Lux-Pain (Continuation for Bridge Ending)
Written By: Ryu-Takehshi
"Guys…" Mika Nozaki began as the six friends sat on the school rooftop and looked into the sky, remembering the young man known as Atsuki Saijo. "We have definitely met an irreplaceable friend…"
Akira Mido, Rui Yamase, Yayoi Kamishiro, Shinji Naruse, and Ryo Unami… nodded their heads in agreement. It would take a force stronger than nature itself, to make any of them truly forget Atsuki Saijo.
One year later…
"Nozaki, you'd better get to school. I'll handle things here…"
"Got it, thanks Ms. Razzly!
"Rui, wake up or you'll be late!"
"Alright, alright… I'm on my way now…"
"Akira, you moron, get up it's the first day of senior year!"
"Do I really have to get up now?"
"Manager, wait! You forgot your school bag again!"
"Right, thanks Ai! I'll be going now!"
"Shinji, you're off the computer already? Umm… well, head for school then…"
"Yeah, okay… I'm practically there!"
"Hey sis, you don't have to take me today… Just get to school on time, alright?"
"Are you sure Nami? What's gotten into you?"
Normally, Yayoi would be ready for school way before Nami even woke up; and Shinji wouldn't even think of heading to school in the first place. Akira, Mika, and Rui were explainable; and Ryo forgetting his bag was usual. So… why did this day feel important to all of them? What's so different about this year? For some reason, the six of them felt the need to get to school right away and figure out on their own… Why was this different?
Aoi Matsumura could be seen waving and welcoming students at the quad. It was a very typical scene; nothing different there…
"Good morning Ms. Matsumura!" Rui beamed as she walked onto the school property.
"Yamase," Aoi smiled happily, "It's a pleasure to see your smiling face again! I'm sure all of your friends are eager to see you!"
At the mention of the word friends, Rui felt a sudden sadness grow inside her heart. She couldn't explain it, but Rui felt the need to say: "Except for one…" It didn't make sense to her; weren't all of her friends here today?
Aoi questioned Rui's sudden silence. "Is everything alright?"
"Y-yeah…" Rui nodded, trying to force a smile. "Everything's fine… See you later Ms. Matsumura!"
Aoi watched Rui walk off with a concerned face. She felt something too. Something was missing from this school; something very important, but neither Aoi, nor Rui could figure it out.
Meanwhile, Akira and Mika were sitting together in the Café, catching up with each other. "I can't believe were seniors!" Mika sang happily.
"Quiet down, would you?" Akira sighed, "Honestly, people are starting to stare!"
"Who cares about that?" she laughed. "I'm their superior starting today! No joke, today I felt so good and rearing to go to school, but I had no idea why!"
"You felt that too…?" Akira nodded, "For some reason, I just felt like something important was gonna happen and I needed to be at school to witness it…"
"I know what you mean… I thought it was just the feeling that I would see all of my friends again but…" Mika paused. Just like Rui, at the word friends, Mika and Akira felt empty.
"He's gone…" Akira muttered; not really knowing what he had said.
"Hmm…? Who's gone?" Mika asked.
Akira shook his head, "I dunno… the words kinda just came out as I sighed…" The two shrugged to each other as they got up and headed for the classroom.
On the way to class, Ryo and Shinji ran into each other in the hallway. "Oh, morning Unami…" Shinji greeted him.
"Yeah," Ryo nodded, "G'morning Shinji. How goes it?"
"Everything's fine, I guess…" Shinji sighed.
"Are you sure? You sound a little bit down today."
"Meh, I dunno… I had a really great feeling and rushed to school this morning. Something told me that I shouldn't skip out today because something awesome was gonna happen. But… so far, there's nothing."
Ryo patted his friend on the shoulder, "Yeah, it was the same for me too. For some reason I felt really depressed when I got to school. As appose to this morning; I was in such a hurry to get here for who knows why."
"Well, let me in on it if you find out why, k'?" Shinji shrugged as the two parted for class.
"Good Morning Mr. Mays!" Yayoi smiled as she and everyone else entered the classroom for art.
