“I’m still angry at you Mari. Even if it was an accident.” Aubrey said, standing under her pink umbrella. They were all gathered here, for one last time before Mari moved away from their lives forever.
“You… probably should be.” Mari muttered, a tear running down her face as she looked down at the grave of her dear little brother.
“It’s still… hard to accept that he’s gone. Even after four years…” Kel whispered, Hero slowly patting him on the back.
“He’s… probably happy he managed to get us all together again. That’s the k-kind of person he is.” Basil said, finally setting down the white orchid he’d been growing specifically for the occasion.
And then they stood in silence.
The rain slowly intensified, a thin sprinkle becoming a downpour over the next few minutes. They made no attempt to move.
“Sunny… I’m so, so sorry…” Mari said, breaking the silence with a sob, “This is all my fault…”
“There’s no point in trying to pass blame now,” Hero muttered, closing his eyes.
“We miss you Sunny. We’ll… We’ll see you again some day, right?” Basil whispered, trying to force a smile as tears began to stream down his own face.
“Don’t say things like that.” Aubrey said, failing to suppress a sniffle, “It… It just makes it hurt more.”
“I figured you’d find it comforting, considering how much time you’ve spent in church.”
Aubrey didn’t answer Kel’s interjection, staring down at Sunny’s name as tears rolled from her eyes. He slowly moved over, making sure the umbrella he was holding was covering the both of them.
October 18th, 2003. Five years after the death of Sunny Suzuki.
Officially ruled a suicide, but in reality a tragic accident that was never meant to occur…
Sunny heard what they had said to him. He’d been watching them for a while, wishing more than anything that he could truly reach out to them.
Their misery at his mistake only made moving on harder.
After a year or two, it dawned on him that he might never move on from the physical world, doomed to wander the earth as a bodiless spirit until the end of time… A terrifying thought when you’re alone with nobody but yourself to talk to.
He tried to help them, to bring them things they’d lost, to… slipping a few things out of a store or two, but at the end of the day he couldn’t truly help them. He’d attempted communication with a pen, but he didn’t have the delicate control over the physical world he needed for that.
Only Mari seemed to have any ability to see him, and it terrified her. He… didn’t visit her often. Not that he didn’t want to, but his mere presence made her hysterical. He knew she had seen him that day, when she’d revealed to them all what really happened.
It tore him apart even more that they hated her for it.
He didn’t want them to be angry at her, it was never her fault. It was his fault he was trying to run, that he’d broken the violin. It was his fault for trying to get Basil to make sure Mari wasn’t blamed.
He remembered his words clearly, they were the last he’d ever truly spoken.
They were all he could muster as the blood loss took its toll.
He wished he could have said so, so much more. How much he wanted to say goodbye to everyone, how he wanted to spend all the time with them that he could…
That he was really, truly scared to die.
Floating alone over his own grave, Sunny just… wanted to cry. To let out the emotions that had no outlet for five long years. To live the life he’d lost from his own hands, intentionally or not.
To relieve the suffering of those who mattered to him most.
If his wish could be granted...
Mari had moved the year prior, the summer Sunny would have turned 16. Kel knew it by heart, he’d still tried to commemorate Sunny’s birthday after all these years, even if there wasn’t much he could do.
It still stung.
But… that was fine. It was always going to, regardless of when they learned it. Better it was now, when they were ready to hear it.
Kel stood up and left his room. The time they’d agreed to see his grave again was only a few minutes away, he didn’t want to miss it for the world.
There was just something in the air that evening, something that nipped at Kel’s skin other than the wind. Worry? Anticipation? Anticipation for what? Was he really that scared of facing the two of them?
“Jeez Kel, get a hold of yourself.” he whispered to himself, slapping his cheeks between his hands.
The church came into view not long after, feeling far larger than usual among the warm autumn leaves. Kel slowly opened the door, passing through towards his true destination…
Cemeteries were never particularly nice places for Kel. It was hard to keep up the smiling act when surrounded by the graves of hundreds of people, anyone visiting carrying a somber expression or crying outright. Faraway Cemetery was worse. This is where Sunny was.
He hadn’t been to church for any other reason than to visit him, just… being close hurt. So close, yet impossible to reach ever again.
