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I Won't Let Him

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One of the most important people in his life has always been his big sister, MARI.

That has never changed, not even after she died.

MARI has always been his role model. His personal hero. His greatest friend.

She was always perfect. Even in his dreams, he imagined her to be the perfect big sister that he always remembered her being.

Because of this, he had always been a bit soft towards her whenever she was around. Whether it be to ask him for help, to share chores, to discuss secrets and feelings, or to encourage him to do something he usually wouldn't think of doing before- OMORI would always find himself caving in and listening to whatever she says.

Maybe that was why OMORI stopped himself from waking up.

Hearing her desperate voice, pleading for him to stay with her just a little longer…To not leave her so soon, not after just being reunited together...

Whether she was real or not, there was no way OMORI could've denied her. He couldn't bear the thought of hurting her again.

Maybe he was crazy to listen to this possible delusion he crafted for himself. Maybe he was crazy for even thinking about leaving her at all.

Whatever the case may be, OMORI was persuaded to at least stick around just a little bit longer to see how things played out…

Which was why he was currently at the dinner table with his sister, absentmindedly poking at the fried tofu on his plate.

He hadn't even taken a bite yet. He didn't really have much of an appetite after what just happened earlier…

All he could really feel was… guilt.

Guilt for making MARI freak out so much to the point where she's become unhinged.

MARI sat right next to him, chair scooched up close by his side. They were almost touching shoulders from how close she was.

He wasn't sure if MARI had noticed, but her hands have been shaking the entire time since they started eating.

She had difficulties stabbing a fork into her tofu, oftentimes missing the mark by a few centimeters. Even so, she did her best to pretend that everything was completely fine as she finally caught a tofu and began chewing it.

He had never decided to use the knife to wake himself up while someone else was watching before. He didn't really expect someone from a dream to react so strongly at the sight of him almost attempting to stab himself.

Seeing how much her behavior had changed since he first got here, he… Well, he just feels stupid and guilty for putting an unnecessary burden on her now…

Seems no matter where he is or what he does, OMORI always seemed to screw up and make everything worse… Even in a perfect dream world…

Sigh… Worthless...

"SUNNY, you haven't taken a bite out of your tofu yet."

OMORI looked up to see MARI pointing at his dish.

He realized he had been playing around with his food for the past several minutes now. An honest habit. Lost in his own thoughts, he would often forget to eat.

Didn't help that he wasn't feeling that hungry either…

"Oh…" OMORI shook his head clear before standing up straight, "Sorry."

"Is the tofu not good?" MARI suddenly asked, before growing increasingly worried and erratic, "Is my cooking bad? Does it not look appetizing? Do you need me to redo it again?! Do you want to eat something else instead?!"

Before he could even answer a single question, MARI suddenly stood up with a manic smile.

"STEAK! You love steak! We can go get you some steak! The OTHERMART store should still probably be open right now- we can go to the meat counter and get you some steak! Let's go together, SUNNY! You can point out whichever you want, and we can bring it home and eat it together! I can cut it up to pieces for you so that you don't need to cut it and we can-"

OMORI grabbed her hand before she could go.

MARI looked back at him in surprise.

The look in her eyes did not look mentally stable. OMORI couldn't help but gulp nervously.

"The tofu is fine." OMORI gently reassured her, "Stay. Eat together with me."

MARI stared at him for several long seconds in complete silence, before nodding slowly, "...okay."

At his insistence, she sat back down again and resumed eating her food. Judging by how she was currently gripping onto his hand tightly and not letting go, she still hasn't been able to calm herself down...

MARI's grip on his hand was so tight, her knuckles were bare white. OMORI didn't think she realized it though…

Well… it was fine. OMORI decided to just let it happen. The grip wasn't bothering him anyway since he was too numb to know whether it was actually hurting him or not.

Wanting to avoid another situation from starting, OMORI started eating tentatively as he brought the tofu into his mouth and began chewing.

Nothing. He couldn't even taste anything in this world either.

That was frustrating...

No touch, and no taste. Two out of his five senses, completely nonexistent.

He wasn't able to tell if he could smell the food either, to be honest… So, that potentially makes three out of five.

