"Ashita no Rondeau"
(Rondeau for Tomorrow)
0. Joshou (Prologue)
He had always known that there would be a price. It was one of those things that had trickled to him through his Gate over the years. So when the darkness came to swallow him, he opened his arms to welcome her.
Far away, someone was screaming. "Why? Why! The real you can't be like this!" All around, the jagged black shards of his failures glistened, falling away in slow motion.
"Kageyama!" Someone cried, hanging on to him with all his tiny might, scarcely noticing his own danger. "KAGEYAMA!!"
With all his plans and ambitions disintegrating around him, it seemed a strange thing to do. He smiled. A fitting exit for Kageyama Reiji.
He crooked his knee and with what he felt to be his last strength, kicked the blubbering fool Ukiya Shun back to earth. This was his moment to enjoy alone as the sky opened herself up to him and drew him and all his toy soldiers into its perfect pit. How soft and warm the darkness, how blessed the silence.
So amidst the terror and confusion of the mere mortals left behind, it ends.
She told herself she would not look up. He would have wanted her to watch, he wanted all of them to watch. So she, for one, was not going to give him that satisfaction.
But in the moment of crisis, Megumi discovered several surprising truths about herself: that she could no more keep herself from searching for his diminishing form amongst the figures circling the hole in the sky than she could allow a helpless friend to be injured, and that Ikusawa Ruriko, the bane of her existence, was, in her deepest of hearts, a friend.
She looked down at Ruriko's unconscious face and dropped her pillowing arms quickly as though it were a hot potato.
"I still hate you," she muttered quickly, and slipped away before the rest could catch her, her furiously red cheeks burning the tears from her eyes.
* * *