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Countdown to Halloween

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Neku knew that some things had changed. How could they not? And, after all, that was the Game’s *purpose*. To change the Players. To better them. So, *of course*, surviving the Game meant change for them all.

But some of them were probably not the kind intended.

Shiki and Beat hadn’t seem to notice, but Neku had. Shiki never went anywhere without Mr Mew. Beat could have been glued to his skateboard for all intent and purpose. Rhyme… Rhyme was mostly confused, truth be told. She didn’t remember as clearly as them.

And Neku hadn’t been caught by his friend so far. Key words: so far.

– You kept them? Shiki was asking him, slightly surprised.

She was talking about the pins on his bag. His player pin was not there. It was in his pocket, where he could reach for it and close his fist around it without anyone knowing. As if he could still scan with it. As if any of his pins could help him if… But nothing would happen. Wouldn’t it?

He shrugged.

– Yeah. I like them.

Shiki seemed thoughtful for a while, but she dropped the topic when she spotted Eri and waved at her the join them.

Neku sighed. He supposed they were not heavily traumatized only because the Game was *designed* to work around that kind of problem, but still. It would feel like an improvement to stop instinctively carrying weapons around.