Part 46: Takeshi/Sora Route - Part 3TrackHeilmittel
I had saved Tsugumi. And yet I had caused Tsugumi to get hurt. From here on, I just didn't know what to say. All I could do was stare blankly, silently. I then bowed my head. There was nothing else I could do.
"...What? What is it...?"
I raised my head.
"You don't understand. I don't care at all about this injury... Do you want to say it's your fault? Don't be conceited."
Tsugumi sighed heavily.
"It's just that... It's just that...I wanted to die."
"How come you had to save me?"
"If you left me alone... I could have finally died."
I jumped up from the bed, shaking my fist furiously.
"What the hell did you just say!? You! What do you mean, 'You could have finally died!?'"
"That's what I said, right? I...I wanted to die."
Tsugumi gazed at me, narrowing her eyes. She was quiet. I gazed back. I could tell by the look in her eye that she wasn't joking.
"I got it!"
Turned away from Tsugumi I blurted out something.
"Well then, Tsugumi, how come you helped Coco? No, better yet, how come you went to repair the warehouse?"
"You WANTED to die? Well, then you didn't really have to worry about us, now did you? You shouldn't have cared at all if we'd all died...? Right? Or wrong?"
Tsugumi's mouth didn't move, neither did the rest of her body. She just laid there.
"You know, I'm glad I saved you... but... I just stopped... thinking that saving you was a good idea."
After that, I had nothing more to say. I rose to my feet and left the room.
Again Sora was waiting for me. She looked concerned.
"Oh her? Yeah, she's fine. She's pretty quiet... I'm no doctor, but I think she'll be back on her feet soon enough. Besides, she doesn't look like she's dying... I think we can all relax."
Sora simply blinked at me. And then her eyes narrowed sadly.
"Y-you shouldn't talk like that, Takeshi."
"Tsugumi is very hurt, Takeshi. She needs to rest more than anything, you know?"
"Ah, uh...was that right?"
I had almost forgotten. No matter how badly she had treated me, Tsugumi would still be bedridden for months recovering.
"You're right. I'm sorry. That came out a little harsh."
"You had a fight with Tsugumi, didn't you?"
Her body stiffened as she asked.
"No, I wouldn't say that. I was just disappointed with her."
There was no way I could tell Sora that what Tsugumi had just said to me. I still couldn't accept that she would say such a thing.
"Ah, never mind. Just forget it. It's just that, I guess I'm still upset at myself. It was my fault Tsugumi got hurt. You know, I just don't know what to say...she can...she can be...Ahh, dammit!"
"Takeshi, please do not worry about it."
Sora smiled softly.
"It was no one's fault that Tsugumi got injured. The situation here at LeMU is not anyone's fault. It was you who told me that. Takeshi, I am not sure what Tsugumi told you..."
"...all I know is that you saved her. And for that, I am grateful... I am just...so happy...that she was saved."
Sora produced a bright smile.
"Ahhh...yeah, I suppose. I suppose I should be happy, huh? Yeah... Ha, ha, ha..."
I couldn't help but laugh along with her. It broke the tension. I embarrassedly scratched the tip of my nose.
"You know, Tsugumi was in a really bad mood for some reason. Maybe she just didn't want to see my face. Yeah, that was probably it."
First she got hurt, then the operations... She must have been upset about that... Maybe that was all there was to it. Even if it wasn't that...I didn't want this to drag on forever. I had helped Tsugumi, and she was recovering. It was simple as that. I was happy with that.
And there was Sora smiling in front of me...
"Hey, Sora, are you busy right now?"
"What? No, not really, but..."
"Takeshi, are you sure you do not need more rest?"
"No, I'm fine. I already tried to sleep but I couldn't, which why I went for a walk. Let's make our way over to the Dolphin Carousel. We can talk."
I turned to her and slowly reached out my open hand.
Sora brought her hand up and placed it on mine.
Sora turned on the power to the merry-go-round, and got on before quickly taking off. I rode on the dolphin next to her. The ride pulsated with vibrant colors as it revolved around the space. I hadn't ridden a carousel since my childhood, but I didn't feel strange about it. In fact, it was fun. My heart skipped a few beats.
"Thank you, Sora, for your help."
"Just keep it at thatthank you."
"Tsugumi, Tanaka, Coco, the Kid...I am in debt to everyone."
"Lately, I have been... I feel like I've gained a new perspective on human life. Everyone holds their ground. They fight and try to figure out ways to survive. In all the time that I have spent here at LeMU, I had not ever really been with people."
"...this microcosm, day after day of the same scenery. Nothing changed, nothing happened. I did not care what happened to the people here."
