Damn it, what is happening!?
I stood still, my head leaned at the wall while water from the shower poured into my head.
I'm trying to figure out how the hell did it become like this...
"That's why I'm here, Kouichi. For all your hard work, you deserved some reward for you..."
"There's no such things in this town, Kouichi. If what that voice in your dream told you is true, you've been brought to the timeline where there is no calamity..."
So, that's what that mysterious voice meant by that.
I'm in a new timeline, a better timeline. There's no calamity, no freak accidents, no psycho killers, everyone is alive, including my family. Everything is so perfect.
But...am I really happy?
Something just doesn't feel right.
What about the other timelines?
I don't know if what I did really stopped the calamity for real. Maybe sending Akira Matsumoto back to death really is the answer, but is it the right one?
No, it's the right one. He disappeared from the photo after he got send back to death. No more Extra ones left. Everything's over.
It isn't over for me.
I haven't seen it ended by my own eyes.
I need to make sure everything's really over. I need to make sure that what I did really cause a difference.
What are you thinking, Kouichi?
Aren't you happy enough with this? Everything is perfect for you? You parents alive, your aunt alive, your friends alive, aren't you satisfied yet?
But I didn't...
Didn't you hear what Izumi told you? You've done enough.
Maybe I've done enough.
What's the point going back to that nightmare again?
This place feels like heaven. I wanted this. Why the hell shouldn't I!?
"Kouichi! Your dad said he's about to wet his pants! Hurry up with the shower!"
I heard Reiko's voice coming from outside.
"Right! I'm almost done!"
Screw it, I won't think about this anymore.
I'm here, and that's that.
I was studying for the exam tomorrow when my dad came into my room.
"Oi, Kouichi. You're still up? It's getting late, my son." He said.
"I...I just can't bring myself to sleep, dad." I replied.
He walked toward me.
"Stressed about the exam tomorrow?"
"Nah, it's not that..." I said. "It's...something else."
"What 'bout it? Maybe I could help."
"It's nothing serious, dad. I've gone over it."
"No, you're not, Kouichi. If you were, you'll be sleeping by now."
Wha? What kind of logic is that!?
But...he's right, by the way.
"Hey, dad. Could I...ask you something? Something personal?"
He stared at me curiously.
"Of course, my son! Anything you want!"
"It's...somewhat a little harsh. You won't like this, dad."
"Tell me about it." He said firmly.
I hesitated a bit, before finally ask something that's been messing my mind this past few hours.
"Um, dad. What would you do if...one day...you found out everyone you loved is dead? I mean, dead, all gone from your life. And then suddenly, you woke up and find out you're in another world where everyone is alive, but you still have that...that odd feeling. You have that...that urge to save them no matter what, even if you're perfectly fine with everyone in the present?"
He didn't say anything.
"If you found out a way to save your loved ones in a world where they died, will you do it? Even if you're already happy with them in the present?"
I turned to look at him, he was admiring the family picture, with him, my mom, Reiko and my grandparents in it, on my desk.
"You know..." He began. "I once asked a similar question to my own father, know what he said?"
I shook my head.
"He told me a story."
"It's a story about two men. Both were the best of friends. One day, they went swimming in the sea together. One of them went too far out from the coast and got swept away by the strong waves. He's crying for help time and time again, while the other man got back on the beach safety. He contemplates about going after his friend to save him, but he's not a really good swimmer. He might drown if he tried to go after him, and his friend will die anyways. On the other hand, if he ran to find some help right now, he could return with someone who could save his friend, but there's no guarantee that he'll be back in time, and even if he is successful, his friend would've blamed him for leaving him behind. If it were you, what choice would you choose?"
I stayed quiet. This isn't an easy dilemma at all.
If I were him, I would've go after him, but there's a risk that I might drown before I could save him, and he would've gone anyways.
If I ran to find help, I maybe too late to save him.
"Any sane person would've gone to find help..." My dad said. "But what if by some miracle, you go after him, knowing the risks that may cost both of you your lives, and actually pull it off. What if by some miracle, you can save him?"
"I don't understand, dad."
