Ah, it was perfect. An ideal form for a... rather disposable timeline.
He examined the form of his new hands and arms, from the base of his shoulder to the tips of his fingers. The new body was just as he had imagined, just like that of a normal human's but with all the strength that Awakening Eyes (what was his name again?) held. Truthfully, after so many timelines of recreating the dead boy's ideal body, making another one for himself was hardly any trouble. Maybe he should've tried it in other previous loops, after all, it certainly would've come in handy.
Though the deceiver said he looked "creepy and suspicious as ever" and that his "taste in clothing really sucked", he believed that everything about his appearance was perfectly fine. True, maybe the red-eyes were a bit strange, and supposedly having his dark hair grown so long and styled in such a way wasn't as customary anymore, but it fit in well enough. It was a satisfying look, and the deceiver had even begrudgingly said that it seemed normal enough (though it was probably just to get him to stop bugging him), so it clearly didn't require change.
...But that was all beside the point. After all, there were... bigger matters to tackle, and there were still things to be done for this loop. An experiment, for lack of a better word.
"I believe that you understand the plan by now," the snake started, staring down at the blond before him.
The shorter nodded with clear reluctance on his face.
"Well?" the taller questioned, raising an eyebrow. "Isn't this the part where you describe it back to me in detail? Or are you past that this time around?"
Confusion flashed in the boy's cat-like eyes, then vanished in an instant.
"I saw you during one of my walks and noticed your red eyes," he said quietly, not quite looking at him. "I asked you about them and it turned out that you have the power to clear Eye Abilities."
"Good enough," the snake dismissed. "Though I expect you to do a better acting job than that when we're at your little hideout. It's what you're good at, right?"
The taunt remained without response as the two made their way out of the school.
- - -
God, this was so fucked up. No matter how many times he told himself that their demise was inevitable, no matter how many times he told himself that this despicable action was just another one to add to the pile of shit he'd done, he couldn't shake off the awful feeling eating away at him. Yeah, he'd betrayed his family before and done some horrible things for the snake, but now he was just leading their future murderer straight to them.
Never in his life had he felt so sick seeing that apartment coming into view.
Under his illusion, his hand trembled, hovering over the door.
"You know what to do," the snake hissed behind him.
With probably a little too much force, the door was flung open to reveal the rest of the Mekakushi Dan relaxing and lounging around the room. Kido and Seto, who had been chatting at the dinner table, stole quick glances at him. As Kano stepped through the doorway, he noticed a few additional pairs of eyes directed his way.
Lost, he stood dumbfounded at the door until felt the other's elbow jab him on the back from behind. With hesitance, he placed a smile on his face and threw his arms out.
"Kido, Seto!" the blond announced out, drawing all attention to him. "I have great news for you! We have a new recruit who's willing to join the Dan!"
The two sibling's eyes widened a fraction as they stood from their seats to face him.
"And you're sure you didn't just accidentally rope in some poor random guy like last time?" Kido raised her eyebrow as she eyed the liar's face. "Do you even remember how much work it took to convince him not to call the police?"
"Yeah, yeah," Kano chuckled nervously as he recalled the incident, putting up his hands in defense. "I still run into him on my walks every now and then, and it's pretty awkward. But I made sure that this guy actually has Eye Abilities!"
Though he was almost convinced by then that he had been rooted to the ground, he managed to step aside to reveal the dark-haired behind him.
"Welcoming member number ten!" he called the other out.
Kido step forward first to greet the other.
"I'm sure that, if Kano wasn't being an idiot, you've been told about the importance of your red eyes?" the girl asked, the trace of a smile on her lips.
Looking eager, the snake nodded and grinned down at the three siblings.
"Well, you see, the reason you were brought here," Seto stepped up, examining the taller with a welcoming expression. "is because-"
"Uh-huh, you gather the people with her eyes here into your hideout," the snake finished for him.
When Kano glanced at his younger siblings, he noticed Kido muttering "...her?".
Seto, dumbfounded, rubbed the back of his neck as he continued. "Uh, well, yeah. You're welcome to come and stay here anytime, erm... what's your name?"
Kano felt himself freeze, though it was such a simple question. They hadn't really figured that out. Everything else had been planned and accounted for, and yet-
"Saeru Hebi," the snake drew out slowly.
