Characters: Hoshikawa Subaru, War-Rock, Ogami Juurou, Wolf, Jean Couronne XIV, Crown, Hibiki Misora, Shirogane Luna, Ushijima Gonta, Saishoin Kizamaro, many others.
Warnings: Dark. Pretty dark. Actually, it's Bad End dark. I BLAME GABE. IT WAS HIS IDEA.
Notes: Bad End AU. oops what are emotions. Also, don't forget to read chapter 3.75 below this! EDIT: Oops, forgot to put in Ikuta-sensei's scene! It's in, now, right after Gonta's near the end!
Summary: He couldn't save them. Why did he keep trying?
Ogami Juurou, if you asked him, would have called himself content with his current life as a gardener. Sure, he had a bit of a wild side to him, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t keep under control. At least, not until he met Wolf. Now he felt himself hungering for battle almost constantly, especially during the full moons. It was maddening! But Wolf encouraged this more vicious side of his, saying he needed Juurou to be battle hungry, waiting for an opponent who he knew would be an interesting match.
When Wolf sniffed out the very FM-ian he was looking for, the traitor War-Rock, or so he was told, he was startled to find out that War-Rock Denpa-Henkaned with a young boy. But the boy’s waves were strong, and when he challenged him to a match, the boy had given him an unflinching, unwavering stare until he had finally nodded his assent. This would be a fine match.
Indeed, the two had struggled with each other, trying to find an even ground. Both Denpa-Humans fought viciously and remorselessly, without any regard for their surroundings or their own welfare. This recklessness led to both of the fighters taking heavy damage, and the landscape around them torn up with fire and claws.
Eventually, the only reason that Rockman won was because he gained the upper hand by simply ducking right under Wolf just as he saw the full moon, felt his bloodlust rise tenfold, and sliced through him with a flaming hot sword just as he had torn into Rockman’s shoulder. In the end, Rockman was the one who delivered the more fatal final blow.
Rockman stood over both Juurou and Wolf, regarding them with an expression that could almost have been pity if it wasn’t so blank.
“How sad. A life devoted to wanting nothing else but fighting and blood…” Juurou only laughed, spitting out a bit of blood in the process.
“Yeah, well, I can’t say that fight wasn’t worth it. You really gave it more than I expected!”
“Are you truly happy with that? Will you not crave a more vicious fight later on? This cycle of craving…you would continue to live through that?”
“Haah, if I did end up wanting a better fight than this, I don’t think I’d be happy at all. You don’t get much more vicious and deadly than lying on the floor and awaiting your impending death blow, after all.” Rockman merely nodded.
“So it is. Enjoy this moment, human partner of Wolf. Be happy. It will be your last.”
All Juurou had to say in response to that was a sharp bark of laughter that was echoed by Wolf, and mere moments later, they had both departed this world after the fiery blade came down one last time.
Jean Couronne Velmod Georgione XIV was often considered a foolish, stupid king in his own time. Perhaps he was. But he was rich, and he was powerful, and nobody could counteract him because he was rich and powerful, no matter how stupid they thought he was! Or at least they couldn’t before the revolution. That was a terrible thing, because it meant they kicked him out of power! And then he went on a ship in exile and it sank, and all his riches were gone forever! The only thing left of him to cling onto was his royal crown, and that had ended up in a junkyard, of all things! The humanity!
Now, that Crown fellow, he was a fine man! Er, spirit! With him, he had power again! What a wonderful feeling, after all this time of lounging helplessly around his precious, beautiful, slightly rusted and worn crown!
When that young upstart, that Rock-fellow or whatever he called himself, came to destroy Crown, well, of course he wouldn’t have it! Hearing that he was fused with a traitor to Crown’s people as well, that only added extra incentive to punish the child. He wouldn’t let another revolution stop him! Not this time!
Only this child was strong. This child had power. This child had what he used to have, what he clung onto a spectral existence for in an attempt to regain it-authority, strength, the will to use it, and using it to make others fear him. He destroyed every single minion sent against him remorselessly, countered his attacks whenever he could, and deliberately went to unbalance him, corner him before he could attack with his spirits again.
And corner him he did, next to the incinerator, where he had finally managed to pin him down with some well placed Junk Cubes and Wood Hammers. In fact, that was what he had used to pin him up against the incinerator at that very moment, a large hammer made out of wood.
“Now, that’s enough, spirit. Rest. You’ve been awake long enough.”
“Never, never! I’ll be awake as long as I want, as long as I need, for me to gain my power again!”
