Hiyori is amazing, but she's only human. One day, I know she'll forget or die, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. It's just human nature. It scares me. I don't want to lose her. But I guess all we can do is make the most of the time we have.

Yukine puffed out his cheeks and glared out the window of his room. Yato had been gone for days on whatever secret errands he was running this time, Hiyori had apparently been too busy to come over when she'd said she would, and Yukine had cleaned the shrine top to bottom and reorganized the entire shop out of boredom until Daikoku finally kicked him out and told him to do something fun instead of working all day.

But what was he supposed to do? He did fun things with Yato and Hiyori, mostly. He could usually entertain himself, but not while impatience gnawed at his insides. He was just waiting around for Yato and Hiyori to show up, stuck in a holding pattern until they came back to pick up their lives where they'd left off. Yukine was sick of it.

Coming to a snap decision—although one that had perhaps been building for days—he jumped to his feet and turned away from the window. He knew full well that Yato would not be found if he didn't want to be and it was useless to look for him, but he knew where Hiyori would be. He had left her alone when she missed her visit because she was so busy these days that he assumed something had come up and didn't want to bother her—she would come visit as soon as she could, probably bearing gifts and apologies—but he was tired of waiting. At the very least, he could ask when she was planning to stop by so that he had some idea, and he could let her know that Yato had wandered off again. It was something to do, anyway.

He checked Hiyori's apartment first, but it was empty. Not a total surprise. Hiyori practically lived at the hospital when she wasn't sleeping or visiting with gods or friends. Yukine didn't much like the hospital—it was too sterile and depressing, filled with hurting people who suffered louder than the miracles the doctors performed every day—but he headed there next.

As luck would have it, he actually spotted Hiyori a block away, walking down the sidewalk and chatting with one of her doctor friends. Yukine supposed it must be nearing lunchtime. While Hiyori often brought her own lunch to eat in the cafeteria, sometimes she escaped to eat at a restaurant with friends or coworkers when things were slower.

Yukine was glad that he didn't have to venture into the hospital, but he didn't want to interrupt Hiyori and her friend either. He hesitated, debating what to do. Catch Hiyori's attention and call her aside? Follow her and wait until the other doctor left or they returned to the hospital? Stroll right up and let her come up with an explanation for who he was?

By some stroke of luck, he didn't have to decide. Hiyori's companion waved goodbye and turned down another street, while she continued on. Yukine hurried after her.

"Hiyori! Hey, Hiyori!"

She didn't look over, instead pulling her phone out of her pocket and scrolling through it as she walked briskly down the sidewalk. Yukine didn't understand how she could read on her phone and still keep track of people's feet so that she didn't run into anyone. He would have walked straight into the first lamppost in his path.

"Hey," he said again, trotting up to Hiyori and falling into step beside her. "What's so interesting that you can't even hear me calling you?"

She didn't acknowledge him, and he scowled.

"Helloooo." He waved his hand in her face, and she startled and looked up from her phone, drawing to a stop and blinking at him in consternation.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, her voice lilting upwards like a question. "I didn't see you there. Can I help you?"

Yukine squinted at her. "You okay? You're acting a little weird. And you never came by when you said you would. I figured you must have gotten busy at the hospital."

The look of confusion on her face only deepened. "Excuse me? What meeting was I supposed to be at?"

"…At Kofuku's? You know, to see me and Yato?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about. Have we met? If you have a medical issue, I'm off duty right now, but I'd be happy to point you in the right direction."

Yukine stared at her. "Hiyori…? What's going on? It's me. Yukine."

Hiyori smiled awkwardly. "Sorry, I have a lot of patients, and I'm bad with names. You might have to refresh my memory."

Yukine's heart plummeted into his stomach, and a wave of nausea washed over him. "You don't remember me?" Another thought occurred to him, and he thought he might throw up right there. "You don't remember Yato?"

Hiyori eyed him with wary concern, like she was worried he was some troubled lunatic who might need to be admitted to a psych ward. "I'm afraid not," she said kindly. "Could you refresh my memory?"

Yukine took a step back, and then another. The blood was rushing so loudly in his ears that he could barely hear her. She didn't remember him. She didn't remember Yato.

And Yato had been missing for days.

It couldn't be.

He turned on his heel and ran, sneakers slapping against the pavement, racing back to Kofuku's shrine to spill out his panic.

I have fun drawing capypers on random pages of Hiyori's assignments and seeing how long it takes her to find them. I probably shouldn't laugh so hard, but her reactions are hilarious.

