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I Won't Let Him

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OMORI carefully watched as his sister began nervously taking the first step down the stairs.

MARI's knees were shaking pretty severely, to the point where the eyepatched boy was worried that she might buckle and trip by herself. Even though she was holding tightly against the rails, she couldn't seem to make her feet steady.

"This… T-This is normal for me…" MARI reassured, noticing the worried look on his face, "I mean, it's not usually this b-bad... Some days, I can get down the s-stairs easily with no trouble! It's just… for some r-reason, today is just…"

"One of those bad days?" OMORI asked, completely understanding her situation.

"Y-Yeah…" MARI nodded, having a difficult time taking the second step as she nervously brought her foot down.

She gave a gulp as she intensely closed her eyes, her vision getting dizzy from being so high up.

MARI didn't know why today was so much worse compared to any other day. Even on the days that made her stomach churn, she still at least had the willpower and focus to push herself forward so that she could go visit her SUNNY at the hospital.

But now, she could barely even manage to maintain control of her legs.

Why are the stairs so high up? Why did they have to live in a two-story house?

Worst of all, MARI lamented the fact that she was looking so pathetic in front of her little brother by acting like this. She felt ashamed that she couldn't keep up a strong act for him so that he didn't have to worry about her. Yet here she was, shaking like a leaf while walking down a simple flight of stairs. Something she used to be able to do easily so many times back before the incident happened.

A big sister wasn't supposed to be weak like this, damn it...

OMORI knew what it was like to be afraid of heights. It was something he had to live with for a long time before he was finally able to overcome it all by himself.

Seeing MARI suffer through the same situation he once did, it made him sad to see the strong and reliable older sister he always admired reduced to such a miserable state.

"Y-You can go on to the kitchen first…" MARI offered with a forced smile, "You d-don't have to w-wait up for me."

She was just slowing him down at this point. MARI left unsaid.

OMORI shook his head and offered his hand, "Here."

There was no way he could leave her alone like this, no matter what she says.

MARI looked at the outstretched hand with a bit of surprise before glancing up at him.

OMORI gestured his head towards the hand, "Grab tightly and don't let go. I'll help you down."

MARI still looked at the hand dubiously, before saying, "I… I don't want to burden you."

OMORI frowned at this, "You're not a burden. Just take my hand already." He reached his hand closer to her, "Don't you trust me?"

"It's not that, I just…" MARI mumbled nervously, before hesitating. After a bit of consideration, she finally nodded to him and decided to reach out to hold his hand with her own.

"Don't let go, okay?" OMORI reminded her.

MARI clenched tightly to the point where her knuckles were bare white.

Of course, she'd never let him go.

Never.

Slowly, one by one, her little brother gently guided her down the stairs. MARI followed obediently, doing her best not to grow overwhelmed as she fought her phobia back.

Sometimes when it became too much, she froze up and instinctively curled into a ball while tightly hugging the railing again. She would breathe heavily and shut her eyes closed, unable to keep the air in her lungs as she panicked.

"Take a deep breath. Don't be afraid." OMORI instructed her gently, "It's not as scary as you think."

MARI couldn't help but actually laugh at that as she did her best to follow his advice.

She used to tell him that all the time whenever her little brother was frightened by something. The fact that the roles were reversed, with her little brother being the one trying to get her to calm down, made her feel both proud and bitter.

Proud because her little SUNNY seemed to have become so mature since the last time she saw him.

Bitter because she hated how much she was forced to rely on him for something so simple as walking down the stairs.

Still, his words managed to get through to her as she steadied her breathing and calmed down.

Shaking her head clear, she opened her eyes again to see that the stairs were back to their normal length again. The uncontrollable shaking in her legs lessened until she was finally able to stand up once more.

MARI gave him a grateful smile as she continued down the stairs with his help

OMORI gave a relieved sigh, slowly keeping pace with her until they finally reached the very bottom.

No worse for wear.

With the trial of the day finally conquered, MARI turned to her little brother and asked, "You really aren't scared of heights anymore, are you?"

Not once did she see her little SUNNY lose his nerve while on the journey down. He kept his cool and remained focused on her the entire time, as if it was nothing more than a simple chore.

