Jun Yoshino watched his great-granddaughter, Cordelia, in awe. Since her arrival to Japan, nearly three months ago, she had mastered nearly very martial art technique he knew. Judo, ninjitsu, kendo, aikido… she knew them all. At this moment, she was sparing with her cousin, Jin Yoshino, and was winning- yet again.
The girl is like a machine, he marveled, as she bounded of the wall of the dojo, landing with a reflex that rivaled a cat. Cordelia was wearing a white V-neck uniform with a red sash, while Jun was in a black, Judo uniform with a yellow sash. She and Jin had done this nearly everyday since she had begun her training, and Jun knew what the end result would be: His Cordelia would win. He had half expected Jun to reluctant to train with his cousin, but the young man had taken to it quite well. Cordelia was more than a girl beating up a boy, she was a slayer and Jin understood it, much to Jun’s relief. He was, much to his dismay, too old to be her sparing partner.
When he had seen her distraught face, that long ago day after she had fought the Master, Jun Yoshino had felt a sinking dread within his heart. He had know immediately why she had come to him and he hated it. Hated the fact that there was nothing to stop the coming storm. Jun knew the destinies that awaited slayers- he had always known.
He knew of watchers and slayers because his own twin sister, Kaede, and been a slayer. Her Watcher, Yukio, had allowed him to assist her with his sister’s training, because of his skill as a samurai.
“How was that, jiisan?” Jin asked, bringing his great-grandfather out of his revere. He and Cordelia had just ended another round, with her victorious. Jin kind of wished she would just let him win for once.
“Good. Do it again,” he replied with smile. He was proud of his descendants, and what better way for his great-grandson to be an exceptional fighter, than to train with a slayer? “Come on!” He rushed, seeing their faces drop. They had been in there for six hours.
Cordelia rolled her hazel eyes in aggravation. “Jiisan, we have been in here all day. Can we take a break? Please?”
Jun sighed, and rose to his feet, arms akimbo as he walked over to his grandchildren. Narrowing his dark eyes for emphasis, Jun gave her a grim look. “Cordelia, as the Slayer, you will never be given the option of a ‘break’.” Hearing this, she looked down at her bare feet in shame and disappointment. I’ll have none of that, Jun thought, as he raised her chin, bringing her sad eyes back to his. “I’m sorry to say this to you, my flower, but you have to realize what that means. Until the day you die, you will always be the Slayer. You are a warrior of humanity and that is something you have to accept, here and now!”
Jin had backed away from the two, allowing their grandfather to communicate with her. Jiisan’s training had been relentless on Cordelia, and despite her calling, she was not used to such rigorous activity and the discipline that came with it.
“Well?” Jun prodded. “What will it be?”
“Will I die like Kaede did?” Cordelia clenched her jaw, trying to stifle the tears that wanted to well over. The tale Jun had told her of his twin, Kaede Yoshino, had bubbled a quiet well of fear in her heart.
Jun closed his eyes briefly at the memory Cordelia’s words welled within him. Kaede Yoshino had died at the hands of a Noreshan demon on their twentieth birthday. The green and red demon had been too much for her and ripped her apart in front of his very eyes in Tokyo. When his sister had died, a part of him died with her. Not even the knowledge that she had lived well and long for a slayer could comfort his bleeding heart. They had been thirteen when she was called. Much too early to have such a life forced upon her. She was supposed to have grown old, with him! She was supposed to have married and raised children. Instead, he had buried her, too young to go to the grave.
Now another one I love may be destined for the same fate. With all his wisdom and knowledge, the only thing he could offer his child was a lie. “I don’t know how it will happen exactly, Cordelia. I and the rest of your family only bear the knowledge that you would be called. How you would die,” Jun paused, reaching out to grasp his granddaughter’s hands in his. “Is unknown. But know this,” he continued, motioning for Jin to come over to him. “Everything is born, everything dies and everything falls in between. All that are born must die.”
Despite the morbidity of his statement, Cordelia did find it somewhat comforting. Not until she had come close to death on the roof of Sunnydale High, did it ever cross her mind that someday, she would have to leave this earth.
“Fukumasu, jison?” It was important that his children, his heirs understood the balance and cycle that was life.
“Hai.” Both cousins answered, giving a slight bow of the head to their great-grandfather.
“But can we go in and eat now?” Cordelia demanded, giving Jun a slight grin.
Later That Night
After a satisfying meal of Momiji’s sushi and Teriyaki eel, Cordelia was feeling quite sated. She and her cousin, Jin, and relocated to the river at the base of Yoshino Hill. They usually ended up going there after practice. Cordelia thought it was soothing with the sound of the water, and crickets. Occasionally, they’d hear frogs as the sun descended.
“I feel bad, Jin.”
He turned his dark head to look at her. They were both lying on the grassy embankment, side by side. “About what?”
“Mentioning Kaede, like a I did,” she softly replied gazing at the sky as it turned a deep blue. “But I couldn’t help it. I always say what’s on my mind.”
“Cordelia,” Jin began, still gazing at his beautiful cousin. “Jun knows you didn’t mean to hurt him. He has to expect questions like that, and he does understand where your coming from.” It disturbed him greatly too, the possibility of his cousin would die at the hand of some monstrosity. The only comfort he got from that knowledge was that she would give them hell when her time came. He figured it was better her going out as a slayer than a helpless girl with no supernatural power. Jin grinned at that notion- Cordelia helpless? Even if she had encountered a demon as normal girl, he had it upon good authority that she would still give them hell!