"Please, don't you remember anything?" Yukine begged, scrubbing the tears from his eyes.

Hiyori hovered in the doorway of her apartment, discomfort and unease written all across her face. She had been friendly enough when she'd answered the door, but Yukine's desperate insistence that he knew her had since put her on edge. He couldn't exactly blame her, given she didn't recognize him and he'd been acting like a raving lunatic.

"I'm sorry," Hiyori said, managing an awkward smile. "I think you must have the wrong person."

"I don't! We used to hang out all the time, although I guess you don't remember any of that. We met when you were still in high school. You got hit by a bus, remember? You were pushing Yato out of the way, because he wasn't paying attention and walked out in front of it. And then you kept 'falling asleep' all the time, and that's when your soul would slip out of your body and you'd come hang out with us."

Hiyori stared at him, and Yukine realized that all the talk of souls and gods only made him sound like he belonged in a padded cell.

"I did get hit by a bus when I was younger," she said carefully. "And I did have random bouts of narcolepsy for a long time. But I'm afraid that I don't know anything about souls or gods or shinki."

"Look, I know it sounds crazy, but I promise that I'm telling the truth. Please, won't you try to remember? I have pictures and things, if I could just show you. It's just that Yato has been missing for days, and I'm afraid that…"

Yukine trailed off and swallowed hard. This was his third attempt to speak to Hiyori since that terrible revelation, not that she remembered their other encounters. He needed her to remember him and Yato. He missed her, and more than that… He harbored a secret, desperate hope that if he could make Hiyori remember them, Yato might pop right back into existence. The logical part of his brain did not think things would work that way, but he had avoided voicing this idea to Kofuku or Daikoku or anyone who might set him straight.

Hiyori bit her lip and looked up and down the hall, then sighed and stepped backwards into her apartment, holding the door open for him. Yukine had not yet figured out how to explain the situation without sounding entirely unhinged—and was always disappointed that Hiyori was not nearly as open-minded as she had been as a schoolgirl—but he had managed to finagle his way inside last time and had an idea of how to sound just pathetic enough without becoming a raving psycho. The first time, he had scared her off entirely with his bawling and babbling. He hoped that if he just kept trying, he could discover the right thing to say or do to make her give him a chance. She had to remember them, if it took Yukine a hundred tries to do it.

"Come on, then," Hiyori said, waving him inside. Yukine followed her in, glad she had decided to take the chance that he wasn't a serial killer or something. "Just a second. I'll make some tea. You're very worked up."

It would take a lot more than tea to calm Yukine nowadays, but he didn't protest. He did trail on her heels and hover in the kitchen doorway while she put the kettle on, though, even when she suggested he sit down. She cast the occasional uncomfortable glance his way, but he had the nagging fear that if he left her alone for even a minute, she might walk out of the kitchen and freak out to see a stranger in her apartment.

But she did not forget the second she looked away, just made tea and arranged a small plate of snacks to bring out. Yukine thought it seemed like too much effort for someone she thought was bonkers and wanted to get rid of as soon as possible, but she had always been nice like that. Or maybe she just pitied him, or was trying to soothe him like she might soothe a wounded animal.

Yukine shifted about impatiently, turning the cup in his hands and taking the occasional sip until Hiyori had everything settled and seemed ready to listen. He pulled Yato's phone out of his pocket and scrolled through the photos, showing her pictures of them together that made her frown, confusion mixed with wariness. He hoped she didn't think he'd been stalking her or altering the photos. That would make him look beyond creepy.

But all she said was "I'm sorry. I don't remember any of this."

Yukine had come prepared this time. He rummaged around in his bag and pulled out the shrine. He pulled out homework pages that had both her handwriting and his, along with Yato's inane sketches of capypers. He babbled the stories of how they'd met and what adventures they'd been on and how they'd passed quiet visits.

Throughout it all, Hiyori's befuddlement only grew.

"You have to remember something!" Yukine said. "How else can you explain all of this?"

"I can't explain it at all," she said. "I don't… But it doesn't make sense. Is this some kind of joke or something? Did someone put you up to this?"

Yukine threw his hands into the air. "Who?"

"Well, I don't know! But it certainly seems insane!"

Now she was getting agitated too, an unsteady look in her eyes and disbelief written across her face. Yukine hoped that if he just kept pushing her, something might shake loose.

"Look," he said. "If you could just–"

"I think you should go." Hiyori stood abruptly, leaving Yukine blinking up at her.


