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Disclaimer: AMG is not mine. "First End" was written by Yumi Touma. "Joey" belongs to Concrete Blonde.

Foreword: When I heard that there was going to be an AMG! novel, I was pretty jazzed. I'm not a big manga guy, I prefer novels for the amount of detail you can get. When I finally read "First End," I was very disappointed. The story was such a downer, and I felt that Ms. Touma's characterizations of Keiichi and Belldandy in particular were off. I couldn't believe that I didn't like it. It bothered me, particularly how it ended things. So, be forewarned. This is a continuation of the book "First End." If you haven't read it, you're probably going to be lost. If you have read it, this story picks up at the moment the book ended. I hope you enjoy it. Davner Second Dawn Chapter 1 Right Number The phone rang again. The goddess's hand hung over it as if suspended there by some unknown force. The most natural thing in the world for her, something she had done thousands of times before, was to pick it up and answer it. It was the first step in granting a wish, and yet... It rang again, and still she paused. The ring Skuld had given her that morning twinkled in the light over the device. Why did she pause? The person on the other end of the phone was a client, someone who was to be offered Heaven's Grace. There was nothing to fear from them. Another ring. Other goddesses in the office were now craning their heads around the walls of their cubicles to see what the problem was. She knew without looking that that's what they were doing, and yet she didn't turn to them or react. Her eyes were transfixed on the phone. "Um... Are you going to get that?" one of the other granting goddesses asked her pointedly. She didn't answer as the phone rang again. Why do I hesitate? she asked herself. She couldn't explain it, she just knew that answering that phone was the wrong thing to do! Silence. As if snapping awake from a dream, her hand darted to the phone and snatched it up. "Hello!" she cried into the receiver. "Hello! Are you there?"

Only a dial tone answered her. A ball of ice plunged into her stomach as she began to realize what she had done. The stars themselves had to align perfectly before a goddess and client were matched up. There was no redial, no Star-69. It was her job to grant that person's wish... and she failed. You didn't fail, the professional side of her scolded her. Failing implies you tried and did not succeed. You simply turned your back on your holy duty... Tears threatened to appear in her eyes. What had she done? "Belldandy?" Her head whipped around to the sound of the voice so fast, she was sure she would break her own neck. "Hai?" she asked. Freya, the goddess in charge of the Goddess Help Line, stood at the end of the line of cubicles. Her blonde hair and perfect features could not lessen the disapproving look that was glaring accusingly at Belldandy. "I'd like to speak with you alone," the elder goddess said politely before turning and walking away. The rest of the granters looked at her in concern and wonder. Belldandy was one of the best granters in Heaven. Why would she simply freeze like that? Belldandy took a breath and rose from her chair, giving one last look at the phone now sitting silently on her desk. Who were you? she wondered. I'm so sorry... Turning, she followed Freya down the hall. Rather than end up in the other goddess's office, Freya led her outside into the courtyard garden and stood near the small waterfall and pond at the far right corner, admiring the multi-colored plants and flowers that were blooming there. The sights were lost on Belldandy. The young goddess was staring at the ground in shame, bracing herself for the scolding that was sure to come. Freya regarded her carefully for several moments before speaking. "Belldandy," she began quietly. "What's wrong?" "Ms. Freya?" Belldandy asked, her gaze rising to meet the older goddess's. The head of the Help Line took a breath. "Missing a call, Belldandy?" she asked. "That's not like you. What happened?" Belldandy swallowed nervously, painfully aware that she didn't even know what happened. "The phone rang," she said. "And... I didn't answer it," she answered honestly. "I don't know why I didn't," she went on after a moment of silence between the two. "I just... Something inside me said I shouldn't... that it was important that I not answer that call..."

Freya took a breath and put her knuckles to her lips in thought. "Was there some warning from another goddess or..." The young granter shook her head. "No, nothing like that!" she said, a tear running down her cheek. "I simply... failed to act..." Turning away from her, Freya took a step toward the garden as Belldandy waited for her punishment. "We have a duty, Belldandy, to make people happy by acting as the conduits of the Almighty's will," Freya told her. "Whether we agree with that will or not is irrelevant..." "I don't disagree!" Belldandy defended. "I don't even know who this person is!" "Whoever they are," Freya replied, turning back to her. "They have lost their opportunity for a happiness you were supposed to provide!" She shook her head in disbelief. "Belldandy..." "Please, Ms. Freya!" Belldandy begged. "Let me make this right! I don't know why I didn't act! I can't explain it to myself so how can I explain it to you? All I know is that... I... I failed." She swallowed back a sob and took a breath. "Is there any way I can make this right?" The elder goddess studied her for several moments, unsure what to think. Belldandy was one of her best granters. This was so out of character for her... But the bottomline was that she had a duty and she didn't do it. She had to punish her. She couldn't play favorites with her girls. She sighed. "Go home," she said. "I'll think about it." Belldandy wiped tears from her eyes. "Hai," she said. She turned and started for the door. Stopping at her desk to pick up her things, her eyes fell once again on the silent phone, its rotary dial staring accusingly at her. "Who were you?" she whispered aloud. 888 "Keiichi Morisato," Hild whispered with a smile as she sat on her onyx throne at the heart of the Demon Realm. She stared into a small spherical crystal that held the real-time image of a young man sitting by himself in a dorm room. She watched as he dialed a phone and waited... She bit her lip. The suspense was awful... She hoped it would last... The boy hung up the phone and tried another number. Hild's eyes went to the mirror over the boy's shoulder. Nothing. The demonic queen closed her eyes in ecstacy. "Glorious," she whispered.

A year-and-a-half of planning, of careful calculation, had all come down to this one moment, and she exulted in it, basking in the warm feeling that came when a historic moment turned just the way she wanted it to. "I love it when a plan comes together," she noted with a grin. It was the understatement of the millenia, and anyone who had seen this plan in action would say so. It was unfortunate that so few gods and demons retained linear memories the way she did, allowing her to remember events even after they'd been changed by alterations to the timestream. She had tried to undermine the Norns through time manipulation before when she went into Morisato's past and inserted herself into his life as his girlfriend. The three goddesses had gone back to stop her, and sure enough, that damn connection between Morisato and Belldandy had gotten the better of her. It became obvious to her then that time manipulation wasn't the way to go... until she found out about the singularity. Nidhogg had alerted her that there was something odd about the way Yggdrasil had been acting for three years, but she hadn't paid much attention. It wasn't until the demonic computer system, working on its own, had discovered a connection between Yggdrasil and Morisato that she stood up and took notice. For a year and a half, she watched the singularity between Yggdrasil and Morisato grow like a tumor, knowing that when it was finally broken she would either win or be given an opportunity to accept a smaller victory. So she planned and schemed and manipulated. It was art, a work of love. And she now had her "smaller victory." Her daughter had almost screwed it up, of course. By not resetting Nidhogg at the same time as Yggdrasil, her demon blood allowed her to retain her memories and created a separate universe, and Hild had to conduct some off-the-cuff spinning and tale-telling to make sure things worked out the way they were supposed to. But she had done it. Belldandy and Keiichi never met. She could have him at any time. She smiled. It was truly beautiful. Of course, there was a downside: She couldn't take him herself. After all, the arch-demoness and ruler of the Demon Realm didn't just go to Earth and pick up college boys just for the Hell of it. The Valkyries watching her would surely take notice and wonder what she was doing. She would simply have to live vicariously through another, and who better than... The doors to the throne room opened, and her chamberlain entered. "Your Majesty," he said with a bow. "The Duchess of Malebolge has arrived." Hild smiled, a genuine act of happiness at this news. "Send her in." The demoness entering a moment later stood a head shorter than Hild. While she did not gain her mother's height, she did inherit her hair. A streak of violet in her hair interrupted the river of moonlight that hung in a pony-tail nearly to the floor, a colorful reminder of her father that matched her eyes, likewise passed down from the general-priest Hild had at one point mated with.

and she wasn't going to leave her job early just to entertain her older sister's "emergencies.. Oracle could go on about how important it was that she meet with them as soon as possible. aware that now that it was approaching mid-morning. "Where's Oracle?" Aurora sighed." she said in greeting. as usual. waved in reply.. e-mail. her zeal and coldheartedness were legendary in the Demon Realm. If anything. she found their middle sister looking out at the river. The arch-demoness held up a crystal. If she didn't. That wasn't a completely fair statement. again. She loved her sisters. Unlike her older daughter. The goddess tossed her hair. she truly did. Opening the glass door.. No. her blonde hair blowing lazily in the breeze. Aurora had no idea what she was saying. I knew I had to come. She may be the youngest. it was Sitri who often took things too far... this was Oracle's doing. it was turning from a burning gold to a bright yellow. . willowy woman with dark brown hair. she turned and smiled.. I'm so glad you came!" Aurora bit back a retort. River would have had nothing to do with it. "She's having another 'crisis.. Sensing the other goddess there.. page." Aurora told her. of course. her lips moving so rapidly that.. River. her sister would simply call." she said with a smile. She was constantly. silently speaking to no one. "Mother." She entered the parlor and found her oldest sister sitting on the sofa. a tall. it's so good to see you. "Good morning. What is it you need me to do?" Hild studied Sitri's face." but she had her own responsibilities. her blood-red skirt swishing around her legs. after all. The other goddess. but Aurora was the goddess of the dawn. but this idea they had that they could summon her at will as if she were nothing but a servant was truly annoying." The demoness smiled back as she approached her mother. Her lips continued moving. 888 The goddess growled to herself as she approached the front door of the home she had grown up in and turned the doorknob. "Aurora. and Aurora headed toward it. and true she didn't join in the "family business. "There's a young man I want you to meet. and she couldn't just toss those aside whenever they wanted a favor. "When I received your letter. Sitri had no qualms about acting in her mother's interest. "Sitri. intriguing. She always came when Oracle called.. text message and carrier pigeon her constantly until she did. but did not look at her or speak to her. busy.Hild rose to her feet and offered her hands to her youngest daughter.'" River pointed to the balcony that overlooked the Styx. It was so. and took her mother's hands.

"Did you check all your pockets?" she asked sarcastically.. It's quite.. twice. She rubbed her temples. "Aurora. me. weird. I don't know what's going to happen." "By who?" the dawn demanded." Oracle warned quietly.." she said simply.. "We've lost three years.. narrating like she usually does while I knitted and all of a sudden. She literally spoke billions of words per second.." Aurora quipped." she said. "It wasn't planned. The problem is. You.." Oracle said. but enthralled with her sister's story. no longer annoyed. 'Wait. . no. however. Aurora watched in concern."Okay. that those things were supposed to happen.. "She stopped. unable to believe it.. For her to stop meant. unwritten?" Aurora asked in near-horror. "Time was reset by a period of three years." her sister said. The script I've written is no longer valid!" "You mean the future is." she said..... "I'm being serious. "I had River restore my linear memories. "What is it this time? Did you get stood up? Lose your keys? What?" Oracle stepped toward her and placed her hands on the younger goddess's shoulders." "I thought I felt lighter today. actually... Oracle nodded." the fiery blonde began in resignation. was described as it happened by her sister. "Demons?" Oracle shook her head. Every act of every person. unauthorized. Oracle pursed her lips in disapproval.' as if she couldn't believe what had happened. everywhere. mortal and immortal. River didn't "stop. "She showed me. Not recently. looked up at me and said. Her job was to narrate the world. "It's all right. "Norns. Aurora arched an eyebrow." "What did happen?" Aurora asked. The change they made is. Oracle saw her expression and smiled. then how do you know?" "River told me... to remember doing things that haven't happened yet.." "The Norns?" Aurora repeated.. "She was sitting there.. "They have made something of a name for themselves recently. And now.." She shook her head as if trying to get her bearings. That hasn't happened now. "If that's so.. We've lost three years of our lives. The younger goddess sighed." That got Aurora's attention. everyone. "Them again?" The blonde smiled sheepishly. she stopped. "It's not in the script! See?" She held up a large book written in screen-play format." Ever.

.. It was supposed to happen today and didn't.." . "She said Peorth is standing by." Aurora sighed." Oracle told her. Aurora!" Oracle gushed."No." Oracle told her." "Thank you. "I knew I could count on you!" "Whatever. This didn't occur in a vacuum." Aurora sighed. I fear the involvement of the other side in this. "It's all right here. "I'll handle it. "Can't you just pick up the phone and call them or something?" "I don't know the extent of the damage." "Huh?" The blonde raised her hands as if to ward off other questions." Oracle smiled.." "And that act is really going to screw up time's script?" Aurora asked. they're diverging from it. It has to be corrected quickly! Which. "The point is.. but several glances Freya shot in her direction hinted that it was. the blonde woman hung up and faced her. The problem is.." she told Belldandy point-blank. it's still written...." 888 Belldandy stood in Freya's office and waited patiently as her boss spoke on the phone. "Requested by a mortal man to the goddess Belldandy. brings me to why I called you. "I knew it. but I do know the catalyst. the act that has been changed. a wish is supposed to be granted! I need you to keep an eye on things and make sure it happens! Something is afoot here. "You know I can't leave River alone.. She wasn't certain that the conversation was about her.. "Let's just say." Another sigh.. "Frigga thinks we should give this one to her agency. Finally. I need you to handle this for me. it doesn't help restore it. looking away. "A wish. gesturing to a seat opposite of her. raising the book again." "Fine. ready to go." "What's that?" Aurora asked. Oracle suddenly went evasive.

"If you wish to atone for this. I." Freya held up a hand. following along.. "Go to Earth. She should be the one to correct it. The highest standards of protocol must be met." Freya concluded. Then grant his wish. "I have asked her not to send her. Belldandy rose to her feet and left the office." "I understand." Freya continued. shooting to her feet in anticipation. . It was obviously a dismissal. "What must I do?" Belldandy asked eagerly." She sighed. you may. For some reason. we're satisfied.The Norn went cold." "Keiichi Morisato. "Meet with him personally and apologize. like something you enjoyed saying or hearing. handing her a piece of paper with all the pertinent information. You must handle this carefully. This was her mistake." Freya said." "I'll see you when you get back. "If he is satisfied." Freya told her. Standing outside the door. she raised the paper and read over it. "Ms." she said quietly.. No barging through the mirror. "The wisher is a young man named Keiichi Morisato. "Make certain he is satisfied and come home. the name sounded poetic to her." Belldandy repeated in a whisper. Freya. "The call came from a place called Nekomi." Belldandy nodded.

" she finally said. Skuld blinked." ." she said. but for some reason. How could that even begin to be possible? I've never even heard of Keiichi Morisato before today. She loved her sisters. "I don't want you to go. She blinked. Skuld didn't know where the ring had come from. her eyes wandered from the piece of paper to the hand holding it. she started for the exit. but the Almighty knew they weren't going to clean it. She smiled.. "You've granted bunches of wishes before but you've never had to spend long down there doing it! Why is this one different?" "Because I failed. Lowering the paper. Were these two things connected? Absurd. locking onto the ring again."Keiichi Morisato. She wanted to make sure Skuld and Urd had a clean place to live while she was gone. For some reason.. I owe it to him. The name just made her smile. She had a lot to do before she could leave for Earth. unsure as to why. The idea that her sister was even capable of failing at something was alien. she thought. "I need to make sure I do this right. she wanted to make sure she was prepared for an extended stay. "It's only for a few days at most." she whispered again. Or perhaps it was that she would have the opportunity to grant him happiness after all." Belldandy told her as she dusted." she whispered again. 888 "I don't get it!" Skuld cried as her sister finished tidying up the living room of the house they shared. The middle Norn smiled. She wasn't sure why. "Keiichi Morisato.

The younger goddess watched as her sister fretted. It was in a box I found lying around. "Oh. "Huh?" "The one you gave me this morning." She shrugged.. "Hai. I just assumed you lost it or something. "Maybe Mama or Father?" "Maybe. "Why?" Skuld asked." Skuld grumbled. and I can't even remember who it was. "I'm sure you'll think of it. "You've just got a lot on your mind right now. "I don't know. where did you get this ring?" The youngest Norn blinked." Belldandy broke in before she could finish." Skuld shrugged. Where did you get it?" Belldandy elaborated. "It's got your name on it. The middle Norn shook her head. Perhaps I do." Skuld said. She couldn't imagine being so spun up about a gift. "Skuld. that's all!" Belldandy smiled. I'll. "But if he lays a hand on you..." Skuld said helpfully."Fine. "That makes me sad.. Someone went through a lot of effort to pick out a ring for me." ." she said." Belldandy allowed. "I just can't remember who gave it to me. She was starting to think she shouldn't have given it to her." Belldandy said nothing.

"Is there anything I can do?" Skuld asked.

The older goddess shook her head. "Just tell Urd I'll be back in a few days."

"Okay."

"And tell her not to worry."

"Okay."

"And please ask her not to try to help!"

"Okay!" Skuld said, exasperated.

Belldandy hugged her sister and sighed.

"I'll see you soon," Skuld sniffled.

"Hai," Belldandy promised.

888

Keiichi Morisato stepped out of the movie theater and lit a cigarette before turning right and walking down the street toward the NIT dorms. He adjusted his leather jacket against the February chill. It wasn't snowing, at least, and spring was just around the corner.

He turned to the sound of two people laughing and found a young couple walking out of the theater after him, holding hands with a sense of comfort that could only come from two people who've dated long enough to know they were in love.

Keiichi bit back a familiar pang of loneliness and replaced it with a drag from his cigarette. It was his own fault, he knew. He couldn't blame anyone else. He just wasn't good at talking to girls. The one time he tried was with Sayoko Mishima who turned him down flat. He had tried to discuss the problem once with his sister, who told him the answer was easy: Walk up to a girl and ask her out. But how could an answer that sounded so easy be so hard to actually do?

The college student walked. There was no point to staying out any longer. It was getting dark, and he was just about out of money. Not only that but once again his beloved Beemer was down until he could find an inexpensive fix for it, not an easy thing to do with a foreign bike, hence the walking.

He entered the dormitory and walked up the steps to the second floor. Offering a wave to Takehiro, who was passing him on the way to the bath, Keiichi stopped at his door, turned his key and stepped inside.

"Honey, I'm home!" he called out to the chilly darkness. Nothing but a bunch of old, broken down parts and appliances presented themselves. He had given some thought to tinkering in his off-time to raise some money, but nowadays it was actually easier to just throw old stuff away and buy something new. Unless, of course, you were a college student down on his luck, in which case, collecting junk had its advantages.

Stripping off his jacket and sweater, he reached out and hit the play button on an old cassette player before sitting down at his table.

You know I used to wonder why,

I used to cry 'til I was dry,

Still sometimes I get a strange pain inside,

Oh, Joey, if you're hurt'n, so am I!

Picking up a screwdriver in one hand and his Beemer RS's throttle assembly in the other, he began what he knew would be a long night of frustrating work.

All is forgiven...

Listen... Listen...

If I seem to be confused,

I didn't mean to be with you,

And when I said I scared you well I guess you scared me too,

But we got lucky once before,

And I don't wanna close the door,

And if you're somewhere out there passed out on the floor,

Oh, Joey, I'm not angry anymore!

"Augh!" he growled, tossing the part back on the table. There was nothing for it. It would just have to be replaced. He lit another cigarette in frustration and immediately set it down, rising to his feet to get a drink from his aging mini-fridge.

He pulled the tab on a soda and swore as brown fizz erupted all over his white tank top.

"Dammit!" he cried, trying to shake the sticky liquid from his hand.

"Keiichi Morisato sama?"

"What?" he cried in frustration, forgetting for a moment that no one had entered his room so really there shouldn't be anyone calling his name. He blinked as he turned to the sound. "What?" he asked again, this time in disbelief.

In the center of his room stood the most alluring woman he had ever seen. How she got into his room suddenly wasn't important. Who she was, what she was doing there, that was important. She gazed at him with smiling eyes and her face was adorned with some kind of tattoos or body art on her forehead and cheeks.

She smiled. "Keiichi Morisato sama," she said in a musical voice. "I've been sent by the Goddess Help Line to grant you Heaven's Grace," she informed him.

He stared, wide-eyed, and had to shake his head in order to bring him back to reality.

"Did the senpais put you up to this?" he asked with a smile.

The woman shook her head. "No, Keiichi Morisato sama," she said. "I'm here because you are entitled to a great gift, a gift I have been sent here to offer you personally."

He shook his head in wonder at her. "Who are you?" he whispered.

She smiled. "I am the Goddess Sitri," the silver-tressed demoness told him. "I am your guardian angel."

To Be Continued... Disclaimer: AMG is not mine. "First End" was written by Yumi Touma. The song Sitri cites is "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash. "Devil In Disguise" is by Elvis Presley.

Second Dawn

Belldandy assumed that they were all a tightknit group of friends. Glancing left and right. any one of whom could be Keiichi Morisato. They seem preoccupied. she checked her hair to make sure it didn't fall out of place during the trip. She smiled. She didn't want to appear unprofessional when she met Morisato sama. but this was totally different! There were so many people darting to and fro like ants. she thought." to another girl who rolled her eyes as she strolled away. recognizing her as an outsider rather than wondering about the oddly dressed girl in their building. "It's very nice to meet you.Chapter 2 The Megumi Solution Belldandy stepped out of the mirror and landed nimbly on the baby-blue tile below. It was a public bath of some kind." she said as she passed one girl. Glancing back into the mirror. The building was full of people. a group of ten urinals lined the walls followed by a line of stalls. "Hello. She had never been to a school on Earth before. she stepped out of the NIT Math Building's men's room and suddenly realized how utterly lost she was. "How do you do?" to a boy who walked by. She had assumed it would be like the houses of learning in Heaven. . allowing the waves of positive emotion to crash over her. one student for every teacher in a quiet environment suitable for meditation and self exploration. Satisfied by what she saw. she found the room she had appeared in abandoned. They all must be quite busy. She smiled gently and waved as she passed each person as if to reassure them that she wanted to be their friend as well. By the odd looks and stares she was getting. What a simply lovely place this was! Stepping into the hall. she started walking with the flow of traffic like a leaf floating into the rapids of a fast-moving stream.

" "If by that you mean I don't know where to go. "Okay. "By chance. yes? No?" "I'm Toshio. good sir. "I'll help you out." the girl said. "Are you new here? You look kinda lost. "So." she replied quickly.. then yes." the pimply-faced youth said. I'll be anyone you want if you'll just keep talking to me. are you Keiichi Morisato sama?" "Babe. Belldandy started to get discouraged. Turning. "Oh. Realizing her error. I'm quite lost!" Belldandy told her with a bow. she found a short young woman wearing thick glasses staring at her. The girl smiled encouragingly. with a similar result. Keiichi Morisato." he said with a smile.. "Hai?" Belldandy asked uncertainly. she stepped in front of a boy and bowed. She didn't mean it. Belldandy blinked at the response." . she nearly forgot her true mission here. After speaking with five different young men." She turned to another boy and asked the same question.. There were so many people and they were all going in different directions. "Excuse me.So caught up in the emotions of meeting so many new people. "I simply must find Mr. How was she going to find one mortal among so many? "Excuse me?" she heard behind her." she said. I'm very very sorry. She wondered if she had broken some cultural rule by questioning those boys so forcefully. don't worry. What's your first class? I'll help you find it.. The goddess just didn't know any better.

"My name is Belldandy. it was reasonable to conclude that she knew the person she was looking for was taking a ma. "You know him!" "Yeah." . Since the obviously foreign woman was in the math building. The girl smiled back and bowed as well. I'm looking for one." The girl blinked." She smiled." Sora said." she said. "He doesn't even know who I am. "There are so many." Belldandy replied with a smile." Sora sighed."Oh!" Belldandy cried. "So.. "No. "Hi! I'm Sora Hasegawa. so do you know what their next class is?" the girl asked. kicking herself for her rudeness." "Hai!" "Okay. Bowing. what do you know?" "I know his name is Keiichi Morisato sama. "I'm not a student..." the girl replied. holding her hands up to wave away the offer. It's nice to meet you. that might be a little harder. well. she introduced herself. "Oh? Okay." Belldandy agreed. "But he doesn't have class today. "Did they say they'd meet you here?" "No. I know him. getting back on topic." "I see." "Hai." Belldandy said sheepishly.. Belldandy saw a look of recognition flash over the woman's face and clapped her hands together happily." "Oh.

"He doesn't?" "No. and I just met this foreign girl who was going from guy to guy asking for Keiichi Morisato. "Okay. Again.The goddess's face fell. I hope you don't mind. "I'll take good care of her." Belldandy turned and started for the math hall's exit while Sora pulled a cell phone from her pocket." she breathed into the receiver. having to be very specific due to the goddess's unfamiliarity with the area. She spent several minutes giving Belldandy directions. Sora chan. Uh huh. The girl blushed just a bit and cleared her throat. "I don't suppose you could tell me where that is?" Sora smiled. "I guess he won't mind." She heard the door open and the familiar . "I'll give him a call and let him know you're coming. the phone at her ear." she said. listen. "Hey!" she said in greeting." she said. "It's Hasegawa! Yeah. so you could probably hook up with her there. "But I bet he's at home!" "Wonderful!" Belldandy cried. Hey. She was obviously lost." "Thank you very much!" the goddess cried. "Yeah." Sora confirmed. her face fell. but sighed a moment later when one wasn't forthcoming." She paused. Yeah." She winced a bit in anticipation of a rebuke. "Tell you what. if you could meet her that would be great! I told her to cut through the park." 888 Sitri smiled predatorily. "I'm at Sakai Hall. Uh huh. "No problem. "Oh. so I gave her directions to your place. Thanks. awesome." the girl said. it's no problem. she's in this really frilly blue dress with light brown hair and blue eyes. clasping her hands over Sora's. I'm okay. She dialed her senpai's number and waited for an answer.

. "If you land this job." "Well." he admitted. stepping forward and reaching out to adjust his collar." She finished the rest in a whisper that turned the boy's face red. sporting a buttondown shirt and a pair of pressed khaki slacks. I do. "You don't have to get a job. "You look very handsome. good?" "Hai. she turned as Keiichi entered the room. Keiichi san... He winced..tempo of Keiichi's footsteps as he entered their little house only a mile from the school. You don't have to worry about money. .. "It'll be good for making connections in the industry. perhaps tonight will be the night we finally. turning to pick up his keys. I'll find her." she said with a bright smile. "Um. goddess or no goddess. okay. "Gotta go. I told you." She stepped toward him and leaned into the boy. "Um.. I'm a goddess. Keiichi san." "Oh. her lips approaching his ear... "It's not right for me to mooch off you.. no. Besides. "Don't worry. yeah. um." Resting the phone on the cradle. knowing that it had been a couple of weeks since they had done something as a couple. as your goddess I think it should be my job to motivate you toward success." she said. her arms folded over her chest.. "Since I cannot talk you out of it." she whispered in return. "That would be.. The one at Auto Connect." "Yeah. "I'm interviewing for that part time job I told you about." he gasped out. "Well?" he asked nervously." the moonlight-haired woman told him." he said quietly.. He swallowed and cleared his throat as she pulled away." she said. that would be. holding his hands out and putting himself on display for her." he added. "But what's the occasion? Are we going out?" she asked.

uh. better get going. "Hai. No problem." she said with a sigh.. There's an errand I have to run. I need to take care of it." he said." she said with a pout. Hild warned her to be subtle.. "It looks like I'll be leaving right after you.. For two months she had lived with Keiichi Morisato. if that goddess found him. and she knew she was making inroads. that he had the ability to see through deceit.." she said as he stepped out the front door. Do you need anything from the store?" "No. though?" "Hai. and he wouldn't care. It didn't matter. okay. "Well. They can't meet if Belldandy is sealed.. there'd be no going back to what he once was." he said."I. It had to be the goddess her mother warned her about." "Good bye and good luck." he replied. Her smile turned dark a moment later as her thoughts turned back to Hasegawa's phone call. A year after that she'd tell him what she really was. By then she would have corrupted him so completely. . She grabbed her purse as she stepped out the door and started for the park. But it was all for nothing. "Didn't you just go shopping. In a year she'd have him at the altar. She went to the little desk where Keiichi kept the ancient Commodore 64 he insisted on keeping and found a one-gigabyte flashdrive in the top drawer. chucking a thumb at the door. "But I think we might have a pest problem." "Oh. my Keiichi san. she knew.. I'll see you later. In two months she had become his sweet little girlfriend. playing the part of his goddess and guardian angel.

but thoughts of her mission managed to pull her away. She was enthralled by what she was seeing. She paused suddenly. "Urd." She blinked in shock at the sight that met her. she found that the building she had appeared in was but one of several! She wanted to explore them. "You seem lost. thrown by the woman's sudden appearance and the feelings reverberating from her. "Hi. to sit down for just a moment and observe. little goddess. perhaps accounting for the lack of other park-goers. her sense of guilt managed to pull her away. As luck would have it.888 Sora's directions were perfect. Sitri smiled. I told Skuld to tell you not to.. children playing and having fun. and she resolved to avoid such distractions until such a time as her duty allowed her the freedom to enjoy them fully. Her ankle-length red skirt seemed to fit oddly on her. She just had to stop. first at the school where. A purple streak in her hair ran from just above her left eye down her pony-tail almost to her feet. Morisato's home. "Hello. an uneasy but somewhat familiar feeling teasing the back of her mind.." she replied. Belldandy swallowed. The woman before her looked very much like her own sister. Finally. yet she didn't make anywhere near the time she should have walking from the school to Mr. not because it was large or more perfectly maintained than the parks in Heaven." she said. A fountain seemed to be under construction there. Perhaps I can help you find your way. but because it was full of people." . only a bit shorter and thinner. Sighing. as if she were used to something much shorter. And then there was the park that young woman recommended she cut through. It was beautiful. her path took her through a part of the park that was free of people. and Belldandy had no problem following them even in an unfamiliar place. she turned. to speak to the people inside and bask in their happiness. to her wonder and amazement.

and behold. She frowned and raised her hands. "One of the four beasts saying. "Really. "What good will knowing my name do you? Haven't you more pressing concerns at the moment?" She fingered the flash drive in her hand.. little goddess. I order you to leave this realm at once!" Belldandy cried.. "As a Goddess First Class. "Do you hear that?" Belldandy blinked. . She felt the bindings release as she hit the ground again. The feelings of hate and spite coming from her made her very soul ache just being near them. Sitri snapped her fingers and two silvery strands of light leapt from her fingers and wrapped around the goddess's hands." Sitri whispered. she climbed to her feet and threw her hands up. the silver ropes holding a death grip on her wrists. Sitri held up a finger as if to say. she was thrown through the air again. "I demand you identify yourself and your purpose in this realm!" Sitri smiled and took a step toward her." she admonished throatily. ". Belldandy cried out as she was yanked off her feet and swung into a nearby tree. Belldandy decided. crossing her arms in front of her face as she braced herself for an attack. black. "What are you doing here?" Belldandy demanded with authority.." She turned to Belldandy and smiled sinisterly.. "I heard. Sitri raised her own hand and launched a sealing spell... blue and purple tendrils of light slamming into Belldandy's white and gold with a force so strong there was an audible boom and wave of energy that threw back the goddess and demon's hair. a white horse. 'Come and see. the noise of thunder.. the breath knocked out of her by the impact. Gathering her wits. as it were.' and I saw. "Wait!" She cocked her head..Definitely a demon. her eyes shut in bliss. Before she could recover. launching a binding spell of her own." It happened before Belldandy was even aware anything was happening.