Sight, and hearing. That was all he reliably had left. Not even sight either if he thought about it. Missing an eye means he didn't have depth perception anymore and was completely blind on his right side. Three and half out of five?

Sigh… He didn't really know what to do with himself.

OMORI looked over at MARI as she placed her fork down, already finished with her entire plate.

MARI had noticed that OMORI had barely even gotten started with finishing his own.

With a worried glance, she gently reassured him, "D-Don't rush yourself. You can eat as slowly as you want. I'll be here, waiting for you."

OMORI nodded silently, continuing at his own pace.

MARI still hasn't let go of his hand yet.

They silently sat together in relative peace as OMORI ate his tofu, with no new problems arising.

MARI's eyes never once wandered away from him, tensely looking him over like a watchdog ready to pounce on the first sign of trouble.

OMORI felt the situation was just a little bit awkward...

MARI's mind was probably still thinking about what just happened earlier with the steak knife. She was acting extremely erratic and overprotective, it made OMORI uncomfortable.

Maybe it would be better to say something so that she could get her mind off of it.

What to say though? He wasn't exactly a man of words. He was usually more reserved, preferring to listen to others more than partake in conversation.

Still, he had to think of something to ease the tension...

He thought back on the family portrait he saw earlier when he first entered the house. The portrait was taken back when he and MARI were only just babies.

This whole time, he never saw his mom and dad here. They didn't even bother to show up for dinner…

"Hey, MARI…" OMORI started off steadily, "Where's Mom and Dad?"

MARI blinked a bit, clearly not expecting him to start the conversation first. After a bit, she stumbled a bit as she answered, "O-Oh, uh… Well, Dad is currently out on a business trip overseas. He's part of a… paper business or something, I don't really remember… He says he'll be back home in a couple of months."

Okay… So in this world, Dad never left the family. Makes sense.

OMORI could remember the harsh look on Dad's face when he was outside chopping down the tree where he hung MARI's body on.

Stay away… you are not my son…

He had known about the true cause of MARI's death the entire time… He never said it out loud, but OMORI knew that Dad blamed him. It was the entire reason why he left… And he was right to.

In this world, since MARI was never killed… Dad never had a reason to abandon him.

"What about Mom?" OMORI asked.

He became confused when MARI had a dark look on her face all of a sudden, before turning away with a rough, "She left to go live with extended family three years ago. She doesn't consider this home anymore."

Ah.

So… Mom was the one to abandon the family instead?

What a… strange twist of fate…

"She tried to get us to move away." MARI recalled coldly, "She said she wanted to give us a fresh new start in a different town."

"...But you didn't move?" OMORI asked.

"I convinced her not to." MARI explained vaguely.

She didn't seem to want to elaborate further. OMORI felt it was a bad idea to dig any deeper than that, so he decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

MARI laid her head on his shoulder and reassured him, "Don't be sad, SUNNY… Even if our mom isn't our mom anymore, I promise I'll be there to help take care of you instead. You can forget all about her. I won't ever leave you."

OMORI didn't know how to respond to that. So instead, he just nodded and continued eating.

This dream world was throwing curveballs at him that he was never expecting, now that he was taking a deeper look beyond the surface. He had assumed that... since MARI was alive, things in this world were better than the one he left.

But… Mom left them? Because he was in a coma?

What else was different about this world that he wasn't aware of?

"MARI, how old are you now?" OMORI decided to ask, "Twenty-one, right?"

MARI nodded, "Yeah. Why do you ask?"

"I remembered back then that you were taking classes for college prep. Did you ever go to the college you wanted? Have you graduated yet?"

MARI widened her eyes at this before giving an embarrassing laugh, "I… Um… I never went to college."

OMORI stopped eating in shock, dropping his fork as he turned to her, "What?"

MARI nervously chuckled as she brought a shaky hand up to scratch her cheek, "I never went to college. I actually dropped out of high school five years ago."

"But… But why?" OMORI asked, "MARI, you were always so serious about your grades… You always brought home perfect straight A's!"

MARI smiled sadly, "I couldn't really… go to school anymore. I just didn't have the energy to attend."

"Was it… because of me?" OMORI asked tentatively.

