Title: Bittersweet
Author: Jordanna Morgan (librarie@jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: Mild PG. Includes (sort-of) canon character death.
Characters: Yato, Yukine, Hiyori.
Setting: General.
Summary: Yato wanted a deeper relationship… but not like this.
Disclaimer: They belong to Adachitoka. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: This story fills my assignment in the 2016 Parallels Fanworks Exchange. I hope it pleases! I normally play it safe and try to write cheerier fics for exchanges, but after looking over a few of the recipient’s own stories, I thought this one might not be amiss after all. (I’m more partial to Yukine/Hiyori myself, but the dynamics of this story were better served by one-sided Yato/Hiyori, so there it is.)

 

Bittersweet

 

On the day Yato made his decision, he was so nervous and excited that he made his way to Hiyori’s house on foot, instead of teleporting. The errant god thought the walk might give him a chance to gather both his nerves and his words.

He was going to tell Hiyori how he really felt.

Yato was unsure exactly when it happened. He only knew it had. The girl’s fierce, kindhearted spirit affected him in ways he had never believed any mortal could, and before he knew it… he was in love with her. In love with her courage and her laugh, in love with her sweetness and her karate kicks. Even in love with the way she yelled at him when he deserved it—because he knew he always did.

Perhaps it was foolish. Certainly it was problematic: looked down on, if not an outright violation of some rules Yato never had reason to bother paying attention to before. However, his heart was too full by now to care. He did love her, and having seen the extraordinary devotion that led Hiyori to risk her life for himself and Yukine, he could even dare to convince himself that she might be… open to his feelings.

If only she was, he would let neither gods nor mortals stand between them.

Arriving at Hiyori’s house, he found no one there, which surprised him. It was still somewhat early in the morning, and when he’d seen Hiyori the previous afternoon, she had even mentioned that she had no plans for this day. He thought she would be there, still relaxing or taking care of household chores.

Perhaps one of her mortal friends had invited her out somewhere unexpectedly, or her mother had sent her on an errand. Impatient and curious, Yato began teleporting to other places he knew Hiyori frequented: her friends’ homes, the stores she liked, and even her school, although class was out for the weekend.

…It wasn’t like he was a stalker or something, he retorted to the imagined comment from Yukine that surfaced wryly in his head. He just knew Hiyori very well.

But as he traveled quickly from place to place, and found no sign of her current presence at any of them… a creeping sense of worry began to overtake his earlier giddy hopes.

Finally, Yato had the thought to look for her at the hospital where her father worked. Of course. Maybe she had gone to visit him there for some reason. Maybe it was his birthday. Maybe he’d forgotten to take his lunch.

It was indeed at the hospital where he found her—but she wasn’t in her father’s office.

She was lying in a bed, in the finest room of the intensive care unit. Her body was limp and broken, her sliver of pale face nearly unrecognizable behind the bandages wrapped around her head, and… the tubes sticking out of it. Her eyes were closed, her chest rising and falling too evenly, in time to the machines that hummed quietly at the bedside.

Also at the bedside were Hiyori’s parents. Her mother was sobbing in her father’s arms.

It took a few moments for Yato to grapple with everything he was looking at.

When the reality of it finally penetrated his mind, his scream of anguish shook the entire hospital with a minor earthquake; while across town at Kofuku’s street stall, Yukine was suddenly prostrated by the wave of his master’s grief that swept over and through him.

 

It was all a terrible accident, they said.

The morning was so fresh and beautiful that Hiyori decided to go out for an early walk. However, while crossing a street, she was overcome by one of her fainting spells—and when she collapsed in front of an oncoming car, it was much too late for the driver to avoid her. She was struck by the vehicle, and thrown to the opposite sidewalk.

According to the doctors, the impact had caused massive traumatic injuries to her brain… and there was no chance that Hiyori would ever wake up again.

 

Yukine had arrived at the hospital. At some point Yato became dimly aware of his Regalia’s presence, anyway—but even Yukine didn’t dare to approach him. He was wise not to try. The shattered god could only pace the floor of the room where Hiyori lay, oblivious to all else around him in the blackness that consumed his heart.

