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An Ah! My Goddess story
by DB Sommer

Any and all C+C is appreciated. You can contact me at sommer@3rdm.net

Disclaimer: Kosuke Fujishima created Ah! My Goddess. Dark Horse owns the rights to the manga distribution in the U.S.

Author's notes: Something a little more somber than what you might expect from me.

The chilled night air blew off the river. It breathed down Yoshi's neck as if seeking warmth, yet it only succeeded in making him shift uncomfortably. Undaunted, it continued on. Tiny hairs on the back of his neck rose until they were standing on end. He felt cold, colder than he could ever remember in his twenty-two years of life. It was curious, since no more than half an hour ago he was numb to the chill in the air— numb to everything, for that matter. But now the situation had changed, as he remained standing perfectly still, shivering. He paused to reflect just how inadequate the light windbreaker he wore was for this frigid December evening. He supposed it should not have mattered, not at this point. The cold would be ending soon enough. Sooner, if he so desired. Oh, there would be a few moments of intense, probably painful cold, but then it would drift away and he would experience it in decreasing amounts until there was nothing left to feel, or so he assumed.

One of his hands found its way to his collar and pulled the material forward so that his neck was no longer subjected quite as openly to the elements. The motion did little to shield him from the wind, but at least it served to allow the hairs to lay flat against his skin once more.

Lights reflected off the water down below. A vast sea of city-manufactured stars twinkled from over the edge of the toes of his boots. His feet were warm, the only part of him that still was. At least he had retained enough sense to wear decent footgear to walk through the couple of inches of snow that had accumulated during the course of the day. It was going to be a white Christmas this year, the first in the last five. On the upside, the snow and the late hour combined to keep most people away from the park. Now only silence greeted him, save for the faint whistling of the wind. In the summer it was the opposite. The park had gained a reputation as a place where young lovers could sneak away from prying eyes. Couples would flee into the night, intent on finding some quiet spot far from the beaten path for a romantic tryst—

Yoshi shuddered. It was far worse and more violent than anything brought on by the chill in the air. A burst of pain escaped his lips; a sob that sounded more like a cough that wracked his form. The world wavered as a sheen of water fell over his eyes. Keeping a firm grip with one gloved hand on the bridge's railing behind him, he moved his free hand up to his face and rubbed his eyes as best he could. The worn leather made a poor handkerchief and did little more than smear the tears across his face. He looked back and forth across each side of the bridge, but still no one had appeared. Perhaps it was an omen telling him this was what he was meant to do.

His attention fully returned to the river below as it started to snow again. Despite the temperature, the river had not frozen over. Either the current was too strong or the water was too warm. It was fortunate for him it had not. Had there been ice, it would have meant a change of plans. Not that he had spent much time planning this. It was little more than a spur-of-the-moment decision; though once it came to him he realized it had been bubbling beneath the surface the entire time. Every other avenue he could think of had been tried. This was the only option left that would bring an end to the suffering. The only one.

Yoshi closed his eyes and drank deeply of the frigid air. He swore he could feel a coating of frost form on the inside of his lungs. That was all the air held. There were no soft scents of warming fires or roasting food. No smell of people gathering together in groups to enjoy the festive season. Just cold and loneliness in equal amounts. There was only one other thing that seemed to be there, just at the borders of his perception: the cloying scent of jasmine perfume. It was an illusion, of course, but not a new one. There was a time it had not always been so. Once, an eternity ago, it really had been there, teasing him, seducing him and succeeding time and again. He had never grown desensitized to it, never failed to bask in the scent. But then everything changed. It left abruptly, disappearing in a heartbeat. In the early days it had lingered, but as time passed it became less noticeable as other smells— none ever so sweet— drowned it out until he could smell it not longer. It was like shouting in a cavern, listening to an echo that dwindled ever softer into the distance until it became unheard. Though if one tried hard enough, believed strongly enough, they might convince themselves they could hear one last sound even when it had drifted into non-existence long ago.

He breathed again to find that jasmine, but could not bring himself to sense it. The last echo had long since departed. All that was left was the cold, the loneliness, and a hint of lilacs.

"Cold night."