And then the child had the gall to look at him with disgust. With pity. With a scathing, almost even possibly amused expression.
“You really are a foolish spirit.”
Now, he had been called a fool, an idiot, a stupid imbecile of a king many times. But that had been done behind his back, by people scared of his power and strength, or shouted at him by a large mob, by people protected by the anonymity of the crowd. Never before had anyone told this to him straight to his face, with such an expression. And by a delinquent of a child! It was indignity of the worst kind!
“Ah. I dare speak the truth. Why would you remain on this earth for so long, when you’ve already been granted the chance to leave?”
“Why would I leave it?! My riches, my belongings, my power, all of it resides here!”
“And it is all lost to you, forever. You are a spirit. You have no use for these things. You cannot interact with the living world. Would you damn yourself to eternal existence to cling onto these useless things?”
“Of course! What is better than existing, after all?”
“I can show you that, easily. There is nothing more painful than existence…” And with that, Rockman swung the hammer, launching Crown Thunder into the depths of the junkyard. By the time Crown Thunder had managed to find his way back to the incinerator, Rockman had found the royal crown that had been giving off the same denpa as him, holding it with a malicious, speculative expression.
“Peasant! I demand you unhand that relic immediately!”
“Of course, sir.” And with that, Rockman hurled the aged headpiece to the ground. It was rusted and old, and shattered easily. Immediately, Crown Thunder felt an aching, physical pain course through him that was only amplified by the emotions that came with his precious crown being broken.
“You wretched cur! Repair it, now!”
“I have better plans for it, I’m afraid.” And with that, the pieces were gathered into Rockman’s arms. Crown Thunder, incapacitated by the pain, could do nothing as he watched the boy walk with the shattered remains of his crown to the incinerator, although he did make vain attempts.
“You awful child! Hajou-“
And then Rockman dropped a single piece of the crown into the incinerator.
Crown Thunder let out a wailing, ghastly scream as he felt a piece of his own soul burn away as well. He had been attached to that crown for so long as a symbol of what he once was that his soul was tightly bound to it. He felt the burning pain consume him, slowly, little by little. And then it stopped consuming him, but the pain was still there. His soul still burned for that piece lost, and it ached. Oh, how it hurt. He hadn’t felt pain like this since he was last alive, and even then it didn’t feel so bad that he felt like he would not only die, but be erased from existence itself!
“Do you see now? The pain of living…”
“Y-you…I will see you burn, you-aaaaaaaaahhhhhuuuuugh!” Another piece had been dropped in. That child was deliberately waiting for each piece to completely burn before tossing the next one in, that little…devil! Crown Thunder felt bits of his physical body starting to break off now, his skeleton body was crumbling! No! He wouldn’t…he wouldn’t disappear…not like this…not lying at somebody else’s feet as they displayed power over him…
His body continued to break apart and his soul continued to burn away as Rockman slowly dropped pieces of the crown into the incinerator. When all the metal parts had gone, Rockman simply tore apart the cloth remains, and dropped each of those in, just as slowly.
Near the end, what little left of both Crown and Jean’s souls were both crying for release from this torment. Even leaving behind this wonderful world would be better than feeling this constant, burning pain, this destruction…
“Do you understand it now…?” Rockman asked. He held the last piece tightly in his fist, preventing its accidental escape. He had asked this every time a piece had burned away, but he had never gotten a response. In the beginning, Crown Thunder had been spewing vitriol and curses against the devil-child, and as it got closer to the end, it had devolved into insensate sobbing and unintelligible mumbling.
But now, he held the last piece. And he wouldn’t give it up until he had an answer. Crown and Jean had to force themselves to fight through the muddled mess of pain with their fragile wisp of a spirit, had to struggle to find words that they could barely pronounce anymore through the pain.
“We…under…stand…” murmured Crown Thunder, his crumbling skull the only thing remaining of him. “T…this pain…if I had just…died when…I had…to…I wouldn’t…”
“You wouldn’t have had to feel it. I know. Do not speak. I have heard enough. Rest, spirit. Welcome your oblivion.”
And with that, the final patch of cloth was released into the incinerator, and the dying sob that Crown Thunder had let out was a grateful one as his soul burned itself into nonexistence.
