Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chapter 16: A Sacrifice for Solitude

People come and go in our lives. Most of the time though, we never realize it. We took those people for granted just because we know we're going to still meet them some time in the future. We took 'for every hello, there's a goodbye' and stuck them in our pockets.

What happens when those people had to say goodbye to us? To make it worse, what happens if we made them say those lonely words towards us? Wouldn't it destroy you to say those same words back at them? What about the loneliness we had to face later on? We can always put on a blank smile afterwards. We can always say "I'm fine" while what we really want to say is "get off my case" to those who seemed worried.

Two shadows walk side by side, accompanied by the dim rays of street lights by the sides of the street. It was silent, no other sound can be heard except for the stepping sounds of the two shadows. A breeze silently swept by, giving off a chilly feel to both figures.

"So...", both the shadows said. Startled by the same words coming out of their mouths, they exchanged glances. Of course, it turned even more awkward afterwards. The silence afterwards made it clear, this is something unbearable.

She laughed. He was dumbfounded by her rather cute giggle. He never thought that she's the type of person who can find something to laugh about in that particular situation, thus it was rather unexpected from his point of view. 

"Well... That was awkward", Mikazuki said trying to end the awkwardness.

"Thanks for pointing it out", X pouted. He averted his glance from her eyes.

"You can go first", she said.

"Okay... How did I end up escorting you home?"

"How am I supposed to know?"

"It's not like you're staying at the same lodging as I am"

"Where are you staying the night?"

"An inn south of here. If I'm not mistaken it's called the Serene Inn"

"R- Really?! Well, I'm staying at the one beside it"

"What the hell... What a coincidence, I guess", X said as he covered his face as he almost stuttered due to the fact he wasn't exactly sure what to say. Mikazuki saw him doing that and jumped to conclusions as usual.

"C- Could it be that... Could it be that you were thinking of doing something to me?", Mikazuki asked while acting like running away if X gave her a mistaken answer.1

"As if", X immediately answered her. He lightly gave a karate chop on her head. She gave her trademark 'ouch' sound which X always find a hilarious thing to hear. He can't help but smile a little at that voice.

"Then... I guess I'm not that appealing to you...", she said as she made a disappointed face while rubbing where X had chopped her.

"Ehh... Wait... Umm. If you put it that way-", X answered her worry with a slight panic in his voice. She laughed at him for panicking. He realized that he had been tricked by her.

"Geez... Forget it... This isn't even funny any more", X sighed and shook his head. She burst to a laugh looking at him giving up on the conversation.

"Anyways... You're turn. What's up?"

"Umm... Well.... It's not exactly an easy thing to ask", she said while fidgeting her fingers. "Do you have anyone you like?"

"That sure came out of nowhere"

"I- I guess... Ehehehe...."

"I hadn't been thinking much about it, at least for now"

"Umm... I meant back when we were in the real world"

"Why didn't you say so?"

"Well...", Mikazuki said as she stopped walking, along with X who stopped a couple of steps in front of her her.

She smiled shyly. She was also fidgeting her fingers even more. X can see a slight blush across her face. "What the hell am I supposed to do?", he asked himself and sighed. It's not really something he can answer casually. To make it worse, he misunderstood her ambiguous question. 

"I do", X said after a long silence.

"I- I see..."

"But then again... It's a long time ago"

"Is that so... You still have feelings for her, don't you?"

"Who knows...", he replied. There was a moment of silence between them. Mikazuki looked at X with a surprised face, while X looked up to the sky thinking about what she just said.

"Just forget what I said", he told Mikazuki as he walked away from her. Mikazuki was left alone but didn't move from her position. She continued to look at X who was drifting away from her sights. Soon enough, the only thing she could see was her shadow.

A tranquil room with candles around. Everyone wore black coloured clothing looking towards a single spot in the room, a made-up shrine decorated by flowers. In the middle of the shrine, a single frame was displayed. A picture of a single boy with a sincere smile.

Out on the courtyard, I stand alone and stared at a distant mountain, standing still as if time itself had stopped. I can't feel the piercing gusts of winter air, nor smell the scented candles burnt inside the house.

"If you stand out there too long, you'll catch a cold", she said. She walked from inside the house and stopped beside me. She joined me and stare at the distant mountain.

"Ironic isn't it?"

"What is?"

