Chapter Twenty-Two: Re-Sublimity:

Emiko sat up in bed in the early hours of the morning. Hotaru lay asleep next to her. The butch demon remembered how she first met her girlfriend.


-October 6th, 1966-

Emiko looked around the wasteland known as Hell. Six whole years and nothing had changed. She reeled back, sneering.

It stinks here, Emiko thought. Six years of breathing clean air will do that to a demon, but she had work to do. The smell wasn't keeping her out. Emiko took in a breath and walked forward. Still the same as ever; nine circles of rotting despair. Now I know why I escaped, she thought. But, why come back? Chivalry.

This is for Sumire-chan, Emiko kept thinking. This is so we can be together! Hell had been corrupt since the Meiji Era. The officials took bribes to punish certain souls. As a result, souls with light sins or "innocents" as Emiko called them, ended up here. Her sexuality placed her in Hell. That would end today.

Emiko looked at the directory guide. All "sins" present and accounted for; same as ever here.  Where to begin? She ran finger up and down the chart. The butch demon settled on the second circle. Heh, lust sounds good. Emiko straightened up her uniform. Sumire helped her with this.

"Inspection is today," her friend had informed her. "You can get in this way." Emiko said nothing. She secretly enjoyed her angel dressing her. This was as close to intimacy as they would reach.

"What will I do there?" the butch demon asked.

"Just check things out," Sumire said.

"Right," Emiko replied. The women knew this was coming. It hurt them to think about this. Sumire fought back her tears as the butch demon tried to smile.

"Aww, what?" she asked. The other woman looked away.

"Nothing," she lied. Emiko felt sympathy for her. This might be the last time they would see each other for a while. The butch demon lifted Sumire's face.

"Come on," she said. "Don't be like that, I'll be back." Sumire looked at her with big, teary eyes.

"Promise me you will!" she pleaded. "Promise me!" Emiko held up her hands.

"Whoa!" she said. "We keep racking up the promises here!" Sumire pouted at her.

"Please!" she pleaded.

"Okay, okay," Emiko said. "I promise. I really do." Sumire calmed herself down.

"I love you," she murmured.

"I know," Emiko replied.

"Come back to me!" Sumire cried as her demon vanished.

"You have my word!" her love said with a salute.

Emiko walked up to the receptionist booth. A tired and bored Kazue was on shift this morning. Emiko smiled and waved at her.

"Good morning," she said. The gate keeper said nothing. Emiko kept her smile. Not much of a talking mood, huh? "I'm here for the second circle inspection."

Kazue said nothing as she rolled her eyes and unlocked the gate. The butch demon bowed her head.

"Have a good day," she said.

"Whatever," the gate keeper mumbled. Emiko walked away, shrugging. So much fog surrounded the butch demon as she made her way out of the elevator. I can't see anything! Damn it! Emiko used the moans and cries to guide her further in. A heated wind blasted her in the face.

"Ack," she said, nearly falling backwards. She fought to stay vertical and walk forward. The heat stung at her cheeks like needles.

"Damn it!" she hissed. "I'm not turning back now! You can't make me!" A soft murmur caught her ear. Emiko looked up and followed the sound. She came upon a mossy area. Two men were harassing a woman dressed as a sales' clerk. She crouched in the corner of the lobby trembling.

"No! Get away!" she cried over the hollowing winds. One man grabbed at her perky chest.

"Come on, baby!" he said. "You might as well. We're all going to be stuck here forever!"

"No! No!" the woman screamed. The man ripped open her blouse and forcefully kissed her on the lips.

"Come on," the other man said. "You know you want to!" The woman tried to fight his friend off as he walked over to her with his hand aiming for her breasts.

"No! Get off! Get off!" she screamed over and over again. Emiko couldn't take anymore. She stormed over to the woman and her attackers.

"That's enough!" the butch demon snapped. She pushed away the men in one powerful blow. The creeps fell to the ground with a thud. The ugly leader growled at her.

"You!" he snapped. He and his pal charged forward to attack. Emiko smirked at her. Idiots! With one spin-kick, the randy thugs were out cold at her feet. She looked down, shaking her head. They never learn, she thought. The butch demon pulled away the woman to safety with one snatch. Emiko didn't stop until they reached the grassy border. Both women sat on the dirt ground. The victim breathed out.

"You okay?" Emiko asked. The woman looked up at her. The butch demon froze as that feeling came again. This woman�s soft round face reminded her of Sumire. Emiko found herself lost in those dreamy violet eyes. Emiko ached to kiss those full little lips. Even the woman�s full breasts flirted with her. Emiko resisted whispering out Sumire's name with so much love.

"Yeah," the other woman said. "Thank you for saving me!" Emiko smiled as she rubbed the back of her head.

"Heh. I hate pervs like that," she said. The demon suddenly remembered her mission. "Say, why are you here in Hell?" The woman lowered her head.

"I don't want to say�" she mumbled. Emiko gently rubbed her shoulders.

"Don't worry," she murmured. "Take your time if you need to."

The other woman lowered her head. "It was a man."

"Huh?" Emiko asked. The woman looked up at her.

"I fell in love with a man," she explained.

"Okay," her savior said. "So what happened?" The woman's lips trembled before she spoke.

"I used to be a sales clerk in a top-notch department store in Tokyo," she began. "I lived a normal life as a single girl trying to make it on her own. Then, I met this beautiful man. He was shopping around for a gift for an old classmate of his. I helped him and he asked me out for coffee. Well, one thing led to another and we ended up in a two year affair together."

"And things went wrong?" Emiko asked.

"Yep, pretty much," the other woman said.

"So, what happened?"

The woman pressed her lips together tighter. "His wife tricked me into meeting up a love hotel. Then, she beat me to death and left my body there on the floor."

"Men suck," she said.

"Yeah!" the woman agreed. Emiko held out her hand.

"I'm Emiko," she said. The woman hesitated at first.

"H-Hotaru," she replied as she lifted her hand.


-Present day-

Emiko smiled to herself, shaking her head. Well, damn, that's two people I have a promise to keep to. Still, she didn't really mind it for love.