Hasami never felt more alone than he did now. Finally finding a friend, and then losing him all in the same day…well, that was typical of his bad luck, wasn’t it? Nobody cared, and even when one did, they were bound to leave him somehow. His mother, Cancer…they were gone. He didn’t even have any news on Hibiki Misora to distract him as usual, she was still missing and the news didn’t have anything new to say or any new evidence of her whereabouts. At one point, he thought it would have been great to go looking for her, to rescue her from whatever danger she was in (because there was no way she would have run away, never, never, she loved her fans, didn’t she?), but then he remembered. Cancer wanted to be a hero too.
They…they were going to be heroes together…
Hasami sniffled, before holding back his tears. His dad was drunk again. He hated it whenever Hasami was too noisy while he was “trying to enjoy his buzz” or something like that. Hasami couldn’t play games, or cry, or even visit the kitchen to try and get a snack…then again, there was never that much in the kitchen for food anyway, just a lot of beer and some bread or crackers at the most. School lunch was the best food that he got every day, and he hadn’t even had that for a while now, not since Cancer was gone, he didn’t have the heart to go to school. Maybe if his dad wasn’t so drunk, he could have gone fishing…nah. He didn’t feel like doing much of anything.
Suddenly, Hasami had the feeling that he should turn around. He had felt some sort of presence in his room that was making the hairs of the back of his neck stand for a while now, but he didn’t have the motivation to turn. But there was nothing else to do, so he turned.
And he found himself face to face with that traitor, War-Rock. That bad, nasty traitor that he and Cancer were supposed to defeat and become heroes for beating up. What was he doing here?
“You look rather sad. It took you a long time to notice I was here.”
Rather sad? Rather sad?! Was he teasing him or something? It wouldn’t be any different from anyone else…he didn’t even have the energy to snap at him like he usually did.
“You shouldn’t be so loud. Dad hates it when it’s noisy.”
“Don’t worry, he won’t hear anything.”
(Hasami didn’t know it, but Rockman’s sudden appearance at their house had angered his father when he had first heard Rockman’s footsteps, and Rockman had confronted him in the room next door. At first he had planned to simply knock him out, but…he was an angry drunkard of a man. People who got drunk like that couldn’t be happy people, right? He was better off dead…)
So he wouldn’t hear anything? Then…
“Why? Why did you come back?! You already…you already…” You already killed off his only friend. What more could you do to him, villain?
“I had a job to finish. I’ve left you to suffer too much. I apologize.” Hasami started sniffling.
“Y-yeah, well d-don’t bother saying sorry! I know you’re not really sorry for what you did to Cancer!” Rockman merely raised an eyebrow.
“You’re right. I’m not. I’m apologizing for leaving you here to suffer without him.” And at that, Hasami froze.
“Y-you…you’re?” He wasn’t. But he was. He was really going to…
“I am.” His left arm transformed into a sword. Hasami stared at it, transfixed.
“S-so…th-that’s how it is…I’ll just have been alone my whole life…what difference is it, whatever you choose to do?”
“You’ll be going to where Cancer is. That’s something, isn’t it?”
Hasami said nothing, only watching the blade as it came up and then down, welcoming the blackness that overtook him.
She was doing pretty well on her own, wasn’t she? Nobody had gotten her hands on her. Nobody had touched the purity of her momma’s song. She spent her days laughing loud and long, her giggling intermixed with songs of joy and of wonder, and songs to mama about how well she was doing now that she was free of that terrible man.
Still, things were lonely. She missed being able to talk to someone. The animals here were frightened by her music, and some of them bit and scratched! And she was kind of hungry. She couldn’t really go into town for food because everyone knew she was missing. She couldn’t let anyone see her, or they’d find her and drag her back! Berries and other plants were okay, but sometimes they made her feel itchy. Those mushrooms too, she thought they were safe, but now she felt kind of dizzy and feverish and she really needed to curl up into a ball right now. So she did, but not before she found herself a nice, secluded little niche between the roots of a large tree. It was kind of comfy being surrounded like this, almost like when she used to be held by her mama…
Misora stiffened when she heard footsteps coming towards her. They were too heavy to be something like a fox, but too light for a bear or some other large animal…what could it be? It couldn’t be a person. It couldn’t be.
She couldn’t look up at first, too busy shivering and trying to look small and unnoticeable. But then she saw feet. Human feet. They were covered in shoes-no, boots…blue boots. Familiar blue boots. No. It wasn’t just a person. It was him. That boy. The boy who took Harp from her. She forced herself to look up at him, her face contorting with an expression of fury.
The boy said nothing, only acknowledging her words with a nod. That only served to make her madder.
“What d-do you want? You already t-took Harp…”
“I came because I left something unfinished. That’s caused you needless suffering.” Misora’s eyes widened with fear, looking up at him with a crazed expression.