Desperate and knowing she was losing. The demoness laughed cruelly as she stepped toward the goddess. Sitri's magic seemed to feed off the energy and climb even faster toward the Norn. it worked.. Her eyes fluttered as she saw Sitri's swishing skirt coming toward her. The demoness knelt next to her and held up a flash drive. Drained of her power. "It'll all feel better in a moment. she saw a thin wisp of smoke rising from her arm where Belldandy held her. It was a futile act of desperation. Raising her left hand she grabbed Sitri's right arm. With a cry of despair. With her limiter in place. not forcing itself and overpowering her spell. Belldandy." The demoness raised the flash drive with her right hand while she held Belldandy's arm firmly in her left. She knew what the demon was about to do.Belldandy grit her teeth and poured more energy into her spell as the dark tendrils of Sitri's magic began to make headway against hers. a smile that quickly fell from her face as she felt a tingling in her arm. Belldandy moaned and blinked rapidly." Sitri cooed as she lifted Belldandy's right arm. She was out of power. She had to fight. That tingling became a discomfort. there was no way she could match this unknown demon. Sitri smiled at the act. even if it was futile. drowsy feeling came over her as her emergency recharge method beckoned her. but for some reason. but climbing over it like a parasitic vine. . Looking down.. instinctively tried to step away from it. When she spoke it was if Belldandy were hearing her from the end of a long tunnel. "There. A seductive. Belldandy redoubled her effort and poured everything she had into the spell. The discomfort rapidly became pain. unable to beat back Sitri's spell. It was only a matter of seconds now and she would be sound asleep. she did the only thing her exhausted mind could think of. causing a blast that threw her backward into the dirt. Belldandy forcefully broke off the spell before the dark tendrils could touch her. there. In response.

The goddess forced another foot forward. Struggling against her exhaustion. The goddess resisted the urge to stop just for a moment. it was concrete. whirling around desperately as she tried to stop it. she became more panicked. . resisting sleep's siren song trying to lure her back to the comfortable earth. weak as she was. to rest. but that demon could return at any moment.Shoving the goddess's arm away. I must find a mirror before. then. and she could not be here when she did! She couldn't even raise her head. Another step. she disappeared. She knew she needed to recharge. She felt her balance starting to go and reached out to her left. The goddess didn't know why the demon had disappeared. Another step. her eyelids getting heavier. As the burn continued to spread. but she knew it wouldn't be for long. the demoness jumped to her feet and looked down at her arm in horror. then grass. Finally. in a last desperate act. knowing that once she stopped she'd never start moving again. her hand striking a concrete wall and allowing her to steady herself. red rectangle had been burned into her forearm. First dirt. finally. One foot in front of the other. leaving Belldandy alone. A small.. Sitri cried out and slapped at the burn as if she were trying to slap off offending insects. The only way she could tell she was moving was the change in the earth below her. after several minutes of trudging. causing a hissing sound and the smell of burning flesh. Belldandy rose slowly to her feet. and was now spreading across her skin. She put one foot in front of the other. She felt so weak. she thought. It was so hard.. A mirror.

She felt herself fall forward. "I got ya! It's okay!" She felt him lower her gently to the ground. yet couldn't summon the strength to open her eyes." "Think we should call an ambulance?" the girl asked. expecting any moment to hit the hard concrete sidewalk below her. "Well. replied. only able to note his bushy eyebrows and his warm. She could hear and feel what was happening around her. She couldn't focus her eyes on him. so they compromised. "Got to her just as she passed out. But she didn't. putting a soft blanket over her.. Her mind was insisting she wake up. 888 She didn't know how long she was asleep. she thought. she couldn't take it anymore. . Instead.. Then she succumbed to sleep's embrace. a bed." a man's voice. "I got ya!" she heard as if from far away. She forced her eyes open for only the briefest of moments. but her body wasn't ready. she doesn't seem drunk to me. she felt strong arms catch her. she wasn't lying on concrete. "You say you found her stumbling down the street?" "Yeah.. but it obviously wasn't enough." a feminine voice spoke. his voice. One thing she did know. just enough for a quick glimpse. a man's voice filled with kindness.Finally. Your place was closer than ours so.. She could feel gentle hands tucking her in. Someone had placed her on something soft somewhere. brown eyes.

She heard a beep and then." But Belldandy didn't hear anymore.. Before the girl could finish. "Well. Her body was calling an end to their little compromise. Maybe she has some kind of sleeping disorder?" The girl sighed. Mystery Woman. tucking her in.. his voice soaked with concern..." he said. "She's hurt! I gotta go! Are you. just asleep. "Was that S.." "Sounds good to. "Like you said."I don't know. I guess she can just stay here for a bit. "Well. "Hello? What's wrong? Are you okay? Okay. If she gets worse or doesn't wake up after awhile." "Yeah. she seems okay. . I'll be right there!" Another beep." "Yeah. I'll just call a doctor. "You just take a load off and relax. 888 "How did this happen?" Keiichi asked again as he gently dabbed at his girlfriend's arm with a wet towel." the boy said." the girl said softly... we're cool! Get going!" Belldandy heard a door open and shut and felt the hands again. she was asleep again.." He broke off as a phone rang... and when you feel up...

to be his guardian angel. you make lemonade. Ever since that day she had appeared in his dorm room he had asked himself. "Come on." . Sitri let him work as she quietly congratulated herself.. "Really?" she asked." she sobbed quietly.. "There was a cooking demonstration at the market. "The worst part is it's going to leave a scar." she whimpered. So much so that he was constantly afraid of doing something to ruin it. you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. A patch the size of a dollar bill was an angry red where Belldandy had burned her." "What kind of talk is that?" Keiichi asked with a reassuring smile. Keiichi san. Keiichi shook his head. "Oh." he admonished her gently. She decided to pour it on a little thick and sniffled loudly. Sitri just seemed so perfect in every way.Sitting next to him." he said with a smile." He let his eyes wander over her." he replied in the affirmative. sniffling in pain. When Destiny hands you lemons. "Mm hmm. "You gotta be careful around stuff like that. "There's something I want to do." The demoness sniffed and summoned a blush. and it didn't take her long after realizing she had lost track of Belldandy to come up with a contingency plan. "Sitri. wondering how he got so lucky. Was that why she seemed so interested in him? Or did she really feel something? It was hard to tell even when she hinted her desire for a physical relationship. "You have no idea how that makes me feel." She gestured to her arm. I stumbled and reached out to catch myself and." she whimpered. "I won't be beautiful for you anymore. "This chef was working with one of those big hibachi grills like at the steak houses. 'Why me?' She said she had come to offer him Heaven's Grace.

" he said. "What?" He took her hands and pulled her to her feet. not sure she heard right. "I keep saying we'll go dancing sometime. "Huh?" she asked. I've only been hinting for two months! What's a girl gotta do to get some action in this realm? Keiichi pulled her into the living room and smiled. Oh. You're the devil in disguise! Elvis Presley crooned. He reached out and hit play on his old cassette player. yes you are! Devil in disguise! You fooled me with your kisses! You cheated and you schemed! Heaven knows how you lied to me! You're not the way you seem! Sitri suddenly laughed without meaning to.She blinked at him. and she smiled. "How about now?" Jesus Christ bananas! she thought. The goody-goody act was really starting to wear on her. Finally! she thought to herself. . "Dance with me?" he asked.

" she said. secretly savoring the irony. "Doesn't seem that important right now." "Oh.. practically dragging him into the movements for a moment. He shrugged and smiled.. but before he could finish. "I can put on something else. "They. "You didn't tell me how your interview went. um. Sitri pulled him to her and held him close." Keiichi cleared his throat as the demoness pressed her chest against him." she explained.. your taste in music. I'm sorry. I thought I was in Heaven! But I was sure surprised! Heaven help me." "Good!" she declared.. I didn't see..Keiichi gave her a puzzled look." he said quickly. "I like this song. The devil in your eyes! "By the way.. They said they'd call me.." She started to dance." she said." she said with a smile. embracing him. . "Just. "Nothing!" she said quickly. "No..

." Sitri hissed.. "I take you've met one another then and found each other to be.." Hild went on." Sitri replied with a note of challenge. "Oh. Her red silk pajamas swished quietly as she strode confidently to the door and entered the bath. ". "That goddess is here. It only took about ten seconds for Hild's face to appear in the mirror." she called quietly. she turned to the mirror. less than pleasant?" Sitri turned her head away in angry disgust. now what?" she asked. Locking the door behind her. "May I assume by your tone of voice. that you have failed to seal this young goddess as I instructed?" "You may. "Have they met?" . "Mother. a note of danger flavoring her voice." Hild said with a tone of understanding.. folding her arms over her chest. "Ah. The queen and CEO of the demon realm smiled for only a moment before seeing the utterly pissed off look on her younger daughter's face.888 Sitri moved silently through the hallway as she made her way past Keiichi's room to the bathroom at the end of the hall. daring Hild to castigate her for her failure. Hild took a breath and decided to take stock of the situation instead.

" Sitri assured her. "My poor baby.. The fire in her daughter's voice threw the elder demoness for a moment." Sitri commanded." "Tell me she loves him." Hild replied." Hild told her. She arched an eyebrow and smiled.. meet. "She must have made quite the impression." she went on. "More than life itself.." Sitri responded by holding up her arm and showing her mother the burn scar there.." "Belldandy will not leave this realm alive!" Sitri hissed suddenly." "I'm quite sure it would." "They won't meet."No. "I have reordered time! I have turned the world upside down! And it can all be undone if they meet... must not. "Excellent!" Sitri hissed." "They.. Hild winced in sympathy." "Belldandy has a way of." "And tell me that being with my Keiichi would make her the happiest goddess in Creation. enunciating each word.. Hild's grin turned cold. "I will see to that. "Because I intend to keep him!" . "Do you understand me? I've gone through a great deal of trouble to make this plan work.

"Find that goddess and seal her! Don't take anything for granted. Sitri!" For the first time since their conversation began. and I'm not prepared to pay such a price." "Not this time. throwing her nose in the air. "The plan was. empty chore to be endured! And I will bask in it!" She stared at her mother. "Oh?" she asked. however. But the boy. Hild. again daring her to deny her her wishes. complicated. opening the door. those two always find one another." "Don't forget it.Hild arched an eyebrow. "You always know what to get me. "Doublet would take one of my demons." Sitri broke in. Sitri backed down. "Have it your own way. "You will have your prize.. his heart." Hild seemed to pout for a moment.." Hild bit out. "The situation is. Mother." Sitri promised. ." "Do not kill Belldandy..." The young demoness smiled cruelly." "The plan was to corrupt his soul. "Somehow. I shall scar her! I will make her heart burn to ash in her chest until her every moment of life is but an aching." "I cannot promise such a thing." "But no killing. belongs to me. "I mean it. "Very well. smiled at seeing her daughter so motivated in her task." she said.. cutting her mother off. and through him I will spite that goddess bitch! As she scarred me. I live to serve your will. Mother." Hild ordered.. my dear. "My gift to you." Sitri said." Hild warned her.

She felt much better now.She stepped out of the bathroom and shut the door behind her." the young man said. As she rose from the bed." Belldandy thought about opening the door and joining them. flowing outfit had been replaced by a pair of grey shorts and a white T-shirt emblazoned with the words. She stood in the middle of the room. She blinked as she looked down at herself. blue blanket." the girl replied. She smiled. the same people she had heard before. "Yeah. Someone had changed her clothes. Sitting up. and the goddess inhaled the first breath of the morning. Her hair had also been pulled down from its pony-tail. if still a little weak from her battle with the unknown demon. ". "So how did the job thing go?" ..." 888 Her eyes opened. Someone had gone through a great deal of trouble to make sure she was comfortable as she rested. you know? She's been cagey ever since. "Ah. "This time." she whispered with a predatory grin. Her blue. "But it really shook her up. she'll find only me. relishing in the life-sustaining act. not sure how to proceed. she yawned loudly and got a good look at her surroundings for the first time. She was lying on a futon and covered by a soft. she could make out voices in the next room. "So she's okay?" the girl was asking. but at the same time the goddess didn't want to intrude on a private conversation. "NIT Softball" across the front.

" the girl relented." he said."It didn't. Girls can tell!" "I'm not having this conversation again. though. I don't like her. "You can't pin it on her...." There was an awkward pause that the goddess could instinctively tell made them both uncomfortable." he replied. She's got a mean streak in her. "Look.. "You see?" the girl went on." the boy said.. I missed the interview. She's from a rich family right?" "All of a sudden you're taking her side?" he asked. That's tough..." "True." the woman replied. Did you tell her about your little white knight routine yesterday?" There was another pause. Megumi. "She doesn't think I need a job to begin with. but I can just tell. "You've hated her since the day you met. "Well.. You know that. that's true." "Come on." "No. "You didn't tell her because you didn't want to deal with the fall-out of that girl's jealous streak. the girl continued. I think she's manipulative and. "Fine." "Ouch. "I ran into our mystery guest on the way. "Let me ask you this. What did she say?" The man snorted." . Finally. seriously!" the woman continued. "But even I can see her up-side.

I don't know exactly what happened to you. Belldandy was suddenly snapped out of her thoughts by the door opening." "That would be wonderful. thank you! I appreciate all you've done for me!" "I hope you're not upset about changing your clothes. I'm forgetting my manners."Maybe I just didn't want to tell her I missed my interview. Later on. A young woman with short hair blinked in surprise at seeing her up and around." She turned for the door. He owes me a favor." the girl relented. "How do you feel?" Belldandy smiled. "Are you hungry? You want some soup?" . "Much better. My name is Belldandy. so we can get it cleaned up for you today. "Look. thank you. "But the outfit you had on was dirty and I didn't know how long you'd be asleep. pleased to meet you." "Maybe. She smiled broadly. "Or maybe with her being hurt it just slipped my mind. I gotta go." the boy said." "I'm Megumi. I know a guy in town who owns a dry cleaning business." Megumi replied with a bow of her own. "I'll drop by later." Belldandy replied. but it knocked you out cold for twenty-four hours. "I'm sorry." the boy said." the girl said. Without realizing she had been eavesdropping. "Oh! You're awake!" the girl said dumbly." There was the sound of a door opening and closing followed the sound of approaching footsteps." "Okay. She bowed. "You should still probably take it easy.

I suppose you could say. personal." Belldandy said. "I don't recall a horse. "No. Kei chan's the one that rode in on his white horse and rescued you. . you can hang out here until you get on your feet."That would be wonderful! But please. smiling." "Oh.." "That's very generous of you!" Belldandy said. "New in town?" "Hai." Megumi smiled. allow me to help! I owe you a great debt for helping me. but was attacked in that park. who was less than the prince charming he appeared to be on the internet... almost certainly a guy." Belldandy blinked.." Belldandy said." "Well. It was an old story. "But tell you what. "You got a place to stay?" Megumi asked sympathetically. you really are foreign. aren't you?" Megumi asked with a smile." Megumi sensed that they were drifting into something personal and uncomfortable for the foreign girl. "It was something more. My needs are very small. "Someone mugged you?" "No. if you want. That park was usually safe no matter what time of day or night you went there." "Wow. "Shucks. and she could almost put the pieces together herself. clapping her hands together in delight." Megumi said.. "I came to see someone. you don't owe me anything. maybe.. "But that's all right. yeah. She probably came to the country to meet this person." Belldandy replied honestly... Things got a little rough and now. yeah?" Megumi asked. surprised to hear that.

"You still want the room?" Megumi asked nervously.. Megumi smiled again. the ghost and all. "SHUT UP!" she screamed. and I don't snap and burn this building to the ground and him with it." Megumi said sheepishly as she scratched the back of her head. "Yeah. "GEEEEEEET OOOOOUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTT!" Belldandy blinked...." "Ghost?" Belldandy asked. Now. "It's no problem." Before she could finish a deep rumbling voice reverberated through the apartment. knowing how utterly absurd and/or horrifying this must seem." "I see. "I'm stuck with him. "I HATE YOU! SHUT UP!" Silence." she went on. Megumi grit her teeth and rather than cower at the otherworldly voice.. blinking. I got the extra room and there's no use trying to rent it out with... "We kind of have an unspoken agreement.." She sighed..Megumi smiled.. He's not too bad. "Very much!" . well. I got the extra room and.. Stupid me didn't think to ask why until after the lease was signed.. "Like I was saying. "Came here from Hokkaido and found this great apartment for an awesome price. He doesn't haunt me in the middle of the night when I'm trying to sleep. "Hai!" Belldandy cried. As if nothing at all happened." Belldandy said with a smile. she looked up at the ceiling.

"So. cool. they found no ID. With a demon on the loose and her in a weakened state. . yet she moved about the kitchen. but suddenly paused. "The Man Comes Around" belongs to Johnny Cash... Not a reason that he knew. The girl seemed happy... but if word got back to that demon. a refugee in every way that counted. unforced smile. When her brother brought Belldandy to her home. "First End" was written by Yumi Touma. almost abnormally happy given her situation. as if she knew everything was happening as it should... There was something about her.. Belldandy opened her mouth to answer. There's a reason Keiichi brought her here. with a gentle. It broke her heart to think she might have to deceive someone.. where are you from?" Megumi asked casually. "So. Disclaimer: AMG is not mine. no money. something.. she thought. Second Dawn Chapter 3 Those Whom Demon Has Joined Together Let Not Goddess Put Asunder Megumi Morisato of Hokkaido watched the foreign girl out of the corner of her eye as she stirred the simple soup she was making." Megumi said with a grin. different... no wallet. as far as Megumi could tell."Okay. just.. she's here for a REASON. how about that soup?" TO BE CONTINUED. She was. setting the table. it might not be the best idea to divulge too much information about what she was.

She wanted to press for more information. .." The goddess smiled. I know some recipes.. the Japanese girl wasn't one to press. and she was growing very weary of take out and ramen." she answered truthfully and deceptively at he same time. She wasn't good at deceit and hated the very idea of it. either out of embarrassment of her situation or distrust of Megumi." "You do?" "Hai!" The girl felt like she had won the lottery. An American. no. Megumi nodded knowingly. "Europe?" Megumi pressed. too polite. "It's wonderful! What is it?" "It's miso soup. It always irked her that the local merchants traded her groceries in exchange for her mechanical expertise when she didn't know how to cook."Far away. Definitely Canadian... "It's pretty much the limit of my cooking skills. Picking up two bowls of soup. So I hope you like take out. I could cook... Megumi turned and gently placed the steaming bowls on the table before them. "A little further. "If you like." Megumi answered with a shrug. Either way. but it was obvious that the girl didn't want to talk about herself. but it wasn't just her safety at stake. Belldandy sipped delicately from her spoon and smiled." Belldandy replied with a cringe.

offering the key to Belldandy. "Megumi san?" The girl turned and found Belldandy standing there. "Thank you. She smiled and reached into her pocket." . she didn't feel as much trepidation at that thought as she felt she should."Knock yourself out!" Megumi replied." she said. At some point. Did you plan on just following her around until she got tired of it and left? Megumi bit her lip. her mind chastised her. Megumi stood up and grabbed her gym bag as she headed to the door. I'll take your clothes to that cleaner I told you about.. foreign girl she knew nothing about alone in her apartment. but you should probably rest and take it easy. Help yourself to anything in the fridge. "You opened your heart to a stranger in need when you did not have to." "Hey." Belldandy closed her eyes. taking a key off her Go Go Happy Panda key ring. okay?" "Hai. and the weird thing was. "May fortune smile upon you.. it's your own fault. "Jeez! I gotta go! I got softball practice!" She suddenly looked up at Belldandy and realized that she was about to leave a strange.. You offered her a place to stay. "Here. that same disarming smile on her face. Well. She reached out and took the mortal girl's hands. she had decided to trust this girl without even realizing it. She checked her watch and quickly wiped her mouth with a napkin." she said. it's not a problem.." Belldandy replied. "It's my spare.

"Will I have a chance to meet and thank your brother. and she promised she would never forget it. okay?" "Hai. Megumi san?" "Yeah?" "I was just wondering. "Wonderful!" As Megumi left. She almost hoped so. she thought there had been a flash of light. and she still had no idea how she survived her encounter with the strange demon. beaten and yet. "You just take it easy.. Oh.. .. The foreign girl was smiling at her.. Sitting at the kitchen table." Belldandy's grin touched her ears. she went over the final moments of the fight in her mind.. "Yeah. She shouldn't be here to begin with. Belldandy offered another silent blessing to both the girl and her brother. "He'll probably drop by tonight to see how you're doing. Any girl was better than Sitri. For a moment..Megumi blinked. She blinked the momentary flash from her eyes and smiled back. weakened. but it must have been a reflection from the front window." Belldandy began nervously. Their goodness of heart literally saved her life. looking at her feet. Thinking on that brought to mind a very disturbing fact.. for helping me?" Megumi smiled and wondered if the foreigner was coming down with a case of Damsel-inDistress syndrome. She was down." she said with a nod..

The ring. Finally getting it right.. Where would Skuld come by a ring from Earth? Her sister had never been to this realm. The demon hadn't reacted when she touched her other arm. charms or curses. she turned just as her textbooks began to slide out of her hands. by one almost mundane fact about the ring.When she touched the demoness. Deciding to check. No spells. And Belldandy's experiences on Earth consisted entirely of granting wishes. however. trying to will it to explain itself. scanning the piece of jewelry for its make and qualities. allowing her powers to heighten her senses. so what was it about her left. It was made on Earth. Perhaps it possessed magical qualities. The ring twinkled knowingly at her. She was disappointed because despite her momentary suspicion. actions that took only a few moments and did not allow for shopping trips. only twinkled at her and kept its secrets to itself.. . Biting her lip.. She looked down at her hand and wondered why. however. The goddess was intrigued. 888 Hasegawa grumbled as she tried to balance her books in her arms while locking her apartment. she placed the ring on the table and held her hand about four inches over it. there were absolutely no magical properties about the ring. This gave Belldandy pause. So how did it get to Heaven for Skuld to give it to her? She picked up the ring and examined it with her blue eyes.. It was what it was and no more. Belldandy removed the ring and studied it carefully. What she found both disappointed and intrigued her. that touch burned her.

" "I might do that. "Hey. Didn't she show up at your place?" "Didn't who show up?" Sitri asked." the student said with a sheepish grin.Only to be caught by a familiar woman who had come up behind her." Sora said." "You should ask Keiichi san to tutor you. Sora chan. She liked Sitri senpai. no. huh?" "Yeah. Senpai." Hasegawa said. She didn't mean for it to sound like that. "It's all right. . Hasegawa smiled. She was always nice to her and never treated her like a flat-chested kid. "Sorry. "You mean the foreigner?" Sora followed this up with an embarrassed blush a moment later. "Thanks. "Sora chan.." she said. After the initial jump in surprise." Sitri said with a smile." Sitri replied. The silver-tressed woman smiled as she handed the books back to her." "No problem. "It's still kicking my butt. did that girl ever show up again?" Sitri suddenly asked. the girl?" Hasegawa shook her head. "Physics today. Sora chan.." Sitri suggested. "So. "He got an A in that class. "Sorry.

Sora chan?" Sitri asked pleasantly. A part of her knew what she was doing. Facing an enemy of Heaven was easy. The very least she could do was Megumi san's dishes. so she was busying herself with other things. but that was unacceptable. She didn't want to think about the task ahead of her.. Hasegawa blinked. Sora chan. She couldn't just take advantage of Megumi san's hospitality like that and sleep while there were chores that needed to be done. It could not be coincidence that Hell's servant found her so quickly after arriving." "A what. She felt a wave of drowsiness wash over her and considered sleeping for a bit more. she wondered what she should do next. "I'm sorry. I'll ask Keiichi about tutoring you. That almost gave her more trepidation than facing the demon. "There was a. her violet orbs seeming to reach into Hasegawa's soul and grab hold of it." "Thanks. Now that she was certain Hasegawa wouldn't go asking Keiichi about their mysterious foreign visitor. 888 Belldandy wiped her hands on a dish towel after putting the last dish away. "That's all right. she knew.. facing up to her own failure frightened her. she would have to face the unknown demon again.. Somewhere in Nekomi was a goddess she had to find. At some point. fogging her thoughts.Hasegawa blinked. "I must have been thinking of something else. Turning. humiliate and destroy." Sitri smiled.. Senpai!" The demoness turned and smiled as she walked away from the apartment.. . a. "Um.." she said with a smile." Sitri stared into her eyes. she could start the search in earnest. And she would have to face Keiichi Morisato as well. The girl felt a warmth in her eyes that spread through her head. You have a good day at school.

"As a goddess first class. white-haired being appeared in the kitchen before her. "I might be able to help you. "You're an Earth Spirit." she declared. The ghost seemed to hesitate at this new development. She blinked at the sight and the realization that she wasn't looking at a ghost at all." Belldandy told him with a disappointed finger wave. Belldandy's nose scrunched in irritation. If this truly was a wandering spirit trapped in this place by an inability to move onto the next life. "Ghost san?" she asked. She looked up and blinked."GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT!" a deep voice howled at her from everywhere and nowhere as the house shook. "LEAVE THIS PLACE OR I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL!" "That's not very nice. with a puff of acrid smoke. unlimited license. a tall. 888 . "Would you like to come out and talk?" The ghost didn't reply. then she was sympathetic. Finally. I command thee to show thyself!" she ordered with steel in her voice. "BE GONE FROM THIS PLACE!" the ghost demanded again." Belldandy offered with a smile. but this hostile behavior was simply unacceptable.

being hunted. She wasn't foolish enough to believe the goddess had given up and gone back to Heaven. "So you can come and go as you please. The demoness paused on a light post just long enough to change course and return to the house. "Please look after Megumi san. "If there is anything I can do to repay you. The deity waited for her to continue. "It would be best if she not find me. It wasn't their way. "And one other thing. "I'm.Sitri growled as she leapt from telephone pole to telephone pole. Lady Belldandy." The Earth Spirit sighed in relief and smiled. She didn't have to find Belldandy because she knew where Belldandy was going. She laughed as the truth of her situation and the simple solution came to her." She collected her thoughts and continued.." she said. "Thank you.." "I shall." she began quietly." he promised. They had a tenacity born from the firm belief that they were always right.. "By a demon of great power." "If you would. If Sitri could find her. searching the streets as she went. and that tenacity would lead to Belldandy's downfall. Can you use your powers to mask mine?" ." she said. 888 "I've reset the line." he told her with genuine feeling.." Belldandy told him.

she had no illusions that it was easy work. While Aurora had chosen not to follow her sisters into the narration business. "It shall be done. Oracle was more of a researcher. "The First End. Belldandy's time with the mortal was all there. Oracle wasn't a goddess of the future. "Should you not return to Heaven? If this demon is actively seeking you. however. no matter the threat. She didn't have to be at work for another eighteen hours. "I have a mission here. Despite her name. going over Oracle's notes." The Earth Spirit began." as stupid as the name sounded. hastily outlined by her sister in screenplay format from their first meeting to the battle with the Lord of Terror to Velsper's attempt to stop the universe all the way to Keiichi's death and triggering of a singularity that seems to cause a massive cascade failure in Yggdrasil. Lady Belldandy. Lady Belldandy!" Belldandy bowed back. Control over Time was left to the Norns." she said. She researched the future's script and made sure there were no anomalies or conflicts. What she was finding in her sister's work." The goddess closed her eyes.. I ask for your support in this. was frightening. and she had a feeling she would be spending the overwhelming majority of them here in her sister's office. a "Time-ologist. "Thank you very much!" "If I may.. "And I will not abandon it.The Earth Spirit bowed low. This part Oracle had circled with a note written in the margin in red ink that said." "Then I am yours!" 888 Aurora sighed and rubbed her eyes." .

Which. It gave her a headache. This is the problem! The Dawn let out a breath. Did her sister really expect her to get Morisato and Belldandy together if it meant killing trillions of beings? She flipped back to the start of their script. Aurora was no "Time-ologist" (Almighty. that still hadn't happened...). things had reset to the moment Keiichi Morisato had made his wish. "Aurora?" . if what Oracle told her was true. Aurora found out. things started to diverge again. yet. The script clearly called for Keiichi Morisato to make his wish again. Turning the page. Aurora tapped at the line with her pencil. I would like a goddess like you to always be by my side. yet being together brings about Ragnarok. but it seemed to her that Keiichi Morisato and Belldandy were caught in some kind of endless reset loop. the day Morisato first made his wish to Belldandy. after the world ended. The Dawn sighed and leaned back in her chair. was true. Destiny mandated that they be together. But once that portion of the script ended with yet another reset. In the margin her sister had stenciled a quick note followed by several exclamation marks. And perhaps that was a very good thing. Oracle had underlined the statement three times and circled it twice. she hated that term. she saw that somehow.

they stopped it from happening! Why would you want me to undo that!" "Because it is Destiny's will that they be together!" Oracle snapped back. "This!" Oracle went on." Oracle arched an eyebrow." Aurora spat." prominent at the top. "I call it 'Ragnarok!' I call it the eradication of every living thing in Creation!" "You don't understand." "You call it 'righting Destiny!'" Aurora bit back. "You wrote these notes! You know what will happen if they are thrown together again!" "It is our job to right Destiny. "What are you doing?" "Researching before I go out to look for them. interesting stuff. the red words." Aurora let out a breath and rubbed her temples. "The First End. "Give the Norns the credit they deserve! They saw what would happen and despite the pain it would cause Belldandy." Aurora told her seriously. "How?" . "This is not the way it should have ended! It could have ended better! They deserved better!" Her voice softened.Turning. we can give them better. Oracle's own scribblings damning the older goddess. she saw Oracle standing in the doorway. Aurora! Deconfliction! Correlation need not be causation! Not in this case!" She snatched the notes from her little sister's hand. "But?" "But you're out of your mind if you think I'm going to help you do this." "Understand what?" Aurora cried. "But it is not Destiny's will that Creation be destroyed! That's what script-work is all about. She held up the notes. holding the pages aloft.. "And with a little work. "Your notes are very detailed..