"Good morning everyone, it's great to see all of you again!" Arthur beamed as his students, new and old, sat down. He began class, "For today, I want you to paint or draw what you feel. So, close your eyes and imagine your feelings as an object. You may even draw with your eyes closed if you'd prefer. Simply let you pencil or brush flow across the page. Begin…"
At the end of the period, Arthur walked around the class and inspected everyone's sketchbook with a smile on his face. When he came across Yayoi's, however, he paused and stared at it.
"Kamishiro, that's different… What did you draw?"
Yayoi looked at her drawing with a frown on her face, "I-I'm not sure exactly…"
The drawing showed a young boy holding a rose out, as if he were giving it to someone right in front of him. It was strange; Yayoi had written the names of all of her friends on the petals of the rose. And, the boy's face was wet with tears, like he didn't want to give the rose away, but was in any case; like he was forced to by something bigger and stronger than him, something he couldn't fight from.
"I can't grasp the meaning quite clearly…" Yayoi sighed, "I'm sorry Mr. Mays…"
"N-no Kamishiro, it's not that… It's just…" he paused as he stared hard at the boys face. "This boy seems so familiar… Or, is it just me?"
Yayoi glanced at the face of the boy she had drawn; she felt something too. It was as if she had drawn and seen this boy somewhere before. And she had a feeling of longing; like she really wanted to see him again and hear his voice calling her name. She felt a deep, sort of unknown love for the character she had drawn, and she couldn't explain it.
Arthur shook his head as the bell rang. He smiled down at her, "Anyways, it's an amazing drawing, nonetheless… Nice work, as always, Kamishiro!"
Yayoi nodded, never taking her eyes away from the boy's face; his short, light-coloured hair, his almost feminine face, and, most importantly, his piercing black eyes. There was something almost nostalgic about this boy. Who was he?
While Rui made her way to the Café that lunch period, she passed by the Teacher's Lounge. As she glanced inside quickly, her eyes widened at what she saw.
A very familiar looking boy with silver hair and sharp black eyes was standing and talking with Ms. Hino and Ms. Matsumura. Rui gulped as she looked a bit longer. She knew this boy and she was sure of it, but for some strange reason, she couldn't recall anything about him; as if she had only known him in a dream.
The boy spoke; even his voice sounded familiar. "Thanks for the tour Ms…"
"You're very welcome!" Aoi smiled, "We'll see you here bright and early tomorrow, alright?"
"Okay…" the boy bowed before leaving through another door, "Until then…"
When Rui saw it, she dashed to the Café with excitement, urgency, and confusion in her eyes.
She burst through the doors and spotted everyone sitting down at a table near the back. She rushed over there and slammed her hands down.
"G-guys…" she panted, trying to catch her breath.
"Whoa Rui… what's wrong?" Mika asked as she pulled a chair out for her exhausted friend.
"Calm down Rui," Akira told her, "You might end up fainting and going to the hospital again!"
She looked at Akira with a serious face, "You all…" she took a breath. "You all remember that, right? That time I went to the hospital because of a fainting spell… it was early October last year, I think…"
The group at the table nodded. "How could we forget?" Ryo smiled, "You got us worried for no reason!"
"R-right…" Rui nodded, "And I'm sorry about that but… I need to… Uhh, I mean… Umm, can you guys tell me something? It's totally important!"
"What is it…?" Shinji wanted to know.
"That day… No, that month… there was someone there with us, right? You guys brought someone along to check up on me."
The five thought for a moment; they definitely recalled someone of immense importance, but a whole year had pushed the memory to the far corner of their minds.
"I… I remember…" Mika began, "your cell phone charm… There was something about it and I gave it to someone… to give to you… Who was it?"
"I remember an all-night debate with that person… It was me, him, and… I think Kiryu too…" Ryo nodded, "Was he a close friend…?"
"Yeah…!" Akira added, "He was a really close friend, but…" he grunted, "I don't know the name…" He slammed his fist onto the table, "It feels like he and I were really close, like best friends! Were we childhood friends or something? Dammit, I know I have to remember! It feels so important, and it's getting me pissed off!"
Yayoi suddenly felt the need to reach for her bag. She began to frantically search the pages of her sketchbook and stopped at the drawing she had done today. She was just about to show everyone and ask if the boy had anything to do with it.