MARI rapidly shook her head, "No! It wasn't your fault! I just… I mean, you were just more important at the time! I couldn't go to school knowing you were still suffering in a coma, so I had to drop out! It was my choice!"

OMORI couldn't help but frown at her, knowing that she gave up her academic prowess simply because she was worried about him. It seems even in this world, he was still causing problems for other people...

"What… what have you been doing then? While I was gone?"

MARI stayed silent, thinking about the question. After a while, she simply answered, "Waiting for you to come back."

"For six years?" OMORI asked incredulously.

MARI blinked, before nodding, "Yes."

OMORI furrowed his brows at this, "You… didn't do anything for six years except wait for me? What about your piano classes? All that hard work you've spent years perfecting? Friends? Hobbies? Anything?"

MARI shook her head, "None of those… It just…didn't feel right. To live a life without you in it. So I just wanted to take a break from all of that so that I could wait until you came back."

That didn't sound right at all… She must have done something to at least make her life more fulfilling. She still had a relationship with HERO! OMORI knew that HERO would never let MARI drag herself into a depressive slump for all these years. He would have at least been there to support her when she needed him the most...

"What about HERO?"

OMORI was taken aback a bit when MARI's eyes flared up in absolute rage the moment he mentioned HERO's name. It was gone as quickly as it appeared though, making him wonder if his eyes weren't playing tricks on him.

"You're more important to me than HERO." MARI stated firmly.

That couldn't possibly be a good sign...

"...What…" There was a question he needed an answer to, but his voice couldn't find the strength to continue, fearing for the answer he might hear. In the end, he pushed through and asked, "What would you have done if I never came back?"

MARI stared blankly at him.

She didn't answer. She stayed silent for the longest time.

Eventually, she glanced away with a fake smile and changed the topic by asking, "Are you done with your tofu? I can put it away for you!"

MARI quickly let go of the vice grip she had on his hand and already took his plate before he could respond, quickly leaving to the kitchen.

OMORI could only stare back at her.

This world wasn't perfect after all.

Even in this one, he had inadvertently ruined her life.

Even in this one, after somehow saving her from falling down the stairs and sacrificing himself in the process, she chose to sacrifice everything important to her because she couldn't live without him.

Even in this one, she had suffered because of him.

This didn't make any sense.

Nothing made sense.

Why was he here?

What kind of world was this?

Why was he in this world to begin with?

Is this all just a dream like he thought, or was there something more to it?

Why did he come here instead of dying?

He just… He just couldn't understand anything.

What did any of this all mean?

Was any of this even real?


Dishes were cleaned and placed away as the nighttime crept deeper.

After the tiring day the two siblings had together, some sleep would probably do them some good.

The two of them stood by at the bottom of the stairs, MARI looking at it cautiously while OMORI continued to be lost in thought.

MARI gulped, wondering how she should tackle this new hurdle.

She never really thought about how her little brother might react to the stairs that almost nearly killed the both of them. MARI didn't want him to suffer from the memories of what happened that night, so she was unsure how she should handle this.

Looking over to him, MARI could see that he wasn't even really paying attention to the stairs at all, lost in his own thoughts.

Once they go up the stairs, would her little brother react strongly to it? Would he be suffering from some PTSD that she and the doctors never found out about?

It was unlikely to be the case, but MARI still wanted to make sure so that he didn't end up getting hurt over it…

For her, ever since that day, she had always had the phobia of falling down the stairs again. Sometimes she would manage the strength to get over it, going down the stairs with relative ease. Other times, there would be days where her phobia became so strong, she wouldn't want to even look at the stairs anymore.

The only reason why she never decided to move her bed away to the bottom floor was because she didn't want to do anything to change the house, in case SUNNY ever woke up and came back home to her.

...

If MARI was suffering from this, she wondered if her little brother was too?

If he was, then MARI would have to take the responsible role and resolve herself to get over her fear so that she could help her little brother overcome it too.

Taking a deep breath, she grabbed her little brother's hand and tugged it, causing him to look up at her.

With a reassuring smile, she asked softly, "Are you scared of the stairs?"

OMORI looked between her and the stairs leading up to her room, before giving an unsure, "S-Sometimes. Not as much as I used to be."

