Piercing bright blue eyes looked at her accusingly. Her heart tightened in her chest and her throat seemed to burn, making her unable to utter a single word. His lips moved, and she expected to hear the voice she knew better than her own, the voice she loved and longed to hear every single day. But her ears met only silence. And yet, she knew the word he spoke. It resonated within her mind, making her ears ring and her legs tremble. A foul taste lingered in her mouth and her body was washed over in hot and cold over and over again as he only looked at her, the sad lips repeating the word relentlessly.

'Why?'

Iki Hiyori awoke with a start. Her brown hair stuck to her sweaty forehead and her bust heaved with strained breaths. For a moment, she was utterly confused, and she barely recognized her surroundings. Only slowly did she sense the familiarity of her student apartment; the small room with beige walls adorned with happy family and friends' pictures, the study desk she spent most of her time pondering over complicated medical books at. There was a potted plant in the corner she took care of lovingly, a gift of her best friend, and a grand cupboard to store her clothing. A small couch with adorable cushions stood in front of a tiny television, serving as her place to relax with a cup of coffee after a long day of studying.

It was all familiar, seeing as she had lived there for years. And yet, it felt out of place. She felt out of place. Something was wrong, terribly wrong, and Hiyori drew her knees closer to her chest, hugging them tightly as she tried to remember the dream already hazing in her memory.

What did I just dream of? she wondered, shuddering softly. There was... a man. A man with blue eyes like the sky on a clear and happy day. And suddenly, a clarity she had not had for years hit her.

"Yato!" she cried out his name, almost jumping from her bed. Memories lost for years flooded back to her, making her tremble. She pressed her hands on her mouth, her pink eyes wide in shock. "Yato," she repeated, her voice now an unbelieving whisper.

I forgot! I forgot about him and Yukine, the time we spent together. About Kofuku and Daikoku, Bishamon and Kazuma. I forgot about all of them and everything that had happened! The realization made her feel ill and her cheeks burned in shame and fear. She buried her hands in her hair, tearing at it as she bit her lip to keep herself from screaming. Just how could I forget about them!?

She leapt out of her bed over to her desk's drawer. Feverishly, with shaking hands, she searched through it, until she found, beneath a mass of textbooks and notes, the diary. Hiyori started to feel dizzy, so she sat down on her cushioned chair before she opened the small book. With a heavily pounding heart, she read the first entry.

'2nd of May. Yato woke me up by calling my cell. He wanted to go out for breakfast and was already at the front of my parents' house. I could hear Yukine complaining in the background. After I cursed at Yato for being so inconsiderate, I quickly threw on my coat and hurried down. Mother asked where I was going, so I told her a lie about having to do homework. The three of us went to the café...'

Hiyori turned the pages, her eyes skimming this entry and the following ones. She had written down every single day of her life, even if it was just a sentence or two, though it usually was more due to Yato being there and turning her days into a bubbly mess. And then one day, the entries just stopped. With a foul taste in her mouth, Hiyori read the last entry carefully, her eyes and mind searching for a reason as to why she could have forgotten.

'Today I had exams. Yato and Yukine sat in front of the window; Yato cheered for me and Yukine yelled at Yato to let me be. I couldn't concentrate at all, so I cursed at them after my exams. I know they only mean well, but sometimes, this god and his shinki can be quite a handful. To celebrate the end of another term, we want to go to a theme park tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it.'

"That's it?" Hiyori mumbled to herself, disbelieving. She turned a few more pages, but there was nothing more. No hint of as to why she had forgotten, no hint as to what happened afterwards. Hiyori choked back her tears, her eyes burning terribly.

What has happened? She looked around her room, which felt cold and empty to her. The pictures on the walls showed her smiling with friends and family, but her two most important friends were missing. Yato and Yukine should be on them, Hiyori thought with a tightening heart. She looked over to the picture of her entrance ceremony to university, two years ago. Her parents stood proudly beside her, but the two who would have cheered for her the most, the two who would throw a totally inappropriate party without her consent were nowhere to be seen.

With a silent cry, Hiyori bent over, the tears falling from her eyes. She cried after the years she had lost, irrevocably lost. The moments they could have, should have spent together. Her heart was beating so heavy and heard that Hiyori heard it ringing in her ears. She pressed her hands on them, trying to control herself, but her mind was going wild.

How did this happen!? We wanted to do so much together. I wanted to be with them longer. I promised them! She bit her lip until she tasted blood, and a shine of resolve crossed her eyes. Resolute, she brushed over her eyes until the tears were gone. She strode over to her cupboard and threw on some clothes, trying to keep her mind from breaking. Don't think about the 'why', Hiyori, she ordered herself as she left her flat, locking the door. Her legs were still shaking, her head was dizzy and her stomach felt sick, but she threw her shoulders back and walked on.

