|Supernatural Fiction posted December 31, 2017||Chapters:||2 3 -4-|
Things settle the aftermath of the storm
A chapter in the book Puppy Love and the Storm Above 2A
Agape [Ending A]
Last chapter: Jessica and eight of her companions stormed the Guild to take it back. The final battle is much more easily won but comes at a terrible cost.
“Aw.” Sooyoung pouted at the broken sieve that her mother had dropped. She turned to her father and asked, “Daddy, when’s MiMi coming home?”
No one moved or spoke.
Her parents stared at their child, white-faced.
Their daughter’s entire countenance brightened before she sprouted her tail and wagged it excitedly, as she had always done when her older sister returned from visiting the Jungs. “MiMi’s coming home! I can feel it! Come on! Let’s go greet her!” She laughed, Beaming to the edge of the forest. “Where is she?” Sooyoung pounced on the group as soon as they stepped foot past the talismans. “Hi ...MiMi?” she cried.
Her mother grabbed her from behind and bodily lifted her away before she could touch her sister. She held on tight against her younger daughter’s flailing. “...No! Baby, no! You can’t! You can’t!” she screamed when she felt the shift in her taller child.
Reality hit hard and fast, but had the possibility of changing. “I can, Umma! I didn’t get to save Hyoyeonie and failed Yuri-yah! I have no more purpose!”
“What about me?” Yoona whispered as she appeared behind Mrs. Hwang.
“Yoongie!” Sooyoung launched herself onto the thin girl instead. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, my love. But I-”
The witch, having learned all about Guardians from her father and seeing the pain in her lover’s eyes, nodded against the lump in her throat. “Juhyunie and Hyoyeonie don’t have- can’t be- They- ...You can save her...” she indicated the small brunette still in their friends’ arms. “Go to her.”
“I- I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” the older girl repeated once more, holding fast to the love of her life.
“Don’t be,” Yoona gritted her teeth. Looking back at where her sisters lay underground, she swallowed hard. “I would do the same thing if I could. I understand.” Then she started to shake.
Sooyoung hugged her tightly, shaking just as badly. “I love you. You know that, right?”
“I love you too. Now go; hurry up!” The raven-haired girl pushed the Guardian before either of them could change their minds.
“P-put MiMi down,” Sooyoung told Sunny, Taeyeon, and the Parks.
Taeyeo obeyed in a daze, having no idea what was going on.
Sunny snapped out of it. Leaping over Tiffany’s body, she threw herself at Sooyoung as well. “D-don’t,” she choked. “Y-y-you don’t have to do this. She ...She made her choice, Sooyoungie.”
“Then let me make mine,” came the warm, gentle answer. “I love you too. You know that, right?”
“Y-yeah... Love... Love you too.” The much smaller girl slipped into shock. Still, she answered Taeyeon’s unspoken questions, nearly inaudible as well. “All Guardians can lay down their lives, usually for their charges. We never outlive them in their presence. But she can’t do that for your sister. Hyoyeonie, her head- She can do it f-for her sister, though, for Baby... Baby...” Then Sunny said and saw no more.
Taeyeon caught her before she herself collapsed as well.
Sooyoung made a final detour, to where her father was holding back her mother, even as her mother stopped struggling.
“Honey,” the man addressed his daughter, “don’t. I trust you to do what’s right, you always do, Sweet Girl, but-”
He gripped her shoulder as if physically holding onto her then could prevent her from being taken from him some time later.
“But I gotta, Appa... I love you!”
“I love you too,” he said hoarsely before his throat closed.
Mrs. Hwang said nothing, letting herself be caught in between the two’s embrace and joining it full-force.
Many silent, long moments later, their child slipped away from them to turn toward her sister. “Silly MiMi,” she murmured as she crawled the rest of the way to the other Guardian. “Umma told you to be careful. You pro-pro... You promised her.” Her fingertips lightly caressed her sister’s pale temple and cheek. Her arms went around Tiffany to embrace her as hard as she could one last time. “Use this second life well, will you?”
It was another several long moments until she lay her sister on the forest floor again.