The old wooden doors of the church creaked shut behind him, landing shut with a soft thump. Looking around, he didn’t see Aubrey’s bright pink or Basil’s blond hair, so he started over towards their meeting point.
That’s when he saw something unexpected.
There was a boy, about his age, lying in the grass directly before Sunny’s gravestone. He was wearing a suit, dark grey in color, and he had a scar over his right eye.
His right eye…
It had to be a coincidence.
Still, whoever it was would need help.
“Hey… Hey!” Kel said, putting a hand on their shoulder and trying to shake them awake. “Are you alright?”
They weren’t responsive. Kel looked around, a mixture of worried and confused. Kel reached his arms under the stranger’s shoulders, pulling him up out of the grass. Setting him on the bench, Kel looked him over more thoroughly. Black hair, asian descent, an oh so familiar scar on the back of his hand…
It was like Sunny had been raised from the dead in front of him.
“Come on… wake up…” Kel muttered, trying to shake them awake once more in vain.
“Kel? What the hell are you doing?” Aubrey said, vaulting the fence behind him, “I never took you as the type to… What the fuck?”
“He looks like… him, right?”
“Yeah.” Aubrey nodded, crouching down next to Kel. “Is… he homeless? That has to be it, right?”
“Why here though? I… I found him at the meet spot.” Kel whispered, pointing with his head towards the end of the cemetery with Sunny’s headstone.
“It… It has to just be a coincidence. No matter how much it looks like him. Is he even alive?”
“He’s breathing, so…”
The creak of the doors behind them signalled Basil’s arrival. A white tulip was sticking out of the pocket of his shirt, contrasting the dyed black of his hair. His head tilted in confusion, and then concern as he ran over.
“Sunny?!” He yelled, cupping the figure’s face in his hands.
“No, this… it… Just trust me, okay?”
“Basil, I trust you and all… but Sunny’s dead. This can’t be him.”
“I’m… dead?” Sunny yawned, his eyes squinting as he adjusted to the morning sun.
All three of them jumped and yelped in unison, tumbling into the grass.
“God, he fucking sounds like Sunny too…” Aubrey cringed, getting up on her feet, “Hey, homeless guy, what’s your name?”
“I’m not homeless…?”
“Uh huh, then why are you sleeping in a cemetery?”
“I…” Sunny whispered, taking in their surroundings. Warm colored leaves floated above him in the trees, many having scattered on the ground already in various states of browning. “S-Sunny. Who’re you?”
“Bullshit!” Aubrey yelled, pulling him up by the ratty hoodie that was on his body, “Who the fuck do you think you are?!” Sunny’s left eye widened in fear, his right squeezed shut.
“Aubrey, put him down!” Kel ordered, “What’s wrong with you?!”
“Aubrey…?” Sunny whispered, “You… is… is Mari’s purple?”
Aubrey dropped him in surprise, taken aback.
“How… do you know about Mari?”
“How wouldn’t I?” Sunny said, “She’s my sister.”
“Oh god… is this like… a universe crossover?”
“This isn’t a comic book Kel, I… doubt it.” Basil muttered, “But it’s… It’s too much to be a coincidence though, right?”
“Wait… Why is Basil’s hair black?”
“Gah!” he yelped, “He recognizes me too!”
Sunny closed his still open eye, looking lost in thought.
“Here, I’ll ask you something, what’s the current date?”
“And the year?”
Aubrey’s fist tightened instinctively.
“But that can’t be right… the… the recital would be today. And… I swear I saw you dye your…” Sunny muttered to himself, “I… don’t feel good.”
“Sunny, it’s… not the nineties anymore. It’s 2003… you’ve been dead for five years.”
Mari woke up in a cold sweat.
It was Sunny again.
When she tried to get away from him…
“Sunny, stop it!”
“No, no no no!”
“ Sunny...? Get up… Get up! ”
It made her sick.
He should have been the one who survived that night, if anything. It was her fault that happened anyways, her fault she just kept pushing him until he tried to push back.
It was what she deserved.
6:47 in the evening.
The sun was beginning to set, taunting her out of bed as she rose for her nocturnal sleeping pattern. The phone blinked with a red light on her side table, but she could listen to the messages later.
The mirror. The thing she feared the most in the apartment, and in general. No matter where she went, she’d be faced with a monster, a monster who killed a ray of sunshine.