A fainting spell. He knew perfectly well what that meant. For some reason, Hiyori’s spirit had happened to slip out of her body in the middle of the street, just as the car was approaching.

How much was she aware of at that moment? Did she have time to see her own body be struck?

…It was all Yato’s fault.

It was his fault for holding onto Hiyori. It was his fault for interjecting himself into her life in the first place. It was his fault for never having the courage to sever her ties with him, letting her go back to the peacefully normal existence a mortal was supposed to have.

It was his fault for falling in love with her.

Of course, that was what it all came down to. Even gods were not immune to the cosmic forces of karma. For his daring to contemplate what he knew was wrong, she now bore the brunt of the punishment. Her life was the cost of his selfishness and arrogance.

Because he wanted her, no one would have her.

He had destroyed her as surely as any stalker, after all.

 

Hiyori’s parents made the choice to donate her organs for transplantation.

It was still an uncommon practice in Japan, meeting resistance from ancient beliefs and deeply ingrained social mores. Hiyori’s own mother was reluctant; but her doctor father, a forward-thinking and compassionate man, convinced his wife that it was the right thing to do. He pointed out that Hiyori would be glad if her tragedy helped others to live longer, healthier lives.

In his own heart, Yato knew that to be true…

But for a little while, he still wanted to kill them. He wanted to tear them apart for even thinking of desecrating her body that way.

He wasn’t restrained by the knowledge that Hiyori had cared for her parents. All that stayed his hand was the thought that if he gave in to such impulses, she would be disappointed in him, because she believed he was better than that.

She had been so beautifully foolish—convincing herself that he wasn’t a god of calamity anymore.

But he had no illusions of what he was, and always would be.

 

When the chosen day came, doctors and nurses filled the operating room, crowding around the table where Hiyori lay tethered to her machines. Her parents looked upon her for one last time through an observation window; or her father did, at least. The mother simply stood with her face buried against the father’s chest, unable to bear the sight.

Yato watched from within the operating room itself. Unseen by mortal eyes, he leaned against the wall, arms folded and eyes like ice.

This was far from his first vigil at a mortal deathbed. The most common, most simple entreaty a god received from humankind was simply to not be alone at the last breath. It was the only wish for which Yato accepted no offering… even though it was, in its own way, the most difficult of wishes to fulfill.

Never more so than now.

“…You shouldn’t be here, Yato.”

Silence was Yato’s only response to Yukine’s anxious admonishment. The Regalia was saying nothing his master didn’t know.

They both knew what was going to happen here. No matter how much Yato dismissed the thought, or told himself that he wouldn’t, he knew an unforgivable temptation had defeated him already. If it hadn’t—if he’d only had the will to give that temptation no opportunity—he would have been far away from this place.

“If you do this, it wouldn’t really be the Hiyori we know.”

Yato closed his eyes.

“If you do this… you could still never have her the way you wanted.”

Yato’s fists clenched and trembled. He turned his face away.

Across the room, the surgeon in charge gravely announced: “We’re ready to begin.”

Pale-blue eyes opened. Yato straightened and took a step forward, to watch intently. Behind the god, Yukine turned away, with a heartbroken sigh and a sad shake of his head. The Exemplar’s well-deserved dismay and regret squeezed tight in Yato’s chest… but it could change nothing now.

At a nod from Hiyori’s father behind the glass, one of the doctors solemnly shut off the machines, one by one. After that, it took only seconds for the soft beeps of the EKG to flatten into the steady, ominous tone that announced the cessation of life.

A nurse drew a curtain across the observation window, shutting out the view of Hiyori’s grieving parents. As the doctors closed in around the table with their scalpels, Yato moved nearer, as well; and his gaze focused upon the soft white spark that gently drifted up from Hiyori’s now-empty body.

His eyes brimmed with tears as his hand stretched out toward it.

Spirit, you are lost and adrift. You have nowhere to go and nowhere to return to… thus I grant you a place to belong.

