All actions beget an equal and opposite reaction. This is the way; this is known. Yet the measure of some actions cannot be taken within mortal comprehension, and their direct consequence can send ripples through space and time. In this way, entire dimensions split and merge, ages unravel, and universes are created. But for all the intensity this implies, sometimes that which follows can have far more simple and subtle an effect. On occasion, the greatest of causes can leave in their wake only a single, tragic result.
Following her expulsion, her channelling of a hundred thousand bitter regrets, Yoiko Hibiki is brought to earth in a dark ripple of dizzying power. The black sheath about her emerges into the familiar back garden of her childhood home, depositing her upon the cool grass as slowly and gently as the falling of an autumn leaf. The universe does not care about this young girl - the world she has saved possesses no more awareness than it's inhabitants. She is nothing, still; except to the one person who owes her the most.
Emi appears on her knees a moment later, her hair black-within-black, amber eyes glistening still with tears. The tremble of her lip is held, her expression fixed in stoic sorrow as she lifts her gaze to her dear friend. A friend she has betrayed. Slowly, a hand lifts, so softly alighting upon Yoiko's own. The slender goddess sends out a prayer that becomes a balm, easing what could otherwise be a traumatic revelation as she wills the girl into life with but a whisper.
"Wake up, Yoiko... it's safe. It's alright."
The young girl's form abruptly gasps for breath and immediately falls into a brief coughing fit. As her eyes adjust Yoiko looks up at her friend and smiles, "...heeeeey, Emi." She winces painfully as she tries to push herself up. "...where?" Slowly her eyes begin to focus properly. "...why are we in my front yard?" She blinks as she runs a hand across the back of her head casually. "I feel like I missed something."
Emi's expression darkens momentarily with a frown, before abruptly easing into a sighing smile of utmost relief. She almost chokes on the out-breath, but keeps the presence of mind to help Yoiko sit up, resisting the urge to pull her into an immediate embrace. The urge alone is a reminder that she has fallen too far to her emotions... but this is only dimly registered.
"You missed-" the little goddess hesitates, lowering her gaze for an instant as she sorts through her mind. How much should she say? What would be right? A moment later, she is slowly shaking her head, hair bouncing back and forth against her shoulders. "I don't know where to begin. Yoiko," she straightens her back, swallowing as she raises her chin - humbly facing her own music.
"I risked your life to save this world. I used you, Yoiko, because I didn't want to use myself alone. What I did was unforgivable, but- I want you to know why. I'd like you to understand, even if it means..." she trails off, unable - for the first time in many aeons - to fully express herself as desired. Instead, she closes her eyes, and tenderly nudges her memories of the event toward Yoiko, offering them in a way the girl's mind can and will accept, if she allows it. The full horror of that feeling is gone; replaced by the concern and guilt of a friend. It is what Emi's mortalised form saw and felt. It is her confession.
Yoiko-chan sweatdrops at her friend's confession. While the words are understood, she doesn't really register what she's being told. Instead she glances around at her surroundings once more, then looks down at her legs, smoothing out the bottom of her skirt as her brain tries in vain to really grasp this concept. "You... used me... aaaand, I'm okay now. You're okay now." She places a hand on Emi's shoulder and raises an eyebrow. "...and I have no idea what your going on about." The girl laughs as she tries to push herself to her feet now wondering just why she feels so drained.
Yoiko-chan asks, "I don't think I'm any more confused than usual just tired." She peers around and sighs, "Didn't we used to own a dog...?"
There are many problems with being human. Guilt, shame, and self-loathing are only three of these; but they carry a powerful weight in themselves, reducing the strongest and most willful beings into tumbling shadows. More than ever, more than she believed possible, the Diaduin Emepherea feels this burden. As Yoiko replies, she feels like the child she never truly was. Her pale cheeks flush, her body relaxes a portion of it's pent-up tension, and a faint shiver works from her shoulders to the base of her spine.
"Thank you," she whispers, bowing her head and bringing her hands together at her breast. She does not linger further on the painful things, rising to match Yoiko and quietly settling her arms inside her flowing robe. A small nod forms reply to the girl's query, a long-absent, "Hai," the first part of her own response. It surprises her, and she laughs.
"Checkers, wasn't it?" Emi rejoins with a second dip of her chin, smile turning reminiscent, "A lot of time has passed since then. There are some things I shouldn't do, although, I'd like to give you something. You saved this world, Yoiko-chan; all of it. Everybody in it. And possibly others, too. Twisted has a part to play that- well." She stops herself, shrugs her thin shoulders, "It could be more important than anybody realises." Suddenly, if calmly, she cants her head to one side, examining her old friend carefully, "Are you happy here?"