. Bringing a rice ball to her mouth... and her brother entered." Aurora said. Creation. "I'm so glad!" she said.. gesturing to the empty seat. can all turn on a single poorly-phrased statement. "I don't know. "Oh." . "Then what?" Oracle bit her lip."The wish is the key. she chewed in ecstacy. The college student hadn't even been aware that the contents of her refrigerator could be made into such a feast. She's a keeper. this." "So what you're saying is I need to find them before that wish is granted. this is awesome!" Megumi gasped out as she took in the sight that met her upon entering the kitchen.." he said... Before she could lift her chopsticks to her mouth. The door opened." Oracle said. he blinked. "I'm certain of it. "Wow." Megumi sat down as the girl walked down the hall. yet it appeared that the foreign girl had somehow managed it. Belldandy clapped her hands together.. the future.. "Hey. Seeing the spread laid out before him. "Please!" she begged. happy at Megumi's reaction. Confliction and deconfliction are very sensitive to Chaos. "Come on in!" she called." 888 "Belldandy. there was a knock on the door. what's the occasion?" "Your new girlfriend can cook!" Megumi replied in glee. "Dig in! I think I'm going to go take a bath. Oh my god..

sitting down across from her. "Did she talk to the police yet?" "I don't think so. She said she was attacked in the park. and now she's kind of stuck here. "Because you saved her life." Megumi went on. but I get the feeling that she came here looking for something and didn't find it. She's probably scared enough as it is being alone in a new country. and it looks like you didn't just help a sick girl home. Megumi gave him a side-long glance. I invited her to stay until she gets on her feet. Her name's Belldandy." Megumi said sheepishly." she said slyly. "She's really looking forward to meeting you." "Jeez." Keiichi said." "Stay?" "Yeah. and I don't think we should push her. plucking a rice ball from the platter at the table's center." Megumi said with a grin. She keeps talking about wanting to thank you. "I think you made an impression." Keiichi whispered. "She's kind of reserved. "Oh. I meant to call." "Okay. "Yeah." "Oh yeah?" She nodded."You mean she's awake?" Keiichi asked. doesn't talk about herself a lot." . but I got caught up in other things. "Why?" Keiichi asked mid-chew. "Yeah.

plucking another rice ball from the plate. "Dammit.. "I'm just saying that she seems like a really nice girl."I didn't do anything. Megumi.. No offense. these are good." Megumi told him.." she said." Keiichi glared at her. "What the hell do you have against her?" Keiichi snapped. woman." he went on. that usually means.. "You can do so much better!" she finally hissed.... Kei chan.. That. every time we talk." Megumi said with a knowing smile. Kei chan. Megumi found herself glaring back. is wrong for you!" "Wrong how?" he demanded. and she can cook." Megumi said. But at the same time I have never been as sure about something as I am this. and she's been nothing but nice to you!" "I don't expect you to understand." "What are you doing?" he asked her suddenly." he said. That woman is up to something. you run her down.. "It's just a feeling. "Give yourself some credit. All she had was feelings and instinct. "She's wrong for you. The younger Morisato growled to herself. it wasn't exactly rock-hard evidence. "What? Nothing. knowing that there was no good answer. and while they had served her well in the past. "I can feel it.. but looks and money? How did you two meet again? What did you say? You were modeling for her art class or something?" . "You rescued the damsel in distress from the evil dragon. and.. and she's using you to do it. "God. her voice remaining even as his rose.. In the story books.

Belldandy." she said.." he said irritably. "I. "I appreciate the help. I just dropped by to see how things were going and pick up that part you wanted me to look at.. he tried to put the anger from their last conversation out of his mind.. He turned the corner. So preoccupied with this was he. though polite.. The boy took a step back and blinked. his face turning a deep crimson as he got a good look at what he had just bumped into. didn't care for Megumi either." he said." he said. huh?" ..Keiichi stood up." He sighed. "Look. facing away from him. "Um.. Which sucked no matter how he sliced it. So awestruck by the sight of her. "You must be Kei chan!" she surmised.. "You don't have to like her. After a moment of staring. That had to be why Megumi hated Sitri and Sitri.. Really. Kei chan. that he didn't notice the towel-clad young woman until he bumped into her.. I guess you're Belldandy. he didn't answer right away. a violet towel wrapped around her body and her hair pinned up. blinked as well before realization struck her and she smiled happily. He cleared his throat again nervously. that's me. uh. I mean.. That had to be it. 888 As he walked down the hall toward his sister's bedroom. leaving the kitchen and starting down the hall. in fact. he finally caught himself and coughed. "But I do expect you to be civil and accept her." "Yeah. Girls were simply weird. Yeah." "It's in my room. his mind cluttered with questions about how he was going to get the two most important women in his life to at least be civil to one another.

" "Forget it?" "I was just thinking something. but. Belldandy stood there patiently. I mean. finally able to get a good look at her savior.. for some reason... Perhaps he was ill. almost like she were sitting by a warm fire back home under her favorite blanket. he looked at her eyes and found himself trapped there. unable to avert his gaze. They stared at one another for another minute before Keiichi finally managed to break away from her eyes.. . perfectly content to stare right back into his eyes. As she rose again.. "I. The brown orbs were comforting. smiling as she reaffirmed her belief that he had kind eyes and a gentle soul. Though. "Thank you so much!" "It. "Forget it..." He smiled and shook his head. It was no problem.. and he had to physically turn his gaze to keep from trying to look down the towel at her. "I owe you a great debt..... studied the young man intently. "I'm sorry!" he said suddenly. it's just.. She bowed to him. didn't mean to stare." "Hai?" "Well. he appeared flushed and cleared his throat often. um." she said. Are you sure you're new here?" Belldandy blinked at him."Hai!" The goddess.." he stuttered out.

um. She tried to reach out to it. There was something there. as if searching for something. It felt like she was looking into him. which was what he fully expected her to do. The boy blinked at the intensity of her stare. "I. and the moment was over. Of course. a being ostensibly of goodness and purity.. At first. as he looked into this woman's eyes. if not recognition. to grasp it with her mind." he said almost reluctantly. He cleared his throat nervously. unless she had granted him a wish in the past. For a goddess. It was the absolute most tackiest.. Belldandy doubted his assertion." The boy kicked himself.." Belldandy's face fell. then definitely familiarity... his girlfriend had something of a temper on her.... "You're not staying for dinner?" . "I.. overused come-on in history.. just came to get a part from Megumi's room. Rather than laugh. After all... he wasn't even coming onto her. however. if Sitri had heard him say that. gotta get going.. there was no reason for her to have even laid eyes on him before he rescued her.. Belldandy looked harder into his eyes. her disappointment made plain by the droop in her eyes.... that he had seen them somewhere before. I just get the feeling that we've met before. and the worst part was. er."I. A wispy tendril of.. He honestly felt.

" she complimented. A man like that.. Of course he would have a lover." For a brief moment.. pinned to the spot by the woman's eyes. She added the onions to the frying pan and stirred. a warm. "Um. "I see.. Megumi san said you would be coming over. "Oh." He suddenly felt like a jerk." she said sadly. "Yeah. and a possible solution presented itself. she was ecstatic. did you make enough for four?" 888 Belldandy hummed happily as she quickly chopped an onion at the kitchen counter. to try to bring his sister and girlfriend closer together. she worked on adding to the dinner she prepared and Megumi had already sampled." she said with a smile. "I had hoped to thank you for helping me.. gentle person with such kind eyes would have any number of young women desiring to spend their lives with him.. his girlfriend's name fled him. To bring peace to his home and family was the perfect way to thank him for his help." he finally finished.."I. She squashed a momentary feeling of disappointment.. While technically it was true she had made enough for four people.. "My.. My girlfriend. her smile unmovable even as her eyes watered from the onions. She had gone through a lot of trouble. she didn't feel what she had made was adequate." Belldandy said with a smile... "Gomen. "I have to get back to. regret flavoring his words. so I made a special dinner. .. so as Kei sama returned to his home to retrieve his girlfriend. His earlier problem occurred to him again. When Kei sama had explained what he wanted to do." he said truthfully. um." he said. "She must be a wonderful person. I can't.

she thought. with long. gentlest. When she had come to the kitchen after Kei sama left. most lovely of young women. . silky hair and perfect skin. Megumi noticed the onions sizzling in the pan and arched an eyebrow. "Thank you very much!" Belldandy cried.. The boy seemed like the kind of gentleman who would attract only the kindest.." Megumi muttered as she walked into the back to hang up Belldandy's dress. "Ah! Megumi san! Where did you go?" Belldandy asked. The goddess blinked. it was her sky-blue outfit. holding up the plastic-wrapped dress." Belldandy replied with a gentle smile. "Hai." "Great." The college student took a deep breath. "Oh yeah?" she asked in resignation. The goddess resumed humming as she stirred the onions. "More cooking?" Belldandy smiled and turned back to the pan. She wondered what Kei sama's girlfriend was like. True to her word. Before she could think on it further. She was probably tall. "I wanted to grab your dress before the cleaners closed." Megumi told her. "Your brother and his girlfriend are coming over for dinner. He wants very much for you and his girlfriend to be close. "Kei sama is concerned. her new roommate was gone without a note or goodbye. wondering why her mind had phrased it like that. the front door opened and Megumi stepped in holding a garment covered in clear plastic. now clean and pressed.It's such a simple wish to grant.

.. "Some are born and some are dying... admiring her beauty in pursuit of such a simple. smiling at him.. watching her as she washed the dishes. "Voices calling and voices crying. "One hundred million angels singing.. perhaps she could have oily skin? she seemed to ask herself. Though. but she went quiet and turned her head to him....." she sang softly as she scrubbed a dirty dish in the sink.." Keiichi leaned against the doorframe.. . hear the pipers." she sang softly. too tall.." The boy coughed quietly. trying not to disturb her. Perhaps. it's certainly possible that she's not. mundane act.The goddess bit her lip.. And. 888 He heard the sink running when he walked through the door then the sound of her voice as his goddess sang. Multitudes are marching to a big kettle drum. "Hear the trumpets. she couldn't really explain why. that was certainly possible! Though she felt guilty about it.. she had to admit her spirits were buoyed by the possibility that Kei sama's girlfriend was not perfect.... And I'm willing to bet she has split ends! Yes.

well." she said. look. sitting down on the dark red love seat Sitri had insisted on buying. she placed her hands on his chest and leaned in for a kiss. "You're the two most important women in my life. "But.."Welcome home. hot bath?" "Actually. The moment the woman had .." she argued weakly. Keiichi sighed in resignation.." Sitri took a step back and offered him a skeptical look.. Keiichi san.. no offense to Megumi san." he said. "Okay." Sitri growled.. He turned and walked into the living room." he told her quietly. "I'll start dinner. "And you can't be in the same room together. turning off the water and drying her hands... He looked up at her. I was planning on making something special tonight. "Yeah. but made it a point to do so at such a low volume that there was no way Keiichi could hear her. but she burns water." he said. I want you and Megumi to talk. "I want to have dinner there tonight because. "Megumi's?" she asked... Of all the mortals the demoness had encountered thus far. It gave them a place to "be together." "Not to fear!" Keiichi said with a bright smile. Why don't you have a nice. Sayoko she had taken care of early." Keiichi said with a tone of theatricality. "Keiichi san. Walking up to him. I figured if I got the two of you together over dinner.. taking a breath. "Her new roommate cooks like a first class chef!" The demoness didn't appear convinced. "We're going to Megumi's for dinner. you could air things out and maybe." she had said." "Megumi and I?" she replied with an arched eyebrow.. Sitri. and I hate that. Megumi Morisato was the worst.

He swallowed. snapping her fingers and summoning a small.. To protect you from harm. and if she was willing to make the first move and prove she wanted to make him happy. throwing a leg over his and straddling the boy." the duchess of the damned had proceeded to covertly ruin her life. social standing and fortune. When Aoshima approached her. that Sitri was not what she seemed and wasted no time telling Keiichi how he would be better off without her. Sitri saw no good way to get rid of her short of killing her.." She smiled as he took a long drag from the . the cigarette swaying in his mouth as he spoke." he mumbled.challenged her for the asinine title of "Campus Queen. and she wasn't quite ready to take that step.. "Then I will continue to make you happy. Sitri knew his goal right away and "naively" led him on just enough to get into a love hotel with him. "Y.. "That is my role as your goddess. they found a half-dressed Sitri with tears running down her face." she went on. Keiichi blinked up at her as she picked up a pack of cigarettes from the end table nearby.. At which point she started screaming like a woman being murdered.Yeah. She seemed to notice. "To give you everything you've ever wanted. Keiichi didn't seem to believe her. Sitri smiled and approached him. crying about how the young man had tried to force himself on her. anyway. All of this occurred out of Keiichi's sight. of course.. the moment she arrived. orange flame to her fingers. and unfortunately. lighting it for him.. if it made Keiichi happy with her. just yet. Keiichi san?" she whispered. using a little urchin of a daemon named Senbei to systematically dismantle the young woman's looks. He was now registered as a sex offender and required to inform everyone in his neighborhood that he was indicted for attempted rape." she went on. "Do I make you happy. She gently placed one of his cancer sticks in his mouth and caressed his cheek. Still. but Megumi was going to be difficult. She moved it to the end of the cigarette. When security kicked the door in..

she locked her lips over his and breathed the smoke into him. then we shall eat at Megumi's.. It was hard to find something to suit the Norn's taste." She broke off as Megumi's words caught up to her brain. "To make sure you enjoy life to the fullest. happy that she could do something to bring them together. "Kei chan and Sitri are here!" "Okay. she gently plucked the cigarette from his lips and put it to hers. taking a long drag. she found the boy looking almost hypnotized by her words and actions. No." 888 Belldandy laid out the last plate and admired her handiwork. She rushed back to her room and looked through the clothes Megumi had loaned her. to hopefully bring some measure of harmony to their relationship.. "Belldandy?" "Hai!" she called back." Reaching up. Megumi's fashion sense centered around jeans and t-shirts. Parting. "I am yours.. "And if you want to eat at Megumi's. Sitri? she thought. her eyes not leaving the garments as she moved from one hanger to another. with a relaxing dinner.. Megumi san and Kei sama's girlfriend could break the ice and talk about their issues.. Hopefully.cigarette. I'll be ri.. She heard the woman's voice call out from the living room as she searched the closet. Leaning down. All that was left was for her to change into something more appropriate and everything would be set. She smiled." she whispered. Surely it's some coincidence. .

all gods and goddesses had." she heard Kei sama greet. She felt her skin growing colder. Kei chan... But she did find it odd that a mortal would name their daughter for such a gruesome woman. it's so nice to see you!" Belldandy froze. Belldandy pressed herself against the wall near the door and carefully edged her head into the hall. That voice! Then she felt it.. "Hey. She saw Kei sama standing there with Megumi.. "Sitri. like the Norn's sister." "Megumi. Sitri was something of an urban legend in Heaven.Although it was not a common name. No. her blood going cold. The Norn started to hyperventilate." she replied. that same feeling of dread that preceded the demoness's appearance last time.. Megumi. No. and she just managed to pull her head back as Sitri turned hers toward the goddess.. She was here. Some even said she was. a daughter of Hild. Then a moment later with just the slightest bit of frost in her tone. though no one could confirm it. surely not. How? How could that demoness be here? And as one of Kei sama's loved ones? It didn't make sense. Then the woman in the red dress appeared. real or imagined. .. supposedly a demon of incredible power. "Hey. That voice.. Belldandy had heard it before. She heard the front door open and close.

" "Well. She stopped at the door and knocked.. searching for an escape. . Keiichi Morisato sama! Belldandy shut her eyes and silently admonished herself. but the closest mirror was in the bathroom down the hall. "She's in her room. Keiichi tells me this new roommate of yours can cook. she would simply have to. I can't wait to meet her. "Hello?" she called. "Definitely the best I've ever tasted. The goddess heard the approaching footsteps." Sitri replied. If she had a chance of undermining her in Keiichi's eyes. leave.." "I'll go." Sitri offered sweetly. This mortal girl had apparently impressed her Keiichi. Destiny had placed her within arm's length of the mortal she had been sent to meet... opening the door a crack and peering inside. and she had totally missed it! "She's great. If she was no threat to her. "I still want to meet her. Keiichi? her mind screamed." Megumi said confidently. and she wanted to size her up in private." Sitri said with just a hint of disapproval. as if the assertion somehow undercut her own cooking skills. 888 Sitri left the siblings in the living room and approached the new girl's room. and her eyes went to the window. A mirror! I need to find a mirror! She cast her eyes about the room." Megumi said. all would be well. but there was no answer." Oh no! Belldandy thought."So. "I'll go get her.

"First End" was written by Yumi Touma. tears in her eyes. "Hey. "Did you find Belldandy?" Sitri smiled a cat-like grin.The room was empty. Second Dawn Chapter 4 Belldandy's Unlikely Escape Belldandy ran. silently berating herself the entire time for cowardice. Her head turned to the right and found a familiar blue dress wrapped in cellophane hanging in the closet. ." TO BE CONTINUED.. and she reached out and touched the garment. Sitri took a few steps inside and looked about.. Disclaimer: AMG is not mine. Keiichi poked his head around the corner." he said." she whispered. the curtains blowing gently in the breeze from outside. the goddess fled from Megumi's apartment as fast as she could. "The Man Comes Around" was written by Johnny Cash.. Hopping from light pole to light pole.. "Hai. fingering the dress. her heart stopped in her chest. For a moment. The window on the far side of the room was open. "I did.

"I'll show you. But now she needed help. "Maybe." she said with a bright smile. A young woman in a white. button-down shirt bowed as she entered and offered her a menu. she hopped down onto the sidewalk and rushed to the door. . Stay? Fight the Duchess of Malebolge right there? Turn the apartment into a battleground? Was there any other option where that wouldn't have happened? Was there any option that didn't end with Sitri using those two mortals to force me to surrender? She hated herself for leaving. And what was the option? it asked. genuinely puzzled by her new roommate's bizarre escape.You left them there! her mind screamed accusingly at her." 888 "I wonder where she went. "Welcome to The Wharf. the more rational side of her came to her defense. she looked down and found a public eatery near the docks." the girl said. Hearing music nearby. Keiichi scratched the back of his head as they re-entered the kitchen." Belldandy said quickly as she bowed. She needed a phone. but at the same time knew that it was the only thing that could be done. You left them with that demon! How could you? Before she could succumb to the angry voice in her head." Megumi said. Maybe she wanted to give us some privacy?" he ventured. "How many?" "I need a phone. Thinking there might be a phone she could use. "There's one in the back...

but the girl was definitely weird. "Hai!" she replied. unable to even cry out for help as she squeezed. What a weird way to start the evening. leaving a vaguely perplexed Keiichi and Megumi alone. you know. unable to breathe a coherent answer.." Megumi agreed. but didn't sit down. His hands clutched at hers as he tried to pry the demon off of him. we shouldn't let the dinner she made go to waste. there's a door..."Maybe. watching the demon since Belldandy's narrow escape. "It just seems so odd that she would run out like that. 'hey. was caught unawares as the Duchess channeled power into her hand to bring him into phase with the mortal plane." She turned and started down the hall toward the bathroom. Without facing him. "Sitri? You okay?" She turned and smiled brightly. regretting even having to say it. I'm going to see a movie.. Sitri continued to examine her face in the mirror as the Earth Spirit fought.. pulling a chair out for Sitri." Megumi relented. ." "Yeah. she asked. "Well.." Keiichi said. The Earth Spirit. "If you'll excuse me.'" The boy sighed. All she had to say was. The demon smiled. Entering the bathroom. He turned to Sitri and found his girlfriend lost in thought. "But. "Where is she?" The Earth Spirit croaked out. I'm going to powder my nose first. she shut the door and checked herself over in the mirror before almost casually reaching out to her right and closing her fingers around someone's throat. She liked Belldandy.

But if Belldandy had been here. perhaps even spoke to him.The demoness finally looked at him and smiled. "Oh. who thrashed on the floor but was unable to cry out for help. Frowning. had known about the Earth Spirit trapped in Megumi's apartment since the moment she walked into it the week Keiichi's sister arrived. you will tell me where the goddess bitch went!" . "And you repay my kindness with this defiance?" She shocked the Earth Spirit again. and Keiichi's voice floated in. his hands still clutching at hers as he tried to get away. but not letting him go. She. "If you love life. "I will have your skin hanging from my wall before sun-up tomorrow!" There was a knock at the door. "Where do you get the courage to defy me!?" She squeezed harder and channeled painful. relaxing her grip so the spirit could summon breath. "Now where is Belldandy? Where did she go?" "I would never tell you such a thing!" he replied. "Sitri? Are you okay? I heard some weird noises. Keiichi san!" she sang happily. my apologies." she said. "Just making myself beautiful for you. dark energy into the Earth Spirit. of course. she didn't feel any particular need to tell Megumi about her unwelcome guest. "You defy me?" she hissed quietly." The demon smiled and called over her shoulder. "I allowed you to live thus far out of the generous nature of my heart!" she hissed. She turned back to the Earth Spirit and her smile vanished. and it looked like that bet had paid off.. Sitri sighed. so much the better. Of course. and if it helped drive the mortal girl away. Sitri forced the spirit to the ground. then she must have learned of his presence as well.. his voice hoarse.

which meant she was either calling Heaven for help or was fleeing back there as fast as her little. leaving no trace behind. She would have to be on guard.The Earth Spirit coughed in reply. Which meant that although they had met. Time to get back to work. This wasn't as bad as it seemed. but she and Keiichi had met. Then. Sitri could grieve alongside her Keiichi and seem totally believable. "I will not. they were not aware of one another's significance. One: Keiichi didn't know Belldandy was a goddess. she could expect Heaven to respond in some way and soon. 888 The restaurant was crowded. the exact event Hild had worked so hard to prevent. Lady. Sitri snarled and reversed the flow of energy in her hand. She dialed in the . If she had told him. this also meant she had to move quickly to cement her hold on Keiichi. and the music was loud. Sitri took a breath. This would both please her mortal boyfriend and at the same time.. a few months from now. making it hard for Belldandy to hear the pay phone's dial tone until she punched the volume button three times. he would have mentioned the fact to Sitri in order to either try to confirm it or to see if they knew one another. She decided to start by mending fences with Megumi.. even though he wanted to hide her "goddesshood" from other mortals. white wings would carry her. when Megumi meets with a senseless and horrifying motorcycle accident that takes her life. Of course. she took light in. After all.. Her mother was not going to like this. The demon spat a hateful breath before rising to her full height.. betray.. She flushed the toilet and stepped out of the bathroom. pacify the younger Morisato. Two: Belldandy now knew who Sitri was. Instead of pouring darkness into the spirit. there was no sense in hiding it from other goddesses. she could deduce two key facts. Belldandy!" he gasped out. Either way. Not only had Belldandy escaped from right under her nose.. draining the deity of his power until his life force faded into nothingness. Using logic. perhaps.

"Are you all right? What's wrong?" The goddess's eyes went to the door again. what could happen to her." she said quickly. "Belldandy. was starting to frighten her. "Where are you now? Are you safe?" "H. In her flight from Megumi's.... "She is HERE!" Tears were running down the goddess's face now. "All right." Freya told her. she was starting to despair. her eyes constantly going to the door as if Sitri would burst through any moment." However. trying to speak in a soothing voice for her goddess." "HERE!" Belldandy cried." "Sitri?" The barest hint of disbelief entered Freya's voice.Hai. "Belldandy?" The elder goddess must have heard the fear in her voice because her next question was. Belldandy. very few included the word "survivors. "Sitri is here. I understand. there was a click. this is Freya. She swallowed. Of all the stories she had heard about the Duchess of Malebolge. very. not really wanting to say the woman's name lest it somehow summon her. I think so. In the few minutes since she entered The Wharf. By the third ring. she hadn't had time to think about her situation.one-hundred-forty-three digit number to reach the Help Line's main office in record time and fidgeted as she waited. "I'm on Earth.. "Ms. giving the restaurant another look. that had changed. ." her boss said." Belldandy said. She's looking for me. Tears of relief sprang to her eyes. and the full impact of what was happening. Freya! It's Belldandy!" the goddess cried into the receiver. nearly all of them included "victims.." Finally. are you sure? Sitri is. "Goddess Help Line.

"Thank you.. Almighty.. I. I'm going to call Commander Lind. Stay there.. "Urd. to prove to herself she wasn't alone. and... Her sister's voice helped.. Belldandy hung up and choked back a sob. I. I just. Five minutes..."Good." "Belldandy? Belldandy? Is that you?" "Hai! Urd....." "What's the matter? Are you okay?" Belldandy swallowed and tried to regain her composure. "Hai." With that.. Five minutes from now." Belldandy whispered. I just needed to hear a friendly voice." she answered. "Urd. This is Urd. I want you to call me back in exactly five minutes. it's me.. "In a little restaurant in Nekomi. I'm afraid.. There's a demon here. She needed to talk to someone." "What's wrong? Belldandy." her sister's voice came over the line. I'm in trouble. the line went dead..." She shut her eyes.." "All right. "NOSC.. Picking up the phone again.... it might as well be five years.." .. Do you understand?" "Hai. where are you?" "I'm on Earth. she dialed another long series of numbers and waited.

"Urd. If Lind said she was on the right track." Belldandy answered. Though nearly devoid of emotion. By the end. "Belldandy. you did the right thing. or are you the only customer?" "It's crowded. . Valkyries were experts." she said. "Are there people. When it came to dangerous situations." "Belldandy. This time. measured voice came through. I want you to tell her everything you know." The goddess closed her eyes and took a breath before telling her every detail of her trip to Earth." Freya said in relief. the phone only rang once before the Help Line's director picked up. "Belldandy?" "Hai." "Belldandy! Wait! Where are you?" Belldandy hung up and redialed Freya's number. ending with her phone call to Freya. taking a quick look around as if to reassure herself of her answer. "I have Lind on the line. then she was. a public place?" "Hai. I have to go." Lind's calm. "You said you were in a restaurant.Her eyes found the clock on the wall and realized that she only had twenty seconds left. Belldandy took comfort from it. tears were running down her face.

remember what I said." "Belldandy. "Do what Commander Lind says. but it will take time for them to assemble. There wasn't an immediate answer.. That means she won't strike if it means exposing herself. When Freya finally spoke again. Run. Don't go anywhere by yourself. where that young woman told you to go. "When they arrive. Do you understand me perfectly? Do not attempt to fight her off yourself.. Sitri's mission appears to be one of subterfuge. I'm ordering a strike team to your location." she said again. don't engage her." Freya said with concern." Belldandy breathed." Lind went on. "Hai!" "Good. In the meantime. "All right?" "Hai. Can you do that?" The Norn gathered her courage. you should be safe. As long as you're in a public place. "Listen to Commander Lind." Lind said. I need you to take them to Sitri's lair. "Now I want you to listen to me very carefully. Stay there! If."Good. "Hai. it's me again. Do you understand?" "Hai. okay? Don't risk yourself. "Good." ." "What about Keiichi Morisato sama and Megumi san?" Belldandy asked. If she arrives there." Belldandy nodded even though Lind couldn't see her. Don't go anywhere alone." "I want you to call back every twenty minutes so we know you're okay. From what you've said. it was with a nonanswer. Stay there.

Belldandy. "Before we begin." The demon bit her lip demurely and hesitated for a moment." she said." she said with just the barest hint of a sniffle. she bit her lip and set about waiting. "I didn't mean to make you wait. and Belldandy was alone again in the crowded room. 888 Sitri re-entered the kitchen and smiled. Megumi looked less than pleased. preventing the siblings from eating once again. Finally. unaware of the silver-tressed woman approaching from behind her... What?" Even Keiichi looked shocked at his girlfriend's behavior. Megumi looked as if a Lagoon Creature had burst into her kitchen." There was a click. Megumi san. Swallowing. Good luck." She put enough trepidation and nervousness in her voice to pique their interest. "Twenty minutes. she searched the dining room for a place to sit and sat down at a small table near the phone. Megumi shrugged. she dropped to her knees in front of Megumi and lowered her head to the ground." Sitri said. Hanging up. but Sitri expected that. I'd like to say something." "Okay. "I'd. "Forgive me." "It's okay. "Shoot."Hai." Keiichi said with a smile..." Freya said quietly. "Um. to the surprise of both Morisatos. "I'm sorry. .

. "I have been jealous of you. I love Keiichi san.." She paused and looked up at Megumi. He said something that gave me pause. He said the two most important women in his life couldn't be in the same room together.. unsure of what to expect at this point." Her head hit the floor again. pulling her up so that she could face her. "Oh?" she asked noncommittedly.." she said formally." Her face hidden by her bow. and I did not realize why until today. Megumi blinked. "I beg your forgiveness. "Hai... You knew him as a child.Sitri didn't look up from the black and white linoleum. I had no idea.. and it had the desired effect. but you.. I have not been kind to you. I. "I. It was then that I realized why I have been acting the way I have. have seen parts of his life I never can. and that made me jealous...... "Before coming here. No matter how large a role I play in his life. Keiichi san told me why we were coming to dinner here. you will have always been there first." The younger Morisato cleared her throat.. stunned by the apology and the revelations." "Jealous?" Megumi asked in disbelief.. The younger Morisato knelt next to her and took the demon's hands. "Hai!" Sitri responded forcefully. "So please forgive me! Our relationship should not be adversarial! You are no rival! You are his sister.. I. "Sitri san. I want very much to be the most important woman in his life..." Sitri replied softly. "You see.. I hope you will be mine!" It was the stuff Oscars were made of. and one day.. Sitri smiled. . you and he have a bond that I can never know or be a part of.

"I'm sorry too," Megumi said. "Maybe... Maybe I was just so used to... protecting... Kei chan that I... that I... I don't know... Maybe I set the bar so high that no woman in his life would ever be acceptable to me and..."

"But that is your role!" Sitri argued, summoning tears to her eyes. "To protect him from women with... less than pure intentions..."

"Yeah, but... He loves you... so..." Megumi cleared her throat. "I should have made more of an effort."

Sitting nearby, Keiichi beamed. Seeing his smile, Sitri grinned...

But for very different reasons.

888

Belldandy nearly jumped ten feet in the air when she felt the hand come down on her shoulder. When she saw who it was, she leapt up again and hugged the woman.

"Neesan!" she cried.

"Belldandy! Are you okay?" the elder Norn asked, frank concern in her eyes.

"Hai," Belldandy said. "But... how did you find me?"

"Yggdrasil," Urd told her, sitting down opposite her sister. "As soon as you hung up, I zeroed in on you and came down to help."

"Without permission?" Belldandy asked with a blink. "You could get into serious trouble, Neesan!"

Urd waved the thought aside. "Don't worry! I left the squirt in charge."

"Skuld is in charge of Yggdrasil operations?"

"Don't worry," Urd said. "What can go wrong? Now tell me what's happening."

For the second time that night, Belldandy told the whole story. By the time she finished, Urd had a troubled look on her face.

"This doesn't make any sense," she breathed.

"Hai," Belldandy agreed sadly.

"I mean... have you ever heard of this boy before?" she asked.

The younger goddess shook her head. "All I know is that he's to receive a wish! But many receive wishes without incurring attention from the Demon Realm!"

"And why send her?" Urd asked. "It's so... so unlike Hild," she went on.

"Did you... ever meet her?" Belldandy asked, aware she was entering sensitive territory with her half-sister.

Urd shook her head, staring off into space. "No... I don't even know if we're actually related. But even if we aren't, everything I've heard about her tells me she's special. That's why you don't see her outside of Hell. Hild saves her for... 'special occasions.' So what's so special about Keiichi Morisato?"

"He's..." Belldandy broke off. Urd waited for her to continue. "He's a good man," she finished.

"That doesn't tell me anything," Urd growled with an arched eyebrow.

"I don't know, Neesan," Belldandy continued. "But I know he doesn't deserve whatever she has planned for him." She stood up. "I have to help him."