I don't know what has happened, she told herself as she crossed a street. But I will figure it out. I will set things right. I will see them again.

As she had gained some distance from the disturbingly familiar yet unfamiliar home she had lived in for years, Hiyori pulled out her phone, belatedly realizing something. She had not hoped for much, but when she did not find Yato's number in her contact list, she still felt a sting of pain piercing her heart. Firmly, she shook her head. Of course it wouldn't be so easy!

But she was far from losing hope. Drawing a deep breath, Hiyori yelled at the top of her lungs, "Yato! Yukine! I remember again!" Her answer was silence. Disheartened, she gulped down another splurge of tears threatening to throw her down. After wrapping herself closer in her coat against the cold, Hiyori marched forward, eyes burning yet grim. She knew that asking any of her human friends about Yato and Yukine would yield her as much of an answer as asking an empty trash can. But I have other friends.

It was difficult for her to find her way back to Kofuku's and Daikoku's place. After not having walked the path for years, she stopped frequently and turned her head many ways. She even had to ask for directions a couple of times, which proved difficult as she could not possibly ask ordinary humans for the home of a goddess and her shinki.

But finally, she found the shop she was searching for. Hiyori looked this way and that, but there was no sign of a pink-haired goddess or a grim looking shinki. "It won't be any good when I'm in this form, though," she admitted to herself. Hiyori looked back, eying her behind suspiciously. "I have never tried to leave my body behind willingly. It always just happened."

A chill ran over her body as she thought of the possibility that she may no longer be able to do that. With no memory or idea of how or why she lost her memory, Hiyori could not tell whether she had been 'fixed'. She felt ill at the thought, but shook her head vehemently. No, no, I'm sure I am still half a phantom! If fixing me had been that easy, then Yato would have done it the first day. There was more of persuasion in her voice than she would like to admit to herself.

Trying to suppress her panic, Hiyori drew some deep breaths. Calm yourself. Try to be sleepy. She tried to ignore the fact that she hadn't fallen asleep in class or something like that for years. Instead, she focused on calming her breathing and slowing down her heart. Her eyebrows twitched in concentration and her lips were pressed together thinly.

Come on, come on. Sleep, Hiyori. Sleep. She pictured Yato and Yukine in front of her mind's eye. The young boy with the blond hair seemed to stretch his hand out, clad fashionably as he always was. In contrast was his god, wearing his ever-present tracksuit. But Yato's smile was just as genuine, and his blue eyes were bright and wonderful. Her heartbeat quickened and Hiyori blushed at the memory of his touch, his voice, his scent. Please. I want to see them again.

Suddenly, she felt lighter. Hiyori shot her eyes open and looked back, part fear, part hope. Behind her laid her body, snoozing away soundly, and Hiyori had never felt so happy about that. Triumphantly, she raised her fists at the sky and cried out. "Yes!" She wagged her pink cord like a tail, taking a leap of happiness. If I can still become like this, then I can also find them!

With new-found courage and strength, she ran into the house she knew and liked better than her own. "Kofuku! Daikoku! I'm back!" Her voice almost rang, breathless and confused as she was.

From inside, she heard a loud clanging and clattering, paired with a dark curse. A second later, a middle-aged man looked around the corner, his dark red eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Hiyori?" The disbelief in his voice was apparent.

Hiyori felt her heart almost skip a beat at the sight of the familiar face. "Daikoku!" She ran over to him and threw her arms around his broad chest despite herself. The shinki stumbled back, his black apron flinging slightly. For a moment, he said or did nothing. But then, Hiyori felt him pat her back and his chest shivering. Worried, she looked up. "Daikoku, what's –?"

"I'm so glad you're back!" Tears were streaming down his usually serious face, his stubbly chin quivering with emotion. He drew Hiyori closer to him and hugged her tightly, pressing the air out of her lungs. "You are truly, finally back!"

"Daikoku," Hiyori mumbled moved, despite the pain his hug caused her. Awkwardly, she wrapped her arms around him once more, patting his pink shirt. She closed her eyes, inhaling a scent she considered 'home'. "Yes, I'm back. I'm sorry I'm late."

Daikoku released her, his eyes red and puffy. He shook his head and sniffed. "Hiyori. Here, sit down. I will bring you some tea and my lady. It has been years! We thought..." He stopped himself, a look of pain crossing his face.

Hiyori leaned forward. "You thought?" she echoed, but the shinki shook his head once more, this time dismissively.

"Nothing, nothing. At any rate, sit down and wait a moment. And take off your shoes, I just swept the floor the other day." He put up a grim expression again, trying to compose himself. Hurriedly, he turned around and called for his goddess.