"AH!" The woman's voice came from not more than five feet from him, right at the edge of the bridge. It shocked Yoshi badly enough that he lost his grip. One hand slipped completely from the safety rail and for a moment he hung on the edge of the precipice, a soft caress away from going over altogether and plunging into the icy depths below.

But the wind, that cold, heartless thing that had seemed to taunt Yoshi all night, made the difference as it blew hard into his face. That little bit of force was enough to allow him to fall back and regain his balance. He clutched onto the rail tightly, a wrought-iron life preserver.

Yoshi's wild eyes darted to the previously unseen speaker. The first thought that struck him as his gaze fell onto the woman, who was leaning over the railing and looking idly in his direction, was that she was a goddess descended from Heaven, come to deliver him from oblivion. She was beautiful, her appearance easily rivaling that of any woman he had met in person. Dark skin contrasted sharply with platinum locks that were just a shade darker than the snow around them. Several loose strands danced behind her head, playing softly in the wind. She wore a long red coat rimmed in white fur around the neck, cuffs, and bottom. The white reached just below the knees of legs that managed to be shapely despite being hidden by the material around them. Brown leather boots hugged her firmly, stopping mere inches below the edge of the jacket and showing just a hint of skin that was every bit as dark as that of her face. The only common thing about her was the white plastic bag that was slung over her shoulder, the bottom sagging from an object within.

He looked back and forth across the bridge, but she was the only person in sight. "Where'd you come from?!"

"Trust me, you wouldn't believe me if I told you." Her smile held sarcasm and amusement in equal amounts.

She couldn't have been there. He had seen no one. Even as distracted as he had been, he would have heard her approach, especially crunching down on the newly fallen snow. His head whipped around to see if anyone else had intruded on his solitude, but there was no one. There was no noise to indicate others were approaching. Even the sounds of the city sounded diluted from where he stood.

Surprise finally departed, and he regained some measure of composure. Thinking more clearly, he realized what the situation looked like and why the woman would have drawn silently near him. He tried drawing his body away from her, though after the near fall his hands refused to leave their secure grasp of the railing. All he succeeded in doing was leaning to the side. "If you get any closer, I'll jump."

"Don't worry. I couldn't stop you from jumping even if I wanted to. Has to do with rules of conduct and such. I'm not allowed to do it for a stranger like you, not in a situation like this." She gave a helpless shrug.

Fear still ruled him, fear that she was lying and would lunge forward to prevent him from taking the only course that remained. "So what are you, a morbid curiosity seeker? Want to watch me jump to my death because you've never seen anyone die before?"

She made a face, her lips pouting slightly and marring her beauty. "I've seen more than enough death in my time, more than you could ever want. I know it's a natural part of life but I don't need my face rubbed in it."

Her words bore the weight of truth. There was something about them that hung in the air, a grim acceptance of pain that Yoshi thought he had mastered until he found himself perched on the edge of a bridge looking down at dark waters that would suck him down into an abyss.

"Then why are you here?" he finally asked.

She gave another shrug, this one far more casual. "I thought you might want someone to talk to."

For the first time in almost a month, a laugh nearly escaped Yoshi's lips. It was all so unreal. But he caught himself and instead gave out a terse, "I'd say it's a little late to talk to someone."

"Nah, it'd be too late if you already jumped. Before, though, there's still time to talk."

She was making fun of him. He was about to leap to his death and she stood there making light of the situation. Earlier he had thought she was like an angel, now he had learned she was anything but divine. Tears welled in his eyes at how anyone could be so callous and direct such uncaring at him in such a moment. "I don't want to talk to you!"

She looked put off by the comment. "Fine, be that way."

"I will!"

Surprisingly, she made no move towards him. Instead, she looked off in the distance, her eyes seeming to focus on something far off. Despite the fact these were his last moments on Earth, his curiosity refused to be ignored and forced him to follow her gaze and see what she was staring at. There appeared to be little of interest. All Yoshi could make out was a large Christmas tree standing in front of a jewelry store that was just outside the boundary of the park.

"I really don't care for Christmas." The woman's voice sounded as distant as the tree. "You'd think for someone like me, with my lineage, it'd be my favorite time of the year, and in some ways it is. I do like the joy, the parties, the sake, the mistletoe. And of course there's the whole reason of why we celebrate it, very important to me and my… co-workers. But underneath that veneer of good feelings and cheer, well…"

Unconsciously, Yoshi found his head nodding in agreement.

