The World Ends With You – Square Enix & Jupiter
Trium Verborum - Inevitable Farewell
Neku turned around to saw the Bito sibling waving their hands cheerily in front of Hachiko statue. He walked fast toward them and gestured a greeting by raising his hand. He's a changed person now, he could at least give them a smile.
"So you managed to get out too, Rhyme?" Neku looked at the younger sibling from her top to bottom. Yep, definitely Rhyme alright.
"Yes! I don't really remember how it works," Rhyme smiled. "All I know is I heard this pendant calling me with its sound."
"Yes. Whenever it swings, it reminds me with our adventure in there," Rhyme raised the pendant and swung it slowly. "A soft sound, yet strong, like our friendship that blooms there."
Beat moved his head closer to the bell to hear it while his sister raised her bell higher. Neku first hesitated as to put away his headphones and his comfort from listening to the music, but isn't he already get past through his trust issues? Well, it's just a beginning, though, and it's only for these guys―his new... friend.
Finally, he decided to put his hand at his headphones and let it hang on his neck. He motioned towards Rhyme's bell and put his hand around his right ear, trying to hear the mesmerizing sound Rhyme mentioned.
She's right. The sound coming from the slowly swinging bell sure made him remembered the moments they spent together in the Reaper's Game. It was so... tender, but loud enough to be heard. It makes a melody in Neku's ear, the first music in a while beside the music he's been hearing in his headphones all time. It's so nostalgic and successfully makes his lips curved into a little smile.
It reminds him of someone. Tender, yet loud.
"Beat gave this to me on my 10th birthday," Rhyme cheerily smiled as she put the bell on her hands. "I'll keep treasure it forever."
"For someone who sneezes like elephant you sure are a good big brother, Beat." Neku grinned at Beat―
―who was bawling his eyes out and hid them behind his black beanie.
Yeah... definitely strong guy.
Strong and dumb. Neku added internally as he put back his headphones on his head. However, seeing what the big brother had to do to restore his sister back as well holding back his sadness when she doesn't remember him back in the game...
It suits him so well.
"Bwaaaahh! I'm just... so...!"
The older sibling locked the emo boy's head with his arm. He hit Neku's head and ruffled his hair harshly to keep hiding his unable-to-resist tears.
"Whoa! What gives―?!"
"It's... It's just... Me and Rhyme..." Still resisting his inevitable flood of tears, he tries to keep talking. "All thanks to ya', yo, Phones...!"
"Like I said... d... don' make me sayyid again, yo!"
Rhyme just laughing sweetly watching them while the boys were stuck in fight of strangling-and-struggling. However, there was no frown upon their faces, just smiles and grin. Even from Neku himself.
Oh, how those three weeks had changed him.
A hand reached up to Neku's back and tapped it lightly. Beat and Rhyme looked over to see who is behind him. When the ginger-colored hair boy turned around with a smile to see the most anticipated person―
―it turned to a frown. A deep frown and loud scowl.
"Joshua, why the hell are you here..." Neku hit away the pale hand and stepped back from the hand's owner.
"What? I just want to meet my players who managed to pass the test..." Joshua glanced at Neku with a flirtatious smile plastered on his face. "And of course my favorite proxy over here."
"How cold," The Composer of Shibuya wiped his fake weeping. "I'm here because things have become havoc in the UG since you came."
"You're the one who shot me!" With a lower voice at the last part, Neku raised his clenched fist at Joshua.
"Let's not dwell on the past, dear,"
"Oh, Neku. If you keep act like that to me, I'm afraid I have to punish you."
"Yeah, how? Shoot me again?" Neku shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh, you wanna have it again?"
Startled by a new voice, they all turned to their left. There stood a cute girl wearing colorful lolita clothes and bear hoodie along with the reaper's wings on her back. Reminded by what happened last time with the little reaper, Neku couldn't help but took a step back. Nobody wants to be shot for the fourth time in a month.
"Yo, pixie chick, wha're ya' doin' here!" Beat shouted a more like accusation than question.
"Wtf, Coco is here to make more fun, of course!" The girl winked and showed her tongue with a raised peace sign. "Like, what's the cuteness of a peaceful world? Isn't it just soooo boring?"
Joshua walked towards Coco with clenched fists beside his hip.
"I've heard about you from Hanekoma," Joshua glared sharply at her with a serious look. "What do you intended from summoning that?"
That? Neku frowned at the last bit. What is he referring to?
"Like I said... Chaos! Fun! Cute things! Totally anything but boring!"
"Hee... and by doing that you get your interesting things?"
"Not yet..." Coco's grin turned to a smirk.
"But now, this will do!"
