[Where Sougo remembers]
Is it selfish?
The world -all of the worlds- that were lost, or perhaps, changed in the course of history, were reset, and reverted back to its proper timeline. Though, among the worlds, one in particular didn't remain the same.
Is that selfish?
Narrow it down to that one world instead of the others, it isn't the same as it was before but its not all different. Everyone remains the same, going through their everyday life as if nothing happened, as if there wasn't a war that was coming, as if there wasn't a warning of a war coming- as if the war didn't even happen. At the same time, the only changes that happened are the people who were responsible for the war.
Sougo reset their world. He rewrote the timeline. And he remembers it all; from the beginning to end. This time, however, he granted himself a wish to make sure everything seemed right.
It is selfish.
Walking back home from school -he still couldn't believe he's back here, he already graduated!- he glances in front of him, eying his friends.
His friends; Heure and Ora are here, skipping along the sidewalk and bickering playfully as Tsukuyomi tries to intervene, but are laughing instead as Geiz joins in to input his opinions. They're all completely oblivious to Sougo's inward thoughts to make all of this possible.
Heure and Ora are supposed to be dead. Heure being the first person Sougo failed at keeping safe. His last resort for help against Swartz was Sougo, and that didn't end well. The person who killed him is the very person who died next. Ora, as much as Sougo was enraged by her actions, can't blame her for doing so. She was manipulated too, and died mercilessly at the hands of Swartz, that bastard.
Tsukuyomi disappeared, but before that, she betrayed them. She pulled the 'Tricking your enemy by tricking your friends' which, naturally, did not go in her favor. She was erased from the timeline, right in front of Sougo, all because it was part of her plan. And he could barely do anything to stop it. It was insult to injury really, and what made it worse before the loss of Tsukuyomi; was the loss of Geiz.
His death, as much as it could, was the very reason Sougo chose the charted path he was avoiding; Oma Zi-O.
All in all, as it hurt to see everyone disappear, it hurt the most when Geiz was killed.
He couldn't take it anymore, that's what this is all about. Sougo couldn't let that go. Losing his friends for becoming a Demon King? Abandoning his life because of hatred and loneliness? It was fuel before, but it became downright fire when everything fell. His decision was clear. He wanted everything back. Everything except the reason it was all bad. The reason it all fell.
He chose his future; where he'll walk through his own course.
And he stumbles into Geiz, who turns around to face Sougo, looking curious and bothered. "Something feels familiar.." He begins, trailing off into silence.
Sougo raises his eyebrows in alarm, but Tsukuyomi confronts first, "Familiar how?"
Geiz thinks longly, trying his best to trigger some form of memory, "I don't- I don't know. It almost feels like.." His eyes wander around, landing upon Heure and Ora suddenly, "..like you two aren't even supposed to be with us?"
Their eyes widen, confused, and looking offended. "Excuse me?" Ora exclaims.
Geiz shakes his head, "No, no! I mean- I feel like, we weren't even meant to be friends! Like.. like you two did something that made us.. I don't know, dislike you. Which, in my opinion, you have-"
Tsukuyomi backhands him and he growls in pain at her.
Sougo could feel his anxiety pooling; palms becoming sweaty and his goosebumps rising. Geiz's mind must be a computer. It's amazing how he's able to figure out such a change in matter that fast. It's only been probably less than 24 hours; how long is Sougo able to keep this up?
"And I also feel like Tsukuyomi is supposed to dress in all white or something, like she's not from this world. Hell, I don't feel like I'm from this world." Geiz goes on, scratching his head aggressively, muttering I'm talking crazy aren't I.
Sougo gulps. It's now or never.
Geiz's eyes drift upon Sougo, who braces himself. "And you.. I feel like.. this whole 'King' phase of yours is like.. linked to all of us somehow. Every time you say you're destined to be a King, it just wracks something in my head like I.. knew you for someone else-"
"Maybe!" Sougo interrupts suddenly, stopping Geiz's claim effectively.
"M-Maybe were like that in.. another life? Like- another world.." He trails off, smiling a little widely. "Maybe.. there's another us out there, where we aren't friends. Maybe there's another world where the earth isn't experiencing peace. Maybe.. we're just all made up." Geiz and Tsukuyomi's eyes widen, while Heure and Ora perk a curious eyebrow.
Carefully, Sougo tries hard not to let out a waver or sob. They have no idea. If he told them now, what would happen then?
"Maybe somewhere, we are friends, and it.. doesn't end well.. Maybe in this universe, were just that lucky." He inhales a sharp breath, sucking up any sorrow that was almost revealed upon his face. "Well whatever!"