"You need to leave." She gathered up the papers he'd scattered across the table and thrust them back at him before striding off to the door and holding it open.

Yukine shoved them back into his bag, along with the shrine. "Hiyori, please–"

"I can't do this right now," she said, her voice taking on a shrill note. "I just… I need some time to think it over."

"But you can't!" Yukine said in despair. "If you kick me out, you'll forget again!"

"That doesn't even make sense."

"Does any of this make sense?"

"No, it doesn't. I'm going to need you to leave, or I'll be forced to call security."

Yukine stared at her, mouth working soundlessly, fists clenching and unclenching at his sides. He searched for the words to make her change her mind, to let him stay and jog her memory.

But her movements were quick and jittery as a bird's, and her eyes glittered like broken glass. He had pushed her too far, maybe, and now there was no way he would be able to talk her down and make her listen. He was going to have to start all over from scratch next time.

He slunk out of her apartment, and she shut the door quickly behind him. He lingered there for a long time, staring at nothing and wondering where he had gone wrong. Or where he hadn't gone wrong. What could he use next time? Was there any way to not scare her off sounding like a lunatic?

The door opened again, and Hiyori stepped out. She paused in the doorway and blinked at him, tilting her head in question.

"Can I help you?" she asked. "Are you looking for someone?"

He would try again later, but not right now. Yukine burst into tears and ran.

I've wanted a shrine for a long time. Ever since I was a kid. My father always said I didn't need one, because I had him. Just one more way to keep me trapped and chained to him, I guess. And Hiyori just made me one, as if it was no big deal. As if it didn't mean everything. That was a lifelong dream she answered on a whim, and I love her for it.

"I really don't know anything about this," Hiyori said firmly. "I think you have the wrong person, and it sounds like you've been experiencing some very vivid hallucinations. You should get a psychological evaluation. I can recommend you to one of my colleagues in our psychological department, if you'd like. He's very good, and he could help you find some answers and sort things out."

Yukine heaved a long-suffering sigh. Hiyori did not usually suggest he was crazy so directly. But he had also caught her coming out of the hospital for her lunch break, and she often had less patience for his stories if he accosted her at work. Maybe she just assumed he was at the hospital for a reason and was trying to usher him along. Or maybe there were generally a lot of crazies hanging around outside hospitals.

He wished he had resisted temptation and waited to try catching her in the evening when she was off work and more pliable instead of stalking her all day and jumping at the first opportunity. He was getting as bad as Yato had ever been, always harassing Hiyori and hanging around like a lost puppy. The thought came easily, but then his heart caught up with his brain and clenched painfully like it always did when he remembered something about Yato and realized he was really gone.

"I don't need a shrink," he said. "Can I just talk to you for a minute? I want to show you some things. It won't take long."

Hiyori eyed him guardedly and snuck a surreptitious glance at her watch. "Have I treated you before?"

"Excuse me?"

"Were you a former patient of mine? Sorry, I see so many people that sometimes I forget faces."

"No, no, nothing like that. We were friends."

"Mhm. Look, I'd be happy to pass you on to a more qualified doctor, but unfortunately I won't be able to help more than that. This isn't really my area of expertise."

Yukine stared at her, but she held firm, mouth pressed into a stern line. It didn't matter that he should have known better—did know better—than to try making her remember this way. He had already tried over a dozen times, painstakingly searching out the right and wrong ways to approach her, and he should have known this way wouldn't work. But he had also never found a way that would.

He had spent weeks crying and feeling hopeless, splitting his time between searching the streets fruitlessly in case Yato rematerialized, moping around in a puddle of depression, and desperately prodding at Hiyori. Kofuku and Daikoku had begun hinting that he should start thinking about taking a new master, but he wasn't ready to give up yet. He didn't want to move on if there was even the slightest chance that he could make Hiyori remember and bring Yato back. It wasn't fair. Yukine missed Yato and Hiyori, and he had done everything he could think of to make that right. And it wasn't enough.

"This is your fault!" he spat, his grief flaring into hot anger. "You promised you wouldn't forget us! And now Yato is gone because of you. You killed him! You were our friend, and you just abandoned us. You were supposed to be my friend!"

Hiyori stared at him with wide eyes and began slowly backing up towards the front doors of the hospital. She reached into her pocket surreptitiously, and her hand came out clutching her cellphone.

"I hate you!" Yukine called after her as she retreated. "You lied and forgot and killed him! I hate you!"

He shouted after her until she disappeared back inside, but he didn't feel any better.