"No, you don't," Urd said. "You have to wait for the Valkyries to get here. Then you have to help him."

Belldandy, looking miserable and deflated by her sister's words, sat down again.

"In the meantime, I'm going to do some snooping," Urd declared. "As soon as the Valks get here and I know you're safe with them, I'm going to do an Yggdrasil search on Keiichi Morisato and find out what could possibly have put him in Hild's crosshairs. Something stinks here, Sis."

"Neesan," Belldandy whispered, "It is a seafood restaurant..."

Urd sighed. "Now that's the Belldandy I know and love." She smiled.

"Belldandy?"

They looked up as four women in grey cloaks approached them. The leader of the group, a shorter woman with closely cropped red hair, addressed them again.

"Belldandy?" she asked.

"Hai?"

"I am Bellona," the woman told her. "We were ordered to meet with you here so that you might guide us to the lair of the Duchess of Malebolge."

"You're Valkyries?" Belldandy asked in happy relief.

Bellona nodded. "Please, we should leave quickly. There is much to be done before we can move."

Belldandy rose to her feet and nodded. "I understand." She turned to Urd, who cut her off before she could say anything.

"I'm going to find out whatever I can about this guy," she said. "I'll find a way to contact you when I know more."

The Norn nodded. "And Neesan," she said. "Thank you."

Urd smiled. "Hey, what are sisters for?"

888

It was after ten p.m. when Keiichi and Sitri returned to their little house. Turning the lights on and tossing his keys on the table near the love seat, Keiichi stretched and yawned.

"Not a bad dinner," he remarked. "I mean... it wasn't yours, but..."

Sitri smiled. After her little performance, the rest of the night had gone wonderfully. Megumi practically fell all over herself to make the demon feel welcome. Now that that relationship was patched up, it was time to move onto cementing hers with Keiichi.

He faced her and smiled. "Thank you, Sitri," he said. "For making the effort. It means a lot to me."

"I am your goddess, Keiichi san," she said with an impish grin. "I would do anything for you."

wishes?" he stammered. His heart started to beat faster in his chest as this beautiful woman made her intentions known.. a blush that only intensified as she stepped toward him. "I have granted one of your wishes this evening. And suddenly. Her body felt warm against his. Her face appeared behind his eyelids. placing her fingers to his cheek. leaning into him.. as if to prevent him from getting up. I.." she whispered. . hearing her gasp against his lips as he did so. "Keiichi san....." He felt her press her hands harder against his chest." she said quietly. "Sitri?" he whispered." His heart jumped into his throat. "Um. "One of." she whispered. "Keiichi san. um. "Hai. almost feverish. Keiichi closed his eyes as the otherworldly woman kissed him thoroughly. with the most disappointed look of sadness he had ever seen.. I want to know.. your.. "I want to know how mortals make love." She leaned down and planted her lips firmly on his.. He reached up to wrap his arms around her. Show me....She put enough innuendo into the statement to make the boy blush. He swallowed as he suddenly found himself sitting on the love seat with his goddess pushing him against the arm rest. I want you to love me the way other men love their girlfriends.... Will you grant one of mine?" He cleared his throat.. Sitri. "Keiichi san.

" "It'll just be for a few days... romantic place!" "Um. . Smiling broadly. "Am I.." Sitri said.. "Well. straddling his legs. "It's just.. Stealing his innocence and his virginity would be a fantastic follow-up. genuinely confused. only half meaning it....... genuinely liking this idea.. but even he knew that the words. "Hai!" She leaned down and stared into his eyes. Getting him away from the only place Belldandy knew where to find him was a good start." were the absolute wrong ones to say in this instance. He bit his lip and tried to think of something to say that wouldn't end with a fight. she clasped her hands together." he said.." he began. "I was just thinking about another girl I know. "Is something wrong?" she asked. Am I doing it wrong?" she asked innocently." she purred.. yeah?" he asked.." "But. I want this to be special. "And I think I know just the place. "Hai. Sitri took it and ran.Belldandy san? Sitri felt the change in him and sat up. I have class.... Keiichi wasn't that experienced with women. "We should get away! Go somewhere where we can be alone! A secluded. it is?" he asked. "Keiichi san! What a wonderful idea!" "Um. I just.

she had research to do. "Oh. ran headlong into the goddess walking out. Of course I do!" "Good!" she replied." she said quickly. the demon dashed into her bedroom to pack.. "Don't you want to be with me?" "Yeah! Of. The automatic door opened just as she approached but.. Some time in the big chair up at the NOSC would do Skuld some good. While her sister was up on the top floor of the Yggdrasil Operations Center. "Oh! I'm sorry!" Urd said. practically the cellar. 888 "Urd! That's a bunch of crap! I'm dying up here! You better get back up here before I tell on y.. clapping." . Turning. "No problem." A flash of recognition flew over the other goddess's face.. the research archives occupied the third floor." "Keiichi san.. "We'll leave tomorrow! Bright and early!" With that." The eldest Norn hung up the third floor courtesy phone and grinned at the act. not realizing it wasn't opening for her. she headed for the research interface lab. In the meantime."But.. leaving Keiichi in the living room to wonder what had happened. "Didn't seeya there." she said with a noticeable droop of disappointment.

over the course of millenia you got to know the face of just about every goddess in Heaven. KEIICHI MORISATO She blinked in surprise as the autocomplete function offered her the exact name she was looking for." Urd said... aren't you?" "Yeah. she started to type. Bringing up the search bar. Despite Belldandy's best efforts to help her fit in. pushing past the Dawn. Goddess and legend both." Aurora replied carefully. Though they had never actually spoken. Aurora walked down the hall away from her..E. taking a seat in the interface's lone terminal. "Well. but Urd recognized the goddess.. right?" Urd asked. As if silently agreeing to go their separate ways. and while her hair was now a midnight black to correspond with the time of night... Urd never really got along with too many other goddesses and as such had developed something of a reputation. Urd gave a quiet sigh and entered the lab.. . Someone else had been searching for information on Morisato. "You're Urd. "Yes. "Aurora.It took a moment. that's me. Excuse me." Urd frowned.. K. Urd knew the face of the goddess of the dawn. Aurora seemed very uncomfortable around her and figured it was her heritage.

"I want to know why!" .Urd brought up the search history and found the list of every search made on the terminal in the last five days. but with time a factor. Normally. but she wasn't going to find out unless she asked. goddesses twittered to one another. Aurora made no sign that she heard. At the last second. "Wha. "What do you want with Keiichi Morisato!" she demanded. she looked over the railing that overlooked the operations center's lobby two stories below. she put on the brakes but still hit the ground harder than she would have liked. but she didn't have to look nearly that far. KEIICHI MORISATO – FOUR MINUTES AGO Urd leapt out of her seat and ran to do the door.. Grabbing hold of the safety railing. All around them." Urd grabbed her by the front of her crimson robes. and Urd was sure they were already getting the latest "did you hear what Urd did?" rumor started. she leapt over it and toward the Dawn. She found the goddess typing into a Blackberry near the entrance. put her right next to the startled goddess. "HEY!" she cried. forcing Urd to take more drastic steps. She didn't care. however.. It had to be Aurora! Why the goddess of the dawn was searching for information on Keiichi Morisato was beyond her. Rushing out of the lab. It did. "You were just doing a search on Keiichi Morisato!" she said accusingly. She gave Aurora a shake. a goddess would slow her fall. Urd let gravity do its job and allowed it to pull her headlong to the ground. Her sister was in trouble and she didn't have the time to deal with the cackling bimbos just now. pointing at the goddess.

" Urd replied shiftily. "Kinda-sorta. she muttered just loud enough for Urd to hear." "A demon? Involved with Morisato?" Aurora gasped. Aurora grabbed her hands and pulled her toward the exit. "She's Keiichi Morisato's girlfriend. blinking.. "How did you know I meant Belldandy?" Urd asked with narrowed eyes. biting her lip." "What?" "Do you know where Belldandy is now?" Aurora asked. "And is none of your concern!" "It concerns me when my sister is being attacked because of him!" Urd growled. "My research is my own!" she argued.Aurora pulled away from Urd and straightened her robe.. dialing back the rage a bit in exchange for some real answers. "Then it is already as Oracle feared. Turning away. "Who is attacking Belldandy?" "A demon named Sitri. "You must come with me! We must bring this to my sister!" "Wait! What?" 888 ." Urd said. "Don't get snippy!" Aurora chastised. "Belldandy is being attacked?" Aurora asked.

With luck. catch the demon unawares and seal her. She looked up at the sky and nodded. We'll have to move quickly if we hope to take the demon by surprise. "Are you sure?" The Norn went back through Hasegawa's directions step by step. which led her right to this house." she said." Bellona remarked uncertainly as she turned back to view the house again. Finding the park again had been easy. she turned to Belldandy skeptically. "Yes. "But what about Keiichi Morisato sama!" she asked." "Hmm." "What will you do?" Belldandy asked. "We will attack. Once she had done that she simply continued following what the young college student had told her. searching for threats or sentries. it will take only a few moments. Finding none. but when you attack he could be injured!" . "It will be light soon. "Hai. "I think that is it. "We will storm the house." A horrified thought struck Belldandy.Standing on the roof of an apartment building near the park where Sitri first attacked her. Belldandy pointed at a small house nearby. "He lives in this house as well!" "The demon is as much a danger to him as anyone else. She nodded. Bellona knelt near the edge of the rooftop and examined the house critically." Bellona told her as casually as if she announced her intention to go to the store and buy eggs." Bellona said.

just a bit skeptically as visions of rustic hunting lodges with no heat floated into his head. "Rising to her full height. secluded mountain cabin in Hokkaido." "A cabin?" he asked. impossibly happy. "I still don't have any clue what you're planning.The Valkyrie fixed an irritated glare on the Norn. "We'll try not to bruise him while we save his life." she bit out." Bellona told her. She watched nervously as the four Valkyries leapt over the side of the building and toward the danger waiting for them below. "I have everything taken care of. out of danger." she purred in his ear. "I'm so excited." she said." "Oh yeah?" he asked. "Hai. Just you and me and not another soul for a hundred miles. but wouldn't budge on where they were going so early. "Just a nice. you will remain here. she addressed the other three war goddesses." She saw Belldandy's concerned look and sighed." "Oh. "Belldandy. She smiled and hummed to herself as she made him breakfast." she agreed. seal the demon and get back out. nothing special. There's a noncombatant inside. "And watch what you shoot at. "We move quickly. Sitri had roused him early. . Storm the door. Questions?" There were none. She kissed him on the cheek as she put a pancake on his plate. 888 Keiichi yawned as he poured himself another cup of coffee.

. holding a hand up. This time. wondering if this was part of Sitri's presentation. When she did speak.. "Are you packed?" "Yeah.. had different visions. "I thought you'd say so. She said nothing for a moment. often had a flair for the dramatic. he found... "I just need to strap my bag to the Beemer and we can." he said." she said. "'The wise man will bow down before the thorns. "Sitri?" he asked." She broke off and whispered more into his ear. the boy found a green. .. staring at the door. "Hai. an almost irritated look appeared on her face... The demon grinned. "Demons.. "A roaring fire. "That. standing up from the table. really nice cabin. a bottle of wine. crystal wall between him and his girlfriend. Keiichi blinked. it was in a haunting whisper. she held a glowing hand up to him. her gaze going to the front door. and with a flash of light. "'And the father hen will call his chickens home..Sitri." "Shh!" Sitri said suddenly.. That sounds like a." she hissed. what?" Her eyes narrowed. "Demons? You mean like." she said softly... a cozy bear rug on the floor where we can. devils? Mazoku?" Without facing him.. however. and at his feet they will cast the golden crowns. however..'" she said. causing the boy to blush furiously.'" "Um. The goddess." he finished..

he found that it wasn't a wall."Hey!" he cried. nearly deafening her. not in bed. putting his hands against it. There was nothing for several moments and then. perturbed at finding the demon." she said. her eyes turning red. sending one of Bellona's Valkyries out with it! The report of demonic blasts and magic spells roared up to her hiding place on the apartment roof. "I will not allow the trash of the underworld to harm Keiichi san!" 888 Belldandy licked her lips nervously as she watched the four Valkyries dart into the house below. . and she heard Bellona calling out to her Valkyries. The wind whipping across the roof made it very difficult to hear anything. but awake and facing them. She jumped in her skin as an explosion knocked out one corner of the house. Bellona raised a gladius to her.. taking up positions in a semi-circle around her. but a four-sided crystal encasing him. and four cloaked figures rushed in." "Huh?" Sitri turned as their front door exploded outward. Keiichi san. as if the door were pulled off its hinges by a giant. Looking around. but she could catch bits and pieces floating on the wind if she strained hard enough. "Surrender!" the Valkyrie demanded. "Fear not. "Sitri!" She turned to him and smiled gently. "And submit to sealing!" Sitri grinned. "I'll protect you from them.. There was another explosion.

Sitri."PULL BACK! PULL BACK!" Belldandy covered her mouth with her hands. reveling in the act of inflicting pain on others. flying over her and diving down toward the house. whose back struck the wall. stepping toward the war goddess. Sitri grinned. the wound in her knee enough to cripple a regular god and still good enough to cause her untold pain. The Valkyries were being slaughtered! She knew she had to help them. She limped backwards. horrified by the feelings of fear and agony she was sensing! She heard a new sound and looked up to find thousands of flying creatures. Gathering her courage. blocking her escape. "'And I looked and behold! A pale horse!'" Bellona raised her gladius but suddenly found silver strands of light wrapped around her wrist and throat. "'And the name who sat on him was Death!'" . Another explosion pulled her gaze back to the house. struck the living shield of bats that Sitri had summoned around her. crows and bats. From behind her shield. midnight black. she leapt over the side of the building and floated as quickly as she could toward the house. "'And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts!'" She recited. laughed cruelly as before singing to the Valkyrie. paralyzing and weakening her. 888 Bellona watched as two energy blasts from her outstretched hand. killing two of the creatures but leaving the demon unscathed.

"Sitri! What's going on? Are you all right?" "He's so sweet. Sitri sighed happily and allowed the bats and crows to leave.She croaked in miserable realization as the bats parted before her and she found the demoness's cruel grin laughing at her. "Sitri?" she heard her soon-to-be-lover calling from his prison in the other room.. green crystal stood at the end of the hall. Sitri shrugged to her." Sitri noted to Bellona's body." 888 Belldandy rushed through the hole in the wall where the door used to be. hoping she was in time to be of some help. It took her a moment before she realized there was something moving inside the crystal.. "Belldandy san?" he cried back. "Not that you care now. Standing over the Valkyrie's defeated form. splattered with blood and feathers from where energy spells had struck crows protecting the demon.. followed by a cloak of darkness that fell over her like a cold winter's night. Two of the Valkyries were lying on the floor in unnatural and painful looking positions. Realizing that the Valkyrie wasn't going to answer. ..'" The Valkyrie saw spots appear before her eyes. "Keiichi Morisato sama!" she gasped. and gasped at the carnage before her. Through the blood. she could just make out the face. "'And Hell followed with him. A large. his voice muffled by the thick green wall between them.

"Yes. She laughed at the Norn cruelly." She punctuated this by squeezing the Norn's throat harder. "Oh no. but Sitri snagged her wrist with her other hand and pinned it to the floor next to the goddess's head." Sitri said as she regarded the ring. "We won't be doing that again. . "To take something so precious from one who doesn't even realize it was hers to begin with." she hissed. but suddenly felt something grab her throat and pull her into another room. "Very pretty. her eyes tearing up in pain." Belldandy's eyes could see the far wall and could see the first wisps of sunlight coming through the window. a human figure. "Sitri?" she heard Keiichi call. She blinked as the light traveled slowly up the wall. outlining a new shape. she managed to get a glimpse of the demoness a second before her back struck the living room floor! Without thinking. Belldandy didn't answer as she continued to struggle against the demon's grip. "Whoever gave it to you must have loved you very much. "I do hope you didn't break his heart the way I intend to break yours. hoping the trick that worked last time would save her again now. Belldandy whimpered." Her expression turned to one of amusement. "Belldandy san? Belldandy san. are you all right?" "Keiichi Morisato sama. "Is this the offending bauble?" she asked.She took a step toward him. Belldandy reached up with her left hand." Sitri said. harshly wrenching the Norn's wrist so she could get a better look at the ring. clucking in disapproval. Looking up." she whispered." She grinned and examined Belldandy's hand. To be trifled with by a goddess who has no idea with what she's involved herself. "In a way." Sitri noted. it's kind of sad." she said. "My Keiichi Morisato sama.

"To my sister's home on the Styx! I'll distract her!" Sitri. screamed and started to blast in every direction she could think of! Parts of the roof began to fall in as Belldandy rushed to the crystal. I might just let you see him..." "Dawn has come. "And when I'm done." Sitri continued to whisper." Belldandy noted quietly. She bent her head until her lips were nearly touching Belldandy's earlobe. "So?" "She means watch out behind you!" the demoness heard. "I'm going to take his virginity. . his soul!" she hissed into the goddess's ear. still blinded by Aurora's light. Sitri blinked. and the brightest light the demon had ever been subjected to burned into her eyes as if reaching for her mind. her hands flying to her eyes as she tried to rub her sight back into being. "But until then. unsure of what the sunrise had to do with this.. The goddess placed her hand on the green gem and saw a very confused mortal on the other side.Sitri didn't notice the figure taking shape nearby. giving form to the new arrival as it began to phase into this world. Turning quickly. "I will take everything good in him and twist it into something of my own! He will be my masterpiece!" The sunlight on the wall continued to rise. "Grab Morisato and get out of here!" the Dawn cried. his heart.. Sitri screamed. I'm going to have to seal you someplace dark and unpleasant. she saw a woman with a dark orange mane of hair swing a staff with a golden orb on one end right toward her face! The staff struck Sitri across the eyes. Aurora grabbed Belldandy's arm and pulled the Norn into the hall.

attacked every direction indiscriminately. "Belldandy san?" She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the bathroom. hoping that Aurora had already escaped. shattering it into a million pieces. Freed from his prison. "Quickly!" she urged. in her fury. "Wait! What's going on!" Keiichi demanded. She had to leave. Belldandy raised the boy into the air and launched him through the mirror like a sack of potatoes. The pane began to glow a bright blue.Sitri?" Keiichi whispered. Belldandy found the bathroom mirror and touched the silver glass. There wasn't time to wait anymore. Keiichi pressed against the far side of the crystal as Belldandy channeled power through her hand and into the prison. Hoisting herself onto the sink. hideous sound of impotent fury. "We must leave!" Another demonic blast struck the wall near them as Sitri. "Wait! What about Sitri!" Keiichi cried. Belldandy dived into the mirror just as the demon smashed through the far wall and raked her claws across it.. She felt the darkness of Sitri's soul approaching and decided she had no choice anymore. Keiichi blinked at her. a dark. Casting a quick levitation spell. Keiichi sama!" she cried."Stand away. . They turned as they heard a scream of fury from Sitri down the hall. cracking it open like an egg.. "S. The goddess gave a last look back.

and turning onto his back he found himself looking at his own image reflected in a mirror above. he raised his head and looked at the bright red blankets and pillows. down comforter and several pillows instead.Sitri howled in rage. "Weird. Collecting herself. who was staring up at her with an intense blush.. Turning. She gave a sigh of relief at seeing him safe. his arms going around her waist as she landed on top of him.. Instinctively.. "Mad World" is by Tears for Fears. Second Dawn Chapter 5 When a Woman Loves a Man Keiichi Morisato cried out as he reappeared and fell toward the ground only to hit a soft." he breathed. the mirror flashed a bright blue. TO BE CONTINUED. He's all right. relieved that the trans-dimensional trip hadn't harmed him. Disclaimer: AMG is not mine. Blinking. and a new figure emerged. I suppose I should get off him now. falling right on top of him with a cry of surprise. . he saw he was lying on a four poster bed that looked like it belonged in a love hotel. Keiichi reached out and tried to catch the new arrival. Suddenly. Belldandy leaned up and looked down at the boy. The posts themselves were golden statues of angels in enticing poses. she thought..

finding a blonde woman sitting in a chair nearby. "B. "Oracle san.. When Aurora told me about Sitri." "Would the two of you like some privacy?" They both blinked in surprise and turned quickly. Whenever you're ready.. Any time now." he said..." .. "Belldandy. his eyes not leaving hers.. "I feel like I've known you your entire life...." she said in greeting. I feared the worst.Yes. standing up and putting her knitting aside. I probably should.. and Belldandy climbed off the bed. I'm so glad you both made it. Belldandy san. "This is. She blinked as she realized she recognized the goddess.. The two quickly separated." Oracle finished.. Keiichi cleared his throat. Her eyes were cast downward at her hands as she expertly knitted a pair of stockings. bowing to the woman.. The other goddess looked up and smiled at her." "Keiichi Morisato." The Norn cleared her throat and gestured to the boy sitting on the bed. "Um..

" She broke off and waved for them to follow her. come with me. "It is in sleep that one's true face emerges. I hope one day to see myself sleeping. And as for what just happened. "You are in my home on the banks of the River Styx in a province of Heaven called Elysium. While she had not seen Keiichi sleep. hunting my sister with the intent to violently murder her if she catches her. "I keep forgetting. I'll explain what I can over tea and lemon cookies! Everything always sounds best with tea and lemon cookies!" Belldandy started to follow. Your girlfriend is most likely still in Nekomi. "I'm sorry!" she said quickly. "Please." the script-writer said. "Indeed. looked up at the gold posts and the mirror above him." Belldandy began." It was Belldandy's turn to be confused. She wondered what he saw and what he thought of it. "Woah!" he said.. where my girlfriend is and what the heck just happened back there!" Oracle considered his demands and cleared her throat. I'm not an unreasonable guy.." "See yourself?" Keiichi asked.." She turned to Belldandy. "I'm sorry. "Just a second!" Oracle and Belldandy turned back and looked at him quizzically." he said simply. yes. She gave Keiichi a look. but Keiichi held up a hand. I don't understand. unsure of what to say to such a comment. suddenly realizing that Oracle had it backward. "Now. Keiichi had seen her. "Nice place. I like the mirror. "You agree. And I'm not going anywhere until I know where I am. "I'm sure you've watched Morisato san sleep many a night. Oracle's face pinched in self reproach. Belldandy?" she asked.Keiichi. but I've just seen some very unreasonable things. Oracle smiled. "Thank you. young Belldandy here just saved you from a demon who . refusing to leave the safety of the bed..

"Okay. Sitri took a breath and sneered.." Keiichi just stared. but lost the bitch before her sight had fully returned. After losing Belldandy. This time it only took a moment before Hild's eye appeared in the glass shard. She had turned her powers toward putting up the illusion that the house was still perfect from the outside. "Now then. she held it aloft and stared into it. a hiccup.. "Yes. and I kill four Valkyries. it was a wreck. "What kind of 'hiccup?'" she asked. his mind unable to come to grips with what had just been said. She didn't want people snooping around.. "Mother." .had just butchered four Valkyries and would have butchered her if my sister had not arrived in time to save her. tea? Cookies?" She turned and started for the door again." Sitri confessed casually. she had gone after the Dawn.. The boy stared after her numbly. Hild was silent for several moments. Oracle smiled. "The kind of hiccup where my Keiichi and Belldandy meet. 888 Sitri stood in the shattered remains of the house she had shared with Keiichi. "There's been." she called in bitter resignation. she takes him to who-knows-where. Sweetie?" she asked. On the inside though. Picking one up. She entered the bathroom and looked at the shards of mirror that lay at the bottom of the sink." he said.

. Sitri was breathing hard. her rage taking a toll on her body and composure. AND I WILL HAVE HIM! DO YOU HEAR ME! I WILL FIND HIM! I WILL BRING HIM BACK! I WILL BREAK HIM! I WILL TWIST HIS SOUL! AND HE WILL LOVE ME FOR IT!" Hild said nothing.." Hild said." Hild said simply." Hild said simply. "We'll regroup."Ah. "I will find them! I will find them both! That boy is mine!" "Keiichi Morisato. "You told me not to kill Belldandy!" she retorted. "I will handle this! My way!" . "And I didn't!" "You think playing with semantics will dull my anger?" Hild growled." "No!" Sitri snapped. "You have failed.. "Because I seem to remember telling you NOT TO KILL ANYONE!" Sitri hissed like an enraged cobra. "I'm bringing you home. "HE IS MINE. come up with a new plan.. "Would that be why four of my demons just suddenly dropped dead not long ago?" "It's certainly possible. "I hope not." "The real game has not yet begun!" Sitri hissed back." "KEIICHI MORISATO IS MY BOYFRIEND!" Sitri screamed at her.." Sitri replied calmly as if they were discussing the weather. trying not to rile her obviously unstable daughter further..

"There's a plan here, Sitri," Hild growled. "An intricate, delicate plan that ends with Keiichi as my servant..."

"He belongs to me," Sitri bit out.

"You defy me?" Hild asked, ice in each syllable of the question.

"I defy you!" Sitri growled, squeezing the mirror shard so intensely that black blood seeped from the cuts in her palm. "You kept me in that hell! Prevented me from having a life of my own! Well I'm off my leash now, Mother, and I now know what I want! And what I want is that boy kissing my feet while I pull the skin from that goddess whore's bones!"

"Sitri..."

"Stay out of my way," the Duchess growled, breaking the shard against the bathroom sink, ending the conversation.

She ran her hands through her hair. Her best hope right now was to find the Dawn. Find her and rip her Keiichi's whereabouts from her mind.

Turning from the broken mirror, she returned to her work.

888

Leaving the room, the three turned right and started down the hall. Oracle's home was beautiful, the walls made of a blue-white marble that stretched upward to almost forever, ending with glass ceilings that let in the pale light from an unseen sun.

Keiichi was awestruck by it, his eyes following the lines of the architecture until they finally rested on the back of a woman standing in a doorway nearby. He felt his heart stop and relief rush into him.

"Sitri!" he cried out, racing forward. "Thank God! Sitri!"

The woman started to turn to him even as he grabbed her arm, bringing him up short. He felt his hopes deflate and he blushed in embarrassment as he realized he was wrong.

"I'm... I'm sorry," he said, mortified. "I...thought... You look like... someone else," he finished in a sad whisper.

Urd blinked at him. "Yeah, no problem," she said. She looked over his shoulder and smiled at the sight that met her. "Belldandy!"

"Neesan!" Belldandy cried, rushing up to her and hugging the elder Norn. "What are you doing here?"

"Who do you think gave Aurora your location?" Urd said with a shrug. "Speaking of which..." She glanced over to Oracle, who smiled reassuringly.

"I'm quite sure she's all right," Oracle told her. "After all, the sun has not crashed into the sea, so she must still live."

Belldandy turned to Keiichi, intent on introducing him to her sister and found the boy staring off into nothingness, obviously preoccupied by thoughts of his girlfriend. She turned sad, knowing that as awful as he felt now, he would soon feel worse as they explained the truth of the demon.

"I'm Urd," the elder goddess said, stepping forward. "Belldandy's big sister."

"Keiichi," he said in reply.

"So you're him, huh?" Urd said, sizing him up. "The Keiichi Morisato." She grinned. "You're a little shorter than I thought you'd be."

He looked up at her, swallowing back pain. Though the eyes were different and Urd lacked the purple streak in her hair, she looked very much like Sitri. He wondered if she was okay, who these people were. Were they being sincere? How could he know?

"Come," Oracle said. "Cookies. Tea. This way." She started down the hall again.

As they followed, Belldandy's gaze turned to the mortal, saw the hurt in his face. She turned away again, unable to bear it anymore.

The first thing Keiichi heard as they entered the expansive dining room was bubbling, incoherent babbling in a rapid language he didn't recognize. Walking around the long rectangular table, he soon found the source, a brown-haired woman sat in a high-back chair at one end of the table, her lips moving so rapidly, Keiichi could barely see them.

"Don't mind River," Oracle told him with a smile and a gentle touch to his arm. "She's not unfriendly, just very very busy." She turned and went to the next room to fetch some tea.

Keiichi turned back to the seated woman and saw her give a quick wave in greeting to him. Just a bit perturbed by the woman, he found a seat at the other end of the table, sitting down without realizing that he was sitting next to Belldandy.

Oracle reappeared and smiled as she poured tea for each of them before sitting down at the head of the table. "Now then," she began, "Welcome to Heaven," she told Keiichi. "First time?"

"Hopefully not the last time," he muttered. "Could somebody please tell me what's going on? One minute I'm getting ready to go on a trip to Hokkaido, the next I have strange people bursting through my front door and attacking my girlfriend. Then I'm stuck in some kind of... emerald... glass thing... and then Belldandy san throws me through a mirror and I'm drinking tea like all's right with the world." He looked at them with almost desperate eyes. "So somebody... I don't care who... please... tell me what's going on."

Oracle bit her lip and nodded, conceding that he had a legitimate complaint. "I must warn you, Morisato san... I will not be able to tell you everything. It's... not my place to... But here is what I can tell you. The women around you are goddesses. The woman you've been living with for the last two months is not."

Keiichi said nothing.

"She is a demon," the script writer went on. "The Duchess of Malebolge... a very... very... powerful entity." Oracle paused. "I do not know for sure why she wants you. But she does... and that's not the way it's supposed to be." She turned shifty, aware she was entering into areas she wasn't supposed to talk about. "She's... It's... It's supposed to be different... Do you understand?"

The boy said nothing. For several moments, the only sound in the room was River's rambling in the background.

"The people who attacked her in your home were Valkyries," Oracle went on. "War goddesses sent to seal her and protect you."

Keiichi, again, said nothing.

Aware she was running out of things she was allowed to say, Oracle added one more simple statement.

"She's evil."

The mortal stared at her. "You're lying," he whispered. He rose to his feet and continued to glare angrily at her. "I don't believe a word of it."

"Think about it," Urd said. "Surely there have been times when you must have thought that this isn't the way a goddess should be."