But, suddenly, "Is there a Yayoi Kamishiro here…?" a teacher called out.
Yayoi stood up, "That's me… what is it?"
"A little girl with a big hat is calling for you out in the quad."
"Oh Nami, not again…!" Yayoi sighed, "Excuse me guys, I'll see you in class…"
Outside, Nami sat by the fountain and waited patiently. When Yayoi came running out to meet her, Nami looked up at her sister and frowned. "Wait…" Nami pouted, "Y-you're here alone… Is he not here yet?"
"Who…? Nami, what do you mean?"
"Y'know, Bro… he didn't arrive today?"
"Who's Bro? Is he one of your animal friends?"
"No, Bro's a person and one of your best friends…"
"My best friends…?" Yayoi repeated, "What do you--" She was cut off by the sound of Nami's phone.
"Whoops, sorry sis!" Nami laughed as she answered. "Hello, you've got Nami Kamishiro! Oh, hey…! Where are you? I'm at the school, already! Oh, today was only the visit…? Okay! I guess I got the date wrong, huh? Alright, we'll all meet up tomorrow then, k'? It'll be so great to see you again!"
Her voice became softer, "Y'know, even though I'm the only one who remembers right now… I'm sure that deep down, everyone's longing to see your face and hear your voice again. We really missed you! And I know that wherever Mint and Melody are, they're happy that you're back too! Mhmm… yeah I know… Okay, see you then! Bye-bye!"
"Nami, who was that…?"
"My bro, who else…?" Nami smiled widely as she walked off. "Oh, I can't wait till tomorrow! It's gonna be so awesome!"
Yayoi sighed as she watched Nami leave, "I wish there was someone she would actually listen to…" Her eyes widened suddenly as she had a flashback.
She saw herself talking to someone else; but it was blurry and she couldn't see the face. She could make out the background, it looked like Yuhigaoka park. She could hear her own voice asking, "When you see Nami, could you tell her to eat dinner at home? I know that she'll listen to you!"
Yayoi shook her head and turned to the clock tower; it was nearly time for class, so she walked inside the school. "What was that…?" she thought as she sat in class, "Would you call it a vision? No… it seemed so familiar, so… would it be called a flashback? When did that happen, and… who was I talking to?"
Yayoi wasn't the only one struggling through her memory. Ever since Rui mentioned the unknown (or rather, forgotten) boy at lunch, the six were trying to force their minds into remembering.
"Sweet Ring…" Words swirled around in Akira's head, "Something about Toy Box… and a fight… I didn't want to get caught, but he saw me… He promised not to tell… He was a true friend… Disappeared… He's gone… My best friend, where are you…?"
Ryo felt as if his head was going to burst with random words that had to have some sort of meaning. "Very knowledgeable person… We debated… Hibiki Kiryu and I… And him too… it took all night… lots of fun… It was about reading minds… He had a strange power… like Rui… But, he was so kind… Impossible to forget, but we did anyway… Who are you…?Please come back…!"
Mika couldn't understand what was going on. Whenever she closed her eyes, she saw dark blue clouds gathering around her heart. "Sweet Ring… and the cemetery with Akira… Really good at keeping secrets, I could trust him with anything… He was there… trying to help us… Rui at the hospital… The Cell Phone Charm Gift… Homemade cookies… The military on the Seagull rooftop… I never said thank you… My helpful friend… I miss you…"
Shinji sighed as he sat in the PC terminal. He didn't feel like going on the computer… It was strange for him, but he kept thinking over about what Rui mentioned at lunch. "Cool guy… Not a show-off… not like Hibiki Kiryu… M-Agency… Mika Nozaki…lots of help… Kinda scary… in a good way… got along with everyone… Made lots of friends… All of a sudden… things went crazy…! He saved us all… and then left… WHERE…?"
Rui couldn't even fight back a few tears as she pushed herself to remember. She didn't cry because she missed the boy, however; she cried because even though she tried, her mind wouldn't remember. "He had a strange past… KEI… It scared me…KEI… so sad… KEI…unfortunate… KEI…First Day…KEI… School Tour… KEI… mysterious and quiet… KEI… but, the nicest person in the world… KEI… Too much sadness… KEI… needs friends…KEI…I'll help him…! KEI… My close friend… I need you here… KEI TONO…!"
