This is Armeria. Thank you for your many years of support. It's sad. After all these years, I still can't handle writing any long fanfiction. I still love TWEWY, but life has been... Well, you know all that from reading my author's page years ago!
Instead, I present you a conclusion to "The CopyCAT's Gift" as a gift to all of you. It's a bit rough. For now, this is all I can do. Enjoy.
The CopyCAT's Gift
Post-game. Joshua and Neku. Neku aspires to become a "composer," and Joshua seeks to fulfill Neku's wish his own way.
Disclaimer: I do not own The World Ends With You.
Chapter 2: The CopyCAT's Song
"Uprising Star Pianist Neku Sakuraba Plays a One-Hit Wonder!"
Neku's encore became a hit. All across Shibuya, Joshua heard that song over and over again. He even heard choice parts and pieces of that distinct music echoing in nearby districts.
Each day, that music with its alluring voice spoke to him, "This is a song about us."
Each day, that music grated Joshua's nerves. It angered him and confused him to no end.
He felt betrayed.
"Pianist Neku Sakuraba Refuses to Release Music to the Public. Rumored to Have Dedicated Song to Girlfriend."
Despite how many requests Neku had received to play at a different district, different province, and even a different country, he never left Shibuya once. He only played in Shibuya- either at the concert stage in public or simply at WildKat in private. Each time that ever happened, Joshua steered far, far away from him.
Neku also refused to let the public have that music, but that did not stop anyone from playing an old recording of the concert, ripping the music, or humming that forbidden tune in the streets. The music floated in the city even after months had passed and seasons had changed.
"777 Concert Will Feature Guest Star Neku Sakuraba!"
By that time, Neku had composed other noteworthy pieces that grew much hype, but fans and people across Shibuya- perhaps across the districts of Japan and beyond- would always remember that one music piece that had plucked and played the heartstrings of every listener, including the Composer of Shibuya.
"Stop the music..." Joshua said. His voice was a faint whisper compared to Shibuya's desire for that piece. His hands balled into tight fists. "I said stop the music."
Joshua did not mind if Neku dedicated every other or any other music piece to his girlfriend Rhyme. That innocent girl- one of the few sparkling Souls in the city- deserved it. If Neku wanted music like the one he had played as an encore so badly, Joshua would have come up with a different but equally stunning piece even if his name remained anonymous in the end.
But not this one.
"Stop it!" he shouted.
Joshua felt betrayed, because Neku Sakuraba had copied him.
Neku did not copy everything. Hidden deep inside of what was Neku's Music, Joshua discovered copied parts and pieces weaved into a deceivingly simple arrangement of notes. But deep down at the core, several of those notes belonged to Joshua. They were all his.
And with that single outburst, that music that Shibuya loved died at his command.
On that same day and many, many days to follow, Neku stopped playing.
"Prodigious Pianist Sakuraba Stops Playing in Public."
It did not mean Neku stopped trying to play. Every so often like now, Neku would poke at the ivory keys at WildKat in private. Specifically, he poked at them in hopes to repeat some bit of that particular music. Every so often, the light in his eyes would kindle for a split second when he managed to remember a few notes from that piece. But that was a rarity.
When Joshua had wiped out that music's existence, Neku had at that same point lost his radiance. For the most part, Neku never again played like how he used to or how Joshua taught him.
"Boss, stop acting so childish. It's only music-"
"Don't tell me that is only music, Sanae," Joshua answered bitterly.
"Look. When Phones spread that music, he actually did you a favor, J. Without knowing, he was helping you patch good old Shibuya's wounds from all those Taboo Noises that one time," Sanae said.
"Ones that you helped create," Joshua added.
"Stop holding a grudge against Phones. Even if you weren't going to imprint the idea into his little head, Phones did the job just fine. Just let it go. You didn't have to go and ruin-"
"I didn't ruin him." Joshua closed his eyes. "He set himself up for it."
"J... He is leaving Shibuya. He might never come back."
"See if I care."
Neku had copied something very dear to Joshua and something Joshua had only shared to Neku and no other person. Joshua never wanted anyone else to hear or know about it. But Neku, in turn, shared it to the whole world around him.
Neku stopped playing at once the moment he noticed Joshua nearby. His hands lowered. He bit his lower lip. Neku sensed him right away.
"Once you disappear, you really do know how... to disappear, Joshua," Neku said.
Only then did Joshua notice something a bit off about Neku. Neku had a gigantic black eye along with several other bruises. If Neku hadn't given such a defeated look, Joshua might have deemed it "bearly funny."
But what Joshua heard next from Neku shocked him. He had no time to consider laughing.
"...If you want me to forget you so badly, why didn't you just yank that memory of you out of my head?"
Joshua frowned. He never wanted Neku to forget him.
"...Beat smacked me good after he found out that his kid sister and I were never dating. I deserved it considering how much trouble that incident gave them," Neku said. His voice started breaking. "And you. Say something. What did I do wrong, Joshua? Is it really that bad... that terrible that I want to remember my best...?"
Neku never finished that sentence. He took a deep breath as Joshua remained very quiet.
"You disappeared after that concert. You stopped showing up at WildKat. Did you think that some one-hit wonder was all that would make me happily forget your existence? Joshua, answer me!"
Neku did not play that music to irritate him. He did not play it as a dedication to his girlfriend.
"I fell in love with your Music."
Joshua closed his eyes.
"...As ridiculous as this sounds, I fell in love with your Music, Joshua." Neku's head was bowed low. "I played It so many times. Only in Shibuya. Only that small part. Do you know why?"
It was the first part Joshua ever showed Neku. It was also the first time Joshua ever let anyone hear him- hear his Music and all the imperfections. His Music was something not even Joshua ever liked until Neku played It.
All those times, Neku played that music, a small and copied part of Joshua's Music, for Joshua alone to hear and appreciate. In a clumsy but delicate way that everyone in Shibuya fell in love with, Neku kept playing that music over and over again. And all that time, Neku was only trying to call out to him.
The huge duffel bags on the piano bench fell to the floor. Neku went to his feet. Neku's eyes widened when their eyes met for the first time in years.
"...Does it hurt, Neku?" Joshua asked.
And Neku, for the first time in a long while, cracked a smile. He leaned forward and asked him, "What do you think?"
With Joshua right in front of him, Neku no longer needed to copy, because Neku had what he wanted more- more than Joshua's Music.
Neku had him.
Originally planned as a short multi-chapter fic, this fanfiction turned into a two-shot like How Could You Neku? Feel free to review this fic.