OMORI shook his head before telling her in complete seriousness, "I could climb a ladder up to the moon and not even bat an eye."

MARI burst into a giggle fit after hearing this. Her little brother always did have a strange sense of humor.

When and how he managed to get over his phobia of heights, MARI had no clue. Still, it was a blessing she wouldn't ask questions about. She was just proud to see her little brother growing up to be so strong and dependable.

At this rate, it was going to be a hurdle to catch up to him.

"I'm happy for you, SUNNY. Even if it takes a while, hopefully, I'll catch up to you and get over my fears too." MARI told him cheerfully.

OMORI nodded, "Course you will."

Once OMORI was able to help his sister face the truth, he knew that MARI would become strong enough to do anything she set her mind to. She was his perfect older sister after all.

If it wasn't for him robbing his sister of her life, MARI would've been perfect at everything.


Breakfast came by as fast as it went.

MARI and OMORI had tofu again. Apparently, that was the only thing she had in the fridge.

She apologized to him, saying that if she knew he was going to wake up, she would have filled the fridge with more tasty meals.

OMORI didn't mind at all. It wasn't like his taste buds were working, so he wouldn't be able to enjoy eating food anyway.

When breakfast was finished, OMORI and MARI shared the chore of washing dishes together. It was a nice bonding moment that gave him a brief sense of nostalgia, reminding him of all the times he would help MARI out around the house back before the incident.

Eventually, as the hours passed, he found himself wandering around the house as he explored every little difference he could find between this reality and the old one he left behind.

That included checking out the music room…

Standing by the door that led to the music room, OMORI hesitated a bit as he nervously sighed.

This room… It had a lot of memories attached to it.

Good and bad.

Almost all of it was repressed along with the truth until now.

The beautiful symphonies of music that MARI would play inside this room always put him at ease… He loved sitting on the chair outside just to listen to her practice.

The frustration of all the times he had to learn and practice the violin in this room instead of being with his friends… He dreaded when it came time for the violin tutor to appear, taking him away from everyone he loved.

OMORI shook his head clear as he resolved himself. No point in sitting in the past. There were things he had to do.

He opened the door and took a step inside, taking a careful look around.

The large window allowed the sun to shine brightly through the room, illuminating the whole area without needing to flip on the light switch.

The last time he set foot in this room, back in his old reality, everything was emptied out and packed up in cargo boxes for the moving company to collect. The only thing that was going to be left behind was MARI's grand piano. The same piano that he adopted his name from.

However, as he set his foot in the room this time around… It seemed that almost everything was put back to where they all used to be. The music books, the chairs, the pictures on the walls, even his parent's vacation souvenirs that decorated the shelves…

The only thing that wasn't where it was supposed to be was the piano itself.

OMORI blinked, confused as to why the big black grand piano was missing from the room.

Was… Was it not there because… OMORI was still repressing it in his mind? Pretending it didn't exist?

OMORI cautiously stepped forward, reaching a hand out as he attempted to feel around the middle of the room, hoping that his hand would come into contact with the piano and will itself back to existence.

Instead, all he could grab was air as he reached to where it was usually placed.

Huh.

So… It wasn't there anymore, not because he was pretending it wasn't there…

It wasn't there anymore, simply because it wasn't there anymore.

Why wasn't it there anymore?

"SUNNY?" He could hear MARI call out for him before he heard her enter the room behind him, "Oh, there you are."

When MARI noticed that her SUNNY was suddenly missing, she almost went into another panic attack before realizing that she was about to commit the same mistake she did this morning. After taking a deep breath to calm herself down again, she safely assumed that her little brother was probably still in the house somewhere.

Walking around the house and calling for his name, she noticed that the door to the music room was ajar and came to check up on it. That was where she found her little brother standing in the middle of the room.

Huh… It's been a while since she last stepped foot in here. MARI hasn't used this room for a long time now...

OMORI turned around to face MARI, seeing her giving a quick glance around the room herself. Almost as if she couldn't recognize the place either.

"What were you doing in the music room, SUNNY?" She asked curiously.

"I… Uh…" OMORI mumbled, unsure how to answer. Instead, he settled for, "Just wanted to see how much things changed, I guess."