"The point of this story, is that there are certain time hard decisions must be made, and no choice guarantee any satisfied outcomes. You would have to go through it anyways, because doing nothing will do nothing good to you. If there's a more risky way but will result in a better outcome so do it! Even if we failed, we failed knowing that we're willing to bet everything we've loved to do what's right, what's good for you and your loved ones..."
He suddenly stood up, before pulling something out of his pocket.
"Let me tell you one story of my own, son. Before I got here, I sidetracked a bit to America, and found this one good movie showing in the cinema..."
He showed a ticket, a movie ticket. I inspected it.
Saving Private Ryan is the name of the movie.
"What's it about, dad?"
"It's a story about a squad of soldiers that got send behind enemy lines to do an impossible mission; to find and bring back one soldier whose brothers are all killed in combat, leaving him the sole surviving son of his family. The higher ups ordered the squad to bring the man back home at any cost, but when they finally found him, he's with a handful of soldiers who was ordered to protect a little town with high strategic importance, and a numerically superior enemy is heading toward this town to take it. Losing it could mean losing the war, so he decided to stay with his men to protect the town at any cost. At this point, the squad that was sent to recover him have two choices: Just leave him and his men to their own fates and told their superiors that they cannot find him or that he's already dead, or help the man in protecting the town at the risk of being killed themselves and losing the town anyways."
"It sounded similar to the previous story you told me, dad."
"Yeah, and you know what they choose? They choose to stay and fight with him. Of all the soldiers in battle, only three survived, including the soldier the squad was sent to protect. They succeeded in doing the impossible, at the cost of their own lives."
"That's just tragic, dad."
"Right? What I'm trying to say, son, is that if there's anything you could do to save your friends, do it. Do what you feels right, even if it's not good for you."
He stood up, preparing to leave the room.
"And oh, about your question, if I were you, I would've done anything in my power to save my friends, Kouichi, even if they're still alive with you, because if it made me feel better, then I will do it."
And then he closed the door, leaving me with my own thoughts.
"Lalala! How are we doing today, Kouichi?!"
Damn it, not you again.
"You're in a bad mood today? I thought you'll be more than happy to find your friends and family all alive again!"
Yes, it did feel good! But...
But I didn't deserve it...
"What are you talking about? You already provided me with the means to stop the calamity, and I'm already doing that as we speak! Even in my own timeline, the one where 'you' came from, you went to find that Akira Matsumoto and sent him back to death for good, stopping the calamity at last! Everything's going smoothly, and you got everything you wanted, what more could you ask for!?"
I wanted to save my friends.
"You already did, Kouichi."
I mean by myself, damn it! I wanted to see it by my own eyes that they are truly safe! That what I've done...what we all did...made a difference.
"You don't have to do this, Kouichi. There's no reason for you to go back to that nightmare again."
But I have to! I wanted to save everyone, by myself. I wanted to...save her. Save Izumi...
"Damn it, please! Don't do this! I'm trying to help you!"
Stop! I don't wanna listen anymore! Just send me back! And I'll do everything right this time...
"All right, I gave up. I'll send you back...to the time where you're still in the hospital before the school starts. 'You' in this timeline will not remember anything prior your arrival, he'll just be the Kouichi who's currently dating Izumi Akazawa in the school life of his, and is preparing for his test tomorrow."
"You do realize that even if you go back and do everything you was supposed to do, there's still someone you couldn't save? Your parents, your aunt, victims of the previous calamities, do you really wanted that?"
As long as I'm sure I could save my friends for good, I can accept anything.
I've come too far to just stop now.
"Just one little question before I send you back. Just what is it that you don't like about this timeline?"
I didn't say I don't like it. I'm just saying that...that I didn't earn it.
I didn't save my friends myself. I watched them died twice without doing anything.
I need to earn this happiness, by myself.
It's something hard to explain, but I had to do this.
"Heh, you're still the same old naive man I've knew and loved for my whole life, daddy..."
What the hell?
Hey! What do you mean by that!?
Izumi!? Is that you!?
I woke up, sweating, on the hospital bed.
I looked at the clock.
10:12 PM, 1998/04/23
So, I'm back here again.