“W-what, ruin me forever? You’d t-take me back t-to them?! N-never…I won’t let you…” Her voice faded away. She knew she couldn’t stop him, but she didn’t want to admit to it…
“No…that’s not it.” And Misora stopped shaking, even as the boy crouched down so that he was at her eye level and they could look at each other face to face. “There’s something I don’t understand…”
“What…what do you want to know?” He didn’t want to take her back. What did he want, then? It couldn’t be anything worse than taking her back. Nothing was worse than that.
“When we fought, you kept saying something…about protecting a song. Why? Why would you protect something that isn’t even tangible? Doesn’t it cause you unnecessary grief?”
At that, Misora stiffened in anger. Another person who just didn’t understand! But…at least he asked her…at least he seemed to be making an effort to understand. She could at least…try to make him see what she felt. She felt stronger just because she was given that chance. She didn’t even feel the tremors coursing through her body right now.
“My…my mama is in Heaven, right now. Before she went to Heaven, she was always very sick, and I would take care of her. I’d sing to her all the time so that she could know about what was going on outside of her bedroom…and then there were auditions, and Mama bought me a new guitar because she said I had talent, that I should try it. So I tried my hardest for Mama, and I became a star…she was so happy to see me singing all our songs. But Mama is in heaven now…I don’t have anyone to sing for anymore…My manager said to sing for my fans, but he’s a greedy good-for-nothing, he just wants money! That’s why I have to protect my mama’s songs, otherwise they’ll become tainted by all those greedy people…they won’t be perfect for mama anymore!”
Misora started to sob weakly. She didn’t see Rockman stand up, nor did she see the slightest expression of pity that crossed his face.
“I think…I think I understand now.” She looked up, speechless, face still glistening with tears. “You don’t really want to protect the songs. The songs are just words that anyone can say…”
“How can you say something like-“ Her angry tirade was cut off when he put a finger to his lips in a shushing motion, the almost gentle expression on his face calming her immediately.
“The songs represent what’s important to you. You…you miss your mama, don’t you?” Misora was speechless. How did he…she never said…she never thought that…but now that she thought about it, she…that was why she…
“Those feelings of grief from losing your mama…they continue to haunt you this whole time. That’s why it hurts continuing to sing. Those feelings are poisoning the good times you had with your mama. As long as you miss your mama, you’ll never really be able to truly enjoy your songs again…”
“You…how did you…” Her throat tightened up. She felt ready to cry again. “I’ll…I’ll never stop missing her…she was so important to me…she was all I had left…”
“Ah, I see…” And then the boy smiled down at her, and she suddenly felt a glimmer of hope. “Do you want to see your mama again?”
“Yes…” she gasped, her voice light and breathy and nearly nonexistent. It was a wonder that he heard her at all. “You can…you’ll let me see her again?”
“Aah. You don’t need to be on this world anymore, to feel these feelings of grief, do you?”
“No…no. Not at all. I want to go to Heaven and see Mama again…”
“I understand.” The gentle expression on the boy’s face never changed, even as he raised his left arm up and it transformed into a long blade.
“Smile. You don’t want to go see your mama with a sad face now, do you?”
And Misora didn’t smile. She laughed, a loud, long, insanely happy sound that didn’t stop until her head was separated from her body.
Under normal circumstances, if Luna had known she was merely a few hundred meters away from a pop idol, and that they were, in fact, hiding out in the exact same stretch of wilderness, she would have been excited and awed and perhaps asked for an autograph or two. As it was, she was hungry and weak and tired. Unlike Misora, Luna didn’t feel the need to try to take care of her body. She barely ate, barely drank, and only slept when her body couldn’t move anymore. It was a wonder that no one had found her, considering she didn’t even bother trying to hide.
It was during one of her lethargic moments, when her body completely refused to move but she couldn’t sleep, that she saw him. That boy who had killed Ophiuchus. Who should have killed her. She didn’t see him at first, as she was face down in the dirt, and it wasn’t until he had turned her over to see if she was still alive that she spotted him. Her first reaction was to look up at him with shock, then to let a few tears escape her.
“Why, what?” He didn’t seem to be taunting her. He actually looked genuinely curious.
“Why didn’t you…why didn’t you kill me, back then…?” The boy raised an eyebrow, and then let a fleeting expression of guilt cross his face.
