Part 68: ReliefBGM: At Amecha Girls' University High School
06/18 (MON), Noon
Phew... Ain't nothing more tiring than being back at school after a week off. I must've spent half the time sleeping...
So you just did the same thing you always do.
Gotta admit, I think they went a bit overboard closing it for a whole week. I was starting to get bored outta my skull. You two were toiling away when I wanted to do stuff, too.
Seems like the world has changed things up after all. The pivotal moment I shared with Mao has been undone. That was the first time I'd ever seen her cry. But now, I'm the only one who knows just how strong and compassionate she can be.
I'm pretty sure Lion House was closed all week, so I can only assume I lied to her about working. Guess I should check last week's bills and stuff when I get back. Oh, crap. I need to get in touch with gran, as well. Chances are I haven't done so in a while. I can't help but smirk as I remember all of this.
Well, I guess Naorin's had it the roughest.
I make sure to give a vague reaction. Mao follows up.
She wasn't hurt or anything, but the press was all over her because she saw the whole thing happen. The school took initiative to keep them away from her, but that didn't stop them from trying to track her down every now and then.
She wasn't hurt...
A shame the festival ended after just one day after she worked so hard for it. Can't fault their decision, but they could've postponed instead of outright canceling it. Oh! Maybe you could hire Naorin to work at Lion House? Holy crap. I might be a genius.
Mao's words are going in one ear and out the other by this point. Mao isn't part of Divine Selection, so hearing her say Naomi's fine has me over the moon.
Oh, sorry. I kinda spaced out.
Whatever. Good to see I ain't the only one still in holiday mode. We should probably grab food soon, th-
A voice rings out just as Mao urges me toward the cafeteria. A voice that hits me like a ton of bricks.
It almost feels like I've lost all the strength in my body. It doesn't last long, however, as I find myself sprinting toward the source of the voice immediately.
E-Eep...! What's wrong, Rinka?!
Thank goodness... It's so good to see you...
Everyone's staring, but I don't care. I hug her with everything I have. Fortunately, my face is buried in her clothes, so nobody can see the tears welling up in my eyes.
...I'll let it slide just this once.
No way... Miharu's not foaming at the mouth...?!
Wh-What's wrong? Did something happen?
Sorry. Just... let me stay like this for a bit longer...
Yooo, is this a confession?!
Don't be ridiculous. Oh, well. It can't hurt to leave them be for now.
I spend the next five minutes hugging her tight. Most of that time is spent waiting for my tears to recede. Those who don't understand the situation, Mao included, probably assume I've gone off the deep end. Rumors are going to spread fast. But I don't care.
Thank you for being alive... Thank you...
Saying that is just going to confuse her more, considering she doesn't remember what happened. Even so, I have to say it.
06/18 (MON), Evening
Sorry for the wait. I happened to bump into Naomi outside.
BGM: Lion House Cafe
Miharu and Naomi come to Lion House after school. After I looked into it, turns out I'd closed the store for the week due to my being ill. I made sure to tell my gran, and that it'd be open as usual starting tomorrow. Miharu and Naomi saunter over to our usual table. Once there, I sit down next to Miharu. The reason for them both being here is obvious: we're going to fill Naomi in on everything.
I wasn't sure how much I should tell her at first, but I think it's best if we reveal everything. It's entirely possible that things could repeat themselves if I keep certain things from her.
BGM: He Reveals me the Answer
This is about Divine Selection, isn't it?
There's no way I can keep this from her. Naomi seems to understand, too.
Yeah... How much do you remember?
Well, I remember that we spent some time alone talking in the park the day before the culture festival...
Just the two of you, huh?
Naomi gives Miharu a panicked look of apology before turning her attention back to me.
Er... After that, I remember getting caught up in an explosion after I followed Yu to an empty classroom. I don't remember anything between that and waking up in the hospital, though. I was told that I collapsed from some form of heatstroke, but that's about it.
I figured I'd miraculously made it out alive, but something didn't add up... I feel like I spent my time reading books and such during the school's closure, and yet for some reason, I can't remember doing so. I even wrote down the book titles I read in my notebook, but... I can't recall what they were about.
Most telling, however, is that I started to have nightmares in which Yu killed me. They were as realistic as the ones I had about you dying, Rinka. I'm not too sure if those were actual dreams I had, or ones I just... felt I had.
...You should be aware of the meaning behind that by now.
Yes... I died, didn't I? Yu must have killed me on that day. His actions taken during Divine Selection were undone after his elimination, which includes when he... killed me...
I see... This is just a theory, but Naomi's memories seem to have been affected more than everyone else's. You've ended up with memories of what happened both before and after the world's events changed.
There's not much left for us to say based on your understanding of the situation. The last thing we want is for you to remember something as painful as that.
Thank you... I appreciate your concern. Also, um... I hate to ask this, but it was you who eliminated Yu, wasn't it? I can't believe you did so much for me...