The exotic beauty's eyebrows furrowed in concentration. "I guess it has to do with feeling as though I'm not as happy as I should be. Sort of like things could be better, so I don't really have anything to celebrate."

Yoshi continued nodding his head sincerely. "I know what you mean. I… Hey! Why am I talking about this with you?"

"I brought it up?" she ventured.

"You said you were trying to talk to me, but all you're doing is talking about yourself."

The woman shifted uncomfortably. "Well, part of the reason I tried to get you to talk to me was so that I could talk to you."


"Well, it's not like you have anywhere else to go or you wouldn't be here, would you? I sort of like having a captive audience."

"I… I could jump."

"Nah. No one's plummeted to their death because they talked to me, no matter what nasty rumors Mara might have spread. She's one of the more annoying things in my life, by the way. Good friend, but she works for the opposition. A pity, but that's the way of things. Keeps things interesting, I'll admit."

This new tangent offended Yoshi for some reason he couldn't understand. "You're getting off the subject."

"Oh, yeah. Sorry about that." Though her words were in apology, they lacked the sound of sincerity.

Yoshi asked, "Do you always go looking for people about to commit suicide to talk to?"

"No. You were convenient. I do have a couple of sisters I could talk to, but I don't know. One's too young to understand, and the other is… Well, this is one thing I don't think she'd understand. It's just not in her nature. She's too optimistic. So I find myself surrounded by people but with no one to talk to."

In answer to her apparent depression, Yoshi found himself hesitantly say, "I know what you're saying, I mean about no one really understanding."

Seemingly appeased by the young man's sentiment, the woman returned to gazing out in the distance. The silence reigned for a full minute, each person staring at the tree that lay so far away.

"So what was her name?" the woman asked without looking in Yoshi's direction.

The question came unexpectedly, especially since the woman's attention seemed riveted elsewhere. Yoshi found himself reflexively answering, "Mariko. But how did you know…"

She turned and stared directly at him, causing him to trail off. "That look in your eyes. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Only one thing can cause it. Believe me, I know. I've seen it staring back at me in a mirror on more than one occasion."

"You don't know what I'm feeling!" Yoshi's body shook from anger. A torrent of words was on his tongue despite his previous reticence. For some unfathomable reason, he felt an urge to tell this woman how wrong she was for equating any pain she had felt with his own raw, overpowering emotions. "She was… she was everything to me! We went out for a year. Every single day was so much better than any I had before. Every other woman I met before was nothing compared to her. She was perfect. She was smart, had a great sense of humor, was attractive, and we got along perfectly together. We hardly ever fought, and it was only over minor things. We enjoyed a lot of the same things. We never got tired of being in one another's presence. A day didn't feel complete unless I got to see or talk to her at least once. We laughed together, sometimes even cried together. It was… it made me feel whole."

He began sniffling and tears welled in his eyes. Never before had he considered it acceptable to cry in front of anyone else, especially strangers— his father had been firm about that— but now he couldn't help himself, not when laying his emotions so bare.

"So she died?"

He shook his head fiercely. "No, though if you had asked me even a month ago, I'd have said that was the only thing that could separate us. It came out of nowhere. We were having dinner at this new restaurant her sister recommended, and suddenly she blurts out she wants to break up, that things weren't working anymore. It didn't make any sense. Everything was perfect. I know it was. I loved her. I would have known if something was wrong!"

"Was it over someone else she met?"

Again he shook his head vigorously back and forth. "No. I think that would have been easier to deal with. I mean, at least then I could have told myself she was leaving me because she was misguided enough to think there was someone else out there who loved her more than I did and she'd be happier with him. But she was telling the truth. She wasn't leaving me because of some guy she was seeing on the side. She wanted to break up because I wasn't good enough for her. It was all my fault. It didn't matter that I was a better person with her at my side than at any other point in my life. It was me that wasn't enough to satisfy her and make her feel the same way I did about her.

