The sun was fading on the horizon, casting the sky in brilliant hues of orange and purple. Where the hell was that Longbow flier? It should have been here hours ago, she thought. They had promised her that it would be here today and the day was damn near already over. She wanted to see her husband in the light of the sun, because that was the only way she could be sure he was really there.

Five years. She could wait an hour or a day or even a week more. But she did not want to. Kate wanted to see Yoshito face-to-face now. Not in a week, not in a day. Not even in one more minute. Now. Now! It was so hard to wait. Harder than it had been even a few days prior, when she thought the waiting would kill her. Then she learned he would definitely be coming home and she learned what it really meant to wait.

She had been here for hours already. Longbow wouldn't give her a time frame, only saying “today.” She got here at the break of dawn, even though she knew it wasn't likely he'd be landing then. But just in case, she wanted to be here. Even if there was only the smallest of chances, she had to be here. If she missed it, how could she ever be forgiven?

But she'd waited and waited and now the sun was setting and it seemed like he'd never come. The transmission had been choppy and out of synch. Maybe it was just all some cruel joke played on her. That had been the worst part, the doubt. It was so stupid to doubt it, because it would have been so stupid for it to be a lie. But she doubted just the same, because it had all seemed so unlikely at times. Impossible.

With each minute that passed the purples grew to black and devoured the orange. She always wondered at the symbolism of the setting sun on this world. How the colors reminded her of her own powers! A Nictus swirling in black and purple. The setting sun was a symbol of death on most worlds she had been to, but it was only here that its colors so vibrantly reminded her of herself.

A flier had touched down around noon and she leapt up to see. But it was not Yoshito who had arrived, only a group of weary Longbow troops returning from some mission somewhere. Faceless soldiers identical in their red and white. Masked heroes with no identities beyond the weapons they carried and their sex. Just how Longbow wanted it, heroes who did good for no reason but to do good, unnamed and unknown. As if busting a super-criminal because you wanted to get on TV counted less than doing it because it was “the right thing to do”.

Most of them hated her and what she stood for. Oh, she was not a hero for hire, like those Hero Corps people. Longbow reserved a special scorn for them. Kate did not get paid to be a hero; the mere notion that one of the most powerful and wealthy women on the planet would need to risk her life just to earn a dollar was laughable.

But she had a fanclub. She had one action figure with her name on it with light-up eyes and another with authentic voice recordings of her “catchphrases” and a third that was really more of a resin statue but sold very briskly among males age 18 to 25. She was a regular character on a children's cartoon (though she liked to complain to friends that they drew her boobs too big, and the voice actress was much too shrill in her imitation). Sometimes she had to wear a blonde wig and lots of flesh-tone makeup just to go out without being bothered.

Oh, of course, she wasn't the most popular of the Army of Darkness of Justice. Not by a long shot. Holy Evil probably still held that rank. He'd inherited Yoshito's charismatic showmanship along with pretty much everything else. It'd been painful and confusing and occasionally thrilling to see him day in and day out these past five years. He reminded her of everything Yoshito had been before the business bug had overtaken him, of the man she fell in love with over a decade ago.

Of course, he was Yoshito in so many ways. Physically they were indistinguishable, they had the same memories up until a point. But the super powers changed him in slight ways that only those really close to both men could ever notice. Yoshito was cocky, but Holy Evil was more so. Yoshito could be self-centered, but Holy Evil was self-centered. Holy's scowl wasn't as deep, his smile wasn't as wide, his emotions didn't run as deep.

At least so she remembered. Her memories could be a jumble too. She remembered attacking a Belgian manufacturing company, killing the guards, and making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment for the Council on the same day she had her 16th birthday party. The two memories never crossed paths, but they were both there, and both were real, and both were her, and sometimes she forgot who experienced what.

Could those memories of Yoshito be wrong? Had she merely merged with him someone she'd known before? Another Archon? Some low-ranking soldier? Requiem, maybe, but she never saw him without that mask anyway, so it couldn't be him.

What would she feel when she finally saw him, face to face, for the first time in half a decade? She imagined all the possibilities. She had plans, of course, but no plan survives first contact with the enemy. She laughed nervously to herself as she thought that. Would she be angry at him? She'd been so angry five years ago, and hurt and sad too, because of what he'd done. No, that was a lie she told to herself that even she knew was false these days. It was because of the consequences of what he'd done, not the actions.

Would seeing him again bring all those feelings swirling back up to the surface? Would it be hate at first sight? He always told her about the first time he met her and how he felt like cartoon hearts had floated around him as he talked to her. Would those same hearts shatter around her now?

That thought terrified her too. She might fear him just as much. He had lived in the Rogue Isles for five years! Five years under that tyrant Lord Recluse. Five years fighting every day for his life, trying to eek out a living while avoiding the ire of Arachnos and the long, angry arm of Longbow. She'd smuggled those letters to him, but he'd never been able to write back, or at least never been able to get them to her.

Maybe he simply hadn't tried. Life in the Isles could have been too hard for him to try. How dare he never try, though! The thought made her so angry at him! But it wasn't at him, really, and she also knew he probably had tried, that though there'd never been a letter that reached her hands, he'd sent messages that only she would understand and he missed her every damn day he spent in that hellhole.

She loved him still, that much was certain. She'd never been in love before. It was funny how much love could change a person's very nature so thoroughly. What if she'd not been so weak when she merged? Would her emotions have engendered so much change? Could she have survived these past five years without the strength and conviction being a Warshade gave her? Should she have even forgiven Yoshito, or should she have dumped him like the worthless villain everyone thought he was and treated her dalliance with Holy Evil as more than just a mistake?

Those bloody -oulds. Damn them all. She'd battled self doubt ever since that day. What was really her? What was the result of what she used to be? Was she more, or less, or the same? Or were such comparisons even a real question. Would Kate have destroyed Yosh? Would Crepusculum have followed him? Would she have done something different if there'd only been some minute difference? Could she even know? Should she even think about it.

Those -oulds again. She hated them so much but she couldn't stop thinking about them. She really loved them, of course, but she never liked to admit that to herself, except in her lowest points of self-loathing. In whispered murmurs into Holy Evil's ear as he slept and she promised never again, this was the last time.

A Longbow flier touched down on the tarmac and a lump rose in her throat. A dim glow lit her surroundings and she held up her hand and saw the dim purple light of her powers tinting her pale hand. She tore off the worthless glasses and the fires swirled into full force.

As the door opened and out stepped Yoshito, she was glad to find that all her worries had been so silly.

She could feel nothing but joy.

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