The master breaks while the pet endures.
It’s not funny in the least, Satoru thinks. It’s cruel. The entire situation is cruel. Tsukasa’s admission… it doesn’t matter all too much, anymore. That misguided anger can’t be redirected. It’s already fizzled out and he’s not sure if it’s through the gunshot wound in his leg or the hole in his heart when he saw just how many pieces the other had glued together…
It no longer matters. Hayami is crushed; he won’t ever returned. And Tsukasa, face down on Hiroki’s lap, is likewise gone.
Hayami had wanted to save Tsukasa, too. Ironically, Hayami is the one who had condemned Tsukasa. Condemned him thrice over: by saving a life he’d deemed worthless and given it misguided worth, and then abandoning him as the hostage in the company’s hands while taking another ward under his wing, and then again, finally, by returning and becoming the trigger flag for revenge.
Maybe Hayami hadn’t thought it could happen. Maybe Hayami hadn’t thought it would happen. But it had happened and he’d been as much a victim and perpretator as Tsukasa, in the end. Master and pet, back then. And now, two stray pets. Katsuragi is dead. Long is dead. Hayami and Tsukasa are as good as, and the company will be on their heels soon, braying for blood.
And Hiroki, Hiroki stares at him, asks him to erase Tsukasa from his mind even looking into what it’s just done to Tsukasa himself…
He can’t do that. He can’t save Hayami or Tsukasa, but he can save Hiroki.
But that’s not true, is it. Only Tsukasa can save Hiroki. That’s the way they work: masters and pets, valleys and peaks.
He’s seen Tsukasa’s peak, though. And he’s seen Tsukasa’s many masks, as well.
That’s a disadvantage and advantage of them Pets. They’re not so unique, after all. In fact, they’re replaceable, interchangeable.
‘Come,’ he whispers to Hiroki. ‘My leg is shot. I need you to help me.’
He looks up. Their eyes meet; his are half-lidded.
‘Tsukasa,’ he whispers.
Satoru sighs in relief, but Hiroki’s locks were always weak and that made him more malleable.
It also made him more human. Made them both more human, more free, unlike Tsukasa who’d locked himself too tightly in a cage of his own making.
‘We’ll use Hayami’s letter,’ he continues. ‘In Satoru’s memories. And we’ll escape this place, the Company,’ the death, the betrayals…
So it works, for now. Hiroki helps him up. They hobble away, together. But how long can he keep up the image? How far will Hayami’s missive take them? Will the Company catch up? Will Tsukasa or Hayami wake up, turn into some semblance of their old selves or someone completely new? Will Long or Katsuragi rise from the dead and haunt them? Or will it be Jin, the next misguided emissary of revenge? Or little Meiling, even, and her flirting butterflies?
All they could do, for now, was endure.
He tries not to look at Tsukasa, still slumped in that alleyway. Tsukasa that two people had tried to save, and failed. And the irony isn’t lost to Satoru; he’s the victor in their little tug of war, here, with Tsukasa’s pet leading him to safety and their freedom within reach. But Satoru had never had a problem with Tsukasa. It had been all Tsukasa, and Hayami, and the Company who’d taken a boy off the streets and raised him to be an organ donor, and then taken him away from a mentor to be hostage they’d turn into a master on a leash.
And now… Maybe, mind blank and forgotten, he can be free too. Maybe he won’t wake up. Maybe he will and will find a new life. Maybe he’ll wind up with the Company again: a crusher rebuilt from the ground up but either way, Satoru is going to walk away with Hiroki and never see Tsukasa again.
Hiroki will likely disagree, when he learns. One day, perhaps, he’ll come back, searching. Closure would be kinder. But his head aches. His world spins. His image is splintering on the edges already and they’ve got a long way to go. He can save Tsukasa, he knows, at least a little. Give him a mercy killing or hide him away or even bring him along, in the hopes he’ll come out of his mind one day. But everyone walks away from Tsukasa, and only Hiroki doesn’t while trying to save himself.
He needs to save himself and Hiroki. Right now, battered, splintered and weighed down, the easiest way is to cut the dead weight of Tsukasa here, and take up that guise, and follow Hayami’s words to where the rainbow rises.