"Oh." MARI smiled understandingly, "That's fair."

OMORI awkwardly waved a hand towards the empty spot in the middle of the room, asking his sister, "What happened to the piano? It used to be sitting right here."

MARI curiously looked over at the spot, staring at it with a contemplative expression.

What did happen to her old grand piano? She didn't really pay attention to it since she never played with it anymore…

"I think Dad must have put it away somewhere…" MARI guessed, "It was probably gathering dust and wasting space. I haven't used it in a long time, after all."

It sounds about right. Why bother keeping an instrument that she never played anymore? Surely either Mom or Dad took it to themselves to throw it out back when they were still here.

...right…?

OMORI watched as his sister MARI rubbed her head and furrowed her eyebrows as she stared at the empty spot in the middle of the room.

"You okay?" He asked.

"Yeah, just trying to remember what happened to it." MARI answered distractedly, only to shake her head in frustration and sighed, "No idea. Gonna have to ask Dad about it later."

"Oh…" OMORI looked at the spot depressingly, "It's a shame… I always loved it when I could listen to you practice."

MARI hummed a bit as she heard this, looking away in thought.

Then suddenly she said, "Wait here, I'll be just a moment."

OMORI looked at her curiously as she left the room.

MARI walked out and went over to the closet room across the opposite end of the hall. Flickering the lights on and entering inside, she began rummaging around all the old stuff that was in here as she searched for something important.

"It was… here somewhere… wasn't it?" MARI mumbled to herself, pushing away mountains of random old objects.

Eventually, she was able to find what she was looking for.

With a smile, she blew the dust off of it and checked its condition, finding it satisfactory before walking back over to the music room.

OMORI widened his eye as he saw MARI come back while carrying an old toy piano with her.

He hasn't seen MARI pull that out in a long time. He remembered MARI quickly discarding it once she was able to replace it with the grand piano their parents bought for her. It didn't have as many piano keys or looked as impressive as the grand piano, but MARI seemed pretty excited to set it up anyway.

Laying it down on the floor, she quickly got on her knees and tested the notes to see if it still worked. Playing each individual key and making sure it all produced the right musical note, MARI nodded satisfyingly before cracking her knuckles in preparation.

"I know it's not a grand piano, but it's better than nothing. Right?" MARI chuckled.

OMORI shrugged and nodded.

"Got any requests, little brother?" MARI looked over and asked with an expectant smile.

OMORI gave it some thought.

What song would he like to hear her play? It had been so long since he had the opportunity to listen to her play anything at all. The four years of silence in this music room had always been deafening. He honestly didn't really know which song he wanted her to play.

Still, he continued wracking his mind over it.

Maybe… ask her to play her part of the duet that they were supposed to play together for the recital?

No, not even OMORI had that poor sense of tact. He'd rather not listen to that song anytime soon, and he was sure neither did MARI.

Wait… Actually…

Hm…

No, maybe not at this moment. Gonna put a pin on that later. But it was definitely a lead that he'll make plans to follow up on at some point in the future.

"How about that one song you used to sing for me, back when I was still a toddler?" OMORI suggested instead, "Good Morning."

"That one?" MARI asked in surprise, "Wow, I haven't played that song in forever. I don't think I even touched that song with the grand piano before."

MARI looked down at the piano, flexing her fingers as she was about to play.

But… she hesitated a bit. Her hands trembled with a bit of anxiety, having never played in years.

"Hey, SUNNY… Just a heads up, I haven't exactly touched a piano in a long while. I might make some… goofs, you know?" MARI warned, "Bear with me."

OMORI nodded understandingly, "It's okay. Even if you make a few mistakes, I won't judge you for it."

MARI smiled appreciatively at that, feeling touched by her brother's kind nature. He was always so understanding and patient with her.

She looked over the piano one more time before she began to play.

Suddenly, a very loud and uncomfortable ringing started in her ears, interrupting her. She felt herself become disoriented as she clutched her head in pain.

Why does her heart feel like it was aching inside? Like someone was repeatedly stabbing her in the heart over and over again.

It hurts…! It hurts so bad…!

"MARI?" Her little brother called out in concern.

As quick as it came, it was already gone. Like it never even happened.