MARI was a bit shocked to hear about this. "Used to be?"

OMORI thought back to the dream world where he overcame his fear of heights as he climbed up to the surface of OTHERWORLD. In order to search for a missing BASIL, he had to find the courage to help himself reach into outer space in case his friend was ever lost there.

At the time, he never realized that he placed the ladder there in order to intimidate him from ever leaving his comfort zone…

"I pushed myself to get over it eventually…" OMORI explained vaguely.

"You mean while you were dreaming inside the coma?" MARI asked.

OMORI paused at her words.

That's right… This MARI would have no knowledge of anything he had been through for the past four years of his life. To her, anything he tells her about what he experienced would just be taken as memories from a world inside his coma.

But… it didn't sit right with him to treat the last four years as him being in a coma. He couldn't believe that it all just happened in his mind.

It felt too real to just be another dream.

It was all too real just to be a nightmare…

So what did that make this world then?

Unaware of the mental turmoil in her little brother's head, MARI smiled encouragingly, "That's good then."

If SUNNY wasn't going to have any issues going up and down the stairs, then that eases the burden off her shoulders. One less thing to worry about.

Her little brother managed to overcome his fear first before she ever did in the last six years… Without even being awake to do it…

Kinda makes her feel pathetic in comparison… She was supposed to be the reliable older sister, wasn't she?

If her own brother was improving himself and out-growing her without help… What good was she?

Clearing her head of depressing thoughts, she cheered herself up by pulling SUNNY's hand and leading him up to their rooms, "C'mon, we should get to bed so that we can wake up early in the morning."

But her little brother didn't follow after her. He just stood there, mulling over his thoughts.

He looked like he had something serious on his mind.

"SUNNY?" MARI asked in concern.

It took a while before OMORI looked up at his sister, watching over him with worried eyes.

If this was all just a dream, then perhaps it would be better to tackle it directly and shatter the fake walls around him.

"MARI…" OMORI started steadily, "Can I ask something serious?"

MARI brought herself closer as she gave a reassuring smile, "Of course. I'm always here to help with whatever you need, little brother!"

OMORI took a deep breath and sighed.

With a disillusioned eye, he asked, "Are you real?"

MARI blinked a bit, confused by the question. It took her a while before she could even respond, "W-What do you mean?"

"Are you real, MARI?" OMORI asked again, "Is any of this real, or am I just stuck in another dream?"

"SUNNY…" MARI grabbed his hands and lightly caressed his fingers before reassuring, "Of course, I'm real! Everything here is real. You're not dreaming, SUNNY."

"Then how are you still alive?"

This caught MARI off guard.

In fact, it was so out of left field, she didn't even know what to say. She didn't even know how to comprehend the question in the first place.

"W-What?" MARI stammered.

OMORI studied her, watching her reaction with a contemplative stare.

Stepping past her, OMORI kneeled to the floor right next to the bottom of the stairs. He brought his hand up to caress the floor where he last remembered… seeing MARI.

"That night… The day of the recital…" OMORI began, looking up at the top of the stairs, "We had an argument after I threw the violin and broke it."

MARI, after a short while, began to recover her senses as she snapped out of her stupor. Looking over to SUNNY, she sat down right next to him and decided to listen carefully to what he had to say so that she could understand his question better.

OMORI continued, "At the top of the stairs, we were shouting at each other. I was trying to get my feelings across to you, but you were still angry about the violin I broke… You were so upset about how I destroyed the gift that everyone worked so hard to get for me that one Christmas party…"

As MARI listened intently, she felt a small ringing in her ears. It wasn't enough to distract her, but it did make her feel uncomfortable a bit.

Actually… They were arguing over SUNNY's violin? Did MARI… really get that upset over something like that?

It was hard to remember since it was so long ago…

Shaking her head clear, she continued listening.

"I had been so frustrated at that point… I just wanted to get away from you so that I could calm down… But… But you blocked me before I could leave…" OMORI took another deep breath, the memory of it all starting to overwhelm him. He could recall the night perfectly in his mind, recounting each moment like it was engraved in his head. "I… I was so fed up with you… The fall, it was…"

"I stumbled back, tripped, and fell." MARI continued for him, "And I ended up grabbing you down with me-"

"No." OMORI suddenly interrupted.

