Hi, darkhonour here again. While I'm in the midst of collecting more data for my major story, Crimson Guardian, I thought I'd just pinch out some free time to write this oneshot. Please give me your support! And no flames please!
'Enjou, don't you have a girlfriend?'
On a usual night, Ryougi supported her chin with her elbow pressed to the bed, asking me something which she had never asked before.
Ryougi's questions were always appearing that sudden like this.
'A girlfriend....well...I can't have one probably with my family moving from place to place.'
'I see. You have quite the good look though.'
'With such a monotonous voice, you can't make me happy even if it was praising me. And besides, I'm sick of girls.'
'....hmmm, why is that so?'
Seemingly interested, Ryougi rolled over to me, facing me closely. I was lying on the bed perpendicular to her and when her face suddenly became that big and close, it was seemingly cute.
'Enjou, are you gay?'
...I took back the last few words I had said. For me to think that she was cute, I must have been bewitched no doubt.
'There's no way I could be! It's just troublesome. When I was dating, it wasn't really interesting.'
In the first place, I didn't really like the opposite sex. I had dated someone for 3 months back in senior high but rather than being an innocent relationship, it felt like a horrible battle.
Before I knew it, I began to retell the story of my past.
'I don't really have high expectations. But she had high expectations from me. But well, when we first started, I tried to bear with it.'
'I bought what she wanted. I dressed up for her because she wanted me to. There was nothing which I could not live up to her high expectations. While she was elated with what I was doing, I become more distant. Sex didn't feel as great as what everyone else had experienced.'
....Ryougi continued to listen patiently to my words.
'Eventually, I began to dislike her. It was not only my surroundings. My time, money and feelings had to be allocated to her and I became irritated with that. I tried to do as much as I like for her but eventually I came to satisfy myself sexually by myself.'
I paused for a moment before pushing the air to my throat.
'...If I were a normal student, I would have much time to waste. But there was no free time for me. As the time with her increased, my time for sleeping decreased further. I calculated it. For me who had no spare time, it was definitely impossible for me to date from the very start.'
Even so, I did not break up with her.
It was enough seeing her happy. I did not want to make her cry by insisting on a breakup. Hurting others and hurting yourself would be foolish.
'But you broke up after. How did you dump her then?'
'Hey, don't make me sound like I was the bad guy. I was ditched. 'You are not looking at me. Not looking at my heart but only my physical appearance,' she told me suddenly at the hotel after we did it. Honestly, that was a real shock.'
Having said such a boring thing, I slouched my shoulders. Ryougi laughed out loud at the embarrassing thing I had just told her.
'Well-done! 'Not looking at my heart,' eh? Haha, Enjou, you were stuck with such a troublesome girl!'
The springs in the mattress was moving. She was rolling on the bed laughing.
'What was that for? How strange can that be? It's just bitter memories of youth...'
Feeling angry with her, I got up. Ryougi stopped and looked at me.
'Well, wasn't that funny? Humans are just looking at physical appearances anyway. Rejecting you because you only looked at her that way and not looking at something impossible to see like a heart, such a girl isn't normal. Being not normal means being abnormal. Well, isn't it funny? If she wanted to see a heart, you should have drawn it on paper. Enjou, breaking up with her was the best choice.'
Insulting me with such coldness, Ryougi lied on the bed. She stared at me intently like a cat did and began to speak as if she had something difficult to say.
'...hmmm, I don't have a right to say this but if this uncertainty of 'being unable to see' was spoken, it's probably a lie. Love is all about trust without understanding why. Love is blind. Doesn't it mean so?'
It was the opinion of individuals as Ryougi added before she fell asleep.
And just like usual, our conversation ended unfinished. I lied down reluctantly.
I went through my thoughts in the darkness which took me to slumberland, after I had turned off the lights.
A woman. Such an emotional person was bitterly enough. But this girl next to me was not someone that stubborn. If Ryougi was my girlfriend, she would just laugh over such a thing and accept it I guess.
It had been almost two weeks since that incident happened. That incident involving Araya Souren who had used unorthodox experiments to test out the different ways of death.
I adjusted my glasses, looking at the setting of that experiment. The moon bathed the building with its bright light.
Two weeks ago, this building was brightly. Now it was as dark as any abandoned building. It would torn down the next day.
According to Tohko, the Mage Association had cleared the building of any magical abnormalities. I was not present to see it for I had to go to the hospital for regular checkup.
It appeared that Cornelius Alba had beaten me up quite badly. When I asked Tohko of where he was, she could only say that he only insulted her name.
The sight of seeing Tohko's severed head then had made me sick but seeing the red-headed magician safe and sound was after all much better.
I took a step forward. According to Tohko, it was safe enough to enter the building since everything related to magic had been settled. I got out of my car.