Shaking her head clear, she blinked for a moment as she wondered what came over her.

"Sorry, just trying to psyche myself up." MARI reassured gently. No need to worry her little brother over it.

OMORI raised an eyebrow at that.

His sister has never needed to psyche herself up before. She especially never did it in any way like what he saw her do just now either.

It looked more like she was hiding the fact that she was in pain.

OMORI didn't have the opportunity to delve further into that thought as MARI began singing.

"One more day the sun reaches my bed
One more day to spend alone again
Morning starts without me
I seem to find it hard to wake up

Steadily my thoughts take hold of me
It's hard to stay awake or fall asleep
Memories of the past
Both the good and the bad
Overwhelm me

There's so much I wish I could take back
Sometimes I think maybe it's too late
Though the pain remains
And though it may be hard
I'll carry on

Time to rise and shine
Good morning!

So the sun reaches my bed
One more day to spend alone again
Morning starts without me
I seem to find it hard to wake up…"

It started off slow and gentle, just like he used to remember. Then when it ended, she continued repeating the notes to the song before slowly trailing off.

Her vocal cords were more mature than the last time he remembered her singing this song, no doubt because she grew with age. Her voice still had a beautiful melody to it, however.

Despite her concerns earlier, it didn't seem like she made any noticeable mistakes at all. At least not any that would ruin the song.

All in all, it felt like the perfect performance for him.

It didn't seem like she felt the same way though, looking down in shame and embarrassingly rubbing her arms.

"Sorry… Like I said, I haven't touched a piano in years." MARI apologized with a blush. "It must have sounded horrible."

OMORI shook his head as he reassured her, "No, it wasn't. I loved every second of it. You never lost your touch."

Although still doubtful, MARI put on a smile for him as she softly said, "Thank you…"

OMORI sighed.

MARI was always her own harshest critic. Even though she was already perfect, she always felt the need to work even harder just to be more perfect than she needed to be.

He had always wished that she would learn to get over that part of herself… She never did get the chance though…

Not since she was killed by him.

Leaving those thoughts for later, OMORI changed the topic by asking her, "Where did you learn that song, anyway? I was never able to find it sung anywhere else."

MARI awkwardly scratched her cheek as she answered, "Actually… I wrote it up myself. This song was something I created back when I first got into playing the piano at a young age." Then with a chuckle, she lamented, "You can tell by how I never really worked further on the lyrics since then."

"Ah. That makes a lot more sense now…" OMORI nodded to himself.

He always liked that song. It had been a long while since he's heard MARI play it for him again.

Sigh… What the hell was he doing right now? Why was he spoiling himself, having fun listening to his sister sing him songs? The reason why he never got to hear her sing this song again was because it was all his fault in the first place…

He didn't deserve these precious moments. Not a murderer like him…

Interrupting his thoughts, MARI asked sweetly, "Any other songs you want to hear me play?"

OMORI gave it careful consideration.

Would it be worth it now to ask her to do the song that they were supposed to play for the recital? He wondered if she would be emotionally ready for it…

Hm…

"Maybe-"

Before he could even begin his sentence, someone began loudly knocking on the door.

Both he and MARI turned to look at the noise bewilderedly as it disturbed their private session together.

Turning to his sister, he asked curiously, "Expecting someone?"

MARI shook her head, "No… At least, I don't think so…"

Without even pausing for a single moment, whoever was at the door kept insistently knocking on the door over and over again. The loud banging reverberated throughout the entire house without rest.

OMORI actually felt like he recognized this style of knocking…

Yes… A very familiar door-knocking style belonging to a certain happy-go-lucky boy with an addiction to caffeine and soda combos…

MARI stood up as she headed to the front door, "Might be important. I'll go check."

MARI figured that it must be an important package or something sent by a delivery man. She was expecting a check from her Dad after all, so maybe he might have sent something along with it. Traveling souvenirs? Important belongings? Who knows…


KEL was gasping for breath like a fish on dry land.

He had his hands on his knees as he was bent down in front of SUNNY's door.

Running two marathons so quickly one after another without any substantial breaks did not do well on his body. This had to be one of the most grueling tests of stamina he had ever put himself through.

Despite the pain, KEL knew that it was going to be totally worth it.

