Chapter 1: A Late Arrival

A blue butterfly flutters ceaselessly across a black screen, leaving a stardust trail in its wake. As the butterfly disappears, words begin to fall into place through the darkness.

Time never waits.

It delivers all equally to the same end.

You, who wish to safeguard the future, however limited it may be…

You will be given one year;

Go forth without falter, with your heart as your guide…

"How stupid." a blue-haired youth muttered as he closed his phone. He sat alone in an almost deserted train car, with only a half-awake business man and half-dead old woman. "If only they knew."

He can hear the PA system go off, sincerely apologizing for being late due to an unfortunate accident. He doesn't care. It had just dawned on him that he hadn't downloaded a new game on his phone in ages. He quickly takes his phone from his pocket again, and opens it.

It was out of battery. He recalled it had been out of battery for the last hour.

"Ten sleepless years and I haven't hallucinated anything that crazy before," he thought to himself. "Maybe it's finally taking a toll on my mind?"

Dismissing the fact, he had heard that the next stop was Iwatodai. He disembarked from the train, music blaring, and shot a quick look at the clock on the station wall. Thirty seconds to midnight. He took of his headphones and passed through the security gate with a small smirk.

Fifteen seconds to midnight. He looked around to see what the station was like. It wasn't very crowded, nor was it heavily populated with stores. He did see a stand selling umbrellas, and he had left his old one on the last train he transferred from.

As he walked by, the clock struck twelve. Time stopped; every light shut off, the walls became a sickly green with blood leaking through the cracks, and everyone but he had suddenly transformed into a coffin. Stepping through a puddle of blood, he walked over to the stand, and took two umbrellas and a rather fashionable looking watch on display. He stuffed one in his bag and walked with the other.

"Don't mind me."he chuckled as he walked away from the stand, putting on his new accessory. Instead of taking the time to admire how well it looked on him, he pulled a map from his pocket as he exited the station and stopped to examine it. His destination was Minatodai Dormitory, and it seemed to be quite a far walk.

"I don't really mind. After all, the moon looks good tonight," he thought as he began the trek. Rows of coffins filled the streets, blood replaced water all around, and somebody had left their wallet unattended on a bench just outside of the station. He quickly took the coins and placed it back where he found it. Unfortunately, it only had 3000 yen, but it was better than being flat broke.

With a bit of light parkour over railings and through alleys, he managed to reach the dorm in just less than forty-five minutes. However, he froze at the entrance.

The lights were on.

He stood there for a bit, looking around at the other buildings. Every building was green coated, blood soaked, and the moon still loomed menacingly in the green sky.

"It hasn't been an hour yet… Nothing has returned," he noted. "So why are there lights here?"

After contemplating for a bit, he decided to enter the dorm, ready for anything. As he entered, the lights weren't on. Everything was still the same sickly green.

"Welcome," a young boy's voice said before he could contemplate why he saw lights from outside. He turned to the counter to see a black-haired, blue-eyed child in what appeared to be prisoner's clothing standing behind the counter. "You're late. I've been waiting a long time for you."

He snapped his fingers, and a red notebook appeared on the desk. "Shit, I'm still hallucinating?" the blue-haired boy thought as he watched the scene.

"Now, if you want to proceed, please sign your name there. It's a contract. Don't worry, all it says is that you'll accept full responsibility for your actions. You know, the usual stuff." the young boy said.

The blue-haired boy looked at his signing apparatus. An ink feather. "Fuck it." he thought as he took up the pen. "Maybe the hallucination might stop if I just play along."

He signed Minato Arisato, and put the feather down in the note book. It disappeared, along with the small boy. "No one can escape time." the young boy began as he reappeared to Minato's right.

"Time again? Shit, like the first one?" Minato thought, grey eyes scanning the boy. If this was the start of a series of hallucinations, maybe he should've just screamed that the boy wasn't real, as was his gut reaction.

"It delivers us all to the same end. You can't plug your ears and cover your eyes." he said. He stopped to stare directly into Minato's eyes. Minato responded in kind with the most menacing glare he could achieve.

"And so it begins," the boy said with a smile, before disappearing into the darkness.

"Why do I feel like this is going to become a real problem later on?" he thought as he picked his umbrella back up. As he took a step further into the dormitory, he heard motion on the stairs.

"Who's there?!" a girl's voice cries out. A brunette in a pink cardigan and choker rushes down the stairs. As she sees Minato, he notices she has a gun strapped to her leg. After a split-second of apprehensive looks, the girl slowly goes for her gun. Minato takes his cue. Hesitation. He raises his umbrella and swiftly approaches her, bounding forwards before she can draw it.

"Takeba, wait!" screams another female voice. To his surprise, she stops and looks upwards. He also restrains from dropping the umbrella onto her skull at full force. He was within striking distance, and she had just barely even gotten the gun out of its holster.

The two looked up to see a redhead elegantly walk down the stairs. "A real life showstopper." he thought. It was practically undeniable that she was beautiful.

