The day Yashiro Gaku pushed his car into the small frozen farm lake was the day that he felt a connection dull. Something in his mind had broke, and he had fallen to his knees on the wet, tire-scorched ground, gasping like a fish out of water.
His leather-clad hands had gripped into the tawny fabric of his trenchcoat in anguish, and in that moment, wallowing in the dirty snow, Yashiro had been struck with an immense grief that he couldn't explain.
His mind had raced as he watched the front end of the car slowly and steadily sink forward into the icy water for what felt like forever to him.
By the time he had broken out of his trance, the cold had made his body wholly numb, and he couldn't feel the creak of his joints when he got up to start his trek back to the hockey stadium or the ache of his heart when he gave the car one last look.
It was a look that he thought was full of mirth at the thought of finally winning the game against the little flame he had extinguished that sat in the front passenger seat, tangled in the seatbelt he had tampered with, but, over the years, he realized that it wasn't quite what he had originally dreamt of.
It was a look that searched desperately for any sign of life, and when it had found nothing, it had twisted into a disappointed and deep-set frown. He had forced a smile afterwards, thinking one thing when he had left to try and make him feel better, “At least he died by my own hands. No one else deserves to do that to him besides me.”
He had destroyed his equal: the only one that was smart enough to plan his next move and foil it before it was executed.
There was nothing holding him back anymore, and yet when he had looked at the deserted desk the next day where Satoru Fujinuma had sat, he felt even more empty inside. The hole in his heart hadn't been filled by his death, but, instead, it had left an even bigger gap.
It put him on edge when he stumbled over the attendance, and he had seen the way Kenya Kobayashi and Kayo Hinazuki had looked at the desk as well. They were Satoru's best friends, one of them being his own planned victim that had been saved by the boy.
But when the call came later that day, he didn't know how to react at all. His conscience ripped in half when he heard Satoru's mother over the phone, overjoyed, “Satoru suffered from an accident last night, and we thought he was going to die, but he's alive. He's alive! He's in a coma, and they expect him to wake up soon! ”
He was still alive somehow, and it had sent cold shivers down his entire body, a strange feeling bursting in his chest of anger and relief.
Before then, he hadn't touched a pack of cigarettes in years, but by the end of the first year Satoru had been in his coma, empty cartons littered the back of his car, his house, and were even stuffed into the drawers of his new desk he had gotten when he followed his students to the middle school, where he had a perfect view of Kobayashi and Hinazuki parading around with their donation boxes to help with Satoru's medical bills.
He wasn't in the least worried about what would happen once Satoru woke up - if he would remember anything and have him arrested. No, he didn't care about that. He was anxious as to when Satoru would wake, if he ever would.
He remembers the night when Sachiko called him on his personal phone almost as clear as crystal, because he had felt his heart drop when he heard her miserable whimpers ring out between the words, “They're thinking we should pull the plug on him.”
All he could manage was to put on a stoic front to her, pushing aside any emotion deep within himself to lock away for when he heard the call disconnect, “You can convince them, I know you can. You can keep him alive, Sachiko.”
His fingers had trembled as he heard her gasp out into sobs, crying out for her own flesh and blood to be saved from the sweet release into a darker blackness he was in now.
She said she would try her best, and her best she did. He had accompanied her to the hospital where she had got down on her knees and grovelled at the feet of Satoru's doctors. They had looked at her with cold, glassy eyes, but Yashiro had given them an even impossibly colder look that dared them to pull the plug of Satoru's life support.
Needless to say, their pleas had worked, and Satoru was to be kept safe and sound until he woke, no matter how long it would take.
As days and months passed after that, his obsession grew so twisted that he found himself spending most of his free time sat beside Satoru's bed, watching and waiting for almost three years until he, himself, had felt the smallest twitch in Satoru's hand when it was clasped in his own.
He had looked up, and his dark eyes had met the ocean again. That perfect blue that dazzled in the bright lights that he had found himself watching while he was teaching Satoru all those years ago, searching for any hints to the boy's next move in foiling his plans. His heart had nearly leapt out of his chest and onto the pristine white sheets in front of him.
Everything seemed like a blur to him in the months that followed. They were full of therapy and more hospital visits as Satoru regained his vitality in small pieces. Slowly but surely, the boy put up a vigorous effort to get himself back together, yet he never recovered the memory of that one dreaded night, and Yashiro was more than grateful for it.