A light flashed. The snake laughed and the sound echoed like a metronome dictating the unraveling of their despair.
Then a slash of darkness; but Shintaro blamed it on the rapidly decreasing amount of oxygen in his body. He wouldn’t be able to run for much longer. He was sure of it, and the sinister laugh behind him told him that his pursuer knew it too.
One moment, spots of darkness were hazily dancing across his vision; the next, they coalesced into heavy curtains that draped across his vision, rendering him blind.
The only thing he could hear was his own breathing- he’d stopped running, now only standing still and panting; waiting for the air to properly flood his lungs again and his vision to return once more.
For one single, blissful second, Shintaro could feel nothing. His whole body had been encased in numbness, as if immersed in an experimental pod; everything was faraway and distant. Except for a touch on his wrist.
Someone was holding his hand. Tenderly and supportively; Shintaro had no way to recognize who it was, but he took comfort from the contact.
Then came a flash of pain, rapidly increasing from a stab-like imaginary wound in his stomach to a flooding swarm of fiery wasps inside his blood, under his skin, behind his eyes, and oh god they were in his lungs now -
So Shintaro stood still, eyes closed.
There was a change taking place near him, he could sense it in the air, like a vague instinct; instinct because pure pain had engulfed him into something like numbness, until his only hope for the pain to subside was completely surrendering control of his body. He could no longer feel anything. He could no longer feel himself. Maybe the change was taking right next to him.
Maybe he was the one changing.
The ground was shaking under his feet.
Or maybe he was shaking- or maybe the gun which was suddenly in his hands. Which seemed to turn heavier by the second, every and each moment he fought the wasps inside his blood. No, not wasps- snakes now seemed nearer to the truth.
For he was almost under Clearing Eyes’ control.
He wouldn’t last long- he was sure of it.
His hands kept shaking and he felt his grip falter- one finger moved to the trigger and stopped there. Forcing his eyes open, the pain bringing tears to his eyes, he searched for Momo amongst the sea of terrified faces currently facing him.
For a single moment, their eyes found each other. Hers were damp from distress; his from pain.
Run, he mouthed before his grip faltered and slipped; gleefully, the snake took over, yet Clearing Eyes left Shintaro’s vision unobstructed.
A final method of hurt.
“Huh,” came out Shintaro’s voice, oddly distorted. He saw his hands move of their own accord; he stared at them. “Looks like I got the wrong body. So weak,” derisively chuckled the snake.
Kido suddenly remembered that they were supposed to run. Pulling Momo after her, they darted away. Shintaro watched them go from somewhere far away, finding some comfort in knowing that at least his sister would be fine for a while.
“I think I’ll choose another one,” decided the snake. His grip on the gun tightened.
Belatedly, Shintaro realized what that meant for him. Terror filled him and he futilely scrambled to regain control of his body.
The barrel was raised. Placed against Shintaro’s temple.
The trigger was breezily pulled and Shintaro was wiped out of existence once more.
Chapter 2: reprise
reprise. ayano POV.
The second time blackness engulfed Shintaro, he knew what he was supposed to do. Inside his mind, dressed up as his ability, Ayano smiled in grim anticipation; vital as she was, she couldn’t afford apprehension.
Yet, she couldn’t help but purse her lips in disgust as she watched Clearing Eyes slither its way inside Shintaro’s consciousness; just like last time, yet not exactly.
For now, they were ready for him.
Ayano patiently waited for the snake to coil tighter around Shintaro’s mind, its scales almost having managed to brush aside the teen’s control.
And when Clearing Eyes had already grinned in premature glee, she struck. Pushing in motion the part of the plan Shintaro knew nothing about, that she had kept away from him, well aware that he’d stop her; because no sacrifice was necessary, he said.
But Ayano knew he was wrong.
That was why she threw her consciousness forward, draping it over Clearing Eyes like a heavy blanket; smothering him as he struck her again and again in pure, primordial, rage. Pain had overtaken her long ago, yet she held on until she felt the snake’s attempts at escape weaken.
Until she felt her own consciousness fade from where it was tucked in around Clearing Eyes, suffocating him.
When Shintaro peered inside his mind to check on her progress, there was little left of it. She was almost gone. She was weak. She was-
Deaf to his pleas of Hold on, Ayano, I’m begging you-
She tiredly smiled at him again.
And then she let herself fall to her demise once more.
This time for good.