That red-haired boy came into my mind. During that night, we had agreed that I, Kokutou Mikiya, would be the bait and he would infiltrate the building. He had passed me a key. The key to Ryougi Shiki's apartment.
Enjou Tomoe had also stated that there was no further need for us to meet again. One of us would have to probably die. Even if both of us survived, Enjou would not appear before me or even Shiki again. He liked Shiki but it was better for me and her to be together, as he had spoken then.
He was going to make a fresh start in life somewhere far away.
After Tohko's explanation about the entire incident, I understood that whether Enjou did manage to do so, he was already dead in the first place. The red-haired boy whom I had met at Shiki's apartment on that night was just a doll created by Araya Souren. He was just an artificial being implanted with the memories of the real Enjou Tomoe.
I pressed the elevator button. The entire building was dark. There was probably no way the elevator could work even if I had pressed for it.
I turned to the spiral stairway which entwined around the elevator shaft. Before I could take a step forward, the elevator doors opened suddenly surprising me. Its light was still switched on.
Ignoring any reasoning in my head, I entered the elevator. As my eyes moved to the floor buttons, there was only one lit.
The fourth floor button was lit.
It was probably a sign.
I pressed the button for the doors to close. The elevator began to move slightly, gradually picking up speed as it pulled me up to the floor which I wanted to go.
Contrary to that night, looking at the floor did not give me hallucinations, as Tohko had warned me when we had entered the building for the first time. Nevertheless, I could not tell still which floor the elevator was passing. Tohko was right about that.
The elevator reached the fourth floor. The doors quickly opened to reveal a shadow in front of me. It was surprising for someone to be in this abandoned building.
But if it was that person, it would not be surprising.
'Tohko-san,' I greeted the red-haired lady before me. As usual, she was wearing the same brown coat which she had worn that night before.
'Kokutou,' she spoke as soon as I had exited the elevator. 'Do you like this building?'
'....no, it's going to be demolished tomorrow anyway.'
'I see,' she came closer to me. She had a mysterious look on her face. She placed her hand on my shoulder.
She was silent after uttering my name out. The eeriness of the building made the atmosphere suspenseful. She looked intently at me.
'So you don't mind if Shiki is a girl or a boy?'
Her mouth twisted into a smile that instant. I heaved a sigh.
Without a word, Tohko left through the elevator. Her reason for coming to this building was fairly understood by me.
The apartment door to unit 410 was unlocked. It was where Araya Souren had switched the apartment door numbers for the sake of the experiment. The doll replicas of the families whom he had experimented on lived on the other side of the apartment with the actual number.
Enjou Tomoe the doll replica had stayed in unit 405. On the recurrent night which he had killed his mother, he had ran out from it. But his real self had stayed in unit 410, which was originally unit 405 before Araya Souren switched the numbering.
I entered the doorway, noticing obviously that the building was no longer supplied with electricity so everything was dark.
This was the unit where the real Enjou family had stayed in. On the other side, the doll replicas of the same family had relived each day as the last day of their lives, satisfying Araya's experiment of looking at the various ways of dying. His experiment was seemingly a failure though.
It had seemed that Tomoe the doll had gained sentience and changed the entire situation by killing his mother in return rather than the other way round. But nothing could change it since the day would repeat itself.
And besides, he became a tool for Araya to draw Shiki so that he could seal her within the apartment so that she could not stop him from reaching the origin. His main objective was to use this experiment to reach the origin.
I opened the sliding door which was the room of the real Enjou Tomoe. It was similarly dark but my eyes had already became used to it, allowing me to have night vision. As I entered the room, the door slid close by itself.
As I blinked my eyes, I could see the body of the real Tomoe lying on the futon, in the same position as the day he was killed by his mother. Blinking another time, that seemingly real form had disappeared with only the dusty tatami mat of the room being there.
I turned my head to the direction of the voice. There was definitely someone else in the room.
And that voice belonged to Enjou Tomoe. Whether he was real or the replica, it was currently impossible to tell. Even if he was a replica, it was impossible. The Mage Association had cleaned up the apartment, including the replicas.
And even the brains of the original person used to power the replicas at the basement as well.
Nevertheless, whether real or simply a doll, Enjou Tomoe was there. He was just not anyone.
He was Enjou Tomoe.
'I'm surprised you came,' he replied arrogantly as he showed his appearance. The red-haired boy was dressed as usual in his dirty green jacket. 'How's Ryougi been doing?'
I kept silent for a minute.
'I guess I broke my promise. We weren't supposed to meet after this.'
'That's alright. I won't be staying here for long.'
'Enjou,' I paused. 'But you were just a doll with memories implanted by Araya.'
'No doubt. That doll may be a replica but he's one with me. The same thing.'