"I tried talking her out of it, but she had already made up her mind. I tried reasoning with her for weeks, but after a while it became obvious she was uncomfortable with me trying to win her back. I wanted to keep trying as long as I had breath in my body, but even after what she did, I couldn't stand the idea of making her suffer. So I broke off all contact. I thought maybe if I made a quick cut the suffering pass faster. It didn't. She's still there, even when she's not. I can feel her around me, and it's more than I can bear. She was the center of my universe. Without her, I can't go on, no matter how hard I try. And now it's come to this." He looked mournfully at himself, the bridge, and then at the murky river below.

The woman's voice sounded distant as she spoke once again. "His name was… well, he was a singer. I suppose you could call him a troubadour. You know what they say about musicians? Well it's all true. In my case, he left me for something else. A song, if you can believe that. Though what he was really leaving me for was his dreams. It was hard, being discarded for something that you can't really compete with. You can't make yourself more attractive or a better catch, not against a dream. I hate losing without being able to fight back. In the end, I let him go in search of his dreams with my approval, but only because, like you, I couldn't bring myself to make him suffer the way I was. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel."

The words stung him. The audacity of the woman was unbelievable, intruding on his moment of grief with this. "Stop comparing yourself to me! You can't know how I feel!"

The woman gave a laugh that was bitter and full of scorn. It was made all the more potent by the ugly sound coming from someone so attractive. "Oh Father, save me from twenty-two-year-olds who think the world is at an end because they had a big break up with a girl, as though none of the other five-plus billion people in the world have been through the same damn thing. I've got news for you, pal, people that don't have at least one major failed romance in their lives are by far the exception, not the rule. Don't think just because you're miserable right now that means no one else has ever been as depressed as you. You aren't unique in any way. A lot more people know exactly what you're going through than those that don't. So don't stand there dancing on the edge of a bridge and try pretending you're some kind of martyr for the concept of love because you don't want to deal with a chunk of misery that almost everyone goes through. You're not. You don't see everyone else plunging to their deaths like a bunch of lemmings when someone they love breaks up with them, and there's a reason for that."

Yoshi looked down at the water, feeling chastised when he thought he should have been angry. His self-pity, which— with the woman's berating— was what he realized he was feeling, cowered away from the reproach. It was startling that, instead of words of consolation and sympathy, it was admonishment that was making him look at things from a different perspective. It wasn't even so much the words themselves as what lay behind them. Each word weighed heavy with bitterness and hostility, carrying with it the palpable sensation of the woman's emotions. It was like being force fed empathy, and he found it impossible not to swallow.

A new gust, more powerful than any yet, seemed to freeze his doubts into ice. All that remained was the ever-present feeling of depression that still raged in his breast. His eyes invariably found their way back to the dark surface of the river, and his purpose for being there reasserted itself with three times the strength as before. "You don't understand! There's no one else that can ever take her place. She gave my existence meaning. She was the only woman in the world for me. My one true love. If she's not by my side, there's no point in going on. Not without her!"

In a heartbeat, the woman's demeanor shifted completely. Where before she had expressed at least a hint of sympathy, or contempt, at what he was saying, now there was anger. Pure, unquestioning anger.

For the first time since she had mysteriously appeared she moved, walking up to him. As she drew closer, he suddenly understood what it was that made a deer freeze in a pair of oncoming headlights. The woman's glare trapped him as effectively as if someone had nailed his feet to the bridge. She stopped when she stood next to him, with only the railing separating the two. She drew her hand back, then brought it forward. The slap across his face was hard enough to leave a handprint across a cheek already reddened by the bitter temperature. The blow also served to nearly topple him from his precarious perch. It was only with a burst of agility that even surprised Yoshi that he was able to re-center his body's weight and prevented himself from going over the side.

Once he was certain he had regained his balance, and thought that he was braced well enough to prevent a second blow from succeeding where the first had failed, he risked shouting, "Are you trying to kill me?!"

"How dare you! How dare you think Kami-sama hates you so! I'd like to take whoever came up with this idea of people only having 'one true love' and throttle them."

"What are you talking about?!"

For a second he thought she was going to slap him again, but after a moment of internal struggle, the urge seemed to pass and she settled for giving him an angry stare.