Geiz looked ready to protest, though Sougo grabs his hand and pulls him to his street direction, "Come on! My uncle wants to make dinner for everyone, and you all need to go with me!" He drags Geiz with him, while Tsukuyomi, Heure and Ora merely shrug and follow in suit.
The dreadful feeling of guilt still lays within Sougo.
"Their memories are like lost puzzles right now, you know." Sougo almost grumbles but holds back as he comes face to face with Woz, book clutched in arms and a face that makes Sougo want to puke his guilt out.
"Day after day, each memory will find its slot and fit in place. Soon, it'll piece everything together, albeit messily," Woz goes on, patting Sougo on the shoulder, "Are you sure you want that?"
Sougo gently brushes his hand off, sighing, "I'll do my best to help them. But.. if it gets worse.." He eyes Woz almost pleadingly.
Woz chuckles, "I will be there, my King." He bows and disappears. Leaving Sougo in the living room of the clock shop, a blank look in his eyes.
It's not a school day, but Geiz and Heure are over to hang out. And perhaps do some homework. But besides that, Heure asks a question unrelated to homework.
"What does 'Zi-O' mean?"
Sougo almost jumps, "W-What?" He stutters, eyes wide.
Heure cocks his head back, hands up in alarm, "What? Is it a bad word?"
Geiz scoffs, "I don't think so. I don't even know what it means. Tokiwa?"
The other teen only gulps subtly, calming himself, "Uh.. No, it's- it's not a bad word. I think it's uh.. a brand name of something?" He begins sweating a little when Heure eyes him suspiciously. "W-Why?"
Heure shrugs, "The name just popped in my head, like out of nowhere. It just sounds familiar. Like, really familiar." He goes back to his homework, like his question wasn't gonna bother Sougo at all.
"Huh.." Geiz utters, "Yeah.. it does." His eyebrows raise, looking genuinely curious. "I wonder what it means."
It means a terrible future. One without peace, and one without you guys.
"Tokiwa-kun, you look different."
Sougo turns at the voice of Tsukuyomi. She's dressed warmly in winter clothes, white and thick jacket over a dress that lengths her knees and black leggings fit comfortably with her white boots -she looks like herself- Sougo thought, though he notices her hair is dusted with leaves of autumn. Sougo smiles, ruffling her hair.
"You look snug." He remarks, "Easily cold?"
She nods, "I've never seen you wear an outfit like this before," she gestures to Sougo's choice of attire; he agrees, really. It's about time he changed his style. He's wearing jeans that aren't loose but aren't too tight either, with his normal timberland boots to warm his feet, and his upper half body is attired in a dark grey sweater, overlapped by a comfortable pastel pink winter jacket that makes him look.. teenage-ish, rather than the look his uncle's clothes used to display on him.
His smile doesn't fade, "It was time for something new. Plus, Geiz would've berated me again for 'lacking fashion'. As if." He scoffs playfully, making Tsukuyomi laugh.
"Is this fashion your fancy? Aren't loose clothes your thing?"
Sougo pauses, his smile now reduced to a sheepish one. "It's not so bad. I need to change too, right?"
Tsukuyomi doesn't answer, instead they both continue walking.
"I told you, by the way, to call me Sougo."
"I give up! This isn't working!" Ora drops the brownie mixture coated wooden spoon and lays on the ground of the clock shop's kitchen floor, looking dejected as she pouts.
Sougo sighs, wiping his hands on the apron he wore while dusting off some flour in his hair and pants, "Ora, we literally just started mixing."
Ora shakes her head, "It doesn't even look like what the recipe said it would! We're toast tomorrow!" She begins whining quietly, though Sougo finds this quite amusing. They have a baking project due tomorrow, and since they're partners and Ora doesn't know how to bake, they're here now.
Though, Ora apparently can't be sure of something clearly because she's not even trying. Yet.
Sougo dips his pinky in the mix, bringing it up to taste the batch and finding it quite sweet. It's not too bad. Though, they should lay off the flour for now, and some sugar. The place is going to be flooded before the gang gets here for a taste test.
"Ora, have a taste," Sougo calls her, grabbing a spoon to scoop some for her. He walks over and kneels before her, feeding the spoon batch. Her face contorts from despair to surprise. "Oh wow.. that's pretty good."
Sougo smiles happily, "See? Come on, let's make more!" He helps her get up and they set to work.
Hours later, around late afternoon, Junichiro is the first taste tester of their brownies and he looks quite pleased.
"Impressive, you two. Ora, I thought you didn't know how to bake?" He praises them happily.
Ora crosses her arms, a smirk playing her lips, "Maybe I'm just a natural at this."