"So she has a temper," Keiichi said. "And yeah, there have been times when I've been caught off guard by her, but how do I know you're not the demons here? Huh?" He waited for one of them to answer. "Can you prove you are what you say you are? That she is what you say she is? For all I know, she's out there looking for me right now, and this is all part of some... God, I sound stupid even saying it... Some diabolical scheme or something! I don't know! All I know is that I've lived with her for two months! I've known you about

" she said suddenly. . I burned her arm. one of which she was unconscious for! So where's your proof?" Again. facing him. Keiichi sama. When he said nothing. The diamond in her ring twinkled at her. and she couldn't just recite Keiichi's destiny. the only sound in the room was River's fast-paced narrating. "She.. Urd looked to Oracle. During the fight I.. even if she did know it by heart. giving her the answer he was looking for. turning to her.. Keiichi stopped in his tracks. "I thought so." he whispered. "I burned her arm.five minutes and Belldandy about two days." he whispered. "You saw the bandage on her arm. He turned and started for the door. "She told you it was something else right? An accident or something? Why would she cover that up?" Keiichi didn't answer. Belldandy bit her lip and looked down at her hand.. He said nothing for several moments as his mind searched for a logical way for her to know that without her having told the truth.. She was the one who attacked me in the park. But the timeologist was bound by certain rules. "Her right arm.." Belldandy said. "What?" he asked. she pressed forward. "Then how would she know it was a burn?" Urd asked. expecting her to explain it all like she promised she would." The boy turned pale.

picking up the receiver."Even if your theory is right. The boy followed her into the hall... Keiichi's steps quickened as he saw the elegant gold and purple phone sitting on a table nearby." Urd went on. feeling guilty for causing him this pain even though she knew it was necessary. I need to use your phone.. "Please.." Megumi said....." "I'll show you.. A new sense of urgency flavored his voice.. "I have to warn Megumi. "How do I. . "Was that the work of a goddess?" His brain locked up as the inescapable truth refused to be shouted down by his heart... killing those people. rising from her chair. The boy could see the truth in Belldandy's words.. "Moshi moshi. He had watched as his girlfriend sang. Belldandy looked away. Keiichi heard a ring on the other end and tapped his foot. "Why wouldn't she tell you?" "You saw what she did to those goddesses. rising to his feet. "Um. and we're the demons here." He finally said. those goddesses.. Megumi had been right all along... Sang the same song she would hum while doing the dishes." Belldandy told him in a haunted whisper.. He looked down and found there were no buttons. taking a nervous breath." Belldandy reached down and touched the base. "I. as if they were bugs to be exterminated. He took a step back and fell back on his butt." Urd said.. as she killed. and Belldandy fell into step with them. but no words emerged. sang. He opened his mouth.. several ancient symbols lighting up in sequence. and he didn't believe her." he said.." he explained quickly.

" she whispered."Megumi. Urd and Belldandy blinked at this. "Why?" he whispered. "Why me?" he asked softly. good. "Yeah. waiting to see what the mortal would do next. Okay. I don't have a satellite dish.... okay!" He closed his eyes and nodded. "I mean.. I'll explain it all later. say. 'No. Keiichi sama. "It's mine..'" Belldandy and Urd watched as the mortal boy talked to his sister.." He sighed guiltily in response to something she said." The mortal hung up the phone and stared down at it.. I can't really explain right now. Just. devastated look on his face. say. Pack a bag and go home to Hokkaido." she whispered.. "I want you to get out of there." he said. Unable to face him any longer. "Thank god. Urd regarded the boy with interest. Somehow. Tears sprang to her eyes as she confessed the heart-wrenching truth to him." Keiichi looked at her in disbelief.... a confused. "Oh." he said. listen to me... "Okay. what did I do?" The question broke Belldandy's heart. Just do it.. This isn't your fault. Keiichi watched her go in confused shock... "I love you too. don't say anything!" Keiichi suddenly blurted.... He turned to them.. She stepped forward and took his hands in hers. it has to do with Sitri. "If Sitri is there. "Megumi. Belldandy turned and darted down the hall..." he muttered this last word. .. saw a look of relief wash over his face. "You mustn't think like that. okay? I'll call you when it's safe! I can't. I promise..

not yet having the opportunity to change into something more appropriate for Heaven and not really caring to at the moment. She was still dressed in the T-shirt and shorts Megumi had loaned her. "Then do you mind doing me a favor?" 888 Belldandy sat at the end of the wooden dock. Reaching into the pocket of his leather jacket. If she had. she found Keiichi standing next to her. If I had. he stopped short.. Sitri had made contact with Keiichi sama two months ago. He lowered himself down and sat cross-legged next to her. her toes dipped in the cool water of the Styx. "I.." he confessed." she said quietly. he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. . Earth time. Looking up. She sighed.. Lifting the lighter.... he would have recognized her for what she was or.. looking down at her sad eyes. She hadn't realized until Oracle had mentioned it and she had done the math. "Hai.He looked up at her. "Is it okay if I sit here?" The question caught her off guard. She bit her lip. not lighting the cancer stick and turned to her. His phone call to the Goddess Help Line was about two and a half months ago. I don't know what to do now.. who knew how things might be different? Perhaps.. Sitri met Keiichi first because Belldandy didn't pick up that phone..

"I don't think this is your fault," he said quietly. "I think it's mine."

She looked to him and blinked. "Keiichi sama... you don't understand..."

"No, I do," he broke in. He looked up at the sky and shook his head in self reproach. "I was warned. Megumi told me over and over that Sitri was bad news, and I..." He flicked the lid of the zippo up and down nervously as he tried to explain it. "I guess... You see... I never had a girlfriend before Sitri... and I guess... Maybe I was so in love with the idea that I... that I just had a girlfriend... that I blinded myself to the signs that she... well... that she wasn't everything she made herself out to be..."

He took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "I guess... you know, I just wasn't... alone... anymore, and anytime anyone said something that threatened that, I... I just dug in... and..." He took another deep breath. "Um... I..."

Belldandy looked at him and saw him blinking rapidly, turning away from her as he cleared his throat again.

"I'm... I'm sorry," he choked out.

The Norn's breath caught in her throat.

He's trying to comfort me, she realized. He just found out the woman he loved was using him for some twisted purpose... a devastating betrayal of one's feelings... and he's trying to comfort ME. Sitri never even came close to deserving him... no woman does...

"Dammit," he muttered to himself, trying to pull the tears back into his eyes even as one ran down his cheek. He raised the lighter to his lips to light the cigarette, but was stopped by Belldandy placing her hand over it.

He turned to her and found the goddess smiling gently at him. Moving her hands up to his shoulders, she pulled him into an understanding hug and heard him choke out a sob. The lighter fell from his hands, and they heard a splash as it hit the water below them.

"Shhhhhh," she whispered as she closed her eyes and comforted him. "It's all right, Keiichi sama. The pain will recede in time... I promise it will..."

888

"Thanks, Hespera! Appreciate the lift!"

Oracle looked up from her knitting at the sound of the farewell and found Aurora walking into the sitting room from the front entryway. The goddess's hair was a bright pink now that the sun was setting. Seeing Oracle and Urd there, the Dawn shook her hair out and let out a long breath.

"Long day?" Oracle asked.

"That demon chased me all over Japan," Aurora told them. "Remind me to find a travel medium I can use more than once a day. She didn't take Morisato san's departure well..."

"Well, she is evil," Oracle reminded her.

"'Evil?'" Aurora repeated. "'Evil' doesn't do her justice! That woman is bat-shit crazy!"

"Did she say anything?" Urd asked.

"Oh yeah," Aurora said with a roll of her eyes. "We parked ourselves at a Baskin Robbins to share a sundae and talk about her feelings. Unfortunately, I don't speak 'crazy bitch!'" She took a deep breath. "What is her element again?"

"Love," Oracle answered with a shrug.

"LOVE?" Oracle repeated in disbelief.

"A love demon?" Urd asked with an arched eyebrow.

The script writer shrugged again and returned to knitting. "There are dark aspects of love. Jealousy, greed, manipulation... Sitri controls those elements of love."

"Great," Aurora said, throwing her arms in the air. "She's the patron saint of crazy stalker chicks! Outstanding! There's someone who's sure not to hold a grudge against me!"

"Have I told you today that I appreciate all your help?" Oracle asked hopefully.

Aurora pointed a finger at her and shook her head. "I'm taking a bath." With that, the Dawn stormed off.

Urd took a breath. "So now what?" she asked. "We can't send him back with Sitri on the loose."

"I talked to Freya today on Belldandy's behalf," Oracle said. Urd arched an eyebrow at the thought of the timeologist taking the liberty of speaking for Belldandy to the Norn's boss. "Keiichi may remain here until it is safe, but he is not to leave the grounds. I've also asked Belldandy not to grant his wish just yet."

"Why not?" Urd asked. "It might be the easy way out of this mess."

"Yes, it certainly would be, and I'm quite sure Keiichi wouldn't hesitate to use it as such," Oracle said. "That is why he must not know about it. That wish has a purpose beyond Sitri." She turned her attention back to her knitting. "And I will not allow the script to be hijacked again for the sake of that demon woman."

"Okay, so back to my original question," Urd said. "Now what do we do?"

Oracle stopped knitting and looked up at her, a puzzled look on her face. "How in Heaven's name should I know?"

888

The door to Megumi's apartment shattered as if someone had struck a pane of glass with a sledgehammer. Sitri casually stepped inside and smiled. "Anyone home?" she called out.

She listened for several moments for the sound of panicked scampering but upon hearing nothing, she moved from room to room, checking each for a hiding college student she could interrogate.

The demon had chased her only good lead all over Japan, but the goddess of the dawn had eluded her. She growled low in her throat. She almost had her at that Baskin Robbins...

Entering Megumi's bedroom, she found open dresser drawers, the signs of rushed packing. She walked into the room the college student had given Belldandy but found it exactly as she had left it the night before.

Her hand closed around the blue dress, still in its plastic wrap, and with a scream of rage, the demon tore the garment apart!

Breathing heavily, she worked to compose herself. Logic, she must use logic. The time for rage was later, when Belldandy's throat was in her hands. For now, she must use logic.

With Aurora being chased all over the country and Belldandy having kidnapped her man, it was unlikely that a goddess had come to take Megumi away, so the woman had left on her own. To where, Sitri wasn't sure. But maybe she didn't have to know.

She must have been tipped off, which meant...

The demon picked up the mortal girl's phone and dialed Star-69. An automated operator came on and gave its report.

"No. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're Sitri. "This is wonderful! I've always wanted to meet you! We have some things in common." Sitri smiled." she hissed into the receiver." Sitri did so and waited." . listening to the phone ring at the other end. "If you would like us to dial this number now." "Is this Belldandy?" Sitri asked. you know. her knuckles going white around the phone's handle.... press one. Sitri pressed the button to skip past the number to the next option."The last number to call this phone was: Seven-Nine-Four-Six-Five-Five-Seven-ThreeTwo-Seven-One-Four-Four-Four-Three-Six-Seven-Nine-Eight-Nine-Eight-Six. "Y'allo!" she heard someone answer.. "I'll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition's flames before I give him up!" the demon bit out from between clenched teeth.. "You know I won't give him up. The woman finally replied. "You think you can keep him from me? That I won't find him?" The woman on the other end didn't reply.. this is Urd." Realizing she had hit pay dirt. "Urd?" Her tone changed to that of someone who had just bumped into a long lost friend.

adding an audible lip-wibble. no!" "Then we are at an impasse. Sitri grinned. shining light of goodness and purity!" "Never heard it called that before. "Please." Urd quipped. it won't change the fact that the moment he or the little whore who took him from me set foot back on Earth. I'm guessing no?" "Of course....." "Where is my Keiichi. I'm going swoop down upon them like the Almighty's vengeance. sashaying toward the kitchen and rooting through Megumi's refrigerator in search of a wine cooler." Sitri replied.. "He's my boyfriend. The Norn probably had had no idea she even had a sister in the demon realm. "You see. Oneesama. So. "So I can tell him that I love him and I miss him!" "Do people really buy that act?" the Norn demanded. The man who may finally turn my heart away from the darkness of the Demon Realm and into a bright. Hild had kept her affair with Xelas's general-priest very hush-hush. I heard. Oneesama?" Sitri asked sweetly. and whether you choose to believe that or not."Yeah." Sitri said." She sniffled dramatically. what's say we make a deal? Between the two of us sisters?" .. "My tender lover. and Sitri knew she must have scored a point there.. "So. I love my Keiichi. "Put him on the phone? Just for a moment so I can. Oneesama?" she begged with a pout. Urd was silent." Sitri continued. "What do you want him for?" Urd asked after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.. "More than you would think.

"Come on." . 888 "So how's he doing?" Urd asked as she and Belldandy." Sitri said.. can you imagine the kind of grief Mother would give me if I harmed you?" "I'll think about it. taken aback by the amount of concern in her sister's eyes. "He'll be quite comfortable. feeling quite pleased with herself. "Oracle has made a room up for him here.. I have an opportunity to atone for what I've done." Sitri said." Urd thought on this. "You're safer than anyone else. "My place tomorrow evening! Come alone or there will be no deal now or in the future!" With that. She took a swig and continued." "Not here. Oneesama." "And how are you doing?" the elder goddess asked. She smiled. after all." "Glorious!" Sitri said in a fair impression of Hild." she said. face to face. even if I cannot yet grant his wish." Belldandy told her."I'm listening. "With Keiichi sama here... "I'm fine. walked down the hall to the front door. I'm sure. now back in her normal blue outfit. Belldandy gave her a surprised look. "Let's meet. screwing off the top of a pineapple-flavored beverage. the demon hung up.

working from home so she could take care of River."I think you're putting too much of this on yourself.. "You think Keiichi sama and Oracle could fall in love?" She looked away for a moment.. Nothing else can happen until she's out of the picture.. Urd shook her head and smiled." she ended with a smile... that would not be. "I think he has a thing for you." "Why not?" The elder Norn grinned. "I'm going to Earth tomorrow.. "So you should definitely stay up here with him. "I think you need to stay here with Keiichi. Besides. It was obvious that she had a little crush on the mortal boy.. per se. "I agree." Urd said with a grin. that's why you can't grant Keiichi's wish yet. You brought him here. That poor girl hasn't even seen a man in hundreds of years. "I'm going to look for Sitri and see if I can direct the Valks to her.." "I'll go with you." She seemed to gather to herself a sense of defensive ire.. "Haven't you noticed her taste in furniture and art? Aurora was telling me that she's spent the last several hundred years here." A silence fell over them for a moment. It makes me wonder." Urd said." Belldandy blinked. Destiny is involved somehow. that makes you his hostess. awful. "Besides.." . There's more here. "That.. "But coming from a broken relationship the way he is. cooped up. If Keiichi's not careful.." She leaned in. it would not be good for him to jump right back into another!" Urd watched her half-sister with a sense of amusement. if something changed along the way. Oracle implied as much." Belldandy said quickly. Keep his mind off his troubles. "One missed phone call didn't attract Hild's attention to that kid. to Belldandy's obvious surprise. Belldandy was so cute sometimes.." Urd told her suddenly.. I don't think you want to leave him alone for too long with Oracle.

plagued by visions of Sitri promising to grant his wishes. "Belldandy is here to see you. He had spent the night in the guest room and found his clothes laundered. 888 Stepping out of the bath. The feeling of betrayal was worse than any loneliness he had ever felt. "Morisato san?" he heard Oracle call through the door. . were trying their best to make him comfortable. Was any of it real? he asked himself." Urd said with a shrug as she walked away. courtesy of Oracle and River. Like a tool. was that he was stupid enough to believe a beautiful woman could love him. imposing on them. Even if only for just a second? Could it really have been all an act? All two months of it? He had been played and he knew it."A thing?" Belldandy repeated in confusion. he supposed. to make love to him under false pretenses. Reaching up. Oracle and River. the whole reason he was here. pressed and folded on the chair when he woke up. Of course. after all. of her telling him she loved him. He felt like an idiot. Keiichi approached the large sink and mirror and rested his hands on the off-white porcelain. He only barely slept." Oracle announced. What's worse was that he knew she intended to go further. The mortal was surprised that he hadn't heard them enter. "Like a gift?" "If that's what you want to call it. "Yeah?" he called back. trying his best to at least not sound irritable. to love him and yet not love him. he wiped the mirror clear until he could see his own haunted eyes reflected back at him.

. She leaned in again and whispered. With your permission. descending the marble staircase toward the waiting goddess below." she added hastily. "'Appreciate it?'" Belldandy asked quizzically. Oracle san!" "I'm sure Morisato san will appreciate it. of course. "Well.. "Young men like it when we pretty ourselves up for them. Belldandy!" she remarked. "Take the north path. so I packed a lunch and came to take him on a walk." she whispered. He should be down in a minute..." . Oracle stopped and leaned toward her as if to share a secret with the Norn. Is that so?" Belldandy asked with a smile. "Why. "It makes them feel special." Oracle said. She smiled at the Norn carrying the picnic basket. "Is." She broke off and blinked.. "What a wonderful idea!" Oracle agreed. get to know one another. 888 "I think he's dressing. snapping out of her doldrums.Belldandy san." Oracle told her. turning to lead the young goddess to the sitting room." she said wistfully. It's a wonderful spot for two people to. "So. I thought he should at least see some of it. It leads to this little grassy river bank under the shade of some peach trees. since Keiichi sama is confined to the grounds. what is your plan for today?" Belldandy held up the basket. "You look so pretty today!" Belldandy smiled brightly at the compliment.. "Indeed!" Oracle said... "Or so I've been told. "Thank you. Oracle san.

putting on his leather jacket with a subdued expression. "Wonderful!" Belldandy cried."That's exactly what I wish to do!" Belldandy cried with a smile. Oh. The goddess smiled. "There's much I would like to know about Keiichi sama's past and life! And I'm sure he must have many questions about us!" The blonde goddess stared at her in horrified amazement. You know what I mean when I say. "You... "Sounds good.. "Oracle san says the north path is a wonderful place for a picnic!" "Among other things. You've got to get out more. gesturing to the basket." he said... Oracle blinked." The Norn handed him the picnic basket and turned to lead him out the door.. 'get to know one another. "Would you like to go for a walk?" "Sure.. "Good morning. She placed a hand on her shoulder." Before Belldandy could reply." he said. "Oh..' right?" "Hai!" Belldandy replied. thank you. Keiichi sama.... Keiichi appeared at the top of the stairs." the timeologist muttered as she walked off. Honey. 888 . "Would you like me to take that?" he offered.." she said in greeting. "Oh.

" . She held the cup out to him. Belldandy led the way with the river on their right and the trees providing enough shade to make the walk comfortable. pouring him a cup." he whispered.. When he finally looked down from the trees. I get to be a part of that every time I grant a wish." he said.." she said. Blinking. "It's beautiful!" she exclaimed. pink blossoms were falling slowly to the ground like snowflakes on a calm day. He had asked Sitri once. The goddess paused and smiled.. had regaled him with stories of having the power to remake the world. he looked up and saw they had entered a stand of peach trees. thanks.. "What's it like being a goddess?" He felt a little guilty asking this question as a test. He put his hands in his jacket pockets and looked out at the river flowing nearby. and he sat down on the blanket she had laid out. and the go. he found that Belldandy had taken the picnic basket from him and was setting up lunch. "A goddess is an extension of the Almighty One's will. "Yeah. His thoughts were turned inward to the point where he didn't even spare a glance at Belldandy's rear assets. "Tea?" she asked him. demoness. "It's a life of service. He was curious to see how Belldandy would answer. stirred by the sight. He sipped at the beverage as she removed bentos from the basket. "Yeah. He regarded her as she worked and suddenly asked. turning to him.Oracle had not been kidding when she spoke of the north path's beauty. Light. Keiichi didn't even notice. He only looked up when Belldandy stopped and gave a gasp of awe.

. holding a bento and a pair of chopsticks.. 'ah." he said."Ah... I landed in your school.. The question threw him. well... you're a goddess... "I mean. "Ah.. ." She placed some onigiri in her mouth and chewed as he tried to answer... different. um. I.. adjusting herself to better face him. "Well.. why do you ask?" he countered weakly.." "Yeah. "It was just so. As he chewed. "What is it like to be a mortal?" she asked." "So you have a dream?" she asked." he said with a nod." "When I first arrived on Earth in search of you..'" he said." she explained. "No. "It just. "When you're little. than the way things are here. each with their own emotions and destiny and each unique to them. "Well... Everyone was scurrying about with their own path. "Huh?" he asked.. she regarded him and asked a question in turn.... you come up with a dream and then you spend your life searching for it. that's life. "Well... I don't know." he said. I mean 'ahhh." He struggled to find a way to describe it... She smiled and lifted a rice ball to his mouth." "Oh.'" she prompted.

. "Okay. more excited about his dream than he was. "And this might mean something if you had any interest in motorcycles. It's stupid. fun to ride." "Your own bike?" "Yeah. "I can't believe that.. genuinely puzzled by the interest." he said with a nod." he went on. relenting. "Or is such a thing private?" "No! It's just. A lot of people want either rice rockets or big Harleys or.." He bit his lip and nodded.." He broke off and blushed.. comfortable." he said.. "What is it?" she asked.." she said. feeling stupid. what about you?" "Me?" she asked.... "I want to build my own bike."Yeah." "It's wonderful!" she said." he said. "You want to create something! It doesn't matter what it is! The very act of creation is beautiful!" "You think so?" he asked. "You mustn't really think that if it's your dream." he said. "I want to build a bike that's fast. taking the bento from her and moving some noodles around it with his chopsticks. "Oh. "Hai!" she replied. . "Well.

" . because of the things I do. "I would make you happy." "I know." he growled. She just doesn't want to come out and tell me.. "I can tell." "I think you probably already do that."Yeah. I want someone to be happy because of me. "It's just one of those things that'll take time." he said seriously.. "I just." she said. "If I could take that pain away. He looked at her and blinked as she went on. "I mean." She looked at him with concern and care. "It's the Almighty who grants wishes. "Don't you do that now?" he asked." she admitted." He bit his lip and clenched his fist in impotent anger. confused. "I don't know why they've chosen to do this to you. "I want to make someone happy. "No. She closed her eyes and smiled. "I know your heart is wounded.." "Hai." she said." she said. I would." he said softly. He blinked." "Oracle san knows. I'm merely the interface between Him and the wisher. I mean you must have a dream too." she said seriously." she said sadly. you grant wishes. right? Doesn't that make people happy?" "It's not the same thing. "It's a nice dream." he said before stuffing some noodles into his mouth. He sipped at his tea. if I could.. "I just want to know why me! I mean is this something demons do a lot? Do they just grab random college students and screw with their feelings for fun?" Belldandy looked down at her lap.

making do with what is?" He cleared his throat and saw her smile intensify. "Some things simply are.. 888 . "There are some things in life. what's the point?" The goddess stood up and walked to the water's edge.. and the mortal boy wondered. As the mortal watched. how things might have been different if he had met Belldandy before Sitri. maybe not. painfully aware that her entire purpose for taking him out today was to take his mind off his troubles. that cannot be explained or accounted for." She smiled. She held her arms up. And we can only take what strength we can from the experience. One always finds their true path on the far side of suffering. as if she were walking across a balance beam and turned to him. He shook his head. and must be endured.. "I don't know. "Oracle san cannot be made to give up her secrets." he muttered.The Norn looked away." he said again." she said.. the goddess gracefully stepped out onto the water.. ". "Why don't I fall?" she asked him." She pirouetted and curtsied to him. spellbound by the sight. Keiichi sama. "Nothing can be done about that now. her bare feet hardly making a ripple in the surface. not for the first time. and now here he was dwelling on them. or. standing on top of the river... "But if I don't know why I'm suffering. "And now what is more important? Discovering why I do not fall." "Maybe.." she told him.." "Maybe..

.bright and early for the daily races. . she had to try." Sitri told her. "I wanted to give you the opportunity to state your case. "I didn't come here to beg. "To give me a good reason not to. She didn't trust Sitri. burnt holes in those that remained.. the evidence of the battle between her demonic sister and the Valkyries was made obvious by missing walls.. The goddess paused as she heard music float in from the next room. She turned and smiled at the goddess." Urd said." Urd told her. portable CD player sitting nearby playing a Johnny Cash song about the end of the world. however." "You mentioned a deal. Oneesama." Sitri said." She looked down at the CD player as the Johnny Cash song ended and the haunting piano chords of Gary Jules' rendition of "Mad World" began to play. And that is what brought Urd here. that other goddess with whom you claim relation. Inside. a war Belldandy had barely escaped. And if not.. it was as if nothing had happened.. a small. Moving quietly toward the living room. she pushed aside the tattered remains of a shoji door and found Sitri sitting on a burnt love seat. punish. "You have until the end of this song. From the outside. It's a pity that we must meet like this. "I love this little ditty. "I've longed to meet you..Urd pushed the front door open and stepped inside the shattered remains of the house.. For Belldandy's sake. sensing her presence. but she knew if there was anyone with a chance of getting through to the demon. I always wanted a big sister. she might be the only goddess with enough raw power to match Sitri. it was Urd." Sitri said. of coming to some sort of deal. A war had been fought here. dead crows and bats rotting on the floor near shards of broken glass.

"Not anymore.. "Then bargain. no tomorrow." "Your relationship is based on a lie." Sitri told her." Urd told her." .. No tomorrow. going nowhere.. "Neither will Keiichi Morisato. "Surely you can see that.." Urd bit out." . "We'll see. I find it hard to tell you. "Heaven's good will will not keep me warm at night. "What do I get out of this?" "Heaven's good will. .. it's a very very mad world.." Urd told her. no expression." Sitri muttered. When people run in circles....no expression. I find it hard to take.Going nowhere. "I have faith in him..the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had." the demoness told her with a dark smile. Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow.

Sitri watched with a smile as the Norn sleepily fell to her knees.. "You've failed. "I will find him. we're ending this the old fashioned demon way." Sitri growled..." Sitri told her. It's just that the next track is coming on." . it's a very very.... "What does Hild want with him anyway?" . ." "You think I'm just going to turn and go?" Urd asked incredulously. teacher.. The song ended.." "What's the real game here?" Urd asked..hello. look right through me. Mad world." Sitri said. tell me what's my lesson? Look right through me. "I could tell you. mad world." . "If we're not ending with a deal."What I see is yet another goddess trying to prevent me from fulfilling my destiny with Keiichi san.When I feel the way that every child should. Sitri smiled. but we're about out of time. I will bring him home to me. sit and listen. you're not leaving.. .. and too late Urd covered her ears as a particularly awful Enka song blasted from the CD player.. And I will avenge myself upon Belldandy... When people run in circles. "Another time perhaps... sit and listen.. "Oh..

"Poor. green orbs on the smiling demoness above her... poor Oneesama.. kneeling next to her. and she was happy to find a stock of dark chocolate delight in her sisters' cupboard. She focused those blurred.. ". her heart will stop."You like it?" the demoness asked. like every day. I don't think you should have to stick to themes. but a bedtime cup of cocoa was something of a tradition for her. Her eyelids felt like they weighed eight tons. "It's not a job I can be late for.. When her eyes close. she saw Sitri stand up and approach her.and down will come Belldandy.. "It's my own mix tape.. we can move on." .. Urd's hands fell away from her ears and her eyes slowly shut as Sitri finished her twisted version of the nursery rhyme.. and all. "So.... "Rock-a-bye neesan.. in the tree top..." Unable to maintain her strength. so sleepy." It took a Herculean effort to keep her eyes open. Keiichi. "Turning in?" She looked up and found Oracle entering the kitchen.. I prefer to truly mix it up." 888 Aurora adjusted her pink robe before pouring herself a cup of cocoa. keep people guessing." Urd tried vainly to shake the sleep from her mind as the offending music found its way between her fingers and into her ears. As her vision blurred." Sitri cooed... you know." Sitri sang. "When the song plays. Aurora smiled as her big sister leaned against the counter next to her. She had an early day tomorrow.

"Oracle san.. rolling her eyes..'" The blonde goddess smiled. "Did you kiss her?" "No!" Oracle's face scrunched up." he said quickly.." "Close enough!" Oracle declared.." . "Jeez. Oracle brightened. "I know you don't believe me."Thank you for everything you've done. yeah." Oracle said. excuse me?" They turned and found Keiichi standing at the door to the kitchen....... "With River's job and yours. Keiichi held a hand up and tried to regain control of the conversation.. but I truly do appreciate it. Aurora.. "I know it's tough for you... "I need to know. It wasn't a. "'Date?' Um. "Morisato san! How was your date with Belldandy?" "I wanted to ask you ab... live vicariously through other people much?" Aurora asked.. It wasn't a 'date. her smile returning in full force.. please." she said." The boy suddenly flinched as Oracle's words hit him." "Um.." The Dawn shrugged. "Did she feed you?" "Well..

"Morisato san.. "Aurora." he said. He shook his head. precious sister." "Fine.. Oracle! Just tell him!" Aurora chastised her sister. I'll tell him!" Aurora declared.. "Why do the demons want me?" he asked. "I cannot tell you. "I'm trapped up here! My sister is practically on the run! And I have no idea why!" "Jeez.. Morisato san?" she asked. Oracle swallowed and looked to the floor.." "I know you know something. past. didn't you? Just te. and I love you! But so help me if you open your mouth again I will slap it off your face!" The Dawn folded her arms over her chest and glared at her sister." "Aurora!" Oracle snapped at her sister. his tone bordering on accusatory but stayed closer to pleading.. Morisato san. "You helped Destiny write it. present and future!" Aurora went on. A script writer is forbidden from revealing the destiny of one she authors for.." ." Oracle warned. you and. Shamed by her outburst. "You know his life story. "Keiichi."Know what. stepping forward. "What did I do? What is it about me?" The blonde's face scrunched up in irritation again. "You are my dear.. ignoring the warning.

" Oracle told her with a sigh.. "What?" "Your mouth is moving." The Dawn ignored her and continued "speaking. "Aurora!" "What?" Aurora finally asked out loud.Keiichi blinked in amazement as Aurora's mouth continued moving... "I want to help them! I truly do! That's why I'm doing all this!" .. Oracle rubbed her temples. "Aurora. but nothing's coming out!" Oracle explained." The unknowingly silent goddess held up three fingers accompanied by an expression of utter disbelief. "When you agreed to assist me in this case. but no sounds emerged." punctuating her story at points by silently gesturing grandly.. which means speaking to either Morisato san or Belldandy san on either of their destinies constitutes a Forbidden Topic!" Aurora looked at her sister in wrathful disbelief... you fell under the auspices of the Writers Guild. "Aurora. SUPER WEAK!" "Did you think I was just being a priss by not telling them?" Oracle demanded. "Oh.. The goddess seemed unaware of her silence and continued speaking and gesturing as if she was passing some incredible news to the boy. that is so. "You're not saying anything.

rubbing his temples." the mortal said." "River can. "'Them?' Who's 'them?' Me and Belldandy san?" Oracle sighed. Aurora shrugged. but not here and not . "What?" Oracle asked. "You've lived through this date and time before. I can tell you that Aurora is right. no!" Oracle hissed. "River can." Aurora said. "The short version is that thanks to Belldandy and her sisters playing with the time stream.. right?" She faced Oracle. "You can't tell me. right? She could do the same for Keiichi. "Woah! Wait!" Keiichi said. "She restored your linear memories." "My head hurts.. "Other timeline?" "Long story." They both looked up at Aurora. "I know. getting lost again. "Without getting into specifics."Wait! Wait! Wait!" Keiichi demanded. you and everyone else in the world lost three years of their lives. right?" "Aurora." Keiichi sighed." She looked at him. There's enough information about why this is happening in the memories of the other timeline to answer his questions without actually telling him about his future. I know. Oracle took a breath.

as it is His universe.. pointing at both of them. and time had to be reset to a safe point.." she said." she said. and very.. some semblance of sense! Oracle wasn't permitted to confirm or deny." Keiichi thought about it. it's very.. "It's easy for us to absorb that much information in such a short time." Keiichi's lips curled as his bullshit detector went off. obviously.. When that happened." . It is her job to narrate the universe. Morisato san. "For a mortal. how do you know?" Oracle pursed her lips as she prepared to explain more.. but I'm a goddess." She paused and took his hands in hers. "There are three entities who are unaffected by changes in timestreams." Oracle told him sympathetically. "The third is River. incident. getting deeper and deeper into the hole she was digging. all the memories you. very painful. "Then. but only for a moment." "So this Hild person would remember me?" Keiichi demanded. Three years from now.. Finally. had were erased. Hild. there was an..like this. His counterpart in the Demon Realm. "Yeah!" Keiichi said suddenly... "I don't care. "The Almighty." "And she can give those memories back the way she returned yours!" Aurora told her. so she is unaffected and retains those memories. and everyone else in Creation.... "She did it for you. very dangerous.. so she continued on.. "That! We can do the memory return thing! I can figure stuff out on my own from there!" "It's not the same. right?" "Yes. I need to know..

