4pm Saturday Afternoon.
The rest of the day went smoothly. Skuld was holed up in her room whimpering like a lost puppy and clutching her stomach. It took three doses of Urd's medicine before the little goddess was feeling somewhat better. Keiichi finished the rest of the maintenance on the bike and settled down in his room to grab a nap before dinner. Urd took advantage of Skuld's upset stomach to monopolize the television, and was soon absorbed in a Ninja Slasher TV marathon. Belldandy stayed busy by preparing lunch, and doing the laundry. She had just finished hanging sheets out on the clothesline when the phone rang.
Bell was the closest to the phone. “Hello, Morisato Residence?”
An unmistakeably majestic voice came through the speaker. One that Belldandy was quite familiar with. “Belldandy.”
“Yes, Kami-sama” she responded with a slight catch in her voice. Even while Urd was totally into the Ninja Slasher show, her goddess hearing picked up the mention of the Almighty's name. Quietly she padded out of her room and joined Bell at the phone.
Kami-sama continued “Belldandy, It has been decided that it is time for you to resume your duties at the Goddess Assistance Agency. Your contract with the man named Keiichi Morisato will be voided without penalty. You must prepare to return to Heaven immediately.”
“Why Kami-sama? Is my performance inadequate? I have not yet fulfilled my contract with Keiichi. I cannot leave him now.” Belldandy said sadly, tears forming in her eyes. She looked at Urd as if searching for her next response. .
“I understand that you have grown quite fond of Keiichi Morisato. He is a unique person, one with many traits that make him stand out from the rest of humanity. But remember Belldandy. You are a goddess. Your first duty is to me and Yggdrasil. You are needed in Heaven. No amount of time spent on Earth can alter this fact.” Kami-sama spoke, a tinge of irritation entering his tone. “So now. Prepare to return to heaven.”
Sadly, Belldandy paused and looked down at her left hand.
It was not the fanciest ring, really. Just a simple gold band with a small solitary diamond. It was the ring Keiichi gave her on their first anniversary of living together. It took him five days of working back-breaking part-time jobs to save up the money to buy her that ring. And it wasn't even the ring he wanted to get her. The one he wanted cost 30,000 yen more, but he forgot to figure in the sales tax. She remembered the nights that Keiichi would come home late dead tired from working his butt off. She had always wondered what he was doing and why he was toiling so hard. But she had implicit trust in him, that whatever he was doing was for the best. So she never questioned him. When he finally presented that ring to her, she scolded him about working so hard on her behalf. But her heart was filled with so much love and joy that he would buy this for her and her alone. She treasured that ring, and never took it off.
Keiichi had always had a hard time telling Belldandy how much he loved her. He always got tongue tied, and the words never came out, or if they did, they didn't come out right, or something or someone got in the way. But this ring, this simple ring said what Keiichi could not. It was at this point that she had made up her mind about what she was going to do. If Keiichi could put so much sweat and toil into showing her what he thought of her, it was time to return that affection in kind. She weighed the costs of both sides of the decision. No doubt what she was about to do was going to land her in big trouble. But when it came down to her and Keiichi, she swore to protect him at all costs and to stay by his side, and she would do so even without Heavenly sanction. And to a Goddess First Class, her word was her bond.
“Kami-sama” Bell said, her resolve rising. “With all due respect, I will not leave Keiichi. I will not return to heaven.”
Steel was in her voice. Urd gasped. Never had she seen Belldandy refuse an order from heaven. Bell was always known as the goddess' goddess. She earned the highest marks in her training. She flew the fastest broom in Heaven. She had the finest singing voice of all the goddesses. She showed evidence of great power long before those her age. The entire company of goddesses attended her commissioning ceremony, as a testimony of how loved and respected she was amongst her peers. Something that rarely happened in heaven. While Urd feared for Belldandy's career as a goddess, she was silently congratulating her for standing up for her principles, as well as a little intrigued to see what Kami-sama would do next.
Kami-sama remained calm, although his voice betrayed that he was not used to hearing back-talk from a goddess, and that this uprising had to be nipped in the bud. “Belldandy, I am sure you understand the penalty for disobeying an official order from Heaven. Your license could be suspended for up to 100 years heaven time. That is 500 years earth time. This would be a very large black mark on an otherwise stellar career. “However, because you are such a valued goddess, I will give you one more chance to comply without penalty. Your contract with Keiichi Morisato is hereby rescinded. You are no longer required to remain by his side. You will now prepare to return to Heaven. If you comply, no more will be said of this. Your record will remain clear. But if you refuse to comply, the penalty stated will be implemented, and you will be returned to Heaven by force if necessary. Consider well your decision, Belldandy.”
Belldandy needed no time to make her decision. She spoke with the utmost clarity and reason, with no sign of nervousness or intimidation. “Kami-sama. I love being a goddess. I love spreading happiness and joy to all I meet. And under any other circumstance with any other person with whom I would be contracted, I would comply without hesitation. But I love Keiichi as much, if not more, than my calling as a goddess.
“I swore to him that I would protect him and stay by his side forever. And my word is my bond. I am a better goddess for having lived with him. He has taught me so much about life as a human. I would rather lose my license, my career, and even my life rather than break my oath and bond to him. Because my love for him and my obligation to him reaches beyond the words of a contract. It is embedded deep in my heart and written indelibly on my soul, and it cannot be erased or rescinded. If you wish to suspend or revoke my license, do it. If you send other goddesses to escort me to heaven under guard, I will resist them and if necessary, will fight them. There is nothing you can say or do that will cause me to leave Keiichi. I love him with all my heart, and will give everything for him. So Kami-sama. The answer is no. I will not return to heaven.”