Sougo rolls his eyes, but his smile doesn't reach that high.
Ora used to involuntarily help Junichiro with baking and cooking, even if it was just a short while.
It's snowing. Japan is basking in white and cold.
The gang are in a nearby park, basking themselves in the snow. Heure and Sougo are making snow angels, Tsukuyomi and Ora are shaping 3D forms with snow and Geiz is sitting silently beside the group as they slowly disperse. Some kids are around enjoying their time, some adults and tourists are having a walk. It's a perfect day.
Until Geiz spoke.
"You're hiding something."
Sougo's motions of making a snow angel stops. Geiz is looming over him now. The others are a little far away, having doing different activities and Sougo is quite thankful for that.
"What do you mean?"
Geiz stares at him, his eyes hard and blank. It scares Sougo.
"These days- no, months, you talked like you know us. Who we really are," Geiz grabs Sougo and lifts him up, making them see each other eye to eye. "It's like you're always one step ahead of us. Of me,"
Sougo's heart quickens it's pace. Has Geiz figured it out?
"How exactly do-"
The question never comes. Instead, a snowball does.
Geiz screeches and goes tumbling back, staggering a little dramatically while Sougo gawks in surprise. The other teen looks around, eyes focused like a hawk now and Sougo tries his best not to laugh.
"Who threw that?!" He yells out in the park, though no one pays him any mind.
Suddenly another snowball pelts his face, sending Geiz falling down and Sougo bursts out laughing. It doesn't last long as a sharp, cold smack against his neck sends him falling over too, toppling onto Geiz.
"Hey!" Sougo yelps as he lands on the black haired teen. He quickly tries to scan the area of where the snowball came from, but all he saw was the flash of a dark brown scarf that disappeared in the blink of an eye.
His mind still processing the suspect, instantly thinking of Woz, he didn't realize Geiz was staring at him, from below.
"You really do bother me sometimes." Geiz says, neither annoyed nor agitated. They're both still on the ground, and Sougo finally comes to his senses.
"O-Oh.. sorry.." He utters awkwardly, cheeks visibly highlighted red in the white blanketed area and is ready to rise when Geiz grabs hold of his wrist, letting them both stay like that for a moment.
Their eyes catch one another, Sougo sees there's a hint of red coating Geiz's cheeks too.
"Whoever threw that snowball was probably your friend, so tell me who it is."
Sougo pauses. "Eh?"
"Tell me who that asshole was before I target you instead."
"But I didn't do anything!"
"I don't even know who threw the snowballs! Besides, he hit me too!"
Geiz raises an eyebrow, "How'd you know it was a 'he'?"
Sougo freezes. He gulps, darting his eyes left and right and before he could answer, Geiz pushes his knees against Sougo's body, hard, and flips him over like his iconic flip he normally performs to knock Sougo off his feet..
Sougo screams as he goes plummeting to the ground behind Geiz, arching his back in striking pain despite the white pillows of snow to save his fall, and, while he doesn't admit defeat, he can't really do anything else but that.
Geiz goes near his ear and his husky voice sends chills down Sougo's spine.
"Surrender, Your Majesty."
It's almost New Years Eve, they're all together again.
Woz is here too- how?
"I'm a friend of Sougo's. We've been meeting each other frequently in the town." Woz's excuse does not go unnoticed by Sougo's friends, but Junichiro buys it just fine and goes to prepare another plate of food.
"We've never seen you before, so how exactly does Sougo always meet you?" Geiz asks later on over dinner. Sougo lightly kicks the teen's leg.
Woz finishes chewing, wiping his mouth with a napkin, "Why? Are you jealous?"
Geiz fumes but Ora frowns. "Jealous of Woz or Sougo?"
Geiz still fumes and the night becomes eventful.
Sougo has never been happier.
The night of the New Years Eve countdown is like a dream. Really, he doesn't want to wake up.
Like the entire timeline was disguised as a dream and a nightmare.
They're cheering happily in the living room when the clock strikes 12 on the news, marking it to be officially 2019.
Again. Everyone is staying over; mountains of pillows, futons and blankets on one side of the floor, ready to be arranged. However, Woz has to leave. Sougo walks him to the door, thanking him for coming over and expressing a goodbye.
"I'll still be right by your side, my King, don't worry. It's only a new year." Woz reassures Sougo before he walks out. Sougo already feels like he's missing something.
When Sougo comes back into the living room, he sees everyone has finished setting up their futons and claimed their places, while his uncle had retreated to his room and left the teenagers be.