"How he can smile while no one else could. He's the only person I knew who could smile no matter what. I, on the other hand, could only give a blank smile with no meaning"

I held back my tears before it could roll down my cheeks. The freezing temperature didn't make it feel any better either. Somehow she notices this and gave me a hug from behind. The warmth from her hands can be felt on my neck.

"It sure is hard on you", she whispered in my ear.

"You don't even know the half of it", I brushed away her arms and walked into the snow and stared up. I sighed and saw my breath in the form of a white cloud. I started walking towards my house gate, but I felt something tugging me on my neck. I looked back and saw her gave a sincere smile while holding two pieces of black cloth. I'm sorry... It's one piece of cloth, with it's middle part stuck on my neck. It was her beloved black muffler I gave to her a couple of years back.

"If you're going to take a walk, I'm coming with you", she said as she wrapped her muffler on my neck. She knew where I'm going, since it's basically where I go if I wanted to think.


"Cause you have my muffler", she answered my question as she took my hand and started walking ahead of me.

"The hell...", I followed behind her as she tugged my hand.

"That's not a good thing to say you know"

"Are you gonna take a walk or complain on anything I'm going to say?"


I sighed at her words. I'll let her do whatever she wanted this time. I really don't want to be accompanied at the moment, but I never really mind her presence since the start, not even the black muffler with girlish white petal design on it bothered me.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The day a certain little girl was sitting on a tree branch looking at the sunset. Back then I was simply annoyed by the fact my parents are fighting again, so I decided to take a walk and found a park. I found a bench nearby and decided to take a nap. She then told me that it wasn't good to sleep there, and well got into a little fight. After that day, I always found myself unconsciously go to that park almost everyday. Even though I only attend the same middle school, I ended up getting close to that girl before that. She's among those tiny number of people which don't piss me off, along with Takagi. I can always complain about many things and she would always listens. Yeah... She's no one other than Hisako, my closest friend in this whole universe filled with a couple billion other random strangers.

After a walking to the park near her home while responding pretty much all to the things she said, I stood under the tree I usually slept under. She was standing next to me, blowing her hands and rubbing them together. I took off her muffler and threw it around her neck. The moment she realized what I did, she tried to give me back the muffler, but I told her that she needed it more than I do.

"I have something to tell you", I said. She had a surprised look on her face after I said that.

"I think it might be best if we don't see each other any more"

"W-Why?", she managed to ask even though she stuttered at first.

"All I've ever done is just bring my problems to you and took advantage over your kindness", I told her. My eyes were unfocused and just stare towards the distance, unsure at what am I looking at.

"I never minded, have I?"

"I know, but I just don't want to do this any more"

"Please don't do this", she said as tears started to form on her eyes.

"Is there any particular reason for me to not do so?"

"I... I have always liked you"

"I have always liked you too Hisako", I looked deep into her purple looking eyes.

"Then... Then why?", the tears forming on her eyes finally fell.

"The more the reason for me to stay away from you", I said as I erased her tears with my thumb. As much as it pains me to say, I don't want her to end up with someone like me. Someone only does whatever he wants, someone who who always makes trouble, someone who will most likely end up as human trash.

"Please understand that I don't want you to end up with someone like me", tears started to form on my eyes. I pulled Hisako towards my chest so that she couldn't see my tears. Besides, it was painful enough for me to say those words at her, but her sad looking face made it even harder for me to hold back my tears.

"What do you mean by someone like you?", she asked as she held my arm with her cold hands.

"Don't ask. Just move on with your life without me", I said as I brushed off her hand from my arm and walked away.

It was that day, about two years ago, when I decided to live my life as a shut-in. I stopped all interactions with the outside world and just indulge myself with life without bothering anyone. I've brought up enough problems, to Hisako, to Takagi, even though I don't really want to say this, but also to my parents.

1 Mikazuki only meant to tease X. However knowing X that has a bad interpretation of jokes... You know what to expect

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chapter 15: "Will You Fight for Honour, or Fight for Your Life?"

"Geez...", Oxide sighed whilst playing with his drink. Val could only curiously look at her brother while still cleaning a counter.

"What's up Nii-san1? You look rather bothered", Mikazuki said while continuing cleaning her butterfly swords.

"You know... I just can't grasp what this game actually means", Oxide said bluntly. Mikazuki stopped her hands the same time with Val stopped cleaning the counter. "I mean you know what they said at the start. 'Will you fight for honour, or fight for your life?'. What exactly does that even mean?".