Silence. Urd and Belldandy looked at each other. Looking into Bell's eyes, Urd could see that she was not kidding, nor was she calling Kami-sama's bluff. She was dead serious. The only other time that she had seen Belldandy with that look in her eye was during the incident with the Lord of Terror, after the Midgard serpents bit Keiichi while infected with the Lord of Terror program and transferred the virus to him. Bell had removed her power seal to battle the Lord of Terror. At that time, Bell had access to her full range of power. Enough to destroy the Earth. She was willing to give her all back then for Keiichi. Just as she is willing to do so now. Belldandy was displaying a backbone of steel, and Urd had gained tremendous respect for her younger sister.
“Well, Belldandy, what do you think? You're playing a very dangerous game here. I hope you're prepared to face the consequences.”
“Urd, I have never been more serious in my life. This is no game. I am fully prepared to lose my license, and my life if necessary to protect Keiichi and to stay with him. One thing that has happened since I've lived here with Keiichi is that I have learned a lot about myself.
“ Much of what I've learned showed me that despite my being a goddess aligned with the light, I have a dark side, also. I have become extremely protective of Keiichi and I am also a very jealous and possessive woman. I am not proud of it, but it is what it is. When I see other girls and goddesses flirting with Keiichi, even you Urd, I get so full of rage and anger. I try to hold it back, but sometimes it just gets so hard to restrain that I can no longer contain myself. Then it comes forth as a jealousy storm that causes much destruction. I want Keiichi all to myself and I can't countenance any other woman being with him.
“ But I have to be the good goddess that puts on the happy face. I have to preserve my reputation of being pleasant and positive and loving. I love what I do, Urd. I love you, and Skuld as only sisters can love each other. I love all the friends I've made on this Earth. Megumi, Chihiro, Tamiya, Ootaki, Sora, I even love people like Sayoko and Aoshima. It is in my makeup to love. But there is one whom I love most of all and that is Keiichi Morisato. And I am willing to give all this up to be with him forever.
Urd sighed and took Belldandy's hands. “I've gained a whole new level of respect for you Belldandy. I didn't think you had it in you to be the little rebel. I like it. And whatever happens I'll support you.”
Kami-sama came back on the line. “ Belldandy, you have put me and the Heavenly Council in a difficult position. I wanted to revoke your license permanently. But the Council thinks that you're too important a goddess to lose. So they have taken the unusual step of having you appear before them in a hearing to determine what should be done with you. I will defer to the Council in this matter even though I have the authority to override their recommendation. The hearing will require that you appear in the Council Chambers along with Urd, Skuld, and Keiichi Morisato. You have my word that once you appear in Heaven, you will not be placed in custody nor have your license suspended or revoked until the Council makes their decision. Your goddess privileges and your contract are still in effect for the moment.”
Belldandy considered this for a few moments. “Kami-sama, I accept the council's summons for a hearing. I thank you for coming to this decision. But how will Keiichi be allowed to enter heaven? He's a three dimensional being. He would not be able to function in a ten dimensional world. No human has ever been able to glimpse Heaven much less enter.”
Kami-sama said. “There is a spell that can convert Keiichi Morisato's body into one that can function in our environment. However it is only temporary. It only lasts forty-eight hours. Also, even though this spell exists, it has never been performed before because there was never any need for it. It is a very precise and demanding spell to cast. It requires three First Class Goddesses with Level One Song Proficiency. There are only three First Class Goddesses in Heaven that hold that degree of mastery. You, Belldandy are one. The others are Peorth and Lind. I will be sending those two down to the earth to assist you in casting this spell, as well as escort you back to Heaven. I must warn you that this spell leaves no room for error. The slightest wrong note and at the least, the spell will not work. At worst, Keiichi's body may be destroyed in the transition process. And if he does not accompany you to the hearing, your punishment will be carried out.
“Do not thank me yet, Belldandy. Your future as a goddess is by no means secure. You could still have your license suspended or revoked. Or you could suffer the ultimate penalty for a goddess—being cut off from Yggdrasil completely. That would place you in a state of limbo. Unable to derive power from Yggdrasil, unable to use your abilities and powers. Unable to re-enter Heaven. But also unable to stay on Earth. I appreciate your desire to remain on Earth and live with Keiichi Morisato. He is quite a man for you to oppose me like this. But I cannot allow goddesses to challenge my authority without consequence. The hearing will take place in two Earth days. Prepare yourself, your sisters, and Keiichi Morisato.” Kami-sama rang off the line.
Urd scratched her head, looked confused, and said “Lind and Peorth have Level One Song Proficiency? That's news to me. Then again I had never heard either one of them sing.”
Belldandy responded “Yes, they do. They both have beautiful singing voices, almost as good as mine. Not to brag of course. In order to become a Goddess First Class, one must have at least a Level Three Proficiency. You sing at Level Two. But for some reason, Lind and Peorth have never done much in the way of singing. Being that Lind is a combat specialist, perhaps she doesn't have much use for singing spells. Also, she's a good singer, but she's not very good with non-combat magic. That could be a problem. I'm not sure about Peorth, either. Well, we will get to see both of them in two days.”
Urd then remarked “Well we, or should I say, you, better get our boy Keiichi ready for what's to come. He has no idea what he's in for. However, with all the things he's been through since we've been living with him, he may come through it with flying colors. Or we may have to scrape what's left of him from the courtyard.