"Ah, we're glad to have you here with us, Saeru!" the blond jumped in, feeling he should probably make himself more involved. "You get to be member number ten! I must say, it's really starting to get crowded in here, perhaps my time has finally come to move out and let the newbies take over!"
"Don't be ridiculous," Kido sighed, before turning back to... Saeru. "Anyway, are you hungry? We were just about to eat dinner, and the food's almost done. You can stay as long as you want."
With an odd look on his face, the- Saeru nodded, then let a cheery grin cast down at all the others.
As everyone made their way to the kitchen, a few greetings and welcomes were directed to the murderer.
"And where do you think you're going?" a suspicious voice, Kido's voice, sounded behind him as he turned away. "You can't just recruit a new person and disappear out to God knows where, Kano. Come on, let's eat dinner together for once."
His legs shook, and he was unsure of how much longer they would be able to support his weight, but he laughed anyway.
"Just gotta wash up first," he excused himself, never turning to her. "I had a pretty nasty run with some mud by the sidewalk. I guess I should've watched my step, haha."
Yeah, he deserved a mental scolding for making up that weak of an excuse.
Her eyes didn't leave his direction until he closed the bathroom door behind him.
Now he just had to figure out how to hold on for the rest of the night.
- - -
"Dammit, you can't just take up the entire couch, Kano," the focuser grumbled at the blond as he squeezed himself into the remaining space he could.
"Sorry, but I just happened to call dibs," the blond shrugged in response, picking at his dinner.
"On the entire couch?!" the boy retorted. "That's hardly fair, there's not enough room for you to just stretch your feet wherever you want! Just sit like a normal person."
"I can say for the record that you didn't, Kano," the liar's brother appeared by his side, shaking his head. "Come on, let everyone have somewhere to sit."
The snake observed the chaos within the apartment subconsciously.
A voice yelled from across the room.
"Turn off the TV already!" a girl's voice hollered, directed at the red-wearing teen who was seated in front of the TV.
The antisocial human and the virus had previously been invested in a round of some videogame that the snake couldn't put a name to. Supposedly, the two had some rivalry that he was unaware of, and had been at each other for weeks, demanding rematch upon rematch.
It had gotten rather competitive between the two, and the display had even attracted a few stray members to watch the game. Though he knew nothing about any of the rules or mechanics, the snake even found himself somewhat captivated by the clash of skills and confident words.
Unfortunately for the boy, though, when dinner had been called, the cyber girl had stopped the game and refused to let it resume until he joined the others.
"B-But Ene-" the pathetic teen began.
The program in question pouted as she seated herself on the various menus littering the screen. "Master, I will not allow you to continue until you eat dinner."
"You're literally the one who proposed a rematch and said 'no breaks!'" he yelled back at the screen.
"No excuses!" the troublesome girl crossed her arms defiantly. "Go eat what Kido made for you."
Knowing that there was no way to counter, the raven-haired male dejectedly walked away, muttering a small "fine" as he went.
The snake honestly wasn't sure what he was expecting when he came up with the idea to come here. He expected nothing more than dull, meaningless events that could be forgotten in an instant.
And honestly... this was close enough to just that. All this was was a mess of boring, meaningless interactions that all faded into a white noise of disappearing memories. There was simply no charm to be found when he saw all the children talk about unimportant topics and complete worthless tasks.
"Oi, uh, you said you were hungry, right?" a monotonous voice appeared by his side.
When he turned, he found it out to be the "leader" of this silly organization. In her hands was a plate of food that, in all honesty, looked rather enticing. Knowing he couldn't exactly just refuse (for obvious reasons), the snake took it, throwing out a small nod of at least semi-genuine appreciation.
"You know, uh, Saeru, if you ever need anything just tell me, alright?" the girl said unsteadily. "I know that when Momo came here, things started out kinda rough. So if you ever have trouble with anything, just ask, 'kay?"
The small, lopsided shifts in the concealer's expression and overall genuineness with her actions was, admittedly, somewhat welcoming. Though her trust was clearly misplaced, and the quick friendliness was... definitely more than what he had expected, the snake found it nice all the same.
"I appreciate the consideration," Saeru responded, eyeing the food before him. "If there's ever a problem, I'll make sure to tell you... whatever your name is."
"Kido," she said, casting an awkward trace of a smile. "You'll get everyone's names down eventually, don't worry Saeru."
Kido was too naive for her own good.
Honestly, everyone had bigger things to worry about than this.