“I am truly sorry. Back then, I thought it was better to let the human partner live, because it was all the FM-ians' doing. I didn’t think they would suffer. I forgot that taking away the FM-ian left them with a hole in their hearts again…”
“No…that’s wrong. It’s worse than that.” She sniffled, and the blue boy got down on one knee to look down at her. His expression was so gentle…
“What do you mean?”
“You tore them out of our hearts. Don’t you think that would have left extra wounds, the way you did it? So suddenly…” She saw him grimace, saw him realize what he had been doing, and felt terrible, both for her for making him feel this way, and for him feeling it.
“I…I see. I understand, now. I thought it was bad enough, leaving people to continue suffering as they previously were. I didn’t think that I left them in an even worse state than before. You had that sensation of a full heart, and to suddenly take that away from you…it leaves you feeling worse than before, doesn’t it?”
Luna merely nodded, not having the strength to give him more misery. She watched him stand up.
“I’ve come to fix that, now. You don’t need to live with this pain anymore.” Luna smiled gratefully, nodding as she saw his hand transform into a sword. But then…
“Wait.” And he did. She still had a little bit of the Class President authority in her, after all.
“My friends…” He looked confused until she gained enough strength to keep talking. “Gonta and Kizamaro…they’re suffering too, because of those monsters. They won’t…I won’t be able to help them anymore. They won’t make it…could you…could you please…fix that too?”
The boy looked stunned, but then he smiled gently and nodded.
“I will. I was planning on it, actually, Gonta, at the very least. I can take care of Kizamaro as well.”
Luna’s eyes closed, tears glimmering on her face.
“Be at peace. Everything will be fine, now.”
Luna didn’t even feel her neck being severed.
As he opened the door to Kizamaro’s room, the last thing Gonta expected to see was a boy in blue standing over Kizamaro’s bloodied body. He did the first thing he could think of, which was to charge at the boy in his wheelchair, and damn the consequences.
The other boy merely jumped over him, landing against the door and slamming it in a single, fluid motion.
“You-how could you-?!” And as Gonta turned around to face him, he felt memories coming back to him. Turning into a monster. Taking over the truck. Fighting against and losing to…
“It was you…you were the one who stopped me…weren’t you?”
“I see you remember me.” The other boy landed on the floor and stood up straight, and Gonta realized that had he still had the use of his two legs, Gonta would have been larger than him.
“Ha…haha…so that’s how it is. Even with a monster’s help, even when I’m bigger and stronger than you…my strength’s all useless, isn’t it?”
“You shouldn’t say that. You and your strength were very important to someone.” The boy kept walking towards him, coming closer. Gonta involuntarily backed up, until he was level with Kizamaro’s bed. He belatedly realized that the machines had been disabled, no wonder nobody had noticed him dying until it was too late…that reminded him…
“Why? If you saved us before…why did you do that to him…?”
“It was a request from the Class President.” Those words made Gonta pause.
“The…the Class President? Does that mean…is she?!”
“She is no longer in this world.” And Gonta felt his hope shatter.
“I am not. I witnessed her end myself.” And then, the boy had the gall to smile at him. “She was very worried about you two.” Gonta felt his throat tighten up.
“O…of course she would be. The Class President always fussed about us…she helped me…she helped us so much…”
“I know. She was a good friend, wasn’t she?” There was a chuckle. “Those were her last words to me. ‘I won’t be able to take care of them now. Please make sure that Gonta and Kizamaro don’t have to feel this pain anymore.’”
“Don’t have to feel this pain…” Gonta repeated almost dumbly, wondering. She was thinking about them, even when she was about to…she…
“Aaah. The pain of continuing to live the way you are. Kizamaro mindless, your strength gone, and the very person your strength was useful to…she is no longer around.” The words wrapped around his mind, seductive and tempting.
“It was…so hard to hear that she went missing. Right after we found out that Kizamaro would never be himself again. And then her parents died in that fire...she must have been hurting so much, and I…I couldn’t help her at all!!!”
“I know. She missed you both dearly, you know that?” Gonta looked up at the boy. When had he gotten so close? When did his hand turn into that sword? “She wanted the best for you. I came here to fulfill her last wishes. Isn’t she such a good friend?”
“She is…she’s the best. She’ll always be the best.” He started to cry. “Oh, Class President…worrying about someone worthless like me…!”
“Now, now. Don’t say that. She cared for you, so you’re not worthless at all, now are you?” And Gonta looked up, transfixed by the gentle expression the boy wore, even with his sword raised up in the air.
“She asked me to take you to where she is. Are you ready to see her again?”