The Lolita reaper raised her hand and pointed at Neku. The targeted person was startled and taken back a bit.
What? What will she do?!
"What're ya' planin' to do to Phones?!" Beat quickly blocked Neku from her sight. "I'll kick ya' butt if ya' go near him, yo!"
"Beat, she is a girl," Rhyme tried to calm her brother down.
"I don' care, yo! Whoever messes with my friend will get a piece a' me!"
"That's so wrong in morality... but I agree with you."
"Rhyme?" Neku couldn't help but asked. Has her personality changed too?
"Beat told me everything, including your struggle in three weeks," Rhyme raised her fists. "We won't let you suffer again, of course."
"Bwaaaahh! Ssshh! Don't tell him I told 'chu, yo, Rhyme!"
Coco snickered when the Bito siblings were battering at each other. Joshua and Neku frowned deeper at her action. What is she planning?
"Well, duh, I already did it!" Coco cupped her face and start giggling. "Now this, like, totz will bring lots of fun!"
"What are you―"
"Like hell I'll tell you, poopypants," Coco bleeped and snapped her fingers. "Cya, loserz!"
The reaper girl disappeared at a blink, leaving the four friends stood there flabbergasted. Even Joshua. Neku himself couldn't register to his brain what just actually happened.
"Wha's just happen', yo? Real confused here." Beat turned around while rubbing the back of his head.
"I dunno. What about you, Joshua?" Neku glanced at the cream-colored hair boy who is in deep thought.
"... Unfortunately, I don't know what is she scheming either," Joshua put his hand in the pocket and went back to his deep thought. "I'm currently investigating it with Hanekoma, but we haven't found anything yet aside from the fact that she is one powerful reaper we've ever seen."
"More importantly, do you feel any different, Neku?" Rhyme turned to look at the boy in question.
Neku checked almost every part of his body and his clothes. No timer on his palm. No new messages in his flip-phone. No pins―the last time he had is when he got into the Expert Mode with Beat. No ridiculous clothes. Everyone is also acting normal.
"Nope. I don't think so."
"Hmm, she said she 'already did it', so what did she―"
Everyone turned around and saw a girl on their age standing where Coco had been before them. Rhyme is smiling, Beat is confused, Joshua is amused, and Neku is... indescribable.
He just stood there with a blank stare when Beat moved away to let him saw her. He could feel all his senses stopped for a minute. Those brown hair, big glasses, green outer with black shirt inside it, the stuffed cat-like animal still hugged in front of her chest, mint knee-length skirt with oak left patterns, and black stockings...
"Hi... guys?" The girl raised her right hand, while her left still hugging Mr. Mew.
"Shiki―" Beat and Rhyme's shout were cut by their surprise of someone's action.
Neku launched himself towards the girl―Shiki―and put his arm around her. Shiki was also taken back by his sudden action and tried to hide her deep blush. Her stuffed animal fell from her hands and was picked by Joshua who snickered at the view in front of him.
"Wha-wha-whaa... Neku! What are you doing? People are staring, you know!"
"Yo, Phones, I know how you miss 'er but, yo, even I won' do dat to Rhyme here."
"I also don't want to be hugged in public, Beat."
However, the ginger-haired boy didn't listen to their sayings and just hold Shiki, much tighter. Shiki could feel her chest were pressed against his which makes her blushed harder. His delicate breath touching her neck doesn't help either.
"Somebody is really eager to see someone," Joshua smirked while snapping some photos. "But even I didn't think it would be this bad."
"Y... yo, this is embarrassin', even fo' me..."
"W-why don't we sit on the bench?" Rhyme pointed at the bench in front of Hachiko statue.
"N-Neku, hear that? Come on, let's split and sit over there," Shiki tapped the hugger's back.
Without replying, Neku lifted her―still by hugging―and brought her to the bench. He spun around to Shiki's back without releasing his hug, making it like a hug from back.
He sat on the bench, automatically pulling Shiki down and put her in between his thighs, then continues to hug her while his head hanging beside her neck. His bangs cover most of his face. No one realizes the red shades that appeared on his eyes.
"Neku!" Shiki tried to call him out again.
Like being commanded by the calling, he give a peck to Shiki's right ear and bit it softly. Shiki jumped a bit at the physical contact―yeah, the hug is also physical, but... skin to skin?
She shivered when the soft lip continues to explore her ear. The others just could watch them with a mixed feeling. Really mixed and weird feelings.
"I... don't even know if this could be still considered as rated T," Joshua put his right hand in front of his mouth, with his left still snapping some photos of them.
"Bwaaaaahh! Rhyme, don' look, yo!" Beat tried to cover Rhyme's eyes with his hands.
"Beat, I'm not a ten years old anymore."