Then her hands slid to Tiffany’s sternum, where they interlocked as if to give her chest compressions. With one thrust, light tingled around Sooyoung, hung for a second, and then went into the brunette. The younger girl fell to the side, dead, as Tiffany sat up with the gasp of one who had been drowning.
“Soo!” Her eyes widened. “Soo, no! Oh; oh, no!” She then held her little sister, crying harder than she ever had in her life.
Yuri stared without seeing, as she had long ago and would for the rest of her life. All of her closest friends had perished, even her baby sister, even her mother. And she had missed all of it, been a tax on their resources, and made things harder on them, had-
Yoona jostled her. Stop thinking like that. ...I didn’t do anything either and I was r-right, right there; and still...
Their burden of guilt lightened marginally for virtue of being shared.
Blocking her middle sister out momentarily, Yuri looked across the way with her one good eye to see that Tiffany felt very much the same way that she did.
The Guardian lifted her head to try and smile at Yuri through her own tears anyway.
The eldest Im daughter could not return the expression and did not think she would ever again.
She and Yoona finally allowed their little sister be laid to rest in the earth, burying their voices with her.
Rain, lightning, thunder, and darkness pressed down on the fragmented group.
The ceremony passed in a blur for many of the attendees.
Everyone went back from the Healing plane for it, but their minds were still far away. Mothers, fathers, sisters, daughters, friends, and neighbors all mourned the lost.
Benevolent Grandfather Lee.
The group tried to decide living arrangements days later. No one could bear to leave the forest; no one could bear to stay in it.
Jessica would likely go with the remainders of her family.
Yeong and Chaerin wanted to return home to the Guild to help rebuild it, as Woojong would have wanted, while Areum internally debated ever wanting to see it again.
Near her, Mr. Choi and his wife resolved to not step foot in it again; they would probably live with his sister and niece in the human astral plane.
Mr. Kim blushed but offered to open his home to the woman whom he had felt a sort of bond with since the moment she had attempted to comfort him by sharing her status with him. “I... I hear you’re quite the mother,” he told Yeong’s feet, “a-and I’ve seen it! ...My, my girls could really use ...a mother... And you’ve been a great one to Ji- Minji-ah; fantastic! She’s a great kid... Would you...?”
“Yes,” she answered with a tearful smile until it drained away into uncertainty. “If- If it’s alright with you girls—” She turned to her two children and found that as ever since the great storm, Minji and Taeyeon could not let go of each other while Chaerin had a gentle hand of each of their backs. Mother and daughters’ eyes met as they nodded.
Sunny smiled at her charge with sad acceptance. “You have a family again, Taeyeonie... I. Umma and I-”
One arm still around her sister, Taeyeon launched herself at her Guardian. “No!” she cried. “Don’t leave me; please!”
Sunny looked to her mother, even as she cried and held tightly to her charge.
Areum’s lips pressed into a flat line but did not release any words.
Jessica lightly smacked Tiffany upside the head as the younger girl stared at her parents. She wrapped her arms tighter around her Guardian as she told her, “Now don’t you go getting any stupid ideas, Steph. I already lost you twice now. If you think-”
“Don’t worry, Jessi!” Tiffany spun around and hugged Jessica closely. “I’m not thinking of anything!”
The witch scoffed. “That can’t be new.” Then she ruffled her friend’s hair with a sad smile until Tiffany was grinning as best she could.
The Guardian’s heart was torn between her charge, her sister’s grave, her friends, her love, and her family. “H-hey!” she suggested, “how about Chaerinie and I whip up a place? We’re great at building stuff!”
Jessica snorted and rolled her eyes, but even her amber eyes shone with longing for everyone to stick together, at least temporarily.
“That would be better, actually,” Hanjae realized. “My home is not much of a place to go back to...”
“Let’s all go back to the Guild. Please!” Yeong pleaded. “There’s so much to be done and... I wonder if I will be able to get back in,” she then pondered. “I’d never left it before, and I’m no Guardian...”
“Yes you are, Umma,” Chaerin murmured back.
“You are a Guardian. And you have a home.” Areum came forward once more to embrace Chaerin with very little prodding from her daughter. Her hug even expanded to Yeong as well. “You all do.”
The storm finally passed. Mature, selfless love took its place.
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