the more applicable the tale became." He smiled. "How many stories did we fit into our moment? A lot, I think. A lot of good ones." Dokutoru nodded, crossing his legs. He seemed content in sitting where he was for a long while. Unusual, for the man who always seemed on the move. "Would you like to hear some? I think I can recall them all perfectly. Don't say anything if my storytelling is spot on." His smile widened, running a hand through his hair as he leaned back a bit. "So, there I was, in this forest... not sure which way was the right way... well, I knew which way was the right way, but not which was the right way... understand? And then I stumble upon this gorgeous green girl by a pond who offers me some tea..."
[ The End ]
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"This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules; test ideas by experiment and observation, build on those ideas that past the test, reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question... everything. Accept these terms, and the cosmos is yours..."
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