"Neku... please stop it, people are watching," Shiki tried to nudge him from the front.
The boy still didn't budge. He still gave little kisses in every part of her ear. Shiki's grip on her skirt became harder every time he did that.
"As much as I'm amused by this... scenario, I should head back to the UG and I could at least grant Miss Misaki her wish for the parting gift,"
Joshua walked towards them and tried to pull Neku's arm around Shiki's hip, yet he didn't budge a bit. Annoyed by his persistence at the impolite action, Joshua tried to pull harder. Rhyme―who was successfully released from her brother's grip―helped by pulling Shiki's arms.
"Neku, it's enough! You can still do this anytime. You're not bounded by the timer anymore," Joshua started to get irritated. "Release Miss Misaki at once."
"Who could think his grip is this strong?" Rhyme stopped pulling Shiki's arms and started to pull Neku's grip on her instead.
Beat who was really, really confused and panicked couldn't think of anything. He ruffled his hair and shouted indescribable words.
Followed by his instinct, he took a plastic cup near them and ran to find the nearest tap. After filled the cup with water, he quickly ran back and splashed it to Neku's face―Shiki also got some of it.
"What―Beat!" Shiki shouted a little bit at him.
"Sorry! Sorry! I can' think o' anythin' else, yo!"
"My hair is wet now..." Shiki tried to hold her tears. "I hate you, Neku! Release me now!"
"Urgh... what the hell?!"
They all turned their attention to the voice owner. Neku touched his hair just to find them wet because of Beat.
Realizing she's not locked any longer, Shiki released herself and ran behind Joshua. She couldn't care a bit about part of her hair that also became wet. Joshua gave her back the stuffed animal which Shiki hugged so tight after that.
Neku glanced around him and found Beat who was holding a plastic cup with some water left. Realizing who the culprit was, Neku glared at him.
"Beat, what the hell?!"
This is the first time they gathered back together, and this is what he got for saving them all?
Beat couldn't get any words out, even apologies. At that moment, Neku realized all his friends were staring at him. Uncomfortable by that, he continued.
"... What are you looking at?" Neku ruffled his hair to dry it. "What's with the weird stare?"
Rhyme, despite being the youngest, spoke up first. "Neku―"
"Neku, you idiot!"
Shiki shouted and ran away from them. Beat and Rhyme just watched her ran, while Joshua was deep in his thought. The shouted person was too confused to do anything either. Hell, he doesn't even understand what just happened.
"Wha―what did I do?!" Neku got up and took a step to chase Shiki―"Shiki, wait!"
―just to be stopped by Joshua.
"Josh, let go!" Neku struggled to get away from his grip.
Weird, before he couldn't even release Neku's grip on Shiki. Now, Neku couldn't even release himself from his grip?
"Shiki is acting strange!"
"You're the one acting strange, Neku!" Joshua raised his voice for the first time.
Startled by it, Neku decided to stop and slowly sat back on the bench. Beat, Rhyme, and Joshua were still surrounding him. Feeling suffocated and disappointed that Shiki just ran off like that, Neku decided to speak up after some minutes passed.
"Can somebody tell me what just happened?"
"Can YOU tell us what just happened?" Joshua countered. "I didn't think my game could affect someone's brain this bad, but now I doubt that."
"Maybe 'cause ya' shot 'im twice, yo?"
"I've shot some people back then and they're still fine."
"Of course," Joshua shrugged. "They had to be treated in the hospital, though. Most of them just go straight to the game."
"... You're sick." Neku chirped in.
"YOU are sick!" His three friends countered at him.
"Say dat to yo'self, yo!" Beat raised his clenched fist. "What were ya' thinkin' treatin' Shiki like dat, Phones!"
"Shiki must be so disappointed in you, Neku." Rhyme sighed.
"Acting towards her like that and pretend you don't remember it." Joshua shook his head.
"What? No! What the actual hell are you saying?" Neku gripped his headphones, wishing it would block all the noises. "I don't understand! All of it!"
The others stopped attacking him, but couldn't say any words either. Neku stared back at them and folded his hands in front of him.
"You... really didn't remember what happened earlier?" Rhyme finally decided to ask him.
"Remember what? Didn't we just met Shiki and went to sit on the bench?"
Silence. They all were deep in their own thoughts―except Neku. The one who was accused harshly earlier just could stare at them while gripping at his headphones, afraid of another attack of accusations.
"You... Phones, you..." Beat tried to explain the situation.
"What? I'm what?"
"Shiki, yo... you..."
"Spit it out, Beat!"
"You hugged Miss Misaki, Neku," Joshua finally explained it for him. "And won't let her go until Beat splashed you with water."