Part 71: Weakness Drawn Together
content warning: brief allusion to sexual assault (non-explicit), discussion of self-harm
06/19 (TUE), Evening
Having taken the day off from school, Miharu finds herself in one of Shinjuku's expansive parks. It is a park near Lion House. A park dear to Rinka. Rinka isn't the one with her, though.
So here we are. Sure don't feel like no final destination.
When did you realize it referred to this place?
Ain't no way I just up and realized it. Had to do some research, although it didn't take much. Clock towers like that one ain't too common in this country.
Ahaha. Sorry, maybe that was a silly question. Even you would struggle to connect the dots in a foreign country based on intuition alone.
Both Miharu and Odette set their eyes on the clock tower in the distance as they talk. Neither bothers to sit down. The situation would come as no surprise to those who know Odette well enough. Miharu was making her way to school as always when Odette showed up all of a sudden. All that followed was a simple request for Miharu to come with her before dragging her along by force. While that made it obvious how she must have treated Federico, Miharu still finds herself on edge.
Her own wariness would prove meaningless, though. Odette just wanted to visit an art gallery. Miharu figured that denying her proposition would require too much effort, so she opted to join her. They didn't go for the standard displays, however. Their sights were set on the seasonal art exhibition. It focused on easily one of the most famed artists of all time: van Gogh. Miharu isn't too familiar with the arts. She subscribes to the belief that expanding one's knowledge should take precedence over enjoying others' creations.
This school of thought clearly doesn't apply to Odette. There was a look of nostalgia in her eyes when she was taking in his works. It was a complete contrast to her hearty self. While born in Holland, van Gogh spent most of his days in France. Many of his paintings used France as their motif, too. Miharu wasn't convinced that the look in Odette's eyes was fueled solely by memories of her homeland, though.
Odette eventually stopped in front of a painting of a farm village, titled The Harvest. She spent over thirty minutes staring at it. It was almost as if she had lost herself in the painting. Miharu made no attempt to speak to her during that time. She had every opportunity to leave, but she never took it. She never was able to figure out what Odette was thinking. However, that moment made Odette feel truly human to her. It was the same sensation as when she learned of the compassion she showed to Sonya.
Bet you weren't expecting to see me like that.
No kidding. The extent of your knowledge is no secret by this point, but I figured you the type to snub the arts. Who knew you'd stare at paintings with the look of an entranced child?
Damn right I am. Ain't no one gonna focus on the present in the face of true art.
Odette casts her eyes to the sky as she speaks. A gentle breeze floats past us, bringing with it a murder of crows. Odette's choice of words leads Miharu to a certain idea.
You... must be aware that we're closing in on your regret, right? Don't tell me you called me out because of that...
Yep. Hit the nail on the head, kid. Chances are Federico's gonna figure out my cause of death soon, too.
So you came to me because I'm the easiest to discuss things with? Wait... Negotiation isn't a tactic you'd use...
Miharu fires a glare at Odette. She's on high alert now. At the same time, her alarm serves to trigger her nerves.
Relax. I ain't planning on doing anything to you. Divine Selection's just a big game to me, in the end. If I win, I live. If I lose, I kick the bucket. If the road's coming to an end, then all I gotta do is enjoy it till then.
I'm fairly sure the people you eliminated never saw it that way- Sofiya in particular. Then again, I don't have much of a right to say that myself...
Miharu trails off, shaking her head. Odette and Federico may have been the ones who led Sofiya to her elimination, but it was Miharu who ultimately carried it out. Her reasoning, however important it may be to her, will never change that fact.
BGM: Entrusted Feelings
Don't you want to live?
Sure as hell do. The more exciting stuff there is left to do, the better. Here's the thing, my regret ain't something I'll ever be able to achieve, so I ain't got no issue with dying. Life itself's been something of a game for me, anyway. In fact, you can't change shit, no matter how much you level up.
So my feeling that something was off proved correct. Your body is-
Don't worry, I'll talk. Consider it a freebie. The place I was born resembles the village in van Gogh's The Harvest. It was the big ol' countryside, stuck way in the past.
Odette shares the story of her past with Miharu. Miharu takes it all in. There is no hint of sentimentalism as Odette reveals both her past and regret. In fact, it sounds the same as if she were telling an inconsequential story. Miharu finds herself unable to say anything for a while even after Odette finishes. There is no easy way to sum up what she's just heard. As a fellow woman, harsh doesn't begin to describe it.
I think I've lost the right to berate Rinka now...
