Return. Factor's post reminded me that I'm pretty sure this choice, if we take "return", leads to one of my favorite ends.
Here's the ending Gelmax wanted to see, btw (just text). It's too happy for my tastes, but it is kinda cool
...... Arcueid doesn't come.
It's only natural.
After doing that----after trampling over everything she trusted me with, I forcibly violated her body.
She probably won't come.
This is what she meant when she said for both of us to forget about it.
My heart wrapped in regret, I leave the park.
...... I return to the mansion.
Opening the rear door, I walk inside.
I sink onto my bed without thinking.
Tick. Tick. Tick. The sound of the clock echoes through the room.
...... Just sleep for now.
When I wake up tomorrow things will be different.
About Arcueid, about the vampire roaming this city, when morning comes all of it will be----
THROB THROB THROB
THUMP THUMP THUMP
Throb Throb Throb
Thump Thump Thump
...... The pain synchronizes with my pulse.
Every time I feel the throb of pain, my memories fade away.
Every time my heart thumps, memories are plastered on.
The fading away memories are probably extras.
Memories, the past, experiences I don't need.
All of it fades away. In other words, oblivion.
As regret washes over me, as my memories thin, as my past fades away, I reach out with my hand.
But I can't grasp anything.
I've already forgot what kind of memories I've lost.
The repeating headaches make me feel sick, and even in my dream, I feel like throwing up.
"Shiki-sama, are you awake?"
----I hear a voice.
"Please hold on. I will bring you something to drink."
----After that, the sound of running footsteps.
Music: play track 2
I slowly open my eyes.
I'm lying in bed with the radiant sunlight streaming through the window.
Slowing lifting myself up, I feel my own sweat drenching me.
"What......? I must've had a nightmare or something."
I try to remember what I dreamt about.
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ I can't remember.
It is the nature of dreams to fade upon awakening.
But, there's still something.
I feel like there's a vague image of something I've forgotten.
"Shiki-sama? Have you woken yet?"
"I'm up. Morning, Hisui."
"Yes, good morning, Shiki-sama."
Hisui approaches the bed, expressionless as always.
"I have brought you something to drink. If you are not feeling well, please drink."
Hisui carries a silver tray with a drink prepared on it.
"No, I don't feel bad or anything. I slept deeply, so my head is clear too."
Hisui offers a rare reply.
"It appeared your condition was bad last night."
...... It seems I did have a nightmare last night.
"Nah, there's nothing wrong with me. But I'm really grateful you're concerned, Hisui."
"...... Yes, I am glad you are well, Shiki-sama."
Hisui looks at me with her delicate, glass eyes.
...... Um, I feel uneasy.
"I'll go change and head to the dining room. Please tell Kohaku-san I'll be having breakfast."
...... Well then.
It's seven o'clock.
I can take my time this morning.
Akiha and Hisui are in the sitting room.
From the kitchen, I can hear Kohaku-san's lilting humming.
"Good morning, Nii-san."
"Morning. You don't seem very cheerful today, Akiha. Was there something you didn't like in your breakfast?"
"...... Nii-san, how did you arrive at that conclusion?"
"Just came to my mind. I just remembered there were many kinds of food you either liked or disliked."
"That's rude... I was that way as a child, but now I have no dislikes."
"...... I see. That's odd, cause if that's the case, you should have more physical development for your age......"
"Nii-san. Did you just say something?"
Akiha glares at me.
...... Crap. I should watch my mouth.
"...... No, I didn't say anything. I was just thinking aloud, so don't worry about it."
"...... Geez. It seems there was no need to worry, Hisui. I don't think Nii-san will die even if you kill him."
"Yes, I feel the same way."
Akiha sighs and Hisui expressionlessly agrees.
I can guess from their conversation they were both worried about me.
I wonder why.
"Why? Normally, you would worry! After you came home last night, you went straight to bed and had nightmares all night.
Even though we tried to wake you, you never woke up. Doesn't that sound like you were sick?"
"Oh? Really---But I didn't really catch a cold or anything."
"I do not think you had a cold. Shiki-sama, you were sleeping as always, and your temperature and breathing were normal. But you were secreting lots of sweat."
"...... Secreting? I don't like that word choice."
"It was worse on me because I was tending you, so please be a little thankful. And thank Kohaku as well. I couldn't have done it by myself."
"Yourself...... Akiha, you were caring for me?"
"O-of course I was. We are siblings.
I was only watching your condition; it was Kohaku who cleaned your sweat."
She looks away and mumbles like she was talking to herself.
This isn't like her as she normally looks at you directly and says things directly.
"Really. Thanks Akiha. Sorry to worry you."
"You don't have to thank me. I was just doing my duty. If you want to thank someone, thank Kohaku."
She looks away and doesn't even try to look at me anymore.
"Shiki-san, breakfast is ready," Kohaku-san's voice rings out from the kitchen.
"Nii-san, please hurry up and eat your breakfast."
I head to the dining room.
"Please be careful on your way, Shiki-sama."
"I'm off. I'll be back around four o'clock today."
Raising a hand to the bowing Hisui, I leave the mansion.
Music: play track 3
I walk the morning path to school.
Monday morning. For some reason, my feet feel really light today.
Maybe it's because these past few days were so out of the ordinary, my body welcomes such a normal day.
I said 'out of the ordinary', but what kind of life was that?
I feel like something very important happened.
But, I can't remember what it was.
Arihiko whacks me on the back in greeting.
"Mornin'. You're pretty early today."
"Ah, just a whim of mine. Well, it doesn't hurt to act like a good student every now and then."
Arihiko laughs brightly.
Seeing that smile assures me that this is my world.
"Mmm, what is it, Tohno? Making such a difficult expression... Did you forget something at your house?"
DID YOU FORGET SOMETHING?
...... Those words reverberate through my head like a curse.
But, in the end,
I can't remember what it was I forgot.
"...... Nah, I didn't forget anything. Let's hurry on to the classroom. After waking up this early, it'd be a waste if you were late, right?"
"Haha, you got a point."
I pass the school gate with my friend.
With that, something ends completely.
I feel someone staring at me and I turn around.
But there's no one there.
Just the scattering leaves in the courtyard.
Tohno Shiki heads to class.
As if returning to a peaceful, happy, and normal everyday life.