But, it's still two days earlier than last time.
That means...my friends, Izumi, Yukari and Kazami aren't here yet.
And Fujioka...Mei's sister...she's still alive.
I've still got a chance.
I looked around the room, it was still during the night. The room is dark, but I'm not afraid of dark anymore.
I quickly got up from the bed despite my condition, before grabbing my coat and get out of the room immediately.
It took some efforts to avoid the late night shift guards at the hospital, but I finally managed to get out of the hospital without being seen. I bought some tape cassettes from the nearby 24/7 convenience store, before rushing back home.
I figured out that, if I failed, then at least my friends should know what they have to do to save themselves, so I planned to record everything I've been through in the cassettes and sending them to Izumi tomorrow, while I go deal with Akira Matsumoto.
If I'm lucky, I send him back to death, and doing the same thing with the Extra one of this year...Reiko-san.
It's scary just thinking about it...but I don't really feel anything anymore.
I've killed many people closed to me so many times now.
But this isn't the time to think, that moment's long pass by me now, it's time to act.
There's still time until tomorrow.
The next day, I finished recording everything in the tapes and went to school in my normal clothes, because why not?
Nobody knows that I'm out of hospital yet, so I need to be quick.
My grandpa's old 'Lifesaver' rested firmly in my left hand, and the tapes along with the player in another.
I don't care what will happen to me after this. If I get arrested, the polices can't prove that I killed anybody because Akira is already dead, and if he's already dead, nobody would remember him.
Thirty minutes, I rushed into familiar school hall, and up the stairs.
First floor, second floor, third floor...
I stopped by at the third floor, before turning into the hallway, with only one destination in mind.
I slid the door open strongly, and saw everybody inside the room.
Izumi was there, Naoya was there, Mei was there...even Yomiyama Misaki.
Makoto yelled. Everybody inside the room turned to look at me.
"Izumi, take this!" I threw the tapes to Izumi, who's still sitting at her desk staring at me, confused. "Just listen to them and do as they said! It'll help you stop the calamity!" I shouted as loud as possible.
And then I started running...
Several students from the other classes must've heard me, as they began walking out of their classrooms to see what's going on. I ran passed them, not caring anything.
"HEY! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE!?" Masato-sensei walked out of his room. He stood in my way, preparing to catch me.
But at this point, nothing fazed me anymore.
I pointed the gun at him.
"GET OUT OF THE WAY IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DIE!"
Damn it, this feels so good! I always wanted to do this!
Masato quickly dived sideways while I ran passed him, the stairs to the fourth floor is in front of me.
Damn it, I'm starting to get tired, my chest's getting hurt.
But I finally reached it, the principal's room is in front of me.
And I kicked the door open.
He was there, Mr. Seito, no, Akira Matsumoto...he's sitting in front of me, sipping his coffee.
"Hey? What's with all the-"
Die, you son of a bitch.
BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG
All six bullets came out from my gun and straight into Akira Matsumoto's body.
That bastard never got a chance.
I've did it. I've killed that bastard, now the only one left is...
"Kouichi! What are you doing here!?" A familiar voice spoke.
I turned back at the door, and saw Ms. Mikami standing there, along with probably the entire Class 3-3 behind her, including Izumi.
"Ms. Mikami, I can explain about this..." I slowly said.
I was careless for only one second.
I felt a sharp pain in my chest.
I looked down, and saw my clothes strained with blood.
"NOOOOOO!" Ms. Mikami screamed out, along with several students behind her.
What. The. Hell?!
I turned back, and saw Akira lying on the floor, bloodied, but still alive.
His shaking left hand is holding a pistol.
Akira struggled for a bit to fire another shot, but he ran out of strength before that.
His body slowly disappeared, as I slowly fell to the floor.
Ms. Mikami caught me before I hit the ground, but the pain in my chest's getting worse.
Damn it, I messed up again, didn't I?
Izumi and Mei are the firsts to rush toward me, while other students watched in awe as the body of the principal they've never seen before mysteriously vanished in front of them.
Ow, my chest. That bastard must've got me in the heart...