Confused, Hiyori looked after him for a second. She felt slightly uneasy at his words, but decided to follow his orders regardless. Dutifully, she took off her shoes and placed them at the entrance. Then, she unwrapped her coat and hung it above a chair before she sat on her knees. Nervously, she brushed over her long blue skirt as she looked around. It all looks just like the day I was here last. The notion put a nostalgic smile on her face. Gods do not change so quickly, after all.

A loud sound from above ripped Hiyori out of her thoughts. Startled, she looked up, just in time to see Kofuku almost flying towards her. "Hiyori~n!" The called one was thrown back by the impact, but this didn't stop the goddess from rubbing her cheeks against the other one's face. "Is that truly you, Hiyorin? My, you have grown so much, you are a proper lady now!"

Cold and warmth went through Hiyori's body simultaneously. She laughed awkwardly, but returned the goddess' hug sincerely. "It's really me, Kofuku. I'm sorry I was gone for so long."

Quickly, the goddess sat up and waved her hand, her pink her flying wildly as she bobbed her head along. "Nah, don't sweat it. Gods and their shinki have a~ll the time in the world. Isn't that right, my Daikoku?"

The shinki nodded sincerely, only to stop mid-nod and slam his hand onto Kofuku's head. "My lady, you shouldn't talk so carelessly in front of Hiyori," he lectured, but his goddess gave only a sheepish smile.

"Carelessly?" Hiyori asked. The tea cup in front of her mouth halted as she looked at goddess and shinki questioningly. Instead of taking a sip, she put the cup down, her somewhat relaxed expression changing to a grave one. "Kofuku. Daikoku. I have to ask you: What has happened?"

Daikoku sighed, taking out a cigarette. He muttered something Hiyori grasped as 'I wish we hadn't talked about it so soon', but it was Kofuku who answered.

"You have forgotten completely, haven't you, Hiyorin?" There was nothing playful about the pink-haired goddess anymore as her purple eyes were locked firmly to Hiyori's.

The woman gulped, the pain from the morning back gnawing at her heart and mind. Slowly, she nodded. "I had forgotten until this morning." She had to pause for a moment, confusion plain on her face. "I... don't know what has happened. When I had none of you in my contacts anymore, I came here to talk to you. I'm so glad I managed to switch into this form." A soft smile graced her lips. Then, her eyes hardened again and she looked up to face the goddess directly. "I will ask you once more: What has happened?"

"We don't know." Kofuku spoke the words with regret and pain, emotions usually alien to the happy goddess. "A day after your exams six years ago, you just suddenly stopped coming over. At first, Daikoku and I thought you were busy with celebration, but..." Her expression darkened.

Eying his goddess attentively, Daikoku took over, "It seems that for whatever reason, you suddenly lost the ability to see people like us."

A chill ran down Hiyori's spine. It was just like she had imagined, yet hearing it was a whole different matter.

After giving the young woman a moment to process the thought, Daikoku went on, "You see, we had hoped it was just a phase. Humans are quick to forget about us and, no offense, but you had forgotten about us in the past before. We thought 'maybe it has something to do with her exams' or that you were just preoccupied with human matters. But when days turned into weeks, we realized it was more serious than that." He stopped briefly to clear his throat.

"So we went to talk to you directly. As you can imagine, my lady and I were quite... flashy. But even while other humans became aware of our presence, you just saw right through us. It went so far we couldn't even touch you."

"It was horrible," Kofuku suddenly broke in with dull eyes. "We called out for you, tried to touch you but... it was like you were in another dimension. A dimension even I could not reach." The goddess shuddered.

Hiyori gulped, her heart feeling heavy in her chest. "I... I had no idea. I'm so sorry." She lowered her head for a moment. Then, she looked up slowly. "Did you ever find out why?"

Slowly, both goddess and shinki shook their heads. "We have some suspicions," Daikoku said, "but we can't say for sure. Especially now that you came here." Her face must have been question enough, for Daikoku explained, "Up until now, we thought that maybe, someone somehow severed your ties to us so strongly that you couldn't even meet us again."

"Is that possible?" Hiyori gasped surprised.

The shinki frowned disturbed. "Well, that is the thing. As far as we know, no." He briefly looked over to Kofuku, who shook her head affirmatively. "But there are many gods and many shinki, so we couldn't rule it out. But all that thinking is for naught now that you're here, obviously remembering us and all."

Hiyori nodded slowly, her mind trying to follow along with all those complicating turns. It was greatly different to her usual Saturday morning routine. "Then what else could have happened?"

Her two friends were silent for a while. It was Daikoku again who shrugged and said, "Honestly, Hiyori, we do not know. Maybe someone cursed you. Maybe someone bound you and made you unable to see us. We have no idea and probably never will."

"Maybe it was him." Kofuku's voice was so quiet that Hiyori had difficulty hearing her at first.