"But now I am grateful I have met with this opportunity. And I am happy that even at this moment... Despite what happened and this dour situation, people are still striving to live. Come on everybody! Believe in tomorrow, so you can live today..."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
Sora shrugged, embarrassed.
"I am always saying things I should not. I didn't mean to gush... I'm sorry. Really. It was really lacking refinement...I..."
"No, no. It's fine."
I laughed it off, waving my hand to show her it didn't matter.
"You never saw LeMU when it was empty. From the time you came to LeMU and started working, there have always been people. It's natural that there were things you didn't know, that you had doubts, and made mistakes..."
"I suppose you are right...."
"So don't worry about it."
"It would be great if we could ensure that everybody has an escape route, but even the communications are still..."
"That's alright. I know it's difficult. We're not expecting the impossible. We haven't even found a safe route out of here... Rather than us looking for an escape route haphazardly, I think it would be best to wait for help."
"Yes...I think you're right."
Sora let out a soft sigh and smiled.
"Hmmm... Well, I know that I want to eat something other than a kiosk sandwich. There's a great restaurant close to my home. It's run by a nice old lady. She gets along with everybody. She's got a round face kind of like a classic car..."
"A classic car...? Do you mean like a VW Beetle?"
"Right, right. Just like that Beetle. That Ms. Beetle makes a mean bowl of miso ramen. I wonder how she's doing right now..."
"Ha, ha, ha... You are funny. You get out of this place and the first person you want to see is an old woman."
"Oh? Is that weird?"
"Isn't there a girl waiting for you back home?"
The choice here was Yes/No. Soras obviously happier knowing Takeshi's unattached, so
"So yeah...to answer your question - no one is waiting for me out there. We broke up a long time ago. And it was a clean break if you know what I mean."
"I see. You've been in love before."
"I wouldn't put it that way. Hmmm...well, our relationship wasn't your perfect love story... but I have been in love."
Sora smiled slightly.
"Hey, stop teasing me. You're making me embarrassed."
"But it's really fantastic!"
I'm pretty sure my face was as red as a boiled crab by then. And imagining it only made it worse that's for sure...
"Never had that experience..."
Sora suddenly put on a serious face.
"I want to know... What...is love? Tell me its how, its method, its meaning, its purpose Why do you love? How does one go about loving?"
Sora was firing off one question after another... And they didn't seem to me like easy questions to answer.
"Takeshi, you are someone who has loved."
Uh, here it comes...
"What is love... What is love. Can you explain it and help me understand it?"
I can explain/I cant explain was the choice here and the one that nets you Sora points is cant explain.
I tried to buy myself time by lengthening sounds as if I had an answer on the tip of my tongue.
Love. What was love? I've never really thought that seriously about it. Wasn't there some other way I could describe it?
No, come on! Think! Think already! What was love?
How could I explain love to someone that has never experienced it? Love... What is love...?
Damn. I was running out of air...
I gave up. No more air left.
My brain couldn't work properly with such little oxygen.
"What's the matter, Takeshi?"
For no reason my heart started beating wildly again.
Sora stood up straight.
"Alright. I will try to answer my own question. Let me express my notion of 'love'."
Sora began to speak.
"Let us imagine a flower... Can a flower love? It seems to me it cannot. At least from the perspective of human beings, flowers don't act in any way that can be viewed as love.
"What about animals? Do they love? They may love, they may not. Some animals seem to act out of love. We have observed this to an extent. But perhaps animals do not understand the true meaning of love. It's unclear whether it is the same as the human definition of love.
"Do humans love? Yes, I believe so. Love is.... Love is one of those mysterious things that people are programmed to do. One of its functions is reproduction... but that appears to be a function independent of love."
But Sora continued to speak, so I cupped my hand over her mouth.
I put my hand over her mouth, but I couldn't feel her lips.
I couldn't tell if her lips were warm or not. It somehow felt as if something were there, but then again, maybe it was my imagination. I felt, trying to see if there were some sort of warm feeling.
"Let's see... let me tell you what I think. Why does a rose bloom? Why does a canary sing?"
Sora just stood there blinking at me. Her eyes were fixed on me.
"Love is not rational. It's not something you try to explain through logic. It's something that is planted in the depths of your heart and steadily blossoms into something beautiful.
If something goes wrong, the flower might wilt and die But if the love is true, it may bear amazing fruit. There is no rhyme nor reason to the process of love. Even if you do find reason in it, love isn't an emotion that you can control easily. Love is something that visits like wakefulness after a slumber. Just as we awake in the morning to begin our day... we are put on this earth for the purpose of love. To live is to love. To ask what is the meaning of love, is to ask what is the meaning of life."
I slowly removed my hand from her lips. My hand was slightly sweaty and warm.
I might have borrowed bits and pieces from elsewhere, but I don't think it is all wrong. No...actually, I believe it is right. Did you understand what I said, Sora?"
