"I warned you, my son, but you didn't listen to me."

Kosuke finally understood what those words meant.

So many questions still lingered in our minds, in our hearts. Questions like why? How come? For what reason? We craved answers for those we could not decode, searched for things that would never be found, and came up with reasons behind unfortunate events that only question our worthiness to live and love.

Is life still worth it if you've become so tarnished? Who once was innocent and seemingly perfect now drowning in a puddle of mistakes and flaws?

Is there still room for repentance? For change? Is there still a way to remove the stains that tainted our souls? A method to wash the stench from our sinful hands?

The answer might be 'yes', but often times, the reversal may come a little too late.

Yamazaki Daisuke was already lifeless when we arrived in the Kantei. The investigators reported that he hanged himself merely two hours before we arrived. He was released from prison after being falsely accused of the crimes of Yanagisawa Gendou. After assuming back his position as prime minister, the very first thing Daisuke did was send the Jieitai to rescue his only son. But he did not know how to face him afterwards. He felt greatly responsible for all his son had to go through because of his own mistakes. The stress became too much – too much that it pushed him to ending his own life.

If I started describing how Kosuke mourned for the death of his father, I'm afraid that I may not be able to contain my feelings. I'd stop midway my narration, fall silent, and just breakdown. I'd seen Kosuke cry a couple of times before, but this was the very first time I saw him weeping with his eyes too strained to shed more tears.

"Your father left this in his office," I handed to him an envelope given to me earlier by one of police investigators. "I reckon he wanted you to have this."

Kosuke immediately recognized the envelope as the same one which Yamazaki Daisuke attempted to give to him a few weeks ago – the item which he refused to receive. He opened the envelope carefully. Inside, he found his passport and a plane ticket to the United States. But those were not all.

There was another item inside the envelope. As Kosuke pulled it up, he saw for the very first time the one and only copy of his family picture. It was taken in the hospital right after he was born. Lotus Akiyama was carrying the newborn Kosuke on her arms. Her head was resting on Yamazaki Daisuke's shoulder. Their smiles were priceless.

That was when Kosuke started breaking down again… and so did I.

I embraced him as tightly as I could inside that lonely prison cell, our silent cries echoing across the hall.

Yamazaki Daisuke was given a state funeral seven days later.

Our story was all over the news. The whole Japan probably knew of our mistakes, but we chose to remain strong. This was only the beginning. After all the things we'd been through, we realized that it was not the battle, chase, or bloodshed that was most difficult to undergo. It was the process of recovery.

Similarly, Saori-chan was discharged from Sato Yuken's newly-reclaimed family hospital on the same day. She was there with us during Yamazaki Daisuke's funeral, holding Crosse's hands. Despite the fact that our appearances were different now, looking at her nevertheless still felt like looking at myself. It was the same feeling I had when I first met my twin sister ten years ago.

Kosuke and I decided to get rid of the weapons we kept in our Vaults. Apparently, Yanagisawa Gendou transferred the contents of the Golden Crescent Vault from the cargo ship to the underground storage I had beneath the Burgundy Hotel – the same place where I kept the remaining unused half of the Silver Crescent Vault. The money went to the charitable foundation we decided to form. We named it the Yamazaki Foundation.

Kosuke got a job in the Diet as an undersecretary. He was too young to run for higher positions, but the council believed that he was fit to run for Prime Minister like his father when the time comes.

Yamada Hidemi had the Concorde renovated. With Ayanami Fuuko's help, his new café looked twice as grand as before. Optimizing the space, the café could accommodate twice the number of customers as compared before. He accepted Fuuko's offer to become business partners, and their smashing success made it to several business newspapers.

Of course, the Concorde could use some help. And so, Hidemi hired two new baristas. As expected, Suzuki Akio and Lin Chen freaked out the café customers with their bloodcurdling display of romance and mega-weirdness. But they seemed happy with their jobs, while Akio continued his apprenticeship under Hidemi to become 'a better man for his Chinese wife with eleven Chinese kids'. Once in a while, Hidemi would scratch his head, pondering whether he made the right decision to employ them. But after seeing the gleeful smile on their faces as they slapped each other with whipped cream and caramel syrup, he would just end up smiling as well. Fuuko would smile whenever she sees Hidemi smile.

Kim Yoon Jae quit his job in The Decks as a club DJ. Before he left for Korea, he wrote a resignation letter to me. Instead of feeling sad, I could not help but burst out laughing after I read what he wrote in crooked Japanese –

"I, Kim Yoon Jae, am quitting my job as Lady Nu Huang's super 'kaboom-er'!

I shall go back to Korea and multiply, hekhekhek…

Just kidding. Bye Lady Nu!

Smile always!"

Of course, he signed his name with a scribbled happy face on the end. I knew that this time, his smile was for real. He enrolled in a university in Seoul to study Physics.

I sold all my hotels to Monsieur Vladimir Leonns. The deal was closed instantly for the simple reason that Kosuke was with me. The old fat hog made him play his favorite French love song on the piano. He hummed to the music, sounding like a seal from the Antarctic Ocean giving birth. I requested for him to hire Lucy as the hotel receptionist – a favor to which he agreed in change for another round of Ce Fut le Coup de Foudre.

