It had to be asked.

Really, the young Ouma Shu had the question coming for a very, very long time.

The bearer of the guilty crown was not the type of man that could lead armies with charisma and pride. The boy knew he had self-esteem issues; knew he had problems reaching out and connecting with other people. It really did not help that others saw him for what he wasn't, and chose to connect themselves with that self-stylized hero that their rose tinted glasses could see.

And when the reality that the hero was never there in the first place shattered in front of their very eyes, they would toss whatever respect and morsel of friendship they had for him to the nearest bin, never once wondering about the sad boy that was left, because they had not really bothered to see the real Ouma Shu, because that boy was not worth their notice.

Even though that kind boy had been trying to reach out to them all along, only for his hands to catch fire, time and again with neither falter nor reprieve, as he desperately tried to hold onto the sun.

Shu had never wanted to be popular, but he did want to have people he would call friends; people that would try and understand him as he did, them.

And throughout his wordless cries for companionship, one girl had seen the lonely boy's turmoil, and not for the first time did Ouma Shu curse himself for not realizing how important sweet Menjou Hare was, until GHQ snatched her from between his fingertips, all because he was not firm enough to enforce some semblance of discipline into the anarchic population that called for him, elected him against his wishes, to lead them.

He hadn't wanted anybody, especially Hare, sweet, sweet Hare, to perish because of his inaction. He had only wanted to treat everyone equally, empathizing with Souta's diminished self-esteem because he, too, had been there, and he had bonded with the raven-haired boy he exchanged oaths of trust and friendship with.

Where the hell was that trust when the agitated youth decided to prove his worth with a ragtag bunch who knew nothing of what it meant to fight in the front lines?

Souta was no Ouma Shu.

Shu understood this.

Souta was not pushed around by Tsutsugami Gai. Souta was not manipulated by Tsutsugami Gai to do his bidding, and Souta was not sent to the front lines with the fate of platoons of men resting on his unprepared hands.

And when Ouma Shu had finally cracked under the pressure, because no one bothered to think how a civilian like him with absolutely no ties to Funeral Parlor could possibly think that Gai's cryptic words wasn't law, that maybe, just maybe, Ouma Shu had his own can of worms that he needed help disposing, that maybe he was uneasy about not being told what exactly Funeral Parlor did or why did they have to free mass murderers and why the hell was a civilian like him forced into the front lines?

Why the hell didn't Tsutsugami Gai take the vial from him way back when this started in Roponggi when Shu had offered it to the man?

Then he would have been spared of this mess, and live as obliviously as he could, and possibly made a friend along the way, instead of having the fate of his fellow students thrust into his quivering palms.

Whenever everyone's perceived Ouma Shu had cracked and the hesitant youth underneath was exposed, nobody had bothered asking him how he felt.

Except dear sweet Hare.

Ayase had said she understood how he felt when Hare died.

No, that woman clearly didn't.

Because Ayase did not know how it felt to have the only person in the world that connected with you crumble to dust before your very horrified eyes. Ayase never had the pressure of using other people's hearts, peeking into their innermost beings, in order to make sure battles were won, because many more lives rested solely on your shoulders.

Ayase always had Tsugumi and the rest of Funeral Parlor to lean on.

And Ouma Shu…

Had Hare.

Just Hare.

Always Hare.

Only Hare.

When Shinomiya Ayase had realized that no, she really didn't have a clue as to what Ouma Shu truly felt about Hare's death, she had done exactly what people who finally saw the real Shu did.

She rejected him.

Because they could not accept that the man they saw with their rose tinted glasses was really Ouma Shu.

So the question had to be asked.

Was Ouma Shu a masochist?

Did Ouma Shu enjoy being strung up like a marionette and discarded like a broken toy? Did Ouma Shu enjoy the holes stabbed into his chest every time he tried to help people?

Shu never wanted his cursed power, never wanted to have the lives of people rest on his hands, and yet he did try his best to save them, even if he knew the smiles and appreciations they gave him were as fair-weathered as it came.

There was that fiasco of an incident, when Ouma Shu had finally had enough of the pressure and responsibility that was unjustly thrust onto him and he had lashed out, intending to leave Funeral Parlor.

Shinomiya Ayase had gone after him, and when her rose tinted glasses finally saw a glimpse of the hurting boy inside, she could not stomach the hard truth and was about to lash out until Gai intervened.

And Gai, instead of trying to shoulder Shu's burden, had threatened the beaten youth, and when Ouma Shu never wavered, had discarded him thoughtlessly and declared him dead to Funeral Parlor.

It was a fate that, despite the soul-wrenching ache it caused in his chest, Ouma Shu was only too happy to have, because this meant that he need not have the lives of people that never thought of him as a friend and thought of him as a glorified weapon on his aching shoulders.

Less than a day had passed when a broken Funell barged into his home carrying Tsugumi's scathing anger as the young girl summarily threw all her frustrations at the most convenient punching bag because Ouma Shu would never speak up in self-defense, despite members of Funeral Parlor disowning him and still going through the mission by themselves, knowing the risks.

And Ouma Shu, the sentimental youth that he was, could not refuse to help even those that had refused to help him.

Was he really that much of a masochist?

And now, the process had repeated itself.

Gai had returned from the grave and with him, those that Shu had tried to protect at the cost of his heart had turned against him with their guns trained. Tsutsugami Gai had severed his arm and taken his power for his own and looking not the least remorseful about how well Shu had been played.

Shu had survived.

He had wanted to die, then, and just let everything end, and yet die he couldn't.

Instead, Shu had managed to regain his power, because the Void Genome was him and started from him.

And now, Shu was once more called into action, because the faceless strangers that had trained their guns at him were now at the mercy of GHQ, having been herded by the revived Gai and backstabbing Arisa to the slaughter, where each one was but a sheath holding weapons for Gai to use at his leisure.

Hadn't he danced this dance before? He knew how this was going to end.

Ouma Shu really shouldn't; he really had no obligation to help them, and every reason to ignore them.

But Ouma Shu, despite lacking in confidence in himself and despite having not formed any chains that tied him to the enslaved population, despite lacking any reason, would still save them.

There was no malice in his action.

There was no ulterior motive or retribution to be had.

And no matter how romantic it sounded, there were no thoughts of martyrdom in his mind.

Much like how Shu had saved the Funeral Parlor that had thrown him away simply because he had the power to help them, Ouma Shu, too, would save the populace that had turned their backs on him, unknowingly out of the kindness that only Hare, sweet and yet soul-crushingly painfully departed Hare, had seen in him.

Because that's just who Ouma Shu was.

And so the question really had to be answered.

Was Ouma Shu a masochist?

A/N: Randomnessssssss~ It's so, so easy to hate Shu because he's an emotional wreck that nobody tried to help, and because he's an uncommon protagonist.

Shu does have one clear characteristic that is both his strength and weakness; he is kind despite living in a world where kindness is taken advantage of.

Heh, GC's approaching its end and yet there are still more mindrapes heading on Shu's way~

Haruka, despite you being a smokin' hot MILF when you were introduced, are the worst mother ever. If Onizuka were here, I bet he wouldn't have any qualms taking your head out with a pile driver!

Lordy, Shu's childhood is so screwed up that it's a wonder he's still trying to help people. Almost every character in the series hasn't been helping, either.

And as much as I loved Ayase when she first appeared, I sorely wanted to slap her back on so many occasions. Tsugumi can die; she's been annoying me since episode one.

Sadly, if I'm right, the writers are going to have fucking Argo, Ayase, and Tsugumi among Shu's new band of merry men alongside Inori when they do topple GHQ.

Let's just see if this time, they can actually understand where Shu's coming from.