. "Very well. Keiichi wondered if somewhere in that speeding gibberish she was actually speaking to them.. her lips moving impossibly fast. "Morisato san would like his linear memories of the other timeline. Oracle swallowed. rain pelted the glass of the window." "Then what?" he asked quietly." Oracle explained. I need what River knows. after what must have been several moments of considering the request. and he wishes to go on regardless.. Oracle moved aside and told him to kneel before the older goddess. "So." she whispered. Outside. "Then touch her face. "If I'm going to find out why."Morisato san. River beckoned Keiichi to come forward. Finally. beating a steady tattoo against the silence of the dimly-lit room. "Then. I explained the dangers to him.. "Follow me. "River." she explained. "I." ." Oracle took a resigned breath and nodded. looking out the window as she rapidly narrated the world's story." River said nothing.. brace yourself." he breathed nervously." Keiichi and Aurora followed Oracle into the sitting room where River was seated.." "My life is being twisted away from me!" he told her. kneeling before her sister. "How does this work?" "Look her in the eye." Oracle began.

Disclaimer: AMG is not mine. Oracle knew that all he could do now was endure and hope.. suddenly.. He gave a gasp of shock and fell backwards onto his butt. "Up to my room. tears of intense agony running down his face. For a moment. to make the pain stop. Oracle and Aurora were already lifting him by the arms when he started screaming." Then.. it was as if someone hit him in the forehead with a sledgehammer. Within the gibberish he screamed were pleas for help...... His mouth opened and he let out a pain-filled gasp.. it seemed to him that her lips slowed and she spoke directly to him. raising his hand tentatively as if he were about to touch a live wire and knew it. gathering what courage he could. River returned to narrating. "First End" was written by Yumi Touma.. "Keiichi Morisato. he quickly reached out and touched River's cheek. something.. The world went on. Finally. As the screams began to fade from distance and doors closing between them. TO BE CONTINUED. that he had changed his mind. The two goddesses pulled/carried the mortal boy up the stairs as he continued wailing in torment.Keiichi bit his lip and looked into the goddess's eyes." Oracle ordered. pressing into his mind. his hands went to his head as he felt. It was like trying to stop an avalanche with his bare hands.. but it was too late. . Swallowing. his screams echoing against the marble and spreading throughout the house. then a cry.

she supposed. Skuld watched her older sister in puzzlement. after two hours. Then when.. When she had come home from work yesterday. she had been in the best mood of her life. by her very nature. ..Second Dawn Chapter 6 Twisted Sister Belldandy checked herself in the mirror for the fourth time and for the fourth time changed her hair. the middle Norn had finally returned.. to the point where she didn't even seem to notice the chores Skuld had left incomplete. You should just admit it to yourself.. but Belldandy didn't remark on it more than to say the half-demon was doing something on Earth this week.. but this morning. The goddess. There was something to that. Urd hadn't come home last night either. her sister had not yet returned from the business she had at the Styx. Skuld had never seen her sister so happy. she thought. watching her sister adjust her hair again while humming happily at the mirror.. she was more than willing to do that. Something was definitely up. Oracle's words to her yesterday morning stuck with her. closer to perfect would be best. and if the goddess could do that by putting some effort into her appearance. Standing in the bathroom door. She now stood there. she just wanted her hair to look more than pretty. for some reason. She wanted Keiichi sama to feel special. which meant Skuld had to heat up her own dinner. this time putting it up in an intricate pattern that allowed one braid to come down and hang over her right shoulder. wasn't a particularly vain person. She believed that one's inner beauty shined through to others. You want to look good for HIM.

and he's interested in engineering! I'm sure you'd get along wonderfully!" "Yeah. Oneesama. I know you've got a lot to do. "You. Urd had mentioned a mortal boy." Skuld muttered.." Skuld smiled but without much feeling. I was busy.. "Hai!" "So." . Skuld! I'm sorry I didn't cook last night! I was. "Oneesama?" she gently interjected. "Hai. right?" Skuld probed.. pulling her hair down again without giving her sister as much as a glance. should I order out for dinner tonight?" This seemed to shake Belldandy away from the mirror.. "You should come to Oracle's tonight and eat with us!" she declared. She wasn't sure how she felt about her big sister suddenly being too "busy" to spend time with her." She arched an eyebrow as Belldandy went back to working on her hair. Are you going to Oracle's again today?" "Hai!" Belldandy replied. "I'm sure..... and the goddess turned to her sister as if she suddenly realized something... don't you?" "Hai! He is a very kind person. Could he be the cause of this? She had never seen her sister crush on a boy before. It was possible.Before she left.. You really like this boy." Her head snapped up as a wonderful idea occurred to her. "Oh! Oh. but I would love to introduce you to Keiichi sama! He's such a nice boy.. she supposed. "That's okay." Belldandy approached and hugged her... "To see that mortal boy. "I'll double check with Oracle to make sure it's all right. "Um.

her eyes wide. puzzled by the wordplay. "Oneesama!" "EH?" Belldandy replied quickly as if her little sister had just caught her making out with a boy. brown eyes...."No. of being unable to avert her eyes as he moved closer and brushed his lips against hers. "Well?" Skuld asked.." Skuld sighed. She felt a warm heat rise up through her chest. into her neck and suffuse her cheeks.. She would stick with that. like-like. "Hold on a sec." "Like-like what?" Belldandy asked. Yes. "So you do like-like him!" . an image of a knight on a white horse kissing a woman sitting side-saddle in front of him. do you like him like this?" She held up the trashy romance so Belldandy could see the picture on the cover. Belldandy looked at herself in the mirror again and smiled. Skuld gave her a reproachful glare. Belldandy didn't hear her.. A moment later. finally prompting her eyes to close and. "I mean. Her mind was working overtime with thoughts of being trapped in the gaze of Keiichi Morisato's soft. "Eep?" she finally squeaked out.. as opposed to fantasizing about making out with a boy. leaving the bathroom.. Skuld returned holding a paperback book she had pilfered from Urd's room. Belldandy froze dead in her tracks. the braid was beautiful. I mean.

" Skuld said with a grin." Skuld said.. Belldandy Help Line and never see him again." 888 "Coffee?" Urd blinked her eyes open as she heard the question and couldn't shut them in time as a splash of the burning liquid in question struck her face. . So where was bother her? beautiful thing. "Skuld?" "Nothing. I'm sure I will. how could this mortal boy possibly be worthy of Oneesama? She almost screwed it up. It was a perfect. not having to fight at stay here forever.especially when he leaves." Skuld said with a smile. she saw she was encased in a large red crystal with only her head sticking out and able to move.. Looking down. She instinctively tried to raise her hands to protect her face. all. though if Urd could see her now she'd probably smack the goddess on the back of the head for feeling that way.Belldandy looked down at her feet as if in shame. ". When he did. adding under her breath. "Oh. Hearing this made Belldandy's day. but found they were trapped at her side. On the other. She smiled brightly and clapped her hands. Skuld was actually opening her mouth to ask this question and suddenly shut it as the question itself ran through her mind again. Belldandy blinked at her. she didn't want to irritate her big sister by lecturing Belldandy the way Urd lectured the raven haired girl. wonderful! I know you'll just love him!" "Yes. The younger goddess took a breath. which meant he couldn't going to go back to Earth. Eventually he was was going to go back to work at the the harm in pretending that it didn't "I'd actually really like to meet him. On one hand. She smiled. The boy was a mortal.

there was some kind of canal six feet wide running to the goddess's right and the entire cavernous room was lit up in dull hues of red and pink. "What's your next move? Put a dead cat in Belldandy's mailbox? Talk about her behind her back? What exactly is your brilliant plan?" "You are going to get my Keiichi back for me. then sign me up for chlorpromazine. the Norn could make out a fake starscape on the walls and ceiling. "So." Urd said in a tone that said she was just making conversation." "Wow. Sitri returned to her holotop and continued to work. "Too many people know about it. It's the first place they'd search for you. honestly impressed." Urd remarked. Squinting.. That much Urd was sure of. a grim smile on her face. They weren't in Sitri's house anymore.Sitri stood not far away. "Couldn't stay at the house. It wasn't even a joke anymore. "If kidnapping your half sister. "Crazy?" she demanded. "You know. For one thing. sister!" Urd gawked. encasing her in a giant crystal and hiding in an abandoned carnival makes you crazy. a Tunnel of Love. when Aurora said it. This demon was insane. "Which is very kind of my loving big sister to do." . I just assumed it was because she was tired and angry. The demoness turned and put the empty coffee cup on a small table nearby.. but you really are bat-shit crazy." Sitri's face was an inch from hers a moment later. It suddenly hit her that she was inside a carnival ride." Sitri told her as she typed on a holotop computer. "Is it crazy to love someone? To care so much for them that you'd be willing to upend the universe itself? To want to make someone happy so much that you would be willing to bring down the wrath of both Heaven and Hell upon you? Well!" Sitri said in summation." Sitri said with a smile.

She only let me out to play on special occasions when she was in need of someone with a sense of 'moral ambiguity."Yeah. Urd screamed in agony into the recorder's microphone! Sitri pulled away from her a moment later and hit the stop button as Urd's head lolled forward. I guess she was afraid of losing another daughter. opportunities to find love were nowhere to be found. gasping in pain.." she muttered." "What do you want?" Urd gasped out painfully. Sitri ignored her." Urd muttered bitterly. Sis! How are you? I'm fine! Wish you were here!' That kind of thing. just a quick 'Hi. "Well. "You see. "Did you know your father. channeling a bolt of black electricity into the goddess's head." "Try MySpace.." She smiled at Urd. So she kept me all but locked up in my palace in the Eighth Circle. and learned the subtle arts of manipulation." She turned to Urd suddenly. Nothing special. "As you can imagine. "And how exactly am I supposed to help you get Keiichi back while I'm stuck in this crystal?" Sitri smiled and approached her." she complimented. "I want what every young woman wants. Mother never gave me the choice she gave you. I want to love and be loved. "This is some nice voice work. holding a digital audio recorder in her hand. "I trained. Oneesama?" . The goddess heard her own scream played back and lifted her head to find Sitri nodding appreciatively at the sound. Oneesama. first I need you to record a little message to your sister. Sitri plugged the recorder into her computer and went to work.'" She sighed. developed my powers." She held the recorder up to Urd's lips with one hand and reached out to Urd's temple with her other. "You could do this for a living. I'm sister of the year over here. unwilling to let me spread my wings and fly.

Waiting patiently. 888 Belldandy blinked at the oak door in puzzlement. to deny him to Belldandy and take his soul for Mother's pleasure... though they tended to talk about his current problems more than take his mind off them. seduction was something I was trained for. By this time. He has this way of making you feel. "I must admit. "To take Keiichi Morisato as my lover. The picnic was a success in her eyes. I had to have faith in Mother that she would reveal her wisdom to me eventually. But that boy. It was work." She stood up and approached Urd. but no one answered." Urd growled. that boy. I'll be back later. that should do it.. Urd watched and swallowed nervously. however. She felt it would help him heal." "How romantic.The Norn cleared her throat and nodded. All she did. The computer beeped. was pinch Urd's cheek. and she very much wanted to help him heal. "Oh. I didn't expect to feel anything for Keiichi san at first. "You get some sleep. . Oneesama. She knocked again.. "He lives in another realm. she turned her mind back to coming up with something to do with Keiichi sama today. She had knocked. "Well." Sitri sighed. Then. the pain in her head still hammering against her skull. as if to reward me for my patience. I just need to finalize a few details and then we can send our little letter to Belldandy. Sitri typed. Perhaps they were in the back and couldn't hear her." She closed her eyes and sighed. a job.. "I never knew him. reaching out and taking a perverse pleasure in watching the Norn flinch." She smiled at Urd. she gave me this special mission." Urd watched helplessly as Sitri walked down the tunnel and out of the ride. a little louder this time." She closed her eyes and took a long deep breath..

on the other side. and the sound was clearer now. flying up the stairs toward the source of the noise as the frightening possibilities gripped her mind.. just not in the way she thought.It broke her heart to see him in pain. and she would give anything to mend it. They're probably on the deck. interspersed with some kind of gibberish. she turned it and pushed the door open. Still no answer. Stepping back. Definitely screams of pain rather than surprise or panic. Pushing the thick door open. a man.. was screaming. It was a little creepy. Someone. quietly stepping inside as if she were breaking and entering. as if no one cared to turn on the lights that morning. something. and the house seemed dimmer than it should. And as far as she knew. His heart had been cut deeply. there was only one man in this house. No one was there. "Keiichi sama!" she cried. She tried the knob but found it locked. Sitri! she thought. She had told both Keiichi sama and Oracle san that she would return this morning. . and she could hear. She must have found a way to sneak into Heaven! Found Keiichi san! Now she's torturing him for leaving! She came to the door of Oracle's bedroom. Perhaps she "like-liked" Keiichi sama because she wanted to make him happy and saw a way to do so by caring for him.. Perhaps Skuld was right. Placing her hand on the doorknob. the noise made itself horrifyingly apparent.. a constant noise that went up and down but never tapered off. she gathered the powers of the wind into her hands. particularly a pain that she couldn't just use her powers to heal. The door that led from the vestibule to the main hall was ahead. she thought. looking at the river.

." He swallowed and thrashed his head from side to side. letting the tempest in the teapot loose. prepared to do battle with Sitri.... "Keiichi sama!" Belldandy cried. grabbing the boy by his shoulders to steady him. "Keiichi sama!" she cried... A sheen of sweat coated his forehead.. The door flew off its hinges. What do you mean? What's happening to you?" "He's remembering. but don't break the pot! It's Urd.. It's Fenrir. It's. looking about quickly at everything yet seeing nothing but what was in his own head. rushing toward him. even knowing the odds.. but she got the impression that he wasn't really speaking to her. . Her eyes went to Oracle's bed and found Keiichi thrashing on top of the sheets. remove the barrier before me and save Keiichi sama!" she cried. but. "What." Belldandy's head whipped around and found Oracle sitting in her chair. holding his head and crying out in agony... Don't listen to me! Don't. "Belldandy?" he cried. But there was no demon there to meet her. "It's not me! Don't listen! Don't give me the flute! Don't. "What is it? What's happened!" The mortal boy's eyes were wild.. "The Lord of Terror is Urd. Don't. then a painful wail erupted from deep within the boy. "Belldandy!" "Hai! It's me! It's me!" she replied."Tempestuous spirits of the wind." he gasped out.. and Belldandy rushed inside.. "The Lord of Terror.. Tears ran down her face. It's me..." His mouth opened and no sound emerged for a moment.. knitting.

. would you just leave me alone! No.. looking down at her lap and continuing her knitting.. the ones from the other timeline. but he would not listen. "Peorth!" Keiichi suddenly babbled. "What. "Peorth san? How does he know Peorth san?" "They've met. woman.... "Make it stop! Help him!" "There is nothing that can be done now." Oracle told her.. or should have met.." "What other timeline? What do you mean?" Oracle gave her an almost cold stare." she said.. his eyes on her. What happened? What did you do to him?" The blonde looked up from her knitting and shook her head wearily. "Christ. "I warned him." 888 .. "Welsper!" he gasped suddenly.. The goddess cried out in surprise as the boy suddenly sat up and took her by the arms." Oracle said. "Stop it!" Belldandy demanded of Oracle.. which he is doing. It's really hard to talk about now." "Belldandy!" Keiichi cried suddenly.... "The only way his mind can absorb the new memories is for him to live through them." Belldandy stared at him. "Welsper! His name is Welsper! You have." He fell back onto the bed.. I don't want your wish. Either he will be able to do this until the old memories catch up with the new ones or. "Or. "The timeline you and your sisters reset."Oracle san!" Belldandy gasped.. will meet. he will be dead. You have to.. his eyes going wide as she screamed again. but not seeing her. He insisted on having River restore his memories.

"They might. "It's remarkable.. Sitri stared at her. "They accepted you. "What is it? What do you want?" "The resemblance. or it could be a moment of clarity in her sister's mind that she could use to her advantage. not at the insanity in Sitri's voice. It was familiar. standing only a foot from the crystal.." Sitri muttered.. Do you think they'd accept me?" An alarm went off in Urd's head." Sitri muttered. She had once spoken those same words to Belldandy as a child. "Heaven. but because of the lack of it." Urd lied. "To be like you. "What?" Urd gasped out. still staring at Urd. This could be a trap. turning her head and stroking at the purple line in her hair with her fingers. Back then she had craved acceptance too. eerily familiar.Urd's eyes fluttered open. knowing that Heaven would never take a full demon. "What would I have to do?" Sitri asked her. and the Norn gave a gasp and a start when she found purple eyes staring right back into her own. and her father was a god." "Maybe. I imagine she had more of a say about what we looked like than our fathers did. and Belldandy had given it freely. . They had been reluctant enough to accept Urd. Oneesama?" Urd's eyes went wide at the question.. "Do you think Heaven would accept me?" "What?" Urd gasped out incredulously." Sitri repeated softly as she reached out and touched Urd's hair. "She carried us. isn't it? How we both took after Mother?" "Why not?" Urd grunted.

wiping a tear away. it would seem. . sniffling... the same look Urd had seen in her own when she saw them reflected in the eyes of a god or goddess she was." Urd said in self-reproach.. but something stopped her. "Put it aside and accept the goodness that remains there. Sitri listened to her sister complain as she gently pulled the bandage off her arm and studied the burn there. Sitri's expression turned cold. Oneesama!" Sitri cried." "You can?" Sitri asked. but Plan A is still sound. "Oh." "I can't believe I almost fell for that... "Not good enough. "I can help you. that together they'd put Sitri's heart at peace. not believing she could be so easily duped. a goddess vouching for me would get me into Heaven and closer to my target. turning away from Urd. "You must think horribly of me! How can a creature like me ever find redemption!" "You can do it. "I admit.." Urd breathed." Urd quoted Belldandy. to tell her that she would. "Oh." A tear formed in the demon's eye.Could that really be what Sitri wanted deep down? For someone to simply accept her? "You have to renounce the evil in your heart." she said. you're good." Urd told her. "Then. get into Heaven?" Urd opened her mouth to reply. The look in Sitri's eyes." Urd said. "You can help me. Give it wings and let it fly. Then I can be like you? I can be a goddess too?" "We can try.

" she said. "Belldandy got lucky. but the giver definitely loved the receiver! Tell me who he is! Where I can find him!" Her tone turned gentle. "There's a word for a woman who would steal a man from the tender arms of his lover!" she cried. "I had hoped. Oneesama! Maybe she didn't love the giver.. "Belldandy wears a ring on her left hand. that you would understand. Oneesama." "My sister lives like a nun. "Who gave it to her? She has a boyfriend.. Sitri pulled her hair again. "And I will let him stand in your place." Sitri bit back. huh?" Urd half-taunted. She looked up at her half-sister and stepped toward her. This can be both." She was cut off as Sitri grabbed a fistful of the Norn's hair and pulled savagely. "How do you know she didn't get it from a Dollar General?" The look in her eyes made Urd swallow in fear. "A whore! Belldandy is a whore! A whore long overdue for a lesson in the proper etiquette surrounding romantic rivalry!" She released the Norn's hair and turned from her. You're a love goddess." She leaned in and caressed Urd's hair." 888 . "All is fair in love and war." She turned back to Urd and smiled. after all. "Where did she get it?" "I don't know what you're. "Because only love burns. "A diamond."Belldandy got you pretty good. doesn't she? An old lover! Someone I can leverage against her!" Urd grit her teeth against the pain and spat back." Urd hissed.

"It was important to him. you probably would have had to have been there. . It's okay. "It's okay. He wants legs! Tell Sigel.. touching as it was.. "And at one point. "Please tell me what happened. well. it was important to you." Belldandy begged. squeezing him hard from behind to keep him from thrashing." she whispered into his ear as he fought. and wondered how far she should try pushing Belldandy.. "Tell Sigel to watch out for Dr. Oracle watched the scene." she whispered and she held him tightly." Belldandy whispered as Keiichi thrashed in her arms again before screaming." . and the Norn adjusted her grip to keep him from throwing himself to the floor or hurting himself. and Belldandy tried her best to wrap her mind around the things he was saying.. things that were illogical on their face.. "I want to understand.. Morrow.. Shhhhhh.." "It's just gibberish. things that didn't make any sense. "It's okay.. "I don't know what you mean.. "Why did you do this to yourself? Was it really that important?" He started thrashing again.She held him tightly as he screamed again..." She shushed him again and stroked his hair.... "You say I did this somehow. Morrow! Dr. "It doesn't mean anything to me! I don't understand!" Keiichi continued to babble incoherently." she whimpered in defeat." "Dr. things that." she told the Norn.. Morrow!" Keiichi gasped out painfully. Tell her. Her eyes closed painfully.

. Keiichi babbled again. Belldandy had never heard him. "BELLDANDY!" he screamed. Have to finish that western breakfast another time. or anyone for that matter. "Megumi needs a ride to class. "What's happening?" Oracle regarded him and sighed. As loud as he had been the last several hours. scream as loudly as he did now. he arched his back again. Ask her to make it again.. "Keiichi sama?" she breathed.Before Oracle could answer. She shook his shoulders.." "WHAT?" Belldandy cried out in panic." His head lolled from side to side." Keiichi's screaming started to falter as the boy lost breath. "Keiichi sama! KEIICHI SAMA!" . "What is it!" she cried as she tried to push him down on the bed to keep him from hurting himself. It would appear..." Oracle said softly.. his back arched and he started screaming in agony... He gave a long breath and collapsed on the bed. "Something. his eyes closed. I LOVE YOU! I DON'T WANT TO GO! I DON'T WANT TO GO! BELLDANDY!" The words devolved again into pitiful weeping. somehow still audible over Keiichi's screams. that it was not a quick or painless one... "Yes. The Norn stared down at him. shocked to the core by his words.. knowing perfectly well what was happening. "BELLDANDY.. "He's reliving the memory of his death. Suddenly.. Something in the road! Shit! Turn! TRUCK! MEGUMI!" Suddenly. nearly throwing the goddess off of him.. "He's reliving his death. his cries devolving into the panicked words of a man who knew he was dying. Belldandy's breath caught in her throat as she thought the worst had occurred.

." She looked up at Oracle. Belldandy leaned back. It can be fixed." "Yes. but we must first reestablish the right track. "I could not justify doing that to so many people." she whispered. Surprised again... "Something that this reset failed to resolve." "It comes down to poor script-writing. more that Oracle was. caused all of this.." .. I know it in my heart." There was much more to what was going on. ". looking up at the ceiling." he whispered." Oracle told her. "Something so awful that a second reset was necessary to prevent it from happening. Keiichi coughed and laid on the bed. "Did. then definitely not being forthcoming about. "Keiichi sama?" she asked tentatively. if not outright hiding.. the first attempt to alter destiny." Oracle told her. Belldandy blinked as he began speaking more gibberish. It was not successful.." "I bought her a ring. "Something else happened. Did he start over?" she asked. a goddess like you to always be by my side. "This is the second timeline..The boy's eyes snapped open and he nearly choked as he gobbled for breath. Oracle shook her head. "I would not have reset time just to save him. "One mis-penned phrase." Belldandy continued.

. If I can just get her alone.. He was staring up at the ceiling and speaking softly. A diamond ring? Her eyes fell on her left hand and the mysterious ring she didn't recognize.." she said." A ring? Belldandy thought. and love. There was no way Keiichi sama could have given her this ring and yet. She swallowed back tears. . Perfect sense. "Because he loved me... of all the possibilities.' but I ran out of money and... She looked up at Oracle and smiled. He was supposed to meet." he said. "... I just. I'm going to give it to her at the Christmas party." Oracle smiled. staring down at it.'" Belldandy whispered as Keiichi himself said the words... The boy was no longer screaming. I just don't know how she'll react.. Somehow. I know what I want it to say. That's the proper track. me. isn't it? He wasn't supposed to love Sitri... It was pure insanity. it was the sanest one. Love Keiichi. "It's not much.. I guess I wussed out. the idea that a boy she had never met gave her a ring that traveled across time to find her made sense." Keiichi muttered painfully.. Did I love him?" Belldandy asked quietly. but it's what I could afford. Yeah. yet couldn't bring herself to stop wearing." Belldandy gazed at the ring as tears came to her eyes..I wanted it to say 'For Belldandy....Belldandy blinked and turned back to Keiichi. "A diamond ring. "I even got it engraved. "He gave me this ring. "Did." "'For Belldandy.. "It says....

or him. It was quite possible this would be the moment where Destiny would be righted. She sensed the Norn's intent and motioned her forward." ". the memories all entered at once. but at the same time anything but. "What's up?" She turned and found Aurora standing next to her. Oracle watched in anticipation.. If they both remembered. but the only words that seemed to matter came from either herself. heard voices she recognized yet seemed strange. "SHHHH!" Oracle quickly shushed before turning back to Belldandy and River. She saw people she knew and yet knew not. closing her eyes as the narrator of all things showed her the Norn's story thus far. "I would like a goddess like you to always be by my side. that which she knew and that which she did not. River continued narrating. I haven't been here just because of my contract. For a goddess." Oracle told her... but once safely in her mind."There's only one way to find out. 888 Belldandy knelt in front of River so she was at eye-level with the other goddess..... the process was intense and painful.. seemingly oblivious to Belldandy's presence.. With Keiichi. Belldandy slowly reached out with both hands and gently touched River's cheeks. they unfolded before her mind's eye.. The memories were forced into his frail mind like someone filling a water balloon with a fire hose. From one side. teasing her with more and more detail each passing moment. Keiichi." .

.. If it was just duty..". I don't know how to say it.. You used your full power for me..... it.. "Belldandy is getting her linear memories back. because I love him. Aurora paused... Of course. but.. because my feelings always reach him." ". but not really.." she whispered. "Now what?" Aurora whispered... The blonde goddess was biting her pinky nail.." They watched as nothing happened for several more minutes. "What's happening?" Aurora whispered to her sister... ." 888 Oracle and Aurora watched expectantly as the two goddesses stood unmoving before them.." ".... it wouldn't hurt so much. they always do... didn't you?" "." "I'm here. I really wish you'd only be sweet and kind to me. "Is that a good thing?" "Yeah.....

The mortal was rising. she just ran." When Belldandy moved. I hope it lasts." 888 Belldandy didn't even pause to wipe the tears from her eyes. it surprised the two sisters. "Is this good or bad?" Aurora asked. It was only then that she stopped. his breath hard and ragged. She casually stood up and looked down at River. an unsure voice broke the silence.." "For how long?" "As long as it takes!" Oracle whispered her retort. She watched and waited for another few moments. "The suspense is terrible. her hand grabbing the doorframe as she rushed inside. Oracle and Aurora watched. Belldandy turned and ran down the hall toward the stairs. Her eyes locked onto the door to Oracle's bedroom as she ran for it." Oracle closed her eyes and smiled.. painfully pushing himself up. . Swallowing."We wait. "I really can't tell. Did River not restore her memories or did Belldandy just not care? Before they could utter the question aloud. She could hear her footsteps on the marble staircase and the sound of her rapid breathing loud in her ears. surprised that there wasn't more of a reaction. her eyes coming to rest on him. He looked up and saw her. "It's good.

"Skuld told me. he wrapped his arms around the Norn and squeezed back as he felt her tears soak through his shirt into his shoulder. "I know. "I don't! I can't! I don't care what happens! I can't!" He didn't try to fight back his own tears." "I don't want to lose you again!" she cried. "I'm so sorry! I didn't want to go! Please believe me! I didn't want to!" "I know. Belldandy. "I'm so sorry!" she wept. closing his eyes as he held her. He let them go. Rather than try to break free. and her arms were wrapped so tightly around him he couldn't get it back." he said softly. ."Belldandy?" She bolted toward him. I love you!" "I love you. Aurora and Oracle smiled and wiped their eyes. "I love you. "We'll find a way." Watching the embrace from the doorway and feeling not the least bit awful for it." he said. I know. sobbing like a baby now." he said." "Keiichi. her feet feeling light enough for her to fly without her wings. "Keiichi san!" The goddess's body struck his so hard his breath left his chest in a gasp.

but she knew in her heart those weren't the latest Oingo Boingo albums. "Screw it.Oracle spread her arms and closed her eyes before announcing in a subdued whisper.. for the psycho demon out for his blood and heart. The demon looked over at her and grinned maliciously...... I will revisit that harm ten-fold on YOUR head!" "All this anger directed at me for something I may or may not have done to a goddess who isn't even really your sister.. The Norn couldn't see them up close. tears forming in her eyes. "Except. I don't care! They all lived happily ever after! I'll fix the rest in the epilogue. "I swear to the Almighty and Hild both.." 888 Urd looked up as Sitri entered the tunnel of love and tossed two CDs on her desk before bending over the holotop and bringing up her email client... "Who do you think?" Urd's eyes locked on the two seals sitting near the demon's computer. "Blood or no!" "Why do you say such hurtful things?" Sitri asked. fearing the worst." Oracle sighed.. "Who's in there?" she asked.. happily ever after. "." She chewed on her lip and thought for a moment.. and the singularity that could still destroy Creation. you know. "And they all lived..." "She's more my sister than a monster like you could ever be!" Urd spat. "I'm your loving sister! Your real family!" . "If you've harmed her. for any harm you've done to Belldandy." Aurora cleared her throat and leaned in.." she hissed.

returning to her computer. "You require proof of my love." ." She picked one of the CDs up and removed it from its case. "Soon Keiichi san will be back in my arms." Sitri said." "Demons?" Urd whispered. "NO! STOP IT!" she screamed. her eyes going wide.Urd glared hatefully at her. But you continue to reject my love. Perhaps if certain characters were out of the way. Sitri smiled and took the CD in both hands. Oneesama! Do relax! Do you really think I'd bother to seal Belldandy at this point? These just happened to be a couple of demons who came a little too close.. and we'll be together. then so be it.. "Oh." the Norn went on... amazed at the implication.. realizing she had said a little too much." Sitri said casually... and I love you. "You are my dear sister. Sitri laughed girlishly. The Norn struggled in her bonds. If I must leave this realm with him. "Hild is looking for you just like Heaven is!" "It matters not. "Or was she in this one?" she asked. Just as I love Keiichi san. "You're off-mission. she addressed Urd again. whoever was in that CD. forever. screaming between clenched teeth. already knowing it was too late for Bel. "What are you doing?" Urd asked. Sitri flinched.. picking up the other CD.. "Was that the right one?" Sitri asked.. Holding it up. she broke the CD in two with a loud SNAP! Urd gasped and cried out in horror. "I see." Almost casually.

gods.. "Nor will our mother..." She squeezed." she said casually. but you're not. She said nothing. "In your crazy head.... You'll bring that boy down with you.. "But if you ever imply that I don't have Keiichi san's best interest at heart again... hand in hand!" She stepped forward and took Urd's head in her hands. And when the time comes. demons.. it's all in the name of love... and Sitri stepped back..." The demon was on her in a second! Before Urd knew it was happening. I will rip your soul from your body and wear it like a mink coat.. her cold eyes bearing down on the Norn as she went on. when Heaven. "You're going to hurt whoever you have to to get that boy back." Urd's head lolled from side to side. Sitri was hammering blows on her exposed face." Sitri hissed. Oneesama. or Mother. "I want you to be a part of our family.. forcing the Norn to look at her.. spitting enraged gibberish. or Hell. you think you're perfectly rational. "But it's important for you to understand. "It won't matter to you."You're insane. I will write my own destiny! And the story shall end with Keiichi san and I walking into the future together. will not write this ending. "You. Destiny gave Belldandy her chance and Destiny chose to take that chance away. or Belldandy. breathing hard as she regarded her work. mortals. Finally.. knowing the words meant nothing to the demon. You sick bitch. fought to remain conscious. and have him I shall." . the Norn powerless to stop it as the demon. will take that from me. You'll both die.. "I'm sorry that was necessary." Urd uttered. To be the sister I never had. beat mercilessly on the goddess. and you'll feel perfectly justified in it all. The demon squared her shoulders and looked at her sister regally. Oneesama.. bruised and bloodied. has you boxed in. and you won't even care. her face turning harsh as her nails bit into Urd's flesh.. And not you.. Urd. This is the way it's supposed to be..... to be the demoness I look up to." Urd went on quietly." Sitri listened. Destiny chose for me to have him. the demon's rage and bloodlust were sated... Because in that diseased head of yours.

she smiled. She had been so sure she would never feel it again. she delighted in its return." TO BE CONTINUED. Right now.." Turning. she just wanted to hold him. Her eyes opened as she felt him slump against her and gravity's pull started to drag him to the floor. she hit the "SEND" button. She would deal with them later.. . and now that it was here. AUTHOR'S NOTES: There's no song lyrics in this chapter. "First End" was written by Yumi Touma. Disclaimer: I don't own AMG. my Keiichi san. the warmth in his touch. "I love you. Leaning back. Sitri leaned forward and tenderly kissed her sister's head." She's the singer who did the AMG TV series opening and closings.Urd said nothing. feel his chest rise and fall with each breath. she walked back to her holotop. not giving the Norn another thought. but the scene where Belldandy remembers Keiichi and runs upstairs to meet him was inspired by Yoko Ishida's "Wandering Through the Empty Age. This song is the only one I've heard of her doing in English. There were going to be challenges ahead for them. Reaching out and taking the mouse in her hand. and that was fine. "You'll be home soon. Second Dawn Chapter 7 Second End Belldandy closed her eyes and just held him.. "Keiichi san?" she whispered in alarm..