MARI was nearly startled back by the force of his voice.

"No… That didn't happen." OMORI continued, "I pushed you down the stairs. I remember it perfectly. I got so angry, I ended up pushing you away towards the stairs… And when you fell, I stood still and watched."

MARI widened her eyes in shock. "W-What?"

"I never saved you, MARI. You never grabbed me, and I never had the chance to protect you before you fell…" OMORI trembled as he closed his eye with a frustrated sigh, "I just… watched you fall."

MARI didn't understand what he was saying. What in the world was he even talking about? That didn't happen…

"You landed right on top of the broken violin. There was blood everywhere." OMORI's hands clenched tightly into fists on the floor as he continued recalling his version of events, "I went down to check on you to see if you were okay… You wouldn't… You wouldn't move. You weren't breathing. You wouldn't wake up…"

MARI stood still in silence as she continued listening, unable to believe what she was hearing.

"I kept shaking you, asking if you were okay. Begging you to wake up. I was still in denial about what happened." OMORI furrowed his brows and slowly shook his head, "I carried you up to our room and put you in bed because I thought you just needed some rest. Just a little bit of rest, and you'd soon wake up."

OMORI turned to her, giving her a heartbroken frown.

"You never woke up."

MARI felt her heart being stabbed.

Turning back to the floor, OMORI continued, "I was… I was trying to convince myself that it was all a dream… A nightmare… I was trying so hard to wake myself up, hoping that once I did, you'd still be there. I kept calling your name. I kept hitting myself in the head. Nothing was working. You wouldn't wake up, and I couldn't do anything to reverse the situation… But then BASIL came along. He was there with me. He had seen everything that happened."

OMORI curled up into a ball and gripped onto his hair with a frustrated hiss.

"He told me that everything was going to be okay… He told me had an idea to keep me from being in trouble. I thought I could trust him because he was my friend, but… It was the worst mistake I ever made in my entire life." OMORI felt his body shaking against the floor, "We both carried your body out to the backyard. I was in a daze, still in denial about everything. I was still convincing myself that it was all just a nightmare. BASIL laid your body down next to the big tree outside and came back with a jump rope."

MARI wanted to put a hand out to comfort him, but she was still too much in shock to even find the strength to move. Her body had locked up so tight, she was like a frozen statue. She didn't even know whether she wanted to continue hearing this...

"While BASIL was busy taking care of your body, I bit my tongue in a last-ditch attempt to wake myself up. I bit so hard to the point where I tasted blood. I still couldn't wake up." OMORI was beginning to sob at this point, and he was surprised to find that he still had tears left over to cry about this. He thought he had already dried himself up years ago over this. "He hung your body up to the tree to make it look like a suicide. He reassured me that now I wouldn't get in trouble for killing you… He kept pulling me back inside the house, but I turned around."

I shouldn't have turned around.

"I saw… you were staring at us. At me." OMORI gasped out, "You had your eyes opened and you were staring at me. That's when I realized that you weren't dead yet… You were somehow still alive, but then I… I finished the job and helped hang you. You woke up just in time to die."

OMORI felt his hands become slack as he finished recounting the memories of that night. Straightening his back up, he turned to look at MARI giving him a horrified expression.

"You're dead, MARI. I killed you." OMORI stated emotionlessly. "You died, and it was all my fault… So how are you real? How are you even alive? If any of this is real, why don't you hate me for what I did?"

MARI couldn't even find the words to say anything. She was so shocked and appalled by what she was hearing, a part of her felt like denying it.

But as she listened, slowly it began to dawn on her why her SUNNY was acting so depressed and strange this whole day.

The apology from this morning after just waking up.

The shocked looks he would give her every time he turned to glance at her, before looking so sad and regretful.

When he… When he held the steak knife in his hand and almost nearly… nearly…

K… K…

K-K-Kill-...

She closed her eyes and concentrated.

Nearly killed himself.

It all stemmed from the guilt of… thinking he had killed her. Because he thought it was all his fault.

