It's been a long time, but I have been busy with graduate school. Law school actually, here in America in a very strange part of this country's history. In any case, I'm back until life takes me away again, and it only seems fitting to be returning with this story in particular, that has so often been a reflection of my own thoughts and emotions, dark or shining as they are.

Quote of the Day:

"Nicol looks at the cloudless sky and the dizzyingly brilliant sun. The sun is magnificent, bolder and brighter than anything else, dazzling and powerful, the antithesis of shadow and fear."

— Bolas Twins, Magic: The Gathering

Yamato had always been a man of strange traditions, a boy of strange dreams, and so he lived out another one, enjoying one of the last 4:00AM mornings he would ever share with Sora.

The sun had not started to rise just yet, but Yamato knew that the morning light wasn't too far off. As he did with many of his nights, with many of the places he had lived throughout his life, Yamato leaned against the railing of his balcony, watching the horizon. On nights that he and Sora couldn't sleep, especially on nights that Taichi and Jun crashed for hours on end, he and Sora would keep each other company, chatting about the future and sometimes reminiscing on the past. It had become a strange little ritual between the two of them the last few years, and although neither of them said it, each hoped they would get to repeat this ritual one last time before their farewell.

"I almost can't believe you guys are going to be gone in just a few days," Sora said mostly to herself as she stirred more sugar in her tea, relaxing in her usual spot at the kitchen table, the young woman taking a moment to look in the direction of the room she had shared with Jun for the past few years.

He took a moment to look back at her inside the apartment, and gave a soft smile, before Yamato once again turned to the horizon, waiting for the tomorrow that he dreaded, but dreamed of all the same. This was usually a night where he would have been smoking one of his famous cigarettes, but since Sora's pregnancy he had traded one vice for another, and was enjoying a bowl of cereal instead. It was the same chocolate cereal his father had been obsessed with in his youth, and as his spoon listlessly danced around the edge of his bowl, part of him knew he had inherited that same fondness as well.

"You and Jou can join us," Yamato offered, despite already knowing what Sora was going to say.

"It's going to be hard to imagine life without you guys around," the pregnant woman responded as she took a small sip of her tea, "but I can't leave just yet. Jou has his job at the hospital, and I'm not ready to say goodbye to Osaka yet."

"I couldn't leave Taichi behind either," Yamato said, not glancing back at her, "I spent a year away from him once, and I don't intend on ever doing that again."

They shared a moment of silence together, before the sound of metal clinking on ceramic filled the night air. It was just like all the other nights and early mornings that the two of them had spent in each other's company, and like all those nights, Yamato waited in place as the young future mother got up from her seat in the kitchen, and walked out onto the balcony and into the cold morning air. She was still armed with her tea, Yamato had his cereal instead of cigarettes, and the young sojourner took a deep breath as he welcomed Sora at his side, the absent sunrise giving them just a few more minutes of triumphant darkness.

"You know, it's weird seeing you out here when you're not smoking," Sora said with a wistful sigh and a wry smile on her face, the young woman taking a moment to admire how handsome Yamato was as she joined his side out on their balcony.

"That's a bit too nostalgic for tonight," Yamato answered back as he put a spoonful of cereal into his month, the young man sparing a glance at Sora, "and I won't feel nostalgic until the three of us are on the road."

He felt her stiffen at his words, and Yamato nodded to himself in understanding. He wanted to say so much to the young woman beside him in that moment, he wanted to comfort her, and he wanted to promise her that one day they would find themselves in each others' lives once again. Instead, he said nothing, and waited for Sora to continue on her own.

"Take care of them for me, okay?" Sora said after a long time, a lot of anguish, but mostly love, straining in her voice.

He gave a simple nod, still not looking at her, still just watching the fleeting darkness before them. Although Yamato came just sort of calling it destiny, part of him would sometimes wonder just how it was that his band of friends had come into each others' lives. Although they never talked about it, he hoped that had they known each other back home, had Sora stumbled into one of their Odaiba haunts, or them into hers, that they would have ended up together on this balcony regardless of anything else, still sharing this strange and private moment.

"You're from Odaiba too, aren't you?" Yamato asked as he took in this part of Doyama for one of the last times of his life, "It's a shame we didn't know you before we came to Osaka."

The two shared that comfortable silence that was so familiar between them over the years, and Sora set her eyes on the distance as she thought of Yamato's words. She took a moment to enjoy her tea, and as she watched and waited for the sunrise, she thought about the life she had left behind in her hometown. Just as Yamato had done so many other times standing on this same balcony, she thought of her mother.

