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(Just Like A River Running Through) The Year Of The Cat

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Self-acceptance was the key; that was what she kept repeating over and over again, the words like a mantra in her head. Being a perfectionist was of no real use if you truly cared about outcomes; you had to be a realist in order to be able to help someone else, and that included accepting the fact that perfection wasn’t something attainable for either ghosts of living people.

She would never be perfect, but she could still help the living lead a better life. She cared about the job, and she was good at it – even the Spirit King had recognised as much, and had eventually decided to send her back in spite of everything.

It wasn’t until she was standing once more in front of the Name Spirit she used to love that she realised how the Spirit King’s reasoning might have less to do with giving her a second chance at her dream job, and more with sorting out the mess their breakup had left in its wake. Future was the shadow of himself, which was saying something given that he’d been a ghost all along; far from realistically accepting who he was, and his own potential to change the world, he was slowly but steadily descending into a state of manic depression that was utterly painful to witness.

Ironically, his obsession for perfection was exactly what had thrown his entire existence into abject chaos; she couldn’t bear to see him like that – haunted eyes, trembling hands, his once sharp intellect inexorably crumbling under the weight of his quest for something that was factually unachievable.

(And she might not have a heart in the literal sense, but it still ached to see the man she had once loved – still loved, regardless of how much she’d rather not go there – effectively destroying himself while unwilling to accept anyone’s help. However awful their past together had been, she couldn’t help but hope for a better future for Future, in whichever form or shape it came.)

What happened next was unexpected, and yet ultimately very simple. Most spirits tended to be intimidated by their King’s rebuffs, and yet she for one knew he had a heart of gold under his gruff manner. Future wouldn’t tell her about the conversation he’d shared with the Spirit King, but in the end it didn’t matter, for he was back to his old self – the one she had only ever got to know through the vision Past had conjured during their failed attempt at saving him.

The future was no longer bleak; they once more had purpose – both of them, together. There might be no such thing as ‘the One’, but they completed each other, somehow, and that was more than enough.

A better life was never about perfection, so much as it was about helping each other, and other people in turn. And as far as she was concerned, denial might as well go back to being a river in Egypt, and nothing else.