Tsukuyomi and Ora chose the closest to the monitor screen, their turn to choose a movie to play. Heure had chosen the couch in the living room, now arranged next to the kitchen counter. Geiz had moved the dining table to the side for larger space, setting the spot big enough for him and Sougo.
The cold winter night is no match for the warmth they all provided. It's around 3am, Sougo remains awake. The others have long gone to sleep, as far as he knows. Heure is bundled up in a thick comforter Junichiro provided, looking smaller than he looks on the couch. The girls are sleeping properly and less messily than he thought they would. They've recently acquired a pair of matching sleeping masks and are in a deep sleep from it perhaps. And Geiz, somehow, moved from his supremely comfortably futon to Sougo's side, various limbs overlapping the other teen.
Sougo doesn't mind. What he does mind, is the tears threatening to fall and the sob meaning to escape.
It's why he's awake. Late night thoughts always haunt him. Whether he was alone or with someone -Geiz and Heure had slept over in his house several times before this- his thoughts always plagued his mind. It raises his anxiety again and again. The thoughts of his rewritten history. The thoughts of Swartz. The thoughts of his friends' deaths, one by one.
The thoughts of his future self.
He shudders, the cold being an addition. He shakes his head, tears streaming down his face now. He turns his body around, facing away from the teen beside him and shivers as he tries to sleep, finally.
But he's caught off guard and almost jumps at the limbs that surround him suddenly. Geiz's arm tugs at him, and his voice, barely a whisper, speaks, "You're crying."
Sougo couldn't hold back the sob that escapes, not as loud as he avoided it to be, but it's enough for Geiz to sit up. Sougo immediately shakes his head, still facing away from him, "No- don't. Go back to sl-"
Geiz pulls Sougo closer, warm and strong arms securing around the smaller teen protectively. They don't say anything. Sougo doesn't bother turning around, knowing Geiz's arms are enough for him to hold on to. Neither his tears stop falling, nor his chest stop aching. He continues crying softly, not letting out a peep once again while Geiz holds him.
He finally sleeps, under the comfort of the person he's crying about.
They don't talk about what happened. Sougo is somewhat relieved to avoid the subject, but with the look Geiz is giving him as they rearrange the living room back to its original design, Sougo knows Geiz would want answers someday.
First, however, he must deal with Tsukuyomi and Ora's insistent giggling from the sofa. Heure is giggling with them, looking very pleased as they look into Ora's phone.
Sougo becomes suspicious, and questions them.
They pause, still smiling, somewhat mischievously.
"Nothing. Nothing at all."
He later discovers, that it is in fact not nothing. Apparently those sneaky bastards stole a few pictures of Geiz cuddling Sougo that morning and are intending to use it as blackmail against them for 'the great or good'.
He's not entirely mad at them. In all honesty, Sougo actually wants the picture.
Though, he hopes Geiz won't be mad.
Two months come by quickly.
It's March, and Woz is at school now.
"So.. why now?" Sougo asks; they're having lunch together on the roof. Sougo hasn't told his friends just yet, about Woz he means. His friends are probably looking for him as he speaks.
He's still not ready to reveal anything.
Woz shrugs, munching the sandwich Junichiro made for his bento. "I got bored, I suppose. While a new story may be happening somewhere else, I'm missing out on yours, my Demon King."
Sougo chokes on his sushi.
"You're that guy who threw the snowball at me and Sougo, aren't you?" Geiz confronts him after he figures out why Woz is in their school uniform.
"It's 'Sougo and I' actually."
And we leave it at that
Around April is when Geiz has an athletics competition coming up. The whole gang are there to support him. Sougo cheering the loudest, it annoys the other viewers.
During the breaks in between, Sougo comes down from the audience to aid Geiz by handing him a bottle of water and some dumplings. He's smiling widely as Geiz huffs tiredly.
"Here." He hands him the goods. Geiz thanks him, engulfing the food and water almost immediately. Sougo smiles wider. His cheeks are starting to hurt.
"Do your best, yeah? Make me proud."
Geiz grins, fired up, "You're always proud, Your Majesty."
Soon enough, April is ending. Time is starting to become slower. He hopes that's a good thing.
It's been a long day. Like, super, mega, ultra long.
Sougo was really, really late to school for reasons he shall not be discussing. He had a Physics test which he totally butchered, didn't even have lunch as he spent his time studying and is super hungry now, barely saw his friends at all for the whole day, and apparently isn't able to walk with them home for the rest of it either.
And he's definitely not on the verge of crying. Nope.
The last time it was April -the April that he remembers- Another Rider was everywhere. It was exhausting, really, but he preferred that over this any day. This? This was just pathetic.