Don't bring that u-
I assure Miharu before I continue.
Miharu's right. You don't have to apologize for any of it. I made the decision to elect him myself. It wasn't easy, though. First I had to cooperate with other participants, and then they had me use a gun.
Wh-What?! How did things escalate to that point...?
Naomi stares in Awe as I explain the sequence of events. How I worked together with Odette and Alan to prevent the attack on Tokyo Tower. How I witnessed yet another explosion on a train. I go on talking for a while. Long enough that we have to take a break in the middle of my story. Miharu probably knows the gist of the situation, but this is the first time I've talked to her about it properly. Needless to say, she seems almost as surprised as Naomi.
Anyway... There's something I want to tell both of you.
Whatever could it be?
...What is it?
I've accepted my desire to live. Not only have I learned and felt a lot throughout Divine Selection but I'm also carrying the feelings of others with me. I don't want any of that to go to waste.
You've finally found the resolution to do what you need to, then.
Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not about to sacrifice you for that cause. There's no meaning to my life without people like you, Naomi, Mao, and my gran. Even Lethe.
Sonya said that if fate can change for the worse, then it can also change for the better. I'm done with being a goody two-shoes. I'm going to change fate so that it suits my needs and not the other way around. I have no idea how I'll accomplish that, but at the very least, I was able to save Naomi so far. That's why I'm going to find a way to make sure both of us last through this.
I'm well aware that I have no leads whatsoever when it comes to how I'll accomplish this. Still... I want my intentions to be clear. This is the first step toward realizing that desire.
Sorry, but I disagree. You realize how slim the odds are of being able to accomplish such a thing, don't you?
I figured you'd say that.
Should such a method exist, then I...
However, your plan requires us two to be the last remaining participants.
I figured you'd say that, too. That's why I'll make sure to find a way before it comes to that.
I feel entirely out of place with this discussion...
That's not true at all. I asked you to help me once the culture festival had ended, didn't I? This is my proposal. Let's work together, the three of us. Not against the other participants, but against our own fate.
I am finally able to say it. Perhaps I've wanted to say this ever since Divine Selection began. It wasn't possible before. I lacked the resolution required to do so. But things are different now. I've fully accepted my desire to live.
Well, then. Assuming there is a way to pull this off, you can count me in.
Likewise! I've been waiting for this!
Thanks, you two.
Both of them smile at me. And I smile back.
I'll have to take my leave here, I'm afraid. Work calls.
That said, Miharu makes her way out.
BGM: Two Crossing Paths -S/I V/S-
Let's not keep things from one another, Miharu. You're not going to work. You're going to meet with Scale and them, aren't you?
I follow after Miharu when she exits Lion House. I asked Naomi to stay inside before running off, though. I want to speak with Miharu alone.
Yes, that's right. My priority is to eliminate Odette and Alan with their help, but I'm also going to get as much info as I can on them at the same time so I can eliminate them afterwards. The act of betraying others is inherently evil, but it's imperative. I certainly hope you're not going to chide me for it.
I won't... but do you really think you'll be able to pull it off?
I'm able to do anything for your sake.
You know that's not what I mean!
Miharu stares at me in response to my outburst.
Sorry. I shouldn't have raised my voice. Please hear me out. I'm not against what you're planning. Quite the opposite, really. I don't want to let you do this all on your own anymore. I want you to let me shoulder your burden, much like what Naomi did for me.
So it's about Naomi again, huh?
H-Huh...? I didn't mean it to come across that way...
Oh, well. I appreciate your concern, but I'll leave it at that. As I said earlier, your plan hinges on us being the last remaining participants. You won't understand unless I say it loud and clear, so listen. You focus on finding out what to do once we reach that point. Leave the other participants to me.
You've gotten a bit too used to throwing yourself into dangerous situations, especially this last time. The fire may not have hurt you in the end thanks to fate doing its thing, but don't forget that internal damage from smoke inhalation and such could have been a possibility. I've said this plenty of times already, but you're getting far too involved with other participants. That's why I was glad to hear you say you would stand up to fate itself.
Don't tell me you only agreed to my plan to keep me away from the other participants. Don't you believe that we can beat fate at its own game?
Who knows. Anyway, I need to hurry. I do actually have a shift today, albeit a short one.
I believe what I said. That we can change fate together.
And I believe in you. It just turns out that my love for you trumps that belief.
Saying that, Miharu makes her way to the station. There was nothing I could say to her after that. I had no comeback. It's a fact that I lack information on both the other participants and how to ensure our mutual survival. All I'm doing right now is speaking of a scenario I want to see happen. That's why Miharu brushed me off. I doubt she'll only fill me in on the bare minimum like she did previously, at least. Either way, I intend to do things differently as well.
I'll find out how to change fate for us. No matter what.
Miharu's already determined to make nothing but progress. She has been ever since Divine Selection began. The same has to apply to me now. I don't want her lying for my sake anymore.