The emptiness and sadness stayed with the six throughout the entire school day, and remained when they got home. There was a horrible feeling in Yui's gut when she saw Rui's sad face. Kenichi constantly mocked Akira, but he just ignored it and slumped to his room. Yuzu was shocked at the fact that Shinji didn't show up at the Net Café. Ryo went to Tohodo and locked himself in his room, despite Ai's constant complaints. Mika messaged Razzly, saying that she wouldn't be able to make it to the news broadcast today…
And then, there was Yayoi… Yayoi came home, without even acknowledging Nami's usual questions. Nami sadly watched her older sister walk into her room and slam the door behind her. Faint crying could be heard from inside Yayoi's room. "No…!" Yayoi cried, "Why can't I remember you?! Who are you…? I… I want to remember, I really do… I want to remember who you are! I want to hear your voice and see your face! Come back to us… Come back into our thoughts! I know that you helped me with something… Something important…! Did you save me…? That's what it feels like… Please God! Please return him to us… We need him… We miss him…"
Nami could feel her sister's sadness growing in her own heart as she listened to the cries that came out of her room. The only other time she was ever like this was when she was about to commit suicide. Nami wanted to come inside and comfort her, hug her, and tell her not to cry; but, she knew that she could do better than that… much better…
As fast as lightening, Nami whipped out her cell phone and dialled as fast as she could.
"Hey Atsuki, what're you doing right now?"
"I just finished setting up my old apartment… Unami walked right passed me and I thought our surprise was ruined. Thank God he didn't notice me at all…"
"Yeah… uhh, Atsuki…?"
"Yeah… what is it?"
"Do you remember what I said to you on the day that you were leaving… on the bridge… Do you remember? I said: 'Even if you can make someone forget about an important encounter… you can't erase the memory… However far you go, however much time passes--'"
"You're memory will last…" Atsuki smiled, "You think I'd forget that…?"
"Well… umm, your friends from that organization tried to take away their memories, right?"
"But, just today… I-I think someone saw you at the school… Maybe Rui or Akira…"
"Yeah… but, since your friends tried to erase their memories, everyone wants to remember you and can't because they can't find it in their minds."
Atsuki didn't reply.
"Everyone is depressed. I can hear Yayoi crying from her room… She says that she wants to remember you… everyone wants to remember you. She asks God to send you back because there's emptiness in everyone's heart without you…"
"I see… I didn't realize it would have that effect…"
"Atsuki, I was wondering… I know that we planned to surprise them tomorrow but, everyone's just so sad. Do you think we could make something of today?"
"Great…! I'll message everyone the invite and I'll call you back with the time and place! Oh, this is gonna be so much fun!"
The two nodded from either sides of their phones and hung up. Atsuki went to take a walk around town; but Nami, however, continued dialling on her cell phone and sending texts to everyone.
Message from: n_ (Nami Kamishiro)
Hey everyone! It's Nami Kamishiro here… I feel really bad seeing you all like this, so I'm planning an awesome get together. Right Here Right Now! I'm gonna get my sister to bake some cookies. Akira, could you bring some cake? Rui, I want you to pick up some burgers and Triple Step. This will be really fun and make everyone happy, I promise!
Message sent to:
m_ (Mika Nozaki); r_ (Rui Yamase); r_ (Ryo Unami); a_ (Akira Mido); s_ (Shinji Naruse)
Nami sighed as she softly knocked on Yayoi's door. It had gotten a little quieter, but Nami could still hear a faint whimpering sound; the kind that Melody used to make when she was upset.
"Yayoi…" Nami whispered as she opened the door. Her older sister's eyes were red from crying and her face was soaked from tears.
"N-Nami… what is it?"
"Umm… Everyone's going to Rainbow Hill to watch the sunset. I thought, maybe, you wanted to come. I'll help you make cookies!"
Yayoi used the last of the tissues and smiled at her younger sister. "That sounds great. Let's get cooking, k'?"