Her own sunshine.
“Mari, you’re… you’re twenty. You can handle this. You… You can handle this. Everything is going to be okay…”
With a sigh, she turned on the water and washed her face. The cool water rinsed away the anxious sweat of the moments prior, at least on that part of her body.
Another part of a ritual she repeated daily just to make sure she kept up with appearances. Besides… hygiene was always helpful.
Living alone was always painful. Hero… no, he wanted her to call him Henry. Even after a year, it still didn’t… click. Henry didn’t want to be near her, so… having even a roommate was out of the question.
Mari removed her pajamas, tossing them aside as she stepped into the shower and turned the water on, cold water immediately blasting onto her body.
Water was calming, cold in general was calming to her nowadays. It let her muscles relax, which was difficult with how on edge she had been all this time. Not undeservedly, she always reminded herself of that part, but the thought never brought her any comfort.
After stopping the water, Mari stepped out and dried her purple hair. Leaving to her dresser, she pulled out brightly colored clothes and slowly dried and clothed herself. She felt happier in bright things, it… helped her almost forget him sometimes.
Something black was out of the question. Dark grey was pushing it, and navy blue just made her sob. It had been his favorite after all, it reminded him of the night sky.
Mari sighed, staring at the blinking light once again. It wasn’t like it was a crime… by all intents and purposes it was technically self defense, but…
He was twelve.
Why… Why did she have to try to frame it?
Stabbing his dead body…
That’s when an accident became a murder.
“Shut the hell up, me.” Mari groaned, walking over and picking up the phone.
“Hey Mari, it’s… It’s Henry. Kel didn’t have your number and he uh… he wanted me to pass a message.” Hero’s voice said, “It’s… sigh , It’s about Sunny. He… said a lot of stuff that just… went over my head. He made it sound like he was… he was alive or something. I… I know I should have just given him your number, but… I wanted to talk to you too. I think… You’re… well, you were a good friend, I don’t know how you feel in that regard now. Just… call me back. Please.”
Mari slapped the phone back into the receiver, exhaling deeply. “Hero...“
She’d wanted the chance to speak to him again, but… it didn’t mean she was ready for it.
What… What was the worst that could happen? She’d already assumed for so long that he hated her guts after everything, but…
Mari picked the phone back up, dialing a number she’d tied close to her heart.
Sunny wolfed down every slice handed to him with an inhuman hunger he never had in his first life, hardly stopping to take a breath between large bites.
“Dude, calm down, it’s not going to vanish on you.” Kel said, patting Sunny on the back.
“Might…” Sunny said, breathing deeply as he finally let himself take in oxygen.
“It won’t. If someone tries to steal it from you I’ll break their damn fingers.” Aubrey said, “That’s a promise.”
“Mmm… Your hair is nice like that…” Sunny said, looking between Aubrey and Basil.
“Oh, uh… Thanks Sunny…” Basil said with a blush. Aubrey silently looked to the side, her face becoming a similar color to her pink hair.
“That easy to fluster you two, eh?” Kel grinned, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Yet.”
“Shut up, Kel.”
“Tell who…?” Sunny asked, taking a sip of water.
“Oh jeez, you’ve missed out on so much, Sunny!”
“I… I wanna see Mari.” Sunny said, the tension in the air immediately spiking as they all went silent and their faces dropped. “Is there something wrong?”
“Mari told us what happened, Sunny.” Basil said.
“Told you… what?”
“She killed you, Sunny. Made it look like a suicide.”
“But I’m… alive…” Sunny said, looking over his body.
“Did it ever occur to you that you’re… missing an eye?”
“No, it’s still there.” Sunny said, opening his eyelid to reveal his damaged eye. It was… glassy. Not a fake eye, but certainly not a healthy one. “It feels weird is all… so I’ve been keeping it closed.”
“You… can see out of it fine?”
“That’s not very reassuring, you… should probably get to a hospital.”
“And how is he going to pay for that, huh Kel?”
“Your parents moved, Sunny. So did Mari and Hero.”
“That’s... actually what I went in my house to deal with. I called Hero.” Kel sighed.
“Did he pick up?”
“No, I had to leave a message.”
