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and at the end of the day, all you have left is a fistful of used-up emotions and a future you've lost the strength to fight for

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'And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.'

Yusaku has spent a lifetime across the abyss. He has spent a lifetime staring into it. Looking for answers. Looking for truth. Looking for recovery. Looking for friendship. And as he got his answers and learned the truth, he finally started to figure out how to reach back. Let people in.

The abyss has been staring, too.

Yusaku knows there's no one down there actually looking back. It's just him. Always has been. Just him, lost in the darkness flowing out of it. Or, did it come from him? Did it matter? It doesn't matter now, he thinks. When he finally figured out how to reach out, someone was already reaching back. But now they can't. Yusaku doesn't even have the strength to look at the abyss, now. He's back at the beginning--no, he's fallen back even further than that.

Kusanagi is gone.

Kusanagi never should've been at risk in this fight.

Yusaku is so tired.

Hope? Justice? This is what Kusanagi wanted. It feels hollow to Yusaku now. Playmaker, a symbol for hope, a champion for justice. The people that surrounded Playmaker only ever seemed to get hurt, to be forced to sacrifice, to be sacrificed themselves. Even his shield, his partner. For what? For him? Surely he isn't worth that. Outside hacking and dueling, he has nothing else to offer them.

Yusaku is very tired of being Playmaker.

He was never supposed to be a hero. But here he is, and heroes lose, and lose, and lose. He's lost too much. He was fighting for Kusanagi. They were going to save Jin together. Yusaku can't do this alone. He can't do this without his partner. He doesn't want to. He doesn't want to fight anymore.

The abyss grows, and grows, and grows.

His body aches, and he's weighed down with exhaustion and emotion he thought he didn't know how to feel for a decade. There's other people in this fight, too. Soulburner and Revolver are still fighting. They're more than capable of winning this battle. It doesn't have to be Yusaku. He doesn't want it to be him, either. Let him fight. All he wants is to rest and mourn. The abyss can stare at him all it wants.

Kusanagi is gone.

Then, suddenly, it doesn't feel so dark and suffocatingly lonely where he is anymore. He can hear Kusanagi telling him to get up, move, do something at least. Kusanagi had a knack for helping to light a path towards the future. Yeah, that was right. Yusaku can't feel anything but pain and hurt and exhaustion, he doesn't want to keep going anymore, but he doesn't have a choice now. He has to face reality. Lightning and Bohman won't let him go down without a fight. And he owes it to Kusanagi to keep their promise. Even now he can hear Kusanagi remind him. Kusanagi wasn't completely gone yet. Yusaku is still here to carry on his will. They're partners.

...That sounded good. Yusaku wasn't sure how much of that was bullshit. But, really, keeping Kusanagi's promise is the only path he can take now.

Yusaku stares down the abyss.

He wakes up.

Soulburner is dueling Bohman now. He's fighting for Flame. He's fighting for Playmaker. Soulburner's hurting and grieving, too, he deserves better than this. Clearly it's been proven no one should stay by Playmaker's side. Soulburner souldn't be doing this for him; for his own reasons, yes, but for Yusaku's sake?

Yusaku desperately wants Soulburner to win. Yusaku desperately wants this to go differently, for the ending to change for once. Takeru has the capability. But Bohman just cruelly lets him think he has a chance before ripping away the illusion that luck was ever a factor.

Kusanagi is gone.

Now, Takeru is gone, too.

Yusaku doesn't even have the energy to grieve or o be angry. To feel anything. He's emotionally drained. It shouldn't have to be like this. He squeezes his hand into a fist. If there were any tears left he'd be crying again, but all that's left is emptiness and fatigue.

Ai keeps worrying about how Yusaku's doing. Even through everything else Ai worries. He shuts down Ai's protests and forces himself to move forward. How Yusaku is doing isn't what's important here.

The only thing that matters right now is keeping his promise. Otherwise, all the pain and sacrifices would be pointless. 

'And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.'

There's not much there for the abyss to see. Yusaku isn't afraid to admit he's broken.