Chapter Forty: Most Important Thing:
Anna awoke to the smell of burning. She sat up and looked around in her bed. Rihoko sat looking asleep in the chair next to her bed. Anna reached forward to wake her.
"Hey, Rihoko! Wake up! Wake up!" she whispered. "Hey! Hey!" The young mother slumped over to the floor dead. Anna backed up and gasped.
"No," she whispered. "No!" The woman raced out of the room for help.
"Nurse!" Anna screamed. "Help! Help! My friend's dead!" Pitch-black throughout the halls. Anna looked around her.
"Hello?" she asked. "Where is everybody?" Suddenly, a low groan caught her ears in the dark. She froze and looked down. All of her American friends lay on the floor dead or dying before her in the hallway. Anna looked around panicked.
"Guys?" she asked. "What happened? Who did this to you?" Anna heard a soft groan up ahead. She looked to see Willow reaching out to her. Her bleeding friend raced over to her and cradled her in her arms.
"Willow!" she cried. "Willow! Talk to me! What happened?" Her friend took to slow breaths.
"Sheï¿½ wantedï¿½ toï¿½ comeï¿½ backï¿½" Willow said with her last breath.
"Don't talk!" Anna cried. "Try to stay alive!" Her friend died in her arms. Anna didn't get time to grieve. The sight of fire around her caught her eyes. It was as if Hell came for her on earth. Anna's heart raced faster.
"What is this?" she asked. The sound of laughter in her mind made her jump.
"Who's there?" she asked. The laughter floated up higher. Anna gritted her teeth.
"You!" she hissed. "What have you done to my friends?" The heat dragged her down the hall. Another groan caught her ears. She looked and saw the demons as the same state as her friends.
"Not you too!" she cried. Anna noticed Hotaru pointing forward. Desperate, Anna fled to her.
"What are you telling me?" she asked. "Who did this to you all?"
"Saveï¿½ themï¿½" Hotaru whispered. The loli demon passed through death too.
"Save who?" Anna asked. Her eyes widened.
"The boys!" she gasped. Anna got up and began running. What's going on? Why is everyone dying around me? Stop taking them away from me! It was just beginning to enjoy being with them! Please stop killing my friends! She ran faster down the hall. Tatsumi, Watari, and Hisoka lay dead at her feet. Anna slowly backed away.
"No, no!" she cried. A pair of invisible hands came around her neck. She gagged as her body slumped against her attacker. Is this the end of me?
"Yes it is, my dear!" Satoshi said in Tsuzuki's voice. Anna's eyes widened in shock. But then, a strange calm came over her.
No! I refuse to die like this! Iï¿½ I want to live! I want to live with my life! I won't die like this! Suddenly, the fire swallowed up everything.
"Anna!" someone whispered. The woman quickly woke up. Rihoko sat on the bed before her. Anna blinked.
"You're alive?" she asked. Her roommate stared at her.
"Of course I am," she said. "Why wouldn't I be?" Anna shook her head.
"It's nothing," she lied. "Where are Becky and them?"
"The airport," Rihoko said. It took Anna moment to get it.
"Want to see them off?"
Anna shook her head. "Nah."
"You sure?" Rihoko asked.
"I'm good," her roommate said. "I just want to go home." The young mother smiled.
"Merry Christmas," she said.
Anna had a quiet Christmas that year. She, Rihoko, and Yoko-chan all exchanged gifts and stayed home. Yoko-chan played outside in the snow while the women stayed inside. The shinigami and demons all came to check on Anna. She smiled and talked with them. Felt so surreal. All of her emotions were drained out of her body and she felt like she was just sleepwalking through her life. Yet one person was still AWOL all day. Until night fell and she went to bed.
"Anna-chan! Anna-chan!" someone whispered as they tried to shake her awake in bed. "Wake up! Wake up!" The woman drew open her eyes. Tsuzuki sat over her on her futon, staring at her. His woman blinked at him.
"Asato-kun?" she asked. "What are you doing here? Where have you been?" He didn't speak at first. The man pushed a coat to her.
"Come on," he whispered. "Let's go." Anna blinked at him.
"But why?" she asked.
"Just get up, get dressed, and come on!" Tsuzuki whispered. She didn't move at first. Tsuzuki kept trying to rush her.
"Come on, we don't have all night," he pushed. Anna dropped her shoulders.
"Okay, okay!" she said. "I'm going. I'm going." The woman climbed out of bed and got dressed. In thirty minutes, Anna and Tsuzuki were out on the city walking through the Christmas night just like they had planned before this whole mess started. Anna stood next to her fiancï¿½ uneasily.
"Asato-kun," she spoke up.
"Hm?" he asked.
She took in a deep breath. "Where have you been since that night?"
The shinigami smiled to himself. "If you had looked, you would've noticed that I had been there all along." It all became clear to her. He watched over her in her room. Tsuzuki left the box on the demons' doorstep. He guided them all to the truth.
"Be easy on her, Tatsumi. She's just worried about Anna-chan as much as we all are," Tsuzuki said to his former partner on the roof that morning when he was scolding Willow about calling her American friends. He had been there, but nobody saw him. They couldn't see him. Satoshi used a spell to turn the shinigami invisible to his friends. For an extra measure, the angel took his cell phone and kept his eyes on the outside the whole time. However, Anna wasn't ready to accept it yet. An icy feeling hit her spine. Somebody's following us!
"Is something wrong?" a voice asked. Anna almost jumped as she turned. Tsuzuki stared on intently.
"Are you okay?" he asked. His woman didn't speak at first. She clenched her fists and breathed hard.
"Asato-kun, tell me now," she said. "Would you kill me if you were ordered to?"
Tsuzuki didn't blink. "Yes." Shaken up, Anna took off running across the bridge. Tsuzuki took off after her. It didn't take long for him to catch her. She struggled to get away.
"Let me go!" Anna cried. Tsuzuki did the opposite. He held her close to his chest as she struggled.
"But I would quit my job before it came to that!" he declared in her ear. Anna froze in place. It all opened up wide to her. This was Tsuzuki, the man she loved. She could tell through his whole demeanor. Once the shinigami let go of her, they walked home in the snow hand in hand.