"What? Who?"

The goddess looked up angrily. "A man you know by the name of Fujisaki Kouto."

Hiyori drew a sharp breath. The bare mention of his name made her feel ire at the man who attacked her family's hospital and hurt people she loved dearly. Clenching her fists, Hiyori asked, "Do you think he is capable of doing such a thing?"

"Since we still do not fully understand who or what he was – yes," Daikoku answered pointedly. He heaved a sigh and ruffled his short black hair. "But in essence, it doesn't matter as much. All that is important to me – to us – is that you finally remembered and came back to us." He gave Hiyori a strained smile, which was returned just as worried.

"Say, Hiyorin," Kofuku said quietly. Both shinki and human turned their heads to the goddess who gave off a bad aura. "Why did you remember?"

Hiyori blinked in surprise for a few times. "What do you mean?"

Kofuku bit her lip, anger almost gushing out beneath her barely kept facade. "You had forgotten about us for six years. You finished school, moved, started going to university, had a relationship with a boy for two years – all that without a sign of remembering us at all. What has happened that you suddenly did?"

Uncomfortably, Hiyori shifted in her seat. "This night, I had a dream about Yato." His name passed her lips only slowly. She saw Daikoku twitching at the mention, and a bad feeling started to settle in her chest, worse than the ones she had had before. Daikoku is right – it doesn't matter as much why I forgot. There's something much more important.

Hiyori leaned forward, her pink eyes showing equal parts fear and resolve. "Daikoku, Kofuku. What about Yato? How did he react? Where is he now? You didn't mention him at all the whole time, but I still sense that something has happened." She gulped, and only reluctantly asked, "What is with Yato?"

Silence spread like a shroud. It weighed down on the three, numbing Hiyori's ears until the only thing she could hear was her own heartbeat, unsteady and worried. Kofuku was looking down on her hands, unusually quiet and ill-tempered, and Daikoku had closed his eyes, his head leaned back as if in agony.

Hiyori shivered and wrung her hands. "Please," she managed to force out despite the lump in her throat. "Tell me. I need to know. How did he react to my not seeing you – seeing him? What did he do? Where is he now? I..." She tried to work up a smile, but failed. "I need to see him and apologize."

"You can't." Kofuku's voice was empty. The goddess had clasped her hands so tightly the knuckles became white, and when Daikoku tried to pat her shoulder, she shook him off harshly. The shinki twitched, obviously hurt, but he did not impose on his goddess any further. The look in his eyes showed how he had almost expected this behavior.

Kofuku looked up to meet Hiyori's eyes, and her purple ones were filled with sadness. She parted her lips, and a part of Hiyori wanted to scream at her to stop, for she felt she was not ready for what she was about to hear.

"Hiyorin, Yatty is... Yatty is gone."

Hiyori felt like she lost connection to her body – her soul – once again. She was unable to move at all, even unable to breathe as she stared at Kofuku. Her mind was racing, trying to comprehend the meaning behind those words, those few, simple words which managed to destroy her world so easily. She did not want to understand and yet understood so well.

Kofuku saw her pain and tried to smile, but the usually happy and positive, energetic goddess was void of all strength. The purple eyes seemed dull and were full of pain, and her pink lips tried to form words, but failed. Finally, the goddess looked to Daikoku pleadingly, and the shinki sighed.

"Hiyori," he started, his voice showing how unsure he was of what to say. With another sigh, he brushed over his hair. "Yato was the first to notice your change. Of course he was. And he did... Hiyori, he did all he could." Daikoku tried to put some comfort into his voice, into his words, but his lips shivered in pain. "Whatever we did, he did it thrice and more. He was by your side for weeks, months, calling out to you and trying to touch you. Yukine was much the same, of course, though no one could match Yato's anger and desperation. He even... he killed Fujisaki."

Daikoku paused, to see whether Hiyori would react, but the young woman just stared at him with wide pink eyes. He could guess that there was some reaction within her, but that she was unable to express that. With another groan filled with agony, he went on, "He had a similar suspicion as my lady did. When your... state did not change after three months, he confronted his 'father', but Fujisaki only laughed at him." The anger now appearing in Daikoku's voice was unmistakable. "While that person never admitted anything, Yato was convinced it was all his fault and in the end he lost it. With his Sekki, he not only killed the body that person had possessed but also the spirit itself. But even after Fujisaki's death, your condition did not change." Again, the shinki paused, though this time rather to gather himself than to wait for Hiyori's reaction.

"He and Yukine kept watching over you for months, but the more time passed, the more Yato changed. He stopped taking jobs and he ignored the few prayers he received. After two years, Yukine pleaded for him to move on somehow – and I tell you, the boy was just as much in agony as Yato was over losing you. But his master ignored his blessed shinki's advice."