I admire Hiyori a lot. Even though she's only human and doesn't have much power of her own, she always jumps right into the fray and figures out how to help. She is an incredibly strong person.

"What are you doing?" Kazuma asked from the doorway.

Yukine started in surprise and looked up guiltily. He hadn't even heard Kazuma come in. He surveyed the pages of old homework and new notes about what strategies did and didn't work on Hiyori that were strewn all across his bed.

"Uh…" He searched for a reasonable explanation, but drew a blank.

Kazuma sighed. "Are you still plotting how to make Hiyori remember?"

"Well, she should," Yukine said defensively.

While Kazuma had always been something of a mentor, Yukine found that he chafed at being under his direct command. The only person who could boss him around like that was Yato, and even he had known when to back down.

Leaning back against the doorway, Kazuma closed his eyes and massaged his forehead. "Look, Yukine–"

"Stop bossing me around. I can do what I want outside of training and battle. Bishamon said so."

"I'm not here to give you any orders, just a little advice."

"I don't really want that either," Yukine muttered, glaring down at an old worksheet. Good job, Hiyori had written across the top with a smiley face. A capyper peeked around the bottom corner of the page.

Kazuma sighed again. "What do you really want out of this?"

"I want her to remember us, obviously."

"And if she does? Best-case scenario. What happens then?"

"Well…" Yukine hesitated, looking for an answer that didn't sound silly or naïve. "We can be friends again."

Kazuma didn't say anything for a long time, just stared at the far wall. "It won't bring Yato back," he said finally.

Yukine flushed. "Of course it won't–"

"It's too late, Yukine. Yato is gone. And what will happen to Hiyori if she remembers? She'll get to live with the guilt of Yato's disappearance and your grief, and she'll get sucked back into our world and derail the human life she's built. And what will it do for you? Do you think you'll just forgive her and become best friends again overnight? You're angry and resentful, as much as you miss her. Will you ever be able to look at her and not blame her for what happened to Yato? Things wouldn't be the same.

"Still… Maybe it's unfair to ask you to give up that hope. Maybe it really would help you find closure if she remembered and you could become friends again. Just… Make sure you're honest with yourself about your motives. And I worry that being so obsessed with making her remember is preventing you from moving on and learning how to live here with us. Between your grief for Yato and your obsession with Hiyori… You really aren't giving us your best, and it's making it hard for you to adjust. You always come back angry and heartsick and hopeless. I understand that you're still grieving, but maybe it's time to start thinking about letting Hiyori go and moving on with your life, the same way she's moved on with hers."

Yukine stared down at the paper until the words began to blur together in greasy smudges. He didn't want to examine Kazuma's words too closely. He didn't think he was ready to let go, no matter how sound the advice.


"Just think about it," Kazuma said gently.

"Yeah, whatever."

But when Kazuma left the room, Yukine slowly gathered up all the papers and put them away, then stretched out on his back and stared up at the ceiling, trying not to think at all.

He didn't seek Hiyori out for a few days. While he stubbornly didn't think about what Kazuma had said, the words had wriggled into his ear and nestled into some corner of his brain anyway. At the very least, they gave him enough pause to not go hassle Hiyori every day.

When he did see Hiyori again, it was an accident. He was wandering listlessly along the streets in the lower realm, needing to be away from Bishamon's place and the constant pressures of learning to work with a team, when Hiyori walked right past him.

He stopped and turned to watch her go. She walked briskly, staring at the phone in her hand as she typed out messages with her thumb. Her wallet was clutched in her other hand, and she reached absentmindedly to drop it into the bag slung over her shoulder without looking. It missed her purse entirely and fell to the ground instead, but she didn't seem to notice.

Yukine stared after her as she walked away, still engrossed in tapping away on her phone. Then he jogged over to pick up the abandoned wallet and hustled after her.

"Hey!" he called. "Hey, wait! Hiyori!"

She didn't notice him until he was nearly right on top of her and tugged at the sleeve of her coat. Then she looked up, startled.

"Oh!" she said. "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there."

Yukine let go of her and held out the wallet. "You dropped your wallet."

She blinked at it for a moment, and then her face lit up as she took it from him. "Thank you! I'm so clumsy. Thanks for finding it for me."

Yukine opened his mouth, searching for the right thing to say in order to take advantage of this opening. But she was smiling at him so genuinely, and he knew her expression would contort into bewilderment or fear or pity if he jumped back into his story. And despite everything… He still liked to see her smile. Maybe it wasn't fair of him to ruin that.