Sunset was approaching and everyone was on their way to Rainbow Hill. Nami had told Yayoi to go on ahead of her, because Nami knew she still had to contact the 'guest of honour'.
Meanwhile, Atsuki was walking along the streets of Kisaragi. He smiled to himself and muttered, "I'm finally home…" He paused for a moment and thought, "Wait… Yeah, I guess I could start calling this place home…"
Suddenly he felt a large blue shinen… No, multiple blue shinen. And they were all merged into one. He tried to focus on pinpointing it because, now he didn't have Natsuki. He was just about to lock on to it, when his cell phone rang. It was the ring tone he used for Nami; but, in any case, no one remembered his number besides her.
"Okay Atsuki, everything's ready! All you need to do is drop by--"
"I'm sorry Nami" Atsuki cut in, "but, there's many large shinen that are all focused into one area. I have to erase it for now. But, I'll be there as soon as I can…"
"B-but Atsuki…!" Nami began as he hung up. Nami sighed as she walked to Rainbow Hill; her plan was pointless now.
Atsuki ran up and down the streets of Kisaragi searching for the group of shinen. Even though he 'quit' the Fort, he still made it his responsibility to handle shinen with Sigma. It was second nature to him.
He finally found it as he walked up the stairs and entered the area quietly. He could hear the faint sounds of voices conversing; very familiar voices to Atsuki. He smiled; he wouldn't need Sigma to erase these blue shinen after all.
"This was a great idea Nami…" Akira said as he patted her on the back. "We all really needed to come together today…"
"Man…" Mika smiled sadly, "What a beautiful sky…" Everyone looked up and agreed with her; it was truly stunning.
"Guys…" Yayoi began after awhile. "I'm not the only one, right? I mean, we're all thinking the same thing…" Her eyes dropped to the ground, "We… we want to remember that boy but, for some reason we can't at all… I'm not crazy, right?"
"Relax Yayoi," Rui nodded, "We're all thinking that." A tear streamed down Rui's face as she hugged her knees, "We all want to see him again… hear his voice…"
"Even if I just remembered his name…" Ryo sighed, "I'd be content with that…"
Nami sighed as well; it was great that everyone was trying to have a good time, but it would be much better with Atsuki around, she just knew it.
"You're right Unami," Shinji agreed, "If I could just remember his name…!"
"His name…?" Akira looked up, as if he sensed something. He turned his head towards the entrance to Rainbow Hill and saw a familiar black jacket; familiar silver hair; familiar eyes, and a familiar face. "Atsuki Saijo!" Akira exclaimed suddenly.
Everyone looked at Akira in shock. "Akira, you're a genius!" Mika praised as she shook him by his shoulders, "His name was Atsuki Saijo!
"N-No you idiot…!" Akira snapped. "I meant…" He turned his head as if to direct everyone's attention to where he was looking. "Hey, Atsuki Saijo…!" Akira called, "Do you have any idea how late you are?!"
Mika, Rui, and Yayoi rushed at Atsuki with teary eyes and hugged him. "Atsuki…! Atsuki it's really you!"
"You have no idea how much we missed you!"
"Where did you go…? I'm so sorry I forgot about you?!"
Atsuki wasn't shocked at the girl's reception. It was to be expected so he smiled down at them as if to say: "I'm sorry for leaving…"
Nami smiled at him. Her eyes shown with relief and gratitude as she rushed up and hugged him too. "I got scared for a minute there bro! But, you always come through for us!"
After the girls had calmed down, the four boys stood awkwardly around each other. Ryo was the first to break the tension as hugged Atsuki briefly. "Thanks for coming back…" he smiled.
"No problem Unami… You could say that Kisaragi is like my new home…"
Shinji and Atsuki shook hands. "Don't just leave at random again… or Akira and I'll end up buying Mika and Rui food to stuff their faces in. You need to be here so we don't use up all of our money!"
"Hey…!" Rui protested, "We can hear you!"
All that's left was Akira as he looked to the floor; like he was trying to find the right words to say. Without making any eye contact, he muttered bluntly, "Thanks… Saijo…"
"Akira, you moron," Mika exclaimed, "You said that you and Atsuki were best friends, so hug him and welcome him back, already!"