My breathing's starting to get slower. I heard mumblings, somebody talking. My vision's blurring...
So this is what death feels like...
I slowly closed my eyes, with the last sight being Izumi, Mei and Ms. Mikami...Reiko.
Izumi? Is that you?
"...You did it...you did it, daddy...You really did it..."
"I love you, daddy...rest...everything's okay now..."
"...Patient's condition is stable now..."
"...I can't believe she just disappeared!..."
"...This is nothing short of miracle..."
"...Still needed some blood transfusion..."
"Kouichi, can you hear me?"
Where am I? Heaven?
I'm already dead?
I'm...lying on something.
I slowly opened my eyes.
Hospital room, again?
I looked to my left, and saw Izumi Akazawa sitting next to me.
"You're...you're alive! Thank god!"
Izumi yelled up, and before I got any chance to react, she hugged me tightly.
"DAMN IT, DAMN IT, DAMN IT! DON'T DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AGAIN, YOU IDIOT!"
She cried out, I can feel her tears running down my hospital clothes.
"Yeah..." She sobbed. Her voice sounds so cute.
"How could I be still alive? I got shot in the heart..."
Izumi pulled away from me. She took a deep breath, before finally spoke.
"It's Ms. Mikami, Kouichi..."
"What happened to her?"
"I...after we all listened to the tapes you gave me, the tapes that you recorded all the explanations we needed to...to stop all of this. Ms. Mikami, I mean Reiko...she..."
"What did she do? She already knew she's the dead person, didn't she?"
"Yes, Kouichi. And she...she wanted to save you. She said that if she really is dead, and must be send back to death to stop the calamity, then the last thing she did should be saving you. And...and then...she...donated her heart to you..."
"She did what!?"
"She donated her heart to you! I heard the doctors said, after they removed the heart from her body, she just vanished in front of their eyes! It's unbelievable!"
I tore my hospital shirt open, revealing my upper body. There's traces of a large vertical scar on my chest.
I put my hand on it. It hurt a little bit, but I can felt a rhythm coming out from it...
Realization started to kick into me.
"Her...her heart...is in me..."
Izumi nodded, she's still crying. She also put her left hand on my chest.
"Yes, Kouichi...she saved you...she saved us all..."
I...I don't know what to say.
I...can't believe this is happening to me.
We both stayed silent. Five minutes, maybe? Maybe it's even ten.
"So it's all true...what you've said in the tapes..." Izumi began. "With Ms. Mikami and that Akira guy went back to death, the calamity will stop permanently."
"Did you check the photos I sent with you along with the tapes?" I said. "I've attached a photo of her while she was sleeping last night, and another group photo of Class 3-3 in the year 1972 with Akira Matsumoto in it. They should be both gone from the photos by now."
"Yeah, they did." Izumi confirmed. "And it seems you were telling the truth, there's no deaths occurred in the town for three months now."
"I've been out for that long?"
Izumi nodded. "Yes, you lost too much blood and went into coma. Even after the heart transfer is complete, you're still brain-dead. It took some blood transfusion to help you regain consciousness, and even then, it took three freaking months until you recover!" She explained, before handed out her right arm to me.
"D-don't tell me..."
She nodded again.
Izumi...transferred her blood to help me...
Oh god...as if I don't have enough shock for one day.
"Damn it, Izumi...You don't have to do this!" I told her.
"I did what I did because I wanted to do this, Kouichi." She replied. "Besides, if what you said about other timelines in the tapes were true, then you don't really have to come here. You came back because you wanted to save us...and I thank you for that. This is the least I can do for you."
Heh, you got me, Izumi.
"...Thank you, Izumi. You've saved me..." I said.
"It's nothing, Kouichi. You saved us first."
I looked outside, at the sight of the town of Yomiyama. It's as beautiful as ever.
"Mei and Yomiya sent their regards, they wanted to thank you that Fujioka, Mei's sister, 's condition is getting better."
So I did save one more life, the life of my wife's sister.
"I still can't believe that Akira person. He tricked years and years of students into his pawns!? That asshole. Good riddance if you asked me."
"Couldn't agree more, Izumi."