Slowly, with carefully measured words, she said, "Do you honestly believe that stupid idea about there being one and only one person in the entire world that you are destined to fall madly and permanently in love with? That your entire existence and future romantic life is predicated upon locating this one woman out of billions and that you can only know true happiness with her?"

He didn't like the way she phrased the question, but he couldn't figure out how to argue with it. Instead, he gave out a faltering, "I… I guess. Sort of."

She made a snort, her breath billowing out in a cloud of steam. "So what does it mean if someone can't find this supposed 'perfect match' among the billions of people out there? Or are they supposed to meet no matter what? Then why are there so many people that never marry and are perfectly happy? What about every other relationship people had? Are they useless, pointless exercises always destined to fail before they've begun because this isn't the one true love that they are destined for? Or maybe they're just a sort of practice run? Wouldn't that make the feelings unreal? Is that how you think of the first girl you ever went out on a date with. The first one you kissed? The first one you made love to? Were all the words of caring you shared with them nothing but a pack of lies since they weren't your 'one true love'?"

Each question spurred memories of those girls, as though each event with them had occurred but moments ago rather than the years that formed the gulf between then and the present. Suddenly, Yoshi was sitting in a restaurant with Miaka back in seventh grade, nearly throwing up on their date with how nervous he was. Kachinko later in that same year, behind the bleachers after the school soccer team had lost another game. Her consolation kiss made his team's loss completely forgotten. Manami, the first girl he had formed a serious relationship with during their senior year. It was an act of desperation on her part to salvage a relationship that was in its dying phase. The move only added two months to its life before a tearful end, but the memories of the passion they shared in that heat of the moment would never be forgotten.

His senses seemed to remember as well: the scent of Miaka's heavy perfume, the first time he had noticed such on a girl, now hung in the air instead of phantom jasmine. The taste of honey of Kachinko's lipstick mingled with his sweat danced on the tip of his lips. The soft feel of Manami's body against his own coarser skin as they ground together in copulation. It was a sensation unlike any he had felt before. Each new level of intimacy was a memory that still sparkled in his mind.

Anger and bile rose to his throat at the very idea of what this woman was proposing. "Of course I meant what I told them, even if the relationships didn't work out in the end! I never lied, not to any of them!"

The woman gave no indication of hearing as she continued on, as unrelenting as a storm. "What about the people that die? What about some seven-year-old that dies in a car wreck without ever thinking members of the opposite sex were anything but annoying? Is there now someone out there that can never meet their predetermined 'true love' when they get older because they died in an accident? Or was this now dead child never destined to have a true love and so came into existence without one? Yes, Kami-sama can be callous sometimes, but do you honestly think he's capable of that sort of cruelty, creating a life without hope of love?"

Again he found himself assailed with questions he had never considered and prodded for answers he hadn't devised. "I… I don't know. I guess not."

She smirked in open satisfaction at the perceived victory. "He isn't. Oh, life is unfair, but not that unfair. You want to know the truth? I'll tell you. There is no such thing as 'true love.' Love's like any other emotion: it all comes in degrees."


Her mood seemed to brighten slightly. "Oh yes. It's all about degrees. There are variations on it, of course. The love you feel for a woman isn't the same you feel for your parents or siblings, obviously. But the love you feel for someone you casually dated once is the same kind as what you feel for someone you marry for life; you just feel a lot more for one than the other. Don't let anyone try telling you otherwise. The intensity you feel for someone might trick you into thinking it's a whole different kind of love, but it isn't. The root of it is the exact same thing. One's not more 'true' than the other. They're all true. Each and every one."

Yoshi found himself hesitating at the idea. "I'd like to believe that. It's funny, but I think you're right. I never loved anyone as much as I did Mariko, not anywhere near it, but I've definitely been in love before. It just never felt exactly like this. Breaking up never hurt as much as it did this time."

"Like I said, the difference isn't in what you feel, just how strongly you feel it."

"Maybe," Yoshi conceded ever so reluctantly. However, months of misery would not be so easily suppressed. His mass of depression rebelled at the new thoughts and tried again to reassert a position of dominance. "But it hurts so much. Nearly every minute I can feel it inside of me. It doesn't seem to ever go away or give me a moment's peace."