"Hey shut up…!" Akira yelled back. He took a deep breath and hugged Atsuki for a moment; a moment long enough for every girl to sigh.
"Really, thank you Atsuki!" Akira smiled, looking his 'best-friend' straight in the eyes, "Not just for coming with me to Sweet Ring, or not ratting me out to the teacher… Thanks for coming to Kisaragi! I'm pretty sure everyone is thinking it so, Thanks Atsuki Saijo… you've made life so much better in Kisaragi City!!"
Atsuki smiled as he and Akira sat back down and watched the rest of the sunset. "You know, I suddenly have an appetite again!" Mika laughed as she bit into a triple burger.
"Same here…!" Rui added as she stuffed a handful of fries into her mouth.
"But, I'm seriously not thanking you for this!" Akira sighed as the friends watched the two girls stuff themselves.
Atsuki laughed; he was just about enjoying himself when he suddenly felt a very large shinen… somewhere. But, where was it? Was it because he had run passed Yuhigaoka Apt. Building? Was it the sudden change of atmosphere and shinen? No… this shinen felt too familiar; and close too.
Atsuki excused himself and walked back to the entrance of Rainbow Hill. The shinen was so close to him; like it was in front of him and he just couldn't see it.
But soon, it became clear enough to pinpoint… A small boy with ash-grey hair and a pale feminine face stared back at Atsuki with piercing black eyes that no one ever forgot. It wasn't that the boy was angry with Atsuki; in fact, he was smiling widely.
It was then that Atsuki finally noticed, the shinen wasn't a grey and murderous shinen; it wasn't a blue and sorrowful shinen either; and, of course, it wasn't a shinen infected by silent. The shinen was a bright, happy, yellow one and, more importantly, it was Atsuki's; for the boy that stood in front of him was none other than Kei Tono.
Kei held out a rose and smiled at his counterpart. "This one's for us…" he nodded as he handed it to Atsuki.
"What's this for…?"
"Look at it…"
Atsuki glanced down at the rose. It was the strangest and most amazing thing he'd ever seen. Each petal had one of his friends' faces on it; Akira Mido, Nami and Yayoi Kamishiro, Rui and Yui Yamase, Shinji Naruse, and Ryo Unami.
"Take care of it okay…!" Kei smiled, "They're really important!"
Atsuki nodded, "I know…" he looked back at his friends sitting and looking up at the sky. "You don't have to remind me how important they are… I understand…"
"Have fun Atsuki!" Kei waved as he and the rose began to disappear.
Atsuki nodded at the empty space in front of him before returning to his friends. When he got back and sat down Yayoi let out a heavy sigh. "Thank God…" she muttered.
Akira laughed, "We thought you suddenly left again…! You really need to stop doing that man!"
"Sorry," Atsuki apologized, "I promise I'll stay in Kisaragi…" he sighed contently as he rested on his back against the grassy ground, "I'm not going anywhere for awhile…"
Everyone smiled down at him, and then looked up to watch the last of the sunset. Atsuki smiled as he and his six friends watched. The only sound that could be heard was Mika and Rui fighting over the slices of cake.
Without the sounds of them fighting, this scene would probably have had more meaning and thoughtfulness, Atsuki thought, But, at the same time; the scene would definitely feel… incomplete, without them… Atsuki laughed a little to himself.
He recalled something Edward Steiner had said. It seemed sudden, but a perfect subject to 'debate on' (as Ryo would put it) for this particular sunset.
Edward had said: "Man must learn to co-exist with Silent, because whenever there are bad shinen in the hearts of mankind, Silent will be there to take over. Good luck in your virtually impossible task!"
Atsuki looked to the sky and replied to Edward in his mind, "Guess what Edward… Right here, at this very moment, I just destroyed Silent for the next ten minutes…! Look around, there's not one negative shinen to be found …! Atsuki Saijo just did the virtually impossible!"
Everyone smiled, the six friends were content, as if they had found something dear to them that they had lost and forgotten; and that was true. But, Atsuki smiled for a different reason; he smiled because Atsuki Saijo had finally found the one place where he belonged; and that was true too!