"Anyways, thanks again for doing this, Kouichi. We really appreciated it. You've saved our lives."
"Stop thanking me already! You made me feel like dying." I jokingly said, which made Izumi let out a giggle.
"It's a shame you had to miss three months' worth of school, Kouichi. I'm sorry, but Kubodera-sensei said that you need to repeat the year."
"But don't worry! I'll come visiting! Maybe I'll even help you do the homework!"
"Heh, I'd love that."
"So, how come I didn't get arrested yet? I mean, I brought a freaking gun to the school! And deliberately murdered a man in front of you guys!"
"Hey, you said it yourself. Technically, he's already dead, so that didn't count, and when we learned the truth from your tapes, we decided to cover up all of it and didn't tell the polices. Officially, there was no principal in office at Yomi North for twenty five years now." She explained.
"That sounds hard to believe."
"You know, almost everything in your tapes were hard to believe, too. But there's nothing else we could believe into, so I guess we have to go with your advices, right?"
"No kidding. But there's still something that's bothering me." I said.
"And that is?"
"You know, if Reiko's heart is within me, and I'm supposed to be dead, didn't that technically made me the Extra one? I should've died when Akira shot me, and the heart inside me came from a person who's already dead!"
Izumi chuckled. "Who knows? Nobody died these past three months, I've already told you. If the calamity is still exist, somebody should've died by now."
"You had a point."
"Besides, if somebody starts dying because of you, I could just kill you anytime." She jokingly said.
"Now that's a bad idea."
And then we both laughed happily. I felt a warm feeling in my chest when I see Izumi happy like that...
Nurse Sanae came check it to me from time to time. The situation right now is like when Izumi was shot and I stayed with her overnight at the hospital, only this time it is me on the patient's bed and Izumi sat beside me. We all shared some great stories together.
A month passed by with my grandparents visiting me from time to time. Without aunt Reiko, I'm now the only person capable of taking care of them so they need to make sure that their grandson is all right. My friends from Class 3-3 like Naoya, Yuuya, Mei, Yomiya and Yukari also visited me, too.
So far, nothing bad has happened yet.
There's some bad news, though. The doctors informed me that even though Reiko's heart is in perfect health, my life expectancy is shortened because of the heart condition. It's the heart of a mature woman in a young boy's body, so obviously the two doesn't mix very well. The maximum time I had left is forty years, meaning I'll probably die in my fifties.
Well, there's still a long time left...
And with another month passed, I finally got discharged from hospital. My father moved back from India to take care of me and my grandparents.
I went back to school to start my new year as a student in a new Class 3-3. I've met new friends, all of them never heard about the calamity before in their lives, and I'm not planning to tell them. We're getting along just fine, with Izumi checking in on me from time to time to make sure I'm blending in all right.
It's just...a little hard studying in this class without Ms. Mikami...
Eventually, we both started dating, with Mei and Yomiya went on a double date together at the local amusement park one day. We all have a great time.
For once in my life, I finally felt at peace.
Now this is what I've been fighting for. This is the happiness that I've earned.
I shared my first kiss with Izumi on that day...
One night, I got contacted by the mysterious voice from the future again.
Wha!? Damn it! Stop doing that already!
"Teehee, I just love teasing you, dad."
So, will you tell me already about this 'daddy' business about? It's been five freaking months you've been out of contact with me!
"Sorry, sorry! I just don't wanna ruin the moment between you and Izumi-chan, daddy! You two just looked so cute together!"
Not the point! And you didn't feel anything at all seeing your father dated with another woman that isn't your mom?
"Not really, dad. You named me after her, remember? I don't have no quarrels with her, seeing that she's the one who motivated you into doing all of this in the first place. Her death gives you the reason to do whatever it takes to stop the calamity. Without that, we wouldn't be here."
So, that's that. And what about this 'Dr. Mei Misaki' business? She's the one who made all this 'memories transfer' possible?
"Yeah. My mother, your wife, argh, it's weird to describe her like this... Anyways, she was studying her doctor's degree in Physics, probably because she told me she was interested in 'seeing things others couldn't'. She came up the concept of sending memories back into your alternate past selves, in order to experiment on how to create an alternate timeline, where we could change every made decisions without any risks posed to the present or future."