"You're welcome," he said, and managed a pained smile of his own as she thanked him again and turned away.

He watched her walk away, heart shuddering painfully in his chest, and wondered if this was what it felt like to let go.

I love watching Hiyori with Yukine. She's been such a good influence on him, and she teaches him so well. Honestly, she's really helped civilize the both of us.

Yukine sat on a bench outside the hospital, flipping slowly through Yato's notebook and skimming the entries that he already knew by heart. He had been sitting here on and off for days now, debating whether or not to try talking to Hiyori one more time. He hadn't talked to her in months now, ever since Kazuma had convinced him that it would be less painful for everyone to let her go.

He had spotted Hiyori entering or leaving the building a couple of times, although he didn't know the schedule of her shifts and missed her as often as not. But he hadn't yet decided whether it would be a good idea to try one more time. Not to make her remember, because he had given up on that, at least for now. But he had shown everyone else what Yato had written about them, and it seemed wrong and incomplete not to show Hiyori too.

Except that it wouldn't mean anything to her. For everyone else, it was a kind of closure, or at least had some kind of meaning. Hiyori didn't even remember who Yato was, and there was no way Yukine could read her these things without her thinking he was a lunatic again. She wouldn't understand.

He sighed. Maybe it was pointless and he should just let it go. If it wouldn't mean anything to Hiyori, it shouldn't mean anything to him either. It was getting late now, dreary evening sun beginning to fade into twilight, and he should head home before night fell in earnest.

"Are you okay?"

His head jerked up, and he blinked at Hiyori in surprise. She hovered in front of him uncertainly, phone in hand.

"Um," he said, too stunned that she had noticed him to formulate an intelligible response.

"Are you waiting for someone?" she pressed.

"I…don't know. Not exactly. Maybe."

"Okay… You seem upset. Are you okay?"

Yukine stared at her, and he felt his eyes filling with tears. He had been waiting for Hiyori, or maybe he hadn't, but he hadn't expected her to come to him. It hurt, but in a good way. And also a bad one, because it wasn't the same as the friendship they'd had, and it would only be fleeting and temporary. Still, wasn't it better than nothing?

"Not really," he mumbled, scrubbing at his eyes.

Hiyori sat down on the bench next to him. "What's wrong?"

"Just…" He sniffed and looked down at the notebook again. "My friend is gone. He…died, I guess. I miss him a lot."

"I'm sorry about your friend."

"Yeah. And we had another friend, but… She ended up leaving, and we weren't friends anymore. I miss her too."

"It's always sad when friendships end."

"Yeah, just… Yato, before he died… He wrote down a bunch of stuff in this notebook, and I didn't find it until after he was gone. It has a lot of things he never told us, and there are things about me and our other friends too. I want to share what he said with our other friend, but she's gone now too and doesn't even know he's dead. But I wanted her to know."

"I'm sorry," Hiyori said gently. "That does sound terrible. Would you like to tell me about your friends?"

Yukine cut a sharp look her way, but her eyes were soft and earnest. She was trying to coax him into talking so that he could get his grief off his chest. She was trying to help him even without knowing him, because that was the kind of person she had always been.

And he realized that he did want to talk. He had always wanted to talk to Hiyori, but every conversation had only left him more miserable than the last when she didn't believe him. But maybe he could approach it this way and say what he needed to without making her believe anything at all.

"Yato was…everything." Yukine swallowed hard. "He could be stupidly gullible and childish and kind of self-centered, but… He drove me crazy sometimes, but he was the best. He really saved my life, and he gave me a chance when no one else would. He gave me a place to belong and fought to keep me safe and made me talk to him when I was unhappy and really listened to my advice like it meant something. He was…kind of like the dad I never had. I wish I'd told him that, even once."

Tears spilled down Yukine's cheeks again, and he pressed his fists to his eyes. He had been trying to move on and not grieve too much because he didn't want to hurt Bishamon, but finding the notebook had brought everything back to the surface, and talking about Yato only made him remember how much he missed him. It was a physical pain in his chest, an empty hole where his heart should be.

"He sounds really special," Hiyori murmured. "I'm sure he knew how you felt, even if you didn't say the words. If you were that close, he probably knew before you did."

Yukine coughed out a wheezy, tearstained laugh. "I sure hope so. He had such a horrible life, and he deserved something to make him happy. And then Hiyori…"

Her head snapped up. "Hiyori?"

