It's been a long time since I wrote something for The World Ends With You, but now that Kingdom Hearts 3D is bringing the cast back, I'm inspired. The chapters for this are a little shorter than I'm used to, but that's the point. Expect this story to have a good number of short chapters. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Chapter 1 - Revelations
Neku felt faint as his consciousness slowly dissolved back into reality, a feeling he had come to know all too well. His face was pressed against something warm that smelled strongly of tar and rubber, burning against his skin like his body had been pressed to a massive stovetop. He could faintly hear the sounds of the Scramble Crossing, the unique beeping that signaled the start of the multidirectional stampede of people, feel the multitude of footsteps pounding on the ground, each one sending vibrations through the street and into his head. It was like a heartbeat, the heart of the city pumping life through the streets.
As he tried to sit up, his head spun and he paused, blinking slowly as he tried to get his bearings. Everything around him was familiar, which was bad. He was lying on his stomach in the middle of the Scramble Crossing, crowds of people around him. He could hear the voices, but his mind was as scrambled as the flow of people. It was just like in the Game, waking up to face another week.
All the memories came flooding back into Neku's head: meeting Shiki and teaming up with her, Rhyme being erased to protect Beat, Joshua pushing Neku out of the way of Minamimoto's final attack, Konishi stealing Rhyme's Noise, Kitaniji turning into a snake… and Joshua's final challenge.
"Now Neku, why don't we play one last Game? The winner gets to be the Composer and do whatever he likes with Shibuya. If you win, you decide. If I win, I decide. …Of course, I've already decided…"
The Game… He had lost. Joshua had told him to shoot but he couldn't. They had spent a week together. They had been partners. They had fought side by side and had watched each other's backs. And Joshua had lied to him and betrayed him. Joshua was the Composer of Shibuya, and Neku had ensured that no one stood in the way of his plans for its destruction.
"Why…?" He couldn't understand. He trusted Joshua. He may have been an incredible jerk, he may have cheated and lied about why he was playing the Game, but Neku still trusted him. Joshua and Neku had been alike, two aloof young men who wanted nothing to do with the rest of the people in the world. Neku had realied it partway through the week. Despite Joshua's attitude clashing with his own, they worked well together. He still couldn't understand why Joshua would screw with his mind.
"I assure you I'm not. Life's little crossroads are often as simple as the pull of a trigger."
He couldn't understand Joshua, even though Joshua was the reason he had changed. Joshua had given him a chance to change his life, despite the fact that the Composer himself had taken it. He had learned to make friends because of Joshua, and Joshua had shown him that the world was exactly as he had seen it before: cruel and unforgiving.
"WHAT THE HELL?"
Neku threw back his head and screamed, letting out all his frustrations and anger. Joshua had betrayed him, he had been thrown back into the Scramble Crossing again, and he was utterly alone. His heart pounded and his chest hurt, but nothing compared to how betrayed he felt. He closed his eyes and breathed, trying to calm himself down. There were so many things he would have to do, things to prepare for if he was taking part in another Game… or so he thought.
When Neku opened his eyes again, he was surrounded by a crowd of people, all staring at him with confused expressions. They were whispering amongst themselves, forming a wide circle around where he was sitting on the ground.
"What's wrong with that kid?"
"I didn't see him there a minute ago…"
"He just appeared out of thin air?"
"Should we call a hospital?"
"Yeah, a mental hospital…"
It took all of about two second for Neku to realize that his grasp of the situation was wrong. All the people staring at him were alive, and they wouldn't be able to see him if he was still playing the Game. It took even less time than that for him to realize just how much trouble he could get in if someone decided to call the police. He dove at the crowd, which parted and let him pass, taking off through Shibuya's streets. He ran with his head tucked down, letting his feet guide him until he tripped and sprawled across the ground, his face landing with a thud in the dirt.
As Neku dragged himself back to his feet, staggering as he tried to find something steady himself. His hands met cold concrete and he looked around, his heart beating painfully in his chest - not from the running, but from where he ended up. The cavernous maw of the Shibuya River beckoned him inside, nothing blocking the path. It had been blocked off in the UG, preventing players from getting in, but the barrier had been broken, letting Neku and Beat proceed, thinking that Mr. Hanekoma would be waiting for them at the end.
Now, in the RG, nothing stood in his way, no walls to bar his passage, but Neku couldn't get his legs to move forward. He wasn't sure just what was waiting for him at the end of the tunnel, whether he would find some kind of twisted reality or - possibly even worse - Joshua waiting to kill him again. A wave of genuine fear washed over him. Maybe Joshua with a gun wasn't what he was afraid of. Maybe it was Joshua himself.
Knowing he couldn't face Joshua again, knowing that having just been shot twice in a month by a person he had come to trust, Neku turned away from the Shibuya River and made his way back to the Scramble Crossing, his mind wandering as much as his feet.
When Neku's mind cleared again, he found himself standing in Udagawa, the CAT mural staring down at him. It had once symbolized something special to him, the one place where he felt most at home. Something about the graffiti had resonated with him, making him feel peace in his turbulent, hated life. Now it only meant pain and suffering. CAT was Mr. Hanekoma, who - from all appearances - was working with Joshua.
Neku pressed his hands against the wall, feeling the coolness on his skin. He pressed his forehead against the wall, fighting the overwhelming urge to cry. Life wasn't fair. He knew that truth very well, but now everything was conspiring to work against him. He wanted so much to close himself off from the word again, hiding behind his headphones and shutting out all contact. He knew it would hurt a lot less.
Suddenly, a phone beeped, making Neku jump enough that he slammed his head against the wall. Rubbing his head with one hand, he fished around in his pockets for his phone and pulled it out. Someone had messaged him. Dreading who it might be, he opened up the message and let out a sigh of relief, feeling a smile come to his face.
To: Neku, Beat
Title: What happened?
Are you alright? Everything went black after what happened and when I woke up both of you were gone. Is everyone safe?
Neku leaned up against the wall and worked on sending her a reply, saying simply: "I'm fine over here. Woke up in the Scramble with a major crowd, so I'm alive at least. You guys saved my ass back there. Thanks. Is everyone back how they should be?"
Shiki's reply came less than five minutes later. Beat says everything is AOK on his end and Rhyme is good too. Looks like we won! =) Make sure to keep your promise Neku.
Neku stared at his phone until he finally remembered just what he had promised. They had promised to meet at Hachiko when they got their lives back. That made some of the tension evaporate from his chest. Oshua may have betrayed him, but it didn't mean he didn't have any friends. Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme had shared his betrayal, shared his pain, and even if they hadn't been as devastated by Joshua's actions as he was, they had all fought against him for their lives.
Neku had friends he could rely on.
He texted back: "Let's meet up in one week. I'll see you there."