He feels so lonely.
He doesn't even know what date or day it is anymore. Is it Monday? No.. is it still even April?
This is just pathetic.
Arriving at the clock shop, Sougo dejectedly sets his bag down near the stairs, his stomach growling angrily for food. Sougo hushes it, feeling a migraine start to form as he walks across the shop. He just noticed how dark the place was. It's already dusk outside- was he at school that long? Was anyone even home?
"Uncle?" He calls out, feeling slightly intimidated by the eerily quiet surrounding. The clock shop went from a quiet, slow business of fixing anything except clocks to a bustling hangout for teenagers real quick in the span of a few months. So naturally, the place can be a home to four other teens besides himself and Woz, as well as Junichiro of course.
He'd half expected Geiz to jump out now and knock Sougo into another attempt to stop him from being a delusional idiot of being King, or even Ora and Heure scheming another prank that went down pretty successfully like last time. Hell, he even expects Woz to just come popping out of nowhere, announcing his presence with "Rejoice!" once again.
But none of that.
None at all.
Sougo's standing in front of the door to the living room. It's still so quiet. And dark. Where was everyone?
Fearing the worst, he quickly steps in, ready to shout a call to anyone when he's pelted in the face with a party popper exploding with streamers, and the lights flicker on, revealing the living room to be decorated with various party decors and the six closest people in his life now, standing before him, party poppers in hand and continuously exploding into his face.
It's April 28, 2019.
Ah, he totally forgot his own birthday.
If he said he wasn't trying to cry before, he's definitely not crying now.
Not when his uncle is pulling out a large ass cake from the kitchen, stacked to the brim with some Ride Watch designs -he bets Woz has something to do with that- not when Woz is actually here again, celebrating his birthday twice, being the best supporter he can be. Not when Tsukuyomi and Geiz are here too, celebrating with him again as well, albeit not remembering the first time. And especially not when they have more people to celebrate with; Heure and Ora, smiling cheerfully as they greet Sougo, but all of their features change to shock suddenly.
Yeah.. he's crying.
He sinks himself to the floor, covering his face with his arms as he tries stifling his little sobs. For Heaven's sake, he's officially 19 today! And he didn't even realize..
He cries harder.
Various pairs of arms wrap around him, securing him in a reassuring hold as he lets his tears out; lets the pain out from this god-awful day, his horrific haunting thoughts and his stupid stupid negative emotions that might've ruined everything but-
"Happy birthday, Sougo."
He cries, cries and cries, this time in all of the arms of the people he loved.
Even taking a bite of the cake made him want to cry again. Ora baked it with Junichiro.
They give him gifts; he loves gifts, but doesn't really receive a lot. Never received that much really. He got meaningful ones from everyone; Woz awarded him his signature scarf, something that he says will reassure Woz that Sougo can be reminded of him any time and can be summoned anytime. It definitely comforted Sougo more than it should've.
Tsukuyomi gave him a large, thick blanket that she somehow handmade herself?? It was super soft and practically made him on the verge of falling asleep had it not been for the need to finish receiving presents.
Meanwhile Heure gifted him a silver and pink flower crown, which he claimed was made in a craft store somewhere in town. Sougo loved it, he immediately out it on. Ora's cake was definitely enough for a present, but for some reason, she gave him the addition of a friendship bracelet they all pitched in to get.
She shows evidence by ordering everyone to lift their wrists, each revealing their own unique charm. Even Woz had one.
He could cry again, seriously.
What caught him by surprise was the pair of shoes. Newly bought, silver, with soft pink outlines and had two little crowns on each side.
"Saw you gawking at it the other day, scraped more than enough money to get it. Be thankful." Geiz remarks at the emotional birthday boy.
He gets tight hugs and a kiss on the cheek as a thank you.
Can't be helped that they both turned red for the longest time.
They're all binging a movie, everyone awake except for Junichiro, who's passed out on the sofa. The teenagers are all seated on the floor, bundled up and sharing warmth while watching some recent action movie that came out.
Sougo lays next to Geiz, who's arm is around the other, unconsciously rubbing his shoulder. It calms Sougo down from feeling any stupid thoughts.
He's at peace.
He's been at war with his thoughts for a while now; about whether this decision was the most selfish thing he's ever done.
Was it selfish?
Junichiro's snore is overlapped by the hushed criticism of Heure and Ora upon the movie, with Tsukuyomi trying to berate them. Woz iz munching on the popcorn and hogging it away from the rest, while Geiz silently rests his head on Sougo's shoulder.
Yeah. It's selfish.
But it's so much better than anything.
And he wouldn't trade this for another future.