What're a few strained muscles and overworked lungs, compared to being able to see his best friend again for the first time in six years?!

After a while of recovering, KEL managed to pull himself back together as he excitedly got himself ready.

This was it, man! This was finally the day!

He gets to see SUNNY again!

Clearing his throat and dusting himself off, he took a deep breath and calmly knocked on the door.

Or in this case, KEL's personal definition of calmly.

His fist was rapidly beating down the door like a machine gun with tape stuck down its trigger as he waited patiently for someone inside to notice.

KEL couldn't stop the huge grin that had formed on his face during the trip to come back here.

OhboyOhboyOhboyOhboyOhboyOhboyOhboyOhboyOhboy-

Eventually, all of his knockings finally bore fruit as a tired MARI came by to open the door and face him, "Yes, what do you want-"

MARI's eyes were wide open as she realized who was knocking on her door.

KEL waved at her excitedly as he quickly spouted off, "MARI! It's me, KEL! I heard SUNNY was back from the hospital and I wanted to come by and check! Is it true?! Is he back?! Can I see him?! CAN I?! Can I Can I Can I Can I Can I-"

MARI immediately slammed the door on his face.

Huh.

MARI must have mistaken him as a delivery person.

Oh well, he'll just keep knocking again until she realizes who it was.

With the huge grin never leaving his face, KEL proceeded to continue knocking on her door without rest.


OMORI stepped into the living room while listening as the knocking on the door became more fervent than ever.

MARI had her back against the door almost as if she was trying to keep whatever demonic entity outside from entering.

Walking up next to her, despite already knowing who was on the other side, he asked her, "Who was it?"

MARI turned to him with a tired look, as she sighed, "It wasn't the delivery man..."

Yeah, that sounds about right.

KEL was like this in his original reality too. Guess some things just never change.

OMORI hummed, "So, is it who I think it is?"

MARI hesitantly turned around to look at the peephole on the door. The annoyed frown suggested that she was definitely seeing who OMORI thought it was.

"Y… Yeah…" MARI muttered before pulling herself away from the door and gave it an apprehensive look.

KEL continued to keep knocking like a crazed IRS agent wanting to collect his tax money.

OMORI awkwardly scratched his neck as he stepped up to open the door for him, only for MARI to pull him back.

He glanced at her curiously, seeing her eyes nervously shift between him and the door. "MARI?"

MARI gave him a frown as she contemplated what to say. It took her a bit to work through her nerves as she eventually asked him, "Are you… Are you sure you want to see him?"

OMORI nodded, "I'm sure."

"But… Remember what I said? KEL hasn't visited you in four years. He gave up on you." MARI reminded him sadly. "You don't have to open the door if you don't want to."

OMORI shook his head, "It's fine. I still want to."

MARI hesitantly looked over at the door one last time before giving a relenting sigh as she released his arm. "If that's what you really want."

OMORI gave a thoughtful glance at her as he studied her reaction.

He was definitely going to need to learn more about this issue she had with their old friends. If he could help it, he'd rather have MARI get along with them again…

It felt wrong to have his normally caring and motherly big sister harboring such bitter feelings towards their old friends… Especially over someone like him…

Something he'll need to deal with later, he supposed…

Shaking his head clear, he got himself ready as he stepped up to the front door.

Already in his mind, his imagination painted a clear picture of the boy standing on the other side of the door.

A tall tanned boy with brown hair, wearing a basketball-themed jersey and short shorts. A big dumb excited smile donned on his face as if he was able to face all of his problems without a care in the world.

Mentally preparing himself, he opened the door.


Do you remember me? It's your old friend, KEL! I was wondering... if you wanted to hang out one more time before you go... or whatever... for old time's sake, y'know?

Don't worry, BASIL! Me and SUNNY got you covered! We'll get the photo album back for you!

Guess what, SUNNY? I'm a big brother now!

You know, SUNNY... You were pretty awesome back there, jumping in the lake to save BASIL like that. I think you deserve some recognition too! How about a high five?

You and BASIL… and everyone here… You were my best friends…

Friends… Friends are supposed to be there for each other.

KEL has always been there for me. Even though he was a bit careless at times, I knew he had a good heart. More than anything, he just wanted everyone around him to be happy. He's always been someone I could count on to lift my spirits.