Chris Glawgow started a new business, which he founded in partnership with Crosse himself. He opened a motorcycle parts shop, which he coincidentally called à Toute Vitesse.

Nagahara Makiko and Tomo went on numerous tours to promote Tomo's brand new album, which he called 'A Brand New Hope'. It sold more than ten million copies in Japan alone. It hit double platinum in just a span of four weeks.

Okamoto Shizuki went back to the United States, where she continued practicing as a psychiatrist while undergoing a sub-specialty fellowship program in neuropsychiatry. Sato Yuken did not mind waiting for her this time around. He, on the other hand, stopped practicing medicine and went back to traveling around the globe, capturing the best photos.

Shizuki promised Yuken that she would marry him after her medical training. She was already wearing an engagement ring before she left Japan.

"So," Crosse smiled, turning to face Kosuke and me, holding his luggage. The blonde dye of his hair had completely faded. I preferred the way he looked with his usual black hair. "This is goodbye, huh?"

"Not really 'goodbye'," I said to him, smiling. I looked up to the electronic board flashing the list of planes leaving for the United States. "Flight GX777 – that's your plane, right?"

"Uh-huh," Crosse nodded. "Got loads of work to do back there. My father left a pile of mess to be fixed."

"Are you sure about what you're going to do?" I asked him anxiously. "I know how much you hated working a company, what more now? You're going to be the CEO of Williams Motors Corporation!"

"Does it sound cool to you?"

"Really cool!" I cheered.

"Well, making motorcycles sounds much cooler than filing and fixing court cases," Kosuke commented. "Hey, send us a unit when you come up with new models of the Circa."

"No problem. I'd send you all models in the catalog if you like, haha…"

"You know Crosse," I smiled. "I'm so happy to see you smile that way again."

"Life goes on," Crosse's voice was optimistic, tucking his passport into his hand-held bag. "Hey, Yamazaki, can I borrow your wife for a sec? I want to give her one big hug."

Kosuke briefly turned away, "I give you five seconds."

I embraced Crosse tightly, this time a content smile drawn on my face. We set aside sorrowful tears for joyful goodbyes.

"LOOK OKAA-SAN!" a chubby boy who passed by pointed to me. "The Empress of China has a baby!" His mother caught him doing his bad habit of pointing at random strangers again, so she immediately pulled him away.

"Your tummy's getting in the way of our embrace. Your kid probably doesn't want me to hug you, hehe" Crosse commented. "When are you giving birth?"

"Three weeks from now," I replied.

"Do the world a favor. Don't give birth to twins," Crosse frowned. "Women with twin sisters are too troublesome. Just thinking about what they could do possibly together makes my head hurt."

Just in time, Saori ran towards them, holding three bulky bags and a passport, "OH GOD! Huff… huff… I'm so sorry! Have you been waiting for a long time?"

"Saori-chan!" I pointed towards the electronic panel showing the list of outgoing flights.

"Great!" Saori exhaled heavily. "Ayane-chan, so I guess this is goodbye."

"Saori-chan," I said to her. "Can I give you a hug?"

A sister's embrace was incomparable to any other person's embrace. It felt like embracing your own self, your own soul, your own heart. When I embraced Saori, I knew that she felt the same way too.

"Ayane-chan," she whispered to me. "I'll take good care of Crosse."

"Please do," I said to her. "He's a precious person. He's strong, but he's fragile. Don't break his heart like I did, Saori-chan."

"I will never do that. I will stay on his side forever and ever," she reassured me. "He will always be the star on my ceiling."

Kosuke and I stood on the Rainbow Bridge, watching Crosse and Saori's plane soar across the starlit night sky. I felt his hand reach for mine, enveloping it with his warmth, "Ayane-chan…"


"Let's go home," he kissed my forehead gently.

I let the sweet breeze enter my lungs. "It's finally over."

How do you finish narrating the story of your life?

For me, I would do it like this.

I would take a deep breath and let myself be carried away by the tides of my subconscious. I would close my eyes and let my mind reel ever-so-carefully so that this string of thought would not break. Ah, such sweet reminiscence, coming back to my senses bit by bit. I shiver from the chilly thought… and so, I warmly embrace my soul.

I would clench my fist just a little when it stings, bite my pink lips as I let out a subtle chuckle when those moments of bliss flash on my mind like scenes from a movie, and then perhaps shed a tear or two as the curtain falls... as the trail of thoughts come to an end.

They say that life is a circle. It has no beginning. It has no end. But all circles have a center – and that is where I would start.

That is also where I would end.

How do you finish narrating the story of your life? For me, I would do it like this. I would start from the hurt, down to the tears, and finish with a smile.

A smile formed on my lips as I marvel upon how much I want having glow-in-the-dark stars on our ceiling – stars, no matter how dark the sky may be, would always be around to give light before the day comes.

Stars, just like love…

I have warned you of my frailty, and now I could sigh in relief.

Now that my darkest days have gone, finally…

"Let's go home, Kosu-kun," I smiled to him as we walked hand in hand, a life ahead of us waiting to be lived.


I have my STAR back.


~ F I N




Words would not be enough to express

how grateful I am to YOU,

the reader of this story,

for joining me in this writing journey for three years.

This story is dedicated to

Meia Seng Lee

and to my father

José Larucea.




Fists and Lipsticks 2: The Silver Crescent

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