Sora nodded silently.
"Canaries are born to sing. Humans are born to love. I think that is a beautiful way of thinking."
A smile appeared on her lips.
"However, even if a rose is born to bloom, I don't believe that a rose knows this. And I don't believe a canary believes its purpose to sing."
"Similarly, from the eyes of a human, it might appear that the only purpose of a canary is to sing."
"I imagine that many people don't believe that they are living for the purpose of loving. But from my perspective..."
"...I believe they are mistaken. It would seem to me that people only live to love. It could be that is how things are."
The movements of the dolphins gradually began to slow. The music faded to a stop as the Dolphin Carousel continued to slow.
I dismounted the dolphin and stood on the carousel.
"I wish we could've ridden just a little bit longer... But that was fun. Let's come ride these dolphins again sometime. That was a pretty deep conversation we just had...Sora?"
Sora was still riding her dolphin, not moving.
"What's wrong, Sora?"
Sora looked up absently. But there was nothing in the air where she was looking. Only the sprawling, dome-line ceiling of the Dolphin Carousel extending in all directions.
Sora was looking up into the empty sky.
"Why was I created? What is my purpose?"
With the music stopped, the room was quiet. Different colored lights played off of the merry-go-round. The light reflected a hint of sadness off of Sora's face.
"I was just...curious about it."
Sora laughed as if nothing had happened, got off her dolphin and came and stood next to me.I didn't know what to say. What was her purpose? At that point, I just couldn't find an answer to that question. All I could do was turn my back to the dolphins and head toward the dark exit... As I did I looked to the ceiling...and there was no sky.
Enter another chunk of repeated text. Look for the once the new stuff shows up if you want to skip through the old stuff.
And when I couldn't get up, I'd get irritated. The reason I couldn't sleep was beyond me. 'I probably can't sleep because I'm so caught up in not being able to sleep?' A vicious cycle.
(Man, this is really bad...)
I was still groggy, but thankfully I wasn't so sleepy it was driving me crazy. I opened and closed my hand. My body seemed to be in pretty good shape... I shook my head a little. I slapped my cheeks. Then I breathed in a deep rush of cold air, breathed it out, and gradually cleared my head. Mustering up my strength, I jumped out of bed. I put the voice alternator back in my ears.
"'Bout time I started cooking breakfast for you all!"
But when I looked around,
"...No one's here!?"
The Conference Room was empty.
"Hold up, what time is it?"
I checked my PDA display anxiously. It was just shy of 9 a.m...
You was standing guard in front of the kiosk. The Kid, Coco, and Pipi were sitting and waiting.
"Late, late, late, late!"
"Takeshi, you're a total mess."
You's cheeks looked a little swollen.
"Aw, sorry, my bad..."
"We've been waiting forever! I'm starving..."
"Look, if my belly actually sticks to my spine, I'm holding you personally responsible..."
"Remember me when I waste away to almost nothing and am blown by the wind across the Pacific!"
"You're worried about being blown away by the WIND? I think it'd probably take a hurricane to carry you off."
"...You're a real gentleman, Takeshi."
You's shoulders sagged, for some reason.
"I can't believe you guys haven't eaten yet."
I looked around at them.
"Well, you see..."
"We did try..."
"I'd say we tried a little too hard..."
They looked at one another with a mix of conflicting expressions.
I cocked my head quizzically at them and went around into the kiosk's kitchen.
"What's going on here?"
There was an impossibly delicious smell... And a blackened, charred piece of fried tuna. Red, black, greeneverything was splattered with a mysterious fluid. The sandwich buns were colorful and sticky. The lettuce that normally went into the chicken sandwiches had been diced. I'd never seen such a shocking kitchen.
"What on earth happened here!?"
"Nee, hee, hee"
"We tried dividing up the work! Hey Takepyon, why don't you try some too."
"H-hey! Wait, wait! Is this food? You can actually eat this?"
"Hey Kid - you serious?"
"Well, sort of..."
"I don't exactly know if it'll taste GOOD, but..."
"Why did you stop talking?"
"Nee, hee, hee!"
"Now, now, let's not be critical."
Apparently there had been a number of reasons why I was in charge of cooking.
"Time for a post-meal break?"
They all trooped over to the rest area. I had safely finished eating...but my stomach was still growling. Would I be okay? Doing the dishes was an unpleasant job, but with everyone's cooperation we got the ordeal over and done with.
"Hey, hey, Takepyon. I took Tsugumi's sandwich over to her."
I patted Coco's head. Before I tackled the clean up, I had picked out some decent sandwiches and had Coco take them over. Whether the still-recovering Tsugumi would actually eat them was another story...
"Hey, Coco, was Tsugumi eating alright?"