"He just couldn't," Kofuku suddenly took over with a sad voice. She smiled sadly at Hiyori, touching the other's hand feather-like. "Yatty cared for you a lot, Hiyorin. And even though we all knew – thought – you won't remember us anymore, he couldn't let you go." Her voice dropped. "But Yatty was no popular god. And when he kept ignoring his prayers, he started to fade from the people's memories. And then..."

The sentence hung in the air for a moment, unfinished yet unmistakable. Still, Daikoku found it important to say, "And then, he was gone. From one day to the other, the Yato god ceased to exist with nothing left behind, except for a small hand-crafted shrine and his lost shinki."

The tears fell from Hiyori's eyes without her doing. Hot and accusing, they rolled down her cheeks and got caught in the corner's of her mouth to leave their bitter, salty taste. Finally, she regained control over her body, only to lean forward, curling up into a ball, sobbing desperately. Her heart seemed to have exploded like a glass, ripping her soul and mind up with every breath she took, every breath in a world where he did not beloved face of a dorky, yet genuinely lovingly god appeared in front of her mind's eye, only to be washed away like a canvas drained in acetone.

Gone. Gone. Yato was gone. Without her being able to say goodbye, to take him into her arms or tell him how much he meant to her. The pain ate through her soul and Hiyori crooked until she felt like breaking.

No. No no no no no no no. He can't be gone. He can't!

Without her knowing it, she sobbed, "But I wanted to be with him! I wanted to be with him forever!"

Kofuku and Daikoku looked at one another with sadness in their eyes. Softly, Kofuku took the human girl into her arms, gently patting the shaking back. Tears fell quietly from Daikoku's closed eyes.

Hiyori wrapped her arms around the goddess, crying out desperately, "Why!? Why did this happen? Why did he disappear! Yato was... Yato was..."

Everything.

Yato had been everything from the moment they met. She remembered how he had flipped her five yen coin through the air, how his sweaty, yet wonderfully careful hands had held hers countless times, how his divine scent had become her most favorite one. The times they laughed, the times they yelled at one another. His jokes, his awful jokes that never failed to make her happy. His sincerity of wanting to become a god of fortune, of wanting to change.

And her promise. Her promise of never forgetting about him. Like a knife, this promise cut through Hiyori's heart and made her cry out even louder. With her fist, she pounded on the ground.

"I'm so stupid," she cursed at herself. "Yato has always, always been there for me, and he did so much, and all I gave him was a promise I did not keep." She bit her lip and tasted blood, but that was better, so much better than tasting her tears.

"Don't say that, Hiyorin." Kofuku raised the young woman's chin so their eyes could meet. Despite their agony, Kofuku's purple ones showed reassurance. "You were very dear to Yatty, and still are dear to all of us. It was not your fault you forgot. And Yatty knew that."

"But still," Hiyori protested crying. "If only I had snapped out of it earlier. I could have saved him! I could still be with him!" Once more, she broke into crying, unable to say or do anything else. The uneasy feeling she had held within her chest since that morning had exploded into a mass of agony and self-hatred, and it all unleashed itself in her tears of defiance and pain. As she drowned in pain, her friends had no better or other idea than to hold her shaking, crying body until the tears ceased.

It was well into the night when Hiyori had calmed herself enough for Kofuku and Daikoku to talk to the hurt woman. The shinki had prepared some tea and a light soup, but Hiyori pushed her bowl away. Daikoku scowled. "You need to eat, Hiyori. Do not dare repeat his mistake."

Tears welled up in her pink eyes, but Hiyori nodded bravely and forced some spoonfuls into her roaring stomach. She realized how Daikoku and Kofuku eyed her worriedly, so she tried her best to contain herself. Her eyes felt raw and burned and her voice could only sound quietly after all her crying. "Yukine," she mumbled pained. "What happened to Yukine?"

Daikoku poured her some more soup. "We don't know. After Yato... disappeared, Yukine's name went along with his master. He stayed at our place for no more than a couple of days, then packed his things and left." Daikoku's eyes softened a bit. "He said he did not want to be a burden to us."

"I offered him to make him my shinki," Kofuku added. "Yukki is a wonderful, pretty boy and like family to Daikoku and me. I was already coming up with a great name, but Yukki said that he doesn't want that. He doesn't want to become anyone's shinki. He said that there is just one god for him."

"He's loyal to Yato even after his death," Hiyori whispered with a tightening throat. Some of her tears fell into her soup, but she still forced herself to eat it. Brave, wonderful, strong Yukine. You truly were the best thing that could have ever happened to Yato – or me. She missed the bright boy almost as much as she missed Yato, but it soothed her to know that he was still somewhere. At least he existed.