"I never did tell you the story of how I came here, did I?" Sora broke the silence after a long pause, heartbreak and nostalgia rising up inside her as she spoke.

Yamato shrugged, taking another bite of his cereal, "You met Taichi on the way to Doyama."

That was as much as he knew, but that was also as much as he needed to know. Even people who smile as they look to the future have parts of their past that will never shine, no matter how many years roll on.

"That's true," Sora said after another long pause, the soon to be mother staring out into the still dark morning, thinking about now and tomorrow and yesterdays long in the past, "but I never meant to come here."

Although he didn't say it, he ended up in this strange city for much of the same reason. Sometimes it felt as if he and his make-shift family stumbled into this strange part of the world, only to double in size, even if they had never planned it to. Regardless, he couldn't help but smirk for a moment, alone in the universe, except for both Sora and his thoughts that kept him company.

"There's something that Susumu always told me," Yamato replied as he set his bowl of cereal down, a strange pit forming in his stomach as he glanced back over at Sora, "that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

At that, Sora only laughed. She took a sip of her tea, remembering that her father had once said something similar to her. Standing on another balcony and waiting for another sunrise, so many years ago, her father had pointed to the horizon and said, 'Here comes the sun'. Although the memory of that moment was starting to slip away from her, like forgetting the words of a long-since cherished song, she would treasure the moment she once shared with her father, as well as the moment she was now sharing with Yamato.

"In another life I could have been in love with you," the young woman whispered as she rested against the railing of the balcony, her tea still warming her hands, despite the cold air of the Japanese morning.

Yamato only laughed, Sora's words having been both a blessing and a curse in his life, "You'd be surprised by the amount of people who have told me that."

The familiar silence returned as Sora looked up at the sky and searched for one of the last few waning stars of the night. She found nothing as she searched though, the rising sun too close for any stars to keep on shining. She watched and thought of her mother's words. She frowned, and thought of the world she had left behind.

"I was running away from home," Sora continued after a moment, "the train I met Taichi on, the train that brought me here, was the first one leaving Odaiba when I got to the train station that day. I didn't even check to see where it was headed."

"That doesn't sound like you," Yamato responded quietly as he nudged his bowl away from him on the railing, unsure if Sora wanted to reveal anything else of how she ended up in this strange strange part of Japan.

"I was running away from my mother," the young woman replied, eyes still searching for that star, "I was running away from Odaiba to find something to love."

He only nodded at first, not knowing that this side of Sora existed. He would have never pegged that for the truth, but then again, the truth was often times such an odd and malleable thing. She was looking for something, just as he was in this moment, in this strange place that was so far from home. Although he didn't want to admit it, it seemed to him that each of their journeys would end in different places. He frowned, gaze still set on the horizon.

"And?" Yamato asked, thinking of Sora's words, thinking of his past, and thinking of the mother who had run away from him.

"I found you guys," Sora whispered as she thought of the friends she was soon losing, before remembering the man who would now forever be at her side, "I found Jou."

For a moment there was a pang of guilt in Yamato's heart, but that was soon replaced with quiet understanding as both of them continued to watch the cityscape from their familiar spot out on that balcony. Right now there was so much that was unsaid between them, but Yamato simply nodded again, knowing that the power of those words were still there, even if neither of them ever said them. He kept his eyes trained forward, the sun now rising, breaking the darkness of the night.

"I found what I was searching for, Yamato," Sora said after a minute or two, almost as if she had been reading his thoughts, "it's okay if you still need time to do the same."

"Will you ever go back to Odaiba?" Yamato asked as he admired Doyama once again, unsure if he meant the question for Sora or himself.

"When I can prove to my mother that I found someone for me to love, and that I found someone to love me."

"They love you," Yamato began to say as he motioned towards their apartment behind them, "Koushiro and Mimi love you, Jou loves you," Yamato paused once again as he rested a hand on Sora's shoulder, "and I love you."

As Yamato said the words that both knew did not need to be said, Sora smiled, remembering her own father's words, remembering her father's favorite song. She would be eternally grateful, and her face beamed as the morning sun shone on her face.

"I'm gonna miss this view," Sora sighed, the cold and the darkness of the night now seeming like a distant memory.

"So am I," Yamato answered back, smiling as the dawn arrived.

Hopefully I can stick around for a bit, before life takes me away again.

Since this is the last time I feel like I can really do a late night/early morning Sora/Yamato chapter in this same way as I have done over the years, I felt the need to do it.

Thanks for indulging me guys. Stay safe. Remember, the sun always comes.