In his morbid mind, he experienced a different life than she had. A world where SUNNY killed his big sister and was haunted by her death for six entire years in his mind. Constantly blaming himself, suffering from the guilt and trauma over what he had done to desecrate her body in some misguided attempt to escape the responsibilities of his actions.

Not even in her worst nightmares did she ever imagine herself in a situation like this.

To think that this was what he had gone through, in his own mind… Trapped in an endless nightmare of guilt.

For six years.

And he still couldn't bring himself to believe that he was awake yet.

MARI felt like she was going to be sick.

But instead of running away to clear her stomach, she kept it all inside as she forced herself to come closer to SUNNY and wrap her arms around him again to give him a great big hug.

"I will never hate you…" MARI whispered hoarsely in his ear, "I could never ever ever hate you, SUNNY…!"

"Why…?" She could hear him mutter, "It was my fault-"

"IT WASN'T!" She screamed out, "Stop saying that it was your fault!"

It wasn't his fault.

It was never his fault.

That day, when he protected MARI from the fall down the stairs… That day, when he bled out and nearly died… That day, when he became comatose…

If anything, it was all…

"It's all my fault." MARI admitted.

It was all her fault… Everything was entirely her fault.

"I shouldn't have gotten angry at you…" MARI stated out loud to herself, "I shouldn't have shouted at you and hurt you like that. I should have known something was wrong and patiently tried to understand you. But I didn't… Because I was so stupid…"

She held onto her little brother as tightly as possible.

"You've been suffering all this time… Thinking you killed me… Thinking it was all your fault…" She shook her head, "But it wasn't your fault… It was all mine. If only I hadn't gotten clumsy near the stairs, I would have never grabbed you down with me. You would have never gotten into a coma. You would have never experienced any of this!"

It's all her fault.

"It's all my fault… I'm so sorry that I put you through this, SUNNY. You've been stuck in a neverending nightmare this whole time, and I didn't even know… It's all my fault that you're like this…"

"You shouldn't say that…"

Even now, after admitting everything to him, her little brother still loved her enough to hug her back and comfort her.

She didn't deserve it. She didn't deserve his love and respect. She was the cause of all of his problems and suffering, she didn't deserve to be treated so kindly…

Her little brother was… so kind and considerate to everyone he meets. So kind and considerate, even to MARI…

She wished he would blame her instead of himself.

Pulling away from the hug, she forcefully grabbed onto his face and made him look at her. With a stern glare, she said directly at him, "You are not dreaming, SUNNY. You are awake. I am alive. You never killed me. I'm right here, and I am never going to leave you ever again. Forget everything you thought was true, and believe me when I say that it was all just a horrible nightmare."

OMORI stared back at her.

Even though her hands were grabbing a hold of his face, he still couldn't feel her touch.

He wanted to believe what she was saying. He wanted to so badly, so desperately.

But he couldn't write off the last four years of his life that easily. Not when the memory was still fresh on his mind.

There was no way it was all just a nightmare. There was just no way. It was all too real to be a nightmare.

It hurt too much to be just a nightmare.

...

He didn't know what to believe anymore.

Why was he here?

Why didn't he die?

Why was he being forgiven...?

He didn't deserve… any of this...

Seeing her little brother still looking at her with sad doubt, MARI stated resolutely, "I don't care how long it takes for you to get it through your head. I'll stay here by your side every day and every night until you realize you're not in a dream. One way or another, I'll make you finally believe everything is real. I won't ever stop until you realize it."

Even if it took the rest of their lives…

She will be here for him.

She will always be here for him.

She won't stop until she repents for all her sins.


After everything that happened today, the two siblings finally managed to make it to their room for the night.

OMORI settled into his bed as he looked around the room with a curious glance.

Everything looked exactly the way it was, back before his family put away all of MARI's belongings after she died.

He knew he should have expected to see it again, but it was still a surprise when he saw that the room contained two of their beds. It had been so long for him since his room had MARI's bed in it.

Then there was the schedule planner behind the telephone. MARI always used it to plan everything out, since she was always so perfect about everything.

The boxes containing all of his old collection of dolls and baby toys were tucked away in the corner. He never got around to throwing those out yet. Looks like MARI never had any plans to.

In a way, it felt… nostalgic, seeing their room like this again. He never thought he'd see it like this ever again.