Val and Mikazuki stares blankly at Oxide, not knowing what the answer to his question would be and thinking seriously about the same question in Oxide's mind. Oxide while deep in thought decided to gave up on pursuing the answer for that question only to realize he made two girl's face turn blank and anxious.

"H- Hey... You don't really have to think about it you know. It's just me blurting out what was on my mind.", he gave a calm down gesture towards the girls with his signature sincere smile. Val turned back to her senses, meanwhile Mikazuki was still deep in thought.

Oxide rose up from his chair and walked towards the exit. On the way he stopped in front of Mikazuki and patted her head. "You know Mika-chan2, if you really want to find out the answer to that question go ask X about it. Although he doesn't look like it, he's really the best guy you can ask about these kind of things", Oxide told Mikazuki in a way where only she could hear him.

"Alright! I'm outta here! See ya later girls", Oxide exclaimed as he leisurely walked out of the front door.

"Ask that idiot? How can I even do that?", Mikazuki asked herself as she walked alone. She was on her way back to her lodging from the new restaurant Val opened. She stared at the sky hoping to clear her mind. However, the same question keeps on playing in her mind, 'Will you fight for honour, or fight for your life?'.

"Get out of my head already.... This is annoying", she said as she held her head and shaking it around.

"What the hell are you talking to yourself for?", a voice from behind Mikazuki said. Mikazuki jumped and promptly looked back to find X right behind her. In contrast of X's obnoxious poker face, Mikazuki's face was flushed red due to embarrassment.

"Wha- What are you doing here?!", she snapped at X.

"Nothing much"

"Wha- What does that even mean?!", X shrugged as in saying I don't know what to say. "S- So how much did you hear?", Mikazuki's head dropped as she faced X.

"Something about asking an idiot something"

"Oh... Yeah... About that...", Mikazuki stuttered a bit. "You're the idiot I meant"

"What the hell...", X sighed after knowing he was the idiot Mikazuki meant. "Is this going to take long?"

"Might be... Are you in a rush?"


"Then you don't want me to talk with you?", Mikazuki gave a saddened face due to mocking X earlier.

"I never said that", X said as he looked away from Mikazuki.

"Then?", Mikazuki's eyebrow raised.

"Let's go the to park nearby"

It was around 11 o'clock at night. X and Mikazuki walked towards the park with no interchanging words on the way. Mikazuki kept on fidgeting her fingers all the way towards the park, while X simply strode lazily as usual. Around them are some people enjoying the park on their own way.

The two walked towards the pond with a clock tower in the middle of the park. It was unusually quiet there. Mikazuki went ahead and sat on a nearby bench as X fiddles with his menu.

"Catch", X said as he tossed a bottle of Zutto Berry juice at Mikazuki. Mikazuki reacted a little late but was able to caught the bottle anyway.

"Umm... Thanks", Mikazuki looked at X with a slight smile.

"So... What's it about?", X slumped down on the bench beside Mikazuki. He opened his bottle and started drinking his juice.

"Well... How do I put it?"

"Something bothering you?"

"Sort of...", Mikazuki started looking more depressed as she started to think about how to tell X about her worries. "You see... It's about that catch phrase or something we heard at the start of the game"

"Will you fight for honour, or fight for your life?", X blurted out the exact question playing in Mikazuki's mind.

"Yes... That one", Mikazuki answered. She held the bottle she received from X even tighter. "I can't find the answer to that question every single time it plays in my mind"

"So what?"

"It bothers me", she said as she faced X's face. X looked back at her with his hideous eyes to find Mikazuki staring into his eyes. X didn't expect her to look at his eyes directly like that and threw his gaze into the distance.

"Why would it bother you so much?", X asked her and got the courage to look straight into Mikazuki's eyes.

"It's just... So many things had happened after coming into this world", Mikazuki said with her voice starting to shake. "I've witnessed a lot of deaths in this game and thought that one day it would occur to me.", Mikazuki held X's left hand with both her hands. Her head was pointed downwards in a way that X couldn't see her eyes even through her bangs.

"You see... My mom is bedridden and isn't really someone with a stable emotion. She would always get bothered by little things. That's why I have to take care of her everyday since my dad had passed away a couple of years ago. My bigger brother also dropped out of school to find a job and keep our family alive. Now I'm just a burden to them", Mikazuki's hands covered her eyes as she started to cry in front of X.