Suddenly, she stood up. She felt like she was about to burst if she stayed any longer – the faces of Kofuku and Daikoku reminded her too much of times irrevocably lost. "I'm sorry I imposed on you for so long. I should be heading home now."

"What?" Daikoku stared at her. "But Hiyori, we haven't seen each other in ages! And besides, I wouldn't feel well knowing you're all al-"

"Of course," Kofuku just talked over her shinki after giving him a firm kick. "You have your own apartment, after all. Just know that you can stop by any time. We love having you over for dinner, Hiyorin." She and Hiyori exchanged sad smiles and caring hugs.

With slow movements, the human gathered her belongings and waved goodbye to her friends. Then, she moved on to get her body back and make her way home.

Kofuku and Daikoku waved after her even long after she was out of sight. Warily, Daikoku eyed his goddess. "My lady, are you sure it was wise to let her go?"

The goddess smiled lightly. "Daikoku, I am betting all of my money on Hiyorin losing her mind and committing suicide."

Her shinki gasped and stared at her, startled. Daikoku's mouth was open in protest, but then, Kofuku turned her head and tears shimmered in her purple eyes. "If I bet on it, it cannot happen, right? Hiyorin will be fine, right?"

With a relieved sigh, Daikoku pat his goddess' hair. "Of course, my lady. Hiyori will be fine."


Hiyori entered her apartment like a robot. Mechanically, she locked the door behind her, took off her cloak and shoes and sat on her bed. She only noticed she was crying again when her face started to burn so badly she had to press a cool cloth against it.

Yato is truly... The thought hurt to much for her to finish it, even only in her mind. Regret and pain made her body shake violently, and Hiyori wrapped her arms around herself to keep herself from falling apart.

This morning, my greatest fear was that I wasted some years, she thought with a bitter smile. But I lost him forever.

She sobbed, her lips bitten bloody and raw. Hiyori pressed her face against her pillow, trying to gather some sense of sanity. "Oh Yato," she whispered his name longingly. "Just what am I to do? What should I do without you? I need you." She hugged her pillow even tighter, shaking in sobs and cries. With her eyes pressed shut, she tried to erect his image in front of her mind's eye, promising herself that she would never allow herself to forget him again.

Suddenly, she had a thought. She got up and walked over to her cupboard, pulling out the box of random things she had carried over from her parents' house. She found the things she was looking for, and a soft, sad smile formed on her hurting lips. Taking the study materials off her desk and gathering glue and scissors, she slowly set to work.

The brightly shining moon switched places with a rising sun, and Hiyori still sat at her desk. The golden and red light of dawn slowly crept into her room when she finally finished. With a sigh, Hiyori rubbed the sweat from her forehead and took a step back from the desk, inspecting her work.

On it stood a small replica of a shrine. Just like the one she had created for Yato once already, so many years ago, it read his name and had Yukine's spirit form on the back of it. It was crooked and small, but she had created it to the best of her efforts, and she liked to tell herself it was a bit better than her previous one.

Hiyori's eyes swam in tears as she looked at it. She closed them, and the tears rolled down her pink cheeks. Clapping twice, Hiyori bowed forward. "Oh Yatogami. Please watch over me and save my soul. Help me to never forget those I love so dearly. Let my feelings reach them, where ever they are." Even after her prayer, she kept her eyes closed, trying to stop the tears which fell onto her bloody and scratched hands.

Suddenly, a gust of air came from behind and made her hair flutter forward wildly. A chill ran down her spine and Hiyori spun around, staring at the figure sitting on her bed, dumbfounded.

Scratching his dark violet hair, Yato looked around, confused. His bright blue eyes blinked repeatedly, his nose visibly sniffed the air. There were scratches on his cheeks and hands, and specks of blight all over his body. His tracksuit was torn at parts and covered in dust and dirt. He looked ragged and lost, and his expression only added to that impression.

But when his eyes found Hiyori, all confusion left him. The sky blue pools widened in realization, and a ragged call got caught in his throat. "Hi-! Hiyori!" Yato leapt from the bed, stumbling as if he was not used to moving his legs anymore. He spread his arms wide and enveloped the woman with them, hugging her so close that the air was pressed out of Hiyori's lungs.

She gasped, another splurge of tears streaming down her eyes in shock. Her mind was a twirl of thoughts, each fighting for recognition, but doubt nagged at her.

"Is that... really you?" Her voice was a shy whisper, her body stiff in nervous anticipation.

Yato loosened his grip around her, keeping her at an arm's distance without his fingers leaving her shoulders. His blue was searching for her pink, completely unaware of the shudder this sent down Hiyori's spine. "What do you mean? Of course it's me. Have you ever seen a god as great as me?" A grin appeared on his features, despite his obvious injuries and weakness.