OMORI looked over to his left to see MARI opening up the wardrobe as she held her purse. She gave a quick look inside, juggling with a decision in her mind, before shaking her head and closing the wardrobe again.

Instead of doing whatever she was originally planning on doing, she pulled out a vase containing a familiar white flower before walking over to place it next to the lamp on the counter in between their beds.

"White Egret Orchids." OMORI muttered in surprise.

"You know about it?" MARI smiled, before explaining, "BASIL gave it to you. He would always bring these flowers along whenever he came to visit you in the hospital."

"Because he wanted to give his thoughts into my dreams?"

MARI nodded, before taking a pause. Looking at the plant curiously, she turned to ask OMORI, "Did it ever work? Has anything he ever said… reach you?"

OMORI looked away as he stared up at the ceiling.

"Don't know. Maybe." OMORI answered vaguely.

Honestly, not even he knew if it ever worked or not. He always had difficulty differentiating between his dreams and reality sometimes. If BASIL ever thought about him, he wouldn't be able to tell it apart from the dreams and nightmares that involved the flower boy.

In HEADSPACE, he always went missing... And OMORI would always come searching.

Countless times. Countless cycles.

"I didn't want to leave the flower by itself, so I took it back home with us." MARI said, admiring the flower, "It just feels important, you know?"

OMORI remembered the day MARI's casket got buried in the cemetery. Her body was surrounded by White Egret Orchids as she was lowered down.

"When we have the energy tomorrow, I should get you all caught up over the last six years you missed." MARI told him, "I… I would have told you over dinner, but I thought it would have overwhelmed you after everything that happened. Sorry."

"It's okay." OMORI reassured, "I feel pretty tired, honestly. We can deal with that tomorrow."

MARI nodded, "Okay."

Turning the light of the lamp off, she settled herself in her own bed and whispered a good night to him.

OMORI returned it back, as he closed his eyes.

His mind was filled heavily with thoughts of everything that happened today.

In the end, he still didn't know what was going on or what was happening.

He was still so confused about everything…

The same question just kept repeating in his mind.

Why was he here?

It was the question that was driving him up the wall.

There had to be a reason for why he was here in this world instead of being dead. He just couldn't figure it out.

Why wasn't the universe punishing him over what he did? Why did it place him in this confusing world and try to convince him that his original life was just a coma-induced nightmare?

This world didn't bring him any peace. If anything, he's just been more frustrated and confused since he woke up.

SOMETHING still haunted him. Reminding him over what he's done.

He knew that it all couldn't possibly be just a dream.

But this world was nothing like HEADSPACE either, so he wasn't sure if this was or wasn't a dream either.

OMORI felt so tired trying to wrap his mind around everything…

So tired, he probably could fall asleep at any minute…

He wondered… Would OMORI still dream of WHITE SPACE, now that he wasn't trying to repress the truth anymore? His safe haven, where nothing went wrong… SUNNY had destroyed the light bulb that contained all of his repressed thoughts and memories of what happened to MARI.

What will happen to him once he falls asleep?

A rustling sound to his right side interrupted his thoughts, as he suddenly could hear someone breathing right next to him.

Opening his eyes, he turned to see MARI had gotten into his bed and hugged him.

She had an embarrassed and guilty smile.

"Sorry… I just…" MARI apologized, "I don't know if you think you're too old to sleep with your big sister anymore but… it's been a long time since we last slept together like this. I always remembered back then when you came over to sleep in my bed whenever you had nightmares, and I… I missed those times."

MARI brought herself closer and pulled OMORI's head against her chest.

Even though he couldn't feel the warmth or touch of her body next to him, he could still hear the sound of her heart beating in his ear...

Her heartbeat… It made such a beautiful rhythm…He could stay here and listen to it forever...

"I… hope you don't mind, SUNNY…" MARI asked nervously.

OMORI shook his head, "It's okay… I actually like this."

MARI breathed a sigh of relief, "Good… Thank you."

They stayed together like that the entire time in complete comfort.

"...I missed you, MARI."

"...I missed you too, SUNNY."

They both fell asleep soon after.

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WELCOME TO BLACK SPACE