Most of the scorn left the woman's voice, and she sounded more sympathetic, like when she had been reminiscing about her own past. "Yes, it hurts. It's supposed to. It shows you cared. You're supposed to feel rotten and depressed and miserable for a while. The more you care the longer it usually lasts. But guess what: it's temporary. Give it enough time and it'll go away and just be a distant memory, like all the girls that came before her. You know, the ones you haven't given a second thought in months? It's happening even now. I bet even if you tried, you wouldn't remember a lot of the time you shared with Mariko. Maybe a night where nothing memorable happened. Or a couple of walks in the park where it wasn't sunny or rainy. Several dates at restaurants where you can't remember what you talked about or ordered, or even the name of the place or what she was wearing.

"It all adds up, and eventually only the most important memories will be remembered, and even then you'll only recall having certain feelings about them rather than actually feeling those emotions like you are now. New memories bury the old, no matter how hard you try to fight it. It's a healing process that takes time. The only question is how long it takes. Sometimes a little while, sometimes what feels like forever, but it happens. In time."

Again, terrible truths. Even now those inexplicably powerful memories of past romances that Yoshi experienced so vividly only minutes before had drifted back into the depths of the past. "But I don't want to forget her. I loved her. I want to remember exactly what I felt, how I felt, about her forever, even if it does hurt so much."

The woman spoke again. If ice had a voice, it would have sounded just like her. "Oh no you don't. You most definitely do not ever want to wish for that. Be happy you can give up your memories rather than having them remain with you forever. There's nothing worse than remembering everything and not being able to ever forget. New memories pile on top of the old until all the decades feel like one extended yesterday. It's more a curse than a blessing, being able to remember everything in excruciating detail, every scene with perfect clarity. Even the cherished ones will feel tainted since you know they all end in tragedy. Being able, no, being forced to remember exactly what it was like, to see how the sun strikes his face, the wind blows through his hair, his hand feels around my shoulders, his ability to make me warmer inside than I could ever manage on my own, is a sort of continuous pain. Every soft smile and gentle kiss feel like they were given only a moment before when it was really years ago, and the truth is he abandoned you so very long ago, and that memory of rejection is as fresh as the others. It's pain."

Her voice turned even more bitter, "It makes letting go difficult and forgetting impossible. And with each new failure, the burden becomes greater until every time you think of the past it feels as though your back will shatter and there's never any way to gain relief by purging yourself of what has happened. And the next thing you know, you try everything you can to live solely in the present, even going so far as to live vicariously through others and playing matchmaker for them so you don't have to feel the pain of yet another failed relationship added to your collection. Given a choice, I'd take being able to forget everything instead of having to remember it all every single time. Be satisfied that you can lose your memories, for there is no greater misery then being forced to remember everything in perfect detail."

Yoshi didn't understand how it could be as she said— the ability to remember everything the way she described it was impossible— but at the same time there wasn't the slightest doubt in his mind she spoke the truth. He could only imagine the misery that being able to remember everything caused, and despite the fact they were not his own feelings, he could feel her pain dwarfing his own.

He looked down at the river below. It beckoned him no longer. It was just water. There was no peace, not real peace, to be found there. That was not to say he was cured; he was still miserable since Mariko remained in his heart, a gaping wound. But now he had something he lacked earlier. Now he had hope for the future. And in the end, he instinctively knew that was all he really needed.

Yoshi's emotions went from one extreme to the other. He suddenly held a brief vision of rediscovering his will to live a long and happy life on the edge of this bridge, only to accidentally slip and plunge into the river and meet his original intended destination. Gingerly, he stepped over the railing, turning away from the woman and giving his full attention to his handholds and footing until he was securely on the proper side of the rail. He shot one last glance at the river. Only minutes had passed since he had paused, mentally preparing himself to take the fatal plunge, but it felt like years. He was tired and hungry. For the first time since that final dinner with Mariko, his appetite had returned.

In gratitude, he decided to ask the woman if she wanted to get something to eat, though he would make it clear that he held no romantic interest in her. There was an unearthly aura radiating about her, making her feel unapproachable in those terms. Just asking if she wanted to dine with him took a great deal of courage on his part. And there was Mariko. He had found the determination to deal with his feelings concerning her, not found the actual solution to them yet. Besides, from the sound of things, this woman carried at least as much emotional baggage as he did, and he was wise enough to know that two miserable people could rarely make each other happy.