Hiyori gulped. Slowly, her bruised hands reached up for his cheeks. She caressed them once, twice, feeling his warmth spreading towards her. Closing her eyes, Hiyori leaned forward, until her head rested directly beneath his chin. She inhaled deeply, his scent almost clouding her mind, and she shuddered against him. Unknowingly, her hands gripped his arms, nails digging into the fabric of his tracksuit. "It's really you," she whispered, her heart at the verge of bursting. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly, afraid that the moment would pass and expose itself as a mere illusion. She was sleep-deprived, heartbroken and confused, so any sort of hallucination would be cruel, yet plausible. It was a thought she could not bear, so instead she buried her head deeper into his chest, biting back tears, and quietly said, "Welcome home, Yato."

After a moment of surprised hesitation, Yato hugged her back, and she felt him smiling against her hair. "It's good to be back." His voice seemed to fill the room and penetrate through her body until it reached the wounds in her heart, slowly mending them.

"Yato!" A voice from the door made the two jump, and they turned their heads without letting go of the other. Heavily breathing, Yukine stared at them. His amber eyes were like molten gold as they filled up with tears. He choked them back and tried to glare at Yato. "Where have you been so long, you old fart? Saying you're an almighty god and all" - he wiped over his runny nose with his sleeves, trying to hide his wet eyes - "when you cannot even make it for Hiyori's college enrollment. Seriously, you're the worst."

Yato looked at his shinki with understanding eyes. With his left hand still holding on to Hiyori, he stretched out his right. "Come, Yukine. My one and only shinki."

The address made Yukine jump and blush. Only reluctantly, the boy walked over and took his god's hand. He scrunched his nose. "It's sweaty."

Instead of giving a reply, Yato pulled his exemplar close, until Yukine was tightly sandwiched between the god and the human. The boy gasped surprised, but when he felt both Yato and Hiyori hugging him tight, he couldn't fight against his tears anymore. With shaking shoulders, he gripped Yato's sleeve and Hiyori's back, sobbing uncontrollably. "I missed you two so much," he cried out. "When Hiyori forgot about us, everything changed. I thought I could deal with it – I knew I had to deal with it – but it hurt so much." He sniffed loudly, and Hiyori found herself pressing a kiss on his head, tears dripping down her cheeks.

"And then," Yukine went on with many breaks and huffs of breath, "after we dealt with Fujisaki and Nora, Yato, you just..." All of a sudden, the shinki looked up, his amber eyes glaring accusingly at his master. "How could you just give up like that!? Stopping to answer prayers, to talk with anyone – do you know how much it hurt? I already lost Hiyori, and then, I had to lose you!" He choked back another wave of tears.

Yato looked at his shinki in astonishment. With a serious expression, so unfitting for his usual self, he lowered his head. "I'm sorry, Yukine. I forgot about my duty as a god – as your god." He squeezed Yukine's shoulder. "I just... I couldn't..." His blue eyes glanced over at Hiyori, only for Yato to blush and avert his gaze quickly again. He cleared his throat and tried to regain his composure. Letting go of his two friends, the god took a step back. Then, he formed a triangle with his hands, placed them on the ground and lowered himself until his forehead rested directly behind his thumbs. "Forgive me, Yukine, Hiyori. I acted recklessly and selfishly, causing you worry and pain. I forgot about my duty and the promises I gave both of you. No better than a phantom, I lived off pain and despair until I disappeared. There is no excuse for my behavior." The god's voice trembled until he once more said, "I am truly sorry."

Yukine and Hiyori blinked at one another. A soft smile formed on Hiyori's lips, and Yukine was quick to respond with a happy face of his own. Together, they took hold of Yato's hands and pulled the god up to his feet. Yato gasped surprised, but when he meet the true smiles of his friends, his eyes watered as well. In one heartbeat, his face lit up and a smile almost too big for his face appeared. "Seriously, it's so good to see you two again! And I'm hungry – say, Hiyori, don't you get any discounts, now that you're a college student?"

The young woman glared at him, annoyed. "And you're back to normal in no time," she muttered, but Yato had already swung his arm around Yukine, loudly claiming how he would climb up the ladder of gods and be one of the most revered ones by the end of the month. A vein began to throb at Hiyori's temple. "At least listen to me when I talk, you-"

"And then, you see, I will build a throne like this." Yato gestured wildly, completely ignoring Yukine's bored and far-off expression. "It won't take long to gather thousands of followers – once people notice my awesomeness, they will send me their prayers by the millions, and I will listen to them like a true god of fortune and -"

"Learn to listen to one person first!" Hiyori roared. Once she had jumped into the air, all it took was a twist of her body to grant Yato the sensation of her most favorite Jungle Savate. The god cried out in pain as he flew back and hit the wall, but Hiyori just glowered at him. Rolling her shoulder, she approached him threateningly. "What do you even think? You disappear for years, have Yukine and me worried crazy and then we won't even get an explanation as to where you went or how you came back?" Belatedly, Hiyori noticed the tears swimming in her eyes. Angrily, she brushed over them. Placing her hands at her hips, she tried to keep up her threatening posture.