He hesitated, but there was nothing for it now. "Yeah," he said. "My other friend. The one who left."

She frowned, puzzled. "Huh. My name is Hiyori. What a coincidence."

"Yeah," he muttered. "Crazy. Anyway… She was the nicest person I ever met. She tutored me in her spare time, when I wanted to learn but needed help. She was always there when we needed her, and she made us smile and laugh a lot. She really made us into a family. You know, kind of like how you stopped to talk to me when you saw I was upset, instead of walking away like most people would. You're…a lot like her."

"She sounds great too. I'm sorry to hear you lost your friends like that. Do you still have a support system you can rely on? If you need help processing the trauma, I can recommend you to a good grief counselor as well. Maybe it would help you work through that grief. Totally up to you, of course. It's just a suggestion. There are people out there who would do their best to help. Just think about it."

"Yeah," Yukine said without conviction. "I'll think about it. Can I…? Can I read you some of the things he wrote? To Hiyori? Since you have the same name and remind me so much of her… Maybe if I can't share it with her, this is the next best thing."

Hiyori bit her lip but nodded. "If you want to."

Yukine flipped to the front of the notebook and began reading out the entries about Hiyori. He adjusted them to the human world where he could, rewording them to avoid mention of gods and shinki and the like. He didn't want to scare Hiyori off when they'd just finally begun to reach an understanding.

Hiyori listened quietly, her eyes wide and attentive. She let him read out everything he wanted to, and then they sat in silence for a minute. The reading left Yukine feeling hollow and exhausted, but also somehow lighter, as if sharing these secrets with his other friends—and now Hiyori herself—had made them easier to bear. It was a lot of responsibility, keeping the memory of someone alive all by yourself. It seemed easier to endure after distributing the weight.

"They sound like very good friends," Hiyori said finally. "It's tragic how you lost them, but isn't it beautiful how much happiness you found with them too? And maybe you'll find your Hiyori again, one day. She might still come back into your life."

"Maybe," Yukine murmured, casting a melancholy look her way as he shut the notebook again. "I'd like that. Well… I guess I should let you go. Thanks for listening to me."

"Oh, of course! Thank you for sharing. I work here, at the hospital. So if you ever need anything, you can ask for me at the desk. I can give you recommendations for a counselor, if you decide you want to try one."

"Thanks." He looked around and grimaced. "It's late."

Night had fallen in earnest. Their bench sat in a circle of lamplight and street lights splashed their glow along the sidewalks, but the darkness pressed in around them. He did not like it.

"Yeah," Hiyori said. "You should probably be getting home. Your parents will worry."

"Yeah. I'm just…scared of the dark."

"Oh!" She looked up and down the street. "Well, if you'd like, I could walk you home. Maybe it won't be so scary to go alone."

Maybe it was selfish, but Yukine jumped at the offer. He wanted to drag this encounter out for as long as possible. He had built a rapport with Hiyori here tonight, and it would crumble to dust as soon as they walked away from each other. It was not the same as having the old Hiyori back, but it was the closest he'd had in a long time.

"Well… If you don't mind. Bishamonten has a shrine nearby. I'd like to stop by there."

Hiyori's eyebrows jumped up her forehead, but she didn't question the odd choice. She pulled out her phone and turned on the flashlight, aiming it ahead of them to provide another buffer against the dark. Yukine appreciated the small kindness.

They walked down the street, and Hiyori tried to engage Yukine in small talk, asking general questions about his family and schooling and hobbies. Trying to get him to talk about something other than his dead and missing friends, he guessed. Hoping to distract him from his melancholy.

Yukine made up elaborate and patently false answers to them all. He could hardly tell her the truth, and he didn't mind building a small fantasy about a life he might have had and sharing it with her.

It only took a few minutes to find Bishamon's shrine, and Yukine strode up to it confidently before turning back.

"Thank you for walking me."

"Of course," Hiyori said. "Take care, alright?"

"Yeah. It was nice to talk to you again." Yukine smiled back at her a little sadly, nostalgia and melancholy tugging at his heartstrings. "Goodbye, Hiyori. I forgive you."

And then he turned away and let the magic of the shrine pull him back to Takamagahara, leaving Hiyori blinking after him in bewilderment.

I think Hiyori is going to change the world. I mean, she already has. She's changed my world and Yukine's and meddled in the affairs of gods. But I think she'll do great things in the human world too. She's growing up so fast and already doing great work at the hospital. She's smart and capable and strong, and she's going to change a lot of people's lives.