Yoshi turned to talk to her, still trying to figure out how to phrase the question without sounding like he was asking her on a date, when he discovered his companion was no longer there. He spun in a circle, looking all around, but somehow she had disappeared from sight in under five seconds. Again he was struck by the impossibility of it all. This time he knew for certain she could not have walked off without him noticing; he was not that drained from the experience or inattentive to the world around him. If anything, he was more aware of it now than at any other time in his life. He looked down at the snow covering the bridge to see which direction she had walked off in order to pursue her.

The snow at both ends of the bridge was as virgin as when it has first fallen, with only his tracks giving any indication that anyone had walked across it in hours.

A hallucination. That was the only explanation. He was losing his mind and only dreamed that a mysterious beauty had appeared out of nowhere and had kept him from making what would have been the stupidest mistake of his life. He needed treatment, immediately.

Just as Yoshi was about to wander off in a daze, his eyes fell upon something hanging from the railing. He had overlooked it, searching so hard for the woman that he had disregarded anything that wasn't her. The plastic bag dangled there, moving slightly in the wind, though the weight of the object inside kept it from spinning greatly. He walked over to the bag and quickly undid the simple knot that suspended it in mid-air.

Inside was a container of Rocky Road ice cream and a note attached to the top. The writing was sloppy, as though the author was in a hurry. It read:

'I've found that ice cream tends to make things better. Figured you could use it more than me.'

It was left unsigned.

"Ice cream in the middle of winter? Why not?" Not knowing what else to do, Yoshi slung the bag over his shoulder, intent on going home, eating the whole thing, and getting the first decent night of sleep he had in months.

"Darn it, Urd! How could you forget the ice cream?! It was the whole reason you went out in the first place!"

Urd snapped her fingers. "I knew I was carrying that thing around for some reason, but it slipped my mind."

"I can't believe you're so irresponsible!" Skuld briefly considered what device she had in her room that would gain some measure of revenge from her older, incompetent sister.

As the clothing-shrinker raced to the forefront of Skuld's mind, Urd grabbed the young goddess in a headlock and proudly proclaimed, "That's right! I'm the irresponsible sister, and don't you forget it! Now watch in horror as I make sure it sinks into this thick skull of yours."

"Ah! Not the noogies! Not the noogies!" Skuld protested even as Urd proceeded to rub her knuckles across the top of her helpless sibling's head.

Watching the scene from the kitchen, Belldandy commented to Keiichi, "It looks like Urd's feeling happier now. I'm glad. She seemed pretty down the last few days. I wonder what cheered her up?"

"Probably wrecked havoc with someone else's love life for a change." Keiichi shook his head and winced at yet another holiday where it appeared he would never get a quiet moment alone with Belldandy.


Author's notes: C'est fini.

Well, haven't done an A!MG, fic in a while, and this is definitely different from 'The Visitors' in every way. Did this one a bit different from usual, in doing some later parts of the conversation first and as I got stuck writing earlier ones. Made meshing them together a bit hard, but I find myself not dissatisfied with the results. Not sure how this one will go over, since it reads as something of a short speechfic rather than something with an actual plot, IMO. An irony, since I generally skip over stuff of this nature when it comes to reading, yet found myself compelled to write this. That and it was short, and since I haven't had a lot of time to write anything longer and I wanted to do get at least a little back into the swing of things. This idea that was simmering in my mind for a while and, for me, it's best to get the ideas out when they stick around for a while, lest they clutter things up. I did like using the idea of being Goddess as the Past a double-edged sword for Urd, though. Don't read much A!MG fan fiction, so I don't know if the concept has been done before.

Special thanks to:

  • Richard Lawson
  • Raja
  • Brian Welch
  • Glazius Falconar
  • Chris Horton
  • Miashara

D.B. Sommer

"Abuse of power? Isn't that something weak people made up to try and keep those that are bigger and stronger than them from acting like they're bigger and stronger, therefore negating the whole purpose of being bigger and stronger?"
—Captain D'Amour "TWPOS II: The Wrath of Monetkahn"

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