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a thousand arms to hold you (but you won't reach for any of them)

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   Water.

There was water everywhere. It was the first thing Shintaro noticed. In his mouth. Blurring his vision. Pressing down against his chest, dragging him down down down like a leaden weight.

He was so tired. So, so tired.

So he let himself drown.

 

 

62.

 

   The alarm was ringing- or, wait. It wasn’t the alarm. Just Ene, who was grinning dazzlingly at Shintaro from behind her screen while shouting at him to get up.

The clock read 12:32. Changed to 12:33.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Shintaro circled his knees with his arms and turned on his other side, away from the clock. Ene kept on blabbering.

He ignored her and slept through his sixty-second route.

(Although he wasn’t really sleeping; that would mean facing Ayano in his dreamscape and telling her how he just couldn’t do this anymore . So he just blankly stared at the wall, his face expressionless even when Ene announced him that there’d been a terrorist attack at the mall. Momo had been there, but escaped unscathed.)

However, he knew it did not matter.

None of this mattered.

 

 

63.

 

   Why can’t I ever catch a fucking break, mentally hissed Shintaro as he noticed the soaked keyboard. Ene rambled, apologizing profusely; none of that mattered. His keyboard was utterly ruined.

A nagging thought told him that there was something about this, something he was missing, some vague and nebulous sense of deja-vu that he was neglecting.

But he pushed it away.

He had more pressing matters at hand- such as the imminent visit outside he had no choice but make, if he wanted to buy a new keyboard. And buy one he had to. There was no doubt about that; he wouldn’t survive a day without it.

And so, unbeknownst to him, he got pulled into the same old whirlpool, with a strangely familiar girl feeding him bite-sized pieces of information that he couldn’t help but retch back up as he got hit by the whole familiarity of it all. 

There was something going on here.

Something else than the current screaming- and even that seemed familiar somehow, although that was the last thing on his mind as he lunged for Momo, pushing her out of the bullet’s trajectory.

Cold pain flared and a lightbulb flashed in his mind at the same time another, more vital, light went out.

Ah, this has happened before.

 

 

64.

 

   The ground was wet and damp beneath his pants’ material; it squelched unpleasantly as he shifted his weight from one knee to another. Still, the tombstone before him remained silent and cold. Still, the cicadas cried around him; loud flares of life in the four weeks they lived for.

This was all so amusing. So very ironically amusing.

“Why are you smiling?” came a fakely cheery voice from behind Shintaro all of a sudden. However, he wasn’t startled.

He was unsure whether he could be startled anymore.

“Just thinking about something,” he vaguely replied, ignoring the hatred he’d sensed, underlying in Kano’s voice. He stood up, not bothering with the mud caking his jeans.

“Hm,” hummed the blond. There was a sarcastic and very possibly mean remark sitting on the tip of his tongue, Shintaro could tell; but he swallowed it and stepped closer to Ayano’s grave- his eyes flicked to the side, glancing at Shintaro, who belatedly realized Kano was waiting for him to leave.

“Do you want me to tell her anything?” It was out before he could stop it, and Shintaro was seriously debating burying himself right there and then- he would soon be dead from Kano’s glare anyway. “I mean, uh, she’s- Ayano is my ability.”

He was pretty sure there was only one other Kano who knew this particular detail- the first one, back when Shintaro was first discovering the ability. 

(and he hadn’t been able to tell that Kano truly, absolutely and completely despised him)

Kano, this Kano, route sixty-five Kano, was caught somewhere between glaring at Shintaro, screaming at Shintaro, punching Shintaro, ignoring Shintaro, or falling back onto his usual cheerful charade.

Understanding his own utter inadequacy, Shintaro rapidly turned on his heel before he could receive an answer; and hurried away, slipping on the mud before regaining his balance and increasing his pace.

Turns out he really was useless.

The good (bad) part about it was that he had an eternity to change that.

 

And an eternity he’d probably need.