It had been three years since Nagato had shut Kyon and Mikuru in her spare bedroom and frozen them in time, and she knew the exact moment at which she had to open the door again. She had come straight to her apartment after school and sat quietly, waiting for the time to arrive.
What would she happen if she opened the door three minutes early, or a minute too late?
Nagato dismissed the rogue thought without pause. It was as if a stone were thrown into a pool and sank to the bottom instantly, without making even the slightest ripple.
There was no need for questions. There had been no need for questions at any moment in the last three years. Having synchronised with the present Nagato Yuki on the seventh of July three years ago, Nagato had always known exactly what would happen next in her life. No questions were required. Doubt was not only unnecessary, it was impossible. Her knowledge of the future had been beyond question or doubt.
The future up until this point, that was. What came after that moment was a complete change, from total certainty to deepest mystery. Would Nagato come to ask questions, once this time of certainty was over? Would she doubt?
She had known uncertainty and mystery before, long ago, until Kyon walked into her apartment and handed her the key. She had not changed. She had only acted as though she had changed, in accordance with the behaviour others had observed in her since synchronisation.
But hadn't she changed at the moment of synchronisation? Was the Nagato of then different to Nagato now?
Could she change again, now that the synchronised period was over and the future was unknown?
No. It's not time yet.
Abruptly, Nagato stood up from where she had been kneeling at the low table and walked over to the door. There was still a minute remaining until she had to restore the flow of time and open the door. She was the same Nagato as ever. This was certain. There was a correct time to open the door and she would do it at precisely that time. This was also certain. She stared at the door for a moment, and then placed her right palm flat against the door, ready to open it when the moment came.
The door was slightly warm to the touch, which Nagato hadn't expected. It was almost an entirely new sensation. The end of her synchronisation, she realised, had already passed. She had been beyond the point of certainty for several hours now, and nothing remarkable had happened. The unknown future, then, was perhaps not so extraordinary. Perhaps it was nothing to fear. And she was still the same Nagato, was she not?
The warmth reminded her, though, that in the past three years she had never once thought about the two people who lay frozen behind her door. She had never considered their presence. She had not thought of this apartment as being occupied by anyone but herself, and yet two others had been there all this time. She had never even checked to see whether they were okay. Whether they were alive.
Of course they are.
It was a stupid thought. Of course she had never heard a sound from the room or sensed any movement. They were frozen in time. Nothing could possibly change. Kyon and Mikuru were completely fine, just frozen. There was no reason to think that they would have shown any sign of life in three years, just like there was no reason to think of them as anything but baggage taking up space in her home.
And yet, Nagato suddenly realised that she was leaning closer to the door, about to press her ear to the flat surface, just in case there was some kind of sound from inside…
A moment before her ear touched the door, she felt a slight but firm sensation all over her body, an instant of clarity, of recognition, that now it was time.
In a fraction of a moment, she stood straight up again, banished all doubts and questions and illogical thoughts, and opened the door.