Gonta nodded, and closed his eyes, welcoming the downward slash that ended his life.
Ikuta Michimori (he refused, he absolutely refused to call himself a sensei now, not after what he did) couldn’t sleep. The dull pain in his back was keeping him up again. Somehow, it felt like no matter how much medication or treatment was given to him, the pain would never really go away. An appropriate punishment, even if he felt it wasn’t strong enough. Something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Why did he have to make such a decision? Why did no one blame him for it? When he told his story, they attributed his story about Libra to “hallucinatory nonsense, probably something concocted up from all those painkillers he’s been on, poor man!” and condemned the principal for forcing him to choose his job over his students. None of his students wanted to blame him either, not even Luna-that poor girl, he did hope she didn’t go missing due to what he caused-and she had always been vehement on ensuring that teachers did their jobs in the school (duty of the Class President, of course!).
And his children, oh, his poor kids…they missed their father. That was all. They didn’t care about what their father did at work. They just wanted him home again, so he could pick them up and hold them, tell them their favorite stories, and tuck them into bed. He’d failed them as well. And with no job, and the school in the midst of shutting down, he had no viable source of income for the future. He could barely afford to raise his seven kids on his teacher’s salary as it was. With every day he was kept in the hospital, more money was siphoned away from his children’s meals, toys, and their home…
Why did nobody blame him? Why?!
He didn’t recognize that voice. It sounded like a child’s, but…it wasn’t any of his students, or his children. And it was too late at night for those kids to be visiting anyway. Was he hallucinating?
“I’m no sensei, child. You shouldn’t be here, you’d best get back to your hospital room before you get in trouble…”
“But I came to see you, Ikuta-sensei! It took me a while to find out who you were!”
A complete stranger. Why would a child come to see him if they didn’t even know…ah. Those rumors about the mad teacher. Maybe he was here on a dare?
“Yes, well, you’ve seen me. You should probably leave now…”
“But…well, I wanted to apologize, you see…”
“Apologize?” Shouldn’t he be the one apologizing? What did this child-who apparently didn’t even know him-need to apologize for?
“Mmhm! For hurting you while you were Libra Scales! I needed to stop you, but I kind of went too far…I was really desperate, I’m sorry!”
“What…?” He winced at hearing that name. So there was a child who believed that story, but…what did he mean, hurting him…he turned, and then…that odd blue-clothed boy from the dimmest edges of his memory was there in the room, sitting on a chair next to his bed.
“You are…that boy? The one fused with the traitor…?”
“Mmhm, that’s me. I came to see how you were doing, once I heard you were really badly hurt. They say you’ll probably be in the hospital for a long time, huh?”
“Yes…that’s right. I don’t blame you, though. I shouldn’t have made that decision…”
“Mmm, well, I can’t say I don’t blame you. You had the desire to do that deep in your heart somewhere, otherwise the FM-ian wouldn’t have taken you over. Libra, I mean.”
So that’s what it was. Because of his weakness, because he was unable to follow through with his will and his ideals, and wasn’t able to help both his students and his kids…that was why.
“Anyways, I’m not worried about that. The fact is, I left you to suffer like that for a long time…so…sorry.” And the boy stood, stretching.
“It’s not my suffering that bothers me, anyway, so don’t you worry about me.” The boy looked at him, with wide innocent eyes full of curiosity. Ah, to be a naïve youth again…
“Then…what’s making you suffer? You’re very sad, I can sense your waves…”
“My children…” It felt good to vent like this. To someone who would let him take the blame, but remained sympathetic. They lent a listening ear, and even if he couldn’t do anything about it, at least someone would hear his fears for their safety and well-being. “I can’t take care of them like this. I made the decision I did because I wanted to keep my job, to protect them, but now…I have no job. And I’m in no condition to find a new one. There’s a lawsuit going against the school to provide for them, but with how slow legal processes are, they won’t be seeing any support from them in a long time, and even then I’m sure they’ll try to try and pay as little as possible…and that’s not the worst of it.”
“Hm? But not being able to eat, or have a home, or anything like that…how is anything worse than that, sensei?”
“They won’t have their father either, child. I’ve lost a part of myself that I can’t get back, and even if I do recover enough to get out of this darned bed, I’ll be a cripple. I won’t be able to hold them or comfort them, and I’ll only be a burden to them this way. They’ll remember their father as the bung-up who got himself hurt at work, and left them with so much work. What kind of father would I be, if my children had to take care of me before they were old enough to even get a job? They’ll never remember anything I taught them, about how to love life and live it to the fullest, because they’ll have spent their lives, their precious childhoods, cleaning up after my mess! I wanted to do something for them, but I…I…I ended up ruining their lives instead! What sort of father am I?”