I'll really miss him.

KEL loved her and you killed her.

I know...


KEL held his breath as he watched a long-time familiar face open the door for him.

OMORI blinked a bit as the sunlight hit his eye, before slowly adjusting to see KEL right in front of him.

Besides a few minor differences, the boy looked pretty much the same as he last remembered him.

Did KEL get taller, actually?

"SUNNY…" KEL whispered breathlessly as he stared at the eyepatched boy in shock.

OMORI nodded neutrally and gave a small wave, "Hey."

"Holy cow… it really is you!" KEL mumbled, wiping his eyes as if truly making sure what he was seeing was real. "I can't believe it… You're actually here."

"Yeah. Surprise." OMORI stated stoically.

With a surprising amount of control, KEL managed to hold himself back as he slowly approached his buddy to give him a hug.

"Dude… You have no idea how much I've missed you…" KEL whispered, overwhelmed with joy.

"I can take a guess..." OMORI said back, giving his friend a comforting pat on the back.

The two shared a good amount of time hugging before KEL pulled away with a huge smile.

"SUNNY, buddy! We have so much to catch up on! There are so many things I want to talk about!"

"Sure thing." OMORI nodded, "Whatever you want."

KEL opened his mouth to begin, only to end up winding up in silence. With an awkward smile, he scratched his neck and said, "Okay… Uh… Sooooo… I actually didn't have anything planned when I was running back here from the hospital. I have absolutely no idea what to say right now. Didn't think that far ahead."

Yep, typical KEL. Glad to see he wasn't that much different from the KEL in his original reality.

"I'll go first then, I guess…" OMORI shrugged, before asking, "How have you been?"

"Me?" KEL blinked a bit, before grinning, "Man, I've been great actually! Haven't felt this good about myself in years! Seeing you again is practically the icing on the cake!"

"That's good." OMORI nodded.

"How about you, man? How are you feeling?" KEL asked back, showing a bit of concern. "I mean, have you been adjusting well? Are things okay with you?"

OMORI shrugged before nodding again, "Doing good. Had a nice nap."

KEL broke out into laughter at this, slapping his knees as he heartily chuckled. Wiping a tear from his eye, KEL looked up at him with a humorous smile, "Y-Yeah! I bet you did! It took you six years just to wake up!"

"It was a very nice nap." OMORI reiterated.

Recovering from his laughing fit, KEL stood up straight to look his friend in the eye, "It's really good to see you again, SUNNY. Seriously."

"Yeah, me too." OMORI nodded.

Technically for OMORI, it was only a couple of days ago since he last saw his friend KEL... Still, it really was good to see him again. OMORI couldn't lie.

KEL chuckled again, happy to see that his friend still hasn't changed a bit.

SUNNY was always the kind of guy to keep his words short and simple. More of a listener rather than a speaker, KEL could always rely on him to be the rock that listened to all of his problems.

Even though he may be a bit shy, most of the time expressionless, and always kept himself quiet, KEL knew that SUNNY was one of the kindest and most reliable friends he could ever have.

"Oh! Dude, we should totally hang out today!" KEL suggested excitedly, before asking, "Are you free right now? Do you have anything important to do? If you don't, then we can hang out at my place or even just go to the plaza- Whatever you want man!"

OMORI hummed, giving the idea some considerable thought.

This might be a good opportunity to go gather information about what happened within the past six years. There were loads of things on his mind that he really wanted answers for, and he knew that some important questions would never be answered if he were to stay at home.

He had no idea what the full list of differences this reality had between his old one. He didn't really know what to expect when finding himself in a world where he was the one to suffer from the incident instead of MARI.

However, there was a concern that was stopping him from accepting KEL's invitation outright.

Mostly, MARI.

OMORI glanced behind him a bit before telling KEL, "Wait here, I'll get back to you on that."

"Sure thing!" KEL bounced happily, more than willing to wait for his friend to finish whatever he had to do.

OMORI stepped back inside the house to see his sister hiding behind the door in the corner, doing her best to remain invisible.

He frowned at this, asking her, "Hey, are you okay?"