“Did you just forget how we just mentioned she killed you , Sunny?” Aubrey interjected.
“And I’m alive now, I want to see her.”
“Quit being a child.”
“Aubrey!” Basil interjected, “He’s been dead since he was twelve!”
“All that about not acting like a child and you forgot that for all intents and purposes he may as well be twelve.” Kel said smugly.
“That’s not true.” Sunny pouted, “I had to have been like… somewhat alive. I remember some things that… I’m assuming happened while I was… er… not here. Like Aubrey’s hair! Or… you guys were all crying somewhere. And uh… Kel won a trophy?”
“Oh my god, you were there as a ghost to see Kel win a hot dog eating trophy…” Aubrey groaned.
“I vomited that day...” Kel said fondly, “It was absolutely worth it.”
“Kel, I think that’s… a bit much…” Basil laughed, “Er… Sunny… Would you like to sleep at my place? Well… actually, Kel, is Hero’s bed still at your place?”
“Yeah, he has a bed at his dorm. It’s probably still sitting there perfectly made from when he last visited,” Kel hummed, pausing to drink more soda,
“If he’s sleeping over, we all are.” Aubrey said, “End of.”
“What, you wanna be at my place now?”
“Shut up, Kel.” she repeated, the word flowing as though it had been repeated thousands of times.
“It’s… It’s good to be all together like this,” Basil said, lightly smiling, “We all missed you Sunny.”
“Yeah! It feels great to have my best friend back!”
“I would have hoped you would have made a new best friend in the last few years.” Sunny deadpanned.
“Yeah, but… not like I'd ever call someone else that…” Kel murmured, his expression dropping for only a moment, “Besides, you’re back now, so the title is returned!”
“A sleepover sounds like… like old times.” Sunny whispered, seemingly lost in thought.
“Wonder how ma and dad will take the news…” Kel wondered, “Would they think you’re a zombie or a demon?”
“I don’t hunger for brains or souls, so…”
“Yeah, but if you mention that it sounds suspicious!”
“I’ll just say I want her cooking again…”
“That’s a good idea, but we’ve already eaten dinner…”
“Breakfast. Besides, I… might end up with you guys a bit longer anyways,” Sunny said, “It’s… not like mom and dad would want me around again.”
“Don’t say things like that, of course they would!” Basil interjected, “They were always around when you were little!”
“Yeah, except of the four of us present here, only one of us still has our actual family around.” Aubrey said, “Polly doesn’t count.”
“My caretaker. With how old grandma is, she needs help to keep up with… just about everything.” Basil sighed, “She… hasn’t been well recently either.”
“And your asshole parents still don’t even try to come back and help.” Aubrey said, “Dickbags.”
“They’re… paying for her treatment. That’s all they’re able to do.”
“I’ll keep telling you Basil, it’s just all they’re willing to.”
“I know, and you’re-”
“We should go somewhere else before we go on further.” Kel interjected, “It’s… starting to empty out.”
“I guess you’re right, for once.”
“Now that’s just rude!”
“Uh… Hey, Mari…” Henry murmured, “I didn’t expect you to actually call me back.”
“Mmm,” she hummed, hand shaking from the simple act of listening to him, “Why are you trying to reach me again?”
“I was being serious in that voicemail. I tried to call back but Kel wasn’t home to explain what he meant. Everything I know is what I told you.”
“And how can I trust you?”
“That’s r- Mmm. Look Mari, I know we aren’t… aren’t a thing anymore, but this isn’t a prank, at least not from me. Maybe Kel’s just trying to screw with us but…”
“Henry, you said that you didn’t want to speak to me again, ever again… so why now? I’d have rather spoken to Kel, you should have just given him my number.” Mari said, months of misery bleeding through her voice.
“Because I was being fucking stupid Mari, okay? Look, I just… I couldn’t do it. Not then, not after everything. I don’t know who you are now, and… I wasn’t ready to be who I am now, but that… isn’t the point I guess. I just… I miss you, that’s part of it. Even just being friends would be better than… whatever this is.”
“Just… even if you’re angry at me, which you should be, just… hear Kel out. That’s all that really matters, I guess.”
Mari stood in silence in her slowly darkening room, pausing on what to say.
“If… If I go to Faraway again… would you meet me there at our special place?”
“When are you going?”