“A very loving one.”
The response jolted him out of his self-berating rant. He looked over at the child, who was looking down at him. The expression…it was surprisingly gentle, older than a kid his age should be wearing. A face that had seen many scenes of suffering, had gone through so much…
“Your kids are lucky, to have a father like you. Many people would only be cursing their luck, trying to find some way to benefit themselves rather than worrying about their kids, don’t you think? After all, your injuries were very serious.”
“A…aa, I suppose. But being a loving father isn’t going to put food in my children’s mouths, or send them to school, or…”
“Mm, I supposed not. But…it’s enough to make the ultimate effort for them, isn’t it?”
“Of course. But what effort could I make, being like this?”
“Ah, the solution is simple, really. That phrase, how did they say it? ‘If you truly love them, you’ll let them go’?”
“Mmhm!” And the boy nodded. “I hear parents talk about things called ‘insurance,’ that would protect the children if they died. You have that ‘insurance,’ right?”
“For now, I do…”
“Well, don’t you think you should take advantage of it?” The question was so blunt, so out of left field, that it left Ikuta nearly speechless.
“It would be faster than waiting for that school to pay, right? Plus, doesn’t that also mean that your children would be given to people who could take care of them for you? They can be good fathers and mothers for you! You wouldn’t have to worry about your kids at all, and they could grow up without having to worry about taking care of a daddy who couldn’t take care of himself. It works out great for everyone, doesn’t it?”
“It…does…but…” The fact that this child could talk about such things, without dropping that innocent tone…it unnerved him. It didn’t unnerve him enough to stop him from listening, though, the child’s words had too much truth, too much possibility in them to ignore.
“Ikuta-sensei…” The boy’s tone sounded petulant and whiny, and the former teacher couldn’t help but smile at how similar it sounded to one of his kids getting a time out or detention. “You said you loved your kids a lot!”
“I do, child. Really, I do…”
“Then, shouldn’t you help them?” The boy smiled, and tilted his head. His next words had a slight edge of…anger? Maliciousness? Warning? It was hard to tell.
“You already failed your students, Ikuta-sensei. Don’t fail your children, too.”
Ikuta’s eyes widened. Someone….someone was finally outright blaming him. He was now expected to take responsibility for his actions. It was gratifying…but at the same time, almost terrifying. And yet…while blaming him, they were giving him a chance to repent. To try and fix his mistakes. They were giving him a chance at proper redemption, instead of pitying him and trying to push the blame elsewhere. His decision was sealed.
“…I understand.” And then, a relaxed smile crossed his face, as if he had made peace with himself. “Thank you, child.”
“You should close your eyes, Ikuta-sensei. It would be better that way. And keep that smile! You need to watch over your children happily, you know!” A small chuckle escaped the former teacher’s lips at that even as he followed those lighthearted commands.
“I wonder why you continue to call me sensei. After all, I did fail my students.”
“But you were a good teacher, weren’t you, sensei? Besides, you could have been my teacher, too! My mother mentioned that she saw you in a meeting, once, to talk about me. And Tsukasa-kun mentioned that you always called my name…”
“Could have been…ah. So you’re the Hoshikawa Subaru that never shows up, are you?” Ikuta-sensei let out one last chuckle. He had hoped to meet the child, once. Still, it looked like he had learned much about the world, even without learning from him. “You grew up well.”
“Thank you, sensei.”
And Ikuta knew no more.
It was simple work, ending Utagai’s life. No need to use pretty words on a comatose man, after all. All it took was disabling the machines that would alert the nurses and then a slash at the throat. Easy. It was likely painless too, what with his body in the state it was. Why did they bother keeping the man alive, letting his soul go through that, trapped within a useless husk? There was no chance at recovery after all.
“You were such a bitter and jealous man…isn’t it better for you now, not having anything to worry about? Nothing at all…”
Rockman chuckled and then opened up his Transer.
“That’s it. All the remaining FM-ians and their human partners have been taken care of. Now, there is nothing to worry about coming after me while I go after the FM King and his controller. It did take three years for you to come here because of you constantly having to hide from your pursuers, War-Rock. I’d rather not have to deal with anything slowing us down, you know…”
He felt the Andromeda Key rumble in response and gently stroked the gem that was still protruding from his chest. “Ah, there is no need to worry. Earth will have its suffering ended soon enough.”