Yoiko-chan blinks. "Am I... happy here...?" The girl looks around at her home and the ever-changing strangeness around it. "I don't really think I understand what you mean." She guestures up at the house, "This is my home. Sure my family may be missing most of the time, but where would they be without me watching the house?" The girl sways a little with the breeze, "...besides, what else would I do?" She sighs heavily, her mind already reminding her of the mounting world of depression she's trying her best not to acknowledge. "Sure, working at the UR was fun and all... but I'm not sure if I can do that anymore. Not after Aquairu..." She sighs again. "what... what are you getting at, Emi? What else is there?"
The word is not spoken harshly, but rather it drifts into place as noticeably as a blue sky breaking through the grey. Emepherea's gaze seems to intensity momentarily as she straightens her head, looking emphatically at Yoiko. There is no trickery here, no power, just a simple offer made by one in a position to make it freely. She slowly smiles, misty and intimate.
"I could return you to your homeworld, with your family - each and every one of them. Or there can be a new place for you on any of an infinite number of worlds; you only have to tell me what you'd most desire. I understand if you want to keep building a life here, but please think about it. I'm... not in a position to be the friend I once was; if I'm honest with you," she glances to one side, hair caught in a sudden breeze and pulling across her face. A slender hand rises to shift it away. "If I'm honest, I cannot stay here long. Not any more. What I did, it risked you, but it called others to me. If I stay as I am, I risk everything all over again."
"Yoiko," she draws herself together, furthering her offer with a plea, "If you do not wish anything from me, then I would like to ask you a favour. I want you to be happy, and I believe that you can be. Even here. But that decision is yours; not mine."
Yoiko-chan stares silently at her friend, pondering the offer. Quite honestly she has no idea how to really grasp the proposition, let alone know how to respond to it. It's all overwhelming and in no time the girl drops to her knees from the dizziness the toll of recent events, as well as this concept, take ahold of her. Dismissievly she waves a hand, expecting Emi to try to help her up and decides instead to simply kneel on the grass until she can come up with a good enough respond to her old friend.
Yoiko-chan takes a deep breath, "Emi...? Um.. thanks, I think. But no. Look, I may not have had the best life. I may have spent most of my time living alone with no one but Checkers and my neighbor to talk to. I may get lost trying to change my clothes in the morning, I may be whole universes away from where I started, but I can't go back now." She pauses briefly, her hands almost shaking as she tries to find the right words to say. "If I could put myself in some other world? With some other version of my parents? They wouldn't really be mine. I found my brother more than once now, and I -know- he was my brother. That means my family is out there somewhere. I can't just pack up and go back to where I started. The people I've met, the things I've done. I can't turn my back on that."
The girl's eye begins to sting, but why? What is so hard about this moment that it would nearly bring her to tears? Perhaps it's the feeling of finality that seems to be oozing from her friend. "I... I'm as happy as I can be. More than I probably should be. Sure I should maybe do something more with my life than stay home but it's all I've really known. I want to be better. I want to beat this sadness that keeps creeping back into me... but that seems to be my family's legacy, y'know? I just... I just don't want to see anyone else leave. I'm sick of loosing people and friends because of this stupid multiverse." She punches the grass in front of her, letting a single tear escape in the process. "You're leaving, aren't you? You're leaving and the next time I see you you're gonna be some old crippled woman, aren't you? First you where a little girl, now your a woman. That's what's next right? Another friend running away."
Despite the nearness of her own tears, Emi listens intently and carefully, not allowing a single drop to fall; no sob nor shuddering breath to shake her frame. She nods at several points, draws a faint smile across her lips at others, and starts to positively radiate pride even as Yoiko pulls close to the sadness that it seems they both must bear. But then the Diaduin's future is questioned. Her lips purse, her gaze drops away, and she seems almost to retreat inside her robe - all her subtle outer strength lost. Indeed, she begins to look older. It is suddenly obvious that the form she carries is a deception worn over a being of countless years.
"I don't know," is her honest response. She shakes her head and forces herself to meet Yoiko's gaze with as much bearing as she can muster. It is a shallow display. "But I do have to run away, for now at least. I've always been running away; but I have managed to run into and alongside those I have come to love. This time I have done too much, gone too far. I allied myself with the Prince of Hell, and I used my powers to cause direct harm to another. These are not things they-" she stops again, draws her shoulders up and heaves a sigh.
When she resumes it is with a harder edge to her voice. "These are not things my sires look on kindly. I've given you an idea of what I am, but... Yoiko, I was supposed to bring balance to a world in need. Without me, two gods vied for power who should never have had cause to do so. What has happened on Twisted; the reason I betrayed your love and your trust, is comparable, but to a world that once had stability - to a world which had a future - this is too much. I'm a hunted creature. I don't know who won that war, but they will have strength now to tame me. I cannot bring balance, but I can bring power. I- I..."