 

The riverbank was in bloom, nearly carpeted with pink springtime blossoms that bobbed lightly in the breeze. Birds sang in the trees along the water’s edge, and puffy cotton clouds drifted across a bright blue sky. The afternoon looked just like something out of a child’s idyllic picture-book.

Skipping along the top of the levee, Kirine laughed and slid down the embankment, to sprawl in the grass underneath the warm sun.

Yukine followed more slowly, his watchful gaze never leaving her as he picked his way down the slope. The corners of his mouth were turned up, but his fond smile at her playfulness was softened by a barely-perceptible shadow in his eyes.

That was the one ever-so-slightly off note in an otherwise perfect day. However, in only a month since the god Yato claimed Kirine’s soul as a Regalia, it had already become almost familiar—both from Yukine, and from Yato himself. They thought she didn’t notice, but many times when they looked at her, she caught glimmers of sadness on both of their faces. The covert sentiment puzzled her greatly.

All the more so because, in her still-brief afterlife, Kirine had known nothing but happiness.

Yato was the kindest and most tender master she could imagine. Unlike other gods who seemed to regard their Regalia foremost as tools, he put his own responsibility to Kirine and Yukine ahead of all else—almost like a parent. He worked hard to look after them. He was even reluctant to use Kirine as the weapon he had made of her, sometimes resisting until she herself made a fuss about being allowed to help him.

As for Yukine, the Exemplar doted on her, gently teaching her all she needed to know. His appearance may have been a little younger than hers, but she couldn’t help thinking of him like a big brother. Even Yato’s friends Kofuku and Daikoku were just as sweet to her.

Kirine had no memory of what her mortal life was like, or what sort of family she may have had. She knew this was a lack that sometimes chafed at other Regalia; but as she was now, she was so contented that she didn’t mind at all. It somehow felt so very right for her to be with Yato and Yukine. Whoever her mortal relatives had been, she doubted they could have shown her any more love than the family she was adopted into after her death.

She did her best to express her happiness to Yato and Yukine. That was why those flashes of bittersweet feeling from the pair made no sense. They should have been glad she was happy, shouldn’t they? And she knew they were, yet there was still… something else. It was a something she never asked them about, because she instinctively sensed they would never be willing to tell her.

Perhaps they simply regretted that her mortal life had been cut short at such an obviously young age. The same was true of Yukine as well, but maybe her case tugged more at their hearts just because she was a girl. Maybe that was why they were both so protective of her, too. Although she was becoming a strong and capable Regalia in her own right, she supposed the two tenderhearted males might not be able to help treating a female with more care.

Yet she was certain it wouldn’t always be this way. When she had learned enough and grown enough as a Regalia, surely they would see what she could really do. She wanted to prove she could take care of them, the same way they did for her.

Still musing on the people she loved, Kirine absently plucked some of the daisy-like pink flowers around her, and began to weave them into the shape of a crown. She had just completed it when Yato materialized a few steps away, returning from whatever divine business he had been off attending to on his own for the last few hours.

“Yato!” The proudly beaming Kirine sprang to her feet and bounded forward, eager to greet him. Before he could say a word, she raised up on tiptoe, and mischievously set the flower crown on top of his head. Her hands seized his own.

“You have to see it, Yato! Yukine helped me practice drawing borderlines again while you were gone—and I finally got it right!”

For a brief second Yato stood frozen, with the flower crown sitting just slightly askew on his head. His eyes glistened, his throat twitched, and once again Kirine saw it: a flash of imperfectly-hidden pain, a hollow look exchanged with Yukine.

…And then it passed like a cloud across the sun. Yato swallowed, blinked, and smiled warmly at his Regalia.

“That’s awesome! Let’s see what you can do!”

Kirine laughed with all the delighted excitement of a child about to show off a new skill; but at the same time, her heart nervously fluttered just a little. As she turned to show him the latest progress of her talents, her expression became intent and resolute.

Her master had given her everything—and she was determined to make him proud of her.


© 2016 Jordanna Morgan