As she approached, Minato backed away and slowly lowered the umbrella to his side. Once it was down, the power returned and the sickly green disappeared. "Wait… other people can move in that hour?" he thought. He was looking them over, and the brunette was visibly shaken. It seems she had just realized he could have knocked her out. The redhead seemed levelheaded, but was also on guard. She couldn't have not witnessed him almost assault the other girl.

"I didn't think you'd arrive so late." she said with a smile that he recognized as a façade. After all, he's used a similar one on many occasions. "My name is Mitsuru Kirijio. I'm one of the students who live in this dorm."

"… Who's he?" the brunette asked.

"He's a transfer student. It was a last minute decision to assign him here. He'll eventually be moved to a room in the boy's dorm." Mitsuru answered. From what Minato could tell, it seemed like that was a preset answer.

"… Is it okay for him to be here?" the brunette asked again.

"Is it okay for you to keep a gun on you?" Minato mused in his mind.

"I guess we'll see…" Mitsuru said, eyeing the brunette. She returned her attention to Minato. "This is Yukari Takeba. She'll be a junior this spring, just like you."

"Hey…" Yukari said with an awkward smile.

"A junior just like me, huh?" Minato said, easing his stance and cracking a smile. If Minato knew anything, it was that his smile looked downright creepy. In fact, it was the main reason he appeared emotionless most of the time. He only used it when he couldn't resist messing with people, such as right now. "Does that mean I get to keep a gun on me like her?" he mused, quickly tilting his head to shift his smile right at Yukari.

"Wha-?" Yukari flinched. "Oh, um, well, it's sorta like a hobby… Well, not a hobby, but…"

"You know how it is these days," Mitsuru said, her smile cracking to form quite the glare for a split second at Minato. It seemed he had scared her with his comment as well. "It's for self-defense. It's not a real gun, of course."

"I suppose that explains Yukari's initial hesitation. Can't be too bright if she doesn't realize that the whole purpose of having a fake gun for defense is to flaunt the thing like you're ready to leave children fatherless," Minato thought. He stopped smiling, returning to his original emotionless appearance. Mitsuru looked him over once more. The abrupt changes in facial expression always made others wary of Minato, but he was used to it by now.

"It's getting late, so you should get some rest." Mitsuru said, retaining her smile.

"She might be better than me at controlling her expressions. After all, I just deadpan most of the time. She can actually fake emotions." Minato thought as she said that.

"Your room is on the second floor, at the end of the hallway. Your things should already be there." Mitsuru continued.

"Oh, I'll show you the way. Follow me." Yukari said. Minato gave a slight bow to Mitsuru and muttered an apology for the confusion, much to her surprise, and then proceeded to follow Yukari.

"I'd rather not get on the redhead's bad side. She's probably got connections, with that much tact." Minato thought as he approached his room.

"This is it… Pretty easy to remember, huh?... Since it's right at the end of the hall. Oh yeah, make sure you don't lose your key, or you'll never hear the end of it… So, any questions?" Yukari asked. Minato stopped for a moment, and decided to verify something important.

"Does a little kid with bright blue eyes live here too?" Minato asked.

"What kid? What are you talking about?... Come on, it's not funny," Yukari replied.

"Full on hallucinations then," Minato thought to himself.

"Um… can I ask you something?" Yukari began. Minato nodded. "On your way from the station, was everything okay?"

"Maybe I should tell her about rows upon rows of coffins and blood seeping out of the walls. That would be funny," Minato thought, "But I think I've scared her enough for one night. Anymore, and I'm pretty certain she'll resent me."

"Actually, something VERY strange happened on the way from the station," Minato began, his smile creeping up on his face. Yukari almost cringed. "I found three thousand yen just sitting on a park bench. Not a soul in sight." He finished, flipping a coin from his pocket and catching it again.

Yukari might as well have sighed. The relief on her face gave way to a rather bright smile, and Minato thought she actually wasn't that bad when not looking scared out of her wits.

"Oh! How lucky!" she laughed.

"And that's one relieved patron," Minato thought as she calmed down.

"Well, I better get going…" Yukari began as she walked away. "You probably have a few other questions, but let's save them for later, okay? Good night!"

"Night," Minato said, turning to enter his room. He looked it over. Plain, blue, and small, this would be his nightly habitat. His bed was perfectly made up and his closet was packed. He only had three boxes on the floor to unpack, which he quickly ran through. Sure enough, he found his phone charger, and put his phone to charge. It truly was dead. As he left it to charge, he began to fully assemble his room.

Unpacking the largest of the boxes revealed an easy-to-build table, along with two chairs. He shifted his desk up against the wall and placed it next to his window, allowing enough space for him to walk around it on either side. The other two were filled with mostly school supplies, including his textbooks, as well as his other various personal belongings, such as his laptop, microwave, miniature fridge, and his most prized possession, a traditional iron teapot, which was heated in the classical way, complete with small fire pit and two cups.

By the time he had arranged his room, it had just enough space for him to walk comfortably to any point in it. Satisfied with the outcome, he looked at the clock on the wall. It was 3:45 a.m. He had another three hours to spend before he needed to prepare for school at all, so he decided he would make a good first impression on his new dorm mates the next morning. He needed some supplies, however, so he left the dorm in the quickest way possible.

Through his window.