Exhaustion dragged him kicking and screaming into sleep as Belldandy watched over him." "You won't. He tried keeping his eyes open. it took her only a second to answer. How many? she asked herself irritably. How many close calls must we have? How many times must I almost lose him before I simply seize the moment? Phrased that way. taking careful note of his face. "I'm sorry. Unable to stand it a moment longer... She put his arm over her shoulder and guided him to Oracle's bed.. "You should rest. she rose from her chair and climbed onto the bed next to him. she tucked him in and pulled up a chair so she could sit with him. "It's. supporting him as he dropped to his knees. "How do I know I'll wake up with my memories? I can't forget you again. Slowly helping him into it. but his head hurt and his body was weak from the mental pummeling it had taken all night. unsure if such a thing was acceptable by his standards or her own. Yes." "I don't want to. .She knelt with him. upstart mortal who had dared wish the unthinkable and changed her life forever. He swallowed and looked up at her." he whispered. wrapping her arms around him and spooning in behind the boy.. the true face of the young. not even able to lift his head to face her anymore." he said weakly." she agreed. It's been a long night." "Hai. The Norn felt a familiar twinge." she whispered with a smile. She watched him sleep for several minutes. realizing he had been going through the painful process of remembering his past life for several hours unlike her almost pleasant few minutes. it was the face she remembered.

. he'd disappear into nothingness forever." Before she could finish. 888 Skuld stepped up to the front door and gawked at the architecture. the door did open. She closed her eyes and squeezed him hard. as if she was afraid that if she let him go. "Skuld!" he cried happily. but she hadn't.. Finally. Nothing. Not one more time.. Reaching out.. "Open! Open! Open!" she said with each knock. "It's so good to see you!" the boy cried. "Yeah. she knocked loudly on the door and waited. the boy reached out and hugged her. and a strange man she had never seen before stood there. She had decided to take her sister up on her offer and come to dinner.Not ONE more time. she came right over. She had expected Belldandy to call her and let her know what time to be there. She tapped her foot impatiently and started knocking again. though. that's m.... It was weird. Oracle's house was old and seemed to take great pride in looking it. So once her day at the Yggdrasil Operations Center had ended.

. is the guy?" she asked." "Same old Skuld. . Not a short. nothing but muscle. "HE EVEN KNOWS MY NAME!" Skuld cried. She sniffled. "This. "Skuld. puny pervert with bushy eyebrows.. The boy hit the door with a loud THUMP just as Belldandy appeared in the hall behind him. "Hai!" Belldandy answered happily. unable to comprehend what she was hearing. "This strange guy just grabbed me!" Belldandy blinked. perv!" she shouted..." Keiichi said with a short wave." Keiichi muttered as he rubbed his head where it had impacted the door. "Ah! I'm so glad you came!" "Oneesama!" Skuld cried with tears in her eyes as she pointed at the boy. "Did he?" "YES!" Skuld cried. this is Keiichi san. and good to a fault. "He's probably been stalking me for weeks! Oneesama!" Belldandy smiled wanly. Skuld arched an eyebrow. She hadn't been sure what to expect. "Get off me.She roughly pushed him off her. "I was so scared." she said... gesturing to the boy. "Hey. but figured a guy that could get Belldandy all a-twitter had to be six-five.

that's me. just." he said nervously.. ".... much of it won't happen again. but.. but realized it wasn't necessary. over here." She looked at him sadly." Keiichi finished. "Why?" Skuld asked suspiciously.. you don't realize it.. .. "The people whose lives we touched over the years. All of it just........ Keiichi sighed... I owe you.. The boy had known who she was the moment he opened the door." "Yeah.." "It's sad in a way. never happened." The young Norn stepped into the hall." he told Belldandy quietly.. going to go..." "WE owe you..... and this is going to sound crazy. and rather disconcerting......" she said carefully before turning and running down the hall.. a lot. careful not to turn her back on the strange mortal. "So." He stepped toward her and took her hand.. "I'm.. "And look. "What happened? Did you sell me to gypsies or something?" Keiichi just smiled." she said. She found that odd." Belldandy corrected him with a smile. thank you. "And because of Sitri's interference. "I think that's going to be the hardest thing.Skuld waited for Belldandy to introduce her. well. "You're Keiichi.. prompting her to look up into his eyes...." she replied. "Reintroducing one another to people who no longer know us. "Skuld.We owe you.

dark-haired goddess entered.. "Hai?" The boy looked sheepish. who was cutting an onion nearby. "Maybe. "Step aside." "I can cut onions." Aurora rolled her eyes and stood back as her older sister took over. I want to be alone. A moment later." he interrupted. in some ways. step aside. The words made the goddess's pulse race.. the kitchen door opened and a young." He cocked his head toward the path that led to the dock. you're cutting them too small.. "I don't want to go back in there just yet. . with you. "So now we know what to look for and what to avoid.. She leaned against the far counter and watched." "Belldandy. She squeezed his hand.." he said. We just have to.. we can still touch those lives. "I feel the same way.. we can do it better this time. but not well." he finished in a whisper. And maybe. Maybe. Aurora.. Oracle." Looking up at him. "Dinner will be ready soon."But we remember. she changed the subject. "Oh. "You wanna go for a walk?" 888 Oracle dropped some vegetables into a stew pot and turned to Aurora." Oracle explained to her sister." She smiled." "Yes.

" Oracle told her simply.. don't you get that!" Oracle hissed. But aside from that. Oracle turned to Aurora as the buzz started again. "Don't you mean 'wrote?'" Aurora asked. Skuld blinked. "Yeah.." Oracle said. that one I'm still working on. kitchen knife in hand. "Demon interference! Near-insurmountable odds! A Creation-killing singularity!. And. everything is back on track! For the first time since this whole episode got started.. "No.."Hey. I mean 'righted!' It was wrong. anyway." "Shoot. "Yeah. yes. young Skuld.. prompting the other two goddesses to back away quickly.. now it's right! All is well!" Oracle spun around happily. not turning away from the cutting board.. The Norn let it go and got back to the subject at hand. Urd is still tracking down Sitri." Skuld went on. I was just curious about something and hoping you could answer a quick question for me." Skuld said. "What the heck did you do to my sister?" "We righted her destiny!" Oracle announced theatrically. "It's my Blackberry. The Dawn cleared her throat and reached for something on her belt. True. Did everyone in this house know her? "How do you know my name?" "You're part of the supporting cast. "Hello.. ." "Oh." Aurora invited. I'm optimistic about the future! What could possibly go wrong from here?" They heard a low buzz and blinked.

squaring her shoulders imperiously."Why not?" Aurora asked as the phone buzzed again. pointing out a falling star shooting overhead. Lying next to her at the end of the dock. "It's awful. looking down at the instrument and unlocking it. "It's the perfect literary lead-in for something awful. ." Aurora said." "It's probably just Hespera calling in her favor. "Dammit." Aurora said. "As your older sister. they had talked about unimportant things up until now." "Aurora!" Oracle said. She looked up to find Oracle glaring at her. isn't it?" the blonde asked. I command thee to put that Blackberry down!" The Dawn stared at her sister defiantly before hitting 'Enter. "I've read enough novels to see that she's got a point. she took a breath. not wanting to break the spell by invoking more immediate and important topics.' Looking down at the message." Keiichi whispered. "Yeah. a little. I guarantee there's something disastrous on that email." Aurora admitted. typing in the password." "That's stupid." she whispered. 888 "There's one." Skuld said with concern. "Probably wants me to take one of her shifts so she can go out. "Didn't you hear what I just said?" Oracle asked. "I don't know.

even now. "And some of them are just falling stars. It was time to talk about it.. "We can't be together. What if I just use my wish to wish that the singularity doesn't come?" he asked. "This is Heaven." Belldandy told him sadly. "We will." Belldandy told him..He blinked as a sudden question came to him. "Then it won't. I.. He felt her grab his hand and squeeze tightly. remember?" "But." "Dammit." . so where are those stars coming from?" "Many of them are goddesses returning from other realms." "Keiichi san.. "And then. I'd go back to Heaven and you'd go back to Earth. Doesn't that mean that. "Then being with you destroys the world. I don't want to speak of this right now.. with my mission complete.." she said.. can we?" he whispered." he went on." she replied.... "You only get one wish.." he hissed." "What if." His smile fell. "It's the way it's supposed to be.. though. "What if I ask for you to stay and for the singularity to not appear?" "It breaks the rules." "If you're right.

For now. "In the here and now." Keiichi turned his head and looked at her." "I do have faith. "Do you know why I don't fall?" "No." Belldandy argued." she said. Belldandy suddenly sat up and walked to the end of the dock. Nimbly hopping down. "Because I have faith. "To worry about all of those things. "There will be time. and it does." he said. it will do no harm.. for right now. I told you that it was less important to ask that than to simply accept the way things were and live in that moment. under this sky and know that everything will be all right. She closed her eyes and brushed her lips against his." she went on quietly.. I want to be with you. "Have faith. "I have faith in you. "Yeah." He said nothing to this. "Do you remember when I asked you why I don't fall?" Keiichi sat up and nodded. leaning up to him. Just as I have faith that things will work out. scooting forward so that his legs dangled over the end of the dock."It took three years to get to that point.." "And I you." She gave him a pleading look." she said." The goddess regarded him and cocked her head." he answered quietly. "At the time. Keiichi san. "I have faith that the water will support me." She smiled. she stood on top of the water and turned to him. saw the tear running down the side of her face as she looked up at the starlit sky. We won't have a choice. After a moment of silence. I'm with you.. . looking up at the stars and thanking the Almighty that we've been given another chance. And in the here and now.

like me...m... And I promise.'" Aurora read from the Blackberry as she circled the group sitting on the couches and chairs in the sitting room. but. The goddess broke the surface and sputtered as her eyes found Keiichi..." "We're really very very sorry!" Oracle begged quietly. I will simply have to amuse myself with her. Oracle and Aurora stood behind him. "'Otherwise. I mean. If.If nothing else. "There's. local time tomorrow night. "I. I will never pass up another opportunity to do this. Right now.." 888 "'The goddess Urd is enjoying my hospitality. All of us. so I have taken someone you love from you.'" Aurora lowered the Blackberry. you would like your loved one returned alive and mostly undamaged." .'" Tears ran freely down Belldandy's face as she listened. her eyes cast forward. Skuld. What. if the Almighty One sees fit to give us more time together. we have this. jeez. "But we need to talk. "Skuld!" she cried. There's an audio file attached.. she thought. then you will follow the directions I've outlined below and meet me at eight p.. I knew it!" Belldandy was so stunned by the sound of her sister's voice that she lost her concentration and fell into the water below with a loud splash! "Belldandy!" Keiichi cried. The Norn was mortified. "'You have taken someone I love from me.. unable to look at anyone else as Aurora read. "Oh...

"That's easy... "What do we do now?" Aurora asked. Sitri always had a temper. Keiichi wrapped an arm around her to comfort her. "Even when she was pretending to be angelic." Belldandy turned her haunted eyes to the owner of that statement and found Keiichi looking down at his feet.. "We can't let that happen. I.." "Play it.. prompting Belldandy to bury her face in her hands." "Skuld!" Belldandy snapped. And after what she did to those Valkyries.."What is it?" Belldandy asked." Belldandy begged. please.. Aurora swallowed and clicked the file.." He swallowed and nodded. "Belldandy." . She will do that to Urd." He finally raised his head and met her gaze. "She could do that to Urd." he said quietly." "And she's right. "We cannot give Keiichi to Sitri! That is simply unacceptable and. The sound of Urd's screaming filled erupted from the Blackberry's tiny speaker. unable to meet her gaze even as she begged him with her eyes to look at her. tears in her own eyes. still not facing her." Skuld said. "Keiichi san?" "Look. "We give her the mortal.

"My feelings have always managed to find you before.." Belldandy went on." "But maybe this is our chance to solve it!" he replied. "Putting you in danger in Neesan's place won't solve the problem. "She'll hide you. "Sitri is evil and insane." "She'll take you away." Belldandy whispered." The younger Norn deflated. smiling for her benefit. . we remember! We know how things are supposed to be! We have what? Four years of memories that she doesn't have! There's got to be an advantage in there somewhere!" Skuld put her finger to her lip and hmm'd in thought." Belldandy sniffled. Killing me isn't going to get her that."Keiichi san... "We put it on you and when this Sitri person takes you away. "I could build a homing beacon!" she said. placing her hands on his shoulders. that you'll find me." she breathed. He looked to Oracle and Aurora.." he said. she looked up at them brightly." "And you'll find me." he breathed. "I mean." Something inside Keiichi clicked. It'll be the first thing she checks for. but there must be some other way that doesn't involve putting you in danger. "I love my sister. "Your feelings always find me." "I don't think I'll be in danger... "I have faith.. it'll lead us right to you!" Aurora sighed." he replied. but she's not stupid." she said. Snapping her fingers. "Keiichi san. "Hai.. His head snapped to the empty chair by the window where Oracle sat during her free time. "She wants me to love her.

" "Why would they make such a trade?" "Why should they not?" Sitri asked. her finger pointed at the Norn." Sitri whined with a pout. Urd opened her mouth call out to her mother. Please. "I have taken a goddess prisoner." The demoness grinned. a mortal? No contest!" . Mama."Eh?" Belldandy asked. "I will trade her for my Keiichi san. She watched the boy rush to the chair and pick up a small. "How fast can you knit?" 888 Urd woke to the sound of voices nearby and turned her head." Sitri told her mother. but suddenly found a sock in her mouth! Sitri. She strained to hear what was being said and it took her a moment to realize just who Sitri was speaking to. "What is your plan?" Hild asked. blue box about a foot long and six inches wide. blinking in puzzlement at Keiichi's actions. "But I had to seal them. A goddess vs. you may continue. "If it impresses me. "Surely you understand the lengths a woman will go through to protect her loved ones? We can still win this. smiled at her before turning back to the compact. We can both get what we want. He rushed back to her and held it up to her. "Who is Keiichi Morisato to them? The only one who would protest is Belldandy. don't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory." There was a pause on the other end as Hild considered her daughter's plea. and the whore would be voted down. She could see Sitri speaking into a compact in her hand at the entrance of the tunnel.

"If they don't go for the deal. Mother! I swear it!" Sitri said happily.. take it like a woman and move on. "." Hild said." "You will send her back?" "Scout's honor!" Sitri said. grinning evilly.. Remember. "Indeed indeed!" Sitri assured her.. come now. Sitri waved the question aside as Urd tried shouting through the sock in her mouth... "Very well... in pieces. holding up her right hand. I don't need more dead demons or having to answer for more dead gods! Make your attempt." . "If it doesn't work. Sitri smiled. You may continue. "It's unimportant. Mother. I must still consider the Doublet System!" "Indeed."Which goddess?" Hild asked.. "Well. "And if they don't give you Keiichi?" Hild asked. and Urd could almost see her mother arching her eyebrow." she said. I will send the goddess back!" She closed her compact." "Yes. cutting the connection with her mother and looked at Urd. if they don't negotiate. The point is. Hild thought for a moment. this will work!" Sitri said excitedly. If they don't go for it. "Just a minor spirit I came across in my travels.

"From a very kind. "It's not like that!" she said... She looked up at him.. "Are you upset with me?" Her fingers stopped moving. it's too much." "Belldandy. the needles not pausing.888 He sat across from her... "Suddenly. as gently as he could. watching the darning needles in her hands fly so fast he could barely see them. and he wasn't sure if this meant she was fixed on her task or." she wept." she replied." "I received a phone call once.. my heart stopped beating. just didn't want to look at him. "Belldandy?" "Hai?" she asked. "I see. her fingers starting to move again. "I just.." He didn't say anything. "Who.. She didn't look at him. "And at that moment.. told me you were dead. soaking into the blue material and darkening it. And when Peorth arrived and told us about the singularity. about how . the world just wasn't the same." A tear fell from her eye and landed in the yarn." The goddess looked down at her lap again. "This risk." he whispered. "A little." she said.. her eyes begging him to understand. sympathetic policeman. Keiichi knew time was a factor. but he had to speak to her.

I hated her for it. and he squeezed her hands to force her to lock eyes with him. There was no way to win.. not even having time to wipe her eyes." The goddess looked up at him. "I'm not about to go through it again for a very long time. ." Belldandy went on....." She shook her head.. "You'll find me. "At least you could be happy! This plan. But how quickly?" she asked.... "How long will it take? In what condition? Sitri will have you. to have her life. you're going to find me. And Hild. have children with." he said.." Her fingers paused again. to have you. who you could grow old with." he told her quietly. Heaven. I would have given anything. my life. But that didn't work either. my goddesshood. all I could think was.. I thought I had my wish. "I would have given anything to get you back!" she cried. "I've died once.Creation was tearing itself apart. when she showed me that you could have a life where you were happy without me... 'Well.. and that frightens me more than anything... of course it is! Keiichi san is dead!'" Keiichi watched as two more tears fell into the fabric as she knit. as much as it broke my heart.. "Anything to just have you back home! And when we reset Yggdrasil." he told her.. but I did it. Earth.. I was able to let you go. placing his hand over hers and forcing her to stop knitting. I hated it. "Hai. "I need you to have faith in that too... Hell." he said confidently. Keiichi san." He swallowed and reached out. "You're going to find me. trying to soothe her nerves. "A woman you could love and who loved you. I would have offered up anything just to be her." Belldandy looked up at him with watery eyes. "And the Almighty One help me.." She looked down at the ground.." "Belldandy." "She showed me a world where you met a nice young woman. "Where ever she takes me. "But at least you were alive!" she cried quietly..

She tried to look away again. my love." "You have to save a place for hope. but his hand on her cheek stopped her. Keiichi san." "Belldandy." . Keiichi san. "I swear to you I shall find you." Keiichi leaned down as she moved up." The goddess continued to hold his hand on her chest and squeezed it.. If you can't believe in this. Kisses with Belldandy had always been rare. how can I?" "All the things I feel. He felt the goddess's heart beating under his fingers. "There's not much time. "I'm sorry. "Hope has a place. and he always treasured each moment of them." she whispered.." she whispered." She looked up at him and smiled. "I need you to believe that. "You're the reason I have faith to begin with. the smell of her perfume." he begged." He shook his head.. a tone of pleading in his voice. she took his hand and placed it on her chest. she let her fingers linger in his hair as looked into his eyes." he said. Keiichi. You are my faith.. "And I shall find you. "Hai." She looked up at him and blinked through the tears.. my dread. He did his best to remember every sensation.. No matter what.. "Hope has a place in here. My fear. the faint taste of strawberries and the acceleration of her heartbeat under his hand. catching her lips with his as she reached up and ran her free hand through his hair. causing the boy to blush just a bit. "In here. "Belldandy. When they finally parted.. Belldandy. Lowering the needles." she whispered.

holding her Sun Staff up in preparation for a trap. "Do you see her?" she asked anxiously. The mirror flashed again and Keiichi appeared. an orange campfire crackled happily. On the far side of this tunnel at the other side of the ridge." 888 The mirror sitting on the sandy ground shone brightly for a moment before Aurora rose from it and stepped off. "When this is over. Belldandy could make out two figures standing side by side. Belldandy rose gracefully from her travel medium and landed nimbly on her feet." . Urd waited. tripping as he ascended and falling into the sand. They were definitely in the boonies. It was in the middle of nowhere. unsure as to what exactly was to happen. In the orange glow. Sitri's determined eyes met theirs. Her eyes looked over the site Sitri had chosen for the trade. "It's her. Standing next to her. "Let's keep this simple and civil!" Sitri called out to them. natural tunnel in the side of a cliff. A moment later. She couldn't even see lights in the distance that would indicate a town or city. Millions of stars shone overhead. her arms bound behind her back by a set of emerald cuffs. swallowing nervously. She was standing near the entrance of a large." he told her. "First things first! Pick up that mirror and smash it against the rocks."There will be." Keiichi muttered. a shadow fell over the two figures until one held a hand up and summoned a ball of light. Aurora nodded toward the tunnel where something moved. While the moon illuminated the goddesses and the mortal.

kid. Keiichi started down the tunnel. As she passed. "I'll see you soon. shattering it into a million pieces. I'd love to spend quality time with my big sister!" Urd grit her teeth as she started to walk." Without another word. The Norn reached out and swung the mirror against the cliff face." Sitri called out. "Good luck." . Oneesama?" The Norn didn't answer.. "Now!" Sitri commanded." he breathed." Belldandy whimpered quietly. approaching the mortal boy." he said. She walked down the tunnel." "I know.. Why would. "Can't we just put this past us. "This is it. If he did.. "Piss off. she whispered to him.Belldandy picked up the mirror and regarded it quizzically. "Send Keiichi san and I send Urd. "Any attempt at a double-cross and I'll cut her down to wallet size!" Keiichi took a breath and zipped up his leather jacket. "I want to hug you. Let's get together and do lunch sometime. "Kiss you goodbye. but if she sees.. Sitri might pick up on it. Oneesama. Sitri smiled and gave Urd a light push. At the other end." Sitri sighed. "Go on. He couldn't look at her.

His eyes shot open as he felt the ground rumble and heard the sound of stone cracking behind him. confused by his words. thank the Almighty One!" she cried in relief." She blinked but kept walking." he said. "Thanks for always being there. They didn't hurt me. they disappeared into the fire's white smoke. As Keiichi approached. . causing him to step back a pace. "I knew you'd find me. Urd. Her hands roamed up and down his back. She suddenly leaned up and kissed him passionately. his thoughts running back home to Belldandy. searching for signs of abuse or bugs. Sitri ran up to him and hugged him. "Keiichi san!" she cried. Belldandy! he begged silently. Keiichi san! While we still can!" Before he could say anything.He nodded. but didn't meet her gaze. "I was so frightened for you when they took you away!" Keiichi choked back bile. slipping back into her role as easily as if she were putting on an old pair of slippers." "Oh. "Did they hurt you? Are you okay?" He summoned the best smile he could. "You always find me. leading him toward the campfire. "Quickly." "And I always will!" she promised. "I'm okay. Don't! You have to hold it back! Sitri pulled away and took his hand.

When she turned back. which then fell loosely to her sides. turning to her defiantly. "I just need a minute. She shook her head." she said. . she saw that Sitri and Keiichi had already disappeared. Rushing forward. "Neesan?" Belldandy inquired quietly. robbing her of an opportunity for a last glance at him. She felt a flash of very unladylike rage move through her. "Neesan? Are you okay?" Urd caught her eyes and nodded. she's going to end up killing that boy. "Yeah." "Urd!" Aurora hissed. Urd weakly fell to her knees. she took her sister's arm and helped her into the moonlight." Urd growled bitterly. "What?" Urd cried. She opened her eyes and saw Urd approaching. "You were right.888 Belldandy watched as the demon embraced her Keiichi and then kissed him full on the lips. Aurora." "What happened?" Aurora asked. then felt the ground moving under her feet as a result. Aurora stepped behind her and released the Norn's arms. she grabbed onto that jealousy and dragged it back into her heart. "She caught me. She had to be strong now. "I swear. More than crazy! She's psychotic!" She struggled to her feet as she ranted. Closing her eyes.. I'm okay. That demon is crazy. It wasn't the time for that.. Finally out of harm's way.

"You remember Mara?" Urd asked..Aurora nodded over the Norn's shoulder to Belldandy. Urd turned and found her sister there. She remarked on your ring. only with symbols of love. She said.. The goddess thought for a moment and turned to Belldandy. it hurts her. "Did you learn anything we can use?" she asked. Urd knew she was missing something and decided to keep her mouth shut for now until she could catch up on current events. but when she comes in contact with symbols of true love. we find them." Urd replied. "She represents the dark side of love. but even if." Urd's head was still spinning from her captivity and torment at Sitri's hands. "She's got a hideout. insisted that you had to have a boyfriend." she said. psycho. "I think Sitri's the same way.. Sis. "You still got that ring?" she asked.. "A tunnel of love. "It'll be okay." Belldandy said. We'll get him back before. "Belldandy." "But she's a love demon. 'only love burns. however. "Hai. we're still going to have to deal with Sitri. "And I think that's why it hurts her. Aurora. Creepy. started to grill her immediately. when. offering her hand to Urd so she could see it. "That demon we sealed years ago? Remember how she was weak against symbols of good fortune?" At Belldandy's nod." "Hai. we will. "We have a way to track him..'" ." Aurora began quietly..." Belldandy said assuredly. isn't she?" Aurora asked. she continued. tears in her eyes.." "What else?" Aurora pressed.

" Urd said. "Now!" "So what are we waiting for?" Urd cried. right?" "Yeah. Belldandy leapt skyward and started hopping from tree-top to treetop in a direction she hoped would lead her to civilization and a mirror."Wait a second. so he was a little thrown when he was thrown from a fireplace to land three inches from the mouth of a grizzly bear. I think so.. She saw Aurora and Belldandy share a horrified look. terrified by the revelation." Aurora finished. Aurora kicked the remains of the mirror's frame with her toe.." Aurora gasped in dawning horror... I'm the sunrise. but knowing urgency was called for. burn her? So. things like gifts. "She's mirrors. "Are you saying that symbols of love.. gaining confidence as it all fell together. "You see a Component City around here?" Before Urd could reply. and you're TVs.. There wasn't much time. "We must find him!" Belldandy cried. 888 Keiichi half expected to land at their house in Nekomi. "If she touches it. she'd know if she touched one of these things. not understanding everything. ." "She'll know she's been had.. "The sweater." Belldandy breathed." she said with disdain..

" She approached the boy and gently placed her hands on his chest." The boy was silent for a moment. landing on her feet with a triumphant smile. I." she purred. He took a look at the strange surroundings and found himself in a rustic but cozy cabin. "Yeah.. It's great. "Oh yeah?" he asked casually. A moment later. casually tossing a hammer onto a nearby shelf. . right? And it's the perfect place to hide!" It clicked in Keiichi's mind. "S. rushing into a nearby room across the hall from the kitchen.." "I missed you so much. The morning Belldandy took him to Heaven he and Sitri were going to a cabin in the mountains. "Now then.Crying out.. "That should make sure we're not disturbed.. He felt the air move around him and turned to see Sitri appear out of the smoke wisps in the fire." "Oh! One thing I have to do first! Be right back!" she told him. I went a little crazy.." he said hesitantly.. Sitri slinked back into the living room.Sitri. "It's. "Better late than never..... A fire roared in the aforementioned fireplace to his left. A comfortable-looking couch sat nearby and dark curtains covered the windows. "Ta-da!" she announced theatrically.. he scampered backward and took a breath as he realized it was just a rug. "When they took you. Keiichi watched her disappear through the doorway and flinched as he heard the sound of shattering glass followed by the sound of several grunts." she whispered.. hammer blows and smaller pieces of glass breaking. running her fingers down the front of his leather jacket...

"Hai. She waited for him to elaborate. setting her up for the goddesses to seal her. "It's that faith that sustains me. leaning into him." "I." he went on. For a moment.. so close to the ones he had spoken to Belldandy. the truth. at one point." This was the truth as he. Of course. the last two months seemed almost like a book he had read rather than his life. She drew a little circle on his chest with her finger. "I'm so happy you have faith in me. not you.. "A demon? Me?" "Yeah." It was weird hearing those words. with no mirror or TV. there was no way for them to get to him unless.. Keiichi san. Keiichi san... I knew. I would have done anything to get you back.." she breathed. He knew he had to say something at least close to the truth or else she'd get suspicious that he knew what she was... "Did they torture you?" "No.. he felt a swell of guilt for what he was doing. "They. "What did they do?" she asked. They said you were a demon. "They tried to say you were using me for some. With his old memories intact. diabolical scheme. felt that way.." Keiichi said. Sitri giggled. .. It seemed like another life." he replied. "I knew it was crap.. "I'd do anything for you.." she said as she hugged him.. I knew you would." he told her." Keiichi said. racking his brain.