With cat-like eyes, Yato looked up at her. "No need to get so violent, Hiyori," he mumbled hurt, a pout on his lips.

"If I were Hiyori, you would have gotten much more than a Jungle Savate," Daikoku commented from the window. The trio jumped and turned, to see the shinki and his goddess casually sitting on the sill.

"Wh-what are you doing there?" Hiyori gasped startled.

Kofuku turned her head and gave the young woman her goofy smile. "Why, we felt some notable accumulation of divinity in the area and thought we'd come and check."

"No, I mean, what are you doing there," Hiyori repeated with emphasis. "That is my sill."

"Oh, we're sorry, Hiyori. We know it's impolite to enter so abruptly through the window and -"

"This is the sixth floor!"

Goddess and shinki looked at the human for a moment. Daikoku opened his mouth a several times, obviously wondering whether it was necessary for him to point out that they couldn't be harmed by a fall from any height as beings from the far-shore. But before he could make up his mind, Kofuku turned to the freshly returned Yato and gave him a grand smile. "Welcome back, Yatty~!" She jumped towards him, flinging her arms around his hunched over posture.

"Argh, Kofuku! It's good to see you again, but you really shouldn't be here." Yato tried to pry the little goddess of himself, even more quickly so when Daikoku glared at him and the non-existent space between the two divines. "When you're here, the building might break down or -"

"Stop crying wolf!" Yukine called in worry, anxiously eying the corners of Hiyori's room for any eminent damage.

"Eeh?" Kofuku made, disappointed. "So you're not happy to see me at all, Yatty, Yukki?" Theatratical tears appeared in her purple eyes, and Daikoku cracked his knuckles at Yukine and Yato, who broke into nervous blabbering.

"Ah, no, you see, we're really happy to see you, Kofuku!"

"This is the best moment in years, really!"

Despite herself, Hiyori had to chuckle. Softly at first, she soon broke out in a fit of laughter, until all of her friends looked at her curiously.

"Has she snapped?" Yukine asked towards Daikoku, but the older shinki shook his head softly.

"No, she's happy."

"Happy?" Yukine echoed in surprise. He looked back to Hiyori, who held her stomach, laughing and completely unaware of her throbbing hands or raw eyes. An understanding smile formed on Yukine's face and the young shinki nodded to himself. Shooting a glare over to Yato, who kept looking at Hiyori in fascination, he said, "This doesn't answer the question as to where you were, tracksuit."

The blue-eyed god blinked twice, ripped out of his thoughts. He turned his head to Yukine and gave a sheepish grin. "Oh, that? Well, I was gone."

Yukine growled. "That's no explanation, idiot! Where were you?"

Yato smiled a bit more softly. "I was... well, it's difficult. I think I was where gods go when they're forgotten." His eyes dulled a bit in sadness. "It was an empty place. There where shadows all around me, but none would acknowledge my existence. Time seemed to stretch endlessly, with nothing for me to do and nowhere for me to go." The god shuddered. "But then, I heard Hiyori speaking my name in a prayer and suddenly, I was dragged back."

"So you were... reincarnated?" Yukine asked doubtfully.

"That's not quite it." It was Kofuku who answered. "A reincarnation is a fresh start – like with Ebisu, the god is reborn without any memories of his former lives. But Yatty..." The goddess gave a light smile. "Maybe it was different for him because he was remembered by someone who knew him in person."

"In person?" Yukine echoed with a frown.

Instead of giving a reply, the goddess pointing over to the chuckling Hiyori, and Daikoku added, "Hiyori did not pray to some sort of god she had no clear picture of. She prayed to someone she knew, about whose flaws and quirks she was well aware of and whom she revered nonetheless. In a sense, Hiyori is the most faithful believer in the world."

Yukine's face lit up in understanding, but Yato shuddered, and suddenly, tears fell from his blue eyes. But there was a loving, honored smile on his face as he looked up to the still chuckling Hiyori – his one true believer.


Author's Note

This story was a Secret Santa gift for the tumblr person losing-my-tempo. I was requested to do something angsty, but with a happy ending, and I hope I did this request justice. If truth be told, I was hesitant to write this story - I am more of a happy fluffy feels person. But then, inspiration suddenly hit me. I don't know if this story is as good as my other Noragami one, but as always, I can only hope I did this wonderful pairing, its lovely fandom and my wonderful readers' expectations justice.

A merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate - and to those who don't, happy holidays nonetheless!

Ruska