"Well it's not like we're going to make him sleep outside," the conceal- Kido said with exasperation.
"Oh, but we can!" Shuuya jumped in. "We can put him through special training to make sure he's worthy to be a member of the Mekakushi Dan! I vote that we make him live at that nearby alley for a month. Make him live off the minimal resources available to him to prove his strength."
"That's not fair," the orange haired girl replied, pouting. If he remembered correctly, she was an idol or something of the sort. "You didn't make me or Shintaro do that! And there's no way Mary or Hibiya had to go through that."
"Gee, it was just a suggestion," the blond laughed, sitting back on the couch. "Don't take it too personally, Kisaragi."
Absentmindedly, Saeru gazed out at the window. It was completely dark now, which means a considerable amount of time had passed. This was probably the longest time in a while that he's been with all these children while they were still breathing, which was a pretty entertaining thought.
"...Maybe he can sleep on the couch?" the girl suggested again, sparing a quick look at her brother next to her.
The teen rolled his eyes. "No. I have to sleep here, and I'm not sharing with the new guy. Who knows how loud he snores?"
"How rude," he started, feeling it would probably fit to contribute to the interaction. "I'm right here... er...." what was his name again?
"...Kenjirou?" he tried.
"Shintaro," the red wearing teen, apparently named Shintaro, replied with a hint of frustration. "It's Shintaro."
He couldn't really blame him for the irritation, that was the third time today if he recalled correctly.
"Well I'm not sharing with him," the small brown haired boy huffed, crossing his arms. "I'm perfectly fine sharing with just Konoha."
Ah, actually, that boy's name was Hibiya, right? He remembered a few timelines where that little girl, Hiyori, had screamed out his name before both of their untimely demises. Inwardly, he praised himself. See? He was capable of remembering at least some of these trivial details.
"Well...." the green-haired girl started again, only this time she didn't even bother continuing.
Was this how these brats usually solved problems? Because in the span of about five minutes this had gone absolutely nowhere. Finally, he came up with an idea.
"Ah, I know!" he said after a long period of silence. "What if I shared with Shuuya? He kindly invited me here, after all!"
Everyone stilled, and the deceiver cast him a dark look.
"...Shuuya?" the- er, Shintaro and the thief both asked.
...Did he do something wrong? That was the deceiver's name, right?
"Uh, it's Kano," the cat-eyed boy suddenly said as the thief and the concealer exchanged looks.
"Well I think it would work great!" smiling, the queen put her hands together as she spoke, relieving some of the tension in the room.
"Then it's settled," the green-wearing teen (...hmmmm... actually, he was pretty sure this one was Seto) nodded, sharing the same smile. "Saeru and Kano are sharing rooms."
The snake had almost never seen Shuuya look so openly mad before.
- - -
The moment the door closed, he tackled at the snake. Though he was pinned, or at least hopefully pinned, on his back, the dark-haired monster only cast a bored look.
"Why are you still here?" he found himself asking, glaring down at the other. "I could imagine you just killing all of us by now and being done with it."
Now he was sneering. "Or are you just gonna toy with us? Are you just making us wait until the day you finally decide to pull the trigger? Because no matter how much you try will never have a place here."
The red eyes sneered back, and a foot embedded itself in his chest, flinging him off with ease. Without warning, a hand grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back, pulling it until it hurt. The snake leaned over to look at him with an unimpressed face.
"Hm, so rude this time around, you've always been so nice in other times before," he said. "Don't get any wrong ideas, Shuuya. This is just an innocent little experiment for this loop. However, no matter how disposable this timeline is, it was still quite a hassle to get to this point. And I can't exactly just let you... mess everything up and ruin everyone else's time."
Kano winced as his arm was twisted even further.
"I know I need to keep an eye on you, Shuuya. since you're just so smart," venom was injected in the words as they were spoken. "But, maybe just to make this a little easier for the both of us, how about we strike a deal? Refrain from spilling any secrets and stay in your rightful place, and I'll give you the privilege of knowing when your little pretend family is going to meet its end. Step out of line, and the others won't even make it close to the original deadline. How does that sound?"
At the words, he froze. Heh, if he was just going to die he might as well know when, right? It wasn't like he had much of a choice.
"Tell me when we're all going to die and I'll consider keeping my mouth shut," he spat in a snide tone, though the words were bitter on his tongue.