The first thing to emerge is criticism toward herself. Odette lets out a hearty laugh when she hears that.
Feeling sympathetic, are we?
No. I just don't quite know what to say to you.
Odette's complete lack of emotion toward her own past strikes fear in the heart of Miharu. She shows no sign of either sadness or anger. Odette is a broken soul. That's how Miharu feels. The reality that her regret would elude her for her entire life likely took its toll on Odette over a long, long period of time.
Why did you share this with me?
Because you've got the right idea about what it takes to be strong.
I'm... not quite sure what you mean.
Miharu gives up trying to follow Odette. The concept of enjoying oneself holds more meaning than is imagineable. Miharu understands that much. She gets the hidden meaning behind doing what one can to enjoy the present. That's why she can't figure Odette out.
Just so you know, you're gonna be Scale's target during the next election. I reckon he knows you and Rinka are still buddy-buddy, but he's letting you off the hook for now.
The eighth round'll probably involve Federico electing me and Scale electing you. He'll be able to achieve his goal by getting Alan's cause of death card from you after that. He's basically already done with you.
Miharu fails to hide her surprise at Odette's sudden claim. Not over the idea that Scale is done with her, though.
I know he's in possession of my regret card already, but when did he get a hold of my cause of death...?
That cunning of yours backfired. The fact that you always keep those wrists of yours hidden answers your own question, I'd say.
Miharu rubs her wrist on reflex. Whenever Miharu wore long sleeves, they seemed to be intentionally longer than usual, and when with short sleeves, she wore gloves. And that she does so to keep her wrists concealed, even when stretching out her arms. In cases where one might be able to get a peek, she would use her bag, card book, and even her other hand to keep them concealed.
Ain't unusual for kids in puberty to slit their wrists. Take that plus a quick background check and it's easy enough to figure out your cause of death. Even more so for a guy like Scale. They let you wear long gloves at that whatever cafe where you work, don't they? That's pretty rare for restaurants. He even took the time to pay you a visit there to confirm his suspicions.
BGM: Entrusted Feelings
It's... a bit frightening just how much you know...
Ain't gonna take that from the girl who figured out my regret from a minor decision I made.
I don't get it. Why tell me all of this? I assumed you'd find some fun in knowing the person responsible for your elimination would get a taste of their own medicine.
Come on. Just watching you realize that others have seen through your weakness does the trick for me. Scale's keen when it comes to other people's weaknesses, which is why he's so good at gathering intel. You're kinda similar to him, but fundamentally different.
Lemme say this loud and clear. I love you, kid. I mean that romantically. That ability of yours to zoom in on the weak side of others made me fall for you. Granted, I'd been interested ever since you beat me to the punch during the fourth round. Doubt I need to explain why I'd want someone like that to live now, do I?
Wh-Where did that come from? I'd much rather you not toy with me.
Miharu loses her composure due to Odette's sudden confession. She pouts a tad, averting her eyes from Odette, who continues after that.
I ain't joking. Me and you? We're both weak. Weak people are always gonna attract one another. Besides, I swing both ways. So long as the face and body do the job, I'm down. Guess you could say me and Federico are similar in that regard.
I'm sorry, but I can't accept your feelings, assuming you're actually serious. Rinka's the only one my heart has room for.
One-sided love's just another sign of being weak, heh. Though I gotta tell ya, that girl probably ain't into what you're looking for.
Oh, please. I'm not looking for anything...
Haha. I know.
Odette follows her sarcasm up with a serious expression. The sudden switch frightens Miharu a bit, but she takes every effort to show her own fortitude in the face of it.
Don't make the girl you love sad. You get what I mean, don't you?
Miharu nods while answering. She made the decision to offer her life for Rinka's sake. Yet she knows that decision will not result in Rinka's happiness.
Just letting that Federico dumbass elect me ain't no fun, though. Wanna help me out a little in exchange for turning me down so fast?
Odette explains her plan without waiting for a response. While the idea takes Miharu by surprise, she nods in agreement.
Atta girl. Knew I could count on you.
...Of course you can.
Aight. I better not see you in hell, you hear me?
Don't worry. The only place I'll end up is at Rinka's side.
Hah... Makin' me all jealous over here. Anyway, it's been a pleasure. Adieu.
Leaving Miharu with those final words, Odette walks off. Miharu collapses onto a nearby bench in an effort to calm herself down. Once she settles down, she remains there until sunset.
Odette's comments about weakness leave her deep in thought.