There was an air of arrogance around Tomoe. He wasn't acting like how he was during that night. A broken person, full of hate and regret then. But he was now happy.
He had said that he would make a fresh start.
He was now making a fresh start but he could not probably exist in this world anymore.
My eyes suddenly looked down, noticing that there was indeed the body of Enjou Tomoe. It was not a nice sight to see. Six months after death, the body had decomposed totally, leaving only the hair and skeleton in place alongside the clothing.
The other Enjou Tomoe chuckled.
'It must be pretty embarrassing to see me like that, eh?'
'No...I'm glad that you're free of your pain now.'
Tomoe put his hands into his pockets.
'You didn't answer my question. How's Ryougi now?'
'Shiki is well,' I responded without any hesitation.
'That key,' he interrupted. His head was hanging low. But soon after he turned it up to look at me.
I dug into my pockets, taking out the key which Tomoe had passed to me. The key to Ryougi's apartment.
'A home is not a home without a key.'
He was looking intently at me.
'You got to protect it from now on. And Ryougi as well.'
'I will, Enjou.'
'Me and Ryougi are of the same kind, but she would be better off with a guy with a poetic name.'
He laughed heartily, shuffling his red hair with his fingers.
'Don't think of Ryougi as someone who doesn't have suitors. She does have suitors, and many of them too.'
Tomoe pointed to himself with his thumb.
I kept silent.
'Well I've got to go now,' he responded cheerfully. 'Be careful of what I just said, Kokutoh. Saraba.'
He waved with one arm after saying the final word of farewell. And the red-haired boy turned towards the wall of his room.
In the next blink I made, he had vanished alongside with the former body. I was now completely alone in the empty room previously occupied by the real Enjou Tomoe.
I looked at my palm which the key he had gave me that night rested on.
Enjou Tomoe was truly noble for someone who would give up the person he loved directly to his rival in love.
Without a single regret, I walked out of the room, filled with the determination to protect this key as he had said. Shiki's home. And Shiki as well.
It was yet another sunny day. I sat by the restaurant table, seemingly waiting for someone.
As my senses told me, I could feel someone coming up to my table. My eyes moved up to look at the person before me.
Red-haired and dressed in the same green jacket, the person whom I had met in a dream before stood before me.
'Excuse me, miss, may I sit here for a while?'
'I may not stay for long,' I responded to his request. 'Someone is waiting for me.'
'Me too. Shall we wait together?'
'Do as you please,' I answered coldly.
'Thank you, Ryougi.'
A few minutes passed by. We had not initiated a single conversation but just waiting for someone to come meet us.
'Ryougi,' he started the ball rolling. 'That's a nice kimono you're wearing today.'
I was wearing a white kimono as usual. Enjou, the boy sitting opposite me, had seen me frequently in that when he had stayed over for the night. It was nothing new to him too.
'Enjou, is that a pickup line of yours?'
I interrogated him with a calm and cold composure.
'As usual of you, Ryougi.'
I remained silent again, waiting for the moment to arrive.
I spoke out suddenly. Enjou turned to look at me.
'You gave it to Kokutoh, didn't you?'
Enjou laughed for a minute.
'I can't protect your home anymore, Ryougi. So he's the replacement.'
A moment of silence followed again. The only noise we could hear was that of the other customers in the restaurants talking again.
My eyes caught something out in the window. There was a figure out there waving to me. I could not recognise who that was. But that person was definitely the person I was waiting for.
'I've got to go, Enjou.'
I got up from my seat.
I paused what I was doing. Enjou's voice was more solemn now.
'I won't be seeing you again,' he spoke out the words slowly. 'I won't be able to protect you anymore.'
I found that funny and laughed out loud.
'A murderer protecting a murderer? That was funny.'
Enjou never failed to amuse me with such strange words. It was no wonder in addition to that good look he possessed, it was highly probable that he would have found a girlfriend if not for that weird girl who wanted to see the heart of all things.
I began to leave the seat. I felt a sudden pull by my hand.
The red-haired boy hugged me for a moment, surprising me.
I gave a chuckle at what he was doing.
'Are you not afraid that I might stab you suddenly?'
'Just for this minute.'
He squeezed me with his might. It was a warm hug. There was a saying that the body of a boy was always rather warm.
He released his grip on me, allowing a small distance away from me.
Without a word, I turned behind facing the exit door. The red-haired boy turned towards the other exit.
We were going separate paths from now on.
Before I reached my hand on the door-knob, I turned behind to look at Enjou. He was also looking back at me.
His mouth was speaking those words but there was no voice. I waved back at him, reciprocated by the same action by him.
Both of us turned the knob of the doors leading to our different paths.
Disclaimer: Kara no Kyoukai and its characters are properties of Kinoko Nasu. The first part of this one-shot is taken and translated from the original chapter, Paradox Paradigm part one.