And as I promised, here's another chapter. and It only took me a few weeks this time!


Chapter 13: Waking

Yomi opened her eyes. Someone had removed her glasses, but the blur around her looked vaguely familiar. She was lying on a couch; that much she could tell. Beside her, in front of the couch, she could also see that there was a table. On it she saw the glasses. Sitting up and putting them on, she took a look around her.

She was in the counseling room, with golden light from the windows casting shadows along the wall. Saya sat in a chair a short way away, reading a book. As Yomi stirred, she looked up

"Ah, so you're awake. Good."

Yomi yawned. "Good afternoon. It's afternoon, right?"

Saya nodded. "Yes, it's afternoon alright." No animosity, no repressed anger; Saya was acting as if nothing were wrong.

"What happened?"

Saya laughed. "Yes, that's the question, isn't it? When you refused to let Dead Master kill Black Gold Saw it must have thrown you from her body. Strength carried you here; you've been in the other world for two hours."

"Two hours! I'm supposed to be in class! They must be wondering where I am!" Yomi tried to stand up, but she felt the room spin around her and fell back against the couch.

"Just relax, I told them you must have fainted from exhaustion and are taking some time to rest up here."

"Thanks."

"It's Strength you should be thanking. She was also the one that sent Mato in after you."

"Um, Saya-chan?" There was an awkward moment of silence while Yomi tried to decide what to say. Saya waited patiently for her to continue. "About what you told me earlier…"

Saya nodded. "I won't pretend that I'm sorry about what I said. Even now, I feel that it was something you needed to hear sooner or later, and I hoped that it would make it easier for you to go home. Guess it kinda backfired on me."

"Is Black Gold Saw alright?"

"Well she's not dead, if that's what you're asking. Beyond that I can't really say. She's been beat up pretty badly."

"And Yuu?"

"For now she's holding off both Dead Master and Black Rock Shooter. None of us are throwing in the towel just yet."

Yomi sighed. "I feel like I'm getting mood whiplash."

"They're called hormones, dear. Everyone your age has them."

The door to the room slid open. Before she had a chance to react a large blur rushed through the door and wrapped itself around Yomi's midriff, leaving her staring down at a pair of familiar short black twintails.

"Yomi! Thank god!"

Yomi giggled and hugged Mato close to her chest. "Yes, yes I'm fine."

There was a look in Saya's eyes. She still disapproved, Yomi could tell, but she was doing her best to suppress that feeling. There was a look of resignation in her eyes and, perhaps, of sadness.

Behind Mato, walking in at a more reserved pace, was Strength. "It's good to see you again, Yomi-chan. For a while there it looked like we'd lost you."

Yomi smiled back as she stroked Mato's hair.

Saya picked four mugs out of her collection. "I'll make coffee."

Yomi was finally able to pry Mato off of her waist when Saya set mugs of coffee down in front of them all. Mato took a long sip from her mug before beginning. "So what's this all about? Yuu didn't really tell me much, and everything you said in that weird other world didn't make a lot of sense."

Yomi fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat. "What I'm about to say is going to sound unbelievable."

Mato shrugged. "Today's been full of unbelievable stuff."

"Well, I suppose the first thing you should know is that I'm not the same Yomi Takanashi that you started the school year with. I'm not even really from this world. I come from a parallel reality, where we've been good friends for a long time. There are some other differences too. Kagari doesn't exist over there, I'm pretty sure Saya-chan didn't either. And we didn't meet Yuu until early this year. Anyway, about a week ago I went to bed as usual in my world and woke up here. I'm not sure how it happened, but suddenly I found myself here in this world with my best friend acting like we'd only just met and some creepy blonde girl in a wheelchair acting like she owns me."

"Oh, so when you said that stuff at the festival, you really meant it?"

Yomi nodded. "All of it happened back in my world."

"I guess that explains a lot of the weird way you've been acting. But it still doesn't make sense. How did you get here in the first place?"

Yomi leaned back and sighed. "I have absolutely no Idea. And it doesn't seem that Dead Master does either."

"So pretty much no one knows what's going on? That's not good."

"What's worse is that it means I have no idea of how to get back home."

"Why not just stay here for a while," Mato suggested, "We've only just become friends."

"It's not that easy. The longer I'm here, the more problems that my Other Self causes. Just being in this world I cause problems for you. Dead Master's already killed once, and she would have killed Gold Saw and Yuu if you hadn't stopped me." Yomi hugged her knees to her chest, desperately trying to not break down. "I'm dangerous here no matter what I do."

Yomi felt a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see Strength smiling down at her. "Don't worry about it. There's nothing you really can do except wait and watch and pray, so just keep calm and carry on."

"But I—I mean Dead Master almost—"

"We'll figure something out to get by. None of us are ready to give up just yet. Just don't try to force anything, and we'll do the rest."

Mato put her hand on Yomi's other shoulder and smiled. "Yuu's right. You know, it's like they say, good things come to—"

Mato trailed off. Yomi looked over at her. "Mato?"

Mato collapsed against Yomi's shoulder, her eyes glazed over.

"Mato!"

What in god's name was happening?

Yomi shook her friend's shoulders. "Mato! Wake up, Mato!"

Then, suddenly, as if nothing had happened, Mato's eyes refocused.

"Oh, thank god you're alri—" That expression on Mato's face. She had seen it so many hundreds of times before. That pouting glare that Mato used to tease her.

"Mato?"

"Geez, Yomi. I always have to come and save you."