"Didn't I told you before? You can only rely on yourself in this eat or be eaten game. About the real world, you can't do anything yet", X pulled Mikazuki's head towards his chest and allowed her to rest her head there. He patted Mikazuki's white-greyish hair slowly in hope of calming her down.

"You know... What you do and what you say is the exact opposite isn't it?", Mikazuki pouts and lightly hit X's chest without moving her head away from him.

"Look who's talking", X scoffed and rested his head on Mikazuki's.

After a couple of minutes passed in silence, X slowly stood up from the bench. Mikazuki was shocked at first, but she then moved away from X's chest.

"What are you doing?", Mikazuki asked as X took off his black trench coat and threw it at Mikazuki.

"It's getting cold. Use it and follow me", said X, who was now only using his black short-sleeved turtle neck.

"Wh- What do you mean by that? That's creepy!", Mikazuki jumped as she thought of something strange. X could only looked at her with an annoyed face.

"If you're thinking about something weird, then you're the one who's weird.", X said as he walked towards the clock tower. "I'm just gonna show you something, that's all". Although Mikazuki had her doubts, she still followed behind X and put on X's trench coat while walking.

X stopped at the bridge connecting the side of the pond to the clock tower and took a look at his reflection on the pond. Mikazuki followed him while still wondering what X is doing.

"Why did you follow me?", X suddenly said.

"Didn't you told me to?", Mikazuki gave a confused look at X.

"What would happen if I tossed you into the water now?", X glared at Mikazuki's eyes. Mikazuki's eyes widened and took a step back.

"Wh- Why are you asking that?!"

"No reason", X said as he faced away from Mikazuki. Mikazuki scratched her head then walked closer to X again.

"Didn't I just told you that I might throw you into the pond?"

"You're not going t-", Mikazuki was cut before finishing her sentence by X pushing her towards the water. However, X didn't push that hard that Mikazuki fell off the bridge's railing.

"What was that about?!", Mikazuki got enraged at X and pushed him off the bridge. "Wha- I didn't mean that to happen!", she exclaimed after she realized what she did.

X stood up on the pool and walked towards the bridge's railing. "You came close to me at first. Now you pushed me over. Does that tell you anything?", Mikazuki gave a confused face accompanied by a slight huh sound from her mouth. "You acted on impulse did you?", X asked. Mikazuki gave a slight nod. X climbed the railing and stood in front of Mikazuki.

"You're not making sense", Mikazuki pouted as she gave X's trench coat back.

"How do I say it right?", X said as he took the trench coat and put it on. "It's the right thing to do according to you isn't it?".

"I'm not sure"

"You just don't realize you did it. It's something like reflex"

"If you put it that way... I guess you're right", Mikazuki conceded as she sighed.

"So... Will you fight for honour, or fight for your life?"

"I... I don't know", Mikazuki's head dropped as she heard the same question again.

"You're the only one who could answer that question", X said as he start walking away from Mikazuki. Mikazuki's  head dropped even lower after X passed her.

After a couple of steps, X stopped and said "I'm going to fight for both". Mikazuki's eyes widen and turned her head towards X. He looked back at her and gave a slight smile at Mikazuki, "What you think is the right thing to do is your honour. And you have to fight for your life to survive, especially when you have people back at the real world waiting for you. So what I'm gonna do is fight for both"

"I see...", Mikazuki gave a smile back at X. "Sorry for pushing you into the pond earlier"

"Why did you think I took my coat off?", X asked her. Mikazuki could only gave a curious look. "There's a huge chance a reckless girl like you would do that", X said as he walked away from her.

Mikazuki threw the unopened juice bottle at X and hit his head.

"Hey I paid that for you!", X said in an annoyed tone and took the juice bottle at the ground. Mikazuki laughed and rushed towards X.

"Thanks for the drink!", she said as she took the bottle away from X's hands and drank it.

"What the hell...", X glared at Mikazuki with his obnoxious eyes. "Whatever... Let's go back", he finally gave up. Mikazuki nodded and followed X from behind.


"For what?"

"Everything...", Mikazuki finished her juice. "You're not as bad as I thought you would be"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?", X scoffed at Mikazuki's comment.

"Nothing", Mikazuki said in a playful way.

1 Onii-chan is pretty mich like big brother. And yes, Mikazuki is also now caught up with Oxide's "everyone's big brother" campaign 2 Mikazuki's nickname used by Oxide and Val