Turning onto her side, she grinned at her cousin. He sure is a handsome devil, she mused, in appreciation. He was tall, about six foot one, with a slim athletic build and a face that any magazine editor would die to have on their cover! It was his eyes that were his best quality. They were a pale brown, almost gold and the almond shape of them only added to his exoticness. She figured with was just how Jun had looked in his youth
Too bad he’s family! “You always know what to say to make me feel better, Jin.” She reached over to give him a hug, wishing all days could be like this- safe and happy with the family she loved.
“Hey, I can’t help it if I have a way with the ladies!” He laughed, poking her in the ribs. “Now shut up and enjoy the silence.”
“Yeah,” she huffed. “Crickets, frogs, water- oh- and that linear jet flying overhead is really silent!” Snarkiness was her nature, it was like telling the sun not to rise. “Not to mention your nasal blocked breathing!”
“Where are they?” Momiji Yoshino asked, coming to stand by her husband outside the farmstead.
Closing his eyes in briefly at the blissful presence of his second wife, Jun wrapped his arms around her shoulders. They were older now, but she still fired a passion in him that would never die. “They’re by the river.” The bond between the two cousins had grown quite strong of the last few weeks. He only wished that Cordelia belonged here, in Japan. But it was not be.
Turning her beautiful, ravaged face to him, Momiji noted the sadness in his eyes. It had been growing for some time. “What’s wrong, aruji?” As a member of the Yoshino family, she too, knew of the destiny that their Cordelia had to face.
“I don’t want her to go.”
Momiji closed her eyes in realization. It was a time that she had been dreading too. Cordelia was part of their family and she did not want her to go either. “Isn’t there another way, Jun? Can’t she be the Slayer in Japan? There hasn’t been a slayer here since India Cohen!” She turned around, beseeching her husband. “Why does she need to go back to that godforsaken town!?”
“You know why.” He attested, his voice as quiet as the grave. “She has to return to Sunnydale, Momiji, there is no other way.” He pulled his love deeper into his embrace.
“When will you tell her?” She sobbed.
“When they get back. I have to tell her tonight.” And he had no idea how he was going to bring himself to do it.
Cordelia and Jin had just returned from the river an hour ago, and Jun had been waging a war within himself. He didn’t want to do it- he didn’t want to send his beloved girl back to the hell that had tried to kill her! “But we must suffer the children,” he prayed to himself, to his ancestors, to find the courage.
“Cordelia?” He called out. His voice was strong and purposeful, which surprised him. “I need to speak with you, my dear.” Trying to brace himself for the storm to come, Cordelia bounced into his study. She was now clad in her American clothes of jeans and a sweatshirt.
“Yeah? What is it?”
“Sit down, child.”
Swallowing back a lump that was forming in her throat, Cordelia Chase braced herself for the worst. Not wanting to upset him, she did just as she asked, and took a seat on the mat. He was facing her, legs crossed.
“You must return to school.” Jun gave himself a mental slap. School? He could not come up with something better than that?
Cordelia frowned in confusion. “You mean school here?” She pointed downward for better emphasis on the meaning of ‘here’. She could do that! School in Japan wouldn’t be bad at all! It’s no like I don’t know the language, she thought.
Slowly, Jun shook his head, his eyes not leaving his great-granddaughter’s beautiful face.
She closed her eyes in despair. What he was suggesting was unthinkable. “You mean school back ‘there’?” He couldn’t mean it… not possible! Cordelia felt the color drain from her face as she realized Jun did not disagree.
“Why?!” She stood up, coming to stand before him. “Why can’t I stay here? If not Japan, anywhere else but Sunnydale!” For the first time since she had come back here, tears fell down her checks.
“You must go back.”
Cordelia shook her head in denial, on the verge of hysteria. She’d almost died back there! “I won’t go back, jiisan. I can’t and you can’t make me!” She seethed in rage, all the hurt coming to a boiling point, now this betrayal from the person she trusted the most.
Jun knew this was going to be hard, but nothing could be prepare him for her reaction. She was like a tsunami about ready to crash upon the shore. He only knew of one thing that could reach her behind that mist of red she saw. “Are you a warrior of humanity?”
“Are you a warrior of humanity?” He repeated, keeping his eyes level with hers, once she’d stopped pacing like a caged tiger. “Yes or no?”
And she tried- she tried to block out the calling within her. She wanted nothing more than to turn her back on all of it! The training, the powers, the destiny! She just wanted to be Cordelia Chase, the bitch of all bitches again. “I didn’t ask for any of this, Jun!”
But he was relentless. “Yes or no?”
Sinking back down onto the mat, Cordelia closed her eyes in agony. She knew she had to go back- had know it all along. Being in Japan was only supposed to be temporary. She was a warrior of humanity, and the world needed her to be in Sunnydale.
“Yes, daishihan.” Cordelia opened her eyes, feeling as if she were born again. Feeling that sudden surge of power, like that night she had been trying to drive away from the terror that pursued her. And she looked at Jun Yoshino, not as her grandfather, but as a master, a learned warrior. “I am the Slayer.”
Jun gave his great-granddaughter, his finest pupil, a smile of genuine pride. “That’s good to know. You will leave in one week’s time”.
*** We’ve been out of Sunnydale long enough, haven’t we, precious?