"One month," the snake said, and he could basically hear the smirk contained in the words. "Thirty-one days. Make a good use of it, will you?"
That was way too short a time. He didn't even notice when his arm was released. Instead, he thought about everyone else: Kido, Seto, Mary, Momo, Ene, Hibiya, Konoha, hell, even Shintaro and how they were all unaware.
They had until August fifteenth.
- - -
Saeru looked boredly at the mess of blond hair before him. Alright, maybe making a human body with no need for rest or food sustenance wasn't the brightest idea. As it turns out, night is one of the most boring periods of time to exist. When he wasn't waiting to gain control of someone's body during the day, that is. All of a sudden, the day went from passing in the blink of an eye to moving like a snail through honey. And it was frustratingly boring.
There was simply nothing to do when nobody was awake, and, though this could've been a great opportunity, he couldn't allow himself to kill them all just yet.
The whole process of getting to this point was so tedious, and he'd rather not throw away this opening. Hell, the outcome hadn't even ended up being exactly ideal, since he hadn't really convinced the deceiver of much and the two of them were still on less than ideal terms. In other times, he had managed to let down the other's guard much more, with just a few carefully placed words. However, it appeared that, though he hated to admit it, his efforts had been lacking. But it's not like it was his fault that he wanted to get to the fun part quickly.
"Go to sleep already," the blond complained, effectively cutting off his train of thought.
"Eh?" he asked the other. "But this body doesn't exactly need rest, deceiver. I could probably go days without sleeping."
In fact, it probably wouldn't be wrong to say that he would never need sleep ever. With how immensely bored he was, he was reconsidering if infinite energy was completely worth it. Perhaps if he had time, he could rework these... issues.
"You could at least stop staring at me," the boy continued.
"Ah, but what else am I supposed to do, Shuuya?" Saeru leaned his head against the back in front of him, just to spite the other.
"Don't call me that..."
"What's so wrong with calling you by your name? I thought we were past this already."
"Just use Kano instead."
"I don't see the problem, Shuuya."
As he spoke, he pulled the liar in only closer. If he was going to have to tolerate his... behavior for these remaining days, he might as well squeeze as much annoyance out of him as possible. Seeing the deceiver on his last nerves always proved to be funny, anyway.
A considerable amount of time had passed, and it was long after Shuuya's breathing had evened out.
The snake, himself, was considering maybe sneaking around the apartment to find things to do, or maybe even indulge in one of those ridiculous "night-walks" like the liar always did. Those options, though, were hardly more productive than laying here, and they were all bland all the same.
Suddenly, his listless pondering was interrupted when a bright light beamed up from Shuuya's phone. Squinting, he clumsily reached for the device until he found himself face to face with a familiar face. The virus.
The artificial girl had a solemn expression on her face as she looked at him.
"What are you planning," she spoke like it was more of a statement than a question.
Sparing a glance at the deceiver, he was satisfied to find that the other was still asleep.
"Was my entrance really that obvious to you?" the snake muttered, only mildly surprised.
"Honestly, with such a creative name as Saeru Hebi and knowing your... you," she started, looking pointedly at him. "It was, at least for me, pretty clear who you were. Seriously, I feel sorry for whatever Kano had to go through to get you here. But, either way, that's not the point here. What are you planning?"
"What harm is there in telling you too?" he asked himself with a sigh. "I'll get straight to the point this time, Opening. As of now, you all have one month to enjoy this loop."
"And there's nothing we can do about it," she said dejectedly, looking down at her feet, or, lack there of, as she spoke.
"Wise, as always!" Saeru responded cheerily. "I knew those few times would've at least taught you something."
"Is there seriously no way to change any of this, though?" the program asked suddenly, hesitantly.
"That's such a trivial question if you already know the answer," he fired back with a sneer. "But I suppose if our dear deceiver here screws something up for me, I can cut it short, how's that?"
"You're awful," a common response that had lost some of its bite in the latest resets.
"As I've been told," simply, he grinned back.
Realizing that there was nothing more to gain, the cyber girl disappeared and the screen went dark again. Rolling his eyes, the snake nonchalantly dropped the liar's device over the edge of the bed, onto whatever random space was available on the ground. A sigh escaped him as he resumed staring at the dark mass in front of him. Doing this was probably as good as any other human activity, anyway.
It would hopefully get better by morning.
Just seven more hours to go....
30 days left.