You're joking, right? Your mother never seem like someone who's interested in this kind of thing.
"I don't know. She said she got the 'idea' from her dream, almost ten years ago, I think, telling me that she wanted to fix the mistakes she have made in the past. From then, she devoted herself into studying to become one of the most famous physicist in Japan."
Whoa, that's some achievement.
"Yeah, I became her assistant when I finished high school."
Seriously? You must be pretty smart.
"I...wanted to thank you, dad."
"For being there for me, helping me whatever I can, even if you're having your own problems yourself. It took tremendous courage to get through what you experienced. All that...slaughter...and you made it pass all of them."
I...I thank you, too, for helping me to be here, helping me achieving all of this.
"Heh, a family must always stick together, right? Like friends do."
"So, it's time I need to go, dad. I'll come visiting, don't worry."
Yeah, see you again, Izumi.
"See you, dad. I love you."
Love you too.
Thirty years later...
"Dr. Sakakibara! Dr. Sakakibara!"
Damn it, and I was having a good nap!
It was Hisao, my assistant, who's also my oldest son.
"What is it, Hisao...I've already fixed the damn computer. It's working fine now!"
"Come on, doctor. I mean, dad! Will you just be cooperative for once!?"
"Heh, looks like your dad never changes, Hisao-kun." Izumi, Hisao's mother and my lovely wife, jokingly said.
"Chill down, Nii-chan. It's not like dad will ended up divide by zero and caused the universe to collapse or anything." Hisako, Hisao's twin sister, said sarcastically.
"And I don't even have a clue of what the heck you all are talking about..." Azumi, my youngest daughter, who's also the only one who didn't study in the field of Physics, said in an annoyed voice.
I lazily got up from my messed up desk. It's been forty freaking years since I've been working on this thing.
I walked to the gigantic machine in the center of the room, with a seat stood right next to it, and a certain black-haired woman with two different eyes sitting on it.
"All right, Mei. You're ready for this?"
Mei just nodded. Heh, as expected from her.
Even after married Yomiyama Misaki, she still retained her old usual quiet feature.
"Target: Mei Misaki, Timeline: 01, Memories loaded completely." She said.
It just clicked in to me all those years ago, after Izumi...my daughter 'Izumi' said that Mei from the original timeline got the idea from her 'dream'. I realized that this must be it. I was born to do this.
I didn't try to mess up the timelines by myself, because well...I might really ended up divide by zero or something.
Let's just leave it for Mei to handle that...
And so I pressed the button.
"You always wanted to see things others couldn't, right, Mei?" I asked her.
She just smiled in response. "I already saw what me and Izumi longed to see in you all these years, Kouichi."
"And what is it, I wonder?"
Mei Misaki slowly closed her eyes. Only one word escaped her tiny mouth.
Editor's note: And so it ends, a story of mind screws and bad grammars LOL.
So Kouichi managed to save almost everyone, including all of his friends. The bad news is, he's bound to die before he hits sixty. Damn... And Reiko, Ritsuko, Ryoko are still dead, because their deaths took place before the main story. There's no way we could change that.
And about Saving Private Ryan, remember that the story took place in 1998, the same year the movie itself came out in July, so I decided to make it a (somewhat) motivation plot point for Kouichi. It may seem out of place, but...why not!? It's also one of my favorite movies...with all my favorite characters dead...just like Another.
I told you this will be bittersweet.
It's not the best story, I'll admit. It has some big flaws that I wanted to correct so badly, but then I realized it's time to move on. There's stories I haven't finish yet and it's been a long time since I updated them. So this is the end of it.
Thank you for all your reviews, I'm really appreciate it! I promised to write more good stories later! Including both Kouichi x Izumi and Kouichi x Mei shippers because I loved both of them! Maybe even a threesome will work out nicely!
See you later!
PS. Another and all its original character and source materials belonged to Yukito Ayatsuji, and Saving Private Ryan belonged to Steven Spielberg. I don't own any of them.