"Yeah, she said she was really hungry. I think she ate three."
"Hm. Well, I guess she's gotten well enough to eat then."
"She's getting better pretty fast, don't you think?"
That Tsugumi... The night before, she'd said she wanted to die. The fact that she was eating meant that at least her body was determined to live. If she would just continue this tendency and get well, I thought there'd be no more problems...
Semi-new content here!
(Hey, it's a good thing.)
I felt my chest relax in relief.
"You just got a happy look on your face, Takepyon."
"You were really worrying about Tsugumi, huh...?"
Feeling so transparent made me want to conceal the truth.
"No, no, it's not that. I was just thinking that those sandwiches were pretty good after all."
"Oh, good! Actually, I made your sandwich all by my very own self!"
"Hee hee, you see..."
"I used lots of my secret sauce! Mayo, mustard, horseradish..."
"And then some salt and pepper, and a dab of soy sauce, and lots of butter... Then when it was done, cinnamon and cardamon and turmeric and nutmeg and vanilla, all shaken together and poured!"
"And then, then...what was it again?"
"Allspice, and curry, and hot sauce...and some tube of something Pipi found, we used lots of that..."
"And then, we stuck the lettuce in between!"
"Magnificent, right? And pretty, too."
"Well, if I hadn't tasted it, I might have been scared off..."
"'Wow! You mean it tasted okay...?'"
"Well, maybe I should make the next meal, too?"
"... Nah, you don't have to do that. I'll keep doing the cooking..."
Just listening to her was making my gut ache... Gathering my wits, I went to the bench where You and the Kid were sitting. Coco and Pipi trotted along behind me.
"Hey You, where did Sora go?"
"She went to go look again to see if she can find some clue to help us escape. From what she said, the sensors on the third floor are working a little bit better..."
"Did you see Sora, You?"
I cut in front of them.
"Huh? Oh yeah, for a minute, before you came to the kiosk."
"I see... did Sora say anything else? Did she seem different somehow?"
"No, not really. Same as always."
"Okay. Well, that's good."
"Hm?...Takeshi, did you do something to her?"
You're acting pretty suspicious. Why'd you say, 'well that's good...'? Not that I'm the type to hound you with questions or anything."
"So, what's the story, my dear Mr. Takeshi?"
She laughed and pretended to hold a mike to my face.
"Can you tell me how you're feeling right now?"
"I don't care what happens, I'm not talking to you."
"This is reporter You Tanaka, reporting live."
She withdrew her invisible mike.
"Hey, that reminds me..."
The Kid muttered, glancing at me.
"Apparently Takeshi sneaked out of his room in the middle of the night."
"Oho! Relevant circumstancial evidence!"
This time the invisible mike was pointed at the Kid.
"I thought maybe you were sleepwalking. But you ran up the emergency stairs, so..."
"I went to sleep right after that, but it's been bothering me."
"What do you have to say for yourself, Mr. Takeshi?"
"If you don't want to talk about it, don't worry..."
"Huh? Wha-what? Are you talking about something fun?"
All of their eyes were fixed on me. Bathed in their attention, there was no way for me to escape the mike.
"...*sigh* Alright, ALL RIGHT, I'll confess."
"I was just meeting Sora."
I tried to be as honest as possible.
"Well, I went for a walk and ran into her. I was awake, so we jogged to Zweite stock together."
"It didn't sound like jogging. More like you were RUNNING. The sound really echoed."
"Well, you know Sora, she can run so fast, I had to hurry just to keep up."
"Forget fast...Sora can run?"
"Let's not get into the details, Kid."
I cuffed him on the head.
"Yeah, that's an invasion of privacy!"
"Listen You, you're the one that started this, with your whole reporter act."
She stuck out her tongue. No one seemed inclined to question me further, so that solved that. Everyone milled around the rest area. I felt the energy drain out of me. I wasn't tense. But I wasn't relaxed either. Maybe I was just tired. I sat quietly, thinking... When I couldn't sleep, I had been pondering all sorts of things. About Tsugumi... And Sora... Sora made me think about all kinds of questions.
What was love?
What were people?
What was the meaning of life?
What was she herself...?
She was more worried about things than I was. I didn't know the answers. The stress of so many unknowns was starting to get to me.
Blazing right along, we're gonna cut through Day 4, Part 2 (Pygmalion section, Tsugumi's first "escape" from the infirmary) and partway through Day 4, Part 3 (finding Tsugumi on Drittestock and ending at the line "Well...maybe so. Maybe I came down too hard...")
Next time: Ready the booze, all ye of drinking age. We're plowing headfirst in to (in my opinion) one of the worst parts of Sora's route: Takeshi attempting to pull off in Love 101.
Also, Finding Chami: Useless Edition.