MARI looked up at him and gave him a reassuring smile that never reached up to her eyes, "Y-Yeah. I'm fine."

"KEL just invited me to hang out with him." OMORI told her.

MARI looked away and shuffled awkwardly in place, "O-Oh… I see… Do… Do you want to go play with him then?"

"Kind of." OMORI nodded, before asking, "Are you okay with that?"

MARI's smile wavered a bit, clearly uncomfortable with the thought. Bringing the smile back, she said, "I would be lying if I said I was… I just got you back for the first time in years, and here he is, trying to take you away from me again."

Why should he get to spend time with her little brother?! He never waited for him like she did! MARI kept the thought to herself.

"It'll just be for a day." OMORI reminded her, "I could make sure he brings me back home when we're done."

"I mean… Yeah, he could…" MARI mumbled to herself bitterly.

"You could come with me if you want." OMORI offered, "We can both play with KEL together."

MARI furrowed her brows at this, obviously not even willing to consider it.

"I… I don't think so…" MARI shook her head, bringing her smile back to reassure him, "You and KEL would get along better without me there to get in between the two of you."

"Oh…"

OMORI gave a sad sigh, watching his sister squirm in place like this. It reminded him of himself in a way.

It seems MARI has chosen to become a reclusive shut-in just like him in this reality. The once extroverted and outgoing sister he used to know was nowhere to be found…

It felt like seeing a mockery of the MARI he once remembered. It made him feel sick to his stomach.

Once he manages to help her face the truth and get her to forgive herself, one of the first things he'll need to do is get her to return back to her old self again. He'll need to hold off on dying until he manages that…

With a frown, he asked her, "Do you want me to stay here with you instead? So that you don't get lonely?"

MARI gave him a hopeful glance, smiling at him as if she was right about to jump on that offer.

But then he saw her hesitate before she looked over him again with a considerate frown.

MARI sighed as she straightened herself up, before turning to him with a gentle smile, "You should use this chance to reconnect with your friends again, SUNNY. I don't want to keep you all to myself."

"Are you sure?"

MARI nodded cheerfully, "As long as you promise to come back before it gets too late, I'll trust you. Have fun with KEL, okay?"

OMORI nodded back sadly, "Okay… Thanks, MARI."

"Go on. He's waiting for you, isn't he?" MARI gently urged him as she slightly nudged the boy towards the door, "You wouldn't want to keep him standing outside forever, would you?"

"Right…" OMORI nodded again, before reassuring her, "I'll see you later then."

"Stay safe for me, SUNNY!" MARI waved goodbye.

OMORI took a step outside and closed the door behind him, before giving a tired sigh.

Looking up, he saw KEL raring to go as he flashed a smile, "So? We hanging?"

"Yeah, sure." OMORI nodded, "Lead the way."

"ALRIGHT!" KEL cheered brightly before marching off.

OMORI followed closely after.


The moment her little brother left the house, she released the fake smile and landed her forehead against the door as she depressingly slumped to the ground.

MARI wanted him to stay with her. She wanted him to stay so badly…

But she knew that keeping him to herself would be selfish. There was no way she could deny her little brother's wish of wanting to be with his friends again.

As much as she wanted to be together with him today, she knew that with the way she was now, all she would do was ruin his heartwarming reunion with his friends.

Even though he had already forgiven them, MARI couldn't find it within herself to do the same.

She'll just lash out at them. Scream at them, hate them all over again.

She didn't want to do that in front of her little brother…

She didn't want to look like a monster in front of him.

She was a monster.

MARI shook her head, the painful ringing in her ears coming back to bother her again.

This will be a good chance for SUNNY to understand and realize that everything wasn't a dream.

Surrounding himself with friends that he cares about will make him happy.

And if he was happy, then he won't try to kill himself again.

In the meanwhile, MARI will just… sit at home and wait for him to come back. At the very least, she knew that she could trust him to take care of himself…He'll come back for her.

...

MARI sighed gently as she closed her eyes against the door.

Yeah... It was just going to be for the day.

She could wait that long for him to come back to her. After all, she had been waiting for six entire years.

She could wait for just one more day.

That was all she ever does anymore.

That was all she could do anymore.

Just…

gotta...

wait…

She misses him already.