.. What he saw made him freeze in his tracks." she said. Snow was whipping over the tiny front porch." He bit his lip and went all in. There was nothing outside the cabin but snow and trees. and the boy adjusted his leather jacket.. "Yeah.. all I could think of was being back with you and eating your wonderful cooking..... "Do you remember that seafood stew you made about a month ago?" "My Seafood Nagasaki?" she asked." he said. It looked like there was a small foot trail . while they were holding me." "Say no more!" she cried... At least three more hours until dawn. "I'll just make a run to the market and get what I need! You stay here and make yourself comfortable!" She gave him a quick kiss.He looked up at a nearby clock. It was three a. here. "That's a lot of ingredients I'd need to get.. Sitri suddenly stepped back. You know what really sounds good?" he asked. I was just hoping that. she hopped into the fire and disappeared. Realizing he might not get a better chance. Are you sure you wouldn't prefer something right now that I. intending to run to the nearest neighbor's house and find a mirror. and a long prep time... "You must be starving! I'll cook for you! What would you like?" Keiichi searched his mind for a way to stall for time.. "Back soon!" Without another word. "Yeah. Keiichi rushed to the door and threw it open. "It's just that. "Um.. Sitri smiled and waited for him to continue." "Hmmm.m.. clasping her hands in front of her. "Oh my!" she cried.

" The exhaustion catching up with her.. A few days ago. 888 Urd had to struggle to keep up with her sister as Belldandy leapt from tree-top to tree-top. "But what's going on? Where are you going? You don't even know where they are!" "I'll find him. The goddess who stood before her now was somehow more mature. "Hold on! I can't. Belldandy turned and headed back to check on her. . his eyes wide. He was trapped. "Belldandy!" she called out. more sure of herself. she left a Belldandy who doubted herself and was nursing a crush on a mortal boy. Sitri had chosen a place that would not only keep the goddesses from finding him but would keep him trapped there. He stepped back inside and shut the door. Finally noticing her sister's situation. He knew if he stood outside for more than ten minutes." Urd said. The mortal swallowed nervously.. no snowmobile and no light. Urd regarded her sister in puzzlement. Urd landed on a rock outcropping to catch her breath." Belldandy replied. But she knew Sitri. Belldandy was running as if Hild herself was after her. I'm good. he'd freeze to death. landing next to her as Aurora finally caught up..leading into the dark forest but there was no car. "Neesan!" Belldandy cried. "Are you all right?" "Yeah. yeah. It was more than just being exhausted from her time with Sitri..

Urd blinked and shook her head as if trying to make sense of her sister. closing her eyes. "And then what?" she repeated loudly. The half-demon gently put her hands on her sister's shoulders and lowered her voice."And then what?" Urd asked her. "Sitri isn't some Vector daemon causing flu outbreaks! She's got power! A power born from her twisted vision of love and a potent hatred for anyone who would interfere with it!" "I know. When I fought her last time." Belldandy said. "You know? You know? A few days ago you called the NOSC in tears because you were so afraid of her! Now what? You're going to bust down her front door. Sis! She'll kill you! She wants to kill you! So bad she can taste it!" "If I do nothing. Now I have Keiichi san. "Belldandy.. "You said it yourself.. it was different.." "The power of love?" Urd asked in amazement. "That's your plan? You're going to defeat her with the power of love! This isn't some romance novel. She smiled.." Belldandy whispered. "You told me how. Now." "What?" "Hai. a tone of challenge in her voice. She's weak against love." the Norn said." "I can. yell 'BELLDANDY SMASH!' and throw her out the window?" Belldandy said nothing." .. hoping to get through to her. you can't beat her. I had nothing to fight for. Keiichi san will die..

"As you wish. That's just how it's supposed to be. "Maybe. "Destiny still has a say. All she knew was that her sister was walking into danger for the sake of a boy she had only known a few days.. that sounds good. happy that she could bring him joy and knowing that she would soon take joy from him for herself. Neesan. "How about a drink?" she asked softly.." Belldandy gave her a venomous look that softened to one of pity." 888 Keiichi forced the last spoonful of soup into his mouth and swallowed." he said. "I'm going to find him." "Yeah.. anger and fear. She didn't know Keiichi. didn't remember him. And I'm going to save him." she said." She left the cigarettes on the end table and went back to the kitchen. "Cocoa? Maybe with a shot of peppermint schnapps?" She stood up and led him to the couch. gently pushing him down into it." he said. Or I will die in the attempt. He saw her blink." Urd looked at her in a mixture of pity.. but that Urd was gone. "That is not the way it is supposed to be..." Belldandy assured her. There was a time when her older sister would have thrown herself into danger on the boy's behalf. but. "I'll fix it while you relax with a cigarette. "Have faith. He offered the demon sitting on the other side of the table a smile.Urd paused. . It wasn't Urd's fault." Belldandy whispered with a smile. You've had a rough few days. "I'm quitting. Sitri watched him as he finished his meal.. "They'll be here if you change your mind.. no smokes. the goddess side of her hating herself for what she was about to say. Sitri giggled.

"We'll hide here for awhile.Sitting closer to the fire." she said. and not even death will part us. "Sitri!" Keiichi asked. kissing him before resting her head on his shoulder with a smile. She had taken him from Belldandy." Before the boy could come up with some excuse not to. She'll find me. the mortal started to get warm. Her eyes flashed open as that itching became something else. Her hands were running up and down his back. she placed it on the end table and stepped toward him. The demon adjusted her head." she whispered. It must be wool. he thought. His heart raced. feeling the skin there dry and flake to her touch.. Sitri had won. The material in his sweater was making her itch. She will. watching them turn a dark.. "Then we'll start over where they'll never find us. "My Keiichi san.. Gasping in pain. Sitri emerged from the kitchen with a cup of cocoa. but it was out of fear rather than emotion. "Are you all right? What is it?" . "All mine. He belonged to her now... she stepped back and looked at her hands. He pulled off his leather jacket and placed it over the back of the couch. the demon embraced him. We'll be together forever. His hands touched the fabric of the blue sweater he had worn beneath it.. angry red.. her hips swaying from side to side.. Smiling. She reached up and touched her cheek where it had cuddled against his shoulder." She closed her eyes and savored the feeling of possessing him so completely.

... Sitri stood up and looked down at the befuddled and frightened boy below her. She tasted his lips. cheating. something the demoness had never... Stunned.. searching for something she hoped she wouldn't find.. It was strawberry lip gloss.. ever. ." Before he could finish. "Sitri! What are. Because so help her if she did.. She growled.. But Sitri wasn't kissing him. She recognized the bitter taste of her own lipstick... her mind inventoried. It wasn't strawberries the fruit.... noodles. or strawberry syrup. the food he had had for breakfast that morning and. worn. or strawberry ice cream. soup stock.. As the skin on her cheek started to peel away. Shrimp. Keiichi didn't move. clueless as to what was happening to the demon.... "Sitri?" "You. bastard. Strawberry. the demoness leaned down and ran her tongue over his lips." she bit out. She went down the list of everything that had touched his lips in the last few days. Sitri grabbed him by either side of the head and pushed him down to the couch..She grit her teeth as rage flowed through her.. Keiichi stared at her in horrified awe..

It's not what you think. "Sat there in the sweater that strumpet. suddenly grabbing him by the throat.. "Wait!" She grabbed the neck of the sweater and watched thin wisps of smoke float up from between her fingers. "You sat there while I cooked for you. she ripped the sweater from the boy and tossed it into the fireplace. gave to you!" "Sitri!" he croaked as he struggled for breath.. lifting him off the ground. finding blood smeared there." she hissed... He heard a sickening pop and cried out in agony as his arm popped out of its socket. a ball of ice falling from his throat into his stomach. . "It's."Sitri?" he asked again. "She KISSED YOU!" she screamed at him before tossing him to the other side of the room like a rag doll. He turned as he felt her fingers around his neck again.. With a quick yank. that whore. "No!" he cried. Keiichi felt liquid seep into his eye and touched his forehead with the fingers of his good hand. gasping in pain. "Where do you get the balls to do such a thing to me?" she demanded. The next moment he was flying across the room. holding his dislocated shoulder with his left hand. her eyes closed as if she were trying to hold back.. coming to a sudden stop as his right shoulder struck the wall. Sitri stood over him. Sitri looked down at him with wrath in her eyes as the mortal writhed painfully on the ground. He felt himself rise into the air as Sitri lifted him bodily from the couch." he sputtered out. The boy hit the ground.

he had told her that he was sure Sitri wouldn't kill him. pushing himself toward the front door while Sitri was distracted." she told herself. "He's a mortal man. the boy suddenly realized there was nothing keeping her from beating him to just this side of death and then healing him.. While that might be true. and maybe find civilization before he froze to death. "Calm down." she said quietly to herself. I want to forgive you. Sitri.... Every plan has flaws...When Keiichi had reassured Belldandy of this plan." Keiichi didn't think it was very cute as a fresh flash of pain from his shoulder wracked his body." He was halfway to the door when Sitri picked him up again and planted his back firmly against the wall. meanwhile.. This is our first one.. Sitri. "Just calm down. hoping to see a mirror.. we need to talk about your fidelity problems. it's the way they're wired.. it's divine.. Forgiveness is divine.. He looked around desperately. Forgiveness.. but he realized that Sitri was too smart for that. "But before I do.. Sitri swallowed...." she said almost rationally. Help wasn't coming. he's weak. was still ranting to herself.. Sitri.. He kicked out with his feet. he could make a run for it. "Keiichi san.." .. just so she could do it all over again. Maybe if he could get outside.. Yes. It's actually kind of cute. we need atonement first. Every couple fights. "Men stray.. but we need atonement..

"I know after this. Keiichi grabbed hold of the other curtain in a desperate bid to resist. we'll have a greater appreciation for one another's feelings." "I offer you everything. the sun started to rise. your soul. You must hurt on the outside as much as I hurt on the inside. launching him across the cabin again." . The sky outside was turning orange. "When you cavort with shameless tramps like Belldandy." she said almost sympathetically." she said. You must be made to feel a pain equal to what I felt when I discovered your dalliances. All I ask in return is your love. and Keiichi fell back to the floor.. Sitri shoved him roughly against the wall." "Oh.. Outside. it hurts me. my soul. that you'll never stray again. grabbing the curtain to try to pull himself up. and your faith and fidelity." He felt the demoness take hold of his ankle and start to pull him away from the window. "I'm doing this because I love you. Keiichi san. "Shoot. my love. your heart."Okay.. "Not yet. Keiichi san." Sitri said with a smile." "I'm sorry?" he tried. I promise this won't take more than another hour or so. "Ever. It hurts my heart." he muttered. you're not." Sitri said as she made her way to him. the curtain falling on top of him. He cried out in pain as Sitri grabbed his dislocated arm and swung him around by it.. Keiichi san. I don't enjoy hurting you like this. you must atone for your actions. Because I know that after all of this.." he let out weakly. "Keiichi san. "Come now. "Before I can forgive you. He landed near the front window and struggled to his knees." In a flash of anger... "My heart.." The curtain rod gave way under his weight.

the light of the rising sun illuminating her combat outfit and the golden staff in her hands. the bangles at the end jingling against one another. just an anger born of seeing a loved one in pain. "This will only take a few moments. . so unnatural on her. Sitri dropped Keiichi's ankle. "Nonsense! Keiichi and I are lovers! Soul mates! Isn't that right. Keiichi san?" "I think I'd like to see other people. An expression of fury. The Norn raised the staff. Belldandy stood at the far wall. "Leave him alone. "He's yours no longer. hon." Sitri said with a predatory grin. didn't fidget. "Belldandy. "So the slut herself appears!" Sitri announced theatrically.Sitri stopped as she heard a new noise. The light jingle of brass on brass." she said to him as she turned to this new threat." Belldandy ordered. Turning. "Get away from my boyfriend!" she hissed. only seconds from passing out from his injuries." Keiichi commented weakly. marred her face. Belldandy didn't move." Sitri smiled and laughed. "Belldandy!" Keiichi gasped out painfully. she saw something that amazed her. There was no fear in her eyes this time.

Sitri would continue to hurt him. to fight for? The staff felt heavy in her hands." She turned back to Belldandy. throwing her back against the wall. Help wasn't coming. "That feeling will pass.."You're just upset.. That last time I had nothing. .. "And you are interrupting our vacation. The boy looked to the window." Sitri said.. The silver whips stopped a foot short of the Norn and struggled to get to her. "You can't hold out against me forever.. no one. struggling to his knees. channeling her power into holding back the dark attack." "Belldandy!" Keiichi cried. Belldandy. If she stayed.. Belldandy was facing Sitri alone. She's so strong! she thought. burning her fingers. If she left now. With no mirrors or TVs. "Belldandy!" he cried again. "Just get out of here! Run!" Struggling to keep Sitri's attack at bay. Belldandy had traveled through Aurora's travel medium." Raising a hand. two bands of silver light leapt from the demon's fingers and slammed against the Norn. It began to heat up under the relentless assault. Are these her feelings for Keiichi san? Sitri smiled at her as the silver bands of light continued to assault the Norn's defenses. but there was only time to send her. Belldandy cried out and raised the staff. What did I tell Neesan? she asked herself. Belldandy could only just make out Keiichi's words. saw that the sun was fully up and realized the desperation of their situation.

. moving down her arms to her hands where it escaped and became two bands of gold. Our love.This is not the power love gives someone. Sitri took a step toward her. the arm hanging loosely at his side. wrapped around the grey whips of Sitri's emotions and made their way toward the demon like fast-moving vines. but faces and feelings. of their few and far-between kisses. her love.. The love she shared with Keiichi had not only touched their lives. The tendrils of light. Belldandy's eyes went to Keiichi.. And their love touched Keiichi and Belldandy.. True love is not shared by two alone.. she thought. It was Belldandy's feelings.. that is pure. her love. increasing the pressure on the Norn. not just memories of events and places. The demon cried out as the light began to burn her. The wisps of light touched her hands and ran up her arms. Memories of Keiichi smiling at her. .. of dancing. working together to build their life together in Nekomi. of their sporadic moments alone. its obsession. Belldandy looked up as a golden light spread out from her heart. Before Sitri thought to disengage. and she knew then what it was. Sitri realized she was being attacked and poured more power into her own. his bloodied face. It is the lives it touches. she thought. it was too late. but the lives of their friends and families. It's not pure. and its purity burned Sitri like acid. The Norn closed her eyes and let memories of her and Keiichi's life together come to the fore. She stood there. her eyes closed as the golden light moved closer and closer to Sitri.. but Belldandy seemed unaffected. ... wrapping themselves around her body. It was no magic spell or blast of energy... This is its dark side. The silver bands broke through and wrapped around Belldandy's staff. its jealous rage. That is what Sitri's love has wrought.

I promised I would. that what she thought was love was nowhere close to what she was seeing now. The CD erupted in a bright green flash. "Keiichi san. looked at Belldandy as the green light began to pull her into the seal. She smiled. Tossing it toward the demon. "You found me." she wept. Belldandy looked down at the disk and let out a breath. and she ran to him. "Hai. He looked up at her and smiled. the label visible. Belldandy reached into a pocket in her cloak and drew out a CD. dropping the staff as she knelt next to him. Hearing Keiichi grunt in pain nearby broke her out of her thoughts. and Sitri disappeared." Belldandy whispered in understanding. Opening her eyes and seeing Sitri in such pain. Sitri. are you okay?" The mortal boy rolled painfully onto his back. tears in her eyes. and Belldandy gently touched his face as she assessed his wounds. "I know. She wept as she realized the terrible secret. "Keiichi san!" she cried. the CD touched Sitri's forehead and began to glow with an eerie green light." . The disk hit the ground. When the Man Comes Around.The demon screamed and struggled in its grasp as she was exposed to what real love was." he said. "I love him so much.

Keiichi san." he whispered." he admitted guiltily. ." he confessed. "Better. she'll find some semblance of peace. he turned to her.." "That is your strength.. "It's weird.. Taking a look around at the trashed cabin. "Sealed. "So.... even in evil.. now what?" he asked quietly.. mending his injuries." "Belldandy. The goddess stood up as Keiichi climbed carefully to his feet. It's one of the reasons I love you. "How do you feel?" He moved his shoulder and found the pain had gone.. even looking back on it..." she said." he said. "Perhaps. "You remember the good." She smiled down at him. I don't think she was faking it." Belldandy finished. "Sitri?" he asked. before I remembered you.. she channeled healing energy into him." "I hope so. "There were times when.. "Yeah. with time." she said as she healed him.." "And you feel something for her.. When.Placing her hands on his chest and shoulder. before you came back.... "I remember my time with her.

and the sun doesn't come up again for another twenty-four hours. "Then we're alone here.." he said." she said. Hild has agreed."We should return to Heaven. she stays in that seal the full five hundred. "So you're good to go!" Aurora finished happily. "Well. It seems she cares about her daughter after all. "Aurora had an idea for what to do if I managed to seal Sitri. "No TV.." "And how do we do that?" he asked. If Hild or any other demon comes after you during that time. happy life without having to worry about her coming after you. "It's done!" "Done?" Urd asked. plenty of time for you to live a long. it was like things were back to normal. "Eh?" Belldandy asked." "Who would have guessed?" Urd whispered sardonically. "You can go home whenever you want!" . Sitri will remain in her seal for one hundred years." he pointed out. "They came to a deal. 888 Aurora entered the sitting room with a triumphant look on her face. There are no mirrors. She smiled. I suppose we'll have to wait. "I could cook breakfast. She turned to Keiichi." she said. "Done!" Aurora repeated." At that moment." She cutely put her finger to her lip in thought. "That would be great.

. Aurora wasn't dense enough to miss what was passing between them." Belldandy replied sadly.. she went on. don't you?" They blinked.." she said in a more subdued tone. she had gotten the full story out of Belldandy and Keiichi and couldn't believe there was nothing that could be done.." Aurora replied. the end of the world. "You two still have business. "The wish. scratching the back of his head. "Then." Keiichi said. clearing his throat. Over the past three days. At their questioning look." Oracle pointed out. and now that it had. "This is crap." "And you are owed." "Jumping the gun a little.. "Go home?" He turned and caught Belldandy's eye." he whispered.. What's the worst that could happen?" "Um.Keiichi swallowed." Belldandy said in realization. "Just go with him anyway. "So. The goddess looked back at him sadly. They had spent the last three days in Heaven.." Urd remarked. aren't we?" Oracle interrupted from her chair as she knit a sweater.. "I keep forgetting that in this timeline you haven't granted me one yet. "Yeah. I guess this is it." Keiichi said. "Yeah. "I guess. waiting for Aurora's plan to bear fruit. "Hai.. The two stared at one another.

" Urd supplied. What's the problem?" "Being with Belldandy destroys the world.... "One of the problems with script writing is that words mean something. what was the wish that started all this?" Oracle asked. the words forever seared into his mind.He sighed. "And what is the word shared in both the problem and the cause?" Oracle asked." "Who said you can't have what you want?" Oracle asked... let me make you happy. "Now." Belldandy looked miserable. "If I can't wish for what I want... . Think about it. I know that. "Keiichi san. we can't be together.. but please. "Wrong!" Oracle cried in response.. "Try again!" "Being in close proximity to a goddess over an extended period of time causes a linked singularity between Keiichi and Yggdrasil. just one more time.. "'Goddess?'" Aurora answered. please. "That a goddess like Belldandy always stays by my side." Keiichi replied. "Correct! You get a cookie!" "Same difference. "What's the point?" he asked in resignation. She sighed." Urd grumbled. I might as well sell it on Ebay." Aurora explained.

Keiichi san. I think I know what I would like you to grant me. Keiichi looked from Oracle to Belldandy and back again.." . Keiichi san. "It belongs to us both. And I'll sacrifice what I must to make that so." She squeezed him." Skuld threw in." she said." Keiichi swallowed and took a breath." "Belldandy.. I want to be with you.. "This is home. "I. We both have a dream. If we want to live that dream.. "This is what it really means. "No. "It would be a shame to derail Destiny for the sake of a single word. Belldandy stepped back three paces and smiled.." he said the familiar words..." she whispered... 'Heaven' is a word you call a place. "Wait! No! I. ne?" The two looked at one another in hopeful realization... Keiichi san." he whispered in awe. But this." "I don't like where this conversation's going... you're a.Oracle waited for Keiichi and Belldandy to get it. I can't do that to Belldandy!" He looked at the goddess. this.. I want this... I mean.. "I would like. "Hai?" Belldandy prompted with a smile. This is your home! I can't." She stepped toward him and wrapped her arms around him. "It's not just your wish anymore. "Do it. "Can it really be that easy?" Belldandy whispered.. we have to be willing reach out and take it. "Belldandy.

. and Belldandy fell to the ground in a heap. helping the Norn sit up as her eyes fluttered weakly. a woman like you." Belldandy touched her forehead. but Belldandy remained in the air." Skuld whispered. If it did. processed and an answer sent back." Belldandy smiled as the emblem on her forehead began to glow. her eyes shut as the wish request was sent.." . smashing into the glass ceiling above them and into the sky. "I.. sublimating from the Norn's face leaving only unmarred skin. "Belldandy!" Keiichi cried. to always be by my side. The rest of them ducked as glass rained down from above. Keiichi watched anxiously.. With a crack. I feel strange. The air around them became electrified and began to swirl around them at hurricane strength.. "Her emblem's gone. "Keiichi san?" she asked tiredly. The goddess rose a foot into the air. unsure as to whether or not this would even work. unable to tell if that was true or not. Urd and Skuld rushed forward to help her but were unsure of what they could do. Would simple word-play be enough? ". wondering if Oracle was right or wrong.. the earring shattered. The other goddesses gasped as the blue emblems on Belldandy's face began to dissolve. The beam of light tapered off.. golden light. A blue beam of light shot upward from Belldandy's emblem. "Belldandy? Are you all right?" "Look at her face."Hai?" He paused. and the others watched as cracks appeared in the jeweled seal that kept the full force of Belldandy's goddess powers at bay.. The air stopped moving. Keiichi. Her earring began to glow with a pale...

finding a steady. "What the heck did you do to her!" "He granted my wish. Belldandy reached down to push herself up and cried out in pain. "You got your wish. "Let's get her to bed so she can rest. Urd grabbed her hand and looked at it. "I don't know!" Keiichi replied." "Wait!" Skuld cried. Staring into them." "WHAT?" Skuld cried. "Belldandy. She turned to Keiichi and growled. she saw crimson blood in her palm.. The half-demon smiled wistfully. But it wasn't there." she said.. but the spark of light that came with immortality and the power of the cosmos itself was gone." Belldandy whispered with a smile. she pulled a small shard of glass from her hand and continued to stare at it. Grabbing her sister's wrist. I'm bleeding. "You're not a goddess anymore. slow pulse. "I'm.. Holding her hand in front of her face. . Wincing. Urd found herself looking into the eyes of a wonderful person with a good heart. "Is Oneesama okay? What's going on?" It was Belldandy's eyes that sealed the deal." she whispered. saw the smear of mortal blood in her sister's palm. She looked up at Belldandy incredulously. She smiled happily. She wasn't sure if it detracted from her beauty or added to it."What should we do?" Keiichi asked. Sis." He started to help the goddess to her feet.. "Did it work?" Urd asked. she pressed two fingers into the back of her forearm.

giving Keiichi enough money to put a deposit on a new apartment above a video rental store. This." EPILOGUE With Keiichi and Belldandy's wish granted and the threat of the singularity removed from play. and he had to agree. go ahead. but comfortable. Oracle looked very pleased with herself. is only the beginning of the rest of the story." She looked up at Keiichi.. he turned and jumped in surprise. the two mortals returned to Earth to begin their lives anew. While the Duchess of Malebolge may have been certifiably insane. looking up from her bleeding hand with a bright smile. and they were starting fresh.. Megumi. It wasn't the temple. an expectant look on her face.. The box emptied. who grinned down at her. Aurora sighed.. "This. Big Brother?" Megumi asked..Standing off to the side. This was a new life." Keiichi said. Looking at her. "Hey. but that had been a different time. I guess you earned this one. "How was your trip?" . "What's up. Keiichi placed the box on the counter and started to unpack. And before a dream can come true. she was also fiscally responsible and had insured their house. it must first end. "Oh." Belldandy had called it." Belldandy told her. "Cozy. It was all a dream. The new apartment was small. "The End!" "No. "It's not the end! Don't you see? What's past is prologue." "And they both lived happily ever after!" Oracle announced theatrically. standing not two feet from him. a different life. a dream..

heh heh.. and I can only assume that it has something to do with your phone call. So. "The plot thickens. "Belldandy?" he called. "Belldandy san? What. "Keiichi san and I live together!" Megumi's eyes narrowed as she turned to her brother. there were a great many differences between goddesses and mortal women. While she welcomed the new emotions and sensations that came with mortality... Explanation?" "Well.... A sense of peace is difficult to find when trying to accustom oneself to the hormones generated by the body of a young woman.." he replied nervously. Keiichi opened the front door as he removed his motorcycle helmet and stepped inside the apartment. Megumi blinked in surprise. had the most difficulty in this new situation. Despite outward appearances." she noted." 888 Belldandy.." Keiichi began."Keima and Takano say hi. and the new sense of adventure that came with learning the ins and outs of the life of a mortal.. "Are you here?" . "Heh. of course. the knowledge that she was now able to bear children. "Ah! Megumi san! Welcome home!" Belldandy cried as she entered the apartment with another box.. What are you doing here?" Megumi asked her.... "Here we go again. she still had to learn to deal with the physiological differences between goddess and woman." Megumi replied darkly.. "My apartment has been ransacked...

"Urd and Skuld. "When did you apply? We've only been here for a few days!" "I didn't!" she said.. Although Urd and Skuld could not spend significant amounts of time on Earth. starting to feel confused herself. Keiichi looked over the mail on the counter. He handed the envelope to Belldandy. That's great!" he finally said. "Bank of Nekomi. I. handing it to her." he said. How.He closed the door and turned just in time to see the young former goddess crash into him. She smiled triumphantly and held the letter up. the two did have help." they said in unison.. "It says your new debit card is enclosed. puzzled. "I've been accepted to Nekomi Tech with a full scholarship!" she declared." . "You going to send it back?" he asked... "I could. 888 While Keiichi had to learn to adjust to his new memories and find ways to explain Belldandy's presence.. The boy blinked. they were willing to help their sister by using Yggdrasil to hack Earth computers while no one was looking. "You got something from NIT. She paused as she considered the idea. The boy cried out as his girlfriend knocked him to the floor. kissing him full on the lips.. Keiichi found another envelope with her name on it.." she noted as she opened the envelope." he said. "But my sisters did go through a lot of trouble. "But." "They really shouldn't use Yggdrasil like that. It came to them at the same time..." she said.. who blinked and opened it.

" he said. taking her hand... "Time to start dinner.. breaking the moment... "Yeah... you could have a stable job." Keiichi coughed.maybe... he suddenly froze and cleared his throat." he said.. I." "Yeah?" he replied noncommittally. "It would be nice if you could get that job you wanted. She felt a warmth in her cheeks as she smiled.. nice as it was. handing the next one to her. "It would be nice if.." Belldandy blushed brighter." she declared." Turning back to the mail.. "Please remember to finish your foreign language credits on time." He looked down at her hand. "." she said.. Belldandy looked up at the clock and saw it was getting near dinner time. "Keiichi san?" "Yeah?" he asked. maybe I could get you a new ring... "Hai. "How about we take it easy tonight? We could order take-out and rent a movie.. perhaps.He smiled.. "What would you like?" "I have an idea. Belldandy looked down at the issue of Modern Bride with her name on it. "Hai. I bet they did. after we graduate. "Then. I would like that very much. clearing his throat nervously. Then." . at the ring that still rode her finger. and blushed.." she said softly. "I think this one is courtesy of Urd.." he said.

. Belldandy watched him walk out and picked up the phone.Belldandy had to admit the idea was appealing. embracing him. Belldandy had been right. "You've reached the Earth Help Center! Fortunately for you. I'll run downstairs and rent something. She heard someone pick up on the other end. Everything they had done in the other timelines led to this. just as long as they were. "Hello." she said. you have been selected to receive a wish from a goddess! I shall be there shortly to discuss your needs. he grabbed his keys and wallet and started for the door. so please wait one moment!" The person hung up. Her smile lit up the room. It never really mattered how the two were together.." Releasing her from the embrace. they could finally let their love bloom." "Hai!" "What would you like to see?" he asked. she dialed the number for the Chinese delivery place down the street. and you order the food. "That sounds wonderful. Humming happily. "Sounds good to me. The past was prologue. . She was tired from moving boxes and unpacking all day. I. Destiny had returned to its proper track. For the two mortals." she said. Not having the powers of an all-mighty being did have downsides. Things had returned to normal. "Something where the boy gets the girl in the end.. After three years of constant challenge. He squeezed her and kissed her forehead. "Okay. He smiled." "Hi Hi!" she heard a familiar voice call out..

and a figure bathed in light rose from the camera's lens as Belldandy looked on in horrified realization. drinking some cocoa and going to bed.. "You. Well. "I'm taking a bath. who sat in her chair. are a cold. casually knitting with a knowing smile on her face." she breathed. "Am I?" "I thought you were going to cut them some slack?" Aurora asked accusingly. 888 Aurora closed the binder with Oracle's latest draft of the script and narrowed her eyes at her sister." "Oh.. Hearing a rattle nearby. Aurora gave up. "Oh no.Belldandy stood there.. don't be angry. Oracle heard the bathroom door slam and sighed. Aurora!" Oracle begged with a smile. . The lens cap popped off. anyway. "Just because I'm rooting for them doesn't mean they get to have it easy!" The Dawn didn't answer. Oracle stopped knitting and looked up at her little sister innocently. normal for THEM. wide-eyed. she turned and saw the camera Keiichi had recently bought from Megumi starting to glow. "How would that be funny?" Oracle countered. Not knowing how to respond to that." Aurora noted. she quietly whispered to herself. Returning to her knitting... evil goddess..

And despite my inclination to rush right into a brand new exciting fic the way WillZ wants me to.. I have to admit. "Hope Has a Place" ... the. I hope you liked it.. END AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well. that's the end of Second Dawn.Enya "Sanvean" .Yoko Ishida .. ENTITLED.Gary Jules "Walking Through the Empty Age" .. Special thanks go out to my prereaders. I feel inclined. no. Which. to do the same.. is pretty freaking likely. SethraK (whose mighty Grammar Mallet. NEW fic idea.. so that's the plan until either I deploy or I get distracted by a bright." . shiny.Sarah Brightman "(You're the) Devil in Disguise" ... cut the number of commas and exclamation points in this fic down to about 500 from its starting point at 1. So here's some of the music that helped inspire this fic."And they all lived happily ever after... WillZ (who never met an opportunity to add a lesbian relationship to a fic he didn't like) and my wife.) Since Yumi Touma did it at the end of her book.7 billion.... I did promise to finish Choix. Gramjolnir.Elvis Presley "Mad World" .. for the most part.

Johnny Cash .Concrete Blonde "One of These Days" .Michelle Branch "Landslide" .Stevie Nicks "The Man Comes Around" ."Joey" .