"I don't need to tell you all of this, do I?" It comes out quietly, and Emi seems to withdraw again, if only for a moment. "The answer is yes. I have to run. I have to leave you. So, will you do it? Will you promise me one thing?" She does not leave the question hanging, pressing on even if an objection is raised. "I have not been your only friend here, Yoiko. There's somebody else. A girl you knew in Metropolis. I'd like you to find her." She tries to smile, succeeds only in dislodging the first tear of many. It ripples down her cheek and cascades clumsily from her chin. "You've gained confidence, Yoiko. You're stronger. So is she. I think... together..."
She leaves it there, half-turning away as her eyes begin to stream. She may grow old, she may wither, she may disappear. Right now, it feels as though all of this is happening at once. She has fallen so far.
Yoiko-chan takes it all in but keeps her eyes on the ground instead of looking up at her hurting friend. What is there she could do to ease the pain of a goddess after all? Instead she asks the impossible, thinking of emotion before anything else. "...why can't I come with you? Everyone always leaves me behind... why not let me come along? Am I really just a gopher to everyone? A messenger who stays out of the way and lets everyone else have their moment in the spotlight?" Truer words where never spoken.
Yoiko-chan shoves herself to her feet again. "Fine. Whatever. Someone from Metropolis. That'll be a blast with my sense of direction. Go on. Go do whatever it is you have to do to pay for whatever crimes you've convinced yourself you committed... meanwhile I'll still be here... the eternal 14 year old girl in a world where everyone and everything grows up and leaves her behind..."
She doesn't let her hateful words hang long, however before she turns towards her friend and demands, "But when your done. You'd better not forget me. If I have to give myself over to some horrible evil... THING, I'm gonna try to find a way to fix this and get my friends back. That includes you, Emi." Her eyes are steady despite the ring of drying tears around them. She means this.
"I'd never forget you." It comes with a tremor and a soft choke, only ringing true because it is heartfelt. For all that the goddess sweeps, she does not stammer overmuch, and is able to turn her gaze back to her old friend. For old she is; in the span of real time, they are both of age immaterial. Which makes this parting hurt all the more. "But you must not forget yourself, either. If anger is what it takes..."
Emi lifts a hand once more, palming at her eyes and cheeks, smearing tears into raven black hair. Her frantic motion dislodged the ever-present feather in her hair, which floats down toward the ground unnoticed, settling in the green grass without a sound. The little goddess focuses her gaze back on Yoiko, and nods slowly, "So long as you fight, Yoiko, and keep fighting, you will become stronger still. I did not use you to save Twisted because of our relationship... I did it because there was nobody else who had the power. I can do almost anything, but defeating Guarlesia?"
"Then, as here, and now, it was beyond me. The truth is that you could have done it alone... you always could have. Your brother is a man of many faults, but weakness is not one of them - and that is a trait you share. I will always remember you, Yoiko, and always notice you when our paths cross. You I could not miss; your presence is subtle, but strong." At this she clenches a fist before her breast, lithe digits tightening with a miniscule crack. Slowly the hand lowers, and Emi swallows, watching Yoiko for a few moments. What else can she say? So much, and yet... something matters above all...
"Samantha. The girl who has come here. Samantha Li-Bogard. I promise that you will find her. Go to the Red Light District, one evening. That's all you need to do." She laughs, soft and tearful, "Even with your sense of direction, I'm sure you can do that. She'll help you home. She has a knack for such things. You are similar, you two. Similarly strong, though she could never be so close to my heart. I... I hold great love for you, Yoiko-chan."
Yoiko-chan says nothing as she stands trying to keep tears from resurfacing herself. So instead she nods her head, her eyes glazing over a little bit on their own. "I... I love you too Emi. Even if... even with everything... You're still one of my best friends." Finally the gravity of Emi's condition seems to sink in as she adds, "...be careful..."
A slow breath is eased from between the goddess' lips as the sentiment is returned. Her eyes slip shut, specks of moisture flickering off her lashes as they criss-cross together. When those amber orbs are unveiled again, they are more focused, somehow deeper - shining with an inner light. Her emotions run just as ragged, but she is uplifted through it all as she slips forward. Her hands find Yoiko's, ever so gently entwining fingertips as she draws close and plants a tender kiss upon the girl's brow.
"I'll be more careful than I have been. I promise."
The words are almost lost on the wind as it picks up, blowing a warm gust through the area. Emi's hair darkens once more, shifting in a dark wave about her face and shoulders even as her form begins to flicker and fade. She loses all sense of mass, fingers passing through Yoiko's. At the very last, she has drifted a step away from her friend, and her eyes shine more brightly than what little remains of her form. They burn with a confidence and determination not seen in some time as her final words echo out across untold distance. "I will find you again. Goodbye..."
It is such a simple word, so quietly spoken. How can one word hurt so much?