Rockman’s laughter echoed throughout the hospital room as he disappeared.
Kodama Town had a taste of fame when the tragedy of the space station, Peace, happened three years before. Now, it was under an absolute onslaught of media attention. Mysterious deaths peppered all around it and its surrounding areas were something of interest, after all.
It had started off with a body in a junkyard. The body had been identified as one Tsukasa Futaba, and a look into his sparse history found that he had been abandoned as a baby in that very same junkyard. He had been shunted from orphanage to orphanage, and there were rumors of him starting fights with other people. It was concluded that this had been the outcome of one of those fights, but the search for someone who wielded a blade long enough to pierce through the chest who fit any suspects continued.
Another body was found in the rubble of the burned down Yashibu Department Store. Ogami Juurou, a simple gardener that had been enlisted to help restore the shop’s floral displays and gardens. There was no known motive.
The next victims were the Hasami family-a divorced man and his young son. It was found that the man, despite being a workaholic, drank excessively and had rung up debts in all the wrong places. It was very possible that someone had contracted someone to extract those debts by any means necessary, but the only problem with that theory was that the house had not been looted at all. Nothing was missing.
Two girls that had previously been reported missing were both discovered in the same forest. They had both been beheaded. Despite the scandalous rumors, there was no evidence that they had been sexually abused, nor forcefully subdued. The fact that they were the missing heiress to the recently deceased Shirogane parents and the famous pop star Hibiki Misora did raise some eyebrows, though, had someone planned on using them in bribery and extortion, and killed them when they refused to cooperate?
The most disturbing scene, however, was found in a hospital. Four patients, all killed within the hospital’s supposedly safe walls, and at least one of them was assumed to be a victim merely by being the wrong place in the wrong time, as Ushijima Gonta was not assigned to the same room as Saishoin Kizamaro.
The only thing linking all of the murders together, other than the murder of Futaba, was the fact that every single victim had been beheaded. But even then, Futaba’s wound had been inflicted by the same sort of weapon. It had been determined that the fatal wounds had been inflicted by some sort of energy-laced blade, due to the wounds cauterizing almost immediately due to some sort of heat source. But what the weapon could be, nobody knew. There was no motive that could have linked these together, or so the public thought.
The Satella Police had kept some information from the public, however. There was one more factor linking them all together, and it also linked to another case that received little media attention compared to the many murders.
Every single victim had been exposed to an intense amount of Z-Waves. This indicated that an alien life form of sorts had been around them, and could possibly have been responsible for their deaths.
The final case was the disappearance of Hoshikawa Subaru, a young boy that had been living with his widowed mother. The last sighting of him had been the mother herself, sending him off to bed on the very same night that Futaba Tsukasa had been murdered. There had been no sign of a struggle, nor any sign of him leaving the room by physical means. The house, Subaru’s room in particular, was saturated in Z-Waves, far too much to simply pin down the source as Subaru’s brief exposure to both the truck and AMAKEN incidents. It was very much possible that there had been an alien life form living in the house for an extensive period of time, and that it had been responsible. The Hoshikawa boy had likely been involved.
When the mother was informed of this, her response was an emotional outburst that had the officers worried for her life as well as their own. She had to be physically restrained from harming the officers after hearing their hypotheses that her young son could possibly have been involved in the murders and was indeed a prime suspect-at least for questioning purposes. She was left alone to sob about the new developments and at losing the only remaining member of her family, with no hopes of recovering either of them and the possibility that her only son had been completely taken over by some vicious alien life form and had turned into a murderer.
If Amachi Mamoru had not come to visit her later that evening to console her about the recent events, her life would have ended that very night.
Hoshikawa Akane, after her outburst and her suicide attempt, had been quietly bustled off to a mental hospital to prevent the information about Z-Waves and alien life forms from spreading to the public. People whispered about how sad it was, how such a nice young woman could lose both her husband and son within three years through no fault of her own, but soon forgot about her. After several weeks of investigation, and no new evidence coming forth, the uproar over the serial killings slowly began to die down. The victims were laid to rest, and soon forgotten, only to be brought up when gossip mills turned. They became the stuff of ghost legends told to scare young children. Kodama Town settled back down into its former sleepy small town lifestyle, save the few interested tourists and speculative gossip reporters that visited every now and then who came to hear about the murders and see the sites close hand.
Life was…status quo.
[A/N]: Yep. Earth has another two years or so of relative peace left until Subaru gets back. Everyone best get cracking on their wills.